The Scentless Apprentice
A Life in Magick, Malkuth, The Kingdom.
That night in the park where under a mushroom Autumn moon I saw the dazzling dance of energy… Words are inadequate for I was not thinking but being. The large circle of trees surrounded the shimmering expanse of grass and I felt like I, (or eye for there was no ‘me’) was in a perfect new Eden, enclosed under a glass dome of stars, everything fizzed with life and there was no boundary, I was the earth and the sky, the oak and cedar sentries communicated their slow vegetable wisdom, I talked to a beautiful young rose and her scent was intoxicating. Verbal thought was jumbled glossolia, utterly meaningless…In that moonlight park I danced with Pan, saw impossibly complex geometric fractals, I had the idea I was looking into my own DNA…
Before the 10th June 2012 I had began to tinker with ritual magic but on that day I resolved to begin daily work. Self initiated, successfully, it’s been a interesting ride, and I’m barely over the first drop on the magickal rollercoaster.
My great friend Jill who I’d been experimenting with a form of magick-lite (with enough success to make us want more) returned from a trip to Treadwell’s in London. She brought back a book, it had, the ways things do in Chapel Perilous, fallen off the shelf, she bought it of course.
I won’t name the author but the blurb on the back promised to be ‘A Self Study Course for the Aspiring Adept’, inside were symbols, Pentagrams and Unicursal Hexagrams, strange alphabets and glyphs… I felt immediately that this was what I wanted, needed.
The first book on Magic I ever read was found, curiously, in my secondary school library.
In Aberdeen in the early Eighties this was quite a find, it was a gentle little book called Magic: An Occult Primer by David Conway and I read it from cover to cover many times. I have a terrible memory but the way he talked about the ‘Astral Planes’ and its denizens particularly impressed itself on my still unformed mind. Years later I found a comic book shop that sold Crowley, R.A.W. and some other Weiser titles. I read The Beast admiring his mad passion and iconoclasm but understanding little of the work. Besides I had discovered hash and cider, girls and music. I read Burroughs, decided to be a brilliant but doomed ‘poet maudit’ and painted and wrote teenage poetry which eventually became lyrics for my band… Magick could wait.
Of course I could never forget that night in the park. I used Tarot without bothering to go much beyond the tiny booklet that came with the pack and also came across a heavily abridged copy of the I Ching and a set of three coins to cast the hexagrams. I was often struck dumb by its precision. I decorated my teenage lair with candles, incense and richly patterned throws and rugs trying to replicate the Marrakesh splendor of Rolling Stones photos and developed a fascination with the band, reading book after book, noting their friendship with Kenneth Anger and other Sixties luminaries and gobbled up stories of Brian Jones’ experiences with the Pipers of Joujouka and his witnessing a goat being sacrificed to Pan. All the different strands of my reading, the artists and poets I loved, began to form a paper trail, from John Fowles The Magus to Bulgakov’s The Master and Marguerita, everything led back to Magick.
I was around nineteen by that time and felt the pull of the occult like a bow string being pulled taut, aiming my arrow high and long. Like most young men I had my little gang of friends but none of them really followed my growing obsession. We were having a ball, listening to classic sixties stuff but also a lot of new American indie bands Husker Dü, The Pixies, Sonic Youth etc. We’d meet up every night, get stoned and play Risk… Around this time we started to put a little band together, school friends and partners in wild weekends. I found, to my surprise i could sound okay using a mic and stepped in as singer, my best friend Croitz on guitar/ keyboards, Kev Buyers learned bass and we had the luck of having All Pritchard a proper drummer with a kit! We played covers and started making tentative tunes of our own… The Comfy’s…Such innocent times.
The More I Write the More I Remember…
For some time I’d been buying everything from the Magick section of the comic book shop from Chaos Magick to Castenada, and had begun an erratic program, I managed to do Crowley’s Gnostic Pentagram Ritual everyday for a few weeks and I felt the stirrings of… something… I now did elaborate tarot readings for friends and decided that the cards were a way of making the querant examine his or her life through the lens of the spread. I began to wonder if I wasn’t already an initiate. Everything that interested me would have some connection with occultism, my book shelves were now groaning under the weight of Pete Carroll, Dion Fortune, Regardie and dozens of minor authors mixed with classics like The Golden Bough along with my other obsessions: Picasso, Van Gogh, Klee, biographies of Rimbaud and Modigliani, and Plains Indians, the Sioux and Cheyenne were my fierce favorites, and, of course, Crowley from his torturously long winded Hagiography to the oblique Book of Lies. It was around this time I tested my Godlike powers… Young men are clannish and territorial and a couple of acquaintances had overstepped the mark by making threats. They were both bad news and I forget now what exactly was the cause of the trouble. However under the encouragement of my friends I cursed both of them when my blood was hot. I have no idea how to curse someone but I presume I used sigil magick with pure rage as fuel, perhaps I sigilized their names and performed some cobbled together word spell but I fired them both off, in front of my younger brother and a couple of mates. I must say that curses are not cool and I would never be so foolhardy now but like I say, I was young, pissed off and to be honest, didn’t expect them to work. The next day I heard to my amazement that acquaintance #1 had had a minor car crash on his way home after the argument and subsequent curse, he was luckily unhurt but his car was in need of expensive repairs! The friend who told me about it had been present at the cursing, I didn’t doubt I had somehow worked black magick… A couple of nights later, Xmas eve if I remember rightly, #2 was hospitalized with an unusually intense asthma attack! Did I really cause these events with my amateur hexing? I believe I did!
Magick was in my bones now, in my eyes as I looked in the mirror,
To be continued…