Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Magician Transition

Jow's comment on yesterday's post got me thinking about the difference between a magician and a magician-to-be. There is no doubt that we go through a transition between being a socially awkward misfit who doesn't understand the point of "society" (or maybe understands it too well) to a grimoire-following, spirit conjuring participant in the manifestation of reality.

Then again, as we learn the language and symbols of magic, we gain a context that explains many of our experiences in our youth. One of the first things the Holy Guardian Angel (HGA) does is take you on a review of your life, demonstrating its influence at every twist and turn, showing you all the times it protected and empowered you, leading you to the point where you established communion with him (or her, but not "it"). The magician truly is born as such into the world, as the Arbatel teaches.

But there's a transition between ignorant participant and mostly aware magician. Looking at my own experience and that which my friends have shared, I think we tend to go through a period of gaining knowledge, gaining expeience, and gaining training to understand the revelation that comes when we experience something like Knowledge and Conversation with the HGA (KCHGA). We're drawn into the occult by a fascination, an irresistible calling in our youth. We spend a lot of time reading, pursuing, testing, and moving on through different occult systems of varying popularity. As we do, astrological forces and initiatory ordeals manifest in our lives, preparing us, guiding us towards a vision of transcendence, a moment where the universe is stripped away and we can see all the pieces and parts of Truth scattered and hidden throughout the systems we've studied snap together to give us a glimpse of how everything works.

I've tried to shorten this period, because it seems like what a lot of us are doing is reverse engineering the basic underlying neo-platonic cosmology. We start with GD interpretations, and work our way back through the source materials until we're immersed in the third century AD, and there discover the foundational bedrock of the Hermetic system. I wrote the Neo-Platonics Basics series as a shortcut to the truth, as I understood it. At the same time, to facilitate the applied heat that transmutes the knowledge into wisdom, I had people start Working with their HGA, Genius, or Solar Intelligence.

I don't think I have succeeded. I think, ultimately, no one can hasten the intiation of another. The best we can hope for is that the pieces of truth we present have missing pieces that will contribute to their revelation of their place in the universal hierarchy, when the time comes. Still, I hope to provide as much philosophical gold as I can. I should probably adjust the signal to noise ratio of my blog.

I've argued before that the Spirit Model is the One True Model(TM), and put together that post that details my current understanding of what that means. I have tried GD-style magic, Crowleyan stuff, Chaos Magic, and a whole slew of Eastern and Near-Eastern practices I picked up on from my dad's career as a Reflexologist. I've done chakra meditations and activations, I've used "psychic warfare" techniques to build shields and make daggers out of mental "energy." I've done Celtic, Druidic, and American-Neo-Pagan too. I fully embraced Chaos Magick, with a "k" and everything for a couple of years.

I got better.

But everything I did in my life leading up to my conversion experience and subsequent KCHGA is completely annihilated by the simple power, or force I see manifesting things in my life. No other approach even begins to touch the raw power I find in the Intelligences and Spirits of the Planets and their terrestrial counterparts. They're immense! They're powerful. They're pleased to work with mankind.

The transition to becoming a magician is definitely there, and I don't think we qualify as full-on Heroes as magicians until we've at least hit that moment of transcendental understanding of the Mechanics of the Universe. I always hated that description, it makes it sound like an engine or motor. It's mechanical, yeah, but in the same way a symphony is. The beings that are the "Mechanics" are more like musicians and master instrument crafsmen.

When you reach that point, you get a glimpse of your own relatonship to the whole. You see your divine nature, you understand that you are literally a "Child of God," that Christ (LOGOS) is your Brother, and that your extended family includes every Name of God he's ever used to get a point across to his kids. When you see that you are of the divine race, you see the source of your power as a magician. You understand it. Then you begin learning how to do Magic, and you learn the value of what you do. You see the results of your Work in the universe from an eternal perspective, and you know the impact you have on other people, and the world around you.

At that point, when you've reclaimed your divine race and reached an understanding of the value you add to the world by being what you are, you begin the Great Work. Everything else is just preparation for the Work. When you hit this point, you finally begin achieving your potential, by taking your wisdom, experience, and knowledge and creating the universe according to the principles you've discovered.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Power to be a Magician

Magicians are a rare breed. I personally think they're the equivalent of Iamblichus' "Hero" classification of entities. That makes us like Hercules, half immortal and half mortal.

I base this on the Corpus Hermeticum's Divine Pymander, where it talks about the reason Man became flesh, and the nature of Man. Iamblichus would have been familiar, I suspect, of this basic Hermetic belief, writing as he did in Egypt in the neoplatonic period. Man is the Image of the First Father, and is an immortal on par with the Logos in the original hierarchy. Man wanders down through the spheres, pokes his head into Nature, sees a reflection of himself and falls in love. Next thing you know, Nature's created an image of the reflection, because She's in Love with Man's image too. Both can be excused for their infatuation when it is understood that Man was the Image of the First Father. Man cohabits the image made by Nature, and voila, Humankind is created, immortal by being of divine race, mortal in form, and all for the sake of love.

Isn't it romantic?

So we're Heroes. Now obviously, we aren't going around with the strength of the Gods, going on fateful quests, and creating a new cycle of myths for the next generation to evaluate and draw insight from, are we?

