Tag Archives: pushing the boundaries of coincidence and chance

Listening to the Voices: Planetary Shenanigans

Since I escalated my devotional/spirit-work practice by incorporating Jason Miller’s Rite of General Offering and getting back on top of my meditation practice, the spirits who hang around my life have had a lot to say to me.  “Do this with your altar.”  “Do that.”  “That looks like a tasty offering.”  Nothing mind-blowing, but definitely more than I used to get.  My astral “hearing” is still pretty  sketchy—everything comes to me as a sort of knowing, rather than something my language-centers process—but it’s getting better.  Most interesting and timely of the various instructions I have received was the Sunday-morning admonition to add a daily component to my seasonal altar.

I did so faithfully Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  It was pretty neat, the talismans that made up most of my daily altar definitely got a boost, and Wednessday my memory and linguistic abilities were through the fucking roof.

Thursday, though, was a perfect storm of insomnia, oversleeping, and discouragement.  It was the second night that week that my sleep was insufficient and marked by bizarre dreams that I could not remember in the morning.  I came across RO’s fabulous challenge/invitation … and was (oddly, in retrospect) so bummed that I hadn’t seen it the day before that A) spaced out that there were going to be more Jupiter hours that day, and B) almost gave up on the daily planetary magic altogether.  Which is silly in all sorts of ways.  I should have taken it as encouragement/an omen to get back on track, with everyone else doing the deal.  I don’t have the Gates Rites (and missed the part about how to go about it without them in the second post), but fuck: I’d already been told to do the damn thing.

Then something happened that never happens: the clue phone rang AGAIN.  Literally, this time.  My friend Sthenno, whom I had thought I had somehow offended when she stopped returning my calls over the summer, called me up out of the blue, thirty minutes short of the (Nightly) Hour of Jupiter, to ask if I were doing the RO rites.  “I am, now,” I said.

The ritual got me high.  It was amazing.  Even the election when I first charged my Jupiter talisman wasn’t that awesome in terms of visceral experience.

Friday morning I was back on track.  Again, the ritual—consisting of no more than the arrangement of my altar, the lighting of a candle and stick of incense, and the pouring of a libation—got me super high … which was a bit of a problem, as I used the dawn Hour, and had to go to class.  What was even more of a problem was the potent influence of Venus.  Prior to that invocation, I had almost managed to put a lid on my haven’t-been-fucked-in-two-months libido.  Ooops, there’s that out the window: all day Friday I was too horny to think.  And I dropped a Venusian glamour bomb on some poor fellow students in the English office outside my Latin class, because I was too high on Venusian power not to pore breathe it into the atmosphere around me.

Despite the fact that I still hadn’t found the for-non-Gates-Rites-participants instructions, I was definitely tapped into the current.  I could feel it.  Can feel it still, for that matter.

Saturday morning, I was a little nervous about.  I didn’t get to Saturnine work in last year’s ceremonial experiment, but I know that Saturn in Scorpio is fucking with many of my dearest loves in a pretty hardcore fashion.  And while the ritual got me high, it definitely wasn’t the kind of fun the previous two rituals had produced.  As a matter of fact, I was pretty reserved for the rest of the day, despite my attempt to turn a party I went to into a Bacchanal.  But that was later: something much more interesting happened first.  I didn’t just tap into the current of the ritual group: I saw it, stretching across the sky in a dark rainbow moving west to east.  And it showed me what I need to do to tap into the current and participate more fully.

Let me say that again: the magical current Rufus Opus has set up for these weeks of planetary invocations showed me how to make more effective use of itself.

Unfortunately, because of homework and my Full Moon obligations (night two of three will start as soon as I finish this post), I was not able to fully implement the instructions I was given.  At this point in the week, I will probably not do so before Thursday starts the second week cycle (for the sake of symmetry).  But I have the Circles I’m going to use for the invocations.  They’ve been stamped in my brain.

This morning was not quite as impressive, but damn that Solar high was nice.  And today has been super, super productive in its wake.

