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Monday, January 15, 2018

Opium, Euphoria, and the Magic of Faeries

A few years ago I saw an info graphic displaying brain scans which were intended to demonstrate the similarity between the brain's response to opium and the brain's response to orgasm. It was pretty cool and made a lot of sense on multiple levels. It was an easy way to describe several experiences and behaviors that crop up with people. But it wasn't something that seemed to have particular relevance in regards to magic. Until a few days ago.

I'm not a chemist or a biologist so I'm going to quote from a few websites to establish more about the connection between the two. Then I'll explain the magical relevance and give some quotes for that, followed by an explanation of the recent experience which caused this relationship between opium experiences and faery experiences to pop up in my head.

Significant more for character than for science:

Another user, the English gentleman quoted in Jim Hogshire's Opium for the Masses (1994), enthused that opium felt akin to a gentle and constant orgasm.” - opiates.net

I think this quote generally implies the driving elements of what I want to get at with this. Euphoria occurs as part of sexual experience, as part of orgasm, because of the brain's release of various neurochemicals including endorphins and dopamine. Both opiates and orgasm can create an experience of detachment, like floating along a rolling sea of clouds, experience is elevated and extended but in a way in which the pain and attachment of stress and discomfort are temporarily mitigated. Curiously opiates impact how our lungs work, they can make our breathing more relaxed, or they can make it more shallow...less control over our breath in regular circumstances would usually create stress of fear, but again opiate experiences are characterized by an awareness which reduces that stress and fear.

So they feel kind of the same, but that might not make for a meaningful link...so...the science of their sameness..

the human brain's neurons had specific receptor sites for opiate drugs: opium, heroin, codeine and morphine. But then there was the obvious question. Why would nature put in our brains a receptor for a plant? After all, humans beings didn't evolve over millions of years eating opium or shooting heroin.

...the active ingredient in all these opiates - morphine - had a chemical structure similar to endorphins, a class of chemicals present in the brain. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals naturally-manufactured in the brain when the body experiences pain or stress. They are called the natural opiates of the body.

...The rush is often described as a heightened sexual orgasm, and a great relief of tension, which pervades the abdomen. After the rush, the high lasts for four or five hours and is caused by the morphine diffusing from the bloodstream into the brain. It is described as a warm, drowsy, cozy state. Addicts report a profound sense of satisfaction, as though all needs were fulfilled. ” - Frontline, PBS

One well-known opiate commonly used today for the treatment of severe pain, is morphine (after Morpheus the Greek god of dreams).

Distributed throughout the nervous system, the opioid receptors, OP1-OP4, are involved in all of the calming effects we might expect, such as pain relief and reduction in anxiety - but are taken to extremes by illegal drugs, such as heroin. The natural partners to the opioid receptors are the endorphins, released during certain activities, such as running (thought responsible for the 'runner's high'), pain and orgasm.” - Drugs and The Brain

The second quote even hints at the magical associations of opium. The use of opium can be traced back to 4000 BCE in Sumeria and in what is now Switzerland, some suggest it might go further back to the Neanderthals. It was prevalent throughout the classical world in Greece, the Near East, India, and Asia. It was almost always considered not simply medicinal but holy or magical, a gift from or a symbol of the Gods. The gods of sleep in Greece were shown with poppies in depictions, and Pharaohs were entombed with artifacts of opium use. It was significant in the ancient world as medicine and as a magical substance, as is evidenced by its names:

Physicians commonly believed that the poppy plant was of divine origin; opium was variously called the Sacred Anchor Of Life, Milk Of Paradise, the Hand Of God, and Destroyer Of Grief.” - opiates.net

There are lots of drugs which help with pain, or which create altered experiences, and many of them have been associated with magic and with religious experience, but opium has a pervasiveness beyond many. Further it has had a strange position in history. While some intoxicants were made illegal in Islam, opium notably was not and remained popular in Arab countries. China made opium illegal and so the British Empire went to war, twice, to make sure they could still get it. Globally international legal provisions against opium have been made, but it is still prevalent in medicine internationally. According to Christian Rastch, who makes reference to opium several times in the book Witchcraft Medicine, it was the only reliable narcotic in the ancient world.

Ratsch also notes that the opium poppy is amongst the candidates for plants which may have been moly, the mythological plant referenced by the gods as the greatest. He links the plant to Demeter, the goddess at the center of the Mysteries of Eleusis. He includes it as a traditional common element in witches' flying ointments. This last association is probably the most interesting for our purposes.

Flying ointments don't actually make witches fly, they create a state in which the witch is altered both in terms of awareness and in terms of physical condition. The exposure to poisons, things which adjust how the witch breathes, and which create stimulation and a shift in awareness, put the witch in a state where the body no longer impedes awareness of the magical forces and spirits with which the witch comes into contact, or allows the body to relinquish the spirit temporarily for a spirit flight. Much of the lore of opium describes these same sort of elements, The strange parallel of something which detaches and relaxes but which also leaves the ability for mental clarity despite sensations being adjusted.

Some people historically have even linked opiates to mild visionary experiences.

While I was sitting at tea, I felt a strange sensation, totally unlike any thing I had ever felt before; a gradual creeping thrill, which in a few minutes occupied every part of my body, lulling to sleep the before-mentioned racking pain, producing a pleasing glow from head to foot, and inducing a sensation of dreamy exhilaration (if the phrase be intelligible to others as it is to me) similar in nature but not in degree to the drowsiness caused by wine, though not inclining me to sleep; in fact far from it, that I longed to engage in some active exercise; to sing, dance, or leap...so vividly did I feel my vitality - for in this state of delicious exhilaration even mere excitement seemed absolute elysium - that I could not resist the tendency to break out in the strangest vagaries, until my companions thought me deranged...After I had been seated [at the play I was attending] a few minutes, the nature of the excitement changed, and a 'waking sleep' succeeded. The actors on the stage vanished; the stage itself lost its reality; and before my entranced sight magnificent halls stretched out in endless succession with galley above gallery, while the roof was blazing with gems, like stars whose rays alone illumined the whole building, which was tinged with strange, gigantic figures, like the wild possessors of lost globe...I will not attempt farther to describe the magnificent vision which a little pill of 'brown gum' had conjured up from the realm of ideal being. No words that I can command would do justice to its Titanian splendour and immensity...” - William Blair 1842 (opiates.net)

This kind of visionary experience, the use of opium in flying ointments, these things connect us back to magic and to the faery folk. The witches' sabbat is based largely in the experience of ecstasy. The body writhes in pleasure at the touch of the Black Man of the Forest and the spirits he brings. Freedom from the stresses of common life is experienced. The witch is elevated while brought into a visionary state amid spirits.

In the explanations given by witch hunters the witch slept with the devil and his demons but even in those accounts the witches were also said to enter the faery world to dine with the Queen of the Faeries. At times she featured as the contact from whom witches derive their powers. Faeries familiars were also tied to the learning and experience of witchcraft. Even the demons given by the Devil sound more like faeries than like demons. Whether they were faeries or demons though there was a clear sexual component involved in this interaction.

According to Walter Stephens in his book Demon Lovers the Devil would first encounter potential witches when they were alone and discouraged and therefore susceptible to being seduced. Sexual congress with the devil and with demons was often believed to be the source of a witch's power. Curses and malefica were performed by way of the demon who was the witch's lover. When the witch flew to the Sabbat or from the Sabbat through the night across long distances the witch was being carried by a demon. The Church theories on the witch couldn't give them such an amazing power and so the power had to be facilitated by demons who were paid in sex.

