Hello List Members!

Hello List Members! Please find the link at the top to the John Dee page.

I’m actually teaching a few classes in real life at the moment so expect the blog to be quiet, but don’t assume I’m dead. I will cross post materials from the class including youtubes when I get the time.

If anyone wants to help out by reformatting the images to be right side up and individual pictures of pages, it would be extremely helpful.

Enjoy, thanks for stopping by!

You’re Starting in the Middle

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That’s a really interesting criticism, I thought. That’s an honest sentiment from when I started Enochian, too. “Look at these beautiful tables and strange symbols!” After we got the demons out of the neighborhood at great personal cost, I decided I better hit the books. For me, the approach to ceremonial magic was “lets start at the top” and then after a quick fall and a hard stop at the bottom, I decided I better learn everything else first.

But, there was a second ramp I didn’t quite realize was there until much later – by tracking down Dee’s books and material, and trying to follow around Crowley, there was a ridiculously broad exposure to classical literature. This was stuff I maybe, might have read under great derision in high-school, but certainly never with a critical eye. Sure I remember the stories of the Greek myths and such but somewhere, instead of presenting the stories as morality plays and as science projects, they simply became stories. Who knew Plato’s Republic was really commentary on the soul of man? If you’re asatru, you might end up at the Republic through Tacitus who wrote about runes. The path is not unique to ceremonial magic per se, but the classical era I think has the broadest exposure. Even if someone doesn’t read Roman or Greek works, the Medieval period right before and through Protestantism in Christianity enjoyed a revival of interest.

Vikings Season 2 Episode 6

I don’t normally put videos on the blog, but History Channel’s Vikings has just been fantastic. It follows the Ragnar Lodbrok story and while chasing that story line, it puts a historically accurate face on the history. The [Roman] texts are saved because (what would become) Protestant Europe is interested in conquest, so they’re interested in the old Roman empire, and the only folks who can read are the religious classes. Of course, they translate materials from the time of Christ looking for commentary on their religion and end up enriching the entirety of Western Civilization in the process. This is entirely relevant to the current age – the previous age married religion (or mystical thought) and science. The current age is all for the separation of church and state. The schism was Protestantism which sought to remove the dogma from the religion and in the process threw the baby out with the baptismal water because politics crept in, but at the same time produced thinkers like Giordano Bruno who might never have put quill to vellum were it not for the cultural and intellectual mix of the period.

To actually get here, however, we have to start in the beginning. I think that the last class generated the “You’re starting in the middle” comment because I really start looking at magic around 1000AD or so and come forward. The assumption (and this is the same pitfall Crowley makes) is that the readers are at least as well read as I am. This is poor form, but more importantly misses a very important problem: If I can’t answer a question on the origin of an idea, how can I teach it? Did I not just accept something on faith? And so the bones were laid for the next class – starting with Aristotle, talk about classical ideas of elements and alchemy, link that up with contemporary Qabalah so people have something to relate it to, go back and talk about Pythagoras and his ideas on numbers, then investigate the first six scales.

Feedback on the Class

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I missed April Fools, I was going to turn this into a food blog or something just for a day. However I would like to plug these guys for their really hilarious video and product pitch.

Feedback on the class was generally positive. If you watch the video with the captions on, you’ll probably get more out of it since I think the sound quality sucked. That was the biggest complaint in private feedback was that I moved a mile a minute and no-one was too concerned because this is all recorded, right? Except the audio sucks, and then youtubes caption editor sucks, so I might just download the closed captions (if I can figure out how) and post them.

The second complaint was “it feels like we started in the middle”. That’s legitimate, I’m not going to say, “Well people had different ability levels”. The class should give feedback to the teacher and the teacher should be able to dynamically reflow the class to the students assuming they’re asking appropriate questions with an appropriate attitude. So far no-one has pulled the “but that’s not wicca” card. No, it’s not wicca. Someone could re-tool wicca to fit historical practice, but is it wicca? Not really.

