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!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Traveller's Companion

Prior to my trip to Crucible, I wanted to get all my ducks in a row to prepare for what turned out to be a very long and arduous drive from my home in Indianapolis, Indiana to Somerset, New Jersey.

To complicate matters, I decided -during a Mercury retrograde- to have my car serviced. I simply went for an oil change, but the dealership went ahead and rotated the tires, and apparently my car's battery was on the decline. So I got that replaced at a price I really didn't want to spend...but having it potentially fail to start was the worse option.

And then there was the excessive tire noise after I left the dealership (remember the tire rotation)! For various reasons I didn't take the car back immediately, and decided that Murphy's Law would get my middle finger raised at it in my own little hateful salute.

And so I decided to cook up some magic to help me in the trip!

Early on, I decided that I would create a conjure hand to ensure safe travel, and found one in Inominandum's book "Protection & Reversal Magick". It was a simple three-ingredient bag, and divinations confirmed it would be of use. Unfortunately I did not have one of the ingredients, so I substituted with another herb that does the same thing, and this is what I ended up with:

  • Mugwort - For safe travel.
  • Comfrey - Another for safe and secure travel.
  • Oregano - To keep away meddling people and officers of the law.

Normally, in my eclectic style I would draw on extra spiritual forces that are especially good for the purpose of a talisman like this. In this specific case I would work with the forces of Mercury, patron of travellers and flow, but that planet is currently in retrograde. No way was I gonna work with it for this goal at this time given what had already happened with my car!

So I decided to draw on elemental Air by calling on Paralda, instead. Divinations confirmed that this would help with empowering the conjure hand, and so I proceeded with it. I set things up in my ritual space using a Compass round-style zone rite I learned from Strategic Sorcery, and called on Paralda in the name of IAO. I pore-breathed elemental Air energy and proceeded with empowering the conjure hand:

  1. I unlocked the herbs by speaking to their Spirits, coaxing out their Virtues for my goal of safe travel, placing some of each in a red flannel bag I made as I did so.
  2. After this I spat in the bag and then breathed the elemental Air energy into it.
  3. Cinched the bag closed, tied and knotted it three times.
  4. Dangled the bag from its string in between my hands while making the Triangle of Manifestation gesture over incense, bathing the bag in the smoke and chanting the Song of the Serpent for some time.
  5. Verbally spoke it to, telling it to wake up, explaining what I needed it to do, and making sure it understood.
  6. Once I completed that and confirmed it understood, I dressed it with a generous helping of VanVan oil. It was a thirsty little bag! ;-)

I've made a few conjure hands before, but the resulting spirit combined from the herbs was clearer than I've gotten it with the others, and I found it fascinating since so many other occultists have often said that talismans (in which I'm including conjure hands in this category) tend to be a spirit themselves. It was communicative and clear on when it needed to be fed and when it had enough dressing with VanVan oil! I attribute this at least in part to the inclusion of elemental Air energy.

And so far, the results have been very good! During the entire 12-hour drive to Somerset, it was totally uneventful, with the worst activity being having to deal with other drivers. On the way back, there were setbacks involving Pennsylvania traffic authorities because they closed off all the lanes of I-78 West around one small section, and I had to take another highway around and get back on I-78 further on. But the whole time, there were no untoward issues with my car! The check engine light had come on Saturday, but whatever issue caused that didn't give me any trouble at all on the way back. I even had a cop riding my ass at one point while I was speeding...and he just passed me by once I changed lanes!

So, I consider this one a success, dear readers, and I hope if anyone out there puts this to use, that they get results as good as mine!

And of course, at this point I must give a disclaimer that I realize the way I did this conjure hand was pretty eclectic, and there are many people who keep their Hoodoo separate from their other practices. I don't, which has been why the disparate parts of my praxis have come together into this neat little system I practice. And this is also why I call my practice Sorcery instead of Hoodoo, even when dealing with specifically Hoodoo elements. 'Nuff said? ;-)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Magical Folk And Their Damn Altars

Ever since I've been living in my current apartment, I've had this vanity off from my bedroom, tucked away in this nook next to my massive walk-in closet, and I've never used it. Personally, I don't really need a vanity, I don't have a ton of beauty products and styling tools to put on it, and so it mostly sat unused. I mean, I tried to have a small ancestor shrine on it for a time, but it went unused as well. It was sparsely decorated and I just didn't jive with it. So, I cleared it instead of disrespecting my people by giving them a shitty shrine.

Meanwhile, at one point I took this awesome bohemian-looking frame, put my favorite pic of Hekate in it and set the whole thing with some candles by my door. While an appropriate place for a shrine to Her...the table normally got piled with a lot of very NON-Hekatean stuff, so that never got used either.

And so on and so forth with my small shrines to Jupiter/Wealth and my spirit animal; tales of misuse, bad or blahze setup, etc.

Until recently, that is! :-)

So, I found a couple sturdy boxes at a fabric store, and picked out a couple types of brocade. Took it all home, combined it all with a couple hanging lamps I got from Pier 1...and came up my new dual shrines to wealth and to Hekate! Look at this gorgeousness:

Overall, I'm very pleased and already have a positive impression from Hekate. I figured this would be appropriate, as my wealth altar will of course be VERY Jupiter-centric, and Hekate was given an exalted place by Zeus. Plus I love this interplay of blue and red. I plan to drape fabric over the mirror and maybe hang things from it, but haven't done that part yet.

The wealth side will be where I perform all magic related to finances. So far I have placed my Jupiterian spirit bottle containing some of the presence of Hismael, and also my Jupiterian cashbox, a la Inominandum's "The Sorcerer's Secrets". The Hekate side is where I plan on performing any magic that draws upon her aid, especially any necromancy, liminal, protective, or malicious work.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Interesting Experience

I recently posted about my trip to Crucible (which was awesome!), and mentioned a presentation by Rufus Opus which I attended. It was about ecstatic Hermetics, as practiced and taught by the man himself. He ended the presentation with a conjuration of Hermes in his usual Hermetic style.

Now, before I go any further, I'll say that I have not often been around other magicians in the midst of performing any kind of ritual. I've been around plenty of modern neoPagans calling the quarters, aspecting Godforms, etc...and I have picked up impressions and sensations from some of them, very faintly. But otherwise, for the most part, it's always been just little ol' me practicing my woowoo and getting along just fine on my own.

So, when Rufus Opus was including part of the Invocation of the Headless One (The Bornless Rite) as a beginning setup to the conjuration of Hermes, I thought it was interesting, especially to actually witness another magician practicing his/her craft. For context, here is the part in question:


"Subject to me all daimons, so that every daimon, whether heavenly or earthly or subterranean or terrestrial or aquatic, might be obedient to me and every enchantment and scourge which is from God."

This part initially invokes authority into the magician for carrying out the rest of the invocation. As R.O. finished saying this part, I expected to simply keep watching, not feeling the mental, emotional, and spiritual processes going on behind the physical actions. Or, maybe, feeling like he was more powerful than before or something.


