The Black & White Magickal Dichotomy

by John L. Steadman

In H. P. Lovecraft & the Black Magickal Tradition, I define black magick as simply magic performed for the purposes of gaining knowledge and/ or power, as opposed to white magick, which is centered on the goal of spiritual attainment.  It is scarcely necessary to observe that this distinction has no connection with any concepts of morality, or with simplistic notions of “good” or “evil”.  And certainly, black magick should not be understood as evil, nor should white magick be interpreted as good.  In Lovecraft’s fictional works, his view of the magickian is definitely black, but not necessarily evil.  Lovecraft’s magickal practitioners perform their craft either to gain knowledge or power; the fact that some of these practitioners end up becoming evil is largely beside the point.  For example, Joseph Curwen, in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927), performs necromancy to raise the spirits of dead persons; this activity is not inherently evil.  However, Curwen also commits wholesale murder; this, of course, classifies him as an evil man. Thus, the goodness or the wickedness of Curwen is based almost exclusively on his behavior and not on his beliefs.

Two prominent magickal practitioners have elaborated on the black/white dichotomy in magick and tried to widen the traditional views of magick by arguing that magickal practice should embrace the whole spectrum of colors.  The late Isaac Bonewits, founder of Ar nDraiocht Fein, the largest neopagain Druid organization in the world, in Real Magic (1993), Chapter Five, “Black Magic, White Magic, and Living Color,” argues that magickal practice can be defined to correspond to the psychic energies fields , or so-called auras, that are presumed to surround the human body. Bonewits’ system of correspondences introduces a variety of different “types” of magick: red magic, orange magic, yellow magic, green magic, blue magic, indigo magic, purple magic, ultraviolet magic (which he further identifies with traditional black magick), and brown magic.  But Bonewits himself rightly admits that magick, in itself, has no color and that his system is merely a series of associational devices.

The Black & White Magickal Dichotomy

As we examine the different types, it becomes apparent that such a classification is an unnecessary complication and elaboration, since each type of magick can be placed into the two categories that I identified in the previous paragraph.  Red magic, for example, involves blessings and curses; this is, obviously, magick performed for knowledge or power.  Indigo magic, on the other hand, is performed to control the weather, or to astral travel; again, this is magick performed for knowledge or power.  Blue magic, unlike the others, focuses on religion and spirituality in part, and thus, this type of magick could be interpreted as white magick.  After perusing all of the different types of magic articulated by Bonewits, it quickly becomes clear that such an elaboration is not necessary at all; the black/white dichotomy, as defined previously, is sufficient.

Peter J. Carroll, author of Liber Null & Psychonaut (1987) and Liber Kaos (1992), and Chancellor of Arcanorium College and Past Grandmaster of IOT Pact, posits a similar system in Liber Kaos, Part 2: The Psychonomicon, Chapter 4: Eight Magics.  Here, Carroll raises the issue of auric energy fields, just as Bonewits did, but then he sensibly drops this issue, seeing that auric fields are largely irrelevant to magickal practice, and argues instead that there are eight different types of “magics”, as he calls them, which can be attributed to the seven classical planets, plus Uranus, and which signify emotional states.  Carroll’s list is certainly creative: he gives us octarine magic (an instinctive drive toward magic); black magic (destruction and entropy), blue magic (material wealth); red magic (combat and aggression); yellow magic (changes to the ego or personality; illumination); green magic (love magic); orange magic (wit and intellect); and purple magic (sex magic).

All of these categories, however, can be placed into either the white or black categories and thus, Carroll’s system is, like Bonewits’ system, an are an unnecessary elaboration.  Yellow magick is clearly white magick, while the other seven colors are focused on black magick, i.e. on power, knowledge, or a combination of the two.

