Friday, October 31, 2008

Cultivating Madness: 02


“The single supreme ritual is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is the raising of the complete man in a vertical straight line. Any deviation from this line tends to become black magic. Any other operation is black magick.”

- Aleister Crowley, Book Four, Part III, Chapter 21.


Magick is a street thing. Magicians must be seen and heard. Crowley’s trickster persona exemplified this, following in the zig-zag path of Cagliostro, Simon Magus and innumerable Shamans and Witches world-wide. A good magician plays to his audience, be it a tribal shaman doing Ifa or a street-corner sorceror [sic] making anti-cop talismans out of tin can lids... If you’re really going to become a jumped-up little megalomaniac you might as well get a few laughs while you’re about it.

- LOON, Apikorsus


The Criminal Roots


The traditional distinction in magick is between thaumaturgy (Greek for “miracle work”) and theurgy (Greek for “Divine work”). While theurgy is seen as more traditionally spiritual, thaumaturgy in it's various forms has been more or less been considered illegal due to the ends the practitioners sought to create.


Between 529 CE and 534 CE, Emperor Justinian I had the Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) written down, which lists amongst it's lengthy sins witchcraft. The passage in question lists “witchcraft,” and notes that it's similar in prior Greek (not Roman) law. This is one of the first formal annotations against magick in the books of law and is especially important because the Greek term for “witch” also could be translated as poisoner. Prior to Justinian's Digests, only malificia and nigromancy were listed as explicitly illegal. Greek law held to proceedings for any magical working against an Emperor or member of the elite and aristocratic community. Included in charges against this form of magick was poisoning.


This was because, in myth and folk lore, poisoning was amongst the arsenal of practical skills of both the witch and street-scum sorcerer. Greek law holds no formal forbidding of the witch in it's right namesake; that's because to the Greeks the witch (not to be conflated, as has been recently, with a simple Priestess) was a mostly mythological being. That's why most witches in Greek literature are of divine descent in some manner. Taking the threat of witchcraft seriously was a bit like saying dogs could talk.


As I've discussed before, the earliest Church recording of stipulations against witchcraft include condemnation for those who believed in it. The Canon Episcopi makes that quite clear:

It is therefore to be publically proclaimed to all that whoever believes in such things, or similar things, loses the Faith, and he who has not the right faith of God is not of God, but of him in whom he believes, that is the devil. For of our Lord it is written, “All things were made by Him.” Whoever therefore believes that anything can be made, or that any creature can be changed to better or worse, or transformed into another species or likeness, except by God Himself who made everything and through whom all things were made, is beyond a doubt an infidel.

Forms of magick, however, that were used by the lower classes in Greece were often strictly outlawed due to their very nature—malificia being chief amongst them. Even simple divination used to discover the date of an Emperor's death could lead to criminal proceedings—as it did in 184 CE when a diviner was caught and charged with treason for just that reason.i


In 850 CE, when the Inquisition first turned it's burning eyes towards the magickal world, they were seeking: “magic mirrors, rings, and phials” which were made to be used in Necromantic or Nigromantic rituals.ii These aren't things that folk practitioners in the hills generally used; they were the markings of the magick of the Grimoires, and the Inquisition knew full well they weren't after hill-billy sorcerers. They were seeking other Clerics, who had formed what at least one author has called a Necromantic Underground.iii

iMorton Smirth, Jesus the Magician

iiMichael D. Baily, From Sorcery to Witchcraft

iiiRichard Kieckhefer, Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer's Manual of the 15th Century

(*sigh* And then I got lost trying to discuss the Daemon in relation to the sorcerer. I'll finish this when I get home. Here's the weekend's tease. I'm off with the girlfriend for the weekend.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What?!

Chaoism is has been having a discussion amongst it's members for the last month or two about the HGA. Recently a "Mr. Epoch Bell" contributed a fairly interesting post. It wasn't very bad overall, and had details I'd personally neglected (including creating the 'magical persona'). That said, this one sentence made me near livid: "Having said all this do know that the HGA is not always benevolent. Despite it's Christo-gnostic title of AgathaDaemon."

