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Magick & Me

I was initiated into the magickal practice during a very long period of self-imposed exile, during which time I had come to lose faith in everything I had previously taken for granted. The hierophant who introduced me to this very different way of thinking was a young man named Tim, with whom I had very few interactions. The little time we did spend together was, however, rich with esotericism. Synchronicities were firing off left and right all around me at the time, and I can only think now that, if I do have a soul (and this is still very much up for debate), it was sending out a kind of psycho-spiritual distress signal in the hope of being rescued from an extremely depressing time in my life. Tim answered the call.

I should probably go ahead and mention: this isn’t a short story like previous entries, this all happened for really-reals.

Okay, some context: I dropped out of school when I was twelve. Had something akin to a breakdown following an assault and never quite recovered from it. I withdrew from the world, stopped going outside, stopped speaking to people, stopped opening the curtains. When I finally emerged and began talking to people again, they always asked the same question: was I American? This was due to me not having spoken to anyone in a very long time and spending a lot of time listening to podcasts from the States. This might sound a bit strange, but that’s what pretty much not leaving a room for eight years will do to you.
Hoping to gradually re-enter society, I applied to volunteer at a charity bookshop, and right around the time I started working there, so did Tim.

I don’t know where Tim came from, I don’t know where he went. All I know about him is that he’d read some pretty interesting literature and it had coloured his perceptions somewhat. We got to talking, and he revealed an interest in magick. Magic, I asked? Like, as in card tricks and tophats? Nono, that was ‘magic’. It was MAGICK Tim was into (don’t get too obsessed with the difference in spelling; it was mostly Crowley’s way of being all individual and shit). Tim told me that he’d read certain books, certain texts, and had practiced certain techniques described within, and horror of horrors: he’d gotten results from it. I was intrigued.

He put me onto certain books and comics, and then just as soon as I’d met him he was gone. He’d joked about putting his barista-CV into the letterbox of the local Freemason lodge, and I never heard from him again, Coincidence I know, but it’s an entertaining path of thought.

Reading these works, most of which had a ‘Chaos magick’ bent to them (more on that later), I realised something: I’d already done this stuff.

Side-story: When I was 16, I’d discovered weed. This isn’t easy to do when you don’t get out of the house, but somehow I’d finagled a way to procure it without having to know anybody. Problem was, it was freaking me out hard. I was getting seriously fucked-up visions from it, really dark paths of thinking, and I was just about ready to just pack it in when I had a weird thought: why not ask a God to help? Far as I could tell, there weren’t many Gods around who existed solely to defend the worshipper from throwing a whitey, so I figured I’d make one up. I spent two weeks designing this deity (bear with me, I was pretty messed up back then); I had an invocation, a prayer, a visualisation, and method of communion, the whole nine-yards. And as soon as I started saying a prayer to this Goddess I’d concocted… no more freak-outs. No more paranoia. Now maybe it was the deep breathing, maybe it was the meditation, maybe just maybe I actually caused a deity to come into being. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is this: I got the results I wanted. You can imagine how overjoyed I was when I realised years later, while reading about chaos-magick, that I’d been doing it all along.

I got into Tarot cards, sigil magick, even invoked Choronzon one time when I felt my life needed to change (and Christ did it…), and I loved every second of it. Alan Moore described it really well one time, he said that it’s important you understand that when someone who’s into magick talks about all this stuff, that they are at once deadly serious, and also talking about things happening exclusively in their heads. Your mind and perceptions are your own territory; do what you want with it. Magick, as I saw it, was just a way of tricking your brain into processing things differently, in a way that appeared to alter the exterior world. Whether it did or not wasn’t really important; it all came down to a kind of solipsist-satisfaction.

