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I’m Still Not Certain Enough of What Happened To Come Up With Pithy Header

Way back at the beginning of the semester, I wrote of having picked up some sort of psychic parasites which absurdly difficult to get rid of.  On the advice of Veriditas Dreams, I put off my servitor experiment for another two weeks while I focused on getting my astral body patched up.  I’m glad I did, because things only got more interesting.

The first night of the Full Moon, I started with wine divination.  Interestingly, it pointed to a combination of internal and external factors: internally, matters of balance and power; externally, one Prince of Disks.  I prepared and cast my circle using my newest Circle-casting variant which anchors an Witch’s elemental Circle to the circle of salt I have been using for a bit, now.  Then I performed the Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist[1] and burned the little black worms from my astral body and my temple space with the brilliant and (in my experience) unique power of the Heart Encircled By A Serpent.  It is, I am almost certain, the first time that I have actually managed to use up every drop of power raised by that ancient and magnificent rite.

The second night of the Full Moon I performed the Stele of Jeu a second time.  I went for just a little more elaboration and experimentation.  I started with a simple banishing and suffumigation.  Then I tore space, as described in the Sorcerer’s Secrets[2], performed by Titan’s Cross and Pentagram Rite, and finally the Stele, itself.  Where the first night’s rite had burned away the infection, this one went a long way to healing the wound, separating the psychic “scab” from my physical back and helping restore the energy lost to the ordeal.

The third night of the Full Moon, as I prepared to begin my rites, I changed tactics.  Drawing a crude image of myself and writing my legal and magical names on the “poppet”, I drew a clean, healthy, and healed aura around myself and charged the image with power.  I literally have no words to describe the sensation of feedback that I experienced while working with that magical self-portrait.

With those rites completed, I went about my life for a little while [3].  The itching and pulling sensations of the “scab” or “scar” on my astral body were … very, very strange.  Sometimes I wasn’t certain if I was healing, or getting re-infected.  Despite the fall-off in my practice between then and now, however, one of those strategies, or some combination thereof, seems to have done the trick.  I can still feel a bit of psychic “scar tissue”, sometimes: it stretches and pulls, particularly when I do small magics, but it is no longer an uncomfortable or unwell sensation.  At times it even seems to respond to the places where the Veil has been often parted (like, say, my Temple), much like worn joints responding to changes in barometric pressure.

These things being the way they are, I’ll never be quite certain where the infection came from.  To the best of my ability to determine, however, it was not so much a direct attack as … symptomatic of a certain point of chaos in my life back in Kansas City. 

I’ve spoken of my Web before: of the lines that connect the people and places in my life.  Over Winter Break, Aradia and I did some Work to try to help her neighbor out with her magical practice: she was (is) experiencing a sort of demonic possession[4], either causing or caused by a serious illness and by her abandoned magical practice.  I believe that this possession/infection spread into the house wards and, from them, along the lines of power to the Sunrise Temple and my astral body.

I never did manage to repair the damage done to the Temple Wards; they were supposed to be self-regenerating, but apparently that didn’t work the way it was supposed to.  With my familiar spirits in house, and having established that I was not, in fact, (also, because I lost my shit this semester) under attack, it never seemed a priority. 

Besides which, it was about time I replaced them, anyway.  Whish is pretty much the most interesting thing I’ve done all semester.


1 – Jack Faust has a handy copy up for reference.  He is also the first and only person I’ve seen provide any theory as to which “six names” (PGM V. 159) are meant and what “the formula” (PGM V.160) might be, and this was my first performance of the rite incorporating those additions.

2 – Jason Miller.  Sorcerer’s Secrets. p.42

3 – And then everything went to shit: I stopped writing, stopped my magical practice and barely maintained my devotionals, never made time to try the exercises which the magnificent Melitta Benu was kind enough to share in response to another old post, and have barely kept up with my fucking homework.  Which may or may not have been related to anything besides the amount of stress I’m under and the amount of sex I’m not having.

4 – For lack of a better word.  Unfortunately, the details are not mine to discuss in depth.

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Well, Then, Son … You’ve Got a Condition …

Back in the day, when I was fully-steeped in the energetic model of magic, aura work was how I began and ended any magic I did.  Hell, more than half the time—especially during the Basement Years, when getting a finger-hold on my sanity was the main object of my magic—it was the Work.  That started to slip during the Ceremonial Experiment: the banishing work had about the same effect, and the kinds of aura work I knew were actually counterproductive, as the ceremonial work was making some radical and positive changes to my aura.  It’s slipped further since starting on Project Null.  Actually, that’s a lie: since starting Project Null, the cognitive dissonance I’ve experienced between the various Wiccan schools I was originally trained in, the things I learned during the Ceremonial Experiment, and the Chaos Magick theories I’ve encountered on aura-work, basically amounted to a paradigmatic train wreck.  I mostly managed to hold things together through the end of Christmas Break.  But there’ve been some oddities.

