Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Traditional Evocation Question

On the previous thread about Lisiewski's evocation methods, golden-dawn-hermetic wrote:

We all work classical grimoires, many are pre-Agrippa and Dee. It is one of the classical tests of spirits. You should ask them to move a physical object to prove they are present during an evocation.

I realize that the last article I posted was a bit snarky, but I am genuinely interested to see whether or not this effect exists and whether or not it can be managed and controlled reliably.

I have encountered a few physical effects during evocations, mostly things like candles flickering in unusual ways when the spirit manifests, breezes, and temperature changes in the room, but nothing that would rise to the level of small objects moving on their own. What sort of objects do you normally ask the spirit to move? I suppose you could hang a pendulum in the triangle or Holy Table and ask the spirit to make it swing or spin. Or are you talking about something more substantial, like commanding the spirit to slide around or levitate an object like a small stone or crystal?

I'm going to totally sound like James Randi here for a minute, and I apologize in advance, but if the spirits you summon can really move something as heavy as a small stone, why aren't you rich? I know, I've belittled skeptics for making that argument in the past, because it is a serious error to assume that if if you can create any sort of paranormal effect you should be able to accomplish every paranormal effect ever reported without limitations of any kind. But there is a genuine reason behind my asking. Theoretically, a spirit that is substantial enough to move a stone around could certainly line up a few ping-pong balls in a particular order, and in our modern world that's all you need to do to win a lottery jackpot. Or am I missing something here?

As readers of this blog know, I do lottery magick from time to time. It's a really good test of operant ability because all of the probabilities are spelled out. We know the exact odds for matching one number, two numbers, and so forth, and this allows me to gage the evolution of my magical abilities and also evaluate the effectiveness of different ritual methods. The best technique that I've come up with so far is the evocation of the four Enochian Watchtower Kings, though some recent work with the Heptarchia Mystica has suggested additional possibilities involving the Heptarchial Kings and Princes that I have yet to test.

My best result with the Watchtower Kings is 4 numbers out of 6 on the Powerball, and if there's a set of traditional grimoire spirits I could be using who can beat that I'm all for it. Even matching five numbers wins you real money. I do find some of the traditional grimoire methods cumbersome and time-consuming, but what's spending forty days on an operation if it means that afterwards you'll have enough money to spend the rest of your life working magick rather than working a normal job that consumes your waking hours? I know I'd be willing to make that trade.

UPDATE: For those of you who don't follow Strategic Sorcery, Jason Miller has his own article up over there on the subject of psychokinetic phenomena during evocations. He makes several good points, as usual.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I originally posted this comment over at Strategic Sorcery and got no responses, probably because I added it to a comment thread that was already several days old. I thought about it over the weekend and I'm genuinely curious, so I'll repeat it here along with some additional thoughts. You may want to read this article first that includes some discussion of Joseph Lisiewski's Ceremonial Magic and the Power of Evocation, which is the book that the comment refers to. Here's my comment in response to Jason Miller's article:

Look at the work of Joseph Lisieski: he more or less picks a moment in the Renaissance and declares it the pinnacle of magickal tradition.

This is somewhat tangential to the discussion, which is why I didn't post it earlier, but does anyone here actually believe that whenever Lisiewski summons up a spirit from the Heptameron he gets all sorts of poltergeist activity like he claims in his book? He goes so far as to claim that if you don't get poltergeist activity, your ritual is a failure so you need to close down your temple for a month and do no other magical work.

Having done magick for a long time with a number of different systems I find that pretty hard to believe. The cynical part of me thinks that since you're hardly ever going to get poltergeist activity with a spell, the injuction about closing down the temple for a month means that you only get one or two attempts before enough time has passed that you can no longer return the book, but for the sake of the magical arts I hope that's not what's really going on.

Lisiewski seriously contends that if you do an evocation and you don't get some sort of physical manifestation like loud noises, objects moving on their own, and so forth it means that you haven't successfully evoked the spirit and therefore your spell will fail. Does that line up with anyone's experience? When I cast a spell I have no trouble feeling the "presence" of the spirit, but none of the stuff in my temple flies around and I don't hear a bunch of unexplained noises. To me an evocation method that does that just sounds sloppy, to be honest.

