VII. The Adepts
THOU ART DEITY.
You seek magick. You have beheld trickery, and now at last, you wish to know of the Adept way.
Let us consider.
When you were born, you were who you truly are, your Higher Self. Your Higher Self has never left you and never died; you may call it your “subconscious mind,” your “luck,” your “feelings,” your “reflexes;” it makes no difference. You have always been attentive to this aspect of yourself: You have sensed and experienced things others have not; you have had strange dreams and memories no one else shared; you have been called “odd” and “outcast.” You have felt a greater affinity for nature, spirituality, ideas, dreams, “weird things,” than others have felt. You have been different.
In time you were taught by the world around you that you were someone else, so that you could fulfill a role. The world you have been taught is the world that has entered you and shown you its Law.
Then came the time or times of inspiration that set you on the path to magick. You found yourself thinking and feeling deeply, exploring the art and science that underlies all things. Perhaps you called to yourself a teacher, or more than one teacher, or became the mirror that sees itself.
You cleanse yourself of impurities, being honest and direct as you comprehend and acknowledge your flaws so that they may be corrected. You improve yourself in all possible ways, only as a step in a journey, for the improvement is never finished. You ascend to wisdom.
The Wise One breaks their role and becomes all things, attaining mastery over the self and thus over all things. The vision you speak to the world is how you enter it and show it your Law. To realize your full potential: You must have knowledge. You must have courage. You must have intention. You must will change to be so. And then you must let the magick speak for itself, for it is your law and it has been declared.
You do not practice magick. You live it, for all acts of intention are magick, and you are no longer mired in the unexamined life. You perceive all things in a magickal way. When you let this be your truth, Mastery is yours.
SO MOTE IT BE.
Ah, you still heed my words. Good.
What are the Adepts? Let us peel aside the layers of mystery and bare the truth.
The simplest answer to your question is that we are magicians; you and I and many others like us. It does not matter what sort of path we walk, we are all Adepts in one way or another. There is no East or West. There is no “urban” or “tribal.” There is no formal or informal wisdom. There are only wisdom and habit. The Wise live in reality and engage it, shaping it and being shaped by it. The Unaware live by habit, staring down at the ground, hemmed in on all sides, walking the path laid out before them—truly unaware that they have only to look up and see, and all things are possible.
Our way began thousands of years in the past, when humans worked their magicks together. In that time, we were all tribal hunter-gatherers, and everyone had to work as a community to live. The strange ones who had visions and could speak to spirits—our direct ancestors in the Art—were not kept separate. They were warrior-hunter-magician-priestesses and priests, healing sore teeth and calling up devils from the shadows, all with the aid of our extended families in the tribe.
But in time there were many more humans in the world and we needed to feed them all, so we moved inexorably toward controlling our food supply. We settled on the land and learned to farm, and the spirits of the land called us to communion. So the tribes communed with their patron spirits as the magicians of old became the leaders of prayers and sacrifices, and all the peoples everywhere went through the cycles of birth and maturing and death while the world spun round through spring and summer and autumn and winter.
Not every magician was satisfied with being such a community clerk. No matter how quiet or raucous the spirits worshipped (now calling themselves “gods and goddesses”) or how bloody or beautiful the rites celebrated might be… enough magicians were in the world that such service could no longer be enough.
Why did it happen? It is difficult to know now if our motives were selfish or if we were merely happy to be free to explore within ourselves and the knowledge written in the world around us. All we can be certain about is that our communities looked upon us with increasing doubt and fear. We were the self-outcast, who would not join in the tribal spells but preferred to chant and meditate and invoke alone. We were strange and no longer trusted. What perversions did we hide from our cousins and brothers? Why were we so impatient with simple, homespun mysteries that benefited everyone together?
Our families and near-families thought first and always of the worst reasons for what we chose. Greed, lust, spite, the desire to control everyone around us by keeping our knowledge secret… occulted.
When they learned that we chose to command, even with courtesy and balance, they sided with the spirits against us. They had learned to bow to the tree that gave fruit and to bend knee to the cow that gave milk. They no longer shared with the universe—they placated it and trembled before its wrath…
…as we never would.