Some have suggested that this fixation on sex with demons was a form of misogyny, but it occurs in all the accounts of male witches as well. Some have suggested it was another way to simply accuse witches of perversion and debase the idea of sex. But what if the sex was actually a part of the magic?

We have many accounts in faery tales of faeries who seek human spouses or lovers. Sometimes it's an ongoing arrangement, others it is a more sinister and deadly encounter, but in either case, we frequently see faeries desiring sex with humans. We also know faeries have a history of desiring to kidnap human women and to have children with humans, or to kidnap human children and raise them as faeries.

When we look at medieval magic we see accounts of magic specifically designed to have sex with faeries. Regarding this as a trend Fredericka Bain in her presentation of the “Four Spells to Bind the Faery Sisters” which appeared in Preternature says: “It is well understood that the traditions
out of which early modern fairy lore arises are complex: sexual binding or forced sexual congress in particular, of or by fairies or demons, is referenced in romances, ballads, and witchcraft trials, as well as throughout medieval demonology.”

Even the power of transvection, by which witches fly by the aid of demons, is something we see in demonologies, either spells in which demons convey someone across distances or grant instant travel, or even obtaining faery horses that allow the magician to fly on them from place to place or travel long distances. Some accounts of witches include them attributing their power to curse to elf shot, or arrows given to them by the faeries when they feast with them.

So the powers given by demons, the sex with spirits, both are things we see associated with faeries in sources on magic. Along with these when we look at tales of the faeries we see feasting, dancing, and music. We see fantastical creatures and magical places. The faeries exist in a magical other space which is like our own but somehow different.

Even in modern depictions of the faery world we see this same sort of imagery. Surreal magical landscapes like our own but slightly stranger, heightened colors, things just beyond the ordinary enough to draw us in to their glamor. A mild hallucination that could be real or maybe not. A place which creates euphoria to draw people in and allow them to forget whatever else was there before they were brought there. Most recently the faery world has been depicted in this manner in popular media in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell in which the kingdom of Lost Hope is an on going ball, similar to one in a human castle but with various slightly bizarre elements and in which the object of the faery's affection is caused to forget the human world. We also see faeries in The Mortal Instruments depicted in the television adaptation Shadow Hunters in which faeries can't lie but they can manipulate the truth to entrap people, and they have a separate world whose glamor can trap people by keeping them lost, and in which one could believe they are in the natural world, but only made more magical, surreal, and brilliant.

This is in part where the connection to opium comes in. To me, the ability to create a feeling that is related to orgasm, and to take away worldly cares, to numb pain, to give us an otherworldly euphoria, these are traits which seem to be shared both by opiates and by faeries. It's a similarity I probably wouldn't have connected if it hadn't been for an experience that happened a few nights ago.

I had received a couple signs that suggested I needed to connect with some spirits on their turf rather than ritually doing so here. When I was younger magic that involved spirit flight was a big part of what I did, but I'm not generally as keen on it anymore. In this instance I also didn't have the time to fully invest into that kind of work. So I figured it was best to approach it as dream work. To that end I called upon a faery and asked that he take me in my dreams where I needed to go. I was fairly clear that I did not want to do trance-work, I just wanted to hitch a ride in my dreams.

The faery arrived, and as sometimes happens when you work with spirits, the magic did not go as planned.

I told him what I wanted, and he responded "your body still needs to be ready if your spirit is going to leave" and he reached out towards me and I felt euphoria, then my breathing dropped very low, I felt like I was floating as if rocking on a soft wave. As I was drifting away from normal awareness I thought "this feels like the euphoria opiates cause." As my breathing became more and more shallow, and my body heavier and heavier until I no longer felt most of it I realized he had put me into a super heavy meditation in like a matter of seconds. It was impressive. I had not really done trance-work for awhile so it was no longer a feeling I felt often so it was pretty curious. I continued my protest that this wasn't what I'd wanted but he insisted that it was necessary and that I should just go with him. He explained that if I wanted an experience that wasn't just within my mental space my body needed to be pushed to a point where it could let go of me. It felt really wonderful, and I had a flash of shimmering visionary experiences showing the way from myself to a wholly other place. Unfortunately I didn't get where I was going...partially because he took me by surprise.

So in the end, I had a cool experience for like a half hour. More than that I had an interesting conceptual connection. Was there a reason that a faery's touch should feel like taking opiates? In stories of faery and human interactions one of the most common elements is humans being “faery led.” This capability to force a trance state filled with euphoria and visionary awareness would explain some of the experience of being faery led. It would also explain some of the sexual elements of faery encounters. The author of the Four Spells to Bind the Faery Sisters describes the faery with whom he sleeps as having beauty to rival a queen or empress and implies that she has immense sexual prowess. Faeries often are described as being ugly and stealing human babies and seeking human lovers because humans are more beautiful. These could simply be conflicting elements of stories or they could be different types of faeries. Alternatively it could be part of their magic, the glamor of faeries could be the same potency which lets them manipulate the minds, bodies, and sensory experiences of humans. Perhaps the beauty and sexual prowess of the faery lover is driven by the euphoric otherworldly awareness created by her touch.

Magic occurs outside of our minds, but we still experience it through the lens of our mental faculties, just as is true of all other phenomena. I am not one for explaining magic through science or trying to make magic scientific. I don't believe faeries secrete some kind of other worldly spirit opium. I don't think we need this sort of mechanism for trying to create a way of viewing faery interactions scientifically. Magic is magic it isn't science, it doesn't need to be science. But recognizing that faeries may have the ability to impact our sensory experience, regardless of the mechanism, gives us insight to their powers and how we can interact with them. It lets us consider folklore and how we engage it. To me its a jumping off point as to how and why some things may relate and how some things may have been real that we thought weren't.

If you enjoyed this exploration of sex, drugs, and faeries...please follow us on Facebook and share this post. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Local Dead? Local Friends.

A few weeks back my fellow Brodepti and I took a field trip. Apart from our regularly planned dinner at a bar to discuss magical things, community stuff, our current work and things about which to be aware we decided we would take a trip to a local cemetery. There are three in the area I want to visit, one because it's near me, one because it has a folk legend associated with a statue that has since been removed, and one to find a relative. Hanging with other magicians seemed the perfect opportunity to check one of the cemetery visits off the list.

My town does not have a lot of cemeteries. In fact, I believe we just have one historical one, with the other more active ones all being in the neighboring city, or in other towns adjacent to us. The one we have though is essentially walking distance from me, maybe about a 10 minute walk, and I pass it multiple times a week just going to and fro. So it seemed like the most reasonable option for creating a relationship with the local dead.

I work with my ancestors quite a bit, but with the exception of my father, none of them lived in my town. Obviously most spirits with whom we interact won't be ones tied to our locality, but our location can be a big factor in our magic. So we should make connections with the local nature spirits, with the land itself on which we reside, and with natural features that are nearby, particularly if they impact us our our communities.

Working with local magic helps in a few ways. It connects the work you're doing to forces already tied to the place where you are likely looking to have your impact manifest. Other people in your area may interact with or be impacted by local spiritual forces even if they aren't aware of it. These spirits might also have concerns related to things around you, or connections giving them greater influence over things around you. If you're dealing with a spirit that means something to the people of your community, like one which is associated with a natural formation, or a folk legend, or the spirit of a local hero or historical figure there is also a significant local awareness that feeds and empowers that spirit within the environment in which you're working.

