8 January 2017

Princes and Flowing

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

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

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

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

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

31 December 2016

December Book Roundup

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

25 December 2016

Yule 2016

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

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

15 December 2016

Princes and Healing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

18 November 2016

Robes

I've actually never had a dedicated set of robes just for magic; it wasn't ever a priority or a requirement for the traditions I've been and am involved with. I take ritual purity very seriously, so I always make sure I'm wearing clean, nice clothes when I'm doing any working and that I've cleansed myself via praying, ritual bathing, and anointing with oils, and so on. Now that I'm affiliated with the O.T.O. it was time to look towards acquiring some tau robes, and naturally the amazing Ziia volunteered for the task immediately. I commissioned some from her and she did a fantastic job; they're very roomy and comfortable even for asanas. At my request she ensured that the sleeves wouldn't hang too much; my primary concern with robes in general was that they would swing over candle flames too closely for comfort.


Clothing certainly has a major effect on ritual drama. Witchcraft rituals in the nude with nothing but a cord around the waist and a dagger in the palm carry a completely different feeling right off the bat, before even the first words are intoned, from modest, all-linen Kemetic rites. The differences were especially dramatic for the Seven Spheres rituals I worked last year: for Jupiter I must have looked as if I were on my way to a prestigious charity ball; for Saturn, a dreary funeral.

I'm going to consecrate these new robes soon and involve them with my Thelemic, ceremonial, and witchcraft work. I plan on later commissioning a white robe as well.

14 November 2016

Fire II

I came into the Fire initiation with a few expectations, garnered from the experiences related to me by other magicians. Common themes running throughout the different stories I heard included anger, impulsiveness, increased sexual drive, and a desire for physical activity. The ritual proceeded well; Michael made his manifestation clearly known and there were no issues that I perceived with regards to general communication. The visions that came with the initiation were powerful and motivating and I left the scene energized and bursting with excitement to get work done.

And then came the exhaustion. A part of me wondered whether or not I had done something incorrectly with regards to the summoning, or if there was some sort of malfunction in the initiation, but my spiritual court advised me that it was normal and should be welcomed for its transformative insight. I didn't feel very transformed or bettered in any way, however. I felt like I was running on fumes; every emotional interaction felt taxing and rickety. I wasn't any more moody or angry in general, just for the most part completely spent. 

Yet after a week and a half of eating well, sleeping in, and having some quality time with my spirits, friends, and some light magical practice... it was like the engines were refueled, finally stopped sputtering, and just kicked into action. I still didn't notice any "anger" or fiery moodiness, but I did experience a significant increase in overall confidence. Any trace of timidity or meekness that I might have displayed in any given situation was set aflame with a sense of power and drive. Consequently, I observed that I was less prone to holding back on voicing my opinions on more sensitive matters where before I simply would have held my tongue. Judging from my notes and from what my closest friends and spiritual allies alike have told me, I wasn't any more impulsive or physically active than the norm. However, the original writing in the lessons by Rufus Opus really wasn't kidding about the sexual drive. My libido definitely went crazy.

I've been on an immensely creative kick since. At this time I have a lineup of assorted magical crafts to create, both for myself and for others. Additionally I have a wealth of materials to go through and study in the meanwhile, as well as preparations to make for the next stage of the elemental initiations: the Demonic Princes. Now that the force of fire is really going through my sphere I definitely want to capitalize on the energy and have fun with it, especially with regards to all this creativity I'm feeling.

1 November 2016

From the Shelves

There's nothing quite like a fire ritual to get you super energized and bubbling with inspiration. I've been zooming through so many different academic assignments and spiritual workings ever since the air rite, and now with fire it feels like I've switched to an even more motivated gear.

As I was filing some books onto my shelves today it occurred to me just how many volumes I've gone through in the past month and a half. While I rarely do reviews on this blog I do like to frequently give shout outs to some of the more interesting or noteworthy titles that I've come across; it's definitely been some time since I did that last, so there's no better time than the present to get back into the swing of it.

I'm a huge fan of Doreen Valiente's writing; she's truly one of the witches I admire most. Her Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed has been dearly coveted, being on my wishlist for a long time, but I never managed to find a copy locally. In late September while on campus I suddenly felt the urge to visit a popular used bookstore during a break between classes. I definitely wasn't expecting to find anything; I frequent the stores often enough that I'm usually up to date on the stock. Yet there it was, leaning on its back against the other spines so that the cover was in full view: A Tradition Renewed for less than ten dollars. I was elated. This short volume is a real treasure; it's not exhaustive by any means, but the rites inside are simple and a perfect fit with the ones I make use of on a near-daily basis. Funnily enough, ever since I purchased the book, it's suddenly been showing up everywhere for me; I keep reading mentions of it where normally it was never even written about, and I've even seen a few people reading it on the subway while commuting.

The long awaited Cypriana: Old World anthology from Rubedo Press also arrived around the beginning of October. Don't let the slim binding fool you, this book is packed with fascinating information presented in a concise and engaging way, relating to both theory and practice. The cartomantic instructions especially really appealed to me, as did of course the historically-minded essays. My copy also came with the bonus of two postcard-sized icons of St. Cyprian and St. Justina, both of which are now installed on their main altar. They are a breathtaking pair.


A few months ago Hell Fire Club Books released a new book by Frater IAO131 titled HRILIU: Symbolic Explorations of the Gnostic Mass. The concept—a step by step, line by line analysis of Liber XV from the author's perspective—intrigued me right off the bat, though I decided to wait for the possibility of a cheaper, paperback version as such a release was hinted at on IAO131's blog. I snatched it up as soon as it was available and read it three times in the weeks culminating up to my final Minerval class at the O.T.O. I can safely say that it has helped me be far more appreciative of the more subtle symbolic elements of the Mass, especially as I have been rehearsing with our lodge's Mass team for the past month in the role of Child. It's a wonderful secondary reference to have in addition to the existing literature on the ritual, especially for cross-referencing. 

Finally, I wanted to comment briefly on a peculiar book I came across. The Toad in Magick, Sorcery and Midwifery by Ernst Hentges and Steve Seven is a new translation of a German monograph exploring the toad's role in different forms of witchcraft, including healing, cursing, fertility, and the infamous toad stone or bone. The last part of the volume is a reflective essay by the translator, going into a few Jungian analyses of the text while also connecting it to other studies such as Andrew Chumbley's A Leaper Between. From what I can tell, the translation's publisher is only providing copies through its eBay store, which is where I bought it from. I admit I didn't purchase it with the highest expectations as to quality, but it's actually very nicely edited, being free of spelling and formatting errors. It's a very short work and I quite enjoyed reading it; it's something I would definitely recommend for anyone interested in the icon of the toad familiar. Concerning editing quality, I wish I could say the same for some of the self-published books I've seen put out on Lulu and Amazon, where the content is good but the manuscript looks as if it had never even been proofread for the most basic errors (there were about two pages of Nick Farrell's Egyptian Shaman that were almost illegible; a few of his other releases were also rife with poorly placed punctuation and spacing). The Toad in Magick is a breath of fresh air concerning price as well, being quite cheap. The shipping was extremely quick as well. I'm quite pleasantly surprised.

I'm eagerly awaiting two exciting new releases which should be issuing out around this time: Ashen Chassan's Gateways Through Light and Shadow from Azoth Press, and the omnibus edition of the first three volumes of the PILLARS occult journal by Anathema Press, titled PILLARS: Perichoresis. I haven't yet read a single issue of PILLARS and they've been long sold out, so I'm very pleased that an omnibus is being, making the works accessible again. Ashen Chassan's work speaks for itself; his writings and talismans are endlessly inspirational. An entire book filled with the journal records of his evocations is something I can barely wait for.

And finally, two major volumes on occult herbalism are now available for pre-order on Amazon and Three Hands Press respectively: The Witching Herbs: 13 Essential Plants and Herbs for Your Magical Garden by Harold Roth of Alchemy Works, and The Green Mysteries: An Occult Herbarium by Daniel A. Schulke. I am certain that these two works combined will end up being my most referenced herbals once they are published.