Wednesday Webshare: Shamans, Doctors, and Mind-to-Mind Communication

2014/08/27

Mercury Web

Jason from Strategic Sorcery did an Ask Me Anything on reddit. It’s a disjointed read (it is reddit), but interesting, and funny. Personally I think the grimoire I’m working on will need some unicorn scrotum now…

Remember that Shaman gathering I mentioned? Here is a fascinating interview with a Russian shaman who was part of the events.

Here is a collection of 21 cool videos of sacred sites around the world filmed by drone. I love the view of Ankor Wat. Which is your favourite?

Alex Sumner reveals who the Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn really is. My response was to ask Who?

Help sponsor Chris Wilkinson translate a vast collection of Buddhist texts through gofundme (More crowdsourcing spirituality, the wave of the future)

I know I harp on articles about the brain and meditation…but a new study shows that Vajrayana meditation produce different responses in the body/mind than Theravadan meditations. Simplified for those less knowledge about Buddhism is shows that “Tibetan Buddhism” is doing something different than Buddhism that mindfulness meditation. Other than tummo isn’t not often studies focus on Vajrayana, so I’d be curious to see more on this.

Mummification starts nearly 1500 years earlier than previously believed.


Are blue eyes going endangered? (No) But some interesting information about where/when we think blue eyes arose. (And if you don’t know why this is relevant on this blog, get back to your Apocrypha)

First mysterious holes appear in Russia and now a huge crack appears in Mexico I think it’s safe to assume this is a sign of various Old Ones shifting in their sleep.

Scientists have found a way to email brainwaves. After a successful test sending “hola” and “ciao” the system was bought by a wealth prince from Nigeria who wants to help spread his fortune to the world.


Grimoire Purism: Logical, Rational, and Historical Considerations

2014/08/25

This entry has been stewing in my head for a bit, but reading Davies’s Grimoires really brought it out to the surface.

I’d call myself a Solomonic magickian, a lot of my work revolves around the communion with spirits from grimoires in that style. Yet unlike many I don’t think I’m really “bound” to one text. Granted most of the grimoire spirits I use are from Book I of the Lemegeton, the Goetia, but my summoning circle is based on a design from the Heptameron, using Angel and Godnames I spent over two years skrying, my robes are adorned with the Shem ha’mephorash around the edge, and a variety of angelic and demonic seals on the chest and sleeves. So even though I’m Solomonic, my practice in that regard is all over the place a little.

Why? Because it works. There are some people that this boggles greatly, grimoire-purists. We’ve all seen them, people who are convinced that grimoires can’t and don’t work unless you perform everything exactly to the letter. (These are most notably though people who despite this claim lack the fame, fortune, and harem of King Solomon.)

Now, do not get me wrong, I believe grimoires should be used by the book, or as close to as possible until you are proficient with them. I wouldn’t say everything in them is absolutely necessary, but until you know how they work (and that takes experience, not educated guesses based on other systems or your intuition or lack of drive) I recommend keeping as much of the system intact as possible when you use it. Some things are most definitely symbolic I’d say, others are more relative, others might not be important at all, and some are crucial. If I gave you a recipe for amazing cookies, you shouldn’t make substitutions until you’ve made them my way and think I like my cardamom a bit too much. Follow the recipe the first several times, then you have a sense on what can be shifted.

This is where I get trapped in the middle ground. On one hand “Follow the book” on the other hand “Don’t be a slave to it.” What I wanted to address through was some of the issues with the notion of Grimoire-Purists.

Basically, why do you assume the text is right? Just because King Solomon (didn’t) write it, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. How many of us would pick up any modern occult book and say “The author is 100% right, and we have to do everything as they say or it won’t work”? If you’d do that with any magickal text I think you should re-evaluate your critical thinking skills.

