I am extremely happy to introduce Josephine Mcarthy. Josephine Is the director of Quareia, ‘A school of magic for the 21st century’. She is also the author of all of their extensive materials. I feel it is a great achievement developing such a system and extremely generous to offer it for free directly on the website. In this interview I hope to delve into this system, discover where it has come from, what can be expected from the training and what the future plans are.
To have written and put out for free such a comprehensive system but more so than that to keep it positive, and self sustaining without the need for a central figure is very impressive.
Important links for this post
SOFB: Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. I would like to start with asking about your journey and how that led up to the formation of Quareia.
Josephine: After going through the questions, I want to make it very clear right at the beginning, that I have not done IIH and am not overly familiar with it. I have a passing familiarity with Bardon’s work and life, and I have a great deal of respect for him as a human and also for the work that he did.
My magical journey has been long and convoluted, a bit too long to outline in an answer. But a summary would be that right from the beginning, it was not a path of straight line training and lodge, rather it was meandering path where I intersected with various teachers and guides, and where I worked with a wide variety of people and learned a great deal as I went along. I have natural inner sight which helped enormously, and I come from a background that made me familiar with ritual (Catholic), monastic discipline and introspection, and also visionary work. I also, from a young age, was exposed to different cultures and religions in the community and through my father’s friends, and also exposed to more alternative/mystical concepts through my father’s own spiritual journey.
I spent my teens blowing myself up magically and figuring out divination, and my twenties were taken up with having babies, education, dance, and exploring/practicing magic in various ways. I started teaching magic in the early 90’s and moved to the USA for eleven years, where I taught extensively.
I retired from the direct teaching of magic in groups in 2008 though I did guide a mixed magical group for a few more years. During that time the concept of writing a course kept pushing at me, and I resisted. Instead I wrote a few books, and through that process I learned a bit more about the discipline, method and voice of writing – each book taught me something of the process of structuring information that was not too much, nor too little. I also learned (the hard way), that localised ways of speaking through text do not work to a wider audience - Yorkshire black humour and direct speaking is easily misunderstood outside of that northern British culture. I had to slowly learn to write for a wider cultural audience. That, in retrospect, was training me up for taking on the course itself. And even through the process of writing the course, I was constantly learning about how to communicate concepts and ideas. It is a never ending learning process.
I occasionally go spend time in Germany, hanging out with magicians who are from very different magical backgrounds to me, and through those meetings, in particular with Frater Acher, the idea that I should write a comprehensive course of self-training kept coming up. I initially intended to do a book size ‘basics’ structured course to get people on the right path, but fate took over and the full-blown course demanded to be written. It was also very clear to me that it needed to be freely available, designed for self-study, and not bound by any one particular stream of the western magical systems. It took just under three years of full-time writing, and was literally a ‘blood, sweat and tears’ endeavour.
SOFB: You began in the 1970’s and began teaching in the 90’s. This is a great deal of experience, can you share how things have changed in the world of spirituality since that time? Possibly this links with my first question as to why the need for Quareia was seen.
Josephine: When I first started dipping my toes into magic as a teen, I was living in a situation where I was not very aware of what was out there in terms of books, magicians and systems. The only place I could access books beyond cookery and romance novels was the main city library and the local university library. The selection was minimal in terms of magic and related subjects, and I had to look carefully, often taking hours to find something. I read philosophy, mysticism, some magic, and a lot of ancient history. I had no idea what it was I was looking at for the most part, but I would spend hours sat in the library, reading, trying to take it in. It was all very confusing to me as a fourteen year old, but I knew in my bones there was something I had to grasp, I just didn’t know what or how.
I sort of figured out most basics as I went along, and from adventures with my father who was deeply into the Rosicrucian path, and he was also interested in various peripheral aspects of magic such as psychism etc. We went on a lot of adventure trips to ancient, classical and medieval sites, and he would give me a book to read and then ask me what I thought about it. His interest was very much of that generation (he was born in 1923): mediumship, mentalism, and so forth. I was also very lucky in that the right teacher always came along at the right time to push me onto the next step.
During the late 80’s and the 90’s a lot of magical paths had become about money, popularity, status, fancy outfits, big hats and the latest craze/invention packaged in a workshop, be it Arthurian, Celtic, Nordic, the ‘real real’ official real Golden Dawn, and so forth. There was a lot of ‘never before seen’ claims of hidden magical mysteries coming to light (along with a website, books and marketing tools). It was pretty depressing to be honest.
There was also a lot of interesting experimentation going on, probably triggered by the earlier chaos magic stream bursting out on the world, so it was really a melting pot of all sorts of stuff. It was a time where the breaking off of shackles that happened in the 1960’s and 1970’s had come to fruit – people were trying all sorts of paths and methods.
At that time I was busy working and raising my kids, so beyond keeping my own experimenting, teaching and practice going, I did not really have time to look over the fence and really see what was going on in the rest of the magical world. I only saw what was around me, which was the plastic shamans and ‘Merlins’ on one side, and the death metal chaos magicians and Elvisonian (they were awesome!) mysteries on the other. Gotta love California!!
For the most part I have always isolated myself from the mainstream, not just society, but also the magical communities. So besides the time I lived in California (where everyone and his dog was a ‘guru’ of some sort), I have been not that aware of the trends unless I crashed headfirst into something by accident. Coming back to Britain, it was interesting to see that there was more experimentation here that was not connected to trends, and I met some wonderful magical people.
I think the biggest change I have noticed is accessibility. With the birth and maturation of the internet, everything is now available at your fingertips, usually for a price. What is lacking now (I am generalising here) is discernment. People have become used to being sold something these days that they are trained by marketing to look for tasty instant glittery tomes that are ‘secret’ (so secret you can buy them and they have a website telling you that they are secret), and a lot of people seem to disengage common sense and intelligence when they seek a path. It might have always been like that and I just had not noticed before.
