Marcus Mattern was not always a believer in angels or the power of magick. As a former atheist, his journey to connecting with his Holy Guardian Angel through rigorous ritual practices and self-development work is an insightful one for spiritual seekers. In this detailed interview, Marcus shares the revelations, challenges, and lessons learned along his path from skepticism to supernatural experiences. He provides practical advice for using magickal and meditative techniques to unfold one’s True Will and unveil inner divinity. From explaining magick’s parallels to science to describing his intense initiatory encounters with angelic forces, Marcus offers wisdom gained from direct experience to inspire fellow travelers on the winding road to enlightenment.
If you are fascinated by the Holy Guardian Angel then you can also read about Denny Sargent’s Experience here.
Hermetic Qabala, theurgy, and magick as way to connect with angels and divinity
PAA: What first drew you to the study of the Qabalah and how has it helped you connect to higher powers?
Marcus: The Hermetic Qabala is a near-perfect map of consciousness. It not only describes the major milestones of elemental, planetary, and divine consciousness, but also the qualities which must be cultivated to attain each level—and the pitfalls one is likely to run into along the way. When combined with the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram, it also becomes a vehicle of consciousness, allowing you to ascend through the spheres by a mix of intellectual comprehension and ritual invocation.
I was drawn to study it because of how intensely obscure and impenetrable it is. I’m used to reading technical philosophy, but I somehow still struggled to wrap my head around the sefirot. What I learned over time is that the sefirot cannot be communicated, any more than the taste of wine can be communicated. They have to be directly experienced. The mix of reading and direct experience unlocks their secrets and powers.
PAA: In what ways has practicing theurgy or ceremonial magick deepened your relationship with divinity or enlightened you spiritually?
Marcus: Theurgy helped me to experience the divine at a time I didn’t even believe such a thing existed. If the divine was careless enough to let my father die when I was six years old, why would I even want it to exist? What I learned is that all the suffering we experience is the alchemical fire of divine severity meant to transform us as individuals when we survive—and as a collective human consciousness when we do not. By understanding and accepting the transformation, even the harshest trauma can be endured with grace and even gratitude for the substantial change it inspires.
PAA: How do you respond to skepticism about the existence of angels, given your personal experiences working with them through ritual practices?
Marcus: I find it funny that people who believe in an evidence-based worldview are unwilling to experiment with magick. If they did experiment with daily magick for 3 months as I did, they would likely tumble down the same rabbit hole and find themselves in a world that only the most fringe science has even begun to explain.
Angels are real forces of consciousness. You simply have to invoke them to experience their effects. Whether you choose to personify them or treat them as impersonal energies is your own choice. I find that most spirits are like service staff: they will usually respond to being treated like machines, but they very much appreciate being honored as people.
PAA: What advice would you give someone who desires to develop a connection with their holy guardian angel through studying the Qabalah or practicing theurgy?
Marcus: Perform as much veneration, contemplation, and invocation of the sun as you can possibly stand. Union with the Holy Guardian Angel happens in the solar sefira of Tifaret, and the more you can endure its energy—while avoiding the traps of contentiousness and narcissism—the better you will understand the Angel. This could be mistaken for common pagan or polytheist worship, but the sun of the Qabalists is not the ordinary sun, it is the hidden and eternal sun of suns, the “El” of “Helios,” and when you reflect its qualities in your personality and your life, the world becomes a brighter place for all of us.
The relationship between magick and science
PAA: As a former atheist, what caused you to open up to the possibilities of magick when it can’t always be scientifically proven or measured?
Marcus: My experience with meditation, which is scientifically proven and measured, taught me that the benefits it can provide are far beyond what is understood by science. My first glimpse of the Holy Guardian Angel actually came to me after many years of meditation, although I had no idea what it was or how to use invocation to explore that experience at the time.
This made me realize that science is well-suited to studying short term effects, while things that take a lot of time are prohibitively costly and difficult to research. As a result, I started getting more curious about what other spiritual practices are real, but under-researched. And this curiosity opened me up to practicing magick in a serious and dedicated way.
PAA: How have you managed to reconcile your scientific worldview with a belief in forces or entities that currently lie outside the scope of science?
Marcus: “Science,” as the word is popularly used, conflates two ideas:
1) The process of falsification, which is the true method of science.
