Did you miss an episode of the magical experiments podcast in March. You can listen to all of the episodes here.
And if you enjoy these episodes, please donate to the magical experiments fundraiser. Your donations allow us to continue putting shows liek these on, for the next year.
Magical Experiments podcast: The Aesthetics and process of magic with Taylor Ellwood
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 1 with Crystal Blanton, Jacki Chucalate, and Felix Warren
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 2 with Tallah Hovisdottir and Katessa Harkey
Magical Experiments podcast: Magical Activism Pt 3 with Shauna Aura Knight and Joseph Robicheaux
Book Review: Inner Traditions of Magic by William G. Gray
This is an excellent, must read book on magic. In it Gray walks readers through a number of magical operations and shows you how to take those operations apart and work with them. I like the depth of theory he explores and find that his approach really makes magic easier to understand. I will note that his writing style does tend to be ponderous at times, but if you stick with it, you will get a lot from his work and be able to significantly improve your own magical practice.
In this case study, I share a recent working I did with Glasya-Labolas that shows how focusing on the influence aspect of a spirit can produce great results. To learn more, watch the video below.
2-23-17 What stillness teaches me in the moment is how to recognize when I’m putting myself in a situation where I need to take a moment and ask myself if the course of action I’m engaging in is the best choice. It’s also helping me step back and recognize feelings of irritation and frustration I feel in everyday situations such as driving. I hadn’t realized how often I’ve felt those feelings until I started practicing my stillness work in everyday situations, but recognizing those feelings also helps me realize I need to be consciously aware of how those feelings show up, so I can work through them, instead of reacting to them. I would rather be consciously aware of them and be able to sit with them, than just react because I’m feeling them.
3-3-17 I was reading the Gifts of Imperfection while vending at NEWTS. She brought up some really important perspectives that helped me understand some of my issues around positive emotion. She discussed the importance of a gratitude practice…and I’m going to start doing that everyday because I see some real value in taking a moment to state what you’re grateful for. And as the author points out, it can enhance the joy in your life. She also makes a distinction between joy and happiness, noting that happiness is situational, while joy comes from a deeper place, but also how vulnerable a person can feel with joy, because it can also bring up a fear of loss. I realize that’s what has stopped me from sometimes stepping into my joy more fully, that fear of loss…you can feel so vulnerable that you try to find some way to shut down that feeling.
That’s been me sometimes…and realizing that’s why is helping me approach my positive experiences and feelings from a different place, one where I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable and work through whatever fears arise so I can step into the moment and let it be what it can be.
3-6-17 I’ve been paying closer attention to who I am and what I’m feeling. I guess what that really means is that instead of putting on masks for myself, I’m taking them off, so I can really be present in the moment. I may still put on a mask for someone else, but the days of not paying attention to what’s going on internally are over. Stillness has given me that gift.
3-8-17 I was feeling some anxiety today around the work I’m doing. It seems like every time I’m close to finishing it up, I discover another layer that needs to be factored in. And then I worry…will this even work? I can choose to listen to those fears, express them and/or use them to motivate me. I can also be still with them and get to the real heart of the matter, which is about worthiness. I’m choosing to do some of those actions today and reminding myself that it’s my first time doing this work and that I’m not just doing it, but learning how I can do it better the next time I do it. So be patient and dedicated and iterate.
3-9-17 Yesterday I was telling Kat that I want to help people through my content. I want people to get value out of what I create as opposed to having people try and get value out of me. when I used to have much worse boundaries than I have now, I wouldn’t always recognize when people were coming into my orbit with ulterior motives. I’ve gotten better at paying attention to the details, and also recognizing that what I want to give people is the gift of my experiences and knowledge, but also have the right boundaries in place for myself.
