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The Green Lion Podcast
The Green Lion Podcast

Episode 3 · 1 year ago

Nicholas Chapel Part 1

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is part one of my conversation with my good friend Nick Chapel, a ceremonial magician, philosopher, and all around cool guy. I met Nick at a book store a few years back, and we have been friends ever since. I value his opinions and input on matters of the magical and the strange, as he has much more personal experience than I do, and always seems to come up with something good to say.

You can find Nick's blog, Hermeticulture, by clicking here.

Music is by the inumerable Horse Xaba.

I'm not going to be able to give you an answer. Nothing can be understood in lass. It is simultaneously viewed as both being what it is and what it is not. But you gotta stop and think about it really get the pleasure about the complexity, the inconceivable nature of nature. You'll have no one. I have no long now. Wot Are we going to now? We won't see what you mean. Welcome to the Green Lion Podcast, exploring the philosophy of the strange, one question at a time. I'm your host, Taylor Bell. Welcome back to the Green Line podcast. This is episode number three. Today I'm going to be talking with Nicholas Chapel. Nick is a ceremonial magician who has been involved in magical practice for over fifteen years. He has experience in her metic magic as well as other aspects of the western Esoteric tradition. Nick runs a blog called her metic culture, where he publishes articles which span the Gammut, from personal development, social justice, introspection and even the inevitable greased pig trying to define magic itself. Nick, how's it going? I tailor, thanks for having me. Doing good. How are you today? I'm pretty good. We are recording in your basement? Yes, we are. We've been friends for for a while now. I don't I don't remember exactly when we met, but it was it was some time when I was working at I've horace, I think right that we met it I have horace, and I remember I came in and was to hang out Taro decks and you had the prototype black on black deck that you had just designed and and we're working on your kickstarter at the time. Good Times, back back when I was innocent. And then we got into a talk about truthemian magic and and evocation and kind of bonded over that. Yeah, and so that that aspect of magic specifically, like my experience with that is from Rufus opiss book seven spears. Did you was that your first exposure to Trythenian magic? Were you exposed to barrets the Magus first? Or the MEGAS was actually the the first magical text that I ever purchased for myself? All right, this was back in the late S, I think. Okay, so, yeah, while ago. So that that was my first exposure and I started doing some work with kind of the planetary seals and siggles out of that. But in terms of in terms of more spirit evocation. That's been something that has been more in the last several years. For me, fair enough. How do you define spirit of vocation like? What? How do you look at that? How is it distinct from other types of evocation, like angelic, or do you kind of consider consider, or it all part of the same phenomenon? You know, I think there's a real definitional issue in in the landscape of modern occultism today, because I think by and large we don't have any real clear idea what the hell we're talking about when we use the terms invocation or evocation. That's fair. So for me, you know, I it is a fine line, but to me invocation is more it is to call a spirit into a place, to invite a spirit to be present, to call upon, whereas evocation is more summoning. It is I am trying to establish a communication here with this entity. I am trying to, you know, conjure this spirit to appearance or at least to conversation, and so that's that's more what I mean when I use the terms. Okay, I've got to follow up question for that, but first I want to...

...distract you and say what do you think about spirit provocation? I'm in favor. I've been an agent provocateur of vehicult. Yeah, exactly, just, you know, like yelling at candles, I guess, like Sam Block was saying recently in an interview I was I was listening to. But so with Spirit evocation and an invocation, like when you're dealing with spirits, have you, like what ways have you experienced them after the act? I mean I know that we have been a kind of we've done a ritual together with the summoning of an angelic spirit, and I know how that manifested. But have you, have you ever had any kind of physical or visual manifestations or you know, the only time that I've had anything that seemed like a physical manifestation, I was a spontaneous appearance. This was actually shortly after my grandmother passed away. I saw her out of the corner of my peripheral vision and turn my head. Nothing there. But that was that was as close as I've ever come to seeing a physical manifestation of a spirit. You know, of course you have. You have the leasowsky crowd, who who is very you know it must be physical appearance and and you have a lot of one true way as in there, but I don't know a lot of magicians who have ever had that experience, or certainly for whom it is at all common. I was listening to a recent podcast with Steven skinner where he was talking about, you know, he'll see physical effects, he'll see, you know, changes in the environment or what have you, but but not actually see that physical manifestation of spirits. And for me that's very much kind of consonant with my own experience. To me, you know, I will get very clear images in my head at times. I will get, you know, words in my head. That is you have. You have this idea of the voice that is inside your head. You know what you sound sound like when you're thinking and when something comes that is not that, it's recognizable. MM. So to me that's how I generally experience it. Yeah, that that makes sense, you know, and that is actually a really interesting way to put it. When we were doing that cassie'll evocation, invocation when we were convicting both they go when we were contacting Cassiell, that was something I was sort of playing the role the squire. Ultimately, I think we all ended up scrying and sort of like picking up these themes and and words and images, but it was the first time I'd ever really focused on doing that and it was I just remember I was sitting there and I started sort of seeing some things and I said out loud like, if I'm seeing things, should I say what I'm seeing? And you guys are both APPs, like absolutely, like, you know, talk it out and and that really changed my perspective on what it's like to contact a spirit because because, you know, growing up and especially, like you know, my late teenage years, early college, that kind of stuff, the idea of physical apparitions was always sort of impressed on me by by the people online who were telling the you know, the quote unquote right way to do things. And like you, I don't know the name you said, but those people who feel that Joseph less sky, Lesu sky. Okay, so I'm not familiar with him, but the that concept of like if you're not getting a physical apparition, then you're not doing it right, and that bothered me for a long time and really discourage me for a long time. But I'm glad to know that I'm in good company. So go ahead, yeah, it's it's one of those interesting things where I think partly we suffer from the fact that human language, I mean it's designed to talk about the things that we experience, right, I mean that's that's the way that language forms, and so for a lot of...

