We at Miskatonic Books are very happy to have our first blog interview with the very accomplished magican and author Frater Ashen Chassan
Interview questions provided by Larry Roberts
1. What was your first magical experience?
I’ve had experiences that could be considered magical, paranormal, or spiritual in nature ever since a young age. One of the first consciously aware experiences I had was when I was about ten years old in martial arts class. I began staring at myself in the mirror that made up the entire opposite wall. It was after a rigorous work out and I was able to sit perfectly still and just stare at my own eyes and reflection. I was still, “aware” but as I stared, eventually all sound went away, followed by the reflection of anyone or anything else and only I was left in the reflection, staring at myself surrounded by what looked like a white-golden aura. It felt like I was in this moment for several hours but ended up only being a few moments. It was long enough for my teacher and students to take notice however and they all seemed rather impressed by whatever state I appeared to be in.
Another earlier occurrence happened while I was walking home through the woods and became turned around. I was about thirteen at the time and wasn’t very familiar with the land yet. I became rather nervous and called out to the spirits of the land there asking them to assist me in finding my way home. I didn’t really know what I was doing or what I was expecting, and nothing miraculous appeared or introduced itself. Just moments after however, I did hear a noise that pointed me in the direction toward home. I found my way safely and not only that, soon after I began experiencing many unusual things within the forest that surrounded my house. Such occurrences would increase and continue as long as I lived there.
I wouldn’t formally experiment from a book of magic till a year or two later following that experience in the woods. I became drawn to paganism, Celtic lore and magic and fascinated by the things I felt and experienced in the forest. I was drawn to the classical Hermetic elements and elemental spirits and the prospect of communing with them. I resolved to make contact with them using a book that attempted to mix classical and pagan magical methods and lore together. While the rite was pleasing to perform, I didn’t behold anything extremely unusual during the ritual. However spiritual phenomena seemed to increase a hundred fold at my house with my parents and others witnessing several strange events.
2. When was the first time that you knew you had invoked a spirit into physical manifestation? And is this something that happens every time for you, most of the time or rarely?
My first successful evocation to physical manifestation or more correctly, to visible and auditory appearance, was during my second, traditional attempt, at evoking a spirt from the Lemegeton’s Goetia. The occurrence followed some gradual visual and atmospheric distortions where the space in front of me seemed to change. By change, I mean the walls where the spirit was to appear sort of blacked out and seemed to vanish without any discernible parameters. I started seeing small sparks or rather small flashes of colored lights and a few colored streaks in my peripheral vision. The incense smoke seemed to condense into a thick wall just behind where the triangle was placed and remained for the duration of the experiment. I was a bit confused however as the glowing smoke that appeared to collect near the triangle did not form into the spirit as I had expected it to.
If anything was there it seemed hesitant to arrive as if something was keeping it from appearing. After a while I noticed what I looked like a large shadow stepping from where the far wall was supposed to be. It came into sharper view and began to take on dimensionality. The shadow seemed to become more and more discernible as the moments went on. I simply stood there staring at it as it did so. It looked as if it simply came from beyond the wall and formed fully into three-dimensional space. The image, which at first was a dark silhouette, became discernible as an aged knight riding on a rather large horse. By “large”, I suppose that it was life size and took up the most of the chamber in front of me. I must have expected the spirit to be more compacted to stand easily within the triangle. It appeared as an apparition not like in the sense that I could see through it, but that it appeared as if I was looking through a thick fog or smoke at a solid figure in the distance. (which in actuality, I was, the Myrrh incense was also burning profusely through the room).
The spirit appeared solidly in profile and looked ominous. It/he had the long white beard and stern expression. The weapon he held was in his right hand was pointed downward, an odd looking two pronged spear which I had not recalled seeing before. He regarded me with a brooding expression, yet patient and simply waited. I gave the Address, removing my new parchment eight inch “card” hexagram from a linen pouch I made to hang from my lion belt and held it up before the spirit. At that time the knight dismounted and stood nearer to me within the triangle. Seeing it move and come even closer impressed upon me the full reality of what was occurring. It seemed to come into even better view and I noticed it looked solid, not like a ghost as I could not see through him. I still had a bit of difficulty hearing him and remember asking him more than once to speak louder. That operation took several days of pondering over and considering as my mind had trouble really accepting the experience.
