Friday, May 17, 2013

Strange Pastures

Sod Off, indeed, Mr. Constantine.
[Warning: At  points, my tone drips with vitriol. Largely, this has been inspired by variations of this silly debate over time.]

I am a Chaos Magician.

We don't have a tradition of magick based on lineage, so much as based on shared viewpoints, considerations, and quite often, desires. Chaos Magick arose out of the discordant babble of Punk Rock and Rave Music and a generation of young magicians way back in the late 1970s and on into 1980s and 1990s.

We claim only a few magical orders to our name, but an ever growing populace of followers. From our terrible fold was unleashed such magicians as: Andrew Chumbley, a former member of the IOT who went on to work with the Clan of Tubal-Cain and found the Cultus Sabbati. Peter J. Carrol, who founded the Chaos Magick order known as the Illuminates of Thanateros. William S. Burroughs, who was (as far as I know) an IOT member and is arguably one of the greatest American writers to ever walk the planet. Phil Hine, who was the head of the IOT in the years following Carroll's departure for other fields and wrote two of the most beloved books on magick that we've ever produced. Fr. U.D., meanwhile, is a member of the German Thelema-offshoot known as the Fraternitas Saturnai and has produced equally excellent material for the aspiring magician. My favorite author from the American sphere of Chaos Magick is certainly Stephen Mace, whose love of Austin Spare may very well surpass my own. Fenwick Rysen, who recently released the Z-cluster archives and maintains the archival site also deserves some special mention, particularly as someone who has written on something I'm about to bring up.

Chaos Magick found its primary contributions of the current slew of magical practices by offering the possibility of technique to anyone, as well as the respective commentaries – for good or ill – of the past and present. Amongst these commentaries was the general recognition that previous generations of magicians built the systems that they used out of multiple outlooks and that these systems could at times be as much of a cause for concern as ignoring them altogether.

I will provide three examples for the sake of clarity, all pre-dating the rise of Chaos Magick itself.

- Paschal Beverly Randolph's system of magick. Paschal combined Hermetic techniques with those of Mesmerism, included ideas that were being promoted by Spiritualists in his day (and he spent quite some time considering himself one of them until he split with them and wrote The Unveiling: My Thoughts on Spiritualism). He also pulled from elements of folk magick and traditional Grimoire magick, resulting in a unique synthesis of magick specific to the 19th century. Included in his system are details for manipulating and utilizing the scrying mirror a piece of technology which is still debated hotly by some Grimoire magicians despite the fact that we know for certain it was used by nigromancers and necromancers in 14th, 15th, and 16th century Europe. What many of these individuals fail to realize is that Paschal also demonstrates a body of techniques to use along with the mirror that enable it to be more safely than many imagine. Central to its use is his Volantia, which is used to strengthen the will of the magician to prepare for mirror scrying, and Descretism, which is a means of giving orders that must be obeyed. Descretism owes much to the Mesmerism techniques of Joseph Francois Deleuze (1735-1835), and utilizing a voice in which Will and Authority are issued from it seem to have been common for Mesmerists.

- The Golden Dawn system of magick. The Golden Dawn system is a bit harder for me to talk about, as it employs elements I routinely ignore. Nonetheless the system itself utilizes the Enochian language of John Dee, elements of Qabalah as they filtered in through Renaissance magical practices, and other elements that evolved from specific texts central to the GD, like the Cipher Text and its inclusion of the elemental Pentacles used by a great many magicians today. QBL purists tend to dislike mistakes made by the GD practitioners in their system, even though QBL is mostly treated as a map in the system rather than treating the Tree of Life as the literal embodiment of spirit in the universe. In many cases, it is possible that errors are corrected by the Enochian currents in the GD system... But that is a debate for those well versed in the GD system, Enochian, and QBL – not one such as I, who treats QBL as an alien monstrocity that threatens to overwhelm previous outlooks on magick by subsuming them into a weird-ass construct that makes no sense.

- The Theosophical society and its... I don't even want to call the misguided outlook of the Theosophical society a “system,” but I know people who use their materials and seem to get something out of it. Anyway, the Theosophical system was built out of synthesizing Christian, Spiritualist, and Hindu practices and beliefs with a hefty dose of what can best be described as 'weird shit'. Theosophists seem to have popularized the concept of magical energy – a bastardized way of looking at magical power and the popular imagination regarding electricity, not to mention eastern ideas like Chi/Qi and Prana – which survives and is utilized to this day.

