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.The 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.
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
 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.