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Friday, December 30, 2016

The Stele of Reggie Scott or Thoughts on Daily Prayers

In my last post I made a quick mention of the idea of reciting the prayers and conjurations for the days of the week even when not working a conjuration ritual. Some modern authors stress the idea of repeating the conjurations for the power which is conveyed through the presence of mind and the smooth ritual feeling created by reciting a memorized conjuration. There is some truth to that, but for that to be the case the magician can't simply memorize and recite...if he does he has essentially the same distraction as he tries to focus on recall. He has to embody the experience of the conjuration prayer so that it becomes natural to him, not simply memorized. When I was learning to celebrate the Gnostic Mass one of the Priestesses (now a Bishop) who helped train me pointed out that you can't rote memorize the Mass and then try to paint the magic on later, you have to run the magic from the beginning so that the celebration of the mystery is natural to you. When working with Novice clergy I often recommend that they find ways to explore the passages of the Mass in meditation to deepen their understanding and then utilize them in building other magical rituals so that they are used to running with those forces in the ways in which the Mass stirs them. Working in that manner there can be an added element to memorization. But memorization can be a draw back if you're constantly worrying about whether or not you remembered it right or missed a word or phrase, or if the attempt to recall causes a stilted broken delivery or detachment as one blankly recalls and says words. Reading can create the same problems, but we can also read in an engaged fashion with feeling in which we embody what we are reading. In fact, references to the book as a tool in medieval and renaissance magical literature suggests that it is used in the ritual, and therefore likely read from.

So, why pray the conjurations when not working the rituals? Another suggestion is that we can, without conjuring the spirits, still stir and stimulate the planetary forces in our lives by working with the conjurations. Similar to the suggestion to work the Mass into our other work. Considering this from the perspective of a Priest we can compare this to the practices of those who developed the medieval grimoire system, people with a clerical background. Catholics had a rich system of prayers and rituals for all elements of life, and prayers for various parts of the day to keep them in touch with the spirit and focused on a life enmeshed within divine grace. They inflamed themselves with prayer by invoking often. Working with the daily conjurations and prayers allows us to do that with the planetary forces which form a central system of categorizing the universe in grimoire magic and much of the Western Mystery Tradition. Similarly working with prayers that connect us to ancestors, saints, local spirits, or our intermediaries can be of value for our personal spiritual routine maintenance.

When we work the Abramelin a lot of the preparation is this immersion in repeated prayer and meditation. It focuses us on the goal but also draws us towards the angel. In modern magic the Holy Guardian Angel, whether contacted through the Abramelin or related rituals is a focus as far as what we should draw ourselves towards. One prayer that frequently is associated with this is the Stele of Jeu, or the Headless Invocation as it is presented in the Golden Dawn system, the Bornless Ritual, or the A.'.A.'. system, Liber Samekh.

The Stele of Jeu is an exorcism ritual. People question this assertion sometimes because they're used to seeing the modern version which removes the exorcism verbiage and instead replaces it with the verbiage about subjugating spirits that is otherwise only found towards the end of the invocation. To be clear, when I say exorcism in this case it is in reference to subduing and casting out a spirit, not the more general earlier verbiage simply of binding spirits. In most cases, that isn't precisely what we'd be looking for by working with the Stele. At least, not all the time.

In Reginald Scott's work there is a “conjuration” which doesn't actually conjure a spirit, but rather implores the Trinity, primarily Jesus, to establish a relationship with the magician which will allow him to conjure spirits and make them obedient. For people who want to work in a Christian context this prayer would be a great daily prayer for establishing a relationship with divine authority and receiving the consecration needed to call and command spirits subject to that authority. For those working in a Thelemic context or some other modern context, the prayer can be reworked to be appropriate for your context or simply used as an example for how to build such a prayer when we look at its pattern in comparison with the Stele of Jeu.

For now, here is the conjuration from Book XV of Scott.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ the + Father + and the Son + and the Holy Ghost + Holy Trinity and Inseparable Unity, I call upon You, that You may be my salvation and defense, and the protection of my body and soul, and of all my goods through the virtue of Your Holy Cross, and through the virtue of Your passion, I beseech You O Lord Jesus Christ, by the merits of Your blessed mother Holy Mary, and of all Your saints, that You give me grace and divine power over all the wicked spirits, so as which of them soever I do call by name, they may come by and by from every coast, and accomplish my will, that they neither be hurtful or fearful unto me, but rather obedient and diligent about me. And through Your virtue straightly commanding them, let them fulfill my commands, Amen. Holy, holy, Lord God of Sabboth, which will come to judge the quick and the dead, You who are Alpha and Omega, first and last, King of kings and Lord of lords, Ioth, Aglanabrath, El, Abiel, Anathiel, Amazim, Sedomel, Gayes, Heli, Messias, Tolimi, Elias, Ischiros, Athanatos, Imas. By these Your holy names, and by all others I do call upon You, and beseech You O Lord Jesus Christ, by Your nativity and baptism, by thy cross and passion, by Your ascension, and by the coming of the Holy-Ghost, by the bitterness of Your soul when it departed from Your body, by Your five wounds, by the blood and water which went out of Your body, by Your virtue, by the sacrament which You gave Your disciples the day before You suffered, by the Holy trinity, and by the inseparable unity, by blessed Mary Your mother, by Your angels, archangels, prophets, patriarchs, and by all Your saints, and by all the sacraments which are made in Your honor, I do worship and beseech You, I bless and desire You, to accept these prayers, conjurations, and words of my mouth, which I will use. I require You O Lord Jesus Christ, that You give me Your virtue & power over all Your angels (which were thrown down from heaven to deceive mankind) to draw them to me, to tie and bind them, & also to loose them, to gather them together before me, & to command them to do all that they can, and that by no means they contemn my voice, or the words of my mouth; but that they obey me and my sayings, and fear me. I beseech You by Your humanity, mercy and grace, and I require You Adonai, Amay, Horta, Vege dora, Mitai, Hel, Suranat, Ysion, Ysesy, and by all Your holy names, and by all Your holy he saints and she saints, by all Your angels and archangels, powers, dominions, and virtues, and by that name that Solomon did bind the devils, and shut them up, Elhrach, Ebanher, Agla, Goth, Ioth, Othie, Venoch, Nabrat, and by all Your holy names which are written in this book, and by the virtue of them all, that You enable me to congregate all Your spirits thrown down from heaven, that they may give me a true answer of all my demands, and that they satisfy all my requests, without the hurt of my body or soul, or any thing else that is mine, through our Lord Jesus Christ Your son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy-Ghost, one God world without end.

Oh Father omnipotent, Oh wise Son, Oh Holy-Ghost, the searcher of hearts, oh you three in persons, one true godhead in substance, which did spare Adam and Eve in their sins; and Oh You Son, who died for their sins a most filthy death, sustaining it upon the Holy Cross; oh You most merciful, when I fly unto Your mercy, and beseech You by all the means I can, by these the holy names of Your Son; to wit, Alpha and Omega, and all of his other names, grant me Your virtue and power, that I may be able to cite before me, Your spirits which were thrown down from heaven, & that they may speak with me, & dispatch by & by without delay, & with a good will, & without the hurt of my body, soul, or goods, etc: as is contained in the book called Annulus Salomonis.

