Phergoph Needs a Car

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Moloch entirely made me before I even wrote a word about this, I try not to talk about magic “in flight” because I think dwelling on the thing robs it of the purity of it’s intent. If you wouldn’t want to be micromanaged at work, don’t micromanage the spirits beyond the ritual unless it requires a huge course correction.

I need a car. When I say “need” I don’t mean “it would be nice to have”, I mean the 1992 Toyota Camry is now only passing inspection because my mechanic takes pity on me and refuses to shift into OD or start when it’s wet out. I’m a pretty handy guy – but when I say “I’m stumped” and my mechanic says “do you really want to pay me to track this down”… yeah. It has as a conservative estimate about 270,000 miles on it.

Just to put that number in perspective, in the 13 years this car has been on this earth, it didn’t have to be on this earth! It could have driven to the moon, and had another 30,000 miles on the moon to screw around with and do moon stuff. Pretty incredible.

Per the usual problem of “what magic do we use to solve large systems”, I was really torn between the Goetia, who are good at managing the physical plane, and the Enochian magic, which works really well to line up large systems. Since a car dealership is a large system, most of which requires the car pass through several bits of administration before landing in my lap, I opted for the Enochian solution.

I had made that decision right in time for the thread on FB asking “Why not Enochian?” Sometimes I feel like magic works in ridiculously subtle ways. This was one of those times. Sure I happen to be friends on Facebook with Moloch so he can see my wall and my ranting about the car, but he’s not in my head in any meaningful way. We don’t chat back and forth. He’s got a fairly low opinion of the OTA (but like most magicians he has a low opinion of everyone who isn’t himself) so we really don’t talk shop. He’s also very much in the quick-and-dirty-whatever-works camp and while I can respect that, he’s going to see a system like enochian as being largely restrictive. This eventually bore out in the course of the conversation, but it also prompted me to throw together this post instead of keeping a private journal. Anyway. Part of the prodding at me was simply because I have spent so much time fretting over the temple kit that I had really gotten into armchair mode and lost the plot for anything more than the daily devotion to Astarte as part of the OTA curriculum. The spirits say, “You want a horse? GET BACK ON THE HORSE.” Cute.

Checking the Enochian Quick Reference Chart gives us a few tantalizing names:

The Names of the Sixteen Good Angels Skilled and Potent In Mechanical Arts

TNBR and companions NBRT, BRTN, and RTNB earth of AIR
MAGL and companions AGLM, GLMA, and LMAG earth of WATER
OCNC and companions CNCO, NCOC, and COCN earth of EARTH
PSAC and companions SACP, ACPS, and CPSA earth of FIRE

Since I don’t want to manufacture a car, I am really just looking for a car which is maximally functional to me, the angels who govern the composition and mixing of metals weren’t attractive. Also why not use the Angels of Transportation? Because they move things around. I don’t want a car literally dropped on my front lawn. After a bit of waffling, I decided that I would accept a car in good mechanical condition regardless of brand and appearance. The conditions for success would be:

  1. Has to carry the kids. Can’t be a truck without a back seat. Jump seats are a no-no.
  2. Has to be a truck, because I sometimes carry bulky/heavy items (LIKE THE HENGE) and I’m really tired of hanging those out of the back of the van.
  3. Has to be in reasonable mechanical condition.
  4. Should be four wheel drive. The van has gotten stuck every bad winter and the camry was a total joke and inspired me to walk home a few times last winter. While I don’t much mind it, we live out towards the sticks.

I only later realized that the four qualifications of “good” lined up nicely with the four angels. It wasn’t intentional.

Here is one of the sticky wickets of Enochian philosophy and theology when it comes to the practical application of it – you will notice I did not pick a specific sub-element to work with. Reason being that I’ve started to play with the idea that the four enochian elements are actually the four worlds. Stealing a page from QBL, that gives us something like:

  • ATZILUTH – or the Archetypical World – is OIP TEAA PDOCE. “He whose name is unchanged from what it was”. This is Fire. I picked it because the call seems to describe a final, unchanging being.
  • BRIAH – the Creative World – is ORO IBAH AOZPI. “He who cries aloud in the place of desolation”. This is Air. I picked it because the “place of desolation” would have required an acknowledgement that there was a place which did not have God in it, therefor it could create a new God…
  • YETZIRAH – the Formative World – is MPH ARSL GAIOL. “He who is the 1st true creator, the horned one”. This is Water. This is the demiurge.
  • ASSIAH – the Material World – is MOR DIAL HCTGA. “He who burns up iniquity without equal”. This is Earth. These are the Gods of antiquity, or the accusing Gods.

