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Pagan Leadership: What I Have Learned So Far

Where is the line between “being a leader” and merely “playing a leadership role”?

For most of my life, I imagined that Pagan leaders were somehow exceptional.  That they were magically gifted, or brilliant geniuses, or touched by the gods, or (occasionally) deft predators.  Somehow, they were in the right place at the right time and were anointed by the community.  I could barely imagine myself among their number.  Although I have, often, fantasized about starting a coven or order, I largely kept to myself and practiced only with my partners and closest friends.

For most of my life, I have alternated between hanging out at the back of various Pagan groups, following along without offering suggestions, and forming small working groups where we all fought to balance our own visions with the objectives of the others in the group.  Until very recently, I disdained the explicit pursuit of any public title or acknowledgement, keeping only this blog as as my billboard to the world, and waited for my following to appear.

Then, in July of 2014, Aradia and I finally joined the Heartland Spiritual Alliance.  We were accepted into the Sacred Experience Committee and quickly took charge of the ritual crew.  The senior members of the committee had a certain vision for what they wanted the rituals to accomplish, but the language, the choreography, and (in the end) the performance were ours and the people we brought in with us.

In July of 2015, I was elected Chair of the Sacred Experience Committee, and Aradia took Public Relations.  By January, we had both been asked to join the Board of Directors.  When the Chairman of the Board called a meeting and asked if anyone had a vision for the future of the organization, Aradia and I furnished a five-year plan which was well received by the Board, recommended by the Board to the Membership, who in turn voted the Plan into place in March.  In April, when the Vice President announced her intention to step down before the end of her term, Aradia was asked to take her place after the festival.

In the wake of this year’s elections, Aradia and I still hold our committees.  Aradia has been formally elected and installed as Vice President of the Heartland Spiritual Alliance, and I have been elected Chairman of the Board for the 2016-17 festival year.

By rational analysis, I believe that it is probably reasonable to say that  we have crossed the line, and could fairly consider ourselves “Pagan leaders”.  But … the imposter syndrome is strong.

I am not, I think, exceptional in any way that qualifies me for leadership. I am not particularly charismatic – or, at least, not among Pagans, were we all bear some benefit of the magician’s charisma – or a natural leader.  I am better educated than many, and have been on wilder adventures than some, but my credentials, such as they are, bear little weight in the community.  Although I have been attending the festival for many, many years, I have largely kept to myself and was little known in the community of either attendees or HSA members before I joined.  Now that I am better known, I am certainly not well-loved by all: I am, at best, an abrasive personality, and even when people agree with me, they do not always like me.

In the weeks since the beginning of the new member year, I have already heard the first cry of, “Who IS this punk?”  I’ve been expecting it for a while, honestly.

I just showed up one day.  And then I did the work.  It probably helps that attendees have loved the rituals my crew and I put together, and that the members I have recruited have integrated well with the rest of the organization.  Certainly not everyone agrees with my vision, and I have even been accused of being a part of the hated “inner circle”, but I do not believe that there is any doubt my dedication to the festival … though, because I am so abrasive, there are those who don’t believe that I am good for the community.

So, this is what I have learned in the process of becoming “a leader” in the Pagan community.

  • Pagan leaders are people.  They have lives and ambitions outside their leadership roles.  They have personalities that may or may not be comparable with yours.  Each and every one of us is in it for a different reason.  Whether it’s a calling, or you’re in it for the glory, or you just showed up with your friends.
  • Leadership is work.  Thus it requires professionalism.   Maintain professional relationships with those you personally dislike.  Fire the abusers and the slackers.  Do the work.
  • “Leading Pagans is like herding cats” is a disavowal of responsibility.  Stop saying that.  Herding cats is easy.  You herd cats by providing something they want at one end of the trail, and following along behind to redirect those who get distracted.  (So, yes, I guess that leading Pagans IS like herding cats, just not what people mean when they say that.)  Do the work.

