Monthly Archives: November 2011

One Image, One Link, and One Lame Excuse

Over the last week I have made serious progress in the performance of my daily rites.  Experimenting with various forms, I continue to perfect a set of variations on the Q-Cross, LBRP, Middle Pillar, and Circulation of the Body of Light that work best for me.  I wanted to go over that in depth today, but am not quite satisfied yet with the write-up.  Unfortunately, Thanksgiving break has come to an end, and my writing time will once more be severely curtailed.  Hopefully I will still be able to produce it for you in time for tomorrow.

In the meantime, let me direct you to this excellent post by Jack Faust.  These are all themes I’ve touched on, either here or in physical conversation with some of you, and I pretty much agree with everything he has to say here.  I did some serious experimenting with magical shape-shifting back in the day (though I didn’t think of it in those terms at the time), but I pulled back when I scared myself … and, as with too many things, never went back to try again.  That’s definitely a story for another day.

Finally: over Thanksgiving break, I spent a lot of time meditating with my sketchbook.  Here is a result of my contemplation on Baphomet, the Sabbatic Goat:

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Magical Self-Care III

Elemental Cleansing Ritual

I wrote this ritual specifically as a part of this self-care packet.

This ritual calls for a private space. Outside is ideal, but not necessary. You must be near enough to the ground to feel and call upon Elemental Earth (assuming you have any trouble with that), and/or have some sort of Earth talisman to aid you. You should also have a lamp or candle and a bowl or body of water nearby, or some other talisman of those elements. A crystal, feather, or some other Air-symbol might be appropriate for the sake of appearances if nothing else.

Begin by casting a circle. Slow your breathing and enter a meditative trance.

Concentrate on the Element of Air.

Breathe deeply and fill yourself with Elemental Air. Contemplate the Air as it enters your lungs. Feel it permeate your body as you hold your breath for a half-count. Breathe it out slowly, and feel yourself grow slightly lighter as you do so. Breathe in, hold; breathe out, hold. Feel yourself growing a little lighter with each cycle. Breathe slowly and deeply. In, hold; out, hold.

Feel the Air coming in through your pours as you breathe in through your nose. Feel yourself growing boyant. As you exhale breathe out through your pours as well, and feel your stress and tension oozing out of you. The Elemental Wind begins to stir, taking away the stress and negativity that you are driving out of your pours. Breathe in, hold; breathe out, hold. Your body is loosing touch with the ground.

The Wind grows stronger and your breaths begin to quicken: still deep, but changing steadily. The Wind grows warmer, too. Breathe: in, out, in, out, pause; in, out, in, out, pause. The wind grows warmer and blows harder and your breath quickens further.

Conjure the Element of Fire .

Fanned by the Wind, Fire lurks within—rising up to burn away darkness and impurity. The quicker your breath, the hotter the Fire burns. Breathe: in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out.

The Fire cleanses. The Fire seers away all that is not wanted, all that stands in your way. Your breath will grow shallow. At times you may seem to loose substance. This is an illusion of the flames; embrace it or ride it out, whicheverbest suits your needs.

Breathe: in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out.

When the Fire has done its work, slow your breathing gradually. Feel points of cool moisture invade the hot, dry space of the Fire. The Fire will burn that Water away, at first, but as your breathing slows it is the Fire which will be overwhelmed.

Quench Yourself in the Element of Water.

Let your breath become like the tides: in slowly and out slowly, followed by a pause. The Water soothes you, washing away whatever darkness and self-doubt the Air and Fire have left behind. Your breathing slows further and you begin to grow heavy.

The heavier you grow, the slower you breathe, and the deeper into Water you sink. Light disappears, and there is only the eternal action of the Tides.

Breathe: in slowly until your lungs can fill no more, out slowly until there is nothing left, hold for as long as you can. The water has washed you clean. You are an empty vessel.

Seek Solace in the Element of Earth.

In time, you reach the end of the Water, resting on the bottom of the ocean floor. Your breath begins to change: a pause appearing between inhalation and exhalation.

Time slows, you grow heavier still, and the Earth seeps into you even as you sink further into it. Breathe in, pause; breathe out, hold. Breathe in, pause; breathe out, hold.

The Earth fills you and restores you, filling you with a vital Life. The dark void of the ocean floor gives way to an earthen russet then to a leafy green. Breathe: in, pause; out, hold. In, pause, out hold.

