Monday, February 27, 2012

Applied Hermetics Update and Tips on Buying Occult Services

Life is good, brothers and sisters, life is good. Sales are up, people are learning traditional Hermetic magic with a firm grounding in the principles of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, and I'm making bank. The Red Work series of courses is doing phenomenally well. So well, in fact, it needs my full attention for a while.

As a result, I'm cutting back on the Applied Hermetics Services. Going forward, I'm only offering the Hermetic Diagnosis, and the Business Booster rite. I'll no longer be taking on new client work. This will give me the time to focus more on the completion and maintenance of the Courses, and to catch up on some backlogged work without extending the backlog even further.

I'll continue to work with existing clients on an as-needed basis, but all new client requests (other than Hermetic Diagnoses and Business Booster Rites) will receive recommendations to other practitioners I feel are qualified. In fact, I can tell you straight up who I'd recommend now and save some time*:

Jason Miller
The Valentines 
Michael Cecchetelli
Chris Warnock
Conjureman Ali
De Heer Balthazar

There are others I'd recommend who haven't formally started taking on clients that I know of (cough cough Deb, Fr. SEA, VonFaustus, Fr. AIT, Witchdoctor Joe, Adam cough cough).

These are the no-bullshit magical practitioners-for-money who I'm confident can deliver what they offer, no punk, no funk, no elevator junk.

Except Valentines, he can bring the punk on occasion, when it's fucking necessary.

And they've all got the funk.

But no elevator junk! They all rock it hard in their own way.

Whatever you do, go with someone who takes money, for a couple of reasons. When you give money for a service, it creates a very Hermetic/Mercurial sympathetic bond between the two of you. The exchange of money for a service seals a covenant between you and the practitioner, just exactly like the pacts made between Abraham and YHVH, and every other magician before or since.

Also, when you give a magician money in a covenantal, pact-based exchange of cash for services, they incur a debt, an obligation that they are held to by higher powers. They have to deliver to the best of their abilities, or else they pay the price. It's a magical oath the magician is held to as strongly as the Oath of the Abyss or the Bodhisattva vows. So buying the services of a magician provides its own built-in warranty that you will receive what you pay for.

That doesn't mean you get what you want, it only means the magician has to do what they said they would do for you. You can pay a magician all you want to get rich, but that won't guarantee any wealth rituals will work for you. It will only guarantee that they will do whatever they can to make you wealthy, or else.

Basically, when you hire a magician, you're doing the same thing a magician does when he conjures a spirit. The spirit you conjure by buying a service happens to be in a physical body like yours, but you're still creating a pact with a spirit and their associates to work on your behalf to manifest the world in accordance with your desires.

 * If you provide occult services and would like to be mentioned, don't bother asking for a referral unless I know you really well and have expressed my respect for your work. I might have forgotten to mention some folks because I have a mind like a solid steel sieve, but don't be expecting me to mention you if I don't know you from Adam. (Adam, I'm not talking about you, I'll refer them to you whenever you're ready to start taking clients.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spiritual Trauma and the Shamanic Death Trip

I love me some HGA talk!

Acher's recent publication of his initial research on the origins of the HGA has sparked more discussion on one of my favorite topics. You'd better not go Gordon and be all, "“meh, I’ll catch it next time around. Might have something new to say then.”

This is important to you personally because you've been fed a line of total bullshit about the HGA all your occult life, and if you're going to understand it and be able to work with it the way god intended, you'd damned well better be reprogramming yourself by reading these discussions when they come up.

I'll try to keep it entertaining, and interesting though, I know how you are.*

So Rose wrote a post today about the HGA and her take on it. She expressed concern about potential blogosphere backlash for expressing her belief that the published rites and rituals aren't required to gain K&CHGA, and I feel her pain.**

Rose is right on when she says the HGA is there from birth, it says so clearly in the Abramelin manuscripts. Check Mathers and Dehn, if you don't believe me. See Chapter thirteen of the Mathers version, it's online and handy so I can look it up. Look at what happens on the 7th day, what he tells you about your life with him that you've never known. Couldn't happen unless Rose is spot on accurate about the spirit being there all the time from birth.

It's there working with you and for you whether you know it or not. All the rite provides is conscious interaction with it, and the ability to see it.

Rose expresses her thoughts on the relationship between trauma and spiritual experiences, gifts, and insights, and how sometimes they can serve to kick off the ability to see, hear, and interact with spirits. I think that's not only accurate, but a key insight into understanding what actually goes on in these HGA rites anyway.

The rites and rituals that are designed to put you into contact with the HGA in modern times are functionally designed to induce a traumatic event so intense that you are able to see, hear, and interact with your HGA. You spend your six months or eighteen months ritually creating the circumstances necessary to instigate a psychic breakdown, to create a reframing experience that allows your whole perception to be altered. You use special oils and perfumes to put your brain into a particular state, and there's some speculation that you get high to help. Aaron Leitch very carefully doesn't mention that he uses Marijuana as a psychoreagent in his Work with the Holy Guardian Angel. He also carefully doesn't show it in a picture on his blog.

