Armchair Magicians and Real Trans* People

This will be an odd little entry, as in it I hope to address questions of authenticity concerning both the T and the sorcery of my blog’s subtitle. Particular questions, not general ones. I hope the result is somehow coherent…


I’ve read in blogs and various places several times phrases similar to this — “I consider an armchair magician to be a parody of a magician.”

Similarly some feminists, mostly last-generation ones or maybe the generation before that (the history of feminism isn’t my forte),  have said of transsexual women things like this — “He’s a man who has mutilated his body” or even “He’s a man who’s mutilated his body in order to exercise male privilege over women.”

None of those is a direct quote, but rather a paraphrase of a direct quote. I’m not going to get directly involved with people who make such claims nor with their foolishness. For reasons that I hope are rather obvious, if you’ve been following my little blog, when it’s claimed that any subgroup of people are mere parodies of real members of said group, I get frustrated, angry. I’ll start with armchair magicians, so called.


An armchair magician is one who reads about the occult, about magic, who has probably over time accumulated considerable knowledge of the bewildering maze that is occultism and can thread that maze intellectually, but chooses not to practice magic. An armchair magician who never speaks of his (pardon the non-inclusive language, English simply is a sexist tongue) interest to practitioners perforce remains unknown, so the armchair magicians I’m concerned with here must also perforce have reached out in some way to magical practitioners. Perhaps on online forums, perhaps they never miss Pantheacon. For this reaching out they get called, by some, parodies. (N.B.: I’m using the term magician here as a blanket term for any practitioner of magic — there are no doubt armchair witches, armchair sorcerers, armchair vodouissants, etc., etc.) —I deplore this.

Think of the huge amount of knowledge some of these folks must possess. Practicing magic takes time away from learning the lore of magic. The armchair magician has no praxis to exhaust his time. All that knowledge isn’t sitting idle in his unconscious. The human brain and mind are always busy. I imagine that knowledge as being worked on by the unconscious, that new neural pathways and neural maps are being forged, new connections between knowledge and knowledge are forming all the time. If this is true — and who can or can’t say as of the present time that it isn’t true? — then the armchair magician’s mind may well be transmutating his accumulated knowledge into wisdom, all unknown to the armchair magician himself. The transmutation of knowledge into wisdom — that’s magic.

Again, who at this present time can say it isn’t so? I do not mean to be saying I believe this of all non-practicing occultists, but I believe this is quite possibly the case for some, for a few, or maybe for most. I simply do not know and neither does anyone else. My idea is a what if. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. —This what if is the reason I wish those who call armchair magicians parodies would STFU. I’m not saying that these practitioners have no right to call whoever they wish a parody. They have the right to act and speak stupidly. Many exercise this right daily. Visit any occult forum online and see for yourself.

Hence I regard the armchair magician as a member of a subgroup of all bona fide magicians.


As I answered the question posed by the armchair magician with a what if, I’m going to address the question of who are the real trans* people and who aren’t by means of a what if.

What if someday genetic markers are found that can with great accuracy “diagnose” transsexuality in a person? I put the word “diagnose” in scare quotes because transsexuality is not a defect nor a genetic disorder. There’s a great probability this test will in fact be possible some day. But what if, say, a transsexual woman were to take this genetic test and find that she does not possess the “right” genetic markers?  Would she then somehow, in that instant, become a fake transsexual woman? Would she, in short, in that instant become a man who has mutilated his body and is parodying a real woman? No.

Why not? Because we cannot and must not regard genetics as fate. To do so is to reduce the human being to the status of a machine. All humans have their robotic, machine-like behaviors. But men and women, the genderqueer and the intersexed, are also transcendent spirits. We all possess within us a spark of the Divine. Another way of saying the same thing is that we all exist in part at the metaphysical level of perfection, the highest wrung on the ladder. We are each of us a potential Buddha, we are all potentially just like the Master Yeshua. To reduce the human being to the level of a machine is, to my mind, blasphemy. Genetics is machinery. We are far more than our genes.

