Shifting Gears

The other day I was browsing some occult blogs and came across an article by Nick Farrell which suggested that one must have a teacher from an existing occult school in order to do more than “play at magic”.  This is a fairly common belief among the members of magical lodges and similar occult orders.

Is it actually true, though?  I really haven’t found it to be the case.  I’ve never taken any form of formal instruction in magic or occult subjects.  The closest I’ve come is attending a few workshops, of not more than a few hours each, over the years.  Yet I have had no trouble producing results with my magic.  Results sufficiently clear and convincing to persuade a long-time skeptic.

On one level the discussion itself amuses me.  Eclecticism, as opposed to following a formal system of magic as compiled by a magical order, is supposed to be a major sign of playing at magic.  Yet occult groups which employ a modified Jewish Kaballa, the imagery of Egyptian deities, and Sanscrit tattvas among other culturally disparate elements to formulate their tradition are seen as completely legitimate?

But on another, I see it as an attempt to de-legitimize those who don’t follow a set list of traditions that the author approves of.  This is particularly obvious when reading the author’s opinion of those who employ the “spirit pot” technique employed by several Afro-Caribbean traditions for working with Goetic demons.  In Farrell’s words “Think about it, how can you stuff the concept of lust into a peanut butter jar?”  Yet, removing the arrogant hyperbole regarding the technique, that is exactly what Solomon was supposed to have done with the 72 demons of the Ars Goetia and their legions – imprisoned them in a vessel of brass and bound them to do his bidding.

But can you learn on your own?

Three weeks ago my car broke down on a trip to visit friends in another state.  I made it back home, but the only vehicle available to me was a manual transmission.  While I had been driving for 13 years, I had never driven a stick shift.  And there wasn’t anyone available to teach me.  In order to meet professional obligations in my life, I had to drive that vehicle.  I had no choice.  So I got online and found some websites giving an explanation of how to drive stick.  Then I got in the car, and I drove.

It was rough at first.  I stalled at traffic lights and stop signs several times.  Once, I ground the gears a little by not quite fully depressing the clutch before trying to shift.  But with a little practice, I got the hang of shifting gears and working the gas and the clutch at the same time.  By the end of the week, when I finally drove with someone who could give me practical advice on driving stick, the only things he suggested were that I might want to stay in a lower gear a little longer than I had been, and that I should give it a bit more gas when moving forward from a stop.

If one can learn to drive stick effectively from spending ten minutes reading a couple of web pages, I think it’s quite possible to learn magic from the plethora of books and web pages available on that subject.  All it really takes is the will to do so.  And the proof is simply doing it.

Because, when it comes right down to it, there’s one thing and one thing only that marks the difference between someone “playing at magic” and someone working magic:  results.  If your techniques are producing real results in the world around you, you’re working magic.  If not, you’re playing at it.  That’s as true of those with teachers and involved in established magical traditions as it is of those working outside of them and teaching themselves.

So… which one are you?


As someone who is both pagan and otherkin, synchronicity is a big thing for me.

Sometimes it’s fairly subtle, like a sudden urge to investigate a strange word that I’ve run across that leads me to an entirely new community which becomes a very important part of my life.

Most of the time it’s a lot more blatant, like me and my brothers (without coordination, and with me not even having owned the book in question until that afternoon when I found and bought it at a local pagan store that does not normally have a good selection of books) reading the exact same passage in the exact same book at the exact same time and running to talk to each other about it.

Sometimes the synchronicities in my life are caused by the magical work I do.  Other times, by the gods and spirits I work with.  Other times, I really don’t know the ultimate source of it and just chalk it up to the universe itself.

I do know that there are times that I seem to experience more synchronicities than others.  “Memory floods” – recovering a bunch of new memories in rapid succession – often have real-world synchronicities connected with them.  The aforementioned book synchronicity came during memories of my stag life and the passage involved contained information which confirmed some of my own UPG regarding ritual cannibalism as practiced in the culture I had remembered.

Why is this?  I don’t know.  Some of it feels very personal – like someone is playing chess and I’m a pawn on the board.  I have suspicions as to who that might be (one or more of several deities, not all of which I choose to work with) but no real idea why.  Other synchronicities feel impersonal – more on the level of action and reaction.  And others either fall in between or I’m unable to classify.

I suspect at least some of this synchronicity ties in, somehow, with patterns that I’ve observed repeating across lifetimes.  Which is a bit hard for me to swallow since I don’t personally believe in “destiny”, but I can at present find no other explanation for some of the things I see repeating in life after life.

Perhaps someday I’ll be able to clearly see the picture painted by such patterns, and how it connects with synchronicities experienced in the present.  In the meantime, I mainly rely on them as an indicator for when I’m close to something important.  This understanding has, so far, served me well.

Come Away

If you read this website with any regularity you most likely know that it is my practice to occasionally do a magical working that I term a “calling”, literally meant to draw others who meet certain criteria to find me and/or the otherkin community itself.  I typically use what I term a “poetic focus” as the basis for this calling – or, in other words, a spoken invocation.  Two of the invocations I have used in the past are here and here.

It is time once again to renew that calling.  But this time, after the recent essays on sigilization and thoughtfoms, I thought I might do so a little differently.  This time, I am going to build a servitor.

The core of this servitor will be a sigil.  I wanted something easily reproduced and with an obvious association with the otherkin community, so I have created a starlike image with seven arms, each arm drawn from the outside moving in.  It is not the typical septegram, but the association between the two symbols should be obvious.

As a name for the servitor, I will chose the word “Shakto”, being part of the Aloryan phrase “Shakto-tha lien” which means roughly “show yourselves” or “come forward”.

For the purpose of the servitor, three tasks:

1. To seek out those with nonhuman or otherworldly lives which have touched them deeply, and to help them awaken and to find the otherkin community.

2. To help those otherkin who have shared such lives in the past find one another again.

3. To help restore the spirit and the vitality that the community once had, that has been lost

The next step is, of course, to decide on a form for the servitor itself.  At first I was thinking a white hart, as in some celtic myths, but in this case I am feeling more inclined towards a modern myth: the white rabbit.  One might even picture his sigil as the many hands of a very strange pocket-watch, though this rabbit is never late.  Nor is he early.  He comes precisely when he needs to.  But he will lead you down the rabbit hole.

After charging and empowering the servitor I have linked it to both of my existing callings, and sent it out into the wild and the web.  It is self-sustaining and from one point of view replicating (it is a rabbit after all) though from another it simply takes advantage of a rather interesting understanding of time.

I look forward to observing it at work.