Sunday, March 28, 2010

Solus Negris: The New Header

“Know my purpose: To be a stranger unto myself, the enemy of truth...
Cursed are they who supplicate. Gods are with ye yet. Therefore let ye who pray acquire this manner:-
O Self my God, foreign is thy name except in blasphemy, for I am thy iconoclast. I cast thy bread upon the waters, for I myself am meat enough. Hidden in the labyrinth of the Alphabet is my sacred name, the Sigil of all things unknown. On Earth my kingdom is Eternity of Desire. My wish incarnates in the belief and becomes flesh, for, I am the Living Truth. Heaven is ecstacy; my consciousness changing and acquiring association. May I have courage to take from my own superabundance. Let me forget righteousness. Free me of morals. Lead me into temptation of myself, for I am a tottering kingdom of good and evil.”
- Austin Spare, Anathema of ZoS (1922)

(Imagine, of course, by the lovely V.V.F.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not now Secret Chiefs, I'm in the Zone!

My recent discussion with Peregrin triggered a flood of thoughts that I've tried to sort into their discrete categories and do my best to present within a different sort of space (and with a slightly different format of speaking) than I have been.
It has been noted by many that any practitioner of magick is posed with certain threats that may or may not affect their progress. One of these, as I've mentioned in the past, is paranoia. Another is delusion, typified by delusions of grandeur. The most extreme of such examples would be those teenagers who become convinced that Neo-Paganism is somehow a fad and fandom, and mistake anime titles for “magickal reality” if such a discrete thing even exists. The most benign I can think of are those Neo-Pagans I've met who would – halfway through the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram – turn and begin to address and speak to the Angels and hope for channeled advice. And yes, I really have seen that.
In my more humorous moments of “dark inklings,” I call the dangers of the individual's psyche The Seven Voices of Choronzon. (Paranoia, Cognitive Bias/Delusion, and Cognitive Dissonance are but three.) I've seen a lot of silliness, and been a part of just as much. It wasn't so long ago I had a Starbucks cup with sigils scrawled all over it for a chalice and a plastic Spork with sigils all over that for some hysterical approximation of a wand. I had an actual knife for that weapon, though. In fact it became the basis for a more personalize “magickal weapon” later.
There are reasons I discuss delusions less than paranoia. The primary reason is that I have to be very careful – in my mind – with what I dismiss and what I take for granted at this point. This is a personal issue of mine, and mine alone to deal with. But the principle things I stress to myself are function and aesthetic. Some delusions aren't really delusions at all, in the long run of things. For example: every could be said to be God already. So believing you are a God isn't a very ignorant or childish thing to believe.
Austin Spare put it this way:
I know too many gods… yet the greatest stranger to me is myself. And those who speak so glibly and knowingly of God (alleged Absolute), who know his ways, wills, desires, etc., are committed to their inferiority. The word 'God' once uttered seemingly proliferates into all ungodliness. Why they imagine that God needs the endowment of human attributes is a mystery as profound as their ignorance—unless this 'half-idiot God' desires to impersonate us and thereby, quid pro quo, permit us to impersonate him? And so we make an adaptable God, one to barter with… defraud. This stuff, this moon-wrack, well suits the human equation. If we are in God's image, we know the maker's hand—the old looking-glass self-nomination: so we ever create. Still, we must become designers and cast this strange coinage; whether spurious or of merit it has a value for sure. Whatever our designs, they are derivative and unbeknowningly follow some dicta of the gods: exchangeable by artistic merit?”
He also wrote: “Myself, I have not yet seen a man who is not God already.”
We are what we believe, in so many words. Spare's criticisms rely on assaulting the veritable exchange of sacred and profane that those who call themselves holy or just tend to center on. Most of these are moral concerns; and many of those moral concerns are particularly silly. Unless your sexual tastes revolve around children or raping someone, what they are is of no concern to society at large. Yet those same 'social' issues harped on by others tend to influence the writing of those magicians that came before us. Eliphas Levi is quick to condemn Martin Luther for very little real reason in his History of Magic, and yet he still devotes a few pages to Luther. What does Martin Luther have to do with Ceremonial Magick? Absolutely nothing, unless you count moral concerns.
Recently St. Justin rambled:
See here is my main thing with Crowleyanity. He was a really horrible person, but then came the Book of the Law. And that was always the big rub from me, cause as you all know he just tortured and abused women. But the big thing was besides him what always made me a Thelemite was it wasn't about him, it was all about Babalon.
He didn't like that at all. So he kept torturing others cause I mean, receiving a message and from a woman he thought was dirt (his wife). He could not accept that, but still the message was still there. Still didn't make the message garbage, look at Jack Parsons. I dunno just pisses me off when people talk about Crowley and how he was a charlatan and he was many horrible things but I believe he was the first one to tap into the current before us. You get into the occultists now and it is easy to slam him, but alot of those people never really studied what he brought forth. It's so easy to talk about his fucking guys and other shit, and not the book of the law...”
Like Justin, I occasionally get asked: “How can you justify liking the works of a man like Aleister Crowley?”
As above, this is a moral concern. Where a few people have gotten me stuck is when they've asked how I could condemn Dion Fortune, while giving Crowley a pass. Technically speaking: it is a bias. I'm as aware as anyone who treats Liber AL as holy that Aleister Crowley was a special breed of fucked up. And I have certainly condemned Dion Fortune in the past. So where I draw the line, if I am to be an apologist, is what the individual specifically wrote, and who still treats it as the gospel today. In this case neither Dion nor Crowley get much leeway. On the other hand: Dion Fortune didn't hand us The Vision and the Voice, or Liber AL; both of which I consider occult treasures.
Aleister Crowley's private letters are filled with anti-Semitism (see Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley by Lawrence Sutin), he can easily be called sexist, he was sadistic and abusive, and when he died more people were probably relieved or happy than perplexed or saddened. These are all, however, judgments that I'd have to impose on the man himself and not his body of work which contains rational responses to ethical concerns; asserts that women are the equals of men, that we might find the divine in ourselves if we look hard enough, and a series of strategies for dealing with the rubrics of True Will, confrontation, and reconciling them in an age when we all might to aspire to such a state.
Then we have Dion Fortune, who while writing about those dreaded Black Lodges states:
“Several others sailed unpleasantly near the wind, and with the result that “crushes” and the subsequent nervous breakdowns were very prevalent. It ought hardly to be necessary to say that such methods form no part of the Right-hand Path.
It is amazing to what an extend women of the highest ideals and of good family* and wide culture can be induced to accept such theories and practices. The danger of membership of such a group to young girls or unsophisticated women* can readily be imagined...
It may not generally be realised, but there is just as much danger of corruption in a Black Lodge for boys and youths as there is for women.” (Psychic Self Defense, p. 118)
So far we know that: members of Black Lodges deceive young women for sex, and furthermore that the Black Brother may be gay. But wait, there's more!
It has been said that the occult fraternities are controlled by the Jews in the interests of Zionism. This is quite untrue. There are very few Jews in the occult movement.” (ibid., p. 210)
This may be read as: don't worry, it's just us white folk.
We must first take account of the use of drugs, of which the Black Fraternity in all ages have possessed a remarkable knowledge...” (ibid., p. 133)

