grand canyon

Magic Is Hard (But Musicians Make It Look Easy)

By Andrew Choate
Photography (mostly) by Arnold Taylor

I love the Chicago jazz and improvised music scene. I feel like it deserves capital letters even: CJ&IM. I was a not insignificant part of it from 1994 – 2000, but I moved away and came back for my first retaste during this year's Umbrella Music Festival. Like an apricot smushed under a summer dress during picnic sex, I was gleefully overwhelmed.

The first day featured six sets of music – all for free – at the Chicago Cultural Center. Swiss doublebassist Christian Weber played in a quartet with Chicagoans Jeb Bishop (trombone), Caroline Davis (alto sax) and Tim Daisy (drums). What began in free jazz splatter migrated to syncopated tag as Daisy's rhythms became infectious and the band seemed to find that they were better collaborators when improvising in the hot oven of regular meters. Staccato attacks from the trombone and alto seared the ensemble together, and it was dazzling to hear what a bunch of improvisors who aren't afraid of exploring metrical expectations can generate when playing for the first time together. That's not an easy task, especially when the rhythm section is two strangers. When they slowed it down to more textural whippings across the large theater, it was clear that the quartet had truly become a single ensemble.

The second set placed Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnik alongside New York's Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet and Chicago's Jeff Parker on electric guitar. This band went through a wide range of pacings – from hyper to placid – and the result was a set that was soundtracky in the best sense: all three worked together to create a single mood at every moment. And just as quickly as they escaped one mood, they created another. The old hat-on-the-cornet trick lent promising style and suave languor to layers of prepared piano reverb and spacey fretboard slides. Slurry slap mouthpiece, string klink dash, wobbly wiggle twinkle. "Sit on my lap, consulate."

While the jazz press and its de facto gatekeepers swarming around Jazz at Lincoln Center continue to deny it, free improvisation has become THE international language of jazz – the only genre played everywhere. Polish saxophonist Mikolaj Trzaska drilled that point home to me while he played in a set with two of Chicago's finest, Michael Zerang on drums and percussion and Kent Kessler on doublebass. When I closed my eyes, I heard late 60s era Archie Shepp-like runs on the sax, and Vandermarkian forays into big, round swoops of sax sound.

mikolaj trzaska

Mikolaj Trzaska

Zerang had a sick solo too, with little percussion trinkets bobbling on drumhead skins and a seeming infinity of tonalities to play with the speed of, eventually slowing down and blasting bass drum thumps in synchronicity with stick pound strikes. The man is a percussion treasure the way some people are simply national ones.

I consider Paul Lovens the greatest living musician in the world because I have learned more about what music can be and do from listening to him. So it should come as no surprise that I was quite enthused to see him play a rare duet with longtime cohort Alexander von Schlippenbach (or "Shlippy" as all my American friends refer to him.) Music is supposedly time-based, but Lovens works like a sculptor: building level after level of sound: holding one cymbal with a certain pressure against the drumhead at a certain angle, grabbing another, trying different patterns of holding and hitting it on top of the other already-placed one, etc. The result is a construction of conglomerated rhythmic and tonal architecture just as much as it is swinging jazz. The interplay between these two was so easy and Shlippy's touch so light that it conjured fantasy childhoods of storybook rabbits and strolls on the farm with splashing milkpails. At one moment Lovens tapped the hi-hat a couple times with his index finger like a hepcat groovin to a song in his head, except Lovens was the one creating the irresistable groove. (Of course, Lovens' real funkiness appears in the way he makes silences groovy, so this makes perfect, albeit semi-backwards sense.) He snapped wood on wood like the crack of a whip, then made thunder break with a burst of cymbals until the sound was so loud it seemed like the sky itself was tumbling. The Macbeth-like drama is only reinforced by the emotional arc that Lovens' attitude to the drums traces during the course of a set: each time, it's the role of a lifetime. Two master improvisors whose US appearances are all too infrequent.

Zu is an Italian power trio of electric bass, baritone sax and drums that makes other trios that get tagged with the power moniker seem like cartoons in comparison. Live, they tend to play long medleys of tunes distinguished by changes in time signature that are so rapid and so constant and so odd that it almost seems comedic. But they're so loud, intense and genuinely funky that your body just says "Yes, this is how it should be." Luca Mai, the bari saxist, got some deeply unhuman sounds out of his sax, even when he just slapped the keys around: he had so much reverb and delay and who-knows-what-other effects on it that otherworldy voices rang throughout the large hall. And Massimo Puppilo, the bassist, wasn't afraid to hit a Jaco Pastorius 70s funk note at the end of a bar filled otherwise with metalhead riffs. He hit this same wah-inflected whole note at the end of each bar, about eight times in a row, and it sang out so clearly amidst the freneticism of all the shifting meters that it lit up the room like an angler fish attracting its prey only so it could devour it.

angler fish

The final set of this first festive day featured the longstanding Dutch trio Bik Bent Braam: Michiel Braam on piano, Wilbert de Joode on doublebass and Michael Vatcher on drums. Vatcher smiles while he plays more than any other improvisor I've seen, and it's no wonder why: this band is so damn tight and their music is so lovely. Whether he's swirling the back of his wrists on the heads of drums for extra softness, or pitter-pattering to accompany one of Bram's romps about the piano, Vatcher opens the door to music's charm and essential mystery. Even walkie-talkie communiqués from the event staff were happily incorprated into the mix: gotta love improv! This band has a playfulness of purpose, but a serious dedication to that action. The end of their set was marked by three minutes of soft, elongated chords from de Joode and Bram that were achingly tender.

The Chicago Cultural Center, and the six consulates involved in producing these six sets, deserve special praise. Unlike similar institutions in other comparably rich cities in America – wake up LA, DC, NYC! – the Chicago Cultural Center actively works with the international community of improvising musicians. It takes a lot of work to produce concerts of such high caliber, with musicians from all over the world, and to offer that to the public for free is a material example of what cultural exchange should be about. Kudos CCC.

