10 More Questions with Gary Lachman

1. Believe it or not, you and I talked all the way back in 2009 about your book “Politics and the Occult.” How does your new book, “Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump” differ from that earlier work?

In Politics and the Occult, along with giving an overview of the relation between the two in the modern world, I also wanted to show that the association of occultism and far-right politics, which has become a kind of cliche, is not as necessary or exclusive as writers like Umberto Eco believed, and that there is plenty of evidence for what we can call a ‘progressive’ occult politics. Dark Star Rising is different, first because I am writing about current events – it’s a work of journalism to some degree, or ‘history in the making’ – but also because in it I am looking at what seems to be a rise of a form of occult politics in the alternative-right, both in the United States and in Russia. So in Dark Star Rising I am looking at some occult politics that seem to be happening on the right, here and now.

2. You draw a fairly direct line from New Thought to branches of Christianity (particularly Prosperity preachers) to Chaos Magick. Do you think any of these groups acknowledge their similarities and lineage?

One of the things that struck me as very interesting was that in terms of technique, theory, practice, and aim, there seems to be much in common between New Thought or positive thinking and chaos magic. You wouldn’t think that Norman Vincent Peale and Austin Osman Spare had a lot in common, but in some fundamentals they do. I recognized this when following up the idea that the alt-right had used ‘meme magic’ – via Pepe the Frog – to put Trump into office. Meme magic – using the internet as a way of making things happen in the real world – is an offshoot of chaos magic. Chaos magic differs from traditional magic in that it does not depend on the traditional methods and appurtenances, such as the circle, wand, sword, spells, etc. Instead it relies on the magician’s initiative, creativity, imagination, and will.

Chaos magicians use whatever is at hand, rather in the manner of an objet trouve, or found art, when some ordinary item is taken out of context, placed in another, and called ‘art’. What is most at hand today is the internet and the memes that propagate on it. The idea is that Pepe became a kind of hyper-sigil, or magical symbol or spell, and by saturating the internet with images of him, the people behind this believed they could affect the outcome of the election. And it seemed it did – Trump won. This was why Richard Spencer claimed that “we” – the Pepeists of the alt-right – “willed” him into office.

Now, Trump himself is a devotee of positive thinking; Norman Vincent Peale was a mentor, he says. Peale’s positive thinking comes in an upbeat, cheery Christian wrapping, rather different than chaos magic, but what he is actually getting at is not that different. Both are results oriented, positive thinking aiming at a “realizable wish,” and chaos magic at an “achievable reality.” Both have a very flexible attitude toward facts – in fact our attitude toward facts is for both more important than the facts themselves. There are other similarities. So we have Trump the positive thinker being helped into office by alt-right chaos magicians. But then, what word characterizes Trump’s presidency so far? I’d say chaos and I think others would too. And then Pepe of course turns out to be Kek, the ancient Egyptian god of chaos…

So in answer to your question, no, I don’t think that,say, people following the prosperity gospel know that in some basic way, what they are about is not very different from what a chaos magician may get up to. Some of the more Christian of them would most likely be appalled. In fact many Christian thinkers were appalled by Peale because of the links between positive thinking and more outright occult forms of New Thought, which Peale read and which he translated into a more palatable form. And I should point out that I’m not saying that there is a direct line in any historical sense, between positive thinking and chaos magic, but that what we can call the phenomenology of the magic involved is similar.

3. Are these things, such as New Thought, etc. inherently “bad”?

By asking if New Thought is bad, you have to decide in what sense you are asking this. If you dismiss the idea that New Thought can work, then what’s bad about it is that it is false and, like other scams, can harm people who get involved with it. But if you accept the basic premise that the mind, consciousness, in some way that we do not fully understand, is an active agent in the world and can affect it – that “thoughts are things” – then we enter a different area. This is where the notion of a responsibility of the imagination – as Owen Barfield called it – comes in. And this is something that practically all esoteric, spiritual, what have you traditions make clear. So if it is the case that, unlike Vegas, what happens in the mind doesn’t necessarily stay there, then it becomes rather important to be aware of what’s happening in the mind. Of course, from our rational, scientific perspective, this is nonsense. But as I say in the book, it is precisely this perspective that is being, or has been, undermined in our post-truth, alternative fact world – which is itself the result of a process that started early in the last century. The partitions separating what is possible from what is not are thin, just as the membranes separating fact from fiction, truth from falsehood, reality and fantasy, are dissolving. I’d say we have a responsibility now to be aware of this.

