And now, Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery has very kindly agreed to share his knowledge and perspective on Chapter 1 – First Steps.
Jason Miller, also known as Inominandum, is well-known teacher, author and a sorceror’s sorcerer. His search for the seeds of magical arte have taken him to New Orleans to study Hoodoo, Europe to study Witchcraft and Ceremonial Magick, and Nepal to study Tantra. Miller is a member of the Chthonic Ouranian Temple and the Sangreal Sodality, as well as an initiated Tantrika in the Nyingma and Bon lineages of Tibet. His published works include “The Sorcerer’s Secrets, Strategies in Practical Magick” and “Protection and Reversal Magick.”
For your reading ease, bits from Mastering Witchcraft are quoted below, with discussion points. The bolded bits are Jason’s responses.
____________________________________________________________hapter One, in which Our Hero makes a Token Gesture, encourages us to Pray to the Moon, discourages us from “charging for It,” and teaches us How to Tell Time
“… the time-honoured tradition of repeating the so-called Lord’s Prayer backwards … Whether you are or were a practicing Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Mohammedan … make no difference at all. As long as you are living in a ‘Christian’ country, the gesture is most effective. Just a simple loosening of the mundane knot – a process of blessed unbinding.”
Is there any benefit to ritually severing old religious ties before forming new ones?
There can be, especially if you saw your old religion as repressive. I never saw Christianity as a repressive force in my life, quite the opposite in fact. It was never forced on me. I had to ask to go to church, and when I did I had a very liberal minister that even gave me a book on Tarot.
I did eventually perform Huson’s ritual and felt a certain freedom of thought and the freedom to explore other religions as a consequence, and I certainly think it was an empowering experience.
Will doing so truly ‘unbind’ the practitioner, even if they aren’t Christian?
It won’t completely unbind them, but it can help. I suppose it could also set off spiritual crisis in people that are not ready for that step, but hey magic can be dangerous.
Is saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards disrespectful? Why? Why not?
It really depends upon the intent. If you think that you are doing something to mock or belittle another religion, then yes. If you are doing it to free yourself from repressive patterns then no. The way Huson writes the ritual it is clearly a private and personal matter, not something done for public audience, so I would say no, it is not disrespectful the way it is written.
“The more emotional and deeply knotted the roots of your secret visions are, the more potent will they be to effect the working of your charms.”
Why does a spell work? Is it the emotions and intent behind a spell which makes the magic work, or the materials and words?
All that and more. A terrible mistake that a lot of modern witches make is thinking that they have isolated one model by which magic works. Many claim the materials don’t matter because it is all in the mind, but I completely disagree, people did not painstakingly record traditions of herbal and material magic for centuries because it did not matter. The words, the materials, the mindset, the spirits… it all matters. That is not to say that you cannot replace elements or even do without elements on occasion, but they all matter and impact the work.
Do you, personally, have to feel strongly about circumstances in order to work magic to change them? Or can you stir up an appropriate emotion from your own memories, then “transfer” that emotion to the work at hand?
I work for clients all the time with good results.
“You must begin to assert yourself; it doesn’t matter on precisely what, but generally… To use it disinterestedly at first is the best way to begin, so concentrate on inconsequential things that you normally wouldn’t give a fig about, and before you embark on them, become aware of the fact that you are now switching on your magical will.”
Can you develop a stronger will, or are you stuck with what you’re born with?
Yes of course the will can be strengthened and developed.
Is it possible to “switch” magical will on or off? Benefits? Drawbacks?
There is no such thing as the magical will, there is just the will. As you develop it and get used to using it to manifest results, you need to learn to integrate it into your life.
“…as a witch [you] must never break your word …. You are trying to cultivate a state of mind which you can switch on at will, whereby … whatever you say is going to come true. In this case, the words of the spell.”
Is it possible to “lie by omission” and still be work effective spells?
It is possible to lie outright and perform magic. The concept of breaking your word is about breaking a promise, not about never lying.
Do morals or ethics play into the concept of a witch’s word?
Of course they play into it, but not as much as some people think. There is a tendency to over-think ethics in the witchcraft community right now and treat magic as fundamentally different than mundane actions. For instance, there are many actions people would take to influence others, or get promoted over another person, or cause some kind of small harm using normal means, yet feel that doing it with magic would be the height of immorality. This is quite far from the traditional view of the witch, and certainly different than the one that Huson presents.
“For some reason real monetary involvement appears to vitiate the potency of the magic … most witches I know have generally found it to be the case … you will be able to bind your spells blithely without police interference as long as you do not actually get caught taking money for them or instigating any obvious antisocial activities such as blackmail, extortion, intimidation, or flagrant sexual practices of which the state may not approve.”
Does money interfere with how effective magic is? Are there situations where a witch should charge for magical work? Are there situations where money shouldn’t be charged?
This is an area where I completely disagree with Huson. Money is exchanged for magic all over the world, nothing could be more traditional.
“Everything that seems to have an inherent power in it, that triggers the emotions strongly, is pressed into use for the purposes of magic. Snippets of folklore, religion, myth, and herbal lore, all are blended together with notorious in difference to mixing of styles and cultures. All that matters is the item’s effect on you and your deep mind.”
How much mixing is ok? Herbs from differing cultures in the same rite? Calling upon gods from different cultures in the same rite?
This is a complex issue. If mixing is done with intelligence, respect, and knowledge, there is no problem. Unfortunately this is not often the case. There are situations where disrespectful, inept, and even dangerous situations arise from wild eclecticism.
If a witch works more than one tradition, should they use one correspondence table across multiple traditions, or change tables for each tradition?
They should be able to work all traditions within their own context AND be able to work them slightly out of context in order to successfully blend them. It is a complicated issue that needs to be treated on a case by case basis. It is easier to stick to one tradition, but if you can work in more than one successfully, the rewards are great.
“As a witch, you do not necessarily have to worship any complete and permanent hierarchy of supernatural beings if you don’t want to. There simply exists power to be tapped … there exist certain entities who will aid you in your spells; … but you must realize that they are now as dependent on your attentions as you in your spells are on theirs.”
Are the gods Jungian archetypes or discrete beings?
Both and more. On one level the gods are truly cosmic forces. On another they do represent constructs within the mind. On another they can be extremely powerful spirits that act and had better be treated as discrete beings. Let’s also not forget that the pantheons of deities are also the archetypal disfunctional families. There can be a lot of baggage that comes from a particular being. You can approach them on various levels and get different results. Thinking of a being as merely an archetype and ignoring its particular mythology and ritual protocol however is BAD magic. Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali, and Inanna are NOT the same being. They may have overlapping functions, but the mythologies are discrete and whether you want to or not, you are getting all that as well.
Are the gods necessary to the work of magic? Can witches work effective magic without them?
Necessary No. Helpful yes.
Is it possible to keep relationships with more than one god at a time? Are there practical considerations?
Yes to both questions. The considerations depend on the deities in question.
“The sun and the moon are the two great hands of our cosmic clock. Whereas the hour hand or sun governs the seasons of the year, the moon or minute hand governs the sea tides and the hidden workings of the deep mind.”
Does timing matter? How far do you, personally, take it in timing spells?
Timing is important, and there are a lot of ways of looking at it. I use the Tibetan view of doing healing and pacifying work at dawn, increasing work at noon, magnetizing or enchanting or influencing in early evening, and wrathful work at night. However if you are working with planets there are the day and hour considerations, and even several ways of looking at those. For a proper astrologer, the timing considerations get very complex, but are the hinge of the system. In Huson’s system, it is not that vital.