FALCON BOOKS INTERVIEWS
With Virgil discussing:
The Spirit of Magic: Rediscovering the Heart of Our Sacred Art
Author’s Corner is a platform to explore literature ranging from esoteric to historical works, offering the opportunity for the author to discuss their titles and for us to find more about them and the reasons behind their work.
Presenting today an interview with Virgil who a best selling author at Falcon Books Publishing and has written three titles discussing the path of Magical initiation and self-development including today;s title discussion, The Elemental Equilibrium, The Spirit of Magic, and his latest title The Covert Side of Initiation. Virgil is a long term practitioner of Bardon’s system and also has experience within other magical traditions.
1. Falcon Books: Q: The Spirit of Magic has received mostly positive reviews, and part of the reason appears to be its references to elements of modern pop culture – Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. Was the use of such references an attempt on your part to make the book more appealing to modern readers?
Virgil: As far as I can tell, readers did like that aspect of the book, and that makes me happy. I wasn’t sure how that aspect would be received, but I do think it makes my book unique, so the fact that it also increased the book’s appeal is a welcome bonus. That said, the reason I included such references wasn’t to increase the book’s appeal, but to increase its effectiveness at passing on the information I wanted to share. Traditionally, esoteric writers would reference things like the Greek myths, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. When deciding what other works to reference in my book, I could have also restricted myself to stuff like ancient myths, alchemical texts, and cryptic parables. This would have given my book on magic a more “traditional” flavor as far as magical books go. There are advantages to doing that. The human brain is actually wired to dislike change and be suspicious of it. That which is traditional and familiar is safe, while that which is new is potentially dangerous. However, courage is one of the four pillars of Solomon’s temple, and I expect the minds of aspiring magicians to be more plastic, flexible, and open to new things, including new writing styles such as the one I used in my book. Furthermore, I’m really not married to the idea of doing something the traditional way just because it’s traditional. A fixation with tradition is one thing that prevents progress in any field, including esoteric writing. The point of most writing techniques, whether you are using an analogy or referencing another work, is to help the reader understand the point you are trying to make. For example, in The Spirit of Magic, I try to make the following points.
- The future is not set in stone.
- Power can cause a lot of grief if it is not used wisely.
To illustrate these points, I examine the events that occur in the life of Anakin Skywalker in the film Revenge of the Sith. Anakin sees visions of a bad future, tries to acquire the power to change it, and then ends up using that power to manifest the bad future he saw. If he had tried to acquire wisdom instead, everything would have worked out fine. Anakin’s story illustrates the points I am trying to make perfectly. That’s why I referenced it. It wasn’t because I expected many of my readers to be Star Wars fans and wanted to win them over. It wasn’t because I was trying to be different by referencing a modern film instead of an ancient myth or arcane manuscript. It’s because there is no other story I know of that illustrates the points I was trying to make as clearly as the story of Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side. I think the reason people liked my references to pop culture is because those references do an effective job of illustrating important points. If you’re trying to understand my approach to writing, know that this effectiveness is precisely what is important to me. I don’t just reference stuff like Star Wars and Harry Potter in my book. I also reference Greek mythology and the works of Shakespeare. It’s all about referencing the story, fable, or parable that best illustrates the point I’m trying to make or that best reflects the lesson I am trying to teach. Sometimes that’s going to be something old like a Gnostic legend or Egyptian myth. Other times, that’s going to be something modern like Star Wars or Harry Potter. If you get too caught up in whether the reference is to something old or to something that is a part of modern pop culture, you miss the important thing which is the lesson, teaching, or point that the reference is trying to make.
2. Falcon Books: Are there any frustrations you have about the way The Spirit of Magic was received?
Virgil: As you mentioned earlier, the book was mostly received well, and I certainly don’t have any frustrations about that fact. That said, I’m not always convinced all my readers understand what I was trying to convey. There are my misconceptions about my book, and that is frustrating.
The biggest misconception about my book is that it’s about the Bardon system, or that it’s written for students of the Bardon system. I get a lot of messages from readers saying things like “Your book is a fantastic introduction to the Bardon system. I really liked it.” It feels kind of weird to reply with something like “I’m glad you liked my book but I don’t think you understood it.” I usually just thank them for their kind compliments, but inside of me, there’s always some turmoil because the book really isn’t about the Bardon system or about Bardon’s approach to magic. It’s about magic. If you don’t understand that, I don’t think you can really understand my book. I didn’t call my book The Spirit of Bardonian Magic or The Spirit of Western Magic or The Spirit of Hermetic Magic.
