in 2014, occultist author and teacher Josephine McCarthy, after two years of discussions between herself and Frater Acher, undertook to write a full ‘no holds barred’ in depth magical training course from beginner all the way through to adept and beyond that will always be available free online as downloadable lessons: that course is Quareia.
A comment from Josephine:
'I became aware that there is no accessible high quality training that is freely available, free of dogmatic styles, agendas or commercial interest. Magical training that is heavily tied to profits, fashions, and group politics cannot flourish properly, nor can an individual fully grow in such an environment. True magical development is dying under the weight of heavy commercialization and group factions: it is time to look at a different way of ensuring that the integrity of magic continues for future generations.
“Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much."
– Francis Bacon
The Quareia course is a long and extensive training in mystical magic/Western Esotericism that gives the student a deep understanding of theoretical and practical magic that can then be applied in any magical system. The course also includes progressive teaching in ancient, classical, and medieval history, cultures and religions, geography, literature, mythology, classical languages, art, and civil responsibility. Students are free to choose how much or how little they study and draw from the training, and as sole practitioner training it encourages self organisation and personal responsibility.
Many of the practical questions students may have are answered in the Apprentice Study Guide which can be found on our free texts page. To begin the course, go to the Apprentice drop down menu, click on Apprentice Module One, Lesson One. Do all the lessons and modules in sequence and do not skip any lesson or module - also ensure that you do all of the practical work as well as theory study.
What is Western Esotericism?
Professor Antoine Faivre - founding member European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism and retired Professor at the E.P.H.E. ( Religious Studies), Sorbonne University, France, proposed calling esotericism in the modern West a form of thought identifiable by the presence of four intrinsic conceptual characteristics:
1-The idea of correspondences. There exist invisible and non-causal correspondences between all visible and invisible dimensions of the cosmos.
2- Living nature. The cosmos is not merely complex or plural, nor can it be reduced to a network of correspondences. It is also alive.
3- Imagination and mediations. These two notions are complementary. Imagination is the tool of knowledge of the self, of the world, of myth that makes visible the invisible.
4- The experience of transmutation. The transmutation of oneself through an illuminated knowledge.
Studying the history of Western esotericism leads us to question and deconstruct the intellectual and religious canon by focusing on a wide range of figures, philosophies, movements and practices that occupy the contested margins of Western culture
- Prof Dr Wouter I Hanegraaff Faculty of Humanities University of Amsterdam.
Quareia: the Magical Training
An in-depth look at the course, how it works and what it does
The following in-depth overview of the course is due to appear in German, in the German language periodical Gnostika
Quareia is a practical magical training course that is complete from total beginner to adept. It is aligned to no particular school or specific religious/mystical school of thought, and yet it looks at and works with some of the many different magical, religious, and mystical practices that have influenced magical thinking in the Near Eastern and western world since the early Bronze Age to present day.
It is divided into three sections, Apprentice, Initiate and Adept, each section being 500,00 words, each split into ten modules, with eight lessons per module, and each section having one extra initiatory lesson. It is a self-study course, but light touch mentoring is offered from the Initiate section onwards if required, and the whole course can be bought in book form, or is also offered in its entirety for free as online download study modules.
The course is not an academic study exercise, rather it is a course that is highly practical in its application, in conjunction with study. It is wide and deep in its subject reach, and takes between six and ten years to complete. The course does not rely on belief; rather it is rooted in knowledge and practical personal experience, thus ultimately creating a unique path for each individual.
Quareia was put together in a fast paced ever changing world that relies heavily upon interconnection (the internet), and that is culturally diverse. Most magical systems used today, bar chaos magic, reach backwards to mono cultures, where one race, one religion, or one mythology is the common theme that the mysteries are explored through. Such methods were necessary for their time, but our modern world no longer finds such isolation relevant. In a multi-cultural and less structured religious world, people are seeking evolution without religious dogma, without magical dogma: and yet all religions and all cultures hold keys in common with regards to magic and mysticism. Scratch beyond the surface details and the underbelly of the Mysteries stays for the most part, the same. With this in mind, Quareia was constructed to address this plasticity in the modern world.
