Friday, April 30, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked


“There is something else to which we are witness, and which we might describe as an insurrection of subjugated knowledges.
- Michel Foucault,
Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings (1972 – 1977).

In Magick Without Tears, Aleister Crowley writes: “24. Every man has an indefeasible right to be what he is. (Illustration: To insist that anyone else shall comply with one's own standards is to outrage, not only him, but oneself, since both parties are equally born of necessity.)”

One takes this to heart over time; the man is, of course, speaking of a man or woman's inherent right to pursue their True Will. We cannot ever know for certain what this may be: the universe is infinite in the abundance of its paths. However, we can observe certain characteristics of it in what they are. Life marks us. Changes us. Alters us; for good or ill, this process must occur. I speak of all this prior to the man I shall present to the public for a good reason: he's an anomaly. A fucking changeling. A moving, you must understand, monstrosity. And I mean this in the most pleasant way possible: he is an amazement. He is not my peer, he's my brother. And he's overly fond of reminding me of it.

We are not the same person. He lives Across the Pond, in England. (I'll speak of England and his thoughts in a bit.) I live in California. But we are certainly, I think, cut from the same bitter cloth. He is not a bastard; he's something else. Mr. VI is the Hanged Man. There: I said it.

He is by birth, as he attempted to hang himself on his umbilical cord, Od's Man. He belongs to Wodan, and the heathen spirit, because there is no other place for him. Bitter, Nothern cold. Sleet and rain; hail and thunder. By the very nature of his birth and his religious choice, we cannot oppose him because he has found a road to fulfillment of being. By joining with the older and primal, with the other, he's become something else. And he doesn't realize this half the time. You realize, knowing him, that there is such a thing as “guided by providence,” and “blinded by providence.” A world of splendor awaits you if you dance down this path, but it can be a fleeting illusion. Followed by a dangerous plunge into the unknown. A world without borders or boundaries, come to life because you have joined with it, however much you manage to maintain that.

He has spoken of England as a 'psychic Ghostland'. One remembers that the Romans inherited many things from Greece. Amongst them was its demarcation of 'psychic boundaries'. Beyond the borders of Empire and Civilization was the world of myth. And England marked the borders of Rome. It is England that birthed the Golden Dawn; it was England that birthed Wicca, it was England that birthed Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. This is not to say that England is better. The rest of the world has similar mythic states. Our job is just to recognize where something is special. England is, to the Western Mind, the Border. The Ghostland. The place where Barbarians invade; and the place where Empire dwindles before the onslaught of man and nature. Wodan's land, and Lugh's land. They all came to dwell there, in England. VI has a term for that: he calls it “Cold Albion.” And to Cold Albion, and Wodan, does VI belong. Whether he likes it or not.

He's written a bit to be put here, and he's also in Scarlet Imprint's Datura: An Anthology. The thoughts to follow are his gift to you on Walpurgis, the witches', Night. I may be sitting at the seat of power in California, he's writing from Hanging Town, in Cold Albion. It is, I think, a very different but fitting reverence. And all such gifts, on a night like this, are special.

On the other hand: he loves kittens. Tiny, fuzzy felines make the man become a gleeful, bearded child. Having taken the time to present one version, also keep the last part in mind. He loves cats. (As do I.)

***

There's no rest for the wicked.”

How many times have we heard it said, even in jest? No repose, no rest; no refreshment for the wicked. Doomed to wander, outcast and alone until Judgement day when they'll be dumped into the Lake of Fire.

Or maybe it's because the wicked are always moving, never still; always stirring things up. Rabble-rousers with sly tongues and shrewd glances; for yes, shrewd once meant evil too. You can't trust the wicked – they are disruptive – they might do anything because they don't follow the same rules as right-thinking folks.

Let us consider this, this disruption, this breaking apart:

rupture (n.)

1481, from L. ruptura "the breaking (of an arm or leg), fracture," from pp. stem of rumpere "to break," cognate with O.E. reafian "to seize, rob, plunder," reofan "to tear, break;" O.N. rjufa "to break;" see reft). Meaning "abdominal hernia" first attested 1539. The verb is first recorded 1739.

To rob, to reave, to steal; to break, to rend, and to rip; to fracture and shatter. These are all the verbs, the very acts of that which seeks to eviscerate the status quo, the way of the righteous. The maintenance of the system is broken; the flow comes in spurts, then trickles, then finally to nothing, cold and empty.

This is the corpse, the body with its function, its teleology; there is no place in life for it, and it must be disposed of, lest it become rotten and stinking. It has become something which must be treated with reverence and rite, to keep it down, send the soul along the way to its rightful place.

Leave it too long, and the problem becomes obvious; crawling things and foul gasses, pustular fluids full of noxious stench. Bacteria run riot; the flesh writhes with unknown movement, a familiar face now sunken and distorted. Death itself must obey the codified laws, the rta, the Me of the gods, the will of the Regin.

Otherwise it is disruptive, a contagion which by its very existence, by its contact with civilization, threatens to creep throughout the edifice and turn its heart into a pullulating, seething, mass of chaos.

That movement beyond the boundaries is by its very definition, wicked. Certain modes of movement are sanctioned, even expected; death as a narrative, be it as a cessation or transition is merely an extension of the status quo.

I knew I knew you. But you ain't you. You can't be you.[... ]There ain't no coming back. This is the really real world, there ain't no coming back. We killed you dead, there ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back!” - The Crow

To move after that? That is the violation, the disruption. The nails in the horse-shoe, the spear in the side of a crucified man, the stake through the heart, the holy water, the grave goods; the burning pyre, the medical incinerator and the crematorium; all these to guard against the unholy, the disease, the horror.

Resquiat in pace. Please, God.

Don't let him get up again, and make a mockery of life. Don't let the dead walk; our ancestors become displeased with us and the fabric of our society ripped apart by the vengeful, hungry ghosts with their metabolisms that can never be satiated.

