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Comics legend Alan Moore is the author of titles including Watchmen, The

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He is also a


ceremonial magician and co-founded the Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian
Theatre of Marvels. Alan sees an inextricable link between magic and artistic
creativity, which he explored in his Promethea series. Sam Proctor asked him
more
SP: You have said your interest in magic was piqued while you were
researching Freemasonry for From Hell and you announced your intention to
become a ceremonial magician on your 40th birthday. Tell us about what led
you to make such a radical life change.
ALAN: As might be expected, numerous factors entered into the decision. One of these, actually
unrelated to my incidental research into Freemasonry, was a line of dialogue that I had given to From
Hells main character, stating that the one place gods inarguably existed was within the human mind,
where they were real in all their grandeur and monstrosity.
Further consideration of the implications in this casually-written line left me with no apparent way of
refuting it and thus necessitated an adjustment to my previously too-narrow rationality.
The hitherto unexamined territory of magic seemed to me the only area of human knowledge that
potentially might offer some way of resolving these intriguing new ideas. Declaring myself as a
magician, with the attendant risk of ridicule and loss of reputation, seemed to me at the time to be a
necessary first step into a radically extended identity, an opinion that I havent altered since.
Of course, having the nerve to make such a potentially disastrous leap into the intellectual dark was
greatly abetted by the fact that I was in a biker pub celebrating my birthday, the Jazz Butcher was
playing and I was hugely pissed.
What kind of relationship do you have with Glycon and why did you adopt him
as your patron deity?
Id been advised by Steve Moore [the late comics writer, no relation to Alan], who knew about
such things, that a useful entry into magic might be to adopt a god-form as a patron deity and ritual
focus, much as he had done with the Greek moon-goddess Selene. I should either find a divinity
which took my fancy, or let one find me. Shortly thereafter, when Steve was showing me a book of
Late Roman antiquities, I came across a photo of Glycons statue, as unearthed in 1962 at
Constantza in Romania. In that extraordinary image, at once comical and profound, I found what I
was looking for.
After that first instinctual adoption of the snake-god as a personal symbolic deity the relationship
deepened, both through what seemed to be spectacular early contact with the idea form itself back
when I probably still needed spectacular results to convince me that there was any value in the path

Id chosen and through my subsequently deeper understanding of the symbol-entity attained


through careful reading and deliberation.
My relationship with Glycon, though necessarily pyrotechnic 20 years ago, has been internalised as
part of my own personality and processes, which seems more suited to this current and more
focused phase of magical activity through which Im moving, where I have no need for visionary
reassurance.
If anything, Glycon is more real, more present and more fully understood to me now than he was
back during those first dazzling years.
Do you think magic can give us a way of seeing, understanding and relating
to the world and ourselves that science and psychology cannot?
In the forthcoming Moon & Serpent Bumper Book of Magic we argue that consciousness,
preceded by language, preceded by representation (and thus art) were all phenomena arising at
around the same momentous juncture of human development and that all of these would be
perceived as magic, an umbrella term encompassing the radical new concepts born of our discovery
of our new, inner world.
This allows us to offer a definition of magic as a purposeful engagement with the phenomena and
possibilities of consciousness. We then go on to argue that originally, all of human thought and
culture was subsumed within the magic worldview, with the advent of urban society and the rise of
specialised professionals gradually stripping magic of its social functions.
Organised religions first removed its spiritual capacity, while an attendant rise of authors, artisans
and artists would remove its role as the dispensing source of vision. Viziers usurped the shamans
tribal role as a political consultant. This left the still-vital functions of alchemical research, healing
and the investigation of the inner world as fruitful areas of magical endeavour until the Renaissance
and the advent of the Age of Reason delegated the first two of these to the emerging fields of
science and medicine, and around1910 the third was rendered obsolete by Freud and Jungs new
science of psychiatry.
We suggest that the entirety of the culture in which we currently reside is no less than the
dismembered corpse of magic (although somehow still with a seeming capacity for speech) and that
this no-doubt necessary process is exemplified by the alchemic principle of Solv, or analysis.
Our thesis is that what is now required is a complementary process of Coagula, or synthesis, in
order to complete this all-important formula. To this end, we propose that art and magic should be
more closely connected to the massive benefit of both endeavours, as argued in my essay Fossil
Angels, and that the next step should be to enhance the existing bond between the arts and