The Agathos-Daemon is always, and I can't stress it enough, 100% benevolent. It is always on your side. That's why the term literally means good spirit. Daemon attraction works, in the PGM and elsewhere (you can check Morton Smith's Jesus the Magician and The Demons of Magic if you don't trust me and want a Historian who will back me up) in such a way that any spirit, in theory, could be bound to one's self. Typically, the class of spirit attracted and bound so that the magician could become "as a demigod" or "the son of (a) god" was the Agathos-Daemon.

And it is always a benevolent daemon. Now, in theory, you could argue that "good" could mean anything. Or that "good" only applies to the practitioner; after all, having become one with it (essentially similar to K&C) he could use it to learn how to utterly destroy his enemies. Sure, that's true. He could even - if he wanted to find out what would happen - try and use it to assault his enemies. Greek and Roman magick include such procedures.

But to the practitioner the Agathos-Daemon is utterly benevolent. That doesn't mean it's agreeable at all times. If you don't listen to it, it could decide not to help you. Or it could tell you to get your head checked. But it won't harm you, etc.

Otherwise you just have a daemon you've become bound to.

And if it's malevolent, then you've become bound to a Caco-Daemon. This may sound dogmatic, but there are no ifs, ands, or buts here with the exception of the above. I love my fellow Chaos Magicians, but sometimes they piss me off.

Artists, Familiars, and Helping Hands.


The picture above has nothing and everything to do with the following commentary. :) Banish if it bothers you.

It is, in fact, super-rare that I do this. However, the person in questions beyond cool and could use the exposure. Not that I can generate a lot of exposure. But can I try my damnedest? Yes, yes I can.

Kirsten Brown is an artist and occultist who's works I've appreciated for a long time. In the event anyone out there reading this can afford it, or has a desire for art of a "certain" nature, I can't recommend anyone more highly than I recommend her.

Current works up for grabs:


"Inspirare." 200$ or best offer, 11x14in. stretched canvas, again, UV-sprayed.



"Black Goat of the Woods." 8x16in. stretched canvas, marker and ink, UV-protectant sprayed.

She does do commissions. If you're looking for someone talented and with that certain type of artistic "sight," feel free to drop her a line at "snowandlightning@gmail.com". She also maintains a page on Etsy, and will throw in shipping for things purchased and listed there that are bought directly through her instead.

If you find yourself digging this feel free to pass the information along.

And check out her new blogspot, too!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The occasional irritant.



I've been having this occasional problem. Now, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume the idiot I'm about to discuss doesn't read this journal, since it takes a certain type of moron to irritate me this much. What I'm about to discuss is not a psychic attack. Nor is it a spirit manifestation; I made certain before asking a friend what he thinks. Over the course of the last six weeks I've occasionally had this "weird shit" go down. You see, they seem to be astrally trying to communicate with me. As a retard. On about four occasions, maybe three, I've had my "magical name" (Jack Faust) shoved into my head. Now the first time I assumed someone was in trouble or something and went out of my way to jump astral. I finally get there, and I catch a sight of a fleeing "feminine feeling" form that vanishes. Okay, whatever. Second time, I get "omens" from a certain type of heresy I may be connected to or may not be connected to. Images of the Basalt Tower, black widows everywhere. The second time I'm getting bombarded at a coffee shop. And I thought, until I asked someone else, that I was going nuts. You know. This isn't paranoia-meter, malevolent shit. Just "creepy" or "slightly sinister." A black window crawled across my shoe (it didn't attack me, just crawled over my shoe and kept moving while I watched, then I found four on the porch, then I found one in the garage when I got home and ran the sprinklers). The entire time I'm getting "Jack Faust" repeated infinitely in my head. This time I banish and do a quick, laid back exorcism. Standard shit. It ends. Third time, I get irritated and drop into trance and shout "WHAT?! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!" at the voice. It shuts up. So, if it happens again, I'm banishing with the intent "email me." If they don't get the hint, I'm taking my mentor's suggestion. I swear to god, I'm going to make a talisman, wait till they do it one time after the next (where upon I'll return "Email me" in a rather irritated manner), and I'm going to trap the astral body in said talisman and black box it. I have no idea what that will do to someone, but if they keep up being an idiot they fucking deserve it.

