Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Magic in Context

Jason recently posted an update of his 9 Principles of Strategic Sorcery. I have personally verified in my own practice each of the 9 Principles he lists. Together they comprise the most salient points I would want to teach people about doing practical magic.

I strongly recommend that people interested in learning the fine art of practical magic take Jason's course. Of all the magicians I know, I trust him the most to take over the Supernatural Assistant Course because he's so well grounded in his approach, and I know he won't turn the Supernatural Assistant into some end-all goal of transcendence and Enlightenment. He's been there, done that, and has the wisdom to prove it.

But every once in a while, I get emails from people in his course who also are fans of my own work asking things like, "I'm in his course, and I was wondering... do you do all that meditation he recommends?" And of course, the answer is hell no. I don't practice his style of magic at all. He's a lot more pagan than I am, even though he's also well-versed in Christianity. He's been immersed in Eastern practices, and had experiences that formed his approach that I will never have. His experiences and my own, while leading to similar conclusions, have been very different. As a result, the framework, the context of our magic is very different.

The meditation thing is a good example. I am a strong advocate of Contemplation of the Divine. I think that the most beneficial times I've spent with the Spirits has been in a meditative state. The Visions of the Spheres, the actual time spent in communication with my HGA, the spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia, and all the Archangels of the Planets have taken place in a state of no-mindedness that I only ever approached outside of ritual during my early attempts at meditation. I also believe that until you've learned to still your own mind and recognize where your own thoughts come from in your head, you will have a very difficult time differentiating between the Voices of the Spirits and your own meandering thoughts. The best way I know of to learn to do this is to practice meditation outside of ritual.

But I don't practice regular meditation. I reach these contemplative states as a result of the presence of the spirits, or by being in the presence of God. Within my context, the meditative state is a side effect of the magic. Just conjuring Gabriel using the Modern Angelic Grimoire techniques results in a changed state of mind. I gave a course on the text at a Thelemic Lodge a while ago, and at the end I conjured Haniel. I looked around the room and saw that everyone had been drawn into a deep contemplative state when the Archangel manifested in the crystal. Ok, maybe not everyone, maybe one or two weren't all the way there, but even the ones who weren't in a deep meditative state were in at least a light trance state.

Within the context of my magical studies and experiences, I've developed a different approach that accomplishes similar results. Yours will be different too, and they should be. Your magical system is going to be something that comes from a unique context that shapes how you do magic.

One of the things I like a lot about Jason's 9 Principles of Strategic Sorcery is that they are distilled to their pragmatic core. They are basically the same core principles Solomon wrote about in Ecclesiastes, that Blake wrote about in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, that Agrippa teaches, and that I have reached in my own pursuits. How they manifest in your own Work is not going to be the same, but I'm confident you will find a core of truth in the 9 Principles that resonate throughout your experience.

But you should always have a shaker of salt with at least a grain or two ratttling around in the bottom when you approach any magical instruction. Salt flavors foods differently for different people. It makes the flavors blend with your taste buds. I sell the Modern Goetic Grimoire, and I hope that it helps people learn to have the kind of success with the spirits that I've had over the past several years. But it's not traditional, it's not "by the book" conjure magic straight out of the grimoires any more than my Modern Angelic Grimoire is. It may or may not be for you. I hope that when you read it, you find the things that fit into your own context and use the magic to change your life.

I'm not saying pick and choose. You'd damned well better have a framework, or context to put everything else into, and it better be based on something that reflects the system you're trying to use. A Chaos magician needs to stick with his or her own made up sigils to release the power of their mind, and had better not try to conjure HCOMA and Ashtoreth at the same time. It doesn't work that way at all. If you're going to use the grimoires, the Solomonic tradition, you'd better have a monotheistic or neo-platonic framework as your core belief structure that puts God above all the Spirits. If you see the spirits of the grimoires as self-evolved entities of specific cultures that rule over some aspects of the human subconscious, there's no authority structure you have to manage them. They'll end up running you, whether they're angels or demons.

Above all else, create harmony in your context. You will reach the understanding that's presented in the 9 Principles if you keep harmony as your goal.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jupiter Invictus

Jupiter Invictus*

I am a jealous god, whose love knows no bounds. I am the stalker of your soul, I will not be resisted. There is no court that can keep you from me, for I am above the Law. There is no rite, or spell, or scourge of man that will keep me from my beloved.

And my beloved is you.

I will pour out my blessings upon you, and I will draw you close to me. You will laugh in joy and health, you will be ruddy cheeked and smiling. I will pluck you from the flood waters, and among the flotsam and jetsam you will find the treasures I have laid up for you against the day of your need.

I yearn for you. Come to me, be not afraid nor ashamed. I am your father, and I am proud of you. You have done all that I have ever desired for you to do, and you have done it perfectly. Let no fear of retribution keep you from my side, for my anger is not with you. I hate that evil should exist, far more than you, yet the greatest evil is that you do not come to me, that you do not turn and see that I am with you. Do you not see the lightning in the midst of the storm, can you not hear within the thunder my voice calling you? Behold, I am the lightning, I am the thunder, and I am the storm. Be not afraid, for I am with you.

And together, we shall remain unconquered.

* I was going to post this Thursday, Jupiter's Day, but this week it falls on April Fool's and I don't want this to seem to be a joke. It's not a joke. I was reading about Sol Invictus and saw that the "Invictus" was applied to Mars and Jupiter as well as Sol in Roman times. One thing led to another, and this is the end result.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour

Care to take part in a Global Ritual of Endarkenment? It's like Enlightenment, but it takes place in the dark.

Tomorrow at 8:30 PM, shut off all the power in your house for an hour. Spend an hour in candlelight and conversation or board games instead of harsh fluorescent replacement bulbs and whatever's on TV at the moment. Take your place in creating a wave of endarkenment that spreads around the globe.

Do it, or the global Green Initiative Mind Police Fairy Zombies will eat your Carbon Footprint-Leaving brains. They're almost as bad as the Ba'al Malachim, dude!

I'm going to do it because I want to stick it to my power company. Bastards. Glad it helps the earth too, but if everyone in MD cuts their power for an hour, that will eat up their profits big time. After seeing what they charge for the pittance of energy I use (Yes, I DO need two flat screen monitors in my living room, a computer, printer, Xbox, Cable TV Descrambler, and associated sound system components, thank you very much), I can't wait to get them back.

In fact, I'm going to start cutting teh power for an hour every day. That'll fix 'em.

And it will help the Earth. How many chances do you get to do something spiteful and good at the same time? This is a golden opportunity.

On Electronically Controlled Acceleration and Braking

REALLY bad idea.

I work in IT, I've worked on the kinds of electronics and microcontrollers that are used to control acceleration and braking, and frankly, it's a buggy, glitchy technological framework. The shit needs to be run by hydraulics and cables, not software and firmware.

You know how Farmville won't even load right on a laptop with too little memory, and the avatar pops up bald and you can't see your crops?* You know how Office 2007 is SLOWER than any Office product package ever, and you can't find any of the commands and functions you spent over a decade learning? You know how the dude at PWN2OWN just found 20 bugs in Safari, IE8, and Adobe in a few minutes using a really basic fuzzing program?

THAT'S the shit we're trusting to take us from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, to control the velocity and acceleration of a metric ton of mass while we trust a thin strap and a balloon to save us if it fails.

Electronics, programming, sensors, and the computers they put in cars are dangerously unsafe.

Oh, uh... This is supposed to be a blog about magic... uhm...

You wouldn't trust Microsoft or an EPROM with managing your initiation into the Sphere of Saturn, would you? Then don't trust the same technology in cars. It's dangerous. One memory buffer overflow, and you're rapidly accelerating with the brakes fully applied and the multi-million dollar industrial complex will do everything in its power to bury the truth and make you look like a liar.


And Toyota is secretly an Illuminati cover for a Bilderberger plot... and... uh, aliens! The technology is based on recovered alien tech from Roswell, and it doesn't work for humans because... uhm, because... because they were silicon-based lifeforms who communicated directly with the circuit boards and we can't so ... uhm, it doesn't work for us.

And that's why we have to recompile the kernel.

There. It's a magic blog post now.

* My spouse plays it, I used to, but it got to be stupid after a few months. It's very zen, though. I planted crops, watched them flower and grow, harvested and saved my money up, and sometimes I'd just let the crops wither and die to remind myself of the Circle of Life. Uhm... Ok, the truth is I forgot about the freaking blueberries and strawberries and cotton I planted to make a huge American flag after timing everything to bloom just right, and they died and I had this ugly brown flag, and I was all pissed about it, and then I realized I was WAY too into this fake farm with fake crops and fake stuff.

Conjuration of Michael the Archangel for Initiatory Purposes

Slightly edited from my SA Course material...

Perform the ritual from Chapter 4 of the Modern Angelic Grimoire up through where it says, "Next you conjure the appropriate angel" on page 27. Replace the oration with the following:

"In the name of the blessed and holy Trinity, I conjure you, you strong mighty
Archangel Michael, that if it is the divine will of Most Holy God the Father,
that you take the shape that best reflects your celestial nature
and appear visibly here in this crystal, to the glory and honor of his divine
Majesty, who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.

