Myth, History, Language, and Reality


The following is a rant I posted on twitter maybe a month ago. I wrote it through the day in transit and at work, so it might be a bit disjointed, but still valid.


As someone with a history degree, I can tell you there is a lot of history that is false, especially the farther back you go. But just because accepted historical narratives don’t fit your theories doesn’t mean the truth is being covered up.

Not every dog fart is a ghost, not every odd historical event is proof of a conspiracy.

One of the major problems with history is the Jericho problem. For a long time, and it still continues, historians/archeologists have been unwilling to date findings of human civilization earlier than the Wall of Jericho.

It hasn’t mattered the personal belief of people involved, but the University/museum/organization they work for. Disrupting Biblical narratives would have major social and financial repercussions for these groups.

How many organizations funded by Christians and cultural Christian would feel safe pointing out bullshit?

I actually studied Ancient Near East history, taught by a very devout Christian, and we even used the Tanakh / Old Testament as a historical document. But it was stressed that nothing before David could be proven, and much before him proven completely false.

After David it’s a fascinating text on the development of a unified identity and religion.

I don’t say this to be anti-Christian/Jewish, I’m certain all historical religious narratives are built on falsehoods somewhere. That doesn’t detract from their “deeper” realities.

A myth doesn’t have to be real to be true, but don’t let the myth interfere with the historical reality.

A great example of myths being important, but false and needing to be ignored historically would be the origins of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This was actually a unit in my one course. The Twelve Tribes were united by their common ancestry, descendants of Jacob.

Jacob had two wives, between the two of them he had twelve sons (and one daughter who gets ignored cause, you know, woman). Each son managed to become a patriarch of a large tribe. You can divide the tribes between two geological features in ancient Israel.

One group of tribes lived in the lower land of Israel, and the other group lived more in the mountainous regions. Because of the limitations of the soil/climate the tribes in the lowlands raised cows, while the mountain tribes raised goats and sheep.

Jacob’s wives were Rachel and Leah. Rachel means ewe, or female sheep, and Leah means cow (in a colloquial sense, technically it means more like tired, but used like we might say dog-tired in English). If you guessed that Leah’s sons raised cows and Rachel’s raised goats, correct, have a cookie.

The myth was created to be symbolic, it was never meant as a literal history, the names alone make that clear. It doesn’t mean it’s not a very important myth, but when taken literally it has interfered by having historians trying to prove it, rather than investigate it. It was a myth that helped unite a disparate and often warring group, it’s a good and positive myth, it’s also not history.

Oddly (this is more observational supposition than researched datum) it seems like historically Christians have taken it more literally than Jewish people have (though there was a move towards more literal takes in the last 200 years).

In my class, there was a discussion about how Jewish people have been taking apart all of their holy stories, turning them inside out, and reinterpreting them pretty much since forever, but to Christians it is all INFALLIBLE AND UNQUESTIONABLE WORD OF GOD. Just look at the Talmud and the continually growing body of Jewish mythology, and commentary.

A Jewish friend of mine in university said she hated talking with Christians about Tanakh/Old Testament because A) They didn’t understand the cultural stuff (Judaism is a lot more than just Christianity without a Christ), and B) They took it way too literally, and she was from a fairly Orthodox sect too. When a Jewish woman who won’t wear pants in the 21st century says someone is taking the Old Testament too literally and seriously, that’s saying something.

I would suggest that at least part of this (and there are multiple reasons) is because the fact it’s obvious in Hebrew, but not translated. That detail is lost in translation and changes everything. Hence Christians (mostly not knowing Hebrew) would read it more like history than symbol. After all, someone familiar with contemporaneous Hebrew would know exactly what Rachel and Leah meant, but to English speakers, they’re just nice names for women.

Another interesting insight of symbolism via the names is Benjamin. While the tribes were divided between cows and goats, more seriously/importantly the tribes were of two (at the time) distinct groups the Tribes of Israel and Tribes of Judah.

(As a historical document, if you pull apart the Tanakh/Old Testament it’s interesting to see the back and force between Israel and Judah as enemies and united. It really is three texts, an Israelite text, Judean text, and a united text. If you know what you’re looking for you can really see the seams.)

They’re all called the Tribes of Israel now, but at the time they were distinct groups. The Tribes of Israel were to the north, and Judah to the south.

Relevant sidenote: Ancient Israelite directions viewed East as Up (like we do with North in the Northern Hemisphere). So Up was East, Down was West, Right was South and Left was North.