As a subset of that issue, just because it is right, doesn’t mean it’s the only way it can be right. Sure, frankincense might be the right incense to summon a King of the Sun, but that doesn’t mean copal wouldn’t work, wouldn’t work just as well, or even better. Right does not have to be this binary exclusive category. Tied into this is the realism of it being 100% exclusively right. Just because my cookie recipe is awesome doesn’t mean you couldn’t make awesome cookies using a variation on my recipe. Good cookies are good cookies. One thing that came up recently in a discussion group around Solomonic magick is the necessity of wearing a belt made of lion skin. People battled back and forth on why it was or wasn’t necessary, names were called, it was the internet. I made a comment, which largely got glossed over though. Lions are going extinct, and while they’re doing better than they were 15 years ago, they’re still endangered. What happens when the last lion is killed? What happens when the last piece of lion fur deteriorates with use and age? Will these spirits then be forever beyond our ability to communicate with? It seems silly, but that’s the way some people think about it when they go hardcore grimoire-purist.

Lastly I want to question the idea of the texts being 100% right from a historian’s perspective. One of the first things I was ever taught as a historian was “Cui Bono” meaning “To whose benefit?” or “Who benefits?” Thousands, and millions of documents have been lost since humans started writing, and each one that survives there is a reason. The first question a historian asks is “Cui Bono” who benefits from this text still existing? Why was this text preserved when others weren’t? In the case of magickal and religious texts you can say belief, divine intervention, or because it works.

The trouble with this notion is not all texts were preserved on purpose, and not all were lost on purpose. For instance the autohagiography of Christina of Markyate was preserved by chance. The only known copy was in a house that caught fire, and it was one of the few texts near the window that the owner saved by throwing it out before having to flee the fire. If not for its random placement in the library we would have lost the first example of Self-Insert Biblical Fanfiction.

Did grimoires survive by luck or human choice? Well, according to Davies they survived by sheer volume. Why were there so many grimoires though? Because they were big business, forbidden texts that teach you to find treasure and get laid, who wouldn’t want that. The trouble is twofold though, not every person who manually copied the texts, or later every printer, had access to the grimoires, and eventually if there are only two or three or whatever grimoires, soon enough everyone who wants them, will have them, or know how to do what it is them. What is the solution to these problems? Make up grimoires, and that’s exactly what happened. As an idealist you can look at the similarities to grimoires and say that shows a continuation of thought and practice, and to some extent that might be right. What it probably shows more often is plagiarism. You own two grimoires and a book on herbs. Well include the prayers and circle from one text, the spirits from the second text, and mix in the herbs from the third, then make up a story about how some great mystic wrote it, it was found somewhere amazing, and boom, next grimoire craze.

Now the tricky part is, just because its random stuff cobbled together doesn’t mean it doesn’t work (doesn’t mean it will either). Here is the thing though, we know virtually nothing about these grimoires and their creation, we have myths, and ideas, and historical theories, but we don’t know. For all we know the Heptemeron or the Lemegeton were just forgeries crafted by a bored innkeeper looking to make some extra money, and by fluke they became popular, printed in large numbers, and got preserved.

So if you’re considering being a grimoire purist, think about the issues, rationally and historically with that, and see where it takes you. Remember, I do advocate trying to be as much by the book as possible, especially until you’ve worked with the system, but don’t assume that everything in it is 100% right, and that right information is exclusive of all other.


Review: Grimoires, by Owen Davies

2014/08/21

51Mp9yLSz1L._SL160_[1]Grimoires: A History of Magic Books – Owen Davies
Oxford, 2010, 368pp., 9780199590049

If you’re an academically and/or history driven ceremonial magickian, then Grimoires is a book you really need for you collection.

After reading a few reviews about this book, I feel I have to make one point clear: This is an academic text, this is not a book about magick, it is not how to understand or use the grimoires, it is a look at the texts, the social influences on them, historical documents, and how they have changed over time. If you want an overview of grimoires for your magickal practice, look elsewhere.

Davies covers the history of grimoires, going as far back as we can and still understand the texts as grimoires, arguably sometime around the BCE/CE crossover, up until the present day. Along this journey he touches on a variety of factors that influenced the grimoires. It would be too easy to conceive of them as something isolated in the field of magick, but they’re not. Grimoires grew and were shaped by pressures from the Church, by popular fiction, by technology, cultural exchanges, and perhaps something spiritual. “They not only reflected the globalization of the world but helped shape it.” (5) Davies doesn’t write as a magickian, doesn’t write as a believer, but as a historian analyzing the texts and the histories, and that’s to the benefit of this book, otherwise it would be too easy to assume lines of thought persisted only due to magickal reasons.

