Sharing Stories and Keeping Secrets

The Magical Pact of The Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT) have been experimenting with online magic way before it was fashionable (or necessary, as in the face of a pandemic…). Over the last few months, in addition to online meetings, the British Isles Section (each geographical region has autonomous ‘Sections’) of the IOT has also been producing more public facing content so that people can get a sense of the kind of the magical work we do firsthand.

Disco inferno

You can now follow the British Isles Section of the IOT on Instagram where we’ll be sharing art, images from ritual work and a range of other enchantments. Over on YouTube, viewers are getting to discover the truth about the IOT with bite-size interviews hosted by former IOT Section Head Soror Brigantia.

Meanwhile, on my own YouTube channel ‘My Magical Thing’ continues to share objects and stories for a growing circle of esoteric and psychedelic practitioners. In case you’ve somehow missed them, the most recent film features the awesome editor of the psychedelic renaissance, Nikki Wyrd.

I’ve got a number of films ready to release over the next few weeks featuring everything from emerging ‘Instagram witches’ through to leading academics in the field of occulture. (In fact some of the My Magical Thing material is filtering from popular culture into academic online space.) Please like, share, subscribe and enjoy!

Still in virtual space: I’ve had the pleasure of leading weekly workshops in conjunction with Treadwell’s Books. The next one (this week) is on the subject of Left-hand Path Tantra. A few places are still left (geddit?) so grab some sacred ash, your kapala, and come and join me for two hours of theory, discussion and practice. In future, I’ll also be leading some very special workshops for the growing number of chaos witches and devotees of Baphomet out there, as well as sharing new content in my Cleansing, Banishing and Centering workshop, which received this rave review. Banishing magic pro tip! Here are two of the most powerful techniques known: The first is by me and my son, foolproof against any malignant entities, while this Vajrayāna left-hand path sorcery technique turns hatred from the haters into ecstatic kundalini energy! I hope you can join me at one or more of these Treadwell’s curated magical gatherings soon 😀

When it comes to the Tantric material one of its interesting aspects is how its ‘disturbing’ imagery (skulls, headless Goddesses spurting blood and other gore) functions as a mechanism to deter dilettantes, the prurient, and those without the necessary discernment or daring to walk the magical path. Some examples of ‘transgressive’ tantric images I use in my workshop come from the wonderful photography of Darragh Mason Field (I’ll be appearing on his podcast soon). In the episode where Darragh meets the Aghori in Varanasi he mentions how these Shivites – who get accused of all the usual ‘black magic’ stuff by the uninitiated – deliberately employ scary iconography and a dodgy reputation to keep away the hoi polloi. This strategy means they can get on with their devotions which, while extreme by some standards, are in no way abusive or threatening in the sense their detractors imagine. This gate keeping process works really well and can be found in many aspects of western occulture; By scaring off those who have been taken in by superficial ‘shocking’ stories of horror and malefic magic, only those with the determination to discover things for themselves, only ‘sincere seekers’, are admitted to the inner sanctum of the Mysteries.

Few actually bother to sit with the Aghori and find out the truth for themselves. I was honoured to be able to do just that while in Nepal in 2011. In fact I actually ended up taking over one Baba’s role for an afternoon. I had been chatting with the ash-covered incumbent of a little Naga temple on the outskirts of a town over several days. One morning I came to visit him, bringing with me my Thoth tarot deck. My host been drinking the night before and, after our conversation, where we discussed the relationship between the Thoth images and the iconography of Hindu and Tibetan Tantrism – he pulled a tarpaulin over himself and fell into a boozy, snoring slumber. Some local men from the village came up the track to sit beside me at the Baba’s fire pit out of which stuck his iron trident garlanded with rudraksha beads. ‘The Baba is sleeping’ I explained to the first visitor. ‘Ah yes!’ I was told, ‘this week the Baba is only drinking alcohol. No milk, no grain or meat. He is only drinking alcohol, he is very holy!’ This visitor soon spotted my tarot cards and of course asked for a reading. Several readings, and many chillums later, I left the tiny temple with my ‘very holy’ Shivite host still sound asleep.

