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Dark Moon Work 1/3: Rebuilding My Altar (Also NY/NY: Sacred Space)

I haven’t lived in Indiana for very long.  I don’t really have any sacred spaces out here, and while I’m animist/pantheist enough that (in theory) all space is sacred space, the weather lately has sucked so bad that—between the rain, the sleet, and the more rain—going outside just hasn’t been conducive to mediating I any might have wanted to do.  So, for practical purposes, the sacred pace I have available to me is my home: the temple I’ve been building and refining since I arrived in August.

The Sunrise Temple has been in good condition ever since I got back from KC: I’ve been cleaning house and cleansing at least once a week.  But the altar had gotten cluttered with all the work I was doing in preparation of first driving back to Kansas City, then the work I was doing when I first came back to produce my Learn Greek talismans (the first one when I posted about the, then the second and third [one for my altar, one for my bag] a week later when my backpack ate the first).

Fortunately, I had a Dark Moon to work with this weekend.  And I had a lot of work I wanted to do.  Saturday night had four things on the slate: trying out Lon Milo DuQuette’s banishing/invocation; cleansing the house; blessing my Dark Moon water; and rebuilding my altar.

Being uncertain how the DuQuette I actually started with the house-cleansing: cleaning up my mess, sweeping the floors (I really want a fancy besom like they sell at the Renaisance Faire), and smudging everything.  I really need to do continue doing this no less than once a week.  I get scattered when I don’t.

Following that, I did a little preparatory divination.  I’ve never done any of DuQuette’s work before, and the ritual blew Aradia’s mind,  so it seemed prudent.IMG_5024All the “present” information looked really good, I always love to see a 10S on the way out, and 6S and The Devil seemed like a workable outcome.  So I went for it: putting on a random mix of ancient Greek music I stole from the internet and Holst’s Planet Suite, I was ready to get started.

For those who haven’t read DuQuette’s Low Magick, it’s an Inner Working (visualization exercise) and Aradia sums it up pretty well.  But neither Ganesha nor Kwan Yin are quite my style.  After a week or so of contemplation since finishing the book, I came to the conclusion that Ἔρος was the god for me.  And boyhowdy, was s/he.

I disn’t get the sort of transcendental brain-borking Aradia did, but damn did I get high.  Just as I was finishing, the music switched from soft, soothing, and ancient to Holst’s Jupiter: the Bringer of Jollity, and I was ready to work.

Behold, my beautiful new altar:IMG_5025

Taller, cleaner, with room for more idols,and with places to store my active projects—particularly the collection of seals and tokens representing the friends who’ve graciously allowed me to include them in my ascendancy/prosperity work.  I’m still in the process of fine-tuning the arrangement, of course, but I’m very pleased so far.

I finished everything up by feeding my gods and allies, and preparing my house-wards for the following evenings bigger, better, and potentially explosive experiment.

Next up: Dark Moon 2/3: the Stele of Jeu.

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O, Look! A Controversy Re-Emerges!

Apparently, the occult corners of the internet have recently exploded in controversy.  Mostly in corners I don’t frequent, actually, although a few of my favorite bloggers have added their two cents (Jason and RO both link to the broader controversy, and also provide a little bit of context).  I avoided the “physical” manifestation of spirits brouhaha on account of I haven’t ever done any conjuration and therefore had nothing to contribute (though I hear that didn’t stop everyone).  Besides, it’s an old controversy among those who enjoy talking about the theory of magic as much as they enjoy actually doing it.  To my warped mind that gives me leave to comment on the matter of “it’s all in your head”.

Interestingly, it’s a subject that’s been on my mind. I have, after all, just finished Lon Milo Duquette’s latest book, in which he advocates the vary theory under debate (which apparently I haven’t gotten around to reviewing; I’ll have to fix that as soon as Sannafrid gives it back).  The general direction of my thoughts on this matter can be inferred from an old post of mine.  At the time I was speaking of the particular tendency of some Wiccans and New Agers to gloss over the distinctions between cultures and divinities in favor of their own, alternate, fluffy-bunny reality, but the same arguments apply.

Aalways, though, it’s more nuanced than that.  Fr. SEA discusses DuQuette’s example of the love spell, which doesn’t make someone love you so much as it makes you into the person your beloved will love back.  In the case of the particular example, it makes a great deal of sense.  What’s left out of the resulting discussion is how explicitly solipsistic DuQuette’s worldview is: at the end of Low Magick he explicitly states that he’s not entirely certain there is a world outside himself (quote and citation to come when I get the book back in my hands).  It’s also meant to be humorous, because Lon Milo DuQuette is a funny, funny guy.

