Monthly Archives: September 2011

Brain Stew

I should be writing about big, important, powerful, and interesting magical things right now.  ‘Cause, by Earth and Fire, have I been doing those: honoring the Dark Moon, talking to the strange little gods who live on my altar, and bolstering my house-wards with my first planetary sigils.

Unfortunately, as a result of these big, important, powerful and interesting things … my brain is thoroughly pickled.  So instead I will share a pair of links with you:

The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn … and … The Hermaphroditic Chaorder of the Silver Dusk

Why aren’t I cool enough to be these people?

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Practice, Initiation, Ascension, and Service

Let me preface this by saying that I know full well that I have really only just begun to walk my path.  Even after fifteen years of practice, of learning and teaching and research and occasional bouts of madness … there is so much more to learn.

Having devoted this year to ceremonial magic, I am currently pursuing the most intense and directed course of study of my magical career.  Six weeks in, it’s been both enlightening and energizing, both spiritually and intellectually.  I believe firmly that I will end the year a much more competent witch and magician than I began, ready to plumb the depths of the underworld and heights of the upperworld in ways that I can’t even imagine now.

And yet … there’s a part of me that feels like I’m taking a detour.  RO recently waxed poetic about how awesomely transformative it is to do magical service for others; Dr. Raven posted a ritual to help bolster the arts community.  I want to do magic like this.  I want to devote my time and energy to helping the communities I live in and, by extension, the world at large.  To teach and to heal … this is the work I increasingly feel called to do, especially since my initiation last May.  (And making a few bucks on the side doing it?  Wouldn’t suck.)

However much I learn from my ceremonial studies, however much the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake transforms me … I’m not sure I’ll have earned my next initiation – or, given the peculiarities of my practice, perhaps “achieved my next ascension” might be more accurate – until I have begun that service. 

But I really have no idea where or how to start.  Modern neoPagan witchcraft is so relentlessly self-focused that, except for the production of new books and the running of book stores, there is little room for such service … at least in the portions of the communities that I have experienced.  We often see such things as New Age or capitalist encroachment on our “more pure” spirituality.  But people tend to undervalue things they don’t have to pay for, and priests and healers have to eat just like everyone else.

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Blowing a Fuse

Story time again, happy readers: it’s time for another episode of Great Moments in Holy Fuck I Was A Dumbass Once Upon A Time.  I tell this story now because it’s almost come up in quite a few conversations over the last months, and because I don’t often see discussions on the internet (might just be looking in the wrong places) of how magical practice can directly impact your health.

When I was in high school, and for a while after, I liked to use magic to get high.  I hadn’t really experimented with serious rites yet, mostly just casting circles and the push-and-pull of auras and pure-thought-visualization magics.  So I would get high by drawing in all the power I could, doing breathing exercises until I was dizzy, then put on a talisman to keep me steady* and go out rolling.

Then I lost touch with the people I was practicing with on a regular basis, and I got to where the only times I did any magic were when I was warding my house, helping someone else with theirs, or celebrating the Sabbats with the KU Cauldron.  I started attending the annual Heartland Pagan Festival – and oh, sweet gods, was that a high.  In a period of a couple months, I went from a regular, intense practice, to a feast-and-famine cycle of about four to eight weeks. 

Somewhere along the way, I blew a fuse.

From about the time I was twenty – not long after my friends disappeared and I moved out of my parent’s’ house – I started getting migraine headaches.  For those of you who’ve never had migraines – and especially you bastards who don’t quite believe they’re real – imagine overdosing on caffeine and then suddenly and inexplicably suffering the worst red-wine-tannins-and-cheep-gin-hangover of your life.  The light hurts not just your eyes, but your skin.  Noises and smells hurt your brain.  The only thing that helps at all is lying down somewhere dark and quiet.

After a while I noticed that the migraines came about every two to three weeks on average – sometimes more – usually right after I did a lot of magic, or after I’d gone too long without. 

