The following article has also been recorded as a podcast, below, for your listening enjoyment—take it with you!
The 4 Myths of Magick: The four biggest falsehoods that keep us away from Magick—plus, how to let go of them and reclaim our birthright.
Magick is the art of defining reality—and reality is defined by stories.
Stories we tell ourselves about who we are. About who other people are. About what history is. About what the future will be.
Most people have a story, and they're sticking to it. Even if it's a bad story, one that produces a bad quality of life, they'll likely defend it with their life rather than go through the uncertainty of changing it.
A magician is somebody who understands that the world is made of stories, and has learned that by changing their own story, they can change their life—maybe even the boundaries of reality itself.
So: Lesson One. The first story a budding magician must learn to change is the story their culture has sold them about magick itself.
Our culture buries magick under a giant heap of fear and shame—bad stories about how it's "evil," "dangerous," "not real," "juvenile" and "anti-science." That's because magick leads to individuals thinking for themselves, and defining their lives as they like... and that just ruins everything, doesn't it?
As long as you accept these bad stories, they will be real for you. If you change these stories for yourself, reality will change accordingly. In this way, the fear of magick itself represents the first dragon to be slain in the great Grail Quest of Initiation.
How helpful of this dragon to present itself in order to aid us in developing our magical skills!
Remember: Belief helps shape reality. Belief might not change the laws of physics, but it will change how we perceive, compartmentalize, react to and act upon the material facts of life and the universe. That means that our beliefs are almost wholly responsible for our lives—the steering mechanism, if you like. Change your focus, change your reality.
With that in mind, here are four myths—bad stories—about magick that a young magician must overcome and replace with good stories.
1. It's Not Real
The primary misunderstanding that people have about magick is that it is imaginary and "made up," and therefore without value.
The magician replies: Why yes, of course magick is imaginary. Magick is the science of imagination.
A magician understands that everything that has ever come into existence, everything that has built the world we live in—from penicillin to great art to atomic bombs—has existed first in the imagination, second in the physical world. Everything humanity has ever done has begun as inspiration, dream and fantasy, and then has been manifested from mind into matter through hard work and trial-and-error experiment.
Yes, magick is "imaginary." The gods are imaginary. Spirits are imaginary. Chakras, energy meridians and psychic phenomena are imaginary.
But what else is imaginary? Your reputation is imaginary. Your story about what happened to you in the past is imaginary. The future you think you will experience is imaginary. Love and lust are imaginary. Anger, hate, resentment and jealousy are imaginary. Brands, social hierarchies and ideologies are imaginary.
None of these things exist in any measurable way as anything except tangible imagination... and yet they utterly control our lives, for better or worse. You cannot see, hear or touch them. They exist purely as clusters of thought and emotional resonance—but people live, die and kill for them every day, because most of these imaginary constructs are shared between individuals, and are therefore as important as the physical world (or perhaps even more important).
To become a magician, a simple leap is required. One must understand that the imagination is real on its own plane, that is, that it is simply a subtler gradation of reality—the part of reality you can't touch. We understand that the Gods, angels, demons, spirits and, truly, anything that the mind can conceive is "real" within the world of the imagination, and can be interacted with on its own plane. Magick is a set of tools for doing just that, and for manifesting "imaginary" events as "real-world" genius, intuitive leaps and potentially world-changing ideas and creations.
Magick.Me's courses make this plainly clear. They show you that magick is the key to unlocking your imagination—and that your imagination is the key to unlocking reality. The human race has proven over and over again that there are no limits to what it can do. Whatever we can imagine—given the right effort, tools and time invested—we can achieve. And magick is the key to unlocking the fountainhead of inspiration itself, the beginning of the entire process of manifestation.
Since the imagination is where we have gotten everything we value in life—everything that has let us overcome the hardships of physical reality, and everything that makes life worth living—don't you think we should get better at navigating and working with it?
2. It's "Evil"
This is an easy one.
Magical and pagan systems have been reviled and called "evil" for a couple of thousand years. Why?
