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  • Recollections: IX – Fire Mountain

    Although there are many more experiences I could relay through this blog, this will be the final account I’ll be recalling here. I find them unpleasant to recall and even difficult to believe as I go through them, querying whether they could have really happened because they seem so utterly absurd and hard to quantify rationally. But they did happen, and the recollections I’ve provided here are as close to what happened as any subjective eyewitness accounts of events that are difficult to quantify ever can be. What I’ve revealed should give enough material for those looking for accounts of what kind of rabbit holes occult practices can lead down when it comes to pure experience. What they lead to in terms of more regular human behaviour are nothing to be proud of either. My life during that period was a tale of sin of every kind that I don’t want to confess in full here, but I will say that drug and alcohol abuse, pride, and anger featured heavily alongside adultery, fornication, envy, boastfulness, idolatry, bearing false witness and, of course, sorcery.

    Whereas most of the accounts I’ve recalled here have mostly been about small scale events or my own bodily sensations and thoughts, this final one is far more broad and serious in scope, though what it ultimately points to is not actually the great malicious power being unleashed it first seems to be, but to the detestful and deceitful nature of demonic entities.

    This experience involved myself and two other participants working with the element of Fire in a ritual utilising the Enochian system of magic. Enochian magic has its origins in the work of the Elizabethan magicians John Dee and Edward Kelley, but was largely appropriated and reinvented by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th Century. Dee and Kelley never used the designation ‘Enochian’ when referring to their system of ‘angelic’ communication, nor did they link it to the tarot, kabbalah, astrology, or the four elements, which were all added as an attempt to artificially create a Grand Unified Theory of magic by the Golden Dawn. The reasons given for it being called ‘Enochian’ is often to do with the angelic connections of the prophet Enoch who was taken bodily into heaven by the Lord, and then, by tradition, assumed the angelic identity of Metatron. Perhaps closer to the spiritual truth however is the fact that, according to 1 Enoch, the fallen angels that came to Earth to commit fornication with human women brought, among other things, the art of sorcery to men. to be ‘Enochian’ therefore, would in reality refer to being a fruit of the accursed gifts of of the fallen angels described by the pseudepigraphical Books of Enoch.

    While the dubious credentials of self-destructive wizards from the Elizabethan and Victorian eras may make their magical works seem less credible, they do not, however, make the systems of magic they invented or amended any less dangerous. If anything, the spirit of deception and fraud that surrounds tricksters like Edward Kelley and pseudo-enlightened, quasi-Masonic societies like the Golden Dawn and (most especially) Crowley’s nefarious offshoots, make the deceptive spiritual forces they evoke and interact with in blind ignorance even more dangerous. 

    *

    The strangeness with this particular rite began when the third and final member of the ritual team arrived. Having placed his phone down on the table after being let into the premises, all three of us witnessed his phone leap onto the floor untouched. Its owner turned to us and said “Oh, it’s going to be one of those kinds of days is it?”

    After this abrupt start, the ritual was conducted in the usual way, and concluded with a group sharing of the experiences each of us had encountered during the visionary part of the rite. Our results were incredibly similar. My own vision featured a fiery demon locked in a cage that was surrounded by a great darkness. He informed me that his nature was that of the ignition of fires and likened himself to the point of contact between a flame and its source. He promised to let me know more of his nature if I would let him out from a cage he had been locked in, which I agreed to do if he would lend me his spiritual and magical knowledge when required to, and if it promised to cause no harm to anyone. I could tell by its demeanour and the fact that it was locked up that it was a dangerous, chaotic and angry entity, so I let him know that he was bound to his promise of doing no harm and would be punished if he didn’t stick to its side of the bargain. Ominously, as soon as I loosed it from its cage, it let out a malicious laugh and fled somewhere I felt to be far away to the south. My associates’ visions did not feature this being, but in turn featured:

    1) A vision of a volcano erupting in somewhere that ‘resembled South America,’ and;
    2) A vision of a village covered in ash with a mountainous backdrop behind it. 

    We noted the similarities between our visions with curiosity, but couldn’t come up with any particular meaning about what any of it could mean at that moment in time. Just a few hours later however, I saw an item on the news that made my blood run cold. Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala had just erupted. Naturally, our instant reactions were ‘what have we done?’ And as the casualty count rose, my own feelings of guilt about it grew worse. Logically, I couldn’t believe that the eruption had anything to do with me and my decision to let a pyromaniacal demon out of its box, but with three people having strongly interconnected visions during a ritual, the possibility – in magical terms at least – seemed plausible.  

    Although the idea that we were responsible for a volcanic eruption with a large death toll would be a terrible burden to bear, thinking about it rationally, it wasn’t actually possible. Seismologists warned that the volcano was due to erupt eight hours beforehand, but the entity I let loose from its prison was freed about 5 and a half hours before the eruption, so the beginning of the detectable seismic activity couldn’t have been due to that spirit being let loose. The spirit may, however, have known what was about to happen and relayed information of it to us about it and wanted to be released so it could either be there or make us falsely feel responsible for something we didn’t do.

    Receiving this information did indeed have the result of putting us (me especially) in the position of feeling responsible for what happened. This was something I struggled with for some time both while I was still practicing magic and long after I gave up the occult. But I have since found peace since being reassured that I was firstly, forgiven for anything and everything I had ever done wrong when receiving Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, and secondly, the victim of a demonic deceit that sought to gauge my empathic response to being responsible for the death of many people. Had I not cared about that, I would have been deeply lost. But the sense of guilt and empathy I had at the thought of being potentially responsible for such a thing assured me that my essential goodness and humanity was still intact.

    The natural goodness of God, which we all bear, remained within me, but the forces I was tangling with were increasingly revealing themselves to be far from His light. By testing too hard and too clumsily however, those forces began to lose their grip on me that day, and it was the response of goodness in me that started to reject their evil. 

    From then on I more so started to see that the classic ideas of the spirits contacted in New Age and occult practices really were the malign demons that Christianity describes instead of the independent spirits and deities of either good, neutral, evil or indifferent natures espoused by today’s new religious movements. I began to doubt the commonly held ideas that demons/gods were not evil beings, because more and more evidence was mounting up that the spirits I was ‘working with’ were of a foul and deceptive nature and never inspired anything good, beneficial, healthy or wholesome. They generated nothing but negativity, numbness and an inflated ego, and their reek was that of damnation and death. 

    Once the nature of the deceits I’d believed was exposed, the game was as good as up for the beings and beliefs that had held me in their grip for so long. From the latter half of 2018 to 2020 my spiritual path moved further into Tantra and other Eastern forms of spiritual practice and further away from traditional Western Occultism, though for the majority of that time I was mingling the two together in a concoction that was still far removed from the truth of God. How I ultimately came to be saved is a story for another time, and although it is one that is far from finished, it’s one that I’m keen to tell because it’s message of hope and goodness is beyond compare. If someone with a spiritual background as depraved as mine was can be plucked out of darkness through no merit of my own, but from the oure grace of God, then there is hope for absolutely anyone.

    With that said, I’ll close this series of accounts with a prayer.

    Heavenly Father, who looks after all of our needs whether or not we know or sense it, we are grateful to You for the gifts of grace You offer to all those who sin against You. No deed is so dark that it cannot be dissolved by the light You shed upon it, and no sin is so grievous that You cannot wipe clean its stain. Remembering that, let us pray for those entrapped in the snares of the Enemy, whose power lies in falsehood and fear. Let his prisoners see with new eyes and hear with new ears as their hearts open up to your Spirit which offers them, through your Son, Jesus Christ, the freedom of a new birth in a new world. Free of their shackles, may they repent of their evil ways and forever leave behind the deceits of the old flesh, corrupted as it was by the Powers and Principalities who reign over this fallen world until such time as you come again in glory.
    Amen.

  • Recollections: VIII – Night Possessions

    As recalled in an earlier post, the first experiences I had with evil spirits came in my early to mid teens and involved manifestations such as bed shaking, tapping on pipes and leaving the residues of terrible smells. These are common means by which spirits harass us, and can lead to more serious incidents like oppression and possession. I didn’t become party to a classic case of possession at that time, though hindsight has revealed that the phenomenon of oppression has been a real and terrible factor throughout my life. 

