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

Everyday Magic – how to find time for occult practice in your busy life

For those of us from post-Protestant culture the notion of discipline in our practice often looms large. There is a sense that magical or spiritual practice is an obligation, something that demands a fierce activity and tenacity; this is ‘Work’ with a capital ‘W’, indeed it’s ‘The Great Work’.

As magicians we may wrestle with these feelings; the anxiety to get on with it, to do, to act, to turn up the heat on our practice. After all, if 20 mins of mindfulness meditation is good then seven hours of meditation must be better right?

Phil Hine in Prime Chaos expresses these feelings beautifully in the opening to this seminal work:

“A friend said to me recently, “I’m just not doing enough magical work at the moment.” I nodded, thinking, “Yeah, I’ve been there.” There is a kind of creeping Protestant Work Ethic implicit in modern magic, a view that you have to work at magic before you get anywhere, doing your regular practice-visualisation, meditation, daily banishing, muttering your chosen mantra on the train, controlling your dreams etc.- until it becomes ‘hard work’ accompanied by a guilt trip if you slacken off or take a break. Some time ago I was reading a basic magical training programme in some book or other and I thought, “Yeah, I bet this guy went to a public school”- the kind of place where you get up at dawn for a cold bath, run round the playing fields and get beaten senseless at every opportunity. The way the guy was going on, I wouldn’t have been surprised if some Archangel had appeared, thundering, “HINE! You didn’t do your daily banishing this morning! Stand in the corner boy until you can recite all the godnames in Assiah!” That sort of thing.”

It’s true that self-discipline matters and that magical practice is just that, a practice, something that needs to be enacted to be real. Chaos magic’s emergence into late 20th century occulture was predicated on this observation. You want to be a magician? Great! start doing something about it! Don’t wait until the guru, the Order or the Holy Book turns up. Pick up your wand (or just use your finger) and start experimenting. The attitude of punk and D.I.Y. culture informs this approach; sure your guitar playing, at least initially, may suck, but you’ve started a practice that potentially will lead to mastery.  Lao Tzu, who knows a thing or two, points out that, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

fireworks 005

Khaos Punx – Keeping it real since the late 20th century

Those feelings of practice inadequacy apply to many people. While some of us might have the luxury of spending weeks on silent retreat or months chowing down on Master Plants in the jungle – unless we adopt a  monastic lifestyle – we inevitably return to the day-to-day world and often the day job. After the ecstasy the laundry, as they say.

We can feel that once we are back at home, back in the office, that the magic fades into the distance. These feelings can result in us imagining that ‘the sacred’ is dependent, by contrast, on ‘the secular’. We feel that we’re doing magic when we do rituals, when we do our tai chi, when we meditate but not necessarily when we answer our business emails, when we walk the children to school or when defrosting the fridge.

If these feelings emerge it can be helpful to set goals and to recognize that even tiny steps towards achieving our intentions are important. We can seek the support of our community and find opportunities to practice together. This support may be in person or online and the very act of signing up to a course of study (and perhaps telling our friends and peers we have done so) can be just the spur to action that we need.

Another approach is to remember that perseverance is a virtue too. For while seven hours of meditation may be great in itself  it’s better to do 20 mins when you can over a longer period of time. In my own case; my hatha yoga practice is something that I’ve done at various levels of intensity for 40 years. Doing yoga irregularly but persistently has helped me be more aware of my bodymind and develop my interoceptive awareness. My formal yogic practice conditions me to stretch when I’ve been sitting for a long time as an automatic reflex. Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to have received teaching for some formidable practitioners of yoga and other body arts. At times I’ve joined classes. I’ve had opportunities to teach and share what I know with others, and to and to learn from Youtube teachers (my go-to practitioner is Adriene). In other periods I’ve done very little formal practice; just a few morning stretches and deep breathing. My overall approach to yoga is informed by the action of water; an irregular drip-feed of practice, variable in its details from week to week, but gently persistent over time.

water01

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” Lao Tzu

Finding ways to keep our practice up when we are householders can certainly be a challenge but it’s also an opportunity since by bringing our magic into the everyday we aspire to recognize the everyday magic of the world. We can aim to notice what we do naturally, what actually arises, and then discover ways to formulate these everyday, even humdrum occasions, as practice. This isn’t  a new aspiration as indicated by the  words of the ancient tantra dedicated to the Goddess Parvati the Saundarya Lahari (‘Waves of Beauty’).

“Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer, my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture, my walking a ceremonial circumambulation, my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice, my lying down prostration in worship, my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself, let whatever activity is mine be some form of worship of you.”

Here are a few more thoughts on embedding our practice in daily life…

…and a few reflections on mindfully moving through the landscape (psychogeography) – providing us with an opportunity for practice with every journey to work and each time we walk the dog.

May we each find ways to discover the magic in every moment!

Julian Vayne

 


Coming soon…

Saturday 31st August

Magical Words Workshop 

@ The Museum of Witchcraft & Magic

Boscastle, Cornwall

to-speak-with-spirits-spells1-e1499901785456

In this one day workshop Julian Vayne will help you discover your own magical words. We will use a range of practical techniques, including working with the spirit of the fabulous library of The Museum of Witchcraft & Magic. Explore the power of magical words and signs; from Enochian to mantras, from sigils to poetic invocation. Bring writing materials and your curiosity for this adventure into the magic of text, language, symbol and literature. View details of this and other events here..

 

BREAKING CONVENTION 2019

5th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PSYCHEDELIC CONSCIOUSNESS

bc photo1

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking at Breaking Convention, the mother of all psychedelic conferences, at the University of Greenwich, 16-18th August. This is going to be a massive, multidisciplinary event hosting more than 150 interdisciplinary presentations over three days, across FIVE simultaneous academic tracks. The conference expands this year and features more than a dozen interactive workshops, a visionary art exhibition, installation gallery, psychedelic film festival, a comedy night, theatre and performance programme, evening banquet, and celebrations every night at the new Student Union bar within our Telesterion building!

At Breaking Convention there’s something for everyone, with contributions from cutting-edge neuroscience, clinical psychology and psychiatry, pharmacology, sociology and criminology, policy analysis, anthropology, archaeology, ethnobotany, music, art, history, literature, theology, mysticism, indigenous perspectives, parapsychology, and much else besides. Hope to see you there!

Get your tickets here.