One Star

One Star

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Conjuring Wisdom - The Prince of the Torah, part 1

I remarked recently that I was amused by reading the Sar Torah, The Prince of the Torah, an early Hekhalot text which describes God deciding to send an angel who held with him all the wisdom of the Torah to the Jews so that they could learn the Torah. The book is pretty cool, and stories about summoning the Sar HaTorah are important to the Hekhalot tradition. What was amusing was the opening narrative in which the Jewish people are basically like “God you've been a dick, and we want to learn Torah but can't because you've been a dick!” And God responds, “You're right my chosen people! You weren't cool and broke our covenant, and I got super pissed, but sending gentiles in to murder and enslave you was over reacting!” So, God recognizes that they're praying for his Wisdom and that that want to have “an abundance of Torah, a tumult of Talmud” and numerous legal discussions. God has longed to hear his Torah on their tongues. There's lots of consonance with Ts in the English translation...which adds to the humor.

My initial thought on it being amusing was who prays for that? Who prays to have legal discussions? It just sounds funny. But it's really actually quite reasonable, and beautiful. While I won't say a hundred percent that the authors of the Talmud looked at it the way that I do, I'm sure there were some who must have. The Torah is the law, as described in the first 5 books of the Bible. The law however is not simply the instruction for how people follow moral and ceremonial laws of the Jewish people, the law is a symbol of reflection of the law which underwrites the cosmos.

This is the basic concept behind the Kabbalah. The books which comprise the Torah begin with the book which describes the creation, the movement of man into the final phase of creation, the first laws causing man to participate in creation, the destruction and new beginning for mankind, the establishment of the symbolic and metaphysical nations, and ultimately the covenant and the establishment of the twelve tribes. The Genesis describes the mystical order for the foundation of mankind within the world and sets up the back story for the reception of the rest of the law. The law is received as the apex of a series of stories that sets up a very mystical symbolism for the development of the world, man, and the relationship between the world, man, and God – the very relationship which is the foundation of religion, magic, and mysticism.

The law delivered in this context is a symbol, a symbol for that relationship, for the shape of the body of God, for the flow of creation through the universe, and for the image of God which is the core of man's being. This is the basis of the Kabbalah. Moses DeLeon in the Zohar describes the mystical interpretation of the Torah. The law is explained as a series of symbols and ceremonies of mystical importance which correspond to movements within the body of God, and make changes in the mystic, and the world, by its observance.

In modern magical systems we sometimes find the same thinking. The Kybalion is essentially a series of “natural laws” based on early New Thought variations of Hermetic principles. These laws have the intention of not simply describing how we should act, or in this particular case how we improve ourselves or engage in developing occult power, they have the intention of describing the nature of the universe, our souls, and the connection there between.

For a much broader group of magicians we could look at The Book of the Law with this same structure. The Book of the Law on the surface provides “the Law of Thelema” or the instruction for the Thelemite to live by the instructions “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and “love is the law love under will.” The rest of the text can be viewed as giving further commentary on those ideas. If we take it as surface “moral commentary” or a description of how we should act and live, or even ascribe to some sections a “ceremonial” component, assuming it describes rituals in which we should engage, there are still plenty of passages that are just weird as balls if we don't attempt to explore possible deeper elements.

Going a level deeper we can look at much of the Book of the Law as a description of alchemy, both inner and outer, and therefore of initiation and magic. Taken another way it may provide a means of understanding elements of theology, not simply the allegorical theological elements which describe initiation but also potentially a perspective from which to interpret larger elements of theology. Taken further we can explore the law as a commentary on the workings of the universe, our place in those workings, and how the two relate.

See the trend forming?

So when we talk about the desire to call upon the Prince of the Torah and receive his wisdom, which God and the angels generally refer to as if it is a secret and precious treasure hidden away in a treasure vault, we're desiring essentially to peal back the veil and understand the inner and divine workings and nature of life the universe and everything, to borrow a phrase. The whole goal of mysticism, the whole work of spiritual development, that is what the Sar Torah describes as the gift given in the summoning of the Prince of the Torah. Even for the dullard with no wisdom, the Prince of the Torah elevates him to the equal of the greatest sages.

Pretty neat. You could call on the Prince and become a Master with no other experience, no other work. Sounds like a plan. In fact, we could probably solve a bunch of the worlds problems by Magus-ing everyone up with this simple conjuration right?

