I ran down Gray’s Inn Road and ran
Till I was under a black bridge.
This was me at nineteen
Late at night arriving between
The buildings of the City of London.
Midnight. I hear the moon
Light chiming on St Paul’s.
The City is empty. Night
Watchmen are drinking their tea,
The Fire had burnt out.
The Plague’s pits had closed
And gone into literature.
Between the big buildings
I sat like a flea crouched
In the stopped works of a watch.
In the between space of what blogs were and what they are becoming -in person discussion, comments, social posts, actual blog posts and lived personal experience- let us see if we cannot contribute something to move discourse. (What’s a ‘blog go-round’ look like when nobody posts anymore?)
Cat mentioned something in the comments of a previous post regarding pulling straight-up tech out of Kate Griffin’s magical London series of novels. He and I will have to have a long drink about that at some stage fairly soon. But for now, let’s pop the hood on its implications for a bit.
Kate Griffin -admittedly a pen name- is ‘real’. London is ‘real’. Spirits and angels are another kind of ‘real’. Mix them together and you get fiction which may be another kind of ‘real’ that has no parallel in the observable world. (“The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”)
London is a wonderland for novelists for the same reason it is a wonderland for sorcerers, imperialists, chancers, climbers, terrorists, industrialists, admirals, bishops and foreign princes. Continuing the metaphor from W.S Graham’s The Night City (above), it is a watch, an inevitable mechanism of Power that is re-wound with each new arrival, most of whom end up crushed in its unfeeling cogs.
It has a language and a rhythm all of its own and I think Kate Griffin speaks it, which is why Cat can pull tech from her books. Myself, I probably ‘use’ her novels like a brand book or an ’emotional reference guide’ or a colour wheel. It ‘feels’ like Londonspeak but I already have my own phrasebook. This morning, for instance, I ‘pulled’ a spirit back to my home altar from a crossroads in Soho where I had installed it and my flatmate -who works in the area- messaged me at the same time to say all the water has gone out in his block.
This gets back to the discussion Peter and Alkistis and I were having last week about ‘natural witches’. And so I want to expand on my definition of witchcraft as being where the grimoire tradition interacts with the local biosphere. The graph below relates specifically to the western tradition, but honestly, I can’t think of a single one for which it does not hold.
A few things to note.
- Each of these terms are chosen for their deliberate ambiguity.
- Each of these described segments are subject to adjustment, to getting the interface between them correct, balanced. Most people don’t shift the ‘place’ part all that often but I have, with great success. (Occasionally.)
This, then, is ‘natural magic’.
When Jake released the text of his The Other Magicians talk earlier in the year, it was widely mis or over interpreted. There was not some secret, continuous ‘working class’ version of grimoire magic carrying on throughout the Middle Ages in parallel to the more-studied, Middle Class, fringes-of-the-church, literate tradition. Most of these people couldn’t even read, you morons. The was, however, the sporadic, localised appearance of parts of the books -presumably the astrological parts were the commonest- within the context of hyperlocal ‘natural magic’…. folded into local herblore, saint days and whatever latent psi powers the magician in question was swapping for a few eggs or a cabbage from his or her fellow villagers. These shysters and ne’er-do-wells are ‘the other magicians’ the grimoirists sought to distance themselves from in their introductory warnings.
There is no historical record for this current -if we can even call it that- for a number of reasons. Firstly, the poor and the gross are generally forgotten fairly quickly, even within one generation. Secondly, they don’t own anything of interest that survives into the historical record. When I think of the ‘natural witches’ I know today, there will be nothing or almost nothing to single them out as such once they die. And this is in an age where we own lots of crap.
Finally… well, scroll back up to that pie chart. Those three pieces are going to be shaped very differently for a natural magician in Hammersmith than one living in a village outside Cologne. Place is different, obviously. But also Self and Spirit World are terms that are just as good as any other to describe things we have no real idea about. You can consider them both ‘in your head’, you can consider one ‘real’ and the other ‘illusory’. It doesn’t matter. These three components and the interface between them are the beginning and end of your ‘enlarged sovereign experience of life’.
often sometimes despair of what the twenty first century’s hyper-connectivity throws up. It can feel like so many people are sitting around in a burning building, waiting to be told to flee. What spell should I use? What spirit should I call? Are spirits this or are they that? (Flee! You idiots, flee!) But I wonder if this wasn’t always the case and it’s just that now we can see it unfold before our faces/screens. It’s been mentioned here before, but the continued existence -after a fashion- of magical orders in the closing days of 2015 is so out of place it’s like finding a horse in a car wash. They were high imperial fads -German and British- that briefly provided a vector for the transmission of tech in a world that didn’t have the internet. (And in Germany’s case, a place for middle-aged swingers to gather in a world where there was no such word.)
