An Interview with Ike Baker: On His Occult Path and Insights into Western Esoteric Traditions

Introduction

I discovered our guest, Ike Baker, via his YouTube channel, it is a treasure trove of wonderful videos delving deeply into fascinating subjects. From Magic, Ritual, Gnosticism, the quality of content and presentation really make it stand out. This prompted me to contact Ike and invite him to participate in an interview. So firstly, huge thanks to Ike for agreeing and for providing us with some really interesting answers.

If you enjoy this interview, then please let us know in the comments and be sure to check the links at the end of the interview where you can follow more of Ike’s work.

The following introduction to his YouTube channel is valuable I think in getting to know Ike prior to reading his words in this interview.


Interview

PAA: How did you get started in these Occult arts and Magic?

IB: Kind of by accident, although I don’t really believe in accidents. Let me preface this by saying that I was always someone who researched and studied comparative religions, freemasonry, the paranormal, etc., and knew vaguely of the really esoteric stuff without understanding it. One day, I was emptying out a deceased woman’s apartment— who happened to be a former tenant of my aunt’s— when I stumbled upon a very interesting little book entitled “The Oracle of Kabbalah.” I asked my aunt if I could take it home and then promptly devoured it in a single session. By the time I was done with it, I still didn’t have any idea what really Kabbalah was, but I knew it was important. So, I went on the internet yellow pages to look for a Kabbalah study group in my area, which brought up a particular person’s phone number and email. We got in touch and he informed me that the group no longer met, but that there was this other thing… which turned out to be the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The rest is history, I guess.

PAA: You are also a Freemason. What can you share about what prompted you to join and your experience as a member? (We realize you are limited in what you can share)

IB: Freemasonry and I have a complicated relationship. Most men join the Fraternity and are introduced to various occult groups, orders and organizations from there. It was actually the last esoteric group I joined. For years I staunchly avoided it, because it seemed out of balance in missing the feminine component. Now that I’m a little older, I understand why that can be important in a man’s life, so long as that dynamic remains balanced within the practitioner, and within their lives. It can actually end up creating more balance in a man’s life. However, I joined when I moved to North Carolina after being introduced to a few of the more esoterically- minded brethren and have remained active in Lodge and ritual work, and it has bolstered a sense of fulfillment that had absolutely been missing from other esoteric groups and organizations. There is a real sense of brotherhood and friendship— a depth of compassion, respect, and support— which I think for most men, especially if you’re like me and don’t regard agreeability for its own sake as having any inherent value, can be scarce as an adult. As far as esotericism, not everyone is there for that. Many of us just meet, hang out, pray, eat a meal, do ritual and some form of charity work. People have definitely got a very uninformed idea about what goes on in a typical masonic lodge.

PAA: Leading on from the previous question. I see you have been doing some very interesting talks, now I am not sure what can be shared publicly… about the metaphysical symbolism of the Plum, Square and Level in Freemasonry. This sounds fascinating.

IB: Regardless of whether or not it’s become more mundane in the last hundred years or so, Masonry truly is a receptacle of occult knowledge which has passed through the ages. It’s like a treasure chest which carries the esoteric teachings of the west. This is because the symbols are the teachings, or rather contain the teachings, so to speak. Everything else is, for the most part, just commentary. Masonry claims itself to be a, “Beautiful system of morality veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.” Therefore, the tools of a workman which demonstrate or prove the existence of a physical law, and a craftsman’s skill by way of conformity to them, are useful symbols by which to illustrate, via allegory, the existence of non-physical, yet no less immutable laws of cause-and-effect, which we might consider as being a product of our
choices, or lifestyle. I think that’s about as much detail as I’ll go into.

PAA: Can we ask a little about your personal practice? For example things like developing stillness of mind, developing sensitivity to energy, and visualizing skills. These seem to be fundamental regardless of path, how did you approach these skills.