If you said this reads a lot like Plato’s Celestial Hierarchy, you would have a good eye. There’s more Plato in Dee than I previously thought and I’ve been poking around there. That particular current from The Republic may also be responsible for the wife swapping incident.

I’m still a little bit uncomfortable with the assignments, but I feel the language and names are the most important part of the system. If you’ve poked around in the Five Books of Mystery, the use of the language becomes a bit clearer. Most importantly, the system is fundamentally gnostic. We cannot know God. Dee goes to great lengths in the monad to make a body of God, but ultimately, he is describing God in the context of Earthly things. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Dee can only relate to God in a symbolic way which honestly sometimes feels short of the symbols he put to the task. If the system is Gnostic and we cannot know God, than the Place of Desolation is the place God occupies, because how can anything but God occupy the place that God does? This is an argument which would be recognized in Classical Philosophy. On the other hand if we hold that the Monas is actually God and that Dee apprehended the idea, then I would flip the names. It is my personal opinion that The Horned God is a very sexual image, and instead of the reconciliation or the Hermaphroditic union, we’re being handed a God who is only half the puzzle. This would also jive with the Hermetic current, so I feel there’s a strong argument for organizing the work this way. The first true creator, of the earthly realm, is human. God set the stage, if we want to go all biblical with it we can say that God created the world, placed the garden in it, then he made people and people gave the animals names, tilled the earth, and really took things over from there. God steps out. I kept the elemental associations with the names so as not to break other bits of the systems.

“He who’s name is unchanged from what it was” is pretty easy to suss out, anyone can look at a catalog of cars and identify that they are all in fact cars. Maybe the Chicken Qabalah is worth a review here. Also Crowley enters here with arguments about princes and kings if you happen to follow the Thoth tarot. Having worked through this in blog format, I’m leaving the associations how they are.

“He who burns up iniquity without equal”. There’s a lot of really nice imagery in here, but I chose to really go with the idea that the Earth is iniquity by most religions standards. The moment something is created, time itself conspires through the forces of entropy to destroy it. I’m not even talking about manmade things like houses and cities, the sun is literally running out of energy right now as you read this. Big thoughts, but it’s not going away tomorrow, so we’re good.

Given the fact that I need something for material ends, something which is made, and something which is suffering from entropy in the form of mileage and care, the Holy Name I chose to work with was “MOR DIAL HCTGA” (Earth). Going back to the previous chart here, all of the mechanical arts are in the Earth tablet, so really it feels like Earth of Earth (“OCNC”) is the correct thing to be working on. I’m a little surprised too, but thems the ropes. That gives us the top-and-bottom, so we can fill in the rest for the sake of working with the Essential Enochian Grimoire.

Tablet of Union: NANTA (Spirit of Earth)

Secret Holy Name: MOR DIAL HCTGA (Earth)

The Great Kings: ICZHIHAL – “He who Solidifies the Past” (Earth – neat, huh?)

Seniors: LZINOPO – “He who is first in the Deep Waters” (Earth – Moon)

Calvary Cross Angels: ABALPT and ARBIZ – “He who stoops down” (over the engine of your Camry) and “He who’s voice protects”. (Earth of Earth).

Archangels and Kerubim: POCNC – OCNC, CNCO, NCOC, COCN

We’re going to ignore the daemons for the moment. Why Earth-Moon? There’s no Earth-Earth and I’ve always felt like Jupiter is more for the continued operation of business and the affairs it entails, while the moon is really governing purely material manifestation, since material stuff is only temporary.


OK so I wrote all that about five days ago, got into the argument about neoplatonism, avoided getting baited by Mo and I had planned on actually conducting the ritual today (Sunday – Day of Sol, Hour of Sol) so that King Carmara, who is the “wildcard” in Enochian, could be overseeing the operation. Experience says planning a magical operation causes all hell to break loose if anyone knows you’re planning it, so I kept it real deep under my hat. Still, the camry managed to develop a miss when it was first started, which really sucked in the single-digit temps we’d been having over the first week since I couldn’t drive it until it warmed up. Also started making nasty valve noises. I was getting nervous. After triaging the miss by putting in fresh spark plugs, and adding thinner oil, it was happy enough I felt confident to go car shopping.

A philosophical point – working with the Angelic Language causes stuff to happen. There’s a whole lot of Enochian corpus which is simply “make this book” or “make this chart” and the Angels were trying to deliver it piecemeal because delivering it whole-cloth works the magic. The magic isn’t the ritual, the magic in Enochian is the language. Or the work of producing that product, but the work will involve the language. See what they did there?

