Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Saturn/Mercury

About eight days ago, Saturn went retrograde. (How was your day of Phasis?) A few days later, Mercury went retrograde.

If you're dealing with insecurities, etc, then this is the time to sort them. Not to post about your self-loathing, not to piss off people who think differently, and so on.

Pick up your copy of Graeco-Egyptian Magic or The Book of Abraxas, or Betz, run the Calling of the Sevenths, or astrally head to Mercury or Saturn and see what lessons you need to deal with... And then get on with your goddamn lives.

For the last two years, the Saturn and Mercury retrograde seasons have not only sucked but involved people who should know better (so-called "Adepts") starting flame-wars and shit. It's gotten old.

As for me: I'll be back to transcribing PBR's basic practices from Mageia Sexualis and maybe some Dioscorides this week.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Volantia

Zeus, wielding the thunderbolt.
“Every student, who wishes to penetrate the mysteries of Eulis and the Ansairetic mysteries must, from the beginning and in all circumstances, learn from his master in order to advance on the path of wisdom, thereby becoming a master and a not a slave. It is necessary to seek, moreover, to constantly expand his intellectual horizons and his forces of individual action: the mental forces, the magnetic forces, the psychic forces.

The student must learn to exercise his diverse capacities and his will in a calm fashion and without nervous exhaustion. This is that which we call “Volantia.” We find it in the example of the irresistible force of the thunderbolt that breaks and burns but never tires. The student must develop for himself this elemental force – Volantia – which is passive when it obeys the order of the intellect, self disciplined, exempt of all emotion.

This force must be developed and fortified by a mechanical procedure I order that some emotion does not come to influence the student at the heart of the exercise, which must be practiced every day.

One hangs a white disc on the wall, which is black at the center. One stares at the black center of the disc for 60 seconds, remaining perfectly motionless. This fortifies the capacity for concentration in the student and also his attention. When the prescribed minute elapses, one turns the face – without changing the position of the eyes – towards a white surface, on which the optical illusion we see is the same disc, but the colors are reversed, the background is black with the center being white.

The illusory vision disappears after a few seconds, and is repeated again if one persists without moving. One must look at the disc four times and, later on, seven times. When the student has become familiar with this first exercise, he should repeat it with other discs, colored successively in the order of the spectrum of the colors of the arch of heaven. Thus he develops three capacities: attention, concentration, and attraction.

Five or six months later – if he methodically exercises every day – the student will have acquired the capacity to create, in calmly staring at a white surface, a mental form clothed in a corresponding astral body. This body will manifest before the student so that communication is established between the two.

The same exercise may be made with the aid of a magic mirror, in the middle of which is fixed a small white disc. The willed effect is thus obtained more easily and quickly: a figure appears suddenly on the polished surface of the mirror and you may question this figure that you see.

No danger is attached to this genre of phenomena, but there are students who cannot support these visions. We council these students not to persevere but to abandon this first path of magic, for when sensitivity degenerates into fear, it is a sign of feebleness. Strong souls can and must advance.

For a thirty day period of of exercise, we prepare the discs in the following manner: we drive three nails into the center of the disk, at the distance of one inch, one to the other. The first nail is of zinc, the second of copper, the third of iron. One wraps the nails with a wire of copper or zinc, which one holds by its extremities in the right hand. One stares at the center of the disc, remaining perfectly still.

One obtains by this center, the concourse of electricity, which consolidates the attention and favors the quality of concentration, and it is rendered more positive. It is necessary to repeat this exercise during a period of three to eight months before trying to operate with metaphysical objects.

These exercises, designed to develop “Volantia,” just as those which will will describe further on to develop Descretism and Posism, must be made with the greatest attention and with perfect seriousness. For the least failure on the magical path provokes the nerves and affects the memory.

We repeat here: Do not continue if you experience anguish or nervous fear.”
- Paschal Beverly Randolph, Mageia Sexualis (Apparently first written in 1868). From the Robert North translation, published in 1988.

Additional Comments: This is very similar to one of the concentration methods I was taught years ago, and follows along the same lines as the mental discipline (“mind control”) techniques found in Peter Carroll's Liber Null. (The method I was taught involved either attaining a white-out or black-out state using either a shoebox with a hole cut for a powerful light, or black-out using blacked out welding goggles, and visualizing first a red dot at the center. Within three weeks, the individual begins visualizing a red Triangle, then continues to visualizing a red pyramid, and then begins moving on to visualizing human-shaped figures. Each of these allows for the easier creation of thoughtforms, improves Sigils results due to enhancing concentration, etc.) It is a very good method for training aspects of the Will, and highly recommended.