In my experience with gaining K&CHGA, I started doing Liber Samekh, minus the GD line dancing, and two weeks later I had the experience that indicates contact has been made. Two weeks! That's not 6 months, or 18 months. It's not even close!

But it happened after 2 fucking years of spiritual hell. I'd been pure fundy, pouring my heart out to god, literally in tears in his presence on a daily basis looking for answers, help, peace, succor. I was on an ecstatic mystic's journey to the heart of the Sun for years before hearing a still small voice telling me to go back to the occult and looking at it through the eyes of a born again new creation in Christ. The framework was laid, the pump was primed, I'd spent years enflamed in prayer, systematically destroying my psyche through the well-intended but spiritually bereft advice books of the modern Charismatic-Puritan movement in the Church. I mean, I was basically living like a Plymouth Brother, Crowley's home religion. It makes perfect sense that his rite would work for me, when you think about it.

But the trauma is the key. You've got to get yourself all hyped up, all psyched out, and maintain it for a while to hit that moment of breakthrough when you smell that smell and say, blessed is the day of the Lord! It's not a once-and-done kind of thing. It's a full on rebirth experience that drives you a little bit crazy to make you a little bit more sane.

It's just exactly like the Shamanic Death Trip, at least as far as I understand it. The shamans were ritually buried and hopped up on psychoactive drugs to get through to the spirit world, receive a vision and an ally or two, and return able to cross the bridge between the realms to fight spiritual battles for their community. I'm sure that's not exactly historically accurate, but that's basically the understanding I have. The Masons recreate the Death Trip as part of their initiations too. You go through something traumatic.

But here's the thing. These rites and rituals create specifically designed traumatic experiences. Think about it. How did they figure out they needed to artificially create trauma to establish conscious communion with the spirit realm? From real life trauma.

They saw that when someone got hit in the head and started seeing spirits and speaking in tongues. Yeah, maybe it was brain damage sometimes, but other times the weird shit they said came true. Putting a leaf in a fire under the right stars and mumbling gibberish made the hunts more successful, and when that guy died, they had to figure out how to replace him. Physical trauma didn't always work, but drugs and ritual death seemed to, and next thing you know, a few thousand years later, we have Abramelin and Liber Samekh.

They're artificial recreations of real life trauma events, modified, toned down, but geared towards the same result. And anyone who's been through attaining K&CHGA will tell you, it comes after pain. Solar initiations are represented by the Cross for a reason in Rosicrucian symbolism. Death and resurrection, man. Death hurts, even when it's temporary.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, the things that caused trauma didn't go away. As technology improved and populations grew and spread, new forms of psychic-vision-producing trauma evolved. Severe emotional and physical trauma ranks pretty high up there in the list of things that bring visions of angels to this very day. In a lot of ways, they're actually the more natural method of obtaining K&CHGA. Less predictable, less reliable, but still effective in creating re-framing experiences that allow you to see things that no one else can see.

So I'm with Rose. I think the rites and ceremonies are a much more preferable way to induce the trauma that results in the Vision and the Voice, but they aren't the only way at all.

* Tiny little attention span, pressed for time, and hungry for something fun and useful at the same time. Like me.

** I don't write up a whole lot of stuff that goes on in my practice and life because the results of the Traditional Grimoire and Aggrippinian Neo-Platonic Hermetic Magical Practice(TM) looks a WHOOOOOLE lot like the kind of stuff I've made fun of when it happens to New Agers and Paranormal Investigators. And we're supposed to be a dignified bunch, who are above that kind of poppycock. No pre-17th century documentation? It's bullshit!

That's the law.

I realized I had boxed myself into a prison of my own creation recently when I found myself jealous of Ian for being a neopagan who can just make shit up and get away with it, as long as it works. I make shit up all the time, and it works great, but I don't write it up or talk about it or sell it from the blog because it's damned hokey, and I've got an image to maintain or some shit.

Yeah, fuck all that shit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fr. Acher on the HGA

When someone tries to figure out the history of the Holy Guardian Angel in the Western Occult traditions, it's a lot like trying to excavate the Valley of Kings with a spoon. I tried it a few times over the years, but I never felt confident going back any further than Plato's Timaeus dialogue. I really felt completely out of my depth going back any further.

Fr. Acher started looking into it after some comments we exchanged about the HGA and Evil Daimon on this post back a few months ago. After much research, he's begun to publish his results. If you're an HGA aficionado, it's a very good read so far. I'm looking forward to future installments.

