Friday, 30 December 2011

Abusing Saturn - A Study on the Magical Current of the Nazis

Recently I shared some thoughts about the disproportionally strong Saturnian influence on German Magic over the last century. In particular I stumbled across the realization how severely the Second WorldWar and the Nazi philosophy had influenced not only the German approach to magic but also the German land itself. 

In essence it was a single thought that continuously came back to me...

"Just think of the photos from the bombed cities in Dresden, Munich, Berlin, etc. What if on a spiritual level the rebuilding has never been completed - and all the darkness of these years is still stuck within the land? How much further healing work will it take to restore this country back to the beauty it deserves? "

So over recent weeks I set out to learn more about the state of the German land from a magical perspective. While this work is still ongoing - and will be for a longer while - I also dug in to better understand what exactly had happened during WWII from a magical point of view...

With the kind help of Josephine's works I managed to study on the subject in the Inner Library. That was an intense experience, quite unexpected as so often when we travel outside of our own time and realm... On return I followed up with a Tarot reading and managed to understand the flow the actual energies at work took from from being an initial spark, a raw idea to becoming fully materialized in the horrors we all know about.

After some consideration I decided to make all the knowledge I received public. Of course it may very well be that it is of personal use to myself only - in which case I hope the account can still inspire your own magical investigations. At the same time, however, it might be that some of this information is relevant beyond my personal realm. In which case I hope it can help to deepen our joint understanding as magicians of the forces we can unleash - while miserably failing at understanding their true dynamic and nature.

I called this account 'The Bridge'. Because this is what the magical current of the Nazis essentially established. A bridge between two realms that just worked slightly different from what they had hoped for. As so often in life and magic - the devil is in the detail.


::

Note: as with all the new pages on myoccultcircle.com you can also download the article as a PDF for more convenient offline reading.



Monday, 26 December 2011

ARS LEGENDI - a few thoughts on the art of reading

Recently I received help to find access to the in the Inner Library. I can't share much about this work at this point. But I can share what happened afterwards. A few days later I was in deep meditation and in communion with my HGA. Without any context he suddenly said: 'Every book holds a light.' Like it does in rare moments of insights, my mind lit up like a firework when I heard his words. Let me try to explain...

The best point to start this possibly is the term of the 'armchair magician'. When most people use this term it is in a pretty derogative way. Derogative in a sense that the armchair magician doesn't seem to be 'in action' but simply sitting there, taking in information and showing very little output.

I guess it was mainly through magic I learned that observing without judgement comes as a handy skill. It is actually a skill without which very little will be achieved, both in magic and in life... So let's take a closer look at our magician, seemingly sitting passively in his armchair, reading and turning pages quietly. Let's zoom in and try to see the things actually going on in this very moment...

The original 1986 version of Frick's
'Das Reich Satans' - beautifully bound
in black clothwith golden spirit seals
The first thing that comes to my mind is that I realize there is physical contact between our mage and the book in his hands. The book can feel cheap and feeble or heavy, clothed in leather with a strong, solid spine. Or a million different feelings in between. It might be cold due to the long time it spend on the dark shelves or warm from his touch already. The way the book feels might not matter to the information contained on its pages, yet it matter to our hands. In fact its their very own way to 'read' this book... Blind as they are they learn about the book by way of its surface and skin. 

Consider this: When we stroke our child or lover at night how much of a difference does a bruise make on their skins? How many images and flashes of ideas come up once our fingers touch the bruise yet our eyes don't see...? 

Books aren't lovers. Or are they? The word 'erotic' stems from the Greek word 'eros' which can be translated as 'desire'. When we are with our lover our senses desire to touch, to smell, to create physical contact as closely as possible... It's our senses' desire that we realize in these moments - to feel more, to smell more, to taste more, to see more. And it's only our mind that distinguishes between a lover and a book. Our senses are blind to social norms and attributed functions; they involve themselves completely each time they reach out and take something in, each time they fill themselves with the touch of a surface, a smell, a look, a taste of a fruit. Our fingers don't see wether we stroke the skin of a lover or the skin of a book.

I guess our senses go blind and numb when we think of ebooks? Between a kindle epub and a hardback, fine leather-bound edition of Scarlet Imprint our senses can see worlds divided by oceans that will always remain unknown to our logical mind... It's our subconscious that opens different doors for the information searching for entrance behind our eyes, looking for a place to rest and to connect with - depending on what our other senses say about the nature of the book we are holding in our hands.

But there is more to be observed about our magician sitting in his armchair. 

... our fingers speak when reading
such books.
His fingers aren't holding dead skin, but a living one indeed. A Liber Spiritus is just one extremely powerful form of bringing texts and images to life. Each text printed is vibrant with force, some too subtle to feel, some so raw and imminent that humans decided to burn or hide them away. Each book is a living being, waiting to be released by our consciousness. And it's not one story waiting on their pages to be read but it is a thousand different stories, a new one for every single reader, for every different time its pages are picked up and opened again...

Each book holds a light. It is this light we are setting free, we are connecting with and bringing to shine on reading its pages. If every human being is a star, then every sleeping book is a spark. 

I look at my library with different eyes now. I look at the rows of books as sleeping friends. Spirits waiting on shelves to be brought to life. By my hand and their embrace, by my eyes and my breath descending on their pages for hours. Quite simply, by my desire.

What I have come to understand is that setting these lights free is a form of art in itself. It is a craft that has to be gained. Just like performing a ritual, like deep meditation, like communing with the spirits so is reading a magical book a form of art. Wether we write a poem or bring it to life again through reading, wether we create a spirit and put it to rest on pages of paper or wether we pull it out of its sleep and unite it with our mind and heart. Every touch is erotic.  

