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The Magick Destroyer in Your Pocket

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on November 20, 2013 | Comments (9)

This post is coming out late because I was in Las Vegas giving workshops over the weekend.

Sometimes, in the most unlikely of places, I get an epiphany. In this instance my received information occurred in a most unlikely place: Caesar’s Palace…or rather, next to it.

I needed to get a replacement battery for my laptop, and one of the places that had it was in a high-end mall known as the Forum Shops that had been added to the Caesar’s Palace hotel and casino. 800px-Caesars_Palace,_Las_Vegas_(5527011351)

Photo by Pedro Szekely under Creative Commons license

This giant, indoor mall currently has over 160 high-end shops and 11 gourmet restaurants. It brings in more money than any other mall in America—including Minnesota’s Mall of America, the largest mall in the country. It is said to have higher sales per square foot than the famous stores for the uber-rich in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive.

There are several reasons it brings in so much money. The first, of course, is the famous “location, location, location.” People come from all over the world to see this mall and spend money in its expensive stores. The mall is a hot spot for seeing celebrities as it attracts famous movie and music stars (I didn’t see any). There’s even valet parking for shoppers. Another reason is the ersatz beauty, allowing you to enter another world.

Most indoor malls look like, well, indoor malls. Here, through the use of lighting, paint, and plaster, you get the feeling that you have entered another world, a world of eternal sunset. 800px-LasVegas-CaesarsPalace-Mall1

Interior view of Forum Shops showing how it eternally appears to be a shopping center at sunset.
Photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist under Creative Commons license

Even if you don’t intend to buy anything there—and I quickly obtained exactly what I needed and then, due to time constraints, I left—it is a unique experience. I saw many people having their pictures taken to show their family and neighbors that they really had been there. With scenes like this:

563px-The_HDR_Files_IV_-_Shopping_at_Caesars_(6021383373)Photo by Bert Kaufmann under Creative Commons license

it’s really easy to understand why this place is popular.

And that’s when a guy walked right into me.

I’m sure you’ve seen this same thing dozens of times. Someone is walking down the street, staring at his or her phone, totally oblivious to the world around them, and they walk into something…or someone. 1C4378029-original.blocks_desktop_mediumAfter being bumped into by a phone-staring tourist, I noticed there were several people who were totally ignoring the sights of the mall. As I drove away I noticed more people walking down the street, totally drawn away from reality into the false reality of their phones.

I remember when cell phones first hit the market. They were supposed to free you up and give you more time. Now, they’re so “smart,” they take away time, allowing addicts to stare at their messages and email in the desperate hope that something important will flash on its screen. I realized that I’d been to festivals and conventions where people had their heads buried in their phones. You could be talking with them while they look and then say, “One second; I just have to answer this message…”

If you’re a doctor, that conceivably could be true. Otherwise, you do not own that smart phone…it owns you.

Consider this: if your battery had run down, or if the phone hadn’t signaled you with a sound or vibration, and the result was that you didn’t answer that message or email RIGHT NOW, how would your life or the life of the person sending you that note, be different? What if the message to you were delayed by 15 minutes? What about a half hour? Instead, people walk down the street, staring at their phones, missing the world around them; missing out on the world around them.

In a previous post I wrote about what I call “Environmental Awareness,” by which I mean “being aware of things immediately in your surrounding area.” It’s also described as “being here now,” and focusing on what you are doing. This “living in the present, in my opinion, is an important part of magick. In my experience, people without environmental awareness tend not to be good magicians.”

I have nothing against smart phones or tablets. Before bringing them out to use them, however, at least take a moment to look around you. When you’re walking, put them away. This is far more the path of a magician that that of being controlled by a piece of plastic, metal, silicon, and glass. Curiously, even people I know who claim to be spiritual become oblivious to reality and ignore the world as they bury their faces in their phones. The next time you go into a restaurant, you’ll probably see two people at the same table, perhaps out on a date, looking at their phones rather than actually communicating with each other.

Magickal Freedom: The Weaning

Returning to observing the real world, the people in it, and improving your environmental awareness can be painful, but you can wean yourself from the hypnotic phone. This is not an original idea. I first came upon it (in relation to newspapers and TV news) in a small book called SSOTBME by Ramsey Dukes (pen name of Lionel Snell). Originally published in 1975 and one of, if not the first modern book to republish the art of A.O. Spare, it makes the suggestion that you try not listening to the news and always read newspapers one day later than when they are printed. You’ll notice the in spite of your not reading, listening to or watching the news, the world is in no worse and no better condition than they were the day before.

In my opinion, the world has speeded up since SSOTBME was first published 38 years ago. So I’m not suggesting you should ignore your messages for a day. What I am suggesting is that great magicians tend to live in the present moment. When doing magick, they do magick. When walking, they walk. When reading, they read. When cooking, they cook. When making love, they make love. By being focused on the present moment and living their lives to the fullest, powerful magicians are able to focus their energies, their interests, and their passions into achieving their desires.

So if your magick isn’t as successful as you would like, or if you would like to experience even more powerful magick, the method may be as simple as putting down the phone, becoming more aware of your environment, and living in the present.