That brings us back to the transsexual woman of the near future who has failed the genetic test for transsexuality. Again, does that mean that she is not a real woman? No. She remains a woman for no other reason than she chose to become a woman. Choice … freedom to chose … without these we are each of us doomed to the state of machinery. Do you wish that for yourself? I doubt it. If you already believe that of yourself — in other words if you have already chosen the state of the machine for yourself, as many of the more militant atheists out there do — then I pity you. Poor machine… Only you’re not, you can kill your esprit but you can’t kill the spirit that you are.

Any male-bodied person who chooses to become a woman, is a woman. Any female-bodied person who chooses to become a man, is a man. Anyone at all who cannot or will not choose either gender, is neither male nor female, they’re genderqueer or intersexed. (I’m simplifying the terminology here, I know — the minutiae of queer theory change constantly and elude me).



There are many other groups of people who suffer similar judgment and ridicule. Otherkin, for example — therianthropes, Angelkin, Demonkin, Elfkin, and other Kins doubtless that I don’t know about. Who am I to ridicule them? The number of human beings currently living on our planet is fast approaching the sum total of all the human beings who ever lived before. Meanwhile we humans are wiping out the animal population of planet Earth. Where are these new souls coming from? —If you believe in any sort of rebirth, reincarnation, or metempsychosis, as I do, do you really think that nothing can go wrong between lives? in the bardo or the In Between, which is my own name for the state between lives? Do you think the transition from one life to another is always easy or smooth?

Why do I believe in reincarnation and the state I call the In Between? Because I have experienced them — I have crossed the Lethe in this lifetime. It is not always an easy or safe journey. Hence I’m willing to give Otherkin the benefit of the doubt. Some, without a doubt, merely engage in fantasies and wishful thinking. But all? I doubt it.

There are other harmless, ridiculed groups who make up very small and harshly judged minorities, but I’ve made or attempted to make my points, so there’s no need for further belaborment. I simply apply analogous thinking to them.

The Master Yeshua supposedly said Judge not lest ye be judged. I don’t believe in a One and Only True God, and I don’t believe in karma, at least not as the word has been flung around in the West since the advent of Theosophy. So if you judge and judge unfairly and harshly, who will be the one to judge you?

I will, for one. Whatever that’s worth. I don’t believe I’m alone.


17 thoughts on “Armchair Magicians and Real Trans* People

  1. catvincent says:

    I respectfully disagree.

    I won’t speak to your experience as a trans*person – I’m cismale and supportive, and hopefully know better. But I am a magician of over 40 years praxis, so I feel I can speak to that.

    Your contention that an occultist *may* be transmitting their position on matters occult on some unconscious unmediated level is an interesting theory – and that’s all it is. There is a functional difference between thinking about magic and maybe/possible/what-if-I’m-passing-on-those-thoughts and actually *doing magic*.

    In precisely the same way that someone who reads and thinks a lot about flying aircraft is *not* a pilot, that someone who reads and thinks a lot about martial arts and has never actually trained in hitting people is *not* a martial artist… someone who reads and thinks a lot about magic but never consciously does any *is not a magician*. Sorry.

    I do not disrespect those who study the Art and do not practice – I agree that condescension is out of place for these scholars – but their experience is, by definition, lacking the vital perspective of actually doing it. No amount of saying otherwise – or redefining ‘magic’ to justify this – will make it so.

    (Of course, definitions of magic are notoriously twisty, even among practitioners – for example, Alan Moore would define all art as a form of magic, and he has the praxis experience to draw on. Personally, I think such definitions blur the issue. For me, and most practitioners, magic means actually changing the outside world/other people through extramundane means via their will. All else is, at best, metaphor.)

    Possibly the reason there is so much scorn associated with this issue is that those claiming the position of Magician without practicing are, roughly, in the same position of someone who plays a lot of first person shooter games claiming to be a war veteran. It insults and demeans those who have actually experienced the difference between theory and practice, attempting to elevate the claimant without having “proven in”. The difference between Thinking and Doing here is, frankly, vast – it’s right up there with the difference between thinking about sex and actually having it with another person. To claim that mantle without the practical experience to back it up just makes you look gauche at best, demeaning at worst.

