Friday, December 21, 2012

From: The Masque of Queens

“Sisters, stay, we want our Dame;
Call upon her by her Name,
And the Charm we use to say;
That she quickly anoint, and come away.

First Charm:
Dame, Dame, the Watch is set:
Quickly come, we all are met.
From the Lakes, and from the Fens,
From the Rocks, and from the Dens,
From the Woods, and from the Caves,
From the Church-yards, from the Graves,
From the Dungeon, from the Tree
That they die on, here are we.

Comes she not yet?
Strike another heat.

Second Charm.
The Weather is fair, the Wind is good,
Up Dame, o'your Horse of Wood:
Or else, tuck up your gray Frock,
And saddle your Goat, or your green Cock,
And make his Bridle a bottom of Thrid,
To rowl up how many Miles you have rid.
Quickly come away;
For we, all, stay.

Nor yet? Nay, then,
We'll try her agen. 

Third Charm
The Owl is abroad, the Bat, and the Toad,
And so is the Cat-a-mountain,
The Ant, and the Mole sit both in a hole,
And Frog peeps out o'the Fountain;
The Dogs, they do bay, and the Timbrels play,
The Spindle is now a turning;
The Moon it is red, and the Stars are fled,
But all the Sky is a burning:

The Ditch is made, and our Nails the Spade,
With Pictures full, of Wax, and of Wooll;
Their Lives I stick, with Needles quick;
There lacks but the Blood, to make up the Flood.
Quickly Dame, then, bring your part in,
Spur, spur, upon little Martin,
Merrily, merrily, make him fail,
A Worm in his Mouth, and a Thorn in's Tail,
Fire above, and Fire below,
With a Whip i'your Hand, to make him go.

O, now she's come!
Let all be dumb.”

At this, the Dame enter'd to them, Naked-
arm'd, bare-footed, her Frock tuck'd, her hair knotted,
and folded with Vipers; in her Hand a Torch made
of a Dead Man's Arm, lighted; girded with a Snake.
To whom they all did Reverence, and she spake, uttering,
by way of Question, the End wherefore they came
which if it had been done either before, or otherwise,
had not been so natural. For, to have made themselves,
their own Decypherers, and each one to have
told upon their entrance, what they were,
and whether they would, had been a most pitious Hearing,
and utterly unworthy any quality of a Poem: wherein
a Writer should always trust somewhat to the capacity
of the Spectator, especially, at these Spectacles;
where Men, beside inquiring Eyes, are understood
to bring quick Ears, and not those sluggish ones of
Porters and Mechanicks, that must be bored
through, at every Act, with Narrations...
- Ben Jonson, The Masque of Queens.

Merry Misrule to All.
The Masque of Kings tomorrow!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

PGM V. 459-89

“I call upon you who created earth and bones and all flesh and all spirit and who established the sea and suspended the Heavens, who separated the light from the darkness, the Supreme Intelligence who lawfully administrates all things. Eternal Eye, Daimon of daimons, god of gods, the Lord of the spirits, the invariable AIŌN IAŌ OYĒI, hear my voice.

I call upon you, master of the gods, high-thundering Zeus, sovereign Zeus, ADŌNAI, lord IAŌ OYĒE; I am he who calls upon you, great god, in syrian: 'ZAA-LAĒRIPHENOU,' and you must not ignore my voice (in Hebrew: 'ABLANATHA-NALBA ABRASILŌA'); for I am SILTHACHŌOUCH LAILAM BLASALŌTH IAŌ IEŌ NEBOUTH SABIOTH ABRŌTH ARBATHIAŌ IAŌTH SABAŌTH PA/TOURĒ ZAGOURĒ BAROUCH ADŌNAI ELŌAI ABRAAM BARBARAUŌ NAUSIPH, high-minded one, immortal, who possess the crown of the whole world, SIEPE SAKTIETĒ BIOU BIOU SPHĒ SPHĒ NOUSI NOUSI SIETHO SIETHO CHTHETHŌNI RIGCH ŌĒA Ē ĒŌA AŌĒ IAŌ ASIAL SARAPI OLSŌ ETHMOURĒSINI SEM LAU LOU LOURIGCHI.”
- PGM V. 459-89
(“It loosens shackles, makes invisible, sends dreams; it is a spell for gaining favor.
Add the usual for what you want.”) 
[Betz, P. 109-110.]

suspect that the invisibility is more of an astral sort versus a literal sort.
- Jack

The Illuminati, Illuminism, & Conspiratorial Bastards

Many years ago, I annoyed another magician. He felt, for reasons I cannot blame him for, that I was going out of my way to mess with his life. And so he took action.

So one day I woke up and found a threatening image and some song lyrics that were vaguely threatening on one of my blog's... And I did what probably any noob magician would do: I assumed I was being cursed. And so, in the grips of paranoia, I promptly began cursing myself.

It was only later, when we finally made a few amends and started chatting, that he explained that he'd never cursed me. Rather, he allowed me to project my own internal fears and paranoia onto the exterior images and words he'd given me. He explained, “people normally consider the threat of violence the same as violence itself.”

It was a lesson in ambiguity, and how we respond to it. Oddly enough, that lesson has also shaped my approach to various topics: we tend to project our fears on ambiguous, ephemeral constructs that we don't completely understand. If something pings the “Fear Meter,” it's all too easy to get carried away and begin letting our imagination over-crowd what is actually there.

What, you might ask, does any of that have to do with the Illuminati, and why do I bring it up?

Most people know very little about the Illuminati beyond what they can read in conspiracy circles. The ritual of the Bavarian Illuminati – a Freemason Order dedicated to the ideals of the Enlightenment and with potentially revolutionary aims – have been around for a few hundred years. Despite the fact that their rituals, and manuscripts, are actually held in Historical hands and could have been translated at any time, they were not.

Rather, people took the over-arching revolutionary themes, and ran with them while simultaneously projecting their fears onto the Order. The fact that the order was suppressed by political authorities is overlooked, and instead it's imagined to thrive to this day in the Halls of Worldly Power.

John Michael Greer ended up translating the material he found collected together, and presented a lecture and initiation ritual at Pantheacon many years ago. What he found was an emphasis on equality – for all people, including (despite the time at which the Bavarian Illuminati was formed) women – rationality, and so forth. These are the ideals that formed Enlightenment thought.

And so a number of us ended up being members of the newly re-founded Illuminati.

