Friday, May 31, 2013

Necromancy Sources: 2.0

[Written during: Day of Venus: Hour of Venus]
Now With Less Wankery.

A while back, I felt sufficiently compelled to draw together a list of sources on the magical practice of necromancy. Subsequently, since writing it, I have found myself coming back to considering some of the views that initially compelled me to draw them together.

I don't consider myself a necromancer. I feel that this is something I should put down immediately, to clarify my position. Necromancy is part of the intersection of a vast swath of magical practices, that after being officially suppressed and diabolized, intersected with the emerging strand of European beliefs we call “witch-beliefs.” Being a member of a tradition of witchcraft, that made it of interest to me. I suppose the thing that has taken me a while to realize is that, as well, a good deal of my obsessions in the last year have also revolved around the subject. I am, quite frankly, not sure what to make of that knowledge. I do not, nonetheless, consider myself an “expert” or “scholar” on either the subject of witchcraft nor that of necromancy.

Still, I want this entry to be a point of convergence for various strands of thought I have seen in the world of magical writings that I have found inspiring. As such, I'm going to try and include both blog authors and those in the traditional publishing business. In the event that I've left you out, I ask that you don't take it personally. I may be unaware of your writing or unsure of where to put it in this compilation.

I want to again reiterate that in this case, I am attempting to avoid all forms of intellectual wank and simply put down what I've seen, and what I like about it. In a few places, I will happily admit that I was wrong about something, too. If you show up here, it means I dig your work and want to promote it as best I can. At a few points, I may even mention books and authors I haven't read just yet, but based on other material I've read, sounds pretty amazing and is something I plan to pick up in the near future. For readers new to the blog, I'll also add links to things I've written that they may or may not find interesting. I hope that doesn't come across as blatant self-promotion... And if it seems so, I will happily separate the following into two posts.

Necromancy, Classical Goetia, Hero Cults, the PGM and Greaco-Roman Reconstructionists.

- Books -

The Geosophia: Volumes One & Two
by Jake Stratton-Kent:
This book contains an enormous wealth of information regarding Hero Cults, necromancy in antiquity, and the influence they had on later magical practices. It is the follow up to another work, which will be mentioned later. I was particularly enamored with his references to magical practices in classical necromancy and subsequent comparisons to rituals from the PGM. 

The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by Hans Dieter Betz:
Do you know what will blow you away? Rituals from 2000 years ago involving elements drawn together from a broad range of magical practices encountered from Greece, Rome, and the Middle East. Plenty of the spells and rituals therein, at least in my experience, work precisely as they intended to do so. A few are, unfortunately, corrupted to the point of not being particularly useful. Nonetheless, this text has served me wonderfully for something like five years now, and I have been in love with the PGM since first encountering Stephen Flowers
Hermetic Magic.

Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies: Volume One by Emma & Ludwig Edelstein:
Who says that the heroic spirits can't heal you? This book will serve as a wonderful introduction to some of the cult practices of
Asklepios. Some of these practices were also involved in other Greek Hero Cults, such as Dream Incubation (Incubatio). This text is dense, but will provide some invaluable details to those interested in the less diabolic/infernal side of necromancy in Greece and Rome and a Healing Hero (Deity/Daimon; see the above work for the disagreements on what Asklepios... err, was thought as). 

The Book of Abraxas by Michael Cecchetelli:
Mr. Cecchetielli's book is particularly useful to those wishing to practice magick from the PGM and antiquity that also involves the celestial sphere. His set-up for rituals, some of the rituals he includes, and his comments on the
Defixiones are so good as to be unthinkable to pass up. I was a bit unnerved at how similar some of his ritual procedures were to my own, but some of his unique inclusions like The Coronastrum (p. 9) were especially inspiring. I very much intend to review this work at length and properly when I feel I better understand some of the minor changes he's made to rituals like The Stele of Jeu (his variant is entitled The Rite of Jeu and can be found on p. 25 of that work). This will require sending him a lengthy email at some point, which I hope he doesn't mind. The book has recently been reprinted, and you should get a copy before they run out. 

Jesus the Magician by Morton Smith:
This work first introduced me to the practices of the Goetes of antiquity; which, upon reading about, I declared: “I wish I could do THAT!” The comparisons between aspects of the Gospels and rituals of the PGM (particularly with Judaic and Christian magic interfaced with Greek magical practices) is especially enlightening. I strongly suspect that Mr. Smith (RIP, sir) cracked open a door... A door we should very much leave open in our investigations.

Restless Dead by Sarah Iles Johnston:
This text contains more information on the classes of the restless dead and their association with Hekate than I can possibly put down. I must admit that I have never finished reading it, because reading just three pages gets my intellectual wank going in an enormous way... And I have to put it down, think, and then return to it. Regardless, I've probably read most of it over the course of the last year and loved every moment of it. A text I have not read, but is worth mentioning (largely due to the love I have seen Melitta direct toward it) by the same author is Hekate Soteira. It is very much on my list of books to procure and work my way through in the next year.

Graeco-Egyptian Magick by Tony Mierzwicki.
This text focuses largely on the planetary forces and how they intersected with Greek and Egyptian magick. It is enormously useful for anyone interested in the rituals of the PGM, and shares similarities in approach to The Book of Abraxas. Of particular note, when it comes to necromancy, is Mr. Mierzwicki's comments on the soul of the practitioner and what was anticipated to follow death. Particular of how we shift, after death, to the Gate of the Moon, heading to inevitable Gate of Saturn before reincarnating. I found the last half of the book to absolutely fascinating, and it has proved to be very useful to me. Also of note is his use of Ptolemey's Tetrabiblios, a very useful text for many practitioners and which flows very much in accord with Mr. Mierzwicki's work.