Probably not. We probably wouldn't want to. The work is part of the importance, part of what gets us where we're going, what makes us what we are. The work is also part of how we transform the world around ourselves, and understand that world as well. Part of understanding that is recognizing that the journey is the thing, and also, that not everyone is made for the same work, and some people maybe don't need that.

The myths of the Prince of the Torah also talk about him coming angrily and full of wrath in clouds of fire bent on destroying the world. He comes peacefully when called correctly by a sage with divine permission. Otherwise he destroys those who call him. This kind of reminds me of people who take the Oath of the Abyss before they're ready and go crazy. Divine fire can burn away all those things which keep us from understanding who we are, what the world is, and where we're going in it, but it can also burn away everything that anchors us and gives us stability and control. It's a question of balance and preparedness.

So, when we're ready, the Prince of the Torah can be an ally in our development. Whether we're looking to find the nature of the mystical teachings hidden in the Torah, or the Book of the Law, or simply the Truth itself we have an angel for whom that is its purpose. We can prepare ourselves and call upon it like we would call upon the Prince of the Presence, or our Holy Guardian Angel, and gain insight, maybe not instant mastery, but insight is worth a lot in this line of work.

You might want more than my insight into the meaning and nature of this operation and info on the actual operation itself. I'm going to save that for another post, so follow the blog and check back soon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Devil Chaser: Kicking Out Vexing Spirits

Sometimes evil spirits get uppity and need to get their walking papers...or at least, sometimes people think that's what's going on. Usually it's not the case if magic is being done right. A good magician will go through rituals and ceremonies which establish his place of working and his authority as well as his spiritual allies in a way which results in being mostly safe from that problem. Mostly. It's still possible something can come up. On the road to becoming a good magician it's also possible something problematic can arise. Normally it won't be anything that isn't easily handled. Still, it's important as a magician to have the tools to handle such an issue, for yourself or for others where it may arise.

For the methods being described here they will be sufficient for dismissing the common sort of spirits that one may encounter from normal activity as well as for providing some basic protections. They will not cause any particular harm in a situation where the spirit is not the problem. Because it is very possible, and often likely, that there is a non-spiritual cause for problems one is experiencing those not thoroughly trained in examining such problems should also explore various mundane causes and solutions.

That having been said, let's look at solving the problem of vexing spirits.

There are a lot of traditional sorcery methods for such things. In fact, that's a big part of the job of a local sorcerer traditionally. As a kid and young adult, I tended to use pretty pagan methods, banishing by the elements and by tools and signs of authority. These types of methods all work pretty well. As an adult though I have also begun incorporating methods more linked to ceremonial magic and Catholic mysticism. A couple simple methods of this variety are what I'm going to present today.

Recently I was having an issue that seemed to be unruly spirits. Quick solution? I have a box of rosaries dedicated to Saint Benedict, whose patronage includes exorcism and the destruction of evil sorcery. I also have a handful of Benedictine medals on bracelets. I popped on a bracelet and hung a rosary over my bed. The issues stopped immediately.

This is basically the use of a talisman. In this case a talisman specifically set towards banishing spirits. Similarly a talisman dedicated to the archangel Michael could be used the same way. Or if you knew what spirit was vexing you you could use a talisman dedicated to the angel who commands that spirit. That would be a bigger process to undergo. So as a catch all, conjure Michael to consecrate your Benedictine talismans before use. Such a conjuration could be done as a general precaution and the talisman wrapped and put away until needed. For those not ready for a full conjuration a simple prayer could be used.

Pope Leo XIII penned this prayer to St. Michael the Archangel after a vision of a war with evil spirits in which Michael was casting them down. Interestingly enough Leo III was the Pope to whom the Enchiridion was ascribed.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Now if that's a little too heavy handed in the Christian department and you want to go a bit more standard on the magical end we can amend it a bit to something like this:

“Archangel Michael, in the name of the God of Hosts
defend me in battle.
Be my protection against the onslaught of evil spirits.
In the name Elohim Tzvot, Mighty angel, rebuke them;
I conjure you mighty Prince,
In the name of Elohim Tzvot
cast into the fire all spirits set against me,
destroy and turn back all bent upon my ruin.”

With either prayer end by tracing Michael's seal above the seal of Benedict and whisper Michael's name into the seal.