The rituals are – like most quasi-Masonic or Masonic rituals – quite boring. There was absolutely no nudity, certainly no sex magick, and there was a suspicious lack of revolutionary sentiment... Largely because to a certain degree, our country and the world has inherited the foundations of Enlightenment thought already. While true and pure equality does not yet exist, it is something our social systems continue to strive for and which most liberals agree with.*

When I recently posted the entry on the Occulists, some of whose symbolism I've begun stealing for my own ends, it was because of precisely what they were up to and their methods. Hidden within the depths of their cipher-texts is the desire to overthrow the “three-headed monster” of the Church, State, and Aristocracy. The focal points of power and privilege which have governed the world since time immemorial. Had they been discovered, much like the Bavarian Illuminati were, they would not only have been accused of sodomy (as was a common accusation against the Freemasons of their era), but also of sedition and treason. Recognizing that the powers that be could not be fought on traditional terms, they instead decided to cloak themselves within the confines of cryptographic secrecy and to keep their cherished ideals more or less hidden.

One can only imagine whether or not the Bavarian Illuminati would have survived if they, too, had kept to the shadows and encoded their texts.

While I do not hold to the entirety of Enlightenment thought, I recognize it for what it is and I recognize how it has impacted the society we currently live in. I do not consider “rational thought” to be the End-All-Be-All of modes of communication, nor of modes of being. However I consider rationality and the ability to judge things rationally to be marks of a magicians. It is one of many ways of viewing any given material, and of judging it without letting the “fear complexes” and our own irrational responses from outweighing the reality of
what is versus what we imagine is going on.

In a world of scaremongering and fear-mongering, we must fight back (internally, anyway) with what few methods we have left to us. Emotional intellect and communication is wonderful – until a Black Swan event arrives, and the world around us begins quite simply freaking out.

In short: “some of us have set ourselves up, looking always to the Eye of Providence and to the fore-thought aspects of Providentia (the relationship of which to Prometheus should be obvious to anyone who takes the time to ponder it) rather than becoming like the Sleepy Dormouse, or basing our assumptions on those made by the Sleepers.”

Become an agent of your own goddamn enlightenment. There is no other time to do it, and the methods are available to you. You, too, can become a conspiratorial bastard and seek equality for all - but if you do so, you may want to consider keeping to the shadows. It sure as hell beats being accused of sodomy and suppressed for desiring the rights endowed to your fellow man to be enshrined in the hearts of all.

Be seeing you,
St. Jack Faust
Mad Profit of Eris.

* There are, of course, still Patriarchal Authority Figures the world over and who pretend to be part of all manner of movements. I'm exempting them from this discussion because they are not worthy of consideration, beyond undermining their desires at every opportunity.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nunquam Dormire

Sweet Dreams, Kitties by VVF.

Friday, December 7, 2012

From Homeric Hymn #4

“Afterwards they two, the all-glorious sons of Zeus turned the cows back towards the sacred meadow, but themselves hastened back to snowy Olympus, delighting in the lyre. Then wise Zeus was glad and made them both friends. And Hermes loved the son of Leto continually, even as he does now, when he had given the lyre as token to the Far-shooter, who played it skilfully, holding it upon his arm. But for himself Hermes found out another cunning art and made himself the pipes whose sound is heard afar.

Then the son of Leto said to Hermes: “Son of Maia, guide and cunning one, I fear you may steal form me the lyre and my curved bow together; for you have an office from Zeus, to establish deeds of barter amongst men throughout the fruitful earth. Now if you would only swear me the great oath of the gods, either by nodding your head, or by the potent water of Styx, you would do all that can please and ease my heart.”

Then Maia's son nodded his head and promised that he would never steal anything of all the Far-shooter possessed, and would never go near his strong house; but Apollo, son of Leto, swore to be fellow and friend to Hermes, vowing that he would love no other among the immortals, neither god nor man sprung from Zeus, better than Hermes: and the Father sent forth an eagle in confirmation. And Apollo sware also: “Verily I will make you only to be an omen for the immortals and all alike, trusted and honoured by my heart. Moreover, I will give you a splendid staff of riches and wealth: it is of gold, with three branches, and will keep you scatheless, accomplishing every task, whether of words or deeds that are good, which I claim to know through the utterance of Zeus. But as for sooth-saying, noble, heaven-born child, of which you ask, it is not lawful for you to learn it, nor for any other of the deathless gods: only the mind of Zeus knows that. I am pledged and have vowed and sworn a strong oath that no other of the eternal gods save I should know the wise-hearted counsel of Zeus. And do not you, my brother, bearer of the golden wand, bid me tell those decrees which all- seeing Zeus intends. As for men, I will harm one and profit another, sorely perplexing the tribes of unenviable men. Whosoever shall come guided by the call and flight of birds of sure omen, that man shall have advantage through my voice, and I will not deceive him. But whoso shall trust to idly-chattering birds and shall seek to invoke my prophetic art contrary to my will, and to understand more than the eternal gods, I declare that he shall come on an idle journey; yet his gifts I would take.

But I will tell you another thing, Son of all-glorious Maia and Zeus who holds the aegis, luck-bringing genius of the gods. There are certain holy ones, sisters born -- three virgins gifted with wings: their heads are besprinkled with white meal, and they dwell under a ridge of Parnassus. These are teachers of divination apart from me, the art which I practised while yet a boy following herds, though my father paid no heed to it. From their home they fly now here, now there, feeding on honey-comb and bringing all things to pass. And when they are inspired through eating yellow honey, they are willing to speak truth; but if they be deprived of the gods' sweet food, then they speak falsely, as they swarm in and out together. These, then, I give you; enquire of them strictly and delight your heart: and if you should teach any mortal so to do, often will he hear your response -- if he have good fortune. Take these, Son of Maia, and tend the wild roving, horned oxen and horses and patient mules.”

So he spake. And from heaven father Zeus himself gave confirmation to his words, and commanded that glorious Hermes should be lord over all birds of omen and grim-eyed lions, and boars with gleaming tusks, and over dogs and all flocks that the wide earth nourishes, and over all sheep; also that he only should be the appointed messenger to Hades, who, though he takes no gift, shall give him no mean prize.

Thus the lord Apollo showed his kindness for the Son of Maia by all manner of friendship: and the Son of Cronos gave him grace besides. He consorts with all mortals and immortals: a little he profits, but continually throughout the dark night he cozens the tribes of mortal men.

And so, farewell, Son of Zeus and Maia; but I will remember you and another song also.”
- Homeric Hymn #4, To Hermes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Condition of Fire

Stolen from

“All is flux, nothing is stationary...

The world, an entity out of everything, was created by neither gods nor men, but was, is and will be eternally living fire, regularly becoming ignited and regularly becoming extinguished.”
- Heraclitus (535 –  475 BCE.)

