On Making Offerings

I’ve been working on some longer pieces of writing recently (an essay on Eleusis for a forthcoming collection, and others that will form part of a new book The Fool & The Mirror that I’m planning to release later this year).

This means I’ve got less time for writing on this blog, at least the moment, so I’m planning to share various musings and later practices via my Youtube channel Deep Magic (please like, share, subscribe and all that).


Echoes of devotion at St.Credan’s Well, Sancreed.

Here are a few thoughts on the practice of leaving offerings. These reflections were prompted by the image on this post of a tree hung with prayer ribbons (and some of the responses to this image).

I mention in this video the term ‘clooties’, have a look at the Wikipedia entry for more details. There’s also Wiki information on Madron Well in Cornwall. For examples of trees hung with ribbon style offerings outside of ‘Celtic’ cultural settings one might look to North AmericaChinaThailand (or pretty much anywhere…). Finally a lovely article with multiple examples, including images of St.Nectan’s Glen and one of my favorite sites sacred sites Sancreed in Cornwall.

As the light grows in the northern hemisphere of our planet, so we come out of our homes and more and more into the landscape. May we find respectful and responsible ways to enjoy the special places we inhabit, and take joy in our recognition of the sacredness of this earth.



Julian Vayne

Pagan Roots

I was recently reflecting at a Queer book group that I attend, about the issue of how we communicate about aspects of ourselves and the process of “coming out” and what this might mean. Whilst in that group we were specifically thinking about descriptors regarding sexuality and gender identity, it also raised for me the issue of how I adopt religious labels for myself.

Given that my own spiritual path is probably even more complicated than how I experience my sexuality and gender, it has caused me to ponder why in the 2011 UK census I chose to describe myself as a Pagan. In all honesty my decision was partially prompted by activism by groups such as the Pagan Federation that were seeking to increase awareness regarding the growth of minority religious communities. I was momentarily tempted to self-declare as “Jedi” (or possibly Sith), but in pursuit of the greater good I opted for Pagan.

Part of the reason that I take at least partial refuge in the self-description of being a Pagan, is the creative way in which many of the communities under that umbrella seek to engage (and wrestle!) with polarities and seek balance between them. Those of you who have read my recent series of posts about Androgyny will be well aware of my personal journey in exploring apparent dualities and how we as magical explorers dance with them.  Male/Female, Light/Dark, Internal/External all represent different attempts at trying to map and classify our experience of life’s complexity.

One such dichotomy that I have been considering recently has been the contrast between the vertical and horizontal aspects of religious expression.  Pagans of varying stripes (Druids, Wiccans, Heathens etc.) are hardly unique in trying to consider the tension between our relationship with the numinous realm of the vertical (gods, spirits, celestial beings etc.) and the horizontal plain in which we experience time, space, matter and relationships. Almost all religions seek to mark the year’s calendar with festivals that reflect the emergence or revelation of their given truth, but in my view, most Pagan paths go further in making use of sacred time and awareness of place in a way that brings the vertical and horizontal closer. The wheel of the year is not only a matrix in which the specific events of a salvation history can be placed (as in, say, Christianity), rather the changes in Nature during the course of our planet around the Sun is a divine revelation in and of itself.

Many forms of contemporary neo-paganism have at the heart of their theology a cosmological map that views matter less as something to be moved away from, and more a realm of experience in which our connection to the natural, the relational and the horizontal is explicitly the realm within which the vertical and numinous is experienced. It may seem obvious to state that our experience of the Gods inevitably happens within the realm of the life we know and experience, but I would argue that Paganism goes a step further in paying attention to the process in which the vertical and horizontal directly feed each other. Maps such as the Norse Yggdrasil are rarely realms of cosmic harmony that promise utopia, rather these World Trees hold realms in a dynamic tension whose frisson creates a Cosmos-driving energy.

For me, this more interactive process is perhaps part of Paganism’s appeal in owning its identity as a more emergent rather than revealed religion. While Paganism has its fair share of prophets laying claim to revelation and channelled material, over time (and through scholarship) it seems to be becoming more open in acknowledging the human soil from which these new religious expressions have grown. While our Gods are inevitably co-created as their archetypal patterns meet the challenges of our lives, these divine beings are no less real for having come through the filter of our contexts, our longings and our struggles.