Well, honestly, we are. Magicians have the strength of the Gods. We are the image of God, and are aware of "their" divine race. We accomplish creation in an ongoing process that follows God's path of manifestation, through Word and spirits, to accomplish the manifestation of our thoughts.

We go on fateful quests. We work with certain spirits, and the next thing you know you're surrounded by opportunities to implement the experience you've gained. The fates align our reality to accomplish specific goals.

And the new cycle of myths? How many people have poured over Crowley's life, gaining insight and inspiration? Dione Fortune, Mathers, Westcott, Regardie, and the more obscure members of the GD left diaries and records of their Works that have provided our generation of magicians with wisdom and clues to finding our own paths of gnosis. We are currently Working in a time that will become poured over by the next generation of magicians. This Traditional Magic revival we're going through is going to be a page in occult history that feeds the next big movement in thirty years.

Not everyone who happens to be human is a magician. I've had people ask me whether talent or skill is more important, and I've answered both ways and neither in the past. Right now I think everyone can develop the talent, but not everyone is destined to do so. Skill comes with experience, experience comes from being called to the occult, which means you have to have the talent to hear and respond, so it's all pretty incestuous. I think I can get away with saying usually the talent is present before the skills are developed, but both talent and skill increase with practice. They are interdependent on one another.

The Power of a Magician comes from their relationship with the First Father. Being made in his image, we can do "magic" the same way he can. Our thoughts become reality. We can create. We converse with the Angels and Daimons and other Heroes, and we work together to make things happen. It is from our divine nature that the power to be a magician flows.

Arrrrrgggghhhh! Abdul Alhazred, curse your final Work...

Hokey shit time.

Ok, so I get started on this one super cool writing project, and I am approximately 70% complete. So in the middle of some dryish research, Jason says, "I want to read a book on Astral Warfare..."

And I'm working on the Lunar Intelligence and Spirit, right? I'm like totally in the right place to begin an Astral Warrfare book. So Ok, I'm sitting here researching my Astral Warfare book using time-tested traditional resources (think: H.P. Lovecraft), and what do I find in The Whispers in Darkness? The Magical Nom de Plum of the fuse on this time bomb, Jason Miller. "I was into Enochian," he said, "when I was given the Name Inominandum..."

And so it is, of course, that I am off to the DuQuette Enochian Vision Magick book with my pendulum and SDA in hand, searching for the next step in this strange masquerade...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A couple of Assholes, from France of all Places

So a friend of mine writes this book and publishes it on Lulu. It's new age, it's about astral warfare, and its not really my approach to spirituality in general. Regardless, it was her work, her effort, and her words. She published and marketed it completely by her self.

So these French guys translated it and are selling it in France now. When she found out, she promptly contacted them. Their response?

You react as a child, you treat me as thief it is incredible.
Our brother Tau Zorobabel did a BIG job by translating your book into French.
Did you think of all poor persons who does not speak Englishman ???
Your book put in Frenchman one a Honourable thing for you and for other persons who need to be helped.

If your book is in Frenchman, it is because DIVINE PROVIDENCE allowed it.

Fr :. Luxaour

Nice, eh? Apparently God's Divine Providence sanctions theft. Wonder how well that will stand up in court.

So if you're in France and you know these guys, punch them in the face on behalf of the author they have stolen from. Fraters Tau Zorobabel and :. Luxaor are thieves. Don't buy anything they sell, and if you move in their magical circles, let their actions be trumpeted from the roof tops.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why I'd make a lousy cult leader

A friend asked me today why I don't just try to form a cult to get rich and never have to work again.

I've belonged to various cults, Christian and Hippy alike, and they're pretty lame, for one thing. For another, being a cult leader takes a lot of work. Their lives suck. Lawsuits from families, your followers get abducted and deprogrammed, and the day to day administration of a cult is a wearying task. The trouble with people giving their lives over to you is that you have to make all their decisions for them, and they always find some problem in their daily drama that isn't covered by the freakin' commandments you lay down as guidelines. Eventually you set up a buffer zone of followers who are "in" the inner circle, and you've got a couple of years of decent relaxation while they handle shit for you, but then one of them takes the cult over.

Fuck that.

Besides, what kind of magical cult could I really found?  The Magic I'm into teaches people to think for themselves. Or at least to think like me, and I'm done with cults. Once people made it past the Grammar stage, they'd be like... I'm keeping my shit for me. Fuck off.

So yeah, I'd totally make a lousy cult leader.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grimoire Magic and the Trivium

Did you ever stop to think about why we call them "grimoires?" I'm pretty sure I blogged about this before, but it's been a while and my blog followers have grown. I'm perceiving a lack of awareness in several grimoire magic blogs I've perused today* of the reason they're called "grimoires," so for the benefit of new followers, the Grimoire tradition everywhere, and in case I haven't really covered it in full before, I'm going to address Grimoire Magic and the Trivium.

For an accurate understanding, I suggest reading the Wikipedia entries on Paedia, the Trivium, and for a good overview of how it all works in modern recreations of the educational practice, this article from the Well Trained Mind web site.

