Interview with the Magus: Jason Louv

Jason Louv is the author of Hyperworlds, Underworlds, The Angelic Reformation, Monsanto vs. the World and Queen Valentine, and the editor of Generation Hex, Ultraculture Journal and Thee Psychick Bible.

For the last fifteen years, Jason’s work has explored the outer reaches of human culture and possibility, through both science fiction and journalistic expeditions into some of the world’s strangest belief systems. His work shines with wit, compassion and an immense drive to share his enlightening experiences with his readers.

Counterculture publishing legend R. U. Sirus (Mondo 2000) called him “one of humanity’s best mutant scouts on the frontiers of human experience,” and Brendan McCarthy (Mad Max: Fury Road) calls Jason “…a top tier talent who can really tell a story. A unique fusion of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.”

He runs the blog Ultraculture, teaches at Magick.Me, and has written for Boing Boing, VICE News, Esquire Online, Dangerous Minds and many, many more. As a professional communications strategist, he has worked with a number of multinational corporations in creating clear and effective advertising—his work has appeared everywhere from the pages of National Geographic to Times Square billboards to Buzz Aldrin’s international campaign to colonize Mars.

Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?

A: Maintaining my freedom to pursue the Great Work in a relentlessly de-humanizing world. The rest you can see at my personal website.

Q: Who are some of your personal heroes?

A: At present my personal heroes are anybody who, in any way small or large, is holding the line against the rising tide of ignorance, superstition and outright willful toxic idiocy that is sweeping the world, particularly America, and particularly science education. Maintaining science as a burning sword against the tides of dumbassery is of paramount importance right now (and science of course includes women’s rights, racial equality, the environment, the critical importance of handling climate change, of keeping religious dogma out of public policy, and so on).

Giving science almost total primacy of importance is I suppose a funny conclusion for a magician to come to, but after being immersed in the occult in a practical way for my entire life I think I have a pretty clear grasp on the upside of magick, as well as just how easy it is for people to fool themselves with magical thinking and confirmation bias, and utterly delude themselves. We should be doing everything we should to discourage that. I actually shudder to think of a future in which all science except that which is funded by corporations and the military (for obvious reasons) falls into disrepair, and religious and magical thinking are left to duke it out for the souls of the uneducated. This would be a civilizational disaster, and we can already see the terrible effects of having a population with very little scientific or critical thinking training whose “education” has consisted of Googling and finding “evidence” for whatever conspiracy theory or pseudoscientific thing they wish to be true.

In the heyday of chaos magic—for instance, when people were still widely reading Robert Anton Wilson—magick was very much about conducting thought experiments with weird ideas and beliefs, but not necessarily believing them. The point of these thought experiments was to find the cracks in the wall of not just materialist science but of any world view, including the occult one. I think that Bob Wilson, like Aleister Crowley, perhaps unrealistically assumed people would be starting from an educated and skeptical background. Nowadays people just seem to believe whatever they read online. At the time we wanted to “Subvert the dominant paradigm, man!” Well, now it’s subverted and the world actually does appear to be in a state of perpetual chaos, and it’s not so great. We can only hope that a new and better world order emerges out of this stage of alchemical putrefaction.

Of course Crowley called for “the method of science and the aim of religion” and for all his many faults and failures, he got that one right. Re-focusing on the first part of that equation would be a very good idea for modern magicians in this day and age of fake news and utter bullshit.

Q: What was your first “oh shit, this is real” experience?

A: Actually, it was experimenting with the I Ching, which I was introduced to by a pair of established female poets as a teenager. I was at the time a die-hard skeptic, and completely and unfairly dismissive of anything from the “mystical” side of life. Confronted with the I Ching, I asked it a very sarcastic question. The oracle returned a response that not only directly applied to what I had asked but did so in an almost equally impish fashion, leaving me no way to argue that I had not just interacted with a profoundly advanced and aware intelligence. That knocked my socks off. From there it was just removing one brick at a time from the assumption that I actually knew anything about how the universe works. Practical sorcery followed soon thereafter and the results were equally as immediate and unmistakable. And that was that.

Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?

