The Author's Corner
Donald Michael Kraig
Evocation of Spirits
TWPT: To start this interview perhaps you could give us your definition of Magick as you see it.
DMK: To me, magick is the art and science of creating change according to Will using means not currently understood by western science. There are several aspects to this definition I would like to clarify.
First, magick, IMO, is both a science and an art. As we all know, some people are born with artistic gifts and others are not. Even so, a person who does not have inborn talents may, through study and practice, become a superior magician to the person with natural talents who does not practice or study.
Second, magick is a willed change. I have talked with people who have claimed they did rituals resulting in nothing. Yet, they considered their magick successful. They claimed that just because they did the ritual they were successful. That interpretation assumes that magick is only the process. I do not agree with that definition. The success of a ritual's goal is proof that the magick worked.
Third, the change occurs by means not currently understood by western science. If we do not include this clause, any Willed change would be called magick. If I wanted to open the door, then did so, it could be seen as magick. Indeed, some people claim that there is a good reason to follow that belief. However, I think that is begging the issue. Opening the door is not magick unless you do it by means not currently understood by western science. However, why would one bother to spend months or years to do something by magick when you can just as easily walk over and open the door?
Further, I would like to make clear that I do not classify magick in terms of black, white, green, red, etc. In Modern Magick I do use black, white and gray classifications because people have preconceptions about magick and rather than turn people off to the spirituality which underlies magick, I link to their notions. Once people have a better idea of magick, I reveal that magick does not have a color. In Modern Sex Magick I describe it simply as "Magick is magick." It is more like electricity. It can be used for any purpose. It is not black, white, green, mauve or any other color in and of itself.
Another important thing to understand, I believe, is that magick works 7/24 and not just when you are doing a ritual. If you do a ritual for money then spend the rest of your time worrying about money, you will get exactly what you wanted: a lack of money. It is thinking that magick only occurs during rituals that is one of the major causes of failure. It is also why I say that Magick is not something you do, Magick is something you are.
TWPT: What was it that first sparked your interest in Magick? Was there anything from your past that contributed to this interest?
DMK: I had always been interested in the bizarre and unusual. My mother had a casual interest in these topics, so I was not limited in my reading. My mother's attitude was that I should read anything, from comic books to children's books to dirty books. She figured that I would get bored with crap and eventually read the good stuff. She was right.
When I was 5 I did my first magick. I had an uncle who was a pit boss in Las Vegas, and he would get us free rooms if we could get to the city. We would go once or twice a year by bus.
My mother liked to play nickle slots. At that time they didn't have places to keep kids busy so my mother had me stay in the lobby where I could see her and she could watch me. Once, I asked her if I could play and she told me that kids weren't allowed to gamble. I asked if I could just pull the handle. She could put in the money. My mother told me that was still gambling. So I asked if I could put in the money and she could pull the handle. I was still told, "No." A police officer looked over at my poor pleadings and was laughing.
So I said, "If I can't play there I'll play over here." My mother and the police officer looked at me as I toddled over to a cigarette machine and pulled the coin return slider as if were the arm of a slot machine. There was a pause followed by over $3 in change coming out of the coin return!
So, I did the magical ritual (pulled the lever), I said the magick words ("I'll play over here) and the magick occurred.
My next ritual took place when I was 16. I still had not really studied the occult in depth, although it continued as an interest. My girlfriend, who I was madly in love with, went off to camp. On visitors' day I drove her parents to the camp. Before the day was over she told me that she was dumping me for a guy she met at camp.
Weeks later, I was still heartbroken. So I took a photo of her, drenched it in lighter fluid and lit it. As it burned I repeated, "As it burns, so, too, does it burn away the feeling I had for her." (You didn't think I was going to do something to hurt her, did you?) Well, the picture just wouldn't easily burn. It took a long time for me to get it to ignite and change to ash. Likewise, it still took me quite some time to get over her, but I feel it was easier because of what I had done. Curiously, I had not read any books on ritual at this time and had created my impromptu ritual.
A few years later I started studying the Tarot. The books all differed, but they also said that if you really want to learn the Tarot, you have to learn the Kabalah. I mark that as the real start of my studies. So it was a situation of one thing leading to the next. My life has led to the path of magick.
