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Friday, November 23, 2018

Wolfenoot is Here! Some reflections on the spirit of the Great Wolf

          So before I get into today’s post, I have to note that it’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog post. I appreciate that you’re still here reading. I have been busy working on a book, Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits, it will be out soon so I hope you’ll follow us on Facebook so you’ll get all the updates and announcements about it.

          With that out of the way…Wolfenoot. I would say that if you’re unaware of Wolfenoot you’ve probably not been on social media in the last six months, but yesterday was apparently when Rufus Opus first discovered it, after seeing me comment on the lack of Wolfenoot cakes at the grocery store. So in case you have not heard the story of Wolfenoot…

A little boy in New Zealand explained to his parents that November 23rd was the anniversary of the Great Wolf’s death, and to commemorate it there is a holiday celebrated then, Wolfenoot. On Wolfenoot the spirit of the wolf goes around and leaves presents for everyone. People who are kind to dogs or who keep dogs get better presents. You eat roast meat, and cakes decorated like the full moon to celebrate.

          Pretty simple, and yet, pretty awesome. You might wonder why I’m writing a blog post about it…but if you’ve followed Glory of the Stars on Facebook you’ll have noted that we’ve shared quite a few Wolfenoot oriented posts. I’m pretty excited about the idea. New holidays are cool…a calendar full of holidays is also cool and is in keeping with more traditional Pagan experiences. The holiday originating with a child is pretty cool, and the fact that his parents put it out into the world to see how far his idea would spread is amazing. The huge positive response and massive number of people ready to adopt the holiday is also pretty nifty. So it’s got a certain coolness factor.

          Beyond the coolness factor though it’s pretty germane to stuff we talk about here. The holiday celebrates wolves and dogs, but in particular the spirit of the wolf, who sounds like some sort of animal guardian spirit, is a central figure. So you basically have a holiday for a nature spirit. It’s even possible that the boy was inspired by a nature spirit. Children are often more perceptive to such things. As far as I know the boy hasn’t explained much about where the holiday came from. So we’ll never really know. But in my mind, it’s a good opportunity for engaging certain nature spirits.

          John Beckett on Patheos wrote a good piece on the idea of natural religion and spirituality and used Wolfenoot as an example of how even if we had a world devoid of religion humans would find ways to celebrate meaning and connection. He talked about the Pagan feel of the holiday, which itself is not Pagan, as he also noted. The holiday does not come from any traditional Pagan canon, and the boy’s family has not, to my knowledge, expressed any Pagan affiliation. The holiday is just there for everyone, especially people who love or care for dogs. This openness has an element that reflects man’s earliest religious experiences, before competing cultures created concepts of religious affiliation. For people working in a world of spirits this kind of approach is entirely sensible, because the spirits are there doing their thing regardless of your religion or beliefs.

          So the spirit of the wolf. Since this was originated by a little kid there is not a lot of detail. So we have to look at some other sources to build a concept. So…what is the wolf to us?

          If we look at mythology and folklore, for me the first obvious thoughts are Garm and Fenrir. Both wolves are associated with the Ragnarok, the Doom of the Gods. Garm guards the entry way to the land of the dead, howling as a herald of the Ragarok. His howl is associated with the breaking of Fenrir’s bonds, after which Fenrir, the ravener, will run free, eat corpses, and swallow the sun, all before he kills the Allfather, Odin, in the battle which will take the lives of many gods.

          Garm and Fenrir certainly don’t seem like the spirit of the great wolf who gives presents to those who are kind to dogs, but they are not the only important wolves in the North. Odin himself is accompanied by two wolves, Freki and Geri. Odin is described as living on wine alone, and giving all the food of his table to his wolves. Some scholars have suggested that Odin, his wolves, and his ravens, form a sort of singular entity representing the symbiosis of hunting allegiances from our prehistoric past. In the case of Odin his ravens bring him knowledge and hold it for him, his wolves, who are called greedy or ravenous, bring nourishment.
There is a cyclical element to this. Fenrir is also called “ravenous” and Garm, and Geri have names tied to the same linguistic origin. So the wolves that are the companions of Odin are mirrored in the wolves that spell his doom. This is so much the case that while Odin feeds Freki and Geri, he will eventually end his life as food for Fenrir.

