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.

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