The future of the community is being determined right now, even as we speak, by those who show up and do the work.  I am unworthy, but I am here.  I am doing the work.

Paganism is a movement, not a product for sale.

If you share my vision, show up.  Bring your friends.  Do the work.

If you disagree with my politics, show up.  Bring your friends.  Do the work.

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What is the Work?

Again again again I come back to this question.

What is the work?

Simple question, on the face of it.  So many dangerous non-answers.

I ran into an old friend over the weekend.  She said some things to me that made me want to scream.

“It sounds like you’re exactly where you need to be,” she said.  Then ahw proceded to tell me what I needed to do instead of what I’m doing now: find a new home festival, if Heartland has become all work; go to other festivals to see how they do things (how are those two not murually exclusive?).  I asked her how her life was going, and she changed the subject.

Running into D struck me as an omen of sorts.  There’s a conversation we get stuck in every time we talk about life: “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing,” she’ll say to me; I’ll respond, “What do you want?”  We didn’t actually have that conversation this time — or perhaps we did, obliquely and by inversion — but I couldn’t not think on it.

Since the end of the Ceremonial Experiment and the decomissioning of the Sunrise Temple, I have been spiritually adrift.  My magical practice has ammounted to repeating the Experiment in miniature —  powering through RO’s Seven Spheres when it came out last year; attempting to code-switch planetary conjuration into the language of Witchcraft at the beginning of this year.  My spiritual practice has consisted solely of orchestrating the rituals for Heartland Pagan Festival — playing priest to the community, a role to which I have long aspired, but somehow to the exclusion of my personal spiritual pursuits.

I keep coming back to the same to questions.  Where do I go from here?  What is the next phase of the work?  The blog has suffered for it even more than my life.  Existential angst is not the writing mode that I do best.

I have been seeking teachers again.  But there are a number of reasons that so many of the books on magic are exclusively 100-level beyond the obvious American (and, perhaps, to a lesser degree Anglophone) prefference for shallow knowleged.  At a certain point you must cross the line from the techniques of magic into the experience of the Mysteries.

I have found some inspiration in the recent works of Gordon White and Peter Grey.  But Peter Grey, however brilliant his writing, is too much the cishet fuckboy: for every brilliant illumination he provides, there is an overlong passage of literary masturbation wherein he gets so caught up in his own language that he forgets his point, on the one hand, and some casually awful straight man bullshit on the other.  And Gordon White, for all his Chaote brilliance and animist awakening, is too comfortable with the lingering structures of empire and his emphasis on ancestors is a place that I have not yet been able to follow.

And there, of course, obvious directions that I could go from here.

Going back to basics (again) would probably serve me well.  Struggling to meditate means you need to meditate more, right?

Leaving my body was my greatest aspiration when I fist began practicing magic.  I never quite got the hand of “astral projection” techniques, but I am unconvinced that the shamanic visionary techniques I did, once, excell at were taking me to a fundamentally different place.  And yet… I have let htat practice slip.

I have a small cadre of familiar spirits accumulated throughout my visionary and ceremonial practices, all of whom probably have something to teach me if only I were talking to them.

 

I have a collection of masks, maked in frantic, mantic fever, each of which has some purupose that I have not yet unlocked, and which is probably more subtle and potent that the production of occult art.

I have drawn Powers and spirits into the bodies of others, almost too casually, but I have only experienced trance-possession, myself, and handfull of times: once Death, once my Natal Demon, twice a Sun God, all by the aid of masks, and, most recently, the Nine Muses followed by Typhoeus as a part of the Air and Water rituals this year’s festival.  And yet, it was long considered the defining feature of moder neo-Pagan witchcraft.

There are gods and powers I have encountered in my practice whose interest in me I never managed ot understand.  The Intelligences of the Moon.  The Witchmother and Witchfather — the latter possibly Lucifer, the latter whom I never idenitified.  The Queen of the Deap Water.  Certain Solar powers.  Rhea Cybele.

And Dionysus, who has shown me small favors yet always remained aloof.

