A Review: Kali Magic by Mike Magee

“Women are divinity, women are life, women are jewels.”
Yoni Tantra

“Within, a Sakta; outwardly a Saivite; in the world a Vaisnava. This is the rule.”
Kaula Upanisad

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my previous explorations of the contribution that Mike Magee has made to development of the Thelemic current within the world of contemporary occultism here. Via the impact of the Amookos Order that he founded (the Arcane and Magickal Order Of the Knights Of Shambhala), and his accessible but scholarly translation of core Sanskrit texts, Mike has helped lay a significant foundation for how we as magical practitioners in the 21st Century integrate non-western sources into our practice.

The genesis of Amookos is often considered to be the result of Mike’s initiatory relationship with Sri Mahendranath (Dadaji) and the seismic impact that this had on his personal magical universe. While the encounter with Dadaji was undoubtedly powerful, it also came within the context of his work with Kenneth Grant and his Typhonian Order. Grant himself was significantly influenced by Eastern teaching and source material (as depicted within At the Feet of the Guru) and Mike is quite open about how the presence of this material in his work with Grant catalyzed his own journey eastwards. Prior to travelling to India and encountering Dadaji, Mike had already begun mantra work, embarked on in-depth studies of Sidereal astrology and Sanskrit, and was familiar with Kashmir Shaivism. While Dadaji’s relationship with Mike and Amookos sadly deteriorated due to the on-set of dementia at the end of Dadaji’s life, Mike was able to utilize his own significant skills as both a translator and interpreter to move forward on the path and this current volume is a prime example of his contribution.

For me, this book represents a brilliant distillation of over 40 years of practice, translation and interpretation of the Tantric Shri Vidya (Goddess focused) tradition. For those in the know, Mike’s work held over at shivashakti.com has long represented some of the highest quality translations of primary texts relating to the Kaula Nath path (upon which Amookos is based) and wider tantric traditions. This book provides us with an excellent drawing together of material relating to the darker aspects of the Goddess and specifically the Great Mother Kali.

The book has a forward by Phil Hine and contains numerous beautifully illustrated line drawings by Jan Bailey. The introduction by Mike contains a superb overview of the central themes, methods and approaches that are often utilized in approaching “the primordial Devi who is the root of all Great Knowledges….She destroys time, is time, and is the night of eternity”. Blimey! And we are only on page 4! As both a practitioner and scholar, Magee does not shy away from the complexity of the terrain he is seeking to depict and the differing cultures and historic periods that this material has emerged from. While this is far from a simplified attempt to reduce the Great Mother to a few bullet points, it does offer the determined explorer with a vital portal through which we can appreciate the contradiction and theological complexity that her traditions embody.

Kali Magic is at once scholarly and highly practical with sections on Sadhana that explore core techniques and technologies such as mantra, yantra and nyasa. The book contains helpful explanations of the major Kali Yantras and how their insights might provide vital keys as to how our practice might be earthed in the body and within the ritual space (whether actual or imagined) of the cremation grounds. In the latter portion of the book Mike provides us with vivid translations of primary source material that will allow our practical exploration to be based firmly within the depths of historic traditions. Personally I found these Goddess Upanishads and Tantras both powerful and shocking in their physical frankness. As Mike stresses, the way of the Great Mother and the Left Hand Path is raw and unapologetic in its exploration of how bodily fluids and sexual practices can be skillfully utilized in promoting the most profound alchemical processes:

“The miraculous Yoni Tattva Tantra is the best of all tantras. Because of love for you, this very hidden tantra is revealed. The only evil in sexual intercourse is disgust for blood and semen. He who mixes them with wine is discriminating in worship.” Yoni Tantra, Third Patala.

This is a truly significant work that represents a lifetime of scholarship and devotion, and while deep and demanding it also captures the raw beauty of Kali and pulls no punches in opening a door way to her mysteries. Highly recommended for those magical practitioners wishing to work with Tantric currents in a way in that is profoundly aware of the original source material so as to avoid either reductionism or consumerist appropriation. As we as Pagans and Occultists seek to evolve and strengthen our theology and sadhana in order to highlight the potent validity of our chosen spiritual paths, works such as Kali Magic offer a vital and valuable contribution to such processes of growth.

Steve Dee

Purchase Kali Magic by Mike Magee


Coming Up Next…

There are still a few places left on our Sacred Space Holder Program for people looking to develop their practice of working with Sacred Mushrooms. Join Nikki, Julian and the fabulous Fungi Academy crew in October on the shores of Lake Atitlán for a hands-on adventure into the science and spirituality of psychedelic ceremony.

