Evocation and Dark-Mirror Scrying

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To: alt.magick,alt.magick.tyagi
From: catherine yronwode <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 13:39:48 -0800
Subject: Evocation and Dark-Mirror Scrying (var)

This is an edited version of the compiled usenet posts made in alt.magick during August 2001 concerning the source of a specific dark-mirror evocation method described in Chapter Nine of Donald Michael Kraig's book "Modern Magick."


Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts (Llewellyn's High Magick) 


David Cantu ([email protected]):

Kraig stole portions of the book ["Modern Magick," specifically Chapter Nine] from one Carol (Poke, Gnome) Runyon's work [...] Poke says a student gave Kraig the skrying material for his book, and that Poke was the inventor of the method and went un-credited.

nagasiva ([email protected]):

please provide some relevant quotations from each and their copyright dating in support of this claim. I haven't heard this charge yet and what I saw in Kraig's "Modern Magick" seemed rather conventional Thelemic/Golden Dawn such that I wonder what was "stolen".

David Cantu ([email protected]):

Poke had nothing published at the time [of Kraig's publication of "Modern Magick" in 1989] so there is no copyright to point to, and while that is not plagiarism, that was not what I claimed, Naga, only that he stole from Poke's work.

catherine yronwode ([email protected]):

David Cantu's claim that Poke had "nothing published" is not exactly accurate -- for although Poke HIMSELF had not yet published the material, below we find that he supplies THREE published references predating Kraig's book --
* the 1980 Robert S. Ellwood book, reprinted in 1988;
* the 1972 Hans Holzer book, reprinted in 1977 and 1978;
* the 1974 Tom Snyder Show on NBC TV, re-broadcast in 1975
-- EACH OF WHICH clearly identified Carroll "Poke" Runyon and the O.T.A. as the source and originator of this particular form of dark-mirror scrying used in Goetic evocation.

Furthermore, Runyon states that he alone originated this specific dark-mirror method, in 1969. This bears examining:
Nelson White, whom Donald Michael Kraig sourced as the originator of the method, was said by Hans Holzer, in1972, to have been Runyon's assistant. In fact, Holzer specifically makes it clear that he met both White and Runyon and that "all of the artistic work and theories ...are the brainchild of ...Frater Aleyin (Carroll "Poke" Runyon)." Holzer saw the operation performed by Runyon and his wife Jeanette, not by White, who merely "aided and abetted." (See below.)

This independent documentation of the respective roles of Runyon and White, given by Holzer in 1972 -- seven years before White published his one-paragraph account of the method -- makes it untenable for Kraig to *persist* in stating that White was the originator of the material.

In my opinion, based on a reading of the documentation, Kraig may have made a simple error of ascription when he first published "Modern Magick" in 1989, but when called to account, as a responsible scholar, he should have credited Runyon in subsequent reprintings of his book.

As i understand it, what is at issue is not plagiarism per se, but rather the theft of intellectual property and/or repeated failure to credit a colleague in one's field -- and Runyon's charge is not only aimed at Donald Michael Kraig, but at Nelson White, from whom Kraig claims to have received the material.

White's personal animosity toward Runyon at the time he published "Secret Magick Revealed" provides sufficent explanation for his behaviour -- but Kriag's continuing refusal to credit Runyon, despite the evidence, is surprising, as Kraig was never personally involved in O.T.A. group dynamics, and he is also demonstrably reasonable and fair about giving credit to other individuals (such as Dion Fortune) whose writings he interpreted in "Modern Magick."

Poke Runyon ([email protected]):

Just to set the record straight on this: I've never accused Don Kraig of plagiarism. He came close but not over the line. What happened was this: one of my students [Nelson White] had a falling out with me -- mostly instigated by his wife -- and, after leaving the O.T.A., he circulated a Xerox, Acco binder "book" in which he briefly explained the facial reflection/distortion method of Goetia evocation I had developed back in 1969. He admitted that he was "Revealing" someone else's "Secret Magick." [The book was "Secret Magick Revealed" by Nelson White and Anne White.] This was a marginal, underground publication and the method itself was only presented in one paragraph. I decided to ignore it. Kraig, however, praised it, calling the authors [the Whites] "two excellent occultists," and cited it as his major source for Chapter Nine in *Modern Magick,* He then came as close as he dared to showing exactly how the O.T.A. method was done.