I say this in all seriousness: this shit is annoying. It feels like someone is using certain works I made and thinking about me constantly or obsessively as they do it. Or they're chanting my name before they fall asleep. Or something. It's straight up retarded. And I seriously want to believe anyone that could do it would have the foresight or intelligence to use regular channels for contact. Because there's nothing quite like it that I've ever felt. It isn't an attack. It isn't sinister. It doesn't make me paranoid. It makes me wonder about the intelligence of the individual. Whoever it is, is a genuine, Grade A moron that's either somewhat talented and untrained, or just plain fucking stupid. If I'm somehow wrong and you're the person and reading this and feeling stupid, just fucking email me. I seriously doubt that person is here, though. Something tells me some idiot read shit I wrote for the Sutras or my personal essays back in the day and is being just plain stupid. But holy god is it the most irritating thing I've ever encountered in all my time. I've been pissed at people before, but I've never assumed they were idiots like this before. It's the only thing on this occasion I can assume.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cultivating Madness Redux: 01



Introduction

Some years ago, I wrote a short essay (actually, a series of short to mid-length essays) on the basics of magick that was actually, in retrospect, quite fucking terrible. But people liked it to the degree that to this day I can't pull it off the internet; I still get occasional emails about what I wrote back then, and still marvel at how it seems to have encouraged some people.

Being that I can now express the ideas behind some of the subjects better, and have even more experience in the matters, I've decided to begin the entire process again.

These essays won't make you a magician; but they hopefully will give a series of ideas on the employ of magick, how to “make it work,” and a few tricks to even the odds in the game of life. Being that we mostly begin the game blind-folded and groping, having only the ideas of our peers behind which to try and glimpse the “rules” (which are, as certain Pirates might tell you, more like guide-lines) it seems to me that magick can be like learning to peak out from under the blindfold occasionally to glimpse the rolls of those around you and perhaps find a better handle for the game you're playing.

These essays will cover discussions on the astral plane, spirits and their employ, sigilization techniques and free-form sorcerous technique. Very little, as before, will be said on morals and moral dilemmas stemming from the “karma crisis” that inhabits Neo-Paganism except in the later section on “chains of consequence.”

That said, I might as well address why I don't have much to say about “Karma” and “magick.” The current status of the Neo-Pagan community and it's means to impart (or really, force) moral reflection on beginners to the path is a disservice to most beginners. Worrying about “Karmic feedback” unduly has caused all manner of ridiculousness, and along with it a belief that the universe will “reward” us if we are “good” boys and girls.

“Good,” in this case, implying that we never desire anything for ourselves, never question boundaries or Elders (even if, perhaps, we should) and never take steps to fight for the things we love. This has led to what I call the Karma Crisis, whereupon the Three-Fold Law is assumed to govern all spiritual experience or the Gods sit up in the sky acting a bit like Santa Claus and making detailed notes about the current state of our lives. The magician is traditionally, and especially under the guise of the sorcerer, a dubious being who can either solve problems and cause all manner of wonder and miracles; or he can blight crops, kill with a look, turn friends into enemies and enemies into lovers. Into this domain in the realm of myth do we walk and it is up to every individual to make their own decisions and consider the ramifications of their actions—if any.

In the end, it's every man and woman for themselves. The universe is not going to be any more “kind” to us if we eat only organic foods, become Vegans, move into the wildnerness without power and running water and dismiss civilization altogether; that's a fairy-tale religious myth more in common with the traditionally Patriachal, dogmatic, and tyranical elements of Judeo-Christianity (whereupon God, rather than the universe, decides to give us a “paradise” if we do everything he says regardless of how ridiculous it may sound). It is more honest to make our own decisions and consider the consequences seriously while also noting that in the end no one will be handing out Good-Guy badges to those who do. If you choose to help don't expect anyone to salute you for it. In fact, don't bother to brag about it. If you choose to hinder—well, perhaps there are some consequences there, too. And perhaps you'll find them out when you least expect it.