To that end, I really didn’t expect the evocation to work. I didn’t get the creepy feeling I normally do, I think it’s a testament to the skill level of the crowd if they managed to get anything rolling in their own heads. I assume everyone is germane and honest when reporting their experiences. Another topic which came up for feedback was that we had electrical items in the circle. While Levi cautions against electric light, Poke Runyon loves blacklight and feels it’s important for setting the stage. I personally didn’t throw the mains in the house but did turn off all the lights – if we want to complain about electricity than we would be hard pressed to find a place without even cellphone coverage. I do know people who do evocations in caves, however.

I think the place to go from here when presenting to a broader crowd is to just take a hat-tip from “the beginning” and start with Pythagorean thought. I recently re-read The Loom of God, the first chapter where they start talking about geometric progressions could comfortably be put into the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript in terms of making broad associations between numbers. The Pythagoreans would have been more comfortable talking to Agrippa than Gardner, but the first step on arriving at an epic destination is to leave the house. We have to start from a known position. To that end, I think working through the orders of 2, 3, 4, and 5 will get them to the pentagram ritual and still be fun without presenting too much information, then we can do 6 and start talking about branching out in the grimoires. I have to pare down the lesson plan a bit more and I think people will be happier.

Video

The Intro to Ceremonial Magick Class

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Yes there are misquotes, misattributions, unexplored ideas, and poor editing. The captions are good for the first half, then please switch over to “english – second half”. I prefer to blog because I can draft, evaluate, and edit. However, there’s always something to be said for medium and video can express more than I could ever hope to eloquently write.

Predictions for Tomorrow

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I suck at astrology. How do we get better? We get better by doing it. I don’t anticipate making this a regular thing since I view prognostication as secondary to spiritual work but I woke up realizing I can use each of these as supplemental examples to the class I plan on teaching this weekend.

There is a really important distinction I think to make – a ritual is usually timed at a favorable time for the particular petition someone wants to make, but prognostication is essentially saying “something is changing in the Heavens, will it have any power on Earth?” Well of course, we wouldn’t do ritual without checking the Heavens and we wouldn’t say that the Heavens do not influence the Earth outside of ritual. Two sides of the same coin. But that also means there are going to be days when the Heavens are just sort of meandering around on their course and nothing particularly interesting is happening. In engineering, this is called the edge condition, and it causes two effects: there is ambiguity between states and we usually are only interested in the edge condition. If someone puts on headphones and just listens to a pure tone for some time, they won’t remember what happened three minutes in, they only remember what happened when the tone started and when the tone ended. The time in the middle is essentially lost to them. However the time in the middle, if they can adjust themselves, is also the best time to meditate and see what presents itself. Discussions to meditation aside, the edge condition is why I usually try to start rituals a few minutes after the planetary hour and when I am making my own charts and such I usually add 10 minutes to the beginning of the hour. From a calculation perspective, this is because I can’t set my precise location in a lot of the software since I live at the edge of the sticks. From a practical perspective, I know the trees in my neighborhood at the top of my hill are about 10 minutes tall before I can see the planet over the horizon. I wish I owned a wizard tower but I’m told they’re not up to building code.

Lets look at today. Aside of the normal planetary hour stuff, today is wholly unremarkable. The largest, brightest object in the sky (aside of the sun) is really not doing anything. In addition to that, the moon is void of course. If I were to make some sort of prognostication for today, I would say that today is going to be utterly boring and it would be a good day to go to the park, let the kids run around, have a cigar and read. It is a very good day to simply be lazy, read, and blog. Tomorrow however, looks busy! In addition to a waning moon, the moon is entering the last quarter. The moon enters Capricorn. There’s a void of course start and end, and lunar days to observe. All of those except for the day and mansion are edge conditions which make me think something interesting (or at least observable) might happen. Lets break them out.

Lunar Day 23 - Vronsky says, “The day is very good for completion of any activity, any enterprise. Not only they will be resultful, they can bring honour and glory, popularity and wellbeing. However, one should not start any new activity as it will be senseless and useless.” He continues, “A child born on this day won’t be especially beautiful, so a lot in his life will depend on his ability to gain knowledge and be kind. The illnesses of this day are long, and the dreams are false.”