So, don't overlook your surroundings.

Creating ties to the local cemetery is something I've wanted to do for awhile, and it's something I still have further work to do to deepen. But this was essentially what was involved in my first step.

We went to the cemetery with offerings, and supplies for our work. We went a little before dusk on a weekend, so that while hopefully there wouldn't be a lot of people around, it wouldn't be completely unusual or suspicious if someone happened upon us since it wasn't at night. This particular cemetery is an historical cemetery and so there are no gates or walls, it just sits right along one of the town's most major roads, next to a building run by one of the biggest land developers in the state. So it's not particularly discreet, but it's also somewhere no one really goes these days. We were unlikely to be bothered, still, we chose our time cautiously, and I carried four bay leaves in my pocket, one to hide us in each of the four directions.

When we got there we set to work looking for the oldest grave. The first body buried in a cemetery is that cemetery's equivalent to the first man to die, the ancestor of all ancestors who oversees the passage between life and death and the people who live in the space of the dead, the cemetery. They're basically the head honcho spirit for that location. Now, admittedly, my planning was poor here. I did not look up who it was before hand. One of the other Brodepti decided to contact her town's historical society and they were able to tell her which graves were the oldest in her local cemetery. So I would advise anyone engaging in such an endeavor to start by doing that.

Since we didn't know the grave we were looking for, we searched through row by row, eventually we found a plaque that explained the history of the cemetery, including when the church was built and when they decided to begin using it as a cemetery. Most of the oldest graves were 160 years old, and so many were pretty worn, we settled on a head stone which seemed to be the oldest marked grave. The individual there was laid to rest within the year following the opening of the church, and so she seemed a good candidate for the oldest, and if not the oldest, at least a reasonably respectable contender to a position of importance within the cemetery.

We began by taking snow (in less wintery weather dirt or salt or one of the libations could be used) and making a three-way crossroads on the grave and making prayers to Hekate, and prayers to the gods and goddesses of the land of the dead to grant us access to the spirit of the person laid there, and to join her in receiving the offerings which we would now make.

We then poured out libations of wine, honey, milk, and olive oil on the grave with prayers to strengthen the spirit, stir it to life,to give it sustenance, and to remind it of the pleasant things in the world of the living. We left cakes of grain and fruit to further feed the spirit and asked that we might form an alliance with it and take a small amount of dirt from her grave as a connection to her.

Once we had completed our work with that spirit we took whiskey and more cakes and laid them out in a place towards the center of the patch of graves but in a space where no one was buried and we made an offering to the dead of the cemetery in general and asked for the same friendship with them, and to be allowed to take dirt from the cemetery generally as well.

So in addition to linking to the specific ancestor of the cemetery we linked to the cemetery itself, and had both grave dirt and graveyard dirt to bring home for magical work and for installing in our ancestor altars in order to further feed and develop that connection, and to empower our own dead further by linking them to a local place of power and soil rich with the presence of the dead. 


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Blessings of the Magi



Dr. Al Cummins recently posted a very interesting post about ways to work with the Magi as a magician touching on various folk Catholic elements, and he and Jesse Hathaway Diaz spoke about such things in an amazing episode of Radio Free Golgotha last year. I highly recommend checking those out.

With Epiphany coming up, I wanted to note some elements of institutional Catholicism which may be useful for the magician, particularly magicians working with grimoires, especially pre-Reformation grimoires which reflect a particularly Catholic approach, and largely an assumption of some level of clerical capacity.

The Feast of The Epiphany gives us the opportunity to reflect on The Magi and the role of astrology in the biblical story, the connections to Zoroastrianism, the symbolism of Gold Frankincense and Myrrh, and the ability to receive direct divine and spiritual revelation at times of importance and at times in which we are questioning what to do. It its a time in which we ca reflect on the guidance of the one star whose light directs us surely through the darkness. It is a time where we can reflect on the roles of the Magi individually or on the universal brotherhood implied by priest kings representing different parts of the world coming together on a spiritual quest. There is a lot there.

What interests us from a practical grimoire perspective though is less about reflection and more about an auspicious day for consecrating implements. I think plenty of people will address folk Catholic elements, and modern magical parallels and readings of symbols, and they will engage these topics more than I would at the moment. I think the obvious easy bit to touch is the part we'll see fewer people looking at.

Holy water, incense, chalk, and your space.

A little more pedestrian sounding...but oh so exciting.

You see, The Roman Ritual has long been a go to for magicians wanting to say “Oh yeah, I've studied the Catholic rituals of exorcism.” But the Roman Ritual is filled with magic. The rite of Baptism is a rite of exorcism...so is the formula for making holy water, and also for blessing gold frankincense and myrrh...and...well...a lot of other bits of it are too. Out side of the preponderance of exorcisms there are rituals to bring rain, rituals to protect cars and ships and animals, rituals to cure sore throats.

Priests were once magicians, and while that has gone away in practice, it is something more slow to die in the written rituals themselves. A grimoire magician working with Liber Juratus, The Cambridge Book, TheHeptameron, The Book of Oberon, any pre-reformation influenced book of magic, is a magician who is expected to have some training in these clerical rituals that we sometimes forget are also magic.

And so on the Feast given to the Magi we have rituals which would be useful to the magician. We bless water, we bless gold frankincense and myrrh, we bless chalk, and we bless the home. All of these items are those which we might use in working magic and so this is a most appropriate time to bless our supply of such items.

The Epiphany water is a formula much more involved than the simple formula for exorcising salt and water and then blessing their combination as holy water (a formula which appears in the grimoires). The Roman Ritual says it was adopted in 1890 but is based on an old tradition in the Eastern Church.

This blessing comes from the Orient, where the Church has long emphasized in her celebration of Epiphany the mystery of our Lord's baptism, and by analogy our baptism. This aspect is not neglected in western Christendom, although in practice we have concentrated on the visit of the Magi. Many years before the Latin Rite officially adopted the blessing of Epiphany water, diocesan rituals, notably in lower Italy, had contained such a blessing.”

The Roman Ritual 1964

The magician could easily opt for the simply Holy Water form but this more complex blessing draws on auspicious timing and in particular if you are engaging in other work related to the Magi would tie into that work. At the least, since Holy Water is used in a somewhat baptismal manner at times in magic, this water is specifically connected to that element of the story as well.

The ritual for the Epiphany water is done the night before the Feast, and is a bit long so I won't be including it here. It occurs as the fifth item of the first volume of the 1964 edition of the Roman Ritual.

The sixth item given is a blessing of Gold, Incense, and Myrrh. I would assume in this case Frankincense would be the incense in question however I suppose other church appropriate incenses may be substituted. The blessing itself confers protection to those who possess these items. You could run it as is and have a powerful traditional blessing attached to your incenses and gold or make some tweaks to focus more specifically on conferring magical efficacy. The ritual includes an exorcism of demons which might be present in the material, the infusion of divine grace, and the direction of that grace towards the protection and intercession on behalf of the one who possesses these items.

This one is short enough to present here.

6. BLESSING OF GOLD, INCENSE, MYRRH

on Epiphany

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Accept, holy Father, from me, your unworthy servant, these gifts which I humbly offer to the honor of your holy name and in recognition of your peerless majesty, as you once accepted the sacrifice of the just Abel and the same kind of gifts from the three Magi.