But magick is not catagorized into 'color' spectrums where the holier you are, the more the universe loves you and decides to have your back. The question of morality is a personal one; not to be enforced by the books one reads, nor should it have a place in a new type of Neo-Pagan dogmatism.

If one chooses to live their life with a Christian, or Islamic or more “Pagan” (authentic or more or less new) moral outlook then so be it and more power to them! It is enforcing our own beliefs on those around us that is a violation of their will, and we should be well aware that the solution is to distance ourselves from those who step beyond boundaries we hold sacred; not to force our thoughts upon them. Very few, indeed, seriously consider violating the most basic rights of man—and those that do... Well, institutions such as the police force exist to govern them. Not the communities we live in.

Aside from that later section, which will hopefully try to decipher some of the reasons certain types of “spells” and “workings” are more prone to backfiring than others, that is all I really have to say on the matter.

Getting Started

All one needs to begin practicing magick is an open mind, a desire to test their spiritual and metaphysical limits, and a spiral-bound notebook or at least a few sheets of paper. Some books and tutorials on 'how to practice' are better than others. They are not, however, strictly necessary. Some of the best magicians of all time started off with nothing more than the pure desire to go forth and find out what was beyond the mindscape of civilization, or rather, what lingered behind it.

The notebook is to chart results. Details matter: the more details, the more you can see what you did wrong and more importantly what you did right later on.

The other “necessary” elements can be learned with time.

Models of Magick

Being that the most common stumbling block, both online and offline, between conversation within the magical and Neo-Pagan communities is simple language it seems fitting to begin by explaining the basic models and outlooks which surround magical practice. What is 'normal' and 'capable' practice in one model might not necessarily exist in another model. As such, one commonly finds comments about what can and can't be done that aren't entirely correct.

Each model holds a distinct set of beliefs about the world within it and holds it to be “true.” This is not, however, a form of “Truth”. It is simply a truism to the model—and the model is a best a rough outline or map. Some diverge heavily from their counter-parts whereas others are extremely similar. The problem, however, isn't the models but discourse between practitioners. The more time and experience one has in a particular model the harder it is to understand the others; especially if their premise seems to invalidate that of one's own model.

The following are the basics of the models of magick, and anecdotes on those I've used. A more detailed description of them can be found here.

The Spirit Model

Quite possibly one of the earliest models of magick out there, this model postulates a seperate and distinct spirit world or Otherworld wherein spirits literally exist with their own lives. Certain individuals, through freak error or genuine trial, can contact and ally these beings.

Typically, ecstatic and controlled (and occasionally uncontrolled) trance, drugs and other such methods are used to aid in facilitating contact.

Commentary:

This is the big part of the meta-model I began practicing with. It's also the reason I had some ill-considered judgments on the Lemegeton that I wrote down, much to Fr. RO's shock, in my “artificial elemental” essay.

The reason being that when I was first beginning, I had an experience with what one might call ignoring the basic rules of thumb. At either 17 or 18 years old I conjured a spirit in a fairly hap-hazard manner. After a friend had asked me to deal with a problem they were having with what was percieved to be a malevolent spirit, I decided to conjure it. So with the ritual aids of incense and trance, I called it up. I used an object it appeared to be bound to, and eschewed the traditional circle... I banished, but only used the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (hereafter LBRP) so astral space wasn't cleared with the Greater Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram (hereafter GBRH). Lacking any protections whatsoever, and considering myself a teenage badass, I about shat my pants when it showed up and scared me shitless. I rapidly warded off space outside where it'd been conjured, and then hid under the sheets of my bed until I finally dealt with it a few days later.

During the process of dealing with said spirit, it demanded a home. So, being a rebellious and anti-Christian teen, I told it it could live at a near-by church. The church in question rapidly vacated and until recently sat empty. Until it was reoccupied and the spirit seems to have fled (or been exorcised), I'd go and visit it sporadically for a chat or two. It actually became a fairly amiable ally after I got over my gut-wrenching fear that this thing is real! The experience, however, also taught me about why certain procedures are used in the West (the circle of art, for example) and to go out and actually investigate what other cultures used when dealing with unknown, possibly malevolent spirits. It certainly impressed the phrase don't call up what you can't put down on me. In retrospect it was less malevolent and more ambiguous. When it had the upper hand, it liked scaring me shitless for trying to play with it. When I enforced my will on it and threatened to exorcise it permanently, it decided to strike a deal. I even got a name and sigil (now lost) to conjure it into my astral temple from it.