Just a few months before Kraig's book hit the stands, Carl Weschecke [the publisher of Llewellyn books] was anxious to introduce me to Don Kraig at the ABA convention in Los Angeles. He wanted "To get us together." Kraig was also ingratiating. He had heard I was working on the G.D. [Golden Dawn] cyphers and he wanted to give me a copy of McGee's pamphlet version in exchange for a set of our 7th Ray journals. I agreed.

A month or so later, his letter arrived with the McGee pamphlet and a money order for $15.00. I shelved it until I could get a set of Rays ready for him (some had to be re-copied). In less than a week his book was out and I had my first look at it.

I must admit I was furious. I'd been ripped off and there was nothing I could do about it. Weschecke had known very well that I would be furious, and so had Kraig. The ABA courtship was a slimy move by both of them. I shoved Kraig's letter with the money order into a cubby hole and tried very hard to put the whole rotten business out of my mind.

Seven years later, at Pat Zalewiski's urging, I got back to work on the G.D. cyphers. I used the McGee pamphlet (one of several versions of the cyphers) as one of my cross references (It was available in two copyrighted re-prints), but I still gave Don Kraig thanks in the acknowledgements to my book for having sent me a copy.

Carl Wescheke wrote that he liked my book and we signed a contract. Everything seemed to be going well with the project at Llewellyn until Don Kraig circulated a letter to the whole staff accusing me of "stealing his work," (his exact words!) without explaining himself further. In other words, he accused me of plagiarism! I sent a five page letter to Llewellyn detailing the background of the situation and asking for an apology.

Kraig tried to justify his accusation by claiming that he had had to "work" to "earn the money" to buy the pamphlet from McGee, and therefore I had "stolen his work" (I have this incredible statement over his signature!) -- and of course there was the $15.00 money (which had grown to $25.00 in his mind) that I had also "stolen". This didn't work very well either because I'd never cashed it and had managed to find the original buried in my desk.

The upshot of all this was that Llewellyn dragged their feet on my book for a year until Darcy Kuntz's version of the cyphers came out and then used that as an excuse to break their contract. Of course I had grounds for a lawsuit against Kraig and Llewellyn but suing authors and their publishers is not a wise thing to do if you are a writer yourself.

So, in my opinion Mr. Kraig is not a very honorable or even an honest gentleman, but I can't call him a plagiarist -- even though he certainly called me one.

catherine yronwode ([email protected]):

Ironically, Poke would probably have given permission for the use of the material to Kraig, as he previously had given it to three others, had only he been properly CREDITED by Kriag as he was by the others.

Poke Runyon ([email protected]):

You're absolutely right. I would have been more than happy to cooperate. And I strongly suspect that Carl Weschecke suggested that to Kraig.

David Cantu ([email protected]):

Perhaps Kraig was unaware at the time, but I don't know that he has given the credit [since].

Poke Runyon ([email protected]):

No. He has never apologized to me or acknowledged my contribution to Dark Mirror evocation methodology.

Note that I have never claimed to have invented Dark Mirror scrying. In fact I've pointed to Dee and Kelly's work often to counter the claims of those credulous medievalists who think that Dark Mirror scrying is only a minor magical technique.

What I did discover (possibly re-discovered, but if so, nobody yet has found the original) is the application of the facial reflection / distortion (Bloody Mary) phenomenon to Goetic Evocation.

I taught the method to Nelson White in 1969, and we founded the O.T.A. in 1970. White resigned in 1972 and eventually published my method in "Secret Magick Revealed" in 1979 -- after Hans Holzer, in "The New Pagans," referred to the method and attributed it to me in 1972, after Ellwood described in print one of my Goetia operations in 1980, and well after we had shown Jo Carson's film of me conjuring behind Hal's wife, who was holding the candle sticks and standing in front of the upraised triangle -- with the mirror on it -- on the NBC Tom Snyder Show in 1974 and again in 1975. Not only that, White clearly stated in his 1979 book that he was revealing a "closely guarded secret" -- a secret I taught him!

