Select members of the Athenæum Azostos have carefully collaborated on a series of 13 interview questions in which to ask the fascinating author/practitioner with a resume that appears facile, the always-busy-and-brilliant Frater Acher. Frater Acher has currently launched a new website on chthonic sorcery and is in the process of releasing and re-releasing several books, all of which will be discussed below. When the Athenæum learned about Goêteia, we knew we had to reach out.
Frater Acher graciously agreed to an interview, and the below answers are a generously intimate glimpse into the work and words of the beloved Frater Acher, balanced in rawness between the visceral and the cerebral, the chthonic and the ouranic. May his answers linger and may you parallel rebel, with the dead, the daimon, and the driftwood… into the realms of æther and Other.
The Athenæum has chosen to present this and future Interviews in written form so that we may honor, if not return, the power of and to the written word. Moreover, the questions and answers in written form allow translatability in all its forms for our readers – and for you.
Athenæum: As we are the Library of the Ungirt we have to ask: which books, either historical or occult, have inspired your practice?
Frater Acher: Well, if you are asking from a truly magical perspective, I’d answer the living books I made contact within the place that is called the Inner Library. Josephine McCarthy describes this place very well in her Quareia and Magical Knowledge material. I recall one of these books, which a tall spirit pulled from the shelf and gave to me. When I opened it, its inside was filled not with pages, but with liquid black honey. The spirit then proceeded by smearing this black goo on my face, my eyes, inside my mouth, on my head, and ultimately over my entire body… It’s fair to say the book has left quite the lasting impression.
On a mundane level, I wouldn’t be here without the works of a motley bunch such as Michael Ende, Gustav Meyrink, Verena Kast, Frater U∴D∴, Josephine McCarthy, Jake Stratton-Kent, Zosimos of Panopolis, Iamblichos, Abraham of Worms, Paracelsus, Johannes Valentin Andreae,… Well, I could keep on listing, but I’d fear it’d become quite the boring interview. 🙂
If you would not mind indulging us, what processes facilitate your writing? Do you have a Patron (or Patrons) of Writing that you lean on for such endeavors?
FA: I write from within a host of spirit contacts that I acquired over the years.
I am quite heavily tattooed; maybe you are too? Imagine this as if your tattoos were influencing your consciousness, what you are attuned to, and from where thoughts are entering into your mind.
Gustav Meyrink, in one of his novels, once made a character say, “The human mind is like a dovecot. All we can do, is to hope that more white than black doves are landing in this dovecot.” As Meyrink knew very well, but his character wasn’t meant to reveal, there is much more we can do to become alike to a certain quality of being, of thinking, of facing the world from within.
First among these spirits is my holy daimon. Then there is an ancient spirit that appeared to me in the shape of an old lady whose body was half human and half a loom. I offered myself to her in unconditional service, and we made a pact. There also is a female spirit deep within a mountain with whom I am working. When we first encountered her, we realised she had almost forgotten the human race. After a few encounters though, she woke up again. She wanted me to kill myself in her mountain, so I could sleep beside her in the stone. I guess, by inviting her to come through as a contact in my writing, I am trying to offer her a more elegant form of exchange. There is a land spirit who just about looks like Chewbacca-without-a-face on some days, and then he literally is the land on others. This being has taught me a great deal over the last ten years. Finally, there are three human skulls in my temple, on the material side of the veil, with whom I am traveling like a pack, who have proven to be quite talkative. – As you can guess by now, it’s quite lively where I live, even when there are no human people around.
You have mentioned in a past interview how you have set aside the ritualistic practice of magic and foregone the daily magical Work-with-a-capital-W in recent years. Do you feel you traded this in to become a writer, teacher, publisher…? How does a regular praxis correlate to the rate in which you publish books and articles?