Since that first successful evocation, I’ve performed several more Goetic evocations as well as angelic callings. I’ve used scrying devices such as crystals and black mirrors before. In some cases of angelic evocations my senses were filled with visions and scenarios as the angels answered my questions and I was no longer aware of the scrying device as the medium by which communication occurred. One time I tried to evoke an entity from the Goetia within a black mirror and nothing appeared there but the spirit manifested as a ghostly apparition, right behind the mirror instead. Spirits do not always arrive solidly or as clearly as others. The beings from the Goetia are ones that appear the most discernibly. I do not always try and evoke them to “physical manifestation/appearance” and sometimes prefer a scrying medium as the spirits are often able to show me other things besides their form or visage. However, I only consider the evocation successful and proceed when I can see them and their images remains. I must also hear them and be certain of their reply to my inquiries and statements. I’ve also come to rely on my other senses and feelings heavily. There is an unmistakable sense I get when a spirit is near or arrived which makes speaking to it and encouraging it to appear and speak clearly much easier.
3. What are your top ten magical books currently in your library?
Well, the magical works I have on the top first shelf are as follows:
- Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic – Dr Stephen Skinner,
- Techniques of Solomonic Magic, – Dr Stephen Skinner,
- The Veritable Key of Solomon (Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic Series Vol. 4) Part of: Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic by Dr Stephen Skinner,
- The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy – Ibis Press
- The Exorcist’s Handbook – Josephine McCarthy,
- Elucidation of Necromancy Lucidarium Artis Nigromantice attributed to Peter of Abano: Including a new translation of his Heptameron or Elements of … and commentary by Joseph H. Peterson,
- Of the Art Goetia -Colin D. Campbell
- Imperial Arts Volume I- John R. King IV
- Forbidden rites A Necromancer’s Manuel of the Fifteenth Century – Kieckhefer
- Conjuring Spirits Texts and Traditions Meidival ritual Magic – Fanger
4. What drew you to invoking angels rather than Solomonic demon binding methods?
Like others before me, I was initially drawn to The Goetia when I first became involved in classical western magic. Invoking angels or demons has never really been an either/or consideration for me however. I did became much more interested in learning from angels than simply binding demons to perform tasks.
I made a few attempts at evocation combining what I read about goetia and the Golden Dawn methods I had become familiar with. Even during those few amateur attempts, I got what I perceived as spirit presence although it did not last long and I wasn’t able to hear or speak with it. The results were enough to convince me of the validity of spirit conjuration though and I have been fascinated by spirit conjuration ever since. Years later, I came upon the works of Joseph C. Lisiewski, notably his, “Ceremonial Magic & the Power of Evocation” and was captivated by his approach towards classical magic. I became intent on conducting magical rituals historically rather than the more modern approaches which prevailed at the time. I learned how earlier Solomonic texts are/were built on the foundations of highly religious and liturgical structures that were familiar to the clergy of that day.
It took some time to reacclimate to the highly Christianized religious practices and contexts of the grimoires, having stepped away from such involvements in my late teens. However, deeper involvment eventually lead me to appreciate the occult and esoteric virtues of where this system of magic developed from. The roles of the priest and magician are nebulously blended together. My very first attempt at “Traditional Goetia” was unsuccessful however and lead to further research and development of my magical skills.
It wasn’t until after my failure trying to evoke a spirit from the Goetia that I turned to summoning angels. I resolved to create the altar tablets of the Ars Almadel (4th book of the Lemegeton) and try my luck with those spirits instead. After speaking with some magical colleagues, I felt the angels of the Almadel could assist me in developing my magical skills as well as conjuring other spirits. It was through my experiences with the Amadel that I achieved my first success perceiving a conjured spirit clearly and audibly in a crystal. Not long after working with the Almadel angels, I became captivated by the planetary archangels of the system known as “Drawing Spirits into Crystals”. This art was a very short and direct method of angel conjuration found in The Magus: A Complete System of Occult Philosophy by Francis Barrett. The experiences of these workings have altered my life in ways I will never fully comprehend but feel eternally grateful for. It is without doubt that the Archangels have influenced both my life’s course and my practice of magic.
After achieving success in the Ars Almadel, I also returned to goetia and was finally able to achieve the results of conjuring a spirit to visible and audible appearance. Although working traditionally from this system, I was reluctant to “bind” any spirit to perform tasks they didn’t wish to assist with. I became much more intent on discovering the nature and function of the spirits through dialog rather than simply demanding services of them. I found I was able to accomplish much more this way and that the spirits were far more willing to assist me. The “bindings” remained however and continue only int eh sense of the contract of the art which forbids them to work against, or harm me or my loved ones in anyway.
Since that initial success I’ve experimented with several Solomonic texts and grimoires for spirit conjuration, many of which have yielded satisfying results. For several years now, I have conducted evocations on the behalf of clients to assist them with a number of issues in order to test the results and usefulness of my workings and assist those in need of such services.