In Medieval times, education was afforded to the elite, and was modeled on the educational system developed in Ancient Greece. The Trivium is the first thing you would learn, consisting of Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic. The Trivium was designed to teach a person how to learn. From there you would move on to learning the Quadrivium, which consisted of Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, and Music. The trivium and the quadrivium combined to form the seven Liberal Arts.

The three parts of the Trivium, logic, grammar, and rhetoric were three stages of progression. Logic taught one the mechanics of thought, the way to deduce truth. Grammar taught the way the truth was expressed, the symbols used (letters, and words), and the rules that govern how the symbols interact to create clear communication of the truths deduced in logic. Rhetoric taught how to use logic and grammar to communicate well. 

The word Grimoire is from the French and means "grammar." Since most of the grimoires were compiled in the Renaissance when the classical education model of the trivium and quadrivium were being taught, I believe it's a fairly logical leap to assume that the Grimoires were called such as a direct nod to this system of education.

Understanding the flow of thought to symbol to the art of expression, we can see the role of the magical grimoires in the development of a magician. They do not teach logic, but by inference we can deduce that the thought, the truth being codified into the symbols of the grimoires was the basic neo-platonic, Hermetic approach to the emanation of the universe. We see gods, angels, and demons discussed. These hearken back to Iamblichus' four orders of entities, the gods, angels, demons, and heroes. Personally, I see the magician as the hero class of being, aware of his divine race, standing manifest as both mortal and immortal, the point of contact between that which is above and that which is below.

The grimoires do not teach the rhetoric of magical practice either. They are not handbooks of high art, they are basic lists of the pieces and parts, and the rules governing the symbols of the magician. They do not teach advanced magic, they simply teach an introduction to the system. A student who has completed the grammar stage of education will be able to construct sentences that express their thoughts clearly enough, but they will not necessarily have the skills required to write a strong argument that pursuades the reader to their particular point of view. Graduates of grammar education can write papers, but they are of the quality of middle school children.

It would be etymologically correct to say the magic of the grimoires is "trivial," and I think that's really funny.

Ok, enough with the boring bits. I see a couple of things that are interesting. The Lemegeton's Goetia, a very popular "grammar," has many spirits that teach the Quadrivium. More proof that they are part of the trivium, perhaps? It's a logical assumption;. There are spirits that teach rhetoric as well, so I'm thinking they are the ones that teach the nuances of performing magic well, as opposed to simply "right."

And I think this understanding of the role of Grimoires pretty much blows away the idea that you have to follow the grimoires completely to the "T" forever. I think it's still important to do your best to follow the steps of the grimoires the first time you contact the spirits, and you definitely should avoid trying to add bits and pieces from other systems. LBRPs and Middle Pillars have no place in Grimoire magic, in my humble opinion.

But once you've learned what the symbols represent and the rules that govern them, it's time to start honing your skills and doing magic well. In rhetoric, it is fairly common to break the rules you learn in grammar. You do it on purpose, to compel or pursuade, and you learn to do it with style. But you still have to have mastered the rules before you start breaking them. Beat poets can get away with bad grammar and no education, but a lot of beat poetry sucks and is ineffective at getting the point across. Granted, there are masters, virtuosos, savants born with skill sets extrardinaire from the womb, but odds are pretty good we're not among them. If you cnjured demons to visible appearance when you were four, ok, you don't have to follow the rules and learn to do it right.

Otherwise, learn the system. Follow the rules. See how the pieces and parts fit together to express the logic of the system. Then start improvising. Otherwise your Art is shit.

* I read a really good blog by a guy named Nestor, and a bunch of posts by someone who seems to have read the Lemegeton's Goetia once or twice, and is 19. Sigh. And a couple others that some friends linked to.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Book Review: When a Tree Falls

For the first time in a decade, I managed to read an entire book of fiction without getting disgusted, distracted, or distraught. When a Tree Falls, by Nick Farrell, is a good read. It's fiction, it's funny, but it's also got depth to it that folks of an esoteric emanationist bent will appreciate. It's definitely the best fiction I've read in a long time.

All in all, great book! Worth the purchase price and then some. I was particularly drawn in at the end, eagerly anticipating what happened next, waiting to see how it all unfolded. I figured out part of the plot early on (there are only, after all, 14 stories in all the universe), but I still found myself excited about the denouement, and it turned out to be interesting and crafty.

And I totally loved the thing about the final transition. The characters of the deities, Angels, and Monad his own self were completely resonant with what I've experienced as a magician.  At least the bits I've met. So far. It's a fun read, and you can tell it's based on very real spiritual experiences, and they match up a lot with my own (even though he's GD'd his way through the spheres). Jeff and the Angels, particularly.

I totally recommend it to my friends' summer reading list.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Magic Just for Fun

It's funny, I get into the habit of doing magic only when I need something, or only when I want to learn something. I mean, I think we all do, right?

But what about just hanging out with the spirits? When I first started doing magic, I thought they were cool, and I liked the stuff I learned and received, but it was the thrill of being in the room with the spirits that drove me.

Over time, I guess I just got used to it. So I sort of did the rising through the spheres thing, and burned the occasional candle near Bune's sigil, or conjured some Goetic spirits to address certain parts of my life...