You are one with Life. You are one with the Earth. Lush soil, tall trees, and green vines and ferns surround you. You are within them, among them, of them. Breathe: in, pause; out, hold. In, pause, out hold.

Slowly, your breathing begins to return to normal. The forest releases you—one leafy branch, one serpentine vine, one blade of grass at a time.

You are whole, now: scoured by Air, purged by Fire, quenched and cleansed by Water, and restored by Earth. Come back to yourself.

Close the circle.

Sleep is probably a good idea.

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Magical Self-Care II

Crystal Chalice Visualization

Adapted from material by Chirotus Infinitum, devised for a student feeling somewhat less than whole. Although this exercise is simple enough to be performed by nearly anyone, it was devised for use by an experienced magician who had done himself a great deal of ill.  Again, given to me as a contribution to my Book of Shadows project.

Begin by performing a relaxation ritual.

With your eyes closed, focus attention on the heart area. Visualize a shallow crystal chalice there. The chalice is cracked and chipped, and filled with a thick, foul-smelling black liquid.

Now visualize a stream of brilliant white light descending from above and pouring into the chalice. The light dilutes the black liquid in the chalice, and as the chalice overfills, the dark liquid pours over the side and is absorbed into the earth. As the liquid in the chalice becomes lighter and cleaner, the chalice’s chips and cracks begin to close and seal. The chalice becomes deeper, with a higher rim.

Perform the relaxation ritual again.

The next time the visualization is performed, imagine the chalice in a more repaired state, with a deeper bowl and higher rim. The fluid in the chalice should also get progressively lighter in color and consistency as the light continues to dilute and displace the dark liquid.

This ritual may be performed once a day, and the results should be recorded in your ritual journal.

Healing Waters Meditation

Adapted from techniques taught to me by Aradia. A ritual bath is an exceptionally helpful setting for this ritual, but in no way required.

Begin by entering a meditative state. Breathe slowly, deeply.

Visualize yourself standing in a featureless black plain. The gleaming obsidian landscape stretches off forever to meet an infinite obsidian sky. Dwell in the darkness. Marvel at its beauty.

Step forward and a path will appear in the darkness. As you follow the path, a tree will appear, and the path will lead you there. Other trees appear on the horizon, and soon the void has been replaced by a forest, the path become a deer-track.

The path opens up into a clearing, and the tree you have been seeking stands in the middle. A deep, clear stream runs beside it.

Sit beside the stream with your back against the tree. Listen to the sound of the water moving against the rocks. Let it soothe you. Dip your feet into the water and let the stream draw all your tension out of your feet and disappear down stream.

When you are ready, undress and fold your clothing at the base of the tree.

Step into the waters. The temperature is perfect to soothe your aches. As you slip deeper into the stream, let it wash away your aches and worries: drawing them out of your pours and taking them away to the ocean.

If there is a particular part of your body that hurts, or a particular concern which is overwhelming you, focus on that. Push that pain into the current and the the stream take it.

When you are ready, return from the waters, refreshed and renewed.

Thank the tree and the stream.

Dry yourself, dress, and return to the waking world.

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Site May Be Briefly Under Construction

I’m going to start experimenting with a new, 3-column layout.  If the site is wonky at some point over the next few days, blame that.

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Magical Self-Care I

A Relaxation Ritual

Adapted from material developed by Chirotus Infinitum for one of his students and given to me as a contribution to my formal Book of Shadows while we were working together in the proto-coven. It seems to be rooted in a number of ceremonial/Golden Dawn exercises, and could be described as a variant on the Circulation of the Body of Light. The text was originally written by Chirotus, with some adaptation on my part to fit the format of my Book of Shadows.

Sit or lay in a place where you will not be disturbed for at least five minutes. Remember to turn off your phone and any other distractions. Get comfortable. If you are sitting, your back should be straight. Whether sitting or lying down, your legs and arms should not be crossed. If sitting, rest your hands, palms down, in your lap. Your eyes should be closed.

Visualize a golden ball of beautiful, warm light surrounding your feet. If you cannot “see” the ball of light when you visualize it, that is okay – just know that it is there. Truly know that if your powers of visualization were different you would be able to see it. The ball of golden warm light always brings peace and total relaxation. Wherever the ball of light goes, tension departs. Let it go and, as it goes, feel your feet filled with the warm, golden glow of peace and total relaxation.