A clever reader, of course, sees not an overabundance of options, among which one cannot chose, but rather an escalating programme that I should be pursuing.

And yet … the dillema remains.  How do you meditate when panic rises every time you try to still your mind?

This is the work.

 

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A Charmed Life

I was let go from my position with my former employer on the fifth of March.  Thursday I accepted a new position, after only three weeks of unemployment.  My first day is tomorrow.

It may surprise my readers, however, to learn that I did practically no magic in that period, except a few offerings immediately before my interview Thursday.  If this fortune is the result of enchantment, it is a product of the same enchantment that resulted in my termination.  I believe that it is.  Magically, I set goals for my art — my photography, in particular — that could not be achieved in my previous circumstances.

There is not guarantee that I will achieve them, now.  But the opportunity exists.

I live a charmed life.

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The Sun versus Depression

midwest gothic-22_24small

Midwestern Gothic 22 by Wormwood Groves Photography

When Aradia and I set out to spend the year re-exploring planetary magic and reframing it in terms more accessible to witches, we started with the Sun for a variety of reasons.  Firstly, we were beginning at the Winter Solstice: the return of the Sun or – depending on how you frame things – the be beginning of the waxing year.  Secondly, from a naturalistic standpoint, if there is any planet that rules the heavens, then it is the life-giving Sun around whose gravity all the other planets revolve. Thirdly, as witches, the Sun is familiar and friendly to us, second only to the Moon.  And, finally, we had hoped that the Sun would help me overcome the deep depression that overshadowed the second half of 2015.

In this last, we found a ourselves to be very wrong.

There are a lot of reasons.  The crash after leading the main rituals at Heartland last year (an event that I still haven’t written about).  My house flooding in the Biblical rains we had here in KC from April through June.  The implosion of a long-standing friendship.  Family drama, in part political, in part related to the problems with my house.  Financial troubles.  All manageable, even taken together, except … I just didn’t have it in me.  This has been one of the worst years of my life for my mental health.

Here in the depths of winter … even the Sun wasn’t enough.

There were days … weeks when I considered abandoning the project altogether.  I thought that perhaps I should switch to an elemental experiment, to better prepare me for the rites of HPF 2016.  It got to where just walking into the room with the altars gave me panic attacks.

In retrospect, I think that conjuring the Sun at the Winter Solstice was not the best plan.  The Sun is not the Moon, where it’s ebb is the flow of a different sort of power.  The Sun is always there, holding the spinning orbs in place, and the turning of the terrestrial seasons has little bearing on the efficacy of traditional astrological magic.  But I was … am practicing witchcraft, and the turning of the seasons is the heart of that power.  And right now the Solar year is waxing,  but it is still … distant.  And cold.  And it is the warmth of the Sun that I needed to drag me out of my Abyss.

Instead, I have been climbing out of my depression the other way available to those of us without the appropriate healthcare: by what Aradia describes as the ladder of anger and anxiety.  Fortunately, most of my friends are as mad as I am, and have been very understanding of how difficult it is to be around me.

As I said, I very seriously considered giving up the experiment of planetary witchcraft.  But we did get some very solid results early on, and in contemplating the Sun I did also gain some insight into how to more effectively proceed.  More importantly, though, I remembered something I learned from all my science friends: negative results are not the same thing as a failed experiment.  The things I learned from this round will help me execute the next.

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Further Experiments With The Stele of Jeu

beneficial moon

Third night of the full moon, 15 Apr 2014. Neither my most nor least successful attempt to photograph the moon.

Excepting the Valentines’ Day Full Moon, when I was laid low with the literal flu and a fever of 104, I have performed the Stele of Jeu the Heiroglyphist (or one of my experimental variants) at least twice at every Full and Dark Moon Esbat this semester.  It has, to my own surprise, become the centerpiece of my magical practice over the last few years.  The results of the ritual, however, have been in no way consistent.