The first iteration of
Volantia I encountered was in Carroll “Poke” Runyon's The Book of Solomon's Magick. As such, it seems fitting to me to dedicate this entry to Vivianne R., who introduced me both to the book and inadvertently (though it took years for me to realize), P.B.R. Rest easy, Viv. I miss you.

Jack.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hekate & Raisins (& Dogs)


“In January though, the offering I left for Hecate using the same bowl was still there even the [day] after..I was kind of [disappointed] because I thought the great goddess must have not approved of something in my offering.. The only thing I did different was to add some black raisins in the honey cakes and also used some of the first flour mixture that remained from the first offering. Do you think I should have made a fresh flour mixture? Could the black raisins might not have been favored by Hecate?...Any input would really help me!”
Well, Anon, on the matter of whether you should reused a previously used flour mixture or not, I can't really say. I generally make everything that I can fresh, or I purchase it that day. I would recommend divination if the concern arises again.

As for the raisins:
The first thing to note is, as far as I understand it, the practice of giving sweet fruits, candied treats, and the like was a form of Orphic substitution, eliminating the need to immolate an animal in a correctly made ritual pit. The supper given to Hekate, however, may have predated the rise of the Orphic cults and their methods of “vegetarian” substitution offerings to the dead and Cthonic divinities.

In theory, I see nothing wrong with adding raisins to honey-cakes. They're sweet, and delicious, and you put work into the cakes. That's all solid, and if you were giving it to any other divinity there would probably be no problem. The problem that arises is that evidence has been gathering over the last 15 years (from 1999 on) that raisins and grapes can cause renal failure in a percentage of dogs. The reason for this deadly affliction isn't presently known, though a mycotoxin (or a mold) is suspected. (However, it was never found in the inspected grapes and raisins of the dogs who were adversely afflicted.)

In the cases where you expect homeless dogs will probably chow down on your offering – which is quite fitting – I would advise against using raisins.

Incidentally, you can also consider waiting three days (unless you're concerned the offering bowl is going to mysteriously vanish; I normally just use paper plates and paper bowls, but I don't really check up on my offerings). Unless the crossroads that you're using is heavily trafficked by the homeless or wild animals, it probably won't get taken immediately. I don't think this is so much a sign of the goddess being displeased or anything, as much as the simple low probability of someone or something coming across the chow and enjoying themselves.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fundamentalists

I don't really know how to address this topic without being... honest about my past. At the same time, I wish to be careful because the current dialogue about Pagan Fundamentalism has very little – aside from the word “fundamentalism” – to do with my life experiences. This is compounded by the fact that I hate discussing the period of my life that I'm about to, even if I do it briefly.

So, fourteen years ago I went – almost overnight – from being expected to one day be a Pastor, to being a persona non-grata in the Church I was being raised in. This event forced me to confront the religion of my childhood, my own life experiences, and to change my ways somewhat drastically.

What happened was that a young girl I loved, very dearly, hung herself on accident in the shower. A Church Elder and Youth Minister from my Southern Baptist Convention-aligned church came over to my house and told me that she went to Hell, and then backed it up with Biblical passages condemning suicide. I was warned that I ought to love God more than I had the young, now dead, girl.

And, so, I snapped on him. I almost physically assaulted the man. This culminated in the Church Elders requesting that I leave, and preferably never return.* The individual who had inspired all of this would later be thrown out of the Church as well, however his crime was having sex with a seventeen year old.**

And so I became a heretic. I was positive that the God worshiped by my former church was real. I was also absolutely convinced, in an almost Gnostic fashion, that he was pure evil. These days I am far more lenient in my outlook, but I still have quite a bit of distaste for those who purport themselves to be holy and police others while hiding their own terrible habits, practices, and thoughts as if they don't exist.

The churches I was raised in existed in a range between liberal and extremely conservative, but the one that kicked me out was – at the time – fairly liberal. It was, however, influenced by a number of Fundamentalist voices that we hear transmitted across the radio and broadband frequencies daily. The Church Elders were also largely conservative, and their thoughts were very much in line with the thoughts expressed by the Southern Baptist Coalitions ranking members.

