20 February 2017

Princes and Praying

I'm consistently amazed by how fluidly these initiatory rituals progress, each lesson transforming into the next, building upon and elevating the stakes of those before them. I'm certain that this would be the case no matter which order I decided to use to go through them; they would develop their nuances all the same with a a different flavour of progression.

All the horizon-broadening "perspective alchemy" (Oriens' term) that I had spent the last two months meditating on and working with shifted into an uncanny focus with Amaymon's evocation. In the visions I was led to use the new tools I had acquired to compete with my Shadow before an array of my past selves, in order to prove which characteristics I wanted to exalt and define me at this time. At its completion I acknowledged and fondly respected the Shadow as a powerful internal ally, who would always be keeping me on my toes and challenging me regardless of how intellectually comfortable I feel with my foundations. We were both turned to ash and then were compacted tightly, being heated and tempered until we emerged as a clear prism. The light of my HGA shone through the faces, and I took turns gazing through them, each one bridging me to a past self that manifested as their own prism, one face shining at me while the others were directed at myriad other incarnations, ancestors, patrons, and forces.

Our interactions with each other took place only in the form of prayer. I prayed for my past selves and they for me. I prayed for their friends, family, and spirit contacts and they for mine. I prayed for the fulfillment of their purpose, Will, and Word; for their connection to and service of the divine, and they for mine. I felt so consumed and "enflamed" with prayer in these moments that I lost all thought of temporality; it was as if we were all on the same playing field, all "present" and "current" regardless of when and where we manifested, all striving for these fruits at the same time in a kind of peace and unity as opposed to feverish lust. We then all prayed to "our HGA"—or rather, the different ways he has made himself known to us—and then with him, and then for the World, for Spirit, and for All until everything was too bright and I awoke on a lower astral level with Amaymon again. He taught me about intricacies of prayer I had never even considered before, aggression, joy, and the "mutability of passions" in magic, and how to perceive what he called the many flames that encircle the hearts of others, what they stand for, where they come from, and how they can be worked.

Mentally I felt immensely at peace once I had concluded with the dismissal and my thanks, but physically I was exhausted. My dreams that night were all lucid; interestingly enough in one of them I ended up meeting a spirit who was waiting at some crossroads-terminal to be contacted and engaged by a magician she was fond of and had noticed because of their offerings. I made a note of her in my journal and forgot about her until later that evening when a friend let me know that she had encountered a spirit with her exact description, right down to the smallest detail, and had welcomed her into her broader court. I have a feeling that I encountered this spirit because I was made especially sensitive to the "connections of connections of connections" displayed in the ritual. Subsequent dreams in the nights following have often been lucid as well, and those that weren't were often divinatory or prophetic in nature.

These rites have been a fascinating ride from the beginning. I plan on applying for my Black Work evaluation soon and then beginning the White Work in the next month. Additionally, after a month of meditation, prayer, and some insightful omens, I've joined the Novitiate of the Order of St. Cyprian of Antioch and have excitedly begun my studies with its curriculum. I am eager to bear and work with my new commitments and to deepen my understanding of the broader context from which the enigmatic and powerful saint arises from.

11 February 2017

Holy Famulus

It's hard to believe that I'm counting another year of knowing my beloved guardian's voice and spirit. Everything has changed so dramatically for me since then; my life has been swept up in his storm of change, challenge, and evolution. Today, as I've meditated, communed, and sent out my prayers and spells, something fascinating and altogether paralyzing came up during ritual, which I no doubt will be processing for a long time.

I first encountered my HGA during a period of spiritual crisis, seclusion, and much prayer. I can and often do very clearly chart my life in terms of before and after this meeting. Acerbic, sagacious, cunning, protective, challenging, uncompromising. Powerfully loving and terribly wise. He's a whirlwind that never settles and is ever pushing me beyond and beyond. Far more than a teacher of magic, he engages me in debates on politics, ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, identity, and historiography, insisting that I train my mind to be sharp and limber. I love and trust him fiercely, which is really important considering how many times he has led (a very stubborn and haughty) me into situations that were entirely outside of my intellectual and ideological comfort zone. To cut my teeth on arguments and perspectives alien and unnerving to my ego. To learn through trials, to be humble, to be intellectually insatiable, and to see the world enraptured with wonder. To know clearly my rejections and to wrestle with them until I could engage with them with sharper rhetoric, and to then confront assumptions I didn't even remotely know I had with the same alacrity. I am eternally thankful for his intelligence, strength, and unrelenting nature; the journey he takes me on has no end.