The first oddity was a sort of psychic “sore” at the small of my back.  I first noticed it while doing some banishing work with Aradia toward the end of break.  As we cleaned it out, it felt like it was linked to my Root chakra.  I’m not bad at doing psychic/aura healing work on other people—I can even manage a certain amount of physical healing—but I’m shit at doing it for myself.  The angles are off, I guess.

Time passed, I came back to school, and the “sore” persisted, thought never as bad as it had been at first.  Until I went to do my first serious banishing work at January’s Full Moon, and discovered a …. giant, black, slimy lamprey-worm-thing attached to the wound in my aura.  Not really certain what it was or what to do, I pulled it off, threatened it, and threw it across town.  The “sore” finally closed up altogether, and I went on with my life.  I noted the whole episode, but never have been able to determine if the thing was an astral varmint, the work of one of the two psychic vampires I’ve crossed in the last six weeks, the product of my own Chaos Magick-induced delusions, or something else entirely.

Then, this last week, as I was recovering from a mundane illness I discovered a new “sore” on my aura.  This one lays about where my neck joins my back, but doesn’t seem to correspond with any of my energetic centers.  Squirming around in the psychic wound were a mass of writhing black worms in a sick column down to the original wound: miniature versions of the larger one I’d already thrown off.  Local spirits have proven ineffectual at helping me clean out the mess—on or two smaller spirits even appear to have been injured by the things—although the manifestation of That One God who dwells at the on-campus chapel was surprisingly willing and able to help dispose of the ones I could extract (it seems to have taken it rather personally that such vermin would move into its territory).

I’m hoping that tonight’s performance of the Stele of Jeu will fix the problem.  Barring that, that when I finally “create”* my guard-dog servitor tomorrow night, it will be able to deal with the problem (since that is what it’s going to be made for, after all).

In the mean time, has anyone else had an experience like this?  Any advice?

*I’m not entirely certain, given the way things have been leaning, that I’m actually going to end up creating a servitor so much as recruiting a local spirit for the task.  The distinction, however, is largely moot.

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Project Null is Going Off The Rails

It’s amazing how productive you can be while not sticking to the plan.  My formal daily practice has basically fallen apart in the last weeks, even as my various experiments have increased in breadth and depth.

I have been re-re-reading Liber Lux and am working on several write-ups therefrom.  I have almost finished Jason Miller’s Sorcerer’s Secrets and am in the process of incorporating some of his excellent suggestions into my practice.  Mr. Miller might be slightly annoyed to see him work included in my Chaos experiment—that’s not how he self-identifies—but, really, where is the line between innovative syncretism and Chaos Magick?

Meditation and Dreaming

As I mentioned above, my formal meditation and dream work have basically fallen apart.

Although I have not sat down to meditate deliberately in over a week, I have actually spent hours in trance.  Sitting outside in the cold one day, waiting for a friend, as a trance settled lazily over me for nearly thirty minutes.  I spent five hours at the loom the following day, not even half of which I can remember.  These meditations certainly don’t qualify as the concentrations Peter Carroll (and many other occultists like him) prescribe, but I refuse to concede that they don’t count.  I actually have a whole rant about this planned for the near future.

While my sleep schedule has been restored to the point where I no longer drug myself with chamomile and valerian at 10 o’clock every night, my ability to recall my dreams in the morning is spotty at best.  This is something I have always struggled with, and will probably continue to struggle with for years to come.  Most of my dreams, though—what little I can recall of them—have been clearly mundane: fragmentary remains of my bout with super-hero obsession a couple weeks ago, and my increasing state of holy-fuck-i-need-someone-to-sit-on-my-face.

Shielding

My shielding experiments continue, and I’m fine-tuning a protection talisman. At the suggestion of Chirotus Infinitum in the comments to my last shielding post, I attempted to use the image of a ladybug as shield. The visceral experience was indescribable. And it brought back a series of shape-shifting experiments from my high-school days that I’m in the middle of writing up, and will probably share after I have finished my write-up of Peter Carroll’s chapters on Evocation and Invocation, because they’re highly relevant.

Manifesting My Desires.

While none of last week’s sigils have quite manifested, my experience so far says to wait two weeks before getting antsy.  Also, those are socially complex endeavors, and while I haven’t actually found any new lovers, yet, the value of my social capital (to abuse a metaphor) seems to be rising.

