Could you tell us a little about your own magickal background?
Oh gawd – apart from a brief dalliance with the Theosophical Society in Wales back in the 1970s it was “in the deep end” with the Typhonian OTO now re-badged The Typhonian Order. I’ve a vague memory of writing to the address on the back of the Thoth Tarot cards, the one in USA. So for a while I was in touch with American adepts until they found some UK people – that would be Joe Claxton and later Mick Staley. As you know personnel change a lot in magical orders – people get expelled or drop out, as in the end, after about five years, was I. In the meantime I’d been initiated into the East-West Tantrik order The Arcane Magical Order of the Knights of Shambhala (AMOOKOS).
If you really want more biography there is a file on scribd under the fine title “The Curse of Merlin”
You’ve worked with a wide variety of traditions and systems, could you tell us something about those?
Typhon is the Greek name for ancient Egyptian god Seth. Kenneth Grant and his Typhonian Order had a particular interpretation of Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic cult and especially Liber AL. Liber AL is this long channelled text from an entity called Aiwass. Kenneth Grant popularised the ideas that Aiwass was Seth – although Michael Aquino probably has a point when he says that Crowley had very little conscious interest in Seth and he hardly figures in the script. Crowley missed a trick really – and you can see why KG and many other subsequent magicians got turned on to Typhon – it has got a lot going for it as a mythos.
You’ve lots of work on Tantra and Thelema. what does the term Tantra mean for you?
First thing that pops into my head is that Tantra is all about simplified rites, i.e something more intuitive rather than some types of ritual that require a lot of complex arrangements. Perhaps that has something to do with the sexualised magick that comes from that tradition – magick that works with unconscious drives and desires. Look at the way the Devil card has changed meaning in the last 100 years – is the Devil one who enslaves us because of our addiction to the senses or, as Tantriks say, is the sensual Devil the key to gnosis and liberation?
Much of your published work is about syncretism – for example the blend of tantra and ancient Egyptian stuff in Tankhem – can you tell us a bit about the relationship between magickal reconstructionalism, hybridisation and the creation of new traditions and styles?
Another obscure term for this is “Archaeological memory” – ie “the phenomenon of developing and interpreting ancient belief systems from material evidence”. Less loaded than syncretism perhaps. Archaeology, texts included, are really a sub species of human memory. Reconstruction is a form of remembering what we once believed. In the case of Egypt, there was a systematic wiping of the collective memory – a brain washing if you will. It is natural for these memories to begin to remerge given the events of modern age – beginning with the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt and the discovery of a lost culture.
The discovery of India and then “Tantra” by the West was a very exciting thing. The “shock of recognition”. We thought there was something unique about the South Asian approach to spirituality – the simplified, sexualised rites. But turns out this was just something else wiped from memory in the early centuries of our age.
Experts now tell us that sexuality as a means of expressing love for a god or goddess and also as a means of becoming possessed was a fairly mainstream part of the mechanics of religious practice in the ancient pagan world. These practices were swept away, first by old time Roman religion and then of course by the hegemony of the Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity & Islam) faiths. Victorian academics perpetuated this chaste view of ancient Pagan and Egyptian culture.
You very active in the occult scene, as a speaker publisher etc. how do you feel its changed and how do you think it will develop in the next N years?
Paganism has grown but so also has how people approach it. When I first got involved it was all about Masonic style magical groups, which still have a tremendous glamour for some, but most are aware that the inner reality is not always as powerful as it looks. Back in the day it was more common for people to take the schema called the Golden Dawn Tree of Life and project that onto any and every culture. I suppose there’s an assumption that the GD had somehow found the hidden key to everything.
Nowadays things are changing – it’s quite common to find a healthy scepticism about the value of the magical order as be and end all for achieving gnosis. There is more information now about the failings of those groups – those that claim to be about enlightenment but have, in many cases, actually discredited themselves. Not to put too fine a spin on this I actually wrote an essay (In Tantra Sadhana) called “When your guru goes gaga” – which is about just that – people at the head of magical orders often do go gaga, one way or another, it goes to your head. The ancients knew this and said : “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”
There are also some newly revived aspects of magick – although pagan authors would never admit that they weren’t always into things such as trance, dance, music, “eucharist”, the ancestors and the dead. What needs to grow is what’s been called the Rosicrucian approach to magical structure, something different to the more familiar Masonic thing. I’m not talking about AMORC! Go back to the appearance in the 17th century of Rosicrucian manifestoes. We could liken this to a surreal joke, untrue but also real. I think we will see more.
What are you working on now?
I don’t want to say too much until it’s done. I’m superstitious about that. But there’s definitely something in the air just now – for and from everyone. I’ve got some more material to release concerning the return of the Golden Dawn to its Egyptian /Hermetic foundations – more material for a Khemetic Golden Dawn. I’ve contributed some of this to a book called Phi-Neter (Power of the Gods) to come out in 2013. I’ve also helped out on two oracle decks that may see the light of day next year – a little one called “The Desert Fox Oracle” and a larger one called “The Oracle of Ombos”.
Finger’s crossed for another research trip to Luxor; long term there are important breakthroughs imminent from that direction. I have a couple of speaker engagements “up north” for the mid point in the year – I think the lecture title will be “Seven seals for deliverance” something like that – will know more when I get back from Egypt. Somewhere in there is some development work for our Companions of Seth “cloud”? I think we are re-imagining Abramelin, not from the Crowley POV but on the basis of its Sethian/Khemetic roots…
(You can find more on Mogg’s work on Seth and Egyptian magick HERE.)
Thanks very much Mogg, JV