This week’s rituals have definitely helped me level out some of the instability I’ve incurred by my interaction with the Chaos Current.  In turn, I feel absolutely certain that without my Chaos Magick work I would not have gotten as much out of these planetary rites as I have.  I certainly wouldn’t have been able to see the current of the workgroup the way I have.

For clarity’s sake: all my rites have been at the dawn hour, excepting the Jupiter Rite which I did at an hour of night.  They have involved the construction of a mini-altar consisting mostly of talismans charged on previous occasions, the recitation of the appropriate Orphic Hymn from my Book of Art (which is picking up quite a charge of its own), and offerings of candle, port, and sandalwood incense.  The summoning circle I was shown and the contemplation of the Seal will be added Thursday … hopefully I’ll have time to actually make those in the near future.

So let’s take that lesson to heart, folks: when the spirits talk, listen.  Don’t be my fool ass and make them call you back twice.  And if they actually bother to do so, be fucking grateful.

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Welcome to My Personal, Political, Magickal, Clusterfuck Life

[Warning to the people who know me IRL: this gets personal at the end and might be a little awkward.]

So …. I’ve picked up a few new readers in the last weeks.  Welcome to the Obsidian Dream, folks: it’s good to have you along for the ride.  As of last week I know have more “followers” here than I had back on blogger, and (although I know there’s some overlap between the two, and that many of my beloved readers don’t use those buttons for whatever reason) that feels pretty damn good.  My monthly hits aren’t quite what they were, but I haven’t actually been keeping up with the posting that well these last couple months, either, and I suspect those facts are closely related.  I’m grateful to have you all.

Things have been interesting here in the Satyr’s life: working in the mall to cover rent and summer spending money, living with Aradia for the summer, studying my Attic Greek (but not enough), the whole HPF main ritual drama and the continuing fallout, researching my planned switch from disposable razors to a straight edge (not because it’s superbutch, which is almost creepy enough to be a reason not to do it) but because it’s more environmentally sustainable), my car breaking down earlier this week, getting ready for Sannafrid coming out to visit next week, and getting ready for the giant fucking party we’re going to have while she’s here.

I’ve been doing some visionary work, but haven’t yet reached a point where I can provide an interesting narrative about it.  The Moon has a lot to teach me, but it seems like I have to fuck shit up for the correct information they’ve imparted to rise to the surface (“No, man, like this: like I showed you already.”)

I’ve been working images of Venus and the Moon, inspired by my work with the Moon Talisman at Heartland and based on more of the descriptions from Christopher Warnock’s Picatrix translation.  This has been a technical challenge, but super-fun.  I plan to do at least one Picatrix-based image for each planet.  Posts for each of those are forthcoming upon their completion.

Progress in my ceremonial studies has slowed greatly.  Partly because I’ve been resting, partly because I’ve been researching, and partly because I’ve been devoting a lot of time to try to actually understand what I’ve already learned.  The biggest things I’ve gotten done in this regard, lately, is downloading AstroWin and Morinus Tradional as potential alternatives Astrolog.  Further, my studies have also been slightly hampered by the ever-clearer knowledge that, while many planetary magic techniques are really interesting and awesome (electional talisman construction, for example), my own talents slant so hard toward visionary work that ceremonialism, Hermetics and astrological magic will always be peripheral to my practice.  They’re good, solid tools—fun to use and especially to make–but never my favorites.

Two things have consumed the last week more than anything else, though: emailing back and forth with the HSA Sacred Experience Committee regarding the horrible ritual, and getting ready for Sannafrid’s visit.

I have, to date, exchanged nearly a score of emails with the head of the Sacred Experience Committee and a couple other people involved in the ritual planning and execution.  The initial emails were heated; since we have begun negotiating a face-to-face meeting (moderated by the former head of the SEC, an individual whom I respect greatly), things have calmed a little.  The meeting will take place tomorrow, and a full report on the exchange will be forthcoming, as will be analysis of how I feel this event was exemplary of what I feel to be one of the greatest failures of the neo-Pagan and magical communities today: a deep and unexamined investment in the patriarchy which poisons all of our lives.