A: Yoga in all of its branches, without question. Ritual magick is in many ways a beginner’s game. All the props and incantations and godforms and barbarous names and so forth tend to fall away when you start to understand that what you’re really doing is causing changes in your own consciousness through the medium of psychotheater. And psychotheater turns out to be significantly less effective than simply going in and directly taking power tools to your own nervous system. By power tools I mean the techniques of yoga as given by Hindu psychonauts—asana, pranayama, dhyana, samadhi and so on—and the advanced techniques given by the Buddha, particularly vipassana or deep somatic awareness (not “mindfulness,” which is a watered-down version). Once you get a handle on that stuff, magick looks like play-acting, which it mostly is. The goal here is to be able to reliably achieve “neurosomatic rapture,” as Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary called it, in order to make the pain of incarnating on this planet (a mental asylum rotating through space) more manageable.

Q: At what age did you start doing magic and why?

A: About sixteen. I was a smart nerd into comics and role-playing games, so it was probably inevitable, but the deeper answer is that magick provided not just an intellectual challenge but also a way out of suffering, a way to make contact with the universe at a time that I felt profoundly alienated from everyone around me, as you do when you have that quantity of moody dude hormones coursing through your veins. This turns out to have been a pretty good decision in retrospect because I’ve been able to (mostly) live life on my own terms, go on adventures all over the world, climb the one-and-eternal Holy Mountain, and regularly get myself into situations so improbable that most people tend to think I must be lying or trolling when I talk about them… despite also having to endure the truly hair-raising and brutal Abyssal experiences that seem to be inevitable with magick. Higher highs, lower lows, but at least it beats being a normie. Maybe. I hope! (?)

Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?

A: Get off the Internet. Much of the occult discourse on the Web (outside of some very notable exceptions) is shallow level at best, and permanently neurotoxic at worst (for instance, the co-option of the occult by the alt right, or the utterly Choronzonic shirtswirl of Facebook, Twitter and the Chans). We thought the Web would free us, but it didn’t. Sorry. We did our best.

I think that if I was a magician starting out now (which I am, because we’re constantly starting from ground zero, rebuilding ourselves “from the found up” as my great mentor Genesis P-Orridge put it), I would stick to classic training systems and focus on doing magic, meeting people in the real world and getting life experience—not collecting more information or arguing systems on the Internet. This is an unpopular opinion, but I really do think you can get 90% of what you need out of Regardie’s Golden Dawn brick, supplemented by Crowley’s Book 4 (the big blue one) and Gems From the Equinox. Nearly everything that has been published since then (at least in terms of Western magick) is either derivative of or a reaction against the Golden Dawn, but you won’t come upon a synthesis as good, in my opinion, as what Mathers assembled in the British Library and that Allan Bennett and Crowley then supercharged with Eastern yoga and tantric methods. Sure, they got a lot wrong, but they got a whole lot right, too. Chaos magicians and wizards of various other ideological camps used to hate when I stubbornly stuck to the classics, and they still do, but whatever, I’m high as a kite off that stuff, so come at me bro. (Or, you know, I can show you how to get just as “high” at Magick.Me, my online school for magick.)

Otherwise I would say get off the computer, get out into the world, meet as many people as possible and have as many life experiences as you can in order to expand your reference points on the universe to the utmost quantity and quality. Understand that the occult does not make you special. Most of the core skills from the occult have long since been raided by other disciplines (like Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and disseminated to the broader world anyway, particularly the corporate world, albeit in watered-down form. Nobody cares that you know spells, dude/dudette. Use those tools to improve your time on this planet and enjoy your life, rather than trying to be the biggest baddest wizard of them all. Learn some real world skills, particularly relating to tech, or caring for other human beings. Life is changing faster and in stranger ways than it ever has, and it is going to be very, very hard for people who are not able to adapt, particularly as automation replaces their livelihoods. People are going to be left behind. Endeavor to not be one of those people.

Q: What projects do you have coming up later in 2018?