From this point, no matter how incisive our minds may be, it is hard to dissect the muddled shadows of history.
The lineage of our wisdom is a tangled mess. Divided by mundane rivalries and bigotries, poisoned by jealousy and rivalry, we split ourselves into countless divisions separated by minutiae. Is the Kabbalist of old Prague altogether different from the worker of Chaos in the modern world, and are both incompatible with the sorcerers of India, Japan and the Arkaim of Russia? Is the leopard-mage of Africa incomprehensible to the brujo of Mexico? Sadly, in many ways, the answer is yes to all. If we could but overcome our differences… which are rooted in worldliness… we might reassemble the Tower of Babel and speak a single language once more. But the Arab wizard’s sacred mathematics and the modern American’s revived alchemy, the Wiccan and the demonolater, all see the same magick and call it their own.
This makes us a collection of individuals, and any attempt to speak across our borders is like a game of “telephone.” The further away we go from our comfort zones, the more unlikely we are to understand one another. The rune magus of Scandinavia cannot recognize the meaning or validity of Chinese magick—if he is blinded by the folly of prejudice, he may not even accept it is magick at all. If we cannot accept one another’s humanity, what hope is there of seeing one another’s divinity?
And so we have no organization, no leadership, though it is said that the most enlightened among us pass into another vibrational plane of existence, beyond life and death, in which the clarity of wisdom is too great to permit anything but harmony. Some argue that these Ascended Teachers are split into a “White Lodge” and a “Black Lodge,” but as I have told you, there is no light and there is no darkness. There is only seeing and knowing.
Until we ourselves see and know as the perfected ones do, we must still play the roles we have given ourselves in this world, as heroes or villains or wiser beings. We have passions and rivalries, bitter feuds and furious loves. We are more alive than others, and as we are more alive, our actions and feelings become grand—in the ways that grandeur is seen in our mortal world. We use magick with surpassing wisdom and bitter folly… more the latter than the former, I am afraid.
I believe the key to attaining the wisdom of the Ascended Teachers lies in esoteric mystery that cannot be expressed in our words. And so I shall let it remain in silence.
Ego is the brittle armor you have built in your dealings with the mundane world. You do not need it, for your Law is your Truth and to strike at you is to strike at the wind. You must follow the true will of your inmost self, not petty everyday hedonism. Abandon ego or be entombed within it. The butterfly’s chrysalis is a specialized skin, protecting the luminous glory within from the mundane world. The time comes for this caul to be split open, torn from the body, and cast aside. When the hour is nigh, the nascent being must be skinned, that its body may be strengthened and sheltered anew.
The first and most crucial stage of the Adept’s journey from the role given them by the world to their own chosen role, their Law, is to break free from the shell of ego through the act of initiation. To be initiated into the hidden way of magick is to die symbolically and return triumphantly… though as we know, symbol is also substance.
The Dionysian intersection of transcendence and immanence is what the Adept seeks. The relationship between transcendence and immanence is simple, which makes it incredibly challenging. In its essence, it is this: Be in this world, but not of it. The magician lives in the crossroads, capable of all things and always one’s own self.
You must conquer your death, which is to say, you must conquer yourself. As Jacob wrestled “the angel,” you must overpower and harmonize with the shadow of who and what you are, to unify yourself into a single reborn Master. Like Isis and Orpheus, you descend into the underworld that lies within and without you, letting What You Have Been die so that you may become What You Must Be.
To the mundane eye of the Unaware, the death and rebirth into magick can look like many things: A difficult puberty, PTSD, a midlife crisis, sudden obsession, “magical thinking,” a near-death experience, even a psychotic break. Even those with half-knowledge may only perceive part of the truth, speaking of the Hero’s Journey, of the Archetypes, of a Grail, of a visionquest, an ordeal, the quartz intestines, the god who bears your face. Each is only a story. There is what may be spoken about… and there is what is known.
After initiation, you will know. It will be as touch from long ago, remembered on raw nerves freshly born. Instant truth.