But they're there for more. You know? We're friends with the spirits. That's why they do what we want, in part. They love us. Love is important. Friends are important. Establishing relationships with the spirits is important.

Maybe it's because I don't have a big social life, but I never really realized that people like to hang out together. It may be shocking, but I really don't particularly like people much. They tend to do stupid things. I'm not saying I don't do stupid things, but that's just it. I don't want to hang out with people as prone to stupidity as I am, and on the whole, most folks I've met in life are pretty darned prone to being stupid.

But the spirits! They're cool just to hang out with. And you can't help but be raised to their level, or at least closer to it, just by hanging out with them. The Greeks had it right, they'd totally hang out with the spirits, share a beer or jug of wine with them, and just talk. They Worked with them too, of course, how can you not, but they enjoyed their time with the spirits.

So with that in ind, me and my handy dandy Box are spending more time hanging out with the spirits. I'm putting the seals I have in metal of the spirits I need to work with the most across the electrodes and letting the battery run down while the light projects through the sphere. I'm conjuring them and just hanging out, not doing anything but talking with them, enjoying their company, and hopefully giving them a chance to enjoy mine. Maybe it's like Jason's offering technique, I dunno, but it's been a lot of fun. There's no urgency, so there's more time to just hang out and discuss things. there are no distractions, because it's something I can do while I'm falling asleep. I suppose it's a lot like meditation or rising through the spheres, but it's more of an approach without any agenda. Old friends getting together.

Friday, June 12, 2009

From a Friend's Status Message in IMs...

Crowley sez:

"Since I am Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof, do ye also thus. Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt." --AL I:22
"This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all." --AL I:30
"There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse." --AL I:41

This totally goes against everything I'm into lately. I mean, I went through all the "It's all One Thing, Man" phase early on, but I'm more into the re-coagulation phase now. I'm aware more than ever in my path of the differentiators between separate things.

At the same time, I am differentiating without applying soft labels, like "good" and "bad," "better" or "worse." I think what's happened is this: I've dissolved the matter, purified it, recoagulated it, and now am ready to use it. At least in certain aspects of my life.

I find myself intimately aware of the differences between things. I'm classifying and categorizing things by their zodiacal, planetary, or elemental affinities. I'm noting the differences in the vibrations or harmonies of things, concepts, words, and I'm able to understand how things have developed into what they currently are. I can see "areas of premanifestation" that things or situations can be returned to, additions to particular chains of manifestation that can be made that will change how things manifest in the material realm.

It's like a soup. Fundamentally, soups are all pretty much the same, flavored liquid differentiated by taste and methods of preparation and presentation. Yet you can start with the same core ingredients and wind up with very different manifestations depending on what different things you add at different times in the preparation. Changing the ingredients during the cooking process is all that changes a Cream of Tomato soup into Gazpacho, or a Clam Chowder into Alfredo sauce. Which isn't even soup!

So anyway, I think the reason I'm focusing on the differentiation of manifest things (without passing judgment) lately is because I spent a long time Working my way up through the Spheres towards the Unmanifest, and I've returned in my life with certain knowledge and understanding that I'm putting into practice. To craft a particular manifestation takes an awareness of the reason things manifest differently. You have to understand the correspondences of things like the plants you're blending into an incense or "fluid condenser" to get the right "fluid." Thinking in terms of "all plants are manifestations of One Plant, so I can use Lemon Grass instead of Cayenne Pepper" is useless. Cayenne pepper is cayenne pepper on purpose. Lemon Grass is Lemon Grass for a reason.

Crowley's statements above are necessary information to understand and assimilate when you're rising through the planes, in the Solve stage of the Work. We are all One thing, it's true. But the final statement from my friend's status message is what the Work of the Magician is all about, imho. Love is the glue that you use to bind together the diverse elements of your ritual, your tinctures, your talismans, or your spell craft. All else is a curse indeed.

Is it as boring as it looks?

Seriously, was the post about the RO Spirit Model as boring to read for you as it was for me? I figured it would be useful to lay it all out, but on rereading it, it was like... uh... dry.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The R.O. "Spirit Model"

Recent posts on Strategic Sorcery and Augoeides have had me thinking about my "Spirit Model." This post pretty much lays out how everything works, based on my experiences in performing the Great Work so far. Without further ado, I present:

The Rufus Opus Spirit Model

Magicians are here to perform magic. The process of training and initiation that goes on across the lifecycle of the magician is a system that progressively reveals aspects of their relationship with the world(s) around us. Early in our path we have little understanding of what we really are and how we fit into the grand scheme of things, but as we progress, we achieve levels of mastery of skills designed to enable us to perform our function within an ovearching hierarchy of manifestation.

Manifestation is a process of condensation. From the Mind of God comes forth an Idea, and the Idea is Spoken, given symbolic life by the Logos. The thought-become-word then begins a journey down towards the material realm that will add layers of form to it that harmonize with similar thoughts-become-words. It descends through the Realm of Silence, through the Sphere of the Zodiack, down through the Seven heavens and into the elemental spheres, gathering to itself those aspects of each that are harmonious to its essence, the original Idea. It becomes more specialized until it is the part or parts within our physical lives that are essential to the particulars of our existence.

