Monthly Archives: August 2012

So … What Is My Personal Practice, Anyway?

Having committed publically to not letting my personal practice slip any further while I work on Project Null, I find myself in a position of needing to define it.  Which is probably good for me, really.  The goals for this sort of work are not going to be as specific as those for Project Null, but it will behoove me to pursue them with at least equal vigor.

Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Develop My Relationship With My Household Spirits.  Three spirits now “live” on my altar: Sue, ZG, and SKM.  One is a longtime friend, and accustomed to my occasional lapses … besides which, she’s got her own shit going on (not that she tells me anything about it).  My relationships with ZG and SKM, my Natal Genius and Demon respectively, are new.  More importantly, as natal spirits, I’m pretty much their primary focus (assuming I have any idea how these things work, anyway), and they are allies I can’t afford to neglect.  The one because I need that inspiration and insight; the other because “idle hands …”, “with friend like that …”, and all that rot.

Resume and Refine My Devotional Practice.  Specifically, I need to step up my game in regards to Dionysus and Rhea.  This will involve both research and visionary work.  I need to come up with appropriate offerings/sacrifices, and a schedule for making them. 

Speaking of Visonary Work.  I keep letting that slide; I shouldn’t.  I wish to continue exploring the planetary and elemental realms, and, more importantly, the hidden corners of my own Inner Temple.

Art.  Above and beyond the fact that I want to do more art for its own sake, it is increasingly a part of my spiritual practices.  I want to do more automatic drawing in conjunction with conjurations.  I want to do more art based on my visionary experiences.  I want to do a whole bunch of arts-and-(witch)craft projects that have been on the back burner for a while, ranging from getting back into mask-making to a protective spell to help a friend with an alcoholic room-mate manage the charge on her space.  There will be a lot of overlap between this and my experiments with sigils and hypersigils.

Homebrew.  My failure to keep up on this has more to do with cashflow stoppage than anything else, but I need to get back on the mead brewing.  Partly because it’s part of my devotional practice in respect to Dionysus, but mostly just because it’s awesome and makes me happy.  And drunk.  I also want to post the recipes I’ve had success with but haven’t gotten around to typing up.

This list is probably going to grow, but it’s a good place to start.

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Opening Liber MMM

As I described in the launch post for my chaos magic experiment, I am beginning with Liber MMM: mind control, magic, and dreaming*.

Mind Control

Except for the emotional auditing, Peter Carroll’s “mind control” is basically meditation, and I’ve been starting simple with sitting motionless and breathing concentration.  The hardest thing about five minutes a day of meditation isn’t the meditation, itself: it’s sitting down to do it.  So far I’ve been managing about every other day.

I’ve experimented with three different positions to date.  Sitting cross-legged on my bed, with my arms extended and my elbows resting on my knees.  Laying flat on my back on the bed, arms limp at my sides.  And sitting in one of those mini-papasan chairs that they sell for dorm rooms, facing my altar, with my hands in my lap.  I’ve had mixed results with all three.  I have done my meditation in the morning, promptly upon waking, and at night, shortly before going to sleep.  Again, the results have been mixed.

Sitting still for five minutes was, in fact, physically painful the first time I did it as a part of this experiment.  And, for whatever reason, flatly impossible yesterday morning.  I’m not sure why: it’s not like I don’t sit motionless for a lot of my magical workings.  Maybe it’s because I’m not focused on anything in particular.  Ironically, I think this will get easier as I progress, not because of the practice, itself—though that will absolutely help a lot–because shape and object visualization are things I do more often as a part of my visionary practice.

Magic

Coming back to the Sunrise Temple has made it easy to get back into my practice of daily banishing.  For the last week I have begun my day with a banishing pentagram and a Qabalistic Cross.  Except for today, which got off to a fuckered start when I woke from some fairly disturbing nightmares that pretty much threw off my whole morning game.

I have also been working on designing a few sigils, and researching different methods of designing and launching them.  In addition to Liber Null, I have ploughed through most of Frater U.D.’s Practical Sigil Magic, and am delighted to finally have some grasp of AO Spare’s original Alphabet of Desire/Sacred Language.  As someone who has dabbled in conlang, and envies the utility of verbs in inflected languages such as Attic Greek and Classical Latin, I’m really, really, really excited to start developing my own personal magical grammar for complex sigils.  I have some really interesting ideas about how to combine this technique with Hellenistic curse tablets and my own theories of art as an act of magic that I can’t wait to try out.

I have finally designed, but not actually enchanted, a set of talismans to give to my friends and colleagues by which they may offer me magical aid, or call upon me for the same.  Look forward to further reports in that arena, too.