When we think of grimoires we tend to think of the same handful over and over, but what really intrigued me was how many grimoires were identified and created in the Middle Ages. All of the text was interesting, but the interplay of the grimoires and the medieval Church were really fascinating. Davies covered how various grimoires survived, but more importantly why they were used, and how they were viewed. You could see some of the push and pull around the Church and the grimoires, as both an organization threatened by their existence, and yet obviously making use of them. In that same period Davies makes a case for the “democratizing” magick through the printing press.

Another plus for the book is that lot of magickal histories tend to drop off in the Renaissance, pick up with the Golden Dawn, maybe address the OTO, and then jump to the present. Davies on the other hand covered all that time between, as grimoires flowed into North America, becoming pulp books sold everywhere, in mail order catelogues even, and how they were a part of rural American cultures right up into living memory. This type of continuous thread of thought and practice is just what he traced from the earliest records, through the Dark Ages, into the Renaissance, to the present.

The data itself in this book is amazing, unfortunately Davies has a habit of throwing in random knowledge which seems less to illustrate a point, and more to illustrate his knowledge of something obscure. At first these little side-trips were interesting, but by the end of the book these details felt like they were detracting from the big pictures. When discussing an interesting text, there will often be an inclusion of one of the more unusual spells, even when it is irrelevant to the discussion of the text itself.

As someone who recently finished a university degree in History, with my final paper on Liber Iuratus Honorii, I found this book an excellent resource for creating the context and background for my paper. As a ceremonialist magickian I find this book invaluable to help me centre my practices both in their own magickal tradition, as well as a historical reality.


Magickal Diaries: Truth-speakers, Old Friends, Wise Teachers

2014/08/18

Hello, I want my book. Bonjour, je veux mon livre.

If I have one regret about my magickal career: I didn’t start journaling sooner, and didn’t really know what I was doing with my journal for the first few years. The earliest magickal diary of mine that I can find is from 2006. I’m sure I kept records earlier than that, but maybe not. If not it boggles me that I waited so long to start. I know I recorded individual events from earlier on, but nothing complete.

A handful of my diaries

A handful of my diaries

Recently I’ve been rereading my magickal diaries as part of climbing trees for apples instead of grabbing fallen ones from about the field (Dear HGA: Be a grown-up spirit and use your words). What I have found has been so very insightful, and surprising, and it reminds me, this is one of the many reasons to keep journals.

I found conversations with gods and spirits I had forgotten, sometimes their lessons had been integrated into my life and my Work, other times I reread what they told me, and realize eight years later I’m still making the same mistakes because I forgot and moved on.

Some things surprise me, like dreams of Tubal-Qayin eight years ago, when I wasn’t even working on that Path yet, or patterns/symbols/figures showing up long before they became consciously part of my life. (Oh ye gods, so many peacocks…) Or a Vision of Mother giving me Kalagni, years before I picked it up as a pseudonym, and I had forgotten.

I found techniques I’ve forgotten, but records show were effective.

Perhaps more importantly I’ve found things that were ineffective, or areas I’ve always had difficulty with. Money magick, I’ve had a knack for shifting things to get what I need when needed. Sex and romance magick, excellent results. Job magick on the other has routinely been hit-or-miss, with more on the miss side. I find that interesting, and while I don’t know the reason (bad strategies, money is more open-ended, there just aren’t enough jobs and magick only does so much, whatever) it’s something for me to consider. It’s also something I can take solace in as I’m job hunting right now, and even with magick my results have been less than encouraging.

This is something I talked to a friend about recently though. He’s more of the fly by the seat of his pants energy focused magickian, so journal keeping seems alien to him. In the time I’ve known him I’ve seen him pull a few rabbits out of his hat, I’ve also seen a few situations that have me feeling like Rocky the Squirrel. The thing is, his opinion is “I don’t need to record my stuff, I want, I work, I get what I want.” He completely glazes over his failures. He might not be doing it on purpose or in an ingenuous way. Think of intuition, if you suddenly think of someone, and run into them, why that’s something you’ll note and remember, but if you think of them and don’t run into them, then you forget the next day. You’re not trying to be dishonest about your intuition, it’s just you’re not going to remember a non-event generally.