My initial thought is that since Lisiewski believes in doing grimoire magick precisely by the numbers without any modern innovations such as pentagram and hexagram rituals his style of ceremonial magick is sloppy, and I'm kind of curious about the probability shifts he can conjure up with the Heptameron. I've never used that grimoire myself, but I've worked with the Key of Solomon, the Goetia, and the Heptarchia Mystica. I've also done a lot of Enochian work based on the original Dee and Kelley material that should be closer to Renaissance grimoire magick than the Golden Dawn Enochian system, and I never encounter random poltergeist activity when I do conjurations. Do any of you?

From a probability standpoint I would think that poltergeist activity would be unwanted, simply because if the total probability shift you can summon up is M and the probability shift that would be required to produce the poltergeist activity is P, then it stands to reason that the final probability shift that would apply to the intent of the ritual should be M - P. You would therefore want P to be as close to zero as possible so that your intent is accomplished with the maximum possible shift. Maybe for Lisiewski it works the opposite way - with M and P correlated to each other - but as far as I can tell it certainly doesn't work that way for me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Changing the World

Here's the question: can we use our magical abilities to transform the minds and perceptions of others, and if so how? To clarify further, can magick influence others directly and on a mass scale? My answer would be a qualified yes, but the problem is that I'm not sure what all the qualifiers are. In my opinion it's one of the most important questions that a magician can approach, and the benefits of solving it correctly are too numerous to list. Through our practices we work toward awakening ourselves, but imagine what humanity could accomplish with a whole world of awakened people.

This article started off as a response to comment by Suecae originally posted over at Doing Magick. Since I know Suecae reads this blog as well, I figured I would take it out of the comments there and address it here in greater detail than a short response would allow.

With regards to the interesting question posed by Ananael. I don't think there are any easy answers, at least I don't see them myself. Earlier in my life I dedicated an extreme amount of time on political campaigning. A whole lot. In unison with that I studied political theory.

Did you do magick as well during this period to help you accomplish your goals? I always do when I have a political objective that's important to me. When done properly magick is the ultimate force multiplier. One person can make a difference, but one magician can do so much more with the right set of techniques.

I so wanted to change the outer, that the inner got forgotten completely. I forgot who I was in the process. Later the pendulum had to swing back, and I am not involved any more to any greater degree. But I still think that we need to change society in ways.

The real challenge in magical work is to unify the inner and the outer in a sort of dynamic balance. Macrocosm and microcosm are like the poles on a battery - one pole might give you a bit of a shock but to accomplish anything useful you really need them both. Furthermore, both should be of equal strength, because the limiting factor in your circuit is always the weaker of the two. When your focus swings like a pendulum between the inner and the outer you are simply transitioning between two states that are equally ineffective from a magical perspective.

Virtues such as kindness, mindfulness and evolving inner qualities is much more important for me today. By doing that, I hope that I can reflect this upon my surrounding in a better way.

And these are certainly important - I don't mean to sound like I'm diminishing the cultivation of inner awareness in any way. I just go further than that in my own practice and combine my mystical pursuits with magical exercises in such a way that I transform both myself and the world around me as I progress in ability. I want the external conditions in my life to support greater realization in addition to the internal ones.

Realization and power are closely related to each other, and while there are a lot of mystics with little interest in shaping the world around them by thaumaturgic means, I would contend that any highly realized individual should have the ability to do so if they so choose. Similarly, working magick over time confers some degree of realization, since the expansion of consciousness is a requirement for effective sorcery to work. Either you are focusing your own power, in which case your consciousness must expand to accomodate the magical tools, implements, and so forth, or you are acting through an intermediary, in which case you generally must invoke a godform of some sort in order to acquire the necessary authority to command the spirit with which you are working. Either way realization of some degree is inevitable.

The inner work remains important because while thaumaturgy will eventually lead to advanced realization, there are certain meditative practices that will develop it more quickly. Because of this the thaumaturgist should not neglect such inner work, but instead add it to his or her practices. Realization supports power - in effect, by journeying up the Tree of Life you are placing your consciousness in a better position and giving it a better lever with which to move the universe. As a result, you should be able to trace your inner progress by observing your outer abilities. A genuine spiritual realization may or may not increase the objective probability shift that you can create with a spell, but such a realization should never decrease it. An apparent realization that results in an objective reduction in power is probably a step backwards rather than forward.