It happened fast and didn't last long, but as he finished saying it, I suddenly and powerfully felt pins and needles wash over and through me for a moment or two. My hair felt like it stood on end for a good 5 to 10 seconds, as if the authority granted by that passage radiated outward from R.O. like a force of its own. I certainly didn't expect that!

So yeah. I guess that's kinda what happens when us magicky folk meet!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Crucible 2013

It's been a while, dear readers, and I have a number of things to talk about, but the focus of this post is:


Out of all the conventions I've had the opportunity to go to for the past three years, this is the one I wanted to go to the most. I've heard nothing but good things about it, as well as the group who hosts it. It caters to magicians, witches, sorcerers, and pagans of all stripes. It's a smaller convention, compared to others I have been to, but that does not reflect on its quality. There are several talks and panels that take place during Crucible, covering a lot of ground, topic-wise. Click this link for a listing of topics covered this year, and in previous years. And here is my review of the panels and talks I attended:

  • Panel: What Wizards Do - A discussion moderated by Jason Colwell, touching on such topics as daily work, what daily work consists of, the effect of each panelists True Will on their decisions, how each deals with setbacks and disappointments in life, and why each one went into occultism. Panelists included Maggi Setti, Inominandum, Rufus Opus, Andrieh Vitimus, and one man I only know as Alex. The panelists all had some good input, whether their practices were framed as uncovering one's deep humanity, being in tune with one's body, to simply keeping the proverbial wolf (thanks Morgan Eckstein) at bay.
  • Panel: Maleficent Magic - Admittedly, I really wanted to attend this one. Maybe a bit too much...but still! It was a really good one, very insightful and juicy. Topics covered include practical examples of curses each panelist performed and their effects, when cursing is justified, the effects of repeated cursing on the caster, and then it ended with a final statement on the topic from each panelist. Again, it was moderated by Jason Colwell, and the panelists included Inominandum, Rufus Opus, Andrieh Vitimus, Alex, and Andrei Freeman.
  • Maggi Setti: Love, Sex, and Magick - This panel was about finding ways to cultivate love in one's life, and in the programme booklet it stated "in ways that go way beyond your wildest dreams". I don't think it quite accomplished that, per se, but it was still a good talk by Maggi because I felt it went deeper, a little more "meta" into what love is, the highpoints and pitfalls, and how magic can intersect with it and affect it.
  • Inominandum: Sex Sorcery - This panel was a fucking hoot! I never realized how good a speaker Inominandum is, and I felt this talk was a very good exploration of introductory concepts of sexual sorcery and the use of sex in magic and mysticism. He handled the topic in a good, mature manner and delivered on what was promised in the programme booklet: providing a primer as well as revealing how best to make use of sex in one's sorcery, spirit, and life.
  • Rufus Opus: Nothing But An EYE - This was a very interesting talk by the good Frater, covering an introduction to the ecstatic mysteries and how they relate to Hermes and Hermeticism (HINT: They're not at all mutually exclusive!). Included in this was the effect of the use of alcohol and entheogens in a Hermetic ritual context, which is a topic I find pretty interesting and hope to one day experiment with a little. The presentation was completed with a conjuration of Hermes during which I had a VERY interesting experience, which I'll detail in a later post.
  • Andrieh Vitimus: Beginning Information Sorcery - This topic is one of my current favorites in modern magic. It steps beyond all the narratives which state that magic ONLY works by some vague energy, or ONLY by the action of spirits, or ONLY by the mind or as some confidence-building exercise. Patrick Dunn explores this topic in one of my favorite books on magic, and Mr. Vitimus goes in-depth with it, explaining how one can incorporate Informational sorcery into their practices, and giving examples from his own experience and knowledge. Vitimus offered a lucid exploration that, when applied, can open vistas!

As you can see, I've had nothing but good things to say about each event I attended, and for good reason. There was one event, which I did not attend, which I actually heard nothing good about, and it was a talk on Demonology. As I don't know all the details and wasn't there, I can't say anything about it.

Now, my drive to and from Crucible, frankly, sucked balls and the beautiful landscape seen during the near-endless trek through Pennsylvania was the only thing that made it bearable each way! :-) This, for the record, is not equated with the drivers and traffic authorities of Pennsylvania, however. If I go next year, I'm totally flying, hands-down.

But back to Crucible! I'm very glad I attended, and I want to give a big shout-out and "THANK YOU" to the Omnimancers who hosted it, and all the presenters and folks who made it happen. The hotel was very nice, the staff was great. The restaurant's food was good, and the bar's drinks were strong! In addition, I was graced with the fantastic fortune to meet, talk, and hang out with several of the amazing people I've met through the Occult Blog-o-Sphere, including Pallas Renatus, Polyphanes, Deb, Jow, Rufus Opus, and Inominandum. I think next year I need to kidnap Kalagni The Unlikely Mage, Rachel, and Skyllaros and drag them with me. Kicking, screaming, and in a burlap sack if necessary! ;-)

(or maybe preferably; I don't know their kinks!)

I also met several awesome people for the first time and made some great connections, including Piggy and his owner/wife(?), Knights Edge Leather, Jay, Carmine, Ogre & Arthur from the Omnimancers, Emery, Michael, Ms. Maggi Setti, Andrei Freeman, Jessica Alcorn, and several others. You all ROCK!

It was fantastic and I hope to go next year!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A True Wand of Art


That's really all I can say about the Trithemian wand of art that Polyphanes made. Click that link and go check it out, it is truly a thing of beauty.

Fantastic work, Polyphanes!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ConjureMan Ali on Hubris

A few things on my mind lately have been related to beliefs and pride (hubris), and so ConjureMan Ali's blog post about hubris came at a good time. Go check it out!

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Think Harry Dresden Would Approve

Over at Crossroads of Sorcery, Brother Ash made a thoughtful post on criticism of one's path and the importance of one's results in practical magic. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pre-Coffee Morning Thoughts: Life-Wrecking Initiations

I'm not a morning person.

Especially on the weekdays.

On such mornings, my general level of goodwill towards my fellow man is directly proportional to the amount of coffee I've had. Right now, I've barely started on my 20+ ounces.

And I was just thinking about that big ole' wank-a-thon favored by most modern occultists and traditional Wiccans, ATR's, etc: Initiations!

Ah, yes...initiations.

See, every now and then the discussion about what initiations actually do comes up. Somewhere in there, mention is made of lives that were shaken up, and sometimes even wrecked, after whatever initiations various practitioners have gone through. And normally, in the same conversation, someone says that it swept away the old to make way for something new and better.

What if they're just deluding themselves? What if that's just a cheap cop-out, and their life before the initiation was just as good (or maybe even better) than their life after the initiation had done its thing? What if initiations don't actually do that and they're ascribing things to them that they shouldn't?