Now please understand, I didn't start this present go-round, and I'm not trying to keep it going -- but at this stage in my life, I'm not about to roll over and play dead dog on this issue.

nagasiva ([email protected]):

it sounds like Runyon is asserting that Kraig knowingly stole the ideas and then rejected Runyon's explanation as false in a fit of jealousy or in order to protect his own publishing interests with Llewellyn, adding fictional elements to his account of the situation and making impossible Runyon's publishing through Llewellyn.

Poke Runyon ([email protected]):

That's the gist of it.

David Cantu ([email protected]):

Or perhaps Poke made this all up, in all honesty, how am I to know.

nagasiva ([email protected]):

well you're the one repeating the story. I'd like it if you looked more deeply and became convinced of the matter one way or another if you're going to be promoting one side of it in the newsgroup. I enjoy the critical approach we bring to alt.magick and prefer not to leave one-sided contentions (about the value of a particular book, for example, or the way a particular part of occult (even occult publishing) history actually took place) go unaddressed by a fair-minded appraisal from someone unbiased due to their proximity to the events or to those who bring the matter to us.

Poke Runyon ([email protected]):

I don't make things up. Everything I posted is documented in correspondence between myself, Kraig and Llewellyn; it's true, and even understated. It's quite a large file. Kraig, a lifetime resident of Los Angeles, has tried to claim that he didn't really know about the O.T.A. and our mirror method, but Nelson White's book made it obvious that the concept and method was an "Initiatory Secret" White was "Revealing." How Kraig, a keen student of magick, could totally miss the following documentation is frankly ludicrous:


Mysticism and Religion
by Robert S. Ellwood, Jr., Ph.D.
Prentice-Hall, 1980

Reprinted in:
Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America, 2nd Edition by Robert S. Ellwood, Jr. & Harry B. Partin
Prentice-Hall , 1988

"On May 6, 1977, I attended an evocation of Astarte, the ancient Canaanite goddess of love, performed by the Ordo Templi Astartes. The rite exemplified how the intensive ritual work in a close-knit group can arouse psychic energy leading to strong ecstatic or religious experience.

"The principal parts in the rite were those of the Receiver and Operator. The Receiver (a woman since the deity was female), stood before the mirror with a candle in each hand. In her it was believed that the goddess would manifest her personality and power. Also a glimpse might be caught of the passing glory in the mirror.

"The Operator or Magus stood within the circle facing the Receiver. His function, supported by the concentrated energies of the entire group, was by the force of his will and magical words to summon up Astarte into the woman's body and the mirror. Thus, he repeated over and over an invocation of Astarte in a chanting tone, his voice full of concentrated power. The emphasis was on his command to the ancient goddess in the name of Elohim (God).

"Breaking the mood, he quietly asked the Receiver if Astarte was now here. She said in a low voice, "One more time." The Magus called out the invocation once more. The Receiver shook; the candles moved, making dim patterns in the mirror. Then suddenly the Receiver laughed, a lilting, sexual, musical laugh
quite different from the woman's ordinary tone. At this point I myself felt a surge of tremendous tingling excitement..."

(Note: The Magus was Carroll "Poke" Runyon; the Receiver was Jeanette Runyon. Ellwood's book was published in 1980, one year following Nelson's publication of "Secret Magick Revealed," but EIGHT years before Kraig's, and it dated the operation previous to Nelson's publication. That is the most important point. Ellwood's and Holzer's books were a great deal more important and well known than Nelson's. Kraig's
ignorance of them is remarkable.)

The New Pagans by Hans Holzer
Doubleday, 1972

Reprinted in:
Pagans and Witches by Hans Holzer
Manor Books, NY, 1978

In Search of Magic and Witchcraft by Alan Landsburg
Bantam Books, 1977

"All of the artistic work and theories behind this brotherhood (The OTA) are the brainchild of an extremely talented young man by the occult name of Frater Aleyin (Carroll "Poke" Runyon). He is aided and abetted by another young man named Frater Khedemel (Nelson H. White), a part time teacher and peace officer..."

"...On February 4, 1971, I was to find out for myself what exactly the O.T.A. kind of magic was like. The boys picked me up at my hotel, and as early as 7 p.m. we arrived at the temple in Pasadena. This gave me ample time to look around and inspect the premises."