There is a self above the self, the True Self you pushed aside to be the Common Self for the world around you. But denial of either self does not equate to suicide. When you have denied your own Law all your life, embracing it is not destruction. It is the completion of your birth, in rebirth.
Nor is the Common Self a lie. It lacks balance and higher awareness, not guessing that your thoughts change the world as a butterfly’s wings can build a hurricane. No, both your Common Self and True Self are valid, just as every religion leads to a single truth. (A truth which may have nothing to do with religion…)
When you have broken free and been initiated, passing through death and returning to life, you then train your mind, body and spirit for the work demanded by your Law. Thus do we enter a life of magick, and we find many new truths in the magickal life.
Pareidolia and coincidence are fantasies of the Unaware. To see patterns in everything is sanity, not insanity. All things comment on one another, even in silence, and you are the center of the universe—just as everything and everyone else is also the center of the universe. Error arises when you believe that being the center of the universe makes you the most or only important thing in it.
When relaxed, let yourself be in harmony with the universe, rising and falling with the tides of eternity. The universe is an infinite web of complex correspondences in which everything reflects everything else, like an Escher artwork: As above, so below. The eye with which you behold the universe is the eye with which the universe beholds itself; your harmony is a synthesis of synchronicity, intuition, reflex, epigenetics, “subconscious” thought, acceptance, and accordance with the Akashic Record. You must let yourself feel a clear true feeling, whatever it may be, and to truly think, instead of struggling to think as you think about thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking…
The Akashic Record? As the universe is a hologram of sorts, the Akashic Record is its informational dimension. Everything—thought, word, action, inaction—that has ever been, could ever be or could never be, is now, or ever will be, resonates within the Akashic Record. Everything is a part of it, as everything is part of the universe. Anyone may attune themselves to it, and the resulting knowledge may appear in many forms: Flashes of experience, volumes of language, the thoughts of others, sensations, or many others. When we speak of “logos,” “racial memory,” “psychometry,” “vivid dreams,” “déjà vu,” or the simple reality that you already know everything, but cannot remember it all at once… we speak of the Akashic Record.
The Akashic Record is infinite in scope, both in “space” and “time.” But because existence requires us to define ourselves by what we are and what we are not, no entity is infinite in extent, and so no individual can ever know all things at once. Indeed, every entity sees the universe only within the perspective they have established as part of the self, so that each can truly be said to live in a separate yet commingled universe. Each of us has a universe within themselves and perceives the universe as lying without. To an extent, there is no distinction between these “positions.” And so we may address entities/ideas in either “place” and call upon their power.
We are barred from harmony and the Akashic Record by dissonance. Doubt, self-consciousness, fear, living in the past, living in the future, self-delusion, all the things that take us away from the here/now. When we grant ourselves peace and self-will, these things vanish. No one can give us these things, but neither can they take them away. Only we can do this for ourselves. The Wise know that the universe is both eternal and ever-changing, and that to live in harmony with it is to be both static and active—in the correct measure.
The appearance of reality is a matter of consensus. The nature of reality is eternal, ineffable and indisputable. Matter and energy are not dead things, and spirit and thought are not impotent abstracts. Whatever is, whatever functions, whatever persists, that is the real.
The universe is not a parfait or a rainbow. It does not have layered planes arrayed like the flesh of an onion. There are “vibrational planes” of reality that separate interpretations of reality—the “world of the living” from the “world of the dead,” and many other ways of seeing and existing. They are not walled-off from one another. We do not need to tear aside tough veils that act as some sort of cosmic diaphragm. They are merely invisible and intangible to each other… for the most part. The Otherworlds are not science fiction pocket universes but altered states of consciousness and existence, and we exist in all of them simultaneously, even in nonexistence.
There are many ways to symbolically represent the universe we share—the Tree of Life, the Adam Kadmon, the toroidal magnetic field that shields life on Earth from the radiation of the stars. Truth exists, though it takes infinite forms. Each superficially resembles the other, and we could imagine each to be a sort of ladder from profound depth to breathtaking height. But even this is simply another way of imposing order on the universe. We do not ascend a divine ladder of worse to better. We only change.
