Wednesday Webshare: Rationality, TGFKAI, Scale and Probability, and Cursing Fucktwads

2015/06/24

Mercury WebMany folks know that Carl Sagan is an important figure to me, who shaped a lot of my world view. One of the foremost science popularizers of our generation, and he shapes a sorcerer? Indeed. I have a fairly rigorous practice of verifying experiences, at least until enough evidence is collected, and I think rational thinking and even elements of the scientific method are crucial to being a competent sorcerer (and person). So here are Carl’s rules for critical thinking and nonsense detection, they are completely compatible with magick, if the sorcerer is willing to be honest with themselves and their practice.

A bracelet found from 40,000 years ago, created by an extinct human species that we never believed had the capacity. As someone with a history degree, I love seeing stuff that challenges our stories, even if this is before an era more historians would (or could) touch.

Due to recent issues with Western media and Daish, and the acronym of Isis, the goddess is changing her name

My First Ars Goetia colouring book. I have a copy already, and have another set aside for my niblings.

I’ve talked about grave dirt before, but here is another perspective on it that I enjoyed.

Having trouble understanding the Book of Revelations? How about reading the first part of it as a manga/graphic novel, Apocamon.

During my Abramelin retreat one thing my HGA focused on was showing me how impossible my existence was. Ey showed me about the chances of me being born, and how easily that could have not happened, and then replayed that back generations until the conclusion was drawn that my existence was next to impossible. Here is a great image showing that.
(Ey also showed me that it was impossible for me not to exist when you take those odds and play them out over the universe)

I’ve ranted on the issues with the newage mindset, especially when delivered in inspirationally small snippets, here is a look at 5 of the most dangerous newage myths.

Have a list of five extreme places to meditate. I’ve done all but number 5, which is ironic, because that’s where I’m sitting writing this post right now (go Tim Horton’s!). Meditation should be taken out into your world to receive the full benefit.

Want to curse your way to a better world? Join with my friend Rachel as she starts off with a horribly transphobic preacher. I especially value her point, that he is essentially working death magick, which is, I would say, a good reason to counter.


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.


Creating and Consecrating Ritual Chalk

2012/08/17


Also titled

Magick Chalk: Beyond Mary Poppins

I was asked by some magickal associates of mine to share the ritual and recipe for my magickal chalk. Magick chalk? You read right, so before I begin, why in the hells would you need magick chalk?

The primary use I have for my consecrated chalk is creating magickal circles, specifically circles like the Heptameron style, used to invoke the Divine forces and establish stability and authority before a major magickal working. When I clear out a space, I generally like to draw a line and protective glyph at the door to keep things out. (I could do the same without anything, but I like grounding it into the physical) Writing petitions, drawing sigils, really anything you could write for in magick works well with the chalk. As a note, this type of chalk may scratch chalk boards, but works well on stone and pavement, and even dark or tough cloth. My portable summoning circle is a huge piece of denim and it works on it.

The ingredients are simple:

1 tablespoon eggshell dust. (Wash and dry eggshells from a few eggs, I was told six, but I just collect and use, and grind into a powder. I use my magick coffee grinder for that, use a strainer to get only the finest particles.)
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon hot water (at least, I’ve had to use up to five in some cases)
½ teaspoon ash from a copy of the Headless Ritual written in dragon’s blood ink (One sheet of paper produces 1/2 tsp of ash, if you want to make more chalk at once use a small amount, but I don’t recommend using less than 1/8 tsp)
(A few drops of food colouring if you want, but the ash will muck up the colour)

Simple, stuff we all have lying around. Mix the water, flour, and ash into a paste, then mix in the eggshell. It’s a balance, but add a bit of water if too dry, and a bit more flour if too wet. It should be like a clay or dough. Mix it up. Roll it on a piece of wax paper to get it into the shape you want. It could make several pieces, or one depending on how thick you make it. I suggest thicker, as it is less likely to break that way. Roll a piece of paper towel around it, and let it set and dry for a few days.