One of my managers once explained to me the 80/20 rule in a slightly different way... She said whenever making a decision one should ensure to pursue new information, new perspective and context for 80% of the time and then dedicate 20% of the time only for executing the actual decision. This boss took some of the finest, most counter-intuitive decisions I ever experienced in business. She is a genuine artist and would never think of herself as one. But what a wonderful rule of thumb: 80% assimilation, 20% action. What a powerful way to ensure we don't waste our lives in action?

I am currently reading Josephine McCarthy's Magical Knowledge I. This book holds a lot of lights indeed. Some I found already, others are still waiting for me. Yet, I cannot read faster than my slow senses allow... Because if I tried to I would lose all sense of touching, of hearing and smelling and seeing. I would go numb. And I would start processing information like a machine. Without desire.

::

Yesterday night, after I had finished this post I continued my research on the Crooked Path from the little literature I own about it. I ended up lying on the couch deep at night and reading - just like the armchair magician observed above. I read in Scarlet Imprint's wonderful 'Diabolical'. Almost at the very end it contains a short essay by Mark Smith. He went out into the woods at night and performed an incredible simple yet powerful rite of self-initiation into the Sabbatic Craft... just by reading out loud Chumbley's 72 verse poem Qutub against the light of a candle and his wandering shadow in the brush-woods. -- Every book holds a light. 



Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Arbatel Experience - Ritual of PHALEG

Well, I guess some people simply are slower than others? In the same time it takes me to perform and go through the repercussions of a single rite I see other magicians working through an entire Grimoire, publishing a new book and engaging in countless discussions online...

Since I embarked on this journey it has taken me three months on average to plan for each rite, perform it and integrate its impact into my daily life. In doing so I always tried to follow through each step of the Spirit Contact Cycle as consciously as possible. Clearly that slows things down. Incredibly so.

Here is but one example: When I set out to perform the entire Arbatel cycle I stopped drinking alcohol, stopped smoking and became more strict on not eating any meat. All of this happened under the assumption I would be much quicker than it turns out I am. My somewhat naive assumption was I could perform all seven rites within four to six months maximum - and be back to my occasional fag and a glass of wine by spring 2011.

Well, clearly that wasn't quite the case. Here I am more than a year later completing the fifth of all seven rites. But boy, do I enjoy the journey! I know now it was one of the best decisions of my life to tackle this magic mountain... And so each time I am reminded of my slow pace of performing and integrating these rites I end up recalling that I will do each rite only once in a life-time. 

What I realize now is that the way I approached my 'Arbatel Experience' a year ago and still do today is exactly the same as I approached previous liminal experience and retreats. Never worry about time. There is more than enough of it. The really scarce good is mindfulness

So when I present the fifth ritual account of the Arbatel Experience - this time of the Olympic Spirit of PHALEG - it's still with the same intent as a year ago. To share the entire journey with you, from start to finish, from stepping out into the lunar realm until we reach the spheres of Saturn some day. Feel free to join me or drop out whenever you wish. I guess, one of the privileges of the lone practitioner is that you can do everything just in your very own time.

Lou Reed never gets tired to mention in interviews that his latest album is the best he ever released. You might disagree, but who knows his standards? What I know for the Arbatel rites is that same is true for me: When I look at the ritual communions I had the chance to experience thus far I am utterly humbled. 

When I was a young teenager and set out on my occult path I always hoped - but never dared to assume - I could encounter magical experiences like these. They might be small to the degree of irrelevance compared to other practitioner's achievements these days. That's okay; it doesn't actually matter. Because we all know what matters: It's never how we compare to others. But how we enrich our own lives and the ones of others through the magic we are given.




Saturday, 10 December 2011

Killing the ghosts - or smile while you can


Over the course of the last weeks a friend of mine lost their job and relationship on a single day, our best friend couple split up after six years living and building a life together and a distant friend of mine lost a baby in her family. 

This made think about all the things we take for granted - and all the time we waste? We carry life around like a spark in a lamp through the dark - and forget so easily that every moment is a blessing, every encounter is grace and every second can bring the end. 

I guess we all have been given the highest good - and now just need to use it: The ability to use our powers for giving instead of taking. To put all our strength to the test of how much good it can create over a lifetime - rather than how high it can elevate us above others.

I once learned there are four feedback filters built into all of our minds from birth or at least from very early days. Once we can open up these filters, stop them from narrowing our perception of reality life will change dramatically to the good. 

Killing the ghosts - of all the things
we try to be for others
These four feedback filters are that we all strive to...
  • be right,
  • be in control,
  • look good and
  • be liked.

Because here is the thing: How many new things can you learn if you always have to be right? How many surprises can you encounter when your priority is to control? How much fun can you experience if your hair always needs to look perfect? And how few true emotions will you be able to express if you always need to be liked?

Well, so how do we stop worrying about us and start to really engage with the people around us? Not sure I have the answer. But I guess it all starts by being okay with being naked.

Here is a wonderful image Martin Buber used to describe what happens if we continously shy away from being naked - or keep our feedback filters up and running:

"Imagine two people sitting next to each other and talking with each other. Let's call them Peter and Paul. And let's count the shapes that come to play in this conversation: First of all there are Peter how he would like to appear to Paul and Paul how he would like to appear to Peter. Thereafter there is Peter how he truly appears to Paul. That is Paul's image of Peter - which in most cases will not at all align to the one desired by Peter - and vice versa. In addition there is Peter how he appears to himself and Paul how he appears to himself. In the end there is the physical Peter and the physical Paul. Two physical beings and six ghostly deceptive figures who engage in their conversation in various ways... Where if any would there remain space for the authenticity of true contact? Whatever truth may mean in other fields of studies, in the field of interpersonal contact it means that people communicate to each other as for what they truly are."
(Martin Buber, Elemente des Zwischenmenschlichen)

My friends, life is just so very short. And while we on our short path through it many bad things will happen. We will grow and evolve because of them, many scars will heal but their experience will be unpleasant still. So let's not add to them. Let's not make them more than they need to be anyway. Instead, let's give up give up on the three Evil C's... Let's give up on Comparing, on Competing and most of all on Conquering. 

