Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Extreme Listening

It's time to get back to magick. A series of life events have me re-evaluating my priorities, and I'm thankful to be back to doing some of the things that I have unfortunately been ignoring for a bit.

So, most people recognize that my partner and fiance, Rufus Opus, is very interested in the place of love in the Great Work. It's impossible to hang out with him for very long and not be pondering these questions yourself, and my recent pondering has to do with the role of listening.

It's sort of a foregone conclusion in Hermetics that our lives represent in some way the actions of the larger forces of the Universe. The simple way to talk about it, I suppose, is that we humans are a microcosm to the macrocosm of the larger world or the Invisible world, or both. This implies that our ordinary human relationships are representative of our relationship with gods and spirits and Nature and the conceptual universe. They, naturally, deserve our attention anyway, but when seen as a training ground for how we represent ourselves before the Big Things, they take on a different feel.

Aristophanes, in Plato's Symposium, states that humans were originally fashioned by the gods with 4 legs, 4 arms and a single head with two faces. These original, although to our eyes unwieldy, humans, were incredibly powerful and the gods became concerned that they would make trouble. They were, in fact, worried that the humans would conquer the gods. Initially, they considered destroying the humans with lightning, but then the tribute given by humans would be lost.

The gods, therefore, split the humans in half. Apollo sewed the up and reconstituted their bodies. Each human had only one set of personal parts and would forever long for his or her lost half. 

The tendency of humans to pair up seems to support this poetically, although there is a lot of biology involved in that bond as well.

But, keeping with the story, here we are, cut in half and the only ways to connect with the other half involve touch and speech. We pretend we can read each others' minds, but this is a dicey thing to depend upon. If we want to be effective at communicating with other people, we need to practice the arts of physical contact and verbal communication.

And in connection with the intended content of this blog, we need to train these skills to be an effective seer. If we humans are a subset of the original human format, how much more are we a subset of the Universe at large? Some of the skills required to be a good human partner are exactly the same as those required to perform successful scrying.

Listening is particularly important. One can only listen well from a position of confidence, this is clear. Knowing well your own value makes it possible to actually hear without feeling threatened. Additionally, it helps one to hear what's being said rather than waiting to speak. Controlling the conversation is the opposite of listening. It's also necessary to not predict what's about to be said; thinking you know ahead of time what is going to happen is counterproductive to communication with both humans and invisible friends.

Ask questions.

Repeat what you have heard.

Try to picture what's being felt and said.

Obviously, don't interrupt.

And remember in particular to come at this from a position of power. You are here for a reason, communicating for a reason. Recognize your own value; allow yourself to bring it all to the table in compassion and understanding.

And blessed be thou!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Devotion to Venus

In recognition of her place in our lives, and to reclaim some space for our combined practice, RO and I yesterday did a conjuration of the angel of Venus, Haniel. The intention was only devotional, we had no questions and no real purpose, other than to present offerings of incense, fire and wine.

We both bathed beforehand in a prosaic manner, no real spiritual juice to mine at least. And no salt, no mantra, no white towel on my head. We have both been ill with a stomach virus, so it was a low-key jeans and tee shirt event.

Together, we performed the Seven Spheres opening, the blessing of the fire and incense. Together we read Patrick Dunn's new translation of the Orphic Hymn to Venus.

Then we basked in the environment that we had constructed. 

As the incense burned to about the middle point, two streams of smoke began to issue from the stick. It curled thickly in the air of the living room, and began to reach out to caress our faces. It was never so thick to be obnoxious, only inviting. It seemed very dance-like and felt as though our offerings were gladly accepted.

Blessed be thou.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Brandy William's Time Machine (a book review)

Those dirty guys at Amazon won't let me post this review right now, so you'll get it here first.  :o)

I know I haven't posted for a long time.  I'll remedy that situation soon, as we are planning some interesting ritual work here at Castle ROHF soon.  Meanwhile, my review for Brandy William's book, to be released later this week:

In preparation for an interview that I recently performed for the Ordo Templi Orientis U.S. Grand Lodge podcast, “Thelema Now,” Ms. William’s publishers, Llewellyn Publications, sent me a pre-release copy of her book “For the Love of the Gods: The History and Modern Practice of Theurgy.”

I have enjoyed this book in several ways.  I expected a high level of scholarship, and was delighted at the engaging way in which stories were told relating the practices of theurgy throughout the ages.