TWPT: Do you think Magick is connected to spirituality in anyway or is it more of a science than faith?
DMK: This depends upon your definitions of science, spirituality and faith. To me, faith is a belief with either a reason for a belief or no reason for that belief. I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow because it always has and the odds are in favor of it continuing to do so. Is it possible that it will not occur? Absolutely. But my faith in it occurring is based upon a reason (experience) for that belief. On the other hand, a person may believe that there are beings living on the inside of Mars. There is no reason for the belief, but in that person it still exists. This is the common notion of faith, and I do not think that magick is based on this kind of faith.
For me, the idea of spirituality is the process of establishing and improving the relationship between an individual and the Divine. Certain aspects of magick can help a person become aware of other levels or planes of reality and can thus lead to spirituality. However, other aspects of magick have no direct link to Spirit.
Science can be subdivided into numerous categories, of course. But most important for magick, I believe, is not a category, but the methodology. This is commonly known as the "scientific method," which consists of a thesis, methodology, a scientific record of the experiment and the ability to repeat the experiment, getting the same results under the same circumstances.
The scientific method was created by magicians. Specifically, the alchemists were the ones who were responsible for the development of the method. They developed their theories. Did experiments (rituals) and recorded their results (magical diary).
TWPT: What role does Magick play in your personal everyday life? Is it something that you practice on a daily basis or is it more a philosophy that underlies your life?
DMK: As I said, magick is not something you do, magick is something you are. I still do rituals daily. The philosophy of magick gives me a better understanding of the actions of people, organizations, nature and more.
TWPT: What kinds of misconceptions do you see floating around about Magick and what it means to be a magician in today's world?
DMK: Yes, indeed. There are two I would like to mention. The first is that magick is simply something you can do with no preparation. Movies, books, TV and more imply that some poor fool can simply pick up a book, mumble and mispronounce a few words, and then the pits of hell open up and demons come forth to do the bidding of the terrified person. I'm sorry to disappoint people, but it ain't gonna happen. I mean, assume for a moment that it did work that way. There would be so many demons running around there wouldn't be room for any cars on the roads! Magick requires study and practice.
Second, some people want to learn magick in order to get power over another person or persons. They try a few simply rituals written up in bogus or semi-bogus books and - surprise! - they still don't have power over anyone. Sometimes they begin a study of magick and come to realize the truth: real power is power over yourself. By the time you develop enough magical ability to get power over another, you realize that you have no reason to do so. The power you have over yourself will give you far more satisfaction than you could ever get by harming another.
TWPT: Do you think that it is easier to begin your studies of magick now as opposed to 10 or 20 years ago? Why is that?
DMK: There are advantages and disadvantages to beginning a study at either time. Had one begun 20 years ago, he or she would have had far fewer books to work with and far fewer groups to work with. On the other hand, this means that studies could have been more directed and focused. Today there is a plethora of books, some great, some not so good, which a student can choose to study. Note that I don't say there are "bad" books, because if a student can determine that a book is incorrect or not for him or her, then that "bad" book has clarified for the student what is valuable to that person.
Unfortunately, some students end up lost in those books and end up not having a thorough understanding of any particular tradition. Do I follow Golden Dawn, Crowley, Chaos, Bardon, Grant or somebody else? Do I follow the published traditions of Cunningham, RavenWolf, Grimmasi, Buckland, Cabot, Gardner, Sanders or someone else?
What happens all too frequently today is that students end up creating an incomplete mish-mosh according to their personal desires. Further, some have then gone on to create "traditions" with High Priests and High Priestesses, Hierophants and Masters. They end up presenting incomplete information as a "complete" system. Many students today are being short changed.
I would suggest to anybody following a magical path that he or she should study one system until they are completely familiar with it. Then that person should go out and study other systems. The student can then add to or modify what he or she has been doing to develop his or her unique system. Eventually, all magick is personal magick.
TWPT: If someone were interested in studying magick what steps would you advise them to take to make a sincere beginning of it? Should they seek out teachers or can magick be learned successfully by studying alone?