I have another batch, this time aimed just at boosting my social situation, in the works to fire off this afternoon.

In the mean time, I have also been tinkering with my Web of Influence, again: drifting into a trance to tend the threads and make certain that things are moving down the pipeline (to deploy a cliché). Interestingly, though I had not yet consciously begun to incorporate my Web of Influence into my sigil work, I could see my manifesting sigils on the web as glittering lights.

Visionary Practice

I went on a pair of highly fruitful visionary journeys at the Dark and Full Moons that I still haven’t quite parsed.  In the first, I re-established contact with my my chief familiar spirits and discovered, as I had discovered when I was doing some of my work with Elemental Fire, that a portal to Chaos had opened in my Inner Temple.  I didn’t have the nerve to explore it the first night, but I did the second.  Beyond the door was a vast void: not the swirling mass of potentiality I had assumed the Chaos current would appear to me as, but the gaping void of Χαος.  I could barely sense an intelligence to it, it was so vast and alien, but it was definitely aware.

At first, there was nothing there that I could perceive, an I thought that I was walking through a black void like the astral fragment I use to access the Otherworlds.  Slowly, though, the vastness of the space in which I was moving began to dawn on me.  I began to perceive fling things moving through the void at almost unimaginable speed.  There were countless multitudes of them, but the scale Chaos made them seem few and far between.  At that point, Sue, ZG, and SKM joined me, forming a protective triangle, and helping me keep track of where I had come from for when the time came to leave.

We drifted until we came to a lone floating chunk of rock, which we landed on essentially out of my mortal, terrestrial instincts.  Faster than I could think, an insect/crustacean-like creature (I never saw the whole of it), whipped around from the other side of the boulder and impaled me through the heart with a many-jointed limb.  Although we were able to overpower it and reclaim the “blood” that had stuck to its talon, we took that moment to flee back to the Inner Temple.

Gods and Spirits

Since the conclusion of the ceremonial experiment and the Invocation of Baphomet, I now have ten gods and spirits living on my altar.  I speak to fewer than half of them on a regular basis, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.

A few weeks ago, even the gods on my altar demanded a portion of my weekend coffee offerings.  I was happy to oblige, of course: I had only not included them because they had not asked, before, and coffee is such a non-traditional offering that I didn’t wish to offend.  Yesterday, I began incorporating Jason Miller’s Rite of General Offering* into the ritual, and today I will bring back fruit from the cafeteria to add to the offering.

So far, I have rarely asked the spirits I work with for much in the way of manifesting the world I desire.  When I have, though, the results have been spectacular.  When one friend was at risk of being evicted, I got Sue to change the landlord’s mind.  When another needed a specific job, I asked Sue to make sure it happened.  When I was wallowing in a crushing pit of despair last week, I dedicated an evening’s festivities to Dionysus, asking him to purge me of the negativity and obsessive behaviors in which I was engaging; I have since heard that it was the best such party in some time for everyone else there, and I have been pulling out of my emotional morass much more quickly than usual, and am now struggling against a new, but less self-destructive so far, set of obsessive behaviors.

Although I do still intent to built my home defense servitor, and ideally do so before the end of the semester, I think it best that I tend to these relationships before adding anyone or anything else to my altar.

a Change in Plans

Although it might not seem so from my previous weekly reports, my experiment in Chaos Magick has been more productive that I would have anticipated at this early stage. It has also been productive in ways I ever could have imagined, many of which are exceptionally difficult to articulate—a dilemma with which I imagine all my mage-blogging peers can identify.  Some of them have come to light today, some I may never be able to talk about.

I originally conceptualized Project Null as a simple follow-up to the ceremonial experiment: a way of continuing my formal study of the Western magical tradition and of not loosing the momentum I had built up over the course of the previous year.  I set the time frame for the ceremonial experiment at a year because I was originally using Penczak’s year-and-a-day system as a map.  I set a year time frame for Project Null because that was how long the ceremonial experiment had lasted.

It seems, however, that Chaos Magick is even less suited for such a survey than ceremonial magic was.  And I haven’t finished processing or internalizing a number of the lessons from that experiment yet.  And this semester is much, much busier than I had anticipated.  And Project Null is digging things up from my youth that I haven’t though of in a decade or more.  And each and every one of these things deserves my full attention.

Project Null is not being cancelled.  But the deadlines are.  This shit is way too interesting to not let the phenomenal organic growth I’m experiencing progress at its own rate.  Hopefully y’all will understand that this is a carefully considered tactical decision, not just a drunken satyr flaking out.