Looking back into the last weeks I realized it's time to take off the clothes - just like we do in our magical circle - and to stand naked. Because how many moments do we have left to waste? 

Here is what I have been reminded of: Life needs to be stroked gently. Like the shell of an egg, like the fur of a cat, like the hair of a lover. Because all this power was given to us to learn how to stroke not to learn how to strike.



Saturday, 26 November 2011

Saturnian vs. Venusian Magic


Looking back into 2011 there is a single unexpected realization that stands out for me. It is the stark contrast in most basic approaches to magic between German and British magic over the last century at least. 
Having been brought up in the tradition of German magic it took me more than a decade to realize this simple fact: Where much of British magic revolves around a central pole of workings on the inner realms and bringing through of inner contacts we almost find a complete absence of this concept in the German language tradition.
Let me illustrate this point more clearly: within the works of Dion Fortune, W.G. Gray, Gareth Knight, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and certainly Josephine McCarthy we find a concentration on inner works that is nowhere to be encountered in German magic during the last 100 years. What represents at least one of the core elements in one culture's magical tradition is completely absent in the other. Where in British magic the actual physical ritual only seems to be an expression of inner magic which requires manifestation on the outer realms - it is the most basic physical building block in the world where I come from. 
Mistaking the physical ritual for the actual work you set out to do as a magician is no small mistake to make. And clearly German magicians didn't get caught in this trap entirely. Just like in the British magic literature from 1900 until today we also find in German books long and elaborated explanations of the physical, astral and mental realms (or whichever names the author chose to give them) and how the work of the mage can take effect on and influence all three levels.
However, traveling and working on the inner realms in the language of the inner realms is nothing I ever came across in German magic. Even Pathworking never really made it into the educational books of the tradition I come from. Instead building up your tratak skills, bending candle flames by willpower, torturing your eyes until you see a glimmering hint of an aura and spending countless hours painting pentagrams into the dark of a room with the brush of your index finger are the bricks and mortar laid by a solid German Zelator instead...   
Where is the magic - in controlling the solid
or evoking the subtle?
While all the latter exercises are great - and very common Golden Dawn related - training for an aspiring magician they run an essential risk if learned in isolation. And that is to mistake the tracks you are hunting for the actual animal. 

The risk is to become so self-obsessed with the actual training, with the skills you gain, the mental power they yield and the (self-)control you continuously expand that you start to mistake these powers for the goal of magic itself. The risk is to become so self-absorbed with these early yet important stages of magic that you never move on. Because at some point all the hours you sat quietly in your asana, all the magical techniques you taught yourself, all the mechanisms of astral control you perfected, they turn into metal plates on the armor you created for yourself - which now keep from interacting with the living. 
"The magician uses his faith like the surgeon his scalpel." Many German fellow magicians will have grown up with this (in)famous axiom just like yours truly. Positioning total conscious control as the ultimate goal of the magical process seemed like the only possible road ahead... However, this short saying speaks volumes about the technical approach German magic takes on working with spiritual beings still today. The inner or spiritual realm has been degraded to a hidden bypass for affecting changes on the material realm. It has lost any value or interest in itself, becoming nothing but a medium to change matter in accordance with one's will. 
To me - having been brought up in this tradition magically - there is no difference to the way the scientists treat a monkey in a box, molecules in matter or brain waves of a patient from the way such Saturnian mages treat beings on the inner realms. They thrive of and are driven by a scientific and highly analytical desire for knowledge and control over power. The danger, however, is that this type of magic easily turns into the equivalent of genetic engineering: Both spirits and matter lose their souls, their dignitiy as living beings and the basic right to self-determine their course of actions and way of lives. As magicians of this type we will constantly expand our knowledge and power, and yet always remain utterly isolated. (And no wonder we will need some proper sex magick in the higher degrees to come back to life...)
But let's return to the initial question. Why is it that the magic that emerged from the German circles of Mussallam, Quintscher, Bardon, Gregorius, Spie├čberger, Duval and ultimately Frater U.D. almost completely lost its inner sight and contact? Why exactly is it that the extensive corpus of German language magic - unpublished even in German still in large parts - is of such an extraordinary technical or Saturnian approach to ritual magic? 
Well, let's use our thinking like a scalpel - or sawed off shotgun to be more honest - and throw out a few hypothesis: 
  • It's not only since Goethe that the story of Faust represents the archetype of any magician in German collective consciousness. The uncompromising, relentless strive for knowledge and insight stands as the central motive of the father figure of many German magicians who followed Faust.
  • 1928 Eugen Grosche (Gregor A. Gregorius) founded the most influential German speaking magical lodge to this date, Fraternitas Saturnis. Still going mostly unrecognized and overshadowed by the O.T.O in English speaking countries this lodge became the home and breeding ground for most of the German magical literature to be published in the decades to come. As the name of the lodge indicates its members are united by a strictly Saturnian approach to magic (even though the planet Saturn finds its own interpretation and occult analysis in their works).
  • Since the early late 19th century we can see an unbroken chain of important women in English magic. However, here is a distinct and embarrassing absence of woman in the German language magical tradition. In the entire era before the 1970s there is not a single native woman to be found who would have left a mark on magic in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
  • From a spiritual point of view the Second World War left Germany as destroyed and concaved on the inner realms as its bombed cities on the surface. Not only was the German Jewish tradition completely irrecoverably and utterly destroyed but so were most of the occult currents that had flown openly in the short period from the late 19th century to the 1930s. It's not unlikely that many inner contacts retreated from the land after this devastating experience. 
Clearly there are many more elements that could be called out here. Just think of the general reputation of Germans as engineers. Maybe we just carried on with what we knew best when entering the inner realms? 
May this as it be; it is the last of the bullet point above that gives me the creeps... Just think of the photos from the bombed cities in Dresden, Munich, Berlin, etc. What if on a spiritual level the rebuilding has never been completed - and all the darkness of these years is still stuck within the land? How much further healing work will it take to restore this country back to the beauty it deserves? 
Well, I always like to close on a positive note. So maybe a first small step away from an entirely Saturnian approach to magic could look like this? Each time we engage in magic we have a choice. We can continue to take a Saturnian approach - just like we might be used to as German magicians. Or we can do something new and chose its opposite; for lack of a better word let's call it Venusian
As so often in life it's the bridge between these two poles that will allow new and living forces to come through...