And my favorite:
One day, passing upstairs bearing a bunch of flowers, I was prompted to throw before him one of the traditional marigolds of Indian devotion. Immediately I was conscious that a link had been formed between myself and the little statue, and that it was sinister! A night or two afterwards I was returning home rather late, and as I passed the Budda I had a feeling that there was something behind me, and looking over my shoulder, saw a ball of pale golden light about the size of a football... I learnt subsequently that some of these statues are consecrated with the blood of a human sacrifice.
I do not mean to imply by this that all Buddhist statues have been so treated; such consecrations are, I should imagine, comparatively rare; rather I think no one who has a knowledge of the facts will deny they occur, even as one might occasionally come across a Crucifix which had been used upside down at a Black Mass.” (ibid., p. 77. Italics and an exclamation point are mine and added for humor's sake and necessity.)
Not sinister and evil Buddhas! Oh, those tantric Black Brothers, consecrating debauched Buddha statues!
I mean, come on: the book pours out it's soul with tales of Inner Planes Adepts, White Brotherhood Hunting Lodges devoted to destroying the Black Brotherhood, ghosts, psychic vampires, and near constant social judgments. In fact whenever you've seen an asterisk it's represented a social judgment. About the only thing I haven't ever caught Dion doing is being openly racist, but then I tend to ignore everything she's written besides Psychic Self Defense. Some of her comments in Sane Occultism and even Mystical Qabalah are no less amusing.
So while Aleister Crowley might not have been a nice guy, his writing doesn't insult my intelligence. On the other hand, Dion Fortune's writings tend to do exactly that. But it seems odd that I'm justifying myself at all. All said and done: you like what you like. And the founders of your system of magick may have been just as deluded as the people you criticize today.
As such I turn to one last quote by Austin Spare:
Know my purpose: To be a stranger unto myself, the enemy of truth...
Cursed are they who supplicate. Gods are with ye yet. Therefore let ye who pray acquire this manner:-
O Self my God, foreign is thy name except in blasphemy, for I am thy iconoclast. I cast thy bread upon the waters, for I myself am meat enough. Hidden in the labyrinth of the Alphabet is my sacred name, the Sigil of all things unknown. On Earth my kingdom is Eternity of Desire. My wish incarnates in the belief and becomes flesh, for, I am the Living Truth. Heaven is ecstacy; my consciousness changing and acquiring association. May I have courage to take from my own superabundance. Let me forget righteousness. Free me of morals. Lead me into temptation of myself, for I am a tottering kingdom of good and evil.”

*A social judgment has occurred! Oooooh! Spooky!

(Credit goes to Eldritch for the title of this entry.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Have you seen The Guild?

Oh, yeah. As someone that has spent far, far too much time playing World of Warcraft, I have definitely seen both seasons of The Guild.

Ask me anything

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Your Elders Are Still Human, Dude.

“Out of sight and out of mind,
Are deadly traits when they're combined...”
- Assemblage 23, I am the Rain.

I have discussed my mentors a few times, but it was recently brought to my attention that I tend to forget a few details here and there. One of them revolves around how I tend to treat them. Not so long ago one of them told me: “And that, Faust, is why I keep you around!”

Being that I have a sense of humor which shapes the way I see the world, I tend to treat them mockingly or at times with almost derision while also revering them. On the surface this would just show my insecurity, but it's also a way of constantly reminding myself that they are people, too. Not Gods or “All Powerful Adepts.”

It was about three years ago that I became interested in witchcraft. Primarily because what we were doing with Andrew Chumbley's Azoetia in the Sutras of the Poison Buddha (see issues three and four for more information) had begun to work. And, might I add, work quite well. There were a lot of theories we batted about here and there, and a lot more that we were up to. But if I'd never seen that book, I'd never have changed my stance.

At which point my head exploded. And I found myself asking for directions in a very deep, dark forest. So I went to those who knew the territory better than I. I expected they'd hook me up with the 1734 fellows, or maybe the Cultus Sabbati... But they sent me elsewhere. Since I didn't know any of the subject matter, I asked what I ought to look into.

I was pointed toward an email list. You may or may not know of the email list I speak of. It's a list for would-be members of BTW covens, and tons of Elders are on it. You can consult about all manner of things, and their knowledge and experience is quite frankly breathtaking. And yet, despite that, it's utterly reviled by more than a few people. I was on the list for a total of three days.

What happened was this: I clambered in during a discussion on Proper matters. All well and good! Or so I thought... But then I began to watch social assumptions and an underlying (dare I say it?) classist attitude emerge. This was quite shocking coming from folks that claim to be practicing a system of magick which commoners used, all the while creating rules which would exclude those same people.

Three things occurred to me:

  1. I was by no means the “Proper” sort of fellow most of them seemed to be looking for or expecting.

  2. I had no idea what half of them seemed to be babbling about.

  3. None of them seemed to have any sort of consensus about what was or wasn't proper.

One of the commentators wrote something like: “You meet these young people who can't even drive and they expect to learn witchcraft!”

I've never owned a car. There's this thing that some people seem to forget about. Its called being poor, and the fact I was poor certainly didn't exclude me from learning magick. I might have, years ago, gotten myself a car. But I have not purchased one for several reasons: if I need to be on time, I leave early; I like walking and listening to music and thinking all at once, and it actually keeps me in decent physical shape. There are drawbacks: such as occasionally having to ask for a ride (I always try to offer compensation for gas), occasionally having to take the bus or lightrail... But I don't pay car insurance, and the only gas I need to worry about is the inevitable retribution of a night of hard curry-eating or too much beer.

It occurred to me immediately that questioning authority and forming your own conclusions was more important in some cases than listening to the chorus of authoritative voices who can't even tell their own social preconceptions from their witchcraft. This is not to say that my conclusions are always right. I am, in fact, wrong quite often. And just as opinionated in some respects.

Some time later, I was chatting with another female that had a dislike for the same email list. She related that she'd asked: “is crystal healing actually traditional?”

She was immediately scolded for 'questioning tradition'. In fact, she'd been trying to inquire as to whether or not it was traditional, not requesting anyone stop what they were doing. These are two very different sorts of questions. Since she'd asked and never gotten a real answer, I'll actually do my best: I am unaware of any 'traditional' practices regarding crystals with one possible exception. The “charged” lodestone was somewhat prized by Cunning men and women because it could locate magnetic north. In the case of the Golden Dawn, they also seem to have thought it could block psychic possession-god-waves or somesuch and so they placed them in their hats to act as a shield much akin to Magneto's helmet in the X-Men comics. I believe Alan Bennett used quartz in his blasting rod as well.