This still doesn’t tell us much which is too linked to the Spirit of the Great Wolf, at least not at first glance, but it does tell us something about nature spirits. While Fenrir is not a nature spirit and neither is Freki, they both have the form of a powerful symbol of nature, the wolf. If we look at stories of nature spirits we will often find within the same culture stories in which a single type of nature spirit appears as a wonderful ally for the people, and in other stories the same type of spirit is a horrible and dangerous monster. Much like these mirrored sets of wolves.

My interpretation of this is that it reflects the community’s relationship with the spirits. When we have good relations with nature spirits and when we respect their spaces they are wonderful allies. When we forget our bonds with them, and our relationship to their space becomes one of trespass, ingress, or destruction then they become foreboding and harmful spirits whose dangerous intentions towards us provide cautionary tales.  

The wolf was one of our earliest allies, and one who is perhaps a significant contributor to our survival and development. The wolf became an ally for early humans to help us hunt and help us defend ourselves in a time that was much more dangerous for us. These wolves to whom we were allied traveled with us into our settled lives as we developed agriculture and became dogs. As we became more civilized and left the wild and the hunt, some wolves remained part of that more wild natural world. They became a symbol of the danger of the wild and those woodland spaces beyond our agrarian boundaries.

So when we consider the Spirit of the Great Wolf, who leaves gifts for those who are kind to dogs, there is definitely an element of strengthening the alliance between man and wolf. Humans who have been good to dogs and wolves will be rewarded, but so will other humans so they are reminded they have the opportunity to be kind to dogs and wolves. Kindness begets kindness. A cyclical relationship of guest and host is honored. This is a shining example of a right relationship with the spirit world.

We can also look at another example of the wolf in modern mythos who might help us consider the nature of the Spirit of the Great Wolf, and this example also provides us with a great wolf’s death:

“Akela, the great gray Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by strength and cunning”

--Kipling, the Jungle Book

For anyone who grew up in cub scouts, Akela is an important foundational symbol in our youth. He is the guide who teaches us the importance of the pack and how we are to develop and learn and how to treat each other in that process.

Akela eventually leaves the pack to go on his own when the pack betrays him, but he still returns, and ultimately dies for the pack to help save the pack.

Where the contrast between Fenrir and Garm juxtaposed to Freki and Geri helps illustrate for us the relationship between men and wolves and also men and the spirits of the land, Akela helps us understand what the spirit of the wolf reflects for us. As the lone wolf, the great wolf, Akela both leads the pack and is also his own wolf. He teaches the importance of the pack but also the importance of understanding oneself and one’s own principles. He leads both by strength, and by cunning, showing that physical prowess and intellect are two hands that must work together. He illustrates self reliance but also duty to one’s community.

If we really think about what wolves represent, Akela is a pretty great illustration. We value the lone wolf, but we also value the honor inherent in commitment to one’s pack. We think of the wolf as the powerful dominant hunter, a king of the woodland spaces, but we also think of the wolf as a clever hunter who can stalk his prey as easily as he can hunt it down.

The form of a nature spirit sometimes reflects what their relationship is to the land, to the animals and plants there, and to the humans near the land. In my thinking if we sought to engage a local spirit in the form of a wolf, or perhaps the spirit who rules and watches over wolves and dogs, these qualities would be the qualities we would recognize in that spirit, and those qualities would be the lessons we would learn from that spirit, along with how to walk side by side and benefit each other like early men and the ancestors of our current canine companions.

So obviously, celebrate Wolfenoot with some roast meat and a full moon cake. Maybe make a donation to a charity for wolves or dogs as John Beckett recommended.

But maybe also take a moment and explore it as an opportunity for magic.

Go to a wild space and introduce yourself to the spirit of the wolves and the local nature spirits there. Not deep into the wild space, but at that liminal boundary space where the wild meets the tamed. Cut off a bit of the meat you’ve roasted and offer it to the spirits of the land. Introduce yourself and let them know you want to have a good relationship with them. Specifically call upon the spirit of the wolves and ask it to help inspire you in this relationship with both the tame and the wild parts of nature.

Don’t take anything with you.

The spirits of wild spaces should live in their wild spaces. Work to understand those spirits and your relationship with those spirits safely adjacent to their space rather than in your own space because not all spirits are spirits you need in your home.

Happy first Wolfenoot.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

The Church is Dead and God is in your Freedom is Sacred

I'm sure many of my friends and blog readers know I love Lent and get super excited about it. Last year I had a pretty popular post about Ash Wednesday and my Gnostic interpretation of the meaning of Ash Wednesday vis a vis Palm Sunday. But did you know I think Holy Saturday is the most amazing day of the year? I made sure my ordination as a Gnostic Catholic Priest fell on the Saturday of the Easter Triduum for this reason, once I organized a Mass, Class, Spaghetti Dinner, and Dionysian Mystery Tradition ritual for a Holy Saturday chocked full of wonder. I think it's a day which is in itself mystically is a discussion I had this early afternoon of why. I hope you enjoy it, and that you share it with your friends, so that you and they can go find the infinite in all that you do.

BJ: After 3pm we enter the best time of the year. Because the church is dead and god is in hell.

College Fencer: I’m sorry I must have been to the boring catholic education cause that sounds way more fun than my average Good Friday

My explanation as to why Holy Saturday is the Greatest Day of the Year for Mystics, Gnostics, and Antinomianists:

The Harrowing of Hell occurs on Good Friday after Christ's death when Christ descends into Hell and tears down its gates and in doing so conquers sin and death. In this process God essentially descends into Hell. Christ's incarnation is described as God achieving sympathy for Man by taking on Man's suffering and weakness. With the Passion on the Cross and the Harrowing of Hell God takes on all sin, all suffering and pain and descends into a moment of isolation from himself, achieving the ultimate weakness and powerlessness before then conquering it. In this moment God is closer to mankind than ever. In an almost gravitational way God sinks below man and draws man closer into a shared proximity than would seem otherwise possible.

When Christ dies the Church as his Bride dies as well. From 3pm on Good Friday until Dawn on Easter Sunday there is no Church. This is the most sacred antinomian moment. There is no institution, there is no mediation so there is only man and God. God's grace exists simultaneously with the depths of human experience and error with no Magisterium to dictate its nature or how to access it. This is shown when the veil of the Holy of Holies is rent in the temple at the moment of Christ's death. The veil separated the common man from the sanctum in which God resided, an inner sanctum in which only the High Priest could enter. With the veil torn asunder God permeates the world. With no Church and no Veil man and God stand face to face unmediated such that man directly experiences the infinite fully and unfiltered on his own terms in his own space of being. With this it can be interpreted that in this time all acts that express man's nature and his experience of the world are redeemed and are in contact with divine grace.

Death, or the withering of man from a state of perfection in which he resides within divine grace, is the price of experience and knowledge in the story of Man's exile from Eden. It is by descending into the fullness of human experience that Christ defeats death and returns the dead to paradise. Thus again, the full experience of our humanity during Holy Saturday is the experience of divine grace which allows death to be conquered and Sin to be transcendent.

So in my view, as a Gnostic Catholic, from the afternoon of Good Friday through to Dawn on Easter represents full access to the goal of mysticism, union with God and transcendence over the suffering and error of humanity such that our humanity, our drives and desires are elevated as the vehicles by which we Triumph and are resurrected with the Dawn. 

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Make Your Magic Easier

Yesterday I wrote about making magic part of the structure of your life by doing magic regularly. Not doing spiritual exercises, or yoga, or meditation, but actual magic, the work of making change in the world through the application of occult forces. In the case of yesterday's post I specifically was referencing work with spirits. You can do other magic routinely too, and I think whether we're talking about work with spirits, or ritual kabbalistic magic, or folk magic or whatever systems we might approach, those same problems I mentioned yesterday, the same excuses, the same walls we put up to hinder ourselves will apply regardless of what system we're working.

So today I want to suggest a few ways to make it easier to actually do the work.

Yesterday's theme was consistency.

If you're committed to doing the work regularly the work gets easier.

Today we're going to talk about planning and preparation.

One of the best places to start is with a calendar, and with phone apps. A desk calendar is probably the way to go because it will have plenty of space to make notes. On my phone I have an app called “Reaganium” which calculates planetary hours. You can use a calendar view to project out days. So you can write out the planetary hours on your desk calendar so you have them in advance. I have another one called “Astro Charts” which runs astrological charts, breaks down tables of aspects and positions, and lets you advance or move back the date or time for the chart at various increments. So you can look for astrological positions and elections and mark them on your calendar so you know when interesting magical moments might come up. I have an app called “Catholic Saints” which isn't as great, but it gives a list of Catholic saints and feast days for each day. Hellenion has a calendar on their website which lists all of their interpretations of when the Greek Pagan holidays are, which can be useful for noting festivals of the dead, and observances for Hekate and the Agathodaimon.

Whatever things you might need to take into account for observances there is a way to look them up somewhere. So rather than wait until you see something on Facebook and think “oh shit I missed it” or “I don't have time to prepare for that!” you can have the whole month planned out.

Maybe there is nothing that month you'll want to observe, but there might be interesting things you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

Another thing that will be helpful is a book.

I know I frequently pull out a handful of books when I want to put together some ritual. I think of prayers, incantations, conjurations, invocations, and other elements which are in various sources and sometimes I have to keep books upon to various pages, which is awkward. Other times I type up the script for the ritual I want and print it. Even if I'm working from a single text often the ritual components aren't lined up conveniently as a ritual script and so I have to type up and arrange them.

So if I haven't preplanned my ritual I might not feel like I have time to put it together in a last minute circumstance. Or if my printer has a hiccup then that can make printing a script difficult or can slow things down to the point of being inconvenient.

So there are two solutions to these problems.

The first one is to memorize various prayers and orations which you will use frequently and know your ritual components enough that you don't need a script. This may or may not be ideal. Some magicians think this is the way to go, but most evidence suggests that magicians worked from books historically. There are both magical and practical reasons for working from a written source.

So if you want a written source, keep a ritual book. Have a book where you've written down your various component parts, your orations and your prayers. Then you have a single source to go through instead of various books, and you don't have to write a ritual, you just have to use the pieces you keep assembled. You can even include in it set complete ritual scripts instead of just components. Having some stuff memorized is good too, and there are instances where working from memory of spontaneously will make sense, but having your set rituals, working methods, and components already on paper will make your magic a lot more plug and play.

Boxes and tchotchkes. I keep “sorcery boxes” or boxes that have herbs, iron nails, sachet bags, loadstones, and various other things I might need to use. So I can just pull out a box and grab the things I want. I have a plastic stacker of drawers for candles and I order colored candles in bulk sets so I can just reach in and get whatever candles I need. Another drawer has labeled glass candles, another has pillars and tea lights. Keeping your stuff organized and keeping a well stocked supply means you don't have to worry about digging out components or running to the store to get supplies.

A way to step that part of the game up would be boxes based on categories. So a jupiter box...not like a charmed box that is itself a Jupiter working, but a storage box filled with Jupiter correspondences, or one for things related to the element of water, or ones for things related to a particular spirit, or a box for love magic. However you group things in your mind magically, organize your stuff based on that. That way when you decide to make a sweetening jar at 6:45am before you head to work you don't have the excuse “well I don't know what correspondences I have, and I won't have time to look through everything and select stuff” because your stuff is already selected and grouped and handy.

You can go further by having blanks for talismans ready to go, or even having pre-etched or pre-drawn talismans and sigils on hand so that you just have to charge or consecrate them or activate them and then use them in your ritual or your work.

The last thing is space. One big problem people run into is not having a set ritual space. I've had lots of beginning magicians talk to me about needing to work around family or roommate schedules, or not having a room dedicated to magic so they aren't sure where to practice. Or their current options for where to practice don't allow them to make a huge set up. Or even if they have space the idea of setting stuff up might seem time consuming or daunting for people with not a lot of time and who are trying to squeeze out their last waking bits of energy to do something.

You usually don't need a huge set up.

So there are a couple ways to work this. The two I'm going to suggest, I use both of them.

One, having permanently set altars. You don't necessarily need a permanently set ritual room, but having an altar makes it a lot easier. I have an ancestor altar permanently set up in my dining room. It's right there in the open so it's easy to work with it often. I feel it nagging me...I mean calling to me when I don't work with it often enough.

I also have an altar from when I tried to return to druid work a few years ago, and one from some work I did with a particular God about two years ago, and I have one for spirit work. I keep a small shelf on a little bookshelf for devotional stuff for a God that has helped me several times. Finding places where you can set stuff up permanently so you can just walk up and use it makes things so much easier and so much faster. It does mean you need to set time to tend to the altar though.

Say you don't have a set approach you want to work with all the time, or you can't always leave an altar set up. Use altar tops. You can get a piece of wood, or canvas board and paint or etch your table of practice, or altar design into it. You can keep a handful of these for various systems. Wrap them in cloth when not using them, and when you need them pull them out and set them on top of a table. Folding TV tables work well for this because they're small enough that you can easily make an altar top that will fully cover the table.

So imagine you're looking to do some prosperity work. Thursday comes, you get home from work, you think to yourself “I really need to call upon Sachiel and consecrate a Jupiter talisman, maybe make a mojo bag too. Ugh, but I have to get dinner made and I need to finish prepping for tomorrow's meeting.” So you start cooking dinner, and then you look up the sunrise and sunset time, draw your planetary hour chart and you see that the planetary hour for Jupiter started just after you got home, and the next one isn't til the middle of the night, so now you'll have to get up or miss it. You aren't sure if you have the right incense so you pull out 777 and look and decide you could run to the witch shop after dinner, but it's 30 minutes away so that isn't convenient. You open the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy and see a prayer for Thursday you could use, but there is no ritual for Thursday that you can just read from. So you decide you'll just light a candle and hope some hopes before you prepare for your meeting and then go to bed.

Now...successful you, a well prepared magician who conjures spirits at least a few times a month and has a good relationship with his ancestors and gate keepers and local land spirits comes home from work and looks at the calendar. You see the needed planetary hour will begin in a half hour and you note that Jupiter is in a good aspect based on other notes you made. You go to your bookshelf and pull out your Jupiter box, you grab an appropriate oil blend from the box and go take a quick shower and anoint yourself with Jupiter oil while reciting the orphic hymn to Jupiter. You go to your sorcery box and pull out a sachet bag, and then pull some items to fill the bag from your Jupiter box, along with some incense and Sachiel's seal. You put on your robe and call upon Amacor and his crew, and you open up your ritual book to your Thursday conjuration ritual. You take a quick detour outside to leave some corn and butter for the nature spirits and tell them what you're about to do, and upon coming inside you pour a little whiskey as you knock on your ancestor altar and let them know what's up. Then you go to your spirit altar and begin about 10 minutes after the planetary hour has started. Thirty minutes later you're done, and now it's time to order pizza and watch Jessica Jones on Netflix. After you pay the pizza delivery guy you feel the new Jupiter mojo bag in your pocket next to your wallet and you smile.

It can be hard to keep up with your magic amid the rest of life. So make it easy for yourself. Be the magician in the second scenario. 

If you enjoyed this please like us on Facebook and please share this post and our Facebook page. If you want to connect and you like spirits and talking with other magicians who work with spirits please join in with our Facebook group, Living Spirits. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Funny Cause It's True

Three days ago I had a Facebook memory pop up of sharing a post from Jason Miller's blog two years ago, titled “ABC Always Be Conjuring.” The post was a joke, he was parodying a speech from the Movie Glengarry Glen Ross, you should read it (and Jason's blog in general) if you haven't.

I almost re-posted the memory, not because the post is funny (which it is), but because the basic sentiment is true and useful...and is one I think people, myself included, don't always get or follow through on.

The speech was originally a hard push for super aggressive sales people, the parody sets it up as an inspirational redress of nascent sorcerers calling them to a life of constant committed conjuring and spirit work. On the surface it's goofy, it's a fun joke, but, the basic message “always be conjuring” can actually inspire a useful view point.

Magic isn't a band-aid, it's not a quick fix or a cure all. Magic, at it's core, is based on understanding fundamental elements of the structures behind existence and how we use those to accomplish the changes we desire. With that in mind shouldn't magic be part of the structure of our lives? Doing a little magic here or there, or even having a developed magical practice but only using it when we need to solve magic issues is not making it part of the structure of our lives. Using it as a fail safe or last effort is making it an accessory that we hang on the scaffolding of our personal structures. Even if we're not saving it for dire situations, if we're putting it on a pedestal and not fluidly weaving it into what we do, and who we are, then it's still just something that decorates us rather than something which supports us.

Doing magic takes time and effort. Sometimes we don't want to put in that time and effort. Sometimes we've spent the day at work, we've dealt with whatever our evening tasks are – whether it's a second job, school, a family, an activity, and we're just tired. Or maybe we don't have the stuff we need and won't be ready in the right hour. Or we don't have a temple space and our room is a mess and we don't feel magical. Maybe, tonight you have a headache or need to wash your hair. Maybe we can come up with a dozen or so reasons not to do magic.

Then maybe we need something, and it's important and...we still don't do magic. We're not in the habit. There are probably other solutions. It's not something we need to use magic for anyway. We're not sure which method would be best.

Then maybe we need more stuff, maybe the situation gets more difficult, and now magic makes a lot more sense. Maybe we need a solution and magic seems like the only way to make a solution tenable.

Why be in that situation? It doesn't just make magic more difficult because the goal is more difficult, it leaves you in the wrong mental state to even approach problem solving, let alone magical problem solving. You're definitely not in a mental state where it's going to be easy to approach magic. And all those things you've taught yourself to use to avoid magic are still going to be there on top of whatever other stress you have.

If you're a magician, do magic. Not just meditation, not just spiritual maintenance, or lesser banishing rituals or whatever daily or weekly exercises you might have. Most of that isn't magic. Do magic.

I myself have this problem. When I was really young and mostly doing witchcraft and NeoPagan magic I used magic all the time for stuff. As an older teenager into young adult years this continued. But eventually I kind of got this idea that you need to measure yourself against things you don't affect by magic, and that sometimes you should knuckle down and suffer through things without magic to build character. Neither idea really makes sense. What you create with magic is as real as what you create with anything else. Magic is, in a way, the same as any other effort. Don't make it so special that specialness becomes a reason not to do it.

Now that I'm a full grown adult the problem is less that magic is too special to use, or that the reality touched by magic is different from reality untouched by magic. It's that I go to work for 8 hours, get about an hour to have dinner, and then coach a sport for five hours during which much of my time is spent running around and drilling sword techniques into middle and high school boys and then when they're done I get to do it again with college kids until I'm sweaty gross and tired when I get home at midnight.

I'm sure a lot of you have some sort of similar experience...just...with fewer swords, maybe less sweat. More likely fixing dinner for your kids and putting them to bed, after trying to figure out how to do homework in subjects you haven't looked at since you were their age, or working a second job, or whatever.

But if you're reading my blog I'm assuming magic is something that's important to you, or that calls to you. I assume you either consider yourself a magician or you want to be a magician. So you need to do magic, and like I said before, magic, not magical aerobics.

Call spirits regularly, work with them.

I work with my ancestors at least weekly, often more than once a week. I don't have a regular schedule for conjurations though. Recently when I was out to dinner with the Brodepti we all talked about how we don't do magic much – but all of us had conjured a spirit for something within the preceding week. In our minds if we weren't back in our Abramelin retreat schedules with hours of prayer and ritual a day we weren't doing enough magic. Maybe we aren't, but maybe you don't need to always be on that kind of schedule. You won't always be conjuring...but, conjure often, and conjure even when you don't need things.

You should use your routine prayers as meditations. This helps you learn them but also helps draw the forces they call into your life. Each day finding a time to say the planetary prayer for the day, or the orphic hymn, or a prayer associated with a god or spirit you work with is a useful technique. This shouldn't be where it stops though.

Call the spirits.

If you know them and they know you it's easier to call them and easier to work with them. If you work with one a lot ask it to give you a familiar spirit, or a special sign and name by which to easily call it.

Everyone these days talks about building a relationship with the spirits. You can't do this if you only call spirits when you need something.

That said, only give them something when you're asking for something. Don't give them offerings with pronouncements of your loyalty and dedication and how you're ready to honor them. Most spirits we're calling in magic aren't gods, and acting like they are can skew the relationship especially when you eventually really need something.

Asking to get to know them is still asking for something in return for your offering.

Run through the spirits of the planets, or the elementals, call your ancestors, introduce yourself to your backyard's nature spirits, see if your house has a household spirit, or ask the local spirits to help you attract one. Call on these spirits and ask them to teach you about them, the things they do, the things that interest them and the ways in which they work with the things that interest them.

Build a rapport. Get to know them, get them to know you.

Ask them to help in general ways with your life.

When you find small specific things that maybe don't seem like they need magic, ask for help with those things. When you want something that maybe doesn't need magic, ask for it.

Work a structure in your life that is built with magic woven into it. Build a structure where you have a working relationship with the spirits you need and keep that relationship actively involved in building your life.

Be good at adulting.

Never exercising and always eating junk food won't make you healthy. Never paying bills won't help you have the things you need. Not finishing tasks at work won't help you keep your job. Not doing magic won't make magic part of your life.

If you use magic to better things when things aren't bad, and to solve problems while they're small it will help you avoid bigger problems becoming potentially catastrophic ones. Same as mundane attention will. If you want to do magic make it part of this process of attention to the things you need in your life. If it's worked in already then you need less ritual, you need less preparation, you need less time, and the pathways the spirits need to manifest things are already well trodden and established from your routine work with them.

Always be conjuring.

It's something I'm not as good about as I should be. But it's something I'm going to be more mindful of. Hopefully it's something you'll be more mindful of too if you aren't already.

If you enjoyed this please like us on Facebook and please share this post and our Facebook page. If you want to connect and you like spirits and talking with other magicians who work with spirits please join in with our Facebook group, Living Spirits. And since we were referencing Jason's blog today...go pick up a copy of his newest book The Elements of Spellcrafting. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Spirit Among Spirits: King, Concierge, Roommate?

I was reading Facebook today and I saw a post about a spirit working someone intended to do. I don't really know this person, and as I understand it they are an experienced and competent magician, so the questions that sprang to my mind were not necessarily really about this person and their intentions so much as just those inspired by the idea of this particular working in a vacuum. At the end of the day, some of my questions were interesting for me to think about, but I'm not part of the tradition of that spirit so they're not really relevant for me to talk about. There was one though that stuck with me, one which works as a general question beyond any particular spirit or tradition.

The question that came in almost as if whispered to me was this, “what spirit is going to mediate her (the spirit) for you?”

Not only did the question stick out to me, but during the course of the day someone reached out to ask about a previous post that connects to this question.

We've talked before about intermediaries and spirits who give introduction. This is somewhat related to that idea, in fact very related to that idea, but it also goes further. An intermediary spirit might be a spirit that opens a particular pathway or kingdom and allows access to the spirits within that domain, and may also allow them access to work in the world. An introducing spirit is a spirit with whom you have a working relationship who facilitates work with spirits with whom you do not yet have a working relationship, they're your inside man, or your guy who knows the guy. The intermediary could also be your introducing spirit, or you might work with separate spirits in this role.

When we talked before about your “first spirit” or the initial spirit with whom you have contact, who may even be the spirit that brings you into magic, a large part of that spirit's role was as the introducing spirit. Depending on the work you're doing it might still be that first spirit, or it might be a spirit attached to you by initiation, or through some spiritual or magical process, or it might be a different spirit or group of spirits depending upon the work you're doing.

Depending upon the spirits you're working with, or the type of work you're doing, there may be two other jobs that these spirits may take on, or perhaps they won't take these jobs on, perhaps you'll need another spirit to do these jobs. The jobs in question aren't ones with fancy classic names, but we can think of one as a mediator or translator, and the other as a kind of organizer or project manager.

The mediator or translator functions to facilitate a comprehensible interaction with the spirits with whom you're working. Often this is your possessing spirit if you have one, the spirit who can sit with you and whisper directly to you guiding you and interpreting for you. In this context the idea is that you may not fully comprehend directly what a spirit is saying or communicate directly in a way comprehensible to the spirit, and so this mediating spirit allows for that communication.

This idea isn't really explored much in Western magic.

But it's a pretty good idea, and I think it's often there in Western Magic without us necessarily understanding it.

Generally in grimoire magic this would be described as Divine Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, The Holy Guardian Angel, or the Spiritual Assistant. In the Greek Magical Papyri there is a good example of this in which one essentially conjures “the light” as the means through which to make the conjuration of the spirit in question, and the light is clearly needed to interact comprehensibly with said spirit. The Sacred Magic hints at the idea in that it doesn't really tell you how to call on or command the demons, just that your angel will tell you how to do it and what to do and what to say and basically facilitate the process.

So when working with a spirit, whatever spirit mediates for you would sit with you and assist in communication between you and the spirit. Depending upon the relationship you could perceive this directly, or perhaps it would just work like a lens and you wouldn't see a process to it. Engaging this relationship though would be part of entering into the magical space for your work, just as would your ritual purification or putting on your robes, in fact, in early grimoires a series of angels are called upon as one dons the robe, or the garments of salvation, highlighting that an immersion within spirits is part of the process of entering into the work.

If you communicate through divination your spirit would be the spirit who sanctifies your divination space and tools and allows them to speak truly for you, creating the space in which the spirit being called can enter and speak and have their answers translated into your tool.

When the spirit is functioning to organize or be a project manager of sorts it is coordinating your efforts with the spirits, and perhaps other magical efforts as well. Fr. Rufus Opus wrote a piece on this for Zero = Two called “The HGA: Chef to the Gods”. In this he talks about how the Holy Guardian Angel, and other spiritual assistants, understand what is pleasing and what is not pleasing to other spirits you might choose to conjure. Like the role of an intermediary in facilitating communication the intermediary can facilitate the etiquette of the interaction. Beyond this, the intermediary can help in bringing spirits.