Magick has frightened people in the past because it gives people a significant amount of both power and responsibility. Instead of giving dictates about what reality is and exact laws to follow, magick gives you tools and says "experiment and find out what works for you, what is true for you, what is beautiful for you." This requires work and it requires individual integrity, and most aren't ready for that. For most, it's easier to dismiss and attack magick than to examine the parts of themselves they aren't comfortable with.
Carl Jung's concept of the Shadow is particularly useful here. The shadow is the part of ourselves that is, generally speaking, made up of all the things we don't like about ourselves, have labelled "unacceptable," and have buried. When people repress their shadow instead of working on it and with it in order to achieve greater psychological integrity and wholeness, they tend to project it. Practically speaking, that means that when somebody hates something about themselves, they tend to see that trait or complex in other people, and then will try to criticize or destroy it *in them*. All you have to do is turn on the news, or go on social media, or read any part of world history in any time and place, to see this deadly mechanism at work.
Historically, this is the primary driver behind events like witch-burnings and the Inquisition. People don't like to be shaken up. They don't like to be reminded of their own laziness. And so they attack.
So, look past the shadow projections. Magick is not evil. It is simply a tool. It can be used correctly or incorrectly. Those who do magick must take upon themselves responsibility for their own actions, just as those who drive cars must. Magick.Me is magick for responsible, mature adults.
Magick.Me does not offer any harmful or negative material whatsoever. But we also don't dumb the material down or treat our students like children. What's on offer is the full toolkit of magick—and we show you how to use it for the best possible reason, which is to further your own spiritual development. But it's left to you how best to do this, because magick is never the same for any two people. It's wholly dependent on the background, time, inclination and circumstances of each individual magician.
3. It's Juvenile
Well, let's face it. A lot of magick can be juvenile—an elaborate game of Renaissance Faire-style dress-up and play-acting. Or simply unhelpful superstition. But that's just a distraction: Real magick is one of the most advanced systems of thought in the world—the natural activity of Promethean geniuses.
The American transpersonal theorist Ken Wilber (b. 1949), who has spent decades studying Hermeticism, Zen, Advaita Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhism and many of the world's other esoteric spiritual traditions, has an incredibly helpful way of untangling the difference between silly, pre-rational magical thinking and the transpersonal states that come with serious spiritual practice. He calls this the pre/trans fallacy.
The model looks like this:
• Mankind's earliest modes of thinking were characterized by magical and mythic literalism, in which people held superstitious views about reality or literally believed in the existence of sky gods. This kind of worked for people, but not particularly well.
• As history progressed, the magical and mythic worldview was replaced by the rational, modern and postmodern modes of thought, in which ALL magical and mythic thinking was discarded in favor of reason, the scientific method, democracy, progressive humanism and so on. This worked much better, but left people feeling kind of empty inside as the universe was reduced to being "just" a machine.
• Many brave (and often isolated) individuals are now progressing past the postmodern stage of development into transpersonal consciousness—the path to which is shown by spiritual traditions like Advaita Vedanta, Vajrayana Buddhism, Sufism or, in my little corner of the world, the Western Esoteric Tradition, a.k.a. Hermetic Magick. Transpersonal states are marked by a sense of being "more than just a body," of being interconnected with all life, of seeing through the "game" of phenomenal reality and many other heightened or "enlightenment"-style states of varying levels of duration and usefulness. In such advanced states the idea of magic returns—not superstitious magic, as in "I'm going to stick some pins in a potato and see if I can ruin somebody's day" but magic as in "I am an individual expression of the totality of the universe, and therefore my words, deeds and choices can positively affect the entirety of the universe."
Now, here's the thing: Individuals who are still in the rational, modern or postmodern stages of development can't tell the difference between pre-rational states and trans-rational states. To them, superstitious beliefs look exactly the same as trans-personal awareness, and they're liable to lump ALL of it together as "juvenile New Age nonsense." This is the pre/trans fallacy.
Add to this the fact that many people reaching towards transpersonal states ALSO often can't tell the difference between pre-rational and trans-rational modes of consciousness... AND the fact that books on both pre- and trans-rational awareness are sold in the same section of bookstores... AND the fact that pre-rational shamanism can be (and often is) easily used as a mode of expression by somebody in trans-rational awareness... and we're left with some truly confusing territory!