“There are two realities, the terrestrial and the condition of fire. All power is from the terrestrial condition, for there all opposites meet and there only is the extreme of choice possible, full freedom. And there the heterogeneous is, and evil, for evil is the strain one upon another of opposites; but in the condition of fire is all music and all rest. Between is the condition of air where images have but a borrowed life, that of memory or that reflected upon them when they symbolise colours and intensities of fire, the place of shades who are “in the whirl of those who are fading,” and who cry like those amorous shades in the Japanese play:
“That we may acquire power
Even in our faint substance,
We will show forth even now,
And though it be but in a dream,
Our form of repentance.”
After so many rhythmic beats the soul must cease to desire its images, and can, as it were, close its eyes.

When all sequence comes to an end, time comes to an end, and the soul puts on the rhythmic or spiritual body or luminous body and contemplates all the events of its memory and every possible impulse in an eternal possession of itself in one single moment. That condition is alone animate, all the rest is phantasy, and from thence come all the passions, and some have held, the very heat of the body.
Time drops in decay,
Like a candle burnt out,
And the mountains and the woods
Have their day, have their day.
What one, in the rout
Of the fire-born moods,
Has fallen away?”

“The inflowing from their mirrored life, who themselves receive it from the Condition of Fire, falls upon the Winding Path called the Path of the Serpent, and that inflowing coming alike to men and to animals is called natural. There is another inflow which is not natural but intellectual, and is from the fire; and it descends through souls who pass for a lengthy or a brief period out of the mirror life, as we in sleep out of the bodily life, and though it may fall upon a sleeping serpent, it falls principally upon straight paths. In so far as a man is like all other men, the inflow finds him upon the winding path, and in so far as he is a saint or sage, upon the straight path.”

Taken from here.

“Daemon and man are opposites; man passes from heterogeneous objects to the simplicity of fire, and the Daemon is drawn to objects because through them he obtains power, the extremity of choice. For only in men’s minds can he meet even those in the Condition of Fire who are not of his own kin. He, by using his mediatorial shades, brings man again and again to the place of choice, heightening temptation that the choice may be as final as possible, imposing his own lucidity upon events, leading his victim to whatever among works not impossible is the most difficult. He suffers with man as some firm-souled man suffers with the woman he but loves the better because she is extravagant and fickle. His descending power is neither the winding nor the straight line but zigzag, illuminating the passive and active properties, the tree’s two sorts of fruit: it is the sudden lightning, for all his acts of power are instantaneous. We perceive in a pulsation of the artery, and after slowly decline.”


“But certainly it is always to the Condition of Fire, where emotion is not brought to any sudden stop, where there is neither wall nor gate, that we would rise; and the mask plucked from the oak-tree is but my imagination of rhythmic body. We may pray to that last condition by any name so long as we do not pray to it as a thing or a thought, and most prayers call it man or woman or child:
“For mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face.”
Within ourselves Reason and Will, who are the man and woman, hold out towards a hidden altar, a laughing or crying child.”
- Yeats, Per Amica Silentia Lunae.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stimulant Powder: Tricks from “Mageia Sexualis.”

A while back, I was re-reading Mageia Sexualis by Paschal Beverly Randolph and Maria de Naglowska. Actually, on that matter I have a comment to make. I failed, upon my first series of consultations with the work, to realize that Maria Naglowska had inserted some of her own work into the text. Donald Traxler has recently translated three of her works and re-translated “Sexual Magic,” along with apparently expanding upon where she influenced the text. My copy is by Robert North (RIP, good sir) and I'll need to take a look at Mr. Traxler's work to get a better handle on what material is clearly hers.

Two steps forward, one step back. I guess that's to be expected.

Regardless, upon my re-reading of material, I stumbled upon something I'd missed. The section in question is entitled “Stimulant Powder,” and it's an altered variant of a Flying Ointment recipe. Regardless of whether the source is Ms. Naglowska or Paschal (I lean towards the later, due to the contents of the powder), it is very, very interesting.

The section occurs on pages 103-104 of Robert North's translation of the book. I've removed the dosages, but anyone interested is encouraged to consult the work. I can only assume it also appears in Mr. Traxler's newer translation. I have removed the dosages indicated in the text just to be careful, as the recipe is either somewhat safe (and presently very illegal) or possibly dangerous (but legal to make in the right circumstances).

The Powder
The stimulant powder that we use for our magical experiences is not new. One finds it in many receipts of the middle ages. The sorcerers of that era used it for traveling to the festivals of the Sabbat, among other things.

Accordingly, we have made some modifications, for the following reasons:
The stimulant powder was prepared in the middle ages by the maceration of plants in human fat. This bizarre procedure was motivated by the knowledge that various substances will more effectively penetrate the pores of the operator if the conductor that is on his skin is identical to that which is found under his skin.

Good results can be obtained, however, with the fat extracted from the sweat of the experimenter.

But in the face of the numerous difficulties of this preparation, we have replaced human fat with animal fat. First of all, we leave it in heavy cooking salt and then we wash it in cold, running water. We repeat this process and bath five times and then we plunge the fat into a hot bath. This bath must last for six hours.”

It continues:
“To the fat thus previously treated, we add the following:
Hashish, Henbane, Pommes d' epis, Belladonna, Hemp, Garlic, Sunflower Seeds, Kalmus, Poppy Flowers, Flakes of Wheat.”

I have no idea what “Pommes d'Epis” is supposed to be, but I have some colorful theories. Try as I might, I cannot find a reference point for that specific French word choice.

The inclusion of hashish is similar to its use in the Fluid Condensers cited in the text.

Upon consulting Mr. Harold Roth, it became clear that this recipe shares a more-than-passing resemblance with the one given in P-V Piobb's Formulaire de Haute Magie. Referred to as the Onguent Infernal, it contains: 
“human fat (replaceable by lard), superior hashish, marijuana flowers, poppy flowers (he informs me that these are Papaver Rhoeas), powdered hellebore root, and crushed sunflower seed.”
The similarity between the two recipes raises the question of whether the inclusion of “poppy flowers” refers to the flowers of Papaver Rhoeas or Pavaper Somniferum? The flowers of P. Rhoeas include alkaloids which are sedatives. However, the flowers of P. Somniferum contain codeine. The antagonism between Tropane alkaloids and their potential toxicity and certain opiates, such as codeine, is well-known and was the basis of Twilight Sleep. The two chemical families are somewhat more safe to use together, which would allow for the recipe in Mageia Sexualis to be used safely and is less likely to result in the death of the individual. There is no evidence that the alkaloids in P. Rhoeas act similarly, but that does not mean that they do not do so. It simply means that on that matter, I can only wonder.