All of these systems recompiled older ideas and materials from previous magical generations, and in some cases created problems by trying to synthesize outlooks on magick that don't necessarily work together very well. In other cases, there are no problems, until we begin utilizing specific materials together that may well contradict one another.

Recognizing some of these issues, Chaos Magicians turn to what we tend to call “The Models of Magick,” a set of general models which fuel the various systems of magick. Ever since Fr. UD penned the piece, Chaotes have been obnoxiously attempting to create their own models or bickering over which works best. That doesn't really matter, though.

The reality of the situation is that most practitioners today utilize multiple models at once. It is rare to see someone who doesn't combine the spirit and energy models, for example, to fuel what they do. They “build up energy” to provide for calling up spirits, or making them, and possibly even “feeding” them with it. As long as it works, no one questions it. But once someone encounters a problem, they tend to default into looking into their system or even their outlook for where problems arose from.

I bring this up thanks to a set of recent pieces by Sannion wherein he chronicles the deeply upset outlook of various Reconstructionists (see here, here, and here) and other practitioners, and they rant about people who call up fictional characters and act like it is the same as their deeply serious religious outlook on matters.

From a Chaos Magician's standpoint, the most important fact of all magical endeavors is that they should be an adventure. Thus quaint questions about what you're about to call into the mirror matter less than the act of calling the thing up in the mirror. In fact, seeing if something that you know is blatant fiction will appear is seen as quite interesting, as it raises the question of what we are interacting with at different times. I say this as someone who once spent four hours discussing the practice of magically manipulating others with Nyarlathotep. Insofar as I'm concerned, the conversation with a blatantly fictional Lovecraftian character was far more inspiring at the time than a number of other attempts I made to contact different divinities. It certainly was as much fun as seeing Dionysos.

Instead of furthering the debate by directly addressing the silly critisms of those who are afraid they won't be taken seriously, I'm going to explain how to scry up something you know is not real, and is completely fictional. You can use the same techniques to call up something you're pretty sure isn't fictional later, and devastate whatever stupid little qualms are running through your head if you feel it is necessary. [EDIT: The previous is wrong. That was my ego talking. For the love of God, don't do that. This suffices for thoughtform work, but you want way more protections and sway on your side for a standard evocation.] Why? Chaotes just call fictional characters that can be summoned 'thoughtforms', and consider learning how to scry more successfully a more legitimate goal than ranting about metaphysical validity. If that bothers you? You can drink a nice, tall glass of “shut the fuck up.” Because, really, we care deeply about your concerns.

For this operation you will need:
1. A mirror that has bad the reflective surface removed and glossy black paint. Should that prove to be too much trouble, finding a suitable picture frame with glass and backpainting the glass glossly black should work. I prefer circular and oval mirrors, but you may feel differently. It really doesn't matter.
2. A premade sigil from the character's name. If you plan to call up Batman, for example, you can sigilize “Bruce Wayne” and then also use his bat logo as another sigil. Hell, you can also make one for 'Batman' and have a set of three to work with. If you don't know how to make a sigil, see any book on Chaos Magick ever written, as or at least half the other essays on the subject ever written.
3. A candle, or three candles. (Unless you're doing it during daylight hours and don't need the light to illuminate your reflection.)
4. A bar of soap, or an ink pen which can be washed off when you're done. With the black surface, something white or gray will probably appear more legibly than otherwise.
5. A watch, unless you don't need it. (See below.)
6. Incense, preferably Frankincense and Myrrh or Three Kings Incense.

Now select an appropriate space to work in. You won't want to be disturbed while you trip balls and talk to a man or woman in a black mirror. If you want, you can also cart the thing to a crossroad and make use of that place's inherently liminal aspects to bolster the work. But it's just as easy to do at home. (The mirror, after all, doesn't have to be particularly large.)

With most thoughtforms, you won't need to set down a circle because they don't have a huge amount of power to toss your way.
However if you feel the need to put one down, and place the mirror within a triangle, feel free to do so. Extra layers of protection never hurt anyone as far as I know.

For choices of when to work, that depends on the character. If you plan to chat up Batman, he is a blatantly lunar character (“I am the night!”) and the lunar hours of the day can be used to bolster what you're doing. Superman, on the other hand, is quite solar and would well with the Hours of the Sun. Spock, of Star Trek fame (and discussed being called up by Andrieh Vitimus in his book on Chaos Magick) works well during Mercury hours.