DMK: In my opinion, a person can definitely learn magick by studying alone. However, let us compare this, for a second, to a person who is learning music on his or her own. The student may spend years learning some techniques, only to discover later, when meeting with others, that it was being done all wrong and that there are easier ways to do it. Similarly, if a student wishing to learn magick has a personal teacher, I think he or she will be able to advance more quickly.
However, I have found that in magick, a person does not need a constant teacher so much as one who can get a student started and then answer questions and solve the inevitable problems which will arise.
And again, I suggest that a person learn one system completely, then add to it from other systems. Some people have objected to this saying that it will take years to learn one system. Exactly so.
Magick, like music, does more than simply give a person the ability to change the environment. The regular practice of any system of magick changes the individual, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To short-change the positive changes which occur because a student wants instant knowledge of all systems ends up hurting the student.
TWPT: Tell me how your book Modern Magick came about and what goals you had for the book when you wrote it?
DMK: Many years ago I lived in the beautiful area north of San Diego, California, known as Encinitas. I shared a house with a man and his son. This man was one of the important influences in my life, sharing with me his knowledge of Zen, Taoism and Shiatsu massage. He taught classes in massage at our house and let me take the classes. After a while, he asked me to help him teach the classes.
One day, some of the students asked me to teach a class in Kabalah, something which I had been studying, in depth, for a few years. Even so, I knew how little I understood of the vast range of the Kabalah. I held my thumb and first finger about two inches apart and explained that the Kabalah was enormous and I only knew about this much. One of the students held his fingers about an eighth of an inch apart and said that they knew even less.
So I consented and taught a class on the subject. Then a metaphysical store contacted me and asked me to teach a class on the subject. Later, this expanded to four classes and finally 10 classes.
I taught this series of classes several times and frankly, I had two conflicting goals: First, I wanted to be able to share the information more widely and second, I was getting tired of saying the same thing, over and over.
So I came up with the idea of doing a mail-order course. What I wanted to do was make up 52 short lessons which would be based upon, yet expand upon, the classes I had been teaching for years. I started to work on it.
At this time, I was sharing an apartment in San Diego with Scott Cunningham. Scott was just becoming famous, having published two or three books by this time. He received a call from a man who ran a mail-order lesson outfit in Santa Barbara, California. It seems that the woman who had been writing a course for him on Wicca had vanished and he was asking Scott if Scott could finish the course. Scott told him to send down copies of what had been written and he would see (he did not end up doing so). Then he asked Scott if he knew anybody who could write a course on ceremonial magick. Scott, in his usual way, simply handed me the phone and said,
"Here, it's for you!"
The person running the mail-order lesson business told me what was going on. At this time, I was basically unknown except for the San Diego area, so he asked for some samples of my writing. I sent him a few of the brief lessons I had created. He asked for longer lessons and I said I could do it.
So, all of the short lessons were rewritten into longer ones. Everything went fine for about six months. Then, the person operating the mail-order outfit didn't contact me and didn't send me any money. When I finally got in touch with him he said that in one month, all of the people taking his courses (Wicca, astrology, magical herbalism, Voodoo and more) decided to stop taking the lessons and that he was going to move to New York and get into making adult films! Well, we signed an agreement that I would vacate any claims I had to money he owed me and that all copyrights to the material I wrote would immediately go back to me.
So there I was with a bunch of mail-order lessons. I talked about it with Scott, and he suggested that I make it into a book. Once again I re-wrote the material.
There was one other thing which happened which gave impetus to me getting the material published. At that time I was lucky enough to be in communication with Israel Regardie. When I learned that he was going to re-write his book, The Golden Dawn, I wrote him urgently suggesting that he put everything in a logical order rather than have everything interwoven.
Had he done so, Modern Magick would have never been published. Instead, he chose not to accept my advice. When I complimented him on the new version of the book he wrote to me saying that he had found a good use for it... as a doorstop! Without such a step-by-step set of lessons, I felt there would be a market for Modern Magick.
From Llewellyn I obtained their writer's guidelines. I followed the conventions described there (wide margins, double spacing, etc.), but there were also questions to answer. I answered those questions as if I was selling myself and my work.
By this time I had moved from the apartment I had shared with Scott to Claremont, California and was working for Bank of America in their courier service. One night, the president of Llewellyn, Carl Weschcke called me on the phone and said he wanted to publish it. I could barely restrain my joy and amazement.
