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Lon Milo DuQuette: Author Interview
© Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2008

Lon Milo and Constance DuQuette


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Biographical Information: (From Writers Network)

Born 1948 in Long Beach California, and raised in Columbus Nebraska -- 1960s radical Peace activist and Epic Records song-writer and recording artist turned author, Holy-Man, Humorist Wizard.

Author of 14 critically acclaimed books (translated into 10 languages) on Magick and the Occult, Lon Milo DuQuette is one of the most respected and entertaining writers and lecturers in the field of Western Hermeticism.

Since 1975 he as been a National and International governing officer of Ordo Templi Orientis, one of the most influential magical societies of the 20th Century. He is an internationally recognized authority on Tarot, Qabalah, and Western Ceremonial magick. Although he takes these subjects very seriously, he tries not to take himself too seriously. This rare combination of scholarship and humor has earned him in the last 20 years a unique and respected position in American spiritual and esoteric literature.

He is a prolific writer and his published works have been hailed by experts and novices alike for bringing and clarity to these most misunderstood subjects. One of his most popular works is the story of his own life as a practicing ceremonial magician, My Life with the Spirits. Futurist and best-selling author Robert Anton Wilson calls it "the best all-around introduction to Western Occultism -- sane, sensible, down-to-earth and wonderfully witty." My Life with the Spirits" and is currently the required text for two classes at DePaul University, Chicago.

Besides his own books (see below) his articles and essays appear in FATE MAGAZINE and numerous other magazines, journals and anthologies including "Rebels and Devils" alongside the works of William S. Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary and Israel Regardie.

He has taught at the Omega Institute of Holistic Studies and is a faculty member of the Maybe Logic Academy. In 2008 his life was the subject of a television documentary on Canada's Vision Network (Enigma series).

DuQuette's wit and quirky writing style has been compared to that of Mark Twain and Robert Benchley, is reflected in his presentations and seminars before live audiences who describe the experience as a curious combination of mesmerizing information, laughter and terror.

He lives in Costa Mesa California with Constance, his wife of 40 years.

His books are available at his website, http://lonmiloduquette.com, or through Amazon.com.


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Cheryl: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Lon: Without hesitation, the late Christopher S. Hyatt (Dr. Alan Miller). For two years he was literally my writing mentor. We co-authored four titles back in 90 & 91. It’s not that I am so enthralled with his books (I have to confess that I’ve read very few of them). But he taught me the discipline of writing and he was a masterful teacher. He died recently. He was absolutely brilliant and one of the most generous people I’ve ever met – generous with his time, his money, and most importantly, himself. I’ll miss him very much.

Other writers who inspire me are Mark Twain, Aleister Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson, Colleen McCullough, and Umberto Eco.

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Cheryl: What book are you reading now?

Lon: “Lamb” by Christopher Moore. What a hoot!

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Cheryl: What are your current projects?

Lon: I’m currently teaching an e-course, “Initiation – The Western Magical Tradition” at MAYBE LOGIC ACADEMY. It’s an on-line school founded by Robert Anton Wilson (His self-directed classes are still running). Other faculty members include Antero Alli, Peter Carroll, Starhawk, Jonathan Landaw, Annie Hill, Phil Farber, Patricia Monaghan…believe me, I’m the biggest putz on the faculty! The class is a 6 week version of a 3 day course I taught at the Omega Institute of Holistic studies a few years ago.

In October I will again give my 8 week class on Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. I did it last year and hope to have as much fun.

I’ve just finished a new book for Weiser Books, titled, ENOCHIAN VISION MAGICK – An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley. I’ve been working one this for three years and it goes to the printer next Monday (April 6th). Hopefully we’ll see it out in June.

On the Tarot front, U.S. Games Systems has recently returned the rights to my TAROT OF CEREMONIAL MAGICK and I’m excited to announce that I’ve found another publisher and it will be out again repackaged (I think, in a lacquered box) with a new booklet.


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Cheryl: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Lon: Here’s the blurb from the publisher.

