Wednesday Webshare: Crowley, Curses, Charms, and Coincidences

2014/09/17

Mercury WebRecently the earliest known Crowley document has been found. It’s his broken-heart love poetry after breaking up with Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt. As much as I really like Crowley, his poetry has never been his strong suit, and his earlier stuff even more so. Though the phrase “fiercer form than thirsty stallions amorous” will be hard to forget. (Also, I’ll make the totally false claim that Crowley thus led to the modern usage of thirsty to mean horny)

10 of history’s most fascinating sorcerers, including some I haven’t heard of, though there were a few I would have rathered be on the list. (Like me, do you know how fascinating I am? Wait, did I say fascinating? I meant egotistical and slightly deluded)

Old women in Hong Kong, will curse for money. What I found interesting in the article was the fact that it’s clear these women don’t believe in their magick, and it doesn’t sound like their customers do either, and yet they’re still popular. (Whereas some sorcerers for hire like me don’t get nearly that business, and I tend to expect results when I work :-p)

Ananael Qaa tackles the invocation/evocation battle which is popping up again. I agree with his point, the terms are largely synonymous historically, so I don’t see why making a slight distinction between them for different aspects of the same concept is such a huge deal.

An artist prints a selfie with his own blood. That sounds like it would be a fantastic magickal proxy for him.

Why is the ALS challenge so popular? Mainly because Satan is behind it. (Apparently this means Satan wants to cure ALS, and YHWH wants people to suffer from it and die)

Many great scientists have no issue with the potential of paranormal phenomena. I was glad to read this, because too often people assume scientists or scientifically literate people are anti-woogity shit, and they’re not. Some are, some aren’t, it’s almost like scientists are people too, and different from each other.

A 1,500 year old Christian amulet has been uncovered.

On the other side of the cursing question the Prime Minister of Thailand says he’s been targeted by the black magick of his opponents. Unfortunately my HGA told me explicitly that I can’t curse Canada’s Prime Minister. Plus, cursing a robot would get tricky I think.

What would happen if Lovecraft wrote the blurbs for porn movies? Wonder no more!

More on cursing, a church in Washington D.C. holds late night services were people come to battle demons, and black magick, and witches. Well, at least it’s refreshing to see Christians who still believe in demons and magick…

How well do you know your Bible? A simple 20 question quiz will let you know (only two options per question, so good odds)

Monks used to mummify themselves alive. Suddenly my practice no longer seems hardcore.

How to Make Magic, a write up on an amazing children’s book on magick from the 70s. Why don’t they write like this anymore. Maybe I’ll patch stuff together as my niblings get older.

Michael, from VSauce talks about “Spooky Coincidences” and how our brain filters and (mis)interprets(?) data to link things. It’s always important to think about these things as occultists, lest we see magick in delusion everywhere. As a friend of mine recently said “Not every dog fart is a ghost.” Selection bias, pareidolia, confirmation bias, and the link.

We used to think we were in the Virgo Supercluster. Turns out we’re actually part of another even larger supercluster, the Laniakea supercluster, it’s 500,000,000 light years across, contains 100,000 galaxies. I know not everyone thinks this is occult or magicky, but as someone who calls the ultimate divinity Cosmos and whose Abramelin was largely focused on how utterly awesome (in the literal and true meaning of the word) our Universe is, I thought I should share it.

Advertisements

Review: Tantric Thelema, by Sam Webster

2014/06/19

tantric thelema Tantric Thelema & The Invocation of Ra-Hoor-Khuit in the manner of the Buddhist Mahayoga Tantras – Sam Webster
Concrescent Press, 2010, 114pp., 9780984372904.

When one studies the history of Buddhism they cannot help but notice that Buddhism changes with every culture it encounters. As it spreads it encounters new ethics, new cultural norms, new magickal systems, new gods and demons, and in time these may become part of the tradition. At first look some might be confused by the integration of Crowley’s Thelema with Buddhism, but one must realize that in many ways this is just another of the hundreds of shifts in Buddhism, except this time we’re seeing it as it occurs.