For people who can’t make it in person to Fungi Academy HQ in Guatemala there is the Psychedelic Journeywork course, use the code ‘Julian’ to get a discount!

Julian is also going to be teaching again with Treadwell’s Books in the autumn this year with lectures and workshops, online and in-person, on subjects including The Meaning of Witchcraft, Queer Magic, Applied Chaos Magic, Aleister Crowley’s Magick and The Thoth Tarot

For more details of one-to-one mentoring and support, psychedelic integration services, tarot readings and online courses with Julian please visit julianvayne.com

Nikki and Julian will be running a ceremony at Medicine Festival and will also be speaking at Trans-States.

Steve Dee’s new book Chaos Monk: Bringing Magical Creativity to the New Monastic Path is out now!

In Search of Depth – A Review of ‘The Magickal Union of East and West’ by Gregory Peters

Much of the writing on this blog is preoccupied with the question of how we as Magicians of varying stripes seek to develop both depth and meaningful direction in our spiritual work. Rather than signing up to the concept of “one teleos fits all”, I hope that team Baphomet manages to balance a lively interest in the development of mature practice while revelling in the many potential ways that this might be pursued.

Once we move beyond the initial stages of understanding the core myths and ritual techniques of a given tradition it can feel bewildering as to how one can put down the type of deep roots that will enable more long term sustenance. While finding a helpful teacher or a structured Order may provide guidance for those lucky enough to locate them, I would not underestimate the role of a good book in providing us with new insight. Thankfully in The Magickal Union of East and West Gregory Peters has provided us with one of these volumes.

east

Peters comes from a rich background of Thelemic ceremonial magic and various lineages of both  Hindu and Buddhist tantra. In this work he seeks to outline some of the key ideas and practices that he and other magical colleagues have worked with, within the Ordo Sunyata Vajra (OSV) over the past 18 years.  As is suggested by its English translation as an Order of the “Adamantine Void”, this is a curriculum that seeks to equip the magician with both philosophy and ritual technique for exploring dimensions of the “true” and “silent” self.

Peters is an open and enthusiastic guide who offers the insights he has gained with a deep sense of gratitude to those teachers and currents that have informed his work. Whether it be the work of Kaula Nath lineage of AMOOKOS, Dzogchen or Chan Buddhist practices, he presents these approaches within an explicitly Thelemic world view. However much he has gained from these Eastern traditions, his work seeks to engage with them as means for getting to the deeper dimensions of Crowley’s work as it was carried forward by Kenneth Grant, and Greg’s own mentor Soror Meral (Phyllis Seckler).

If we are to move beyond superficial heavy metal styling’s regarding the expression of “true will”, we will need to explore what will this mean in terms of the transformation of self and the manifestation of Thelema and Agape within our everyday lives. This is not a rejection of the Western magical tradition, rather it is an attempt to reconnect us to those spiritual traditions that were critical to the reconstitution of Neo-pagan paths long deprived of their own change technologies.

Our author is a big fan of Kenneth Grant and clearly sees the focus of the OSV as being profoundly connected to the recovery of a perennial form of “Stellar Gnosis”. In contrast to Grant however, Greg (as a Tantric and ceremonial practitioner) provides us with plenty of guidance with regards things we can do. Malas can be blessed and altars can be created and there are plenty of ritual outlines that we are invited to explore and adapt depending on setting and inclination. We also spend time thinking about what it means to inhabit the “dragon seat” of meditation in order to explore the oscillating sense of being and non-being.

For me, this work provides some helpful maps for exploring the limited spatial metaphors that we as magical types can get hung-up on. If we adopt a psyche-centric focus for work, are we seeking to reinforce concepts like ego-strength or are we pursuing the dissolution of our self-concept? In seeking to simultaneously deepen our engagement with both True Will and the formlessness of the Void, Peters seems to be acknowledging the inevitable spiralling movement of the self as it dances between such poles. In sitting with a spaciousness that demands the alchemical transformation of our Will, Self is ultimately embraced even though its newer form may now seem barely recognisable.

I would highly recommend this book to those magicians interested in how the Aeon of Horus can shake-off some of its dustier, pseudo-masonic origins. In the spirit of Grant’s Typhonic work and Nema’s Maat magick, the work of the OSV provides some highly helpful guidance as to how we as contemporary practitioners can work with both Eastern and Western magical currents in a manner that feels at once respectful, deep and innovative.

SD