Now allow this ball of light to rise up your legs and up your torso. Then allow it to go down your arms to your fingers, and finally up your neck and into your head, until you are completely covered in the warm, golden glow of total peace and relaxation, and all tension is gone. If you notice tension anywhere, send the ball of light there and the tension will vanish.l

Stay in this state of deep relaxation for a few moments. Know that you can return to this state whenever you like simply by doing the relaxation ritual. If you are having trouble sleeping, ry this ritual when you lay down at night instead of suffering or taking pills. Be at one with yourself.

When you are ready to come out of this state of deep relaxation, take three deep breaths and feel fresh life and energy coming into your body with each breath. Be sure to record your experience in your ritual diary.

Golden Light Cleansing

The golden light cleansing is very much like the relaxation ritual described above. The difference is partly a matter of scale, but chiefly a difference in style. This work is my own, though it is not absolutely unique.

Begin with the relaxation ritual or any beginner’s trance. Once you are relaxed and adrift, visualize a ball of brilliant, glowing, warmth. Allow it to suffuse not just your body, but your very soul with gentle lassitude, beginning with the crown of your head.

As your head and neck relax, do not move the ball of golden light. Instead, visualize it growing larger and larger, moving down your shoulders, arms, and chest. By the time it reaches your feet, you are not just filled with golden light: you are made of golden light. You are warm, quiet, and at peace. You are one with everything and nothing.

Hold that feeling for several minutes: the golden light, the oneness.

When you are ready, allow the golden light to fade to brilliant white, then to soft silver.

Take three ritual breaths.

Ground and center if you need to.

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A Thank-You Note, Two Links, and Some Reminiscing

First off, I want to say hello and thank you to all the new people stopping by the blog lately.  The blog’s public followers have almost doubled in the last week, and a crazy number of people have added me on Google+.  Thank you all for reading.  Seriously.  It fills me with a decidedly un-satyr-like sort of joy to have you here.

Second, a ritual shared with me by Aradia and being passed on to another friend who is likewise in need of some magical self-care.  I’m putting together a packet of such self-care rituals and meditations for that friend, and I’ll be posting some of the other exercises here over the next several days—many oldies but goodies that have been in my Book of Shadows for years, others contributions from various friends, and some inevitable overlap between the two categories.  Nothing too heavy-duty—that would defeat the purpose—but hopefully helpful.

Finally, a post by one Soror A.I.D., detailing some energy work she’s been experimenting with.  The post is from April, so I don’t know if she’s made any further progress with this experiment, but it reminds me a lot of the magic-games I used to play back in the day.

I remember learning how to shield in highschool by visualizing myself in heavy anime-style plate armor.  I remember trying to meditate one day, and being unable to reach a real trance until I’d peeled off some seven layers of accumulated shielding.  I remember learning how to move and generate magical energy, after many fits and starts by holding a magnet toy in my hands and feeling the changes it made in my aura.

I remember learning how to shield effectively, without cutting off the world around me, by figuring out how to deflect the probes my coffee-house friends would push at each-other—worm-like tendrils and bright orbs and sharp splinters of will—and learning how to pierce shields in the same fashion.  I remember learning to play “catch” with those same bright orbs, to decode and reproduce energy signatures as part of complex but meaningless games.  I remember the blades of power I made, and all the good they never did me except to scare a few people who knew even less than I did.

I remember shaping and transforming energy—earth to air, light to dark, hot to cold—all day and every day, just because I could.  I remember weaving it into complex shapes for no other reason than that I could, and maybe to see what would happen.

Is it any wonder I blew a gasket?

In the years since, I’ve done relatively little of that sort of things.  Some games of “tag” with the proto-coven and Aradia.  Innovations in circle-casting and house-wards.  Some experiments in magical healing.  Oh, and that whole weird thing with Tsu.

I need to get back to it.  I need to find my old journals and re-read them for inspiration.  I need to re-read Maya Heath’s Energies which is the only book I’ve read that talked about that sort of thing even a little bit.  And I need to find more bloggers who aren’t afraid to talk about the kinds of magic that sound like a fucking fantasy novel.  What could I do with those old techniques now that I know how much more is possible?  What could I learn about myself and the world and magic?

