Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Picatrix Decan Art Project, The First Face of Sagittarius

I am working on an art project depicting the decans as described in the Picatrix. These are photographic prints of collages, signed and numbered and available in 8x10, 16x20, or 32x40 inch prints.

This is the First Face of Sagittarius.

There rises in the first face of Sagittarius the bodies of three men one body is yellow, another white and the third is red. This is a face of heat, heaviness, growth in plains and fields, sustenance and division. This is its form.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Picatrix Decan Art Project, The Second Face of Aries

I am working on an art project depicting the decans as described in the Picatrix. These are photographic prints of collages, signed and numbered and available in 8x10, 16x20, or 32x40 inch prints.

This is the 2nd Face of Aries.

There ascends in the second face of Aries a woman dressed in green clothes, lacking one leg. This is a face of high rank, nobility, wealth and rulership. Picatrix book 2, chapter 11. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Praise of Fire

The vast majority of the offerings I make to spirits lately involve fire in some way. I light a candle each morning in the name of Astaroth. A little less frequently I burn mace blades for Scirlin and incense for other spirits. Fire itself is the medium through which I most often communicate with the spirits from the Grimorium Verum and in a sort of pyromancy I will often gauge my relationship with the spirit by the behavior of the flame during ritual. In this context the fire is a means to approach, honor, and propitiate the spirits. Only after I've burned offerings in their honor will I try to communicate with them by pendulum, scrying, or meditation.

Some time ago I had a conversation with another practitioner of magic who mused that it would be great if he could instantly summon fire. I knew at the time that he meant to be able to ignite things using only the power of his mind like in the Stephen King book Firestarter. But I teased him instead by pulling a Bic lighter out of my pocket and lighting a flame.  He was impressed by my flip response and the conversation subsequently went elsewhere but that interaction stuck with me.

In this modern age it is easy to forget how fugitive fire was more than two hundred years ago. Chemical matches were known to the Chinese before the Common Era but were not known in Europe until the voyage of Marco Polo. Before that fires were ignited using flint and steel or lenses with the sun. The modern cigarette lighter is just barely a hundred years old. Fire was a living thing that had to be cared for and fed if it was to persist. Who knows how to bank coals these days? Two hundred years ago the survival of your family depended on it.

Just as the concept of meat as food has been largely removed from the context of the animal for many modern Westerners, the living qualities of fire have been removed from flames.  It is so ubiquitous and easily come by that it has lost much of the magic it used to hold for people.

In many ways I see fire as an apt metaphor to working with the demons of Verum. A healthy respect for their potentially destructive powers is called for but when handled properly the benefits can be enormous. And, when dealing with spiritual forces that are described as 'infernal' fire becomes the model of their behavior. A couple of times over the past few years I was reminded how inappropriate it was to introduce a Verum spirit sigil to water.

And so I praise fire; that living thing of light and heat. Be my ally in my spiritual work.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Surgat Talisman Completed

After many months of research and work my talisman in honor of Surgat is finally completed. I performed the rite last night. And though I had initially intended to use astrological timing I decided that an opportunity to perform the rite was too valuable to pass up. The only timing I did observe is to do the rite on a Sunday, the day dedicated to Surgat in both The Grand Grimoire and The Grimoire of Pope Honorius.

Lodestone on inscribed lead plate with lunar plants.
The box that is the body of the talisman is above the

The lodestone covered in lead filings.

I'll not go into all the details of the minutia of the ritual but I will say that I based it in my understanding of the True Grimoire. Here are some of the choices I made that are somewhat ambiguous in the text. 

I called on Scirlin to be present and made offerings to him in preparation to calling Surgat.

I drew St. Andrew's cross on the lodestone using the consecrated red ink and the consecrated Pen of the Art. Initially I thought that a hand gesture would be sufficient but then decided otherwise later.

I blended an incense for Surgat made of frankincense, aloeswood, and fox hair. I suffumigated the lodestone and the box in the smoke. 

For the "lunar plant" I used both poppy leaves and young branches of a willow tree. Both of these plants are attributed to the Moon according to Nicholas Culpepper. I liked the poppies for their affinity to sleep and dreams and I liked the flexible durability of the willow with its watery attributes.

The plant material, the lodestone, the lead flings, pieces of the lead plate, fox hair, and other items all went into the box. Then the box was sealed with little tabs on the sides, asperged, suffumigated, and blessed.

The completed talisman.
Initial divination indicates that Surgat is pleased with the work. I am also pleased with how it turned out. And even though it is based on the True Grimoire spell To Open Anything that is Shut or Locked (number XIII) I know that it is so much more than that. I am excited to explore its potential. 

A note about the box. I commissioned this several months ago soon after I first decided to make this talisman. It is handmade blackened silver with a band of gold near the top. I came up with this design while working with Surgat and that vision was among some of the first communications between us. It was made by an artist who I know as Loagaeth on the occult forum. Check out her metal work, it is pretty fantastic.

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.