One of the great privileges and joys I have is to sometimes serve as a confidant and consultant to people doing the inner work of traditions like Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. Recently, a brother shared his reflections from a significant moment of transition in his initiatic journey, and I was very moved by his words, realizing how helpful they could be to others in various ways. After I suggested he consider sharing his reflections more publicly, we agreed that he could do so anonymously through my website. I have done some minimal editing for things like spelling and punctuation, but these are his words, not mine, and his way of making the points he feels most moved to make. I’m personally very touched by them, with awe, gratitude, and inspiration. – Chuck
Six years ago I began an intense occult journey into practical magic. This was not on a whim.  At the time I was already a Master Mason and I had spent time investing in the contemplation of the virtues and lessons inculcated within Freemasonry.  I was a 32nd degree Master of the Royal Secret in the Scottish Rite and desiring more than the abbreviated lectures and required degrees, and I had gone through the entire series of Master Craftsman Courses. I was a Knight Templar in the York Rite and had even attended their leadership course. Still, driven to learn more, I had the privilege of being invited into the SRICF and after researching aspects of the initiation process, wrote my paper. After some time I became a Grade VII Adeptus Exemptus. I was hungry for the deeper mysteries.
I was also already educated in basic Greek, Hebrew, and theology.  I have a Master of Divinity from an accredited seminary and was in that season serving full time vocationally in a mainstream religious denomination. I would rise early every morning and contemplate the scripture readings for the day and I had developed a healthy habit of centering prayer which began early in my seminary spiritual formation; both of which would become integral parts of my pathway… and yet there was still this deeper call and invitation to go on a magician’s journey.
Having a love for the mystic side of Christianity. I loved reading and contemplating works by the great mystics like Saint John of the Cross, Gregory the Great, and Jacob Boehme.  At the same time from my youth I had long been what one might call an armchair magician, having read books by Israel Regardie, Allister Crowley, Stephen Skinner, Dione Fortune, Franz Bardon, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, John Michael Greer, and so many others, but I had never put any of its content into ongoing committed practice. There was always this deep conflict between my desire to dive deeper into practical magic and my mainstream religious upbringing and indoctrination. The associated guilt and shame of engaging in anything other than curious reading generally kept my desires to venture into ongoing practice under the thumb of externally and self-imposed fear and doctrinal subordination.
All that changed six years ago, and for the past six years I have spent well over an hour each day with very few exceptions in my oratory and in other locations engaging in prayer, ritual, ceremonial magic, meditation, visualization, invocation, evocation, and ongoing practical magic of all types. I learned to hold thought and direct my will and humbly accepted my shortcomings, yet I persisted in all of it. Simultaneously with these practices I continued my daily practice of scripture reading and contemplation along with my ongoing practice of reaching for the silence in centering prayer.
Through good days and bad days, through sickness and health, through times of peace and times of great conflict. I persisted day after day in my oratory and outside of it along this practical magic pathway.
As my eyes opened I began to see spiritual synchronicities with everything I was doing.  There were markers on the path in my day-to-day reality, even within the scripture readings for the day.  So much of it consistently synchronized in ways only the divine could orchestrate. Some of the practical magical operations I engaged in were completed within an hour and were contained to my personal oratory. Some took days to complete and required gathering objects to create talismans and ongoing incantations with sigils etc…. Some of the magical operations lasted the cycle of the moon in all its phases and culminated in some of the most extreme manifestations in Assiah. There were overnight vigils and fasting. Some of the magical operations lasted well over a year and became intense inner struggles which climaxed in a total change in vocation prompting moves and relocations. One operation is still ongoing and this writing comes as I pause to reflect and recenter.
In this six year period I have engaged in visualization, dream work, journaling, creating sigils, invoking angels and archangels, talking with spirit guides, engaging in intense astral work where dragons roam and mermaids swim. I have come face to face with demons that would have lured me into the deepest depths of hell had I let them, all while diving deep into the depths of my own inner psychological makeup.
I have attempted to the best of my ability to process, to ground, to integrate, and to be open to the transformative process of cooperating with the divine on this level. In some ways I have been successful, in other ways I have failed.  In some instances I have seen growth and blossoming love, in others the recurrence of selfishness and self-centered behavior. Through it all I have a greater understanding of the pendulum and how it swings and I have seen the beauty of harmony in the midst of it all.
