Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Intellectual and Personal Responses to the "Court of Brigid"

[Edit: After seeing a couple of the comments so far, I want to make it clear up front in this post that I'm not intending this post as a criticism of Ian's project, it's an observation of my own hypocrisy.]

I've been following Ian Corrigan's development of his "Court of Brigid" rites with a great deal of interest. He describes it as an "effort to develop a ritual spirit arte that applies the general principles of Euro-Grimoiric methods using the Druidic Order of Ritual and inside a pre-Neoplatonic, Indo-European mythic cosmos."

I've got conflicting perspectives on the whole thing. Intellectually, it's fascinating to see what he's doing and to read his results. I'm very interested to see what happens when he gets to the conjurations of the spirits of the "Courts" he's identified. In my opinion, the proof of his concept will be demonstrated in his results in that specific aspect of the rites.

But personally, I find the whole thing fundamentally distasteful. In the '80s and '90s, it was really popular to make up your own flavor of Wicca. Faery Wicca, Dancing with Dragons Wicca, Lord of the Rings Wicca, it didn't matter what theme you picked, you just took the basic novice-grade GD-derived rites and substituted the God-Names and Elemental Representatives with whatever you wanted. As recently as 2008, Raven Grimassi published a book on how to make up your own Wiccan tradition. It's a standard practice in Neopaganism, with roots going back to Gardner, as far as I know.

Ian's up to the same old mischief, only he's gotten rid of the GD stuff and went back further to the approaches of the grimoires. I'll admit it, I'm a bit territorial when it comes to the grimoires, and the appropriation of techniques I happen to use by others. I see in his list of published books a lot of the techniques and approaches to magic explored by Jason Miller, Jake Stratton-Kent, and Aaron Leitch. I see a neopaganized version of the kinds of things I've been blogging about for the last six years, and I feel a bit used, and uncompensated. (That may be code for jealous, but I'm not entirely sure.)

I don't know if my issues with the approach are based on anything valid or not though. We all adapt stuff to suit our needs and desires. I'm fascinated with Jake Stratton-Kent's efforts to revitalize the Goetic traditions of the past and turn the Magical Revival into a living tradition in our culture. I see my own work with Hermetics to be an effort in that direction, with less emphasis on the roots of Goetia, but still focused on practicing a practical living tradition that helps people today using the magical techniques that have been around for at least the last 10,000 years.

We're all creating new systems based on the old ones, to varying degrees, but never exactly as performed at any stage in history. We make adjustments, include pieces of different approaches according to our own personal intuition and input from our glorified spirit guides about what needs to go where. Frater Ashen is the most traditional magician I know and work with, and even he makes adaptations as he sees fit. His adaptations all come from traditional sources, and make sense, and look really good, but they are still adaptations.

Hell, I don't think any two magicians have ever performed the exact same rite, honestly. There's always variance.

But there's something about neopagan adaptations that rubs me the wrong way, in the same way that the worst kinds of Chaos Magic rubs me the wrong way. It just has an air of fraudulence, an aroma of flatulence. The Court of Brigid? Really? What Bardic epic points to Brigid ever having a court of spirit assistants that were ever conjured and worked with the way a grimoire magician works with the rank and file of angels and demons? Wasn't she a Warrior Queen or something? Boudica, the Celtic Warrior Princess? Trapped in a tower by an evil Fairy who used her hair for magical purposes, but it could never be cut with iron shears, and then one day she let an errant prince into her tower with her hair, and he raped her while she slept, and the twin babies were lost in a forest when the ravens ate their trail of breadcrumbs or something?

I'm not real sure what she did, but I'm pretty sure she never had a Court of Servant Spirits, or responded to any conjurations.

But at the same time, it's a logical conclusion he's made, Powerful Dead spirits who get worshiped after their death usually would, in theory, accumulate a gaggle of assistant spirits over time, as adherents and dedicants died and went on to whatever functions they might have in the afterlife. That's how several of the pantheons in ATRs came into being, if I understand the process correctly.

