Magic to the People

Magic to the People: Q&A

Shrine at Rogue Chateau

Shrine at Rogue Chateau

Last week I announced the Salon of Magic at Rogue Chateau: a street ministry offering low-cost magic rituals to the people who need them most. In the coming month I’ll be running an Indiegogo campaign to fund the Salon. So far, response was overwhelmingly positive.

The questions also poured in. I wasn’t able to reply to every comment individually last week, so here are a few of your great questions about the Salon, with answers:

Is it safe to invite strangers into your home?

Honestly? No.

While I’d love to trust everyone who comes to me for help, the truth is New Orleans is a very dangerous city. However, in most cases the Salon won’t be inside the house.

This wasn’t clear in the original post, but Rogue Chateau has a private, walled yard I call the Courtyard. Most of the time, all of my spells and ceremonies will be held there. The gate will be open during the appointed times, with a sign out front, and no one has to enter my home.

In rainy weather, however, the Salon will be inside. This is Creole culture. The front door opens directly into the bedroom and that’s where business is conducted. During those times, I’ll use my best judgement; if anyone seems dodgy I will, of course, put safety first.

The Courtyard of magic.

The Courtyard where spells are cast

What about other magicians?

In theory I’m competing with other local practitioners. But I’ve reached out to a number of them and they’re excited about it. Hiring a magician is usually pricey, and the people I’ll serve are unlikely to be poached from the existing customer base. It’s a different audience.

What do your clients put into it?

Successful magic requires the recipient to put in some effort of their own. Since my “clients” won’t be putting in much money, this is a good question.

First, I think that even putting a dollar in the hat represents great dedication for some people.

Second, I will often instruct my clients to activate the spell by making offerings of some sort: burning a candle over the sigil they receive, or doing something in particular. They will be actively involved, and personally accountable for helping shape their future.

Why do a funding campaign?

While I expect not to see much revenue from the Salon—that’s not the point—it does come with up front costs. They include:

  • Publicity. New Orleans is a very word-of-mouth town, and printing fliers and signs will be key to advertising the service.
  • Business line. I will get a dedicated business line so that clients aren’t calling my personal cell phone.
  • Ingredients and offerings. Spells call for all kinds of things. Normally I’d add the cost to what the client pays, and hunt them down on an as-needed basis. With the Salon, I’ll need to have lots of basics on hand and I can’t expect my clients to underwrite the cost.
  • Shrine. The Salon will need a small but functional outdoor shrine. This is where I’ll make offerings and cast spells: a lot of blessings will pass over this altar. I really want to have a sealed envelope with the name of the Salon’s donors in it, on the altar, so they get blessings every time we do a ceremony.

If you have other questions please leave a comment and speak up. Suggestions are welcome too! I expect to launch the funding campaign by the end of the month, running through much of January, and if it succeeds I can start services before Valentine’s Day.

What do you think?

New Orleans, Personal Development, Religion

Magic to the People at Rogue Chateau

Everything I do is founded on my belief that we can change ourselves and, through ourselves, the world.

This involves an essential journey of crisis. It means confronting who you are, and who you wish (or fear) you might become.

Having this held up to us can provoke powerful change. And for that, ceremony is one of the greatest tools we have.

Making Magic Accessible

As you know, I feel a need to be more active as a priest, to work with the people on the street and in the community, and to help them.

I feel called to do that through the practice of magic.

New Orleans is founded on magic. People of all backgrounds rely on it to guide their careers, their relationships and their success. I don’t know if magic has some supernatural power, if mystical forces adjust reality. But magic absolutely has a strong and positive effect on the recipient, helping them change their perspective, their beliefs and their actions.

This can turn entire lives around.

But consulting a magician can be expensive. Our time comes at a premium, and the work we do is intense. Unfortunately, this means the people who need help the most have the hardest time affording it.

I’d like to change that.

New Orleans - November 019

The Salon of Magic

A salon is an open exhibition in a private home. Twice per week, I want to hold a salon where I craft spells for every person who visits. This would be done in the style of a street clinic, supported by free-will donations instead of set fees, and open to anyone. My credo: No one is turned away.

It would work something like this:

  • Doors are open at set times each week. Walk-ins welcome.
  • No fee is solicited. Put a donation in the hat, of whatever amount you feel is right.
  • A portion of the proceeds will be given as charity, a portion goes to me and a portion is used to buy offerings for the spirits who power the spells.
  • There are some requests I’ll turn down (such as curses), but I’ll have an alternative I can offer you (such as a justice spell).
  • The salon will be promoted by flyers and word of mouth in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The power of magic ritual to change lives continues to humble me, and I feel deeply called to do this work.

After discussing this with close friends, I feel the idea is viable and could have a positive impact. Now I turn it over to you, my readers, to get your reaction. Is this needed? Will it make a difference? How can I make it more effective?

If the idea seems strong, I expect to start a Kickstarter campaign to help launch it. Please, leave a comment and tell me what you think.