My connection with him has maintained a good level of clarity since that meeting, and it has grown and revealed further depths through my witchcraft tradition, the teachings of other traditions (especially Sorcery of Hekate) and the use of daily Headless One. With the White Work coming up relatively soon, which involves the conjuration of the Supernatural Assistant/HGA, my assumption was that it would be a period of deepening the contact through the rituals given, culminating in an even clearer experience (though of course, writing this now, it's hard to imagine it clearer than it is, but naturally the nature of the Work is that it is ever moving beyond).

That's not exactly what my HGA had in mind, though.

His description of what he anticipated the White Work experience would be like for me included a lot more than just what was outlined in the lesson of the course. Prayers at sunrise and sunset, living more moderately, gradually increasing restrictions on food, eventually culminating in ritual fasting once a week, setting up another, smaller temple elsewhere to work in... Abramelin alarm bells were ringing in my head. I asked him if that's what his intention was, and he confirmed that he intends for me to model if not outright complete the procedure from Vernal to Autumnal Equinox, as faithfully as I can given my circumstances (school, work) with the additional use of Headless One and his constant guidance. Abramelin himself essentially says that his presentation of the rite is a best case scenario and that it will be inevitably modified to suit the circumstances of the individual, provided that the core tenets are still in place. The HGA is also to continue to guide the aspirant throughout the process.

My jaw hit the floor when he told me this. It wasn't that I was against it, I had just never even entertained the possibility. His reasons for why he wishes for me to try it are many; one of them is that it will be difficult. Difficult, exhausting, and very, very different from what I am used to. My practice has always been primarily involved with witchcraft, the shamanic traditions of the Balkans, necromancy, and divination among many others. I'm no stranger to sacrifice, but this kind of ritual retreat, prayer, fasting, and cumulative purification is completely foreign to me. And that's precisely why he said it would be the correct stage for me to step onto for the White Work. It is naturally a test of endurance, discipline, and dedication, but its rigour and stark difference in terms of what I am used to will precisely set the stage for the radical shift in mentality during the rite proper. He also mentioned to expect the time to channel an outpouring of creativity and study which the withdrawal will help me materialize more effectively without so many distractions.

I played the role of the petulant child in asking, essentially, "but why?" to everything. Again, I wasn't against the idea, I just wanted to figure out why this way and this manner. But there was also a small part of me that kept rearing its head going "but that's a lot of work just conjure you when you're already... conjured!" and thanks to meditation I was able to notice it was an impulsive, dense, surface reaction rather divorced from my reason. In truth, I was excited at the proposal from the start—he's never failed me and by now I've really come to treasure those powerful challenges of his, they've never once been anything but profoundly illuminating. That little impulse reaction is just the human desire for comfort, established rhythm, and good old laziness. It cowered away as soon as it was recognized.

Of course, the entire picture was far more rich and intriguing than just trying to "conjure him when he's already conjured". He dissected "conjure" and "him". He spoke at great length at how we as spirits differ and how we are conjoined. He led me through the way in which I first got into contact with him and it felt distant and familiar. Then the ways in which we have our constant contact and it was close and intimate. Then how it flows as I develop, grow, and integrate different energies into my spheres. And then, in the distance, something entirely unfamiliar that I cannot quite imagine or sense with any immersion: what it will be like for me going through the last week of the procedure. There are important mysteries he wants to teach me, but I have to meet him there.

And I will.

31 January 2017

Princes and Journeying

Oriens explicitly forbid any sharing of the teachings and nature of the visions that took place during his summoning three weeks ago. Horizon-broadening and world-enchanting as they were for me, he insisted that while it's not the case that the teachings are composed of "divine and mysterious secrets" that must be hidden from the "profane" or whatever, attempting to communicate them would undoubtedly colour the expectations of those who have yet to encounter/undergo them. I was immediately reminded by what occurred in the cycle of Jason Miller's Sorcery of Hekate that I took part in. As the deity contact and ritual procedures became deeper and more complicated, most of the group ceased divulging experiences entirely for the same reason; some things just need to be experienced first hand without anyone giving their take and interpretation and planting preconceptions in others.

Instead, I wanted to give a few small developments relating to the Red Work course:
  1. Ever since I worked with Egyn a two inch, brown scar I've had on my torso since I was around fourteen disappeared. This absolutely flabbergasted me. I used to apply all sorts of creams to it before eventually just giving up a few years ago and resigning myself to living with it. I don't recall watching it fade slowly or anything like that and I definitely see it every day when I'm showering. I just woke up and noticed it was gone. The skin is completely smooth as if it was never even there. It sincerely feels surreal.
  2. I've begun a regular practice of praying for and offering to the "lost", "lonely", or "forgotten" dead. This was born out of a teaching from St. Cyprian involving burial rites and necromancy pertaining to the ancestral & local dead. My offering practice already involves deities, my spiritual court, ancestors, land spirits, and those potentially offended to whom I owe toll. This is a new component, and I've been specifically directing prayers to Cyprian to guide, ennoble, and bring these spirits to peace.
  3. I have been running into some honestly consistent luck in the past month and a half. That kind where things just go right, you're never late, you always find what you're looking for in stores you've never been to, shop owners say things like "you're lucky, this is the last one in stock!" and so on. I keep finding expensive books I want to read available for cheap/at significant discounts. I've met really interesting and wonderful people from the unlikeliest places and established great friendships with them. The results of practical enchantment have manifested very swiftly and with alacrity as well.
  4. I tend to dispose of most biodegradable offerings either at the base of a tree and shrub on the Southern most part of my property or at a crossroads. Lately, however... they've been coming back! I keep finding chewed-up bits of food offerings carefully placed on my front porch, which is a fair bit of distance from the tree to carry if you're (I'm presuming) a raccoon or a squirrel. Normally they're gobbled up within a few hours of being put out. Divination has interpreted the omen to be a really positive one of content, sharing, and plenty by the local spirits. 
  5. I've been reading Plotinus' Enneads. Context, context, context!  
There are a number of books I want to give mention to soon as well. Personal projects and teachings with the spirits of my traditions aside, there's truly a lot on the horizon in terms of growing relationships with spirits and further learning in different courses. I even signed up for the Rune Soup premium membership which is already such a blast (and of course it is, it's Gordon!).

Next up is the Amaymon ritual this Sunday.

8 January 2017

Princes and Flowing

I'm going through the Demonic Prince rites in the earth-water-air-fire pattern, mirroring the current that was set up with the archangels. The evocation of Paymon, Prince of the West, took place on a Monday three weeks ago. On the rock of personal integrity that was built in the Egyn ritual, Paymon paved out the roads: outlining a web of interconnections with myself and my HGA at the center, surrounded by a plethora of different people (corporeal and non) scattered around.

The whole vision looked like a constellation, with each spirit being a different star. Some lines that connected us were thicker than others, owing their fortitude to the collection of strings that comprised them, with each thread being a different kind of connection (friend, initiator, teacher, blood family, chosen family, familiar, patron, and so on). The pathways stretched out in every direction, dimming with the distance. When I turned my attention inward I found that the same system replicated in my veins—a good portion of the vision comprised of me shrinking my awareness until I was just another cell in my blood, coursing through my body again and again until I "jumped" back into a deeper layer of my heritage, be it a past life or a memory belonging to an ancestor.

Memory and connection were the chief topics of Paymon's instruction. Manipulating, blurring, and sharpening memories, either cleansing or poisoning the waters of a mind, identifying the origins and routes of toxicity, extracting the alchemical fruits of a past life's sorcery. I got in touch with and once again expressed my gratitude to those spirits who had walked with me in this incarnation before, and have since moved on to guide and impart their lessons on others once their work with me had closed. I reaffirmed those intense and loving friendships with the spirits of my inner court, who graciously pledged to walk with me as ever-present guides in this life.

The latter portion of the instruction involved dream sorcery, which Paymon insisted I needed to learn while actually dreaming. I triggered lucidity early on and repeated the conjuration in the dream world; the lessons which then followed applied everything I had just learned concerning points of connection and the threads between souls. I floated from web to web, following different strings spun on the loom of the goddess Nit, and marveled at how they extended through the different realms and layers of spiritual density, winding and unraveling, tangling and fraying as they passed from one liminal crossroads to another, which were themselves even more complicated webs. I confess it got a little "trippy" after a certain point; I don't doubt that I could have stayed there roaming around forever had the journey not been under the supervision of my spirits and the Prince at the time. Finally, Paymon had me do the same "bloodriding" technique I used earlier on myself on one of the webs, which guided me back into my physical body, but only after what felt like experiencing a plethora of other people's flashbacks all at the same time on some great cinematic grid.

Paymon, who had appeared to me as another chimera—this time a cross between a water buffalo and a mermaid, like a hippocampus—had changed forms into what looked like the surface of water reflecting a starry sky, rippling whenever they spoke. Somehow I still had the energy to ask it a bunch of questions and just bounce ideas, especially concerning animism, reincarnation, and the nature of deity. After the dismissal (and a lot of eager thanking on my behalf) I journaled everything down and slept for almost twelve hours.

31 December 2016

December Book Roundup

The past few weeks have been an incredibly productive time for me. I've been writing like crazy, pouring out chapters for my fictional works, working deeply with the results of the Paymon invocation (more on that in a future post), and of course, honouring my gods and patrons. Naturally, I've read a lot of books as well, especially since I've been on winter break in between semesters. Some were great, some were not so great, and some were spectacularly bad. As it's about to be the new year in just a few hours, it feels right to mention some of the better and/or most interesting works I've gone through relatively recently.

PILLARS: Perichoresis
by Anathema Publishing. I'm going to replicate what I wrote on Instagram here and add a little more: I actually let out a small gasp when I opened the package this came in. I missed out on the first printings of the PILLARS journal and I knew I wanted to read them as soon as I discovered Anathema Publishing through Shani Oates' Crafting the art of Tradition. I'm so pleased to be able to go through the majority of the works featured in the journals in this spellbinding and gorgeous omnibus edition. I was familiar with most of the authors featured in the pages, with a few exceptions, and I was not disappointed in the least. The sheer love and dedication to the Craft is evident from the incredible introduction on the first few pages. Certainly nowadays there exist vapid and shallow texts being bound in beautiful formats and advertised as miraculous new occult gnosis, but it is abundantly clear from the essays in PILLARS that Anathema's works firmly rank among the truly intellectual and passionate. There was something for the Luciferian in all of us in this book, from Asenath Mason's qliphothic treatises to the utterly enrapturing rituals and devotional poems of Patrick J. Larabee, whose pieces dedicated to Qayin touched me so much I immediately flew to my computer in search of his other writings. So far he has two books out by Aeon Sophia Press, both, to my horror, sold out. Aeon Sophia seems quite fond of doing reprints, however, and assuming I don't come across a reasonably-priced copy on the aftermarket until then I will most definitely purchase them. His writing is truly soul-stirring for me, and I'm so glad to have discovered him.

Whenever a book comes out I always order the cheapest version, being the paperback if one is available or the standard hardcover if not, in the interests of saving money. Naturally, it's preferable if the layout artist of the book produces something pleasing to the eye that works together with the text for the full presentation, and this is especially true for resilient hardcover editions. I own my fair share of books with terrible covers/layouts but excellent content, of course, as have I encountered beautifully-bound obnoxious drivel. Text will always come first over presentation, for it's from the text that learning takes place. Yet there's something to be said about a volume that captures that perfect marriage of presentation and content. On second thought, maybe there's not much to be said at all. PILLARS: Perichoresis speaks for itself. There's no need to really comment on its cover; simply seeing it is enough to understand.

This book will absolutely be a treasured reference and guide just like Shani Oates' release. 

Next up is Winds of Wisdom by David Shoemaker. It's been a while since we've seen a new release from Nephilim Press. This is a very short book that is comprised mostly of the author's visions scrying the Enochian Aethyrs. There isn't much to say about the contents themselves as they're obviously very personal magical records, but needless to say they are a fascinating and inspirational read. When I begin working with Enochian magic myself, whenever that time inevitably comes, I'll definitely come back this book among many other practical writings on the same subject.

As evidenced in the picture, I also got my hands on a relatively cheap copy of the O.T.O. Thoth deck. This is a larger edition with no borders that I picked up primarily for ritual use.