Just as God is conscious, so too are all the levels of manifestation . As thoughts become matter by specializing, so too did the spheres of the heavens and elements coalesce into vast numbers of individully aware spirits of the realms, arranged in hierarchy from the closest to the original Idea to the furthest, separated by layers of density. Each of these spirits were mirrored in the material realm below.

Man is an After-Thought. That is, after the Mind of God created the realms by speaking them into being through the Logos, He created a separate being called "Man." (Mankind, Humanity, Human... Hu-persons? Tell me if I'm getting politically warmer or colder here...)

Man was different than the rest of creation (manifest thoughts of the Mind of God). Man was made "in the image" of God, the original Mind. We knew God intimately, and we were friends and companions of our Father. We learned of all the layers of manifestation, and were friends with the intelligences and beings of those realms. They loved us because we were the image of God. We entered the Microcosm, what with one thing or another, on purpose and out of Love. In this realm, we can continue our friendships with God the Father, the Logos, and the Spirits of God, but the things of this world are distracting. We are always happier, satiated when we are fulfilling our purpose.

Man gets distracted by the things of this world and forgets its role in things. The Great Work is the process of reclaiming our knowledge of who we are and why we're here, and consciously doing what we're here to do. It isn't the Great Easy.

Fortunately, we have help. The Spirits that loved us Above stil love us Below, and they are eager and willing to help us in performing our duties. They teach, they initiate, they empower, and they work in harmony with Man. Ritual is the process of communing with these spirits. Implementation of their teaching in the making of talismans and other manifestations of the results of your empowerment are rituals of a sort, but tend to be more kinetic than ritual conversations, training, and empowerments from the spirits. Implementation tends to take place on the physical realm, while the training and initiation take place in the heavens. Ritual and implementation are both "magic." One is not more magical or in any way "better" than the other. They are like Ob and Od, the two serpents on Mercury's Caduceus, of equal dignity, and combined together to symbolise Mastery of Hermetic Arts.

All magical acts involve interacting in some way with another manifestation of a Thought from the Mind of God. It may have more or less layers of manifestation around it, but it is one part of a chain of manifestation that includes intelligences that operate consciously at some level of the Heavens. Everything has a spirit that can be contacted and Worked with as a magician. Working with the spiritual intelligence of a manifestation creates a harmony betwen you and it, which empowers you to manifest similar things in your sphere of influence. Being made in the image of God, you and I can manifest our thoughts by speaking them into being, creating layers of form around the idea until it becomes a material thing. Reaching the full potential in the areas we are most drawn to requires initiation and training by the spirit(s) of the manifestation.

Of the available systems of magic, the system that best utilizes the above outlined structure of the universe is the "Spriit Model." The tools and techniques that maximize your potential as a magician are found in the grimoires.

The trap of the grimoire is stagnation. Each focuses on a class of spirit, or a set of spirits. The gift of the grimoire is infinite potential relationships. If a magician sees the entities of one grimoire and believes that list to be all the spirits that are, they are limiting themselves and the grimoire becomes a trap. If they use the spirits listed to learn about other spirits, the grimoire becomes a gift, sort of a gateway to the denizens of the heavens and earth. As you Work with daimons, for instance, you will learn their role in the hierarchy of spirits, and can meet entities of higher and lower planes. These may be heroes, angels, or gods. ("Gods" for the sake of sticking to the terms of Iamblichus. To me, the "gods" are manifestations of the monad God, Divine Intelligences that are tasked with representing one aspect of a Thought of God.)

The grimoire I've found to produce the greatest results has been Trithemius' Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. It's a fairly generic method of contacting any spirit, it works within the Hermetic cosmology laid out above, and it's fairly easy to put together a working facsimile with limited funds or time.

The sources that best provide infomation on the cosmology laid out above tend to be written prior to 1700 A.D. After that, people got screwy. Or their screwiness started manifesting in weird ways. The Aeon of the Crowned Child resulted in a lot of immature people getting treated like Kings and gurus, and the modern occulture is littered with systems that misuse symbol sets, misappropriate vocabularies from other systems, and are consequently much less powerful or useful to the magician in achieving their reason for being.

And true fulfillment can only come when you are achieving that reason for being.

Super Secret Occult Book: Heaven and Hell

So the book I was published in is currently available to the public. The title is Heaven and Hell, and is a collection of Thelemic works, primarily. It's a general blend of writings by people of various grades of initiation. They can't TELL ME their degrees, the ones I'm most interested in knowing, but apparently I rank in by their degree system right where I'd consider myself.

Anyway, the blurb says:

A collection containing four issues of Heaven and Hell, along with additional material. Articles contain a wide variety of material from various authors of interest to magicians, occultists, mystics, Thelemites, Gnostics, and spiritual seekers.

I've read it, and while it's not even close to being a traditional grimoire/spirit model-based approach, I can say it's totally written by magicians doing magic. The editor has this thing about expecting magicians to do magic, so he didn't include any writings by people who think and study more than they do. I expect the Fras. and Sors. authoring the work to go on to greatness, and I'm privileged to be among them.

Speaking of being among them, this is the first book ever published to have my name on the cover. It's totally a collectible.

