Tag Archives: penczak’s high temple

Hod Altar—or, Seething on the Bench

I disassembled my Yesod Altar last night and built up an altar representing the powers of Mercury in Hod.  This, of course, is a part of my ongoing studies in Western Ceremonialism.

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I chose last night to do it, in part, because I wanted to upgrade the talisman I’ve been using to help with my studies in Ancient Greek.

Then I remembered (again) that Mercury is still retrograde, and that not only is any magic a bad idea, but that Mercurial magic specifically directed at communication was an exceptionally bad idea.

The results from my last experiment were less than ideal.   To say I haven’t slept right since would be an exaggeration, and imply a causal connection that is probably better attributed to a combination of  school-stress and the manic side of SAD exacerbated by unseasonable weather.  In this wake of this, a friend pointed out that perhaps Mercury Retrograde and the Vernal Equinox (the former in general and the combination in particular) were not the best time to be fucking with shit if I didn’t want to break my brain (again).  I decided he was right, and have pretty much set aside all my experiments in favor of some basic aura maintenance and Yoga.  This is probably the best decision I could make, because I really do feel a lot better after another rest.

But I’m starting to get antsy.  That’s, again, at least party the unseasonable weather and the inevitable energy burst of spring.  But I’m hot to get back into the magic.  This isn’t βούλομαι—a rational wish or desire.  This is ἐπιθυμεω (longing desire) bordering on ἐραω (love+lust).

I have always been drawn to magic; the more I do it, the more I lust after it.

I cant wait for Mercury to turn direct so I can get back to work.

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Further Explorations in Planetary Magicks: a Prelude

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.

And somewhere along the line, I’m going to get over my strange idea that it’s somehow cheating, win the Favor of Kings and learn to fight dirty.

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Ceremonial Studies: Refining My Intent

When I set myself to the study of the Western Ceremonial tradition it was largely an intellectual exercise.  Yes, I expected to be a more competent and powerful witch/magician by the end of it, but I’d already learned the rudiments of sigils from Chaos magic (which I had largely understood as a subset of the ceremonial tradition, though I now know better) and I didn’t imagine that there would be much that would actually stick with me after the experiments were done.  After five months of study, I have come to understand just how little of what I thought I knew about the ceremonial tradition has any basis in reality.  Conversely, I have found that my chief concern was fairly well founded: I am fundamentally incompatible with some of the powers it deals with, though not in the ways I had imagined.  I have also come to recognize what the ceremonial tradition has to offer me personally: access to planetary Powers.

Various manuals of witchcraft that I have read in the course of my life have come with huge tables of plants, rocks, scents, colors, and their planetary correspondences.  But the rationale of those correspondences has never really been explained, nor why the attributions and uses of those correspondences varies so radically from the mythologies and portfolios of the divinities for which the planets have been named.  My explorations of ceremonial magic have helped me to understand (for example) why it is that Mars, the planet, has so little to do with Mars, the Roman god of war and the citizen-soldier.

More interestingly, particularly from my perspective as a visionary/shamanic witch looking to delve into that most forbidden of arts known as the evocation of spirits, I have learned of the multitudinous hosts and legions of spirits who make up those planetary Powers.  Even if, having acquired some skill at conjuration, I decide that it’s not for me, the names and sigils—phone numbers, as Frater Acher describes them (and I need that book)—will still be useful in seeking out contacts by other means.

Despite my best intentions, I am still having difficulty translating my theoretical studies into actual praxis.  This is partly a matter of trying to convert certain patterns into ones I understand, partly a matter of struggling to overcome inertia after having fallen off the horse (so to speak) of daily practice.

I want to begin seeking that thing known as “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel” (or, you know, something along those lines, since I don’t quite buy the “guardian angel” part), but I have not yet settled on a particular ritual to that end.  The Stele of Jeu?  The Bornless Rite?  Liber Samekh?  (Sure, they’re all variations on the same tune, but I still need to choose one.)  Or some other ritual I haven’t found yet, aimed at the same goal?  Right now I’m leaning heavily toward the Stele of Jeu.  Very heavily.

When I resume pursing the planetary forces themselves, do I continue with the quasi-Golden Dawn route of Penczak’s High Temple?  Do I buy RO’s Gate Rites (I’ve been tempted for a while)?  Do I go whole-hog and dig into Abremelin?  Frustratingly, a lot of these questions would be a lot easier if I were Christian, or at very least if I weren’t energetically incompatible with the Archangels.  I really need to get my hands on a copy of the PGM—both translated and not.

I’ll say this much, though: by the time I’m done, there will be a neo-Pagan grimoire for sale somewhere.  I can’t be the only one struggling with some of these issues.  And maybe, as I continue, I’ll find that someone else has already done this.  Maybe I can use their work, maybe I can build on it, and maybe I’ll blow them out of the water.  There’s only one way to find out.

