Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Magician’s Handbook - A Grimoire To Have On-Hand

When practicing magic, an extremely practical tool that one can have is what I have come to call a handbook, or ritual book. This would be a small book where the magician or sorcerer would store all the working notes and spoken parts that would be needed during any given ritual or other working. There may be short descriptions of actions to take, basic magical exercises to refer to, and symbols and seals of spiritual forces commonly worked with.

This thing is nothing new, though. I remember when I was first learning Wicca back in 1997, the literature at the time recommended keeping one’s own Book of Shadows. At the time it was framed just like what I described above, though over time more and more Llewellyn authors framed it as a personal, timeline-style journal...which I never quite agreed with.

Polyphanes over at The Digital Ambler recently finished filling up the moleskine notebook he kept as his personal, on-hand echiridion, and so it came time to condense the material and transfer it to a new notebook. This reminded me of a similar endeavor I had in June where I took my little ritual book and re-did it with better organization and formatting than what the previous version had.

What’s interesting and amusing here is that he reached that point with his handbook soon after I had finished the new version of mine. Though the purpose of our handbooks are the same, our methods differed vastly. To explain, I’ll give a short history of mine:

Back in 2013 I decided to make a new version of my handbook, as I was not satisfied with the previous version. The information was so disjointed and disorganized that I wanted something a bit more condensed. So I grabbed a blank, lined journal about 5.5” x 8 in size and transcribed most of the practical information of my magical practices by hand. It took me a month of writing in it for at least two hours every night. On the weekends, I spent most of the day on it. My wrist and hand absolutely hated me during that time.

Flash forward to late May or early June of this year, and that one had reached a similar point too. The memory of all the intense effort spent on it was somehow still fresh in my memory, and after I had completed it I had endeavored to find a faster way to put it all together.

For me, this left a few possible options:

  1. Grab a small blank scrapbook and print pages to put in it. Pros: With sturdy clips and bindings, I likely wouldn’t get the punch-hole tear that plagued me back when I first started my Book of Shadows in a three-ring binder back in 1997. Cons: I would need to be able to lay it flat, but also I couldn’t find any blank scrapbooks small enough.
  2. Writing my handbook out in a word processor and paying to have a company print, bind, and ship it to me as a paperback. Pros: Very little effort on my part. Cons: It would probably cost more than I was willing to pay, when I could do it myself. Thus...
  3. Writing my handbook in a word processor, getting it printed myself, and binding it by hand. Pros: Complete control of the finished product, and less cost. Cons: More time spent learning related skills, possibly failing to result in a good product.

Given my still-existing artistic and design inclinations, if you guessed that I went with option #3, you’d be right!

So I took to a word processor on my computer (in this case, WPS Writer) and got all the information together. The upshot of this is that I had most of it already: I keep a much larger, fuller Grimoire on my Google Drive. Most of the book was a simple copy & paste operation followed by formatting...lots of formatting.

Then, I learned more about how to print and bind one’s own book. After doing that, I took PDF files of the whole project to a local FedEx office, printed it, took the print-outs home and bound the whole thing. In total, it probably cost me about $30.

Except for the cover I’d found at a vendor booth at a convention. That cost me $65...but that was more for artistic flair than anything else.

I'm very satisfied with the new organization, which runs something like this:

  1. A few starting quotes and rhetoric lists.
  2. A list of the basic forces I work with in magic (elemental, planetary) and the seals of spirits related to them.
  3. Foundations of my practice of sorcery (meditation, offerings, purifications, subtle keys, gestures, poses)
  4. Zone rites
  5. Liturgy - Invocations, prayers, orphic hymns, etc.
  6. General magical methods, such as consecrations, and ritual preparation.
  7. Rituals and spells...a combination of theurgical and thaumaturgical workings.
  8. A section of blank, lined pages for further additions to be handwritten in.

One thing I would like to point out about this, though, is that something like this should always be grounded in the practical. I paid for the leather cover because I liked it, not because I felt I needed it, per se. The book itself is bound with a simple black cardstock cover, which cost me…$0.50, I think? Overall the book was cheap to make and took way less time than its previous handwritten iterations. Don’t break your bank doing something like this. :-)

In my next two posts I will outline how I did this, and also provide my own response to Polyphanes’ post regarding the role of a handbook like this.

