Sunday, 30 January 2011

How to Create Magickal Entities...

Thanks for your feedback on the recent Glyph of the Moon article. I understand that the actual technique has become more clear than its practical application. Point taken. That's why yesterday I decided to create a second page on the topic and to share an example of the use of a sigil from the Glyph of the Moon.

You can find the full article now online on in the Circles section. 

click here for full article
The example chosen to illustrate the use of the technique is a couple of years old; back then I experimented with creating a magickal entity as a guardian for my temple. My former teacher had used this technique quite successfully. His temple was located in a remote forest, hidden in a cave he dug himself. The biggest threads to this temple were a) the water ingress after heavy rainfalls when drainages stopped working or b) the curiosity of wild animals and huntsmen. While the entity created as a temple guardian couldn't help much in the former situations, it proved to be a wonderful companion in the latter. Inspired by his stories I decided to create my own version of such an entity. Not in use in a remote forrest, but on the hallway of my London flat back then...  

Well, I guess the beauty of any blog is that there is no such thing as digression? It just is perfectly fine to move from story to story and thought to thought... what a special place! So here are two cents on the history of using magickal entities as placeholders for yourself:

The tradition of such undertakings goes all the way back to Egypt - and probably even further than that. As one of the many examples to be found in the magickal tradition of Egypt we can take the magickal use of Ushabtis. These were representatives of a deceased person in the form of small figures which were placed into the tomb together with the dead person. The application of the Ushabtis was completely practical: it was believed that the deceased - once and if they reached the afterworld - would encounter the same tasks as in this world. Water had to be carried, sand had to be shoveled, houses needed building, animals needed feeding... you get it. Similarly one was expected to encounter the same social hierarchies as in this life. So the purpose of the Ushabtis was to be able to delegate all low labor tasks. If the afterworld-Pharaoh approached you to fetch water from the Nile or help building his new pyramid, he would not realize if you sent your Ushabti instead of yourself... The Ushabti was an astral double of yourself specifically created for an individual task. 
An army of Ushabtis
image source)

Thus in many cases high ranking people carried several hundreds of Ushabtis with them into their tombs. The numbers of authentic antique Ushabtis have remained so high to these days that you can actually buy them on ebay for very little money... In later times their use evolved and the shape of an Ushabti - complete with the name of the deceased person and the task it was dedicated for - was simply drawn on parchment. I guess, if someone had given these guys a laptop and a printer, God knows they would have put it to use it for their magick!

Thousand five hundred years later we still encounter the same tradition in the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe where the creation of Golems formed an essential part of their living magickal lore. Aryeh Kaplan has revealed the details of this technique and the use of the 231 Gates in his expanded version of the Sefer Yetzirah.

Fast forward another few hundred years and we find the use of astral doubles integrated into modern Chaosmagick combat approaches such as in the teachings of Frater V.'.D.'., who even introduced the term of 'Doppelgänger-Magic'*. In this specific form of combat magic the magician creates an astral double of himself and shields his own energetic field; thus any magickal attack will mistake his astral double for himself. 

In essence the technique of the Ushabtis still seems very much alive after all these years... They only changed professions from shoveling sand and building afterworld pyramids to taking the punches for us... Well, not exactly what I call a career - which leads me back to the question on how we should treat the spirits; even the ones we created ourselves.   

I hope the additional article helps to further elucidate the powerful talismanic technique of the Glyph of the Moon and its practical application. In case you have more questions, just leave a post here or get in touch at

* for further reading see the German article by Frater V.·.D.·., „Spaltungsmagie. Der Doppelgänger als magisches Faktotum“, in: UNICORN, H. 2 Lammas 1982, S. 79-81

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

On (tearing down) the house of gods

On their recent podcast on Occult of Personality Alkistis Dimech from Scarlet Imprint said the wonderful sentence: "My understanding of witchcraft is completely coming from my body. (...) This is the space of witchcraft for me." I think that is a very provocative thought - especially for men who aren't necessarily used to working with their bodies in the same way as women. So I sat down and needed to mediate about it. Here is what I found...

When I started meditation a decade ago I learned that the relationship between our mind and body should be like a rider and his horse. The horse is powerful and beautiful in its own way, yet in order to be able to ride it the horse needs to accept direction and pacing from the rider. While the horse needs to be tamed, this can only be achieved if the rider learns the language of horses. The goal of their relationship is a state of balance - both accepting and nurturing each other's strengths and needs.

I like this analogy a lot and it did help me get through my initial phases of asanas. The break through finally occured when my horse accepted that not all of its desires had to be fulfilled right now. It learned that time for movement and time for stillness take organic turns... just like the tides. 

