Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rough draft new ebook

Magick Works!


Like most of us, you no doubt have struggles in life. Don’t we all? Money, family, jobs, health – in this era of Facebook and Global Warming, the eternal problems of daily life continue to challenge us just as much as they did our grandparents 50 years ago or 100 or 1,000. Sure, every day brings wonderful advances on all fronts: better medicine, newer technology, more and more developments. But the world is still full of hungry people. We live in a land of plenty, yet even for those of us with jobs, homes, and the so-called amenities of 21st century life, life remains a struggle in many ways.

If you are like most people, you probably tell yourself you have no right to be unhappy, just as you tell a child to clean its plate at the dinner table because there are children elsewhere without a plate to clean or anything on it.

Which is true. At the same time, trying to guilt yourself out of what is a real-and-present low-grade fever of misery only works for a little while at a time. The truth is, we all sense something wrong with the general tenor of our lives.

Shouldn’t there be more to life than going to work, paying bills, surfing the internet, eating and sleeping and watching the days of your life slip away like the tide going out to sea?

Since childhood I have felt the answer was Hell Yes, there ought to be more. Up till our teenage years I think we all instinctively know this, at which point most of us are fed a big load of horse crap about what’s important in life and what isn’t; faced with the “serious business” of growing up, so-called, most people cave in like a bad soufflé and buy into the whole set of life-goals pressed upon them by the “grown-ups,” which leads in turn to replicating their artificial forms of adulthood and happy so-called life for another sad generation.

Up to that point change has always been a huge constant in our young lives on every level. We mature physically, and due to our educational system, regardless of its comparative merits, we are fed a regular diet of new information up till the day we quite school or graduate.

Beyond that point, change – which continues till the day we die whether we work at it or not – becomes a much more random set of circumstances.

This little book is an introduction in how to continue to grow and change, but in a happier, freer way than you’ve previously considered. To quote the late great Al G. Manning, “If it’s not fun, I’m not going!” Many of us probably don’t feel we have quite that luxury in our lives, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, for each one of you.

Chapter One: What is Magick?

Humanity has had a relationship with the spiritual world in one way or another since we all lived in caves. Although religion occupies a different social space than pursuits with names like “witchcraft” or “sorcery” or “hoodoo” or fill-in-the-blank, the former – religion – is, like magick, simply a cultural attempt to organize and control what we all sense it Out There. Unknown forces, in other words. Forces we must appease, according to some people, forces we can negotiate with or control, according to others.

So one answer to the question of why we should attempt to communicate with the spirit world/practice magick – and even to change our lives for the better through this contact – is the fact it’s part of being human.

But isn’t it dangerous, you ask? Aren’t there things that shouldn’t be meddled with? Isn’t the occult a bad thing?

Getting out of the bed in the morning is dangerous. You could get hit by a bus walking to work. And yes, there are probably some things that shouldn’t be meddled with. You shouldn’t attempt brain surgery without training, nor mess with unexploded WWII ordnance. And that may be true in magick as well, but you are putting the cart waaaay before the horse worrying about that right now.

Naturally some people will be drawn to the “forbidden” and “dark” aspects of magick, which is to say, they’d prefer hollow skulls over silver chalices, black cloaks and inverted pentagrams over the other kind. They’d rather truck with “demons” than “angels” etc.

I myself have tried a bit of everything. A few years back I spent most of a year living in New Orleans and became very interested in New Orleans-style voodoo, which is similar but not the same as Haitian voodoo. (That’s a story for another book.) Bottom line, ever since then, about five years all told, I have been working with the spirits of voodoo as best I understand them. They are called Loa or Lwa. I enjoy them, I communicate with them fairly easily, and they work with me.

Even far away from the cultural and magickal center of New Orleans, even working in a solitary fashion with spirits who traditionally are part of groups (voodoo is very much a group form of spirituality or religion), I find the Loa effective and helpful friends to have.

In magick, the different styles and types of occultism are often referred to as “magickal currents.” (Incidentally, I use the word “magick” as opposed to “magic” in part out of convenience – I was brought up through Thelema, and Crowley added the final “-k” not only to distinguish conjuring from tricks with cards or etc., but also because, he said, adding the final “-k” gave the word more significance cabbalistically.) Western ceremonial magick based on the Key of Solomon, the Goetia, the book of Abra-melin, all constitute a current. Gardnerian witchcraft is a current, as non-Gardnerian “traditional” witchcraft is a set distinct separate currents. Some people work with Egyptian-based forces (e.g. Thelema, Crowley’s religion). That is a current.

Different currents often use different terms for the same thing, but if you dig around and compare, you’ll come to understand the same things are being talked about. Labels are just labels. As the old science fiction giant Ted Sturgeon once said, “Taxonomy is no substitute for understanding.” Just because you know what to call things doesn’t mean you get it.

I enjoy working with spirit entities for a couple reasons. For one thing, I have a continual sense I am growing on a metaphysical level as a person by doing so.

For another thing, they help you in a thousand little ways on a regular basis if you have or develop a good working relationship with them. As Al G. Manning put it, “People who achieve their short-term goals go on from success to success, and they are far better off than those who ignore the small while dreaming of greatness.”

Spirits are amazingly helpful on this level.

There are many people in your life who might misunderstand your interest in the occult (aka the “esoteric” or “metaphysical”) and react negatively, regardless of the details. That is their right I guess. On the other hand, you aren’t required to tell everybody you know every thought that goes through your head. So just shut up and do what you like.

The Four Powers of the Sphinx – to Know, to Will, to Dare and to Keep Silent – are an important element of Thelema, the occult religion invented by Aleister Crowley, who took the idea from the French occultist Eliphas Levi. To make “magick work,” you are advised to know what you are doing, to have the will and daring to see it through, and to keep silent. Don’t talk your energy out. Any negative feedback will only weaken your results.


Often the best clue that you have managed to open a communications link with the spirit realm is “simple coincidence.”

Everyone has experienced coincidence through their lives. I know I have and surely you have too. These incidents usually elicit a nervous laugh at most and that’s all.

Let me tell you a secret: There ain’t no such animal as a “coincidence.”

Here’s why: Coincidence is a function of your mental filters. When I worked for 13 months in an aluminum wheel-casting factory, I quickly developed the annoying/humorous habit of spotting wheels everywhere. I couldn’t not see them. They leapt out at me.  I could walk around a parking lot anywhere and tell you the stats on every rim I saw. I noticed them immediately and in fact couldn’t help it. My mental filters had adjusted to my work. After I quit the job, they adjusted back to their prior state. I never notice wheel rims now.