But in closing for now, here are some pictures of mine after I finished it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Bit About Offerings

Recently I was speaking with a friend of mine, and she had something she wanted to ask me regarding magic. She's a Heathen and has a special relationship with Vali. She was concerned about her spiritual practice, felt stuck, frustrated, and even came close to dismantling her shrines!

So I gave her some advice I give to anyone wanting to deepen their spiritual lives: Daily practice!

Specifically, I outlined some central daily practices I do, including:
  1. Connecting to the spiritual cosmos around me.
  2. Giving offerings.
  3. Meditation.

Today, I want to talk about #2: Offerings. Previously I've stated that offerings are one of the cornerstones of my magical practice, and that still holds true. It's honestly one of the most beneficial practices that I think any magical practitioner can do.

Before I began the practice of offerings as taught by Jason Miller, I didn't get the point or even see why it was needed. If deities are already all-powerful, why do you need to give offering to them? But through Jason's teachings in Strategic Sorcery, I discovered a little secret about it: It's not always about the offering itself, it's about the relationships you develop!

See, there are all kinds of things you can give offering to. Anywhere from the whole of existence, to those gross, awful spirits that sneak around like villains in an old monochrome movie looking for someone to fuck over. The effect offerings have on each of these is different depending on what they are. As I learned it from Jason, I consider there to be four “Classes” of spirits in regard to giving offerings:
  1. The Transcendent Divine - The Pleroma (Fullness Of Existence); Transcendent deities; ascended beings (like Buddha, Jesus, and others); etc: This category doesn't benefit from offerings, per se, but it's kind of like a child giving a horrible-looking drawing to their parent. The parent still pins it up on the refrigerator and goes on about how great it is. Again, it's about the relationship!
  2. Personal Gods & Famuli - Deities one works directly with; One's ancestors; spiritual familiars of the witch or sorcerer; guardians of the spiritual path one is on. This class doesn't require offerings, per se, but they get something from it.
  3. All Regular Spirits - The Average Joes; elementals, nature spirits, the Fey, land spirits/wights, the wandering shades of the dead and those trapped in the in-between spaces: This class gets a lot of benefit from offerings and can become fast allies through this practice.
  4. Dire & Wrathful Spirits - These are the boogeymen waiting in the shadows of the spirit world, waiting to inflict harm and curses on anyone unlucky enough to cross them, but it also includes spirits you've offended or hurt just by living your life the way you do. In this case, offerings help make reparation for offenses, like the proverbial olive branch, and also calm the wrathful nature of these beings toward you.

As you can see, many spirits gain benefit from giving offerings, but there is also the relationship you develop from it. Think of it: If you were constantly prolific in contributing to your community and worked to improve it...wouldn't you be remembered across that community with fondness?

The only caution Jason advises in Strategic Sorcery about these classes is that if you are going to give an offering to #4, also call classes #1 and #2 first.

But, some may wonder...how do you give an offering? Just set some stuff out and verbally say it's theirs? Sure, you could do that, but that doesn't necessarily make the most of it, in my opinion. So here is what I do, based on what I learned in Jason Miller's Strategic Sorcery course.

The Gesture Of Offering

It's really simple: You hold both hands next to each other in front of you, palms up and more or less flat. If confused, imagine that you are using your hands to hold a large plate in front of you.

Ocean Delano's General Offering

This is given as an example, and is based on liturgy in Strategic Sorcery. This is what I use when giving my routine offerings.

Rub your hands together for a moment to sensitize them and pull energy into them. Now imagine rays of light with hooks on the ends shining out from your heart. Imagine that they draw the denizens of the spirit world to you as you speak the following call:

Whisper, “Arise.”
Speak, in normal tone, “Arise.”
Call out, “Arise!”
“Arise, you spirits both near and far!
Spirits of the Empyrean Heights and the Infernal Depths;
Of the silent, still earth and of the vast, flowing waters;
Of the whirling, blowing air and of the hot, burning fire;
Guardians of the work and you famuli bound to me;
You Fey who dwell unseen;
You dead who haunt the In-Between;
Those spirits whom I have offended,
And those wrathful beings waiting to harm and obstruct;
Especially those spirits of this very place in which I dwell!”