As I said the other day, this is the most occult book I've ever seen. The book itself is a work of experimental publishing, and I'm interested in seeing how the editor's choices in non-traditional layout and structure play out in the spheres of the owners.

I think its primary value is in the fact that it's written by practicing magicians. It's a collection of the thoughts and beliefs of those who are experiencing the results of pursuing their magical paths, their "True Wills."

Buy it, read it, enjoy it.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Published: Secret Occult Printing

I've been published in a secret occult collection of essays that may be publicly available soon. It's not the kind of place one would expect to find my work published, but it's totally cool. I'm even on the cover. I saw a proof of the book today, and it's got to be the most occultish book I've ever seen. I'm shocked that I made it in.

Never panic.

There is always someone who can help.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Gospel and the Zodiac

I just enjoyed a lecture given by Mnsgnr. Scott Rassbach on the Gospel and the Zodiac. He's cool.

Recent Talismans

I took advantage of the Alkaid election posted recently by Chris Warnock of Renaissance Astrology, and made myself a primitive silver talisman. The image of a melancholy man is beyond my capabilities, so I stuck with the image of a Bull.

It's not particularly beautiful, but I like it a lot. You can see, sort of, the image of Ursus Major engraved between the bull's horns. I spent the afternoon preparing the talisman for the engraving, and that was my usual fun time of heating and beating the silver until it was large enough to give me the room I needed to engrave the horns and the rest of the bull freehand. I practiced a lot with different images of a bull on paper before deciding on the final image.

I conjured the spirit of Alkaid to consecrate the talisman, and it was a very smooth spirit to work with. I felt a coolness, a very comfortable coolness of spirit. It's not like other silver talismans I've made, and I like it a lot. I plan on using it with the Box to interview the Intelligence of Alkaid.

I also made a Moon Talisman of Gabriel relatively recently. I did it during the Mercury Retrograde, but I haven't felt any ill effects from it. On the contrary, this is my favorite Gabriel Talisman I've ever made.I was going to use the image from Considerations for Monday from the Heptameron, but I checked the comparison link from the Golancz folio, 35a in Joe Peterson's comments and I liked it better. It felt right, and even though I was a little concerned about trying to engrave the two 6 images, I decided to take a chance. In the Hour of the Moon on a Monday, I engraved it free hand, and it went so smoothly I was shocked. In trying to engrave the image from the Magical Calendar, I ran into a lot more difficulty.

One thing I've noticed about this talisman is a complete lack of tarnish. The Alkaid talisman is a week or so younger, but it is already beginning to darken, as silver talismans do. They don't turn black over night or anything, but they are shiny bright when first beaten out and polished with a dremel tool attachment, and then sort of ... get darker. They lose their shiny newness.The Gabriel talisman almost glows in the dark. I used the same dremel, and I believe they're both from the same silver coin that I melted and cleaned out magically a while back. (I have lumps of various planetary metals scattered around my garage.)

I've used this talisman with the Box already, and the presence of Gabriel was tangible in the air. He spoke in a clearer voice than I've heard him use before.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Gate of Heavenly Peace

20 years ago, a goddess of democracy walked through the Gate of Heavenly Peace and took form through the hearts and hands of a group of college students who had gathered to share their grief at the passing of their mentor.

Between April 18th and June 4th, 1989, crowds of over 300,000 people gathered and protested government corruption and the failure of China's Communist Party to fulfill their role as protector and provider for its people.

Out of that protest came hope, and amazing stories of courage. I spent the evening preparing for this memorial post by reviewing the images that came out of the Forbidden City when I was 15. The ubiquitous Tank Man image of the guy waving off the tanks with his coat. The people chanting, going on hunger strikes, standing up for democracy in the birthplace of the Communist Regime. It was a beautiful and terrible series of events that unfolded there.

As I watched the videos on YouTube that encapsulated that fateful day, I was entranced by their carving and sculpting of the statue of the Goddess of Democracy. The symbolism to this magician of their talisman creation was overpowering, awe inspiring. She's a beautiful lady, that goddess. The expression on her face, carved by the dissidents who dared to believe they would not only survive but make an impact for change in their culture is haunting.

On June 4th, 20 years ago today, China had enough and sent in their troops. Hundreds of people were massacred. In footage from that night from BBC, you can hear he shots fired, and see the people dying. 20 years later, China is still a Communist monolith, a stronger World Power than they were back then, and every bit as frightening to those of its people it doesn't approve of as it was in 1989. It's such a paradox. They own so much of America's money that we don't dare demand anything from them. The whole Tibet thing is disgusting, and it's all about water. Yet they hosted the Olympics last year and the world supported them, hoping it would make an impact.

It's a freakishly bizarre situation.

So I'm thinking about the magical properties of the talisman they made. The symbolism of sculpting the goddess in front of the gate of heavenly peace is incredibly potent. And yet, they obviously failed to accomplish their intent. China's no more democratic than it was. Where is the result of their ritual? They inspired people around the world, and brought global attention to their movement, but they're still oppressed and living without freedom.

Are we any different in our American, European, Middle Eastern, Australian, or Indian worlds? I wonder about that a lot.