I find it fascinating that you can open the doors to all knowledge through something as amazing as the internet, and still people flounder – true magic can be found hiding in plain sight, safe and sound, but people will not penetrate it if it is not appropriate..
SOFB: The path is never straight and level with lots of twists and turns. Can you share what have been the biggest challenges in both the actual practices and in dealing with the effects/changes that growth brings into one's life.
Josephine: My magical path has been one long twisty turning racetrack, and I think the biggest challenges were hostile partners, and juggling a magical life with raising children and working. I made a decision early on in adulthood that the magical /mystical path for me was my life path, and everything else had to orbit around that. So instead of pushing for a successful career, I took whatever work would enable to me to do what I needed to do in terms of a magical life and raising my kids. My ‘career’ training was in ballet, and I was far more interested in training professional dancers than working as a performer in a very predatory environment. However, such work wasn’t always available in the places that the magical life took me to. So at times I would work as a waitress, gardener, cleaner, bar tender, and at one point I worked in wild fire and forestry – I did whatever was necessary to provide for my kids and continue my magical work.
That was very challenging in so many ways, and it taught me a great deal – such work is often at the bottom of the social ladder, and I got to see first hand just how obnoxious humans can be to each other when one is in a powerless position. For quite a few years I would find it hard to put up with rude and obnoxious people on a day to day basis, and then go home and exhaust myself by working on a long term magical project/working in that area that would hopefully benefit those same people.
To reflect it in a humorous way, it would go something like this –
Magical Contacts: we are going to move you across the country to an area, and we want you to clean it up energetically, and trigger balancing. Will you do that thing?
Me: yes, I will do that thing.
MC: ok, here you go.
Me: thanks, I am here now, but the people here are really horrible.
MC: do that thing.
Me: sigh, I will do that thing, but can I wipe out all the obnoxious people?
MC: no, do that thing.
In terms of the effects/changes that magical growth brings, they have been tough but very welcome. Magical growth brings up your bullshit and rubs your face in it. It slaps you down on a regular basis, and you realise just how much of modern living has no real relevance to anything. And this process never ends; we are all a work in progress until we die, and if we are true to ourselves, we realise that the painful changes that growth brings are really necessary and should be welcomed with open arms.
The biggest challenge of all in my magical life was writing the Quareia course. It was often fourteen hour days, three days off a month, for two years and nine months. Energetically it totally hammered me as it was contacted writing (working with your mind and spirit in the inner worlds while typing). I put on a huge amount of weight from it (the body creates ballast to cushion the energetic impact of the work), and also got a few bad injuries along the way.
It took me another three years to get my body back into shape and fitness. But a finely balanced sharp sword does not come from love and faeries, it comes from an anvil, a fire, and a hammer – the metal is constantly plunged into the fire and then hammered flat until the perfect blade emerges. True magic is not for sissys – it will test you to your limit, and then test you again.
SOFB: As many reading this interview are coming from the Franz Bardon tradition could you provide some insight into how Quareia is similar and how it differs from the Bardon tradition.
Josephine: Magic is a long meandering path that runs alongside the fate of humans. Every so often someone is prompted or dragged kicking and screaming (usually in my case) to lay down foot stones on that path of magic so that people can walk a few more steps in magical development. It is a path that sometimes runs straight and true, sometimes dead ends form, sometimes it has to double back on itself and re trace steps, and sometimes a path has to be constructed to go around a block in the road. Every seventy to a hundred years or so, someone pops up somewhere and does construction work on the path, to keep people moving forward.
Those construction workers are just that; workers with a job to do. They are not necessarily the best, it is just that they are perfectly placed in time and fate, with everything they need around them to get the job done. And the job is done in the way that is necessary for the time and place in human development and consciousness.
It is never a straight line of development either – I have looked at work done four thousand years ago and realised how far behind we have fallen in terms of magical skill and knowledge. And I have looked at work from a hundred years ago and wondered what the hell they were thinking…. But it was what was right and necessary for the time, place and people. That took me a long while to understand – you can only build a path that the feet of that time can cope with.
Every section of the path that is built brings something forgotten to light again, and it also has flaws. Every section is built for the people of that time, so it must work in a way that is conducive to the mindset, understanding, and fate tides of the time.
When Bardon worked on his course, the collective mind of the time was in need of discipline, and rootedness in the body and mind. His course reflected that. It needed to have some roots in Catholicism as that was the underbelly of the cultural thinking and religion of that time. IIH also reflects that. It also needed to be able to flow through the filter, which was a man who was a stage magician, who was a mentalist, and who was very focused on the body. So that is the shape the course took as it filtered through him.
It will not have been a conscious decision, rather it is what came through him. And that is the key to a true magical stone on the path – you do not ‘invent’ it. The writer may structure it, but it essentially comes through you. It is a collective stream of magical consciousness that flows through you and you form it into something. However, the magical knowledge must first be within the writer from a practical perspective. The writer gives the hard earned knowledge and gives it structure, and the inner stream brings it to life in a new way. When you codify something that you have deep experience of, it forces you to look at that knowledge from a very different perspective. Through that process, the magician opens as a bridge to the inner worlds, and what flows from that place/contact is an expansion of view and understanding.
This has happened for millennia and will continue to happen while ever there are humans. It happens with religions, with magic and with mysticism. Some writers put down their own ideas and ideas they have poached from other written work, and some bridge something that is far beyond themselves. It filters through the acquired knowledge and practice of whoever is writing, but it needs that filter of true practice in place for the bridge to work.
