The Magickal Work of Josephine McCarthy

Teacher and author Josephine McCarthy returns in podcast episode 116 to discuss her phenomenal books, including The Work of the Hierophant and the Magical Knowledge trilogy, published by Mandrake of Oxford.

The Work of the Hierophant by Josephine McCarthy

To begin the interview, McCarthy describes The Work of the Hierophant, a remarkable and ground-breaking text that reveals a template for the creation and administration of a magickal lodge. She explains her understanding that the inner structures of most modern esoteric and religious institutions are faulty and imbalanced, which was the impetus for the book. In it, Josephine explains how one may engage inner contacts and lines of consecration to bring forth manifestations of divinity, deity, or priesthood into the physical plane. This knowledge is useful not only for establishing magical lodges, but also for founding new religions.

“The Work of the Hierophant is one of the very few intelligent books written about genuine Magical Orders. In it, Josephine McCarthy gives us some startling, eye-opening and at times disturbing insights into how true Orders work, and how we might connect with them. This is the real thing. She shows how the individual can, with right attitude and application, make his or her own links with these inner surges of Otherworld consciousness, for lack of a better description. She shows what you might experience, how you might handle the contact and develop it, with the likely pitfalls that human vanity and ego can create – and also what you should avoid and run screaming away from! Trust me, this will become a classic.”
– extract from the Forward by Alan Richardson, author of Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune: The Logos of the Aeon and the Shakti of the Age

From there we discuss Josephine’s Magical Knowledge trilogy, beginning with Book I: Foundations / The Lone Practitioner.

Magical Knowledge Book I by Josephine McCarthy

“[Magical Knowledge Book I: Foundations / The Lone Practitioner] is a book that gives deep insight into the pitfalls, mistakes and problems of attempting serious magic as a lone practitioner. It offers techniques, foundational patterns, contacts and lashings of advice for those who wish to walk the path of powerful magic without the usual accoutrements of bullshitters, messiahs, and of course, the age old ‘secrets’ that only the higher initiates can have access to…”

Magical Knowledge Book II by Josephine McCarthy

“Breaking out of the age old restraints of secrecy and oaths, [Magical Knowledge Book II: The Initiate] this second book in the series leads the reader through the techniques, issues and beings … The Initiate guides and advises, informs and introduces the serious magician to rarely discussed areas of visionary and ritual magic. The information presented in this book flows from the deep roots of true magic, and as such can be applied to any particular path or magical method; the reader is introduced to the structure and inner contacts behind the various schools of magic that exist today. Magic can only truly blossom if the boundaries are challenged, and to do that, the magician needs to understand the dynamics of power and the inner worlds. This book aims to guide the magician along that path.”

Magical Knowledge Book III by Josephine McCarthy

“[Magical Knowledge Book III: Contacts of the Adept] is an advanced magical volume that is filled with rituals, visions and inner contacts, covering a variety of aspects of serious magical practice … In today’s magical world, the Mysteries are quickly being destroyed by commercialism, simplification, popularisation and titillation. The depths of the Mysteries are slipping away during this turbulent time and this book is my contribution to a growing body of work by various occultists aimed at stemming the destruction of our most precious knowledge.”

I heartily recommend all of McCarthy’s books and, in all honesty, think it would be difficult to exaggerate their importance. She is revolutionizing esoteric teaching with her honesty, courage, and dedication to the work. In my opinion, these books are instant classics and those that avail themselves of her wisdom will have done themselves a great service.

In the Occult of Personality Membership Section, Josephine McCarthy delivers a teaching about Navigating the Tree of Life that is extremely valuable for inner work. Join us for that insightful discourse!

