Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Amazing Rant from Someone I Admire

“Crystal Amethyst Pluto!! That is a ridiculous craft name. Obviously a fluffer.”
“Yeah, no lineage. Fluffers.”
“Artemis is NOT a lesbian. Lesbians are not virgins. F’ing fluffers.”

"Alright you guys. Stop right there.

Once upon a time, in your own relatively recent history, after you learned to walk, but very probably before you learned to read, you entered Dream Time. Every single one of you did this in a different way.

For some of you, it was an ongoing game of soldiers, where your friend Ralf was always the grey soldier, and you were always the blue one. For others, it was a game were you were hero puppies, but one of those particular hero puppies was “your” hero puppy. For still others, the dream was about God or Jesus, and how you were his angel.

The game had rules. You may not even remember the place you played the game very well any more, but you remember the game. When non-believers would intrude, you had to cease your play, or the “grown ups” would “ruin” it.

That part of you which imagines, dreams, hopes, believes and aspires is the very same part of you that once pretended to be a Thundercat. The faculty which allows you to imagine yourself succeeding at a job interview once allowed you to see unicorns running around your backyard.

That part of you drew you to practice magick, and ultimately, it is the part of you that makes magick work.

Now you are eyeball deep in ancient tomes, looking for the most ancient lineage possible. Tell me, even if you found the most legitimate tradition on Earth, would it make your magick any more powerful?

You might not know. Take it from us, who have been around the block a few times. No book you read, no initiation you receive, no charter you can hang on your wall will ever make you a more powerful practitioner. It will just give you more street cred. It will make people listen to you. People, as it happens, but not the gods, or faeries, or spirits of the forest.

I joined a legit group, studied hard, and practiced the rituals dutifully. I read Eliphas Levi in the original French, studied Cornelius Agrippa, memorized countless invocations in Latin, and spent hours of my life that I will never get back lying in a coffin listening to some n00b bang a gong periodically. All the while, my magick was getting farther away from me.

One day, it hit me. I was not having fun. I was bitter old woman at the age of thirty-five, and all my studies had brought me was an unjustified sense of superiority.


I did not get into magick so that people would think I had the biggest wooby-wooby in the known galaxy. I got into the business strictly for the ability to fly and throw fire balls. I had no flight powers, no fire balls, and no joy in my practice. I marched up to the Ancient Sunmasters who had conferred my degrees, and demanded the last decade and a half of my life back.

No refund was forth-coming.

Now, I know what you are thinking. The purpose of magick is to fix the flaws in your personality, you dummy. No wonder you were miserable.

To you I answer, if you want to get over your psychological issues, go see a shrink. Israel Regardie recommended as much. And if you want to be a good person, work at it. No nemyss or scourge required.

Magick is about the paranormal, the unexplainable. The impossible. It is about accessing the truths of reality on its deepest levels, showing that the physical and the spiritual are indeed a work painted by the same divine hand.

It is not for the purpose of whining about the issues with your mother/father/boyfriend/uncle. And it is not for the purpose of rolling around on the ground shouting, “Oy! My Alchemy!” and using this as an excuse to throw your system of morality and ethics into the garbage can.

Honey Badger don’t care about your alchemy. Honey Badger don’t give a rat’s ass about your lineage. He just walks right up to your banner of the East and pees all over it. Then he eats a snake. Why does Honey Badger’s opinion matter? Because Honey Badger is a wild animal. He is a part of nature. He doesn’t care what kind of freaking hat or robe you are wearing. And the spirits of nature who might reasonably help you to gain actual control over reality? They are no different."

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Occult Does Not Lead to Devil Worship, It Leads to Wood Crafts

This is my life.

I start by reasoning that a process of vivification (creating artificial intelligences and fixing them to solid real-world objects for longevity and stability) would be best done using Land, Sky and Sea to represent Bone, Breath and Blood...

Next thing I know, I'm at Michael's, buying discount wood paints and haggling with the staff about the cost of big wood circles.