Not long after, the person who was Vice President at Llewellyn called me. He and Carl had been impressed with the way I had answered the questions in the guidelines and they offered me a job. I ended up moving to Minnesota and working for Llewellyn for the next six years. I am very grateful to both of them, and Llewellyn, for giving me that opportunity.
The writing and publication of Modern Magick allowed the information I wanted to share to be spread more widely. I think I was able to present things in a way that appealed to people. That, combined with a beautiful cover by Martin Canon as well as being in the right place at the right time has made it successful. It also freed me to move on in my personal studies and work.
TWPT: Do you feel that the book has accomplished what you set out to do with it? Give me some specifics that make you feel that it has indeed met your expectations?
DMK: In terms of sales, Modern Magick did not merely meet my expectations, it has exceeded them by such a huge amount that I am amazed. In answering the questions for the writer's guidelines, I said that I thought it might sell 5,000 copies the first year and then settle down to 1000-2000 copies for the next few years. I thought that if it stayed in print for three or four years I would be lucky. Instead, it has continued to sell strongly and has sold over 100,000 copies.
In terms of getting the information out, I am amused that much of what I wrote has become some sort of a common nomenclature in the occult community. For example, before Modern Magick, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram was usually called the "LBR." Now, I figured that there could be lots of "Lesser Banishing Rituals," so in Modern Magick I used the letters "LBRP" to indicated exactly what I was talking about. Although it is possible (indeed, probable!) that LBRP appeared before Modern Magick, it has now become a standard shorthand for naming the ritual.
Indeed, I have received hundreds of letters and emails from people saying that their group uses Modern Magick as a text book. Most of them say that they change things to fit their group. They say this almost apologetically, as if I might take offense. On the contrary, I say that I hope they DO change things to fit their group. Modern Magick is my way, but it is not the only way.
But most satisfying have been the letters I've received from people who have told me that their lives were screwed up and they started to practice the techniques in Modern Magick and it helped them turn their lives around.
I had not anticipated that, but it has been deeply touching.
So, it has exceeded my original sales goals, it has reached people and become part of the magical vocabulary and helped some people change their lives. This is far more than I could have ever expected and I remain amazed that I could have participated in this.
TWPT: How does Tarot and the Cabbala fit into your study of magick? Is it simply a matter of using the same energies and techniques in different forms?
DMK: One of the things that each of us, knowingly or unknowingly, attempt to do, is have a way for answering seemingly insoluble questions. Why is there war? Why did that person try to hurt me? Why did another person try to help me? Why do innocent infants die? Why do politicians behave the way they do? Why am I here?
There are many ways to answer these questions which influence a person's understanding of reality. One way is through religion. For the prevalent religious paradigm of the West, Christianity, anything perceived as good comes from God and anything perceived as being not good comes from Satan. Another paradigm would be any of the various schools of psychology. Others include the hard sciences.
Astrology also gives us a way to understand reality, and it works very well. The I Ching, with its Taoistic influences, also works. The Tarot and the Kabalah can also give us full understandings of reality.
I have found that the more paradigms we understand, the closer we become to understanding the reality that transcends them all. We are like the proverbial blind men examining an elephant. We each get one view of the whole, complete from where we are, but incomplete when compared to the totality.
I do not think there will ever be a single way of being able to answer those questions and understanding reality. But the more paradigms we have, the closer we can get to understanding the nature of the universe.
I should point out that we are spelling "Kabalah" in different ways. Some people make a distinction between Kabalistic traditions by the spelling of the word. I do not.
Beside using both the Tarot and Kabalah as ways of understanding the basic nature of reality (i.e., what we change with magick), each has useful tools for the technical workings of magick. Tarot symbolism can help direct Kabalistic rituals. And the Kabalah is filled with various magical techniques.
I see the Tarot and Kabalah as complimentary systems which can be used, symbiotically, to enhance our abilities in magick. I like to consider myself a pragmatist. If it works, use it!
TWPT: You've also written a book entitled Modern Sex Magick. Why a separate book to cover the area of sex magick? What is there about this area of magick that needs more explanation than what is covered in Modern Magick?