The Inner Library

Podcast 100 – Josephine McCarthy

The Work of the Hierophant by Josephine McCarthy

Magical Knowledge Book I: Foundations / The Lone Practitioner by Josephine McCarthy

Magical Knowledge Book II: The Initiate by Josephine McCarthy

Magical Knowledge Book III: Contacts of the Adepts by Josephine McCarthy

The Exorcist’s Handbook by Josephine McCarthy

The Work of the Hierophant – The Foolishness of the Neophyte

Book Review – Josephine McCarthy: Magical Knowledge I, Foundations

Book Review – Josephine McCarthy: Magical Knowledge II

Findhorn” Wikipedia entry

intro music by HipGnosis and Paul Avgerinos – “Awakening”

outro music – “New Moon” by Beth Quist

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Le Fol April 14, 2012, 9:48 AM

    Great, great show: thanks A LOT to both of you!

    • gkaminsky April 15, 2012, 1:38 AM

      You’re most welcome, Le Fol. Thank you for listening!

  • Michael D. April 14, 2012, 10:51 AM

    Another great show! I always take away something of value from these interviews. I was unaware Josephine had done four more books! I have the first Magical Knowledge on my Amazon wish list so I hope to get it in the next couple weeks. Thank you for a great interview! Keep up the Great Work Greg!

    • gkaminsky April 15, 2012, 1:39 AM

      Michael – I’m grateful for your appreciation and support for the show 🙂 I know you’ll enjoy that book. Thanks again!

  • winston April 14, 2012, 11:39 PM

    hi. thank you/. I dont see why, if this work fundamentally cognitive in nature does it matter so much what kind of ‘structure’ one is surrounded by? We create these obstacles by choosing to focusing on them. Working in a group setting could make a difference but the the nature of Gnosis is not bound or defined by any concept / construct without our focus to give it life.

    • Josephine McCarthy April 15, 2012, 4:00 AM

      Hi Winston,
      That is a good question and in some aspects you are right in that if you are simply living a life within Gnosis, how you live that life, not what surrounds you is what is important. However, if you are working magically with power, then you are stepping beyond the normal life parameters and the path/structure that you work within will form how that power expresses itself. The mediation of power from an inner to an outer source is formed by what it passes through, so that clarity and simplicity of that filter is important. The nearer to a natural pattern, that still works within our cultural perceptions creates the least friction.

      • Ninja July 31, 2017, 9:30 AM

        Mrs. McCarthy, I read your Magical Knowledge trilogy.
        You stated one should work with both Angels & Demons to be a well rounded practitioner. Prior to your books I worked with Angels & Believer Djinn. I found a Demon King and working with him is redundantly similar to the Believer entities. The only thing different is the moral values. There just isn’t any limits to the Demon on tasks. ~ Ninja

  • William June 6, 2012, 10:10 PM

    She spends most of the interview knocking other magicians and traditions. The one tradition she can’t knock is Enochian because it is far more powerful and quickly workable than any angelic magic she teaches. I wouldn’t waste time with her approach.

    • gkaminsky June 12, 2012, 2:13 AM

      Personally, I find Josephine’s iconoclasm charming, in the sense that she’s being blatantly honest and sharing her opinion. Her work stands on its own, imo. So does Enochian. It depends what approach one prefers and I, for one, am thrilled to have Josephine’s work in my library and these interviews recorded.

      • William June 12, 2012, 10:56 AM

        I don’t think it is charming to tear everyone down except ones self. To me, that smacks of delusions of grandeur and/or pettiness. Of course, she is just telling the truth as she sees it, but is every occultist wrong except for her?? She states that the Golden Dawn is so unbalanced and poorly constructed, then why is it still going strong?? (and stronger than her teaching, btw). I also bought three of her books at one time…a decision I now regret. She leaves no room for other teachings. It’s her way or the highway.

        • gkaminsky June 12, 2012, 3:01 PM

          I hope my comment didn’t come across as flippant or uncaring, as it wasn’t my intent.

          I don’t agree with Josephine’s assessment about magickal traditions or world religions being bankrupt either. But I do love the fact that she believes it and is willing to openly challenge existing conventional thought. To me, establishing a new way of working, albeit built on existing teachings, is what many occultists do. But there are also more traditionalists who do the very same thing in criticizing systems that aren’t their own. This show has featured several authors who expressed similar opinions with regard to Hermetic Qabalah or Enochian being the “best,” and it is a perspective that I continue to encounter.

