DMK has an article up which links to his LBRP writeups also. While a lot of people in my own ceremonial magic circle slam on Llewelyn publishing, DMK writes for them and I typically like his stuff. He currently published a piece called Magic Pills. There’s a lot which I like in it, but I think he’s neglected the Middle Pillar so to speak. You can completely ignore his opening about being butthurt about buying a first generation iPad and skip down to “The Magick Pill Excuse”.
What sort of gets me is the tone of the piece. Modern Magic (Kraigs MO) is a fantastic book. I should re-read it since it’s been years since I’ve cracked it open. I actually just bought it for my kindle*, too, since my softcover version is well worn. However Kraig himself offers a parallel path to the magical experience, which is what he seems to rail against in the article.
On one hand, this is an extremely valid stance – whether someone believes in the empirical existence of Archangels or not does not negate the fact that people have been worshiping them since preChristian times. If they really are archangels – great! If they’re not archangels, they’re going to be extremely well fed egregores. This sort of jives with the present notion in ceremonial magick where different spirits can present different masks to different people, and it’s the same spirit under the mask.
On the other hand, there’s a serious objection here. Voodoo, for instance, is an actual tradition. How people practice voodoo today (barring Loas from the Lesser Key) is how people played with alchemy way back when. There’s things. There’s occult virtues to those things. Combining and working with those things not only changes things around them but changes the operator themselves. This is straight up Alchemy from Agrippa and classical thinking. When we call it voodoo it tends to get a look down the nose from the Ceremonial Magic guys and when Voodoo people hear about how actual Alchemy works, they go “Oh well they got it from somewhere else”. Well, sure, but so did the Loas from from the Lesser Key. Lets not have a dick waiving contest here, there’s a really important concept in the middle: People do what works.
Someone might find Wicca works for them. Great! Go be Wiccan! Meatspin your way to the summerlands! Someone might find voodoo works for them. Great! Go try to track down alligator paws! (Do alligators have paws? I have no idea.) Someone might find GD style ceremonial magic works for them. Great! Go be a Golden Dawn magician and make 20 different wands! Someone might find the OTO/AA style magic works for them. Great! Go spend the next year trying to figure out what Crowley cribbed! But that also brings up another point – not all traditions have the same depth. Wicca, voodoo, GD, OTO/AA – those all at some point loop back to the original grimoires (or they should) which loop back to the original Abrahamic religions at some point. Or they should if someone is really putting in the effort to think about where this all came from. Voodoo in particular is really unabashed about working with whatever works – eclectic Wiccan operators tend to be doing Voodoo sorts of work without even realizing it.
What Denning and Phillips (Aurum Solis) coined really nicely in their book Planetary Magic was this notion of “power deeps”. Really they’re talking about the sepheriot without using the word. This notion is why chaos magic tends to fall flat, but why well-organized and understood systems seem to work despite the best efforts of their dogma. Completely excluding the power-deeps from a tradition just isn’t going to have the same punch as putting a mask on something people have worshipped for thousands of years.
Take Superman. His emblem is red and yellow, he is the “man of steel”, he changes his form. From a purely chaos magic perspective, I could light a candle in front of my Superman statue and then have no fear of bullets or gravity. I think evolutionary pressures would quickly weed out this kind of thinking from magicians. On the other hand, if we try to hang the mask of superman onto a power-deep, I would probably look at Geburah. Now instead of lighting a candle, we light five candles, or one red five sided candle, or five five-sided red candles or some combination thereof, and we see the Scandinavian God is listed as “Thor” (also strong, can fly), the Christian notion is “Christ coming to judge the world” (Clark Kent works for a newspaper, commentary on the current state of American media aside), the precious stone is “Ruby” where red is the flashing color to green kryptonite, the perfume is Tobacco, which is a given for how much time he spends getting chewed out by his cigar chomping boss, and so on. It might actually work to worship Superman in this way. What would we expect to get out of it? Mars like effects. The power-deep, the thing we acknowledge as the root of the thing we’re addressing, is still Geburah.
The important take away here is “find magical truth”, then “access magical truth”. The rituals themselves were never static, nor should they be. They were simply the magician writing down his thoughts on how to tap into things. If someone thinks the tree of life is fantastic (I do), then they should be trying on different masks to figure out how to best access that power-deep. If someone thinks the Goetia are the best things since sliced bread, then they should be doing things like reading OTA materials and the Gnostic Voodoo Workbook or whatever. If someone thinks the Enochian entities get stuff done, then they should be reading Dees notes, trying Golden Dawn versions of Enochian and/or LMD’s Enochian Vision Magic (Enochian shamanism).
Go out there, screw stuff up, light candles for superman. Tell me how it goes.
*Amazon recently has been putting sub-par books into the Kindle Store where things like Tyson’s Three Books are actually just a poor version of the copy on Esoteric Texts. This isn’t one of them, however.