IB: Attention is the action and currency of consciousness. Attention focused toward stillness will first create an awareness of what is there— typically a relentless flurry of thoughts. If persisted in, combined with certain techniques, such as breath-work for example, will culminate in a still awareness. Perception of energy is again bringing attention to the idea of the field of energy around, and energetic movement within the physical organism. This will likely initially present a mass of physical discomforts, perhaps tied to emotions, negative thoughts, and traumas. If persisted in, by certain methods, such as qi-gong, and body-based mindfulness meditation, this will culminate in a sensation—an awareness—of the presence and movement of energy. Same goes for learning to see energy, as well as visualization. A vigorously persistent, yet relaxed attention will bring awareness over time; the first step of which is typically some form of meditation. Negative thoughts and emotions must be brought under control so that they cannot assert themselves over the developing awareness. Many practitioners have voiced their issues concerning the interference of doubt in their training. Doubt, or skepticism rather, can often be helpful in avoiding delusion, but doubt is also often just as much a supposition as blind belief. The key to mitigating negative thoughts and overwhelming skepticism which can often shoot our efforts in the foot, so to speak, is the curating of our mental diets. Clarity of perception is something that often must be attained to varying measures by determination, and persistence in our… noisy society.


PAA: You have recently released some wonderful videos on the subject of Gnosticism. I have linked to the video above. This is an amazing presentation, what made you decide to tackle this huge subject and how many parts can we expect?

IB: Gnosticism is a subject I am intensely interested in, not merely from an academic standpoint, but rather as a practical worldview. It’s symbolic conceptions of the created universe, and the unmanifest beyond are things I feel I had intuited from a very young age, but always encountered resistance to in the prevailing spiritual paradigm of my culture and time. Yet, there exist many eastern spiritual movements, which at their core are esoteric in a way similar to Gnosticism. In this way, I’ve found the early gnostic worldview to be a satisfactory and ultimately deeply reconciling realization regarding the nature of creation, and beyond. Kind of a spiritual “theory of everything.” But it doesn’t really seem to be something thoroughly
understood within the occult and esoteric communities at large. Gnosticism and gnosis are kind of catch-all, or “apply-as-you-like” terms. My videos “What Is Gnosticism, Parts I & II” are an introduction to the subject, since I’m still at a stage with the channel where I’m laying out the foundations of the systems in the western esoteric traditions. There will be much more on Gnosticism, since it plays into nearly every topic I’ve touched on and will examine in the future.

PAA: Coming from a Franz Bardon perspective, Evocation and the ‘reality’ of non-human beings comes with working the system and achieving the requirements set forth by Franz Bardon. But I know this is not a view shared by all, what are your thoughts on the practice of Evocation, Invocation and working with beings from various grimoires? Some believe this is an entirely psychological process while others feel our personal experience has somewhat proven the reality of these beings as existing outside of ourselves. Where do you stand on this?

IB: In terms of a psychological reality vs. the objective existence of spirits, intelligences, etc., I tend to harmonize the perceived antagonism. It’s very clearly both simultaneously. This has been understood for millennia and summarized in the doctrine of the macrocosm and microcosm; exemplified in the hermetic axiom, “As above so below, as below so above.” This is often elaborated, “As within, so without.” When we evoke one, we inevitably evoke some degree of the other. They are in essence tied to one another. This is the meaning behind the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’s adage, “By Names and Images are all powers awakened and reawakened.” Calling something forth in our microcosm — our Sphere of Sensation— has the effect of drawing forth that same power in the outside world, and vice versa. This is the basis of all magic, from a western esoteric perspective. Our main issue as a society is the fragmentation of our perception of existence. We’ve been trained the same way water trains grooves into rock, to automatically view everything through a nominalist, cartesian processing system. Things we experience must be classified by way of “either-or”, rarely both simultaneously. In this case, it is both simultaneously. The more quickly you can reconcile apparent divisions and ellipses in your worldview, the sooner you’ll arrive at that much sought- after clarity which had previously evaded you.

PAA: You distinguish between theurgy and sorcery based on intent – theurgy aims to align with higher forces, while sorcery serves the self. In your view, what prevents sorcery from becoming selfish or dangerous? How does one ethically wield power through sorcery?