At this point my idea of “The World” was very malleable. I’d been cut off from it for the better part of a decade, and was now engaged in mental exercises that taught me not to put too much faith in any one perception-model. Due to all this, I think, I reacted VERY positively to hallucinogenic drugs. As I see it, chemicals like psilocybin and LSD take a wrecking-ball to the concrete structures we’ve built in our minds since childhood. This is why some people find it scary: it’s the ultimate in uncanny-horror, the realisation that the familiar is in fact very far from it, and that perhaps you’ve been wrong all along, perhaps everyone has. Never run from what you see on acid; acid didn’t put anything there, it just dredged up what was already buried deep in your unconscious. For me, the world hadn’t really solidified into that concrete form. I’d taken it apart piece-by-piece during my exile, and it was all newly-laid wet clay when I started engaging in magick and psychedelics. All the drugs did was teach me not to let it harden, to keep my mind open to all possible facets of perception. This may be why I’ve yet to have a bad trip after ‘dropping’ around 14 times.

Eventually I went to university, and I kind of strayed from the magickal path a bit. Studies took up most of my time, and what spare time I did have I mostly spent on baser concerns: videogames, getting high, and jacking off. I’ll admit to having used sigils a couple times for essays I was a little nervous about, and those times yielded very good grades, but for the most part I was letting that funny little magus in me atrophy.

Now, a year after graduating, I’m feeling it again. I don’t know how to describe it, but the cards feel alive in my hands again, the sigils glow in my mind’s eye once more, and though perhaps a healthier mind would be worried about once again engaging in what a friend once described as “recreational schizophrenia”, I couldn’t be happier.

At least it’s got me writing again.

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‘memory marina’ – today, last night’s dream

I bought fish sandwiches from a vendor on the jetty, his food shielded from the downpour by thick sheets of plastic, and we ate them sombrely while listening to the rain falling on our hoods. Green humid scents blossomed from the blue tinted docks, wood swelling, hulls bumping, gentle bells ringing at spaced intervals. It was a miserable location that filled your heart with wonder. The Germans have a word for ‘melancholic longing’, but I’ve long since forgotten it.
The smell of that place is what stands out most. Not the pungent fish-stench you’d expect, but a deep royal blue scent. Hidden in that smell which poured from some gully in the recesses of my unconscious mind were the traces of every memory, like a fractal phantom odour. I recall it rising up from amidst the maelstrom of oceanic debris, so clustered you couldn’t even see the water. Bamboo poles clattered and rose among barnacled yacht hulls and floating blue plastic tubs. Discarded cans and lengths of rubber hosing twisted and foamed amidst caught netting.
The dull patter of rain against the hood I wore seemed ceaseless, as if the audio event was the flicker of silence in between liquid impacts rather than the rainfall itself.
There was a very real sense that this place was both forsaken and eternal. It had been left to amass haphazardly, this miasma of marine-detritus, and yet in that smell, that deep blue scent, I knew this place would endure long after many others had melted into the waking ephemeral.

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‘hong-kong’ – 2014, wrote on used receipt until i ran out of room

The compound-guard’s eyes changed colour as Li crossed the short bridge to the thick, mechanised gate, suffocating street traffic left behind all of a sudden. Few had reason to turn onto the anachronistic wooden walkway, and the guard in front of the solid, maroon door was all it took to dissuade the curious. His was a semi-sophisticated rig-job. If the Triad could afford tank-grown, it wasn’t letting anyone know. The guard’s body was ridged with semi-flexible bio-alloys, face concealed by a helm which delivered vital readouts and communiqués directly to his sensory nerves. The sapphire blue LEDs which dotted the faceplate switched to cautious amber as Li approached. His grip didn’t noticeable tighten around the rifle in his hands; it didn’t have to. Though primarily connected to the guard’s spine, lacking the full-body nerve bond that would have come as standard with a tank-job, the armour still acted as an exoskeleton, propelling the user’s strength and reflexes far beyond their organic base. If the genius-loci of the Bearded Tigers chose to reject this pilgrim, the last thing Li would see in this life would be an impossibly fast snap of movement, accompanied by the faceplate lights taking their final, terminal plunge to crimson.