I dunno, I'm just musing. Mostly to keep my urge to go Office Space on some computers down.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Arising Out Of The Chaos

Skyllaros, over at Crossroads Companion, made a post where he described being paralyzed by indecision regarding his magical practices. His post, along with his mention of an older one by The Unlikely Mage, has come along at a time when I've been thinking a lot about my current practices. I've been exploring the Stuff I Do, trying to figure out more why's and wherewithals than previously, and where I want to take it all. With that in mind, I thought I would make this little write-up about what influences make up my magical practices overall. While folks who disdain eclecticism would shudder, all the disparate elements have come together to make a surprisingly solid whole:

  • Cosmology: This is loosely Neoplatonic, influenced heavily by Strategic Sorcery and modified with a little animism and some panpsychism. What this basically spells out is multiple levels of reality and planes of existence, behind all of which is an underlying current with a consciousness of its own. This consciousness is so vast and not particularly human that it cannot be truly grasped by a mortal mind.
  • Taxonomy of Spirits/Beings: Largely drawn from Strategic Sorcery with some Hermeticism thrown in. Like many of my own beliefs, this is loose and makes room for all Gods, spirits, angels, demons, and more. Their classifications have more to do with their overall nature, and the way they relate to humankind, than with separations based on religion.
  • Offerings: Hand-in-Hand with the taxonomy of spirits I use, offering is a major part of my practice, and is drawn squarely from Strategic Sorcery, which in turn is often informed by Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Ritual Practices: Largely drawn from Strategic Sorcery and from Hermetics, there is also an element of Witchcraft involved. There is structure and form to my rituals, and a certain process...but not the same high structure and frequent vibration of names as you see in forms of High Magic. Not to say that I never intone or vibrate anything; it's just not quite as frequent (or loud, for that matter). When it comes to banishing, circles, quarters, etc...that's where this gets unique. Drawing from Strategic Sorcery, I don't consider it "banishing" or "creating sacred space"; I consider it Zoning. Granted, the Zone rites and practices I use often resemble common circle, quarter, banishing, and exorcism rites, the different is in the process and attitude toward it.
  • Theurgy: There is an element of what one could call Theurgy (vulgar/idiot term being "High" Magic) in my practices, and these largely come from Hermetics and from Buddhism. The latter is from my meditation and offering practices, and the former is in the Rufus Opus-style Planetary Initiations and Gates rituals I practice, as well as the involvement of my Higher Genius, and eventual pursuit of my Holy Guardian Angel.
  • Thaumaturgy: The practical magic I do, on the other hand, comes from a combination of Strategic Sorcery, Hermetics, and Conjure. Strategic Sorcery influences the models I use as a basis for spellwork (spirits, energy, information, mind, etc). In short, I use all of them to one degree or another, depending on the working involved. Strategic Sorcery is also joined up with Conjure and Hermetics for my actual spellworking techniques. Between the two, Conjure inspires more of my spellwork than just straight Hermetics do, especially in regard to materials used in magic, their creation and use. And as with my ritual practices, there is often an element of Witchcraft in my spellwork. But also, Thaumaturgy is, more than any other aspect of my Sorcery, an area where I'm the most open to experiment and get really flipped-out creative! Finally, in keeping with Strategic Sorcery, there is a defined difference between Temple Magic and Field Magic.
  • Divination as Information Gathering: Common wisdom among the modern magical crowds is to perform divination before any given working to make sure it will work in your favor. By itself, I have numerous problems with this, and have repeatedly debunked it for myself. But divination as a tool to gather information that will help make the best choices? I'm all for that! Yes, there is a fine line there, but there is a distinction. And spirits can be useful too! They can provide information you didn't have before, and while their feedback should always be tested against reality, I don't discount their input.
  • Non-Reliance On One Model: I don't explain my views on magic, and my practices, through the topic of energy. I say the same with spirits. I vehemently deny that magic is just a mind-trick to build confidence, although I agree the mind does play a role in magic's process. In short, I avoid sticking to one single model of how these things work, because in my opinion each and every one leaves huge gaping holes. So I use them all! I work with some energy, call on my spirits to help out as needed, access the deeper levels of my mind and use them as a springboard for my magic, I work with the informational levels of reality (seriously, I LOVE Patrick Dunn's take on this in Postmodern Magic) and work with symbols, and maybe more! I know I mentioned this with thaumaturgy, but what I'm saying is don't limit yourself!

Overall, I would say that my practices are drawn from four main things:

Strategic Sorcery as taught by Jason Miller
Hermeticism/Neoplatonism, especially as taught by Rufus Opus
Hoodoo/Conjure, from a variety of sources
Informational/Postmodern approaches by folks like Patrick Dunn

Meshed in there, running through those four, are Witchcraft and Chaos Magic. They're spread out enough to where I didn't list them as their own items, but their presence is definitely there, for example, in my use of a Compass Round, loose format, sigil magic, and general manipulation of symbols and of on-the-fly field magic.

Overall this has been a very interesting exercise, it's nice to have this stuff down to refer back to! Hopefully this will get my readers thinking about where they draw their inspiration from, and let it help them define where to go from here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cursing The Critic: A Follow-Up

Yesterday when I posted about the self-curse I performed to help shut my Inner Critic up, I neglected to mention one concern I had about doing so.

My concern is that some folks, especially those newer to the magical arts and occultism, will take my post as a recommendation that they give such a thing a try.


In my situation, there are certain differences to take into account, most importantly these:

  1. For the past two years I have been seeing a clinical psychologist on a regular basis.
  2. In supplement to my therapist visits, I am currently working through a book on self-esteem, and have been working with the material in a workbook of cognitive-behavioral therapy, as needed, for two years. All by people who have PHD's in psychology. 
  3. I have regularly practiced meditation for at least two years now.

See, I've been dealing with non-clinical depression for, at this point, over half my lifetime. Magic can help with these things, but in my opinion it does not make for good psychology and therapy by itself. There are 'scientific' occultists and Scientific Illuminists who would argue, but this has been my experience: Compared to a clinical therapist who knows their shit, magic just isn't as good. And while it didn't take long for me to decide on doing that curse, I did take a lot of things into consideration.

Keep in mind, I've been under a crossed condition gone nasty, and it was at least half by my hand. It helped bring me to one of the lowest (if not THE lowest) points in my life, so as you can imagine, there's no way I would willingly or wittingly go back to that. So when I levy a curse at even one part of me, you can be rest assured I've assessed the nature of the risk and the likelihood of it bleeding out to bring the rest of my Sphere down.

And finally, when I performed the interplanetary call for Mercury of Saturn, I didn't go all out with it. I didn't work up a lot of power to throw into it, and I didn't call on any extra spirits to assist. I let the call stand as it was, using the forces of Mercury and Saturn that were evoked.

So if you're newER(or -ish) to all this, don't do this. Save it for when you get more experience with magic and especially with meditation. Seriously, if you're considering doing this and you've never practiced meditation, quit being an idiot and forget about it!

If you are experienced and have cultivated self-awareness from meditation, just be careful. That's all I'm saying. ;-)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cursing the Critic

Hello, dear readers!

As I posted a while back, Jason released his new eBook, "Advanced Planetary Magic", and shortly after this, he started a Facebook group for experimenting with the material in the book. Dubbing it "The Crying of Calls 49", the gist of the experiment is to recite one of the calls each day for 49 days, by the end of which one would have gone through all of them.