That is what I recognised in Bardon’s work – he was a bridge. His work while rooted in his own practice, also had the hallmarks of someone who was allowing those inner voices to flow through him. It is the same voice/s that have uttered for millennia, coming through priests, mystics, philosophers and magicians throughout the ages. Sometimes they are lost for hundreds or thousands of years, only to reappear when the time is right. Sometimes they are drowned out by a mass of commercial fake writers, and sometimes they are found shining in an unexpected corner.
Bardon focussed on the body and mind, which was right for the time, and the goal was getting the person in ship shape ready to be able to step forward after a time of devastation in the west. And it had to be done in a way that the people and culture of the time would understand and relate to it.
Quareia takes the next step and opens out the inner vista that was almost lost in the west, and slowly trains the magician in construction, so that there will be more workers building paths in the future. It also loosens the boundaries of culture and religion, and looks into various corners to understand how others have approached the same powers. IIH prepared the vessel of the magician in a solid way and gave strong foundation skills. Quareia, sixty years later, brings flexibility to compliment that solidity, and also brings techniques, awareness and contact that can stand on the earlier foundation that was built.
A major difference between the two is that Quareia works in cooperation with nature and beyond as an equal partner and in practical service – a concept that Bardon also deeply understood and encouraged. In Bardon’s time, the general mentality collectively in the culture was heavily Catholic, and had a strong sense of rulership over nature, and that nature was present to provide for man. Quareia moves away from that and recognises the sovereignty in all nature and beings, both good and bad, and works from a rule of balance and cooperation on equal terms. That is not a ‘Disney feel good cute nature’ approach, rather it is recognising that we are part of a much bigger pattern. We cannot control it nor should we, but we can interact, cooperate, and partake of the powers of creation and destruction that are all around us. We are simply bit players in a much larger production.
Is Quareia flawed, yes, undoubtedly. Am I aware of the flaws? For the most part no – I can see little flaws now, three years on, but the big flaws will be spotted by the next generation as they will have moved further along the path. It will be up to another worker to come along and build the next step in the path, iron out the flaws, dispense with what is no longer necessary, and to bridge new work that we cannot even conceive of. Magic and magical training should always be moving, developing, refining itself, and laying a foundation for the next generation to build upon. It should be not be a fossilised dogma that is never moved from.
Without Bardon, we in the west would still be swimming around in a soup of psychology and drama that was constructed by Mathers et al. His work was a vital step on the road, and I hope that one day Quareia will also be considered a step forward that contributes towards producing magicians that, when the time is right, will forge the next step to be built.
SOFB: Stillness,Vacancy of Mind - it is a requirement for most paths. But many struggle with ‘getting it’ or knowing when they have reached a good enough standard to move on. How do you deal with this? As some linger for years looking for perfection of deep samadhi while others are happy with a noticeable improvement and on they go to the next stage.
Josephine: If you wait for perfection before you move on, you will still be sat there a hundred years from now. Stillness is not a ‘thing’ you get and then you are good to go… it is a lifetime journey that circles in on itself in ever deeper layers, with times when it is almost impossible to achieve, and other times when you find yourself looking at the universe within the stillness.
We live in a fast noisy world that does not want us to be in stillness and silence – marketing doesn’t work on a still mind. For people who grew up with the constant inner and outer noise, finding silence and stillness is an uphill struggle. But it is the climb that is important, not the summit.
Once you find yourself in the silence, and gain the ‘feel’ of it, you have your reference point. The rest of your life as a magician is learning how to first sink into that silence, and then how to stay in it while functioning, or dealing with a screaming toddler. The achievement does not come from meditation alone, it comes from the holism of the path, be it mystical or magical (or both). Modern life has become a very compartmentalised existence, but magic, the soul and the mind does not work that way. Everything in magic in entwined, everything affects everything else. As the magician develops within a wide ranging training, slow but steady changes occur that assist with the stillness. Why?
Because you learn to approach the stillness from various different angles – the key is the first touch of the stillness, the void. Once the living mind has experienced it, the deeper soul remembers and begins to come to the fore. Some gain that first touch through meditation, some through visionary work, etc. By continuing in practice without striving for an end goal, it slowly develops like a muscle. It is the striving that blocks the road – magic is natural, like breathing, it just ‘is’.
So my advice to students would be, first build the discipline and practice, and recognise the first touch of stillness when it happens. From there, keep moving and developing, while also giving yourself daily opportunities for that stillness to be reached. I meditate, and I also work in walking mediation, and work in vision while walking down a busy street – as the stillness rises, I let it expand beyond me so that it touches everything around me. That is not only a good training practice, but also a service to everything around you.
Stillness can be found on a bench in the noisy high street, it can be found in the woods, or in your own front room with the TV going and the kids fighting. But that takes time and practice. Meditation is not just done sat on the floor, it is done on a bus, or stood waiting in a queue, it is a whole body experience, not just a mind one. If you have five minutes to spare, be still, look out the window and clear your mind. Bring it into your everyday life, into every cell in your body.
SOFB: Energies, Visualization, Visionary experiences. I know this is a predictable question and one that you actually address in the study guide ( I read it before doing the interview :) )but for the benefit of readers out there. How do we know these experiences are ‘real’ at what point do we move from visual creativity to actual new experience of reality where we are truly experiencing an element, elemental being, planetary energy, or deities and not just believe we are experiencing it.
Josephine: Visualisation just stays within the mind and imagination, visionary work takes a step beyond by working through a constructed interface. That is the point where the imagination becomes a gate as well as a translator, and not just a producer of imagery. Visualisations are usually constructed from psychology or mythology, and true visionary work is constructed from magical patterns and interfaces.
When people first start working visionary techniques, for the most part, all that is working is the imagination – however that is a necessary step as the imagination needs structure and vocabulary to prepare it for true visionary connection with what is outside of yourself. You need to build the muscle before you start heavy lifting.