DMK: Although in Modern Magick I included a section on sex magick, I felt that times had changed enough for a focus on this topic. Modern Magick was the first occult book to even mention AIDS. Many of the expectations at that time concerning AIDS, and specifically, the prediction that AIDS would soon infect huge segments of the population, have not occurred. I am not going to debate people about that. Go back and check the predictions and look at the current numbers (not percentages, actual numbers) as given by the Centers for Disease Control. The sex-negative, psychological terrorists no longer threaten people by saying, "Have sex outside of marriage once and you'll get AIDS." Instead, they are adding the names of other diseases.
I am NOT saying that there are not risks to sexual activity or that people should either do something they are not comfortable with or not use methods to protect themselves from transmission of disease. But the facts are that people, more and more, are losing the terror of AIDS and instead respecting their health. The result is that many people are engaging in more active sexual lifestyles. For example, the number of "swingers clubs" seems to be showing a dramatic rise.
At the same time, the people who still are terrorized have established stable, monogamous relationships and are discovering something disconcerting: sex can get boring. As a result, both people who are monogamous and people who are not are looking for ways to enhance their sex lives. The first thing that comes to mind for most people is Tantra, and the misunderstandings around Tantra (which I hope to clarify in a future book) are astounding.
Meanwhile, several things had been going on in my life since the publication of Modern Magick. First, I have traveled all over the U.S. giving classes. One of the many classes I teach is called "Western Spirituality." It is surprising to see so many people looking for spiritual truths and thinking that there is only an answer in Eastern traditions. In fact, there is not one thing in Eastern traditions which is not available in the traditions of the West. People here don't know about Western spiritual traditions, I believe, because they are based on the personal experience of the Divine. If you have such an experience you no longer need priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. Western spirituality is a dark secret because it would put too many people and organizations out of business.
While seeking out further information on this, I was finding myself, well, bored with much of the typical Kabalistic methodologies. At one time I had written several pages on one of my chosen magical names to indicate, through Gematria and Notaricon the meaning of the name. I have seen people make long and wild journeys of a similar type giving "proof" to something which, to me, was self-evident.
Let me give you an example. One of the most astounding Gematrias in my life was that the word in Hebrew for "one" had the same numeric value as the Hebrew word for "love." Thus, one=love. And since the ultimate identification of God is as a oneness, it was basically saying that God is love. Further, if you take the numbers of the word "one" and add it to the number of the word "love," the sum equals that of the tetragrammaton, the holiest of names of God. Therefore unity and love IS God.
I found that I no longer needed such things to prove anything to me. Note that I specifically am writing "to me." There are other people who delight in this type of Kabalism and this is not meant as a criticism. It is what they need now. I simply needed something else.
What I realized is that most of these Kabalistic techniques were passive.
You sit there and think. I needed something more active. The works of Aryeh Kaplan showed that the ancient Kabalists and pre-Kabalists used such active techniques in things such as meditation. As I studied further I discovered that what we generally call "The Kabalah" is really based on only one school of Kabalism, and that there have been many schools of thought and practice.
One such tradition, dating back at least as far as the great Temple of Solomon, was that sexuality was sacred and magical. There had been only hints of this in some Kabalistic texts, and my researched led to further investigations.
During this time, too, I became involved with a sex magick group (I had already been initiated into two Tantric traditions) that was very effectively using those techniques, many of which I presented in Modern Sex Magick.
With this background, let me give some direct answers to your question:
1) My personal development had taken me in that direction
2) I wanted to share that information
3) I thought the time was right for this information to be integrated into the systems of those who want to use it.
4) Many people in the occult community are tired of "introductory" books. They buy as much as possible hoping that they will find something that goes beyond the usual. Unfortunately, from a marketing standpoint, such books just don't make it. For every 100 people who will buy an introductory book perhaps 5 or 10 will buy an intermediate or advanced book.
Modern Magick is a large book, going from beginning to intermediate. In order to write a book that would go from intermediate to advanced, I would have to literally re-write Modern Magick and include all of the material I had already published. Unfortunately, there are a few writers out there who do exactly that. I have seen entire chapters and illustrations from one book appear (sometimes slightly altered) in other books. If I did include introductory, intermediate and advanced material, however, such a new book would end up being close to 1,000 pages. This would be very expensive, difficult to market and difficult to use.
