(Azazel. Credit here.)
Before I even say anything else... I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Fr. POS for reasons he's well aware of, but hasn't said anything about. Grats, dude. (And that's all I can really say about that; and no, this part has nothing to do with his HD.)
Also, I promised some people Talismans because I was handed a novel way of giving them to others without incurring a direct link. … Being that when they choose to activate the talismans, they break the link. Jesus, that technique is useful! Mmm. Stolen goods just taste better. Ahem. I mean...
Well, I picked up two $1 “gold” U.S. Coins that I will quite literally deface this weekend and get those first two out asap. Most likely on Sunday. Because Saturday is not so good for the luck charm, at least. Moving along...
(Von Stuck's Sensuality.)
“The landscapes you work also work you.”
Before you go about plunging into the Astral depths, keep this in mind at all times. When you start doing “astral workings” and what not, what you need to remain aware of at all times is that the symbolic contents they entail are going to be boiling in your mind. It's becoming a cauldron, really, and if you aren't very careful then you're going to begin taking on some of these attributes.
This is the blessing and the curse of working with entities attached to specific landscapes, symbols, and patterns. If you can influence them, then they can influence you. Control – as in the idea that you have any at all – is a bit of a misconception. You have very little control, but you might have a lot of influence. These are two very different factors. If you try to control what's going on, you're in for a lot of problems. Because this is home turf for the entities you're going to be dealing with, and some of them might decide to teach you some manners. How would I be aware of this? Gee. I can't frickin' imagine.
One last thing: the more you are at home with certain [EDIT: I'd written city which... actually gives away a bit of where my thoughts come from] entities, the more you work with them... Well, the more they mark you. There really are people that can pick up on such information unless you learn to hide it. On the other hand: most magicians I know are easily blinded by glamors. Which I find very, very funny.
(Von Stuck's Judith. I quite like this fellow's art...)
“Don't break the guidelines unless you know why they've been presented to you.”
I have talked a bit about bad information, specifically from fellows Gordon might say “don't know what they don't know,” but sometimes you're told something by someone in the know and you should take it seriously. There are a lot of “guidelines” (not so much rules; but then they can be inflexible, too) to the science side of the occult. The art/e side is a bit different and the real question is how far you can stretch your imagination, keep your relative sanity intact, and achieve results. As long as these three criteria are accomplished, I see no reason to question most magicians or witches playing hard with the arte. If anything we as practitioners benefit greatly from these experiments as they can open us up to ideas we might never have even fathomed before. The face of thaumaturgy is that of awe or wonder. One might even literally translate it as “miracle work.”
On the other hand, some ideas are just plain stupid all the time. No matter how much of a badass you are, regardless of whether or not you can pull it off: why? I mean, really. Why? I've seen Chaotes on bulletin boards spout bullshit about if nothing's real, then they might as well just walk out in front of a car and test the theory. Good luck with that. Let me know how this little endeavor turns out for you. And I may just say: “I fucking told you so.”
I mock reality all the time. But I don't question things as solid as I. It keeps them from hitting me at 50 or 60 MPH and turning me into a jelly-and-bone roadstain. I consider this a blessing, as I'd like to stick around for at least a bit longer. I figure most other people want to, too.
(Von Stuck's Lucifer. No, seriously...)
“Information and filters.”
So, here's my conclusions as they stand (and I'm sure they'll be reformed or discarded in favor of a better general theory in time):
The astral is “virtual space” which we tend to be able to mentally “access” as it were. Within this space are all kinds of weird shit, and the more you get crazy with it, the more fun it tends to get. Err, I mean. It's all very serious and stuffy. You'd never want to astral project into a quasi-demonic Steampunk version of London in 1880, right? Who in their right mind would want that? Anyway. You could call this “mythspace,” or what-have-you but that's really just convolution things. The major reason that mystical systems focus on specific areas is because the practice of these systems is to involve oneself in that space. And it helps to narrow your focus to what helps or hinders, and how to deal with that. But it's pretty much infinite. There's no crisis in this, either. Ahem.
Evocation is the act of aligning sections of that space, or entities therein, with the macrocosmic world. It helps to be blown out of your mind on drugs, have mastered trance techniques, or have some fumes or a black mirror. Each of these helps for various reasons. But the drugs should just help you access this space and nothing more. I'll... talk about the drug part more in another blog entry or later. I can't decide which. And, um, I'm sorry, sis. I may have left a few helpful details out that you lacked. Eek. I hate saying that.