"Lord, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; -- make clean my heart
within me, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

"O Lord, by your name I have called him, suffer him to minister unto me, that
all things may work together for your honor and glory, and with you also
the Son and blessed Spirit, whom are ascribed all might, majesty and dominion. Amen"

"Michael Archangel of the Sun, I conjure you here and now by the Holy Name
Jehovah Eloahv-Da'at, by your Name Mem-Yod-Kaph-Aleph-Lamed, I conjure you, and
by your seal upon the lamen on my breast, I conjure you. Come now and appear
before me in this crystal. Appear before me in a way that I will see you and
know that you are here. Open my ears that I may hear you, open my eyes that I
may see you, for we have Work to perform in accordance with God's will. When you
are present, speak."

[note: At this point the angel will speak. It may be hard to "hear" him because
the voices of the spirits tend to sound like thoughts that originate behind and
slightly above your head. You may feel a tension in the air to signal that the
spirit is present. With Michael, I have seen the things in the room seem to be
illuminated with an inner light, everything seems sharper and more defined.]

[Testing the Spirit: When you sense a confirmation of his presence, test the
spirit to the best of your abilities. I have it say "Jesus is Lord" from the New
Testament, but as I indicated in a previous post, you can also "vibrate" the
name IAO at the spirit, or trace its Seal over the crystal. If it stays in the
form it appeared in, it will be confirmation.]

Once you've confirmed that the Spirit is present, you speak your request:

"Michael, I have conjured you here this day to aid me in accomplishing the
Great Work. I seek initiation into the Sphere of the Sun, that I may gain enlightenment
integrate the forces of your Sphere into my own.  I ask that you
begin the transformations to my sphere that will enable this to occur. Initiate
me into your Sphere of the Sun, and prepare me for the way ahead.

"As I walk this path, I ask that you provide your aid in accomplishing this
ritual, providing me with insight along the way and illuminating the path that I
should take when faced with difficulty. I ask that you protect and shield me
from any attacks, and keep all lying spirits from me. I ask for your strength to
sustain me as I perform this stage of my Work. Be with me as I walk forward.

I thank you, Michael, for coming and hearing my words. As you have come in
peace, so go in power, accomplishing all that we have discussed. In the name of
the Father, son and Holy Spirit, amen."

"To God the Father, Eternal Spirit, Fount of Light, and to the Son, and to the
Holy Ghost be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Magic Works: Magic, Belief, and Mental Clarity

Tricky stuff, talking about how magic works these days. St. B. takes a thought-provoking swipe at it today and brings up some very interesting points that are true about how magic works, and the role of belief, confidence, and faith.

At the same time, we're in the aftermath of the chaos magic movement that spread the "meme" meme using the techniques of NLP to empower itself exponentially... and then dried up and blew away when Emperor Norton awoke to the fact that his exotic invisible symbol set and belief-system-flopping-paradigm-mind tricks weren't really there.

Just because you believe something to be true doesn't, really, grant the power to transcend all human limitations. That's a bare-bones fact that nothing in The Secret, on a blog, or in some eBook that you order off some icono-hypnosis* practitioner's cheap ass web site that promises that you'll be making five figures a month by writing ad copy for Google ads can change. If you think your mind can overcome the effects of sealing yourself in a plastic sweat lodge run by a white dude who charged you $9,000 each to come and basically COOK YOURSELF TO DEATH, you're in for a slight surprise.

But belief is a factor in the the effects of magical rituals, right? I mean, you have to believe in it to have results, and the more confident you are in your expectations, the quicker your results manifest. The stronger your will, the more precise the result matches the statement of intent. The clearer your thoughts about a situation, the better the outcome when you conjure about it. These are all facets of how belief impacts magic, and the interaction between the magician's mind and thoughts and the spirits we're conjuring. You can't pray to something you don't think is there and get the peace that comes from prayer with a being you've met, walked through the Aethyrs with, and have a long-established relationship.Belief directly impacts results...

But really, if you didn't believe in magic, would you REALLY have picked up a book on the occult? Really? Fuck no, even people who are trying to "Debunk the Superstitions of the IDIOTS," like Richard Dawkins secretly believe, or they wouldn't have started researching about it. Everybody knows Richard Dawkins is afraid that there really is a God, and has spent all his time and effort trying to disprove his existence, not so that he could free mankind from the chains of religion, oh no, he just wants to be able to fucking sleep at night without taking Ambien.

But he can't, cause he knows there's a God, and that he's going to suffer for his rejection of his Source. Everybody knows it. It's engraved in our souls to Love God and Seek Him, in whatever form he reveals himself in.

Likewise, everyone who gets drawn to magic at least secretly believes it's real already. Any doubts are just delusions, social anxiety over getting mocked or ostracized from the popular kids' table in the cafeteria because you believe in something "weird."

But people do fail at magic anyway, at first. They get lackluster results, they hear nothing, feel no spirit, and see no results at all. They go through all the motions, even by the letter of the book, and get nuttin'.

Why's that?

Because it's not belief that powers the magic, as much as it is confidence. Assuredness. Clarity of Mind. Jason recommends people meditate a lot. It's an exercise that teaches you to clear your mind. When people start getting good results, it's after they've done the rituals often enough to know what comes next without worrying about forgetting a step and getting eaten by Ba'al Malachimlings.** They've got the confidence to focus their intent on the conjuration, instead of the technique, and they've achieved clarity of mind. Agrippa says it's not the name of the spirit, but the intent of the magician that determines what spirit we receive. That means that if your mind isn't clear enough to focus that intent, there isn't going to be any spirit there at all. Or worse, you'll get the kind that are attracted to confused minds.***

I do agree that Magic is a way to transcend all human limitation, by the way. Especially if you can be really flexible and relativistic with the "transcend" part. See, the real secret power of Mind Over Matter is that if you don't mind, it doesn't matter."Transcending human limitation in magic" can mean landing a job you aren't qualified for, or learning why you aren't ever going to use levitation and invisibility spells to rob a bank totally un-noticed and then fly away to a country that doesn't extradite. Just in case you may have thought magic would do that for you, and that's why you really started studying this shit. Not saying I know anyone like that. Not saying it was me, nope. Just sayin'.

Anyway, that's my swipe at How Magic Works: Magic, Belief, and Mental Clarity.

Who's next?

* Coming soon, The Power of Icono-Hypnosis: Hypnotise your readers using occult writing techniques (as revealed by Bune of the Goetia!)

** Don't conjure the Ba'al Malachim. They are a class of spirits that I, even me who doesn't believe in evil spirits, would never consider conjuring, at all. They're a class of spirit far more insidious and dangerous than any list of demons recorded in sulfur tablets retrieved from the depths of Hell itself. They're .... completely made up, just now, by me.

*** Or still yet even more worse, you'll get eaten, eaten by the Ba'al Malachimlings!  Duhn-duhn-duuuuuuuhn!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Benefits of Initiation

Kenaz has two really good posts that I just got to today about "demonic obsession." Very interesting and useful information for those pursuing a conjure-magic path.
Specifically, the Vodou Responses to Spiritual Obsession caught my fancy this morning. He mentions the things done in Vodou to rid one of the negative influences of spirits, like the Lave Tet or Kanzo ceremonies. Note: I have no clue what they are, I've just heard about them online.

Initiation comes with many pains and trials and ordeals in the mundane world, but it also comes with a great deal of benefits. If you want something like the protection Kenaz mentions in his post, but you're not into Vodou, or if you're like me and the idea of "organized" spiritual/religious organizations gives you the heeby jeebies, there are several options available to you in the comfort of your own home. Comes in handy for those stuck far from any occult Orders too.

The Abramelin Rite has been compared to the receiving of your "head" in Palo by Aaron Leitch, if I remember right. Gaining Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel leaves you changed in a way that keeps you from being readily demonized by any spirits, whether they be the remnants of a deceased human, or a never-incarnated spirit entity you've conjured to do your bidding. That's why I strongly recommend getting at least your Supernatural Assistant before beginning any type of Work with any spirits classified as "demons". He covers your ass for you in ways you rarely appreciate.

Of course, my house caught on fire anyway, so don't think it's a "get out of all major catastrophes free" card. Life, apparently, doesn't work that way.

Gaining initiation into each of the Planetary Realms is another method of obtaining a degree of protection from the spirits. Those who have mastered the Trithemian method of conjuring the Archangels of the planets (or who have my Modern Angelic Grimoire) can gain initiation into these spheres through the Archangels of the Planets.

If you're looking for protection from the lower Spirits, I'd assume the Sphere of the Sun would be the best bet. The Supernatural Assistant is a Solar Spirit, and Crowley puts the HGA in Tiphareth, rightly so, imo. Michael, the Trithemian Archangel of the Sun, is also the Archangel who "kicked Lucifer's butt out of heaven" as Kenaz says, and initiation into his sphere will raise the tincture of your own sphere to a vibrational level that is incompatible with the spirits that most often bring people harm. The Supernatural Assistant course I was offering until recently was an immersion into the Sphere of the Sun as well as the obtaining of that particular familiar spirit.

Be warned, the crucifixion of Christ is the classic metaphor of the initiatory experience of the Sun. While I do believe that Bune was responsible for the fire in my house, I was ALSO doing the course work I prescribed for my students, and had taken on the mantle of Hierophant for the group. I had linked myself to their initiatory experiences, and this fire has been very much like a Solar Rebirth. I wonder at times if the fire wasn't the result of the Course Work I was doing, amplified by the spiritual link to several other people going through it at the same time. And then Bune just took advantage of the fire to provide me with nearly the exact dollar amounts I requested...

