Below you will find and interview with Nikki Wyrd.
Nikki was conceived at the end of 1967, making it onto the planet just as things began to get really interesting. After spending several years with her head stuck inside thousands of books, she took a few decades to look around at things and people, including herself. Nowadays she constructively criticizes other people’s work, as Editor of Psychedelic Press UK, Director of Breaking Convention, Director of The Psychedelic Museum, and freelance copy editor for a growing list of prestigious clients. She occasionally lectures on occult matters, and has facilitated a number of highly regarded residential retreats. She also runs The Universe Machine, a small publishing house specializing in thought-provoking books. Her best work is yet to come.
In addition to co-authoring the book of baphomet, Nikki contributes regularly to the blog of baphomet. As a practicing magician, psychedelic traveler and psychonaut, she brings decades of experience in occultism to all of her endeavors.
Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: The most recent one. I hold successes lightly, and put major changes to the course of expected events aside from further contemplation. I don’t like to dwell over things; that way, meglomaniacal madness lies. I will give you one example of a profound result, which has had the best impact upon my life. I conjured for a nice home when I was expecting my first child. I drew a picture, child style, of a house with four windows, a chimney, and roses in the garden with my cat looking really happy. A few weeks after charging this pictorial sigil, that home was mine.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: In the field of magical endeavours, Lionel Snell (aka Ramsey Dukes) has to head this list. Charming, kind, approachable, clever and thoughtful, he also rode a very large motorbike wearing shades and black leathers. I remember being at a retreat with him, and one morning finding him in his underwear ironing his trousers; he genuinely has the legs of a god. His talks and books were key to me grasping magic, the art and the science. He leads the audience gently into considering things they would not otherwise give credence to, magic by stealth. And, he is good company.
Outside occultism, my hero is David Attenborough. He, and his enthusiasm, are responsible for my, and many of my peers, fascination with and love of Nature. He also invented the concept of having alternative to mainstream television programmes in the 1970s, when he was controller of BBC2. He made a world which opened far more intellectual levels than would have ever been possible without his influence. If TV is your child’s daily entertainment, then having David Attenborough as a private tutor is about the best one can wish for.
Both of these people exemplify kindly intelligence, applied to teaching beyond the usual confines of their fields with grace and simplicity. These are qualities I admire, and aspire to. Also, twinkly eyes.
Q: What importance, if any, do you place on full visual manifestation of a spirit during evocation?
A: I mostly don’t invest belief in spirits as things we can see. To my mind, that reduces them to ‘normal’ physical things, which (whatever spirits may be!), they are not. My style of magic places more emphasis on spirits as agents of change rather than as physically existing as bodies with mass and the ability to reflect light. Having said that it is common to feel one has seen some kind of distortion of the atmosphere in the place where one has called the spirit to. Personally, I suspect this is more to do with the seer than the seen; if a distinction can be made! I tend towards the view that there is ‘an act of seeing’, which includes both parties within an event.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: To be honest, I am not sure. It is so long ago. Many of the most striking results sound so ordinary when told. For instance, I conjured a black cab on a deserted street in less than a minute on a dismal walk home from a nightclub in London, which doesn’t sound impressive unless you were there and experienced the ecstatic joy this caused for me and my friend. To this day, every time something works uncannily accurately, I get the same “Wow!” emotion as if for the first time. I should say that the acts of magic I enjoy and benefit from most are those of enlightenment, self-discovery, which are slower to reveal themselves. By placing right attention upon mind and body, we can effect extraordinary changes.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: Can I cheat and say my own bodymind? No? Okay. I would say casting the magic circle (i.e., turning to face the four compass directions, the below and the above; in whatever order and with whatever imagery and iconography is paradigm of the month). By centering oneself in the world, and orientating oneself, the magician creates her own universe, unique and focussed upon her. This creation has profound consequences for all that follows. To stand at the centre of the world puts one on the spot, literally and metaphorically, and this draws out a response to notice, and act on, changes that need making. Currently I am using a very simple version of a Taino ritual every morning as a meditation.
Q: At what age did you start practicing magic and why?
A: I remember studying in earnest various sorts of divination at age around 8, tasseology in particular, graphology, palmistry, and general scrying from random casts of objects (e.g. beads or twigs). Quite why I did this is hard to know; I studied everything so probably saw it as a continuation of science, rather than a separate ‘woo’ kind of thing. Also, for my whole life in our cabinet I saw the crystal ball which had been handed down from my great-grandmother to each eldest daughter, with the knowledge that one day it would be mine, and I knew that my grandmother had read cards and tea leaves for her friends and neighbours. Seeing into the future was not strange. I read lots of books as a child and teenager, working methodically through different genres in our local library (one year, it was Australian science fiction writers). In my late teens I reached comparative mythology, and read all of Joseph Campbell’s books (reaching magic via The Book of Thoth as my gateway text). From here, chaos magic leapt in front of my nose via several people I was friends with, and I began experimenting with paradigm shifting, waving wands and creating rituals. Magic seemed natural, asking why I did it is like asking why I started to dance.
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
A: Choose your gods wisely. Look after your body. Enjoy doing something each day.
Q: What are your current magical endeavors?
A: My work these days is to expand the models available to mages by investigating and sharing research on the bodymind’s mechanisms of perceptual cognition. How we see, hear, and otherwise sense things. To apply magic to a process, I like to understand the steps involved. Where are the points we can easily intervene? How do we engineer our set and setting (to borrow from psychedelic language) in order to alter existing patterns? I want to push at the boundaries of who feels comfortable using magical models and techniques, to encourage more cultural exchange. By framing invocation as drama therapy roleplay, it becomes attainable to anyone prepared to go through the preparatory processes, without them needing to define themselves as ‘occultists’, a label which still carries certain baggage.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: Maybe once a year, if that, Jehovah’s Witness people come a-calling. I wish I could say something interesting here, but I merely open the door, see who is there, say, “oh I am busy, goodbye”, and close the door. The only other god-botherers I have encountered on the doorstep were some very smartly dressed Mormons. Whether these two groups can be considered Christian is of course debatable; most ‘normal’ Christians (I’m using membership of the World Council of Churches to delimit this group) feel that their teachings differ so much from accepted liturgy that they are outside that definition. If so, then that means I have never, in my whole life, had Christian evangelists knock on my door. This seems a very odd question to an English person!
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: Revolutions tend to fail, as they merely change who is in charge at the top of a deeply unfair structure, without fundamentally addressing the inherent inequalities. Politics is the froth of a longer game, which emerges from the ways we all decide on innumerable smaller actions. How we spend our time and money each day, whether we travel to visit other places, who our friends are, how we live. For me, The Great Work of Magick refers to a process providing a means through which magicians can take effective steps to align with greater perspectives on the way their actions reverberate throughout the various planes of existence. For me, success in magical life is a combination of self-actualization and allowing other peoples’ development. As Mandela said: “Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.”