17 October 2016

Water II

Water initiations are something of an oddball for me. One the one hand, they've always brought increased clarity in divination, scrying, and spirit communication, alongside a helping of heightened empathy. Yet these effects are always coupled with ephemeral emotional states that feel anything but. The highs and the lows are equally as drastic and yet they flow seamlessly into one another: I'll be elated for an hour and then solemn for the next two. Things that would normally have little effect on me would move me to tears; conversely, things that would normally move me to tears instead send me into a rut of depression. Heart-wrenching compassion wrestles with acerbic doubt. So while my psychic senses are greatly enhanced, their efficacy in a way is actually thrown into flux by the possible hindrances the shifting emotions present.

These were the considerations that I had been mulling over while preparing for the water initiation last Monday. Though I didn't voice them, Gabriel brought them up during the evocation and pointed out that though the experience is no less intense each time one undergoes the initiation, the process of calibration for the energies being integrated into one's sphere proceeds more smoothly. At this time I believe I can safely say that it has been the case. I'm certainly still processing all the emotions that became unearthed by the waters, but it's easier to engage with them in a more lucid fashion than before. The bedrock laid down in the Earth initiation also provides a high degree of stability, literally grounding the more turbulent facets of the initiation for easier engagement. 

Though this could be considered to be more characteristic of the upcoming air ritual, one change I've really noticed is a decidedly easier time penetrating texts while studying. To use the language of feelings, it's like it's infinitely easier to simply get a sense or "feel" for what their authors wanted to convey to the hearts of their readers. This has been of immense value not only in school (my assessments of my assigned readings for the last week have been consistently shrewd) but also, of course, with my magical practice. I am actually studying the Gnostic Mass right now as I've been signed on to play the role of one of the two Children for our lodge, and I've seen similar effects in that realm. Engaging with dense writings in general have been much more rewarding on an intuitive level. I am eager to see how the addition of air will play into all of this come this Wednesday.

8 October 2016

Earth II

The most peculiar part of Rufus Opus' Seven Spheres system for me was definitely the recommended order of the initiations. You start at Jupiter, work your way down from Mars to the Moon, and then go back up to Saturn for the final ritual. When I first went through the initiations last year I was determined to follow the book's suggestions as it was all very new for me. Now that I'm approaching Trithemian conjuration again through an actual course as opposed to as a solo endeavor, the order has been reversed—and frankly it makes a lot more sense to me that way. You get a taste of all the different planetary spheres in Moon, and then move your way up in the same order of succession as the actual Hermetic model of the planets.

The reprise of the seven spheres initiations proper will be taking place way later, however. At this stage in the Red Work I'm studying Agrippa, reading Hermetic texts, and cycling through the different facets of elemental initiation. It's funny how what happened originally for me last year was that I dreamed about adding on to the Seven Spheres book by going through the elements as well, using the archangels of the four quarters. With the help of my spiritual court we devised a plan to work through the elements in clockwise order of the directions, beginning with air. Now in the Red Work course this is an actual assignment, though it comes with a number of nuances and furnishings unique to its material.

So I'm going to be working through the elemental initiations a few times, getting comfortable with the spirits and really letting their rays fill and flower in my sphere. Instead of writing about them the evening or night of the ritual's performance, I'm going to wait a week to better reflect on the actual feeling. Since I completed my Earth initiation last Saturday, now would be the the time to do so.

I called Auriel again, communed, and requested the initiation. It might be something of a cliche but right off the bat I felt immensely "grounded". I can certainly be a little flighty at times (I'm constantly multitasking and working on a thousand things at once... I'm a Gemini with an Aquarius ascendant!) but after the initiation I noticed I was completely "rooted" to whatever I was to be doing at the time. Whenever I set my mind to something I just accomplished it. I've been super productive, breezing through university work and personal magical projects in a way that honestly has been a little unsettling to me. My memory seems to be better as well, which is interesting.