I often say a prayer for the people who suffer from the hands of the vices of the world. I remember the rosicrucian motto: "To cure the sickly, and that Gratis." This sickness is not only mundane and obvious. But a deeper complex, I think.

In one sense any magical act can be thought of as healing, in that we generally seek to improve and perfect the health of every aspect of our lives and by extension the world. People around us who fail to realize the true extent of their consciousness could perhaps be thought of as diseased by ignorance or conditioning or social preconceptions, and with this in mind perhaps healing is the right way to go about enlightening the world around us.

That would be Mercury, to map it onto the Tree of Life, and I'm good at planetary magick. I think perhaps some experimentation is in order along those lines.

Slate on Witch Hunting

Slate has an interesting article up today comparing witch hunting in modern Africa to the persecutions that went on in Europe and America centuries ago and finds much in common between them.

The process, then and now, follows a strikingly similar arc of discovery. There is an unexplained death. A woman is blamed. Some local Jack Bauer is at hand to make her "confess." She is forced to name other "guilty" women. (Clarice's grandmother was accused; Anna's daughter was roped in.) And, lo, a conspiracy is discovered. The conspiracy spreads like a bloodstain outward ever further.

It seems that there is something in the human psyche that responds to stressful situations by seeking someone - anyone - to blame, and this blame most often falls upon those of lesser social status: women and children, the poor and the elderly.

We know that witch hunts break out most ferociously at times of trauma and stress. There was no concept of child witchcraft in Congo until the war began and 6 million people were killed. Now a broken and terrorized population has turned on its own children in a desperate, futile attempt to find some way to regain control. The first great witch hunt in Europe came after the Black Death killed one-third of the population. The second came between 1580 and 1650, when the climate cooled and crops failed. Similarly, witch hunting erupted in America—on the dirt-tracks of Salem, Mass.—at a time when 10 percent of the colonists were being killed and all lived in constant fear of the American Indians who were trying to defend their civilization from extinction.

It matters little whether or not any of the accused actually practice magick or witchcraft or any sort of alternative spirituality. In fact, a genuine magician could probably use his or her powers to avoid discovery, so it is likely that the majority of those accused in the course of any given incident will be innocent victims.

While witchcraft is rarely the focus in modern America, our society has evolved much faster than we have. The "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare of the 1980's and early 1990's bears a surprising similarity to the pattern of witchcraft persecutions that we find in Africa, and it was going on a mere 20 years ago despite what seem in retrospect to be preposterous allegations.

It began in 1984 in California, when a 37-year-old grandmother, previously diagnosed as paranoid and delusional, announced that her grandchild was being abused by a secret ring of Satanists. The children said it wasn't true, and rejected it through hours of questioning. Yet the school became convinced it was—and the children were made to keep talking until they "confessed," at which point they were slathered with praise for their courage. As before—as always—the accusations spread. Our panic about the vulnerability of children created a monstrous irony: In the process of trying to ease our fears, we turned our own children into witch-accusers—and panicked even more. Dozens of innocent people were jailed.

As magicians we must stand against the forces of superstition, which are rooted in faulty conditioning loops and misplaced correllations that falsely link random, unconnected events. This is one more reason that I am a strong advocate of practical or thaumaturgic magick. Thaumaturgy is where the "rubber hits the road" so to speak - practical spells with objectively measurable results either work or they don't. This is also why I'm ambivalent about proving the effectiveness of magick to a mass audience. The witch hunting pattern is still out there, buried in the human psyche, and I worry that widespread acceptance of magick in our society would simply add more fuel to the fire.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jedi Cops in Scotland

Scottish Sith Lords beware! The town of Strathclyde has Jedi cops on the beat. A Freedom of Information request has revealed that eight officers and two civilian staff members of the Scottish town's police force listed their religion as "Jedi" on voluntary diversity forms.

Jane's Police Review asked 55 forces across the UK how many employees had officially declared their religion as Jedi.

It said Strathclyde Police was the only force to confirm that some of its staff had entered "Jedi".

During the last British census a number of Star Wars fans across the country listed their religion as "Jedi," the spiritual system practiced by Luke Skywalker in George Lucas' popular film series. The fictional system is based on working with "The Force," a field of energy that connects all living things together. Jedi Knights use The Force to help others, while their enemies, the Sith Lords, use its "dark side" to increase their personal power.

