Aaron Leitch is a senior member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the academic Societas Magica. A scholar, practitioner, and teacher of Western Hermeticism, the Solomonic grimoire tradition, and Enochian magick, he has authored such titles as Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical Language: Vols. I and II and The Essential Enochian Grimoire.
You can visit Aaron on the web here.
Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: That would have to be my successful performance of the Abramelin Operation, which took place back in 1998. Literally everything my life has become, stemmed directly from that single working. Everything I’ve since learned about magick and spirituality, all of the long-term relationships I’ve managed to develop with different angels and spirits, my ascension through the Cicero’s Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, my writing career, my ordination as a Gnostic priest, and even more than one occasion where I should have died or suffered in some manner but my Guardian(s) had my back – every single bit of it traces back to that one last-ditch effort to connect with the Higher or die trying.
Not only did I achieve something wonderful in my life by completing the Abramelin Rite, but I even did it during a time when there existed no resources to help me whatsoever. There were no instructional books, videos, or Facebook groups dedicated to Abramelin. And there certainly weren’t many (or really any) people who claimed to have successfully completed the Rite. We didn’t even have the Dehn edition of the original (German) grimoire back then – I was stuck with only the Mathers’ (French) version. I had to fly almost completely in the dark to do it – but somehow I pulled it off anyway. Not bad for a 24-year old thickheaded geek who was only beginning to break out of the headspace of the 19th/20th century psychological model of magick.
Q: Who are your personal hero’s, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: Wow, there are quite a few of them! And not all of them are my heroes for occultism, either. Such as my fellow GD member Matt; when I met him he was playing in a small but rising local band. I got to watch as they went from playing local venues to global fame. Watching him achieve his dream had a lot to do with me finishing my first book (Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires) – so much so, I gave him a signed copy of the book that included a thank you note.
Another hero of mine is a magician (that is, a stage magician) named Jon Armstrong. I met him in high school, where he was one year my junior. He was already a dedicated sleight-of-hand artist, and I and several others convinced him to teach us card magic. (Thanks to him, close-up magic is what I did for a short while after graduating high school.) I watched Jon grow and strive throughout the years, from a high school kid with big dreams to a world famous performer. With friends like these, who needs motivational speakers??
My first real occult hero was Donald Michael Kraig – whose book “Modern Magick” was the first real book about magick I got my hands on, and where I consider my path as a career mage to have truly begun. Then, of course, I found Chic and Tabatha Cicero – whose massive library of Golden Dawn teachings picked up where Don Kraig left off and took me to entirely new heights. Thankfully, I have had the pleasure – no, the incredible good fortune! – to have met, befriended and even become like family to these heroes of mine. Thus, I am thankful for much more than just their published work, as I have had the opportunity to “sit at their feet” (as they say) and learn from them directly.
Of course, I have to also mention my dear friend Ochani Lele. As I have written elsewhere, Ochani is a Santo who was instrumental to my early attempts to understand the grimoires. I dare say my performance of Abramelin was only made possible because I had him to consult. He didn’t practice the Solomonic grimoires, but we both quickly learned there are more than a few similarities between the Old (Western) Magick and what the practitioners of the ATRs (African Traditional Religions) do in their religions.
I could go on – there are names you wouldn’t recognize, like Steve Kinney and John Palato (just two names I can actually remember) – other practitioners who came into my life when they were most needed and taught me things I needed to know. They are all my heroes, because I have so much to thank them for.
Q: What are your thoughts on the importance of tradition?
A: That’s a loaded question – and let me explain why. When you ask this question out in the wild, you can expect to hear from two distinct camps: Side A says you must stick to the traditions or else you are wasting your time. Side B says you should never be trapped in some dusty old dogma (aka “tradition”), and free yourself to explore and try out new things. And, as usual, neither side really “gets it.”
Tradition for the sake of tradition is irrelevant. Innovation for the sake of innovation is equally irrelevant. What matters is what works, only what works, and nothing but what works. Yet, sadly, when you say “use only what works” most people hear “mix and match as much as you can/want from different traditions and make it all up as you go along.” And that is just as wrong.