Although an altogether happy occasion (as opposed to the other, which might turn out well or might finish ruining Heartland for me), Sannafrid’s visit will be, in some ways, an equally iconic rejection of the mainline narratives which dominate our lives as people with one foot in the “Muggle”[1] world: I’m not just involved in deeply loving relationships with two different women.  Although they have never met, they have always known about each other, and next week my “girlfriend at school” is going to come visit me while I’m living with my “girlfriend at home”.  I don’t even know where to begin counting all the “rules” we’re breaking, let alone deconstructing them, so I’m just going to go for the lulz: Sannafrid is actually going to arrive while Aradia is away on a business trip.[2]  Yeah.  We’re all emotionally mature grown ups, capable of negotiating such potentially treacherous waters, but there is a lot of negotiating and triple-checking that needs to be done (in addition to all the housecleaning) to ensure that everyone’s on the same page about what is and isn’t going down, and that everyone’s anxieties are being allayed and that everyone’s needs are being fulfilled.[3]

The fact that both of these events are happening (and could only happen) while Venus is fucking retrograde is … interesting.  Also: this shit.  WTF, life?  Man, am I glad that I made those Venus talismans.

All of this is to say that, while I’ll be doing a lot of magic in the next ten to twenty days, and finishing out some Big Shit Already In The Works (including at least one more write-up from HPF), it’s probably going to continue to be a month of light posting.  Welcome to my wild and crazy life.


1 – Referring to people who don’t practice magic, see ghosts, or talk to spirits.  On the one hand, I hate this Harry Potter-born neologism.  On the other hand, it’s so much less problematic and idiotic than any of the alternatives I’ve heard or used: normal, once-born, cowan, mundane, uninitiated, blind, mortal.

2 – The best part is that, although it will work out for the best in some ways, we didn’t plan it that way.  The dates for the business trip came down weeks after the dates for the visit were set.

3 – Wondering how this is related to magic or to my spiritual practice?  Click here.

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Conjuring a Home

Back in June, when I had just been accepted into my new college and thought I was going to be living in the dorms, I wanted to be very sure that was going to turn out well.  As a 30-year-old male, a wayout-of-the-Closet bisexual witch with certain nudist tendencies and a manner of costume that has been mistaken for cross-dressing, I thought that my best bet for a good dorm experience would be to have a room to myself.

So I cast a spell.

Now, let me preface this by saying: practical magic is somewhat new to me.  I have generally devoted my psychic energies to, well, spiritual and psychic pursuits.  Mostly, in fact, I’ve devoted my energy to getting better than just a finger-hold on sanity, and to Warding my home-space (which is largely part of the same).  When it comes to manifesting things, I’ve relied on my Web.

A single-room in a good dorm where I’d feel safe, though, seemed a rather high order for that – especially since I wouldn’t actually be moving for another eight weeks.  I’d never experimented with sigil magic before, but I’ve I’ve done a bit of candle magic.  So I decided to use a large candle as the “firing mechanism”, so to speak, for the sigil – and back it all up with a boost from the sort of old-fashioned raise-a-circle magic they taught me in Witchcraft.  Aradia helped, of course.

Although I’m getting better at it, I’m not always the best at keeping a journal.  I don’t recall the exact date and time – it was the full moon in June, but I cant say which day of the moon.  Nor did I record exactly how I phrased the spell before condensing it to a sigil.  I think it was “SAFE HOME SINGLE DORM ROOM”.  I do remember chanting “Safe home dorm room / single room dorm room”.

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The sigil and the candle, after “firing”.

In the most direct sense, the spell either didn’t work … or it backfired.  Not only am I not living I a single room, I’m not living in the dorms.  Or even on campus.  I’m living in a one-bedroom college-owned housing unit, legally a separate entity from the school.

But here’s the catch: single rooms for freshmen don’t exist, and not many transfers get them.  The dormitory to which most of the transfers were assigned may not have single rooms at all.  Also … I don’t think, now that I’ve been in dorms again for the first time in ten or twelve years, that such an environment could ever be “safe” for me at this stage in my life.

