The Hidden Stone magazine is a new endeavor, with the aims to provide a voice to people in magical communities all over the world. The term "Hidden Stone" comes from the Hermetic Latin phrase "Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem", better known by the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L.
The point is, it's apparent that the origins of this magazine come from my love for Hermetic and Alchemical imagery. This does not mean that it is a magazine about Alchemy or about Hermeticism. This magazine intends to provide a voice to as many magical cultures and traditions as would like to speak within its pages. Maybe the name will change over time, maybe it will remain solid as a rock.
I did not choose the name "The Hidden Stone" only because of it's ties to the aforementioned phrase. I chose the name because it represents what I would like to uncover: The Hidden Stone to me represents truth through understanding. This may come in the form of Gnosis, or it may be delivered by spirits on high, or by our ancestors, or even through scientific deduction and understanding. Knowledge and truth are limitless concepts, and my goal is to expand those horizons and provide a place for discussion and dialectic. The goals of this magazine are extrapolated in the following essay, which will serve as the introduction to the first issue, which will debut on this website on the Spring Equinox, 2021.
On the Definitions of Magic
- OR -
THE HIDDEN STONE MANIFESTO
"Fix your hearts or die."
Such a definition is problematic by its nature. The word Magic means a myriad of different things to different people; from stage illusions to ceremony to intention setting to root working or a plethora of other modalities. There are many ways one may practice this wondrous and im-possible thing we call ‘magic’. When these practices are examined, we find that there are several common threads which run through each of these traditions, which connect them and intertwine their histories and their meanings. This means, however, that there is something crucial to be discovered in those things which makes each tradition different.
To me, magic is simple, it is my ability to set my mind to something and achieve my will. It is a muscle which must be stretched, flexed, and relaxed, lest my will atrophy or tear. It is in many ways a backbone for how I approach my daily decisions. Magic is innate; it is in me, and it is of me, or perhaps we are of it.
My introduction to magic of any kind started with setting intentions, setting goals, creating plans, and working to achieve those goals. There was no flash or fancy, it was very practical, and I was young. I did not realize at the time what I was doing, or how I was doing it. I only knew that I was doing it, and that it was working.
In high school and college I began to explore various types of magical traditions - approaching the subject with skeptical credulity as an atheist and proponent of materialism - and what I discovered was that no matter what a person was doing (that is to say, no matter what kind of a system a person was working, no matter what tools they were using, etc.), their efforts typically had tangible effects in their lives and every aspect of their working was sacred and held meaning to them. Later in college I switched my focus from Computers and Art toward Philosophy, and I began to tackle questions about meaning, morality, decisions, and their consequences. Applying these questions and ideas to my interest in the esoteric and occult I discovered some big problems.
There is, time and time again, an attempt to create a definition for what magic truly is, and by doing so, create an implicit definition for what magic is not. There are people (both notable figures in the history of magical topics, as well as neighbors, friends, or regulars at your bookstore) who become convinced for one reason or another that their way of seeing things is the only way when it comes to the woo - or even when it comes to the mundane ways in which someone lives their life. We end up judging each other, whether we realize it or not, and as a byproduct of our judgement we may pass off other people’s beliefs or practices as irrelevant simply because they are different from our own - simply because it does not fit into our particular picture of the woo.
To be more specific, let me use this example: In my own practice I’m fond of colors, and I’m fond of the seven “classical” planets of antiquity (pre-Heliocentrism) which are the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. I then follow a particular tradition for associating colors with these planets: Purple and silver for the Moon, orange for Mercury, green for Venus, yellow and gold for the Sun, blue for Jupiter, red for Mars, and black for Saturn. I have a friend who once told me that in her world the Sun was orange and Mercury was yellow. She said “I know it’s not ‘technically correct’ but it makes more sense in my book,” and she kept on using those color attributions without any problems.
I know practitioners of Reiki healing who have a Western-based understanding of the colors such as the Golden Dawn ones I laid out above, each being associated with the different Chakras as a rainbow - for instance, that the Throat chakra is blue, and so is Jupiter, so those things must be related via the element of communication, whereas other practitioners of the same healing technique approach it with a different set of color associations for the chakras, or work without colors at all, preferring to rely on sensation: how the different energies feel. Others will work with the same colors, but for very different reasons. We give different names to these tools and practices, and perhaps see them from different angles.
