Friday, September 12, 2008

Learning Goetia the Easy Way - Kinetic Meditation

I sold a set of the plaster seals of the nine Kings of the Lemegeton's Goetia last week. The images in this post are scanned wooden blanks that I used to make the Sculpey molds for the plaster casts. I discovered some flaws in my process, but it all worked out in the end. I had to soak the wooden seals in oil to get them not to stick to the Sculpey. The "size" used to make the gold leaf stick to the seal gets rapidly absorbed into the plaster, so the leaf doesn't stick to regular plaster, unless you use all the size, and then you can't make out the engraved seals. I'm trying a polyurethane seal now. As soon as they dry, I'll see if a couple coats of poly seals up the plaster enough for the glue to stay on the surface. (Edit: It worked!)

But that's not the point of the post. Just passing along information I've picked up. The point is this:

I have learned SO MUCH about the personalities of the Kings of the Goetia by engraving their seals. I worked from the online version of the Goetia primarily to get the seals. I like some of Crowley/Mathers more stylized seals, but there's something more authentic, more "down and dirty" to the seals on Joe Peterson's site. They were carved into wood, I think, or were drawn by an unsteady hand. They look "lived in." The seals in the Crowley/Mathers translation are too perfect to be made by the hands of any but the most practiced or naturally talented craftsmen. I'm neither.

But to engrave a seal into wood, you have to know it pretty well. I drew each seal a couple of times, getting the feel of the proportions, learning how it was "supposed" to go. Then I had to scale it to two-inch disks. At first I tried doing it all technical using graph paper and rulers and protractors and compasses like I was some kind of master draftsman. Things kept turning out wrong. They looked straight, and the proportions were technically accurate, but they felt wrong. So I went back to free-hand drawing, and it worked much better.

As I drew the seals, I found myself immersed in each one's details. Little circles that might have marked the beginning or ending of their name on a Kamea, crosses and daggers, hearts, tridents, and classic demon tails with the pointy barbed tips. I saw how the seals were expressions of each spirit, direct revelations of themselves to people. I saw how tracing each seal was itself an act of conjuring the spirit. I understood Nazca Lines, Pictographs, and the development of writing from the moment we took on fleshly form through James Joyce.

(It stopped at James Joyce because, frankly, NO ONE UNDERSTANDS JAMES JOYCE. That was the point of Ulysses, and all the Bloom freaks out there can't prove anything. It was just bullshit.)

But in tracing out the seals by hand, you are joining with the countless aeons of other people who have evoked this spirit, from the crazy drunk blonde in Australia getting revenge on some shiela to the African engineers of ethnic cleansing, to the Popes of France. I mean, you're joining together with bastards and kings from across time to conjure up the spirits of hell to get what you want. You're entering the myth, becoming the myth, and making it real. It's some powerful stuff.

I've come to understand why people think the Lem's Goetic Spirits are manifestations of the human psyche. It's more than "They don't know what the fuck they're talking about." Honest. I can grow spiritual compassion.  Anyone can. If they want.

It's because they do the magic, and they feel parts of their brain warm up when they trace the seals. They feel the shift in the vibration of their spheres that comes when you start drawing out seals. They attribute it wrong, of course, but that's fine.

(Note: "Of Course" almost always denotes SARCASM, or that which should be mocked. And not just when I use it. That's what it "really" means for everyone. Watch tomorrow, and every time someone says "of course," you'll see that whatever they're referencing is completely worthy of endless ridicule. When I use "of course," I do it on purpose. Unlike those dweebs you work with. They don't know what they're doing, they're barely fucking human. Of course.)

When you put that pen or pencil to the page, and move it along the ancient pathways, you immediately get the attention of the spirit you're working with. It checks in on you and sees what's going on. If you seem like you've got something interesting going on, it sticks around and helps you understand its seal a bit more. You feel where the guy recording the Seal was coming from. You get the feeling that you know where he messed up and had to leave it that way because it was close enough and he was out of parchment. You get the feeling you know how to extend something just right.

So how do you know it's "real"? I mean, how can you tell a spirit is influencing you, and it's not "just" your ego thinking it knows better than the grimoires? Do it a lot, and you'll get what I mean. Do it with different seals. Draw them out, and pay attention. Here's what I mean:

Balam. He's got this three-humped B, an arrow, what looks like an IAO permutation, a trident and a spear-thing. Oh, and a pointy pointy tail. The three-humped B has these little squiggles coming of the top and bottom where the humps meet the vertical line. They could be artistic flourish, or they could be the remnants of the starting and stopping points of the spirit's name on a Kamea, or Tablet of some kind like the Great Table of Enochian Magic, or the Tablets of the Planets in Agrippa. You can't tell by looking at it, and it's apparent that the one in the manuscript at Joe's site is drawn freehand. The squiggles are disproportionate. You can't tell if it was on purpose or not. I went with my intuition on this one, and made the squiggles more reflective of one another. It was that feeling I described above.

Vine. The Peterson seal from the manuscript is just ugly. In trying to copy it out, I understood why. If the original dude recording the seal didn't grok the spirit, then he would make the kinds of mistakes that were made. It's got seven "humps," and one in the manuscript is heinous. It has an out-of-center cross coming down, and you can tell it's just not right. There's little circles inside this one part that don't line up with anything. I tried "fixing it" the same way I tried with Balam's seal, and it just didn't work. I stylized it, I made it my own, I tried rulers and measuring so each hump was equidistant, I tried everything I could think of to make it look right, and I still had this empty feeling, like a void where the "Eureka!" should have been.

