An interview with Leilah Publications`
The evolving Path
Leilah Publications was founded on 13 October 2006 by Joshua Seraphim, who had a focus to bring unconventional vision of art and literature to a new generation. Transcending traditional publishing in the 21st century, with some of the best authors and talent extending creative reach across cultures, blending print media with social media and technology. Leilah extends their creative and visionary arm to social blogs and media, internet radio, theatre troupes & stage performance, self-publishing, and independent art galleries bringing their audience the substance they deserve.
Interview prelude with Joshua Seraphim
Hi Joshua, thank you for taking time out of your schedule, this has been a long awaited interview since we first connected a few years back. Within this time, I’ve interviewed a few of your authors. I’ve had time to do some digging around about you and I have to say that your path has been one of true transformation. Can you give some highlights from beginning to present. Particularly dealing with your studies in Egypt?
Hi Mona! I could not hide any longer, no one hides from Mona Magick!
Joshua, Flattery will get you everywhere with me!
Yes Thank you for this opportunity! I think personally that is what life is about – change. Regeneration, renewal, and growth. There are quite a few influences early on in my path, firstly being raised in a Christian household receiving a good upbringing and education which I am thankful for. Not everyone is so lucky, not a day goes by where I am deeply grateful for my early life and upbringing. Like a lot of young people in my generation I was drawn to mysticism and the esoteric, fascinated with the afterlife and intense dreams I had, along with loss of a loved one during my teens. I became fascinated with eastern religions – with Hinduism and Buddhism eventually seeking out their respective communities.
Eventually, I made contact with a Zen Buddhist community, where I also met two mentors – male and female, named Robert and Erica. Robert instructed me in yoga, and the martial arts privately and we developed a Miyagi – Daniel-san student-teacher relationship. Obviously Robert was “Mr. Miyagi.” He made me read…and read….and read some more, and clean his damn home until we started full on contact kung’fu, and Tai’Chi. Erica was like ….nothing can really describe her! She was the epitome of the wise old Wizard – like the ‘Doctor’ from Doctor Who. She taught me about Yoga, and Tantra, and ceremonial magic.
My interest in ceremonial magic grew to a curious hunger – I wanted to know and experience the secrets of the world’s religious traditions. In Arizona, during college I sought out and contacted a Golden Dawn group co-founded by Dr. Christopher S. Hyatt; a life-long student of Israel Regardie and prolific esoteric author. I journeyed through the outer and inner order Golden Dawn initiations, lucky enough to meet and correspond with Dr. Hyatt on and off for two years.
I did many esoteric rituals – calling upon various deities simply for the experience. Many of these rituals were in the company of fellow occultists and initiates; from the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to Sedona, Arizona, the desert of New Mexico, finally journeying to Egypt where my eyes wide shut were opened, and my soul called home.
The inter-relationships and feuding between various groups, publishing houses, and factions in the Western Esoteric Communities really disenchanted me. I voiced my private frustrations with my mentors, and later on, Dr. Hyatt who only validated my criticisms and concerns. Through acquaintances in college, I decided to go to Egypt and do research – personal and academic.
In Egypt, I met lifelong friends and future business partners. Everything was new – sights, sounds, smells, lifestyle, culture, and peoples’ way of interaction. Still attempting to satisfy my curious hunger for secrets, I explored their ancient temples, and the Great Pyramids in Cairo, Luxor, and Edfu. I was exploring the Pyramids when I first heard the Adhan – the Islamic call to prayer, in the distance…. a haunting invocation calling directly to my soul.
I knew enough about Islam, and had friends in college who were Muslim, and witnessed people from all lifestyles praying in the street and in their stores. Hearing the Adhan changed my life – I had always known there was a Supreme Being, an intelligent design behind the universe, but my meditation and listening in the desert left that curious hunger for deeper knowledge and secrets, at peace.
There are lots of esoteric publishing houses out there and Leilah Publishing seems to promote a worldwide consciousness segmented for the practitioner of the 21st Century – leaving past behind so to speak. I’ll be brave in stating that we live in a tired and overly saturated industry where many rewrite the past over and over again, but can we ever really leave the past alone? What’s your advice on synchronizing teaching of past with today from an authors and practitioners perspective?
Remember when you actually had to go to the bookstore to read esoteric books? We should never leave the past, but learn from it and renew the present with open and honest perspectives about the past – what worked and what did not. Many authors today engage in what I call “social publishing” – authors self-publish and become their own “publishers.” In the age of social media, the Internet, and global communications, artists (meaning writers, painters, musicians) are becoming too concerned with presentation and getting establishing in the genre, or in their “network.”
Have some fun! An artist is an artist, by birthright it is in their DNA to create, entertain an audience sometimes they cannot even see except inside their visionary minds. The occult market today is simply different clicks of artists and their publishing/producer networks competing in a popularity contest. Who is the “in” author and publishing house? Why does it matter? Have fun! Artists and publishers/producers should work outside established boundaries – seek different cultures and ideas, be open-minded. Support other artists instead of just looking to contract them. Ask yourself, where do I want my company, or business, music, writing, or art in years? Will I be doing this in 10 years? I know the visionary artists and myself at Leilah Publications will continue to create within our enterprise and outside of it, in their own unique projects I am always happy to support!