“Safe home” and “single dorm room” may have been incompatible parameters.

I didn’t get what I wanted.  But I did get what I need: a safe home, where I can set up my altar and an alchemy lab and even continue brewing my mead.  An easy walk from campus, but too far for post flavors of random visiting.  Far enough that campus security is a total non-issue.  With neighbors who like to party quietly and mind their own business.

So … did the spell work or not?

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My Web of Influence and Fortune

One hesitates to speak of good fortune – it’s taboo. One is simultaneously afraid of being named a braggart, and of having one’s luck evaporate.  Be that as it may: I have long lived a charmed life.  Being in the right place at the right time is pretty much my story.  I have achieved this (inasmuch as it is an achievement, rather than a blessing) through two things: listening to my instincts, and my web of influence.

Growing up in Lawrence, I walked everywhere.  As a young magician (though that word implies more intention and structure than I ever had going on), I practiced magic everywhere I walked – spinning webs, lobbing energy spheres, or even just playing around with subtle trance states.  Over time – years, literally – I became increasingly attuned to those places where I spent the most time.  If something interesting was going on somewhere I frequented – I knew, and I would show up just in time. 

This was before the days of cell phones: if you wanted to meet someone somewhere, you had to call them in advance and hope they happened to be around, or make use of a pay phone (if there was one) when you got there.  My magical friends – Kat, Lyra, James … I use your real names here in the hope that you recognize these stories and contact me – rarely had to call me.  They would just show up, and there I would be.  Thirty minutes later, if I wasn’t waiting for them when they arrived. 

I came to call this knowledge of time and place my Web, and anchored it to a number of tools that lived on my altar (my Orb, in particular, if you recall it from the Story of Tsu).  When I wanted or needed something, I fed that need into the web – no ritual, no ceremony, just focus – and it usually manifested sooner rather than later.  When I moved out of my parents’ house into my first apartment, I moved it with me.  I moved it again and again, as I moved around Lawrence.

When I moved to St. Louis, it was a little more complicated.  For one thing, the move was so frantic that I forgot to take down the house wards before I left.  For another, I was homeless for the first ten weeks – it’s hard to set up a power-center while living out of your car and sleeping on your buddy’s couch.  (Not saying that it can’t be done: I’m sure many of you out there are up to the task.  But it was very hard for me.)  When I finally got my apartment, I still had to make another three or four trips back to KC to get my things, including key components of my altar.  Nor was my life in St.L ever really stable: unemployment, temp jobs, and the batshit crazy jewelers I worked for there; friendships falling apart, an ill-chosen romance, and isolation. 

Still, I did my best: laying down lines of power as I searched for jobs, marking trails as I did what partying I could.  As wrong as so many things went, they still went very well in many regards.  I had my choice of lovers, though I can’t say I made the best choices.  I never went hungry or got into any real trouble.  Despite my initial successes, it took about a year before things really started moving in my favor … and by that time it was too late.  Too many things had already down the shitter.  That said, I got out of my lease without a problem and found a safe place to land.

Kansas City – where I landed – was a little easier: being closer to Lawrence, where too much of my energy was still invested, things didn’t have quite so far to stretch.  I had an easier time getting jobs, making friends, and even started going to school.  All of which made it easier to lay down roots and get more of the same.  Again, though, it took about a year for things to really get rolling – for last-minute decisions and gut-felt impulses to star putting me where I needed to be; to get that feeling of “I need to be a Missie’s tonight”.  It was a series of fairly wild coincidences led Aradia and I to being in the same place and time at the right moments – little, if anything, in my life has turned out quite that well.

Now that I’ve moved again, it’s time to build a new annex to my web.  Hopefully, between my more sophisticated witchcraft, my more focused intention, and my larval ceremonial practice, it won’t take a whole year to get the web established.  I’ve already started the process.  I’m making interesting friends.  Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

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There’s No Way To Tell This Story Without Looking Like a Moron or Possibly a Lunatic

For almost two years now, I’ve been working closely with a spirit I call Tsu (as in “A Boy Named ~”).  You’ve seen her mentioned here once or twice.  Only in passing, though, because she’s something of a long story.  You see … I think I may have made her.