    Much later than those early encounters, in the zenith of my occult practices, I had two experiences that could be construed as demonic possession, though they were mercifully brief and limited.

    The first came during a time when my partner at the time (who was also a practitioner of magic) told me that she kept seeing a shadowy, male figure appearing in our flat who was acting like he was trying to avoid being seen. We would be watching television or having an unrelated conversation when, all of a sudden, she would stop, appear alarmed, and say “I just saw him again.” She had been extremely sensitive to such things since early childhood, and was known among family members for passing unsettling messages from the recently deceased when she was very young. On one occasion, when she was at the same age I was when I had my first experiences with the demonic, she and a friend saw a black, shimmering shape appearing in her bedroom. On hearing their screams, her father and brother rushed into the room to see what was going on and stated to me years later when we were discussing the event, that they had both seen the entity shimmering there while the two girls were screaming at it. I’m sure that this level of manifestation, with multiple witnesses who all swear what they saw was utterly real, are quite rare. However, in the presence of a particularly strong conduit – as my ex partner certainly seemed to be – such activities can strongly increase in frequency. This, ultimately, was what I believed to have happened when I was in that relationship. I had a strong proclivity towards magic through the forces of spiritual darkness that had seeped into my life, while my ex had the same tendencies but was also a strong amplifier for such things; probably due to a mixture of naturally sensitive (or ‘psychic’) traits and her extreme childhood traumas. 

    This recipe, then – like the whole relationship – would prove to be spiritually and psychologically disastrous. 

    The possession incident came in the same period of time where she had been seeing the shadowy, reclusive figure darting about our abode. Due to problems with sleep apnea, she had an app installed on her phone which, in the morning, would inform her of any abnormal breathing or wakefulness during the night so that a pattern of poor restfulness could be accounted for. To do this, the app would briefly record any noises made in the night. This also proved to be a handy piece of technology for recording events of possession. 

    On the night in question, while asleep, I had apparently woken up and spoken to my ex in an extremely threatening way, prompting her to be fiercely angry with me in the morning though I initially had no idea what the matter was. She told me briefly what had occurred then, remembering the app, navigated to a period in the dead of night with lots of noise activity on it ready to play back what I had said to her. 

    My blood ran cold on hearing what was recorded on there. A voice, clearly from my vocal cords but also profoundly unlike my own, proclaimed with pure malice words to the effect of, “I know you can see me, and if you ever look at me again I’m going to f**king kill you!” The voice was deeper than my own and phrased in what sounded like an antiquated London accent, which is not an accent I have. While saying this, I had apparently sat bolt upright and looked right at her while saying this before going back to sleep again. 

    Considering the context of being ‘seen,’ this message seemed to be one that was delivered to her by possessing me to deliver it. It also seemed to work as she never saw that particular manifestation again. 

    *

    The second occasion I believed I was possessed was less externally dramatic but, to me, a lot more real.

    For some time prior to it happening, I’d been hearing the voices of what sounded like women of African origin while on the cusp of sleep. While I was practising magic and heavily into meditative techniques, I would frequently hear disjointed voices at times when my brain was ‘soft.’ These included voices, laughter, bells ringing, and other types of unusual sounds, which are anecdotally reported to be a signs of being close to the ‘astral’ realm with one’s consciousness. I don’t know the real mechanism for this phenomena is – whether it is psychological, spiritual, chemical, hormonal, etc. – but I do know that it was something I experienced very frequently when I was into occultism and happens extremely rarely since I banished from my life. This makes me think that whatever the reason was for having such experiences, it was extremely likely to have been prompted by my practices.

    Considering that, it’s also interesting to note that my extra-sensitive ex once again played a role in my being able to make some sense out of what occurred in this situation. When I informed her that I kept on hearing the voices of African women on the edge of sleep all the time, her response was to tell me that she had once awoken in the middle of the night to see a naked black woman straddled on top of me as if trying to engage me in sexual activity in my sleep. As these were uninvited encounters, I grew concerned and wary, and resolved to take measures of magical protection to try and mitigate some of these effects. 

    The voices continued to come until, one night, they reached a peak. I don’t remember the exact words spoken, but I heard the same African woman’s voice in my thoughts(which was often preceded by hearing snippets of the song ‘I Hear You Knocking’), and noted that she was trying – seductively but sometimes in a clinging and desperate way – to persuade me to let her enter me. In traditions of African origin such as Vodoun, this is known as riding, and is a very common ritual experience, but in my case it was not attached to any ritual and was not invited. Her pleading to enter or ‘ride’ me was intense and aggressive and culminated in the sensation of her presence no longer feeling like it was outside of my mind and body, but was somehow inside of me. There was no real physical aspect to this, just a change of perspective in which it felt like the presence was suddenly coming from inside of my thoughts. On noticing that shift, I felt a stiff panic that turned to an inner shout for assistance. In response to it, I imagined, but at the same time clearly saw, a figure appearing at the far side of the room. It was cloaked in black and had a face that couldn’t be seen. It rushed over to where I was lying and, as it arrived at my side, I felt its hand strike me on the top of the head as it gave a verbal command for the female spirit to leave me. While the blow wasn’t painful in the physical sense, I felt a jolt in my being that made me shake to my core. With the blow I felt a cry come from the female spirit that had entered me as the black clad being (I assumed it to be a guardian spirit, but I can’t verify whether it was demonic or angelic in nature) forcefully cast it out. 

    After the blow, the sensation and voice that I was aware of stopped, and despite feeling jolted, I managed to sleep. For the next few weeks however, I was physically unwell. It felt like that blow from the black clad spirit had damaged my life force in some way: like the innate energy that some name ‘kundalini’ had been disrupted. I became demonstrably anxious, with strong pains and muscle cramps in my neck, and I felt like I was carrying around more ‘electrical energy’ than my body could handle. I even found myself at the doctors surgery to get relief, though I obviously couldn’t tell her the whole story about what I had experienced or I’d probably have left the surgery in a strait jacket. I was prescribed a four week course of amitriptyline for my symptoms, which – assisting with anxiety related, nervous and muscular issues – proved effective enough to get rid of the effects of the blow.  

    Although this whole affair all happened on the edge of sleep when my brain was in a more pliable state, I am pretty clear about what I saw and experienced. I’m also very sure that the vast bulk of humanity would find this – and most of the other accounts I’ve recalled here – laughably unbelievable. I get that, and won’t even plead for anyone to believe me. I know, however, that the people who need to read these accounts most will at least partially believe what I’m saying, especially if they’ve had similar experiences themselves. Again, the presence of my ex-partner, who informed me she had seen a black woman on top of me while I was asleep on a previous occasion, provides some helpful verification to me that I can hold on to in hindsight; otherwise the temptation for me to disbelieve my own account would be present.

    Witnesses are important in accounts like these, which is why many of them relate to occasions where there is some kind of evidence or secondary presence I can mention that reassures me that, despite the irrational, awful and incredible nature of the things I’ve described, they were real events.

    *

    The mention of Kundalini energy in these accounts provides another important reference point. The amplification of the body’s electrical current using yogic means are a mystery that have been explored scientifically, but never explained in a really satisfying way. What is known though, both medically and psycho-spiritually, is that it has the ability to cause symptoms of a similar nature to psychosis. Although I was always able to observe what was going on quite rationally when I had these experiences, the crazy nature of so much of it could, feasibly, be a form of Kundalini psychosis. Meditation experiences I’ve had add credibility to this, as I would often hear voices or the sound of horses galloping past while raising the kundalini through meditation. But at the same time, that doesn’t quite wash when there are events that have been witnessed by others, or when I started speaking with an evil voice in the middle of the night when I was fast asleep.

    Experientially, I have to conclude that these happenings were caused by a mixture of altered states of consciousness and the influences of spiritual beings (who in turn inspired further altered states of consciousness). This is the part where I lose the agreement of the bulk of rational humanity, but to those who are convinced in the realities of such things through their own senses and experiences and wish to be free of their burden, there are accounts here that will hopefully make sense and add some context to the broader picture of our spiritual reality and the spiritual forces of darkness mentioned in Ephesians 6:12.