Thomas Karlsson's Qabalah, Qliphoth, and Goetic Magic. Oh, how I've searched high and low for this one. Up until now I've never been able to find a copy at an acceptable price; given that my German's fairly decent I even figured I might give up and buy the much more affordable German version instead. But it finally happened! I found it for a ridiculously low price on a used bookstore's online webpage and snatched it up without a moment's hesitation. It's honestly quite a nice book with a lot of meat despite the medium page count. I loved all the references to Gershom Scholem; I spent some time tracking down the quotations Karlsson cites in the Scholem books I have for extra context, as well as brushing up on my Isaac Luria. 

At around the same time I received it I also got my hands on this gorgeous qliphothic twin-headed serpent rosary from Soth Arts. I've been eyeing it ever since it was previewed on the Teufelskunst blog and thankfully there was at least one left over from the original event where they were sold. I love the way it looks and feels in general, but it was the twin-headed black serpent at the end that made me want it so badly. I admit I'm a little confused as to why the rosary sets are in tens and not elevens, considering its meant to be qliphothic, but nevertheless it is a beautiful piece that I have already been using in my ritual work.

Trolldom by Johannes Björn Gårdbäck is a fascinating book that is filled to the brim with information on and spells from the Nordic folk magic tradition. Many of the spells echo other European folk magical traditions in their structure, being fundamentally "pagan" in structure while making use of Psalms, the Trinity, and other Christian concepts. I spent about a week going through this paperback, typing out my favourite spells in my digital grimoire, and tracing the echoes of pre-Christian Nordic beliefs in the chants and symbolism. I love and will consume virtually anything having to do with historical and anthropological forms of folk magic and this lovely gem of a book is a perfect addition to my library.

The Temple of Set volumes I and II by Michael A. Aquino: boy oh boy can Aquino write. And write and write and write he does. Meticulously. If I didn't know any better, I'd think the A. stands for appendix. I read his two-volume memoir Church of Satan around the fall of 2015 and was gobsmacked just by the level of detail alone. Every correspondence he recounts is backed up with an actual copy of the letter. Every little minute occurrence is recounted with crystal-clear lucidity. By his own confession The Temple of Set is not and cannot be the kind of book Church of Satan was. CoS is a retelling/expose/history of an organization whose spiritual mandate Aquino sees as having been effectively transferred, rendering it spiritually obsolete. It can be spoken about in fixed, definitive terms. The ToS, on the other hand, is a dynamic order that evolves, has evolved, and will continue to evolve with time. Therefore it is primarily presented as a recollection of its early history combined with numerous exemplary Temple texts on its philosophy, cosmology, magic, and so on. With many, many, many appendices. So many appendices. If you want to double-check what he's talking about, you can: just crack open the second volume and enjoy.

Content-wise it was a fascinating read into the formations and aspirations of the Temple. CoS felt at times as if one was reading some expertly researched gossip column; it grabs you in with the drama and excitement and doesn't let you go. The tone of ToS is full of the energy and vigour Aquino confesses to feeling in the pre-1975 era of the Church of Satan, before LaVey decided to start selling the priesthood degrees for money. These books were highly recommended to me by an acquaintance who is an initiate of the Temple of Set and I'm quite happy I followed his advice. Set may be one of my closest patrons, but the Temple of Set's flavour and approach is still not my cup of tea. Needless to say I enjoyed the books and would definitely recommend them.

That's it for now—I'll see you all in 2017! Enjoy your new year's, kind readers; may your efforts come into fruition.

25 December 2016

Yule 2016

Season's greetings and happy holidays to all! These days surrounding Christmas are some of my favourite throughout the year. I've been spending a lot of time curled up by the fireplace reading books, and also of course spending lots of time with loved ones. On the day of the winter solstice I spent the morning and afternoon working with my spirits and gods, and the evening at the O.T.O. lodge participating in and observing a ritual honouring Khephra. I feel so thankful for all the warmth, support, and intellectual stimulation of my friends and family at this time. I'm proud of how far we have all come together and how enduring our bonds are, especially with regards to the closest friends whom I speak with everyday, as they are what I would consider my chosen family; brothers and sisters of spirit.

At this time I am focusing primarily on integrating what I've learned from the next Prince evocation, as well as new insights and teachings from the spirits of my witch's Compass. I'll do another round-up of some of the notable books I've read soon before the New Year. Merry Christmas, happy Yule, and blessed Solstice.