If it weren’t for these mental filters, we wouldn’t be able to function in modern life. When we all lived in caves, we developed such filters as a survival mechanism. We could focus on the animal we were hunting, or for listening for sounds of enemies, or whatever we needed. But there is so much data flung at us every waking moment in modern life, if we didn’t filter out 99% of it we’d go crazy.

Of all the world of phenomena around us, the whirl-dance of energy that is unmediated reality, our brains segregate and pigeonhole what we want or need to live.  The clock ticking, the sounds of traffic in the distance, all that exterior stuff rarely reaches our waking “normal” consciousness.

Our five “normal” senses mediate reality for us if nothing else does. What we get is what gets through. We learn as infants how to process the information coming to us through our senses, and as we get older, and as I have said before, we are quickly trained in what else to filter out if we want to be functioning members of this culture. No more imaginary playmates. Instead we get chores and homework, what is considered appropriate, what’s acceptable to be a good little boy or girl, and we imitate that and lose our connection with magick.

For most people, these filters only change when they absolutely must. I am talking about everything from the trivial – my sensitivity to aluminum wheel rims, which was a vocational problem – to the deeply profound. Tragedy can cause this to happen to us, or profound emotional shock of any kind.

Unfortunately, the changes that occur in these cases rarely have a positive effect on our lives overall. A broken heart, the death of a loved one, anger over a lost job, fear – these things can cause a shift in how we look at the world, but usually it makes us a worse person. We learn the wrong lessons from our “negative” experiences – someone breaks your heart and you stop dating. Someone dies and you become a hypochondriac or deeply depressed about your own mortality.

If you have begun to attempt to communicate with the spirit realm, pay attention to coincidences. Carl Jung defined “synchronicity” as “meaningful coincidence.” Just as events may be grouped by cause – you neglect to pay the electric bill and they turn off the power – events may also be grouped by meaning.

What is happening is that the spirits often communicate with you via synchronicity, either as a response to a specific request, or, as often seems to be the case to me, just to show they are listening and have a sense of humor.

Magick works like that. Weird little things start to happen. Nothing harmful or negative, just stuff that shouldn’t normally happen by “normal coincidence.” It catches your attention. It’s one way they say hi.

You have to do two things when this starts happening. First, understand that this is one of the main ways spirits connect. Believe wholeheartedly and consciously that that’s exactly what is happening. You are being connected. Second, pay close attention to that feeling you get when you realize you are being tuned into the spirits. That frisson of thrill on the back of your neck. Remember that feeling, and train yourself to associate that feeling with successful spirit contact. It’s somewhat a Pavlov’s Dog situation: associate the feeling with the magick and the magick with the feeling. One prompts the other after awhile.

This has been said a hundred thousand times in many different ways, but let me say it like this: You are like a person with a 100-room mansion who chooses to live in one small cupboard near the side exit where the rain gutters leak, when you could be lord of the manor. You are like someone with a new Maserati who doesn’t know it has more than one gear – low.

Learning to widen your spiritual lenses will help you find second gear that much sooner, while push you to explore the next room in your mansion, the rest of the floor, even to ascend the stairs to the mysteries above.

That’s how magick works. You’re always already a magician; you just have to find your way to your power source.

Chapter Two: What are Spirits?

What are spirits? What are ghosts? Demons? Angels?  What are fairies or goblins or devils or what is your Higher Power? What is your Holy Guardian Angel?

I will tell you what I think. I think it’s all in your mind, but it works better if you operate under the assumption that it isn’t. What do I mean by this? Am I saying spirits don’t really exist?

No, I’m not.

Aristotle did us a disservice 2,400+ years ago when he taught categorical thinking. Instead of thinking of the world in terms of black and white, in terms of Either/Or, the magician needs to comprehend Both/And. In quantum physics, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle posits that the viewer changes a situation by viewing it. By becoming part of the scenario. If you go walking in the woods, the woods you will see will not be the woods as they would have been if you hadn’t gone there. Deer and birds fled at your approach, leaves crunched underfoot, termite trails crushed, etc.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

No. Your perceptions of the spirit world shape your interaction with it. By definition. If you weren’t attempting to communicate, there would be no interaction, no demon appearing gibbering inside its captive triangle, no angel appearing before you in resplendent glory, no fairies twinkling in the trees, no voodoo Loa keeping your car from running out of gas one more trip to the store before payday, etc.

I am not saying that angels and demons and spirits and Loa and everyone else are all the same. What I *am* saying is that if you do it right, you will get the sorts of results you shoot for, most of the time. You will contact who you need to contact.

Whatever their true nature, the spiritual entities we come into contact with are as real as they need to be, think of it that way.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Is this guy for real? Is he actually talking about seeing entities with his own physical eyes?”

Well, yeah. It’s much easier to see them with astral sight than manifested in this plane, at least for me. Maybe I’m a lightweight. But I *have* seen the image of the ghost of a little girl taken on a digital camera two feet away from me, and I *was* hissed at by some unhappy entity one evening when I carried what I guess was a negatively charged wall hanging into the room I was using as a chamber for magickal workings and crossed the magickal circle I’d laid out semi-permanently on the floor. Whatever it was didn’t like that all, and it scared the hell out of me. So I banished fiercely and then went to bed. No more troubles.

Let me add this. It is possible to develop your astral senses to the point where you can sense entities all around you whenever and wherever, but it’s at lot easier, especially at first, to do it where it’s quiet and you can focus. Try spending a few minutes alone every day meditating, quieting your mind, and paying attention. (If you don’t know how to meditate, google it. The point is to filter out distractions.)

You will also have noticeable results at night just as you are dropping off to sleep. The hypnogogic state is very close to the ideal state of mind for any kind of magickal work. The problem is learning how to pause there just long enough, so you don’t either come back awake with a jolt – you know the feeling – or sinking deeper into sleep and forgetting what you’re doing.

When I lived in New Orleans, my bedroom was at the rear of the shotgun house I rented with anther guy, a magician and member of the local OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis, a magickal lodge associated primarily with Crowley). The room where I slept was probably supposed to be the laundry room and the ceiling sloped downward from front to back so that when you lay in bed at night, you stared up at a blank white ceiling like a movie screen.

One of the first nights I slept there, just as I was had started to drift off to sleep and was in that hypnogogic state, I became aware of a sort of cloud of faces swirling on that ceiling/movie screen above me. I felt no overwhelming sense of good or evil, just the presence of dozens of faces.

So I addressed them. “If you are here with negative purposes, then get the hell out,” I said. “If you are here to help, you’re welcome to stay.” And I went to sleep.

It’s not much of a story, except that months later I met a girl who had lived in my house previously and had in fact slept in the same room where I was. The subject turned somehow to ghosts. “The weird thing,” she said, “was that the first night I slept in that room, I kept seeing all these faces in the ceiling, looking down at me.”