I started up a semi-regular meditation practice, and laid off some of the big solo ritual, but the net result of that correlation was to slowly stopped practicing magic altogether.  I was about twenty-three.  The headaches went away.  The being crazy got worse.  I spent about a year and a half in my basement, writing a lot and meditating a little, and trying to get my head screwed on straight.  I stopped seeing auras.  I missed a Heartland Pagan Festival in favor of Laid Back Labor Day.  I looked back through my journals and the things I remembered seeing and doing … and I started wondering if I were really crazy.   As in, sending the nice young men in their clean white coats crazy.  I realized I hadn’t actually practiced any magic in a year or more.  I was … empty.  Hollowed out.

Then I went back to Heartland.  I took a great big breath of the life and power of that sacred land.  I drank deep of the power and beauty of the rituals.  (I might have even gotten laid.)  I rediscovered what I was missing.

I talked to D it a few months later.  I remember still-being awestruck by the experience – telling her how I’d been starting to think I’d imagined every magical experience I had before that.  Although I didn’t connect the two events at the time – and it would be more than two years before I actually left – I think it was within the next six or nine months of those events that I started to feel the urge to leave Lawrence – a steady restlessness, and certainty that it was time to move to a new stage.

The migraines have never returned.  My practice has slowly escalated since that nadir, but I have never felt as strong – magically speaking – as I did before I started getting the migraines.  Even now, with a daily ritual practice and a steady observance of both the Esbats and Sabbats … I think I may actually have diminished myself by abusing my talents back in the day.


*In this instance, a hematite ring which – unlike a lump of hematite, which would have grounded me out fast and hard – kept me at a steady level, draining off very slowly.

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Is The Ground Moving Or Am I Just Drinking Too Much?

I’ve been fighting illness since before I came to Indiana.  Sinus infections from stress and working twelve hour shifts in the mall and sucking polishing compound.  Seasonal allergies and the freshmen plagues that come with life at any school and doubly at a residential campus.  The restless sleep that comes from uprooting my base of power and trying to form a relationship with a new place.  The inevitable weakness that comes from loneliness.

Witchcraft draws its power from the here and the now and from relationships with the flesh and blood and bone of the corporeal world.  From what I’ve read and done so far, ceremonial magick seems focused on separating oneself from that world – the king is not a part of the kingdom, he is above it; to be at the center of the universe is to be separate from it.

I was sick as fuck, bedridden for a day, after performing the LBRP two days in a row.

Am I working against myself?  Are my ceremonial experiments undermining my attempts at integrating myself here?  Or is this a manifestation of what Frater Acher is talking about?  That in order for the work I’m doing to make me strong and rooted and integrated, I must first be weak, disconnected, and adrift?

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I Don’t Know What It Was I Saw That Night, But It Sure As Hell Was Awesome

When I was eighteen years old, I saw something I still can’t explain.  Actually, I saw and did a lot of things I never quite grokked.

The one I want to talk about right now – the event came to me last night, a sudden flash of recollection while I was working on something else entirely – took place in a graveyard.  It was one of a couple such field trips with those particular friends, possibly even the first – this was almost thirteen years ago, so forgive me if it’s just a little hazy in parts.  The cemetery was hilly and a little old fashioned, with several large stone angels and little mausoleums, winding paved paths and a few rest areas with benches.  On the far side was a field with a great tree to one side, and the property was blocked in by walls of trees that hid the realm of the dead from those yet living.  Those of you who read my novels some day will recognize it … it left quite an impression on me.

As I said, the north east corner of the cemetery was open, and it seemed to us that we could see a huge, shimmering dome of light there under the moon.  One of my friends, the oldest and most experienced of us, said it looked like a portal of some kind.  Of course we went to investigate.  Wouldn’t you?

What happened next I’ll never forget.

As we approached the dome a figure of light, some seven feet tall, stepped out.  My older friend went up to greet it, while the other two of us stood and stared in awe.  We could hear it talking – or, perhaps more accurately, we could feel it talking – but only she could understand it.

Our friend came back to us, another figure stepped out of the dome of light as the first moved back toward it.  They and the dome of light vanished.