The Syncretisms of Antinous by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus.
This author and blogger has produced an excellent piece of work on syncretisms, particularly as they apply to the
Cult of Antinous (Ekklesía Antínoou). Of particular note are this blogger's chapters on Hero Cults, Heroes, and Gods, as well as the plants occasionally associated with such beings. It is a thoroughly delightful work, and I heartily recommend it along with the blog and columns on Patheos. In fact, this person is my favorite author on Patheos. Of note are two of hirs other works: A Serpent Path Primer and The Phillupic Hymns. A Serpent Path Primer has excellent materials on syncretism, and The Phillupic Hymns has a number of hymns that magicians can easily put to use in their work. Phil, thank you very much.

- Bloggers & Blogs -

Sannion should be well-known to most of the bloggosphere. Every single one of his blog entries on the
Dionysiac Dead are amazing. Also of note are his comments on Orphism. Keep up the good work, brother.

Melitta Benu also deserves a special note. I do not pretend to always understand what she writes about, but I find myself learning more and more about the two Infernal Gods (Persephone and Hades) that she serves every time I read her blog. Of particular interest to plenty will be her entry
A Psuedo-Egyptian Rite for the Dead and Living.

Necromancy in the Middle Ages and into the era of the Grimoires

- Books - 

The True Grimoire by Jake Stratton-Kent
Who doesn't like
The Grimoirium Verum? And if you don't, why are you reading this blog? This book takes one of my favorite Grimoires and includes elements from Graeco-Roman Antiquity, from discussions on the links between demons and Daimons, to a very special place. I cannot recommend it enough. 

Crossed Keys by Michael Cecchetelli.
This book may not seem like it involves necromancy, but bears mention for two factors: the first is that it shares spirits with the True Grimoire, and the second is that it includes its own particular variant on the Hand of Glory. That it also involves Psalms and magical uses for them is a boon to those who enjoy working magick with the Psalms. It is highly recommended to anyone who picks up The True Grimoire.
 
Magic in the Middle Ages by Richard Kiechhefer.
This book is a veritable wonder of all manner of magical discouse relating to the middle ages. However, the seventh chapter is particularly good for getting a glimpse at the magical movements within the Church that spurred the Inquisition to action. Pared with a copy of Michael D. Bailey's essay From Sorcery to Witchcraft and Kiechhefer's other work entitled Forbidden Rites and you will have some pretty good scholarly material on the emergence of Necromancy between the 12th and 14th centuries, and how these concepts came to be applied to witch-beliefs that emerged around the same period and continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Book of Solomon's Magick by Carroll “Poke” Runyon.
This text is a goldmine of good information on mirror magic, a lot of which is drawn from later sources but can be applied to traditional Solomonic processes. Pared with Paschal Beverly Randolph's Sexual Magic and you will have a more-or-less full system of mirror practices which can be used for both traditional and non-traditional means. I love it, and I'm deeply indebted to the person who gave me my copy. It may not quite fit in with the above materials, but when you combine both the traditional perspectives it evolved out of, and Paschal's own work... Well. What's not to love?

- Bloggers -

Michael Cecchetelli's
The Lion's Den is astonishing, particularly when you get a look at the talismans that he puts up on there, as well as his occasional comments on magical practices.

Rufus Opus at
Head For Red also bears a special mention as the Agrippa's #1 fan, a title I give to him largely because he lives up to it.

I consider Jason Miller of Strategic Sorcery a fellow Chaos Magician whether he likes it or not, but his blog is enormously useful and his comments on conjuration – from traditional to non-traditional approaces – are most excellent. I absolutely love both his
Protection and Reversal Magic and The Sorcerer's Secrets. You cannot go wrong with any of his books, nor with taking his classes.

Fr. Ashen's A Magician's Workings is another goldmine of information on traditional evocation and conjuration. He has recently released Gateways Through Stone and Circle, which I very much look forward to getting my grubby fingers upon when the chance arises.

Aaron Leitch, who I probably shouldn't have complained about two days ago, is well known to most of those reading this blog, I'm sure. His essays are absolutely marvelous, and I recall one of his books having some of the best information on Psalm crafting I've ever seen... Although I cannot, for the life of me, recall which of them it was.

Witchcraft: Flying Ointments, Witch-Flight, & Proto-Witches & Cults.

- Books & A Magazine -

Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson:
This text just plain isn't for everyone. It is, however, just plain awesome. From his inclusion of evocation and the idea that the witch is calling upon demons due to a form of kinship, to his Magestellus (a protective familiar spirit that shares similarities with the manufacture of the Hand of Glory and the Galgen-Mannelin of Jakob Grimm; see p. 145), it is hard for me not to just shout “BUY IT!” Every practicing witch should own a copy. I love the entire book. I have heard that in the UK, witches are a bit put off by the work. I have no idea why; I was introduced to it through Traditional Witches, and know of at least one Traditional Coven that considers it required reading for would-be initiates. It also includes a variant of the Theban alphabet/cryptographic writing language that is immensely useful to anyone.

 A Mirror of Witchcraft by Christina Hole:
I have no idea how hard or not this book is to come by. I got it after asking a spirit where to find some books and going on a walk-about, where I purchased a first edition as a used copy for like... Five dollars. They were well spent. Included in it are folk charms used by practitioners in the UK between the 16th and late 19th centuries, as well as chapters on how witch-beliefs like the idea that Fairies and the Dead lived side-by-side became prevalent. It is enormously useful. If you can find a copy? I recommend buying it. The charms alone are worth at least $20.