While 'Horse and I' are doing quite good these days, I also had to learn that in reality the relationship with our body is much more complex unfortunately... Our body might look like a single shape, yet once we get under its skin we discover it holds a plethora of smaller bodies unified into one large form. And if we listen to these bodies we quickly learn there is not one desire or need but hundreds and millions: The desire of my heart might vary significantly from the desire of my pelvis, the desire of my skin might conflict with the desire of my blood... The challenge of the rider is much larger than just riding a single horse. Learning how to ride simply is the first step. The next one is to be a good shepherd for a whole flock of horses... 

Now, here is how I think this second phase can be approached. 

In a recent post I referenced the Neoplatonic idea of 'sympathetic chains'. Each chain starting at the first emanation of the Universal Soul and then extending downwards - through multiple levels of emanations and beings - into the lower realms of creation until they anchor in the four elements. That means they also anchor straight into our bodies.

These chains of spirits come together in our physical bodies like roads leading into a city. And in this city it has lots of different residents and passengers - most of them unknown to us. The Egyptians clearly knew this when they called the body 'the house of gods'. But the Egyptians also had a talent for covering the ugly truth behind beautiful names. If you are ready to wake up, take this: Most of our houses of gods resemble more rundown suburbs or proper slums than a dwelling for gods.... It's more like NYC in the late eighties. A wonderful place - which is in really bad shape. Well, consider yourself happy, because  you are the major.

I know - we'd all rather be a king than a major and clean up the hard way. Bring trucks and police in, get the waste and dirt out, polish over the cracks, find investors... you get it, the whole gentrification thing. But here is the bad news - we are no kings, but majors in this run down place. And there are no trucks, no police forces and no investors. There is nobody except for us - and the bedraggled citizens of our body-city. It seems our city won't be cleaned up like it happened to NYC, in a tough top-down manner... But It will take true leadership to get anything moving in your favor.
So what does any good leadership start with? ( - long pause -) I guess  that would be two things: trust and fairness. 

Trust, that would come from knowing your citizens, from listening and being approachable, from not placing yourself above them but from leading from the front... When was the last time we went into our liver's borough? Or we listened to the muscles in our shoulders singing from the gutter? Or visited our lungs and skin and skull in the asylum? I guess they are all citizens in our city - and they all have a voice that counts... Fairness in this case means not to favor one citizen or borough over the other, to leave our own preferences out of consideration when we take decisions. It means paying attention to the needs of our gut in the same way as to the needs of our hearts or teeth or eyes... 

Think about it and you'll see - this job is a handful! It is something that takes learning. I guess we all will need to grow into it, slowly over time. Well, most of us haven been elected for something between 60 and 90 years as majors... Of course, that is if our people don't start a revolution and take over before - or just tear down the city completely.

If that should ever happen to you - I guess you still were a major who thought of himself as a king and tried to bring in the trucks and SWATs... As Alkistis Dimech explains in the final chapter of XIV:

"It is witchcraft which can destroy the Tower, turn over the social order and throw kings from the battlements. Opposed to an external coercive authority, I see witchcraft being spun from the body, the true pole around which the dance of life and death circles."

XIV - Briging Down The House Of God - link

Monday, 24 January 2011

High Voltage for your Talismans

There is a little known talismanic technique for charging your talismans (or yourself!) with an exponential level of energy. The reason why this technique is still almost unknown today is because it only has been published twice: once 1928 without any textual explanation and again 1971 with a more elaborate analysis of its use and application. However, both publications are in German language and I couldn't find any reference to it in English literature yet.

The technique originated from the inner lodge materials of the OTO and later the Fraternitas Saturnis. Over several years I have successfully worked with this technique - and needed to tame the energies it created for clients on several occasions. That's why when I call it 'high voltage' it's to emphasize the source of power and risk it gives access to in equal terms...

You can find the full instructions on how to create a sigil from this technique - called the Glyph of the Moon - in this article:

Handle with care - and enjoy the ride!

Example of a talisman constructed
 from the Glyph of the Moon

Saturday, 22 January 2011

On the demons (or teachers?) within us

A few weeks back we had a pretty intense three day session of Gestalt-Therapy training. During one of the training sessions I realized some interesting parallels between the emotional state one of the group members was going through and the way the qliphothic forces of Tiphareth work, Tagimron.