I have written about the ritual before–perhaps more than anyone on the internet except Mr. Jack Faust, who introduced me to the ritual–and I don’t want to re-tread too much ground, but there have been some interesting changes, particularly lately.  In my two years of research, now, I have found about a double handful of people who mention or advocate the ritual.  Only two have talked about the effects of the rite, or their personal experiences with it, and they have spoken to me mostly in private.  I don’t know if this in any way resembles the experiences that others have had with the ritual.

When I first began performing the ritual, I could feel it sending shockwaves throughout my world.  My web of power trembled.  Cracks emerged in the foundations of my reality.  I got so high on power that sometimes I could barely walk to bed at the end of the ritual.

As I became fore familiar with the ritual, the effects seemed to diminish.  The earthquakes were fewer, further between, and came mostly when I was either performing the ritual at a place of power or making the most radical changes to the structure and performance.  It became a sort of touchstone, a powerup, and I had to push the power out into my web.  I began to use the power to help the people in my web transform their lives.  Then I hit a breaking point.

In the last months, I’ve been keeping the power of the ritual to myself again.  And, rather than being disruptive–rather than earthquakes and cracks–the power of the Headless One has been regenerative.  The cracks in me, the cracks in my life, have been filling with that golden-white power, and they’ve been starting to close.

 

 

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Currently Ongoing Projects

For your amusement and my future reference, here is a list of my currently ongoing projects and magical experiments.

1) Skylights chapbook.  Twenty four pages so far detailing the results of my experiments in planetary magic and outlining a roadmap for other witches without ceremonial backgrounds to recreate them, plus copyright-free line-drawings of the major planetary sigils to make everyone’s life easier, and a few personal-use-only talismanic images produced over the course of my experiments.

2) Planetary Boxes.  Inspired by Jason Miller’s Jupiter Cashbox and the conjure boxes made by RO and Skyllaros, these sort of occupy the intersection of talisman and portable altar.

3) Stele of Jeu adaptation.  Crowley did it, why shouldn’t I?  (Yes, I know the answer to that question.)  “I am Aradia, your daughter, initiate of your Mysteries…”

4) Cave Canem.  Although my lovely guard dog has so far been a technical success, there have been some … oddities which require further observation and documentation.

5) Texting Coffee.  Earlier this week, my partner Aradia needed a coffee fix but couldn’t afford (temporally or financially) to go get the quad-mocha she craved.  So I texted her a picture of the espresso I had just produced.  Although done as a joke, it actually worked.  Now the experiments begin.

6) Book Reviews.  I’ve read a lot of books in the last year but have never written about them.  Highlights include Jason Miller’s Sorcerer’s Secrets and Advanced Planetary Magic, Deborah Castellano’s Arte of Glamour, Josephine McCarthy’s Magickal Knowledge: Foundations, and the new edition of Apostolos N. Athanassakis’ translation of The Orphic Hymns.

7) Feminist Sex Magick.  Aradia and I manged to pull off non-creepy, non-dominating, mutually benefiting sex magick.  Now to find a non-creepy way to write about it.

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After-Action Report for Enchantments of Fall 2012

When I came back to school in the fall of last year, I enchanted heavily for a few things.  Some of those I doubled down on over the course of the semester.  I mostly used sigils, though there were also a few planetary rituals, and a few projects that started over the course of the semester.

Sigils for Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

These results were mixed. 

One sigil was specifically aimed at getting people to give me weed for free, and that worked splendidly: I was given some smoke to bring back to the temple with me from KC, and when that ran out I was able to make it through the rest of the semester on the generosity of friends when I visited their homes and on shake and roaches provided to me by my neighbors.  Hell, I’ve still got some of that left.  That sigil is DEFINITELY getting recharged.