And here I don’t mean to stress “sight” as the only sense used in this way. It’s often more a feeling thing, intuitive, than visual.

The nature of the Self

Who are you really? I don’t mean the surface details: name, physical features, job (you *aren’t* your job no matter how much you have been indoctrinated that you are). But underneath all that, who are you?

Many religions old and new teach not only reincarnation but the concept of multiple souls, e.g. Ancient Egypt. To say reincarnation cannot exist, from a Christian viewpoint or any other, is to argue with massive evidence to the contrary. But what do they mean by multiple souls? From a purely functional p.o.v., we have different “souls” (read “levels of consciousness”) because they each do different things. Freud’s model divides the consciousness into the Superego, the Ego, and the Id. If we call each a “soul,” then we have three according to Freud.

This theory, not particularly magickal, does correspond roughly with many different magickal models for the Inner Self. Max Freedom Long’s Huna, Gurdjieff, Crowley, Victor Anderson’s Feri etc. – all teach a Higher Self (A.C. called it his Holy Guardian Angel – his was named Aiwass and dictated to him the Book of the Law on three consecutive days in April 1904.)

But also a Lower Self, and not as a negative. While Freud’s Id contains our animalistic, childish, selfish impulses, our inner 2-year-old, the magickal Lower Self is much more complex. Imagine you are separated from your Higher Self – an entity that knows all you’ve ever known, your past and past lives and future – by such a childish/animalistic barrier.

Imagine now your only way of getting in touch with your Higher Self, who can help you immeasurably, is through this very bright two-year old. Words, explanations, sophisticated arguments are useless. Piss it off and you’re out of luck. It responds best to emotional intensity and *imagery*, not talk.

Whatever you can get across to your Higher Self, your Cosmic Spirit (hence Cosmo-Spiritology), you will achieve, but you have to do it by way of your Lower Self, your bright inner two-year-old.

This is why Crowley said, “Invoke often and inflame thyself with prayer.” This is why (in part) all the trappings of ceremonial magick and ritual in general. Casting a prayer up to the gods when you are scared shitless or pissed as hell often works remarkably well, despite the emotional strain involved – the emotion and associated imagery cross the barrier to Cosmic Coincidence Control, and your HGA takes it from there.

(The emotions involved here do not have to be negative. Joy works. Sexual arousal and release work. Those moments when you get flashes of how excellent things can be are at least as powerful as anger or fear in communicating with your Higher Self.)

Chapter Three: But How Do You DO It!!!???

Okay, a little prep talk: As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons some people wear ceremonial robes when they do magick, or draw a protective circle on the floor, light candles, incense, possibly creepy music, have rituals, everything, is to get them in the mood to do magick. Literally. I’m not saying that’s the only reason, of course. It isn’t. But the effect upon the human mind standing on a moonlit night in the forest surrounded by darkness and the sounds of a million night creatures, a guttering torch perhaps and shadows flickering on the trees – it has its effect, let’s put it that way, and can be highly conducive to magickal work. Your senses then are Wide Open. Your mental blinders are waaaay down. You are Paying Attention. Thus the work you do in that space will take much fuller advantage of your psychic energies, with much more interesting results, in large part to the atmosphere you have created for yourself as context for the situation.

As Leary said, set and setting are important, and they are as important in magickal work as they are in the context for psychoactive and particularly psychedelic drug experiences.

High on magick

Speaking of Drugs, which I wasn’t: Yes you can do drugs to connect magickally. In my experience, psychedelics work by far the best. I’m talking about LSD, mushrooms, etc. Here’s from a faq on DMX, which I’ve experienced in this fashion: “Many things can happen unexpectedly on upper plateaus, such as spontaneous memory recall, complex delusions, hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, and perceived contact with spiritual or alien entities. You need to be pretty stable and grounded before you can handle these things.” Yup. I talked to an angel who identified my next major relationship. I saw my 3rd wife walking toward me with arms outstretched. The angel didn’t say it would suck quite so bad as it did, but then again I didn’t ask.

Marijuana works to make it really easy to put yourself in the right state of mind to perform magick. It does not (for me) connect with visualizations etc. but does help recognize synchronicities far better than my “normal” (read “distracted by mundane reality”) mind.

In case it isn’t obvious, I am making neither a moral statement about the use of drugs in magick or otherwise, nor recommending same. If you aren’t already familiar with your own response to various entheogens, however, magickal work might not be the best time to find out how you handle it, right in the middle of evoking an Enochian angel or casting a spell.

The general response to use of drugs with magick from the masters of many ancient esoteric forms is that yes it works but you can’t rely on it and must develop the ability to work your magick without tripping balls or being baked out of you mind.

Even if you are not nor have ever been involved with a magickal group or lodge of any sort, from your own casual reading you are probably aware that such groups typically initiate members up through a series of ranks, each rank containing its own rituals, passwords, and other secret information available only to the initiate and then only upon taking solemn vows with unfortunate consequences for those breaking such oaths.

Fortunately or not, much of this material has been revealed over the years and is readily available in print or on the internet. What good, you may ask, is such material now? What’s the point of all the secrecy anyway?

Here is my answer: Though it might seem unnecessary or outdated, the form of the initiatory lodge with its hierarchies and secret handshakes serves a valid spiritual purpose, content aside: it is all designed to teach you on a metaphoric/symbolic level to associate its secret spaces and ideas with your inner self, to help you create your own sacred “temples” internally. As I said earlier, it is much easier to communicate with the spirit world if you have a private dedicated space in which to concentrate. Let me take that point a step further by saying that the actual physical private space you establish is a metaphor for your own inner sacred space. That is your goal. It is the place where you link through to the spirits and communicate with them. It is not as simple as creating an imaginary temple in your head, though people do do that frequently; you are creating a sacred *zone* within yourself. You must create it and strengthen it through use over time, and it will be there when you need it, rather than the normal bumpy chaos of the inside of your head.

There are three stages to performing occult ritual aloud, possibly four. You start alone of course and it is horribly awkward hearing yourself chanting whatever it is. Gak! (That’s the sound of the chicken bone sticking in your throat. Gak!) After you practice awhile the feeling of awkwardness goes away, at which point you are probably reading the rituals with relative ease off a sheet of paper taped to the wall or something, but that’s okay too. The third stage would be memorization, the point where you can forget worrying about the content and focus on putting your energy where it needs to be, in the ritual, and doing it better from that angle. Doing all this in front of other people isn’t particularly harder once you have mastered it alone. Just focus on what you’re doing.

Ideally you get to the point where you can trance out a little bit when you’re doing anything magickal. I can’t tell you how it works best for you. There are several ways. Focus on a piece of music or a lit candle or some other focusing target to the point where you are a little cross-eyed mentally, if that makes any sense, and then go through your ritual. Say what needs to be said. Charge whatever thought-forms need charging. Do the magick.