Still looking for this book

Still looking for this book

Magickal failures, unless they’re spectacular blow outs (like frying your first laptop, flooding your basement…twice), are not going to be remembered as easily as the successes. Not because we try to forget, but when cause doesn’t have an effect our mind doesn’t link the event (magick working) and the non-event (failure) and so we forget all about it. Obviously we shouldn’t dwell on our failures, but we really should be aware of them. It teaches us where our magick is weakest, be it a realm of magick (like Martial magick or job work or healing) or if it is a specific technique (scrying or invocation) and this opens up two options. It lets us see where we need to improve or perhaps shift things around to get them to work, or maybe it tells us not to focus somewhere and that be the area we ask for help in. It’s come up before, but not every occultist can or will be good at everything, and while I think we should work on some degree of proficiency, we should also know when it’s better to turn to someone more skilled than we are.

Your journal doesn’t have to be supercomplicated, I had a period of six months were mine was, it wasn’t worth it, but make sure it’s complete. Record your dreams, record your practice, record anything out of the ordinary, if a ritual feels weak or weird or powerful, record your visions. More importantly though, don’t record and forget the magickal diary, come back to it. I reread my Abramelin journals every year just before my anniversary, and I love it, and now that I’ve reread all my journals for the last 8 years I have a lot to think on, and arguably I learned more from rereading them, then I’d learn from any other magickal text you’d give me.


The Sphinx Gate Tarot Spread: Book Edition

2014/08/15

AURYNAURYN

nesO[1]ver on Conjure Gnosis Balthazar recently posted a tarot spread based on The Sphinx Gate from The Neverending Story. I highly recommend you check it out.

Considering how important The Neverending Story is to my occult cosmology I can’t believe I had not thought of a tarot spread based on it, though I have worked out all the Majors as characters and events. (Seriously, I have 28 pages of notes on how it’s actually a mystical/occult text, I reread it ever year, and have an AURYN pocketwatch, based on the movie design, because that’s the only thing better about the movie.) Anyways Balthazar did a great job, with one fatal flaw…he used the dreaded movie!

I know I know, everyone born in the late 70s and 80s loves the movie, and as a standalone movie it’s pretty damn good…but if you read the book you realize how horrible the movie is. The movie only tells half the story, and worse still it tells the setting, it paints the picture for the real story which takes place after Bastian renames The Childlike Empress, after the movie ends. I’m digressing. Anyways, I like what Balthazar did, and the inclusion of Gmork and Falkor cards is a great idea, but I’m a book purest in this regard, and the Gates are different in the book than the movie, the movie removed one of them even, so I thought I would alter his spread to be in line with the book. Inspired by his work, I shifted the meaning of some of the cards, and added in the No-Key Gate, the hardest gate to pass through.

*********[G]***********

*****[5]******[4]******

*********[3]***********

*********[2]***********

*********[1]***********

*********[F]***********

nesE[1]verything Atreyu did was for his a quest to stop the Nothingness, which leads him to the Southern Oracle. This spread is for when we’re on our own quests, when we have goals to reach. My few experiments have shown it is more insightful for quests regarding our inner self, than external world, but that could just have been me with my readings.

So think of your quest, and deal down the cards, 1-5, and then F and G. The F card is Falkor and the G card is Gmork, they’re extra cards and only one may be used in the spread.

Card 1: The Great Riddle Gate: What do I have to answer before proceeding on my quest?

The Great Riddle Gate is very abstract, that’s why the simplified it in the movie. The sphinxes stare at each other, sending out riddles, all the riddles of the universe. Anyone caught in the stare of the sphinxes is frozen to the spot, unable to move until they have solved every riddle in the universe. Obviously no one ever does, so they perish. Only if the sphinxes close their eyes can you pass.

So the first card asks “What do I have to answer before proceeding on my quest?” The sphinxes aren’t giving you all the riddles, but if they’re going to close your eyes you have to know the answer to this one. These often seems to be about motivation or preparation. Question why do you want this quest, are you ready for it?

Card 2: The Magic Mirror Gate: Who am I really?