I advise my students to treat every experience in visionary work as if it is real, even if it is not, unless something appears that is obviously from your mind like a character from a game or TV show. The reason for that is if you are constantly trying to ‘prove’, ‘test’ or analyse what you see, you essentially allow the rational mind free rein to shut that visionary door and you become locked in your imagination.
This was the mistake that a lot of magicians made in the early to mid-twentieth century, which almost caused the loss of visionary technique in many branches of western magic. Their focus became one of psychology and the imagination, and for the most part it locked them out of visionary contact. All they had to fall back on was scrying, which is like trying to shoot an arrow at a target you cannot see.
If as a beginner in visionary technique, you treat everything as if it was real, it allows the imagination to explore and expand. The student starts to recognise, while working within a visionary structure, where the imagination is filling in gaps from things it already knows. When the student finds they cannot fix on something no matter what they try to visualise, that is a sign that things are starting to open. The next step is an experience while in vision that could not have come from their own mind, or was so ‘left field’ that they didn’t see it coming.
Part of the job of the path constructor in visionary work, is to ensure that the visions worked with by students are paths that are safe, are well-trodden paths by past magicians, and have as little detail as possible. A well-trodden path is a safe one energetically and takes less inner muscle to accomplish. That in turn allows the student magician to explore and learn, and to develop inner contact without overreaching themselves.
Simple well used paths train the imagination not to get hung up on flowery details that serve no purpose, but to pay attention with an open mind and interface with the basic construction. The visionary construct should get them to the inner space, enable a contact communication, and then get them back out again. There should be no unnecessary detail in the vision path.
Eventually there comes a time when the experience is so unique there is no doubt that it did not come from you – that can happen at any time, from Apprentice level onwards. And at that point, the inner experience tends to at some point externalise into the physical life of the magician as an event that you would have had no way of knowing was going to happen – except that the inner contact gave you something or showed you something that would have direct relevance or would help you. You didn’t understand it at the time when you were shown it in vision, but it all makes sense once the event happens.
Another sign of true inner contact and visionary work is the physical impact. Once the student starts to work in deeper patterns, it is really hard work for the body as well as the spirit – the day after you can feel like you have just run a marathon. This is why training the body is so important in magic.
Once you gain adequate skill in visionary work, it is like meditation – it not only happens in a sealed room in silence, it is also done while walking about, while dealing with a sick child or an injured creature. Visionary work once you have gotten to a certain skill level is something that you should be able to slip in and out of as is needed. It is not just about you and your own magical evolution, it is also about service, and there are techniques that can be used in emergencies, and in the midst of chaos, or in the middle of a violent storm. As a technique it can reach from working on something simple in this realm that needs assistance or construction, to working with planetary consciousness, being out in the stars, down in the underworld, or working deep in the inner worlds.
To do that, you need to be able to be still. When you work at that level, there is no room for self-questioning or a scattered focus – you need to know what to do, how to do it and be able to do it. You can take things apart afterwards, but not in the midst of the work. To get to that point, the student works repeatedly over time in ever deepening orbits of inner consciousness connected to meditation, ritual, vision, utterance, and movement. Like all arts, magic takes discipline, time and dedication.
SOFB: Something else that I know you discuss in the study guide but it is a common question and debate in some circles. Beings psychological creations within our own consciousness or external independent beings. Now firstly I am interested to hear your description of both models and secondly I am interested to hear how you advise people to move from one to the other. As I am sure even if unintentional there would be an experience of inner creations first before the outward entities in many cases.
Josephine: In Quareia we do not work with beings psychologically constructed within our own consciousness as it serves no real purpose and can quickly become extremely unhealthy. It was a fashion in the late 19th and early 20th century with the rise of psychology along with the misunderstanding of what beings are.
We work with a variety of different types of beings while also training how to differentiate what type of being it is that you are connecting with; where they are from, what they do and why they do it. This is done slowly over time with proper training, and starts fairly early on in Apprentice work once the student has gone through certain basic developmental processes.
A being created by your own mind can be a self projection, which is used a lot in theatre work for example, or it can be a thought form used to achieve something.
The problem with thought forms is that they are essentially empty vessels that a parasitical being can step into and operate. Similarly, in late 19th and early 20th century magic, some magicians used what we recognise as a type of thought form to make god forms. But because they were constructed from psychology, ritual, and dressing (image, colours, sigils etc), they were empty vessels that first were filled by the wants and needs of the ritualist, and later, filled by parasitical beings (from outside the human) that were perfectly happy to pretend to be a deity in order to get energetic food and attention.
Self projections are good for theatre, acting and stage magician work, but in magic, it can quickly become a situation that weakens the magician. It can have a place in magic when you need to shield, change your appearance in order to vanish etc. But if that self projection becomes worked with in a more sustained way, it essentially freezes the inner development of the magician.
The same is also true when a part of the self is projected outwards in order to converse with it – they are often given forms of gods or beings, but they are from within yourself. Some magical streams use this as their only way of working, so in reality they are not working with any being beyond themselves, but with parts of themselves. This has its roots in the concept that we are our own universe and everything is within us. On a deep mystical level that has some truth, but it doesn’t seem to convert well into magical practice for most people.
Beings that are not of us, are a lot more complicated. For thousands of years different cultures have given them different titles – i.e. deities, angels, demons, faeries, spirits, inner teachers etc. Different cultures approached them in different ways, and often the trouble would start when the human need to classify, organise and then dogmatise not only the being, but how you interact with it. I prefer the way the Egyptians approached it, in that to them, everything was Neter, i.e. spirit (unseen but living). Everything to them was either a deity spirit or a ghost/ancestor.
