First -introduce yourself and say a little about what you do, you aims and objectives with your writing.
My name is Chris Allaun. I an ordained pagan minister with the Fellowship of the Phoenix as well as a Native American Pipe Carrier. I am also a leader of a Traditional Witchcraft circle in Chicago. My objective has always been to help the spiritual seeker re-connect with the Three Shamanic Worlds. By doing this, we will be able to heal ourselves as well as our world.
Do you call yourself a magician, witch, shaman – if so what does this mean to you?
I call myself all of those things. I’m a magician because I often use ceremonial magick in my spiritual practice. I am also a witch. To me a witch is someone who works with the chthonic powers of the land, the Underworld, as well as the stars. I use many shamanic techniques in my practice as well. Being part Cherokee, I think it’s important to honor the spirits of the land that you reside in. In my case it’s the US.
You’ve written three titles for mandrake – can you say a little about their origins?
My first book ‘Underworld: Shamanism, Myth, and Magick’ is the result of the many workshops I taught on the ancestors and the beloved dead. Originally, ‘Underworld’ and ‘Deeper Into the Underworld’ was written as one book. Mandrake and I decided to split it into two books because it was pretty lengthy in size. I wrote ‘Upperworld’ because it is the sort of book I wished I had when I was learning about the shamanic upperworld as well as the magick of the stars, planets, and gods. I wanted to show that these things were not just for kabbalists or ceremonial magicians. That witches worked with these energies as well, but through a different world view.
Underworld is a very striking title – can you explain the significance of this concept – many might think it’s very glamorous but what is it, does it really exist?
The Underworld is the home of our ancestors as well as ancient chthonic powers. Almost every spiritual philosophy has some version of the Underworld. The Greeks called it Hades, the Egyptians called it the Dwat, The Maya called it Xibalba, and on and on. When one works with any spirituality I don’t think there is “glamour’ in it. I think we should walk upon our spiritual path with the idea of helping others; which includes the spirits. Underworld can more appropriately be called a ‘sub-world’. Meaning it is a place or dimension that lives energetically ‘below’ or ‘around’ our physical plane. The idea of the world being ‘under’ our own is a symbol for the shaman or witch to use when they are journeying to that wonderous world. I know that anything to do with the dead, underworld, death, and ancestors is popular right now. I’m glad I could be one of the first to bring these magical techniques to the public. I’m not one for gate keeping. I think everyone has the right to walk a magical path.
Is the journey in your books for everyone or is it only for the expert or indeed aimed at the beginner?
Each book is written as a stand alone book or can be used in conjunction with each other. I give the beginner techniques to start their magical and shamanic adventure. The techniques in the books build on each other. Once you master one technique you can go on to the next chapter where things become more advanced. Everyone can use the books. It’s better if the student as a basic understanding of energy work, skrying, and spirits. But the fast learner will be able to catch on quickly.
What do you think the elders of the magical world will make of your writing – knowing how sniffy people can be – will they find it deep?
I’ve been active in the pagan community for 20 years. I’m personal friends with many elders in our community. There are many elders I don’t know on a personal level but maintain a dialogue on facebook. That’s one of the great things about the 21st Century. I’ve gotten lots of good feedback about my books. Many have commented on how I have a talent for taking complex magical techniques and distilling them down so that the greater public can understand them. I haven’t really gotten any negative feedback at all. I think they do find it deep. Many elders have congratulated me on delving into certain philosophies and subjects many teachers are hesitant to teach their students.
I suppose some might say you cover a lot of different traditions, everything from spiritualism to basic kabbalah to necromancy. How do these different traditions link together if at all, and is it necessary for the magician to know them all ?
I’m a firm believer in knowledge is power. Also different magical paths can offer something unique or at least a unique perspective of the energies of the Universe. Being a Gemini I have a lust for knowledge. So once I master something I tackle something else. I never stop learning. One could say I’m obsessed with magical knowledge. I think many of these different techniques have advantages. For example, I think it’s important to know how to summon and banish spirits as need be. It is equally important to know how to honor your ancestors. After all, our ancestors are working with us in the spirit world even if we are aware of it or not. Another thing to consider is each magical tradition has its own current of energy. Once you learn to connect with that current of energy you will become more powerful as a magician, shaman, or witch. However the trick is to learn how to control the magick and use it for healing and not for just for self indulgence.
At one point you write about the Native American tradition in a way that some people might find surprising and for some might be controversial. What is your connection to this tradition, is it important to modern magic?
I’m part Cherokee but I was not raised in that tradition. When I became a healer I decided to learn about the Native tradition because it is a part of my bloodline. In 2006 I began my practice with my Apache spiritual teacher Billie Topa Tate. Living in the Midwest of the US, the Lakota tradition is the most accessible as there are many ceremonies offered to people such as sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, vision quests, and sundance. I have been a chanupa (sacred pipe) carrier since 2011. I was taught these beautiful ceremonies by Billie Topa Tate and by Denise Stein here in Chicago. Denise was a spiritual leader in the Sundance community here in the states. I was given permission by Billie to perform chanupa ceremonies as well as other healing ceremonies, My books often talk about Native ceremonies because I feel that many people don’t know much about them. Here in the states, many people don’t give a second thought to the problems the Native people are going through. For example, there are Native women being kidnapped and murdered from the reservations and it’s not even news. The oil pipeline was protested by the native people because of the potential oil spills would contaminate the local water supply. When the pipeline DID spill, again, it wasn’t even news. By sharing the beauty of Native American spirituality, it is my hope that people will become more involved in the problems the Native American community faces. Also, every single thing I share in my books can be found in many books on Lakota and Cherokee spirituality. So I’m not telling in spiritual secrets that the public shouldn’t know. Each of these resources is listed in the bibliography.
That’s a lot of questions – can you try and summarize, in a nutshell, the enduring message of these books?
The message in all of my books can be distilled down to one thing; establish relationships with the spirits of the three worlds in order to heal yourself and the community. By connecting to these sacred beings we are becoming more whole. When we are whole, we seek to heal others. When we are whole, the world will be a better place because of it.
Anything else you want to add?
Each culture I talk about in all of my books I try to give as much respect as I possibly can. There is a lot of false information and rumors, for lack of a better word, about what many pagan cultures are and are not. I try to give a small glimpse into the beauty and magick of each different tradition in the hope that the reader will be inspired to do more research on the spiritual tradition that speaks to them. I was once asked by someone why I don’t write more on the ancestral practices on Vodou and Ifa. Even though I have gone to several ceremonies on these traditions it is not something I feel I can speak intelligently about. The closest I got to these traditions was the re-telling of a myth or two about some of the Vodou and Ifa deities in my book ‘Upperworld: Shamanism and Magick of the Celestial Realm’. I wrote a poem about one of the goddesses to show how I felt about her. I hope she is pleased with what I said about her.