Wednesday, 30 March 2011

On DuQuette's Low Magick - or the temple that is a telephone booth

Over the weekend I finished reading Lon Milo DuQuette's wonderful 'Low Magick'. It is a refreshingly short book, a small compendium of autobiographical short stories on DuQuette's various magickal experiences. As the author states there might be more power in a well told short story than in a huge volume of ancient rites and prayers... So in between all your volumes of different Picatrix' versions, Grimoires, etc. this is exactly the type of treat your inner child loves to devour: a magickal version of Steve Jobs' famous 'stay hungry, stay foolish' line...

However, besides praising the book and encouraging you to spend ten bugs on it, there is one additional thing I want to point out about it. I actually wonder why DuQuette doesn't mention it anywhere himself? So let me bold enough to do it for him.

Since the early days of the Golden Dawn we have spent an awful lot of time in the West to confine the place of magick to a temple. Life outside the temple and life inside the temple are separated from each other like the entrance hall and the inner sanctum of a bank, the safe. While there is nothing wrong with an inner sanctum, for me there is definitely something wrong with a barren life outside the temple that lacks spirituality - as we just locked spirituality up in a magickal circle, behind magickal curtains in our magickal temple. 

While we learned to go into a telephone booth to dial up a spirit number, spirits don't really care from where we are calling them. To be perfectly honest: the dial cord in the phone booth is cut off from the telephone network since many years. It's just that we feel better shielded from the noise around us and confined in the surrounding of our nice red telephone booth. We feel ready and centered to make a call and we prefer to expect someone being on the other end of the (dead) line - rather than having spirits talking non-stop in our minds. At least we can put back the  receiver! 

Now, here is the interesting bit: It seems we do need some sort of line of demarcation that allows us to retreat back into the grounded earthiness of Malkuth. I guess most of us need to be able to shut the door of a temple, to hang up the receiver and to silence the spirit voices in our minds. If that is the whole function of a temple - to create a physical representation of an astral threshold, to be able to open and close a spirit door - well done and here is to a perfect magickal tool.

In his book 'Low Magick' DuQuette shares examples of experimenting with that spirit door. He wraps the magickal circle as a consecrated thread around his body, he invokes deities on a party and his father teaches him his first and most important magickal virtue: self-esteem and the fundamental faith in his power to determine his own fate.

In taking us on a journey through all these events that balance on the fence between physical and spirit reality, DuQuette is a master of teaching us how low that fence actually is and how easy it is to step over it and return safely afterwards. This particular worldview and skill - to effortlessly move forward and backward over the threshold of the realms of reality - isn't a competence Western Occultism is particularly well know for. Shamanism, on the other hand, is.

And this is the conclusion I wished the book pointed out more openly for dummies like me: DuQuette shares a wonderful vision of a place with us, of an inner attitude and approach that takes an essential quality of shamanism and reintroduces it to our Western lore. The ability to navigate between Tonal and Nagual from a single point of presence.

In this effort the book 'Low Magick' clearly joins forces with a whole current of recent publications that all strive to bring magick back into our lives. And to realize that the threshold of our temples is just that: a symbol of two different inner states. Both of them being open and available to us at any point during night or day, any nights or days of our lives.

Here is how another wonderful author, Josephine McCarthy puts it:

"Learning how to be open, to have thinner barriers around us without being eaten alive by every draining person and parasite teaches us to be able to flow through the worlds and be receptive to the slightest whisper from inner contacts while retaining our energetic health and integrity."

Sunday, 27 March 2011

A Key Called Love... or a sigil for my evil demon

Let's start this with a warning. Maybe big bold letters can help: THIS POST IS A SIGIL FOR MY EVIL DEMON. He is bound into this text. Do not continue to read as reading this sigil might set him free... Well, not that my evil demon can do any harm to you; after all he is mine. But you know how demons are - they help each other out like real mates. And he might just figure where yours is kept locked inside? 

One of the most fascinating results of my evocation of the Olympic Spirit of Hagith was her take on the interdependency of love and life. Love being a light that opens and life being the seed that is put inside. The simple, yet perplexing insight: nothing can receive life if it hasn't been opened by love before. 

Think that sounds cheesy? Well, let's consider this: life is a pretty general term. It is not the same as beauty, harmony or balance. Life includes all the nastiness and ugliness we normally don't tend to associate with it. Life is rainy days, depression and sickness - just as it is ice cream, sunshine and a walk in the park.  

So the key of love that Hagith provides opens all kinds of doors, irrespective of what has been kept inside... Still sounds too much like theory? Then let me share a story of a door that I had nailed shut for all the right reasons twenty years ago and which Hagith just decided to tear wide open...

When I first experienced the beauty and fulfillment of Tiphareth I was simply blown away by how quietly contempt and in love I could be with the world around me. At the same time, however, I realized that this brightness, this complete effortlessness, has an evil twin. A mirror face of the buddha-like smile that covered my face for many days after entering the realm of Tiphareth... Similarly, I realized that I wasn't exactly in a rush to hunt for this shadow and leave the beautiful sunshine in the garden of Tiphareth behind. 

