Below you will find an interview with Musician, Magician and Proprietor of CRUCIBLE Hermetic, Rob Rider Hill. Rob is a student and contemporary of Jake Stratton-Kent and Cat Vincent, both of whom have been interviewed as part of this series prior.
Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: Haha, you mean apart from being asked to do this interview? It’s a difficult question, achievement can mean so many things. The degree of discipline and self-awareness that I’ve gained has been hugely transformational in my life. I can’t overstate the changes in myself and the growth that’s gone hand in hand with my developing magical experience, but equally don’t want to make it sound too much like that’s everything to it.
Other things too, very subjective things like perceived success in manifestation, whether that’s bringing things into my life or having a deeper sense of the manifestation of the things (spirits/entities however you choose to define those words) I work with in ritual.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: Well I’m sure you can imagine there’s a long list. Without RAW and his theories around reality tunnels and model-agnosticism, I would never have been able to talk myself into approaching the more complex magical technologies that are now my significant focus.
I have huge respect for the brilliant, though faulty and foolish grandparents of 21st century magic, SL Macgregor Mathers and Uncle Al Crowley of course.
Amongst the current batch of occult teachers there are a few who have been both inspirational, and through the magic of the internet, very directly helpful in my genesis of understanding, and it’s no great surprise to me that you’ve interviewed many of them already. Aaron Leitch and Jake Stratton Kent, both individually and through their public dialogue have absolutely shaped my practice and continue to do so, Ian “Cat” Vincent is rapidly becoming a good friend and colleague with whom I’m honoured to compare a great many of my notes.
I’ve been fascinated throughout most of my life with the Golden Dawn tradition. In addition to Aaron, Nick Farrell and Peregrin Wildoak, both of whom have phenomenal blogs and super instructive books, have been absolutely instrumental in guiding my development in relation to that system. Also Chic and Tabatha Cicero, Pat Zalewski, Morgan Drake Eckstein and, of course, Israel Regardie all have a continuing effect on my evolving practice.
Q: What importance, if any, do you place on full visual manifestation of a spirit during evocation?
A: Visualization is a skill which has been very slow to develop for me, and in fact the degree of visibility is still variable for me, but its my experience that spirits will make their presence known one way or another. This might be smells or often sounds. I have a singing bowl that I use in a few different ways in ritual, but it very often sings gently when there’s something present (I’ve also used it while banishing low entities like poltergeists as one of the indications that the bug has left the building.)
I’ve had spirit visitation through insects and animals, through gentle possessions and automatic writing, through the weather, through synchronicities. As I become, through practice, more aware of and sensitive to these sorts of indicator, so my ability to manifest the spirit in more visible forms has increased. I’m aware of teachers I respect hugely who have never had a visible apparition but instead use things like pendulums to communicate with their guests.
The most success I’ve had with visible manifestation have been through smoke, or through the black mirror, which of course will tend to be what you might call an astral experience rather than something in the room.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: Psychedelics, which I experimented with very heavily for a long time, take a lot of the Oh Shit out of it I think. They tend to lead you into an experience of the world which is broad enough to encompass more than those things which are dreamt of in science and philosophy.
The biggest “Oh Shit” for me came as a result of a very ill-advised series of evocations in mid twenties. It began with some edge lord experiments in building a relationship first with Lucifer and then Lilith, both of whom manifested very directly in my life, Lilith even working through a person I was getting to know at the time to give certain initiations. Being a rash and arrogant and particularly undisciplined young man, I took it and ran with it, summoning all sorts of things I had no right to mess around with.
This threw me into what RAW describes as the Chapel Perilous experience, involving some time in a psychiatric hospital, and a total rejection of magic. It wasn’t to last long, and it was at the end of this period that a good friend and fellow weirdo, Bang Crosby, led me gently back to it by introducing me to Chaos Magic, RAW, Alan Moore and a re-enchanted world. I owe him a massive debt of gratitude for that one.
Cat Vincent is apt to remind people of Austin Spare’s suggestion that we treat magical experience “as if real” and not “as real” and I think this is priceless in regard to allowing yourself to experience the mystery without boundary, while still maintaining the ultimately healthy skepticism outside of the temple which is the hallmark of the sane magician.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: I use the word technology in its older meaning of “a process which is repeatable, to repeatable ends” and this in mind I’d have to say meditation. Being a ceremonial type, I have a practice that involves a lot of symbolism and tools and trappings, but I agree to some extent with the premise that in many hands emphasis on that stuff can lead to LARPing. Breath control, altered awareness, awareness of the changing state of the body, these are the core of my practice and things which breath life into everything else I do.
When I came out of the Chapel, the first thing I did was get me to the retreat center. I did three ten-day Vipassana meditations over about a six-month period. I consider these to have been instrumental not just in developing my skills relating to consciousness, but also the first stages of contact with the parts of my mind that can access the gateways into magical experience. It also forces a certain degree of shadow work which is invaluable.
Q: At what age did you start practicing magic and why?
