Monday, 18 April 2011

Myrrh, Frankincense and Pirate Gold

A review of the Day of the Magi.

Something has changed. A tangible sense of community is being felt with every new event, and Day of the Magi continued that momentum. Rather than a magickal scene riven and divided into cliques and petty politics, everything is entering into a molten state where we are united by what we share. The false tribal divisions of the past are being put aside as a new magic is articulated. As Jake Stratton-Kent points out, we are in the process of a magical revival in the West. So when we talk of a new magic here, and of the magical revolution, we are not entering into another post-modern collage, neither whimsy nor sci-fi, rather we are honestly acknowledging both what we have, and what we have lost.

We were fortunate to have Stephen Skinner lecture, as there is no doubt that Stephen is the most important magician that we have in our community, whose unstinting work in manuscript research and publication is of the utmost importance to all of us. We acknowledge our very public debt of gratitude to him and the work that he has gifted us with. The work being produced through Golden Hoard is essential if we are to understand where our magic has come from, and the personal commitment Stephen has made to unearthing this is staggering. We do not envy him the task of deciphering Dee’s handwriting and restoring order to the drenched, misbound, shuffled folios, of arguing with Russian officials to let him see Solomonic books, of keeping his pledges.

Stephen spoke on the grimoire roots of Enochian magic, and the apocalyptic context of Dee and the Angelic transmissions. This is an important counterpoint to the idea that Dee’s work sprung from nowhere. This echoed many of the ideas I put forward in my essay Seeing Through Apocalypse in XVI. Stephen traced the entire history of magic through European history and, like Jake Stratton-Kent, emphaised the importance of Greek magic rather than the modern over emphasis of Cabbalah. He spoke of the steps of conjuration, of the shyness of spirits, of lost fay gates, of chinese sorcery and more.  It was a tour de force.

There is certainly a difference of style between Jake, piratical and punkish, and Stephen’s measured confidence. But both these eminent magicians are telling the same story: There is gold in them thar grimoires...
photo credit: Mrs Midian

However, they emphasise different points; Jake as a necromancer is furious on behalf of the dead. That the dead have been excised from our tradition must be rectified, and Jake speaks here for the people of the cemetery as few people do. Jake stands at the crossroads of both ancient Greece and the modern African diaspora religions. Stephen has plunged into the library stacks of Europe and the operative magical cultures of the Far East. Both give us much to consider as we stand at our own crossroads, understand what paths we are on and which we must take.  

We are not starting with a blank slate to scrawl on, we are not engaged in self-help psychology or NLP. We are the inheritors of a long-standing spirit tradition, but one of broken transmissions. The excitement of our time is that we have the available material to ressurect Western magic, and with the connections being made at these gatherings, this is exactly what is happening. We spoke with witches, wiccans, pagans, druids, members of the Golden Dawn, IOT, OTO, ceremonial magicians and cunning folk not in the language of cult speak, but as individuals learning from each other.

We must also mention Mike Slater who spoke on Bristolian legends of exorcism, poltergeists, demonologists and cunning folk. Charlotte Rodgers explored some of the sanguine themes of her latest Mandrake book, The Bloody Sacrifice. David Cypher on Franz Bardon’s spagyrics and what sounded a lot like proto-chaos magic. Most of all our thanks to the organisers (special mention for Michelle Newitt and Phil Cunningham) and all who attended both locally and from across England and Wales who made the event what it was and what our magic is becoming.
We will further be hosting a Scarlet Imprint happening on Saturday August 20 in Brighton, more details to follow and we hope to see many of you there to continue this fertile dialogue.

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