Below you will find an interview with writer, magician and blogger Jeff Wolfe. I connected with Jeff via Chis Knowles “The Secret Sun” blog facebook page. After reading some of his posts, I just knew I had to reach out to him. Jeff’s blog Secret Transmissions is a phenomenal project detailing his experiences and insights regarding magic, occultism, esoterica, paranormal, media, politics, art and etc. Highly recommended.
Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
A: At this stage I would have to say being a father of two kids and attempting to correct all the flaws and failures that I spent my life dealing with from my father.
I’m barely halfway through this deal hopefully so I really don’t like to take that sort of measurement midgame. I’m not so much interested in racking up material achievements as I am in living a fully realized life. Quantifying or taking measurements leads me to comparisons that are usually unhelpful. I have to resist playing the achievement game because that traps my in ego and I get paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough to try to do this or that.
To me, engaging fully in life is an achievement. Being fully responsible to my family. Being actively engaged in practices of spiritual growth. Getting up before dawn to do a ritual and meditate is an achievement. Pursuing a life of self-education, always being a student. Creative self-expression through creating art, writing and design is very important. I have a martial arts practice and there are various stages of “achievement” I get to experience there. Helping other people and having an active service life is important. If I could overcome my own self-centeredness and selfishness, that would be a hell of an achievement. None of these things are “achieved” by will alone. My philosophy dictates that forces of divinity have to be brought into my will in order for me to do all the things I mentioned.
I have things in front of me that I want to do like writing some books. Achievements can become sources of complacency. I’m just getting warmed up – I have a lot of work in front of me yet.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: Rather than “heroes” I think of them more as role models or inspirations. Hero connotes a level of idolization that always serves to become a letdown because of how flawed we all are. Putting others on pedestals is not fair to them and it distorts reality in my own mind. They don’t want to be up there and those that do really don’t deserve to be! Again, just trying to keep a healthy relationship with things is important.
That being said I have a deep respect for Robert Anton Wilson, David Lynch, Bruce Lee, Manly P. Hall, Stanley Kubrick, Jimi Hendrix, Paramahansa Yoganada, Philip K. Dick, Edward Snowden, Herbert Matter, Lysander Spooner, John Carpenter, Jim Morrison, Jack Kirby, Carl Jung, Abby Martin, Henry David Thoreau, Gichin Funakoshi, Glen Danzig, Kurt Vonnegut, Benjamin Tucker, Marcus Aurelius, Bill Hicks, Rod Serling, Jonathan Hickman, Henry Rollins, Alexander Rodchenko, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Joseph Campbell, Philippe Druillet, Viktor Frankl, Terry Gilliam, Jaz Colman
Q: What is the goal of your blog secret transmissions?
A: It’s a self-expression project. A labor of love. It’s a vehicle for channeling all of my passions into a project in a way that what I do for money can never account for. I want to present challenges to either mundane materialism or conventional ways of thinking in the fields of creativity, spirituality and philosophy. If I can create a fraction of agitation against the systems of power and thought control all around us, then I’m happy to do that work.
There are several prongs to it. It started off as a handmade print zine that was a combination of collage designs, drawings and short fiction. A desire to return to my commitment to writing was the impetus. I had put that tool on the shelf for too long and needed to dust it off. I also really wanted to seed political or spiritual bits of wisdom out there for people to consider. Once I got going I realized I wanted to include far more material than a zine allowed me to contain. The time-consuming nature of zine creation put serious restrictions on how often I could release work. A compendium blog was the natural outgrowth of that circumstance. But I started out as a reaction to blogs. I wanted to do an anti-digital, punk project that could be held in 3D space. Oh, well. Doing both is my compromise with that. I’ve reached tremendously more people by being online.
So, on the blog I have my weird pieces of low-brow sci-fi/fantasy fiction and poetry that are on there just to satisfy my need to explore creative or abstract ideas. Aside from that I like to write in a slightly more journalistic way to explore other important concerns and commitments I have. I write pieces having to do with esotericism and occult magic from my own experiences that I find adds to my development. I love to get into mysterious and conspiratorial focused stories so, that’s another avenue. And then I have essays on political matters, usually from an anarchist, anti-authoritarian or civil libertarian bent. It’s all meant to be subversive. If they’re secret transmissions, then my point is obviously to deal in the irreverent and dark aspects of life that are lurking in the shadows. That’s always what’s fascinated me for my whole life.
Aside from my personal stuff, the blog is there to highlight really fascinating people and their ideas that have meant something to me. My true hope is to form relationships with people who have the same unusual interests as I do. Not one person I work with at the paid job is into any of this material, so I do this to reach out and try to communicate with “the others.”