Another sigil was targeted at convincing people to give me booze.  This, too, worked like a champ: people brought booze to my house and abandoned it, they bought me drinks at bars (even when they didn’t know me), and I was even able to get a couple commissions for my homebrew operation.  The effects even continued over winter break, with two different people handing me large quantities of honey to ferment.  Another sigil for the permanent collection.l

Finally, and this may be part of the problem, I had several sigils aimed at getting laid.  I took several different tactics: my sexual needs are met, people feel comfortable approaching me for sex, I have generous and intelligent lovers … all to no avail.  The only people to grace my sheets last semester were my partners Aradia and Sannafrid.  Unfortunately, they were each only there for a week at a time (not the same week; my life isn’t quite that awesome) out of the eighteen week semester.  I was getting a little desperate by the end, and as things stand I have no new prospects for this coming semester.  (Anyone reading this blog is, of course, welcome to volunteer.)

Sigils for Health and Happiness

Again, results were mixed.  I specifically enchanted that I be “sound of body and mind”.  Perhaps that wasn’t clear enough.  I also enchanted for the solidification of old friendships and the establishment of new.

Physically, I was healthy for most of the semester.  I was laid up with a fever for a couple days, once, but it wasn’t that bad.  What really fucked with me, though, was the bouts of insomnia.

Mentally, things were much worse.  Maybe it was the Chaos Magic.  Maybe it was the absence of friends on campus.  Maybe it was Saturn in Scorpio, combined with the psychic backlash of Aradia’s Saturn Return.  Whatever.  I spent the majority of the semester depressed, neurotic, and struggling with paranoia.

I didn’t make many new friends this semester, but I did make one or two, and I was able to really solidify some existing acquaintances.  These are good things.

Sigils for Wealth and Prosperity

These enchantments were utter failure, at least in the short term.  I tapped every resource I had and called in every favor owed me, and I still had to beg for money from friends and family to make it back to KC for winter break.  The school actually threatened to not let me come back next semester unless I paid them part of what I owed them before the start of this semester.

Now, that’s all been worked out.  In fact, I may actually end this semester ahead rather than behind.  But it took a lot of enchantment—some of it by friends of mine—and more than a little hard work in the material world to get there.  And I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Sigil for Academic Excellence

I haven’t been invited to Phi Beta Kappa yet, but I did earn an honors GPA this last semester, despite being on the verge of mental collapse.  3.69 for the semester is nothing to sneeze at, particularly given that I was doing two dead languages at the same time.

Shielding Talismans

These, made toward the end of the semester, were a resounding success.  Coming back to classes this semester, in fact, it’s been a little bit of  a shock to me to realize that I actually need them at school more than I needed them in the mall.  Apparently, at least right now, I find the psychic miasma of adolescent angst and the occasional authority-abusing professor to be more toxic than the capitalist nihilist malaise of the indoor mall environment.

Conclusion

So, overall mixed results for manifesting my will last semester.  I got most of what I needed, but not everything I wanted.  Two sigils, though, proved so effective that I’m going to turn them into semi-permanent talismans, which is a definite win.

This semester, I have set myself a challenge of launching a shoal of sigils every Sunday.  For myself.  For my friends.  For politics.  For the world.  For whatever.  Three to five sigils every seven days.

Let’s see how this goes.

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Lucky 13

So concludes another rotation of the Earth around Sol.  By the Gregorian calendar, at least, counting from the approximated birth date of the Christian Savior.  For many years now I have also counted my year Samhain-to-Samhain, emphasized by the fact that my birthday is only seven days after.  And most recently, I have also come to live and die by the academic calendar, which is not quite half done.  By any of those counts, though, this has not been the best year ever.  Not by a wide margin.