Why do I use the Headless Ritual in making this? I’m sure most people know the basic history, it was originally used as an exorcism (which makes it highly appropriate for drawing warding and protective glyphs), but the structure is that of a powerful invocation. That’s why in the Golden Dawn and Thelemic traditions it got rephrased into calling to, and connecting with your Holy Guardian Angel. This part of the invocation I feel makes it ideal for all the other uses of the chalk.

Click for a larger version to print or transcribe

So how do you make the ash? Did you think I wasn’t going to touch on that? At dawn, noon, or an otherwise convenient solar moment I write out the ritual text in dragon’s blood ink, and to be honest, I cheat. I print it out in Greek, and then trace the letters. While I do this I either recite the ritual, or pray to my HGA to abide Within. When I’m done I light my candles of the three pillars, and burn incense in an attempt to represent the four elements. (I use Earth-Myrrh, Air-Mastic, Water-Sandalwood, Fire-Copal) Then I properly perform the ritual. I use the version given in the Mathers/Crowley Goetia. It contains the best segment on authority to me “Hear me, and make all Spirits subject unto me: so that every Spirit of the Firmament and of the Ether: upon the Earth and under the Earth: on dry Land and in the Water: of Whirling Air, and of rushing Fire: and every Spell and Scourge of God may be may be obedient unto Me.” This is why I use incense of four elements, rather than anything else, to tie it into that. After I’ve completed it, I command and pray that my force imbue the text. Then I burn it while repeating that prayer. A few times I feel like it didn’t “stick” and I perform the Headless Ritual again, I’ve done it up to four times to get it just right. Of course then I claimed I did it once for each element, not because I couldn’t get the forces flowing.

To consecrate the chalk, on Sunday in the hour of Mercury, or Wednesday in the hour of the Sun, or any good Solar/Mercurial moment, I place the chalk on my altar. Lighting the candles I perform the ritual, and again command the force to reside in the chalk, to bless it, enliven it, to make spirits obedient unto it, to make it the most badass piece of chalk.


Wednesday Webshares: Death, Demons, and Dead Folks

2011/11/02

Well I’m happy to announce my life is returning to normal –well, as normal as the life of someone who spends so much time with demons and hanging around in cemeteries can be. I had to take some time off due to a ridiculous amount of work, schooling, and spiritual dedication. Twelve hour school days plus five hours of spiritual work a day means not a lot of time for anything else. I survived; I’m not noticeably insane from it, so it is time to continue. I have real posts in the wings to put up, and book reviews, but let’s just start with a Wednesday Webshare.

There is an utterly fascinating and informative pamphlet pdf Notes on Death and Dying for Vajrayana Practitioners.  It contains sections that are basically dying and Bardos of dying, death, and rebirth 101; what the signs of death are, how to help those who are dying, etc. The section that interests me the most (and was why it was pointed at me) was about the legal and practical side of properly dying according to Vajrayana ideals.  Death in Vajrayana can occurs days after death in Western understanding, what are the laws and practicalities of leaving a “dead” body undisturbed for a few days until the signs of death begin to show themselves, or can you donate organs while dying properly (which is what I was looking for). Anyways fascinating opinions and information on it, it’s specifically in regard to the laws of Dallas County, Texas, but gives some ideas and some of the hows to go about collecting the proper information.

With 2012 looming closer are you curious what the Mayans actually said about it? I’ll give you a hint: it begins with an F and ends with an Uck All.  A great interview with an archaeologist (re: someone who actually has researched this area) about 2012 and how even what seems to be legitimately coming from the modern Mayans is essentially newage backwash. I’m not surprised but it’s great to see, especially the reasoning on why some supposed descendents of the Maya are talking about it now.

