The Unexpected House|
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Wednesday, May 5th, 2004
|Never what you expect
Yep...I'm goofing off of tonight's writing a little bit longer, for the sheer joy of posting here about what goes into same. :)
What prompted me to post the "Sword" letter, below (about "Air" energies in the magical sense -- reason, power, all them issues), was the surprise I encountered as I recently began to write the next volume of The Consciousness Cycle, In The Nightmare Village. The book being attributed to the sephira "Hod" on the Qabalistic Tree of Life -- Mercury, reason, etc. -- I had assumed it would be "mind-heavy," and had done some preparatory reading, rereading, and book-buying on that assumption: some eighteenth century stuff, history of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (a reread), even Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver.
Every one of the books I've written has (thankfully!) surprised me, at least some. I don't think I've mentioned before that Occult Forces, which started the series, was originally intended to be a quickie psi-adventure trilogy for tha bucks, not part of the Cycle itself; as I wrote it, I realized I just couldn't wait any longer to get started on the Cycle, unsaleability of "the Thelemic magicians are the Good Guys" novels or no. It ended up, partway through, not only attributed to "Binah" (and the nature of Thelemic "attainment to Mastery"), but plotted in line with the entire Tarot deck, card by card through the whole 78. Volume two, Layton Drive, was a little less surprising to me: I decided before starting to plot it in line with the 64 I Ching hexagrams, which helped focus it considerably, and "Malkuth" energies were fairly straightforward for the purpose; it was the springing-to-life of some of my most fanciful characters there that I found startling. By volume three, Topanga, the main surprise was how many danged pages you are committing yourself to when you decide to "unpack the Collective Unconscious" (you guessed it, "Yesod") -- even if you're focusing on the Western aspects of same (but boy, did I learn a lot about classical antiquity, the Grail cycle, and plenty else I never knew before!). Gods bless self-publishing: I suspect I'll be long gone before any mainstream publisher tackles a 1061-page adventure novel on these topics. :)
But this one (volume four, In The Nightmare Village) is proving perhaps the greatest surprise yet (to its author, anyway). It's plotted in line with AC's "Liber Trigrammaton," by a specific arrangement of the eight trigrams with one another (hence another 64-chapter book, huzzah; having just started it, I'm about to finish chapter two as I write this, on page 26 of a projected 650-700)...but contrary to my expectations, it isn't about the human mind, and the history of its attempts to understand reality.
Instead, it's proving to be about reality itself -- and how the conscious mind is the merest froth, the most delicate gossamer, on top of (and obscuring) that reality. This is making for some slow, and fairly heavy-duty, writing: simpler words, stripped down imagery -- more an extended poem in prose than anything like the expected "science text." (And as always, aiming at smooth readability, chockful of Seventies nostalgia, and solidly in the context of a ripping adventure yarn. Howzat for service? ;) )
I also find myself rereading comic books, no less, for the proper blend of poetry, action, human interest and cosmic scope. Particularly helpful here: old Chris Claremont-John Byrne X-Men (particularly "Days of Future Past"), Byrne's own FF issues (esp. "Terror in a Tiny Town"), and the spectacular work Jim Shooter did in the old Valiant books, above all "Alpha and Omega" in Solar. And running under it all, Philip K. Dick's unique and wonderful novels (the book is dedicated to St. Phil, in fact).
For one of my epigrams, I've turned again to St. Orson Welles (on whose words I'll close here):
"Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper
when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason."
(Back to work, AJ! Okay, I'm goin, I'm goin...)
93 93/93 -- AJ
P.S. Even at that page-count (and, argh, price!), Topanga's first-day-of-issue, 100th anniversary of the New Aeon edition sold out within a matter of weeks; from here on in, it's POD all the way. I'd waste my life doing this even if I weren't being read, but Gods bless you folks, anyway, for caring. :D
|AJ's FAQs: "Learning Magick"
[This is fine for general circulation, if anyone cares, so long as credit is given to "Thelemic writer A.J. Rose."]
Sol in Taurus, Luna in Sagittarius, Dies Mercurii
17 Taurus C / 5 May 2004 EV
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
I am asked how one goes about "learning Magick." Tryna suppress both floridity and word count, then....
(0) WHAT I'M ANSWERING HERE. I assume you mean exactly that -- "learning Magick," which for most people means some mixture of (a) learning to live a more "magical" life, (b) learning to turn events in a more satisfactory direction by means not widely understood, and (c) gaining sufficient traditional magical knowledge that "real magicians" will, however grudgingly, be bound to respect you...well, at least a little. ;)
If you mean "finding the right spiritual Path for me" -- or, yet another issue, "attaining Initiation" -- these are separate questions. (Oh, and Yes, I realize (a) above begs the question. It's intended to.)
(1) START ON YOUR OWN. Magicians are self-starters. If you can't get motivated enough to learn a lot on your own, before asking anyone else for help, you are probably not cut out to be a magician. This doesn't mean you aren't cut out for a spiritual Path, nor that you aren't cut out for "attaining Initiation," particularly in a Thelemic sense; once again, separate issues.
This advice is meant for everybody, but let's add a caveat for those aged under eighteen: unless your parents happen to be magicians, NO REPUTABLE MAGICIAN WILL AGREE TO TEACH YOU at your age (and probably not for some years thereafter, in most one-on-one teaching Orders). Virtually all of us started as teenagers; we just did it on our own. Go thou, and do likewise. ;)
(2) HOW DO I START ON MY OWN? Differs by individual, though it almost always means doing one heck of a lot of reading. How will you know what to read? Your native wit, and (sometimes painful) experience. Those whose principal reading matter consists of scattered results from Google searches, followed by petulant desire that somebody tell them what to do, are also probably not cut out to be magicians.
(3) I'VE BEEN ON MY OWN PATH FOR SOME YEARS NOW. I should like to confer with colleagues. (a) Does anybody in this field actually know what they're talking about? (b) Is anybody in this field acquainted with basic politeness, and driven, however occasionally, to practice it?
(a) Many, many people in this field know what they're talking about -- in theory. A far smaller number have actually practiced same, but many among these achieve actual working results: Magick is not only easier than people think, it is virtually unavoidable among sentient beings. Magicians aren't doing something nobody else is doing; they simply learn to turn universal energies toward outcomes they desire, rather than fear.
(b) Finally, as a general rule, basic politeness is one of the surest signs of Mastery, as is a sense of humor. There are plenty of polite, humorous people who don't happen to be Masters; there are no Masters devoid of a sense of humor, and very few devoid of habitual politeness. (These numbers change, alas, for Adepts, as distinct from Masters: Masters spend much of their time chuckling across the Abyss at Adepts, which makes some Adepts mighty cross. In fairness, this annoying habit of Masters is a consequence of having been Adepts so long themselves, and is one of the few compensations of Mastery.)
Hope this helps!
By way of full disclosure, I belong to two magical organizations. I'm proud to be a Minerval in Ordo Templi Orientis*, and also belong to a purported Thelemic Inner Order -- not calling itself A.'.A.'. -- which is in any case currently in a five-year period of Silence, so 'Nuff Said on that score.
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours in Love and Freedom, AJ
*For just shy of ten years now...and one day, unless it's the equivalent of a left-handed razzafrazzitz and I have been sadly duped, hope to actually possess a Minerval Certificate which says so. Ohhhhh, if only my OTO initiator were reading these words....