The apprentice section approaches this plasticity through paradox: the Rule of Absolutes. The student learns a technique, ritual or visionary construct and is told, ‘this is it!’ A wall of arrival is placed before them in order to contain their consciousness, to give it firm boundaries, rules, and finality. This becomes ‘the weight that the muscle has to lift in order to become strong’. By learning something from within such a confined mindset, instead of constantly looking for the next best or more powerful thing, they are forced to look in detail, to endlessly repeat something in order for the hidden to emerge into their minds and experiences (It is a dynamic I learned by studying the Vaganova ballet method). Once that is gained, the boundaries are removed, and the student moves on to the next step on the ladder. The knowledge base of the student is expanded throughout the course by not only working with magical subject matter and techniques, but also looking at ancient and classical texts, history, geography, geometry, religions, and myths.
However it is the visionary ritual practice that evolves the student: the mystical progress happens not through the attaining of knowledge, but the internal development that comes with direct visionary and ritual experience. That is also where, as the student develops through the course, they learn what can be debated and spoken of, and what is held silent within. There are no rules of secrecy; rather the student learns their own deep personal silence through wisdom and experience, not through laws. The mysteries hide in plain sight, there is no need for a rule of silence other than the one personally adhered to.
The whole course is built as a pyramid structure, with a wide and strong foundational base, and where each subsequent layer becomes more condensed, more architecturally complex, until the final pinnacle becomes the final modules which are shorter, far more focused and demanding, and where the student has to draw upon everything he or she learned in the wide foundation in order to make sense of it. The course is not reference friendly: it cannot be really dipped in and out of in order to retrieve bites of knowledge: every layer, every step is magically and intellectually dependent upon the many steps before it. The theory and practice are heavily interwoven through all the layers, which are all magically dependent upon one another, like a complex weave. This discourages skimming, bullet pointing, and ‘cherry picking’ which is an endemic problem in magical study: everyone becomes a google expert in magic.
Within that weave, subject matter is studied in a spiral manner: subject matter is introduced, and then later revisited numerous times for ever deepening layers: as the student’s knowledge and skill base develops, they go back to an overall subject, and look at it again in a different way, from a different angle with more knowledgeable eyes. They are introduced to the most surface layer of a subject, a layer that is closest to what they know. Later another layer takes the subject back further in time/history, without necessarily linking it to the first layer: it is up to the student to spot the connections, and to finally see the fragmenting of ideas and additions of dogma that occurred over time, for themselves. Sometimes I help by pointing the way and showing comparisons, other times I do not. An example of this is introducing the student to Biblical and Greek text, and later Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian texts, all around the same subject matter. This enables the student to slowly see the development and then degeneration of concepts as they travel down through time, while also retaining fragments of the mysteries within them. It is not done in a strictly academic way, but rather in a more informal way, so that the student can relax, experiment with the practical work, and have personal flashes of inspiration.
This ensures that vast subjects like ‘Creation and Destruction’ are studied as deeply as possible throughout the training, looking at the subject from an ethical, mythological, historical, magical, religious, and practical personal perspective. Not only does this give the student a deeper understanding of the subject, it also teaches them to look at the topic through peripheral study of geography, history, development of medicine from alchemy, religious dogmatic thought and most importantly, where that dogma came from, and what it was originally trying to express.
The first section of the course, the Apprentice, seeks to educate the seeker in the basics of magic; not just the techniques, but the reasons for those techniques, where those techniques potentially come from, and how that magic can affect ourselves and the world around us.