5. Who was your greatest magical influence and why?
I’ve had many magical influences since I began seriously practicing classical magic. It’s difficult to acknowledge just one contributor as different magicians have inspired me at different points in my magical career. John King IV, Author of Imperial Arts and various books definitely deserves a large amount of credit to how I approach classical magic and work from the grimoires. I followed his example in procuring the traditional implements and vestments and working from the grimoire’s instructions directly. He has also personally been a huge help in overcoming difficulties and snags along the way. Dr. Stephen Skinner is also to be acknowledged not only for his amazing works and contributions to the esoteric community, but for his personal assistance and support in my magical path and development.
6. What is your favorite magical instrument?
As someone who acquires and crafts many different magical instruments or implements, it’s interesting to consider which of these would be a favorite. In use, the incense burner/thurible and incense has come to set a space so perfectly attuned to magical working. The sight of the wafting tendrils of smoke, the smells of the lit charcoals, resin and plant mixtures immediately set the stage for magic. The wand has become synonymous with magicians and wizards and is difficult not to mention it as well. I never fully apricated the implementation of a wand until I began using it in evocation however. The magician’s wand truly serves as a device of authority and power and seems to bridge the nebulous boundaries between the seen and unseen worlds. My two main wands will literally feel as if they are gathering heat and vibration when I begin uttering my invocations and direct them towards the space a spirit is to appear. It is rather fascinating to witness energies and beings responding to how it is used and directed, and to be able to “feel” one’s intention move outward into space though it.
7. What was your motivation towards “high magic” rather than “folk magic/low magic”?
Another topic that has also never really been an either/or choice for me is the practice of what is considered “high” or “low” magic. When discussing Classical Western Magic, the aim was always the accomplishment of one’s goals. Grimoires focused on practical matters, and means to achieve certain desires in life. Even if the pursuit is purely knowledge, magic is the vehicle that is used to acquire it without passive inspiration. Magic tends to be defined against mysticism in this way: A conscious manipulation of unseen forces to acquire specific ends. The practice of spirit evocation was ever assumed to be accomplished through the assumption of the divine and/or divine authority. Although the magician would certainly need to hardness such celestial authority, the purposes were still used for practical ends. The semblance of Theurgy was the medium through which classical magicians evoked spirits, whether angel or demon, to begin with. The grimoire texts themselves are primarily formatted to Catholic liturgy, use implements and dress of Catholic clergy and are often referred to as an exorcist – a position of at least minor holy orders. Beyond the official dress and ordination of the typical magician would be the actual discipline of which prayer, trial and intense focus was essential. When viewed from this lens, the pathways of “High” and “Low” magic are not as easily defined.
The establishment of magical orders in recent history, made “higher consciousness in the understanding of God’s relationship to individual consciousness” a more prominent pursuit. Thus, magical Theurgic practices took on a different meaning from which they may have originally been considered. I don’t think I would claim that contemporary practices considered “Theurgy” would inherently give someone the ability to evoke spirits successfully, but it could definitely assist, and yes, enhance the experience overall. Involvement and conversations with angels in the pursuit of knowledge and fulfilling one’s purpose in life would certainly be on track with High Magic I would say.
8. Is there any chance we are going to see a new book from you in the near future?
My life has become even busier with family, work, activities, obligations and magical workings. I have several written works in progress but none that are quite ready for publication. My writing has unfortunately taken a back seat to my ongoing magical practice, implement and talisman making for clients and magical classes and consultations. Regardless, I am striving to complete one of these works sometime this year.
9. Are you currently giving any classes or taking on students?
I currently have four online courses or Magical Masterclasses. These are on The Skills of the Ceremonial Magician, The Lemegton’s Arte Goetia, The Lemegton’s Ars Almadel, and Drawing Springs into Crystals. These classes have been a huge success and more people are joining all the time to learn and share their own experiences and insights. I do hope to eventually have more magical workshops in person as these have been very enjoyable.
10. Lastly, tell us about your martial arts training and how it has affected your magical practice?
I have been involved in martial arts since I was five years old. My parents encouraged my involvement to help focus the abundance of energy I had along with concentration issues. I eventually found a teacher in Ninjutsu in 1999 and devoted much time and focus into learning that art. My instructor passed things on to me in 2004 and tested for my 5th degree black belt in Japan. I have been teaching classes at my own dojo ever since. Martial arts has definitely played a large part in my practice of and approach to ceremonial magic. Ninjutsu in particular has influenced my understanding of how magic functions in its most direct way through focus and physical gestures of the practitioner, especially where other people are concerned. Through the removal of doubt or distractions and any barriers of thought, intention and action the miraculous can be achieved. I use the practice of the Kuji in and Kuji kiri in various practical ways as needed. It is an excellent method to enact change at a moment’s notice without further need of implementation or ceremonial trappings. I’ve integrated this practice with other mudras and mantras I’ve combined to be used as such spontaneous needs arise. I’ve gained much insight and support from Martian spirits and angels that have undoubtedly improved my performance in the martial arts.