(This is actually something that appeared in several Near Eastern cultures, and even continued in some areas at least into the 8th century, possibly longer because it was relevant to the rise of Islam, but that’s where my research ended)

Of the Twelve Tribes there was the Tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was one of the tribes of Israel proper (as opposed to united with Judah). Ben means Son, Jamin (Yamim) means Right, and implied to mean “right hand.” Son of the right hand fits for his role in Jacob’s life, but…

If Jamin(Yamim) means right, which implies south as well…Guess where the tribe of the Son of the South lived? That’s right, the southernmost area controlled by the tribes of Israel. How lucky the Benjamin, Son of the South, just happened to live in the south, cause if Benjamin was up north it would be silly…

Which is again, not to in anyway discount from the myths, or the religions that draw from it, but myth isn’t history, but sadly when taken literally it interferes with history/archaeology as people try to fit reality to the myth, rather than investigate the reality of the myth.

Another great name as symbol comes from the New Testament. During Christ’s crucifixion Matthew originally (Greek, not English) referred to Pilate’s other prisoner as “Jesus Barabbas.” Some translations keep his first name, many drop it for just Barabbas though.

What a coincidence that Jesus Christ would be on trial beside Jesus Barabbas. Pilate asks who to release “Jesus Barabbas” or “Jesus Christ/Messiah.” Up until that point Jesus was pretty much always “of Nazarus” or “Son of Joseph.”

Christ means (loosely/contextually) anointed one, or saviour. Messiah, while it now means the same, originally more meant holy king. Several of leaders in the Tanakh were called messiahs, even non-Jewish ones. But that’s an aside really.

Bar is the Aramaic form of Ben, meaning Son of. Abbas mean God, more correctly “Father”. (Jesus even calls YHWH Abbas in the Garden) So Jesus Barabbas is “Jesus, Son of the Father.”

So if this event isn’t historical (which I’d say it isn’t) the trial isn’t between two men, but two perspectives on this man. Is he Jesus the Messiah or Son of the Father? Or plainly put Jesus a holy man, or Jesus the divine Son of YHWH. A holy man? Those were dime a dozen. To quote Pontius Pilate “You Jews produce messiahs by the sackful!” Okay, that’s from Jesus Christ Superstar, but it’s not incorrect. Holy men were a plenty and wandered the area. On the other hand the divine Son of YHWH? The prophesied one? That’s getting into blasphemy.

When viewing it as a trial between the Roman powers, the Jewish population, and two beliefs about the nature of Jesus it’s a completely different story, which is (in my opinion) far more interesting and meaningful than a literal trial and release of a prisoner.

(In case anyone thinks I’m being unfair or picky with data, I’ll freely admit that my belief in the historical Buddha isn’t on the most solid ground either, but it’s more acceptable to Buddhists that the Buddha is a mythic figure or example, than Jesus as myth is to many Christians.)

The creation of history is a fascinating and strange process, and we get things wrong sometimes, do the best we can with fragmented info, and sadly sometimes cover up what doesn’t seem to fit into the picture.

A great short book that reflects it well is The Motel of the Mysteries. Basic premise is the US falls (and the rest of the world presumably), and centuries later an archaeology team finds a motel and reconstructs American civilization from what they find.

The book is silly and funny…But not totally wrong. Especially their interpretation of tv’s and toilets. As a historian I find it more insightful and funny than wrong or insulting. We do the best we can, but that doesn’t always mean much.

Religion isn’t history. Religion is important to history. Religion can contain and influence history, but religion isn’t history, and it damages our understanding of our past and ourselves when we take it as history and ignore the facts.

My professor who specialized in Mesopotamian history once showed me a picture of an odd item and said “If historians don’t know what something is then it’s of religious importance… and this is of great religious importance.”


Nonvisual Visualizations


This is another post that part of me feels shouldn’t need to be said, and yet experience tells me it does.

There is a thread of commonality between what I see in visualization and perception.

What do I see when I perform the LBRP and “about me flames the pentagrams?”
What do I see when I’m chatting with a spirit in front of me?
What do I see when I’m staring into someone’s energy body trying to figure out what is wrong with them?

I’ll give you a hint, it begins with B and ends in upkis.

That’s a slight exaggeration, but not too far off, when it comes to magickal stuff, I can’t really see anything. For a long time it was an issue, both between me and others, and between me and the traditions I was working with.

When I’d attend pagan events people would always play their woogity games and eventually “Read my aura” would come up. I can’t see auras. People would ask me, and I’d rattle stuff off “You had a hernia when you were younger, your relationship with your mother sucks, you’ve been getting migraines recently.” Then they’d ask me how I saw all that, and when I’d explain that I didn’t see anything, they’d react like I was lying. I’d explain that I don’t see things, and they’d confirm I was right, yet the fact it was non-visual seemed impossible to them.