It was relayed to us that the portal had been closed because something that wasn’t supposed to come through … well, had.

I don’t know what the dome of light really was.  Portal to another world is semiplausible, all things considered.  I don’t know who or what the figure of light was – we never even speculated on that, honestly.  We had no data.  I don’t know what it actually said to my friend – not that I doubt her, per se, just … well, I couldn’t hear.  When it comes right down to it, I don’t know what happened that night.

I don’t know what happened that night. All I know is what I saw.  But I saw the dome.  I saw the dude-of-light.  I saw dome and dude vanish. And shit like this is why I’m hesitant to dismiss anything out of hand.

Gods and demons?  Sure.  Your last incarnation was a cat?  Okay.  Talking to gods, demons, or cats?  Plausible.  Fairies and dragons?  Well … I’ve sure seen some strange shit that might be best explained that way.  Otherkin?  Who am I to say who you are or aren’t; or who your parents are or aren’t?  Cause, damn, don’t I get some funny looks when I try to tell this story just as it is, even when I don’t even try to provide an explanation for it.

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Story Time: the Druid Dragon Lady

Speaking of things I saw when I was a mere fluffy faun and clueless mageling… Speaking of Otherkin and things I just don’t quite understand…  I once knew a lady – we’ll call her Medeia – who claimed that the blood of dragons ran in her veins.

I was sixteen or seventeen when I met her.  She was older than most of the people in our group – of legal drinking age before I had graduated high school, though not the only person in the circle of that age – and we bonded fairly quickly, re-establishing the brother-sister relationship we had had in the last life we’d lived together.  She had been practicing magic for longer than most of us, and claimed to have been initiated into a Druid circle.

I’ve already used it twice, and I’m going to use that word – “claimed” – a few more times as I tell this story.  I’m not saying I don’t believe her (except where I am), only that while I never thought to question her at the time, as I look back I never saw any actual evidence that I can recall.

She was there for so many stories that I can’t even recall them all, much less begin to relate them here.  She was there when I did my first past-life regressions, when I met my first spirit-guides – the one who scared me off and the one I ultimately kept then neglected.  She taught me things about auras and shielding, about manipulating magical energy and talking to spirits that – while many people I know have seen or done something like them – I have never seen in print.

I did a tarot reading for her once that broke the glass table we were sitting at.  I laid out the whole deck once, reshuffled, and laid it out again.  I was high with power.  There was a loud cracking noise.  We couldn’t figure out where it had come from, but when we cleared the cards away the glass table top was split in a jagged line from me to her.

Incredible presences followed her around – forces so huge that I did not encounter anything on the same scale, let alone greater, until I started working with gods.  Some of those vast presences – the ones she claimed were dragons – were accompanied by a particular musky smell.  I have encountered that musk and presences like those only two or three times since she passed out of my life.

We explored our past lives together, found that we had been brother-sister, lovers, and father-daughter at various times.  Sometimes she had been the elder, more dominant – other times it had been me.

I still don’t know how to make sense of her claims. From where I’m at now, literal dragon-blood seems fairly outrageous. But … things got awfully strange around her, sometimes. I don’t really know what experiences she had that were best explained as “I’m something more than human”. Or maybe she was just crazy. I don’t know.

When I was about nineteen or twenty – before I moved out of my parents house – she got pregnant and disappeared.  I’ve never seen or heard from her since, which makes me very sad.

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Magic is a Sacrifice

Earlier this month, Frater SEA posited a question: what have you sacrificed for magic?  It’s an important question for one to ask oneself, particularly for me as I begin escalating my practice with some thoughts of going semi-pro.  As such, I’ve spent a lot of the last ten days contemplating it.

My initial reaction was somewhat pithy: I’ve given up the ability to relate intimately with people who don’t practice – or at very least believe in – magic.  And there is definitely some truth to this.  So much of my life revolves around my ritual devotion and magical work.  All my hobbies take a back seat to it, where they don’t feed into it.  I plan social engagements around the Sabats and Esbats.  I chose my major, in part, to make me a better servant of my gods and my community.  The reasons I do things frequently revolve around psychic impressions, and I will inevitably be subjected to any number ritual taboos – only Apollo has demanded such of me so far, but others will in time.  But these things are only true up to a point.  If I were better at the admonition to Keep Silent, I could dissemble about my obligations and motivations.  If I were more willing to shield myself tightly, I would be less vulnerable to psychic storms and sickly auras.  And yet, even as I pose these arguments, what I hear is “If only I weren’t so obviously queer, straight people would like me better.”

There are other obvious answers: I’ve sacrificed a great deal of money on books and ritual supplies; a great deal of time, energy, and money on moving those books and ritual supplies from one location to another.  A bit of blood, a lot of sleep, my self-image more times than I can count.

But as I contemplate it, what seems to me like the thing which people treasure most that magical practice forces you to give up is the ability to pretend that actions don’t have consequences.

I’m not talking in the dangerous, white-light, The Secret, think-positive-or-all-your-suffering-is-your-own-damn-fault kind of actions:consequences relationship.  I’m talking about interconnectivity – the idea/reality that everything is fundamentally connected, that nothing can act (or not act, or even exist) without influencing things around it.  The idea that you can be involved in tainted rituals (Jack Faust again, because he makes the point so elegantly) without yourself becoming tainted is absurd.  In feminism and other leftist intellectual outposts, this idea is called intersectionality, but I learned it first in magic.

I can’t pretend that invoking sexist tropes doesn’t reinforce sexist ideas in both my own mind and in the world around me.  I can’t pretend that attending a ritual celebration (a dance, for instance, or a frat party) of something I oppose doesn’t make that thing stronger by lending it a seeming of credibility.  If I break an oath, my oath is less valuable – in this world or the Other.

I also can’t pretend that I’ll always be able to see the chain of events that link actions and consequences.  I can’t know the results of a kindness or a cruelty, a favor or a snub or even a mere absence, three or four exchanges down the line.  I can’t pretend that I’m the beginning or the end of a chain.  I can only work to improve myself and the world around me and hope it spreads, and returns.

Everyting is connected.  Actions have consequences.  I can’t pretend otherwise.

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The Lesser Banishing Ritual of Not Paying Enough Attention to Your Patrons

This morning began with my second performance of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. The performance was less smooth, somehow, than yesterday’s – I kept almost forgetting small steps, like the Sign of Silence or the line connecting one completed pentagram to the one I was about to start – but no less effective. Actually more so, as I could feel the Archangels start to respond.

More to the point, I could feel the gods on my altar start to get jealous. They want daily attention, too. 

Which is in no way an unreasonable request.

I apologized to them when I was done, did my daily tarot at the altar, and lit them a stick of incense because that was the best sacrifice I had on hand.  And now I have an interesting dilema on my hands: how to perform daily devotionals to gods who haven’t quite gotten around to telling me what they want from me.

Now, this problem does not come entirely from the realms of things unforseen.  As a modern neoPagan, I had some concerns about invoking the Archangels of the God of Abraham in front of the same altar where I worship Dionysos, Hephaistos, Raea, and the Nameless; more to the point, as someone who’s been shit on by the world made by the worshipers of the God of Abraham, I have some strange reluctance and insecurities related to anything that might smack of that worship, and a closeted fear that my gods might not be able to help me if I piss that one off and he decides to shit on me.  Now, as Jack Faust rightly points out – albeit in a somewhat problematic attack on Star Foster, but what can you really say to someone who admits outright to being a condescending ass? – my paleoPagan predecessors didn’t see things that way.

My gods don’t give a flying fuck that I’m invoking Archangels, per se.  They couldn’t have cared less about the last month I spent daily performing the Quabalistic Cross, except perhaps liking that it made my offerings extra tasty/potent.  They also don’t care that, once I’ve gotten a handle on what I’m supposed to be doing, I might well replace those Archangels with them. 

They care that I invoked four Archangels into the Sunrise Temple two mornings in a row, and didn’t make them offerings of equal or greater value.  Which, again, is totally fair.