          Now, I’m more than willing to grant Enochian as an effective system, but less so with regard to the Golden Dawn. Just my personal opinion. That’s not to say I think the GD is ineffective. I think a better example would be any major world religious tradition. Regardless of what you think of them, those systems have been strong in the past (and even today in some respects). I’m also more than willing to concede Josephine’s point about comparing ancient religions with those of modern times, but we cannot recreate the past. That’s why Josephine’s work is important, imo. It strives for more than what we currently accept as success.

          In my experience, teachers, with rare exceptions, discourage working more than one system at the same time. Notably, this was even the case in Golden Dawn-style lodges which incorporate an eclectic mixture of ceremonial, Tarot, Qabalah, and astrology. That said, I personally have had success incorporating aspects of Josephine’s work with my own that isn’t part of any system.

          I understand your criticisms and sympathize about purchasing books that you regret (I hate it when that happens) and I’m assuming you did so before listening to the interview. I value Josephine’s work and willingness to be a lone (or maybe not so lone, as the case may be) voice in the wilderness. If nothing else, I hope that the reaction engendered by her strong opinions helps better define our own views on these matters.

          I also want to thank you William, for taking the time and effort to listen and comment. I appreciate it and I hope that you keep coming back.

  • William June 13, 2012, 8:52 PM

    Of course I would never suggest you don’t have her on the show! It is good to hear from many viewpoints and I respect even those of Josephine. However, that is the main issue I have with her- I want to hear other viewpoints and appreciate different approaches, while she thinks it is only her way or the highway. Honestly, Joseph C. Lisiewski turns me off for the same reason. He spends more than half of his books criticizing the “New Age” magic/religion. Him and Josephine would make a perfect pair. 🙂 I don’t trust anyone who is overly nostalgic about past magical or religious traditions. They suffer from an idealism that is unrealistic and unworkable in today’s world. (And yes, I bought her books before I realized she was a continual naysayer of modern traditions).

    • Josephine McCarthy July 31, 2012, 6:00 PM

      Hi William,

      Just want to make a point to clarify something … I do not say that my way is the only way … and never have done so. What I say is here are some techniques, they can work alongside most traditions, take them and use them to see if they work for you. I do not have a ‘path’ to follow.

  • Corvus Mercurio November 3, 2012, 8:11 AM

    What a remarkable display of hubris and intellectual vacuity.

    “Magic must balance nature and humans” – as thought humans aren’t natural?

    “It’s not you it’s something that exists apart from you whether you’re there or not”. Oh, really? And how would we know? If a tree falls in the wood, etc…

    And that nonsense about people falling out in magical lodges because “the energy blows the structure apart, it’s not psychological”. It’s ALL psychological – that’s why the same thing happens in *every* human interaction and institution – families; companies; churches; political parties; playgrounds….

    The irony is that most of the criticisms Ms. McCarthy levels at others are being paraded to see in her own overt prejudices and her dismissive attitude to other, far more robust, magical models.

  • gkaminsky November 6, 2012, 10:16 AM

    I never expected to need any sort of comment guidelines, but after perusing the tone of the previous one, it will likely come to pass. Would it be asking too much to have dialogue and feedback without snark?

  • Solamon January 28, 2013, 2:50 AM

    Holy shit, that was deep. I listening to that interview felt like one of those inner plane nudges you just talked about. It’s crazy because I understand completely what you were talking about. It brought a lot of things to the light for me and verified some ideals I’ve had regarding my path. Thank you for knowledge

  • Damiana February 15, 2013, 4:58 AM

    A refreshing interview – refreshing because Josephine challenges so much of what so many hold dear. I’m not sure where the venom of some of these comments originates. I for one am glad there is someone with a sensible head on their shoulders who is prepared to challenge the growing tide of self-described magickal ‘experts’ and courses. Based on these interviews I will be reading Josephine’s books – I think the only regrets one might have about them is *not* reading them.

    • gkaminsky February 18, 2013, 2:27 PM

      Hear, hear!

