Tales of Magic by Dave Lee: (10th Instalment)

Tales of Magic Part 10: The Further Adventures of the LUUOS

I mentioned earlier in ToM the LUUOS and its star-studded lineup of speakers. The LUUOS went thro various incarnations: the prototype Occult Group (1976/7) based round Amado’s followers, the full LUUOS (1978-87-ish), then finally a collaboration with the music society The Black Lodge, which eventually absorbed it. The Black Lodge people got their occultism from Goth album covers and the more sophisticated ideas from Temple of Psychic Youth material. I recall one of their organizers getting a tattoo of ‘93’ done. His mate asked him what it was about. He replied ‘I shall have to find out some day.’

But before the rot set in there were a few years of excellent regular events. One night, PD Brown, Ray Sherwin and I gave a rambling seminar about chaos magic, which was recorded and issued as a cassette tape called ‘The Chaos Current’. (I can’t find a link for any current edition of this). I first met PD on the Leeds-Sheffield bus. I was visiting my girlfriend, he his coven, as it turned out. He was sitting across the aisle of the bus from me. I could see he was reading a book entitled ‘The Book of Shadows.’ At some point he looked over and saw that I was reading ‘Liber Null’. The bus had to wait for half an hour in Barnsley to wait for another driver, so we two magical strangers went for a drink. Not long after, PD came up with the idea of a virtual magical working with an audio soundtrack, a fairly rare idea back then. He wrote and recorded ‘The Chaochamber’ and sold it as a cassette tape (currently available as a CD. (Not to be confused with the audio item ‘The Chaosphere’, by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice): https://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Magick-Audio-CDs-Chaochamber/dp/1935150499)

I started making incenses for magic in 1978 (see the forthcoming episode The Temple in the Squat) and PD asked me to make one for the Chaochamber. My first thought was: but there aren’t any attributions for Chaos! So I thought about the imagery that PD was conjuring.. the flight deck of an ethership in etherspace… and made a blend of some of the most alien and high-tech smelling perfumes I could find.

Later in the LUUOS timeline, we had a visit from Lionel Snell. He gave a great talk, taking us into magical thinking via elegant scepticism, and we treated him to a slap-up curry in the Arndale Centre afterwards. It was a Friday night in central Leeds, so it was a bit lively. One chap at a nearby table conceived a drunken fixation on Lionel, yelling, ‘Eyup Neil Kinnock!’ Lionel was amused, and unfailingly polite as the man crawled across the floor and grinned up at him.

We also hosted giant of the Northern magic world, Ian Read, who taught us a good deal about the core ideas of the runes. We were opened up to the wonders of ancient landscape magic by Brian Larkman’s fascinating talk on ‘the Illuminated Stones of Ilkley Moor’.

Typhonian Ken Cox gave a talk on Starting High Magick, and another on Monsters. Arch-Typhonian Michael Staley gave one on the Book of the Law. Mogg Morgan spoke about breaking gender boundaries in sexual magic, and Andrew Stenson introduced the AMOOKOS Tantric lineage.

Later, there was the infamous Freya Aswynn, proudly proclaiming in front of a poster about a remember-Kristallnacht event that the night in question was her birthday.

This tale will continue in a later episode about the end of the LUUOS and the Era of Zines.

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: 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

Tales of Magic by Dave Lee (2nd instalment)

TALES OF MAGIC 3: A Busted Guru Game

Amado visited one of the group members and we had a meeting at her flat. He was a chubby, middle aged man with a goatee beard, who didn’t waste much time before trying to get me into bed. It turned out that this was standard procedure with every male in the group. His claim about the bed thing was that it had nothing to do with being gay, but was some kind of initiation. Right…

One member told a friend about his experience of Amado and the friend got quite seriously freaked out and summoned his magical mentor to deal with the ‘sticky qlipothic’ stuff they’d skried. Mentor Mike came up to Leeds and did some astral-warrior white-light magic on the ‘qlipoth’.

I wasn’t sure how much sense the white light thing made to me; it sounded like it was half way to religion, but Mike was a personable chap with a fund of interesting magical experiences. Meeting him started a whole new direction for a couple of the members in post-Dion Fortune-style astral work. That was one of the post-Amado directions group members went in. The other was Chaos Magic…

TALES OF MAGIC 4: The LUUOS

Those of us left after the breakup of the Occult Group decided to form a University Union society. In those days, this was very easy to do. You got 50 signatures and presented them to some Union official. This took just one afternoon in the Union bar. The students in that bar would have signed a petition for a Three-Legged Donkey Rehabilitation Society. The state some of them were in, that may well have been what they thought they were signing. Now we had a choice of meeting rooms and funds for presenters. We were the LUUOS, aka the Occ Soc.

Summer-autumn of 1978 I took up magic as a daily pursuit. Through the Leeds occult supply shop The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Chris, John and I met Ray Sherwin. He was one of the early speakers at the LUUOS, and spoke of the power of sigils to get you anything you desired.

Not long after, we hosted famous witch Patricia Crowther. Turnout was higher than any we’d had so far and we managed to get use of the Leeds Uni pyramid, a beautiful semi-underground structure all decked out in green, which delighted our wiccan guest.

My interest in Chaos Magic took off at this time. I’d finally found a magical model which didn’t require religious faith and didn’t try to forget how conditioned we all are by the ingrained anti-magical scepticism of the mainstream culture.

Dave Lee can be contacted via his website Chaotopia.