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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Season of the Spirits

So over the last two days I posted about Solstice and Equinox rituals using the grimoires as a basis.

You can find those here:

I'm not going to post the ritual I used, but it was basically a series of conjurations of different types of spirits associated with the season based upon traditional correspondences. The information for these correspondences comes from Sefer Raziel HaMalakh, Cephar Razielis, the Heptameron, and Book Two of Agrippa.

You can easily put together a similar ritual yourself. Use the preliminary ritual components and purifications from your preferred grimoire.

Set up the tools, circle, temple space as you normally would with the appropriate conjurations of the incense, flame, circle, and whatever else you would use. Use the appropriate rites for robing up.

Then use the conjuration of the divine as you would do normally.

After this when you get to the point of conjuring the spirit, this is where it changes up a bit. You'll conjure several spirits, and instead of asking them for something you'll just ask for their help in achieving the blessings of the season.

The correspondences below will help you determine which spirits. The order in which you conjure them will kind of be up to you as well. Do you start elementally? Do you start with the zodiacal? Do you go right for the spirits of the season? The winds and direction? What comes first?

Well that depends on your way of doing things.

Personally I started with the zodiac, and conjured the element and planet of the zodiacal sign and then the angel of the sign itself.

Then the Sun, so that the sun is within the sign.

Then the element, the elemental king, the aerial spirits, and the spirits of the parts of the world and of the season itself.

So starting bigger and drawing smaller.

Some people like the opposite. Some people want to feel it unfold. So they start with the manifest components, the season itself, the parts of the world within the season, then elemental rulers, then planetary, then zodiacal.

It's up to you. The power, is unreservedly, held in your hands, to discover how you and your spirits want to work. is some guidance on the spirits.

Name of Season
Gregorian Months
Hebrew Months
The Sun enters Aries
Nisan – Full Moon in Aries
Iyar – Full Moon in Taurus
Sivan – Full Moon in Gemini
The Sun enters Cancer
Tammuz – Full Moon in Cancer
Av – Full Moon in Leo
Elul – Full Moon in Virgo
The Sun enters Libra
Tishrei – Full Moon in Libra
Marchesvan – Full Moon in Scorpio
Kislev – Full Moon in Sagittarius
The Sun enters Capricorn
Tevet – Full Moon in Capricorn
Shevat – Full Moon in Aquarius
Adar – Full Moon in Pisces

Head of the Sign
Name of the Earth
Name of the Sea
Name of the Air
Name of the Underworld
Name of the Sun
Name of the Moon


Angels of the Season
Angels of the Four Directions
Celestial Powers
Jupiter and Venus
Mars and Sol
The Fixed Stars and the Moon
Saturn and Mercury

Season Month Zodiac Sign Angel of the Zodiac Planet Hebrew Month Angel of the Month

March Aries Malchidiel Mars Nisan Oriel
April Taurus Asmodel Venus Iyar Safuel
May Gemini Ambriel Mercury Sivan Amariel

June Cancer Muriel Moon Tammuz Moriel
July Leo Verchiel Sun Av Byny
August Virgo Hamelial Mercury Elul Magnyny

September Libra Zuriel Venus Tishrei Suriel
October Scorpio Barbiel Mars Marchesvan Karbiel
November Sagittarius Adnachiel Jupiter Kislev Adoniel

December Capricorn Hanael Saturn Tevat Anael
January Aquarius Gabiel Saturn Shevat Gabriel
February Pisces Barchiel Jupiter Adar Romiel

Friday, July 29, 2016

Not Flashy but Holy

So, my previous post talked about Solstice and Equinox rituals, the important of a magical religious structure and how that might fit the grimoire tradition or other magical traditions. There are a ton of options for observing these occurrences, this idea is just one of many possibilities. You can view that here:

So...Grimoiric Solstice and Equinox rituals.

The basic idea is observing the movement of the Sun into the Sign that indicates the beginning of the new season. The frame work I used came from the Heptameron. So, the preliminary stuff happens, the angel who rules the hour is called upon, the angel ruling the day, the elemental powers of the season, the powers associated with the sign ruling the season, the angel of the sun, and the angels of the season. Along with the angels we call upon the powers of the earth, air, sea, inferno, and the season itself. An offering is made. Chill time with the spirits is had. Wine is blessed and consumed. All in all about eight angels, two kinds of elementals, and other spiritual forms of parts of nature are all conjured together.

It might seem like it would be busy. People talk about not calling a spirit and being like “ok you stand over there, while I call some others” but this doesn't run like that. There is a definite element of awareness of the Heavenly Majesty throughout and so the coalescence of the spirits really creates a feeling of divine harmony. The spirits are called in a way that is organized based on the state of nature we are reifying into a spiritual presence. So for them there is a natural fit into the harmony we experience.

The first thing which was evident was how smooth and harmonious the invocations felt. Maybe it was because of other work recently, or maybe it was because the spirits wanted to be called this way, whatever the cause, there was a striking feeling of true adoration that overtook me. A lot of times when I conjure it's much more a feeling of drawing power and pulling together authority. Before I started I thought about how the framework I had didn't have as much of that. I kind of wondered “how do I get to groove with God so the spirits will talk with me?” During the invocations I felt an abiding sense of love and engagement where there was no feeling of going through the motions, or rationalizing the Christian components. There was just desire and adoration. It was elevating. It made me realize that as much as I've answered in the past about the ability to adopt a worldview that allows you to accept Christian imagery while using it in conjuration, whereas this was simply the ability to love and embrace the reality of the imagery.