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

  • Recollections: VII – The Cosmic Knife

    This is yet another example where I should have fled from my involvement in the occult but didn’t. A sensible explanation I recently discovered that accounts for why I was unable to detach myself from my spiralling descent came from Gerry Breshears‘ obvious but welcome statement in his series of lectures on Spiritual Warfare. He rightly concluded that involvement in the demonic is progressively more difficult to withdraw from the further into you its hooks get. So, like someone with a ravaging drug addiction, getting into a perilous state doesn’t necessarily translate into getting out of it as a matter of choice. Interventions need to be made for assistance to come and ultimately, with the occult, the poisoned barbs under the skin can’t just be tugged out. Looking at it this way further reinforces the necessity for me to lay my experiences out for those who might be descending the same dark stairway that I did. 

    *

    For several months prior to the ritual on which this event occurred, I had been evoking the Elemental Kings or ‘Princes of Hell,’ whose higher position in the infernal hierarchy made their complicity essential for obtaining the full obedience of the lower spirits in that hierarchy. The particular King I favoured invoking was chosen because the spirit who answered my earlier call to act as my guide and patron (see V: The Doctor here) was, by my calculations, under his command. This series of rituals were performed at my altar – a monstrosity of blood, bones, gravestone parts, specific metals and gems, elemental weapons, black candles and other things demons find delightful – and had the aim of harnessing the favour and power of that King. This favour was revealed over a series of visions received during meditative rituals in which the requirements to gain his presence were gradually set out over about six weeks and centred around the creation of a bespoke incense concocted of unusual and difficult to obtain ingredients that would be given as an offering. 

    When the night of the ritual arrived, I made my final preparations, beginning after midnight with the Moon in the appropriate astrological position, and started the procedure. The incense I’d created, which I had been sworn to secrecy about by the spirit and was only ever to be used when offered to him alone, had an evocative scent that created a unique and unusual atmosphere in the room. The spirit’s presence came very quickly in response to it and was beyond the boundaries of anything I’d experienced before. 

    He came as a vision in the ‘astral’ rather than as a physical presence of some sort, but the experience was no less intense for that. In a state of meditation before my altar, with the room thick with the fume of his exotic but foul incense, I saw him appear as a vast giant. Only his left arm was visible, with the rest of his body being too huge to see due to my proximity to him. His flesh was pale blue in colour, like an Indian god, and behind him were countless stars which I perceived I had been taken away to. In his hand was a vast knife, the handle of which his fist was grasped around tightly. When I saw the knife I became completely paralysed, being completely unable to move and with my heart beating at what felt like 200 beats per minute. The pain in my chest as my heart raced was intense as I felt like what I thought was an extreme panic attack in my paralysed state as I watched the blade of the enormous ‘cosmic knife’ thrusting towards the centre of my chest. 

    In the height of this experience, which felt to me like the early stages of death, I was suddenly brought around – and ultimately saved, I believe – by the sound of my ex-partner screaming at me. She had been fast asleep in bed when the ritual began, but now she was awake and yelling at me: “Whatever you’re doing, stop it NOW!”

    I was shaken out of my paralysed and panic-stricken state by her screams and, in a state of extreme fear and numbness, swung around towards her to see what the problem was, the confusion I felt at her screams adding to the horror of what I was experiencing. I remember stuttering some fear-filled exclamation as I demanded to know what had scared her so much.

    She explained that she’d had a terrible dream and, on waking, had smelled the scent of death filling the room. On rising to see what the cause was, she had a vision of me ‘covered in blood’ as I sat before my altar. She also said that I appeared ‘huge’ in size, like I was filling the whole room with my body. Hearing this from her deepened my fear, as it provided a verification that what I had experienced was not an imagined encounter or a deep state of hypnosis, but something which had a verifiable presence. Although I can’t quantify the exact reason for it, her seeing me as huge in size and filling the room correlated with the stature of the spirit I had encountered. Clearer than that though was her vision of me covered in blood in a moment where my ‘astral body’ (maybe it was this that was inflated in size) was about to be pierced by an enormous blade.

    The reasoning applied here is based on conjecture rather than real knowledge, but my opinion is that, through her intervention (which I now believe was really an intervention from God), I was saved from something terrible. I am also reminded, as I write this, that some of the senior spirits in the grimoires are said to kill the magician if he makes an error in some way (such as facing the wrong direction) when he calls on them. Perhaps this was the fate that had been in store for me. With my paralysis and painful, elevated heart rate, the physical circumstances were certainly in place to have given me a tangible, medical cause of death had the attack on me been permitted by God. 

    While the fear from this encounter made me hesitant to call upon the more powerful spirits again, I was still far too invested in the occult and magical practices to quit. They formed a major part of my identity and were the foundation of my relationship, my social life and my spiritual practices, so giving it up would be akin to giving up my whole life. From my current perspective, Jesus provides a very important insight into this situation.

    “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

    Matthew 16:25, NIV

    Occultism, to me, was something I held on to for purely selfish purposes. I had a naturally strong spiritual drive, but through foolishness and ignorance had allowed it to become perverted. I sought God desperately in my heart, but by preferring to form my own spiritual path in which I pulled the strings according to my whims by using magic, that desire was corrupted by the Enemy. This is the prime factor in my falling into these practices, and in milder forms (yet no less dangerous, spiritually) the exact same principles apply to anyone enticed into New Age and occult spirituality.

    My silent yearning for God had been snatched away because I was blinded by the dark fascinations of the devil from an early age and spent much of my life with a soul that was a hotly disputed spiritual battleground. The influences that made this so were numerous, and in hindsight I can tell what they were by what I now have an utter repulsion towards: extreme metal music, horror movies, TV and films that glorify violence, pornography, crass comedy, the favouring of limitless sexual liberation, insulting language and behaviour, and an attitude of disrespect towards God.

    *

    But, going back to the times when I was still under heavy demonic influence, promising myself that I wouldn’t return to this particular spirit again was a shallow hope. Over time, with my experience of that spirit often returning to my thoughts, I found myself caving in to the obsessive curiosity that I’m now sure was down to his influence, and opened myself up to communication with him again. 

    The resulting ritual led to an experience that was not as terrifying as the first, but still featured strong signs of the presence of spirits. According to one of his grimoire descriptions, the demon I was evoking comes ‘with a great noise’ when he appears, and what I heard during his conjuration was the sound of heavy footsteps and a bestial, grunting sound coming from behind me. Although nothing was seen of him this time, I received knowledge that two subservient spirits would be communicating with me on his behalf. The information they imparted from their chief, who is also described as imparting the teaching of various magical arts, related to an unusual method of divination that I will not describe here, but would use two certain materials as a means of receiving animated visions of spirits that, when focussed on, could be communicated with to receive answers to questions. Testing this new method proved fruitful and, some time later, on conversing about it with a friend who had decades of experience with Tibetan Buddhism, I discovered that the exact technique was used in that tradition as a means of communication and divination. 

    Following this, and finding satisfaction that I had apparently won this initially aggressive spirit over, I conducted no more experiments with it, though I was still some way from putting my occult practices behind me. Again, this reveals that the nature of demonic entanglement – like drug addiction – is extremely difficult to remove yourself from without aid. And being a problem with an exclusively spiritual root, the only real way out of it comes from an intervention from God.

    Luckily, such interventions can come with prayer, which is infinitely superior to magic.  

  • Recollections: IV-VI

    Visions and Apparitions

    From the unusual teenage experiences I had of my bed shaking through to the various encounters I had as a ceremonial magician, I’ve never been able to say that I was completely convinced that the weird things that happened were entirely explainable as being of spiritual or demonic origin. Such doubts are completely normal and are hardwired into our natural state because we are rationalising creatures that tend to slip into states of disbelief and denial when something palpably bad or wrong is happening to us. “This can’t be happening to me” and “did that really happen, or did I imagine it?” are both natural reflexes to things that are out of the range of our normal everyday experiences. Because this mechanism is such a heavily conditioned aspect of our psyches, it’s virtually guaranteed that if we should ever experience something that we knowshould be completely impossible, this denial will manifest in our conscious reactions in an even more pronounced way than when it would when faced with a ‘normal’ irregularity.