Each week of the experiment has focused on one of the planets. For example, on the week of Mercury, we worked the Mercury of Luna call on Monday, the Mercury of Mars call on Tuesday, etc.

Now, some of the calls are outright curses. Some folks in the group had misgivings about performing these particular calls, especially the ones who either had a moral objection, or didn't have a specific opponent in mind. The latter was the case with me. Don't get me wrong: there are a few people who I would gladly lay a whopper on...but unfortunately the first one to spring to mind moved out of state, and my fear is that cursing this person would wind up causing them to move back. Otherwise, I have a personal link that would allow me to hit them HARD.

Just the other day, Jason was on Deeper Down The Rabbit Hole, talking to Andrieh Vitimus and Jason Cowell about the eBook, and the concept of self-cursing! What follows is my write up of an effective example of such self-cursing using the calls in Advanced Planetary Magic. I had tried to mention it in chat during the show, but there were technical issues. At Jason's urging, here's my write up of it (and yes, I give Jason Miller permission to copy the below write-up to his blog, if he wishes):

Cursing the Critic

When the day came to do the Mercury of Saturn call, I was trying to figure out what to do. Should I go ahead and curse one of the people I have in mind anyway, despite my misgivings of it possibly bringing them back into my life? Should I put the call out as a general strike against anyone who opposes me? Hmmm...well, Jason ended up answering this in a blog post where he discusses a range of different types of opposers. Specifically, this quote caught my eye:

"Secret Opposers are from within your own mind/energy/body. When you stop thinking of yourself as a solid and integral unit you and realize that you are a collection of aggregate parts you realize that you can attack certain forces within you as if they were spirits. The ancients knew this and would bind the natal kakodaemon. You can aim this call at a specific habit that you want to conquer."

Of course, targeting one such Secret Opposer would entail basically cursing oneself!

Not to get too personal, but that same week I had started working on some self-esteem issues, and had been introduced to the concept of the Inner Critic. For the past couple of days, I had been working through a therapy exercise wherein you "listen" for feedback from the critic and make note of it. In the first day, you simply count the instances, and at the end of the day, I had counted over 30! Keep in mind, that was just what I was able to catch!

The purpose for the Mercury of Saturn call is to confound the communications of your target and to bind their movement. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to target my Inner Critic, because frankly after a lifetime of it, it has really worn thin.

So, I did my usual prep for the call and recited it. While doing so, with the forces of Mercury and Saturn spiritually swirling around me, I focused it all inward, homing in on "where" the "voice" of my Inner Critic normally came from. I can't really explain how, but I found my Critic, and sent the curse straight at it. Immediately afterward, I felt like I had lashed out at myself of course. It was like, on a deep level, I was somehow stunned or shocked. The rest of me went about my day.

And throughout the next week and a half, I noticed something else: My Inner Critic was still there, and it was still trying to fire criticism after criticism at me...but it was like it couldn't get anything coherent to come out! I would liken it to someone feebly outright saying, "Well, general pitiful and ineffectual insult!" Or like the character of Ricky Gervais in the movie Stardust, after being cursed to only be able to utter chicken and monkey sounds. It would open it's little mental mouth, and nothing but meaningless static would come out.

Eventually, it recovered a little, but even now its criticisms are fewer. Needless to  say, I'm impressed. Those initial days without constantly being burdened by the Inner Critic were cool.

Thanks again to Jason for publishing "Advanced Planetary Magic" and for his continuing contributions to the Arcane Arts! :-)

EDIT: Also, if you're considering doing something like this, go read my follow-up post first!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Something Different

I have a confession, and honestly, after 15+ years of studying/practicing magic, it does makes me a little uncomfortable to admit this.

...I've never created a thrall (aka servitor, fetch, artificial spirit, etc).  :::hanging head in shame:::

You would think, after so much exposure to modern magic, and especially Chaos Magic(k), that I would have created one and made use of it at least once out of sheer chance. But, you'd be wrong. It's one of those things that I've always wanted to do, but as with many things in this rehabilitation of my magical practices, I never got past all the cautions and horror stories and the implications of others. It always seemed volatile, even dangerous. And even after I started getting past some of that bunk, I only wanted to create a thrall for long-term goals. While that's totally valid, I still got wrapped up in planning a thrall and ruminating over it, what it will do, and how it will be destroyed when it's purpose was accomplished.

In other words, I never got to the part of doing it, creating one.

But all of that changed last night!

I've been reading back through Patrick Dunn's "Postmodern Magic", and hadn't even got to the chapter on artificial spirits, when his writing simply inspired me. There's a problem I've had lately that has been difficult to overcome. It's one that, while it isn't a big detriment to me right now, it could be in the future. So, taking note from Jason's Strategic Sorcery lesson on atrificial spirits, I created a simple one out of a ball of energy. After giving it's purpose I instructed that it would disperse into the ether and cease to exist once its goal was accomplished. With that, I sent it off.

And at this point, the part of the issue I created the thrall for has been accomplished. The funny thing is, when it was complete, I got this sense of the thrall near me before it kind of "glimmered" away into nothing.

This was very refreshing for me, and has given me more drive to experiment further.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

13 Reasons

Readers, I'd like to share something with you that I found on Brother Ash's blog. It's something that hits home in light of recent times in my life (and practice). To the left you'll find the 13 Reasons You're Not As Successful As you Should Be!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mulling Over Some Things

I've been mulling some things over lately, trying to determine what my opinion is on a number of topics while at the same time trying to make those opinions balanced. Part of this relates to the original purpose of this blog (to detail my journey from ineffective to effective magical practices).

Basically, I'm saying that my past interactions with the occult, magical, and otherwise Pagan communities has often left me wanting, and these things have often left impressions on me that were...unhealthy...for magical practice. In fact, were it not for folks I've met online (and you know who you are), I could replace 'often' with 'always' in that last sentence.

See...I have certain views on magic that frequently portray it as one of many means of personal liberty and sovereignty. These are things I value in my own life, and in regard to magic, I detest it when others try to put shackles and chains on magic and the practice thereof.

Then again, my view tends to be, admittedly, slightly myopic in relation to magic and society as a collective. And I've come to believe that, to an extent, magic is often incompatible with society (given that society tends to forbid the use of magic on an official basis).

Honestly, I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but my original point is to say that I'm considering a series of posts where I explore my view on a variety of topics, such as:

  • The growing trend of anti-magical sentiment in modern neoPaganism and Pagan Reconstructionist religions.
  • The issue of "High" Magic(k) vs. Practical Magic (because fuck that 'High' and 'Low' bullshit; there's your preview of my opinion on it).
  • Paganism vs. The Gods (I'll let you wonder about that for now).
  • Hoodoo, Conjure, and ATR's vs. neoPaganism and Eclecticism.
  • Traditionitis (I kind of coined that term last night, and I'm gonna leave you guessing for now)
  • The Westernized version of Karma.
  • "Energy" (I have some serious demons to exorcise about this one).
  • Being politically/socially Humanist but personally/spiritually Pagan/pantheist/panpsychist/etc.
  • The value of silence in magical practice (inspired by Miss Maya).