As I went it occurred to me that I was about to conjure a lot of spirits but wasn't going to stop and talk with any or commune with any. Individually. What ended up happening was that as I called upon natural forces, fire, the moon, water, the sign of cancer, the sun, I felt immersed in each. I could feel the joy, and adoration which inspired the Salamanders and Undines as they experienced their love for their creator. I felt bathed in moon light as I prepared to conjure Gavriel to empower the sign of Cancer, the overarching wheel of stars encasing an earth made of harmonized fire and water as I conjured the angels of Cancer, and the glowing light of the sun as Raphael harmonized it. Oriens when called took a particularly elevated place and when asked to bring the the beneficial forces into the world and he reached over and brought the beauty and harmony of the celestial imagery into the material world.

Sitting to commune with the spirits as they received their suffumigation felt like sitting in the heavenly throne room. The candles before me took on a regal beauty and there was a sense of powerful light everywhere. I put on my ring and felt a sense of completion, and a spiritual glow about it as the angels imbued it with the harmony.

The ritual concluded with requesting their blessings on myself and all those around me and drinking a cup which had been blessed by the spirits. It felt good being immersed in the light. It felt peaceful, and happy, bidding farewell to the spirits, feeling them move out into the world to carry that light and unity with them.

So yeah. Not flashy, but Holy. Nothing major, nothing new, but something good. Sometimes that's really all we need from those moments of religion within magic. When we do magic, it should make something happen in the world, theurgy and mysticism should make us better – closer to God or to what we were intended to be, religion should settle and balance us within those forces of the world which we engage in magic. It just needs to be a moment where we get closer to and connect more deeply with the powers that inspire us, and that move the world with us. We shouldn't lose sight on the practicality of magic, but that practicality shouldn't make us overlook those less flashy moments of connection.

That said...part of the idea...was harmonizing the forces of creation at work in the season. So practically speaking it should also help everything flow better.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grimoires and the Cycle of the Year Pt 1

How does time play into our magic? What about space? Aside from conjuring spirits to teach us about magic or about themselves are there ways we should ground ourselves or explore the powers we invoke aside from practical magic? Yes. Yes, there are, or, there should be.

Magic should be part of a lifestyle and to some degree a culture, and a lifestyle and culture which is spiritual should generally involve something religious. Not necessarily belonging to a Church or adopting a religion, but a way to routinely connect with and seat oneself in the context of the LIVING COSMOS OF SPIRITUAL FORCES with which your magic is engaged. Religion is at its core a pattern of rituals. Those rituals mirror the ideas we have about creation, existence, and the end. So for a magician magical religious ritual would be the exploration of these cosmic forces in the light of our understanding of the world.

We see this somewhat in the modern magical religions. Feasts of the times are important for Thelema because they're a way of doing this, and accessing important knowledge and mysteries within that system on multiple levels. Similar magical holidays play into the Golden Dawn, Thelema, Wicca, Druidry, and various other groups from the 19th and 20th centuries. These holidays deal with natural and cosmic movements which reflect the changes in the forces and concepts central to these particular worldviews. For those of us that are magicians, we're dealing with the forces that shape and move the world, so rituals to acknowledge the very visible, physical, movements of those forces are a reasonable way of engaging this same religious benefit. But for those of us not working purely in a modern context do we have a way of doing this? If we simply engage religions like Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, which helped shape the grimoires, we won't address the powers and forces relevant to magic. Can we structure feasts of the times for traditional magic?

This idea sprang forth in full armor from my mind while working on another project. Rufus Opus had challenged me to reconstruct a complete and workable system of grimoiric magic from the mish mash of pieces and references held within the Heptameron. (As it is, you could pick up the book and work it, but it's really presenting several different magical ideas all swirled together). I had already been working a little bit with ideas regarding the angels of the planetary hours, and the very cursory approach to grimoiric timing found in modern magic versus the robust focus on the powers of time in the grimoires. So while working with the Heptameron, and the Raziel texts, and various Solomonic texts, I kept coming back to the INTENSE IMPORTANCE of TIME and SPACE in real magic. We talk in modern magic about “time outside of time, and place outside of space” which is a neat idea, but SPACE-TIME is fucking magical on it's own, and when we begin looking at directionality, the spiritualization of locality and the environment of the moment, the powers of time as they manifest in hours, days, months, and seasons, we begin to see that there is a whole magical way of addressing the reality in which we live, work, and manifest magic, and without connecting with and understanding the magical forces that build and move the context of our existence, we miss out on a huge way of connecting with creation and the power therein.

As I read through more and more of Raziel instructing Adam about the importance of understanding time, and it blended with the ideas of time in magic found in the Heptameron, and it ran up against my remedial explorations of astrology, I began to form a greater picture of what I was looking at. The idea of invoking the components of time and place more clearly than we tend to in modern magic had already begun creeping in for me based on the PGM, but in that context it seems to sometimes be a simple acknowledgment of time and place, what we see in the grimoires particularly those influenced by the Raziel tradition we see something much deeper than just mentioning them.

The grimoires understood every element of time and space in a way which allowed it to be approached as a spirit, or at least, a spiritually imbued part of our interaction with the Creator. Each element of time and direction has a name, it has a spirit, or spirits associated with it. We see pieces here and there in the grimoires referencing these spirits of time but not necessarily integrating them. While looking for this integration the circle in the Heptameron became an inspiration for more deeply engaging these forces directly, it became much more than simply as a map laid out on the floor of the space in which a ritual would be performed.

So while getting excited about all this, and about the magic of time and space, and while mapping out secret names given by the Heptameron and Raziel it occurred to me...ceremonial magicians not engaged in modern magic don't have rituals to observe major moments of time...but we could, and maybe long ago some system from which part of our system is drawn may have had such a thing. And the grimoires map out everything we need. In fact, with the importance of astrological timing in the older forms of magic, and the astrological treatment of the seasons in the grimoires, and the break down of correspondences mapping the seasons, the directions, and through them connecting the celestial, sublunary, and infernal realms made it apparent that marking the seasonal shifts was an easy way to incorporate all the various elements of time, space, and our overall cosmology into a ritual structure of observance.

So, over the last couple months the back of my mind has been playing out how to set up such a ritual, and I decided for the Solstice I would try it. It was pretty awesome. It was subdued, but it was pretty nifty. There were moments of being bathed within the various forces that make up the shift into the season of summer and define its nature. A lot of beautiful imagery conveyed by the spirits. Quiet moments to chill in their presence and to drink in their blessings and power.

The ritual was pretty nifty, and I definitely noticed beneficial currents in my life following its performance. Tomorrow we'll go into more about the ritual and the experience.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Gandalf, Dumbledore, and True Will

First, I am not a fan of people who can't delineate between fiction, fantasy and the real world. Naming magical orders, and schools and temples and stuff after fictional characters and groups and places does not tend to help me take a group seriously, and in general it won't help most people take you seriously.

That said, fiction and mythology can be amazing for illustrating ideas and for providing inspiration. That's a large part of why we develop and tell stories, to convey ideas and knowledge, and to provide icons to help teach us things and demonstrate stuff to us. Stories can be a great jumping off point for discussing concepts which may be useful, and sometimes they can elucidate them more clearly than we could on our own. I'm totally on board with using our modern cultural stories as teaching tools and I intend to use them as a jumping off point here.

Merlin. Merlin is like the archetypal magician of western culture. But in a lot of versions of the Arthur legend we don't see Merlin do a ton of magic, at least not recognizable big flashy magic. When the legend is redone for TV or for children's books we see him do a lot more, but a lot of the time he's wise. He sets up situations. He has a plan. One of the most powerful things he does is to sit back and watch, he observes so he can play the long game.

While I am familiar with Gandalf and Dumbledore from their film adaptations I think I still have some idea about how their characters work. They both seem to be cut from the same cloth as Merlin.

Gandalf does a lot less magic than I would expect. He seems to be connected to just about everyone and everything in Middle Earth. He has a ton of influence and has set up people everywhere who are assets able to help him affect the steps and pieces needed towards achieving his goal. He, like Odin after whom he is modeled, understands the coming destruction and he travels throughout the world gathering all the knowledge he can for centuries so that he can understand how things flow together, interconnect, and unfold, so that he can position the smallest, most insignificant seeming people exactly where he needs them to achieve the one goal which over all else directs his life.

Dumbledore is again similar. He does a little more flashy magic, and his character is not completely a manifestation of a particular goal, but he's also written for a modern book series for children. Despite that, Dumbledore sets a plan into motion, well before Harry Potter's birth, before the details of Tom Riddle's plans are revealed, for him to ultimately stop Riddle using people who aren't even around yet. He sets up intricate scenarios allowing characters to think they are doing things on their own, allowing enemies to think they are making in roads, all to put people together to give them the tools and knowledge they will need to solve the problems he knows they will encounter, or to gain information on, or to weaken, or give false security to the enemy. He goes so far as to plan his own death, and to create a scenario of infiltration of his strong hold to create the situations and environment needed to accomplish his goal. While we know a little bit about his life before the war with the Dark Lord, the bulk of what we see is his life devoted to accomplishing a singular purpose, and him observing and coordinating the world around him towards that purpose.

In a sense, each of these magicians embodies the True Will. Not in that they have a single moment they must achieve, but in that they have a singular purpose which guides them and everything they do is in support of this. For real people, this isn't so much that we need to destroy a ring, or crown a king, or defeat an enemy, we have to live in a certain way which allows us to actualize who we are, find the work which is suited to us, and be successful in accomplishing that work. Like these iconic wizards we have a single pointed duty. Our duty is to understand and accomplish whatever our True Will is. Everything we do ultimately sweeps into the current of that work. The more we align our actions, our understandings, our environments, our influence over the world to whatever that Will is, the more successful and powerful we become in accomplishing this duty.