FA: I traded this to protect my daughter. She was born almost 8 years ago now. But these things are never actual sacrifice in the true sense of the word. Of course, it felt like sacrifice at the time, when I took down my former temple and buried most of it in a forest. But then I received so much in return for letting all of this go…
Since my daughter was born, I have been working in the style of the empty hand mainly. Still, over the last three years I built up a new temple, and handed it over to some spirits for now. In the five years before that, I worked a lot with death, the underworld, the passing backwards and forwards between the living and dead, the celestial and chthonic realm. All of this can be done very practically without wearing a classical robe, and standing in a circle while conjuring spirits. I miss the physicality of the latter approach dearly, but I also learned that precisely this physicality is limiting traditional ritual magic in no insignificant ways.
My technical practice today consists of communing with my holy daimon and other spirits every week. Then I have been doing a series of proper outdoor goêtic operations in the wilderness, but these do not follow any man-made pattern of time or sequencing. These rites or contacts come to me, and I follow them.
Your free e-books, in-depth essays, and regular blog updates on Theomagica.com have been great resources, and many of us at the Athenaeum are frequent readers (and fans). What inspired you to offer your mystical explorations of western magic to our community?
FA: Oh, I started blogging around 2009, mainly as a creative outlet. I needed a place to write short pieces, with no audience in mind, a place of total freedom and full control over the process. While I have been writing my entire life, since I was 14, this was the beginning of writing in English. The playfulness of the approach helped me greatly to find my writing voice.
I am a rather private person. I don’t do much good for other people, because I like to be alone or with very close friends. Sharing my own insights, learnings, failures with others – ideally at no, or only absolutely minimum cost – is the only social contribution I have to offer. The rest is staying in my library, my temple, in the mountains, or in the garden with my family… Unless I am working in my day job, of course.
It seems we both are interested in occult book reviews, such as you have on Paralibrum.com. When did you realize you not only had a pull towards, but a knack for, deep-dive reviews and explorations of esoteric literature? What is next for Paralibrum?
FA: Well, before the pandemic, I started reading “The New York Review of Books” more regularly. At the same time, I found myself fascinated by how thorough and comprehensive and yet highly narcissistic many of these review were written. Some of these reviews review 3-4 books at a time, while constantly balancing on the threshold of expressing unique insights derived from these works, and purely showing off the reviewer’s erudition. Still, in the end I was truly fascinated by the depth and sincerity of the approach towards reviewing books that mattered… From there I had several long conversations with Frater U∴D∴. The rest, as they say, is history.
Earlier this year we gave Paralibrum a complete digital overhaul. I hope people enjoy the quality of the reviews, as well as the clean and purposeful design of the platform. What is next for Paralibrum, is to continue to do that, to be that, to hold this place, for as long as we can.
What have been some of your successes in magic, in writing, on Theomagica, Holy Daimon, and Paralibrum, and in your occult life thus far? What would you do differently if you could (if anything)?
FA: I really don’t worry about success in the classical sense. It’s quite a surprise how often I find myself in need of emphasising this again and again: I focus my magic on encountering, not winning.
Now, to your point on regret: If I had done things differently, I’d be a different person right now. That means a different version of me would give you a different answer… Honestly, if you asked any person, who knows me just a little, what describes me the least, I am pretty certain most of them would agree to the two characteristics of nostalgia and regret. I am the least nostalgic and regretful version of me, I could possibly imagine. When I look back, it is to connect dots, not to romanticise. I worked hard for my life to be this way, and wouldn’t change it for anything.
Your new project Goêteia sounds very intriguing, and from what we gather will be an exploration of chthonic sorcery with a heavy emphasis on the concept of the “Great Mother.” This is very exciting! And it is an entirely new website. Why did you decide to explore this current and dedicate a separate space for it?
FA: The page went live on April 30th. It took me several months to build it out to this initial version. I am excited to see where it will evolve from here, where this current will carry us…
I told you about the lady of the loom, and I also mentioned the female spirit deep underneath the mountain. The new page, goeteia.com is an expression of the work I have done with these spirits – and they have done with me, and the world has done with us – over the last years. So from that perspective this page and its content is a direct ripple of my goêtic spirit contacts.
