The New Story and ceremonial magic

I don’t endorse ceremonial magic, especially not for people who are not already strongly inclined to pursue it.

The modern Western world is already in love with “positive thinking” and “taking responsibility for everything that happens in your life.” This is more than a little crazy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is part of your life. It is bigger than you are and older than you are. You can’t take responsibility for it, unless you twist your mind to believe that objective reality is your personal creation, and you are thus more powerful than a Gnostic demiurge. Nonetheless, Western society pushes people to believe that they are limited only by their willpower, and that they can achieve everything that they can imagine. From such a cultural standpoint, the next step is to believe that your intentions warp reality. If you start by taking responsibility for your life, the next step is to believe that you create all your experiences – which is to say, to believe that you are magical.

Magic is not limited to goths with black nail polish and tattooed Wiccans smearing scented oils on candles. Magic is the mindset that your thoughts create your reality – and just about everyone agrees that you should “think positive” because your thoughts impact your reality. Ceremonial magic is just a small extension of the dominant cultural mindset.

Note that many people (especially artists) get into ceremonial magic because a huge number of artistic geniuses have tried it. A lot of these artists back off from their initial enthusiasm. If you want a case study in this, do some research on David Bowie’s beliefs in magic.

David Bowie, Tree of Life, Sephirot, from Kether to Malkuth, cabbala, Kabbalah, Qabalah, Steve Schapiro

David Bowie, Tree of Life, Sephirot, from Kether to Malkuth, cabbala, Kabbalah, Qabalah, Steve Schapiro

Ceremonial magic (and its associated mystical ideologies) can mess up your potential life. Ceremonial magic can make you temporarily insane with overconfidence. Ceremonial magicians often overdose on bad drugs, and some of those overdoses are crippling, and others are outright fatal.

Ceremonial magic groups have a large and unfortunate overlap with charismatic personality cults. I definitely warn people to minimize the presence of such cults in their lives, even if you believe in the astral plane and you want to try summoning spirits with candles and talismans.

Ceremonial magicians often burn out on ceremony and become bog-standard mystics and meditators. If you want to spend the best years of your life reciting mantras in the hopes that a Boddhisattva will rescue you from your general ickiness, you can skip the candles and amulets and skip straight to the breathing exercises. Warning: if you’re trying to escape the obnoxious sanctimony of the religion your parents raised you in, switching to a different religion probably won’t help, and it might make you worse.

One “advantage” to ceremonial magic is that your demise won’t be boring. It might be sordid, it might be degrading, it might hurt worse than Hell on earth, but it won’t be grey and meaningless and mediocre. When ceremonial magicians self-destruct, no one accuses them of having been mediocre conformists who never took any risks.


A lot of the people around Bowie believed that his belief in magic was nothing short of psychosis.  Some people claim that Bowie’s amoral interest in “movement from Kether to Malkuth” resulted in actual criminal behavior that victimized innocents.  And certainly many artists who flirt with magic are much less successful than Bowie.


Who could possibly value his life so little that he would be willing to risk myriad dangers, including (but not limited to) death, disease, mental self-destruction, and social humiliation?

The kind of people who take risks with ceremonial magic often have very little to lose, other than their youthful vitality and self-confidence. The following videos are from a guy who hit rock bottom after he lost his youthful energy.

This guy complains that he wasted his life on conformity and following rules. I have never known a ceremonial magician to make such a complaint. Ceremonial magicians are prone to megalomania and narcissism, but they seldom believe that they are powerless due to the crushing inertia of society. Ceremonial magicians always believe that they are the music-makers, and they are the dreamers of dreams, and that material reality is subordinate to their dreams and songs.

The guy who made these videos probably will never be a ceremonial magician. If he were the type to try it, he probably would have intuited or discovered how to do it by now. (Perhaps he will still intuit non-ceremonial magic.)

I generally dislike “Thumotic,” but a recent post there impressed me favorably.

Each of the these narratives [sexual hedonism and Christianity] contains enough half-truth to hold temporary sway over some amount of young men smart and courageous enough to look outside the mainstream narrative. But each falls short of actually offering them a tribe worthy of their life and loyalty.

Modern western civilization has no traditions, no purpose, no animating mythic structure. But nature abhors a vacuum, so here is my prediction.

At some point, the current narrative will be replaced. Someone will compose a new mythic story, and it will multiply rapidly through young male brains, vectored by social media, anonymity, and high-speed internet cables. The New Story will infuse young men with a sense of purpose and focus they’ve never experienced before. It will feel like waking from a dream state, and entering a new world of consciousness and meaning. Western men will be the heroes in their New Story. There will be a journey; an ordeal; allies and enemies. There will be a villain.

What will the New Story consist of? The details will depend on circumstance, Great Men, and pure chance. But here are some broad predictions:

The New Story will offer men a path to heroism
The New Story will offer a tribe
The New Story will offer a traditional warrior code of ethics
The New Story will offer an opportunity to die for something bigger than ourselves
The New Story will focus its merciless resentment on a villain

The Killing Fields Of The 21st Century

One commenter had a notable insight:

Edenist Whackjob says

February 8, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Things that would fit the bill:

The Great Race War

Rebuilding America’s Economy (after the crash and new Depression)

Some part of America secedes, and urges people to move there

The rise of a real cryptocurrency economy, which allows these forever-aloners to run corporations

The Trumpening (Trump stays in power for 8 years and institutes something that pulls up these disaffected youth)

I am not confident that the New Story will be written. I suspect that it will emerge despite the clumsy efforts of Westerners to write it.

Perhaps the New Story of the West will emerge from China telling Asians a new story about Asia, and perhaps the Global South might even start telling itself stories about itself.

But let us consider several points in detail:

The New Story will offer men a path to heroism

There are many kinds of heroism. Most of them would not be recognizable to the blogger Jon Frost who wrote the linked post at “thumotic.”

The New Story will offer a tribe

That’s possible. Charismatic personality cults already offer a lot of semi-tribal behaviors.

The New Story will offer a traditional warrior code of ethics

That’s not very likely. Traditional warrior codes are not likely to resurface while the police have modern tech. Modern society is constructed to prevent warrior ethics from arising. Street gangs are about as close as it gets, and technology is narrowing down their survivable niche.

The New Story will offer an opportunity to die for something bigger than ourselves

Heck, every suicide can claim he’s killing himself for the sake of ideals that are bigger than his own personal problems. Everybody is going to die, but some people die right away and the rest of us linger on a bit longer.

It would be interesting if the New Story convinces the people who don’t die right away that the guys who do die right away are plugged into something transcendent.

The New Story will focus its merciless resentment on a villain

I wonder. Lots of conspiracy theorists have been blaming a wide assortment of villains, ranging from international bankers to gray aliens. I don’t know that villains are a notable part of the story – perhaps they are just interchangeable scenery, serving to spice up the story with silly, disposable drama.

Previous essays have pointed out quite a few flaws with the culturally dominant mode of “positive thinking.” See, for example:

I don’t plan to discuss details of ceremonial magic on this blog. If any commenters want to hear about it, leave comments to that effect.

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