Feast Day of Saint Carl of Sagan


On November 1st, the Feast of All Saints, Jason asked some of us “Who are your Saints?” and suggested people think of the “great Sorcerer Saints and Mystics that have come before, and upon whose shoulders we all stand.” I knew right away who one of my main saints is, despite not being a sorcerer, and by many perceptions of him, not a mystic or spiritual person at all.

For me today is a feast day, with an unconventional feast celebration, for an unconventional saint. Outside of a technical definition adhered to by Catholicism, it’s hard to define a saint. Catholicism has a complex system of slowly canonizing and investigating miracles to evaluate if a person could be a saint. (A modern idea within the Church, as many early saints were considered saints by the people, and essentially grandfathered in.) Within Buddhism we have a myriad of interesting saints, but no real structure into that definition. Exceptionally wise, and powerful tantric practitioners are called saints.

Crowley introduced the idea of the Gnostic Saints, people who, regardless of their background, seemed to in line with the spiritual path of Thelema, and his saints included people from different religions, poets, and mystics.

For me a saint is about the embodiment of understanding on a divine level, regardless of where it comes from. Like Crowley I have a list of Gnostic Saints, and while my own views are in line with Thelema, my Gnostic Saints are about gnosis, that radical understanding, regardless of source. It includes saints, and mystics, poets and artists, but also scientists and writers.

tumblr_mjecp7AS9j1qcten6o1_500[1]Probably my most important Gnostic Saint, is Carl Sagan. It might seem strange to have a saint that identified as agnostic (and by modern language might be more of an atheist), but to me there are very few people who embody a divine wisdom better than Carl. My path owes a great debt to saints, mystics, shamans, and sorcerers, but I cannot deny the debt it owes to scientists as well, especially those connected to the Cosmos the way Sagan was.

His show in the eighties, for which he is best known and served as my introduction to him, put forth some of the most beautiful expressions of cosmic interdependence from a scientific perspective, that it spoke to me, deeply. The line has become cliché and overused, but Sagan said it best “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

His vision of the Cosmos, all that is or was or ever will be, inspired me so much that when I did the Abramelin ritual I used Cosmos for the name of the ultimate divine. Every other word was either too loaded (god, vague, which one?), too culturally specific for my experiences (Brahma, Godhead), or too impersonal (Divine), but Cosmos…Cosmos suited. My path, named by a spirit years before the Abramelin, is known to me as the Starry Path, and the Cosmos, the literal physical universe has always been an important part of my path. As much as we might ascend the spheres of heaven on the astral to understand the universe, it is important to gaze into the heavens at the stars (same rootword as astral) to understand the universe.

I’ll let this introduction from his show speak for Sagan.

“There is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

I can’t help but feel a spiritual resonance with that idea. Far too many magick folk spend so much time focusing on the mystical subtle realms, that they don’t realize how astoundingly beautiful, complex, and divine the physical is. Sagan delves so deep into the wonders of the (material) universe that it becomes spiritual.

He understands the interconnection of all things, that we are literally made of molecules forged in stars, that the molecules in our bodies have all come from the same place, that all life on earth is connected in a vast family tree, and all phenomena in reality are part of a single entity, the Cosmos.

“And we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the Cosmos we’ve begun, at last, to wonder about our origins. Star stuff, contemplating the stars organized collections of 10 billion-billion-billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet Earth and perhaps, throughout the Cosmos.”

He contemplates the Oneness of everything to a degree that puts many spiritual folks I know to shame.

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”

So every year on this day, his birthday, I hold his feast. The celebration is simple.

Turn on an episode of Cosmos, while they’re all amazing for the more spiritual bend I recommend episode 1 (The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean), 2 (One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue), 9 (The Lives of the Stars) or 10 (The Edge of Forever, in which Sagan actually quotes from the Vedas).

My image of Sagan on a shelf of my Saint altar, complete with feast.

My image of Sagan on a shelf of my Saint altar, complete with feast.

While watching it eat the sacred foods of St. Carl of Sagan, a Cosmopolitan (I prefer the variation of using blue curacao, instead of Triple Sec. It tastes better and gives it a deep blue-indigo colour reminiscent of the night sky) and an apple pie (that you bought at a store or bakery, as one cannot make an apple pie from scratch, see episode 9 if that statement confuses you).

Lastly, go outside, find the darkest area within a reasonable distance, and look up at the sky. See our family slowly wandering above us. Remember was are starstuff, those lights are distant cousins. Reconnect to the Cosmos, remember we are in it, as much as it is within us.

HGA: Metamorphosis and Challenges


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.

HGA: Clarification, Distinctions, and Defense


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.

HGA: Holy Guardian Angel, Naming Convensions and Concerns


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.”


“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.