For more discussion of the black-white magickal dichotomy in Lovecraft’s work, as well as a full examination of Lovecraft’s connection with the great black magickal systems in the western world, the Vodou cults, the Wiccan religion, the Typhonian order, the Church of Satan and the Chaos Magick Pacts, please read H. P. Lovecraft & the Black Magickal Tradition, released by Weiser Books on September 1, 2015


John L. Steadman is the author of H.P. Lovecraft and the Black Magickal Tradition, a scholar of H. P. Lovecraft and western occultism and has been a magickal practitioner for more than thirty years. He is currently a college English professor at Olivet College in Michigan.

Our February Titles Are Here!

Our February titles are now available!

Bloody Mary’s Guide to Hauntings, Horrors, and Dancing with the Dead

by Bloody Mary

“Fascinating insight through Bloody Mary’s eyes into the paranormal and New Orleans. A hauntingly good read.” – Nick Groff, co-author of Chasing Spirits and founding team member of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures

9781578635665Journey through compelling chapters and meet 50 ghosts as Bloody Mary shares with readers her experiences with the ghosts and haunted happenings of New Orleans. Among the tales of the supernatural are:

  • The spirit of Voodoo Queen : Marie Laveau
  • A meeting with Julie the Ghost of Forbidden Love
  • The story of Madame La Laurie, La Vampyra
  • Meetings with Jean Lafitte, the Gentleman Pirate
  • Encounters with the ghosts in New Orleans graveyards
  • Living with ghosts in Bloody Mary’s own private Haunted home

Each chapter ends with “Afterlife Lessons and Warnings” with a recap of the Spirit’s Who’s Who , and what they do to help readers navigate the seen and the unseen worlds.

What makes these stories particularly engaging is Bloody Mary herself. She is not only a psychic investigator, she is also a psychic healer offering healing and kindness to spirits that walk the earth and also helping readers find spiritual lessons in encounters with the spirit world.

(Weiser Books)


Missing Connections

edited by J. Douglas Kenyon

9780990690429This is a book for those who want more: those who go against the grain of “accepted” history, who dare to doubt the truth of the truth makers. For hundreds of years, human lore’s legacy has been passed down without question. But there are missing connections, giant question marks, and links that cannot be ignored.

Missing Connections promotes awareness of the many hues that fill the world, some of which may be hard to see unless they are properly pointed out. Editor J. Douglas Kenyon has culled from the pages of Atlantis Rising®magazine this compilation of concise and well-illustrated articles by world-class researchers and theoreticians like Frank Joseph, Steven Sora, Philip Coppens, Robert M. Schoch, William Stoecker, John Kettler, and many others, who offer thought-provoking insights into a world that is much more colorful than we ever imagined.

( Atlantis Rising®)

New Planets and Old Lore

By Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

I have a new book out called Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, and in the last few days I have received many questions and comments at workshops and in emails on the discovery of a new planet in our solar system. Some have asked about the meaning of the new planet. Others have implied or directly stated that every new astronomical discovery overturns Astrology’s claim to wisdom. Here is an answer to these and many other similar questions. Astrology is a sacred science and there is no quick answer to the meaning of another Planet in its canon. Please note that I am capitalizing Planet to distinguish it from its usage as planet in Astronomy. This is not the first time that Astrology has added a new Planet or Asteroid into its system. The process of this addition is slow and messy, much as it is in any science sacred or mundane.

New Planets and Old Lore
© Panpipe

Once we actually know that there truly is a new Planet, so far it is just a mathematical conjecture, then the work can begin. When we know its current position, and the speed and shape of its orbit, Astrologers will begin to add the new Planet into the charts of people whose life histories are well known. By looking at many charts and at crucial periods in their lives we may begin to see clues as to the meaning of the new Planet. Astrologers who are of a more mystical bent may meditate, ask the spirits, commune with their Higher Self, etc. to gain some insight. This insight will then be tested and challenged by a very large community of practitioners. Some Astrologers will try to deduce the qualities by looking at its location in the various theoretical schemes of Astrology. In some regards this is like adding a new element to the periodic table, and some educated guesses can be made.