A: It’s difficult to say. I was one of those kids who had very vivid dreams, and premonitions. My small group of friends at primary school were fascinated by the Star Wars mythology and would spend a long time during lunch breaks trying to move flowers with our minds and whatnot. In the church my dad went to we had the Toronto blessing come through in about 1992, which is a very effective group invocation and involves a lot of twitching, speaking in tongues, crying out, all this kind of thing, and often healing through laying on of hands and prayer.
As I fell away from Christian faith, I took a lot of those experiences with me. Certain things were always intuitive for me, and my use of psychedelics became very ritualized in a way that would involve a quest to find a poem or story, often through contact with mythological figures from the pantheons.
Much later, with friends I had a small fool’s theater company which dealt with classical mythology, and particularly the work we did with Dionysus, Eris and in another group Hades and Persephone was all pretty mind blowing.
Technically speaking I worked with the Tarot a lot in my early twenties and picked it up again after my Chapel Perilous experience, that was the first time I received any kind of initiation into a system, that was 2010. I started working more and more with chaos tech like Sigils and then exploring my dual passions for the grimoires and GD system shortly after that. The snowball from then on has been quite something, and the necessarily destructive but renewing course it took through my life equally so.
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
A: If you can find someone rational and inspiring to help you get going, that’s priceless, but if you’re one of those people whose main source for this type of stuff is books and the internet, don’t wait until you’ve got it all figured out. Find something you understand, something which seems to you achievable and just try it. You could spend a lifetime listening to people argue and mining the library shelves trying to understand what magic is, but it’s my opinion that the minute you start to work, and to experience the mystery, it’s rather more the very personal and subjective experience of magic that matters, the results, than the hows and whys of it all. Theory is for critics.
Good starting points for those of us with very modern minds are of course Liber Null and Psychonaut, which while not the definitive be all and end all of Chaos Magic thought, is an incredible and very practical primer. Blueflake’s awesome Psychonaut Field Manual is the one thing I wish I’d had even ten years ago.
Talk to people, the internet is your friend. Listen to what they say and look for consistencies. Spend some time in the forums seeing who looks and smells like a magician and ask them what they do and why. A big tip, if they can’t answer the question in a way that’s comprehensible to you, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about.
And remember, we are all very small things in a very big world, and each of our minds is unique, so what appears to be true to one may not be so to another. Watch out for people bashing Unverified Personal Gnosis like its absolute cosmic truth, and take everything with a pinch of salt.
Most importantly, breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four. Repeat.
Q: What are your current magical endeavors?
A: Very slowly working through the grades in an order I’m very proud to be a part of.
I’m working extensively with the Greater Key of Solomon (and Aaron Leitch’s wonderful Solomonic 101 class online) to develop a closer relationship with the angelic entities that I find relatively easy to contact, learn from and work with.
I hosted a lecture recently by Jake Stratton Kent which has led to my tentative exploration of the system in the Grimorium Verum. Another lecture by Ian “Cat” Vincent on Combat Magic has changed my approach to intuitive magic.
I am beginning to explore the Cunning and Hoodoo folk magic traditions as a bridge between the often obscure classical magic of the grimoires and the very crafty technological approach we find in things like sigils and servitors from Chaos Magic. This has meant learning a lot about herbs, incenses, candle-making, tinctures and oil extraction. I find the very earthy, physical nature of this stuff, and things like bottle and jar spells, really powerful and a great medium between the above and the below, the within and the without.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: These days I’m basically polite but uninterested. During my angry young man phase I’d invite them in and argue for hours, but having developed a fresh respect for faith and religion throughout my magical journey I save that now for telemarketers and other subhuman interruptions.
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: Politics is a tricky word. Absolutely the practice of magic is a political act as far as I’m concerned. At the very least, its transgressive of societal norms and challenging to cultural hierarchies. It is a fundamental act of human rebellion. But also, that could be seen as a slightly cop out answer. In the Rosicrucian tradition (which is absolutely a revolutionary tradition of its time) which informs the GD stuff, there is a requirement that you heal, and that gratis, meaning it is the responsibility of those of us who would pull on these magical and mystical threads to make some good of them.
I was honored to have been asked just before the general election in the UK this year to host a ritual for a group of non-practitioner friends over the preceding night to empower the country with a sense of unity and inclusivity. It was, for me, a very different kind of ritual, but reflected a growing sense that it’s imperative for magicians to engage within our communities, like Gordon White says, shaping and telling the stories, creating the myths and guiding the transformations which must occur equally in the world as they do within ourselves. We go up into the mountains, down into the dark valleys and deep into the forests to confront the things which live in the darkness and the light and to bring some of the wisdom and attainment we find back into our communities. If we don’t share it, what the fuck are we doing? I’m in this to re-enchant the world, and to become, in that wonderful old fashioned phrase, a co-creator with God. That means hands in the clay, feet on the ground, breathing life into a changing world. There’s nothing more political than that.