If you’re playing to the timeline here, you’ll notice I’m going car shopping before I do the ritual. I have never actually purchased a car from a dealership or traded them in. I much preferred to find that car with 100k miles on it some guy can’t move because he doesn’t have receipts and throw $1k at it. If I get a year out of it, still cheaper than a lease. I would donate the old cars to charity when they blew up and let them keep the scrap money. Mostly this move was inspired to find out the pricepoints on things (I was planning on asking for specific things during the ritual I felt would show up in the price range) and to figure out which dealerships had good stuff. Also the larger car dealerships are over an hour from me since I live in the sticks. I looked at a few cars while I was out and about and found a Mitsubishi Raider I really liked. I did everything but sign the paper for that listing, since I wanted to go home and try to get a loan.

At this point the ritual planned above was off the books and I was going to change it to a “thank you” ritual after signing.

Next day the guy calls me. “Hey Phergoph, I can’t sell you that car.”

“Why?”

“Look, our guys just took a look at it, and it’s really leaking oil out the rear diff”.

“If you guys want to replace the rear diff I’m interested. If you think it’ll work if I do the seals myself I’ll still buy it. A seal kit is only $120″ (and literally two days of trying to bang the stupid orbital gears out, having done this before).

“No, this is going to seriously explode in 15k miles, I know you got kids, I will find something else.”

I hung up the phone in a bit of a fog since a salesman literally just gave up a commission for the sake of helping me. That’s a paycheck for that guy, that takes some real balls. Seriously if you’re car shopping, hit up that dealership and ask for Jon, he’s a really nice guy. He didn’t have to do that. Turns out there was a Honda Ridgeline coming into the lot on trade in, but after talking to Jon about that car also, the miles were just way too high. He agreed to keep looking and I thanked him for being really honest.

On Saturday, I happen to be doing very little except reviewing/revising the ritual waiting for the snow to melt and I happen across a listing (no photos) of a Dodge Ram 1500, with the mid-size engine. 81k miles, asking $9k USD. I called the dealership and it was still there. Turns out they couldn’t take pictures because… it was covered in snow. It had been traded in two weeks ago and they just decided to list it now because of the weather. OK fine I’ll come out. Miracle of miracles, the camry started without too much prodding, so I got the kids dressed and buckled them in.

Turns out this truck wasn’t just a Dodge Ram 1500, this was a Dodge Ram 1500, with the Infinity Sound System, with the towing package, with the quad cab, and it had nice tires and the bed cap. The paint was so-so, but they had all the service records. It was also the Laramie trim level so it had a super nice interior. Best bit? Class III towing suspension and hookups. However in the secret center console (under the middle seat) I found… a 7 pin to 3 pin adapter and a Mr Green Lawnmower Sparkplug. What were they towing? A trailer that needed a 3 pin connector (brake lights only) and lawn equipment on that. Someone ordered a top-shelf truck to pull around a lawnmower business. Philosophical question time: Why did the guys who obviously detailed this and put the paper flootmats in miss the sparkplug? The wiring adapter I can see as being “part of the vehicle” but the spark plug is an oily mess and an obvious miss.

Anyway, they offered me $500 for the Camry and we settled up. While I don’t want a car payment, having something which gets my kids around safely (Laramies have extra side impact airbags) and lets me haul around all my work stuff and still gets 20mpg on the highway (keep telling yourself that Phergoph)? That’s a win. Plus payments are under $200 a month, which is manageable and leaves enough in the budget for repairs and other crap.

Here, we have a real temptation, and one I haven’t quite worked out all the details for. If the language is the magic, then do we have to perform the ritual? I’m going to opt for “yes”, I personally feel there’s a trap here for the lazy (Dee) to go fishing or whatever instead of following up with the magic. It also really smacks of “fuck you I got mine”. On the other hand, there’s plenty of places in the Enochian system where the spirits themselves are defined by their labels, so when writing out the ritual nicely on the finest cardstock money can buy, you are literally conjuring up the spirits by the writing of their names. “I create as I speak” and the “breath of God” literally. If that is the case, then the ritual really happened a week ago when I drafted everything and we’re merely on the execution side. This sort of reverse-order thing doesn’t happen to me using the Solomonic system.

Rather than the original plan of petitioning the spirits, I merely called them up and thanked them for their efforts and asked them for their continued efforts in protecting the vehicles, which is always something I worry about anyway which is why 4WD was a requirement to begin with. (As I’m typing this, the internet is being spotty because of a solid inch of ice on everything and we jokingly said the truck was christened).

I suppose that’s how you summon a truck.

EDIT: The ontological argument is a really good listen – http://www.historyofphilosophy.net/anselm-ontological-argument

Please Read History

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This came up recently on Amber and Jet, which is the wicca mailing list on yahoo. By the time I got done typing up the essay things had cooled off. I decided it was a better blog post instead.

Things start off innocently enough.