With those listed, I will say that I'm only considering the posts about these for now. At this time, I have nothing typed up.

How about you, readers? Any interest in these topics?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Advanced Planetary Magic" Experiment - Sol of Luna

As per my previous post about Jason Miller's "Advanced Planetary Magic", I had my first experiment with one of the calls last night.

In the book, the calls are explorations of the forces of the planets paired together in various combinations. They're named after the planetary day and the planetary hour in which they are to be performed. Thus, you have calls for "Mars of Saturn", and "Venus of Mercury".

The call I performed last night is for Sol of Luna, performed during a Solar planetary hour on a Monday. This particular call, like many of the ones for Luna, affects one's mind and inner psyche. In this case, the call is for re-establishing one's internal balance and mental-emotional equilibrium. So, at the appropriate time last night, I set about performing  the call.

Here's how I did it:

  1. I started out doing my usual centering and connecting routine. For me, this meant establishing the Pillar and performing the Universal Centering, both from TSS. If you're not familiar, you could do the Qabalistic Cross portion of the LBRP.
  2. Next I cleared out the area around me, after giving offering to the surrounding spirits. I normally do the practice of a Zone Offering taught by Jason in Strategic Sorcery, as well as a type of banishment I learned from him. Again, if you're not familiar, the rest of the LBRP could do in a pinch.
  3. Next I performed Jason's version of the rite of Calling the Sevenths to Induce Equilibrium from the Greek Magical Papyri, called the Heptasphere. However, I performed it visualizing the seals from "Advanced Planetary Magic".
  4. With that done, I recited the call three times.

The results I got were pretty interesting so far. Shortly after performing the call, I began to feel a sense of personal balance, quiet confidence, and serenity that I normally only get after a good meditation session. So far, the effect stayed with me all last night and up to the writing of this blog post.

So far I'm impressed, and I think I'm going to perform this call regularly every Monday, as it's been helpful and I want to see how well the results repeat.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to further experimentation with the other calls, especially Venus of Luna! ;-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: 'Advanced Planetary Magic' by Jason Miller

When I first became familiar with Jason Miller's writings, one thing that impressed me was his methodology for working with the planetary forces. In 'The Sorcerer's Secrets' he included a few of the special seals revealed to him and artist friend Matthew Brownlee, and then I obtained the rest from him through the Strategic Sorcery course.

I always found the seals beautiful and rich, and I always felt a sense of power from them. And yet, thorough discussion of the seals and ways to use them was short in the course, and especially in the book. For years, Jason has dropped hints that he was working on a chapbook about his method of working with the planets, including further discussion on the seals.

So this week, when Jason announced that the chapbook was finished and up for sale, I was excited and threw my money at it like a total fanboy!

At 62 pages, 'Advanced Planetary Magic' is a short read. However, consistent with Jason's style in the Strategic Sorcery lessons, it is more information dense with little, if any, filler. The book assumes a certain level of knowledge about planetary magic in the Western esoteric traditions, and in the introduction, Jason covers the points that one is assumed to already know. Then, Jason sets out the three main aspects of his system of planetary magic the book has been written about, summarized as:

  • The use of the Greek vowels in planetary magic.
  • The seven planetary seals revealed to him and Matthew Brownlee.
  • 49 interplanetary calls made to combine forces and provide more nuanced results.

With these three things in mind, along with the claims he made in his announcement, I read through the book. One big complaint I saw in reviews of 'The Sorcerer's Secrets' was about spelling, grammar, and editing errors. With 'Advanced Planetary Magic', so far there seem to be a lot fewer of these mistakes. For being self-published, the book has a feel that is well put-together, and I like that.

Rather than go through each chapter and detail good and bad points, I'm going to analyze the book in comparison to the list of what's covered that was given in the release announcement.

"How the Greek Vowels act as seed syllables of the planets, and four possible arrangements for working with them."

At first I didn't see how there were four arrangements, but then I realized there were two methods of arrangement presented, along with a descending and ascending order for each, thus making four arrangements. One of my favorite things about his exploration of the vowels was the way he presents different arrangements for different purposes, for example using one arrangement for magical results, another one for mystical purposes, etc.

"A full explanation of the seven Strategic Planetary Seals that have been introduced in my books and courses."

On this, Jason delivers. In chapter 3 he fleshes out the details of the seals, including his interpretation of the form of each seal, a review of that planet's powers, and even a breakdown of how each one can be used across such categories as "Financial", "Love", Wrath", and more. This portion shone, and really helps give depth to the seals.

"Methods for empowering and healing the body with planetary force."

Initially, I felt the book was just a tad lighter on this than I expected, but since then I've changed my mind about that. With each planetary seal description, he includes a section on dedicated to health matters in the categories exploring that force's versatility. Further on, after the 7 seals, he gives an example of how to apply the seals to various bodily afflictions.

"Methods of optimizing planetary influences at any given time."

Jason goes into the planetary hours and days, and talks about that in relation to combining planetary influences in one's workings. In chapter 3, though, he also reveals his version of the now-classic "Calling of the Sevenths" ritual from the Greek Magical Papyri. Previously, this was only revealed in the Strategic Sorcery course, so I have previously gotten much use out of it and can vouch for its effectiveness in making the most out of the planets at any given time.

(EDIT 06/22/2013)
With that said, I do wish Jason would have also included the "Abramelin" way of timing with the planets. That is, if the planet is above the horizon, it is that planetary day; if the planet is directly overhead, it is that planetary hour.

"The 49 Interplanetary Calls – short invocations and spells that fully explore the planetary combinations to achieve more nuanced and powerful results."

These are fascinating, and in my opinion they make up their own grimoire of independent spells. In addition, they are an excellent example of the nuanced, yet easy-to-use approach to planetary magic embodied in this book. To say I'm looking forward to trying these babies out is an understatement!

"Audio files of me reading the 49 calls."

I thought these were done well. Jason's voice was clear, he enunciated the calls well, and the recordings contained no static or interference that I could discern.

This book and the recordings were worth the price, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring planetary magic. Jason has put out another gem that is understandable and easy to follow, more substance, and less filler!

NOTE: This review is of the book itself, the content and writing. I will be posting further reviews of the tech given in the book as I do them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

REPOST: Teflon Magic

Today I read a good post by Mr. Balthazar over at Conjure Gnosis regarding those times where you work magic, and it seems like it's working...but then it doesn't. The results just don't stick. Balthazar mentions they can be nice, even inspiring...which I understand, but I have normally found them frustrating because of the lack of final result. I guess that's the pragmatist in me!

But anyway, it's a good post, with some excellent pointers on how to deal with Teflon Magic:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Road Opener Comment Response

Hello, dear readers! It's been a while.

I was recently surprised to find that several other magical practitioners I know have found themselves in a dead period, much like I have been in. Frankly, this has gotten really bothersome, so I've decided try to come out of whatever rock I've found myself under.

To start out, I'd like to explore something brought up in a comment on my previous blogpost, where I detailed a Road Opening working I did in regard to my fitness goals. Here is the original comment, made by an anonymous poster:

Only one thing, Ocean, the road opener magic serves only in cases where the barrier is artificial, not when it is natural.
To win the lottery there are innumerable obstacles, if you could magically remove them, anyone would be able to win.
If your chart is written that you will be poor, then open the roads enough to change fate, but this is not possible. There is an old Spanish saying about: "what nature does not give, Salamanca does not provide".
If it is weight loss, and laziness is an artificial barrier, suppose someone is causing magically, it would remove this obstacle, but if laziness is artificial all work to open the roads are going to fail. It is good to understand this and not waste time and go for something that, for example, strengthen the will.

This was an interesting comment because it has helped me flesh out my thoughts regarding the topic of Road Opening work. With that said, I respectfully disagree with most of it.

First is the issue of obstacles. I don't see as much of a difference between natural and artificial obstacles as the commenter does, because there are certain points where it becomes hard, if not impossible, to tell the difference between the two. I would be more apt to define internal and external obstacles. Going by this, I agree with the commenter to an extent that internal obstacles can only be affected so much by Road Opening work. External obstacles are another matter, given that you're dealing with so many factors.

But I can't bring myself to agree with two examples he (I'm using 'he' for convenience; I don't know the commenter's gender) gives of what I would call external obstacles.

I don't think the lottery (specifically the jackpot) is a good example because you're dealing with the active wills and wishing of probably millions of people, and probabilities that are abysmal for actually winning the pot. Magic can, at best, increase your chances a little bit, but they'll still be abysmal even with that.

I'm assuming that the commenter refers to one's astrological chart after that, which I also disagree with, but that's because I'm of the belief that astrology inclines, but does not compel. The skeptic community alone has gone a long way toward debunking the deterministic view of astrology, and as a magical practitioner, I myself cannot hold that view. Otherwise, I don't see any reason to practice magic; if it's all fated by the stars, why bother? Besides, even in astrologically-based magic, there are ways of compensating for weakpoints in one's chart through talismans and work with spirits.

After that point, the commenter hits on something pretty important, given the topic I worked my Road Opening spell on: laziness. In my case, laziness has always been an issue, and it definitely can be considered an internal obstacle. This segue's into habits and the practice of changing them, which is not something Road Opening work can completely help with. But to be clear: the Road Opening spell was not directed at my own laziness.

But then again, it was never going to be the one and only working I did toward my fitness goals. I...have...a...plan...(yikes).

But going back to the Road Opening working itself. At the time I performed it, my frustrations were at an all-time high about the topic. At 400+lbs, I was facing an almost daily barrage of conflicting messages both from well-meaning people who espoused one side or another of the weight debate, had little support from my friends in general (some of whom actively encouraged me to keep my weight or gain more in the past, but then started losing weight themselves). I found I could not talk to ANYONE about it without being on the receiving end of fad diet or body acceptance preaching, and being treated like I knew nothing about the body and the way weight loss works. And even at times when I would head to the gym, the most random and fucked up things would happen to where, by the time I arrived, I was in fear of my personal safety.

It was THAT bad.

At the very least, I figured the few hours it would take me to cast the Road Opener wouldn't hurt in the long run.

And in the end, the proof is in the proverbial pudding. The spell was fueled by a 7-day vigil candle. Halfway through its burn, I received omens of success in the work. At the same time, the dissenting voices and opinions all suddenly died off (without me having to cut folks out of my life), information fell into place that helped me get better results from my workouts and eating, and I suddenly found a core support group. Next thing I knew, I had lost over 5lbs in about 2-3 weeks. In short, I found my obstacles diminishing and clearing away.

As I mentioned, the Road Opener spell isn't the only working that will be done toward my fitness goals. There are going to be many others over a long time, hitting many angles, because the goal itself is long-term and multi-faceted. Dealing with the obstacles was simply the first step.

Finally, I want to express a "Thank You" to the commenter, whoever you are, for the opportunity to address this.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fitness - Road Opening, part 2

In my last couple of posts, I talked about my fitness goal, where I am with it, and where I want to be. I also described some of the issues and obstacles related to this. The specific magical work that I decided on was a road opening candle working. Simple enough.

Before doing this working, there were some things to consider. First, in Gordon's post on Road Openers, he discusses how road opening work can apply to almost any kind of enchantment. I agree with this notion because road opening helps to remove obstacles and, if you've decided to use magic towards attaining some goal, then one could argue that you are dealing with obstacles. This isn't always the case, and by no means am I making an argument in favor of emergency or last-resort magic. But isn't the point of practical magic to get around and overcome the difficulties and blockages encountered in life?

In Strategic Sorcery, there are macro-enchantments (general, overarching enchantment), and micro-enchantments (spells hitting the many smaller details of the goal). Going by this, road opening would be considered a macro-enchantment because it actually applies to the overall goal. It could be worked as a micro-enchantment by applying it to the smaller details...but I just don't see the use in that because it would be more work when you could just apply it to the overall efforts and move on. These things considered, road opening spells make a fantastic first or second enchantment toward any goal.

With that said, Gordon ends his Road Opener post by outlining how road opening spells can take care of a large chunk of practical enchantment, paraphrased:
  1. Make sure you are able to pursue the goal.
  2. Make sure there are avenues through which you can pursue the goal.
  3. Open the avenues.

With this in mind, I considered my ability to work toward weight loss and came up with the following factors:

  • My health metrics that can impact my ability to exercise (blood pressure, stamina, mobility, etc) are OK.
  • I can currently afford healthier food.
  • I am totally willing to do the hard work and exercise the discipline needed to do this.

What about avenues?

  • I have access to several resources, offline and online, through which I can find accurate and helpful information and knowledge to help me make the right choices.
  • I have a membership to a gym that's basically around the corner from my home.
  • I have miscellaneous stuff that supports my efforts (appropriate gym clothes, a scale to measure progress, tracking tools, etc).

Now, I think it's also important to know the factors stacked against me:

  • The fact that I often suffer depression which can contribute to me neglecting to workout.
  • Issues from my past dealing with people who were either emotionally abusive about the topic of my weight, or were overly enabling of my weight, lending to avoidance of the topic on my part (mostly overcome at this point).
  • Being in social circles where, often, being overweight or obese seems to be considered OK (and in rare cases can even seem to be encouraged, but like I said that's rare).
  • Temptation to overeat and dealing with it when it comes up.

After considering all of this, I performed a divination questioning how beneficial a road-opening spell for fitness would be and received positive signs. With that done, I went about the work.

NOTE: If you've read much of this blog, you'll know my practices are somewhat eclectic and, overall, pretty syncretic. Cultural misappropriation warriors may find many parts of what I describe distasteful. I try to be respectful, but so far this has been my path and it has worked for me.