God's creatures, gold, incense, and myrrh, I cast out the demon from you by the Father + almighty, by Jesus + Christ, His only-begotten Son, and by the Holy + Spirit, the Advocate, so that you may be freed from all deceit, evil, and cunning of the devil, and become a saving remedy to mankind against the snares of the enemy. May those who use you, with confidence in the divine power, in their lodgings, homes, or on their persons, be delivered from all perils to body and soul, and enjoy all good things. We ask this through the power and merits of our Lord and Savior, the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of all the saints, in particular the godly men who on this day venerated Christ the Lord with the very same gifts.

All: Amen.

God, the invisible and endless One, in the holy and awesome name of your Son, be pleased to endow with your blessing + and power these creatures of gold, incense, and myrrh. Protect those who will have them in their possession from every kind of illness, injury, and danger, anything that would interfere with the well-being of body and soul, and so be enabled to serve you joyously and confidently in your Church; you who live and reign in perfect Trinity, God, forever and ever.

All: Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy + Spirit, come upon these creatures of gold, incense, and myrrh, and remain always.

All: Amen.

They are sprinkled with holy water.”

The next item presented is the blessing of the chalk. This one people reference a little more often, probably because chalk is sometimes given as an option for making circles and appears in various magical traditions, but chalk isn't given instructions for blessing in as many texts. Chalk may not be given in most grimoires but it has a long standing association with magic and religion. Chalk deposits are found in many British religious sites. Chalk develops from sediment caused from fossilized organic material, therefore chalk was once alive and is now material made from the dead. Chalk, while a stone, has a relationship with water, providing reservoirs to hold ground water to release in dry seasons, and growing to form cliffs and islands against the sea. These elements linking it to earth and water, and to the dead give it a liminal quality. In Ebeneezer Sibly's work, which we find later quoted by Waite, quick lime, which is derived from chalk, is used in the “burial” or burning of the body used in necromantic rites once the magician is finished questioning the ghost.

With these liminal qualities around death and the underworld qualities implied by stone and sea, the quality of celebrating life, and of divine revelation related to the Epiphany make for the perfect juxtaposition for completing and balancing the power of the chalk and reflecting the overlapping qualities of things chthonic and things celestial.

The Blessing of the Chalk is pretty short and simple. There is no exorcism, just a blessing, but the blessing is one which essentially empower the chalk for use in folk magic. The faithful are instructed to use the blessed chalk to scribe the sainted names of the Magi upon their doors in order to bring about their intercession and blessings.

The ritual, performed on the day of the Feast is as follows:

BLESSING OF CHALK

on Epiphany

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Bless, + O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most holy name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Baltassar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.”

The eighth item of volume one, and the final Epiphany item is a blessing of the home.

Now a blessing of the Home might seem less obviously in line with the grimoires. You don't bless your home in the grimoires, in fact in some instructions it would sound like you might even do magic away from your home. In some spirit traditions we find advice to keep certain workings out doors, or in places designated for spirit work rather than in the living areas of the home, or in altars which can be closed away. For most magicians though, magic is done in the home. So blessing the home would be part of routine maintenance. Even if you're not doing magical work in your home or your living space, you are aware of spiritual forces which might impact your life. Routine apotropaic work is something many magicians overlook, but which could help prevent situations which they might later need to turn to magic to help resolve. The Roman Ritual provides a few options for blessing the home, in fact, the chalk blessing implies a home blessing. The blessing of the water can be used to make water to sprinkle the home and bless it, or the blessing of the gold incense and myrrh and provide a protective possession to keep in the home.

The home blessing interestingly doesn't contain an exorcism. In fact it does not seem to be about purifying or wiping away any negativity on the home, but, like the season of Christmastide it is a ritual of joy and light. The magnificence of God and of his revelation through Christ is recalled in the ritual and that shining light sanctifies the whom and all who enter therein.

The ritual is as follows:

BLESSING OF HOMES

on Epiphany

As the priest comes into the home he says:

P: God's peace be in this home.

All: And in all who live here.

P. Ant.: Magi from the East came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasure chests they presented Him with precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. Alleluia.

Canticle of the Magnificat

Luke 1.46-55

P: "My soul * extols the Lord;

All: And my spirit leaps for joy in God my Savior.

P: How graciously He looked upon His lowly maid! * Oh, see, from this hour onward age after age will call me blessed!

All: How sublime is what He has done for me, * the Mighty One, whose name is 'Holy'!

P: From age to age He visits those * who worship Him in reverence.

All: His arm achieves the mastery: * He routs the haughty and proud of heart.

P: He puts down princes from their thrones, * and exalts the lowly;

All: He fills the hungry with blessings, * and sends away the rich with empty hands.

P: He has taken by the hand His servant Israel, * and mercifully kept His faith,

All: As He had promised our fathers * with Abraham and his posterity forever and evermore."

P: Glory be to the Father.

All: As it was in the beginning.

Meanwhile the home is sprinkled with holy water and incensed. At the end of the Magnificat the antiphon is repeated. Then the priest says Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)

P: And lead us not into temptation.

All: But deliver us from evil.

P: Many shall come from Saba.

All: Bearing gold and incense.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May he also be with you.

Let us pray.
God, who on this day revealed your only-begotten Son to all nations by the guidance of a star, grant that we who now know you by faith may finally behold you in your heavenly majesty; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Responsory: Be enlightened and shine forth, O Jerusalem, for your light is come; and upon you is risen the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary.

P: Nations shall walk in your light, and kings in the splendor of- your birth.

All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

Let us pray.

Lord God almighty, bless + this home, and under its shelter let there be health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to your commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May your blessing remain always in this home and on those who live here; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.”

Now this last ritual as it is written would need at least two people, the Priest, and the People. It could reasonably be modified for personal use with the individual simply doing both the call and the response. Some of the things desired for the home might not be the goals of all contemporary magicians. I could easily say “well go through the ritual as is, the words are just symbolic” but they're not. You're praying for those things. It's not an idea of bringing sanctity by reflecting back the words a God wants to hear, you're asking spiritual powers to bring conditions into your home and the people in your home. So consider what it is you truly wish to ask for. Maybe the actual blessing of the house in which chastity and humility are asked for is a prayer which you might have to explore tweaking a bit to suit your own needs, or maybe it does describe what you want in your home. If in essence you want magnificence and light to bring a presence of uplifting joy, that's the end game here, the shape it takes will need to fit the spiritual powers you're calling upon, but they can also fit the way you wish to engage those powers. Explore your relationship with the Lord of Hosts and determine what virtues he might bring into your home, and ask for those.

Speaking of relationships, and the vast army of hosts, there is a vast host of people on Facebook, so pop over there, and share our page, and if you haven't yet, like our page, for more interesting stuff from us. Thanks! And enjoy the rest of the Christmas season and have a Happy New Year. Hopefully I'll have some stuff to say about making friends with dead folks next week!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Touched By an Angel

There seem to be more people working towards achieving Knowledge and Conversation of their Holy Guardian Angels these days, and that's great. There also seem to be more people who want to look like they've checked that box on the spiritual authority check list, and that's not so great.