It’s been a trial-by-fire since the end of the last Spring semester: going back to the mall for the summer, but somehow not making enough money to actually cover my rent; an art class that consumed twice as much time and energy as it was supposed to; higher costs of education combined with a slightly smaller financial aid package—culminating in the very real possibility that I might not have been able to go back to classes in January if I had not been able to find work over the break; financial policy madness in the United States which may STILL reduce my financial aid to the point where I am unable to finish my degree; fewer friends on campus and fires all over the terrain of my social life; the paranoia and insanity associated with Chaos Magick; and, just for spice, a little bit of inheritance drama on my father’s side of the family.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve gotten a lot done, magically, and there’s been some significant awesomeness in my personal and academic lives.  I finished off the ceremonial experiment and started Project Null, and in doing so I’ve made friends and inroads all over the cosmos.  I’ve come to new levels of understanding and communication with my lovers and our burgeoning polyamory.  I’ve solidified a few friendships, and maybe even started a couple new ones.  Despite the exhausting workload, I ended the semester with a 3.69 GPA, bringing my cumulative at the new school up to 3.44.  And yet, especially as I look a the two lists … it definitely doesn’t weigh out the way I want it to.

So fuck you 2012.  Good riddance.

With that in mind, I did a Tarot reading for the coming year.  My card for the year is the XX Aeon; as I was shuffling, I also caught glimpses of the XVI Tower and XXI the Universe.  When I did a full spread, 0 the Fool, XIII Death, XIX the Sun, and VI the Lovers were all prominent, as were the Queen of Wands and the Page of Swords.   II the Priestess and XVII the Star also made appearances.  Except for Death in my 10th House (professional recognition; clarified as 6 Swords, not III the Empress), the reading is overwhelmingly positive.

Sure, that could be the 6 of Swords as “travel” not “fleeing disaster”, but … I don’t like that shiny red reset button blinking on my career dashboard.  It makes me nervous.  I don’t graduate until 2014.  This is the year I take the GRE and start filling out grad school applications.   An ill-timed “Death” in my professional life …. well, y’all get the idea.

When I get back to the Sunrise Temple – I’m in Kansas City with Aradia for the winter break – I’ll compare this reading with the annual I did at Samhain.  This should be … interesting.

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Full Moon Musings–November 2012

Over the course of the semester three new magical tools have come into my possession: a pentacle, a staff, and a black-handled knife.  The pentacle I picked up at a swap-meet hosted by the local pagan store.  The staff is hand-made by a fine gentleman in the local community, and was given to me as a gift.  The knife was also a gift, a birthday present from another friend here in IMG_5583Sunrise.  These were my first clues that it was time to get back to my basics.  I didn’t ignore the message, per se; I just couldn’t figure out how to enact it in the context of my current workload.

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Icepick Initiation into Hermetics

The Ptolemaic geocentric model of the Universe...

The Ptolemaic geocentric model of the Universe according to the Portuguese cosmographer and cartographer Bartolomeu Velho (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just completed three consecutive weeks of daily planetary conjurations, two of those weeks overlapping with the two phases of Rufus Opus’ Seven Sphere in Seven Days challenge. The results included several visions of the Planetary realms and a ridiculous boost in personal power, and culminated in the ability evoke planetary forces at will … and my first magic-induced migraine since I recovered from my blown a gasket eight years ago. Ultimately, it seems to have served as an initiatory culmination of last year’s ceremonial study.

When Rufus Opus made his challenge, I was already on my third day of planetary rituals prompted by my spirit-allies. Although that first Jupiter conjuration was relativity weak, things escalated quickly. I could see the group current flowing across the sky as I did my work, and I bathed in it. I caught glimpses of the Planetary Realms of the Sun, Mars and Mercury—powers I had not touched so successfully or so formally, if at all. I received ritual instructions from Saturn, and built on my relationship with the powers of the Moon.

The group took a break between Phases I and II of the work, but I continued in between: making my first foray into the Planetary realm of Venus and receiving further instructions on how to perform my conjurations even better—most significantly an upgrade for my Circle of Art and Triangle of Conjuration.