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Reaching the end of Yesod

My time working with the Moon and Yesod has been … scattered.  This will probably come as little surprise to anyone who’s done a lot of Moon work.  It’s been very difficult for me to stay focused on any one thing for very long, and I’ve had much more trouble than usual following through with my intentions.

After maintaining a daily practice for two solid months—one of prep work and one of Malkuth—I have fallen almost entirely off the horse.  I’ve been doing better this week: I’ve gotten up and performed my daily rituals for five days out of the last seven, and I’m getting back on top of daily journaling (at least in the mornings).

My emotional state has been … changeable.  Emotionally speaking, I’ve gotten more fully entangled in some things (people) than I originally intended; fortunately that’s mostly gone for the best despite lack of planning.  In the thrall of the Moon, I’ve struggled with insomnia and depression—though, granted, both of these are as attributable to the stress of mid-semester crunch time.  As I shift into Hod for December that stress is only going to get worse.

My Abramelin oil is coming along nicely.  The charge on that stuff is … interesting.  I look forward to using it in earnest and seeing what happens.

The Middle Pillar and Circulation of the Body of Light exercises have been incredibly helpful to me, and will probably remain a part of my practice even when I’m done with this ceremonial experiment.  I speculated at the beginning of the month as to whether those rituals would have helped with the trouble that the LBRP gave me.  I no longer believe that to be the case.  While they might have sufficed to balance out someone of a different magical and spiritual background, I have become convinced that there was something about the interaction between my magic and the LBRP which was uniquely problematic.

My Magical Storytelling exercise has been … interesting.  I haven’t made it nearly as far into NaNoWriMo as I had hoped (not quite 15,000 words of 50,000), but I’ve had a few interesting insights while pursuing the project.  As part of those joined projects, I’ve written incomplete drafts of three hymns: two to Dionysos and one to the multitudinous Muses.

As the Dark Moon approaches, I am preparing to do the journeywork portions of the Yesod rites.  I do not anticipate them going even as well as the Malkuth journeys, whose peculiarities I have still not resolved.  I will be bringing some Moon issues into my study of Hod.

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One Altar, Rebuilt and Simplified

As a result of yesterday’s near-catastrophe, I have spent the last day and a half disassembling my altar, cleaning it, and putting it back together.  Keeping Frater Acher’s recent post in mind—the parts I understood were rock-solid advise, which I will take into better account once I’ve finished my year of complicating my magic with ceremonial studies—I have greatly reduced the clutter of crystals and half-started magical projects.
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It’s a work-in-progress, of course.  There are still a half-dozen gods and powers who need to be honored here, and it’s almost time to transition from Samhain to Yule.  A lot of my tools and crystals need better homes than I have for them now—most prominently, the collection of wand piled on the left-hand side, for one, and the rock and tarot collections currently packed in that grenade box on the right.
Speaking of my wands and tarot cards, I thought I’d take a moment to show them off since I had them all out while I was doing the cleaning.
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Yes, that’s more than one thyrsus you see there (θύρσος, more accurately transliterated as thursos, plural θύρσοι thursoi; dual θύρσω thurso probably not appropriate to this instance).  The one on the left is newer, longer, and lighter—more practical for carrying about; the one on the right is use-dedicated in mead-making and Beltane rituals and weighs a shit-ton.  The plain iron, clay, and copper number in the middle is my general-use double-terminated wand.  The willow branch was a gift which I haven’t made use of light I ought to.  The second from the right is made of copper, clay, obsidian, and amethyst, and I use it for healing work.  The foot-long crystal on the right is lab-grown quartz and lived on my altar for a decade before being put to use on my ceremonial altar.
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Fourteen of my fifteen tarot decks are pictured above—there’s also a Waite-Smith deck the size of the smaller Thoth (came in a set with, actually) which I have lent to a friend at school who is interested in studying the tarot.  Both were gifts from Aradia, given at a time—a month or two before Crowley holdings were put back into publication—when Thoth decks were almost impossible to find.  The Pamela Coleman-Smith Centennial set was also a gift from Aradia.  The Gypsy Fortune Telling set was a dumpster find.  The second, larger, Thoth deck was purchased for use in my ceremonial studies.  From left to right, the second row down features the Goddess Oracle Deck, the Witch’s Tarot, the Hansen-Roberts deck (my very first tarot deck), the Lord of the Rings Tarot (a gift from a lady I courted back in the early days of the KU Cauldron), and an Art Nouveau tarot deck.  The bottom row shows the Shapeshifter Tarot, an old-school cardstock tarot with Waite-Smith major arcana and no illustrations on the minors; the Unicorn Tarot (which I have no idea how I got my hands on, but can’t give up because I’m a hoarder), another Art Nouveau tarot deck, and the Celtic Tarot.
Returning to the subject of my altar … it’s almost time for Yule.  I pretty much forgot about Mabon.  Samhain has always gotten more extravagant treatment from me than any other holiday.  I don’t want to go back to forgetting about the seasons—down that path leads to also forgetting about the moons—particularly not while I’m doing this whole ceremonial thing.  I don’t want to get any more unbalanced than I already am.
Seasonal altars was something I never really bothered with before living with Aradia, but even if I had I wouldn’t have done Yule. Now that I’m no longer with her, I’m not really sure how to do seasonal altars. Yule has always been too much like Christmas, a holiday which I have hated with an ever-increasing passion since I got too old to miss how much it stressed out my parents.  Between the annual ordeal of extended-family drama and the horror that was working jewelry during the gift-giving holiday, I pretty much had nothing but hate for the entire two-month stretch from my birthday until New Years, when the fervor finally went out in a drunken orgy.
I don’t have to deal with those family members anymore.  And while I may pick up some shifts in jewelry over the holiday, it’ll be so mercenary on my part as to lack the usual sting.  I have my sun-god mask, but his seasonal crowns didn’t survive the move.  And   Finally, I will actually be in Kansas City for the Sabbat, itself—assuming that no blizzards take out the highway between here and there.
So the question remains … what will I do with my altar for Yule?