I know for sure the “mental unfocus” thing works splendidly well if you are scrying (crystal ball, tea leaves, reading cards, whatever). You just let go and let the images come. Neither external stimulants nor relaxants are necessary at all for this to work. I’m talking about smoking or coffee or pot or whatever.


The word “imagination” is used in a couple different ways by people in the occult. One is the workaday “things you make up in your head” sense, but the occultist also understands imagination on a more profound level.

The cauldron of magick rests upon three legs: Imagination, Will, and Emotion. Everybody hears that pretty quickly and a little experience will tell you it’s true. The spells that work, the conjurations that kick ass, are strongly fuelled by those 3 elements.

You must charge your working with emotion; fear, anger, lust, joy – and you must determine fiercely for success and shoot that intensity of Will like an arrow straight into the heart of the spell – and you must visualize what you desire, clearly in mind, less in words than vividly visualized, any/all the senses you can harness into your imagery. And that is the profound meaning of Imagination, and that is a great secret of Magick.

Common sense is a useful tool in magick just like everything else. You certainly may be able to alleviate a lot of your life’s problems with the help of the spirits. I know I have, and more are coming every day!

But use your head. If you want to light up a room, flip on the light switch. Magick isn’t required.

What do you want?

This applies to things like setting goals. You can only conjure toward what you want out of life if you actually want something specific out of life. Like a lot of people, I’d love to win the lottery, or at least I think I would. You hear all the horror stories about people destroying their lives by winning, all that money and being unable to deal with it. I’ll take my chances!

On the other hand, don’t waste your life waiting for your ship to come in. I’ve been guilty of some of that myself. Oops. If you have ever read a single self-help book, you know that one of the main barriers to success for most everybody is lack of goals. When you get right down to it, what do you really want? A castle in Bavaria? Six mistresses? A new Jaguar, dark green with wood trim and leather bucket seats? The health and physique of a 25 year old?

Make a list of what you really actually want, that you would actually be willing to deal with if you had it. Maybe you want to make a decent living working for yourself. Although to each his own, that sounds a lot more manageable to me than six mistresses.

Do you want that Jaguar? That means you need the means to maintain it, pay insurance, etc. Do you want that castle in Bavaria? I’d re-think that one if I were you, but nothing’s impossible. If you want something badly enough, you will get it. If you don’t get it, you didn’t want it badly enough.

What I have found out the hard way is the folly of casting a spell (i.e. communicating with the spirits with requests) and then trying to control or at least imagine how the request will be answered. The less you dwell on that sort of thing, the faster the response will be and the happier you will be with it.

Your intent is part of the package. It’s easy to get into all sorts of mental gymnastics over the wording of what you are requesting, like those old timey cartoons where the guy makes a deal with a genii, and because he didn’t get the wording *exactly* right, the spell misfires. “All I wanted was a little head!” as the old joke goes.

Don’t worry so much. If you need money and work magick for it, most likely it won’t kill your Great Aunt Zelda so you can get her inheritance – not unless she was about to go anyway.

If you experiment as broadly as your circumstances permit, you will go far. Everything you need is all around you. The internet is basically free, even if that means hoofing it to the library to use their public access computers. There’s always a way through if you keep looking.

In experimenting – and reading! – you will find your own magickal current. In my educated opinion, all magickal systems work if you apply yourself seriously.

Rhyming gives spell language a certain anticipated rhythm. You can write your own spells. Rhyme in language lulls the censors a little. Plus tug at the emotions. Both of which you want.

Words in languages you do not know also hide the obvious meaning (even if you’re the one who did the translation!) and sound strange, both of which help avoid the censor and elicit a mild thrill.

Here’s a basic spell of mine for the Loa, based on my personal needs, first in English and then translated into Haitian Creole.

Papa Legba and all the spirits who help me every day
Grant me money enough today to meet my wants
Days of joy for my son
My wisdom of spiritual matters increased
Strong heart, strong arms, strong legs
And the smile of a pretty girl to make it all complete


Papa Legba ak tout lespri ki te ede mwen chak jou
Grant m' lajan ase jodi a pou rankontre m' vle
Yon jou de bonheur pou pitit gason m
Mwen gen bon konprann nan zafè spirituelle la une
Gwo kè, zam Fort, Fort janm
Ak sourire yon bèl fi pou fè l' tout nèt

In Haitian Creole

Just go online and use Babelfish like I do for translations.

Trying it out

Okay, let’s set up for a typical magick working. As I’ve said before, it’s helpful to have a space set aside, however minimalist or temporary, to focus when doing spells. Preferably it should face east (rising sun) or north (direction of magick in many traditions).

Again, all this is based on personal experience. Subjectivity is my gift to you. Everything you can possibly want to know about magick has long since been said, written, and published on the internet. And if you will go look around, it’s all free.

I usually take a shower first. Clean body, clean mind. It’s symbolic but everything is symbolic. It is a step to take you from ordinary life into sacred space. Likewise with clearing the space where you intend to do the working.

One good way to clear your space on the psychic level is with the LBRP, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Look it up online and you’ll easily find detailed instructions. It isn’t particularly complex and can be memorized fairly quickly.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, get a white candle. Keep it on your altar/shrine/focal space. When you are ready to clear the space, light the candle and face east and recite the following:

“Clear this space of ill intent
Helpful spirits welcome in
Helpful always you will be
Filled with helpful energy!”

Turn then to each of the other three compass points counterclockwise, i.e., to the left: North, West, South, and end up facing East again at the end.

This is a simple banishing ritual which does not partake of any particular magickal current – no Egyptian or Hebrew deities, for example.

Having cleared the space, you can then commence with whatever it is you’re working.


Although I have practiced ceremonial magick, nowadays I am not much on using magickal tools. Again, if it works for you, I’m certainly not knocking it. I’m talking about the traditional wand, chalice, atheme (knife), etc.

On the other hand, I’m deeply interested in divination systems, i.e., ways of communicating with the spirits.

One of the easiest ways to communicate with the spirit world is by use of a pendulum or plumb bob. You can make one out of almost anything – basically a 12-inch piece of string and a small weight on the end, a metal washer or a pendant or whatever. They also come ready made of crystal etc. Mine is a small brass teardrop. I have had it for at least a dozen years and don’t remember how or why it entered my life. It was just there at some point. But every time I move somewhere new, it shortly pops up again into my life, so I take this as a positive sign and keep on using it!

Using the pendulum is easy. Hold is suspended in front of you with one hand. Put the hand about eye level. As you’ll quickly notice, after a few seconds the pendulum will begin to sway.