Mr. Roth also noted that the Wheat Flakes – used to transform the Onguent into a Powder – also have a basis which we can trace backward in time. Francis Bacon, in fact, mentions wheat flakes being used in the construction of the flying ointment. Incidentally, I had just read the section of Sylva Sylvarum in which Bacon discusses the ointment. It is interesting and worth quoting:

And therefore, as diverse wise judges have prescribed, and cautioned, men may not too rashly believe, the confessions of witches, nor yet the evidence against them. For the witches themselves are imaginative, and believe oft-times, they do that, which they do not: And people are credulous in that point and ready to impute accidents, and natural operations, to witchcraft. It is worthy of observing that, both in ancient, and late times; (as in Thessalian witches, and the Meetings of Witches that have been recorded by so many late confessions;) the great Wonders which they tell, of carrying in the Aire; transforming themselves into other Bodies; & etc. are still reported to be wrought, not by Incantations, or Ceremonies; But by ointments, and Anointing themselves all over. This may justly move a Man to think that these Fables are the Effects of Imagination: for it is certain, that Ointments do all (if they be laid on any thing thicke,) by Stopping of the Pores, … and send them to the Head extremely. And for the particular Ingredients of those Magical Ointments, it is like they are Opiate and Soporiferous. For Anointing of the Fore-head­, Neck, Feet, Back-Bone, we know is used for Procuring the Dead Sleeps: and if any man say, that this effect would be better done by Inward Potions; answer may be made, that the medicines which go into the Ointments are so strong, that if they were used inwards they would kill those that use them: and therefore they work protently, though outwards.”*

Brand, in his Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, quotes Bacon on the nature of what was inside the ointment: 
“the ointment that witches use is reported to be made of the fat of children digged out of their graves; of the juices of smallage, wolfbane, and cinquefoil, mingled with the meal of fine wheat; but I suppose the soporiferous medicines are likest to do it, which are henbane, hemlock, mandrake, moonshade, or rather nightshade, tobacco, opium, saffron, poplar-leaves, &c.”

The “meal of fine wheat” that Bacon refers to is most likely the source the Wheat-flakes called for in the recipe in Mageia Sexualis. I would like to see the entire essay that the above recipe comes from, but I have not yet been able to track the entire thing down.

I still have questions, though. Such as:
If the recipe in Mageia Sexualis is from Paschal – and the inclusion of hashish in it may very will indicate that it is – where did he come across it?

There is a more-than-passing resemblance between Bacon's comments on the Materia Medica used in the Onguent and the recipe in Mageia Sexualis, which would suggest that Bacon may be the originator with either PBR or Maria Naglowska filling in the blanks. If such is the case, the the “poppy flowers” are more than likely to be Papaver Somniferum rather than P. Rhoeas, however we can't discount the similarity between the Onguent Infernal and it's inclusion of P. Rhoeas just yet.

What precisely is a “Pommes d'Epis”? It's very similar to the French term for the apple: “Pomme d'Apis,” but why not simply translate the term? Did Robert North have a moment of laziness, or was he also unsure? I'll have to cross-reference the translations between his version and Mr. Traxler's version to see if there are any differences, particularly in the case of the “Pommes d'Epis.”

Overall, however, the Stimulant Powder certainly presents one of the most interesting alterations of the flying ointment I've come across so far, and if we take “poppy flowers” to suggest Papaver Somniferum then the recipe is (somewhat) less dangerous than some of the other ones that I've seen float around, particularly the two directions found in Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft.**

Unfortunately Papaver Somniferum and it's opiates (like Codeine) remain controlled substances in the US. Papaver Rhoeas is not, however we can't trust that it will act as an antagonist against the hefty inclusion of Tropane alkaloid containing plants.

* [Swearing deleted]... that was a lot of commas.
** 'Eh. It's all relative to the dosages, plants, etc.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Stele of Jeu, or Rite of the Headless One

Preparation for the foregoing ritual: Write the formula (“AŌTH ABRAŌTH BASYM ISAK SABAŌTH IAŌ.”) on a new sheet of papyrus, and after extending it from one of your temples to the other, read the six names, while you face the North saying:
Subject to me all daimons, so that every daimon, whether heavenly or aerial or earthly or subterranean or terrestrial or aquatic, might be obedient to me and every enchantment and scourge which is from God.” And all Daimons will be obedient to you.

The beneficial sign is: “:>” [Note: The two points “:” are at the direct center of both lines of the “>”.]

I summon you, Headless One, who created earth and heaven, who created night and day, you who created the Light and the Darkness; you are Osonnophris whom none has ever seen; you are Iabas; you are Iapos; you have distinguished the just from the unjust; you have made female and male; you have revealed seed and fruits; you have made men love each other and hate each other.

I am Moses your prophet to whom you have transmitted your mysteries celebrated by Israel; you have revealed the moist and the dry and all nourishment; hear me.

I am the messenger of Pharoah Osoronnophris; this is your true name which has been transmitted to the prophets of Israel. Hear me, ARBATHIAŌ REIBET ATHELEBERSĒTH ARA BLATHA ALBEU EBENPHCHI CHITASGOĒ IBAŌTH IAŌ; listen to me and turn away this daimon.”

I call upon you, awesome and invisible god with an empty spirit, AROGOGOROBRAŌ SOCHOU MODORIŌ PHALARCHAŌ OOO. Holy Headless One, deliver him, NN, from the daimon that restrains him, ROUBRIAŌ MARI ŌDAM BAABNABAŌTH ASS ADŌNAI APHNIAŌ ITHŌLETH ABRASAX AĒŌŌY; mighty Headless One, deliver him, NN, from the daimon which restrains him. MABARRAIŌ IOĒL KOTHA ATHORĒBALŌ ABRAŌTH, deliver him, NN, AŌTH ABRAŌTH BASYM ISAK SABAŌTH IAŌ.

He is the Lord of the Gods; he is the Lord of the Inhabited World; he is the one whom the winds fear; he is the one who made all things by command of his voice.”

Lord, King, Master, Helper, save the soul, IEOU PYR IOU IAŌT IAĒŌ IOOU ABRASAX SABRIAM OO YY EY OO YY ADŌNAIE, immediately, immediately, good messenger of God ANLALA LAI GAIA APA DIACHANNA CHORYN.”