Tantric Thelema is what it sounds like, Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana) combined with Thelema, but probably in a way deeper than most readers expect, it is a combination of ritual structure and underlying theological practices of Buddhism with the figures and Law of Thelema. What is deeper than expected (and I’ll admit I was not expecting too much) was how thoughtfully and appropriately the systems have been combined. I’m sure we’ve all read a book, or blog entry, or been to a ritual and seen someone combine two systems with no more depth or understanding than changing a desktop theme. They call “elemental” Orishas in the Angelic corners, regardless of how they interact, or switch out Hebrew names for Egyptian names (poorly translated) cause they like them better, and so on. Yet, as someone who is a devout Tantric Buddhist (whether I want to be or not), and arguably a Thelemite I cannot help but be amazed at how well Sam Webster has integrated these systems.

Now to clarify my statement, and Webster’s, this is a book about Thelema, as he states “I don’t teach Buddhism, but I do see this work as an implementation of the Buddhadharma. If you want to learn Vajrayana, go find a competent teacher and do the work.” (ix) That being said this book is also one of the clearest explanations I’ve ever read on Tantric invocation, but this book is geared around a Thelemic form. Another aspect in this combination I would like to applaud Webster for is his use of technique but not symbols. While he relates everything back to Buddhist ritual he does not use Buddhist mantras, or seed syllables, or combine Buddhist and non-Buddhist figures. He understands “[t]his would be a theft of identity and culture and thus unjustifiable. But using the principles as published and duly translated is righteous as a recovery of a replacement of our own lost technology.” (xiv) So from a perspective of respect to the tradition, that as an admirable trait, also a wise decision in terms of avoiding mismatching things in catastrophic ways, as one often sees in poorly synthesized traditions. Too often in these combined systems the creator uses symbols because they’re traditional, even if they get misapplied, but Webster focuses on the process of invocation and the underlying theology, instead of copying the symbol set.

The text begins with explaining how and why Buddhism and Thelema work together, which seem unlikely on the surface, but Webster intelligently and skillfully links some of the major figures and concepts of the traditions, and also shows a nuanced understanding of Buddhism that allows him to understand Ra-Hoor-Khuit as a Bodhisattva. After the theoretical ground is laid Webster begins a systematic introduction into the practices of Tantric Thelema beginning with a Thelemic form of Taking Refuge, through Dedication of Merit, Empowerments and eventual Front and Self Generations (Evocation and Invocation in Western magickal terms). He also includes some “beta” rituals which haven’t been as thorough tested or practiced yet including a Yab-Yum ritual (spiritual sexual congress) and a phowa (an ejection of consciousness ritual used at the time of death). The book claims to have 47 Tantric Thelemic practices in it, which sounds a bit overwhelming, but really they’re all small elements of a handful of larger and more complex rituals.

Ra-Hoor-KhutMy only complaint about the text and the rituals is the inclusion of the figure of Ra-Hoor-Khut (not Khuit) who is essentially a female form of Ra-Hoor-Khuit mixed in with Nuit. I have nothing wrong with the concept of her, but she is used in major rituals in a way that I find unnecessary and not in line with the Buddhist methodologies. In the act of invocation one calls upon her, in order to further the invocation ritual in a way that is untraditional (an odd complaint in a text like this) and not strictly needed. Perhaps my issue here is the fact that I feel she isn’t explained clearly and I don’t know why she’s included in the process and feel that wasn’t made clear. I’ve worked the rituals both without her and with her, and I’ve found they are just as effective and powerful, but that without her they flow more. What I would like to see is a set of ritual practices around Ra-Hoor-Khut on her own. (Which I might add to my short list of Thelemic Tantric rituals I’ve been toying with.)

Don't judge my wallpaper.

Don’t judge my wallpaper.

Now that I’ve explained the text, let me take a step back and explain what this means to me. As mentioned I’m both a very devout Vajrayana Buddhist, and a Thelemite in many ways, so it was interesting and useful to see how these aspects of my beliefs could work together. More than that, I maintain that this book, while not about Buddhism, is one of the most straightforward explanations on Buddhist invocatory ritual I’ve ever read, which has been useful as a textual reference since then. I first read this book about two years ago, and I’ve wanted to review it since then, but more than any other magickal book I’ve read in the past decade this one demanded I work through it and explore. Here I am, two years later, finally reviewing, and still working with it, I’ve found the system to be very effective and satisfying. While it in no way replaces my Buddhist practices it works well to bring some of my Western work more in line with it. I have even gone so far as to order a print of the Ra-Hoor-Khuit image, and create my own thangka frame for it, so it now is on display for my working no different from my thangkas of Machik Labdrön or Yamantaka. I’ve created and used malas dedicated to the system (as well as sell them on my etsy). While I don’t think you need to have an interest in Buddhism to make this ritual system work, I think it is worth looking into if you’re already drawn to Thelema, or feel drawn to it but can’t connect with the system perhaps the (re)centring of Thelema around compassion will help make that connect.