Feh, that's the trouble with this magic thing, there are so many things you can assign a causal relationship to your physical experiences. I'll never really know if Bune or the Supernatural Assistant Course was the root cause of the fire, or if it was just "shit happens." At least, not as long as I'm in the flesh.

But yeah, initiation is always a death-and-rebirth experience, in some ways, and the spirits that obsess and possess lose a fingerhold on your sphere after you've passed between the realms and returned to this one. It's a good thing to have.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saul Amon, Itinerant Mage

Once upon a time, there was a poor magician who had spent many years of his life pursuing the occult arts. He studied diligently, and put into practice the techniques he learned. He had seen many wondrous things and learned many secrets of the universe, and yet he was poor and could barely provide for his family. Long gone were the days of Kings hiring and caring for the magicians, diviners, and priests of the spiritual arts. As a result, he was forced to support his family as a scribe.

One day, after writing a letter for a particularly mean-spirited illiterate woman, he went to the local market and spent some of his meager pay on a small cup of coffee. A man sat down beside him and began making conversation to pass the day.

The magician noticed that this man was well-dressed. He wore fine shoes and an expensive watch. He had a sleek cell phone that had internet access and played music. He was fit, but well-fed, and while there were many lines of care on his face, there were more lines of laughter and smiles than of worry and suffering.

The magician looked at his own attire. He wore stained khaki pants from Walmart. The cuffs had started to fray where he walked on them, yet he couldn’t have bought the next shorter size because they would have been too short. He wore cheap generic shoes from Target that hurt his feet, and his shirt had cost him seven dollars on the clearance rack. He had no watch, and his cell phone was the free one he got with the plan. He was ashamed of himself, and tried to keep silent, but the man expressed genuine interest in his life.

The magician, weary with the world and the state of his life, soon found himself complaining that he had spent years studying and learning arcane arts, and yet still had to play the sycophant to the ignorant elite whom fortune favored more than himself. “What is the point,” he asked, “of spending years in the presence of the angels, of developing a close and intimate relationship with God, of experiencing the awe-inspiring heights of the heavenly realms when the next morning I must endure the abuse of a menstruating woman if I want to keep my wage-slave job?”

The man listened with great compassion, and asked his name. “My name is Saul,” the magician-scribe replied.

“What a coincidence!” the other man said. “My name is Saul too! Saul Amon, at your service. I’ll tell you what, mage-scribe, you come back to this coffee shop tomorrow, and I will tell you the tale of how I, through Fortune and Fate, managed to amass the fortune that keeps me living comfortably today. Perhaps it will help you through this momentary crisis of faith.”

With that, the man left, and the magician Saul was alone. He sighed, and returned to his scribe’s cubicle, the small, grey-upholstered cell he had been sentenced to for twenty years, and though he tried to get lost in the menial writing tasks he had, he couldn’t get the man’s comments out of his mind. He was annoyed, irritated that the man had the audacity to classify his outpouring of frustration as merely a “momentary crisis of faith.”

"He doesn’t know me," Saul thought to himself. "He got lucky, probably inherited a fortune, finished his education, and made something of himself. He wasn’t born with a fascination for the occult and a spirit for God that leaves you poor and frustrated, no matter how many awesome sights you may see."

Saul decided he wouldn’t go to the coffee shop at the market, the man was one of those know-it-alls who just wanted to give empty advice he’d heard a thousand times, or worse, a sheister trying to sell something.

Yet the next afternoon, Saul went to the market anyway. He had spent the night dreaming of his life, and woke to find himself in tears, weeping in his sleep. “This is disgusting. It can’t get any worse, I suppose,” he thought, and decided to meet the man after all.

When he arrived, the man was already seated in a booth with two cups of coffee, one for himself, and one for his guest.

“Saul! Good to see you, mage-scribe. I didn’t know if you’d come or not, but I’m glad you did.”

They sat, and soon the wealthy man began to speak of his own life and experiences.

* * *

Long ago, the wealthy Saul had been born to an upper middle class family. He too had been drawn to the occult, and though he had been given everything he needed in life, he had let his pursuit of the illusions of the occult distract him, and he squandered away the few blessings he had received early in his youth. He had dropped out of college without getting a degree, and had spent many years chasing after the latest in pop-occultism. Soon he found himself in a similar position to the mage-scribe, and wondered what he would do with his life.

Using the wealth magic he had learned, he conjured enough capital to purchase the raw materials to make some talismans. He made the talismans, and hooked up with some modern-day gypsies, a small group of New Agers and Fortune Tellers who traveled around the country visiting occult bookstores and psychic fairs, selling their wares and talents. He threw his box of talismans in the back of a minivan, and the group set off for a rock and gem show in New Mexico.

After they had traveled hundreds of miles, they stopped at a road side rest stop somewhere in Kentucky. Saul didn’t take nearly as long to relieve himself as his companions, so he walked among the picnic tables where families ate cold sandwiches and drank fruit-flavored sodas. Running low on cash, he approached a couple of the tables and asked if anyone would be interested in a tarot card reading for $15. No one was interested, and so he headed back towards the van to wait for his traveling companions.

Before he reached it, a state trooper pulled up and began asking him what he was doing, where he was going, and why he was harassing the other travelers at the rest stop. It seems a good-hearted Christian family had been frightened by the ungodly man and had called the police, who had happened to be pulling into the rest stop at just the right time to see the man who fit the description.  Before long, Saul found himself sitting in the back of the patrol car while the officer ran his driver’s license looking for outstanding warrants. If his history cleared and his story checked out, the officer said, he would be free to go with a warning.

Seeing Saul in the back of the patrol car, his traveling companions got in their van and drove off, leaving Saul unable to corroborate his story. The owner of the van was transporting more than occult paraphernalia, and didn’t want anything to do with the police. With this turn of events, Saul realized things weren’t going to turn out very well at all. He was somewhere in Kentucky with a pack of tarot cards, the clothes on his back, and a state trooper who looked at him and only saw “Vagrant.”

“Officer,” he said, “I know what this looks like, and I assure you things aren’t what they seem. I know it’s illegal to hitchhike from a rest stop, but I have no one to call, and only the $30 in my wallet. I invested the last of my fortune in the goods in the back of the van that I can’t prove was here, and there’s nothing I can do about it. But since I can’t get off this rest stop without breaking the law, can you please give me a ride to the nearest exit?”

The officer grudgingly agreed, and since Saul had no warrants, more than $10 in cash, and a story that could very well be true, he dropped him off at the next exit with the warning that he’d better never see him again.

Saul was more than happy to agree to that, and began walking away from the interstate. He hoped to catch a ride to New Mexico to catch up with his things, but for that he would need a truck stop, and there didn’t appear to be any between where he was and where he needed to be. He found a state highway that meandered roughly parallel to the interstate, and began the indefinite walk forward, hoping a Kentucky farmer would give him a lift to the nearest truck stop if he was lucky.

His luck didn’t exactly pan out.

As he was walking along, he heard a loud splashing sound coming from a pond in the field beside the road. He looked over, and saw a horse thrashing about in the middle of the pond. Without really thinking about it, he hopped the fence and ran over to the horse. Something had the beast by the leg and was dragging it under the water. Every time the beast scrambled to its feet, it slipped. Though he could see nothing apparent attacking the beast, Saul knew something was at work. He felt the presence of a spirit sucking, drawing, dragging the horse into the middle of the pond.

“By the Archangel Michael, and the power of St. George, I command you to release the horse immediately.”

The horse instantly regained its footing and scrambled up out of the pond, the whites of its eyes showing all around.

“Hey, thanks!” he heard, and turning, he saw a youth running up to him. “Two horses drowned in that pond last month, and we’ve locked the gate to this field. Penny’s Lover got out of his stall this morning and jumped the fence, came right here like he wanted to die or something. If he’d drowned, my boss would have killed me! This horse is worth a couple million dollars, easy. Jack’s going to be so happy you saved the horse, you’ve got to meet him.”

Apparently, Saul had wandered onto a thoroughbred horse racing farm, and had saved the life of their biggest investment. The youth was true to his word, and introduced the man to Jack Kensington, the owner of the horse and the farm.

Jack was so thankful that he gave Saul a reward of a thousand dollars cash, and asked how he had saved the horse. “Sir,” began Saul slowly, “I don’t know if you believe in this stuff or not, but that pond out there… it’s cursed.”

Awkwardly at first, and then when Jack didn’t freak out too much, Saul explained what he had done and how it had worked. “There’s still something in the pond that hates your horses, or maybe even you personally. It draws the horses to it to punish you, I think. Did you piss off someone’s ghost, or maybe the spirit of the farm?”

Jack looked at Saul closely for a moment, and then sighed.

“Look, son, I don’t believe in all this psychic shit. I really don’t... Wait, how did you end up here again?”

Saul hadn’t told him his story, but taking a deep breath, he started at the top. “I was heading for New Mexico to sell some stuff at a rock and gem show, and I got abandoned at the rest stop down on the interstate. My traveling companions bailed when they saw me sitting in the back of a state trooper’s car. Seems they were carrying some stuff I didn’t know about that the cops wouldn’t have appreciated. The cop thought I was a vagrant because I was trying to make some spending cash by giving tarot readings, and when they left, I looked more like a vagrant than ever. The cop dropped me off at the closest exit, and I’m just trying to get to New Mexico to get my stuff back. It’s all I have, and it could make me a tidy profit.”

“You never heard of me, this farm, and you’re not from around here?”

“No, sir. I just ended up here by accident.”