  • gkaminsky February 18, 2013, 2:34 PM

    With regard to the busier-than-usual comment section for Josephine’s interview:

    I was originally under the impression that the negative comments posted here were honest disputes with the presentation or material. That may very well be the case, I do not know. I don’t claim that any comments that remain are part of any organized effort to disparage Josephine or her work (read NO CONSPIRACY).

    [However, I do want to point out that there have been more than three other negative comments that were never approved and deleted because of a complete lack of civility. I’ve also received two emails never intended as comments that were in a similar vein. Please be aware – no other guest on this podcast has ever generated this sort of reaction. – ed.]

    I want to encourage honest and open debate about these interviews – as long as it remains civil and courteous. I clearly disagreed with Josephine’s opinion about world religious traditions and even magickal orders to an extent. I even stated this in my previous comments in this thread.

    Now it has come to my attention today (February 18, 2013) that there is an ongoing and sustained campaign against Josephine and her work – Whether this is related to the strong reaction to this episode is unknown. Again, I’m not claiming that it is. But in a larger context, this type of thing is unacceptable to me. Occult of Personality will not tolerate any sort of disparagement or hate campaign and I will actively fight against such negativity and ignorance. This podcast is designed precisely as a sanctuary against such boorish behavior. Tactics of personal destruction are antithetical to the purpose of spiritual growth and illumination. I invite others to join me in supporting the guests of this show against such actions.

  • Keith Maguire February 18, 2013, 3:37 PM

    I don’t agree with all of Josephine’s ideas relating to the Golden Dawn, etc. I’ve been studying the system for a long time now and I feel do that the system itself, as with any grade type system, creates the perfect opportunity for weak egos to use their “grade” as a way of expanding their ego. I’ve seen this non-Golden Dawn grade systems first hand. My personal experience with the Golden Dawn system has been profound and live changing int he most positive way.
    That being said I really believe that her work is important. I truly do. I can feel in my gut that there is a lot of really important information here. Maybe that is why there seems to be so much praise and just as much negative comments from folks. I can’t help but feel that a lot of the negative comments come from brused egos. Sorry but that is what I sense.
    I feel that Josephine is not holding back, and that directness challenges the paradigms some of us had built up over the years and that is uncomfortable. I say Good! It should be that way. We forget that our models are simply that, models that we create to identify and interact with the unknown. It seems that the longer these models are in place, the more “real” they become. No one likes to think that their work is not as powerful as it could be (or as powerful as they’ve convinced themselves it is), but sometimes that’s just the case.
    Know thy self is the key, I think. If people are too afraid to be challenged, we’ll forget about really growing then. If you’re only willing to accept information that will pander to your ego, well good luck with that.
    I’ve had an experience that, I honestly felt, was an inner being contacting me and I can say that the attitude of this being was very direct, and could honestly care less about what my petty ego felt about the information it had. Part of it was because it honestly didn’t relate, not could it. What is interesting to me is that a lot of the attitude Josephine expresses mirrors that in a lot of ways. That tells me a lot.
    So, in closing, I have to say is if you’re feeling upset about something she’s said, well have you taken the time to really ask yourself why? Maybe it’s challenging you in a way that your ego is not comfortable with and that should be a clue to something more. There is potential there for you to grow, if you’ll only accept it.
    Thank you very much Josephine for writing the Magical knowledge series. I am looking forward to the lesson you have in there and I honestly feel that I will benefit from what you’ve made available.

    • gkaminsky March 31, 2013, 11:08 PM

      Thank you Keith! I agree with your assessment of Josephine’s work and your points about growth through challenge. It isn’t always comfortable or fun, but humans learn most efficiently when faced with adversity.