...these things that we experience at the liminal thresholds of what it means to be human, you know that this spirit contact where it's using these internal senses, but they aren't ones that we really talked about all the time and it's it's not something that we really have a lot of vertiage for outside of and of the realms of the imaginal and the imaginary. I think that simply having that that hindrance of language ends up being a real obstacle to us, even apart from from kind of the the question of of a prescriptive attitude toward how magic should be done, but I think that when it comes to that language, it's it's very difficult at a certain point to recognize when language is being used metaphorically and very subtle ways and when it's being used very literally, and there's really no good key to that. It's one of those things that I think, you know, we all just kind of have to figure out for ourselves to some extent, in part because there's so much mystification around it and so much frankly, I think some some gate keeping that that happens and has happened historically just in the magical community, gatekeeping in terms of definitions or the way that we are sort of using this language or what do you mean? So I'm thinking back to the the renaissance alchemists and the way that they used a lot of symbolical language. It's like there was a lot of there was a lot of kind of mythic substance undergirding a lot of that symbolic language. But ultimately, at the end of the day, a lot of the ways that language was used, in symbolic and poetic and imprecise way is was really intentionally obfiscatory. It was designed to conceal secrets from people who, you know, we're just in it, we're just in it to make a quick buck or, you know, a quick ounce of gold, as the case maybe. Yeah, so you know, I think too, in in the same way, you always have this contingent of people who you know whether or not they have actually had the experiences on their own, and you know you can always ask that question. But they, for whatever reason, you know, may understand what those metaphors are but may choose to continue using that language in way is that do more to muddy the waters and they do to clarify things. HMM. And that's you know, we've inherited this whole this whole cultural tradition, or cultural trope, I guess, of Magical Secrecy and and I think a lot of this is the legacy of that. You know, it has devolved from a a kind of, you know, nineteen century Victorian idea of the secret society into a more cliquish kind of linguistic sort of separation of culture. That's interesting. And do you see that moving out of that sphere and into a more open communication like, like, do you see in the future, I mean the possibility for facilitating more kind of like, I don't know what you'd say like, I guess, just like more open communication, more open interpretation of these symbols and and you know, quote unquote secrets. I mean I guess for me, you know, over the last over the last twenty years or so, you know, you see that happening. You see people like Josephine McCarthy is doing a lot of that work with her kary, of course, to sort of the obfuscate and clarify and very plain language, very straightforward, down to Earth presentation. You know what exactly her take is on what's going on here and you know how you do the thing. When...

...it comes to ritual magic and the open source order of the Golden Dawn. Really broke a lot of ground on that front. But I think you you are starting to see this this tension within the the culture of Western occultism where you have this kind of old guard of you know, more secretive, you know more solitary folks, and then you have, on the other hand, this very communitary and ethos that is kind of, you know, trying to open source this and put it all out there and say hey, this is what it is, or at least this is what I think it is, what do you think it is, and looking to make a more collaborative enterprise of it. That's very almost comparativist, I think. Well, when you know, when we're dealing with comparing notes and talking about this is my experience with this type of magic, or or whether you're working the quarry of material or your own material or, you know, straight out of regard he's golden dawn or whatever you're doing. When we're coming at these very similar traditions from different perspectives and seeing those differences and and seeing the commonalities and the similarities right, do you do see, like what are your thoughts on the variations that there are? Like, do you think there is one, quote unquote, right way to do things, or do you see that being open to interpretation? With I don't know exactly what I'm getting at here, but I guess what I'm saying is, as I've learned about magical practice, there seem to be multiple different camps that say these are the right ways to do things and and they're the right ways to do things because this is how they have been done. But then somebody like Josephine McCarthy comes along who's rewriting the book, so to speak. I feel like that gives us hope for a plethora of different variations on this theme. Yeah, and and I think, I don't know. To me, I think that when it comes to when it comes to those differences in approach between the the more one true way, you know, this is the right way to do this, this is a wrong way to do this. Versus a more what I'll call kind of open ended approach to it. I kind of understand both sides of it. By my nature I am a risk averse person and I think that many people who are a bit more risk a verse tend to get easily locked into a into specific set ways of doing things once they find something that works for them. And so, you know, I think everybody, everybody who is doing magic, figures out what works for them and from there, you know, you people, people definitely develop very strong attachments to their ways of doing things and you know, I think in some ways you almost have to develop that strong attachment to the way that you do things because that's kind of how the magic works through you. You know, it has to be inspirational, it has to be something that is compelling to you. But at the same time I think a lot of people can be very myopic in the way that they in the way that they pay attention to things farther afield of their own experience. I'll say so. For example, to me, you know, if you look at just the grim warwick tradition, look at the the quote unquote barbarous names of...