Abraxas Magazine: Volume One, Edition One.
This isn't a book, and it may be quite expensive now. VVF and I ordered it shortly after it was released. It contains essays that are, however, invaluable by a number of witches... Including members of the Cultus Sabbati and others. Daniel Schulke's The Green Intercessor and the essay on flying ointments are both excellent and worth the $50 we threw down on their own. If you can get a copy of this marvelous magazine? Do so. It is also worth mentioning that I am a fan of all of Schulke's other works that I've encountered, including Ars Philtron. I won't compare him to Chumbley, as his works deserve their own merits in their own right.

 The Book of Treasure Spirits by David Rankine
Want a book full of conjurations for spirits that might tell you where to find buried treasure? How about the
Sloane materials relating to Fairies and spirits of the Dead involved with Treasure magic? This book is for you. I can't express my love for it enough. Of particular note is the similarity some rituals share with the The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, particularly the rituals involving Oberon/Oberion. I'm not even remotely done with this material. I can't wait for midsummer, and I'll leave it at that. On the topic of the Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, which I also completely recommend, the Fairie Sibyllia ritual also shows up in the JSK's Geosophia, volume one. See my links at the bottom for things I've written about Oberion and the Fairie Sibyllia. Honestly? I love all of Rankine and Sorita D'este's works. Buy all of it, if you can afford it. I certainly plan to.

- Bloggers -

Lady Scylla is a long-time friend of mine, and I love everything she writes over at
Root and Rock. Of particular interest on the subject of necromancy are her discussions on the Toad Bone Rite (which I have never performed), and the most recent entry up The Dead You Know / Diaspora of the Dead / Holy Supper.

The Witch of Forest Grove was the person who, more or less, prompted me to post the first round-up of source material. I am of the mind that even if that information proved useful to some, my antagonistic tone towards her was undo and I owe her an apology. Since writing The Dead Man's Hand (see at the end) entries, I have come across a number of glowing reviews for her flying ointments. Her initial essay on the matter is especially revered by many who need an introduction to the topic. In fact, some of the things she left out inspired me to make my own comments. However much I may occasionally disagree with little quibbles that are largely immaterial, I have to say, she does damn fine work.

Harold Roth of
The Alchemist's Garden has been absolutely kind to me, even when I feel like a noob on a subject I never expected to try and tackle... And which has blossomed into a more-than-slight obsession. His work on his other website, as well as the plants he offers to sell, is so insanely awesome that anyone who can afford to should consider taking advantage of all of it. He sold the seeds of the initial mandrake I took several years ago to my Initiatrix, as well as the seeds that VVF and I are germinating right now for next year. Harold, you're a godsend. And thanks bunches for... everything.

 Afro-Carribean Magic and Traditions.

[
NOTE: I am not presently a practitioner of any ATR religions, groups, etc. I do not represent any of them, and I am including them both because I consider what I've read fascinating, and because this entry will be aided by further inclusionism. In fact, plenty of those bloggers and authors I plan to mention also discuss other topics brought up above. In the event I have said anything flat-out wrong or misleading please, please, please correct me and I will make due edits. PLEASE. I want to be as respectful as possible, and that includes not putting out crap.]

- Books -
 

Palo Mayombe: Blood and Bone by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold.
As a complete outsider to Palo Mayombe, this book is a godsend of information. It also includes comparisons revolving the Greek classes of the Restless and Heroic Dead to the African necromancy-based practices. This is another book that I pick up, read a bit of, and then put down to think about. It is
absolutely beautiful. At his blog, The Starry Cave, Mr. Frisvold also discusses a number of topics regarding 'traditional magic' in the spheres of witchcraft, Afro-carribean traditions (particularly Palo Mayombe), and a number of other topics. I totally recommend his book, and his blog. While I have not read Exu & the Qimbanda Night of Fire I fully intend to. I may not be a practitioner, and I certainly won't pretend to be one, but I absolutely love what I've seen of his work so far. I can only imagine Exu is more of the same. 

Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition by Yvonne P. Chireau.
I know very little about the African American conjure tradition, which made this book a bit of a godsend. It inspects both the cultural elements that came to make the Conjure Tradition so manifest in the Americas. Like the above, I put it down, think a lot, and then come back to it. I may not practice Conjure, but I very much enjoy reading about it. I also absolutely love the author's style of writing, which I am not precisely sure how to describe... Perhaps I should say that when she writes about her cultural heritage, the joy that is sometimes missing in other texts is very much present and very much increases the joy I feel in reading her words. I recently caught a post that she was going to close down her blog, and so I won't link to it. [
Note: Yvonne, should you somehow come across this and desire a link to your blog, let me know. I'll happily add it.]

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African American Conjure by Catherine Yronwode.
The sheer amount of information on rootwork provided in this book is... truly astounding. While not all hoodoo or conjure may lead to necromancy, it certainly holds an interesting place in the African American and Afro-Carribean systems. In fact, I'm honestly not sure this book really should be stuffed in with the others... But I recall enough stray comments about purifactory elements that I'm still putting it down. I hope a few readers may at least look into it, as well as the enormous resources provided by Ms. Yronwode's
Lucky Mojo site and learn more about practices that happen every day in many American cities. If you need no better reason? You live beside it; you might as well be informed.

[
NOTE: There are a few other books, like Society of the Dead, that I would like to include or reference. But as I haven't even started on them, I'll leave them for another entry like this... maybe next year.]

- Bloggers -

Conjureman Ali bears some specific mention, as I found his entries on
Exu and Pomba Gira were most excellent and very informative to someone who rarely feels like they even remotely understand any part of Qimbanda. His recent works on Santisima Muerte and St. Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers look absolutely fascinating. While I haven't gotten to reading them yet, I fully intend on it. If they are even half as good as the blog entries he puts up, I fully expect to love them.

