24 June 2017

Completions and Connections

Wew. What an eventful month it has been! In addition to clearing Rune Soup's amazing course on the history and praxis of the grimoire tradition, continuing my studies with Benebell Wen's Astrology Course for Beginners, receiving some extremely illuminating new instructions with regards to my ongoing trials in the White Work, performing numerous successful spells, providing substantial content and copy editing for a new occult writer's book, reading a whole pile of amazing new books, completing a major year-long creative endeavor, and nursing my cat through an infection, I also celebrated my birthday. :) It's been quite the ride, and I'm definitely feeling better than ever. 

The aforementioned grimoires course has inspired me more than ever to start tackling grimoires on their own, as their own systems— though this time with a more nuanced appreciation for their historical context, the ways in which they came to diverge, and of course, which tools and procedures are vital and cannot be substituted out for convenience and laziness' sake, given the broader historical understanding. Naturally, this means that not every grimoire will be "for me"; often it's better to switch systems and do one as it was intended as opposed to half-assing another and then puzzling over why there weren't any powerful spirit manifestations. Out of the ones in my possession at the moment, the ones which have captured my heart the most are the Hygromanteia and the Grimorium Verum. The former's planetary prayers and directional conjurations have become a staple of my practice, as of this year, and the latter will be the first I will attempt to work fully and faithfully as a system. 


Part of the course itself involved conjuring the dragon treasure spirit, Birto. I think I spent half an entire day making the circles for the two of us, and they really did come out marvelously. I conjured him into an Indonesian wooden dragon statue and struck up a pact that has already been immensely fruitful with no signs of slowing down. 


Our coven also recently upgraded our guiding spirit's vessel. Unlike a deity or a major power behind the coven like the Horned Master and the Witch Mother, our guiding spirit, whom we often call the Sentinel, remains enthroned close to us, functioning as a personal guardian to the whole of the group, negotiating with other beings on our behalf, assisting us individually as an inter-court member, and all around being a ridiculously powerful tutor and mentor. All we had been missing for his new skin was a raven's feather and the right kind of vessel, and with both in hand we installed his powers on an astrologically auspicious day. He's been charming minor miracles left and right for each of us since, and his manifestations have been even more alarmingly physical than they've usually been. 

I love tending to the vessels of the spirits that I work with; cleaning them with rainwater, anointing them with oils, placing them in the moon's path to absorb her light, offering them incense, food, and good drink. The powerful affection I feel for all my spirits, and the love they feel for me in return, is something I treasure beyond words. When that devotion is done with a group of trusted, loving witch-siblings, the numinous connections are made even more brilliant thereby.

28 May 2017

Kumalak

So I've been learning Kumalak, which a good friend of mine described as "the best geomantic oracle that nobody ever heard of". This is a system native to Central Asia, most popular in modern-day Kazakhstan and employed by a variety of folk magicians and shamans for divining the future. (Interestingly, Kumalak does have a presence in the Balkans, having been carried over by the Ottoman occupation.) Like geomancy, it can provide advice both incredibly esoteric and utterly mundane, and is remarkably versatile despite being far less complicated than its more famous counterpart. I've really fallen in love with this quirky system, and I'd like to take some time now to explain the gist of it and spread the word.

To read Kumalak, you need 41 beans (or pebbles, seeds, etc.) and a 3x3 square cell grid. Take the beans and divide them into three piles as your intuition guides you. Beginning from the right, remove four at a time until there are a maximum of four beans left. These will go in the top right square on the grid. Do the same for the middle pile and the top middle square, and then again for the left and top left. Scoop the remaining beans into one pile, and then repeat the process for the middle row, dividing them into three piles, taking four away at a time, and filling out the squares. Once you've done the same for the last row, it's time to interpret.


Here's an example of a Kumalak reading I did; all the squares have 1-4 beans, with the leftovers below. Like with the witnesses and the judge in geomancy, you can verify whether or not you've done the division correctly with some simple math. The total of the beans in the first row when added together should be either five or nine; for the second, four, eight, or twelve; and for the third, also four, eight, or twelve. 

Each square is, according to its row, assigned a symmetric part of a greater picture. For the top, the squares are eye, head, and eye. For the middle, hand, heart, and hand. Lastly, the bottom row is foot, horse, and foot. Generally, the top row handles past influences, the middle the present, and the bottom the future. If you know your elemental correspondences from geomancy, reading the beans should be no problem. One is fire, two water, three air, and four earth. Each possible row combination has its own name according to tradition, taken from the right-most square. In the reading above, for example, the top row is "wind in the head, sand in the eyes", because there are three beans (air) in the head, and four (earth) in the right eye. For the middle, it's "fire in the heart, earth in the hands." And lastly, at the bottom we have "horseman of wind on horse of water". 

These combinations for head, eyes, heart, hands, horseman, and horse all have their own combinations which are relatively intuitive if you're familiar with the active and passive roles of the elements and how they combine (again, knowing geomancy makes this all go a lot easier). There are some special figures as well, pertaining to particular column and diagonal combinations (all odd numbers in the certain columns/diagonals, or all ones in the middle column, or the sum of the diagonals being equal, etc.) which have to be memorized, but other than that I've found picking up the system to be fairly simple. 

Your main guide for learning Kumalak will probably be the book and kit from Didier Blau. The French version is almost always in stock on Amazon, and the English isn't too hard to come by either. In addition to a short book which goes over the practice and all the possible row combinations and what they mean, the kit also comes with the 41 beans (be sure to count them yourself, mine had a few more, in case you lose some, I presume), the cloth in the picture, and a felt, green drawstring pouch you can assemble. However, you could always just use your own beans or small pebbles and paint/draw on bristol board/cloth your own casting mat, and learn to read online. There are a number of websites and tutorials that rehash the information found in Blau's book just a short Google search away.

22 May 2017

Cyprian and Sigils

Soon, in just a few short months, it will officially be two years since I encountered St. Cyprian in a dream and accepted his call to work with him. Steadily, he's become one of my most potent spirit allies; a partner in sorcery, and an erudite teacher of Christian, pagan, and goetic gnosis. Just like how my HGA is always making sure I'm not slacking off, that my mind is open, flexible, and discerning, so too has the good saint, in our relationship, ensured that I ever seek a greater command over my life and a more sagacious understanding of its mysteries. 

In addition to studying and reflecting on the material from the Order of St. Cyprian and my own learning under the saint's auspices, I've also been, thanks to the Rune Soup premium membership, involving him far more directly with a wider breadth of magical techniques, including sigils. Now that through the course I've come to a better understanding of what sigils are useful for and how they (seem to) work, I've started actually using them far more often and with greater effect. Before Rune Soup I would rarely, if at all, craft and activate sigils in my magic. Now I have multiple shoals up and running passively in my life all the time, keeping momentum going and making things more interesting in general. They also serve as excellent road maps for workings—with a shoal I can set boundaries without restricting the ability to approach targets obliquely and with wiggle room for surprise blessings, and then layer on top of them with witchcraft, spirit conjuration, and other spell castings. 

As a result, there have been a lot of sigil papers lying around my home. Originally, I was planning on just sticking them around in low attention zones—just off the side of the television, pinned against the fridge with magnets, stuck into the sides of bathroom mirrors—but the results didn't exactly vibe with me. Instead, my spirits advised me to have a more unified place for them to "cook"; a place which itself can be enchanted to further amplify and manifest them. On my Senut shrine I have a "prayer jar" which holds, alongside a lock of my hair, numerous written prayers and petitions to the Netjer. Whenever it gets full I burn them, hair and all, in an outdoor ceremony. I considered making something similar, only under St. Cyprian's patronage, and for the purposes indicated above, but when I pitched it to him he instead presented a vision of a book of manifestation: a blank journal consecrated under his name, in a particular manner, to be filled with sigils drawn in the appropriate planetary colours and activated in the correct combination of lunar days, planetary hours, and under the auspices of the Hygromanteia spirits and himself. Within a few days I purchased a fresh journal and set to work, completing the book's enchanting process in the middle of April. 