Goba is steeped in mysticism: “Symbol – the crocodile. One of the days of seduction, of vampires’ bacchanalia. The period of fasting, abstention, carefulness, repentance, forgiveness and self-sacrifice. This day is connected to hounding, manhunt, exile, encounter with a mad crowd. One should guard one’s house: clean it, sprinkle it with holy water, cleanse thresholds with fire, fumigate with Labrador tea and cumin. It is good to make cheese pies and to bake a nut into them. It is recommended to eat dairy products. It is dangerous to give way to anger, to overeat. One should not cut hair or nail, have a surgery, have a sedentary life.”

Oh boy, I write off the top of my head so people can understand the reasoning process that goes on here, but tomorrow seems to directly caution against today. Furthermore there seems to be a theme here of seduction, and sexuality. Right off the top of my head looking at these predictions, I think about Pussy Riot, I think about Yulia Tymoshenko, who also recently made headlines, for both Ukraine and the post release activities, I see krokodil, there’s a lot of things which personally point me towards a region. Had there not been any current political turmoil (can you even entertain the thought?) for a day, I would say clean the house and go outside.

Well, that doesn’t look very nice, maybe the next observation will be more pleasant.

Moon in Capricorn – “There is an increase in formality, strictness and exactitude, with a tendency to reserve and distance. Rules and regulations are dominant. It is a suitable time for all activities which require extra responsibility and discipline, but you shouldn’t rely on someone’s receptivity or emotional pliability.” 

Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, and is of the element Earth. While I don’t normally pick on other bloggers, this is one of the places I disagree with Alex Sumner. Russia is watery (the Rus), Ukraine is Earthy (Wild Field, Borderland). I’m not sure an Earth Banishing Pentagram is the best thing here for keeping the Watery out of the Earthy. It also is worth mentioning that Goba’s notes above mention vampires and wine (blood) and every warlord of that particular part of the world was named Vlad. Vlad is a popular name in the region, however, so lets not read too far into that one.

Lunar Mansion 24 - From John Sandbach, the ruler would be Venus/Libra/Pisces/Virgo. Which means instead of the nice stuff, we can pretty much skip to the unbalanced stuff: “When not in tune with his true self he can become self-righteous and demanding, as well as destructively critical of what other people are trying to do. This can then drive people away from him and cause him to eventually become isolated and misanthropic. At best he is an upholder of what is most worthwhile in society, a fine teacher, an example setter, and a leader. At worst he allows his egotism and feelings of superiority to negate what he could give to the world, and to isolate him.”

Earlier on there is a notion of this eye towards history. If we look at the modern history of Ukraine, that doesn’t bode well. After fighting a war of independence from Poland, the region struck a treaty with Russia. Good portions of the region were in Russian control until the decline of Russia let them slip. Putin of course would want to see them returned to Russia given the pipelines in the region, because if the Nabucco pipeline went north of the Black Sea, it cuts through Ukraine. It’s an obvious political move, but the timing is really what I am exploring here.

Now, we’re done with the daily stuff, it doesn’t really matter where I am on the globe because the Earth rotates, so all of this holds true if I am in North America or if I am in Australia. The scope of the above is limited by day, so a day of wiggle room is entirely appropriate. Also for the hour, I don’t think that the news would report accurately down to the minute if anything happens in the world. The news is a giant rumor mill. Making hourly predictions is sort of moot. That being said, 21h46m is when the moon enters the last quarter so I am going to look at charts for that.

This brings us to a problem. We’ve looked at all that stuff up above, and the chart isn’t terribly interesting. Since we’re doing a chart for the entire day, I’m mostly just paying attention to the positions of specific planets. In this case, Saturn, Luna, and Venus. We already worked out all the moon material, Venus otherwise unaffected (neither in detriment or exaltation), and Saturn is in retrograde which would imply negative associations on top of an already negative reading for the rest of it.

Is any of this going to come true? I don’t know; I suck at astrology. Other predictions such as the Apollo Theatre collapse led to nothing I could point to either as intentional or ominous. Would be I be surprised to hear news from the region today, tomorrow, or Monday? Nope.

Update - While I can’t say I am happy to be correct, it would seem that early today/yesterday the war transitioned into a hot-war where people have started shooting.

