Featured image: Me. Photo by Michael Warshall Picturemaker
I’ve been pagan for as long as I can remember. Although I wasn’t raised within a strict religious household, during my school years I was put into scripture classes (back in the mid-80s, where the idea of non-religious people was considered heretical, and everyone MUST be shuttled into a scripture class) and I learned about the tenets of Christianity. All the biblical stories, though they made for good storytelling, weren’t my cup of tea. I was a bit miffed at the lack of female protagonists in any of the biblical tales, and pretty much called bullshit on the Immaculate Conception.
Who is old enough to remember the Golden Circle encyclopaedias? Yeah, my brother and I had a full set of those encyclopaedias, and I went straight to “M” and looked up myths and legends. My 7-year-old self was excited to discover that before the advent of Christianity, people worshipped goddesses as well as gods. I read about the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Celtic gods and goddesses, and at the end of the piece I wondered, “How come people don’t worship these gods any more?”
Fast forward to 1993, and I found my answer. I met a practitioner of Wicca, and wanted to know more. I asked, and my questions were answered – Nobody ever stopped worshipping the gods and goddesses of old. They just went into hiding. Then in 1995, a New Age bookstore opened in my home suburb in western Sydney, and I was able to get my hands on a few books on Wicca to learn more about it. I bought the book Wicca: The Old Religion for a New Millenium by Vivianne Crowley, and from that moment I knew I had found my path. My classmates insisted that I was a “devil-worshipper” (news flash – there’s no devil in Wicca), and although I tried to explain to them that that’s not what Wicca is, they wouldn’t listen, so I stopped wasting my time with trying to correct them and let them continue to bask in their own ignorance.
Throughout the time I lived in Sydney, I was aware of Aleister Crowley and his works, but at the time, his works were difficult to find. The Internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, online shopping hadn’t really taken off yet, and new age stores willing to stock Crowley’s and other like works were few and far between, and even if I did find it, it cost an arm and a leg. It was easier to get hold of a copy of The Satanic Bible by Anton La Vey, and I was able to land a copy of it in 2000. That book was an eye-opener. I am aware of some accusations of plagiarism on La Vey’s part, but this is not the time or the place to discuss this. This article (link) is a better place for it. Even today, I have a lot of respect for Satanists, even moreso than some Christians.
It wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne, that I was able to get hold of some more in-depth books and get some more hands-on experience in the magickal arts. Before then, there weren’t many ceremonial magicians around in Sydney, and if there were, they kept their existence a tightly-kept secret. They were as elusive as those Crowley books.
As far as experiences in the supernatural, probably my first was when I was about five or six years old. I was sitting in the lounge room with my brother, and I noticed my brother’s toy tanker truck behind the home bar (it was technically a bar for keeping alcohol, but wasn’t being used for anything at the time), which seemed to have been pulled behind the bar. I thought that it was my brother behind the bar, but he was in the room in plain sight. I saw it disappear behind the bar and it freaked me out, so much that I ran into my parents’ bedroom and jumped onto the bed while they were sleeping. I looked over my shoulder towards the open door, and saw a shadowy figure move down the hallway. We moved out of that house a couple of years after, and didn’t have any other experiences with the supernatural up until my move to Melbourne.
After being initiated into a ceremonial magick order at the end of 2009, things really began to get interesting. I would occasionally be woken up between the hours of 2am and 4am, and I would sense a spirit standing in the bedroom doorway. Once I felt the presence of two spirits that appeared in the image of an Indian couple, and at the time there were Indian students living next door. There was nothing threatening or malicious about these spirits, but they sure startled me by turning up in my flat and waking me up at that hour of the morning! I asked them to leave, and they left almost immediately. They haven’t been back since, so it could be possible that they were ancestral spirits of my then-neighbours.
When I travelled to Germany, Belgium, Norway and Sweden in October/November 2011, I was expecting at least one supernatural experience, given the rich history of Europe generally. I spent three days in Berlin, and during that time I visited the Berlin Wall Monument. I later spotted a cemetery behind the monument, which was bigger but part of it had been moved to accommodate the Berlin Wall and the subsequent monument built in its place. I went for a little stroll through the cemetery, inspecting all the graves and family mausoleums. Some time had passed and I checked the time on my phone. It was in 24-hour time and I misread the time 13:00 as 3pm, and I wanted to get to an army surplus store before it shut. As I was bundling my camera back into its carry bag, I felt something pull at my hand, like a child’s hand pulling at my hand. I was the only one in the cemetery, and that moment I was like, “Nope!” and hurried out. Whatever was there was sad to see me go, but afterwards I checked the time again and had my “D’oh!” moment when I realised it was earlier than I first thought.
And my life with the spirits… well, my experiences are probably nowhere near as exciting as Lon Milo DuQuette’s adventures in his memoir My Life with the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician – but then, I’m much younger than DuQuette so there’s probably more adventures for me to come.
The most memorable experience I have had so far, was in 2010 at a invocation/evocation workshop at the Esoteric Bookshop, when their shop was based in Murrumbeena. On that particular evening, I was scheduled to interview Erik Danielsson from Watain for Metal Obsession (the resulting interview can be viewed here), but there was time for summoning an angel or other spirit that David, the workshop organiser, had planned on beforehand. We started with the usual pre-summoning rituals, and a guided meditation to get “in the zone”. Once we got into that meditation, I saw a vision of clouds. Then, I saw a group of dragons, one red dragon. The red dragon saw me, winked at me, then scooted away!
When it was time for a summoning, David asked, “What spirit shall we summon?” before choosing an angel, purely because its sigil was easy to draw. He uttered the words of power, while we all sat in a meditative state, to see if any one of us can pick up on anything. David asked, “Is anybody seeing anything?” Then I saw what looked like black wings, like that of a crane, and a voice asked me, “So, you’re interviewing this chap from Watain?” I asked it to show me his seal, and I saw the impression and blurted out, “It’s Naberius!” I snatched the book off the table, and another in the group drew an outline of the sigil she saw, and I pointed at it and said, “Yes! That’s Naberius!” David appeared to get quite stroppy that I was able to identify a spirit so quickly, so I flicked through the book and found the entry with Naberius’ description and sigil in it, pointing it out, while the other person in the group confirmed that it was Naberius’ sigil that she saw. David then said, “It wasn’t the spirit that we wanted to contact so we need to dismiss him.” He gave Naberius the Licence to Depart and went on to choose another spirit as though nothing ever happened.
My first attempt at an invocation at home was largely uneventful. I chose to invoke the Olympic Planetary Spirit Hagith. It was a few weeks after the events at the Esoteric Bookshop. I was successful in contacting Hagith – the first thing Hagith said was, “Turn out the lights! Turn off the heater!” Spirits don’t like electromagnetic emissions from electrical appliances, so it doesn’t hurt to switch off appliances that don’t need to be on. If you’re a ceremonial magician and you ever experience a power outage in your area, that’s an optimum time to get your magick on.
To be continued…