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 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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Short Rant About Karma

As a magical practitioner, I hate when people "warn" me about karma. What I hate even more is when a friend feels the need to turn to the magical arts to help herself out, and these bozos can only see fit to give her such a "warning". As if doing nothing with such a tool is the better way to go. I have a hard time taking individuals like that seriously in regard to the magical arts.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Wild Delano Appears

In the words of Granny Weatherwax, "I aten't dead!"

But holy shitsnacks and cracker's I've been busy!

Today I received an email from a FAN of mine. Srsly, I didn't know I had fans! LOL Do you know what this means???


But in a serious light, it was an amazing email to receive, and I'll be responding to this person when I...well, frankly, when I have the words. You know who you are, and I want to thank you for such an amazing message.

And that message also made me realize...I kind of dipped off the radar for a while! Looking back, I haven't blogged, I've barely touched my twitter account (until maybe 24 hours ago), and I didn't even think about any forums I'm on until earlier last week.

Basically, a lot of things started happening a while back. Not bad, not good, just very very busy. Most of that month was involved in something from my job that left me working long hours and coming home pushing the boundaries of exhaustion (both physical and mental). In addition to that, I've been focusing on a few goals of mine at the mundane level while planning some magical strategies for them as well. And on top of all that, I ended up overextending myself when it came to social engagements.

So, for the past couple of weeks, I've been working towards restoring some kind of normalcy in life. And even with the little dead/busy period I've found myself in, synchronous happenings have been coming along that have been calling me back into working toward a lot more magical activity. And I've listened!

I don't know how much new stuff I will be posting in the next week or two, dear readers, but I'm definitely getting back in the groove!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

R.I.P. - Donald Michael Kraig

Many in Occultdom found out yesterday that Donald Michael Kraig has died of pancreatic cancer. Honestly, we've been losing too many teachers, in my humble opinion, given the recent death of Eddy Gutierrez.

In a recent post where I listed the most influential books on my path, there were several I left out. Kraig's book 'Modern Magick' was one of them. While I don't practice much of what is in that book anymore, it proved incredibly helpful when I finally quit practicing Wicca. It gave me a new framework to go off of, and a structured set of lessons to help orient me.

In fact, I practiced the brand of ceremonial magic in that book for a good couple years, and there was a good amount of benefit I gained from it. It was one of a few books that really illustrated the need for a daily/regular magical practice.

There are things in 'Modern Magick' that I disagree with and don't like, but a person could do far worse with other books out there.

So, I give thanks to Mr. Kraig for his work. May he rest peacefully, and may he continue in death the good work he did in life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Update 03/18/2014

Hello again, dear readers!

This is just another update on my practices and what I've been up to. So without further ado...

Not a lot has changed here, although there are two areas which I have been a bit more active in.

First, thanks to Jack Faust, I am changing the way I do my sigils. The first few have been much more satisfactory, visually and magically.

Second is thralls. I made another one recently, it worked well, and I'd like to make more.

Finally, I've taken up working through Hands-On Chaos Magic again. For a while I got stuck on the breathing exercises, but I recently trooped through to work on more stuff.

My routine stuff has been unchanged. I still do purification, energy work, offerings, and meditation.

Meanwhile, Polyphanes published a nifty little post about setting a daily spiritual practice that covers a lot. Go check it out!

I'm still reading through some more philosophical things, but have finally got on to Tsultrim Allione's book "Feeding Your Demons". It's a fascinating concept which, along with my current personal work, I hope will give some great results.

I still don't have much going on in the way of spirit work, apart from thralls.

One thing I've finally delved into a bit more is binaural beats. I don't know of any scientific studies to prove or disprove their efficacy, but so far there seems to be something there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Staying Updated

Dear readers, it's been a while and, frankly, I've really missed blogging here in my little nook of the occult Blog-o-Sphere!

Honestly, I haven't had anything I've been prepared to write about. I've mostly been working my regular practices, developing relationships with certain spiritual powers, and determining areas of life that could use some tactical sorcery and action. A lot of it is stuff I've written about before.

But, still, I miss my blog! So, I've taken a page out of Mr. Black's book, and will try to keep a weekly update that covers different angles of my magical practices and any projects I have going on therein.

So without further ado, here is a current synopsis for this week.

A while back I decided that my magical practices, overall, were a bit more focused on straight-out Hoodoo for the practical magic than I'd like. I decided that I want to expand beyond this into territory I've studied before, gain more flexibility in my practices. So I've been revisiting practices from chaos magic, and certain postmodern styles of magic.

Additionally, as a student of Strategic Sorcery, I was given the opportunity a year or so ago to sign up for Jason's next course up from that, Strategic Self. He recently rebooted it, and it is MUCH better than before (even though it wasn't bad even then, it just fizzled). Some of the concepts in there so far, especially regarding offerings and ancestor work, have been outright fascinating.