I represent a third party – one you never hear from in the debates: I follow a tradition because it works. There is no part of my practice that is “just bells and whistles” or “props.” And I realize a lot of folks are going to scoff at that, because they perceive the Solomonic grimoires as overflowing with unnecessary bells and whistles. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
The authors of the grimoires didn’t make up their magick – they were basing their practices on systems that have been around for thousands of years. (See the PGM and the Picatrix, for example) Sure, their grimoires reflect their particular time and place – but all of the occult principles of their magick are ancient. And why have those principles survived for thousands of years and transmission through many different cultures to reach the grimoires? Because they work, they have always worked, and they will continue to work in the future.
Q: Do you have a favorite spirit to work with?
A: Damn straight. First and foremost is my Holy Guardian Angel, and then my four Familiars. I also do a lot of work with Iophiel and Sachiel, some with Michael, and even a bit with Samael when necessary. I strongly believe every practitioner should develop long-standing relationships with their Patrons and Familiars. You must have a small number of go-to spirits who know you well, because that is where the real magick happens. I strongly – very strongly – disagree with treating spirit-catalogs like fast-food order menus. If you summon spirit after spirit who doesn’t know you, you’re just spinning in circles.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: Each and every time I perform magick that works. I don’t mean that I doubt myself before performing a spell (though, admittedly, I have struggled with that very thing). However, even after all of these years and all the times I have seen magick work in a demonstrable fashion (usually in some emergency situation where it made all the difference), I still can’t help but be tickled and impressed when it happens. Over the years, I’ve sadly lost a lot of the awe and wonder I use to feel when studying or practicing magick – but I sure hope that little feeling of glee after a job well done never leaves me.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: My established spiritual connections on the other side of the veil. The tools and tech are all important in their various ways – but I could do magick chained to a wall in a dungeon, so long as I can meet with my Guardians and Familiars. They are the source of the magick, after all.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: For as long as I can remember. I wrote a teen romance novel when I was 15, had created an entire series of sci-fi books (and actually written most of the first one) before I left high school. In college I tried my hand at getting some fictional short stories published (vampire tales – just before vampires were pussified), but I quickly learned that was a dead-end path. Later, I learned it was much easier to get non-fiction published, make a name for yourself, and then try the fiction. I now have several non-fiction books in print that everyone loves, and one fiction book (I co-authored ) that no one has read.
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
A: That would entirely depend on the young aspiring magician and his or her situation. However, I think your question is best answered by my responses to questions 3 and 4. Understanding those two things will go far in steering any student away from the veritable tsunami of mediocre, re-hashed, made-up, dark fluff, and sometimes even predatory pop-occultism. You don’t learn magick by making things up as you go along, or cobbling together your “own” system from bits and pieces of everyone else’s systems. You learn magick by establishing life-long relationships with the spiritual entities who can teach you the real thing.
Q: Of the books you have written, do you have a personal favorite? If so, which one?
A: I can’t really say any one of them is my favorite. To be honest, they aren’t all different books at all. Each one is really a continuation of the one before. “Secrets…” was my first book – and it’s a primer for all that follows. “The Angelical Language (vols I and II)” and the “Essential Enochian Grimoire” pick up where “Secrets…” leave off. And “Ritual Offerings” could be thought of as an advanced supplement to either “Secrets…” or “Essential…” My planned future projects are all part of this same collective family – more Enochian work, Abramelin, etc. You could start with “Secrets…” and just read all of my books in chronological order as a connected study course.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: I used to enjoy talking to them to stump them. But the novelty of that wore off over time. I realized the futility of challenging them when I once tried to tell them about the Tetragrammaton and what it means. They looked at me like I had three heads, handed me a pamphlet, and retreated. You know what the pamphlet was about? The Tetragrammaton! And I mean by that very name: the pamphlet spoke about “Tetragrammton” and even illustrated it in Hebrew. The people who were trying to “convert” me hadn’t even bothered to read their own literature!
Now I just say “no thanks” and close the door.
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: I think they should have the same effect and focus in politics as religion should have – zero. There was certainly a time when magick and politics went hand in hand – just as religion and politics did as well. And, today, we are seeing some massive efforts by some very evil people to re-merge the two. But there was a very good reason we sought to separate religion and politics, and I stand firmly behind that.
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t personally talk to the Enochian angels about world events and even ask them to intervene if they are willing. But any time a politician declares he should be leader because he has contacts with some group of angels, or “God”, he should be run out of town on a rail. After tarring and feathering.