Jane's Police Review editor Chris Herbert, who requested the information, said: "The Force appears to be strong in Strathclyde Police with their Jedi police officers and staff.

"Far from living a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, some members of the noble Jedi order have now chosen Glasgow and its surrounding streets as their home."

George Lucas used Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces as a blueprint for shaping the events of the original Star Wars films, and as a result the Jedi religion does have a number of elements in common with real spiritual systems. In the films Jedi Knights cultivate emotional detachment and a sense of connectedness with the universe through the medium of The Force and avoid giving in to negative emotions such as fear and anger, as they are said to lead to the dark side. Through their practices The Force also bestows upon them various paranormal psychic abilities such as telekinesis.

Now I wonder if any of those Jedi cops can levitate a gun out of the hand of a perpetrator...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seriously, the "Unconscious Mind" is a Myth

Modern magicians make extensive use of psychoanalytic terminology. When browsing articles on esotericism one commonly finds references to terms like ego, subconscious, and unconscious as though they represent some kind of bridge between spiritual and scientific understanding. However, the problem with this perspective is that there is nothing scientific about psychoanalysis. The adoption of psychoanalytic concepts in explaining magical ideas does not unify magick and experimental psychology in any way, but instead merely relates one system or esoteric symbolism and terminology to another. Furthermore, modern experimental psychology has uncovered many problems with the psychoanalytic model, and we as magical practitioners would do well to avoid incorporating those erroneous ideas into our practices.

Sigmund Freud developed the classical psychoanalytic model. This model was later refined and revised by Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Reich, and a number of other psychologists who explored variants of the Freudian system. Regardless of the shortcomings of Freud's model, both psychologists and psychiatric patients owe him an enormous debt for his role in completely reforming the treatment of mental illness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Freud's key insight was that it was possible to treat the mentally ill using talk therapy. This insight alone was so significant because of what it replaced. Before Freud psychiatric institutions were more like prisons where patients lived under terrible conditions and were subjected to "treatments" like being sprayed with high-power hoses to "purify" their bodies of imaginary toxins.

When it was first introduced psychoanalysis seemed incredibly effective, and Freud rapidly became a celebrity of his day. In addition to his clinical successes he also published several popular books explaining his theories and models. Many Freudian ideas and terms entered into the popular culture - Freudian slip, Oedipal, repression, complex, defense mechanism, and so forth. Most of these are still with us today. What has only been realized more recently is that Freud's success rate only looked impressive because of how terrible treatments for mental illness were before the advent of talk therapy. Controlled experiments have shown that the success rate for psychoanalysis over the course of one year, an impressive-sounding 70%, is no different than that for "sham therapy" in which a patient meets the same number of times with an untrained person and simply talks with them.

It shouldn't be all that surprising that Freud's model of the mind is inaccurate. It was one of the first models of its kind ever proposed and the science of psychology allows us to continually refine our understanding of the mind. Thus one would expect a more modern model to explain observations better and in a more complete manner. By incorporating ideas from behaviorism and neuroscience, modern cognitive-behavioral therapy is the only form of talk therapy that has ever been capable of exceeding the 70% threshold in controlled experiments, averaging out around 80% or so. This suggests that the cognitive-behavioral model of the mind simply works better than what Freud proposed, and its effectiveness under clinical conditions is quite impressive.

The fundamental weakness of Freud's model is the idea of the unconscious mind and how it supposedly works, and this is an idea that has infected much of magical practice. Freud originally got the idea based on his observations of memory in patients under hypnosis, who seemed to be able to recall all sort of details that they were unable to perceive in their waking state. He concluded that once a memory is stored it must always be present, and that the reason we cannot remember whatever we want is that the active process of repression prevents this from occuring. The problem is the Freud never checked his patients hypnotic recall against factual data. We now know that under hypnosis people can seem to recall small details, but in fact many of these details are made up because the original memory is no longer present. This is the reason that hypnosis is now allowed as evidence in criminal trials - in the 1970's it was tried, but was often found to contradict the facts.