2010 – Eclipse Retrospective

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I missed this when it came out on the winter solstice, but I figured it would be a fun thought exercise with the class coming up soon anyway. The link has been popping up on Facebook because the IO9 RSS Feed is terrifically broken.

12th of DEC 2010 was the winter solstice, and the darkest night in 500 years. For my local time, 1:32am to 2:41am was the period of the eclipse. Now here’s a neat thing – the news story which published the eclipse news used the word “tonight”. There is the first gotcha, their “tonight” is really 13-DEC-2010′s morning.

To check on the moon, we use Lunarium. I actually like Vronsky and Globa, so I have no problem using Lunarium’s Lunar Day (8). But the Lunar mansion is number 28. Why are there suddenly 28 mansions? Because at one point, there were either 27 or 28 divisions depending on who someone asked. The Chinese and Arabic mansions both have 28, but if you pick up a book with the Vedic mansions, there might only be 27. Does it change the associations much? Not really. If we look at where all the charts agree, we end up at Gamma Cervi – the wing of the crow. The symbology is “between Mars and Saturn”.

So now we need to know what planetary hour we would be working in if we wanted to work. Another gotcha – most of the software, lunarium included, accepts gregorian dates but the results don’t always make sense. In this case if we were looking for Monday, we find that Monday starts at 7am, which makes sense since planetary days start their light hours at sunrise. Since we’re before sunrise, we have to rewind a day. Jupiter rules 1:03am to 2:16am, but Mars rules 2:16am to 3:30am. While we could peg it as either/or, the moon is turning a deep, deep crimson for this and I think the associations are more strongly tilted towards Mars? But lets check that!

If we run the chart, we can make two observations. The first is that Mars isn’t combust, but its darn close. Mars also won’t be visible, being near the sun, which will be on the other side of the Earth from me. On the other hand, Jupiter is near the moon, and the moon is being eclipsed. Jupiter will then appear brighter than it normally would in the night sky. The previous assumption? Out the window. This is why it is important to run the chart before doing anything with magic. If I had to pick one to go with, I would say that Jupiter will be way stronger in influence than Mars after seeing the chart.

So did anything significant happen around that date? Checking wikipedia for December 2010, Julian Assange’s lawyer released a statement on Sunday, and then Monday, the US ruled the “buy or fine” portion of Obamacare was unconstitutional. Perhaps in an amusing far-view on this, the “buy or fine” became “buy or pay the tax”, and became one of the most divisive topics in the nation.

Of course it is easy to make predictions, after the fact.

Letters to Phergoph: DMK, Healing

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After Jason Miller mentioned the planetary magick and Aaron Leitch linked to the review of his book, Letters to Phergoph has exploded. That’s a good thing. However I will try to group up the questions and answer them broadly.

“You said you were going to write a post about DMK and only told us about an LSD trip. What?”

The trip was the framing of the story. The point of the story was that DMK was an approachable person. The other point of the story was that someone who had little interest in the Occult before getting Turned On could read his book and find new language and ways to relate. Getting two people to agree on anything in this day and age is hard, getting people to shift their mental framing and embrace a new philosophy is impossible. Look at me, I spent the next five or so years in asatru/wicca/druid land.

He did two really good things – he wrote an approachable book without the Christian overtones normal to ceremonial magick and he wrote me back. The second one is a nice gesture, but the first one is an accomplishment. I don’t recall anything out at the time I had access to which covered what I felt I had experienced. Perhaps most importantly, the book wasn’t preachy. No rule of three, no karma, no “don’t summon demons or you’ll have to roll a six to get your alignment back” or any such silliness, he skillfully blended the psychological model with the existential model. I didn’t know it at the time but it really was well put together.

I also think he managed to get the balance right between “what is evocation” and “what work am I doing”. The book talked about how does magic work, and when do we do magic, and how magic can improve our lives without getting into the details. Like talking to teenagers about safe sex, the book wasn’t “you shouldn’t summon demons”, but rather was aimed squarely at the novice magus who probably should be banishing their demons before moving on with other magic. It doesn’t matter who put what where, he created an environment in the book which could relate the information in a way which was approachable without getting into the messy details of how he used it in his personal life. That’s a hard balance to walk, and I only appreciated it after I started blogging about magic and realized there was a difference between technique and pornography.

