On DuQuette's Low Magick - or the temple that is a telephone booth
Over the weekend I finished reading Lon Milo DuQuette's wonderful 'Low Magick'. It is a refreshingly short book, a small compendium of autobiographical short stories on DuQuette's various magickal experiences. As the author states there might be more power in a well told short story than in a huge volume of ancient rites and prayers... So in between all your volumes of different Picatrix' versions, Grimoires, etc. this is exactly the type of treat your inner child loves to devour: a magickal version of Steve Jobs' famous 'stay hungry, stay foolish' line...
However, besides praising the book and encouraging you to spend ten bugs on it, there is one additional thing I want to point out about it. I actually wonder why DuQuette doesn't mention it anywhere himself? So let me bold enough to do it for him.
Since the early days of the Golden Dawn we have spent an awful lot of time in the West to confine the place of magick to a temple. Life outside the temple and life inside the temple are separated from each other like the entrance hall and the inner sanctum of a bank, the safe. While there is nothing wrong with an inner sanctum, for me there is definitely something wrong with a barren life outside the temple that lacks spirituality - as we just locked spirituality up in a magickal circle, behind magical curtains in our magickal temple.
While we learned to go into a telephone booth to dial up a spirit number, spirits don't really care from where we are calling them. To be perfectly honest: the dial cord in the phone booth is cut off from the telephone network since many years. It's just that we feel better shielded from the noise around us and confined in the surrounding of our nice red telephone booth. We feel ready and centered to make a call and we prefer to expect someone being on the other end of the (dead) line - rather than having spirits talking non-stop in our minds. At least we can put back the receiver!
Now, here is the interesting bit: It seems we do need some sort of line of demarcation that allows us to retreat back into the grounded earthiness of Malkuth. I guess most of us need to be able to shut the door of a temple, to hang up the receiver and to silence the spirit voices in our minds. If that is the whole function of a temple - to create a physical representation of an astral threshold, to be able to open and close a spirit door - well done and here is to a perfect magickal tool.
In his book 'Low Magick' DuQuette shares examples of experimenting with that spirit door. He wraps the magickal circle as a consecrated thread around his body, he invokes deities on a party and his father teaches him his first and most important magickal virtue: self-esteem and the fundamental faith in his power to determine his own fate.
In taking us on a journey through all these events that balance on the fence between physical and spirit reality, DuQuette is a master of teaching us how low that fence actually is and how easy it is to step over it and return safely afterwards. This particular worldview and skill - to effortlessly move forward and backward over the threshold of the realms of reality - isn't a competence Western Occultism is particularly well know for. Shamanism, on the other hand, is.
And this is the conclusion I wished the book pointed out more openly for dummies like me: DuQuette shares a wonderful vision of a place with us, of an inner attitude and approach that takes an essential quality of shamanism and reintroduces it to our Western lore. The ability to navigate between Tonal and Nagual from a single point of presence. In this effort the book 'Low Magick' clearly joins forces with a whole current of recent publications that all strive to bring magick back into our lives. And to realize that the threshold of our temples is just that: a symbol of two different inner states. Both of them being open and available to us at any point during night or day, any nights or days of our lives.
Here is how another wonderful author, Josephine McCarthy puts it:
"Learning how to be open, to have thinner barriers around us without being eaten alive by every draining person and parasite teaches us to be able to flow through the worlds and be receptive to the slightest whisper from inner contacts while retaining our energetic health and integrity." Josephine McCarthy, Magickal Knowledge, Vol.II, page 19