Donald Michael Kraig : “Sex and Magick have been with us since the beginning of time”

« The magic of sex », that’s something we’ve all heard about and, hopefully, been able to realize with a pretty someone. However, « sex magick » as a subdomain of real magic practices is pretty much unknown in common days. I was able to interview the worldwide expert, Donald Michael Kraig, before its death in march, 2014.

Sex magic, or sex magick as it is sometimes spelled to emphasize the part of Aleister Crowley in the shaping of its modern day practices, encompasses any type of sexual activityies used in magical, spiritual, ritualistic or even religious pursuits. When typing the word on google, the name of a famous magician came popping up : Donal Michael Kraig, a famous American author and occultist who has published a book called Modern Sex Magick in 1998.

At the time, my website was merely a small blog, but he immediatly accepted to answer my questions when I asked him in 2012. Specializing in ceremonial magic, DMK also taugh occultism in Southern California and during Neo-Pagan festivals, on topics such as Qabalah, Tarot, Magick, Tantra, Psychic Development, Hypnosis but also the Lovecraft Mythos – I know he was quite crazy about the Babylon V tv shows and played the theremin. As a magician, he run a lodge of AMOOKOS, an east-west-tantric occult group.

For a french version of this article, click here.

Tryangle. Why and when did you start studying magic ?

Donald Michael Kraig. I had always been interested in the paranormal with such things as ESP, UFOs, etc. My mother also had a passing interest and encouraged me. When I was 12 I took classes in advanced memory work and speed reading, both of which are skills that can apply to magick. I went to my first really occult-oriented workshop on how to do automatic writing before by bus because I wasn’t old enough to drive. When I was in college, I decided to learn the Tarot. I bought three books and started reading them, thinking I’d combine the information into a coherent whole. Unfortunately, they were so different I couldn’t do that. The only thing they agreed upon was that if you really wanted to learn the Tarot, you had to learn the Kabalah. From studying the Kabalah it was just a short jump to magick.

Do you study magic or are you a magician… or both ?

One of my favorite little-used English words is praxis. It means “putting theory into action.” In my earlier days I spent a lot of time studying magick, waiting to read one more book or obtain one more magickal tool that I felt I needed to actually practice. During this time I joined the Rosicrucians of AMORC. They had very simple rituals you could do at home. Although I performed them, I became disenchanted with them and sought something more. Eventually, I actually started practicing and performing the rituals and rites.

One of the persons whom I really admired was Scott Cunningham. In all of the books he wrote, his information either comes from historical sources or from his practices. In my books, I pretty much follow this pattern. I only share techniques that I’ve used or that some of my students have shared. I don’t just make things up thinking that because they should theoretically work, they actually will work. I have read some books where it’s clear that the author has made things up because it logically follows their belief system.

So to answer your question directly, when I began I started with study. I moved to study and practice. Today I do both.

How did you come to believe that magic really existed ?

When I began practicing magick that I hoped I would have physical results. When I first obtained results, I was pleasantly surprised…but skeptical. I believe all magicians should be skeptical. By that I don’t mean they should be like the crop of debunkers who fear and denounce anything that doesn’t fit into their narrow belief systems. Rather, I mean true skepticism: don’t believe either for or against something without proof.

Performing a ritual and achieving your goal once could just be a coincidence. Even two or three times might be while chances. But when you perform magick on a regular basis and repeatedly achieve your goals, it is self-evident that magick really works. That is what convinced me.

Why did you wrote Modern Sex Magick ?

There were several reasons. First, most of the books on sex magick were nothing but repetitions of earlier works. They presented nothing new and in most instances I seriously doubted whether the writers had actually practiced themselves. If they had, why were they merely repeating earlier works? Second, those earlier works were firmly rooted in 19th-century materialism hidden within concepts of alchemy. Thus, although they worked with magickal energy, it was using that energy to charge physical matter (i.e., bodily fluids) that was the focus, not the energy itself. To me, this seemed like putting an extra layer between the magicians and the magick. Third, as a result of my studies I was able to discover ancient Western traditions that have similarities to Eastern ones, traditions that work with the energy rather than the physical results of sex. Finally, I found many of the books on sex magick to be sexist: the man does this and the woman helps. Then the man does this and the woman helps. Then the man does something else and the woman helps. In one of Crowley’s works he even advises that you should not tell your female partner what you are doing!