If you have to deal with a spirit aside from simply using a talisman and wish to banish, the opening banishings of more traditional ceremonial magic can be useful. Not things like the LBRP, or LHR, these are rituals of a mystical quality which can be applied practically, rather than practical rituals straight up. Opening using the Chaldean Oracles can sanctify a space and remove minor disturbances. The Enchiridion has some great exorcising Orisons which can be used for such purposes or as the openings of rituals. The psalms used to establish the working space in the Greater Key, as well as prayers of constriction and banishing from the grimoires.

The problem with these is they're usually kind of long and need to be looked up. For the most part they're designed to be used in a larger ritual. They also might be overkill for small disturbances. Something easy to memorize which is more than sufficient for the average disturbance is the Vade Retro Satana which is built into Benedict's seal.

Crux sacra sit mihi lux
Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro satana
Numquam suade mihi vana
Sunt mala quae libas
Ipse venena bibas

Let the Holy Cross be my light
Let not the dragon be my guide
Turn back Satan
Never tempt me with vain things
What you offer me is evil
You drink that poison yourself

This small exorcism represents several points of the mythology of Saint Benedict, principally a story of a monk who attempted to leave his guidance and was almost consumed by the devil before returning, and attempts to poison him which were miraculously defeated.

This one would take less adapting to make it more comfortable for the contemporary magician. The Holy Cross of Light is already a symbol used heavily in the Western Mystery Tradition. This can be associated with the Rose Cross, which is a highly appropriate symbol for such work. Being tempted with vain things is precisely the antithesis of the magician. Satan and the Dragon are the only images that may be less fitting, although the Dragon appears in the Enochian materials as the Telocvovim or the Death Dragon, another name for Coronzon.

So we simply adapt one non-Latin word...

Crux sacra sit mihi lux
Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro omnia mala
Numquam suade mihi vana
Sunt mala quae libas
Ipse venena bibas

Let the Holy Cross be my light
Let not the dragon be my guide
Turn back all evil things
Never tempt me with vain things
What you offer me is evil
You drink that poison yourself

A consecrated candle, or a ritual sword or wand could be used as a tool in conjunction with this exorcism. The Benedictine talisman could be used in conjunction with this as well. The charm references the cross of light and so the Rose Cross sign can be made in conjunction therewith. The charm references the destruction of poison bread and wine as well. A ritual involving the destruction of a false Eucharist and consumption of one truly consecrated could be employed as well.

So none of these methods is particularly difficult. Unfortunately the expulsion of vexing spirits isn't something that gets treated a lot in most readily available magical writing. It tends to be assumed that this is something for which people need to seek out someone's assistance. In a case where things are pretty intense that is probably sound advise. In cases where something is just giving you the heebie jeebies or disturbing your dreams these techniques are sufficient, at least as a starting point.

Again, there are a lot of serious mundane problems that people at times mistake for spiritual affliction. Be careful to thoroughly examine those possibilities. Where necessary seek out the help of those who can help you explore those possibilities. There are magicians who do things against other people, there are spirits who cause problems for people, the popular sentiment that this is not the case is false, but it remains true that it is also not the most common occurrence. Be ready to protect yourself, but also be intelligent and responsible.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Big Nut Strut

Over the weekend I was reading the Enchiridion of Pope Leo. I dig Catholicism enough that one of my friends, when he first came to the OTO, suspected me of being a secret Jesuit spy...and the people who had known me for years as an OTO member agreed that it was kind of a reasonable assumption. I still found the Enchiridion to be frustrating and off putting. Only a few portions were obviously useful, some others felt like they could be...if...they weren't so bogged down in Catholic guilt. Some parts drew me in, made me think of ways they could be used.

This got me thinking, about magical confessions, and how to make them better.

A great deal of ritual magic is based on worldviews rooted in religions which value ritual purity. Our modern cultures don't value that as much, in fact, our contemporary sensibility is often critical of religion. Magicians engaged in more traditional forms of magic embrace a world in which spirits are real and magic has a real impact on the world around us,. Still, traditional magicians often embrace a more free view of the world than that which embraces strict elements of ritual purity. Sometimes we criticize it as a repressive Christian view, but we find similar purity laws in most traditional religions, and we find purifications in the ancient magical texts with limited Christian influence.