Dreaming

Like meditation, getting back into the habit of keeping a dream journal has been hit-and-miss.  I’m still at a point where, often, I literally cannot remember my dreams even moments after waking.  And then there’s shit like today, where the imagery is so disturbing that I just can’t bring myself to write it down in the first moments of my day.

Magical dreaming has always eluded me, in part because I am so violently dysfunctional upon first waking, and this is going to be a major area of struggle for me, personally.


* – Where’s that third M come from?  “Morpheus”?

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Project Null

Closing one project makes way to begin another.  The next major project in my cue is a study of Chaos Magick.  At Aradia’s suggestion, I have decided to call these experiments Project Null, and tag related blog posts accordingly.  (The Squirrel has pointed out to me that this is somewhat grandios and rediculous, to which I could only respond, “Yes.  And?”

One of the things I learned during the last experiment was that I needed to set more concrete goals.  Here, then, are lists of the sources and resources I am planning to make use of so far.  The reading list will grow longer, and I can only ask for your help with this dear readers: who/what else should I be reading?  Is Frater U.D. worth my time?  Who else was/is iconic and revolutionary in the Chaos Magick movement that I clearly haven’t heard of and simply shouldn’t ignore?

(RE)SOURCES

Carroll, Peter.  Liber Null & Psychonaut.

–. Liber Chaos.

Hine, Phil.  Condensed Chaos.

Mace, Stephen.  Stealing the Fire From Heaven.

Miller, Jason.  Strategic Sorcery.  Blog.

–.  Sorcerer’s Secrets.

Moore, Alan.  Promethea.

Morrison, Grant.  The Invisibles.

–. The Disinformation Speech.

White, Gordon.  Rune Soup.  Blog.

ROADMAP AND GOALS

1) Liber Null.  I’ve gotta start somewhere, and given the contents of my library and Aradia’s, this seems like the best place.  With a little bit of dedication, I should qualify for initiation into the IOT by the time I’m done.

1.1) Liber MMM.  Particularly the meditation and the sigils.  These experiments will continue throughout the project and hopefully beyond.  The first weeks of Project Null will be devoted exclusively to developing a meditation practice—something I’ve never done—and reestablishing my daily banishing practice.

1.1.1) Mind Control.  I will begin by setting aside 5 minutes a day for these mindfulness exercises.  By the end of the year, I want to be capable of minutes of visualization and/or object concentration for 15 or 20 at a stretch three times a week.  This may seem like a low bar.  If it turns out to be, I’ll raise it.

1.1.2) Magic: Banishing and Sigils.  In terms of banishing, I will continue experimenting with daily banishing rituals until I perfect one for my own purposes.  As for sigils, I will begin by firing off at least one shoal of 3-5 sigils every week.  I’m a greedy bastard: there’s at least that much I want in the world. (And if I run out of things I want, I can always start working for others.)

1.1.3) Dreaming.  This art has eluded me for years.  As such I will simply set pursuing it as a goal.  In addition to Carroll, I intend to make use of Frater Acher’s recommendations on the subject.

1.2) Liber Lux, Liber Nox.  Oh, yeah: y’all know I go both ways.  The second and third books of Liber Null are as much theory as practice, and not all of the practice is relevant to me, but I will commit to studying each section and writing about them, and explaining my decisions for those exercises which I choose not to work through.  I intend to have completed my first run through Liber Lux and Liber Nox by the end of October.

1.3) Liber AOM.  This shit is just whak, and much of it irrelevant as someone working reasonably hard to not die any time in the near future.  Still, I’ll spend some time in October and November (assuming I’m on track) exploring these concepts.

2) Psychonaut.  As I work my way through Liber Null, it is my intention to simultaneously work through Psychonaut.  I have already performed the Mass of Chaos, adapting it to dedicate my Chaos altar.  I hope to incorporate the suggestions and contexts provided by Psychonaut to the work of Liber Null.  As such, I intend to post musings on the subjects contained therein, as well as develop my own experiments based on them.  I aim to complete this stage of the work by the end of November.  As with Libri Lux, Nox, and AOM, I will discuss each section, weather it offers me a particular exercise or not.

3. Servitor Creation. The creation and maintenance of servitors is one of the most visible and iconic portions of Chaos Magick. I cannot claim to study the field without at least one experiment in that area. I intend to start with creating a protector-spirit to accompany my house-wards, and to have it “up and running” by the end of November.

4. Analysis and Check-In.  By the end of November, I hope to have made it at least halfway through the above reading list, and added at least as many more to the cue.  From that position of (relatively) greater knowledge, I intend to have a better idea of how to progress specifically.