Make the Gesture of Offering. As you do so, release a cloud of energy, willing it to multiply infinitely and transform into what is most wanted by its recipients, as you speak it below:

“I praise your names and I give forth offerings!
May they multiply and fill the ten directions!
May they take on the forms that fulfill your hearts' desires!
Come, partake of this offering and let us be at peace.
Come, take your fill, and be thus fulfilled.

And that's it! Trust me, this does work, and it is appreciated by the ones receiving it. This is a general offering that covers a broad range of beings. It can easily be adapted to even individual spirits, following this general method:

  1. Sensitize your hands by rubbing them together.
  2. Call out to the spirit you wish to offer to.
  3. Through the Gesture of Offering, emanate a cloud of energy, will it to multiply infinitely, and to take on the form of that which the recipient wants most.

Using This With Physical Offerings

But what if you want to offer something physical, like incense or wine? No problem!

In the above example, we willed the emanated energy to multiply and transform. You can also do that to the spiritual aspect of physical offerings. You can even use the four elements plus spirit to purify and prepare the offerings. What I will usually do is hold my hand over the physical offerings, and then with my imagination...

...see the offering engulfed in fire...
...see air blowing out the fire and blowing away the ashes...
...see water washing the offering clean...
...see the offering multiplying and filling all known space...
...see the multiplied offering becoming mutable, reflecting what is most wanted by the guests I will call.

I normally have some liturgy I use with that, but it's really simple and mostly consists of verbally affirming what I visualize.

So how do you put this into practice? What I normally do after purifying and preparing the physical offering, is simply set it in front of me. If it's a candle or incense, I'll light it. Then, I'll perform the call and the gesture. Alternatively, I sometimes hold the physical offering in my hands during the gesture, and then set it down.

Before I move on, I'd like to address why someone would even want to use a physical offering. Some spirits actually derive pleasure from physical offerings. There are spirits known to “eat” scent, for example. Also, it seems to me that including a physical offering gives more substance to the overall offering, and so it's a good idea.

In short, offerings of energy and mind are fine in a pinch, while physical supports can carry even more weight in many cases.

What To Offer

So, knowing the “why” and “how”...how about the “what”? There are tons of different things you can offer to spirits. Some prefer some things, others prefer other things. Here are some common ones:
  • Incense
  • Wine or other alcohol
  • Food
  • Flowers
  • Symbolic objects

This can be an important point to consider, because some spirits and deities could be offended by some types of offerings. In Strategic Sorcery, if I remember correctly, Jason gives an example that one would not want to offer meat to nagas. Likewise, with spirits of the dead, cool water and light is a good offering, but unless you want them to get rowdy and wrathful (and there are applications for that kind of thing) alcohol might not be the best idea. Especially if you're offering to spirits of the deceased who were alcoholics in life.

Ocean Delano's Short Guide To Choosing Appropriate Offerings

Ask the spirit or deity, themselves! They'd be the best information source for what they like. :-) But if you don't have that opportunity, here is what I advise:

  • Try to choose something that is appropriate to what you know of their nature, but don't give something they are known to produce. That would be like someone handing you a cup of your own urine. For example, offering honey from local bees to the spirit of the land they live on? Nah, maybe give something else.
  • On that note: Research! There are plenty of online resources with tons of good info on what different deities like or don't like. For instance, with Hekate, it's easy to find that she likes eggs, honey, bread, cheese, etc. For Dionysos, wine! (because D'UH!)
  • In my experience, some types of physical offerings are appropriate to a large range of spirits and deities: Frankincense & myrrh combined; water; wine; bread; light (eg candles). Also, Brother Moloch swears by a candle dressed with spearmint oil as a generally good offering no matter the spirit or deity. Personally, I often give some of my favorite nag champa incense as offering, tying it to the symbolism of giving something I personally cherish and value. That symbolism comes across and can be appreciated by spirits and deities, but you should still consider their preferences as well.

In Closing

That's about all I have to say about offerings. They can be as complex or simple as needed, whether it is silently given or a big, elaborate ritual; it can include physical offerings or just energy and will.