We are changed and we change. To be Unaware and ordinary is to live in dissonance with moments of harmony. To be Adept and at rest is to be a ship on the bosom of the sea of the universe. To be an Adept and to work magick is to set sail.
Fate is no stronger than gravity, which cannot halt a single footstep; speak to it and it will hearken to you. What is understood can be controlled. Know thyself. Know the universe. And these are some of the signposts of such knowledge:
Magick is profoundly synergistic; the magickal world is the crossroads between what is and what is not, potential and reality. The Wise understand the power of uncertainty and the significance of dreams.
You are your mind, you are your belief, you are your feelings—as they are, you are.
The Wise One rejects superstition and faith as a sleeper rejects sleepwalking. The patterns of magick are not meant to master the Wise One. The reverse is the way of wisdom—strong and healthy command, in harmony and in emphasis, never the disease of habit, servility, weakness and fear.
No single action has only one result. Everything has repercussions. Magick is magnetic to the weird and perverse, especially in terms of outcomes. To send a kind of will into the universe brings that kind of will toward yourself, but all things contain within themselves their contradiction, and so any action will also bring reaction.
Everything is itself and its own contradiction, for in defining yourself you also define what you are not. This shadow of contradiction is present in all things. It is also true that you may change your self-definition, and have your self-definition be changed by others. You can become someone else, or revert to the one you once were—if these things were not true, the journey to wisdom would be impossible, and you could never enter the magickal way of life.
Perspective is crucial. Does the oyster create the pearl to alleviate its discomfort at a bit of sand, or does the universe wish pearls, and so it makes oysters to irritate?
Because symbols have literal power, and literal power is also a symbol, it is less important whether or not “the legends are true” than whether or not they are “true for you.” This is not an act of belief. It is an act of will. Remember this. The power lies not in the words or the gestures or the trappings but within the will. Failure to believe or to know your own true intentions makes your efforts useless.
Whatever is invested with meaning—“barbaric words,” sigils we identify with our deepest selves, correspondences of any kind—is thereby a key to magick. Names are microcosms of the things named and so will grant you a shorthand knowledge of what is named (and therefore power over it).
We hardly know one another—we know who we think each other to be—and so we may assign roles to anything (anthropomorphize them, if you will) as a way to commune and command.
Because harmony in accordance with will is the basis of magick and its power, grant courtesy to the entities you call upon within yourself and without yourself. You will find tutelary beings (“gods, demons, elementals” and so forth), archetypes and imaginary figures, dead heroes and dreams of living icons, all manner of specific beings that may join you in your work and your path—and which you may join in theirs. “Speak their language” and respect what you call up; in doing so, you respect yourself.
Things once together remain connected; things that are similar share similar traits. Correspondence has many dimensions.
The Threefold Law is true: The “good and bad” you do returns to you, threefold. The gentlest path tells us to be blessed, to give that we may receive, and to do as we may so long as we harm none. To do otherwise is to pay a price. What you have not been told is that very often the price is worth it, and so this Law is not a prohibition—but a price tag. And because all things contain within themselves their own undoing, even your doom contains the seeds of your paradise. So… why not do as you will?
When we speak of illusions, we mean the realities we choose to dismiss—nothing is “illusory,” everything is as real as we accept it to be. When we speak of the sacred, we mean those things we choose to love as “sacred”—nothing is profane, nothing is mundane, everything is sacred. Nothing is outside of nature: There is no “supernatural,” only the natural that we have yet to codify or to grasp in the deepest intuitive sense.
”Good and evil” are labels. There is not even “positive and negative.” There is only that which builds and that which destroys, each with its own purpose and time. There is no “white magick and black magick.” There is only magick. If indeed anything can be called “evil,” it is fear, which is the enemy of wisdom and change in accordance with our wills.
There is a power in denial and in refutation, in replacement and reversal. Your will can be dismissed, deflected, cast back upon you. You can defend yourself against the magick of others by all of these things and more, as well. Your greatest armor is the same as your greatest weapon—the assertion of your vision and will, as the television performer says, to “reject your reality and replace it with (your) own.”