“What was the cop’s name?”

“Anderson, his badge said.”

“Bob Anderson? He’s a friend of mine. Look, you’re welcome to stay for lunch, we feed all the farm hands in about twenty minutes. You can keep the reward for helping the horse, and if your story checks out, I might have some work for you if you’re interested. If it doesn’t, I'll run you off with rock salt, but you saved Penny’s Lover, and that’s worth at least a grand. You can stay and eat and maybe work, or if you’re full of shit, you can high tail it on out of here and never show your face again.”

Saul knew his story would check out, he was hungry, and figured he could at least get a ride to a greyhound station if nothing else, so he stayed. After eating with the workers, Jack called him into his office and offered him a drink and a cigar.

“I got ahold of Bob while you were eating. He thinks you’re likely a drifter with more stories than sense, but he said your story checks out. Your license has no warrants on it, and unless it’s a fake, you’re really from out of town. You wouldn’t have known anything about me or this farm.

“Like I said before, I don’t believe in all this psychic bullshit, curses, or haunting by evil spirits, or whatever it’s called. I think it’s probably a load of shit and I’ve just had some bad luck… shit happens, you know? But look, here’s the deal. A year ago, I won a race down in New Orleans. I beat out the local favorite, and got a little drunk after the race. I may have run my mouth a bit to the loser, you know, bragging, rubbing it in, but I was really happy to have won, you know? I was the long-shot, a breeder no one had heard of, and no one thought I knew what I was doing.

“Anyway, I pissed this guy off, and he said I’d be cursed. I laughed in his face and said bring it on, and a week later, sober and back here at my farm, I get this envelope from New Orleans. No return address, but the postal stamp said it came from there. Inside, there’s this white powder and this piece of paper.”

Jack took a small square of parchment out of his desk. On it was scrawled a seal of a spirit that looked like a cross on a checkered hill. It looked like it had been written in ordinary pencil. There was a slight smell of incense about the paper too. When he touched it, Saul felt a chill.

“Ever since then, I’ve had nothing but bad luck. I had two horses drown in that pond, fortunately one was just a work horse, but the second was Penny Lover’s sire. He was past his prime, but I had stud plans for him. I had some of his semen frozen, but the compressor on that unit failed and it was ruined. And that’s not the only bad luck I’ve had. I haven’t won a race since, the farm hands are all talking about hearing things at night, and the Mexicans among them have all started lighting St. Martha candles. My wife is scared, and... Well, maybe you can do something about it.”

As it turned out, Saul actually could do something to help. He had recognized the seal right away, it was the seal of Gamigin of the Lemegeton’s Goetia. The Goetia tended to attract dabblers and dilettantes, but in the hands of a skilled magician, it could be really effective, especially for doing magic with people with no magical background.

“I can help,” he said. “It’s a spirit sent against you, apparently with the direction to curse you and destroy your horses. I can get rid of it, maybe even send it back against the person who sent it, but I’ll need to time it right.”

“Nah,” said Jack, “I don’t want you to send it back at ‘em. I suppose I deserved it, but I sure can’t afford to have any more horses die. How long will it take to get rid of that thing?”

“Let me check,” Saul replied. “I haven’t done any Goetia stuff in a while, but if I can get on a computer, I’ll be able to get what I need.”

As things turned out, Saul was able to get rid of the spirit that night. The moon was appropriate, and the timing was right, so he conjured up Gamigin and released it from its orders, thanked it for its work, and sent it on its way. He knew that even though the spirit had been tasked with evil, it wasn’t responsible for its actions any more than a wind bears responsibility for knocking an oak branch into a house. It did its job well, and a magician’s praise was generally welcomed by the spirits.

Jack asked Saul to stay a couple of days to make sure the spirit didn’t return, but Saul was eager to get back on the road. His travelling companions would be at the rock and gem show in a day or two, and the show itself would only last through the weekend. If he wanted to recover his stuff and make a profit, he needed to get on a bus and be in New Mexico with haste.

“Now, son, just hold your horses,” Jack said. “I’ll pay you whatever you wanted to make off that shit if you’ll just stick around a couple of weeks. I’ll put you up, you can have fine whiskey and cigars the whole time. I’m pretty sure whatever you did worked, because my wife had the best night’s sleep she’s had in months, but I just want to be sure.”

Saul was astounded. If he had sold all the talismans he’d made, he would have made about six thousand dollars, enough to live on for a month and get the stuff for more talismans. He didn’t expect to sell them all, of course. This was a good deal, something he wasn’t going to pass up.

“You’ve got a deal, sir!” he said, grinning. Jack gave him the six thousand dollars, and put him up in a guest bedroom in the main house. He was true to his word, and a week and a half later, Saul was getting ready to leave. There had been no further spiritual activity, and they had tested the pond by putting some older horses out to pasture in the field. When none were killed, they put Penny’s Lover back out in the field, with Saul on hand to do the voodoo he did so well, should it become necessary. After three days of  no harm nor foul, Jack was treating him like a king.

A day before he was to leave, Jack took him aside and said he had a surprise for him. It was after lunch, and they sat on the porch drinking iced tea and talking about the fine art of horse breeding.

Horse breeding was an expensive hobby, but when you got the right sperm with the right egg, you stood to make a killing. Saul didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation, but Jack made up for it with his enthusiasm. Soon Saul knew more about horse semen than he wanted, but he enjoyed Jack’s company, and the fine cigar and single malt waiting inside made up for a lot.

“Say, Saul,” Jack said after a comfortable lull in the conversation, “why is it you can conjure up demons and they do what you want, but you’re nearly broke and you get abandoned on the highway while you’re sitting in the back of a cop car?” Saul sighed. It was the essence of the very question that he struggled with all the time.

“I have no fucking clue, man,” he said, and Jack laughed. Saul continued, “I can get a pittance here, a few grand there, but for long-term wealth, I get nothing. I can make talismans that get other people rich, improve their business, hell, if you had the talismans I was going to sell at the rock and gem fair, you’d be winning no less than three out of every five races you run for a year. But as soon as I do that and bet on your horse, I guaran-damn-ty you that it will be one of the two races you lose. Business wealth talismans are just weaker for the person that makes them, for some reason, probably in accordance with some fucking cosmic law, or whim of God. Drives me nuts.”

Jack laughed. “Well son, maybe your luck’s about to change.”

Saul looked up, and saw Jack wasn’t looking at him. Driving up to the house was a state trooper, and sure enough, Bob Anderson hopped out when it came to a stop.

“Bob!” Jack called. “Good to see you. How’s Ann and the kids?”

“They’re good, Jack.” Turning to Saul, Bob said, “Didn’t I tell you I’d better not see you again?”

Saul paled, but when Bob started laughing, he relaxed, a bit; even laughing cops made him nervous.

“Just joshing you,” he said. “I don’t know if you’re full of shit or not, but we pulled over your friends on their way back through here last weekend. Turned out they were hauling back a couple pounds of pot. Your name was on a box in the back, and I told Jack about it. He asked if you could have it, says you helped him out a lot here at the ranch over the last couple of weeks. Looks like he’s treating you well enough, and I’ve never known Jack to get the wool pulled over his eyes sober. Everything else you’ve said has checked out, so you can’t be all bad.”

The cop weighed Saul in his eyes, and Saul felt the echo of Justice resonating out from him. “Ah, I guess you’re not a grifter. You don’t flinch like they do.”

Feeling like he’d passed a test, Saul relaxed the rest of the way. Bob dropped the last of his cop demeanor, and soon, despite the gun and hand cuffs, he was just a friend of Jack’s who didn’t mind Saul’s presence so much.

After some small talk, Bob went to the trunk and pulled out the box that had Saul’s full legal name on it. Inside were the talismans he made, and seeing that there were no drugs or pipes in the lot, whatever residual concerns Bob had seemed to dissipate.

After Bob left, Saul thanked Jack profusely. “I can’t believe you got this stuff back for me! This is great. With what you already paid me and this, I’m flush for a couple of months. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Hold on there, son,” said Jack. “You said something about these things helping me win three out of every five races I run. Those are pretty decent odds, all things considered. How much you want for all of them?”

Saul sold him the lot for $6,000, and took some time to fine tune each to a particular purpose. Hanging one in a stable, he said, “You keep your horses in this stable before they race, and they’ll do better than if you don’t.” Handing him another, he said, “Hang this talisman in the trailer when you’re transporting them, and they’ll rest easy and have less stress. It’ll keep away accidents too.” Taking a fertility talisman out, he said, “Hang this in a stall and breed your horses in it during a waxing moon, and the foals will come out strong and fast.” Taking yet another, he said, “If any of your horses get hurt, put this in their stall and it will help them race again.”

Jack was polite, but obviously skeptical, in spite of what he’d seen. “I don’t know, Saul, but if half of what you’ve said works, I’ll be in pretty good shape come next year this time, eh?”

Soon, Saul took his leave, giving Jack his number and address, and telling him to call any time. He went back to his home on the East Coast, and set about making more talismans. It would take a couple months to get the timing right for the more expensive stuff he wanted to make this time, but with the funds he’d gotten from Jack, he should be fine. He’d be running out of cash roughly the time the fall psychic faires started up in force, and Halloween was always a good time to make money at those things.

A month or so later, he got a letter from Jack. Inside was a letter explaining that since Saul had left, he’d followed his instructions about the talismans, and sure enough, they were working. He’d won a sizeable number of races, and had some investors approach him about some of the genetic lines he was developing. It seems profits had gone up, way up since he’d gotten the talismans, and he knew who to thank.