Here’s two examples of extrapolating upon what is known. We know that the new Planet’s orbit is very far from the Sun and takes somewhere between 10,000 – 20,000 years to complete one cycle. The established pattern in Astrology is that the closer to the Sun and the faster the orbit, the more the Planet is associated with individuals, inherent qualities, and quickly changing events. The farther out and the slower the orbit, the more that it relates to ever-expanding settings such as families, societies, cultures, and so on. Of course large patterns like societies and cultures affect individuals’ lives, but as external events that are internalized. So the new Planet is a probably a marker for very large and very slow cycles. When the new Planet is officially observed, not just calculated, many Astrologer’s will run a chart for that moment of discovery for clues about the qualities of the new Planet. Another chart will be created when it is officially named as well. My pick for a name is Xibalba.

When will we know what this new Planet means and how and where it fits into Astrology? This could take a few decades or even a century or so to achieve general agreement in the field of Astrology. There will be a plethora  of papers, talks given at national and international conferences, numerous debates, predictions will be made and tested as we know more. Finally, we’ll reach a tipping point when more and more Astrologers use the new Planet in the charts they construct and there will be enough data and real life experience to add it to the accepted lore.

For Astrologers, new discoveries in Astronomy are welcome opportunities to expand a system of sacred science that has been evolving and changing for thousands of years.


Ivo Domínguez, Jr. has been active in the Wiccan and the pagan community since 1978 and has been teaching since 1982. He was a founding member, and past High Priest, of Keepers of the Holly Chalice, the first coven of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel a Wiccan Tradition. Ivo is also one of the organizers for the New Alexandrian Library. You can find him at http://www.ivodominguezjr.com.

Ivo’s books

Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans | Casting Sacred Space

Making Grief Mindful

By Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW author of Hope & Healing for Transcending Loss

No one wants to feel pain.  Let’s face it – it’s painful!  In our western culture, we are especially skilled at avoiding uncomfortable and unpleasant feelings.  Our society supports us in hiding our feelings, offering a full range of numbing opportunities:  alcohol, drugs, eating, shopping, gambling, and assorted digital devices for our addictive consumption.

Mindfulness – the practice of nonjudgmental present awareness — is often promoted in the mental health field as the golden ticket to resilience and inner peace.  Mindfulness practices are said to soothe anxiety, lift depression, minimize chronic pain, and reduce stress.  The problem for grievers is that mindfulness asks the griever to be present with the very thing that they’re trying to avoid.  So what can mindfulness do for the heart-searing pain of losing a loved one?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Being mindful allows the griever to feel and observe the pain without being swallowed by it.  The act of being present with pain, being mindfully observant, is healing.  Such presence allows the painful emotion to surface and shift.

Making Grief Mindful

I have worked with grievers for 25 years and I know that a mindful attitude toward the process of grief is tremendously important.  I find that the following 3 mindful strategies help the griever navigate painful terrain.

If you or someone you know is grieving, use these 3 guidelines.

Intention

Set a daily intention to be with your grief for a period of time each day. Take 5-15 minutes to just ‘be’ with your feelings.  Set your intention to welcome the feelings, to learn from them, and to be open to finding the wisdom embedded within the process.  Remember that taking the journey through grief is the way to heal.  Mindfulness is also about cultivating loving kindness toward yourself, so know that as you create the willingness to feel, you also want to recognize that you are courageous in doing so.

Attention

Pay attention to the natural rhythms of emotions. Notice the waves that ebb and flow.  See grief rising and falling, washing over you and receding.  Watch where the pain lodges in your body.  Do you feel it in your throat, your heart, the pit of your stomach?  Become an expert of your personal process by paying attention to the subtle changes in each feeling.  Grief has movement to it.  Remember that you are not your feelings – they are like cloud formations passing across the broader sky of you.