What happened to him was - in a nutshell - that he struggled to accept beauty in the simple and straight forward way it presented itself to him. He was in love with a woman he recently got to know and showed all the obvious signs of being in love... Yet, when left to reflect on this experience he started to question his feelings and became entangled in an inner dispute on whether to accept his love as real or not. The translation of the Qliphoth Tagimron is 'The Disputers' and their nature is to inhibit or destroy the experience of beauty, as in a state of inner union with ones feelings. As I mentioned in the article On The Nature of the Qliphoth "they can take shape in any force that creates confusion rather than fusion of heart and mind" - and this is exactly what happened to the member of the group.

Or was it? While reflecting on it later that evening I realized the same symptoms could have been evoked by a blocked heart chakra, or his astrological Sun and Venus being overshadowed by Saturn or Pluto, or by a lack of Prithivi (earth) tattwa energy that failed to ground his mind in his body...

The many spirit faces to chose from...
here: the eight most servant pygmies
 from Dr. Faustus Vierfacher Höllenzwang,
in Scheible, Das Kloster, Vol.5) 
Finally I realized that the cupboard of magickal spirit models has so many drawers it seems easy to get lost in it? Does a blocked access to my own emotions stems from a lack of water energies in my body, does it represent a negative influence of Venus or maybe a state of over-charging Saturn influences? Is it due to a decane rulership that is currently activated in my horoscope or is it truly the influence of a Qliphoth such as Golohab? To be honest, I felt a little over-equipped with magickal spirit tools and needed to take a different approach.

I found it by taking a little philosophical detour... Plotin, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, the compilers of the Picatrix and many other sources explain that the influence of spirits on creation is organized in so called 'chains' (seirai in Greek). Theodor Hopfner in his wonderful introduction to the 1933 German edition of the Picatrix provides an elaborate and very insightful summary of this idea - which is likely to suffer from my English translation, but anyway here it is:

The characteristic of this form of Neoplatonism is that the emanations of the upper world are connected to the ones of the lower world by intermediate beings; the higher the gradation of these beings the more they resemble the character of demons and gods; yet the more they unite with physical matter the more they appear as spiritual forces asleep in all animals, plants, stones and all other creatures of nature. (...) We clearly see from the (teachings of the) Lauteren Brüder that the forces of the universal soul are changing their faces and that they can be perceived as forces, or angels of God, or spirits, or even Pneumata (depending on the level of emanation they are encountered at).
(Theodor Hopfner (ed.), Picatrix - Das Ziel der Weisen, 1933 p.xxvii)

Thus the Gods are the first emanation of the Universal Soul, each creating a sympathetic chain of their particular nature and influence reaching downwards into the lower spheres of creation. Ultimately each divine chain anchors in the four elements and thus becomes efficacious in all things created from these. If we follow this philosophy of nature than finding the right spirit to deal with a particular problem isn't a matter of an individual name or class. Instead it becomes a matter of identifying the right 'sympathetic chain' which is related to the forces in question. Once the chain is identified it is on us to chose on which level - or chain link - we decide to work. 

Well, who exactly is
teaching to whom?
So a problem that was generally identified to be related to an over-charging of fire, could be addressed on any link of the sympathetic chain related to the theme of fire. This approach opens a wide array of equally opportune possibilities to work with the matter at hands. Rather than finding the 'right or wrong remedy' it now is a question of which level or link of the chain is most accessible and easiest to work with for me... 

Obviously the higher we climb in the chain the more powerful and far-reaching the forces we work with become. A tattwa journey to meet the elementary ruler of fire is a very different approach than a ritual for Mars or a demonic evocation of the Golohab. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages which need to be examined in light of two main criteria: the nature and dimension of the problem at hands as well as the skills and expertise of the magician affected.

So rather than identifying the 'one and only' solution to the problem at hand - let's look for the teacher who can help us identifying the smallest possible improvement, the most simple next step we can take right now. Here are some choices: 

  • Your week is busy and you need to travel, so a Tattwa journey might be a great start as tattwa cards easily travel with you
  • Or maybe you have a vacation coming up and really want to dig into it - so a planetary rite or an evocation of the Qliphoth could be re-balancing act you need
  • Or maybe you feel exhausted and strained by the problem already, you didn't take action early on - then a refreshing bath and a night of rest and sleep in your temple under the incense clouds of herbs related to the problem might be a good choice
  • Or maybe you are just starting your magickal journey and these things sound tempting but out of reach for now - well, find a therapist or astrological consultant and start by opening up to someone competent you really trust

I guess what I am learning is... When working with our inner demons we rarely have a single partner to work with. But we are surrounded by sympathetic chains of spirit forces - familiar and unfamiliar, accessible and inaccessible, sympathetic and not so sympathetic ones. Yet, each of them has advise for us, none of them being right or wrong - but all of them being true and authentic in their own way. They all present an open hand - some smooth and some rough - for us to overcome the limitations we are facing... It is us who chose the teacher within us.
The demon Beulus kindly offering some flowers
to a magician in need of a teacher... or not?