These kinds of misunderstandings about my book are all on me, not my readers. There are many things I could have done to make it clear that the book is about magic in general and not about any particular system of magic or system of magical training. When I begin working on the second edition, I will make sure to add some clarifications in hopes of facilitating an accurate understanding of the book.
3. Falcon Books: Which chapter of this book did you enjoy writing most?
Virgil: The commentary on “The Golden Key” was by far my favorite chapter to write. I’ve always liked that story. Several readers who have messaged me over the course of the past few months have made references to “The Golden Key” in their messages. That always brings a smile to my face. There is a concept called “Awen” in Druidry. It can be roughly translated as “inspiration.” In Druidry, it’s not an abstract concept but a living force that you can feel, use, and work with. George McDonald was definitely channeling Awen when he wrote that story, and when I read it, I can feel the Awen underlying it. It’s always a transformative experience. Considering how much esoteric symbolism there is in the story, I’m surprised it’s not more well-known in the esoteric world. Many of my readers have told me that my book was the first place they heard of it. The story has beautiful imagery, especially in its description of the rainbow. It is a reminder that great and wonderful things await us once we complete our initiation.
4. Falcon Books: What were your biggest influences when it came to writing your book?
Virgil: The book is about magic, so anything that influenced my views on magic influenced the book. Most of my views about magic stem from my own experiences undergoing magical training and working as a magician. I view magic as primarily about service, and I view service as any act that makes the world more blessed. For me, making the world more blessed means increasing the joy and wonder in the world while decreasing the amount of unnecessary suffering in it. A long time ago, I was watching a comedy show on television that I really liked. I won’t say the exact show because doing so might reveal too much about my tastes (which can be weird). Most of the episodes were hilarious, but there was one episode with a really sad ending. It explored the miserable childhood of one of the characters, who was actually my favorite character. After watching that episode and feeling sad, I remember thinking to myself that while this fictional character is obviously not real, there are many real children living similar miserable childhoods because of poverty and negligence. Prayer has always been a part of my approach to spirituality, so I prayed that society would improve and fewer children would have to go through that kind of suffering. A short time later, I learned about the Bardon system via Bill’s website. For me, that was like Divine Providence saying to me “Hey, if you seriously want that to be the case, then help me make it happen.” That incident gave me my initial understanding of magic, or at least the magical path I happen to walk. That understanding is reflected quite clearly in the text of my book.
As for other magicians or teachers of esotericism who influenced my views on magic, I quote most of them in the book. I quote Bill and Eliphas Levi a lot because they’re probably my biggest influences. Bill also views magic as an art centered on serving Divine Providence by making the world a more blessed place, but he’s been a practicing magician for a lot longer than I have, so his writings have given me a better understanding of what exactly it means to make the world a more blessed place. I consider the concept of magical equilibrium to be central to magic, and Levi writes extensively about that concept, so I’ve studied his works in great depth. I always thought it would be cool to collect together all of the things written about magical equilibrium by various magical teachers who knew what they were talking about and to publish the whole compilation in one book. Bill’s written several essays about magical equilibrium. There are several chapters about magical equilibrium in Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie. There’s a great article about magical equilibrium written by Rawn on his site. I can’t think of any essay, article, or chapter written by Josephine that’s specifically about magical equilibrium, but she does spend several paragraphs discussing it at various points in her books. Those paragraphs could be compiled together into a chapter for the book. I think it would be cool to see all these various writings about magical equilibrium gathered in one place, but in any case, I digress.
5. Falcon Books: Can you tell us a little about the process of writing this book?
Virgil: When I first decided to write a book, I envisioned a book called Twelve Essays by a Bardonist. I saw it as consisting of just that – twelve separate essays written about twelve different esoteric subjects that would be published together in one book. The point of the book would be to allow the esoteric community to view many subjects from a Bardonist’s point of view. The actual book I ended up writing – The Spirit of Magic – is obviously very different. The essays were all supposed to be separate and unrelated to each other, but as I was writing them, I noticed many connections between them. I decided to strengthen those connections so the book became a single unit with twelve parts rather than twelve separate units. I also noticed that I was exploring themes like service, compassion, and wisdom a lot. These themes are close to what you might call the essence or “heart” of magic because they appear in all genuine forms of magic and differentiate them from other disciplines like occultism and sorcery. That’s where the title of the book comes from. In a nutshell, that’s basically how the book evolved. The thing about major written projects is that they take a direction of their own. I was originally heading towards Twelve Essays by a Bardonist but the project steered itself towards The Spirit of Magic, so that’s where I ended up.