The handful of public success cases emerging from order systems only seemed to occur when the person in question went off piste (and then invariably made the mistake of founding yet another little club). This is only to be expected in an environment where the aspirant picks up a few pieces and starts moving around the place/self/spirit world borders while everyone else sits around waiting for instruction. In this analysis, there is no ‘successful magic’ that is not ‘natural magic’.
A good example of this would be a recent post from my distance bestie, Kalagni, about visualisation and such:
It took me a long time to deal with it personally. Now it seems stupid to me, but when I was in my early teens and getting into magick it felt like I was failing when I couldn’t see what I was supposed to see, especially when friends who I was teaching would start seeing things. Things really took off for me when I decoupled sight/see/visualize and recoded it into my head as perception/understand/realize. Suddenly I realized I was aware of a lot more than I had been accessing, because I had been ignoring how my brain was coding it.
Again, this doesn’t feel like something I should have to say, and I see this mentioned from time to time. Yet two weekends ago I was hanging out with some woogity folks, and one of the people there just had this revelation, suddenly they were aware of new things, because they stopped looking for images and started using another sense.
We are so quick to point out that materialist science is patently talking out of its ass in its attempts at cosmology -and I’ll get back to those pricks- but magicians are often just as bad. We have no idea what the spirit world is. None at all. So why are you still sitting in that burning building? Consider Julian’s observation on the ‘reality’ of spirits:
I’ve certainly seen (for example in response to Steve Dee’s recent article about sculpting and altars) folks getting exercised about how their gods are not ‘just archetypes’ and their mystical path as something much more profound than neurological hacking plus a pointy hat. In my view this kind of opinion (also voiced by Nick Farrell in his article) perhaps misses the point that psychology is, of course, literally the study of the mind. I’m not sure that there is anything much more magical than the psyche and, solipism notwithstanding, all magical acts (even those with apparently measurable parapsychological effects) require a mind somewhere in their operation.
There is also the confusing idea of ‘real’ (Nick in his article says “Personally I would like an NLP “expert” to try to explain a real Daemon as an extension of their unconscious as it strangles him or her with his own intestines.”). The problem with ‘reality’ is that it is inevitably mediated through inter-subjective consensus (ie people’s minds). But anyone with an appreciation of psychology will appreciate that the mind is also ‘real’. Placebo, psychosomatic illnesses and the power of positive thinking are all real, and indeed have hard-science measurable effects. However whether a demon (however arcane our choice of spelling) can, in a literal measurable sense, strangle someone using their own gut is, I would suggest, open to debate (and a request for proof).
As you know, I most often fall into the ‘spirits as external entities’ (in at least some cases) camp, but this position is taken up in the context of a mostly-idealist universe. So the difference between head and not-head is….?
Contains drug references
About a year ago, I compiled a bunch of anecdotes about some personal altered states I’ve experienced, but hadn’t been able to find a home for them until now. Riddle me these ones out. To Chris’s recent post about memory, these are some of my most ‘real’ experiences.
- Whilst underage drinking in my friend’s old house by Lake Macquarie -I believe we were drinking stolen port and smoking marijuana- I was running through his hallway and turned left into the living room. Out the corner of my right eye at the end of the hallway I saw what I can only describe as a glowing, golden Slenderman. It was a featureless stick figure that I knew was some kind of Aboriginal being.
- Again, whilst underage drinking and camping by the lake -this time on Southern Comfort- I took myself off for some drunken meditation. Either I fancied myself a Buddhist at the time or I was trying to convince the people I was with that I was Buddhist for some kind of… camp cred? Anyway, I sat by a rock on the lakeshore for all of ten minutes and meditated based on what I could vaguely remember from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. That night, while attempting to get to sleep, I had a ‘vision’ that of a skyscraper-sized sitting Buddha floating/flapping (like a prayer flag/tent flap) in the sky, just above the trees we were camped under. This wasn’t a ‘religious enlightenment’ vision, because it wasn’t the Buddha. The vision seemed to know that this wasn’t its natural shape. It was almost, but not quite, angry about the whole experience. Its appearance was perfunctory and impatient: I had asked for this and it showed up, but it didn’t have to like it.
- When I’d go clubbing and take ecstasy, I would experience the sensation of becoming considerably less clairaudient/yovant, as if the phone lines had been cut, but considerably more clairsentient. Every time I would have the awareness of my companion spirit beings around me, almost to the point of solidity. But I couldn’t communicate with them.