Festivities on the second night took place at Fred Anderson's venerable Velvet Lounge, with a first set matching Chicago stalwarts Kent Kessler and Dave Rempis with Michael Vatcher. Free improv sets between folks who haven't played together as a group before usually tend to be one long 40 minute curlicue of ideas, but this trio played a bunch of short improvs, rarely going past the 5 minute mark. It was usually Vatcher's emphatic finality on the drums that ended a tune, and while some may have considered these decisions as heavy-handed or unnecessarily abrupt, acting decisively to frame the music in smaller segments made it possible to showcase the wider range of interactive styles that these musicians are capable of. It also kept everyone fully engaged, knowing that any lapse in attention could result in an immediate halt. Rempis alternated between tenor, baritone and alto saxes, blending his penchant for the rigors of late 60s hardbop melodicism with extended technique attacks. He can squeal and skronk for sure, but he uses those sounds more as punctuation to his flowing sequences of rhythmically intelligent melody. During one number, he went against the intricate rhythmic back and forth of bass and drums interplay and instead added a layer of robust long tones that by its very contrarianness amped up the intensity of everything, demonstrating once again that sometimes it's the indirect interactions in improv that form the richest depths of the music.

josh berman

Josh Berman

Josh Berman's Quintet was the first of several Chicago working groups to be featured in the fest, and the charts they played were executed with enthusiastic aplomb. This band taps into a kind of post-Blue Note sound – the current Blue Note roster being irrelevant at this point – that became acutely touching during several slow motifs. One tune was a wallop waltz: it started as a waltz, and then erupted – wallop. This is one of those bands that formed after I left Chicago, so most of these performers were new to me. Seeing them live, I discovered two things. The first is how entertained I am by semi-awkward gesticulations, like those exhibited by Jason Adasiewicz on vibes and Frank Rosaly on drums; I also particularly liked the way Berman holds his cornet in performance - pointing it up to the clouds and fluttering it about like a bird that's about to fly away. The second thing I noticed is that there are a lot of excellent jazz composers in this city, but sometimes their improvising muddies up the unique clarity and coherence of their compositional prowess. This issue isn't unique to this band or even this festival. Ken Vandermark (who unfortunately was out of town during this fest) is one of the greatest jazz composers of any generation, but his free improvising is still sometimes lacking in the combination of resourcefulness and decision-making that the greatest improvisors consistently display en route to crafting a piece of music. Likewise, Berman's band sounded better the closer they were to playing written material, and not because the improvs inbetween were so bad, it's just that the composition and execution of written material was so strong that the improvs sometimes sounded like filler.

A solo set in the US by Alexander von Schlippenbach is not anything to be taken lightly, and Shlippy's playing made sure no one did. He started by fingering the strings inside the piano, zoning the audience into the depths of the instrument, and then unfurled a 20 minute improvisation on the keys. It seems like the older the great pianists get (Monk, Taylor, Shlippy), the more they sing when they play, and I love it. After this long first foray, he announced that he'd like to play some Monk tunes if that would be OK, and then proceeded to play about four or five of them. I strongly support improvisors saying, in effect, "Monk is ours too", considering the vacuum of creative intelligence applied to reinterpretations of his music by the American jazz establishment. Shlippy took the tunes much farther out than he did on the recent Intakt box set of Monk's music, but they weren't just far out interpretations of the music: he demonstrated really unusual understandings of them. Like a swarm of bees around your head but only rarely stinging, you knew what was happening, but the moments of recognition and fulfillment were all the more thrilling for being so occassional.

The real highlight of this set, and possibly the entire festival, occurred after he finished with the Monk stuff. He started bouncing all of his fingers very swiftly off the very low end of the keyboard, and the tamber was so immediately unique that it was apparent within three seconds that something special had been tapped into. The fact that he continued to investigate this rapid succession of notes for many more minutes just increased the bewilderment and tension involved in this creation. Psychedelic is the best way to describe the swirling patterns he explored. It was full of so many overtones arching across one another that listening to it was like getting hit on the funny bone – but the funny bone this time was the skull. Now I truly know what it means to be mesmerized, because I've never been hit by music the way that hit me – not in my heart, brain, blood or skin. I completely lost track of time listening to this piece, but the fact that he gave it a solid duration was important: the alternating speeds of his fingers gliding off the patterns he was playing took a while to be absorbed by the various mechanisms involved in the listening experience – mind, ears, nervous system, etc. An encore of slight but deft left hand twirls and hops finished the night on a much more human, earthbound plane.

The third night of the fest moved to Elastic and started off with visiting Austian pianist Elisabeth Harnik, Chicago doublebassist Jason Roebke, and former Chicagoan (now New York-based) reedist Matt Bauder.

elisabeth harnikHarnik superprepared the piano, with stuff sticking up in the air all over the place, and got into some nice rubbing of these perpendicular pieces at one point that gave a sweet, thin howl to the improv. Unlike a lot of prepared piano playing folks, she didn't sound like she was discovering new sounds so much as permutating how different ones she already knew could go together with the proceedings around her, and like her set on Thursday, she was extraordinarily adept at fitting in with her newfound collaborators. The second piece the ensemble played was anchored by dramatic scrapes and pounds with Bauder playing superb barely-notes on clarinet. During a beefy circular-breath-fed tenor solo that brought the entire room to a standstill of enthralled silence, Harnik eventually held down the pedals on the piano, achieving triumphal resonance of the ethereal tones Bauder blew. Bauder also demonstrated a lot of variety with soft sound attacks on sax, evoking windswept reed whistles and late-nite tiptoeing, to which Harnik added nails across piano keys without depressing any of them, creating a wonderfully delicate balancing act. The interactions between Bauder and Harnik were so consuming that Roebke's contributions got a little lost in the shuffle, though he never did anything distracting and fulfilled an important role of accompanying the newfound mutuality on display.

For the first appearance by the featured artist of this festival, the legendary John Tchicai did a solo set on alto and tenor saxes. He didn't do anything technically devastating, but but he got so much breath through each note he played that it felt like he was bending time, or at least the experience of time, in our favor. His sound arrived so basic and so human that it led me to contemplate the entire act of music-making: what does it mean to put an instrument up against your body, and to use it to make sounds from inside you? It didn't seem like just music that was coming out of his saxophone, but his whole being taking shape through the interaction of him and the sax. It was the kind of upper level communication that Anthony Braxton talks about music being uniquely capable of (not that other mediums don't have their unique capabilities, but this one is music's.) This wasn't the same kind of affect that Schlippenbach had the night before – that was magical transfiguration. Tchicai's was an outpouring of not just communication but unfiltered being. Paradoxically, this pure being was only made possible through the application of an external instrument to the body. Thank you saxophone.

