Shortly after the official beginning of my journey into Witchcraft I was blessed to be living in a city with a thriving and eclectic used bookstore. This is how I ended up reading both Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch, and Patricia Crowther’s Lid Off The Cauldron fairly early in my path despite both being likely out of print in the 1990’s. Both authors drag Aleister Crowley into their narratives, the first in a reputed encounter in her early childhood, the second posthumously kicking and screaming and tossing crockery about the house after a séance. This was right around the time I realized I really would need to read Crowley to get an idea of just what all the fuss was about.
Now even before I formally began my journey, I was a magpie for all sorts of folklore and information about the occult and things woo-woo and even Fortean. I spent hours as a kid pouring over an old Time Life series called (I think) Mysteries of the Unexplained (black hard covers with bright red question marks all over them) in my school library. I read every snippet and story and explainer book I could get my underage hands on, and a number of ghost stories and stories of witchcraft and magick and fantasy and science fiction. I had heard of Crowley previously, but something about the two previously mentioned books invocation of his reputation and memory finally set me towards reading him for myself.
I knew beforehand I would probably need to read up on Ceremonial Magick first, so under the advice of a friend who had studied CM, I read a couple collections of Essays by Israel Regardie, and Psychic Self-Defense and The Mystical Quabala by Dion Fortune. As I had also told my friend, I was curious as to the theories of how magick actually worked and wanted a better understanding in addition to prepping for reading Crowley.
By the time I finally read Crowley I had also gotten a good handle on some of the theories and ideas of Magic (or Magick, or however it is now fashionable to spell it…) AND I had developed what I call the GUI theory of Magick.
In reading those early 20th century occultists, and the writings of Witches and occultists of the mid to late 20th Century, I developed the idea of that I call the GUI theory of Magick.
Essentially the idea is that if part of what the rites and spells we engage in does is to access that part of our minds that is somehow connected to both the collective unconscious of humanity and to the divine or universes conscious, then we are basically using the words and spells and symbolisms as a graphic user interface to communicate with both the deepest parts of our selves and with the wider universe around us.
Now I am sure this is not an original observation, merely my own, but I have not seen anyone really compary the theories of how Magick works to the GUI which seems odd given my age and the times I was coming of age in. On the other hand I have dropped in and out of the cultural streams of Paganism and Occultism several times over the last 30 years or so, so perhaps I’ve just not read the right work?
Any suggested sites, blogs, and books along these lines are welcome in the comments!
Now the other aspect of magickal theory I need to touch on today, is the idea that certain rites and words and prayers can over time and with repeated and/or widespread application become etched into the group mind of the collective unconscious and perhaps even the fabric of the Universe to become singularly effective or useful applications. Rather like a quick app or a simple “If this, then that” program. Casting a Circle or Laying the Compass would be two examples of this idea, as would something like The Lesser Banishing Ritual of The Pentagram.
For now, I will leave you with these two ideas, which will I will be referencing in some of my narratives in the near future.
Bliss & Blessed Be,
Pax / Geoffrey