So while I was sitting on my Tiphareth meadows for weeks in one long wonderful picnic, deep inside I knew that there was a gravel walk leading out of the park into a dirty suburb and to a run down door with a house number and a name on it... I even knew the house number and the name on the doorplate (see the Note at the end). Yet, I still was in no rush leaving my unfinished picnic, walking down the path and essentially spoil the entire day... First off I needed to achieve balance and stable connection to the forces of Tiphareth. There was still plenty of time left to go scouting in the suburbs afterwards...

Well, fast forward about a year: here comes Hagith. Suddenly I am standing in front of the run down door in that far away alley. I have no idea how I got here? The old door slams wide open: Inside is a room covered in ashes. All things are quiet and still inside. It is the living room of my parent's house. I am a child again, standing in the middle of the room and looking around me. This is the burial chamber of my past. I am right in the room I promised myself never to return to... I realize a part of me has been standing here since all these years: the same boy, the same clothes, the same haircut. The same bitter taste of sadness in my throat, the same profound disillusionment on my mind that life will never become for me what I knew it could be for others... It is incredibly quiet in the Pompeii house of my past. Surrounded by memories whose life I have drawn out and used to build up my future, surrounded by ghosts and furnitures made from ashes... I guess this is the place where my evil daimon lives.

Here is what Agrippa has to say about the nature of the evil daimon:

"As therefore there is given to every man a good spirit, so also there is given to every man an evil Diabolicall spirit, whereof each seeks an union with our spirit, and endeavours to attract it to it self, and to be mixed with it, as wine with water; the good indeed, through all good works conformable to it self, change us into Angels, by uniting us, as it is writ of John Baptist in Malachie: Behold I send mine Angel before thy face: of which transmutation, and union it is writ elsewhere; He which adheres to God is made one spirit with him. An evil spirit also by evil works, studies to make us conformable to it self, and to unite, as Christ saith of Judas, Have not I chosen twelve, & one of you is a devil?"
(Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, Book III, chapter XX) 

Well, I wish he had also called out this: My evil daimon is the spirit that never appears in full sight. He is the ugly part of me that everybody can see but I. He is the force that hinders, wears out and withers my ability to love and give. He is the strange gravitational force that holds me back when I need to speak, that closes my eyes when I need to see. He is the force that creates my armor of pride and the darkness inside. My evil daimon is the quiet usurper, he is the one who stands behind me, the voice that sounds like mine and the face I have never seen.  

At the same time, however, my evil daimon also is the force that allowed me to survive. By surrounding me like an armor of cold it sheltered what was kept inside. He didn't help exactly to escape from the room made of ashes, yet because of him I outlasted while I was caught inside. When things get so tough that I cannot allow love to help me anymore, my evil daimon is the last line of defense. He is the ugly truth and every touch of his leaves a stain. But I guess we all have been to places where we were willing to pay the price: By closing down all other resources, by slamming shut all doors, by embracing the counterforce of love, we can create a confined space of survival. A living grave, a shadow in the sun. 

The door to the room of ashes is wide open now. For the first time I can see my evil daimon. He has left the run down house, stepped out on the street, eyes wide open he is staring into the sun above the garden. The burning light pierces through his eyes, they burn and die down to ashes. My demon doesn't move, but keeps on standing and holds his face of ashes into the sun...

Suddenly I get it: every living thing has a right to be set free. Be it an evil demon or an angel, be it made of ashes or light. Hagith's love is blind.


Note: When I prepared for the rite that took me through the veil of Paroketh and into Tiphareth I had worked with Agrippa's instructions on how to construct the name of your genius and evil daimon from your natal chart. You can download The Genius & Evil Demon Calculator on for free. Any questions on how to use it, just send an email to

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

PICATRIX - complete 1933 German version for free download

This is going to be a pretty short post... Actually, it simply is a link with a tiny bit of context. But what a link it is! 

The Picatrix (latin title of the original "Ġāyat al-ḥakīm wa aḥaqq al-natīǧatain bi-'l-taqdīm") is famous as being the mother of all grimoires. Its four books represent the major compendium of arabic sources on magic, astrology and talismans that has survived until today. The full arabic version emerged in the 10th or 11th century and was translated into Spanish in 1256. Starting from the middle ages the book was copied into countless manuscripts and started to spread its influence across Europe to finally become a major pillar of hermetic magic as we know it.

Unfortunately the book had been unavailable in print for many centuries. Only recently have we seen English translations by Christopher Warnock as well as Ourobouros Press - the first to emerge since the middle ages! However, since 1933 the book has been available in a rare German translation published by the Warburg Institute before WWII and translated by the German philosopher Heinrich Ritter (* 21. November 1791; † 3. Februar 1869).

The 1933 German translation of the Picatrix is one of the finest pearls of occult publishing ever to see the light of day. Not only was the translation done by a deeply dedicated scholar who has also published an encyclopedic history of philosophy in 12 volumes. Thus a person who was closely familiar with the historic context of the sources that fed the arabic version of the Picatrix. But also does it contain an enlightening introduction by H.Ritter of 39 pages plus a an attempt of a summary of the entire work by Martin Plessner (* 30. Dezember 1900; † 27. November 1973) in 17 pages. These two prefaces to the original source text might be the most precise and informed introductions to the philosophy and origins of hermetic and arabic magic ever to be published in the West.        