As far as my regular, routine work, that hasn't changed much. It tends to go something like this:

  1. Purification: In addition to what I mention below with the energy work, I tend to do some other purification work on a regular basis, such as the 9 Breaths Purification from TSS, or smudging, anointing with some kind of water or oil.
  2. Energy Work: A) Unviersal Centering, Pillar & Spheres from TSS; B) Inner/Energetic purification and strengthening work by running appropriate energies through my channels or through certain purificatory meditations.
  3. Offerings: One of the most beneficial practices taught to me by Jason, I offer either energy alone or with some physical support to 3 or 4 categories of spirits to keep a relationship going with the invisible denizens of the world around us. No matter what I offer, I increase by willing it to multiply and take on the forms most desired.
  4. Meditation: While my spiritual guests feast, I meditate. Minimum of 15 minutes, and I either rest my attention on my breath or I use a mantra.

Us magical types, with our books! I've been concentrating on studying things that help encourage more skillful living and becoming a skillful person in general. Lately there has been a good amount of modern philosophy, but also some more ancient stuff. For example, I've been reading the 48 Laws of Power, and the Book of Five Rings. But in addition to that have been more esoteric things like Pema Chodron's “When Things Fall Apart”, Tsultrim Allione's “Feeding Your Demons”, and the new translation of Agrippa's first book of the Occult Philosophy. And let me say, the new translation of Agrippa FUCKING ROCKS!!! Clarity, clarity, clarity! If you haven't gotten it yet, get it!

Aside from my regular offerings, I haven't actually done much work with spirits lately, compared to past activities. Back in Septemeber, yours truly was accepted into the Gentlement for Jupiter, and so I've had my work for that group at least once per month. I was doing that once a week, Jove's influence became too much, and so I scaled it back.

In addition, I've had my newfound work with Hekate! I'll detail more coming up, but suffice to say, I've been delving a bit more into Her sorcery.

Aside from all that, I've been itching to create thralls!

Lastly, I've been finding myself in a funk when it comes to determining areas of life in which to apply sorcery, and I've been confronted by my own weaknesses again. So I'm trying to get the creative juices flowing, and the fires of passionate action stoked. It's a work in progress, as always, but I'm getting there again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

THAT is your best advice???

Blech. I'm not a fan of it when the best advice someone can give on learning a particular type of folk magic is "Find a teacher". Nice.

Specific magico-cultural religions aside, that kind of advice falls short if you live in a geographic area where the local magical, occult, and/or pagan communities have little to offer in that regard, and you can't afford air fare to other parts of the country (including vehicle transportation and lodging) on a regular basis. And local magical shops can fall short too if they only carry the cheapo mass-market tripe (Witch School, Ravenwolf books, etc). Don't even get me started on stores like Barnes & Noble.

And yes, I do speak from experience. Thank the Gods for the internet!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mini-Rant: "Energy"

You know, it would be nice if I could go more than a month or two without hearing or reading someone talking about "negative people" and their fucking "energy" "attacking" or "slapping", "hitting", "stabbing" others or whatnot.

Some people really need to grow some damn balls for a change and realize that, most often, the "energy" they are supposedly feeling is their own reaction to the behavior of others, NOT to some energy the other person is "smacking" them around with. Man up (or, for the ladies, put your Big Girl Panties on) and accept that sometimes other people put you off, instead of redirecting the blame to them and their "energy". It's unfair and lacks courage to make that kind of accusation against others, because they can't prove or disprove your claim that they're "hitting" you with their "energy".

Sometimes I think that, collectively, modern eclectic magical paths need a bit more maturity and less informing from the New Age movement.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Meme...Or, Revealing My Fluffy Roots

There is a meme going around where people are listing their Top 10 Occult Books From Way Back. Basically, you list the books most influential to you, especially when you were starting out. In my case, I’m also going to include a few that were highly influential in the reformation of my magical practice years ago. So without further ado:

1.) “The Necronomicon” by Simon - This is an odd one, because I never got a copy of it until about four or five years ago. What happened was that I went looking for it, found it...but also found #2, couldn’t get both, and decided for some reason to get #2 instead. But if it hadn’t been for my Lovecraft fandom at the time causing me to search for this one, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten into magic.

2.) “Basic Magick” by Phillip Cooper - This was my de facto literary initiation into the practices of magic. The book basically teaches astral temple, sigil, and servitor work, including some secularized Golden Dawn techniques (a version of the Middle Pillar), and cosmo-self-centric/agnostic/psychological belief. It never took off that great for me, but it was my first.

