Sunday, September 11, 2005

crisis magick

I had wanted for awhile to address the subject, and couldn't remember where I even heard the term, but have located it here Phil Hine, of course, talks on it much better than I can, but it is something I feel strongly about (as does he). I quote: "I felt quite happy a decade or so ago to be labelled as a 'Crisis Magician'. The definitive characterisation, according to Peter Carroll, is that of an individual who devotes most of their energies to normal everyday pursuits, only resorting to The Wand in times of crisis. To the best of my knowledge, Carroll has never gone into print on the matter, but from his perjorative tone when conversing the subject one may gather that such a 'modus operandi' is thought unbecoming for a serious occult practitioner. Personally, I would contrast the relatively orderly lives of many occultists who resort to praeter-natural tactics only in dire emergency, with the experience of many habitual magicians whose lives seem to lurch inexorably from one grotesque scenario to another. Perhaps the time is ripe for a re-definition!"

Indeed. I remember early conversations w/ various co-magicians, myself eagerly looking to them all for insights and delighted w/ the fact that I was talking to them at all (this after spending the first thirty plus years of my life reading about magick and wondering if I would ever be so lucky as to know actual people who practiced these things. And doubting it.) I was severely chastised for being interested in magick for "low" purposes--money, say, or love/sex, etc. The only "appropriate" purpose for magickal practice was to evolve spiritually!, I was told. If I wanted to get anywhere, I had to give up wanting to use magick to get ahead in life!

I submit to the court that 99.9% of all people who pick up the Wand (to use Phil Hine's term), do so for one of 3 reasons:
1. money
2. sex
3. control of material circumstances
And since 1 and 2 are both actually subsets of 3, you can say that most people originally start messing with magick because they want to control the circumstances of their lives and feel powerless to do so following conventional routes. (Let's face it: If you could get what you wanted out of life by becoming a cheerleader, a city councilman, a lawyer, etc., you would just go do it. But for those of us who, for whatever reason--and I'd call it more "personal disposition" rather than "inability," since virtually every magician I've met has been quite bright--do not follow the path of legitimate career or other socially acceptable routine, magick offers, or seems to offer, profundity and fun, and a huge dose of the Strange, which, as all I hope will admit, is as important as any other dimension of our Quest for Meaning.

Which takes us back to the topic. What *is* "crisis magick"? Phil Hine points out that the adrenalin generated in any "fight or flight" scenario may be the key element which causes magick done under such circumstances to work. It took me many months or years of thinking and reading to understand that a magickal mass was "magick" in the same sense that the word meant when I did a sigil to get my rent, or invoked Mars to get up the nerve to have it out with my ex-wife.

Eventually I got over some of my early fears--e.g., that if I progressed spiritually far enough, things like money or having a place to live would become unimportant to me, and I'd end up living in a cardboard box, or other people's laundry rooms, or in any case end up like someone like Harry Smith, one of my heroes, who was so amazing, who made films, collected music, created entire systems of thought, and yet who never had a place to "keep" anything, and so by the end of his life and lost or discarded more works of art or genius than most people ever come close to creating, because he just didn't care. It is one thing to romantisize such behavior, a la Henry Miller, but Henry Miller only needed a typewriter, and if not for people who loved him despite his contrariness, Harry Smith wouldn't have survived to create the few things we do have left, much less all the lost works.

I got over worrying about stuff like that, and began to understand that what magick really *is* about, in addition to keeping a roof over your head, is evolving what's in your head. But I never want to relinquish the earlier concepts. Maybe I'll reach a point of understanding where things on this plane don't matter. I *know* they aren't "real," but they sure seem real to me right now--and getting feedback in the form of magick working in small matters, gives me faith that it can indeed also work in loftier regions.

Friday, September 09, 2005

best books

A friend asked me last night what five books I'd recommend him read as good background for magick, for someone who knows nothing much about the subject but is very interested. I think he is doing research for a novel, and he wants it to involve Western Ceremonial Magick rather than, say, Harry Potter magic.

Here are the first five I thought of, off the top of my head. I suppose anyone could come up w/ their own five, and I'd like to see the results. Here are mine:

1) MODERN MAGICK by Donald Michael Kraig. A good beginning book.

2) BIG BLUE by Crowley. An obvious choice, since it contains everything anybody would want/need to practice magick.

3) MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS by Crowley. A gentler, funnier intro than Big Blue, but I stand by it. One of the first things I read.

4) S.S.B.O.T.M.E. by Ramsey Dukes. Brilliant. I got an ebook version for $5 that disappeared when my hard drive crashed b/c I failed to back anything up. Duh. It all makes sense after this.

5) THE SACRED MAGIC OF ABRA-MELIN THE MAGE. I put this here partially for historical reasons and partially just b/c I think it's important. Plus it's cheap and easy to get.

Everybody now send their top 5.