Brother Moloch is someone I have... responded to with antagonism before, rather than doing my best to understand where he is coming from. He probably never even noticed, but regardless, it was rather foolish on my part. His recent entries on Psalms and the band-wagon-jumping of Western magicians to ATR materials have been very interesting for me to read and think about. I have also seen rave reviews of his books put out that make me very inclined to nabbing them sometime in the next year or two.

I have been friends with Ryan Valentine for a very, very long time. As such, I've wanted him progress to where he is now... And it's honestly been a bit astonishing to see the transformations the man has gone through. His recent entry,
Last Words entailed a profoundly touching point of convergence on the topic of death and family. Ryan, I wish you all the best and love you with all my heart, man. Even if we fight like dogs every now and again. (That may just make me love you more, in fact.)

Balthasar at Conjure Gnosis is someone I rarely have a chance to interact with, but whose blog I very much enjoy reading. I believe he was also included in the
At the Crossroads Anthology, which I ought to own... But don't... yet.

Rachel Izabella at
The Way of the Transgressor is Hard is someone I have only come into contact with in the last year, but who I very much enjoy chatting with. She recently was kind enough to post a very Hekatean-oriented post regarding ancestor veneration and a basic ancestor altar that is very similar to some of the non-ATR elements I have been taught. I wasn't sure whether to have Rachel amongst the witches, or the ATR and hoodoo practitioners... [Rachel, if you want me to move where I placed this, let me know.]

The Tatas over Palo-mayombe.com, meanwhile, make for an amazing read whenever they update. Thanks for helping me be slightly less ignorant, guys. Seriously.

Stuff I've written or sampled that you, the reader, may like which may or may not intersect with the above:
The Dead Man's Hand. - The Witches' BrewStimulant PowderWell Met By DaylightThe Taunnhauser GateAll Aboard the VenusbergCakes & Dread Goddesses & the Dead... 

Should, as per usual, you find anything you are sure is flat-wrong? Tell me. Otherwise, expect another round-up in a year or two.

Be seeing you,
Jack.

[NOTE: Minor edits may occur.]

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anointing, the Blessed Dead, and Other Such Things in Christianity.


I wish to be careful with my initial description of the book, because it largely confirms some suspicions I have had for a long time... And at the same draws off a few sources that I also consider dubious at best. In particular, the author refers to the burial of Father Fancois Berenger Sauniere. The author is drawing off Holy Blood, Holy Grail (which he openly states), but which is also a text that is not considered precisely scholarly. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is probably most notable for both inspiring the idea that Jesus may have been married to Mary Magdalene, and for inspiring The Da Vinci Code by author Dan Brown.

I can, however, forgive this. After all, the author has interesting reasons for using Sauniere's funeral as part of his dialogue about the role of the Blessed Dead in Christianity, and their connection to sacred oils and sacred foods. And while I find myself enjoying his theories, I am not exactly sure of his scholarship. Nonetheless, the second chapter entitled Sacred Oils, Sacred Foods is so fascinating as to be worth the price of the book. I should note, here, that at times the author's tone borders on snark, but that tone is (in my opinion) often quite appropriate.

He opens up by establishing that “Christ” is not a name of Jesus, but a title. This is familiar ground for many in these circles. But bear with me:
In his popular book The Golden Bough, which was first published in 1890, Sir James Frazer explains that the word messiah was originally used as a title for the one who was anointed. Frazer states that for a person who was anointed, “the application of the holy oil to his head was believed to impart to him directly a portion of the divine spirit. Hence he bore the title of Messiah, which with its Greek equivalent Christ, means no more than 'the Anointed One'.” (1961, 1:21).” (P. 15)
The author goes on to ask why Anointing does not play a more prominent role in the Church, which is a very good question. (It is also one he more-or-less answers later.) He also explains prohibitions against harming one who is anointed, and their role in Judaic religion, which also explains why the Pharisees had the Romans take care of their rather interesting trouble-maker, The Christ.

What is more interesting, however, is his continued discussion points on Anointing. The author points out parts of the Gospels in which Jesus is Anointed, such as by the “sinful woman” of Luke 7:36-38, and the anointing by Mary of Bethany in John 12. He also suggests that as part of his Baptismal rites, Jesus may have been Anointed by John the Baptist (which is a very credible hypothesis in my opinion).

He also emphasizes the importance of Anointing in Luke 4:18:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised...” (KJV)

The author goes on to say: 
“This passage in Luke is similar to Matthew 12:18 and John 3:34, and all three passages appear to point to Isaiah 61:1, in which the prophet says: 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted...'” (P. 17)

Thus Jesus was supposed by his followers, at least by Mr. Lee's thought process, to be a messiah because he was anointed. And because he was anointed, he was allotted a certain portion of divine power (if you will). As such:
“Some likely believed, based on the passage of 16:10, that Jesus could not remain dead. Yahweh would not permit the Messiah's corpse to rot in the earth, just as Yahweh would not permit the author of Psalms to remain dead. The author of Psalms states: 'For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.' This idea is later affirmed in Acts 2:25-31, in which the exact words from Psalms are directly applied by the apostle Paul in his speech record in Acts 13:35-36.” (P. 20)
It is here that the chapter seems to hit its stride, which at times takes some very weird turns, but at others makes perfect sense and seems to be entirely brilliant:
“Fifty days after his crucifixion his apostles gathered to eat a meal for the Jewish festival of Shavuot. During this meal it's said that they experienced something remarkable. They had been anointed in accordance with the holiday season (as in 1 Samuel 10:1) before they sat down to eat. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles as each one was enveloped in a supernatural fire.

'When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one. And they were all filled with the Holy spirit and began to speak in tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.' (Acts 2:1-4.)

This supernatural experience we call the Pentecost event (pentacost is the Greek word for Shavuot, meaning “fifty days”). As a result of this event, the apostles came to believe that Jesus had, in fact, been the true messiah and that his violent death had ushered in the kingdom of God. This experience at the feast of Pentecost was the beginning of Christianity, and this meal became the model of the Agape Feast: Christians came together for a meal that memorialized the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At these meals they ate the flesh and drank the blood of Jesus, as he had commanded, and they also anointed each other with sacred oils, according to the Jewish tradition (Logan 2006, p.78). During these feasts people often experienced a state called theolepsy, or “being possessed by God.” From this experience many people received the gifts of the Spirit, which included prophecy, discernment, tongues, healing, and other spiritual endowments. This much, at least, is clear from various historical studies of the early Christian Church, but it's unclear how they came to experience these spiritual gifts.” (P. 21)
He proceeds to introduce the Anointing oils, and what they were shortly thereafter:
“'Take also for yourself the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two hundred and fifty, and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin. You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.' (Exodus 30:23-5.)

'The Chrism is superior to baptism, for it is from the word 'Chrism' that we have been called “Christians,” certainly not because of the word 'baptism.' And it because of the Chrism that 'the Christ' has his name. For the Father anointed the Son, and the Son anointed the apostles, and the apostles anointed us. He who has been anointed possesses everything. He possesses the resurrection, the light, the cross, and the Holy Spirit.' (Gospel of Philip, 74:12-21; Robinson 1998, p. 153.).” (P. 21-22)
He then goes on to compare Judaic practices of anointing to those found in Egypt, particularly in relation to the cult of Horus. But I'm actually going to ignore that from now, and focus on when he begins returning his theories regarding early Christians, the powers promised by being anointed by the Chrism or eating a sacred meal, and the potentials therein.
“The sacred oils used in Hebrew christening rites were not ordinary. Typically several drugs were added to them, including hallucinogenic plants and a large amount of cannabis (Godbey 1930, P.222). The book of Exodus describes one of the original recipes for the sacred oil of the Hebrews as containing '250 shekels worth of Kannabosm” (Exodus 30:22-23). Although there has been a good deal of debate on this topic recently, Kaneh Bosm almost certainly refers to cannabis.” (p. 24)
In the footnotes he goes on to add: 
Because of the work of Polish anthropologist Sula Benet, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced in 1980 that her interpretation of Kaneh Bosm (also Kineboisin) as hemp blossoms was essentially correct. Previously it was thought to be calamus, an herb that may have some hallucinogenic properties and was used in North American shamanism.” (p. 24; footnotes).
It is perhaps here I should point out the inclusion of cannabis in Sepher Raziel:
The third herbe is Canabus [cannabis] & it is long in shafte & clothes be made of it. The vertue of the Juse [juice] of it is to anoynt thee with it & with the iuce of arthemesy & ordyne thee before a mirrour of stele [steel] & clepe thou spiritts & thou shallt see them & thou shalt haue might of binding & of loosing deuills & other things.”

The distinction to be made here is that the anointing is being performed on a magic mirror, presumably like those used in medieval Necromancy within the church, so that the beings within the mirror can be bound or loosed by the Will of the magician. (It is here that I owe another nod to Vitriol999 for first bringing that section of Sepher Raziel to my attention.)

He also goes on to assert that having a sacred oil made from the body of a dead Christian, one of the Christian Blessed Dead, was more important than simply putting on this oil. On this point, I am dubious. But it bears a mention, for it impacts the section I found far more interesting:
These holy oils were made from the bodies of those who were already part of the Corpus Christi – those who had died in Christ. The theology of the first Christians reflects the belief that their new converts had absorbed the sacred flesh taken from the body of the god, and these converts now possessed and were possessed by the spirit of their god, whom they often called Lord Jesus. They were now “in Christ” just as Christ was a Spiritus Sancti, a “holy ghost” dwelling within them.” (p. 25)
It should be noted that for early Roman Christians, this is distinctly possible with their many gatherings in the crypts and cemeteries of their deceased fellows. This is also part of the author's argument that Christianity was an attempt to restore the rites of the Blessed Dead to Judaism, rites he suggests that had been forced out of the Judaic mainstream by the Cult of Yahweh. It is interesting, but I don't know nearly enough about Judaic traditions and history to be sure of his source material, or if he is stretching his case. Regardless, he ties the two traditions together (Judaism and early Christianity) in an interesting manner:
As I pointed out in the introduction, throughout the Near East and also among the Hebrews the funeral feasts were called Marzeah. During these feasts the celebrants performed burial rites, consumed specially prepared food and drink, and anointed themselves with holy oils. (King 1988, P.37). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Agape Feast, used by the earliest Christians to celebrate the death (and resurrection) of Jesus the Christened One, was derived from these ancient Hebrew burial feasts. “This, at its origin, is clearly marked as funerary in its intention, a fact attested by the most ancient testimonies that have come down to us. Our Lord, in instuting the Eucharist, used the words: 'As often as you shall eat this Bread and drink this chalice, you shall show forth the Lord's Death.” (Leclercq 1907.)...” (P. 30)
 And just as interestingly:
Through the centuries several rival sects developed within Judaism, including the Nazarenes, who were still loyal to the old cult of the dead. The stubborn Nazarenes eventually formed the mustard seed of what became the new Christian cult (Butz 2010, P. 58). In recent years sever scholars have come to the conclusion that Christianity developed out of the old Hebrew cult of the dead. These scholars include Lewis Bayles Paton, the author of Spiritism and the Cult of the Dead in Antiquity, and more recently the famous Jewish scholar Shalom Spiegel (1899-1984). As Davies notes, “In his quiet way, Spiegel at various points indicates a degree of agreement with the notion that, in Christianity, Judaism gave rise to a pagan cult of the dead, in particular a cult of sacrifice, a return [he implies] to an ancient legacy predating both Judaism and Christianity” (1999, p. 64).” (P. 39)
Honestly, I could go on quoting the book at length, because it contains the seeds of some extremely interesting little tidbits. I would very much like to know what someone like Rufus Opus or Fr. AIT would make of it, and I haven't even waded into the chapters on Greek and Roman necromancy, and how the author thinks they informed the early Christian worldview. I very much look forward to it, for I am already finding myself enormously softened to the idea of working with the Christian Blessed Dead, and the chapter has done more to make me think about certain magical practices (such as anointing oneself before conjuring spirits) than any book I have encountered of late.