Ever since then, I've been sigil-ing away constantly, and they've been activating like never before. Getting the "spirit timing" right has been a massive boon and I owe it to the Rune Soup course for taking me beyond just planetary hours, but the book has ensured an even more compact and smooth manifestation process, incorporating all the elements into a single seat. It's like the whole thing is a "robofish" now; every time one sigil activates it just pulls all the others together with them into materialization. I've done a fairly equal split between sigils for things I really want and those which are just for fun. The latter are those kinds of things which just make life interesting and convenient, like always having a seat on the subway or bus, my packages always arriving safely and as soon as possible into my hands, people giving me discounts and free stuff in stores, or running into more people who speak the non-English languages I speak in public. Sigils are a free, infinite resource, after all, so if I'm not going to add a fuller ceremony to it with appropriately-oiled candles, incense, evocation, and so on, it's usually because it's something like that.

As soon as the book was created I ended up dreaming of a number of different project ideas pertaining to the saint. One was to create a kind of travelling fetish for St. Cyprian—something much smaller than my 12" altar statue—which could be taken along into outdoor workings alongside my Cyprianic rosary to seat his essence. At the time I was considering making a mojo hand or maybe even trying to carve something simple, yet within a few days I came across a pair of 4.5" statuettes of the good saint from Mexico for sale on Etsy. I thought they were perfect, so I bought both with the intention to split them between myself and Ziia. 


I chose the one on the right, of course; that sassy raised eyebrow paint job really spoke to me ,':). 


The statuette—alongside a wooden disc I had painted red, with Cyprian's ponto over it in black—began their nine day enchanting process on a Saturday and just recently finished. During the novena three major sigil groups created directly under the saint activated. The more coherence my magical practice and spiritual relationships gain, the more momentum my workings acquire, chaining off each other like the pages of shoals in the book. 

It needs a name, I've realized. I'm tempted to call it something like "Cyprianic Activation Tome", just so that the acronym ends up being CAT. 

1 May 2017

Walpurgisnacht 2017

Yesterday, our coven bore witness to one of the most transformative rituals we have undertaken to date. Our hearts were the drum's beat, silent as the storm. In pitch darkness, illumined only by two torches, each lit for Hekate, we called on the Queen of the Witches, she who guards our circle and sanctions our coven, to lead us into the passionate Wilds beyond the hedge. 

I led the chant, though eventually my voice could do no more than whisper as the rain came. It began to pour as soon as the evocation was over. The darkness and the distant torches had blurred to become tiny pearls, ephemeral and blinking, and my skin was sloughing off in snakeshed ribbons in preparation for the flight. We were soon in the verdant crypt, our bonds ensuring that we could still feel each other even when it was too pitch to see. 

The rite itself was tumultuous in all the rending, howling ways that Brimo is. The harsh and implacable one put us through the tests we had petitioned for, and the resultant alchemy was an initiation unlike any other. We were consumed, we were dissolved, we were reborn of stardust, misty chthonic womb-water and lightning-hot dragon-blood. We were remade as the animals of her faces, and we ran, slithered, flew, and flowed with the whip-cracks of the thunder outside and the tempest of the astral vision. Once we had finished learning the inceptions of the arcana that was being passed on to us, we held a sacred supper for the goddess and communed with our guides in silence. Exhausted, I lit a single candle afterwards, healing and marveling at the changes my astral shape had undertaken, loving myself and my spirits, whispering her beloved chant and mantra.


It's time to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep, to join that selfsame leaping toad into the watery tomb of the dark, and commune with all the many lovers who dwell beneath the touch of my flesh.

28 April 2017

Spirit Affinities + Further Tools

My tools are mine, but they are also my spirits'. We share them because we are a team, a family born of love, experience, and ordeal, who have chosen to walk alongside each other. I don't really form those kinds of bonds with just about anybody, as is the case with my living friends, and I've personally worked with so, so many more familiars and spirits who have since moved on, having taught me the lessons that they wished to impart and then gone in search of new pupils to tutor in the same way, than those who are pacted in the soul-threads of my inner court. There are spirits, power animals, personal emissaries of the guardians of gateways and so on, who have all remained for years before it was time to part—not permanently, for I am still free to call upon their names and seals at any time should I need them, but nevertheless part in the sense that they wouldn't be working so constantly in my outer court. 

What I have repeatedly referred to as the inner court is really a family. Some have been with me in prior incarnations, guiding, teaching, and empowering me across multiple lives and assisting me in uncovering and reclaiming the spiritual gifts and alliances of those past vaults of knowledge. Others I've encountered in this form through shamanic work, astral journeying, or alliances with other powers—the gods, angels, demons, and elementals who bestow familiars. We're a real unit, and we can easily rely on each other. Their powers continue to astound me every day, from the speed, efficacy, and incredible fullness of their manifestation to the accuracy of the insights and messages they convey. I strive to be a worthy student and an excellent witch-shaman to them all; apprentice, friend, and someone they can be proud of. 

In working to consecrate my new cup—a silver chalice my spirits took a great liking to while I was thrift shopping—I came to really appreciate a deeper level of the unity, flexibility, and cohesiveness of my court. The way we work together when we make powders, herbal washes, tinctures, and oils. The way each lends their breath to a mojo hand, a talisman, an amulet, a poppet, a fetish. The way every strand of alien creativity comes to blend in sigil shoals, spells, crafting projects, and large-scale evocations. I see our unity in spirit mirrored in the unity of the silver circle of the cup's mouth. We come together, we weave reality, and we pull, pluck, and mend what we please.


In one of my books I keep a long list of different affinities belonging to the spirits that I work with, both those of the inner and outer courts and those inner contacts with whom I have regular albeit less personal relationships with. Underneath the list of preferred offerings are a 777-style catalog of different materia, plants, stones, incenses, and so on which best appeal to the nature of the familiars and pacted companions. Beyond just what it is that they prefer to have in their vessels or stuffed in fetishes dedicated to earthing their currents and powers, these also relate to which tools it is that they move through with the most fluidity. Some of it is obvious—the faeries in my court find iron offensive—and others are thoroughly animistic, in that raven spirits prefer raven-imaged materia; liquor bottles with a raven emblem, cloths on which a raven is painted, and so on. Subtle virtues of plants and planetary connections of different materia are also thoroughly taken into account, as are dedication. 


My principle knife is a black-handled blade I consecrated in the name of Hekate as part of the teachings given in Jason Miller's Sorcery of Hekate arcana. If I had enchanted it in any other way, the Hekatean spirits I work with certainly would still be able to bless and channel their efforts through it, but since it positively lives and breathes the Witch Goddess' essence now, the effects when using it in conjunction with them are significantly more powerful. I can and do harvest plants with it, for all plants ultimately belong to Hekate, though on the advice of my spirits I've also adopted a pure copper-bladed knife as well for strictly herbal and plant-spirit related workings. Under the auspices of lady Venus, this blade sings the hymns of the Green Kingdom, amplifying and resouling even the dormant sparks within dried herbs to vibrate again with the songs of their roots.

20 April 2017

Gateways Through Light and Shadow

This review has been long, long overdue. A full repertoire of magic + regular occult study + academic work + personal creative projects + an increasing emphasis on aspects of the Craft and different initiatory currents which cannot be spoken of publicly = not a whole lot of time for blogging. Regardless, I still definitely want to continue in the spirit of mentioning some of the better books I've been reading, perhaps in regular roundups like before, as I quite like that format. That said, there is no way I can let this particular gem fly by on a mere list. I read this back in late 2016 and have literally gone back to it every single month, finding new pearls which continue to entice and inspire my mind with every perusal. I don't normally do fuller reviews beyond a paragraph, but there is just so much I want to say about this book that I just can't resist the temptation.


Gateways Through Light and Shadow is the second book by the venerable Frater Ashen Chassan, and easily one of my top five favourite occult books of all time. Beneath the luxurious, Azoth Press binding is the kind of book I've always wished I could read: the intimate, honest accounts of what transpired during spirit evocations. Ashen Chassan's method is of course our favourite Drawing Spirits into Crystals (DSIC), which I first came across through Rufus Opus' writings and then, naturally, in Francis Barrett's The Magus once I acquired it. His first book, Gateways Through Stone and Circle, was an exhilarating catalog of his pursuit to replicate the rituals as faithfully as possible. In Light and Shadow we are treated to a truly awe-inspiring account of the fruits of his labour. 

Every detail concerning the rituals undertaken is meticulously described. The scribing of his scryer's visions is related so faithfully it even includes the pauses between channeled messages, an advantage given by recording the rituals themselves for the most accurate retelling. As the conjurer, Ashen Chassan does not hesitate to ask the spirits tough questions on their opinions of humanity, their own birth, and their thoughts on different historical issues we've faced in our striving to understand our religious traditions. Even more importantly, he does not hesitate to include the answers given; naked and exposed just as they are, even when they may seem counter-intuitive and uncomfortable. Following each ritual, commentary and afterthoughts are provided by himself and his scryer, who speak frankly about what they felt, how the words received impacted them, what they thought was too ambiguous, and what they knew they needed more answers towards. 

In between rituals Ashen Chassan writes eloquently of the different procedures he enacted in order to procure and consecrate various tools the archangels and spirits recommended to him. My favourite tool was the quartz-handled Saturnian blade; reading Cassiel's description of what it is and then further Ashen Chassan's account of the consecration process literally had me shivering in my seat. His dedication to the craft alongside his excellent ability as a writer truly takes you along for the ride with him, inspiring any magician to seek ever more intimate spirit contact, inner knowledge, and authentic ritual procedure. 

There are a number of techniques divulged in the book that I've incorporated into my own DSIC workings, but one which stands out as a general practice, not relating specifically to any one method of conjuration that I've eagerly taken on is his "Ritual Litany of the Ascending Mages". This is a ceremony to honour the operator’s ancestors: the pioneering occultists and magicians of the past. From Enoch to Iamblichus, Giordano Bruno to Franz Bardon, this rite praises, if I counted them correctly, sixty-three philosophers and magi and aligns the magician firmly in their current of ever-unfolding mystical discovery. This is a powerful practice and a kind of ancestral devotion that I think is truly vital and necessary. I've incorporated it into one of my weekly ancestral rites, wherein I pay homage to all the teachers who came before me with cool water, light, and prayer.

Given my deep love of my spiritual court and familiars, and the nature of my own craft being so closely-aligned with the guidance and otherworldly intelligence and insight of those immaterial allies, it should be no surprise that the part of the book that touched me the most was his detailed account of his familiar spirit Hiram. Ashen Chassan leads us through the developing relationship from its inception; from the very shamanic vision-journey in which he met him, to the growth of their friendship as they got to know each other, to the climactic ensoulment of the familiar in a brilliantly-prepared human skull vessel, and the valuable advice Hiram had been providing to the magician ever since. I fell in love with their story and found so much of myself in the tender descriptions of daily offerings, communion, and friendship with the spirit that would come to assist not only him but his friends and family, as a veritable house patron. If even this book leaves you hungry for more with regards to this familiar relationship, definitely check out Nephilim Press' Ritual Offerings anthology, where his essay further details this exact partnership.

Anyone who works with spirits, regardless of whether or not they use ceremonial or grimoire-based magic, would be immensely enriched by the reading of Gateways. Please do get yourself a copy from Miskatonic/Azoth Press, and while you're at it pick up the first installment in the series over at Amazon; Nephilim Press released a paperback quite a while ago for all of us who missed the hardcover to enjoy. 

9 April 2017

Pentacle of Earth

We're only three weeks into this HGA retreat venture and I'm already feeling the pressure. It's like I can't help but work-work-work, consecrating, evoking, empowering, and restructuring all the little bits and pieces of my life through the spirits and inner powers. I'm on fire with how much I need to do, but thankfully I've learned enough from Egyn and my Genius regarding how to keep my feet firmly on the ground, my body nourished, and my mind rested. Not that that's kept the inevitable fatigue away, of course, but it's kept it managed.

Guided by my HGA and Genius, I decided that one thing I definitely had to do soon was to call on the four archangels and the four directional princes in another round of evocations, and consult with them for a kind of "progress update". I had spent all of this year so far wrestling with and putting into practice what it is that they've shown me, and I think I've done a pretty good job. But if there's anything I've learned from working with them (and of course, the spirits of my court), it's how blind we all are to our own blind spots, and so I was very interested in going back to them, presenting the fruits of my inner alchemy, and asking for their evaluation and next steps. Egyn didn't let me proceed to the "practical/magical" portion of his teachings for nearly a month until I got this one thing down right, and I really value that rawness and authenticity. 

Naturally, I want to show the spirits that I am a magician of integrity; that I don't just call them and ask for initiations and then do nothing but ride their waves out passively without putting any effort into making my world and the world around me better. Rather, I want to prove that I work hard at what they show me and then come back for more, eager to cultivate a continuously evolving relationship with them and their multifaceted teachings. Studying the Red Work material has definitely deepened the level of affection I feel for these spirits. Far from seeing them as a kind of contact I can just call up for advice and then hang up on until next time, treating them like one-dimensional characters on some table of correspondence phone book, I've come to love them as my family, and in that love discover a lot about my soul what it means to be me. 

So I went back and conjured Auriel and Egyn together three times: Saturday-Thursday-Saturday. I received a number of instructions, one of which was to go out and either make or buy a magical tool that would function as the seat of coalescence and growth, on which any desire and product (sigil, charm bag, vessel) could be placed to ascend to full manifestation. They made it clear that it was only when I had fully embraced how it is that my own body and mind bring to manifestation all the little internal impulses, thoughts, and habits I had previously been ignorant of or thought I had under control that I could properly consecrate an external tool, for external magical tools are only ever extensions and refinements of the magical capabilities of the inner self. The reason they only revealed the method of consecration (and gave their license to assist in the manner as well) now was because I had tempered the inner sufficiently enough so that there would be no accidental conflict in the flow of power to the outer. Small wonder I had to go through such a mentally and emotionally grueling experience first. It was a real kind of purging, not just so that I could open up to accept something new, but more so that I could enable authentic parts of myself to see more light and take up more space that had been previously denied to them by the more scattered, cluttered parts of my monkey mind.

Shortly after the first evocation I stumbled upon an earth pentacle another magician had made and was selling that I immediately resonated with. Being that the "four elemental tools" are really a modern invention, I've never found myself very attracted to having a "full set" and using them in strictly elemental ways. That said, knives, cups, and wands have certainly featured in the various forms of authentic, historical witchcraft my practice is informed by, they've just never been attributed to the elements in the way they are in the Golden Dawn, as an example. My altar has always been equipped with a knife, a cup, and a wand, each having taken multiple incarnations, but what those tools mean to me and what my relationship is with them has drastically changed and will continue to change as I work more with and learn under the spirits. When I first started out as a baby witch I certainly thought of them in more elemental terms, because I had been so immersed in modern tarot decks and books which affirmed that view. Later after developing a relationship with the beings that govern my witchcraft tradition, I came to see them in a completely new, more versatile light. Now my understanding of the elements and their role as the "translators" of creation (as opposed to the building blocks) has also informed a new appreciation for potential tool attributions, especially since I see them as being a lot more than just either the physical earth/water/air/fire or even their corresponding properties, but also as modes of thinking, moving, breathing, and being.

In a sense, I kind of came full circle. I don't see the "elemental tools" as inherently elemental, but I do see how their forms can express the "ways of the elements", as Auriel called them. My cup, for example, is a lot more than just a ceremonial water cup, but it can express a lot about the ways of water when I need it to, and when it wants to. What the spirits asked me to do was to obtain a tool that would be the seat of manifestation, coalescence, and growth because those are the chief ways of earth. With those qualities in mind, I was to be mindful of the form of the tool. Things should be able to lie comfortably on its surface when cooking, so to speak, otherwise if it is a bowl it should be large enough to hold most potential materia. I decided that I wanted something flat and sturdy that even larger objects could sit on, either a small table or a disc. My only other instructions were that it should pay heed to the spirits and the stars which share in the same way or path. 

Pentacles and discs really lend their forms well to this sort of practice, and I can really see why it's no accident that a modern tradition developed around this understanding. I thought that quartz, gold, beeswax, or clay would make a good base. Ultimately what I went with was an exemplar another magician had made for sale that I fell in love with; a clay earth pentacle heated with olive oil and beeswax for hardening and sealing. It bears the names Uriel, Phorlakh, Kerub, Ghob, Gnomos, and AGLA around the rim, with the signs for Jupiter and Saturn, and Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn surrounding the earth symbol. In the middle is the final ה‎ of יהוה. 


I took it lovingly into my hands as soon as I received it, treating it like an important comrade. I rubbed it with Abramelin oil and consecrated it under Auriel and Egyn on the third evocation. I've already used it to charge and seat a spirit's essence into a home I had created for it. The whole vessel sat on the pentacle for 24 hours and immediately began manifesting "supernatural activity" once I had taken it off to place it on the proper altar.

I'm halfway through this process for the water instrument, but will leave the details for after the full moon when the consecration is complete.