No tension

The less you resist your feelings, the less you will suffer. Resist  and you will suffer more.  In fact, stuffing your feelings takes a toll; it exacts a price from your psyche.  So surrender to your natural feelings and know that doing so is a part of a healthy response to grief.  Watch with tenderness as you encounter each new feeling.

Know that pain has a purpose.  It’s part of the healing journey.  The awareness and acceptance that are hallmarks of mindfulness help those struggling with grief to ride the waves of emotion and ultimately redirect their pain toward emotional and spiritual growth.


Ashley Davis Bush, LICSW is the author of 6 self-help books, including Hope and Healing for Transcending Loss.  She is a psychotherapist, grief counselor, and a Huffington Post contributor. 

9781573246675

Our January Titles Are Here!

2016 has arrived, and so have our latest titles! Enjoy!


Hope & Healing for Transcending Loss – Ashley Davis Bush

When we lose someone close, it’s easy to feel unmoored. We need to find a new rhythm to our days and new ways to connect to 9781573246675the ones we’ve lost. Ashley Davis Bush wrote this book to offer you just that: small doses of comfort and hope for getting through your day when you are still heavy with grief. Each bite-sized reading offers reassurance that healing is possible, whether it’s an ordinary day of living with loss or a special anniversary day. Poetic words, combined with photographic images throughout the book, help provide solace along with the perspective that love always transcends even the deepest loss.

Death doesn’t end the relationship; it simply forges a new type of relationship—one based not on physical presence but on memory, spirit, and love.

(Conari Press)


Stay Healthy During Chemo – Mike Herbert, ND with Dr. Joe Dispenza

“This powerful book will change your perspective forever on recovering from cancer. It provides excellent and sound guidelines on protecting your immune system while undergoing and recovering from chemotherapy and will help you conquer your fears and anxiety and replace them with healing and hope.”Ann Louise Gittleman, America’s First Lady of Nutrition and author of the New York Times bestsellingThe Fat Flush Plan

“This book should be handed to newly diagnosed patients after their oncologist delivers the lifealtering news. I imagine the conversation going something like this: ‘The tests show that you have cancer. Our plan of treatment will focus on killing the cancerous cells, but you need to read this book and follow the five steps to stay healthy, strong, and, one day soon, be cancer free.” –Kirsten Rogers, founder of ChemoBites

9781573246750Chemotherapy works to beat your cancer, but it also takes its own toll on your body and your health. During treatment, it is more important than ever to do what you can to keep yourself strong and healthy. The best way of doing that is to work with your body’s innate healing powers.

This book offers a treasure chest of practical guidance for feeling good during chemo and beyond. And it does so through 5 basic steps, supporting you to:

 

  • Change your thinking and develop an attitude focused on healing.
  • Detoxify with therapeutic baths to promote healing from the inside out.
  • Eat the best foods to create a healing chemistry in your body.
  • Supplement your diet to support healing momentum.
  • Exercise and rest to speed the healing process.

Also included are 100+ simple recipes and a menu-planning guide.

(Conari Press)


Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans – Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

More often than not, people think of astrology as a tool for divination or the exploration of one’s personality. Astrology is 9781578635757considerably more than that. It is a sacred science, a highly descriptive symbolic language, and it is also a technology that can be applied to ritual, herbalism, the use of crystals, and much more.

But it can be daunting to take on the study of Astrology. After all, it’s a field so huge it would take several lifetimes to master it. And that’s why Ivo Dominguez, Jr., wrote this book—to provide practitioners of magick with a Pagan perspective on Astrology and the core concepts of Astrology that are most useful to building rituals and creating effective magick.

When we look at an astrological chart, what we are actually looking at is a map of the multiple planes of existence summarized and flattened into an understandable diagram—a kind of magickal cartogram. Now, what to do with this map? How can we best use it in our magickal work? That’s precisely what you’ll discover in the pages of this concise, focused, and expertly presented book.

