Wednesday, December 31, 2008
In many cases, magick aids and abets paranoia. The magician having created a fully functional microcosm, and adjusted to trance - especially by its very nature oracular trance - will often find that significance and meaning are picked up by cues in his surrounding. These are often in relation to his or her own life, but the more adept (and note that the term is in lower case in this choice of words) can do the same for the world around them. The danger lies in applying significance to fears or desires, rather than coming possibilities. In other words: the shuffle of tarot cards reveals a set of symbols relating to patterns which surround one - which can be complex or simplistic - and can reveal things of which we are consciously unaware. Those particularly skilled, can glean this information without a set oracle. (Yes, I am implying that I can detect patterns of meaning from wandering down the street and letting my eyes drift over license plates until the "shock" of a coming or going occurance - be it microcosmic or macrocosmic occurs. In fact, I've done it with news reports to aptly predict future patterns a few times while quite stoned and scared my less magically inclined compatriots shitless.)
However: this form of trance, and communication with the oracle, becomes dangerous when unfulfilled desires or previously dwelling issues take hold and pervert the meaning. The burdgeoning magician easily becomes convinced s/he's special; and they are quite right. And wrong. By participating in this form of communication with the universe they are special. However they are hardly of significance on a grand scale in many cases. The crux of the problem comes in two forms early on:
1. Convinced that they are "special," they believe they enter communication with an entity and it feeds them lies. They then conclude that they are in some way macrocosmically important. This ideation often involves belief that one is an Avatar, the right hand of God, or something similar. They immediately seek to bring this message of their living embodiment of whatever to the wide world. The response of the world, normally bitchy and snarky, often hits them not unlike a large truck driving down the road at sixty miles an hour and breeds a martyr complex. (They become convinced that agents of a hostile universe to their message of love are everywhere.) The good news here is that they rarely get enough followers to make a religion and at best have a handful of people that listen to them.
2. Convinced that they are "special," they enter communication with some of their inner (unconscious) drives and desires, and similarly become convinced that they've achieved a pinnacle of experience before they have, in fact, reached the necessary point. This is the face of the Uber-Adept. The 18 year old Magister Templi. The would-be badass. The wanna-Blessed Be. The good news here is that few pack a punch.
Now, those are just two examples and the list is endless. The big thing to remember is that paranoia on its own isn't dangerous - in fact attempting to completely remove it from one's self can be even more so to you - but that when it's fueled by delusions of grandeur or fear it becomes something quite different. Magickal paranoia is typically really just a type of oracular trance which allows you to detect patterns within information structures and derive personal or otherwise meaning from. But if fear, a deep seated need to be something more on a grand scale (delusion), or hate fuels it then it becomes the sword that cuts into one and severs the actual meaning of data.
The basic mechanisms for destroying problems of these sorts are skepticism - in fact a personal skepticism that can occasionally borderline on cynicism and focused on the self - and grounding. The act of returning to the earth, like a tribal shaman gathering food for the village, is particularly important because if delusions get too out of hand they can truly destroy one's capacity to grow magically. On the other hand, since the above examples are quite common, they are occasionally simply stumbling blocks to step over. (Just hope people don't remember when you were an idiot or, better yet, remember when they were also idiots.)
Our fears personified by trance and technique can become demons which haunt us when these situations are reversed into the negative. Likewise paranoia becomes fuel for a repeating pattern in which the affirmation that "something is going on" even if the fact is that we are causing it all own our own.
The best curses are always self-induced. Who knows what we fear - about ourselves and the world around us - better? Not a single soul. That is the hidden power found in flashing the "Evil Eye" at a superstitious individual. Often the threat is more than enough for the sorcerer or witch to aid them in destroy themselves.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Seasons Greetings and much love. One thing to remember is regardless of what we celebrate, the season is all about who you love, when you love, and how you love. Family and friends.
I, personally, celebrate the rising of the Great Old Ones who will devour all of humanity once the stars align correctly, bringing forth destruction and despair. But I make sure to love everyone before they get eaten (whether first or last)!
Ahem, ignore the above. What I mean to say is that it isn't the name - Hell, you can worship consumerism for all I care - but the idea. That we all huddle together as the cold bears down on us, and grin at one another despite the shivers.