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Simplify your Magic - or how to make dreams come true (part 2)


3) Clear out your altar. 

In magic every piece of natural substance is a vessel of spiritual force. In a world that delivers almost any spiritual artefact, substance or rare ingredient right in front of our doorsteps 24/7 our altars and homes can easily turn into Egyptian tombs filled with all sorts of dwellings of power... 

The difference though is that in Ancient Egypt every vessel was there for a reason, assigned to a specific deity, clearly confined in its dwelling and arranged in harmony with the objects around it. If you are skilled enough to achieve such a supreme level of inner consistency and spiritual harmony on your altar please disregard this tip. All others might want to consider to clear out their altars and homes of open and unguarded spirit vessels. Because if you don’t confine and assign them to specific beings they are an open invitation to whatever astral worms happen to crawl by looking for a place to feed of... 

Suggestion: In order to simplify your magic every object on your altar needs to be an expression of clear and present intend. Check your own skill level and determine how many vessels of present living force you can hold in your mind at the same time? Then get rid of all others. Bin them or wrap them in pure silk and store them away until it’s time for them to be filled and harvested.  

4) Allow time to work for you. 

In magic time can be perceived as a force that constantly creates patterns. These patterns can either be left to organize themselves or they can be leveraged as boundaries to our magical work. Time patterns are essentially cyclical. They tend to be organized around a central pole or theme. The season of the year revolve around the sun, the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon revolve around the earth and even a song revolves around a central theme... 

We can use these patterns of time to our advantage in magic. Our ancestors can teach us a lot about them... The first step, however, is to find out around which pole the patterns of your magical life revolve right now? 

Consciously leveraging cyclical patterns of time on your journey can be hugely beneficial: Significant power will flow from attuning your body and mind to a specific rhythm of actions. Perform a small devotional rite, a gesture or exercise each morning at the same time, then close the circle by repeating it at night. When successful, expand the rhythm to embrace a whole week. Open the week with one exercise and close it again seven days later. Then go on to embrace a month, a season and finally a year or whole period of your life.

Suggestion: In order to simplify your magic start working actively with the patterns of time. Establishing a central theme or pole around which a period of time can revolve around will allow nature to actively support your workings. Living in tune with the tides of time is both an act of passive devotion as well as of active engagement. Thus attuning your magic to a rhythm of cyclical works can become a significant catalyst to your work. 

5) Train your patience.

In magic we all remain students for a lifetime. That's why there is absolutely no need to rush through things. Remember the length of your journey as well as the fact that you encounter many experiences and rites only once on your path. 

How often is it that only looking backwards we realize how significant certain moments in the past were for who we became since then? Taking the time to be present and to allow the moment to last until it is truly over seems to have become a rare skill among adepts - myself included. Still, there is an intimate relationship between us and every moment of magic we experience. Someone once said to me: Maybe we are afraid to stay in the present moment because it would be both risky and erotic? If we only allowed it to it would capture all our senses like a lover and start engaging with us like a living being... 

One way of developing this crucial skill can be to keep a list of all the wonderful ideas, sparks and innovations about your magic to come. Yet not to allow them to distract yourself from the work you are already involved in. Some might capture such a list at the end of their magical diaries. Others might write each idea down, then put it in an envelope and send it to themselves in order to be stored away until the time is right.

Suggestion: in order to simplify your magic allow yourself to be patient with the work you are carrying out. In magic just in life things will go downhill once we try to speed up the harvest. Just look at all the chemical fertilizers that pollute our land... Considering the length of your lives journey the moments where it takes true powerful magic to be performed will be special and rare. Seed these moments with patience and care. Then wait for them to unfold and help the seedlings to turn into trees.

::

Well, I thought about one more thing for this post. Yet, rather than another way to simplify magic it seems to be more of an underlying principle that holds true for all 5 steps above?

If I had to give it a name I'd call it: Safe energy. Avoid standbys. Actually it is just the same principle we are already being told over and over again by the green eco-movement: When leaving the house ensure the heater is off, the radio is out, the lights are switched off and - most important of all - all electronic devices with a standby button are fully unplugged. 

Standby clearly is one of the most stupid ideas ever invented in technology - looking simple and clean on the surface yet swallowing huge amount of resources in the background. However, just as we often fail to recognize this when dealing with technical devices we often miss that the same principle doesn't get any better if we apply it to our everyday lives...