(Weiser Books)


Ancient Egyptian Magic – Eleanor L. Harris

9781578635917This new edition of Ancient Egyptian Magic takes you step-by step through Egyptian religions, magical philosophy, techniques of divination, and magical formulae thousands of years old. No previous experience with the subject is necessary—Harris explains the “hows” and “whys” of magical tools, amulets, words of power, divination, ceremony, and spells. Advanced practitioners will find especially useful instruction on actual Egyptian magical script as found in the ancient papyri such as The Leyden Papyrus, The Papyrus Ani (the Egyptian Book of the Dead), and other important works. Everything you need to start practicing ancient Egyptian techniques is here in your hands!

(Weiser Books)


The Courage to Be Yourself – Sue Patton Thoele

“More than any other author, Sue Patton Thoele has helped me understand what it is like to be a woman in today’s culture. She writes like an angel yet somehow transcends words and communicates directly to the reader’s heart. The Courage to Be Yourself is a classic, a masterpiece, yet it is so honest that each time you read it, it speaks with a fresh, new voice.” Hugh Prather, author of The Little Book of Letting Go

9781573246767Geared to women who too often find themselves meeting the wants of others at the expense of their own needs, The Courage to Be Yourself provides necessary tools to help readers transform their fears into the courage to express their own authentic selves. By sharing her own journey and the journey of other women, Sue Patton Thoele helps readers learn to set boundaries, change self-defeating behavior patterns, communicate effectively, and, most importantly, become a loving and tolerant friend to themselves.

(Conari Press)


 

A Q&A with Dr. Susan Allison, author of “You Don’t Have to Die to Go to Heaven”

What inspired you to write this book?9781578635887

This latest book is a culmination of twenty years of shamanic journey
work, including teaching individual clients and groups how to go into trance and travel to spirit worlds. I always want to empower readers and in this book anyone can learn how to visit spirit worlds and bring back insights that can transform their lives. I also want to help people to no longer fear death or worry where their departed loved ones have gone. It is a mission of mine to change the way we as a culture view life and death.

What is shamanic journeywork and what are the levels of the spirit worlds?

I define shamanic journey as travel in an altered trance state from this world of ordinary reality to alternative worlds that are non-ordinary. In other words, shamanic journey is spirit travel to other dimensions of reality. The shaman or shamanic practitioner can go into a deep trance state usually by listening to a rattle or a drum. Then they dissociate from their own body and physical reality and journey into an alternate reality that the shaman calls the spirit world. These alternate realities are often called the lower world, the middle world and the upper world, and in each realm the person journeying can engage with spirit beings such as totem animals, spirit allies and higher beings like angels, soul family members and divine teachers.

What is the purpose of doing shamanic journeywork and going to spirit worlds?

For centuries shamans have been going into trance and journeying on behalf of their tribes, meeting with spirit helpers in alternate realities and bringing back information and ways to heal the sick, find food and water, and solve dilemmas within the community. The shaman also augmented his or her own power and did this as well for those who were ill. Today, the average person can learn how to do shamanic journey, usually for personal transformation and to help others. The purpose is similar to the goals of ancient peoples: to ask for wisdom from spirit allies in order to improve one’s life and the lives of one’s fellows.

Why did you write the early chapters about animal helpers in a lower world and spirit allies in a middle world? Why not just write about the upper worlds and a level of heaven?

It’s very important that readers practice doing shamanic journey to the other worlds first in order to invite power animals and spirit helpers to support them in their many journeys. Traveling to the upper worlds is much easier and more fulfilling when readers have animals to carry them and allies to accompany them on their quests. Also, it is helpful to understand the context of journey work in the earlier chapters as well as mythological and cultural information such as the history of The Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder before spirit traveling to upper realms.

What qualifies you to write this text?