Ocean Delano's Road Opening Spell for Fitness

The spells I do tend to draw from Hermeticism, Strategic Sorcery, and various forms of folk magic, such as Rootwork. This spell especially derives from the latter. I started by gathering the following:

  • 1 orange 7-day vigil candle
  • Road Opener or VanVan oil
  • Road Opener, VanVan or Frankincense & Myrrh incense
  • Lightly-ground road-opening and clearance herbs such as lemongrass, abre camino, lamon balm, camphor, and others.
  • Road Opener or VanVan bath crystals.
  • A printed label for the candle depicting a winding road and open sky, captioned with the words "Open Roads". The awesome, sexy guys at The Vodou Store sell such labels for cheap, although I made this one myself.
  • Spray adhesive.
  • A pen.

I went with the VanVan products across the board, as it's what I had at the time.


On the day of the working, an hour before sunrise, I fixed a pitcher of VanVan bath using some bath crystals I made, although you could also brew the relevant herbs into a tea and dilute it. I got in the shower, stoppered the tub, drew water from the tap until it was ankle deep, and then poured in the bath infusion. I bathed Hoodoo-style, pouring the water over me 9 times. While doing all of this, I repeated a prayer made from Psalms 16:11, 119:35, 119:105, and 25:4 respectively:

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore; Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein do I delight; Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path; Show me thy ways; teach me thy paths.

In the process I also thought about my goal, where I want to be on it and where I am now, as well as all the obstacles that I knew of. I gathered up a small portion of the used bathwater and, once I let myself air dry, I got dressed and headed to a nearby crossroads off the property of my apartment complex. I dumped the used water toward the east, reciting the prayer again. Then I headed back home without looking back.

The Main Work

Later that day, I began the spell proper. At this point you would do your typical centering and self-empowering exercises. In my case, I began by reciting the Prayer of the Design followed by establishing the Pillar, opening my Spheres, and then performing the Universal Centering (the latter three a la TSS). After this, I created a zone by casting a basic protective circle and calling the four directions using a compass-laying technique taught by Jason in the Strategic Sorcery course.

I cleansed the candle with florida water. Then I made the candle label into a petition paper by writing the following statement of intent on the back of it, in the center so it took a few lines:

Open for me the roads that lead to success in losing weight and improving my physical fitness.

With that written I turned the paper 90-degrees counterclockwise and wrote my name over it 9 times to symbolize my dominance of the situation. After five-spotting it with the oil (see above on the materials gathered), I sprayed a little adhesive onto it and placed it on the candle, label-side out.

With the petition ready, I prepped the candle itself. Using an awl (you can use that or a toothpick, needle, or other pointy, scribey tool) I inscribed my first and last name into the wax at the top of the candle, then turned the candle 90-degreen counterclockwise and inscribed "open roads" in the wax. Using a spare drillbit I have, I put four holes in the wax, one in each "quarter" of wax created by the name and goal inscription. Using a dropper, I filled each hole with the oil. At this point I will tell you that you don't want to do what I did next: I sprinkled a pinch of VanVan powder over the top of the candle. I'll explain why you should not do this in my next post; instead, sprinkle maybe a pinch of the lightly-ground road-opening herbs over the top of the candle. Or, you know, you could just leave them out.

Alternatively, you could put a bit of the herbs in each hole, then fill them the rest of the way with the oil.

With the candle physically prepared, I built up power using a special mantra taught by Jason called the Song of the Serpent. Alternatively, you could use the above prayer made from multiple psalms to help build power. Once I felt I had built up enough power, I built up just a little more. Then, using will and imagination, I patterned that power with the statement of intent from the petition, also concentrating on the goal and the path to it. After this, I channeled the power into the candle using the Triangle of Manifestation gesture.

Then I laid my hands on either side of the candle and mentally reached out, reciting the following prayer (based on one found here):

By the Logos within me I call upon the forces of the earth and the sky, and mighty Hekate if she is willing, to smooth over any and all difficulties and obstacles which stand in my path. I invoke the divine name IAO, so that my work and effort toward losing bodyfat and attaining better physical fitness will bring forth the results I so earnestly long for. O great hidden powers, hear me for I implore your supreme majesty: send me a message of good luck from divine providence, separate me from danger and lead me from temptation at the precise moment, illumine my way with the light of fortune. O mighty Hekate, open the roads to my success. Forces of the earth and sky, show me the path and light my way. By the power of IAO, it shall be done.

With that, I lit the candle and continued chanting the "psalm prayer" from earlier for a few minutes before releasing the compass and the circle.

There are certain difficulties which occurred that will be covered in my next post, but for the rest of the time the candle was burning, I took a moment once per day to repeat the "psalm prayer" a few times before the candle.

Once it eventually burned out, I peeled off the label, bundled it with other remnants in a paper towel, and discarded them at the crossroads away from my home.

The Results?

Within a few days I received a couple of omens that told me the work was, well...working! Then suddenly, I came across new information regarding the topic of weight loss which pointed to corrections I needed to make in my workouts and dieting. Social support started coming together and detractors became completely silent on the topic. It became easier to go to the gym, and I've gone three times per week consistently for a month. Well, except for two weeks where I went twice...but ended up doing hard, physically exerting labor on what would have been the third day each of those weeks! The issues are not gone, per se, but it's either like none of it matters, or it just doesn't stick.

And whereas before, I saw no weight loss (even after two weeks)...I've dropped about 5lbs in the last week and a half. :)

So far, I'm calling this one effective!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fitness - Road Opening, part 1

In my last post, I talked about embarking on a fitness goal. Like many people, this is a goal toward which I've worked multiple times...and fell off the wagon multiple times. When I made my post, I was still putting together my full strategy to give myself the highest possible chance of success. I started by sitting down and getting an overall picture of my health, including where I am now with my weight, where I want to be in the end, and where I want to be in the relatively near future.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm morbidly obese. The number of ways in which this negatively affects my life and happiness FAR outweigh any and all excuses for not losing that weight. In my case, the silver lining is that many of my other health metrics (like blood pressure, cholesterol, heart health, physical stamina, strength) are healthy. This puts me at an advantage for weight loss efforts because I can do most exercise without endangering myself, and I can choose the healthier foods I eat and don't have to take on a special diet (read: Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Primal, etc.) if I don't want to. Additionally, I found a gym with cheap membership rates right around the corner from where I live (and I admit I've been a member since July of last year [and yes, I have gone many times]). On top of all that I've lost weight before, so I'm no stranger to it, I have a clue how it works and can roughly do good nutrition.

So I have a lot stacked in my favor...and yet there have been a lot of obstacles to deal with. This has included the usual suspects like willpower, distractions, time management, and maybe others. Many of these are under individual control, but life itself seems to love throwing curveballs at you when you are trying to make a positive change (even if you aren't crossed). But out of all the possible distractions and sources of "sabotage" in weight loss efforts, there is one I expected the least: friends and family.

