Jeff Wolfe recently interviewed me for his website Secret Transmissions. Jeff is a writer and an occasional contributor to Phalanx (you can find his Phalanx articles here), and I’ve found his work to be a both enjoyable and thought-provoking. I recommend you check out Secret Transmissions as well as Jeff’s other writing — if you’re interested in my work, his interview with me might be a good place to start. You can read the whole thing here or check out the first couple of questions below:
When did you first become interested in esotericism?
I was 15 years old when I first read a book on the esoteric. It was about astral projection and the elements, and may have been by Dion Fortune, but I’m not sure. A year later I bought a book of neo-Pagan rituals, and then a year after that, when I was around 17, I came across an occult and New Age spiritual bookstore a few miles from where I lived. I began visiting it regularly and reading widely on the subject, from Mircea Eliade to Aleister Crowley. Probably, much of what I read was rubbish, but it opened up my imagination and my interest in other cultures.
What thinkers, practitioners and writers have most profoundly shaped your life and offered you better ways of understanding the world and how to maximize your personal practices?
As mentioned, I found Mircea Eliade’s writing interesting when I was young, and still do. Again, I found Crowley interesting. I also read some of Israel Regardie’s work. I don’t consider myself to be devotees of either Regardie or Crowley, but I think that Crowley’s ability to write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and translations, to experiment in fine art painting, to practice boxing, to be a practicing mountain climber, and his traveling the world, makes him an extraordinary example of what a life can be. I don’t think you can imitate Crowley, or adopt his teachings wholesale, but as with, say, Picasso in the art world, I think you can be inspired by his energy and drive.
Fundamentally, I’m interested in those individuals who are able to practice the hard and soft arts, physical and spiritual disciplines, or that can draw on influences that are regarded as outside of their discipline. Besides Crowley, another example that I often cite is Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s most famous Samurai, known not only for his skills as a warrior but also for his painting and calligraphy. He is best-known in the West for his Book of Five Rings, which is a profound work on the martial arts, and practicing a discipline of any sort.
I was very interested in the work of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima when I was in my twenties. And, again, Mishima was one of those multi-dimensional characters — Japan’s most famous literary writer at the time, he also acted, conducted an orchestra, practiced bodybuilding, and formed his own private army.
When you observe the current occult landscape through personal interactions, new books being written and the range of media that is being produced; what do you see? Is the scene at a new high point of potentialities or has it grown stagnate or regressing?
It’s both at a new high and a new low. Western esotericism can retreat into a kind of musicological mindset of wanting to preserve, rather than to live and give energy to the traditions. On the other end of the scale, in occultism, you find a kind of ‘anything goes’ attitude, where things are mixed together for the sake of creating something new, to avoid having to study anything too deeply. But what is created is rarely lasting or important. There are exceptions to this.
Some small publishers, such as Theion Press, are publishing works of high quality, of deep thought, radical yet scholarly… Continue reading.