How to Fail in Magic

The following is a guest post from Pylon member Nachtriesander.

Love spell

Photo by Happy Krissy

When I first discovered the occult, I was a kid in junior high living in a small, podunk town outside of Houston. The idea that magic was real and something that a person could use to enrich their existence, was compelling to a weird youngster like myself; the world suddenly seemed much more interesting and full of promise.

A lot of that early “magical wisdom” was ridiculous in hindsight – a common type of quick buck, 1970’s self-help sorcery, and goofy Wiccan tomes for hippies and collectors of quartz. Over the next few years, most of the people I encountered who were interested in magic were those types of occultniks – advocates of dancing nude in forests to honor Mother Nature, and quick to warn others not to dabble with Black Magic, lest they suffer the dire consequences of some silly three-fold law of karma. I endured a lot of admonishments and Wiccan stink eye on my way to the Crowley section in Houston’s occult book stores back then.

One thing a lot of those folks seemed to have in common was a tendency to blame external forces for any aspects of their lives with which they were unhappy. I get it, we all encounter adversity from time to time, but dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances should inspire a skilled Black Magician to change the things that are causing them consternation. There’s nothing wrong with doing magic to push things towards a more satisfying outcome, but I’ve also encountered lots of occultists who seem to feel like the reason their life isn’t satisfying is because of some enormous external obstacle that is unfairly keeping them down.

For instance, I’ve encountered male Magicians who seem to believe that their lives would be better if it weren’t for feminists. They’ll squeak and squeal about “misandry” and other injustices pushed upon men such as themselves by evil feminists, never once considering that their problem might be because they’re simply creepy to women.

Or perhaps they’ve been though some unsatisfying experiences with the opposite sex. Back in the 1990’s, a woman I’d been dating broke up with me because her guru had told her I was a “Dark Lord” (along with Madonna. We were both fallen angels, according to the guru).

It’s a tough world out there, and things don’t always work out when you’re in league with The Devil and Madonna. But experiences like that didn’t make me blame feminists or women for my bad romantic stumbles, and it seems to me that a Black Magician who allows that kind of thing to make them bitter and resentful isn’t really a very skilled Magician.


Photo by wendEwho! Thompson

I’ve also seen plenty of occultists who use the same sort of magical fixes over and over. For example, I’ve met people who’ll use magic to attract a romantic partner, but their relationships inevitably crash and burn. After everything has gone belly up, they’ll angrily curse their exiting lover, and then start the whole process over again, using magic to attract a new one. Rinse, and repeat. It’s a bad pattern to fall into, and anyone who’s known a magician like this has probably experienced that person’s psychic vampirism, too – they seem to go hand in hand.

The thing magicians like this have in common is the inability to look inward, to find what’s not working in their lives, and to use Black Magic effectively to change the pattern of failure they continue to fall into, and no amount of naked forest dancing and crystals is going to fix those things. Self-Work can, however.

Do What Thou Wilt, Y’all: Austin’s Crowley Connection

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One of Austin’s lesser-known attractions is the extensive collection of Aleister Crowley manuscripts, documents, and personal papers housed at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center.

I recently asked Setnakt to share the strange tale of how a large chunk of The Great Beast’s archives found their way to Austin.

In 1917, Professor Lindsey Keasbey approached Aleister Crowley to discuss Thelema, socialism and Texas.  The professor was a low-ranking member of the AA and he had a vision.  One – world peace through socialism.  Two – world enlightenment through Thelema, and Three – the University of Texas as a world culture center.  It would of course have Crowley’s manuscript copy of the Book of the Law. The First Beast was delighted.  It was his True Will that Austin, Texas should be the great home of Thelema.  There was the small matter of moving up a grade.  Keasbey seems to have objected to the sexual nature of the rites and fled the Beast’s presence.  Where would the Manuscript wind up?
In 1919, Crowley left the MSS and other papers with Frater Achad in the “Paris of America”  — Detroit, and headed home for England.  Frater Achad invented a Kabbalistic version of the LHP wherein humans traveled down the path of Manifestation.  He sent Uncle Al his notes on this and Uncle Al asked him to mail the Book of the Law back, quickly.  Frater Achad went to the storage warehouse and — they had lost it!!
Crowley cried “Theft!” and broke with his magical son.  Frater Jones spoke no more of his Left Path leanings until Uttering his Word MAnifestatION in 1948, a few days before James A. Lewis was born.
Then in 1960, a box with several early twentieth century documents was found in a storage warehouse in Detroit.  The Harry Ransom Center was buying stuff for their Yeats collection and snapped it up.  It had several Crowley rarities — including the magical jorunals  that became _Vision and thr Voice_ and  _Book of the Law_.   Therefore the University of Texas became a center of Thelema.  
It is of course the alma mater of Dr. Stephen Flowers, who in 4 Heard the word Runa and began his search for the word in the books of the infamous clocktower — eventually developing that word into the law REYN TIL RUNA!, which by rune-tally is equal to 93.  The University of Texas was also the alma mater of Don Webb,  and even gave the name Bull of Ombos to Adept Flowers and Setain Wade, when they researched Set in Te Velde’s book.  Of this I can say no more save mention the cryptic Latin inscription in the first issuse of the pylon newletter, the _Vox Tauri_ “Bevo Bata est!”
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Black Magic and BBQ