As for the "materialistic side" of things, as the element of Earth most certainly deals with that... about two days after the initiation I started to seriously clean. Whatever doesn't smell like hyssop smells like Florida water now. I wiped down everything, completely remade my working altar, waxed, polished, and dusted every tool, and fumed everything with a good helping of incense. I'm not a messy person and it's not like my spaces weren't clean to begin with, but I suddenly couldn't help but feel the need to get intimate with all the "materia" of my life. One on one, touching everything as if it was the first time I encountered it. Really mesmerizing myself with every texture and colour. Thinking back on it, it was almost trance-like. I'm elated with the organizational changes I've made; no doubt I'll be going through this many times over in the future.

Another noticeable effect was that I kept finding myself getting pulled over and over again to my ancestors. With their assistance and input I helped create a brand new shrine for them that works infinitely better for them and for me. The centerpiece of the shrine itself is actually a large, decorative, wooden box my grandmother gave me. I filled it with the keepsakes, trinkets, and inherited items from my family that help me best connect with my ancestors, and flanked it with other furnishings as well as a glass of cool water. Everything feels so much more steady and powerful, as well as joyous over all. Spirit itself moves more easily through the physical channels I've laid out because of the new correspondences.

Finally, regarding more "negative" side effects—because with the elements you certainly get both the good and the bad. I don't think I'm any more "dense" or "literal", but what I am is more... heavy? Mentally and emotionally, I feel as if I just sink as opposed to float. In a good way this has made me more productive, committed, and resilient as I mentioned. But the same applies for situations that aren't productive: when my brain decides to quit, that's it. On the days where I don't have classes I've slept in way beyond my normal time. When I don't "feel like" doing something I would be better off doing, I've found it a lot easier to justify to myself committing to and reinforcing that feeling. Honestly, it's kind of surreal to notice myself being so stubborn when I'm usually so flexible. Auriel basically warned me to watch out for that and it still slipped my mind the first few times. That said, Auriel also advised that it would take me less time to set a habit in stone than it would normally, and that's absolutely been true. As such, as soon as I recognized a problem it was far easier to move past it and train myself out of that negative mindset than usual.

This Monday I will be going through the water initiation, so I'll reflect on that in another week.

30 September 2016

SSBH: Spirits and Magic of Place

Previous | Master List | Next

This round of the Strategic Sorcery Blog Hop is focusing on the spirits and magic of place, an absolute favourite topic of mine given the major emphasis on working with and honouring land wights in my witchcraft practice. Last Blog Hop I discussed how relationships with spirits, especially those of the land near and on which you reside, can swing the odds on your side and assist you in procuring potent magical links. As I also wrote a little about my beloved house spirit relatively recently, today I would like to discuss something I did over the month of August: the creation of a "spirit map" for my immediate community and overall city.

As a university student in Toronto, I travel a lot via public transportation, especially the subway. We all have our "hotspots" which we gravitate to and naturally spread our time among throughout our cities: for me, it's my home, the forest closest to it, two parks, my school's campus (which is so large it should really be subdivided into its own hotspots), favourite stores and cultural centers, friend's homes, and of course restaurants. Given that I also do plenty of my sorcery outside and in nature, I've gotten to know the local land wights, elemental beings, nature guardians, and egregores fairly well in those areas. There's also rarely a huge need to stretch out beyond them, out of convenience and immediate accessibility, so if you plotted my weekly travels you'd see that there isn't a lot of deviation from the highlighted fields.

Inspired by some of the discussions over in the Red Work course I'm taking alongside the suggestions of my spiritual court, I decided to break out of those comfort zones and explore as much of the city as I could over August, taking my notebook with me and scribbling down all the different "spiritual wildlife" I encountered. We went to all the major touristy locations the majority of Torontonians rarely actually go to, the cultural centers and pockets where people actually do hang out, more remote parks and forests where the city slips into silence, and the business districts where nothing and no one sleeps. I explored Casa Loma, took a boat ride around the Harbourfront and the islands, went in and out of different galleries and exhibitions, and strolled through different parks and neighbourhoods I had never been in before, all while giving something of a tour to the relatives I was hosting for the month's period.

The patterns we uncovered were really quite interesting. My familiars helped point out what eluded my psychic perceptions, and I used a quick method of divination to double-check and confirm what it was that I was seeing with my astral sights. Naturally, institutions, churches, libraries, and so on have their own egregores that reflected the vitality and spirit of the place. Some looked absolutely drained and abandoned while others appeared remarkably bloated or even hyperactive; filled with the stress, pressure, and anxiety of the people who worked within its guardianship, which it in turn fed to them creating a toxic loop. Some places of worship were absolutely glimmering with their connection to the Divine, peaceful, loving, and open to all, while others gurgled with inner disputes, scandals, and bigotry.

Egregores aren't to be the only spirits that reflect and internalize the atmosphere of the life-forces around them. We noticed that certain landmarks or places where lots of people would concentrate tended to have social spirits as well; from our brief interactions we found that they're essentially of the kind that enjoy attention and the exchange of ideas, being highly mercurial in nature. Usually when I think of "earthy" spirits I would imagine those attached to rivers, particular sites of power, fairy rings, and so on: but human concentration and places that see a lot of emotional, creative, and intellectual power coalesce to become the same thing essentially. There were certain wights that I only saw in Chinatown, Little Portugal, and Greek Town and nowhere else. Other tricksters and messengers where virtually everywhere.

In some places where I felt a psychic "ping" and tried to call a being forth, I instead found a myriad of impressions and traces left by other people who were there and had touched the same statue/graffiti mural/other noteworthy mark instead of an independent intelligence. Sampling the energy prompted a series of flashback-like episodes, consisting of arguments, kisses, bags being dropped and their contents spilling, shoving, gleeful phone calls, and stressed out waiting. Other times these were the places that formed the perfect highly-charged environments for smaller spirits to inhabit.

Certainly my offering practices, animism, and witchcraft have already introduced me to plenty of these "sights" thus far already, but this was really the first time I had ever actively gone through such a broad and diverse selection of areas for the purposes of observing the spirits and energies present. Often when I'm out and about I just can't help but notice if there's something or someone there, but this was of a different level of purposeful intention and scope. My goals were threefold: to introduce myself to neutral and friendly wights, to see if there was anything I could assist with as a medium, and to chart out and map areas of note for future reference. As an aside, my HGA had instructed me to do the same thing but for the astral "Lower Worlds" as we call them—the plane of ancestors, animal spirits, wandering daemons and crossroads deities—and to this day I still have a "map" of particular landmarks that I often end up going to whenever astral journeying. Those worlds are of course ever changing, and the concept of "directions" have almost no bearing on them, but simply sketching out and making a list of the places I had visited, made spirit contacts and allies, and found myself coming back to again and again was extremely useful.

So, during this physical journey I came prepared with things in my bag for offerings of good will. Just as I make an offering to local land wights to secure an agreement for outdoor rituals ("I'm going to use this space for X purpose and I would appreciate it if I were not interrupted. Please have this in return to enjoy while I do this and once I'm done I'll banish and you can come back,") so too do I like to pitch in a few gifts when making myself known and asking for the friendship of the beings there. The funny thing was that for the most part I barely even used what I brought. The requests I received from the spirits were almost always to clean up litter as an "offering", and so I did.

People can be notoriously messy downtown. The best part by far was that occasionally bystanders who saw me picking up coffee cups and wrappers and putting them in the garbage would actually stop and help out as well, thus participating in the "offering".

And the end of it all I transferred my notes into a real "spirit map" in my grammar. Whether it's types of dirt, plants, nuts, or vines I need for spells, institutions I do and most definitely will interact with in the future whose egregores I'd like the favour of, or simply the companionship, insight, and helpful "tips" on where to find what from local beings, this map has been a real boon for me. I've come into a fair bit of luck every time I've stopped by those locations since, with whatever business I needed to do there proceeding smoothly and without any hiccups (especially in regards to transportation and tardiness). Naturally I still don't visit the more remote and completely out-of-my-path locations often—we're always going to gravitate towards our hotspots—but I always give a a salute with my left foot and dispose of any junk on the ground when I see it whenever I'm there.

Previous | Master List | Next

26 September 2016

The Feast of St. Cyprian

It has been a long, methodical, thorough, and beautiful novena. I prayed the rosary I made for my patron, teacher, and guide St. Cyprian. I sang different prayers, made new offerings, and meditated on what I've come to call "Cyprianic conundrums": those incredible, exhilarating points of tension that the saint himself embodies, lives, and thrives upon, stemming from his origins, "reality", status as a spirit, and complete and total incorporation of Christianity and paganism into one Christo-pagan force of folk sorcery, grimoire magic, witchcraft, and sincere devotion to Christ. Communion and sorcerous work with the blessed martyrs Cyprian and Justina framed these days and nights, all while I volunteered, donated to local food banks, and built upon personal sorcerous workings in sequence.

This year's feast and Days of the Cyprians were truly special for me. It's been over a year now since the saint appeared to me in a dream. Now, the sorcerer-saint is a beloved and dearly treasured patron, whose vexing penchant for riddles alongside his constant pushing towards new innovations, deeper experiences, and more challenging study continue to bewilder, charm, and seduce me. I adore the complexities of them all; they are the most exciting parts of magic.

I've certainly come a long way from being rather uncomfortable with Christianity, my only real experiences of it beyond Serbian Orthodox cultural immersion being uncharitable peers whose religious justifications for homophobia and sexism disturbed me. I no longer see a conflict between working with Christ, Mary, and the saints and my devotion to polytheistic divinities, even if it was in the name of Christianity that their original worship was misrepresented, twisted, and silenced. Similarly, I no longer see a massive gulf dividing Christian holy offices from traditional Western magical ones (though that comes from a better understanding of the history of grimoires as much as it does actual practice!). The view is certainly so much broader when the middle is not ignored, and even still there is so much mist—mist I will eagerly search through for my entire career. 

Most of the labours of this novena and feast were very personal, but I did want to share one little occurrence. On the second day of the novena I dreamed about creating a bracelet dedicated to the saint using the same amethyst beads in my rosary, some black wooden skulls, and a bone cross. A distant voice explained to me that this should be constructed and consecrated during the nine days, and that it should be worn to confer the added blessing of the patron to whatever witchcraft or theurgy is being performed. The next day I visited the shop I normally go to for such supplies and found the perfect exemplars, as well as some stretch chord. Below is the new enchanted tool.

Though the sorcerous workings of this feast have largely concluded, St. Cyprian and St. Justina's feast day on the Orthodox calendar still await us on October 2nd. Though I didn't mark this last year, I pitched the idea before his shrine about conducting a kind of Cyprianic slava this year on the date alongside my ancestral spirits, and received an intensely favourable result via divination. Even though I wasn't raised Christian, by virtue of being born in Serbia I still grew up with so many Serbian Orthodox customs and practices, the slava being a central one. It's hardly a slava without a community, so I'll be inviting my coven to partake in the makeshift festivities.

May the Martyrs of Nicomedia keep and empower us, and may they pray for us, now and at the hour of our deaths, Amen. 

17 September 2016


To say that the last few months and a half has been a tumultuous time for me would be an understatement. So much has evolved and changed in my spiritual practice it can definitely feel like I'm in an entirely different place in my life at times, and in many ways I truly am. Yet that unshakable bedrock of support: my HGA, gods, patrons, ancestors, familiars, friends, family, and guides, continue to uplift and push me forward in all the very best ways through each and every transition. Time and time again, I am utterly humbled by the earnest nature of their love: how they always challenge me to do better, think more critically, examine my opinions and beliefs in a Socratic manner, and strive ever beyond. Intellectual stagnation, especially as a byproduct of deeply-enforced comfort zones, make for some of the worst curses.

A good majority of the substantial events fall under the territory of oath-bound, so I will confine them solely to my personal journal and omit vague generalizations here altogether. This blog was from the beginning meant to be a space to share some of my thoughts and experiences while reflecting on changes as they occur, and it's absolutely been very useful at that. Back when I first started two years ago I remember wanting to write down all sorts of things that now I would never even feel the need to: that I met up with my coven, that I attended a lecture pertaining to sorcery, that I performed a conjuration or a spell, that I completed work for a client, and so on. It's not that these weren't exactly "regular" occurrences then, but now my circumstances and magical practices have grown to the point where it feels quite redundant and unnecessary to do so (I'm certainly no longer a wide-eyed first year university student either!) Even my daily regimen of rituals, prayers, and offerings have increased—it definitely wasn't at least an hour a day back when I was eighteen. I have no doubt this too will expand further as I mature.

I definitely want to get back into posting more regularly, which I haven't had the chance to do lately due to how busy I've been. At the very least about things such as conjurations, books, thoughts on various esoteric matters, and other updates—not all, of course, but certainly some, oaths permitting. And there's another area that's evolved: I'm involved with many more oath-bound praxes now that play dominant roles in my life. Gods know how much I work with just the Sorcery of Hekate teachings (I'm actually taking an optional "part two" continuation right now)!

Spirit certainly has a way of swerving you in unexpected directions. I began this summer having freshly acquired Andrew Chumbley's Azoëtia and Dragon-Book of Essex, eager to delve in, earnestly study, and learn the principles behind that particular system of witchcraft. Instead, so many other paths suddenly threw open their gates to me and I was (joyously) led there instead. The Sabbatic Craft texts are absolutely the most alluring gems in my library still, and it is my full intention to commit to their serious study in the next year. The reason for the earlier "joyously" is because had I ignored the alarm bells and rejected what Spirit had opened for me in favour of only working with them I would have missed out on some of the most defining experiences, as well as some of the deepest interpersonal connections I've made recently. Even the cards of other diviners made it clear to me: there is no guilt to suffer over waiting for the right moment; the books aren't going anywhere. I do not wish to be a spiritual tourist with regards to any of the traditions I learn and embark on, sampling but never drinking deeply, taking the spirits of that path as little more than bouncers. I want true connections and mystical insights; that only comes with effort and dedication.

So I will return to them in a few months; my projection is for next February. Instead, my summer was wrapped up in a tradition I had previously only flirted with, whether as an intellectual curiosity, subject of occult history, or because of my friends who are aspirants and adepts along its path: Thelema. Having any degree of fluency with the works of Crowley takes a long time indeed; there's just so much material and commentary to catch up with. I've certainly grown more attracted to it since acquiring a much more layered appreciation thanks to coming into contact and befriending other Thelemic magicians. It was without a doubt a slow process, from my initial knee-jerk reactions as a teenager to some of the worst aspects of Crowley the man's life to a broader affection for the feats and insights of Crowley the magician. But even then a lot of it never truly clicked with me. Chapter three of the Book of the Law just wouldn't sit with me no matter how much I adored one and two, and unlike the majority of the magicians and sorcerers I know Hermetic Kabbalah was just never "my thing". On the contrary, I'm rather used to reading about critiques of its presentation nowadays, historical and symbolic inaccuracies and misconceptions, and I guess a lot of overall burnout from older authors.

Yet here I am, doing Resh four times a day, meditating in Asanas, practicing Pranayama and Dharana, poring over all these new Crowley books, playing around with Hebrew and Greek gematria, and working with Thelemic rituals, making an earnest effort to acquaint myself with them all. (I don't think the LBRP will ever be "my thing" though; I just don't get the same effect from it as I do other rites I know of and use for the same purpose. Star Ruby, on the other hand, is really quite something!) I was also initiated as a Minerval in the O.T.O., and as much as I'd love to gush about the what's and why's of how that came to be there would be no way to do so without resorting to vague rambling. Certainly I could flat out explain why I chose to go through with the ceremony and everything that led up to it, but that would be a novel unto itself. I'm content to leave it for now. I'm extremely happy with how everything has proceeded with the Order, and I absolutely would never have even considered it were it not for the character and company of this lodge's members. Fraternal societies are nothing without the fraternity, after all: what spells home for one may not for another. Whether or not I'll apply to take the first degree will be another matter entirely. Time and breathing room will tell.

So essentially, the Thelemic floodgates opened up around April and completely swept me up in their current. It sort of happened from every direction—the Minerval initiation and subsequent lessons and duties were one of the channels—and I am still quite bewildered by it all. It's really quite something to wake up and see so much nuance and power in areas I completely looked over and shrugged at before. And Thelema and Heremtic Kabbalah are only two out of the many currents that contributed in the "evolution" in my personal spiritual practice that I alluded to in the beginning—so much more has taken place in my witchcraft, deity work, and Kemetic work to name a few. It honestly feels like I hit some sort of weird growth spurt, as so much just opened up all of a sudden from so many different fronts. Adjusting to them and finding my balance was an exciting adventure. I don't think I would have handled it with any measure of grace or patience had this all taken place last year.

I'm truly excited to see where this will all take me and I feel secure and crafty in the hands of my community and court. There's a lot of love and ambition to bring to table as I arrive at the Days of the Cyprians and prepare for my novena and special work with the saint.

6 August 2016

Taking a NAP

A little while ago while stumbling across Studio Arcanis and lurking on the boards I came across an entire subforum dedicated to a book called The Miracle of New Avatar Power by Geof Gray-Cobb. A few threads, Google searches, and scattered blog entries later left me a very perplexed witch. This 1974 book is even cheesier than a lot of the chakras-auras-and-energy-fields-oh-my paperbacks that I've seen around in used bookstores from the same decade. As if the cover page isn't corny enough, the actual insides contain more "if they could do it, so can you!!" anecdotes and infomercial-like blurbs than actual practical text! You really can't escape them; they're after every little chant and technique the book provides, breaking up the flow of the text to the point where while reading it I seriously considered just copying down the legitimate text into a Word doc to make for easier reading. In the end, generous usage of sticky notes was what helped me.

So, why is this out-of-print, ham-tastic little book one of the most popular members of the "modern grimoires" category? I asked around and the answers I received were pretty uniform: its system is simple and it works. In between those hilariously awful testimonials are super-short chants containing the names of spirits who apparently will really come through for you if you call on them. Make no mistake, the techniques really are super simple—in fact, they require no materials at all. Everything starts off with the New Avatar Power (NAP) ritual, which is a short relaxation/meditation exercise, and then you can go on to do what is basically the Golden Dawn Middle Pillar ritual, followed by circulating the power through your body from your head to your toes, and finally bringing it all up like a fountain. The book even gives the Kabbalistic Cross as an example of warding. Ultimately, however, all that is really necessary is the NAP ritual and the short chant of your choice afterwards, each corresponding to a different purpose and its governing spirit.

At no point does the book ever provide any substantial information about the spirit names; who they are, what they look like, etc. But apparently they really do listen. People have been getting fairly innovative on NAP discussion groups from what I've seen. Sigils have been produced, people have cross-referenced glimpses of forms and appearances with each other, incorporated elements of ritual offerings and hoodoo into their workings with the spirits, and so on. Reading through the book for the first time, the spirit names were the only things that really stood out to me initially. If you analyze the text, the whole system really derives its juice from calling on the names to perform the tasks for you, and having a good command over how you flex your personal power.