Li considered tg=his as he made his way across the wooden bridge, making no effort to appear overtly diplomatic. He fought the urge to hold his palms out at his sides. The guard had doubtless detected the circuitry of his Mazzaram sidearm immediately, the Neo-Persian weapon considered the gun of choice for diplomats and ambassadors; the weapon was designed to announce itself to security systems loudly, in code that some mechanists described as ‘courteous’, or ‘civil’. Li suspected it only took the guard a quick sweep of his heat signature to notice the .38 snub too, a black slab of cold iron against the warmth of his ankle. Such crude, Pre-Nano throwbacks were often useful against those who placed too much faith in high-tech security. Some Canadian police departments no longer even bothered training officers in old-fashioned ballistics. Li’s intentions in carrying this weapon here weren’t malevolent; only a fool would think they could conceal or smuggle something here. But such precautions gave off the right message: he was capable.

When he was about three feet away from the sentry, Li stopped and stood, almost feeling the countless scanners and view-feeds caress him.
“I seek an audience with the Bearded Tigers,” he announced clearly to both the guard and the security team watching him.
“I have not been invited, yet I have information regarding Luo Zhun which I do not wish to share in an unsecure manner.”
Li waited, counting an unblinking twelve seconds, before the faceplate in front of him switched back to blue and the gate slowly, loudly slid open. The wooden boards he stood on were fat with rain, and Li knew there was a plethora of explosives and EMP emitters hidden beneath to stop any force the guard found beyond him. The Bearded Tigers’ territory was bordered on all sides by canal. With the flip of a switch, they could turn their piece of Hong Kong into a fortress. The gate finally open, the guard stepped aside to allow Li entry, and Li stepped forth over the threshold. He didn’t turn as the door slid shut. Ho didn’t need to to know that the guard was no longer watching him, Li knew his life now lay at the whim of any of a dozen snipers concealed in the higher apartment windows. His every breath now was a gift from the Triad. He set off straight ahead, moving away from the canal and into the heart of the district. There was more litter here, yet it felt cleaner. The Triads had long maintained a policy of exclusion in regard to foreign megacorps and zaibatsus, and as such the scant neon on display was all local. The lack of multinational indicators gave the place a sense of ‘authenticity’, mostly absent from such urban spaces and colonies.

The long path, walled in by housing tenements that stretched up into the cosmetic night sky’s orange haze came into a large central plaza, circular and dominated by a massive statue of Guan Yu, venerated in the Pre-Nano age as a god of war by some, loyalty by others. Li suspected that Guan Yu’s legendarily prominent beard was the true reason this particular Triad had adopted the long-dead god as their patron saint. At the foot of the statue, standing waist-high next to it was a woman Li recognised. It was intimidating, to be greeted by a face which stated out from countless wanted posters in the sprawl of south-east Asia.
“You know me.” She called to him across the eerily empty plaza as he approached. It didn’t sound like a question.
“You are Xing Guozhang,” Li responded, stopping halfway into the plaza. Might as well give the marksmen plenty of room to work with, he thought.
“Rising star of the Bearded Tigers,” Li continued. “It is said you’ll likely make Red Pole within the month.” Xing was covered from neck to toe with thick, grey traditional robes. Li quietly hoped she wouldn’t ask him to come closer. With all the obvious hidden security, the robe was a disarmingly defenceless article to wear. Li wasn’t fooled; by appearing relaxed in this place of her utmost safety, few would immediately suspect the arsenal of hidden guns and augmentations doubtless beneath the thick folds. Li was familiar enough with the Triads to know that someone like Xing didn’t rise the ascend the ladder this high by lowering her defences around ambitious allies.

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‘axehead’ – 2013, Bored at work

Ever hear that philosophical koan about the ship? A ship leaves port with lumber and a full crew. When it reaches the next port, rotten planks are replaced, crewmates leave and are similarly replaced. By the time it gets back to its point of origin, every plank and crewmember has been replaced. Is it the same ship as the one which first set sail?

First they took my eyes. Advanced biometrics were substituted, featuring high-definition feed quality, along with zoom, light-amplification, thermal-visioning and cutting-edge probability-matrix functioning. I took so well to my upgrade that I was selected for the Unit 23 trials. Basically they were guinea-pigging experimental combat augmentations on me, supposedly to check which upgrades could work in synchrony with others without conflicting. The true, unspoken motive behind my mechanisation, which became harder to conceal with every part of me they swapped out for experimental tech, was the clandestine development of a cutting-edge cybernetic combat unit. The public could handle the idea of a wounded soldier getting some new legs, or a squad being fitted with integrated visual HUDs, for better battlefield communication in the style of Landwarrior. But perfectly capable limbs, organs and synapses being replaced en-mass in the pursuit of greater lethal functionality? It was too ‘dystopian sci-fi’ for people to stomach.