Therefore, by taking one specific subject and exploring more deeply than any other book previously published on the subject, I was able to present beginning, intermediate and advanced material in a book of reasonable length and moderate price.
5) I had been disappointed to find that virtually all of the previous popular material on Western sex magic had been either very sexist (the man does this and the woman helps) or so philosophical that there was really no practical information (when you are together and the energy soars then you can use that energy to enlighten...). Modern Sex Magick provided me the opportunity to share the philosophy behind sex magick (indeed, the section on theorems of magick and sex magick provides the theory behind all of magick as well) as well as explicit instructions. It also allowed me to create what I believe is the first such book on Western sex magick which is not sexist. I was lucky enough to have four excellent women sex magicians add information to the book.
TWPT: Is there an "ethic" to magick? Are there lines that should not be crossed as you practice the art of magick or is that strictly up to the magician to decide?
DMK: At the beginning of Modern Magick I use the metaphor of black, white and grey magick to provide such an ethic to the beginner: do the white magick always, do the grey magick when you are sure it will not become black and do not do black magick.
Later, I explain that this is only a metaphor. In reality, magick is magick. It does not come in colors. However, by the time I have introduced this information, the student should have already spent many hours in meditation and linking with the universe and the Divine. When you have this experience you come to realize that you cannot hurt others or the environment because you would be hurting yourself. This would be a stupid thing to do.
In Modern Sex Magick, however, I take this one step further from that idealism. Sometimes it is necessary to do something stupid. To protect your own life or the life or safety of another, I would do something stupid. I may face karmic retribution (in the Kabalah this is called "tee-koon"), later, but it would be worth it.
Thus, the ethic is based on the understanding that we are all, in some way, interrelated and united and that we are responsible for all of our own actions. These two things should, in my opinion, always guide a magician on his or her quests.
TWPT: What are the benefits to the practitioner of magick? Does the practice of magick bring about changes in the person who sincerely practices the art?
DMK: When a person is scared, exercising, in love, in fear, etc., the system is flooded with hormones which change the way the body works. Similarly, the CONSISTENT AND REGULAR practice of magick causes physical and non-physical changes. Here is one example of this.
Practice one ritual, perhaps the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram or the Rose Cross Ritual, daily, at the same time, for a month. You will find that people will start asking you questions like, "Is that a new shirt? Did you change your hair? Did you lose some weight?" In each instance, the answer is, "No." So why did they ask it?
The answer is that your aura changed. Most people can sense the aura, but in most cases, unless they are trained they do not see it. So they know something is different about you but they don't know what. So they guess that it is your hair or shirt or weight.
As I understand it, what we create on the astral plane (through ritual, visualization, affirmation, etc.) eventually must manifest on the physical. The changes to our aura eventually do change us, not necessarily our hair or weight, but our very essence, our very being. I believe it triggers aspects in our very DNA which can be passed on to people around us and to our physical children.
As such, magicians form a special class: people operating to help the entire human race evolve into something better than we are.
This means that to people who are aware of it, it is a virtual obligation to ourselves, our children and our species to do magick in order to help humanity evolve to the next spiritual level.
TWPT: Sex being the electric topic it is , isn't there the potential for abuse by the insincere who tout themselves as teachers merely to fulfill their own lusts? Any thoughts for those who are thinking of studying sex magick with someone and what they should be on the lookout for?
DMK: Many years ago I did an interview for a television station in San Diego.
They interviewed me for half an hour. I figured, as is typical, they might use maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute of the interview. That's the way it is done.
Practically on the way out the door, the interviewer asked me if any body would use the occult to sexually take advantage of a person. My response was, "Well, it could happen, but if it does the community usually unites to expose the fraud."
Of the entire interview all they used was the phrase, "it could happen." It was a direct quote but it also totally distorted my point.
Today, sexual abuse exists and deserves to be exposed and punished wherever it appears. But the fact is, the most common practitioners of sexual abuse come from people who have never even heard of sex magick.