So, when I got older I made it a point to begin looking into the history of the church of my youth – and of those factions like the Anabaptists (who I've brought up before) – to see what had transpired to create such a ghastly blend of madness and public policing of morality. What I discovered was that around 1979, the SBC was rent by a series of abusive exchanges between the moderate Quietists and liberals in the Church and the Fundamentalist evangelicals. The Quietists and liberals were expelled and replaced with Fundamentalists, eventually leading to the Christian Right using the SBC as a vehicle for their political machinations.

In other words, the leaders of the denomination that created the hostile environment I eventually found myself steadfastly against had not always been the leaders of the church but represented just one of many “Right/Left” pendulum shifts that tend to occur naturally in the lifespan of many religious bodies.

So it was with great interest that I recently came across this article, written by the BBC's Adam Curtis, entitled Who Would God Vote For? It compares the rise of the Christian Right in America, lead by the televangelists, to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and the events that eventually lead to the “regenerative Christianity” of America to be allied with Khomeini in Iran, culminating in the Iran-Contra Affair.

But the part that interests me is that both sets of powers were shifting into high gear in 1979, at the same time the SBC was undergoing a political coup of sorts. It was certainly not a coincidence, and so seeing the motives of the undertaking pinned down is especially enlightening.

The point I would make here is this:
The danger of “Fundamentalism,” particularly when it comes to religious groups, is their ability (now sacrosanct in America, apparently) to enforce their views on the populace at large. This danger does not presently exist in neo-Pagan and polytheistic circles except in minority cases. Tim Alexander and the various Nazitru groups come to mind. However: they are not and have never been particularly powerful, and while they are worth discussing, those discussions require specifics and specific statements that need to be assessed. A number of hard polytheists have been rather annoyed to see their perspectives compared to – and dismissed – as fundamentalism when they are not, in fact, fundamentalists.

Furthermore I have yet to see a single person discuss – as Ananael recently did – the “sanctity/degredation” axis of moral reasoning and how it comes into play with Fundamentalists. This is one of the major points to pay attention to, and the reason I mentioned Tim Alexander. If you've ever seen that guy rant about anything, it was probably about keeping out “degredation” from his would-be State Religion.

I am not, and I will never be, a reconstructionist. In fact, I've made my thoughts in the State religion of the classical Empires quite clear. However, I do think it's extremely disingenuous to to discuss the issue of Fundamentalism the way I've seen it approached. I say this as someone who sought to escape it, and actually managed to mostly do so.***

If you're going to discuss the subject, you can't simply limit it to “foundational mythologies” the way I've seen recently. It is certainly involved, but hardly the only player. Nor is it the most dangerous player on the field of the discussion.

Finally, there is a difference between elitism and fundamentalism.

* I understand that I was later excommunicated.
** I totally don't have residual issues with authority figures due to the events. Not at all. Heh.
*** Okay, so my perspective can be downright traditionalist at times. However, that doesn't make me a fundamentalist.

[Note: Quietism should be pietism. Although, in retrospect, I was taught a number of ideas that came from the Quietist school of thought, such as that all of your actions ought to be mediated by the Holy Spirit, which would inform you of God's plan (or something) through constant prayer. The state of sinlessness thought to be achieved by many Quietists, however, was never really regarded as possible by anyone I spoke with. They all stressed that this should be done because we, and the world, were sinful. These individuals were also a minority compared to the much larger Morality Police.]

Monday, February 4, 2013

Like a Plague of Locusts




Black. Iron. Prison.

It isn't the Christians you should be so concerned about, little bird. Other spectres are revivifying themselves as we speak. Everywhere. Pay attention.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hic Svnt Liones

“But what a hunt that is! Killing is dismemberment, and with it, at the height of the frenzy, comes the devouring of raw flesh. “Dressed in the holy deer-skin, he hunts the blood of dying goats with a ravenous lust for raw flesh.” This is the song of the Euripidean chorus of Dionysus. Like their master, the maenads, too, pounce on their victims to devour their flesh raw. That no longer describes the hunter. That describes the beast of prey. And this is just what the epithet ὼμησιτής means to say, for it was to the god as the “eater of raw flesh,” that is to say, as a beast of prey that three Persian youths were sacrificed before the battle of Salamis. Elsewhere the word ὼμησιτής usually describes lions. But the other beasts of prey (wolves, eagles, vultures, and dogs) are characterized by it. When Hecuba in the Illiad calls Achilles this, she is comparing him to a merciless beast of prey...”
(P. 109)