Once we have set a magical act into motion it deserves to be finished. At all costs. Every circle opened deserves to be closed. If we think we can put this process on standby we might be surprised to find that in magic things tend to take on a life of its own if left to themselves... In which case the line of a circle might become the beginning of a maze - or even worse - the strap around your neck.

May the serpent always bite its tail.  





Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Simplify your Magic - or how to make dreams come true (part 1)


For a start let's consider this: each new thing we chose to buy is a new friend we invite to live with us. A new friend who moves in with us and for whom we should care. Each thing we acquire has a right to lead a life of its own. It will dwell with us in our house and be around us for years - wether its a pair of shoes, new cutlery, a DVD or a book. Each choice comes with a commitment: to take ownership, to be present and to provide support. 

I guess in the long run consumption can turn out to be much more work than we think? If we don't watch it closely at some point it will lead to a house full of friends... and with almost no space left for ourselves. 

Earlier this year I shared a post about Less Creation, more Integration. The last months came with some very interesting and pretty painful lessons. Yet they taught me how to  simplify my magic.

Here is the basic choice: if you dream small you will be okay with doing a lot of small things at the same time. Small things have the tendency to be okay with other small things around them. It might get a bit messy in your living room or life at some point. But then small things are quick to clean up or to throw away, to finish off or to start afresh... 

If, however, you tend to dream big you will either a) have a lot of big dreams at the same time and achieve none or b) painfully learn how to focus your energy, attention and creativity. 

This as well as the following posts in this small series is written for all magicians who fall under the latter category. Or to be more precise, for all the ones who think they fall under the latter, but on close observation aren't really quite there yet... like yours truly. 

The beauty as well as the challenge with big dreams is that it takes a lot of work to turn them into reality. Nothing more but also nothing less: solid, pure, raw, hard work. Everything is possible if we can concentrate our energy long enough. Actually, this is how we get the most from the energy that will be given to us over a life-time: purely by focussing it, by simplifying everything else around it and by keeping it concentrated on the next adjacent big goal on our life's journey. For as long as it takes.

At the end of the day we have all the freedom we can imagine. Everything is and can be possible. As long as we can concentrate our energy, attention and creativity long enough. And keep it focussed until our dream or magic is fulfilled.

Here are a few things that can take some of the pain out of this learning process. Consider it a 'blister pad' on your life's journey towards your own pure, raw and beautiful form of magic. It could be much more than that - but the reality is we only turn so much into action of what we read on blogs in a day... Either way, some big magical dreams might come true from it eventually. Chances are high they won't without...

:: SIMPLIFY YOUR MAGIC ::

1) Focus your devotion. 

In magic the power source of all our actions is limited: it is the determined intend with which we untertake our rites. In a world where everything promises instant access and gratification the word commitment sounds old-fashioned and is something we easily get unused to...  So let me take the opposite view: If you approach your magical life like a series of one night stands how much commitment will that evoke in the the spirits you work with? 

Even if for a short period of our lives only - a series of months, a series of weeks - every magical rite deserves to be fueled by our complete devotion at that particular point in time. Just like a woman can only be pregnant with one father’s child at any point in time. When we set out to work with the land, the ancestors, a certain rank of spirits they all equally deserve our full devotion. Our intent is the womb and our body is the athanor through which our magical offsprings are born. It's our choice that decides how 'intact' they will enter this world. 

Suggestion: In order to simplify your magic focussing your devotion can be a great first step. If your heart’s intend was a compass where does its needle point towards - and how stable will it be once you set in motion to get there?

2)  Plan with the end in mind. 

In magic a lot has been said and written about our True Will. The compass needle of our heart’s intend is just another word for it. If you are advanced enough on your journey, if your inner listening skills have developed sufficiently this point to simplify your magic will be of little use to you. For all others like me it is crucial. 

Despite all the talking about our True Will little has been written on how to actually discover it - practically and hands-on I mean. For me I discovered it on my journey almost by accident and - like with a broken radio - still lose the signal ever so often. The voice I hear is crackling and fades in and out all the times, different speakers overlap... But at least I know where to find the radio and am learning how to tune it. Finding it, however, was a pure by-product of the rites I undertook. 

So until you have found and learned to listen to it you need something else that helps you identify the right course of action... Why? Because to start with we all need to cut a path through the fickle voices of our everyday desires, our ego-wishes, our dreams of power and public prominence and the barricades and barriers put up by our own guardians of the  threshold. The blade that cuts through all of this is called determination

I guess that's the paradox every learner has to experience themselves: until you find that place where your heart speaks in truth you cannot trust your inner voices. So to escape the maze of inner voices you will need to set a clear path - and then simply follow it. 

Suggestion: In order to simplify your magic planning with the end in mind is hugely helpful. Once you have set your course be determined to work through all steps necessary, one by one, come what might to get to your goal. Just like in life in magic you are entitled to nothing until you have earned it.


:: to be continued ::

   

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Work of the Hierophant - The Foolishness of the Neophyte


Last week I read Josephine McCarthy’s ‘The Work of the Hierophant’. The book explains in great detail how to set up and run a magical lodge. A lodge that is well connected to the inner realms and balanced by the two currents of divine and chthonic energies emerging from the veil beyond and the depths within the Abyss. 

...enter the adventure here.
I guess there aren't many books out there who go on to explain this process in such clarity and transparency, step by step, chapter by chapter? To be honest, I actually don't think there is any other book out there that even touches on what happens in the inner realms when forming or re-awakening a magical lodge with such a precision? And this is what makes this book exactly the type of literature you want to keep away from magicians who are still inexperienced in working actively in the inner realms. Magicians who still life their lives according to the simple principle of 'stay hungry, stay foolish'. Magicians who believe that nothing bad can happen to them as long as they remain curious, full of positive intent and empowered by their love for all things living... That's right: magicians like me.  