Some people had mixed success, as with all systems, but others spoke so glowingly in praise of the thaumaturgic powers of the spirits it was as if they were pitching an infomercial blurb themselves! I was still puzzled, but it's not like it was implausible for me to conceive of the author being in touch with a group of spirits who all agreed to assist people who would use the chants (and/or delivered the chants themselves to him) and happened to be pretty good at it too. The Strategic Sorcery community itself has an entire lesson revolving around a set of spirits that revealed themselves and agreed to assist those who learned how to call on them via the course. Isn't that the case of almost any system, lodge, group, and so on? The little sorcerous coven I belong to has its own dedicated spirit guardians and mentors too. So while the book's presentation may be pretty silly, the integrity and power of the spirit names can obviously be extremely potent—it's not as if the strength of incorporeal beings is contingent on how nice the presentation of a text a medium-author puts together for them is. The secondhand occult book market sure likes to think this is the case, though.

In all honesty, if I ever came across NAP somewhere I probably would have never even thought to pick it up, even at a bargain deal. Now that I had done my research, though, I decided I genuinely wanted to get to know the spirits behind it, say hello, and test out the magic for myself.

Initially, I read a scanned .pdf copy someone e-mailed me while I was still asking around about the work. My rule about pirated books is really simple: I don't work with material I haven't legitimately bought/someone legitimately bought for me. It's important to be fair not only to the authors but to the spirits, showing them that you value what you're doing and that you're willing to sacrifice for it. Even with books that are out-of-print and are selling for ridiculous prices on the aftermarket, I do my best to enchant for a better-priced copy; otherwise, I just won't work with it—after all, it's not like I need it when I have so much of my own regular practice on my plate. The only time I've made an exception is when an author, deeply unhappy with book scalpers, gave his readers his blessing to use the pirated copies available online on the condition that they would purchase gifts and tools for the spirits of the book's system totaling to the publisher's original asking price. That will do until the inevitable reprint.

So, since the .pdf had given me an understanding of what the material was like, I hit the aftermarket. Wow. I've paid a lot more for standard releases of books (ahem, Xoanon) than what the average asking price was, but... really? There was no way I was going to spend that much for a scratched-up copy that I only really wanted to experiment with anyway. It would have been seriously entertaining if I asked one of the NAP spirits in the pirated copy to assist me in enchanting for an affordable physical copy, but that would obviously go against my rule (though I met plenty of people who actually got theirs this way, so it seems like they won't turn you down for such a thing). Instead, I did my go-to ritual and the next day on Amazon I found my copy at a genuinely shockingly low price. The condition was excellent too, which was a great bonus.

Once I had it in my hands I went through its rituals. I wasn't expecting anything major, but at the same time I wanted to evaluate the system on its own. So I called on Nitika, "Genius of Wealth", and ensured not to do any additional wealth magic for the duration of however long it would take for them to fulfill my request. When the spirit arrived it passed all the tests I normally do to check if they are who they say they are and not some miscellaneous trickster, and then we just spoke. They were extremely considerate and open, answering all my questions to my heart's content and happily agreeing to assist me. I quizzed it on how it normally fulfills its tasks and made sure I wasn't accidentally restricting its ability to influence my life by being too cautious about having a sterile environment for the experiment, so to speak. Within 36 hours Nitika delivered quadruple what I initially requested. It's not that I wasn't going to take the spirit at its word, more that I just try not to expect much when working with modern grimoires I'm on the fence about, but I was completely floored. Subsequent workings with Nitika and other spirits in NAP have lead to similarly impressive results, in terms of speed, potency, or even both.

