Other than maybe Marvel’s Stan Lee, there is perhaps no other name known from the world of comic books, even to those who don’t read them, as the name Alan Moore. The hugely influential British graphic novelist has become a legend through such well-known works as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, and many, many others, and is also known for his reclusive ways, his wild-eyed, bearded and long-haired mystical persona, his sheer eccentricity, and for being an incorrigible curmudgeon. Oh, and there is also the fact that this comic legend is an occultist and practicing, supposedly very powerful real magician.
The fact that he is a practicing ceremonial wizard is not exactly a secret, as Moore went public with this information right about on his 40th birthday back in 1993, and since then it has become part of his overall persona, with the writer often seen wearing esoteric items and arcane looking jewelry and rings, and he apparently even has his own “magic cave” where he practices spells and does rituals. Moore originally became interested in the magical arts through his writing, and he closely associates the two, saying of his introduction to the world of wizardry and its connection to art:
One word balloon in From Hell completely hijacked my life. A character says something like, ‘The one place gods inarguably exist is in the human mind’. After I wrote that, I realized I’d accidentally made a true statement, and now I’d have to rearrange my entire life around it. The only thing that seemed to really be appropriate was to become a magician. I believe that magic is art, and that art, whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form, is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness … Indeed, to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people’s consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman.
Moore’s main magical beliefs lie in the works of the notorious early 20th century occultist mage Aleister Crowley, as well as the magical system called Kabbalah, or also spelled Qabalah, and he makes no attempt at all to hide his interest in these matters, performing rituals and ceremonies on a regular basis and often talking of these things. He was involved with one notorious ritual he performed while under the influence of psychedelics, in which he tried to summon a demon named “Asmodeus,” and which ended with him chasing David J., bassist for the music group Bauhaus, trying to get blood from him with a pocket knife. Moore has also shown himself to not be above arranging public displays of his power, such as one quite frankly amazing video of him trying to literally explode a lemon with the power of his mind. I’ll let you guess how that goes, but if you want to see it for yourself you can watch it here.
Alan Moore mostly follows the Kabbalah hermetic system of magic that he believes really works, and has committed decades to pursuing it, saying of it, “It’s frightening. You call out the names in this strange incomprehensible language, and you’re looking into the glass and there appears to be this little man talking to you. It just works.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, you know who definitely doesn’t agree with it? Scottish comic book writer, DC champion, and Alan Moore archenemy Grant Morrison, that’s who. In fact, the two have been involved in a sort of very bizarre battle of magic and the occult for years.
The two have had a very public feud going for decades, taking often very vicious and vitriolic barbs and jabs at each other constantly, and it has even influenced their work, but it gets really interesting when it comes down to their beliefs in magic and who would win in a wizard fight, because you see, Morrison is a self-proclaimed sorcerer as well. Considering they both seem to absolutely hate each other’s guts and are both occultists and practicing magicians, it seems only natural that this should also come up in their battles, and it has. The main contention between the two on this point is that Moore is more of a traditionalist, subscribing to the classic occultism of Kabbalistic magic and the teachings of Crowley, more focused on rituals and rules, while Morrison is more into modern New Age techniques and “Chaos Magick,” which is more rebellious, less about rules, and follows the idea that it is the intention that makes magic work and anything can be used to carry it out, constantly reinventing the “rules” as they go along; the punk rocker to the stodgy conservative. This does not impress Moore, and he does not mince words in an interview with Pagan Dawn magazine, in which he says of Morrison and his fancy New Age chaos magic:
I’m afraid I have no interest in Grant Morrison or his work and do not consider him to be either a writer or a magician. With regard to Chaos magic, from a Moon & Serpent point of view it seems that this was simply a more punk-themed English version of the largely Californian ‘New Age’ movement, with both insisting upon simple (and simplistic) magic systems that would bring solely material benefits without any need for dreary scholarship or discipline, the latter styling itself on the worst rainbow-and-unicorn excesses of the 1960s and the former draping itself in the wardrobe of Joey Ramone from only ten years later. With Chaos magic’s recent move from conjuring the gods of HP Lovecraft to ‘magically’ interacting with the Discworld entities of Terry Pratchett, it appears that both this and the New Age movement were perhaps more properly extensions of fantasy fandom, an attempt at astral cosplay, than they were sincere attempts at furthering the cause of magic.
He then presumably does a Mic Drop. The two have argued and shot down each other’s magical beliefs and occult philosophies back and forth for years, even creating occult comics that directly challenge each other’s beliefs, such as Morrison’s The Invisibles and Moore’s series Promethea, and it all seems rather absurd until you realize that they are both apparently very serious about it all. They have challenged each other to see who can perform more powerful spells and supposedly threatened to hex each other, and no matter what you believe about it is all rather entertaining at the very least. For the casual reader here, though, you might be wondering at the end of the day who would actually win in an actual magical battle between the two? Well, according to the legendary DC Comics writer Brian Bendis, when asked in an interview this very question he bluntly stated, “Alan Moore’s mage powers are not to be fucked with!”
It is unclear what exactly has started this decades long feud or how much magic actually plays into it all, as well as how much of this is for real and how much is just these two comics legends being eccentric weirdos. However, it is interesting that in this day and age two grown adult, famous icons of their industry, can be engaged in such a seemingly petty, some may even say ridiculous, battle of magic with each other for all to see. Who will win this bonkers wizard battle once and for all? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.