Most magick does not look like anything to the Unaware eye. They expect sparkling flows of light from an animated feature film, or drifting patterns in the air from a comic book, or perhaps bolts of fire and balls of lightning from a roleplaying game. Though the magick can be quite visible, spectacularly so, most of it is unseen to those not initiated or already dwelling in the twilight world. (And this last is important, for indeed creatures of the night can see, feel and hear the power of magick if you are not subtle. They may not know what you are, but they can perceive what you do.)
And so, the basic elements of how we do that which we do. In simple, practical terms, what can we do? Oh, a long litany of known things, and infinitely more that are rarely considered. If we limited it to only a few…
…the conquest of the fabric of space, through teleportation, apportation and bilocation…
…communion with the Akashic Record, to hear others’ thoughts, to sense the impressions of past times in objects, to feel others’ feelings, to know the meaning of dreams and to see the most probable events in the future…
…the control of matter and its relation to space, such that we may levitate ourselves and others, generate heat or cold, move molecules between molecules and atoms between molecules, walk unharmed through fire and seem as if we are dead matter…
…the extension of our senses to see and hear (and more) across great distances, to perceive and communicate with spirits animal, vegetable, mineral, elemental, dead, and magickal…
…the shaping of the life force to heal ourselves and others, extending lifespans and shortening them, calling and pacting with spirits and entities, shaping luck and misfortune like a sandfall of trickling probabilities…
…rising from our bodies into the spiritworld of the Astral, speaking mind-to-mind and tricking others’ minds into doing our bidding, warping the weather pattern and the ecosystem, bringing harmony and gently opening the gates to chaos.
All these things and more, we can do. No matter how we call ourselves or what icons and words guide our thoughts, we all relax into our power, concentrate on the vision of what we would make true, and the magick will be.
Each system of knowledge used by an Adept is different from the others, whether rigid or freeform, traditional or new. And each is as vitally important as it is utterly irrelevant. Whether you choose nudity or special garb, ecstatic spinning under the influence of potent substances or ascetic meditation upon complex webs of symbols, singing or computer coding or cutting out a living heart—the magick will come if you are truly Wise.
And this, then, is why I have skinned you alive.
For now you are the Red Magus, bleeding and alive in every nerve, and I bid you build your new skin and rise alive and whole. The power is yours! Heal and know yourself!
The Adepts are a loose faction of humans that work magick—uncanny occult power—in the world. They are spellcasters of every kind, from self-proclaimed witches to ceremonial magicians, solitary neo-shamans and techno-sorcerers. As they themselves explain, they are not identical with tribal religious leaders, who are not magicians in any way. (A better analogy in that case would be clergymen and clergywomen.)
The Adepts’ broad explanation of their history is accurate enough, from an anthropological perspective. They are the ones who would not work magick with the rest of their societies, preferring to go further down different paths. Most of all, they are not worshippers of any being—if they propitiate, it is only as a respectful equal, and never as a servant.
The techno-occult powers invoked by other factions are viewed by most, but not all, Adepts as distasteful—not in any quasi-religious way, nor in any manner resembling orthodoxy. Perversely, this antipathy is more like the way a gourmet chef would look at a packaged lunchbox with processed coldcuts, cheese product, mass-produced crackers and a jellied fruit snack in it. Yes, techno-occult devices are magick, but are they the kind of magick you would want to spend your life working with? To torture the analogy… would you like to eat nothing but BigCo’s LunchPaks from your grocer’s dairy case for the rest of your days?
The Adepts may be found anywhere, among any kind of people, throughout history. They have no meaningful organization larger than a coven here and there, so while there are quite a few Adepts in the world, they offer no united challenge to anything. They might be on any side, allied with anyone, finding familiars, allied spirits, magick-focusing objects, hidden wisdom and odd personal goals in any setting. Their attitudes listed below are very broadly true, but completely unreliable in the particular: Even if most Adepts feel this way about Vampires, for example, there will always be exceptions.