Let’s not forget that Chaos Magick maxim (where did it come from, anyway?): “It’s all in your head, except when it isn’t.”  Magic generally takes the path of least resistance in order to get things done.  How often have we been admonished to be careful not to kill Grandma for the inheritance with a poorly-targeted money spell?  As Gordon so eloquently pointed out: “Magic has an extremely frustrating ability to give you your desired results in the least convenient way possible.”  What, by and large, is the least convenient and most energy-efficient way to make change happen?  Cramming your own damn square peg into that proverbial round hole, that’s what.

Now, my own take on this is necessarily skewed.  Although I have practiced magic for fifteen years, I spent the first decade devoted almost exclusively to pulling my head out of my own ass, getting it screwed on in the proper direction (forward-facing, but never, ever “straight”  ;p ), and clearing out the cob-webs.  It’s only in the last four or five years that I’ve escalated my outward-focused magic from the web of influence that puts me in the right place at the right time into actually manifesting changes in the world around me.  And while that’s been working out for me pretty damn well and very concretely so far, my experience definitely bears out Gordon’s addendum to that above maxim.

All that said, Jason’s take on this is very compelling: that some of the larger entities we deal with cut cross-ways through our measly, mortal, three-or-four dimensional understanding of reality, that they are both within us and without us.  That fits in perfectly with my understanding of a spiritual reality which is at the very least equally complex as the material reality, and probably more so by orders of magnitude.  So, too, RO’s argument that the distinctions of “within” and “without” are matters of perspective which the clever magician will use as best suits their means and ends.

Still, I remain skeptical of the idea of a “top-down” construction of reality, whether it figures the magician or some Absolute Divinity at the “top”.  That Neo-Platonic paradigm and all its children are too simplistic for me, intellectually, and fly in the face of the rational conclusions I have drawn based on my own personal experiences.

Finally, however, I wish to make clear: my conclusions and beliefs are inevitably founded on just that: my own research and personal experiences.  All of the stances I have seen so far are well considered and, I assume, similarly founded on years of research and experimentation.  Which, if we assume that everyone is operating and arguing in good faith (and I do), only goes to prove that the universe is bigger and more complex than any of our puny, mortal, meat-brains can comprehend.

Love and light, folks.  The blessings of your favorite gods on each and every one of you.

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Source Review: the Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford, by Lon Milo DuQuette

Ever since Aradia gifted my with my own personal copy of Crowley’s Thoth deck – skillfully hunted down in the dark corners of the internet, no more than eight weeks before it was once more available in print – I have been using DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot in conjunction with Hajo Banzhaf’s Keywords.  As such, I already had some inclination that Duquette was both a brilliant magician and a hilariously funny man.  When I went looking for the Chicken Qabalah, I was not actually aware that DuQuette was the author.  I was simply looking for double-0-duh book on Qabalah, so that I might have better luck understanding the paradigms of mainline Western occultists, and the Chicken Qabalah had been recommended to me by numerous sources, but without attribution.  When I found my copy, I was delighted to see that it was by an author I had already come to respect.

As the title implies, The Chicken Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante’s Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist  is humorous exploration of Qabalistic thought through the medium of a pseudepigraphy, wherein he attributes his absurd framing of Qabalistic ideas to the clearly-mad (and utterly fictional) Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford – as well as a number of opinions he might have difficulty expressing in another mode.

The book is written in ten chapters, covering numerous core concepts of Qabalah as relevant to a magician.  Several of the most abstract doctrines are distilled into Ten “Command-Rants”.  The four worlds and four parts of the soul are explained through the mechanism of a screenplay.  The Hebrew alphabet is covered as concisely as possible.  The structure of the Sephiroth within the Tree of Life is laid out crudely.  Tarot correspondences and numerology are discussed, and the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel is introduced.  Finally, the book concludes with the introduction of a Qabalistic Mystery.

The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford was exactly what I needed it to be: not so much an introduction to Qabalistic magic, but rather a foundation in Qabalistic thought to prepare me for an introduction to Qabalistic magic.  DuQuette’s warped humor is a highly effective teaching tool – making the material more interesting for the casual student, and more memorable to any reader.  I highly recommend this book.


DuQuette, Lon Milo. The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante’s Guide to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist. San Francisco: Weiser, 2001. Print.

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