Magic and Mind and Psychology

I think by now everyone knows that I am against any view that reduces magic to psychology or seeing spirits as parts of the brain or anything at all like that. I have been happy to see this view rejected by more and more people over the years.

Unfortunately in rejecting the idea of magic as a type or part of psychology, some people have also rejected the idea of psychology as having any role within magic. I have even run accross some who reject the idea of mind as having any role within magic, at least not any more than driving a car or any other task. This is a grievous error on many levels.

First, If you are not in the game for some kind of awakening, or improvement of the self in a spiritual sense, I really just have no idea why you are bothering. If you seek power, or money, or sex, or anything else there are better and surer ways of achieving those ends than magic. I do use magic for all those things, but that is because magic is what I do overall. If you are in for some kind of awakening or illumination – do you really think mind has nothing to do with that?

On Spirits: even those, like me, that reject the idea of spirits being just in your head usually admit that they communicate to us through our minds, and use the contents of our minds to communicate. They very rarely communicate in languages we don’t know (though it does sometimes happen) and even in English they rarely use words or concepts we have not already grasped – they just use them to communicate new ideas. Sometimes a tutilary spirit will be delighted at my having learned something, so that he can teach me something better. One example of this is my Tibetan training. Hekate latched on to this and started expresssing herself in very Vajrayanaesque ways. Currently Jupiter is doing the same thing.

Also, some spirits are more separate than others. Spirits of the ancestors tend to communicate through our own genes, but are definately separate minds. Nature spirits as well. Goetics and Angels and such can feel more interconnected with our minds because they are more complex and malleable. I often tell people that when communicating with an Archangel you are just a part of their mind more than they are just a part of yours.

A few months ago I posted that I would accept a strategic sorcery field report even if it had no obviously magical aspect to it. This is because many aspects of psychology, herbalism, and even mathmatics, were a part of the magical arts. Because these things are now largely understood by society at large, we tend to cede them to the world and consider them no longer part of magic. If we continue, we will lose more and more ground as society catches up with us. One commentor to that post suggested that I was wrong to accept such reports because to view psychology as part of magic, was the same as viewing magic as psychology. Obviously, I completely disagree.

Frater RO just posted about magic for gaining the favor of Kings. It is an excellent post and one that everyone should read, and more importantly engage in. The thing is that if you do not cultivate the psychological, social, and world skills – the magic will eventually fail and you will be worse off than when you started. In RO’s case he is gaining the favor of his bosses, and also renoun inside his company throughout the country. The magic is surely responsible for spreading the word like wildfire and grabbing the attention of those in power, but without RO’s friendly and confident demeanor (psychological), ability to network, dress the part, and relate to people with different interests (social), and most importantly his ability to excell at his work (world skill) the magic would eventually fail. The magic also supports all these things, and these things all support the magic. It is inseparable.

Lastly, I want to talk about neurosis and shadow work. Many spiritual traditions, including some of the oldest and best from the east, seem to assume that high meditative states fix everything about us. This is most definitely not the case and I think the history of Priests, Guru’s, and Teachers who are otherwise quite profound and powerful, getting embroiled in scandals and even criminal acts of one type or another bear this out.

This has to do with the erroneous notion that the ego gets destroyed or somehow deteriorates as you develop. The problem is that this does NOT occur. The ego gets transcended as you develop. You move from egocentric and ethnocentric grounding to geocentric, cosmocentric, and non-dualistic view – but you never lose the ego. It remains as the vehicle through which your new awareness  manifests. Christ had Ego. Buddha had Ego. Every teacher that ever lived had Ego, and the problems that came with it.

Kunzang Dorje, the most powerful wizard I have ever met, a man that could read minds easier than a book, and who could really perform the types of vulgar magic that most of us only dream about, was also an alcoholic. Other students would brag about his seemingly superhuman drinking as if it was a Sidddhi (which it sort of was) and even go so far as to say it was a manifestation of his enlightened mind.

I bought into this myself until one day, in order to continue the teaching, he asked that I go to town and get him a bottle of Dewars. His wife, in tears, stopped me on the stairs and begged me not to. His translator and attendant also suggest that I not get him any more to drink. While he sis usually hold an amazing clarity through whatever thoughts were raging (a test sometimes given for meditative stability), a week or so later I got to see him succumb to drink and spend a couple days crying and babbling and such.

Some who read this will be upset, or accuse me of not having proper respect for telling this story. I do not mean to speak ill of him. I mean to speak truth. He was one of the most profound wizards of the age both in terms of his teaching and siddhi. But he was also a drunk with the problems of a drunk. So were many other profound teachers. Others have been filanderers, con-men, and even human traffickers. They can reach high meditative states, but the ego they manifest through still has issues, and psychology can help with that.

So, dear occult community: please stop throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Just because we are taking a stand against magic being reduced to psychology does not mean that we should reject psychology as part of magic.