Beyond that, everything I've read indicates that healing with crystals was one of the beliefs of the sixties and coincided with a boom in interest in ley-lines. But I'm fairly sure that most people didn't wave around crystals to create harmony, goodness and health, prior to at least the 1900s. On the other hand: most objects will accept a 'psychic charge,' meaning that whether or not crystals are better at it is highly questionable. I'm not entirely sure there's much of a difference between myself making a talismatic sigil for someone's health and giving it to them and waving a crystal around in the air sensing their 'astral vibrations' and trying to 'heal them'. And finally: listen up, your crystals cramp my style. Even if they did work well, I still wouldn't personally use them. And believe me when I say that I am by no means alone in this.

Returning to the subject at hand: the first time an Eclectic Wiccan pulled the 'Elder' card on me, I was nineteen. It was regarding Raymond Buckland's Three-Fold Law and their desire for me to respect their opinion because they'd been practicing for about a year longer than I had. The suggestion still seems asinine to me. While I will generally be respectful to most people, being told to respect their opinion because they clearly knew better was an affront to my sensibilities. Said Elder(!) had been talking about the Law of Karma(!) and how the Three-Fold Law(!) was like, the same thing.

I had calmly explained that Karma had nothing to do with positivity and negativity in general, and more to do with actions themselves. Worldly actions would tie one to the world, and thus the suggestion to the culture that birthed it was that one should adopt humility and work to serve god and their family. Which was about when they pulled the Hierarchy Card. This ended the conversation relatively quickly, as I responded with more than a bit of verbal venom and made a new “friend.” I'm fairly sure the individual in question still hates me. And well they should, because I will most likely never tire of pulling apart their silly arguments and demonstrating how they're silly. Sadly, the individual in question doesn't seem to write much these days...

A final example I have for the processes I've discussed about occurred not so long ago in a blog that I enjoyed reading, but which finally dovetailed into some comments about the differences between “high” and “low” magick. I'm going to use it an example because it's something written recently, and not in a book by Dion Fortune that's sixty years out of date. Keep in mind, however, that I still watch the blog with interest. (Just because I dislike your opinion, does not mean I dislike your blog.)

Peregrin over at Magick of the Ordinary writes:

“And still that old chestnut…practical magic. Magic designed to affect the material, mundane world. These days more and more magicians use the term thaumaturgy but it is still practical or low magic, with our without an ancient word. I have blogged on this before and will simply repeat a bit here.

Rather than degenerate into a discussion that ‘high’ magic (that which is not for the self) is better than ‘low’ magic (that which is for the self) I want to point out something that is seldom mentioned: most readers of blogs such as this actually do not need any help from magic. In a world where twenty thousand people will die from poverty and starvation each day, any westerner who can afford time and money to wander around the Internet must be counted as rich beyond measure. To use our magical blessings, which stem ultimately from the One, to increase our station in life rather than to balance out the stakes a little for those who are literally starving to death says something for our personal magical motivation. And in this vein, the profusion of spell-craft manuals and coffee table books bristling with all forms of sorcery says a lot for the general motivation of the esoteric and New Age communities today.”

What a 'proper,' middle class answer! I would note, with a bit of a grin, that it sounds as if Peregrin hasn't been one of those magicians close to starving. You know, that time when magical skill and ability might aid you the most. There is nothing wrong with utilizing magick to render out 'new details' in our life. As long as we keep it in mind that there will always be an exchange of some sort, we can narrow down the odds so that we can find the place where we can better function. Is this, one might ask, selfish?

Yes, but contrary to the opinions above, magick is not a domicile of the rich to find their true inner-soul or inner-self. Those who have almost always relied on “low magick” are those that need it the most: the poor, the destitute, the starving, and the forsaken. It is not the middle class or rich, who can sit around trying to enlighten themselves with their rendered Qabalistic maps, who have ever had a need for such things. To snub your nose at other practitioners, namely those you don't know and who's conditions you might be unable to fathom, simply because your goal is enlightenment is wrong. Furthermore: the transcendental bias that Qabalistic symbolism and and Ceremonial Magick might internally brand upon you is the most clearly apparent in statements such as the above.

So, in answer to such statements let me reiterate: I will use my skills and abilities which do come to me from the universe (both within and without), but also take time and effort to hone into skills, to increase my station in life. I used them to meet my wife (and without negating her will), and I have used them without a moment's worry that I was wrong. And why is that? Because that's precisely what my ancestors did. If I gain “bad karma,” so be it. I don't want to hang out with God in a transcendental paradise, anyway. Then again, I should expect little better from a fellow that also writes:

Now from personal and anecdotal experience over 25 years and in every survey I’ve ever read, there is nothing to suggest the Wiccans are better off than the rest of us. They are not richer or smarter. They suffer the same vicissitudes in love, health and work and are just as likely to have addicts and dysfunctional folk in their community as in any community. The richest Wiccan I know has made his money from sharp and aggressive real estate purchases, not from spells. Of course there is an argument that most Wiccans, despite their cones of power and sex magic are simply devoid of the solid magical skills which we of the GD persuasion have.”

Yeah, you're like, special, dude. Clearly enlightened above those heathen Wiccans with their practical magick. Anyway: he's got great ideas about the HGA. I recommend those. (Edit: As an aside, I am intentionally being an asshole. Peregrin does go on to say that there's no proof the GD is any better.)

But underpinning all of this is the acknowledgment that the people we admire – and the people we loathe – are equally human and flawed. Whether they're Adepts, Neophytes, or somewhere in between and regardless of any given system that will never change. Perhaps the Great Work has in fact polished their soul, and their eyes gleam brightly with Secrets. But that doesn't mean they are perfect. Even some of the best at doing the Work make huge, sometimes blisteringly huge, mistakes.

Accept the sleights with the most amusement you can. Remember the internal humanity. And don't assume that just because someone is doing alchemical work, they'll ever be finished. Opinions exist, within the microcosm, to be revised with time.

- Faust.

Terrorizing Small German Villages since 1984.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cheese and the Worms

I finished reading Carlo Ginzburg's The Cheese and the Worms today. I was actually shocked at how touching it was, given that it's a book about the Inquisitorial trial of a 16th century Miller named Domenico Scandella, but called "Menocchio". Menocchio denied the divinity of Christ, the possibility of an "almighty" God, but was still in so many ways a Christian. The views he expanded upon before the Inquisition revolved around tolerance, and love for one's neighbor. In all honesty, at one point his dialogue, I actually cried because it was so touching to see someone trying to get the Inquisition to listen to him about tolerance... I would like to note that because he claimed God even loved Heretics, he was condemned.

