Tales of Magic by Dave Lee: Next Instalment

Tales of Magic 9: The Training

It became increasingly apparent that my dream battles were dramatizations of inner conflict, not attacks from the outside. This awareness resulted in their going away for a while. I kind of missed them, but had learned an important lesson: What you believe is what you get.

In 1980 those conflicts surfaced into my outer world. Pretty much everything I had built over the years came crashing down – long-term relationship, job, home. My own Chapel Perilous was happening – I was living in a magical reality which was being revealed more and more as my old life fell apart.

Up to that point, my magical training work had been sporadic and undisciplined. This was when I started serious daily work.

This took two forms – basic sitting meditation, visualization, sigils, divination, dream diary as advised by Liber MMM, and also the Qabalistic inner planes workings such as the Middle Pillar and the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

Another thing I had a go at was Liber Astarte. Reading Crowley’s Magick, I kept getting the name ‘Astar’, so that is the name I began my devotions to. Quite quickly, this morphed into Kali. One of the incidents that helped precipitate this shift was a strange find. In a house I’d just moved into, I found in the cellar, which I’d cleared out to use as an incense workshop, a small tobacco tin. In the tin was a large tooth, maybe the canine of a predator. It had a lovely curved line to it, so I carved it into a female shape, bored a hole through it and hung it from a thong. Here’s a diary entry from the night I consecrated it:

TUES 2ND SEPT: Consecrated the Figurine, saw a shaft of light enter it and forms swirling in the incense smoke… in the dawn I was awoken by cats screwing noisily under the window, banging against a sheet of tin.

One Saturday afternoon in 1980, after a coffee meeting at the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Ray Sherwin and Pete Carroll came back to where I was staying. They gave me a bit of a test:

SAT 8TH NOV Psychometry on Ray Sherwin’s Quartz Crystal: Back from SA coffee morning with Ray & Pete to PD’s place. I gingerly grasped the crystal and felt that something was trapped in it (I had suspected this from the nature of the challenge.) Felt a numbness in my face, then briefly, just as I was handing it back, I saw an angry orange ovoid with many wriggling legs. A crawling-skin sensation.

Ray said that it had appeared as purple and orange, and lobster-like, with many legs, and that it had been the thing that attacked him and caused his hair to fall out. The demon Tromes, from the Abra-Melin spirit list.

I came to realise that that event was a kind of interview for the IOT. Which I had passed.

Dave Lee is the author of several books, including Chaotopia, Bright From the Well and Life Force: Sensed Energy in Breathwork, Psychedelia and Chaos Magick. Visit his website and sign up for his newsletter.

Tales of Magic by Dave Lee (4th instalment)

Tales of Magic 7: The SA Coffee mornings

It was there I met Ray Sherwin and later Pete Carroll. Other luminaries include the remarkable Richard Bartle-Birtelli, a gentleman who illustrated that magicians didn’t have to be in their 20s. This was a man who’d survived the 2nd World War and ended up living in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire and teaching art. At that time I’d never met a magician who had survived so long and was still doing magic. He came and gave a talk at the LUUOS.

Other interesting characters included a pair of young magicians from Batley. One of them told us how he’d grown out of armed robbery into Qabalistic magic, and his friend described meditations in which he saw ‘visions’ of his motorbike. We started calling them the Batley Visionary Society.

In October 1978 I started keeping a magical diary. One of my first entries described my consecration of a robe I’d made. I took the first bus to Ilkley and walked up onto the moor, along a ravine called Spicey Gill and washed the robe in a stream at first light. I was rewarded with the sight of a great big dragonfly hovering over the stream as I finished, its wings iridescing in the morning light.

Tales of Magic 8: Lucidity

Starting keeping a magical diary pushed my identity firmly into ‘magician’ mode. Things started happening. In November I met a new lover who turned my life upside down. She was a natural magician, resistant to ‘book-learning’, but with astonishingly accurate clairvoyance and an intuitive grasp of energy-magic. For some miracles I experienced with her, check out Bright From the Well and Life Force.

At this time I took on a magical idea which is popular with magical beginners: the Astral Battle. These usually occurred on the edge of sleep, and were often terrifying, but with a triumphant quality. That triumph emerged from the radical freedom of dream lucidity; the conflict had pushed me to overcome the division between waking and sleeping. Sometimes I woke up knowing I’d just uttered some magical words to overcome my assailant.

I was determined to develop this dream-lucidity, initially because I wanted out-of-body experiences. Finally, I got one. Here’s the diary entry:

“Before going to bed, smoked a little hash. Then did some cycles of pranayama. This felt very intense.

For the first time ever, I was able to keep a watch on my going to sleep, and I exteriorised! I was suddenly right out of the house, floating over the street outside, looking downwards. The shock was so great I returned to my body.

I let myself fall asleep with that watchfulness again… and managed it once more: a moment when I was hovering in the bedroom.”


Sign up at Dave’s website Chaotopia! for his newsletter.

The book mentioned above, Bright From the Well, is available from Mandrake Press.

Life Force is available here.

dave lee

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