About Inominandum

Author. Sorcerer. Consultant. I have 30 plus years of experience making magic a reality for myself, my clients, and my students. For a complete background go to
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39 Responses to Magic and Mind and Psychology

  1. JC3 says:

    “If you seek power, or money, or sex, or anything else there are better and surer ways of achieving those ends than magic.”
    Ridiculous, what ways? Magic is not only the most effective and reliable for this, but also the only thing that does not require inborn qualities. That means that if you weren’t born in rich family and with social skills, or isn’t predestined for success in your birth chart, you can’t do anything, unless you use magic. That’s what magic is about, about overcoming your fate.

    • Inominandum says:

      “Most effective and reliable?” As is evidenced by all the occultists in the fortune 500 and all the supermodels that hang on the arms of magicians at cons? C’mon man, you must be kidding.

      First: magic does require inborn qualities.

      Second: one most certainly can acquire wealth without being born into a rich family. 65% of American Millionaires are first generation and were not born to rich families.

      Third: Social skills are not inborn. If you are looking to get through life without social skills by using magic you are in for a sad and rude awakening.

      Fourth: I don’t believe in fate.

      • JC3 says:

        “Most effective and reliable?” Yes, proportionally. It’s rare to unlock power of magic, especially today with new-age disinformation, but you at least have a chance, as opposed to starting new business/self help program, which were already deciced to fail when you were born.
        Only scam artists from NLP business say that social skills are not inborn. You believe in this, and not in power of magic? Strange way to go.
        About fate, for me enough proof can be seen in astrology. I calculated almost to a day major events in my life (past events, to check reliability). They are of course sometimes avoidable, when you perform Primary Directions beforehand you have time to prepare yourself and hide in the basement or something like that to avoid fate’s hit. Or take fuller advantage of positive direction. But you can’t create something from nothing.

        • Inominandum says:

          So let me get this straight. With magic you can succeed in business. But unless the stars are perfectly aligned you don’t have a shot without it?

          Because Astrology has absolute and irrefutable rule over every aspect of every aspect of life EXCEPT magic?

          If thats your belief, than that is fine by me, but I completely disagree.

          Social Skills are learned behaviors. Thats why they are SOCIAL skills.

          I do not believe “in this and not in power of magic”. I believe in both. That magic is part of the real world, not separate from it. It is not an either/or proposition.

          If you want a magic based in fantasy and as disconnected from reality as possible, I leave you to it. You are certainly not alone. But that’s not what I am about.

          • JC3 says:

            Yes, magic is said to be the only thing that can go beyond fate, John Frawley in Real Astrology explores this issue. He says it especially in context of working with demons.

          • JC3 says:

            About social skills, I meant that they are attained according to inborn traits, I thought it’s obvious. It’s like other talents, some will learn painting with ease, some never at all.

  2. My compliments , this is a good piece of esoteric knowledge .

  3. M.G. says:

    I have shared your experiences with Kunzang Dorje with acquaintances from different spiritual backgrounds and they all found them meaningful. One advanced practitioner told me that even living Buddhas still have lots of egoistic conditioning, but that their conditioning, even when dictating their actions, never fully obscures awareness.

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  5. Inominandum says:

    Magic is even more dependent on inborn traits. Far more people have what it takes to learn decent social skills than magic. This is obvious.

    • anonymous says:

      Jason when you say Magic is even more dependent on inborn traits, could you be more specific on what you think those inborn traits are? Thanks

    • anonymous again says:

      Seriously, it’s an important question I think… and I’m sure it’s not clear to a lot of people, not just me. My impression is that modern occultists tend to take for granted that “magic is for all”. So, asking again, what inborn traits are necessary in your opinion?

      • inominandum says:

        I think that those heavily influenced by Thelema and Wicca and such believe that magic is for all. Those from other backgrounds tend to see certain people as possessing gifts.

        For me, I think mysticism is for everyone. Everyone CAN make that journey and uncover the light of gnosis. Magic is different, magic not only does that, but it brings it back down to the material plane and uses it to transmit certain teachings or commit certain actions.

        The qualities are mostly talents just like other talents. They can stem from herediray lines, former lives, circumstances of birth, or other means. Most people have some capacity for it, but some do not.

        You can see this playing oyt in the modern world where people are getting involved with magic and witchcraft for social, counter culture, and aesthetic reasons, yet have no capacity for pracal magic. These are the people who write it off as psychology or just ignore it completely while maintining other trappings.

  6. Vahv says:

    Thank you! I have been saying for a while now that in order for one to be a more stable magician he/she needs to go “get their head checked” in addition to their magical/spiritual practice. I have worked with two “master” magicians/sorcerers and while I will not pass judgment on their metaphysical capabilities, I have seen how their *personal* lives and everyday mental states were a total wreck. So much so that it was a huge disappointment for me (that’s an understatement, scared and scarred are more like it) and I could no longer work with them.

  7. Jow says:

    The fact that spiritual masters have egos and are indeed fallible scares the ever livin’ piss out of most seekers. They are NEEDED to be perfect. Otherwise nothing makes sense, and there is no way that they can be trusted.

    Which is silly. If I needed anyone else to be perfect in my life in order to trust them I’d never trust anyone! To me it is the flaws that make it so I can relate to someone. If someone is flawless and beyond the cares of the world, how can they help someone in it?