On the up-side, each color I purchased was only 59 cents!

On the downside, it will be a few more days before I do the ritual, now. And I really did mean to do it on the full moon.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Invocation: Hooked On A Feeling

So, in my last post I talked about two popular rituals, and the fact that the most popular of these had no tangible effects, leading one to seriously question its popularity.

Today, I would like to discuss invocation as a mood altering substance.

From Owen's World

Now, if you have done much with the Western Mystery Tradition, you will note that people call lots of powers. Elements. Planets. Angels (and beings not deserving to be called angels, after what they did to Dee and Kelly). Gods. All kinds of good stuff like that.

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, when I was a baby-magus, I read about gods. I became curious. My friends had tried them, and had all kinds of visions, dreams, and omens. That sounded right awesome to me, so I decided to look one up.

I examined myself, and realized that I sucked at keeping secrets, keeping track of objects, earning money, driving cars, riding bikes, getting away with my numerous errors committed daily, communicating basic information without confusing people and seducing dudes. Consulting the oracle of the inter-webs for "god of not sucking at life" I simply got a lot of links about Jesus.

When I searched the individual symptoms, the most likely bet seemed to be Mercury or Hermes.

Courtesy of Theoi.com

I set up an altar, and made offerings. More importantly, or perhaps more significantly I began to ascribe the same events that had always been happening to his involvement.

To make a long story short, really incredible things began to happen. The most impressive and difficult to explain of these things was an incident involving some fuzzy orange flip-flops.

Now first let me tell you about these flip flops.

From Debbiefife on Etsy

Firstly, they were far less attractive than those pictured above. They were god-forsaken, clementine orange. They were fuzzy everywhere. My mother got them on clearance for less than a dollar because no one in their right mind would wear such a thing.

I assure you, therefore, that I owned only one pair, and to this day, I have never seen their like. I did not, of course, wear them. I kept them stored in a huge, clear plastic bag in the closet.

One day, I was rummaging through that plastic bag to find something unrelated. I pulled out the horrid orange sandals of ugliness (+5 to deflection). I put them right back in, wondering what had possessed my mother ever to buy them.

I went to a closet on the other side of the house to continue looking for whatever it was (I think pot-holders, actually), and saw the hideous orange sandals sitting there on a shelf, as nice as you please! Bewildered, I picked them up, and carried them to the first closet, set them down, and began looking through the other bag. I tore it apart, looking for the first set of sandals.

No. There was only one set.

Moral of the Story: LBRP protects you from monsters that don't exist. Imagining that deities are responsible for events in your life makes shoes teleport.

Now, lest you think I'm trying to prove specifically the validity of Greek Deities, let me tell you another story.

This one is about a L.A.R.P.

Clearly, there is a difference between real magick and role-playing....?

Hang on, wait 'till I finish.

We were playing a game where the Monarchs of the four seasons were doing battle. We had been playing for about six months, and had done several coronations in high ritual style, since a few of us involved happened to also be occult geeks.

It was October. It was snowing. The snow began to whip up into a blizzard. I pulled aside the person whose character was the Winter King. I told him that he had to make it stop, or he was risking all-out war with the Autumn Court. We role-played a scene where he conceded that it was his fault, that he was in the wrong, and that he would attempt to recall his minions.

Within minutes. Within MINUTES, and completely contrary to the weather forecast, it stopped snowing. Props, Toothaker, props. You would make a fine wizard.

Suspension of disbelief + archetypal characters that represent forces of nature + imagination = weather control.

So, what does this all have to do with invocation?

Glad you asked. You see, both of these incidents illustrate invocation. True, there was not a standard poem or "Hail to Thee O Such and Such" in either story. But that's my point: there doesn't need to be.

