Monthly Archives: October 2011

Days of the Dead

Today is Samhain, celebrated as the neoPagan counterpoint to Haloween, All Saints Eve, and Dia de los Muertos.  The astrological cross-quarter is actually a week from today.

I usually throw down pretty hard for Samhain, but I don’t think I’m going to this year.  I nursed a friend through a drunken flashback this weekend, and it really drove home for me that it’s just not that kind of Samhain this year.  My life is too fucked right now.  I think everybody’s life is too fucked right now.  So instead of having a lot of people over for a big ritual, I’m going to set up an altar to my honored dead and spend the week in mourning and contemplation.  I’m going to focus on my transitionary state, and my mortality, and maybe make a few trips to the underworld.

Blessed be, everyone.  Be safe.  Be loved.  And if you’re having a better year than many of us, please drink a toast to our health.

And try picking up a Guy Fawkes or V for Vendeta mask at the Haloween stores as they start closing down tomorrow, for your Occupy Wallstreet related magics.

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Fuck Yeah Try This At Home

Reading an article on sacred homoeroticism/third-gender sex for one of my classes, I came across this gem:

Arboleda’s survey of Moche erotic art also included analysis of what he names “mythic-religious” figures … The series begins with a group of three male anthropomorphic figures preparing a liquid substance, which in the following scene is poured over the gintal area of two copulating figures.  Arboleda speculates that the substance was a hallucinogen … To [the side of the scene] there is also a winged figure, possibly symbolizing shamanic dream flight. *

Entering a shamanic trance state with the aid of a lover and hallucinogenic lube?  Sign me up!

Sadly, I cannot find a photo of the piece in question.  And whether or not this is an accurate interpretation of the piece is, of course, debatable.  That’s not what I’m here for.  I’m just here to say that it sounds like a damn good idea.


* Horswell, Michael J.  “An Andean Theory of Same-Sex Sexuality and Third-Gender Subjectivity” in Infamous Desire: Male Homosexuality in Colonial Latin America.  Ed. Pete Sigal.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.  pp.25-69

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Yesod Altar

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Behold: my altar to the Qabalistic Moon.  At the corners of the tile are the Nines of the tarot suits in Cowley’s Thoth and the Pamela Coleman-Smith Centeniall.  Atop them are my newly made Air Knife – a loose blade that has been sleeping in my altar for some years joined to a split branch found near my home – a lab-grown quartz wand I had not found use for (besides showing off and zapping guests with) during the decade it has lived on my altar, an art-glass cup serving as chalice, and my newly-recharged peyton.  In the middle are nine candles (they’re tea lights, on account of I’m too cheap to shell out for nine nice candles on a project like this), a rock painted with they glyph of the moon atop the Seal of the Moon, and my ever-handy obsidian orb.  Around the outer edges are XXI the World/Universe, leading back to Malkuth; XIX the Sun, leading to Hod; XIV Adjustment/Temperence, leading to Tiphereth; and XVII the Star, leading to Nezach.

With the construction of this Altar I begin my study of Yesod.  My tasks for the month include:

  • The production of Abramelin Oil (I intend to follow the example of Aaron Leitch, rather than Penczak’s recipe)
  • The Middle Pillar Exercise
  • The Circulation of the Body of Light
  • Storytelling as an act of magic
  • Various Pathworkings and visionary journeys

Two of these, I realize, may well have helped with the issues I was having with the LBRP, had I been willing to tolerate another ten days of that bullshit.

Although the program expects about a month spent on each sephira, I anticipate spending no less than six weeks on Yesod. This is in part because I need to solidify my relationship with the Moon in many regards. One of the tasks Penczak associates with Yesod is sacred story-telling, and I intend to dedicate this year’s National Novel Writing Month effort as an ordeal in the name of the Muses.  The additional time is also necessary for the production of the Abramelin oil, whose ingredients are much harder to come by here in Sunrise than I they would have been in KCMO.

I will, of course, be sharing the results of all these experiments with you: my dearest readers.