...evocation, right, so many of those are recognizable but so damn corrupted that there is no way of determining what they once originally referred to. And yet people still experience results with them. You know, I can take a look at the the Coptic that was used for the God forms in the Golden Dawn, at least in the the Stella Matutina per regard, and my God, that Coptic is crap. HMM. If you know, if you know anything about Coptic as a language at all, it is it is not something that is recognizable as Coptic to somebody who has some exposure to Coptic as a language. So that's poorly translated. Oh terrible. And so that's how I dove down that rabbit hole awhile back. But but you know, the fact of the matter is, if it's crappy Coptic, if it is, you know, unrecognizable gibberish in the the Greek magical pecure, you know if it's if it is the same version of the the Siglum Day Emmet, for example, or at least what came to be known as that. You know, in how many forms has it gone through? You know, so many different aspects singly and collectively in the grimmeric tradition have just been so change over the course of history that you know, if there were a set way that that had to be done, we would be screwed. But clearly the fact that these things were documented, you can see an evolution, you see a progression, and it's not necessarily, to me, getting at something that is closer to the truth or farther away from the truth, so much as these truths are things that exist only in communication. There are things that exist in the communion that we find with the spirits, with the angels, with the Gods, what have you. And so it's it's really difficult to speak of any kind of objective, one true way because clearly this stuff works in many different ways for many different people. So to me that's just a matter of taking a look around you. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people in Western occultism who are very insular and don't really like to take a look around them. Yeah, definitely see that. So you have talked about magic as a commutative, active performance. Is that? Is that accurate to what you have said? Going based on memory here or a performative act of creative communication? There you go. That's that's what you said. So I like that one too, this one communicative, active performance. I'm going to play with that. How does what does that mean to you? Like how how do you formulate that? So one of the this kind of goes back to, you know, the the the greased pig of defining magic, and you know that the definition that I came up with, you know, years ago. It's it's all right, it just it misses a lot of the point. and to me the point is really the why, though. You know why? Why do this? Why are we doing this thing? And you know, there are a lot of ways that you can approach that answer. But to me, if you're going to get down to an essential distinction as to what this is, it is fundamentally performative language. Let's take upon as a yeah, we're back now. There was a brief disturbance, but disturbance in the force exactly, but here we be. So when I when I talk about magic is being a performative act of creative communication, like what I I am referring to the the property of performative language. So this isn't it?...

This is a concept that I was introduced to by Patrick done in, I believe, magic language, power symbol, which is a great book Patrick Done, is his background academically as in linguistics, and so he talks about kind of magic from more of a kind of a chaos postmodernist stance. Makes a lot of great points. And one of the things that he talks about is the the performative use of language. So this idea is that, you know, you have your ordinary communicative uses of language, but there are certain certain phrases, like I now pronounce you husband and wife, right. There are certain things, you know, I I sentence you to this many years in jail. There are certain utterances that, through the utterance, by being official performance of utterances, they do things with communication. It's not just about communicating an idea, it is about doing something with language. So to me, magic is it's inherently about communication. You know you. I don't think it's. I don't think it's an accident that that gods of magic and gods of communication were always linked, right, and that communication can be with something outside yourself, it can be with something within yourself, but either way it's always a communication. Magic as an action, as a performance, as as a petition, it's always reaching to something outside or within yourself and to me, for something to be really magical, it always has to be creative, and that doesn't mean necessarily that it has to be, you know, inspired or interesting, although I think the the ambiguity in the definition there is appreciated. But what I mean by creative communication is that it is in this act of performative communication that we are engaging in a creation act, like we are, we are stepping into the role of the creator, as the magician, as the microcosm of the Creator, and we are making our stamp upon creation. We are doing something with that language to create something new or something different or to create an effect in the world around us. And very often it seems that that language is used with words, right, like like you mentioned those examples of a marriage ceremony or sentencing. But in magic we also use a lot of words, you know, and it seems that that's a very key component to it. But what about magic that's not done with words? What about magic that is use what a what about magic that is using emotive communication or or, you know, we were talking about earlier, symbols and images and these sort of like archetypal feelings. Is What are your thoughts? On that? Oh, absolutely, I think you're the nail on the head. You know, if just look at the number of sigils out there, I mean a Sigil is it is something which communicates, but what it communicates is not necessarily explicit. It's not in words, it's not in it isn't in you know, rational ideas. It is an emotive communication and my experience, certainly of spirit communication, is that emotive communication is at least as common as verbal, you know, rational like word based communication. So to me, having that emotive experience is it's part and parcel of that encounter. But absolutely, I think you can. You can, you can interpretive, dance it out, you know it ull shortly, what it comes down to is this...

