In a few hours it is back off to the airport for country number four in the last two weeks.
When magic works I can't help but return to the description from this post about the Hellfire Caves:
It is pleasing to view magical correspondences as a means of kickstarting synchronicity until it catches, like the flint on a planet-sized cigarette lighter. This is my current operating hypothesis for the utility and efficacy of what we might consider sympathetic magic and or the law of contagion. (And why, one way or another, they all seem to work, which would rule out hypotheses that rely on inherent properties in the categories themselves.)
All the sigils, all the spirits... all mix with the storms and the space weather and achieve something no central bank has been able to: escape velocity.
Dublin was a 'proper' work trip, and quite a coup of one at that. This was the building we were in. Notice anything?
These are the tantalising hints one gets on the way to achieving magical goals. Magical goals like this:
Cap. Meet feather.
The event was fascinating for a number of reasons. Even the most mainstream of mainstream tech (Google doesn't even allow booze ads on sites that don't have logins) is swimming in our end of the pool.
Here's the keynote speaker. Embiggen the slide.
He was basically saying there is much media companies can learn from the Catholic Church. Which is true because they have been in business for one and a half thousand years but it is also very Rune Soup.
I sat next to him at the gala dinner and had long chats about drugs, the Catholic Church (his client) and a whole host of subjects that just never really come up at events like this. If you want to know why I am so confident in the Weirdness of the shadow state's tech it is because I am in the front row for its onshoring back into the world of normals.
But it is more than that. There is an Invisibles-ish hybridity that runs across the whole world. The woman chairing the panel in the image above? We were sitting and chatting at the table after the meal when one of the event's entertainers came up and asked her to jump on stage. To do something like this. (She's not in this video. I was drunk, leave me alone.)
Off she went like it was the most normal thing in the world. Maybe it is now? Maybe super-smart, super-senior techxecutives river dance mid-sentence with strategic partners? Anyway I fucking love it.
The taxi driver who took me back to the airport was fascinated by my hungover description of the presentation, An Archaeology of Dragons, that I was flying back to present. At the end he tells me this bizarre story about St Patrick and his home town and pagans and goats. It was very much in this style.
You try to achieve a handoff between two complex systems -western European air travel and London traffic- during turbulent space weather and you get crunched. But the plan was pretty rockstar. Land at the terminal, have my partner throw me the keys to the car and race from Heathrow to Glastonbury for the speakers dinner while he caught the Piccadilly Line home.
But I got there in the end. And I just have to say that Sef put on an amazing event. The reason I am so bullish about Glasto events is that there is just something about the place that promotes community, discussion and... I don't know... a feeling of magical communion. Walking into the George and Pilgrims feels like coming home, so it was a pleasure to have presented my talk there.
In this exact room. Which was still dressed for a (chymical?) wedding. The model of sharing research and provoking discussion definitely works. People were taking pages of notes. More than in Dublin. Rag on 'armchair magic' all you like... there are people out there doing kickass stuff... not just the few speakers that time constraints inevitably allow for. On a personal level, it was pleasing to see almost everyone write down the name of a book I have been banging on about for a year: Dr Witzel's The Origins of the World's Mythologies. I am completely serious when I say it is the most important book about mythology since Joseph Campbell.
After my presentation I got loads of questions, all of which were excellent. Let me tell you this is very rare among the English! In fact, remind me to tell Sef (hi Sef!) that the format for the next one could be adjusted slightly:
- Bigger gap for lunch
- Smaller gap between talks where, instead of questions, the audience is broken into groups to discuss their impressions of the last speaker... full corporate style. This leaves open the possibility of reconvening with observations/questions from the group to the presenter. Magic is littered with smart, observant introverts. Maybe this will help?
Anyone else who runs magic events where research is presented (rather than yet more interminable 'workshops') may want to think about it too. If corporate is invading our space, we can invade theirs, yeah?
Mogg Morgan kicked off with some fascinating new discoveries that prove his thesis that some of the Late Period (and earlier) magical practices continued into the Islamic folk magic of Egypt. He saved a few smoking guns from the very end that I'll let him share in due course. But they are doozies.
Something he pointed out in passing set my mind afire. The PGM is a largely-Theban document. It was found in Thebes, it was originally collated in Thebes, many of the spells that went into the collation were Theban. Thebes is built into a Pharaonic graveyard. As in, even some contemporary dwellings are/were in old tombs. You would have to get pretty good at dealing with powerful dead spirits if you live among them for more than two thousand years. Basically Thebes is Goetia's Mecca or Rome or something. I suspect much will be gained by pulling further on this strand.
I love Geraldine's talks. Her understanding of the Victorian and Edwardian magical scene is second to none. Plus it always feels like salacious gossip even though the people in question have been dead for up to a century. Anyway I have a new appreciation of and respect for Dion Fortune.
The Jake Stratton-Kent and Kim Huggens show! After much concern about the format ("how can they duel when they are largely in agreement?") it was fantastic to hear these two top folk talk about how, where and when necromancy survived after the collapse of the Classical World.
A point they both emphasised is that necromancy isn't all dark and spooky. Kim went further to say it is more often the opposite. Offerings to your beloved dead, giving comfort to the bereaved (which has come up in the last couple of interviews with me: that's the 'best' thing I have ever done with magic), and so on.
It certainly feels like the Dead are back in a big way in the western tradition, which is a hugely positive development. Much of the post-presentation chatter was about that very fact, how certain people are working not only with the ancestors but the dead in general. Love it, love it, love it.
I like this photo from the Saturday evening because it looks like Peter is summoning a giant Alkistis head. As ever with magical events, the best times are when everyone gets around and shoots the breeze over booze. Fingers crossed, but the 'occult revival' we appear to be experiencing may be entering what's known in investing as a 'crash up' phase. Good quality people are leaving some of the less useful forms -nuts and bolts ufology, much of the New Age, the Victorian magical orders, etc- and investigating more useful forms. There were loads of old faces but also a bunch of new ones who were universally good people (hi Alan!).
Remember that you can still buy a ticket for this event even though it's in the past: you'll get the talks on video, DVD as well as the companion ebook. (Which will include my dragon essay that I will write, appropriately, in the air flying over Mesopotamia later tonight.)
Come play with us next time. And if you can't, go and play with someone else nearby. This 'post-digital-age' networking and collaboration thing appears to be emerging. Get involved.