2) Materialism, the belief in physical substance outside of experience, which is the current paradigm of science.
History is a brilliant guide to the truth of the matter, which is that materialism has not always been the dominant ideology of science. Sir Isaac Newton was famously an alchemist above all else and conducted all his research in the paradigm of astrology, which viewed physical matter as condensed astrological forces.
Paradigms are important because not everything that survives the process of falsification becomes science. It’s not enough for a phenomenon to be proven, it also has to be explained. And the difference between a truth and an anomaly is literally storytelling.
The results I experience through magick are an anomaly with respect to the current paradigm of science, but could very easily be proven through a new paradigm of science. The Evolutionary Realism espoused by Don Hoffman is a perfect example.
PAA: Are there any parallels you see between the experimentation involved in scientific inquiry and that involved in magical practices?
Marcus: Absolutely! This is why magicians are asked to keep a book of shadows and make meticulous records of exactly what they do in ritual and exactly what results they get. Magicians have, for millennia, sought to develop reproducible results from their experiments. Because manifestation is so complex—it must take everything else that exists into account to be successful—this process has been slow going. Nonetheless, reliable techniques for both manifestation and illumination have been refined over the years and the ceremonial magick of the Golden Dawn system includes both.
PAA: What would you say to a skeptic who believes magick is merely psychological rather than supernatural?
Marcus: You should try practicing magick for the multitude of psychological benefits!
I have no real disagreement with people who think this way. I fully anticipated that magick would be merely psychological when I began practicing myself and it was only through experiencing genuine miracles that I realized magick is part of the world and not part of the mind. These miracles are not usually reproducible or provable and can always be dismissed by someone who does not want them to be true. But once you experience the supernatural first hand, it cannot be so easily dismissed.
Practicing magick to banish stress and anchor your mind toward the positive is a great way to start benefiting from it straight away. The miracles will come with time, if you want them to.
The non-importance of faith in magick
PAA: Why do you believe that faith is not a prerequisite for practicing magick effectively? What other faculties are more important?
Marcus: In magick, as in science, suspension of disbelief is paramount. You cannot actively doubt the possibility of an action if you hope to do it successfully. You have to be concentrated and committed. I learned these qualities through meditation. And I achieved life-changing results from 90 days of daily magick without ever expecting more than mild, psychological benefits. I am the proof that magick does not require faith.
PAA: In what ways are the concentration, experimentation, and open-mindedness required by magick similar to a scientific approach?
Marcus: Suspension of disbelief is important in science for two reasons. One, you can negatively influence an activity in unconscious ways through doubt. This is even true when you are not the one performing the activity, which is why double-blind studies are needed in psychology, but it is especially true when you are the only one doing the activity, as in magick. Two, you have to suspend your belief well enough to accept the results of your experiment, even when those results contradict closely held beliefs.
It is only when you experiment with full concentration and an open mind that you can trust yourself to create and evaluate significant results. This was my approach when I experimented with magick and it is the one I recommend.
PAA: Have your magickal practices ever worked despite moments of doubt rather than requiring pure faith? If so, how do you explain that?
Marcus: Faith is certainly useful in magick, in fact it’s kind of a cheat. If you have complete faith in the efficacy of a ritual, you can perform it with the same confidence as someone who’s done it for years and understands it completely. But faith is blind, and if the practice you have chosen does not work in the way you believe it does, faith can get you into trouble. Faith is a source of motivation in ritual, but it is not the only source and it has drawbacks, like everything else.
When I began practicing magick, I was plagued by doubt to the point of hopelessness most of the time. Faith was impossible. But I had a very powerful source of motivation: sheer desperation. While practicing magick, I put my doubt aside and concentrated on my passionate desire for change and poured that emotional energy into every movement, every visualization, and every word I vibrated.
The beauty of magick is that a few minutes of concentrated, intentional mental action can actually be more important than your mental activity throughout the rest of the day. This is comparable to the effect you see from a short, high-impact workout on a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise does not require you to have faith, it requires you to move using whatever motivation you can find, and so does magick.
PAA: For someone new to magick, what mindset would you recommend they cultivate if faith does not come naturally to them?