And as far as mixing systems in our adaptations goes, I've included Orphic Hymns to the gods of the Planets in my planetary rites with Archangels, Intelligences and Spirits. It's effective. It's powerful. It's an adaptation based on sound theory that has useful results.

So I just don't really know what to think about the whole thing he's got going on in the depths of that Mound he's always going into. If he managed a visible manifestation that changed his world entirely, and demonstrated the 16 or so sub-spirits of the system were at least as potent as the saints of the Catholic tradition in meeting the needs of the incarnate, it would go a long way towards convincing me that he's onto something real, something big, and something effective.

But ultimately, he doesn't have to prove anything to me. He has to prove its effectiveness and applicability to no one but himself. Regardless, I'm watching what happens because I want to delve into some of the stuff Jake talks about in Geosophia, and I want to do it using the Modern Angelic Grimoire techniques, talk to the Heroes and Sibyls in a Crystal like God intended.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

eBook Page Fixed

Apparently, my eBook page was acting up and the PayPal buttons weren't working. After hacking into the code, I discovered some missing form fields. No idea how that happened. They were working fine up until a month or so ago.

But it's fixed. You can now order my stuff using both PayPal and Google Checkout, whichever you prefer.

If anyone runs into any problems purchasing eBooks, Red Work Courses, or any Applied Hermetics services, please let me know.

Monday, January 23, 2012

In my Lifetime

In my lifetime, the Moon will be colonized.

This is awesome. Ever since I was a child reading Science Fiction genre books, I've been watching the hard truths of reality overcome the aspirations of countless humans who took it for granted that some day we would be living on the Moon. I'm almost 40 now, and after the 90s and the first decade of the 21st century, I'd about given up on it. The last 20 years have seen some of the biggest boom times of our history, and even with all that money, we weren't living on the Moon.

But at last, they're starting to make the strides necessary to get us off the planet. It's important to us as a species. The planet's a temporary home, at best. And I don't mean spiritually, though that's true enough.

I don't know how far we'll get. We've got a lot of issues as a species that need to be worked out. What good is spreading the hatred and violence we lavish on one another to the stars going to do the universe at large? And who says we're even smart enough to manage it?

The path of Hermetics that I follow leads to joining in the choirs of angels that live beyond the terrestrial sphere. It's all about taking my place in the brotherhood of trans-material entities who travel freely between the planets. I focus my efforts in the spiritual realms, but I'm proud of my human brothers and sisters who are taking it to the material plane as well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's All One Thing that Functions as if It were Lots of Things

Today's post is inspired by the discussions on whether or not "it" is "all in your head" and stuff. Fr. SEA, Jason Miller, Patrick Dunn, and Eion Keith Boyle have weighed in, making various points from various perspectives. My name came up in Fr. SEA's comments, so I feel obliged to throw in my two cents' worth. The title sums up my position, everything below is just commentary on it.

The way I see it, it's all One big Thing, this existence we experience, and it all comes from One Source, and it's all still connected, and it can only be truly appreciated when you look at it as a whole.

But it all manifests as if it were independent. I am of God, but not God, even though I'm an extension of God. I experience my world as if I were separate from it, an object within a field of objects that all interact and are interdependent, but still with definable borders between "me" and "not me."

The various spiritual experiences and the meanings we discern from these experiences fall somewhere on the spectrum between "It's all One Thing" and "It's all separate things." Both ends of the spectrum are true and useful for various contexts, and where you're at consciously on that spectrum depends a lot on what you're dealing with.

If I'm focusing on Ascension and Theurgy, I tend to get more solipsistic. If I'm focusing on changing my world, I tend to focus more on the individuation of the All Thing. Most of the time, I'm practical about my life, and regardless of whether it's all in some big Universal Mind or not, I have to deal with the expressions of that Mind as if they weren't all the same thing.