The Devil makes work for idle hands – dancing, singing, screaming and howling with music and merriment. The question becomes then, if there is no rest for the wicked, then is it because it is denied to them? Is that peace, that final rest capable of being taken and given like a commodity, like the flow of currency?

Certainly.

But like currency, it is in fact a creature of decree and civilization. As such, those disruptive influences, those veritable thieves, are the ones who take what is not theirs. To them is denied the allotted span; these wolf-heads, snake-men and crow-fiends all.

Death take them, let their graves be unconsecrated; plague victims and lepers kept outside the city walls. Hear then in the night, moaning and groaning; lunatics howling at the moon. Mad, bad and dangerous to know in their furious nature.

Now do you see? The knife-thin grin of the Master of the Wodh in the dark beneath the gallows-tree is gleaming in the dark. Caput Mortuum.

No rest for the wicked – they steal your peace and give you war.

They howl at the moon – scream out so loud with terrible roar.


No rest for the wicked – they dance on their graves

The sound of their laughter – as ceaseless as waves

No rest for the wicked, no:

wicked

c.1275, earlier wick (12c.), apparently an adj. use of O.E. wicca "wizard" (see wicca). For evolution, cf. wretched from wretch. Slang ironic sense of "wonderful" first attested 1920, in F. Scott Fitzgerald.

wicca
An O.E. masc. noun meaning "male witch, wizard, soothsayer, sorcerer, magician;" see witch .

witch
O.E. wicce "female magician, sorceress," in later use esp. "a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts," fem. of O.E. wicca "sorcerer, wizard, man who practices witchcraft or magic," from verb wiccian "to practice witchcraft" (cf. Low Ger. wikken, wicken "to use witchcraft," wikker, wicker "soothsayer"). OED says of uncertain origin. Klein suggests connection with O.E. wigle "divination," and wig, wih "idol." Watkins says the nouns represent a P.Gmc. *wikkjaz "necromancer" (one who wakes the dead), from PIE *weg-yo-, from *weg- "to be strong, be lively."

Strong and lively then, these furious folk whose sheer, unadulterated movement irrespective of condition threatened the status quo. Yet this is not so much a threat as an understanding of the mechanisms of existence. If there be no rest, no safety, then the premises of order – the energies devoted to their maintenance are suspect. The sole notion of death-as-rest is violated; the fact that even death itself moves and that the movements of the gods themselves are essentially doomed to go the way of all things; these evoke extreme horror. A kind of angst which suffuses and supposedly corrupts all it touches.

Is it any wonder then that the movement of the sorcerer evokes this horror by its movement in prohibited spaces and in asocial ways? After all, such movements invoke resources not available to those occupying and engendered by society. These movements are precisely what paints the sorcerer as monster – the only way this is possible, to human eyes, is a pact with the Outside – whether that be blood, rite or simple contagion.

It becomes a living embodiment of what is feared on an atavistic level; the edifice of humanity is rooted in dark soil, reactionary and primal. Civilization as escape from privation engenders dreams of greater capture. Flight becomes a method of escape – routes become designed for maximal speed – as if speed will somehow beat the inexorable pull of gravity; as if humanity runs far enough and fast enough, death will never catch up and the golden age will continue.

This is foolish. Existence is precarious, after all. The sorcerer is always wandering; it has no home, and can never return there. All that remains is survival in spite of the environment and conditions; the knowledge of the restless is one of precision.

From that understanding comes the embracing and mastery of the fury; the awareness and harnessing it to produce maximum affect; a long road to be sure, yet as I write this on the dawning of the day that will shade into Walpurgisnacht, I find myself gripped by that same fury and full of attendant awe.

For it is quite simply a road which I must walk, and though I must do it without walking, the movements sing a song which threads its way through deep, dark lands full of Mystery. Such a path as this demands a way of being which, by its very nature, is unacceptable to all but a few.

Great courage is needed then, this night.

Mr. VI

Hanging Town
@5 am BST – Walpurgisnacht 2010


ADDENDUM:

A German friend of mine, on reading this, pointed out that I had neglected to mention the Wild Hunt/Horde/Host in this discussion. He is quite right, as I'd deliberately attempted to omit them in an attempt to express the ideas in other ways.

Having done so, we shall tackle it in short order; the furious Host is often said to be composed of the souls of the unquiet dead, or those who have performed evil acts. Contact with it is tantamount to contamination.

Contrasted to the agrarian utopia promised by civilization, the Host is a band of strangers:

host (1)
"person who receives guests," late 13c., from O.Fr. hoste "guest, host" (12c.), from L. hospitem (nom. hospes) "guest, host," lit. "lord of strangers," from PIE *ghostis- "stranger" (cf. O.C.S. gospodi "lord, master," Goth. gasts, O.E. gæst "guest"). The biological sense of "animal or plant having a parasite" is from 1857. The verb is early 15c., from the noun. Related: Hosted; hosting.

host (2)
"multitude" 1265, from O.Fr. host "army" (10c.), from M.L. hostis "army, war-like expedition," from L. hostis "enemy, stranger," from the same root as host (1). Replaced O.E. here, and has in turn been largely superseded by army. The generalized meaning of "large number" is first attested 1613.

Evoking the image of palaeolithic hunters, warrior bands, armies; all these are furious things, often led by commanders, tyrants:

tyrant
c.300, "absolute ruler," from O.Fr. tyrant (12c.), from L. tyrannus "lord, master, tyrant" (cf. Sp. tirano, It. tiranno), from Gk. tyrannos "lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler," a loan-word from a language of Asia Minor (probably Lydian); cf. Etruscan Turan "mistress, lady" (surname of Venus).
"In the exact sense, a tyrant is an individual who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it. This is how the Greeks understood the word 'tyrant': they applied it indifferently to good and bad princes whose authority was not legitimate." [Rousseau, "The Social Contract"]
Illegitimate sovereignty then; unlicensed authority; bastards outside of the line of succession and ritualized kingship. The illegitimacy comes from exercise of powers usually ascribed to, or seemingly greater than the 'rightful' ruler. Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews writes – emphasis mine:

Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. [...] He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness.