3-15-17 When you can talk with someone about what is uncomfortable, and settle into the conversation, it brings with it, its own form of stillness. I’ve only recently discovered how to be comfortable talking about uncomfortable subjects, with someone. Seems odd that its taken me so long, but given how guarded I’ve been my entire life, maybe not so much. Relaxing into the stillness of the moment is what liberates you to discuss what needs to be talked about.
3-21-17 This month has really been about details. What stillness is teaching me about details is how to be present with them, without letting them get to me. I look at all this work I’m doing right now for my businesses and my life and there’s this feeling of readiness…The details are getting attended to so that I can make that move out of stillness into wherever I need to go. And this makes me glad I devoted a 3rd year to Stillness. I needed to get to this place with Stillness (and a bit further) in order to go to the next step of my spiritual journey and life. That’s the value of Stillness. It helps you stop long enough to figure out where you need to go instead of continuing to react. You break out of the patterns and start developing your own.
Hello magical experimenters,
I’m doing a fundraiser for the magical experiments podcast. I’m seeking to raise $399 to cover the costs of the podcast. The $399 will be used to pay for the Blogtalkradio premium account, which allows me to schedule shows at premium times (for example 6pm) and for longer than a half hour at a time, which is important because our shows usually run an hour in length.
If you’ve been listening to the show, you know we’ve covered a variety of topics including pop culture magic, social justice magic, working with spirits, space/time magic, and much, much more. We’ve also had a number of guests including Frater Barrabbas, Benebell Wen, Felix Warren, Rune Emerson and many other quality guests who have offered their wisdom and ideas about magic.
The benefit for the community is that it allows me to continue creating great programming that you don’t find anywhere else. We don’t just talk about magic on this podcast. A lot of our shows also focus on social justice issues in the Pagan community as well as mainstream community. Additionally instead of just interviewing authors, I bring on different people with different experiences, not all of them well-known so that a variety of voices and perspectives are shared.
Your donations support this mission and allows me to continue doing the podcast and offering it to the magical and pagan community at large.
If you’ve gotten value from the podcast, if you’ve enjoyed the shows, please donate. Your donations support the podcast and programming I put together.
And if you donate, I have some special offers as a way of saying thanks.
Donate $1 and you have my thanks and appreciation.
Donate $5 and I will do a livestream where I personally thank you for your support.
Donate $10 and I will write an article about a topic of your choice.
Donate $15 and I will give you a one card tarot reading to one question you have.
Donate $35 and I will give you an autographed copy of one of my books.
Donate $50 and I will give you a half-hour Tarot consultation.
Donate $60 and you’ll get your choice of either the mad science + Magic = Magical Experiments t-shirt or the Evil Eyes t-Shirt
Donate $75 and I will give you a 30 second advertising spot on the podcast.
Donate $100 and I will give you a one hour consultation on any topic you’d like to discuss.
When you donate, I’ll contact you privately to thank you and set up arrangements.
And again thanks for your support.
Here’s a graphic that shows where we currently are with our donations:
Thought I would share an update on my current writing projects: Pop Culture Magic Systems and Alchemy of Life
Did you miss an episode of magical experiments in February? All the shows are below.
Magical Experiments podcast: The alchemical balance of positivity and negativity with Bill Duvendack
Book Review: Advanced Magical Arts by R. J. Stewart
Advanced Magical Arts is a follow up to Living Magical Arts, with a particular focus on visualization, ritual and mediation and how these techniques can be used in conjunction with each other as well as what precautions to take when employing them. The author does a good job of explaining the techniques and showing how they can be used to develop a system of magic. I also like that he includes some sample workings in his tradition that you can use to implement these techniques. I found it easy to take the concepts shared and employ in my own workings and systems of magic. I recommend this book as a good resource to learn more about these techniques.