I had reservations about the last set of the evening, the Bik Bent Braam trio playing in a big band that recruited ten local folks. These guys have their own thirteen piece band in Holland that has been playing the music for over a decade, and I didn't think the Chicago folks, given limited rehearsal time, would be able to match the all-engaging proficiency and rambunctiousness documented on their CD Extremen. Holy shit, was I in for a surprise. This was probably the must ruckus, all-out-fun set of the fest: a glorious stampede of music. First, the lineup:

  • Michiel Braam - Piano
  • Wilbert de Joode - Bass
  • Michael Vatcher - Drums
  • Jaimie Branch - Trumpet
  • James Davis - Trumpet
  • Jeb Bishop - Trombone
  • Nick Broste - Trombone
  • James Falzone - Clarinet
  • Jason Stein - Bass Clarinet
  • Dave McDonnell - Alto Saxophone
  • Keefe Jackson - Tenor Saxophone
  • Tim Haldeman - Tenor Saxophone
  • Dave Rempis - Tenor/Baritone Saxophone

What was most unanticipated is just how tight this ensemble sounded, navigating charts they had only recently been handed and compositional strategies completely unique to the workings of Bik Bent Braam. The three Dutch members seemed to thrive on the chaos of playing with unpredictable, semi-unknown musicians, pushing themselves to the brink as they trusted the other instrumentalists and themselves to figure out a way to make it all work while already going. And the compositions they played weren't short: each of the three was probably 20 minutes long. This band felt so complete that individual contributions weren't the focus: the total sound was the thing. And it was swinging. Not polite swinging, but huge, blasting swinging. The kind of shit that you put on at half past 3 AM, and even though your lover is trying to sleep in the next room and has already asked you to turn it down several times, you keep inching the volume back up because you just can't get enough of it inside you. Ferocious. 10 of the most highly paid studio musicians in New York or LA would sound like an oil spill compared to the immaculate, voracious dedication these Chicagoans displayed. Every section of the band, when spotlighted, as each were, shone brilliantly. During one section with a raunchy cabaret vibe, slight sticktaps from Vatcher and a double trombone bellow from Bishop and Broste made the audience gasp, audibly. Each musician contributed integrally to the success of this band, but I have to single out Tim Haldeman on tenor saxophone for playing understated but so overwhelmingly honest, personal and unique. In a context that stressed composition and improvisation equally, it was amazing what the combination of skill at reading music and traditional techniques could accomplish: music that was both intuitively accessible and out-of-this-worldly imaginative.

The sold out gigs at the Hideout on Saturday started with a free improv set pairing two European visitors who hadn't played together before – Mikolaj Trzaska on reeds and Christian Weber on doublebass – with two New Yorkers who frequently collaborate: Evan O'Reilly on guitar and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Knowing Weber from his recorded work before the fest, I was a little disapointed in the groupings he was placed in: they seemed to push him into a jugular-scraping boisterousness that his music doesn't typically engage in. Amid the gangplank dashes and launching pad shouts in this set, he appeared to tread water, waiting for something subtler to come along. A duet with O'Reilly's guitar inspired a nice cosmic frolic, but for the most part this set was dominated by criss-crossing energies attempting to intersect, but rarely doing so.

john tchaicai and hamid drake

John Tchaicai & Hamid Drake

The duet between John Tchicai and Hamid Drake attracted a large, energetic crowd. Stitched-together seashells rolling on Drake's drumheads coalesced with glossolalic scatting from Tchicai, forming an entrancing reverie. His moonhaunted flute paired with Drake on a large frame drum conjured more and more spirits as the patterns that each were playing became more and more intertwined. Drake rocked back and forth with the drum in his lap, the resonance of the skin trembling from the percusive contact with his hand and dopplering in towards the microphone in front of him. Tchicai also lead the audience in a scat-like call and response, further deepening the ceremonial feel of this set. The rite of Afrodisiaca was fulfilled by the usually taciturn Drake saluting Tchicai onstage as "one of the first illuminative musicians [he heard] playing creative music on record."

Douglas Ewart's Inventions ensemble capped off the evening with a look at some of the faces in the current incarnation of the Chicago AACM chapter:

  • Douglas Ewart - Reeds
  • Ed Wilkerson, Jr. - Reeds
  • Mwata Bowden - Reeds
  • Jeff Parker - Guitar
  • Darius Savage - Bass
  • Dushun Mosley - Drums
  • Dee Alexander - Vocals

Their first tune got off to an awkward start, with Dee Alexander melancholically imploring the audience to "keep your plastics over there" in a tone that was so distraught that it sounded like it was trying to draw a parallel between the segregation of races in pre-1964 USA and the segregation of consumer products that recyclers endorse today. After the tune ended, Ewart made an impassioned plea for environmentalism – riding bikes, shopping for groceries with cloth bags, etc. – and I realized that I misunderstood the plaintive cries since it was actually a pro-environmental song. But it was delivered like such a sad memorial that the message was conflicted. Luckily, the rest of the set featured ebullient music-making that couldn't be taken for anything else. The saxophone playing by Mwata Bowden and Ed Wilkerson, Jr. was exceptionally compelling, as they were required to vary their approach from droning to bop to free improv madness. Ewart got down on a weird, electronic-speaking baby toy that made "mwah-mwah" and "dah-dah" sounds amid others, and the band backed him up with a heavy funk beat by Mosley and Savage. This was one of the oddest improvs I've heard in a while, as it continued to unfold with Ewart feverishly investigating the intricacies of this toy, and the band following every step with a tension-filled acceleration of accompanying ideas. A triple didgeridoo fantasia in the middle of the set brought the low end up close. Ewart played a two-part modular didg that he could slide like a trombone, and his virtuosic control of that instrument reminded me of a duet I saw him and George Lewis play many years ago in Hyde Park: it's clear that he takes the unique overlapping of harmonics made possible by the didgeridoo as seriously as he takes the capabilities of any of the instruments he plays. Alexander's watery war blues near the end of the set reached a beautiful crescendo with Bowden on baritone sax as Alexander stuck her teeth out and added a superthroaty spree of stretched-out enunciations.

At the Hungry Brain another local working group kicked off the final night of the festival: Jim Baker on synth and piano, Steve Hunt on drums, Brian Sandstrom on guitar and Mars Williams on reeds. These guys have been playing improvised music together in various combinations for decades. This set had a temperateness to it that is unusal for these four: they usually whip it out, no holds barred, and feel free to build and fall apart or try to ram into each other and zip by. But they felt a little reserved, with a not-stepping-on-toesness that I didn't expect. There was one section of the improv that could've burned through the skin of an elephant intestine though. Sandstrom added some superfuzz to his guitar that kicked everyone into another gear: Baker went rampant with arcade blips on his Arp, Hunt slammed his drumheads like he was flattening ping-pong balls and Williams wailed on some choice notes. It sounded like guys playing a heavy metal dirge suddenly discovered a new way to blow the minds of their fanbase. Baker's brilliance was on full display from that moment on, demonstrating the full range of musical quirkiness that this master stylist is known for.

mary halvorson and taylor ho bynum

Mary Halvorson & Taylor Ho Bynum

A six-piece band led by flugelhornist and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum again exhibited some of the great composing being done by a younger generation of American jazz musicians. A long piece was bookended by solo guitar strums from Evan O'Reilly to begin and dangled plectrum plinks from Mary Halvorson to finish: an inviting and satisfying structural symmetry. Bynum's cornet and Nicole Mitchell's flute blended superbly, becoming downright intimate the softer and gentler they played, a nice departure from the more common template of proving onstage connectedness by blowing hard back and forth. In that context, I found Tomas Fujiwara's super-bangy drum solo tiring, but later in the set he laid down a nuanced and solid rhythm that prompted the best playing I heard from O'Reilly in this fest. He carved deluxe chords that, together with the drums, served as a firm foundation for free soloing from the wind instruments. On saxophone, Matt Bauder even began veering towards structured playing in his solo, the pull was so strong. This band navigated the sometimes rough terrain between composition and improvisation with inspired intelligence.