When I read books on magick, there are those dreaded words “see” and “visualize.” “Visualize the figure approaching you, see what they carry.” That doesn’t work for me. I’m not a visual person. It’s not just about magick, it’s about my life.

The thing is I would like to think I’m an accomplished sorcerer of some sort, even without this ability to visualize, why? Because fuck your visualization right in the third eye.

Most people who see things, understand that it’s not physically seeing, that it’s a subtle sense, and it might not be objective, but the way your brain interprets information that’s not as “solid” as everything else. That ghost might not literally so wispy, that angel might not literally be holding a curved dagger, there might not literally be a blue sphere around that person…that’s all how our brain interprets the spiritual data, it codes it visually so we can understand.

If you’re not a visual person though it might not code in the same away, and you’re probably doing more harm than good in trying to work from a visual model of magick.

Stop for a second, and think back, think back to your earliest birthday party that you can remember. What do you remember? Do you see the cake? Do you hear your friends and family singing? Can you smell the candles burning? What do you remember? And what sense or form is it coming from?

Chances are this is the sense/model that your magickal perceptions use too. It seems in my experience that the way our brain is wired for memories is the way it handles these perceptions.

For me my memories and perceptions are data based. I can’t see the cake, hear the singing, smell the candles. I can tell you what room of the apartment it was held in, I can tell you guest list, I can tell you the weather. Not because I see/hear/smell any of these things, but because I know them. The best analogy I have is like reading a book. You know from reading in history class that during the War of 1812 the Canadians marched into Washington D.C. and burnt the WhiteHouse. You don’t remember it cause you saw it, or anything like that, but you remember it as the information, the fact.

That’s the majority of my memories. Information, I could describe them like I wanted them written out in a book, but not like I could describe something I see. The same thing goes with my magickal experiences. Very rarely do I see a ghost (yet, due to the visual-dominance in magick, I’ll often use the language of seeing), but I’ll know it’s there. I might not see anything about them, but if asked I could tell you she’s a young woman, that she has dark hair, that she always feels cold. Whatever. Even in more complex things like scrying. I can’t explain how, but when I scry I “know” I’m in a dungeon, or on a desert and I “know” there is music in the air. I can’t see or hear it, but I know it. I get all the same information other people get (sometimes more) it just not a sight thing.

It took me a long time to deal with it personally. Now it seems stupid to me, but when I was in my early teens and getting into magick it felt like I was failing when I couldn’t see what I was supposed to see, especially when friends who I was teaching would start seeing things. Things really took off for me when I decoupled sight/see/visualize and recoded it into my head as perception/understand/realize. Suddenly I realized I was aware of a lot more than I had been accessing, because I had been ignoring how my brain was coding it.

Again, this doesn’t feel like something I should have to say, and I see this mentioned from time to time. Yet two weekends ago I was hanging out with some woogity folks, and one of the people there just had this revelation, suddenly they were aware of new things, because they stopped looking for images and started using another sense.

If you visualize things, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s great. Learn to play to your strengths. Even when you can’t see something, there is something in your brain that perceives and understands and translates in your own model. So when I’m learning a technique and I’m told to “visualize green energy” or something, I can just know that the energy I’m moving is green, and it works the same way. The translating back and forth becomes a non-conscious thing. If you hear things (as one of my old high school friends did) just tell your brain to hear the green energy. It might sound like nonsense to you, but your brain can mash it together and spit it out, and suddenly that C# on a clarinet sound pours out with your energy, and apparently that’s the same as green.

In a mundane sense we all experience and perceive the world differently. Magickally it is no different, so be open to letting your other sense take over, and stop fretting about seeing things, if that has been your concern. I can’t see my magick, but I know it.

Spirit Allies: Relationships Over Collections


Minor Rant

I need to repaint my living room, and I could ask friends or family to help. They’re not professional painters, but they’d get the job done. It’s easier to ask them then it is to hire professionals, or befriend a professional in hopes of getting them to help as a favour.

It’s a sloppy analogy, but I see it all the time in magick.

“My mother just broke her hip, and I want to help heal her, what god should I work with and how?”

“I bought a new house and want to banish it thoroughly before moving in, what god would be a good choice?”

“I’m trying to find a job, which Buddha should I petition?”

Here is my answer: if you have to ask, you shouldn’t be working with them. Aside from an issue with how people collect and toss gods for favours in a manner I find ridiculous and disrespectful, it’s also not an efficient way to handle it.

Our relationships with spirits and gods are just that, relationships, not matters of convenience. Yet what type of relationship can you build quickly for that one goal.