sciences, including psychiatry, which I have elsewhere characterised, not disrespectfully, as


occultism in a lab coat.
The final, most important and most problematic step would be to foster a connection between
science and politics, ensuring that political decisions are made in the light of current scientific
understanding, utilising the advances science has made in, for example, conflict resolution, to the
betterment of humankind in general.
To finally answer your question, one of the many things that magic offers is a plausible and, I believe,
rational worldview in which science, psychology and all the other fields mentioned above are joined
up and connected meaningfully into the all-embracing, one-stop science of existence they first
emerged from. (Paracelsus, pretty much the father of most modern medical procedure, was also the
first person to employ the term unconscious, some four hundred years before its subsequent
appropriation by psychoanalysis.)
With magic, at least as we define it, the chief benefit in terms of relating to the world is that it offers
us a coherent and sensibly integrated world with which to relate. Also, unlike the other fields of
enterprise mentioned above, excepting only art and creativity, magic is centred wholly on the
principles of ecstasy and transformation, things we believe to be the pivot of human experience and
therefore sorely lacking in contemporary society.

You once said youd heard it reported


that Einstein kept a copy of Blavatskys The Secret Doctrine open on his desk.
He worked in a very imaginative way and said arrived at his theories through
visualisation. Is there a barrier that needs to come down between the
material and occult sciences that could benefit mainstream science?
Einstein offers us a good example. He claimed that he had received the inspiration for his work on
relativity while in a kind of visionary daydream where he pictured himself running neck-and-neck
beside a beam of light. James Watson, co-discoverer with Francis Crick of the DNA molecule,
allegedly deduced the structure from a dream of spiral staircases.
Sir Isaac Newton was an alchemist who shoehorned indigo into the spectrum in accordance with the
alchemical fondness for the number seven.

It could be argued that when science and magic were first separated, each lost something vital:
science gave up its ability to address any kind of inner world, while magic to a certain extent would
seem to have forfeited much of its intellectual discrimination. As outlined above, a reintegration of
these divorced areas of human consideration would, I feel, be of great benefit to all parties
concerned.
You see an inextricable link between magic, imagination and creativity, an
idea stressed in your Promethea series. Tell us about that connection.
As previously stated, it is my position that art, language, consciousness and magic are all aspects of
the same phenomenon. With art and magic seen as almost wholly interchangeable, the realm of the
imagination becomes crucial to both practices.
The kabbalistic lunar realm of the imagination is called Yesod, this being a Hebrew word which
means Foundation. This suggests that the imagination is the sole foundation upon which all our
higher mental functions are dependent and, also, through which they are accessible. Magic, in our
formulation, seems intimately involved with creativity and with creation, in whatever sense we mean
those terms.
Promethea has been described as a kabbalistic road trip and gives a
breathtaking overview of the occult sciences. It opens the door onto that
world and seems to invite people to learn more about it. Was that your
intention?
My original intention with Promethea, a title which I do not own and thus spend little time thinking
about these days, was to create a more imaginative and better-conceived model for a modern
superhero comic, using the Margaret Brundage cover girls and Leigh Brackett heroines of the pulp
era as my starting point.
Within an issue or two, I began to see how such a character might be evolved so as to lucidly
express the magical ideas that had by then for some time been right at the centre of my thinking and
my whole approach to creativity.
In the later stages of the story full episodes are devoted to exploring each
sephirah on the Tree of Life. Is it true that you wrote about the states the
characters experience in them while you were in a state of ritual meditation?
I had begun exploring the lower sephirah some time before commencing my work on Promethea,
spheres six to 10 investigated by a combination of invented ritual and psychedelic drugs.
When I reached that point in my kabbalistic road trip, I needed to experience the higher spheres in
order to authentically convey them to the reader. One sphere, Chokmah, was attained using the