 Live Interview with me on “Pagan Propensities”

Tomorrow: Thursday, November 21, 2013
9:00 p.m. Eastern——6:00 p.m. Pacific

Tune in and listen: http://paraencountersnetwork.com

If you miss it at the time of the show it will be uploaded to YouTube by the next morning.

Reader Comments

Written By Dave
on November 20th, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who objects to the constant use of cellphones. Here’s part of the reason why:

About 10 years ago my wife and I went out to eat. Cellphones were just then becoming common. Some guy was talking very loudly on his cellphone at a nearby table. He was a diesel mechanic and was waiting for a customer driving a big rig to pull up in front of the cafe. He was going into great detail about how he would probably have to sandblast one part of the engine and oil another part. Excruciating detail. I got more and more upset at this obnoxious guy. I just wanted a nice quiet meal. After a few minutes I began to feel SO GUILTY. It could have been so much worse…. the guy could have been a proctologist!!

Written By sherrie
on November 20th, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

If I was on a date and my date was on his cell phone,that would be the end of the date! I use mine and even have a vibrate when someone posts on Facebook lol, but, I do draw the line! I also go to the mts. at a camp my friend has every summer for about 6 wks. We sleep in a huge sleeping tent,with our air mattress and pillows, blankets etc. Have nice bonfires, hike and swim in the creek! Right in the middle of the forest! Yes I do have my cell phone charged! I just refuse to give my phone more attention than Life! I am happy I can find the “happy medium”! Your article is sad but true! I wish more people will realize it before they miss out on too much more!

Written By Edward
on November 21st, 2013 @ 3:14 am

I agree with you completely. Although it is nice to have a bit of a library (including “Modern Magick” in my pocket and an office for taking notes. I like your advice about slowing down and living in the moment.

Written By Judith
on November 21st, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

I don’t have a cell phone. I am not keen on regular phones either.

Many people are noticing how little connected humans are to nature as we stay inside or are mesmerized by electronic gadgets. It’s mistake to miss the world around you. We have such short lives and to give enormous attention to this false reality is a grim waste.

And for what, some other person sending you an ephemeral joke that you won’t remember. There is quite a resurgence in nature sketching and “urban sketching” lately. I think because people need to sit and be quiet and observe and breathe and see the light and sit in the rain and experience something other than a glowing screen of some kind.

Written By Mike
on November 25th, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

Hi Don: I camped next to you with some friends at Sacred Harvest 2008. We all had some interesting, and sometimes very funny discussions around the campfire that week. I have also been to the forum shops, very beautiful, and some great restaurants there also.

Don’t usually comment on blogs, but this is something that I have also been noticing and have become concerned about recently, I am so glad that you posted this. I have my own name for someone who is constantly walking around with their smart phone in their hand and cannot bear to put it down for an instant, usually in case they miss finding out what one of their friends had for lunch, etc. I refer to them as “Plug-Ins.”

I always thought that it would be cool for someone to put up a website of photo’s of people who are, as you described, walking through a very beautiful or interesting area, but are staring at the 4 inch screen in their hand instead of noticing their environment. The site could be called, “Plug-Ins on Parade.” I have even seen them walking in herds, say 3 to 7, all staring at the devices in their hands and not talking to each other. The disturbing aspect of this is that there have been some fictional ideas of where this could all eventually lead, for instance as “assimilating to the Borg” in the Star Trek mythos, or becoming a Cyberman in the world of Dr. Who. All it takes is for technology to advance to where the cell phone becomes an implant in one’s head instead of a hand held device.

I agree with you about paying attention to your surroundings as an act of Magick or meditation. One of the training exercises in the development of Magickal abilities is to be able to concentrate or visualize one thing in detail for a period of time. Constant distractions in life work against that process.

And if Pagans are so concerned about Nature and our environment, we should at least be observing it and our place in it, or eventually we become so enthralled with the flickering screens that eventually we will be all living in a tin can in space with the screen never shutting down. I do think that technology has it’s place, but it is better as a servant than a master. I think that this post could be the start of an important discussion in the Pagan and Magickal communities on this subject.

Written By Ramsey Dukes
on December 7th, 2013 @ 11:14 am

Delighted by reference to SSOTBME – thanks! (though I’m not sure that the bit you referred to was not in Thundersqueak).

The idea of discovering magick by focusing on the here and now remains strong with me. In fact it is fundamental to my more recent book “How to See Fairies” where I show people how to develop clairvoyance not by abstracting towards some spiritual concept but rather by turning up the senses, In particular a walking meditation that is very effective in bringing one in high awareness to the here and now.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on December 7th, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

Thank you, Ramsey. I’m delighted that you’ve seen my blog. I’ve been a fan of your writing since the original SSOTBME (I bought the 1st edition when it came out). It’s possible the reference came from Thundersqueak rather than SSOTBME as I find all of your concepts blending into new directions rather than isolated. To readers of my blog, I strongly recommend any of the books by Ramsey Dukes. If you have something new you’d be interested in publishing with us, please let me know!

Written By Michael M. Hughes
on March 15th, 2014 @ 12:20 am

I just stumbled across this tonight. I wrote about “the pact” we make with our devices last year, and I think there’s some resonance with this post:


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