Photo by Marc Majcher

First of all, if you eat meat, and have never had the opportunity to try Texas style BBQ, I feel sorry for you. It’s good stuff – delicious brisket, beef ribs, German style sausages, and other meats, seasoned and then smoked to tender perfection. Sauce is secondary, and not even needed or desired by a lot of folks. Serve it all on a sheet of butcher paper with pickles, onions, and white bread, and you’re good to go. BBQ has a culture, and various regions are locked in an endless battle over who does it best. (I’ll save you the trouble of trial and error. Texas does it best).

But can BBQ also be of value to a Black Magician? Perhaps that seems unlikely to some of those reading this, but as an Evil Wizard who also has studied BBQ and its culture extensively, I assure you that an astute student of the Left Hand Path can indeed learn a few things from Texas BBQ.

A large part of successfully performing magic is being able to control one’s Subjective Universe – the Black Magician’s ability to shape his or her inner world and apply their Will to create change in the Objective Universe. Go to just about any BBQ joint in Texas, and you are stepping into a carefully cultivated environment. This is especially obvious if the place is not particularly old. Much of BBQ culture is based around “authenticity” and the length of time a BBQ practitioner has been at their craft. In most parts of the country there are a few venerable restaurants that have been in business for generations. It’s immediately obvious upon walking into one of those culinary time machines that they’re the real deal, and that the ambiance developed naturally with little effort spent to look “authentic.”

When a Black Magician walks into such an environment, they should take note of the subjective bubble they’ve entered. Like the ritual chamber, some of these temples to BBQ are protected from outside influences. The successful Black Magician’s ritual chamber is a highly charged environment where they are in complete control; when one walks into a good BBQ joint, they are immediately under the influence of someone else’s a carefully created subjective environment. Black Magicians must learn to interact within subjective spaces created by others, and a local BBQ joint is as good a place as any to do just that.

Next, let’s look at Franklin BBQ. It’s probably the most nationally famous BBQ joint in Austin at the moment, despite having only been around a few years. It seems to make every top 10 “Best of BBQ” list around, and I don’t doubt it’s good. But “best”? I wouldn’t know first hand, as I’ve avoided the place. Why? How can a self-professed Evil BBQ Wizard (EBW) such as myself not have eaten at Franklin? Well, the thing is…it’s also famous for having an hours-long line, and is only open until it runs out of food.

One magical principle I’ve learned as both a Black Magician and an EBW, is that one should only allow themselves to submit to subjective manipulation if they want to. We all filter out the obvious stuff; the constant white noise static of TV ads and spam emails, irritating energy-sucking people we have to deal with at work, or other kinds of time-wasting crap that we don’t want to allow in. How does this relate to one of the supposed best BBQ joints in America?

Well, I know the truth of the matter. There’s bad BBQ, and there’s a lot of average to good BBQ…and there are a few consistently great places. However, once you enter that “good to great” level, most people can’t tell much difference in the food. When someone tells me that the best BBQ in town requires waiting in line for two hours, hoping they don’t run out of anything, I start to question whether the food is that great, or if smoked shoe leather would taste transcendent after waiting forever, while talking to others in line about how amazing the meal will be. Creating that sort of rewarding subjective environment is both masterful marketing and a form of Lesser Black Magic. It’s fine to allow oneself to enjoy that kind of experience, but a Black Magician should be aware that’s what they’re doing. Me? I’ll go to any one of several other local places I know of where the line isn’t so formidable and the food is great.

I invite others to become Evil BBQ Wizards. But be wary and mindful. There are lessons to learn, and they can be applied to our own magical operations.


Photo by Robb1e