But when I don't have to focus on the individuations of the All Thing, I can focus on how it's just a big beautiful process, that just goes on and on in awesomeness.

Spirits are as separate from me as I am from you. They are also as connected. Compassion, my least favorite of spiritual lessons, has taught me that what I do to and for myself impacts others, and that matters in the grand scheme of things. Wisdom has taught me that at the same time, I'm not personally responsible for your decisions or circumstances. I'm obligated to help where I can, and I'm obligated to not help where I cannot.

It's a balance. You move your awareness along the spectrum to deal with the context you're addressing. I don't expect to ever be "at one with the All Thing" any more (or less) than I am now. If that were the point, I wouldn't have ever manifested separately in the first place. As far as I can tell, I get to be separate for as long as separation exists, and no one's shared the scheduled date for the return to Cosmic Singularity with me.

Most of the time, it hasn't mattered much that it's all One Thing. That "truth" just helps me keep some things in perspective, some of the time. Other times, it just gets on my nerves.

Post Title Undetermined

I don't have any kind of formal post in mind today, but these are some random thoughts passing through my mind about Teachers in general. Approaches to teaching, phases we go through, things we think about. Moods that come and go.

They're all things I've thought or felt at various times as a teacher, some more often than others. They're also things I see in my fellow teachers of occultism, and if you're a blogger, you're included in that category in my cosmogram.

  • Everybody's a Fucking Idiot but me, so send Me your Money!
  • Oh my GOD, this is AWESOME SHIT right here, you gotta fuckin' TRY it, like NOW! Hurry, you're just wasting time!
  • Fuck this shit. I quit.
  • To date, these are the things I've learned, but there's a lot more to go. I'll put it in words that work best for me, but you'll have to figure out the meaning in your own way, or discover a meaning behind the symbols that is better suited for where you're at in your life's context.
  • Oh my god, no one ever listens to me! I've been saying that shit for years, for fuck's sake. Jesus, people, catch the fuck up.
  • FUCK! I was wrong... still no refunds.
  • If you had only done the research, and the practical Work related to it, you wouldn't be arguing with me. Try it some time, and then you'll see that I'm right, or you'll at least be better qualified to argue with me.
  • Holy shit, I'm more enlightened than YOU!? Fuck.
  • Some shit works, some shit doesn't. The journey's not that great, and the destination is less pleasant than anticipated. And I'm pretty sure they made it that way on purpose just to keep you moving on.
  • No shit, Sherlock.
  • Oh my god, really? Really!? I need a drink.
  • Hey, this is stuff that helped me achieve a measure of happiness that I am currently enjoying. Hope it works for you as well as it works for me.
  • You're doing it wrong.
  • I will RULE TEH WORLDS!!! And you can rule yours too!
  • You did what? And it did what? Sweet! I gotta try that some time.
  • You're doing it right!
  • Now what?
  • Hmmm. That's interesting. Let me think about it.
  • I used to be an adventurer like you.

I think that about covers the moods and approaches I've been through since starting out in this teaching gig, not necessarily in any kind of chronological order. Ego, ambition, disappointment, excitement, the thrill of the hunt.

It's interesting how many of them are more about other people than about where I'm at and where I'm going. Relationships with other people are important, apparently. And I have an inclination to think I'm right that is usually justifiable, but maybe not as accurate as I'd like to think.

And there's an irritability that drives a lot of my Work, a certain Holy Dissatisfaction that keeps me moving onward and upward. That's neat. Should have gotten its own post, probably.

I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with feeling any of these ways at different times, except that first one, and most of us get past that before we really start becoming useful teachers. I cycle through most of the rest regularly.

I don't really know why I'm posting this. Usually when I write the random-thought posts, they sit in the draft bin for years before I get around to deleting them. But I think I'm posting this so you'll think about how teachers are, how they act, and remember that they're people of varied interests and moods, just like you. Learn from people, but take what they're saying with a grain of salt. Sometimes they're brilliant, other times they're assholes, and in the end it's all beautiful.