He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! [...] Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God.


Now, if this simply seems like replacing one status quo with another, you'd be correct in thinking so. The value of Nimrod is not his defiance of YHVH, nor is it his construction of a symbolic penis; this is not simply an issue of genital measurement.

Rather it is that the world of the righteous is not the world of the wicked; that by definition the furious ones are other-worldly, almost a different species. We see Nimrod's 'contamination' of the world of the righteous and the subsequent shift towards another mode of movement – the people are swept up to follow Nimrod's determination.

In the same way, those who are caught up by the Furious Host become part of it – though they were originally of the human world, they become something else. Harriers of the status quo by their very existence; a violation of the world as an enclosed, contoured space with rules that keep it intact.

For the Furious Host admits no rule but its own; the laws of the world of mankind cannot apply to that which is no longer emerging from mankind, but has instead embraced the movement which is not escapist but survivalist.

We do not waste energy trying to escape. Millennia of mankind racing away from death, but the Furious Host survive it. Does this not indicate something?

survive
1473, originally in the legal (inheritance) sense, from Anglo-Fr. survivre, from O.Fr. souvivre, from L. supervivere "live beyond, live longer than," from super "over, beyond" (see super-) + vivere "to live" (see vivid). Survival is attested from 1598; phrase survival of the fittest was used by Spencer in place of Darwin's natural selection. Survivable "capable of being survived" is attested from 1961.

Beyond death, beyond worlds constructed by gods and men. When Ragnarok comes, and the worlds are afire; when gods die and the status quo burns itself out and there is only ash? When Loki Wolf's-Father watches his son's jaws ripped apart and sees something emerge to cast aside the mask of godhood?

When blood-brothers smile amidst the wreckage?

Then the Furious Host rides. Time to go; we have worlds to burn and birth.

“No rest for the wicked.”

- VI

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Walpurgis Night



“Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.”
- Elwood P. Dowd, Harvey (1950)

Its dirty towers glow... I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that has silted into existence at the conjunction of two rivers.”

- China Mieville, Perdido Street Station.

When I start roaming around among these bonfires, I find myself quite put off. Almost all of them stark naked, and only one here and there with a shrift on. The sphinxes utterly indecent, and the griffins brazen too.”
- Mephistopheles,
Faust: Act II, Part II.

***

Walpurgis Night.

In two nights, all across eastern Europe, the bonfires shall be lit beneath the incandescent moon; Luna sitting high in the sky and grinning down at the world as the age-old party kicks into high gear. I've been told by a lovely female living in Slovenia that they still eat, drink, smoke, fuck and make merry as if the “Old Ways” never ended.

In America, the neo-Pagan population tends to favor the more “Celtic” oriented Beltaine. But, as anyone calling themselves Faust ought, I've always favored the more Germanic version. It is on this night that Goethe had the demon Mephistopheles take Faust on a classical thrill-ride to the ancient and half-forgotten battlefield of Pharsalia, where the armies of Greece and Rome thrashed it out over who would become the Empire of a Dying Age. In it, Goethe has the specter of Erichtho say: “Bonfires are blazing red. The soil exhales the shadow of blood once spilt. And, drawn by the rare beauty of this shining night, mythical figures of the Greek world are here in multitude.”

Do you know how to party like the Daemons of Old? It's the last party for the forces of winter, joined by the spirits and powers of spring and summer, before the onslaught of dreaded heat. One last chance to get down and remember, deep inside, stirring atavisms breathing life and death with each swing of the pendulum...

***

The boy emerged from the shadows just beyond the tree-line with a leisurely gait. Still under five feet tall, he was in no way imposing except for the fact that he was there, emerging from beyond and shifting from unseen to seen. Powder blue sailor-suit; well polished black, leather shoes with miss-matched white and black laces, heterochromatic green and blue eyes focused on the path: what is it that walks the path between two pillars into the wilderness just outside civilization?

The dog came before him; like a living shadow, red eyes flickering in the moonlight. It's shape and shadow dwarfed the boy's, seeming to fill the dirt road on which they walked.

Ahead there was a darker and taller form, dressed in all black standing just beyond the place where two roads came together and formed a T-shape. Man in Black at the cross-roads, place where Hermes and Hecate dwell; man with the book. Master of the Tower. He-of-many-names, and many traits, who gives out virtuoso guitar skills and peddles the wares of things past and long forgotten.

No time to chat with He-who-knows-one's-Name; the dog pushed ahead, leading the boy past the looming presence of a very, very old thing. “Glass, where are you taking me?”

Incredibly, breaking all laws of normality, the dog spoke: “Despite the name, you have never seen anything like this before, boss.”

Like what?” The boy asked, perplexed. He could feel the ache of their legs; even in this place, some things remain. Still the Boy-King smirked slightly. Who doesn't enjoy new things?

You'll see. Keep quiet and keep your eyes open for now. We'll be approaching the bonfire soon enough. They've dragged themselves out of the decaying halls of their brughs...” The dog paused, and then suddenly broke from the road, moving into the woods again. The boy, a bit uncertain, followed suit.

The sound of laughter first; and then the glow of the fire lit. The slope of a hill as they ventured up toward the top. A circle of stones; half-fallen, path and roads forgotten. And the forms: the slender, incandescent females, all voluptuousness with their curves highlighted by the fire and bodies filled with an immutable glow; the goat standing on the rocks above them, and the smaller but stockier males. All nude; all gathered and dance around the fires, hand in hand, switching from back-to-back and front-to-front.

Fuck it, Glass, let's dance,” the boy mumbled with glee.

