Friday, June 27, 2008

Outgrowing the Goetia

Someone mentioned on a list that "When you really know yourself, the Goetia is not needed any more." Personally, I think that's one of the more retarded, but also self-explanatory statements I've ever seen.

I use the Goetia style of magic because it is an effective means to accomplish mundane Work. There are things you need to have done, and you need to have them done by spirits who are closer to the material realm than the Angels and Intelligences of the celestial spheres. When you "know yourself" as a magician, you also know what your role is in the manifestation and maintenance of creation. If someone hasn't figured out that their role as a magician is going to require them to perform Goetic magic on occassion, then, well, ok then. There you have it.

But why would someone think that? Once again, people have watered down Magic to include some really weak and stupid thoughts. If the nimrod that posted the above statement had spent more time studying where he came from and his celestial and material brothers and sisters, he'd know a lot more about himself than he does. But in "Knowing himself," he hasn't bothered to look beyond himself.

You CANNOT "Know Yourself" if you do not look BEYOND your SELF.

Bad news, narcisists, it's not all about you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Great Moments of Courage

Have you ever had a moment like this in your magical voyages?

If not, don't worry, your day is coming.

In recent discussions about the Four Powers of the Sphinx, spurred on by Patrick's article over at Rending the Veil, I felt a lot like the guy trying to figure out the backwards b.

I couldn't figure out why "Daring" was a big deal. It's really not. If you want to be a magician, be one. If you don't, then just go the fuck away. Don't whine to me about how scary it is to do magic because it really works, or how humans are inherently afraid of change. Bah.

I know, it's all valid, it's all true. People can go nuts about doing magic. People can have bad things happen physically, like blowing out their gall bladder or something. You can try to make a Moon Child using Goetic Spirits and Enochian Angels, and end up obsessed over numbers. Weird shit can happen. Seriously. Weird shit.

Ok, but...

So what? Who giveth the flying fuck? There's nothing any more scary about magic than anything else you do in life. It's no more dangerous than waking up, and I do that almost every single day! Chances are, you do too. Anything can happen, at any time. You're just waiting there about to die every second, in blissful ignorance most of the time, until its for serious for real. You don't know what tomorrow will bring.

But! We do know that people with no interest in the occult get haunted and possessed. We know people who aren't magicians ALSO have been known to have mental breakdowns. People who don't do magic have their gall bladders go up all the time. Obsession with numbers happens a lot, check out OCD statistics, and autism reports. No "occult" study going on, just normal people going through the exact same shit magicians go through.

The difference is that people are just more likely to blame shit that happens on magic if you're doing magic. That's all.

A lady broke down in tears this year at school when she dropped off her kid. She was doing "Day Care" during the day to three other kids, and the stress was grinding away at her sanity like corn between he mill stones. That's not normal.

If she was a magician though, if she'd ever worked with the Goetia, that's what would get the blame.

Are there risks in magic? I suppose. Should you be careful? Definitely. But should you need any more courage to face magic than you do the rest of your life?

I think not.

Chthonic vs. Celestial

Jake Stratton-Kent wrote the following explanation of his views on the Goetia as a genre (not just a grimoire in a grimoire). I've found the information Jake presented really useful in discussions with Goetic and Celestial entities alike since first reading it, and he was kind enough to let me post it here.

Chthonic versus Celestial
by Jake Stratton-Kent

All ancient religions differ from modern religions in several major respects. We're used to seeing things from a cultural perspective at least partly defined by what is known as *Revealed Religion*, in which *Revelation* (ultimately in the form of a Book) is received from on high (what we might term the *Celestial* region). The centre of gravity of this type of religion is the Celestial region, even though other realms of experience are considered - such as Earth, Hell and the physical universe in general.

Ancient religions, and 'primitive' religion generally, is significantly different. Collectively they are termed Natural Religion (not to be confused with Nature Religion) which in contrast with Revelation from the Celestial realm evolves from the ground up, via deductive reasoning and observation of the world, including perceived supernatural components. It's centre of gravity is Chthonic - it is notable that the Greeks at every stage of religious development considered the Earth the source of oracular power (contrasting Oracles with Revelations). Note again that this centre of gravity does not exclude consideration of other regions of experience, and thus gods of
thunder, Sun, Moon etc. are not excluded by this focus.

In the subsequent development of Greek religion the Celestial gained in importance, while the Chthonic powers for a long time retained divine status (notwithstanding some unpleasant characters in the underworld and elsewhere). My comparison of goetia with African Traditional Religions is intended to reflect this earlier status, and the chthonic 'centre of gravity' from which it evolved. The comparison is part of an effort to provide a position from which the pre-devaluation form of goetia may be understood in something like its own terms. In the past - whether in traditional sources, later publications or in discussions on the internet - goetia and dealing with the underworld has almost invariably been seen and described in terms of the later 'Revealed Religion' and has assumed the Celestial centre of gravity. That this gives an entirely false idea of how goetia originally operated - prior to devaluation - is obvious once this is taken on board. Otherwise it is very difficult to get past the perspective of Revealed Religion etc. which has prevailed in our culture for upwards of 2000 years.

Additional perspective may be useful: the 'goetia' implicit in my usage is what Cumont called the 'coarse and ancient goetia'; rites which preceded the adoption of supposed Persian 'magic' by the Greeks. That one survived alongside the other does not detract from the fact they had different frames of reference. In later magic goetia is not understood in its own original terms, having become a survival within a host tradition with another perspective. My use of chthonic and
celestial refers to this aspect of the discussion, and as should be obvious I'm interested in recovering the perspective of goetia rather than of the host tradition (with which we're all familiar in various guises).

How to be an Uber-cool Magician and Never Pay Taxes Again

Ha! Yeah right.

Anyway, here are some random thoughts about why I haven't experienced the same level of creeping chaos in my life as I've been working with Goetic spirits.

Generally, I think, people who have the creeping chaos had the seeds for it already there in their lives before beginning their Goetic Work.

Most magical traditions in the West have a methodology of identifying the parts of the self that are out of harmony with the rest of the universe and bringing them into harmony. In the Golden Dawn, for instance, this can take the form of initiations. In Alchemy, there is the Black stage where the impurities of the base ingredients are brought to the surface, the White stage where the impurities are burned to ash, and the Red stage, when the essence of the original ingredients is purified and transformed into the Philosopher's Stone.

This purification process is essential, in my opinion. It happens as you do the Work. When you begin the Work, you're supposed to start where you're at, and then ascend through the heavens to your Source, and then return to the earth in great power. That's the methodology laid out in the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. The human being descends from the heavens through the elements into the flesh of the Earth. Through theurgical rituals, we ascend through the spheres of the heavens. As we do, the impurities get burned away, and when we return to the earth, we do so in power, and from this process the universe is continuously created.

I didn't jump ahead in the process. I started with making contact with my HGA. Based on the translation of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin by Mathers, I thought that after I had made contact with my HGA I was required to conjure the Four Kings of Hell, and all their servants, and get four familiars. Since that translation didn't have all the seals of the demons you're supposed to work with, I thought I would substitute the Goetia, as it's more complete. Or so I thought at the time.

Since my HGA was the only spirit I'd ever conjured, I figured I'd get my feet wet by Working with the Archangels of the Sephiroth. I looked for a quick and easy conjuration method, and found Trithemius' Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. This technique is pretty straightforward and readily adaptable. It also only focuses on the seven Planetary Archangels. I was learning more about neoplatonism at the time, and this fit my personal understanding of the universal cosmology and spiritual hierarchies anyway, so I went with it.

As I conjured each of the Archangels, I asked them to "purify the tincture of my sphere." I went through various issues as a result (although honestly, it wasn't that hard to deal with). I also built up my own sphere by interacting with these beings over a period of about a year. By the time I got back to the Goetic entities, I had already performed the ascension part. I knew where I belonged in the cosmic hierarchy, understood my race and value from an eternal perspective, and was ready to assume my role as the administrator of my physically manifest realm. There was no room for the Goetic spirit to cause chaos. There was no reason for it to, either.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Powers of the Sphinx in Rending the Veil

I just finished reading an article on the Four Powers of the Sphinx by Patrick Dunn in the latest edition of Rending the Veil. I liked it, a lot. I usually get annoyed when the subject of the Four Powers of the Sphinx comes up. I'm not silent about my Work, I talk about it all the time. I'm not convinced that the "Will" has ever been properly identified in a magickal context. Daring and Knowledge didn't strike me much as being more than a passing Captain Obvious reference. (As in, way to go, Captain Obvious!)

But Patrick Dunn's article treats the subject in a way I've never seen presented before. I'm no postmodernist, but I still could grasp what he was saying and see how it made the Powers of the Sphinx into something useful, instead of being a puss-filled boil on magic's backside.

The full article is located via this link. Click the underlined part, dude, or the Title of this post. It's well worth the read.

Captain OBVIOUS!!!

Greetings faithful (and faithless hell-bound-heathen) readers! I should probably start a regular series of Captain Obvious posts. I do seem to make a lot of mistakes that in retrospect turn out to be pretty hard to have missed in the first place.

Today's is a simple lesson I learned while Mercury was Retrograde.

I've had a rough Mercury Retrograde. It wasn't too terribly bad with technological issues, but communications were sucky on many lists. And two or three times I got pissed at someone on a message board and wanted to curse them. :sigh:

After years of doing the Work now, at a pretty clipped pace, I've gotten to a point where I really take it for granted that I'm a sane, rational, and pretty emotionally well-balanced person. So when I found myself thoroughly ticked off at really stupid things, I was a little surprised. I conjured Kammael on a Tuesday to fix whatever was messed up in my Martial sphere, and things settled down quickly.

Anyway, I've learned a valuable lesson. I didn't curse anyone, and instead behaved politely and respectfully, and apologized even, when I was wrong or at least rude about being right. And guess what? These people I wanted to "teach a lesson to" all turned out to be friendly when the dust settled.