First ask yourself a question where you know the answer is yes. Example: “My name is Donald Ray Pendragon.” Shortly the pendulum will swing back and forth. You may take that to be a yes. Then ask it a question where you know the answer to be negative. “I have one million dollars in my checking account.” It should shortly begin swinging the other direction.

Now you know what’s a yes and what’s a no. The third option is that it circles. You may interpret this as an “I don’t know” if you like.

Now you’re ready to ask your questions. It can take time if you go beyond yes or no questions, but you can gather a lot of information in a hurry nonetheless is you think about how you’re asking the questions.

I spent several months in Mexico in San Miguel de Allende and rented a postal box while I was there. The only problem it was quite a hike across town from where I was staying to the mail drop, and so after a couple weeks, having my pendulum handy, I tried an experiment. I would ask it whether I had any mail that day, then I would walk to the p.o. to check whether or not it was correct. I did this for a week straight with 100% accuracy, and so after that I just trusted the pendulum and didn’t bother making the trip if it said I didn’t have any mail.

The underlying question here is what’s up with the pendulum? Why does it sway at all? The cop-out answer is that it’s “unconscious motion by your arm muscle.” But what does that mean? Unconscious? The suggestion implies it’s basically a nervous tic or that you are influencing it without realizing it. It’s certainly possible to make it sway however you want without appearing to manipulate it. Just concentrate and it’ll start going quickly.

The situation is much more interesting from a magickal perspective. What lies in the unconscious? Your Higher Self. Which generally does not communicate with you directly, but must use roundabout means to do so, like the pendulum.

You can also use the pendulum to locate things on a map. They have been used to find underground oil and water, lost treasure, etc. You simply find a map on the scale you need and move over it slowly with the pendulum. In this case, you might consider the pendulum circling as a “hit.” Mark the hits and then go look for yourself to see if it’s right.

As part of a recent demonstration for a college course on the sociology of the paranormal, I took a handful of students on a treasure hunt of our own. The professor had hidden an object on campus in the central mall, which is a grassy area of about 3 acres, well landscaped with trees, flowerbeds, benches, and other suitable hiding places.

Using a map of campus, we determined in the classroom that the object was in the northern or northeastern area of the mall. We walked slowly in that direction. I had the pendulum in hand and watched it carefully. When we reached the edge of campus, having found nothing, I stood and concentrated on the pendulum again. It gave a swing along a line that cut through a small tree and on to a decorate flowerbed about 40 feet away. I walked to the flowerbed and found the hidden object easily.

Spirit etiquette & “lust for results”

So try contacting spirits first with a pendulum. Test things out. If you have a problem you need solved, ask for help. Get a yes or no. Keep good notes. In fact, one of the best arguments for keeping a magickal notebook is so you won’t lose track of successful efforts. Trust me, it’s easy to do, and if you don’t, it’s easy to forget. It’s as if, despite all our efforts to remember, some part of ourselves – that censor we each have – is quick to dismiss the 1,001 little successes that add up to a positive relationship with spirit.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. If you are going to go to the trouble to cultivate a connection with things that don’t exist (joke!), at least have the respect to trust them to know what they’re doing. Don’t stress about whether or not it’s going to work. That’s called “lust for result” and it slows down or cancels all the work you’ve done. Don’t stress about how it’s going to work, either. It’ll probably come totally out of left field anyway. You’re just slowing things down. The New Thought people ago called that “outlining.” Read Emmett Fox or Ernest Holmes or Frank B. Robinson or Henri Gamache.

The ability to want something while simultaneously not thinking about it may seem like an impossible task at first. I know it did to me. Here’s the secret: Don’t dwell. It’s the same secret as how to successfully meditate. At first it seems completely and utterly impossible to “still” your mind, to keep all your thoughts at bay. But what you can do, as soon as you notice a bit of some commercial jingle or what you’re having for lunch entering your consciousness, is this: acknowledge it and move on. Don’t linger. Cut it loose and go on with whatever you’re doing. It’s the only thing you can do, really, and as with most matters of the spirit/mind, once you begin to make an effort, They notice and will come meet you half way.

All your contact with spirits won’t come as coincidence or via pendulum (or any other communication/divination system you care to indulge in – Tarot*, I-Ching, runes, etc.)

Anyway this is a trickier area – more subtle, let’s just say – but your spirits are continually in contact with you mentally – sometimes the voices in your head are trying to help! A wise man once said that the schizophrenic is drowning in the same ocean the magician swims in gladly. But then the magician can always walk ashore.

What I want you to take from this is that if you want to get good at all this stuff, it is incumbent on you to (a) understand you may be in contact with your spirit people mentally at any time of the day or night, and (b) learn to discern your own thoughts from theirs.

Years ago when I divorced my 1st wife – we’d just had our child and I was devastated – I was in grad school and took advantage of the campus health care system to get some counseling for depression. It was free and I was down, so I went.

The reason I mention this is later on, after a couple different counselors and a lot of talking, I got to a point where when I needed someone to talk to, I could generate my own “imaginary” counselor. I had been in counseling long enough to have someone to model him on. Someone I could talk to when I was outside the campus, at work, at home watching TV, anything.

In the beginning I thought of this mostly as me just talking to myself. I pictured the guy as a sort of cross between Sean Connery and Bruce Campbell, with a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and smoking a pipe. He did not judge me, and his input was always productive.

After awhile I realized something, however. I realized the suggestions and information I was getting from the good Doctor (I never thought of a name for him) was better or at least other than I felt I got from my own thinking through.

What does this mean? It meant I was capable of reaching deeper conclusions for my issues than I was “normally” capable of, which is certainly possible. But isn’t that just another way of saying I had managed a clever way to get in touch with my “higher self” through “pretending” it was an “imaginary” counselor?

Or maybe I had managed to get in touch with a spirit guide. Or all three. That’s the thing. On a practical level, get comfortable with receiving help from spirit energies and just roll with it. Don’t gasp in surprise every time you realize it’s happened. Just smile ear to ear and go on with your improved situation.

Whether you are a Wiccan or a Satanist or Feri or Thelemite or whatever, for our purposes here it doesn’t matter too much one way or another. Your goal is to connect with the spirit realm, and either you do or you don’t. Once you do, pay attention. Nobody likes being ignored, not even spirits.

Common sense once again comes into play here. At least pause to ponder your new ideas before leaping in with both feet. I am not contradicting my statement above about paying attention, either. Just because the information you receive may seem like a challenge doesn’t mean it’s b.s., but if it seems negative in any way or seems to lead to potential problems for yourself, ask (a) is it worth it? And (b) am I misunderstanding the communication? It isn’t rude to ask for clarification there any more than it would be anywhere else.

Thought for Day: Doing nothing is better than screwing up because you took the instructions wrong.