Tara Hefler is looking to make a visual compendium of the 72 spirits of the Goetia as imagined by modern artists.  It is time those wood carvings got an update and I wasn’t a fan of art in the Crowley’s Illustrated Goetia. Like me you can wait for the project to be finished, or if you’re an artist yourself some of the demons still need to be adopted and illustrated if you want to try your tentacle at that.

The New Alexandrian Library recently received paintings of the four archangels by Dion Fortune, gifts from Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki. Awesome artwork, and a great gift.

I’m a taphophile, it’s no secret. In my childhood while my friends’ parents were taking them to Florida or amusement parks or ski weekends or just the C.N. Tower, my mother and her mother would take me to cemeteries all across the province. I grew up spending a lot of time in cemeteries, so it isn’t surprising that I love them and just happen to end up part of a spiritual tradition that requires me to do a lot of my work in cemeteries. While it is an American site I’ve loved following The Cemetery Traveler since I came across it. It essentially just chronicles the journeys of one person through cemeteries, their thoughts and experiences. Fans of dead people and cemeteries should definitely follow it.

Also there is a video on those Jordan Lead Codices. While a lot of the information wasn’t new to me as I’ve been following this personally and academically it was nice to see some of it put down visually.


Review: The Dictionary of Demons – Michelle Belanger

2011/06/02

The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned – Michelle Belanger
Llewellyn. 2010. 362 pp. with appendices. 9780738723068.

For the sake of transparency before I start this review I will admit to two reasons why I could be biased toward the book.
1. Michelle is a friend of mine.
2. Jackie, the very talented artist who did the alphabet art and several seals and pieces of art within the book, is also a friend or lab partner.
Of course people who know me, know I’m not exactly easy on most of my friends…

From Aariel to Zynextyur (is he next to your what?) this book has a listing of over 1,500 demons from the grimoiric tradition. This book is an amazing wealth of information on the entities within. Michelle worked strictly from an academic perspective; personal experiences and ideas do not enter into the text, only what information Michelle could dig up from the grimoires. Dig up is a great way to put it, Michelle went through an extensive process of several years of cataloguing these demons and searching for more information, other translations, older manuscripts. The common and popular texts like the Lemegaton and the Book of Abramelin were used, as well as more obscure texts like Liber Juratus Honorii, Caelestis Hierarchia, and Liber de Angelis.

“This book is not intended to be a how-to book on grimoiric magick” (10) instead it is as the title says a dictionary of names that have appeared in various texts. Names, ranks, and powers are given, along with much more. The entries on a demon let the reader know what grimoire they appear in and in many cases the several grimoires they have lent their names too, as well as information like what their name may be derived and distorted from as well as showing how some demons are most likely the same figure but over the course of years scribal errors have pushed their names further apart. Michelle pieces together part of the puzzle of grimoires, by analyzing names and lack of names in different texts Michelle attempts to establish a connection and timeline between the various books. Interspersed with the different entries are small articles by Michelle and Jackie about various relevant topics to the text, such as the scribal process involved in medieval grimoires, the history of Jewish appropriation in Christian mysticism, and comparing different lists of what demon rules what directions.

While most of the book is written in a straight forward manner Michelle was not above the occasional humorous observation. “From the profusion of [love] spells in all the magickal texts, it would seem that practitioners of the black arts had a very difficult time find a date in the Middle Ages” (15) or pointing out that Pist, who helps you catch a thief, has a name that sounds like how one would feel when stolen from (247).

While reading it I only noted one thing that seemed off in that Michelle attributed Mather’s translation of The Sacred Mage of Abramelin the Mage to a 15th century manuscript, when I have always seen the French manuscript dated to the 18th century. All in all I was greatly pleased and impressed with the effort, resources, and scholarship Michelle put into this book. While not a practical how-to guide, this book is an invaluable resource of names and histories for those interested in the grimoiric tradition. I felt the plot was a bit dry, but it had a wicked cast of characters.

Also for those wanting a related, but simpler text, I recommend you check out Michelle and Jackie’s D is for Demon. It is a delightful (not for) children’s book of rhymes leading you through 26 demons. I, of course, got a copy for my two-year old niece to make sure she is brought up right.


