Keeping the Doors of Perception Open

For many years, me and Greg Humphries—artist, magician and woodsman—have been rambling over the Devon and Cornwall landscape, exploring the hidden psychogeographical, mythical and mystical aspects of the place in which we live. On the 16th of April 2018, the 75th anniversary of the day that Albert Hofmann first accidentally ingested LSD-25, we took one of our walks along the Cornish coast; our mission, to hide a psychedelic treasure.

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Bring me my bow of burning gold…

Greg recently exhibited some of his art at the Penwith Gallery in St.Ives, Cornwall. On show was the The Bow of Albion: For The Herald Of The New Aeon, an exquisite longbow, complete with arrows, quiver and magnificent leather case—all made by hand. Also on show were three of The Doorstops of Perception (well, once the doors of perception are opened, one might well require something to stop them banging shut!). One of these beautifully hand-carved doorstops is the principle object contained in the ‘time capsule’ we have buried.

Along with the Doorstop is a badge showing the iconic Albert Hofmann blotter art (the rest of the badges were given away at a ceremony three days later).

Also in the magical box was a picture of the artist, actress and magician Pamela Coleman Smith. The monogram signature ‘PCS’ can be found on each of tarot cards she designed. Just as there is a great (and not before time) reappraisal of female occultist artists such as Ithell Colquhoun, I hope it will not be long before ‘Pixie’, as Coleman Smith was known, gets a proper retrospective.

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Consulting Pixie’s tarot by her graveside, and giving thanks for her work

Why do this kind of stuff? In some ways it’s a continuity of the kind of psychogeographical projects that Greg and I have found ourselves doing throughout our longstanding friendship. (One of these is documented in our book, Walking Backwards, Or The Magical Art of Psychedelic Psychogeography, available here, for a limited period with full-colour pictures—until summer solstice 2018—after which it will only be on sale as a monochrome version). In other respects this is a new process: to directly (re)enchant the magical landscape of our place through our art.  Like our ancestors, we are making offerings to the spirits of the land, and in our own small way enchanting for the rediscovery of magic in all our lives.

Unlike the days of yore, when Greg and I recorded our walks with occasional photography, the ubiquitous magical tool of the mobile phone allows us to capture and share the digital traces of our adventures.

So, as per the reading above, our wand-waving knights set off toward the Tower…

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On the skyline The Tower of the Winds

There to sing with the wind…

Greg charges, prepares and blesses The Doorstop of Perception…

Artworks are created…

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Greg reflects on the nature and practice of psychogeography within the animist paradigm…

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Carefully setting the turf back,

Leaving no visible trace

On this power spot,

The spell is cast.

 

Ahoy!

Julian Vayne

 

Walking Backwards, Or The Magical Art of Psychedelic Psychogeography is reviewed here and here.

 

 

Finding your Way in the Woods – an audience with Greg Humphries

Greg Humphries is one of my closest friends. I met him over 15 years ago  in the Watershed Arts Centre in Bristol. Our meeting was set-up by the wonderful and wise Ronald Hutton who said we simply had to get to know each other. I remember carrying a copy of Crowley’s Magick (the Routledge & Kegan Paul edition, affectionately known as ‘The Big Pink Stiff One’ back in the day) to identify myself. We got on like a temple on fire, soon agreeing that an acid test of a good magician was their ability to interact successfully with spirits. And since the most frequently encountered spirits are other humans the measure of a mage is often nothing to do with their ‘occult powers’ or dark-n-spooky look, but rather their social intelligence, thoughtfulness, and standing in their community. We started doing magick together very soon after that meeting (with a big set of rituals on the run up to the major solar eclipse of 1999, but that, as they say, is another story). We’ve continued to do magick together ever since.

Many years later we wrote Now That’s What I Call Chaos Magick, Volumes I & II. I wrote volume I and Greg the second part of the book (although it was many years before someone pointed out to me that nowhere in the book do we say who wrote which bits). This book detailed our differing but complimentary approaches to the process know as Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

Greg in his natural environment

Greg in his natural environment

At the time Greg was already a practising artist (an early digital artwork of his is on the cover of Now…). I’m lucky enough to own several of his paintings. Artworks where the paint is often mixed with pigments and materials from the landscape they are inspired by. But then Greg’s art underwent a transformation. Away from visual art, and into what for him is a deeper practice. These days he makes artists’ charcoal, coppices trees, fashions powerful bows with hand-made arrows fletched in the traditional manner. He carves, builds, makes fire with a bow drill and works with the land. More than this, as an artist, as a magician, he passes these skills on to others. You can find out more about his work and the courses he offers at www.futuretracks.co.uk and via his page on facebook.

This interview was conducted as we sat by the wood burner in my cottage (if you listen carefully you might be able to hear my Guinea pigs rumblestrutting in the background). The music used at the beginning and end of the interview is by Munacuyki Sumaqta.

Enjoy!

JV