I am the Headless Daimon with sight in my feet; I am the mighty one who possesses the immortal fire; I am the truth who hates the fact that unjust deeds are done in the world; I am the one who makes the lightning flash and the thunder roll; I am the one whose sweat falls upon the earth as rain so that it can inseminate it; I am the one whose mouth burns completely; I am the one who begets and destroys; I am the Favor of the Aion; my name is a Heart Encircled by a Serpent; Come Forth and Follow.”
- Translator: D.E. Aune.

From Hans Dieter Betz's
The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation vol. 1. (P. 103)

In the event I got anything wrong – like missed a line or messed up transcribing the Voces Mageia, let me know and I'll be sure to fix it. R.O. And I recently agreed that it ought to be online. I may talk more about the ritual shortly... Or just keep my thoughts to myself. Y'know. 'Cuz I'm no badass author or anything.

The ritual also recently showed up in Mike C.'s
Book of Abraxas, which I'll be reviewing soon! Buy that shit while you can, man. Because it's fucking gorgeous!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Find a Mask

“There is a letter of Goethe’s, though I cannot remember where, that explains evocation, though he was but thinking of literature. He described some friend who had complained of literary sterility as too intelligent. One must allow the images to form with all their associations before one criticises. “If one is critical too soon,” he wrote, “they will not form at all.” If you suspend the critical faculty, I have discovered, either as the result of training, or, if you have the gift, by passing into a slight trance, images pass rapidly before you. If you can suspend also desire, and let them form at their own will, your absorption becomes more complete and they are more clear in colour, more precise in articulation, and you and they begin to move in the midst of what seems a powerful light. But the images pass before you linked by certain associations, and indeed in the first instance you have called them up by their association with traditional forms and sounds. You have discovered how, if you can but suspend will and intellect, to bring up from the “subconscious” anything you already possess a fragment of. Those who follow the old rule keep their bodies still and their minds awake and clear, dreading especially any confusion between the images of the mind and the objects of sense; they seek to become, as it were, polished mirrors.

I had no natural gift for this clear quiet, as I soon discovered, for my mind is abnormally restless; and I was seldom delighted by that sudden luminous definition of form which makes one understand almost in spite of oneself that one is not merely imagining. I therefore invented a new process. I had found that after evocation my sleep became at moments full of light and form, all that I had failed to find while awake; and I elaborated a symbolism of natural objects that I might give myself dreams during sleep, or rather visions, for they had none of the confusion of dreams, by laying upon my pillow or beside my bed certain flowers or leaves. Even to-day, after twenty years, the exaltations and the messages that came to me from bits of hawthorn or some other plant seem of all moments of my life the happiest and the wisest. After a time, perhaps because the novelty wearing off the symbol lost its power, or because my work at the Irish Theatre became too exciting, my sleep lost its responsiveness. I had fellow-scholars, and now it was I and now they who made some discovery. Before the mind’s eye, whether in sleep or waking, came images that one was to discover presently in some book one had never read, and after looking in vain for explanation to the current theory of forgotten personal memory, I came to believe in a great memory passing on from generation to generation. But that was not enough, for these images showed intention and choice. They had a relation to what one knew and yet were an extension of one’s knowledge. If no mind was there, why should I suddenly come upon salt and antimony, upon the liquefaction of the gold, as they were understood by the alchemists, or upon some detail of cabalistic symbolism verified at last by a learned scholar from his never-published manuscripts, and who can have put together so ingeniously, working by some law of association and yet with clear intention and personal application, certain mythological images. They had shown themselves to several minds, a fragment at a time, and had only shown their meaning when the puzzle picture had been put together. The thought was again and again before me that this study had created a contact or mingling with minds who had followed a like study in some other age, and that these minds still saw and thought and chose. Our daily thought was certainly but the line of foam at the shallow edge of a vast luminous sea: Henry More’s Anima Mundi, Wordsworth’s “immortal sea which brought us hither ... and near whose edge the children sport,” and in that sea there were some who swam or sailed, explorers who perhaps knew all its shores.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Codes & Riddles

Theban Alphabet, via Trithemius' PolyGraphia.

“Back in Lund, Önnerfors grew surprised too as he continued to plumb the Copiale. In the midst of the descriptions about Oculist rituals, the document took a narrative turn. It described a meeting of “a few good friends” who talked about people’s desire to “know something only because it needs to be kept secret.” The friends decided to use this curiosity to play a little prank. They set up a fraternity and “would agree immediately as they would like to pretend that a great secret would be behind their unification.” They called this farce, this hoax, this grand psychological experiment Freemasonry. In other words, the Oculists were making an outrageous claim: that they founded Freemasonry … as a joke.

That certainly wasn’t true, but at the very least the Oculists seemed to be watching Freemasonry’s every move. Starting on page 27 and continuing for the remaining 78 pages, the cipher detailed the rituals performed by the highest degrees of the Masonic order—rites unknown to ordinary Masons at the time. Nothing was omitted from the Copiale’s descriptions of these top-level rituals. Not the skulls. Not the coffins. Not removal of undergarments nor the nooses nor the veneration of Hiram Abiff, builder of the Great Temple of Jerusalem, whose decomposed body became the alchemical emblem for turning something rotten into something miraculous and golden.”
- They Cracked This 250 Year-Old Code, And Found a Secret Society Inside by Noah Shachtman, Accessed 11/17/12.
Runes of Honorius (Theban), via Agrippa's Third Book of Occult Philosophy, Part 3; Chapter 29.

[EDIT]: The scholarly sources I've consulted seem to indicate that there are a chunk of alchemical manuscripts, roughly 1/3rd towards the high end, that are considered 'insane'. This may be because the Alchemist was undergoing the experiences of heavy metal poisoning from Mercury and Lead... However, something I've often considered and rarely seen discussed is that they may actually be highly advanced cipher-codes, from substitution codes (like Theban) to the more complex Ciphers that Copiales 3 is part of. The next few centuries promise to be interesting, assuming that we don't simply run out of gas: we can finally begin cracking those codes and seeing into the lives of some of our lesser known predecessors who were practitioners of the Great Work...
X2: You can download some high-rez scans of the encoded/ciphered text here. It is, in a word, beautiful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Way of the Thief

“Have not there been among those vulgarly styled the wisest, such as have collected (their wealth) for the great chief? and among those styled the most sage such as have guarded it for him? How do I know that it has been so? Formerly, Lung-fang was beheaded; Pi-kan had his heart torn out; Khang Hung was ripped open; and Dze-hsu was reduced to pulp (in the Kiang). Worthy as those four men were, they did not escape such dreadful deaths. The followers of the robber Kih asked him, saying, 'Has the robber also any method or principle (in his proceedings)?'