What we have is humanity's greatest hope for evolution—trans-rational awareness—mixed together with superstition and wishful or primitive thinking, because to rational, modern or postmodern consciousness, it's all simply "that weird stuff." That makes us pioneers, outside of culture's comfort zone, with no clear guides!
Magick.Me tackles this issue head-on by clearly focusing on trans-rational awareness and showing you how to get there. In a way, this is the entire point of Magick.Me (and my work in general)—to show what's of value in Magick and leave aside all that's not, so that you can get to where you're going without taking wrong turns.
4. It's Anti-Science
There is, at present, a great culture war between religion and science—bitterly fought on both sides over issues like creationism vs. evolution.
Magick occupies a strange third position in this battle. Religion sweeps magick aside because it breaks the rules, and shows people how to make spiritual meaning in their own way instead of relying on a priest class, and so of course tarnishes magick as "evil." Science dismisses magick because it considers its claims laughable.
But both of these perspectives completely miss the mark.
The truth is that magick is the parent tradition of both religion and science. It was the original tribal shamans who had the mad, wild, visionary experiences that were later codified into one-truth religions, sterilized and made cut-and-dry for the masses. Priests are those who capitalize on the original work done by shamans.
And it was the alchemists who gave birth to science—materialist science being only a tiny subset of the Grand Alchemical Project to understand all of reality. Science is only the part of alchemy that is concerned with how matter operates. It has forgotten that its parent tradition has far greater horizons, and wished to understand the laws of all nature, including the laws of the spirit, and of the soul. This is the true science that men like Isaac Newton, Giordiano Bruno and even Albert Einsten were deeply engaged in.
Magick is the only way to glyph the Sum Of All Human Curiosity. It is what happens when people seek to confront and understand reality HEAD ON without any pre-conceptions, in order to understand life as a whole.
This is how Magick.Me teaches magick—head on. We give you the tools, and show you how to use them, but we don't tell you what to believe. We show you how to discover your own meaning—so that you can undertake the heroic voyage of exploring reality for yourself, and make your own meaning, just like the shamans and alchemists that have come before you.
Let these four tips help you slay the dragon of fear and claim the magick that is your birthright. A new Magical Renaissance awaits!
– Jason Louv, Winter Solstice, Anno Ⅴⅰ æræ legis, ☉ in 0° Capricorni : ☽ in 0° Geminorum
The 7 Mistakes of Magick: Avoid these common pitfalls when studying magick, meditation or mysticism
Magick is a very strange hobby. If you're like me, you've probably been drawn to it for lofty reasons: You want to understand the universe and your place in it. You want answers to the questions of life, the universe and everything—not just second-hand faith in somebody else's proclamations. You want a heightened sense of personal dignity, integrity and power to achieve the goals that matter to you the most. And—most of all—you want enchantment. You want to live an enchanted life—one in which you can immerse yourself in wonders and mysteries, and experience intensity that people who are checked out in front of their phones or TV screens never will. You want a heightened reality, or even to quest for absolute reality itself.
So, for any of these reasons or more, you step into the Circus of Magick. You might spend some time browsing occult Web sites, or visit a New Age bookstore. You might buy a workbook or two, and try the exercises. You might join a society like Freemasonry, a Wiccan coven, or even a Meetup group, and begin to meet others in your community with similar questions.
As you do this, you will slowly be leaving the "consensus trance," the one created by the daily ritual of Commute-Job/School-Consume-Television. And you will find yourself in a new "trance," one defined by ideas of magic, personal possibility, awakening, new group dynamics, alternative life paths. You will likely encounter a lot of incredibly inspiring ideas, and also, unfortunately, a lot of disempowering ideas and beliefs.
Here's a useful way to think about it: Mainstream society is a program designed to work the best it can for the widest number of people possible. Generally speaking, that means good, decent people who are happy to live quiet, decent lives, and content themselves with the victories of career, family, health, happiness and making it through another day. And that's a beautiful thing.