Until you take an arrow to the knee.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NYNY: Some Enchanted Evening

I'm behind schedule on the New Year, New You Experiment.

The RO household is packed with four birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve between November 21 and January 25. It's the busiest two months of my year, and it physically, mentally, and especially financially kicks my ass every year.

This year has been as busy and tiring and costly as ever, but I've made it through son's birthday, Thanksgiving, daughter's birthday, Christmas, New Year's, and now my spouse's birthday. Only one daughter's birthday left to go, and that's already planned and paid for, and I don't have to do nothin' else to support that.


So, as the bandwidth becomes available, I'm allocating it to my other projects. I'm still in the Clean Up phase in some things, specifically the courses. I've got client work backed up that I have to catch up on too. I did a lot of course writing over the Christmas vacation, and one of my students helped with editing support (thanks Alex!), but I keep thinking "there's still a lot left to do before I'm ready to start focusing on the actual radical transformation through magic."

And that's my biggest hurdle. There's always something else to do before I can get started on something else.

So I'm changing the scope of the project. My new goals for this Experiment are:
  • Old Business - Finish it.
  • New Business - Start it.
With that in mind, here's my planned Enchanted Evening:

On a Mercury Day, in a Mercury Hour (tonight around 7:30), perform the Mercury Gate rite with the following statement of intent:

Raphael, Tiriel, Taphthartharath, thou spirits of Mercury ever flowing, encapsulators of Idea into Form, aid me in the accomplishment of the tasks at hand. Empower me, inspire me, bring me the eloquence to express clearly the Mysteries I have seen. Aid me in the completion of the Red Work series of Courses, and the completion of all outstanding Old Business. Let it flow cohesively into being from the Mind of God through me into the finished work projected into the minds of those called to receive the Hermetic revelations I've been granted. Let the right word be ever present, let no writer's block stand in my way. Grant the peace of mind that comes from all things being in their place accomplishing their function, that I may focus clearly on the tasks at hand. Bring the Old Business to conclusion quickly, completely, and to the satisfaction of all who read it.

Or something like that. Definitely along those lines. I'm not going to focus on New Business until the end of the Old Business is in sight. I keep finding more and more Old Business that I never finished, and that's got to end. If this doesn't do it, I may have to resort to Saturnine and Martial forces to get the work done.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Traffic Source: Piracy!

So, checking some blog stats, I found the number one search term that brings visitors to my site is this:

restitution ro rufus opus "restitution for piracy"


Ok, you piratin' bitches, hope you landed here this time, so I can set you straight:


There is no curse on anyone anywhere on the planet as a result of pirating my work, in any way, shape or form. You're forgiven.* I lifted the curse a year or more ago after adjusting my business perspective on the whole piracy thing. I still disapprove, but it generates buzz about my work, and that leads to more sales, so, whatever.

Point is, there is no curse on you if you pirated my stuff, ok? If your life sucks, it's not because you pirated my work, specifically, it's just because life sucks. So use that shit you pirated to make it a better place. 

* You want to pay for your crimes? Send me an email and I'll send you a $50 invoice to absolve your conscience. Money's not required to lift the curse, but I love money, and if it makes you feel better to send me some, by all means, do so! And I'll even send you an official "No worries!" email absolving you of any subsequent pangs of guilt.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Initiatory Work of the Traditional Grimoires

When you go through the painstaking process of creating all the tools, talismans, implements, and Magic Circles of the traditional grimoires with the heart of the true magician, on fire and enflamed with the passion of your true Love, you go through one of the most rigorous and life changing initiations possible.

The creation of a real talisman, from raw metal to finished, engraved, consecrated talisman is a process of transformation that is Alchemical in every sense of the word. After you've made and consecrated a talisman, you've interacted with the Four Elemental Kingdoms in all three of their phases, you've spent an extended time in the presence of the spirit who works through the talisman, and that interaction as you and it worked together to create the finished thing and brought it into being in the material plane has forever changed the harmonics of your sphere. You've been tuned through the properties of spiritual resonance.

When someone like Mr. Ashen or Mr. Cecchetelli goes through the process of creating the tools for his Solomonic rites, he's going through that initiatory process of talisman creation at every stage of the preparation. His heart's aflame with the passion of his intent, and that intent blazes through the Spheres, a clarion call to the Spirits.

How many of these initiations do they go through to perform something like a conjuration from the Lemegeton's Goetia? How many times do they end up inscribing the Ten Names and Seals of the Intelligences of the Spheres? At least twice, for the lion's skin belt, and for the Magic Circle they stand within. You make a MAgic Circle full size, and it's incredible how you feel standing in the center as the paint dries. You feel the spirits aiding you as you write out their names, and if you're trying to do it without the right heart, the right attitude of reverence, they invariably smack you down and make you start again.

It's a Holy process.

A process of transformation.

If you're having a hard time seeing and hearing the spirits, take a few months and devote it to creating all the implements of the grimoire of your choice. The Almadel, the Arbatel, the Ars Paulina, the True Grimoire, the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals, Crossed Keys, the Order of the Black Powdered Octopus, The Greater Key of Solomon, Abramelin, Samekh, the exercises in Strategic Sorcery or Protection and Reversal Magic.

Do them well, do them honest, do them pure and true, or as true as you can, and it will start that process of change that leads to the visible and audible manifestation of spirits.

Unless you're spiritually blind and deaf. It's a condition that some people have, and it's nothing to be ashamed of, although it's certainly frustrating. If you've gone to all the work of putting together a straight, by-the book rite, and you've performed it at the appropriate astrological timing, and you've meant every word you've uttered, from the heart, and you're still not getting anything, and you've done it a lot more than once with zero results, don't despair. There are several grimoires that suggest working with a seer because the simple fact is this: Everyone doesn't see or hear spirits. That doesn't mean the magic doesn't work, it just means some folks are deaf and blind to the spirit world for whatever reason.

And who knows... it might be for a very good reason.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Transform this decayed form... to MUMRA! The EVER-LIVING!!!

As I prepare for tonight's Jupiter rite (3 minutes and counting), I can't get that Mumra thing out of my head.

Without the "Evil" part, and without nearly as much maniacal laughter afterwards, that's how I feel when I conjure up my HGA before doing the rites.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

NYNY: Doing Something Nice... For Myself?


I look at the writing prompt for the New Year New You Experiment this week, and I'm all... whoa, WTF, Deb? Do something nice for ME?

I can't even think of anything that would be nice to do for myself...

[pause to go re-read Deb's Prompt]

Ok, so I went back and re-read the list of things she suggests for pampering yourself, and I think I maybe might have possibly figured out what the problem is...

I already do all that stuff, whenever I want to. 
* A salted caramel hot cocoa from Starbucks at a bookstore where you look at French Vogue and pretend you're part of GossipGirl
I got a Caramel Frappuccino last time I went to Target and just sat and drank it there in the store, browsing through the blogs on my phone, enjoying that I'm awesome amongst the awesomest friends and co-Workers.
* A bottle of Prosecco, bread, fruit, cheese and dried meats and your favorite book.
Literally had a plate of jalapeno jack, peperoni, and the fancy crackers (not the Ritz, the ones in the box that only have a single row that they sell above the cheeses) just two nights ago.
* An hour playing a video game you never have time for
Bitch, please! I've always got an hour for video games! That's how I stay sane! Dead Island is my current favorite, I just can't seem to get into MW3, and Skyrim takes some commitment.