He replied, 'What profession is there which has not its principles? That the robber in his recklessness comes to the conclusion that there are valuable deposits in an apartment shows his sageness; that he is the first to enter it shows his bravery; that he is the last to quit it shows his righteousness; that he knows whether (the robbery) may be attempted or not shows his wisdom; and that he makes an equal division of the plunder shows his benevolence. Without all these five qualities no one in the world has ever attained to become a great robber.' 

Looking at the subject in this way, we see that good men do not arise without having the principles of the sages, and that Kih could not have pursued his course without the same principles. But the good men in the world are few, and those who are not good are many;—it follows that the sages benefit the world in a few instances and injure it in many. Hence it is that we have the sayings, 'When the lips are gone the teeth are cold;' 'The poor wine of Lu gave occasion to the siege of Han-tan;' 'When sages are born great robbers arise.' 

When the stream is dried, the valley is empty; when the mound is levelled, the deep pool (beside it) is filled up. When the sages have died, the great robbers will not arise; the world would be at peace, and there would be no more troubles. While the sagely men have not died, great robbers will not cease to appear. The more right that is attached to (the views of) the sagely men for the government of the world, the more advantage will accrue to (such men as) the robber Kih. If we make for men pecks and bushels to measure (their wares), even by means of those pecks and bushels should we be teaching them to steal; if we make for them weights and steelyards to weigh (their wares), even by means of those weights and steelyards shall we be teaching them to steal. If we make for them tallies and seals to secure their good faith, even by means of those tallies and seals shall we be teaching them to steal. If we make for them benevolence and righteousness to make their doings correct, even by means of benevolence and righteousness shall we be teaching them to steal. How do I know that it is so? Here is one who steals a hook (for his girdle);—he is put to death for it: here is another who steals a state;—he becomes its prince. But it is at the gates of the princes that we find benevolence and righteousness (most strongly) professed;—is not this stealing benevolence and righteousness, sageness and wisdom? Thus they hasten to become great robbers, carry off princedoms, and steal benevolence and righteousness, with all the gains springing from the use of pecks and bushels, weights and steelyards, tallies and seals:—even the rewards of carriages and coronets have no power to influence (to a different course), and the terrors of the axe have no power to restrain in such cases. The giving of so great gain to robbers (like) Kih, and making it impossible to restrain them;—this is the error committed by the sages.”
- Chu'ang Tzu, Chapter 10.

[EDIT]: That's just a snippet. Keep reading if you start falling into dualism.

17.9 hours to Caput Draconis and Retrograde Mercury coming back around. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blog Roundup [Edited]

I've added a slew of links to the blog list over the last year, particularly those being run by members of the Gentlemen for Jupiter. is run by Tata Nkisi Sima Ngango and Mr. Eric Colon (Tata Musitu). It's a treasure-trove of information on Palo Mayombe, and one of the more interesting recent arrivals to the blogger-sphere that I've come across. While some of the posts being written by second-language speakers can be hard to understand, the posts on the site are still far more informative than certain books that I have lambasted on this blog regarding the subject of Palo before.

Hermetic Lessons / Blogos by Mr. Logofernando is interesting, as it's run by one of the most hardline practitioners of QBL that I have ever come across. His views are both unique and interesting to me, and I generally take a very distant view of QBL. Additionally, some of the man's techniques are beyond interesting and well worth spreading across the community. I will be sure to reference any of those posts in the future when they appear.

Seething Among the Suits is the Scrib's new wordpress blog. I continue to like it, just as I enjoyed his previous blog.

A few weeks ago I first linked to Mr. Vitimus' blog. It really is quite good, even if we disagree on some issues (but not, I'm sure, a few others). His posts have a whole lot to offer the current crop of Chaos Magicians, and he's currently working with Arcanorium College. In the immortal words of Darth Vader: Impressive... Most. Impressive.

[EDIT]: Fr. Ashen's blog has insights on evocation, and involves a very traditional narrative on the subject. Anyone interested in the subject will probably glean quite a bit of information on the practice of evocation.

I consider all of these blogs worth reading, and may add a few more and a few more intros. in time.

Best wishes,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Witches' Brew

“Not until almost a century later did scientists establish that hyoscine and mandragora from the mandrake root, which had been used for millennia for the management of “nerves,” are anticholinergics, drugs that block the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. But the dividing line between therapy and wider effects on the social order is a fine one. Henbane, the plant from which hyoscine comes, had achieved perhaps its greatest fame as an ingredient in a witch's brew. It could supposedly cause a flight of the soul. It is now clear that in low doses anticholinergics can be euphoriants, which in higher doses they can cause out-of-body experiences and hallucinations and at very high doses delirium.

Hyoscine was initially used alone or in combination with camphor and lupulline in hospitals. Then later it was used in hospitals, along with morphine and atropine, in a potent sedative called Hysoscine Co. A. In primary care and office practice in the first half of the twentieth century, it was used in combination with bromides and barbiturates. The ready availability of all these agents also made them widely used by people who were medicating themselves.

A series of twentieth century studies have proven that anticholinergic agents have antinervousness and antidepressant properties. These studies make it reasonably certain that when nineteenth century clinicians claimed they saw beneficial effects from hyoscine, they were almost surely correct. And quite apart from clinical trial evidence, hyoscine was pleasant, sometimes bordering on the euphoriant, and at the same time calming – characteristics that clearly would help in the mamagement of nervous problems.

However, no modern pharmaceutical company has developed anticholinergics like hyoscine for the treatment of nervous problems. As popular awareness of the traditional origins of these drugs vanshed, extraordinarily it became possible to call the anticholinergic effects side effects. This process culminated with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac being sold on the basis that they were free of anticholinergic “side effects.” The new situation is one in which some critics of pharmacotherapy have argued that antidepressants may in fact work only by virtue of their side effects.”
- David Healy, The Creation of Psychopharmacology. P.50-51. 2008.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hero Cults [EDITED for less wankery]

 Check this out! (Link via Jake Stratton-Kent forever ago. Before the anti-social network trend began...)

Follow that up with Ogden's Greek and Roman Necromancy, JSK's Geosophia (vol. 1 & 2), and his True Grimoire.

 Moar Sources


EDIT: Being upfront, the Necromancy sources link was written in response to the Witch of Forest Grove's Shaman comments way back when, since Greek and Roman necromancy have a pretty obviously solid aspect of blood sacrifice to them. She's since seem to have improved her stance, and I dig that. I won't bash her or anything over that.