A friend recently noted that we see a lot of people who describe their experience as if it was one super cool moment, and then it was done. Nothing changes after, there is no relationship after, they did it, they have it in their back pocket that they did it, and they don't have much of anything useful to add to the discourse that reflects their experience. They generalize the angel, or reduce its nature to something relatively meaningless, or treat attaining the angel like a badge they get for leveling up and then moving on. The experience is doing the thing, and saying they did the thing, and that's all it is; it's another experiment with another grimoire or another technique and they met the spirit and it was cool and that's it, right?

Nope.

It's a pretty immense fantastic experience when it happens. And to some degree that initial experience is momentary. That momentary experience exists to create a powerful on going relationship. Think of it sort of like a friend. You can call up a friend, hang out, have a good time, and then go your own way, getting together as needed. But say you and that friend have some sort of life changing experience which shapes the both of you, that creates a bond which ties you together and lets you share an intimacy you don't have with others, so there is a connection which is always there. The moment in the oratory where you complete the retreat is like that. It is a moment so full of force and fire that it forges a bond between you and the angel which is unlike that of other spirits with whom you interact.

Now, based on many approaches to understanding the angel, there is already a bond between you and your angel before the retreat. I would question whether or not all of these other descriptions of Guardian Angels and Holy Guardian Angels are necessarily talking about the same thing as what is described in The Sacred Magic, in fact, I would assert that in many cases they aren't. That said, in my experience, yes, your angel is there from the beginning, and you can and should make contact before doing the retreat. The retreat changes the nature of the bond and the contact, probably mostly on our end, but still, there is a perceptible change, which changes us and how the angel interacts with us.

I very rarely reference things Aaron Leitch says, and initially when I saw him compare Knowledge and Conversation to being Crowned by a spirit I mistook his meaning, and I avoided the comparison. But really, it is pretty apt. Knowledge and Conversation is a form of possession.

People tend to think of possession as it appears in The Exorcist, or The Exorcism of Emily Rose, or other cinematic depictions. Both of those examples are based on true stories, to some degree, but they both take cinematic license and make things visually shocking for horror movie audiences. Still, there is a reality to that kind of possession. Possession can refer to a point where a spirit takes over a person, and torments them. Possession can look like madness.

But that's not the only kind of possession, and even in the case of a spiritual assault there are stages to possession. In magic, where we find possession occurring as choice in which the magician has a relationship with the spirit these stages are more clearly understood. Unfortunately most European Magic (as Western is an inaccurate description) no longer contains spirit possession work, so for most people exploring Holy Guardian Angels, spirit possession means spinning heads and pea soup.

So first you should understand that possession occurs in different stages. In Catholicism there is Courting, Obsession, and Possession. When a spirit is courting someone it is exploring weaknesses which would open that person to possession and tempting them into situations to exploit and exacerbate those weaknesses. The spirit might directly influence and inspire the person and attempt to draw them in. When a spirit is obsessing someone the spirit has made contact and presents the person with things they desire and draws them towards desiring a relationship with the spirit or opening up to that spirit's influence. The obsessed person is oppressed by the spirit as the spirit begins to exert some control., often by impacting their well being and weakening the person's resistance to their influence. Possession occurs when the person succumbs to the obsessing spirit and control is relinquished. Finally an integration would occur if the person willingly gives themselves over to the possessing entity.

These stages all take a pretty negative view on the subject because in Catholicism possession is almost always an involuntary and negative act. Catholicism does however provide a lot of the framework for European spirit magic and so an awareness of it can be useful as a way for setting up our thinking.

Another way of looking at it based in Afro-Caribbean traditions would be that in stage one the spirit sits on you or next to you, you can feel the presence of the spirit, it touches you, you can communicate with it, but aside from a more intimate awareness of it, you're still in the driver's seat, and you can break off from the contact. A second stage involves the spirit more intimately connecting with you such that it can influence and take partial control. You're aware of what's happening, mostly, and you can exert some control, but you and the spirit are kind of sharing control of the steering wheel. The third phase is when the spirit is in full control, and you act as the spirit, you may or may not have awareness and it may or may not communicate with you so much as through you in this process.

Knowledge and Conversation is somewhere between stage one and stage two, which would fit somewhere close to the obsession stage in a Catholic context. But in the case of Knowledge and Conversation it is voluntary on our parts, and so that gives it an integrated element, which makes it like he reception of a Head Spirit, or being Crowned, in which the spirit with whom you work, by whom you are possessed “resides” with you and so there is an on going relationship in which the “stage” or the clarity of contact, moves on a scale as per the context of the particular moment.

That said, unless you've experienced these types of spiritual interaction, this probably doesn't explain the experience too much.

To go back to Hollywood as a means of illustrating...Death Note is a good example. The relationship between Light and his God of Death is a good example. Ryuk is always there, even if he's just sort of in the back of Light's awareness. They communicate, Light gets answers and suggestions from Ryuk. Ryuk isn't in control but his presence impacts how Light is able to approach things and Ryuk is at times able to facilitate things for him. On some level it looks kind of like a relationship with a familiar spirit, except that Ryuk exerts influence just by virtue of his connection to Light as well as directly by what he communicates, rather than a familiar, who generally performs tasks and provides information but without that same influence. The recent Fox TV series version of The Exorcist has also depicted this phase of possession, albeit in a negative context, in season two of the series. Andy, the possessed individual, initially experiences the possessing spirit as a girl who he believes to be one of his foster children. She suggests things to him, influences what he does and how he makes decisions, she isn't always with him but she's always watching and can make suggestions to or influence Andy pretty much whenever she chooses, but still she's not ultimately in control of him.

Recently when talking with the same friend who pointed out that some people treat the Holy Guardian Angel like a One and Done kind of thing I described it like this:

By possession I mean like first/second stage The spirit is touching you so it knows and understands you and is able to freely talk to you, but it's there like generally. Like not every waking moment but at any given moment it can interact. It's intimately in the space of your being; still identifiably separate though, but it doesn't feel dissociative. It is like a partner who sits in your sphere and kind of comes into your ear when he needs to speak.”

I could go into what talking to it is like, or how this relationship impacts magic and divination and other spirit work...but if I did all that in one blog post it's seriously limit what I'd have to talk about later.

In any case, finishing the Abramelin, or Liber 8, or Samekh, or whatever ritual you intend to use to achieve Knowledge and Conversation is great, and it's important, but it isn't really the goal or the prize. That all comes later, and is the unfolding relationship which completing the ritual catalyzes. It's not just that single moment, but rather the way in which it affects all the later moments.

Speaking of relationships...once again, if you liked this, please share, and please like us, and encourage your friends to like us on that vast and ranging Book of Faces.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Advent: World Wide Anticipatory Participatory Sorcery



Sunday December 3rd marks the first Sunday of Advent this year, which means that today, Monday 11/27 is the first day of the advent season. I like Advent, not as much as I like Lent, but Advent is still pretty cool, because anticipation is a big part of why exciting things are exciting. When we know we have a cool event coming up, thinking about that cool event helps build up to making it amazing. Thinking all day about the awesome dinner you have planned, waiting for the moment when you and someone you like share your first kiss, foreplay leading up to climax, all of those things serve to create the powerful experience of the moment which we anticipate.

