What was the trigger that set you on a magical path?
When I was five I had a psychic experience on the playground. I looked up from the ground, but looked up beyond reality. Like everything on earth was underneath me. It felt like all space and time was like a painting at my feet. From that moment on I always felt like there was something behind what we could all see and feel — like people moving behind the curtains of a play. That feeling never left me and triggered a bunch of strange experiences that kept up for about a year. Eventually they stopped but the feeling never left, and when I got older I started exploring spirituality and magic.
Tell us about your early magical training.
My first magical teacher was actually a teacher in High School. She bought me my first deck of Tarot cards and taught me how to shield and do some simple Rosicrucian-type stuff. She would look at the books I was reading and give advice. After her, I made some acquaintances at a Conjure Shop called “The Globe” and a Botanica in Lakewood NJ. It turned out that the son of the owner of the Botanica was in the after-school program that I was a counselor at, so I had an in. I started combining Ceremonial Magic stuff that I was reading in Modern Magick and other books with Rootwork and Folk Magic. This also fit nicely into Paul Huson’s approach to Witchcraft that he took in Mastering Witchcraft which was a big early influence. I worked from books mostly, but was lucky to have mentors that I could ask questions of. Eventually I met John Myrdhin Reynolds, the first westerner to be ordained as a Ngakpa – a Tantric Sorcerer, and he took a strong interest in me and my development.
I still marvel at the conflux of forces that had to come together for me to meet a Rosicrucian, a Conjure Man, and a Ngakpa: all willing to guide me, all within 20 miles of my house in central NJ, and all before I was 20 years old. Remarkable really. I will always be in all their debt as well as the debt of many other teachers I have learned from since.
What advice would you give the beginner in this day and has your opinion evolved over time?
Take advantage of the immense amount of access that you have. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s we had plenty of books, but nothing like what there is today, and certainly no ability to instantly connect with likeminded people. Some things are lost because of it and certainly people can get lost in their filter bubble, but it’s overall a good thing.
Beyond that I would say that no matter what tradition you follow, make sure that you are meditating and making offerings. These two things are not part of every tradition, and they are often neglected, but they can make all the difference in the world.
Tell us a bit about your travels.
There are really only two big trips that I took, but each was for over the course of several months. In 1993 I did the whole “Eurail Backpacking” rite of passage. I started in England and was lucky enough to meet some people connected to the Regency Coven that could present a different view of Witchcraft than was common at the time. More akin to Huson than Gardner. I visited lots of holy places, both Christian and Pagan. I headed to Ireland and got to not only New Grange, but got a local to take me to the Dowth mound which was not open to the public at the time. I also meditated in the Dunmore Cave which is one of the locations rumored to be an entrance to the underworld. After that I started wandering the continent just keeping an eye out and trusting providence to lead me to likeminded people. I met some practitioners of Vampirism in Budapest. Learned to read playing cards on a train from Venice to Berlin. That kind of thing. Nothing very structured. I just wanted to get out and see the places I had read about.
In the late 90s I had been studying Tantra for a few years and wanted to go to Nepal for a while to deepen my studies. In 1999 I headed to Nepal and lived for a month with Kunzang Dorje, one of the greatest Tantric Magicians of the age. I then got an apartment in Boudhanath where I studied Dzogchen and Tibetan Magic with John Reynolds (Lama Vanranatha) who I have known since I was a teenager, as well as many other Lamas: most notably Moktsa Rinpoche and Lopon Tenzin Namdak. I stayed in Nepal through the spring of 2000 and came home after receiving signs that I should return to the west and apply what I had learned in the east, back into my Western occult training.
How much has Eastern thought informed your daily practice?
A massive amount. Even though I don’t often teach on Tantric topics directly the manner in which meditation, ceremonial magic, folk magic and energy work combine seamlessly to make a potent system is something that informs everything I do. Indeed, the teachings in my Sorcery of Hekate course were only possible because of my eastern training.
You call your particular approach to magic Strategic Sorcery. How is it different from Ceremonial Magic and/or Witchcraft?
Well let’s take the Sorcery part first. I use that term for two reasons. The first is precisely that it is not Ceremonial Magic or Witchcraft. It’s something in between. It’s also purely operative and speaks to someone doing magic meant to make changes in the world. It is possible to call yourself a magician but be concerned only with spiritual growth. It is possible to be a Witch and be concerned only with religious celebration. There is no mistaking the Sorcerer—he is there to cast spells and mess around with minds and events.
The Strategic part comes from my approach to the art. I don’t just believe in doing magic then following it up with mundane actions – I believe in the strategic melding of the two. One informs the other at every stage of the game until you reach your goals. A lot of people out there are perfectly capable at spells and magic, but apply it in ways that are counter-productive and shortsighted. Strategic Sorcery is the answer to that.
It’s public knowledge that you had a transformative experience around Hecate while traveling in the far east, without going into the details that are intimate, can you tell us a little about it?
Yes absolutely. I had been sent by Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche to the charnel ground of Pashupatinath where I was supposed to meditate on my own impermanence. Pashupatinath is on the Bhaghamati River and is like Varnassi in India, in that they perform open air cremations on the ghats, platforms that line the river. On the third day of meditating on the cremations I had a vision of a woman in saffron robe that was more Greek in style than Tibetan or Nepalese. I knew somehow it was Hekate and when I objected that I was doing something else she told me that all charnel grounds are hers. She told me to go to the wilderness when I got back to the States and offer her a supper of Eggs and Honey at a three way crossroads.
When I returned to NJ, I went to the Pine Barrens and that is exactly what I did. That was the beginning of a teaching that has taken 13 years to receive and process. The system that I now teach in my Sorcery of Hekatetraining.
Much of your written work seems to focus on individual work, is there a “lodge” or “group” equivalent?
I am all for people working in groups and there are now a few Strategic Sorcery groups out there that work together, but there is no Lodge in the sense of the OTO or Golden Dawn. I am not one much for degrees and titles and I always learned best from individuals rather than groups. In a sense the entire Strategic Sorcery community (now over 1400 people!) is a group in that we perform global rites that are linked by doing them the same way at the same time. A “meeting in the air” as they say.
Much of your work is quite innovative, where will it be in 5, 10 or 20 years?
Oh who can say? I am launching a new course this week on Sorcery for Entrepreneurs. I am very passionate about financial magic and getting Pagans and Magicians to take their finances on as part of their path, rather than something that they avoid or think of as inherently unspiritual. In five years I hope that it and the other courses are still flourishing and that I am still learning new things.
In ten years I hope to be traveling a bit more as my kids will be almost grown. I would like to start giving weekend and week-long retreats at that point where we can go deep into immersive practice and learning.
In 20 years I will be 64, and like Ringo says “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” I hope so. I would love to be traveling more with my wife and scaling back my active teaching at that point so that I am mostly answering questions and commenting on the teachings I have already produced. That is as close to retirement as I want to get. I hope to still be in the game and still relevant.
Bibliography of Jason Miller’s Books
Protection and Reversal Magick (Beyond 101), New Page Books; June 15, 2006
The Sorceror's Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick, New Page Books; August 1, 2009
Financial Sorcery: Magical Strategies to Create Real and Lasting Wealth, New Page Books; July 22, 2012
Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic, New Page Books; November 24, 2014
Jason's blog can be found here