Outside of mainstream society, however, you will find a very different reality—the "wildlands" of modern civilization. Its denizens, for one reason or another, don't feel satisfied by consensus reality. That could be because they're ahead of the curve, or it could be because they're far behind the curve. That makes the "wildlands" an exciting, and dangerous, place. The "wildlands" are where society puts the ideas that are too disruptive of its daily activities, for better or worse. The strange ideas, the discredited ideas, the untested ideas, the potentially liberating ideas.
Magick is one of those ideas—or, rather, a gigantic cluster of ideas (a memeplex). Because those ideas haven't been well tended by society, they're kind of a wild mess! That's one of the reasons I created Magick.Me—because I really believe in the value of this material, and I wanted to properly curate and present it so that it's clear and succinct, and people can actually see past the glamour and the propaganda, the "spooky" image that people have put on magick.
So, as somebody who's done some advanced scouting, please allow me to guide you through the territory, so that you can avoid the seven biggest mistakes that people make when learning magick (I've made them all!). They are:
1. Poorly-Defined Goals
What do you want?
It's a simple question, but most who enter the world of magick and alternative spirituality never ask it, or never fully define the answer. As a result, they're caught up in the "dazzling lights" of the New Age Pinball Machine, and bounced around between experiences, groups and teachers, never finding themselves or getting to their core issues and drives.
You need to ask this question up front: What do you want? Do you want greater creative skill and power? Do you want to fix a trauma or personal challenge? Are you willing to give up everything and seek enlightenment? Whatever it is, define it now, and then ask yourself if magical means are really the answer, or if more mundane means would be a lot easier. Be clear on this, or you risk getting caught up in the glamour of magick, and forgetting that it's just a tool, and only one tool of many available to you right now.
This is a point I continually return to in my writing and at Magick.Me: Magick is a tool. Why are you using it? Only you can answer that question, but you need to answer it.
2. Staying in the Shallows
Magick is a giant buffet table. Thanks to the shrinking of the world by global communications, you'll find material from every world faith and esoteric path readily available to you. Hermeticism/Golden Dawn/Thelema; Yoga; Vedanta; Vajrayana Buddhism; Sufism; NLP... the list is limited only by the demand of the New Age marketplace for the next big kick. Just a hundred years ago—in some cases, just a few decades ago—all of these subjects would have been incredibly hard to discover information on. You wouldn't have been able to just pop down to Barnes & Noble or go on Amazon and have it all handed to you. And in all cases, once you discovered the entry to a path, you would be confronted with a teacher who would explain that the path was the work of a lifetime.
That puts modern seekers in a unique position. We don't lack access—but what we do often lack is commitment to a path. Most likely, students will browse here and there, reading on a wide variety of paths, or even joining several groups in sequence. This is an incredible way to learn quickly; however, if the buffet table approach takes the place of deep, committed learning in one path or tradition, what happens is you stop making progress. You just get to the edge of your comfort zone in one path before starting over in another, never taking that crucial jump into the unknown. Ironically, this probably takes more time than sticking to one path, at least until you reach that path's completion stages.
However, if you go in the complete opposite direction, and become a "Path Zealot," you will make the third mistake:
3. Thinking There is One True Path
Once you've experienced peak states or personal breakthroughs in a system, it's easy to generalize: "This is absolutely incredible... everybody should experience this!"
If you're not careful, you soon become a missionary, talking non-stop about what you've experienced, trying to get your friends or family into whatever practice caused the peak state or breakthrough, or even, at the high registers of "Kool-Aid Intoxication," thinking that you have found the One True Path, and that all other paths are lesser or deluded.
People can stay stuck in this state for days, weeks, months, or years—even their whole life. It tends to be a blockage to progress. It's a classic behavior of an individual with a weak sense of self: Deep down, they feel themselves to be inferior or lesser than others, so they place all their focus on an all-consuming ideology or charismatic leader that they derive strength and self-worth from serving. If this sounds like an obvious trap, and one you would never fall for, think again: The "One True Path" disease has been responsible for many of history's greatest tragedies, including the Third Reich or the many historical genocides committed by overzealous religious missionaries that worked to "convert by sword."
If your path is the One True Path, it's time to leave your cloistered room or insular community and experience what life is like for others of different faiths and life backgrounds. Make some new friends.
Magick.Me takes a two-fold approach to solving the above two issues.