Now before I go on, I’d like to clarify two points. First, I’m obviously not against working with spirits, but when I’ve discussed this before I’ve had people assume I’m anti-spirit work or something. Far from the case, but I’m against inefficient (and perhaps rude) spirit work. Second, we need to draw a distinction between short-term singular goals, and long term goals. There is a difference between being sick, and being chronically ill, or between being unemployed, and perpetually low on funds.

So what’s my issue here? Why do the spirits help us? People claim lots of reasons; altruism, their nature, compulsion, whatever. Yet even if you have a friendly neighbour who would help you do your garden, if you’ve never talked to them, and suddenly pop over and ask for them to help out for a few hours, it’s weird, and kinda rude.

Yet people do that with spirits all the time, they have a goal, and they begin working with a new spirit. This ignores the fact that our spirit allies are far more complicated than many people give them credit for, and this perhaps belies the lack of relationship people have. Why are you trying to build relationships, that you won’t maintain, will promptly forget, just to get a goal, especially when chances are you already have allies who can help.

Again, think of them like real people. I’m not a professional mover, nor am I super strong (but stronger than I look), but if you need help moving something, I can do just that. I’m not a repair person, but I’m smart and good with google, so if your tv isn’t working we could sit down with a computer, and possibly get it up and running. Yet if I were to write a description of my skills I would never think to include “Helps move heavy shit” “Can tinker like a mo-fo” or such, because they’re not my focus…but they’re there. Most spirits are like that, more so the “bigger” they get. Okay, perhaps something like a Goetic spirit is more limited in what it can do (though trust me, some of them are a lot broader than the paragraph says), but when you work with higher order angels, or gods, saints, Buddhas, why act as if they can’t help?

They might not be “experts” in the field, but they can probably help, and more importantly you already have a connection with them, a relationship. If you need an expert, find one, but why go through that effort until it’s actually needed? Your patron might not be listed under “Job magick” in some witchy-cookbook, but there is probably something they can do to help, either directly, or indirectly.

To make another, geekier, analogy think Pokemon. In Pokemon some pokemon are good at somethings, but not others. Fire pokemon are good against Grass, but not against Water. Grass pokemon are good against Water, but not against Fire. Water pokemon are good against Fire, but not against Grass. The trouble is you can only train six pokemon at once. So sometimes you’ll being raising Fire pokemon and you encounter a Water pokemon. Normally your Fire pokemon would be weak against them, but because you’ve been working with them, they’re strong, and if you switched to a Grass pokemon you’ve never used, sure it is technically strong against Water, but it’s so much weaker than your Fire pokemon that it isn’t useful. So even though the Fire pokemon isn’t the best designed for the situation in terms of strengths, it’s still the best choice you have.

I hate to say our spirit allies are pokemon, but I think it’s an accurate comparison here. It’s not so much that working with us makes them more powerful, but perhaps more connected and precise. A spirit that you’re really bound to can influence your world to a far greater extent than most newly contacted spirits. That link draws them into our lives, into this level of reality.

Don’t be afraid to ask your spirits for help, even if it doesn’t seem connected to their abilities. If you’re looking for a job and Thor is your go-to for everything, ask him, the worst case is he’ll tell you he can’t help. Aphrodite might not be the first choice to get you out of debt, but if she’s been with you for years, ask her, again the worst that can happen is she’ll hand you off to someone else. Manjushri might not be about healing, but if you ask he’d do his best.

Perhaps I take my relationships too seriously, but I would rather not engage with someone new for the sake of a task, when I could work with a friend.

Borrowed Pensacola Rant


Forgive the off schedule post, but with the media stupidstorm about the Pensacola murders I felt it was worth going on about. I could yell and curse about how the Sheriff is an idiot (and I’ve already had friends do that for me), but my audience doesn’t need it. Anyone reading this blog would read the headline about a Wiccan Murder Ritual, and know whoever came up with that phrase is a paragon of stupidity. Instead I wanted to talk about reacting in useful ways, but again, a friend of mine has done so already. Below is a rant from my friend Rob, I believe the only context you need is to know that he is a recent immigrant to the US, and that puts pressure/limitations on his political activities, which he alludes to in the rant.

So here is the thing, and I have to walk a careful line on this one because I would not wish to be seen to be trying to influence the US political system in any way, lately I have been seeing lots of stuff on my friends list about a killing in Florida. This killing has been attributed, inaccurately in my and others opinions, to a particular religion. Many of the folk posting about it share that religion or a religion close to it (or at least close to the general understanding of the faith named). So what are you doing about it?