(from Scheible, Doct. Iohannis Fausti Magiae Naturalis et Innaturalis, 1505)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

What I learned on Magick from Therapy

Since Israel Regardie claimed any magickal training should start with psychotherapy many authors have repeated this statement. Yet rarely have I seen accounts where magicians share the benefits from going through therapy in relation to their magickal works. As I have the privilege of living in both worlds at the moment - the therapeutic and the ritual - let me share a personal example of how these experiences can enrich each other. But be warned - this might not be the typical magickal blog post therefore...   

Last year I started training to become a Gestalt-Therapist. The education is supposed to last between two and four years depending on how far or deep one choses to go... So on the Therapy side of life, I am pretty much a freshman or Neophyte. But let me share why I decided to get involved in Therapy in the first place after having spent a decade on intense magical training and only having made it half-way up the Tree of Life... 

Well, here is a long story in a nutshell: the final rite that brought me from Netzach to Tiphareth was an intense four week exercise focussed on the forces and spirits of Saturn. It marked my transition from the physical triad to the spiritual one as well as the final raising of the veil of Paroketh as I described in the article on the Dweller on the Threshold. I had been seeing this four week rite coming for an entire decade and had an enormous amount of respect for it.... First week no permanent sleeping, second week no eating, third week no talking, fourth week all-together, framed by two full Saturn planetary rites on each Saturday and closing on a long funeral rite on the last day. If you want to let go of your ego, this seemed like an awful good choice to me.

I conducted the entire exercise in April 2010 and need to thank my wonderful wife - who isn't involved in magick - for making up with me during these intense weeks. On entering the rite my goal was to let go of anything I held onto, except for my love to life. I asked Saturn to take everything away, skin me, until there was nothing left but a shining light - or a fading spark? Without getting into the details of the experience, during the funeral ritual on the night I finished my HGA and I established contact and he welcomed me in the most beautiful and unexpected way.

But let me come back to my original point... Why did I decide to get involved in Therapy after such a seemingly successful magickal rite? Well, I was standing at a crossroad: At that point my magickal workings had become so intense that my day-to-day life sometimes felt like a distraction. Like something that had to be done, before I could return to the next phase of my magickal journey. At the end I guess it was the impact of connecting with my HGA that allowed me to realize that this separation of life inside and outside of the temple felt awfully wrong... 

Why would true magick need me to chose between day-to-day life and time spent in my temple? What was the door to my temple nothing but an illusion? My kitchen could become a temple, my living room, my car, a visit to the grocery store or a night out with friends. Every second and every place had the potential to be my temple. The challenge was I couldn't realize that potential yet; I felt chained to that beautiful empty space behind our house in the old saddle barn... 

As painful as it seemed, I needed to break these chains. And it was a dreamlike image that convinced me of doing so: I saw myself giving my son a ride to his school in a couple of years - and thinking of this ride as a distraction. I saw myself being in the car with him and not being present in the moment - because of my desire for the next ritual to come. Because of the tragic illusion that magick needed to happen in a circle. 

I guess overcoming that illusion was the first thing I learned from Gestalt-Therapy: Every moment presents a risk, every moment is an encounter with the unknown. May we be robed in our temple, inhaling incenses consecrated to spirits, or may we be cutting vegetables in the kitchen, or sitting in a meeting... Now, reading this is NOT the same as allowing this knowledge to enter your heart. You have to meet people who are not one, but ten steps ahead of you on this journey. Then things suddenly become obvious and easy and you simply see the difference, one step at a time. The man I am learning Gestalt-Therapy from is probably four miles ahead of me...

I'll give you an example which might sound awfully strange, but follow me... Here is how he made spirit(ual) contact to a book in one of our training sessions: He held a peach in one hand and a theoretical article on Gestalt-Psychology in the other. He read a single sentence and caressed his underarm with the soft skin of the peach, repeating the sentence he had read aloud. 'Do I like what I feel? Does this sentence feel good to me? Are we making good contact?' he asked himself. When he concluded that the contact they had made was fine, he continued with the next sentence... The next sentence was a beast of a tricky thought and he clearly didn't like it. Rather than rereading it he spit out that piece of the peach and said 'I think I am just going to skip this piece? We would I try to make a bad piece of a peach taste better by chewing longer on it?' So he went on and found a clear and succinct sentence coming next... He continued in this way for what was probably fifteen minutes, but felt like an eternity to me. His ability to create contact with the words of the book, while exploring the peach with all his senses was simply amazing: he tenderly caressed his skin with the peach, he smelled it, licked it, than put it to his cheek like a kiss.. and after fifteen minutes had eaten the entire peach and probably read about ten sentences from the book. 'This' he concluded 'is the beauty and risk that sleeps in every encounter. What a risky undertaking to read this book? Who knows how it tastes, how it will feel on my skin, what it will do to me once I swallowed it? We have to relearn that every encounter is full of erotism. Establishing contact is always an erotic act - because erotism doesn't mean anything but an experience we are involved in with all of our senses... The problem for most of us simply is that we have forgotten how erotic the world around us is.'  