Oh great and eternal virtue of the highest, which through disposition, these being called to judgment, Vaicheon, Stimulamaton, Esphares, Tetragrammaton, Olioram, Cryon, Esytion, Existion, Eriona, Onela, Brasim, Noym, Messias, Soter, Emanuel, Sabboth, Adonai, I worship You, I invoke You, I implore You with all the strength of my mind, that by You, my present prayers, consecrations, and conjurations be hallowed: and wheresoever wicked spirits are called, in the virtue of Your names, they may come together from every coast, and diligently fulfill the will of me the exorcist. Fiat, fiat, fiat, Amen.

Thee I invoke, the Bornless One!
Thee that didst create the Earth and the Heavens,
Thee that didst create the Night and the Day,
Thee that didst create the Darkness and the Light.
Thou art Osorronophris, whom no man hath seen at any time.
Thou art Jabas; thou art Japos.
Thou hast distinguished between the Just and the Unjust.
Thou didst make the Female and the Male.
Thou didst produce the Seed and the Fruit.
Thou didst form Men to love one another, and to hate one another.
Hear thou me, for I am Mosheh thy servant, unto whom Thou hast committed thy Mysteries, the ceremonies of Israel.
Thou hast produced the moist and the dry, and that which nourisheth all created life.
Hear me, for I am the Angel of Paphro Osorronophris: this is Thy true name, handed down to the prophets of Israel.
Hear me: Ar, Thiao, Rheibet, Atheleberseth, A, Blatha, Abeu, Ebeu, Phi, Thitasoe, Ib, Thiao.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me: so that every spirit of the firmament and of the ether; upon the Earth and under the Earth; on dry land or in the water; of whirling air or of rushing fire; and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient unto me.

I invoke Thee, the terrible and invisible God who dwellest in the void place of spirit: Arogogorobrao, Sothou, Modorio, Phalarthao, Ooo, Ape, The Bornless One.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

Hear me: Roubriao, Mariodam, Balbnabaoth, Assalonai, Aphniao, I, Thoteth, Abrasax, Aeoou, Ischure, Mighty and Bornless One.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

I invoke Thee: Ma, Barraio, Ioel, Kotha, Athorebalo, Abraoth.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

Hear me: Aoth, Abaoth, Basum, Isak, Sabaoth, IAO.
This is the Lord of the Gods;
This is the Lord of the Universe;
This is He Whom the winds fear;
This is He Who, having made Voice by His commandment, is Lord of all things - king, ruler and helper.

Hear me and make all spirits subject unto me … (etc)

Hear me: Ieou, Pyr, Iou, Pyr, Iaot, Iaeo, Ioou, Abrasax, Sabriam, Oo, Yu, Eu, Oo, Yu, Adonaie, Ede, Edu, Angelos Ton Theon, Anlala Lai, Gaia, Apa, Diachanna Chorun.


I am He, the Bornless Spirit! Having sight in the feet - strong, and the Immortal Fire!
I am He, the Truth!
I am He, who hate that evil should be wrought in the world.
I am He who lighteneth and thundereth.
I am He from whom is the shower of the life on Earth.
I am He whose mouth ever flameth.
I am He, the Begetter and Manifester unto the Light.
I am He, the Grace of the World.
“The Heart Girt with a Serpent” is My name.

Come thou forth and follow me, and make all spirits subject unto me, so that every spirit of the firmament and of the ether, upon the Earth and under the Earth, on dry land and in the water, of whirling air and of rushing fire, and every spell and scourge of God, may be obedient unto me.

IAO. Sabao. Such are the words!

Both invocations have a similar structure. They begin by by imploring the presence of the divine by combining references to divine names and characteristics. From there power over spirits is requested. After that more divine names and attributes, more requests for authority, and so forth. Other spiritual forces and heroic figures are referenced as part of the invocation of power and authority. Interestingly the Headless One is described as having a mouth that always flames, and Scott specifically asks that the mouth of the exorcist be blessed. This imagery seems important because it is by words that the magician will continue his work in commanding spirits. A major difference is that the Headless Invocation follows a pattern of identification which we often see in modern magic, possibly partially influenced by the Headless Invocation. We don't see identification with divinity in Scott but rather a series of requests that the magician be consecrated in such a way that he will have authority over the spirits. Both conjurations are comprehensive in the authority over spirits. The Headless Invocation references spirits in different locations...firmament, ether, upon earth, under earth, air, fire, dry land, water, basically covers all places spirits can reside. Scott's focus is on devils and fallen angels, but the spirits are referenced first as angels, and then given the added descriptor of being angels who have been cast down, additionally wicked spirits and devils are specifically referenced. There is no break down of spirits in different elemental localities, but it would seem to suggest that all spirits not in the heavens are made subject, and the spirits of the heavens are implored as part of the structure of gaining power over lower spirits.

So between the two we can get a feel for how to invoke authority as a conjuror. We would build a cycle of invoking the divine and asking for authority, referencing the specifics of the power requested, and repeating, then modifying the cycle to ask for consecration in ways that improve our ability to interact with spirits such as consecrating the mouth and speech, imbuing with sight, preventing spirits from being set against the magician, imbuing the magician with the virtues of previous recipients of divine grace.

If you experiment with developing your own prayer for this purpose or try Scott I'd love to hear about it so come back and comment. And stop by and like us/follow us on Facebook, should have some interesting stuff coming up soon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Magical Aerobics

Recently I taught a class on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. The class got a pretty positive response because a lot of what I went over was outside of what is normally discussed. We talk about things like the four kings, conjuring spirits, animism and the magic circle, and how to use the LRP as a practical ritual in addition to exploring it's more standard use as a mystical exercise.

In the end of the class I refer to the ritual as magical aerobics, a phrase I used to describe a lot of modern ceremonial magic in an episode of Rufus Opus's ROpocalypse.

Off the cuff some people might think that this is kind of a flippant dismissal of the Lesser Pentagram Ritual or of late 19th and early 20th century magic. It isn't. Whenever I use the term it's always in a context of talking about how even for practitioners of more traditional magic there is a utility to the developmental aspects of modern ceremonial magic or the Western Mystery Tradition as filtered through the lens the Golden Dawn and later groups. Outside of my magical life I coach a college fencing team and a youth fencing program. I'm constantly trying to convince them that it's important to keep up with running, weight lifting, and aerobic training outside of their fencing training. I don't really give a shit about getting people to do aerobics for the sake of aerobics, I have no real interest in inspiring people to run for the sake of running. I want my athletes to be successful, and developing themselves is part of that. Same for magicians.

Instructions in some books of conjuration talk about the importance of using daily conjurations outside of ritual to acquaint oneself with the ritual and to keep those magical elements of the day active even when not being used. Traditional magic works have all sorts of preparations and cleansings for the magician. Traditional systems of sorcery have initiations and preparations to empower the magician. The religious systems which inspire traditional grimoire magic use systems of sacraments to prepare and orient participants. Priests and mystics developed systems of spiritual exercises to more fully expose their adherents to the divine forces they believed they needed to experience. We see magicians pointed towards similar spiritual attainments in texts like Liber Juratus and The Sacred Magic of Abramelin.