The final set of this fantastic festival featured John Tchicai leading a septet. While I was certainly eager to hear Tchicai in another group, I was equally excited about the opportunity to hear trumpeter Jaimie Branch again, whose contributions to the Bik Bent Braam big band on Friday ran the gamut from breathy Dörner-like wisps to needle-sharp pitches perfectly placed.

jaimie branch

Jaimie Branch

Neither dissapointed as they were joined by Josh Abrams on doublebass, Mike Reed on drums and Aaron Getsug on baritone sax, with Mitchell and Halvorson contributing flute and guitar as they did in the previous set. I hadn't heard Reed before, but his sense of timing deeply impressed me, as he and Abrams were responsible for anchoring what was essentially a huge, funked-out vamp. It harkened back to some of those side-long Julius Hemphill/ Human Arts Ensemble style jams that Arista released in the 70s, and I love that stuff. The bari sax makes a great funk instrument, yet the doubling up of Mitchell's flute with Tchicai's bamboo one gave even the heavy groove that was going on a light air. While Halvorson's guitar is electric, she plays it in such a way that you always hear the guitar, and the essential qualities of a guitar, not the amplifier, even when she gets fiery. The headshaking bouyancy of this set brought the festival to a fitting climax.

sexy wood


Umbrella Music and Emerging Improvisors host weekly gigs at the Hideout, Elastic and the Hungry Brain. Swallow.

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Magic(k) In The Streets

An Open Invocation By The Center For Tactical Magic
Originally Published In Arthur Magazine No. 31 (Oct 2008)

nebulan horror

"Magic(k) works." This declarative statement was recently hurled in our direction with a cautionary tone rather than a celebratory one. The sender of the warning was concerned that we didn't take magic(k) seriously enough; that we were advocating its use willy-nilly like some sort of fun, new fad. But fear not. Although we don't believe that fun and magic(k) are at odds with one another, we are nonetheless advocating its use very pointedly and with much consideration. And we are advocating its use precisely because it works.

As we've said in the past, one of the primary reasons why people don't engage in magic(k) in the first place is out of a sense of dismissal. They dismiss magic(k) because they doubt it will produce results; and, they dismiss magic(k) because they fear it will produce results. Indeed, much of the bullshit that fertilizes the grand magic garden reeks of these airs of dismissal. Occult conspiracy theorists will even tell you that such bullshit is built up to protect the fruit from those who would dare set foot in the garden at all. Layers and layers of foul fluff and rotten rhetoric are woven into a formidable pile of vapid New Age-isms, Hollywood cheese, religious warnings, and occult elitism.

In theatrical magic, conjurers also get accused of elitism. After all, their obstinence in maintaining the core of the magician's code (i.e., never reveal how a trick is performed) is legendary. And with good reasons. First and foremost, the revelation of a magician's method often reduces an amazing magical effect to mere trickery. The mysterious experience that the magician worked so hard to create is now lost amidst a less profound experience of mere puzzle-solving. Secondly, the trick is not the trick. The presentation is what brings about a convincing illusion. While the solution to a trick might involve a sleight, a gimmick, or smoke and mirrors, hours and hours of practice go into performing a successful magic presentation. And it is this intangible aspect of a magician's performance that goes unappreciated when a magician simply reveals the secret to a trick. And lastly, livelihood becomes a factor. An illusionist who reveals all of her secrets not only sabotages her own career but her colleagues' as well.

Within occult magic(k) there is also often a code of secrecy, but for varying reasons. Like the theatrical magicians, their ritualistic counterparts have also placed a high priority on survival. The historical oppression, repression, and suppression of ritual magick, alchemy, herbalism, divination, and the like (even conjuring & juggling!) provide ample argument for maintaining a low profile. The Inquisition, along with a broad geographical spread of witch trials throughout the past five centuries, may seem like ancient history. But even less than 100 years ago, all but a few occult organizations in Germany felt the Nazi boot upon their throats shortly after it kicked down their doors.

Although the Nazis often get linked to the occult in various ways, much of the supporting research simultaneously tends to consolidate a broad range of magical practices, groups, and societies into one condensed notion of the Occult (with a capital "O"). This broadly painted Occult is then demonized via its association with Nazism in much the same way that it commonly gets demonized through an association with Satanism. Again, we see another layer of shit in the magic garden that serves to frighten away those who might mistake the fruit for the feces. For those of you who do not scare so easily and still prefer not to swallow a bunch of crap, hopefully we can agree that not all magic(k) is evil and move forward.

Magicians on both ends of the magic(k) spectrum (from theatrical magic to high ritual magick) will often insist that sifting through the shit is part of one's initiation. And within that initiation comes a whole host of pitfalls, obstacles, failings, and revelations that help build the fortitude and character of a magic(k) practitioner. Along the way, the neophyte magician also builds a repertoire of useful skills and proclivities, which some observers choose to label either "black" or "white."

In theatrical magic, conjurers seldom make such a distinction, but when they do it frequently refers to a magician who has performed a particularly dishonorable act. For instance, he's used his talents to commit a crime such as fraud or pick-pocketing. Alternatively, he may have used his abilities solely for personal aggrandizement rather than to amaze and entertain the audience. In such instances, he may even perform tricks that inflate his ego by belittling others who have generously volunteered to unwittingly assist in their own public humiliation. Or finally, the magician may get accused of practicing "black magic" for simply taking insights and secrets from other entertainers without sharing any of his own in return. To some degree, such values as consideration, selflessness, humility, responsibility, and reciprocity parallel occult distinctions between so-called "black" and "white" magic(k).

