The following is from the new book, THE QUEST FOR GNOSIS, available now.
Some people come into your life who simply exude something so kind and generous, a glow of goodness, Maja is one of those people. A brilliant author, orator, radio host, mother and snappy dresser, Maja does it all with a soft and strong grace. I’ve had the pleasure of attending many of Maja’s Magic School sessions at the legendary Theosophical Society’s Besant Lodge and have learned a great deal from her insights. She delivers a message that confirms the presence of magic in the world, but pulls no punches when discussing the how’s and why’s of the world being so messed up. It is a privilege and an honor to have her grace the pages of this book and I think after you see our conversation, you will adore her as well.
GDR – Maja, what does the term Gnosis mean to you in the classical sense and what does it mean in the present practical sense? Does it have any value to us now and how may we achieve it?
MD – The way I view Gnosis probably isn’t the same as most in the “classical” sense. Most people would say Gnosis is “wisdom” or “knowledge” as it is of course the root of our word “know”, which actually means to “recognize”, or think again, or remember. Technically gnosis is the act of remembering what we have forgotten. But my own journey into the word Gnostic led all over the place. First it was a book. I came across the Gnostic Gospels and of course couldn’t believe all the extra bible stuff in there and had to get to the bottom of what “gnostic” was. Looking it up doesn’t help. It is at the same time, a word that describes things, A group of people that had a religion, a body of religious literature and then gnosticism that was a religion. So it seems this is a verb, a noun, an adverb and an adjective. But what does that mean. The Gnostics seemed to think the world was evil, all matter was corrupt, and our job was to free the light inside of it and ascend to heaven the only place that beauty lived. The Gnostic Gospels are from Christians, or a branch of christians, who had additional stories about Jesus that didn’t quite jive with some things in the new testament.
So to me the term Gnosis, because it is so many things is really a reminder that all things are everything. To achieve it we have to find the connections and unifications underlying all matter in the universe. Piece of cake, right?
GDR – A lot of people may be confused about what magick really is; what is your definition of it?
MD – My definition of magic is an engagement in an alteration of perception which allows the perceiver the ability to see/feel more of reality than otherwise possible. Much like when the sun and rain combine to reveal the rainbow beneath, magic is anything that can provide an increase in our perception to see the true nature of the universe.
GDR – People often associate magick with bad stuff, but how do the big religions relate to magick? Do they ever use it without knowing?
MD – ALL religions without exception use, or base their rituals and principles upon magic. From the Eucharist to the miracle of the Maccabees, to the dismemberment of the Buddha, magic pervades every messiah and all altars in religious temples around the globe. The word Magic comes from the same root as MAGI, as in the wise men/women or priests (the root of my own name, Maja contains the same). The words magician and priest used to be the same.
GDR – How can one have a belief in magick and still be considered a reasonable person when it comes to everyday life?
MD – This is VERY possible and achievable under one condition. you can not BELIEVE in magic at all. You have to just do it, perceive it and participate with it. That way, you aren’t just speaking from your posterior. If you actually DO MAGIC it is not necessary to BELIEVE in it, because you have a direct experience of it. Just like you would sound like an idiot if you tried to write a paper on the Ocean, and in fact, have never been to the ocean. Magic is not separate from reason anymore than anything else in the universe. It makes perfect sense. People sound ridiculous talking about magic when they have in fact, never experienced it and are just trying to sound spooky or powerful. It is the same with God in my opinion, you don’t need to believe in God, just experience it.
GDR – What was your introduction to magick as a real thing? How did it change your interactions with others?
MD – I have been blessed to have experienced magic from the time I was a child. At that time it was through illnesses and fevers mostly. I have always just been confused when others didn’t know what I was talking about. The only thing it changes in my interactions with others is that people’s reaction to the mention of magic allows me a better sense of knowing when I’m wasting my time. So Magic has afforded me the ability to save tremendous amounts of time that would have otherwise been lost on nincompoops.
GDR – What pitfalls does the modern magician face today and what methods do you employ to avoid them?
MD – Judgment and scorn, mockery and attack, mistrust and fear are always the pitfalls of the magician, but I manage to avoid these by not paying them any mind (and working hard to get my mind off of them) and continuing along my way.
GDR – Can you give me an example of how magicians can help shape and influence culture for the better?
MD – USE YOUR MIND. Any magician holds sway and influence by organizing their consciousness to divine will. If you want to influence culture, be of service to people. Help people. Heal people. Listen to them. INSPIRE them. By being inspirational in your life and how you live. A great example of a magician who did this is Ghandi. To understand that, try and bend your brainpan to include the yogi’s in the magician category, because yogis are magicians.
GDR – When people hear the name Aleister Crowley, or Helena Blavatsky, there is often an immediate backlash. How are these two prominent characters of magick in general misunderstood and how can we parse their good stuff from the bad?
MD – Crowley worked hard to make propaganda for himself, as did Blavatsky. Their infamy comes from hard work. ANYONE I have ever heard have a bad reaction to either of these two had never READ or had any direct experience of them whatsoever. I have arduously taken to the time to read MANY volumes of writing by both and found them to be extremely intelligent, original, perceptive magicians, who it is true might have had some nefarious ideas thrown in here and there, but really, which one of us humans has never done that? While I don’t agree with everything either of them said or did, you can not mistake their genius. Anyone who can come up with their own system of magic or their own religion is doing ok in the thinking department.
GDR – What is the relation between magick and psychedelics?
MD – As I stated, I see magic as an increase in perception. Obviously, psychedelics can increase our perception. The trick is, you MUST remain CONSCIOUS while engaging, or you simply get posessed, and there is no magic or will or discipline in that at all is there?
GDR – How do you stay positive in a world that seems to be increasingly full of bad juju?
MD – All bad juju can serve as a reminder that the opposing force is equally present. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Each proton requires an electron as every asshole has a saint. Bad juju, demons, and black magic are as much evidence of GOD as anything more froofy and rainbowy.
GDR – Are you keen to the concept of the Aquarian age being a golden age? If so, what should we be doing to make that golden age come about?
MD – All time is now. The idea of getting to a better place is illusion. The golden age is in your heart for all eternity. No person, time, drug, food, or magical happy land will make everything perfect. Everything is already perfect.
The Quest For Gnosis is an anthology of over 20 of the brightest luminaries of our time, including Matt Staggs,
Thad McKraken, Graham Hancock, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Nick Margerrisson, David Metcalfe, Peter J. Carroll and many many more. You may find out more and pick up a copy here.
Gabriel writes for VICE Magazine, Disinfo.com and Realitysandwich.com and is the author of three books. He is continuing his research at the University of Washington in his hometown of Tacoma, WA.