Well, and here is the good news: the entire German version of the Picatrix is available as a free PDF download of 522 pages at the digital collections of the Warburg institute. Here is the link: 

Well, if this isn't making your day, or week or even entire year - I simply don't know what could?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Arbatel Experience - The Female Divine

Last week I performed the rite of Hagith; this week I continued with my personal therapy. I arrived at the session exhausted from a long day of work and had a few minutes to settle and calm down before my therapist arrived. As I was relaxing on the sofa, not doing anything but focussing on my body as it calmed down I thought back to my communion with Hagith. As I will explain in the full ritual account Hagith had shared a simple way of contacting her. And that's what I did sitting on the sofa... I opened the channel to her consciousness and allowed her force to flow freely into my sphere. Then my therapist arrived and we started the session... For a very long time I had pondered on a way to combine therapy and theurgy. Without being aware of it, suddenly I had discovered the beginning of a journey. Here is what happened.

Without a clear topic on my mind the session started to circle around my desire to form, mold and design the world around me. The pleasure I take from creating experiences for me and other people, to shape things and situations. This was starkly contrasted by my experiences when I wasn't able to follow this habit freely, e.g. meditating for several days and nights in the desert or being alone in a remote mountain forrest for a weekend. These situations presented some of my most fearful experiences in Magick - as there ceased to be a counterpart, a force or situation that presented itself as raw material as substance to be shaped. Sitting in the desert, silently, time passing by, covered in my own sweat, surrounded by sand and flies every form of resistance retreated and flinched. My hands were empty and neither echos nor images of my mind came back from the emptiness around me. I was losing myself, the boundaries that defined me, the skin of my body in the adamant silence and nothingness of time...

As I was sharing these experiences I something reminded me of the myth of Ishtar descending into the underworld to rescue her loved one: At the entrance of the underworld the gatekeeper refuses to let Ishtar in. Ishtar threatens him to break the gate and set the dead souls free to devour the living and thus unsettle the balance of the world of the living and the dead. The gatekeeper turns to Ereshkigal, the queen of the underworld, and she gives permission for Ishtar to enter, but "according to the ancient decree". This decree demands that Ishtar may pass through the seven gates of the underworld only if she sheds one element of her garment in front of each gate. And this is what Ishtar does... Once she passes through the final gate she has given up everything that defined her: 

  • Her crown - her spiritual connection
  • Her earrings - her intellectual mind
  • Her necklace - her power to speak
  • Her breastplate - her power to love
  • Her hip girdle - her power to desire
  • Her measuring rod - her power to act
  • Her breechcloth - her power to reproduce

Ishtar is naked as she the enters before the throne of the underworld. She has lost everything that represented her identity, that allowed her to shape and form and participate in the experiences of the living. She has lost all connection to live. Nothing is left but her pure Gestalt, the essence of her being, a spark represented by her naked body.

I wonder if when a larva climbs on a tree, solidifies on a branch and dies - does it know that it is giving birth to something new? Is it aware that something is waiting to be set free from underneath its skin? Is it aware that what it considers itself has done its service and has now become the prison of something even more beautiful to emerge from it?

When I was sitting in the desert I was as naked as Ishtar and as dead as a grub on a tree. I had given up all my powers to shape and connect with life.  I had  retreated into complete isolation. I was full of fear like the sky at night full of wind - no boundaries left, nothing to distinct, nothing to define what was left of me. The gates of all my body, the gates of all my mind were wide open and everything I had kept inside had disappeared. I was an empty shell, covered in sweat and by flies. I guess that's the way a larva feels when it dies?

Here is what Hagith told me in the ritual: "I am life, but love is my tool that opens everything." Loving in the sense of Hagith is the ability to radically accept things as they are. To let go of the desire to change what already is perfect in itself. This kind of divine love is the ability to not desire to manifest yourself in the realm of someone else, but to open a space for something new to emerge. 

Being able to connect with this type of "love that opens" requires me to let go of the eternal game of shaping the world in my own image. It is the Adam within me that has to die. And all the names of the plants and animals of the world need to be washed away and crumble to dust, for life to take its own shape. That is the female divine. The force that opens but doesn't confine. The force that sows the seeds of life - rather than trying to force a shape on what grows from it. 

I cannot tell you how far understanding this maybe simple truth is from who I used to be before the rite of Hagith... 

This is the female divine. The force that opens and doesn't confine. 

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tree of Life Library #2 - THE RED LION

Well, with all the recommendations following the first book in the library we got a good stack of authors in our HOD bookshelf: Hermann Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges and Douglas R. Hofstadter to name a few. A big Thanks goes to Hilbert - for sure the most literate blogger I am humbly following... Time to explore another shelf! What about going back to square one and putting a recommendation on the shelf for Malkuth? I.e. a finding a good starting point for adventures and explorations into the realm of the elementary world. I guess any book on fundamental concentration, visualization, and meditation exercises could go here? But really I would love to explore the story-side of the Tree of Life in the library first. So which great stories come to your mind that introduce the secrets of Malkuth to Neophytes or Adepts alike? The one that jumps to mine immediately is this one... A book that has opened a lot of doors for me and reveals a glimpse from where we stand in Malkuth at the dark light of the 32nd Path...