Enclosed with the letter was a check for three million dollars, with the note, “That’s less than 10% of what I made since you left, son. Take it and use it in good health.”

* * *

“And that,” said Saul, taking a sip of his coffee, “was the first time I made over a million dollars at once.”

The magician-scribe looked at the man across the table from him at the coffee shop.

“You’re full of shit,” he said. “That shit just doesn’t happen.”

Saul laughed and replied, “I had to have made some money somehow, right? Who says the story I just told you isn’t what paid for this Rolex and this Blackberry?”

“Did it?” the magician-scribe asked.

“Hell no, I lost that fortune a year or so later, half to an ex-wife, and the other half to single malts and fine cigars. Meet me here tomorrow, and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Magical R&D Shop

I need financing to start a Magical R&D shop. The only way to make progress with all this spiritual stuff, the only way to come up with a meaningful standard by which angels, demons, and whatever other types of spirits we conjure can be measured is to have a consistent practice, and an observational lab environment.

And volunteers. We'll need people to tell us how they feel as we conjure angels to curse them, and then demons to do the same.

The military applications of this type of science are unlimited. America's entering a Grummet phase, so it's feasible. Maybe I'll market it as "Mind Control, Inc." Too subtle?

Moving on...

In response to the Waking from the Goetic Sleep post, Paul made an insightful comment. I think it's worth reposting here for all who read my rants and raves and thoughts and such who may not check the comments. It brought a sense of perspective to the recent Goetia thread that I needed, a useful nudge back on track.

Paul writes:
I think the negativity that surrounds systems like Goetia has to do with the perception that the spirits primarily are concerned with changing circumstance, rather than changing character. This is compounded by the perception that magicians who are overly interested in Goetia seem to be obsessed with obtaining things.

To be honest, anyone who's read your blog for a while can see this in action. Is it the fault of the system? I don't know. It's at least half the fault of the magician. It's just easy to gain a perception that there is a correlation between Goetia and thing-obsessed magicians.

To be clear, I'm not of the opinion that "real magic" is only used to "be one with God" or any other altruism that are commonly heard on the internet. I'm of the opinion that if there are aspects of our lives that we aren't happy with (and hence go asking spirits to [temporarily] fix for us), it's because there is a flaw in our character that has led to behaviors that have created those circumstances. Nothing will change with any permanency until the character flaw is addressed and corrected on a personal level.

The fact that some people choose to ignore the correction of their character, or put it as secondary to "fixing" their circumstances, speaks to the denial that we all can very easily fall into, when supporting a certain philosophy (e.g. Goetia is great) becomes more important than becoming more effective actors in the world.
 All I can add to that is "Well said, Paul."

And thanks.

The role of Sub-Lunar spirits in the magician's repertoire is something to keep in mind. Goetia is great, in some contexts, but those contexts are a lot more limited than the descriptions of the spirits may lead one to believe. In an offline conversation, Jason said he advises people to use the Lesser Key spirits only when they have a laser-focused need for a physical manifestation.

At this stage in my life, I'd agree. Regardless of my opinions on the subject, people do, on occasion, have bad experiences when they do Goetic Work, whether they use the Lesser Key or not. Any Work in the physical should be done in areas that have already been addressed in the celestial realms. To have a realistic expectation of the outcome requires a clear and concise understanding of the things you're trying to manifest...

Ok, this is going to take longer than I wanted this post to be. I'll make the rest to be continued.

On the Villification of the Qlippoth

Have you ever noticed how SOME pretentious self-obsessed narcissistic spiritual speakers are really quick to point out the negative properties of the Qlippoth without giving the spirits that inhabit these somwhat shadier realms a proper shake? I mean, have they ever really Worked with the Gashelklah? Have they flown with Oreb Zarak? No, of course not! Yet here they are condemning... the... uhm...

Oh yeah, there's no such thing as the Qlippoth.

Never mind!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Could it be, I don't know, maybe....

The other day Scott posted the whereabouts of our favorite pointy-horned, cleft-footed, red-skinned tempter and tormenter of souls on Augoeides. I was surprised to see another article on this on Google News, as this kind of thing seldom gets that kind of air time.

In the second article on the Vatican's Exorcist announcing that Satan's hanging out in Rome these days (like he ever left), there's a lot of cool info on the symptoms of actual demonic possession. I thought it was relevant with all the talk of demons here lately, so in case you've conjured up the spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia, and you're wondering if you've actually gotten possessed, let's see what your symptoms are and how they compare to what an actual possession looks like. Symptoms include:
  • vomiting
  • violent headaches
  • stomach cramps
  • superhuman strength
  • fits
  • extreme aversion to holy symbols
  • talking in unknown (to the victim) languages, including ancient tongues such as Aramaic, the language of Christ
  • reacting so violently to the ritual of prayers, incantations, holy water and the sign of the Cross that they have to be held or tied down while the priest touches the possessed person with his stole and places his hand on his or her head
  • vomiting objects such as nails or glass
  • vomiting on a priest in the face from the other side of the room (Nice aim, Aim!)
  • medical or psychiatric tests show no rational explanation for the symptoms
Barring this kind of trouble, I wouldn't worry too much about whether you're possessed.

And in closing...

Waking up from the Goetic Sleep

Have you noticed how quick people are to blame the spirits in Goetia when things go badly? I've never seen any system so quick to get booted to the curb in spite of previous successes. Magicians can have years of good results with a spirit, but if they have one bad experience, all the spirits of the system are bad bad bad.

There are so many assumptions and prejudices surrounding these spirits that the skills required to use them effectively, consistently may never be gained, documented, and disseminated to the occult community. It's annoying as hell. If people shelved Angelic Magic, Planetary Magic, or even your average Pagan conjurations of Hekate every time they had a ritual provide results they didn't like, no one would do any magic at all.

Jake Stratton-Kent has said for years that the line between angels and demons is thin indeed. When you look at the gnostic texts, as he points out recently on the Solomonic yahoo group, it's not only the alleged "angels" that are demonized, but God himself. Yet magicians are perfectly fine working with the Angels. He points out that Cassiel, Archangel of Saturn, is listed as a demon in Barrett's The Magus, and that Uriel and various "angels" associated with Venus also have a "Dubious history."

I think the problem is that doing magic is simple, but learning to do it well takes time, practice, patience, research, and perseverance. A quickness to retreat from the system at the first sign of trouble is damaging to the magical art in general, and is a disservice to magicians of the future. The prejudice around the Lem's Spirits is largely unwarranted. Sure, they may burn your house down if you're stupid enough to say, "Do whatever it takes to get me this money, just don't hurt anyone," but stupid gets what stupid puts out. It's a Spir'tual Law.

I believe magicians have been lulled into a deep sleep when it comes to the Goetia. The idea that they're "demons" has left people with a blind spot. There's a great deal of negative expectation around it, but little actual evidence to support it. "I used Goetia, and it didn't stay forever exactly as I wanted it when things changed," or "I used Goetia for years, and then I had a bad experience so they're all evil and bad" are pretty standard. I don't get how people can just toss out their success with the system so easily.

The really funny part though? When things go well with Goetia, it's because the magicians are following the grimoire's instructions properly, or are psychically shielded, or somehow appropriately initiated, or otherwise prepared the way a good magician should be, but if things go badly, the spirits themselves are somehow corrupt, kick you when you're down, or are "corrosive."

But not everyone will agree with me, or Jake. Hell, I barely agree with Jake on some things, even though our theologies are nearly identical. Except for that whole "Jesus" thing. I know that Jason Miller is nearly correct when he says, "you would be hard pressed to find a magician that thought that you would have just as much problem with an Archangel as with a Sub Lunary Spirit." I say "nearly" because I only have to go to the mirror to find a magician who thinks this is true, and it's based on hard-won experience. I trust that mirror guy, he's seen some shit in his time.

Objectively speaking, I've had at least as many, if not more positive results that I was happy with after Working the so-called demons as I've had with alleged Angels. I've been disappointed more with the Angels, but mostly because when I want something badly enough to do magic about it, I want the results like fucking yesterday, man! Not in a couple of weeks.


Anyway, the whole "Angels are good, Demons are baaaaaa-aaaaad" bullshit has to come to an end. Wake up, magicians! See the systems without the "demonic" filters over your eyes!  Scrub that sleep-crusted snot from your eyeballs and take a good, clean, honest look at Goetia. It ain't so bad.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mood and Manifestation


You know, I keep thinking back on the mood I was in when I was conjuring Bune for the amounts of money I got after the fire. As I said, I was desperate. I wasn't pleading or anything, I don't beg spirits for shit. They're my work force, not my masters. I tell them what I want to have happen. But I was a little ... uh, well, I was telling him like a whiney teenage girl. I was holding the bill in my hand in front of the spirit pot, pointing directly at the amount, saying, "Bune, I need THIS MUCH MONEY by THIS DATE. I you to make this happen quickly, as a windfall, because I can't think of anywhere it can come from. Don't let anyone get hurt, protect all the members of my family, let no death or illness come as a result, but do whatever it takes to get this money to me by the time I need it. Go, go now, and manifest this amount by this date. Hurry, and as the flame on the candle continues to burn after this rite, so also let this rite continue to full completion even if I'm not watching and monitoring you. Go now, go quickly, I need this money now. Go, in Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen."

