Friday, February 24, 2017

Hardship as a Gauge of Progress

Study the occult long enough, especially contemporary Western Occultism, and you will come across sentiments like "a poor magician is a poor magician". If you can change the universe to give you what you want why wouldn't you conjure yourself a pile of cash and live as a king? Mundane things like rent money should be no problem for an adept magician. If you struggle to provide yourself with food and shelter and comfort despite being in contact with gods, angles, spirits, and demons then you must not know what you are doing.

I can see the logic of this statement and to a certain extent it might be true. If you are constantly struggling then something is indeed amiss. At the very least a magician should be able to use divination to find the reasons for their struggle and ameliorate it if not eliminate it.

But I would also suggest that occasional hardship can actually be a positive thing for a few reasons.

First, let us not forget the lessons of the Wheel of Fortune tarot card. All things run in cycles, alternately expanding and diminishing. To be in a period of diminishment is not a failure, it is a way of becoming ready for expansion to come.

Second, it is one of my firm beliefs that things happen for a reason and that valuable lessons can be learned from every situation. A hardship now may lead to benefits later or the hardship may teach you a lesson that you can impart to the world for the benefit of all.

Third, and for purposes of this post, most importantly, hardship builds strength. Another popular aphorism in this culture is "if you want to get stronger lift heavier weights", which I will certainly agree with. When that heavier weight is first lifted, however, it is uncomfortable, it is a struggle, it is a hardship. The building of muscles by lifting weights literally tears the fibers of the muscles and the repair of those tears is what makes the muscle physically larger. There is often soreness and sometimes injury. Building strength is a kind of trauma.

As a magician, building spiritual strength can also be a kind of trauma that can affect one in unpredictable ways. Changes in emotion, health, and material wealth can all easily be affected. As one explores the nature of spiritual entities change should always be expected and I would suggest that if there is no change in one's life then they are not actually doing spiritual work. And even if one is working with a spirit known to be a spirit of compassion, like Tara or Jesus, that is no guarantee of comfort.

I say this to you because it is a lesson I am learning now. Do not despair, magician, if you go through a fallow period or a lean time. These come and go as the cycles turn. Stay true to your goals and know that your hardship will pass. Beware of giving in to fear, you are getting stronger.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Who Chooses Who?

In the relationship between spirits and magicians who is it that does the choosing? Is it entirely the magician or does the spirit have a hand in it as well? Or further still, does the magician have any hand in it at all?

As a preteen child I was doing as much research into the occult and spirit communication as a reclusive 11 year old could in a rural town in the southern United States. I was voracious and read everything I could get my hands on regarding the occult, witchcraft, ghosts, fortune telling, and related subjects. I knew of Urbain Grandier's demonic pact before I hit puberty and I can remember bragging naively to a classmate, at 12 years old, that I knew how to summon demons (not that I had, mind you). As I study more deeply the True Grimoire I am reminded of those days and I am struck by how long these spirits have been a part of my life.

As I've grown and learned, alternately picking up and putting down the practice of magic, I keep coming back to spirit work as the path of my spirituality. They call to me. When I neglect my practices they come knocking and reminding me they are still around. And while I could simply ignore them and move on, I like my life a lot better filled with magic and spirits than not.

Perhaps they have always been around me and it was they who chose me. But this begs the question, why? Why would I be chosen? The answers, I suspect, are tied in with the vocation of being a magician. Working with spirits is a powerful skill that can work for the benefit of myself and my community. Magicians and spirits working together is a relationship of mutual benefit and it is the spirits' best interest to choose someone with whom they can work effectively.

Here again we have an example of a reframing of the classic relationship between the magician and a demon. If the genesis of the relationship is a mutual choosing then there is no place for domination or coercion. It is a spirit positive point of view and a much better place to start than the traditionalist stance of fear and threats.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Blessings for Demons

I was recently admonished quite stridently by an acquaintance on the internet when I suggested that the grimoire spirits should be set free and blessed in the name of God. I was called mad. I was warned that there would be horrible repercussions and that I was suggesting letting "all Hell break loose". He also suggested loosing demons into my life but for pity for what it would do to me.

I am not really surprised by this reaction. After all, this person follows a course of occult study based squarely on the Golden Dawn, Thelema, and Franz Bardon. This is the same lineage that views the spirits of the Underworld as demons and evil right off the bat. I try to point out his preset bias to him but he is too deep in it to see these spirits any other way. To him any suggestion that the grimoire and Underworld spirits are anything other than the sworn enemy of humanity is proof that the demons have succeeded in their deceptions.

One thing I've learned about these spirits is that there is a reflective quality to their nature. They take on and reflect back to the magician the qualities that they are expected to have as well as the qualities of the magician themselves. This is why sincerity and purity of heart are so important and, further, why the Confession is part of the process described in the True Grimoire. Sincerity is met with sincerity, belligerence is met with belligerence, and fear is met with fear.

To extend the blessings of God to the demons immediately removes the barrier of demons-equals-enemy that hampers the relationship from the start. It replaces the relationship of adversarial fear with one of respect much more likely to be mutually beneficial. When I make my offerings I will generally extend blessings to the spirits with whom I'm working.