A: I’ll definitely be expanding the course offerings at Magick.Me, my online school for magick, meditation and mysticism. It’s got everything you need to get started with magick and to start getting results, while sparing you the tremendous financial and opportunity cost of the years that most inevitably waste spinning themselves in circles, trying to understand the occult by drowning themselves in heaps of books and questionable online material. Magick.Me cuts straight to the chase and gives you the good stuff—no obfuscation, no hoops to jump through, no BS. Just the raw sorcery, if you can handle it. Right now there’s a tremendous range of courses on everything from chaos magick to meditation to tarot, and there’s going to be a lot more material coming this year. There’s also a free course you can start with here, that gives you all the basic tools of magick as I understand it after two decades of practice and study in the world’s many magical traditions, and under some of the greatest magicians of our time.

Q: You have a book coming out soon, can you tell us a bit about it?

A: The book is John Dee and the Empire of Angels: Enochian Magick and the Occult Roots of Empire, which is out April 17 from Inner Traditions. It’s a massive, 560-page hardback that reveals the grand story of the last 500 years of occult history, digging deeper than (in my only slightly biased opinion) we have yet seen in an occult book. It’s a biography not only of John Dee, but also of Enochian magick itself—what it is, where it came from, and why the angels delivered it to humanity. (Spoiler: To cause the Apocalypse on an extended timeline.) The first two thirds of the book focus on Dr. Dee, Queen Elizabeth I’s scientific advisor, and joins his scientific and imperial work with the near-decade of work he did with the psychic Edward Kelly, in which they were given over a thousand pages’ worth of apocalyptic, occult transmissions that contained (along with a plan to put the entire world under a singular angelic New World Order) what we now know as “Enochian magick.” This is the system that has become the absolute core of the Western magical tradition ever since. That hasn’t really been done before outside of a few academic texts: All the books on Dee have either looked at his non-occult side, or at his occult work. They haven’t put the big picture together, and shown exactly what Dee was up to, which, frankly, was not only building the world we now live in, but also preparing the way for the end of the world and the final termination of the human experiment. Which is also rather relevant to the world we are now living in, I’d say.

Only the ultimate secrets of magick, the hidden history of the world, and the occult architecture of the Apocalypse, you ask? Just wait! There’s more! The final third of the book is a deep dive into not only the Rosicrucian and Freemasonic traditions that Dee inspired, but also into Crowley’s Enochian sessions with Victor Neuburg in the Algerian desert in 1907, as recorded in The Vision and the Voice, as well as Jack Parsons’ BABALON Working in Pasadena, California in 1946. What emerges is going to disturb, shock and potentially enlighten a lot of people. It’s certainly going to disturb Western occultists, because it shows clearly what the Western tradition actually is, and it’s going to kick out some of people’s fundamental assumptions about what they’re doing right out from under them. But hey, that’s what I’m here for.

This book is the culmination of almost two decades’ worth of work, and certainly the work I began when I was editing Disinformation Books in the mid-00s. My first few books—Generation Hex, Ultraculture, Thee Psychick Bible—were early salvos in an invisible war. They were range-finding shots. The new book—John Dee and the Empire of Angels—is a hydrogen bomb. It is designed to destroy, and it will.

The book is out April 17, but is pre-ordering now. I recommend reserving one before they go, because it’s a hardback, and occult hardbacks go fast to second-hand collectors, and up in price steeply thereafter. And I want you to be able to read it!

Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?

A: They already are having a tremendous effect and always have. In retrospect, the aspirations of the chaos magicians for “magical insurrection” and so forth were fairly naïve, because we were probably the last people on earth to have that idea. Every empire and revolutionary vanguard in the history of the world has employed its own sorcerers. Dee is an excellent example. So is Crowley, who worked for MI6—or, in our own time, “Putin’s Rasputin” Aleksandr Dugin, the occultist who architected the annexation of Crimea and is at least one force behind the rise of nationalist and traditionalist movements around the world. John Dee and the Empire of Angels absolutely reveals that secret history, and that we are, to all intents and purposes, living in a world built by sorcerers.

And that is actually quite a terrifying thing to get your head around. Because it might just mean that you, too, would need to become a sorcerer just to gain enough autonomy to make your way out of the warzone, and escape the “charnel house” of politics and world events, as the tantric Buddhists say. “History,” as James Joyce put it, “is a nightmare from which I am trying to escape.” Good luck.

Julian Crane

Julian Crane

Musician at Jabooda and Dubious Monk's Synchronicity Project
Author, Wizard, Social Media Professional, Musician, Foodie, Occultist, Husband.
Julian Crane