Now, set up your mirror and cleanse the space. This can be easily done by tracing a circle around the area of working while fumigating it with the F+M incense. You can also banish if you feel it necessary. Remember that an LBRP won't suffice to clean out the space, but the F+M can fill in for a Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram. Or you can do the traditional LBRP + BRH. Whatever works, right?

Now place your sigil at the top or the bottom of the mirror. If you have multiple sigils, lay them out across the different points of the mirror, but be sure not to obscure the part where you will see your own reflection within. These sigils designate the desired spirit, along with our conjuration, and specify what we want to call within the mirror.

Now we light the candle, placing it before the mirror as a source of illumination, put ourselves in a hypnotic state of trance. This can be most easily done by staring at a fixed location
without blinking for around three and a half and four minutes. This is easier said than done if you have never practiced doing so before, and the complete noobie is recommended to take time and 'build up' to it. Paschal's practice of Volantia is immediately useful in the weeks preceeding scrying up anything. If you need something to stare at, just use the face of your watch. You should generally be aware of when the altered state of consciousness begins to kick in, as colors will begin seeming more vivid, your somatic sensations may increase, etc. For the purposes of this dialogue, it is worth noting that the smell of many traditional incenses also help create altered states of consciousness, and thus the incense serves a further role of facilitating entering one.

Now we conjure our thoughtform. For the purpose of this dialogue, I'm stealing an all purpose conjuration from David Rankine's
The Book of Treasure Spirits. In particularly, it descends from the Sloane manuscripts and is a general “invocation” (the author is not using the term in the way modern magicians tend to, but rather in its more archaic and literal use). It is rather long, and so I have shortened what we're using. For the full conjuration see The Book of Treasure Spirits, P. 48-54.
“O you Spirit, or Spiritual power, who is known to us from the Tradition of our Ancestors, & called by the Name of N: of what nature Order, Office, angle, Mansion or other place of abode wheresoever you are, or may be of, or do reside, frequent or in any wise properly or differently appertain or belong unto, or whether Elemental or Infernal, or other wandering Spirit or Power, either of Light or darkness, having the power given you to visit the Earth, & to execute the Commandments of the highest: and also by divine provision plainly & visibly, & in a fair & decent form to appear unto the Sons of Men, Servants of the most high God living on earth, whensoever you shall be of them Invocated, Commanded, called forth, moved, & thereby Conjured, & constrained thereunto, to obey them, to serve them, & to be friendly unto them, & readily forthwith to fulfill & performed all such their commands * requests which they shall make; wherein by nature Office order, place or power, you may in any wise by concerned or serviceable.

Know therefore O ye Spirit called by the name N: (as aforesaid) that we the Servants of the most high God, & reverently here present in his holy fear, do Conjure, Command, Constrain, move & call you forth to visible Appearance [Within This Mirror*], in the name of the most high Madzilodarp and by virtue and power of his glorious, great, mighty & sacred names, Tetragrammaton, Jehovah, Adonay, Zeboath, Jah, Saday, AGLA, EL, Elohim, Alpha & Omega, and who said, let us make Man, according to our Imagine & Similitude, & let him bear rule over the works of our hands, & have sovereign power & command over all Sublunar spirits, both Aerial, Terrestrial & otherwise Elemental, & all other wandering Spirits & Infernal Spirits, of all Orders & offices whatsoever, both of Light & Darkness, & by your Seal & Character, most firmly & solidly binding, subjecting & obliging you by Order and Office, both to the divine Command of the Highest, & his servants the sons of men, calling forth & moving you thereunto.

And we do also further Conjure, Compel, Command, Constrain, Call forth & move you, by nature, degree, Order & Office, unto what Hierarchy Mansion or Place of Residence whatsoever you appertain or belong unto, or wheresoever else you shall at this present be either wandering out of Orders,, or otherwise, O you spirit, who is called N: to visible appearance [within the mirror], Move therefore O you spirit N:...”

Obviously, this wasn't made for thoughtforms, but any general spirit encountered and conjured. However, they are just as compelled with such a work into the mirror. During the course of the conjuration, you should begin seeing your
face distort until it becomes the face of the spirit. This includes thoughtforms. Prior to that, it has been my experience that a range of colors and shapes begin shifting through the murk of the mirror, and the appearance of the spirit finalizes this process. The conjuration continues beyond what I've sampled, and is excellent for any number of “actual,” non-thoughtform spirits that aren't offended by the seriousness of the call, or the powers called on. Some spirits encountered seem to have minor changes to such compulsions, but these changes are best made by those used to it.