The beauty of these World Trees is that while their branches reach towards heaven in an attempt to connect the divine realm to our daily lives, so also their roots delve deep into the soil of our unconscious in search of sustaining nutrients. If our Gods are to have true depth, they will hold a rich darkness alongside their light. Without depth and mystery they will be little more than two dimensional pop-icons that while momentarily distracting, fail to exemplify our own longings for authenticity.

As in the example of the All-Father Odin, such explorations are not without sacrifice and as we delve into the roots of our lives and contexts, our engagement with Mystery (Runa) may well produce both roars of triumph and screams of anguish:

I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded by a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.

No bread did they give me or drink from a horn,
Downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
Then I fell back from there.

Havamal 138–139

I guess for those of us who are magical practitioners, our relationship to the vertical was always going to be more complicated. If the simpler task of faith, worship and subservience alone were going to satisfy, we wouldn’t be walking this path. While my own magical work has strong currents of Bhakti yoga and devotion within it, I am aware that such acts are less about worship and more about the active use of body and emotion to gain alignment with the principles these deities embody. I engage with these divinities not just to further my personal solipsism, but rather to amplify those narratives and ideas that I wish to see in the world. For me these generally represent a guarded optimism and a desire for the mysterious and heroic that comes from the deep roots of our full humanity. I continue to grapple with the challenge that any insights that I gain, must be embodied at the horizontal level of my interactions with other organic beings and the planet we inhabit together.


Retreating in Order to Advance

The summer is a time for rest and relaxation, counter-pointed by the retreat time of (northern) midwinter. In the capricious temperate maritime climate of the British Isles the summer can be a time both of glorious sunshine and torrential rain. For those of us with children it means the delight of spending quality time together, having a chance to pause and to take stock before the start of the new academic year and the now headlong rush towards the nadir of the December solstice.

This summer I have mostly been on retreat in Cornwall. Part of this came in the form of lovely family holiday in West Penwith. Staying at a charming campsite managed by two friends (complete with gypsy caravan and our own new high tech tent) we had a base from which we could sample diverse Cornish delights from a marine safari (where seals basked on rocky outcrops and pterodactyl-like gannets sliced the sun-bright air above the swell) through to a some rainy-day virtual reality fun (with experiences such as a virtual journey into the watery depths and an opportunity to try VR art). Counterpointing our visits to sacred sites such as Mênan-Tol (an iconic prehistoric megalith, the Cornish name for which translates as the high-art sounding ‘stone with hole’) was a visit to an escape room, a kind of crystal maze-eque challenge cunningly constructed so that each one of us could contribute to the solution (we escaped successfully with just a few minutes to spare!).


Stone with Hole, photo by Nikki Wyrd

Camping provides an opportunity to reconnect with the simple and timeless features of life; weather, fire, water. The sky, that remarkable artwork beneath which we live our span, revealed itself in its star-strewn glory on a few nights. Lying on our backs by the campfire cushioned by sheepskins, we could look up and out into space, back into time, and marvel at the plane of our galaxy which we call the Milky Way. For me these times help keep the rest of life in perspective. What really matters is how a marshmallow burns when ignited over the flaming logs, or the amazing bright red colour of the large fox we spied out by the lake, or the whether one can spot a shooting star.

My second location for retreat was also in Cornwall but this time further east and on the northern coast. I’ve written before about the amazing place of pilgrimage known as St.Nectan’s Glen and this was where I stayed. Over the last six years the Glen has been beautifully enhanced by well considered new buildings, woodland walks, art and the planting of over 3,000 new native trees. By spring 2018 the Glen will also be available for retreats, with accommodation for around 20 people and the opportunity to have sole use of the space once the day-time visitors are gone. Nikki and I will be facilitating retreats there as well as helping other groups make use of this unique magical place so if you’d like to find out more please get in touch.


The magical waters of the Kieve

The river Trevillet falls some 60ft through a naturally cut circle in the rock and into the kieve. Joined by the outflow from two smaller falls (which can be seen from the new woodland walk) the wider stream flows through the woodland as does the path that visitors  need to walk up to access the site. The river then flows on its way down to Rocky Valley (where Troy Town mazes of uncertain age are inscribed upon the rock).

The Glen is rarely a place of literal silence. That said the only sounds that are audible, water, wind, and birdsong create a textured background sound that is at once both stimulating and restful. Further developments on the site over the next few years will include additional accommodation and the erection of a stone circle. But even in the hurly burly of building works those caring for the site have shown enormous sensitivity to its special character. For example, at one point some land needed to be cleared in preparation for the creation of a Zen meditation and sensory garden and Iron Age style roundhouse. Of course the easiest plan would have been simply to grub up the (not terribly impressive) apple trees and get on with the job. What actually happened is that the trees were carefully moved and re planted. Now in a much better place, and having been treated with care and love, they are flourishing.