Ritual magic can work that way as well. We do a series of actions and we put together various forces, call upon various spirits prepare ourselves, our space, and our tools, and all of it works to create a moment in which we're able to communicate either through a singular action or statement what we want or need. Maybe we perform a Mass and prepare the species of communication, and draw together the forces of transubstantiation and in a singular moment the material is changed and is brought into us to change us. Maybe we're engaging in some Kabbalistic magic and we build a path for the forces of creation by juxtaposing symbols and finally we ground the divine light in a talisman by writing a divine name. Maybe we conjure a spirit, and we bathe, cast our circle, call our intermediaries and gatekeepers, talk to our ancestors and call upon a spirit to accomplish the work we need with the support of these various allies, and we still reach a moment where we explain what we want, offer what we'll give for it, and ask the spirit to go do the work. Everything involves preparation, and with it anticipation of the moment where we make things happen.

With magic we further have the anticipation that occurs between doing the magic and waiting for the result. We recognize the importance of not dwelling upon or obsessing about what we've done and the magic working to make it happen. But we also can recognize the utility of doing things to support our magic. Other related magic, mundane activities related to our goal. Whatever we need to support it getting done. Just like anticipation helps make getting what we want more exciting, the supporting work we do along the way to meeting our goal helps make our goal happen. Either way, while we're waiting, the excitement builds.

Another element of magic is knowing the landscape. We have to look at the various forces at play in the world that affect what we're doing. What are the positions of the stars and planets and how does that impact occult forces? What in my life would make it easy for this to manifest? What would make it hard for this to manifest? Am I willing to accept into my life what I'm trying to create in my life? Are other people competing to get the same thing and can we all get it? Are other people working to support me? Are other people working to stop me? Are their cultural powers at play that make a particular time more powerfully aligned to my goal?

This is where Advent comes into play.

I'm sure a lot of people who read my blog utilize Christian elements in their magic, some might be Christians, some might just use Christian elements of magic. I'm sure a lot of other people who read my blog don't connect to Christianity at all. Regardless of which group you fit into the idea here isn't about engaging in Christianity it's about utilizing a current of force in which countless people around the world are engaging, a current of force which creates a time focused on creation, focused on bringing something into the world. Advent is about anticipation, and maybe most people engaging in it ritually are focused on anticipating Christ, but an unimaginable number of children across the world are anticipating Santa Claus and receiving gifts, obtaining material objects. There's room for anticipating whatever you want.

The season is also set up in a kind of magical structure. You have four weeks, so a week for each element and a day for each planet. So as you work on building your creation you can progress through manifesting the various forces as they pertain to your goal and reflect them cascading into creation as they progress through the elemental worlds.

The first week of is Hope, the second is Love, the third is Joy, and then Peace, finally Christmas is the arrival of Christ.

Hope is the initial stirring towards creation, the beginning of anticipating what we desire. The initial spark of fire that brings forth a concept and begins energizing it into being.

Love draws things together just as a cup begins to coalesce all the attributes and associations of a concept that give it color and sensibility before it is defined into a form.

Joy is the moment of realization that you're coming close to the thing coming into being. It's close enough that you can see it, you can express it, you can name it, you can define it, it's not a stirring anymore, it's not a feeling anymore, it's an idea that you can call by name and hold clearly in your mind.

Peace is the acceptance of a thing, the realization that the thing is coming into being, that moment of settling because you know it's about to be real and you'll actually get to experience it. You've prepared the tray on which everything will be set and it waits for the thing itself which is about to be real.

So you have fire, water, air, and earth. The days of the week are pretty obvious for the planets.

So from there it's just a matter of identifying what you want and understanding the pieces of its processes towards coming into existence. Then you just need a few minutes for daily work to bring it into being and ride the current of millions of people anticipating a moment of creation.


The elemental prayers from Levi, and the Orphic hymns, or Liber Cordis and Liber Lapidus Lazuli are options for evoking the elemental reality and the planetary force and then a simple statement of what you want to bring into being. Possibly lighting a candle and incense. Basically building a current of force towards your goal. Then finally at Christmas perform the actual ritual, in the style of your approach to magic to finalize those preparations and channel that anticipation into creating your goal.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Accuser, The Chariot, and The Magician

Back in April I had a bit of an unnerving day, which involved a bit of magic, and that magic first induced a good bit of panic, and well, frankly, abject terror, eventually more magic made things run smoothly in seemingly miraculous ways. Because obviously, when magic is the thing that made things worse, it's obvious that more magic will make things better? Right? Well...in a lot of cases yes. So I'm going to tell my story, because so far most people who've heard it have thought it was cool, but hopefully it will also illustrate how to simply use magic in situations that arise as well as looking at how more magic can fix magic that isn't necessarily going how you'd hoped.

I, like most Americans, have a car. But, unlike a lot of people, I tend to not think about doing things I need to do for myself or my stuff, or my well being. For example, when I had pneumonia earlier in the year, it took two months of being sick before I went to the doctor because I figured, “I'll get better, and I don't have time to go sit at a doctors office or rest.” I spend a lot of time at work, and then I spend almost full time hours coaching, add to that blogging, other writing projects, the occasional bit of magic, and involvement in the local OTO body and I really don't have much time for me or things related to me. I'm usually pretty focused on the needs of others, or things I perceive as a duty to others and so I often deal with my own life when stuff explodes and forces me to look at it. Hopefully...I'll become more self aware and fix this at some point...anyway, for now, it provides the back drop for this story of magic, nearly crying in bed, more magic, and then success.

So yeah...the car. Well, my car is a 2014. I got it as a birthday present to myself in 2014. It's pretty nice, has navigation, rear cameras, a sun roof the full length of the vehicle, leather interiors...you know, car stuff. But it's a little European car, and it's a slightly larger model of this typically tiny car, but the engine still seems to be made for the tiny version and so it doesn't have a lot of pick up. But apparently it's got a turbo charger...which I didn't know, and those are fragile, and require, well the basic maintenance that normal people usually consider minimal and required.

My oil light was on, and I told myself I'd get to it. Some time passed, and I still told myself I'd get to it, and well the car started telling me to get to it. The pick up felt worse. It felt rough. It was idling poorly. I started to get nervous, and then one Saturday the engine light came on my car which has about 30K miles on it. I was pulling into the lot at work as it came on and thought “crap, I have stuff I have to do this weekend.”

So, I grabbed a bit of paper at my desk and cut it into a square. I drew a hexagram on it and in the hexagram drew the seal of Mars from the Heptameron and then like the seals from the Archidoxes of magic drew the planetary symbols in the points, but ordered such that Mars was crowning the hexagram. I added little crosses to the points like in the Lamen from the Heptameron and then drew a circle around it. I added the God name for Mars as given in the Golden Dawn's correspondences for Gevurah, and wrote the names of Samael, the angel of Mars, Samax who is the king of the aerial spirits ruled by Mars, and Carmax who is one of his ministers amongst the aerial spirits, and amusingly enough is also the name of the place from which I'd purchased my car.

I traced a cross and the sign of Mars above the paper talisman, I prayed the Orphic hymn of Mars and then said a prayer of invocation:

Holy and Merciful God, Lord of Hosts, hear my prayer and send me a good angel to be my aid in all that I ask. Adonai Tzvot I call upon you to send your angel Samael to assist me, and I ask that Samael bring forth King Samax and his minister Carmax that they may grant my requests.”

I felt the presence of the angel and I explained that my car was having difficulties and asked that he direct the aerial spirits to correct any problem so that I could at least get through the various things I had to do that day and make sure the car remained ok until I took it to the shop, and that I would do so the next day.

