20 March 2017

Vernal Equinox 2017

Happy Thelemic New Year, Anno V:iii, and Vernal Equinox to all you lovely, lovely people. Today marks the start of my six month HGA retreat, modeled similarly but not exactly on Abramelin. The structure is divided over three two-month periods with increasing restrictions and prayer & ritual requirements, culminating in a week of conjuration. Some Abramelin-specific guidelines were intentionally removed by my HGA (such as the "no doing magic that isn't healing" restriction, the specification that the operator should be older than twenty-five, and others) but some new ones specific to my circumstances and what would be best to create the stress of retreat for me were added in their place. I'm not going to be saying that I'm doing "Abramelin" proper, but I'm definitely not going to be downplaying the intentional parallels and generous borrowing, hence the tag. 

I followed my HGA's instructions closely and performed the modified Headless One included in the White Work as well. I was completely flummoxed by what I saw and will be journaling this in my daily magical diary thoroughly. Something unlike I've ever encountered before seems to be taking flight with this procedure and for the first time, beyond just trusting my spirits about this whole "retreat", I'm really seeing how drastically new and different what it is my HGA wants to show me over the next half a year is. The hints already are of an entirely different kind; a completely new dimension of understanding what it is that he reveals to me. No doubt this will be an exhilarating journey.

I am surrounded by the thoughts of dear friends and the presences of dear spirits around me as I work the Equinox. Cleaning, purifying, blessing, communing with my gods and working the Compass of my witchcraft. Meditating on the Empress and calling on Horus. The past year has been one of the most memorable and wonderful for me, not only in terms of spiritual development but in exercising my creativity through writing a soon-to-be-finished novel, deepening existing relationships, and making genuine and empowering friendships both in the city and online. Cutting off contact with toxic, narcissistic acquaintances was also an important contribution to my mental health as much as exercising more was for my physical health. I've never been happier with my appearance/fitness and my "earthly" company, as Ziia and I like to jokingly say.

There's going to be a lot of studying, writing, and refining in the coming months and I am so pleased to be riding the current where it takes me. Trusting in the spirits and powers and seeing where things go, while cultivating the tools to take over whatever happens. Taking in the journey and the dreams.

19 March 2017

Equinox Prep

It was my great pleasure to assist my lodge with initiating a new round of Minervals. Having the chance to look over the ritual text and set up the temple was certainly an invaluable experience for me, as it definitely deepened my appreciation for the experience. I also greatly enjoyed meeting members from another Ontario lodge who attended the initiation. It had always been my hope that I would find a community of magicians locally since I began university; I had just always assumed I would likely get along the most with say, the Wiccan or neopagan circles in the city, not the Thelemic ones! I am really privileged to have met so many intelligent and interesting people. It's wonderful to be able to learn about Thelema, grimoires, and Enochian magic while also discussing traditional witchcraft, animism, psi research, the PGM, Iamblichus, and even Andrew Chumbley's writing with friendly, knowledgeable, and engaging practitioners.

With tomorrow being the Equinox there is a lot of work to be done. I'm officially beginning the restrictive, prayerful retreat with my HGA, heeding his instructions and working with materials provided by the White Work course and Abramelin. It's also going to be Thelemic New Year, ushering in Anno V:iii, so I will be doing my own Supreme Ritual Invocation of Horus and a meditation on the Empress card which will represent the year.

11 March 2017

Conjuring the Genius

This past Thursday, as a part of my White Work training, I conjured for the first time my Natal Genius or Nativity Angel, as described in Chapter 26 of the third book of Agrippa's Occult Philosophy. Rufus Opus has a blog post about this and I used the same spreadsheet he developed to calculate the name of mine. Thankfully, I know the exact minute I was born, so using the spreadsheet was a breeze. After fiddling around and converting the Hebrew to Celestial Script (I just really like the way it looks), I placed my Genius' name on one of Polyphanes' blank lamen templates and strung some chord through the hole.

I timed the ritual so that I would do the evocation precisely in the minute of my birth. I'm certain it would have worked otherwise, but since I was planning on doing it on a Thursday anyway, which is the day of the week I was born on, I figured it would be neat to narrow the time even more. I used the usual DSIC setup and conjured away. The place on my body where my fetch lives flared up the moment I vibrated the Genius' name, and I heard its voice immediately after.

The Genius manifested in a form that was immensely familiar to me, even though I had never seen its particular configuration before. Interestingly, it came across to me as androgynous, with a youthful voice that teetered slightly towards feminine, in stark contrast with my HGA whose voice almost always presents as deep, rumbling, masculine, and elder. I spent the majority of the operation asking questions and jotting down responses. The spirit was immensely tender and loving, and the more time we spent in dialogue the more I felt myself reciprocate the intensity of its affection, naturally and openly. It provided me with additional names, a seal to include on its lamen, insight and counsel on various aspects of my practice, and various predictions for the future concerning my life in general.

One of the topics of our conversation was the name derived from my natal chart itself. I asked my Genius if it could elaborate on the nature on the name and (UPG alert) it characterized the letters as a kind of "password of [my] birth—and of [the Genius] who is there when there is a birth of [me]". It described itself as the "guardian of [my] soul's reincarnation", my "divine midwife across the aeons". It stressed the sacredness of the first breath, which it described as a kind of capstone on the incarnation process, generating the "key" or "password" to the secured and stabilized divine embodied presence. The generated name is then like an interface for the job the Genius performs with each birth. It specifically said that while it is the same Genius that provides its services to the reincarnating soul, it is as "mutable as [my] many bodies" and shifts just like the time of the first breath within drastically different flesh does, flowing to actualize different instantiations of the soul's Will, nature, and purpose. It reminded me of just how different I am now from when I was a child, let alone between incarnations, and spoke of its own mutability in similar terms, while emphasizing that it is only a metaphor. If we work within a model which includes reincarnation, as the majority of all spirits I have spoken to do, then naturally my given name and physical form themselves change every time. Just like how my name and body aren't the "realest" things about me as a soul, they are still very "real" in the sense that they are the chief vehicles and expressions I use to navigate my entire embodied existence. And since my Genius "follows [me] into the ecstasies of birth each time through the threshold opened by that first breath", it also partakes of that process, its "key" being generated anew.

Going into the ritual I thought that if my Genius gave me another name to call it by that I would most likely end up favouring it over the letters generated from the chart. Now I feel equal affection and love for all the ones I've received and the different aspects they represent. Honestly, when I first calculated the name through the spreadsheet I had an "oh, okay then" moment—no intimate visions or a big "aha!" moment I expected to have. Now, that name is positively alive for me, brimming with meaning and embodied mystery. I feel it in every breath my body takes. One of the reasons I absolutely love this kind of Hermetic magic is the rediscovery and active engagement with these profound, cosmic spirit relationships that are just always there. By reclaiming both our nature and our spiritual responsibilities through the divine within us, we can willfully reach back to what is ever reaching our way, whether we recognize it or not.

My Genius also described itself as an active power of my birth, facilitating generation, inspiration, induction, and arousal. The "Evil Daimon", on the other hand, it described as not so much a little devil trying to make everything go wrong but more a power of entropy and decay, and even consequence: the consequence of turning my back on the light of the One, the Good, the First Father. Essentially, it's not there to tempt people into evil, more to unravel everything around them in an effort to sober them up if they're approaching rock bottom, so that they can get right with themselves and with Spirit, lest they really self-destruct. The very concept of these spirits is really quite new to me, and I'll definitely be processing all of what it revealed to me for a long while. I will definitely be calling on my Genius frequently as it encouraged me to—evocations aside, it also taught me a simple divination system and accompanying prayer that I can use whenever I need its advice.

7 March 2017

Courses and Orders

Time for a quick update! The past few weeks have been exceedingly busy, both with respect to university and the different magical instruction programs I am working through. I applied for my Black Work certification in late February and passed my examination to become the first graduate of the BW course at the Society of Royal Philosophers. :) The course, instruction, and community itself has been wonderful, and I am especially looking forward to reading about the experiences of other students as they proceed through the Princes.

With respect to the Red Work, I am now going through Rabbi David. A. Cooper's The Mystical Kabbalah course and preparing for the HGA work ahead. The next major task in the White Work for me is to conjure my Natal Genius, which I plan on doing this Thursday in the same minute I was born. I've also been churning out sigil shoals like never before thanks to the first Rune Soup premium membership course, assisting with new O.T.O. Minerval initiations, and getting in all sorts of trouble and fun thanks to the second part of Sorcery of Hekate. Over the reading week break I ended up dedicating an entire day to travelling around the city with an all-day bus pass... just to gather dirt. From like a dozen locations. The vessel it was for turned out perfectly, for which I am immensely pleased.

I've also been recently accepted into the Novitiate of the Order of St. Cyprian of Antioch, which I recommend everyone interested in the saint to check out: cypriani.org. The founder and Prior General is also the instructor at Royal Philosophers, which is how I came to know about the new Order. In addition to getting accustomed to the new duties and daily disciplines of being a Novice I've also been (gleefully) chipping away at the Novitiate's prolific reading list and formulating thoughts for my first essay for the Order. I am so glad to be learning under the mentorship of the OSC and am greatly looking forward to what the future will bring for it.

And, naturally, I've been proceeding through a replenishing mountain of books on my desk. I'll post another roundup soon to touch on some favourites!

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 and complete his tweaked version of 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.