...is this is something that is that you understand, as as a performer of this act, to be carrying out an act of creation in the doing, and sometimes that can be an emergent property of something. And you know, an act doesn't have to necessarily have magical intent to my mind to be a magical act. HMM. And and you know I depart from from Crowley. You probably on that count, or at least you know, if you want to get into talk about will and all of that stuff. You know, yeah, it absolutely has its place, but I don't know, I think that I think that in in casting a lens to narrowly upon the idea of will and, you know, the conscious, more more rational, more directed focused mind, you overlook a lot of this other stuff, this emergent stuff. Well, what do you mean by emergent? Well, so, what I mean is that when I look at more, if I had to give you my, you know, thirtyzero foot view take on how does magic work? Right, what I would say is that all of the techniques that I see, all of the all of the words, all of the prayers and the utterances, all of all of the trappings, you know, all of the paraphernalia about it, it's all designed to create a feel. It's not necessarily about creating an intellectual framework, and I think you can see this as you as you go farther back than you know, the last hundred, fifty years. You can see this more clearly when you're talking about more premodern, Maddic all of those techniques, whether you're talking about ecstatic dance, where you're talking about fasting or breathing, rhythmic breathing, whether you're talking about drugs, all of these things, every single one is designed, or rather it is impactful in the sense that it suppresses that rational, critical faculty that we have that keeps US grounded on our every day, you know, waking reality. It's creating a limital space, it's creating this this otherness, okay, and saying that in this otherness it is making room for things other than the ordinary to happen, to emerge. Precisely, okay, that makes sense. And the critical, rational kind of part of us, that is a part that seems to me to be fundamentally rooted in language and in verbal language, specifically right like we talked about about, like I think you was at the the left brain. That's yeah, the left brands, constantly trying to make sense of things. I should put a copy out in here. I'm not a scientist, I don't know anything about brain science, but you know, there's a part of us that wants to organize our thoughts in this very I would look at it as being very airy, very like. It's very elemental area. Yeah, I very like mind driven, very you know, focused on making sense of things, organizing things in like this aristotilion kind of way. Right but that gets suppressed by the by the emotive, by, you know, the feeling of it. You know that feeling where you're doing magic, you're putting yourself in this head space and this heart space right where you're kind of getting away from those those critical rational aspect and you're allowing yourself to be more immersed in in the feeling of it. Right. Yeah, and I think that's a really interesting you know, the way that you phrase that,...

...with with the emodo overtaking the rational. What it brings to mind is like if you've, if you've ever heard talk of like in in art, for example, the idea of the sublime in art and the idea that art might be experience, the encounter with art, with viewing art, can create this sublime experience, this this kind of ecstatic state in a person, and to me that's a great example of the emotive, like the the emotive impressions of this work of Art, overtaking the rational and the logical and and shoving that out of the way so the person can just exist in encounter with that art. That's a spontaneous example and I think that when we're talking about magic, to me, magic is all about intentionally taking those actions which will put somebody into a more receptive state to have that experience, precisely by suppressing that, you know, rational critical faculty that you know, Here's those voices in our head, or you know, sees these images projected upon our mind's eye and goes well, that was weird and walks on or, you know, says no, that couldn't have really been that right. Yep, you know, I think that. I think that a lot of magic, a lot of what magic is, is just getting the hell out of our own way. That's yeah, well put that's that's an interesting way too, and it is a hard thing to do. It is especially because we, you know, Daytoday, we live in this society, especially here in you know in the West, where we are so fundamentally driven by language and by that that sort of rational equivalency, right, like like trying to put everything into the neat little categories. But magic helps us get out of that in a way. You know, it forces us to write. And yet in some ways I it's you know, you have you have two basic strategies. This actually goes back to when I was when I was a religious studies student back in in the early two thousands, neuro theology had become really popular as a thing, and so you know what what I refer to when I talk about Neuro Theology is. You know, there are there are a few books the the one that I can think of, Aufhanda, is called why God won't go away. But there was this it became popular for a little while. It kind of crested the threshold of our cultural awareness where, you know, researchers were taking people who, you know, we're mystics or or, you know, experience meditators or otherwise, you know, could induce this spiritual state in themselves and hooking them up to like functional MRI machines or giving them pet scans or whatever, and and measuring their brain activity. And what came out of this is that there are, if I recall correctly, it's been a while, but there are two basic strategies to cultivating or to to inciting that religious experience. The first is quiescence, where you basically empty the mind, you know, calm the body, make every thing quiet and then, you know, make make yourself quiet enough to, you know, hear whatever is outside of you. The other route is hyper arousal, and that, you know, you talk about like ecstatic dance or, you know, it's a great example, you know, the in inciting bodily fatigue, wearing yourself out, you know, overwhelming your senses. If you want a great visual example for that, the golden dawn vault of the ADEPTEE. You know, you've got a seven sided chamber with Rainbow Colors all around you, with everything on the walls,...