* Going to a yoga class and then feel smug about the sundae you eat afterwards.
Heh, I don't go to yoga classes, but I DID buy myself a gallon of Rocky Road last time I was at the grocery store, and actually got a couple bowls before the kids murdered it.
* Buying yourself a small luxury item just because (flowers, cashmere socks, a favorite magazine, a new lipstick).
I bought myself a Sonic Screwdriver the week before Christmas, just because sonic screwdrivers are cool.
* A car ride in the countryside with your favorite music playing
I take the back roads home on the way home from work when I want that.

* A long bath
I prefer showers, the kind where you ever so slightly make it warmer a little at a time until you're standing in almost pure hot water, right where you know if you go a little further you'll end up all Two-Face:

And I did that Monday, for like an hour.

* A pedicure (it's good for boys too, I assure you)
For real, I gave myself one last night before reading her list of suggestions. My son had gotten my spouse one of those foot-callous remover things for Christmas, and I totally used it and trimmed my nails and rubbed my feet with balm.

* A mini marathon of your favorite trashy telly show with your favorite indulgence (smoking, drinking, junk food, etc.)
Spent a while last night watching Warehouse 13, Doctor Who (the Tom Baker episodes), and Torchwood on Netflix while eating a whole tub full of reheated roast beast with mashed potatoes and gravy.

So... yeah, I don't know if this counts or not.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

On Visible Conjurations

Fraters Ashen and Cecchetelli, two magicians who I respect highly as individuals and co-Workers in the divine sense, have recently posted their views regarding the visible appearance of spirits to magicians when performing grimoire magic. I do not disagree with any of their statements or conclusions, but I do have concerns about their emphasis on the visibility of spirits and the ability to clearly hear the spirits speak.

Mr. Ashen has made it clear that he doesn't believe your average guy walking down the street, peeking in through a window during a conjuration is going to see the spirits the magician sees during the rite. I'm pretty sure Mr. Cecchetelli would also agree that the things the magician "sees" during the ritual are not necessarily going to be seen by anyone else standing in the room with him.

Mr. Ashen presents a cogent theory about why this happens. If you don't have the framework to mentally process the presence of the spirit, you don't see it. He gives the following example:
An excellent story I heard from my anthropology class was about a researcher who went to investigate the powers of a shaman somewhere in the south Asian jungles. The shaman was curing an afflicted boy who's disease was caused by a local demon the village people said. .... During the exorcism, the tribes folk all saw the demon fly out of the boy and break a limb of a tree with its body as it left. The anthropologist was present, felt strong winds arise and witnessed the breaking limb but could not see the demon.... A great case study as I recall, the researcher was amazed and quite disturbed but didn't have the "aptitude" or mental language to see the spirit directly.. In the realm of hypnosis and mental/unconscious comprehension ... You see this a lot.
And this is why I'm concerned about the emphasis: if you don't have the 'aptitude' or mental language to see the spirit directly, you will not see it.

Most people simply do not have that aptitude when they begin practicing magic. Mr. Ashen talks about how his ability to "see" and "hear" the spirits grew over time. He didn't start out seeing and hearing spirits clearly. Mr. Cecchetelli also talks about how he had been doing magic for a while before he began to see and hear the spirits. No one, not even Lisiewski believes the spirits are going to be visible to everyone during a conjuration. There's too much evidence to the contrary in the grimoires themselves, and all through the historic source material of the grimoires, and in our personal experiences with the spirits. The spirits appear only to the magician conjuring them, or their scrying assistants.

The ability to see and hear the spirits comes, in my experience, after you've started contacting the spirits. The more time you spend with them, the more you become like them. As you reclaim your divine heritage and come to terms with your role in existence, you get the senses you need to be able to interact with your spiritual co-creators in the hierarchy of spirits that manifest the World. The Great Work transforms you from a lump of mostly flesh and bone with some basic urges to survive and a curiosity about this whole "magic" business into a consciously aware Creator and Maintainer of your existence, the half-god, half-human fulcrum between the manifest and unmanifest realms who ascends to the heavens and returns in power to create their world.

