The Magick of Margaret Bruce

Margaret Bruce is as unknown now as she was when living and working at her isolated farm retreat deep in the countryside. There is next to nothing about her on the Internet. Yet she wrote and privately published what may be the most original and instructional book on the subject since Eliphas Levi’s Transcendental Magic.

Margaret Bruce Magick: Daemon

No sooner is a temple built to God, but the devil builds a chapel hard by (Herbert)

Belief  alone makes your world what it is. You have been conditioned to believe in illusion. Let me teach you to believe in reality!

Those who see me as the Sphinx, propounding riddles, are those who have difficulty understanding most other things in life. But others may say, as was said of Lady Godiva, “She reveals too much!” Let them take comfort however. The greatest Occult Secret of all, proclaimed in ringing tones from every rooftop in the land would be perfectly safe.

Few occult students appreciate the arrogance of their demands. Many an enthusiastic young hopeful, armed with regalia, ritual and Words of Power, sets out to invoke some Cosmic Entity only to find that his boss wants him to work overtime that evening. The hilarious incongruity of the situation fails to register and his appointment with the Cherubim and Seraphim is postponed sine die while he helps with the stock taking.

The following legend is emblazoned inside the front cover of the book, Margaret Bruce’s coveted collection of Tried, Proven and Practical Natural, Goetic, Theurgic, Transcendental and Illusory MAGICK as inherited, professed and practiced through seven generations from the year of Our Lord 1777 to the present day.

TAROT CARD NUMBER TEN

Margaret Bruce Magick: Drop-cap

N the Temple of HATHOR served a priest called Nefer-hotep. His path from Zelator to Magus took threescore years and led through realms of Fire and Ice and many ordeals. One day a woman gave alms at the Temple. A group of actors and clowns, seeing the coins, were filled with envy and greed. Exchanging their motley for priestly robes, they banged on drums and blew trumpets to attract the crowds. “Miracles and Blessings for sale!” they shouted; and soon the simpletons in the town were flocking to buy. When the simpletons found they had been swindled, the clowns were far away, selling more Miracles to more simpletons.

The clowns grew ever bolder in their new trade and their boasting grew sillier. Each tried to outdo the other and they squabbled and fought among themselves. “I can make the old young again!” cried one. “I can transform goats into maidens!” screamed his rival. Until even the simpletons could see that, for all their priestly garb, the clowns were nothing more than clowns.

A thrice told lie is believed by the liar, and the clowns began to believe they had miraculous powers. Thus came their downfall. For Nefer-hotep was hated by the Demons he had exorcised in the past but they could not harm him because his Heart, when weighed in the balance of THOTH was not one breath lighter or heavier than the Sacred Feather of MAAT.

But the Demons saw the clowns in priestly garments and smelled the corruption beneath the stolen robes of office. So entered the Demons into the souls of the clowns and destroyed them, thinking they had destroyed their enemy Nefer-hotep. The flesh of the clowns fell from their bones and the serpent made her nest in their skulls until, in time, the bones themselves became dust; and this dust mingled with the sands of the desert and was borne upon the wind. Their names, if names they ever had, are forgotten.

The Temple of HATHOR remains. Nefer-hotep remains.

And a new band of strolling clowns and actors approaches.

And the Demons wait with infinite patience.

Margaret Bruce MAGICK

Each chapter of MAGICK by Margaret Bruce, her only (known) published work, is a single page, lavishly illuminated with antique line drawings and arabesque motifs. The pages are not numbered but the text is printed on different coloured papers, as Bruce explained in her Preface.

This is not simply a book of Magick, but a Magick book. The pages are unlimited by numbers and the Magick dwells in the pauses between the reading of each word and the turning of each page. Just as music is mere noise without the measured periods of nothing between the notes and chords, so the art and craft of Magick comprises the placing of apparent nothings in dynamic relationship with apparent realities in order to create a desired result. In order to do this, it is necessary to learn the difference between illusion and reality—a task which may be attempted by perhaps one suitable person in a million. Of a million such aspirants, one partial success might be an optimistic estimate. The ability of the reader to comprehend this basic fact is all that limits the Magick of this book.

Margaret Bruce Magick: LyonesseWhen I came back from Lyonesse with magic in my eyes… The photograph (left) is of Margaret Bruce as a child of six years. It is placed with ‘Images Within Images’, on the centre pages of the book—which was “written, designed and printed from the outsides towards  the middle, the page numbers are only in your mind”. What little is known about Margaret Bruce derives either from what she disclosed in her book and letters, or that resides in the memory of those who were fortunate to have corresponded with her. She was a recluse, living in a remote farmhouse surrounded by rescued animals, and would not entertain human visitors. All proceeds from her apothecary and the book went to Margaret Bruce’s Animal Sanctuary for neglected and ill-treated farm animals and wildlife. Her grandfather was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and collected a huge store of arcane knowledge, including secrets of incenses, oils and all manner of potions and charms. It is clear that he passed on this knowledge, gathered from translating countless manuscripts and much more besides, to his daughter.

According to Margaret Bruce, some of the recipes were from Voodoo Queen Octavia Labeau.