4. “Dark Star” is quite informative for those unfamiliar with Chaos Magick. Would you mind giving my readers a brief description of what Chaos Magick is?

I think I’ve given that in 2.

5. So, is the alt-right filled with unintentional magick users?

Ditto.

6. Several magick groups have been supporting and promoting group rituals to counter the effects of a Trump presidency. Do you think these can have any effect?

I know that the global “binding spell” cast to impede Trump and all those who abet him, goes on, and that there are other forms of what’s being called the “magical resistance.” Will it help? That is usually the first thing people ask. But as realistic magicians know, there are always many different forces at work, and what needs to be aimed it is, as I mention above, a “realizable wish” or ” achievable reality.” Which means, ironically enough, don’t expect miracles. But the idea of magical political opposition has been around for a long time. That was one of the points of Politics and the Occult – that the two are not as strange bedfellows as we might at first think. Did the witches put a monkey wrench into Trump’s first shot at the travel ban?

7. With such a fast-changing Presidential administration, and the inherently slower pace of writing and publishing a book, how much has changed between writing the book and now? Will you consider a book with timely subject matter again?

The main change since writing the book has been Steve Bannon’s exit from Trump’s inner circle. I finished the book last August. A lot happens very quickly these days – that, as we all know by now, is the fluid character of our time – and not long after I delivered it I knew that some of it would be old news by the time it appeared. I was able to add a short note at the end to say precisely this. But as I say above, this is ‘history in the making’. It struck me, as I’m sure it did other people, that with Trump’s election, something very different had taken place. In the book I say that in one sense we can see this as the singularity people have been waiting for for awhile now. A singularity is an event in which our usual, normal ideas about reality breakdown, or at least no longer apply. It strikes me that this is precisely what has happened, and we have our post-truth, alternative fact world to show for it. A world in which there is very little difference between reality and its electronic representation. This too is the result of a process that got going more than a century ago. We are feeling the effect of what I call “trickle down metaphysics.” The post-everything world is the outcome of the nihilism that the philosopher Nietzsche saw was irrevocably on its way back in the 1880s. The relativity of all values that we welcome as a liberation from the dominance of western rationality, is exactly what Nietzsche said was coming. To see this happening is disturbing but also thrilling. History has caught up to us.

In fact I am working on a follow up book about Russia but I can’t say more than that now.

8. In the mid-nineties you moved from the U.S. to London. How do think America and Britain compare when it comes to politics and magick?

I think Americans believe in the possibility of political change – or at least used to – more than Brits, but the Brits have a longer tradition of magic. But when Americans do occult politics, they do it up right. In October 1966, during the anti-Viet Nam War march on Washington, Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsburg tried to levitate the Pentagon, while the filmmaker and magician Kenneth Anger tried to exorcise it. The Brits are mostly just worried about Freemasons.

9. Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with my readers?

Covered in 7.

10. Parting shot! Ask us at The Magical Buffet any one question.

What do you think? New Thought, positive thinking, chaos magic – do they work?

Indeed I do. You see the power of the placebo effect and you learn that the human mind is capable of pretty amazing things.

About Gary Lachman:
Gary Lachman is the author of many books on consciousness, culture, and the Western esoteric tradition, including “Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work”, “A Secret History of Consciousness”, and “Politics and the Occult”. He writes for several journals in the US and UK and lectures on his work in the US and Europe. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he has appeared in several radio and television documentaries. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, Lachman was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Are you still reading? Congratulations because you’re about to learn about our giveaway! That’s right, the kind folks at TarcherPerigee gave me an extra copy of Lachman’s new book “Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump” to give to one lucky reader! The giveaway will end Sunday, June 3rd at 11:59pm Eastern. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Open to international readers.

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Astrology in Different Cultures

Do you guys remember when I shared “Astrologically Inspired Cocktails”? Well it turns out an astrology website in Australia did and reached out to me. They were like, hey, that’s a fun little infographic you shared. We’ve got one about astrology in different cultures, are you interested? Duh, of course I was and here we are.

So a big thank you to the folks at Astrology.com.au for the cool looking infographic to share! You should check out the full article on their site!

Astrology in Different Cultures

Traditional Magic Spells for Protection & Healing Review and Giveaway

I have a hard time writing reviews for Claude Lecouteux’s books. They’re all dense tomes of knowledge, meticulously researched, and loaded with excerpts and references from medieval texts. One doesn’t casually breeze through one of his books, you slowly follow the path that he lays out before you. And his latest “Traditional Magic Spells for Protection and Healing” is no exception.