I know this is going to surprise you, but I am no more going to posit that my experiences mean that Hermes is real any more than I'm going to posit that they mean that Toothaker's Winter King character is real. Either could be. How the hell would I know? But given the fact that effective magic is practiced with invented deities all the time, and by people that I'm sure no actual deity would interact with (self included) I am going to say that I don't *need* to posit that either Winter Himself or Hermes was actually an actor in these events which are mostly inexplicable by mundane means (my personal beliefs aside).

Rather, when we engage our imaginations with a character that is a sort of pure archetype, such as a deity, or the personification of some aspect of nature, we are filling our imaginations, filling our magickal selves with it. We are changing our interior so that a little piece of ourselves becomes the same flavor as that archetype, power, or entity.

Certainly, the element of Earth, or Air, is not a being (though nothing is stopping you from treating them that way, I suppose) and yet these, like deities, are invoked for magickal effect, with staggering success.

From a really good article by Tracy Marks

When you use a pentagram as a portal to a force, you do not simply inscribe the sigil and vibrate the name. This is insufficient. You prick it, and imagine the FEELING of that element (or planet) pouring forth from the pentagram, in as many senses as you can muster. You fully engage your imagination with the force.

Or, to put it in a slightly less romantic way: you get in the mood of that force. Nothing external at all has to happen. Nothing enters you. Nothing leaves. Or at least nothing has to. You simply change your present state from "Mixed" to "Mostly Earth" or "Mostly Winter" or "Mostly Hermes," or "Mostly Freya." In fact, this is a fairly good metric for how successful you have been. How in the mood are you? How vividly can you imagine that force?

Thus changed, exchanges begin. You form expectations, disbelief is suspended, intentions are stated, and your unconscious mind takes care of the rest. But the first step, the very first step, is doing whatever it takes to alter your mood, so that it aligns with the force in question.

And there we have it: invocation as a mood altering substance.

Magick is Theater <--> Theater is Magick.

I could sit here and quote-footnote about how various cultures used drama as a way to connect with the divine (and still do). It would be hella boring and not get my point across. We live in the age of Wikipedia and Google. Just look it up later. "sacred drama" plus any culture you like. In the meantime, I want to closely examine a few modern, popular WMT rituals and look at what they do.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

From Infinity Network: Guys, in the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn, wands are fire. Just saying.
I don't agree with it either, but seriously.

Everyone has their own version, but what does this ritual actually do? Some quotes from practitioners include:

"maintaining your own Light, and protect you from the overwhelming sea of emotions and energies flying about the world." -- Some Wicca website.

"Removes earthly vices such as laziness." -- A Thelemite posting on a Thelema forum

"You're creating a barrier against anything and everything foreign to your consciousness." -- Random practitioner.

For another, off the wall and hilarious perspective, click here.

The rest, I will summarize. There is a lot of blibbity blabby about "light" and "spheres" and "currents" out there, and symbolism, but for a moment, let's examine what the damn thing actually does to you.

It "protects" you. This does not mean that it will stop you from getting run over by a car, or bitten by a dog. It means that it protects you from non-physical entities..

Hold up.

Agree or disagree: there are thousands upon thousands of idiots who use and abuse invocation on a daily basis to call Chthulu, Satan, various demons and every manner of dark god, dead person and tentacle monster. But not a single invocation-related injury or death has ever been reported, to my knowledge. Ever.

So, let me rephrase that: It gives you an experience that makes you feel safe.This is of course important, because in the practice of magic, we are discovering the most frightening thing imaginable: that we, and we alone, are in command of our own destiny. No one and nothing will stand between us and our own mistakes.We externalize this unrealized fear as we did in childhood: by imagining monsters where truly, there are none.

In other words, we are dramatizing our feelings of insecurity through 'psychic attack' inflicted upon ourselves-- sometimes to the point of unconsciously using paranormal powers to smash cups or spin plates -- and the antidote is to dramatize the ultimate security building fact: Death is not the end, but a respite in the arms of the all-loving divine. Thus, even if you suffer your whole life long, and make the worst mistakes possible, everything is always and forever OK. In the LBRP, as in the Jewish bedtime prayer it is based on, we are calling Deity on every side of us: North, South, East, West, Above, Below, Within. In case the worst should happen, we shan't get lost.

