I have been practicing this thing we call ‘Magick’ for around thirty years, and I can tell you from personal experience that it will ruin your life, and it will probably kill you. Allow me to explain.
The event that led me to Magick occurred on a beautiful summer day when I was thirteen years old. I was hanging out with an older friend who had already turned me on to marijuana and his own personal taste in rock music. On this particular day he put on a Led Zeppelin album, and I had never heard anything like it. My young stoned ears were enthralled. Bear in mind that this was long before the Internet. Media coverage of rock bands at the time were pretty much limited to tabloid magazines. After buying the album Led Zeppelin IV, I bought one of these tabloid magazines which covered the band. While reading, I discovered that the lead guitarist of the band, Jimmy Page, apparently had an obsession (this was all according to the reportage) with some guy named Aleister Crowley who apparently was the ‘wickedest man in the world’, and a disciple of Satan himself. What the article intimated was that Mr. Page had attained his talent, fame, and fortune, all by following Mr. Crowley’s instructions and making a special deal with the Devil himself.
To my young mind, this sounded like an ideal scheme. If I could somehow manage to acquire whatever magic was held in the wisdom of Mr. Crowley, I, too, like Jimmy Page, could attain fame and fortune. Maybe, somehow, I might even grow taller, get better looking, and, most certainly, get any woman I wanted. This was important, as I had grown up in a horribly dysfunctional home where love itself was painfully absent. As a fat, pimply adolescent, my self-esteem hovered somewhere around Middle Earth. At that time, I was officially obsessed with finding out more about this Crowley guy, and learning the tricks that would give me fame, fortune, and a perfect life. There was only one problem.
I grew up in the South, where (some of you younger folks might find this hard to believe, but it’s true) there were actual laws prohibiting the sale or even possession of literary works by people so despicable as Aleister Crowley. As far as learning the secrets of attaining fame and fortune, I was, as they say, shit out of luck. Nevertheless, I persisted.
A few years later, I made my way to the West Coast of the U.S. where I could finally get my hands on Crowley’s books. I located an actual occult bookstore in Los Angeles, and promptly plunked down twenty dollars for a book entitled Magick in Theory and Practice, by Aleister Crowley. I opened the book and started reading. I was immediately disappointed. Yoga? Really?!?!? That’s what all this crap boils down to? Really?!? I kept digging for the good stuff, the stuff that made you an instant rock star, with all the drugs, money, and babes anyone could ever want. I found it buried toward the end of the book. It was something called, “The Bornless One’ ritual.
Now, before you get all, “Did you really do the ‘Bornless One Ritual’ the proper way, with all of the proper accoutrements and preparation? The answer to that question is, “Hell, no!!” I was a wasted college student who was looking for a quick fix for my miserable existence. So, I invoked the ‘Bornless One’, whatever the hell that was. By ‘invoke’, I mean that I stood in front of a small altar I had built, and recited the invocations loudly and firmly. I continued to do this on a daily basis for about a year and a half.
Then, I died.
Now, for the uninitiated, I need to clarify something. I didn’t actually ‘die’ in the sense of physical death. I’ve been around this whole occult thing long enough to know that there are people out there who think, when I speak of ‘dying’, I actually physically died, then came back to life. Jesus pulled this crap, right? Well, no, it doesn’t really work that way.
Aleister Crowley’s fundamental definition of ‘Magick’ is: the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will. The key word being ‘change’. Commonly throughout various avenues of magical lore, the concept of death refers, not to physical death, but to a radical transformation, a transmutation. In order for something to ‘change’, it’s previous state must ‘die’; cease to exist. The thirteenth trump of the tarot deck is entitled ‘Death’, yet it’s true indication is of radical change.
Crowley’s definition points out that the desired end of whatever magickal operation you’re engaged in should be ‘in conformity with Will’, i.e. your True Will, the grand purpose for which you were intended as a result of the cosmos creating You. The first step in achieving that, is figuring out what is not in conformity with Will. Magick, when done properly, will do exactly that – it will strip from you the things that impede your achievement of Your True Will.
I actually came very close to physical death as the result of a disastrous car accident. Because of this incident, I confronted some of my ‘inner demons’. At my tender age, these were relatively innocuous demons. Years later, as I continued my magical career, I would discover, within myself, much more diabolical ‘demons’. At the time, I continued my solitary ritual practices, but I was a bad ritualist. I was doing the worst thing a budding magician could do. I was looking for a quick fix, so I cut corners. I didn’t do full research, reading, or a thorough perusal of the ‘instructions’ before performing a ritual. Just so you know, if you do this, it does not mean that the ritual will not work. On the contrary, if your heart’s in it, and your mind is focused, it will work. But doing it this way is something akin to trying to re-wire an electrical outlet with live, un-grounded electricity running through the house. Yes, you may accomplish the task, but there is a high risk of setting your house on fire and actually dying a real physical death. Many years later, someone told me that it was necessary to learn all the rules before you break them. I cannot stress to you how true this is.
During the next several years, I endured a horribly expensive divorce, and found myself in near-poverty. I was totally lost in my life. So, I moved to another city and joined a real, bonafide magickal fraternity. Divorce, car accidents, and no money; I figured that since Magick was already ruining my life, I might as well dive head first into this thing. This is where things get weird. Shortly after my initiation into a proper ‘mystery school’, my life began to drastically change for the better. I soon had a job that came with a sizable amount of local prestige and minor celebrity, along with an income that was more money than I had ever imagined making. I also fell in love with the most beautiful young woman I had ever met. I had finally found my soulmate, I thought. Little did I know that these were the worst things that could have happened to me.
The business of Magick is tricky. Nearly all true world religions have a simple precept in common: strive to continually shrink the ego so that, eventually, the ego will be so small or non-existent, that one can actually achieve conscious contact with ‘God’. First of all, Magick is not a religion; it is something else entirely. It is a scientific system, with the aim of religion. Within this system, there are various mechanisms designed to do the exact opposite of common religion: inflate the ego as big as possible so that it eventually explodes and there isn’t really anything left. This process runs diametrically opposed to nearly every common religion on the planet. This is why Magick is not only a lonely path, but also a psychologically perilous one. This was something that, apparently, I had to learn the hard way.