Thinning of the Veil

Samhain is approaching.

Halloween has always been a favorite time of year for me. The days are cooler, the nights are longer, and the very earth seems to be settling down for a long rest. I’m more of an introvert, and a quieter time that allows for and encourages introspection appeals to me.

Well, usually. Continue reading

The Magus Kid

Many, many years ago, I started attending a metaphysics class taught by Walter (no, not his real name), who later became my Mentor. I was one of the few that stuck with his program and augmented it with material I found in other sources, so he took me under his wing, as it were.

Walter has a long string of projects, accomplishments, and fascinating stories from his life. If you can think of it, he has probably been involved in it in some form or another. He was an auctioneer, appraiser, housing contractor, submariner, radio talk show host, pool installer, real estate investor, professional psychic, rennie, actor, writer, and wizard (and that leaves a lot out).

When I met him, he had moved back home with his mother to help care for her in her old age. She was a hoarder, and he probably is as well. The basement of their house was completely filled with various items, ranging from canned foodstuffs (he took Y2K very seriously) to books, clothing, power tools, and ironing boards (his mother had a thing for them and loved to collect them.)

After some time, the venue for Walter’s class wasn’t working out, and he wanted to reclaim the basement and hold his class there. The basement was finished and actually had a nice great room, complete with a bar and a fireplace, and would have made a nice meeting spot. But there was literally so much clutter that you could not get from the stairs to the far end without considerable effort.

As I said, Walter had taken me under his wing, and was meeting with me to teach me magic. (He was also paying me to help him clear the basement.) As I helped him shuffle, organize, and carry upstairs items of value, I made a comment to him: “This feels like when Mr. Miyagi made the Karate Kid do all those chores for him.” He responded simply: “It’s just like that.”

He showed me the items of value he had, and explained how he knew they had value, and to whom they were valuable. We visited auctions, and I relearned what I knew about dollar value and demand. We repriced items bought at auction and sold them online for profit, and I learned about connecting demands to the people looking for them. I learned about clothing and image, and how to dress to impress, to stand out, and to acheive certain effects and impressions.

This was very, very powerful magic, and it is the kind rarely taught in books and grimoires.

So I understood when I read this blog post by Jason Miller.

I got this question from a friend the other day: Dude, you are writing so much about processes and strategy and habit change that it feels like you are never gonna write about magic again? How about getting back to some straight up Sorcery?”

My answer is this: if you don’t understand how this relates to Sorcery, I am not doing my job.

I started the Strategic Sorcery Blog because I realized that people were, in general, not getting the kinds of results from their practical magic that I thought they should have.  The problem was not in the magic that they were doing, it was how they were applying it to their lives. This was a problem that no-one I could see was addressing, and instead people kept chasing after new and shinier spirits and spells. “Saint Expedite didn’t make me rich, maybe Bune will.” “Bune, didn’t make me rich, maybe Tzadkiel will…

Magic tends to be viewed as a quick fix. More astute practitioners remind people that they have to follow up through mundane means to get concrete results, allowing a means for magic to manifest.

But there’s more to it than that. You have to know what channels are available. You have to know how to adjust them. You have to know how to make and exploit connections. You have to know how to barter and exchange favors. You have to know how one thing in your life, which may not seem significant, can be the very thing that breaks a new opportunity in another area.

You have to know how to strategize and where to apply your efforts.

And that is one of the reasons I like Miller’s work; he understands and actually teaches these things.

I learned the old fashioned way; via a mentor that made it seem like he was teaching me something else. And it’s difficult to pass this kind of thinking on to people, which is why he demonstrated all of it through action and example.

But magic is more than spells and tables. It is about being able to bring things together at the right time, and being able to change the probability that something will succeed by giving it more available options to do so.

A lot of magic doesn’t look much like magic. It looks like stuff just happens.

Learn from the things around you.

Generation Next

A while back John Halstead wrotre very excellent post about generational differences in the neopagan community. In particular, it addressed something that is I have been becoming more and more aware of, and that seems to be discussed more openly in the pagan community: the status of elders in the community.

I remain deaf to appeals to the authority of one’s chronological age.  One reason is because I don’t see much of a correlation between chronological age and wisdom.  I know some people in their 20s and 30s whose inherent wisdom and life experience make me feel as naive as an infant.  And I know people twice my age that act like infants — especially when their ideas are challenged.  In addition, it seems to me that people, of any age, who are wise, have no need to claim the authority of years.  Their wisdom speaks for itself, through their words, their acts, and their demeanor.