The poor bastard was put to death around the same time as Gordiano Bruno, by order of the Pope. (After being jailed for two years by Catholic authorities, he began leaning more and more towards athiesm...)

I tell you: if Christians today had views such as Menocchio's I most likely would never have become a heretic myself. It's a pity that over four hundred years later, the same idiots are still the ones with "pulpit authority."

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Liiiiists!

(It isn't for everyone. But I like it.)
Books and Lists

Due to the length of this list, I'll be linking to librarything. You can link to Amazon or another bookseller from there, so it makes this process a bit faster for me.
  1. High Magick I by Fr. UD
There's a lot to be said about this book. But suffice it to say that I think it's quite possibly the best introduction to various practices of magick that's come out so far. All of the techniques work. The commentary is highly valuable and enjoyable. I can't believe it's actually still in print or has a follow up.
  1. High Magick II by Fr. UD
I really wish I could say that I've done everything in this book. But the truth of the matter is, I haven't. I keep saying, “I'll get around to it.” Nonetheless: it's just as good as its predecessor and a must-have for everyone insofar as my mind is concerned.
Chaos Magick
  1. Condensed Chaos by Phil Hine
This work essentially supersedes Peter Carroll's Liber Null in my mind. It has just about everything there is to know, insofar as a beginner is concerned, about Chaos Magick. Hine discusses banishing, thoughtforms, sigils and more.
One of the principle issues that dogs the steps of the practice of magick is the perceived lack of rationality employed by those that practice it. Dukes tackles this subject head-on and presents practical solutions to arguments about a variety of concerns. This text is a classic in Chaos Magick circles and is probably one of the easiest to digest on this list. If you're concerned that you're about to throw rationality out the window by engaging your practices or attempts at magick, then buy this book.
  1. Postmodern Magic by Patrick Dunn
I don't think Patrick would mind if I lump this book in with the Chaos Magick sections. I consider it “pagan-friendly” Chaos Magick, anyhow. In any event, this work has discourses on semiotic webs (he expands his thoughts on this matter in Magic, Power, Language, Symbol which I also recommend), the Astral Temple, invocation and evocation, and a series of easy to follow instructions on the practice of magick. I'd actually recommend this book over Condensed Chaos now that I think about it...

A few moments to say a few words, if you would: people are always complaining about being a beginner. Don't. Enjoy it while it lasts. That open-mindedness you have when you first start making it (whatever you want to call the process: magick, mysticism, wankery, sodomy...) 'work' is something you won't ever get back later. You'll do things that you'll never be able to explain again, almost as if by accident. This is not to mention the thrill of the experiences themselves. The first time you make contact with a deity and realize that, no, it is very, very fucking real... The first time you screw up and find yourself actually having to hash it out with a spirit (I screamed like a little girl and ran inside the house after hastily warding my home)... People often forget that in the process of refinement, you lose some raw material. Something is lost for something gained. Those that claim “it's just psychology” are stripping power out of life-altering experiences, experiences that 'transcend' belief and lead to some form of 'understanding.' At least, I think that's the goal.

Ceremonial Magick
  1. Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon
St. Justin of the Holy Discordian Inquistion (who are always expected) insists I place this title on the list. I suck, and haven't read the work in question so I can't actually comment on it. But I cannot refuse the request of a fellow Profit of Eris and Saint of the Unholy Mysteries and Creepy Questions Asked In the Middle of the Night.
Despite all the complaints about this system, it still works. Furthermore and unlike reading Agrippa off Sacred Texts, you don't have to decipher archaic fucking English phrases and I actually consider that a plus. When I want archaic and weird English phrases, I'll read Austin Spare and look at his pretty pictures. Agrippa is lacking in pretty pictures. So Regardie it is.
  1. The Middle Pillar by Israel Regardie
Someone I know stole my copy. I want it back. Anyway: a complete discourse on the GD's Middle Pillar exercise, as well as the linkages between psychology and magick. This is one of the few places where I make an exception and recommend the book. Psychology is part of the formula, but not the whole of the equation.
  1. The Essential Golden Dawn by Chic Circero
Don't buy Modern Magick and give Donald Michael Kraig anymore money. Buy this book instead. The instructions are far more clear and comprehensive, the tone is easier to follow... And to be honest, I'm also biased against DMK.
  1. The Kabbalah Unveiled by S.L. Mcregregor Mathers
This is a personal bias of mine. I actually don't own many books on QBL, and I thougt I could just... avoid it... for a long time. But it turns out that I was wrong. I can't avoid it. It's too potent a magickal memetic. In any event, I dislike Dion Fortune. You can buy Mystical Qabalah by Fortune instead in all honesty.
I would add RO's book here, except I don't own it, and I haven't read it. So, I mostly suck. But I'm told it's great! I may pirate it in the future, however!
(I don't know this subject matter well at all. I only own the following four titles:)
  1. Voudon Gnostic Workbook by Michael Bertiaux
This book is rumored to be one of the best for a self initiate, or so I was told in the Chaos days. It starts off in English that a six year old could read, and gives the bare basics of pantheons and religious thought. The exercises are simple, but I only did a few. After one of them gave me a raging migraine I suspected that perhaps the Loa didn't want to hang with a white-boy. So I pretty much left it alone. The latter half of the book, however, is ape-shit insane and always makes a great coffee-table discussion peace. Included are Shinto-tronics, giving yourself to Choronzon, and nuclear mutation... I think at one point the author raves about how he's going to mutate the human race using hybrid machine-magick technology. I'm never sure if I should be afraid that perhaps Michael Bertiaux can in fact, mutate the human race. It's a very disorienting thought, and I don't like having it.
This book, and the one to follow it, really speak for themselves.
  1. Divine Horsemen by Maya Deren
  1. Urban Voodoo by C.S. Hyatt and S. Jason Black
You should, uh, take this one with a grain of salt...

Psychic Protection
This book supersedes Dion Fortune's Psychic Self Defense for the following reason: it does not turn average neo-Pagans into fear-addicts who are always worried about The Black Lodge Down the Street. While Fortune's work is a classic, it still has her internal bias coded right into the framework along with a hefty dose of paranoia.