Q: From your perspective, what is the relationship between marketing, advertising and magic?
A: I think Grant Morrison did the best job of explaining that dynamic at his Disinfo Con speech many years ago. I have my own personal story on the blog in which I try to add a little bit to that story. Confession of an Art Director: Occult Advertising Tech – http://www.secrettransmissions.com/2016/12/confession-of-art-director-occult.html
Any piece of communication can be encoded with a hidden suggestion. Advertising is all about making suggestions to a mass audience. In that way, it’s a form of propaganda. Usually limited to bolstering the cult of corporate consumerism. Obviously those same techniques can be weaponized for politics. The Nazi party really exploited the nature of that relationship in the most occult sense. They were recharging old archetypes and thought-forms through symbols in order to bring into manifestation a particular outcome. Symbols that are religiously or politically changed have a profound impact. With materialistic or consumer-based symbols, there is a certain charge to those as well but it all depends on the consciousness of the designer.
Some symbols only become charged with associations that are layered on them either through a mass-market campaign that sets up the ideals of the brand persona or they are mirrored back into them from the minds of the audience. The energy embedded into the D&G logo or the Chevrolet bowtie are generated as much from the desires and ambitions of the public as they are from the corporate executives off in some corner office. The brand can seed a symbol into the consciousness by way of a mass media apparatus but the real magic is only activated by the focus and intentions of millions of people’s attention over the course of decades. It’s a two-way field.
The other occult work that is apparent really has to do with the aggressive effort to plant ideas and desires or associations into people’s minds. Symbols rule the world in a shadowy way. It’s pretty much overlooked or taken for granted. Advertising thinks of this in terms of psychology without the vocabulary of esoteric doctrines. The magician understands that psychology is a field on which magic can play out, so I make the connection there.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: There’s not any crazy story to that. I look for the subtlety of personality change and an opening of the mind to magical thought as a valid indicator more so than a fleeting white light experience. It’s been more of noticing a lot of little synchronicities. A thought of my grandmother came to me in ritual a moment before I got the call about her passing, maybe that was a sign? Premonitions or intuitions become more apparent but I’m still waiting for the clouds to part and entities to float down.
Am I supposed to gather that magic is real or is the real insight that the universe operates magically?
I recently wrote an article for the blog going into this topic. For me, the “results” or “realness” of doing rituals is all about the person I can become or manifest through will and intent, not visions or hearing voices or anything like that. What’s real is feeling energized and inspired to create. A sense of well-being and present calmness. An ability to coup with life’s curveballs and setbacks and being resilient to overcome those things. I think the disciplined nature of the occult bodes well for a person’s perseverance.
The peace and focus of going through a ritual is the cool thing all by itself. I feel confident that certain intentions I have beamed out at the altar have manifested. It’s never something I can provide concrete evidence for so it’s tricky. Sometimes I have had odd physical sensations in ritual or involuntary body movements. This one occasion I felt like my arms were being lifted up and out by themselves. I don’t know what that was all about except that it was pretty weird at the time.
There is a compelling academic or intellectual aspect that is very sticky. I find the entire body of work incredibly fascinating and very real. The stimulation of studying the occult is plenty enough to motivate me through stretches were no apparent changes are happening. Like martial arts, I perceive that alchemical transmutations on the spiritual level take time and that change can go undetected by the subject until a later date.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: I would have to say my own brain is the most crucial tech for magic. I’m pretty low “tech” as far as that goes. Without a dedicated mind to work with any material tools you have aren’t going to amount to much. The Tarot and representations of the four elements represent the core elements on my altar with a handful of symbolic items. There’s plenty of stuff I’ve never attempted and still developing myself in the training, so my work is simple in a way. I’m really at the ground floor of a cavernous temple.
Q: At what age did you start practicing magic and why?
A: I really didn’t really work magic in a formal sense until I was 34 I guess. I started a committed meditation practice and prayer when I was 22-23. My wanting for something more impactful and flavorful led me to really investigate alternative spiritual practices. I was looking for something with more meat and a worldview. I found simple Zen work to leave me a bit cold. I didn’t know where to go with it.
In the occult I found what I had been looking for. As a visual person, ritual really allows for an activation of symbolism and visualizations that’s very stimulating and powerful. There’s just so much more engagement with magic that brings together all of our sensory perceptions as well as the limitless depths of our imaginations. The western tradition cosmologies just connected with me in a profound and immediate way.
The why behind all of it really started out of critical need to rebuild my life and find a replacement for a drug and alcohol addiction that was out of control and putting my life in jeopardy. Spirituality was the last place I looked for an answer but the only one that proved effective. Ever since I saw the benefit in it, like the drugs before, my attitude has been – “more, more, more, go, go, go.”
