On the Left Hand Path: An Interview with Occultist Don Webb

Author, magician and researcher Don Webb is well known in magical circles for his work with the Temple of Set. In this interview, Webb discusses levels of magical insight, the Left Hand Path and other topics of possible interest to some disinfonauts.

Aonie Anfa: Thank you for speaking with me. Your work could be
 considered some of the most foundational in the modern Left Hand Path, and
y our book Uncle Setnakt’s Guide To The Left Hand Path is lauded as
 a cornerstone resource in many LHP reading lists. What are your
 personal views and goals of the particular sort of Work you do?

Don Webb: First, let me thank you for your kind words. My writing is expressed in two main areas. I write fiction – science
 fiction, fantasy, horror and “experimental” writing – and I write
 nonfictional works of philosophy and magic. I also teach creative
 writing for UCLA Extension. Like most American writers, writing is 
not my day job. So I write at night, on the weekends, holidays. It 
becomes important to balance my time so that the goals of magic –
pleasure, power and knowledge are enjoyed. Spending time with my wife
 is (for example) much dearer to me than writing. So I have to focus 
my mind on writing almost all of the time, so that when I sit down to
 my keyboard I can always type out the first 500 to 600 words of the 
projects I am working on. This method has two advantages. Dr. 
Michael Aquino, my teacher’s teacher, argues that magic is the art of
 changing the subjective universe so that a proportional change will 
occur in the objective universe. By hanging on to my writing for
 several hours it becomes deeply imprinted in – it leads to permanent
 change in my psyche, which is difficult to accomplish in our 
distraction-filled world. Secondly this filters my life – or to put
 in more New Agey terminology – it sets up for synchronicities. Thus
 everything in my life seems to weave itself into my words, and this
 makes the world – even such trivial commonplaces as queuing up at a
 check-out lane or scanning Facebook – a source of meaningful 
occurrences. Writing can be a magical act of making the world into
 your muse. For awakened humans, magic can be defined as the art of
 managing synchronicities.

I am very excited by my new book, Overthrowing the Old Gods,
 coming from Inner Traditions in November. It holds my thoughts on the 
magical and philosophical world of Aleister Crowley. I placed Crowley
 in the context of the modern Western Left Hand Path. My friends who 
have read the book – both Thelemites and non-Thelemites have said they
 found fresh insight. Inner Traditions is a wonderful group of folk to
 work with – I hope I can have future volumes from them. I am selling 
a book of my Lovecraftian short fiction – a 30 year retrospective to 
Hippocampus Press. Through Dark Angles should out in fall or 
winter of 2014.I am working on a second horror collection as well 
certain magical works, but it is not yet to time to discuss these 
things. Of course there is always the ongoing work to be a better 
husband, son, friend.

AA: Can you talk a bit about the Order of Setne Khamuast? Egyptian and 
Mediterranean praxis that honors the source of a tradition as closely 
as possible can be sadly rare in the modern occult scene. How public
i s your Work, or is it strictly a behind-closed-doors scenario?

DW: In the sense of formal ritual magic, Setians only perform Workings
 among themselves. We try not to make magic into performance – and in
 an age where people post comments about their suppers, secrecy has
 power. In fact any consciously held secret will change the objective
u niverse. However, in another sense, since magic is a form of
 communication of any conscious speech act – such as this interview –
is a magical act. Whenever you cause the subjective universe of
 another to change – even if only to make her laugh – you are doing
 Magic. This is not a Hallmark cliché, although your less conscious
 readers will think so.

Why should a magicians try and change other’s subjective universes?
 It is not for the adolescent dreams you might have had for magic – it
will get you laid and the occasional extra dollar in your pocket.
 Although theses goals are obtainable, there is a much grander reason 
for magic. It is our best weapon against the forces of stupidity. If
 I can make one human look up from the next thing they are going to go
 deeper in debt over – I have won spiritual battle. I have gained
 power, and I have empowered those whom I love trust and respect.

Blessed is he that writes these Runes, blessed is she who reads them.

The Order of Setne Khamuast, of which I was Grandmaster until the
 recent Temple of Set Conclave in Providence this year, is devoted to
r etrieving the magical technologies of the Mediterranean world and 
re-adapting them to our world. In this I have followed the lead of my 
teacher, Dr. Stephen E. Flowers. Most magical groups like a 
subjective approach to the past – “I think this is how the Egyptians
 would have done this or maybe it was the Lemurians.” In the OSK, we
 use real research. We use primary and secondary sources – firstly
 because the effort to gain these sources strengthens the mind and the
 will, secondly because it links our pysches with the past – the 
magician must seek to cast himself further and further into the past, 
the present and the yet to be, thirdly the art of research leads to a
deep and powerful truth – the difference between inner mysteries (eg.
“Why do I love whom I love?”) and outer mysteries (“Why did the
 Egyptians write the name of Set in red ink?”) is an illusion. You
will find the mirror of your secret self in the places you must look
 the hardest to find – and you will find the answer to academic riddles
 within your black heart. To advance in the Order one must produce
 academically acceptable papers as well as spectacular magical
 workings. A few very respected journals have articles by my students
 in them. We will Open the Mouths of the Gods, much as Set did in the
 beginning of time.

Setne Khamuast was the fourth son of Ramses the Great, and the
 inventor of the library, the first Egyptologist – who researched
 Egyptian magic from a thousand years before his time and readapted the
 spells for current use.