The first stages of the magicians training, overseen in the apprentice section, serve to guide the student through mental and physical self-discipline, and to introduce them to concepts while dismantling the often dogmatically instilled misconceptions that many come to the training with. In today’s modern western world, the student often arrives at the study of magic with a dizzying array of counterproductive ideas: for example many perceive magic as something that can be used to compensate for personal weakness. Magic is seen as a tool for getting back at enemies, acquiring riches, and acquiring control over other people, partners, and so forth. It is seen as a counter weight for the often powerless situations people find themselves in a competitive ‘first past the post’ world. Others are dawn to magic from childhood, and yet have little understanding of its reach, its effect on the persona, and on the world around them. New students often have little self-awareness, and many feel that cramming themselves with theoretical knowledge will make them into a magician. These are all massive hurdles that stand between the development of magic, and themselves.
From the very beginning, the student is taught how to respect nature and the environment around them, from simple tasks like picking up litter, to learning how to connect and commune with natural expressions of the elements around them: the land, the rivers, the mountains, the wind. They learn that everything living and elemental thing around them has consciousness. Later in the course, they will be introduced to the ancient ritual and magical/religious expressions of nature through the Hermopolis Ogdoad. They will also look at other cultures and how they expressed the primal powers of nature through the deities, and this in turn will inform them of how humanity creates interfaces in order to commune and interact with the raw forces of the world around them.
The apprentice is taught not to look at themselves, but to look at the world around them, for by looking at the world, they will see themselves. This section constantly looks outwards in order for the student to learn how to look inwards without triggering narcissism and arrogance. Ethics, balance and evolution of thought are looked at and experimented with, and the student is introduced to the concepts of spirits, and how different cultures perceived and interacted with such none physical beings. The student then applies that understanding through their own experiences as they are placed in magical situations designed to trigger direct awareness and interaction. That dawning of awareness triggers a process of destruction: what no longer serves a purpose to the student is stripped away voluntarily. The final module in the apprentice section explores the dynamics of destruction, something people in the west are taught to fear. The student looks at destruction from an inner worlds, personal, and outer perspective, and one of the final acts in the apprentice section is to step away from the mundane, and the ancestral, and to present themselves at the threshold of the mystical magical path.
This threshold to initiate training is the first true step of the mysteries, not the beginning of the apprentice section. The student formally declares to his ancestors in visionary ritual, be my companion in work, but no longer my binding. This draws upon an ancient ritual pattern dynamic found in Ancient Egypt from the Old Kingdom onwards, and is also found in a fragmented form in Isiah 43:6 in the Torah. Upon this step, the student stands on the threshold of the outer mysteries and reads, Procul, O Procul Este, Profani. They step into the outer court of the mysteries as they step into the Initiate section of training.
At the beginning of the Initiate section, the first module takes them back in a circular method to look again at core skills, from a more detailed perspective. As they progress deeper into the Initiate section, they start to look at the underlying dynamics behind the three foundational power branches of creation, stasis and destruction, and how they manifest through magic and also through the world around them. I felt it important to move students away from the surface patterns and cultural presentations (i.e. Kabbalistic, Golden Dawn, religious, and so forth), in order for them to grasp the natural power dynamics that express through various magical and mystical systems: looking at the root rather than the leaves. By understanding these deeper dynamics without a dogmatic cultural dressing, the student can begin to recognise those dynamics in various mystical and magical texts from different cultures and how they interrelate.
A lot of the Initiate section is about beings and structures, where the initiate explores deeper aspects and concepts, while having their preconceived ideas challenged. This is done by ‘looking under the hood’ – focusing on the engine of the car as opposed to the paint colour and fancy wheels. Deities are explored in practical, visionary, ritual, and theoretical ways by understanding them as vessels and windows, substations and thresholds for natural power and expression, but then drawing that deep focus back in order to work with a deity as a humanesque form they can interface with. This often creates a conflict in the mind of the magician, as they are pulled in one direction by childhood and cultural dogmatic programming, and on the other by the magical concepts that they are presented with. This conflict serves to create internal debates, to question everything the student thinks they know, which takes them to the stage whereby practical experience through trained visionary experience becomes a player alongside theory. In terms of working with deities, the initiate is placed in situations where they have daily communion with a chosen deity. Such work is a double edged sword, as it can quickly slide into worship, begging, or looking for a parent. The student learns, through the experiences that build with such practice, what its major pitfalls are, and what its benefits are, and the difference between a magical relationship with a deity, and a religious one. They also learn, by direct experience, how such relationships are often tidal, and that a continuous linear act of daily interface can become destructive regardless of what deity it is.