Actually memory and personal identity are much more fluid than we generally believe and much more fluid than the psychoanalytic schools teach. Neuroscientists have discovered that every time we think about a particular memory we rewrite it into the brain. This process changes the memory subtly, which most of us fail to realize. It's like a game of telephone - every time you remember something it's like passing it to the next person in line. Scientists have even had some success with a drug that can erase traumatic memories by exploiting this process. This flies in the face of the Freudian model, in which not thinking about things from your past is pathological because the repression mechanism must hold these memories at bay. In fact, if you just don't think about a memory for a long time it fades, and that's all it does. Furthermore, everything that depends upon the repression mechanism must be similarly rejected. You don't have an unconscious mind with its own desires, personality, and so forth, and there are no hidden thoughts floating around in your mind that need to be "processed" or "defused" or "analyzed." What you think is actually what you think. Full stop.

So how do we then explain actions and feelings that are inappropriate or out of place? Everyone has had the experience of doing something that they immediately regret, a behavior that they know they should never engage in and yet there it is. These things happen because the mind is actually made up of three distinct systems, each of which can operate independently. The first of these is the system that we use for what we normally consider thinking and reasoning. It corresponds to the neocortex and particularly the frontal lobes of the brain. The second is the emotive system that produces our feelings, corresponding to the limbic cortex. The third is the conditioning system, which follows the rules of classical and operant conditioning. Conditioning can happen all over the brain, but complex behaviors often correspond to assimilated patterns that are mostly stored in the cerebellum.

Taken together the thinking and feeling systems are usually what we consider the mind or the personality. Willed behavior generally requires the two to work together, because when they are at odds it is difficult to do anything very effectively. When something is the logical thing to do but still feels wrong on an emotional level, you don't have "mixed emotions" about it - your thinking and feeling systems are at odds. The conditioning system can complicate things further, in that it can prompt the body to repeat behaviors that have been previously reinforced. This happens without any rhyme, reason, or goal. The conditioning system is like a machine - it follows the simple rules laid out by experimental psychologists like Skinner and Watson that apply to everything from sea slugs to humans. The "unconscious motivation" here is simple - the conditioning system wants to be reinforced. People with "addictive personalities" don't have a bunch of unresolved childhood "issues" that explain why they behave the way they do, they simply have conditioning systems that are stronger than usual and more capable of overwhelming the other two systems.

The key to working magick effectively is to get all three systems working together in a coherent fashion. A magician should set up conditioning loops that, for example, relate to the set of symbols with which he or she will be working. When you see red you should think Fire, when you see eight candles you should think Mercury, and so forth. That's what all those correspondences that we spend our time memorizing are for. Similarly, we must honestly feel good about what we are doing when we cast a spell. It's difficult to work magick if you feel guilty or fearful about using it, and this is probably the origin of Peter Carroll's idea of the "psychic censor." There is really no such structure in the mind that is fundamentally opposed to doing magick, but a child told from an early age that he or she would be damned by some deity for working magick will usually have to work at overcoming the emotions that they associate with casting spells in order to make anything work well.

Interestingly enough, the three-system model that neuroscience is currently unraveling maps onto the Tree of Life better than any of the psychoanalytic models. The thinking system corresponds to Hod and therefore Mercury, while The feeling system corresponds to Netzach and therefore Venus. Finally, the conditioning system corresponds to Yesod, the Moon. One of the ideas that I've been thinking about lately is to see if meditations on the paths linking these spheres might produce realizations that would help them work better in concert. So, for example, if you seem to be the sort of person whose thinking and feeling are at odds, you might be able to mediate the problem by meditating upon or working with Peh, the path of Mars, that connects Hod and Netzach. I have yet to do much experimentation along those lines, but it strikes me as potentially promising.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coach Suspended Over Snake Spell

With the Thelemic Holy Days wrapped up, it's back to our usually scheduled blogging.

As I've mentioned previously, athletes use magick all the time. Sporting events are situations where the difference between success and failure is often so small that every edge you can get counts. This fine line between success and failure may be metaphorically similar to the survival conditions faced by primitive humans, where the ability to use magick effectively would have proved a significant evolutionary advantage.

Along those lines, here's another odd spell from the sporting world. Apparently if your baseball team is losing, the solution is simple - kill a snake and bury it on the field.

A Palm Harbor University High School second baseman said the coach told the team last week that they were "snake-bitten" and needed to stop their losing streak.

So, the student said, the team bought and killed a snake, then buried it on the field during the school's spring break.

