Moon-Ballet by Hannah Frank, 1934

The point of magic is to unperplex us. Around this new moon I’ve been devising custom visualizations for one of my most tenacious and devoted students of cards and magic. This work made me think about how perplexing what we do must seem to others. But magic is simple. Magic is play. All it takes is to designate and to nominate. Create relations that will get you there where you walk the web of connections, and where you not only perform, but also embody what you state. And it doesn’t even matter if you hit a wall, or create one on purpose because you may not want to say what you have to say directly. If your intention is addressed to a specific other, even when the performance of the enunciation takes place in a vacuum, it will still work. In fact, it will create an even stronger bond, as this enunciation will fall on an abstract plane that is devoid of personal investment. As they say, beware whom you address in the void. There may be eyes there watching and responding to the wish for fulfilment.

As I’ve played with my cards today, I couldn’t help thinking about perplexity. I like perplexity as a game of flow insofar as in flow perplexity becomes unperplexing. Imagine being in a pool of water. Water all encompassing you. Water constrained to some walls, natural or man-made. All cool until the water gets stale. Too much of the same. Too many rules. Too many constrictors. Too many principles. Too many statements of this kind: ‘This is how we swim around here. Basta’. Rules and conventions run counter to magic. The all-encompassing does nothing for me if it doesn’t flow. To make an embrace flow is the ultimate art. Anything else would amount to being married to the loveliest bore.


Looking at my square of 9 Lenormand cards today, I couldn’t help letting it take me perplexing places. Lenormand and O.T.O, or the Ordo Templi Orientis. I can already see how the traditionalists would cross themselves if they had to make such a flowing connection. It’s a good thing I don’t write for them. Now, if we look at the cards, we see the Cross in the center with the Bouquet finishing the layout. In the O.T.O. hierarchies the IX degree teaches the magical use of the intercourse between a man and a woman, and the magician thus gets to possess the Rosy Cross Formula. He is now equipped with the unperplexed understanding of how the male and female genitals work in the graveyard, with the Cross and the Rose performing magic. The center row is one of the best images that expresses a form of spirituality for which one suffers religiously. But it all leads to the Rose.

There is a lot of flow in this spread that emphasizes that work of magic and which relies on freedom and constrained. This is not a stale pool where one is merely safe and clean. Water washes over the Cross from the top right corner, pushing the Ship forward. The domestic and conventional animal looks over his shoulder to the Rose, the Queen of Spades herself, whose bookish knowledge in her head is informed by the quick and smooth movement of the Fish.

The unperplexed wisdom here is that time must not be wasted, but the mystery remains: in magical time, even what you don’t say can be heard by those attuned to rhythm and vibration. In The Oriflame, the journal published by O.T.O. we read these lines:

Who seeks it, will suffer.

Who finds it, conceal it.

Who uses it, let no one know.

He who is a true philosopher

Shall remain unknown.

camelia-elias-trysil14Not long ago, someone left this comment on Facebook, and which accompanied a photograph of Lon Milo DuQuette and myself: “Lon, what are you doing in Europe conferring the IX° to babes?” I can’t say that I found this question perplexing – more like vulgar, as I see myself at 45 past the babe stage – but on occasion it does make me think about this relation: if I’m not an unknown philosopher yet – I’m working on it – I’m certainly a magician of sorts.

Keep going – let the perplexing fascinate and flow.


Note on the deck:

Dondorf Frankfurt (original 1887, string-bound booklet)


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4 thoughts on “PERPLEXED

  1. Markus Pfeil says:

    Also, the tree across the book tells us that nature, where magic abounds is cross with book lore and paragraphs. The Rose across the Bouquet speaks about the beauty of a flower versus the constructed arrangement. The ship across the fish is telling me about conquering the ocean versus swimming in the sea .Star across the dog is orientation by almanac versus a good nose. If the cross is religion, then re-ligare or re-lego, linking nature and our interpretation of it, and re-reading nature and experience to escape or stale pool of learning.

    1. Camelia Elias says:

      Great, Markus, though the card of the Rose is actually the last card here, the Rose being part of the Bouquet. The first card features a Clover on it. It looks like a rose, but in fact, what we’re dealing with there is the spontaneous spread of luck. As with all things esoteric, it’s not through your efforts that you get ‘there’, but rather through stumbling. There’s consecration, to be sure, of the ritual that becomes a poetic act, and hence as beautiful as the rose, but such consecration is given as a gift, not as spirit. What regulates the flow of spirit is faith, so the balance must be struck there, between faith and figure.

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