On that afternoon my entire approach to ritual magick changed. There was something to explore in every moment of the rite.... How would it feel like to a perform a long ritual in a similar way like he had eaten that peach?

Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt-Therapy
Having spent more than a decade on magickal training, I needed to return to Malkuth and learn it all again. But this time with my eyes closed and my heart open.

Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt-Therapy had summarized much of this experience, of the hidden beauty and quality of a true encounter in his famous Gestalt-Prayer.

It expresses the curiosity it takes to establish real contact with the unexplored - just like my teacher had exemplified in reading from the book while eating the peach... He didn't control the nature of the encounters he made on this journey; some were simply more 'tasty' than others. But what he did control himself was his attitude and openness to except each sentence, each smell or touch of the peach as something completely unique and unexplored...

I guess this is just one of many lessons to come which I will hopefully take away from therapy and build into my approach on ritual magick. And here is Fritz Perls' wonderful Gestalt-Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I, 
and if by chance we find each other, 
it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.

(Fritz Perls, 1969)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

On how to create powerful consecrations

Recently I answered some questions on how to best consecrate magickal objects, e.g. the Table of Practice. In replying to them I learned that there are actually many different views out there on how and why consecration should happen. I found this a very insightful topic as to why we do the things we do... So let me share my personal practice and view on consecrating ritual objects.

In a nutshell here is what consecration does: It adjusts the astral shape of an object in accordance with the intention and forces called upon in the consecration ritual. The ritual act erases or enriches the astral shape from the physical object and creates a new or adjusted sacred astral shape connected to it. This new astral shape makes the physical object accessible (only) to the respective forces or entities it is consecrated to. The actual process of consecration therefore takes place on the astral plane and opens a new and specific channel that allows the forces the object is consecrated to to descent down from the mental to the astral and finally to the physical plane and take residence in the object. 

To me this is the 'technical' background for why we do consecration rites. With regards to any specific magickal object you might plan to consecrate the real question is - which energies are currently connected to this device and are you satisfied working with these? Some of you will be able to look at the object directly on the astral plane and 'see' the current shape it is in; others might want to consult a divination method like IChing, Tarot or others in order to understand the current nature and power of the object at hands. Obviously, asking your Holy Guardian Angel or local spirits you work with is another great way of understanding more of the current nature of your ritual objects...

Picture of a magical ring that accompanied
me for many years and isn't in use anymore
What I am trying to explain is this: A consecration rite  might end up charging your ritual object in a powerful and lasting way. However, it also tends to 'overwrite' any existing astral imprints that actually might have charged your object already... So the decision to 'clean' or 'erase' the current programming of a ritual device and to replace it with a new and deliberately created one is important and yours only.

At the end of the day all ritual objects are powerful if used or consecrated correctly - as they are dwellings of living forces we invoked into them. Once this background is understood, the door opens to types of consecration rites as diverse as the tradition you follow or the objects in question...

Here are a few I have used successfully so far: 
  • Sleep on or close to the ritual object in a remote room filled with incense dedicated to the powers to be charged; analyze your dreams and stop process once your dreams indicate successful consecration
  • Design and conduct a ritual for the forces in question, then ask the spirits summoned in the rite to charge your ritual object and seal it subsequently
  • Create a baptism rite for your ritual device and merge it's astral shape with the newly given name; maybe engrave the name, its sigil and number into the ritual object
  • Allow the ritual object to charge directly from the source of power in question, i.e. placing them into the moon- or sunlight for several hours and wrapping them in white silk subsequently
  • Create a ritual bath for the object in question (ideally charge the purifying waters with fluid condenser according to Franz Bardon), then bath and clean the object in the waters while saying prayers or vibrating words of the specific power in question over it 
  • Use a particular object in specific circumstances and with clear intent only - not rite required. For example: Put some dried juniper berries into your right pocket. Whenever you feel a certain emotional state arise that you want to release (e.g. sadness), grab the berries and charge them with the energy through your right hand. Burn the berries once sufficiently charged and meditate about the emotional energies that the fire releases as they transform from a physical shape to flames, to smoke and finally to clean air..
  • Finally, if you just want to clean or erase the astral shape of an object - without consecrating it to a different one - place it into a river on a string tied to the water's edge and allow it to stay there for one or several nights
These are just a few ideas on how one can consecrate objects. Your creativity and intuition will allow you to come up with more intense and most likely more powerful ways of turning your ritual object into a dwelling for spirits...