15 December 2016

Princes and Healing

I suppose earth is just the one element whose initiations are consistently the most profound for me.

I've been rather hesitant to write up virtually anything on my experience summoning Egyn, Prince of the North, as part of my second (really, third) round of elemental initiations, for the simple reason that everything that transpired during the evocation was of an immensely personal nature. I first called Auriel and then asked him to bring me into contact with Egyn, so that we may have clear and effective communication between us. I wore several items of power alongside my Cyprianic scapular and bracelet for good measure as well. I've certainly worked with demons from the grimoires before, some more regularly than others, so it's not that I felt out of my element. It was more that had never called upon Egyn specifically before and didn't know what to expect. When he appeared, it was in the form of a chimera with the face, feet, and tail of a lizard and the body of a bear. I asked to be taught his techniques and to be illumined towards the tricks I would need in order to better fulfill my role. 

It wasn't pleasant for my ego or mentality at the time, but Egyn really shook my foundations for the better. He gave me his cold analysis and as difficult and outright unintuitive it was to swallow at times now, weeks later, I can truly see the genius behind it. He focused not so much on the earth around me, but the earth within—the foundations of my beliefs and self-perception—and drilled me on strengthening it by getting rid of the waste. At first I thought we would just have to beg to differ on what really classified as waste, but his intellect is truly keen; there was nothing he said that after a lot of reflection and practice I've realized didn't have an important basis.

He exposed a power divide between myself, with what I think is in my control on one side and what is actually in my control on the other. My first intuition was to think that there was less that I could control than I thought, but actually he showed me that it was the opposite case. I'm not sure where exactly to point the fingers in regards to how and where it was that I picked up and internalized these ideas (culture? upbringing? social groupings? childhood events like my near-death experience?) but it seems that buried in certain parts of my personality were a set of what could be called emotional and mental crutches that only ever come out and get used in stressful and mentally exhausting situations, and that these had to be cast aside before I continued my initiations.

I tend to consider myself to be fairly well-adjusted and mentally strong; traits that actually played a major role in the evocation's visions. The whole point of one particular episode in the vision was that certain things which I generally thought I didn't have much control over and was the fault of others were entirely in my control after all—and this was and is an unpleasant realization because those "crutches" only ever pop up in the most difficult circumstances. But it is precisely in the most difficult moments, whenever they inevitably come, that the health and strength of the "earth within" really comes into play. 

I don't really know how to elaborate more without going too deeply into personal matters having to do with some (unpleasant) events from my formative years, including the near-death experience. What I learned from the first evocation was to identify and trace how different behavioural tics evolve within myself over time, what reinforced them and built them up, and then how to untangle and weed them out. It was hard and grueling because what we were working with was in a great way comforting—I felt like a kid who didn't want to grow up and let go of their blanket—but in the end it was exceptionally liberating. Honestly, it even feels weird to just write this out as vague as it is. It was bizarre to even conceptualize myself as having these crutches in the first place, let alone actually let go of them. 

I was sweating by the end of it and my hand was cramping from how much I had been writing down in my notebook. I felt naked and clean and vulnerable and so very clear at the same time; like I could see properly after squinting for two hours. And then I was told to get myself together and call him again in a week to learn some magic, now that my ego was ready. In the lessons working with the princes in this way is described as a method to learn about the mundane aspects of elemental manifestations in the Great Work. It was exhausting but I think I understand it now: my petition to learn how to better accomplish my role in creation was sincere, and so the response was sincere too. The “me” that does the accomplishing must evolve past emotional crutches to better do the Work. That “me” is the vehicle through which all things are accomplished, and as such must be healthy and whole and clean. 

I'm under no illusion that this was a set-it-and-leave-it operation. Now that this came out into the light I can see it lingering where I couldn't before, and it's an ongoing effort and internal dialogue to work with myself to let go. But I'm glad that I'm conscious of it now and can earnestly work towards cultivating a greater emotional resilience and wisdom.

It felt only natural to do a lot of healing magic for the week between then and the next time I conjured him. I focused on self-care and being patient and honest with myself, while burning dressed candles, forgiving past grievances, and spending time with old precious friends. 

On the following Saturday we discussed competition, pragmatism, money, and health.