Letters to a Young Sorcerer #1: I am not special. Neither are you.

Fludd's Great Chain of Being

As I resume my spiritual practice with 4 new clients in the last 24 hours, the truth of this work, the “essential spirit” of it, comes back to me.  So my first “letter” to those just starting out in this field has to do with what the work really is and what it really isn’t.  In order to understand what I’m about to tell you, you need to accept one hard-cut truth: I am not special, even though I practice sorcery.  You are not special, either.

I’ve written about some of the hard lessons being a spiritual worker has taught me.  And I’ve pointed out more than once that conjure, divination, and sorcery are like learning to play the piano.  Most people can learn it to a competent degree if they work hard at it, but only a few will be brilliant.  If you are sure that you aren’t one of those brilliant few (and can you really be sure?), who cares

Who says that unflattering self-perception must stop you from doing what you love?  That is true for physics, coaching basketball, flying planes, teaching yoga, playing Texas Hold’em, investing, or seducing the innocent.  Being a mediocre practitioner of an art is still practicing it.  The only harm comes when you overstate your skill level.

Some plumbers are just more talented than others and do more impressive work.  Some poets write more resonant lines than others.  Some historians have more penetrating insights into the past.  But if you wanted to, you could start studying physics, coaching, flying, yoga, poker, investing, seduction, plumbing, poetry, or history and learn those disciplines well enough to identify as a practitioner.  Doing that will not set you apart from your fellow man or reveal you as some kind of messiah, genius, chosen one, or superhero.  It will mean you applied yourself, did the reading, learned, grew as a person, and became competent.

The same goes for magic.  Like anything else, it takes practice and dedication, no matter how much talent you may or may not have.  Some will be born with a gift for that particular sort of work.  But sorcery, like anything we decide to do, is part of what it is to be human.  As a human, you can learn it if you really want to.  We forget that sometimes.  If, as the chaos magician and farmer, Gordon White, puts it, “the universe runs on magic,” then I also suggest: you are magic.  In fact, we all are. 

Like the new age saying goes, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.  Sometimes the most challenging hurdle for a beginning sorcerer is accepting this.  Lingering Victorian materialism has taught us that magic is part of the SUPER-natural—that which is above and beyond the natural (or, for many scientists, that which is merely fantasy and does not actually work or exist in any meaningful way).  But other eras never saw a disconnect between the body and the soul, the magical and the mundane. 

It was all part of a continuum, a Great Chain of Being.  Most often, when we study the magical arts, we are learning the principles founded in those other eras, not in our current technocratic scientistic age.  Even the famous Victorian magical societies turned to classical antiquity and the Renaissance for inspiration and guidance, mining the great libraries and museums of Europe for grimoires and philosophical texts. 

So it is in our current magical schools as well.  But far too many would-be sorcerers and half-baked magicians turn to the occult because they want to escape reality instead of understand and engage with it.  They want magic to be SUPER-natural because the natural world of their mundane lives is boring and painful and they feel small.

They want to be special, chosen, sought after.  They want money.  They want sex.  They want to be the guru.  And when they advertise their services as sorcerers, they act like magic is a rare jewel that only the chosen few possess.  Maybe they even believe this.  But whether they know they’re lying or they’re just doing it out of ignorance, the fact remains that they are misleading others, obscuring the truth that sorcery can be taught to just about anyone.  It can even be self-taught.

This attitude comes as much from their damaged egos and need for admiration as it does from pop-culture.  Harry Potter is very special, you know?  But this sense of magic being somehow “out there” is false.  And it leads to deceptive marketing and puffery on the part of these lost souls who quickly go from wanting to be the guru to lying to clients about the occult and their own exaggerated abilities.  My first letter to you, young sorcerer, is therefore a warning: don’t be like this.

If you want to do this kind of work, you have to get over yourself and remember: you are not special; you are neither worse nor better than anyone else.  You have a certain skill set.  If you’re good enough at it (as with anything) people will pay you for it. 

If you want to work as a public sorcerer, if you want to get good enough that you can shift probability, call spirits to appearance, influence minds at a distance, draw money and love, cast and remove curses, perform blessings and cleansings, know the innermost recesses of the self, communicate with the dead, and understand the spiritual quintessence that underlies all nature, hard work and dedication is the only way.  Period.

Practice, study, mindful experimentation, and finding a magical community of peers with whom you can discuss these things is how you do it.  You have to develop the wisdom to know who is awake and who is still struggling in the chains of reductive materialism.  You also have to learn how to care for yourself because this road is long and unforgiving.