    I will not gainsay anothers experience of Mystery or mysticism – that’s always between oneself and the Tao – but I suspect there may be some conflating of the terms here. Your personal Cosmic Experience is not magic in any functional sense of the word. And magic is, at heart, about function. Changing your Self may be many things – it’s certainly alchemy, for example – but until it affects others directly, it’s not magic.

    With respect,

    Cat Vincent

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Cat, you make many valid points and have a viewpoint that’s valid in itself. We’ll have to respectfully disagree, however, as I will myself persist in giving armchair magicians every benefit of the doubt. There is more magic than results magic, and even though it’s only a theory, I will give them this benefit of the doubt and believe it’s possible that their studies work a kind of inner alchemy.

      As for results magic, please don’t mistake my mention of my “Cosmic Experience” or my defense of the armchair magician as meaning that I am an armchair magician. I am a practicing sorceress or witch — take you pick, the terminology isn’t that important to me except as an intellectual exercise — and when I do magic I obtain the results of my Will-Desire-Belief. And I do such magic far more days than not.

      Far too many self-styled magicians have no praxis, and they’re the ones who are have their pilot’s license and never fly a plane. I wasn’t talking about them. I don’t much care for liars. I was talking about self-proclaimed armchair magicians, the ones who don’t lie about their non-praxis. The ones who don’t at all claim to do magic but say openly they only study it. Perhaps I should revise my entry to make it clearer on that point. Thank you for pointing that out. I have no editor save folks like you.

      I will always stand up for those harmless minorities contemned for what they do or don’t do, and those despised merely for who they are.

      Thank you for your expressions of lack of judgment against and support for us transfolk. And thank you for your respectful comment.

      Respectfully in return, Rachel Izabella

      • catvincent says:

        Very glad we can respectfully disagree here!

        Sorry if I implied you were not a practitioner – chalk that up to my expression, not yours. And we certainly agree on the, shall we say “wanna-Blessed-Be’s”? – who talk a good game, are the pilots-without-flying. Those we’d sum up here in England in the pithy phrase “all mouth, no trousers”.

        I’d still say that if you’re going to style yourself a magician you’d better be able to back that up with action – there I suspect we agree in principle if not terminology.

        • Rachel Izabella says:

          “All mouth, no trousers” — that’s a good one. I’ll have to remember that and spring it on an English friend sometime. 🙂

          Rachel Izabella

        • Rachel Izabella says:

          Absolutely. We’re in complete agreement about actually calling oneself a magician and doing no magic and having no praxis. That’s just lying, whether to the world at large or sad self-deception.

  2. oh… Interesting take on armchair magicians…
    Honestly i don’t mingle much with that type of magicians and i had unpleasant experiences with those kind of “magicians”…
    Mostly they quote and quote books ad infinitum with no real basis in experience and its tedious but yes i agree with you everyone has a choice of their path and who am i to say that they are wrong for themselves, i may advice someone like that based on my knowledge and experience and that advice may be accepted or not, but beyond that free will must be not infringed.

    But let me be the “devils advocate” and give an comparison along the lines of yours… what if you take armchair magicians as a trans gender female in a male body which wants to change its body’s “hardware” to suit more the ultimate makeup that person as a Being has, but never really does the steps necessary.
    Talks and talks, to others and to her/him self in its own head, about that but never actually does that.
    To me armchair magicians are sometimes like that.
    Its great to learn all that knowledge from books and stuff … etc etc…
    But by taking a step or two farther than mere books, there is a vast, actually infinite, quantity of knowledge to explore.
    And basically its a shame that those people don’t take a step further, they are not to be shunted or insulted its only shame that someone with potential doesn’t grasp it to its fullest and beyond.