Maria Szepes (December 14, 1908 – September 3 2007) was a Hungarian author and adept. Her explorations into Hermetic philosophy and practice are unique and highly remarkable. Given the difficult period during which she started out as a hermetic writer - the post WWII and communist area in the 1940s - the comparison to Franz Bardon comes to mind immediately. During their lifetimes both undertook daring projects to publish full study and training programs into Hermetic Adepthood at a time when most of Europe lay in ruins and activity of most lodges had come to a stall... Wether Bardon and Szepes personally knew each other remains unconfirmed yet is highly likely. Maria Szepes most famous novel next to her Raguel saga is The Red Lion. Maria Szepes wrote the entire book in a secret hiding place during WWII. The struggle of the book coming to life continued when it was first published in 1946 under pseudonym and was immediately banned by the communist government. However, over time it saw reprints and translations into many languages and ultimately became a worldwide bestseller as a seminal novel on occult initiation. The plot-line of the book is straight forward: in the 16th century the feeble sun of a miller, Hans Burger kills to get hold of the elixir of life. He drinks from it and his consciousness becomes immortal - spanning a bridge over the many times his body dies and is reborn thereafter. Thus the book follows Burger on his journey through many incarnations - each one being the direct effect of his previous actions and the next small ascent on the long and thorny ladder to awakening. Never before has the slow development of human qualities, consciousness and occult ascent been described so vividly and clear. Reading this book is the closest thing to doing your own reincarnation therapy - and a wonderful story to be reminded of what it means if the serpent bites its tail.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Arbatel Experience - some thoughts on ritual purification

Last Friday I performed the third rite in the Arbatel operation, the ritual of Hagith. It was another wonderful experience that taught me so much about magick, planetary spirits and my own shortcomings in dealing with both of them. While I am writing up the full account I thought it might be worthwhile sharing some general learnings that came with it? So here is a snippet on what this week's rite taught me on creating proper purifications in advance of any ritual...

(...) The key to any successful ritual preparation is to alter your state of consciousness in order to break through perceptive filters which normally inhibit direct experience of and communion with spirits. Therefore the term purification in this case refers to a period in advance of a rite that supports the breaking down of these filters or attachments to everyday life. Similar to most elements in the tradition of the Magickal Grimoires, the actual means to purify our state of mind and living are heavily influenced by a Jewish-Christian worldview. The standard procedures involve multiple weeks of e.g. fasting, cleansing, prayers and isolation.

I feel it’s important to point out, however, that the actual change brought forth by purifications happens in our hearts more than anywhere else. Whatever means we chose to purify our lifestyles, the real aim of the game is to change the state of our heart: Imagine we all had a compass in our hearts and the compass needle would normally be guided by our everyday affections, desires and fears. Then the purification rites are what replaces the magnetic field of our personal desires with a field of devotion to God or the spirits we summon. The foremost goal of purification rites is to change the intention of our hearts.

Martin Buber in his seminal introduction to the Legends of the Baal-Shem summarizes the four aspects of a purified life according to the Chasidim:
  • Hitlawut: is the flare, it is the zeal of ecstasy. A flaming sword guards the path to the tree of life. It sputters on the touch of Hitlawut.
  • Awoda: is devotion. If Hitlawut is the mystical feast, Awoda is the mystical sacrifice. All deeds bound into one and eternal life embedded into every action.
  • Kavanah: is the mystery of a soul directed towards a single goal.
  • Shiflut: is humbleness. It is the awareness of the uniqueness of each aspect of creation. It is the awareness that doesn’t compare two things but surrounds each of them with the love it deserves because of what it is alone.

Martin Buber’s wonderful introduction together with Aaron Leitch’s chapter on purification and prayer should suffice for anybody to get to the bottom of what purification rites in magickal rituals are all about. It might take a lifetime, however, to fully express and experience it in your own way. Or as Lou Reed put it: “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.”
Alright, enough deviation. Here is what this has to do with my rite for Hagith: I really think my preparatory purification for this rite didn’t get close enough to what I am sharing above. Here is what it consisted of:
  • Continued abstinence of meat, alcohol and cigarettes since the beginning of the Arbatel operation, i.e. August 2010
  • Setting the day of the Hagith operation one week in advance and consciously focussing on the forthcoming ritual during every day of that week
  • Dedicating the full day of the operation to the work, including several hours of preparatory work (e.g. creating the Lamen) and meditation
  • Ritual cleansing, bath and meditation before the performance of the rite

Now, before I started to perform the ritual I thought this was a pretty solid approach to changing the intention of my heart. And it was. But I forgot about everything outside of it. When I cleaned and prepared my temple on the morning of that day I forgot to realize that the atmosphere in it was cold and damp from the long winter months during which it hadn't been used. I did realize a lot of large spiders and white cobwebs behind the black curtains - but here we are living on the countryside and I guess building a temple into an old barn will always come with these types of silent visitors. Yet, what I overlooked was that the presence of spiders and cobwebs should have pointed me to the astral state of my temple: the energy was low and there were certainly some astral cobwebs on the curtains. I should have purified it by burning menthol crystals and performed a ritual cleansing of the entire sacred space. Perform a ritual act to revive the energies sleeping in the astral patterns of the temple so that they would actively vibrate and resonate when I entered for the Hagith rite at night... I took this as a deep learning and hope not to repeat it too soon: as a magician it is just so easy to become overly focussed on ourselves and forget about the world we are living in. 