All of the above abilities and more are attainable, in whole or in part, by all but the most magically tone-deaf people (who are likely unnaturally gifted at some other things—the world tends to balance itself like that and I’d rather have a talented plumber fix my water heater than a spirit conjured from the Verum, wouldn’t you?).  And I don’t mean to seem inordinately harsh when I tell you that you need to stay humble and avoid developing a messiah complex.  But I also don’t write this letter to make you feel good.  

I write this because I care about the magical art and want it to thrive.  The only way that’s going to happen is if there is new blood, if the new generation of spiritual workers, grimoire magicians, witches, and psychics are real and not fake.  Those of us who have been walking the path for decades will eventually have to move over and let others lead.  It is the way of things.  And it is our job to make sure that when that happens, the young people who step up will do so with power, sincerity, wisdom, and truth.

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Starting up work once again . . .

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Well, my six-month hiatus away from conjure is coming to an end.  I’m feeling the itch, feeling called by my spirits to get back in the game.  As my dear friend Brother Moloch said not too long ago: it’s good to take breaks but don’t let too much time go by.  He’s right, as usual.

Sometimes, you need to clear your head.  This kind of work is so serious and intensive that after every 15-20 client cases, I tend to need a decompression period if I want to stay on top of my game.  So it’s been a good one.  I’ve moved twice in this last period—to southern France and then back to the USA for a while.  Now I’m in Europe again, my workshop is reestablished, and I’ve been doing tarot readings locally to get warmed up.  

You can find me moderating on Studio Arcanis most days or contact me here via my secure email: friendlyoccultist (at) protonmail (dot) com. 

If you need some work done or you need a reading, check out How to Hire Me, my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, and What I Won’t Do for Money on this site.

While I’ve been away, I’ve gotten a plethora of requests for spiritual work.  To those who emailed me during that time, I can only say that sometimes the world of Spirit calls you to do this kind of work.  Other times, you are explicitly called not to work but to be introspective and care for yourself.  Since I have a full-time mundane income, I can afford to listen carefully to those messages.

When it Looks Like a Curse, Don’t Go to a “Lightworker”

The only thing more pathetic than the term, “spiritual entrepreneur,” is the individual who describes him- or herself that way. It may seem a bit ironic that I’m saying this, given that I practice public sorcery and charge for such services. But there is definitely a difference between a “spiritual entrepreneur” and a “spiritual worker” as the terms are commonly understood and used.

A spiritual worker is a magical individual (rootdoctor, sorcerer, Reiki master, herbalist, card reader, etc.) who provides a set of spiritual services to a community. These days, that includes an online community. This person may work through various established spiritual traditions and usually tries to educate and counsel his or her clientele. For example, my Black Snake Conjure is not only dedicated to conjure, evocation, and Reiki. It’s also committed to fostering multiculturalism, tolerance, and sharing across ethnic and spiritual boundaries. I do this work not just for my own monetary benefit but also to teach the art of magic and, in the process, to make the world a better place.

Conversely, a spiritual entrepreneur may or may not be a magical individual but will try hard to seem like one (using the most trendy suburban Wiccan* or new age styles, keywords, and assumptions). This person promotes a spiritual technique, product, or service, relying heavily on e-marketing, focused spam via “newsletters,” usually a content-lite YouTube channel, and niche customer targeting to generate as much passive income as possible. A spiritual entrepreneur’s focus is on his or her multi-platform business first, then content, then the clients. For this person, it’s all about the “brand.” If you go to YouTube and type in one of the key words associated with spiritual entrepreneurialism, “witchy,” you will get a veritable phone book of unimaginative cliché examples. After watching one or two of those videos and looking at the linked websites, you wouldn’t be wrong to wonder whether we need another post entitled “Six Signs You Might Be a Witch” or “Crystals Dealing with Toxic Family Energy Over the Holidays” or “Working with Angels and Spirit Guides.”

In the 1990s, more serious (or at least more style conscious) magical people coined the term “fluffy bunny” to describe Wiccans who pretend that they only work with love and light (with an equally pretentious subsequent reaction, “dark fluff”). And many spiritual entrepreneurs still believe that a generous helping of fluff will more easily part a certain type of customer from his or her money. But spiritual entrepreneurialism isn’t about love or “ascension” or, actually, anything at all beyond branding. It’s the most cynical commodification of spirituality available in the West and we see it everywhere. It’s the reason why occult publishers like Llewellyn and Weiser have taken so much criticism from real practitioners over the last 20-30 years, even though they’ve published quality work along with poorly researched, padded, repetitive trash.