As usual Lecouteux turns his scholar’s eye towards highlighting the intersection of Christianity and Pagan beliefs, this time with medical practices tossed in. In medieval times health issues were a matter of body, the spiritual world, and spiritual concerns. Not only does Lecouteux outline means of diagnosis, but addresses the cures whether you’re being afflicted with an evil spell, or tormented by a demon. Incantations against wolf bite, using alum in water to help someone regain their speech, charms against demons, and obviously so much more!

“Traditional Magic Spells for Protection and Healing” is a must for magic nerds like myself. Honestly, every Claude Lecouteux book is a must own.

You can learn more here.

Guess what? Due to a mix up at Inner Traditions I have a copy of “Traditional Magic Spells for Protection and Healing” to give away!

The winner will be selected via the Rafflecopter contest below on Sunday, April 29th at 11:59 PM Eastern time. Good luck!

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10 Questions with Judy Hall

1. What first sparked your interest in crystals?

I’ve been attracted by crystals since I was very small. My grandparents lived in the English Lake District and I spent a lot of time walking there with my grandfather picking up ‘shiny things.’ I amassed a wonderful collection of Quartzes. Later I found a rather strange mineral shop in Southend and bought masses of crystals from him. However, he wouldn’t identify anything so, when I found there was no crystal directory available, I ended up writing The Crystal Bible to record my experiences with them. Things snowballed from there.

2. What’s your favorite thing about working with crystals?

I love to work intuitively with them so that they can reveal themselves to me. I’ve been an astrologer for fifty years and always placed crystals on birthcharts when doing karmic readings to balance out the energies. This expanded into sharing them with workshop participants. Now I spend a great deal of time talking to crystal skulls and crystal dragons. It takes me into the multidimensional multiverse, a great place to explore.

3. You’re written so many books about the world of crystals, what sets your latest book, “The Crystal Seer” apart from the others?

(Judy Hall refrained from answering this question, so allow me to insert a little info/review here.) “The Crystal Seer” features content from Hall’s previous release “101 Power Crystals”. It is compact, full color 176 pages of beautiful photos and of course loads of info about crystals! It is a sturdy hardcover that will travel well in purses and messenger bags for crystal identification on the go. It’s good stuff!

4. These days you’ll find crystals in everything from skincare to bottled water. Do you find this further infusion of crystals into items beyond jewelry a good thing?

Crystals have always been in the most surprising of places, even the sparkplugs in your car and the paint on your walls. So this expansion doesn’t surprise me. But, as I believe that there is no such thing as ‘one crystal fits all’ I do feel you need to find the right product for you in order to gain benefit.

5. What’s one of your favorite crystals, and why?

The one crystal I wouldn’t be without is a Brandenberg Amethyst. It literally does everything I could ever require of it – and more.

6. Where do you get most of your crystals? (stores, websites, rock shows, etc.)

From all over the place! I still go out and pick them up from a very special crystal mountain – and any beach I happen to be on. I also buy from trusted websites, wholesalers, rock shows, favourite stores. I’m fortunate in that I’m often sent new crystals to assess. There are some lovely crystal suppliers out there.

7. If someone wants to start using crystals, where do you think they should begin?

Well, once they’ve cleansed and asked the crystal to work with them (how to do this is on my website www.judyhall.co.uk and in virtually all my books), I suggest they ask the crystal how it wants to work with them. Learning to listen to your crystals brings out the best in them. Having said that, I do have an online crystal course and several books that teach the basics. After that, you can follow your heart. Oh yes, and buy my Crystal Companion, it’s the best guide I’ve written. (see no.9)

8. What do you do when you’re not working with, or writing about, crystals?

I visit sacred sites, which are one of my great passions, although of course that often involves crystals (see my Crystals and Sacred Sites book). Quite often from the comfort of my armchair courtesy of a crystal. I travel as often as possible as I really enjoy seeing new places. I’m just off to see some amazing huge rock balls in Romania that are, allegedly, still growing. Really looking forward to that! I also play as often as possible with my great granddaughter who is four, that’s a great way to take a different view of the world. I devour books and I enjoy splashing paint on canvass to see what occurs.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers can look forward to?