“When you stand before it, you see yourself. But not as you would in an ordinary mirror. You don’t see your outward appearance; what you see is your real innermost nature. If you want to go through, you have to – in a manner of speaking – go into yourself…I’ve known travelers who considered themselves absolutely blameless to yelp with horror and run away at the sight of the monster grinning out of the mirror at them…What some saw was not so frightening, but it still cost everyone one of them an inner struggle.”

Who are you, really? The result is somewhat quest dependant too, so what is this quest showing you about your true self, what aspect is it highlighting. Is it something that terrifies you, makes you uncomfortable, surprises, disappoints, or delights you?

If this card is very negative, this is when you flip over the Falkor card. I will quote Balthazar directly here

“Falkor is Atreyu’s luck dragon and always believes in Atreyu because he knows his true potential – as such he represents what the Greeks called the Agatha Daimon (the good guardian angel). The Falkor card in the spread represents your ideal self, your highest potential – what you CAN become. This card should ALWAYS be interpreted its most empowering light. If the truth revealed by either gate is disheartening allow the Falkor card to balance your vision of yourself, so you can integrate the knowledge of your total being and thus grow stronger in your quest.”

 

(I would also point out that his assessment as Falkor as the Agathd Daimon is spot on. “From now on you’ll succeed in everything you attempt. Because I’m a luck dragon.” He is Atreyu, and Bastian’s Supernatural Assistant however you want to parse that. All the more telling because Atreyu meets his suspended over an Abyss, and has to get past Ygramul, the Many, who is quite clearly Choronzon.)

nesI[1]f on the other hand Card 2, the True Self is very positive, it is time to flip over Gmork.

 

“Gmork is the agent of the Nothing bent on destroying Fantasia (your dreams). The Gmork card shows you where you could potentially stumble in your quest, your weaknesses or your blind spot. It represents what the Greeks called the Caco, or Evil, Daimon – this is the shadow self. The parts which are hidden, denied or toxic. By bringing any positive revelation given by the gates into balance with the message of the Gmork card you can achieve greater balance and personal power.”

 

Gmork, as an agent of the Nothing, spreads hopelessness with him, but is in understanding his nature that Atreyu actually regains his hope. Read the Gmork card as negatively, that which interferes inside of you, what you overlook, what takes away your will, your hope, but understand that you need to recognize that to overcome it.

Falkor reminds us what is great about us when we feel lost and worthless. Gmork reminds us what is still unbalanced, misdirected, and negative inside of us.

Card 3: The No-Key Gate: What do you have to give up to complete the quest?

“The No-Key Gate is closed. Simple closed. And that’s that! There’s no handle and no doorknob and no keyhole. Nothing. My theory is that this single, hermetically closed door is made of Fantastican selenium. You may know that there is now way of destroying, bending, or dissolving Fantastican selenium. It’s absolutely indestructible. Fantastican selenium reacts to our will. It’s our will that makes it unyielding. But if someone succeeds in forgetting all purpose, in wanting nothing at all- to him the gate will open of its own accord.”

In order to pass through the No-Key Gate Atreyu had to forget everything, who he was, why he was on a quest, and even that he wanted to pass through the gate. It was only through his connection with Bastian that he was able to make that final journey. What do you have to give up to complete the quest? What is holding you back? It might be something negative, but it could even be something that seems positive, but doesn’t fit this situation. Atreyu remembered everything when he passed through the gate, so whatever you give up can be something reclaimed, but what has to be put aside for you to finish the quest?

Cards 4 and 5: The Southern Oracle: The secret to completing your quest, and the actions to take.

Here you meet Uyulala, the Voice of Silence, the Southern Oracle. The Oracle provides you with an answer, and it comes in two parts. The first is the fourth card, what is the secret to completing your quest, what do you have to do? The fifth card the concrete action to do now. The fifth card can also manifest as the next step in a smaller quest to finish to finish this greater one. Don’t be surprised though, no quest was ever completed just by knowing the path, the hard part is to walk it.

(For those comparing spreads I put Falkor and Gmork in different positions. I put Falkor beneath or before the Great Riddle Gate, because Atreyu encounters him before the gate in the web of Ygramul and it’s their interaction that gets him to the gates. Gmork on the other hand is found in the Spook City, which occurs after, so I thought I’d put them linearly.)