Marcus: You live in a world dominated by invisible machines. There are no atoms at the basis of the nation you live in, or the laws you obey, or the money you use. Treat magick as one of these invisible machines: immaterial and yet powerfully real. Then simply follow the instructions correctly and with full concentration, as you should when operating any highly powerful machine.
The psychological vs. supernatural benefits of magick
PAA: In your experience, what are some of the key psychological benefits that practicing magick can provide?
Marcus: Anchoring is a psychological phenomena where we base our judgements on the previous examples given to us. Rituals powerfully anchor our experience of events following them. This is true of social rituals: graduation ceremonies try to fill us with a sense of prestige and marriage ceremonies with a sense of love, beauty, and community support. These keystone experiences positively frame what follows, which helps us to overcome challenges and fully enjoy our blessings.
A daily magick ritual is a keystone experience for your day. A good ritual explains who you are: a magician with the power to shape reality, what you are going to accomplish: the banishing of negatives and the invocation of positives, and who is going to help you: all the angels or other spirits you invoke. As a result, you will interpret the events of the day as happening through the intervention of spirits, to alter the course of your life, in accordance with your true will.
This may seem like an imaginary form of power, but the personal imagination can very quickly become the collective imagination. When you can use magick to cultivate absolute confidence, you will find there are no shortage of people willing to listen to you and experience the world you have created through thought, symbol, and action. This directly relates to another benefit and the greatest psychological power of magick: influence.
PAA: Beyond the psychological, what types of tangible, supernatural results have you been able to achieve through magickal practices?
Marcus: There is an often-ignored massive gray area in magick between the psychological and the supernatural, which is the highly unlikely. Most successful magick results in something unlikely. Maybe it could have happened without magick. But when your life is filled with highly unlikely fortunate events, it becomes clear that you have the favor of some supernatural force.
In terms of the blatantly supernatural—and these are miracles rather magick—I’ve seen angels and greater beings manifest before my physical eyes, sometimes as gray shapes, sometimes as colors too vivid to exist in this world. Always they have an important message for me and doubtlessly, I listen.
A truly adept magician is the equivalent of an old testament prophet, whether they choose to reveal and profess their experiences are not. With the possible exception of the Abramelin Operation, I know of no way to induce these miracles, but they do reliably happen to those dedicated to purifying themselves.
PAA: How do you respond to those who believe magick only works through psychological suggestion rather than supernatural forces?
Marcus: I can’t describe the supernatural any more than I can describe wine to someone who’s never tasted it. If you haven’t experienced the supernatural, you lack the vocabulary of experience to construct what I am talking about in your mind by using words alone.
The process of expanding your vocabulary of experience is gnosis.
It is entirely possible to practice magick for its psychological benefits, only to accidentally achieve gnosis, as I have.
PAA: Do you feel both the psychological and supernatural elements are essential components that make magick effective? Why or why not?
Marcus: For a regular practitioner performing magick for themselves, the psychological and supernatural elements of magick are always working together. How you conceive of something psychologically has energetic consequences to the attention you bring to it, how you identify it, how you feel about it, and how you decide to act in response to it.
These four individual faculties mirror the four worlds of the mental plane, astral plane, etheric plane, and material plane. The supernatural determines the process by which forces travel down through the planes to result in external manifestation. The psychological determines the process by which forces travel down through the levels of the individual self to result in practical action.
Since experience is always a combination of the external world and the individual agent, both are always present.
The relationship between magick and self-development
PAA: What self-knowledge have you gained through practicing magick aimed at manifesting external rewards or results?
Marcus: Being in a tropical paradise with a beautiful partner and tons of money may remove all external limitations to happiness, but often this simply makes your internal limitations much more apparent. Why can’t I be happy? Why am I never satisfied? These big external wins simply show me all the internal work I still have to do. And when I do it, I always find a new level of bliss and contentment that isn’t dependent on what’s going on around me.
PAA: How has your magickal practice revealed things about yourself or areas in your life that need growth or improvement?
Marcus: This world is so preciously fragile: everyone we love can die, everything we are a part of can end. Invoking the divine forces of the universe has shown me that I’m here to experience more than dissatisfaction. All that is temporary embodies and participates in the eternal. Through magick, I’m continually reminded of all the attachments I have to the way things are, all the aversion to change, and I’m given a chance to directly experience the divine purpose behind worldly things, which lets me overcome my fears, hatreds, and anxieties, and re-engage in the world with unconditional love.