I usually like to have a decisive conclusion to my posts, but I don't have one for this one. I don't know if their rebellious stance was good or bad. I don't know if a more capitalist Communism is a move towards something better or worse. I can't say that democracy is a better form of government. I don't know that their magical act was successful or a failure.

I can say that what they did is inspiring, and their sacrifice deserves to be remembered. It is noble, if stupid and pointless in the end, to stand up for what is right. It is not profitable. It is not always effective. But it is damned straight.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Magical Projects

"A project is a finite endeavor (having specific start and completion dates) undertaken to create a unique product or service which brings about beneficial change or added value." - from Wikipedia's Project Management entry.

As you may know, I'm a priest in the cult of Project Management (PM). It's supposed to be a business methodology for accomplishing projects successfully and efficiently. Wikipedia says it's a discipline, but in real life, the disciples of PM are the true believers, the Project Management Office in major corporations are the Priests of their true God, and the rest of the team are heathens claiming to be converts to keep their jobs. The QA team is the Holy Inquisition, audits are their inquests, and ...

Ok, I can see I'll slip off into some weirdness if I keep comparing my job to a religion. So to the point!

Each project has a "life cycle" that can be broken down into basic phases. Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Control, and Closeout. It's all pretty much common sense, but having it codified makes things a lot easier to figure out how to make things work. It provides a template for developing your projects efficiently.

In my Great Work activities, I find that using the simple approach of PM helps immensely. It's not something I have to do nearly as strictly, but it provides a framework within which I can work and excel.

Usually when you decide to do a ritual, it's in response to a need that has become apparent to you in your life. Obvious, eh? I know, but writing it down helps the rest of the post.

When you've identified that something needs to be addressed Magically, you can enter the "Initiation" stage. In this stage, you identify what you want to happen, the result, or "deliverable" of the project. You identify when you want to start the project, and when you want it to finish. You loosely identify the scope, that is, the area of impact of your ritual, and put into writing exactly why you need or want to use magic to accomplish this result. You also figure out whether you can actually do the magic, whether you have the resources of time, skill, and information available to accomplish your desired result.

Many ideas for projects get tossed in the trash can after this phase in business. The place I work added a pre-initiation phase to their projects called "Discovery" to eliminate the number of projects that got started and shit-canned along the way. It saved them a lot of money because one person can do the discovery phase in a major corporation, while to do the Initiation phase properly, you end up using a lot of people and wasting everyone's time and cash.

Magicians don't have to worry about that. The primary value of going through the steps of an Initiation Phase in magical projects is that you have a time set aside to really think about the ritual and put some things in writing so you don't lose focus along the way. When you're finished with you Initiation Phase, you should have everything you need to begin the Planning phase. You should have on one piece of paper:
  • A start and finish date
  • A Statement of Intent
  • A paragraph or two explaining what it is you expect from the ritual, and how you want it to manifest.
The next phase is Planning. In this phase, you take your deliverable and reverse engineer the requirements and processes you'll need to be able to perform the ritual. In this phase, you identify what kind of spirit you'll be working with, for example, Angels, Daimons, Gods, or Heroes using Iamblichus' classifications of spiritual entities. You identify the planets, astrological influences, or which specific spirits you'll be working with. You identify the prerequisites, like whether you need to be more in tune with a particular power to be able to direct the subjects of a particular spirit. You gather information about what herbs, incenses, or elemental forces that are in harmony with your intent.

When you are finished with this phase, you will have a list of all the things related to your ritual that you will be using to perform the ritual. Writing these things down in bulleted lists grouped by subject area is an exercise that makes the following phase much easier.

The next phase is the Design phase. In this phase, you actually write up the ritual. On Mars day in Mars hour, you burn Mars herbs and call upon Martial Intelligence, Martial Spirit, and the Elemental King of Fire in the Martial Names of God while wearing the Martial Lamen and tracing the Seals of the spirits you will be working with. You'll write out your oration notes, and develop your basic Playbook. This is a document that details each step of the process you will be doing during the next phase, Execution. Personally my "playbook" will be written on 3x5" cards. The Orations are usually just noted with the specific names of the beings, and I have place holders for when I'm supposed to ring a bell or light incense or trace particular seals using particular elemental weapons. When this phase is complete, you should have the following:
  • A playbook that has detailed instructions and sequential process steps noted and arranged in the appropriate order
  • A checklist of things that need to be in place before you take the first step in the playbook.
Once you have all the planning and design finished, and you know specifically what you will be doing during the ritual, you're ready to begin the Execution phase. In this phase, you gather all the ingredients you've identified in your requirements, and you make sure you've got everything you need ready to go at the right time identified in your playbook. This is the phase where I'll be melting the copper and banging it into a disk to engrave in the appropriate hour, or performing preparatory kinetic meditations, or seeking initiation into the spheres I'll be working with if I haven't worked them before. This is the time that you set up your altar, if it isn't set up already. This is the time you make sure all the candles are in their holders, the lighter has fluid, and the charcoal is sitting in the brazier ready to be lit. The last thing you do before the Execution phase is complete is perform the ritual you have designed.