I had a little trouble figuring out that you click the morphing image to get to the articles at first, so here's some short cut links for technofeebs like myself:

Family Harmonics Follow-Up

A couple commenters on the Family Harmonics post asked some specific questions that I thought deserved their own post.

Mike Sententia writes:
Hi RO, love seeing case studies like this. Could you comment on the results of this magick? Also, I'm curious, how much does your family know of your magick, of this work in particular, and did they participate?

The results have been consistent with the kinds of results I've seen over the years when I conjured a spirit directly to help with an issue. The issue gets resolved, and the stress goes away. For example, my son was having issues with stress from his school work load, and a general request for assistance to all the spirits represented brought that right down to manageable levels.

The results aren't necessarily any different than any other method of involving the Spirits of the spheres in your life, it's just easier to light a candle and say a quick prayer in a stressful time. There's a passive aid that's being applied by the spirits as well, all the time, but how do you quantify that? There's more cheer, less jeer. Clearer communications, more self-control under pressure. People are nicer and happier, it seems. But it's not a make it all perfect all the time rite. It just makes things better, and it's more convenient to tap into the influence of the spirits represented.

My family is aware that I do magic, I don't hide it from them, but I raise my kids Catholic and explain it's something I do in addition to the core faith that is not necessary for everyone else to do. I don't include them in the rites, they're kids. Their brains aren't finished growing yet. I prefer to lay a foundation in the core tenets of the Faith, and then provide advanced lessons as they get older and start showing signs of interest, or a calling. I'm not going to force my weird on them. They'll have to get their own weird.

Anonymous writes:
Great post! Are the consecrations general or do they differ according to the seal? Can you post an example? It would be appreciated.
The consecrations I used were based on the type of rite that I always do, modeled on the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. I conjured each of the archangels of the planets in the appropriate hour of the appropriate day, and asked them to bring their influence and guidance of the powers they represent to benefit the individual members of the family in their daily lives, and the unit as a whole as we make our way from cradle to grave, and beyond.

The rites recorded in the Gates series of ebooks would be appropriate.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Encouraging Harmony at Home

Running a household is a complicated thing. I have to manage the budget, child development and education, extracurricular activities, transportation, communications, facilities maintenance, interior decorations, landscaping, sanitation, supply logistics, laundering, entertainment, and weekly menus. My spouse "manages" most of that stuff. I make sure the money's there to pay for it all, and do the husband-father things as necessary.

But it's an intricate and complex thing with many moving parts on complicated schedules, and keeping it all running smoothly and harmoniously is a real chore, and by the time it's warm enough, we're ready to hit the beach and unwind, work out frustrations wrestling with the sea, and recharge the brain's supply of negative ions produced by the pounding waves of the never-ending tide upon the land.

As Priest-King/God-Emperor of the Opus Estates, I consider it my job to make sure the spiritual forces that are manifesting in all these aspects of my life are working together in harmony. I use magic to help keep things running smoothly, and to deal with interruptions in the flow of processes before they can propagate across all the systems, bringing production and operations to a complete stand-still.

My first attempts at family support magic focused on Working specifically with Anael of Venus. Venus gathers together people around a common cause or idea. Family is an idea, a concept that unifies the Opus household every bit as much as the genetic ties. It's crucial that all the members of a family have a shared idea of what being a member of the family means. Everyone will have their own take and interpretation on that core idea, but they should all be harmonious.

So I started by drawing the seal of Anael on the back of a picture of our family, and performing a conjuration and consecration of the photo as a talisman to bring harmony. And it worked out really well. Ongoing conflicts and resentments were resolved, and the whole system began to run more smoothly. The family was more expressive of compassion in the form of service to one another, for love's sake. It sounds a lot cooler when I write it out like that. No one seemed to be conscious of the effects, not even me for a while. The kids quit the constant bickering, my spouse and I got along better for a while, and everyone helped each other out more with a lot less complaining. I realized one day that things had gotten better, and I was happy with the results.

But then over time, I realized that it's not just our family that affects us. Outside forces have a lot of influence. Social groups, school politics, the global economy, traffic patterns, and communications issues impacted us all the time. We dealt with it better than some people, more harmoniously as a group, but we still had to deal with external disruptions to our plans and processes.

So I expanded the talisman. The issues that come up in everyone's life run the spectrum of planetary forces. Every sphere on the Chain of Manifestation, from Saturn to the elemental kingdoms has a role in all the processes of our daily lives.

To get all these forces harmonized, I drew an image based on my altar glyph on the back of a family photo, and took the time to consecrate it in each sphere, the same way I performed the Gates Rites in each sphere to aid in Kingdom Management. I wish I could say that we've never had any problems again, but that's just not how life works. It doesn't make everything perfect all the time, but it does make it a lot easier to get the spirits working together and in harmony to resolve the issues when they arise. I go to the framed photo with the seals on the back and burn the appropriate incense, light a consecrated candle, and ask the appropriate spirits to aid in the resolution of whatever situation has come up.