    It’s for reasons like these that I find it a necessary act of catharsis to look back at some of these unlikely and uncanny events here and share my thoughts on them with the realisation that for far too long I had mistaken stumbling around in the dark for spiritual enlightenment. While my own sense of disbelief in my experiences hasn’t entirely gone away, I know that what I will write here about my experiences of witnessing spirit beings conjured to physical manifestation is as truthful as it can be. How you choose to view them will probably depend on your own conditioning, prejudices, and personal experiences (or lack thereof), but from my own viewpoint—whatever the objective explanation may be—these subjective accounts are, once again, presented truly and accurately.

    IV: Forest Rite

    In a rite which involved me and four other experienced magicians evoking several spirits in an area of woodland, a few unusual things occurred.

    Shortly after laying out food offerings to a spirit who is known to appear in the form of a dog, two actual dogs, out for a walk with their surprised and rather embarrassed owner, ran into the centre of our ritual space and greedily devoured the offerings before quickly making off.

    After drumming and chanting to build up the desired energy, one of the ritual’s celebrants had a vomiting fit. Then, after the invocations were completed, a nearby tree gave up resisting gravity and, to our great astonishment, fell crashing to the ground. While not in the grimoire description of any of the spirits we invoked, some renaissance and medieval compendiums name spirits who can cause harm or damage to trees or to the earth, so this was an outcome consistent with the sort of evocation we were practicing.

    Shortly after the tree fell, I saw two white-robed figures circumambulating around the grove of trees we were working in. I was unable to make out their features in any detail other than they had light coloured skin and hair. Another of the celebrants later stated that he had also seen them but gave no other details that could help me identify what or who they were. While walking home after the rite was completed, another of the persons who had been present suddenly stopped and stared at something that caught her attention down a nearby lane. As I stopped to see what she was looking at, another white robed figure (or maybe one I’d already seen reappearing) walked directly across my field of vision and went through a gateway into a graveyard.

    V: The Doctor

    This is another of the events that had a profound effect upon me and contemplating it now, I again wonder why I didn’t abandon magical practices altogether after experiencing it. I guess it was that heady satanic mixture of hubris, stupidity, and ignorance that, in my vanity, I so often mistook for bravery, power and knowledge.  

    Having always been foolhardy, I had decided upon evoking all 72 of the spirits of the Lemegeton at once while using a method of divination to ascertain which one of them would take the role as my spiritual mentor who I would seek to both serve and learn from.

    Having surrounded myself with the talismanic seals of each of the spirits, I performed a long and complex evocation of my own devising and asked which of the spirits wished to come forward and be my guide. After doing this, a glass of red wine that I’d put to one side to present as an offering got knocked over by one of my knees as I uncrossed my legs, and the flow of wine that poured out pooled around one of the seals without making any contact whatsoever with any of the others. This, I decided, was how the spirit who wished to step forward wished to make itself known to me. That begun a two-year long series of magical experiments with that spirit, some of which will be examined in later entries here.

    Later that night I had a very powerful experience. I dreamed that I was surrounded by a host of spirits who were as real and solid in their appearance as any human. At the front of this throng was a man of Egyptian or Nubian appearance, being black African with a tall ‘pharaoh’ haircut that sloped backwards. He looked no older than about 25 years old and was dressed in ancient, well-crafted garb that was blue and gold in colour. The landscape we were present in was also very Egyptian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean, with bare rocks, cliffs, wilderness, and blue skies all around. Then I realised I had been bound to a stone altar, as if for sacrifice, and was completely unable to move. Then the altar platform began to move, as if it were a cart, as the spirits conspired to take me away somewhere. In a state of panic, I formed thoughts that demanded to know where I was being taken and what they planned to do to me. The man in blue and gold, who was clearly their leader, responded by saying “there is something wrong with your blood, we need to take you to the doctor.” This response, which seemed to be a deceitful attempt to make me compliant and unafraid, scared me even more as I interpreted this to mean that it was my blood which they were interested in. The years of experimentation with the spirit who had earlier answered my call proved this suspicion to be true, as the demands for blood—which I gave from my own body or by offerings of raw meat—was a common demand.

    I was startled awake from this attempt to drag me away to the ‘doctor’ (who I perceived to be a ‘chief spirit’) in a state of terror but found things to be even worse on waking than they had been when I was asleep. The spirits from the ‘dream’ were all still present when I opened my eyes. They had clustered around me in my small flat, with the black man dressed in blue and gold still standing at the front. As my eyes opened, I saw his hand slowly reaching forward towards my face. My instant response to this was to cry out in fear and start kicking at him repeatedly with my left leg. After three or four swings of my leg, which didn’t connect with anything physical, the spirits all vanished, and I felt the trauma of the experience already giving away to the usual desperate attempt to somehow explain it away.

    *

    My first rationalising thoughts were that I had suffered very strong hallucinations during a state of sleep paralysis. On waking, however, my body was not in a state of paralysis as I was frantically kicking out at the main figure at the front and could still see him in a very solid-looking form while my leg was kicking out at him.

    The experience of being taken somewhere that I instinctively knew was very bad and potentially inescapable reminded me of a previous experience I recalled here (III: (Don’t) Drag Me to Hell) in which a shadowy black figure tried to convince me to go to its abode while I was having an out of body experience brought on by a powerful hit of Salvia. And, of course, the timing of this ‘dream’—coming on the same day that I’d performed a major ritual with a very pertinent result—is not an easy fact to ignore.

    While I never encountered the man in blue and gold again, several months later I had another experience of this kind. I had dreamed something vivid, although I can no longer recall it involved. But on waking, I saw what looked like a little black imp crouching next to my bed and grinning at me. It disappeared a second or two later, and I also had the sense that several other spirits fled from the room a moment earlier. What didn’t disappear straight away were the black and white checkerboard markings that had covered the floors and parts of the walls of my flat. I looked at these strange patterns for a handful of seconds until they, too, faded away. It was well known to me at the time that checkerboard markings on the floor are of significance in occult and masonic temples, so I would guess that their appearance confirmed that these ‘visions’ were the results of doing frequent ritual magic.  

    VI: The Cackling Hag

    The final event I’ll recall for the time being was one of the least detailed but, to me, one of the most chilling. While engaged in the complex ‘astral’ practice of the Thelemic version of an ancient Greek exorcism now commonly known as the Bornless Rite, I heard a loud, evil female cackle coming from what sounded like the space just outside my flat’s front door. Although that seemed to be where the sound came from physically, what was unusual about it was the fact that there was a reverberating echo around the laugh that made it sound like it was simultaneously coming from that location and the inside my own head at the same time. Rationality would naturally categorise this experience as an aural hallucination, but to me it was utterly real.

    Although hearing evil laughter only happened once during this rite, this sort of occurrence— where something dark or unusual was heard in a meditative state or on the edge of sleep—was very common when I used to practice magic. Now, however, with magic gladly consigned to my past, it no longer happens. The ritual practice I mentioned here was designed to be practiced several times a day over a long period of time and so as time went on the effects of its practice naturally increased. On one occasion, while practicing it outdoors and reaching quite a deep trance state as my mind navigated the complex instructions, the person present with me stated that she saw a blue and gold light, like an aura, moving around my head. Considering the blue and gold colouring of the robes of the dark-skinned man who appeared in ‘The Doctor’ episode recalled above, this was a potential manifestation of the same (or same kind of) spirit present while performing this astral work.

    *

    Whether you opt for a rational explanation or not, there are clearly some kind of notable disturbances to the psyche when certain magical, astral, or meditative techniques are employed. Even if they can be explained as having a purely psychological nature, the reality remains that they can have very real and damaging effects on the practitioner. My conviction, however, is that while there are undeniable physiological and psychological elements at play, there are also a highly dangerous hierarchy of malicious and predatory spiritual beings whose interactions with us can provoke increasingly extreme or isolating states of mind that they can use to manipulate and prey upon us in ways that are designed to pull us further away from God, our loved ones, our functionality, and our sanity. In other words, as the episodes relating to ‘The Doctor’ and the experience I had when mixing ritual magic with powerful hallucinogens seem to confirm, the intent of these spirits is to drag us away to the infernal realm. Despite their false promises and our own perceptions of their reality, they have no other motivations than this. So, if you are engaged in any kind of activity with such spirits or entities, no matter how minor that activity may seem, please try and follow the deepest instincts of your heart when it comes to wisdom and discernment. While they can touch your mind in many ways, their ability to corrupt our hearts is far more limited.