As always good old Martin Buber hit it right on when he quoted the Chasid wisdom: “Don’t look at yourself but look at the world around you.” (...)


Well, I guess I should have listened more to this song in advance of the rite? Isn't Herman Dune the best artist on the entire planet - he even knows about purification of hearts!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Why I am full of shit - or Speaking the Truth #3

Like it or not, this is how this post sounds to me.

Okay, I just finished the book and there is one last thing to do to complete the experience. Anyone who has read 'Radical Honesty' knows what it is (just look at page 80 onwards): It is telling the truth about why I am writing this blog. Bluntly and without hiding any of the dirty little secrets that we so often try to gloss over by pointing at ethical, social or altruistic motivations. So here it is:

I am writing this blog to prove that I am smarter than all of you dumb-ass. I am writing this blog to create a trap for all your desire to admire, your dependency, your hunger for direction and lack of self-worthiness. I am writing this blog to exploit and to build my own self-esteem on the lack of yours. I am engaged in the worthless business of sharing bite-sized pieces of bullshit and putting lipstick on them and painting them in gold and silver to make them look like something that's worth 5min of your time. I am lost and at wits ends on how to live up to my own delusions of grandeur; that's why I have become an addict on recognition. And because all the recognition I get from my job, my wife, my friends, even my dog still isn't good enough and still doesn't satisfy my ever hungry ego I am begging all you strangers to look at my bullshit and pay me tribute by leaving comments or clicks on this page. I hide behind aspirations of egoless-ness and not taking money for the shit that I am sharing simply because deep down inside I know it's not worth a penny. Because I am a fake, a phony, a poser to life and magick. Get the paradox my crooked self is caught in? While I look down on you and people around me, I crave for recognition, I starve for attention. I would drink your blood any second if I knew it refreshed my own life-less piece of shit that I call a living... I am so afraid of the dark, to be alone, to be unrecognized, to vanish unperceived, to disappear from this world without having left a trace, without having changed anything. Because that's what my fucked up mind demands of me in order to have a right to live.

One of my finest hobbies is to imagine myself as a teacher. Oh, I know this hurts. But here we go: When I imagine myself as a teacher I am not a teacher of any special subject. I am a teacher of live. You come to me, enter into my house and disappear like a fish disappears in the cave of a moray. You sit down and I become the mirror of your broken life. In talking to me you start to re-energize like a flower in the sun. And once you leave my house all your faith is caught within me. I have become the egregore of your vision of a better life, the demon of your hopes and the living image of your journey to a better self. I am the teacher that inspires. Just to open a channel between our hearts through which I can suck life out of you. I don't give a shit about what happens next to you. As long as you are blinded by my sun and left speechless and quiet while we sit in front of each other in the moray cave that I call my mind.    

So here I am, caught in my ocean of ugliness. And once I die and fade away I can finally let all things go. I will disappear, fade away, fall to dust and make my ugly face and shadow disappear... And when I pass out there will be silence and I will rewake on the other side. I will be a new born and wander through the garden in sunshine. An Jesus or Buddha or Zoroaster will approach me and give me a warm welcome and long warm hug. And I pull the knife out that I had hidden in my throat and will stab him in the back and kill him in our embrace. And as he sinks down on the garden of eden I will have finally proved to myself that I don't need the love that I do need so desperately.

Well, I guess that's it. My little dirty truth about why I am writing this blog. 

And here is the thing: all of the above is utterly true. This is me. And at the same time I also truly care about all of you out there. I care about all the people around me and I so wish it was easier for us to let our fears and pains and delusions out and share what we keep inside. Each day I am shocked by the feebleness and powerlessness of our selves in face of the unspoken, hidden desires that actually drive our actions. And while I know that I am full of shit I still want to find a way to make a difference... While I know a moray lives in my heart, I know the only way to kill it is to act as if it wasn't there. Not to pay attention to it and keep my face in the sun rather than getting lost in shadows. 

I am also writing this blog because my life is truly beautiful. Because I feel blessed every day when I get up and see my beautiful wife and my dog. Because I could cry each time I smell coffee in the kitchen and we start another day of our wonderful life together. I had never thought I could lead such a happy live, my childhood certainly suggested something different... But it was all the people that I met that made the difference and allowed me to break free. And you know the real paradox: many of them carried dangerous animals in their hearts as well. I think I saw spiders in the heart of my teacher and I know there is a snake in the heart of my wife. But it doesn't matter. Their flaws and shortcomings do not cut short their ability to change my life for the better. My teacher didn't need to be flawless to teach me what I have learned. And I certainly love my wife for being flawed. Cause every time I see her shortcomings I am less afraid she might leave me one day for mine...