One day I hope to return to the Himalayas but for now I shall content myself with the cliffs and hills of Devon, and those online meetings with marvellous magical people in far distant lands.

I hope that, dear friends, you are faring well in these difficult times. As I’ve said I plan to keep sharing those Magical Things. There are also some big projects in train right now designed to bring magic to some even wider audiences and, in time, gods willing, we shall all be able to share our magic not only online but in physical space too.

Wishing you and your community well.

Julian Vayne

When Tense Magicians Get Creative…

In my previous post I sought to wax philosophical regarding the way in which we as magicians try to work with dynamic tensions in our lives. We can use our art and magic to gain points of reconciliation, synthesis and blending, or we can let the dynamic tension go, reconciled in the hope that this more jagged energy will open up new vistas.

While this hopefully proved helpful and provided some sophisticated insights into the dynamics that generate and inspire our magic, I thought I would provide a couple of brief snap-shots of how I have used my own magical practice to manage during the Corona related limitations.

  1. Doodling as Spell-Craft.

As a young teenager growing up in Australia, I was an incessant doodler and would often receive encouraging feedback on Maths papers: “You would do a lot better if you spent as much time working on equations as you did drawing drum kits and surfboards!”

While capitalism may deride doodling as daydreaming with a pen in hand, I now see it as a powerful way of managing anxiety and unblocking creativity. If sigils are those stripped back symbols that we cast onto the ocean of the unconscious, I think that Doodles can be those sigils reverse engineered. Carl Jung, in his usually clever way, explored the way in which mandalas expressed the tensions and symbols present and emerging from the unconscious and for me doodles are a more punk-rock version of that. Here’s a nice Ted talk about doodling ☺ 

So if you are stressed or feeling blocked, unleash your inner automatic doodler and see what emerges. Here’s one of mine:

  1. Working with Slow Cut-ups.

I have previously written on this blog about the way magicians can use cut-ups to de-stabilise and transform the self. In using cut-ups we disrupt our attempts at coherence and linearity in order to improvise new expressions of spiritual creativity. I really enjoyed this recent documentary made by Carl Abrahamsson and Vanessa Sinclair about Genesis’ creativity and their take on cut-ups, and the way in which cut-ups allow us to write new stories of the self:

In re-visiting my own play/practice with cut-ups and its close cousin collage, I began to wonder whether I needed any more deconstruction given that the day-to-day challenge of getting through lockdown. In having to contend with the pressures of claustrophobia, limitation and compulsory interaction did I really want to use my old-style cut-up techniques to lob yet another psychic hand grenade into the mix?

Taking inspiration from the Slow movement I have started playing with cut-ups as a way of exploring multiple layers of meaning.  By layering I can acknowledge my own need for self-compassion as I move between the multiplicity of roles that the lockdown and my keyworker role demands of me. I love the centrality of the heart motif in the healing sigil that others have evolved in seeking to work magically with the impact of Covid-19. The cut-up both acknowledges the messy reality of my current situation and perhaps invites me to include new ingredients that will allow better self-care. 

Cut-up Sculpt for Self-Care

Shaking out the Body.

I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing the way in which my body is holding tension in response to our current circumstances. Whether it’s too many hours squinting at on-line video platforms or the relentless barrage of important but challenging news feeds, I have been aware of my need to get moving and allow my physical being to make sense of the almost endless cognitive download.

Sometimes I have sought the repetition of my running or even revelled in the luxury of an early morning (socially distanced) surf session. While I count myself fortunate to have access to both these routes, the place I have been going to most is dance. Perhaps inspired by my reading of his pacey and hilarious autobiography Porcelain, I have been revisiting the house-music back catalogue of Moby.

Here’s a nice video of Moby talking about his new album “All visible Objects”: 

Few things in my life are as vital as music and when I get the chance to lose myself in the range of emotions that it can evoke, I am aware of alpha-wave connections that allow release and some healing. Lots of very helpful research is being undertaken into how bodily based interventions allow us to process trauma. My friend Meg-John Barker has provided a super helpful summary of this over on their great blog:

Anyhow, these are a few of my own magical experiments that I have been carrying out; feel free to borrow them and mutate them as you see fit! 

Lots of Love,

Steve Dee