I find a lot of traditional religious magic pretty inspiring. I also find that having a complete worldview, top to bottom, and making your magic an application thereof is necessary to having a truly powerful magical system, both in terms of transforming the world and developing yourself. I do not however find it useful to shit on myself for things that I don't think are a sin. So, that part of some of the magical systems I like doesn't fit my worldview. I've even had a spirit challenge me on that point before.

Still, I think some sort of moment of aligning oneself through confession can be really powerful.

In another post (Better than Not Sinning) I recommending an alternative method. A different one has occurred to me though. Negative confession is workable, and is definitely better than groveling about being a sinner. Why not positive assertion?

Modern systems like Thelema, and like the Traditionalist School look at the power in the positive view of people. In Thelema the active strength involved in doing one's Will and forcing forward as a star against the difficulties and distractions of the world is a source of power. This idea isn't really explored a lot by Thelemites, but it's pretty important in terms of understanding power and magic in a Thelemic worldview. In the traditionalist school tapping into the Primordial Tradition and the nature of the Hero are based upon the power of ones character. Strengthening virtue strengthens an individual not just personally but also by reputation and place in the community. This terrestrial element of power echoes in the spiritual. Virtue carries with it an occult force and authority which fuels and inspires the magician's ability to impact the world.

In the ancient world we see similar views. Virtue comes from virtus or manliness and implies force. The force implied is conjunct with the nature of certain virtues in the Greek and Roman world, those which imply the power and ability to impact the world. In a mundane sense these are the authority which one asserts in the family and in the public or political sphere. In a spiritual sphere these virtues are the strength of the animus or soul and reflect the power an individual is able to exert in a greater sense.

NeoPlatonism expands this in that virtue not only elevates the capabilities of the NeoPlatonist philosophically and intellectually, but also drives their ability to act in the public sphere and serve the common good. As their virtues elevate them to higher levels of virtue and increase their ability to create good for the community they increase their connection to higher levels of being and draw closer to the One and the Good. This becomes the foundation for theurgical practice and and compliments the development of the theurgist.

So we have a good basis for the idea of strength and spiritual fortitude being linked to character and action in both modern and traditional currents of magical work. Accomplishment also can be a useful element in establishing the power of the magician when dealing with spirits.

In the Merkavah the magician demonstrates his authority by announcing that he's part of the club. He shows the angels that he knows the signs, their names, the songs of the heavens. He is basically demonstrating to them that he knows what he needs to know, and that he's achieved the heights, quite literally, that give him the right to command him.

The Mithras Liturgy in the PGM essentially works on the same principle. The magician engages in practices to elevate himself and expose himself to spirits and then uses incantations, sounds, and signs which show them that he belongs there, is one of them, and should not be troubled or should be served.

The Sword of Moses, and later grimoiric works align the magician to the character of heroic biblical or magical figures in order to demonstrate that they have the character or personal histories of those figures and therefore deserve the same visitation of divine grace and therefore the same right to command spirits.

Witchcraft traditions grant power by birth and by ritual, talismans gained through completing certain rituals are further marks of a witch's power and ability to command spirits and powers of nature. Sorcery lineages grant power by passing it from one sorcerer to another through initiation, admission to a house, and investiture of spirits. This comes with signs, talismans, tools, and special ritual elements that show that the sorcerer is part of the tradition and has gained those powers and that authority over the spirits.

Countless other magical systems and traditions are based on the authority that a magician has by right of accomplishment or admission, or the gathering of tools and powers. A key part of magic is the magician showing that he has those rights and authorities. A way to do this is perhaps by taking a moment, aligning yourself to your sources of power and authority, and making them known to the spirits and occult forces with which you are about to work.

The first time I used this method was before a katabasis in which I needed to seek out Hades to ask his permission to engage in certain activities in the underworld. When asking the gods with whom I had more direct working relationships how to proceed I was inspired with a particular series of ritual actions, which by in large matched up to historical methods. An added piece though was beginning with the announcement of various initiations and ritual acts I had undergone which showed that I had a right to enter and ask for audience. The ritual worked very well and the ensuing series of necromantic rituals were successful. Still, until now, it was not a method which occurred to me routinely. It would cross my mind occasionally, but usually I'd settle on some purification or a negative confession. I think there are definitely times where that's still the way to go.