Yes, my ‘Crystal Companion’ came out on 5th April. This is a book I am really excited about. It brings together information on crystals, introducing many of the latest finds, with how I personally work with them. It’s been colour-themed for the various areas of life in which you can use crystals so if someone works through it they’ll have explored just about every crystal possibility.

10. Parting shot! Ask us at The Magical Buffet any one question?

Well, rather than a question, I have a suggestion. How about asking all your subscribers to dedicate a crystal to world peace and hold it for just a minute a day. It could make such a difference at this troubled time.

(You heard the lady!)

About Judy Hall:
Judy Hall (Dorset, England) is a successful Mind-Body-Spirit author with over 45 MBS books to her credit including the million copy selling “Crystal Bible (volumes 1 and 2)”, “Encyclopedia of Crystals”, “101 Power Crystals”, “Crystals and Sacred Sites”, “The Crystal Seer”, “Crystal Prescriptions”, and “The Crystal Wisdom Healing Oracle”. A trained healer and counselor, Judy has been psychic all her life and has a wide experience of many systems of divination and natural healing methods. Judy has a B.Ed in Religious Studies with an extensive knowledge of world religions and mythology and an M.A. in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at Bath Spa University. Her expertise are past life readings and regression; soul healing, reincarnation, astrology and psychology, divination and crystal lore. Judy has appeared four times in the Watkins list of the 100 most influential spiritual living writers and was voted the 2014 Kindred Spirit MBS personality of the year. An internationally known author, psychic, and healer, Judy conducts workshops in her native England and internationally. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. You can learn more about her and her work at her website.

Witches & Wizards

You may remember when I wrote about “Human Tribe” I suggested that perhaps it’s my nosy nature but I’m always curious about people. Let me add that I’m particularly interested in the lives of historic magical practitioners, which is why when offered the chance to read “Witches and Wizards: The Real-life Stories Behind the Occult’s Greatest Legends” by Lucy Cavendish I jumped at the chance.

Let me start with, any of the subjects in “Witches and Wizards” is worthy of a whole book unto themselves. Many of them do have whole books dedicated to them! However something about the mix of types and eras makes for an interesting “big picture” look at magical practitioners that shaped our world. Inside you’ll read about Merlin, Aleister Crowley, Doreen Valiente, John Dee, the witches (or not witches) of Salem, Massachusetts and of course more.

I hate to sound like a total book nerd, but I also love the physical format of the book too. It’s small, hardcover with no slip cover, just a cover with beautiful cover art on it. This book is going to last, and better still it says, “The Supernatural Series Book One” at the top. This hopefully means I can look forward to a shelf full of these attractive and interesting books.

You can learn more about “Witches and Wizards” here.

Practical Magic Review and Giveaway!

Let’s be totally real here. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of beginner’s guides to magic and witchcraft. I could easily recommend a couple before ever having read “Practical Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells” by Nikki Van De Car. However I’m here to tell you that THIS is the one you give to others (and possibly as a gift to yourself too).

“Practical Magic” briefly touches on every little thing that floats in the realm of magic. Chakras, herbs, crystals, astrology, Pagan holidays, auras, tarot, lucid dreaming, and even more are covered in this 176 page book. The author’s writing is clear and accessible. She makes every topic interesting and a thing you would want to explore more in depth.

The reason this is THE gift to give is not only the broad scope, but this book is BEAUTIFUL. I mean absolutely stunning. Hard cover, heavy paper stock, full color and loaded with fabulous illustrations by Katie Vernon. The whole look of the book is magical in appearance.

This photo doesn't do the art justice.

This photo doesn't do the art justice.

Not to get all infomercial on you, but wait, there’s more! You know how stores have those irresistible little boxes with different themes at the checkout? I’m a sucker for those and there is one that goes with “Practical Magic”! This little gem is packed with goodies: a piece of rose quartz and tiger’s eye, a fill in astrological chart with adorable stickers, three sheets of temporary tattoos, and of course a tiny 48 page book to help you put it all to use!

Look at all of it!

You can learn more about “Practical Magic” here: http://www.runningpress.com/book/practical-magic/9780762463077

But don’t leave this post yet! The great folks at Running Press gave me a “Practical Magic” book and kit to give away to one lucky Magical Buffet reader! Just do what the nice Rafflecopter below asks and you’ll be entered! Starts now, ends at 11:59pm Eastern time on Sept. 4, 2017. Open internationally, must be 18 or older to enter.

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