Here is what I have learned about myself and all of us: the truth changes. I am ugly and I am sacred at the same time. I am deeply flawed and divine at the same time. I am ashamed of what lives inside me. And still each day I keep feeding my evil demon. Because that is who I am. A human, a demon on my left shoulder, a guardian angel on my right. I am the one who is in between. I am the one that cannot be defined by what it is, because the truth changes.

So what's next? Nothing, said the Zen priest. Nothing comes ever next. Everything is here all the time.

Well, I guess we need to settle on the fact that none of us can ever be defined by what is deep inside of us. Because everything is there: morays and angels, the knife in my throat and the morning coffee at the table. So the thing that comes closest to defining us, to make a true statement about who we are, are the things we decide to act on. It's not what you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.

Actually, this last sentences isn't from me - the moray hates to admit this. But it is from Batman Begins. Here is to giving a shit on what's underneath and doing the best thing possible every moment, every day.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Tree of Life Library #1 - HOUSE OF LEAVES

For a very long time I have had the dream of a library completely arranged according to the ten Sephiroth. One could come in and amble along the old bookshelves. And by reading the titles on the spines, shelf by shelf, by pulling books out and flipping through the pages randomly or deliberately one would slowly become aware of the true depth and diversity of the divine force expressed in each Sephira... 

In the beginning each Sephira would hardly fill a single shelf. The shelves, however, would be consecrated to the forces of the Sephira, a rite performed before opening to the public and a talisman bound in leather put on top of each shelf. And over the years the library would grow and the shelves would expand. Until they start to fill entire rows and at some points entire rooms or even floors of the building... Like the broad branches of a tree this 'Tree of Life Library' would grow as people donate books to it.    

Now I really like this idea; unfortunately it's pretty hard to pull off. So the best thing I could come up with - between keeping this as a dream or going bankrupt over buying estate & books for the Tree of Life Library - is to share book recommendations with you according to this pattern. So every book recommendation I will share going forward will be placed on one of the brand new 'Sephiroth book shelves' in the virtual room of my blog...

I hope this can make nice companion reading material as we wander along the paths on the tree. So in case you like the idea - feel free to follow these posts which I will always mark with the heading 'Tree of Life Library' followed by the number and the title of the book. The recommendations will come in no particular order other than the attribution to a specific Sephira; I guess they will arrive on their own terms and just as the tides deliver them.

Should you have book recommendations for the library as well, please do share in the comments section. Who knows, maybe one day it will still become a place in its own right?

Here is the first book on the bookshelf for Hod...


This book is dark. And deep. To me it is the perfect representation of the vaults of Hod. It starts with a wonderful story-in-a-story-in-a-story approach and then just blows you away with the innovative use of page layout and style. A story is told on scraps of paper, full of notes and references to unknown sources, scribbled down by a half blind and dying old man and recovered by and pieced together again by a drug addict who slowly falls under the same spell as his predecessor. Yet, the real story which is told through the eyes and voices of these two authors is taking place in remote house and reaches the reader like a fading echo full of terror. Mark Z. Danielewski has worked on this beast of a 700 page book for more than ten years and delivered one of the most stunning debut novels ever. Since its publication in 2000 a broad cult of followers has evolved around the secrets and layered story of the book. If you are up for a reading experience that is like no other - and ready to enter the vaults of Hod with all its hidden rooms and chambers of knowledge, stories and echos - than the House of Leaves has all the right to come first book on your long bookshelf of Hod. I hope you'll enjoy.  


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Breaking free from Bullshit Jails - or Speaking the Truth #2

Another listening tidbit is this tune.

This morning I was finishing one of the final chapters of the book. And as it sometimes happens during early morning reading delights on a Sunday morning, the dog at my feet and the hot coffee in front of me, the meadows covered in white frozen dew and the ravens in the birch trees of our neighbors... I suddenly hit a vein of gold. I had to read the paragraph three times until I fully understood its implications... At this point I am not even sure anymore if good old Brad could see these. And maybe I am just making stuff up here based on my own training in Magick and Gestalt-Therapy. But who cares - as long as it is gold in my pockets, I pretty much don't care how it got there.

But first things first, let me share the paragraph from Brad's book with you:

"We think we are our memory of our past actions, attitudes, and remembered records. That's not who we are, but it takes a lot of learning and energy to discover that, just as it took a lot of energy and learning to build that picture for ourselves in the first place. The energy required for being who we really are - full persons - comes from burning all the bullshit beliefs you built your mind out of. Fortunately, since one's mind is a constant bullshit generator, there is unlimited supply of fuel."
(Blanton, Radical Honesty, p.230-23)

Isn't this awesome? Essentially Brad turns out to be a magician and unveils how we can transform the bullshit jail into an energy generator. In applying this radical change on how we use our mind, we pretty much do the same thing as AO Spare, when he turned Freud's insights on the subconsciousness around and created his own technique to deliberately instill 'traumas' rather than releasing them into consciousness.

Here is how I think we can use the same approach on breaking out of the bullshit jail - yet still harvesting its energies for good. 