All eyes were turning toward them, then, but the dance hadn't stopped yet. They weren't intruders; they were both there to join in on the fun and everything before them seemed to simply be filled with knowing on that account. Finally the dog spoke again: “Can't dance, boss. But I'll talk to the goat and see if he can help with any of your present tasks...”

***

And now for the profane:

But then, on the other end of the spectrum, is something which does indeed annoy one. A certain sense of superficiality that can intrude on the reverie of the spectacle; a certain sense of the profane that can suck out all the joy from the event.

A friend of mine writes: “It's nearly Beltane - Nothing says 'SPRING IS HERE!' like a bunch of soccer moms dressed in ill-fitting Renaissance Faire costumes, wrapping a giant phallus in ribbons.”

It isn't any of that which bothers me: indeed, the Horned Guy? He almost always sports a giant, raging phallus. It just goes hand in hand with the territory; life and death, and all that. No, no. That's not what irritates me.

It's the way that having a phallic symbol at the center of one's ritual can breed a certain... childishness. Just because we're discussing a phallic symbol does not constitute the need for an individual, sometimes even over thirty years of age, to become reduced to the mentality of a five year old: “Hehehe! Giant penis!”

Nothing is more disruptive to the reverence of such an occasion, be it in a circle or at a larger public event, than that breed of mentality. Having observed it on more than a few occasions in various places, it became evident to me that for some people the point of the occasion was lost. And that point is worship, the acknowledgment of nature and our place in it. The conception of the divine, and pleasurable, aspects of the natura natura (“nature that is born”) and natura naturans (“nature that gives birth”). Over the last century, there has been a tendency towards non-spiritual materialism; the statement of which I mean to imply that our conception of the world being alive and vibrant, rather than a dead husk or shell to be raped and pillaged without end, has faded.

A few years ago I made a presentation at Fresno's Pagan Pride Day about the practices of post-modern magick and the transitions of consciousness, and relativity of sanity, in the practices of such. One of the arguments I recall making (I ran out of ink and couldn't print out what I'd written, so I had to throw some notes down in a notebook and present from that: so I have no idea what exactly I said besides the words “bug-fuck crazy”) was that to embrace magick, and nature as spiritual, was a radical break from the norm that our culture was still struggling to conceive of. In a materialist/rationalist culture you can be assured to be allowed most of the freedom you need to practice whatever religion you wish. That said: the cultural assumptions many of us have been raised with present certain re-occurring issues such as the fact that many people have trouble believing in literal gods, literal spirits, or nature being awe-inspiring.

I consider the practice of religious witchcraft, which is not to say all witchery, to be part and parcel of a quest to understand the divine in the chthonic (of or relating to the earth; earthly, and subterranean), and the atavistic (to throw-back, or re-occurring; to revert to ancestral form – think witch-blood). In this mentality there is plenty of room for humor, but there's much more room for error. If the reverence is broken, then the deed of the day isn't accomplished. And we're out to drag out gods from the past and into the present, so that they might shed light on the paths before us in the future.

So can the penis jokes. Yes, it's a giant fucking cock defying the sky. Get over it and get down, people. There's plenty of room for fun in other ways. It is, after all, a pagan holiday. Plenty of room for the sex, drugs (legal, of course), and rock'n'roll. Or, if you live out in the boonies, at least break out a banjo or slide guitar. The blues and the “mojo,” as they say, go hand in hand.

Be seeing you,

Jack Faust
Child of the Black Sun.”
Sacramento, California. Walpurgis, 2010.

I am not alone!

There is another total badass blogging forth from the Chaosphere of days almost ended. His name is Gordon; his blog is Runesoup, and everyone else has already mentioned it.

That said: I like it. A lot. I think you probably will, too.

Also: he does it better than I. Which means, to any competent Aries, that one has to work on better blog entries.

... Crap. This is actually starting to look like "work"...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm a newbie occultist, may I ask what's your usual method about the Genius Loci business? The "who-what-when-where-why-how". Thanks.

(See my blog for the way this response SHOULD look: vonfaustus.blogspot.com, if unaware.)


(I was asked a question by a beginner about how I find the Genius Loci, and what I do. I actually answered the question, and then formspring had some odd error which erased the question and my answer. Or it's stuck in the digital ether somewhere, and will appear later. Don't ask me, man. The picture is from "geniusloci.co.uk". I love the site. It's very pretty.)

First, and I don't want to sound like an elitist asshat, keep in mind that what I'm about to discuss isn't actually for beginners. I'll highlight the issues you may have to contend with as I progress. Also keep in mind that the process is lengthy; which is why you don't see near constant updates of sigils for the Genius Loci, and so forth.

The first issue was finding the Genius Loci. My primary operative theory in this work is that any active location, in terms of having a fully sentient spirit sitting atop it, is going to be fairly easily revealable. Be it the haunted house down the street that gives you the creeps, or the aging Victorian manor at the edge of town that seems to be filled with mystery. Since the spirit and the place are fundamentally tied together, this should quite clearly make such locations both obvious and subtle. Once you start seeing the locations, it becomes easier to find them.

The problem was how to locate them. I came up with my own trick: wandering aimlessly. As I wandered through the city, I'd crank up the music on my Blackberry and ride the trance out. This isn't, mind you, a full “vision trance” or anything like that. For the most part it involves wandering through the city in a light trance, retaining that trance, and keeping the words: “one of these things is not like the other; one of these things does not belong” running through your head. At least until you start to see what doesn't belong. This isn't exactly the most scientific method.

Realizing this I began doing divination readings on the spot. I'd use my cell-phone camera to take pictures of the street and locale (so I could remember it late), and kept four coins on hand for the divination. I've also brought my Runes with me a few times. The divination technique I like for this is Obi. I like Obi because I can cast four coins on the ground, photograph them, and then continue the reading elsewhere from the first point. To most people it looks like you've just “accidentally dropped” four coins, which when operating in public, is... good. Pull three runes out works too. The questions I normally ask are: “is there a spirit at this location?” “Would this spirit be well disposed to my intrusions?”