The magicians in our story don't accomplish their Wills through flashy shows of power. They use them when necessary, when they support what they are doing. In fact, every action they engage in, every word they say, seems to carry some inexplicable power with it because it is drawing the world around them into the gravity of their current of action and force. They are stars aligning the cosmos around them in support of their own trajectories, but in a way which benefits the overall cosmos.

A big part of the power that defines these wizards beyond their ability to orchestrate the world, is their ability to observe and comprehend it. They wait, for years, or in some cases centuries, taking the world into themselves by knowing each piece of it until they comprehend every force, whether that force is manifest as a person, a place, an object, or an idea. As they comprehend the whole of the world they understand its patterns, they understand what people will do, when things will happen, and how every small movement will affect the things around them. While I'm often of the position that magic involves manipulating the underlying forces of nature to bring about changes, that it isn't just any action we do that serves our Will, there is definitely a magical element to understanding all the small factors involved in a situation and positioning the pieces so they fall together like a beautiful pattern of dominoes. There is a magic to understanding and navigating interconnectivity.

This is a big part of magical initiation.

We don't always look at this piece of it but it's there as a huge piece of what we should be doing as we develop ourselves.

In the A.'.A.'. system, and the Golden Dawn system, people move through grades accorded to the elements and the sefirot. These grades can be accorded to the four kabbalistic worlds and to the kabbalistic parts of the soul. In these grades we learn various skills, and we develop tools, we pick up pieces of occult knowledge. The real beauty of it though is that these skills, and practices, the process of developing tools, learning correspondences, and then understanding how these all fit together, why they all fall within they same grade, these begin to paint a picture of a particular worldview, or perspective, a way of viewing how everything fits within the light of that particular elemental world. We begin to deconstruct and reconstruct the world in new ways with each grade, expanding our field of vision, our apprehension of the interactions and natures of things. We change the eyes with which we see the world and complete our capacity for knowing and understanding the further and further we go.

A lot of people don't get this piece of the work. It's part of it that you can really only get by fully engaging it. But it's incredibly important. You expand the way in which you understand yourself, and the way in which you understand the world, and how you and the world interconnect. This allows you to know yourself and what your Will is and how to begin to unfold it in the world. The more you practice techniques of deepening your awareness, your ability to be attentive and analyze, and the more you understand the elemental components of the people, places, and things within your life, the more power you will have to both understand and influence the world around you. The more ability you'll have to do magic.

A magician who understands the world understands the forces he needs to apply to change the world, whether it is positioning a person, or speaking a word, or conjuring a spirit. Part of our work is to seek out knowledge from the spirits, and from the powers of the natural world, but the more expansive our awareness and understanding is the more we can ground this knowledge, the more we can understand this knowledge, and the more we can use this knowledge. If we better understand the way in which things interact, we can understand the cause of a problem, we can understand the solution, and we can point the right thing at it to get stuff done.

One of the cool things about what we do is running around gathering knowledge. The Ars Notoria is cool because the prayers present a ton of interesting effects, powers, and knowledge that seem like they would be useful for the magician wandering around doing his work. The Veritable Key of Solomon presents so many more methods and effects than one thinks of when we think Solomonic, in doing so it presents a pretty full picture of skills and powers a magician might gather. Going through books of spirits presents spirits that can teach us a ton of things and do a ton of things for us. We have a lot of sources to gather knowledge and powers. Part of being a capable magician, part of embodying the presence of a bad ass wizard, is going around and increasing our understanding in tandem with increasing our grasp of knowledge and power.

So go out and engage your world, know yourself, and make shit happen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Legal Relief from the Highest of Thrones

About a year ago I posted about using Merkavah techniques of angel magic from the early part of the first millennium to solve a misunderstanding with a creditor, something which is relevant for a ton of people today.

Another thing that comes up frequently for people today is dealing with legal issues. So I figured now that the issue that caused me to use this method is well in the past, I would share it.

A few months prior to the creditor post I had run into some ridiculous moving violation nonsense. My attorney pointed out that the charges weren't even the correct charges and most of what the officer said in the instance wasn't correct. I had evidence with me when I was pulled over that the issue was resolved but the officer ignored it. Basically, I fell into a convergence of multiple administrative tangles that swelled up into a series of costly charges and penalties.

At first my attorney was confident that I had been wronged; he discounted my legal fees because of it and assured me how easy it was all going to be. Then a few months passed and we didn't meet again until a few weeks before the court date. At this new meeting he explained that he was handing me off to his partner, who was way less impressive. He needed new copies of some of my documentation, and the two of them started confusing and forgetting the various elements of the incident. They assured me that they knew everyone in the local legal system and would get everything dismissed...unless it was this one judge, but they hoped it wouldn't be her. All in all they felt like they were going to bungle it and I got nervous.

So...the obvious solution, was magic. Angel magic.

The Sefer HaRazim has a few pieces that describe dealing with magistrates and officials. I decided to work with the angels of silence who reside in the second heaven. They are said to exonerate you by commanding the silence of anyone who would speak against you.

HaRazim requires significant purification to approach the angels. You have to avoid all causes of impurity for three weeks. In a previous blog post I recommended this alternative:

Once you're clean enough for angels to not mistake you for a drop of semen, (the Hekhalot texts suggest that the angels like to refer to humans that way) you have to steal bread that was offered at an altar to an idol.

This is kind of a tough one. We don't live in a world with idols all over the place. If you happen to have a friend with idols he probably won't like you stealing offerings he has made to his gods. If you yourself are Pagan or work with spirits, your gods or spirits may not like you stealing offerings to give to angels. The idea has a sort of antinomian vibe when you consider that it was written in a time where memories of Pagan dominant cultures probably still influenced the work. The angels are subduing something that would otherwise be dominant over you, and so you subvert another possible force of domination. But to do this, you have to violate some boundaries. My solution was to offer a Mass to my Holy Guardian Angel and then take back the remaining host to use for the angels. This way I had bread offered up to some divine force, without having to insult that divine force.

Once you have the bread you say over it the names of the angels in reverse order seven times.

These angels are from the first step of the second heaven, they are angels who “stand in terror, cloaked in wrath, girded with dread, surrounded by trembling, their raiment like an image of fire, their faces like the appearance of lightning, and their mouths never cease to utter mighty words. Nevertheless, their voice is not heard, for their task is to silence, to frighten, and to terrify anyone who opposes the man who calls on them in purity.”

These angels are:


Once you've said the names of the angels say this:

“I ask from you, angels of silence, that in this place, you silence every mouth and every heart of the children of Adam and Eve who arise against me to say anything evil. Let their mouths utter good things about me and let me be exonerated in my lawsuit, do not permit any mouth to speak evil about me.”

Then sprinkle the ashes in a relevant place. I sprinkled them on steps outside the courthouse on my way in.

I went in, was there for about 45 minutes, and then was told I could go because the prosecutor decided not to prosecute my case.

So again, simple run down:
  1. Purify yourself
  2. Steal some idolatrous bread
  3. Burn the bread to ash
  4. Say the names of the angels from the first step of the second heaven in reverse order seven times
  5. Say the incantation
  6. Spread the ash in a relevant place (court house, city center)
  7. Be awesome as the angels exonerate you through their power to silence your accusers

Good luck!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Angels of Emergency Response: The Reality of Magical Solutions

Sometimes when life throws crazy shit at us we don't think to use magic. For prolonged problems, sure, people will turn to magic. But I've also seen people so entrenched in their problem that they don't consider magic until things get way out of hand. People seem even less likely to turn to magic when something sudden and awful happens. You worry, you get scared you think of more effective, real world grounded solutions. But as you become more engaged in magic magic should become an effective, real world, grounded solution.

Like anything we encounter, it will depend on the specific situation. If someone is trying to harm you standing your ground and "shielding" is probably not a good option (if one assumes shielding even has any reality to it). But if you're hiding from someone maybe calling spirits to misdirect them or make you "invisible" is a reasonable way to bolster your efforts to hide. Calling on a martial spirit as you begin to investigate car troubles might make sense. Bewitching an abuser mid-abuse may require a presence of mind the would be too difficult in such a moment. Reality. Magic is real, and like all other tools our use of it should be based on the reality of our capabilities and the reality of the situation.

Skipping magic as a solution because it doesn't feel real, or using magic in an untenable situation because of fantasy ideas or just because you like the good feels are similarly problematic. Both undercut your ability to function as a magician.

These thoughts came up regarding a recent situation that popped up for me.

Two weeks ago I was at work and got a call from my sister. At first I ignored it, I mean who takes calls from their baby sister when they can be planning huge financial movements for clients (or just chatting with work bros about NSFW stuff, that is way more likely). But then I realized my sister doesn't usually call, so it could be an emergency. Sure enough I checked my phone to find a text message "Mom cut her fingers on the electric hedgetrimmers, I'm taking her to the emergency room." I quickly called my sister for more info but she didn't know anymore.

My mother is already pretty dependent on me and has a handful of problems we're already managing. The potential loss of a finger, infection, keeping the finger but with nerve damage or loss of the finger tip, the emotional toll, all of these things swirl in my head, along with thoughts of medical costs and the near impossible task of trying to keep my mom from compounding her injury with house work. So while at my desk at work, I let out a sigh, drew the seal of the Sun from the Heptameron, and wrote Raphael in Hebrew on the back of my business card then conjured Raphael.

About and hour and a half later my sister was at my office with my mom, they were on their way to get an antibiotic. It should have taken my sister about twenty minutes to get to my mom, twenty minutes to the doctor and thirty to me, so she got seen pretty much right away and was treated fast. Ended up not needing an emergency room. Doctor said she was lucky she didn't lose the final digits on her index and middle fingers, she also managed to avoid nerve damage and avoided cutting the tendons. They gave her a shot, prescribed and antibiotic and she was on her way. By the end of the day she could move her fingers again and she had the feeling back in her fingers but without much pain. Two weeks out she's basically better, since she normally heals slowly, and since she grabbed the blades as the trimmer turned on, all in all her lack of injury and swift recovery is pretty impressive. I was fearing major medical bills and on going treatment and problems, but in the end all it cost me $50 for an antibiotic and a sprinkling of red sandal and Abramelin incense that I burned in thanks to Raphael.

Maybe Raphael had no impact and  she would have been fine either way, but we can never know what would have been if we didn't do something. Either way I'm glad, both for my mother's well being and for my own lack of stress that my first thought was "Ok, well I know an angel I can ask for help."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The License to Depart

  As a child I first learned little tidbits of magic here and there, and then, when I began to more “formally” study magic from books and eventually teachers I started with Neo-Pagan magic. A lot of Neo-Pagan magic is based in Ceremonial Magic, particularly of the modern Golden Dawn based variety. Bits and pieces of the grimoire traditions pop in without necessarily connecting back to their original purpose or explaining what they were for.

My first exposure to the idea of a license to depart was in the first Neo-Pagan magic book I read. It focused on the idea of invoking deities, and by invoking it intended something along the lines of assuming god-forms or calling divine energies into yourself and channeling them to your desired goal. It made a big deal of dismissing the energy afterward so that you didn't get overtaken by it. The Golden Dawn would have described this as developing an impure magnetism, the Catholic church would likely link this to the idea of Obsession. Essentially a person being overtaken by the influence of a spiritual force, drawn into its current to the point of an unhealthy imbalance, but not specifically possessed by it. Personally as a child, around the age of 12 or 13 I got to experience this imbalance by way of forgetting this step. This idea isn't a bad one for that type of magic. Disconnecting from a force you're working with in a non-initiatic context is healthy. Opening yourself up to immersion into any random force without reason is probably not so healthy.

But, this isn't exactly what the license to depart is about.

When we get into Modern Ceremonial Magic we start to see a focus on banishing spirits. Now for some people these spirits aren't spirits but are parts of their psyches they are externalizing in order to integrate. So while I don't believe in that world view, I would question the logic of banishing. If you're going to reify a piece of your mind into an external manifestation with which to interact so you can take an uncontrolled potentially chaotic or problematic part of yourself and make it into a controlled and beneficial piece of your consciousness it would not make sense to then banish that piece of your consciousness.

So what if we're looking at spirits as spirits? The license to depart still seems to take the form of a banishment. I attended a ritual sometime a few months ago where the magician giving the license to depart gave this aggressive, nasally, sonorous, angry and condescending to the point of hateful sounding license to depart. He was dealing with an angel. In general this reflects the belief common in modern magic that the magician must command the spirits by virtue of intense and stern authority. The magician is an “exorcist” and so he has to command the spirits like an “exorcist” would in terms of a Catholic priest exorcising a malignant spirit...regardless of the nature of the spirit in question.

In regards to angels, generally the communication between the spirit and the magician in historical manuscripts is pretty chill. It's not a power or dominance struggle. If we go back to the oldest texts of angel magic they serve the magician because God is the arbiter of magic and he tells the angels to help mankind (Yuval Harari's Intro to the Sword of Moses explains this). In the Sworn Book of Honorius the magician and the angels recognize that they share a love for God. By later medieval magic the magician just asks God to send an angel and the angel and the magician work together because they serve the Lord together. It's never about the magician being the dominant bad ass.

I think some of the confusion which comes up is because magicians engaged in Modern Ceremonial Magic are primarily influenced either directly or indirectly by the Mathers version of the Greater Key of Solomon and by the Goetia of Solomon as published by Mathers/Crowley. In those the spirits, regardless of which spirits, are conjured with curses and threats and angry biblical references. So it colors the impression of what magicians working with spirits looks like. While some of the older grimoires approach the spirits this way, it doesn't always show up this way in earlier texts. In the Testament of Solomon, one of the oldest Solomonic texts, the demons are conjured by way of thwarting angels, divine grace, and a magic ring rather than by angry threats of damnation. In the Heptameron there is a brief reference to depriving spirits of their places and binding them to the inferno but most of the conjuration is based on the authority of divine names and symbols.

While demons are still infernal in older texts of demoniac magic they still work within a particular structure of hierarchy which doesn't require cursing and torment as its primary means of work. We see this more in later texts.

That being said even as we get to later texts, the license to depart doesn't get to be this extreme cursing of the spirit into submission, nor is it an actual banishment, it is a release.

So let's look at a few.

The Sworn Book of Honorius does not seem to license the spirits to depart. But it works with angels, aerial spirits, and terrestrial spirits rather than infernal ones.

Another older text, the Heptameron gives this license to depart:

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, go in peace unto your places; peace be between us and you; be ye ready to come when you are called.”

No cursing, no terrifying language, no banishment, no hatred and condescension. Their are wishes for peace between the magician and the spirit and a request for future readiness for service.

The Greater Key as presented by Mathers, despite some of the aggressive conjurations, gives a similar license to depart:

“In the name of ADONAI, the eternal and everlasting one, let each of you return unto his place; be there peace between us and you, and be ye ready to come when ye are called. ”

Almost identical.

The Veritable Key of Solomon gives this as a license to depart for the Olympic spirits:

“Faithful minister, go in peace in the Name of the Great God, your Master, who has sent you to be sympathetic towards me”

This one in particular seems to suggest a sort of friendship between the magician and the spirit.