Though the text is short, it is one of the most intriguing and in-depth works I’ve come across in a long time, and would be beneficial for a wide variety of people from either or both traditions.

ABRAHADABRA

-=-=-=-=-=-
For those interested in picking up either a print of Ra-Hoor-Khuit or Ra-Hoor-Khut both can be purchased on The Thelesis Aura website, along with other great pieces by the artist Kat Lunoe. EDIT: Kat has just corrected me, currently there are no Ra-Hoor-Khuit prints available, only Ra-Hoor-Khut, so if you’re interested check back from time to time.

And for those interested in the malas I’ve made for the practices you can find the listing here, including options for a four coloured mala or a six coloured mala, depending on which system within the text you’re drawn to.


Wednesday Webshares: Crowley, Spare, Potlatchs and More

2011/08/17

Let’s start off this webshare with more Crowley because despite being dead you can’t keep a wicked man down, in fact I’m pretty sure that’s part of what got him in trouble much of the time…

If you have a few hundred pounds to spare Treadwell’s books currently has a collection of early edition Crowley texts for sales. Aside from going to collectors this shows again that there is a demand for Crowley books that isn’t being met.

Continuing with Crowley a new biography is being released in September claiming to be “the first complete” and “definitive biography” of Crowley. It is a large claim to fill, but we shall see in time if there is much new to say about the Beast from this book.

And the last bit of Crowley for the week: Abrahadabra is releasing the Grimoire of Aleister Crowley. A collection of the rituals along with deeper exploration into their purposes and explanations on their meanings and structure.

Following the book pattern Jerusalem Press is rereleasing The Book of Pleasure by A.O.Spare. In general I think it’s great that Spare’s working is getting some fresh print time, but especially as in this edition they’ve gone to great lengths to get new or high-quality versions of the images from the original and includes an intro by Alan Moore. Now this may not be news to some, it’s from a few months back, but apparently I either missed this or it slipped my mind.

If you’re more in the mood to receive random possibly magickal knickknacks, tchotchkes, and more the good folks at The Hermetic Library have suggested an “eclectic, esoteric postal potlatch.” You either send in something, or donate, and they’ll send you something back. I think this is a neat idea and I’m curious to see what I’ll get and to hear what other sorts of things get sent through this.

While I hate to jump on any finding and claim “this proves magick!” I recently came across an article that mentions “slogans trigger resistance while logos slip through.” Their wording caught my eye especially as when I describe to people why sigils are effective it’s in part due to their ability to “slip through” our filters into some abstract depth of our mind. This article is somewhat reinforcing this idea, our mind rejects slogans (verbal) but accepts logos (visual). While obvious more to it than just a good parallel to sigils I found it interesting that theory is reflected in this study.

A while back I linked to a new computer program/algorithm being used to help sort out the various authors of the Old Testament (hint: it wasn’t Moses) and now it seems that the same technology may be useful in helping us date the Gospels. Interesting, though I admit the dates tossed around in the article have me looking askance at it, for their initial dating (which they believe may be even earlier) is far earlier than I usually see stated for the dates of the Gospels, outside of heavily Christian biased and unresearched sources of course. If they manage to prove the Gospels date to within a decade of Jesus’s apparently life I wonder what that would mean to people?

Another necropost link (I forgot I had many of these put aside) that was of personal interest to me was from The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn blog spot where Tabatha shows several examples of common errors or “corruptions” of Divine and Angelic names. Of course of interest to me considering this has been part of my language posting recently, that names become altered, corrupted, and yet they still work. It was good to see the research and actually watch the progression of a name changing.

