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,

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.