The next two stages are the ones most magicians don't bother with. In Monitoring and Control, you are supposed to be watching how the ritual you did is unfolding in your life. You're supposed to be checking to see that things are working as designed. Unfortunately, Crowley with his warnings about "lust for results" and the Chaos Magic meme's insistence on banishing with laughter and forgetting that you even did the rite have made a lot of magicians stupid. Between the time you perform the ritual and the time you expect it to manifest, you should be keeping tabs on the results without "lusting" after them. You do this by checking with the spirits to see where they're at in their processes, and by paying attention to the subject areas of your life related to the ritual. If something comes up that is obviously going to fuck up the result, you take steps to implement your controls, processes you design into the ritual to mitigate unforeseen risks to the successful completion of the project.

The final phase of a project is the Closeout stage. In business, this means you've delivered the deliverable, you've made sure it's working, and you pass on responsibility of ongoing maintenance to the appropriate business area "owner." In magic, you enter this phase when the result has been accomplished. You clean up any offerings that were left out for the spirits, you send your spiritual thank you notes to the spirits that attended, and you write up the results of the ritual in your Magical PM log. This write up should include any lessons you've learned that will make future projects go more smoothly.

Chances are you already use a process similar to this in your own Work. the steps are common sense, after all, but maybe you don't bother writing anything up along the way. By taking the time to formulate your statement of intent and the requirements and the playbook and the documentation of the manifestation and lessons learned, you'll have more repeatable, traceable, and consistent results. The planning that goes into each phase will help you identify any potential gaps that could become "showstoppers," the things that will totally derail your intended manifestation.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Published: Rending the Veil

I got featured!

The editor at Rending the Veil online magazine and I cleaned up an old blog post of mine about conjuring spirits, and it's the "Feature" article of this edition, so far.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Conduct Unbecoming a Magician

HERMES, the God who presides over language, was formerly very properly considered as common to all priests; and the power who presides over the true science concerning the Gods is one and the same in the whole of things. - Iamblichus, On the Mysteries

I'm guilty of a terrible crime. If I belonged to an Order, a militaristic organization of magicians with a hierarchy of supervising rank and file to whom I would be accountable, I'm sure I'd frequently be demoted for Conduct Unbecoming a Magician.

Fortunately, I belong to no such Order. There's no person who has been through more initiations in charge of me. There is no committee of flesh and blood to which someone can report me. There is no chain of command that I must obey.

There is no code of conduct.

People have these rather stupid ideas of what someone who is "into magic" should look like. They have these ignorant expectations of how Adepts, Masters, and Illuminated Saints ought to behave. They think we should all be like Jesus, turning the other cheek, striving to be gentle and kind, never cursing, never harsh, never subject to raw emotion. As a result of the refinement of the process of the great Work, we're supposed to be Heroes, with the powers of the Gods and the approachability of mortals.

I've met some really powerful magicians, folks who are incredibly illuminated. You can feel the power of their spheres radiating outward from them into the universe around them. Talking to them leaves the weak-willed fawning and gibbering like tweens at a Jonas Brothers concert.

They get angry, depressed, and violent like anyone else. When they do, the world has suddenly collapsed for these dweebs, and they're left looking like the little girl dressed up like Princess Padme-Amidalla in the Natalie Portman interview video I posted a while back.

Now don't be all thinking I'm bitching about people that I think I'm better than. I'm not. I have these stupid pedestals in my heart and mind that I put people on too. I'm no better. I've learned to take it in stride when my heroes turn out to be human, though. I've lowered my expectations. I try to remember some basic things when I meet people I think are really cool:
  • Jesus took a shit. Daily. Even his digestive system was perfect.
  • Siddartha farted in his hand and sniffed it.
  • Penor Rinpoche declared Steven Seagal a tulku.

These three little precious jewels serve to remind me not to set unrealistic expectations on people that they can't live up to.

WTF does any of this have to do with Iamblichus?

It has a lot to do with the opening he made in his refutation to Porphyry: HERMES, the God who presides over language, was formerly very properly considered as common to all priests.

Hermes, the god who presides over language. Patrick Dunn has provided a better explanation than I can about the role of language and symbol in magic in Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magicians Exploration of Linguistics. If you haven't read it, you should. We who are Hermetic Magicians are priests of the god of Language. As a Christian, a believer in the Word of God made flesh, I am even more aware of my role as priest to this god in my magical practice.*

Language is symbolic of something else. There's a difference between the words we use and the things we refer to, the meanings of the words. Different people have different meanings for the same words.

It's important that we understand that words and our interpretations of them are not the things they represent. Hierophants, for example, are simply "interpretors of the Mysteries." They aren't perfect ascended masters, wizened and ready to do everything perfectly in every interaction with every person. There is no job description for Hierophant that includes "having reached my idea of what a Hierophant should be." Anyone who can interpret the mysteries in a way that provides initiation into the mystery to those seeking his or her advice is qualified. If you expect your Hierophant to be perfect, you're in for a shock.

The same is true for any spiritual mentor. If the person you're learning from is in the flesh, they are capable of being wrong about things. Don't deceive yourself, or you'll be running head first, full speed towards disappointment. Keep your definitons real, your expectations managed, and at the same time strive for the ideal, knowing that the words, symbols, and entities we interact with are representative of the ideal, not the ideal itself.

* No, I don't have Hermes as a god before God. That's against the Law.