If this were a mainstream faith such as Catholicism or Islam adherents would be on the phone to their senators, to their local representatives. The station of the officer would have been flooded with calls from people to explain to them why they are wrong, they would probably have received cease and desist letters about defamation and vilification. The officers wouldn’t be able to open their letterboxes without having hundreds of copies of “The truth about Angicanism today” falling out, people would be writing to every major news outlet demanding the war on Christianity be stopped or that vilification of the Islamic faith is not ok.

Where is the outrage that goes beyond the echo chamber? Posting an article about it and adding your own commentary to your own friends or own groups where you know people agree with you…how does this change anything?

Where are the national and state organisations writing letters of complainant and making phone trees happen?

Where is the gofundme for the family of the victims coming explicitly and directly from the community of the faith being accused to show the wider community that if they are going to be associated with this tragedy we want it to be in good way, as people who stepped up to help?

Hell even though it changes nothing where is the petition being pushed to at least create some visibility about the vilification and defamation in the main stream?

Me? What am I doing? I am not allowed to speak up, I am not allowed to try and affect change in this country as part of my conditions for being here. What is YOUR excuse?

Now there is a petition about this. But with all of my friends posting about this, and all the groups I’m a part of, I’ve seen this show up once. I’m in pagan/magickal groups with more members than are currently signed on this petition, where is the action?

Also the Lady Liberty League is approaching the issue and you can follow there updates on facebook.

This seems too much like the Satanic Panic, and way too many shades of the West Memphis Three, and while I like to think the culture in the States has grown past that phase…not all of it has, or the story would have never hit the news like this. Send emails to the news sources, support folks like the Lady Liberty League, do something. It doesn’t have to be huge, but why do nothing? Ignorance and apathy serve the good of no one.

Rant: Call To Action. Shake The World!


(Note: I admit, this is a rambly rant, alas without Gordon’s aid of whisky, and unreasonable in some ways, but it’s also true and needs thought.)

Our world is an awesome place, and this is an amazing time to be alive. Our life expectancy is higher than ever, our health and quality of living is on average the best humanity has ever seen. We’re breaking down atoms to find even more building blocks of reality, we’re finding Earth-like planets 1,400 light years away. We’re surrounded by the sum total of human knowledge invisibly streaming past us from computers to satellites to tiny devices in our hands to answer all our questions. This is amazing.

VNV Nation – Nemesis makes a good soundtrack for my thoughts right now.

Four years ago the Conservative Party of Canada rigged an election by misleading registered non-Conservative voters on where to vote, and we’ve had an illegally elected government since then. This government has gutted environmental rights and destroyed huge swaths of a beautiful country; it’s muzzled the media, dismembered support for the scientific and artistic fields, and has shifted Canada away from our role as peace-keeper back towards a military nation.

In the United States gun crime is sky-rocketing to the point where tragic mass-shootings are being run of the mill news stories, there have been over 200 (!) mass shootings in the States this year already. Police corruption and abuse is rising, barely a week goes by without another story about some officer who attacked and killed someone without just cause, and sadly often without even provocation. Despite having a black president racial turmoil is coming to the surface in horrifying ways as the aforementioned mass-shootings, and police brutality are disproportionately focused on the black population.

Greece is on the verge of economic ruin.

DAESH / I.S.I.L. is running through the Near East murdering, raping, and destroying millennias worth of amazing history and threatening entire cultures. (And we still have pagans who seem more upset over the media calling the ISIS than they are about the horrors they are causing)

Globally the rich get richer, and the poor get fucked over. We have the largest wealth disparity in history…and that includes the era of European kingdoms while peasants lived in mud and wood huts. Despite all the progress sexism is making a revitalized stand. Trans-people are being accepted by the media (as long as they’re already famous, and/or beautiful in a heteronormative sense), while trans-people are murdered and harassed by society (and the police). More and more countries are passing pro-same-sex marriage laws, and yet the suicide of queer teenagers seems epidemic. We’re at an ecological tipping point and we might not recover before humanity is eliminated. The world is entering another mass extinction period, and still as a species we slash, burn, and destroy the planet.

This is fucking horrible.

I love this planet. The people on it are amazing beautiful beings.
I hate this planet. The people on it are useless fucking shitbags.

It’s hard to reconcile this. Sometimes when I reach my mind out into the world I feel the beautiful silence of the globe spinning, the waves of force balancing and bouncing back between the heavenly bodies, my mind is stretched between the love and community people have. Other times I reach out and I hear fire and blood, a world screaming, I’m hit by people and gods who are weeping and wailing.

