An Interview With Cat Vincent

For those of you who are not already familiar with Cat and his work, he is an established magician, author and noted Fortean journalist known best for his work as a professional combat magician.

You can lean more about Cat at following links:

Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?

A: The tricky thing with magic is its subjectivity: it’s hard to tell if what happens would have happened anyway without your magical intervention, for the most part! So there’s a bunch of things that seemed huge to me but I can’t honestly say if they were truly significant in the greater scheme of things.

I will take a little bit of credit for this stream of events, however…

The Working I did with Daisy Eris Campbell in Liverpool’s Mathew Street, under the bust of CG Jung on 23 February 2014, to summon the power of synchronicity (I called on John Constantine!) to manifest Daisy’s staging of Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger. This event, in turn, led to the recent Festival 23, which was one of the greatest magical experiences of my life.

The chain begins here… and continues with and

Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?

A: Top of the list: the two Wilsons, Robert Anton and Colin. Reading their work in my early teens showed me that there were other people – and, significantly for me, working-class people – who saw the world as being just as strange as I did… and, importantly, they gave me a context for it all.

Later; writers such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Doreen Valiente, Starhawk, Patrick Harpur, Warren Ellis (though not a practitioner, his fiction inspires me often), Andrew Vachss (who knows his ch’i), Terry Pratchett, Kate Griffin (whose London-set urban fantasy changed how I work in that most magical of cities). And one can’t forget Aleister Crowley; for all his flaws, Uncle Fester was a titan of the Art.

Of people I know well, I have to thank Christina Oakley Harrington, proprietor of Treadwell’s Bookshop in London, for her support and mentoring; Daisy and the other Cosmic Trigger Pullers for the honour of treating me as one of their shamen; my old mate Neil Gaiman for conversations and that time he quoted me in Sandman; and my sensei David Southwell for making my magical world wider. And especially my beloved friend, the late Diana Wynne Jones, always in my heart.

Q: What lead you to becoming a professional “combat magician”?

A: I’d been helping people for years who’d had occult problems – many of them dealing with curses or unpleasantness flung around by irate witches, sometimes problems with what appeared to be ghosts or such – and my reputation for being able to handle these events spread. Do enough of those gigs, you develop a robust set of tools for dealing with (technical term) “bad weird shit”.

When I came into what I’ll call an ‘alternative income stream’, I had the bio-survival safety to risk running the idea of a professional paranormal security group – effectively, combat magicians for hire in a protection-only capacity – up the flagpole. My company, Athanor Consulting, lasted from 2001 to ’09. I think we helped some people, and we never over-charged or took on a client I felt would be better served by mental health professionals.

Q: What is the effect of pop culture (primarily science fiction and fantasy) on magic?

A: For me and a growing number of practitioners, immense.

We are, in many ways, the sum of our myths and stories, our metaphors and maps – magic is essentially using our maps to try and reshape the territory. These stories mostly live in pop culture (PC) these days. And there’s a delightful positive feedback loop of many creators also being practitioners – and being out about this is increasingly common, so they act as a beacon to others who find their truths in such tales.

It’s a long quote, but this anonymous Tumblr post sums up the position well; the writer is talking to the believers in the ‘old Gods’ of myth, orthodox religion and antiquity who spurn PC beliefs:

“You say they’re only characters. You say they’re not real.

But where were you when I needed to grow?

Where were you when I needed to believe?

Where were you when I was dying?

Who saved my life?

Because it wasn’t you.

They’re more than fiction. They were there for me even if they weren’t real.

They were there when you weren’t. They’re more than you think they are.”

More on this in my Darklore article and much more in my upcoming book, ‘New Gods and Monsters’.

Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your magical practice?

A: In terms of cause/effect impact: when I accidentally cursed a teacher at seven years old and they committed suicide a few weeks afterward. Of course, that could have been just coincidence… but it at least made me very careful what I pointed my mind at.

The first deliberate one was the series of workings I did in London in the 1980s with the Sufi trickster-entity Khidr: The Green Man made himself very clearly manifest.

Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?

A: The internet.

Second, my wand: I’ve used an acupuncture-grade laser pen for over a decade and it gives superb results (plus, occulty beasties seem to severely dislike coherent light).

And, at worst, it distracts cats.

Q: What is your favorite libation?

A: Ardbeg Uigeadail single malt whisky.

Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?

A: Read extensively; listen to your instincts, but don’t assume they’re always right; ask questions carefully of anyone who will talk to you; remember that nobody has all the answers or even necessarily the right ones; trust, but verify; treat any weird shit that happens – especially anything that seems like it’s an intelligence – as if it is real, not as real. Keep notes: your older self will thank you.

And… respect consent; or someone like me will hunt you down.

Q: What is your personal favorite book of magical instruction?

A: The Invisibles, by Grant Morrison and sundry artists.

Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?

A: Depends on my mood! Sometimes I’ll be terrible and engage them theologically; sometimes I’ll just say “Sorry, I am not for the Jesus-Man.”

Q: How did you get the nickname “Cat”?

A: School nickname: it’s from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, short for Maxelcat, editor of the Guide… who got so fat that they had to buy him a new planet because he slid off the old one. (I didn’t say it was a kind nickname… but it stuck.)


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