I was a lucky kid growing up, my family were largely bohemian and didn’t really pressure me at all to fall into a particular crowd or scene. For the most part I was left to decide my own hobbies and interests, which I feel as a working class northerner is an oddity. I was largely uninterested with anything considered the norm, I found the perception of normality to be terribly boring. I lived in my own mind, fuelled by my still present wild and colourful imagination, and nothing fuelled my imagination more than the idea of magic. Films like the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Excalibur’ were Bible to me, any media with witches, wizards and sorcerers utterly enamoured thing. I believe this fundamental obsession revolves around the concept of power, that these mystical men and women could achieve the impossible and bend reality by possessing a power that no hero-knight or any other could possess. The wizard or witch was a solitary creature, usually ostracised or eccentric, both qualities I possessed as a child. And so it was a common pastime for me to find the best stick that would act as my staff and to jump around the woods pretending to be Gandalf. I knew that magic could only ever exist in my own imagination and I stuck to this falsehood for many years. After a trip to the goth haven of Whitby with my grandparents, I realised that magic was very much real and was not limited to book, screen or my own closed mind. I bought a hazel wand (inscribed with ‘Blessed Be’ in futhark) from a Wicca supply shop and my first book of magic. This book of shadows was my prized object, with only the media portrayal of magic at my disposal I knew that every enchanter possessed their own book of spells, while mine wasn’t bound in human skin and written in odd runes, it was magic, real magic. Another very vivid memory was that a bought a handsome besom from the same shop, a gorgeous birch broomstick wrapped in colour silk, and so on our trip to the north York moors I placed the broom between my legs and jumped up and down over the heather. Alas I did not fly. Only in my mind.
Wicca was truly my gateway into my magical studies, even though I was very young I had absolute conviction that magic was very much real and tangible, I even recall having a particular fondness for a rain spell which seemed to work without fail. Naturally my new obsession with real magic just pushed me further from the grain of normality, thank God. Yet the older I got I started to become disenchanted. Like all teenagers I went through a period of abandoning childhood fantasies to focus on my image or popularity. Who I socialised with and how I looked over-rided any past passions. It is something I feel remarkably ashamed over, yet adolescence is a period in life in which one wears many masks for the sake of an easy time, even though I was bullied none the less for my bookish and overall weak disposition. But no-one could know I use to dress up in a pointy hat and make it rain. I killed that part of my childhood. This abandonment of magic continued until I was 16.
I was now in college and was the worst sycophant to a particular friend who I followed blindly. He was the coolest kid in college, a Casanova, I was discovering my own sexuality and realised too that I was deeply in love with him. Again I was sacrificing my core personality, but not for long. I was a theatre kid, and bloody good at it too, our first year assessment was based on the performance of a classical monologue. Know I don’t know exactly how I decided on it, or how I even knew of it, but I settled on Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’ to perform. I was a committed and serious young actor, finally in s subject that I cared for and excelled in so I conducted research into how i wanted to stage the piece. In my mind I wanted the stage littered in books and scraps of paper all bearing occult symbols, yet I didn’t know any. I didn’t want to cheapen the performance by having blank scraps of paper, they needed to be Faustus’ magical and alchemical work, so I used the library computer to find some.
And the gates opened.
Like a child again I was reading about magic, real magic again but this time I found a new mindset. In my research looking up Occult symbols to litter my set with, I came across a name, a name steeped in controversy to this day, the wickedest man in the world; Aleister Crowley. Reading up on Crowley and MacGregor Mathers brought me to a new and dangerous form of magic, the magic of the ceremonial magician. While indeed Wiccans and witches take their art and practise very seriously, there was something about the strict Methodology and science like nature of ceremonial magic that appealed to me more. Changing the weather was great and all but demon conjuration? Intricate magic circles and glyphs? Spirit evocation? Yes please, this was the magic that I wanted. And so I purchased my first Grimoire of ceremonial magic, the Ars Goetia.