The Psychological Model

That magical and mystical experience are filtered through the psyche is occasionally a sore spot for some would-be magicians and mystics; the obvious question of which is which reoccurs all too often, however some practitioners have developed purely psychological foci in regards to their practice and beliefs over the course of the last century. It was not Freud, who's theories hit the world like bombshells, that ripped open the possibility of psychological explanations in magick but Carl Gustav Jung. When Young identified archetypal symbols and the collective storehouse of humanity he more or less threw wide waiting gates through which the mystic and the magician can walk.

The drawback to the psychological model—more than any other model—is that it can't explain why magick works; however, it offers extremely adequate explanations of how it works.

This model postulates that we are all connected through our unconscious to an even greater Collective Unconscious, and that the most potent symbols that can be reached there are often mistaken for gods. (Archetypes aren't the same as gods and it's a subject I plan to come back to later.)

It furthermore addresses a lot of microcosmic, or inner-self, oriented issues. Bad habits can be treated like personal demons and so on.

Here, more than anywhere else, the map is not the territory. Sometimes it isn't even a map.

Commentary

At the onset of the year 2005, I went through a particularly nasty breakup with a girl I'd been very much in love with. Being that I couldn't stand to even talk to women more than platonically for an irrationally long period of time, I decided to investigate the power-base of my aversion and systematically deal with it. Using my astral temple, I jumped into my imagination and began charting dreams for about three weeks, using trance techniques and anchors from Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to trigger lucid dreamstates. Eventually I came across an “entity” that looked and acted like Medusa, and which disliked me quite a bit. I immediately realized that it was an in infernalized, enshadowed version of how I'd begun viewing women—a problem I hadn't really encountered at all since those first few rejections during my early teens. It hasn't bothered again me since it was dealt with.

The Energy Model

In the East, and even some aspects of it in the west, this model is just as old as the spirit model. Whether you call it magickal energy prana, chi, magis or just 'energy' it's all roughly the same idea to some degree. This model postulates that the human life-force (or the life-force that surrounds the human being) can be manipulated in such a way that 'events' and 'changes' can be made to occur.

In the West the twin forces that brought belief in it back were Mesmer's theories of animal magnetism and the late 18th century belief in ether which became conflated with electricity. In fact the word “energy” itself sings of the body electric and makes one think of all sorts of things. Within this model the subtle-body and it's power-spots, often called chakras, are utilized to aid in the changes in both consciousness and the world around them. While the original Vedic discourses on chakras describe them as states of consciousness, the conflation between chakras and energy centers in the body remains strong in Neo-Pagan and western mystical beliefs.

Any interesting side note is the breathing techniques used in many Eastern programs of learning and the latin word for spirit—spiritus—which means “breath”. I won't say much more here, but I suspect that the spirit model and the energy model are not quite (or weren't quite) as dissimilar as some magicians make them out to be initially in both the Occident and the Orient.

Commentary

While experimenting with this model with a female partner, of whom I was romantically engaged with, I became quite adept at activating the root chakra of others remotely and stimulating intense sexual arousal. Unfortunately, a few of my friends were told about it and it became a rather annoying party trick request. While being “the magician” is occasionally cool as a role to play, representing “the guy that can make girls horny” was far more irritating. I never performed the tactic on an unwilling participant, however, on at least one occasion I cranked one of my friends up to the point that they spent the night in a bathroom doing who knows what.

After I stopped using the model regularly in the traditional way that I'd built up I rapidly found that my capacity to influence others with it also diminished, which suggests to me that some of the Chaos Magick staples about belief being critical to magick (and Austin Spare himself agrees in The Logomachy of Zos) is at least more than a little bit correct.