The name is immaterial. It's all about the feeling the possibility of the Holiday season can provide. And in America, a lot of pretty lights. Which, I have to admit, aren't all that bad either.
Whether it's the manifestation of the Logos in human form, the redemption of humanity through the birth of a deified savior, the birth of a God (Dionysos, Mithras, whoever else), a reversal of conditions; or a celebration of how much cash we can throw at one another, I think the point is looking across the field at those that surround you and relaxing for ten seconds to celebrate the fact that we're all more or less still here.
So leave a plate of food out for the ancestors that brought you about, and love the people still with you. Today or tomorrow could always be their last. So love them right now, without exception or expectation, and enjoy it.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Not that I'm actually conducting any. But you have to keep up the ill-repute after so many years.
And lastly, I bring you a dose of Church inspired Fail via Failblog:
Be seeing you.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The subject has come up time and again and my utter dislike and diatribe against Michael Ford left me considering some of the finer points of my own resistance to the idea. I should state that as “infernal” as I may or may not be, I have developed some vague and odd respect for the idea of traditions of magick and approaching them versus breaking them down.
To begin: what typically constitutes the Goetia is the text known as the Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon and a slew of other writings which center around contact with spirits of an infernal (or at least Church-disliked) nature which vary from dangerous to “not quite so dangerous.” The Grimoires of the Medieval period were roughly catalogs of such spirits with roughly similar methods of contact. Many of them appear to have sprung up during transition periods in the Catholic church, and many bear the Hall-mark of being written by Priests. Not Priests of other religions, but Catholic Priests.
The question is: “why”?
It comes down to power: the previous magical texts, of which there were many, entered into a state of Church-inspired “lock-down” and those that were confiscated by Church officials were not always, as might be expected, burned. Instead in quite a few cases (if you trust scholars such as Richard Kieckhefer and Michael D. Bailey) ended up in the hands of Priests who were going no-where fast. One might postulate from this that they saw them as keys to power which others had used, and in turn began to use them.
In any event, most – if not all – of them were written by those who understand the liturgy and ritual pomp of the Catholic church and it shows through and through. Most of what is written in them is bare-bones basics for operation, but they rarely discuss specifics; it was understood by the authors that if you could make use of the texts then you had a similar background; and this makes sense when one considers that most of the educated populace was educated by the very same Holy Roman Catholic Church.
This is also the reason why it can be hard for non-Ceremonial magicians to make use of the texts, and why they draw such blanks when looking at them. One has to read between the lines, master aspects of trance, and understand basic ritual structures – their construction and alteration – just to use the damn things.
All of the above matters very little to the question of “can we infernalize the texts?” but it gives one a very small bit of background and some sources to look into if it piques their interest.
The biggest drawbacks to dropping the formalized structure of Goetia and the Grimoires as I see it is the metaphysical point of legacy. This was largely lost on me until about three years ago when I began using the PGM's infamous “Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist” better known as “The Headless Ritual.” It took a while to actually look at the contents and what was offered, since my compatriots and I were too busy warping it and bastardizing it every-which way to figure out how each aspect worked. For me it nailed the question of “what do the voces mageia do” (more on this later) down pat and also raised another interesting aspect.
The author of the Stele of Jeu was a non-Christian Greek exorcist. Yet, like many of the other PGM (“Greek Magical Papyri” or “Magical Papyrus of Paris”) have an over-abundance of quite unexpected Christian elements. There was specifically a passage that perplexed me:
“I am Moses your prophet to whom you have transmitted your mysteries celebrated by Israel; you have revealed the moist and the dry and all nourishment; hear me. I am the messenger of Pharaoh Osoronnophris; this is your true name which has been transmitted to the prophets of Israel.”
Now, as I've stated, the author was almost certainly a pagan magician as were the rest of the PGM authors. Yet they continually fall back on this line of reasoning and Christian aspects themselves show up throughout the text. Why?