above method, while for the others I decided to see if the intense meditation of creative writing itself
would be sufficient as a means of entering those separate realms of consciousness and being.
Using the criterion that if you cant imagine the experience then you havent properly attained the
sphere, I found I was able to investigate all of the higher spheres to my satisfaction.
Kether was a partial exception, in that I ate a large piece of hashish, wrote the first three pages of the
issue and then pretty much passed out.
The Promethea strips cram in esoteric knowledge on multiple levels. Beyond
the words and outline images, for instance, the sephirah episodes use colour
schemes appropriate to the world addressed. This is reminiscent of the
Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot, which uses sephirah colours and flashing colours
on backgrounds so that users can soak up information in a quick visual hit.
The level of detail in Promethea is staggering was it planned as a complete
vision before work began or did it grow and develop on the hoof?
As implied above, the initial impetus was towards a much more conventional narrative and the
project seemed to develop instinctually and organically as we progressed.
On the subject of the kabbalistic colour schemes, having by then absorbed the lesson that, while the
numbers, jewels, plants, animals, perfumes and deities are attributes of the various sephiroth, the
colours are said to be the sephiroth themselves.
Although we werent sure if the various colour scales would be appropriate in terms of modern
comics publishing, we decided to stick with the idea and, thanks to the extraordinary work of Jeromy
Cox, were rewarded with a beautifully involving demonstration of the atmospheric power of
kabbalistic decor.

Artist JH Williams III said creating the Abyss issue


in Promethea took its toll on all involved in the project. Were there any other
significant experiences during the creation of the series?
Well, there was my experience preceding the creation of the Chokmah issue, which took place in
Steve Moores company on the night of Friday, April 12th, 2002, when we were attempting to
establish whether anyone else could see the moon goddess that hed spent the last month or so
attempting to materialise, as recounted in my psycho-biographical narrative, Unearthing.
Not only was the experiment an apparent success but that was the same evening that a voice inside
my head (unusually, my own voice, although seemingly detached from my volition) told me that I had
become a Magus, which, delusory or not, I decided to take seriously. I also received a very firm
conviction that Promethea #32 would be the final issue and would somehow be constructed so that it
converted to a double-sided psychedelic poster.
After Steve had departed I wrote and typed the Chokmah issue it was issue #22, something like
that in under seven hours in a characteristically Chokmah-like spurt of unformed and spontaneous
energy. Still not a patch on Moorcock at his nippiest, but something of a personal best at the very
least.
Since then, my life and my perceptions have been noticeably different.
You have always disowned film adaptations of your works and insist that they
cant translate between the mediums as directors Zac Snyder and Stephen
Norrington proved with Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen respectively. It is obvious that Promethea could not have worked
in any other medium. Why are comics such a different experience?

Im not sure that comics are actually a different experience, so much as Im convinced that almost
any adaptation of a narrative into a medium for which it was not intended is very probably going to be
pointless, if not a complete trivialisation and distortion of the original viable idea.
Part of the pleasure of reading a comic is that the images on the page are not moving or making a
noise, forcing the audience to do more of the genuinely pleasurable and involving work of
constructing the story for themselves, just as its famously stated that the pictures are better on radio,
to which we might add that the voices are more convincing in a book.
Have there actually been any rumblings about a screen adaptation of
Promethea?
Given the lack of connection between me and either the mainstream comic industry or the film
industry, I wouldnt have heard anything, or expressed any interest if I had.
I would have hoped that people would have learned that bringing disowned former ideas of mine to
the big screen against my best advice tends to lead to a flood of anarchists stampeding across the
world stage dressed as the main character from V for Vendetta. An attempt to
film Promethea would almost certainly result in the apocalypse but thats probably more a matter
to take up with Warner Bros, rather than with me.
Promethea is the latest in a long line of female leads you have written,
stretching back to the mould-breaking Halo Jones in 2000AD. What attracted
you to writing female leads?
I dont think Ive done more stories with female leads than with male ones. If there seems a
preponderance of female characters in my work, thats probably born of an attempt to address the
gender imbalance prevalent across culture by emphasising the female perspective in my small part
of that culture.
On the other hand, my almost-complete HP Lovecraft series, Providence, has hardly any female
characters and, given that this work is derived from the notoriously female-averse Lovecraft, most of
the ones who do feature turn out to be appalling monsters.
I should perhaps point out that this is Lovecrafts probable perception of womankind, rather than my
own.
In your Fossil Angels essay of 2002 you suggest the ritual and language
surrounding magic has conspired to keep people out. Was Promethea a way of
breaching these barriers and awakening the masses to the magical
traditions?

