Tag Archives: art of magic

Photo story: the Mask of Baphomet

The first of many series exploring myth, ritual, and possession, I shot these photos around the first of the month with my first professional model, Felicity Houpte.  Inspired by my experiences with the Conjuration of Baphomet, this series depicts a simple rite of evocation and the donning of a mask, followed by possession by the god Baphomet and finally apotheosis.

Images below the fold for space considerations and because they are not safe for work.

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Image of the Moon

Image of the Moon

Image of the Moon

Image of the Moon as she appeared to me in February of 2015.

A feminine figure on a black field, a blue-lined purple cloak hangs from her shoulders.  She holds a bowl in one hand and a stang in the other.  She is crowned, and broad horns extend from the sides of her head.  Her face bears three eyes, and two more stare from each of her horns.

When Aradia and I conjured the Moon at the end of our cycle, I had no idea how the archangel Gabriel might appear to me. After all, Michael had appeared to me as the most femme Sun I had ever seen.  That the archangel appeared to me in the guise of the Witches’ Goddess, then, was not unsurprising … but neither was it expected.

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Image of Mercury

Image of Mercury

Image of Mercury

Image of Mercury as he appeared to me in February of 2015

A yellow-orange figure with wings sprouting from his head.  He has large orange eyes which his orange helmet cannot contain.  His arms are held tight to his body, one hand clutches a book and the other is open like a claw.  A billowing garment hangs from his waist, concealing one leg, the other boasts a winged ankle.

This image was at once one of the  most clear and one of the least surprising: active, winged, and helmed, he strongly resembles many traditional images of Mercury and Hermes, though he lacks the Caduceus.

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Image of the Sun

Image of the Sun

Image of of Michael as she appeared before me on Sunday 11 January 2015.

A golden voluptuous figure with a blazing star instead of a face and for wings instead of arms, each bearing a staring Dionysiac eye.

This image surprised me greatly: I have dealt with the sun as both “male” and “female” on numerous occasions, but I did not for a moment expect the Archangel Michael to reveal itself to me in the form of a woman.  The Dionysiac eyes were also a shock, but perhaps should not have been; the sun has possessed me on several occasions, though usually more penetratingly than envelopingly.

Michael also provided me with a seal for later conjurations, which I have also kept to myself.

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Image of Mars

Image of Mars

Image of Samael, as he appeared before me Tuesday 6 January.

Possibly the most “complete” image, and definitely one of the most readily understood.  Samael appears as a grey-skinned four-eyed man in a black breastplate and helmet, entirely concealed by his cape except for his sword-wielding right hand.  A column of red light rises from the top of his helmet into the sky and he stands in a field of grain under a stormy sky.

Samael was one of the archangels to provide me with a seal by which to conjure him later.  I have kept that seal to myself.

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Image of Jupiter

Jupiter Image

The Image of Sachiel, the Archangel of Jupiter, as he appeared before me on Thursday the 1st of January 2015.

The crudest of the six images, both magically and artistically.  He appeared with six eyes, six wings, a sword where his right hand should have been, and his left hand (if he has one) obscured by blue robes.

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Young Gods

Howling Earth

Howling Earth

Horned One

Horned One

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Sun God/dess By Candlelight

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I’ve gotten into photography recently.  Like, seriously.

This piece, in which a witchy friend of mine here in KC modeling my Sun God mask, was one of a series experimenting with light and shadow.

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The Dweller at the Threshold … Again

At the beginning of the summer, I took on two projects that have given me much more trouble than I anticipated.  To my frustration, the trouble has not been that the work, itself, is beyond me, but rather the emotional crisis that it has precipitated.

Skylights

With the conclusion of the 2012-13 academic year, I have been studying and experimenting with ceremonial magic for two years.  I have conjured my Natal Genius and Daemon.  I have journeyed to each of the seven Spheres via both neo-shamanic visionary techniques and by conjuring archangels to lead the way.  I have employed electional astrology to create talismans of great power, and conjured the powers of the planets to influence the shape of politics.

I recognize that this is a pittance, and that I have barely scratched the surface of the subject matter.  I have dabbled in the Golden Dawn and Agrippa the Picatrix and the Arbatel, mostly via Christopher Penczak, Rufus Opus, Christopher Warnock, and a few other modern authors.  Although I await Aaron Leitch’s new book eagerly, I have not yet even made the most cursory study of Enochian magic.  Although I have read Crowley/Mather’s Goetia, I have never conjured any of those demons.  There are countless grimoires of which I know precisely nothing.

With that said, however, I think that the products of my experiments—my insights and my struggles—may be useful to others.  There are core concepts in ceremonial magic that are simply alien to anyone coming from a witchcraft background like my own, and straightforward presentation of the core techniques are few and far between.  As such, I think that I might be able to shed some light on the path, at least the first few steps, and have committed myself to writing a chapbook on the subject by the end of the summer.

