“The one place in which Gods and demons inarguably exist is in the human mind where they are real in all their grandeur and monstrosity.”
After “coming out” as a magician on his 40th birthday, graphic novelist Alan Moore has become one of today’s most famous occultists. In The Mindscape of Alan Moore, the writer spends 80 minutes discussing his philosophy and providing insights into his magical worldview.
Moore is quite familiar with Aleister Crowley’s works and called him “the most important magician of the twentieth century” in a 1995 interview. In fact, the Trump cards from Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck are used as visual transitions between sections of the film.
Although influenced by Crowley, Moore doesn’t view himself as a Thelemite. However, it’s obvious from the documentary that many of his views align completely with Thelema:
When we are doing the Will of our True Self, we are inevitably doing the Will of the Universe. In Magick, these are seen as indistinguishable, that every human soul is in fact, one human soul. It is the soul of the Universe itself and as long as you are doing the Will of the Universe, then it is impossible to do anything wrong.
In the first part of the film, Moore talks about his early life as a working-class child in England. Expelled from school at age 17, he worked at a skinning yard and tannery and was a toilet cleaner at a hotel before becoming a comics writer. Finding success in the field, he went on to write such classic graphic novels as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and From Hell, among others.
The second part of the film delves into Moore’s theories on Magick, art, shamanism, alchemy, and quantum physics.
Magick and Art Are the Science . . .
To Moore, both Magick and Art are the “science of manipulating symbols, words or images to achieve changes in consciousness.” In fact, he notes that the language of Magick appears to be describing writing or art as much as anything supernatural. The word grimoire, for example, simply means grammar. And of course, casting a “spell” alludes to writing as well.
He laments the fact that in today’s world “magical power has degenerated to the level of cheap entertainment and manipulation” in the form of television, advertisements, and jingles. It used to be that writers were both respected and feared—for example, a bard “cursing” you with a satire could ruin your reputation for generations. But today, many artists and writers “have accepted the prevailing belief that art and writing are merely forms of entertainment. They’re not seen as transformative forces that can change a human being, that can change a society.”
In the documentary Moore also summarizes the Western occult tradition, which he views as “the search for the self with a capital S.” He conjures up Thelemic ideas when saying this quest is the most important thing a human can do—the Great Work, the gold of the alchemists, the Will, the “inner dynamo of us.”
He speaks of the “frightening” number of people who have no interest in this process at all. They want to ignore the Self, and get plenty of help from alcohol, drugs, and TV, which “can be seen as a deliberate attempt to destroy any connection between themselves and the responsibility of accepting and owning a Higher Self.”
Alan Moore on Shamanism and the Origins of Magick
There’s much in The Mindscape of Alan Moore about shamanism, and the evolution of Western culture from shamanism to more formalized paganism in the Classical world and then to monotheism. The origins of Magick, he relates, are in shamanism, “in animism, in a belief that everything around you—every tree, every rock, every animal—was inhabited by some sort of essence, some sort of spirit that could perhaps be communicated with.” Moore sounds like an advocate of the traditional caste system (based on merit, not heredity) when he talks about shamanic societies and how the person best at hunting would be a hunter, and the person best at communicating with the spirit world would have that task.
In the Classical world much of shamanism had been formalized—into pantheons of gods that each perform a special function, into priests and priestesses, and formal rituals. Even in this society, Moore says, “the relationship between humans and their gods, which could be seen as the relationship between humans and their highest selves, that was still a very direct one. “
It’s when Christianity and monotheism get going that Moore says a “spiritual middle management” between people and the gods (i.e., their highest Selves) develops. And of course, it’s doubtful if the priests even had that relationship anymore: “They just have a book that tells them about people who lived long ago who did.”
In this section of the film Moore also speaks positively of the Qabalah—as a system with absolute Godhead at the top, but that also encompasses all of the gods and the entire universe.
Alan Moore on the Most Frightening Conspiracy Theory
The documentary is also intriguing because viewers get to hear Moore’s thoughts on conspiracy theories. In the mid-1980s, Moore wrote a comic book called Shadowplay: The Secret Team, about the CIA from the end of WWII to the present day. He did copious amounts of research for the book, and concluded that the majority of conspiracies are primarily products of the paranoid fanatasists who invented them. His conclusion is that people like to believe in conspiracy theories because it’s more comforting than looking at the sobering truth:
The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12-foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is far more frightening—Nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.
If you’ve never seen The Mindscape of Alan Moore, it’s currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime. In the film he also discusses alchemy, quantum physics, morphogenetic fields, idea space and roadmaps for traversing it, theories of time, and the meaning of the apocalypse. Both fans of his graphic novels and occultists will find a lot of food for thought.
For most posts on Magick, please see the archives here.
Here’s a short trailer for The Mindscape of Alan Moore: