Epic Rap Battles of History: Occult Edition

2014/07/24

For no reason when leaving temple last I thought it be amusing to see Epic Rap Battles of History for famous folks in the occult.

If you’ve never seen Epic Rap Battles of History it’s a youtube show that pits two famous people from history (and occasionally fiction) in a rap battle. They’re usually very clever and amusing.

Einstein vs. Hawking.

Anyways I thought up a few ones for occult folks, I was posting them, and Ocean Delano from Turning the Magic Around chimed in with a few of his own, which will be marked with an * on the list.

20130704002622Wiki-background[1]Epic Rap Battles of History Presents:

Aleister Crowley versus Madame Blavatsky!

Edward Kelley versus L. Ron Hubbard!

King Solomon versus Padmasambhava!

*Gerald Gardner vs The Witch Of Endor.

*Merlin vs. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart!

*Abra-Melin vs Socrates!

Marie Laveau versus Circe!

Imhotep versus Milarepa!

*Cornelius Agrippa versus Francis Barrett
(Barrett would just rap Agrippa’s lines back at him, but say half of them wrong.)

E. A. Koetting versus J. Z. Knight!

Paracelsus versus Ibn Sina!

Medea versus The Witches of Eastwick!

The Secret Chiefs versus the Ascended Masters!

Melchizedek versus St. Germain!

*Deepak Chopra versus Confucius

Victor and Cora Anderson versus Peter Carroll and Phil Hine

Anton LeVay versus Doreen Virtue!

John Dee versus Sylvia Brown!

Alright, who do you think would be the best match? Or any funny magickal matches that we didn’t think of?


Taking Refuge

2014/07/22

Taking Refuge is probably one of the most common Buddhist practices there is. Arguably it should be the most common practice, but we all know not everyone lives by the book. I say it should be the most common because it is done before pretty much everything in Buddhism. Doing a meditation, Take Refuge first, going to give offerings, Take Refuge first, going to perform a ritual, Take Refuge first, going to do Buddhist mantras in calligraphy, Take Refuge first. So what is Taking Refuge?

three-jewels[1]On the simplest level if is a recitation of a simple phrase/idea, there are hundreds of variations, one of the most basic is “I go for Refuge in the Triple Gem” but more clearly, listing the Gems it would be “I go for refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.” Who the Buddha is should be somewhat obvious, Dharma refers to the teachings of the Buddha (simplistically), and the Sangha refers to the spiritual community, to the temple, to other Buddhists. But why Refuge?

Well, Refuge means a couple of things; first and foremost we could understand it as aligning yourself with the Buddhist current. Just as many other traditions have some form of opening prayer or such that refocuses the person on the tradition, this is what Refuge is, you say this is what I am doing, this is the Path, and I am connecting myself to it. “This is the teacher, this is the teaching, this is the tradition, I am a part of it.”

Along with the alignment, it is a request for help, support, and encouragement, either from the figures and forces involved or the current itself. “I ask for assistance from the Buddha, I ask for assistance from the Dharma, I ask for assistance from the Sangha, I am on the Path and seek aid.”

Tied to the notion alignment, it’s also a recognition, in some forms of Buddhism it’s understood that we’re inherently Pure and Interdependent, and the act of becoming Enlightened is recognizing and revealing that, so Refuge is a reminder in that case. “I am Buddha, I am Dharma, I am Sangha, I am Primordially Pure.”

It’s also a declaration of intent. “I aspire to become like the Buddha, I aspire to follow the Dharma, I aspire to support the Sangha, I will become Enlightened.”

While not discussed nearly as much, it’s also a form of protective magick. When you reconnect to the Purity, or Align yourself with a tradition, you tap into the strength of it, and that gives you a form of protection and authority. That is why in chöd (a specific school of practice within Vajrayana Buddhism) originally you did not go for Refuge, because the point of the practice was to be open and be willing to give up your attachment to everything, and asking for protection is an attachment to the status quo in that ritual context. (Sometime into the 14th century or so it looks like Refuge became part of chöd as it was incorporated into the monastic scene more)

Now just because Taking Refuge is a Buddhist practice, doesn’t mean it isn’t something that could be used by someone of another tradition. The first two things that come to mind are Sam Webster’s Tantric Thelema, where he gives ways of giving Refuge that are more “generic” and more Thelemic, as well as the magickal order I owe a lot of my initial training too, for we had Refuge inspired by Buddhism, but not in a strictly Buddhist way.

Our Refuge was more inspired by Crowley’s understanding of Refuge back when he was a Buddhist, before receiving the Liber AL vel Legis. In 1903 he wrote Science and Buddhism and explained Refuge as such:

I take my refuge in the Buddha. That there was once a man who found the Way is my encouragement.
I take my refuge in the Dhamma. The Law under-lying phenomena and its unchanging certainty; the Law given by the Buddha to show us the Way, the inevitable tendency to Persistence in Motion or Rest—and
Persistence, even in Motion, negates change in consciousness—these observed orders of fact are our bases.
I take my refuge in the Sangha. These are not isolated efforts on my part; although in one sense isolation is eternally perfect and can never be overcome, in another sense associates are possible and desirable.

For us we took Refuge in the Three Spheres, which in this case translated as the teacher, reality, and community, essentially the same as Buddhism, but without Buddha directly. The teacher was any great sage, any gnostic saint, any wise person who is Enlightened (however your tradition understands that), so it could be Buddha, it could be Jesus or St. Francis, it could be Crowley, or Lao Tzu. Whoever saw the Beauty Beyond could be the teacher, we also believed in an idealized teacher, not necessarily a real or objective person, but a symbolic person, Wisdom made Manifest. For Dharma, we focused less on direct teachings, and more Reality itself, which is actually how Refuge is understood occasionally in Tantra. Like Crowley it was the “Law under-lying phenomena,” the Universe works a certain way, and we took Refuge in that, not to fight or impose a misguided understanding, but accept Reality. Lastly the community, this was our order, but it was also any person in the current of wisdom and enlightenment, anyone who is trying to Become, this can be the great sages of the past, but the ones who didn’t quite make it. John Dee for instance, a brilliant man, but I might argue not on the same spiritual level as someone like Lao Tzu. (For a completely mixed cultural example)

So in reality you can Take Refuge regardless of tradition, you just need to figure out who and what the Three Jewels would be for you. Also, when you look at what Refuge is for, it’s not a bad little ritual to include as a way of centring and connecting to tradition or current before you begin your work.

Who is the enlightened teacher that inspires you? This can be a real person, a founder of your tradition if they’re understood to be enlightened, or it could be a god within the tradition. I recommend it not be a person you know physically, unless they’re recognized as Enlightened. Earthly personal teachers, are people too, and flawed, and you don’t want to take Refuge in someone like that. (Though more on that idea later)

What are the teachings of the tradition? Do you have a set of rules to obey that you dedicate yourself to, or do you dedicate yourself to the Laws of the Cosmos?

Who is the community? The saints, the protectors, those who work with you, and walk with you? Physical people, deceased people, spirits and angels.

Not sure if I'd Take Refuge or not from him.

Not sure if I’d Take Refuge or not from him.

While a strict Buddhist might argue against Taking Refuge in a god, that is one way to do it. (Arguably even within Buddhism it depends on what type of god, as there are gods in Samsara, reality as we understand it, and gods who are Enlightened, the latter being acceptable sources of Refuge.) If you’re considering Taking Refuge in a god, consider a few things, like enlightenment and scope. With the model of Taking Refuge the Object of Refuge can never take you beyond themselves, so if you use a deity in this way they are the best you can aspire to. Now, becoming a god sounds pretty sweet (*Insert a lazy Koetting joke here?*), but think about the mythologies, some gods are almost always wise and noble, Jesus and Krishna, other gods can be petty and foolish, Zeus and Set, and whomever you Take Refuge in, you work towards. Along with that is the idea of scope, some gods are small in scope and scale, and that isn’t a judgment against them, but ideally when going for Refuge you want to approach a deity who is transcendent, and many gods are both. In the Greek tradition Hekate is both a personal deity, and in some forms a transcendent deity, in some forms of Hinduism Kali is both personal and transcendent underlying all reality. Those transcendent deities are the best focus for this.

Some quick examples I have come across are in my training and work with the order:

I go for Refuge in Kali
I go for Refuge in Dharma and Karma
I go for Refuge in all who are Returning

I go for Refuge in Nut
I go for Refuge in Ma’at
I go for Refuge in the Priesthood

I go for Refuge in Our Lady of Darkness
I go for Refuge in the Nameless Path
I go for Refuge in the Mighty Dead

The advantage of using a system where you have “simplified” the naming conventions is it allows a group to work together, without conflict. So if everyone says Teacher, Teaching, Community, they can do it together, but have their own understanding of it. (The group I was in phrased it as Sun, Pluto, and Moon)

So you can see how people have intelligently (we hope) replaced the Triple Gem with appropriate equivalent for their system. Admittedly this only works with some of the simpler understandings of Refuge, to take Refuge Vows for instance is a big thing, and this is nothing like it.

Whelp, this post was actually supposed to be about how my specific Buddhist lineage does Refuge a bit differently, but the explanation of Refuge became its own post. Join me later this week when I expand on Refuge beyond Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and talk about how to invoke and evoke them.

Though I would be curious who and what others make Take Refuge in? If folks want to share I’d be interested in hearing.


HGA: Metamorphosis and Challenges

2014/07/19

If you missed the first and second part of this discussion/rant you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

I have looked over what I’ve written several times, and sadly I can’t find anywhere to divide this post, regardless of trying to make it two, three, or four sections, the ideas are just all too connected on the final point. So my apologies for a long post, the TLDR version is “If everyone who did it one way gets one set of results, and everyone who didn’t doesn’t have the same results, then maybe they’re not achieving the same thing.”

So having discussed some of the reasons on why I think we should entertain the possibility that HGA may be a system specific term and some of the reasons why it might matter I want to cover one more reason why it might matter, but it’s less supported hence separating from the others. Not necessarily what I believe, I’m agnostic on this point, but just giving another piece of the puzzle perhaps.

People ask “Why does it matter?” and specifically frame it in the terms of “Well they’re not hurting anyone, and if they’re wrong then they’ll find out eventually.” Here I jokingly hear in my head Helen Lovejoy screaming “Won’t someone please think of the Abyss?”

Now this idea comes not from the Abramelin text, and I don’t know if it really came up in the later writings on the HGA (that I don’t remember currently) but it did come up in some of my earlier magickal training, and while I haven’t had any revelation from my Angel to say if it is right or wrong, it is something I’ve pondered on. If we were to frame the HGA and K&C in Qabalistic terms we can say perhaps that the HGA resides in Tiphareth, or at least our connection to them does, more likely they’re something of Kether (I also use a Jacob’s Ladder Tree, so this sometimes conflicts with other systems), and to achieve K&C we have to travel the Third Path to Kether, but what’s along that Third Path? Everyone’s favourite dumping ground the Abyss of Da’ath. If you go from Tiphareth to Kether you must pass over(around/under/through/whatever) the Abyss.

No, not this Spirit of the Abyss.

No, not this Spirit of the Abyss.

Now in the system I came from I was taught two things in this regard, first off people that fail to get Knowledge and Conversation with their Holy Guardian Angel end up communicating with a spirit of the Abyss, who claims they are the HGA, acts as them, and lives with the person, while they never see they’re being subtly misled. The second thing is that apparently people who get trapped in the Abyss are stuck there for this incarnation. The second part I have more trouble believing, but I can’t say for sure. If these are both the case, then to me that’s another reason why the way people discuss K&C and the HGA should be reconsidered, but as said, I don’t know what I think about them, and my Angel didn’t give me anything about that idea one way or the other.

Moving on I’d also like to touch on a good point from Polyphanes (he is full of them); it’s hard in many ways to generalize about Knowledge and Conversation. Yet on the other hand I feel the phrase/understanding of Knowledge and Conversation is becoming so generalized as to be useless (oddly makes me think of copyright saturation). I’m not generalizing here based on my experience, I’m drawing on it most definitely, but I’m also drawing on conversations with other people who have done the Abramelin, or written works by such people. So while I can’t generalize, there are patterns that have shown up in the lives of these people and myself, but I see nothing similar from the majority of people claiming Knowledge and Conversation through non-Abramelin means. The revelations will always be different, mine was heavily focused on the marvels of the physical universe. The encounters will always be different, I don’t know anyone else whose HGA decided to play “Moses on the Mount” with them and gave them vitiligo to prove their existence after badgering. (You know what would be better proof? Giving me my pigment back.) But when patterns show up for everyone who did it one way, and they don’t show up when being done another way it makes me question if we’re really talking about the same thing. To go back to the analogy from my earlier post about taking a trip to the beach, if everyone who follows the directions gets to the beach and describes a beautiful sunset, and a person who took a different set of directions say the sunset was nice but the trees were in the way, and no one else mentions the trees, then why would they assume they reached the same point on the beach?

The Abramelin ritual is not just about establishing contact with a specific spirit, it’s about Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel. (Yes, I know the phrase Knowledge and Conversation was termed by Crowley, but Abraham didn’t give a term for the entire operation. I’ll end up using some of Crowley’s language for a lot of this because he did create a good lexicon for discussing the entirety of it. Even though he himself failed to do the ritual.) What’s the difference? Contact with your Holy Guardian Angel is easy. I was in contact with mine in the first trimester of the ritual, and Abraham says in the text itself that you may even have contact with the HGA before starting the ritual as it “will secretly stand by your side and place suggestions in your heart on how you should organize your life and how to follow everything that is written in this book.”

So what is Knowledge and Conversation then? That’s the result of the entire ritual, it’s not just about chatting, it’s about transformation, and not superficial transformation, not life hiccough transformations, it’s about shaking the very foundation of your identity, core, and understanding. “The Guardian Angel will remind you what he has done for you and how you have insulted him in the past. He will tell you how you please him in the future. He will also explain to you about what is the true wisdom, where it comes from, if-and how- you fail in your work, what you lack, how you should behave to control the unredeemed spirits, and how to achieve all you desire.”

“How you have insulted him in the past.” This is a great example of how Knowledge and Conversation differs from simply contact. I have never or heard anyone who achieved Knowledge and Conversation through Samekh (for instance, but insert any non-Abramelin form of supposed K&C here) talk about this. Sure, they may discuss confessions and humbling themselves, but there is a difference between confession and being told every time you have insulted your HGA. While I don’t want to personalize this with my experiences, I feel it’s the only way to make some points. During my Abramelin experience I ended up reliving times I lied before I even started school and having to apologize for those. Confessions and visionary experiences guided for months with hours poured into them a day, and you’re going to experience pretty much every time you failed. I had done confessions and humbling with Mother for years daily before the Abramelin, but they were nothing like what the Angel led me through over that period. This is something I don’t see mentioned by any other method, and I can’t see how you could have the depth of this upheaval and confession in something that takes less time (either per day or in terms of months and years). This isn’t about contact, this is about coming to terms with your nature, your failures, and past. This is showing you the ground from which you grew and where the transformation will be born from.

To turn more Thelemic in language looking at the last part of the quote, Knowledge and Conversation is about having your True Will revealed for you. Now obviously True Will is a really complicated concept, to say it’s what you are to do in the world is an oversimplification. True Will is about being in your perfect place, your Orbit within the Cosmos. This isn’t just about what you do, in terms of a job, this is about everything: your outlook on life, your view of the world, your understanding of cosmology, your ethics and your relationship with external morality, your connection and interaction with other people, your habits, your True Will is everything in your life and all parts of you.

When many people say they’ve achieved Knowledge and Conversation, it’s amazing how little has changed, in fact this observation is what inspired this rant, not a desire for dogmatic adherence to a strange German text. Again being a bit Thelemic about this, I was listening to an episode of Thelema Coast to Coast, when Keith418 was discussing magick as escapism and people being unwilling to do the hard work of transforming the self, and he said something to the effect of “If your HGA isn’t transgressive to your life you probably don’t know them.” This was a moment that if I were in a workshop with Keith418, I might have clapped. Sure most people talk about disruptions that happen as they work towards meeting their HGA, but these are superficial issues that come and go quicker than a Mercury Retrograde. External disruptions are nothing, they often occur with any major Solar working, and any initiation. In fact, while not as widely observed, I’d argue that the Abramelin working tends to cause more internal disruptions than external.

If your HGA isn’t disrupting you to the core, I think it might be questionable, at best. My experience, and essentially every record of the Abramelin I’ve read, talks about this. So when someone says they performed Samekh twice a day for two months, got the same result, and lost a job at the same time, I can’t help but think “Uh…no.” Heck, I magicked myself out of my job by summoning the Angel of Earth. That’s not a major disruption. (In fact, that tends to be a cliche in magick) Remember the HGA brings true wisdom, how you fail, and how to act. These aren’t simple things, remember that list? Your outlook on life, your view of the world, your understanding of cosmology, your ethics and your relationship with external morality, your connection and interaction with other people, your habits, it’s everything. For this ritual not to shake you to the core, to not destroy you and remake it requires one or two things. First, that our modern culture has all of this right, and second, that whatever isn’t right you’ve already worked out for yourself.

I would explain the Abramelin ritual as a massive undertaking in Social De-conditioning. Your outlook on life, as much as you want to think you decided on it with free will, you didn’t, you were given it piece by piece through every TV show you’ve ever watched, every book you’ve read, every song you listened to, everything your parents told you. You took all this, and you incorporated it, you rejected it, you negotiated with it, you synthesized it, you made it into something new and you weren’t aware of it, it’s all unconscious. Think of all the times you say or do something and suddenly realize “Oh my gods, I’m my mother/father” but really most of our thoughts and personalities are shaped by our social conditioning and what we slowly accept and reject over our lives. Now I will not claim I have overcome this, not by a long shot, but my Angel showed me how much of this is there, and has been giving me tools to work on this. Years after the ritual was complete and my Angel is still making me do things to change this world view.

Now I would also like to point out that if you’re thinking “Oh, that makes sense, but I have already dealt with that, noticed it, and my world view is my own” I would like to point out the third-person effect which states that people always think that these things apply to other people but not them, and generally (but here, not always) the people who are more sure that it doesn’t apply to them are actually more likely to be victims of it. So maybe you, or these people actually have actually dealt with this stuff, but never underestimate the human mind’s ability to deceive itself, and this is something I keep right in the front of my mind whenever I think about this stuff. (Actually that’s a good thing to always keep in mind with magick in general)

Okay, maybe this got close.

Okay, maybe this got close.

This goes for everything. Your ethics, they’re made up of everything you’ve seen, done, experienced, and if you think the Angel is going to reveal that you won the jackpot and just by chance those 80s/90s (or whenever) cartoons actually instilled the perfect balance of compassion and wisdom and strength into your personality, again, I’m going to doubt it. Your magickal world view, your mundane worldview, your personality is constructed (or shaped) by all of these things. This is what the ritual begins to break down, especially in the last trimester. This is the metamorphosis of the ritual, this is the point, not having a voice/presence stuck with you for the rest of your life, or until it fades away.

These are the types of things I’ve never seen addressed by people who have “achieved Knowledge and Conversation” by another means. Their disruptions are losing jobs, lovers, moving, periods of bad luck, illness, etc., and while all of these can be part of the Abramelin experience, they’re the window dressing to what is going on inside the ritualist. In fact, now that I typed it, everyone I know who lost a job or lover, or had to move, it wasn’t due to external factors, but internal ones. They realized they couldn’t work in that field anymore, they realized they didn’t love their partner, they realized they were attached to the wrong place and had to move, all of these disruptions were due to the internal upheavals. There are major internal upheavals as you go through it, I joked in a surreal way that the soundtrack of the Abramelin should be “Everything you know is wrong” by Weird Al. (Everything you know is wrong / Black is white, up is down and short is long / And everything you thought was just so important doesn’t matter) In my case my HGA challenged everything from my view on alcohol (I think I’m the only person who was told by their Angel to start drinking), to money and the poor, to how reincarnation operates, to how I treat my literal neighbours, to the very words I would use to define myself, those little labels we all think of as “Me.” Years later and I’m still unpacking all of this, years later and I’m still given whispers on things to do to break all these socially conditioned ideas and habits and attitudes so that my “true wisdom” as Abraham calls it, and how I am to succeed shine through. To use a phrase Polyphanes brought up in our discussion, these changes might be sunrise slow at times, but their triggers that break that self are as bright as stepping from Plato’s Cave. To use an unfortunate parallel it’s like being in a car accident while drinking, that incident shows you that you have a problem, but it will take you months, if not years, to come to terms with your alcohol issues.

Now granted, some people might be closer when they start to being in their Orbit, following their True Will, achieving Knowledge and Conversation, so maybe they won’t need as much work, or have to experience the same type of disruptions. Well, as above that’s exceedingly unlikely. Now if I were to completely interject my personal understanding on what Knowledge and Conversation is and does to you, if you came into this life in such a way that Knowledge and Conversation was not a challenge to achieve, and it didn’t or barely disrupted your life or your self, then you came into this life in your Orbit in the way that I would suspect only Bodhisattva/Enlightened figures do, and that just adds again to the unlikeliness to me. (Note: I do not conflate Enlightenment with Knowledge and Conversation, Enlightenment is something far beyond it. What I mean is that for a person to be able to reach their Orbit so easily that K&C isn’t disruptive is something on the level of mythic in my framing, though I admit that might be bias.)

So to bring this all back. I want to reiterate, when I say the Holy Guardian Angel and other potentially similar spirits are different, it’s not a value judgment it’s just a statement. Zomp isn’t better than seafoam (okay, the name is better) it’s just different. I also don’t think that people who have contacted their tutelary spirit aren’t undergoing interesting and great spiritual and personal revelations, I know I went through great things and upheavals when Mother came to me. Though (and here is where the egotism comes into it a bit) I don’t think most of these experiences compare to Knowledge and Conversation based upon the comparisons of these experience. It doesn’t mean they’re not great, but they’re definitely not the same and shouldn’t be labelled as such.


Wednesday Webshare: Exorcists, Experimenters, and Eclectics

2014/07/16

Mercury WebI blamed the chip dip, for the possession mentioned last time, while I was wrong about the dip I was right that it was a chemical contaminant and not spirits. Drinking tea spiked with Brugmansia (a hallucinogen used in South American Shamanism) was the culprit.

The Vatican appoves an international association of exorcists, I assume to handle all the drug-laced tea drinking Ouija board playing teenagers? Actually this is interesting, because it shows the Church is embracing, to an extent, the more mystical/magickal side of Catholicism which they’ve been distancing themselves from slowly over the last while

Like many occultists/magickians/pagans I find the traditional Wheel of the Year doesn’t work where I live. Toronto is a lot colder for a lot longer than the British Isles where the Wheel came from. Anyways Rua Lupa took it upon themselves to make one that is more universal. Here is an entirely redone Wheel of the Year based on Polar astronomy, complete with new months and days and holidays. While I don’t know if I’d adopt it personally (There is no one particular individual who possesses the right allocated time frame to partake in the activity in question) because I’m not in a community that uses the standard Wheel anyways, but I just love seeing innovation and experimentation.

Speaking of innovation and experimentation, my friend Polyphanes has realized/decided that the standard Qabalah doesn’t translate well with Greek, so he’s trying to build a “Greek Qabalah” which he calls the Kampala from the ground up. He’s been doing it for a while, and slowly introducing it. So go check that out, he just started talking about the Tetractys today.

Judge rules against creationist teacher who called Buddhist student’s faith ‘stupid’ and Christians around ‘Murica realized how oppressed they are…wait, no…not at all. Glad to see more reasonable voices prevailed.

A beautiful photo set of what Shamanism looks like in modern Peru. Really cool.

Jason Miller tackles being eclectic, and how it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I really enjoyed this, not just because of my own eclecticism, but because of how well he illustrates some of the ways it really doesn’t work, and how to be eclectic reasonably, and responsibly.

I’m pretty excited, another ancient temple discovered in Iraq, granted it’s only 2,500 years old, but I’m still interested.

The ancient skulls of children found buried near a lake in Switzerland. Perhaps an early offering to the lake gods? Interesting but short look at some evidence of early European religious beliefs.

As someone who meditates, and teaches meditation, I’m really not surprised that most people would rather do anything than sit and think for 15 minutes. Let’s face it, dealing with ourselves can really suck.


HGA: Clarification, Distinctions, and Defense

2014/07/13

If you missed what is the lead up to this post, catch it here.

A friend complained that my last post didn’t live up to my warning of it being controversial or egotistical, I hope this post or the next one will live up to that a bit more. As is, what I thought was going to be a two part post, is going to be at least three parts. I’d put it all up at once, but I know almost no one would make it through such a post, without the hit of cocaine required for some exceptionally verbose bloggers.

So I already made a basic case for my issue around people saying they established contact with their HGA, but before I continue I’d like to clarify some points as they came up with discussion with Rachel Izabella.

She raises the very good point that she isn’t sure if it is possible to really distinguish between the Holy Guardian Angel, and potentially similar figures like the Supernatural Assistant. I agree; if it is possible, it’s very tricky, these figures/terms aren’t clearly defined, and honestly when you get “up there” in the magickal realms things start to vague up a bit, but just because they’re hard to tell apart doesn’t mean we should label them the same thing.

Zomp. Now you know.

Zomp. Now you know.

It’s very hard to distinguish between seafoam green, aquamarine, sea green, and zomp (yes that’s a colour name) and their related colours, but that doesn’t mean we should consider them the same. If we can’t look at these colours and immediately tell them apart, the best way to know which is which is to mix it, and that way we can explain the differences. I can tell you how many drops of what colours to make any of these colours or on a computer I could give you the Hex code for it, and that is how we can tell the difference, when it might not be possible or easy with the naked eye. If it is made this way it’s seafoam, if it is made this way it’s zomp. So while I can’t say how these magickal tutelary assistant spirits are different, and I doubt anyone can that easily, it goes back to the idea that we can only tell them apart if we know how they’re made, the ritual process involved in establishing contact. This isn’t to say one is better than the other, I’m not implying that in the slightest, it’s not my Angel is Bigger/Has More Wings/More Eyes/Is More Fiery than your Angel, it’s just that I think they might not be worth conflating, especially when the experiences are so different…but maybe that’s more about contact than whom you reach?

Now contact is the basis of my secondary argument with people saying they’ve achieved Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel, and while I somewhat had this idea boiling in the back of my head, I have to thank Polyphanes for his conversation on this which helped clarify the issue.

Even though it’s cutting to the end of the argument he brought up the good question of “What does it matter if people misuse the terms?” Why care if their Knowledge and Conversation experience isn’t like mine or that their “HGA” is a different class of spirit from mine? Well a couple of reasons. First, but not the most important, is it is insulting to go through something that takes up so much of my life, and have someone say “Oh, I did 15 minutes of ritual a night for a few weeks and got the same result.” I should note this isn’t just about magick stuff though, think about your careers and have someone saying they could do it just as well cause they read a book on it, or could figure it out themselves. And granted in both cases some amazing people might actually be able to just step up and do it, but they are far far far in the minority that to give them a percentage would be overestimating them. Think about any achievement or training you’ve taken, and the inevitable “I could do that” or “I did that” statements come up. “Wow, you spent 12 years getting your black belt? I just taught myself watching Bruce Lee movies, I’m just as good as you.” It’s an insult, but it also shows how absurd some of the claims are in comparison.

The second reason is that it weakens the traditions. Now, this is always been a problem, people could make the same claim to spiritual/magickal realization and there isn’t anything you can necessarily do about it. In the past though these people were more the town charlatan (this implies a level of conscious deceit that I don’t think is there for most people claiming K&C) so their claims didn’t spread. Sure, the inept witch made witchcraft look silly for the village, but that was it. But now on the internet when anyone can blog or post on forums people who used to be the sole misguided person can now spread their misinformation to dozens and hundreds of people, and if they come off as reasonable/intelligent (and many can and do), people can buy into the idea that they can achieve with little effort too, and it becomes a cycle. Eventually Knowledge and Conversation becomes something that can be achieved in a weekend, and yes, I’ve actually seen descriptions for doing just that. So I think it’s important to clarify the potential differences between the spirits we contact and the mode and result of the communication.