Magical mazes in Rocky Valley

To go on retreat, however we do it, implies having time to listen. We make an opportunity to be actively passive. This may be very inwards (sitting in silent meditation in order to see what arises in this moment) or outward (becoming tourists and allowing ourselves to engage in a journey of curiosity and discovery). We can choose to downshift and spend hours by the river watching the play of light on the water or actively seek out novelty (in the case of donning VR goggles). Whatever we do, the aim is to make space, to change our usual modus operandi and engage with a different way of being that can shed light on our ‘normal’ lives, putting things into perspective and nourishing our souls. By stepping outside of our usual settings, we can look inside ourselves afresh.



PS: Nikki and I are running a retreat in The Netherlands on Altered States & Magic. This promises to be a magical weekend which runs from 9–11th February 2018. There are still a few spaces left, please get in touch if you’d like to join us.

The Psychedelic Museum: Celebrating the Summers of Love at Breaking Convention

This gallery contains 17 photos.

Originally posted on the psychedelic museum:
Rather like the psychedelic experience itself, Breaking Convention (BC) is a whirlwind of stimulating new ideas, interconnections and ramifying insights, a place to have preconceptions challenged, and a place to celebrate. This biennial, always sell-out conference on psychedelic research and experience, is a wondrous melting pot of influences. In…

Great Questions, Great Answers

I have recently returned from the excellent Occult Conference at Glastonbury where I had the good fortune to be co-presenting with Andrew Phillip Smith (http://www.andrewphillipsmith.com/)  on “Gnosticism in Theory and Practice: Gnosticism as a path of spiritual Free-thinking”. In pursuit of an engaging format, Andrew and I decided that we would pose to each other a series of questions about this theme in the hope that we could provide some interesting and erudite responses. While I will leave the assessment of our success to the audience, one of the most intriguing questions that Andrew asked was whether I had encountered any interesting spiritual beings during my gnostic explorations.

While sadly time did not allow for us to explore this question together during our actual presentation, musing on it did trigger an interesting process of self-reflection and insight. In short my most memorable experiences to date have been with Holy Wisdom (Sophia) and with my future magical self.

I have already written on this blog about my work with Sophia and while I have engaged with a number of god-forms in my magical work, I have been struck by the depth of her impact on me. I had long been acquainted with the personification of Wisdom as female within Biblical literature, but by engaging with her magically via Gnostic myth, I felt as though I have been given a new lens through which to view with the female divine across a number of intersecting traditions. For me this has these have led me to deep waters of Bhakti (devotional) yoga that I have found profoundly helpful. I rarely feel comfortable talking about the deeply personal dimensions of my magical work in that I find language often struggles to capture nuance without risking cliché,  but I would encourage you, dear reader, to explore for yourself the connections between Wisdom and the divine feminine in whichever path you follow.

It is perhaps slightly comical that as a Gnostic explorer I continue to be shocked by the direct challenge that this work poses, but I guess we are all prone to forgetfulness. In exploring the process of my own waking up, I have been aware of my own spark of awareness being embodied by a figure dwelling at the threshold of my consciousness. I have already written about being haunted by my memory of the Jesus I had encountered during my Christian past but this unease has a different quality. Differing schools may seek to describe this as an etheric double or the daemonic aspect of the self, but my own encounter seemed quite strongly connected to my own future self. This sense of personified aspiration or what Assagioli would call the Super-Conscious self might be explored mythically via figures such as the androgynous Adam Kadmon from the Jewish tradition or Balder “the shining one” from Norse lore. Whatever figure we might connect to, perhaps more critical is that we draw inspiration from the sense of becoming or unfolding they represent.


Bright God

For me this is the path of aspiration, guarded futurism and teleological endeavour. Magical work that has no aspiration or no real longing that it is seeking to fulfill is unlikely to sustain focus. Most of us who seek to follow an initiatory or magical path do so because we want more. We aspire to understand our past and who we are today so that we might maximize our being, and pull-in gnosis from our future magical selves.