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
A: I don’t consider myself all that experienced to be giving advice, I try to avoid advice giving in principle because what’s right for me could be totally wrong for someone else. Then they end up frustrated. I’m always happy to share my experience with that caveat as a preface.
Personally, I’ve found a huge benefit from having a mentor to work with who can pass down material that has a legacy or tradition. That process is particularly delicate, as both mentor and pupil have to be on a similar wavelength and not every practitioner makes for a good teacher.
Despite the trend away from the Lodge system, I think formal initiation is very compelling and under the right circumstances with a healthy student body and leadership, having others to work a formal system with is very practical and offers benefits that online communities can never achieve. This is very clear to me as I reflect on my martial training and consider how ludicrous it would be for me to try to teach myself with only books and non-responsive media. I could get some basics for sure, but without direct feedback and the energy of the group and mentorship, I wouldn’t have gotten very far at all.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: At the moment I’m in the middle of a short fiction piece. It’s a fantasy story about a reporter on the rocks who is on assignment at a weekend music and magic festival put on by a conceited rock star who’s trying to win back the favor of the gods in a troubled world. Working in the shadows at the festival is a megalomaniac cult leader who is in cahoots with an army of banished mythical creatures who want to force their way out of the underworld.
I’d love to get that done but it keeps getting shuffled back as I try to keep content coming on the blog with some consistency. There are always interviews to be put together or essays that come up when the inspiration arises.
It will probably be awhile before I do another zine. A new drawing for a series I have going needs to happen very soon as well. All this stuff happens while I’m juggling paying work and family activities, so it can be a challenge.
Concepts for another two or three short stories have been jotted down for when the right time comes.
A longer-term goal I have is to write a book that reframes the 12 Step recovery model using myths, archetypes and symbols for people that are more magically minded that might be more inspired by a less Judeo-Christian oriented language and baggage. The original founders of that system did a tremendous job given their background experience and considering the timeframe. That being said, I believe those basic principles can fluidly animate other interpretational frameworks to customize and optimize the inherent magical symbolism that work has the potential for.
Shit, I have a lot of work to do!
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: My mouth says “no thanks,” but my eyes say, “don’t invade my fucking privacy ever again,” as the door closes in their face.
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: That’s an interesting question. There’s a lot of ways I could take that. It depends on if the assumption is that magic doesn’t already deeply effect political events. There are plenty of conspiracy theorists that argue very emphatically that governments are up to their eyeballs in black magic, blood sacrifice and demonic conjuring. I’m sure everyone has read about the “Satanic Illuminati” running the world who may or may not also be a reptilian alien race. It’s all fun and weird stuff to consider but I don’t take David Icke seriously beyond a certain point. Usually all the guys the harp on the Illuminati stuff have no first hand experience with magic and are working through an apocalyptic Christian reality tunnel.
Mark Passio has a more nuanced argument for Satanists ruling the world. His definition of Satanist is not from the traditional theistic framework but that the core of what Satan symbolizes is selfishness – a total sociopathic disregard for the well-being of others. From that description, it’s not so hard to associate politicians and banking elites as practicing Satanists. The blood sacrifices are the endless wars and deaths from deprivation from basic necessities. It’s a more metaphoric but nonetheless pretty accurate assessment of the character of a lot of these people, most certainly the shadow state faction.
Do I think they hold black masses to a literal Satan? I have no idea. It’s all speculation until some documentation comes about. People need to be fairly discerning when they start watching some of these NWO YouTube videos. It’s easy to fall for a load of nonsense if you allow yourself.
Thinking of magic as strongly willed intent and directed energy upon an outcome, then politics is totally magic. The propaganda of media and persuasion, which ties back to the early question about mass advertising, is very much an act of magical mind control. We all know just how serious the Nazis took their occultism and sigilizing.
Back to your original question of whether magic should influence politics – I would say ideally there would be no politics that power hungry maniacs could seize onto in order to work their dark magic. That’s exactly the conclusion that Passio’s work reaches. In the unlikely event that we ever see hierarchical politics dissolved down into self-governed communities, it would be nice to think that a rebellious magic focused on truth, liberty and peace could work against all the evil shit that happens.
Douglas Rushkoff just released a comic set in WWII that deals with Aleister Crowley working with the British military to fight Hitler, magic versus magic. That’s a fascinating piece of alleged history. I suppose it’s possible – but my vision would be magicians not working as government agents but as anarchists undermining their most destructive activities.
We don’t really see much evidence of that happening though, do we? The bastards seem to have us on the ropes in very serious ways. They’re hypnotic magic is winning. Maybe now is the time to up the magical ante?
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