After that I hopefully have a few locations to work with. These are normally: parks, old houses, old theaters, and so forth. (There's another method for doing the same thing that's easier, which Ryan Valentine advocates: find out where the oldest buildings in your city or town are. And then go looking for spirits by trying to energize the location with a ritual; this has it's own disadvantages, and I'll discuss it in my forth-coming essay “Seeking Paradise in Exile.” When you'll see that essay is beyond me; the e-zine it was for collapsed before it could get off the ground. But the editor has offered to turn the entire essay into a nice looking PDF for me as soon as I'm done. So it'll be easily in everyone's hands eventually.)

After this what I'm doing stops being accessible to the general public. I'm working with DeusExMachina of the old TIAMAT-L days to narrow down the techniques I use and give them to the public so they can use them. But basically... Eventually, I return to the location. I bring a paper and pencil with me. I settle down and meditate; initiate trance, and then automatically draw a sigil. The technique for automatic drawing I use has been written about by Austin Spare here. To say that this technique is hard is... um, actually, a bit of an understatement. I can't quite automatically draw; I've produced automatic squiggles, and these days they are certainly automatic sigils. Though they don't look quite right.

Following that, I take the sigil home and evoke it into the astral temple. When doing so, I'm always sure to set down a circle in the astral temple. (Beginning to see why I say the process is lengthy?) This is for two reasons: even if my divination attempts on the premise are wrong, I still have a place of shelter. I can test the spirit and gain a name from it while in the astral temple; and the evocation process is easier than it is in real time.


Now that I've made all of that sound easy, here's what can go wrong!

  1. The spirit may attack you.

  2. The spirit may attack you.

  3. The spirit may attack you. Keep an exorcism or banishing ritual on hand. I think I've made that clear enough.

  4. The sigil may not be that of the spirit; it may be from your internal “Alphabet of Desire.” Sorting between the two if you've never worked with either is a pain. Wait for the better, non-automatic technique that Deus and I are working on.

  5. Some locations are harder to initiate contact with than others. When the basic 'meditate and draw' fails, you've got a choice: abandon the location and the potential of it's spirit, or try Incubatio or Incubatic Dreaming in the location. This really only works if it's a park or “open house” though, as most people don't want you sleeping in their yard. I'm working to see if I can activate runes before I do it that stimulate both protection and aid in the contact process. But my handle on the Futhark is, at current, very tenuous. (My apologies! I seem to be lacking where it matters, and full of technique where it doesn't. Blame the “oooooh, shiny!” mentality of Chaos Magick for that.)

  6. You need to know your invoking and banishing pentacles. Seriously. When testing what the spirit says, projecting either the correct or opposite element on them bolsters or disempowers them. This is one of the easiest ways of discovering if it's lying to you or not. The lies normally begin with the elemental plane (and most GL I've found are tied to 'elemental planes' in some way, even if they can't explain to my how) that the spirit exists next to or parallel to. The other lie can be it's name.

There's a lot more, but... I think most people will get the jist of what I've written.

Ask me anything

Monday, April 26, 2010

Names! NAMES! NAAAAAMES!

Do you need a proper "Pagan" pseudonym? A crafty-craft name? Something to inspire fear and horror in every British Traditional Witch you meet?

Look. no. further. The Pagan name generator is here for YOU. And it is, indeed, glorious!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A few minor details.

I owe two spirits, and Jason Miller some thanks for reasons I'm not going to discuss. Jason: one of your books had a single sentence that helped resolve something yesterday. Thank you.

Anyway: the weird entry from yesterday has been edited. I put one of my favorite sections of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus in it. (I also love the section where Faustus discusses what he'd do if he finishes learning to evoke spirits. But that tends to unnerve people when I post it. ... Can't imagine why.)

Lastly: I visited the Hoodoo Factory Launch Party over the weekend. They've got pictures up on their facebook profile (people that become fans will be alerted when/if they throw other parties) and if you look about you might find me in a few... Look for a mass of curly hair and there I shall be...

Friday, April 9, 2010

All Smiles. (Altered.)

MEPHISTOPHILIS: “Yes, Faustus, and most dearly lov'd of God.”
FAUSTUS:
“How comes it, then, that he is prince of devils?”

MEPHISTOPHILIS:
“O, by aspiring pride and insolence;

For which God threw him from the face of heaven.”

FAUSTUS:
“And what are you that live with Lucifer?”

MEPHISTOPHILIS:
“Unhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer,
Conspir'd against our God with Lucifer,
And are for ever damn'd with Lucifer.”

FAUSTUS:
“Where are you damn'd?”

MEPHISTOPHILIS:
“In hell.”

FAUSTUS:
“How comes it, then, that thou art out of hell?”

MEPHISTOPHILIS:
“Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it...”

- Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus.

Via Plutonica.net, Life, and Jez.

Aleister Crowley on Life.com.

Better than being included on a Beatles album cover? Maybe... Maybe not.

Two things.

My last entry generated interest which was mostly shown off this blog, which is fine and cool. One individual asked me what I actually thought about what "witchcraft really is." I consulted Jeffrey Burton Russell's Witchcraft in the Middle Ages and he suggests that to illuminate any discussion on the matter, the best thing to do is show a diagram. So I created my own version based on his. Here it is!:


That said, I also was sent an "open source" copy of the Principles of Wiccan Belief that was discussed at the end. Here it is (the image is large, so I'm just hyper-linking).

My last comment is one that hasn't left me yet: many of the members, by all accounts of what I've seen, of the 1974 Witchmeet/Chicago Witch Conference were not Wiccan, and there are distinct differences between Wicca and Witchcraft that were understood even then. It's curious that the title remained as such to my mind. I also tracked down some comments made by the head of Llewellyn at the time about the event; they'll be in the essay, but it should be pointed out that he claims he chaired the event.