On a social level, though, I see far too much juvenile, dark-fluff occulture out there. See, when I was 16 we really weren’t going anywhere, we got drunk as often as we could, and once in a full-moon we could afford a Sisters of Mercy long-sleeve at a concert. We weren’t into identity building, but into hiding from growing up and having a good time… As previously mentioned, I don’t romanticise this period in my life, as it came with a lot of darkness. I’m also not holding up the usual flag against the moral decay of the youth. However, I am rather concerned with three things today: the rapid trend of increasing commercialisation of occultism, the instrumentalization of magical themes for identity building, and the breathtaking arrogance and narrow-mindedness with which the historical-anthropological perspective is still neglected in large parts of magic today.
To put it plainly, I’d advocate that we all have plenty of sex, get drunk, sit with good friends, and build a decent life and income before we start engaging in magic. So, our approach to magic doesn’t have to be exploitative to satisfy any of these needs.
In this sense, goeteia.com exists to promote counterculture against such occult mainstream. I use this platform to call a spade a spade, to offer guidance born of real life experience, and to rip off the band-aid of how much work and processing, how much tolerance for dissonance and falling apart real chthonic sorcery requires.
How does the work with Goêteia relate to Holy Daimon and your other books, if at all? How does it differ? What can we expect from this upcoming (and very intriguing) project?
FA: Communion with your sacred daimon affects how you are present as a human being, how you are wired, and how we can become more aware of these rhizomatic connections. With goeteia.com and its accompanying books, I want to encourage people to take these wires or root strands that grow through us and plant them back into the telluric depths. It is a plea for magicians to anchor themselves equally chthonic and celestial. Let us reclaim the middle way, the middle path, with our feet in the grave, rooted between the dead, far below, and the doves of our dovecote far up in the morning sky… Let’s try, at least for a short moment, to experience it all.
There were some parts of Holy Daimon that we, as readers and practitioners, found so incredibly on point and parallel with our practices/gnoses. How would you describe your process of “knowing” in your Saturnian journey to the HGA, and how does that define the value of “personal gnosis”?
FA: From where I stand, knowing really isn’t that important, but being is. Encounter trumps erudition any time. The sensual knowledge of a strong dream, eats an entire physical library for breakfast. We really are born into a wonder machine. We all are a genie in a bottle. Yet, the bottle we need to break free from is not our body, but our cognitive mind.
I am not advocating a magical path according to the maxim anything goes, of jumping into bed with human fantasy and man-made faith and mixing it all up in one great threesome. I have hopefully made that clear in my books, especially in INGENIUM, where I am giving these foundational terms and techniques a lot of space.
I am advocating for letting go of the motivation and the dire human need of wanting to be someone to someone. I am advocating for working with our body-minds as if they were jetsam we had come across on our morning walk: We stop, we pick them up, hold them in our awareness, while we hope our consciousness is not drowned out by the majestic ocean waves right next to us. And then we take a close look at what the ocean has gifted us there… This white branch looks a little broken. But it will do as a magical wand, if only we can tap into the memory patterns it holds from its years in the open waters… This shell is pretty worn, but it can still function to hold incense coal, for it expresses so beautiful the thin line between dissolution and embodiment. And look here, that black stone, the ocean has almost turned it into a marble. Let’s put it into our pocket and ask it tonight, if it wants to sit on my mother’s grave… If we can relate to our own body-minds in this way, like a friendly encounter with the Other in a moment of not wanting, not needing to be anything, then we might find, being alive turns out to be one majestic goêtic adventure.
Holy Daimon is an incredible book and we want to start off by saying how much we appreciate the in-depth and ultra-personal look into your Saturnian retreat. The restriction of basic needs and the discipline it takes to keep yourself from sleeping, eating, and speaking makes sense for the current of Saturn, and we noticed that, by depriving yourself of these things, it sort of mirrored and induced possible symptoms of depression. Do you believe when people are suffering through hardships or even mental illness, that it can promote contact with their HGA (Holy Guardian Angel)? Does the current of Saturn then, in your opinion, encapsulate some of the darker, shadowy aspects of the psyche?