In Vellum and Ink by Hal Duncan, one of the characters is essentially a magickal terrorist-anarchist. He zips through London with his Curzon-Youngblood Mark I chi-gun, blasting orgone bullets through fascist cops, and lobbing jism-laced grenades to distract/destroy the political status quo with intense lust and unstoppable orgies. He fights, becoming a god-demon-hero-villain because he sees the world is wrong, and he has the power to change it…not just the power…the responsibility.

Now obviously that’s fiction, I don’t have a magickal gun that is powered by my tantric control of my life force, but it’s an idea that really hit me when I reread the books recently. Why do so many magickal folks sit on the sidelines?

I strongly advocate for practical magick: stuff to improve your life, move you forward, things with tangible results, and criteria you can confirm or deny. Yet, I cannot and do not deny the mysticism, I didn’t spend months in a temple-closet talking to the wall to achieve communication with my Holy Guardian Asshole because I wanted tangible results, that was mysticism.

Yet with most of us, we do magick that focuses on us, and magick that focuses on the Cosmos, but we miss everything in between.

A year ago DAESH moved into northern Iraq, encroaching on the ancestral home of the Yazidis. In an odd combination of human interest and gruesome voyeurism several news sources started talking about the Yazidis and their persecution, and the fact they were essentially facing extinction. Suddenly out of nowhere people knew about the Yazidi, most knew next to nothing, but they knew they existed. Then in an odd turn I began seeing calls for prays and magick to help save them. Most of the requests and suggestions were based on Western magick (not that there is anything wrong with that, any port in a storm), people making evocations, prayers, Qamea sigils, and the like, things to call upon Melek Tawas, the ultimate angel of the Yazidi religion, and to ask for eir help. Some was authentic, most was created as needed, some was derived from Feri, but it was there. I stepped in, being fairly familiar with the religion, and provided actual prayers and rites from the tradition, and offered up my suggestions.

It was strange, I don’t know what brought the other sorcerers I worked with to the table, but they were committed to trying guerrilla magickal warfare to help the Yazidi. We worked on a variety of things from different angles, persuasion to get the major governments to step in more with evacuation aid, things to obscure and hide the Yazidi as they fled, things to deter DAESH from their pursuit.

I have no idea what good we did, if we influenced anything, or if we were impotently throwing our magickal forces (or just our imaginations) at something far beyond us. 50,000 Yazidi fled, trailed by DAESH militants, only 5,000 were killed. A horrible tragedy, but originally the news was much more dire as they fled up the mountain with no escape, only buying time, a few people predicted none would survive.

Maybe I’m being ridiculous, maybe I’m being unreasonable. But I don’t know why I don’t see this type of action more often.

Make your life better, make your self better, but what about the world? Look at the horrors, what can you do? I’d like to think we’re all doing stuff on mundane levels to help make the world better. That we take opportunities to educate and confront people around transphobia, that we volunteer with those in need, that we protest and petition and pressure our governments to make the right choices. But as always, we’re supposed to be magick workers, and while we’re not out there calling lightning from the sky and working miracles, we are causing change, and if you’re not, you’re not working magick.

Let me repeat that: Like everything in magick, if all you’re doing is magick, you’re not being effective, you should be fighting to make a change on the mundane levels as well, without it you’re just hoping for change, not making it.

Part of this started bubbling up again when Rachel called on us to curse a transphobic preacher. She saw a problem in the world, and wanted to confront it, and whatever she does in her mundane life, she knew she needed to apply magick to the problem. Even if all it resulted in was a magickal standoff of counter-spelling, she saw the fucked up world, and asked us to toss our magick at it.

Why don’t we do this more often? We focus on getting better jobs, more money, and lovers. We focus on skrying the spheres, putting more notches in our black mirror as we try to summon more spirits. Why don’t we focus on the bigger issues. It’s harder for me to believe, the more I realize that my path, and the path of many others, shows the fundamental indivisibility of phenomena, that we’re all connected.

That said, we have to be realistic. We can’t fix everything for everyone. Even the greatest sorcererous miracle workers didn’t save the world, but they shifted it. What happened to their likes? Even John Dee supposedly helped avert a battle with Spain by magickally calling a storm to sink their navy. Magickal journals and literature from the World War II era are littered with people tossing their magick against the Nazis.

Don’t try to fix everything. Pick an issue, pick a strategy, and work on it. We won’t magick our way out of homophobia, but maybe we could protect queer youth until they’re in safer places, and cut the suicide rates. We won’t return cops to a valued and respected position without corruption just by magicking it, but maybe we can make the courts harder on the police brought in on charges of abuse, or make the good cops more able to stand up to corruption. We won’t stop deforestation, but maybe we could move more environmentally minded executives up the ranks, to start shifting policies.