See, I'm one of those fat guys who grew up with everyone and their sister telling him that he's not fat (I've literally been told the Southpark line "You're not fat, you're just big-boned"), that he's just a "big guy", that he's not "meant" to be "thin" or, even worse, that he would look weird if he lost weight. Enabling behavior and words from well-meaning people have been far more of an obstacle than I ever imagined it would be. If the voices of any enablers are internalized, combined with a person's own struggle with their own willpower, those other voices can be devastating. By no means am I blaming others for my failure to lose weight; honestly, I carry that burden myself!

But if you're like me, these things can join in the giant cacophony of things that get in your way. At the very least, they don't help with preventing excuses. And let's face it: when pursuing a major goal that changes your life...sometimes, having a good support base can make a huge difference! And I should clarify: what I mean by 'support' can be as simple as not voicing discouragement. Given the nature of my in-person social circles (mentioned in my last post), it's been a struggle getting some folks to give me that support (or lack of discouragement).

So in light of all that, I decided to begin the magical side of my weight loss efforts with a Road Opening spell, which will be detailed in my next post!

NOTE: Admittedly, this is a highly sensitive topic. In fact, I was in a Facebook group where me and another guy got into a pretty nasty exchange after I ranted about the influence of friends and family in relation to this. He actually blocked me because of that exchange. I've come to understand his POV on it, so I would like to say: by no means do I blame my friends and family for my failure to lose weight. In the end, that is on me and I take responsibility for it. I do have my own take on the usual statement spoken to help one feel better, and I have my criticisms of such things. But in the end, it's a path I alone must walk. Supports are like people on the sidelines cheering you on, but nothing more.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fitness - A Beginning

Among life's ups and downs, I've recently decided to take on a somewhat large series of goals. These could be considered a combination of self-improvement and external change for the better. The first part that I'm going to concentrate on at this also something that, as part of these goals, I've decided to mostly stop talking about.

Weight loss and fitness has seemingly become one of those topics that you just don't talk about in mixed company, kind of like religion and politics. Among the company that I keep, one cannot talk about weight loss in the same breath one mentiones concerns over attractiveness. In light of this and the hard lessons recently re-learned on the virtues of silence, the topic of fitness is off the table for me in normal conversation. My posts about it to this blog will be solely for magical tracking purposes and examination of magical technique toward such goals, since I normally never see this covered.

My main fitness goal itself is to Improve my physical fitness until my bodyfat percentage is 30% or less, with at least a 5% muscle gain across my whole body. Of course, this consists of multiple component goals, and all of them can be targeted by sorcery.

For example, several of the sub-goals target things like temptations, saboteurs, and even situations in life that arise and can pull me away from my efforts.

A road-opening spell can massively help to tackle several of these. This category of spells, discussed by the amazing Gordon, does several things. It clears and smooths obstacles, cleanses the influence of sabotaging situations and people, and can even provide guidance and turn luck around. For these reasons, that is what I plan on doing first. For the most part I have the working put together, using VanVan products (oil, incense, powder, bath) as a major material component in a 7-day candle spell.

The working is scheduled this Sunday, and I'm looking forward to it. As I go through this list of goals, I will illustrate the steps, both mundane and magical, that I am taking.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Great Work

One of the Occult Blog-o-Sphere's favorite pet topics has come up again: The Great Work.

First, Rufus Opus made a post which, given that this is the internet and everyone misinterprets tone and meaning easier than they breathe, has had some thinking he has lost his mind. "YEYS-ah GOOD PEOPLE, AH HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT-ah, YE ARE ALL GODS-ah, YE ARE ALL KINGS-ah, GO FORTH-ah, and CLAIM THY KINGDOMS-ah!" With a lot of "fuck" and Thelema thrown in. Honestly, I personally never thought he's lost his mind; he's just ecstatic. Considering the changes in life that he has talked about, it's easy to see why.

And then we jump over to Jason, who talked about the Great Work in terms of achievement of full human potential. His post, in comparison to RO's is a breath of fresh air given the more mellow tone and the more sensible message.

And then Frater MC posted, giving his opinion on it which, as he put it, lines up with the Golden Dawn definition of the Great Work, "To Become More Than Human". But he gives caveats to this in the form of explaining how he defines aspects of it.

I'm sure there are others out there who have posted about this that I don't immediately recall, but suffice to say that The Great Work has been showing up left and right on my blog feed lately. Reading through the posts above, as well as any others, I've noticed something:

Each of them boils down to similar things!

Reading through their takes on The Great Work, certain things stand out to me. These are themes that I've seen run through the concept ever since I first became aware of it many moons ago. It's even backed up in a quote by Eliphas Levi:

The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will.

So what does this say to you? To me, it comes down to this...

A. Personal Sovereignty

Your life is your own. You do with it what you will. You are an independent being who, in the end, is responsible for your life. In times of need, you can assist others, and others can assist you; but that is, and should be, your choice. It's not always easy, in fact it can be hard and painful as hell. But maintaining your sovereignty is important.

B. Autonomy

Your life is yours to do with what you will. It is up to you to know what that will is. You have the right to choose what you will do. There are consequences to every choice, however, and personally I believe we are responsible for our decisions in life.

C. Evolution & The Pursuit of Bliss

It is my opinion that existence is not meant to be static. Even in occultism there is a popular reference to the way in which almost all the cells in your body are not ones you were born with, or were there when you were ten years old. Change and evolution are part of existence. The Great Work entails evolution, and combined with the pursuit of happiness, this entails evolving to transcend what you are now by becoming better, more skillful, more aware. There are things about us, things about life, that we don't like and which do not evolve us for the better. We seek to overcome these and make room for bliss.

D. Clarity

I didn't exactly know how to head this part of it, but taking cue from Jason, I've come to see an integral part of the Great Work as the cultivation of clarity. As termed here, however, that clarity is kind of loaded. This refers to clarity of mind, uncovering your will (and Will), and also clarifying your relationship to all things. The assumption here is that the degree of clarity implied would lead to truly seeing things for what they are. Thus, the stuff that is actually meaningless is shown for just that, and your own baggage and assumptions fall away from your relationships and you can value them for themselves instead of for your own insecurities. This also leads to honest analysis of yourself and your life, to see where you wish to evolve next and what you wish to transcend.

As you can see, these all mix and match all over the place, but in the end, I think this sums up what the Great Work is to me. Granted, there is good reason for the 'Work' part of it. It is an ongoing process that, frankly, most people will never truly complete. Frater RO, when he says he has accomplished the Great Work...well, sure he has. He has done it and achieved a degree of it. That's an accomplishment. But has he completed it?

If he says yes, then I call bullshit.

Because, here's the thing. To me, the Great Work is a human construction born from our imperative to always evolve, to always change, and also from our efforts to deal with the problems of existing. It's the same reason that we have the self-help and self-improvement genres of literature and media, and the same reason that practical magic even exists. To actively engage with it on any level is to accelerate its process. For these reasons, the Great Work is the Human Work, and it won't stop until We do.

You can be lazy. You can decide to call it quits and just not improve anything. Doesn't matter: the Great Work will be there, and like it or not, you will evolve and change.

Now, does anyone else hear the countdown to another one of the Occult Blog-o-Sphere's favorite worn-out pet topics? I hear the HGA coming...tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.