The first step is to accept that there are only four different modes of activity for our mind and senses as Brad continues to explain: They can be kept busy understanding 1) what happens within our bodies or 2) outside of our bodies. If they aren't involved in these two modes of experiences they are either busy 3) fantasizing or 4) worrying. Now, these last two points need some explaining as they are particular to Gestalt-Therapy. So let me fill in the gaps:
  • Fantasies: basically this is the true bullshit fuel. Fantasies are any concepts of reality that aren't directly connected to an authentic personal experience but constructed by theorizing (thinking, reading, debating, etc.) about a potential past, future or present experience. Thus you should feel free to include all types of theories, philosophies, doctrines, morales, ethics and all other constructs in this category that are supposed to teach us how things are 'ought to be'. Please feel also free to include this blog in this bullshit category. If what I am sharing doesn't connect to real and concrete experiences on your end, following my blog is an utter waste of time. Leave right now; maybe there is one bar less in your bullshit jail?
  • Worries: Well, worries are closely connected to fantasies on most occasions. It is rare that we truly worry about something that actually takes place in the present moment. I.e. 'fear of dying' would be an acceptable worry when our car starts to spin in full speed on slippery tarmac; or 'fear of loss' when my toddler has figured out how to open the front gate and is just scrambling out on the main street... Fortunately occasions for acceptable types of worries are rather rare. Yet, because our minds love worrying this gives them plenty of time to delve into what I call 'unacceptable' worries. In this category you can find all sorts of concerns that you or others won't live up to the unrealistic fantasies you have created. I.e. not living up to the fantasies you have created of yourself, or equally, others not living up to the fantasies you have created of them. Here are some of my best worries as a magician: not being able to travel astrally, not being able to perceive spirits in physical form, not being being brave to summon Goetic spirits, not working hard enough on advancing beyond Tiphareth, not communing with my HGA... Consider this a free injection of my personal V-Power, high octane bullshit fuel.
Now, here is an overview on the four modes of activity of our mind and senses:

Let's redraw this chart and model the true scale of these four activities as they take place in most of our everyday lives:

Looks different, right? The good news is - we just discovered two gigantic fuel tanks. I.e. energy that we charge into worries and fantasies all day long. Kill the fantasy, kill the worries and release the energy. It's as easy as that. In theory, i.e. fantasy.

The only other little piece is that most of our fantasies have been around since our earliest childhood and we have learned to mistake them for reality. So there is a lock on the fuel tank and that is called 'habit'... But let me share an idea of how life could look like once we break open this lock and kill our (reflecting, thinking, judging, inner-dialogueing, worrying, concerning, just-wishing-the-best, hoping, shaming and fearing) habits:

Once we break out of the bullshit jail there is no boundary between us and presence anymore. We are free to experience anything that happens within or around us in real time. We will never be able to shut down our fantasies or worries completely, they will always form part of the background of our lives. However, we can ensure that they do not become more important than what is actually happening right now. Presence is always the most important experience. 

In the chart above fantasies and worries come second to what happens within and around us, i.e. in this state we have remembered that they have no connection to what is really happening in the present moment. They are theoretical reflections and abstractions only. Sometimes these can be very helpful, e.g. if we create a new fantasy about how beautiful life will be once we live in the present or when we start worrying about our state of being after spending decades on 'worrying'... However, in most cases fantasies and worries don't come anywhere close to the value and power of experiencing what happens right now.  

... well, I am kind of guilty of sharing a lot of bullshit here. Plenty of fantasies going on if you ask me. So good old Brad comes up with another wonderful metaphor for situations like this. He says that most often people get so captured by their fantasies about life and themselves that by the time they reach adolescence they 'eat the menu instead of the meal'. I.e. we start to live on theories and abstractions, thoughts and models and concepts, rather than real experiences of what actually happens within and around us.
My little chalk charts above are certainly menus and not the meal. So let me leave you with one thought that might lead to a meal: Which state do we all know as magicians when what happens within us and around us is exactly the same? When we merge and fully become one with uniquely special present-tense moments...? I would call these moments 'invocations'. The moments when the divine is streaming into our circle and filling our minds and beings and bodies and the space around us to its fullest. If you are a bit like me and had forgotten how it truly feels to live in the present, free from fantasies and worries, completely open to be surprised by whatever comes next - magick is a great first step to remember.


And of course I will not leave without sharing another of my favorite songs... Maybe it's even fair to think of the 'broken skull' as all the fantasies and worries that keep us from being found. Romantic, beautiful bullshit.  

It is said
that you cannot be found
under rocks or broken skull
I will lay down
I will lay down
I can be found beneath the rose
beneath the rose

Safe to say
that I'll never be found
broken bones holding loose
you will be crowned
you will be crowned
queen of all you have found
you have found

It is said
that you cannot be found
under rocks or broken skull
I will lay down
I will lay down
I can be found beneath the rose
beneath the rose

Saturday, 5 March 2011

On Speaking the Truth - or making my heart as light as a feather

Before you read on, see if you like this tune.

For many of us Magick is a search for truth, a quest to rending the veil of everyday life and take a glance at what hides behind. Or as Goethe put it: "So that I may perceive whatever holds, The world together in its inmost folds." The current discussion on energy in Magick is a wonderful example of this. Patrick on Pomomagick even concluded "this is exactly the sort of discussions magicians should be having." 

