Monday, July 18, 2011

Discussions on Y so Srs

Ok, so comments on Y so Srs? have provided good feedback that I think should get more traffic than they'll see if they stay in the comments section. I've pulled together the highlights to give the audience members who only read the posts a chance to see that there's more going on than just what gets posted. And to give advice from others in case my ignorance is more dangerous than I think.

First, I might be totally wrong in all this. One indicator is that someone said I was "in line with Bertiaux's ideas."


But besides that, I've been thinking about my approach to danger, too. I've been through some traumatic stuff as part of my explorations and experimentations, and I'm a bit jaded. Maybe, just maybe, the shit I had to deal with would have been avoided if I'd received proper instruction. Maybe the danger I see as a normal risk of magic isn't really normal.

But I have kind of a mad scientist aesthetic to my Work. Sometimes the whole lab blows up when Igor flips the switch. It's sort of where we're at in this process of revitalizing the Western traditions. As Aaron Letich says in the comments:
Western occultism is currently undergoing a new kind of renaissance. We've come down off our "my mysticism is holier than thine" attitude and are finally saying "Ok, we've wasted centuries, so let's start doing this right!"

Are we going to make mistakes? You bet! Some of us will burn our houses down. Some of us will have our heads eaten by the spirits we try to keep. And you know what? That's just how you ATR folks learned to do it thousands of years ago (and still do today!) - trial and error. Eventually you got it right and developed a sophisticated tradition with full community support.
And there's a lot that I don't know, too. Conjureman Ali points out the following fascinating stuff that I really wish I understood better:
I must disagree with your speculation on the nfumbe of the Palero. The spirit that is placed within the Prenda goes through a nigromantic process that produces a powerful spirit that is akin to a non-blood ancestor, imbued with the power of the Rada and becomes a powerful force of magic and guidance. It is more similar to a HGA then the resltess dead.
So with that useful feedback, I'm going to go back and do some more research. Based on what I know about the HGA and the Supernatural Assistant of the grimoires and the Greek Magical Papyri, I have a better understanding, but I'm sure there's more to it that I'm missing.

And getting back to the subject of danger, Jason's comments about how there's danger, and then there's danger helped me understand what he was getting at:
Dispelling the dead who have been sent in a curse IS a fairly easy task. Dispelling the dead who have been sent in a curse where graveyard dirt has been planted on the victims person and home, and items from that victims person and home have been planted in said grave is more complicated. (BTW definitely don't do that. Unless you really don't like someone.)

Dispelling the dead who have been bound and chained into a pot and a persons life, in a mini universe overseen by a Nzambi, and given a full on superhero like transformation, not to mention their own familiar spirits (there is for instance almost always a dogs bones in the Nganga for hunting down targets) is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

Furthermore in some ways the victim of such a spirit would be LUCKY to have their house burn down. That is a huge wake up call. Most of the time it is slow and insidious and takes the health and persona in a long and twisted fasion that is obvious to everyone BUT the person they are doing it to.
So playing with the dead can be more dangerous than your average magic, and you should be careful.

And finally, there's Dhr. Balthazar's comment from this morning:

Well, it's not that all the dead themselves are necessarily outright dangerous by their very nature, R.O. Nonetheless, the way in which you work with them can get very dangerous. Our discussion was about putting together muerto pots, and as I have been saying, this is something that requires for special care to be taken.

Generally speaking, the dead are a specialised area.

Which is why in the diaspora and in Africa you often tend to find a class of specialists who work with them alone, or in separated sub-system, even though there are other spirits or deities whom are the focus of the religion, such as the Orisa.

In Cuba you might say these are the paleros and more broadly the muerteros/espiritistas. Whilst the Santeros take care of the Orisa. Although, most santeros are also muerteros out of necessity because of what happened in the Diaspora during slavery. However, in addition there are other entirely separate priesthoods for the Egungun (ancestral dead) and the deified force of death, Iku, specifically. One of my godparents is an initiate in this kind of priesthood, for instance.

Similarly, in South Africa you have Nyanga and Sangoma - the Sangoma specialises in the ancestor spirits, while the Nyanga on the other hand is a general magical worker with a focus on herbal magic and medicine.

What I am saying is that in many of these traditions the dead are their own kettle of fish entirely. They are worked separately and in an entirely different way. They tend to have their own set of rules and taboos even though they are almost always considered the corner stone or foundation of the ATR systems. In certain sense you are basically working with the principal of death which, you know, is kinda a big deal if you think about it a bit.
And he's right. I don't specialize in the dead. To me, necromancy is a part of the overall Hermetic Great Work, but not the entirety of the thing. In my practice, knowing how to commune with the dead is enough for my creative work with them, and knowing how to help them out the door when they've overstayed their welcome is the rest of it.

If you want to work the Dead through a spirit pot, you can experiment and take the risks involved, or hold off until you have someone you know and trust who can teach you and be there to clean up any messes you might make of things.