It's unclear whether or not the coach suggested the spell or if the students simply took his comments literally and acted upon them. It also is not clear if they tried to look up magical research suggesting that the snake spell might work, because as far as I know there isn't any.

Twin serpents are associated with both the path and sphere of Mercury in Liber 777, but that doesn't seem like a very good fit. Mercury can be invoked to win certain kinds of contests, but killing a snake doesn't strike me as a very good way to do that. Reptiles are associated with Scorpio and therefore the Death trump in the Tarot, so maybe you could get some mileage of out killing a creature that represents death - if you equate death with losing games. The Death trump can also represent transformation, though, so the symbolism could easily backfire. Maybe by killing a creature symbolic of transformation the actual result might be that your team magically continues its losing ways.

Regardless of the justification for the spell, school administrators were not amused and the coach was suspended pending an investigation. I suppose they'll lift the suspension if the team suddenly starts winning.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Office of the Readings for 2009

It's that time of year again! This post will remain the top article here for the duration of the Thelemic High Holy Days, from March 20th to April 10th. The Rite of the Office of the Readings is performed for all of the readings following The Invocation of Horus on March 20th. It may also be used with The Prologue of the Unborn on March 19th at your own discretion. We've done it both ways over the years.


The Invocation of Horus
The Rite of the Office of the Readings


March 19th - The Prologue of the Unborn
March 20th - Saturn/Earth, The Universe
March 21st - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon
March 22nd - Sol, The Sun
March 23rd - Pisces, The Moon
March 24th - Aries, The Emperor
March 25th - Mars, The Tower
March 26th - Capricornus, The Devil
March 27th - Sagittarius, Art
March 28th - Scorpio, Death
March 29th - Water, The Hanged Man
March 30th - Libra, Adjustment
March 31st - Jupiter, Fortune
April 1st - Virgo, The Hermit
April 2nd - Leo, Lust
April 3rd - Cancer, The Chariot
April 4th - Gemini, The Lovers
April 5th - Taurus, The Hierophant
April 6th - Aquarius, The Star
April 7th - Venus, The Empress
April 8th - Luna, The Priestess
April 9th - Mercury, The Magus
April 10th - Air, The Fool

If you would like to perform this series and have questions, feel free to e-mail me here.

All Office of the Readings posts may also be viewed here.

UPDATE: Our Office of the Readings series is based on this ritual by the Companions of Monsalvat. Last year the site was down so I didn't include a link to it, but it is now back up.

Russian Magicians to Unionize?

According to a report in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta news daily, some Russian magicians are now pushing for a trade union to represent their interests before Russia's Federation of Independent Trade Unions.

The report, quoting unnamed sources in the Russian parliament, said a group of "psychics, witches and other specialists in contact with supernatural forces" wanted formal status with the main independent trade union federation.

Russia is an unusual country in that magical practitioners are simply treated as professionals of a sort rather than dismissed out of hand as "for entertainment only" or persecuted by crazed mobs and driven out of town or executed. As a result, it provides a window into what a modern society in which magick is an accepted part of everyday life might look like. Russia recently drafted bill to regulate magick according to the dictates of a professional board, and union representation might help to counteract government overreaching related to the terms of the bill and the composition of the board.

Not everyone thinks that such a union is necessary or likely to form, however.

Vladimir Yegorov, head of Russia's folk medicine association, voiced scepticism that Russia would see an official wizards' union anytime soon.

"Trade unions are necessary where there are employers. But here we have no plants, no faith-healer factories. We have only individual entrepreneurs," Yegorov told the daily.

While this is true, what Yegorov fails to consider is that unionization will likely help prevent this situation from ever coming to pass. While getting magicians to work together can be like herding cats, there isn't anything inherent about magical work that would prevent a clever entrepreneur from trying to put together some sort of large organization that could compete with individual practitioners. Such organizations occasionally show up even in the United States, like the famous Psychic Friends Network, where magick and related practices are not nearly so highly regarded.

I'll be watching the situation in Russia to see how it plays out. Maybe if regulation and unionization work out well for all involved I'll reconsider my aversion to working toward widespread acceptance of magick in the United States, but honestly the outcome would have to be pretty impressive for me to come out in favor of it. As an effective magician I would much rather work in the shadows than in any sort of official capacity, since I don't need people to believe in me in order to get things done.