Monthly Archives: January 2012

And in other news…

I feel like I’m always a few steps behind.  Especially lately.  I didn’t get my Dark Moon work written up until nearly a week after, and most of that only got done because I called in sick Friday.  Then I got a day behind because I always have trouble with my internet at home, and … blah blah blah.  Whine whine whine.

The real problem is that I’m sick.  And you, my dear readers, already know what the worst part about been a sick witch is.  You know that if you could fucking do something about it, if only you had the strength to … well, stand up, cast a Circle, and do something about it.  Cause it turns out that, no, our bodies aren’t just cars we drive around.  They are our prime materia.  Without them, we are nothing.  So, lacking the mojo to fix myself over the weekend, I stayed in bed a lot.  I drank a lot of fluids.  Sannafrid was kind enough to bring me soup and remind me that, yes, I have people out here in Indiana who give a fuck about me—which helped even more than the soup.  I think I’m finally to a point where I can conjure enough power to try to put myself back on track.  Of course, I’ve already missed the Day and Hour of the Sun, the hypothetically best time to do that.  Fortunately I’m more witch than magician, and I can work around that.

But, enough about that.

Before I got sick, I was finally making some progress on that whole astral projection thing.  During a fit of insomnia that preceded my dive from “struggling against being sick” into “not going to class because I was up all night blowing my nose”, I discovered that Donald Michael Kraig covers the subject in the concluding chapter of his Modern Magick.  For whatever reason, the method he describes worked better for me than any other I’ve tried, and I was able to achieve what Kraig describes as bilocation: ambling around my apartment, touching things to establish my sense of reality.  Which was fucking awesome.  If I could actually manage to pull it off every night (Have you notice I struggle with maintaining a daily anything?  Yeah.  Makes keeping up with my homework a problem, sometimes.) I would probably already be fully OBE. 

I even had an interesting experience just while circumnavigating the apartment.  When I pushed aside the blinds to place my astral hand against the window, I saw a giant something outside my window—big enough that all I really saw was an eye.  This startled me, of course, and I pulled back, letting the “blinds” drop, and then had a good laugh at myself.  Until something large slammed into the house Wards.  Not being entirely sure what was going on, I decided to perform my Pentagram Rite astrally, then went back to my body.  After which I went to sleep and nothing exciting happened.

I (sort of) managed it again last night while struggling with another bout of insomnia, only this time I kept crashing into things and breaking them.  Retreating back to my body, I descended to my Inner Temple, where I did a little bit of maintenance and chatted with my spirit guide/friend Tsu.  My mind must have still been unrully, though, because we got sucked through an open door into the Elemental Realm of Fire (a la Peckzac’s Outer Temple meditations.  Interestingly, I felt a lot better after we hung out in the fire for a while.

So, while I have been sick and busy and not quite up to healing myself, I haven’t been wholly inactive.  Which is good.  I need to stay active to go forward.

Finally, while sick, I spent some time working on one of my other New Year, New You goals: migrating this blog to WordPress.  As I have mentioned once or twice, I originally wanted to blog there anyway, but the site was down the day I tried.  WP is technically superior, easier to operate, and easier to customize.  And then there’s that whole thing with Google’s sudden changes to their privacy policies.  Heheh.  Yeah.  So, within the next few weeks, I’ll be moving.  I’ll keep this account “alive”, of course, to better show my love to all those people who live on blogger, but it won’t be active.

Which is sad, in a way: I broke 700 pageviews for the first time last month, and I have a very good time of making it to 800 this month.  I even have a few amazing people who comment regularly.  Comments or no, though, I love you all and I hope you’ll come with me.

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NYNY: Glamour and Self-Love

I haven’t made any serious attempt at glamourie in years.  I made certain uses of it in my younger days, of course: I had a damn fine Don’t Look At Me … but I never really managed the opposite effect.  It’s pretty difficult to tune your aura to “Hey Look At Me” when your self esteem is as bad as mine was back in the day.

These days I don’t generally bother—not in a strictly magical sense, anyway.  Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the magic I do isn’t, in the strictest sense, clamor.  The volume and sort of magic I’ve been doing for the past three years seems to have put a good shine on my charismatic aura.  The work I’ve been doing for the last six months has escalated that to a neon glow.

Of course, it helps that I’m pretty good looking.  The caricature I use as my profile pic is just that: I am neither as buff nor as overweight as I depicted myself; my beard (sadly) not so glorious, but my hair can be on a good day.  I love my tattoos and my piercings: two rings in each ear, one in each nipple; tattoos on my shoulders, under my collar bones, and between my shoulder blades, and another planned for the base of my spine when next I see my tattoo guy in KC, all of which I drew myself.  And, though I do say so myself, whether it’s drawing, typing, jewelry, making masks and talismans, performing magic, or wild monkey sex: I am damn good with my hands.  (Why, yes, I went there.  Did you think for a moment that I wouldn’t?)