Another month late posting but Egypt’s own Indiana Jones wannabe Zahi Hawass has finally been fired. This man was essentially the face of Egyptian archaeology, when there was a discovery to be announced he was there. There have been rumours (as there always will be, especially about anything Egyptian) that part of this was to establish an “official story” that Hawass took the releases so information that conflicted with his views and theories didn’t make it to the light. I’ve heard it go so far as he rabidly suppressed findings, but as always such claims never had much evidence. I don’t know if it is rumours or not, but as much as I liked the man’s personality it will be nice to read about or watch a new Egyptian discovery and have someone else discuss it.

Finally one last book because it’s me. It’s not out, but I just received the announcement for Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture set to come out in May. A quote from the publisher about it:

Examining this magical system from its Renaissance origins to present day occultism, Egil Asprem shows how the reception of Dee’s magic is replete with struggles to construct and negotiate authoritative interpretational frameworks for doing magic. Arguing with Angels offers a novel, nuanced approach to questions about how ritual magic has survived the advent of modernity and demonstrates the ways in which modern culture has recreated magical discourse.

So sounds good to me. Hope everyone is surviving this Wednesday in Mercury Retrograde


Wednesday Webshares: Mercury, Crowley, and Scrolls

2011/08/03

Welcome to another Wednesday Webshare on the first full day of the current period of Mercury Retrograde. This is a video heavy posting, sorry about that.

Remember if you’re ever unsure about which direction Mercury is going and don’t want to bother with an ephemeris and numbers there is the site Is Mercury in Retrograde which provides a handy countdown for when you have to stop blaming Mercury and find another thing to blame for your bad communication skills and travel disruptions.

I haven’t discussed this much here (I’m managed to be surprisingly impersonal) but I’m a practitioner of Traditional Japanese Reiki. If you know what Reiki is…well it’s not really much like that. I’m the crotchety old geezer who complains that what gets called Reiki in the Western world isn’t that close to Reiki anymore. Regardless I was sent an interesting video recently. Judith Pennington studies EEG (Electroencephalographs or brainwaves) specifically in some relation to spiritual practices. She had studied many “Reiki Masters” but then studied someone who practiced Traditional Japanese Reiki (TJR) and found that the brainwaves were different between western Reiki users and TJR practitioners. This doesn’t surprise me considering the differences in how Reiki is accessed in those systems. I enjoyed watching the videos and it is food for thought, but I wish that Pennington stuck more with the actual observations (like what the brainwaves actually are) without her recoding it into her newage psycho-spiritual language. I’m not saying her interpretation is wrong in any way, but I think a stronger case would have been made without discussing “the field” and such and focusing on how interesting the brainwaves are.

And here is her write up based upon the experience.

Oddly enough I have an EEG machine (that isn’t odd…is it?) and I’ve recorded myself performing things like the LBRP, Middle Pillar, the Sphere of Self, as well as various meditations, but it never occurred to me to record my brainwaves while doing Reiki. I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance in the near future, but we’ll see. This wasn’t done in the most controlled manner, but still it is nice to see some slightly scientific research going into it and something to think on.

Out of the East and over to the Near East the Dead Sea Scrolls are up for adoption. For a mere £1,200, or $1888 (Canadian, Yankees can do your own conversion) you can adopt a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Sadly it’s not like adopting a kitten, it’s like adopting an animal at the zoo, your name will get put on a plaque beside your fragment at the museum so people know this is your baby. Personally I’d love to own parts of The Book of Noah, or the Book of Sirach: Angels and Lovecraftian horrors in the Jewish tradition, but $1888 is a lot for a book, especially one I don’t actually get to keep.

In slightly related news, the University of Oxford is stepping into the future of internet teamwork. There is a wealth of untranslated Greek papyri and they’re turning to the internet for help. Over at Ancient Lives you can look at papyri and help label/identify letters on various pages to help make the process of decoding these ancient texts go quicker. Largely they will be early Christian texts (they assume) but frankly those are the fun ones. I mean that’s where I got the actual quote about Archangel bukkake on Eve, I wasn’t making that up. I wish I could have. Angels were freaky. The less I say about that lipstick wearing leather daddy Azazel the better.

I’ve been watching Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, hoping it would be nearly as good as Xena. I’ve been wrong but there was an interesting Crowley reference I just saw. Basic context and spoilers. Outside of our world is Dahak, some big-bad evil that even the gods are afraid of -all of them Greek, Sumerian, Celtic, Norse- he crept into this world and possessed Iolaus and set up a religion of light, love, and debauchery…and well…apparently the evil from beyond our world is Aiwass.