Also, if you’ve never read the book do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. It is on my list of books all occultists should read.


High Priestess Sadhana: Self Generation

2014/08/12

This is a sadhana I was requested to write for my lama. A sadhana is a Buddhist ritual, over-simplified but true. Depending on the type of sadhana there is a set formula they follow, like any ritual tradition, and the methodology and cosmology behind them isn’t exclusively Buddhist. My lama believes that the Western Mystery Traditions are like yoga for Westerns, and that the tarot contains all the archetypes you need for spiritual realization. So what he wanted to do was to combine Tarot imagery with Buddhist sadhana structure, to use Buddhist technology with images and archetypes that are more familiar and acceptable/accessible to the average person in the Western world. So I wrote him this.

This is a basic self-generation sadhana, which in Western lingo would basically be an invocation. Normally you’d be given an empowerment by a lama, some explanation, and some training to do a ritual in a Buddhist context. In the empowerment the lama would “implant” the energy or Seed of the being into you, so that you can then call on them. Alas, most lamas don’t have High Priestess empowerments so it’s not an option. So this script serves as a visualization for generating and embodying the nature and force of the High Priestess, it might lack the “punch” of a proper sadhana due to the lack of initiation involved, but if you work with it you can build that connection on your own without the empowerment. (And from there offer it to others, which actually was discussed at one point)

One of the hardest parts in creating this was coming up with syllables for Creation, and the mantra. In Buddhist ritual every time you create something major in the visualization there is a syllable that accompanies it, from a PAM appears a lotus, from a RAM a sun disk. We didn’t want to lift those syllables, and they wouldn’t work (what tarot card has a sun disk or skull cup?) and they don’t come with mantras. They do come with their own Seed Syllable though, the Hebrew letter. So what we decided on was breaking down the letter, into all the letters needed to spell it, and rearrange them to make the syllables. (Gimel is Gimel Mem Lamed, so the syllables and mantras are different combinations of G, M, and L in this case) It’s not perfect, and I want to rework it, but it works for now. Also some of the descriptions and wording is very Buddhist, it’s hard to shake the tone, but I think it is still clear without a background in Buddhism what is meant and intended. You should know what a Gimel looks like as you’ll visualize a few of them.

My lama prefers the BOTA deck, so the image was taken from it, it’s almost the exact same as the Smith-Rider-Waite tarot. The point of this is to clear your mind, draw the High Priestess into you, abide in her mindstate, take into yourself her gifts, and with experience wield the power of her archetype when embodying it. Oddly enough my lama prefers the BOTA deck and has all the books about it, but isn’t a member of the BOTA. I on the other hand was a member, but don’t have all the books, so we balanced out. The meaning of the High Priestess is also drawn from Case’s understanding of her.

-=-

bota-tarot-key-2[1]Begin by performing some basic mindfulness meditation to clear, slow, and focus your thoughts and ready yourself for the visualization. See everything in the room melt into light and fade away.

From empty space a Gimel appears, deep blue in colour, it radiates outwards becoming a tranquil ocean.
From the sound GAM appears a yellow square resting motionless on the surface of the ocean. From the sound MAL a grey cube arises in the centre of the square. And from a GAL appears two pillars on either side, one white and one black each topped with a lotus sculpture. Between them drapes a curtain decorated with pomegranate fruits and leaves.

Above the cube rests your consciousness in the form of a Gimel, deep blue in colour. From it light shines out, carrying with it a calming wisdom to all sentient beings. The light is drawn in again, and the Gimel, you, become the High Priestess sitting on the cube. Behind you stretches the curtain, to your left is the white pillar, and to the right is the black pillar and you rest between them as a point of balance. You wear an inner robe of pure white, over which appears a deep blue cloak resting on your shoulders and flowing down past your feet, transforming into water, connecting you to the ocean. You are the ocean, and the ocean is you, you are but a ripple on the surface. In your right hand rests a rolled up scroll marked with the word TORA, the Law, and your left hand rests peacefully in your lap. A white veil hangs from the sides of your head, which is topped by a silver crown in the shape of two horns with a sphere resting between them.

