Phil Hine is a man who needs no introduction. One of the founding fathers of Chaos Magic and a legend in his own right, Phil has authored some of the most prolific and time honored works regarding this particular magical path including Condensed Chaos, The Pseudonomicon and Prime Chaos.
In addition to his published works, Phil writes articles for his blog enfolding.org.
It is my extreme pleasure to present to you the interview with Phil below.
Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: That’s really tricky, as it’s not something I really tend to reflect on. I’ve always thought it a bit gauche to talk publicly about one’s “magical” successes. so I’ll I’m going to leave that one aside.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: I think Syd Barrett was probably my first hero – getting into early Pink Floyd helped me make the transition from sniffing solvents to doing Mushrooms and Acid – much healthier! I discovered the writings of William S. Burroughs not long afterwards whilst still entertaining mainly self-destructive fantasies about being an outsider and for a long time I was really a Burroughs fanboy – used to have dreams about meeting him – so you can imagine how terrified and exultant I was when I finally did find myself in his presence!
As far as “magical influences” go, there are probably too numerous to mention, but I think the one author who’s had the most influence on my magical trajectory has been Starhawk, who’s common sense and political activism I found very exciting when I first encountered her work in the ’80s, and which inspired me to get involved in the pagan & ecomagic activist scenes which were kicking off back then. That led me to meeting Rich Westwood, who was a major figure in the revitalization of Paganism in the UK in the ’80s, without whom I wouldn’t have ended up starting up a monthly pagan news ‘zine (with Rodney Orpheus) – and, as a consequence of that, getting into publishing as a career for nearly 20 years.
Q: What importance, if any, do you place on full visual manifestation of a spirit during evocation?
A: None at all. I’ve experienced it of course, when I was into that kind of thing, but I don’t think its that significant. It’s just one of the many instances of “weird shit that happens”.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: One of my routes into magic was Psychology – I did a three-year Psychology/Social Science degree, and I think for a while I kind of thought of magic more or less entirely in psychological terms – until stuff started happening that I couldn’t explain. Like waking up one night with this overwhelming sense of a presence in the room, and being unable to move – all of which dissolved after I mentally projected a pentagram into the room. Its spooky stuff like that which jerks you out of your comfort zone which I think is really important.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: There probably isn’t anything I couldn’t live without – except perhaps a deep-seated sense of wonder. If that ever does depart, I won’t be long in following.
Q: At what age did you start practicing magic and why?
A: I didn’t get interested in magic until I was sixteen or seventeen. And that came about when I was sitting in the school library one day idly leafing through a bound copy of “Man, Myth and Magic” looking for photos of naked witches – when I came across a reproduction of one of Austin Osman Spare’s drawings. I was really into Jung at the time and something about the drawing made sense to me in Jungian terms, and so I started to read books about the occult – which led to me trying stuff out – I think David Conway’s “Magic: An Occult Primer” was one of the first entirely practical books I got hold of, along with David Edwards’ “Dare to Make Magic”. Doing the Psychology degree and trying out some Lovecraftian magic put me in a place where I met some actual practitioners and it all sort of snowballed from there.
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
A: If you’re going to try and reach for the stars, it helps to have your feet planted on the ground and your tongue firmly in your cheek. Also, find what engages you, what turns you on, as it were, and run with that. Read widely, but not too many occult books, and if you have to, try not to take them too seriously.
Q: What are your current magical endeavors?
A: I’ve got a number of writing/research projects on the go at the moment. I’m working on an anthology of what I consider to be my best writing on various subjects over the last 35 years or so, with some autobiographical material for added context. Other than that, I guess I’ll just carry on with my practice, occasionally writing whatever catches my interest.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: I’d politely tell them to go away. But then I’d probably respond the same way if they were evangelical Buddhists or Thelemites.
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: That’s a strange question. For me, magic and politics are inextricably enmeshed. You live in the world, you’re involved in politics to one degree or another. “The personal is political” and all that.