I take care of myself: I pay outrageous amounts of money for high-quality, no-scary-shit shampoo and conditioner.  I use non-toxic hippie-made (literally: I’ve met the hippies) toothpaste, deodorant, and laundry detergent.  I eat as well as I can, given that I’m on the college meal plan—which, sadly, means that I’m eating way too many conventional and processed foods—and supplement it with multivitamins.  Until the last week or so, when the weather turned to shit, I walked everywhere, which amounted to anywhere from 3/4 mile to 4 miles a day—to and from the apartment, around campus, up and down the stairs (not to brag or anything, but I have fucking fantastic legs).  I’m taking a twice-weakly yoga class, which is doing wonders for me both physically and spiritually—my arms haven’t looked this good since I left Larryville and stopped doing jewelry 40 hours a week, and I walked out of class feeling more than a little godlike Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

Even in a burlap sack, I stand out in a crowd.  And the body I’ve been blessed with is well-emphasized by the way I dress.  My style has always been unique, and as a full time student, clothing and costume are … interesting.  For the first time in my life, I’ve got pretty much free reign in the way I dress: full time, all day, every day.  I can paint my nails in outrageous colors.  I can wear my kilt or my skirts or my robes or my Rennie gear whenever I feel like it.  I wore skirts more often than pants until the weather turned to shit … for some reason it bothers me more to get my skirts dirty.  The attention it gets me is overwhelmingly positive, and the people who are bothered by it are people I don’t need around.

This is the glamour I work in: magic to refine myself until I shine; costume which reveals my nature and draws those like me; radical authenticity to distinguish myself further.  (Though, I will say that failure to grok on the part of some of my audience is tempting my Scorpio nature to go into full-time information management mode.)  Pretty much the only thing I can’t get away with is the sarongs, which just have too great a likelihood of flashing “innocent bystanders”.  But … I have not always been so fortunate.

From here, I find I must segue away from glamour and the NYNY project into the Land of Rant.  I enjoy costume. I enjoy costume for its own sake, and I understand it’s role as a tool of communication. But there are inevitable issues of privilege tied up in discussions of costume, which I feel need to be addressed.  And, in the grand tradition of the feminisms with which I identify, because the personal is political, I will do so in as personal a manner as possible.

Working in jewelry and retail, I have always been forced to keep my appearance within certain limits: my tattoos are all under the “t-shirt line”; my visible piercings are relatively discreet, and my jewelry “tasteful” (I made all my earrings myself, so of course I think they’re damn classy, but they’re also not going to startle anyone who doesn’t have a problem with any dude’s ear’s being pierced); of necessity, I have an entire wardrobe of costumes specifically aimed at looking the part of the competent craftsman.  I (not-quite-half) jokingly refer to these as my “normal people costume”.  Still, jewelry was a more forgiving industry than many.

Living with my grandfather after my failed life in St. Louis, I was forced to live in exclusively butch costume full-time. For almost a year and a half. For the first time in my adult life, I was back in both closets. I felt like I was living a lie. In a sense, it was good for me: it taught me that I can never live that way again. It led to bitterness, rage, and no small amount of drunk driving home from the nearest gay bar.

Leaving jewelry, I am moving into academia—a field which will I will be allowed many indulgences, but with its own strange pruderies. I can’t say for certain how well my gender variance will be understood: I don’t know for certain what institution I will work for in the end, and no one can say with any certainty what the Academy will look like by the time I’ve gotten my doctorate (there’s some fucking changes afoot).

So while Jason is right to point out that we are frequently at the mercy of others’ perceptions, the degree to which he concedes the field is deeply problematic. Not all of us can afford to tailor our clothes, for example, nor are we all at equal ease within the roles to which we have been assigned. It is not just inappropriate, but outright harmful to assume that it is a moral failing—an overabundance of ego or self-image, as Jason frames it—to resist the assimilation represented by mainstream costume.  Some of us do not fit within it very well, and other simply do not fit at all.

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Dark Moon 3/3: Tarot and Splat

I did three tarot readings over the course of the Dark Moon: one preceding each of my rituals, and one to give me an idea of what I need to look forward to over the next month.

The first reading, concerning my performance of Lon Milo DuQuette’s banishing/invocation, was reasonably clear and positive.

1/2 – Present position and current influence – 3 Disks “Works” / 2 Wands “Dominion” – Taking concrete steps, translating ideas into reality.  Crossed by willpower and a willingness to take risks.

3 – That which crowns it – Ace of Wands – New beginnings, willpower, decisiveness, opportunity for self-development.

4 – It rests upon this – 10 Disks “Wealth” – Becoming aware of one’s circumstances.  Awareness of one’s inner and outer wealth.

5 – That which is going out – 10 Swords “Ruin” –  Chaos, confusion, pain.  Mental implosions and collapse.  Who doesn’t love to see this on the outs?

6 – That which is coming in – 9 Cups “Happiness” – Meaningful experience, quiet happiness, joy that lets the heart overflow.

7 – The Querrant – VIII Adjustment – Objectivity, balance, karma, sober perception.

8 – Inner Influences – II the Priestess – Inner guidance, deep spiritual experiences.

9 – Outer Influences – VI the Lovers – The Chemical Wedding, duality and union of opposites, division and decisions.

10 – Conclusion – 6 Swords “Science” + XV the Devil – Perception, progress, openness, insight, thirst for power and encountering the Shadow.

The second reading I did concerned my performance of the Rite of Jeu.  The reading was less clear, but I chose to interpret it as a green flag nevertheless.  Looking back at the reading more closely, after the experience itself, I definitely feel like I made the right call.

1 / 2 – Current position and influences – XIX the Sun / XIV  Art – Bliss, joy, new birth, success, and self-development.  Crossed by the balance of powers, finding the right proportion, harmony, and healing.

3 – That which Crowns it – I the Magus – Activity, resolution, willpower, vital force, having the highest perceptions.

4 – It rests upon this – Knight of Swords – Discernment, flexibility, intelligence, striving toward new goals.

5 – That which is going out – 10 Swords “Ruin” – An intriguing repetition, and one which I could only view as auspicious.

6 – That which is coming in – 6 Disks “Success” – increase, favorable interplay of forces,

7 – The Querrant – III the Empress – Growth, creative potential, intuitive power, renewal, insight into the internal cycle.

8 – Inner Influences – XXI the Universe – Joy of living, being in the right place at the right time, resting in one’s center, being one in the beginning and the end.

9 – Outer Influences – 2 Disks “Change” – Change, mutual fructification, insight into the vital rhythm of growth and regression.  In a sea of big-mover cards, this one seemed a little strange.

10 – 9 Swords “Cruelty” + XX the Aeon – Worries, panic, nightmares, primitive fantasies of violence.  Transformation, new beginnings, spiritual development, being captured by the spirit of the new age.

The final reading I did over the dark moon was my usual monthly—switched to the Dark Moon for the various reasons discussed previously.  I might have done the reading at the depth of the moon, but I though I’d give the Stele of Jeu rite at least 24 hours to ripple out before looking to the future.

I had actually considered performing the rite again on Monday, but ultimately concluded that I was too exhausted to pull it off.  In fact, I didn’t actually give the monthly reading more than a cursory glance the night I laid them out.  Instead, I proceeded to promptly fall over.

IMG_5027

1st House – Self, Viewpoint, the Mask – Queen of Swords – Wealth of ideas, presence of mind, independence, and quick-wittedness.

2nd House – Finances, Communication – IV the Emperor – Willingness to take responsibility, initiative, pragmatism.  Clear structures, consolidation, realizing plans, perfectionism.

3rd House – Daily Experiences & Immediate Influences – XIV Art – Finding the right proportions, balance of powers, harmony, overcoming differences.  Resolving conflicts, joyful and productive work,

4th House – Home-place, Family, Land & Roots – Knight of Disks – Firmness, sobriety, perseverance.  Responsible position.  Enjoying what has been achieved.

5th House – Pleasure, Hobbies, & Lovers– 4 Swords “Truce” – Sham peace, temporary retreat, calm before the storm, isolation, building up one’s strength.

6th House – Work, Illness, Duty, & Routine – Prince of Swords – Good ol’ P of S is fighting himself.  He’s working too hard.  Unlike the other knights and the other princes, his chariot is drawn by no noble steed: rather, it is drawn by miniature versions of himself.  He is at odds with himself, unable to choose a direction, unable to focus.  He is the proverbial chicken running around with his head cut off.  He needs to focus.

As I write this, I am skipping class in favor of nursing a cold.  I have been putting off homework in favor of other homework.  I’m fighting the urge to play social dominance games with one of my professors, and not quite sure that I’m keeping up on the long-term projects I should be working on.

Not good.  Need to turn this shit around.

7th House – Partnership – Queen of Wands – Healthy sense of self-assurance, initiative, impulsiveness, independence.  Equality, mature relationship, the Tantra of love, heartfelt warmth.