      “… Know then, that as man is born into this world amidst the Darkness of Matter, and the strife of contending forces; so must his first endeavour be to seek the Light through their reconciliation.
      “Thou then, who hast trials and troubles, rejoice because of them, for in them is Strength, and by their means is a pathway opened unto that Light.
      How should it be otherwise, O man, whose life is but a day in Eternity, a drop in the Ocean of time; how, were thy trials not many, couldst thou purge thy soul from the dross of earth?
      “Is it but now that the Higher Life is beset with dangers and difficulties; hath it not ever been so with the Sages and Hierophants of the past? They have been persecuted and reviled, they have been tormented of men; yet through this also has their Glory increased.
      “Rejoice therefore, O Initiate, for the greater thy trial the greater thy Triumph. When men shall revile thee, and speak against thee falsely, hath not the Master said, “Blessed art thou!”? …” LIBER LIBRÆ

  • Frank Haines February 18, 2013, 5:25 PM

    I have loved every single interview with Josephine!
    Thanks for the good work Greg.
    A consistently great show that is always evolving.
    I often enjoy it when people get hot about such ideas, and the way things should or shouldn’t be.
    Evolution is often gained through interchange and instability
    It leads me back to the MAYBE of Robert Anton Wilson
    As interesting as the theater of the Golden Dawn was/is
    and the massive documentation
    The history of their enterprise is also that of a bunch of bickering babies!
    Keep Going and thanks Greg and Josephine
    Frank Haines

    • gkaminsky March 31, 2013, 11:03 PM

      Thank you Frank! I appreciate the encouragement and commentary. Big points for mentioning RAW!!!

  • Peregrin Wildoak February 19, 2013, 2:58 AM

    Wot ho! Great comments and discussion.

    Before I read any of Josephine’s books I had heard she slagged off the GD etc, and was a bit of an iconoclast. Obviously this did not deter me handing over the money, as iconoclasm, as Greg points out, is as much needed as tradition.

    What I found in her books, and in her interviews at OoP is nothing other than what I was taught by my Golden Dawn teacher (though he was a little different than most). It is great stuff and all her critiques I have found wonderful and true.

    That said, I do think people discern and judge the Golden Dawn from what they can see – how can they do otherwise. And what they see is mostly dog shit and so called adepts clothed in dog shit asking you to sniff and kiss their bums. There is actually smaller, more occluded GD activity that conforms to much Josephine talks about, where the real work is done. As Josephine’s foreword writer and friend, RA Gilbert, alluded to in the ‘Golden Dawn Scrapbook’ there are real adepts out there …

    The GD, and any established tradition has many risks and is what prompted me to write on of my early blogs warning of this, “The Golden Dawn as Institutionalized Esotericism”. Josephine’s works are a strong remedy to these problems.

    In response to Corvus Mercurio, that “it’s all psychological”. I am not quite clear what you mean. However, the traditional magical viewpoint is that it is not all psychological. This view is also similar to many traditional an indigenous cultures across the world.

    For example, the awareness of evil or “dark forces” or demonic spirits and their affects is far wider than Christianity, and is part of many traditional cultures. This includes disturbed areas of land that has nothing to do with human activity. Aboriginal lore is very clear on that, and I know several field workers (anthropology, mining etc) that have had terrible experiences in these areas despite skepticism, materialist beliefs or even new age ‘nature is wonderful’ beliefs.

    How we approach these things is our own business, but I think we need to respect traditional points of view. Some folk (not saying you) from the west, come along and say these things don’t exist, or it’s all social forces or psychology. The fact is the traditional and modern magical worldviews, the traditional world view of every single culture besides that in the west from the Enlightenment onward, accepts that there ARE exterior beings, some helpful, some not (when in the wrong ‘place’, or encountered incorrectly) – and these beings are exterior to us. And that if all the humans disappeared tomorrow, these beings would remain.

    That is the traditional, and majority view of humanity. I worry that our modern worldview encourages us to think of this as non-rational etc, thinking we know better, and these ideas are primitive. They are not, and like in the case of Tibetan Vajrayana, are part of a complex and profound ontology and cosmology that leaves much western thought in the dust.