Austin Spare
  1. Zos-Kia by Gavin Semple
Hard to find. But well worth finding... Just keep your eyes open for it and take my word.
This one fluctuates in and out of print sporadically. It should be sitting in the Chaos Magick section, but it always seems to transcend that limitation. It's a complete modernization of all of Spare's techniques, stripped down to bare-bones commentary with a few added essays over the previous editions. Included is automatic writing/drawing, sigilization, the Alphabet of Desire, the Death Posture, conjuration (psychological/Spirit model – he draws on both and combines them, which will be viewed dimly by some)... When you can catch it in print, you can buy it for about $19. When it's out of print it's sold as high as $350 on Amazon. It's just one of those books.
  1. Zos Speaks!: Encounters with Austin Spare by Kenneth and Steffi Grant, including Austin Spare.
  1. A Witches' Bible by the Farrars
It's just one of those books you ought to own if you're interested in the subject.
  1. Wicca: Magickal Beginnings by Sorita D'Este & David Rankine
Take the above title, and combine it with this one and the framework is spelled out nicely. Both works make use of openly published documents, and together that's probably all I understand of Wicca.
I haven't read this title, and most likely never will. However, Kenaz Filan recommended it in a comment to my last post. It sounded pretty trustworthy to me.

  1. The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley
I actually burned my first copy of this book, just like I was instructed to by Nuit. I'm told that's rare. So I didn't have hardcopy of it again until I recently grabbed a copy of Gems from the Equinox. Gems is out of print, but I recommend it. In any event, this is the entire backdrop of the Thelemic system and religion. You can find it online here.
  1. Magick Without Tears by Aleister Crowley
Kenaz recommends this title and so do I. You can find it online at the link above.

  1. Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton
Buy it.
Buy it. In fact, you can probably buy anything by Davies or Hutton and find something inside the books enjoyable.
  1. Witchcraft and Black Magic by Montague Summers
I take this book with my to local meetups just to freak out the White Lighters. But I think every single person with an interest should read a book by Montague Summers. VVF resisted for a long time, but finally the siren call of Mr. Summers dawned upon her and she recently glanced up at me and said: “This book... is perfect. Every single word... is perfect.” It really is...
I'll get an astrology-and-magick list from Austin Cappock after I take his class. Anything you think I'm missing? Ask or comment/add to it.

If you had to recommend a few books to a would-be magician who is just starting out which ones would you pick? (unoriginal question I know but given the amount of crap out there it would be nice to have an informed opinion).

1. "Nightside of Eden," by Kenneth Grant
2. "Hecate's Fountain," by Kenneth Grant
3. "Voudon Gnostic Workbook" by Michael Bertiaux

I'm being an asshole. This is a fantastic question. I'll have a real answer and lists, as well as links, to my favorite "101" and "102" books later.

And if any kid survives the three books I listed above, they'll be a god amongst sorcerers. But it's highly unlikely one would survive the process.

Ask me anything

Happy Birthday!

For years, it seemed like the Chaos Magick scene held itself up by its own boostraps across a wide range of websites. There has been, at brief times, flowerings where quite a few of us gathered together to exchange what bits and pieces of information we'd pieced together to our fellows. The first one I really tried to integrate with was Tribe of the 5th Aeon. It's now defunct and long gone. But at the time one of the moderators was one Kara Rae Garland, better known under her alias as Sr. Ceilede.

Kara's poems and things she's written have shown up all across the internet, and she probably has a larger fanbase than I ever will. (Which, for the record, is good.) But what has always struck me in a pleasant way is the fact that she's consistently put herself outside her own “Safe Space” to produce bits and pieces of personal mythology, magick, and mystical thought in a way that I suspect few males could ever come close to doing.

We rarely see eye to eye; we've had more than a few arguments and disputes, and despite all that I've never stopped admiring Kara. The first time we chatted online we somehow began discussing 80's pop tunes – from Duran Duran to Flock of Seagulls and Depeche Mode – and somehow that explains everything I have to say. Anyway, her birthday is coming up. Happy Birthday, Kara! Keep doing what you do, girl. Really.

And since you asked us to find videos that made us think of you, here's two:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"And what are you doing about..."

(Only "real Otherkin" could join the group I pulled this image off of. Ooooo. Spooky.)

I recently received an email asking what I would be doing about those damned Otherkin.

Nothing. I will be doing nothing. Actually, you know what? I may just encourage this. See, you can spot one of them a mile off. It makes spotting people to avoid at conventions and elsewhere that much easier.

Dear teens:
Moar Otherkin. Bring it on! Piss everyone off! I think this is great! You go and proclaim yourself to be half-Elven at the level of the soul! Remember: no elf is complete without lederhosen! And maybe a pair of tights, and why leave out the garter belt?

If you're wondering if I'm discussing Otherkin or Porn Stars... well, I have no idea. Seriously. I'm just making this up so I can be hip with folks half my age, man.

Cyberpunk, thou art avenged!

At last we may reclaim the territory lost to Keanu Reeves! (Trailer in decent resolution!)

Listen. This has nothing to do with what I usually use this blog for. But. I am so down for a sequel to Tron.

Also: more Goth girls in Glowing Neon Suits please. Thank you, universe.

(Book of Knowledge)... Hahahahaha!

So, I walked into Beer's Books, having been newly paid. Sitting in the 'rare' section was a copy of The Sources of the Faust Tradition, a reprint (for scholars) from the 1936 edition. Sitting next to it was The Book of Knowledge by J.J. Hurtak... I've never heard of the book before. I grabbed Sources and bailed.

I came home, bought some food for VVF, and then settled down for my daily vacuity-meditation time. The Book of Knowledge... um... Intruded upon my meditations and... sang to me. So I said: “You know, it isn't every day a book sings to me. I ought to buy it.”

Guys, this book is on par with the Voudon Gnostic Workbook by Bertriaux. I mean, seriously. I'm not surprised it sings to you, now. It's filled with crazy!!! To quote:
23. These grids are also incarnation grids which are part of a lattice network of spiritual embodiment throughout our location in the universe.” (P. 309, Key 215)
“23. For behold, the field is white and ready for harvest and when you give your life to the harvesting on this planetary station, a greater ionization becomes your body, and your new body of Light is connected with the galactic thresholds of the House of Many Mansions which is the deliverance of all manner of flesh.” (P. 173, Key 118.)
“23. Enoch explained this transfiguration from the level of physical creation to the Christ Light as a laser-like projection of human consciousness through its pyramid of creation, This pyramid fuses the color codes with the geometries and dyes of the Eye of Horus so as to create a new specie in the image of the Lords of Light and the Christ Race. This new being proceeds out of the dyes of the Eye of Horus according to the edge detectors and the sense detectors necessary to live in new chemical environments on other planets.” (P. 290, Key 213.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Hoodoo Factory and Astrology courses

I've known two of these folks for years. I'd ended up writing in the Sutra of the Poison Buddha with them for a bit and had even chatted with Austin (Baron Samadhi) when Irreality was still a major occult hub.

Anyway, Austin Cappock is starting his next round of basic astrology courses, and for those interested if you send him an email at: "austin(at)hoodoofactory(dot)com", with the title "Jack Faust sent me," he'll take $10 off the top of the class fee. Class prices are at:
In-person at the Hoodoo Factory $108
‣Distance via the Internet $78
‣Only recordings $54

This is just for the generic courses, for full six month periods Austin charges:
‣In-person at the Hoodoo Factory $500 (Value of $648)
‣Distance via the Internet $350 (Value of $468)
‣Only recordings $250 (Value of $324)

You can view his astrology column here if you're curious as to whether to trust the man or not.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On Behalf of the Black Brotherhood!