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My Ever-Evolving Altar–or–Attack of the Killer Zodiac

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I actually never got a picture of the last incarnation of my altar.  This is what it looked like before I took down my separate Samhain altar-which was taking up too much of the very little space I had available-and incorporated the two.

Now my altar looks like this:

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Note the conspicuous absence of my zodiac poster, which has served as my wheel of the year.  This morning, while I was moving the two-liter of mead which will serve as my holy water, the zodiac poster pitched off and crashed right in the middle of the lowest table.  Somehow, it did this without nocking the quartz and amethyst off the top.  The poster did knock off the horned god mask and cross … yet, somehow, neither suffered any real damage.  The mask has a slight chip on the bottom; the cross is untouched.  Even the geode right in front of the cross was undamaged.

There were a lot of delicate things on the surface where the poster landed were largely untouched: an impossibly delicate perfume bottle that has somehow survived on my altar for the last fifteen years miraculously survived this experience, though the stopper was flung halfway across the table.

Only three things, in fact, were broken: the candle holders for my Earth and Water candles, and the plastic poster frame itself, which looks like someone punched it in the very center.

There are a few different ways for me to read this somewhat surreal experience:

1) I knocked the poster over without realizing I’d even touched it, and through miraculous intervention nothing of real value was lost.

2) Someone on my altar needs more attention.  Candidates include (from left to right, top to bottom) the Horned God Mask, the Death Mask, Dionysos, Hephaistos, Kouros, Cyclades, Rhea, and Sue.

3) Someone not yet on my altar needs more attention.  Candidates include (in no particular order) Iris, Apollo, and Mercury, to say nothing of the multitudinous gods and spirits who may not have introduced themselves to me by name.

4) The altar itself is feeling unloved, and wants a hardcore cleaning.

5) None of the above.  Something that never even crossed my mind.

For the moment, I intend to simultaneously act on possibilities 1 and 4.  Until someone informs me otherwise.

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Annual Reading part 1/2

For the last several years I have performed or received a massive Tarot reading whose purpose is to give me some idea how the coming year will pan out.  This year’s reading is … less auspicious than those previous.

Two years ago, this annual divination was part of what gave me the courage to leave my mall bench in favor of full-time school.  Last year, it gave some indication of how my transitionary process would go.

This year … well, it looks like I’ve got some rough times up ahead.  My annual reading consists of two parts: an inner circle laid out with the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck in a slightly modified version of the Twelve Houses spread, giving me a thematic view of the year; and an outer circle laid out with the Robin Wood deck, giving me a chronological view.