Themis is also cool, if somewhat untrustworthy due to the author's unrelenting Victorian-ness. Still, how much do I like some of the awesome source material and comparisons? Very much so. There's so much information on the Agathos-Daimon/Agathoi-Daimones in there!

SECOND EDIT: This popped up during a cursory drift. I'm enjoy the introduction already, at least.

THIRD EDIT: You know? I'm in total asshole mode today. So I'm toning myself down by eleven notches. My apologies. A shitty driver pissed me off earlier and it seems to have stuck for longer than I should've allowed.

“That Which Kills.”

The Shambling of Ghouls.

It's past the middle of the night, and the witching hour. So I'll continue writing about witches for a bit. What the hell, right? Just a few middle of the night comments to leave you, the readers of this blog, with.

The thing the seems to destroy the subject of witchcraft as it emerged in the 20th century, and how we see our past selves, is narrative. More specifically: false narratives. The mythological stories we hold up to the light, once revealed as false, have this tendency to be used to discredit the entire subject.

By their very nature, the 'witch' (however you wish to conceive of that word) is a night-flower or lunar creature. If magicians are forged in the clear light of day, then the witch enters their transmutations in the dead of night. Oh, the light of the sun enters the picture – do not get me wrong on that matter – but it is reflected by the moon. Everywhere the world is a thing of shadow and mystery, and even the historical records on the subject become confused mish-mashed rehashes of strangeness over a period of a thousand or more years.

So when you bring in the spotlight, when you shine it directly on the subject all the shadows and mysteries go fleeing to the realms where daylight has no sway and remain locked in hibernation. (Note the great big nod to Stephen Grasso's Skip Witches, Hop Toads in Abraxas #1.)
Ah, Gerald Gardner? Didn't he lie about a Ph. D? Not to be trusted.”
Alex Sanders and his Grandmother? What a bucket full of LULZ.”
Robert Cochrane? Nice trick with that plate and playing that poor woman for a fool.”

If Ceremonial Magicians are all too keen to tone down the mercurial aspects of Mercury and Hermes, then witches by comparison are all too happy to adopt the Trickster's garb and go to town. Fuck them if they can't take a joke, right?

And if you just happen to run in the “Trickster gods are necessary” crowds then you will discover a great many men for whom trickery comes quite easily. Remember the first rule of sleight of hand? The big gesture conceals the smaller gesture.
And with a wave of my hand, I shall pluck forth – a rabbit! No a goat! No a fox! No, a God! Right before your eyes, ladies and gentlemen! Truly, a sight to behold..! Please, feel free to fill up the donation box: I'll be here performing tricks from 12 AM to 1 AM!”
Our news media thrives on a similar method of diverting attention. One narrative of truth and a small lie and they can distort our view of what is quite simply. Why else would people be convinced that Obama is a Muslim who wasn't born in the United States and who is out to create the Communist utopia? Clearly, the guy is an imperialist with a Kill List, and an army of drones to boot. Isn't that just lovely? Warms the very cockles of my heart, I tell you.

But this isn't a political post. This a post about trickery and consequence. The truth is that the restless ghosts of the past don't stay put. They have this tendency to rise up, noisy little narratives that demand attention, and once the light is shed over the body of evidence they contain – things become... strange.

When I talk to Elders of various witchcraft traditions, they tend to say the same thing (with a few awesome exceptions). My generation has no interest in joining. Now that the mythos of the Witches' is long past, no one cares. If there wasn't a Ph. D. beside Gardner's name, or you can't accurately trace the familial lineage of Cochrane's witch-DNA, then it all goes up in the flames.

I think it's all bunk, of course. I meet younger folks all the time that don't know where to look, or upon finding a group decide that it's too fluffy or something for their tastes. Or they encounter the worst group ever and decide that all groups must be the same. It's disheartening to hear the same story, over and over. [Line deleted to avoid being somewhat incendiary during Merc. Retro.]

The fact of the matter is that we do have a history. A very cool history, worth learning. Where you have culture, eventually you shall have witches. And they're always up to something strange, or interesting. Shifting across the night landscape, taking in the sights, figuring out what came before and what period of time they've come to be attuned to. There isn't just one path, or one culture. There are many paths, and many cultures, and many timelines and narratives to digest and sort. A never-ending array of them. Just visit your local bookstore and the history section. Magick books, con-artists, bizarre mystics, and people caught in the crossfires of culture wars: poor bastards, clever bastards, and even a few non-bastards!

There is no need to make up figures about how many women died in the fires of the Inquisition, or pretend that a form of approaching the world with its roots in the depth of Indo-European spirituality (and all the sprawling cults to come later) is the “oldest religion” ever. Because what we have is already worth-while. What we have is worth keeping. All your ancestors, dead loves, and the Patron Saints of yester-year are waiting for you under the moonlight.

And respectively, so are the restless ghosts and half-truths and lies of the past. But those are teaching tools, instructive moments from a time when you had to make bold claims to get anyone to listen. What those that made the claims often failed to realize is that you don't need to lie. You don't need to pretend to be anything other than what you are, which is often enough. All you need is the capacity, advocated by Spare, to reach through this illusion of the ever-present and feel the point when things, places, and people connect.

And then you are there and so are they and the Sabbat, in all it's odd and strange glory, is on.

Embrace what you are. There will always be someone out there, aiming to mock it. But it doesn't really matter. If you need to learn more? That's possible. If you desire to join up? That may also be possible, depending on the group and you. If you feel like sticking to your lonesome? We wish you all the best in luck and capability.

The thing about embodying the trickster is that eventually you can't do it anymore. You die: your legacy, and its truths or untruths live on. And eventually someone will stumble upon those untruths and call you on it.

On that matter, I have one last thing to say. The other day I was talking about Materia Medica and quote, almost verbatim, Dr. Healy without giving the appropriate link. I realize that blogging is the lowest form of writing currently inhabiting the planet, and plagiarism is everywhere. But I would prefer not to do it, even if I wasn't doing it intentionally. Dr. Healy discusses previous medical practitioners and the ability of a doctor to diagnose and decide over treatment here. I apologize to anyone that marveled and thought I was a genius. Alas, such is not the case! His blog really is marvelous, and I read it fairly often, sometimes in huge spurts and some of what he's said sits in the background and comes out later. I'll need to make a note of that and try to avoid ever making the same mistake again.

Also, I'm not comparable to anyone referenced above. I haven't created or synthesized a tradition, or anything. I'm just a guy that spends his nights reading a lot of books. It keeps things simple, and clean, I guess. Who wants students, anyway? Not I.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Re: Apocalypse Pharmaka, Part Deux.