After work I went out to my car, drove it, and it drove fine. The warning lights were still on, but all the problems seemed to cease. Still, I was worried, and later in the day thought “perhaps if I put the seal closer to the mechanism that would help. So I parked, put the seal in the glove box instead of on the seat, and went into a store. When I came back out and turned on the car, the engine light was no longer on. I thanked Samael and the spirits, and I felt pretty good. I thought to myself how I should work with Samael more often. Normally in the past when I had need of something Martial I would call on Bartzabel, I guess because of my Thelemic background. It crossed my mind that a week or so earlier I had listened to an episode of Charm the Water where Aaron interviewed Diablito from Ordo Al Ghul and they talked about a warning in Ashen Chassen's Gateways of Light and Shadow against conjuring Samael, because, as the accuser he will come and lay out all of your wrong doing and your failures and he will break you down as you will be defenseless against his accusations because you'll see the truth in them. He essentially holds up a mirror of your flaws and forces you to face them. As this crossed my mind I thought “Well that's clearly not true, Samael is awesome.”

I went home, I posted a big thank you to Samael on my Facebook wall. I went to bed.

So, let's pause for the cause and look at what we'd done so far. First, it was a Saturday, but I called the angel of Mars (Tuesday) for magical help in a pinch. Mars rules over chariots, chariots in the ancient world largely being associated with war and battle. So the modern equivalent of a chariot would be a car, and thus Mars is the planetary ruler that oversees cars and other machines of transportation, but does not directly rule travel.

I didn't want Samael to fix my problem...I wanted Samael, to make Samax, make Carmax fix it. I needed Samael involved because he is essentially the governing agent set over that quadrant of creation, but asking the guy who manages the dealership to come fix my car probably won't do much, instead he'll tell the guy who runs the maintenance division (Samax), to tell the mechanic (Carmax) to do it. Another way to look at it is that Samael is an angel, and they are great at giving advice, telling you how to fix things in your life, initiating various powers into your sphere, and generally motivating big picture movements towards manifestation, but, while they can get hands on stuff done, they're not always focused on hands on manifest stuff, and sub-lunar spirits are better at that because they exist in conjunction with the manifest world. King Samax and Carmax being aerial spirits are spirits who are sub-lunar as in they exist within the earthly sphere instead of existing in the celestial sphere, there are references to aerial, and terrestrial spirits, and occasionally aqueous ones, as “demons” or spirits who exist beneath the celestial realm without being themselves infernal. The Theurgia-Goetia refers to aerial spirits as mixed nature, partaking both of good and evil, seemingly with the intention of saying they are partially of an angelic nature and partially demonic...this sort of blending is great for a comic book, but doesn't really fit into the worldview of the late medieval and early renaissance grimoires that predate the Lemegeton. At that point spirits were spirits and where they resided had to do with how they might be called and how they might serve you when they show up, maybe who they answer to, but not all demons who resided beneath the celestial realm were devils. So, consider the aerial spirits as being easy to access since they reside in the earthly sphere, useful for material needs, again because they reside in the earthly sphere, and somewhat morally ambivalent. They also generally arrive on the winds and should be called directionally and preferably in a space with access to air flow, although in my example, I'm at a desk in an office and it worked fine.

The way I called them was simple and unplanned. I didn't fast, I didn't do any special bathing, or put on special clothes. Those things are nice, especially for an introduction. There are various reasons why those things make it easier for you to experience a spirit. But in this case, I didn't have prior work with Samael and was still able to call on him without a bunch of ritual or special prep. Part of this is that I did not need him to manifest in a way where I could see or hear him, and I did not need to be able to have some visionary experience of him. I just needed his spiritual presence to hear a request and aid with it. So in cases like that you don't need nearly as much to accomplish it. Having worked with spirits in his sphere before, having worked the Abramelin, and having spent a lot of time working with angels in general probably helps. But even if that's not the case for you, angels generally are interested in contact if you're earnestly trying.

The prayer was pretty short and wasn't overtly magical. Part of that is influence from the Olympic spirits who all kind of suggest very simple methods of approaching them in my experience, and that of many other magicians I know. But part of it is also drawn from old medieval Catholic ways of working with angels. In Catholic magic a simple prayer to God to send an angel for assistance is normal and doesn't need circles and signs and stuff. In Forbidden Rites it's even noted that sometimes the method of a simple prayer to send an angel was considered acceptable whereas adding in seals and circles would be what crossed the line into “necromancy” and illicit magic. So the simple prayer method is also well attested. In my example you'll note that “Lord of Hosts” or “Adonai Tzvot” is the only “name of God” that I use (unless you count “Holy and Merciful God”). Lord of Hosts is my preferred go-to God Name because, well, it describes God as I understand God, but also it's the most appropriate name from a Merkavah perspective, which definitely influences me. Interestingly enough it's also one of the small handful of names of God which Abraham the Jew says is permitted to use after one received their Holy Guardian Angel and begins to work The Sacred Magic.

I asked for something pretty direct, and I said what I would do if I got it. A lot of times when working with a spirit you'll do this in terms of “if you get the girl I like to talk to me, I'll pour rose petals on your seal and then burn them for you as an incense.” You present an if/then in terms of an offering. That can be a good way to go. Sometimes, angels want to see you fixing what's going on with you. They want you to be your best self. So sometimes with an angel your if/then can be “hey, give me the assist to get through this and I'll do my part to make it better.” In addition to that I went online and publicly praised the angel's work. This is something we see in ancient graffiti, people would publicly thank gods and spirits who helped them achieve their desires. Spirits seem to like good publicity. Maybe it means more people will talk to them, maybe it strengthens their anchor in the world. I don't know. But lots of magicians find it's part of what their spirits want, the ancients understood it's what spirits want, and in my experience it goes over well with them.

So, now that we've analyzed the magic to this point, lets continue the story...

The next day was Sunday. I was supposed to take the car to the shop, since Saturday, everything ran smoothly. Instead, I slept til like 4pm. Now in my defense, normally I sleep like 3 to 5 hours a night, and usually once a week, maybe once every other week, I get a night where I can actually sleep. This had been my first opportunity at any extended amount of sleep for some time. And maybe I got overzealous about sleeping. In any case, I did not fulfill my end of the bargain. When I woke up I tried to. I drove around to a bunch of mechanics shops but they were all closed. Apparently most of them had no Sunday hours, so doing my part would have been tough even if I'd woken up, I did eventually find one that was open though, but they weren't taking anymore work for the day, so ultimately I still missed the mark.

So I figured “Well, when I get some time off I'll take care of this, the seal seems to be working.”

The next morning I got up, got ready for work, hopped in my car, got on the belt way...and found that I couldn't accelerate above about 20 miles per hour. My car was shooting huge amounts of smoke out the back, and it felt like it was going to fall apart when I tried to accelerate. I saw cars driving up behind me and thought “oh crap, I'm going to die if I don't get off the beltway” so I quickly exited, called my boss, and told her I wouldn't be in, and headed for the nearest mechanic.

I pulled into a repair shop up the street from my house, I asked the guy for an oil change and a tune up. He said it didn't make sense that I'd need a tune up. I explained my problem, and admitted I'd missed an oil change, and he said I should take it to the dealer, because if there's a problem, and he touches it the warranty will be voided. I was like “No, I can't make it to the dealer, I have to bring it to you, I understand I'll have to pay.” So he said he'd do the oil change, and he'd fix a light I'd had out for awhile, and he'd see if that took care of it. He also explained that I was wrong about how frequently I needed oil changes, and that the frequency was twice as often as I'd thought, so I was more negligent than I'd thought.

