Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: that’s a good question, and a tough one, often the same thing!
On consideration it would be a cumulative result; becoming ‘adept’
with the True Grimoire aka the Grimorium Verum by patiently working
through it without too many burned fingers.
Like simpler rituals – such as say the Pentagram rite – it appears
complicated on paper, the only way to really understand it is by
doing. Explaining every little thing about the Pentagram could take a
major book with plentiful footnotes, but performing it takes only
minutes. The GV is obviously more complex, but the same applies;
performing it thoughtfully clarifies a lot and is not nearly as
complicated as explaining it to someone with no relevant experience.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on
your own journey?
A: Another tough question, I’m strongly influenced by Miyamoto Musashi,
about my only Oriental influence but a massive one. The expression
‘sword saint’ describes him well, I’m not sure if I coined it or not!
As for magicians, the closest to a role model is Paracelsus, who was
familiar with tradition but very far from cowed by it or afraid to
I’m also very fond of Cyrano de Bergerac, another swordsman who was
also so much more. Including a critic without fear or favour;
something I’ve aspired to be myself.
Q: How did your sword get its name?
A: I have a few, my old re-enactment falchion Semtex was known for making explosively loud noises when it hit shields; denting the allegedly
bulletproof breastplate of a known bully who ‘wouldn’t take his hits’;
and working as a crowbar when a heavy goods vehicle got its bumper
stuck on a rockery. Definitely a bit of a beast 😀
As a fan of Musashi though, I recommend not relying on any particular
weapon. In magic nowadays I don’t take a sword into the circle – like
Musashi who mastered the sword sufficiently not to even use one
on some notable occasions.
Q: Who is your favorite band?
A: Too many to hone down, but my first loves were MC5, Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies. In the punk era the Ramones, but they’re not the only
one I love from that time. Modern bands it’d be Rammstein & the Hives.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your
personal magical practice?
A: One of the very few love spells I’ve ever cast. The item didn’t seem
to be working, so I ‘returned it to nature’ by throwing it in a pond.
Some guys threw the object of my affections in the same pond shortly
after. Should have taken the thing to bed with me, obviously!
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: A pestle and mortar, I own more of them than I do pens.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Since the early 70s, some of it was terrible but I’ve got better!
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting
A: Don’t be intimidated by experts, find a good manual and work the hell
out of it. Getting a grip on technique is important, so is following a
good line of research, preferring primary sources as much as possible.
The internet is not the best place to pick up tips, and New Age Meccas
are not what they’re cracked up to be; though they can be fun. Explore
your local environment and find the magic in it. Also realise some
materials you need are available in hedgerows, ‘world food’ stockists,
grocers and hardware stores.
Q: Of all the books you have written, do you have a personal
favorite? If so, which one?
A: The Testament of Cyprian the Mage, it’s probably the one that will
take longest to make its full impact too.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at
A: I used to invite them in for theology debates, but that got old,
fortunately nowadays they can’t find the door!
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics
and world events?
A: Heck, good question, with all sorts of answers. I’ve long felt that
magic as a part of protest movements is better served as collective
activity, I’ve little faith in it as an adjunct to ‘clicktivism’
Internet curses are an outlet for frustration, but I’m not convinced
they have any other value. Pagans against the Nukes (P.A.N.) were a
better model; taking magic and pagan rituals onto the streets, so to
Magic as related to rhetoric and advertising has a massive and
continual effect, more rather than less than in bygone times. Most
self styled magicians would be hard put to match the effect of the
media, but the latter uses magical principles all the time.
Surreptitious old school magic with social or political motives is
another matter again; it undoubtedly happens, in all sorts of places.
Q: What importance, if any, do you place on full visual manifestation
of a spirit during evocation?
A: I like the way you frame that question – too much stress has been
placed on ‘physical’ manifestation and ‘by the book’ performance. I
question how one can tell the manifestation is physical, rather than
visual, from inside a circle the spirit isn’t permitted in.
On this subject, I’m very far from being an uncritical fan of the late
Joseph Lisiewski. However, his experimental parameters are worth
testing if you haven’t had such experiences already. For example, a
location close to or on the bare earth, devoid of electric wiring etc,
ideally outdoors, but also in a basement or log cabin. Also without
modern (or ‘post modern’) a priori ideas replacing old school methods
without trying them first. Such an experimental structure absolutely
works; in my experience it knocks many more recent over simplified and
un-challenging systems into a cocked hat.
So such a manifestation can certainly result from a full scale
conjuration. That is not to say it is the only effective method of
contact, but is certainly somewhat of a major feat and a consequential
methodology. Whether it has to result in a visible form appearing or
not is arguable to say the least; that is not absolutely necessary to
obtaining a meaningful result. On the other hand it is certainly an
experience that will make an impression on the practitioner.Also
equip them to know what the hell they’re talking about when discussing
traditional methods and whether or not we know better now, which
frankly I don’t believe. I’m not even a grimoire purist myself, but a
lot of modern talk about magical methods is so much hooey just the
I hope these answers go some way towards clarifying where I stand, and
are useful to you and your readers.