Article, Review of Magic Power Language Symbol and some thoughts on the occult culture

Posted on October 6, 2008
Filed Under book review, identity, linguistics, Magic, occult culture | 12 Comments

Taking the Path of Least Resistance in Magic has been posted by the good folks of the Right Where You are Sitting Now Podcast. I’ll be writing more articles for them in the near future and look forward to continuing to work with them. I think they’re a really good crew of people.

Book Review Magic Power Language Symbol by Patrick Dunn

Overall, I was fairly impressed by this book. I think Dunn does an excellent job of explaining a lot of the theories behind language and magic, as well as showing how theories can be made into practice. He explores concepts of gematria, glossalia, metaphor, semiotics and much more and in the process makes all the concepts approachable and easy to understand. In fact, I think that’s the strength of this book. It’s written so that anyone can pick up the book, read about the concepts, and put them into practice, though at least in the case of gematria, readers will probably need to have a decent familiarity with Quabala.

I also liked his explanation of the semiotic web and the Defixio. In both cases he not only explains the theory, but also provides personal anecdotes and suggestions for how the reader can incorporate those practices into his/her work. I think his latest book is a good introduction to linguistics and magic, and he provides the reader some other works to explore once they finish his work.

I did have two minor issues which made this book a four out of five for me. The fourth appendix of the book has a bunch of practical exercises for the book. It seems odd that the exercises are placed at the end of the book, instead of incorporated into the book. I’m not sure if that a decision of the publisher or the author. The other issue is that while he does cover a lot of the connection between linguistics and magic, he doesn’t cover much of the contemporary work occurring with linguistics or magic. He dedicates only a small section to the contemporary work. That said, this a good primer for linguistics and magic and how the two disciplines can be brought together. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in branching outward from more conventional approaches to magic.

Some Thoughts on Occult Culture

I was at Conflux this weekend. I had a good time, but while there I did a lot of thinking about occult culture and my own place in it. I’ve written in this blog, previously about my disillusionment with the occult culture, and yet I can’t really say I’m disillusioned with occult culture overall. I think what it really comes down to is that I don’t really feel I fit in with certain aspects of the occult culture…the aspects focused more on spectacle and image and performance. That’s actually one reason I might not do Esozone again. While I’m looking forward to presenting my workshop there as well as meeting up with some people, I look at the program and I honestly wonder how much of what I’m teaching really fits with the overall theme. It’s not that my work isn’t focused on the other tomorrow…rather it’s that I don’t really relate well to the culture that has sprung up around esozone. I recognize it’s occult culture of some sorts…I’m just not sure it’s my occult culture.

But I’ve also been recognizing that there is an occult culture out there that I identify with and lately I’ve been starting to reach out to that occult culture. Not surprisingly who I’m reaching out to are people who have similar feelings of disenchantment with the direction occultism seems to be going in. They want something different, something more substantial, while also something that isn’t so rooted in the past that it can’t evolve. Lupa’s suggested I try and find people I can work with who could develop some system or tradition…I don’t know though…I’m mixed about that and yet I’m not…because I have a vision in mind…it just has to be with the right kind of person involved and I’m very picky with people, for a lot of reasons, which essentially boil down to being burned too many times by people I expected otherwise of. To work with someone in person would involve a lot of trust on my part (as well as theirs). Do I think it could happen? Yes…I know it can, because I actually am working with two different people closely, but it still comes down to finding the right fit, and if something actually develops in my immediate environment it will be with a small group of people initially.

And then too, I’ve increasingly been getting involved with other subcultures and the more time I spend in them, the more convinced I am that something really has to change with occult culture overall. It’s not that these other cultures are better perse…it’s just that there’s something happening in them that I don’t see as much in occult culture…what I see in other subcultures is less insularity, more communication and networking, more looking our for each other and supporting each other. The other day, a person who wanted to come to esozone and needed a place to crash and posted about it on an occult forum got no responses. I finally messaged her, because I really didn’t want to see someone not taken care of…I wanted I suppose to reach out to this person looking for community and provide something of that to her. I suppose what I’m looking for is something of a tribe of sorts, or a system wherein we look out for each other. Lupa and I, have opened our doors a fair amount to occultists coming through Portland. I expect this will continue…I believe in hospitality, plus it’s always good to get a chance to talk shop.

I have a vision of an occult culture and I think it’s possible to make it real. The non-fiction line of Immanion Press is part of that vision made manifest…and it’s time for more of that vision to be realized.

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