Apparently, as someone clever once said, “it’s that time of year again.” People are arguing about the nature and merits of the Holy Guardian Angel. Beyond what I’ve learned by following the conversation and from Frater Acher’s study, however, it’s a subject I know next to nothing about. Which makes it fascinating to me.
This conversation seems to have been sparked by a post of Jason Miller’s. If I understand correctly, Rufus Opus sees the entire operation as a Solar initiation. Jow thinks it’s an awesome act of will, but will move at his own pace thank-you-very-much. Meanwhile, Skyllaros gets into some related issues which become relevant as the conversation continues, and the illustrious Frater Acher has shared his thoughts on the topic as well. Jason weighs in further, addressing his understanding of celestial powers and shiny-red-reset-button-style-initiation. The conversation (that I have seen so far, anyway), currently concludes with more thoughts by Rufus Opus.
The whole thing, as I said, is fascinating to me. Although I’ve done some very interesting Solar
work, none of it yet qualifies as an initiation. I have, using rites derived (vaguely) from Agrippa, recently contacted my Natal Genius. Over the last several years, I have acquired a small cadre of spirit-helpers by other means, as well. The first is clearly not an HGA, and one of the the others laughed in my face when I asked her if she was. I’m familiar with existence of the Abramelin rite, of course. but I honestly know just enough about the details to I know that I’m never going to do it. Not my bag, as they say. I have read the Bornless Ritual. I’ve never performed it, or the Samekh variant, but I’ve been doing the ritual from which both are derived regularly for some months now. The association between Bornless and Abramelin, however, is purely the invention of Crowley. Whatever its effect has been, though, it has not been the vaulted Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It’s distinctly possible that, even if I have a Holy Guardian Angel in the original sense, I may never achieve “Knowledge and Conversation”.
Honestly, I’m not sure that I want or need K&CHGA. As RO points out, the explosive immolation which many have reported
undergoing with the Abramelin, Bornless, Samekh, and other such rites, is not universal:
For others, it’s not that bad at all. A couple students, a few fellow wise old magicians didn’t go through a ton of shit, just some minor shit, because they got the point quicker than I did. I bet Jow, with his appreciation of the important things in life, his honest gratitude, his humility, his kindness… I bet for people like him, it’s a walk down the beach, and the heat of the Sun is a pleasure, not a pain at all.
At the risk of sounding self-aggrandizing: I have been putting myself through a transformative slow-cooker for as long as I can remember. I think I was eleven or twelve years old when I first realized that the world was fucked, that all the rules I’d been taught served to put the needs of bullies before my own, and that authority could not be trusted. When I discovered magic at the age of thirteen, I was obsessed with gaining power, but when I started practicing magic for real between sixteen and eighteen, it didn’t take long for my magical practice to become a way of managing my moods and getting my shit sorted out. I came out publically as a Pagan about that same time, and figured out I was bisexual (with the accompanying coming out process) about the same time I moved out of my parents’ house at twenty. Between the move to St. Louis (what was explicitly to make me a better writer by taking me away from my home base), my experiments in visionary and shamanic work, the shift of my career path from I have been jamming the Shiny Red Reset Button on my life pretty constantly since 2006. Or, as RO put it:
[P]eople go through worse shit without ever conjuring their HGA. You know anyone over thirty who hasn’t had some shit to deal with, something traumatic, something huge that you think about and wonder if you’d be able to handle it? I’ve got magician friends with more experience and empowerment than me who I respect and love who are facing or have faced more terrible things than I can imagine being able to deal with. Shit that doesn’t just go away in a year or two.
Shit. Happens. Regardless.
And and then there’s the whole thing with the spirits who have sought me out since beginning of this process. So really, while I would welcome another supernal assistant, between the life and magic I’ve already got more on my plate than I can handle. Like Jow, I would rather continue to simmer off the excess and the unnecessary, rather than risk an unplanned series of detonations in a life which is already on the edge, with too few resources to be spread between the various people who love and depend on me.
There’s a part of me that wishes that I had even known about this kind of magic back in the day: high school and the early years of my apprenticeship would have been much more interesting. I might not have taken quite so long to pull my head out of my ass. Or, you know, I might be in a padded room wearing a straight jacket.
As things stand, though, I’ll have to content myself with listening to the stories that others tell about their explosive pursuits of the HGA and other Solar initiations. With reading the theory performing my own, smaller, experiments. And maybe in another twenty years, when I’m more magician than satyr, when my tenure is secure and my ambitions achieved, I’ll say “fuck it”, and go looking for the “Nuke” setting on my Shiny Red Reset Button.
1 – You see what I did there?
2 – See Hymanaeus Beta in his foreword and footnotes to the Illustrated Second Edition of The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King. Weiser: York Beach Main (1995). See also: The Bornless Ritual by Alex Sumner.
3 – Something I am not convinced of, as I reject the sort of top-down cosmology which is necessary in order to assume that everyone has the same arrangement of supernatural allies.