    As a superior alternative to magical practice—and of far greater power—there is prayer, which, when repeated and performed with determination, is a highly effective remedy to demonic corruption. When selfless and focussed on connecting the utmost centre of our beings with God, prayer brings us closer to Him, closer to each other, closer to a healthy and satisfying existence, and closer to the attainment of treasures that make the fruits of magic and the promises of Satan’s minions look utterly worthless.

  • Recollections: I-III

    To help demonstrate why the occult has a very dangerous reality behind it that makes it something that shouldn’t be messed with, the next few posts will give practical examples of occasions where it proved itself sinister. Like some of the experiences I wrote about in my autobiographical posts, these events recalled will sound implausible to cynics, but convincing people who aren’t likely to get involved in such things to believe what I’m saying isn’t my purpose. I promise, however, that what you’ll read here and in future are all true accounts of inexplicable, uncanny, and often frightening occurrences that happened during or after the practice of magical rites.   

    *

    The first three events all happened within the same two-month time span and took place in the early stages of a continuing series of rites I performed involving the evocation of some of the spirits of the Ars Goetia, from the Key of Solomon. I won’t name the spirits I worked with or describe the actions I performed, but I will provide accounts of the things I heard, saw, witnessed, and sometimes said.

    The first account represents the first time I conjured a spirit to visible appearance, the second recalls one of the most unusual experiences I ever had, and the third gives details of something that was so terrifying it should have put me off such practices for life but somehow didn’t. 

    I: Green Fire

    While summoning a spirit who is described in the grimoires as a wolf that breathes fire, I saw what appeared to be the form of a wolf inside my scrying device. There’s nothing too unusual about that because this is often how those things happen – you think you see something unusual and you think you hear an echoing voice in the corners of your mind, but nothing concrete occurs so you’re not quite sure if anything has happened.

    But this time was different. After seeing the shadowy wolf-figure in the receptacle, a green flame spouted from the top of it that, apart from its hue, looked as real as any fire I’ve ever seen. There was no doubt about its appearance, and it was nothing like the usual tricks of the mind. I couldn’t confirm if the fire emanated from where the wolf’s mouth or not, this manifestation was consistent with the description of the spirit in the text. 

    The nature of this evocation reminded me of the encounter that the Elizabethan magician John Dee supposedly had with a spirit who leapt out of his scrying glass and proceeded to dance around the room. Although my experience wasn’t as dramatic as that, it was the first time I had witnessed something appearing that could be described as a physical rather than a merely ‘mental’ manifestation. 

    II: Funeral March

    This evocation concluded with a command for me to leave the rite unfinished so I could receive communications from the spirit about its nature via the means it preferred to communicate through which, according to the text, could be through animal sounds such as ‘the barking of dogs and the lowing of cattle.’ After hearing some owls later that night, I went to bed disappointed that there was nothing in their hooting that could be seen as a message about the spirit’s nature.

    That all changed early the next morning when I awoke with a very active mind that was full of dreams, voices, and visions. Paying heed to this state of mind, I began to communicate with the source of those thoughts, and it seemed to communicate back with me. I therefore assumed that I was now getting the communications I had been promised, but again couldn’t distinguish whether there was anything ‘real’ about this communication, or whether it was just more mental trickery. Those doubts were soon put aside by a sequence of bizarre events that culminated in a way that was beyond purely subjective experience. 

    The first thing to happen was the sense of a question forming in my mind from what I perceived to be the spirit: 

    Spirit: “What are those things you fly through the skies in called?

    Me: “Aeroplanes?”

    Then the image of an aeroplane flying through a blue sky formed in my mind, followed by an image of the clock my deceased grandmother used to have on her mantelpiece which was permanently stuck at 3:01. Putting the two images together the words ‘Flight 301’ were formed in my mind which was followed by a strong compulsion to look that term up on Google. The first result related to the Wikipedia page for Birgenair Flight 301 in which 189 people were killed after a wasps nest that had been built in one of its engines caused it to crash. 

    Me: “Are you telling me that your nature is to kill people through the manipulation of animals?”

    Spirit: “Yes.”

    Now, if that wasn’t strange enough, here’s where the real oddity occurred. After the spirit confirmed its vile and deadly nature, my neighbour’s dog began barking excitedly. In a tune. Each bark was tonally and rhythmically a melody that, a few notes in, I recognised as Chopin’s Funeral March. A couple of notes before the end of the eleven-note refrain that most people would recognise it by, I thought: ‘no that’s crazy, this can’t be happening. If he stops barking now, or if what he barks next aren’t the two notes that would complete the melody then I’ll know this is all just a stupid coincidence.’

    But the next two barks that came from him were indeed the correct two notes, and the tune was complete.

    My skin still rushes to gooseflesh when I think about this. The spirit communicated to me in visions that it instigated the death of humans by manipulating animals and then seemed to confirm it through inspiring my neighbour’s dog to bark a funeral march. And, of course, in the grimoires that spirit is said to communicate through, amongst other things, the barking of dogs.

    It’s the evidence in cases like this that convince me that I’m not talking utter gibberish but really have experienced crazy things rather than just had crazy thoughts. This kind of experience is even more verifiable when, as parts of my Spiritual Autobiography will already attest, there are frequent and consistent examples of magic actually working and demonic entities appearing to have an agency in the world that can’t be written off as coincidental or imaginary. This is why, even with my tendency to be rational most of the time, my experiences have caused me to firmly believe in the existence of the entities that I so foolishly demanded the attention of in the interest of experimentation and attaining peak experiences.

    III: (Don’t) Drag Me To Hell

    Bearing the last sentence of the previous section in mind, it’s obvious that I should have left ritual magic completely behind me after this next account, which was a very disturbing experience indeed. Yet I didn’t give it up. In fact, I continued for many more years and had some experiences which were almost as bad, or possibly even worse, than this one. 

    This time, the spirit I conjured was one who, among other things, has knowledge of herbs and trees. Like in the last encounter, I was after first-hand knowledge of the spirit’s character and abilities so that’s what I asked it for. Nothing appeared to happen right the way throughout the rite, but just as I was starting to conclude it, a strong mental voice communicated words to the effect of “If you want to know more about me use the stuff on the shelf behind you.”

    The ’stuff on the shelf’ turned out to be a pack of old Salvia Divinorum that I’d forgotten about. Now, if you’re thinking mixing hallucinogens with ritual magic is a bit stupid, then you’re entirely correct. But that sort of common sense was far away from me in the days that I was so eager for spiritual adventure. I sure learned my lesson from this one, but not enough to deter me from magic in all the ways that I should have been. Once again, despite the fact it should be easy to write this experience off as drug-induced daftness, there are strange correlations with reality in what occurred that stop me from being able to say that what I experienced was purely hallucinatory. 

    In the first few seconds after taking a heavy, hot hit of the Salvia, nothing happened. From experience, however, I knew that this is usually the sign that reality is about to get completely bent out of shape. As soon as that thought came and went, I became aware that there were suddenly two women sitting next to me who were talking about my failure to recognise that the herb was working. “He thinks nothing’s happening” said the older woman to the younger, who remained silent. “Shall we show him?” she continued. Then the world disappeared completely. 

    The experience I had happened entirely out of body. My physical form no longer existed in any way, and I was in a place of total darkness. Visible in that void was a blue and yellow hexagram, which I later interpreted to be the ‘presence’ of the Salvia plant, as it has blue and yellow star-shaped flowers. Next to the hexagram, was an image of me as a toddler. I was dead, and next to me on the floor was a smashed bottle of Tomato Ketchup that spilled out over the floor like blood. An ironic factor here is that, at a similar age, I had been rushed to hospital and resuscitated after a severe febrile convulsion which led to me not breathing for thirty minutes, so to some extent I physically ‘died’ at the age that I was now being shown an image of my dead body from. Then a male voice told me that I really had died when I was that age and that everything I had experienced in my ‘life’ ever since was a fabrication. I had never lived. I had been dead for a very long time, and everything I thought I knew about my existence was a lie. 