Yes folks, that's right! If you're nice to people, they can be your friends!

Ok, so Captain Obvious gets a Sesame Street Lesson out of life. Only without the muppets.

Friday, June 06, 2008

My HGA said it was fine, but Jesus won't let me curse him

As sometimes happens on occult message boards, a minor spat recently broke out. I had the audacity to tell someone how spirits work, and they were completely offended, even though they have never conjured a spirit in their life. How DARE I try to force my beliefs down someone else's throat, right?

I mean yeah, that's what I do all the time. I hang out behind abortion clinics with a Bible and a two-by-four, and when the women leave, at their most vulnerable, I teach them to do candle magic using the Psalms under penalty of many beatings. Oh, I make them read Timaeus and the Corpus Hermeticum at gunpoint too. Because that's the kind of magician I am.


So anyway, one thing lead to another, and I had the urge to curse him, to teach him a lesson. Nothing major, just an initiation into Working with Spirits. The first lesson is recognizing the spirits are real and present. The best way to learn that is to have one pop up at 3:33 a.m. and say, "Hi!" while holding a Bible, some candles, a two-by-four, and copies of Timaeus and the Corpus Hermeticum. All in separate hands.

At least in my humble opinion.

So I picked the spirit, made sure it was something he could do. I checked in with my Agatha Daimon/HGA, and he said nothing particularly bad would happen as a result. As usual, he was not very forthcoming with helpful advice on how to torment the people I'm stuck sharing the planet with. I've learned not to ask.

So, with confirmation from my Daimon, and the Spirit ready and willing, I was all set to send off a Mercurial entity to mess with the dude's life. A little bit. For fun. All I had to do was wait for the appropriate time to do the ritual.

So I killed some zombies.

After dying to a particularly cheatin' ass Devil's fireball that totally should have missed me, I waited patiently for the game to get to the level where the weapons started getting really good. I felt this sudden urge to meditate, a sensation like I was being called by a very familiar Voice.

I immediately moved my little guy behind some barricades, checked to make sure I didn't need to pause the game, and answered that still small voice of my Lord.

The conversation wasn't in words, exactly, but it went something like this:

"Hey, Jesus, how's it going?"

"Not bad, I still hate that M&M joke, and I still forgive you for telling it. Again."

"Heh heh, yeah..."

"Look, about cursing that incompetent ignorant uppity arrogant pipsqueak on that message board..."

"Yeah? He's got it coming, my HGA said it's cool, and he's my own embodiment of the Logos, right? He's like the Holy Spirit, so I can just do it, right, no problems?"

"No. Don't curse him."

"Oh, come on Jesus, please? He's totally asking for it. He wants to be cursed. I promise, it won't even hurt him. It'll just ruin his fun this week. And make him realize there's more to this magic stuff than he wants to admit. It's healthy!"

"Nope. No cursing him."

"Oh, alright, fine. Can I at least initiate him into Tiphareth via path 26 on the GD Tree of Life? That's not a curse, it's a blessing!"

"No. You can't use the Devil for your own revenge this time. When he goes that way, it's going to be part of my timing."

"He's not even a Christian!"

"I know."

Things went on, but that's the gist of it.

So I can't curse him. Lucky son of a bitch, too, let me tell you.

We talked about why the HGA said it was at least ok, and yet Jesus wouldn't let me. This messes with my understanding of the cosmos, after all. I tend to see my HGA as a little sliver of Christ that communes with the sliver of Christ in me. I tend to treat him as if he were Christ, in that I spend more time with him than with Jesus. He's got access to everything I could get directly from Jesus, and he's less awe-inspiring. I mean, he's awe-inspiring, but you know, it's like he's in a form I can understand differently and Work with differently than the form of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins. It's my problem, I know, but every time I look at the scars it reminds me.

So I asked Jesus about that. He said the HGA is my assistant, my helper spirit. Like a familiar at this point. It's not a moral compass. It doesn't care about "Right" or "Wrong." It knew this conversation would take place, and it went along with my plans anyway. I had relegated it in my expectations to a role it was content to function in for this particular task, and so Jesus stepped in on his own to explain things to me.

And explain things to me he did. The kid's got his own problems and isn't taking any of this as seriously as I am. He's just farting around on the internet, and here I sit in my perfect job (I asked to be chained to a desk in my house instead of being chained to a desk at an office, and I got it), surfing the internet all day, playing video games, and hanging out with my family while I manage the documentation of a project remotely. I've got nothing better to do with my time than curse the dude. I've also been itching to do some magic, but I've done everything I wanted to do.

So, Jesus set me up with some more interesting projects, better uses of my time. I learned a little bit more about the "HGA." I also learned a lot about the hypothalamus in the brain, and some other stuff.

Now, I can imagine how this sounds to a mostly non-Christian audience. Here's Frater R.O., the neo-platonic magician, a Christian Conjuror who summons spirits most Christians call demons, talking to Jesus.

Really though, it's not my fault. He called me.