“Do you remember what you wrote him?”

No, over a decade has passed. I’m sure it was insipid, uninspired crap. I do remember asking him for book recommendations after his book, I don’t recall what he sent me.

“Is the tiki-god a lizard person/angel/ghost/demon/space alien/tiki-god/ancestor/HGA?”

The bottom line is I didn’t test the spirit. I have no idea. It has never appeared to me again (or if it has, it didn’t take that form) and it was a missed opportunity from a ceremonial magic perspective. From a purely spiritual perspective, or shamanic perspective, it was exactly what I needed at the time. I swore off LSD after that one and drugs in general when I finally decided to go to college, get a job, and launch a career. For people who are curious but have to hold down a career and family like me, I highly suggest viewing The Spirit Molecule, or the London Real episode.

“Something something lol u magcians failed he is dead”.

(Yes someone really wrote this). Here’s the thing. I believe Regardi (or Bardon) said if we want a miraculous healing, the first thing we need is a desire to be healed. I don’t know if anyone actually asked him if he wanted a miraculous healing; I don’t know if he wanted it.

I do believe people are fundamentally good, and I believe their intentions are pure. I also think that people who want the good in the world sometimes don’t apply it the best way. It isn’t that everyone asked for a miraculous healing, I think a good majority of people understood that the cancer was both painful and untreatable and wanted him to be comfortable. But most importantly, I think he realized he wasn’t going to live forever on this plane and he understood death is the last initiation. Was it his True Will to pass on at this time? I don’t think we’ll ever know unless he left us a letter. Ultimately, he made that choice.

Magick Class 1

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I reviewed the Magick Class materials over the phone with the person running the committee and they referred to the ToL as “The Star Trek Thing”.

So, dear readers, please help me crowd source this into an approachable document for someone to pick up who doesn’t know a lick about magick.

The doc is linked to above, I’m thinking this can be reduced into four major parts (the floor work, the angels, the associations, and then putting it together).

People who have mailed me privately asking what drugs I’m on, this is your chance to leave a comment and steer this into an accessible set of materials. The class will likely be taught in the Philadelphia burbs around May.

Kraig has Passed On

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I was sorry to hear the news – Donald Michael Kraig has passed on. I feel bad linking to his personal site since it hasn’t been updated but the confirmation came earlier today.

Unlike, say, Crowley whom I have never met but I can appreciate, Kraig was kind enough to write me back when I was first getting started in this magick thing. Crowleys séance went unanswered, so Kraig automatically became my first teacher, even if I only wrote him trite questions about the newly published Modern Magick at the time. I remember it was the first book I picked up which seemed to sync up nicely with my own personal philosophy.

At the time, I was fresh out of highschool and not yet in college and had discovered LSD. The first few trips merely cemented my atheism. It was fun. It made me forget the cares of the technology market at the time and I had myself firmly convinced that all ecstatic experiences of the flower child era were common to the bible thumpers and merely an expression of chemical flow in my brain. The trip that finally got me interested in the occult I either pushed it too hard or got a much larger dose than I originally intended. I found myself not being myself, but rather sucked into a swirling, amazing candyland of colors and sounds. There was no barrier between the you and the me or the shrubs or the trees, but I was experiencing the greatness of the One Thing. Rather than being terrifying, it was a lot like living inside of a Claude Monet painting. Everything was somehow flat, everything was crisp, and somehow everything was just one step too exposed as though captured on film. Like a painting, the moment is not a sense of the “I am here” but the best I can render is that “I can perceive the whole thing” the way someone looks at a city from a map, or how people regard television. There was a sense that if something was unobserved, it did not exist. I remember thinking “I will go inside so I am not sunburned” and ended up in my friends basement. At that moment I sat in the beanbag chair and distinctly remember that I forgot to make it into a seat and I had passed into the atomic realm of the universe.

Spinning balls of light, colorful and dancing surrounded me. Within them, however, beyond their joyous dance and hum of the spheres of all things, a tiki mask formed itself out of a mass of white worms and iron beams.

