I recently called Joshua Ray Stephens book ‘The Moth or the Flame’ a ‘magical’ book. In a mail he asked me if I meant what I was saying, but of course I didn’t define what I meant with ‘magical’. Perhaps I should say ‘magickal’ as some people do, to differentiate from the Disney sort of magic, but I have always found that a somewhat daft way of differentiating. It was started once by Aleister Crowley, I think, a man who was as irritating as he was interesting. When I was a teenager, around 15 or so, I read all books i could get my hands on about the occult. For years and years I exclusively read books about occultism, science fiction and higher physics. At some point I finished most books and kind of distilled what I found interesting: on the ‘occult’ subject those were Crowley, Gurdjieff and Casteneda.
Now, of course that was a teenage fascination. Obsession, even, and I threw away almost all my occult books when I moved to Turkey because I could hardly bear reading them later on anyway. I had long since moved on to philosophy and poetry, and most occult works are simply not well crafted enough to keep my interest. Nonetheless these three people did play a role in the formation of my world-view, and many years of practicing their techniques taught me that the mind can be mastered in ways not taught in conventional sciences. I have practiced a range of techniques for more than 15 years, including asana yoga, hatha yoga, ceremonial magic, astral work, kabbalah, kundalini, castanedian techniques and so on. But ‘occult literature’ never interested me after I passed my 21st birthday. Whatever good these techniques are, the instruction manuals will always be just that, instruction manuals. And instruction manuals ain’t literature.
So, what the ‘mob’ defines as ‘magical books’ ain’t magical books for me. I really detest most ‘occult art’ and ‘magical books’ and for a good reason: good art is always magical, so whomever calls a work ‘magical poetry’ is somewhat insane or doesn’t know what poetry is. Yet, the same isn’t true about books. One simply can’t say that ‘all books are magical’ – that’d be a nonsensical statement.
A truly magical book is a rare phenomenon. It’s the synergy that does the trick: the design, the words, the shape, the colors, the intent put in it. A magical book is a very concentrated expression of someones essence. I feel that Joshua created something like that with ‘The Moth or The Flame’ – it’s a very special work that is very carefully crafted. Maybe we should rather call it a ‘grimoire’, I have always liked that word much better.
I keep practicing my skills and techniques, I spend about one to two hours a day on them. It’s greatly efficient since these skills allow me to completely renew or change my own energy levels. This is an extremely useful skill to have: recently I have been almost in a permanent state of being mind-blown by just about everything that surrounds me. But when I want to read magical books I have no use of ‘occult literature’ and neither do I have any desire for ‘occultists’, frankly: they are a rather irritating and small minded crowd. They are simply unwilling to question their own premises, which is the first requirement of any sort of progress. Besides, all occult forums I have occasionally visited banned me usually within a few days time, which I take as as good a sign of enlightenment as anything else.