Spiritual authority and magical authority are assumed to be the same to the authors. By linking themselves, however superficially, with that authority they were creating metaphysical “lines of power.” To the Greek magicians of the period I'm discussing, which is before the rise of the Church, Judaic magic was believed to have worked. And worked well. That's one of the primary reasons that the names of Christ and the Judaic god enter the PGM so often. The same 'grimoire', however, also has spells for Hecate to bring you dream lovers and all sorts of other fun bits. (One section of a spell tells you to drown a cat which some recent magicians have assumed to be a metaphore because Greek pagans were all, obviously to them, sweet and nice characters. No; the text is clearly explicit. If you want the spell to work you're going to drown a cat. Fun stuff. It's no wonder I adore it so. I have yet, however, to have found a need to drown a cat for some marginal material profit. Moving along...)
The Jewish god-names were seen as 'raw powers' to be used and abused as the Greek magicians desired. And this line of reasoning may help us in our search. From a strictly anti-Christian standpoint, “the power of my enemy used against him is an amusing thing.” Spiritual akido, if you will. But I digress. (This is also a point that our good Magister Bleach uses in his “Kabalah for Satanists,” and it's an apt one to make. The belief was wide-spread throughout the classical era, especially amongst lower class magical practitioners.)
To continue I'm going to use some 'Chaos Magick speak'. It'll help cut out some of the bullshit, I think, and also address some of the metaphysical questions I seek to point out.
Forms of magick lead one to inevitably, in the Chaos crowd, discuss “egregores” and “magical currents.” Whether or not these things literally exist or not isn't quite the problem, but they'll help head towards a capacity to discuss the idea of metaphysical flows of power. The egregore is a “group spirit,” or an amalgamation of 'spiritual energies' (I really hate the term 'energies', but it's nicely symbolic and there's no fucking avoiding it) which responds to practitioners. The term itself, in the occult sense, comes from a somewhat little-known group of German magicians called the “Fraternitas Saturni” (“Brotherhood of Saturn”) who came together when they defected en-mass from the original OTO after Crowley took over. They're pretty interesting, but the biggest factor involved in the defection was the fact that they refused to accept the Golden Dawn standard of magick that Crowley brought with him. They accepted “Liber AL” as a manifesto for the modern magician, but rejected Crowley's methods of learning to obtain it. Rather than seek a Holy Guardian Angel, they instead worked with a group guru-type spirit (“egregore”) named GOTOS. I could ramble on and on about GOTOS, 'cuz he's fucking cool, but I'll spare you.
The short factor being that they rejected the HGA as a spiritual authority and instead chose the group-spirit of the egregore.
From a further detached angle, the egregore is the 'mythic expansion and living landscape' which magicians delve into when they jump onto the astral. To be fairly concise with how to view it, “gods are gates.” In other words, spirits (especially “Big Ones” – such as gods) contain their own mythic validity. That's why people write poems about them while intoxicated with their influence, or make chapels dedicated to them. Any system contains mythic symbol-codes which can be hacked, used, dosed on like drugs and ingested (“invocation”), or spit forth to commune with (“Evocation”). They are the nexus and we are but pioneers in their fertile lands.
So, every magical tradition is by necessity then tied to an egregore. Hack the egregore and you can pillage the inner secrets of the tradition.
From this view, the “Goetic” is highly resistant to those changes. That nexus-point of entities and traditions has existed for millenia, and that's a type of power. That's part of the very power that allows one to speak to the entities, period.
This view is heightened by the Voces Mageia used to intoxicate the self just so you can talk to the entities. As idiotic as the members of Joy of Satan might be, they're right about one thing. The god names in certain VM (such as languages like Enochian) matter. They matter because they're actually codes. So they serve a dual function: they break up every-day linguistic reality by being “barbarous,” and by plotting a course like one might while sailing. Rather than being mathematical in nature – such as for typical maps – they serve the function of plotting a spiritual course.
Of course, members of the JoS are also idiots who neglect the earlier mentioned point that words of power are words of power and it's up to the practitioner to decide how to use them. But if you change the words of power bound into the lineage, you're not going to end up in what I'd like to call the spiritual Otherworld of Goetia-ville. You're going to end up somewhere else. Where? Fuck if I know. You find out and tell me. I just know that's how it works. And I know that from personal experience, and having others in my group of madmen do the same thing. We've dicked around with VM enough to make our own entities, hack other egregores, and piss off more than a few Ceremonial Magicians off. It's great fun.