A golem was being quietly pieced together while they slept, and it seemed unlikely that they would take well to this military-grade homunculus.

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shanking colin – 2013, bored at work

I had stabbed Colin, and he wasn’t letting me hear the end of it.
“Why do you even own a dagger?” He asked, arms raised incredulously from his slumped position on the floor. He nodded, gesturing at the ornate hilt protruding from his ribs.
“Did you inherit this or something?” He asked, studying it a little closer. “Looks like real silver. I don’t know how you’d afford this on that glorified barista’s wage.”
“I’m a fucking intern you disingenuous prick!” I snapped at him.
“Really?” Colin asked sarcastically, leaning back against the wall. “You could have fooled me; seems like all you do is make coffee for fucking yuppies. But we’re getting off topic – you fucking stabbed me, you cunt!”
“You still fixating on that?” I asked with a forced air of disinterest, but Colin had me there: I had stabbed him. The motive escaped me for an embarrassing second, and then continued to elude me for some time after that. The red mist was still clearing and I was trying to piece together the events that had lead up to my operatic outburst. It was a bit cringe, really. I mean, Colin had a point: who owns a dagger? Was I really so flamboyant as to drive a blade into my flatmate’s chest?
“Look, I’m just saying, it raises questions about what kind of person you are to live with,” Colin went on. He seemed to be running out of steam. So often that’s the way, let someone have their little rant and they peter out eventually. Or maybe it was the bloodloss.

I turned to the laptop on the kitchen counter and things started falling back into place. Yes. It was the email. That had been what caused me to come over all Medici. I leaned forward and scanned it again, ignoring the rustling sound behind me. Going over it again, I started to think to myself that I hadn’t actually overreacted that badly, all things considered. Colin had been an innocent party in all this, he’d just been the nearest stabable object.
“So, like, is it definitely happening then?” He asked from behind me.
“Certainly seems that way,” I murmured, trying to think of what the hell I could do to stop this. My chain of thought was paused by a sparking sound and a sudden waft of pungent smoke. I turned, eyes hooded, to see Colin toking on a surprisingly well-rolled spliff. Seeing me, he raised his eyebrows challengingly.
“I’m sorry, is my coping mechanism bothering you?”
“No, no,” I said hastily. “Just like, open a window, yeah?”
He looked about himself, slumped on the floor, and absently responded “Maybe in a minute or two.”
Looking back at my inbox, I began to try and figure out the next step here. They were fucking me, that was beyond doubt. The question was whether or not I could force them to give me a reach around.
“So what you gonna do, then?” Colin asked, sounding calmer than before.
“I’ve got an idea, but I think I’m going to need outside help,” I answered. “You up to a trip to Murphey’s?”
“Erm…” I heard Colin mutter. I turned, and followed his gaze up as a thin plume of bluish smoke trailed out around the edges of the dagger buried firmly in his lung.
“Think I might have my hands full for a bit here, mate.” He said nervously, raising the joint to his lips for another cautious toke.

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‘ezikiel’ – 2013, coming down

On some occasions the procurement of rum and marijuana wouldn’t quite cut it. This wasn’t just the regular life-affirming desire to surrender to the life-negation of jouissance; something had been *accomplished*, some hurdle overcome, a daemon exorcized, etc. On this occasion it would be necessary to seek out the services of Ezekiel. Ezekiel, or ‘Mandy’ as he was listed as on my phone, was an MDMA dealer who operated near Wimpey. His shit was so krunch. A soapy white fat chunk of his crystals would be all yours for the low, low price of £30, usually weighing in at just under a gram. Considering the comparative purity of the product, this was a fantastic deal. As such, Ezekiel was the kind of dealer you didn’t share that much, because you feared him getting busted and losing his services. I don’t know if it was left out of Biggie’s 10 Crack Commandments due to rhyming difficulties or simple oversight, but there’s a very powerful technique missing from the list, ultra-secret Dealer-Fu, only intended for the highly initiated in that particular black-market sector: Make the fiend *treasure* you. Then you’re a step closer to invincibility.