3.) “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham - Yeah, yeah, I know. But, a lot of us started this way. Aside from being one of the first I read, I always liked Cunningham’s philosophy that magic was something that the Magician/Witch themselves do, instead of placing all the focus on spirits.

4.) “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” & “To Stir a Magick Cauldron” by Silver Ravenwolf - *Sigh* Again, I know. What I’m saying is that I used to be a classic fluffy bunny, alright?

Don’t look at me like that...I got better.

But anyway, for years Silver Ravenwolf’s methods were very influential in my practices. While I came to drop her philosophies, I found some of her actual practical magical techniques of value (for example, there was a power-raising technique she taught involving cauldron imagery that I got some excellent results from using). And I’m only counting those two as one, because of reasons. :P

5.) “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” by Raymond Buckland - Ah, Uncle Buck! Not bad for its time and such. I got some value out of this, and actually don’t regret it.

6.) “Making Magick” by Edain McCoy - Another from my Fluffy Files. McCoy taught some basic magical techniques that I based stuff off of for a while, and was my first big intro to divining before working magic. I came to hate it, though, honestly. It sucks, the techniques are confusing, and I didn’t get results from it. Additionally, I would spend HOURS tweaking my spells on the insistence of getting a reading to come up positive for the spell itself. This was the beginning of my current approach of Divination Moderation.

7.) “Summoning Spirits” by Konstantinos - Ok, I know what you’re thinking, and yes I did hit every Llewellyn/Fluffy branch on the way down. So sue me! :P Like I said, I got better. But this book is where I had my first success at summoning a spirit. I conjured the spirit Mepsitahl from it, and she taught me a technique for enhancing spirit vision.

So that covers my first 5 years. At this point I’m going to go into books that helped re-form my spirituality and my magical practices.

8.) “Evolutionary Witchcraft” by T. Thorn Coyle - Even after I gave away all my books on Wicca and Witchcraft, I kept this one, and for good reason. From a spirituality perspective, this one helped re-school me on several things. It brought me to a holistic view of the self, the world, and spirituality in general. Not in a hippy kind of way, but a realistic, grounded way. Magically, it gave me a taste of something outside of the fluffy-dom I had mired myself in. I still highly respect the Feri Tradition.

9.) “Postmodern Magic” by Patrick Dunn - This one was a real game-changer for me. It opened my eyes wide to a world beyond JUST spirits and energy, and into Informational Sorcery, and I still go back and read it now and then.

10.) “The Sorcerer’s Secrets” by Jason Miller - Because OF COURSE I’m going to list this one here! Its an eye-opening look at techniques that fall a little outside of the Western Magical Tradition by doing the same things but with different, simpler techniques. Of the most value is the look at working with magic and mundane circumstance in tandem and weaving the two together into success. Also of value is the illustrative way Jason shows you how you can break down your practice into its parts and get the most out of it. Also? Learning to do offerings in the way he teaches is one of my most-recommended practices. This book is gold.

I wish I could say I carry no shame about any of these, but that’s not the case. Frankly, with items #4 and #6...I wish I had never found them. Ravenwolf’s books teach a shitty, entitled attitude and philosophy that far outweighs the techniques, and McCoy’s book just teaches this ineffective, confused, and frustrating approach to practical magic.

It would have been nice to have some more of the classics, even the absurd ones, given by such folks as Jason, Skyllaros, or Brother Moloch on Facebook. But that’s one of the beauties of modern day! We have access to so many of these, and fewer people are restricted to whatever tripe the local mass-consumer bookstore carries (as I was). Man, if only Amazon had been as awesome in 1999 as they are now...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Hallows of Hekate

In conjunction with All Hallows and the start of Strategic Sorcery cycle 15, Inominandum released a Hekate-based ritual for his students to perform on October 31st, November 1st, or on November 2nd. Given that I recently created a new shrine/altar for Hekate-based sorcery in my home, this seemed like a perfect first ritual to perform at it!

I started it around midnight, November 1st/2nd and finished at about 1:30am. Most of that consisted of chanting a particular Hekatean mantra revealed by Inominandum in his writings, and I found it very powerful. The myrrh incense I burned during the ritual as part of the offerings to Her helped bridge the already thin gulf between here and the Other sides. Sweat poured out of me as I chanted the mantra 1000+ times, the syllables sometimes slipping into momentary glossolalia. Combined with the incense and my fatigue from insufficient sleep the previous night, a heavy gnosis eventually came over me until I was exhausted.

I even had a brief vision of Her during this time, towering over me and holding Her twin torches. There were no words exchanged, just existence and Hekatean inspiration opening within me, with the mantra filling the Sphere of Hekas I had cast as an addition to the ritual, also filling my head till I thought it would burst through my burning eyes.

My thanks to Inominandum for sharing this powerful arcana.

Io Hekate!

Hail, mighty Titaness!