...which is just kind of the the it's kind of the pinnacle expression of the the Golden Dawn ethos of overwhelming with complexity. M But you know, it's a strategy. I think the the thing that gets interesting is when people get so caught up in the form that they lose this substance. And I think you know people who are, you know, people like me who followed the the ceremonial magic tradition. You know that that path are especially prone to drinking the cool aid when it comes to the overwhelming complexity. Recognize, like not failing to recognize this is our best model, like this is a model that we're choosing to use. But models aren't necessarily reality. And if you're trying to talk about the infinite, you've lost before you've begun. So, yeah, you know, I think that can become especially challenging. But there are a lot of different options. I think we have a really broad Palette and the emotive and and kind of the non rational, I think, is not just an important part of that Palette, it's also largely the point. HMM, I wonder how how can we sort of get out of our own ways when it comes to mistaking form for function and and like getting lost in in the complexities of it is, you know, how can we remind ourselves when we are in those places? Because I've been there and I'm sure you've been there too. You know, how can we remind ourselves that what's really at the heart of it? What, you know, why we're really doing this? I think. I think anybody who follows the magical path it not only has been there, but spends a lot of the time there. You know, I don't think it's a thing that necessarily goes away, but I don't know. I think that. So let me confirm with you here. So we're trying to find the strategies for for doing the thing correct yeah, yes, and for avoiding getting lost in the specifics. I see. Okay, yeah, yeah, I don't know. I think the most important thing is just always to take everything with a grain of salt, which is really fucking hard when you're talking about magic because by definition, you know, you've got to buy into it fully in one respect in order to in order to really be present in it, to be there with it. You know, you've got to you've got to be in it at the same time you've got to have the authority to step out of it, and that's something that I am very much working on cultivating. You know, it's it is a challenge, but I think that part and parcel of that is not letting yourself have your nosis, letting yourself, you know, recognize what works for you, but not necessarily objectifying that, not not necessarily putting that as something that isn't just descriptive of what works for you, but something that becomes normative for other people. I think really, you know, magic is always a it's always a largely subjective thing. The agree with that. The encounter happens within ourselves and so trying to take any of it and make it objective to say,...

...you know, I think the best we can say is, Hey, this is what works for me and see what works for other people. See How our experiences compare and learn from it. I mean that's the whole idea of magic as an experimental science and I think where people were people get off track or go wrong is when they lose sight of the fact that magic is an experimental science and they don't become experimental with it. I guess, like for me, you know, I see a lot of people on the interwebs or, you know, in a discussion group or what have you, saying, I'm interested in this. How do I learn about this or what should I do in order to, you know, do this kind of magic or do this kind of work? And I think the the the decision paralysis that comes along with not knowing where to begin often comes from this idea that we've already bought into that there is a right and a wrong way to do it. So to me, a lot of my advice for people is find something that captivates you, find something that draws you and do it. But you know you have to. It takes a surprising amount of reconditioning and of of deconditioning yourself to be able to get past some of that baggage of thinking that there is, you know, one true right way to do things, even at the same time that you have ways that are deeply meaningful to you. Hmm, I like that advice. Finding something that that kind of jobs with what you're doing and and just do it. I don't know what that noise was. I thought there it was. So I wanted to ask you about divination. What I know that you have Paro DEX. Do you do? You read Taro, I read Tarot, I do astrology and I do geomancy and I don't do any of them super well, but it always seems to work out pretty well for me. Okay, so you say you do astrology. I want to come back to the geomancy things. Don't let me forget about that. But but astrology. What do you mean when you say you do astrology? I mean my experience is primarily natal astrology. I don't I don't have a great deal of proficiency when it comes to doing any kinds of you know, elections or you know, horrary astrology or anything like that. Okay, that's fair. I'm very interested in kind of learning more about, well, about both astrology and geomancy. I know just enough about election lostrology to to feel like I have some idea of what I'm doing when it comes to planet Harry Magic. That's that's what's better. That's probably where I'm at with it too. I don't I don't know anything about really houses or transits or any that kind of stuff yet, but I know what I'm going to learn. But geomancy. What was your exposure to geomancy? where? How did you get involved in that? So I first got introduced to geomancy as is elder in the Golden Dawn and part of the Earth grade is you learn geomancy because geomancy it's divination with the earth right. So it makes sense, sure. And so the materials that are you know, that come down to us from Regardi are awful. They're not anything that I would choose to learn with. Thankfully, John Michael Greer, blesses hard, has has put out a delightful book on geomancy that works really well and, like all of his work, seems to be very, you know, concise and cogent and well written.