Lastly: I'm getting two different cities as to the locations of the event. One is Minneapolis (Silver Ravenwolf indicates she was there in the documents I've read), and the other Chicago. Which one was it?!

Now then. Back to harassing people who normally wouldn't want to chat with me. hee.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An introduction to an essay and a request.

A bit for you...

Witchcraft, American Style:
1974 and the Chicago Witchmeet.

By: Jack Faust

The Eye of the Storm

They came from all over America with the desire to codify their core beliefs and present a unified front to a changing and evolving world. It was the same year that the Weather Underground or Weathermen released their book Prairie Fire after becoming fugitives.i And on April 3rd and 4th – just a few days before the witch-meet – the weather itself struck a blow that almost feels ominous to examine prior to some of the events this essay will attempt to discuss.

Before the storm of collapse riddled the American pagan community and sent various factions off in different directions, the storms literally gathered across the midwest and east coast of the United States and left three-hundred and seven individuals quite dead, and generated six-hundred million dollars worth of damage. In a period of two days one-hundred and forty eight tornadoes were generated across America; they had been caused by a jet stream with cold air from Northern America, dry air-flow from the Southwest; and a warm, moist stream from the Gulf of Mexico.ii

And so they came in the aftermath of that first Storm, only to generate another albeit far different one. In total it has been estimated that around seventy-three pagans, Neo-Pagans, and witches of all walks of life and traditions gathered in Chicago for the arduous task of finally attempting to resolve their various conflicts and enter into an agreement a unified document which would show the world what it meant to be a pagan, neo-pagan, or witch in the late 20th century.iii That document came to be titled Principles of Wiccan Belief. The event itself eventually led to a fiasco; the very group that was founded floundered in 1975, and was disbanded in that same year. “Unbelievably,” it seems no one could quite agree what it meant to be either a witch or a Wiccan. But the implications were – and remain to this day – far-reaching.

In discussing not only witchcraft but the subject at hand it is perhaps necessary to preface the following thoughts with a few notes that may help those new to the subjects I'm about to discuss better understand both why the desire to come together was so prevalent, and also why it most likely failed. It had occurred to me some time ago that at some point a discussion of this subject should be put forth to the general populace of the occult and neo-Pagan community; not only because I have a vested interest in the flowering of American Witchcraft across the west coast and California, but also because there are actually far-reaching implications which have yet to be fully explored either by historians nor by witches and occultists themselves. As such let me state quite clearly: my personal opinion on the matter is really immaterial when compared to the subject itself. The goal of this essay is to examine the history of Witchcraft in America (and hopefully in later articles: specifically the West Coast), and offer potential points of interest for not only how it has emerged to the populace but both the reality and popular mythology which has come with it.

iii http://www.conjure.com/COG/PrinciplesofWiccanBelief.pdf

And now a request...

If anyone that reads this blog actually attended this witchmeet, or Silver Ravenwolf's that followed it (or were they the same?), I'd love personal descriptions of it, along with personal feelings and so forth. Even if you just tell me what the weather was like, it'd be helpful. The faster I can compile sources, contact those who were there, and then finish nabbing sources, the faster this can be completed and given to the rest of the world to see.

Feel free to email me at: dionysianatavism (at) gmail (dot) com with any relevant information or contacts you think I should get in touch with.

And once again: I'm so not even sticking me foot in the quagmire of Tradition vs. Ecclectic debates. That shit is mostly silly almost all the time. I simply what experiences, facts, and places to sort things. If I have to email Raymond Buckland, Silver Ravenwolf, or Isaac Bonewitz... then so be it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Inevitable Return

VVF and I are back from the City of Angels. We're both a bit feverish and the "great idea" of taking the 12-hour oceanic route down the CA coastline via train wasn't quite as grand, interesting, or restful as had been hoped for. (Hey, you live and learn, right?)

Anyway: it was a great visit, and I (as well as VVF, I suspect) had a great time. I managed to meet a few members of the California branch of the Mayhem boards and they were both quite cool.

Austin managed to convert me over to the Astrological side of the occult fence in a matter of like three days. I realized while there: I don't hate astrology. I just hate most people that talk about astrology. And it's clearly going to be very useful for me to play with, as it introduces the dynamic of movement to the scale of sorcerous intent. Which is, actually, something I think I've been lacking for far too long.

The Valentines are both fucking cool. But you all should know I think that, by now.

If you're in the LA area and need some juju folks to rig the deck for you: you can't go wrong by giving them all a visit.

Finally, they threw up a video of Austin talking about Mars. Enjoy!


EDIT: I forgot to add... I picked up Ann Finnin's The Forge of Tubal Cain while in LA. I'll be reviewing it later this week, and I have almost all good things to say about it (for the most part, at present).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dancing Between Raindrops



We are born of stone and etched by wind.
Cast aside to live or die; we are the pawns in our own game.
Like refugees of silent wars, we step on ever-shifting ground.
Promoting what we undermine.

For countless days we walked alone,
Directionless and vulnerable; sitting targets wearing smiles...

We lie embraced in the arms of Dawn, the fading echoes of pointless time...
- Assemblage 23, Anthem.

We are what we think; this sounds obvious enough to just about anyone that spends some time laboring over the consideration of it. What we can conceive of, what we can describe in abstract thought or otherwise, depends on having a meaningful way of describing it. If I do not have language to describe a thing, then I will probably never spend any time considering it for very obvious reasons.


There is a specific “magic,” illusory and often forgotten in the mire of daily life, to language. In the Beginning there was the Word, and the Word was God. And from the Word, the Logos, came the Mythos. From singularity into multiplicity and back into singularity again. Round and round the tangle goes; and where it ends: no one knows.