A research paper is no stronger than its thesis.  Until now, I had been doing no more and no less than preliminary exploration.  Now I have more specific aims—my theses, to continue the metaphor:  to get in touch with the Planetary forces, Powers, “elementals” (for lack of a better word) and spirits; to craft rites which fit within a neo-Pagan conceptual framework; and to make those experiments available to the public.

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The Lesser Banishing Ritual of Not Paying Enough Attention to Your Patrons

This morning began with my second performance of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. The performance was less smooth, somehow, than yesterday’s – I kept almost forgetting small steps, like the Sign of Silence or the line connecting one completed pentagram to the one I was about to start – but no less effective. Actually more so, as I could feel the Archangels start to respond.

More to the point, I could feel the gods on my altar start to get jealous. They want daily attention, too. 

Which is in no way an unreasonable request.

I apologized to them when I was done, did my daily tarot at the altar, and lit them a stick of incense because that was the best sacrifice I had on hand.  And now I have an interesting dilema on my hands: how to perform daily devotionals to gods who haven’t quite gotten around to telling me what they want from me.

Now, this problem does not come entirely from the realms of things unforseen.  As a modern neoPagan, I had some concerns about invoking the Archangels of the God of Abraham in front of the same altar where I worship Dionysos, Hephaistos, Raea, and the Nameless; more to the point, as someone who’s been shit on by the world made by the worshipers of the God of Abraham, I have some strange reluctance and insecurities related to anything that might smack of that worship, and a closeted fear that my gods might not be able to help me if I piss that one off and he decides to shit on me.  Now, as Jack Faust rightly points out – albeit in a somewhat problematic attack on Star Foster, but what can you really say to someone who admits outright to being a condescending ass? – my paleoPagan predecessors didn’t see things that way.

My gods don’t give a flying fuck that I’m invoking Archangels, per se.  They couldn’t have cared less about the last month I spent daily performing the Quabalistic Cross, except perhaps liking that it made my offerings extra tasty/potent.  They also don’t care that, once I’ve gotten a handle on what I’m supposed to be doing, I might well replace those Archangels with them. 

They care that I invoked four Archangels into the Sunrise Temple two mornings in a row, and didn’t make them offerings of equal or greater value.  Which, again, is totally fair.

The problem lies in that the (neo)Pagan sources I have the easiest access to are lazy hippies who seem to see daily devotion as patriarchal oppression.  Unfortunately, I’m way too early in my studies of the Classics to have much knowledge of what ancient cultus practice entailed (not that I have any intention of reproducing it, but it’s damn good place to look for inspiration).  Now, I can – and will – turn to my copy of the Homeric Hymns and see what clues those can provide me.  I can – and, again, will – make underworld journeys to see if they’ll actually tell me what they’d like.  Until those tactics pan out, however, I’m stuck with good, old fashioned, incesne-and-candles-and-prayer ass-kissing.

So mote it be.  @_@

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Approaching the Garden

As of today, I have completed the first month of my year dedicated to the study of ceremonial magic.  For thirty-one days now, I have performed the Qabalistic Cross upon waking and before working any other magic (well, except that one day I overslept and had to come back home to do it at noon; rough morning, that).  I have performed Penczak’s Ascending the Spheres meditation a half-dozen times over the course of the last week, have prepared space in my Inner Temple, and have built my altar of Malkuth. 

After a month of performing the Qabalistic Cross, often more than once in a day, I have mastered it to the degree that I can perform it’s invocation silently – tuning to each of the arms of the Q-Cross the same way I tune to the Elements when I cast my circles.  It has made some lasting changes to my aura, not all of which I yet fully understand, but so far they seem all to the better.  The ritual has helped me keep my course as the time my coursework demands and the toll of my seasonal allergies tear away at the hours of sleep available in any given night.  At a school that strongly encourages people to overcommit themselves, to give more than they have, it is helping me maintain my proper position at the center of my own universe.

There is still a great deal to learn from the ritual, of course, and I will try further variants and modifications as the months pass.  But I am ready to move on.

I am ready to immerse myself in Malkuth – the Kingdom, or the Garden as Pecnzak also calls it, though I wonder at that translation.  I have familiarized myself with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram as much as one can without actually performing it.  I will perform it daily at least for the full month, probably for the rest of the year.  I will perform it in its full and original glory, Archangels and all, for at least a week before experimenting with the common Wiccan variant.  I have a quart of Full Moon water left after starting my mead, and look forward to using that to make Holy Water.  I may also use up the rest of my Dark Moon water for a different batch – I wonder if it will turn out different.  I look forward to exploring the Elemental Realms of Earth as a part of this process, and exploring a new paradigm of the elements.