But geomancy is it's really interesting. It's it. You know, I'm out of practice with it, but having done some recent work on it lately, I was reminded, you know, it's it can be a very good, quick and dirty answer that is less ambiguous than you would get with Tarot. You know, if you're wanting to ask a yes or no question, if you're wanting to get a really a if you're wanting to get a solid read on a specific problem, you know I have four colored dice that I throw and just do that to generate the the initial set of figures and from there, you know, the longest part of it is just calculating the the the witnesses and the judge, like what you're trying to get to at the end of the geomancy shield chart, right. But it gives you a very good, clear answer on things and it also gives you a lot of ability to look at the other parts of the chart and get greater depth into into the situation, if you want to so. To me, I like that. Tarot is is my go to when it comes to divination, but it tends to be a bit more open ended, a little bit, you know, a little bit more ambiguous and open to interpretation, because you know each of the cards has a fairly broad palette of meaning as it is, and you know you're really kind of as with as with any kind of divination, you know, but especially Tarot and astrology, I find that, you know, you're looking at all of these disparate pieces of meaning, and there is there is a Palette of meanings for each of these and you're kind of looking to see where where the commonalities emerge and you're looking. It's it's almost like one of those old magic eye poster is. You're trying to like, you know, Cross your eyes just enough to see when the stuff jumps out at you and what emerges m and so like that. That storytelling aspect of it, the what story emerges from these threads of the tapestry, is always a big part of divination. For me. That's that's a good insight. I feel very similarly, especially about Tarot being somewhat nebulous, and part of the reason I'm interested in geomancy has recently, it's been recommended to me, as as being something that's often a lot more to the point, a lot more accurate in terms of very specific kind of answers. Why do you think divination works at all? I guess fill first question. I think I know the answer. Do you think divination works? I had divination give me obnoxious results before. So much like astrology. You know, I approach everything kind of as an open to minded skeptic until I have some experience with it. Astrology want me over. So as divination. And why do you think it works? I have no effing clue. Perfect, you know it's ultimately, I don't really have any better answer than that. You know, I I feel a lot more irate about it with astrology, to be perfectly honest, because you know, you you have these you have these positions of the stars that aren't even accurate anymore, in in tropical astrology. You know, the the signs are not where they used to be. And yet, for whatever reason, it still works and it seems like it shouldn't. By all accounts, it seems like it should not work, and yet it works and I've had to just deal with the fact that. You know, I don't have a great explanation for this, but I see the results from it and I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bath water. So I just I just get to live with that discomfort. I guess it seems. It seems pretty similar to me to the idea of like mistranslated Coptic or mispronouncing the barbarous...

...words in these elaborate rituals where it's like, you knows, as far as astrology not being super accurate to how it used to be or or anything, or even the Taro, the Tarot has changed so much over over time. Absolutely, but yet all of these things still seem to work. Is it us? I mean, ultimately, you know, I think like any kind we like any kind of magical action. You know you you are engaging in a co creation of meaning. Whenever you do a divination, you know you have like just taking Taro as an example, you're shuffling the deck, you're drawing cards from the day, you're drawing specific cards. Those cards have a specific range of meaning, but at the same time it is your experience with those. You're drawing them at a particular time with particular things in your mind and a certain question and seeing how those integrate, how those fit that you know it's not it's not completely us in that there are definitely times when you know readings come up or when you know you get an answer in a divination. That is it speaks to the heart of the situation, and you can tell when it speaks to the heart of the situation, like for me, whenever I do the Celtic Cross spread, which you know is still is still kind of my Goto when I'm looking for a broad overview on a situation. For the cross portion of that, you know, the portion that represents yourself and you know the the past, foundation and and near future and the if I get anything in that part of the reading, that's not the staff that surprises me. Like generally speaking, Taro is obnoxious and it likes to hit you upside the head with things that you already know. It can be Super Bitchy if you ask a questions that you already know the answer to and it will delight in in smacking you over that. And so frequently the the cards that I get for the cross are very duh. It's like thanks, thanks, for telling me this thing that I already know. I can see that you're doing it, but at the same time I find value in that, in the it serves as a check on it to me. You know, if I'm if I'm seeing things that surprised me or that don't fit in that part of it, it's going to cast suspicion on the rest of it to me. But you know, seeing, seeing that first part of it laid out and seeing. Yeah, this is stuff that is painfully obvious already. This is not of any value to me in terms of figuring out what's going on in the answer the question I'm actually asking. It does, you know, allow me to be more open to whatever the rest of it has to say and to perhaps not invest as much emotionally in my own kind of results, because I find it hard to read for myself at times, as I think you know, probably many of us do. But but yeah, I think that, you know, there's always this there's always this collaboration of meaning almost between ourselves and the medium of divination. But at the same time, you know, at the end of the day, the meaning is created within ourselves, and so perhaps it doesn't matter so much what means we use, because it's kind of like staring into a cosmic mirror, you know, we see we see ourselves and we see the rest of creation reflected in it. And so you can, I mean, if you if you want to get, if you want to get a little bit, you know, crowly about it, at least as I understand was his position. You know, take Gamatrea. You know you have you have twenty two Hebrew letters and from that...