The way I approach it in training is that there are beings that are body and spirit (humans, animals, etc) and beings that are not body but spirit. But even then, you trip over the fact that a lot of spirit beings are connected to something solid (a tree, a mountain, etc). The main hurdle I find for students, is loosening the need to hold on to names, classifications and hierarchies. So in the course, those connections with labels are slowly loosened and questioned, and as the student starts to make their own contact with different types of beings and have direct experience of them, their own unique understanding starts to form.
And that is really the only way that one can differentiate and move from self-constructed beings to beings that are independent of us, is by practical work, paying attention, and direct experience. There is no ‘right’ way, i.e. no one path that is THE path to do inner contact work with, however there are quite a few ‘wrong’ ways to do it, but they can teach you just as much as the right ways.
At the end of the day, there are beings that are creative, beings that are neutral and beings that are destructive. Then there are beings that can be a combination. There are beings that are deeply connected to humanity, and beings that are more removed from humanity. It is a bit like going to a new country with a different culture and not knowing anyone – you have to learn how to navigate the community, and learn how to spot who is good for you and who is a threat. It is not easy, and it comes with learning from direct experience.
When I constructed Quareia, I built it magically, so that although it is a written course, it sits within a constructed magical pattern that filters out certain types of beings, draws other types of beings in, and provides a safety net, guardianship, and inner support for the student without it being too ‘health and safety’ – budding magicians need to get their fingers burned a few times in order to realise this is real and not to be messed with. That goes for the work as well as the inner contact with various beings.
SOFB: WIthin the Bardon ‘Tradition’ we have the second book, PME all about mental wondering, evocation and travel to firstly what Franz bardon termed as the Earth Girdling Zone where 360 Spirits contacted by Franz Bardon agreed to have their sigil included in the work of PME,after tis the other planetary spheres are worked with. Can we discuss some of these subjects?
What are your thoughts on the Mental Wandering in IIH and PME compared to the Visionary work of Initiate level? Are we talking terminology? (As some even within the Bardon community have disagreed over what is really happening with the mental wondering) or are these two very much different approaches.
Josephine: To be honest, I am not familiar enough with Bardon’s work to be able to comment on that. I came across his name a few times, then I learned of his life story, and I instantly recognised the hallmark of a true magician in his life story. I looked at some of his work, and again recognised I was looking at a true magician, and that he was doing his version of what I was doing – we were both drinking from the same well. But beyond that, I didn’t look further into his work. Not because I don’t respect him, which I do, but I simply didn’t have time. I rarely read other people’s magical work because I am too wrapped up in what I am doing, and just don’t have the time.
So I don’t know how Bardon approached visionary work beyond what I spotted in IIH where he uses similar exercises that I learned and now teach beginners to get people’s minds prepared for inner vision. Where I do know we differ is in attitude/approach. I noticed in IIH that he mentions the dangers of your body being touched while doing vision work, and he also views such work as ‘leaving the body’ and relying on the inner umbilical cord to keep you connected. That is a method that comes out of Theosophy. I don’t work with that method, I work instead with expansion.
In the visionary work I work with (and many other magicians work with) it is not the spirit leaving the body, but the spirit expanding beyond the body – it has no shape and no need for containment. The shape of the spirit is simply our own imagination projecting that limitation upon it. Slowly the student learns to expand beyond the body and move around.
There is a very early exercise in the first module of Q where they learn to walk around their home, and to look in a mirror. I do not suggest what they should see, and I find it good to see students being so frustrated because they cannot see their shape – they do not recognise themselves in the mirror. Most just get a sense of colours, or shade, or energy, which is perfect… the inner spirit has no shape, it does not look human, it doesn’t really look much like anything. All the students at that stage think they have failed, when indeed they have achieved the first step – beginning to know themselves.
From there, they learn to move from one realm to another, and it is their consciousness moving through the imagination which acts as a vehicle for the spirit – the spirit can go anywhere, and the imagination acts as the translator of what is being interacted with.
In pure spirit form, it is like learning how to be like stretchy taffy - you expand and flow, and then contract. It is less of a danger on the body/spirit connection, gives a greater freedom, and also allows you to experience the stillness in everything. So for example being touched while in vision is of no real consequence other than a minor shock if you are not expecting it. I have worked in vision while stood working behind a bar, for example – it was a particularly rotten place with a lot of gang violence. I would open the gates in vision and let whatever was necessary flow into the space. I would do it while work was slow, so I could stand at the end of the bar with my eyes open but my mind in vision. The bar closed down in twelve months – job done.
In vision work you learn to expand out and flow through everything around you which in turn enables you to touch upon the divine stillness that resides within everything. That enables you then to really experience the truth that we are all truly connected: everything living, in any and all time, all have the void within them, and your spirit can flow through that as a real living experience and not a theory.
To be able to get to that point, and also gain/give communion, work and action in vision, the student needs to learn to walk before they learn to run. I do not know how Bardon approached that, but I am sure he had his own method for stepping people through those stages. He was very aware of responsibilities, and the necessity for careful and steady training.
SOFB: Also with these planetary spheres and the intelligences within them are these always approached via the visionary magic or is evocation ever used?
Josephine: There are many different ways of working with the earth belt spirits and the planetary spirits, and the methods go right back into the distant past in history. Berber women in north Africa used to talk/work with these spirits over a thousand years ago. Vision is a good way to work with them, but utterance and ritual is also a method that can be used, and when you combine vision, ritual and utterance, you can get powerful connections. This is something that Frater Acher, a magical colleague in Quareia, has worked a lot with.
Essentially, one you have made contact and have a workable method, then over time as your skills develop, you learn interesting and new ways of doing things. A magical acquaintance that crossed my path did just that – Walter Ogris who was a student of Bardon, developed his own way of working with these powers, and he evolved that work through his own method of talisman construction. I am familiar with his work and it is truly on the mark magically – practically, it works like a champion!