Their experiences will be unique, and each student will come away from those experiences with very personal gnosis. And that gets to the very foundation of the purpose of the training – the path is walked alone, even if they are helped, and the experiences are truly theirs. Each magician should emerge from training as a unique adept, whose understanding and methods are different to their peers. That is not achieved by freedom in the training, but by direct personal experiences that shape their development. The strict adherence to the training is the ‘weightlifting in the gym’, but what the person does with those developed muscles as an adept ends up a unique expression of self.
At the end of the initiate section, the Initiate stands upon the threshold once more, a doorway to the inner mysteries. They go through the first octave of a mystery that will continue to re-present throughout their magical lives, and deepen with each re visit. They work in visionary ritual to accept the narrow path that is before them, and go through a ‘lesser death and weighing of the heart’ from the Egyptian Book of Coming Forth by Day, and Crossing the Abyss. This is also the first time the title ‘Justified’ is mentioned, a state whereby the student is accepted as Justified to walk forward into the deeper mysteries. It is an Egyptian term and has, like most Middle Egyptian words, many layers to it, as the student and later, Adept, finds out.
As the student steps moves into the adept training, they are first immersed in the technicalities of magical patterns at an advanced level: the geometric patterns, patterns of formation, and patterns of consciousness are worked with and studied in preparation for the magician to learn to apply them in visionary construction: filters that power can pass through. Through the training of magical construction, they begin to see how many of the foundation blocks in training come together and express through functional skills that the adept them applies. Through learning how to construct an inner temple, the adept candidate practically learns the meanings behind many obscure and hidden magical images, and learns how those images express a working dynamic, hidden in plain sight.
The adept student learns outer skills as well as magical ones, as the two are always interlinked. The student, who by now should have a good grounding in ancient and classical texts, of history, and an understanding of patterns of power, patterns of behaviour, and so forth, learns to look at magical texts with an adept eye. They are taught the Kabbalistic reading method of PaRDeS (Peshat, Remez, Derash, and Sod) so that they can learn to peel back the surface layers in a magical grimoire to reveal what is hidden in plain sight within the texts. Old texts and particularly texts from the twelfth to seventeenth century Europe and Near East deploy this method of writing and reading when approaching the subject of mysticism and magic.
The student moves from decoding and exploring to the next set of modules that are advanced practical skills in the various disciplines in magic, and lessons on the dynamics of teaching. Once they have accomplished them, they are ready to take the final steps, which are catalysts as opposed to lessons. The final module takes the magician through a series of visionary and ritual processes that push their endurance, their sense of self, and test their magical abilities to the limit. This is done loosely through the Egyptian pattern of the Book of Gates, a little known initiatory funeral text that appeared briefly between the end of the eighteenth dynasty (Horemheb), and the beginning of the twentieth dynasty (Ramses III). At the end of the course, the student steps into the role of Justified adept. This is not a grand title to be worn with pride, rather it is a condition that is like walking a sword edge, and of being the fulcrum of the scales. Upon death, the soul will be tested in its ability to be that fulcrum, a prefect depiction of which can be seen in the Fifth Gate of the Book of Gates.
If the course is simply read, then it is an intellectual exercise, nothing more. However, the practical ritual, visionary work, and magical acts start right at the beginning of the course and continue throughout. Each step along the way presents the student with a glamour, and a rung on the ladder, a similar idea to Classical Greek pattern of the horn and ivory: Socrates said, “Listen then,” I said, “to my dream, to see whether it comes through horn or through ivory” – (from Plato’s Charmides). Through trial, error and success, the student slowly learns to discern what is truly of the mysteries and what is glamour. The more they learn through direct experience, the more they learn that we know virtually nothing in the face of the Great Mysteries.
To read about the formation of The Quareia Foundation please click here