Personally I like to remind myself of the fact that creating such a sacred space or object is not only in our interest. In a world like ours these physical places are much needed by the spiritual forces around us... They truly are the equivalent of 'nature reserves' on a spiritual level - sacred shapes of pure devotion, connectedness and living exchange between the material and spirit realm.

Let's make sure none of our 'spirit reserves' or sacred objects will ever end up in a museum like the ones of our ancestors often did... but rather break, crumble or burn in our hands while still being full of live and in practice.

Friday, 14 January 2011

On how to - maybe? - treat spirits

Here is a story for you... yes, something like a breakfast parable if you want. Take some time for a coffee, maybe put on this song like I just did and if you are ready, feel free to follow... I'll promise - or better hope - it will make sense at the end.

Think of a goldsmith living in a small town. Our goldsmith is the only one of his kind in his town; maybe even in the state. He has a unique talent to create art and adornment from metals. This particular goldsmith happens to not only have a huge gift for working with metals, but also a huge passion. Doing his job is a calling for him and that's how he approaches every piece of work he does. To be honest, even though he's been working as a goldsmith for decades, every day he still is humbled by the way the metals behave in each of their states he is putting them through and he is humbled by the beauty they reveal in shapes they take... You get it: we are dealing with a bit of goldsmith nerd here.

Now, unfortunately our goldsmith isn't earning a lot of money with his art. He actually is quite in debt and owes money to quite a few people in the town. Much to his disadvantage, one of these believers is a very rich and ignorant fellow. One day this guy comes into the studio of our goldsmith and asks him to pay back his debts. 

The goldsmith offers him the remaining adornments he has left on the shelf. But the creditor doesn't want them simply because he doesn't know what to do with them. Rather he insists the goldsmith should rob a bank for him - as he had heard the goldsmith would be very talented with all sorts of precious thing and he was planning a coup anyway. Hearing this demand the goldsmith is aghast and refuses! 

Now the creditor hesitates - looking at the goldsmith he gets doubts if he really could do the job... After reconsidering the situation he offers him to work in his garage and polish his cars. As this would make significantly less money than a bank coup, however, he would need to work there for the rest of his life. The goldsmith breaks out in tears... And as he doesn't stop crying at some point the creditor finds himself feeling sorry for the poor soul.

Thus he asks: 'So what do you want? In some way or another you'll need to follow my will!' The goldsmith cries: 'But I am a goldsmith! I am an artist, I can create beauty from metal ashes and slag! Give me a job that uses my talent, I can work on anything that is related to creating value from precious metals. Just don't ask me to do something I am not.

Well, I'll spare you the rest of the conversation; but at some point the creditor really loses his nerves. Finally, with a big sigh he gives in and orders the goldsmith to work in his kitchen and polish sterling cutlery for the rest of his life...

Still with me? Okay, if you have made it until here, I promise the tough bit is over. I am not much of a story teller - but I told you this would only work with a parable as the beginning... Because here is the thing I was pondering about: What if we are the creditors to the spirits we summon?

What if some part in us is as ignorant, as self-obsessed, as uncaring as the creditor in the story? And what if we aren't even the first generation to treat spirits like this... but we are living off a heritage of abuse, of ignorance and dominance? What if we often fail to acknowledge the true talents and gifts of spirit and demons? 

Technically the creditor wasn't wrong in assuming a goldsmith must be good with 'precious objects'. Generally speaking he could claim to be right... And generally speaking Jupiter can bring you luxury, and Mercury will make you win the lottery and the Sun gets you the next promotion and Venus your spouse and Mars keeps you invincible. And here we are - turning spirits into service staff of our astral Tesco or Walmart or BestBuy or what have you...

Sometimes when I read about Grimoire magic, I feel we are so obsessed with putting these creatures to our use and make them work for our benefits that we - just sometimes - forget to respect them for what they are. Un-human creatures, but creatures like us. Goldsmiths of their own kind, masters in their own disciplines... being forced to first bring us and then clean our sterling silver. 

Wouldn't it be great to be at a point in the history of magic where we (re-)learn to acknowledge the beauty and subtleties of the spirits we relate with? If we don't want to do it for them - then maybe we should do it for ourselves? Or are we really aware of how much we can grow by allowing spirits and demons to work their craft on us - rather than on our enemies or love lives?