Nema in her excellent Maat Magick locates such work in the figure of “N’Aton”, an androgynous future Self that holds within it both our individual and collective genius: “In N’Aton’s home line (i.e. the version of the future in which they are most fully realised), we’ve controlled our mutation into a species of double consciousness: the familiar one of individuality and the new telepathic connection amongst us that constitutes N’Aton” (Ma’at Magick pg. 65). Personally I love this perception of awakening as holding both individual and collective dimensions. Each of us will have our own unique challenge in either making more connections or establishing individual ego-strength, but N’Aton reminds us that both must be held in Ma’at’s balancing scales.


Just Goddess

My own ongoing explorations of N’Aton as a concept/being feel fruitful in that such workings can provide rich illustration regarding what we aspire to be, and the challenges that might limit such becoming. Such work can be quite edgy and disorientating (time-travel often can be!) and I would recommend thorough grounding at the conclusion of your ritual working i.e. banish, eat and preferably have contact with others.

In conclusion I will provide a snapshot from a recent invocation to N’Aton that took place as part of a ritual exploring our hopes and longings from the future:


Deep Self

Future Self

Quicksilver Messenger

Who dwells on the Threshold.



Dark-Feather Wind-Dancer.

Holy Guardian Angel,

Speak to us and support us.

Pull us forward

Come dwell with us now!



Crossing the Abyss

Some years ago I completed a probationership for Ordo Typhonis which consisted of keeping a  diary documenting magical work of my choice over a 9 month period. I chose my work to consist of making contact with my Holy Guardian Angel (HGA). It was interesting and very hard and also, to some extent, successful. I am not sure that I can claim to have had wonderful unmitigated success but certainly it seemed to be the case that I had some dialogue with the HGA with some very insightful and unexpected experiences. I discovered that some of the best visionary experiences happened during times when I had a very hot bath in a completely dark bathroom: raising the body temperature to fever levels seems to help a great deal. I had dialogues with the HGA superimposed over my body and also quite counter-intuitive experiences where the HGA seemed to appear as a devil-like figure that Jung might have called the Shadow. Other times it would be at work whilst I was doing monotonous tasks.

When I passed as Neophyte I adopted the magical name ‘Frater Ixomaxip’ which means ‘Let Her be known’ in Enochian. I used an Enochian ‘bornless ritual’ to contact the HGA. ‘Let Her be Known’ was my formula for ‘crossing the Abyss’, the Goddess in Binah on the Tree of Life becoming my lode-star: Babalon in effect ‘tempting’ me across the Abyss. On the 6th November (my birthday) 2015 our magical group performed a ritual to open Aethyr 6, ‘Maz’. In this context the Aethyr known as ‘The Urn’ became symbolic of the Abyss or sacred birth-canal. From that day on my life got turned upside down! On 7th November morning I could see a planetary alignment clearly in the sky, it felt like my heart was being pierced: Venus, Mars, Luna and Jupiter were aligned.

It seemed that I had a Jack Parsons moment as it appeared that Her avatar came into my life and opened Tiphereth (The Heart) for me opening the (6th) path of ‘The Lovers’ from Tiphereth to Binah. This person seemed to epitomise what Babalon stands for and I fell for her, which was a big mistake as she belongs to no-one! She had the qualities you would expect in her personality and appearance: charismatic, independent and flirtatious. As I got to know her and her complex character she revealed a deep love of animals and an almost pathological hatred for the human race: very much resonant with the Call of the 30 Aethyrs that I intone daily. She did not want to just drink the blood of saints, I think that she would have quite happily feasted on the rest of humanity as well, given the chance (or that is what she led me to believe anyway). Her radiant and lovely persona concealed a very troubled soul and I adored every aspect of it deeply: I could have kissed the ground she walked on.

Although she has no faith in magic now  (though she was a practitioner) she did randomly say: ‘I have come to set you free!’. I left my life and family behind and visited her in Thailand during her Asian travels: this was a big adventure for me and a massive upheaval! It also caused a lot of chaos at home-as you would expect! Would I be able to return to my old life? Would I even be able to open my front door when I got back?!

All this played out against the backdrop of other very serious problems in my life. Someone very close to me was suffering from depression and was making multiple suicide attempts and I was not getting the emotional support that I needed except from my special friend who seemed like a ray of sunlight in an otherwise dark existence. I was so deeply grateful and even happy coping  with anything that life was throwing at me.

