Tag Archives: planetary magic

Working Jupiter I

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Aradia and I built our Jupiter altar just short of a week ago.  Since then, we have done relatively little Jupiterian magic — a couple Orphic Hymns, participating in the Magical Working Against the False Kings, a bit of dream incubation — but the changes in our lives have already been remarkable.

The very minute we established the altar, the feel of the whole house changed.  The … wan malaise that had permeated everything was replaced with a vigorous readiness.  We rose at dawn the next day to perform our rites at the Dawn hour of Jupiter, something we had not done since the very beginning of the Solar work.

Since then, we have both been filled with ambition — and, more importantly, motivation.  I can’t even begin to get into how much we’ve gotten done in the last week.  It has been so, so easy to find the time and energy to do things.  I’m not falling asleep on my commute any more.

Even better, for the first time since I came back to Kansas City from the Sunrise Temple, I have felt that old magician’s charisma again.  The way people have been responding to me … again, it is beyond words.

Jupiter and witchcraft, it seems, go together far better than I would ever have imagined.

Things are going to get exciting as we start escalating.

 

 

 

 

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The Sun versus Depression

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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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Solar Altar

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The Solar Altar as it currently stands after the first two weeks of the planetary witchcraft experiment.

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Orphic Hymns to the Sun: Translations in Action

A great deal of the current work being done with planetary magic right now relies heavily on the use of the Orphic Hymns, chiefly the 18th century translations by Thomas Taylor.  Long-time readers may recall that I am uncomfortable with those translations, and have argued that the more recent and more accurate translations of Apostolos Athanassakis be used instead.  It was not only inevitable, then, but entirely by design that my first week of conjurations put these two translations back-to-back to see what differences might be discerned in their efficacy.

For those magicians who are not also ancient language geeks (how have I not bored you to death?), the gist of it is that the Ancient Greek in which the Orphic Hymns were composed was written in meter rather than rhyme, and hammering the verses into a simple English rhyme-scheme takes some serious torture.  Also, archaeology is amazing, and we know more about the languages of Hellenistic Greece today than Taylor did, so some of his mistakes may be rooted in bad dictionaries.  Some magicians, equally if not more geeky and educated as I, believe that the Taylor translations work better magically for all sorts of reasons, but I ride this hobby horse to hell, regardless.

Taylor’s rhyming cant does, I must concede, a certain something for the brain of the English speaking magician.  We have this whole thing with magic and rhyme, and any good Chaos magician knows how valuable it is to tap into that sort of unconscious power source.  Moveover, between their ready (and free) availability, and the work of Rufus Opus (among others), the Taylor translations of the Hymns are explicitly tied to the planetary rites of the modern Western magical tradition.  All this goes to say that when I used the Thomas Taylor translation of the Hymn to the Sun, by itself, as a part of RO’s Seven Spheres rite, and as a part of conjurations of my own design, I already knew something of what to expect.

The warmth of the Sun responds readily to the hymn, and one may ride that way direct to the planetary current, and the Archangel Michael or the Titan god Helios respond equally readily to accept the offerings laid out before them.

The translations of Apostolos Athanassakis are aimed at the casual enthusiast as much as the professional Classicist, so they are not as sharp-edged as some might fear — the pages are unmarred by indications of broken text in the original, or annotation regarding the academic infighting of one translation versus another.  Moreover, in the particular case of the Hymn to Helios, the differences between the two translations are much less stark and more stylistical than other Orphic Hymns.

The Sun that responded to Aradia and I when we called by this hymn, both by itself and as a part of the Seven Spheres rite, was startlingly different from that which answered to the Taylor translation.  It was tarnished, or perhaps brazen rather than gold.  It was older, more aloof, more … Titanic.  Aradia described the experience as having used a back door to the sun.

It was the Athanassakis translation of the Orphic Hymn to Helios, substituted for Taylor in the Seven Spheres rite, which produced my most vivid experience of the experiment so far: the sensation of having ascended to an old, cooling, and abandoned region of the Sun, and of being observed by a vast red-gold eye, the size of a planet, staring widely at my from within an almost understandably vast head.

 

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Gearing Up To Lick the Socket Again

I am a terrible Chaos magician.

I mean, I make really, really pretty sigils.  (That whole “life dedicated to art” thing.)  And I think I get better-than-average results from them —  as much as one can say so without comparing notes on a level that very few of us are able to keep, let alone willing to show them off.  My one and only servitor has been … odd, but effective, and has been protecting my home for nearly three years running.

But I am terrible at code-switching.  When I dig into a paradigm, I can’t help but let it get under my skin.  As I do more and more of the magic, it sinks into my bones.  I can’t put it back down just like that. Continue reading

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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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Failure to Bind

More than a year ago I wrote a somewhat theoretical post about applied feminist ethics in witchcraft.  It was, of course, not all that theoretical.  Someone that I had, until that point, considered a friend had stalked anohter friend of mine home from a party and violated zir personal space in a few ways.  The creeped-on friend, however, did not want a scene made, which prevented me from summarily barring the creeper from my social circle.  What I could and did do, however, was attempt to bind the creeper from further infringing on my friend’s boundaries.

I drew a sigil, called upon my familiar spirits and the spirits of Saturn and Venus, and arranged for the person in question to drink a series of toasts that had been poured over the sigil.  A couple other people from the social circle were there as well, which was not strictly ethical, but seemed … necessary and appropriate, and it was what my Genius and Daemon had led me to do.

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My binding worked, in one sense.  To the best of my knowledge, the creeper in question never infringed upon my friend again.  In another sense, it failed utterly.  Zie went on, instead, to assault someone else.  In full view of one of the others who had been present at the binding toast, actually, which is … interesting.