8th House – Taboo, Crisis, Sex, Death & Taxes – 2 Swords “Peace” – State of balance, relaxation, serenity, compromise.  I’m really not sure how to read this except as “no worries”.

9th House – Higher Perception, Journeys, & Movement – Knight of Swords – Versatility, discernment, flexibility, intelligence.  Steering toward new goals while inspired by ideas.

10th House – Recognition, Career, Ambition, & Status – 8 Wands “Swiftness” – “Ahah” experience, sudden resolution to problems.  Innovation, electrifying ideas, favorable developments, foreign business deals, advanced education, taking quick action.

11th House – Friendships, Groups, & Social Activities – 5 Disks “Worry” – Helplessness, fear of loss, frustration at nothing working out.  Having a negative influence on each-other.

12th House – Secrets, Hopes, & Fears – XIII Death – Parting, natural end.  Confronting transience.  Beginning of a fundamental change.

+2 – XXI the Universe / 0 the Fool – Completion, joy of living, being in the right place at the right time, resting in one’s center.  Crossed by original potential, creative chaos, new beginnings, starting off into the unknown.

So … that’s five Major Arcana, five court cards, and four minor arcana.  Four swords, three disks, two wands, no cups.  (Seriously?  No cups for my doulble-Scorpio ass?)

The World and the Fool at the heart of things tell me that although it may not look like there’s much going on at first, there’s some big shit afoot.  This impression is reinforced by the Death card (even if it is in the 12th House).

I feel confident that XIII, XXI, and 0 must be related to my resumed and escalated magical practice.  In particular, these are all things that are supposed to happen when you invoke the agathos daimon.  And I’m going to keep doing it: I want to die and be reborn: I want another initiatory experience.

The overwhelming presence of the court cards tells me that people are going to be very significant this month. Not terribly surprising, given the nature of academia.

The only “bad” card I see is 5D in the 11th House, though the Prince of Swords isn’t one of my favorites.  I’m a little concerned about that 5D, actually.  I’m always nervous about things going awry in my very small circle of friends: I don’t’ have any to loose.

I’m also concerned about 8 Wands in the 10th House.  That could be really good.  Or it could be “shit goes crazy”.  Not that these things are in any way mutually exclusive.  One wonders how it relates to IV in the 2nd House.  I hope this means that I’ll manage to get my hustle started up.

2 Swords in the 8th House confuses me, of course.  I don’t really have taboos.  But how can “peace” be a crisis?  Or does my more optimistic interpretation above actually float: that there4 is no crisis this month?

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Dark Moon 2/2: the Stele of Jeu

Sunday night I tried something that would have terrified younger versions of myself.  The rite in question, of course, is the Stele of Jeu, from which Aleister Crowley derived the Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia and, later, Liber Semekh.

I had been thinking about doing the ritual for a while.  It had been suggested to me that the astrology for starting this sort of project was ideal (although, re-reading that post this morning, it seems much more immediate and less “the astrological current of the coming weeks”.  Oh, well.  It got me going.), it was just a question of which of the various versions of such a rite.  Finally, the Stele came across my field of vision one too many times to ignore.  A colleague whom I admire was willing to hook me up with a copy of Hans Dieter Betz’s beautiful tome, as well as to give me a bit of preliminary advice.

The evening was set aside for nothing but this: I had done my house-cleansing the night before; I would do my monthly tarot the following night.  I broke out all the stops… including that oft-advocated practice which I have historically disdained: the preliminary divination.IMG_5026The 9S there at the end made me nervous, but the Aeon more than made up for it.  It was go time.

Proceeding with the ritual, I opened with my Pentagram Rite.  I cast a full, formal circle, and made offerings to all my gods and allies.  I drew a circle in salt, and cast another circle within it.  I read through the ritual a final time once I had sealed myself within the salt circle, and felt a presence watching and waiting.  I almost got the impression it was waiting to see if I would fuck up.

Lacking the formula and the six names to which the Stele referred (PGM V.156-60), I omitted them, but I still began with the preliminary invocation which appears at the end of the letter (165-70).  Beginning the ritual, the sensation of something watching over my shoulder grew stronger.  Not trusting myself to memorize so many voces magicae and barbarous words, I read the rite directly from my printout[1].

I had been warned to stop if any poltergeist phenomena occurred, and there were a few moments when the Indiana wind gave me a scare, but the ritual went off without a hitch.  The watching presence disappeared somewhere through the middle of the ritual, and nothing seemed to happen at first.

Then the first wave of power hit me.

The only thing I can compare the experience to is the sort of top-notch, sticky-green, creeper weed that I haven’t had since I left Larryville.  It was slow at first: a sort of spiritual bliss, a sense of fullness and euphoria.  I just basked in it for a while before I decided to clean up after the ritual.  Which was when it started to become apparent just how potent the ritual had been.