That said, there's also time to lay the cards on the table and and point out that you can do what you're doing because you've got the goods. So next time you're inclined to use some grimoiric magic, and the author wants you to crap on yourself for being human, instead, take a pause, and make an announcement extolling your virtue so as to remind the powers that be, that you have a seat at the table.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Key to Success

One of the key components to success is pretty simple. Whether you're looking for power, wisdom, or just being happy it all involves one basic thing to hold together the core of your work. Be yourself.

We often talk about the admonition to “Know thyself” and it's pretty meaningful. By digging deep into exploring who we are and where we come from, and how we've gotten where we are, we can understand where we're going, and how to get there. We can understand deeper mysteries about ourselves, the world, and our place in it as well.

But if we understand these things and we don't make a point to live honestly as who we are then we're throwing that knowledge away. If we understand who we are, and what will make us happy, and how we can get what can make us happy, why should we let other influences tell us to be someone other than the person who can go out and get that happiness?

We do though, we give up on being ourselves pretty easily.

Sometimes it's just that we don't trust or understand who we are and how being who we are will work out well for us. Sometimes it's because we're afraid of who we are or because we think we want to be something else. Often it's because of what we think other people will think.

A friend recently told me that he's focusing on developing himself. He wants to be able to assess anyone he meets, beguile them with his charm, and get them to do whatever he wants, consistently. Now, this might not seem like something to be happy with, but it's who he is. When I first met him it was pretty obvious that that was the person he is. At the time he kept trying to describe his behaviors in less extreme ways. He tried to whitewash his motivations, and tried to downplay his desires. As a result he was much less effective. It was like he was constantly walking into a fight with his hands tied behind his back. We might not be thrilled with the goal he has realized is his, but we should be happy he's pursuing his own nature.

When we work with our Holy Guardian Angel that's part of what we're working towards, knowing our natures, knowing our will, and becoming more earnestly the person we are. The more we work against being that person the less we're able to work in conjunction with our angel.

From a Thelemic perspective the Angel is the truest portion of ourselves, the divine element which originates us. Rejecting who we are and trying to be someone other than who we are is therefore rejecting the Angel. From a Jewish or Christian perspective the Holy Guardian Angel is the emissary of divine grace. That divine source is the same source that made us with our particular nature. Therefore rejecting who we are and trying to be someone else is rejecting the gift that divine grace specifically gave each of us: our individual selves.

However we view it theologically speaking, rejecting the self is connected to rejecting the angel. This becomes important from a magical perspective as the angel serves many purposes. Your Holy Guardian Angel is a a guide and teacher, but it is also a source of power and authority. Cultivating our connection to it is part of our task from day one as magicians. Rejecting ourselves, and our natures, rejecting the angel is the erosion of our connection to that power and authority.

There was a point, before I pursued Knowledge and Conversation, where I had engaged in a plan to be a person more amenable to someone I cared about a great deal. While I very much believe in charity, love and human dignity, my nature is also one which is pretty angry and wrathful. I'm a good example of embracing both poles but not of the nice balanced middle of the road. I tried to convince people I'd turned over a new leaf and was going to be all sunshine and smiles. No one really believed me but I was trying to make it seem real. During this time I asked my angel about teaching me some stuff. His answer was essentially, “when you pull your head out of your ass and just be yourself.”

Our angels know what's up. They want us to grow that connection because their purpose is to carry us into the throne room and expose us to the Truth of the universe, and along the way, to make sure we create the world we were born to build. None of that can happen unless we've committed to that connection, unless we embrace the Truth of our being and live it.

Sometimes who we are isn't the easiest thing. Sometimes it presents a road that has difficulties, trials, heart ache, even abuse. People in extreme situations of denying themselves usually say though that the worst part isn't what they suffer, it's feeling like they can't openly be who they are. For most people it's not even for the mystical or magical success that we pave the road for by embracing and living as ourselves, it's just about feeling happy and safe in your own skin. That's important too. Despite the struggles and difficulties, when we find a way to be ourselves and to succeed in whatever it is we're drawn to be, that's where we'll find our happiness. As we begin to fall into that groove, and the world moves with us it becomes a lot easier to focus on the rest of the work and to compound our success.

So if you want power, wisdom, success, and happiness, if you want to be a truly successful magician, don't forget that simple but important key: be yourself.