This post really is just notes, things I am thinking about and seeing where they will lead.
Archaic: From archaism ("ancient or obsolete phrase or expression") or from French archaïque, ultimately from Ancient Greek ἀρχαικός (arkhaikos, "old-fashioned"), from ἀρχαῖος (arkhaios, "from the beginning, antiquated, ancient, old"), from ἀρχή (arkhē, "beginning, origin"), from ἄρχω (arkhō, "I am first"). Via Wordsense.eu
Gordon touches on a quality of magic, that where even modern forms of magic- have a feeling like they are ‘the oldest thing’. Deep time. And I guess this feeling is what first informed my sense of of the archaic nature of magic and sorcery. I came into magic pretty ‘free’, being that among the very first books I read was Peter J. Carroll’s Liber Null & Psychonaut, which somehow allowed me to not worry too much about what the more entrenched viewpoints were about magic. My own practices got dirty (more on dirt, here) fast, with a lot of influence from Ramsey Dukes, Stephen Mace, Ray Sherwin and the Temple Ov Psychick Youth. As well, I have a predilection for sympathetic magic that runs deep, so I was quickly using a lot of found or built ‘power objects’ more than complex rituals.
These things and a belief that our sense of time (things like 4000 years being ‘a long time ago’, an idea that Star.Ships really blows the doors off of) is kind of screwy, plus some basic reading on shamanism and ‘primitive’ magic led me to believe that all of the modern forms of magic, like the grimoires, Golden Dawn, modern witchcraft etc., were all very recent applications of something very, very old.
The more time I spent thinking of magic this way and working from this position, the more my spirit contacts fed into this belief. And the story (we are little walking story machines, after all!) is one that exists in lots of places: Once upon a time the world was magical, enchanted. And we humans, also magical and enchanted lived in regular if not constant contact with other magical and enchanted beings, non-human, ex-human, what have you. This constant contact is that ‘ancient’ feeling you get hit with when you do magic. And you can seek that sense of deep time.
I seek for this primordial magic by attempting to de-story the work I do. If I remain aware that my mind seeks to make story from everything it experiences, internal or external, as I gain information from my relationships with the world(s), I have choices. I can try to fit this new information into the story-structure I already wear (I sometimes think of my beliefs as a suit of stories), I can allow it to change my existing story-structure, or try to step out of the story-suit all together and simply let the new information be what it is. I can at least try to not do much to or with the story. I can try to let it stand as it is spoken (metaphorically) to me. Deep story.
For example, I recently allowed my love of bones to replace nearly all the imagery (and associated stories) that live on my primary altar. As the skull pile grows, goat and cat a canid and avian, I have many options. I can dig into the storehouse of existing knowledge, mine or others, and say ‘well the goat means this and the cat is about that and the birds represent…”, which are all attempts to ‘story-horn’ the bones into my existing story lines. “I can redden the bones to link to my ancestors who did the same with ochre to represent x___” . More story. And understand, I am not at all against story! Story is perhaps the largest part of how I know while in this body. But I can also simply let the bones do their work, and tell me what they will. Perhaps the goat has nothing to do with the scape-goat, with the more modern witchy views of the goat, with the devil as the Christians give him to us in their particular story-suit? What if he or she is some other kind of goat-spirit all together? Perhaps she is an ancient body-spirit-memory from a hundred thousand years back down the family line, dressed in goat horns as that is the form my more recent ancestral streams recall? What if he is another kind of spirit all together, that simply happens to choose a goat skull for a house?
Perhaps it is another thing all together, another story altogether. Perhaps that is a far, far older thing.
I am not sure it is really truly possible to un-story completely, or that it is necessary or even desirable. But the practice for me is useful for allowing that archaic-ness, that depth of time to seep into my practices.
I believe many of the creatures that make up a magical symbol-set, skull, wing, cross, blade, spiral, cup, circle, speak to deep knowledge that is literally encoded in these spirit-bodies we wear. And they operate on us at that deeply encoded level if we let them. What would we think of all these things if we saw them with eyes untouched by the folklorist, the scientist, the magician, Near Eastern religion? Would they tell us the same story they tell us now? If the sharp edged weapon/tool is simply that, how many thousands on thousands of years before Excalibur or even iron itself is that tools’ magic known to our spirit-bodies? If the cup was always a bowl or a gourd or cupped hands and never a Graal, what might it suggest to us about our myriad lives?
Aidan Wachter, March 2016
Note: although I am not very deep into Gordon's book yet, so far it really cements Scarlet Imprint as far and away the most interesting publisher of esoteric books today. Fantastic work!