Deus ex Machina

When I was in my sophomore year of college I made a classic mistake: I began reading literature put out by the anti-Psychiatrists. If you want to undermine your faith in any given field, and their narrative of success, just look into the works of the dissidents. The primary concern of the anti-Psychiatrists was that Psychiatry was being used as a tool for control of the populace, rather than helping make adjustments that would benefit the mentally ill and allow them to lead healthier lives.

Their stance exploded into view following a report in Science entitled “On Being Sane in Insane Places” that undermined the entire field of both psychology and psychiatry: the Rosenhan Experiment. What happened, in brief, was this:

Rosenhan and several participants went to several institutions (around twelve), and told those involved that they heard a voice (auditory hallucination). The voice, which was always the same gender as the participant, didn't say much except for the following words: “hollow,” “empty,” and “thud.” Everyone was diagnosed as schizaphrenic or another diagnosis along those lines, and Rosenhan himself had to spend two months institutionalized, even though once admitted all participants claimed immediate relief. The catch was this: none of them were insane, and they were all faking their symptoms.

Upon returning to the world of the “sane,” Rosenhan revealed what he'd done. Institutions immediately began challenging him to try it again, and Rosenhan seemed to agree. Within a month he began receiving details: around 193 patients were considered to be his, with at least 42 considered suspect. In reality, this time Rosenhan had sent no-one.

The effect on the Psychological and Psychiatric communities was one of melt-down. The entire premise of their diagnoses were now suspect, and a glaring error was exploding into the light. In response the DSM volumes began to be produced.

Ahha!” Said the community, backed by new unique strands of thought (biological psychology, biopsychiatry, etc). “We've fixed the problem!”

With the new American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM V) slated for publication next year, leaders in American psychiatry are criticizing the volume as unreliable.
The DSM is the compendium of conditions psychiatrists use to diagnose their patients and, to a great extent, determine what treatments would benefit them. The DSM also has extremely important implications for what kinds of psychiatric problems insurers will cover and even which ones schools and employers will consider disabilities.
Dr. Allen Frances, professor emeritus at Duke University, who was actually the chairman of the DSM-IV task force, asserts in a recent blog published that the clinical trials that supposedly determined whether the new DSM V is a good and accurate guide “have been a pure disaster from start to finish.” He calls the trials a “fiasco” and accuses the American Psychiatric Association of having “lost its competence and credibility.”...”

Oh, yes. That's right. This newest version is just as abhorrent as the DSM iterations that came before, and now it's gotten to the point that leaders in the community are challenging it. History has that tendency, remember?, to repeat itself. Here it occurs again, but it's hard to know the complete story of what you're seeing unless you know how to look for it.

Albow continues:
“Frances is by no means the only critic of the DSM-V. I have written before that advocates for those with autism have expressed grave concerns that the new guidelines proposed to diagnose that condition could leave out 10 to 45 percent of those currently diagnosed with the condition, leading to millions of children having no insurance coverage related to it.
But Frances alleges much more. He cites data that indicates that the DSM V signs and symptoms that are proposed to define Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are unacceptably inaccurate. And he worries that the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Journal of Psychiatry, which published a positive review of the DSM V has been “forced into the role of a cheerleading house organ, not an independent scientific journal.”
Given the concerns of leading psychiatrists like Frances, with whom I happen to agree, it is time to give real consideration to fundamentally changing the way psychiatrists use the DSM and encouraging them to think much more about what caused the disorders they are diagnosing.”

The view from afar remains solid: the very pressures that created the anti-Psychiatry movement in the first place are on the prowl again. “We figured it out!” was the resounding cheer that lead to dissent in the 1970s. It has returned with a resounding blast of madness. Except that it isn't the patients that are mad in this case: the community at large has been bought out, and evidence of it is leaking all over the place.

Psychic Whiplash!

The DSM and the way we handle patients are but one area where the focus has gone out, and the reality of the situation remains beyond the reach of current practitioners. But then again: I openly side with their antagonistic, sometimes better-halves. Laing, for example, may have been interesting and well intentioned, but he also made use of Game Theory in his work, which was rather disastrous in the long run.

Another glaring issue remains the drug companies, and how they are tampering with trials and knowledge of the risks involved using their proposed treatments. I covered this in the last round of my responses to Gordon's Apocalypse Pharmaka entries. But I've spent some time really considering the problem and decided that the only way to shed some light on these factors is to return to the old view of Materia Medica. The view was this, until around the 1940s: All Medicines Are Poisons. In small doses, with the right causes, those glorious secondary metabolites in plants can help us... Or kill us, in larger doses. The true genius of a doctor laid in his ability to accurately balance the risks of medicine against the possibility of leaving the problem untreated.

You know that medicines are poisons because we would not have side-effects without them. The side effect is a sign that what you're taking is working, but it's also a sign that too much will kill you. This is part of the reason that I become some irate about the issue of “drugs.” Our social dialogue on the matter sucks, and as a byproduct people have bought into the narrative that what we're doing with medicine is somehow good or wholesome. Let me assure you: it is not.

Quoting Dr. Healy, an expert in Psycho-Pharmacology (Pharmacology is the field that replaced Materia Medica) in So Long and Thanks for all the Fish:
“In 1860 at a meeting of the Massachusetts’ Medical Society Oliver Wendell Holmes made one of the most celebrated comments in medicine. While noting that medicines, particularly opium, could help, he nevertheless made it plain that he thought that on balance medicines risked doing more harm than good. You can’t be much plainer than this:
“I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes”...”
The view we should get away from is that we're discussing “drugs” at all. In fact, we're discussing chemicals which affect the body, and which are often poisons. (The other word, “toxin” is one I reserve for the more deadly of the different secondary metabolites.) All of these compounds are dangerous in some situations, but that danger lessens in others. This includes your prescription drugs, and please take that into account. Some compounds are less dangerous than others.

Yesterday, two states voted to legalize pot. Meanwhile, the DEA seems to be insisting they'll ignore these decisions. The question that remains is whether or not we will return to some semblance of sanity regarding what drugs are, where they come from, and their legality versus illegality? Can we stray from the abyss that opened up beneath us, question the narratives of past generations, and move on? If I told you that by leveling the playing field by adopting the old mentality with regards to materia medica, we could take steps to both end a century of prohibition and the corruption in the ranks of some of our most celebrated fields of science and soft science, would you believe me?

Regardless, I continue to desire something better than the messes we currently have. What about you?