If I only could find books on these questions: What are the result of a spirit working on my psyche that is supposed to 'bring you treasures'? What is the psychological impact of a demon 'that overcomes any opponents'? Can we use his force to overcome our own anxieties or depressions? And what happens if we allow the Egyptian God Kephri to be reborn within our heart - rather than our bank accounts? 

RO recently mentioned (here) that magicians shouldn't have to worry about money. I think the same is true for the spirits we work with. They shouldn't have to worry about our odds and ends. We can do that if we chose to. Because they are living creatures just like us, forces that shape life and plants and stones and animals even more than we do... I guess we should allow them to do what they are best at? For any spirit I think that's working on a spiritual level.


Ha, and on finishing this post I just realized the lyrics I was listening to. Remember, I am German so I can listen to English songs for hours without paying attention to their lyrics... 

Why aren't you kind to me ?
You could so easily
Take me in your arms and see
A donkey – a beast for thee

If you had half a mind
Leave worldly things behind
Devote to being kind
You to me – a beast for thee

Love in some way you choose
God's plan can easy bruise
One bone and blood mass we fuse
And I can be a beast for thee

I will toil for years and years
Give you muscle, tone and tears
Overcome and flay all fears
Leaving me – a beast for thee

And at home on Wednesday morn
Astride my horny horn
You'll be in glory born
And I will be a beast for thee
Happily a beast for thee
Quietly a beast for thee
Endlessly a beast for thee

Superwolf : Beast for Thee

Note: Thanks to The Scribbler (link) for pointing me to the fact that I had used the word 'believer' instead of creditor incorrectly. This was a mistake from my end, as in German language the follower of a religion or cult and the creditor are marked by the same term which is translated as 'believer'. Interesting enough, that the latin word 'credere' (believing) also is the root of the English term creditor... So, a big Thank You to The Scribbler!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

On Ritual Trance - Part3: Selected Resources

This is the last post on ritual trance in a series of three.

Let's take a look at some resources that are available to learn more on ritual trance. If you are working in a group or with other magicians one of you can work as a dedicated seer or medium of the spirit in question. While this doesn't come without risks it is a completely different approach than one has to take as a solitary practicing magician. Working solo you need to be the seer and the actor at the same time, or at least within the same rite.

If you have worked through a full-scale magical education such as in the G.'.D.'., Aurum Solis, Servants of Light or similar orders it might well be that you have never heard the term 'ritual trance' but your techniques might be very advanced. It's just a matter of language: What I call 'ritual trance' is often referred to as the 'altered state of consciousness' that most acts of magick require.

What all types of ritual trance inducing techniques share is that they don't induce such a deep state of trance that your consciousness is lost in trance. All of them are content with altering your consciousness sufficiently to leave your everyday consciousness behind and become fully present in the moment. While this definition might work for any type of meditation, the difference with ritual trance is that it allows your awareness to become fully present in a slightly altered state of consciousness

The author of the wonderful John Dee novel 'The Angel of The West Window' and early G.'.D.'. member, Gustav Meyrink, referred to this state throghout his life as his foremost magical goal. His own words were to achieve a state of consciousness that allowed him to be 'Hüben und Drüben' (On Both Sides) at the same time... Lifting the veil between Malkuth and Jesod, being aware of the material and astral realm at once, at any moment in time.

As we can see from Gustav Meyrink's example the journey to a perfect ritual trance can take a lifetime. But the journey itself can be wonderful, inspiring and life enriching if we allow it to... Personally I only learned to enjoy the magickal ride about a year ago, give or take. Before that I always had my eyes fixed on the step to come before completing the one ahead of me. I was much faster than I am today in adopting new techniques, paradigms and believe systems. But my heart couldn't follow. Only once I let go of my obsession of 'efficacy & efficiency' of magick and started to wonder about my actual relationship to the spirits did they start talking to me in ritual trance...

To finish off this here are a few resources on inducing ritual trance that I found very helpful. All of them are complementary for larger magickal rites but can equally be used in isolation...
I am sure there are many more great recommendations out there that allowed you to work your way into 'a different state of consciousness'. In that case please leave a comment and let me and others know and learn from it...

Here is to all we do not see, hear, smell, taste and feel as long as our minds are 'clear'.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Save the Bees

In an earlier post I spoke about the important influence of Scarlet Imprint's recent release 'XVI - Bringing Down The House Of God'. The main message being - in my eyes - that we all need to find our own way as magicians to contribute to, shape and define the world we are living in - inside and outside of the temple. It is about social responsibility in times where it is truly needed, just like ours.