"...In an adjoining room , which is somewhat larger than the first one, the inner temple had been established. Painted in black it is illuminated in stage lights in various colors that give it an almost psychedelic effect. In the center there is a circle consisting of a slightly raised narrow wooden platform.
Further back outside the circle there is a gong, and facing forward just outside the circle, a large mirror on a stand. When I first inspected the temple that mirror was covered, since it played a major part in the ritual that was to follow shortly."

"...I was to "scrye" in the great mirror -- to do some crystal gazing in the hope that Baal might appear to me ... The Master thrust two long candle sticks into my hands and motioned me to hold them up so that I could see the mirror more clearly. What I saw was merely my face, but in time I might conceivably see
someone lurking behind me."

"...As I stood there staring into the half darkened mirror I thought I felt some presence hovering over my shoulder. I did not see the clearly defined face of King Baal next to me in the glass but I felt something.

(Note: this account was first published in 1972, seven years before the publication of SECRET MAGICK REVEALED.)

And in addition to this we demonstrated the technique (Mirror on the upraised Triangle with the receiver holding the evocation candles) on the Tom Snyder Show, NBC network television, in October 1974, and again (re-run) on Halloween the following year. If anyone doubts this, we have plenty of VHS copies of the old Tom Synder Show that will totally confirm it. If Kraig didn't know where the Dark Mirror method came from by the early 1980s he must have been the most out-of-touch magician in the whole Western World!

I think it is important to note that Nelson White and I have buried the hatchet and have been friends for several years now. Nelson even gave "The Magick of Solomon" and "The Book of Solomon's Magick" favorable reviews. Dredging up this business does tend to embarrass Nelson and I want him to know that I did not instigate this present inquiry. Nelson had a legitimate beef with me: I pumped him full of visions of success, and then unilaterally decided that I wasn't cut out to be an occult marketeer, got married and turned the O.T.A. -- that he had devoted three years of his life to helping develop -- into a magical wicca coven. Kraig has no such excuse.

nagasiva ([email protected]):

if it is true what you are saying, then I'd like Kraig to be held accountable and provided with the reputation which he actually *deserves* rather than merely that provided him by his fans and enemies. I have sent a copy of this post to Mr. Kraig for comment. here is his response to the material I presented him and the questions that I asked regarding the mirror-scrying technique he described in Chapter 9 of
"Modern Magick":

Donald Michael Kraig ([email protected]):

"Modern Magick" was the result of ten years of teaching classes which followed a decade of my own private work. In the section on evocation I fully describe how I came to a conclusion about the way evocation works and I clearly and explicitly name the sources I used. I will not get into an argument over this. Instead, I would encourage people to find a system that works for them and use it.

Poke Runyon ([email protected]):

At this point the truth about my Dark Mirror contribution is such general knowledge that Kraig's refusal to admit it poses no threat to me or my work.

I will cite two current examples:
(1) From Lon Milo DuQuette's "My Life With The Spirits", 1999


My Life With the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician 


"Nathan Sanders was an O.T.O. Brother and the most experienced Goetic magician I had ever met. He was a former student of Carroll (Poke) Runyon, the legendary master of the art of evocation.

(Footnote: See "The Book of Solomon's Magick" ... Runyon rediscovered the key secret of conjuring a spirit to visible appearance in a black mirror. This facial distortion technique had been lost in the middle ages, leaving half a millennium of magicians struggling to see spirits in the incense smoke rising from an empty triangle.)"

-- page 119

(2) From David Griffin's "The Ritual Magic Manual", 1999

"In recent decades however, research has suggested that the smoke method is but a blind, or "smoke-screen" for the actual procedure, which is to place a mirror inside the Triangle of Art. For the latter method arrange the Triangle vertically so the magician can easily see his or her reflection therein. Although the adept should experiment with both methods, research reveals the latter to be more
effective. There is a distinct advantage in using the mirror in the Triangle instead of smoke, since the entity appears together with the reflection of the seer, thus facilitating the projection psychic contents into the Triangle.

(Footnote: This method was apparently rediscovered by Poke Runyon of the Ordo Templi Astarte(s).)"

-- page 551

All that would be necessary for Mr. Kraig to do in order to reconcile this issue -- even after all this time -- would be to revise his Chapter Nine for the next reprint of "Modern Magick", and give credit where credit is due. This would satisfy me, and make him look better in the eyes of his readership.



 Dark Mirror of Magick, 2nd Edition 



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