Avete #4 – Experimental Magic
I am not very experimental in my magic. At least, I don’t tend to come up with any interesting new ideas myself. I love trying out other people’s ideas, though, and am highly encouraged to find that so many other magicians are willing to put themselves and their reputations on the line to try new things and then write about them.
I’m proud to say that we have a few such magicians right here on Rending the Veil. Taylor Ellwood has just finished up a book that sounds amazing, entitled Inner Alchemy (Megalithica Books). Curious about the spiritual lives and magical functions of your own neurotransmitters and hormones? So is Taylor, but instead of just wondering about it, he studied long and hard and threw himself into the Work like a true Inner Planes explorer.
Lupa, also, is certainly active in the field and always open for a new idea. She developed an entire system all her own using snippets of various totemic paradigms and shamanic methods gleaned from anthropology and New Age materials, all mixed with her own ingenuity and quickly broadening range of experiences. Her first book, Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone (Megalithica Books) is not only a manual of real animal and totemic magic, but also a lasting testament to her efforts. I believe that FFBB will eventually be looked upon as a classic by totemic Western magicians just as Condensed Chaos is viewed by pragmatic magicians of all backgrounds and traditions.
Donald Tyson was one of the first occult authors that I myself encountered in my local bookstore. While Mr. Tyson and I may not agree on a number of points of approach to magic, that is irrelevant when considering the depth of his influence on my point of view on experimentalism and taking a new approach to an old subject. His books Enochian Magic for Beginners and Tetragrammaton (both from Llewellyn Publications) are excellent examples of Tyson’s willingness to reevaluate a case long since thought to be closed by the majority of seekers.
My own High Priest, Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, is in the process of editing a book (also from Megalithica Books) entitled Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick. My Coven brother Frater Griff and I have been privileged to be asked to experiment with and test out many of the rituals presented in that book. Any beginner to Western ceremonial magic could have no better textbook than The Disciple’s Guide. The ritual methods are demanding and challenging, but definitely beautiful and effective. I look forward also to the publication of Frater Barrabbas’s magnum opus, written many years ago as a textbook for “intermediate”1 magicians, The Pyramid of Powers. Frater Barrabbas is also notable for his acknowledgment of the importance of an energy structure which he calls “The Rose Ankh Vortex.”2
It would be close to sinful if I did not acknowledge some of the unsung experimental magicians of the past. Franz Bardon immediately springs to mind. He likely did not invent many of the exercises given in his most important book, Initiation into Hermetics, but he almost certainly put them together in their currently known forms and structures and perfected them through decades of training and teaching. It is my opinion that no magician, regardless of their tradition, can be without IIH.3
William G. Gray simply does not receive enough attention. The techniques and ideas described in Inner Traditions of Magic and Magical Ritual Methods are splendid! A thorough study of these two books, along with personal work with Gray’s concepts, will open up many new avenues for group and solitary ritual structures.
Dr. Israel Regardie is best known for his publications and explanations of the system of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. While that is his major contribution, he also made some fascinating attempts in alchemy (though only late in life did he realize what he had been doing wrong) and came up with some unique perspectives on the psychological and healing uses for Golden Dawn magic.
Dr. Georg Lomer is a name that very few people know, and that’s a real shame. His methods, described fully in his book Seven Hermetic Letters, are a bit ascetic for most people but serve as a beautiful method of spiritual development along Hermetic lines. Franz Bardon himself used to hand out copies of the Hermetic letters to his own students. That’s some pretty high praise!
Let me stretch back a bit further. Ficino, Mirandola, and Paracelsus may be historically important figures, but modern occultists hardly pay any attention to them. Ficino and Mirandola both practiced a kind of Orphic Tantra. The symbols of various spiritual agencies (mostly angels) were used as meditative foci, along with music and poetry, to bring the practitioner’s spirit in line with the higher spheres. A magician of this method would try to find illumination through meditation and intense prayer, the ultimate goal of which was to internalize the powers of those angels. While these ideas may seem old hat to us, it is only because such men as Ficino and Mirandola kept them alive. Paracelsus is best known as an alchemist and healer. He was controversial in his day for, among other things, recommending the use of methods similar to Ficino’s along with more “traditional” forms of medicine (tinctures, poltices, and the other standards).
There are many more to be explored and rediscovered, if we only think to look! I will close by encouraging all of my fellow magicians, whether Neophyte or Adept, to let your imaginations soar. Often some of the greatest ideas come from just saying, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if . . .”
- I use quotations because Barrabbas’s ideas of intermediate magic are very similar to everybody else’s ideas of extremely advanced magic!
- I have become quite enamored of this structure, and will soon be writing an article for Rending the Veil on the Vortex and some of its uses.
- Initiation into Hermetics, The Practice of Magical Evocation, and The Key to the True Kabbalah, in addition to some supplementary material, are all available in new translations from Merkur Publications. Many thanks to Taylor Ellwood and Frater Griff for pointing me toward Bardon in the first place!
©2007 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey.