Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Goetia Errors

Perhaps the most famous of Goetic grimoires is the Lesser Key of Solomon, or the Lemegeton's Goetia. It's everywhere you look when it comes to conjuring demons, and most of my readers know I'm o exception. I use the spirits of the Lem's Goetia frequently, and with great success.

In a recent post to the Grimorium Verum yahoo group, a magician expressed her frustration with the grimoire, and questioned the spirit-friendly approach many modern traditionalists are adopting in their approach to these spirits. She had performed a conjuration of the same spirit three times and failed to get her desired results each time. She was questioning whether the spirits of this grimoire just sit around and do nothing if they aren't constrained by all the curses and threats of the Lem's Goetia, and any success that happened was mere coincidence.

This is pretty typical, in my experience. Magicians see that Bune bestows riches on a man, and do a Bune rite to win the lottery. They lose and torture the spirit's seal. I'm totally guilty of that myself, in my early operations. Never mind that I totally screwed up the rite, or that I was completely inexperienced in working with the spirit at all.

In my Modern Goetic Grimoire, I attempt to dispel some of the bullshit that surrounds this grimoire. Most of it is in the minds of the magician. Expectations run high, and the spirits "fail" a lot when you expect them to deliver something beyond their abilities. That's why over the years I have tried to tell people frequently that you need to conjure different spirits if you don't get the results you seek, or conjure them in a different way. Above all else, ask them why they aren't doing what you want, ask them to show you how to use them to accomplish your end result. Simply telling a spirit to make you rich isn't going to make you rich, unfortunately. Jason Miller addresses the relativity of the concept of "rich" in his Sorecerer's Secrets, and I think his insight is invaluable.

The chief failure of Goetic magic lies not in the system or the spirits of the system, but in the magicians themselves. They think that following the steps blindly will result in huge payoffs. They are only in it for what they want, not for what the system is designed to provide. Bad news, greed heads and lust-maddened sex fiends, the primary purpose of the Lesser Key is to provide you with knowledge. It's a pantheon of professors, highly skilled in providing you with the information obtained traditionally in a liberal arts degree from an institution of learning. They can do things on the side, like make people fall in love or get you rich, but the way they do it is seldom lines up with our expectations.

The first impulse is to question the system or the efficacy of the spirits. Some even question the efficacy of magic itself. To me this is like a person who builds a doghouse for the first time questioning the efficacy of their hammer if it turns out to look like shit. Magic is an art like many others, and requires dedication and experience to understand how to use it effectively. Conjuring the spirits is relatively easy, but understanding them and how they work takes time.

So if you're a new conjuring magician and you've tried to win the lotto and failed, or tried to sleep with the boss's daughter and failed, don't blame the spirits. It's your inexperience primarily that's causing the failures. Learn from the spirits, their primary role is to provide an education. Use them for this first, and the side benefits will roll in like the tides.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Tyche, Goddess of Fortune

Tyche is a lovely lass, oft maligned by the unfortunate, yet turned to by the masses in times of trial. She is, in person, nice enough, yet pensive. There's something in her face that speaks of both a willingness to help and an inability to do so in all cases. She is a power under authority, and is as much a servant of the Fates as the rest of us are. She can be a mitigating force in all endeavors, bringing opportunities to escape doom, and yet she cannot tell you what those opportunities are. She has been accused of being fickle, but usually by those who think they deserve more than they get out of life.

I recently printed out a picture of the Lady Fortune carrying the babe Pluto and her cornucopia, with her Orphic Hymn on the side. I burned some Frankincense, as indicated by the hymn, and read the hymn aloud to her, seeking her aid in acquiring a paying position, something more reliable and better able to meet the expenses I've gathered over the years than the periodic windfalls I've been getting the last couple of months. She is sitting above my altar now, and within a week of petitioning her, two employers contacted me and scheduled interviews. Considering that in the last month and a half I've only had two interviews, I consider it fortunate to have these opportunities arise.

Yet in my line of work, this is the time of year that work picks up. The government's fiscal year begins in October, so between the last weeks of September and November, there are usually a large number of contracts awarded and support teams hired. In this economy, there are thousands of people available to companies with college degrees and specialized experience in particular fields, and the Human Resource departments of most corporations have their pick of the best at hand. Since I've never managed to complete college, my resume usually ends up at the bottom of a pile of potential candidates, despite ten years of experience in my field. It's annoying, I promise.

So there are constraints that Tyche works within, as there are for all spirits that we turn to in magic to accomplish our will. They all work within the bounds of Natural Law, leaving coincidence and synchronicity as their calling cards. Two interviews within a week of the conjuration is the kind of coincidence I've learned to interpret as a successful result.

It's interesting to me that I turned to Tyche for this operation. I've worked with Bune and the Archangels of the Planets primarily for the last few years for acquiring income and cash windfalls. I've been very successful with these spirits, and even in this dry spell I've managed to get everything I needed in spite of very ugly circumstances with their help.

It was Iamblichus who sent me to the gods. Kathy McDonald left an encouraging comment on my Iamblichus post from last week indicating her disagreement with my interpretation of the gods as the Intelligences of the planets. This drew my attention to the fact that I don't work with deities much. As a Christian, I give more weight to the Monad than any other deity, and I've never really been that interested in the personalities of the Names of God as they manifest within the different spheres beyond tapping into their vibration to aid in conjuring their relative spirits. I know the Monad, what interest have I in "lesser" manifestations of its glory?

Yet this pride is a weakness. I realize now that the Monad manifested as these deities on purpose. Tyche is the goddess of Fortune, as well as the Fortune of God. Likewise, Zeus is the god of Lightning, and the Lightning of God, Aries the god of War and the War of God. To truly know God, I need to know not only the details surrounding the chain of manifestation through the spheres, I need to know his personality a he expresses it through the gods and goddesses of the spheres.

I could go through the Sephiroth of the Hebrews, and get to know him through the Names of God revealed in each of the spheres, and I may do that at some point. It's more appealing in some ways to stick to the Judeo aspect of my Judeo-Christian heritage. Growing up, it was engrained in me that the gods of the pagans were demons, after all, and demons are servants of Satan, fallen beings of darkness and evil, right? I mean, that's what the evangelicals taught me.

But in my Work, I've learned to read. Literacy has ever been the enemy of those who would rule by exploiting ignorance. The Greek text of Paul that was included in the Bible that says the gods of pagans are demons doesn't say they are demons at all. It says they are Daimons. Messengers. Spirits. It is the weak faith of the immature Christians that Paul says makes him refuse to eat meat offered to pagan gods, not any intrinsic uncleanliness within the meat itself. He often says in his epistles that he would not have his brethren in Christ be ignorant, yet the doctrine of pagan gods as demons is entirely based on ignorance. Like all spirits, they are manifestations of divinity accomplishing their assigned tasks on behalf of their assigned sphere of influence, including their people. Tyche is as much a god of my own as she is of any pagan.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On Reading Golden Dawn Blogs for Fun and Enlightenment

In a recent exchange of posts, the good Fraters Dean Wilson and Nick Farrell, two of the grand total of five Golden Dawn members I know and/or respect (the rest of the GD folk make me queasy when they start going on about how the LBRP is a really deep ritual) are having a discussion about their costumes they wear when they do rituals.

It seems that there are a lot of potential layers to a GD ritual costume. When they dress up and do magic, there are robes that go with certain offices, and in addition to these they have sashes they wear that indicate their grades within the order. These two magicians (again, two of the five GD folk I respect) are discussing the wearing of the Grade Sash during an initiation. Nick is against the idea, and Dean agrees, listing several good reasons not to wear the grade sash during an initiation. They all look good to me. If I were leading a GD order, there would be no sash wearing during initiations.

Ok, that said...

Do they get badges to sew on their sashes? Do they get special badges if they sell the most cookies in the Order? If they collect one of every badge, do they turn into the superhero known as the Mighty Bee!? 

Which brings me to my main point: Item number 5 of Dean's list indicates that "Sashes and grades are notorious for inflating the ego..." How in the living fuck is that possible? I'd be MORTIFIED to be seen in wearing that silly getup. You're a grown man (or woman) playing dress-up! And you're going to let your COSTUME give you an ego problem that will somehow klooge up the "energies" of the initiation?

Disastrous consequences, my friends, disastrous indeed.

Speaking of GD folks that I respect, I haven't made much mention of one of my favorite recent additions to the list of blogs that I follow. The fellow's name is Fr. AIT, and he's got a blog where he discusses his magical pursuits.

Most of my regular readers know that teasing the GD about their sashes is the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to my feelings of that particular interpretation of the Great Work. Years ago, I had an outright hostility and vehement animosity towards the organization, a seething contempt brought on by the antics of the outer heads of the EOGD, the HOGD, and Toth-Hermes 2.

This only began to change after I learned that a traditional grimoiric magician that I respect deeply also happens to be a leader of a Golden Dawn order. He was the first GD person I knew who wasn't an absolute dick the majority of the time. Hardly ever, in fact. Since then, I've met a (very select) few others, and have slowly grown to accept that for some people, the Golden Dawn is a useful path that produces true spiritual transformation.

Fr. AIT is one of these fellows. I found his blog a few months ago, and his experiences in the spheres paralleled my own. He was reporting results completely in harmony with what I find in the Seven Heavens when I do the Work. He was actually DOING the MAGIC of the Great Work, and it was effective, even with the hexagrams, pentagrams, and Kircher Tree of Life they use. So I've been reading with interest as he talks about the things he does.

Today, he posted a neat article about the New Moon, and I figured out what it is about the magicians I respect who are GD. They do practical magic in addition to their Grade Work. They aren't afraid of their magic. It's not all in their heads. They didn't read the Kybalion and decide that it's all mental psychological therapy in ritual form, they actually expect their magic to aid them in changing the universe according to their will.

His blog is called Heavens Under Earth, and it's a good read.

The other GD members I respect don't, for the most part, post their affiliations or grades online. They're embarrassed by the antics of the more public personalities that represent their order, but they are compassionate in their judgment. I won't list them because it's their call to let people know their affiliations if they're interested.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chaplet of St. Michael: Christian Merkavah

I love my friends. Their belief systems and interests run the gamut of what you may find in the occult. I've got obscure branches of Buddhism, initiates of the Golden Dawn, initiates of the OTO, Neo-Pagan Wiccan High Priests, Tantrickas, Voudou priests, Root Doctors, and a whole slew of folks who implement the practices of Agrippa and other traditional magical systems.

The other day, one of my friends sent me a link to the Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel. I'm an advocate for going through the Spheres and Working with the Spirits of each sphere to gain initiation into the powers of said sphere. The Boss of the Realm gives you access to and insight into using the powers represented by each sphere. This helps you in your daily life, because it changes you and makes you more powerful, more able to influence the way your life manifests directly, consciously. Understanding how things manifest, you're able to see what stage of manifestation each situation is in, and you can forecast what might come based on your understanding of where in the process of manifestation different parts of your life are in.

In addition, initiation into the spheres grants you additional authority, for lack of a better word, in dealing with the spirits of that sphere. Lunar rituals I do after being initiated into the Sphere of the Moon by Gabriel will be more effective because of the knowledge and experience received. That doesn't mean that prior to initiation the rites would fail, it just means I'll be better able to direct the spirits of the Moon when I do Work with them.

The Chaplet of St. Michael is a very Catholic prayer that takes the person through the spheres of the Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Virtues, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. In the prayer you intercede with Michael the Archangel to have him run interference between you and the choirs. When I see things like this, I understand why Otter always said everyone's HGA is Michael.

Those familiar with the ranks of the Choirs of Angels by Dionysius the Areopagite  will see that each of the spheres of Agrippa's Scale of the Number Ten are represented, with Man, the "angelic choir" of the Earth represented by being the recipient of the effects of the prayer. The following table may help provide insight:

What the Choir does for Man
Sphere of the Prime Mover
grant us grace to leave the ways of wickedness and run in the paths of Christian perfection
Sphere of the Zodiac or Fixed stars
make us worthy to burn with the fire of perfect charity
infuse into our hearts a true and sincere spirit of humility
grace to govern our senses and subdue our unruly passions
protect our souls against the snares and temptations of the devil
The Sun
preserve us from evil, an suffer us not to fall into temptation
fill our souls with a true spirit of obedience
Give us perseverance in faith and in good works, in order that we gain the glory of Paradise
grant us to be protected by them in this mortal life and conducted hereafter to eternal glory

"Grant us the grace to leave the ways of wickedness and run in the paths of Christian perfection." How many perfect Christians do you know? Christian perfection is considered positional in Christian theology. We don't think we are perfect in our daily actions, we recognize that we make mistakes, we aren't perfect in everything we do. At the same time, we recognize that we are perfect by God's grace. He forgives the failures and the mistakes because he loves us. The Monad-First-Father sees us in our imperfect state, but accepts us anyway. Grace is a gift given in spite of the imperfections. It comes from God seeing past the temporary imperfections caused by living within the boundaries of space-time in the material realm to the perfect Ideal person that is made in his own image.

Notice that the grace requested from the Sphere of the Prime Mover is the grace to leave the paths of wickedness and run in paths of Christian Perfection. In some doctrines of Christian theology, this points to the concept of "progressive sanctification." We aren't perfect, but we're being made more perfect over time. The paths of wickedness are marked by the sinful acts delineated in the ten commandments. From a magical point of view, "sin" can be considered those things we do that keep us from our true power and authority. We don't want to stop sinning just so God will love us, because that's not how his love works. He loves us anyway. That's grace. We want to stop sinning because sin has as much power to create as any other act. A choice made that falls in the category of "sin" will result in your universe manifesting things that are not going to get you closer to God. The closer to God you get, the more authority, empowerment, and magical talent you get.

At the same time, it's grace that empowers you to turn away from sin. Grace is the fuel that powers the engine for more Grace.

It comes from the sphere of the Prime Mover. I think it's interesting that it's not associated with Jupiter. Most Judeo-Christian systems basically put God the Father in Jupiter. He is Jove-Jehovah, Lord of Grace and Mercy for most Christians. But the grace spoken of here isn't from Jupiter. It's from the pre-manifest sphere. Before it can even be expressed by the Word, the grace to overcome wickedness and walk in perfection exists. Acknowledging this and seeking the manifestation of this truth in our lives leads to more authority and more responsibility. With more responsibility comes more pay; the rewards of doing the right thing are lavish.

I think it's interesting that the Cherubim are called before the Seraphim in this ritual. Either the Catholics have a different cosmology than Agrippa, or they approach the Sphere of the Prime Mover after going through the Sphere of the Zodiac, or Fixed Stars. I don't know which, but I'm thinking you can't really approach the Prime Mover until you've been to the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, maybe.

From the choirs of the spirits of the sphere of the Zodiac, they seek to be made "worthy" to burn with the fire of perfect charity. Charity in Christian theology can best be understood by thinking of Compassion in Buddhism, I think. It doesn't simply mean giving to the poor. Originally, it meant "love." The sphere of the Zodiac is "above" the spheres of the planets. It is the source-realm, where the thoughts from the Mind of God are expressed in Words by the Logos.

In this sphere, the rite seeks the aid of the spirits in being made worthy. When I see worth mentioned in spiritual activities, I'm reminded of the Race and Value spoken of by Plotinus in the Enneads. Understanding our divine Race and our eternal Value gives an understanding of our Worth. In this rite, we are calling on the spirits of the Cherubim to make us holy enough to manifest compassion, or charity. We need an initiation into this sphere to understand that all things are connected, equally valued manifestations of the Mind of God. When we can appreciate the value of ourselves and others, and the things in our world, we will have compassion. When we see that evil is as much a part of the plan as good, and that it all works together, we can truly begin to love our enemies.

The Cherubs guarded over the Ark of the Covenant, the physical manifestation of the agreement between God and Man under the dispensation of the Law. This ritual implies that to truly fulfil the Law (which Jesus said required only honoring God and loving your neighbor as yourself) you must first be changed so that you can understand compassion.

From the Thrones of Saturn, the prayer seeks humility. Saturn is the sphere of boundaries, of limitation, and the demarcation of the beginning of a thing and the end of a thing. By accepting the limits as they are, as manifestations of God's Will in the Universe at large, by being humble, we are able to say, "This is where the thing stands as it is now." By removing the desires we have to change a thing, we can understand where it is and why it is where it is.

For example, I'm currently unemployed, and I need more money coming in than I have in order to sustain my lifestyle. I've already had to make cutbacks in my expenditures to manage to survive. Wanting a solution, I've been focusing on getting more income. I've been focusing on what I think will solve the problem.

Humility is not setting aside what I want, necessarily. It manifests in seeing things as they really are. Understanding that this phase of my life involves insecurity allows me to approach things differently. Accepting that I'm unemployed is necessary for me to be able to take appropriate action. Knowing this phase of my life has a beginning means that it also has an ending, and being humble enough to step back and see the facts, instead of arrogantly pursuing solutions allows me the insight to take appropriate action rather than reacting out of fear and anxiety. Pride and arrogance can become confidence and ability in the heart of a humble person.

From the Dominions, we seek the grace to govern our senses and subdue our passions. Jupiter here is representing the authoritative structures of our reality. Jupiter governs corporate management, and state governments. It is also the ability to rule over ourselves.

Modern self-help authors have tapped into the understanding that we program ourselves through our senses. The programmer's axiom "Garbage in, garbage out" is applied to out minds. Books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad (which I finally read, and recommend), or The Secret teach people to monitor what goes into the brain and what comes out of it. We're taught that by controlling what comes through our senses, we gain control over what manifests in our lives. Affirmations of positive things result in positive manifestations. Studying ways to make money brings about ways to make money. The power to manage what we experience in order to accomplish what we desire comes from the spirits of Jupiter, the Dominions.

And speaking of desires, the other side of what we're seeking in this prayer is the power to subdue our passions. As Buddhism teaches, desire is the root of sorrow. Many times we get caught up in the passions for our desires to the point where we lose sight of charity and humility. Last week I did magic to make other applicants for a job I wanted botch their interviews. While it was a good strategic approach, I still didn't get the job because I didn't control the passion for the job enough to see that it wasn't the right job for me. Instead of seeking the Saturnine understanding of the job in humility, I leaped into trying to dominate the situation in ignorance and pride. Rather than hire me when everyone botched their interviews, they brought in someone else that wasn't in the lineup when I did the ritual.

If I had the grace to subdue the passion I had for getting that job, I would have been able to understand indications from the interview that revealed this wasn't the right job for me. In retrospect, after finding out I didn't get the position, I can see how they needed someone with different skill sets, and that I would have been out of my element. Their deadline made it impossible for them to accommodate ramping up my skill sets to their need.

Passions of the flesh and lower parts of the spirit, like the Nephesh, are traps for those who are not seeking God. Thinking more money would fix all our problems, allowing fear to chain us to careers that ensure continued wage slavery, these kinds of mistakes in our understanding result in passions for things that will not bring what we really want, which is usually peace of mind. A sports story the other day on the radio talked about how a champion of football once said, "If you're not enough of a man without winning the superbowl, what makes you think you'll be enough of a man if you do win?" Thinking like this separates our desired outcome from the (usually) wrong association with whatever passion we have. Wanting to win to be a winner is more honest than wanting to win to be a better man. If you're a better man, you will win. Be the better man first, and the inevitable results will follow. The trap of passion is confusing the result with the true goal.

Man, this post is getting much longer than anticipated. I could keep analyzing the Chaplet for you from a Christian Neo-Platonic point of view, but I'm sure you can figure out the rest. Mars protects against the devil, or "evil daimon," the Sun preserves us and keeps our thoughts golden, Venus fills us with obedience (the true spirit of obedience, like following true will for thelemites), Mercury gives endurance in our good works so we get the prize for selling the most candy (sorta),  and the Angels of the Moon aid the HGA in transforming our flesh into the Rainbow Body.

Ok, it doesn't SAY that, but it's what it means.

Anyway, this prayer outlines the types of things we're supposed to be doing in our Magical Work. It outlines the daily goals. The link Jason sent has it in Latin too, how cool is that?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Role of Spirits in Divination

Earlier today, I was reading Iamblichus, and I came across Section III, Chapter Eighteen. He's continuing to argue with Porphyry about Magic. Porphyry and Iamblichus had both been students of Plotinus, but Porphyry applied his education in contemplation and philosophy, while Iamblichus moved to Egypt and pursued the Theurgic arts. Porphyry sent one of Iamblichus' students a letter challenging the presumptions of the Theurgists, and Iamblichus' response, "On the Mysteries," has become a fabulous tool for gaining insight into the Hermetic magical practices of their day. For Neoplatonic magicians, this stuff is pure gold.

Iamblichus has been explaining and correcting the assumptions of Porphyry throughout the work, taking Porphyry's letter apart piece by piece, much like you see on heated discussions on message boards today. It's an ancient tradition, these flame wars. Iamblichus was a bit more polite than most of us modern folks, but you can still feel the heat.

In Section III, he's addressing questions Porphyry raised about divination. I've been into divination lately, out of a frustrating lack of insight into what I'm supposed to be doing with my life to bring more instant solutions to my outstanding problems. What I've found is that I don't have nearly the grip on interpreting prophecy that I thought I did. I'm tackling Geomancy hard core though, so part of it might be an unfamiliarity with a new system. I did a tarot reading the other day that was truly magical.

But in Chapter XVIII, he turns to the role of Spirits, whether Divine, Angelic, or Daimonic in the role of divination:

ANOTHER contest, however, awaits us, not less than that in which we have been before engaged, and which you immediately announce, concerning the causes of divination,  "whether a God, an angel, or a daemon, or some other power, is present in manifestations, or divinations, or certain other sacred energies." But our reply to your question is simply this, that it is not possible for any thing to be performed in a manner adapted to sacred concerns in divine works, without the presence of some one of the more excellent natures, as inspecting and giving completion to the sacred energy. And where the felicitous operations are perfect, sufficient to themselves, and unindigent, of these the Gods are the leaders. but where they are media, and in a small degree fall short (164) of the extremes, they have angels as the powers that perfect and unfold them into light. And it is the province of daemons to effect those operations which rank as the last. But the right performance of actions which are effected in a divine manner, is entirely to be ascribed to some one of the more excellent natures. For since it is not possible to speak rightly about the Gods without the Gods, much less can any one perform works which are of an equal dignity with divinity, and obtain the foreknowledge of every thing without [the inspiring influence of] the Gods. 
So depending on the type of divination you're doing, you'll be working with either a God, an Angel or a Daimon if you're going to be effective. The "energy" that makes the divination work comes from the presence of the spirit.

Most of our divination practices fall into the "media" type, using various forms of sortilege, using some form of divinatory device to see into the future. These, he explains, "have angels as the powers that perfect and unfold them into light."

Iamblichus separated the types of spirits that we deal with into classes of Gods, Angels, and Daimons. Heroes, too, but those were humans of divine descent, which magicians are aware of being. Gods are the intelligences of the Planets and the spheres above the 7 planetary spheres. In the Greek pantheon, the planets were considered to be the celestial representations of the Gods. Mars was Mars, Venus was Venus. When they worked with "Gods" in their rituals, they were working with the divine aspects of the planetary spheres, or those of the Fixed stars, or higher.

When Iamblichus talks about Angels, he's talking about the spirits that are a phase more dense than the Divine spirits. In my cosmology, his "Angels" are my "Spirits" of the planets. They are closer to matter and can speak through the influence of whatever physical objects we use in divination.

The Daimons he refers to are the terrestrial spirits closest to matter. These may include the Genii Loci, the natural spirits of the land around any given location. River spirits, tree spirits, and even local Heroes can be considered Genii Loci. The Daimons he refers to may also also include the Spirits of the Goetia, or even some aspects of the Enochian Angels.

So when performing a divination ritual, it's important to include the appropriate spirit for the job.

Reading this in Iamblichus, I remembered this isn't the only place I've read about conjuring the appropriate spirit before performing a divination lately. Jason Miller covers this detail in Sorcerer's Secrets. If I remember right, the little book of card descriptions that came with the Crowley Toth Deck included an invocation of a specific spirit before performing the reading too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Candle Magic

I do a lot of spirit conjuration, as you likely know. Once I've made the talismans of the spirits with their seals and whatnot engraved, and they've been consecrated and the spirit has agreed to come when called, there's not a lot left to do physically. Most of my magic with them becomes oratory and takes place in communication. When I do a major rite, I'll call the spirits to the altar with incense and candles and all the bells and appropriate names of God.

But for most daily magical things that need to be done, I simply stand before my altar with the appropriate talisman in hand, and call the spirit. I explain what I need from the spirit, and I replace the talisman in its appropriate place. And then I light a candle.

My son asked why I light candles on my altar the other day. He has this overbearing urge to blow out candles when he sees them lit. I've learned to keep an eye on him when I've got candles lit on the altar and he's sanding near, because he'll blow ever so gently to make the flames dance. Some of the candles I've used had small flames that were put out by his gentle breath, so I stand ready with a firm "No" just in case he gives in to the temptation.

When he asked, I told him it's like a prayer you can see. I keep things simple because he's not past the stage where he'll go to school and tell everyone, "My Daddy talks to Angels and Demons!" As he grows in cunning, I'll let him in on more details, but for now I stick with language your average religious family will understand if he repeats it. It's much easier than trying to explain things to teachers. I made that mistake early on with my oldest, and I've learned from a long discussion with the principal and my daughter's teacher that things I assume everyone understands aren't really common knowledge, and my specialized research has left me less than normal.

Candle magic is one way to describe the bulk of my Work lately. I go through the oration, and then light a candle near or on the talisman of the Spirit. Candles are fluid, even when solid. Heat and pressure reveal how malleable wax is. I think this malleability absorbs the context of the prayer, and continues to express that prayer as long as it is lit. Sometimes I'll dress the candle, using Abramelin Oil usually because I like the kick it gets, but I've also used Healing oil and Uncrossing oil as necessary.

There are a number of books published on the subject of Candle Magic, and I'm sure they have good information and total crap mixed together. Most things do. I don't think any candle magic can work without some form of spirit conjuration or prayer involved, so if any of the books advocate simple mechanistic approaches, that would be crap. I'm pretty sure most of them would include some form of ritual though.

I have a book of Psalms Candle Magic around here somewhere, and you basically take a candle, some oil, and tie the burning of the candle to the reading of the psalm so that whatever the Psalm is talking about maifests in your life. I haven't used it much, but that's a good explanation of the role of the candle in my magic. It becomes a link to the subject of the rite and continues to represent it and empower it over time, even after the magician has moved on to watching television, hanging out with friends, or whatever.

In Sorceror's Secrets, Jason Miller adds a cautionary note to the section where he talks about lighting candles. It's basic common sense, don't start fires by being careless with your candles. I leave mine lit until they go out, but they're generally in safe conditions. There's nothing under them that can catch fire, and the candles I use most often are tea lights, the ones that have an aluminum base included. They burn about two or three hours, and the wax stays in the base until it burns off.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writing Projects & Spirit Placement

I appreciate the comments from my regular readers encouraging me to write. For the record, I'm in the process of developing three books. I'm spending most of my time on the Modern Goetic Grimoire, but I'm also working on an Initiatic Journey through the Seven Heavens. The third book is on Astral Warfare, and is by far the most enjoyable manuscript I'm working on at the moment. Even in the depths of my neglect over the last month I've managed to work on the Goetic manuscript, off and on. So, thanks for the encouragement, and great minds think alike.

In the Goetic Grimoire, I'm presenting a Cthonic worldview that incorporates the neoplatonic core of my beliefs within a more cthonic approach. I'm on the initiation phase now, which is a subject worthy of its own book. Realizing this, I started the Initiatic Journey book. I find I'm more drawn to talking about initiation than strict ritual, specifically the ideas behind it, and the effects it has on the magician. In spelling out the initiatic requirements of the Goetic system as presented in the Lemegeton's Magic Circle from the Goetia, I realized why fraternal magical lodges start with initiations into the Elemental realms. I also found myself opening a door to yet another manuscript regarding the relationship of the living and the spirits of Nature and the restless dead.

I have quite a few things to work on, but I'm focusing on getting the Goetic grimoire out first. It's near and dear to my sphere, after all. In terms of practical magic, there is no system more effective in accomplishing short, mid, and long term goals than the spirits of the Goetia.

A friend is doing a lot of work with the Arbatel, and I'm looking forward to his results. I think the spirits of the Arbatel are a hybrid of the terrestrial and celestial beings, with a foot firmly planted in the Cthonic macrocosm and in the manifest microcosmic realm. My own work with Och has continued to manifest money in my wallet, and while it's not a lot by 21st Century American standards, it's a great deal more than your average unemployed husband and father in Kenya would have. At least one other magician friend worked with the Arbatel Venus spirit, whose name escapes me, and found the true love of his life. I hesitate to jump to any conclusions, because my experience is limited, and I'm looking forward to my friend's research before crystallizing any solid opinions on their nature and spheres of influence.

Within the neoplatonic framework I work with, I'm able to classify different spirits from different systems across the spectrum, from  the nebulous Archangels of the Sphere of the Prime Mover to the local nature spirits. I place them tentatively as I go along, leaving room for overlap. For now the Arbatel spirits are in both the material and spiritual worlds, while Goetic entities are closer to the material world. Enochian angels seem to be another group with feet in both realms, but I place them as primarily terrestrial spirits. Trithemian archangels are mostly macrocosmic, as are the Intelligences of the Planetary Tables, although in concert with the Spirits of the Planetary Table, they do a fabulous job crossing over into the material realm.

I think as we develop, we end up with a "stable" of spirits that we work with for different aspects of our lives. Mine currently covers all the realms except the elemental ones, and that's something I should really work on adding to the collection.

The collection isn't the point in and of itself, though. I really haven't needed any elemental work, which is why I haven't worked it. I'm sure there have been times when having elemental initiations would have helped my Work, but being ignorant of their roles, I've managed to get by without them.  The spirits in my "stable" are the ones I've needed, from both a physical and pragmatic point of view, and from a spiritual and ascendant point of view.

It's weird speaking in dichotomies of physical and spiritual, because they're different aspects of the same thing. Rituals for cold hard cash bring spiritual revelations, and rituals for spiritual initiations send me across state lines to bear witness to enlightened gurus and receive instruction. Like classification of spirits as terrestrial vs. celestial, it's a useful categorizing tool, but it doesn't really describe where they "really" are in the spectrum of manifestation, just where I put the relative to myself and my current interests.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Magician

And so it is, I stand accused of being too hard on myself, of having an ideal of what it is to be a magician and then getting down on myself for watching Dexter. Opti posted it in the comments yesterday, and he got me thinking about it. Maybe I am too hard on myself. I could certainly stand to be nicer to me. I like taking it easy on myself, frankly. 

While I appreciate Opti's friendly advice, there's more to it than I tend to let on. If it were being down on myself for watching some tube once in a while, or even on a regular basis, I'd agree that I'm being too hard on myself. Besides, it's freaking rare that I like a TV show that isn't an interpretation of a historical event, a presentation on the nature of Nature, or a postulate regarding the origins of the universe. It's like I've heard there's a candid photo of my Dad at work from before I was born that a lot of people are looking for. I can't wait to see it. I think when they finally recreate the instant of the big bang, they'll see a wise and kind face, with a touch of sorrow around the eyes, speaking a Word. In the mean time, I enjoy the plot and characters of Dexter a great deal.

I don't like having the time to watch 3 season's worth, around 36 1-hour shows, back to back. Plus interviews with Michal C. Hall. I don't like that I would spend that big of a chunk of time watching the show to escape from my reality. I don't like the escapism. It's not what I would sit around and put up with out of my magician friends, either. Are we not masters of manifestation? Can we not simply dial back the edges of existence and speak directly to the powers that manifest reality itself? Eh? I mean, come on. I get stressed and escape into TV and Flash video games. While it's a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism for depression and anxiety for the uninitiated, I know too much to fall into that trap.

The problem is that I'm being passive when I think I'd be more useful in an active phase. One of the things I advocate a lot is proactive design of your reality rather than passive reaction to it. It takes presence of mind, years of study, spiritual initiation, and a combination of imagination, determination, and pragmatism that can only be achieved through prolonged spiritual practice. That's how I think we're supposed to be. It's an ideal, I agree, but it's my standard. I measure myself against that scale. Am I in harmony with my Sphere of Influence? Have I done all that I can do to engineer my current experiences? Did I achieve my full potential as a Divine made flesh?

I'm not saying the life of a magician will be all roses and daffodils and piles of gold and gems (although the gold and gems should be given for all magicians, just because). I'm not saying we even have complete control over what manifests around us. But I do think when we look around and see things that suck in our sphere of influence, we should be ready and able to take magical action. Sitting around avoiding the problems isn't even good for "mundane" folks. A well-adjusted, proactive, balanced materialist will be looking at their life, taking inventory, accepting the things they can't change, and applying themselves to the things they can. I don't expect myself to do any less than that.

I guess it goes deeper than my ideal magician. It comes down to how I approach the world, and the role of humanity in general. I think it's our duty to make the best life possible, pursue fun and pleasure at every possible chance. I think we have the ability to feel pleasure because it leads us towards what is good, what we're supposed to have in our lives. I think we incarnated out of love for this world, and that we owe it to ourselves to try to enjoy as much of our conscious time on the planet as possible.

Deep and profound philosophy, I know. I could say it simpler. I want to have fun.

So when I'm not having fun, I'm failing at life, you see? When I'm faced by trials, or slow torturous moments of existence, it's harder to get proactive than it is to veg out and go into an electronic coma. If that were the highest level of pleasure I could attain, then yeah, that would make sense to me. But it's not. Life is much more brilliant than that.

Not only that, by ignoring the stressors in my sphere, I'm allowing their cumulative effects to grow. Things change through my decisions and actions in this world. I am the fulcrum, the manifestation point of all that is above and all that is below within my sphere of experienced reality. It's my choice how things will go each day. I don't get to choose everyhing I have to work with, but I have a lot more available than TV and internet gaming.

So, while I may seem down on myself, it's part of a process. It's the application of heat to the alchemical prime to release the impurities and begin the refinement process. It's a kick in the ass to motivate me. After spending a while berating myself, I move on to take appropriate action. Right now it's evaluation and planning. Yesterday's ritual was a step in the right direction, clearing up some old garbage and replacing it with something more appropriate. The next steps are apparent, but they need more contemplation. There are forces at work beyond my control, and those things I cannot influence must be adapted to.

And as a Magician, the methods I use are magical. They are both contemplative and ceremonial. They are symbolic and practical. They are, above all, powerful in the hands of the skilled and unskilled alike, and gaining that skill is my ultimate goal. Well, not really. But the ultimate goal can only be achieved by gathering the appropriate skills.

Skills I'm not getting from Dexter.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Holy Solar Angels

Today I performed a conjuration of the Angels of the Lord's Day. Not one or two of them, but all of the ones I could find a reference to in the Heptameron. I conjured them to undo some magic I had done with them earlier, specifically that magic that was supposed to get me wealthy without having to work.

I emphasized, if you recall, the fact that I didn't want to work for the money, and while I've been getting what I need to get by, and I'm in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on planet earth, I'm just fucking hating trying to live like this. I want security, damn it. I want dental insurance, the car payment in the bank, and enough money for food too. I don't want to be getting by as close to the bone as I have been.

So, to clear the air between us, I conjured the angels I had conjured before. I performed the rite on a Sunday before, and I figured I needed to at least have the day and hour right to undo whatever I had done. I've been meaning to undo the ritual for a while now, but what with one thing and another, I've missed the appropriate time repeatedly.

So today I started with a conjuration to my HGA, calling him by name and lighting a candle on his little "throne" talisman. As I did, I felt him come into the room. I anointed myself in Abramelin, and anointed his candle as well. I burned a little frankincense as I prayed with him, and felt the room grow clearer with his presence.

Next, I performed a bit of your basic cleansing rites. I began with, "You have cleansed me with hyssop, and washed me whiter than snow, oh Lord," and I lit the candle that symbolizes the presence of God on my altar. Immediately, I felt a warm and golden light fill me and my altar space. The Lord was with me.

Now, admittedly, it's been a while since I performed any formal magic. Most of what I've been doing lately has been with my familiar spirits, with a candle lit on occasion as I saw fit. I haven't even been rising through the spheres much. Instead, I've been playing video games on my PC between bouts of manically applying for jobs, or watching television (I cought up on three seasons of Dexter). That's how I've kept my mind occupied so I don't have to think. I haven't been a very good magician lately at all.

So when the Lord came to my altar space and filled the room with His presence, it was totally awesome. The hairs on my arms stood up, and I felt chills and warmth and peace and ... holiness. I had forgotten the holiness of the Lord. I look at the last couple of weeks and I can only shake my head and wonder, what the fuck, man?

So I spent a few minutes in thanksgiving and adoration. Nothing too smarmy, but there is nothing more healing to the soul than spending time loving and being loved by God. The best form of doing this I've found is pure worship, purely loving your creator-source and feeling the complete love in return. There is nothing more cleansing, nothing that puts you back on track faster. There is nothing more perfect in this world of matter that you can experience than the holy presence of your Father.

After spending time with Dad, I asked for his blessing on the Work at hand, and asked him to send forth the angels I would be calling, to guide them in undoing the magic I had done in my ignorance, and to empower them to accomplish their true natures on my behalf.

My conversations with God tend to be run-on sentences.

Next I proceeded with the conjuration. Most of what I had planned to do was straight out of the Considerations of the Lord's Day from the Heptameron. I used the Latin version of the Conjuration straight from that section, and even understood what I was reading while I read it. Mostly. It's the same way I conjured the spirits before, and that "worked," in a monkey's paw kind of way. (That's where you get everything you ask for and nothing you want.)

I haven't read Latin out loud since High School. The last time I conjured the Sunday Angels, I sort of mumbled my way through it, relying on Agrippa's "It's the intent of the magician that determines the angel we receive," and only really enunciating the names of God and Michael clearly. Today, however, I found myself automatically pronouncing the words the way they should be pronounced. I'm not saying my Latin was perfect, by any means, but it was a lot closer to what it's supposed to be than I can accomplish most days. I attribute the improved pronunciation to having formally conjured my HGA today before the rite. He does make a difference.

After reading the Conjuration, I called first on the Angels of Summer, Gargatel, Tariel and Gaviel. And Tubiel, the head of the sign of Summer. I included them today because I had included them mid-Summer when I screwed up the last ritual. Also, it's Labor Day weekend, and I'm taking down the pool out back, and I figured it was good to conjure them in general to thank them for the good times I had this year. Taking August off is a habit I could get into, if I could afford it.

In the Heptameron, it includes the name of the Earth in each season. In Summer, the name of the Earth is Festatavi. During the conjuration of the angels of Summer, I said, "Come now to the Earth which is called Festatavi" to include this name as well. I just sort of thought it was important.

I did the same for the Angels of the Lord's Day. Now, there are a lot of them in the Heptameron. Twenty-nine, altogether. There are three for the Lord's Day, Michael, Dardiel, and Huratapal. Then there's the Angel of the Air ruling on the Lord's Day, Varcan, and his Ministers, Tus, Andas, and Cynabal. These Angels are under the North Wind, which I mentioned while conjuring them. I don't presume that the Heptameron includes information you don't need.

After that, I conjured the Angels of the Fourth Heaven, ruling on the Lord's Day, which ought to be called from the four parts of the world. From the East, I conjured Samael, Baciel, Atel, Gabriel, and Vionairaba. From the West, I conjured Anael, Pabel, Ustael, Burchat, Suceratos, and Capabili. From the North, I conjured Aiel, Aniel, vel Aquiel, Masgabriel, Sapiel, and Matuyel. From the South, I conjured Haludiel, Machasiel, Charusiel, Uriel, and Naromiel.

Forty Angels, plus my HGA. It was a large rite, and my little office in the basement that I use for my ritual space was rather... full.

After conjuring the entities, the first order of business was to thank them for coming. Next we addressed "old business," that is, undoing the magic I had done before. I had thought this out before hand. I didn't want them to go out and do something I say in this rite that somehow makes things worse because I phrased something wrong.

So I simply released them from any activities I had assigned them before. I explained that although they had done what I said, I need a job and to have all my debts paid monthly. I told them to stop keeping me "without a job working for the money I make" and instead to do the things they are naturally inclined to do, as listed in the Heptameron. Specifically, procure Gold, Gems, Carbuncle (sapphire, emerald, and ruby), and Riches, and to bring favor and so forth and so on on my behalf. I told them specifically to build wealth so that my family is in the top .05% of the planet's wealthiest people, and to start by getting me a job to pave the way towards this final outcome. I mentioned the name of the job I wanted in particular, a place not far from home that provides all the benefits and salary and security I want from a job. If I have to work, this place would be ideal.

Afterward, I dismissed them and wrapped things up. I checked my clock, and I had finished with one minute of the Solar hour left to work in. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Required Reading: Sorceror's Secrets

I just finished reading Jason Miller's Sorceror's Secrets, and it is now on my list of books that Should Be Read By Everyone. Jason presents techniques that have never been published, as well as techniques that you may have been using for years... with hollow results. He provides exactly what the title promises, the secrets that empower the practices that you might have learned when you were a teenager browsing the "Metaphysical" section of Walden Books at the mall.

I mean, he teaches things that I only learned after conjuring the spirits. He reveals details of the breathing techniques and meditative practices I learned when I was first starting out that open the gateways to the power of the occult. He taught me things that I didn't even know I didn't know. It's a great book.

More than technique though, and maybe more importantly, he teaches a philosophy of magic that takes years of actual practice to develop on your own. Most occultists I know get interested, study some, do some magic, have it fail, and move on, never realizing what they're missing that would make their magic actually work. The rare magician who spends the time devoting themselves to figuring out why they failed and what to do instead will eventually reach the process he reveals, but man, I wish I had read this book and put the lessons into practice years ago.

As our friendship has developed, I've often compared myself to Jason in terms of magical attainment. I don't know many magicians that actually do magic, honestly, and when I find them, I can't help but compare myself to them. Some I'm obviously ahead of, and others I'm obviously behind. With Jason, I've always felt like I'm almost at the same level. I think his initiations into Tantric magic and his memberships in several organizations gives him an edge, but more than that I think what sets him above me as a magician/sorceror is his experience doing magic. After reading his latest book, I'm more convinced than ever that I'm right, he's better, maybe not by much, but the trick to attainment is practice.

And he teaches the things about magical practice that you need to do to be effective in your Work. While he's a practical magician and talks a lot about manifestation and magic focused on obtaining things in this world, he also teaches spiritual attainment techniques that will aid in the transformation of your soul. His understanding of the material world is excellent, and the chapter on wealth magic alone is worth the price of the book. I really enjoyed the book, enjoyed the lessons, and felt a resonance in what I do and what I've learned from the spirits.

Honestly, the man teaches things in this book that will result in blowing your effectiveness as a magician out of the water. I was concerned when I saw he'd be covering the same things I've already learned and thought I knew, but the keys he provides to even such simple techniques as breathing and looking out at the world are empowering. He provides so much more than the regurgitated bullshit you usually get. In addition, I strongly suspect he's managed to reveal secrets he received as part of his initiations into several Western orders and  his Tantric training without actually breaking any vows. He definitely goes over things I only learned from the Spirits themselves. Very cool stuff, and it should be on every magician's list of books to buy, read, and apply to their lives.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know how highly I think of my own teachings and insights. Bear that in mind when I say I couldn't have written a better, more comprehensive system that touches on all the aspects I've learned and lays it out practically and usefully for everyone with the calling to be a magician.

That said, I do have one huge criticism of the book, but it's aimed entirely at the publisher. The typos and grammatical errors are gruesome. I had a chance to copy edit a couple of chapters, and those are perfect (of course), but the rest... well, let's just say New Page did a huge disservice to the book and the author by not doing a better job editing the manuscript (if they edited it at all). There were misspellings in the section headings in the chapters, for Christ's sake. As a writer, it was annoying, but as a magician it pissed me the fuck off.

Jason's given the occult community a doctrine that perfectly encapsulates the role of the magician as I understand it, and he goes over everything I've learned to do and then some in a book I devoured in two days. It's awesome. But the typos and bad grammar detract from the overall impact the book could have had, and it's a shame.

My final word? Buy the book, and see past the errors in presentation to the perfection of the system he provides, and you'll be well served.