PAA: In what ways can the process of performing magick be just as transformative as the results one hopes to achieve?
Marcus: Ritual itself is so inherently powerful: you decide that you are in control, despite any appearance to the contrary, and whatever changes you are prevented from making through direct action will be accomplished through symbolic action. Because we always have the ability to take symbolic action, magick allows us to realize our own inalienable power. This has dramatic and positive consequences for how you show up in the world and how you love yourself that are honestly more important than any external result you could hope to achieve.
PAA: For someone new to magick, what inner work would you recommend they do alongside any external magickal goals they may have?
Marcus: Journaling is of utmost importance and the most important question to ask while journaling is “What did I learn?” This goes so much deeper than evaluating the outcomes of your magick, although that is part of it. We are all born into a hellish dualism of good and evil where each defines the other, so neither can prevail, and our experience of the tension between them is constant conflict without relief. Once you understand the learning process, you begin to experience every evil that befalls you as an opportunity: a learning experience that will propel you to embody your own ideal of The Good. And that is the greatest blessing of magick: becoming your true self so that you can be truly happy.
The True Will
PAA: In your view, what does it mean to discover one’s True Will and live in alignment with it?
Marcus: I speak of two levels: the individual will and the true will. The individual will is liberated from the influences of family, friends, lovers, bosses, the government, and advertising. Even when well-intentioned, these influences replace our own desires for ourselves and confuse us about who we really are. Journaling and energetic withdrawal are crucial to remove these influences. Once you know your individual will, you can then discover the true will. The true will is a subset of the individual will: it is all the positive things you want that do not come at the expense of anyone else. It is true because it is the portion of the will that every person can express simultaneously and, when we do this, the true divinity and paradise of the material world is revealed. Learning to listen to your true will and correctly express it is the work of a lifetime.
PAA: What practices or processes do you recommend for people seeking to unveil their deepest purpose or passion in life?
Marcus: Visualize cords of influence connecting you to your closest friends and loved ones. Then visualize the cords of influence from all other friends and family. Then visualize all other cords of influence from all other acquaintances. Breathe in and withdraw all of these cords back into the body, then breathe out and see all these influences leaving through the bottoms of your feet as black smoke, returning to the center of the earth. Then start journaling and write down all the things you love to do. Circle all the things you can be paid for or celebrated for, that improve other people’s lives. Do these things as much as possible and start building a life around them.
PAA: Have you been able to discover and pursue your own True Will? What was that process like for you?
Marcus: Yes, in fact I believe all my experiences of the Holy Guardian Angel were simply expressions of a deeper connection to my true will. It is the absolute and irreplaceable key to magick. The process of realizing my true will crystalized when I began Spiritual Alchemy, a practice of journaling and breathwork for self-realization created by Mary Anne Atwood, the unsung heroine of the modern occult revival. Spiritual Alchemy allowed me to not only understand that all of creation is a learning process, but to invoke these lessons and feel them in my bones. I’ve created my own course in Spiritual Alchemy to share these insights and an Inner Alchemy practice to better integrate them.
PAA: What advice would you give someone who feels they have always done what was expected of them but now seeks their own True Will?
Marcus: Be prepared to piss everyone off. Your true will is your own authenticity, and unless you are fully enlightened, there will always be some important aspect of your life that is totally inauthentic—based on the expectations of others or false expectations you have of yourself. For this reason: Offer all of your life circumstances as a sacrifice to your own true will. It is not the case that everything will change, but everything could change: you could lose your job, become estranged from friends and family, and have to move somewhere else. When you are ready to experience all of that, you are ready to embrace your true will and even the simplest action you take to invoke it will have life-changing consequences.
The Holy Guardian Angel
PAA: What was your initial encounter and conversation like with your Holy Guardian Angel? How did it come about?
Marcus: After practicing Tibetan Buddhism and meditating regularly for almost a decade, I had the uncanny experience one afternoon of being spoken to, in my head, by my own higher self. I did not understand what this voice was at the time, but I knew it was not myself. This voice chastised me for all the selfish actions I was considering and threatened to call the wrath of God down upon me, promising me he had done it before. I immediately realized this was true. I became intensely dissociated from myself, disidentifying with not only the voice in my head, but also the part of myself that was listening and replying to it. I asked “who am I?” and felt the space between these two identities as both absolute nothingness and absolute beingness.