I don't think all of these elements of magic are quite the same as spiritual or magical aerobics. But when we look at a lot of the exercises included in Golden Dawn magic and later systems, we find little daily rituals like the LBRP, Resh, instructions in pranayama and asana, the meditations given to the grades of the GD, and the rest of the small daily magical exercises that make up modern magic. Almost none of them have a direct practical result that they create, if we define practical magic as magic which creates an effect in the world. By in large these rituals have mystical elements, they open us up to spiritual forces, they change how we see and experience things, but unless they're tweaked they don't do the stuff we would traditionally associate with magic. They get us ready to be more successful at magic by building skills and acquainting us with esoteric forces.

So for those who have only tried traditional magic, there may be some useful things to find in looking at modern magic. Some of the initiations present us with access to things and experiences of things which we can apply when working with spirits. For people who only work with modern magic, that can be all well and good if you want to be a mystic using ritual, but if you want to do magic you need to step out of that box, which after all, was the purpose of the original Golden Dawn system. You went through the initiations, the exercises, and then did alchemy and worked with the handful of grimoires they had access to.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ain't No Holla Back Mystic

Last week for the Feast of the Annunciation Fr. James Martin, SJ, wrote an interesting reflection on having a profound divine experience...and then the facilitator of that experience, in the case of Mary the Archangel Gabriel, ends up leaving. And you have to go back to normal and you have to go back to day to day life. From Fr. James's point of view “and then the angel left,” the words which powerfully but subtly describe the singular nature of the moment which Mary experienced, are the words which are most important for Catholics trying to relate to this passage, or this event in scripture.

And then the angel left.

This describes the fact that moments of peak religious experience end, and then like Mary, you have to go back to dealing with your day to day life.

Fr. James's point about the Annunciation is a pretty interesting one. Especially, perhaps, from the perspective of a magician. We engage in some pretty amazing experiences. We do some epic stuff on a mundane level, like cool rituals or initiations, or traveling to interesting places to discover unusual things, or reading interesting forgotten histories and stories, and various things like that which most other people just don't think about. On a more directly magical level, we experience stuff like visions and revelations, foreknowledge of the future, awareness of things we shouldn't be aware of, conversations with angels, demons and other spirits, and moments where we mold our world to our will, or where we experience the coalescence of the divine. All of these things can pepper our lives with amazement.

But then the angel left.

We go back to school, or work, or taking care of the kids. We vacuum the rug and sweep the floor, make dinner and do the dishes, pay the bills, and find time to make it to bed at night to get just enough sleep to survive. All that other amazing stuff happened but it's just that, it's something that happened, in the past, and it was cool...but, what about the rest of the time?

People often ask “what's it like for the hero of the movie after the movie is over and his life goes back to normal?” In a way, that can be what our lives are like when we do magic. We have our spiritual adventure and then we're back to the grind, knowing that we get to do amazing stuff and be amazing...but just not right now. Right now we get to be humdrum.

That shift can be ok, depending on what our life is like; but it can also be miserable. Because it's fun getting sweet talked by a good looking angel...

Until the point where the angel left.

I think some of what we see online, or even in offline occult communities, is explained in part by this. Sometimes people get into magic because they feel small, but they want to feel epic. Sometimes they get to experience a moment that lets them know that epicness is there...but it's fleeting, or it might even be scary and so pursuing more epic moments might not feel comfortable. It's a lot easier to go online and be a mystical magical bad ass in your spare time, and that way your magical adventure movie is part of daily life.

But there are better ways to avoid that awkward feeling of waiting for the angel to call you back after what you thought was a great time.

Maybe, just don't be humdrum. Maybe you can be epic as a magician, and you can also fill your life with other epic things. Not to brag, but as a financial adviser I have multi-millionaires who ask me what to do with their money, and the bulk of my non-work non-magic time is filled with teaching people to use swords. In conjunction with that last part, this past summer I watched the Olympics, with an Olympian, who has complimented me several times on how well I train people in her sport. To me this seems not quite humdrum. My life has some cool stuff but that said I might not always feel epic, and I might totally hang out in the valleys of mental and emotional experience sometimes, but I keep my life pretty interesting even when I'm not talking to angels and seeking visions of the whirling potentials at the beginning of the cosmos. I think we all have that potential to live our lives in ways that are cool. So staying legendary is one option for diminishing that sense of banality.

The other option is to be a proper mystic. Because...when I had my most vivid experience of an angel, and it made its annunciations to me of those things it had to announce, the angel didn't leave. We have knowledge of one another that allows us to converse as needed. Your angel is there with you. You just have to build the relationship where you can keep in communion with it and where you can learn to rely on its contact and inspiration.

So yeah, in a lot of religious contexts, there are peak experiences and then the rest of life is the doldrums. But not so for adepts. The Sacred Magic is all about the angel showing up and not leaving.

Now, you won't always be in a place where you're grooving on mystical consciousness, but that's fine. There will be times in life where your angel might seem further away because you're in a place where you just can't do whatever it is you're called to do, and you can't do the magic, and you can't look to your angel, because, sometimes life is just like that. It may even feel like you're cut off. But, once you claw out of that place, and you reach out to your angel, and you show you're ready to get back to your work, your angel will be there ready to jump right into it with you.

So even when you're not riding high on spiritual experience, it's not because the angel left. The angel is still there with you, waiting for you to be ready again. To me that's a lot better. I'd rather know my angel is still there for me than know that after he's said his message he's going to bounce, and he may or may not ever be back.

I guess part of this difference is because we're choosing to be mystics, we're choosing to be magicians, we're actively seeking to create a relationship with the angel rather than going about our days until some flash of brilliance appears for a fleeting moment.

With that in mind, the practical piece of this is that we have to do the work to meet our angels. That doesn't mean we all have to dive into the Abramelin working. But being mindful when we engage in our developmental magical exercises how they might engage our angel is a start towards forming that connection.

Find prayers and rituals that connect to your angel. For instance I really like the Anthem from the Gnostic Mass for that purpose. With the Mass in mind, reflect on how the Eucharist connects you to your angel. Dive into that connection as your feel it.

Maybe set an altar for your angel and do devotional work with it. Come up with some prayers to use for the purpose of communion or opening lines of communication. Consecrate a candle or lamp to your angel and light it when you talk with the angel. Get some Abramelin or temple incense, or at the least frankincense, to offer to the angel while you're working at the altar.

There's lots of options short of the retreat. The PGM has several useful prayers that can help with this or be an inspiration towards it. Find what suits you and do it. And when your angel helps you determine it's time for the retreat you'll be all the more prepared.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In A Word? A Witch

“The obiya is a forest power. It is also a sorcerous gift and somehow different from genuine ‘witchcraft’ that is focused on transmission through blood, while obiya is transmitted by through breath and spirit. Hence you can find the ‘witch-blood’ in vessels void of understanding its own blood, as you are born with it, but it is not like this with a sorcerous transmission as you have to receive it. There is great truth in a saying like “A witch is born, a sorcerer is made” and because of this a sorcerer can strictly speaking be ‘unmade’, while a witch cannot really be ‘unborn’ as such.” - Nicolaj de Mattos Frisvold

I've seen a few conversations online lately about more clearly defining what is and what isn't a witch. People seem to finally be done with the silly idea that we can't define a word and that anyone who wants to call themselves a witch can be one. Clearly that's not how words work.

Unfortunately, no one is defining it the way Nicolaj Frisvold is, despite his being the accurate view historically. People are comfortable with the Neo-Pagan point of view popularized in books from the 60's up through today. But we know a lot more about magic now, and we know a lot of what came from the occult revival, and from Gardner, and from the growth of NeoPaganism is incomplete. We know we need to move away from a lot of the practices and ideas popularized in those movements. There's good stuff there that we need to keep, but we need to critically review what's there and let go of what's not tenable. Like the idea that witch is about some sort of feminine empowerment, or worshiping the god and goddess of nature, or drum circles.