Almost all of what I've written is what I learned from Jason Miller's course “Strategic Sorcery”, and there is a lot more there than I have included here. So if you're interested in learning more, consider signing up. It's some of the best money I've ever spent. I also want to give a big thanks to the man himself! Since this post contains things that are in the course, thus restricted normally, I'm very grateful he gave me the go-ahead to post this content. Thank you, sir.

And for final mention, I especially wrote this for my Heathen friend whom I mentioned at the start of this post. So, Anne, I hope that if you do use some of this information: may it multiply and fill your life with blessings of what you most need. :-)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tips For Young Occultists, part II

In my last post, I addressed a recent controversy that, as usual online, brought out the absolute worst in the people involved in the conversations.

Mr. Farrell's post addressed a lot of the attitudinal and interpersonal aspects of being a young occultist. But at the end of his own post, Mr. Hillier at BLOGOS made a more practical list that addresses the “how” of starting out. I have my own, similar list that I unapologetically janked from Mr. Hillier's a few times.


#1 - Meditate. Seriously, everyday, at least 10-20 minutes, meditate. You're welcome.
#2 - Develop your relationship with the spiritual world around you through the giving of offerings and, if you feel called to do so, through devotional practices.
#3 - Keep a diary. Magical practices, dreams, divinations, daily life stuff...all of these, if you can. You will be able to look back and see your progress, and it is valuable!
#4 - Establish a daily practice. Just as physical muscles need regular use to stay strong, so do your magical ones. My own daily practice consists of meditation, invocation of my higher being, general offering, and some basic energy work.
#5 - Don't neglect your body. All the spiritual power and occult expertise in the world won't help you if you end up, at 65, bed-ridden and unable to walk due to obesity, diabetes, and coronary artery disease that could have been prevented to some extent by practicing healthful living.
#6 - Study source texts first, and THEN commentaries and works based off the source.
#7 - Stay grounded in the world. Study old texts, conjure old spirits, but pay attention to the warnings in the old grimoires when doing so. Also, keep relationships with your non-magical friends strong. Go out, see concerts, see movies, have good food and good laughs.
#8 - Engage with the spiritual worlds. Explore them with astral projection, skrying, etc and see how this benefits your daily life.
#9 - Connect with other people respectfully, regardless of their age, seniority, or fame.
#10 - Remember that you are still a student, even if you also end up becoming a teacher.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tips For Young Occultists, part I

Controversy broke out recently in the magical blog-o-sphere, leading to a lot of vitriol and a resurgence on the topic of spiritual abuse within paganism and occultism. It started when Nick Farrell made a post containing 10 tips for young occultists.

In response, Michael Seblux made a counter post arguing that the tips Mr. Farrell posted can easily foster a culture of abuse, which frankly has been seen too much in the occult and pagan communities. Additionally, fellow Gentleman for Jupiter Logan Hillier at BLOGOS posted his own rebuttal.

Aside from that, the controversy has mostly happened on Facebook, including one Mitzy Gaynor showering Mr. Seblux with threats and vitriol on Nick's behalf. Upon notifying Mr. Farrell of this, he shrugged it off and justified her actions, which to me is wrong, but I'm generally “unimportant” enough to not merit the...loving attention of such people.

Honestly, the whole thing is, in my opinion, a cock-up, to use an English turn of phrase. While on one hand, Mr. Farrell has some good points about modern students of the occult (and, indeed, many students in general), on the other hand the danger of fostering abuse culture is very, very real. It is not something I have often encountered, as I have always kept to the fringe and maintained my distance from Pagan and occult groups. But with that said, I have indeed personally felt the sting of it. But the conversation broke down, as it normally does in online occulture, into name-calling (as per Mitzy especially) and a plethora of rudeness and attacks.

So all of this got me thinking about advice to younger or new occultists. I see things of value in Mr. Farrell's tips, as well as Mr. Hillier's and others who were in the conversation. With all of that in mind, I decided to draft my own tips for young/new occultists in response to Mr. Farrell's.


