How many people alive today fit the classic definition of a wizard? Like in the fairytale sense?
Lon Milo DuQuette would probably fit the bill if he wasn’t so damn funny. (in my mind wizards are grumpy like Gandalf.)
My Life With The Spirits was and is a regular re-read title of mine for fifteen years. In fact, I gave it to my partner when we first started dating by way of an explanation; if things go reasonably well, then by and large this is what I’d like my life to look like.
But that wasn’t the only LMD book I kept returning to. I broke the spine on The Magic Of Thelema and his was my go-to Goetia.
Growing up with these titles, there was always a slight sticking point for me, however: the whole “magic is all in your head” thing.
When I was younger I just plain didn’t like this idea… too much of my emerging adult identity was wrapped around the spooky notion of trafficking with actual spirits. I liked this idea, I needed it. It matched my boots and my unreasonably thick coat -an absurd purchase for someone living in Australia.
My preference at the time was overwhelmingly for the -shall we say- “Harry Potter Theme Park” flavour of magic.
Now it isn’t.
Now, to be frank, I don’t actually care that much either way. But this time around, in the latest book, I found his psychological discussions much more pleasing… and it’s something he goes into in great detail. He even subtitles the book with his thesis.
Can I truthfully say… that all this magick, all these experiences have merely taken place “in my head”? Yes. I am saying that. “It’s all in your head.” But please do not forget the second part of this outrageous statement, “you just have no idea how big your head is!” As I observed earlier, mind and consciousness transcends the boundaries of the brain, transcend the boundaries of time and space. That’s how big my head is! Nothing can happen outside of it because there is no outside of it.
So, when I was younger, I thought this understanding was in some way a disservice to magic, like maybe it was missing the whole point of it in the first place. It’s now I realise that this was no disservice to magic – but my way of thinking was definitely doing a disservice to my own head.
Low Magick is billed in some places as a follow up to My Life With The Spirits but it isn’t, really. The similarities begin and end with it being written in the first person by the same narrator.
Think of it more like the summary conclusions of a fifty year magical campaign with a few tips thrown in combined with a really long discussion about quiche.
Which is to say it is excellent. And very funny.
If, like me, you are among the fans that just wishes we could chain him somewhere, feed him quiche and farm him for more magical anecdotes then you have totally come to the right place.
Because it’s all there in abundance. You still get that vague lowering of the blood pressure that My Life With The Spirits gives you from just reading about another magician’s errors and setbacks. (That may sound mean-spirited but I think you know exactly what I mean. It’s gratifying to know that it happens to other people.)
It also follows the same format of magical wisdom told in an ‘inspired by true events’ way but still… ‘Follow up’ just aren’t the right words. I prefer companion to follow up.
Largely because the book is structured quite differently. On first reading it seems less balanced than My Life With The Spirits. There are fewer anecdotes but they are covered in greater detail, and the whole thing seems to end rather abruptly.
On second reading you see the method in the strategy, however.
So if you remove the expectation of autobiography that thinking of it as a ‘follow up’ engenders, you are left with something far greater than the sum of its parts: An extremely thoughtful and deceptively profound little meditation on magic from one of the field’s living legends.
For whatever reason, I find myself at this season of my life unable to approach the subject of this book from any direction other than relating my personal experiences. This is not to say that I haven’t integrated a great deal of theory and technical information within my non-chronological narratives… But it is the story that informs -the story that teaches- the story that reveals the magical “how-why-ness” (and in some instances, “the how-why not-ness”) of the magician’s life.
The way he uses story -and even his decision to use it in the first place- gives us insight into the decades of hard-won wisdom he is looking to share. Story is the best way to do this. That’s why they call them Zen koans and not Zen infographics.
Low Magick intuitively understands this truth and uses it to maximum advantage.
Also there is quiche. Have I mentioned that yet?