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.

1 April 2017

Building a Hermanubis Shrine

In early February of this year, an extended, necromantic working I had been undertaking with Hermanubis came to its close, and I culminated the arduous practice with a remaking of the god's shrine. Originally, his place among my altars was a printout of his statue in the Vatican museum, a tealight, and a glass of water. As of writing this today, it's been about a year since I formally started working with this syncretized, psychopomp extraordinaire, who first unexpectedly showed up in vision while I was doing a ritual invoking Hermes. His incredible guidance and erudition have been the catalyst of some of the most important breakthroughs in my witchcraft, spirit work, and general understanding of magic since the inception of our formal relationship in this life. 

With that plus the importance and heaviness of the aforementioned necromantic working in mind, it felt only natural to spruce up his station in my temple with a brand new shrine. I read Gordon White's The Chaos Protocols shortly after encountering Hermanubis, and while I was inspired by the various mythological cynocephalus connections he had pointed out, I didn't want to simply substitute a statue or a candle of St. Christopher for Hermanubis, especially when there were already other icons of Greek and Kemetic deities on the shelves surrounding his new would-be space. Instead, after pitching the idea to the god and performing divinations to check its agreeableness, I decided that the centerpiece of the shrine should be a white candle flanked by statues of both Hermes and Anubis/Yinepu. My experience of Hermanubis has always involved striking speed and efficiency, and the reading revealed that I should expect everything to come together very quickly. One aspect of the reading hinted that there would be a further unifying element as well that I have not yet considered.

Among the local occult shops in Toronto, the only statues of Hermes that I had found were bronze, and I wanted something more white. Within a few hours of the divination, I came across the perfect representation of the god: alabaster with a lovely removable caduceus in the hand. The price was an absolute steal as well, and it shipped from Greece the next morning and arrived at my house in a week. It wasn't hard to find a good likness of Yinepu either; his statue came just two days later in the mail.

The mysterious "unifying element" turned out to be a small figurine of Hermanubis himself! I came across this by chance while browsing eBay; it's from an older line of Egyptian-themed collectibles called "The Gods of Ancient Egypt" by Hachette. The line itself has over 100 figurines, complete with some of the most obscure deities from Egyptian mythology. According to a friend I met through Kemetic Orthodoxy, they're quite popular with Kemetic polytheists for that reason; the quality may not always be superb, but they make up for it with the sheer quantity of the different gods and personification of Kemetic concepts. I picked up the a mint condition Hermanubis from a seller in Quebec at a great price as well, and gave it the same blessing and consecration treatment the other statues received. 

The new shrine was installed in one of the bookshelves I have reserved only for sacred spaces. I purified the space with holy water and frankincense, and laid down a piece of white linen to cover the bottom. In the middle went a white candle (since replaced with a larger pillar), with Hermes and Anubis on either side and the little figurine of Hermanubis in the center. I set down a copy of the PGM, a glass of water, a white plate for offerings, a Kemetic-themed cup for other libations such as wine, and the APHEROU bowl I had created from the instructions in The Chaos Protocols. This is a brass bowl inscribed with APHEROU ("way opener") in silver, used for scrying and the conjuring of any kind of dead through the powers of the psychopomp god. The water I had offered became so filled with bubbles that I could no longer see through it—an excellent sign indeed.

Finally, I invoked the god one last time; the conjuration is supposed to be read seven times but the candle flamed wildly at the conclusion of just the first. The atmosphere became pregnant with the tell-tale signs of his presence. I offered him olives and thanked him sincerely for agreeing to dwell in the new shrine and held a small feast in his honour. Since then every Wednesday when I give water to the shrine it has been similarly overflown with bubbles. 

The APHEROU bowl has become my primary instrument for scrying. While I've normally used spring water and olive oil with it, as the book suggests, most recently I've employed a few drops of Harold Roth's "Scryer's Milk" and it worked perfectly. The formula is like clouds in a bottle; it's one of my favourite things to get from his Alchemy Works store. Yesterday my court was introducing me to a new spirit that desired to work with me as a familiar. After confirming its name and nature through scrying in it, we brought the bowl into the witch's compass and used it as the locus of the evocation.

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.