(Title: Der Liebeszauber, Artist: Anonymous)
This entire entry may be summed up as: “Non Serviam!” You may now dismiss it with impunity!

On Behalf of the Black Brotherhood

It should be prefaced that these thoughts are my own only. That they in no way reflect a larger community insofar as there may be. None the less, I've occasionally felt pressured to venture my opinion on various matters.

It is not my place to stand in judgment of my fellow man most of the time. For the most part, I keep to the Golden Rule. I don't do to you – most of the time – what I don't want done to me. This keeps me from feeling guilty about things. I don't enjoy feeling guilty, and so as a matter of simplicity, I don't do things I suspect that I might regret. Now, if I become emotional about things... That's an entirely different matter. In acknowledgment of this factor, I do my best to try and see when others also become emotional and irrational. I assume we all do it. And that there isn't anything wrong with it.

That said, I also clearly have ideas of my own and occasionally voice vehement statements of disagreement. These statements occasionally lapse into vitriol, as well. I don't usually apologize for it. I recognize vitriol as something inside myself that I actually enjoy and so I keep it to myself. I'm of the mind that we'll never kill all our vices, so I propitiate a few. The things that actually drastically affect me, I work to change.

But none of this indicates morality of any sort. It is all rudimentary ethics. So while I may live by a code, I will never adhere to the strict standards that some demand. Ayn Rand fans and Theosophists have united together in a mutual loathing of my person before.

I dislike feeling like I must lapse into apology when others demand it of me. That domain of the populace which attempts to sanitize the very world we live in drives me insane. I do not believe in duality. There is no cosmic war of good versus evil in my world. I do my best not to perpetuate harm onto those I care about, I willing to directly confront those who might harm my family, and I pretty much ignore everyone else.

I am selfish. I am prideful. I am a heretic to the foundations of the culture I was raised to believe in. I am a heretic in the eyes of those Scientific Rationalists who consider my belief in Deity as literal and real as being 'ignorant'. I am keenly aware of these as factors in my existence. Therefore, with the exception of small online blogs which gain scant attention, I am very quiet. I interact with few and I consider my existence as being a part of the joy of solitude. Even amongst others, I am alone in my thoughts. On rare occasions I manage to break this solitude. A connection is formed. A bond. An event.

I practice magick. Not to gain enlightenment, as if such a thing were a race. I consider enlightenment a byproduct of the process. I must acknowledge that some knowledge is transferred into wisdom, and therefore change within the self occurs. That there is a process of sacrifice. That nothing is gained by nothing done. But I do not desire unity with the Universe as a whole. Or the cascading light of transcendence to dance upon my brow. If it happens, it happens. I consider worrying over this trivial.

I have been told that such thoughts clearly make me evil. Not so long ago a fellow I'm enjoying getting to know told me: 'I like you, given what you represent. And what you represent is, well, evil. But it's a very tolerant evil.'

Why, thank you. I smiled. I wasn't very insulted although I don't see myself as evil. If evil is harming someone (note: not hurting someone) simply because you can, then it is a very rare occasion when I perform an act of evil. I consider worrying about what someone else might or might not do to be a waste of my time. Silly Chao-Kids want to try and unbind the Goetia from their bottle using shamanic, drug fueled rampage rituals? I'll just sit back with a bucket of popcorn, thanks. That shit is hysterical if you have no personal involvement. I'm not concerned.

People spend all this time worrying themselves sick over the 'karma' of money magick, or condemn sorcerous practices as if what they think matters. Right now, just down the street and unknown to you, a huge mass of individuals are performing curses for clients and they aren't white. Don't disdain their practices because you think you are some how 'above that'.

I treat with equal derision those who would white-wash entire subjects and try and force their opinions on others as those who remain willfully ignorant. If the world is awash in trickster deities, then they serve a purpose. If you can distinguish 'function', you can possibly make knowledge useful. Fire must be stolen from the gods. Sometimes man has to do it; other times, those things which have deigned to aid and abet him. Nonetheless, if I believe the world is awash with gods, it would be hypocritical to not acknowledge Yahweh. Yes, he demands my personal obedience. But I'm a bastard, and we don't do what we're told. So, I sold my services out to someone else. I figured: why not put my influence in the court I agree with?

Who those figures are is my business. Not yours. Just like it isn't my business if your work backfires. The easiest way for money magick to backfire is for you to reify your status as an insurance beneficiary. This is common knowledge. What we do follows the path of least resistance, and so sorcery comes with a Monkey's Paw caveat where you must be able to determine where you want your power to fall. On the other hand, being overly precise means nothing will happen as there isn't a large enough avenue for most of us to create a possibility for us to manifest. Sorry, guys, it just comes with the territory.

As such: everyone makes a lot of mistakes. The more rigid your thought process is, the less magick you will actually be able to perform. That's caveat number two: we are what we think. We believe what we think. If you cannot think it, you cannot use it. As such if you determine everything to be 'black magick' then you have overly limited yourself.

But if you aren't wise in what you seek to do, you may also get kicked in the face by the universe as a whole. It happens. You dust yourself off. If you've grossly fucked up and someone got hurt, you apologize. You do your best, hopefully, not to do it again. Or to discover what went wrong.

One needs no “Three-Fold Law” mysticism to employ these thoughts. No Good Guy badge necessary. I am not a monk. I enjoy sex. I consider intoxication a glipse of divinity. And oh, what forms of intoxication there are! My favorite is hilarity.

I may emulate those I admire, but I recognize them as human beings. Often deeply flawed. I don't think this means they're mired or evil. I have probably done just as bad if not worse. None the less, I do not have a police record. I pay my taxes. In fact, the Federal government owes me money. As I was too lazy to demand they give it back last year. But that is my fault, and my problem. It means I'm slightly irresponsible, but most of the people I know who run around trying to be 'a proper adult' are deluding themselves. I do not drive. I prefer to walk. If I need to be somewhere on time, I will take the bus or catch a ride. I do my best to offer compensation for gas when others will take it. I've found they sometimes decline the offer, which occasionally bothers me. Yes, I could drive. And soon I may well have to occasionally, but what I'm saying is, I generally dislike the process altogether.

I make more an hour than most people do right now. This is countered by the fact that I have a maximum of four hours a week at present. And sometimes, there just aren't clients. I get by. I don't complain much about it. I could always have more money, enjoy more things. But it isn't a priority and I'm not going to pretend to anyone else that it is.