I approach Malkuth at dawn.  So mote it be.

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Q-Crossed

As a part of my burgeoning studies in ceremonial magic, I have now performed the Qabalistic Cross ritual every morning for the last three days.  I can already feel it making changes to my aura: my crown chakra is rising, my root is descending, and the two stars at my shoulders are becoming semi-permanent fixtures.  I had not anticipated these precise changes, but they seem to confirm a theory of mine: I don’t believe that the human aura has pre-configured centers of power.  I think that those nexi and meridians are formed as mystics, witches, and magicians work magic – particularly the internal kind.

When I was taking Aikido in high school, and first establishing my magical practice, I read a great deal about chakras, but the only ones I could actually feel were my Third Eye, my One Point – very important to Aikido practice, to the exclusion of all others – and my Root.  Of them all, though, only my Third Eye was where I expected it to be.  My One Point and Root were both low.  The One Point only a little bit, too close to my genitals; but my Root seemed to hover somewhere below my feet unless I sat cross-legged. 

It was only after years (and years, and years) of pointed practice that I could detect the others, and they always faded quickly when my practice lapsed.  I can still feel them in my aura now, of course: although my practice has not been as regular as I might like, lately, I’m still very near the top of my game.  But as I begin this very different regimen of ritual and meditation, I can alread feel them mutating.

Which leads me to wonder (more.  Again.) what the purpose of the Qabalistic Cross ritual is.  The resources I can find that talk about the why suggest that it is primarily about centering, both in the sense of ground-and-center and in the larger sense of realizing one’s position as the center of one’s own universe (the King of the Kingdom Malkuth, the Keeper of the Garden).  But it seems to me that it’s doing more than that. 

Is it to begin making the changes to the aura that will be furthered by the Circulation of the Body of Light, the LBRP, and all the rest?  is it, as Rufus Opus has suggested of the LBRP, to “season” one appropriately to be devoured by the Secret Chiefs?  The answer, I suppose, is the same as always: more research, and more practice, are required.

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Belated Forays into Ceremonial Magick

I have always been simultaneously fascinated with and repulsed by ceremonial magic.  Fascinated with the elaborate props and ritual, with the finely tuned cosmology and infinite resources, and with the endless influence it has held over Western magical tradition.  Repulsed by the fundamentally Abrahamic roots, the seeming rigidity of rank and practice, and the endless hours of formal, repetitive work.

As a witch, my magical practice owes a great deal to ceremonial magic: Gerald Gardner based his infamous Book of Shadows on the rites of the Freemasons and the Golden Dawn, steeped in pastoralist poetry and (presumably) tempered by his own visionary experiences.  Many British Traditional rites (or so I am assured the scholar Ronald Hutton and by those who are willing to push the boundaries of their oaths to one group or the other) are nearly indistinguishable from those of the Golden Dawn, and many of those in turn mimic Masonic rites.

Even before I began studying Wiccan ritual as such, my first magical work was a variant of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  That ritual – the bastardized one, found in some forum or FTP server; not the true LBRP – remains fundamental to my magical practice.

I have owned many book son ceremonial magic over the years.  Eliphas Levi’s Doctrine and Ritual of Transcendental Magic was my second occult book purchase, after the Simon Necronomicon (I was sixteen years old.  I didn’t know any better.).  I own Barret’s The Magus and Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magic.  I have owned and lost or sold a half-dozen other books on the subject over the years.  Most of them I never got around to reading, let alone doing.

My actual forays into ceremonialism began, interestingly, with Chaos Magic – borrowing Phill Hine’s Condensed Chaos from Chirotus Infinitum).  I have recently finished reading the much-lauded Chicken Qabalah of Lon Milo DuQuette, supplemented in interesting ways by Dion Fortune’s Sea Priestess and Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild.  Now, I continue with this much-belated portion of my magical training with a … somewhat less respectable source: Christopher Penczak’s Temple of High Witchcraft.  I will be supplementing this with Kraig, Barret, and Levi , of course, and with several blogs recommended to me by my friend Sthenno – observant readers will have noted the addition of several blogs to my reading list over the last few moths; Head For the Red, Rune Soup, Conjure Gnosis, and My Occult Circle are among her recommendations.

Frankly, If I’d realized that ceremonial magic involved so much visionary work, I’d have probably tried it years ago.

Because it is such a cerebral form of magic, I am reading the books ahead of time and will begin Penczak’s exercises on the 15th of August – as I begin settling into my new apartment in Far Eastern Indiana and wait for the Fall semester to begin.  I will journal rigorously, and will hopefully have many elucidating experiences to write about here.

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