While I have no answers whatsoever which path this will take me on personally in the years to come, I know what I can to right now. Rather than looking for huge projects or visions of what I might be able to do in the future, a dear friend taught me to just think of the smallest next step I could do 'right now'...

What a wonderful lesson to learn - I wished I had been ready for it years ago! 

Well, here is one thing I did today:

In case you are interested on some more occult background on bees you might like this article: On the Symbolism of the Bee in the Occult Tradition

On Ritual Trance - Part2: Science vs. Art

This is the second post on ritual trance in a series of three. 

For the third learning on ritual trance let me come back to my initial thought: Ritual trance induction needs free-styling just like an artist needs creativity. While there are many great techniques out there, not all of them will work for you. Actually, I must admit only very few blended successfully into the choreography of a longer ritual for me.

Earlier on I recommended Donald Michael Kraig's books as a potential starting point. Let's take a look at a related topic where I disagree with him:

" (...) There is no in between. Likewise, either the laws of magick are valid or they are not. There cannot be any type of rule saying that sometimes they are valid and other times, under identical circumstances, they are invalid. Remember, magick is an art and science, and a basic tenet of science is that under the same conditions an experiment will always have the same results."
(Kraig, Modern Magick, Llewellyn 2008, p.317)   

Well, I guess anybody familiar with Schrödinger's cat will find a lot to debate on this quote? From what I can tell, science itself is going through a significant crises since researchers found out that there is no such thing as 'identical circumstances' unfortunately. It is the fact of observing an experiment, the pure presence of the observers themselves that influence any result already - and at least for now in pretty unknown ways. These influences might not be strong enough to impact Newton's laws such as gravity. Yet, when one moves to matters of particle physics they seem to be just as strong as any other 'natural force' in the experiment. 

Let's think about this: Is a magickal evocation on the astral plane closer to the law of gravity or the laws of quantum mechanics? I leave that for you to judge... The point I am trying to make is: in my world there is plenty of space for 'in between', plenty of grey and - to be brutally honest - much more successes with art than science.

Why is that? Because my consciousness is simply so much less powerful than my hands, my heart, my will and - most of all - my subconsciousness. If I tried to rationalize everything that happened to me in rituals, it would have never happened in the first place and certainly I wouldn't have entered into a state of ritual trance. I kept myself confined in the same space we are locked in during most of our days - and keep the door to any successful ritual trance firmly shut. At some point we have to start believing in ourselves, in the success of our rites, in the power of our trance and the beauty of the things we will accomplish... None of this has any space in science; so personally I am much better off without it.

Statue of a fear ritual I performed
in the Indian desert years ago
I guess that's my third learning: learn from many people and cultures, but only trust your own approach. The most underestimated power in magick is your faith in yourself and in the intimate way you are preparing and conducting your ritual actions. Staying true to what feels right for you is a key that unlocks a lot of doors.

(Well, and unfortunately we only know what feels right for us after we have learned it the traditional way first and made all the mistakes necessary...)

My final point on ritual trance induction is simple: For most of us the most accessible form of ritual trance is being afraid. Maybe I should share a personal story on this... More than a decade ago when I started my ritual work I was living in a large city and didn't had the money or luxury of having an 'in-house' temple. I was preparing my first cycle of elementary rituals for weeks and hit a dead end when I couldn't find a space to perform them. Luckily I had a very experienced teacher who had lived in a Bon monastery in Tibet under very raw and harsh conditions. One day he told me: 'What is keeping you from doing these rituals is not the lack of a temple but fear. This week go into the woods at night and just do it.'

And that's what I did. I cleared a space sufficient for the rite in the brushwood of a forest close to the city where I lived. I prepared a circle with flour on the ground and stuck torches in the ground in the four quarters of the sky. Then I came back the following night and performed my first 'open sky' ritual... What sounds relatively straight forward took me huge overcoming back then; I thought of a million things that could have gone wrong in such a public space - me being dressed in robe with all my magickal tools around me, torches lit and vibrating angel names under the night sky... 

What I didn't know back then is, that this type of fear became my best friend in creating a proper magickal trance. Granted not very sophisticated, but very efficient. This dread still accompanies me today, even though I now have a large room set up as an exclusive temple. Yet, every time I take my ritual bath, I prepare for a rite, I count the minutes towards the planetary hour my heart trembles and my mind is electrified. And if I wrote my fear turned into excitement over the years - I would just be lying. Every time before a ritual I really am afraid of the unknown that I am about to explore - until the first banishing ritual is performed and my ritual trance has left my day-consciousness behind...

(click here to read 3rd part :: click here to read 1st part)