That's not exact, and the tone doesn't come through as well, but there was definitely a touch of anxiety and stress in the rite. The candle piece wasn't exactly like that, but that was the intent of the prayer at least. I can't remember the precise words. I may start recording rites on video so I can go back and check and see WTF I said when the results start coming in. There needs to be a record. Football players watch themselves in film to see how what they were doing really worked in real life from the outside. Maybe I'll learn something by watching that I'm missing.

And maybe I'll capture a DEMON on FILM!!! And then I'll totally email it to Lisiewski and be all, "Boomerang effect!? What?! What!?"

Heh heh heh...  I crack me up.

But seriously, my mood at the time of the conjuration was a bit hysterical. I was very stressed, and very anxious. The resulting means of acquiring the funds was an amplification of the anxiety and stress I felt as I did the ritual. Especially during the times that the checks were manifesting, there was resting hysteria level in our lives that is very similar in quality to the hysteria of the moment of conjuration. The method of manifestation mirrored the mood of the magic.*

I wonder how much, if at all, that played into the manifestation. Perhaps that's why the Ascetic path teaches to overcome the passions of the heart and mind, to be able to consciously clear them out of your head while you're doing the magic that makes the world.

Not that passions are bad, per se. They feel good, and in moderation have a role to play. A little controlled anxiety, like the suspense thriller movie or horror film "gotchas" that jump out at you can be good. Life without orgasm would just plain old fashioned suck, big time.

I'm thinking back over my past successes and failures thinking about how my mood at the time of the rites may have affected my manifestation. The Michael rite was desperate too, and the way it manifested left me desperate. The Tzadqiel rite was done without much hope or anticipation. The results fit that nicely.

I just have to be very careful of the Ispaklarioth Effect.** Ispaklarioth is Hebrew for "lenses."*** The Ispaklarioth Effect is when you look back on your life through the lens of one experience. I'm looking back at the rites I did through the lens of the hypothesis that mood affects manifestation, so I'm finding in my memory banks evidence to support it. I may be altering the memories, editing them, adding bits here and there, ignoring what doesn't fit so that I can support my latest theory. It's not a safe practice, and I suspect it leads to a great deal of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, poor scientific and magical practice, and likely has caused the end of more than one friendship.

But lenses don't always distort the light coming through, sometimes they align it. A polarized lens in prescription glasses or sunglasses lines up the photons of light before they hit your eye, clarifying what you're looking at. If you suffer myopia, a lens can correct that. The Ispaklarioth Effect can reveal a pattern of events and results that you've missed in a Eureka! moment, like the scientist who has done a thousand experiments trying to find the right hypothesis and then suddenly, after the last failed experiment sees a trend or pattern in all the past failed experiments that reveals the right correction that results in the revelation of a sound theory.

I don't know if mood affects manifestation. I never recorded the rites I did, so I can't go back and evaluate the data objectively. That's another reason to start recording the rituals, and maybe a post-ritual summary of events that I can review later.

But it's an interesting thing to think about, research, and start gathering data on. Record the mood during the rite. Just knowing I'll be accountable for the mood may be enough impetus to make me make sure I'm being thorough in my Work.

In the project management world, we have "Quality Assurance (QA)." That's a set of processes that have been developed to ensure the quality of the final end product. Periodically across the life cycle of the project, a QA person comes in and audits the project, checking to make sure the processes that were identified for the assigned tasks are actually being followed, and that any additional tasks that may have crept into the scope of the project have standards and procedures developed to ensure the task is done the same way each time, with only the necessary variations that come with any real life scenario. The QA auditor is not allowed to be affiliated with the project. They report to a separate set of managers, managers who don't have their raise and bonus tied to the findings of the audit the way a project manager does.

Obviously we don't all have access to a mentor or outside auditing agency who gives a shit enough about our magical practice to take the time and perform a thorough audit of our magical practice. The IOT used to make people keep a magical diary for a year before they could be admitted to the Order, but I don't know if anyone actually read the diaries. It would be pretty lame, boring, and would likely give you indigestion if you read the average chaoate's magical diary. The third time Cthulhu showed up, I'd get annoyed.

So we have to monitor our own quality, put in controls, checklists, and standards. They can't be too rigid, or you'd never be able to do magic. You have to keep it flexible enough to be able to conjure up Bune to do a quick exorcism of your cubicle as needed, or to bring riches through a performance review process that you didn't know was coming up, but there should still be some QA framework in place to make sure you're not in some kind of weird mood that may skew the results.

Hmmmm, sounds a lot like the kind of thing I was doing a couple years ago when my life was all stable and my magical practice was consistent and my results were consistently good.

I think I can track the turning point in my magical practice back to when I took the second job in November of 2008. From then on, I was harried, distracted, and generally lost focus. I should have scaled back my magical activities, and paid more attention to the details as things began spinning out of control. I let my stress overwhelm my common sense, and I wouldn't quit the job because I was a slave to the extra money. I stopped the regular practices, and started developing courses and teaching presentations instead of doing the foundational Work. I kept adding stress factors to my life instead of managing them. And while most of the additional stuff was Hierophantically motivated, the potential for making money with it was a key factor I have to recognize and accept.

Interesting. Again, I have to factor in the Ispaklarioth Effect, but still this is the kind of introspection that leads to a breakthrough in achieving harmony in discordant spheres.

* Alliteration makes my meandering machinations more meaningful. Mem Mem Mem, water, emotion, the Hanged Man. I may not be a modern qabalist, but I played one on the internet once.
** I made that up just now in this blog post. It's not a standard phrase, but it should be. It's pretty cool, you've got to admit. Sounds all magicey.
*** And is also the name of a group of wise magicians and kabbalistic Europeans, a cabal worthy of inheriting the Corpus Hermetica they have access to in Prague and London.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

More On Goetia

Those who have read my Modern Goetic Grimoire understand that "Goetia" is not a single grimoire, it is a path like any other, a philosophy, an approach to magic that is its own tradition, and extends back in time a lot longer than the Golden Dawn or even traditional Kabbalistic magical systems. If I were to ditch everything else and go fully Goetic in my practices, it wouldn't be any different than devoting myself to systems like Enochian, Trithemian, or even the Golden Dawn.

The demonization of the practice of Goetia is wrong at a philosophical and fundamental level. It's not historically accurate, either. Traditional Goety includes the conjuration of the celestial and the chthonic, gods and daimons, as well as ancestors, saints, and the shades of the dead. Santeros, Paleros, and Brujos today practice a similar magic to what was historically considered "Goetic" and they suffer the same kind of intellectual harassment Goetic magicians in the time of Iamblichus suffered. The Temple Priests didn't like that the commoners were conjuring gods and spirits to help people. They didn't like the competition. It's the same thing that the Church did to Witchcraft. The priests weren't tending the daily needs of their parishoners, so they turned to people who would. The Establishment doesn't like competition, and they created doxology to demonize the practices that focused on meeting the mundane needs of the people, food, sex, shelter, and prosperity.

Any system that is complete will address not only your spiritual relationship with God, that is, your relative position to God however he manifests to you, but also your physical relationship to the world around you. Religion tends to be overly weighted towards the spiritual side of things and eternity. The Lemegeton's Goetia tends to be overly weighted towards the temporal and physical side of things. The true practice of Goety is a balance of both. Blaming Goetia for my fire is a really shallow and expedient thing to do.

Look at what happened to Voudoun when Haiti had their earthquake. It got blamed for the catastrophe. Thousands of people every year benefit from Voudoun, but is anyone trumpeting the success in the face of pointed criticism? Is anyone blaming an occult pact between Satan and Chile for the latest earthquake? How about Indonesia and their Tsunami?

Goetia is a system of magic that can be very fulfilling. You can accomplish the West's "Great Work" using Goety, no matter what Agrippa and Iamblichus said about it. It's not easy, it takes self-discipline, and a strong connection to the Source. Just like any other form of magic. It helps a lot to have the HGA around too. Just like any other form of magic.

Focusing on the terrestrial and Chthonic aspects will result in a lot of opportunities for growth, but gold and silver are refined by going through the fire, not by sitting there in the ore. Anyone attempting to focus on Goetic magic as a spiritual system of growth will need to include the celestial aspects as well, and some form of relationship with the Highest in order to make real progress, in my opinion, but there are ample opportunities in the system for that exact purpose. The same pitfalls are in Goetia that are in the Golden Dawn or Thelema or Hasidic Judaism.

Pride, fear, anger, greed, lead to the Dark Side they do.It's a HUMAN thing. The spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia have a bad reputation. But when you really look at what's going on in the fiascoes that people say "prove" that the spirits are really "demons," you'll see a lot of blame shifting and avoidance of responsibility.

I've had too many positive results from the spirits of the Goetia to say they are inherently dangerous to work with by nature. Even the fire in the house was a success, if you judge solely on the basis of whether I got what I asked for. They are incredibly effective at what they do. They just have to be handled with care.

The same is true of any system of magic. Members of the Supernatural Assistant course went through hell to get their HGA contact. Tiphareth initiations are symbolized by the Cross because you feel like you're being fucking crucified. You really do die to yourself, and no one can understand what that means until they've been through it.