    Nice comparison with otherkin as well, but (me the devils advocate again XD) what of a person who instinctively feels like a wolf reacts like a wolf and smells like a wolf and never actually decides to go out and shape shift into a wolf and “satisfies” ,in a way, the craving of that part of its soul…
    Speaking from personal experience, people who are otherkin and don’t manifest actively that part of themselves, in what ever way, in three dimensional world, in other words, holding back, pretty soon get unstable on spiritual energy and emotional levels all the way to mundane world even.
    And that cripples the person in some ways and that persons Life, spiritual and mundane.
    That person can have problems steaming from that and after some time not actually realizing anymore that the root of her/his problems is that part of its soul is utterly neglected.

    That could be with armchair magicians… The specific path of a Beings soul nudged person to go into magic, but because of various “blocks” or “fears” that specific person did not go beyond studying it…
    Off course we can not generalize and i am sure that there are genuine paths in Life for a Being to be an armchair magician for an incarnation or two…
    But i believe that those kind of specific mutations and paths are rearer than the number of armchair magicians you can see around yourself.
    So that kind of people should not be ridiculed but should be nudged and advised and helped even to try to practice magic, to try to take another step. Often the fear is the root cause and not conscious choice, or even fear masked as choice to validate that choice.

    “Fear is the mindkiller… the little death..” XD


    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Dream, you make some interesting points that I’ll have to ponder. Points I never thought of before. For that I thank you. But because I need to ponder, I can’t give a worthy reply immediately. You’ve got me thinking though…

      A tip on pronominal etiquette. “It” isn’t a good pronoun choice for a human being. You didn’t single out transfolk with “it”, and I appreciate that, but as a transsexual woman I’m a little sensitive about pronouns, especially “it”. Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

      Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking about the points you raise.

      Much love, Rachel Izabella

      • And also i had Him/Her ( ) in back of my mind musing something in parallel.. so it escaped probably XD

        Sorry once again 🙂

      • Ugh..i think half of my reply got swallowed up 😛

        I just wanted to say (in first part) that i am sorry and didn’t in any way wanted to offend trans folk… I just shortened the “he/she” into “it” so it could wrap both of the pronouns XD
        In general i don’t understand pronoun “it” as something “not alive” or some such, but as the combination of both…and as i said in reply that got half swallowed it escaped.. XD

        • Rachel Izabella says:

          Please don’t worry about the “it’s”, Dream. May I call you Dream? I wasn’t offended, and if I sounded like it then I apologize.

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Dream Sky Dance, you’ve caused me to rethink my position on armchair magicians. Not a totally upturning of what I said in the post, but I’ve reflected upon my own behavior. I do indeed encourage those with an interest in the occult or some knowledge that there’s more to the world than meets the common eye to take it a step or two farther. But so far, no takers. Maybe I’m not persuasive, maybe they see the added complexity it would bring to their lives and recoil from that. For those who didn’t take it up when they were twelve years old the unseen world and magic seem like an unthreadable maze of complexity. —For some it conflicts with their religion or religious upbringing, for others the occult so-called is just added complexity they don’t feel able to take on. I don’t think I’ve met a person yet with such an interest or with, say, a bit of the Sight and who balked at my suggestion out of fear. It’s always something else.

      Very good point, the comparison you make on unwilling transfolk and armchair magicians. All I know is that I could not have come out to myself before I actually did, even though that caused me misery for many years. I wasn’t ready. For reasons that still remain unknown to me I wasn’t ready and literally could not come out to myself before I did. If someone had suggested to me that I was trans I would have swept that under the carpet, or I would have thought “It’s true but what can I ever do about it?” or made another excuse of some kind. In fact I was told several times that I was trans before I came out to myself, by Spirits of various kinds. Still I couldn’t accept it or move on that intel. It just wasn’t time. The the moment came and I accepted it completely in an instant. Could not something similar be the case with armchair magicians and seers who seemingly refuse to move farther? Perhaps they can’t because it isn’t their time, their moment has not yet come. —Maybe. They’re themselves and I’m me and never the twain can meet.