Magic in the 22nd Century

A minority of people continue to practice traditional magic. Their beliefs—and their art—are often misrepresented. They’re shown as foolishly superstitious or willfully fraudulent.

Addressing an audience of humanist skeptics, I make the case for why we can do better.

Have a look:

Magic in the 22nd Century

Through May 3, 2012 I’m running a contest to give away a seat at the World Domination Summit. Enter now.

Business, Spotlight

Magic Scrolls at Altmagic

I don’t talk about this much here, but I practice ritual magic.

Even though I don’t believe in anything supernatural, I’ve observed profound effects from traditional magical ceremonies. As an art form magic captivates me; as a spiritual practice, it’s hard to surpass.

For a long time I struggled with how to practice and share my magic in a way that’s authentic. Too often when you talk about magic you draw out the weirdos. Other times it brings you under attack from those who think you must be a fraud, or crazy.

Last year I began to combine my magical practice with my artwork. I realized that I can make large, high quality works of art and enchant them. Each piece is nice to look at on its own, and the traditional spells I design them around (and cast on them) add a powerful new dimension to them.

So now I hand craft magical scrolls that can be hung as fine artwork.

For the last three months I’ve blogged about the process at my new business,, with the promise of scrolls to come. At long last the scrolls are complete and ready to ship.

Want to add magic to your life? Check it out: Magic Scrolls Now Available

Some other altmagic posts that are fun to read are:

Three Magic Spells That Are Proven to Work

Looking for Potions at the Witches’ Market

Finding a Carpenter in Mexico City

I don’t plan on promoting altmagic here often. I’ve worked hard to build an audience that includes a range of theists, atheists, humanists, skeptics, believers and faithful. In keeping with that I like to keep my occult peanut butter out of our philosophy chocolate. But if you know people who enjoy art, artwork, or the occult please tell them about altmagic. The more you share the link, the more the word gets out.

I also tweet the best links I find about art +/- magic throughout the day via @altmagic.

In Rogue Priest news, I’ve been going after atheists a bit lately and it’s time to turn the tables. Stay tuned for an upcoming post aimed at bad spiritual ideas instead. It’ll go live as soon as my science inspector finishes the fact checking.

(And how cool is it to have a science inspector??)

Adventure, Mexico City, Travel

Adventure at the Witches’ Market

Everyone seems to love it when I write the stories of my misadventures on the road.

Last week was one of the best yet. Did you know there’s a secret bazaar in Mexico City where witches, priests and wizards gather to buy and sell magic ingredients? I’m not even making this up. I’ve never been to anywhere as cool or special on earth.

You can read the full story of my trip there—and the hunt for magic potions—over at my atelier, altmagic:

Potions at the Witches’ Market

Please share the link so others find it too!

Business, Writing

Life into Digital Clay

Some people don’t like the digital.

Digital is my medium. More than that, it’s my home. In my traveling lifestyle digital spaces are the only constant I share with family, friends and readers.

Digital space is an extension of geographical space. It is no longer just a tool. It’s a meeting place, a dwelling place, a location as real as any coffee shop, art museum or suburban house. Like any of those places, the value of what happens there depends mostly on the company you keep.

Draft of a scroll for altmagic.

Mixing Media

There are people who feel they’re missing something by meeting online, by reading or creating or consuming online. People felt that way about the written word once, too.

There are artists who miss the sense of manual creation.

I feel the opposite. Is it fair to say that creating something digitally is just as satisfying as creating something by hand? No. That doesn’t go far enough. It’s far more satisfying to create something digital.

For the past two years I’ve moved toward almost exclusively digital work. My first book was digital-only, my blog is digital, even my freelance work is digital. But now I’m moving backwards. I decided to start a business that is very much physical.

Two weeks ago I opened the doors on a new website, altmagic. The purpose of the site is to sell beautiful handmade scrolls enchanted with real magic. It’s fun. I’m the kind of artist who works in fits of inspiration: a few long nights are better than a lot of measured mornings.

You can check out these magic scrolls yourself.

Is it satisfying to work in a physical medium again? Yes and no. I enjoy the process of making the scrolls. I love the challenge of choosing the right figures, the thrill of sketching the designs and planning the rituals. I get artless with it.

But it’s also deeply frustrating. There is no copy and paste. No ctrl+z. You can idealize that in any sepia-tinted way, but it translates to: unnecessary work. Wasted effort. Spoiled materials.

But then I made the altmagic website. It’s the second blog I’ve started, and the only one where I knew what I was doing.

As I went live I could directly see the impact my creation has. It shows in numbers on a graph; more importantly it shows in conversations. People contact me. They teach, praise or slander me. They react.

Unlike any other medium, their living reactions are included in the work itself. The twitter feed and the comments embed human moments in the digital work. At its most basic that means that any emotion I provoke can be part of the work I create. But that’s nothing. My audience can actually provoke my creation itself, changing its shape.

Birthing a website means seeing those vital signs start. It’s breathing life into digital clay.