I knew this magic instinctively as a child. I learned to read late; shifting school districts and towns, from poor areas and then 'up' into the lower middle class, meant that different techniques for teaching reading were given to me, but no specific space of time to understand it. But I knew, and remember, wanting to read. I knew that inside books were fucking worlds. And that I was denied those worlds, which everyone else took for granted and which made me seem so stupid and insignificant, and this was something I would not abide.


One day it all clicked together. From children's books – Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears – to Tolkien in the span of a month. The same pattern was repeated with mathematics; I couldn't quite understand what I was being told, and then suddenly it all came together and revealed itself. I cannot describe what the experience of having that happen, but I can happily remember expressing it to several teachers: “It just clicked.”


I had learned one more tool, too, which was patently taboo for any child to begin using: I learned to lie. I learned that those around you will easily underestimate you, and that gives you an advantage. And so in the same year I read Hamlet, just after my first decade of existence, I was given an IQ test to determine if I was mentally retarded. My access to thought-worlds and mathematics, easily dividing fractions and multiplying things inside my mind, had been hidden by a series of lies: “I can't do that. I don't understand.”


This had occurred for two reasons:

  1. When I'd finally learned what I'd lacked and realized I could read or multiply or divide things that many people cannot accurately do in their minds, and early on, I was either told that I “couldn't” do it.

  2. Or it was assumed that due to the fact I'd been slow to master simple techniques, I'd instead learned to cheat. (I had in fact learned to cheat; but it was far more fun not to cheat, be accused of it, and then demonstrate your teacher's ignorance.)

This sounds like rationalizing bad behavior, namely my own. And it is. I do not feel guilty for my actions in my formative years; if anything, there is a lasting desire to question anything handed to me from figures of authority who presume to know “better” both about other individuals, and the world in which we exist. This hostility towards hierarchy is in fact a bit of a flaw and something it's taken a long time to deal with so I can at the very least maintain the necessary functionality when contacting the rest of society. Other people respect authority figures and invoke the weight of status, often without even realizing it. Every time you read the words: “eight out of ten doctors agree!” status and power of a conscious type has been invoked. Those who have access to concepts and ideas we do not have an advantage over us in that we need to rely on them. This isn't a bad thing. This is the way our society functions, but it has drawbacks. For example: the birth control versus religious belief debate that has emerged in the medical profession during the last decade. Even though these doctors have access to privileges, ideas, and information we need, they might deny it to us if they disagree with it on seemingly fundamental basis that topples when examined from the outside. But from the inside, inside their own minds, they can easily justify it on religious grounds.

I had to pull out of the debate I'd tried to spark with Peregrin recently because I was getting dangerously close to resorting to ad hominem verbal attacks. This would have done several things (two of which being):

  1. It would have undermined my position as a 'rational equal'.

  2. It would have re-doubled the 'moral position' of my opponent, by showing them to have acted rationally while I had become flummoxed and verbally irate.

I was well aware of these factors, semi-consciously at least, and had stumbled into the back yard to have a cigarette and re-think my relatively angry and irate commentary so that it might be less antagonistic, while also embodying what I wanted to say. I did not, in fact, come to the “spiritually advanced” conclusion of this. The universe, sensing my desire (or so I might conveniently say, inspiring mystery for the purpose of just that and because it's fun), gave an according response. The electrical circuit that my computer is running on got overloaded (hey man, it's an old house) and my comments were erased from existence. I typed up another entry instead of responding to the debate, using my time constructively and humorously instead. I seem to have been rewarded for this in that the issue that flummoxed me has now actually been resolved and data has come into my possession, ironically just due to the chance desire to start reading a new and interesting book, which resolves it quite nicely.

What Peregrin had said was this: “Before accepting that practical works as a consistent method I would like to see a social group, like Wiccans, show how it works in a tangible manner. If you know of a series of surveys that shows this, please refer me. I take it you are aware of Tanya Lurhmann’s work showing how magicians of all stripes alter their reality to believe practical magic works?”

What he'd done was invoked the authoritative status of one Tanya Lurhmann. You may or may not know of her work; in the late 1980s, as a result of her doctoral thesis in Anthropology, she published a book titled Persuasions of the Witches Craft. The desire she'd expressed was to study how, in an age of rationality, people could come to believe magick might be real, and that spirits might exist... To explain it she introduced a term: interpretive drift. The basic idea is that using a wide range of potential interpretations, the believer 'deludes' (though not in such explicitly condemning terms) themselves into believing they are right. This is, of course, one of those invoked powers that is hard to contend with. At the time I went with what I knew; I noted that in a very brief two pages of the book Lurhmann concedes that interpretive drift can and does work both ways and cites examples of where she'd presented with experiences she couldn't understand or conceive of, and so she “explained them away” intentionally.

Of dear Tanya Lurhmann, a Dr. Ronald Hutton, Ph. D., has quite a bit to say. (See? I just invoked my own status figure, a rival “academic God” or “linguistic sorcerer” who has similar status and features to one Tanya, excepting of course that he is a historian.) In his Witches, Druids and King Arthur he devotes an essay titled Living with Witchcraft. The essay is about his experiences writing the excellent Triumph of the Moon. (I have recommended Triumph a few times before, but let me do so again: this book is worth reading for anyone interested in magick and the 20th century, not just witches and wiccans.) In it he discusses the framework for social anthropology that existed in the Ivory Tower, the framework that Tanya Lurhmann and others used to come to their published conclusions. This framework was characterized by the anthropologist becoming a “social actor” and donning the “guise” of their subject, but to show objectivity was expected to be shed after:

By the 1980s this approach was producing some notable successes. David Hayano, writing about poker players in American society, recorded that 'after several years I had virtually become one of the people I wanted to study.' Liza Dalby, examining the culture of the geishas of Japan, worked as one herself until she learned how to behave and think automatically as they did. The most relevant work of this sort for scholars of witchcraft was Jeanne Favret-Saada's account of traditional beliefs concerning bewitchment in the countryside around Mayenne in western France, published in French in 1978 and translated into English in 1980. She stated roundly that in the nexus of witchcraft beliefs 'there is no room for uninvolved observers.' In order to understand them properly, she had to engage in them, by being taken for and behaving like a betwitched person herself, befriending those who thought themselves similarly afflicted and seeking relief from local 'unwitchers'. In 1990 Favret-Saada reconsidered the implications of her research and reinforced them, with the declaration that 'participant observation is an oxymoron... If I tried to observe, that is to keep my distance, there would be nothing left for me to observe.' The new orthodoxy declared in all this work was that the anthropologist had to 'go native' in action and thought; but not to stay native. Dalby did not remain a geisha, while Favret-Saada never took up the work of an unwitcher herself and never adopted a literal and personal belief in witchcraft. The ideal was now that the anthropologist should assume a cultural role like an actor taking on a part, and then shed it when the work was done... It was to this ideal to which Tanya Luhrmann felt obligated to adhere...”

By the end of the decade some practtioners were already starting to realize that it had weaknesses which made it questionable in virtually any conditions. One was that it retained the assumption that the beliefs and attitudes of the people studied were valueless in themselves, and that the anthropologist would accordingly suffer no loss in shaking them off at the end of the project. The second was that it turned the researcher into a form of impostor, an undercover agent for a different culture who acted out membership of a group before leaving it and throwing off the disguise. This aspect of Luhrmann's own work was, it may be remembered, criticized explicitly by a professional colleague, Katherine Ewing, in 1994. Ewing included this specific expression of doubt in a general attack on the philosophy of research which underpinned Luhrmann's approached: 'By creating a blind spot, by placing a taboo around the possibility of belief, anthropologists have prevented themselves from transcending the contradictions embedded in a situation in which the imposition of one's own mode of discourse interferes with the project of representation.' More bluntly, she declared that 'the taboo against going native results from a refusal to acknowledge that the subjects of one's research might actually know something about the human condition that is personally valid for the anthropologist: it is a refusal to believe.*'” (P. 285-287)

By placing a value judgment on experience, specifically types of experience, it becomes easy to refuse to acknowledge them. This is readily enhanced by not having the conceptual and symbolic tools to create a framework in which you might move and understand what you might be looking at. By assuming that the claim of spirits and magick was invalid, Tanya Luhrmann was forced to find another means to express the claims that the “witches” she was encountering made. This rested on the fundamental assumption that they were deluded, and by acting like she was one of them, she had them conceptually arm her so as to bring about the destruction of the things they claimed mattered to them. This is of course clearly hostile to any salient study of a subculture by an anthropologist, and not much different from the social assumptions that ironically led to a resurgence in interest in witchcraft itself.

In order for my claims that thaumaturgy, like the rest of magick, actually worked to appear debunked, Peregrin mimicked this position of authority. One would have to produce Empirical Evidence. I noted that this was showing a value judgment, as the same things can't be shown when one is discussing Mageia. I cannot empirically prove the Genius exists. No man can, and he agreed with this stance. Nonetheless what followed was that if we claim to “influence” the world we have to show it; the same way, one begins to think, that you'd “show” it if the influence was microcosmically. How? By being very considerate. A very kind, very spiritually assisted and uplifting individual...

What emerged from this dialogue was two things: we weren't talking about the same magick, even if the term is the same. I see the possible ramifications of magick all around me; manifestations of word and will and imagination – those formative things that a sorcerer needs – expressed in places, described in different ways. Advertising is a type of magick. Rather than moving 'away from the evil sorcerers' of the advertising world, I suggest we all become our own advertisers. It's already being used, and in unethical ways, so we might as well exploit the same potentials if we want to become better at what we do.

I'm not describing a rational process; the framework might indicate we can discuss the irrational in a rational way, but that doesn't make magick “magically rational” or even “sane.” And those that claim the sacred ground of rationality may very soon, in the next few decades, that the ground they hold will be getting far smaller:

“A few weeks before I wrote this essay, I had a private conversation with a neurophysiologist at UCSD (University of California San Diego), who passed along some stunning insights he'd gathered from his research on the human brain. It seems that although we like to perceive ourselves as rational, reasonable creatures, carefully weighing our decisions before we commit, the fact of the matter is precisely the inverse. We arrive at our decisions through emotional sensations, acting 'from the gut' at all times. Our reason enters the process only after the decision has been made, and acts as the mind's propagandist, convincing us of the utter rightness which underlies all our actions.” (Mark Pesce, The Executable Dreamtime.)

Now, this isn't actual evidence. It is 'inside information', but believe me when I say that I'm looking forward to such things being released into the public and post them here if I find them. However, I could point to a case where what I call magick exists in a termed framework that isn't explicitly “magickal.” The placebo effect sounds an awful lot like magick to me: a belief that something will work, because some form of Magical Authority said it would, thus causing physical and sometimes cellular changes in the organism. Up to fifty percent of the time (the ratio a test drug must exceed so that it defeats the potential of the placebo effect). The nocebo effect, likewise, is interesting too and there the magical links are more explicit.

I have a lot more to say, and so when I get back from LA I'll devote a few more entries to the issues I've brought up, and consider a few more angles. I will also be finally writing a technique for visualization enhancement that I've 'conveniently' forgotten to write down more than a few times. I've been quoting Austin Spare a lot lately, and so I'll end with another bit he quipped at one time or another: “art can contradict science.”

* Italics mine.

Image from Hellblazer 252 or so. Can't really recall, but it's one of my favorites.

Be seeing you (in dreams or otherwise),

St. Jack Faust: preparing for the Grand Opening of LA's The Hoodoo Factory with a bright smile. (Discordian Saint; Grand Poobah of The Tradition of Wankery, and Bastard Messiah.)


How's that for titles?!