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.