I had no idea what to do with this experience.
Fast forward five years and I’m listening to Damien Echols talk about receiving the name and symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel on his Youtube channel. On a whim I went back to this memory, back to the emptifullness, and asked for a name and symbol. Immediately it was revealed to me.
I did nothing with this information for a year. My life circumstances were unusually comfortable at the time and I wanted to enjoy them before doing anything drastic. After waiting as long as possible, I got a psychic nudge and began directly invoking the name and symbol of the HGA through ceremonial magick.
The details of the HGA Contact Ritual are something I only share with clients of my magick course after adequate warning and preparation. Directly invoking your HGA can be incredibly dangerous, because the ego making room for the HGA is not simply an idea, it is an energetic entity directly tied to your mind and heartbeat, both of which must be kept safe in this process.
After just over 40 days, an alchemical month of invocations, it happened. Over the course of an afternoon, I experienced my heart swelling with unconditional love for myself. I have felt this same self-love every moment since then. I had suffered from depression for over twenty five years, since the age of 12, and the only thing that kept me going was the hope of this exact moment that I achieved through magick.
I lost my job of five years and my girlfriend of two years that same week. Everything inauthentic in my life vanished. And I began to be guided by strong nonverbal impulses that showed me how to integrate this devastating authenticity and build a life for myself as a spiritual teacher.
PAA: For those who have yet to connect with their HGA, what preparatory steps or practices would you recommend based on your own experience?
Marcus: The stages of the HGA process that I teach, Contact and Coronation, are ultimately just milestone markers in the much more important process of realizing your true will. In the course of realizing your true will, you may be drawn to spiritual practices that awaken these stages, which propel you further along the same path, but the most vitally important thing is that you learn to act and express yourself in the world authentically. Even the smallest authentic action has cosmic significance.
PAA: How has achieving Knowledge and Conversation with your HGA impacted or changed you for the better?
Marcus: The second part of the Knowledge of the Holy Guardian angel is Coronation: acquiring a “head-spirit” that can replace your limited and individual sense of self with the universal sense of your world-self. In this state, you can access the divine bliss of the world-soul without limitation, which inspires intense compassion for other beings and intense appreciation of the beauty of this world. This is the squaring of the circle, the ability to perceive and experience heaven on earth by parting the veil between them. This is something I achieved through my variation of the Akephalos ritual from the Greek Magical Papyri, which I also teach.
The glory of this transformation was so impactful because it taught me that happiness isn’t everything. Even after you have access to unlimited happiness, your life is not complete. Because your individual self is just a minute fraction of the world, and the world is the person we all truly are. Positive and healing engagement in the world is therefore all that matters and your own internal states are only useful insofar as they serve that goal. I do not spend much time blissed out as a result, because I find myself to be far more productive and motivated to help people in a more mundane state of consciousness.
PAA: What further magickal goals were you able to unlock or pursue after connecting with your Holy Guardian Angel?
Marcus: As mentioned previously, I feel no limitation to what external circumstances I can manifest for my enjoyment, but I also realize that those blessings only matter insofar as they serve my continued internal transformation. This wisdom is so subtle and so invaluable: to have the power to remove challenges from your life and consciously choose not to because you have more to gain by learning the lessons of this world as if you had magical power at all.
And ultimately that is our true nature and secret of the Holy Guardian Angel: we are each beings of unlimited magickal power pretending to be limited because of glorious lessons we can learn by make-believing that we are mortal.
PAA: Thank you so much for sharing these personal experiences with us in such a detailed way.
Marcus Mattern has been building the occult community for years with his course on the Sacred Science of Magick, monthly Archangel Sigils, Spiritual Alchemy, and lessons on hermetic philosophy. With the help of the magnificent Raya Thorne, Marcus runs one of the most engaged and supportive groups of practitioners on facebook—with weekly ritual meetings. His ability to explain esoteric concepts in simple, practical terms, and his skill in delivering guided rituals has earned him a dedicated following.