It’s a pipe dream, and it’s unrealistic, but then again, aren’t all great magickal goals? Maybe it will get us no where, or just maybe your hours of effort might save some transwoman’s life, and won’t that make it worth it? Maybe, just maybe, you return some asshole cop to his humanity before he takes a life, and won’t that make it worth it? Maybe, if we’re lucky, you’ll affect a politician’s heart, and they’ll support more resources for homeless shelters and get another kid off the street, and won’t that be worth it?

We have to do more than just Wake up, we have Shake up, and take charge.

I’m rambling, I admit, but I challenge all of you, to find some injustice in the world, something big, something beyond your life, your neighbourhood, your city, something so big you’d never think of trying to fix it. Then make a plan, find a specific element in this injustice, and make a magickal plan, figure out how to attack it, how to shift it, how to heal it. Piece by piece we nudge the world toward a better place, we make change more possible, we make it easier for those of us working on the mundane to succeed to improve these things.

This isn’t your Grandma praying for the “Good Christian” candidate to win the election, this is raw, desperate, but targeted magick, trying to throw a wrench in the gears of a systemically corrupt status quo, and bring some good into the world.

Sometimes your magick should be practical and realistic. Other times you should be willing to throw everything you got into shaking the world, and maybe, just maybe we’ll make it a better place.

VNV Nation – Everything

S.M.A.R.T. Sorcery


The following is based on the opening spiel to a class I just taught addressing a lot of the pitfalls of sorcery (those I’ve encountered and see others encounter).

One of the most obvious pitfalls I see with sorcererous folks is the lack of clear and reasonable goals. I have actually seen people on forums asking for spells to simply “make my life better” and in the process of writing this post I just saw a forum post “Best money spells, go!” But even when people focus on something specific it can be too vague, or too big. Wealth and love magick are probably the two biggest offenders here. People want spells to attract money or love, and leave it at that, as if wealth and money were as simple as a yes or no option.

I’m amused by how many people know of SMART goals from their work, but don’t apply it to magick. If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, it’s an acronym, a few different versions float around, but I use it standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

When you’re setting a magickal goal, ask the question: is it SMART? Let’s use getting a new job as an example.
I’m doing magick to get a job…is that specific? No. That goal needs more details, if that’s all you have then even if you succeed, who knows where you’ll end up. Flesh that out. What type of job? What field? What pay range? What work environment.

I’m doing magick to get a job as an accountant with a stable tech firm making enough money to be comfortable paying my rent and my bills. Is that specific? That’s a hell of a lot better, and if you just shore up your magick from job-in-general to that job, you’re already way ahead of the game.

Be careful though, there is a difference between tightening your magickal goals, and strangling them. Sometimes people can be so specific that there is only one avenue for something to occur (if that). If your job spell is so descriptive and demanding that there is only one possible job for you, then your chances will be exceedingly slim. (Note: This is different than enchanting for a specific job you know of)

Is it measurable? Yes, you have a success/failure criteria. If you end up working at a Starbucks that’s a failure. But it doesn’t have to be binary, you could end up as an accountant with a large retail company, but everything else is what you asked for, it’s not a complete success, but you can measure where you failed and where you succeeded.

Is it attainable? Hopefully, do you have a back ground in accounting, or a degree? That would help. If you just got out of high school it might be unattainable for you. Or if you’re applying for a job way above your qualifications that’s an issue. Attainable is something a lot of magick folk want to argue with me about, saying if it’s attainable why use magick, or if magick makes things happen why not use it for harder to obtain things?

Magick, in this way, I think is like exercise, you should always push yourself a bit farther than where you are. If you can jog for 15 minutes, then try upping yourself to 17, then 20 minutes. But if you can jog 15 minutes, don’t try for a 45 minute run. Don’t use magick to stay where you are, but there is a difference in the attainability and probability of going from desk clerk to accountant, than from desk clerk to Assistant Vice President. You can work your way all the way up the career magickally if you want to take the time, but you can rarely make the jump. Magick can nudge things in your favour, but only so far.

Another way to look at it is how my one teacher explained it. Magick makes things happen, things that are unlikely become more likely, but only to an extent. If something has a 1% change of happening, with magick we might bump it up to 10, 15, or 20%, imagine making something 20 times more likely to happen. Now look at the lottery, you have a 1 in 7,000,000 chance to win, but magick even if you increase your odds 20 times over, that’s still 20 out of 7 million, or one out of 350,000. So it doesn’t help that much, you’re still unlikely to ever win. Magick for what is attainable, and realistic, but don’t settle for a status quo.

