Monday, August 24, 2009

TIme and Patience

Time is a Saturnine quality. Chronos was the name given to Saturn by the Greeks, the original Father Time. It's the first of the planetary spheres, and in KBL it is Binah, the sphere of form and sorrow. Traditionally, Saturn is the Greater Malefic astrologically, and is used in Goetic magic as the binding agent. In my early magical work,l I had an epiphany about Saturn and its effects when accessed through the sphere of the Sun. It wasn't nearly as "bad" as its reputation implies.

I wonder if I'm over-spiritualizing the concept, and that's why I'm having a hard time understanding Saturn's dark and evil reputation. I suspect that because it is the sphere of boundaries, and death is a boundary, people project "evil" onto Saturn because they associate death with evil. Saturn is definitely the sphere of Death, the end of the line, and the Grim Reaper is a valid image for the Intelligence of that sphere. But the harvest doesn't come until the crop is ready, and I'm at peace with death.

I see it as the same essential boundary as my birth, marking the place where I begin and end as this incarnation. I look forward to its coming with quiet anticipation, not because I wish I were dead, but because I'm interested in what happens next. I've got this plan to incarnate as something more than human next time around, you see, and my Work as a magician is geared towards that eventual transformation.

Because the final transformation I'm looking for occurs at death, I've made my peace with the concept, and as a result, I don't see it as a punishment or a frightening experience. I think that's why I tend to focus more on Saturn objectively as the Sphere of Time and Space, the essence of the spiritual boundaries we work within while incarnated.

I don't see the material realm we live in as being all that malefic. As a result I tend to overlook the negative impact of doing work while Saturn is afflicting my outcome. It's annoying, because Saturn really does provide detrimental influence on my Work that I don't expect because I'm all at peace with it. It's not considered the Greater Malefic because it brings health, wealth, and prosperity, after all.

But the point of this post is some recent observations I've had about time and patience. The first couple of weeks of being unemployed was a transition phase. My mind relaxed, and I adapted to a very different schedule and very different set of demands on my time. I realized that working in the rat race had completely altered my sense of priorities in life, and not in a particular pleasant way. It took at least two weeks, maybe even ten days of not going to work every day to realize that I had formed a weird stress addiction, and that I didn't know what to fill that part of my brain with now that I don't have the stress of work to fuel the anxiety.

The whole "I'm going to lose my house and car and everything I need to provide my family with what they need to grow up healthy, wealthy, and wise" thing provided plenty of anxiety at first, and that fulfilled my brain's addiction to stress quite nicely for a while. Eventually I reached a point of peace by Working the appropriate spirits and pursuing God with all my heart.

As the addiction to being a wage slave passed, I found that I'm much more patient. Having all this time available to me to do what I want when I want to makes the demands on my time much easier to manage. The kids interrupting me isn't going to make me miss a deadline or run late to the office. My wife interrupting me yet again over stupid things doesn't blow my train of thought out of the water. I mean, it does, but I'm not so stressed by other things that it's next to impossible to pick up the momentum again where I left off. The fear of not finishing what I'm working on in the little bit of time I have available is just gone. I like that a lot.

So for those of you still stuck in wage slavery, know that the end of all you base your security on does not destroy you, you learn that there is just enough time to do everything you need to do when you're not stuck in a place you hate for 8 hours plus the time to get there and get home. The things you think you have to work for have a way of taking care of themselves if they have to. While I don't recommend losing your job, I definitely recommend finding peace as soon as possible if you do.

If you're interested in Working on patience, take a look at your schedule. There's a good chance that the reason you're impatient is because you've got too much going on, or at least so much going on in any given day that you don't feel in control. Take an inventory of what you spend your time on, perform an exercise of creating a time budget. Observe for two weeks what you do each day, and how long it takes, and then when you have a good sample of your schedule, look at where you can make cuts in allocated time. Take a week or two to adapt to not having anything pressing to fill the time you free up. Don't schedule anything, in other words. Take a look at how your patience is doing after you've adapted to your new and improved schedule, and make additional cuts as needed.

The trick is to keep free time free. Life has many ways of filling up your spare moments with bullshit stressors, and that is exactly why we lose patience. The things that fill up empty time would have filled up your busy time anyway. You would have had to take care of it, or put it off until you had time and brain power to apply to it, and in that time it probably got harder to deal with. We get pissed when the unexpected comes into our already-busy schedule, or when we have to deal with something when we've already scheduled our time to deal with something else.

Sometimes we schedule our time with our expectations. Like I expect to be "at work" from 9-5, and to do family fun and other personal business between 6-10 week nights and on the weekends. When my kids come into the office during the day (school starts next week), I considered it an intrusion on my "work time," and reacted impatiently with them at first. Now I find that I'm a lot more patient in listening to them and dealing with whatever they need. Their needs are simple still, they're young enough to have the biggest issue in their life be lunch, an argument over a toy or game, or solving the ancient mystery of why people can't talk to cats. Providing an ear to listen, a calm and rational mind to direct them towards their own solutions to their problems, or a conversation about the mental capacity of house pets and their eternal souls doesn't take long, and is actually fun!

These moments aren't essential. My kids will grow up well-adapted to society if I'm too busy to mediate their social issues for them. I've seen them work out their problems when I'm engrossed in writing something without any help from me. But I missed out on an opportunity to participate in their lives and form a memory of a patient dad who makes time for them and isn't too busy doing something else to spend his precious time on their lives. I don't know what the future will bring, but spending an afternoon swimming with the kids instead of obsessively monitoring job boards for a new opportunity is definitely time well spent.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beware the Wary...

I've noticed a trend lately that isn't new at all. It's the persecution complex. I noticed it first with my mother when she visited for a week. She's a fundy Christian, very Religious Right, very frightening to most right-thinking pagans. She's the rubber meeting the road in every "a fundy tried to cast out my demons at the mall because I was wearing a pentagram" horror story you've ever heard. She wears a T-shirt that says, "May I pray for you?" on the front and "Jesus is Lord" on the back when she goes out. And people come up to her and ask her for prayer. And she prays for them. Weird.

Can you imagine a Hermetic T-shirt like that? "Can I conjure your Genius for you?" on the front, and just "LOGOS" on the back...

Anyway, she went on and on a couple nights about the persecution against her church. A biker stopped at the church and told her pastor he wanted to buy their building for his biker friends' club. When they said it wasn't for sale, the biker got pissed and made an ominous statement about coming back, and that they would sell it to the bikers. She told me about the witches up in the mountains (of Colorado) that are casting spells against Christianity. She told me about how Obama's health care robs her of her coverage. (She also believes that private healthcare is screwing her too; she just worked for the government for twenty years, and knows how badly they can fuck shit up.)

I grew up with that. My parents didn't save up any college funds because they were sure Jesus would be back by then. They read Mother Earth News to find survival tips, and had a huge garden in their back yard to provide food in case of the Tribulation.

So, I'm used to the whole persecution complex coming from the Christian Church. They never got over the whole feeding them to lions and crucifying them thing.

It's all over the pagan community too. Burning times much? Granted, pagans do get discriminated against (ostracized and killed in some places) by most communities, especially anyone accused of witchcraft that's blighting the crops, cattle, or kids. Here in the States, Pagans lose their jobs when zealous Christians find reasons to fire them after they wear their pentagrams to work.

Jews have earned a right their paranoia. 'Nuff said. My immigrant friends suffer persecution at the hands of whites, blacks, and even people from their own countries who are already US Citizens. They've also earned a right to their paranoia. So I'm not saying all instances of fear of persecution are wrong.

But it's way too prevalent. Democrats are afraid of and angry at the persecution they receive from Republicans, real or imagined, and the same is true of the Republicans. Both parties use hyperbole and pathos to frighten their constituents, to get them all wound up in a frenzy of illogical emotion. Both sides are blind to their illogic, blinded by ideological programming that they are constantly at risk, constantly under attack.

The truth is, we aren't under attack nearly as much as people like to believe. Fear of the "others" is a tool used to keep groups separated from one another. It's almost like there's this genetic need to feel lie the rest of the world is out to get us.

But are you out to get any particular group of people? Are you actively or passively executing a plan to destroy everything your opposing political rivals stand for? Guess what... Most of the other people in the world aren't that interested in destroying you personally either. Some are, sure, but find out the facts. Keep your fear levels at the right levels, based on the truth.

Tonight I watched a special on the end of the world on the Science channel. It showed the top ten ways the Earth could be destroyed at any given time. "Yellow Stone Park is a CALDERA!!! Asteroids!!! Nukes, everywhere, NUKES!!!" Bullshit.

You know what they had in common, whether they were theologians or scientists? They all seemed like just under the surface they were totally pissed that the Earth hadn't ended yet. I recognized it from the pastors that taught Revelations with zeal when I was a kid. They get this passion in their voices when they talk about the extremes we'll face if this blows up or that hits us, or if "they" launch a nuclear weapon at us.  It looks like concern, or fear at first, but then you hear them describing these horrific scenarios with this glazed look on their face, and you notice the drool, and you realize hey, they really want to see this shit, and yeah, they're pissed that it hasn't happened yet! They've been predicting the end of the world for years, and it still hasn't come.

Anyway, it would be stupid to say that there's nothing dangerous on earth or that no one is ever out to get us. There's nasty shit in the world, and crazy people. But as magicians, we've got to remember that the forces of creation itself are on our side. They protect, empower, and provide for us. We converse with the spirits of all that manifests, we commune with Nature in ways that would make Darwin weep. We know where we stand in the cosmos, and there is nothing to fear. Know the dangers, but fear them not.

I've been working on my own sphere in this regard. I've noticed the persecution complex pops up when ever I jump to conclusions without having all the facts. I'm not that political, and there isn't really any organized religious group that I can call my own, so it usually manifests in my relationships and finances. The trick to getting out of the fear loop seems to be asking simple questions.
  • What am I afraid of?
  • Is the source of the fear a fact?
  • If so, what is the actual fact, not the hyperbolic spin on the fact that is affecting my emotions?
  • If it happens, what would I do?
Applying these questions to my fears has helped me to understand a great deal about myself and the things that trigger my own persecution complex. The two biggest things that cause me fear are my family and my freedom. If something appears to threaten either, in any way, I get emotional fast. The adrenaline helps my muscles and reflexes, it prepares me to defend against anything physically attacking what I hold dear. It also shuts down my rational mind and leaves me acting on genetically programmed instinct that doesn't necessarily apply to the situation at hand.

It's important to point out that I'm not overcoming my fear, or rising above my emotions. I'm not turning off anything, I'm simply putting it into its proper place. Emotions and fear are important aspects of our existence, and the goal is to bring them into harmony. They should fuel the rational mind, not consume it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meditations on Wealth

I've been in an odd situation lately. I spent a long time focusing on getting money, getting a good paying job, and earning enough to support a luxurious life style. I used magic (thanks Bune, Expedite, Muriel, Michael, Och, and all the Solar Angels of the Heptameron) to great success. I found out that last year I made over 6 figures for the first time in my life, and I enjoyed most of it very much.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been unemployed. I saw it coming, and reacted too late magically to ensure a seamless transition from job to job. In fact, I may even have caused the snafu. See, I performed a wealth ritual that focused a LOT on obtaining interest bearing assets and the idea of wealth that Fr. S.L. and I hashed out. I spent a lot of time going over the details related to the fact that I didn't want to have to work for the money. I wanted to be free from wage slavery, and performed the rite accordingly. I'm free from wage slavery now, yay, and I've had all my bills paid, so far, pretty much... the essential ones anyway.

But I haven't had any income for almost a month. It's weird. I'm not comfortable at all. I have periods of extreme fear come across me, and I have to consciously reach out to the Stars and their Intelligences to obtain peace of mind in the maelstrom. It's amazing how much of my security as a human being I place in the idea of "having a job."

But I'm getting better. I found a small opportunity today to make some cash, not by working, just by being in the right place at the right time. I had a tight two-hour window to pick up some food from a local co-op, and it happened to be at a church where they happened to have a flea market that happened to be monitored by an elderly widow who was getting rid of her husband's wood working tools. I have everything I need to set up a woodworking shop in my garage now, and it cost me a whopping $15.

Last night I was talking to my spouse about building stuff and selling it out of the garage. Purely a coincidence, I'm sure.

So I'm wondering if this is what the life of a full time magician is like, someone who lives on magic instead of on their job. I wonder if I'll just stumble upon lucky hidden treasure here and there, and cash in on it and have enough of a small profit to live on for a couple of months at a time. I can imagine the results getting bigger with subsequent rituals.

I could certainly handle that.

The weirdness is I keep finding amazing ways that I'm able to save money. Gas and lunches out were costing me about $400 a month. I haven't had to go to the dry cleaner in weeks. I'm saving another $400 a month by buying food from co-ops and local farmer's markets. I'm looking back at the last few months and realizing I could have been saving $800 a month, reducing my monthly budget to something manageable. I'm eating better quality food, and wearing more comfortable clothes. I haven't put on a tie in a week, and the last one was just for an interview for a position they said I was overqualified for.

Funny old world we live in, I tell you. Funny old world.

The point is, of course, that I'm understanding wealth in a new way. I could actually survive without getting another job, if I dared to. It wouldn't be easy, necessarily, but it would be simple. It is so tempting. I'm going to be amazed if it turns out that the lifestyle I've sought magically for the last 5 years would have been available at any time if I'd only had the courage to quit working so obsessively for it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Invisible College... Again.

Anyone interested in joining a loose fraternity of Hermetic Magicians? The following are the requirements, except #5, which is optional but highly recommended:

1. You do not talk about the Invisible College.

2. You DO NOT  talk about the Invisible College.

3. You must be willing to take the following statement to heart (like an oath, but one that doesn't need to be taken because it is simply true):

I am a Hermetic Magician. I am the Image of God on Earth, and it is my responsibility to perform God's Will within my sphere of influence by Working with His Ministers in the forms of Angels, Daimons,Genii Loci, and Elemental Spirits as I see fit.

4. You must take complete personal responsibility for all aspects of your life, recognizing that even factors beyond your control are never beyond your influence.

5. You must accept that I am your spiritual leader and do everything I say all the time, especially about sending me money.

6. You must be dedicated to the regular practice of magic, and not just the study or pursuit of occult knowledge. The Invisible College is about using the Power of Creation to shape the Universe according to our understanding of the Will of God.

7. You must be willing to work within the Hermetic Doctrine as revealed in the Corpus Hermeticum and the Emerald Tablet.

Ok, 1 and 2 are really from Fight Club, and are in jest. I plan on keeping a pretty low profile, but I may be at least affiliating with Congregational Illuminism.

If you're interested, send an email to me at rufusopusatrufusopusdotcom. Please include a simple resume of your occult experiences, your occult Curriculum Vitae. It doesn't have to be extensive, but I'd like to know what your background is. Don't be shy, there's nothing you can have done in the past that will exclude you, not even chaos magic.

I'm going to experiment with using Blogger as a kind of a message board/discussion group type thing, because I'm sick of email groups, and the comment feature seems to work well enough. Depending on your experience in the Work, you will be granted the ability to author posts.

This is a organization of practicing magicians. You don't have to be a practicing neoplatonic hermetic magician at the moment, but you need to be willing to become one, or at least learn the vocabulary to translate your own experiences into the common vocabulary of the Hermeticists.

It's a place to learn from people who have done this for a while, like myself and a few regular readers I'm thinking of who have displayed their experience with spirit magic to me in a way that I can't explain. It's not only for those who have achieved KCHGA (or the equivalent), but it is only for those who expect to do so within the next year, not just within their lifetime at some point.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Understanding Wealth

Over the years, I've done a lot of wealth magic. I've always focused on money, dollars, cash, and I've found a couple of techniques that seem to work rather well at getting windfalls. It's reliable, but it comes in weird ways, and it's nothing I feel secure about. I mean, I can trust that I will get money if I do a money rite, but it's never in the grand "$7.42 Million US Dollars" that I aim for. It's usually windfalls or jobs that pay well. That's all well and good, but it's not what I mean when I do a ritual for wealth.

To get to the bottom of why I fail miserably at attaining wealth, I asked the spirits. Not long afterward, I was in a conversation with Fr. S.L. about wealth*, and he explained to me what wealth really is: to live a life where your actions are determined by your will and not by your bills. Wealthy people can go play folk music on the corner if they feel like it, and they don't have to worry that they'll be evicted, to paraphrase his example. Or they can go for a walk at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday without losing their job. There's always going to be some management of your resources required, and that is technically work, but getting it down to a minimum is the goal. If you only have to manage your money once a month, chances are pretty good that at some point in the month you're going to WANT to manage that wealth.

The conversation got me thinking about wealth. Too often, I think of wealth in terms of money and materials. What I've realized though is that true wealth has less to do with money than it does with your ability to pursue your desires. We tend to think money is the key to reaching the point where you can pursue your desires because the biggest thing that stops us from doing so is our job. We have to go to work 8 hours a day, or we lose our house, car, and ability to feed ourselves and our family. 

But if you have your home (rent or mortgage), transportation (car, insurance, and fuel), and food paid for each month, you're free to do whatever you want with the rest of your time. Achieving that level of security is the goal of most wealth and prosperity spells, but I think we fuck it up by aiming for the dollar value that would bring that situation. It's not the money I want, it's what the money can buy. 

This shift from focusing on the dollar amount to the actual thing I want has led me to reevaluate wealth in general, and sources of wealth in particular. The lottery would be a good windfall, right? It would set me up for life. I'd have the cash necessary to invest in wealth-generating ventures, investments, and assets. But again, I'm looking at the means and not at the true goal.

The trick, I think, to true wealth magic is aiming it not at dollar amounts, but at the things that wealthy people get that pays their bills. Most of that, as S.L. pointed out in our conversation, is simple Luck. The biggest lucky break you can get, he said, is being born into wealth. If that didn't happen for you (it didn't happen for me), then the next biggest break you can get is having friends or family that are wealthy. George W. Bush borrowed $200,000 to invest in the Houston Astros baseball team, and a few years later sold his stake in the team for $6 million. If I remember right, he never repaid the investor in cash. Having a guy like George W. as a friend certainly has its benefits though.

My mom's visiting this week (which is why there haven't been many posts lately), and she was tellling me how my grandparents earned their fortune. My grandfather got born again Christian religion and latched onto this eccentric lady from Florida as a mentor. She hated her husband, but being a dutiful Christian, she stuck with him until he died. She wanted nothing to do with his estate, and let my grandfather be the legal heir. The man had 5-gallon buckets of rare coins sitting in his garage, and investments in GE, GM, AT&T, and Ford when they were all worth a lot more than they are today. My grandparents sold everything and put it all in interest bearing accounts, where it has pretty much remained ever since, minus the house they bought for their retirement, and a slush fund to pay for the expensive things that pop up on occassion when you own a house.

Fr. S.L. pointed out Bill Gates as an example too, another wealthy man who got where he is because he knew the right people and had the right idea at the right time. As you can see, wealth is very much a factor of luck.

I've been reading the histories of famous Renaissance magicians. They mostly had wealthy benefactors that paid their way. Agrippa was a doctor and a Captain in the Army, he lectured on things wherever he went, and usually ended up getting into trouble when he gained too much notoriety; Emperor Maximilian assigned his support to various nobles across the Empire. Dee had the support of the Queen, Kelley had the support of Rudolph. Ficino and Bruno were in good with the Medicis, if I remember right. Even Plato was supported by his students, i.e. the wealthy parents who sent their children to him to learn philosophy.

What I'm getting at is that true wealth comes from your friends, your family, and your benefactors. To truly get to the point of wealth, you need to focus your efforts on cultivating luck. You need to be ready to see and sieze opportunities as they arise. You need to have the right idea at the right time, and have the ability to follow through on making it happen. 

So, I'm into pursuing those things now. I have a Jupiter Talisman I made the last time He was well-dignified, and I'm using that to create a sphere of luck around me. I'm also working with spirits to gain the "favor of princes," and to develop more opportunities to attain true wealth. I'm not obsessing as much over the dollar, and I'm learning to put my attention where it can do more good. I'll keep you posted.

* Not to be all smarmy or anything, but Fr. S.L. is one of the Wise who have served as a mentor to me. His advice is solid and his understanding is deep. Thanks, S.L.

Kangaroo Magic

Joe's article on WitchVox is getting a bit of stir in the occult bloggy goodness community, eh? Jason, POS, Annael and the Scribbler have weighed in, even if in comments form only so far (see their comments on POS' post, good info).

I loved the article. Joe's points were valid and need to be made. Dogmatic enforcement of stupid ass bullshit sucks. I think the idea that people are upset with is that there are no "rules" or "laws" of magic in general, and I don't think he was saying anything as broad as that. I think he was referring to particular traditions and specific experiences he's had in the neo-pagan culture, and he's spot on right about what he has to say in that regard.

I think my ceremonial magician friends, whether they are practicing ceremonies of the East or the West, missed the frame of reference. Joe's a Wiccan, and he's writing an article about Wiccan magic on a primarily Wiccan forum. Audience and Purpose, Audience and Purpose. Who is he talking to, and what's the point he's trying to get across?

There are systems designed and taught by people who have never had a magical experience of their own in their lives, egocentric cults, and whole movements influenced by undisciplined new agers who pick up the ramblings of wandering nepheshim and attribute the voices to aliens from the stars. Then there are the real cazies. And they get all jumbled together in the neo-pagan community, and that sucks large, sweaty donkey balls. Joe's dedicated to his religious pursuits in a way that most ceremonial magicians should envy, and his article is important to his community. Rock on Joe.

Anyway, I thought the Kangaroo Magic example he gave was awesome. I'd have turned it into a rant about the posers that make up bullshit and pass it off as legit. Specifically, I'd warn against folks who pass themselves off as experienced magicians telling you something that's plausible that's only loosely based on something real. What I took away from Joe's example was that you've got to examine the sources, check the facts, and don't believe a good story just because it sounds good. Kangaroo Magic. Heh.

Joe's right, by the way: real witches didn't use colored wax across history. If you look at the Wise Women of Russian folk magic, for example, you discover they used blessed white candles from their local Orthodox church. They didn't have colored candles for specific rites, they used what they had and trusted in the spirits (angels, saints, names of God, allies, morphed forms of ancient pantheons, whatever) they worked with to consecrate the stuff according to the purpose. At the same time, there are other real witches that used specifically colored candles to represent specific forces based on revelations they received. But he's not talking about them.

I'd like to emphasize one thing that Joe doesn't mention, and I don't know where he stands on the issue at all. Magical praxis is developed by magicians as a result of their experiences with the spirits. Shamans gather info from their spirit allies, codify it and pass it on. Goets gathered info from the daimons they conjured, and passed it on. The GD gathered info under the influence of their Secret Chiefs, or the GD Egregore, and passed it on.

The magical systems that work are never just made up bullshit. They are always a revelation received from magicians' initiations, or observations of similitudes that came as they experimented with the Spirits. Shit that's just made up is about worthless. You can put together a magical system from any kind of fictional symbol set, but your results will be mediocre at best, or "fuck your shit up," as Jason puts it, at worst.

But if you put together a system based on your work with Raw Deity and its Manifestations (and how they relate to you), then you will have accomplished the Great Work.