Looking to teachers of sex magick or Tantra as potential sex abusers is like protecting children from sex abuse from strangers. While there are tens of thousands of child sex abuse cases every year (and probably many times that go unreported), there are relatively few cases where the molester was a stranger. You protect from a minor problem and leave open a huge door.
If there are 500 teachers of sex magick and Tantra in the U.S. that is a lot. The majority of them are fine people.
What should people look out for? Simple. Don't do anything you're not comfortable with and don't let anybody talk you into or intimidate you into doing something you are not comfortable with. This goes for joining any group or working with other people, whether it is the scouts, an occult group, a church or the PTA.
Oh, and if you are in a bar and somebody asks it you want to learn Tantra or sex magick, just take that to be the same as "Hey, baby! What's your sign?" Laugh at all such approaches.
TWPT: How does the magick that you write about in your books differ from the magick that is performed and taught in various Witchcraft, Wiccan, and Pagan groups? Or is it merely different in structure?
DMK: When I started with magick you could count the number of Wiccan traditions on one hand. Today there are so many traditions that it is really impossible to accurately comment on this question. A few years ago I witnessed an initiation ritual which was based upon acting out scenes from a Tom Robbins novel. What tradition is that? So, for me to respond would require me to be familiar with all Pagan groups.
Some Pagan groups practice ceremonial magick. Worship of the Goddess is their religion and ceremonial magick is their magical methodology. So, there is no difference between what I teach in Modern Magick and what they do. Other Pagan groups use magick oriented toward herbs, knot magick and things found around the home and hearth. Ceremonial magick follows another path. That does not make one better than the other, only different.
Ceremonial magick is a method of magick which is based on spirituality. It is not a religion. Paganism is a religion of which magick is a part.
I see no difference. Whatever works is what I use.
TWPT: If someone were to ask you, "I would like to start a serious study of magick but I have no idea where to start." What information could you give them to get them off to a good, solid start?
DMK: There are numerous places to start. What I would suggest is starting with various books; trying them out and seeing which one(s) especially appeals to you. Then, spend some time learning that system. Read and study everything about that system which you can. Finally, get in touch with people on the same path, either in person or by phone, mail, email, etc., to get support for what you are doing. Joining a group would be a possibility at this time.
TWPT: Do you need any tools to practice magick or is a sharp mind more than enough?
DMK: I would consider a sharp mind to be a most important magical tool.
However, all magical tools are simply gadgets to extend your own personal abilities. They are good for that and frankly, holding and waving tools feels very special to me. But by the same token, a magician can grow out of the fancy tools. I like to think that I have done so and just use the tools like a security blanket.
However, the end goal, in my opinion, is to be able to Will something and have it occur. Or even better, have it occur before you see a need for it. I have a long way to go before I meet those goals.
TWPT: Do the magickal societies of old still live on these days? And if so what are they like now compared to their peak?
DMK: There is a Taoist saying: Whatever is born, dies. Whatever is not born does not die.
Many magical groups that were started a century ago should have died out decades ago. Instead, they struggle on. Several things happen to them. The best ones evolve into something beyond their origins. These are great organizations. Some simply try to recreate the old groups. They are hero worshipers, not magical groups. Some try to be democratic and lose the spiritual impetus which has a degree of natural hierarchy to it. (Note that this hierarchy is natural and not an enforced political decision). Some are simply small groups to gratify the egos of people with egos already far too big.
And this is exactly like the groups were years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
TWPT: Is there anything on the horizon that we should be looking for from you, new books etc.?
DMK: I am currently working on a novel and screenplay. I also am working on a book on Tantra from a very different point of view. After that I have more novels planned, more screenplays (if the first one sells!), a book on the Tarot, CDs and a few other goodies! In the meantime I am also teaching computer graphics and am getting my certification to be a clinical hypnotherapist.
TWPT: Do you ever do personal appearances or teach at conferences on magick? If so how can folks find out where you are going to be in case they might want to see you in person?
DMK: I do give lectures and workshops all over. I urge people to support local events and I appear at as many as I can. Ask your local event promoters to contact me by way of Llewellyn and we can set something up.
TWPT: Are there any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers concerning magick?
DMK: Yes. No matter how advanced a magician you are, no matter how much of a novice you are, there are three things that you will have to do to improve your effectiveness: practice, practice, practice.