Speaking Crowley, he makes an amusing cameo in the satirical public service video “The Bizarre World of the Bisexual.” Reading the comments I’d like to point out this is satire, if you watch the other videos they all play with a similar humour, if you take it serious it will be offensive (about sexuality, not about Crowley).

The US Army is apparently looking to create technological telepaths . Money for machine telepathy, thank goodness your country doesn’t have some sort of financial issue that this could be better spent on…wait what? Seriously though I think this is fascinating and I wonder how far this research will get, and what non-war applications it might have.

Lastly for a bit of Lovecraftian awesomeness I’ve recently come across the awesome and hilarious site Better Myths in which myths are retold…kinda. Aside from the awesome written versions the webmaster also does videos. This is a three part retelling of The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath

Again, sorry it’s so video heavy, that’s just the way the net worked for me this week.


The Feast for the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law

2011/04/08

93.

To those who celebrate it, today is the first of the three feast days marking Aleister Crowley’s reception of Liber AL vel Legis in 1904. For those who don’t know the mythology of the reception the basic account can be found here on wikipedia. I was going to link the Thelemapedia article on it but they have conveniently excluded parts of the story.

Anyways, I wouldn’t say I celebrate the feast, but I observe the reading. I enjoy Liber AL vel Legis, so this gives me an excuse to reread it.

The exoteric side of the tradition, is simply read Chapter I today, Chapter II tomorrow, and Chapter III on Sunday, the anniversaries of their individual reception.

For those looking to read it you can find the full text here on Sacred-Texts.com. This is the full book, so remember to read just the first chapter today.

You can always but a text copy Book Of The Law by Aleister Crowley which looks deceptively like a Gideon Bible, they are on the same shelf in my library, and I’ve confused them occasionally.

You can also find a podcast reading of the book here on Thelema Coast to Coast. This link is just to Chapter I, the following two podcasts are the successive chapters.

And of course, I’ve shared this before but I do enjoy the song. Burning Hearts, from the band Nuit’s album Mother Night. It’s a condensed version of Chapter II.

To those who celebrate, Love is the Law.


When The Shadow Calls – The Royal Family & The Poor

2011/02/04

Originally when I started this blog and was filled with idealism I thought that every Friday I’d post a magick-themed song. Though as I didn’t end up posting as often as I’d like I decided against that. I did good the last two weeks, so I figured I’d post another song I like.

This is “When the Shadow Calls” by The Royal Family & The Poor from the album Songs for the Children of Baphomet: A Musickal Tribute To The Life & Works Of Aleister Crowley. The album is really good, it has a lot of different sounds to it, when I decided to put up a song I had trouble narrowing it down. Some songs have a classical anthem theme to them, some are just soft drifting glossolalic hymns, some have more of an 80’s rock feel, and several that are just hard to place. As for being a tribute to Crowley, this song has an exert from The Bornless Ritual, another is adapted from the Invocation of Horus, one even has the Great Beast himself reciting his poem “The Pentagram,” others as specifically inspired by Crowley’s works, and some are more general about Thelema and the theme of Crowley’s magick. All in all the album has a neat sound and the idea of producing a musickal tribute to Crowley makes for an interesting themed CD.

(As a random aside, the song is alternately called “When the Shadow Calls” and “When the Shadow Falls” depending on where in the liner notes you look.)


Burning Hearts – Nuit

2011/01/29

(This post was supposed to be uploaded last night, but dealing with catastrophic laptop death and setting up a new one I didn’t have time.)

I woke up singing this song this morning. I don’t know why it was in my head but I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s a condensed version of Chapter II of the Liber AL vel Legis, better known as The Book of the Law. I took my copy to school with me and read it over the day, it’s always an interesting read, I read it at least once a year in April during the “feast” celebrating its writing.

Anyways, without further ado here is Burning Hearts by Nuit

To download the song, read the lyrics, hear the rest of the album, or learn about the band you can visit Nuit’s “Mother Night”.

In the chance you’re unfamiliar with the text you can get the complete book (it is short) online at The Book of the Law on Sacred Texts or get a print copy of The Book Of The Law by Aleister Crowley


%d bloggers like this: