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

High Speech – from ‘illegal drugs’ to psychedelic sacraments

As summer slips away from the northern hemisphere and we head towards the equinox, we can gather up the sunshine of the bright part of the year and use it to nourish us as we descend into the darkness.

One of the high points this summer for me was Breaking Convention. This year 1,500 people gathered at The University of Greenwich for a three day conference consisting of over 300 different talks and events. Cutting edge virtual reality installations, cinema, stalls, art exhibitions, workshops, five parallel tracks of lectures and much more! As is traditional some of the finest moments unfolded on the lawns beside the Greenwich meridian line in the form of scintillating conversations between leading scientists, shaman, medics, ethnographers and many others. A new university building provided the setting for three amazing nights of entertainment, the high point of which for me was a set by the magnificent Henge.

 

As we move towards the mainstreaming of psychedelic medicine we can see the discourse around these substances changing in a big way. As this happens it can be helpful to begin to unpick some of the erroneous language foisted on the psychedelic community as a result of Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. The words we use play an important role in how we think and act, so it’s worth remembering the simple fact that illegal drugs do not exist. While it’s a common figure of speech to talk about, for example, LSD being ‘illegal’, the law can only apply to human actions. One can be permitted in law to manufacture, distribute and possess LSD (for example if you are a research scientist) but if you’re not permitted to do so by the State then it’s the act that’s criminal not the molecule.

The insidious illusion of ‘illegal drugs’ is very powerful, even for professionals in the field. When I asked the therapists at Kings College, during my recent participation as a research subject, which of them had taken psilocybin one researcher suggested that they couldn’t answer that question without effectively admitting to have broken the law. However, as I explained at the time, this isn’t the case as psilocybin isn’t illegal in itself. Rather people can be permitted—or not—by law to handle, possess, supply etc a ‘controlled substance’. In Kings College we weren’t breaking the law, as the mushroom medicine was being used in a licensed setting. While this issue may seem like something of legal nicety it has major impacts for the way we think about psychedelic and psychoactive substances. If nothing else in a recent governmental form I was asked: “Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?” to which I was cheerfully and categorically able to answer ‘no’.

All the presentations from Breaking Convention 2019 are being uploaded to our YouTube channel; stay tuned and subscribed so you can catch the 140 plus talks from the cutting edge of psychedelic culture as they go online. Here’s my presentation, the text of which you can read on this blog.

 

I was also really pleased to be on stage with collector Mark McCloud and Monkey aka Paul Guest the leading producer of blotter art. Mark took us on an erudite exploration of LSD packaging and acid counter-culture, while Monkey, ably assisted by BC Director Aimée Tollanran an auction of rare blotter art in aid of Breaking Convention. In addition to publishing and organizing the conference Breaking Convention also provides grants to support students and researchers.

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Blotter and Badges

 

As the northern hemisphere mushroom season arrives a new edition of the Psychedelic Press Journal is about to come to fruition. Readers will be treated to an essay on the magical use of solanaceous suffumigations  (much easier to evoke those Goetic spirits with a little datura in the censer), 19th century hashish eating in the USA, and an excerpt from the story of Michael Hollingshead, the subject of a new book Divine Rascal by leading psychedelic historian Andy Roberts. Meanwhile I’m taking part in the an online international Psilocybin Summit. If you’d like to join me for my talk ‘A User’s Guide to Psychedelic Ceremony’ please follow the link to sign up. On the Deep Magic events page you can also find details of the Trans-States conference at which Nikki and I will be speaking, my appearance across the pond in Seattle for the Three Hands Press Texts and Traditions Colloquium, and in October my psychedelic magic workshop at Treadwell’s in London.

Wishing you fabulous Fall and mushrooming success!

Julian Vayne