This is a good thing. This is a wonderful thing! This is an opportunity for each of us to learn from each other, rather than criticizing and judging each other, or trying to assert that “Well, their way of looking at things is just wrong.” We have this opportunity to peer through each other’s lenses and develop a better understanding of that which we do not know, so why don’t we take it? Why don’t we seize this glorious opportunity by its horns and use it as our best tool for understanding each other’s lives and opinions? Why don’t we readily leap into a conversation willing to throw our own beliefs by the wayside and assume that we, ourselves, are just wrong? I believe it is fear which holds us back: Fear that if my way of doing and being isn’t the right way, then I must be wasting my time - and I know that I’m not wasting my time, right?
Fear tends to stifle and stagnate. It causes rifts in communication, it separates people from each other, and it stops or slows our ability to learn from each other, or to learn at all. Fear is the mind killer. Do not live in fear. And this is not to say “Be reckless and throw caution to the wind,” but understand and know, do not fear.
If you look into your fears and ask yourself what it is that truly has you so frightened, you may find that the answer is that the subject of your fear is something you don’t know much about, something that is uncertain, or something that you believe is threatening. Ask yourself, is it really threatening? Or is it that you perceive it as threatening? As I write this, I’m thinking of things that scare me: Death by drowning, spiders, alien abduction; silly things really, considering that there are more real fears staring me in the face every day: the fear of ridicule, fear of others viewing me in ways in which I had not wished them to view me or in ways that I don’t (or won’t) view myself, fear of being crazy, or of being called crazy (I don’t know which is worse). All of these things are more painful to the ego than a spider bite, and they're more likely than drowning or being plucked up by little grey men from outer space.
I think of fear of neighbors, for seeing their different skin color and not knowing their traditions or customs, and being too ashamed to ask. Working in an occult bookstore is a phenomenal way to meet a wealth of different people and their traditions. It is an opportunity that I’ve been very lucky to have been afforded not once, but twice in my life. I believe that it is communities like this which allow us to meet our neighbors, to put aside our fears of our differences and learn about them, to learn to appreciate and love them, and learn things which may inspire us or give us courage to branch out and try new things - like the courage to try sushi (and discovering a love for it) or to break open the Ars Goetia and summon a demonic spirit. We learn a lot from each other - and yes one of those was a very extreme example of sharing culture, but let’s face it, Sushi is worth a shot. It really is delicious, even if it sounds like you might not like it.
It is difficult to avoid trying to give any sort of definition for magic, because I end up talking very vaguely about things, or talking so specifically about things that you (the reader) may feel lost or excluded. This is exactly the issue with definitions of magic that I am addressing here. Magic is part of culture, it is part of how anyone does their doing and being, even if they don’t realize it or call it magic. Magic does not have to be any one thing, and it does not have to rely on religion to operate. It is innate and natural to our existence as people, but it is a myriad of languages of experience which we have not yet been able to bridge harmoniously. We make attempts to bridge things, to syncretize or blend traditions and faiths that seem compatible such as the Chakras and the colors of the spheres of the Kabbalistic tree of life as outlined above. Unfortunately, sometimes in doing this we find that things are less compatible than we expected, and we may end up throwing them out. I urge you, dear reader and magician, to be careful in making the distinction between something that does not work in your practice or belief, and something which does not work at all for anyone. You may find the former category more plentifully filled than the latter. It is fine, even healthy, to develop your own personal practice with things you learn (and by extension excluding other things you’ve learned), but it becomes dangerous very quickly when you try to impress your own ideas on others (and by extension, diminish their ideas, beliefs, or practices).
This is why this journal is not a journal about Thelema or Golden Dawn magic, and it is not a journal about Queer topics, or Root working and Hoodoo, or Reiki and Energy healing, or Art, or Film, or whatever. It isn’t even a journal about Alchemy because that would get very boring very quickly. This is a journal of everything and anything it needs to be, it is a journal of Humanity. This is the Hidden Stone, the intangible and ungraspable truth that may exist somewhere waiting to be discovered. This is the goal of philosophy: To distill what we can know about each other and ourselves so that we may learn more, and be better as a result. To break down and analyze in order to synthesize and create.
We are not here to rattle off our own definitions or knowledge and compete to find out who is right, no, in fact there is no competition here. If ever there appears to be Debate, I will strive to ensure that it becomes instead Discourse and Dialectic. We are here to help each other craft their own definition of magic, of what works for them, and to pursue their own work accordingly; whether that has anything to do with the occult and esoteric, or is something that on the surface seems more mundane like archaeology, but which when it is explored and probed reveals itself to be full of interesting lessons and inspiration. I urge you to share your knowledge with love, to leave fear at the door and embrace diversity and the different perspectives it can afford us.