If you don't, though, and hand this book over to magicians who are really Neophytes of the Inner Realms a couple of interesting things will happen. Well to be frank, more accurately we can call these events for what they really are: painful mistakes. Here are few that happened to me...

First mistake: I guess we all have come across books that feel so real while reading them that we actually think we are doing the work described while swallowing the words that describe it. Big mistake. We are not doing the work until we do it. At some point we all have to learn that there is a painfully real difference between inspiration and skill, between commitment and competence.

Holding a great book in our hands that takes our mind on a journey hidden in its pages can easily blur the line between experience and imagination. It might evoke the impression as if the work described in it is taking place in this very moment. I guess this is the natural effect all movies and novels feed off? Yet it is clearly not real: Imaging the inner realms is different from acting in them. It's different like the echo from the spoken word, like the living form from the image in a mirror, like the pleasure of a fire-side story from the fear of the present moment. An experienced crime-novel reader doesn't make a good detective necessarily. 

Many before me have called this the difference between an armchair-magician and the price of real field studies... But let's consider this: When encountering a book like Josephine's we can utterly enjoy it as magical theory only. We can enjoy it as what it is: stories of other people's experiences handed on to us. We don't need to strive to make these our experiences. Unless we want to - and unless we are ready to pay the price. If you read the 'Bourne Identity' as a recipe for a successful life it's pretty clear what you will get. If you read a book like Josephine's as instructions for your own magical practice the road ahead is equally open and clear... it will take a toll.

What I am trying to say is - 'The Work of the Hierophant' shows us a hidden path through the maze of how to set up and run a magical lodge in the inner realms, how to build the astral fundament, the chapels and altars of the inner temple, how to form the vessel of the egregore and how to use angelic beings to construct forms and shapes that are both living and sheltering life. I guess many of us have searched for this knowledge for a long time... Yet, the fact that fate opened the window shutter to a forbidden room doesn't mean we are ready to open its door and walk right in. We always have a choice.

Second mistake: Let's assume the above was unknown to a magician like yours truly. What's next? Well, if you don't get the difference between commitment and competence you will assume that the love for riding a bike will make you instantly able to do so. Unfortunately working in the inner realms isn't exactly like riding a bike. Or maybe it is? But it kind of hurts more if you fall...


Having read through two thirds of the book I sat down and went into the inner realms. If Josephine's instruction kit on how to create temples on the inner realms really worked there must be plenty of temples around to visit? That's right - I had visited the physical remains of the ancient temples in Greece, Turkey, Persia and the Roman Empire. Why not visit what was left of their astral power-houses on the other side? So I set out and roamed through the desert that stretches between the Abyss and the River of Death. After a while I found a temple buried under sand. Only a small entrance at the very top had remained open - and I jumped right in.

What I found underneath during two subsequent visits was impressive. Huge dark halls arranged around a central eight-sided pyramid, containers of energy that glistened like gold, shining surfaces that were covered in moving sigils, walls that were build from a strange organic substance and a 'discussion hall' that contained an oversized harp which could be played by moving your body through it... Until I evoked the temple guardian and he kicked me out.

Some of you might have read my earlier post about the first journey to the city of the ziggurat? The story where I take over the body of one of my ancestors and just possess her? Well, I am getting familiar to the fact my manners in the astral realm aren't what they should be. They actually really suck.

Being thrown out by the temple guardian was a strange thing to experience. First of all I had never encountered any being so huge like this one. The difference between theory and practice, between inspiration and skill became painfully real at this point. He grabbed my astral form - I was shielded by the body of my angel - and in a blast of energy blew me out of the central tunnel through which I had accessed the temple. For a moment I was dancing on top of the beam of energy, like a drop on top of a fountain of water...

It was only later that day the tides turned and the related emotions were released into my body, like ice melting into water... I was laying in bed for hours that night, looking at strange visions behind closed eyes, painfully nervous for no obvious reason. The force of the energy blast had remained with me and now took its toll on my nerves: all my inner senses were irritated and tried to shield themselves against a thread that had long withdrawn into the depth of the temple under the sand. And quite successfully the guardian ensured that I wouldn't return and disturb the silence of the temple and shining walls and the instrument that played melodies on being touched by light... You wouldn't want to share such a space with strangers, would you?

Third mistake: As all of this has happened quite recently only I cannot give you much more at this point. Except for one thing that dawned on me when I got up this morning. Once you have opened the door and failed, once you have fallen off your bike and bruised your knees, the only reasonable thing to do is to get back on your bike right away. Well, maybe to get some more help first and then get back on your bike... 

Having run into two obvious mistakes after reading Josephine's wonderful book I still have a chance to avoid this third one: Assuming that the difference between commitment and competence can be closed in a single attempt. Cause here is what will hold true always - wether we work on the inner realms, try to learn how to ride a bike or build a romantic relationship that actually lasts: the difference between inspiration and skill is called 'try again'. The only thing that lies between a magician and a fool is time as well as the continuous courage to keep on learning...

Once I heard someone express exactly this in a wonderful sentence about what he called 'development courage'. I looked it up again and here it is... Isn't it wonderful how the same rules apply wether we roam the outer or inner realms? If we manage not to be afraid of our own fears, if we only manage not to be afraid to lose, to change and to transition life will be such a wonderful journey.