1-25-17 The other day I attended a lecture about Gurdijieff’s work. It was quite fascinating, especially when the person giving the lecture talked about a person’s actions were essentially just reactions to everything that had had influenced the person. While my initial response was to be skeptical, when I considered the idea, I found it made sense in a way. When I look at all my choices, there’s a history behind those choices and there’s environmental factors. It doesn’t take away from my responsibility for those choices, but recognizing that your choices aren’t solely based on internal motivations can be helpful…It’s too easy to take on so much responsibility that you ignore the other factors. There’s a balance to be struck and when it is, it can help a person with internal work in a way that actually helps produce genuine conscious change that can be acted on.
I thought I would share a few examples of how my own aesthetics of magic have changed. The first two examples are recent ones that have to do with art magic, but the final example is really a discussion of how my use of magical tools has changed over the years and why. I’d originally intended to share these answers in a class I’m teaching, but after a bit of back and forth with my friend Felix decided to make a video discussing these examples, because its a good way to continue fleshing my own thoughts on the aesthetics of magic and where that really fits in my own work. I’m sure I’ll be doing some further work around this line of inquiry because there’s a lot to consider and explore.
In the video below I share the three examples of changing aesthetics in my own magical work.
And if you want to learn more about the principles of magic…
In my previous post I talked about the aesthetics of magic and why that perspective can be a useful part of your process of magic. Now I want to explore why its useful to question your aesthetics and how that can benefit your magical practice. While your aesthetics of magic is useful for helping you understand what makes a magic working magical, it’s not a good idea to treat your aesthetics as set in stone. If anything, questioning your aesthetic filter can help you recognize how it might limit you magically, or what you could change about a magical working.
In the example, I used in the previous post, the person mentioned that sigils didn’t look magical, which was why trying to do magic with them didn’t work. One question I found myself asking was, “What could this person change about the sigils to make them look magical (and therefore buy into them being a viable magical operation)?”
It’s important to recognize that the Aesthetics isn’t limited to the appearance. When I think of an aesthetics of magic, I’m thinking of what makes the experience magical, which can include (but is not limited to) visual appearance, but can also include the smells, sounds, feelings, taste, as well as movement and stillness (and whatever else you might think of that contributes to creating the experience). This distinction is important to note because if we’re going to question our own aesthetics, we need to recognize what we are specifically focusing on.
So how do we question our Aesthetics?
First you need to decide what is aesthetically part of your magical workings. I suggest looking at a number of magical workings you’ve done over a period of time to identify the aesthetic elements that consistently show up in those workings. This will tell you which aesthetic elements are considered necessary on your part in order to make a magical working happen.
For example if you find that you consistently use candles in your workings, then candles would be an essential aesthetic element of your magical practice.
Now take a look at what aesthetic elements don’t show up in your ritual or workings. For instance, you might not do chanting, because you might think its a distraction or that it doesn’t sound magical (or whatever the reason is).
List the aesthetic elements that you consider essential in one column and in the other column put the elements that are non-essential.
Why are the aesthetic elements in the essential column necessary for your magical working?
This is the question to ask yourself. Beside each element write down your response. No answer is wrong. The point of this exercise is to understand what makes a given aesthetic element essential to your magical practice.
Why are the aesthetic elements in the non-essential column unnecessary for your magical working?
Just as with the previous question, write down why a given aesthetic element is unnecessary or not magical enough for you. Again there’s no right or wrong answer. The point of this exercise is to help you understand why a given element isn’t aesthetic enough for your workings.
Now it’s time to try something new…
You know what the essential and non-essential aesthetic elements of magic are and why they are or aren’t essential to your practice, but it can be a useful exercise to try something new with your magical practice. Try putting together a magical working where you don’t use all the aesthetic elements you normally use, or where you mix in some aesthetics that you normally wouldn’t use. Then record what the results are, but be willing to do this multiple times, to see if there are any differences.
Also if you’re using an aesthetic element of magic that you normally wouldn’t use, ask yourself what you could do to make it magical. Don’t be afraid to make some changes. For instance, in the case where the sigils didn’t appear magical, the person could try drawing the sigils differently or using colors or try a different sigil technique.
