Writings on breathwork, the Western and Northern mystery traditions and aromatics.

Bright From the Well


The Wealth Magic Workbook

Magical Incense

Connect Your Breath!

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Speculative fiction about past and future worlds and their myths. Published credits include:

Eternity is Good For You - short story published in collection Rebels and Devils, ed Christopher Hyatt, New Falcon Press, 2000.

Short stories in my collection Bright From theWell: Shining Fear, The Turing Test, Rig's Tale, The City Eats Us, The Sky Under the Earth.

Short story Subbits and excerpts from novel-in-progress Thule in Set it in Space and Stick a Robot In it, the first anthology from the Sheffield SF and Fantasy Writers' Group.  Available from

I also contribute an occasional blog on my thoughts on SF stories, together with other members of the Sheffield SF and Fantasy Writers' group, at the group blogspot:

Book Reviews

The Book of English Magic by Richard Heygate
Full review forthcoming

For more information, visit

Alan Chapman - Advanced Magick for Beginners (Aeon, 2008, pb, £12.99, 120pp. From
The cover of this book - a hand grenade - suggests it might not be a good idea to take it through the more nervous Customs barriers as well as giving us a clue to the book’s style and content - an explosive debut from the author. In his direct and irreverent approach to what actually works, Chapman is coming from the chaos magick corner, but with two important distinctions from most authors in the field.

First, he takes Pete Carroll’s great and masterly reduction of the essentials of magickal action to belief and ‘gnosis’ (which is to say ‘extraordinary state of consciousness’) (Liber Null, 1978) and reduces it even further: belief alone is seen as the basis of magick and gnosis is optional.
As someone who has worked chaos magick for many years I have to admit that this approach explains some results I and co-workers have had better than the usual model. For instance, the famous ‘bring a sigil party’ effect: a bunch of magicians prepares sigils and exchanges them, so that each charges the sigil of another person. In my experience, this method has a high success rate, and ties the usual model into knots. Let’s assume that each of the group achieves gnosis to charge the sigil; that means that, if it works, either the sigil had some objective existence outside of the conscious/subconscious minds of the person who created it, so that the gnosis worked telepathically, or that it worked because we all had faith that it would - i.e. we decided to believe it would. Occam’s Razor inclines me to the second explanation. If this becomes the model that most magicians accept, Chapman has made his name in magickal history.

The second difference in approach is that Chapman puts the mystical aspect of the magickal quest right back at the centre of it all. As far as he is concerned, we do magick principally to get enlightened. He centres this around the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel, the meta-self that acts as guru and guide in the magician’s encounters with the transhuman reality beyond his individual consciousness, symbolized in the Western tradition by crossing the Abyss.
To admit the possibility, indeed the central nature, of mystical attainment means that everything we do magickally changes in value. If adopted, the belief that it is possible to experience ‘objective’ reality has immense effects on your magick.
To look at this in more detail, let’s look at magick’s broad sets of objectives, of which I would define three.
First there's the earth-bound stuff, everything that improves our everyday lives. This includes even the most exotic mental/psychic powers if they are used to mundane ends.
The second concerns the training of the mind so that specific trances can be accomplished. Much of the basic training in any well-designed magickal training system consists of varieties of concentration exercises designed to increase our ability to focus the attention to a narrow and powerful beam.
The functions of these trances are threefold - a) to serve the first set of objectives - ie to do mundane sorcery. This is where some magicians stop; all they want is to get more powerful at manipulating consensus reality; b) as worthwhile states in themselves, to explore the potentials of consciousness in an open-ended way. This is what I was highlighting in my book 'Chaotopia!; this approach represents chaos magick plus interesting states of consciousness and the exploration of further potentials; c) to serve the third (following) set of objectives.
The third set of objectives are based on the idea that some kind of progress is possible, towards enlightenment, illumination. All philosophies of this kind speak not merely of states or levels of consciousness but of stages of accomplishment, in which states have become permanent adaptations of consciousness. Each of these stages represents a step in the direction of liberation from conditioned ways of perceiving the world.
I have always tended to regard having effects on the outer world as absolutely vital to a solid grounding in magick, if for no other reason than to distinguish what I am doing from the fluffy or self-deluding mess that many magicians seem to get into through lack of a good critical perspective. I used to be very resistant to the idea of enlightenment, but as I add up my experiences of higher consciousness and what they mean to me, the possibility of enlightenment - i.e. liberation from illusion as a permanent adaptation - seems much more important and much more achievable.
I am far from alone in this: mystical approaches are not at all uncommon amongst the chaoists I know, but the literature seldom reflects this, and at worst the ultra-pragmatist and anti-mystical worldviews of some authors can give the impression that chaos magick is nothing but outright materialistic consumerism flavoured with magickal techniques.
This dead-end philosophy is typical of the ‘flatland’ of much postmodern thought, where it’s but a short step from the idea that there is no privileged viewpoint (except of course the author’s) to the idea that nothing has any value at all. Chapman has assimilated the liberating relativism of PoMo and moved on, creating a much better integration of magick into an overall philosophical framework than anything Ken Wilber writes, with the latter’s blind spot for magick. 

To summarize: If you're interested in magick, read this book!

Dave Lee's writings