People claim we can't look at historical evidence about witches because Inquisitors were mysogynists and medieval people believed things we take as nonsensical. But the wrongheadedness of some people who used the word witch doesn't mean witch had no meaning until we assigned it a new one. People say we can't take historical meanings of the word witch because witches were supernatural monsters, I say you can't be a witch if you're not a supernatural monster. If we don't want what the word meant, worts and all why would you want the word at all? There are so many other things we as modern magicians can call ourselves other than witches, words which are more accurate, so why do we need the word witch?

Witchcraft is only a part of what I do. It's not the main thing I spend my time on. But it's been part of it since the beginning. I accept the word, as one of several that describe me, because when my mom was four years old, she was routinely locked in a closet by a woman who was punishing her for being born a witch. And while she wasn't happy when my dad tried to introduce magic to their relationship early on, because she rejects her magic, both of my parents shared things that helped me develop magically as a child. I dismiss the popular view that says that people want to claim to be born witches because they want to be special. My mom didn't want to be born a witch and doesn't want to be a witch. I personally think my upbringing doesn't make a great “old gramma tale” and is pretty boring, in fact I grew up assuming everyone was taught the same stuff as a kid. Most of my magic comes from hard work and study. And my sister readily admits that she didn't do anything with familial witchcraft, which is a good example of how being born with something doesn't matter if you don't do anything with it. It's like being born left handed, or with natural musical talent, it's one of many traits, that may or may not result in something.

When I got into magic, a lot of the serious, knowledgeable, successful magicians I know were from families that held a belief in witch blood. None of them were people who needed to claim witch blood to legitimize themselves. They were all pretty awesome without it. Most of them only talked about it in private. In fact, that's part of why I'm making this post. Well, for one, yesterday was Halloween. For two, I was having a conversation with a friend and my view on traditional witchcraft came up. I ended up getting a lot more detailed into my point of view and into my own experiences, and those of my friends, than I normally would. I still don't intend to get to detailed about myself or my family or my friends here. But I do want to present in detail my view of what a witch is.

Historically, there are a couple ways to become a witch. There are the fully supernatural varieties, like Circe, where they are semi-divine figures. There are also the fully supernatural ones that we often see in tribal stories where the witch is something of an evil sorcerer but is often described almost as if it is some sort of malevolent fairy or spirit creature. We also see historically ones that are a little more tenable. Witches are often born as witches. Either through some circumstance of the timing of their birth, or coincidental occurrences that make them a witch, or based on some familial element such as birth numbering or simply being born into a family of witches. This idea of being born a witch plays out in folklore with witches being born with unusual or particular physical features.

We also have stories of people encountering a faery or spirit and that faery or spirit offering to serve as a familiar spirit as part of some deal. The spirit performs magic for the witch and teaches them witchcraft. In modern pop culture we see this playing out in The VWitch with Black Phillip.

In stories of conspiratorial witchcraft, or witchcraft involving covens we see a different sort of pact. Witches meet the black man in the forest, who incidentally is very similar to spirits described in some forms of sorcery. Der Teufel is cast as Satan in the witch trial transcripts, but we can find non-Satanic antecedent figures who fit this shadowy spirit who teaches magic, grants power, and binds familiars in various magical and religious systems.

In history though, the witch is a witch because of birth or because of a spirit contract. Not because they just decide they're a witch, or because they dance under the full moon and love the earth.

What do witches do? Well, in Thessaly, they mostly did black magic and necromancy. Again, there seems to be some overlap between the Witch and the sorcerer, but they're also not precisely the same. The witches trace back to figures like Circe and Medea, the semi-divine witches of the silver age and so they seem to avoid some of the problems associated with necromancers, while still being characters treated pretty unsympathetically.

In more positive Mediterranean depictions, and in later folklore and in trial confessions witches seem to also do stuff that looks like folk magic and pretty standard sorcery. They don't sing about reincarnation at drum circles, and reclaim their person-hood with pearl pentacle rituals. Sometimes they do things for the good of the people in the community, sometimes they do things for themselves, sometimes those things are pretty neutral or positive looking, sometimes they're pretty awful looking, like Isobel Gowdie and her friends killing all the children of an unjust land owner. In general it looks like witches in history did what they needed to do, or what they wanted to do without considering anything other than their own view on what they should and shouldn't do.

I think this to me gets to one of the most important parts of the witch. This is one that we see in the character of the witch in stories, and fairy tales, and in my own experience what I've seen of real witches. The witch is more than anything else an example of Otherness. The Other represents an individual or idea that stands outside the cultural norm and is potentially disruptive to that norm. The Other is by its nature transgressive and when approached correctly there is power in that transgressive nature. Alternatively the witch could be described as Queer. In cultural and queer studies otherness is often associated with homosexual figures. In our concept Queer doesn't necessarily mean homosexual, but more so “blurry” or something which is between various potentialities and is able to move between them and inhabit them as they choose to. This ability to choose, to navigate, to inhabit more than one space at once is a key to the witch's power.

This Otherness addresses also the difference in modality between a witch's magic and other systems of magic. Based on what we've touched on so far, witchcraft involves sorcery and folk magic, necromancy, work with fairies and nature spirits, and magic taught to the witch by spirits. There is also an intuitive element. This is actually how I got to discussing witchcraft with my friend the other day, as the place of intuition in learning magic came up. I think it has a higher place in witchcraft than in other systems, where magic is more learned and studied. A witch, by virtue of being a liminal creature by nature can explore the spaces between potentialities within his or her own liminal state, and this gives a certain access to magical awareness, and is likely why being born a witch historically is associated with being born with the Sight. A witch also works magic through connecting with the natural world, not to worship or honor it, but to move and manipulate it through that connection. Similarly bewitching animals and people is based on this connection and internal multiplicity.

The word witch does not come from a word meaning “wise one” but rather a word meaning “to bend.” A witch is a bender. This multiplicity and the ability to self select ones state of being is the operant element of witchcraft outside of what it shares with other systems of magic. The witch joins him or herself to the object they wish to bewitch or shape, and the witch changes so that the thing being spelled also changes. This isn't, in my experience, how most systems of magic work. When I was about 4, and then again at 6, the first couple pieces of magic my father taught me were based on this. He didn't describe it in this way, he simply explained how to lock someone into you (create a connection) by looking at them, and then how to control them based on how you felt inside (bend and bewitch). As a boy I didn't think of this as “magic” or “witchcraft” or anything other than just stuff dad's teach their kids. But as I hit my twenties and began to refine my idea of witchcraft from talking with familial witches, and then studying under one, it became evident that the difference between witchcraft and other systems I was learning was that a witch engaged in activities to, as my teacher called it, “become a good animal” or return to a state of being connected with the natural world, so that they could shape themselves in a way which would result in changes in the world around them.