Before leaving on my journey our group performed a ‘Babalon Working’ in March: around the time that Jack Parsons did his all those years ago, opening the 7th Aethyr Deo (note the numbers!), I designated this Aethyr as meaning ‘God is Love’ (Deus Caritas). This was the Aethyr that Jack called in order to conjure Babalon.

Numbers and dates lined up in uncanny fashion. I left for Thailand on 6th May and arrived on the 7th bearing in mind that our ritual took place on the 6th and 7th of November, 6 months from Samhain to Beltane: this was very significant. The path from Tiphereth to Binah is also the 6th path from the 6th Sephirah: without wanting to bore you too much. It was also the order that we opened the Aethyrs in.


Chart of Hell

My life would never be the same again. A great many synchronicities occurred during this period and I went through an emotional rollercoaster ride. My family were actually amazingly supportive and patient. I chose to be honest and open about what I was doing against the advice of most people. This also caused me trouble but in the long-run it seemed to be the correct way to behave.

I would say that ‘crossing the abyss’ is like most other things in magic: the most natural process in the world with magic serving as a catalyst, the difference being that it is a volitional act in this case. Any major life-crisis where you are forced to give up the way you define yourself, any ego-shattering experience where you manage to re-assemble yourself and move forward, in one sense is an abyss-crossing. I would say it is a process of maturation with some special features that come from the magical perspective. The sense of subject/object dissolves: the trauma of the sense of self being shattered leaves you unable to purely identify with what you would normally call self, it is a defence mechanism: you expand the limits of your range. When you are ‘everything’ then ‘nothing can hurt you’ anymore.

In my particular case this experience centred around the thing that I feared and loathed the most, the thing that was the greatest enigma for me: love and romance. I assumed the lesson to be: ’love without attachment’ but the trauma around the last year or two was more fundamental than that and the lesson is still not complete: will it ever be? As long as you breathe there are lessons to be learnt.


Magic about to Spring

Around this time of year, between Imbolc and the March Equinox, I begin the totes majix process of purification and cleansing, otherwise known as The Spring Cleaning. There is sufficient light to see that the windows of the house need a good wash, and the areas of the garden in need of repair after winter. Within me the spring rises up, my mood lifts and I spontaneously smile when I see the first snowdrops and daffodils emerge.

I’ve written before about the importance, in my view, of locating magic in the everyday and not only in explicitly ceremonial settings. This is the role of magic to ‘intensify the normal‘ as Austin Spare expressed it. Thus, as I potter about the garden, cutting some wood for the fire, sweeping the path, I allow my mind to mull over the projects that are coming up with the spring. I’m co-facilitating a workshop next month with David Luke and Nikki Wyrd in Snowdonia, Wales. This is the second Neuro-Magica retreat, where we use (to quote Uncle Al) ‘the method of science, (for) the aim of religion’. Informed by psychology and ethnography, using technologies derived from various spiritual traditions, we collaboratively create a space designed to generate insights and even peak experiences for our participants. That’s what we do.

Halfway up the stone steps, between the lower terrace and the enclosed grove of the second one, I find myself absent mindedly rotating a root between my finger and thumb. I’d unconsciously picked this up from the floor whilst sweeping, perhaps attracted by its alien gnarled shape. I am playing with this root, my hand above a ceramic planter in which a purple crocus valiantly pushes skywards. I take my attention to the Neuro-Magica project. I let my mind flow into the spaces that we intend to create. Mentally I step back and see how this project looks in terms of the some of the larger stuff that I (and the other two facilitators) are involved with (especially now that the psychedelic express train that is Breaking Convention 2017 is  filling up with speakers, artists, performers, films, installations, volunteers and ticket holders). I am aware of how the old root and the new shoot are emblematic of various processes connected with the projects and transformations I’m currently engaged in.

This example is not one of a planned ritual. Rather it is an instance of discovering the magical in the mundane; again of ‘intensifying the normal’. Ritual itself (to use my current favorite description) is ‘a series of inhabited metaphors’. I described it thus recently at a workshop I ran at The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. ‘What does that mean?’ asked one student, a perfectly good question, so I gave an example, something along the lines of this…


In Boscastle, Cornwall.

“Today in this workshop we are working within the library of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. The library is a complex web of history, words, authors, collectors and many other stories. It is full of knowledge, and of truth, and of lies. For the purposes of today we are going to imagine that the library is an entity, a being, a person, a spirit. We do this because relating to other beings is what our brains are good at (see this article for more on spirits). In a moment we are going to leave the library and go outside for a short time. We will ask Judith as our host, and co-manager of the museum [who was also attending the course] to formally welcome us into the library. As we come back in, we each need to greet the library as though it were a person (perhaps aloud, perhaps mentally). By doing this we are inhabiting (i.e. doing stuff) within a metaphor (i.e. that the library is an intelligent spirit which we are looking to be on good terms with).”