I would say, once you have developed a working method through training, and you have moved from training to actual work, then you will start to experiment and develop working methods that are unique to you. And by doing so, you have forged a stone on the path of magic for others to walk on – that is how the path develops, not just from course writing, but from individual development work. Once you have gotten something working well, the magical pattern it creates becomes ‘visible’ in the inner library/the place where our knowledge is stored. Another magician can tune into that space in a time of need and stumble across your work. And so the path grows, blossoms and matures.
SOFB: This also might be a good place to talk about something you wrote in the FAQ ‘ Deities are explored in practical, visionary, ritual, and theoretical ways by understanding them as vessels and windows, substations and thresholds for natural power and expression, but then drawing that deep focus back in order to work with a deity as a humanesque form they can interface with’. Could you discuss more about substations for natural power? How can the student integrate with this and bring it into their lives?
Josephine: The answer to this could quickly turn into a book as it is a complex and involved subject. So I will keep it as simple and as brief as possible.
An example of substations that magicians could understand would be the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is like a circuit map that shows how Divine consciousness expresses itself into form (the world). In itself, the Tree of Life is nothing more than a map, it is not the landscape itself - that is very important to understand.
It maps out a series of powers that expand and contract to form tension as the Divine utterance flows from intention to expression. Each sefirot is a substation, an aspect of Divine power, a focused element of power that does one thing, and together those sefirot create a holism that expresses itself through life and death. That is an inner and deeper layer of how substations work.
So you have a physical world that is made up of tensions of opposing powers, all of which are subsections of Divine power/consciousness. Let’s look at a practical example of a deity. Here is one that most people should know – the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. She is a subset of a larger ‘female’ power (female as in her energetic structure and what her power does, not a physical gender). Sekhmet is a destroying power that operates through disease and war. She is a destroying power that balances out creation to ensure there is not overgrowth of creation.
in the story of the Holy Cow, Sekhmet is sent by/flows from Re, the sun god, to strike down the bad humans who have gotten out of control. But she gets blood lust and gets out of balance, nearly wiping out humanity. The story is likely a memory of an event/s that stayed within the consciousness of the culture.
The power is that of Gevurah – the power that is the Strength of the Divine that keeps the creative power of Chesed in check. It is the power to withhold (from life) and strike down, to thresh the harvest. Sekhmet is an orbit of that substation of power, but for the culture to be able to commune and connect with it in order to understand and work with it, that power needs a form and a face – that is how human consciousness works.
We need something we can understand in order to talk to/interface with it. In Egypt that power was understood through the power of the lioness, and the deity was formed in a way that is both human and lioness, a power that sprang from a bigger and more powerful substation. Understanding that dynamic, we move away from worshiping deities, to understanding that it is a window that enables conscious communion and understanding between human and that Divine power. I hope that makes sense, as I am trying to condense a lot of information down to a few paragraphs!
SOFB: What else do you feel is significant to mention, as you have a great deal of experience as a practitioner and a teacher. What recurring themes do you see?
Josephine: I think as 21st century magicians, it is high time we learned to live and work magically with the environment around us. For too long now, religions and magic have treated the world like it is our own personal playground, that everything is there just for us and we can ignore or abuse it as much as we like. That is not correct, and is highly destructive, as people are now beginning to realise.
Until this year, a lot of magicians (and folks in general) didn’t pay any attention to nature, or they approached it in a ‘what’s in it for me’ way. It is not until disaster starts knocking at the door that people really begin to realise some things need to change. It is important for magicians to realise that the Divine power flows through everything, and we are connected to everything. With that understanding, we learn to stand alongside the rest of nature instead of ignoring it, plundering it, or using it as a ‘Disney’ feel good fix.
Where in the mundane world people ask, ‘why is this happening to me’, or ‘why does God allow this’, the magician looks around them, from an inner and outer perspective and first examines their own actions and behaviours that need to change. Then the magician works in vision with the inner expressions of nature (the substations) and asks, ‘what do you need’, ‘what can I do to help’ – from there, a lifetime of work can unfold. It is quiet, behind the scenes with no fanfare or acknowledgement, a long-term project of stepping up magically and working for the long-term future, to help a balanced natural unfolding, not to block what is already happening or about to happen. That is not glamorous, and cannot be paraded on social media for feel good clicks.
That work also has to be balanced with outer mundane work to support the inner work, which is something else that seems to have been forgotten – if you do inner work to clean up a river, for example, it can take years of work. And those years should also include visiting that river on a regular basis and picking up litter etc, along with ensuring you do nothing that is within your power to add to the problem. If every capable magician looked after one small corner, added up it would make a major difference.
That sense of responsibility for the nature around us, and the long-term commitment, is something I feel that needs to be more in the forefront of magical discussion and practice.
SOFB: Lastly before we move on to member questions. What are the future plans for Quareia and where do you see it in 20 years?
Josephine: In terms of future plans, we are working slowly and steadily with some translators, to have translations of the course in different languages, and we are working with accessibility advisors to ensure that the website is disability friendly. We are building up our residential program to ensure serious students can come together with me for a few days to debate and connect with others. Though the current pandemic has put a pause on that. Similarly, we had planned a conference to bring different magical voices/paths together, to give people different perspectives and views, but that has been postponed until next year.
I want to build up the free books/papers page to ensure that there is free accessibility to complimentary subject matter and books, so that people who are in countries that have difficulty accessing books, or where the economy is not good, they have a lifeline.
I also want to spend the next decade putting together materials that will help students of all magical paths, and to develop ways that catalyse people to view the world around them, particularly our environment and ecology, through a different magical lens. We cannot truly exist magically with the world around us if we do not understand it nor work with it both in a mundane way and a magical way.