The question of whether or not I have been deceived and I'm going to Hell to spend eternity in torment is irrelevant. The real question is what form my spirituality takes. Do I want to have a practice based in fear and opposition or do I want to spread blessings, even to those unaccustomed to receiving them, strengthening the light of God in the universe? While I walk this earth I get to choose how to live and I choose one of light even when I work with demons.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Blog Milepost

I love looking at the stats of this blog. I like seeing how many people looked at it and where they are. Today we have broken our record of monthly page views in a most dramatic way.



 
 
 
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this blog, as a reader, a contributor, or a promoter. Have a wonderful New Year. I am excited to see where we go next.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Importance of Breath in Prayer

Prayer and invocation are a huge part of my practice. I am much more apt to contact a spirit through meditation and chant than by formal evocation. We can talk another time about why this is but for this discussion I wanted to talk a bit about the how, the procedure, of effective invocation and prayer. The two most integral and important elements of prayer are the breath and visualization. It is breath and breathing that is perhaps so obvious that most people overlook its importance. At least that was how it was for me.

I always exhale during my prayers. The impetus to do so came to me while I was reciting the Astrachios prayer. In that prayer a series of 28 names are invoked to empower the magician. According to the instructions in the True Grimoire it is to be recited several times throughout the day. I would recite it as I'm walking my dog, while I was riding the bus, halfway down a staircase at work, and any time I had a few minutes to devote. Sometimes I couldn't use my full voice and sometimes I would need to be downright silent. In all cases though I use my mouth and my breath and I always exhale.

Over the course of my practice there were times that I would recite the Astrachios prayer with both inhales and exhales. The names recited on inhale had a very different feel to me than the exhales. It was this recognition of the difference that caught my attention and illustrated just how important exhalation is for prayer.

A couple of months ago I heard a lecture by Al Cummings in which he mentioned that, in prayer, the exhalation itself was a kind of offering just as incense might be. An exhale sends out more than air from the lungs. There is moisture and energy which, when combined with prayer, become an integral part of it. It is a physical manifestation of the life force. The exhalation sends the words and intent of the magician out into the universe; it makes the prayer real in a certain sense.

Breath as spiritual power has echoes in the macrocosm. Countless are the myths in which divinity creates and then breathes life into their creation. The word inspire means to be filled with the breath of God and thereby vivified or filled with knowledge. The breath coming out of your mouth and nose right now is directly related to the breath of God. To use the breath consciously in prayer is to participate in the divine creation process.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meditations on Astaroth

After I finished the cycle of scrying the Spirits of the Mansions of the Moon I felt it was time to get back to working with the goetic spirits. The day after I did the last Moon scrying session, September 25th, I got to work memorizing Astaroth's conjuration from the True Grimoire. I started a practice of reciting the conjuration on my string of mala beads. I added Scirlin's conjuration and Astaroth's conjuration to my daily recitations of the Astrachios prayer. When I walked around my neighborhood I would pluck rosemary and rub it against my forehead then flick the remains into the next intersection saying "Astaroth, Lady of the Crossroads".  I burnt incenses in their honor.

I asked Astaroth to teach me her magic.

A couple of things happened immediately. First, I came down with a cold stronger than I've had in many years and, second, my work projects multiplied and piled up. I don't know that the cold taught me a whole lot about Astaroth's magic but my work projects certainly did.

In the grimoires Astaroth is given the powers of invisibility and procuring honor, among other things. This dual power of glamour and invisibility were my first lesson in Astaroth's magic. Professionally I work managing volunteers for a nonprofit organization. At the beginning of October I had several projects laid at my feet and my task for all of them was to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers. These are people who were being asked to work hard at some pretty menial jobs for no pay. The only reasons that any of them volunteer are purely emotional; either they love the cause or I can talk them into it. This is where the glamour of Astaroth comes in.

This is also the part of the essay where the UPG comes in.

I was shown two visualization techniques. The first and most important is the image of an eclipsed sun or star. I experimented a bit with the visualization: sometimes the corona of the eclipse was my aura, sometimes it was a small shining circlet on my forehead, other times it was gigantic and extended from horizon to horizon, and other variations. It is the corona of this visualized eclipse that I used to both call willing volunteers to me and also to dazzle them when we were face to face. This corona of light gave me an aura of charismatic beauty and I used it as well as I could. I suspect that the shadow part of this eclipse visualization would help with invisibility but I haven't used that just yet. I needed to be a shining beacon calling like a siren to all who could hear me.

The second visualization I used less but the times I did use it, it seemed very effective. It is a little difficult to describe but, essentially, as I looked people in the eye I reached in through their pupils and grabbed them by the fibers of their brains. People would become transfixed and would absorb my instructions or be compelled by my arguments. The astute student of the occult will recognize an echo in this of Agrippa's "Of Fascination and the Art Thereof", Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book 1, Chapter 50, http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/agripp1c.htm#chap50.

There is much more to learn from Astaroth. Among the avenues I hope to pursue are her reflections in the avatars from her past, Inana, Astare, Hecate; her attribute as wealth giver; the spirits listed as her subordinates in the True Grimoire; and her general connection to the Underworld.  As I learn more I will update with my findings.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Astaroth, Page One

 
 
Page one of a new journal dedicated to Astaroth. 100 pages to fill. I'll keep you updated on how it progresses.
For those of you unfamiliar with what is depicted here, on top is Astaroth's seal from the True Grimoire, below is the word square from the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage "for emeralds".