The entire agenda of the Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (of
whichPromethea was clearly an unofficial part) since its inception has been to express the ideas of
magic in as beautiful and lucid a way as possible.
In our Bumper Book of Magic we go further and demand that modern magicians position
themselves at the very centre of society rather than skulking at its margins, engaging with science,
art, politics, philosophy and social issues as if they had every right to, and thus reconnecting magic
with the population that it was initially designed to serve and to enlighten.
You were working on the Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic with the
late Steve Moore. The work aims to present esoteric knowledge in a totally
down to earth manner. Would it be fair to say that the work is a logical next
step from Promethea and what stage is the book at?
It would be more accurate to say that Promethea was an instructive first attempt, an unofficial Moon
& Serpent offering that helped shape our ideas for the more serious grimoire that wed always talked
of one day perpetrating.
The final essay is concluded, although I still have some sections of the book that I need to go back
and finish and were assigning artists to the various sections as we speak. Im thinking 2016 at the
earliest.
What sources have you found most helpful on your own magical journey?
Everything that Ive read has been in some way useful to me, even the demented bilge that
sometimes swills around the field, which gives one some instruction on how not to think.
On the positive side, Id have to say Robert Anton Wilsons work was massively enlightening, that
William Blake and Austin Osman Spare provided some invaluable pointers and that above all the
single biggest influence upon my magic practice and my magic theory is, assuredly, the late Steve
Moore.
In Fossil Angels you argued the need for a sea change in attitudes towards
magic. Do you think anything has changed since it was written?
Usually, these ideas take years or decades before they eventually snowball into visibility. Im sure
there have been minor changes here and there, but wouldnt expect to see a reaction yet.
I think theres more work to be done upon defining or redefining the public identity of magic before a
significant number of people would be prepared to take such a proposition seriously.
More artists seem to be opening up to magical working and being open
about it. Fellow comics writer Grant Morrison is a devotee of Chaos magic who
referred to his Invisibles series as a hypersigil. What do you make of the work
that is being created by such practitioners?

Im afraid I have no interest in Grant Morrison or his work and do not consider him to be either a
writer or a magician. With regard to Chaos magic, from a Moon & Serpent point of view it seems that
this was simply a more punk-themed English version of the largely Californian New Age movement,
with both insisting upon simple (and simplistic) magic systems that would bring solely material
benefits without any need for dreary scholarship or discipline, the latter styling itself on the worst
rainbow-and-unicorn excesses of the 1960s and the former draping itself in the wardrobe of Joey
Ramone from only ten years later.
With Chaos magics recent move from conjuring the gods of HP Lovecraft to magically interacting
with the Discworld entities of Terry Pratchett, it appears that both this and the New Age movement
were perhaps more properly extensions of fantasy fandom, an attempt at astral cosplay, than they
were sincere attempts at furthering the cause of magic.
You rate Austin Osman Spare highly as both artist and magician. Has he been
a big influence on your magic and your art?
Of course. After William Blake, whom he admired, Spare is the most visible example of our
equivalence between magic and art. As an artist, he had a unique and singular source of inspiration.
As a magician, his talent was the next best thing to a Polaroid camera recording where hed been
and making the experience accessible to ordinary, uninitiated individuals.
In Austin Osman Spare I see a near-perfect magician, at least according to my own lights, and by the
same standard at the same time see an almost perfect artist. Similarly, as with Blake, I cant help but
note and admire the fiery individual moral core that both men situated at the centre of their practice
and their lives.
As Ive said before, we have no reason to assume that magic is a morally neutral force, like
electricity. In fact, Im not even sure about electricity.
Like yourself, Austin Osman Spare was unimpressed by the pomp and
ceremony of organised groups and was very much his own man. He also
believed in selecting the strands of different traditions that worked for him to
form his own model, again something that chimes with comments you have
made previously. Would you say you are driven by a gnostic principle?
Well, to an extent, in that I think it very likely Christianity is a misunderstanding and a gross
literalising of Gnostic symbolism, but the Gnostics had themselves absorbed the teachings of bygone
traditions such as Neo Platonism and Pythagorean teachings.
Ultimately, I identify with the first principles of shamanism, although Im happy to draw upon all of the
fields astonishing developments since its primordial inception.