#1 - Understand that you already have some knowledge and experience, but that there is more to learn, and that you will probably always be learning more. The world of the occult and the magical is vast and has a deep well of history behind it. I would wager that one cannot learn ALL of it in one lifetime. Read avidly, study the material, both old and new. Hell, study things that technically fall outside of occultism because it will only add to your depth of knowledge and help you make new connections to things you never thought you would.

#2 - Process what you learn and be willing to talk about it in open, respectful dialog. Mr. Farrell phrased this as “Stop Talking”, which I disagree with. Yes, know when to stop talking and let those more experienced and knowledgeable take the floor, but also engage with them. Have a discussion with them if you can, and LEARN from them.

#3 - Listen and take in what is being said by others with more knowledge and experience than you. I actually like Mr. Farrell's point here and his reasoning. Take in what you are hearing, even if you don't understand it yet. Because “yet” is the operative word here. You WILL comprehend it eventually, trust that.

#4 - Engage with your teachers. Mr. Farrell cautioned to “not use questions to assert your own ignorance”, and I agree with that, but it should go beyond that. Lately, I have been getting more and more into respectful dialog, and that is what you should practice with your teachers. And a good, worthwhile teacher will welcome that. Ask them questions about their teachings, bring up points and conclusions this leads you to, accept insightful feedback from them. Through this, both you and your teachers gain more in-depth knowledge.

#5 - You are one of many; take advantage of that with humility to help you learn! In his post, Mr. Farrell phrased this as “Realize that you are unimportant”, which myself and others had a massive problem with. Yes, your role in an organization or under a specific teacher may be small initially, but that can be a good thing. This is where you learn and grow. Network with your peers, form student-led study groups (as per Mr. Hillier), and embrace being part of a larger whole. If you ever get called to teach, it will happen probably whether you like it or not. But until you have the knowledge and experience for that, do your work in this setting and see where it leads you.

#6 - Your teacher, no matter how enlightened or ascended, is still human. Your spiritual teacher is a human being with their own struggles, problems, and failings. Some students forget this, or they shrug it off claiming a higher standard. Some of them are crotchety as hell, some act like out-and-out cunts as Mr. Farrell said. There have been times I've taken issue or disagreement with things my own teachers have said or done. I recognize that they are people too, though. With that said, if their behavior is abusive, that must not be tolerated.

#7 - Your teacher will take notice of both what you say and what you do. They generally have an idea of which of their students are doing the work they teach, and doing it well. It comes through in your approach to things and how you express yourself. A lot of people today tend to place more emphasis on actions than words...and rightly so to a degree...but I think it needs to be balanced between the two.

#8 - Be mindful of what you project onto the teacher. Again, they're human, just like you. There are cases where a student projects a kind of parental figure onto the teacher, and they should avoid doing this. It's not fair to the student or the teacher because it takes away from simply being who they are and places things on that relationship that should not be there. If there is a problem you have with your teacher, check to see if it's something that you do as well, or if you have an expectation of them based on something missing in your own life. This can give insight to help you grow.

#9 - Don't hesitate to help out where you can. My teacher, Jason Miller, has somehow formed a really cool group in Strategic Sorcery. All the time, I see other students contribute things that are absolutely great! On Jason's recent Arcane Audio talks, another student took the recorded audio and polished it up for Jason to send out after the call. When a mishap occurred with the latest talk, resulting in the call not being recorded, another student had Jason covered all participants still got the polished-up version. Assisting the course and teachings like this can help boost one's experience and in turn helps everyone, including you.

#10 - If you have concerns, raise them with the teacher one-on-one as a first resort. Mr. Farrell expressed this as “never challenge the leader” and has been a major sticking point of his post. In my opinion, as Mr. Farrell expressed it, this was one of the absolute worst points in his post. For further explanation here is the subtext of his point:

“If a group is bad, having you mouth off about it is not going to help.  If you are unable to quietly take your concerns to the leader then you have to leave.  Even if you take your concerns to the leader, be aware that you might be announcing your own exit. The problem is that when you are young you are going to get hurt and diced by magical group politics by people who are a hell of a lot more clued up than you.  Remember that in games like that, you are just there to make up the numbers or be cannon fodder of more mature and politically clever people – it always ends badly.”