He seemed like a good guy though, I felt like I was in good hands. So I walked home and left him to it. I came back later, and he was done. He told me how hard changing the light was and showed me cell phone pictures. He was cordial and it seemed like everything was going to be ok. Then he was like “So, you'd f-ed.” He walked me over to my car and explained that I'd burned out the turbo charger because I hadn't taken care of the oil. But...he explained it in vivid detail, with lots of curse words. He explained repeatedly how it was entirely my fault, and no one could help me, and that I'd destroyed my car, and at a minimum it would cost me $8K to fix it, each line pretty much included a refrain of how it was all my fault because I'd “f'ed up”. It was the most surreal customer service experience ever. And that was when I realized I was standing in front of a very real manifestation of the accuser.

He suggested I try the dealership. I drove to the next town, went to where I'd bought the car, the trip was terrifying. It drove better than it did before the oil change, I could force it to about 40mph now, but each acceleration gave a puff of black smoke, and if I pushed passed forty is was constant smoke and rattling. The dealership told me they couldn't see me for two weeks, but maybe another dealership that took their extended warranty could see me sooner. I drove home, the car riding horribly. I went up to my room, and laid down for an hour trying to relax to get rid of some of the stress, but the mechanic's explanation of my fault and the problems it would cause me just kept vividly replaying in my head so I couldn't sleep, and I could feel my heart racing as I edged just outside of panic.

I went back downstairs, and I went to my ancestor altar and made offerings and prayed for help. Then I made essentially the same prayer as before, but this time called on Raphael and Tzadkiel.

Making offerings to my ancestors tends to center me, calm me down, and give me strength. When things are bothering me, and I can smell the incense from their altar I start to calm down. Generally knowing they are there looking out for me and helping me is something that helps make me feel good and feel like I'll get through stuff. This is one of the reasons I heavily advocate that people establish an ancestor relationship. Your ancestors can help you with stuff in your life, and they can also help you navigate the spirit world. They can work directly with the spirits you're calling on and make sure they way they are manifesting things is a way which will help you, and having been human, they'll understand in ways other spirits might not. So they can add strength to what you're doing and also clarity to the work that spirits are doing on your behalf.

A lot of the time it will make sense to do spirit work at your ancestor altar, having already made offerings to your ancestors and having invited their presence. But you can also do ritual with your ancestors and then go to your altar where you do magic or conjurations and work their having asked already for their aid, maybe taking some token with you, or you can do your magic, like I did, and then go to your ancestors afterwards for help, like I did. In my case I just made offerings and then asked for help, but you might also bring some talisman or physical element of the magic you're working and leave it on the altar for them to work on. There are a lot of ways they can be incorporated into your work. We often talk about needing them as spirits involved in our magic, but we rarely talk about how to do that in a practical sense. In my case, these methods I've described are how I actively work with them in working magic.

So in addition to my ancestors, I called on Raphael, for the Sun, and Tzadkiel, for Jupiter. Unlike Samael these are spirits with whom I have a long history of work and familiarity. So it's definitely easier to call them with a more present effect using the simple prayer method. In this case I called them at the same time, which I don't usually do, and I didn't use Orphic hymns or seals. Just a prayer to the Lord of Hosts, and this time especially highlighting his Merciful and Loving nature, and also not just asking for good angels...I asked specifically “send your good AND MERCIFUL” angels. Mercy of course being the opposite of the Judgment inherent in Gevurah.

So, why the Sun? The Sun has kind of a magical reset button effect in some ways, it sets things to order. The Sun and Solar Spirits have a lot of cool interesting effects of their own, but in conjunction with other planetary forces the Sun has the ability to set and direct their motion. This is why the Sun is a general force of healing, it creates balance and draws the forces of the body or soul which are misaligned back into alignment. An important part of work in magical development involves engaging this solar principle and learning to use it to give order to the planetary forces as they manifest in your life. This element is also reflected in the relationship between the Abramelin working and the spirit magic which follows it. So in this case I called upon Raphael to create order and direction so that the Martial force would manifest primarily around getting my car fixed rather than around punishing or judging me for any misdeed. I conjured Tzadkiel to add to this balancing effect, since Tzadkiel in addition to the various Jupiterian powers and the fatherly providence and the kingly fecundity which he brings, he also brings Mercy and therefore could stay Samael's hand and cool the fires of judgment. Tzadkiel could also cause those looking at my situation to look upon me mercifully and lean more in my favor than against it.

So having conjured the spirits I explained what I needed and then continued with the day. I decided I would go get lunch and then make the trip to the other dealership, with the thought that the lunch trip could help me gauge my ability to drive more. When I got back from lunch I got the urge to check the mail. I'd just checked it over the weekend, and usually I don't check it too often unless I'm expecting something because usually it's just junk. But I thought “hey, maybe something in there will help things seem more alright.” So I opened the mail box and the only thing in it was a recall notice for my vehicle. Now it wasn't for the turbo charger, it was for the computer, but the glitch caused the car to be unable to accelerate above certain speeds similar to what mine was doing and it talked about the high level of danger this could potentially cause. I took this as a good sign and brought the recall notice with me.

I went to the dealer, explained my problem, and how I'd taken it to get an oil change today, but I'd misunderstood the frequency and I was late on the oil change, enough so that the new oil already looked bad, and that the oil had burned up the turbo charger so it wouldn't accelerate. Then I showed them the recall notice, and said, while it was a different part, it was the same symptom, and I asked if they could be related. The service station clerk said he'd call to see what the warranty could do, and he led me to the waiting room. About forty minutes later he came out with some paperwork and the keys to a loaner car. Three days later, they'd finished taking apart and reassembling my cars front end, and repairing the problems, and I went and picked it up.

The invoice pleasantly had zeros on the bottom. There was no cost. The first mechanic had suggested that maybe the extended warranty combined with the warranty would help reduce the cost but he insisted that the dealer would probably make me pay part of it. Again his estimate was $8K or higher for the work, and since they had to take apart everything, and it took days of work, a high cost seems likely. But in the end it didn't cost anything.

The car was definitely new enough, and with few enough miles that the warranty should have covered this, but I've seen situations where routine maintenance was done and the owner just couldn't document it and so claims were denied, let alone cases like mine. So I think this is a win for magic. But I think the story is especially helpful because it illustrates how various spirits and magical forces can work together to shape a manifestation. I think it also shows how when we're not careful a manifestation might have parts that we aren't expecting, or might not want to deal with.

I've seen people say that people should only conjure Camael because Samael is essentially the devil, he is poison, the Prince of Rome who God cast into fire for his desire to punish God's favored people. I've seen others say Camael is just a corruption of the name Samael and there is only Samael as the angel of Mars. But Camael seems to be a different name with a different meaning, and people seem to conjure Camael and get successful results from a different sort of presence than the one they get when they conjure Samael. If you look at the history of Jewish angel magic a lot of angel names are basically a random word with God tacked onto it. This isn't even a reductionist statement, it was essentially the concept behind the earliest Jewish forms of angel magic. So Camael also being an angel is pretty reasonable. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't still conjure Samael. Sometimes we need that poison. Sometimes we need to have a mirror held up to show us our flaws and break us down, but we need to know how to then put ourselves back together and what forces we need to draw in to move forward from that experience. Samael may be poison, but he's the poison which is an expression of the divine.

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