Relevant can mean a lot of things. Basically it is useful or practical. Think about how many sorcerers brag about talking to gods and ghosts, or how psychic they are, or how often they do magick to “raise their vibrations” or “ascend the spheres” or all the past lives they remember. Now how many of them are actually getting anywhere? (Don’t get me wrong, I talk to gods and ghosts daily, would argue I’m psychic, and I love going up the spheres, but I know I need to handle shit in the real world too)

What about the goals you’re picking, are they useful? Are they relevant? Think about how this goal will or won’t help you get where you want. Then decide if it is worth the effort. I’m not saying everything needs a profound purpose in your magick, but know why you’re doing it. I’m the sovereign of doing useless shit with magick when I learn a new system, just to prove results. When I teach sigils I often get people to pick clear, minor, and useless goals, just to see their success. Things like “I’ll see a woman in a red dress before lunch.” “I will get a piece of cake.” It proves it works. Just know why you’re doing it, and ask if it will be useful.

Lastly time-bound. Especially if you’re working with spirits. Conjuring up a spirit that’s been working with your magickal tradition for centuries, you and they might see time a bit different so even if you ask for a job with all the specifics…when will it provide it? Give an end time to the working, so you know if you’ve succeeded, or if you fail and it’s time to move on and try something else. Even if you don’t use an external entity, being time-bound in your goal is a way to focus and contain the working.

I know this seems unmagickal to a lot of people, but you have to remember, magick is a tool like any other, it’s not just about using it, but knowing how to use it the most effective ways possible, and a surprisingly large chunk of that can just be targeting your magick. Even if you change nothing else in how you perform your magick, just having a clear goal will help you be more effective.

Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. If you can actually ensure that your magickal goals are hitting those five things you’re on the right track.

Round Pegs and Round Holes


Or Shut Up and Stick It In

square_peg_round_hole[1]Sometimes magickians go out of their way to make things more complicated than they need to be. That in and of itself could be a series of rants, but instead I want to focus on something that happened to me recently. I performed a mo dice reading from a friend, and got Ra-Na, The Dried Up Tree, it’s not a good answer, but the piece of advice was to perform rituals of offering for deceased family and ancestors.

So I explained that things didn’t look good, but he should give offerings to his dead family and ancestors, not to get them to fix it, but to make sure they’re maintained. Hungry ghosts are disruptive ghosts. So we talked a bit and he said something that gave me pause, so I asked and found out he thought I meant family/ancestors as in his past lives. Admittedly sometimes the tradition we work with uses that language-coding, but I had to clarify this time I meant blood family, and actual ancestors, not ancestors as code for past-lives.

“I don’t have any dead family, none of them stuck around.” So I explained one of the models of the soul in several parts which says that the “soul proper” reincarnates, but leaves a shade or remnant behind, an echo that can be animated. My Grandmother died seven years ago, and her soul has moved on, but she still visits me, and I have good conversations at her grave. “I don’t have any connection to my family that is dead.” I explained that it’s not about a connection like that, that’s why some systems of ancestor work uses people who died long before you were born or even parents or grandparents were born, it’s not about a standard idea of familial love, but this idea of supporting your legacy. So even if you didn’t connect in life, or weren’t alive at the same time doesn’t mean you can’t give them offerings, and that they won’t help out. I also explained that offerings to dead family can be made to their current lives, whoever/wherever Grandma is, I can offer her my merit to help out, in the belief that it will benefit her current life.

After a while he responded “So I guess I’m screwed and there is nothing I can do.”

This baffled me. He spent a large portion of our conversation transforming the round peg I offered him into a square peg that no longer fit. I wasn’t asking for a huge change in beliefs, I wasn’t railing against his ideas, I didn’t suggest anything drastic. All I said was to perform an offering to dead family and ancestors, tea and bread by the pictures I know he has up of them. Instead he complicated the issue by trying to force it to match his beliefs “So by family you mean past lives?” “I don’t have any dead family.” “I don’t have any connection to my family that is dead.” “There is nothing I can do.”

Now granted, I hate people who pull, twist, and mixmatch traditions improperly, and appreciate synthesizing beliefs intelligently. On the other hand when you ask for advice, and get clear advice (mo is straightforward there, which is part of why I love it), and you’d rather mangle the advice until it can’t fit or work in your world, then you’re doing something wrong.

Yes I’m picking on a friend a bit here, but I see this a lot. Sometimes life gives you a round peg and a round hole, so shut up and stick it in. Occultists seem to like complicating matters, yes, synthesis is brilliant, but sometimes your attempt at synthesis is more akin to blindfolded jigsaw puzzles.

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