In a history that begins in Egypt before the Common Era, and moves into our temporal backyard with Theosophists and modern occultists, we are taken into the lives of those who have studied and practiced these techniques. In the stories that compose the first portion of the book, we are projected into stories generated around historical fact that transport the reader into the lives of those who sought personal relationship with deity.  The tales illustrate the techniques of theurgy, the teaching mechanisms employed, and the relationship between the theoretical and experiential aspects of the tradition, the importance of ritual.

The final portion of the book introduces the reader to studies, practices and rituals adapted from historical sources and tailored for today’s reader. This part is the praxis to bring the theory and history uncovered beforehand to life.

In short, this book is a time machine.  In it, we receive an almost familial sense of continuity between ancient practitioners and those people who are stalking direct encounters with divinity today.  A quote from the text (p 257): “Theurgic ritual is performed today.  To a Witch, Ceremonial magician or Pagan student of history, the rituals performed by Hellenistic era magicians two thousand years ago seem very familiar.  The spells in the papyri are strikingly comprehensible.  Our world is contiguous with the world in which these rituals were created, and there is a traceable connection through the literature of Neo-Platonic philosophy, so it should not be surprising that the rituals themselves expressing this philosophy are understandable to us.”

Thanks to Brandy Williams for a readable, enjoyable and rigorous history of theurgy and its practices, and thanks also to Kat Sanborn at Llewyllen for providing me with a REAL BOOK to read, and not teasing me about my allergy to reading electronically!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Initiation by the Solar Wind

I am sorry if any of you were missing me.  I’ve been busy.  This spring we moved houses again, this time into one with our names on the mortgage.  We have had lots of guests, lots of Great Work.  I’ve also been involved in a very intimate and deep solar initiation.

You see, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April.  First there was an irregularity on the mammogram.  After the mammogram was the biopsy, after the biopsy was the surgery, after the surgery was the radiation therapy…and I’m almost done with that.

This is not an adventure for the faint of heart under any circumstances.  It’s painful, frightening, embarrassing, fatiguing, terribly hard.  Even if I weren’t sort of spiritually inclined by nature, it would bring into sharp focus the way so many ordinary folks are wandering the world with so much hidden pain.
My fellow cancer-travelers are like me: we have surgery, basically, and get up to go back to work.  Some of the ladies in the waiting room worked through their chemo.  And they go to baby showers, shop for groceries and mow the lawn in their post-mastectomy gear.  Life goes on, and you’d never know about their situation by looking at them.  Their husbands come with them sometimes, and they have the fear of losing their life-partners all about them.  It’s like a cloying scent, the fear of death is always on the partners.

Never forget that the people in your life have hidden pain.  This is a lesson that brings compassion in 55 gallon drums.

I have been lucky.  The tumor was small and not very aggressive. I didn’t need classic lose-your-hair chemo.  The surgery made a mess, but most everything is still there.  Radiation is freaky and turns your skin the most amazing color of red, but that side effect is most likely temporary; in general, I’m told that I have tolerated the treatment well.

And the treatment seems to me to be the most solar of initiatory experiences…

“Radiation treatment” for cancer is exposure to x-rays.  Lots and lots of x-rays.  It’s performed in the hopes of killing the cancer cells that remained after the surgery, of course, but it doesn’t just kill cancer cells.  Normal tissue is also impacted.
My thoughts about my experience changed when I realized that in nature, X-rays are emitted by stars.  When the sun throws off solar material in a coronal mass ejection, x-rays are also produced.  These particles end up causing the phenomenon called the solar wind, which encounters the gases in our atmosphere to make the aurorae. 

Of course, the solar wind also removed all Mars’ atmosphere.  It’s strong stuff to the unprotected.

On a hermetic level, the experience is also solar because of the intensity and the processing of the impure things out of the system.  As Crowley states in Magick in Theory and Practice (bold font mine), “The First Matter is a man, that is to say, a perishable parasite, bred of the earth’s crust, crawling irritably upon it for a span, and at last returning to the dirt whence he sprang. The process of initiation consists in removing his impurities, and finding in his true self an immortal intelligence, to whom matter is no more than the means of manifestation. The initiate is eternally individual; he is ineffable, incorruptible, immune from everything. He possesses infinite wisdom and infinite power in himself. This equation is identical with that of a talisman. The Magician takes an idea, purifies it, intensifies it by invoking into it the inspiration of his soul. It is no longer a scrawl scratched on a sheep-skin, but a word of Truth, imperishable, mighty to prevail throughout the sphere of its purport.’

One of my impurities, it seems, was a tumor.  So, it’s gone now, dissected and photographed for posterity.  So is the innocence that is related to the visceral health that I previously enjoyed, the feeling of physical immortality.  I feel fragile now, even though I am still strong and, tumor notwithstanding, healthy.  I am not afraid to die, but very cognizant of the fact that I may well die of something related to the cancer or its brutal treatment.

The only thing to do is to treat it like a message from god.  I am being initiated intimately with the solar wind into a different person.  It is a literal shamanic death trip.  It is necessary for the shaman in training to undergo some type of serious crisis, and I guess this is mine. 
In getting ready for the radiation, the technicians put me in a CT machine to figure exactly where the tumor-bed lay in my mangled breast.  They marked me with small tattoos in a cross that lays across my breastbone so that they could use lasers to position me the same way each time on the table under the linear accelerator that makes the x-rays.  

Every morning, when I lay down to be positioned in the machine, the lasers overlap the tattoos in a three dimensional cross that bisects me in each of three dimensions.  And then the treatment starts.  The technicians leave the room, of course.  It’s lined with a foot of lead in every direction.  It is as alone as being in the Alaskan wilderness.  The buzzing that indicates that the machines is on, the smell of ozone from the x-rays ionizing the air.  That’s all there is in that room.

Every morning, I anoint and bless myself with Abramelin oil.  “Bless me, an animate creature of god…”  I lay in the machine and perform the Middle Pillar exercise.  I feel a presence at times that may be some of the first inklings of K and C.  My daily meditations have become sharp and easy, my pranayama practice the same.

 My body has been scourged with many whips, but I remain. 

I remain.

Be thou blessed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Demands and Requests

Quiet for a long time, I know.  Practical realities have been in the way, as well as self-care and holidays.

I have not been without my seership practice, however.

Last week, RO had some work to do for a client, working with the spirit Caim.  I came home absolutely exhausted from a stressful day at work (hardware release coming, it's not ready... that kind of thing), ate dinner and declared that I would get ready for bed.  RO stated that he needed to do the work, that it wouldn't take long and that he'd join me momentarily.

I went into the bathroom and began to take my contact lenses out.  All of a sudden, my eyes began to water.  Not single tears, mind you, but like a hose.  It was like cutting onions, the worst onions in the universe.  Still dripping, I went into see what RO was doing.  He hadn't started yet.  I explained what was happening, he asked me if I'd like to participate in the working.  I was intrigued and agreed to scry for him.  Immediately, the weeping stopped.

We got into the meat of the working, and it was clear that the spirit needed a voice.  There were some complicated ideas that needed to be expressed. My presence seemed to be helpful for the expression of concerns from the spirit before he granted his agreement to help RO's client.

There's a first time for everything, and this post documents the first time I was ever invited to a rite by the spirit.

Be thou blessed.

Monday, September 1, 2014


As I threatened/promised in my last post, RO and I had more work to do.

The night before last, we switched roles. He was the scryer and I the conjurer.  We used the same modified Trithemian rite as usual, but started things off with Thelemic version of the LRP and LRH.  Once the space was made consecrated and defensible, I summoned the spirit:

"In your name and by your seal, I conjure you, Bune, Thou great and mighty Duke. Appear before us and speak clearly and truly without the least ambiguity, so that even men such as ourselves may understand. Be comely in thine appearance and equally comely in thy manner. We bring you here today to bless these spirit pots, if you find them acceptable. Also we ask for the gift of your eloquence so as to clearly and concisely speak our Wills into being."

RO felt the spirit right away, and knew him. They've worked together extensively in the past, as you know, so this makes sense. I asked the seer what the spirit looked like: RO reported that he did not have a vision of the spirit so much as sensed him. There was a heavy heat in the room as we started talking to him.

RO asked him for approval of pots, which he immediately gave. There was a field of “yum” about this that was palpable.  The spirit had a quiet, expectant energy.

I then asked him if he had anything else to communicate, and he said that making spirit pots for other people was fine, but not to sell them to anyone stupid (I almost cracked up about that).  He explained that they are connected in a way, and if we made too many of them would diminish their power, like objects in a flow causing turbulence. This would interrupt the hydrodynamic flow in the same sense as putting big rocks in a stream. The flow can be used to create power, he said, but it must be allowed to move without impediment.  Additionally, he made a wry and crabby statement about the least common denominator which I don't remember well.

I asked Bune what the spirits received from having relationships with people: he said that other spirit were like forces of nature, and therefore couldn't choose their actions. They are a cause-and-effect system, and there’s no responsiveness in them; people are different in that way, and therefore interesting to “speak with.” Additionally,  he said, that humans are almost like mirrors to him, and allow him to see himself, as well as communicate outwardly.

He spontaneously stated that he liked my vocabulary and would like to help me with my writing and marketing efforts. I thanked him and accepted that gift.

The spirit then fell silent. I dribbled the spirit pots with whiskey, and I gave leave to depart.
I said: Be thou blessed, be thou cleansed and raised. By my skills and office, I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. May all impediments and obstacles standing between you and your Source be removed. (RO talks in his post a bit more about us having been ordained, so I won't go over it here.)

We then extinguished the candles and tipped over, because we'd been sitting on our heels for so long and our feet were completely asleep.

Be thou blessed.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

In need of practice...

Last night was our first private working together in our new house. We have been here for two months, but have had visitors for most of that time; not at all conducive to the invitation of and conversation with the spirits. In between, we did a working together with two other magicians in which we conversed with Usiel and Ansoel about divorce shenanigans for a client. My first paid working. It was strange, and I’ll comment about it one day. Not now, though.

Our first private working, then, in our new space, was a spirit pot working. RO has some client work bound up in these, and lately gave a talk including a brief mention of their use at MNCON, an OTO convention held last weekend in Minneapolis at Leaping Laughter Lodge. A spirit pot, basically, is a particularly rich talisman that gives a meeting place between you and a spirit, a place from which the spirit can influence your physical reality. He’s written extensively on such things, have a look here:


The actual recipe for the pots were using will be in his blog post of today (he’s sitting next to me writing it, in fact… “Babe, what’s the herb we used that smells like a dirty sock?”)


The target for my spirit pot was a duke, as described in the the Pseudomonarchia daemonorum:

"Vapula is a great duke and a strong, he is seene like a lion with griphens wings, he maketh a man subtill and wonderfull in handicrafts, philosophie, and in sciences conteined in bookes, and is ruler over thirtie six legions.”

Yesterday, Venus was in Leo. Additionally, of course, Friday is the day of Venus, and the Dukes are all about Venus…

My part in the working began with a ritual bath, NaCl and NaHCO3 added. I took kratom beforehand; I was interested in its effects on my scrying. Kratom is an herb local to Thailand (currently legal, but this status may soon change – keep your eye on Erowid) that is considered a mild stimulant and intoxicant. In candlelight, I sang Lutheran Te Deum, and put my head under the water and listened to the sounds of the house, the tub, my heart beating. When the water started to cool off, I got out and bound my hair in a white, new dishtowel.

RO began the Trithemian rite by calling on the Source/First Father. After that, he performed the LRP and I the LRH. After that, we returned to the script described in the latest entries. Before we donned our phlacteries, I took off the towel. RO consecrated me to the work at hand, and then he summoned Vapula.

When he entered, my head (the back particularly) became hot and slightly prickly. The crystal had in it a figure like a superposition of a hawk’s head and the skull of a big rodent. There seemed also to be a pointy tail underneath these things - a scorpion’s tail, perhaps.

Vapula made the crystal appear to be a tiny planet, complete with an atmosphere. This seemed a wonderful trick that he did just for me. Then, the atmosphere became a black aura around the crystal that throbbed.

When RO asked him if he had anything to tell us, he said, breathily, “Who are you?” Then he told RO to speak to him more. RO reminded him of other workings they had done together.

When prompted, he agreed to work with me on deepening both my learning of physical sciences and occult history and philosophy. He agreed to come when I call on him. He liked the spirit pot, and wants menstrual blood to be applied to his seal.

[I’ll have to consider that request…]

At this point, he showed me several different phases and forms of iron, including blood, before we wrapped up.

When releasing Vapula, RO blessed him and said, amongst other things, that we hoped any obstacles between V. and his Source would be removed. V seemed to like that very much.

A couple of comments on the rite: I’m out of practice and I could tell. I guess it’s like playing a musical instrument. If you play guitar and you lose your callouses, it’s hard to dive in. Perhaps worse if you play a woodwind or brass instrument and need an embouchure.

I’m also not drinking alcohol at the moment, and am as a result more sensitive about all sorts of things. The kratom gave me a terrific headache later, so use with caution. I am not going to use it again.

Tonight…more spirit pots. For those of you interested in the male-female/conjurer-seer stuff, you should know that I’ll be driving this time. I’ll report back.

Blessed be thou.