——

* – Miller, Jason.  The Sorcerer’s Secrets.  Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books (2009).  pp53-5

ETA: Jason Miller reference clarified and cited properly.

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Shaping and Shielding III: New Experiments

Much like my ability to see/perceive auras, this propensity has always ebbed and flowed with my practice. With my magical practice escalating over the last couple years, so too have these psychic senses grown. the last months, apparently, my senses have reached a point where school is getting toxic. I know most of the things I want to know—and sometimes more—but the headaches and the vicarious mood swings are starting to become a little too apparent.

Since recovering from my burnout, my primary shielding technique—when I chose to employ one—has revolved around different ideas of compression and displacement.  My long-time favorite technique basically involves treating my aura like a Hoberman Sphere.  It’s simple, effective against a surprising number of psychic “weather” conditions, and has few, if any, unintended consequences—chiefly, it can put off a bit of a “not worth your notice” vibe.  The downside is that it offers little in the way of direct defense and none in the way of preemptive offence, and it’s rather easy to forget about—left closed too long, I sometimes get the psychic equivalent of muscle cramps.

Most recently, I’ve been experimenting with layers.  A layer of windows, as discussed before, as armor against psychic weather and the evil eye.  Another layer, a bit deeper into the astral, of sensitive psuedopods to keep me aware of what’s going on.  It’s been mostly effective, but oddly leaves me feeling more cut-off from the rest of the world than I actually am, as well as seeming to put off a bit of an aloof and unapproachable air.  I’m trying to come up with a visualization that’s produces a warmer and friendlier sort of charismatic aura, maybe even incorporating that as its own layer “outside” or “in front of” the glass panes.  I’m also trying to figure out what it is about those particular visualizations that leave me feeling so cut off.

Recalling my youthful experiments, I’ve also tried reproducing my bad-anime-armor-style shields.  They make me feel like a badass … and ramp up my aggression by about ten percent.  They also have the interesting effect of limiting the field of view in my astral sight in accordance with the shape of the helmet I visualize.

The astute reader will have noticed a consistent pattern to my shielding strategy: they are all rooted in visualization and imagery.  Although I understand that other magicians code instructions into their shields, keeping out “negative” or “unwanted” energies … in this, at least, I cannot form anything for which I cannot picture a shape, color, and texture.  I can’t form an image of a net that knows what I want to keep away and what to let through: I don’t know what that looks like.  Aradia can do it—you should see the mad shit she can code into personal or house wards—but I don’t have the knack.  There are, of course, those who say that this limit is self-imposed.  I won’t even argue.  Self-imposed limits are just as real as those imposed from the outside.  I’ll overcome it eventually: it’s really just a matter of creativity, which is one thing I have no shortage of … just occasional bouts of (sometimes long-running) blockage.

In the meantime, I’m also looking to experiment with sigilizing personal wards and charging talismans.  For a long time, I disdained that absurdly obvious and effective tactic as “too easy” or “a crutch”.  (Y’all may have picked up that I have had, and still struggle against, a tendency to be an unmitigated arrogant ass.)  This is bullshit.  I’m a goddamn tool using monkey!  Let’s use some goddamn tools.

It’s been a couple years since I’ve been inspired to go so far back to basics.

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Shaping and Shielding II: Learning Curve

My career with the KU Cauldron started almost a decade ago, now.  Back in those days, I thought I was hot shit.  I had a lot of raw talent, had seen and done a whole bunch of strange shit, and was generally more well-read than almost anyone there.  (The fact that I had mostly read Scott Cunningham, and Amber K, and DJ Conway, and a fuck-ton of weird shit on the internet makes that really fucking sad.)

My main problem with shielding had (and has always) been that I tend to build walls I can’t see out of without taking them down, and this was particularly true then.  So, increasingly, I didn’t bother: I was confident in my ability to detect and deal with threats.  When I did, though, I was always experimenting with textures and structures.

I tried great spheres of “glass” with windows that could be opened and closed at will; these worked very well, but still kept things out even when I wanted to let them in.  I tried textured cloaks to draw or distract attention from myself; these worked fabulously, particularly the latter, which could and often did render me near-invisible.  I turned my aura inside-out, squeezed it to a thin plane and turned it “sideways”, which was also produced an effect of near-invisibility—obviously, not literally invisible in either case, but pointedly unnoticed.  Most often, though, I would simply draw my aura back, condensing it until it fit well within my body, leaving only a “corona” at the original edge, which I would use as a shield.