I ended up closing/cleaning up in three separate stages, because I kept forgetting what all needed to be done.  There was a particularly interesting surge of power when I broke the salt circle.  I could barely operate my phone to text my friends and let them know that, no, I hadn’t botched the ritual and that a rescue party would not be needed.  (What, you don’t take such precautions when trying something that new?)

The waves of euphoria kept getting stronger, and after a while I could barely walk.  I tried to journal about it, but it was all so surreal that (as you can see) words couldn’t quite convey it.  I remember thinking “nothing has moved my insides around this much since my initiation”.

When I laid down, though, the mood shifted.  I was confronted with violent images I can only call visions.  A close friend being run over by bus then getting up and boarding the bus.  A man in a business suit whose head exploded into a snarling wolf’s maw.  There were others—countless others—but only those first two were with me when I woke, after a night of strange and similarly violent dreams.  Despite that, I was still high on the ritual.

In fact, I was high until noon the next day.  I still feel like my aura’s been “inflated”, and I don’t think that the godhood I felt coming out of yoga yesterday morning was, well, just the yoga.  People who never had a spare glance for me last semester suddenly remember my name.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Up next: Dark Moon 3/3: Tarot and Splat


[1] I’m a very post-modern magician in my own way.  Besides, better to loose a little power by reading the text from a page than to mangle the incantation, or to accidentally summon or anger someone by practicing it aloud outside the Circle.

Betz, Hans Dieter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

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Dark Moon Work 1/3: Rebuilding My Altar (Also NY/NY: Sacred Space)

I haven’t lived in Indiana for very long.  I don’t really have any sacred spaces out here, and while I’m animist/pantheist enough that (in theory) all space is sacred space, the weather lately has sucked so bad that—between the rain, the sleet, and the more rain—going outside just hasn’t been conducive to mediating I any might have wanted to do.  So, for practical purposes, the sacred pace I have available to me is my home: the temple I’ve been building and refining since I arrived in August.

The Sunrise Temple has been in good condition ever since I got back from KC: I’ve been cleaning house and cleansing at least once a week.  But the altar had gotten cluttered with all the work I was doing in preparation of first driving back to Kansas City, then the work I was doing when I first came back to produce my Learn Greek talismans (the first one when I posted about the, then the second and third [one for my altar, one for my bag] a week later when my backpack ate the first).

Fortunately, I had a Dark Moon to work with this weekend.  And I had a lot of work I wanted to do.  Saturday night had four things on the slate: trying out Lon Milo DuQuette’s banishing/invocation; cleansing the house; blessing my Dark Moon water; and rebuilding my altar.

Being uncertain how the DuQuette I actually started with the house-cleansing: cleaning up my mess, sweeping the floors (I really want a fancy besom like they sell at the Renaisance Faire), and smudging everything.  I really need to do continue doing this no less than once a week.  I get scattered when I don’t.

Following that, I did a little preparatory divination.  I’ve never done any of DuQuette’s work before, and the ritual blew Aradia’s mind,  so it seemed prudent.IMG_5024All the “present” information looked really good, I always love to see a 10S on the way out, and 6S and The Devil seemed like a workable outcome.  So I went for it: putting on a random mix of ancient Greek music I stole from the internet and Holst’s Planet Suite, I was ready to get started.

For those who haven’t read DuQuette’s Low Magick, it’s an Inner Working (visualization exercise) and Aradia sums it up pretty well.  But neither Ganesha nor Kwan Yin are quite my style.  After a week or so of contemplation since finishing the book, I came to the conclusion that Ἔρος was the god for me.  And boyhowdy, was s/he.

I disn’t get the sort of transcendental brain-borking Aradia did, but damn did I get high.  Just as I was finishing, the music switched from soft, soothing, and ancient to Holst’s Jupiter: the Bringer of Jollity, and I was ready to work.

Behold, my beautiful new altar:IMG_5025

Taller, cleaner, with room for more idols,and with places to store my active projects—particularly the collection of seals and tokens representing the friends who’ve graciously allowed me to include them in my ascendancy/prosperity work.  I’m still in the process of fine-tuning the arrangement, of course, but I’m very pleased so far.

I finished everything up by feeding my gods and allies, and preparing my house-wards for the following evenings bigger, better, and potentially explosive experiment.

Next up: Dark Moon 2/3: the Stele of Jeu.

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O, Look! A Controversy Re-Emerges!