Invocation is the conjuration of a spirit directly into the magician or witches own microcosm. All manner of horrid taboos are made about what is and is not appropriate by people with nigh Victorian minds and manners. I tend to treat these individuals as inherently toxic, and avoid them regularly. Because slapping them around verbally is pointless.
I tend to distinguish between 'entities', 'egregores', and 'deities'. And I tend to see Deities that have evolved beyond the status of egregores. There's also a few things that... blur the lines. But each of these tend to have aspects which 'extend' into the given landscapes. Tendrils of force or space or some such. It's kind've hard to explain my thoughts here, because the subject matter is pretty convoluted. But entities have the least amount of force or strength, egregores/angels/what-have-you tend to have between double and quadruple that, and deities are mind-blowingly huge. Huge in the way their corpus of myths is huge. Each of these tend to be able to influence us and the world around us as well, as I take it a given that we influence them, too. Some form of exchange, even if it's just discourse, is being done.
So, based on the above, your job is narrow the framework down. What is a ritual doing? Where does it tie into “virtual space,” and what is it meant to bring into your sphere. If you're not asking these questions, you're setting yourself up for a fall later when you get something other than what you intend, and you're not sure why. RO pointed out that even Agrippa was aware of this tendency to me a year or two ago and I was delighted.
The more “open-ended” something you do is, the more open-ended the result will be. The trade-off – if you're doing it right – is that you always get something. But, on the other hand, if all you've said is: “I'd like me an entity,” then all you have is an entity. And if you've deluded yourself into believing “an entity” is always “The Arch-Angel Michael,” then the Ravens of Dispersion shall feast upon your soul while we eat popcorn and laugh. Cruelly.
So. General? Not always good. Specific? Well. What if the entity doesn't respond? What if you don't have the power or symbols to drag it into your desired area of affect? Then you go by 'class'. “This does (insert desire), and so I want something that can help me find or understand (insert desire).”
If you've done this, you have to make a few tests. Most spirits and deities I've worked with have always been willing to Show Off. When I met Hermes at nineteen I asked: “How do I know you are what you say you are?”
I was given two items within four days, each bearing a trade-mark of Wisdom and Trickery. I concluded that I could not be sure it was Hermes, but it seemed to have some of the influential areas that Hermes had. Good enough for me. These are direct omens, and unless things go horridly wrong there's no need to question them. If things do? Well, that's when we go back over things.
Or you may ask for three statements that will verify an entity. You then break these, and the entities name, down into Gematria (I have worked with traditional methods as well as the late Infek BinLaden's Gematria of Nothing) and compare the two. If you can begin finding correspondences between what it does, or it's name, and the statements then you've got a very big clue that what you've done is working.
Consulting an external source that might not be tapping the right 'facet' of a deity, or given entity, is not a very good option. It's better to consult them about what errors you might have made. The validity of the contact, however, can never be rightly made by another. There is always a bit of a leap of faith involved. This is the choice between wielding a sword as the weapon of intellect, or a dagger. I believe Aleister Crowley discussed the issue a bit...
(Von Stuck's Medusa. Same source as above.)
DeusExMachina visited over the weekend and discussed a ritual he'd done only a little bit. One of things we discussed was that he'd juggled no less than five god-forms (I would not try that, but then I'm not an Adept) and it'd left him feeling a bit wrecked physically.
He dropped by again today and discussed what he'd decided with me. The basic issue was a synchronization error. At one point he had to decide whether to break the theatrical aesthetic of the ritual by keeping the godforms anchored to their specific tools and actually swapping them, or to just blaze through it and take a bit of a hit. The choice was to take the hit; this meant that he had to crank up the “microcosmic juice” if you will, and the effort of stabilizing those entities was a bit harder. The residual effect was that of physical tiring and a bit of pain. It was still, however, the best option available at the time.
If you're mixing up the symbols, it's that much harder to keep the virtual space, shell, or entity aligned and you're going to take a bit of a hit. I like to do the Death Posture before such rituals so that I've already taken the hit, and I'm all kinds of ready to rock. Like a dead man. Sometimes this isn't an option, and you'll have to make a choice like the above.
It was a nice way of verifying some of my Operative Theory of Weird Shit, however, and I was delighted to hear about it.
Next: A Beginner's Guide to Backing Your Threats Up. Or something.