“Thou seest, O Son, with thine eyes”: Magic, Metaphysics, and the Actionable Expression of Misdirection
16. Thou seest, O Son, with thine eyes; but though thou look never so steadfastly upon me, with the Body, and bodily sight, thou canst not see, nor understand what I am now.
17. Tat. Thou hast driven me, O Father, into no small fury and distraction of mind, for I do not now see my self.
— The Seventh Book of the Corpus Hermeticum: His Secret Sermon in the Mount Of Regeneration, and the Profession of Silence. To His Son Tat.
My friend Ferdinando Buscema was recently featured on Erik Davis’s and Maja D’Aoust’s Expanding Mind podcast (dedicated to exploring “the cultures of consciousness”) to discuss his specialty, Magic Experience Design. It’s always a pleasure to be reminded of Ferdinando’s work, because it has been so integral to opening up my understanding of the true depth of the art of misdirection. What I once assumed was merely a complex set of techniques that could be used to increase manual and mental dexterity has become a gateway to revelation.
The artful evocation of astonishment is one of the ways that Ferdinando defines his practice, but such a simple statement doesn’t reveal, and it might even be said that it misdirects from, the fact that underlying this is a master’s understanding of the subtle clues that go into building an atmosphere in which astonishment is possible. I’ll leave it to you to listen to the Expanding Minds conversation, in which Erik, Maja, and Ferdinando explore this topic in great detail. What most surprised me about it personally wasn’t something in the podcast itself but something I found later while looking for more information on one of Ferdinando’s mentors in the magical arts, Max Maven.