I don’t see Quareia becoming massively popular as it is too much like hard work, and it is a long-term training, not something that can be done in a couple of years, so it takes commitment and maturity. I hope in twenty years, there is a small number of adepts who are not only trained up but also have settled into their own development work, so that they can take the next steps. If in twenty years an adept who has done all the training, and has worked magically for a while as a practitioner, turns around and says, ‘the training lacks X, and I think it could be remedied by Y’, and they are right, not just showing off, then I can die happy.
The world is changing rapidly as the west declines, and our societies will look very different in twenty years’ time. I hope that Quareia lights a corner of that world, and that along with other lights (other magical paths) that it serves a generation or two of magical seekers as they navigate their way through the changes that are happening and coming. I am not bothered about how many or how few walk the Quareia path, just that the path survives to serve those who need it for as long as they need it. I suspect that was also Bardon’s intention. We leave little magical beacons in corners and caves for people to find shelter and nourishment from, and so magic survives and evolves.
SOFB MEMBER: What other techniques/meditations or books has she used to help with the soul mirror work, besides the ones in IIH?
Josephine: The soul mirror work in IIH is loosely based upon a Catholic monastic discipline, which is something I grew up with (I went to a school run by a monastic order and boarded with them for a while). Just to be clear, I never did IIH, it was not my path, though many people seem
I personally feel that the technique can lead to a very negative way of dealing with the self, as it stays very much (from what I understand of Bardon’s approach) within the intellectual meditative self-examination and listing of positive/negative qualities. It has value for people starting out on a mystical magical path, but it is not something I feel should be a lifelong thing of itself. Rather it should evolve through practical application and ever deepening understanding of cause and effect in a wider sense beyond the self, and also understanding of human nature itself – why are these different qualities within us, what purpose do they serve, what needs evolving within oneself for the wider good of the whole pattern. That in turn should be examined from a magical and fate perspective.
For example, a silly basic one but you get the idea…. The magician suddenly gets an urge to eat a load of pie. The magician eats the whole pie, feels like a pig, and lays down to digest. It is not their normal behaviour and it troubles them.
Option a – reflect on greed, feel guilty, write it in the little book – greed!! Then go through the process of trying to not be greedy, to never do it again, and maybe abstain from anything to punish. Walk around feeling guilty and useless. That is the Catholic way.
Option b – ask oneself why the sudden need to eat a whole pie when it is so out of character and discipline. Are they getting ill? Is there a magical energetic event building up from an inner perspective? Are they hormonal? Are they just greedy? Have they just finished a round of magical work that may trigger a need for ballast? The magician would self examine for a while, and if there is no obvious conclusion, i.e. pre-menstrual?, just needed to binge, or just finished a magical working that may have been harder than they realised?... if nothing fits any logic, the magician would then use a divination health reading to see what the hell is going on. Often a magician will bulk up ready for a magical impact that was as yet unseen, and it would show in a reading.
So where a religious approach would include guilt and self lashing or a feeling of failure/imperfection, a magical approach would simply ask why? Is it necessary? If not, then discipline needs tightening up. There is no guilt or feeling of failure, just a need to identify and adapt.
In Quareia, it is approached in steps that are not always obvious. It is approached in practical acts that can trigger self-examination to understand why that act kicked up certain emotions or behaviours. Then the student learns about cause and effect, not just in magical terms, but the wider implications in society. They are led to look at ethics and morals where they come from, what purpose they serve or not, what is cultural conditioning, what is about social cohesion as opposed to the health of the soul, and so forth.
The students also work closely with the concepts of balance, of justice and the magical scales. They work with magical dynamics that can trigger those scales for the individual, where the magician is led to ever increasing experiences of what happens when they step outside of what is balanced and necessary for them as an individual.
They also work in vision with mirrors, again in ever deepening layers. It is not constant, rather it is an occasional revisit, so that the practical every day life and maturation of the individual can learn, absorb, observe and examine how they are growing and changing.
Within that is practice of self reflection, but it is tempered with observations on actions as opposed to simply being thought and emotion. It is those sort of ‘Hagrid’ moments – ‘uhoh, I shouldn’t have done/said that’. The key is not just knowing something was wrong, it is important to understand why, and what potential effect that misstep will have on everything around them. Then they have to think about how to rebalance the energetic imbalance through action.
Everyone, every magician has ‘Hagrid’ moments, because we are human. For the magician, it is important not just recognising it, but doing something about it. It is also important to understand that ‘good and bad’ are not hard fast boundaries, but are human complexities. It is equally important to understand that certain actions, qualities and behaviours, particularly in a magician, can often have wider sources that the individual themselves.
So the self reflection is not just about self, but about everything around them, how power works, how the body and mind works, and how the ups and downs of human frailty can at times have good reason to surface. It is about moving away from the concept of the individual, and moving towards awakening to being a part of a complex organic and energetic system.
It is also about understanding how fate can trigger a behaviour in someone or something in order to move them from A to B or to achieve something specific that is necessary.
We are complex beings in a complex interlinking universe, and self examination is not about evolving, it is about the basic awakening of awareness of self. That needs to be moved beyond during training in order to grow/evolve.
SOFB MEMBER: What practices do you use practically in your day to day life besides thought control and the soul mirror stuff. What of the deeper practices have led to development in your life.
Josephine: As I said earlier, I do not and have not done IIH so I approach a magical life in a very different way. My daily practice before the working day starts is meditation, a small magical working I do every day to uphold the Work, 30 mins physical training, and then I go outside and sit with nature for a little while and ask how everyone is doing.
In terms of deeper practice that has led to development… my whole magical practice, every aspect of it builds up and tears down whatever is necessary when it is necessary. I could not isolate one thing, as everything is interlinked. I would say that magic itself has and continues to be the major developing influence on my life. I could not imagine a life without magic – it has been with me from the beginning, from the earliest part of childhood in one way or another – it is how I breathe.