I suspect Goetic Magicians, particularly those interested in the works of Jake Stratton-Kent, will love the book. I know that I do already, even if some of his source material may be... dubious, at best.

Be seeing you,
Jack.

You Didn't Sacrifice Your First Born Child.

Ever since Once Upon a Time began hitting the air-waves, there has been a nigh-limitless amount of witches, pagans, and magicians who apparently have nothing better to use to convey their messages.

As a result, this meme keeps making the rounds:


Inevitably, the tag is always added: All Magic comes with a price, Dearie! An unfortunately phrase that the character of Rumpelstiltskin makes to characters in what I consider one of the most tiresome shows to ever captivate adult and child audiences. But I hate Disney, and so of course, I also hate that show. Honestly? The only good part of the show was that character in the first season. The rest of it was a Neil Gaiman-esque magic is real! But no one believes in it! type schtick.

Aaron Leitch, a fellow I actually respect, is the latest in the line of witches, pagans, and magicians to rely on this meme to convey the message.

But you know what? It's also crap. His post is great, and so are Jason Miller and Morgan Eckstein's responses.

It is the meme that is crap. And here's why:

It is true, there is no such thing as a free lunch. (And yes, I know where that idiom comes from.) But Aaron has probably not given his first-born son to Moloch, or a tricksy fairy. And the notion of cost is weighted far differently. The 'sacrifice' or 'price' of magick comes at the cost of time:
- Time spent learning how to practice magick.
- Time spent discovering the path of least resistence when it comes to thaumaturgical goals.
- Time spent discovering that one's desires, and one's needs, are two separate things.

There are other, potentially 'spiritual', costs but getting into them would be tiresome. It comes down to this: none of you smug folks posting that stupid-ass meme have thrown your first-born child down as a down payment for anything, and utilizing a fictional character who demands just that to justify your no free lunch discourse is crap.


Find a better way of saying it. Or at the very least, find a better character to represent the idea. I don't even care if you use another Once Upon a Time character to illustrate it. But for the love of any god ever: STOP.

THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

That is all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

But Spirits Can't Hurt You!

A few years ago, VVF and I decided it was time to bind a motherfucker. Someone else had asked us for help with it, and we were pretty much okay with that. The person had been messing with a family member of our's recently, and we wanted some peace prior to an up-coming court-date that would settle the problem.

So we broke out the Psalms, the dancing, and the poppet. And that motherfucker became more-or-less successfully bound at the time of our choosing. It was probably not the greatest use of the technique, though. We didn't mask the link, and so when the poppet went off and forced the motherfucker to be silent... He knew he'd been worked on. And promptly hired a sorceress, who promptly sent a spirit down that link.

Where it found us. On vacation. It began slowly; one of VVF's runes went missing. We had trouble sleeping. In fact, the first night, two spirits I'd worked with heavily for years and told me that something bad was going to happen if I didn't take immediate action. Being a complete idiot, I ignored the instructions.

I babbled about demons the whole weekend, not even realizing it. Both VVF and I felt “out of step with time.”

We left where we were staying – with Valentine – and headed to the train station. Which is precisely when the shit hit the fan. VVF became very sick, very rapidly as the spirit began vamping the fuck out of her. At this point, there was no doubting what was going on. I could feel it buzzing around and befouling the atmosphere.

The train was four hours late. Once we got on board, mechanical problems ensued. It took another two hours to leave. Halfway home, we had to switch from the train to to a bus for the last length of the journey. Again, mechanical problems ensued. Despite having been working when it arrived, the engine simply wouldn't start. VVF was in and out of consciousness at this point, mostly uttering groans. Everyone around us was getting angry. It was becoming harder to concentrate.

I was, too. I summoned all the rage I had, and used it to shape a thoughtform on the spot. I shoved the thoughtform into engine, and focused all of my willpower on commanding it to start the goddamn engine. It started. We were heading home.

Almost 38 hours later, we finally got home. Upon entering our warded home, and falling the fuck asleep (I had probably been awake for something like 48 hours at that point), the spirit bounced off us and headed directly down initiatory lines to the people who had initiated us. One of them beat the crap out of it, and I awakened the next day to discover about half the people we were magically involved with discussing the problem.

I immediately worked on renewing the wards, performing divination, and consulting oracles. Upon the last discussion I had with the first spirit that had warned me of up-coming trouble, I discovered precisely what had happened, who was involved, and consulted the individuals who were at this point pretty much ready to nuke the fool.

Instead I called him, and scared him shitless. The motherfucker all but admitted he'd done it, enraging me further, and after being shouted at for about three minutes agreed to take care of the problem... Which was at this point about to spill out into all-out magical warfare. Honestly, if he hadn't told me that the problem was going to be solved within 24-hours, even with the spirit pretty much out of the picture, I would simply have begun nuking him for pissing me off so consistently. But it just didn't seem... necessary.

24 hours later, he woke me up to tell me that the entire situation had been fixed. All of the crap generated at that point simply resolved itself; those who had become sick, stopped being so. Almost car-accidents, which had occurred simultaneous to our problem's several cities away, ceased.

Since then, I haven't found myself even remotely facing such terrible odds. But if you really want to become convinced that spirits are real, and can effect your surroundings?