- During my advanced SCUBA course when we were doing our deep dive, we were warned we might experience nitrogen narcosis. Which I did. Waiting on the seafloor at the mouth of the channel that goes into the lake mentioned in the previous anecdotes (suddenly realising I need to look into this more when I am next in Australia, especially as it fills with sharks), I got bored and started bouncing my gloved fingers on the sand. To my mind, it looked like the lunar landing module sending up little puffs of moondust. But it wasn’t just that it looked like it, it was some kind of micro/macro connection between the two events that I found so fascinating I was laughing into my regulator. If I hadn’t been with a group who attracted my attention when it was time to resurface, I would have stayed down there till I ran out of air and died.
- I’m pretty sure I switched dimensions or had some kind of ‘experiencer’ event in Fiji when I was about fourteen. I’d been drinking kava with people in the workers village but that had been hours before. Then I got lost on the way back to the room after supper. You have to understand how impossible this is. I know the resort so well I still use it as a memory palace, and it’s just one open patch of green between the restaurant and the room. The ocean is on the other side. There is literally no way you can go in circles. But I was found by security on the other side of the hotel lost in some greenery/forest. I still have a memory of them emerging from the gloom of the night. (Unless I was doing the emerging.)
- Because MDMA was very expensive in New Zealand (it had to be imported from Melbourne because all the gangs were making a local version of meth instead), we used to take Charge Pills, which were technically legal at the time. This is because they were worming tablets for cattle. (The comedown off them was worth than anything I had ever experienced. An ex-heroin addict told me it was about as bad as heroin leaving your system in terms of the physical pain.) They were created by a guy who was a former meth addict and so they were quite ‘speedy’… which meant you couldn’t sleep after taking them. I would lie there and have the most surreal ‘flip book’ of images show up in my mind’s eye… honestly as if someone was disinterestedly showing me flash cards… most of them were Northern European; Vikings, Finns on horseback riding down the street I lived on, mountains. One time I fully hallucinated a 70s style Italian restaurant in a basement club while on Charge Pills; exposed brick walls, chequered tablecloths, the whole thing. I subsequently found out the club did used to be an Italian restaurant.
- Whilst extremely high in an Amsterdam coffee shop playing house music that is graced with a very large statue of Ganesha, I had a ‘spontaneous Ganeshan godform assumption’ experience so complete that it is now, usefully, extremely easy to ‘get back’ to. I also got to experience how he became the destroyer/trampler -rather than remover- of obstacles via the speeded up, implacable movements of a very large mammal. (The elephant, not me. Although…)
Self. Spirit World. Place. And I can ‘impart’ none of it to you in a magical context beyond simply describing them as experiences of the interface between me, them and here.
Back to the materialists then. There is a very good reason why they will trot out ex-military psychopaths to tell you that consciousness doesn’t exist and –as Chris notes– memory is unreliable (although perhaps not in the way psychiatry would tell you it is). Because the existence of conscious experience and ‘unauthorised’ recall breaks materialism utterly. Memory is not located anywhere in the brain, neither is consciousness and -worst of all- it is now truly impossible to provide a Scooby Doo ‘explanation’ for all the psi phenomena observed in a laboratory setting, to say nothing of the real world.
This is where our oft-discussed Mind War becomes full-blown Mind Control. Their model has failed in the lab and so instead they run it out on the BBC and expect social pressure to do the rest. Which it largely does, probably by feeding into Chris’s speculative ‘normality bias’. (McMurtry’s ‘psychic censor’, perhaps?)
It is this particular attack of the materialists that is the underlying structure of the wider divide et imperia approach currently being dialled up to 11: your memories, your experiences are unreliable, invalidated. THIS is what’s really going on. The propaganda of western culture -its wars, its competitive victimhood, its goals- crumble if materialism crumbles, which is why there is such a rearguard attempt to incapacitate the threats to its dominance. This is the archonic magical goal of the newspeak utterances of the power elite: say them often enough and they become True™, despite your personal experience being precisely the opposite.
I want to tell you that this is almost entirely by design but I’m not sure if there’s very much point. Frankly, it’s just too late for a lot of people, if what I see on the internet is anything to go by. The damage has already been done to a large extent. (I attribute at least some of the drying up of the magico-wyrd internet to the decreasing capacity for discourse to be held in public.) We are experiencing why it was that covens were historically clandestine groups.
And that’s fine. As permaculture founder/Australian Gandalf, Bill Mollison says, “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex,
My London where I have shaped fetishes from Thames clay and let them melt in summer rain, where I have hidden sigils in the vaults of old orphanages, where I have installed and uninstalled spirits at crossroads, where I have poured out aquavit for saints and kings, where I have gathered dust from old hanging grounds.
My London is older than their London because they measure it in years, and bigger than their London because they measure it in miles. You probably live in my London already, even if you live in Mexico or Japan. In place of palaces and spy headquarters and tube stations and surveillance cameras, your ‘place’ could be made entirely of Indonesian rainforest and you would still be living in my London.
Because this London -my London- is the flower of cities all.