 “His ability to transform himself into something else is stressed. He is the “god of two forms” (δίμορϕος), “the god of many forms” (πολνυειδήϛςς καὶ πολύμορϕος), “Appear as a bull, or as a many-headed dragon, or as a lion breathing fire!” This is the invocation of the chorus to Dionysus in Euripides' Bacchae. In the battle against the giants he was a lion. To the daughters of Minyas he appeared in the form of a young girl and suddenly changed into a bull, a lion, a panther. In Nonnus (who also tells of the many transformations of Zagreus in his battle with the Titans), the Indian Deriades complains of the impossibility of conquering him – Dionysus – because the πολυειδής (the many-formed one) was now a lion, a bull, a boar, a bear, a panther, a snake, and now a tree, fire, water.”
(P. 110)
Lover of Wine
The panther, as is well known, appears in descriptions of a later period as the favorite animal of Dionysus and is found with him in countless works of art. As Philostratus tells us, the panther leaps as gracefully and lightly as a Bacchant, and this is the reason the god loves him so. It was even maintained that he had a passionate love for wine. At the same time, however, it was because of his intractable savagery that he was compared with Dionysus. As the Gigantomachy can illustrate, the lion was already associated with Dionysus very early in history. In Homeric Hymn 7, Dionysus frightens the pirates who had captured him by having a lion appear. In Euripides, he himself is invoked to appear as a lion (see above), and it is as such that he appears to the daughters of Minyas, to their horror (see above). There are other references which could be made here: there is, for example, Dionysus Κεχηνώς on Samos, who is said to have received his shrine because of the gratitude and loyalty of a lion. Euphorion wrote a poem on the incident.

Usually it is said that the lion and the panther were not originally associated with Dionysus but entered his retinue by way of Asia Minor through contract with the cult of the Great Mother. But there were lions were on the Balkan peninsula itself even in later eras, and even if the panther was not indigenous there, it need not have become a member of the god's retinue because of external borrowings. It is very doubtful whether gods and cults were as ready to accommodate themselves to one another as moderns – to whom they have no serious import – like to imagine. As long as a god was still thought to exist, what he actually was had to determine whether he attracted or repelled this or that to his orbit. Whenever or however the worshipers of Dionysus got to know the panther, which was as beautiful as it was dangerous, its nature told them immediately that it was akin to Dionysus and had to belong to his realm. That is confirmed by the other beasts of prey, similar to the panther, who were associated with Dionysus earlier or later.
Ever since the Augustan Age, Roman writers, following of course, the Greek tradition, like to name the lynx as a beast of Dionysus. This animal had been native to Greece from a very early time and is still found there today. The panther or leopard, and the lynx (the tiger, too, is added in the references out of Roman literature) have that very thing in common which justifies comparing them in more than one respect with the nature and actions of the maenads. This makes itself felt the most in the panther, which was, after all, the most loyal attendant of the god. Of all the cats devoted to Dionysus, it was not only the most graceful and fascinating but also the most savage and bloodthirsty. The lightning-fast agility and perfect elegance of its movements, whose purpose is murder, exhibit the same union of beauty and fatal danger found in the mad women who accompany Dionysus. Their savagery, too, fascinates those who watch them, and yet it is the eruption of the dreadful impulse to pounce on the prey, tear it into pieces, and devour its flesh raw. We are told that the leopard and the lynx are the most murderous of all the larger beasts of prey. Many more victims must bleed to death under their teeth than would be needed for their sustenance. And when one hears that a female leopard which is suckling her young is the bloodthirstiest of all the carnivores, one cannot help thinking of the maenads who were also nursing mothers.
It is true that the world of the other gods are not without paradox. But none of these worlds is as disrupted by it as is the world of Dionysus. He, the nurturer and the god of rapture; he, the good who is forever praised as giver of wine which removes all sorrow and care, he the deliverer and healer (…), “the delight of the mortals” (…), “the god of many joys” (…), the “benefactor” (…), — this god who is the most delightful of all the gods is at the same time the most frightful. No single Greek god even approaches Dionysus in the horror of his epithets, which bear witness to a savagery which is absolutely without mercy. In fact, one must evoke the memory of the monstrous horror of eternal darkness to find anything at all comparable. He is called the “render of men” (…), “the eater of raw flesh” (…), “who delights in the sword and bloodshed.”...”*
(p. 111 – 113.)
- Walter F. Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult. (Chapter 9: “The Somber Madness.”)

* Some of the titles in Greek just got too goddamn tiresome to try and make sure I copied correctly. And I probably didn't do the initial ones correctly, either. But, you know what? I like that chapter, a lot.