Hands of Holy Fire


Stage magicians take good care of their hands, it’s a habit I didn’t leave behind when I left the field. One thing I’ve started doing in the relatively recent period is using a salt scrub on my hands. Let me tell you they are marvellous. They scrub off dry/hard skin, they coat the fresh skin with moisturizing oil, and bring blood to the skin so it can repair itself. Sure your hands are a bit greasy for a while, but they’ll be so soft after a few repeated uses.

That’s not all though, I find they leave my hands positively buzzing with energy for a while. Maybe it’s because of the increased bloodflow and the links between blood and internal energies. Maybe it’s because it opens the pores a bit, allowing a greater flow to occur, if you subscribe to the model linking those ideas. Maybe it’s all in my head, but that’s fine, my head is an awesome place to be.

I decided to actively use this in some of my work, so I created my Hands of Holy Fire Scrub. It’s simple to make. 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of salt (“free running” or small granules), and six drops of Abramelin oil, mix and store in an airtight non-plastic container. This makes enough for a handful (harhar) of uses. I find when I scrub my hands with this I get more than the general energy buzz in my hands, but a very specific type of energy, a “flaming” sort that I associate with my HGA. To solidify this I usually say a prayer as I’m scrubbing my hands.

I find it useful to localize this energy in my hands for various reasons. While it’s not my typical “flavour” for healing I find using it for energetic healing work has produced some great results. Also a lot of my personal style of magick is based upon gestures relating to my internal vision projection. (I’ve been told many times it looks similar in motion to the tech in the movie Minority Report, which I’ve never seen, but from the trailer I can see the resemblance.) While I can use this style without the Hands of Holy Fire (in fact I don’t think my gestures do anything on an external scape but merely reflect an internal process) I do find with it I sometimes have greater bruteforce against somethings. Occasionally I’ll meet something I can’t manipulate, but with the HoHF I can continue to work in a lot of cases. Along with healing just having my hands this way when doing a cleansing seems to be a bit more effective. Consecrating, or handling, ritual items associated with the Cosmos flows a lot better when I’ve used the scrub.

Looking at the common three part self model this is a good way of linking body with spirit and mind, you’re physically rooting and connecting to the energy through the scrub (as the material and the action). I’m sure this could be adapted in other ways, as another mode of condition oil application, allowing more control/form as the energy pools around your hands. The same scrub can be made with sugar instead of salt, which might work better for attracting magick. Of course always make sure that the condition oil doesn’t contain anything that would react negatively if applied to skin, blah blah blah.

As always, toy, tweak, experiment.

Review: After the Angel – Marcus Katz


After the Angel: An Account of the Abramelin Operation – Marcus Katz
2011, Forge Press, 208pp B004XTJ0PA

Most magickians keep magickal diaries, very few of them are worth publishing, and even fewer see anything other than the magickian’s home. Marcus Katz shares his magickal diary from the six months he undertook the Abramelin ritual, and sought Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel. Very few books cover the ritual experience in such detail. It is refreshing to read the account of a magickian who did the ritual traditionally (or as traditionally as the modern world allows), rather than taking many of the shorter modern routes to the supposed same end.

Katz includes some of his process leading up to the ritual, the choice for performing it and the details behind it, he explains how his life changed after completely the ritual, but the bulk of the book is the journal he kept for those six months.

Early in the text Katz mentions “[i]f you are close to anyone and do not want to risk that relationship, do not undertake the Abramelin. It has to be performed when you seriously have nothing to lose” (26). Right away you become aware that this might not be a simple retelling, but something personal, and occasionally painful. Another way to see that, is an authentic account of the experience.

Each day is dutifully recorded and given a personal title by Katz. In reading the text there were a few times where I had to shake my head and put the book down because I found the similarity of experiences unnerving. While the external experiences of our Abramelin ritual could not be more different a lot of little things in the inner experiences matched up so clearly that I was shocked.

Katz has an insight to the ritual that I agree with; he calls it a “Self-Extracting Program” (40), that “the working is self-developing, like a fractal – once seeded, it opens up, unique to each Operation, but following the same intrinsic pattern” (37). It is personally fascinating to see where our Operations lined up, and where they differed, it was reassuring to read about the same reality hiccoughs, and the vacillation between ecstatic faith, and numbing doubt. The insight into Katz’s path and experiences is a great read for those like me who enjoy understanding how people interpret the world, and to observe the change in language and perspective as the ritual goes on it quite interesting.

This is not a book for someone wanting to learn the Abramelin, it is merely a recording of one man’s journey through it. To be honest I’m not sure if I’d recommend it for someone considering the ritual either, I’d be concerned of them reading about specific experiences and trying too hard to recreate them, rather than experiences what comes their way. That might seem overly cautious by I know one of my ordeals of the ritual was letting go of what I had expected during the Abramelin Operation, and letting life occur. For those who are curious of anyone’s experience on the Path, who want to understand and read the experiences behind the ritual, and maybe have walked similar it is definitely an interesting read.

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