It was during this period that I was really able to test my theories of energetic layers or frequencies of reality, slipping in and out of others awareness and around their shields during games of “tag”.  I cast circles by spinning webs of light into my Pentagram Ward, the likes of which they had never seen.  I was still going through my antagonistic agnostic phase, but I was able to conjure more energy and cast bigger circles by my will alone than they could with elemental and divine invocations.

In general, I postured and strutted about like you’d expect from a dude in his late teens and early twenties who went, basically overnight, from being a social pariah to being someone that others looked up to.  I got cocky and arrogant … and increasingly emotionally erratic.  I had only had two lovers at that point in my life: the first, a one-night-stand, “left” me for someone that would go on to abuse her; the second was also a singular arrangement, and though we became dear friends, she lived quite a ways away and we would not be lovers again for some years.  I was just coming out of the closet as bisexual, and being consistently rejected by everyone I took an interest in.  I had more friends and respect than I’d ever had before … but I was constantly thwarted in the one thing I wanted most.

To add injury to insult, these were also the days when the Cauldron’s resident vampire was starting to emerge.  In retrospect, I wonder how she contributed to the other problems: if, even when I was shielding, she could pierce and/or exhaust my defenses for longer than I’ve ever realized.  I’ve seen the wreckage left by vampire attacks.  That period of my life matches the profile.

All this drama culminated about the time that I started experiencing my first migraines.  When I recovered from all that madness, I really didn’t have any faith left in personal shields as method of defense, at least not from spiritual threats, and it would be years before I was tuned in enough again that I was even certain that my memories of psychic empathy weren’t the delusions of a lonely youth.

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Empathy and Other Psychic Senses

Half a lifetime ago, when I was but a wee faun of a mage, I had a number of talents that bore little resemblance or relevance to the sort of power I wanted as a practitioner of magic.  I had no access to whatever community elders there may have been, and the internet was not the deep well of knowledge it is today.(1)  It was my first year of high school and, although I cracked my first book on astrology at the age of thirteen, I had been practicing magic for no more than nine months—probably just since the beginning of the summer—with a repertoire limited to a stripped-out version of the LBRP which I had found on a message board, and about the most simple elemental energy-work you can imagine.  My chief occult interests at that time were circles of protection,  the sort of aura sight seen in bad martial arts anime, and astral projection.

I was totally unprepared for the full panorama of what psychic senses really feel like.  To this day, one of my very few crystal-clear memories of high school is of walking down the hall, looking at people and knowing things: “They’re really in love.”  “They’re not, but they’re having sex.”  “She’s cheating on him.”  These thoughts, these knowings, were alien to me: I didn’t know the students in question, and I would not discover my taste for gossip for another five or six years.  But I was absolutely certain of each and every thing that burst into my mind as I turned my gaze on each set of couples I passed on my way to English class.  The knowing, the invasion of those unwitting people’s privacy, terrified me.  I shoved the knowledge out of my head, and slammed the door closed behind it.

Over the course of the next two years, as I met more and more magical practitioners, several of them were the sort that identified as “empaths”.  In particular, one of my close friends and mentors.  The talent never seemed to bring him much pleasure, so at first I felt that I’d made the right call … but around the time I graduated high school, I started to wonder what I was missing. 

Medeia had a friend—an off-and-on student and lover—that we hung out with some times.  Hearing the above story, he offered to help me out.  Unfortunately, as it turned out, he was less than helpful.  His solution was brute force: we sat down and entered a trance; I let him into my head; he found the door, and kicked it in.  It hurt, and I panicked, and tried to slam it shut.  But the “door” was broken, now, and wouldn’t close all the way.

My practice was never very regular back in the day.  It certainly wasn’t founded on banishing or meditation.  If it had been, that shit might have just sorted itself out on its own, before I blew my circuit-breaker.  Even after that dramatic event, my psychic senses have always been a little wonky.  I have experienced “empathy” not as a knowledge of what others are feeling, but a direct, vicarious, and often unknowing and unwelcome experience of it: I walk into a room where someone’s in a bad mood, and suddenly so am I.  Of course I always picked up unpleasant emotions first, and often exclusively.  Living with Aradia, we frequently shared physical pains, and occasionally panic attacks.  And you, my dear readers, may recall some complaints about the psychic toxicity of the mall.

Shielding is the answer, of course.  It’s time for the next round of experiments to begin.


1 – These were the wild, early days of IRC and CompuServe.  HTML was shiny and new.  FTP was the preferred method of sharing files, and GOPHER was still relevant.  The internet was so small that there were published books of internet addresses, much like a Yellow Pages, and people used them.  I’ll stop now before I make anyone else feel even older than I already do typing out this footnote.

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