Most of what I’m saying here is obvious and anyone who spends time looking through social media and reading Tumblr will quickly come to these conclusions.  As in all things Theodore Sturgeon’s “garbage theory” applies: 90% of a given set of things is crap to support the 10% that isn’t. All well and good. However, it’s not so good when we need spiritual services that actually work.

Uh-oh. Maybe you’ve been cursed. What then? If you think only members of certain ethnic communities worry about curses, you’re dead wrong. Every culture has them. And I can tell you confidently that if you haven’t been the target of a curse or some other form of psychic attack at least once, you will be someday. It’s part of life.

Now imagine you find yourself in a situation where a highly suspicious chain of nasty events is taking place in your life. Maybe you’ve also come down with a case of heavy depression and insomnia. You’re having reversals and problems at work and at home. And all of this happens to coincide with a falling-out you’ve recently had with someone or with some envy-inducing advancement, like a raise or a new relationship or a financial windfall. You say to yourself, why would anyone want to curse me? I haven’t done anything wrong! But curses don’t just work for justice. You can get crossed up by any individual who resents your happiness enough to do something about it.

Most of us, if we’re leading adult lives and not living in a cave, have a sprinkling of enemies who want to see us suffer. Often, a few of those people will either have some metaphysical aptitude or will be willing to go to a sorcerer-for-hire. And many times those people will be very close to us—ex-lovers, family, or coworkers. If you’re a decent person, like most people are, you won’t want to believe it. Jane from accounting?! She’s still bitter about me turning her down but, really, is that enough for her to pay a hoodoo worker to fuck up my life? Sure. Why not? You have no idea what’s going on in her head. She may just frown at you and avoid eye-contact when you pass her in the hallway, but maybe she’s lurking on your Facebook page, spending a lot of time fixating on why you turned her down, etc. With that in mind, do you think it’s so far-fetched that if she has a few books on magic, she might try something? Maybe she starts searching for “love spells” and comes across a professional’s website. And the rest is, as they say, academic.

In a situation like this, do you want to go to a spiritual entrepreneur who charges you $300 to change your vibration with a $10 quartz crystal and some essential oil? Do you want to go to a cute-as-a-button Wiccan girl on YouTube who says she can sage the bad juju away? Really? How about getting a reading from a teenager on Tumblr who snaps it out in just 20 minutes? Because I’ve been contacted by people who’ve taken that route at first. They nearly always write the following: I’ve gotten burned by workers before. Paid a lot of money and nothing happened. Or got a tarot reading and it made no sense / was totally vague. Or so-and-so cursed me and now my life is in tatters and Jenny the Lightworker told me my chakras were just out of balance. And then I have to clean up both the mess that their lives are in and whatever half-baked work the spiritual entrepreneur did (if anything).

All the new-age stuff, all the Wiccan stuff, all the watered-down pop-occult techniques and Law of Attraction and “abundance manifesting” can work. I don’t want to give the impression that “my way is the only way.” The problem is not actually with the techniques. It’s with the branding and the people who think they can make a living off of others by doing very little beyond curating their feeds and smiling into the camera. Most of the clients I get are desperate and sometimes locked in life-or-death circumstances. Many of them have been victims of baneful magic or a deep run of crossed-up luck or some force, whether human or otherwise, holding them down. They have been unjustly harmed and they feel like their options have become very limited. Understandably, they have no sense of humor about this stuff. They’re not playing. They need help and they need it yesterday.

My recommendation is that if you are one of those people in need, do not waste your time on someone surrounded by a lot of slick e-commerce because that’s where all the energy is going. Instead, look for three qualities in a worker: (1) reasonable rates; (2) professionalism (i.e. scheduling, doing a small diagnostic reading in the beginning, providing updates, not seeming money hungry, ethical); and (3) doing more than just protecting and curating their brand / internet presence. It’s important to keep these things in mind if you want to avoid throwing your time, money, and emotion away on someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

 

 

* I actually love Wicca. I’m not putting it down. I’m putting down those who cynically use it to hook customers in support of a superficial brand.