On the centre of your chest appears an equal-armed cross, glowing with the radiant white light of a full moon, and at its center appears another blue Gimel. Around the Gimel see three blue spheres of light representing the syllables of her mantra LAM LAG MAG. Repeat her mantra and let it bring about a state of equipoise and stabilize the image. LAM LAG MAG.

These lights shine out of the Gimel activating the cross, which then bathes the ocean in the cold white of a full moon. The light dispels confusion, forgetfulness, and ignorance, leaving the surface of the ocean perfectly calm and clear to the depths. In turn the ocean reflects the light out into the Cosmos clearing away the confusion, forgetfulness, and ignorance of all sentient beings, illuminating them and guiding them back to their personal wisdom, to the store house of knowledge in their unconsciousness.

The light is drawn in again, dissolving the ocean as it goes. The ocean dissolves into the yellow square. The curtain behind you dissolves into the pillars, which in turn dissolve into yellow square. The square dissolves up into the cube upon which you sit, which in turn dissolves into the water flowing from your robes. The scroll and the crown melt into light and pour into you, your entire being glows with their light and then melts into the moon white cross on your chest. The cross dissolves into the blue Gimel at its heart which glows with the light of the ocean and the moon. Finally the Gimel dissolves into Nothingness.

Rest in meditation until your thoughts naturally emerge.


Pushing the Plateau

2014/08/09

Last week I talked about how most of the time it’s the practitioner and the practice, not the tradition that makes for a good occultist. I’d like to build on that now, with part of what makes a good occultist, dealing with the plateaus and moving beyond.

SONY DSCHrafn from the Weaving Wyrd (who needs to post more) wrote a good piece on The Okay plateau and the Occult. Now I recommend you read what they wrote, but I’ll give you the Abyss Notes Version.

With any skill -physical, mental, or magickal- we practice and train up until a certain point, and then we tend to slow down or slack off. We often think that we’ve gone as fair as we can, that we can’t improve, but really there are a lot of factors to why we stopped improving.

Anyone who has been doing magick for several years probably knows this feeling. You feel like you aren’t progressing, or you can’t progress. Maybe you feel like there is nothing else to learn. Perhaps it has become so normal in your life that you’re no longer enamoured with your Arte. We go through the routine daily practices, but go nowhere.

Hrafn suggests four great ways of dealing with it
• Keep a Journal
• Back to the Basics
• Attend a Periodic Workshop
• Find a Group

I would give a resounding yes to all of them.

I’m writing this because I feel I’ve been at an Okay Plateau for several months, and it’s only in the last month that I’ve gotten through it. (Dread Lords of the Abyss have I gotten through it…)

So without trying to copy Hrafn’s plan, I did all of the above. During my Saturn Retrograde hell I stopped journaling. Journaling is tedious, and boring, but it’s also magickal accountability. Any magick that didn’t work during the months I didn’t journal, I don’t remember, so I can pretend everything went awesome. Now that I’m journaling if something doesn’t work, I can’t forget it, the record exists. This forces me to face it, reevaluate it, and figure out why it didn’t work, and thus improve. (Also, reread your magickal journals every once and a while, you’d be amazed as the wisdom you’ve forgotten.)

Under orders from my HGA I’m not allowed to buy new books (something about apples and fields and trees) so I’ve been rereading old books, like Magus of Strovolos and Hands of Light, and it’s refreshing to touch base with old important books, much like your journals seeing the wisdom and skills you’ve forgotten.

I attended and presented at the same occult convention Hrafn mentions, took great classes, and spent a weekend talking shop with great occultists and experimenting.

I found some nifty new occultists online to talk to. Personally I’d rather a group in Toronto to work with, but I’ll take what I can get.

That all said, there are a few things additional ideas I’d like to suggest for the Okay Plateau.
• Different directions/model
• Work a system/book
• Combine systems
• 110

This model needs to change...