By working with the ancient, energy-oriented system I describe (including the history) in Modern Sex Magick, the techniques of sex magick move to a more egalitarian level. Practitioners can work by themselves, with a partner who is non-physical (such as a spirit), with a partner who is of the opposite gender or of the same gender. The ancient tradition makes sex magick available to everyone.

Sex is not only natural, it is a positive component of life. Our bodies are actually designed to have sex frequently. Similarly, the ability to use our body’s energies to achieve our goals is a mostly-forgotten skill that is natural to all of us. Thus, the practice of sex magick is our birthright. It was my hope, in writing Modern Sex Magick, that I could make that birthright available to all people who want it.

If you could sum it up, what is your point of view about the origin of Sex Magick throughout history ?

Both sex and magick have been with us since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, so has the misguided drive for power and control. True power and control is over yourself. Often, when people don’t have that, they seek power and control over others. History is replete with individuals who ban magick and place limitations on sex. They do this for control over others. Often, they don’t follow these bans themselves. We see this today with Mr.Berlusconi who resigned after allegedly paying for sex with an underaged girl, with Mr. Gingrich who denounced President Clinton for having an affair while he was having one himself, and with some leaders of the Roman Catholic church who were abusing children.

With magick, you realize that you are absolutely free to do whatever you want to do while being responsible for your actions. When you realize this freedom, religious and political leaders no longer have power over you. When you step outside the bounds of sexual practice those seeking to control you want to impose, you increase your level of freedom.

In the earliest days, it was clear that sexual practices and sex magick were far more widespread and accepted than they are today. This is evidenced in historical records of Pagan cultures and even into ancient Greece and Rome. There are records of such practices found in ancient India and China.

As societies grew, people hungry for power and control over others condemned sex and magick. As a result, the practices went underground. Sex, magick, and sex magick were at one time practiced by many, if not most people. The practices were not special; they were just what people did. Over time, power-hungry leaders had sex, magick, and sex magick practices not merely condemned, but outlawed. Still, these ancient practice are part of our very nature, and they survived.

Is there several theories about the origins of Sex Magick ?

Yes, there are several theories, but I don’t see them as being in competition. Rather, I see them as parallel paths. What I described above was a general direction in most areas, but as soon as sex magick was forced underground, different systems developed. Thus, we have Western traditions, Tantric traditions, Western alchemical traditions, Taoist alchemical traditions, Sufi traditions, etc.

According to you, is there a christian form of sex magick or have the Christian banned the link between god and sex ?

During the early days of Christianity, there were many varying sects. Each, in my opinion, was legitimately Christian. They could directly trace themselves back to the originators of the faith. It wasn’t until the 4th century c.e. when what was and what was not accepted as Christian we made into dogma.

Before this time, there were definitely Christian sex magick practices. For example, one Christian group was the Barbelo Gnostics, who used sex magick as part of the eucharist. I don’t know if Crowley was aware of this, but there are strong similarities between their practices and his techniques and his “Cakes of Light.”

Today, there are tens of thousands of Christian sects. Some are strong in negativity toward sex, limiting sex for procreation only. Some claim to be more positive toward sex, but they place such limitations on sexuality that their negativity toward sex cannot be disguised no matter what they say. However, there is a small but growing group of Christians who see direct links between sex and God. Most are related to the veneration of Mary.

How can one become a magician today ?

To my mind, the best method is a combination of study and practice. Study without practice turns a person into an “armchair magician,” capable of discussion and not much more. Practice without study ends up limiting what people can do and achieve. If you want to learn, the best way, in my opinion, is to take classes with a teacher or group. The classes should combine study and practice. Usually, there is more study at the beginning, but there should always be some practice. Sometimes this will take place within a group such as a Witchcraft coven or ceremonial magick Order.