I do not fret over the relative feelings of many people. My criticism can be a bit acidic. This is counter-balanced by the fact that I do try to keep from insulting those I wish to continue in dialogue with. Being polite is always, well, a decent thing to try and do. However, if someone inspires my loathing I will openly tell them that I think they ought to shut up. I am quite biased. If I find something useful, I will keep using it. What you say is largely irrelevant.

There are plenty of people I could apologize to, but I don't most of the time. It would take admitting I was wrong and sometimes I find myself genuinely unable to do so. I'd rather know I was wrong, and refuse to admit it to you. I recognize this as a flaw and I try to work on it. But it doesn't always work.

What I am saying is, I try to make my selfishness useful. And while others may pretend to altruism, I rarely do. That said, I say what I say for free. Because in this manner what I say is more easily dismissible. 'Oh, he's just a kid on the internet.'

Getting published would mean a wider light shined on me, and I honestly prefer the shadows. When I make something up, or dress something up, I am largely only answerable to myself. Because this format is that of a 'throw-away' format. I am not a scholar. I am not a reconstructionist.

I abhor and treat as anathema ascetics. But I do not expect anyone else to think similarly. The fact that I find something pretty is enough to make just about anything 'special'. I do not think I am ungodly powerful. I will not be discovering my 'Word of the Aeon!!!' anytime soon. I don't need such trivial things to justify my pursuits or considerations. I do not advise anyone to follow me. I will not teach you a goddamn thing in person, and do not ask. Ever. What I write is free, and what I choose to bequeath is my own decision.

If I am in a foul mood and you email me asking for a love spell, I may actually write one up for humor. It would be precise and well written. Perhaps pulled wholesale from a book on my shelf. But I would change the end. At the tail end of the ritual/spell, I'd advise you to take a lit candle and let the flames 'lap your genitals as your desire laps upon the thought of another'. Then I would follow it up with these words: 'That is called pain. Hopefully upon understanding it, you will not ever ask me about this subject again.'

As such you might say I am a bit cruel. But I don't kick puppies. And I treat my cat like he's my friend most of the time. All I have to ask is, 'what do you think you are doing?' and he will cease and desist that activity most of the time. But he is not my fucking 'familiar'. Sure, I've seen him cast 'spells' and turn otherwise matronly and businesslike women into cooing little girls. I have witnessed it first hand, and if that isn't magick, I don't know what is. But I do not think he's going to be getting me a second job any time soon, or that he needs a frickin' altar.

It has been asked by at least one fellow: 'Just how much real power do LHP magickians get? What happens to them in the end? Do they stay devoted to the infernal powers or do they move on? If they move on, how is their mental state - are they capable of functioning within society?'

Now, to make it clear, he isn't talking about me. He's talking about actual and complete idiots. But it is a question that I can answer: the relative 'power' of any practitioner of magick, regardless of what they practice, is reflection of their a. Talent, b. Luck, c. Dedication, and d. Alliances. If we take 'knowledge' as a form of power, then having access to ever-greater resources of knowledge is then as necessary as a personal understanding of theory, the capability of enacting it, and just plain Luck. The second question is a bit unfair, since it assumes any given person that considers themselves 'Left Hand Path' has in fact allied themselves with a given set of deities. But he's talking about Satanists, and my answer isn't very frankly Satanic insofar as the Church of Satan would be considered.

In my case, I devoted myself to powers which represented liberation. I want to take a moment to point out that while 'Satan' isn't a concern of any Neo-Pagan (unless they've incurred Samael's wrath), we have sidestepped the question of conflict. A better question would be: 'Are any of my gods willing to place themselves in opposition to another?'

Anyone well versed in any number of mythologies will quickly discover that many Deities have had conflicts before. And even at the most rudimentary level, ideas are in constant competition. So even if we reduce everything down to psychological materialism – which I do not believe in – there is still conflict. Be it the Trojan War, or Loki and Odin getting into a fight, the entities that exist in the universe don't always get along.

Why are we white-washing this? Why are we treating the subject like it's a big taboo? I'm sorry that you live in Suburban America where unless you're seen as an 'Upstanding Citizen' your neighbors might spy on you. But that isn't my problem. I didn't put Lucifer in Aradia. But the name is there anyway, whether you like it or not. And look, when it was written (whenever that actually was), the author quite clearly was choosing the name Lucifer for a reason. And was clearly well aware that St. Jerome had equated the name Lucifer with the Devil. Nonetheless, even at a certain level of subjective conjecture, one is aware that his inclusion is a form of rejecting the popular mythology of the day. Who wrote it doesn't so much matter as if it's useful. If it isn't useful to you? Put it away. But don't pretend it doesn't exist. Or that to some we aren't practicing a form of heresy.

Some Christians are not very stringent in their views on religion in general. They will embrace you and at least be civil to you. Others are batshit insane. Learn to spot the latter. Avoid them like the plague. That's all there is to it. I've found a good, fixed and cold stare makes most people want to just leave you alone. It may be impolite, but it saves me a lot of trouble.

Witchcraft involves a lot of things that make a lot of folks uncomfortable. But it isn't our place to worry about something unless it directly involves us somehow. Go blow up all the covens you want with curses. Make sure to avoid mine, and we probably won't have a problem. It isn't my concern.

What is my goal? The endless return. See, I figure... This world is my playground. I came here for the infinite variations and changes. I will return anew. Nirvana? Fuck that shit. I've single seconds in time as my moments of Paradise. And I experience more all the time as I get older.

I am a Shark riding the waves in an Ocean of Desire. Who could ask for more than this?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Agathos-Daemon and the HGA

“The Single Supreme Ritual is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel... Any deviation from this line tends to become black magic. Any other operation is black magic.
- Aleister Crowley, Book Four (Part III, Chapter 21)
Recently, I discussed the Headless One ritual (see Notes on the Stele of Jeu) a bit. As such a friend went out and tried it and reported feeling “weird.” Which, I responded, was about on par with how one feels after the first round of doing the ritual. But I felt that there was a bit more to say in regards to the Agathos-Daemon and the Holy Guardian Angel, and a few things in between.
The words 'Daemon' and 'Genius' quite literally meant spirit in the ancient world. Today, the term daemon is enshrined in the English word demon (which indicates a “bad” spirit to most people), and genius simply means someone that is brilliant in terms of intelligence. The latter came to apply to the modern individual's lexicon due to the awe high intelligence evoked in others, and most people don't spend much time thinking about either. When most people say the word “genius,” they rarely consider that they're describing an individual who has an almost preternatural intelligence or spirit that guides and aids them. Likewise: very few people understand the different between a daemon (spirit) and a demon (evil spirit) and how it came to pass that the term essentially became interchangeable.
When the Greeks discussed Daemons, they were often referring to spirits that existed in their own world, but a world that sat side by side with our own. It is this that I mean when I refer to ideas like a daemonic level of reality. In the classical world everything had a daemon or guiding intelligence attached to it which could, if one knew how, aid and abet the happenstance of everyday life. Every plant, animal, rock, person, ocean and mountain had an intelligence in the spirit world that governed it.
When discussing his own Daemon, Plato called it “Genius.” I want to make a point that is a very shocking difference from how this factor is often discussed in college classes: Plato meant he had a very literal spirit which whispered in his ears and aided him in his attempts to understand the world around him. He was not, as one Professor tried and failed to convince me, calling himself smart. He didn't need to. Instead he was paying due reverence to a friend and ally. It is most likely from this that the Romans adopted the use of the term Genius.