SOFB MEMBER: What are your thoughts on the beginning exercises of the magic of water, food, and air? Does this take resources away from the different pots that you’ve described in your writings? (we had a second question regarding magical food impregnation and your thoughts upon it)
Josephine: I was not aware of those exercises so I looked them up, and it is not something I would do to be honest. Nor would I ever have had a chance to…. Between tending a house, raising kids, and juggling multiple jobs and a magical practice, I was lucky if I got a chance to even sit while I ate.
It was something that was very in fashion from the late 19th century until the late 1950’s. However, I have found that trying to use the mind to focus in and control the input of energy disengages the natural flow of energy from substance to self.
Making sure you drink clean water, eat healthy natural foods both raw and self cooked, and deep breathing clean air every day is a good way to nourish the body naturally, flowing with nature as opposed to trying to enhance and control it. And of course, eating for necessity, not habit, boredom or entertainment. It is important for a magician to stay as healthy as possible, and eating properly is a part of that.
SOFB MEMBER: In the end of IIH Bardon talks about communing with actual elemental intelligences. Is there a simpler way to connect with them.
Josephine: I am not familiar with the method that Bardon uses, but there are many different ways to commune with elemental and other intelligences. The method I use works through the visionary aspect of magic and outer utterance: first going into stillness, then moving the mind/imagination into the element and being in that space with it. Flowing into a river, the earth, a stone, a fire, a planet – and doing it slowly and without force, allows you to shift your consciousness to the frequency of the element itself. If you do find resistance (all communion with any intelligence should be polite and not forced), then back out. If you find no resistance or a curiosity, then once you are within that element and adjusted to it, communication can then happen.
Or you can work in ritual vision with utterance to call/request the intelligence to come to an inner threshold/space where you can commune on equal terms.
SOFB MEMBERr: Also Bardon was very reserved about Sexual Magic, only mentioning it briefly in IIH. Where does sexual energy place itself in Magic development.
Josephine: Sexual energy is only worked with in certain types of magic, and not with others. It all depends on what sort of magical path you are walking, why you are walking it and what you are hoping to achieve. I understand his reserved attitude to it as it is an area of magic that is highly prone to attracting parasitical beings, and is also a dense and volatile creative energy that misdirected (intentionally or by accident) it can trigger mental health issues in some people.
SOFB MEMBER: Long lasting Addictions can be problematic to change for young practitioners, how can we aid ourselves (Edit:who have these challenges) with this pattern and weak will, are there any spirits from the earth zone or beyond which can help us overcome it ?
Josephine: Spirits or any type of being or consciousness cannot help with such issues, and trying to find a being to help you with such an issue is most likely to attract a parasitical being who will have the opposite effect to what you are looking for. With spirit parasites, they feed off emotional energy (violence, sex, addiction, pain, joy, etc) so if you connect with one, you are less likely to overcome an addiction.
Addictions are complicated as there is often a mix of causation (events, circumstance, genetics, mental health, etc), and magic cannot cure an addiction, only the individual can. The first step is to understand that as an addict, the person will always be an addict, it is whether they choose to feed that addiction or abstain. I know quite a few abstaining addicts, who have after many tries, have cleaned themselves up long term, and they are life long abstaining addicts. Knowing yourself and being truthful with yourself is the first step
SOFB MEMBER: 1. If I remember correctly she is a ballet instructor. What would be her recommended training regimen for IIH neophyte which ensures success?
2.What practice is missing from IIH? What would she add to it?
3. Can she describe the qualities of a well rounded adept?
Josephine: 1- I was a ballet coach, now retired (I am rapidly approaching 60yrs old). I am not sure what the question is here… are you asking about a ballet training regime, a fitness regime or a magical regime? And there is no such thing as a training regime that ensuring success – that is marketing speak. Success comes from discipline, hard work, and not giving up, regardless of what it is you are doing.
2- IIH is a body and mind preparation training. Quareia is a magical training, they do cross over, but they are also very different.. and my own practice is very much individually tailored to the work that I do.. so this is almost impossible to answer.
3- Self gnosis, practical working magical knowledge and experience at an adept level, discipline, determination, truth, more self gnosis, and even more self gnosis, courage, connection with the Divine, a well rounded inner connection, lots of patience, and the understanding of necessity.
SOFB MEMBER: Is there a simpler way to make contact with your HGA aside from that mentioned in IIH?
Josephine: There are lots of ways to become aware of this being, and lots of ways to connect with this being – some are simple but require an established foundation of practice, some are more complicated, and some are just silly. But in truth, awareness of this being, which is always connected to you, can be gained by paying attention and listening… the skill is in knowing what it is you are listening to, and having a frame work of filters in place to filter out any beings masquerading as the HGA. It is not just a magical technique, different religions also have their own methods in their more mystical branches.
But is there an ‘off the shelf’ ritual or working that you can do to throw a switch? No.
SOFB MEMBER: It is just a detail but I am curious to hear her opinion about Bardons prescribed eye bath.and what it would be good for?
Josephine: In general, the eyes are pretty good at looking after themselves: they are designed to self clean and self heal. An eye bath is only worthwhile if something is lodged in the eye or there is a major issue with it, and in such cases it should be with sterile saline or sterile water. It was very fashionable in the early to mid 20th century to ‘take control’ of the body and cleanse it when in fact the body, if looked after in a health balanced way, is best left to do what it is designed to do, which is to self protect, and self clean.
In magical terms, I see no reason for doing this act, as it has no magical consequence at all, and certainly has no effect on inner sight.
I just want to say having finished that, thank you for inviting me, it has been an honour, and it was very interesting answering your questions. I wish everyone well of their respective magical paths! - Josephine