This was a book I carried with pride, it was a conversation starter, I was the kid who studied demons. My image had changed after my then best friend moved to university, gone was the preppy and popular false Jack, now was the time for a brooding, dark clothed Jack who read Shelley, Byron and books of demon summoning in his spare time. To be frank it’s not a phase I’ve quite broken yet either.
As enamoured as I was by the Ars Goetia, I was no fool, I knew that in terms of practicality it was something I could not attempt, yet. The magic was complex, the tools seemed impossible to acquire and so I sat on my grand schemes of being a conjured per excellence, yet the flames in my mind were raging.
Three years later I moved to Nottingham for my university education, wonderful city. for the first time in my life I was with strangers who had no preconceived notions about me. I could wear a new mask. Yet I chose the hard path, I was at university so one should act as a university don should, I bought tweed suits from charity shops, wore a bow tie and started to smoke a pipe. I found rebellion by not being normal, fuck normality, the new Jack would never bow down to popularity again. I call my university years some of the darkest of my life, not only because of the daily cocktails of alcohol, drugs and severe bouts of depression but because these were the years in which I honed my craft as a goete.
I had the good fortune of renting flats with basements and because my flatmates were dull football types brainwashed by heteronormative coding, they were naturally scared of it and didn’t go down there. And as horribly cliched and Hollywood as it is, I began conjuring demons in the basement. Even though I had been studying the Goetia for a few years now, I still lacked pretty much everything needed, other than my own conviction. I used chalk for my circle and triangle of art, candles for mood lighting and some sticks of incense and began conversing to the shadows. The crazy thing is, the shadows spoke back. I knew that I had the crossed a threshold in which there was no return, while I had achieved magic with fairly simple effects, now I had truly pierced the veil and was openly seeing, speaking and listening to demons. The glass of reality had cracked, I was in a new world in which magic was the only truth. I had demon spirits perform many many tasks for me, some failed, some excelled. I tried to hone in my skills, realise mistakes and amend them. Then I started branching out, with my knowledge increasing I came into contact with more books, more new information and magic to discover; the Verum, the Cyprian texts, Agrippa, Abra-Melin etc. Etc.
Yet this was closeted. While I was unashamedly eccentric, I had too much against me as a gay man and an oddity. I suffered extreme bullying again and thanks to my depression made a suicide attempt, if anyone knew I was in the basement ordering demons to attack those who wronged me, it would be fatal to me. Or so I thought. The layman perceives magic as nonsense, Harry Potter glitter Magic that simply isn’t real and if you believe in it you either have too many cats or are just delusional. They do not understand that magic and only magic is the highest form of science there is, the microscope or telescope can see hidden things that the eye cannot yet so can a scrying ball. For all the wonders that science can perform and demonstrate, it cannot lift the eyelids on the falsehoods of reality, only through magic can we truly see between the lines and realise that the mundane world is shrouded in mysteries that only magic can answer. And so due to this fear of being stigmatised, I kept my magic a secret.
For the best part of a decade I studied and practised Ceremonial magic in private. Whenever my parents or housemates we’re out I’d grab my tools and begin my work. My library was growing, my collection of magical tools too, I was growing and flowering into a proficient 21st century Magus. Then two years ago I decided fuck it. I was tired of keeping a fundamental part of my spiritual beliefs and occult practises silent and so I outed myself as a ceremonial magician. Not to much fanfare however, everyone seemed largely indifferent, probably just another one of jack’s eccentricities. But no, magic is no hobby, no idle pastime or frivolity to me, magic is in my Veins and every breath, it is my true calling in life to study, explore and understand my place in this world through the Occult sciences. I am a magician who can charm you or tear you to pieces just as easily, I live in a demimonde of illusion, I achieve the impossible.
When you sit before the scrying glass and see a spirit looking into your eyes, you must reject all notions of a normal reality and accept wholeheartedly that magic is real.