Thursday, July 24, 2008

DuQuette comming around?

I have never met or conversed with DuQuette. He has my respect as a writer: he is clear and entertaining, and has an excellent way of explained even the most complex subjects. I respect him also as a magician. He clearly does the magick he writes about, and that alone is worthy of respect. I do however disagree with his views on the nature of spirits and the importance of materials. I always have.

I am reading his latest book “Enochian Vision Magick” and enjoying it immensely. He does however push his view quite strongly. Some quotes from the current work:

“The only real changes I can effect with magick are changes within myself”
“Its all in your head, you just have no idea how big your head is”
“If you can’t make the magick ring out of paper, you can’t make it out of gold”
“In the art of magick, the magician must behave (at least for the duration of the operation) that the spirits are independent intelligences and have objective existence in a dimension outside of his or her own mind.”

In this book he is joining in with the scads of magicians that are looking back past the GD/Crowley lens that has affected most magick for the last 100 years, and presenting the system as it was received by Dee and Kelly, ditching much of the material that they stuck onto it, and taking seriously the parts that Mathers and Crowley ignored. He does this, he assures us, because it will help get you psychologically inserted into the system, not because any of it is inherently important.

The thing is, that I don’t think even he believes this anymore. I think that because he is a good experimental magician, that he took a look at the material that Christeos Pir sent him, and the info contained in Petersons book and began to work with it. Work with it and find that it works better than the GD/Crowley stuff. I think, and I may be way off base here, that it disturbed him to find it so. He almost hints at this himself when he talks about challenging his own motto “Don’t try to duplicate the magick Dee and Kelley used to receive the system, just use the system they received!”

Throughout the book he seems distinctly uncomfortable when he has to advise the reader to dig a little deeper into the view that Dee and Kelley actually held about magick and religion. He seems VERY uncomfortable in advising people to pray. I think he is pushing his “mind-only” view very hard in this book because of it. God forbid that we accept that the angels actually advised the ring be made of gold for a reason. No, it must work just as well out of paper because that is the theory. Gold doesn’t have any special magickal properties at all. Nope, Nothing to see here..,

In my experience, if it works it works. If it doesnt it doesnt. Belief has surprisingly little to do with magick. Enochian works because its REAL, not because its easy to believe in. Recently someone asked Dr Kioni whether they could use a spell that required a Christian prayer even though he wasnt a believer. I loved his answer: "The name of Christ commands all the angels in heaven and earth. It doesnt matter whether you believe that or not. It just does..." Opere Ex Operato baby.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the book is awesome, and possibly the best I have ever read on the subject. I admit to not having picked up Enochiana for almost 8 years, but there was a time when I was quite involved with it. The name Inominandum was given to me by an angel during an Enochian scrying session. When I did work with it, the more I cut out a lot of the GD protocols like drawn pentagrams and such and just used the calls and other prayers, the better I did with it. I wish I had this book then and am tempted to set aside a year or so in the future to re-visit the system.

Its a great book. I am just amused at teh legths that DuQuette is going to in order to keep his psychological viewpoint.

I will be writing a review of the book for Behutet when I finish it, but just wanted to share these thoughts.


Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...

I've greatly enjoyed "Enochian Vision Magick." I had the pleasure of having Mr. Duquette out for my ordination as a priest (and he actually took part in the ordination). At one of the sessions we did with him, he did the group Enochian Skrying he talks about in the rear of the book, with him reading the calls, and the rest of us chanting the letters outside of the Holy Table. The skrying was particularly effective, as people in the audience who had no experience with magick in any form were impressed by the experience of the skrying.

If you get a chance to meet Lon, I highly recommend it. I found him to be pleasant, engaging, and just a regular guy. I think he's on to something with the fact that the nature of the technology isn't so important as that the form is followed. Certain technologies are very material tolerant (writing, for instance: paper, stone, clay, papyrus, etc) , and I think Enochian magick may be one of them.

I cannot argue with effects, and even using a paper sigillum and ring, it worked fine for me.

Jason Miller, said...

I would love to meet Lon. I think he is a great writer, and his personality shines through in it. I love all his books and have benefited from the technical information that he presents so clearly. I just fundamentally disagree with his view on the nature of what is happening. Our experience, and probably our gifts of spirit differ.

I also agree with you that Enochian is very material tolerant, and I myself have gotten results with little or no materia. I think most types of magick are materia tolerant, but Lon makes comments that take it to a higher level.

Being material tolerant means that through sheer power and symbol you are able to get through. That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t get better results with proper material. Maybe I could ride a bicycle to California from NJ, but that doesn’t mean that if I couldn’t do manage to make it on a bike, I wouldn’t make it in a car.

By saying that if you can’t make the paper ring work you can’t make the gold ring work, implies that the gold ring is superfluous. The logical extent of the view is that the angels, which according to Lon are just parts of your brain, were passing along useless info. This is the take that the GD and Crowley approached the Grimoires as well. We can just grab the seals and names of the spirits because all the other instructions don’t mean anything important. Its all in the mind. The 72 demons of the Goetia are hardwired in the brain, as Lon and Crowley have both said.

This is a pretty common view in 20th century magick. "Its all in the Mind" seems prevalent not only in Ceremonial Magick but in Paganism as well. We don’t really need High John the Conqueror for the Mojo Bag, lets just toss some sticks from the yard in and pretend. Why do we need apostolic succession, says Calvin, it’s about the personal connection…

I might be wrong, but I suspect that through working with more of the stuff that is original to the system, Lon is changing his view on the “mind only” approach, but isn’t quite ready to admit it yet.

Alkhemia said...

Hello Jason:

Please pardon the uninvited intrusion into your blog, but I wanted to leave a comment.

In my humble opinion, this psychologizing of magic(k) (especially as rendered by Crowley in his introduction to the Goetia) was an attempt to crystallize "the method of science; the aim of religion." While being revolutionary for its time, this explanation for occult phenomena has snowballed into a bit of a copout. After all, if we can wink and nod about how the spirits are *really* a part of our mind, then we come across as slightly less crazy. :-) If our societal metanarrative tells us that history is progressing linearly, then we have surely progressed beyond such superstitious notions as spirits with an objective and separate reality. :-) To suggest otherwise scares newbies and seems strange for an enlightened 21st Century person.

I have participated in Lon’s Monday night Enochian gatherings and I second the recommendation to meet him. He’s a cool guy and someone that I respect both magically and personally. However, I do heartily disagree with his ‘take’ on the spirits. I also believe that working with appropriate materials is important, but my position is a nuanced one. When one is just starting out in magic(k) or if you are really broke, I have found the spirits to be extremely flexible. However, implicit in this flexibility is the idea that you will eventually procure more suitable tools/material. Perhaps this is related to a symbiotic relationship between the spirit(s) and the operator; a gift for a gift. Regardless, I can’t tell you how many people I know that are *still* using a paper triangle and other cobbled-together crap out of sheer laziness. I mean, I could get away with bear minimums when I was 16, broke and living at home, but now that I am 32 and have the financial means to obtain better tools, it is kind of my responsibility to do so. But, as you point out, the “spirits are a part of your mind” and “any tools/no tools” tend to be two sides of the same coin.