    As this series of facts was explained to me by the presence, I felt that the void I was in was highly familiar and that I had been there before. It was, in fact, the ultimate reality, and my real life was no longer a thing that had happened. Life had been an idea that lasted as long as the blink of an eye. I could remember nothing of who I was, what my name had been, or anything else about my existence. All that was real was the void, and there was no awareness there that it could be the effect of a drug causing these things because my state of mind, while completely detached from my bodily existent, was very sober.

    It was in this state of terrifying clarity that I felt the male presence I had heard earlier coming out of a doorway in the void that somehow seemed to lead to an even deeper darkness. He came from somewhere else than the void, which now only felt like a temporary holding place, like a lobby. Where he came from, the sound of chains could be heard in the distance, and as he moved closer to me I felt that those chains were also wrapped around his body and tethered him to the deeper void he had just exited from. I didn’t see him at any stage but I had the impression that he was clothed in a black robe and that his face was veiled in total darkness. 

    Then he spoke to me again, taunting me for having never existed, saying that this was the only reality I had ever known and that I should now go with him to the place of darkness he had come from, which he called his ‘domain.’ I resisted this compulsion with all my will, as I had a deep sense that if I went with him, I would never be able to escape. Such was my terror at this stage, that the out of body element of the vision broke its hold. Suddenly I was back in my house and running out of the ritual room in complete terror. In a state of terrible confusion, I ran back into the room again and tried to gain control of my senses. In these moments, I perceived that the real world I had just re-entered was still only an illusion. The interior of my house seemed to exist at the end of a dark tunnel that I hadn’t completely exited yet. Its light was dimmed, and it seemed artificial, as if it was made of a ‘false fabric.’ 

    As the minutes passed, I became more grounded and started to realise that I had been alive the whole time. I did exist. I did have a life. My memories were returning, and the sense that I had a physical body was coming with it. Then sound and light returned, the dark tunnel was gone, and I could hear a child screaming in the street outside. That was a jarring experience after returning from such a waking nightmare and made the whole experience feel even more hellish. I opened the curtains and let the sunlight flood over my face and felt the last scraps of delusion falling away from me. The screaming child I had heard was just a noisy girl playing on her bike.  

    I looked around the room and was surprised by what I saw. I had knocked over many of the magical accoutrements in the room, including a censer with live coals on it that had fallen onto the carpet. This made the possibility of death very real, as a fire could easily have started if I hadn’t come back to normal consciousness when I did. Not only that, but I also had a cut on my head, probably due to my body thrashing around in terror while my consciousness was completely absent from it. It’s impossible to know exactly what happened, but I think I might have been banging my head against the wall to try and bring myself back to reality. Ironically, along with the fire hazard, this was another thing that could have caused my death if I had managed to knock myself out while a fire was starting. Had I died, it could have been completely possible that I would have been trapped in that dreadful netherworld forever. I thought that just as strongly then – when I didn’t even believe in hell – as I do now as a Christian who is convinced of its existence. 

    The final oddness in all this was that, during such rituals, the magician is supposed to wear a certain emblem at the bottom of their robe. I had attached this emblem in the correct way, but during my horrible experience in that void, I had somehow torn it free and threw it away. As before with my banging my head against the wall, I have no memory of doing this action which, in the discipline of ceremonial magic, would have put me at great risk of attack from the spirit. These destructive things I did when I was ‘out of my body’ seem, in retrospect, to be actions that the spirit influenced my physical body to carry out to cause me harm and potentially kill me while I was under it and the drug’s power. All thanks and praise to God for not permitting that to happen. 

    The experience of mixing Salvia Divinorum with a work of Goetia was incredibly foolhardy. For the first time in my life, smoking Salvia had caused my consciousness to become entirely detached from my body, and, while in that state, that consciousness was informed that it had never been attached to a body at all and that it was to accompany the malevolent presence that was addressing it to his domain and never return. Simultaneously, the danger of physical harm and death were very real at the time because of the loss of bodily control I experienced, and the usual safeguarding measures the ritualist employs when communicating with spirits had been sabotaged. 

    The initial voice I heard that suggested I smoke the salvia had promised that it would show me it’s true nature if I did what it advised. I think it was true to its word when it said that, though what it said while showing itself to me was all lies and deceit. 

    Despite the terror I experienced, it felt like the compulsion to go to the spirit’s domain with it was one I ultimately had control over. I rejected the request and so managed to escape, albeit in a rather chaotic way. 

    *

    While recalling this event, I found my attention drawn to accounts of traumatic near-death experiences. It seems that encountering a void where one has the feeling, or hears a malignant suggestion, that they’ve never existed is an attested one by many who have come close to death and suffered negative out of body experiences.

    According to IANDS, some distressing near-death experiences take the form of

    “an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void.  Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed.”

    And according to Nancy Evans Bush and Bruce Greyson there are also accounts of Void NDE’s which are described as 

    “an ontological encounter with a perceived vast emptiness, often a devastating scenario of aloneness, isolation, sometimes annihilation. A woman in childbirth found herself abruptly flying over the hospital and into deep, empty space. A group of circular entities informed her she never existed, that she had been allowed to imagine her life but it was a joke; she was not real. She argued with facts about her life and descriptions of Earth. “No,” they said, “none of that had ever been real; this is all there was.” She was left alone in space.”

    I’d never classed my encounter with a demonic entity through the lens of ritual magic and Salvia Divinorum as an NDE before because I didn’t get there by coming close to death. However, it’s similarity to certain negative NDEs now make me realise that this experience had a close kinship with them. 

    *

    Looking back at these events now, I can scarcely believe that they happened. But, without a shadow of a doubt, they did, and I have relayed them here as accurately as possible. These events, like the others I will write about in the future, will seem outlandish to most, but they will not seem that way for established occultists. So, I ask any magical practitioners who have taken the time to contemplate the following questions, which in retrospect I wish I’d asked myself back then:

    1. What’s your true motivation for performing these works? 
    2. Do you think there could be any negative long-term consequences? If not, why not?
    3. Deep down, what do you think the ‘entities’ you’ve worked with really are? 
    4. Why is it a good idea to continue doing ritual magic if you’ve had negative experiences with it?
    5. What do you think you’ll ultimately gain from performing these kinds of works?
  • Spiritual Autobiography: Part VII

    My conversion was more like a gradual emotional pull towards Jesus than a sudden and dramatic experience. As mentioned previously, an innate pull towards Jesus was something I’ve been aware of since childhood, but my feelings about him always seemed to oscillate between respect and disdain. Even as an occultist I accepted the idea that Christ was a relevant symbolic figure who could be understood as a personification of Tiphereth in the Qabalah, which stands for love, beauty, the intellect, and the means for man to recognise his relationship with God. But this kind of lukewarm respect isn’t enough once the truth about his nature becomes realised.

    I sympathised then – and still do now to some extent – with people who express doubts about how Christianity, as an organised religion, is prone to manipulation and abuse by people with self-centred or power-based objectives. But regardless of the many faults that sinful and error-prone humans have disgraced themselves with by committing them in the name of Jesus throughout history, seeing Him as one spiritual option among many just isn’t good enough. Once the realisation that he isn’t a semi-mythologised demigod but the very incarnation of God Himself, whose life and actions were witnessed first-hand by those who would later give their lives to attest to the truth of His message, erroneous beliefs about His nature can’t be returned to.

    Ironically, but unsurprisingly given my history, my own realisation about the truth of His nature began after re-reading the heretical Gnostic Gospels. While I’d had a long-standing interest in them, something about them now seemed flat and wrong when I returned to them. When reading the Gospel of Phillip, for instance, which presents phrases supposedly uttered by Jesus, I now only found the sayings that also appeared in the true Gospels to have any real resonance with me. The more outlandish sayings seemed anachronistic (being based in Valentinian ideas that came over a hundred years after Jesus’s ministry) and too contradictory with the genuine Gospels to be anything but false doctrine. Even though I wanted them to be genuine so that my wider mystical beliefs, such as non-dualism, could be verified I started to feel dissatisfied with them and felt inspired to read the true Gospels again. On doing that, I felt warmhearted emotions towards Jesus and his words growing daily into what can only be described as love.

