Below I present to you an interview with one of Chaos Magic’s finest magicians, Dave Lee. Dave is the author of the books Life Force, Twisted Power and various other excellent tomes on practical chaos magic. As the proprietor of Chaotopia, Dave blogs regularly on magic, mystical experiences, the occult and many other metaphysical topics. Dave was recently featured on Gordon White’s Runesoup Podcast which can be found here.
Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: At a purely personal level, the dramatic and lasting healing of a friend who had had a supposedly-incurable condition for over 10 years.
Though perhaps more impressive in terms of probability was when I helped a friend get a Not Guilty verdict in a case his lawyer had given up on.
As far as collective workings go, I am proud of my involvement in a late-1990s programme of workings fronted by Peter Mastin to weaken the HIV virus and AIDS, which worked spectacularly.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: This answer will not do justice to all the friends over the years whose courage, magic and intelligence have given me cause to love and admire them; I shall stick to published figures.
As a weird teenager/twenty year old I felt less alone when I immersed myself in William Burroughs’s conspiracy nightmare universe, in which occasionally super-conscious secret agents in deep cover as social lowlifes struggle against overlapping alien control agencies embedded in human language and neurology. Much later, my respect for Burroughs increased when, in his 80s, he joined the IOT and started networking rituals.
Robert Anton Wilson lived his life as free as you can get in this world, and wrote books which changed magic and empowered the counterculture.
In the late 1970s, early in my explorations of magic, Pete Carroll’s first book Liber Null was the most inspiring book in print. He took magic to pieces and showed us how it works.
Q: What importance, if any, do you place on full visual manifestation of a spirit during evocation?
A: It’s quite nice to hallucinate but not everyone can do so easily. It is not important to impress yourself visually – what matters is the quality of the dialogue and the feelings you get.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: Right back at the beginning of my magical career, I lived in a house which some people said had a strong, occasionally somewhat unpleasant spirit in it. After various unsuccessful attempts to banish it, my girlfriend and I finally succeeded, as confirmed by visitors the next day, with an energetic bout of sex magic. As we finished, we heard an unfamiliar noise, as if it was raining in the house. We left my downstairs bedroom. The sound was louder in the hallway. It was coming from the cellar… I opened the cellar door and walked down into the rainstorm sound… The sound was caused by a sheet of water squirting the full width of the room from a burst main, then hitting the ceiling and spraying down. The cellar was already filling up.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: My magical diary, whether as a nice sturdy book or as a collection of emails to myself; the form is unimportant. The record and the agency of your own interpretation is what counts. This is how we construct time and identity. Odin was said to declare: ‘Hugin and Munin fly each day / over the spacious earth. / I fear for Hugin, that he come not back, / yet more anxious am I for Munin’. He is saying that deep reflection and recall are more important even than rational cognition.
Q: At what age did you start practicing magic and why?
A: I first remember giving up magic at the age of four. My dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said a magic wand, a real one, like Sooty’s got. My dad told me magic was not real. I took up the Faustian bargain, in the form of science, and only came back to magic when I discovered psychedelics in my late teens.
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
A: Be aware what you believe and keep it flexible. Find some good exercises and work them every day. Every day. Find co-workers you can trust (not easy), and meet in the flesh to do magic – online is only a thin shadow of the full power of group work.
Q: What are your current magical endeavors?
A: Deep philosophical and magical immersion in a reality in which everything is alive and sentient.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: If I am actually having dinner, then they can go away. If not and I am not busy, I enjoy a little theological discourse with them. In 1987 when I was editing Chaos International I opened the door to two Mormon lads. I told them I was interested in spiritual matters, invited them in and tried unsuccessfully to sell them copies of CI from the stack in the kitchen that had just arrived.
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: This is entirely personal, so it’s not for me to prescribe. I do not believe that magic has any inbuilt political bias in any direction.
One interesting magical feature of the present world is this creepy notion of ‘post-truth’, which means that people feel free to believe any bullshit and lies they choose, all that matters is that their belief make them feel good. So overwhelming evidence (such as that for human-made climate change) is denied, because feelings (of right-wing snowflakes) are more important.
This situation owes a lot to Operation Mindfuck, that scheme by RAW and the other early Discordians from half a century ago, which aimed to lampoon conspiracy beliefs by exaggeration, a sort of reductio ad absurdam, and in the process to show that news is not necessarily reliable. What has happened is that reality has been destabilized, the idea of a reality in which most people share has been shattered. We magical thinkers succeeded in breaking down the monolithic old reality-principle. As a result, it is actually easier for me and you to do magic. And by the same token, it is also easier for our enemies to do magic.