David Rankine
Avalonia Author Interviews

The Interview
by Dr.Nina Lazarus
( December 2004 : DR indicates David Rankine, Q indicates question posed by Nina)


Q: I have just read your latest book “Becoming Magick” published by Mandrake of Oxford. What inspired you to write this book?

DR: This was the book I have been meaning to write for many years! I am a great believer in pushing the boundaries and trying out new ideas, and the inspiration came from working through some old ideas and material I had worked on back in the late 80s, which I was placing within the context of more recent magickal work. Before I knew it the book had pretty much taken form!

Q: In the book you mention “Greyfox” as being a magickian that you have done a lot of work with over the years. Can you tell us a bit more about him?

DR: Greyfox is the magickal name of Graham Jebbett, a magickal colleague and friend, who is one of the most dedicated magickians I know and perhaps a little crazy too! You have to be to perform the Bornless as a daily practice for more than fifteen years! He lives out in Somerset, which means we don’t get to see each other all the time, but he still helps me out by testing out new ideas I have and is an excellent person to bounce crazy notions off!

Q: 2004 must have been a busy year for you, as your book with Stephen Skinner “The Practical Angel Magic of Dr. John Dee’s Enochian Tables” has also just been published by Golden Hoard Press. How did you meet Stephen and what is it like to work with him?

DR: I was introduced to Stephen through a mutual friend. It is fantastic working with him, as we have very similar ideas about magick, and I am learning a lot from the experience. His book “Techniques of High Magic” (with Francis King) was the first practical book I worked through as a teenager, so to work with the author of my initial inspiration is a great experience, as his breadth of knowledge and experience is phenomenal!

Q: Do you enjoy giving lectures at Pagan Conferences? You are known to speak on a wide range of subjects, which is your favourite and why?

DR: I do enjoy giving lectures very much, particularly when there is an opportunity for questions at the end, as it is always worthwhile to see what sort of interest and ideas my talks produce. My favourite subject to lecture on – that is a tricky one! Possibly Qabalah, as I feel this is a subject that is best appreciated through experience, and books often fail to convey the vital essence of Qabalah, its beauty and simplicity as a practical system. In lectures and workshops this can be expressed more clearly and it is a great feeling to see people put pieces together and understand a concept or technique they might have been struggling with.

Q: I remember reading somewhere that you have been writing for a long time, and of course you have just published your fourth book with several forthcoming in 2005. What was the first thing you wrote which got published?

DR: I think the first thing I wrote that got published was a piece on the 32nd path in a pagan magazine called Evohe! that was produced in Oxford back in 1987. I went on to co-edit the magazine shortly afterwards, so I assume it went down well!

Q: In “Becoming Magick” you present a new system of English Gematria, which you call Prime Qabalah (or PQ for short), gematria is one of those subjects which make most Witches cringe at the thought of mathematics. What do you enjoy about it ?

DR : I love the simplicity and universality of numbers. I use gematria as a way of prompting the intuition to make connections and spark off inspiration. If I don’t make a connection within about 15 seconds I leave it rather than sit and spend hours trying to force it.

Q: How did you first become involved in Magick?

DR: The condensed version is probably easiest! As a child I was fascinated with mythology, and read voraciously on world mythologies. When I was 10 I discovered the “Tao Teh King”, which is still my favourite book, and this inspired me to start looking at other books. Then at 14 I bought a selection of books on magick, read them, started practising the techniques in them and decided that was what I would dedicate my life to.

Q: Wicca is often described as “fluffy” by magickians and occultists, yet you seem to enjoy the best of both worlds. What, for you, is the best thing about Wicca?

DR: For me the best thing about Wicca is that it has a pared down and effective ritual structure that still gives plenty of scope for intense magickal and mystical experiences, and also allows participants the ability to develop their personal relationship with deity. Of course the material presented in the Book of Shadows is a bare skeleton, which is filled out by different covens and traditions according to their preferences, but the core is the elegant simplicity given by Gardner, and then added to by his followers and Alex Sanders.

That is what I did in Progressive Wicca and also in the Starstone Network with Sorita d’Este – added a flavour which worked for us – in my case one heavily influenced by my ritual magic training and lineage.

Q: You have given talks and lead workshops on working with the Irish Goddess The Morrigan, a Goddess who is often associated with sex and battle. Any plans to write a book on this interesting Goddess?

DR: Yes, a book on the Morrigan is in the pipeline. I have started working on one with Sorita, but we have a number of other projects and commitments to finish first before we can get the Morrigan book complete.

Q: Who inspired you the most on your magickal path?

DR: This is a really difficult question to answer, and really needs a list with categories for periods in history! I have been inspired greatly by people whose work I feel is magickal even if not defined as belonging specifically to the genre, like the anthropologist Mircea Eliade, Wilhelm Riech, and the consciousness pioneer Stanislav Grof. To pick out one magician would be extremely difficult and probably be unfair as I have been inspired by quite a few of them!