Just get cursed. Without any of your tools, and without most of your allies, while on vacation.

I promise: you'll have a good reason to re-think your thoughts on what spirits – from the most obnoxious of the restless dead, to spirits of nature, to Gods – can do and affect.

I've had plenty of other experiences, many far more enlightening. But I wouldn't wish that shit on anyone, and I take care when deciding to bind or even curse a person. Because, quite simply, I know precisely what it feels like.

And it fucking blows.

Jack.

IO9 & The Troxler Effect

"The brain, when faced with a lot of stimulation, only some of which is considered relevant, will tune out the non-relevant parts, filling in what it can from the general area. It's a little like how the blind spot works, except this is a dynamic process. The brain will zoom in on a desired area, and the rest of the space will fade away. This is called the Troxler Effect, or Troxler Fading. It was discovered way back in 1804 by Ignaz Troxler, a physician and philosopher."
- An Optical Illusion that Explains the Origins of Imaginary Monsters. 

They forgot to discuss the hypnotic and trance angle. Particularly that when certain games, like Bloody Mary, are played then there is an emotional charge to the atmosphere. In fact, that is far closer to mirror scrying than many realize. The primary difference is that the magician is knowingly manipulating the atmosphere to match that of the spirit that he wishes to use the Troxler effect to see. The ritual, the use of psychoactive substances (such as many incenses), and ensuing trance state and 'aberrant' (it isn't, really) way the brain is functioning all allow for the ensuing scrying or evocation.

Incidentally, it works just as well with locations. Don't ask me why.

And really, you don't need a mirror. You could just as easily learn to scry internally, or using a bowl of water, or a freaking fingernail. Although I have never managed that last one, at all. I keep trying, though...

[EDIT]: Oh yeah. And the circle with the dot at a center? Wherever have we seen THAT before?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Plants and Daimons

Last night, I sat down and ended up having another chat with a Something. Lacking a better word, we'll call it my Daimon. Or the Daimon that has, at the very least, agreed to harass me until I die and become something else's problem. Because otherwise... I'd just do whatever the fuck I felt like and that would be that.

In any event, it made it clear that:
- While I did not necessarily disrespect the grape vines in my house, or their ruling Daimon, I easily could have.
- That this problem could be easily overcome by ritualizing my procedure of procuring grape leaves, fruit, etc.

After the last part, I was like... “And how, precisely, do I do that?”

At which point a certain spell popped into my head, and I immediately got a brief set of images regarding the alterations. It was indicated that since I am not completely uprooting the plant, I should annoint the portions chosen with honey, sprinkling the areas being removed with natron, pouring the milk at the base of the plant, and then proceeding regularly with the fumigation near the plant.

I saw nothing indicating adding “into the place of its roots they threw seven seeds of wheat and an equal number of barley, after mixing them with honey,” because – I at least suspect – the plant itself hasn't been removed and the full tribute isn't necessary unless that has occurred. I've been doing some divination on it, and it seems to be pretty positive so far. That said, I would recommend doing divination before messing with what I got last night. Since I have a ton of time this summer to experiment with the spell, I will be doing precisely that.

The sense I got was that this would bolster the daimon presiding over the plant, and give due diligence and respect to the plant that was being turned into an offering.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Solemn Reverie [EDITED]

It has been drizzling and sprinkling since I got up. But I didn't let that deter me from one of my daily walks. As I wandered about, I found myself focusing on things that don't matter and internally quarreling with myself.

So, I performed my death meditation. As I was crossing a street, a car randomly crossed my notice. Instantly, my mind generated another possible death: burning alive, trapped in a car. My thoughts kept trying to divert to the idea that I could somehow survive. I realized this was a sign of internal discomfort, and simply renewed the progression of the visualized sequences of death ending with being stuck in a burning car. After the fourth progression, stillness ensued and I wandered back home in a very good mood.

I walked out into the garden, and gazed again at the first flowers of the pomegranate plant to bloom. It made me grin somewhat.


Then I turned and looked at the grapevines that sit on northern end of the backyard.


A thought intruded initially, a string of words that I initially ignored:
“First fruits for the Thrice-Born King.”

I tried to watch a movie, and mostly enjoyed it. But every time I stilled my mind again, those words returned again. After the movie, I found myself gazing and watching the soft drizzle of rainwater on the grapevines and the words popped into my head again.

I decided to do as I'd been bid. Some time ago, I'd moved the mask I used to represent Dionysos with to another altar area. It's a Venetian mask, and I was told when I bought it that it would be worn by someone dressing somewhat like a fool. I'd come, years ago, to decide it probably wasn't quite right for Dionysos.

More recently, I saw something which made me reconsider that. In fact, at the time I recall grinning and thinking about the mask: “no reason not to use it the way I always did before.” I will eventually get a mask the size of a full face, but until then... Why hold off on what you love?

I wandered back over to the vines after placing the mask aside, and whispered: “I am taking leaves and fruit for Dionysos, Lord of the Vine.” I plucked off two bunches of unripened fruit, and about seven leaves.

But why stop there? So I added a small bowl of cool water (I appear to be out of milk, but cool water works just as well in my opinion) on the left side, and a small container of honey on the right:



(Note: the above picture was taken before I dedicated the materials to Dionysos. As a matter of discipline and principle, I will never flash pictures of a charged altar or consecrated magical tools. Sigils are another matter.)

Then I lit the incense, read two Orphic hymns and let the solemn reverie sweep over me. I know what I'll be keeping up this summer. Of course, it's missing something. Later tonight I'll dedicate give some liquor before I head to bed. Wine may certainly traditional, but my divinations have never revealed Dionysos having a problem with gifts of whiskey. And I happen to love whiskey, so I give what I love.

Be seeing you,
Jack.

PS. Brother Valentine has a piece up on Disinfo. You know you want to read it. Congrats, Valentine, and best of luck with future articles and rocking those that don't know you like I do!

[EDIT]: Added some helpful links.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Vanishing of the Bees

We found this poor bee shortly after discussions began. RIP, friend.
Since it was relevant to my interests, I sat down and watched The Vanishing of the Bees earlier today. (Note: you can watch it for free on Hulu, which is why I decided to link there.) It was both entertaining and enlightening. One might go so far as to call it a holistic take on the subject of Colony Collapse Disorder. They even interviewed a woman with a PhD that urged us to find balance with the feminine divine, and the author of The Shamanic Path of the Bee.*

Perhaps more importantly, however, they had footage revolving around France and their very similar problem, and discussions with those involved in the bee husbandry industry.

Rather than Electromagnetic pollution problems, the documentary (and the majority of those interviewed) saw the problem of bees dying as related to a cluster of problems, the two primary antagonists of which are:
- Monofarming.
- Pesticides, like those made by Bayer and Monsanto, which are rendered necessary by the act of monofarming. (It's kind've like a circle of bullshit, which propagates more bullshit.)

It turns out that in France, they had almost the same problem. After protests by those in the bee husbandry industry, the French banned the use of 'systemic' pesticides. Within a year, bees in areas where farmers used pesticides bounced back.

Here is some Skynews reporting on the French activities leading up to the ban:


More recently, the EU moved to ban those pesticides:

Incidentally, Forbes has also produced two articles on the matter. The first is an introductory challenge to Bayer to cease producing nicotinoid pesticides. The second has a toxicologist from Bayer attempting to rise to the challenge and being rebuffed.

One problem facing the United States and proper actions to make Bayer both accountable, and cease its activities is interferance by the EPA. The hilarious aspect pointed out by those in the American bee husbandry industry and the documentary is that the EPA does not actually perform tests regarding the pesticides itself, but rather allows the pesticide companies such as Bayer to produce their own tests. If this sounds eerily similar to the issues involving the FDA and BigPharma, it's probably because precise the same conflict of interest is occurring. The industry producing the problem is also being allowed to perform the tests that attest to the safety of their products (with little accountability for what they leave out, and no incentive to test for something not required by law) and then our own Government backs them up when problems start to arise.

Truly, I love being an American.

In any event, we are already a pesticide-free gardening home and I'm pretty much resolved to remain so. It makes the occasional parasite struggle more of a pain, but it's one of the things I can easily remain committed to. I'll also be looking into our city's laws regarding having a hive on one's property. New York passed legislation that allows for the raising of bees within the city limits, and if Sacramento doesn't have similar legislation on the books, it is something to look into promoting. VVF has been looking into DIY hive-making constructs, and we'll step things up as we learn more. It may take a year, but its something worth doing... Even if one is only limited to small scale things. We can always protest and piss of Bayer after we've looked into localized bee-shelters on our property.

Finally, the documentary never talks about what happens to the colonies after their collapse. The bee husbandry folks just talked about how the bees just... flew off. While initially discussing this subject, VVF recalled something that I thought illustrates pretty much what happened:
I'll never forget the day I saw that something had gone very, very wrong; I was walking to school, and something hit me in the head. It was a bee, fallen to the ground. Oh, that's unusual, I thought - a bee just falling down dead? And I didn't think anything of it...until it happened a second time. And then I saw more bees just falling out of the air as walked. By the time I was across the street from my station stop, the sidewalk was literally covered with dying, shivering bees. It really scared me. Then about a year later I started seeing the reports on hive death.”

I'll leave you with that.
Jack.
PS. I totally found a Cretan coin with Zeus depicted on one side, and a bee on the other side. But I'll save that awesome shit for later.

* I'll be passing on reading it. On the other hand, I have ordered a copy of From the Bodies of the Gods: Psychoactive Plants and the Cult of the Dead by Earl Lee. I am already hearing very good things about it, too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

An Unlimited Supply of Whiskey!



 As a response to the last entry, I am drawing up resources on bees and how they entwine with ideas about the dead (particularly in Greece and Rome) for something that Melitta and I will be working on together for a bit. However, I doubt I can find a reason to thrust this quote into it (which is not to say that I won't decide to try to do so, anyway):
“Like cunning folk and witches, shamans can also employ their helping spirits in a wide variety of pursuits above and beyond the core matters of healing and divining. Almost anything of human concern, from agriculture and hunting to love or war, can be resolved with the help of a powerful spirit. Among the North American Maidu it is believed that 'Every shaman must have one or more of these [ku'kini] as his guardian spirit or spirits, and they aid him in all that he does [my italics] – which North American Ojibwa chief Charles Kawbawgam claimed that '[a novice shaman] sees the spirit before him in the shape of a man, saying: “Whenever you need help, you will see me.” Such flexibility on the part of the helping spirit means that, like the early modern familiar, it is sometimes employed to perform mundane or frivolous activities. The anthropologist Roland Dixon recounts how one North American Maidu shaman 'resolved to acquire the spirit of the honey-bee. This he did, and then was able to secure whiskey in unlimited quantities, as the bee could insert its probiscis through the corks of bottles, or through the closed bung-holes of barrels, and suck out the liquor, which it afterward put into other receptacles for the Indian's use. The bee could also enter anywhere, as it could all doors by inserting its proboscis.”
- Emma Wilby, Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits (P. 138 – 139. )
Just hear me out on this? Should you ever stumble across a spirit manifesting as a bee? Talk to it. They are fucking cool. I'm also of the mind, while Wilby refers to the activity of the Shaman as 'frivilous', that they are heavily linked with intoxication. But I will probably get to talking about that very shortly with a bit of help, won't I?