Anyway, Ezekiel’s shit was pure and unchanging, unlike Ezekiel himself. I say this, because no one I know who’s picked up from him has given matching descriptions. I see a tall, heavyset Maori with precise tribal ink. Friends of mine have described stocky boys from Peckham with strong noses and Nepalese scoundrels. This got me to thinking: what if there *is* no Ezekiel. Consider it; a selection of the regional dealers get together. For too long they’ve been ripping each other off and getting into unnecessary brawls, the only people who benefit from this being 5-0. What if instead, they Got Organized? Shared customer bases, pooled together for access to that truly pure Amsterdam shit? But who to lead the group? No one. Plain and simple. A code was put in place, the code of Ezekiel. Written in Ezekiel were the districts and prices of the respective associates. If any of them got pinched, say the same; I work for Ezekiel.

Or perhaps Ezekiel is an avatar of Nyarlathotep. This is my other theory.

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‘redlight’ – 2012, Tania’s kitchen

The hooker in the tower block opposite me has replaced her red light-bulb with a set of tiki torches. Though no less visually impressive, the ominous element has been lost. Used to be that the tower next to me was just a sheer wall of lightless apertures, like some creepy humming hive, the denizens only emerging in the lighted hours to swoop down upon the seafront to rip an infant from a foolishly uncovered pram, hot tenderflesh for the larvae. But at the very top there shone a single crimson maw, like the deathgina of some Titan out of pre-history which passed the aeons doing handstands, hoping to scoop in a few seagulls for sustenance/pleasure.

From this lighted vantage point, Captain Hook saw down on all the sins of the Kemp Town reprobates, the view extending on past the atrophied Lanes, the drab Western Road, seeing out as far as the marbled banality of Saint Hove, houses carved from vanilla ice-cream blocks, featuring no chocolate-chips.

Whether the eye was seared or simply shut to be preserved for a more deserving species is uncertain. However, in its place stand several Tiki torches. Perhaps a cabal of learned tantric monks trojaned their way in there and did slay the beast. Childe Roland to the Whore’s Tower came, and she spent fucking hours scrubbing it up.

Shub-Niggurath placated, they put in place an altar of erogenous worship, the torches acting as a guiding signal for the minds with two backs. No longer would the light act as an angler-fish’s lure, an electric traplight for flies with heaving loins. Now instead appropriate worship could be practiced towards the spirit of Release. Help the kids swap Onan for orgones, self-pollution for mutual-satisfaction.

I miss that light. Yes, it had an ominous quality, that leering vagina in the sky, but it was a warm light, an enveloping radiance that regarded everything the same pitiless lack of malice, serving as the tractor-beam for those geared towards the Grot, the Lost Ones who had to look over the edge of the abyss because they though they heard a familiar heartbeat pulsing somewhere in there.

Yeah, you chained the beast, well done. Now the walls begin to crack and smoulder, vines reaching up, looking to dig around in there, wondering where the Warmth went. The womb is empty, torches put in place to celebrate the birth of nothing, ascendency of the Void-Child, and soon the placenta will follow, roaring out of the cored pinnacle, full of maternal rage for its stolen birthfruit. The fury will wash down the bricks, feeding the vines and filling them with Relish, whipping about to cleave man and machine in two without thought, the martyred fluids flowing down the streets to fill the oceans, like some birth-squash, gleaming hands of unknown and terrifying life reaching out to tear the slats of the pier, kind hands stretched upward to the pier-goers, many of whom wordlessly leaping into the new Womb. An army of shared-birth flowing out into the channel, hoping to catch a rip-tide to swing back and stain the Hove streets with something truly unwashable. Out, damned spot! they’ll cry. Futile.

Maybe the bulb burst.

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