Those, of every generation, who invoke the authority of their age and cry “ageism” when no one listens seem to be cut from a common mold.  They are comfortable with the status quo, and they fear that the times they are a changin’.  These would-be elders claim to define our future by appeals to the past.  No doubt, there is a critical role for tradition, for structure and institutions.  They act as a bulwark against chaos, both social and personal.  And our elders are the guardians of that bulwark.  But bulwarks can become obstacles.  And unless the structures of the old generation are vivified by the energies of the new, then they stagnate.

When I touched on this subject myself, it was from a place of frustration and anger, directed squarely at a vendor that complained about how younger generations weren’t doing things exactly as he wanted them to do.

He said that generations X and Y and the millennials were lazy, and lacked independence and ingenuity, and wanted everything handed to them. That they weren’t entrepreneurs, that they didn’t take risks, and that they didn’t solve problems. And that when it came to the metaphysical and new age communities, the younger generations were sitting back and not taking action, and leaving it to the aging 60’s hippies to keep doing all the heavy lifting.

And I was more than happy to throw that all in his face while pointing out that I was literally making a plan to improve the community and address his complaints, and he shut me down because the ideas I came up with weren’t in line with the old way of doing things.

He wanted innovation and creativity and action, as long as it was the way he did things when he was younger. He wanted to relive the days when his generation changed the world, and complain that my generation wasn’t doing enough, and then tell me that what I wanted to do wouldn’t work because it wasn’t what he did 50 years ago.

Because when he fought the system, it was revolution and progress. But now it’s his system, and by Jove, who am I to question it?

The older generation often does work to maintain the status quo, largely because they have helped created that status quo and identify with it. And since they have so much invested in their way of doing things, they often ignore or overlook ways in which that system is outmoded, irrelevant, or damaging.

I think I did take that particular vendor’s attitude a bit personally. But let’s be honest: when someone says something needs to happen, and you offer idea to do it, and you are told your ideas suck and you are lazy because your ideas aren’t what they would have done several decades ago, then that can rub you the wrong way.

We’re told to respect our elders. They don’t always respect us.

What authority does an elder have? Why are they still in charge? Shouldn’t they serve more as advisers than the current leaders? Shouldn’t they know when to step aside and allow new leaders to grow? Isn’t the whole point of the Crone archetype to decline gracefully instead of clinging desperately to power and old ideas?

And I’ll be entirely honest here: I’m getting tired of the Baby Boomers.

The 60’s are long gone. It’s over. Stop clinging to your imagined glory days and telling us that your long tired and failed policies and ideologies are the only way to do things. Especially while speaking out the other side of your mouths about how we won’t take responsibility or action or leadership.

Get out of the way and let us.

Yes, a lot of people who have been in the community for a while have made vital and significant contributions. Yes, they deserve our respect, and in some cases a greater amount of reverence. But as we have an obligation to honor their work, they have an obligation to move aside and honor ours.

And this also touches on another issue: who gets to be considered elders? Are we to judge people by their contribution, or by their age and time served? I’ve encountered several (at least in the local community) who have expected special treatment simply due to their age. And that attitude often is accompanied by the belief that the way they did things back in the day is superior to the way things happen now.

I’m not much younger than Halstead, and I admit that I have own biases regarding taste and aesthetic and the trends and fashions of younger people. But I also take delight in and respect much of the creativity and innovation that I have seen, some of which simply wasn’t possible in the technological or cultural climate of my own younger days.

And I’m certainly not going to expect younger people to defer to me simply because of my age. I hope that my work merits some consideration on its own, but that should be independent of how old I am. I am more experienced and diversified than many people older than me, and I am no where near as skilled as some people younger than me. I should be judged based upon the work I present, how useful my own experiences are to helping other people, and how I treat people.

And yes, I’m part of a certain generation, and because of that I have certain advantages, perspectives, and motivations. But it is my job to act as a guiding principle to younger generations, not a controlling one. I should hope that they learn from my failures and success, and not demean them from doing things differently than how I did.

And I’m not sure why, but older generations seem to be having trouble learning that lesson.

Investigation Protocols

Quite a very long time ago, one of my Tumblr followers suggested I write about the need of paranormal investigators to bring along a practitioner, psychic, or sensitive.

(I didn’t because I’ve been lazy for a very long time. Sorry.)

I’ve decided to tackle this now because 1) I’m finally getting around to writing about stuff I should have written about a long time ago; and 2) Because I’ve actually lectured on this very topic before.

So let’s get down to it.

Paranormal investigators should, under no circumstances, bring a witch/magician/psychic/sensitive along on any investigation.

The goal of a paranormal investigator is to attempt to collect some manner of objective evidence that a phenomenon is, in fact, legitimately paranormal, and hopefully collect some data that may offer a means of tracking down other similar phenomena, or of offering a means of further scientific exploration, explanation, or understanding of those phenomena. The ultimate objective is to understand the mechanism by which these phenomena operate, so that we can more fully understand the world we inhabit and the nature of the bizarre experiences we have.