These days in the wonderful world of the Occult, anyone who puts themselves out in the forefront is subject to pure scrutiny. What was once deemed as a community of higher consciousness seems to have mutated into battlefield of extreme competitiveness into the spotlight of whos who. It’s part of the reason I aim for those who the craft, is true to ones heart and way of life rather than just someone who has popped out dozens of books like popcorn. Substance is KING in my book. My question to you inyour works with “Planet SALV” for instance, was it your intent to pose spirituality into a realm seemingly beyond the reach of many thus being beyond public ridicule? Would you say this form of writing provide a means to a broader acceptance leaving those who choose to look into the hidden meaning such as what Lovecraft and the works of Carlos Cassenda? Some would argue that all the above falls under fictitious storytelling but as I beg to argue on that one, I’d like to know your view on how to classify this.
As a nerd who loves sci-fi and grew up with great sci-fi books, television, and movies, I have always been fascinated with technology and extraterrestrial life. Discussing spirituality is easy – I went to college writing on it, presented in academic conferences, and of course practiced esoteric religious traditions. One can easily ridicule and critique spirituality and religion, often with good points. Now include spirituality in the magic of imaginative fiction – like Harry Potter, then the “magic” and grace of spirituality is renewed.
Seeing spirituality and religion represented in science fiction always fascinated me – different situations in the Star Trek TV and film series, the “Force” mythology in Star Wars (based on interpretations of Zen Buddhism and Taoism according to creator George Lucas), and of course Doctor Who. The cult film “Fantastic Planet” left quite an impression on me, along with Rene Laloux and Ralph Bakshi’s other animated sci-fi films. So let’s ask ourselves – why are we spiritual? If aliens do exist, and travel the universe, what would their spirituality look like?
In Planet Salv – I wanted to highlight the dangers of paranoia about technology and mysticism, especially Islam. Fear is often what we do not understand, which is where the roots of Islamophobia come from – misunderstanding. Like “Harry Potter,” “Planet Salv” makes mysticism and spirituality fun again – and magical but realistic. There are actually Harry Potter Quidditch teams on college campuses now! I have no doubt in the centuries ahead, humankind will find a species like the Salvs.
One can say that the beginnings of Leilah Publishing of 2006 in comparison to others out there isn’t very long at all, but what I feel people fail to reaslise is the additional quality and time that you put into each publication and artist that you work with makes up for the short time that you’ve been on the scene. As curator of Leilah Publishing you’ve made a strong stance of keeping relevant to the 21st Century. Whereas many of the larger publishing houses (I think the audience will know which ones I’m speaking of) focus on revenue and minimum risk to work outside of the mainstreams of society accepts/believes. How do you see the survival of the smaller publishing houses and what do you foresee as the main factors of longevity to how the deeper consciousness and works of the left hand paths will survive the thorny paths of this world?
Leilah Publications adapts to technology; and the increasing transformation of artists and how artists present themselves, while keeping readers in mind who enjoy reading good books. Digital publishing with ebooks cannot be overlooked, and yet readers still want to kick back, put down the smart phone and tablets, and read a good book. I honestly do not see smaller publishing houses surviving unless they adapt to artistry outside publishing, and adapt to technological intrusions into the industry. Granted, smaller enterprises like Leilah Publications can produce and print books, and directly sale them from websites, forgoing technological intrusions and complications.
People have tablets and smart phones, factoring in economy and the budget of readers, publishers need to accommodate the demands of readers. People will spend money for a good quality work. Yet the publisher needs to forgo the traditional 20th century ideas of publishing and production. Authors are becoming their own publishers now, through self-publishing platforms, which I despise, or starting their own enterprises. I cannot take away the value of earning a living, but vanity presses and publishing in analogous networks is stale and is geared towards making quick money in the same networks.
Leilah Publications does not, and will not just “publish” authors who are fed up with self-publishing platforms, or want to vanity-produce works for their own social networks. I work with musicians, painters, photographers, theatre actors/actresses, writers, illustrators who share a vision to reach outside traditional artistic production.
Was your audience aware of a Middle East Comic Con that rivals the famous San Diego Comic Con, or that sci-fi TV and movies are practically currency in South Korea, and Japan? Or that there are Muslim artists in Pakistan, and Tunisia who’s art is absolutely psychedelic, mystic, and displayed in various art galleries? Yet these same artists publish comic books, fiction short stories, and novels about the recent “Arab Spring” revolutions?
If publishing authors with well-written visionary books work for one enterprise – good on them. Yet art and media change, now on a global reaching scale. Authors now do workshops, and presentations, conferences and online webcasting to present their books. As well they should, yet times change, Leilah Publications works with artists whose vision, and works are generations ahead.
Joshua, this is my last question and my shortest! (Smile): Ok…. The scene is set and you walk into a classroom full of students and one raises their hand to ask, “What are the main principles you’ve learned through your own journey and that through Leilah Publications that have allowed you stay on a steady path?” What would be your response?
Family, work hard, and never give up. As’salaam alaykum.
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