The Goetia of Solomon gets more wordy:

“O Thou spirit N. Because thou hast very dilligently answered my demands and was ready and willing to come at my first call I doe hear licence thee to depart unto thy proper place without doeing any Injury or danger to any man or beast depart I say and be ever reddy to come at my call being duly Exorcised and conjured by ye sacred rites of Magicke. I charge thee to withdraw peacebly and quiet1y, and the peace of God be ever continued between me and the [thee]. Amen.”

There is still no intense sense of dominance, but the adjurations not to do harmful or dangerous things give it a different feel. There is a little more feeling of banishing with “depart I say” and there is less of a “hey lets work together” in noting that the spirit should be ready when “exorcised and conjured.”

Over all, the license to depart is typically not a banishing so much as a commitment to peace, a release to return to ones own abode, and an acknowledgment of future work. The license to depart is largely about a relationship between the magician and the spirit. The license to depart is an important part of the magical work between the spirit and the magician. When the magician licenses the spirit to depart, if it has work to do for the magician beyond that immediately performed during the conjuration (such as answering questions or consecrating a talisman) the spirit has to go do that work now. So if you banish the spirit you're not sending it to do the work you're kicking it out of your sphere. You're taking away the locus you are lending to it to aid in its ability to operate in the world. If you release it to return to its work and its natural place REMAINING IN A STATE OF PEACE WITH YOU then it is still in the state of cooperation achieved in the ritual and therefore is still able to operate in its appointed task within its region of influence.

The license to depart is reflective of the relationship between the magician and the spirit. John King, who I am not typically on board with, expresses a view that this promise of peace and cooperation is a means of redemption for the spirit. The magician and the spirit swear a bond of peace, which implies that at the final judgment the magician will be at peace with the spirit and not stand in condemnation thereof, but rather speak for its redemption. The editors of the Book of Oberon suggest a similar view in the introduction: “The BoO also gives another reason: that the spirits hope to redeem their fallen state by doing good deeds for mortals.” Certain parts of the work of Eliphas Levi reflect this view, and my own work with elements of alchemy, Kabbalah, the grimoires, and the Sacred Magic suggest this, but this is something for which I would rather devote a future blog post.

All in all, the license to depart presents an important moment in spirit work from a magical perspective regarding the relationship with the spirit. Do you want a relationship in which you are the evolved magician shining with NeoPlatonic virtue, reflecting the light of the Creator, and inspiring the spirits to work with you, or do you want to be the cobbler pulling together charms and curses and yelling at spirits on the basis that they might easily be fooled into fearing you and temporarily tow a strained line of obedience?

Whichever you choose your license to depart should express that character. It shouldn't be a show, but rather an inward feeling swelling up and channeled out in your words, posture, actions, thoughts and feelings as you speak to the spirit. If you are a friend, a servant of the same lord, and they serve you because of this, you should embody that presence and communicate that. If you are the stern task master who wields the scourge of divine power against celestial and infernal alike you should embody that and communicate that. But you have to understand which you are, what you're doing, and why in order to do either with true success.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Catharsis, Synchronicity, and Eternity

This will seem to jump around, but it comes together...

Yesterday I had the opportunity for a nap. I try to take them when I can because I don't sleep much. Even now, I should be sleeping, I have to be up in four hours. But naps don't come often as I keep rather busy.

When we don't sleep it takes a toll on us, we don't allow the opportunity to regenerate from the damage we do daily. We don't have time for our minds to unravel the information they process. We don't have those occasional natural moments of touching the limitless.

Those of us who don't sleep often don't take time to take care of ourselves in other ways. We don't address our health, physically and mentally. We don't prioritize our own existences or problems because there is always something else. Other people's problems, other people's needs, our responsibilities and duties to the world around us all of these are vast and looming and more important than ourselves. Or at least, many of us feel that way.

So the occasional stolen time for a nap can be a treasure, even though the loss of time for other needs feels vexing. Today though my nap did not get the opportunity to vex me.

When I lost my father I spent a lot of time focusing on making sure things were good for my family. I did not take much time to process things for myself or to rest within the experience of my own situation. This led to a few problems which swelled dramatically about a year later. Much of that year involved bad stuff happening so eventually I got to a pretty difficult place mentally. There are a lot of things in my life which go back on some level to trying to straighten out stuff from the point I got to at what seemed to be a low point.

All in all though I have things pretty together and am very successful in a lot of ways. But there is still stuff that hangs out there. One of the things that has been helpful is magic. At my dad's funeral several people noted how my take on death reflected a comforting view about the continuity of things through transition. This is because rather than just accepting stories or philosophical speculations and allowing them to comfort me I get the pleasure of experiencing an array of things, in terms of initiations, spiritual journeys, and interactions with Gods and spirits that inform my view in a direct and perceptible way. So there is not wondering, fearing, and hoping so much as "yeah, that place isn't easy to get to but I know it's there, and I've talked with the management."

Soon after my dad passed I found that dreams were an easy way to talk with him. Some dreams are just processing thoughts and memories and those are fine. But growing up I often had dreams that dealt with reality in a more engaged way. My parents were aware of this and helped me with it. Understanding the difference in a dream, and a DREAM, was something that was important early on. So, when my dad shows up in a dream, I can usually tell pretty easily when it's my dad versus when it's a memory.