(There’s a full report about this workshop on the Museum blog if you want to know more.)

Sometimes these metaphors are ones we know and create (perhaps in a ritual), sometimes there are ones that we stumble upon (me with the root and the shoot), and others are ones we only see once we have done the work. To provide an example of the latter: I am acting as mentor in magic to a friend in the USA, using a combination of Skype and email communication. This person, acting on the discussions we had, created a devotional ritual to a saint. The ritual was an original composition and, like any art, grew out of the interface between the raw media (in this case text about and images of the saint), and the artist/magician’s creative genius. Having used the ritual for a while my friend began to see things in the rite that hadn’t been obvious when it was first created. (This included some rather lovely links to the iconography of kundalini  yoga and Thelemic cosmology.) This isn’t surprising since plenty of artists create their work and only later, sometimes with the help of critics and commentators, become aware of (potentially) deeper levels of interpretation in their creation.

When we do magic we are working with these archetypal forces or perhaps ‘deep structures’ of the ‘unconscious’or, to use that lovely term from Paul Huson, the ‘Deep Mind’. Our praxis is the reflection and articulation of these deep structures of the Deep Mind. This is why human rituals, however elaborate their cultural costume, when undressed, all look pretty much the same.

Another instance of a deep structure can be found in an example I used in my Museum presentation (and, coincidentally that same weekend,  also used by Nikki Wyrd in her workshop at the fabulous Glastonbury Occult Conference). There are complex relationships between written and spoken words and sounds. In magic we often use sounds and words to do stuff, to change the universe. Occulture is full of vibrated words of power, hidden names of God, mantras and sacred letterforms. While the languages (spoken and written) may be as different as Mayan, Mandarin or Sumerian (the cultural costume) nevertheless they still share deep structures, such as that demonstrated by Bouba and Kiki.

The bouba/kiki effect is strongly suggestive of the idea that word sounds are non-arbitrary, and that there is a deep relationship between speech sounds and the visual shape of objects. (This effect was first observed by German-American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler in 1929.)


How do these shapes sound?

Which shape is bouba and which is kiki? The vast majority of neurotypical people would say that bouba is the rounded shape, whereas kiki is spiky. When we talk about ‘high’ and ‘low’ notes or suggest that bouba is the rounded (soft, welcoming, perhaps feminine etc. etc.) we are articulating the common relationships between the psychic structures of our shared humanity. These deep structures are something magic taps into. Though they can perhaps never be precisely defined (within the conscious mind) through explorations, such as art or magical practice or scientific investigation, we can get a sense of them (we have a sense of ‘what is right’). These deep structures are our common heritage as humans (and indeed probably as mammals). Deep structures may also contain echoes of past patterns; from our families, our species and maybe beyond. To give an example of this consider the brilliantly poetic (and scientifically verifiable) example given by arch-mythographer Joseph Campell: Baby chicks from the moment they hatch know to fall silent and motionless at the sight or even the shadow of a hawk. Campbell observes: ‘Furthermore, even if all the hawks in the world were to vanish, their image would still sleep in the soul of the chick.’

As I pull the rotting leaves from the pond in the garden I am both doing a pragmatic job if I want to provide a useful environment for the amphibians and insects, and, if I pay attention, entering a metaphorical space. Turning such everyday actions into acts of magic is about being sensitive to the poetics pregnant in every moment of existence, and using our ability to notice these opportunities and align them with our desires.


Pond edge

Desire is what makes magic magic. Our wish, our intention, our (True) Will is what drives the magician to seize these moments of power. For me desire is like the concept of motivation in Vajrayāna. It is something that emerges in and through us; desire happens within the network of relationships. Thus we ‘keep pure our highest idea’ (again to paraphrase Crowley). My desire to clean the pond serves as a practice in which I clear out the clogged winter detritus of my own psyche and in doing so conjure a place for animals and plants to flourish in my garden. A win-win set of mutually beneficial outcomes. I get what I want and so does everyone else. I come to recognize my own Buddha nature by striving for my own liberation in a context where my desire becomes part of the larger project for the liberation of all beings.