The spirit in this coordinating role can also help in identifying what spirits you should work with on a particular task. When working with my ancestors this happens somewhat regularly. I'll ask for help with a problem and they'll tell me to conjure a particular spirit with them so they can help with the interaction. In all such instances the idea of conjuring a spirit wasn't one that was on my mind, but it ended up being a good choice. Recently I was considering a conjuration and my ancestors advised me to work with them in going through the Book of the Offices of Spirits to select what demon to call. Allies in the spirit world who know the spirits and know your needs can guide you in what spirits to bring into your life.

In my story about car trouble, my ancestors, and the archangel Raphael were involved to help mediate the forces and guide the efforts of the other angels and aerial spirits I had called upon. So in addition to guiding you on what spirits to work with, those spirits with whom you have a close relationship can also help guide the interaction and coordinate the work of the other spirits you're working with.

Consider a situation in which you need a job. You go to your Holy Guardian Angel, or your ancestors, or Hekate or whatever intermediary or ally you have and ask what you should do. They direct you to a spirit under the rulership of Jupiter, another under the rulership of Mercury, one under the rulership of the Sun, and the gnomes. You conjure each spirit and describe your desire, each being conjured with your intermediary also having been invoked. Your intermediary guides the Jupiterian spirit to help establish fecundity and prosperity in your life, the Mercurial spirit works to improve the reception of your resume and your ability at interviews, and inspires call backs, the Solar spirit provides a sense of honor and dignity when interviewers look at you, and the gnomes build the actual manifestation of the job from the conditions the other spirits move in your favor.

You could do one conjuration of one spirit and it could work towards what you want, and it could be successful. Or you can coordinate an effort on multiple fronts and increase the options for the best result. Different forces each working on their own for a goal uncoordinated may have elements that you don't want because they're not focused, or it may have spirits working in ways that compete against each other, or which work in parallel but don't work together. Having a spirit who helps coordinate that interaction allows them to actually work together, focused on their particular domain, in a way which directs their efforts specifically in the way needed rather than on generally adding their influence to a particular area of your life.

When working in this manner your spirit can also help coordinate offerings you make in thanks. Again, in Rufus's example he makes the case that your Holy Guardian Angel can set a banquet for the spirits, but another way to look at this is when you set offerings for the spirits you've worked with, the spirit who you approach to guide that work can also help facilitate all the spirits receiving the offering together, so that you can make one rather than many. If you need to make separate offerings, your spirit working as your point of contact, can also instruct you in that.

So what spirits serve this role and how do you develop that relationship? Ultimately this is a spirit relationship which is on going and personal. It's not a spirit relationship that is always about getting something specific. Sometimes interaction with these spirits will be about the interaction and developing the relationship. There can be a benefit to this being a “head spirit” or “possessing spirit” one that sits with you and works with you even outside of ritual work, especially if the spirit is helping you speak with other spirits. Depending upon the type of spirit though it might be one with a more ritual based relationship and interaction. In any case it should be a spirit where your relationship with the spirit is such that it will have an awareness of your needs and will understand you.

An easy relationship to develop in that regard is with your ancestors. They already have an interest in you and are often open to making a connection. If you're working in a system drawn from the grimoires or systems of Western magic then the Holy Guardian angel can function in this capacity. The spiritual assistant of the Greek Magical Papyri, or some types of familiar spirits can also serve these purposes. We can look at crossroads spirits like Hekate for this, particularly ones like her since she has power in all areas of creation, in my experience the directional kings would not serve in these roles in the same way, unless you're coordinating work only in a singular kingdom. In traditions like Quimbanda the Exu and Pomba Gira to whom you are connected primarily would serve in these purposes, and as I understand it, these functions are built into that tradition with these spirits. I would imagine other African Diaspora traditions have similar systems in place in which your main spirits assist in interfacing with other spirits. Looking at those traditions, looking at the role of the familiar in traditional European witchcraft and in Greek sorcery can guide us in how to approach spirits as part of a living world rather than as a static system of tools, which has unfortunately been a fairly present perception in established modern ceremonial magic...but, it's one which is fortunately changing as more magicians engage with the spirit world. 

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