First, it completely severs form from function—there is no ideology to defend here. The old "secret society" or religious "in-group" model is dispensed with as a relic of the pre-Internet age. That means that there are no hierarchies to enforce, no secrets to hold back, no group dynamics to be managed. Magick.Me isn't a group—thank G*d—it's a site with videos and information on it that you use to educate yourself at your own pace, no extra group weirdness needed. Without this high social overhead, students are free to do exactly what they come to Magick.Me to do: Learn magick, and nothing else. No group, no ideology, to fight for or against.
Secondly, I've taken a page from the Chaos Magick playbook, and condensed the best core techniques from as broad of a range of systems as possible. The result is serious core training that will stand you in good stead no matter what you do. Think of Magick.Me as boot camp: You'll get well-versed in serious meditation, ritual, astral work, divination, and lots more. Once you find yourself making real progress in skills—rather than ideology—you'll hopefully see through the "path" game and get closer to the truth that magick is about the commitment you make to yourself in daily practice of core skills.
4. Us vs. Them Mentality
Because people who are into magick and alternative spirituality are often on the fringes, it's easy to adopt belief systems that reinforce an oppressed identity or "us vs. them" story. This becomes a particularly acute problem when the magick that people are doing isn't working, or not producing a good quality of life, and instead of changing the behaviors or beliefs that aren't working, people create a narrative in which some "other" individual or group is keeping them down. These stories about why failure is OK quickly blossom and cross-pollinate, becoming wide-scale conspiracy theories potent enough to infect whole cultures, leaving disempowerment, misery and even genocide in their wake (again see the Third Reich). Examples of this include:
• "The Illuminati are out to get me because I have secret knowledge."
• "Shapeshifting reptilians/Archons/evil spirits/Satan/etc. are controlling reality and don't like me."
• "I'm way too enlightened/edgy/intense/real for mainstream society to handle."
• "I am a lightworker charged with battling the dark forces, and the dark forces are in control."
Do you have any of these beliefs, or any similar ones? Let's take a look at them—what's the underlying message of all of them? Personal significance. Me me me. All of these scripts allow for personal significance through failure. They all allow you to be a complete fuckup and to simultaneously have the illusion of "winning."
They are all poison. Jettison them immediately, and instead focus on your personal growth and happiness, and how you can be of service to the people around you.
Magick.Me circumvents this problem by, again, divorcing ideology from practical skills. There is no overarching narrative presented with the skills taught—that is for you to decide, or create. It's just the raw tools—no religious stories, conspiracy theories, or woo. Just "here's the techniques. Do them and see what happens."
5. Substance Abuse
Drugs and magick have been linked since the very first prehistoric shaman chewed some strange bark or fungus that let her talk to the spirits of the forest, and the spirits of the forest turned out to have some pretty useful stuff to say.
In recent times, magicians like Aleister Crowley, William S. Burroughs, Terence McKenna, Carlos Castaneda and others have hyped the spiritual potential of psychedelics and even harder substances. Some of them have also fallen prey to addiction, and the destructive behaviors that come with the disease of addiction. This is one of the major reasons why magick has been so discredited—it allows people to say "Yeah, but you were just high," or to look at the addiction behaviors of people like Crowley and attribute them to magick instead of their true source, the drug addiction itself.
Drugs may be a fast route to altered states, but they are not a sustainable one. In our current moment—world economic crisis, instability and uncertainty—I suggest that magicians don't have the time or luxury of drug use. We need to be sharp, frosty—Navy SEALs, not Deadheads. Remember: The Baby Boomer generation could burn decades with drug experimentation because it was the richest, most financially secure generation in history. That is not the case for Millenials or those younger. The world reality is a live-fire situation, a war zone, and you don't dull your edge or disorient yourself in a war zone.
(It's not an "Us vs. Them" war zone, by the way. It's a free-for-all, as everybody scrambles to survive the challenges created by the acceleration of technology and growth of the human population.)
Magick.Me not only teaches magick from a drug-free perspective, it offers techniques that are better than drugs for getting reliably, safely and legally high (i.e. pranayama and yoga).