Austin Osman Spare was an advocate of automatic


drawing. Have you ever used an automatic writing technique to arrive at or
develop ideas?
The only occasion I can actually remember attempting to utilise automatic techniques was when
working with my friend and musical associate Joe Brown upon a song that was, appropriately, based
on Spares life and techniques.
We sampled a variety of real-life incidental sounds, including struck or rubbed glass and the sound of
breathing, and then Joe removed his shoes and socks and played the sample-laden keyboard with
his toes, producing an enormous stream of unlistenable random noise from which we extracted a
couple of accidentally interesting minutes and then looped them, using the resultant melody to
generate the Spare-related lyrics. Maybe we should go back and finish that sometime.
Is the bardic tradition in Druidry and its tapping of the Awen something you
can relate to?
Certainly. The Bardic tradition of magic, when satires were justifiably more feared than curses and
when the creator was respected as a powerful magician rather than as someone getting by out on
the fringes of the entertainment industry, is one that todays artists, occultists and writers would do
well to reacquaint themselves with. You can kill or cure with a word. Get off of your knees.
Do you see ceremonial magic as something accessible and unproblematic for
everyone, be they Druid, Heathen, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever?
Well, if people are immersed in what Robert Anton Wilson referred to as a reality tunnel, and its a
religious mindset that construes the magical as non-existent, evil or forbidden, then engaging with it
will hardly prove accessible and unproblematic. I believe it best to enter magic with a genuinely open
mind and no lust of result. If your mind isnt voluntarily receptive on the way in, then its much more

likely to be crow-barred open by the magical experience itself, with possibly disastrous
consequences.
Religious or rationalistic preconceptions, I believe, amount to what Blake termed our mind-forged
manacles and may prove antithetical to actual progress in the subject.
You are a famously stalwart Northamptonian. Is part of this to do with a link
you feel with the land and your ancestors?
I feel connected to the historical, geographical, socio-political and genetic processes from which I
have resulted. Also, by remaining in one place you get a deeper understanding of its meaning and
significance, and, by extension, the significance to be discovered in any location, anywhere.
And of course, as Spike Milligan remarked, everybodys got to be somewhere.
Tell us about the workings you have performed as part of the Moon and
Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels. Having spent most of your career
at the keyboard, how important is that kind of live performance to you?
At the time of the performances, it felt like that what was what we were being instructed to do. Ive
always enjoyed performance within limits. Its a very different experience from working at the
keyboard, as you remark.
However, lately Ive found myself turning down offers for live appearances and live performance. It
just doesnt seem to be the thing that I most need to focus on at present.
Finally, do you have any advice for fledgling magicians and artists reading
this?
Yes. Remember that when I say that magic and art are equivalent, you should not construe that I am
saying that magic is only art; that Im in some way attempting to downplay magic by conflating it with
something everyone believes is commonplace and possible.
What I am actually saying is that art is only ever magic, that all of the spectacular rewards said to be
achievable by magic are attainable through art, and all of the nightmarish horrors and dangers
reputed to be implicit in magic are similarly attendant upon the artist or the writer.
Approach your work with as much awe, compassion, intelligence and practical caution as you would
bring to an encounter with a supposed angel, god or demon. Art can kill you or can drive you mad as
certainly as any of the six dozen performers in the Goetia of Solomon and if you doubt me then
consider all the crushed or suicided artists, poets and performers, easily as long a list as that
containing Edward Kelly or Jack Whiteside Parsons.

Art and magic are perhaps the greatest human works and are an interface with the eternal. Take
them seriously; take yourself seriously and remember that your art and magic are as big, as
powerful, as dangerous and beautiful as you yourself are able to conceive of them as being.
Dont pursue them in the hope of wealth, power, fame or notoriety, or as a style accessory, but for
their own sake. This is the meaning of devotion and if properly applied it can transform you and the
world that you exist in.
Oh, and find yourself a god or its equivalent or, better, let a god or its equivalent find you. I would
suggest a god with good hair, although that may be merely a personal preference. Good luck.