On a day to day level, this shouldn’t be too confusing. Let’s say you want a girlfriend. I can tell you up front if you’re conjuring for a specific woman, watch your ass. I’ve been married three times and two of the three I credit to magick, ultimately magick gone wrong. Be careful what you wish for. My previous girlfriend had been somewhat aloof and hard to pin down, running hot and cold and keeping me at arm’s distance when she wasn’t in them, so I conjured for what I thought would be her opposite – a woman who would *need* me.

Well, that worked. She was clingy and insanely jealous and led to five years of mess for both of us.

My third (final) wife was much younger than I was, a stunning petite brunette, and I had been interested in her for some time, and I can say with confidence that if you conjure for a woman for long enough you stand a fair chance of getting her. Regardless of what she actually turns out to be like when you’re finally married and she drinks half a pint of whatever and turns into a Devil Woman and drags you screaming into the pits of hell where she prefers to dwell in writhing flames of bullshit melodrama.

She sure was good looking, though.

My point is simple: Conjure for appropriate companionship. I know that sounds dull compared to throwing the mojo on Babe X, whether it’s the woman down the hall at work or the next door neighbor or the checkout girl at the supermarket. And if she’s already in a relationship, everything I’ve said goes double. Just don’t.

Or go ahead and do. It might work fine.

Things come out of left field & DIY magick

Other things work similarly. If you need money, you can conjure for a specific amount, not worrying about where or how it will manifest. Or you can think about why specifically you need the money, and conjure/ask for help with, say, the rent, or a car repair, or whatever. Possibly your landlord would let you work off part of the rent. If so, you may expect to run into him in the next couple days and have a chance to ask. Or you may encounter someone who knows about cars, and can diagnose your problem in terms of severity or even fix it for you cheaply or for no money at all. Or maybe you can barter car repairs for something in return.

In any case – and all these things have happened to me personally – the spirits are joggling your life a bit so things work out in your favor. You just have to be alert and seize your opportunities.

All magickal systems work. The trick is to find ones that resonate within yourself because if so they’ll work better for you. Your ways are not my ways. I have worked with Enochian, Goetics, chaos magick, Right Hand Path systems, Feri (a little), Druidry, Thelema, Wicca, and traditional non-Wiccan witchcraft. Not to mention Tony Robbins and ½ a dozen New Thought writers from a century ago, all of whom were practicing magick without calling it that.

It wasn’t until I moved to the mystic city of New Orleans that I began to work with the Loa seriously and found myself very comfortable with that magickal current.

You need to do the same thing. Maybe you won’t settle on a pre-fabricated system. Then invent your own! The energies are out there whether you come to them with a pre-formed set of rules and expectations or whether you work it out by yourself.

The key to DIY magick is to understand that you can work out your own techniques and methods of working with the spirits work for you. Experiment and keep good notes.

The best reason to go with already existing systems is that theoretically anyhow, they have been worked out and worked with by a lot of other people, tested, etc. Plus there’s the possibility/idea that the more people have worked in a current, the more powerful it becomes. Christianity would be an example.

Anyway, you can easily read up on the subject or if you’re lucky enough to be living in a convenient geographical area, actually meet with like-minded souls and learn one-on-one.

Contrariwise, the downside of existing systems is their own built-in limitations. NEVER take limitations for granted! It’s a trick! You can only find out the limitations of a system through your own experience. As the say goes, You can’t prove a negative. All it takes is one success, one positive, to dismiss all claims to the contrary.

Baby steps

Everybody hates a tourist. There is no commitment in dabbling. Having said that, you can’t be expected to start from zero knowledge and experience and leap straight to mastery. I certainly have not and neither has anybody else.

First there is a mountain. Then there is no mountain. Then there is. You have to learn the rules before you can break them. But how to get there?

Short answer: start young, read and practice nonstop for 30 years, you got it.

Many of you will feel unable given your circumstances to fulfill this order in a businesslike timeframe.

I am nearing the half century mark but I have a one track mind and I jump the track quite a bit. Nonetheless, my point is that you need to be fairly consistent with your practice. Try to tune in daily or several times a week. Don’t just make the occasional sporadic effort in that direction. The results will only annoy everybody involved.

I do find I bounce back into the groove of things pretty quickly when I finally do get off my ass and start paying attention to my spiritual practice after I’ve been away from it for some time, but I would have gotten a lot further by now a lot faster if I had kept my eye on the prize and thus avoided the benefits of steady gradual growth.

But we do what we can.

Accentuate the positive

The truth is, if you get your head right, a lot of life’s problems will take care of themselves. It’s just that your head is a lot more complex on the inside than you realize.

One of the great condemnations of “positive thinking” philosophies is that this seems to imply that people with horrible lives bring it all onto themselves, and that it they just were more positive, they wouldn’t be living in a cardboard box in some 3rd world hellhole or whatever.

The truth is, about 90% of your problems are of your own making. Make an honest list and you’ll see what I mean. We’ll leave that extra 10% for issues that fall outside the scope of this short book.

There are such things as pre-incarnation assignments and agreements. The why’s and wherefore’s of that I’ll leave for another day, but despite all, unless you go to the trouble to tap past life memories – and I’m not saying you shouldn’t! – certain aspects of your life may always be a mystery.

Contrariwise, so much of it can be dealt with through your spirit contacts that it really does behoove anybody to make a genuine effort over a protracted period of time and see it things don’t improve dramatically!

Your status in life is largely determined by your self-limitations. If you have been paying attention at all in these pages, you will understand I feel nothing really is off bounds in terms of finding ways to transform you life to the more positive.

We are often sabotaged by the raw material of our own thoughts. Let me pause to say I do not consider magick to be only a sort of esoteric psychology of “self help.” Positive practice will generate actual improvements in your life on a real and practical level. It’s not just learning to see the world in a new way, although that’s a part of it, nor is it a matter of adjusting your attitude so your current life “as-is” becomes “okay.”

Having said all that, it is nonetheless true that you can improve your life by having a positive attitude. Do you doubt me? Negative thinking is a terrible habit anybody can fall into, but one that can be broken through effort. Be aware of yourself. Cheer the fuck up. I know we all have crap days, but they aren’t all crap, I hope. Tune into those good days. Pay attention to how it feels when things are going well. Fight the habit of cynicism. Not giving a damn will only carry you so far. Paste a big grin on your face and aim for optimism. Embrace having a good day.

My last ex-wife had a lot of issues, and one day I tried out an experiment on her I’d read about. I asked her to imagine she was holding a red helium balloon on a string. I instructed her to imagine pouring all her problems into that balloon, one at a time, and that each time she added one more problem to that balloon, it would rise a little higher. Higher and higher. After just a minute, her arm was straight up holding that imaginary balloon.

At that point, I said, “Now let it go.”

