Hi LN Trustees!
So, what do I have to bring to this feast? My direct experience with magic is very scarce. I've dabbled (even that might be too strong a term) in altered states of consciousness (not just drugs) and the odd ritual.
My interests lie more with the academic side of the discourse. I work as a research psychologist (MSc in social communication & psychology), but my BA was in religious history and anthropology. I specialized in mysticism (especially apophatic/via negative/"heretic" strands). I've also an interest in epistemology, philosophy of mind and the like.
Magic is interesting for me both from the individual perspective and the social, historical perspective. On the one hand, I am fascinated by the opportunities that magical practices offer in the way of modifying the body-mind and our shared, sociocultural realities. On the other, the social and political history of magic, mysticism and the occult has always seemed to me "the road not taken" in mainstream accounts of history and culture. I could go on and on.
I do not count myself as an expert or authority on any of the issues I raised above. My aim in participating on LN will be to learn from other's experience and knowledge. I do hope to make some substantive contributions. For what it's worth, I'm undecided on the question of whether spirits, demons, goddesses and elementals are real. As time passes, I find myself less and less worried about finding an answer to that question. I believe that what matters are people's experiences, their stories of these experiences, and the ramifications these have for people's lives. I am aware that some will find this stance somewhat uncomfortable, and think that all I'm interested in is the graphic details of possessions, sightings, results etc. While I do find such details interesting in their own right, what matter most to me is how such are interpreted and handled by those experiencing them.
So, all I can promise is to listen and read intently, be self-critical, respectful and (hopefully) contribute to the best of my ability.
All the best, Christian S