Bringing a psychic along throws all of that out the window.

The thing is, a psychic’s experience is purely subjective. It is not quantifiable in any way. No one else in the group can confirm or deny the experience. And while the psychic’s experience may be valid, and their information may be accurate, it does little to further the scientific study and explanation of those phenomena.

And parapsychology is a scientific endeavor. It needs to be help to objective and scientific standards and produce verifiable and repeatable results.

That isn’t to say that psychics and practitioners should not be associated with paranormal investigators. But their involvement should occur after the investigation. If any clearing, warding, or reading is needed, it should occur as a separate follow-up activity, the results of which should have no bearing on the official investigation.

Science has a long way to go to catch up with and explain the kind of subjective experiences that psychics and other sensitives have. If we hope to help develop scientific theories on such phenomena, they need to be investigated independently of any metaphysical or magical techniques.

Love the One You’re With

If you’re down and confused
And you can’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slips away
‘Cuz your baby is so far away

About two decades ago, I was emotionally involved with a girl that I call Jewel. She was the first person that I ever fell in love with. She was also the first person to emotionally manipulate me. (Well, first non-relative at any rate.)

I was utterly smitten with her, but I didn’t understand what that meant. I was willing to do anything for her, and she was eager to take full advantage of that. I had some romantic notion that we were meant for each other and destined to be with each other forever, and she encouraged that notion as long as 1) it meant she could coax favors and gifts from me, and 2) she was able to convince me that the time for us to be together was some time in the near future, but not in the actual present (we can’t be together right now, but we will be soon).

Eventually I got the hint. It took one of her friends pulling me aside and telling me to my face that Jewel was just using me and did not actually want to be with me. (She wasn’t gentle about it. She actually screamed it at me in front of a group of their friends. They all laughed at me. They had been in on the joke.)

We avoided each other for a time, and I kind of moved on. But not entirely.

Well there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Honey love the one you’re with

I met another girl, who I refer to as Diamond. She was much more stable, and actually respected me. We got along very well, and started dating.

I was her first love. She was utterly smitten with me, but I don’t think she really understood what that meant. Things went well until an incident where my car broke down on a date and I lost my temper and kicked the car in frustration. Her parents had divorced in part because of her father’s violent nature, and I had scared her. We stopped seeing each other.

Don’t be angry, don’t be sad
Don’t sit cryin’ of about the good times you had
There’s a girl right next to you
And she’s just waiting for something to do

A while later, I reached out to Diamond. I left an unsigned birthday card on her car. She knew it was me, and she called. We started seeing each other again. About the same time, Jewel showed back up, and we started talking again.

I was confused. Jewel had a knack for feeding and taking advantage of my natural insecurities. She fed my doubts. That’s how she kept me in check. Diamond genuinely wanted to be with me, but I couldn’t accept that. I kept wondering what she saw in me, what she wanted from me. Because when you’ve been in manipulative relationships, a person who says they don’t want anything from you makes you nervous.

Ultimately, I was still holding on to my connection with Jewel. And because of that, I wasn’t able to devote my full attention to Diamond (who would have made a far superior mate, and was an excellent choice for a long-term partner). And in the long run, I lost them both.

There’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Honey love the one you’re with

I ended up in a marriage that I felt obligated into. I still felt crushing guilt for the way I screwed Diamond over, disgust and hatred for Jewel, and regret that I hadn’t gone after Pearl instead. And I’m talking about dealing with relationship baggage or processing emotions from old involvements — I mean that I was still putting energy into those old relationships, still maybe hoping that I might be able to revisit and repair some of them.

When I divorced, I tried to look up Pearl. I actually got a hold of Diamond and we talked (and she told me she never wanted to talk to me again — I request I have honored to this day). I’m not sure what I was hoping for — rebuilding a friendship, a relationship, atoning somehow? But I wasn’t able to let those go.

Turn your heartaches run into joy
She’s a girl and you’re a boy
Get it together, make it nice
Ain’t gonna need anymore advice

After a lot of work, I moved on. I got involved in a long term relationship that went very well at first, but soured after about five years. By the time it ended I was relieved more than anything. I hope that it is because I was a bit more mature, but I did not pine after the loss of this relationship, and had no hope to rekindle, repair, or revisit it at all. I had given as much effort as I could have (and more) into that relationship, and I was satisfied it was done.

Continue reading


I’ve done a few different types of what I call generically “journeywork.”

There are a lot of different techniques that I have read, learned, and practice for these experiences (“accident” is perfectly valid, by the way), and many of those techniques can be path specific and rather complicated and time consuming.

So I’m not going to discuss the techniques, or even go into great detail on the experiences themselves, but rather how and why they are different.

So first, a few terms.