FA: I am not a clinical psychologist, nor a doctor, nor a depressed person myself, so I feel I should not comment on clinical conditions. Suffering as such, though, is a human condition, just like having an erection, menstruation, death or broken fingernails. Suffering does’t deserve to be glorified, and I immediately distrust any one or any spiritual path that indicates the slightest aggrandisement of suffering. Life is terribly short, man. Have a good time. I really mean it: As humans we might not hold any responsibility more essential than leading a happy life. Because as soon as we don’t, each one of us becomes a freaking pain in the arse for everyone else.
Personally, I found the Saturnian current extremely helpful to attain a perspective on my life, my body, my encounters, mundane and otherwise, as if they are all driftwood. Some I pick up, some I wake up and find them in my hands, some I stumble over. Everywhere driftwood – and right behind all of it, one giant ocean. Driftwooding through life does not mean we allow ourselves to drift constantly, or that we have no desires of our own, no drive, no grit, no bite. But it means we can pull ourselves back, at any time, to the mental state, the sensual experience, of walking next to the oneness of the ocean while we pass along all sorts of rubbish and pearls. Suffering isn’t really any help in adopting that view, from what I can see, but the short moments when we emerge out of suffering are. They are the golden pearls, we put in our pocket: These split seconds when we take a deep breath, and in that breath we find new hope.
This is what my holy daimon would say to your question. S/he would also point to the metaphor of the doctor, the tube and the camera which I am describing in my book Holy Daimon (See the chapter “SYSTASIS WITH YOUR HOLY DAIMON” or page 123 in the upcoming second edition). This metaphor is as much of a key as s/he can offer really.
Are you currently working on any books or other projects besides Goêteia? When can we expect its launch?
FA: I am always working because I really suck at slacking. It’s less of a choice than a reality. So yes, there are several projects in the works about which I cannot share much about at this point. But they are all born from the goêtic current that led to the emergence of goeteia.com, as well as my upcoming book with Craig ‘VI’ Slee, GOÊTIC ATAVISMS. Preorders for the standard edition with Hadean Press start May 30th. I know that standard edition will be marvellous, and I am deeply grateful to Erzebet and the team at Hadean for the excellent work on it. The fine edition is currently in production. We hope to have the 72 copies of that fully leather-bound and temple-touched edition in the hands of customers by end of June. Finally, I should mention my largest book yet, The OLYMPIC SPIRITS – Paracelsus’ Practice of the Inner Stars, has found a publisher about whom I could not be more happy. It is slated to come out in early 2024.
What words of wisdom would you share to practitioners in the occult/esoteric space that seek to explore western magic?
FA: Get a life first, or at least in parallel. Establish a proper worldly profession, earn an income, pay bills, do your tax returns, bring the trash out, walk the dog, fetch the children from school on time… I really mean it, nothing trains you for magic – may it be celestial or chthonic or both – like doing the chores, like becoming a grown up.
I know it sucks. But neither of us is a prince or princess; life doesn’t owe you a dime, and death is already gathering momentum in your bones. Have a life you are proud of. Live life like you have meant it. Behave in ways that you are comfortable being defined by, whether someone is watching or not. Do not worry about your OCD, your ticks and fears, your wounds and tears and sleepless nights. Do not worry about all the good things you once had, and which you have no longer. They are driftwood now. They are out in the ocean again. And when you finally get to do magic, do it like you have nothing left to lose. Because you really don’t. Step forward into your magic, like a bird takes off into a storm. Like a stone that is being thrown into the sea. Like a tree collapsing into fire. Do it with everything you have to give. I promise you, it may not make you happy, but it will fulfil you.
If you could recommend one book to neophytes, what would it be and why?
FA: From where I stand right now, I’d be a poser if I did not recommend INGENIUM. I have never heard spirits speak to me like during the months where this thing came out. This is my piece of driftwood that I want to throw into your ocean. Then GOÊTIC ATAVISMS, as it is the closest to literary punk rock I will probably ever get to participate in.
My own myopic view aside, I’ve actually built an entire online platform to answer your question. It’s called paralibrum.com.
Be sure to check out these other books by Frater Acher…
And other related resources…
And find Frater Acher on Social Media…
In memory of Jake Stratton Kent.
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