The next factor comes from the oft cited fact that entities in the Lemegeton do, in fact, have pagan names. This leads one to assume you're actually talking to infernalized and demon gods. And if you assume that you're on the wrong track. Those names are meaningless. I don't expect people to actually do something crazy and read Agrippa, so I'll quote him for you:
"The very ardent intension [intention] of the invocator, by which our intellect is joyned to the separated intelligencies, causeth that we have sometimes one spirit, sometimes another, although called upon under the same name, made obsequious to us."
(Many thanks to RO for turning me on to that quote.)
The name doesn't matter. An example here would be that there are 20-billion Joe Smiths out there. But if we want to call up our friend Joe Smith, from Kentucky, who we went to school with we'll have to sort through them... It helps if we have a specific phone number then, right? Well, in this case those that made the Grimoires were clever. They provided us with one.
That's what the entities' seal is. Or, to go back to my earlier analogy, it's the map. And the VM are the coordinance. By the two acting together we have an accord to let us make a magical phone call to Lucifuge so we can say, “hey man, I'd like 1500$ by tuesday. I'll give you a neat plaque for it. You down?”
And if he doesn't feel like being called at 6 AM by a dumbass teenager who's going to ask the magical equivalent of “is your refigerator running?” then he just might decide to end the call with some unkind words. Or thrown objects (since he's actually in your house rather than on the phone). Or who knows what.
Which brings us to the Circle of Arte. The Circle of Arte exists to keep Lucifuge, or Belial, or Asmodai, or whatever other spirit you've called up, from removing your entrails forcibly. Or simply causing you to hallucinate having them removed and harm yourself while you try to stop bleeding that doesn't exist and cut off precious and necessary blowflow to limbs that are actually unharmed. Yes, they can do that.
The circle is typically (once again) names of god, complete with the seals and names of angels of the hour and day. This exists to keep you from being totally fucked up by a raging entity who was about to get it on with one fine-ass succubus, and fuck you for interrupting with your fucking phone call. Now, not all of them react that way. But the few that do pack a punch at you if not for you. And I think that's something to note. If the power isn't flexed outward it can hit inward, and it can send you running for the hills.
The circle of power (along with praying and fasting and other aspects that 'build trance' and heighten authority) is one of the biggest issues faced by LHP adherents wanting to warp Goetia. How do you still construct a sacred space that'll keep “raging entity A.” from obliterating your brain and kill the Judeo-Christian aspects?
Well, you can change them. Thelema lends itself here. Babalon can be a name of power, too. The Angels of the day and hour? We can either warp our viewpoint and see them as “simple spiritual messengers originating from (insert big term for 'The All' here)” or “powers of the sky”. Or we can warp our view so that they're emanations of aspects of being, whether martial strength (Gabriel) or otherwise. But let's be honest? It's still an 'Angel.' And that'll turn some stomachs.
One could posit that you could use other infernal names. But, there's flaws. I'm certain that Lucifuge and Lucifer are two different beings. That said, I don't want to find out that I'm wrong the hard way by using Lucifer's name on my circle. That could, literally, suck ass. As in, I might end up trying to suck my own ass after he's done learning me some manners.
So there you have it. You can change VM, you can change authority, and you can change the circle—but by my token, you won't actually be dealing with classical Goetia and it's egregore anymore. It'll be something new. And in that case—why bother? Why not just craft a new system altogether? After all, with those basics changed and altered you've done just that. Which means you're well on your way to being a badass and getting teenagers to buy your book to be blasphemous.
Since you'll have a new slew of entities, you can also get new names, form a new Non-Christian Grimoire, and have at it. Personally—I figure that's the better option, too.
You may now rip what I've said apart as is expected and I'll do my best to keep answering questions.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
- Decline of the West.
Expect to see this quote in an upcoming piece, from one Joshua Carfax and myself exploring two of Spare's techniques (The Death Posture and Atavistic Resurgence), of which at least the introduction will be posted here. (It is highly likely that it will be published in a currently forth-coming 'zine, hence I'm not willing to put the whole thing online.) Ramblings on something that's important to me for mostly ego-based things also forthcoming.