So in short, in my mind, if you're a witch, you're born a witch. Either because you had witches in your family, or because of some special thing that happens with your birth. This idea isn't even foreign to Neo-Paganism, Gardner had to prove witch blood to join the coven he was in before he started Wica. Sybil Leek's coven worked the same way. The handful of pre-Wica covens out there seemed to include proving a witch ancestor as a standard. If you're not born a witch but wish to be one, you might also become a witch by making a deal with a fairy, tossing a toad skeleton in the river, or going to a tree at a crossroads in the night and making a deal with the Black Man who encounters you there. The last of these seems to be the easiest and most common. Once you become a witch, you consort of the dead, maintain business relationships with underworld gods, talk to nature spirits, fairies, and potentially other sorts of demons on the regular, and do folk magic and sorcery. Most importantly, you become something which isn't what everyone else is, something liminal and queer, and you use that transgression not to empower yourself, but to have power over other things around you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Visible Appearance and Physical Manifestation in Spirit Magic

Recently I was at a pretty cool lecture and the presenter made the comment that perhaps it's time to toss out the idea of evocation to physical appearance because it just isn't real. He suggested it was an example of something in magic where people are either lying or fooling themselves. The thing is, with the exception of Crowley, and Joseph Lisiewski, there aren't many magicians who I've gotten the impression meant to suggest that they conjure spirits to physically manifest as material creatures. Most magicians don't talk about visible appearance often or physical manifestations, but when it comes up and people are open about their experiences it's usually pretty clear that we're talking about sensory experiences and physical occurrences that are signs of the presence of the spirit rather than creatures building bodies out of nothing.

As far as conjuring spirits goes the important part has never been whether or not you conjure to physical appearance but whether or not you get results from your spirit work. If anything that is what I would stress. Visible appearance is so not an issue that when we look at historical magical works we don't see this concept clearly presented as a criteria for judging success, in fact we see crystallomancy frequently presented as a means of interacting with spirits. So yeah, results, not spontaneous generation of physical bodies.

That said, some pretty cool, pretty clear things happen sometimes which indicate the presence of spirits or the reality of their work. I was talking with a friend the other day and he asked about physical stuff with spirits. It seemed useful to him to hear some stories, and I figured talking about stuff that happens and what physical manifestations are might help newer conjurors who are worried about whether or not they're missing out by not having partial legs materialize in their triangles.

So let's tackle evocation to visible appearance first. Spirits making bodies out of incense. This is kind of true, but not in the sense of turning smoke into flesh. Since Poke Runyon a lot of people have interpreted the incense, and the mirrors, and the crystals as a way of tricking the mind and allowing for a psychological projection that we can interpret as a spirit. But, spirits aren't just psychological projections, and the results of real conjure work are more impressive than squinty distorted misapprehensions.

Incense is traditionally burned as an aromatic offering for spirits. There is a traditional view that prayers were carried upward on incense, but intermediary spirits were also once thought to be the means by which this is done. So incense has a traditional connection to the working of spirits. Traveling through the air also being a traditional association of spirits incense connects back to this nature giving substance to the otherwise insubstantial air. It connects to three of the four abodes of spirits, aerial in the smoke released, terrestrial in the material burned, and infernal in the fires which stir the smoke from the body of the incense. As an offering, with its intermediary spiritual nature, incense becomes a material focal point for the spirit which is gifted to the spirit and therefore feeds the spirit adding a material component to the force of its manifest interaction with the physical world. So no, the incense doesn't give a materium from which the spirit can build a physical body, it provides a physical substance the spirit is able to draw on in strengthening its anchor to act in the world. Crystals and mirrors likewise have physical and esoteric properties that allow them to serve as links between the spirit world and the physical world making them, like incense, useful tools in interacting with spirits. But not tools for transubstantiation ala Weird Science.

So what things happen when a spirit shows up? Sometimes the temperature changes. I've been in rituals where it's gotten dramatically warmer typically, but a few where it's gotten cold. Sometimes the incense will shift and start to form a more consistent cloud in one area rather than become diffuse through the room. Sometimes there is a shift in the air, almost like when you see rippling from heat off a black top. I was leading a conjuration once where afterwards I spoke with several people who attended and they noticed the same thing I noticed, a particular part of the room where the spirit showed up during a particular part of the ritual (not near the designated area or when he was called directly) and initially he seemed to give off a sense of criticizing the method we were using until we got to the God names, at which point he moved to the appropriate spot and seemed more attentive. About 5 people all had this same response and discussed it independently, but nothing visible or physical happened on this particular conjuration. I've had stuff turn off or on, fall over, candles produce concerning amounts of fire, things like that. But usually it's mostly just a “Hey, I'm here, what's up...oh, ok finish conjuring me and then we can talk” kind of impression that cues me in to the presence of a spirit rather than the cool physical signs.

Much cooler than those kinds of physical signs are ones that occur as a sign that stuff is going on rather than announcing the presence of the spirit.

A really neat one I had several months back actually had to do with the spirit leaving. We had finished the interaction, there was fire burning as a place for the spirit to be present. When we were wrapping up the interaction I wondered about if it was appropriate to just put out the fire or let it burn out. When the spirit left, the fire immediately went from a decent size fire to sputtering and going out.

A couple months back I was about to get cozy with someone on my couch, reached in my pocket to grab the Venus talisman I carry, and at the time I had just recently done work with Hagith, the Olympic spirit of Venus, and Hagith's seal was still on my altar, with my crystal sphere sitting on it. The sphere sits there every day undisturbed, the planetary disk on which it sits has a ridge to hold it in place. With nothing disturbing the altar when I reached to grab the talisman in my pocket the sphere rolled off the disk, off the altar, and across the floor to the coffee table in front of us.

Years ago, and this one is one of my favorites, I was leading a conjuration of Raphael in his office of Archangel of the Sun, for my local OTO lodge. We were focusing on healing in the community. The ritual left me pretty drained, it was one of my first few Solomonic conjurations and the first one of an archangel. I believe it was my first public one as well. We went to a Pagan coffee house event afterwards. On my way home, in the three miles or so between getting off the highway and driving across town to my house I passed six ambulances. Not only were there six, the number of the sphere of Tifaret, but all six were at homes actively helping people. Usually when I see ambulances while driving they are driving around, but in this case all six were stopped at homes with medical personal deployed into these homes. Clearly not a sign of “physical manifestation” of the spirit during the conjuration, but a neat manifestation of that force within the community surrounding the place where we did the invocation. Also, several people reported their healing intentions having worked out...but, numerologically significant ambulances are WAY cooler.

Last fall I was building an altar for a spirit I was working with who resides in some liminal places. I had gotten most of what I needed but he wanted a walking stick. I couldn't find a good one in the places I went and so I resolved to get it within the next few days. The next morning I was heading to work, got to the end or my street and in the middle of the cross roads was an old black wooden cane which was exactly what I needed.

Sometimes it's pretty physical signs that work is being done to fulfill what you asked for. Another recent incident involved asking the gnomes for money for some stuff and the next morning getting in my car to go to work and finding a $50 bill in the door. Sometimes you do work with a spirit and then find something which is a traditional emblem or offering for them. Sometimes they teach you stuff and then books turn up, or you find stuff you weren't looking for in books you happen to be reading that confirms or further explains what they were showing you.

I'm not someone who goes on a lot about synchronicity. I think if you lead a magical life in the sense of developing yourself and your world to be harmonious and in synch yeah you'll start having a lot of synchronicity because the work you're doing will be harmonious with how your world is moving.

Work with spirits is different.

You'll have stuff happen that is a byproduct of the spiritual presence (like the ambulances), but you'll also have stuff happen that is the direct hand of the spirits showing you they're doing the work you asked for even if it isn't immediately done yet (like with the gnomes).