The story actually begins back in high school.  Yeah.  I don’t know how many of you out there started practicing magic that young; but I know that those of you who did probably have your own set of “what the fuck was I thinking” stories, too.  Some of them might even start the same way: Like most young dabblers in the arts of magic, I suffered a certain paranoia.  I didn’t necessarily think that anyone or anything in particular was out to get me.  But they might be!  If not today, than some day! 

Like drawing and writing, I have a natural talent for shielding and warding, but that wasn’t enough for me.  I wanted to be sure that I was safe.  So I made myself a bindrune (a sigil, if you will), took a secret Name, and – I have no idea where this part come from – hid a piece of my soul inside a stone.  This might have actually been the beginning of some interesting Work, if I’d had any idea what to do with it.  But, again, I was young and dumb and (even more so than today) unclear on the benefits of the whole “Keep Silent” thing.

The stone – I called it my “Orb” (keep in mind, I was seventeen) – quickly became more of a liability than a boon.  So I took the Work I’d done with the stone and moved it from the half-inch bloodstone sphere I’d started with to something no one would threaten to swallow, and which couldn’t be quite so easily misplaced: a gray granite sphere.  Not long after, the Work somehow moved again – at the time I blamed an unknown wandering trickster spirit; in retrospect, I’m still not really sure what happened – from the granite to an obsidian sphere I had brought with me to show off. 

If I’d been a more clever lad, I’d have ended the experiment then and there.  In my mind at the time, though, Name, rune, and stone were linked and, having been made, could not be unmade.  Besides, everything else had gone so smashingly!  What else could go wrong?

For the next several years, the Orb – in its final incarnation as the obsidian sphere – was the centerpiece of all my magical work.  I used it to raise power; I used it to ground and ccenter; I brought it with me to every spell and ritual I participated in, and sometimes carried it around just because.

I think I was twenty-two when I decided I needed to retrieve that sliver of soul from the Orb, and unbound it with a spontaneous bloodletting at a pubic Beltane ritual.  (Of course that went over well – why do you ask?)  A year or two later, I decided it was time to put it back.  Only to reclaim the hidden fragment again, after another year or two.

Meanwhile and even after the final retrieval, the obsidian sphere remained a central part of my magical practice.  in particular, I used it to ground and purify my excess energy after rituals, and as a place to release and launder my unwanted rage and lust and whathaveyou.  I fed the energy in as a thread, winding it tighter and tighter.  There really seemed to be no end to the amount of power the obsidian sphere could store. 

Fast forward a few more years to my working group in Kansas City.  whether or not you could touch the Orb had become a somewhat juvenile test of how badass a magician or witch I met was.  Some people began to report that they could feel it watching them.  Then, one day, something inside the sphere “woke up” and started talking to us. 

It particularly liked to come out when the working group was over and discussing magic.  Of course I started talking to it; it seemed like the polite thing to do.  It helped me with the elemental and visionary work I was practicing at the time.  When I underwent my initiation, it asked that I give it a name.  So I did – Tsu is the abbreviated version.  It started complaining about the flavor of energy I was dumping into the sphere – which did and does remain one of my favorite tools – so I gave it a home in a tchotchke … a medusa statue I got on special when I purchased my Dionysos idol.

At which point things got even a little stranger.  Previously, Tsu had been amorphous: formless, or a vague humanoid shimmer, or (once, when it followed me to work at the mall) appearing in the form of a small Chinese dragon.  (Why, yes: sometimes, though not often, I do actually see spirits.)  Once housed in the medusa statue, “it” took the form of “she” and has appeared as the gorgon ever since.  She has taken up residence in my Inner Temple / House of Memory, and served as a guide on several occasions.  She disappears from time to time; most notably she was largely absent from HPF until very recently, when she asked me to make her a sigil/seal. 

So, of course, I did.

Although I occasionally refer to her as a guide, she says she technically isn’t one – or, more accurately, that she wasn’t at the time I asked. When I asked if she were my HGA she straight up laughed at me.