Pretty much like this

Pretty much like this

I parallel it to the way Reiki has “degraded” in the West. Traditional Japanese Reiki requires work, study, and practice, it took me six years to be ready to start my “third degree” (technically not called that, but whatever). Now on the other hand you can go from Zero to Reiki Master again in a weekend, because what Reiki was and meant in the West has shifted; people deemphasized the bulk of the system and practice. It became about energy healing, not about personal growth and attaining Satori.

Related to that, there is just respect for the tradition. We don’t conflate other spiritual ritual experiences as being the same thing. Initiations into a Greek Mystery Tradition are different than initiations into a Tantric Buddhist practice, and we keep them that way. If people want to argue and make a case for how their initiations are doing the same thing, and getting to the same result, I would support that discussion, but I wouldn’t be a fan of someone outright declaring they are the same. That is part of the problem, people don’t seem to discuss it in terms of “My experience might be similar or comparable to Knowledge and Conversation” they say that they have Achieved it. Granted I have seen a few people who take that sceptical link, and I appreciate that, but pretty much all of them seem to fall short of the ritual results of people who performed the Abramelin, which again leads back to the question of why consider them the same? Reiki lost that respect for the tradition. What was a beautiful and elegant system of meditation with some energy work involved, was diluted and repackage to be a newage rainbow chakra plug-and-play energy healing system. Why? Well, there is a lot of stuff about Takata and what she did to Reiki, but you could say that what Reiki is or was, wasn’t held to any standards, and eventually anything with a basic similarity (Mikao Usui, Japanese, Energy Work) was allowed to be labelled Reiki and no one questioned why dissimilar elements and ideologies were working their way in.

I see Knowledge and Conversation going the same way as Western Reiki, people are deemphasizing the bulk of the system and focusing on what is arguably a minor part of the working, contacting the Angel.


Review: The Magus of Strovolos, by Kyriacos C. Markides

2014/07/10

magusThe Magus of Strovolos: The extraordinary world of a spiritual healer – Kyriacos C. Markides
Penguin, 1990, 222pp.., 9780140190342.

It is usual that I read a book and I’m so unsure what I think of it, but that’s exactly how I came out of reading “The Magus of Strovolos.” I first read it years ago during my Abramelin period, and the book still confuses and intrigues me having just reread it.

The book is a sort of student-teacher memoire in the same vein as Carlos Castaneda, except Markides’ teacher actually existed, just to start. Markides tracks down a man he had heard of his entire life, a man to whom a great variety of miracles were attributed to, and begins to learn from him and this book tells that story.

What confuses me and intrigues me is that this book has me vacillating between “this has to be bullshit” and “this is so true” so often and so quickly it’s hard to know what to think. This happens both in terms of the theories of spiritual/magick that Daskalos puts forth, and also the events he and Markides experience. (Note: Daskalos is just the Greek word for teacher, used as an alias for who was later revealed after the book was published as Stylianos Atteshlis) Daskalos is a Christian mystic, and in many ways that term could be applied loosely, he was definitely a devout Christian, but many of his beliefs run counter to that of contemporary Christianity, his beliefs in reincarnation and energy healing for instance, and beliefs that just fit awkwardly with Christianity: transportation, karma, magick, aliens, and the like.

The stories/miracles range everywhere from healings and possessions, to bilocation and communicating with aliens who are visiting Earth and using their assistance to prevent Skylab from falling anywhere it could cause damage. Sometimes the healing is what we’re more familiar with, other times he describes reaching into someone and dematerializing their bones, and filling in gaps in their bones to instantly fix spine problems. Regarding which I’m assuming people can see where my issue is, but it’s a bit worse than that, even the more outlandish stories have something to them, something in the description, in the experience or explanation that seems…right. Even when Daskalos is talking about something outlandish, even when it’s coded in the jargon of his system, it’s something that I can recognize as see the value too. I’m sure we all have a few really out there experiences, well Daskalos is surrounded by them, but the way they play out, the way they’re explained, they seem plausible, they seem to fit my understanding and worldview, even if their degree seems unrealistic.

What I appreciated in the text was Markides and his sense of skepticism, he wasn’t trying to convince the reader, but was relaying what he saw, and questioning what he could. Daskalos also had a bit of a skeptic in him, in the way he wanted things to be tested, but he admitted he couldn’t fully be skeptical anymore. “’How can I not be convinced? This is my life, my every-day reality. How can anyone who does not share similar experiences convince me that my world, my reality is illusory?’” (53) He also wasn’t trying to convince, or impress, he merely was a man recounting his experiences or his understanding/interpretation of them.

The same right/unrealistic balance goes for his theories on cosmology, some of them seem out there, but a lot of them seem in line with my own. In fact the system of Daskalos probably bears more similarities to my personally developed/intuited cosmology than most codified systems I’ve come across, and that’s a bit unusual in its own right. Regardless of how much is real, there is still value to the spiritual system he expounds, much like Castaneda’s work. If you’re looking for the tale of a modern mystic, a contemporary sage with bizarre skills, a modern magickian who can get results, then this is a book to read. Take it as you will, truth, embellishment, or total fiction, it is interesting and worth the read, and I feel that the story of Daskalos has been overlooked by too many and deserves some consideration from occultists. If you’re interested in his experiences you can find more about them in the books by Atteshlis himself or by looking into his order The Researchers of Truth.


HGA: Holy Guardian Angel, Naming Convensions and Concerns

2014/07/07

Depending on how people take this, this post may be the beginning of my most controversial and egotistical post set, but I’ll start with the simplest, which is really a transition into the issues regarding the next post on this.

So last week I was at a Halloween party (because that’s what you do in June when you have awesome friends) and I was complaining to a friend that “My Angel woke me up at 0430 yesterday.”

“Now when you say angel you mean…?”

“My Holy Guardian Angel.”

“Now when you say Holy Guardian Angel you mean…?”

“Knowledge and Conversation.”

“Achieved…?”

“Via the Abramelin working.”

“Why didn’t you try an easier or quicker route?”

“Cause then I couldn’t be sure I got the right result.”

A trend in magickal/religious practices for ever, but I’d say more so now with more communication and ideological liberalism, is syncretizing concepts. It’s how we bring peace to different systems and get them to work together, it’s how we justify borrow the nifty things from other traditions. Sometimes the syncretisation is really superficial and useless, other times it is profound. Then oddly sometimes we don’t syncretize things because we get hung up on language (usually of our own tradition), so despite the fact that most definitions of god would apply to Bodhisattvas or Orishas, a lot of people fight the idea of considering them gods. Sure there are some nuanced differences, but for the role they play and the like I’d argue that in general parlance they could share the categorization of “god” but understand that in more cultural specific practices they might not be interchangeable.

So sometimes we combine things under the same label, or the same category/process when they shouldn’t be, and sometimes we don’t when we should. Either way it can murky the water.

In the last week I’ve seen this happen in regards to Fae, Elves, and Tuatha, and I’ve seen it regarding Spirit Guides, Fetches, and Totems. What I want to focus on though is the Holy Guardian Angel. In Western occultism that generally refers to the spirit you come into contact with through the Abramelin ritual. Yet more and more I see people using it refer to other spirits that they have contacted in other ways. Sometimes spirits from other traditions are labeled as the HGA cause they seem similar: The eudaemon from the Greeks, or the Supernatural Assistant from the Greek Magickal Papyri, your guardian angel (as opposed to Holy Guardian Angel), the Fravashi, the Yidam, Godself, your Orisha, the higher self, and so on.

Are all of these the same things? I don’t think so, but I also can’t say for sure. Some of them seem pretty close, others are so distinct I wonder why people are making the connection. What I can say for sure is the only way to know that the spirit is the Holy Guardian Angel as described in the Abramelin and derivative texts, and not something similar, is to perform the Abramelin. It seems like a quibbling point, but it is true. This isn’t to say filing these things under HGA is wrong, but it could be, and is something I think people have to be more open to.

I don’t talk about it much, but that’s the reason I did the full Abramelin ritual; it is the only way I could be sure that the spirit I came into contact with is my HGA and not something similar. It’s a trite analogy, but think about getting directions to a beautiful spot on the beach to watch the sunset. If you follow those instructions you’ll find the spot, and see beautiful sunsets. If you look at the instructions and figure out your own route (or worse, just listen to the description of the destination and try to find it that way) then you might end up in the same place, but you could also end up a kilometre, or tens or hundreds of kilometres away, and while you might get a nice view, or even a beautiful view, it’s not the one you were going for.

So when people ask why I went the path of praying five hours daily, retreating from the world, confessions, sackcloth, ash, rituals, and all that instead of performing Crowley’s Samekh, or doing the Bornless One, or creating my own ritual to achieve Knowledge and Conversation, that is why. Anything else, I wouldn’t be able to say for sure got me the result I was looking for. Similar, or comparable, yes, but not necessarily the same.

Maybe my HGA is the same Supernatural Assistant I’d get from following the PMG route, or performing Samekh, but maybe not. This also doesn’t mean that everyone who performs the Abramelin achieves Knowledge and Conversation, and that’s not to mean it can’t happen other ways. I know people on both ends of that spectrum, but they tend to be exceptions, not rules.

My issue is not just about the spirit that is contacted, but the process of purification and unification that comes with it. It’s not just that the HGA as explained and contacted through the Abramelin might be a very specific spirit different from what is contacted via other routes, but the type of contact and what that means can also be very different, that communication/contact might be different than Knowledge and Conversation, but that, as they say, is a story-rant for another time.


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