For sure this indeed is the type of discussion magicians have been having for the last centuries. It might even be the type of discussion magicians might be best known for? Just look at many of the magickal source-texts outside of the grimoires. They are full of theories on what actually happens behind the veil of everyday life... 

Considering this long history of researching into the occult one can easily come to the conclusion that this must be the essence of Magick: to delve into the immaterial world and research the true connection of cause and effect. To become a scientist of the netherworld. To analyze, deconstruct and rationalize what seemed occult and arcane and mystic before. To shine a bright light into the darkness. To comprehend what was incomprehensible before.

Let me take a stand against that. Let me argue that nothing is further from the essence of magick as I see it. Nothing twists means and ends more. 

Here is why: Magick is a mean to serve life, not the other way around. Magick is a mean to overcome crisis and return to happiness. Magick is not the dissection table of spirits but the table at which we commune. Faust might have been a successful geek, but he certainly wasn't a successful healer. Here are my two cents: The essence of a magick is the ability to lead a happy life. 

Please don't be lead astray by this. From my humble experience it actually takes a lot of magick, a lot of faith, a lot of secret ingredients to lead a happy life. Many people claim it, yet few people truly dare to strive for it. Even fewer people accomplish it... - My biggest personal learning over the last years was this: Before rending any veils on the spiritual realm, I need to rend the veils I erected around myself first. How can I expect to be allowed to see and speak the truth on a higher plane, if I don't have what it takes to the speak out the simple truths in everyday life? 

The 22nd Path on the Tree of Life leads from to Tiphareth to Geburah and is associated with Justice and Truth. Here is what the Sepher Yetzirah has to say about it: "The Twenty-second Path is named The Faithful Consciousness. It is called this because spiritual powers are increased through it, so that they can be close to all who dwell in their shadow." The most accurate description of the experience of this path, however, can be found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, more precisely in the famous Judgement scene:

Here the deceased has to declare innocence in the Hall of Justice. Standing in front of the god Maat (i.e. the divine embodiment of Truth as the term translates) the deceased purges all the hidden and forbidden things he/she has done in life. Only after this purge is completed can the deceased proceed and be reborn in the netherworld. The central element of this judgement scene therefore is a confession in front of the god of Truth. It is a moment of radical honesty about the life one has led and the deeds one has kept secret and hidden within. 

That is why the center piece of the iconographic depiction of the scene is a huge scale on whose left tray is kept the heart of the deceased and on its right tray a feather (i.e. the feather of Maat, that symbolizes Truth). Only if the heart weighs less than a feather is the confession successful, the purge completed and the deceased sufficiently purified to be reborn.

So if we want to speak about the netherworld with authenticity - how do we make our hearts weigh less than a feather first? 

Well, I guess we stop holding on to things and start speaking out what we keep inside. Our hearts can become lighter by sharing and by speaking out the truth about ourselves and what we feel inside. If nothing needs to be contained, if everything can be perceived and experienced freely our hearts can allow our blood to flow free like a river and become light like a feather.

I guess rending the veils we have built around ourselves is the principle step before any advancement beyond Tiphareth can be made. The first step is taking the weights off my heart which I have placed there by not confessing my true thoughts and feeling, my real shortcomings and narcissistic desires to myself... 

The good thing is that there is a real sharp knife out there to rend these veils. Interested? Well, here is the one book that helped me reduce 'the weigh of my heart' and keep it light at least for now. It arrived years too late in my life. Hopefully it's earlier for you:
This book is the best shortcut I know to perform true Magick, i.e. to leading a happy life. It is simple and it is painful. Very painful. It is the 22nd Path of Justice in 284 pages. Here is what Brad Blanton has to say about it:

"I am sixty four years old. I have been a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C., for 30 years. People come to my office and pay me money to pay attention to them and do what I can to help out. (...) This is what I have learned: We all lie like hell. It wears us out. It is the major source of all human stress. Lying kills people. The kind of lying that is most deadly is withholding, or keeping back information from someone we think would be affected by it. Psychological illness of the severest kind is the result of this kind of lying. Psychological healing is possible only with the freedom that comes from not hiding anymore. Keeping secrets and hiding from other people is a trap. Adolescents spend most of their time playing this hide-and-seek game. The better you are at getting by with playing hide-and-seek during adolescence, the harder it is to grow up. 'Important' secrets and all the plotting and cogitation that go with them are all bullshit. The mind is jail built out of bullshit. This book tells how the bullshit jail of the mind gets built and how to escape."

So. If we are all trapped in a prison called 'intellect' I conclude the 'the sort of discussions magicians should be having' better help us figuring out how to break free from this jail built out of bullshit? 

If discussing how the use of energy in Magick can free us from this prison eventually, then let's dig deeper. If, however, this discussion just is another theoretical metal bar in my bullshit jail that separates me from real experience, then I will rather kill my intellectual mind and break free from all this bullshit...

Here is what the wonderful Micah P. Hanson has to say about killing yourself to break free and making your heart as light as a feather:

A dream of her, I honestly don't remember when
Should I tell all my friends, I'm gonna do myself in
Sure they'll try to stop me, try to call cops on me
But I kill myself, force them to give in
And it's a long way to sanity but I know you won't show me, anyway