Of course, if you are an atheist, or if you believe that all magick ultimately comes from humanity, this will do you very little good. That doesn't mean that you can't practice magick.

Moving on...

The Rose Cross Ritual

Instructions here.

What does it do?

"It is a protection against psychic invasion from the thoughts of others or from disturbed psychic conditions"

"The Rose Cross Ritual purifies and protects the space without creating portals for the entry of entities"

"Induces a type of invisibility...you will tend to be ignored."

Now that last is extremely interesting, but largely, we are again talking about the effects of the ritual in terms of how it makes the practitioner feel. It produces a change in the practitioner, and not the physical world. However, in this ritual, we see evidence of a peculiar cross-over.

You could say that the invisibility is caused by divine influence, but I think not, largely on the grounds most people are calling on Jesus, and Jesus was not really about being invisible.He was a public guy, and he asks his followers to be examples to others, and to "preach the good news." No, invisibility is not his style.

I would bet, in fact, that people can alternately call on Christ, or Star Goddess, or Captain Kirk, and the ritual will have largely the same effect.

from BillyTheFish.com

One popular variant replaces the god names in this ritual with "Abarahadabara" which is a Hebrew phrase that has been tortured by European scoundrels and is no longer recognizable to any Hebrew speaker. But it still works. Because it makes the user feel empowered. Because it sounds serious enough for them to experience suspension of disbelief.

The power in this ritual comes from the caster. They have an experience, which in turn creates an emotional response, a shift in self perception, followed by... well... magick.

In case you missed it, the Rose Cross ritual calls for incense. You enwrap your sphere in that smoke, touching it to the corners normally ignored in magic. What are we dramatizing? Can you guess? We are speaking directly to, calling out to, by whatever name, all that is unseen within ourselves. Thus, out it comes. And away we fade from mortal perception.

So effective magic is about having an experience, a feeling, and a shift of self-perception based on a suspension of disbelief.

Five Quotes. Guess Who Said Them.

“What is important to me is not the truth outside myself, but the truth within myself.”

“Success is transient, evanescent. The real passion lies in the poignant acquisition of knowledge about all the shading and subtleties of the creative secrets.”

“Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art”

“Do not run after distinctions and rewards; but do your utmost to find an entry into the world of beauty.”

“The language of the body is the key that can unlock the soul.”

These quotes may as well be about the practice of magick, but they were in fact said by Konstantin Stanislovksi, actor and director. He philosophically believed that imagination was the key to good acting. He also had the following to say about theater, which I find works as well for crafting and executing effective rituals.

"All action on the stage must have an inner justification, be logical, coherent, and real."

Both the circle and the stage can be said to be a place between Heaven and Earth, I think, where imagined creatures and people touch the real world, and through creating an emotional experience in the participants, can dramatically change the world. Just as an actor must know the characters in the play, and be familiar with what is "out of character" for them, one who practices magic must be familiar with his or her gods, angels, archetypes, spirits or what have you.

But it strikes me that in certain cases, we use very complex ritual, names of evocation that mean nothing to us personally, and we find ourselves having the same basic experience over and over again, regardless of the ritual, one that perfectly conforms to the only expectations we can formulate based on the strange glyphs and foreign names and complex gestures we use: "gee that was powerful."

It felt powerful. Power does things. What did it do? What were you dramatizing? What was the ritual saying to you?

In a piece of occult ritual it is possible to invoke actors and know nothing about them. Our mind fills in the details, correctly and incorrectly, causing the myriad of UPGs we see posted on the internet. With theater, we have an experience that naturally explicates the characters. The script is written to create a feeling, provoke a reaction, argue for a philosophy.

What happens when we bring the precision of theater to the practice of magick?