AA: I notice in a few spiritual organizations and traditions, there 
seems to be, at times, a sort of viscious feeding frenzy that occurs
 when there is a sudden influx of new interest. How vital do you feel
t he integration of praxis/intellectual stimulation/compassion is and
 how do you feel we, as ethical practitioners, could best combat that?
 Also, what do you think is the most constructive way to offer peer
 support within and outside of tradition and philosophy?

DW: Humans are for the most part squirrels. They run off with new nuts and
 forget the ones that they have buried. If you want to make a real
 change in yourself, prolonged conscious work is needed. There is a 
rush when discovering new things – the whole occultnik industry is 
based on this. One week you’re awed at the Runes, the next week it’s
 the I-Ching, then the week after that it’s “Enochian Sex Magick.” Now
 that’s probably a harmless diversion as watching Star Trek – but it is 
not the royal road of becoming more than you seem. I don’t spend time 
trying to fight waves of fad-ism – in fact I would love it if my next 
book were a bestseller. I role model to the few who are drawn to my
 words and the importance of Will. Of course most humans won’t get it
– the cosmic ecology is based on the notion that most acorns rot – or
 wind up as squirrel food. There will only be a few trees. The trees’
 hard work does benefit humanity as a whole, but humanity seldom makes
 any but the smallest of steps forward.

AA: What basic scientific structure and critical rubric do you employ
 when examining research and work materials of past projects for
photographic or otherwise physical forms of manifestation? What do you
think qualifies photographic evidence of Work manifestation?

DW: Well artistic forms are easy – check out the video Lachusa Mundo 
and I did on YouTube. (insert
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaF7sMcwbVE)
As far as evidence of manifestation, what would I show? Being a 
college dropout, I could show the diploma I got at age 40, which was a
magical Working, but in what way would it look different than your 
diploma or any of your readers? I know that in this age of renewed
 Spiritism, there is an urge to show “evidence” of the world beyond –
much as was the fad during Victorian times. Evidence does not lie on 
the surfaces, but in the essence of things. You might hear of 
evidence of the Spirit – for example check out the late Frank Zappa’s
“G Spot Tornado”, or see evidence of the Spirit when looking at a
building designed by Gaudi. You might taste evidence of the spirit in
 your grandmother’s red velvet cake, or smell it in the frankincense 
burned during your rites. But the “proofs” of magic are methods of
 self-delusion – a way for humans to induce a deeper and more exotic
 Sleep in themselves, when they might have produced Wakefulness by
 turning their attention to what lies behind the phenomena, and
 ultimately turning the light back on themselves and asking “What part
 of me registers this miracle? What am I to know and need Wonder?”

AA: Synchronicity is a topic that I have noticed is recently gaining 
quite a bit of attention in LHP traditions, like the re-awakened Chaos
 groups,as well as what many consider high-level LHP organizations. By 
your personal cosmological standard, how big of a role do those
 amusing little coincidences and seemingly random events play?

DW: Synchronicity is an act of perception that uses the confluence of
 subjective and objective states to order the chaos of existence.
 Sadly, for most people it becomes merely a thrilling distraction.
 I’ll give an example of synchronicity that produces varying levels of 
energy and Intent.

Bill, on his way to work on an early winter morning, sees a brilliant
 shooting star in the sky. His sleeping wife Mary dreams of a meteor
 shower. Later in the day they both hear “Drops of Jupiter” by Train –
Bill on the radio on the drive home, Mary at work when her cubicle 
mate plays it. Let’s look at different levels of action that this can
 have:

Zero level – Both wage slaves, exhausted by work, do not share nor
 reflect on any part of their days after work. No gain – this is the 
level of most people. No synchronicity has occurred – no one heard the
 tree fall in the forest of Magic.

First Level – They both mention the occurrences and muse for an 
instant that there might be more to the world than meets the eye.
 Awareness drew near, but didn’t overtake them. These are people who
 have cool bumper stickers – they don’t do the Work, but often energize
 those that do.

Second Level – Both are very excited at the synchronicity. They’ve
 read books about the idea and can even say “Jung.” They derive joy 
from the incident, are sure there’s more to the world than meets the
 eye, and post it on their Facebook status. Awareness in a feeble
 state has entered their lives for a moment – if they are lucky they
 will use this energy to separate a little from the world-machine and
 become freer. Some of their energy may improve sacred places or bring
s some thoughtfulness to political decisions.

Third Level – They have a moment of true Awe. They compare their
 perceptions to the beings of Flatland that can observe a sphere 
passing through their dimension as a circle that grows then shrinks 
away. They realize that both their psyches have seen the edges of
 something bigger and stranger that is moving toward them. They decide
 to watch their lives carefully to See more. They admit that they 
don’t Know anything yet, but are filled with a long desire(aeonic
ref?) to Know. They keep the incident just between themselves for a
few days. They feel energized – and for reasons they don’t grasp now,
they become more deeply drawn to each other. In a few days they are
 able to make different subtle changes in their lives that lead to more
Joy and to seeing more of the Wyrd of the world. This is the level 
that the true magic of long desire begins.

I suspect there is a fourth level, but I have not been able to
 articulate it yet – but then I’ve been a practitioner for only thirty
 years. But perhaps one of your readers is Seeing it now.

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