First, if you cannot take your complaint to the leader without getting ripped apart, then that is a group or teacher you should not be involved with. Run, run as fast as you can and divorce yourself from that abusive group. Second, those “people who are a hell of a lot more clued up than you” are scum and you should do the same thing: Cut them out of your life. I find disgust in Mr. Farrell's assertions, and if nothing else, his point #10 is one of the strongest cases Mr. Seblux used in the accusations of fostering spiritual abuse. What Mr. Farrell described in point #10 is a cesspool of terrible people who any sane student should NEVER involve themselves with. That is simply needless politics for its own sake, and as Mr. Farrell said, it never ends well.

That said, if it's not all THAT bad, take your concerns to the teacher first. If they are not willing to listen to you, then it is time to consider whether or not this teacher is one you should be studying under.


Overall, he has some good points, and it must be kept in mind where he is coming from about it. In modern day, all fields are seeing an influx of students who are impatient, lazy, and who want a magic wand waved to suddenly make them “get there” without doing the subsequent work.

But where I have a problem with Farrell's post is in placing most of the responsibility for dealing with abusive teachers or organizations on the student. That, along with the message his post puts forth of "You're a puny little nothing and you don't matter", is really what I think raised the red flag for folks like Seblux and Hillier.

In all of this, I can distill one really crucial message: The teacher is there to effectively teach, and the student is there to do his or her work and make the effort to learn. There is responsibility on both ends that should not be ignored by either.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Advising Pitfalls, ver. 2

Hey readers! A week and a half ago I made a post detailing some guidelines for people contacting me for magical advice and assistance. Since then, I've discovered I put the whole thing forward the wrong way and gave the wrong impression.

Since starting this blog, I've had the odd person or two contact me every now and then for advice. Usually they have been fellow magical practitioners who were seeking feedback on a particular topic, or needed someone to bounce ideas off of. I was always cool with this, because I often like to network with like-minded individuals on magical topics.

But unfortunately, contrary to the impression of the post from the other weekend, I am not actually offering free magical services. Usually, I've done client work for personal friends, but between my day job and my personal obligations, I haven't had the time to set up an online consulting business for magical services. Besides, I'm not up on the know-how of doing the business end of that...yet. If that changes, this blog will be the first place it will be announced!

I am actually working a case for a woman who contact me, because I'm sympathetic to her plight and I happened to have enough time to do some magical work for her. But she's definitely been the exception, not the norm.

The post from the other weekend was inspired by two people who contacted me within the past 6 months asking for help. To one degree or another, they were both difficult, especially the second one, in that they argued with me when *they* were the ones who sought *me* out, unsolicited. The second one especially was bad, kept dismissing most of the advice I gave and explaining all of it away (which begs the question of why he contacted me at all if he knows so much).

So in short, while I'm willing to give a bit of magical advice here and there, I'm not doing this professionally at this time, especially free-of-charge (with the exception of the woman I mentioned above). I apologize for the confusion and the misleading information.

Now, if you're interested in the magical arts and want to network, or bounce ideas off someone, that might be a better bet. ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What I Call 'Traditionitis'

After the meditation posts I saw in my blog feed, I also came across a post by Brother Moloch who summed up perfectly what I have had in mind about African Religious Systems and how you'll often see practitioners of them go on to get initiations into another, and then another, and then another, etc.

Is it bad that such a thing reminds me of a Pringles commercial? ("Once you pop, you can't stop")
Check it out: Initiation Collectors

Meditation Post Roll

Going through my blog feed today, I stumbled across a couple interesting posts on meditation, and its successor, contemplation.

First, there is The Unlikely Mage's description of a recent meditation retreat he went on with his local Buddhist meditation group.

Then I found The Holiest Percher's post on contemplation. This specifically is a topic that left me a little mystified, and his post provided me with some clarity I needed. See, Jason covers contemplation in one of the lessons of Strategic Sorcery, but I wasn't sure what to make of it, because in a way it is harder to describe.

Take a gander at those two posts, if you're interested. :-)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Interesting Uncrossing Technique from Andrieh Vitimus

Andrieh Vitimus is one dude whose material I don't touch on enough. Check out his latest blog post with an uncrossing method involving peppermint candy and red palm oil. I'm definitely filing this one away for later use!


