For thousands of years, the keys to ceremonial magic were kept hidden, like just about everything else during the Dark Ages. As soon as state religions were put in place, the persecution of the authentic shamanic energies that had birthed those religions commenced. This was done because spirituality is the key to perception, and if you control the national ceremonies, you control the minds of the masses.
One of the more important repositories of magic wisdom were the many Masonic societies and their offshoots, including Yale’s Skull & Bones society. If you think magic doesn’t work, just take a gander at what they’ve accomplished over the last hundred years because their members have their fingers on many of the control buttons. Masons were influenced by the Templars who were influenced by the Pythagorean societies who were influenced by the Zoroastrian Magi who were influenced by the Scythians.
Some today worship Aleister Crowley without understanding he was actually a devoted 33rd Degree Freemason and picked up a lot of his magical wisdom from that order. British intelligence penetrated Masonry and even though the society has some wonderful, well-meaning bodhisattvas doing great work (and I especially like the Shriners, the fun-loving Masons), these societies are also peppered with spooks who use great works to hide dastardly deeds, and Crowley was certainly one of them. I never studied Crowley or did his exercises, or took anything from him, although I did some study on his major influence, the author of “do what thou wilt” and “Thelema,” a little-known alchemist monk named Francois Rabalais, who suffers greatly in Crowley’s shadow, despite being a more enlightened shaman in my opinion.
I view Crowley much the same as I view Quentin Tarantino: both have had tremendous impact on popular culture and both did it while hiding their source material. Crowley once wrote: “I want blasphemy, murder, rape, revolution, anything bad or good, but strong.” Yikes, that’s as far from true enlightenment as it gets my friends, and when you contribute to murder and rape, you build a karmic bridge to your front door for all sorts of nasty energy to climb aboard.
But something important happened in the 1960s. A few pioneers began doing ceremonial rituals and sharing the results peer-to-peer with the world. I stumbled onto to these pioneers while still an impressionable teen, and studied with some masters, so that by the time I arrived at High Times in 1986, I was already a budding post-modern shaman, I just didn’t realize it yet as I hadn’t put some of the dots together. But you know, magic moves through us all whether we realize it not, so I immediately began putting my years of study into practice.
I guess I’m the equivalent of a 33rd Degree Mason in the counterculture, and my main society right now is called the Pot Illuminati. A shaman is anyone who employs ritual to heal. Period. Doesn’t have to involve plants or drugs, but it does have to work in practice, or you’re just a fake.
If you want to study this path: here are the masters who taught me most of what I know:
Jasper Grootveld and the Dutch Provos, Julian Beck and Judith Malina of the Living Theater, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Andy Warhol and the Factory, Wavy Gravy and the Hog Farm, Glenn O’Brien and TV Party, Stephen and Ina May Gaskin, Garrick Beck of the Rainbow Family, Chef RA and the Freedom Fighters.
Magic works through ritual, and the most powerful rituals involve groups. You can’t do it alone because it works through telepathic energy. My current mission is to pass down the wisdom I learned to as many people who want to receive it, and this education will be accomplished through The Pot Illuminati, as we are stealing the sigils of the sorcerers who manipulate religion to produce war for profit and bending that energy against their evil cause.