    THANKS 🙂

    • gkaminsky March 31, 2013, 11:02 PM

      Peregrin – I very much appreciate your thoughtful and informed comments. I can think of no one better to address the GD issues raised. You’ve single-handedly changed my own opinion of that institution for the better. You’ve also helped me to understand that snap judgements based on superficial evidence is not only ill-informed, but can be highly detrimental. Thank you, thank you, thank you…

  • Frater Perturbabo February 22, 2013, 5:28 PM

    I for one very much enjoy Ms McCarthy’s interviews and writings. For some time now I’ve been slowly working through her first book in the Magic Knowledge series, and have found my magickal practice deepened enormously (after my 10+ years of more or less ‘conventional’ GD/Thelema/Chaos Magic/whatnot -based shenanigans). In my opinion her ideas lend themselves to be easily integrated into one’s existing practice, and I especially like her emphasis on contacting the powers of one’s locality and/or heritage. For whatever reason this seems to be something rarely discussed in the writings of overweight middle-aged male magi (I’m one myself). I also find her slightly dogmatic style strangely endearing amidst the more common and trendy “anything goes” approach in genre literature. The like can be said about her down-to-earth way of communication.

    Compared e.g. to the writings of famous chaos magicians I don’t really find her very offensive at all towards the GD and institutions of its ilk. Then again, I have mostly been a lone practitioner, so what do I know…in any case, magicians should have the integrity not to weep into our skrying glasses when faced with a little constructive criticism 😉

    About the only negative thing I can say of Ms McCarthy’s books is that the publisher could have done a better job of proof-reading and editing them, but no use crying over spilled ectoplasm I suppose. Hopefully rectified in future printings?

    Thank you Josephine and Greg, keep up the great work!

    • gkaminsky March 31, 2013, 10:56 PM

      Thank you Frater Perturbabo! I always appreciate your comments and support for the show. Keep up the great work as well. Aarni rocks!

  • Jennifer Wy-Cle May 1, 2013, 3:50 PM

    Hi Josephine, I really enjoy your work. It is iconoclastic, but as an allopathic physician (MD that is), there a lot of people in life taking themselves very seriously (self included at times). And western medicine is so wrong…

    Thanks for publishing the third book. I have a varied tradition including Reiki Master (although am formally engaging in a mystery school Kabballah course). I love that you write so abstractly as can see more easily how it applies to my quests. As for making fun of everyone else, I t is good to keep one’s perspective when dealing with highly charismatic individuals. I have had my own weird path all along, so I’d like to keep to it. It seems to lead me in the “right” direction with only a little wobbliness.

    I would love to get together and have tea (or chocolate and coffee) sometime. Am currently working on my world as a temple and how to balance it!

    • Jennifer Wy-Cle May 1, 2013, 3:51 PM

      Medicine isn’t necessarily so wrong, as incomplete.

    • Josephine McCarthy May 19, 2013, 3:48 PM

      HI Jennifer,

      You are right, following your own unique path through magic and mysticism is a very special path indeed. What I try to do, and not always succeed at, is to help provide tools, methods etc that can be applied into various traditions or would apply to a lone practitioner forging their own path.

      Yes, one day we must drink tea and discuss the universe!


  • TheGnostic August 15, 2013, 9:25 AM

    Awesome, awesome interview.

    Listened to this when it came out, and here I am a year later re-listening to them completely fresh – love it! Personally I enjoy Josephine’s *bluntness*, I don’t really get any egotism from it, I just see it as her outlining her own system of thought and what in her magical model is pertinent and what is not. So I enjoy hearing this perspective. Naturally certain point of views will resonate differently depending on the individual, and that is why these podcasts are so great – as you manage to bring in such a diverse range of individuals.

    Re-listening also prompted me to click the links which lead me to stumble upon her website and her partners artwork, which I find very evocative, and funnily enough that I have seen on books without realizing the source. So right now I’m wondering why I don’t have the rest of her books? I think I will have to change that.

    Big thanks to you both, hope to see JM back on the podcast one day!

    • gkaminsky August 17, 2013, 10:40 AM

      You’re most welcome, and thank you for the kind words. I’m glad there are others who appreciate diverse point of view. Sometimes I wonder if some perceive opposition to their preconceptions as a threat. Regardless, it’s important to challenge assumptions and beliefs. “Success is your proof.” I hope to have Josephine back as a guest at some point as well!

      P.S. Stuart Littlejohn’s artwork kicks ass!

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