Checking In

At one point I decided to give up on saying the usual platitudes of "Sorry I haven't been around LOLOLOL." But still, I wanted to check in with an update of what I've been up to.

For the larger part, I've been working my routine practice as much as I can, although it's honestly been a bit of a struggle. It's part of that whole "Things are cool, so not much need for activity" things. I've heard of other magicians and sorcerers having a struggle with that, so in many ways it's somewhat typical.

As part of my routine work, I've continued with my regular practice in the Gentlemen for Jupiter, as well. This has usually been a toast to the Order and the legion of Jovian spirits, along with a request related to maintenance and upkeep of my finances.

Having focused on Rootwork-related magical practices for so long, and then deciding to move away from that, in some ways my magical practices became a burden of variety. I didn't know where to start.

Chatting with the Unlikely Mage, he recommended Peter J. Carroll's horribly-named book(?) or essay(?) 'Liber KKK' (Kaos Keraunos Kybernetikos), so I checked it out. In short, Liber KKK is a curriculum of magical operations covering five 'types' of magical operations across five 'styles' of magical practice.

The first five operations operate under 'Sorcery', or folk magic, which is ironic as this leads me back to Rootwork-style operations. But, I went into the first conjuration with a little gusto, as it involves something I honestly haven't done much of: Create an entity. In this case, an entity to aid in success, magical protections, information gathering and a reservoir of magical power.

I chose to assemble a poppet for this one, and honestly the procedure ended up being a step away from empowering a conjure hand. But still, the entity has been responsive and has performed its tasks well so far, so I'm looking forward to working with it further.

The last thing I wanted to cover vaguely in this post is mention of my final homework assignment in Strategic Sorcery. It's been well over a year since I finished the second-to-last assignment, and since I only have until the end of 2015 to complete the homework and graduate, I've decided to renew my focus on that.

The assignment is to take something from the course a step further, therefore advancing the art of magic. I have decided on something interesting which involves informational sorcery. Once I have completed the assignment and seen what results come from it, I'll definitely post it here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Culture versus Magic

Readers! It's been a long time, hasn't it? As usual, I've been a busy bee with a variety of projects and tasks. Among other things, I've been learning a new language, learning to play guitar, working on my health goals, busy at my job, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

In my magical practices, my routine stuff, the foundation of my efforts, was dropped early this year when I broke my wrist, but over the summer I picked it up, kicked it up, and managed to make it more into a daily thing, as it should be. The boost to my skills has been helpful in many cases, and making a daily practice an actual daily thing is pretty rewarding.. I still have some struggles with my practice overall, but it comes into play more due to a burden of variety.

See, modern magic has become such a melting pot of disparate sources, from a myriad of traditions and even cultures. To a wide extent, one can even say that many systems of magical practice are intrinsically linked with the cultures they arose from. Many of these, such as Quimbanda, Vodoun, Lukumi, Conjure, and more are religions in living cultures, but they do often have a sorcerous aspect to them.

Combined with the melting-pot nature of modern magic, that is where things get complicated...and seriously ugly. Especially with the African Traditional Religions (ATR's: Lukumi, Quimbanda, Vodoun, Santeria, etc), entering them in-depth requires initiation. To me, an outsider, this entails knowing and entering a community and culture that you may or may not have connections with, developing relationships with that group of people, then gaining training and eventually, initiation. This could take years, but then of course this is a living culture you're dealing with.

When it comes to the more magical paths, such as Conjure and other forms of folk magic, many of those factors come into play as well. Especially in regard to Conjure, even more factors complicate things.

With topics like folk magic, people get very defensive about their practices. Honestly, it's something I've never understood. Despite what some magical practitioners will claim, we're not Gods in any objective sense. Aside from the avoidance of sharing magical knowledge with people who will do the practices injustice, the defensiveness has never made much sense to me.

It's understandable when it involves a living culture...at least, if that culture has not abandoned the magical practice that's tied to it. For example, because so many in African American culture had moved away from it, Conjure wasn't so well known until certain folks researched it and started publishing more info about it. With Conjure's growing popularity, correspondence courses have come up, and more and more teachers have come into the public sphere.

Of course, Conjure is not the only form of folk magic out there, but it has so many aspects that make it extremely usable in addition to it's down-to-earth nature that it shares with most folk magic. And so it has generally been more popular than, for example, European folk magic. On top of that, information on has been more readily available thanks to the research of many people.

But it seems to me that this is where the ugly part comes in. Conjure is profitable. I would almost say that magic is more popular today than ever. Providing Conjure or general magical services and supplies can be pretty profitable as well. People paying for courses, supplies, books, workshops, and more bring in the  $$$.

And certain big names in modern Conjure thrive off of this, and so they get intensely defensive of their material. Sure, copyright should be protected...but if Conjure comes from a culture, how can you copyright that? In either event, the past couple years of witnessing things in Conjure online has been eye-opening in the worst way.

Near-endless drama. Big names in Conjure seem to want to control who can and cannot learn this incredibly useful and powerful magical system. Money exerts its influence, as usual, and this occult of personality brings about near-endless fighting. Just when you think it has died down, leaders in the community, along with their followers, come out with more psychosis-driven BS in their personal wars to "guard" what they feel is a part of them. Dossier files are kept on everyone, personal and credit card information is shared, individuals play both sides and act like they are hurt by having introduced person A to person B. 

Every now and then, I've witnessed some 50-something root worker or witch talk about how much it "hurts" to share information that they're lording over, or have that info pirated (which makes me question why they put it out there in the first place). I mean, really? It hurts you, psychologically damages you, to share information about some woo-woo that cannot be scientifically proven nor disproven? If THAT hurts you, you're a pretty fucking weak person to begin with. Sorry, some tough truth there, but truth it is. Radical idea here: Maybe you should calm down and shouldn't have put that information out there to begin with. Especially if it is stuff that *you* learned from other people that you've shared as though it was your own. You cannot sit there and be a gatekeeper of something that was not yours alone to begin with, and acting like a psychopath will not change that. And all that, over some unscientific woo. (Granted, I believe in that unscientific woo, but that's beside the point)

Because, like it or not, that's what it boils down to. In the eyes of skeptics, for example, all this drama and infighting is about...well, not much. That kind of puts it in perspective for me, and that's why I'm willing to share my knowledge in most cases. Sure, it's individual prerogative to protect one's original material, developed from one's own practice and research, and also to capitalize on it. But at least do so without the pretense that what you're guarding is some earth-shattering secret. People have delved into these things, researched and learned before, these "elders" are not the first nor the last to do that.

Recent events in the Conjure and the Witchcraft communities have had me thinking. Between the greedy, psychopathic "elders" of some of these communities and the intense culture warriors who turn practical magic into something about culture and finding yourself (and leaving out a lot of focus on results), for me it gives rise to a question: Is this really the price one has to pay to learn practical, effective sorcery? In modern day, that answer is no in most cases because of the sheer amount of info available online for free. But let's be real, learning magic *only* from the internet is a really half-assed way of learning it, and in my experience almost never results in a solid practitioner, in no small part thanks to the twisted, watered-down bullshit that dominates. Instead you get people who go on forums asking for handout info ("how i burn candle i very intrsteded i don't kno spelling nd grmmr") without doing their own research. Maybe because of laziness, or not knowing where to turn, or because they don't like to read for whatever reason. They will learn some of the shittiest theory (like only doing magic if it isn't for personal gain, the "Universal Threefold Law" that's total bullshit and in no way universal, results not being important, magic being all psychological, etc), and consequently end up being the most annoying, lowest common denominator.

Of course, writing that, I know I'm going to offend someone who has learned mostly from the intarwebz. But honestly, if I cared about every other person's opinion on the internet, especial if they're magical practitioners, I'd never write, so fuck it.

In a way, I see it as that usual suppression of magic, but through the guise of concern over culture and finding one's roots. I guess I just think that practical magic, while it can help, isn't necessarily the best way to get in touch with your origins, lineage, ancestry, or whatever else one uses to justify their own existence in this world.

If you feel you need to connect with your cultural roots, get into the culture, interact with the communities. Do all that, by all means. But it's not like you have to base your magical practice on that alone. Use it to work your will in the world and help shape your life into what you want it to be. THAT is where magic is strong.