I have been actively involved in shamanic community since 1993, studying with four major shamans, Michael Harner, Alberto Villoldo, Brant Secunda and Hank Wesselman, doing two vision quests and immersing myself in Plains Indian tradition. I am a shamanic practitioner and use journeywork with most of my clients, teaching them to travel to spirit worlds and even to journey into the world of their own bodies and minds. As a lifelong student of meditation, an ordained minister and energy healer, a hypnotherapist and transpersonal psychologist, shamanism is an additional tool I use for my own growth and transformation for individual clients and groups.

You have said there is no death and we are all immortal. How do you know?

For over two decades I have been going into trance and spirit traveling to alternate realities, to worlds beyond this one. All this time I’ve known that we are souls having a physical experience on earth, and this has especially been proven to me this year after my husband’s transition. Now that Tom is a spirit without a body, I still feel his energy, hear him speak to me and see him in what I call a level of heaven. He looks radiant and full of light, with a youthful, muscular body, long dark hair and a vibrant energy. I can visit him anytime I wish and we meet beyond the sun in heaven, on a white sand beach to the right of a Greek temple where my soul family and divine teachers are. My husband is there with my parents, and Jesus and other guides also share their wisdom with me. Through direct experience of the divine, I know for a fact that there is no death for us as souls; we are immortal.

What is some of the wisdom that your own spirit allies have shared with you?

Every journey is unique and each visit to a spirit world offers different insights. In general, my spirit helpers are always honest and positive. They often tell me that I am on the right track and they are proud of me. At times they share more specific input, whether about my relationships or my work, my health or my spiritual practice. They will tell me if I am not journeying often enough, and when I show up, there are weeds in my sacred place or no helper is there. My allies have helped me to become a much better person through adventures, tests and experiences that show me what I must change and who I need to become. Once when I was being bossy and demanding, one of my animal helpers dropped me into a rushing river. He also left me in his nest to think about my behavior and finally returned and asked, “Are you teachable? Are you ready now?” Very humbly, I answered, “Yes.”

What do you mean by the title of the last chapter, “Bringing Heaven Home?”

The final chapter is about how to use all the insights from the previous chapters to improve one’s life here. It invites readers to look at all the journeys and all the guidance by spirit helpers and apply these teachings to specific areas in the real world such as: healing past life issues, relationships, spiritual practice, self-care, health, professional life, creative expression, leisure and service. The chapter offers readers a way of creating heaven on earth, of establishing a plan to increase the joy, love, passion and purpose of one’s life, letting go of what no longer serves, and embracing what is truly the soul’s calling.

Click here for more information on You Don’t Have to Die to Go to Heaven.

When a White Christmas Turns Blue: Surviving Grief During the Holidays

Do you know someone working to overcome grief during the holidays? Check out Ashley Davis Bush’s great blog post on Huffington Post! 

Here’s a little snippet of it.

While everyone seems festive and joyful, you’re feeling blue — downcast and sad — weighed down by grief. It can feel extremely lonely when your heart is heavy with sorrow but those around you are expecting you to smile and be happy. If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, it is anything but “the most wonderful time of the year.”

There may be many reasons to feel stressed during the holidays, but grief brings its own brand of challenges. If you’re grieving this year and are wondering how you’ll survive the season, use the following six suggestions to ease the way.

Just Say “No”
Although friends and family members may expect you to be the same this year, clearly you are not. That means you need to reflect on your traditions and – for this year, at least – say ‘no’ to anything that feels too overwhelming or painful. You may not want to put up a tree. You may be unable to send holiday cards. You may be completely unmotivated to bake your holiday cookies. It doesn’t matter if your loved ones understand. You need to take care of yourself. Give yourself a break this year and only do things that provide some comfort. You have permission to say “no, no, no” instead of “ho ho ho”.

That said, if you have to carry on with some customs for the sake of others, ask for help and make easier choices like shopping online or purchasing baked goods.

Read more here: “When a White Christmas Turns Blue: Surviving Grief During the Holidays”