I tell you this story now, somewhat apprehensive.  Several witches to whom I’ve spoken seemed outright frightened by the story.  Others have merely been puzzled.  Neither reaction has been particularly helpful to me.

Did I make Tsu?  Do spirits often come into being spontaneously in crystals used as batteries?  Did some strange spirit leave her there, in some larval state, to feed and grow?  Am I just batshit crazy?  Seriously: What?  The?  Fuck?

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Did You Conjure It Back?

My first ritual blade was a butterfly knife I purchased at the Douglas County Gun & Knife Show, back in my junior year of high school.  Being the particular brand of young fool that I was, I carried it everywhere, despite its tendency to slip out of my pocket at inopportune moments.  Inevitably, I lost it: it slipped out of my pocket one day on the bus ride home.  Some weeks later, it reappeared: tumbling out of a stack of papers that I hadn’t touched in months, falling open and sticking into the ground at at my feet.

A few years later, I lost another knife in similar circumstances: it fell out of my pocket as I was walking home from the coffee shop.  Somehow, while cutting through a wide park I on the way home from work the next day, I managed to trip over the lost knife.  Yes, I walked that route a lot … but the odds of that are still pretty slim.

Monday, I lost my wallet in my night class.  I pulled it out of my skirt pocket when I went through the drive-through for dinner and I stuffed it in the inside breast pocket of my coat.  When I got home from class, the zipper was undone and the wallet was gone.  I searched the apartment, called the school, emailed the professor, and ultimately cancelled my debit cards.  This morning I found my wallet back … in the belt pouch I hadn’t worn since the weekend.

“Did you conjure it back?” Aradia asked me.

Not on purpose.  I’m embarrassed to admit that it never even occurred to me.

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What I’ve Learned So Far From a Magical Relationship

In previous stages of my life, I was almost exclusively a solitary practitioner.  I met with other witches and magicians, learned what I could from them, socialized where I could.  I had my coffee house group, back in high school.  There was the WPA (back before it became the Cauldron).  I’ve attended public rituals of various kinds off and on, even tried to teach a few times.  But mostly, it’s just been me, myself, and I.

In the last two years, I’ve done more groupwork than in all the previous fourteen years of magical practice combined.  I’ve done public rituals that actually worked, joined a practice group that almost became a coven before it fell apart, tried to show a few things to a pack of young people at school.  And all throughout it all, I have maintained a regular and powerful practice with my partner, Aradia.

Before all else, keeping a magical practice with your lover is every bit as powerful, transformative, and awe-inspiring as it’s supposed to be.  It is more intimate than all but the very best sex, and the synchronicity it builds makes everything else better, more harmonious.

You see a lot written about that synchronicity.  It’s mostly pretty fantastic and romanticized: empathic links bordering on mindreading, unity of will that precludes disagreements, mind-blowing mutual orgasms, prescient knowledge of where the other is and what they’re doing.  If these extremes are possible, though, Aradia and I haven’t reached them, nor have any couple I know of.

What the myth leaves out is even more to the point.  The empathic bond that can create a closed circuit of escalating glee can just as readily bring both partners spiraling downward in the middle of say, a panic attack, or at the end of a bad day.  We’ve experienced both varieties.  “Is this headache mine or yours?” is a conversation that Aradia and I have actually had.  We get sympathetic foot and leg pains.

We’ve shared dreams a few times.  The incident that exemplifies the oddities of our synchronicity was that once, when I was having a fried chicken craving that had been twice thwarted by nasty, dried failures, she dreamed of going on a fruitless quest for rich, juicy fried chicken.  She also has more dreams that are completely, random, and nonsensical than she ever had before knowing me.

We appear frequently in one-another’s tarot spreads.  When we have plans together for an evening, that usually shows up as well – a couple of weeks ago, for example, we both drew the Princess of Disks on a night we had already planned to see Pasiphae to do tarot readings for her.

None of these things have shown up in any sources that I’ve ever encountered.  Which is interesting, because I don’t believe for a moment that our experience is isolated or unique.  More research is required, I suppose.

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