Interestingly, she said, “I don’t want to.” That gave me an insight into human nature that I now pass along to you. Don’t let your problems serve as the anchor or focus of your life. In her case they were quite melodramatic and involved a disturbed child, intrusively “helpful” parents, a bona fide nut of an ex-, etc. It kept her life in a constant state of chaos and torment, and when faced with even the idea of letting all that go, she found she didn’t want to.

When last I heard, her life continues as it did during our marriage and before: a daisy chain of hell.

Don’t be like that.


People get into magick for one or more of 4 reasons: power, sex, money, or health. Power implies control, so in a way it encompasses the other three. Point being, I was quickly frustrated when I began associating with other magicians and discovered I was WRONG! to want practical results from my sorcerous endeavors.

The true value of magick, I was told with some disdain, was spiritual evolution. Another name for that is Theurgy

But isn’t that looking at things through the wrong end of the telescope? Take your ordinary person. Money’s tight, wife wants the sort of life a married person wants. Kids need braces. Car needs oil change. Boss is an asshole. What to do?

Spiritually evolve? Hell no. You need actual solutions to actual problems. Such a person needs Thaumaturgy – that is to say, practical magick so your car doesn’t break down or your mother-in-law doesn’t move in.

Terminology is useless to us in this endeavor and I have used various terms as they have occurred to me through this text to refer to situations or conditions I hope will make sense in context. I have tried to avoid arcane vocabulary overall but some things are unavoidable. Spirits are spirits. Spells are spells. Etc.

There are many well-written books on the Sacred Science aka magick. You can spend years reading them with a great deal of pleasure. I know I have.

Ultimately though if you are like me the time comes when you look at your crappy life and however much you enjoy reading me or Al Manning or Ophiel or whoever, it would be kind of nice if things in your actual life would actually pick up some.

Youth or old age do not come into this equation. I am exactly in the midst of life but it doesn’t matter at all except to the extent that I wish I had figured out a lot of all this 20 years ago when I had a lot more wood in my trout than I do now. But what can you do?

Cosmo-Spiritology. Magick. Onward!

As I’m sure is obvious, this little book only touches in the briefest of ways the literally endless infinite world of improving your life through esoteric means, through establishing and benefitting from contacts with the spirit world. For practical purposes, hopefully reading this will nudge you in a better direction, helping to give you the faith and confidence in yourself necessary for you to act on your own, to take steps to a better life.

You have to trust yourself. You HAVE TO trust yourself. You are all you need. The powers are inside you waiting to be tapped like a deeply buried oil reserve. Pure wealth. Don’t listen to anyone else if it doesn’t promote your push toward your goals. You are your own best cheerleader, my friend. Even people who love you have their own agendas, so love yourself. Take care of yourself. Cultivate your own garden.

Cosmo-Spiritology is you finding ways around and through the difficulties of your personal life because you have the powers to do that already inside yourself and you don’t need the permission of a preacher or priest or boss or cop or parent or significant other to improve yourself. You have friends in high places who are happy to help if you only ask, and the only catch is an occasional expression of gratitude.

People will try to reduce it all to a form of attitude adjustment – if you get to the point where you don’t want or need anything, living in a cardboard box in Florida (for the weather) is good enough, I guess.

But I don’t think that’s the extent of it, not by a long shot.

When I want to chill out, I go down to the river underneath the big bridge a few miles outside town. People dome down there and fish for shad to use as catfish bait, with hand nets, and throw beer cans around, which sometimes I pick up, and make a mess, but at the same time it’s not a park. No rules. You just come down there and groove on the water and drink a little beer maybe or whatever you like. In that sense it’s a Free Zone, what Hakim Bey calls a Temporary Autonomous Zone, and that compels me deeply.

You can find your own Free Zones in your own lives. They don’t have to be redneck hangouts under bridges. They don’t have to literal places at all. Making a space in your life for the techniques and insights of Cosmo-Spiritology creates its own free zones for you, as you’ll find out.

You will find as you learn to work with and TRUST the spirits that life becomes much easier to deal with in lots of little ways. The thing is, all those little things add up even when you don’t notice it, but once you begin to receive the aid of your invisible spirit friends, the changes will become readily apparent. A load will be lifted from your shoulders. It’s pretty great to realize it’s working for you, that it’s a real deal.

Finally, I would be very happy to hear from any of you readers personally and your stories and successes. You can email me at If you wish, let me know and I’ll put you on my mailing list for upcoming projects/books. It is always cool to hear from people you’ve affected – hopefully for the better!


Donald Ray Pendragon
An IV xx Sol 27° Gemini Luna 18° Gemini Dies Lunæ Monday, June 18, 2012 e.v.

Suggested Reading List

I am not going to hesitate to recommend other occult writers to you. If you are truly interested you’ll have already sought some of them out, and if not, I am recommending them 100% because of the help their books have been to me, and for no other reason. It certainly isn’t a matter of $ -- if I wanted to cash in, I’d have lived my life differently the past quarter century. I’d be a CEO with a mortgage and a big car and a wife and 2.5 kids or whatever the number is, investments, and probably be dead from high blood pressure or ulcers years back.

If reading this leads you to a happier life directly or by some reference here you seek out on your own, my point is accomplished.

So: Read Al G. Manning. Read Ophiel. Read Ramsey Dukes and Poke Runyon and Phil Hine and Ray Sherwin. Read Raymond Buckland and Robert Cochrane and Doreen Valiente. Read Donald Michael Kraig. Read Victor Anderson. Read, Read, Read!

You should certainly find your comfort level as a reader. I don’t care much for the typical Barnes & Noble “metaphysical” book rack selections of “fuzzy bunny” Wiccan, for example. If you’re worried about any magick you do “coming back on you threefold” or whatever, then don’t do any. It is certainly possible to be pagan – to observe the cycle of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the spirits of place (genius loci) without lifting a wand or lighting a candle. But at least read good authors and not pop media crap.

On the other hand, Aleister Crowley, who was a giant pioneer (don’t listen to anyone who slams Crowley without very specific examples of why; usually they’re just repeating popular gossip from the tabloids of the 1930s!), is a tough read. Tackle him if you want. I did. A good intro is Robert Anton Wilson’s terrific Cosmic Trigger (Vol.1), which contains a very good chapter devoted to “the Wickedest Man in the World.”

Read whatever excites you. Excitement is a big deal if you want to change your life through magickal practice. Getting a little theory under your belt is a good start, but then you must Walk the Walk. This will hopefully provide a way in for some of you.

To quote Crowley, “Every man and every woman is a star.” Everybody reading these words has an opportunity to Rise Up with some studying and some work. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Better start laying bricks now!