This path has included a dedicated and committed journey through the Transforming Cross program and all the practical work described in an early draft of the manuscript that became Chuck Dunning’s book, A Rose Croix Oratory. I am particularly fond of the Cabalistic Rosary he introduced therein. Dunning’s work came as the perfect bridge between my mainstream mystical leaning and my desire to more fully embrace the Rosicrucian path, and became an instrumental piece helping me to transition in my journey.  It was, for me, the perfect blend of mysticism and practical magic, forming the foundation of all my later work.
My practical magic path continued of course and has also included other operations, including a journey through the Tarot and the Tree of Life which has been very productive. Through the images therein I have uncovered childhood traumas I had long buried. This ongoing magical journey has caused to surface various patches of unresolved grief and hurts related to loss of life and events throughout my life. It has brought to light the conditioning of military service, which I thought was all behind me, but was still actively affecting my thinking and emotional processes, something I see now more clearly than ever before. All of this has led to a deeper comprehension of my unity with the divine and allowed me to glimpse at the freedom of a liberated mind.
I want to reiterate that this was not a casual commitment to the practical magical path, but one which I engaged in for over an hour everyday with only a handful of exceptions in the entire six year period of time.  Doing the math, I have at least 3000 active hours into this. I am not saying this to toot my own horn, I’m saying it to give you an idea of what six committed years on the practical magical path look like in terms of input vs. output. In reality, that number does not even count time researching, or buying and crafting items used in my oratory, or take into account my nightly contemplation of the day’s events when the side effects of these operations were reeking havoc or bringing blessing to my day to to life. It does not count time in nature engaging in other practical works, nor the many hours spent in centering prayer, through which I would return to equilibrium before engaging in follow up stages.  The real hours are uncountable. 
I want to stop right here and offer a strong warning at this point to anyone interested in the practical magical path.  It might be that the most important thing to consider is just how much true magical practice requires you to face the deepest parts of your being.  This path is not for everyone and there is a reason mainstream religion tries so hard to steer people away from the occult and esoteric magical path. There’s also a reason the monks offer a path of ascension in a middle path format of centering prayer and mysticism.  The practical magical path is dangerous in that its effectiveness demands a level of openness to real psychospiritual alchemical processes leading to transformation at the deepest levels, and all along the way you have to process and ground the thoughts and feelings and actions that come along with it.
I had no idea that my practical magical journey would involve such radical in-your-face awareness of self and ego. Nor did I anticipate the depths to which this journey would reveal who I am and who I am not, and what mechanisms had been overlaid upon my consciousness to confine me into the tomb I had created for myself and blindly adopted as the world spoon fed me how to think and respond on automatic pilot.
With that I will add that the practical magical path demands real world actions in Assiah. I had to face my fear of surgery to accept healing I was praying for and had invoked the archangel Rafael to help me with.  I had to say yes to going to therapy to get help with PTSD to better understand the dynamics of military related trauma and conditioning. I had to accept an underlying bent towards people-pleasing and the interplay of childhood trauma with healthy boundaries and work-life balance. I had to come to terms with my excesses and deficiencies of virtue and go back time and time again revisiting aspects of the journey I thought I had successfully navigated, only to find a deeper truth that required acceptance for additional healing to occur.
So, if you’re not ready to take real world steps to look at your own hellish ugliness AND your own true divine beauty, well then practical magic is not for you.  Taking the practical magical path basically means you are saying yes to dealing with all the crap you’ve been shoving in your psychological basement and not wanting to deal with, and then engaging it with the hopes of liberating your own heart and mind in order to arrive at some degree of harmony and equilibrium; a place from which you can truly operate in love and compassion in a world that desperately needs it — the Great Work.
If six years of this path have taught me anything, it’s that while YES the universe and divine will guide you on this path, it is YOU who must also be ready to accept that each new achievement reveals yet one more deeper layer of the allegorical onion that you must continue to commit to deal with and bring healing to.
I’m beginning to think the work will never be done.  I’m in the middle of a great shit-storm right now in life as I write this. Having my eyes further opened I see I yet again have big life decisions to make, but that’s okay.  Patience and humility are my prayer as I see more clearly than ever how much work is required of the adept on this path, yet time, attention, and committed action are everyday tools for the magician. On one hand I’m scared and alone in this journey, but on the other I am joyful and surrounded by the love of God all at the same time.  There is a beautiful balance in it.
As of now, there is yet more work to be done. I will keep going, because that is the choice I continue to make.
Do not take this path in a committed way lightly. And, if you do take this path, make sure you have a mentor or group that can help you check yourself along the way as I have had, someone who truly knows the pitfalls and elevations and can help you stay grounded through it.
And above all, with all that seriousness, don’t forget to laugh at yourself, because this whole process is kind of funny too if you think about it.
Still on the path,
The Unknown Magician

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