THEMATIC VIEW

1st House – general outlook – 10 Wands “Oppression” – fix with IX the Hermit

10W—Blocked development, problems with authority, fear of life, “straightjacket”. Encourages recognizing one’s limitations and acting responsibly. Warns against demonstrations of power, intolerance, and suppressed aggressions.

IX—Contemplating what is essential, defining one’s position, seclusion, seriousness, retreat, getting to the bottom of things, life experience. Encourages letting something mature, taking oneself seriously. Warns against embitterment, cranky solitary ways, unworldliness. As card for the year: advises using the coming phase to think about life and what one wants out of it. Periods of retreat and isolation may be necessary and even for the good, but one should do so in moderation.

This is not a good way to view the world. I’m going to feel like I’m being blocked by the cock of the universe, and the worst possible reaction is going to be to start flailing my own cock around in response. The Hermit clarifies what 10W encourages: keep my zen, take these struggles as lessons, and maintain a proper balance between my inner and outer worlds.

2nd House – finances & communication – XV the Devil

Shadows, instinctiveness, lack of moderation, greed, thirst for temptation, unconscious forces. Prohibited activities, exploitation, intrigues & shady dealings. Encourages bringing light into darkness. Warns against the destructiveness of natural drives which have been suppressed.

This card in this place speaks less about circumstances and more about decisions. I’m going to be strongly tempted to either make very foolish decisions with my money … or possibly to do very bad things to get my hands on more. Given my ceremonial experiments and some of the other things that have been going on in my life, I think that the latter is much more likely that it would have been a year ago.

Hexes? Love philters? Evicting relatively harmless ghosts? Can’t say I won’t ever be tempted to do these things. Money is only a tool, but it’s a damn handy one at times.

3rd House – daily experiences & immediate influences – 8 Cups “Indolence” – fix with VII Adjustment

8C—Weakness, broken hopes, disheartenment, resignation, necessity of changing one’s ways, stagnation, depression. Recognizing personal responsibility. Encourages leaving the disastrous morass. Warns against clinging to what has decayed or starting something with no prospects of success.

VII—Objectivity, clarity, balance, justice, karma, sober perception, personal responsibility, self-criticism. Recognizing personal responsibility. Encourages viewing things objectively and soberly as well as recognizing one’s personal responsibility in it. Warns against becoming unable to act after too much careful consideration.

You’ll notice a repeated phrase between these cards: “personal responsibility”. And both cards connect solidly with the undying theme of the House: immediate influence and experiences. These things tell me that the key to surviving the coming year is to keep my perspective and to never blame my situation—or, at least, to be deeply skeptical of seeking solutions—outside of myself.

4th House – home-place & family – 2 Wands “Dominion”

Eagerness to fight, courage, willingness to take risks, willpower, becoming inflamed about something, spontaneous assertion, violent forging ahead, inconsideration. Encourages risking something, asserting something, conquering something. Warns against inconsiderate aggressiveness, destructive actions, and hollow demonstrations of power.

This is my second warning against “demonstrations of power”, and that makes me nervous.

5th House – fun & pleasure – X Fortune

Changes, shift, new beginnings, happiness, fateful events, task in life. Encourages recognizing one’s destiny and shaping as the task in life. Warns against fatalistic resignation.

Not really sure how to process this card in this House, unless one interprets “fun” as “lover(s)”, in which case it’s still a little out-of-place.

6th House – work, illness, & duty – XIV Art

Finding the right proportions. balance of powers, harmony, relaxation, overcoming differences, healing. Resolving conflicts, joyful and productive teamwork, making progress, dissolving contradictions and resistance, finding the balance between work and leisure time. Encourages giving one’s best to overcome contradictions or differences. Warns against underestimating the difficulty of a plan or the depths of a problem. As card of the year: “This is the year of the great work…”

Given that my greatest problem so far this year has been achieving a balance between various passions and obligations, I find it no surprise that it will be a major feature of next year as well. School, sleep, socialization, magic, working for money … I’m struggling to juggle all these things, and it’s already overwhelming. I either need to get a whole lot better at juggling, or start giving things up.