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October Full Moon: Wand-Maker’s Moon 3/3

The final night of my lunar rites was simple, relatively speaking.  My heavy work had already been done.  All that remained was to give thanks and contemplate the work that had been done.  I cast the circle simply: tuning quietly to the four elements.  I poured libations to all my gods, took a few moments to charge all my tools, and descended to my Inner Temple.

I walked around entire perimeter, and when I made it full circle, a door opened between the giant Kouros and Cycladies inside the front gate of my temple.  I descended through a straight, dark tunnel to a square, grey stone underground chamber that hadn’t been there before.

There was a silver circle inscribed in the floor.  I stood  in the center of the circle and felt myself filled with the purple light from my instruction with Rhea.  I pulled out the orb she gave me and poured that light into it, then placed the orb in a recess that opened for it in the wall opposite the stairs.

The Full Mon’s Work done at last, I ascended the stairs and returned to my body.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with that sphere, but I suspect there are other tokens waiting for me.

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October Full Moon: Wand-Maker’s Moon 2/3

I began my second night of full-moon rites with an earth-to-sky variant of Q-Cross.  I performed an “LBRP” using a burning sage wand instead of the knife, banishing pentagrams of spirit instead of earth, and invoking Iris, Hephaistos, Rhea, and Dionysos instead of the archangels.  I completed the rite with by invoking Gaea, Ouranos, Hephaistos, and Dionysos in the second Q-Cross.  Let me just say: holy shit that was awesome.  I cast my elemental circle, lit the candles on my Malkuth altar, and invoked Earth manifesting as Malkhuth.

I drank my absinthe-and-dream-herb flying potion, donned my mask, and descended to elemental realm of earth by sinking into the center of the stone circle in my Inner Temple (why can’t I ever go the same way twice?).  I met the guide I call Troll Lady, who was amused when I greeted and addressed her formally.  I asked her to take me to the Lords and Rulers of the Elemental realm to confirm the receipt of my Stone of Sovereignty (in retrospect I probably should have asked for something more open-ended).

She led me down and down and down to a vast dark cavern, along the outside of a bronze gate and wall and into a cavern where I met with shadowy figures who refused to confirm my stone and told me that the sphere was something else entirely.

When they were done with me, I asked Troll Lady to take me to where I should have asked to go in the first place; she told me it was too late for that.  I asked her to take me to where I needed to go now, and she took me to the Garden, from where she led me back to the Inner Temple via a mountaintop which deposited me on the plains facing the gate to my Inner Temple.

I returned to my body, did my monthly Tarot reading, thanked all spirits and powers who have helped me, and closed the circle.

With that journey, my month of Malkuth was complete.

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October Full Moon: Wand-Maker’s Moon 1/3

wandmakermoon

At the beginning of the week I performed three days of Lunar rites, which largely consisted of spirit-journeys following up on my issues with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and with my transition from the study of Malkuth to the study of Yesod.  I began by dedicating the offering bowls which I made for my idols of Dionysos and Rhea, and for my spirit-helper Tsu; I also made bowls for my Kouros and Cycladic figures, but they … didn’t turn out.  I finished by building my Yesod altar.

Monday night, the first night of the full moon, I performed my rites in the Hour of the Moon.  I opened with my inverted Q-Cross and abstained from any variation of the LBRP, as my mission was to return to the underworld for the instruction I had been promised.  I cast my circle, opened a vortex, and descended to the Garden via a World Tree which looked like an apple tree.

I met the leopard and he guided me to the temple again, this time with two kraters of wine.  The path was already open, giving me glimpses of hundreds of other Gardens as I passed.  I took my female shape at the temple, thanked the leopard, and went up several steps.  Rhea waited for me on her throne again, and there was something hiding behind it which left me with a vague impression of yellow.  We performed the same drinking ritual as before: I handed her the krater to drink from, se returned it to me to drink, and we passed it back and forth until it was empty. 

