The Genius & The Great Work

“The magician’s most important invocation is that of his Genius, Daemon, True Will, or Augoeides” writes Peter Carroll in Liber Null. “This operation is traditionally known as attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is sometimes known as the Magnum Opus or Great Work.”

In this episode, we explore magic and the Genius.

Looking back over the history of esotericism and occultism, there can be no denying that many of its better-known practitioners attempted to uncompromisingly embody their Genius or True Will. Many were widely traveled and most were accomplished, creative individuals (writers, poets, actors, and so on). And their legacy, though not well-known, has influenced creators over the centuries and decades.

  • Founded in New York City by Russian emigre Mme. Helena Blavatsky, Theosophy (an esoteric movement of the late 19th century, now largely forgotten) was an influential force in anti-colonial politics in India and Sri Lanka.
  • Probably the world’s most notorious and publicity-seeking occultist Aleister Crowley was also a poet, novelist, painter, mountaineer, and boxer.
  • Austin Osman Spare, the inventor of modern-day sigil magic, was also, of course, a highly accomplished artist, who was exhibited by the Royal Academy at the age of 15, and who later worked as a war artist in World War I.
  • A self-described “witch,” influenced by Jung, Kabbalah, and witchdraft, Rosaleen Norton was a visionary artist.
  • Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposphy, was also the founder of the Waldorf school system, the creator of biodynamic farming, an artist, and an architect.
  • And, of course, the membership of the early Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn included poet laureate W. B. Yeats, actress Florence Farr, and theater producer Annie Horniman.

Today, occultism can be studied at university (under the more respectable sounding title of “Western esotericism”). And, no longer the purview of a few dozen eccentrics in England, Wicca has been featured in women’s magazines and teenage movies.

Contemporary, popular occultism is a form of ersatz religion — a prepackaged identity that allows for just enough individuality for the individual to feel that they are dangerous, even though, generally, they are not.

“Society insists on conformity and is therefore the greatest enemy of the genius,” notes Kyler James. The craven desire for acceptance by society kills the genius within us.

As such, it is easy to forget that as a creative force, occultism or magic is fundamentally about the daemon or the genius. Hence, in the most literal sense, Crowley receiving the revelation of Liber Al vel Legis from his holy guardian angel Aiwass (if you believe Crowley’s account), Spare evoking the atavisms that lay deep in his unconscious, the visions of Rosaleen Norton, or the paintings and poetry of other occultists, misunderstood, misrepresented, and hated by the media in their day. We might add, too, that the emphasis on entering “gnosis” by the early Illuminates of Thanateros was, again, an attempt to contact one’s Genius.

Angel Millar is the author of The Three Stages of Initiatic Spirituality and Path of The Warrior-Mystic: Being A Man In An Age of Chaos. He is also a mentor and consulting hypnotist, working with individuals to develop themselves and achieve their goals in life. You can learn more about his work at

The Masonic Path To Enlightenment: Jonti Marks

Described as a “devotional Mason,” Jonti Marks is the author Hiram’s Way: Meditations On The Masonic Path To Enlightenment (published by Lewis Masonic), among other books. Over the last quarter of a century, he has lived in England, Zambia, and Kenya. And, in 1990, he was initiated into Freemasonry in Nairobi. He developed a deep interest in spirituality early in his adult life, and this interest has led him to “temples, mosques, synagogues and churches; to teachers and teachings of East and West.”

In this interview, we discuss the Masonic path of initiation, enlightenment, and some of the world’s spiritual traditions.

You can find out more about Jonti at his website here and at Masonic Meditations, here. And you can find Hiram’s Way at Lewis Masonic here.

You can also find out more about Ange Millar here.

Cagliostro & The Egyptian Rite Of Freemasonry: Philippa Lee

Freemasonry, magic, Kabbalah, and alchemy all fused together in Count Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry. In this interview, Philippa Lee (AKA Philippa Faulks) discusses Cagliostro’s life, his Egyptian Rite, alchemy, Egyptology, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and important, lesser-known esotericists such as Martines de Pasqually.

Philippa is the author of The Masonic Magician, Cagliostro: The Unknown Master, and Modern Mantras, among other books. She is also currently the editor of The Square magazine. You can find out more about her work here.

The self-styled “count” Cagliostro is believed to have been initiated into a Masonic lodge, attached to the Rite of Strict Observance, in London in 1776. A decade later, he attended the Lodge of Antiquity in London. During that time, he also founded his Egyptian Rite, which drew upon alchemy, Kabbalah, and related esoteric phenomena.

Although it died out after a few years, much of its ritual was adopted by the Rites of Memphis and Misraim. It was also the first esoteric Rite to be inspired by the idea of the Mysteries of ancient Egypt (though we find Egyptian aesthetics turning up in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and A.M.O.R.C., among other esoteric and occult Orders later on).