Monday, December 1, 2008
We cannot yet say, as the Ranters did, that Empire nor the machinery of the State-Church apparatus is undone. We cannot yet say we have come nearly far enough. Bruno burned; as did so many others of our heroes. Our blessing alone is to burn brighter while still standing. This is not revolution; this is just one more task. Still.. It is the only task worth pursuing."
- The Travelogue of Jack Faust. January 3rd, 2006.
(Written for the adherents of the Black Sun, the HedKult, and the Diamond Dogs of Kwan-Lyl prior to the Splintering of the Nomads.)
But there's one thing that bothers me. It's something that I didn't detect until I woke up this morning... and sat on my glasses. I was literally thinking about it at the moment I sat on my glasses, no less. (Which I took as an omen.) Which led to two startling conclusions:
1. I should probably not toss my glasses on my chair when crashing because I'm lazy. Because I will inevitably sit on them upon waking up.
2. We have a funny idea of what kids should be exposed to in this country.
The idea that books written for "young adults" should or can fall to lower standards than those written for adults is atrocious and completely insulting. But considering how "educated" Americans are right now it really isn't very surprising.
Every child that isn't mentally retarded should be able to, or at least encouraged, to read Shakespeare at age twelve. This is not to put Shakespeare on a pedestal the way many middle school and high school (and I refuse to capitalize the terms on principle) teachers do so. There is no reason a child needs to be expected to understand all of the content involved... But I'll bet that most, if not all, children can manage the task given the appropriate time-frame and people willing to explain what's going on.
During the Dubya years, which is not to suggest politics but general mentality, we've seen a significant factor of intellectual crippling in American society - ranging from television to literature - that is astonishing. From a President who's speeches were worse than many given by second language citizens to the rise of "Reality Television" we've continually crippled the benchmark for learning, understanding, and content.
Saying things like, "if you want adult stories, don't visit the young adult section of the bookstore" is fucking terrifying. Saying things like, "kids read it," is fucking terrifying. These are inapt justifications for shoving (as Samuel /Sammaelhain 23 commented) junk food down our kids' throats and then not understanding why they'd bypass the four-course meal for fucking cheetohs.
If our standards have become so low that white-washed teen-MTV bullshit with veiled propaganda is the best we can hand out then we're in bad shape. And if the inability to recognize that is part of the problem, then someone needs to point it out. I may not be the best individual (between Shakespeare - because I was told his works were "far too hard" for me to read - and classics I also read pure Cheesy-puff delicious content too: the Forgotten Realms novels are hardly amazing literature. They still have more to offer than the Twilight books, however).
Stop stunting children and let them amaze you. Lowering the benchmark because the back of the book states "Young Adult" as the targeted readers is fucking atrocious. And some people should still be ashamed of themselves. The bias inherent in it is that "children can't understand" - and the fact of the matter is that we aren't giving them things to understand. Especially things like relevance. Questions revolving around sexuality, politics, ideology, and divergence in opinions and belief are all the more important to expose kids to. Because these are things that as they become adults will become further ingrained in them unless they're given the options to play with before they're adults.
If there's one thing I admitted about the Twilight books then it's that sex wasn't taken for granted. That doesn't make the novels any better, however. That just shows a need for better novels with the same content. Of which there certainly is: a vast majority of Victorian novels played with similar themes not relegated to children. Instead of forcing twaddle down kids' throats, why not expose them to The Portrait of Dorian Gray and then ask them questions like: "what do you think?"
They're "young adults." As the label implies, they can more than hack it. If we let them. Stop forcing children and "young adults" to deal with Spongebob-esque novelizations and open the fucking doors to both their imaginations and capacity to reason. They can, and will, surprise us all.
A quote to end this commentary:
'Repeated exposure to myths – or merely mythic motifs – rather than conscious learning is responsible for embedding myths into the structure of our consciousnesses. Such 'deep structures' manifest in the modern world not so much as fully-formed mythical narratives but rather as 'fragmentary references, indirect allusions, watchwords, slogans, visual symbols, echoes in literature, film, songs, public ceremonies, and other forms of everyday situations, often highly condensed and emotionally charged.' (Flood 1996: 84)
If this seems rather abstract, consider this Jewish proverb:
We do not see things the way they are but as we are.- Foamy Custard, Cosmologies as Deep Structures.