    If we are very very lucky, those Great Beings that we meet will also be Good People.

  8. Good article Jason. One thing I absorbed from my stint in the New Age movement was that psychology plays quite a large role in magick of all kinds. Lets consider psychic functioning for example. Belief that psychic awareness is possible has been shown to dramatically increase one’s ability to cultivate psychic awareness. Firstly, in order to put the time into practicing one would likely believe the goal is possible. Secondly, it has to be understood that the contents of our subconscious minds…such as disbelief…can act as a potent block.

    This has been demonstrated with Silva Method practitioners who, surrounded by those who believed in their capacity to function psychically (other seminar attendees), surprised themselves with how psychic they were. Then a few days later, after the seminar ended, doubt crept in and their psychic functioning was either non-existent or severely diminished. They found themselves back where they started unless they truly embraced the belief that they were indeed psychic.

    I agree that the end of the era of magick as merely a psychological phenomenon is a positive thing but too many want to ignore the fact that we have made advances in understanding the way things work in the last few centuries…the mind for one…and to just toss that aside is foolishness. If I recall correctly, the Golden Dawn was against all forms of hypnosis but this is only because they saw it as giving one’s self over to an external operator. They didn’t know how it worked so they rejected it out of hand.

    The magickal paradigm isn’t exclusionary to all other input, it accepts and embraces what works and puts it to good use. It isn’t either Agrippa or Jung…Crowley or Joseph Campbell…it can and should be both.

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  10. John says:

    I found your story about Kunzang Dorje funny, it makes me wonder if the Buddha Sakyamuni’ had something going in his life on too… lol

  11. Rose Weaver says:

    Excellent post and agree on all points!

    In my personal experience, I’ve found my own magick works best when I’m working best… my mind is functioning on all cylinders, and as a result, I’m coping with life’s various struggles and dramas in a psychologically healthy manner.

    I doubt my results are unique.

    And from my perspective, the purpose of working with magick is to perform our Great Work, as well as to assist others. We cannot do this until we learn how to transcend “egocentric” as you rightly point out. Anyone working with magick in any capacity who continues to be “egocentric” will have problems with effectiveness until they finally decide to be honest with themselves and enlist the services of a good therapist for assistance. And these services will be required if performing certain work; trust me on this one.

    Again, great post!

  12. Shodo says:

    The importance of psychology and emotional clearing techniques I something that American Zen brought to Zen Buddhism. Many American Zen Buddhist organizations now, such as ZenGarland.Org in NJ teach classes on psychology and Buddhism and also teach a technique called Inner Relationship Focusing started by Eugene Gendlin and Ann Weiser Cornell that help to do the hard work of understanding and developing the ego in a healthy way. Hopefully more esoteric schools will start to embrace techniques to do this very necessary work as well.

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  14. Aghor Pir says:

    Your story of Kunzang Dorje reminded me of my own experiences with a great Aghori I met in India named Pagal Baba (whose name means “crazy father” or “crazy old man”). This man had awesome siddhis which he demonstrated when he was in a good mood. But he was human like the rest of us. He was also an alcoholic and liked to chase the gals. He would drink gallons of whiskey, and other aghoris including my own Guru would say that it is a sign of his “siddhis”, but there were times when he acted like a cranky alcoholic and do stupid things like pick fights with the police or expose himself to the western women saying to us that his “demon mind” had taken over. lol. Yet the man did do some phenomenal things like drinking a gallon of whiskey through his penis. Now that was interesting to say the least, not that I could see any use for it in real life other than in aiding in the practice of Vajroli. Chogyam Trungpa was also an alcoholic, yet one of the most brilliant Buddhist teachers this century.

    -Aghor Pir

  15. Elle says:

    Re: the issue of “Fate”.

    One of my favourite posts from RO is about Fate. He goes on to mention that some people in their current position and circumstances, whether it’s a third world country, or a horrible socio-economic position, basically need a boost in luck (or a change of fate) to get places. And magic sometimes can help them do that. It’s probably not totally necessary (other things can be done), but it sure helps a whole lot. It might cut down the time it takes to move out of a difficult state, and give people more time to live their lives in other ways.

    I believe in luck more than fate. But when does someone’s baseline “luck” in life get determined? Hmm.

  16. Interesting…..I get much more magically powerful when I get drunk. Problem is any positive effect through powerful drunken magick is quickly out weighed by the negative effects of drunkenness. If I could control the drunkenness I could find equilibrium but the whole point of being drunk is disconnecting from the mundane thus opening myself to a higher consciousness not obtained soberly. On the psychology note though I agree 100%, ones feeds the other. You must understand the basics of how the mind works (psychology) to be able to control and manipulate it at will thus propelling successful magick re-firming your ego’s prowess.

  17. Psychology provides us perspectives for internal work that we can do. Frankly, I think that internal work is one of the most neglected areas in the occult arts, and while I definitely don’t care for the argument that magic is all in your head, I think pyshcology can provide valuable tools for doing the internal work that can help a person become a truly great magician. Great post Jason!

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