My experience with the Goetia doesn't support the idea that the system itself is corrosive. I've worked with all the ranks of the spirits, and have conjured 21 of the 72 spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia at last count, most on more than one occasion. My house only burned down once. Yeah, it sucks, but statistically, it's not a bad record. I'm getting my basement remodeled into a single master bedroom, my kitchen upgraded to granite counter tops and steel appliances, new carpeting, all the hardwood floors refinished and sealed, and new paint in every room in the house. I got rid of 10 years worth of useless accumulated crap that I've learned I really don't need to live. I'm more responsible and mature than I've ever been in my life. Patterns of behavior have changed, and are continuing to change. I see the world differently, and my life today is better than it has ever been. I spent Sunday playing with my kids instead of crouched over a computer screen typing about my latest conjuration for lottery winnings, or a new job. I'm enjoying the wealth I already have instead of trying to go after some imagined state of existence that probably doesn't exist. I'm more aware of how wealthy I really am than I've ever seen before.

And that's all the result of my Work with the Goetia. Is that bad?

"Yeah, but your house burned down!"

Thank God! That's what it took! Shit that's been wearing me down and killing all my progress for years came to the surface where it had to be addressed. It took a house fire to teach me that. That's how stubborn and ignorant I can be. Do I now say it was evil? Hell no.

And you can't either. You don't know me, or what I think or do while I'm away from the computer, really. You don't know where I was at with my relationship to God, or the level of initiation I was at. You don't know what the spirits were putting me through in their efforts to accomplish an overall grand and good plan that was hatched in the Mind of God for my personal benefit. You don't know enough to form an accurate opinion that applies to me.

You can look at what I say, what I've been through, and form your own opinion about how you would deal with things differently or the same, but be careful not to fall into the trap of demonizing Goetia just because bad things happened to me. I already posted about Michael costing me my job and Tzadqiel getting me a job that paid less. Some day I'll write about the conjuration of the Elemental Princes, and yes, it was painful going through each of the elemental kingdoms, but yes, it was also worth it.

On analysis from afar

POS means well in his On Goetia post, but he's a bit off in his analysis of my obsession and his opinions on the Goetia. He, like many Leos, thinks he's right, but isn't, and no amount of telling him he's wrong will change his mind until he gets it for himself. (It's too bad he's not a cool and considerate Taurus like myself, because I never do anything like that, ever, ever. No, REALLY.)

POS says:

The first sign of a goetic spirit working going awry is obsession. The constant need to work with the spirit, give it energy, give it praise etc. This is what will get you burned eventually. This can be seen in ROs work by simply reading his blog.  The error was in the obsession. The obsession led to playing fast and loose.
With all the respect he truly deserves, POS doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. I wrote a lot about the Goetic work and Bune in particular because that's what people responded to the most. I was also writing a book on Goetia in general. It is fun and exciting. I catered my blog posts to the audience, because I'm a WRITER. That's what I do.

As to a "constant need to work with the spirit," I hadn't done any Bune work before getting laid off this summer in a long, long time. He makes it seem like I was under a compulsion to Work with Bune, enthralled by the spirit into giving him "energy" and praise. The truth is, I had to blow the dust off his spirit pot when I started working with him again. Over the last 4 years, I've done maybe a dozen rituals with Bune, including the three weeks that I did a ritual every Friday. The presentation POS is making is twisted and wrong.

I wasn't obsessed with the spirit, I was desperate for money. Doing magic in desperation was the error, lack of planning, lack of forethought. Lack of strategy.

POS then says:
"A more subtle sign is forgetting it is present at all in your life. Untended gardens grow weeds. Untended demons crack the asphalt and allow weeds to infiltrate your foundation."
In other words, if I'm doing a lot of Work with Bune, it's dangerous, but if I'm not doing a lot of Work with Bune, it's dangerous too. Because why?

POS provides the answer:
"classes of spirits tend toward their average behavior. The average behavior of a demon is, well, demonic!"
There it is! The Spirits of the Goetia are DEMONS!!! Angels who rebelled against God, and are secretly going to trap the soul of the magician who dares dabble with them for eternal service to SATAN!!!

Ok, POS doesn't likely believe that, but I've met people online who do. It's the same basic belief that permeates the cloud of magic around any spirit that any human has ever said was a demon.

This idea that the Spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia in particular are dangerous is stupid. I mean, they are dangerous, but so is all magic. I did Solar Work with Michael of the Sun and lost my job because of how I worded the ritual. I spent a long time planning that ritual, a long time learning the seals, getting the astrological timing just right, and then I botched it by emphasizing getting wealth "without having to work for it." I stressed that part of the rite the most because I didn't want to have to work for a living any more. In terms of global humanity, I made more money in the time I was unemployed than 90% of the population on the planet. The ritual was a success from the viewpoint of an eternal spirit dipping their wings into the maelstrom of manifestation.

It sucked to go through from this side.

Are the spirits of the Heptameron, the Kabballah, Agrippa, and Trithemius all to be viewed with the same distrust and concern that POS thinks should be given to the spirits of the Lesser Key? Is the Archangel of Tiphareth to be treated like an evil spirit? No, of course not. All magic should be treated with respect and a healthy touch of fear. There's a reason Mars-Geburah is the sphere that was known as Pachad, or FEAR. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

The spirits of the Goetia aren't "ZOMG, DEMONS!!1!1!" There is no spirit that ever rebelled against God, no matter what any book or ecclesiastical interpreter of Holy Script might try to tell you. All spirits are manifestations of God. The ones that do evil are doing God's evil, whether that fits in your opinion of God's goodness and mercy and grace or not. All things work together for good for those who love God.

The "demons" are also manifestations of God. They're links on the chain of manifestation. They operate within the boundaries of their existence just like we operate within the boundaries of our own existence. They're only spirits, they don't have an evil agenda.
I do think I was obsessed, but not by the spirits of Goetia in general, or Bune in particular. I was obsessed with money. That was the main problem, the biggest lesson I had to learn in the last few years. I was a slave to cash, in a really unhealthy way. My magical activities in the mundane world touched on local and global politics, from time to time, but the majority of the practical Work I've done in the last three years has been all about getting "rich." That obsession led to my troubles.

If I had conjured Bune into the Spirit Pot, and then all my Work after that hinged entirely on that one tool, I would be the first to concede that he had a point. If I ditched all my Work and focused solely on Working the Spirits of the Lemegeton's Goetia (I'll write another blog post about Goetia later) to the exclusion of all else, I might even say he had a valid reason for saying what he did.

But I live my life every minute of every day. I see what I do, I know why I do what I do. I have a deep and intimate understanding of my motivations that POS can never have. I've been obsessed with cash as the true measurement of wealth and happiness for years longer than I've been a magician. My mother warned me about my outlook on money when I was a teenager. It's been a constant source of trouble. I never wanted to learn to manage my finances responsibly, I always wanted to just make more money. I hopped from job to job in pursuit of a bigger net paycheck, regardless of what it was costing me in benefits, tenure, or professional respect. I was a mercenary, and it sucks to live like a mercenary.

For him to present my catastrophe as the result of Working with the Lesser Key is simply wrong. It's taking my experience, which he can't relate to, and using it to support his pre-formed opinion of the class of spirits. It's not only wrong, it completely misrepresents the true and fundamental lesson that people should be learning from my error: don't be obsessed with cash as the only means to measure wealth.

If you go back over my Work carefully, you'll see that one of the first things I did with the Trithemian system was to conjure Tzadqiel of Jupiter to get rich. What happened? I got a job making less and had to focus on trimming my budget to live within my means. If I had continued my Work with the Jupiter spirits, I suspect the long term results would have been the establishment of patterns of behavior that lead to the accumulation of wealth. I didn't want that, I wanted to get rich quick. So I conjured a spirit closer to manifest reality and landed a job paying a lot more.

But that didn't fix anything. I spent more than I made, and that's what keeps me desperate. I have a lot of skills and talents, I have a good understanding of how to make money, but as long as I spend more than I make, I will be poor. I'm flexible and entrepreneurial. I'm just a fool when it comes to spending money. My spending sabotages my ability to accumulate wealth.

That's the real problem. Saying "The Devil made me do it!" is disingenuous and ... well, it's just a bullshit cop out. I have K&CHGA, I have access to the powers that formed the universe, I have training and skill, but I was LAZY and didn't bother to do the Work the way I know you're supposed to do it. That's not the fault of the spirits. That's the fault of the magician.

Now, I know that spirits do "obsess" people. It's different than possession, there's a lot less head spinning 360 degrees and pea soup vomit. It is subtle, it is damaging, but the fact is, people who are performing the Great Work develop an immunity to this kind of thing. The Abramelin rite talks about how the lower spirits can't stand being in the presence of the holiness of the HGA. The Bible talks about how you can't see the Face of God and live. The Work I do with the seven planetary archangels, the relationship I have with God, the contemplation I do of my Source builds up a spiritual barrier that keeps off the nepheshim and other detrimental spirits. It's the nature of initiation.

Granted, while stressing over the lack of money, I did let a lot of other things slip. I didn't listen to my HGA much, I didn't pray much (except for a couple of weeks for the SA Course, but I let that slip too), and I wasn't doing the nightly ascension through the spheres that I advocate.

The role of the "Evil Daimon" is to punish the impious to drive them back to God. In all honesty, when I'm broke, I don't go to God, I go for money. I go to god to ask for money, true, and my Work with Bune and the other spirits is possible because of my relationship with God, but I don't get my strength from my relationship with God when I'm desperately conjuring spirits to manifest wealth. I'm obviously getting my strength from "wealth." Money makes for a bad God.