    Naturally, my interest in the Gnostic Gospels faded and my respect for the true Gospels grew. After a month or so, I realised that I was ‘more or less a Christian,’ so made a proclamation in prayer that I accepted the words and existence of Jesus as real and true and would try my best to live in obedience to them. This proclamation of faith became the moment of justification for me and marked the moment where I was no longer ‘maybe’ a follower of Christ but was now ‘definitely’ one. Since then – nine months later at the time of writing – my experiences have proved that my faith and the divine grace that resulted from it have truly saved me.

    Despite the inconstancies of the past, I know with certainty that I’ve been redeemed and that I won’t fall away from God again. The evidence of His hand and presence in my life has become a matter of fact for me and can be sensed in a sense of a growing relationship with Christ; in my genuine repentance and the resulting differences in my thoughts, life, priorities, and behaviour; in the answering of my prayers in a way that makes magic look totally flimsy; and in the faithful perception that I’ve truly received grace, and forgiveness for my sins.

    In my years of chasing spiritual rainbows, I’ve never experienced anything as real and life affirming as coming to Jesus. I truly thank God for that, and sincerely hope that others who are lost in the same senseless darkness that I once was come to experience the confidence, hope, and joy that only a relationship with God through Christ can bring.

  • Spiritual Autobiography: Part VI

    My involvement with a dedicated sub-group of OTO members who took the performance of ritual magic seriously led to me heavily throwing myself into a tight and steep learning curve in order to catch up with their high standards. Being passionately obsessed about it, it didn’t take too long before I was able to perform roles in complex Golden Dawn rituals, and I also made strong efforts to become proficient in Tarot, Astrology, the Qaballah, Planetary Magic, Enochian Magic and, most significantly, the branch of Solomonic Magic commonly called Goetia. I had a passing familiarity with that form of magic during my time with the ToS but hadn’t practiced it with any real seriousness until 2015 when I performed an ongoing series of rites that were practiced with regularity for four years. After that, along with performing dozens of other rites in the fields of Thelema, Planetary Magic, Quimbanda, New Orleans Hoodoo, Tantra, and another six OTO initiations, I could call myself an accomplished ritualist.

    By 2020, this phase was largely over. Since the previous year my focus had shifted towards the non-dualist traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and Kashmir Shaivism, which led to a less occult-based approach spirituality, though there was still plenty of scope for a magical view of the world in the form of Tantric Magic including mantras and yantras, and plenty of scope for danger in the practice of Kundalini Yoga. The manipulation of Kundalini energy was something I first practiced while a member of the ToS between 2004 and 2007, and something I later practiced with intensity while I was a Thelemite. Some of the physical effects I experienced when manipulating the prana, or life force, using pranayama, asanas, and mudras, were very unusual. They included: experiencing visions; hearing strange noises and voices; rigidity of the spine and torso; the feeling of something trying to lift you up off the ground; feelings of being ‘possessed’ by an alien energy, including the forced adoption of bodily positions (mudras) and spontaneous dancing. They also included a greater perception of synchronicity between internal thoughts and wishes and external events, which is one of the core elements of magical experiences that rely upon the assistance of demonic energies. While that is perilous enough, a more tangible danger of experiencing these kinds of effects is the risk of Kundalini psychosis, in which the natural electrical energies that flow like a soft current through our nervous systems are whipped up into a lightning storm that has the potential to unleash devastating damage to the practitioner’s mental and physical health.

    The more Eastern, non-dualist approach I adopted around this time led to a lessening in interest in ceremonial magic, and my occult practices were reduced to the divinatory use of tarot, astrology, and the runes, and the occasional bit of magic that involved reciting the psalms with magical intent. Eventually, I started to work with a guide in a Buddhist tradition that was dedicated into helping us to realise that our concept of Self was nothing more than an illusion, which I subsequently experienced to be true. But once I had experienced that state, I didn’t see a lack of God’s Being in the Universe, as some of the Atheistic doctrines of Buddhism suggest, but an endless abundance of it. What I saw as the flow of existence was not simply ‘Being’ as I had been instructed to see it but was evidence of the natural rhythms of God’s creative expression which Shaivism terms Spanda.

    And so, my natural inclinations towards God – as seen historically in my passing in and out of phases of praise and defiance of Him, and as seen more recently in my interest in Shaivism and my appeals to Him through the psalms – left me more open to Him than I previously was, but not yet inclined towards accepting Jesus as my saviour, which is the only way to truly experience the truth and fullness of God’s presence. That wouldn’t come until 2021.

  • Spiritual Autobiography: Part V

    I fell away from Catholicism rather suddenly. Despite attending Mass regularly and having a good relationship with the clergy, I never felt like I really belonged there. More importantly, I found the cycle of analysing, avoiding, remedying, and distinguishing between mortal and venial sins to be an unhealthy process dominated by compulsion and guilt. In turn, this made me rebel against the idea that damnation was something you had to constantly ward off by legalistic obedience and partaking in the Sacraments.

    Despite the problems I faced as a convert, it would still be wrong for me to say that the idiosyncrasies of Catholic theology were entirely to blame for my failures. I ultimately failed because I was trying to perfect myself through my own efforts which was a major error. I didn’t grasp and had never had it pointed out to me that there was any alternative to this cycle of failure and self-blame. If I’d been able to admit my inability to attain a life that met God’s standards, and that simply trusting in God was enough to receive redemption from Him, then I might not have slipped away from my budding faith. But the way I perceived things back then, my efforts were always going to be doomed to failure. Had I understood that I couldn’t possibly rely on myself to correct my fallen nature and could only achieve salvation through God’s Grace then things might have been very different.

    In the years of spiritual inactivity that followed my falling away from Catholicism, I found myself moving into a very physical mode of being, where endurance running and weight training were used as methods of mortification and meditation and made the pursuit of spirituality almost redundant. I also passed the time by writing, and spent a year or so creating a fantasy novel. It wasn’t very good. However, the process of writing was revelatory and allowed me to express my dormant spirituality into something tangible. Once it was complete, I noticed that, through the creative act of writing, my unconscious mind had inexplicably expressed parallels with Hermeticism, Enochian Magic and Aleister Crowley’s philosophy of Thelema. This was strange, because I hadn’t given such things any thought since leaving the ToS seven years earlier. Why it seemed to be coming out during the writing process was a complete mystery to me, so, being a seeker by nature, I decided to investigate further.

    And that’s how I fell back into occultism.

    Within a few months I’d re-ingested large bulks of Thelemic texts that I hadn’t read for a long time and managed to gain sponsorship for Initiation from two members of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Later that year, I was received into the degree of Minerval and had started on a journey into what would turn out to be a vastly transformative but vastly destructive period in my life. It was during this time that I would become a serious practitioner of ceremonial magic which, through its effects, led to drastic and chaotic life changes that would scythe their way through my existence like a tornado of rusty knives.

  • Spiritual Autobiography: Part IV

    My first wave of interest in the occult peaked when I attended University. With access to the Internet for the first time, I quickly discovered the websites of organisations like the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set. I don’t recall the thoughts that prompted me to search AOL for those terms all that time ago, but I guess it was a straight continuation of my earlier interest which had now been bolstered by the 90s Black Metal scene, which, like so many other people I know who are into the occult, I was a huge fan of. Despite these dark interests never quite going away, due to my becoming contaminated by prolonged exposure to behaviourism and logical positivism during my higher education, I was inflicted by a more materialistic outlook which stymied my desire to join occult organisations for another few years.

    After getting such mental obstacles out of the way and making progress towards settling down, I found myself drawn to magic again. This came after I moved into my own home and became the sole master of my domain for the first time, though, like the promptings that led me to look into the occult in University, I can’t quite trace those thoughts to a clear root either. After months of reading pirated pdfs, debating on online forums, and dabbling in the occasional clumsy ritual, I became a member of the Temple of Set, whose openly theistic approach was more appealing to me than the Church of Satan’s atheistic veneer. My membership there was relatively short at three years, but the foundations of magical practice that were laid there would dominate my life for a large part of the next two decades.