Then this warm inspiration hit to check the Crowley/Mathers seal. I did, and I saw how it had been presented, and what the "right" way was. I remembered something Belial had shown me about his seal, and it all clicked together. The seal is a picture of a crown, or a helmet, or a mask. As soon as I understood what it was, I was able to sketch out the seal just "right." That feeling of correctness that flooded me left my arm hairs standing up.

See how the techniques were different for different seals, and yet still informed by one another? That has become a hallmark of the spirits in my Work. In my day-to-day existence, I find a way to do something, and I use it from then on. Like in Microsoft's Word, you can do the same thing like a bajillion different ways. Some are faster than others, some are actually logical, sort of. I'm using the techniques I developed in Word when its releases were still numbered. Even if I find a faster, easier way to do something, once I've learned how to do it I usually stick with it. That's how I am in myself.

When I'm being informed by the Spirits, I can feel them offering new ways to do things, and they appeal to me. It's a very subtle thing about myself that I've noticed in my getting to know me, and I can tell when I'm not doing things the way I normally do. That's why it's so important to Know Yourself.

Someone posted on the Solomonic group the other day that they wanted to learn the Goetia. Almost everyone on that list is an author or aspiring author, and they're almost all interested in the Goetia. The archives are fabulous resources of excellent information. I can't recommend enough that people interested in learning Goetia should go out and research other magicians that have worked with these spirits to familiarize yourself with their experiences. From Lisiewski and Konstantinos to Jake Stratton-Kent's pact work to Moloch the Radionics Sorceror. From Poke Runyon to Lon DuQuette. From the liberal chaos magical blogs to the conservative reconstructionist traditionalists of the world. From Chris Warnock to Pat Zalewski. Crowley, Mathers, Agrippa, hell even Levi.

But not Dion Fortune. Not ever her. And don't read the Kyballion. I mean it. If you do, do not ever quote from it. Chances are very, very good that you're misrepresenting it, and it's misrepresented to start with.

Read, read, read, and read between the lines, with one ear cocked and listening to the Voice of your HGA, Genius, or the Holy Ghost of your belief system. Listen from your spirit to the spirits of the authors, not their personalities, but their experiences that lie behind their words. Separate the message from the word the way you have learned to separate the voices of the spirits from the voice of your own mind. Study.

But... A faster way is available. Draw the frickin' seals! Read the description of the spirit. Draw it's seal. Write out its description. Draw its seal. Draw its seal again. Draw it some more. Buy a dremel tool and some wooden blanks from Wal Mart. Make sure you've got a steel cutter tip of some kind, the smallest spherical ones work best for me. Wooden disks are in the craft department. They have squares, circles, triangles, and a ton of selection of just wood stuff for crafters. I bought a boat to paint for fun for a buck too. Pick up some of that. I don't care what it's made of, this is kinetic meditation we're talking here. It's not an actual conjuration and communication with the spirit. It's a tactile communion with it instead.

Anyway, once you've got the sketching of the spirit seal down to an art and science, then sketch it on the wood. Engrave it. Start by tracing over the design lightly with the tip of the tool. Focus on how the tool behaves as you work with the grain of the wood as opposed to how it behaves when you work against it, or worse, if you're trying to engrave a curve diagonal to the grain...

(If a dremel tool is out of your financial budget, get a wood burning tool. It's like $12. Wood's cheap. Scrap works for this. Go without lunch for three days, or dinner. Save $12 and buy a damn tool. It's an investment, you cheap bastard. Some readers of this blog might not even make $12 a month, and that's shitty... but I'll bet you have SOMETHING you can engrave wood with. A knife. A nail. Be creative. Adapt. Or you'll never be a decent magician. Nothing works exactly as described, ever. Get used to it and make do, or give up and go get a job. And a shower and a haircut, you hippy.)

As you focus on the crafting of the seal, you'll find your mind detaches itself from the process, but it remains silent. The process of engraving the Seal draws the attention of the Spirit it represents, and you become aware of its presence. Pay attention to information that comes to you at this point. The spirit is watching you engrave the seal, and talking to you as you make each part. A scene unfolds, or you hear a story about that part of the seal. You understand what each part of the seal represents within the textual description of the spirit. It becomes illustrated in a way that it wasn't before.

Now, when you're ready to conjure the spirit, you know a bit about it. You've Worked with it a bit, and your sphere is being affected, adapting to the new vibrations. It is incorporating the harmonies of this new entity. You're performing a part of the Great Work, adding a crescendo to the overall melodies of existence.

Oh, before you do any of that, you should work with your HGA. I mean, do the same thing. Figure its Genius Name and write it a few times in every magical script you can find a reference to on the internet. Focus on Agrippa Book 3, chapters 29 and 30. As you do, you'll get to know the spirit. Engrave its seal or Name in wood, or metal, or something. Make a talisman. This communion with the HGA is essential to your work with the Goetia, in my opinion. In my Work as a magician, I strive to be the fulcrum between the manifest and unmanifest. As you work with the goetic spirits, your sphere adapts. Keep Working celestial spirits to maintain your position relative to God. Don't lose sight of the big picture and your place in it, or you'll end up in a "wasted burned out nut job" phase of the work, and that's no fun.

(Kittens make terrible blog helpers. In case you were wondering.)