Generally, these operations will teach you to conjure spirits into the mirror. They might very well not teach you how to compell them, and Paschal's techniques fill in many gaps, however. Beginning with a thoughtform is actually advisable over other spirits, possibly with their own levels of authority, because thoughtforms can be far less dangerous when offended than spirits bearing any semblance of power on their own.

That said? It's an adventure. When you're done, give a standard license to depart:
“I hereby consent that
N: leave, to fulfill my requests, and give license to depart to any and all other spirits drawn to this working, etc. Hekas Hekas, etc.” And then close up shop, reversing your fumigated circle or doing another LBRP+BRH, etc.

“Playing” with such things as the magic mirror may not make you enlightened... But it may just give you the practice you need to confidently call up other spirits... Something a great many of the differing super-serious factions completely lack.

Be seeing you,

*I added the specification of within the mirror, obviously.

[EDIT]:  See this entry for a warning I was very foolish to have left out regarding standard conjurations and the mirror.


Gordon said...

"Instead of furthering the debate by directly addressing the silly critisms of those who are afraid they won't be taken seriously"

I love you.

Jason Miller, said...

Excellent post.

Question: What do you think the role, if any, of disembodied intelligence getting attracted and pulled into the evocation is. These beings perhaps taking the role of what you are evoking.

I often think this what is happening during some traditional evocations as well.

Rose Weaver said...


Deborah Castellano said...

Yes, this all of this. Thank you!

tanith said...

This post is magickal rock and roll.

Where can I read more about inducing trance by not blinking?

Jack Faust said...

Tanith: Haha! Thanks.

Okay, the basic method many Chaotes try out is in the first part of Peter Carroll's Liber Null & Psychonaut. It is part of his "mind control" techniques (how I wish he'd used the phrase 'mental discipline'...)

The fixed point gaze is also part of Paschal Beverly Randolph's Volantia building technique in Mageia Sexualis/Sexual Magick.

A slight variant on these, but no less interesting to use, is the Gaze techniques discussed by Fr. U.D. in High Magic (the first volume of the two part series). His variant has you unfocus your gaze, to learn to view/read auras and such.

What I have above is a very shortened version of some of the directions in Poke Runyon's The Book of Solomon's Magick, which is also awesome.

tanith said...

I have a copy of Liber Null/Psychonaut around, so I'll start there. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"4. A bar of soap, or an ink pen which can be washed off when you're done. With the black surface, something white or gray will probably appear more legibly than otherwise."

Uh...I'm not understanding what this is for. You mean to paint the sigil on the mirror, right?

Jack Faust said...

Anon: Yeah; I later state that you're putting the sigil, or sigils, on the mirror. Probably best done after you light the candle to provide your reflection.

Now if you're asking why we put the sigil on the mirror? During standard thoughtform creation, one would typically build up a body and then charge up the 'binding sigil' (or the sigil of the name, or desired effect) at the center of the form. We're exploiting the same principle. Our primary means of empowerment is the focus of the Will upon the mirror as the conjuration is spoken, and that empowerment is being spread across the surface of the mirror and charging up the sigil, too. We don't need to build a body since the distorted reflection, hypnotic trance, and such are in effect and (I assume, at least, although I'm open to the idea you may be indirectly creating it) the thoughtform also exists. The charged/empowered sigil also acts to make the mirror and atsmophere more hospitable to the thoughtform, which helps enormously in any mirror.

If this were a standard evocation, with something far more capable than a thoughtform, we would not put the sigil on the mirror in most cases. But that's another matter entirely.

The preference for using soap to mark the sigil is that it will be gotten rid of as soon as we're done, when we wipe down the mirror. This is the same reason you wouldn't want to permanently paint the sigil on. LOL.

Anyway, if I explained too much, sorry. I just wanted to be clear.

Sons of the Batman said...

I've been playing around with a magic mirror in evocations for a little while. Not too much success, so far, but I plan on trying out this method asap

Anonymous said...

Anyone ever called up Rorschach?

Nice post.

Rachel Izabella said...

I need I see The Book of Treasure Spirits. Till I can get it, at least I've now stolen your, um, borrowed all-purpose conjuration. Great stuff, despite your leaving out the warnings the first time around.