Divination indicated that I should not, at that point, escalate: that all would be taken care of behind the curtain.  And by divination, I mean my tarot cards and the VERY LOUD YELLING of the very many spirits who at that point were hanging about my temple.

Doubt lingers, of course, to this very day.  What could and should I have done differently?  I was constrained in mundane action in both the initial instance and the subsequent by the wishes of the victims.  How could I stand by and NOT smite zir into the dark depths of the earth–except that it was made very clear to me that further attempts at intervention would only go awry?

I’m not even certain why I’m telling this story except, in a new life in a new Temple, it’s past time to burn the original sigil, but I wanted archival evidence of the results.And in the hopes that someone reading this has productive thoughts on how such a situation could be handled better in the future.  Because neo-Pagan sexual mores often make a highly effective smokescreen for mainstream rape culture, and there will be a next time.

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Gandalf Style?

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Dramatic lighting is my friend.

Last week’s Sexy Pagan Friday offering is as good a place as ever to start off a little rambling about what has probably been my most significant magical practice since returning to KCMO.

Most of my effort, magical and otherwise, has been devoted toward settling in: to establishing my space, and to being in the right place at the right time.  Notice all the green in that photo: my hat, my scarf, my pocket handkerchief, the shirt you really can’t see because I got super dramatic with the lighting, and even my fucking socks are green.  Zip back through my last few spf posts, and you’ll find a shit ton of green in them, too.

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Saturdays I dress in black. The purple tie is usually for Mondays, but I was just feeling extra fabulous last week.

Taking a cue from Aradia, who did this diligently before she quit her office job back in June, I’ve been incorporating planetary colors into my clothing as much as possible.  (Wednesday is a fucking challenge: I look absurd in orange, which basically leaves me shit out of luck.)  It’s a simple, mindful thing, rather than an act of overt magic, but it’s something.  (Mondays are my favorite because purple.)

This also goes back to something I’ve touched on before: crafting a new image for myself as I become too old–and too committed to “professional” life–to let my freak flag fly full time.  Since then I’ve learned that I receive very different from both the mallgoers who patronize my jewelry store and the coworkers who’ve known me for six fucking years now when I wear a tie and nice shoes.  Simply put, they take me more seriously.   (This, of course, should come as a surprise to no one.)

And, I will say, it sure helps that men’s fashion has gone in some pretty awesome directions since I made this decision.  Vests are seriously back in style.  Colors and patterns are vibrant and fun.  And pocket squares!

It’s difficult to gauge the efficacy of general prosperity magic–yeah, I’m doing pretty alright, but I’m also busting my ass–but judging by the ways in which I do seem, increasingly, to be in the right place at the right time, I believe that I can call the experiment, at worst, a moderate success.  The things I want to buy are on sale and in my size, I sit down at the right table to meet close friends of the hosts of open events, people respond to my messages on OKC, the art store has a shipment of the strange craft supplies I’m after in the deep discount corner of the basement.

I want to escalate this shit.  I bet I can make a talisman out of a tie or a pocket square.  Can you enchant a suit?  I’ll fucking find out!  (And you can’t tell me no one has never tried.  The question is, did they blog about it?)

John Fucking Constantine

Solid character. Not a role model.

But it kinda fucks with my head.  I mean, yes, these are magical successes, in a sense, and I am having a good time with it.  But it’s all so fucking butch.  I no longer fit my own image of a witch, or even a wizard or a sorcerer.  I mean, there’s some precedent for a magician playing the straight man… but being a magician did some fucked up shit to my head: Aradia was preparing to stage an intervention.

The realistic solution is probably to get better at code switching: taking off the work costumes as soon as I get home and putting on clothes that are more in line with my self-image; finding times and places where those clothes are more appropriate.

And keep doing magic.

Always do more magic.

 

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Orphic Hymns: Taylor vs. Athanassakis

English: Orpheus

English: Orpheus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Classicist Apostolos Athanassakis recently released a new edition of his English translations of the Orphic hymns—previously released in the 1970s and, to the best of my ability to determine, the first new translation since Thomas Taylor’s in 1792.  I’ve been going over the hymns and notes for the last month, and using the hymns in my rituals for the last two weeks.  I must admit, that I’ve been rather surprised by the results.

Firstly, the Athanassakis translation is every bit as different from the Taylor as I would have imagined: no anachronistic rhyming couplets, no 18th century euphemisms or evasions, no substitutions of Roman names for Greek.  Because Classical scholarship has come a long way in the last two hundred years, I do not hesitate to assert that the translations are more accurate for reasons other than the brutal mangling needed to turn Koine iambic hexameter into English rhyming couplets.  And, to my delight, my own translation of the Hymn to Phanes ends up looking pretty solid.

For worship of the Hellenic gods, the new translation is by far superior: epithets are better preserved, and Athanassakis pointedly maintained what he felt to be the religious feel of the texts.  Dionysus, Phanes/Eros, Hermes, and Aphrodite have all responded well in my private rites.

For in/evocation of the Planetary powers, however, and to my extreme surprise, I have found the Taylor translations to yield much better results.  This is partly because, however I may despise them aesthetically, rhyming couplets make great magic.  This may also be partly because the Taylor translations have been so thoroughly incorporated into the Hermetic tradition, and thus provide better access to that magical current.  Further, the actual textual differences between the texts(coincidentally or otherwise) align the Taylor translation more closely with the Planetary powers than with the divine mythology.

Thus, while I must strongly advocate that any Hellenic-flavored neo-Pagan invest in the Athanassakis translation, as well as anyone with a scholarly interest in the hymns, ceremonial magicians have no need to do so.

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