      I can’t hold it against such people, but you’ve opened my eyes to the time they’re losing. I could not have come out to myself sooner. But that doesn’t mean I don’t deeply regret the years of being a woman that were lost to me. I suppose “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven,” as the Byrds sang.

      As for Otherkin, I honestly don’t know enough them or about shapeshifting to say anything meaningful or cogent.

      Thank you so much for you comment. You have a beautiful webpage, btw! May I push you towards filling it up with juicy words? Just a little push? 🙂

      • Thank you for your reply… 🙂

        You may call me Dream XD

        Yes i intend to fill up the page with few more words, i have in my head a few topics i want to lay out at first, if nothing for people reading it to understand my terminology and all that XD

        Yes, there is a season for everything, but sometimes people with potential for something like that don’t use it to its fullest extent and, yes, its a shame in my opinion.
        They may not be ready, but when you are really ready for anything in your life, when you actually do it.
        So i believe that people with potential and interest should “come out of the corporeal” (to stay a bit in line with trans analogies XD ) at the first opportunity possible.

        In my opinion conflicts with religious upbringing, complexity in it, social “stigma” (as in “you are a sorcerer ?..bwahahaha… make me into a frog”…or “why do you play with your candles and chants, that things don’t exist, are you insane?”)…etc… all have root in Fear, if you look scrutinizingly enough.

        Actually (to digress a bit) many things than it seems at first glance in life we hold back to do have root in fear.
        I always set myself one simple question in that situations: “whats the worst thing that can possibly happen to me in any situation?” and the answer is “i could die”..and as we know soul is eternal, and it will all turn out ok in the end, and death is not so bad as it seems from the glasses of this schizophrenic society.
        To note, in real life threatening situations everybody should act like every other living Being and try to prolong or save its life, and fight for it, its natural, everybody does it.
        But in situations where someone could be ridiculed or cast out by their religion…etc… death is not likely, so its actually trivial in “grander scheme of things”…

        I think parallel could be drawn with Trans people, all LGBT people in general actually, because society at large, unfortunately, would be happiest to put LGBT people and sorcerers in padded cells or on bone fires.
        Who knows, maybe in 100 years will have protests on the streets not to put chips in our heads to control our brain patterns because we wont be able to meditate or to manipulate energies that way.

        Maybe there are some other reasons for people holding back, like you said with trans, but if there are, i believe that there is small quantity of that people with firm, non fear based reasons.

        In my opinion, in this society its still “easier” (depending on which way you look at it off course ) to become woman and more socially accepted than to howl at the crossroads with the hounds of Hecate… (i saw in my mail that you made a post for Her, haven’t got the time to look at it yet, but i will, She is one of major Goddesses i commune with 🙂 … )

        • Rachel Izabella says:

          Hi Dream! As usual you’ve given me much food for thought. Unfortunately I need to go out in an hour or so and I need time to think about what you’ve written. Thanks for the comment. More on it in the near future. –R

  3. What catvincent said, except I don’t hold with dissing theurgy. Thaumaturgy is all well and good, and I think we all ought to do enough of it to have some “Hey! This s-t works!” moments, but using *magical means* (not, for example, sitting on a cushion for 72 years) to open one’s mind isn’t to be sneezed at.

    Plus, I think there are many aspects of magic that don’t translate well to cold print, and have a completely different flavor for those who have done the work than for those who just read.

    • catvincent says:

      Not dissing theurgy! I practice both, though not liking the split there personally.
      Basically, this is one of those (many) times where I really wish the terminology had some consistency between users. Which is why I tend to use the alchemical terminology for that kind of solo/theurgic working, as distinct from magic… which I note may well be a difference without a difference on many levels!

      • OK, I smell what you’re cooking now. My only retort would be that using alchemical terminology as a solution to distill a unique meaning out of one’s words and produce consistency between users doesn’t have a really good track record 🙂

  4. Rachel Izabella says:

    Is it gauche to comment on one’s own blog? Hope not. I’ll reply to you all individually, or I hope I can, but it’s Mother’s Day and I must call my mother and spend some time with the mother of all my beautiful children. Later!

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