When Phase II began, I was rewarded with a powerful Solar initiatory experience—less than apotheosis, but more than dismemberment. Then the tone changed radically. Although I was able to make contact with each of the Planetary powers in turn, the effects felt anticlimactic after the visionary drama of the week before. I could certainly still feel each planet’s influence—in fact, I could feel it continuing to build throughout the day, particularly as the First Hour of Day passed from the Eastern time zone into Centeral, and as the Third Hour of Night came around. It was at this point that I found the discussion group on facebook to be particularly helpful, as others were able to point out technical differences between Phase I and II that I had not been able to perceive, and to confirm that I was not alone in this particular manifestation of effects They also reminded me that, within the Hermetic frame, the planetary powers are not so much places or forces (as I usually concieve them) but refracted lights emanating from God. RO, in particular, suggested that I take some time to look inward at the changes going on within my sphere; doing so revealed that, by Thursday evening, I had tapped into far more planetary power than I had realized.

Saturday, though, I went over the cliff. My final ritual left me filled with black light and white light. I bumped up against the edge of something, the limit of Saturn, and when I came back to my body full of that bi-colored light, I saw a six-winged figure looming over the current. Things have been quiet on the board and in those corners of the blogosphere since the project finished, and I think that whatever I caught a glimpse of (Iophiel?) might have borked some brains that got a better look.

As usual, I had performed my rites at the First Hour. Within a few hours, my head started to hurt. I thought it was psychic feedback from lunch on campus: things were a little strange over the weekend in the wake of a tragic accident involving several students. Come the Eighth Hour, though, the pain had escalated to the point where I could no longer function well enough to run the errands necessary for my birthday party. Fortunately, Aradia—in town for the party—was driving and able to get me home, where I promptly collapsed into bed with a full-blown migraine headache.

Ninety minutes later, I felt up to taking some painkillers, and was finally coherent enough to put two and two together: the psychic weather—no matter how nasty a college campus can be—was not enough to lay me out like that. It was Saturn that had pushed me over the edge from “magicially manic” to “magical migraine”. Looking to my aura, I concluded that it was too densely packed: I separated out the planetary power—not wanting to ground it altogether—and pushed it out to the edges. That felt better, so I pushed the edges out further. The further I pushed, the better I felt. When my aura was bigger than campus and the surrounding college-owned student ghetto, the pain was finally manageable. It finally disappeared about the time I pushed out to the city limits. That sort of “coverage” is unsustainable, of course, but the pain did not return as my aura deflated over the course of the evening.

The final Saturn ritual brought with it a sense of finality. Whatever it is that my spirit friends wanted me to get out of daily planetary rites … I’ve gotten. I can now channel planetary power at will, just as I can elemental power, though I’m still struggling with the personal consequences of hot-and-cold-running-Venus (just as a for instance), and half a week later, I’m still struggling to maintain my aura at a reasonable level. There have been no new migraines, but my energy level has been up and down like an EKG and requires too-frequent “maintenance”.

Clearly I had some unfinished business with the planetary powers that I began working with during the ceremonial experiment. That’s been fixed: I have now received my first initiation in the seven Planetary Powers, complete with dissolution, crippling agony, and even some ἱερῳ ἀναμιγνομενος. And I’ve also just been handed a brutal reminder of what happens when I let my magical practice get too high-octane.

So I’m taking a short hiatus from magic: doing just enough to keep from setting off the cold-turkey migraine. My Dark Moon rites have so far been minimal. I’m going to get back into more “pure” Chaos Magic pretty soon here, but I am definitely not fucking around with any more Hermetics until Mercury goes direct again.

But, before I fall further down the NaNoWriMo rabbit hole for a few days, I want to thank Rufus Opus and everyone in the Seven Spheres In Seven Days working group for the opportunity and the camaraderie. It was a mad ride, y’all, and I’m glad I didn’t do it alone. I know that I would have gotten even more out of it if I could afford RO’s Gates Rites (and I am not for a moment questioning that the years of practice that went into developing those rituals is worth $12 a pop: I just don’t have the scratch), or if I were capable of believing in the Ptolmaic/Hermetic cosmology as the Truth, not just aTruth. In the end, though, I got enough: initiated into Hermetics with a Solar immolation and Saturnian icepick to the brainpan.

SEMPER LVX

φως ἀθανατος

Τιερεσιας Σατυρος ὁ Μαγος

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