When she visited Britain in 1909 to demonstrate clairvoyance to the Spiritualist groups she stocked up with perfumes from my grandparents and allowed my grandmother to copy some 600 recipes and spells from the hand written minute-book she carried on her travels. These recipes, translated from the curious Creole French of Madame Labeau’s original, now form part of my own hand written grimoire that runs to several volumes.

It is not known whether the precious grimoire still exists. We first knew of Margaret Bruce through Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, co-founder of the SOL Association, who gave us the recluse’s address in Ireland. From there we requested her catalogue and soon became regular customers. Her incense, oils and other products were of unsurpassed virtue. The little book, MAGICK, is among the most highly valued of rare books in our library.

All sanity, all reality, all nature is, together with magick, retreating from the suffocating menace of mankind. If you wish to discover real magick perhaps you should hurry!


Quotations from Magick [Angel Press, 1984].

1. Tarot Card Number One
2. Epilogue
3. Magick and the Supernatural
4. Preface
5. Voodoo—Religion or Racket?
6. Magick and Madness

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Magick of Voodoo: Ode to the Crossroads

© Oliver St. John, 2018

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Revival of Magick

Magick includes astrology and religious mythology. The term is inclusive of metaphysics, philosophy, theology, theurgy, divination and prophecy.

There is no such thing as self-initiation. We can try to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps but the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Theurgy is the ‘practice of the divine’—solipsism is therefore a considerable bar to meaningful progress. A unity necessarily encompasses All and None.

Magick

It is impossible to convey any sense of what magick is all about to the mind of the person that lacks the ability or the will to perceive it for their self. To explain and rationalise magick in the hope that ‘men of science’ and other worthies might achieve illumination is a mission doomed to failure from the outset. Every idea the mind of man is able to conceive breaks down completely when subjected to analysis. The fact completely escapes those requiring proof of reality. Most persons today comfortably imagine magick to be no more than superstition and fantasy.

Magick: ROTA or Rose Cross Mandala with Crux Ansata from the book, Magical Theurgy

Magick includes astrology and religious mythology. The term is inclusive of metaphysics, philosophy, theology, theurgy, divination and prophecy. Magick embraces the life of the human soul, for the soul cannot be weighed, measured or otherwise accounted for. One can hardly overstate the fact that a considerable body of traditional knowledge collected over many thousands of years has been lost, forgotten or discarded as useless.

The revival of magick since the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in Britain (1951) owes a great deal to Aleister Crowley (1875–1947) and Violet Firth (better known as Dion Fortune, 1890–1946). Neither of these would have described themselves as witches, even if it had been lawful then to do so. If anything, they thought of themselves as practitioners of a Sacred Science. There is a dry, academic side to the occult, but to those that dare practice it, the romance and glamour surrounding the subject is indispensible to its effective operation. Both Crowley and Firth were aware of this, incorporating it in their writings. The part that romance plays is frequently misunderstood by historians and academics. ‘Factual’ accounts of the Western Magical Tradition are therefore suffused with allegations and counter-allegations of fraud and charlatanism. Crowley provided a rational explanation for magick that has been widely adopted:

Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.[1]

Crowley nonetheless insisted that magick should, even at the very outset, be directed towards a mystic goal, defined as the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.

It is necessary to deal with, and to dispose of, some myths. Firstly, we must deal with the notion of belief. There is much talk of beliefs and of ‘systems of belief’ whenever the subject of magick is discussed. The way of the magician or occultist is the Way of Knowledge, called Jnanayoga by Hindu philosophers. Belief is the enemy of knowledge, since the noun implies a static state of affairs, an end of the matter. In nature, there is nothing static; there is nothing that can truly be said to have an ending or a beginning. Why then should we have any need for belief? Belief is the weakness of clinging to an illusion in the vain hope that by doing so, an illusion can be turned into reality. To seek the real, we must eschew the folly of belief. Crowley had no intentions of making a religion out of magick or the Law of Thelema—this was done posthumously, in his name. The Egyptians, and other ancient races and cultures predating the introduction of compulsory state monotheism around 500 BCE, had no word in their language for “religion”.

Close on the tail of belief is hypnosis and hypnotism. Making oneself the passive subject of any hypnotic experiment was regarded with such horror by the adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn that a mighty oath was sworn by its aspirants, who solemnly pledged never to allow this. It is not uncommon now to hear that hypnotism is not only useful in magick but is also an indispensible requirement. Altered states of consciousness are sometimes referred to as trances, but the need to discern the difference is not a matter of semantics. The idea that magick works by implanting suggestions in your mind—or worse, the minds of others—to enable something to become true that you previously thought to be false or unlikely is patently absurd. It may obtain ‘results’ for persons obsessed with the objects of their desire but such results are entirely in the realm of illusion. It is the art of the stage conjuror.

We are therefore happy to follow Aleister Crowley in adopting the spelling of magick with a ‘k’ so as to distinguish what we do from that which is done purely to transfer cash from gullible and easily distracted persons to the pockets of the professional con artist.


Notes

1. From the Introduction to Magick in Theory and Practice, Aleister Crowley.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018
This article is from the book, Magical Theurgy—Rituals of the Tarot. The ROTA crux ansata Tarot illustration is from the cover art to the above book. Click on the image to magnify.

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