7th House – partnership – 3 Swords “Sorrow” – fix with XI Lust

3S—Bad news, disappointment, weakness, sorrow, helplessness, chaos, disillusionment, renunciation, loss. Pangs of love, fear of loss, injuries, end of relationship, failed hope. Encourages opening up to an unwelcome but totally necessary insight. Warns against wishful thinking that inevitably leads to disappointment.

XI—Courage, vitality, love of life, strength, passion, intrepidity. Powerful relationship, passionate connection, fascination, sexual debauchery, excess. Encourages passionate devotion to a person, a task, an experience. Warns against just following the pleasure principle and trampling on other people’s feelings.

“Sorrow” isn’t quite the worst card one can get in the 7th House, but it’s definitely one whose meaning is relatively easy to interpret. For those who work exclusively with Crowley: the 3S in more traditional (Waite-Smith) decks is an image of a heart pierced by three swords. There’s actually a lot going on with the three of swords, but particularly in terms of romance … well, long story short: heartbreak and drama. Given the realities of my situation – nine or ten years older than most of my peers, the nymph who’s been keeping me company so far graduating in May, and the strangely fragile and puritanical/performative nature of the sexual culture on campus, among so many other things (and as I write this paragraph I realize that I’ve started writing some of my personal journal entries with an eye to posting them on this blog) – this is hardly a surprise.

What is surprising is the solution. Fix the 3 of Swords with XI Lust? Is that best read as “power through”? Share the love? Fuck ’em ALL? I think that only time will tell, but I’m pretty good at Lusting, so I suspect that I’ll pull through better than most.

8th House – hidden, taboo, & crisis – Knight of Disks

Firmness, sobriety, persuasiveness, stable values, reliability, straightforwardness; mature, sensual man; relist pragmatist, guarantee of security. Encourages enjoying what has been achieved and using one’s means and possibilities in a responsible manner. Warns against stubbornness and meaningless hoarding.

Again the theme of “responsibility”. And here in crisis, too. Hrmmmmm.

9th House – higher perception – XVI the Tower

Sudden perception, upheaval, breakthrough, liberation, blow of fate. Recognizing fixed ideas and exploding old concepts that have become too constrictive. Encourages going beyond a framework that is too narrow. Warns against incalculable risks and dangers that radical upheaval brings with it. As card for the year, this may be the year of liberation. Take the risks.

No surprise here. I will be progressing and eventually completing my year of studying ceremonial magic over the course of the coming year, and if that doesn’t culminate in a Tower I haven’t actually done the work.

10th House – recognition & career – Princess of Swords

Young, intellectual woman; female rebel who is nimble minded and knowledgeable; esprit, clarity, mental renewal, provocation, restlessness, quarrelsome nature. Conflicts at work, battle for position, clarifying conflict, rebellion. Encourages cooly and decisively clarifying a situation. Wars against “head wind” attacks and sharp-tongued criticism.

Does this card speak of me or of someone I’m going to have to deal with? Both, probably. As a Prince of Cups Scorpio, I have the capacity to manifest a lot of the qualities of swords court – particularly some of their more negative aspects.

11th House – friendships – Queen of Disks

Fertility, sense of security, sensuality, serenity, endurance; a mature, experienced woman; being calm, stable, patient, trustworthy. Trusting each other, perseverance, mature relationship, loyalty, starting a family, sense of security. Encourages dedicating oneself to concrete tasks with endurance and patience. Warns against meaningless drudgery and unimaginative striving for possessions.

Given the placement, I am inclined to take this Queen as a person I need to look out for. Someone I need to impress.

12th House – secrets & fears – Ace of Wands

Hopeful new beginning, initiative, willpower, decisiveness, electrifying idea, surge of creativity, opportunity for self-development, becoming inflamed about something. Encourages initiative and decisive progress. Warns against hotheadedness, impatience, and arrogance.

Of course I want these things. Who doesn’t?

Underlying Theme = 10 Swords “Ruin”

The “underlying theme” of my readings – the bottom card of the deck – is often the least reliable part of the readings. But I continue to make use of it because when it does mean something, it is often very helpful.

Here it appears to be reiterating a theme found in several of the other cards: be careful what you think you know. My preconceived notions are going to be a source of trouble in the coming year, and if I can’t balance or explode them, they could lead to ruin.

+2 = Princess of Wands X Knight of Swords

PrsW–

KnSw–

More people. I don’t know what to do with this yet.

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