Now that I am half way through writing the course, I thought it would be interesting to take a minute to reflect on the process, and what a learning process it has been so far.I am using magical ‘contacted writing’ to write the course, an old method of writing while tuned into inner magical contacts, and while I have done that many times before as both a magician and a writer, doing such a long and involved course has brought up some interesting dynamics.
Not all inner contacts have the concept of ‘rest’: during writing parts of the apprentice course, inner contacts clamored to be heard and to influence the course. After hours of writing, they would continue to speak – when I was cooking, having a bath, trying to relax, trying to do more mundane work. Of course, coming from an old fashioned Catholic background, this triggered the workaholic in me and I struggled to continually write, even when exhausted. Of course, I edged towards burn out and making myself sick until I declared – enough!! Shut up and fuck off!!, or let me have some down time. I think the message got through, as the contact began to slow down a bit. They got the idea that harassing me 24/7 would mean total burn out, which would result in the course not being finished.
And then came my own creeping disquiet. While I have written a few books by now, I have never attempted to do something on this scale (approx. 15 books of 100, 000 words each) on such a tight schedule. I had originally thought 18 months would do it, now it’s looking more like 2 years. Ah well. As I write, I have had to keep reminding myself what is necessary and what is not. In today’s world, that sets up an internal struggle with the writer: will it keep them engaged? Will it interest them? So much in our world is now geared towards the consumer, and we forget that sometimes we have to eat brown rice, do exercise, and study papers at university that bore the shit out of us. I found myself a few times being tempted to gear a lesson towards peaking an interest, and not towards passing on what really needs to be passed on.
In the same vein, I have had to constantly reel back from making things too easy or accessible: no bite sized quick reference work that will ultimately weaken the magician. So many lessons have been scrapped and re written when I realised I was spoon feeding inappropriately and not giving the deeper underlying dynamics that the magician really needs to understand to come into full power. It’s a long job, a hard job, to truly become an all-round balanced magician of skill and power. That means not having ‘ready to go magic’ and instead truly understanding where the power behind a magical comes from, what it does and how it does it.
On a more positive note, I continue to be amazed at how this process is making me take magic apart and analyze it properly. I am seeing magical acts from a very different perspective, so in a way, I am also doing the course and learning as I go along.
For those who are slowly ploughing their way through the course, I take my hat off to you (and bow, deeply) as I know the effort and personal struggles that each person who attempts this course must overcome. It’s a hard road, sometimes a boring road, other times a challenging road, but it has been wonderful to see some magicians slowly blossoming. Comments on social media, private emails and short conversations have given me insight into the progress of people engaging with this course: it is amazing to see the sense of achievement in people when they make their first inner contact for themselves, or have a power in nature reach out to them. And to see their world change as a direct consequence of the work: transformations are blossoming and it is inspiring.
I am now at a phase in the course writing (currently Initiate module five) where there is far less background explaining to do, and more hands on work to write for students: we are getting to the action stations! And yet I still have to ‘embed’ certain magical techniques and snippets of critical information among descriptive text, so that skimmers and dippers are left blind and wondering what the hell it is all about. And then comes the necessity for leaving crumbs for students to figure stuff out for themselves, to put bits of the jigsaw together without having someone holding their hand, and for them to have their own ‘slap forehead’ moments. That has been a tough one to do, and I have had to bite my tongue a few times so that people can unfold the work in their own good time.
These twists and turns make the course writing tough, and it is like holding the threads to a thousand balloons at the same time without letting them get tangled up. It’s a lot harder than I realised. I take my hat off to magicians in the past who have written out full length magical courses for their generation: Ernest Butler, Agrippa, and Franz Bardon come to mind. Now I know what they went through and each of them did it because of their love of magic, not to create product to sell.
So now I am at the phase where I am starting to take the magicians into deeper territory, and walking the thin line between showing some of the depths of ritual, or vision, of inner sight, and so forth, without blowing the student up, and also without over protecting them. My goal is that they will come out of the course as an adept, able to turn their hand to any style of magic and actually know what it is they are doing and how it works…. So many do magic without knowing how it all hangs together… but by teaching this way, I hope that the future holds a lot more magical ‘engineers’ who delve and experiment, and less ‘simple practitioners’ who follow rote rules and styles.. and maybe one day some of those magical engineers will make profound magical discoveries and take magic in directions my generation would not think possible.
This next couple of weeks will keep me busy writing about deities and how to work with them ritually, in vision and through various different magical applications. The next lesson will be about Set (I have my tin foil hat ready…..). Rather than write about lots of different types of deities, I am centering it around the Egyptian Pantheon, so that I can use that orbit of deities to demonstrate how a magician works with deities in lots of different ways, and why. So my household at the moment is a long que of deities waiting their turn.. Bes is sat on the fridge, Sekhmet is running the barbeque and Orisis is laid out in the garden chilling with a beer. I think Djehuty is busy with some graffiti and Nephtys is decapitating an annoying neighbor…. It’s going to be a long week.
Josephine, you bring it all so magically alive, you are an inspiration, truly.
thank you… sometimes I wonder if I make any sense at all.. your comments encourage me to keep batting away at it xxx
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The apprentice section alone puts the ardent student ahead of many of the other systems and courses out there. I’m not trying to knock other schools, and I’m not saying they can’t assist someone on their way to adepthood; it’s just become more apparent to me how many of them are copied, pasted and repackaged, perpetuations of dogma.
Being willing to do things like throw away the wands (how many mages will feel castrated by this?:), go deeper into the mysteries, explore the inner worlds, will help graduate those who are ready to do further experimentation & push the boundaries, because you are showing that the circle of art is much wider than it is currently being cast,
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thank you Justin, I do hope so… if each generation tries to push deeper and further into the mysteries, then magic will grow, breathe and flourish rather than stagnate and turn into a parody of itself.
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