I’d like to feature this blog post from Ray “Dr. Hawk” Hess.  I’ve enjoyed his book, Backwoods Shamanism, quite a bit and think he makes a lot of sense here when he’s talking about the idea of paying for spiritual services.  Obviously, I agree with his conclusions, but sometimes it’s good to present a perspective that comes from a different voice with different experiences.  To that end, I suggest you click on this link and see what he has to say: https://doctorhawk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/on-monetary-compensation-for-spiritual.html

I also highly recommend his book, which can be purchased here: http://a.co/9gb6JU3

 

Source: On Monetary Compensation for Spiritual Services…

Recommended Spiritual Worker: Madame Pamita

I’m been enjoying Madame Pamita’s insights and comments for a long time.  She’s great.

I like to recommend magical colleagues who I think are particularly talented, smart, and / or skilled.  I am approached by more clients than I can take.  And so, rather than being competitive (a negative characteristic of many public occultists, especially conjure workers), I try to serve the Art by bringing people together.

Love Magic

 

I have a theory about love magic: most people don’t know how to work it because they don’t know what love is.  In the occult world, you generally hear two things about it: “it’s hideously dangerous—avoid it at all costs” or “this is how to do it.”  Some public magicians won’t do that kind of work no matter how much money they’re offered.  Others specialize in it.  Why do such extremes exist?  The answer may be that people go to extremes in love and magic because they’re not making informed decisions about how to feel and what to want.

In my opinion, unconditional romantic love is very rare—the kind that wants a partner to be happy with no strings attached at all.  Most romance has strings: I want X to be happy as long as X makes me happy; I want to make X happy as long as X signs a paper that legally commits X to serving my physical and emotional needs for the rest of his/her natural life; I want X to be happy as long as X wants what I want; I want X to be happy as long as my friends approve of X; I want X to be happy as long as X is making a certain amount and we’re living in a certain place, etc.

Is it love when a client comes to me and says, “I need to get my ex back”?  And I say, “Okay, we can look into that.  How long has it been since your ex left?”  And s/he responds, “15 months.”

15 months?!

You’ve been sitting at home, stewing, sweating, fuming, calling, analyzing, suffering, worrying, and regretting for 15 months?  And now that you’re desperate enough, you come to me and ask for magical help?  Why didn’t you come to me after 3 weeks?  Ah, it must be because you had to get desperate enough that you were willing to hope that magic wasn’t all fakery and BS.  Should I—someone who does this as a professional—feel insulted?  Probably.

Instead, I ask the inevitable follow-up question: “Have you spoken with your ex at all in these 15 months?”

“No.  But I know s/he still loves me and can’t live without me.  S/he just has to realize it.”

Uh-huh.  Righto.  S/he just has to realize it.  

There is a simple diagnosis for your situation: you are deluding yourself.  I know it sounds harsh.  It sounds like I am heartless, but that is not true.  My heart goes out to all those people so confused that they don’t know why they’re feeling what they’re feeling or how to fix things.

The real answer, the difficult yet honest truth, is that someone wasting away for an ex has many strings attached to their concept of happiness and love.  They are operating on an “only then will I be happy” model: only when s/he comes back to me will I be happy.  Only when I get my way will I be happy.  They rarely consider the other person’s happiness.  Unconditional love never enters into it.

But I’m not passing moral judgment on anybody.  Sometimes, bringing an ex back is the best thing to do because the ex doesn’t know what s/he is doing, either!  This is why I do a tarot reading every time.  You’ll tell me that your baby daddy vanished after you got pregnant and even though he’s now living with Lana and Donna in the Bahamas, you know he really secretly wants to move back into your broke-down basement apartment in Queens and support you in your time of need.  And you might be correct, as improbable as that may seem on the surface.  Maybe he just needs some time and space to figure things out.  I make no assumptions.  And the cards will tell me the truth every time.

So when the cards indicate that it would be a good thing to do love magic, reconciliation magic, or lust magic, I have no problem with that.  And I cannot say categorically that it’s good or it’s bad without looking at the particular situation.  I’ve brought all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances together and back together.  And it always makes me happy when I can help them work out their differences (and satisfy those “only then” requirements).

When witches (usually inexperienced Wiccans, but I hesitate to generalize) conclude that love magic is 100% harmful and interferes with the will of those involved, I gently point out that it doesn’t always have to be that way.  Love magic is like any other kind of magic—neutral in its morality.  Like a gun, a scalpel, or a law, it’s a tool.  In the hands of a hurtful or stupid person, it’s an evil tool.  In the hands of someone skilled, it can save lives.