She handed me a sphere of pale stone and asked me to perform the LBRP as I had been instructed.  I did so, and I could feel my root chakra rotting even in that sacred space.  I knelt at her feet and she healed me again.

I received no … direct instruction.  Not in the way I had imagined, anyway.  Instead she filled me to the brim with purple light – subconscious clues, I believe, which will surface as I need them.

When asked if I was ready to pursue the mysteries of the moon in Yesod, she said yes and bid me farewell.  I returned to my body almost directly.

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Cross and Pentagram–Rites of the Obsidian Dream

Since discovering that satyrs and archangels don’t mix, I’ve been experimenting with variations on the Qabalistic Cross and the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

The first variant I tried was the simplest: I stripped the god-names and the archangels from the rites.  Instead of intoning the various Names, I tuned to analogous forces from within my own paradigm.  The Source and Manifestation (Atah, Malkuth) of the Q-Cross are not unfamiliar to me, though they’re archetypal energies I had never worked with before this exercise.  Power and Glory (Vi Geburah, Vi Gedulah) … well, so far they’ve always felt more like Wrath and Wonder, and again, not so unfamiliar.    Replacing the archangels was even easier: I simply tuned to the elemental powers I’ve been working with for years.  Had I not performed the proper LBRP for the previous three weeks, I would have thought this rite an effective one.

The next variation was more significant: I continued with the Cross, but inverted it altogether: starting with Earth – or, more accurately, the Primal Life of which Earth is a manifestation – below and drawing that power up through my chakras to connect with the Source above.  Power/Wrath and Glory/Wonder I left the same.  This was incredibly effective, though I haven’t done it long enough to determine if it has any strange side effects.  When I next attempted the Pentagram Ritual, I tried replacing the banishing pentagram of earth first with the banishing pentagram of spirit, then with the invoking pentagram of earth.  Both were interesting, and deserve further study.

In the three days between seeking healing for the damage done to me by the LBRP and the beginning of my Lunar rites, I gave up the pentagram portion of the rite altogether until receiving the instruction I was promised.  The details of that instruction were … vague, but I’ll get into that later.  The second night of the moon, when I cleansed my house and dedicated a number of new tools, I performed a variant where I invoked, rather than the archangels, the gods Iris (in the east for air), Hephaistos (in the south for fire), Dionysos (in the west for water) and Rhea (in the north for earth).  Let me tell you, I felt the ground move when I did that.

This morning, as I resumed my daily practice in preparation for my study of Yesod, I invoked a number of more primal gods: Earth and Sky, Sun and Moon for the Cross; Mnemnosyne for air, Prometheus for fire, Rhea again for Earth, and Okeanos for water.  That, a little to my surprise, was less potent.  Possibly due to my exhausted state after a week of chaos, or due to my lack of practice for the last six days, or even possibly due to my lack of relationship with most of those gods.

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Hanging on With Both Hands, All Ten Toes, and A Bite A Pitbull Would Envy

The worst thing about an ambitious daily practice and escalating experimental regimen, from my perspective as a part-time writer and full-time student, is that there is way more going on than I can keep track of.

I’ve been experimenting with alternatives to the Q-Cross and LBRP.  These experiments have been very successful, both in terms of aura-cleansing and space-cleansing, and in terms of not fucking up magical body so bad that saturiao is the last of my concerns.  As such, I have completed my month studying Malkuth

Wand-Maker Moon has just passed, and with it three consecutive days of ritual.  My Full Moon Rites were … productive, but I still haven’t finished sorting it all out.  Also, this month looks like its gonna be a doozy.

I have just constructed my Yesod altar for the next stage of my ceremonial studies, which I intend to spend the next six weeks on.

Meanwhile, the Occupy Wallstreet protests are escalating, and it vexes me sorely that I can’t be there.  I’m trying to figure out some magic I can do to further the anti-corporate and anti-capitalist goals of the movement, but I’m just not quite there yet in my studies of doing-things-here-in-the-mortal-world magic.