Ignoring for a moment the colonial (and even outright racist) connotations associated with the black/white magic(k) dichotomy, we are still left to wrestle with notions of good and evil. Part of the problem lies with the fact that one witch's wickedness might very well be another magician's miracle. For example, some make the black/white distinction by asserting that white magic(k) helps others, while black magic(k) is used for personal gain. By this standard we might be led to conclude that a health spell cast for oneself is "black" while the same spell cast for another is "white." Accordingly, one might assume that a relaxing homemade potion brewed from catnip, chamomile, and valerian (or water, malted barley, and yeast, for that matter) would amount to black magic(k), while a pro-bono astral hit-job qualifies as white magic(k). Some will attempt to account for this moral paradox by insisting that white magic(k) hurts no one while black magic(k) causes harm to another. However, we are then left with the counterintuitive conclusion that any act of self-defense (or even selfless defense) is ultimately an act of black magic(k). This begs the all-too-predictable ethical questions, "If an act of black magic(k) is used to prevent a greater act of black magic(k) from harming others, is it acceptable? Does it make the first act an act of white magic(k)? Do the ends justify the magic(k)?"

If we choose to stay in the Magical Ethics 101 class, we'll soon be so juiced up on post-post-modern moral relativism that we will begin asking questions like, "If a witch casts a spell in the forest and nobody's there to feel it, does it really make a metaphysical reverberation?" So let's skip class and head for the streets.

The streets are an excellent place for applied magic(k). Yet, over the past eight years, the streets have largely been occupied by the vehicular harbingers of the 21st Century's two great rallying cries: "Oil War!" and "Global Warming!" Seldom has the sea of motors parted to make way for an active, organized, and empowered citizenry to march their demands for social justice into reality. Certainly this century has seen some righteous moments: in 2006, half a million people marched in LA for immigration rights; and in March of 2003 the world witnessed the largest protest in history with more than 10 million people demonstrating around the globe against the war in Iraq. But these two events—along with a scattering of marches in a few major metropolises—hardly constitute a movement that can be lauded for its efficacy in bringing about positive social change. On the contrary, the annual rally on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion has all but become a holiday. We may as well call it "Free Speech Day"—the one day out of the year when we can gather in public space (providing you have the proper permits) and decry the injustices of a blatantly criminal government. In addition to all of the Free Speech Day sales, and low-interest car loans, there may even be some news coverage.

Even a little news coverage would be more than the zero news coverage of the recent protests in Minneapolis/Saint Paul surrounding the Republican National Convention. "What protests?" you ask. "Rubber bullets? Tear Gas? National Guard? And not even a mention in the news?"
Exactly. Perhaps part of the reason that you didn't hear much about the protests is because large groups of activists were raided in their homes, rounded up, arrested, and charged with "felony conspiracy to riot" even before the protests really kicked into gear. In fact, some protest support groups such as medics, legal observers, and documentarians were placed under house arrest or chased from one place to another by local police. Even Amy Goodman from Pacifica Radio’s "Democracy Now" ended up getting arrested for asking the cops questions. And still no significant media coverage.

It's precisely this sort of secretive clampdown that shadows the pages of history books. While the clandestine magic(k) of secret societies may have honorable motivations, what we are confronting instead is the vulgar manifestation of a society of secrets. Perhaps the dismissive tendencies that so often surround magic(k) have also tainted our present attitudes towards achieving social justice: we fear that our actions will have no effect; yet, we fear the effects of our actions. In the end, we are paralyzed by fear and fail to act at all. This is exactly the spellbinding effect that such intimidation hopes to achieve. And those who would warn against taking action for fear of consequences or results are already caught in their snare. After all, there are consequences tied to spectating just as there are consequences tied to acting.

By choosing not to act you are making a willful decision to let others determine the outcome.

Although the Center for Tactical Magic doesn't generally buy into the black/white magic(k) dualism, there's no denying that there's some pretty grim mojo bubbling away out there. On the brighter side, we can use their crap to make the garden grow. And considering how much shit is getting shoveled these days, there ought to be enough fruit to go around for anyone who's not afraid to get their hands a little dirty. By planting some magic(k) seeds we might end up with thorns, or berries, or both. However, if we don't sow the seeds, the weeds take over. And history has shown us what that looks like.

Comparing our present times with those of Nazi Germany, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Spanish Inquisition may seem overly-theatrical, but it's our sincere hope that the stage is set for a great transformation rather than a vanishing act. Either way, the show will go on, and there seems to be little room left for spectators in this theater of conflict. And so we refute the notion that what we are calling for is some sort of magical moral relativism. Because what we are truly calling forth is nothing short of the complete and irrevocable unleashing of the creative and prophetic power of the multitude. Why? Because it works. And because we can have fun doing it.

The Center for Tactical Magic engages in extensive research, development, and deployment of the pragmatic system known as Tactical Magic. A fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator, Tactical Magic is an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts. At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.

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The Wizard of Lies

By Frater Chelvis 3°, M.M. "Solve et Coagula"
On behalf of the Absolute Concentration and Ultraplex organizations.


In Cairo in the spring of 1904, the legendary English wizard Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast 666, went through the most profound and bizarre experience of his life. Over a series of days Crowley believed that he was in contact a powerful disembodied alien entity calling itself Aiwass, which went on to dictate to Crowley what would become The Book of The Law, the founding document of the Crowley's new religion, Thelema [1]. There was no physical evidence of Aiwass, but then again there never really seems to be objective evidence when prophets take dictation from their celestial muses.

Decades later, in Texas, another profoundly bizarre incident happened to Kerry Thornley, aka Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (one of the authors of Principia Discordia, a founding document of the farcical philosophical system of Discordianism). Thornley's apartment was broken into and various writings were stolen. However, Thornley - who had served in the same radar unit as Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines in1959, and who had testified before the Warren Commission after the assassination of JFK - suspected sinister connections behind the break-in. He would later suspect the CIA, the FBI, the Italian mafia, and eventually himself of perpetrating the break-in, eventually believe that he was the victim of a secret U.S. government brainwashing program called MK Ultra, and finally convince himself that he, and not Oswald, had in fact assassinated JFK.

Not long after Thornley's episode of extreme paranoia - a type of radical break, where one’s conventional view of the world gives way to a supremely more sinister one - the novelist, occultist and self-styled radical ontologist Robert Anton Wilson came to believe, like Crowley, that he was in telepathic contact with an alien intelligence, this time based in the distant star system Sirius. As unsettling as the experience was, he later put it in perspective by postulating that it wasn't a telepathic entity from Sirius at all, but perhaps merely a subconscious part of his brain giving the illusion of such. Or perhaps, he went on, it was a super-advanced computer in the 23rd century sending messages backward in time for him to receive. [2]

The science fiction author Philip K Dick experienced a remarkably similar experience to Wilson's from March to April of 1974, believing himself to be in communication with an extraterrestrial presence - a disembodied mind which he alternately called Elijah or Ruah or Valis, which he described as "a furious, pulsing mind” at the center of the galaxy. In 1971, Dick's house had been broken into (like Thornley’s), the perpetrators leaving “file cabinets blown up, windows and doors smashed, and personal and financial papers stolen". Dick suspected a number of culprits behind the act, including "government agents, religious fanatics, Black Panthers, himself." [3] The break-in and the celestial visions were to preoccupy Dick for the rest of his life, with him believing he lead a double life, and that the world we all see is, in fact, a ‘black iron prison’, the walls of which are invisible and eternal.