"Success be thy proof" indeed. I'm impressed with this odd little book. The spirits are highly cooperative and helpful. I've integrated my standard offering procedure with them after asking for their consent and input, and I've also decided not to alter the existing text in the book for working with them. Even though the NAP relaxation ritual had me raise an eyebrow the first time I read through it, I've found that it just doesn't feel the same if you omit it. I have and still do surround the ritual and the chant with other practices I bring into my own personal workings for an added boost, but I'm not going to take out what the book asks you to do. It's not as if it takes long to go through it anyway. There are other bits in the book that include astral projection, conjuring a servitor called the "magic mentor" and actually testing the efficacy of the psi abilities the work stirs up in you, but there was nothing there that was anything really new for me and/or that I hadn't tried or learned better techniques for.

In my experience, the heart and soul of NAP lies in the spirits who help you carry out the magic and the exercises that try to awaken and deepen your extrasensory organs, which in turn allow you to better communicate with those spirits—which is, of course, a standard formula for spirit work. And just like what you'd expect, it's the spirits that truly shine. In NAP's case, they are extremely responsive, considerate, helpful, and just all-around fun to be with. I am really pleasantly surprised and can definitely see myself calling on them again for future spell work, both on their own and, more likely, in conjunction with other efforts and spirits, as they seem to have a really easy time assisting other familiars and petitioned beings.

1 August 2016

Lammas 2016 + House Spirits

Have you been taking care of your house spirit? They've certainly been taking care of you. These finicky wights, extremely loyal and generous if treated well—but terribly shy and easily heartbroken and offended according to folklore—take care of their households, promoting luck, fertility, and activity among their patrons, cleaning little messes here and there, and often serving as an intermediary between other local spirits. Sometimes they'll accompany the same bloodline for generations, becoming elevated thereby as a kind of ancestral protector of its own, representative of a family's luck over centuries. In other instances, a series of heated arguments and tantrums between family members gone wrong can be all that it takes to make their house spirit up and leave in search of a new home.

These characteristics are not universal, of course. I'm mostly speaking about my experience with Slavic house spirits, which are most often known as domovoi. Growing up in Serbia, my friends and relatives usually called singular house spirits domaćin, meaning a host or a housekeeper. Like the majority of Balkan folkloric traditions the term varies across towns and countries, but the core concepts endure. Since I spent the majority of my childhood and early adolescence constantly moving from one house to the next, barely staying in place for over a year, I've seen my fair share of variety between these spirits. Those that follow families will accompany them as they move, but most seem to be fully rooted in the actual buildings themselves, tending to numerous individuals and groups over the generations. My prababa told me when I was little that if you wanted to guarantee that your domaćin will accompany you when you move, you should place their token object (vessel) into a boot after asking them to come along with you and then carry that boot to the new home and reestablish them.

Today the domaćin that resides within my home is one that I summoned in my teens. My family and I had moved to a completely new house that had just finished construction and with the aid of my spirit teachers we evoked and established a hearth guardian that has been with us since. (The procedure was actually remarkably similar to the ritual found on page 168 of Nigel G. Pearson's Treading the Mill). He has a shrine above the fireplace with a candle, glass of water, and room for bread and milk on holidays, family birthdays, special occasions, and so on. In early May I finally found the perfect "token object" for him which is now installed there as well: a carved domovoi from Wuflund Jewelry. The small stang-wand I painted red in the picture is one that the domaćin himself led me to. We found the curious thing—perfectly smooth and sanded—lying neatly near our property.

He has been an absolute treasure of a companion over the past few years, even if our interactions aren't anything like those of my spiritual court—house spirits are notorious for their behavioural taboos, some fleeing forever if you give them clothes or verbal thanks. I show my gratitude wordlessly and let him know when I'm leaving and when I'll return. I update him when to expect guests and which dates are important and will be celebrated by the household. I'm hosting some relatives from Serbia for the next month and as this is is a big change our routine. Working together has made the accommodations effortless, the jet-lag nonexistent, and the time zone friction melt away into deep sleep.

Today at Lammas as we enjoyed the bread and the cake I made sure to set out a healthy portion to our diligent, kind, and temperamental housekeeper. If you work with one, definitely save them a slice of your bounty today.