    The kind of practices I involved myself with while I was a ToS Initiate were mostly based in the apotheotic Great Work that they termed Xeper. This activity could cover any ritual or theurgical magical practice so long as it purported to enhance the process of Coming into Being. At its core, the form of ‘self-deification’ posited by the ToS centres around the persona and mythos of the Egyptian god Set who, as the ‘principle of isolate consciousness’ and oppositional force to the status quo, was seen as the first culturally recognisable form of Satan. Ergo, his oppositional and individualistic essence – that of being a force against natural and cultural norms, and God – was held as a model for emulation. The theory here was that the perennial pursuit of the state of Coming into Being would enable sufficiently advanced initiates to become isolated, conscious Intelligences at the hour of their deaths, and then, having achieved such ‘divine’ states, they would become liberated from the laws of the Universe, God and every other conscious being in existence. Essentially, the Ipsissimi who achieved such a state through the advanced state of their consciousness (titled ‘the Black Flame’ and ‘the gift of Set’), would be eternally aware of their consciousness, yet would not be absorbed into the bliss of the Kingdom of God, as they would be in Christianity, nor would thy bt reduced to a state of Non-Being, as they would be in Buddhism. This state of eternal awareness, isolation and separation is remarkably akin to that of eternal damnation in Christian theology, with the only real difference being the twisted verbiage that makes it sound like a glorious achievement of the intellect.

    Unsurprisingly, the sin of Pride was that which Setian Initiation was most geared towards. Titles such as ‘Elect’ were used to instil a sense of separateness and superiority to its ‘Nobles’ who, unlike the common hordes, were masters of theurgy destined for godhood. In my own case, this led to the development of a revolting sense of hubris that drove a wedge of arrogance between myself and those who were not ‘Elect.’ Tendencies such as this suggest that what is really being encouraged by occult practices centred on theurgy and apotheosis is a form of crassly disguised ego worship. The irony being that the ego, which is often cited as the thing to be destroyed, negated or mastered in occultism, actually ends up being hyper-inflated by these beliefs and practices. Considering that Satan, Set, Lucifer, or whatever else you name him is heralded as the personification of selfhood, individuality, non-conformity and doing whatever it is that thou wilt in these religions and philosophies, the resulting worship of the Self above all else by those who emulate him as a model isn’t much of a surprise.

    The end of my time in the ToS came after myself and a few others afoul of an ingrained power dynamic that was being used to protect an individual who, by his own admission, had indulged in illegal and abusive behaviour against other initiates. This isn’t the time or place to go into details, but the level of disgust I felt was enough for me to resign. Despite its Satanic nature, I actually moved further away from overt Satanism after spending a few years in the ToS, as what I was doing there no longer felt at all ‘Satanic’ in my opinion, and I was perfectly happy to let that label go as it was starting to feel very juvenile to still be calling myself a Satanist at the age of 30.

    I concurred with their worldview that Satanic terminology was nothing more than an unnecessary by-product of Christianity, so, like them, I came to reject it. In the ToS, Christian titles like ‘Satan’ were replaced by those of pagan deities who represented the principle of Coming into Being or the enhancement of human consciousness in some way. The role of the Serpent as the giver of individuality and forbidden knowledge in Genesis was predictably correlated with the name ‘Set’ in the Egyptian religion, but also that of ‘Prometheus’ in the Greek pantheon, and ‘Odin’ in Northern paganism. It was the latter of these names that piqued my interest the most, and this interest was developed to a more advanced form after I joined the Rune Gild.

    The Rune Gild shared many philosophical similarities to the ToS, largely due them both having a the prominent senior Initiate Dr. Stephen Flowers, aka Edred Thorsson, in common. As well as helping me to become proficient in Runic Magic and Divination, the Gild also led to me developing the viewpoint that Tradition was the most sacred principle of Western Spirituality. Due to the desacralizing influence of commercial culture, mainstream Christianity, and human ignorance that tradition had been reduced to a thin trickle, but thanks to neo-paganism, niche academia and dodgy right-wing fringe groups, it had apparently survived into the modern age.

    What happened to me after picking up a Traditionalist worldview was highly unexpected. After reading books about the Christianisation of the Germanic tribes, I saw the syncretism of paganism and a northward bound Christianity as the representation of a ‘true’ tradition that still survived from the dark ages and beyond. There was no need to put my lot in with small Initiatory societies anymore, because the largest religious organisation in the world – the Roman Catholic Church – had carried the torch of Traditionalism for two millennia, and, despite having had a very dim view of Christianity up to that point, I began to see it as a potential bastion of truth. Its continued survival since apostolic times was proof to me that the best possible way to connect myself with the real religious traditions of my ancestors was to become a Catholic. So, in a shock move, I made a genuine decision to give up occultism, and even took the confirmation name of ‘Michael’ as a symbol of my decision to leave the works of the false god Satan behind me. At that point in time, the attempt would prove short lived and it would be many years until I would experience a genuine conversion of the heart that would entirely transform the patterns of my life.

    I now see my flight to Catholicism as one that happened for all the wrong reasons. While I came to adopt a certain genuineness in my religiosity, in retrospect I can see that my conversion was an intellectual vanity that was guided not by the love of Christ but by the idolisation of Tradition. For those reasons, this phase only lasted a couple of years before I became apostate and took up a largely Gnostic spirituality. As I’ll soon reveal, this worldview and its modern counterparts would become a dominant factor in my path for the next decade.

  • The Eighth Circle

    Although a significant proportion of my recollections from my occult practices deal with objective and subjective accounts of magic, the reality of the effects of sorcery isn’t even the most salient point of discussion. The devil’s work is really done when we allow hatred, fear, and a lack of compassion to rule us. Regardless of whether those early curses and spells really worked or not, thinking about them now makes me feel ashamed of how I allowed myself to get so carried away by sorrow, fear and a desire for vengeance. I sincerely hope that the terrible things that happened after those curses were uttered were nothing to do with me and that their effects were just horrible coincidences because in ‘real life’ I would never have chosen to cause that kind of harm to people.

    While I may never be able to truly discern whether the kind of ‘sorcery’ I’ve mentioned in my autobiographical accounts so far are frighteningly real or just a great big hoax, I’ve noted enough coincidences between cause and effect to say that, if it isn’t real, then the impression of reality it instils can be very convincing.

    This is another reason why the occult is so dangerous. Any uncertainty about what is or is not ‘real’ can shake the foundations of your sanity, and many people who are interested in magic either enter or depart from its domain very damaged, mentally. That’s not surprising really. There are many things that I experienced – some of which I will recall in future accounts – that are terrifying to think about and, if objectively real, have massive implications for modern man’s concept of reality.

    But is this terror just another psychological deceit? While the outcomes of magic may seem unreal and fanciful when rationalised, when I consider some of the things I’ve experienced – especially the things that happened when witnesses were present – I swing the other way and become convinced that acts of rationalisation are just sophisticated methods of denial.

    Regardless of the inherent duality that lingers about the question of magic’s reality, this extended confession of mine treats the magical practices I indulged in over the years as if they were all undisputedly real. This is because whether the effects were real or not, the insulting act of trying to play God is something that I feel needs to be openly confessed.

    Whatever way you come to look at it, the occult is ultimately based in fraud, which fits rather neatly with Dante’s consignment of seers and sorcerers to the Eighth Circle of Hell, where deceivers are punished.

    The Eighth Circle from Botticelli’s La Mappa dell’Inferno (1480-1490)

    This is the case for multiple reasons. Firstly, because many people turn to magic with the belief that they can gain wealth, power, charisma, fame, sex or great knowledge, but only occasionally will they succeed in obtaining any of those things. And if they do, the costs will either outweigh the benefits or – like any other shallow earthly indulgence – they turn out to have a taste that only remains sweet for so long before it passes away to nothing.

    What’s clear is that – like I was – the ones dabbling with magic are those who feel lost: the disenfranchised and the marginalised who are looking for purpose, for meaning, for respect and for the answers to the mysteries of life, in all the wrong places. Magic doesn’t give anyone any of these things in more than a fleeting way. Its promises are ultimately Faustian and are based in deceiving the dabbler into thinking they can mess around with infernal forces without consequences.

    If, on the other hand, everything about it the occult is just straightforward baloney, it’s still fraud, just in a more regular way.