ENOCHIAN VISION MAGICK
A PRACTICAL INTRODUCTION AND GUIDE
By
Lon Milo DuQuette

Having mastered the arts and sciences of his age, Elizabethan magus, Dr. John Dee (1527–1608), resolved that worldly knowledge could no longer provide him the wisdom he desired. As did so many other learned men of the day he turned his attention to magick. In 1582 he and his clairvoyant partner Edward Kelley made magical contact with a number of spiritual entities who identified themselves as angels – the same that communicated with the Adam, Enoch and the patriarchs of the Old Testament. Over the next three years they revealed to Dee and Kelley three distinct magical systems of vision magick. The third and last of these incorporated a series of ‘calls’ to be recited in an angelic language in order to raise the consciousness of the magician to a level where angelic contact is possible. Today, largely through the efforts and innovations of the 19th century adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the 20th century practices of Aleister Crowley, a powerful and elegant variation of this third system is used by practitioners all over the world who call the practice “Enochian Magick.”

Even though the Enochian Magick of the Golden Dawn and Crowley works admirably right out of the box, it bears little resemblance to the vision magick originally performed by Dee and Kelley. As a matter of fact, modern Enochian magick ignores almost completely the elements and magical instruments Dee and Kelley received during the first two years of their angelic communications; aspects of the system that modern magician Lon Milo DuQuette believes are necessary to adequately prepared the magician to perform this powerful magical system. In “Enochian Vision Magick” he introduces Enochian magick from the beginning, and offers to the expert and novice alike the opportunity not to only see the ‘big picture’ of the full system, but also the practical means by which he or she can become attuned in the same step-by-step manner that first prepared Dee and Kelley. There has never been a book on Enochian magick like this one.


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Cheryl: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Lon: Ordo Templi Orientis


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Cheryl: What does your family think of your writing?

Lon: My father died before I started writing, and even though I showed my mother every book I ever wrote she never really seemed to understand that I actually wrote the books. One day, after showing her my latest, she said, “You wrote this? Why? Did you get any money for it?” My wife, Constance had enough! “He writes lots of books.” She said. “He’s writing all the time! People all over the world buy them! They’re in lots of other languages! He’s famous!”

My mother looked at her and said, “Famous? I’VE never heard of him!”


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Cheryl: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Lon: When I’m really pushing I get up between 3:00 and 4:00 AM and write in the cool quiet of the wee hours and take a break around 10:00 or 11:00. Then I have breakfast with Constance in the back yard (even in winter. We only eat breakfast inside if it’s raining). I run errands in the early afternoon and try to take a nap around 3:00 or 4:00 PM. We usually eat an early dinner and I pretend to write a little until around 11:00 PM. I’m usually asleep by midnight, then up at 3:00 AM. The afternoon nap is the key to this crazy schedule.


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Cheryl: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Lon: Every time I sit down to work, I read the whole piece from the beginning. Naturally, this is very tedious and time-consuming but it allows me to wrap my mind around the whole thing and helps me establish a rhythm and keeps me perpetually striving to say things better and clearer.


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Cheryl: Do you have a specific writing style?

Lon: I don’t think so.


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Cheryl: When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Lon: I co-authored four titles with Christopher Hyatt in 1990 and 1991. My first stand-alone book was The Magick of Thelema in 1993, I was 45.


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Cheryl: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Lon: As a kid I thought it would be cool to be a writer and wear a corduroy jacket and a black turtleneck sweater and smoke a pipe, but I had absolutely no interest in actually writing anything. I became interested in magick and mysticism in my late teens and completely stopped thinking about what I wanted to be or do when I grew up beyond gaining enlightenment and probing the mysteries of the universe (I think some very life-changing psychedelic experiences had something to do with that.) Finally, around 1988 I get a call from Christopher Hyatt, Ph.D. asking me to help to write chapter in his book about Western Tantra. It never occurred to me I was qualified to do such a thing and I told him so. He reminded me that I had been studying and teaching this kind of stuff for 20 years and that sometimes a person just wakes up one morning to the realization that most people that know more than you about a subject are dead.

I wrote that chapter for him and went on to co-author four more books with him. I woke up one morning and I was a writer.


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Cheryl: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Lon: Play my guitar, watch films, have afternoon martinis, eat good food, nap.


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Cheryl: Who designed the covers?

Lon: That’s something the publisher usually handles. They ask me to be polite, but I always figure they know best. (Sometimes they really do!)


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Cheryl: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Lon: The first sentence.

Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of my new book.’

SOMETHING SECRET
Excerpt from Prologue to a Prologue
From: Enochian Vision Magick
By Lon Milo DuQuette
Weiser Books, 2008. All Rights Reserved

There is indeed something secret about a beginning, secret and invisible like the soul of infinite potential that broods in the heart of every living seed. My tongue is tied. I stare at the blank screen of my monitor. I don’t know how to start.

For the writer it is the most difficult moment; a million things to say, but where to begin? My eyes search the walls and ceiling of my little office and fall upon the mask of the Hindu god Ganesha. His bright, pleasant face reminds me of the opening scene of Jean-Claude Carrière’s play, The Mahabharata where Vyasa, the author of the epic poem is faced with his own writer’s block as he strives to begin his monumental story. Unable to read or write himself, Vyasa is blessed by the arrival of Ganesha, the beloved elephant-headed god, who offers to serve as Vyasa’s scribe and take down his story from dictation. He also gives Vyasa some advice about how to start.

“How about beginning with yourself?”

And so, in pale imitation of the poet Vyasa, I will heed the wise counsel of my elephant-headed Lord, the remover of obstacles. I shall begin this work of magick by telling you something about myself. Don’t worry. I won’t tell you much. Just enough to get us started.


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Cheryl: What do you see as the influences on your writing?

Lon: The absurdity and entertainment value of objective reality.


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Cheryl: What books have most influenced your life most?

Lon: Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda, and The Science of Breath, by Yogi Ramacharaka. More than anything else these works instilled in me the ideal that a true spiritual life does not exclude the possibility of having fun. One can be a Holy person while still being a bit naughty.


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Cheryl: How has your environment/upbringing coloured your writing?

Lon: I was raised in Nebraska. I hated it. It made me lazy. I wanted to be lazy because a person can’t be lazy and be a hard-working Nebraskan at the same time, and the last thing in the world I wanted to be was a hard-working Nebraskan. It’s not that most Nebraskans aren’t dear souls and wonderful people, but that harsh environment seems to suck all the interestingness right out of them. They don’t mind learning things, just as long as they don’t have to have experiences. A decent experience might make them interesting and draw attention to themselves so that their neighbors might accuse them of trying to “be somebody.” The worst thing a Nebraskan can say about another Nebraskan is that he or she “…. Is “trying to BE somebody.”

So I’m lazy. When I want to say something I do it the lazy way...in as few words as possible…so simple even a Nebraskan could understand.


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Cheryl: Do you see writing as a career?

Lon: Of course. It’s what I do for a living. I’m a full-time Lon.


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Cheryl: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Lon: Hell yes! Writers never finish a work, we just abandon it. After three years of writing Enochian Vision Magick I had only begun to say what needed to be said. But none of us will ever live long enough to say everything he or she truly needs to say. I consider myself lucky to be lazy enough to recognize when it’s time to abandon what I have and get the damned thing published.


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Cheryl: What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Lon: I’m comfortable writing anything. I love to write. But for pure writing enjoyment and relaxation I prefer writing fiction. I had so much fun writing “Accidental Christ.” For me, when I write fiction the pressure is off. I don’t have to be an expert on anything. I don’t have to stop every 30 seconds to insert footnotes or worry if my Hebrew or Greek is correct, or organizing my bibliography and reference, or if I’m contradicting myself from a book I wrote 15 years ago.


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Cheryl: Is there a message in your novel/book that you want readers to grasp?

Lon: I’d prefer the reader finds his or her own message.


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Cheryl: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Lon: I start to build characters based on people I know or with whom I’m familiar, but they soon assume a life of their own. Events in my life? Sure.


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Cheryl: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Lon: I’m sure I learn something from every book I write, but unfortunately I forget it.


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Cheryl: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Lon: Write every day, even if it’s no good. Think of it as getting the no good stuff out of you. You can always throw it away later. Be as unpretentious as possible.


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Cheryl: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Lon: Like yourself.


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Cheryl: Tell us your latest news.

Lon: I bought myself a new guitar, a Larrivee OM03. The first guitar I’ve purchased since 1965. My old song-writing and recording partner, Charley Harris and I are recording a new CD (Charley D. & Milo – 40 Years 40 Nights. (See…I have a life too!)


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