Personally I think having invisible friends who can make cash appear in my car and throw rocks across a room to high five my efforts to get it on is way cooler than having an Owl wearing a crown of diadems astride a crocodile with ape fur manifest in a ball of smoke.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Of Saints and Sorcerers

Rufus Opus recently posted about people upset over the Roman Catholic Church making Mother Theresa a Saint (honestly we all knew Sainthood was in the works for both her and for John Paul II prior to their deaths), with the assertion that it was ironic that magicians who worship ancestors including relatives who they knew in life to be shitty people, would take issue with the canonization of Mother Theresa.

Honestly, I have no dog in the fight over whether or not Mother Theresa was a Holy woman of good works or a shill for a corrupt mafia like abuse factory. (These seem to be the prevailing extremes of the debate). I like for people to do good in the world, and I like for others to inspire people to do good, but I don't know enough about the realities of the situation, and at this point can't know enough, to form a meaningful opinion on the person of Theresa of Calcutta, and even if I could it wouldn't matter, I don't have a say in whether or not she's a Saint. Not my farm, not my pig. In the end, this is ok, because the person, warts and all, is not what will matter in fifty years, and even less so in a hundred and fifty. The canonization is an institutionalization of the ideal image expressed by the good people perceive, so glorifying here won't serve to glorify the bad things people allege; in the future, hopefully, it will just be an inspiration towards goodness. That said, again, I don't particularly care about the Theresa argument. I care about the sub-argument which Rufus Opus spawned, the debate about ancestor worship versus Sainthood.

In the short discussion I found myself agreeing with someone who, 90 percent of the time I find to be incorrect, and the other ten percent I can usually agree to disagree. Conversely, I disagreed with someone I respect a lot, who I know has experience with both Saints and the Dead. I was surprised in both cases. Some of the views of people who I know are mostly edgy lodge magicians weren't surprising because they don't seem like they'd work with either ancestors or saints. But I was surprised by the distinctions people were making which to me seemed artificial or at least not useful. So it seemed like a good time to put out some more thoughts on chillin' with dead dudes.

One commentator summed up the perceived distinction pretty succinctly. No one is worshiping Mother Theresa as an ancestor, but as a literal Saint.

Well I think there is confusion in what each means.

Ancestor worship in ancient pagan religions has a lot of similarity to Sainthood and I would like to say it's where Sainthood comes from, but we find this same concept in most cultures and religions, so I think it's sort of just a universal thing. Those who are great in the eyes of the people, or the leaders of the people, become venerated as particularly Holy and powerful after death. They get remembered and honored with special occasions and memorials.

Contemporary sorcery and witchcraft work with ancestors in a way that I wouldn't always equate to ancestor worship. It doesn't involve the same kind of honoring, or elevating, it doesn't necessarily have festival like feast days or memorials and temples for an individual great ancestor. It is much more of a working relationship, a partnership, or an alliance.

But still, all of these concepts work together in their basic idea, even if execution and exterior details may change. In the end, in ancestor worship, ancestral magic, and in the cult of the Saints, the basic idea is that someone died, and that dead person now resides in the spirit world. Because they are in the spirit world they have some ability to intercede on our behalf with the spiritual powers and forces that may affect our lives. Because they were once living they have sympathy and understanding for our plight as people and are more willing to help us, and better able to understand our needs than other spirits might be.

It doesn't matter if we're dealing with Saints or ancestors, the basic function is the same. They're an intercessor who helps us because they were on the same team as us at one point.

The fact that the Catholic Church selects a Saint came up as a differentiation. But if we look at ancient paganism, where ancestor worship was a little more evident than in a lot of modern Neo-Paganism, we see the same thing. Leaders of the community selected particular deceased figures as institutionalize ancestors for the whole community to venerate. You still honored your own deceased family, but as a personal and more intimate thing. The community at large had its mighty dead, or great ones, who were selected to be remembered. We do this in modern magical systems too. The EGC adds former OHOs of the OTO to the list of Gnostic Saints, the whole list is in fact a selected list of magical “ancestors” to the philosophical and occult current being channeled. In Afro-Carribean religions we find spirits who are held in common by many lines and houses who are traced to particular legendary figures rather than to particular gods. So again we have magical ancestors who are selected by the community rather than who are natural ancestors to us.

The idea that your ancestors are your own because you have their DNA...well, I like that on one end because it connects to one way in which I explain the concept of witchblood, but it isn't always true. In witchcraft and sorcery you seek out and make connections with particular spirits. Some ancestors may be your blood relatives, some may be other people who were important to you in life but weren't related, others might be important to your work as a magician. They become your magical ancestors when you seek them in the world of the dead and make alliance with them, and when you tend to them and feed them and keep communion with them. They become the spiritual lineage that you pass along. If you are a witch brought into a family, or as I understand it, a sorcerer brought into a house, you take on the ancestors of that practice whether they are your ancestors by birth or not.

So the fact that Saints aren't related to you doesn't change the working parameters. In fact, to me it only makes sense to work with Saints similarly to how one might work with an ancestor. You could, if working in a Catholic context, work with them without seeking them out for an alliance, they are spirits established for that purpose already with modes for approaching and working with them. But you could seek them out and approach them like ancestral spirits as well.

Another distinction that came up is that Catholics suggest that by naming someone as a Saint they have intercessory power that no other spirits have. This isn't true, and is particularly not true in the sort of folk Catholicism that would be most related to Saints in magic. Catholicism frequently recognizes that we pray for the elevation and comfort of the dead in the afterlife, and they likewise pray for our well being on earth. They are intercessors. “Someone up there is looking out for you,” is a reference to this idea. Prayers asking dead parents or grandparents for guidance or the idea that they are up there looking out for you is this same intercessory model that is applied to Saints. Saints are the guys who have easy access to the royal court, and know the people in charge, so they have a little extra pull, but everyone who is deceased and goes to heaven is a saint with a small S, and they all can go pray for their homies here on earth, within the Catholic worldview. So with that in mind, Saints entirely fall within the realm of ancestor worship and ancestral magic. Even if they Catholic worldview did accord them some special status though, that would only matter within the Catholic worldview and wouldn't change that the idea is still basically the same.

So yeah, Saints, ancestors, magic, it all goes together pretty easily.

I don't really care who the Church makes a Saint. It doesn't affect my magic. I do think it's useful for people to see how the cults of the Saints and folk traditions of the Saints can reflect living systems for working with the dead outside of a necromantic context.

I also think it's important to recognize that your ancestors in magic don't have to just be some relatives you know who weren't exceptionally magical, or relatives you didn't know but heard weird stories about. There is a lot of power in connecting with the dead in your own family, but you still have to connect with them and make them your allies in magic. Nothing is stopping you from expanding that garden of ancestors and tending some souls that might be willing to help you, and might have extra power and insight to offer even if they weren't your blood relatives.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Great Work is a Thing Not a Catch Phrase

Amongst contemporary occultists it's pretty common for the words “Great Work” to come up randomly in every day use. It makes sense, The Great Work is a central and important theme in the Western Mystery Tradition. It's also pretty self-affirming. Referring to things we do as “the Great Work” makes it sound epic and important. It makes what we're doing sound like it has validity and meaning.

Unfortunately some of the quotidian use of the term belittles the meaning. Again, that feeling of importance makes people want to use it. We live in a world where we're encouraged to repurpose things to whatever our own personal interpretation of them is. Where we're told that we're special and so everything we do is special. So it doesn't matter what something means, or what it's purpose is all that matters is that we feel good and empowered by it. Right? No. That's bullshit and makes our lives full of weak sauce. As I've said in a bunch of previous posts though, that sort of attitude is kind of at the center of the motivation for a lot of people who claim to be magicians but neither do nor really believe in magic as a real and effective force in the world.

When people say things like “your particular Great Work” and mistake Great Work as a synonym for True Will it reflects not understanding at least one of the concepts. Another common one around magical groups is for senior members to say things like “we really did the Great Work today!” or “You all really contribute to the Great Work!” when they want to thank other members for sweeping the floor or washing glasses. As an officer of an OTO lodge, I will take a second and stress that it's super important for people to sweep the floors and wash dishes, or make food, or do all the other non-glamorous tasks associated with putting on lodge events, but, in most cases, it doesn't really connect to doing the Great Work. It connects to being a helpful participant in a community that provides support and friendship, and sometimes, guidance or inspiration. (In a way...this could bring it back doing the Great Work,but we'll talk about that in a minute.)

The Great Work is the process of perfecting the self through a series of refinements that deconstruct and rebuild the self, but this process only becomes the Great Work when your refinement starts refining and perfecting the world and people around you as well. Alchemy creates medicine in the sense that the result of alchemy improves the alchemist and world around the alchemist. The same way the perfection of the material undergoing the alchemical processes is reflected in the alchemist performing the process he also projects that process into those around him.

The Western Mystery Tradition involves this idea of improving the world through the work of the initiate in several of its various strands. The Kabbalah has the Tikkun Olam, or reparation of the world. The Kabbalist improves his soul so that he is able to find sparks of divinity within the depths of the world and free them through proper application of the observance of the laws of the Torah. The idea is to bring about the Messianic age by bringing the world closer to the state intended at the creation. So again, the Work involves making ourselves better so that we can make the world better.

Even grimoiric magic hints at this idea. We usually think about the grimoires as explaining ways to get spirits to go do stuff for us. But, a handful of sources reference creating redemption for the spirits by allowing them to work with us to do things in line with the divine order. So even in this case, while we're getting things done to help us and improve our lives, we're also reordering occult forces within the universe to reestablish the divine Harmony.

Throughout the Western Mystery Tradition we see this trend of engaging in actions which improve ourselves and the world around us. This is what the Great Work is. It's not just some random words. It's not just a way for us to feel good about what we're doing. It's what gives the work we do importance, the fact that it accomplishes something that has an impact bigger than ourselves. We shouldn't belittle that by taking meaning away from the words that describe this importance.

So sweeping the floors? Maybe it can support the Great Work. If you're doing initiations, or ritual work that helps improve you and the other people around you then you might be doing the Great Work, especially if you and the others involved take the work out into the world and make a difference beyond your group. Sweeping the floors and doing the dishes helps make that possible. So it's still support that's necessary. You're still doing something useful. Unless sweeping the floors is teaching you something or engaged as a transformative experience it's probably not the Great Work. But we do a lot of things that aren't the Great Work. We wake up in the morning, take a piss, shower, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, probably not doing the Great Work with any of that. But if we didn't do those things we couldn't do the Great Work.

When we know what we're doing we can focus on doing it more completely. When we recognize that value isn't just about what we call things but about what they do we can do what we need to do without trying to make it into something more epic than what it is.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Got 99 Problems and Mercury Ain't One

So, my favorite time a year is when Mercury is retrograde, and by favorite, I mean, I hate watching all the posts about people dealing with Mercury being retrograde.

The influences of the planets are based on movements, proximity, and relationships. So while Mercury may appear to go backwards it doesn't really travel backwards, so nothing really changes in its movement. Position is the main thing that comes up in how the planets and stars relate, there are some key movement based elements, but retrograde motion has never struck me as a particularly important one.

But, whether I believe in the impact of retrograde motion or not doesn't necessarily impact whether you do or not. So maybe it's a problem you need to resolve. Or maybe you just need to create a beneficial Mercurial presence in your life.

Currently, Mercury, Jupiter, and the Sun are all in the sign of Virgo. Virgo has a lot of influence right now with such a stellar cast of characters hanging out in her neighborhood. So we can use this to our advantage.

Mercury is exalted in Virgo, meaning that in Virgo Mercury is in its optimum position, it is able to impart its effects without being hampered by contrary astrological effects. Not only is Mercury exalted in Virgo, but double whammy of awesome, Mercury rules Virgo. So even without the exaltation Virgo would be a positive position for Mercury adding to its ability to impart a harmonized Mercurial force. So with Mercury currently in Virgo we have a pretty good position to work from.

But...we're concerned with Mercury having issues because of the retrograde motion.

The Sun is also in Virgo. The sign the Sun is in reflects the outer appearance of things which occur during that time. So the Sun in Virgo will impart the essential elements of Virgo in a balanced visible fashion. Sun in Virgo indicates exacting attention to detail, a grounded nature, and dutiful execution of specific tasks. When taken into the realm of communication this ties back to clear precise communication.

The Sun in general represents aligning, and balancing things, and ordering them to their true purpose. It is the central force which organizes the planets along their rotations. It positions them and therefore is directive of the ordered exposition of their luminescence. So the Sun acting in relation to Mercury works to correct the manifestation of Mercurial force.

Now, we noted Jupiter is also hanging out there in Virgo. We don't need too much focus on the Jupiterian presence here. Jupiter in Virgo, as we discussed recently, diminishes Jupiter's ability to create prosperity. But, when we discussed the Homeric Hymn of Mercury, Mercury was kind of running around like crazy trying to get himself situated (retrograde), he stole Apollo's (Sun) bulls (an animal associated at times with Jupiter) and so Jupiter interceded, and gave position and power to Mercury and set Apollo on instructing and directing Mercury. So the story here, while it reflects Jupiter's detriment in Virgo, it also reflects the situation we're dealing with. Mercury isn't behaving how we want, but a relationship with Jupiter and Sol fixes Mercury's motion. So the current positioning gives us the tools we need.

In classical and medieval magic a common way of dealing with astrological elements was to apply a talisman made under and reflecting favorable astrological conditions. Today we call this “Scholastic Image Magic” in the renaissance and middle ages it was called telesmatics, Persian Image Magic, Arabic Image Magic, or signs were referred to as Hermetic Images and other similar names. Often this is treated as a form of non-addressative magic, meaning it did not involve rituals or spirits. You simply made the talisman under the right astrological influences and the celestial rays present at the time of construction were sealed within the talisman so that it could be applied in situations where people needed those influences, or so that it could draw in or ward off things based upon the image and the celestial rulership.

We do have several examples which show addressative forms of image magic in renaissance, late medieval, and even in some middle eastern texts. In these addressative forms talismans were made under correct conditions and rituals or prayers were included. Our example today can be done either way depending upon your preferred way of working.

The talisman should be made with dual rings encircling it. In the outer ring should be the names associated with the sign of Virgo since that is where everything is occurring. In the inner ring should be the names and seal of the Sun since we want the influence of the Sun to align the planetary force of Mercury. The name for the Mercurial archangel can appear within the talismanic image since that is the focus of the image. We will not include a Jupiterian name because it's not primarily the force we want to be working with, we just kind of want a nod to the Jupiterian presence and it's ability to add beneficence to the direction of Mercury.

