That’s a really, really hard question. In my first book, I list three skills I think are important: imagination, introspection, and authority. I still agree with that. I think I’d add a few techniques to the list, at least. For example, I agree with Jason Miller as to the importance of meditation. I particularly find mindfulness meditation useful, not just for magic but for life. Other than that, the ability to maintain and control mental images is extremely important. Finally, I think discrimination is necessary: you need to understand the difference between reality and wishful thinking to do good magic. For me, the hardest skill is the simplest: relaxation. I get excited and anxious pretty easily, and so I have to make a concentrated effort to calm down several times a day, and several times during a working. I also have a bit of trouble with imagining spatial relationships, always have, and that can gum up some visualizations.
Archive for June, 2010
Building on the first question. What do you consider to be fundamental skills? Which ones provide the most value/utility and what ways have you worked to develop your skills? Which ones have been the most challenging and why?Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 by P. Dunn
What is your personal experience regarding gods, daemons, and so on? Do you see them as independent of or a part of our individual minds, or something else?Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 by P. Dunn
I absolutely see them as independent. They are persons made out of symbols. So are we, but none (or maybe few) of their symbols are physical. I reject the notion that they are “parts” of a person’s mind, even though several occultists I admire teach that. I have to be true to my experience, and in my experience, they are other — sometimes radically so. The Olympick spirits, for example, are so, so, so not me. Or anyone else human.
As far as my personal experiences, I have lots, but I find myself growing coy when it comes time to talk about them. I have had what I suspect are visions of gods, and what I believe to be direct and sometimes very clear communications with spirits and demons.
Pardon my disappearance. I’ve been buried in yard work. It’s gloriously domestic. Here are some of the things we did this week:
- Fixed the squirrel damage to the eaves. Little buggers want in, they do.
- Spread clover seed on the lawn. I’m sick of cutting grass, or to be more accurate, dandelions. I suspect that a native clover might just choke out the dandelions.
- Spread some columbine seeds. Here’s hoping they’ll grow in the stygian shade of my lawn. But the neighbor had some seedpods and free is hard to pass up.
- Sprayed for spiders (again, in the stygian shade of my house, such things must be done periodically or I wake up with centipedes hosting a convention in my bathtub).
- Scheduled some estimates for various bits of work, some of which came in under budget, others — less so. There’s one particular tree I’d like to cut back. I call it the “tree of Damocles” because it looms hugely over the house and is largely responsible the aforementioned stygian darkness.
- Pulled dandelions. It looks like little meteors have dotted my lawn with pits now.
- Trimmed trees, creating yet another palisade of sticks out front. Did I mention my yard has trees? If you count saplings over one inch in diameter, it has about 150 trees.
- Cut down some great specimens of deadly nightshade in the backyard. We actually left a patch in the back, because it blooms so pretty.
- Bought a new fridge! That’s the one that’s most exciting. I’m expecting to actually notice a change on my electrical bill, because my old fridge was almost exactly my age. We got an amazing deal. Stainless steel, half the price we were expecting to pay. I usually dicker for months before making a big purchase, but when he named the price I said “And there’s a manufacturer’s guarantee? And you do free delivery? We’ll take it.”
So that’s all very ordinary kind of quotidian stuff. But important: this house, and the man I share it with, were things I got at least partially through magic.
In the non-quotidian, I was buried in the Hermetica, as well as Iamblichus and Agrippa. I’ve got an idea for my next book.
People say that when doing a sigil magic the last stage is to forget the original intent. But as you know the mind is a bitch. It tries to focus more on things we consciously try to stay away from. Any suggestions?Posted in Ask Me Anything on June 5, 2010 by P. Dunn
Lots! I published several of them in my second book, Magic Power Language Symbol. But in brief, forgetting isn’t the only way to avoid the central problem, which is obsessing about a problem and not giving the solution time to work. You can, for example, simply distract yourself from your desire. Working really hard on forgetting your sigil is often counter-productive, because — well, don’t think of the elephant. Immediately, you think of an elephant. Similarly, don’t think about your sigil, and you will automatically think about your sigil. The real key is to consider the work a fiat accompli, and just not worry about it. It’s worry that’s the real problem, not remembering.
Probably the number one tip I have is to get a good grounding in things outside of magic. A liberal arts BA is ideal, but not practical for everyone. Barring that, read widely in philosophy, religion, science, and the arts. The second tip is to develop a BS sensor; you’ll need it. Don’t forget to train it on yourself periodically. At the same time, don’t dismiss too much just because it sounds silly to you; sometimes the stuff that sounds silly is pretty useful. The last thing is to train your memory. At some point I intend, knock wood, to write a book on the role of memory in magic. It’s more important than most people realize.
This looks like fun. I see some people doing it, and it occurs to me that it’d be a way for me to answer my legions of fans, who clamor at my door for attention.
So go ahead: ask me anything. The only things I won’t answer are those I can’t because they (a) are too personal, or (b) violate oaths (not many of those).