The Meta-Model

Here is where I begin diverging with Fr. UD. The Meta-Model is actually a means of combining the above models so that they “mesh” more or less organically. Sometimes the result is less rather than more, however. Chaos Magick was one of the first systems to suggest that one could use all three models—since the denigration of Truth was largely a result of the 20th century and to some the idea of secret keys to occult Truth was more than a little bit absurd—so long as they were convenient.

The drawback to learning with a meta-model, rather than a strict model, is that the general guidelines of a model are learned over time as one advances. Constantly switching models means that no matter how convenient one needs to be at least somewhat versed in the myths, lore, language and belief of each model. Shoddy research can mean shoddy results, or worse, blatant misfires and wastes of time.

Most Neo-pagans, if not most magicians, use a meta-model and don't quite realize it. But in attempting to fit diverse pieces of technique and theory together the common mistake is that they all work seamlessly together—they don't. You can make them fit, but it means extra research on the part of the practitioner and sometimes a lot of extra practice.

Commentary

I use a meta-model that I'm going to discuss shortly. However, this seems like a good place to quote UD a bit...

“Self evident as the meta-model may seem, in practice many people seem to feel somewhat uncomfortable with its inherent relativism. This is very much the case with beginners in magic. A typical dialogue on the subject might run on the following lines:

“Are there spirits?”
“In the spirit model, yes.”
“And in the energy model?”
“In the energy model there are subtle energy forms.”
“And what about the psychological model?”
“Well, in the psychological model we are dealing with projections of the subconscious.”
“What happens in the information model, then?”
“In the information model there are information clusters.”
“Yes, but are there spirits now or not?”
“In the spirit model, yes.”

This logical loop is, of course, usually experienced as a pretty frustrating exercise; but while the asker claims that the magician is trying to avoid the issue he is at the same time overlooking the fact that he himself is basically only restating the old yen for absolute, "objective" truths - not really a quantum magical approach, to say the least. However, the aspiring cyberpunk magician of today cannot expect to be spared the pains of coming to terms with the notion that freedom and dogma are mutually exclusive.” (Fr. D, Models of Magick.)

The Information Model

When the information model was crafted in the late 1980s, it was largely based on rapid developments in technology, quantum theory, and especially information theory. While Fr. UD treats it as a model in it's own right, I personally do not. When the “memetic” movement burst upon the magical subcultures—especially those versed in Chaos Magick and other forms of experimental magick—it brought with it rapid changes to the treatment of information. To suggest there's an underlying belief that all Information model practitioners utilize beyond the fact that information can be manipulated to facilitate results is sadly incorrect. Some practitioners are Cyber-magicians, who see the world as akin to a hard-drive. Others of us, myself included, make heavy use of the holographic universe theory and David Bohm's theories of Quantum Mechanics. When Bohm postulated non-locality (that one event occuring in the world can simultaneously—faster than the speed of light no less—influence another) he was describing, to me, the magical process. “Spooky action at a distance” in the lab is no different than spooky at a distance when performed by a magician.

Commentary

The information model can and does utilize all of the primary three models, varying in degree of each due to the practitioner's taste. I've known Cyber-magicians who were also so well versed in the energy model that they claimed to be “energetic healers” (a title I personally view with distaste; but to each their own), whereas I probably couldn't “energically heal” my way out of a wet paper sack. I will allow, however, that the term “energy” is one of the most potent symbolically active terms in Neo-Paganism today and that alone holds almost as much value as some elements of the spirit model; the difference is that it laid dormant for so long in practice that we've only seen heavy use of it for the last two-hundred years or so. Prior to that almost all magical systems were based on the spirit model, at least in continental Europe.

Memetic engineers, on the other, focus more heavily on psychological theorems and manipulation of information given to others to cause results. This is a far more recent model that's still building it's way towards having a standardized theory behind it. However, it's hardly unheard of. There's more than a few of us out there.

Given that I'll be discussing manipulation of memes next, I have no further examples.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Know Thy Enemy."



Actual discourse on magick to come.

At the moment I'm filled with loathing for some of my fellow Americans.