And I still haven’t gotten a chance to meditate on the Secret Sun series on re-enchantment, or Gordon’s rant on the tactics of practical magic, or any of the other fascinating things that have gone on in the corners of the magical blogosphere which I frequent over the last month or so.

Thing have gotten so frantic that even my personal journals are somewhat ashambles … again.

Fear not.  I dance on, and further tales of my exploits and mishaps shall be forthcoming.

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Things You Never Thought Could Go Wrong With Magic

We must never forget that there is more to magic than the mere performance of rites.  One does not simply chant words of power and bend the world to one’s will.  One is also bent, sometimes against our natural grain. 

This post explores an intersection of sex and magic.  There are no “gory details”, but if the thought makes you uncomfortable you might not want to read it.  You have been warned.  With that said, though, I hope that even if some of the people who know me out in the world choose not to read this one, it might receive particular scrutiny from any of my readers who have more experience in these areas than I.

Because this shit was so totally not in the manual.

I have now performed the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram nearly every morning for three weeks.  Magically speaking, this was a fantastic exercise: the energetic equivalent of a daily trip to the gym.  The ritual got me out the door on several mornings when I thought I might not manage to leave the house.

Not all, however, was as it should be.  The first sign that something was awry came at the Dark Moon, when a nymph with whom I have been keeping company invited me to share her sheets … and I failed to adequately reciprocate that honor.  It’s embarrassing, but also a sad fact of male biology: sometimes the plumbing just doesn’t work, especially when one is nervous, as one might be with a new, younger lover. 

Then, a week later, I failed again.  I began to wonder what was different – my diet has changed, but not so much or so badly as to cause that sort of problem; I haven’t been that sleep deprived; I’m in as good a shape now, physically, as I’ve been in years; and it sure wasn’t lack of interest.  Meditating on the subject, I could only find one significant difference: the magic I’m practicing. 

Meditating further on the subject – perhaps the first serious self-diagnosis I’ve done since escalating from the Q-Cross to the LBRP – I discovered that in the formation of a Malkuth-shaped energy nexus at my feet, my “root” chakra (the one between my genitals and the base of my spine) and my One Point (the one right above that) had been hollowed out. 

Was I doing the LBRP wrong?  I don’t think so.  Was I damaged by banishing elemental earth and invoking sexless archangels every morning?  I think that might be it.  Actually, given what came next, I know it was.

Three days ago, I replaced the archangelic invocations with invocations of the elements.  I did traditional chakra meditations.  I could feel it revitalizing me, but it wasn’t enough.  Last night, I begged Dionysos for help with the immediate problem and sought answers in the underworld.

I found myself in a primordial garden, Dionysos’ white leopard and my side.  The cat led me into the garden, warned me against the very very tempting apples, and gave me a krater of wine to carry as a gift.  I struggled to keep up as the leopard led me through a series of veils which reminded me of nothing so much as the oppressive geometry which pinned me to the ground on my second underworld journey.  It was a battle to maintain my shape – I was a man at the beginning, then the woman-shape I take sometimes in the underworld, then both, then the scarlet dragon I see sometimes in my visions of “past lives”, then a skeleton, then a sphere of white light, before finally managing to maintain my own form.

I caught up to the leopard at the steps of a great open-air temple – something drawing influence from Hellenic architecture, and the pagoda, and the most modern syncretism.  I ascended the stairs and found a regal, queenly figure whom I know well.  Usually she is nude and gargantuan, reclining in a cave within the bowels of the earth.  Here she was only a little taller than myself, clothed in a rich and conservative chiton and a crown which resembled nothing so much as a castle.

“Only mortals are naked here,” she told me when I asked.

I gave her the goblet I had been given, and she drank of it before instructing me to do the same.  We passed it back and forth, and when it was empty I knelt and her feet and laid my head on her knee.  She told me that the Banishing  Ritual was, indeed, to blame for my … problem: an incompatibility between the rite and my own Work.  She repaired most of the damage that had been done to me, and told me that when I returned to this place on the first night of the Full Moon, she – or her representative – would instruct me in the proper way for me to perform the rite.