Sometimes he comes to tell me things to reassure me, or to remind me about stuff for my family or to help me understand a problem or think about something differently. Sometimes it's just a visit. These days it's not too often, but I don't need it as often now.

About a year after he passed I did a pretty elaborate very Classical necromantic ritual to achieve katabasis and go into Hades to talk to him and some other dead folks. We chatted, he urged me not to do it again because it wasn't the safest way, and to just meet him in dreams. He explained that a part of dreaming occurs in your mind, but that there is a part that enters an in-between space, a place that connects your mind to the soul of the world, and that that in between space, being neither here nor there can allow communication between different places. Liminality, it rocks.

The tough part about communication in that space though is also based on its liminality. There is no time. There isn't a clear presence of mind. There isn't a grounding in space. So things are pretty disjointed. In the experience there are often moments of "shit what are we doing, you're dead how are we out shopping?" "Well, I'm dead there but here isn't entirely there so I'm not quite dead here." It's never straightforward. It's always this answer about blended time and space and atemporality making chronological events like dying less relevant. A regular dream answer would probably be something like "No I'm not, silly, hey look, the dinosaurs are painting a mural."

Today's dream was different. It was basically a set up to unpack that confusion and the emotions tied to it. We hung out and then I had this freak out moment. "Dad, you were dead before, now you're not. But when I go back to that time you'll be dead again, but not in this other time. So you can't help me with these things that we're planning. Because I'll be back in that time where you're already dead. This happens a lot where you're dead but not dead, I don't know what to do about that." An interesting element of this is that in the dream instead of a vague sense of the familiar or of memories, in these dreams I have very specific coherent memories and thoughts irrespective of the disjointed space of the dream.

So he walked me to a door, because we were suddenly on the porch of the house I was a child in. He takes me there a lot. I went in without him. And I found my mom there. My mom is still alive. She was laying on a couch on which she used to sleep. I saw her and thought how much I needed support from someone who was there in the world and asked for a hug and then broke down. After this the dream took this turn where my dad, pretending to be someone else, talked with me about my life and my feelings and going back into my childhood addressed issues and feelings I have and tied them to my current experience. He basically gave me this really thorough therapy session.

When I woke up I felt pretty good. Kind of like after a really good work out where your muscles have that weird state of energized exhaustion, or like after doing an extended pranayama session where you've purged out so much. Like everything tensed and released. So I laid there for awhile, trying to get a little more normal rest and also just enjoying feeling safe and comforted.

I did wonder though why this kind of happened out of the blue. I wasn't dealing with anything to draw up these issues. I hadn't done any recent libations or ancestor work. Hadn't reached out for help. I've been doing more work at making my sphere more holistic and right. Aligning forces properly and thinking about ways to straighten out impediments that I place in my way. I guess this was a way for my spirits to help me with those impediments.

It was odd timing though. Later in the day scrolling through Facebook I saw that it had been the anniversary of the death of the father of a friend. She wrote a beautiful post about her dad's spirit leaving feathers and coins to let her know she wasn't alone, and about very specific findings that showed up when she'd ask for a sign from him. It was really beautiful and it was great seeing someone able to find that kind of connection and assurance.

Then just before bed, I saw an acquaintance posting in memory of another acquaintance, who had passed away earlier that evening. I knew he had been sick, but I hadn't seen him in a month or two and had thought he was doing better. Not being Facebook friends with him or his family I hadn't initially seen any posts and couldn't post condolences. But it still gave me pause because despite only being acquaintances he was such an amazingly nice guy that thinking of him felt like thinking of a friend. He would always greet me with so much friendliness and happiness when I would see him. He always spoke to me about people as if I knew everyone in his life because he always spoke as if we were people who were old friends. I think he was probably like that with most people because he was just such a wonderfully friendly person. I remember the first time I met him, at a fencing tournament. I lost to him in a round I very much wanted to win, it was a bout I should have won. But despite that being the situation of our first encounter I still feel like I have nothing but positive memories of him. One of the last times I saw him, he drove hours to my club for a tournament on the wrong day. He was sick from the illness that I imagine caused his death. I apologized for the confusion and he was still happy and friendly, he fenced with my student, and then hung out and chatted for a bit, and didn't complain at all.

So in sitting there remembering him I asked myself, what do you do for someone who isn't here? The answer is easy. Pause and think about them, wish them well, pray for them. Take a second and reach out to that piece of them that is infinite and tell it you hope for the best and feel happiness for it. Wish peace upon it, and for it to achieve whatever end is right.

This was probably easier to do and to take in having gotten to unpack some of my own death related issues earlier in the day.

At the end of it all, I remembered that this guy has a daughter. I don't think I ever met her. He was super proud of her and always talked about what was going on with her. She is sadly pretty young to be experiencing the loss of her father. Thinking about that, about the loss others experience is one of the worst parts about death. I hope she is able to find some connection that brings her comfort. I hope  everyone who reads this is blessed with such connections when they experience loss. So as much as we pray for those from whom the veil of life has fallen, we should pray more for those who are still engaged in the dance of the veil of life...and hope that the veil between the two allows for whatever connection and closure they both need.