Vampires are people who believe that they are dead because their bodies no longer function. The fact that they still think and feel does not dissuade them from this idea. The concept of “undeath” that they embody is the source of their fascinating supernatural powers, which rival those of many Adepts even though Vampires think they have inherent limitations. They’re very dangerous because they view their role as that of a selfish predator, but caution will prevail.
Humans who have chosen, in one way or another, to become parasite-symbiotes to Vampires. (Choosing not to destroy yourself after you are forced to be a Vampire blood addict is still a choice.) Their masochistic pleasures are interesting to watch from the outside, but because they ultimately seek self-negation, they are too dangerous to associate with for very long. The Adept seeks to be Self, to the Nth degree… but all things contain their own contradiction, and sometimes an Adept will lose their way and join the Blood Dolls.
The Unquiet Dead are people who consider themselves dead because they no longer have bodies. Like Vampires, they routinely ignore their own self-awareness and agency. To these people, being unable (for the most part) to touch the material world of the living is not replaced by their new ability to touch the spiritual world of the “dead.” They are generally somewhat confused, but are so close to old drifting memories in the Astral, as well as random contact with the Akashic Record, that they are splendid conduits to hidden knowledge.
Though neither the Loa Masters nor the Adepts accept it, Loa Masters are actually a specialized subset of the Adepts. (To be fair, the Loa Masters see the situation in the reverse, considering themselves the only really conscious workers of magick, and all others as inferior thinkers. To each their own.) Loa Masters are aggressive, selfish, greedy, sadistic and violently dedicated to power in the material world. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course, except that it’s a chaotic, destructive, shortsighted waste of time. Bad ideas shouldn’t be encouraged, so Loa Masters that won’t change their minds or learn to live and let live should be wiped out from the material and every adjacent plane of reality. Not to worry, there will always be more of them.
As it turns out, the Adepts are not the only ones to splinter off from the earliest human spiritual congregations. There have always been noxious and unpleasant spirits, usually non-human in origin, that have sought worship and service from humans—and some of them are so bad that no modern religion venerates them, if you can believe it. These spirits have routinely found groups of people who were not inspired to magick, but who were also dissatisfied with more conventional religions, causing them to form reckless cults dedicated to bringing their “dark gods” into the material plane. These Cultists have varying degrees of sophistication, and they worship different entities, but they all share in common a reduced (or nonexistent) sense of self-preservation. There are easier ways to commit suicide, of course, and it would be nice if they could just go join some boring mainstream faith-group. Since they refuse to do either of these things, it’s necessary to destroy them and banish their spirit-allies before they can wreak havoc in the world.
There is a grudging respect between Adepts and Necromancers. Adepts are visionaries that see many worlds with their eyes wide open. Necromancers are something like blind Zen archers, who cannot see where their arrows go yet never miss their targets. Using magick without intuition or inspiration, groping in the void with cold machines and dead flesh—it’s actually very inspiring. Unfortunately, their ambition to merge multiple vibrational planes of reality is both interesting and intolerable. (To carry the analogy further, the blind archers have started to use flaming arrows in a field full of high explosives and tanks of jet fuel.) They have to be stopped from carrying out their experiments wherever they’re found, but it needn’t be by destroying them. Imagine if they really understood what they were doing!
Homicidal maniacs that jump to snap moral judgments of every “supernatural” being they encounter, trying to “clean up” the “normal world” and “protect innocent people.” It would be hard to list everything wrong with that worldview in one paragraph, as far as the Adepts are concerned. If you feel like living dangerously, work with them. If you’d rather not have them decide that you’re a “monster” one day and have them twist your head off at the neck, avoid them.
The Lunar Covenant
A very civilized society of animal-human shapeshifters, deeply devoted to natural religions and harmonious ideologies. There’s no reason not to coexist with them, except when they insist that nature requires humans to die randomly in horrible ways, or when they push harmony upon you in the form of you obeying their law instead of your own. This isn’t all that uncommon, so like the Slayers, an Adept is wise who keeps a distance from the Lunar Covenant.
There are… others. Most of them are not as widely known in the world as they should be. All of them inspire respectful caution.
But never, ever servitude.