"Someone with Developmental Courage values learning more than comfort. That means they are willing to risk public failure, deep frustration, and the repeated hopelessness of being at wit’s end all in the name of building new skills, awareness and knowledge."



Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Spirit Contact Cycle - or what makes magic an 'Afterwissenschaft'

I guess reading this blog entry will take you about 10 min give or take. That is enough to hear this wonderful tune at least twice in the background if you like... At the end of the day wonderful Mrs Feist and I are saying just the same. She obviously in much nicer words. 

::

The Spirit Contact Cycle originally came to life as a model to illustrate how humans engage with each other and their environment in the 1970s. Its core value lies in the fact that it describes all conscious and subconscious stages that need to be passed through in order to create vibrant and satisfying contact. Derived from that it also was a great model to explain all sort of things that can - and tend to - go wrong while we pass through these stages... Since its creation by Zinker in the 1970s it thus became one of the key models in Gestalt Therapy - and this is also where I got to know it from. 

Click here for the full article on
'The Spirit Contact Cycle'
But why do I share this here - or went through the work to write in length about it on myoccultcircle.com? Well, this has two reasons essentially. One personal and one, well how do call it best?, maybe epistemological... 

As I know this will be easier let's start with the latter: Ludwig Blau in his seminal work on ancient Jewish magic "J├╝disches Zauberwesen" (1898) used the term 'Afterwissenschaft' (anus-science) to refer to magic and sorcery in a highly derogative way. Wether we like it or not, he probably had a point there? What Blau criticized with this term were two ideas mainly: 
  • First of all it was the fact that the fundamental approach of magic is to create connection between ideas and objects by use of 'sympathetic means', i.e. analogies and correspondences. As the identification of these analogies doesn't follow any scientific standards (but mythical and spiritual principles at best) it is a deeply flawed approach from a scientific perspective.
  • Secondly, since it very early days magic has the tendency to absorb and amalgamate ideas, practices and artifacts from various cultures, times and fields of study into their very much bastard-born approaches. While this might be considered the pinnacle of pragmatism it also needs to be considered highly unscientific again. 

It was in light of these points that Blau - and many other scholars after him - termed magic an 'Afterwissenschaft'. Well, let's call that fair enough. Because the real point is that no practicing magician would argue against that. Call it whatever you want - being agnostic about where things come from and focussing on the results they can produce together - that sounds like an awful good approach to me? Tearing down the paper-walls between school of thoughts and paradigms, sciences and arts as well as ancient cultures and today's spiritual practices might create a mess in your living room. It might look like a bomb exploded or a your children had another party in your favorite study room. Yet it keeps everyone involved from becoming anal - and it would have never born the poisonous idea of 'purity' of concepts, school of thoughts and races ultimately... 

So what does that have to do with the Spirit Contact Cycle? Well, this model is exactly the type of bastard that has always earned the scorn of anal scholars and scientists alike: It's mother Gestalt Therapy, it's father a Ritual Magician. They met at night and lay on a bed of grass when the child was conceived; and a few months later it was born behind a barn in the fields. The mother was horrified by its look - so much not like her - turned away and left it alone. The father was never to be seen, busily working in the barn that he had converted into a temple, no time for his former lover or any offsprings... So let's find a home for this little thing and bring it back to where it belongs: right in the middle between humans and spirits.

I also mentioned there was a personal reason to share this lovely bastard child of my two favorite passions. This reason, however, is not so lovely after all.

When I first learned about the Contact Cycle in a Gestalt context I learned that every contact starts with becoming aware of an unconscious sensual impulse. This can be as simple as realizing that we actually are hungry, angry, sad, tired - anything - before this impulse builds up unconsciously and erupts in uncontrolled emotions or actions. The starting point and fundament for any healthy contact - I learned - was to be open, sensitive and aware to what is going on within us right now. Not to what we think or want to go on, but what is actually happening in our bodies, hearts and minds without our conscious interference right now...

It immediately dawned on me that I had spent the better part of the last decade to develop the magical equivalent of this ability: the skill to become more sensitive and aware to the things that were going on in the inner or astral realms around me. Like many of us I had spent years practicing asanas, meditations, trataka exercises, rituals and kabbalistic prayers - all aimed to increase my spiritual awareness and ability to determine what was going on around me in the invisible realm right now.

Over these years I had made some progress. While I clearly didn't land where I had hoped to - or where Bardon and alike suggested I should land - after more than 10 years I could now at least hear spirits when they were standing right in front of me screaming at me in full voice. I could also feel a slight itching when they slapped me in the face or - more appropriately - a growling nervousness in my stomach when they kicked me in the guts for weeks. So after all the spirits and I were in contact and started to have nice conversations. 'Nice' in the sense of a Caspar Hauser-like idiot stepping out into the sunlight for the very first time and inviting the first run-down pedophile he met on the streets for an afternoon tea... Not very smart but at least unafraid to get hurt.

That part, however, was the part I was okay with. What was not okay with me was when I realized that I had spent all these years training my astral senses to become more subtle and aware. But in doing so I had completely fucked up my physical senses to become better trained in things that happened around me on a plain social level...

While I considered myself a Neophyte at training my astral senses I had run into the completely wrong direction on a physical level for years. On an interpersonal level I wasn't in the vestibule of the temple, I was in a completely different part of the city! 

To be quite honest, this painful insight only dawned on my during recent weeks. Only then did I realize how often I get defensive or aggressive still in front of loved ones. Not because they or the conversations deserve it, but because I don't take care of myself well enough. And the reason why I don't is simply because I haven't learned how to do it... being so occupied with magic, rituals and astral ascension didn't leave me enough time to realize when I am hungry, sad, tired or simply incredibly exhausted.