5. Lovecraftian Magic.  I’ve told you all before about how the first occult book I ever purchased was the “Simon” Necronomicon.  For years I’ve been hearing about Chaos magicians performing invocations of Lovecraftian horrors … hell, once upon a time, it was one of the things that kept me from away from Chaos Magick.  So … now I want to try it.  I don’t know if I’m going to use the Simon or the Donald Tyson version, or play with some weird shit I dig up on the internet.  But there will be Eldrich Horrors.  And I plan to sick them on some senators.

6. Feminism as Chaos Magick.  I first mentioned this project over on G+ and Tumblr.  I want the initiatory essay completed by the end of the semester, and have the project in motion by the beginning of the next semester.

CAVEAT

I’m excited about this project.  I’ve been looking forward to it since the idea first occurred to me.  But I try to be vigilant, and to be wary of my own motivations.  And after a certain amount of soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that while the ceremonial magic project was good for me, it also gave me a rock-solid excuse to let my personal spiritual practice slide.

When was the last time I encountered Dionysus or his messengers in my journeys?  I have seen Rhea once in the last year.  Even Tsu and ZG don’t show up as often as I’d like.  I’ve thought a lot about the potential implications of conjuring my Natal Genius and Demon, but I haven’t done any magic or divination to explore it.

Project Null has the potential to be the same.  So to help keep myself honest, I’m going to try to post at least once about my personal practice for every two posts about Project Null, not including posts serving double duty.

INVITATION

Aradia and I intend to work through this project together, scheduling our reports to post simultaneously so as to avoid cross-contamination of our experiments.  We cordially invite any interested parties to join in with the Project Null experiment.  If any such parties have blogs of your own, we would love to share the #ProjectNull tag with you.

I can be reached through the comments section of this blog, the ask box at my Tumblr, or even my G+ account.  Aradia can be reached through her blog.

Although I have already begun working with Liber MMM—banishings, motionlessness, and breathing concentration–the official kickoff for the project is Sunday.

Obviously, there must be some uniformity in order for it to really count as a group project: for this first section, that’s working through Liber Null and Psychonaut.  Your own personal goals and interests within that sphere, however, will vary.  Maybe you want to shoot for an hour a day of motionless, thoughtless meditation.  Aradia has no personal interest in Lovecraftian magic.  Some of you (though it breaks my heart to know this) will not care about the Feminism as Chaos Magick project.  As we approach the end of November, we can plot our course for the second “half” of the project together.

This is short notice.  Whatever.  Anyone can joint the project at any time.  If you can’t keep up with the pace we set, or if you think everyone else is moving too slow: go at your own speed.

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My Chaos Altar and Alchemy Lab

Coming back to the Sunrise Temple with some new plans, I’ve done a bit of rennovation.  Specifically I’ve rebuilt and organized my secondary altars.  It’s a little silly but I’m kinda proud of them.

THE CHAOS ALTAR

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Featuring my mask dedicated to Baphomet.  To the left is a paper skull representing Thatatos, and to the right a glass vial for Eros, to be filled with Venus oil once I’ve perfected a blend.  And, of course, my first Chaosphere: hand drawn with a pencil, compass, and ruler, then inked with a variety of pens.  It’s got a nice kick already.

THE ALCHEMY LAB

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Yes, it’s a glorified spice cabinet.  It’s even right over my stove.  The bottom shelf are the things that might actually go into food.  The next are teas and things that may be brewed as tea.  The third shelf are things that can’t, shouldn’t, or (for whatever reason) won’t be ingested, and the high shelf if full of empty bottles waiting to be filled with fun things.

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Sunrise Temple Altar Rebuilt

Rebuilding the altar wasn’t quite the first thing I did upon returning to Sunrise, Indiana, but it was close.  I have been tinkering with it a little every day, but I think I am mostly done.

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The uppermost portions are little changed.  The left side contains my idols of Dionysus and Hephaestus; the right side has my shrines to Rhea and Athena.  The center is currently a collection of my personal talismans and artifacts of power, waiting to be remade into a seasonal altar.  Behind it all sits a mirror, in which reflect my library, textbooks, and an image of Dionysus which I cannot fit on the altar itself.  The reflections were unplanned, but work beautifully: my books are every bit as much a part of my life as my gods.

The level below has been changed significantly.  While Sue and my vision mask still reside there, the have both been moved, and now share space with images of and offering bowls for my Natal Genius and Demon.  Those shelves also bear representations of the planetary powers: the “masculine” of the left; the “feminine” on the right.

The two double bookshelves on either side of the table contain various magical experiments.  Going counter clockwise from the upper left: my various active talismans and sigils; my house wards; my safe travel spell, money-for-Greece spell, and anti-fertility charms; and a collection of talismans of people and places close to me.  In the middle are my “God” and “Goddess” statues beneath a miniature cosmology.

The flat surface of the table is, finally, pure workbench.  My Triangle of the Art holds the place of honor at the center of my elemental symbols.  To the right sit my ritual knife, my talisman of the Beneficial Sign, my brazier, and the coffee I just offered to all my household spirits.  To the left are my copper ring and bracelet that I use when channeling forces, my “bolean” and my cauldron.

Misclaneous tools and projects hide below.  My wands are visible in the corner on the left.

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The Ceremonial Experiment In Summation

I know that my year of studying ceremonial magic (particularly of the Golden Dawn and grimoire traditions) has been a whirlwind tour at best.  How can one cover, in a year, the variations and culminations of two thousand (or more, depending on where you start counting) years of magical tradition and experimentation?  At times I have felt like a child playing with forces I can barely comprehend.

Fuck: the fact of the matter is that I am such a child.  We all are.  I think that the best many of us—particularly those of us with families, jobs, and other “worldly” obligations—can ever dream of achieving is adolescence.  Still, though, if I sit down and enumerate (as I did a bit in my previous posts on the subject) the things I’ve accomplished, it turns out that I’ve made respectable inroads.

In this final post on the subject I want to talk about the resources I accessed in order to make those inroads.  It would have been impossible for me if I weren’t in college, for one: my access to top-notch internet; the moments of down time between classes that were too long to waste but too short to do any real homework; the intellectual ambiance (so radically different from the outside world) that treats spending weeks at a stretch with your nose in obscure data as healthy behavior rather than as dysfunctional.  There’s also the thing about my relative economic privilege which has allowed me to amass (and hoard) my library over the last decade and a half.

Over the course of this project, in approximate chronological order (with some considerations for ease of citation [and comments]) I have read:

Du Quette, Lon Milo.  Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante’s Guie to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist.  San Francisco: Weiser, 2001.  [Gave me the courage to really dig into this project.]

–.  Low Magick.    Woodburry, MN:  Llwellen, 2011.

Penczak, Christopher. Temple of High Witchcraft. Woodburry, MN: Llwellen, 2007. [Solid at first glance, but structurally unsound: lessons begin and end but don’t middle.]

Crowley, Aleister.  Moonchild.

–.  Book of Thoth.  (*)

–.  Book Four.  (*)

Fortune, Dion.  Sea Priestess.

–.  Moon Magick.  York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1978.

Kraig, Donald Michael. Modern Magick.  St. Paul, MN: Llwellyn, 1997. (*)  [I see that there’s a new edition out, but it looks hardcore Llwellenized.  Does anyone know if it’s been nerfed as bad as it appears, or if it’s actually still solid?)]

Turner, Robert.  Trans.  Arbatel of Magic

Frater Barrabbas. Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick Volume One: Foundation.  Stafford England: Megalithica Books,2008 (*)  [Explain to me again why people take this guy seriously?]

Agrippa, Cornelius.  Three Books of Occult Philosophy. (*)

Trithemius, Johannes. The  Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  (*)  [So … is he a cryptographer or a magician?  Can someone more expert in these fields help me with this?]

Betz, Hans Deiter (ed.).  The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells.  (*) Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.  [I wish I had the brazen gonads needed to do half the magic in this book.]

Warnock, Christopher (trans.). Picatrix. (*) [Working with excerpts provided on his web page and via the Spiritus Mundi group.]

Greer, Mary K. Women of the Golden Dawn: Priestesses and Rebels. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1995.  [Brilliant.  You should read it.]

Books I didn’t make it all the way through are marked with an asterisk(*).  Yes, there’s some novels on there.  I apologize for those citations which are incomplete, especially to the owners of those works, I do not have the print volumes on hand for all the relevant publication data.

And, last but not least, I have been hip-deep in the blogosphere.  Rufus Opus at Head for the Red and Polyphanes the Digital Ambler have provided me with a great deal of information on Hermeticism.  The former operates in a decidedly Christian tradition, while the latter is somewhat more eclectic, and between the two I’ve really been able to get a better view of the mechanics behind the symbolism and ideologies.  Also Aaron Leitch of Annael, who provided me a view of the (sane quarters of the) modern Golden Dawn, a recipe for Abramelin oil (and a process for extracting essential oils in general, which has been great fun), and a few other things.  I should also point to Skyllaros of the Crossroads Companion, because he’s awesome and his work is more accessible to me than that of many other hermetic magicians, but I only discovered him late in the game.

Deserving of special attention and thanks is one mister Jack Faust, of Dionysian Atavism, who has helped me contextualize a lot of these ideas with his very post-modern thoughts on the subject, backed by wonderfully hard archaic sources.  He also gave me a number of personal pointers over email and on G+, for which I am extremely grateful.

Thank you, all of you, for sharing your knowledge and experiences with me.

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Conjuration of Baphomet

PRELIMINARY DIVINATION

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I’m not always very good about divining before enchanting, but I thought that this culminating ritual would be an exceptionally good time to observe best practices.  Unfortunately, as you can see, the outcome is less than clear.  Obviously, I decided to proceed anyway.

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Natal Demon Illustrated

The original automatically drawn trance image wasn’t very pretty, so I sat down with my sketchbook and had a little fun with it.  Behold my Natal Demon, henceforth referred to here as SKM.

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Talisman for the Solar Election

Sun Pillar

Sun Pillar (Photo credit: tomhe)

Dawn yesterday was officially at 6:12am.  I was (am) staying at a friend’s house in St.Louis, spending my last weekend with Aradia partying in the city we both loved (but not at the same time) with old friends before I make the second half of the trek from KC to back the Sunrise Temple for the semester.

My alarm was set for 5:50.  I woke at 5:25.  I tried to go back to sleep, but all I could think about was the Solar election and the morning’s coming ritual.  I did it over and over again in my head.  I had forgotten to prep my sigils, but the glyph I’ve used for the Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus talismans rose from the depths of my brain as I lay there, waiting for the alarm: “Mine is the Favor of Kings.”

Finally, the alarm went off.  I woke Aradia and gathered everything I would need, laying things out in Aurora’s altar room.  We cast our circle a few minutes before the Hour of the Sun began officially.  I ground my frankincense and myrrh; we scribed our names inside the paper talismans that I had printed during the Hour of the Sun on Friday night, knowing I wouldn’t have access to a printer on the road, and assembled the component parts.  The front is an image provided by Christopher Warnock to the Spiritus Mundi group; the back bears my Glyph of the Moon and the Agrippan Characters of the Sun; sealed in between is the blend of frankincense and myrrh.  All three talismans assembled (one each for myself, Aurora, and Aradia), and each associated with a piece of amber jewelry, I placed them in the middle of my Triangle of Art with a candle lit over the glyph of the Sun.

I incanted the Picatrix Invocation of the Sun, and Aradia and I drew the power of the sun into the Circle and poured it into the Triangle and the talismans.  I incanted the Invocation again as Aradia continued to direct the power.

The talismans completed, we promptly went back to sleep.

The ring I empowered is on my hand even now.  It almost burns with power, and it’s going to take a while for me to get used to wearing that kind of spellcraft on my person.

The paper talismans rest on Aurora’s altar, gathering power while we linger in St. Louis.  I can’t wait to see how these bad boys change our lives.  I think it’s going to be epic.

I had been hoping there would be a Solar election soon, so that I could add that power to my collection.  I am grateful that it came exactly when it did.  I need this now as I transition from one life to the next, and as I shift gears magically.

Only one last conjuration remains before I begin what Aradia and I have been calling Project Null: the conjuration of Baphomet.

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My Year of Ceremonial Study: The Home Stretch

In retrospect, I wish that I had set more concrete goals for my year of studying ceremonial magic.  I started with a particular programme, but I abandoned it about half way through as inadequate to the task it proposed.  I did refine my goals a little short of half way through, but even those were not particularly specific: to begin the pursuit of a supernatural assistant, to form connections with the Planetary and Elemental Powers, to begin producing a grimoire for people of a more polytheist bent, unable to swallow the top-down, antropocentric cosmology of Ptolemy.  Realizing even then that my original time frame of a year could well prove inadequate, I mused about pushing it out to eighteen months or more.  As you, my clever readers, have already inferred, I have decided against extending my study for now:  I am content with the Work I have accomplished in the last year.

There are quite a few projects that I haven’t found the time or clarity to write about yet, but only two goal experiments remain before I am ready to begin my year with Chaos magick.  Through the Spiritus Mundi group, I have learned of a Solar Election this weekend, which will allow me to create the one talisman I had wanted to but not yet had the chance.  Using that election, I will create a talisman for the Favor of Kings—like those I have created for Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury—and a Solar ring of power.  And when the Dark Moon comes, I will use my shiny new Circle of the Art to conjure Baphomet and empower my Chaosphere.

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