...you can get pretty damn near anything out of it. It's just a matter of how you look at it. So, yeah, it may be that any medium is a prism that just reflects something. MMM, I like that. That's a I like that answer. It's it gets at it gets at the heart of it, because it feels, you know, I think co creative is a really good way to describe it, because it is. It is this sort of dance that's happening between us and whatever medium or method you're using for divination. Are there any methods of a divination, any tools that you have not used that you are interested in learning? I'm interested learning their ruins. It's something that it kind of caught my interest like back back in my early teens, I would say, and it's something I never really followed up on, but you know, that's that's one area that I would like to do more work in. You mean that the elder food arc? Yeah, okay, yeah, that is a that is an interesting one as well. You know, I was thinking as you were kind of describing the way that we put our meeting onto the symbol sets, you know, kind of through our own interpretations and stuff. I was thinking about bones, bone readings, which I don't know if you've ever seen one of those, but they're very often not just bones. There's also trinkets and objects and stones and all kinds of things that end up kind of they almost become like a dictionary, right, where each each one of these things has certain ideas about it and they're they're very free form and they're there things that the practitioners usually pick up over time or are gifted or or whatever. It's not a method that I'm particularly well versed in. I don't I don't do bone readings myself, but I've seen it done and it is usually pretty accurate. It almost sounds like, you know, you're talking about these different objects that that have, you know, what I'm assuming is a very personal meaning for each person who, you know, who assembles these collections of objects, right, right. I think that's really fascinating to me. It's almost like having an oracle deck, except instead of a deck of cards, you have bones and objects and, you know, other it's, it's it's oracle cards, but in a variety of different form factors instead of being cards exactly. Yeah, anything from, you know, a penny that has a particular year on it to one of the practitioners I used to know has a little green toy fist that, you know, is it's just, you know, it's it's so eclectic and and it's kind of interesting. Well, you know that. I personally would argue that, you know, a lot of people who are doing that sort of thing are getting a lot closer to the heart of what magic is than people who are, you know, using, you know, off the shelf commodity tools, as it were. Yep, and you know, there's nothing wrong with that. Like I'm I have made my own tools. I have, you know, bought tools and use them. It's there's there's no right or wrong way to do it. But what I mean by that is that, you know, I think when you're engaging in that kind of very eclectic practice, you know you are not taking the option of of, you know, taking an absentee position on your own. You know, sense of meaning. You know you're not you're not worried about getting lost in the weeds because you're down there doing the thing. You're in it. Yeah, with with the symbols, with with the meaning, with the question. Well, I think this is, you know, some of the reason why it becomes so easy,...

I think, in the occult community, to leverage the the dreaded armed her magician epithet against somebody. Right, you know, I think we have this this this ability now to commodify knowledge and to with with the ability to to have all of this knowledge at our fingertips and to have all of the trappings at our finger tips, you know, and be able to purchase pretty much anything that we need for anything on the Internet. I think it has probably created a bit of an identity crisis to some extent in practitioners. As far as you know, I think we have in some ways this this weird idea that it always has to be hard, that it always has to be an ordeal and that that somebody has to have gone through the shit and there had their life has to have been as miserable as ours in order for them to earn this thing, right, and I don't know, I think that it's it's an odd it's an odd thing that I notice. Yeah, well, the definitely speaks to a lot of the especially like the I don't know what you'd call it, materialist purism of some magical practice, the idea that, like, you need a belt made of lions skin or or grim more purism. Yeah, yeah, that are like die hard by the book. It has to be this way, and some of that stuff, you know, I look for instance, the consecration of the black handled knife, you know, calling for the blood of black cat, stuff like that. Stuff that kind of gets into moral gray areas. Nowadays especially, becomes harder to acquire. Yeah, well, and I think you know, certainly our idea are more bar has moved a lot, particularly when it comes to, you know, the the welfare of animals. So absolutely, and and that's one of the things I think is interesting and kind of to your point, is that you have you have these lines that kind of come up. Like you know, I I have never met another practitioner of any kind of magic who is cool with the idea of animal sacrifice. You know, I think everybody who works grim more like magic pretty much glosses over that and find some way to substitute or somewhere around it. And you know, it reminds me a lot of growing up in Oklahoma. And I grew up in Oklahoma surrounded by a lot of southern Baptists and a lot of very conservative Christians who were the first to accuse people who had a different kind of take on Christianity than they did of practicing, quote unquote, Salad Bar Christianity. It's like you can't take and leave what you want. It's not a salad bar. And yet you know, of course, look at the look at the beam in your own eye before you try to remove them out from the eye of your neighbor. You know they they certainly conveniently ignored plenty of the Bible themselves. And you know, I don't think you can avoid that in a two thousand year old text. Sensibility is changed, times change, there's language barriers, and so I don't see that as a problematic thing, but I do think it's certainly it weakens this idea that things have to remain static, things have to remain the same and unchanging, and it makes me take a look at some of these areas that people are unwilling to compromise on and and say like this, this piece of equipment is absolutely necessary. You must have thread that is hand spun by a Virgin Girl. You know, you must you must have,...

