Nightshades
Jan Fries

Featured


Format: Hardback – Cased Matt Laminate A4 216 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-906958-45-9
£24/US$40
Subjects: Aleister Crowley/Kenneth Grant.

“Nightshades is the record of one remarkable magician’s exploration of the inverse regions of the Tree of Life. Aleister Crowley’s Liber 231 provides the map and Kenneth Grant’s Nightside of Eden a travelogue. “Liber 231, apparently started life as a text within the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as an exercise to develop astral and trance abilities or perhaps in other more elaborate rites. The nightside aspect requires some care and alertness in case of accident. The correct attitude is said to be one of self or ego-less witness. Or maybe it’s just one needs the use of an all-embracing rather than a limited kind of identity and self-identification” (mmm)

“The Nightside is always with us. It’s so much older than the Dayside. Before the light began to shine, the night was there. Some assume that we are dealing with a simple polarity. On one hand the radiant world of colours and forms, more or less thinkable, reasonable and meaningful. Like the pretty picture of the Tree of Life it has its scenic cites, its hotels, restaurants, shopping opportunities and highways in between.

On the other hand the chaotic world of uncertain and incomprehensible mysteries. Both of them connected by the voidness that makes them possible. It looks symmetrical. But when you reach the Nightside it doesn’t work like that. The Nightside is not simply a reflection of the dayside with a few confusing and spooky bits thrown in.
The Dayside is a tiny island of experience in a huge ocean, the Nightside, full of currents, island chains and continents of the possible and impossible. All and Nothing are present everywhere. Our island is not the opposite of the world-ocean, it is simply a tiny and comprehensible part of it.” (jf)

Jan Fries Nightshades comprises 72 intense drawings prefaced by an explanatory essay detailing the background and genesis of this ultimate magical adventure.

Visual Magick
Jan Fries


Format: Softcover
ISBN: 1869928571
£11.99/US$22
Subjects: Sigils/Magick.

Suitable for all those inspired by such figures as Austin Spare and Aleister Crowley, and who feel the imperative to develop one’s own unique magick way. Visual Magick aims to build vision, imagination, and creative magick. It shows how magicians, witches, artists and therapists can improve visionary abilities, enhance imagination, activate the inner senses, and discover new modes of Trance awareness. The emphasis is on direct experience and the reader is asked to think, act, do, and enjoy as s/he wills.

Visual Magick began as a small treatise on sigil Magick and automatic drawing circulated privately amongst members of the Maat network, and is written for practising mind explorers of the unorthodox variety.
Review for The Pentacle Magazine www.pentaclemagazine.org by Kate Hoolu

‘No matter what the medium, a talented priest can communicate … without preaching or didacticism. Art shows rather than tells. All great artists function as priests, whether they think of themselves as priests or not.’

If you are an eclectic magickian or shaman, or have any interest in Austin Osman Spare, this is a book for you. Spare said, “All desire, whether for pleasure, knowledge, or power, that cannot find ‘natural’ expression, can by sigils and their formula find fulfillment from the subconscious”. This book is at least in part a modern view of the sigil magick that derives from AOS. But it is much, much more.

Fries has written on several subjects, including the Tao and Rune magick, but this work shows a very good awareness and ability with Spare’s techniques, cross-fertilised with some of the more well-known methods of shamanism and his own innovations; hence the subheading.

Fries makes the important point that sigils can not only be designed by the operator (for whatever magickal purpose) but also RECEIVED from entities too… and in those cases there is often a useful secret to be discovered within the sigil: “it should be noted that, while the sentience behind these sigils appears independent, their aesthetics are usually suited to the personality of the receiver. The best kind contains a blend of known and unknown…half revealed and half concealed”. This also stands as a beautifully short summary of perhaps what Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law are about- obviously it is in AC’s writing style, but has so much more within…. And Kenneth Grant’s work on the Tunnels of Set is supposedly largely based on received sigils.

Regardless of occult debate about whether these received messages derive from a neurological or a non-human source, which is not within the scope of this review, it makes perfect sense for them to appear in this ‘mixed’ manner. If they were completely incomprehensible they would be ignored, and if they were completely ordinary and fully known already, then they would be un-remarkable and pass from consciousness as quickly as yesterday’s newspaper headlines. The half-unknown element makes them all the more tempting and interesting to the magickian, like a partly open door….

Avalanches of really good points are made by JF, which are eminently sensible, humourous and useful. Not for him is gibberish pontificating about very fine points of obscure theory; his stance is very much of the Chaos magician- ‘get off your ass, find what works, use it and keep trying new things’ and get out of your conditioned tunnel realities, rather than relying on dogmatic magickal techniques that often descend from book to book, unchanged and without ever being challenged. He makes the very important point that you must allow yourself to make mistakes, and perceive them as that, and not as something else that is kinder to one’s often bloated magickal self-view:

‘Failure’ is recognized as a threat to ego… the same ego that so happily pretends to have divine power and authority… and so the whole thing is usually considered a ‘challenge’ or ‘ordeal’ in such cases- anything rather than accept that one might be wrong” – Indeed: in magick, strange things happen, to the point where, as Ramsey Dukes has said (somewhere): “cock-up is the word of the Aeon”

As the title suggests, there is a distinctly artistic bent to this work, but you don’t ever need to have sketched anything before to be able to join in with this stuff – it’s not the quality of what you produce, it’s the intent of the experiment: Fries encourages everyone to experiment with drawing sigils, automatic writing etc, but in all of this to take credit or debit for the works created (and the results of using the sigil magick method): “Frequently people need to insist on the ‘automatic’ origins of their creations (and behaviour) when they dare not assume responsibility for them. It’s so much safer to claim ‘I can’t draw but sometimes the spirit of Leonardo comes over me …’ as if that spirit has nothing better to do!… It’s always easier to blame some spiritual agency than to assume the responsibility of recognizing and developing one’s own talents”

Having dealt at length with visual methods, Fries then describes ”Chaos language”, a kind of glossolalia, which can be seen as a way of making auditory sigils with the voice. The book is worth the cover price just for this part. Awesome! Jan Fries:- add him to the growing list of ”people we like”. Superb, inspiring book.’ – KH
‘One of the best books on magick I have read in a long while.’Pagan News

‘A practical modern grimoire.’- The Cauldron