Though I only posted about it yesterday, I actually finished out my Abramelin Oil last Wednesday. After doing so, I finally sat back down to re-evaluate the High Witchcraft system I had been working with when I started it. The experience was kind of interesting: Penczak’s system looks even more like a watered-down version of the Golden Dawn than it did when I first realized how little of the Western Ceremonial Tradition the GD actually represented; past Yesod (where Penczak introduces the Circulation of the Body of Light and Abramelin Oil), the exercises become increasingly useless outside the GD framework; and, of course, Penczak mentions the existence of the Goetia but cautions against actually using it, and never delves into spirit evocation—a practice which, from where I sit at least, seems fundamental to the Western Ceremonial Tradition as a whole. Finally, the book culminates with the Bornless Ritual: the Crowley/GD version of the Stele of Jeu rite I have already begun performing with some success.
The more experienced magicians and ceremonialists who read this blog are laughing right now: “Of course I’m going to be disappointed by Christopher Penczak’s overview of High Magick: he makes his living writing 100-level fluffy-bunny bullshit by the ton.” To which I can only reply, yes, but the tech in the last three books was solid once you ran it through the fluffy bullshit filter. And I had to start somewhere, or I wouldn’t have even known what questions to ask to get me as far as I have.
And, despite all my bitching, there are still aspects to the book which will remain useful to me: the altar constructions and the visionary journeys to the sephiroth/planitary realms.
As you all can tell from the tag—or, as you would be able to tell, if I had finished to re-tagging all my posts when I moved from blogger—I like building and rebuilding my altar. I find myself wishing that I’d thought to photojournal my altar pace from my earliest practice. I’ve had some good ones over the years. And maintaining a separate, second altar for individual magical operations and experiments has made it much easier to keep my primary, increasingly devotional, altar from getting too cluttered.
The visionary journeys fit my style. I am, after all, a shamanic witch—these ceremonial studies are doing wonders for my toolkit, and have introduced me to all sorts of fascinating areas of study and badass awesome people, but they’ll never be my primary focus. And I’ll be much more comfortable conjuring spirits after I’ve gone and visited their places of power. And following the Sephiroth up the Qabalistic/GD Tree of Life gives me an order of operations.
I have already completed (in terms of this project) my study of Malkuth/Earth. As of last night I have begun my journeywork related to Yesod/the Moon. If that goes as smoothly as it has begun, in the next week or two I’ll move on to Hod/Mercury. And so on.
In the mean time, I will continue to escalate my practical magic practice. Currently on the drawing board are that appeal to justice I mentioned, improving my Mercurial talisman that’s been helping me with my Greek, a Lunar talisman to help me maintain a regular sleep schedule and remember my dreams, and a Saturn talisman to help me manage my time better.