I returned to my flesh, cast back by that same geometric force.  One hesitates to say more, for fear of being crude; suffice to say that my satyr’s honor has been restored. 

Could anyone have warned me that this might happen?  Possibly.  Does anyone out there have an explanation for this shit?  Sweet gods of fragrant heaven, I hope so.  Chiefly, though, I share this story in hope that someone out there might be saved from this problem.

Also, I’m really glad that my gods love me enough to help with this sort of problem.

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Tradition, Technique, Appropriation, and Exploration Part 2/2

The last post was already in the works when when Gordon, Jason, Jow, and RO began their discussion of the simplicity, complexity, and relative eclecticism of their practices.  I seriously sympathize.  If you’ve read my previous post, I imagine you can see why: eclectic Wicca, years of unverifiable personal gnosis (both my own and that of those I’ve worked with), Hellenic gods, neo-shamanic spirit-journeys, Chaos- and Hermetic-inspired sigils, masks and hammers and things no one else has ever thought to do with a circle.

As I said before: I’ve spent years searching for a tradition.  I’ve played with Cunningham and Conway, dabbled with Crowley, Carrol and Kraig, mocked Lady Sheba and Silver Ravenwolf alike.  I am a student of Tarot and astrology.  I’ve experimented with candle magic and sorcery and astral projection, with auric healing and magically enhanced massage.  I’ve tuned myself to the elements and grounded into the astral plane – invoked the cosmic forces of the quarters and cast spells with nothing but the power of my own aura.  I have gone on spirit journeys and hung out with gods and spirits.  No one tradition I’ve found covers half these things, let alone all of them.  So, while the search continues, I’ve been working on my own: a systematic breakdown of the things I’ve done (as best as I can with my substandard journals), and maps of the things I want to do in the future.  I doubt anyone will ever want to join, but it will be perfect for me. And who knows, maybe I’ll find the perfect apprentice some day.

And yet … I still wax poetic, sometimes, about Traditions and Orders.  I share that strange jealousy for those who can name their path and have it recognized.  Envy for those who’ve found a teacher or a system that they can adopt in toto – even if they still need to look outside that system for new techniques to fill its inadequacies, addendums and appendices to a finite and discrete system.

I’m white, (apparently) cisgendered, and from a (lower) middle class family.  The list of spiritual traditions that I have any “legitimate” claim to are relatively few.  Unfortunately, none of them are to my taste.  Which leaves me either blazing trails in a dark and moonless wilderness or seeking refuge in other spiritual lands … and trying to avoid the ones where the locals would just as soon I curled up and died.  Or, as always, all of the above.

Does it sound a little like I’d like someone to do the hard work for me?  Yeah, it’s a little bit like that: I envy the people who can just accept a prefab structure.  For whom any of the existing systems have meaning.  Satyrs are not, by nature, hard workers: we like to drink and dance and fuck (nymphs, eachother, mortals, deities … I deal exclusively with enthusiastically consenting humanoids of legal age, myself, but other satyrs aren’t so picky).  So, yeah, I wish I could take a lazy rout.

But I can’t.

So I’m ecclectic.  I look to the past and to the modern Western Hermetic and Witchcraft traditions for inspiration.  I learn techniques from anyone who is wiling to share – god or mortal – and try to make sure all my sources are ethically sound.  Still … inevitably … I’m a transgressor of spiritual boundaries even as I am of social ones.  I’m bisexual.  Although I’m male-bodied and I present (mostly) as masculine, I actually identify as “fuck you and your stupid gender dichotomy”.  I am a hedonist and an intellectual in a society that simultaneously condemns both pursuits and sees them as inherently incompatible.  I am a historian in a religion that is (understandably) skeptical of mainstream historiography (a post of its own for another day), and which in its attempts to acquire popular and legal credibility is increasingly absorbing the overculture’s anti-intellectualism.

I am a queer, hedonist, shamanic witch.  The party’s at my place, and we can talk Plato in the morning … maybe hung over, maybe still smashed.

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