IB: I find the obsession with power to be a bane in magical communities. Dr. Skinner has pointed out rather aptly that magic had nothing to do with spirituality in Hellenistic-Roman Egypt. The magical practitioner had only to adept in summoning forces, namely spirits, to their aid in any variety of mundane situations. In love, for instance, or even in the removal of a chicken bone from the throat. Yet, this was a techne — a skill like any other mundane craft. It did not necessitate personal or spiritual development. This persists today in modern magical communities to a greater degree, at least from what I can tell. Yet many of these same practitioners will admit to some degree, a law of what we might call “karma” for lack of a better, or at least more widely-understood term. Karma is not merely at work when someone does
something bad. Karma is always at work. In the western esoteric traditions, we see this in the funerary texts of the ancient Egyptians— the weighing of the heart against the feather of Ma’at which essentially symbolizes the Dharma of the natural Order— perhaps we could use Tao here as well, for those more inclined to such terms. I’m branching out of the strictly western paradigm to help illustrate this point because these eastern terms are simply more readily understood by the average practitioner, but there absolutely are western terms for these concepts, and we find them mainly in the Platonic corpus and the philosophical lineage that unfolded from it. Before the weighing of the heart against the feather of Ma’at (Truth), the deceased was obliged to make a negative confession to forty-two judges of the afterlife. This is another karmic illustration. We also see another conception of the karmic mechanism of the manifest universe in Plato’s Republic, Book X, in the “Myth of Er.” Wherein souls are judged for past deeds, and the reincarnating (metempsychosis in Platonic verbiage) Soul is bound to an unfathomably large “spindle” and irrevocably tied as with thread to its guiding Daimon, as well as the material world itself.

If we simply view the world around us, and our own experience of that world— not superficially, as in the way we have been taught by societal structures, but rather if we view it deeply from a place of clarity and spiritual insight— we see an underlying cosmic Order. This Order clearly involves a deterministic component, as well as a free-will component. Again, it is both simultaneously. So, how do we effect a species of free-will upon the deterministic Order of cosmic cause-and-effect? Simply put, we must be guided by the aspect of our spiritual architecture which completely transcends our persona— the small “s” self. Intuition is a method by which this communication can in part be affected, however, intuition is not always clear, nor correct for everyone. This is where initiation comes in. True Initiation is the path of
Theurgy. It is the path of bringing one to union with one’s “guiding Daimon” to use the Platonic
terminology. Thomas Taylor translated the word Daimon as “Genius” in his translation of the Platonic corpus. It is from this that we inherited the concept of the Higher Divine Genius of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It’s a symbolic or mythic image of the meditating aspect of our spiritual architecture which is closer to the Divine Source than our personas, inexorably linked to our physical plane waking existence. It is this which must guide us through a combination of conscience, intuition, synchronicity, and direct communication, toward the best possible application of free-will. Therefore, the Theurgist is a kind of ethical sorcerer. Somehow we as a people have been instilled with a hubris which tends us toward bypassing an understanding of ourselves on multiple levels. At various stages of life, we are perfectly confident with our own conceptions of the world, what it is, and how best to act. It’s only hindsight which allows us to see how wrong we were, amidst the perfect certainty. The small “s” self— the persona— cannot make the best possible decision on its own. Therefore, it must rely on all the aforementioned in order to do so, viz. conscience, intuition, (which is enormously different from instinct) direct communication with the Higher aspects of our being.

This is why Platonic Philosophy is so important as a preliminary training before magical work. First Alcibiades for instance, delineates the problem of being ignorant of your own ignorance, and as a consequence, we cannot learn what we think we already understand. The solution to this is that we must know ourselves. Truly. Iamblichus — who, as far as we know, was the first theurgist, recommended an order of study of Plato’s dialogues where First Aclibiades was read first, since this was prerequisite to the acquisition of the virtues, and of theurgy. Therefore, in short, it is best practice to derive power from meaning rather than meaning from power.

PAA: You mentioned examining one’s motivations and ethics before beginning ritual work. What methods or thought processes do you personally use to evaluate the ethics of a working?

IB: I began studying classical psychology— as opposed to modern psychology, which is as many have pointed out, nothing more than behaviorism— when I was in my early twenties. This instilled in me a natural tendency to always provide a counter argument to whatever it was my internal monologue was putting forward or favoring. The awareness that the internal monologue is not the true Self, is a good starting point. That voice has to be interiorly questioned, rather than merely hidden from the exterior world. The invisible self must be found out and exposed to the Light of Truth. Becoming aware of it, is the first step. In this way, you wage war on the small “s” self and its petty desires, and the battles are daily. Persistence is the next key. It’s really a 360-degree lifestyle. However, I will use some techniques of divination as a kind of last check-point before. The main questions I hold my ethics up against are basically, (1) Will this harm someone else? (2) Will this harm me? (3) Will there be negative unintended
consequences for myself or anyone else? (4) Is it worth the Karma?