The image in the center should be of Mercury as the Messenger; he should hold a bull by the neck, similar to in a Mithraic tauroctony image. Above should be the Sun, below should be the name of the Mercurial archangel.

Virgo names: Hamaliel (Archangel), Ceres (Greek Divinity), Vav Yod, Heh, Heh, (astrological banner)

Solar Names: Raphael (Archangel), Och (Olympic Spirit), Apollo (Greek Divinity), ELVH (Divine Name)

Mercurial Angel: Michael

The seals for Raphael, Michael, and Och can be found in the Magical Calendar.

If we are making the seal without addressing any spiritual powers we simply construct the seal while these planets are still in the sign of Virgo. Sunrise or Noon being the best times of day.

You can add ritual components by consecrating your space and materials through whatever openings, invocations, and purifications you feel are appropriate. Psalms from the Greater Key of Solomon might make sense. Openings from the Chaldean Oracles. A prayer to your Holy Guardian Angel or to the Architect of Creation. Any of these could be used.

If we want to move closer to addressative magic add the appropriate Orphic Hymns. While writing the names for Virgo use a Hymn to Persephone. While doing the Solar ring a Hymn to Apollo or Helios. While doing the inner image a Hymn to Hermes while drawing him and a Hymn to Zeus while drawing the bull.

You could further consecrate the talisman by using a conjuration of the Archangel Michael or the Olympic Spirit Ophiel and explaining the powers you would like imparted into the talisman.

You have a lot of options.

My intention here was more to give a framework than a set ritual to use. If you try making a talisman let me know how it goes in the comments!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Conjuring Prosperity in a Less Prosperous Time

Conjuration of Bariel Contra VirgoFr. RS

The table of practice should be set with a scrying crystal, four candles for the directions, and one for the divine presence. There should be a chalice of wine, a wand, a dagger, and a blank tile of wax or wood. The Seal of Solomon is present, along with a seal for Michael, and for Hameliel. There are also seals for Adnachiel, and Bariel and any seal or talisman for the work intended. There should be water, an incense burner, temple incense, and saffron incense. The magician should have his robe and lamen, and anointing oil.

Prior to entering the ritual space strip naked and bathe.

Anoint your head, lips, and heart in holy oil and say:

There is water in water, there is fire in chrism.”

Put on your robe and pray:

Ancor, Amacor, Amides, Theodonias, Anitor, by the merits of your Angel, Oh Lord, I will put on the Garments of Salvation, that this which I desire I may bring to effect: through You the most holy Adonai, whose kingdom endures for ever and ever. Amen.”

Light the candles on the altar and pray:

Holy art thou Lord of the Universe,
Holy art thou whom Nature Hath not Formed
Holy art thou Vast and Mighty One
Lord of Light and of Darkness”

Then sprinkle the water and trace the downward pointed triangle in each quarter and over yourself while saying: First then the priest of fire must sprinkle the lustral water of the loud resounding sea.

Take up the candle and make the upward triangle followed by a cross in each quarter and over yourself while saying: Then when all the phantoms have vanished you will see that holy and formless fire that darts and flashes in the hidden depths of the universe.

Place the temple incense on the burner.

Raise the chalice of wine

Oh great and blessed N. my Holy Guardian Angel, vouchsafe to descend from your holy mansion which is Celestial, with your holy Influence and Presence, into this cup of ecstasy, that I may behold your glory; and enjoy your society, aid and assistance, both now and for ever hereafter. O you who are higher than the fourth heaven, and who knows the secrets of Elanel. You who rides upon the wings of the winds and is mighty and potent in your Celestial and superlunary motion, descend and be present I pray; and I humbly desire and call upon you. That if ever I have merited your society or if any of my actions and intentions be real and pure & sanctified before you bring your external presence hither, and converse with me your pupil, by and in the name of the great god YHVH, where unto the whole choir of heaven sings continually: O Mappa la man Hallelujah. Amen.

Drink the wine.

Hold up the Seal of Solomon in the left hand, take the dagger and hold it to the seal of Michael.

In the name of Adonai Tzvot, Lord of Hosts, Throne of Thrones, by the seal of God given to Solomon, I call upon the archangel Michael to hear my command. Withhold from this rite, from my work, and from my intentions on this day the forces of Mercury and its influence.

Place the dagger upon the seal of Hameliel.

In the name of Adonai Tzvot, Lord of Hosts, Throne of Thrones, by the seal of God given to Solomon, I call upon the archangel Hameliel to hear my command. Withhold from this rite, from my work, and from my intentions on this day the forces of Virgo and its influence.

Take the dagger and make a cross above both seals.

By the sign of the cross I seal my work this day against the the powers of Mercury and Virgo that they may not diminish or bring detriment to the forces which I shall here and now call upon.

Turn over the seals of Hameliel and Michael.

With the dagger etch the geomantic sign of Acquisitio on the tile.

By Adonai Tzvot, Lord of Hosts, send the Holy Angel Adnachiel that the light of the Archer strengthen and fortify the power of Jupiter.

Uncover the Seal of Bariel and any seals particular to the work being done. Replace the dagger and take up the wand. Place the saffron incense on the burner. Touch the seal of Bariel with the wand and pray:

O Jove much-honored, Jove supremely great,
To you our holy rites we consecrate,
Our prayers and expiations, king divine,
For all things round thy head exalted shine.
The earth is thine, and mountains swelling high,
The sea profound, and all within the sky.
Saturnian king, descending from above,
Magnanimous, commanding, sceptered Jove;
All-parent, principle and end of all,
Whose power almighty, shakes this earthly ball;
Even Nature trembles at thy mighty nod,
Loud-sounding, armed with lightning, thundering God.
Source of abundance, purifying king,
O various-formed from whom all natures spring;
Propitious hear my prayer, give blameless health,
With peace divine, and necessary wealth.

I conjure and confirm upon you, you strong and holy angels, by the names Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Eschercie, Escherei, Eschercie, Hatim, Ya, strong founder of the worlds; Cantine, Jaym, Janic, Anic, Calbot, Sabbac, Berisay, Alnaym; and by the name Adonai, who created fishes and creeping things in the waters, and birds upon the face of the earth, flying towards heaven, in the fifth day; and by the names of the angels serving in the sixth host before Pastor, a holy angel, and a great and powerful prince and by the name of his star, which is Jupiter, and by the name of his seal, and by the name of Adonai, the great God, Creator of all things, and by the name of all the stars, and by their power and virtue, and by all the names aforesaid, I conjure you, Sachiel, a great Angel, who is chief ruler of Thursday, and Bethor, Holy Spirit of the Firmament given to rule the regions of Jupiter, and Adnachiel angel of the Constellation Sagittarius that you will bring forth the manifestation of Bariel, spirit of Jupiter that he might appear in this crystal and serve and labor in all my requests!

Make your requests of Bariel, and ask any questions you have. When you have finished give the license to depart.

Bariel, spirit of Jupiter, under the authority of Sachiel, aided by Adnachiel, who all serve the same Lord I serve, united in this bond, go forth and fulfill our work together and then return to your abode, peacefully, and return to me in friendship when we are called by the Lord to work together again.

Extinguish the candles, let the incense burn out and quit the temple. 

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