These radical recontextualizations, the breaking-down and breaking-through of worldviews - the dismissing of everything you believe to be fact about the world and replacing it with a new and sinister reinterpretation - are episodes of what Robert Anton Wilson called Chapel Perilous - a type of experiential vertigo where everything is thrown into question. Spend enough time contemplating the possibility and evidence for a shadowy cabal of international financiers and warlords with secret knowledge colloquially called 'The Illuminati', and you are in Chapel Perilous. Ruminate on David Icke's insistence that a secret royal bloodline stretching back through history is in charge of the world's governments and royal families, and what's more - can change shape because they are trans-dimensional shape-shifting lizards - and you're back in Chapel Perilous. Listen to David Shayler, Alex Jones and others who insist the both 9/11 and 7/7 were orchestrated events by western governments as 'false-flags' to convince the masses of the need to restrict ancient civil rights and institute an Orwellian world government, and once again, you're in Chapel Perilous. Chapel Perilous is the mental state where everything you thought you knew is revealed to be wrong, where sinister connections link the world in horrifying new ways, where your understanding of the world is replaced with a new, sinister and monolithic truth - perhaps known only to you and other 'initiates' of an esoteric revelation.

chapel perilous

How do you exit Chapel Perilous? No one knows. Perhaps whole civilizations live and thrive under orthodoxies which others consider to be ludicrous. Incidentally, David Shayler now believes that he is the Messiah, or 'a' Messiah. (There exists a chance he will somehow read this and denounce me as a puppet of The Illuminati, or even question whether I am a single person and not a shadowy group orchestrating his downfall with propaganda.)

What connects Crowley’s, Thornley’s, Wilson’s and Dick’s experiences is not whether they were objectively true, or even that they were supremely weird, but that they were perceived to be true by those experiencing them. We cannot know what is objectively true. Let me repeat that for the materialists out there, those brought up in the western, scientific world of physics and math and test tubes. We cannot know what is objectively true, we can only know what we perceive, and it is hubris to elevate our personal perceptions and facts into universal truths or laws. This rudimentary insight is worth exploring; what I perceive is different from what you perceive. Two people looking at the same mirror from different angles are looking at both the same thing, and at different things. How can this be? Because there is no single 'thing' to look at, there is only an impression of phenomena to be perceived and thought about - what Bertrand Russell would call 'sense-data' – the apple which seems orange-reddish and heavy to you but is brown-reddish and light to me. This inconstancy and variability of impressions was what spurred René Descartes, the father of modern western philosophy, into his own Chapel Perilous when confronting the possibility that all sense-data he perceived could be the work of an ‘evil demon’; he could not deny that all that he saw and felt might merely be the work of an actual evil demon producing phantasms of sense-data for his brain to perceive or apprehend. The threat of Chapel Perilous underlies all of modern western philosophy, and standing at the gates of Chapel Perilous and understanding its implications requires realizing that our worlds are molded by our minds - realizing that there is no underlying world we can experience directly, and reacting to the sense-data we do get from the world while aware of its fallibility.

What does this have to do with Magick? Everything, because I believe what explains the experiences of Crowley, Thornley, Wilson and Dick (all profoundly creative individuals) is that they were inadvertently performing magick on themselves with such power and efficacy that the magick disguised itself to the very magicians. And how?

Today's preeminent wizard is perhaps Alan Moore. Many will know him as a novelist and comic book author, the creator of From Hell and Watchmen. Besides being one of the most transcendently gifted and visionary story tellers and creators of the last half-century or so, he is also the only living person who worships (or maybe only says he worships) a second century roman snake-god, Glycon. According to Moore (who’s aware of both Crowley's and Wilson's work and esoteric pursuits), magick absolutely exists, and is ubiquitous:

There is some confusion as to what Magick actually is… Magick in its earliest form is often referred to as ‘The Art’. I believe that this is completely literal. I believe that Magick IS art, and that art, whether that be writing, music, sculpture or any other form, is literally Magick. Art is, like Magick, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness. The very language of Magick seems to be talking as much about writing or art as it is about supernatural events. A Grimoire for example, the book of spells, is simply a fancy way of saying grammar; indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people’s consciousness, and I believe that this is why an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world that you are likely to see to a shaman. I believe that all ‘culture’ must have arisen from ‘cult’. Originally, all of the facets of our culture - whether they be in the arts or the sciences - were the province of the shaman. The fact that in present times this magickal power has degenerated to the level of cheap entertainment and manipulation is, I think, a tragedy. At the moment, the people who are using shamanism and magick to shape our culture are advertisers. Rather than trying to wake people up, their shamanism is used as an opiate to tranquilize people, to make people more manipulible. Their magick box of television, and by their magick words - their jingles - can cause everybody in the country to be thinking the same words, and have the same banal thoughts at exactly the same moment. [4]

For Moore, writing and (more broadly) art is a transformative process that can change people’s consciousnesses, and it is the job of artists to give the audience what they need rather than what they think they want. Art and Magick are interchangeable. If you doubt it, notice how enraptured an audience is before a great performance, or tell a story to a child who has not yet lost their sense of wonder and amazement. They are literally spellbound. Their minds are being directed to think in new and perhaps magickal ways. Advertisers create needs previously missing in people, politicians mesmerize and whip people’s passions into nationalistic frenzies. The magickal artist reshapes minds to understand reality in new ways, altering their world by altering their mind’s view of both the world and of themselves. This is as real a magick as anything could possibly be.

In shaping and re-shaping your own reality - both consciously as you chose what ideology you subscribe to (even that most devious, transparent and smug ideology of ‘no ideology’, based on supposed 'empirical fact' and 'scientific truth'), and subconsciously as the organs of your sense-impressions relate their findings of the world around you (just as Descartes' sense organs continued to report to him even after he doubted their veracity), your own mind is the conjurer which creates the falsehoods and fairytales about your own life, and of the world you live in. You are the wizard of lies, the embellishing storyteller, enchanting others, enchanting yourself, and being enchanted by others to such an extent that you are not even aware of all the spells cast on you by others and society, or those you cast on others, or those you cast on yourself. Maybe reality exists, but it is unknowable to you and I, and the world you live in is perhaps radically different from the world I live in, separated by a perhaps un-crossable chasm of thought and worldview and ideology and ontology, and each man is an island - but art is the most powerful wizardry.