PAA: Generally speaking, what do you feel is the most common mistake or pitfall for newcomers to ritual magic and how can they avoid it?

IB: The idea that magic is somehow the acquisition of power enough to remake the world, or at least your sphere of influence, in your own image of what is good; to your own satisfaction. You are too small a cog, in too vast a machine to ever comprehend the greatest good. That’s simple not how the manifest universe works. Every action has an equal and opposing reaction. Hence is the road to hell paved by good intentions. Companies, politicians, institutions of a certain nature have a vested interest in being able to convince you that you do, but it simply isn’t so. Our perspectives are utterly limited by the bonds of time and space. Therefore, engage in a magical tradition which seeks to bring you into communication with the aspects of your spiritual architecture that transcend those limitations. Become aware of the part of the self which seeks to collect and wear an “occult” esthetic as a costume— challenge it. Stop lying to yourself.

PAA: You mention humanity being in a state of “puberty” when it comes to magic and consciousness. What might the future look like as we mature? How can magic help us evolve as a species, both individually and collectively?

IB: As one of my favorite esoteric Masters once said, “Always in motion is the future.” I would amend my previous statement in saying we are in a puberty. We have lived in magical ages before, as a species. We are perhaps then in an artificially induced state of puberty— a reversion. The use of magic is a powerful tool, but when not guided by the Highest, culminates in hardship. It can generate a sort of cause-and-effect with compound interest. There is no guarantee that magic is the answer. If we are descended from those who once lived in a magical, enchanted universe, how did we end up here? Choice— what we did with our free-will. When not aligned with Morality— I’m not talking about religious piousness nor secular humanist ethics— but cosmic cause-and-effect, we continue to make choices that lead us further into error. We may have learned by now that it is when we are most sure of ourselves that we must reassess. At this point on our timeline, the only way out is the way through, but in my estimation, initiation by way of an ultimately Theurgic current is the best of all possible paths. Not more interjection and competition of billions of individual wills. However, I do believe it’s all toward an ultimate good, which as I mentioned before, limited as I am to my infinitesimally small perception of the universe cannot entirely perceive. Suffering is the catalyst of evolution, and the Soul, according to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, is conditioned by its experience in the material. Yet, I keep in mind that not all species have continued to evolve.

PAA: Many thanks for your time in answering our questions, I have really enjoyed your answers and look forward to learning more from your you tube channel.


More Information

If you have interest in deep topics, well explained by a practitioner then subscribing to Ike’s channel is a must: ARCANVM You Tube Channel

Would you like to learn more from Ike? Join him and two other Instructors as they guide you through The Three Books of Occult Philosophy – Agrippa. (This is not associated with Perseus – but the contents look fantastic) Three Books – Three Instructors – Six Great Weeks


18-Month Curriculum

SixtySkills is transforming the traditional transmission of meditative, and yogic, instruction from one of master to disciple to a modern online learning format. SixtySkills has covered the globe and over a thrity year period derived the key techniques from all the major schools of Buddhism, Hermetics, Hindu-Yogic, and Taoist practice.

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Philip Harris-Smith
Philip Harris-Smith
8 months ago

“Most men join the Fraternity and are introduced to various occult groups, orders and organisations from there.”-2nd sentence in answer to 1st question.
The basic rational Franz Bardon offered for writing his 3 books on hermetic training was that Hermetic training in a genuine mystery school whilst preferable was no longer possible in the modern day. For this reason the training in Bardon’s books is according to him designed for solo work whilst the student may also be fulfilling work and family commitments.

this leads to the obvious issue: Which of these is correct? Can the newly initiated aspirant move from the ‘clearing house’ of masonry into a genuine mystery school? Or are such groups, orders etc lacking the genuine hermetic teachings such that Bardon felt obliged to make some of these teachings public and so published them?

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