Journeywork is a term that I use to describe any kind of altered state experience that is interpreted in terms of perceiving yourself to be in a location that may or may not mimic the physical world.

This includes but may not be limited to the following:

Dreaming: Most people are familiar with a dream state. In this state you may experience unusual or fantastic things, and those experiences may represent interactions or insights that bear significance either psychologically or spiritually. Dreams usually seem to operate on their own.

Lucid Dreaming: This is a dream state in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming and has control over the dream environment.

Out of Body Experience (OBE): an experience in which the consciousness leaves the confines of the physical body but can still perceive the environment.

Astral Projection: An experience in which the consciousness is “projected” into something ominously refereed to as the “astral realm” or “astral plane.” This realm is usually experienced to have geographical features that may or may not be manipulated at will.

Pathworking: An experience in which the consciousness leaves the body and travels to a very specific location (usually understood to be on the astral) in order to witness certain events or interact with certain entities that reside in those locations.

Visualization/Guided Meditation: An experience in which attention is focused on certain locations or events so that they are experienced, but usually with the connotation that consciousness at least partially remains in the body.

So, this is kind of what I’m talking about. Now I’ll go into how I differentiate these experiences, and how I see them as related. Please note that this is based upon my own experiences, and your own mileage or understanding may vary.

I’ll start with the difference between an OBE and astral projection. As I understand it, and OBE involves leaving your body, but still observing and moving around the “normal” physical world, whereas astral projection involves “traveling” to the “astral plane,” wherever that is. In short, if you’re floating around your room, it’s an OBE; if you’re in an ephemeral mystical place that is vaguely physical, it’s astral projection.

Now, for dreams.

I don’t know if you go to the astral plane when you dream or not. The dream world behaves similarly to the astral realm. I’ve had dreams that took me to astral locations. I’ve projected to places that I saw in dreams. So as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter if they’re the same or not, because they act the same and appear to have enough of an overlap that it doesn’t hurt anything to treat them as if they were the same.

When most people dream, they go along with what happens on kind of an autopilot. I believe this to happen for a few different reasons. 1) I believe that dreaming is related to the function of a memory palace, and helps you process and retain memories of experiences you’ve had. So you are acting kind of intentionally, even though you’re not fully engaged. 2) I believe that your “higher self” or equivalent is still acting with intent during these experiences. Just because the conscious mind is not engaged does not mean that the self or the mind is not. 3) Sometimes those experiences are imposed by other higher order entities. “Training,” if you will. 4) I honestly think that sometimes they’re just entertainment.

Lucid dreaming is when you know you’re dreaming. And you can change the script. And with a little bit of focus, your environment as well. This is why I speak of an overlap between the dream and astral realms: my experience of lucid dreaming is indistinguishable from my experience of astral projection. I can do the same things, perform the same magic, visit the same locations, and call upon the same entities. The main difference is that lucid dreams will tend to break from a dream script, and also tend to slip back into them. Forcibly deviating to far from a dream script while lucid will tend to wake me up.

When in full astral, I have a great deal of control over my environment. I can manifest objects and tools, fly, project energy, “bend” the environment (like on Avatar), and visibly weave spells. I can also teleport (to an extent) and manifest or access temples or other locations on demand. And I can also access the dream realms of other people if I want. (This supports the idea that a person’s “dream realm” is a specific demesne of the astral realm that surrounds or is native to a person. But that’s a lot more cosmology than I want to deal with.)

My experience with pathworking is closely related to my work with the Tree of Life and Qabalah, although it can be used with other systems and locations. Essentially, you would use intense symbolically specific visualization (Like a tarot trump) to “project” yourself into a given “place” (Such as the sephira of Yesod) and interact with entities and energies native to that place. The goal is usually the interaction with the entities you are seeking. These experiences and journeys can be less structured as well, and they can also be dangerous, as not all entities are honest or friendly.

I differentiate guided meditations and visualizations from pathworking because they don’t seem to be fully engaged. You are still mostly in your body and the physical, and for me at least the experience is more like dipping your awareness lightly into a script someone else is directing. These experiences act more like dream scripts experienced in a lucid state, and typically if you deviate too far from the script, you get booted from the experience (or less commonly, fully sucked in and detached from the “guide”).

So these are how I differentiate and understand these experiences. I don’t know what or where they really are, and I’m not sure it matters too much anyway. But these models help me describe them.

I’d also like to clarify that I’m not an expert at astral projection or lucid dreaming by any means. I don’t work with these experiences often, and they usually pose a great challenge for me to attain. (I think a lot of this is due to the centrality of visual imagery to most of the techniques for attaining these states.) But once I do attain them, I can pull off quite a bit (and usually wake up exhausted).

I’d love to hear any perspectives on these states that my readers might share.