None of this is new information, I've personally heard the same basic lesson a few hundred times from preachers, pastors, gurus, hippie mystics, and other spiritual writers for years. It took losing the house temporarily to see that basic lesson. Bune, even if he was acting in the role of "Evil Daimon," succeeded in getting me closer to God, and refocused on the practical application of the Great Work. If I'd spent those hours of conjuring the spirits to get me money on taking care of what I already had been given by the spirits, the flame-out in the water heater wouldn't have had anything to catch on fire. My spouse told me I needed to clean out that room two weeks before the fire, but I didn't think it was that important.

Was Bune responsible for that? Did he make me lazy? Did he feed on my greed, cultivate scenarios that resulted in me having to turn to him so he could get "energy" and praise? If he is, then he's got a broad reach. Hell, he must have gone back in time and planted the seeds of my greed in my youth, influencing my character flaws from the time I was a baby just so he could tap into the resulting greed in my present and recent past! It's totally not my fault at all, it's all Bune's fault!

Horse shit.

The worst thing I could do is take this fire and blame it on my activity with Bune. POS isn't my only friend who implied that the Goetia is the reason I've had all these problems. It's a ready scapegoat, it fits their personal prejudices against Goety nicely. It's easy to sit outside someone's life and decide you know what they need to learn. It's a lot easier to blame demonic forces than to accept that being human includes having character flaws that need to be overcome.

Any kind of magic will result in painful periods of time. This house fire was NOTHING compared to the excruciating pain I went through leading up to attaining K&CHGA. If you want a life without pain, don't bother incarnating. It doesn't work that way. Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. (Princess Bride quote, points!)

Everyone I know who does the Great Work has problems in life. Some people have deep relationship issues, others have financial difficulties, while others have physical illnesses crop up along the way. To learn a spiritual lesson, we suffer physical and emotional hardships. Pain leads to joy. It's the nature of the beast.

People who don't consciously do the Great Work suffer too. People who never conjured a spirit in their lives had their house catch on fire last year. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes are happening to people who have been ridden by Loa and to Evangelicals and to Catholics and to secular humanist atheists alike. Shit happens. "The rain falls on the just and the unjust." Most people try to apply meaning to the catastrophic events of life, and some people apply positive meanings while others apply negative ones.

It would be so fucking easy to just hang up my spurs, blame all my suffering on spirits and move on with my life. But that won't fix anything at all. I choose to apply the meaning that will result in not needing to conjure Bune weekly to maintain my wealth.

I think POS's commentary on Goetia is the same mentality as the Evangelicals blaming the Earthquake in Haiti on a pact with Satan. I disagree with his interpretation. It's easy to reach conclusions you already have established. It's a lot harder to look at the whole picture and assess the root of the problem at its most fundamental level, seeing the failures within that led to the calamity, take ownership of it, and then make the necessary and tedious, annoying, difficult changes to the self that come as a result.

But this isn't the Big Easy, it's the GREAT WORK. No one said you get to take the easy way out.


Uh, I was annoyed that Jason's post was necessary. His critics, well-intended gentlemen or not, have spent more time reading about magic than doing it. I need a better pejorative than "arm-chair magician." I think mageling is closer.

But I was not annoyed with Jason personally, just the fact that existence conspired in a way to make his post necessary.

Monday, March 08, 2010

On Goetic (and other) Approaches

Jason's post Friday is irritating. It reveals a number of things that annoy me, and they're all about how people are in general, and occult people specifically.

I got mentioned in there as a potential warning for those who do Goetia. I don't think he meant it that way, but I can see how some people would read it that way. Just in case they do, I'm going to be clear:


I have to be careful how I word things because the internet is notorious for bringing the wrong impression. People say things that can be taken in a thousand ways, and you can't hear my tone or see the expression on my face (or the hair sticking straight up off my skull like Einstein's; there are benefits to this faceless typing that I am grateful for).

It wouldn't have mattered if I were using Agrippa's Spirits of the Planetary Tables, the Archangels of the Spheres, or lighting candles in front of icons of Saints. Any system that I used and gave such generic and open-ended direction would have as much potential to burn down the house. Magic isn't a fucking game. I played fast and loose, and I got burned. That's how it works.

Since then I've backed off, not because I'm scared or because Goetia is EVIL, but because I found out I have areas of weakness to address before I go off conjuring up spirits with the level of power and potential that impact me, my family, and my work. People rely on me, and I am human. Add stress, and I make mistakes. More stress, more mistakes. It's exponential.

The idea that is at the core of Jason's post is that people who use alternate methods to conjure the spirits of the Goetia are incurring more risk than those who stick to the recipe, follow the directions, and do everything "by the book." From what I can tell, people who want to follow the book can generally be classified into two camps: those who want to see a demon, and those who have little experience. The first group I can understand, but I think they're silly. The second group I can also understand, and I expect them to relax a bit as they go along.

The spirits listed in the Goetia existed long before the "Solomonic" tradition existed. The history of the Lemegeton's Goetia is detailed in the research of Joe Peterson. You can see by comparing the different manuscripts that emerged at different times in the Renaissance that it was an evolving system that had a lot of gaps early on that were filled in and smoothed over as the drafts were rewritten, reinterpreted, and as the philosophy of the system was filled in. It went from a system used by a couple of mavericks and outcasts to a comprehensive system that fit nicely into the toolkit of a magician Working on the Great Work.

I think what really scares people about the Goetia is that the spirits listed really work the way they're described, or pretty close anyway. Spirits who are supposed to be useful in the area of love really are useful in the area of love. Spirits who bring riches really do bring riches. It's a system that works really well, and unlike most grimoires, it's pretty complete and comprehensive. The only more-complete system in a mini-grimoire form that I've found is the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. It's spartan though, and doesn't talk a lot about what the spirits can do.

The bottom line is that no matter what methodology you use to conjure Bune, whether it's a spirit pot, a petition like Jason's, or the full Lemegeton method (the fully developed one) with a circle on the floor and a lion's skin belt and everything, if you just tell the spirit to fetch you money without letting anyone get hurt or killed, they're going to have too little direction to manifest the results in a way that is completely safe.

Now at this point, I've realized that there will always be something that I miss when I try to conjure a spirit and tell it to go do something. I can't cover every possibility. There are mitigating things I should have done, like divination, planning, and basically having a real strategy in place. Any time a magician does a rite out of desperation, they're opening themselves up to a huge risk.

The responsibility of being a magician is strongly underrated, especially when you realize how many lives ones own mistakes can impact. I had a long series of successful works with Bune under my belt when I started the weekly "maintenance" rites that ended up leading to the downfall. It was a wrong turn, and I've paid the price. But it was my failure, not Bune's, not the system of conjuration I used.

This conjure magic thing is not an exact science by any means. I commented on Magian Ruminations the other day that I'm sitting at the cracks between the realms listening for voices that sound a lot like my own thoughts. I know that spirits are real, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they're all "in my head." I'm just saying there is no one formula for success when it comes to conjure magic. Every mage with the balls or ovaries to step into the Circle and conjure up a spirit is performing an experiment with the forces that affect the very manifestation of existence. There's a lot that can go wrong. I can't find my keys and badge for work some days, let alone being able to plan for every potential misinterpretation of direction given to entities with vast power and a completely different frame of reference to my own.

Whatever technique you use to get yourself in front of a spirit, never make the mistake of thinking you know how the ritual will end up manifesting in your life. Remember it's always going to be an experiment. Even if you have every seal and sigil and god name spelled just right in the appropriate script and you've somehow managed to be the only person on the planet with the true and accurate pronunciations of the barbarous words, you're still the man or woman in the Circle that you are outside the Circle. Any direction given to the spirits can and most likely will manifest in ways other than you expect, even if it is exactly what you intend. It's the nature of the system.

But dammit, no one knows how to pronounce the Barbarous Words. Astaroth was around for millenia before Solomon was a twinkle in Bathsheba's eye. We learned how to conjure the spirits from the spirits themselves. Any system that establishes bi-directional communication with them is a valid system. The effects of conjuring the spirit are determined by a million things, your level of initiation, your level of experience, your personal life history, and most importantly, how you actually direct the spirit in the rite. These factors all come into play, but no one can tell you with any accuracy that if you conjure a spirit under circumstances XYZ, the precise manifestation QRS will be the result. We're flying blind with a set of instruments few can even read, and fewer still can explain.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

You gotta read: The Arbatel Project

Magian Rumination, the blog of "The Scribbler" is going to be running a series of posts on his experiences with the Arbatel. I've talked to him offline a couple of times about this project, and I'm really looking forward to seeing his experiences, and his treatment of them as a writer. I've been through all his older blogs, and I've come to enjoy his writing style a great deal.

The introductory post is up, "Confessions of a Clueless Animist." I strongly recommend this series to people who enjoy my own blog. His insights into magic are those of a born Conjurer. I think spirit conjure magic is what draws a lot of people to this blog, and this promises to be an insightful treatment of one of the most complete grimoires we have access to.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

All Courses Canceled and (ugh) Refunded

Due to the really long time it's taking me to get my shit together, I've canceled and refunded all of the second round of courses I sold right after the fire. It was a really stupid idea to even try to run any courses during this time.

For those interested in the courses anyway, I'm working with Jason Miller to take over teaching the courses. His work and my own have a similar vibe, and he's got years of experience and wisdom on me. He's the only one I would trust to walk people through the Red Work series of courses as I originally envisioned it.

My apologies to all who signed up and were wondering for months WTF was going on.