The problem lies in that the (neo)Pagan sources I have the easiest access to are lazy hippies who seem to see daily devotion as patriarchal oppression.  Unfortunately, I’m way too early in my studies of the Classics to have much knowledge of what ancient cultus practice entailed (not that I have any intention of reproducing it, but it’s damn good place to look for inspiration).  Now, I can – and will – turn to my copy of the Homeric Hymns and see what clues those can provide me.  I can – and, again, will – make underworld journeys to see if they’ll actually tell me what they’d like.  Until those tactics pan out, however, I’m stuck with good, old fashioned, incesne-and-candles-and-prayer ass-kissing.

So mote it be.  @_@

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Approaching the Garden

As of today, I have completed the first month of my year dedicated to the study of ceremonial magic.  For thirty-one days now, I have performed the Qabalistic Cross upon waking and before working any other magic (well, except that one day I overslept and had to come back home to do it at noon; rough morning, that).  I have performed Penczak’s Ascending the Spheres meditation a half-dozen times over the course of the last week, have prepared space in my Inner Temple, and have built my altar of Malkuth. 

After a month of performing the Qabalistic Cross, often more than once in a day, I have mastered it to the degree that I can perform it’s invocation silently – tuning to each of the arms of the Q-Cross the same way I tune to the Elements when I cast my circles.  It has made some lasting changes to my aura, not all of which I yet fully understand, but so far they seem all to the better.  The ritual has helped me keep my course as the time my coursework demands and the toll of my seasonal allergies tear away at the hours of sleep available in any given night.  At a school that strongly encourages people to overcommit themselves, to give more than they have, it is helping me maintain my proper position at the center of my own universe.

There is still a great deal to learn from the ritual, of course, and I will try further variants and modifications as the months pass.  But I am ready to move on.

I am ready to immerse myself in Malkuth – the Kingdom, or the Garden as Pecnzak also calls it, though I wonder at that translation.  I have familiarized myself with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram as much as one can without actually performing it.  I will perform it daily at least for the full month, probably for the rest of the year.  I will perform it in its full and original glory, Archangels and all, for at least a week before experimenting with the common Wiccan variant.  I have a quart of Full Moon water left after starting my mead, and look forward to using that to make Holy Water.  I may also use up the rest of my Dark Moon water for a different batch – I wonder if it will turn out different.  I look forward to exploring the Elemental Realms of Earth as a part of this process, and exploring a new paradigm of the elements.

I approach Malkuth at dawn.  So mote it be.

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Honor to Dionysos from the Sunrise Temple

I finally started my first batches of mead and wine, here in Sunrise, IN.

IMG_4625

The mead is a variant on the “Ancient Orange” recipe, which I will reproduce here because there just can’t bee too many copies of mead recipes on the Internet.  The wine was my most basic Spiced Apple Cider wine.

Satyr Magos’ Ancient Orange Mead

4.5 cups local honey (~3.5lbs)

1 stick cinnamon

2 whole cloves

1 whole large navel

1 pkt bread yeast

~3/4 gallon of water blessed at the full moon (oh, yeah: I went there)

I warmed the honey in an equal volume of water, though the recipe didn’t call for it.  I find it makes it much easier to get into the bottle without a mess.  While that was coming to temperature, I sliced the orange and put it, the cinammon, and the cloves in the bottle.  I then poured the hone-water through a funnel into the carboy, added the yeast, and filled the carboy most of the way with water – being certain to leave enough room for froth and sturm und drang – and mixed it by shaking vigorously.  I stuffed in the airlock and will call it “done” when it clears … hopefully in time for my birthday in the time of the Prince of Swords.

Satyr Magos Apple Cider Wine

1 gal. apple cider

1 stick cinnamon

3 whole cloves

1 pk Lavlin DC47 wine yeast

Pour one glass of cider and drink it.  Add the spices and the yeast.  Shake vigorously and add airlock.  Set aside for as long as you can stand to wait, though I recommend at least a year.

I’ll add nutmeg and a few other things as I get my ands on them.

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