6. Falcon Books: In your book, you discuss “magic” and “occultism” a lot. How well do your definitions of these two terms align with the standard definitions of these terms?
Virgil: I don’t really think there’s a standard definition of “magic.” Too many different magicians, all equally famous and iconic, have given their own differing definitions of the word for there to be one standard definition. As far as the Bardon community goes, I think my definition of the word aligns with the most common views on what magic is because it reflects what Bardon had in mind whenever he used that word. If you read IIH and PME, it’s clear that Bardon saw magic as an art designed to be used to help society develop and to make the world a better place.
As for occultism, when most people try to come up with a definition of that word, they base their definition on the word’s etymology. The word “occultism” comes from the Latin word “occulere,” which means “to hide.” Therefore, the original meaning of the word was more or less “the study of hidden subjects.” I can’t tell you how many people have messaged me saying “The definition of occultism in your book is wrong because occultism actually means the study of hidden subjects.” If we were living in the Middle Ages or in Victorian times, I’d have to agree with them. Back then, religious authorities and governmental bodies could persecute you for studying certain esoteric subjects or possessing books about those subjects. Therefore, the resources needed to study those subjects were hidden well and those who engaged in the practical application of their knowledge about these subjects did so while hidden from the view of the public. It’s not surprising these esoteric subjects came to be known as “occultism.” In those times, the word really did refer to the study of hidden subjects, as its etymology suggests. Now, we live in a world where people wear occult jewelry to show off the fact that they are occultists, and where any large bookstore is bound to have a section filled with occult books. The way people use the word “occultism” is different from the way it was used in the past. In other words, the definition of the word has changed. Based on my own observations of the esoteric/occult world, it’s clear to me that the definition of “occultism” I give in my book does accurately reflect the way that word is used in modern times.
7. Falcon Books: Do you have any ideas for changes you will make for the second edition of The Spirit of Magic, besides those you mentioned earlier?
Virgil: To be honest, I haven’t thought too much about the second edition yet. The first one has only been out for a year, and in the time that it’s been out, most of the time I’ve devoted to my esoteric writing has been spent working on my other two books. I think most of the revising I’ll end up doing will be for the purpose of making everything more clear and coherent. I can be verbose at times. Since writing that book, I’ve also read a lot more of Bill’s writings. Many of his short stories and mini-articles do a great job of illustrating the nature of magic. I’ll probably ask if I can include one or two in the appendices of the second edition of my book. I’m also going to have to modify the chapter on the six-pronged attack to reflect the most recent version of this set of techniques, which I discuss in great detail in The Elemental Equilibrium. There’s a section on not getting distracted by occultism in the book that I want to expand. I want to discuss the danger of becoming distracted in greater detail. I don’t think there are many people who realize just how easy it is to become distracted.
8. Falcon Books: Based on your experience writing this book, do you have any advice or suggestions for people who intend to one day write books about magic?
Virgil: Make sure what you write reflects your values. Otherwise, you’re probably not making a unique contribution to the magical community. Sometimes that can be hard. If your values clash with the accepted norms and conventions of the esoteric world, then allowing your values to be reflected in your writing may cause it to draw negative backlash. If you would rather not deal with this negative backlash, then don’t write. That’s perfectly fine, and there are many magical and esoteric subjects I don’t ever see myself writing about because doing so would be stirring up a hornets nest and I don’t want to put up with that. However, when I do write about magic, I do my best to make sure that what I write reflects my values. Your values are a reflection of your true self, and your true self is divine. Therefore, to write something that doesn’t reflect your values is to betray Divinity.
To find out more about Virgil you can visit Falcon Books Author page. To read an in-depth interview with Virgil please follow the link Falcon Books Interviews. You can also catch up with Virgil on Facebook and his Blog: Awake in the Starlight.
To purchase any of Virgil’s titles please follow the links below::
“Treating others with kindness is the first magical act the magician learns and the last one he masters.”