By the fall of the Roman Empire (440 CE or so), the Mystery Schools had fallen into disrepair. It was during this period, after Constantine's conversion to Christianity in 319 CE, that they made a few of the gambits which would in the end destroy their standing within the Empire. One of these was returning to the old way of literal living sacrifices to their gods. By 430 CE numerous reports appear of the Mystery Schools of Magna Mater (“The Great Mother”), Isis, Hecate, not to mention Mithras (“The Light of the World”) and Sol Invictus (“the Unconquerable Sun”), had resorted to living sacrifice. We have engraved plates showing exactly the sort of initiation one might have faced: a living bull would have it's head ripped off with a sword designed just for this sort of sacrifice, and then the head would be lifted above the initiate. Blood and ichor would 'baptize' the initiate of the would-be mystery school, and they were advised to open their mouths and tilt their head upwards so that if the 'life-blood' of the beast wished to enter their lips, to be gulped down, then it could.
Meanwhile, Christianity was making more headway than the Mystery Schools that would oppose them. For almost 100 years after Constantine made Christianity the major religion of Rome the newly enshrined Catholic Church worked hard to place itself on solid footing. It wasn't a very easy task: they faced the Arians, who while Christians, had been declared heretics to the Church at the First Council of Nicea. The disciples of Arius were everywhere, and so the pagans were generally ignored most of the time during this period. If they did notice the pagans, they seem to have been content to blaspheme their gods: such as when the wife of Stilicho entered the temple of Magna Mater, with the Roman Emperor, and took the Goddess' necklace, which had sat on the altar for hundreds of years, from its idol.
Still: certain blows were struck, which most likely were never even intended to be blows. In 385-87 CE, Ambrose of Milan found himself in a rather tight spot. He'd opposed the Arians extensively in his career before the event I'm about to describe, but he couldn't have imagined that an Arian Roman Emperor would sit on the throne during his own time. Facing strict opposition, and having been ordered to leave Milan, he managed the impossible. Roman troops had sat outside his church's door for months, waiting to expel the anti-Arian Bishop should they get the chance. Ambrose claimed he came across a pair of 'early Christian' martyrs. The red bones were brought out to be displayed to the faithful, and while the procession was under way a blind man stumbled over and brushed the tattered clothing that was left on the ocher painted bones. He immediately claimed he could see again. In the wake of this event, two things happened...
First: the Emperor no longer had the support of the populace to remove Ambrose from Milan, and so the Roman troops withdrew from where they'd camped before Ambrose's church.
Second: within months, all over the Roman hillsides, small 'shrines' were found with 'Christian martyrs' and all manner of reverence began to be paid by the farming and lower-class populace of Rome to these places. This displaced the pagan practice of working with the Genius Loci, as there was now a 'Christianized' form of the same practice introduced across a broad spectrum of Europe.
So... Who were Ambrose's martyrs? If they were indeed painted in Red Ocher, I'd suspect that they were probably some form of Germanic dignitaries. I say this because the tribes beyond the Rhine often used ocher in their own burials. But I cannot say anything for sure. They most assuredly were not Christians, however. And so we have the Genius Loci evenly displaced from popular conception (except where the learned would later read about them) by 487 CE. The rest were, really, only a matter of time after that.

This returns us to the Agathos-Daemon and the Holy Guardian Angel at last. What I hope to show here is how nebulous one concept is – with a firm basis derived from the Agathos-Daemon – contrasted by the semi-solid set of ideas the other has.
Above the daemon level of reality was the Agathos-Daemon, or Good Daemon. While other daemons were more or less natural and might very well ignore an individual, it was the Agathos-Daemon's role to aid and abet them directly as a personal companion. It is this mythological being that is the basis of the Holy Guardian Angel insofar as most modern practitioners of magick might be concerned. By 532 CE, Psuedo-Dionysius (or someone claiming to be him) had already wedded the idea (while completely ignoring any Pagan origins whatsoever) to that of a Guardian Angel.
But here's the problem: the Agathos-Daemon was a singular being. Once one had made friends with it, they would always have it as a friend. It was a constant, singular force. The Guardian Angel, on the other hand, is a specific type of entity. Not a central figure, but rather one which was attached by the 'Christian God' to an individual at birth. You need not do anything to gain its influence, unlike the Good Daemon.
So: do we all have the same HGA, or do we each have our own? If you ever want to drive a Ceremonial Magician utterly insane, bring up what I just said above and watch them sputter about trying to explain what they think to you. It really is quite funny! The actual answer is: it doesn't matter. They both provide the same level of influence and knowledge.
So why do I stick by the Agathos-Daemon versus the Holy Guardian Angel? Because of how The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage ends. After gaining their HGA the magician then turns his baleful eyes towards Hell. And, with his new found companion and the rock of his spiritual strength, he descends into Hell in an inferno of destruction.
I, um, have no desire to do that. If you do: well, hey. It's traditional. But I have better things to do with my time than nuke Hell with my HGA. And the Agathos-Daemon doesn't always seem to be down with it, either. At least in my experience.
How does one acquire the Agathos-Daemon as a companion? Well, Betz's tome has two rituals for such a thing. One is the Headless One ritual. The other is the very first ritual in the book and involves shaving all the hair off one's body and setting a table for two. You then perform a lengthy rituals, sit down and feast with your daemon. (Who, I suppose, turns up for some chow.)
The second is the Headless One Ritual. One is certainly invoking the Agathos-Daemon, as I've noted before. However it makes no mention of whether or not it might have assented to being one's companion. But not to worry!
For this we have an entire book by Morton Smith devoted to nothing less than what is involved with the process. The Headless One ritual would be prepared as usual. And afterward, the practitioner would 'await a sign from the gods'. The book is titled Jesus the Magician and I believe it just re-entered print. One of the things Smith does is compare side by side the Headless One and the claims of Christ in the New Testament. He devotes a ton of attention to the omenic sign that would mean one has become the son of a god.
Since I've written a ton so far and people generally dislike my huge entries, I shall end this one here with a small note: take a walk after doing the Headless Ritual. You may be surprised by what happens...
A dove may fly down from the sky, and you may then discourse with it knowing that a god has chosen you as their son or daughter. Stranger things have happened, no?