* The Tarot provides a lot of information when you use it, and the trick then becomes figuring out which part is aimed at you. It won’t all be, but it will usually be obvious on an intuitive level to know what you’re supposed to take from the reading.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The River Valley Applied Folklore Society

I am habitual booster and organizer. The impulse is to congregate friends of a particular stripe. I have been doing a lot of reading lately, digging into books like Vance Randolph's OZARK MAGIC AND FOLKLORE, Zora Neale Hurston's MULES AND MEN, the Lucky Mojo website (, etc. All fired up to put some of my reading into *practice*, and not just read about it in books in lieu of anything else.

A little worried about the wrong sorts of people reading and causing trouble, but maybe I'm just paranoid. We are all entitled to our beliefs, and to meet and make friends peaceably. I'm looking forward to seeing who shows up.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Magick in God's Country

Following yet another disastrous marriage, this one fuelled by some hardcore magick that worked very very well (oops), I find myself living in a small college town in northcentral Arkansas (hint: the last train went here, in the song). I like my job a lot, and the little cabin where I live in the woods, and my little shelf of magickal tomes, but I do miss the fraternity of like minds. If they're here, they're well hidden. I'm the only person listed on Witchvox in this town, or within easy driving distance (Ft. Smith is an hour away).

Wah wah. It's okay. It's just a case of having become accustomed to living in places where you could be, if not open about your wacky belief systems, at least you didn't have to worry about losing your job or getting you ass kicked for them.

I have no idea who if anybody is reading this, by the way, but hi.

Friday, March 30, 2007

the results of the psychogeography sigil from last post?

It was designed to "get people out of their ruts." Of the people participating, Holly split up w/ Harry, Rob got engaged, Kory moved out of his mom's, Kevin split up w/ his girlfriend, who was treating him badly anyway, and I went to jail. And now, six months later, have split up with my wife, shaven my head, quit my job, and moved to New Orleans to study dat ol' black magick, be anonymous, write more pulp fiction novellas, and find a beautiful young witchy hippie/gothy girlfriend who is into older guys and doesn't mind being treated like the queen of the universe.

email me at

Friday, February 16, 2007

back from hiatus

My long lapse in updating the blog has been due to multiple factors: I was writing a novella for awhile, and when I am working in one kind of writing, I tend to obsess. Also, I spent three weeks in the hoosegow at one point. Not that much fun. And general Life Stuff.

With winter ending, it becomes possible to meet outdoors at the lake or cave. The lack of intense activity last year was my fault in part, and this year I want to do a better job of things.

So what are we? Rob and I had determined, by the end of the year, that we were Chaos Druids, this because we had experimented freely in our workings, including, our last time out, a sigil based on the route we followed wandering through town during a psychogeograpical jaunt following my discovery of Iain Sinclair's books.

For my own part, my recent reading might give an idea of my general drift at this point (Friday, 2/16/07, 9:32 p.m., to be exact):

MASKS OF MISRULE by Nigel Jackson
Robert Cochrane's letters

I will follow this shortly with a much better entry.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

deep thoughts

"Deep assignments run through all our lives;
there are no coincidences."
--J.G. Ballard

Sunday, August 20, 2006

GNOSTIC HAYRIDE, v. 1, no. 2, August 19, 2006

Last week we discussed the “Ellis” sigil, the purpose of which was to “get people out of their ruts,” as well as a 2nd sigil, the purpose of which was to “help organize and encourage enthusiasm among our group” and replicated it; additionally, following mention of taking walks Sunday evenings, I mentioned “psychogeography” as a possible vein of research for our weekly moots.

Psychogeography is defined in Wikipedia thusly: “The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” This being a pretty vague definition, I have found it clarified further in a description of the synonymic Dérive, a French concept meaning “an aimless walk,” sometimes translated as drift, probably through city streets, that follows the whim of the moment.
The foundation of the idea is to explore your psychogeography without preconceptions, to understand your location, and thus your existence, through your un-mediated perceptions.
French philosopher and Situationist Guy Debord used this idea to try and convince readers to revisit the way they looked at urban spaces. Rather than being prisoners to their daily route and routine, living in a complex city but treading the same path every day, he urged people to follow their emotions and to look at urban situations in a radical new way.
Debord explains in Theory of the Dérive that dérives are best when composed of a group of two or three people who have "reached the same awakening of consciousness." They most often occur in one day, that is the time between the waking and sleeping hours—having nothing to do with the solar day. Sometimes, though, they can last several days or often will occur within only a few hours. Dérives most often occur on foot but can employ the use of taxis but only to move away from the usual surroundings.
Hakim Bey’s famous “Temporary Autonomous Zone” (TAZ) describes the socio-political tactic of creating temporary space that eludes formal structures of control. The essay uses various historical and philosophical examples, all of which attempt to lead the reader to the conclusion that the best way to create a non-hierarchical system of social relationships is to concentrate on the present and on releasing one's own mind from the controlling mechanisms that have been imposed on it—one example being the Dérive.
Applying all these concepts to our little Sunday evening gatherings leads to a few obvious thoughts—e.g., in order to reproduce the psychogeographical explorations among ourselves, we should attempt our wanderings w/ as few restraints as possible—or, given restraints, that we should have specific goals in mind. One thought is that, given the weather, our walks on hot days should perhaps be aimed downhill, and/or toward air conditioning, and/or toward water, or beer.
Insofar as “goals” are concerned, we might consider imposing a sigil of our devising on a map of the Loop or downtown, and in walking the path of the sigil, we would charge it w/ our exhausted energy and enervation…
Hakim Bey is rarely direct/explicit in his narrative, nor will I be here. I do not wish to propose any programs, ever, but rather, to suggest, to hint at possibilities. A walk is a walk is a walk; however, to walk w/o teleology, to walk w/ the senses open, should cause the route to open itself up to us in some way/s normally hidden by workaday agendae.

Bey, again, from “The Architectonality of Psychogeographicism or The Hieroglyphics of Driftwork”:

“The Babylonian grid-city wants memory to persist thru time -- smooth & empty time -- but as Dali showed, memory persists only in the deliquescense of measured time. The medieval-hermetic city (like Blake's Green Jerusalem) preserves memory but in a "disordered" way -- like akashic marmalade -- time which is textured & full. "Babylon" preserves order (or else!) -- but what happens to memory there ? Isn't it transmuted into the poison formaldehyde of History, the re-iterated tale of our poverty & their power, taxonomic myth of the ruling class ? Who can blame us for harboring both a nostalgia & an insurrectionary desire for the narrow winding alleys, shadowy steps, covered ways & tunnels, middens & cellars of a city which has designed itself -- organically, unconsciously -- within an aesthetic of festive & secret conviviality, & of the curvaciuos negentropic mutability of memory itself ?”


Next week: Ye Alphabet of Desire…