I added the names and seals of the planetary archangels to the outer sphere, didn't mention the elements, and eliminated the names of the demonic kings offensive in the elements in the center circle when I sketched it out on the back of the photo, but here's the basic layout of the Altar Glyph:

I started putting seals of the archangels on the backs of photos of people to help my sister in law deal with a nephesh she had acquired. It worked so well I used it on a client's family in dealing with some spirits that were plaguing their children. The key is not the seal drawn on the back of the photo as much as it is the consecration rite that draws the forces of the planets down into the sphere of the people pictured. The seal helps a great deal in creating the physical link between the spirit and the subject of the rite, but the seal alone won't do much.

Below is an image of the names of the spirits and their seals:

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Scary Dangers of Magic

Over on the Spiritus Mundi yahoo group, the topic of the dangers of magic has reared its fearsome head. It started with an Algol talisman, which Chris Warnock discusses in this post. To summarize, someone used a rootworker's technique with a traditional astrological talisman, and it backfired. They made an Algol talisman to ward off any magic worked against them, and then buried it where they ran into their main enemy the most. After this, they experienced a run of bad luck, and it was determined that the spirit of the talisman was upset because the magician had used the talisman wrong. (You're supposed to wear the talisman, not bury it.)

The analysis of the problem seems legit to me. It passes the book-check (sources support that the use was altered) and it passes the common sense check. (Medusa can be a touchy spirit to work with. She's got snakes for hair, you know.) And screwing around mixing up traditions and approaches can be dangerous. You get unwanted effects. You suffer maladies. You get ill, you lose your job, your relationship hits the rocks, your car breaks down, and your kids talk back, with intent.

This experience prompted a Palero on the list to point out that MAGIC IS NO JOKE! and that is why you follow the instructions. Magic is real. It does stuff. It's not all pretend make believe that doesn't really change anything but your feel-feels. Magic works. That's important to remember.

John Michael Greer then wrote a post full of wisdom and common sense, exhorting people to follow the instructions we are given in traditional resources. He made an analogy between electronics and magic. You would follow the warnings and recommended techniques of an electrician when wiring a circuit, wouldn't you? It's your best bet to avoid electrocuting yourself or burning your house down. (I'm paraphrasing, except that last bit, that's a direct quote.)

I agree with him. Speaking as someone who burned their house down using demon magic that went wrong, I have an informed opinion on this subject. You really can burn your house down using magic. My house fire was the result of a really poorly phrased statement of intent, though, not a poor technique. The technique worked great, honestly.

The statement was fucked. "Get me the money by any means necessary, just as long as no one in my family gets hurt." That's a TERRIBLE way to do magic. It (probably) wouldn't matter if I'd said that to demons or angels, but the fact that the spirit I was Working with at the time happened to be from the lower spheres certainly didn't help. Angels seem to have a higher perspective based on living at a bit more distance from the hands-on material world than Bune does, but that doesn't mean they won't burn your house down to get you an insurance check, and prove a particular point about your use of magic at the same time.

But whenever people start talking about how dangerous magic is, I feel compelled to say, yeah, it's dangerous... but do it anyway! Burnt fingers are our primary teachers as we explore the books and figure out how it all works. There is no real life Hogwartz to attend. Some lodges may offer a curriculum that trains you in magical practice, but most are based on post-1899 magical theory. The only Order I know of that taught medieval alchemy and traditional Hermetics is pretty much defunct, and even they were open and honest about how they were experimenting and figuring out what the grimoires were all about on their own. They passed on the information that worked, and warnings about mistakes they made, but they were still front-line soldiers, pioneers exploring the wilderness with faulty maps and compasses that didn't always point North.

Modern magicians interested in learning how to do the magic recorded in the Picatrix and Agrippa's Three Books are going to, by necessity, have to explore and cover ground that hasn't been covered in recent history. Even the most comprehensive and detailed grimoires have gaps. The context of some of the manuscripts we've received is lost to history, and we're left to argue over whether all the spirits of a manuscript are called into Triangles of Art, or only the ones that specifically mention the Triangle.

Personally, I've never done anything with magic that messed up my life so badly that it couldn't be fixed with magic. It's dangerous, yes, but that's what makes it an adventure. Have courage, be bold!

Just be rational about it. Heed the warnings of those who have been there and done that, follow the instructions.

But don't be afraid to have fun.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

More on Ian's "Court of Brigid" Project

The point of my previous post was not to criticize Ian's project. It was meant to be more of a critique of my own hypocrisy when it comes to neopagans doing the same kinds of things I do, and the kinds of things I plan to do in the next year or so.

The comments I've seen so far indicate it's not coming across that way to some folks, so I thought I'd make it as clear as possible outside the comments.