I wish everyone who wanted to could learn this way! Unfortunately, not everyone is able to find such a group. As a result of teaching classes for over a decade, I published the first edition of Modern Magick. Now in its third, greatly expanded edition, the book is actually a step-by-step course in magick that can take the average student a year to complete. There are many great books on magick. Most focus on one subject or another. As of this writing, I don’t know of any book that makes a better training manual than Modern Magick. In fact, many magickal Orders use it as the basis for a course of study.

How to start Sex Magick, and where to start ?

Unfortunately, because people in power have used that power to repress free expression of sex, there are those who will take advantage of others. “Do you want to do some sex magick” has been used much like “Hey, baby. What’s your sign?” was decades ago as a deceptive approach to getting sex. I do not encourage people to run off to work sex magick with the first person who talks about it!

Unlike the days where Crowley suggested that you learn for yourself and do it with others without their knowing, I suggest finding someone who is interested and practicing together. Early practices can work entirely clothed and doing no more than touch hands or sitting back-to-back. I describe such techniques in Modern Sex Magick.

If you find a person who claims to know sex magick and is willing to teach you, I do not think that the first thing you should do is take off your clothes and start having sex. Rather, a legitimate teacher would give you concepts to study and do energy work with you. When that is successful, you might move on to other techniques. It might take some time before anything an outsider might consider sexual activity would actually happen.

Whether you start with books or a teacher, begin slowly and be able to do the magick with is amplified with sexual energy.

Is such a thing as Sex Magick exist, then, if we are to be logical, then all sex partners can stumble upon sex magick powers without knowing it. What about accidental Sex Magick ?

You’re absolutely right. Sex magick is totally natural. It is part of our genetics. If it were forgotten it would be “discovered” again and again.

The use of sex energy amplifies the magickal practice. This, of course, means that magick—that, is, non-sex magick—occurs naturally, too.

The mistake many people make when it comes to magick of all kinds is the result of reading fairy tails or watching movies. They think that magick is something people do. It only happens when you wave a wand or recite a spell. But as I like to say, “Magick isn’t something you do. Magick is something you are.”

Magick is the skill of creating. Whether we are consciously aware of it, we are constantly creating, 24 hours a day, 7 day a week. If you spend 15 minutes performing a spell for money, but then spend hours worrying about your poor finances (unconsciously sending magickal energy toward poverty), it’s obvious which is going to win out. Your magickal creation of poverty will continue.

So people do perform sex magick without knowing it all the time. It can enhance good things or prevent them from occurring. That’s why I fell learning about magick and sex magick are so important. We’re doing it anyway, shouldn’t we learn how to do it effectively? I think so. As I wrote above, it’s our birthright to have this knowledge and be able to use it.

Is porn, black magick ?

To me, magick is magick. What you do with it makes it positive or negative. Magick that harms someone is what many people refer to as black magick. Porn, in and of itself, is just a movie. It has no qualities.

If a person uses porn to avoid contact with others, it can certainly be a trigger than empowers this type of black magick. Humans are social creatures and we need to communicate with and physically touch others. Touch is very important. Merely communicating by phone or internet isn’t enough. Our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health requires actual physical contact with others. If porn is keeping a person away from others, it is effectively charing black magick being worked against the person watching it. Yes, we can do such magick, usually unconsciously, against ourselves.

If a person uses the images of porn to help empower sex magick directed, consciously or unconsciously, to harm another mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, then it is certainly empowering a person’s black magick.

By the same token, if a person uses the images of porn to help empower sex magick with the goal of helping another person, it is empowering that person’s positive magick.

So by itself, porn has netther positive or negative qualities in relation to magick.

To end this interview, if you had one message for our very french readers ?

Mais oui ! Pendant des siècles, les personnes françaises merveilleuses ont été connues en tant qu’excellents amoureux. J’encouragerais mes amis français à regagner leur mérite des ancêtres et à redécouvrir la magie, particulièrement la magie du sexe !