This model needs to change…

First off: Switch your Model. If you’re unfamiliar with the Models of Magick proposed by Frater U∴D∴ you can read this article on Spiral Nature (A more complete explaination is in his book High Magic which I recommend, but isn’t necessary for this post). Basically all forms of magick can be framed through four different lenses. (And it’s become vogue to bash his system by people who haven’t even read the works, advanced or simple on the models, and don’t know know what they’re talking about) Chances are your practice or world view focuses on one of them, switch it up. That can mean either including new practices, or reframing what you do. If you do pure energy work, try using a spell format for what you want to do instead, make an incantation and use physical material in your work. If you do conjurations try interpreting what you do via the information model or calling the spirit by drawing/attracting their energy. If your work is psychological magick, switch the process/interpretation to energy work. Do this for a week, a month ideally. The intent isn’t to convert you, but more broaden your perspective a bit, and even if you go right back to what you were doing before, you very well might find that period has pushed you forward when you thought you were stalled.

When I was working on my physical fitness I plateaued at being able to do 120 pushups, just couldn’t break that point. So what I did was I started changing my hand positions, sometimes I did pushups with my hands touching, or father apart, or unevenly spaced with one farther up than the other. These new pushups sucked! I couldn’t do nearly as many, because they were hitting a lot of different, but related/connected muscles, that I didn’t use. After a few weeks of toying around like that, I went back to normal pushups and beat 120. In some ways the models are like that, and when we shift our model work, just for a while, you work magickal muscles you rarely use, which in turn strengthen and support the muscles you have, letting you break your plateau.

Work a new/old system or a book. The rational here is pretty much the same as the above. Pick a book, or a system, old or new, the less related/connected to your system the better, and work through it. I recently did this with Christopher Penczak’s Inner Temple of Witchcraft. That book is frankly and politely not my style in the slightest. But I read it, and performed every exercise in the book, albeit in a shortened period of a week and a half when he suggests a year and a day. So I tried all his meditations, called the Goddess, did some candle magick, wrote petitions, practiced basic energyballs. It’s a 101 book for his version of witchcraft, completely different from what I do, and what I like* so it was perfect. It forced me to do new things, different things, and the basics and while there may be only one thing in the book that I go back to (which was ironically one of my first energy techniques I stopped using), I found it useful to work through it. It flexed my muscles in new ways, and over that week and a half I felt my daily routine pick up steam it hadn’t in a long time. Or if you’re a tarot reader for instance grab all those little white books that you hate that came with your deck. Most decks have a unique/cheesy theme spread, work your way through all of them, use the book to re-reference the meanings, see how that goes.

*I find it odd, most interviews with Christopher I adore his stuff, and he’s a friend of a friend, and the friend vouches for what he can do and what he knows, but his books just don’t cut it for me.

Not all combinations are good, but at least you learn.

Not all combinations are good, but at least you learn.

Combine systems and practices. More of same rational, do something old in a new way. Plateaued? Combine two of your practices. Ceremonialist who reads tarot? Summon the spirit of a card they way you would an Angel. Rootworker and Mindfulness practitioner? Sit on the cushion with an herb, breathing it in and out, see what it does. Maybe you’ll find something awesome to teach and share, maybe you’ll feel like an idiot for the attempts, but it both flexes though related muscles, and has you experiment, the best way to do magick. Mix traditions, mix practices, meditate on the Name of your patron god, invoke an herb spirit, use your kitchen witch baking for divination, whatever.

110%. So obvious, so cliché, so true. We plateau because we think we’ve hit the limit, shift the limit. It’s easier with some practices than others, but you can always push harder. If you pray for 10 minutes a day, make it 15. If you meditate for 20 make it 25. If you perform offerings for your spirits include something new on top of the usual. If you say 400 mantras a day, make it 500. Whatever you do, just do it a little bit more. It has to be enough that you notice (10 minutes of meditation becoming 11 does nothing, 15 is noticeable) and it pushes you. Again, you don’t have to stay this way, just do it for a week or month and it will help things come into place. (Also, yes, those are not literal 110%, the point is increasing your effort)

Having just broken through an Okay Plateau, I know they’re one of the most frustrating periods you’ll go through as a magickian, but it happens to us all. The key is as a good and wise practitioner, we know this, and we know how to break through. Keep going, Work harder, Work smarter, Work more, and you’ll break through the plateau, and oh from there the places you’ll see.


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