This is clearly not the person, not the lover or magician I set out to become. And it was the Spirit Contact Cycle that helped me realize this truth. 

This is why I have written and am sharing this article with you. To share what has and is helping me and hopefully to contribute another little bit of waste to our wonderful 'Afterwissenschaft'.

::

What a wonderful life - when we have both musicians and spirits accompanying us, always finding the right words for what we are trying to say...

Secret heart
What are you made of
What are you so afraid of
Could it be
Three simple words
Or the fear of being overheard
What's wrong

Let em' in on your secret heart

Secret Heart
Why so mysterious
Why so sacred
Why so serious
Maybe you're
Just acting tough
Maybe you're just not man enough
What's wrong

Let em' in on your secret heart

This very secret
That you're trying to conceal
Is the very same one
That You're dying to reveal
Go tell them how you feel

Secret heart come out and share it
This loneliness, few can bear it
Could it have something to do with
Admitting that you just can't go through it alone?

Let em' in on your secret heart

This very secret
That you're trying to conceal
Is the very same one
That you're dying to reveal
Go tell them how you feel
This very secret heart

Go out and share it
This very secret heart



Feist - Secret Hearts

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Allowing magic to do its magic - or learning through absence

These days I am still learning a lot of lessons on the nature of Tiphareth and the Olympic Spirit of Och (Sun). After conducting the Arbatel Ritual for Och in July I shared some thoughts on the direct aftermaths in a post back in August. Overall it has been three months now during which I have been working through the impact of that single rite - emotionally, mentally and on the material realm. 

As I am getting closer to integrating the forces of Tiphareth into my daily life and setting out to prepare for the next Arbatel Ritual I want to share something that turned out to be a major learning while going through this experience.

It's an insight into how the spirits or planetary forces I engage with teach me about their actual nature and mode of action. Maybe this is just the way it works for me or maybe it is something that turns out to be helpful in your own practice? Either way, the question is: If we look at live outside of our temples what is nature's way to integrate new spiritual forces into our life and consciousness?

Here are the two cents experience taught me: a new and yet unconscious force is best taught through experiencing its opposite. That means the modus operandi of any force we haven't come to consciously recognize yet is best taught by its complete absence. 

Only when we are hungry do we understand the essential nature of food. And once we are lonely and isolated, we immediately understand the nature of companionship and partnership. Many of us only when they are at war do understand the value of peace. And only once our spouse has left us for good do we recognize the true value and beauty of the relationship we have lost... 

A spirit teacher I found on a wall in
East London (early 2011)
The same principle applies in magic: if we ask to be taught a certain force or create relationship with a spirit being our journey might kick off at the exact opposite end. This opposing experience creates a void of the force we aimed to relate to - and it is this void that is realized by our conscious. It is the void that teaches us about the space and function this force normally holds in our lives. By taking away what we take for granted we dissolve the blind spot and gain consciousness.

Here is the thing: grey isn't a good teacher to understand the dynamics of light. We need a high contrast of dark against light to truly understand the dimension and dynamics of these polar forces.

It was in this way that I got to learn about the forces of Hagith (Venus): I was taught the value of life by the experience of illness. The ability to share love as long as we are sustained by the spring of our physical health was taught to me by drying up this well and showing me how fickle the fundament of my love had been built...

The same principle applied over recent months during my OCH experience: Once you take away any direction or goals in your life all rush and urge to control subsides. What emerged initially was a deeply felt fear of being lost and at the end of my magical tether (i.e. the opposite experience of what people would call Sun-related forces).

Once I had given this force room for contact and experience, however, what followed was hubris. From one end of the dimension I was lured to the other: moments of grandiosity. Thoughts that once the winds returned I could set my sails completely anew and travel anywhere I wanted, set and achieve any goals I chose freely... (i.e. experience of the force what people would call Sun-related forces, yet still imbalanced or distorted by my Ego).

It took me a couple of weeks to allow these thoughts to pass through me. I needed to accept them, yet not to identify with them. The only way to do this was not trying to control them, but to welcome them like passing boats on a river, like birds visiting a dovecote or foreign animals passing through the forest of my mind... Non-idenfitifcation.

After a while a third stage followed. This was when I understood that it is not me at all who sets any goals - neither in life nor in magic. That on entering the Sun, on stepping into the burning fire of continuously new born life I had turned myself into a mean through which forces higher than myself could work. That entering the centre of life hadn't come with more or a new direction of power, but with a request to me for complete service.

So here I am - deeply humbled by the experience and still stupid but a bit smarter than before. I now know that unfamiliar forces are taught to us by use of their opposites. And I know how much time, patience and openness it takes to move from initial contact to full integration. It's the journey of a lifetime.

On a final note, I found that my old passion for syncretism was rewarded once again. By not caring about how useful resources had come to me - through friends, books, Gestalt, magic, work or any other open source - I had found a wonderful crutch to support my little brain in understanding what was actually going on with me...

Take a look at the picture below and take a moment to follow the sequence of steps. What you see is a slightly amended form of Zinker's Contact Cycle. It shows a wonderful model to help us understand how we move from initial sensation to contact and finally integration. While this model had been developed as part of Gestalt Therapy it completely reflects the experience we go through when engaging with and getting to know new spiritual entities.

Life simply doesn't care wether we go through an encounter with our neighbor next door, with an ancestor from a previous life or with an entitiy high up or low the eternal chain beings. Every encounter is an invitation to adventure.


The Gestalt Contact Cycle from Zinker (adopted). Apologies for the
low resolution of the picture. I am working on a full article on this
model to be published on www.myocculticircle.com.
Thank for your patience.