Apparently, the occult corners of the internet have recently exploded in controversy.  Mostly in corners I don’t frequent, actually, although a few of my favorite bloggers have added their two cents (Jason and RO both link to the broader controversy, and also provide a little bit of context).  I avoided the “physical” manifestation of spirits brouhaha on account of I haven’t ever done any conjuration and therefore had nothing to contribute (though I hear that didn’t stop everyone).  Besides, it’s an old controversy among those who enjoy talking about the theory of magic as much as they enjoy actually doing it.  To my warped mind that gives me leave to comment on the matter of “it’s all in your head”.

Interestingly, it’s a subject that’s been on my mind. I have, after all, just finished Lon Milo Duquette’s latest book, in which he advocates the vary theory under debate (which apparently I haven’t gotten around to reviewing; I’ll have to fix that as soon as Sannafrid gives it back).  The general direction of my thoughts on this matter can be inferred from an old post of mine.  At the time I was speaking of the particular tendency of some Wiccans and New Agers to gloss over the distinctions between cultures and divinities in favor of their own, alternate, fluffy-bunny reality, but the same arguments apply.

Aalways, though, it’s more nuanced than that.  Fr. SEA discusses DuQuette’s example of the love spell, which doesn’t make someone love you so much as it makes you into the person your beloved will love back.  In the case of the particular example, it makes a great deal of sense.  What’s left out of the resulting discussion is how explicitly solipsistic DuQuette’s worldview is: at the end of Low Magick he explicitly states that he’s not entirely certain there is a world outside himself (quote and citation to come when I get the book back in my hands).  It’s also meant to be humorous, because Lon Milo DuQuette is a funny, funny guy.

Let’s not forget that Chaos Magick maxim (where did it come from, anyway?): “It’s all in your head, except when it isn’t.”  Magic generally takes the path of least resistance in order to get things done.  How often have we been admonished to be careful not to kill Grandma for the inheritance with a poorly-targeted money spell?  As Gordon so eloquently pointed out: “Magic has an extremely frustrating ability to give you your desired results in the least convenient way possible.”  What, by and large, is the least convenient and most energy-efficient way to make change happen?  Cramming your own damn square peg into that proverbial round hole, that’s what.

Now, my own take on this is necessarily skewed.  Although I have practiced magic for fifteen years, I spent the first decade devoted almost exclusively to pulling my head out of my own ass, getting it screwed on in the proper direction (forward-facing, but never, ever “straight”  ;p ), and clearing out the cob-webs.  It’s only in the last four or five years that I’ve escalated my outward-focused magic from the web of influence that puts me in the right place at the right time into actually manifesting changes in the world around me.  And while that’s been working out for me pretty damn well and very concretely so far, my experience definitely bears out Gordon’s addendum to that above maxim.

All that said, Jason’s take on this is very compelling: that some of the larger entities we deal with cut cross-ways through our measly, mortal, three-or-four dimensional understanding of reality, that they are both within us and without us.  That fits in perfectly with my understanding of a spiritual reality which is at the very least equally complex as the material reality, and probably more so by orders of magnitude.  So, too, RO’s argument that the distinctions of “within” and “without” are matters of perspective which the clever magician will use as best suits their means and ends.

Still, I remain skeptical of the idea of a “top-down” construction of reality, whether it figures the magician or some Absolute Divinity at the “top”.  That Neo-Platonic paradigm and all its children are too simplistic for me, intellectually, and fly in the face of the rational conclusions I have drawn based on my own personal experiences.

Finally, however, I wish to make clear: my conclusions and beliefs are inevitably founded on just that: my own research and personal experiences.  All of the stances I have seen so far are well considered and, I assume, similarly founded on years of research and experimentation.  Which, if we assume that everyone is operating and arguing in good faith (and I do), only goes to prove that the universe is bigger and more complex than any of our puny, mortal, meat-brains can comprehend.

Love and light, folks.  The blessings of your favorite gods on each and every one of you.

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Ceremonial Studies: Refining My Intent

When I set myself to the study of the Western Ceremonial tradition it was largely an intellectual exercise.  Yes, I expected to be a more competent and powerful witch/magician by the end of it, but I’d already learned the rudiments of sigils from Chaos magic (which I had largely understood as a subset of the ceremonial tradition, though I now know better) and I didn’t imagine that there would be much that would actually stick with me after the experiments were done.  After five months of study, I have come to understand just how little of what I thought I knew about the ceremonial tradition has any basis in reality.  Conversely, I have found that my chief concern was fairly well founded: I am fundamentally incompatible with some of the powers it deals with, though not in the ways I had imagined.  I have also come to recognize what the ceremonial tradition has to offer me personally: access to planetary Powers.

Various manuals of witchcraft that I have read in the course of my life have come with huge tables of plants, rocks, scents, colors, and their planetary correspondences.  But the rationale of those correspondences has never really been explained, nor why the attributions and uses of those correspondences varies so radically from the mythologies and portfolios of the divinities for which the planets have been named.  My explorations of ceremonial magic have helped me to understand (for example) why it is that Mars, the planet, has so little to do with Mars, the Roman god of war and the citizen-soldier.

More interestingly, particularly from my perspective as a visionary/shamanic witch looking to delve into that most forbidden of arts known as the evocation of spirits, I have learned of the multitudinous hosts and legions of spirits who make up those planetary Powers.  Even if, having acquired some skill at conjuration, I decide that it’s not for me, the names and sigils—phone numbers, as Frater Acher describes them (and I need that book)—will still be useful in seeking out contacts by other means.

Despite my best intentions, I am still having difficulty translating my theoretical studies into actual praxis.  This is partly a matter of trying to convert certain patterns into ones I understand, partly a matter of struggling to overcome inertia after having fallen off the horse (so to speak) of daily practice.

I want to begin seeking that thing known as “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” (or, you know, something along those lines, since I don’t quite buy the “guardian angel” part), but I have not yet settled on a particular ritual to that end.  The Stele of Jeu?  The Bornless Rite?  Liber Samekh?  (Sure, they’re all variations on the same tune, but I still need to choose one.)  Or some other ritual I haven’t found yet, aimed at the same goal?  Right now I’m leaning heavily toward the Stele of Jeu.  Very heavily.

When I resume pursing the planetary forces themselves, do I continue with the quasi-Golden Dawn route of Penczak’s High Temple?  Do I buy RO’s Gate Rites (I’ve been tempted for a while)?  Do I go whole-hog and dig into Abremelin?  Frustratingly, a lot of these questions would be a lot easier if I were Christian, or at very least if I weren’t energetically incompatible with the Archangels.  I really need to get my hands on a copy of the PGM—both translated and not.

I’ll say this much, though: by the time I’m done, there will be a neo-Pagan grimoire for sale somewhere.  I can’t be the only one struggling with some of these issues.  And maybe, as I continue, I’ll find that someone else has already done this.  Maybe I can use their work, maybe I can build on it, and maybe I’ll blow them out of the water.  There’s only one way to find out.

A research paper is no stronger than its thesis.  Until now, I had been doing no more and no less than preliminary exploration.  Now I have more specific aims—my theses, to continue the metaphor:  to get in touch with the Planetary forces, Powers, “elementals” (for lack of a better word) and spirits; to craft rites which fit within a neo-Pagan conceptual framework; and to make those experiments available to the public.

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Internet Blackout Protest

My tech skills are insufficient to “blackout” my page today.  Let this suffice instead:

To all who would bind my speech, to those who would silence those they disagree with: you are worthless.

To all who would keep people ignorant, to all those who put profit before people: you are monsters.

For those who fail to see the connections between those who would silence women, those who would bar full citizenship to queers, and those who seek to control the flow of information on the internet: you are ignorant.

May you worthless knaves find wisdom and the strength to stand for what you believe in even in the presence of those who dissent.

May you monsters be undone by your own bloodthirsty pursuit of power.

May you ignorant fools find sight and discernment, and make your allegiances more carefully.

So mote it be.

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On Witchcraft and the Conjuration of Spirits

When I was but a wee faun, new to the madness-inducing arts and sciences of magic and sorcery, I suffered from a number of very strange ideas, most of which I cannot really tell you where they came from.  One of those ideas which seems particularly strange in retrospect was a strong taboo against “summoning” spirits in any way shape or form.  In all probability, this idea was probably rooted in the fears of the overculture: in the image of doomed, demon-haunted madman who could not banish what he summoned; in stories of spirits enslaved, and the vengeance the wreak upon escape; in horrific stories of possession.

I think, perhaps, that I was also a victim of the neo-Pagan “it’s okay, really, we’re not Satanists” propaganda machine.  You see, I discovered magic in 1993, and was an openly practicing Pagan in 1996.  Those of you who were of an age and inclination to follow the news may remember that period as the years when the Satanic Panic was beginning to decline.  Police and other authorities seemed unable to tell the difference between Wiccans, Vampire LARPers, and actual serial killers.  I seem to remember the websites I found and the books I read all admonishing the neophyte to stay away from anything as dangerous and immoral as conjuration and evocation.  I wish I could cite a source for this, but few of the books I was reading in that era remain in my possession and none of them have come to Indiana with me. 

But however I came to the idea, in my own mind it was an inviolable taboo.  “Summoning” was so wicked that, at a time in my life when I absolutely refused to speak any lie whatsoever, I put off a close friend who wanted to conjure an elemental: promising to aid him as soon as I did “more research”.  All the while, I was hoping that he would figure out on his own how bad an idea it was, knowing that he wouldn’t listen to my warnings and that if I didn’t “help” him, he would find someone else who would.  Part of what reassures me that this idea was not wholly my own is the fact that, sooner rather than later, he came to the desired conclusion: that it was too dangerous an operation to perform.  I would add “at our level of experience”, except that I remember how arrogant we were in our ignorance at seventeen years old.

Although I no longer believe that conjuring spirits is inherently immoral or mortally dangerous.  Certainly conjuration and evocation pose no greater risk to one’s sanity than any other transcendent experience, and are no more dangerous (possibly less so) than spirit-journeys of an astral or shamanic nature.  And I am increasingly skeptical of the idea that a mere magician could force an Archangel or a real demon to do anything it didn’t feel like doing—though the moral concerns of pressing lesser spirits probably still apply.  (And let’s just not get started on the moral ambiguity of creating “elementals” and “servitors”.  That’s too sticky a wicket for my amateur philosophy.  No offense intended to anyone.)

Still, that taboo has lived in my brain for too long: unexamined, not even re-shelved for deconstruction.  It’s left a mark that may well affect my relationship to the spirit-world for the rest of my life.

Has anyone else been exposed to this meme?  The taboo against “summoning”?  If so, have you overcome it?  How?  (Besides simply doing the work.)

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My Accidental Motto

[Warning: This gets awfully personal.]

When I chose the name Satyr Magos, it was as a literary convention.  The name was a sort of joke, a ribald recognition of the sensuality which separates me from so many people who call themselves “magicians”.  It was a subtle warning that there was going to be some serious talk about sex and drugs on this blog, in addition to and as a part of the magic (and while there hasn’t been as much of that as I originally intended, there has been enough and there will be more).  It was an excuse to draw a mythic caricature of myself.

I knew that it was bad Greek, even though I hadn’t studied any Greek yet.  It didn’t matter. I already had two (secret) magical names—one I took at the age of 16 (and later made several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of), and one that I took upon my initiation—and while I intended to take a magical (and public) motto in the Lodge style upon my next initiation, I planned on dabbling a lot with languages and ideas and ceremonial magic before doing so.  Rendered into actual Attic Greek, Satyr Magos becomes σάτυρος ὀ μάγος (saturos ho magos), which can be translated as “the satyr is a magician” or “the magician is a satyr” with approximately equal accuracy. 

The definition of μάγος was just as sketchy in ancient Greek as “magician” or “sorcerer” (both of which are valid translations are in modern English) and, to the best of my ability to determine (albeit through the limited sources so far available to me), covers approximately the same range of activities and specialties.  The most noteworthy difference is that, at least according to Pope’s essay in Witchcraft and Magic of Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome, the word μάγος bore strong connotations of services for sale.  And does anybody else remember what it means to be a satyr?

Maybe I just didn’t think it through. I have been blogging under the name Satyr Magos for less than six months, but it’s already seeping into my meatspace identity—both magically and in my “mortal” life.  Although I’m not going back to partying like I did a decade ago, I’m feeling a powerful urge to escalate some from where I’m at now, and I’m absolutely running out of patience with people who disapprove of the way I do things now.  While I have practiced the socially expected form of serial monogamy for my entire previous adult life, I find I simply have no patience for the dynamics and assumptions it entails.  My sense of humor is getting more ribald, and a little bit more cruel.  My libido—for both men and women—is through the roof … and my loves and lusts are well reciprocated.  When I tried invoking the sexless servants of the God of Abraham, I didn’t run into any of the trouble I expected, but I was completely short-circuited physically (TW: semi-graphic contents which may be particularly upsetting to people who know me IRL).  Spirits have started making some pretty wild demands of me that I’m still not sure how to process, much less how to talk about without sounding even crazier than I already do.  And I have been feeling an urge to go into business, magically speaking, which I had never felt before taking the “name”.

By and large, I’m comfortable with these changes.  Many of them are also in line with the things I have been  working on deliberately, and/or are also in line with the Name I took at my last initiation.  Some of them may just be the product of advancing age and sharpening radicalism.  Some of them are freaking me the fuck out, but that’s part of transformative magic.  And that, more than anything else, is what I’m in this game for.

So it seems I have undergone a dedication without realizing it, and took a motto almost by accident.  Well, so be it.  Σάτυρος ὀ Μάγος it is, at least until I’ve worked my way through this stage of life.  But, please: no one address me as Frater S.M.?  I’d take it as a kindness.

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