6. Trying to Be the "Best Magician" Instead of the "Best You"
When overachiever types get into magick, they try to learn every single aspect of it and become a Total and Formidable Master. There is no mastery; leave this archetype in the Saturday morning cartoons it came from. Remember: Magick is just a tool. Know your goal, and use the tool to achieve your goal.
Of course, it doesn't have to be so linear: You may simply be seeking the regular, sustainable spiritual growth that comes from a regular practice of meditation, dreamwork, journalling, yoga, ritual and any other tool you have chosen to use. Wonderful.
The key here is: It's not a competition. There is no prize, other than becoming more yourself.
Magick.Me solves this problem by, again, dropping the pompous "fashion show" aspects that come from group magical work and group hierarchy. There is a group forum, providing the much-needed community aspects of magick, but there are no degrees, ranks or any of the other superfluities that magick inherited from the old Masonic lodge structure and which, unfortunately, have so often become a rank pissing match. Just the facts here, ma'am. Just the skills—take them or leave them. Practice them and get better at them, or don't.
7. Giving Your Power Away
Particularly as a young and untested magician, you will likely be confronted with situations or people that tempt you to surrender your power. Whether it's an autocratic or abusive guru, a regimented and controlling magical order, or even a tightly controlling ideology, you might be tempted or even frightened into surrendering control of your life in exchange for some tangible or intangible reward.
If you do this, get ready for a painful learning experience!
Though it can sometimes be easy to forget, you are the true magician, the true master of your reality.
This is where Magick.Me, I believe, truly shines as a (forgive me) disruptive technology. Simply put, while (at present) I'm the one on screen teaching, Magick.Me was designed to completely destroy the old group/charismatic leader dynamic, point by point. Magick.Me exists to liberate magick from small, controlling groups of individuals that try to make magick my prreeccciousss and, instead, let anybody access it—anonymously, without needing to join a group or submit to any form of authority. Instead of this, classes are presented simply as instructional material. They can be viewed by anybody, with no obligations made outside of the obligation you make to, say, Netflix in getting a subscription. That's it. No group silliness, hierarchies or "charismatic leader" antics—that is, nothing stopping you from simply learning the material just like it was plumbing or video production, applying it to your life, and constantly reminding yourself that you are the great magician.
To fully illustrate this point, I'd like to include a story from the author John Fowles, who kindled my early teenage interest in testing the nature of reality. It's from his 1965 novel The Magus:
Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, he did not believe in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. As there were no princesses or islands in his father's domains, and no sign of God, the prince believed his father.
But then, one day, the prince ran away from his palace and came to the next land. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling, creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.
"Are those real islands?" asked the young prince.
"Of course they are real islands," said the man in evening dress.
"And those strange and troubling creatures?"
"They are all genuine and authentic princesses."
"Then God must also exist!" cried the prince.
"I am God," replied the man in evening dress, with a bow.
The young prince returned home as quickly as he could.
"So, you are back," said his father, the king.
"I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God," said the prince reproachfully.
The king was unmoved.
"Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God exist."
"I saw them!"
"Tell me how God was dressed."
"God was in full evening dress."
"Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?"
The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled.
"That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived."
At this, the prince returned to the next land and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.
"My father, the king, has told me who you are," said the prince indignantly. "You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician."
The man on the shore smiled.
"It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father's kingdom, there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father's spell, so you cannot see them."
The prince pensively returned home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eye.
"Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?"
The king smiled and rolled back his sleeves.
"Yes, my son, I'm only a magician."
"Then the man on the other shore was God."
"The man on the other shore was another magician."
"I must know the truth, the truth beyond magic."
"There is no truth beyond magic," said the king.
The prince was full of sadness. He said, "I will kill myself."
The king by magic caused death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.
"Very well," he said, "I can bear it."
"You see, my son," said the king, "you, too, now begin to be a magician."
Now it's your turn.
Now that you’ve debunked the myths and learned how to avoid the big mistakes along the way, it’s time to take that Next Step to level up your life.
You’re here for a reason. You’ve already decided that it’s time to make a change, and you’re here because you’re ready to unlock the tools that will get you there.
You’re ready to become the best version of yourself, and you can learn the techniques that will let you create your future right here—at Magick.Me.