1. The Book of the Law, Weiser Books, Boston MA, 1976.
2. Cosmic Trigger Volume 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati, Robert Anton Wilson, New Falcon Publications, Tempe AZ, 1977.
3. Four Novels of the 1960s by Philip K Dick, pg. 810 'Note on the Text'., edited by Jonathan Lethem, Library of America, New York, NY, 2007.
4. The Mindscape of Alan Moore [film], Shadowsnake Films, 2003.

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What Is Magick?

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Beat Your Friends!

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Do You Believe?

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You Have To Believe

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Magic Bus

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Magic Man

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Magic Johnson

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Lucifer Rising

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Time Line Anomaly At The Magic Castle

Researched & Written By Starfire Tor

magic castle

On Saturday, July 15, 2006, Anne and Whitley Strieber and I went to see Brandon Scott perform at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. The Striebers were in town on business, with a busy schedule that involves the August release of Whitley's new book "The Grays". So it was great to get together for some social time, a little story swapping, and having great fun at Brandon's quantum themed magic show.

Something exciting and mind boggling happened on this night, and it had nothing to do with a planned act of stage magic or stage illusion. We experienced what I will call a time line anomaly at the Magic Castle. Anne Strieber has written up the experience in her 'Diary' section on Unknown Country, and this is my contribution to describing and researching the time line anomaly we experienced.

The Magic Castle is a Victorian mansion and private club that houses the Academy of Magical Arts, where top notch stage magicians and illusionists perform. The mansion has three stories and a basement, with almost every inch of it is either decorated with memorabilia, or rigged to amuse and amaze club members and their guests. There are portrait paintings with eyes that follow you, a telephone booth where a skeleton appears in the glass, a table where your drinks revolve, and a piano played by a fake ghost named Irma.

The point about the Magic Castle is, the place is geared toward creating illusion and not genuine paranormal experiences. When paranormal phenomena does happen, it takes an extra research effort to determine whether the experience was genuine or an illusion, courtesy of the Magic Castle. To determine the authenticity of the time line anomaly we experienced, it was necessary to not only reenact the experience and interview witnesses, but to study the architectural history of the Magic Castle itself. The time line anomaly itself is simple to describe, but it is not so simple to understand the how and why.

Anne, Whitley, Brandon, and I had dinner at the Magic Castle before Brandon's show. Brandon had arranged for us to get VIP seating, which meant we needed to be in front of the Parlor stage door at a certain time. Since it was a good idea to use the restroom facilities beforehand, we timed ourselves with that in mind.

Brandon had already left to prepare for his show, when Anne, Whitley, and I left the dining room in search of the restrooms. Nearby, the men's restroom was at the top of the staircase on the same floor as the dining room, and the ladies restroom was at the bottom of the staircase on the same floor as the Parlor. Anne and I entered the small ladies room, which was only big enough for two stalls and two side-by-side sinks. There was no room for furniture, and only one door in and out. The walls and stalls were covered with a collage of old time magazine ads.

When Anne and I entered the ladies room, we immediately saw that no one else was inside. We checked the two stalls, remarked that they were empty, and went in each to her own. Anne left first and said she would be right outside. I replied that I was only a moment behind her. I heard Anne leave. The door was only a few feet away from the stalls, basically the length of two sinks, so anyone coming or going was audible from inside the stall. Moments after Anne left, I exited the stall and made a left turn for the sink to wash my hands. That's when I nearly collided with a woman. How it was that this happened I didn't know, because I apparently didn't hear or see her enter. My attention was more on the fact that I had almost crashed into the woman, and that made me feel a little embarrassed about how I could be so careless and clumsy. Whatever had brought this woman into the ladies room I didn't know, because she immediately left by the door without having done anything that I was aware of. My moment of curiosity was over in seconds, and I soon put it out of my mind as I opened the ladies room door to leave.

pegasus warrior

Anne Strieber quickly approached me and said with some excitement "A woman came out of the ladies room but she didn't go in!". I asked her to repeat that, and she did. I asked her several questions, as well as the two of us doing a reenactment, and I was satisfied that Anne was accurately describing the situation. This is also when I had my memory jarred about my near collision with the woman in the ladies room. It now dawned on me why I had that near collision... that woman had appeared from out of nowhere and right into my path.

If Anne had not observed the woman coming out, but not going in - and remembered the event, I would never have known how unusual my near collision with the woman truly was. I would have forgotten it and never returned to the memory. But once the sequence of the event was understood, I recognized it as a time line anomaly. What category of time line anomaly I wouldn't know without a further investigation, but I already knew I would pursue it. I knew that Brandon, Whitley, and I have all experienced sudden 'appearances' of people from seemingly out of nowhere, and soon learned that this was Anne's first experience of this kind. I was very pleased with the way Anne handled the situation. She didn't allow herself to get caught up in the drama and emotion of the moment, but immediately began to dissect the event in the same way I do. Anne, like myself, wanted to know if what we experienced was some sort of time line anomaly... or an illusion caused by the way the Magic Castle is rigged and constructed. Whatever the truth, we wanted to know the answer.

Anne was the one to inform Whitley about what was going on, and he was asked about what he might have observed from his perch at the top of the staircase. Brandon was in the Parlor preparing for his 10:30 PM show, so was not at the location when the time line anomaly occurred. While Whitley's attention was not on whether a mystery woman was going to come out of a ladies room that she had not entered, he was keeping a caring eye on his wife. In doing so, he does not recall seeing a woman enter the ladies room, in the time frame she would have had to enter in order to exit as she did.

I later learned that Anne had described the mystery woman to Whitley, as a way to preserve an independent identification of the woman - if she could be found. This worked out well because the woman was found, identified, and interviewed. After a brief search, I saw the mystery woman walking through the Magic Castle and I followed her. She walked right past were Anne and Whitely were standing, and through an employees only door. Since we were waiting for Brandon's show to begin, we had to postpone a pursuit of this woman until the show was over. Afterwards, Brandon helped to locate the woman and introduced her.

I have a way of interviewing witnesses of time line aberrations, and I quickly let Anne, Whitely, and Brandon in on how I was going to do it. Above all, the key is to get answers without front loading the witness or leading them. It was a brief and friendly exchange, in which I was able to confirm that the woman remembered almost colliding with me in the ladies room. This was the marker that absolutely identified her as the woman that both Anne and I recalled being a part of the time line anomaly. Also important, the woman has no memory of anything unusual happening. She remembers entering the ladies room through the one and only door, and exiting through that same door. I asked, and she said there were no hidden doorways into that ladies room. However, the woman could not remember what she did in the ladies room other than enter through the door, almost collide with me, and exit through the door.

The information gleaned from this woman was invaluable. It clearly showed that Anne and I were the ones consciously aware that something was happening with the time line, and that it resembled a glitch or an odd edit with a piece of the time line missing. The missing piece, or missing scene, was of when the woman enters the ladies room through the ladies room door. It's no different than if a film is poorly edited, and then spliced together without caring about whether the film sequences have continuity. The event also caused something that I call a dual time line memory conflict. This is when different people have different memories of a single event, because the event was experienced in different co-existing time lines. I've written about this phenomena as part of my research on Time Shifts, the Core Matrix, Reality Shifts, and co-existing time lines.

When it comes to the editing and merging of co-existing time lines, it's important to understand that all co-existing time lines are thinly separated by their individual frequencies and harmonics. These co-existing time lines aren't running parallel to one another, but instead exist in the near same space separated only by their individual frequencies. I believe that the synchronizing and merging of time line frequencies played a large part in the Magic Castle experience. But what caused that odd time line edit is a deeper mystery. Was it the after effect of a Time Shift, where Anne and I experienced and were aware of two co-existing time lines merging? Was it caused by an intentional contact by time travelers, where our frequencies were readjusted to attune to a single time line? Whitley had some interesting things to say about an individual person's ability, natural or otherwise, to be out of phase with the frequency of a time line.

I have experienced people, animals, and objects appearing and disappearing all my life. I've had the experience while alone, and also with others. However, I want to make it very clear that not all appearances and disappearances have the same source or the same explanation. Each and every appearance and disappearance event must be viewed individually, and with all factors considered. As an example, Brandon and I are involved in an ongoing investigation involving the appearance of a little boy and his mother. The little boy appeared before my eyes, on a narrow moving escalator in a public place, and clinging to Brandon's leg. Yet nothing about this case, and the time line anomaly experienced at the Magic Castle, are the same. The woman from the ladies room belonged in that time line, and in that location at the Magic Castle. That was clear after interviewing her. She was a regular person caught in a time line anomaly. The boy and his mother from the other investigation, on the other hand, showed signs of being completely out of time and place. Their point of origin, and method of appearance, are very different than that of the woman at the Magic Castle. This may be a case of time travel.

Regardless of my knowledge and experience with co-existing time lines, it still needed to be determined whether or not that ladies room had a secret doorway by which the woman entered unseen. Regardless of the woman saying there wasn't a secret passageway, it was necessary for me to discover the truth independently. For this I turned to Brandon, who was more than happy to put in the time with the Magic Castle research I requested. With Brandon's help, and my own journey into the history of the Magic Castle through various sources, I was able to settle the question about the structure of the ladies room and whether it had a secret door.

pegasus leap

The Magic Castle had its grand opening in January of 1963, two years after the Larsen brothers took over the refurbishing of the old dilapidated Lane mansion. The Lane mansion was built in 1908, and was a mirror image of the 1897 Kimberly mansion in Redlands, California. The Lane family moved away in the 1940s, and the mansion fell on hard times. From there it went through many incarnations, ending up as a multi-family home, a home for the elderly, and finally an apartment house. Along came the Larsen brothers and the rest is history.

"Milt Larsen's Magic Castle Tour", a book written and photographed by Carol Marie, explores the origins of every nook, hall, room and corner. Along with photographs and text, Brandon and I discovered that the ladies room didn't exist until a new wing was built in 1976. Before that, the area where the ladies room is now was nothing but open space and outdoor air. That ladies room was built without secret doorways. Therefore, I can say with certainty that there was only one way for the woman to enter that ladies restroom, and that was through the one and only door. Brandon added something interesting to this area of the mansion. He noted, that of all the rooms and walls in the Magic Castle, this one section - in front of that ladies room - changes more than any other one. Posters change, statues come and go, and railings change color. Considering the time line anomaly recently experienced, he wonders just exactly how these changes came to be. Did someone at the Magic Castle choose that one area to alter, time and time again? Or does is change so often because that area is prone to the shifting of reality due to time line anomalies?

There was never a time that either Brandon, Anne, Whitley, or I thought that the woman in the ladies restroom was a ghost. While I have explained that the Magic Castle is dedicated to stage illusions, and not genuine paranormal activity, that does not mean that paranormal activity doesn't occur. There are a number of haunted buildings where ghost activity is prominent in a restroom. The Magic Castle, beginning as the Lane mansion, is almost one hundred years old. Many people have come and gone, including magicians who made the Magic Castle their home away from home. This type of life attachment is usually one way in which ghosts become attached to buildings after death. Although ghosts are not a part of this reported time line anomaly, I would be remiss if I did not mention a piece of little known Magic Castle history. In the very room that Brandon was performing in, a magician died while waiting for his show to begin. He was sitting in one of the theater chairs when his life light when out. It is said that he has been seen in that room, watching other magicians perform... perhaps even getting in on the performance.

Starfire Tor is a respected Psi researcher, scholar, and experiencer who is the discoverer of "Time Shifts", "The Core Matrix", and is the developer of applied "Reality Shift" psi-ence including "Reality Shift Manifestion" and "Reality Shift Healing".

Starfire Tor is dedicated to pro-actively applying her knowledge toward a better world. In this endeavor, she has created and developed psi based protocols, such as "The Vortex Peace Prayer" and "Astral Tagging".

Starfire Tor is well known for her documented ability to see future events, using her "OBE" and "Psi Data Download" techniques. Whenever possible, she uses her psi ability to help those in need. In an effort to connect with others who can psi-see future events, thereby utilizing the combined input to help others, Starfire Tor created "The Dream Team" on her Inter-Dimension list.

Starfire Tor has many areas of interest, which interconnect with her many research projects. Besides those topics already mentioned, some of her interests include: Time Travel, UFOs, Alien Contact, Psychic and Paranormal Events, Prophecy, Near Death Experiences, Remote Viewing and Remote Negative Influencing, Mind Control, Miracles, Ancient Mysteries and Earth Enigmas, Mythology and Folklore, Psychic Protection, Psychic Vampires, Spirit Possession and Spirit Entities, Angels, Thought Forms, Telepathy, Telekinesis, Bi-Location, Poltergeists and Apports, Ghosts and Hauntings, Reincarnation, Soulmates, Earth Origins, plus All Science and Knowledge Past-Present-Future.

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aleister crowley