...you know, your lion skin belt and made out of the real skin of a real lion, or it doesn't count, it can't fool the spirits appropriately and and it makes me go really, I mean in my day job I work as a hacker. My job is to try and look at something, to look at the structure, to look at at the walls that are put up and go really, does it really work that way, and to push it and to test it. And you know, it's not so dissimilar to me from magic as an experimental science. You know, you the temptation is always there, when you find something that works, to stick with that and you know you can do that. But to me a big part of it too is the experiment of it, the you know, we're trying to figure out. You know, we have this world around us that appears to us a certain way and I think those of us who have had these, you know, these experiences of the weird or the the supernatural or you know what have you, are always second guessing that to some extent and and always kind of looking at looking at parts of that reality and going really, does it really work that way? What if I poke it in just this right way? Right how can you break it? How can you exactly how can you bend it to a form that matches your that that accommodates your abilities, or or even just how can you see what's possible? You know right, it's it's sometimes you poke it things just to poke at them, sometimes you poke at them with a the desire to obtain a specific result. But either way, you know it's it is about that. You know, I I'm trying to remember who use this phrase. I think it may have been in and Walkeder. But this idea of sacred play, HMM, interesting, as in like the experimentation exactly. And it's a serious play. You know, it's not. It's not something that is is necessarily without consequence, or is is something that people take lightly. But playing with it, you know, turning it over, turning it around, poking at it, prodding at it and really testing the limits of it. And we know the layers. And to be fair, you know, we are all we are all finite people with finite energy and time, and you know, we don't we can have all of the time in the world and we will still not be able to plumb the depths of an infinite universe. So we all have to kind of choose where we're going to fight those battles and where we're going to poke at things and where we're going to leave well enough alone. But I don't know. To me I'm always asking that question in the back of my head when somebody says it's not done this way, it won't work this way, it can't work this way, and I don't know, I think asking the question as the best place to start. Do you feel like in this is how I feel and I'm wondering if you agree with with this. It feels to me that the limiting beliefs of saying you know it, it won't fool the spirits correctly if you don't have a belt made of actual lines, get or whatever the case is, right that those are selfimposed. Do you feel like they're there restrictions of society like are I guess what I'm wondering is, are those things that we can overcome easily if we are somebody who is very entrenched in those beliefs, or overcome it all? Well, I think the key to that is is the if you're somebody who's really entrenched in those beliefs, and I don't know, I think that we it's always an ecosystem, right, so I mean we always have our own kind of innate beliefs about things. We always have the the cultural baggage that we take on, you know,...

...we always have the kind of the views of other people that we internalize as our own and to some extent, I think, you know, the the magical journey is largely about breaking that conditioning in one way or another, and you know, there are a lot of paths that attempt to cultivate that kind of that kind of breaking out of those mental shackles more intentionally. But I can certainly say that you know, when you start having experiences that really surprise you, those shackles are going to be broken one way or another. It's just going to be. It's all a question of how challenging it is on your reality structure when that happens and how gracefully you take it. Yeah, but you know, yeah, and how humbling it can you know, it can be, oh always so humbly, which I feel as a good thing personally. I know some people who probably would disagree with that, but you know, I think anything that results in human beings being a little bit more humble as a good thing. Yeah, even though sometimes it can have the effect of tearing down you know, it's always it like breaks someone's heart, you know, to sort of come to that humbling realization that the thing they're doing isn't really the way that they expected it to be done, or you know what I mean. Yeah, I think having those surprising experiences, like surprises, can happen in either direction and you know, I think we all get set in our way, as we all get, you know, our hopes up for things. You know, we all were all human basically the end of the day, and I think that there is something about the nature of any kind of profound spiritual awakening or encounter that, if genuine, will always damage, in a sense, your idea of the world that you thought you knew. You know, it's even if in small ways. But to me those encounters have always been surprising in some way. You know, they've always they have always changed my idea of things. And in order to change, you inherently have to be open to leaving behind what you were changing from. You know, it's it's the whole tower experience, it's the death experience of the Taro, and the the other side of that is that you not only can you not have new life without death, but in order to experience new life. You have to die to your old life. You know it's it is the initiatory journey and Microcosm, essentially. Yeah, breaking it down so that you can build back up. Only knows that. It's the process of alchemy. Can Be like Biden and bullet back better. There I go, be the occult bidens cotton. Okay, that was part one of my chat with Nicholas Chapel. Part two will be coming out very soon. I think we talked for another hour or so, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Thank you for listening. Talk to offer now.

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