It's a process. You develop the skills to see and hear the spirits over time.

And until you do, you aren't going to be able to see anything, or hear anything. That doesn't mean your results aren't real. If you set your expectations at the outset of your conjuration endeavors at visible appearance and audible voices, you're going to fail. If you reject all your experiences that aren't in line with this expectation, you'll reject everything that happens that leads to the ability to see and hear the spirits.

I've talked to people who have performed the very strict requirements of the Lemegeton's Goetia, including the making of the lion skin belt, who have had visible and audible manifestations of the spirits. I've also talked to a few people who bought the lion skin and made the belt the way the grimoire says who experienced absolutely nothing. It's not the belt that makes the magician.

I've never made or used a lion skin belt. The system I use is based on the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. I reduced the complexity to write up the Modern Angelic Grimoire and provide new magicians with everything they need to perform effective conjurations the same day they buy the book. I did so because it's most important to me to get more people doing magic.

When I perform conjurations, I use an even more modified adaptation of the Modern Angelic Grimoire. I use a cigar box that I've got wired up to light an LED after the current passes through a metal talisman placed across two electrodes poking up through The Box. The LED lights up my crystal ball, which rests on an bezel. The crystal ball sits in the center of the Table of Practice from the Modern Angelic Grimoire.

I'm so far removed in my practice from the original Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals that I doubt whoever wrote it originally would be able to discern that I based my practice on that manuscript.

Yet I have used this method to conjure spirits across the spectrum of Hermetic spiritual hierarchies to visible and audible appearance. I have "actually witnessed the poundings on the wall, flashes of light, smells, moans, screams, voices, and visible appearance of a spirit," as Mr. Ashen puts it, even though my methodology is vastly different from his. I've felt that divine bliss Mr. Ashen attempts* to describe towards the end of his post.

But I will still tell my students that these phenomena do not matter, at least, at first. They are not required for successful magic, and poltergeist activity does not guarantee you'll get the things you're Working towards in your conjuration. What good is it to have a haunted house if you're not getting any Work done?

And I have yet to meet any magician who has experienced this stuff from the very beginning of their work, although I've met plenty of magicians who spent hundreds on lion skins and made their belts to specification who had as much to show for their efforts as someone who printed out a Table of Practice and a Lamen and used a coffee mug full of colored water to scry into.

Yet I also understand why he says, "To me, its a cop out, I smile yet feel sorry for the new magicians who settle for these words." 

It does sell the whole experience short to say that this stuff "doesn't matter" at all. It is important, nothing transforms your perspective on what we're doing with magic quite like a visible and audible spirit manifesting in front of you. The idea that this stuff never happens, or should never be expected by the magician at best robs the student of the possibility of something cool, but at worst leaves them completely unprepared for when it actually happens. I personally believe that if you spend time conjuring spirits, sooner or later you will see and hear some weird shit. 

And that's awesome.

If you want that kind of result, if you require that level of manifestation to overcome your doubts about the veracity of your practice, and these particular manifestations in your mind will serve to prove to your skeptical self that you really are experiencing the spirits and not just imagining things, then by all means, go for it. I would advise that you temper your expectations, and not take failure to see the visions or hear the voices right off the bat as a reason to give up. Keep at it, and sooner or later you will see enough to believe.

And frankly, the closer I've gotten to the actual instructions in the grimoires, the more manifestations I've seen. Mr. Ashen made me an ebony wand to the specifications given in the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals, and when I use it, the air is filled with power from the moment I pick it up, and the visions of the spirits in the crystals come through with more clarity than when I do not. It's like I don't have to try as hard to see what they're trying to show me.

But to me, the proof of your magical effectiveness is not found in the visions or sounds you hear during a rite. The proof is in the transformation of your life, and the consistency of your results over time.

* I say "attempts" only because it's precisely the kind of experience that can't be described accurately; Mr. Ashen does as good of a job at describing it as is humanly possible.