It’s like that. Some people contact aliens. Some people contact angels. Some people contact demons. And sometime in the 1990s, dropping acid, wearing eyeshadow, tights, an ankh, hiding in my friends basement, thinking the thousand little balls of rice in his chair were atoms, I was talking to God wearing a tiki mask.

But suddenly I knew something very important: If I am everything in the universe in my Claude Monet world of inexpressible beauty, and I am nothing at all because I am the universe, then who the hell is this?

It was one of those strange moments of clarity when the Hand of God reaches down during a trip and says “YOU”. I was quite popular the next month as I tried to relate my experience to people. I learned that the world had suddenly split between the “party crowd” and… did I even have a word? Now I would say “shaman” or “priest” or even the ever so popular “magician” but at the time I did not know. I simply knew that God, not any God I knew, had simply said “I AM” and I had been in the right place to hear it.

It was a strange experience, and having come to the far side of it, I found it disturbing enough I no longer wanted to go there. But now I have a new and unique problem – The bible does not mention the Tiki Mask of God, the Torah has no such wonderful wooden masks of plumage and volcanos, and the Koran wasn’t something I even knew about. We can safely assume Hawaii had no contact with Persian trade. Sort of vaguely knowing that Hawaii had some sort of indigenous religion, I started cruising occult shops, which at the time were few and far between. Thankfully, hanging out in the circles that I did, the occult information wasn’t exactly high quality but it wasn’t quite unknown. Somehow, by an act of providence, I ran across a first print of Modern Magick. I remember buying it simply because it was the thickest book on magick on the shelf.

Also: Pentagrams.

It was, in retrospect, a complete disaster. Like any other skill man seeks to learn, I flipped through the pages and said “I CAN’T READ HEBREW AND I CERTAINLY WON’T LIKE SHADDAI EL CHAI OR ANY OTHER CHAI FOR THAT MATTER” – of course goths drink coffee, black as their hearts! I think, in retrospect, that the book was aimed at people a bit more mature than myself. But it also represented for me, and a lot of people I suspect, the first foray into evocation and ceremonial magic. The zeitgeist for my life at the time was very anti-Christian and the Golden Dawn was Christian enough that it turned a lot of people off. Wicca, although I had no idea what it was at the time, was importing ceremonial magick without the Christian overtones, and appealed to a particularly hedonistic set. Evocation of demons? AWESOME. Set of unpronounceable god-names, breathing exercises, ritual kit, and rules? Well that just smacks of Christianity right there and I want no part of that!

The new age did not appeal to me either. I think Kraig did Llewellyn a large favor by using them as his publisher but at the time I saw no connection between the Golden Dawn and anything else. The back of the book didn’t help either and merely existed as advertising from the publisher rather than a serious academic study. Chasing my tiki-mask god led me to study historical views on shamanism, and trying to uncover that one religion which would let me get back to the presence of my volcano queen. It was, the proverbial, dark night of the soul or the wandering of Christ in the desert. Eventually being unsatisfied with the other offerings from the catalog, I ran into Asatru. From there, Edred Thorsson. And from Edred Thorsson… this looks an awful lot like that other book on the shelf.

Thankfully at the time I had, through my own devices, made a serious effort to practice magic, and upon the second read-through of Modern Magick it made a lot more sense. I was willing to actually do The Work.

To me, Kraig was not the introduction to magic, but rather he was the gateway to ceremonial magick. He tried to bring really superlative concepts on evocation and occult philosophy down to a level which someone completely unfamiliar with them could access them and discover ways of framing up their experience – or getting their feet wet with totally new experiences. While I may not agree with everything he wrote after years upon years of hacking on magick, I can appreciate that the best magicians were not born as magicians and have to ever so carefully bootstrap themselves into practice and understanding. His book sits on my shelf next to authors such as Lon Milo DuQuette. When I first meet people interested in magic, I don’t hand them the Peterson Goetia, but rather Modern Magick, and even then I tell them, “You might not like the flavor, but you’ll come back for more”.

Flame on with the tiki-god, Kraig!

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