Tales of Magic by Dave Lee (3rd instalment)

TALES OF MAGIC 5: Two magical currents?

I picked up a copy of Liber Null at a secondhand bookshop on Woodhouse Lane opposite the University. It had a white cover and was numbered 23/100. Later, Pete Carroll claimed that most of the tiny run of this first edition were so numbered. The only difference I remember between that edition and the much better-know second (red cover) edition was the bit on Anarchy which was left out of the red edition.

But that wasn’t the only magical current I was interested in. There was also the work Mike’s group was doing in Southampton. Their magical ‘lodge’ was called Phoenix Light and they used clairvoyance to establish ‘Inner Planes Contacts’, powerful spirits of initiation. This style of working was almost the opposite of the pragmatic, earthy style of Chaos Magic. The scepticism of Pete Carroll’s Liber Null and Ray Sherwin’s Book of Results naturally appealed to me, but I knew it was not the whole story.

A valued few of my teenage acid experiences had given me a couple of core intuitions about the deepest levels of inner experience which were hard to express but utterly compelling in their certitude. The Chaos Magic of that era had no language to discuss such matters. But it was still the best game in town.

TALES OF MAGIC 6: Chaos Magic and everything else

Chaos Magic first took off in Yorkshire. This success had two main drivers: the hospitality of Ray Sherwin in East Morton, a village just outside Bradford, and the existence of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Leeds, who distributed Liber Null and The Book of Results. Things really started moving when they started hosting coffee mornings on Saturdays.

Never underestimate the power of the right kind of soiree to nurture new ideas. The SA coffee mornings were an astonishingly powerful nexus of contacts. People who grew up in the online world don’t realise how precious such things were. The shop was just a few minutes’ walk from where I was living at the time, in a house full of crazy young magical experimentalists like myself.

You walked into a tiny one-storey shop unit that looked like it had survived a number of urban renewals. You paid your money (into an honesty box) and poured water from the kettle into a paper cup with instant coffee and dried milk in it. The décor was unrelieved black. This had been the SA’s main shop unit before it moved into the slightly more impressive premises next door.

Dave Lee can be contacted via his website Chaotopia

His recent book Life Force can be obtained from most internet bookshops

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