The benefit of experimenting with the aesthetic elements is that it gives you an opportunity to challenge what you consider to be essential. And even if you come away with realizing that what’s essential is really what works to make a working magical, at least you’ve questioned and challenged your aesthetics and discovered for yourself why those elements are essential.
The benefit of working with aesthetic elements you don’t consider essential is that it allows you to discover if you can make them essential to your practice and also provides you an opportunity to challenge your ideas about what is or isn’t magical.
Share your results with this exercise in the comments below. I’d love to discover what you learned 🙂
And if you’d like to see my answers, check this video out.
The other day an acquaintance emailed me and asked me what I thought about sigils. What the person wanted to know is if I thought chaos magic style sigils were an effective form of magic. I’ll admit to being surprised by the question, because I’ve generally found the work, but then I read a bit further and I recognized why sigils hadn’t worked for the person. The person explained that the sigils didn’t look magical.
The issue was an aesthetic one. And it’s an important issue actually, because if you look at the practice of magic in general there is an Aesthetic aspect to it that shows up across various systems and traditions, and yet isn’t overtly acknowledged or recognized for the most part.
I got to talking with my friend Felix Warren about it, because in the past he’s shared his own perspective about the aesthetic of magic and how he uses an aesthetic perspective in developing his magical work and he agreed that if there is an aesthetic quality missing in a magical working that can affect the person’s process of magic.
Let’s define the word Aesthetic. Aesthetic is a set of principles that underline and guide the work of a particular artist or artistic movement. It’s also the appreciation of beauty.
So what’s that have to do with the practice of magic?
If we look at a given magical working from a design perspective, we see the aesthetic principle of magic show up. The design perspective is concerned with the trappings of magic and what trappings are needed in order for the magical working to happen. For example, what tools you will use, what clothes you will wear, but also how you will get your conscious and unconscious self to align and buy into the magical working.
This is why some people need incense and candles when they do magic. Aesthetically the incense and candles creates the right design that allows the person to fully commit to the magical working, because they’ve created a space that is magical.
Now what’s important to remember is that not everyone’s aesthetic is the same. For example, I don’t need incense or candles to do magic. My aesthetic of magic is fairly minimalistic in some ways…yet there is an aesthetic that informs the magical work that I’m doing.
I would also say that your aesthetic for a given magical act can actually differ depending on what the magical working is. For instance if I’m doing a chant to evoke an archangel…that chant and the correspondences in it will be the aesthetic that makes the working come together. On the other hand, a painting of a sigil doesn’t need a chant, but does need the paints and the experience of paint, and so that becomes the aesthetic.
Now that’s just my take on the aesthetic of magic and as you know I’ll all about personalizing magic, so to me it makes sense to take an approach to the aesthetics of magic that personalizes them according to the magical working that you’ll be doing…but a reasonable question to ask is if a person should develop a universal standard of aesthetics that they apply to their magical practice.
The answer to that question is that it depends on the person. For that matter it also depends on what spiritual system or tradition they are engaged in, because a given system or tradition of magic has its own aesthetic of magic that informs the design of the rituals and how people should show up. You can question that aesthetic and modify it, but you also have to consider whether said modification will be welcomed in general.
If you’re developing your own system than you can create a codified aesthetic for that system. That codified aesthetic is essentially your brand and it describes how your magic should be designed and why that design will play a role in the magical work you do, as well as the interactions you have with the spirits that are part of your system. This codified aesthetic should also have some input from your spirits, because of course they’ll have their own expectations and correspondences that need to be considering when you’re doing a working with them.
How does the Aesthetics of Magic connect to the Process of Magic?
I think the aesthetics of magic offers another angle that you can use to help you understand your process of magic and why something is or isn’t working. And recognizing that your magical practice should be experienced a certain way helps you to appreciate how you design your magical works, as well as what is essential and what is optional in those workings. Additionally, there’s something to be said for simply appreciating the qualities of a magical working that make it magical.
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