Goetia Flow – Tao To Summon Demons

2011/03/12

The circles slightly distort my vision as the preliminary evocation comes to a close. My body stands up straight while my mind is present, yet above and beyond me. My mind is a thread in a cosmic spider web stretched far past my little self. I am me and I am more. Attention is turned to my triangle with the seal of Raum drawn red on the black mirror. My mindstream and voice as one dance along the spider web “Raum, mighty Earl, take your place in the triangle.” The spider web thrums as a crow sitting on a dying tree branch forms amidst the smoke and the darkness in the triangle. Raum is told to harm no one in the process of this working, to speak only the truth, and to stay within the triangle for the working. He agrees and I give him his charge, he agrees and I give him license to depart. Slowly I sit down and pull my mind back into me, into a peaceful and empty glowing self.

I know some Goetic magickians have an issue with my style of evocation but the above pretty much sums it up. No long winded preambles on why the spirit should show itself, no threatening and torturing if it is late, no binding and threatening the spirit into service, just a natural flow of myself and the spirit.

I can’t always invoke this way, I assume it is a me thing, just sometimes I can’t get my mind where it should be, but this is the method I always strive for. Now for the horrible puns in the title; Goetia Flow is a poor play on Go With The Flow, and Tao to Summon Demons is a poor play linguistically and spiritually on How to Summon Demons. Yet in a loose way they describe what I feel I do.

As mentioned briefly in my Secrets of the Summoning Circle post I view the circle style I use less about protection and more about connection. Within the circle I’m reaching far beyond Kalagni the university student, occultist, sex-god, whatever, and I’m reaching up into the highest aspect of the divine that I can access. I find at that level there is less effort and more flow. Abstract but that’s the way it seems. I erroneously call my summoning style Taoist, not because it has any connection to Taoism -because it doesn’t- but most people who are familiar with Taoism understand what I mean there. Taoism can be translated as Path, Way, and Natural Order, and that’s what I find relevant to my evocations. When I use the traditional Goetic methods or variations of such, there is a feeling of a battle, my will against the demon, the forces I can wield against the spirit. Yet in my preferred method there is no such battle, it is just the way of things, the natural order.

When in my circle, connected to the highest divine I can reach, the entire process seems natural, normal, just the way the universe works. When I reach out and call the spirit there is no sense of command or ordering, and I don’t feel the spirit is threatened or forced to appear. Instead the spirit appears because that’s the way the universe works. When I spill my cup of tea the tea flows out of the cup across the table and if it finds an unlevel section it rolls down the incline. Not because the tea is forced, coerced, or threatened, but water flows downhill and that’s the way the universe works – at least in sections of the universe with enough mass to create sufficient gravity to cause water to flow toward the focal point of the gravity, but let us not nitpick. To me this is much the same as my summoning. I’d call it Effortless Evocation, but that term has problems too, and yet it does feel effortless as long as I reach this mind state. Once I’m in the “flow” of the universe, the spirit just comes because that is what it does, when I tell it to stay and be honest it does because that is what it does, when I give it a command and have it depart it does as I request because that is what it does. In this flow the universe just works; hot air rises, water flows downhill, entropy increases in closed system, and Goetic spirits respond and obey to divine forces without pressure or struggle.

Part of me thinks this is so clear in concept and explanation, yet another part of me feels this is something that I’m not explaining right. While sometimes summoning and dealing with spirits is a battle of wits and wills, I find sometimes it is a peaceful and effortless exchange that occurs simply because I am part of the Divine and when in that flow the spirit responds to that because that is the natural order of thing.

I know some Goetic magickians love pointing out why I’m wrong, or endangering myself, or even deluding myself. So far this process has worked for me with no horrible backlashes, and I feel –simply put– to quote dear old Uncle Al, “Success be thy proof.”


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