The plan is to publish the results of my experiments so that others may build upon them.  As I said on tumblr, I would like a few beta-readers who have more experience with conjuration than I have so that they can tell me how far off the mark I am, and a few beta-readers with no experience in conjuration to try to see if my UPG works for others.  I have one volunteer for the former and two for the latter, but would like one or two more of each.  (Hint.  Hint.)

Translating the Stele of Jeu

I began performing the Stele of Jeu as a part of my Esbat rites at the end of 2011.  Although I no longer perform the ritual quite so regularly, I still find it to be an exceptionally useful part of my practice.  Because of the difficulties that one of my friends is having right now, I believe that the ritual would benefit her a great deal.  Unfortunately, however, she is not of a mindset which will permit her to simply perform the ritual: it’s too alien.  So I have taken it upon myself to annotate and, where possible, rephrase the ritual for her benefit, and the benefit of other witches who find the peculiar language of Greek-translated-for-scholars to be incomprehensible bordering on intimidating.

In my magical fantasy world, this project will culminate in my writing a version of the Stele for witches of an eclectic Wiccan background what Crowley did for his own students and peers in writing Liber Samekh.  Unfortunately this has been hampered by my inability to locate any scholarship on the subject, forcing me to rely in unseemly fashion on my personal experiments and UPG, and on the research of Mr. Jack Faust.

The Crisis

The crisis these projects has engendered is twofold, but the components are embarrassingly straightforward.

Firstly, I am plagued by the question, “Who am I to pose as an expert of any kind?”  The fact of the matter is that I know how little I know.  For all that I’ve been practicing magic for upward of fifteen years, my neuroses and social circles have somewhat limited my avenues of research.  Attending college in Indiana has also been surprisingly limiting to my options for interlibrary loan.

The fact that I am explicitly positioning myself as a fellow Seeker, not an expert or teacher does not seem to assuage this fear at all.  The fact of the matter is that I want to be a community leader somewhere down the road, have said so before, and only a fool could fail to put two and two together: Yes, I am hoping that some day, when I have something more substantial to offer, people will remember that I had clever things to say before.

Secondly, somewhat in light of the above, I find myself asking the question, “Is this where I want to focus my efforts?”  I am just old enough, at 32, that I am beginning to really feel my own mortality.  There are so many things I want to study, so many experiments that I want to do, so many books that I want to write.  Every time I choose to focus on one of them, I am potentially closing off others simply by virtue of the limited time available to me.

Is planetary witchcraft the thing I want to focus on?  What about the visionary work?  What about the alchemy?  What about the elemental powers I have touched, or the Chaos Magic I’ve dabbled in, my experiments in art as magic?  And where does that leave time for my novels?  Or my formal, public scholarship?

And, oh, yes, that whole thing where I want to seek out my gods but am deathly terrified to do so.

So I find myself stalling.  Sure, I needed to take advantage of this long weekend to actually relax and get some things done around the house.  Yes, I need to work my job to pay my rent and save up in hopes of being able to study in Greece at the end of the coming school year.  Damn right I need to actually get caught up on my sleep.  But I don’t need to do any of these things to the exclusion of the Work.

ETA: Edited to provide link and correct the spelling of Mr. Leitch’s name.  My apologies, sir.

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Ivy-Clad: Mirrors, Masks, Magic, and Art

Sannion asks: “how much is too much? Should you always put it all out there or is it okay, even necessary at times, to hold some things back? Do you always have to be honest, vulnerable and pushing against limitations? What if the things you feel called to express are somehow counterproductive to the greater purpose of your art?”

Art—the good stuff, at least—is all made by bleeding. Enough is already too much.

You have to hold something back: it’s a matter of survival. You must retain some essential kernel of self, whatever that is, hidden away in your heart-of-hearts, so that, after you’ve created—ποιῶ, facio—until you’re dry and dying, there’s something left to regrow from. Because you must always be honest, especially when you’re lying through your teeth. That honesty makes you vulnerable, even as it makes you powerful. And art that isn’t pushing against some limitation, even if its only the artist’s own endurance, isn’t really worth doing. It might be fun for the spectator, but not to do.

In all these things, art and magic are very much the same: the whole point is to split yourself open and stir up whats inside, mixing it with what’s outside and what has never been and what just might be, if only we dream hard enough. Artists and magicians call upon dreams and images, draw them out of the ether by rite or by sheer will, and manifest them in the material realm. Spirits, paintings, narratives, curses, symphonies, motion, pleasure, creation, sculpture, ecstasy, destruction. We stalk labyrinths of mirrored hallways, staring into the abysses that can only be found within. We embrace each distorted image for the truth it reveals, and listen carefully as it whispers to us of the secrets that cannot be found in the mortal world. We craft masks fabricated from our dreams and nightmares, stitch them together with our own tendons, and then endow them with such glammours that only others of our kind can see the grotesque materia at the heart of the wonders the uninitiated applaud.

One must hold something back, lest one be consumed utterly …. but, at the same time, the degree to which one holds back is the degree to which failure is almost assured. And yet … only we can know the things that we keep back. Only we can judge what is too precious, or too awful, to share. What will contaminate the work. What will overpower the work.

We ride the razor edge, and we are always bleeding.

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