Best Wishes to all.
Recently I have stumbled across this paper:
Which suggests that Wica is heavily influenced by Neoplatonism.
I would like to ask the experts on amberandjet what they think of this thesis.
If true, scholarly  inclined seekers will want to study Neoplatonism.
Happiness.

I’m really tickled pink that someone managed to get “out of the box” and realizes there’s really interesting philosophy outside of Gerald Gardner. I immediately opened the paper.

Presenter Bio: Don Frew is an Elder in both the NROOGD…

Reply all “please kill yourself”.
OK I wasn’t nearly that caustic despite being tempted.
Instead, I wrote:


Normally I wouldn’t chime in but the paper just absolutely made me sad from a liberal arts perspective. If anyone is interested I would highly suggest at very least listening to the History of Philosophy: http://historyofphilosophy.net/

If you even give things the most cursory look from a historical perspective, women (as a gender) are not somehow venerated  any more than men or hermaphrodites in pagan philosophy. To make it into a gender issue is completely ridiculous – but they are recognized as full people with equal rights. It was the childless and the unmarried that would become philosophers. This topic actually comes up fairly often when looking at modern gnostic thought (Islam) where some folks do frame it in gender issues (usually men who rely entirely on their wives to care for them and run the household) but in antiquity, the role of abstinence, asceticism, and homosexuality were directly defined by a functional application of “making babies” and “how do I pay for all this stuff”? Have family obligations or debt? Can’t go live on the mountaintop… I don’t really understand what the topic has to do with anything but it’s present in the opening of the paper.

The author also makes the error of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Just because the rooster crows before sunrise, the rooster does not cause the sun to rise. Hutton basically serves the role of the strawman in this paper. Hutton is not perfect, Hutton makes mistakes in his own history and generalizations. This does not mean that there is proof there was a surviving, isolated neoplatonist cult somewhere in Europe, it means simply that Hutton was incorrect in some of his assertions. It is not *proof positive*.

The author of the paper skips about the last 700 years of european history. In the 1300s, Plethos (also born “in the safety of the Persian Empire”) was actually starting neoplatonic schools in Europe. It was a mainstream thing. Students would build altars and they would pray to statues and it could comfortably be slotted into present day paganism. The problem is – Plethos is buddy-buddy with the Christians and has a live-and-let-live philosophy, but rejects Aristotle. In doing so, he ends up being prosecuted by the church for heresy (despite Aristotle) and confined to the city. He has, in my opinion, legitimate neoplatonic chops because he managed to piss off the Christians so much they sat up, took note, and told him to stuff it.

The Neoplatonic schools in europe, which Ficino recognizes as a legitimate effort in neoplatonism with his recognition of Plethos as ‘the second Plato’, existed and were established and churned out students and graduates who then went on into european society. That’s great, but neoplatonism in europe as a political branch was an advocate of chain gangs and work camps, burning homosexuals at the stake, and so on. How did we get from The Republic to the Reform of the Peloponnese? It doesn’t really matter – the rub is that this is the hereditary vector of neoplatonic philosophy in Europe. The paper ignores events like the burning of Bruno because it has no reasonable explanation visible to me for the degeneracy and wants us to believe that somehow 700 years of nothing happened like an unfortunate coven caught in an iceberg, only to be thawed out, while some unknown force suddenly decides to make huge prisons and burnings a regular thing for Christianity. Why do we care about Plethos and not Iamblichus? Because Plethos stays in Europe. The rest of them go back home to elsewhere. (I’m not going to make the accusation that the paper follows the wikipedia page on neoplatonism to a T and thats why the author simply ignores the rest of recorded history – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism – but it did cross my mind at this point).

Does wicca (or wica) have its roots in a synthetic understanding of classical (not limited to Plato) thought? Yes, but this also means that it has more in common with the rosicrucians, the golden dawn, and similar Western Mystery Cults than it does in classical, unbroken (neo)platonic thought which fell victim to the zeitgeist of the time in Europe. The author simply fails to make the connection he alleges exists between the school in Athens and Europe because history is extremely inconvenient after 539. Worst part? The author knows it:

From Harran, Pagan Neoplatonism reentered Europe in the 11th century CE, becoming the basis for centuries of Renaissance “Christian” Neoplatonism (that often was not so “Christian”), but our concern stays with the avowedly Pagan stream of Neoplatonism. BTW, this Pagan stream passed from Harran through the Picatrix into the writings of Agrippa and eventually into the ritual forms of Gardnerian Wica.

The smoking gun is that Ficino has the Picatrix, Ficino loves Plethos, and Plethos doesn’t love homosexuals, Moors, or lenient prison terms which the paper attempts to explain away as “Christianized neoplatonism”. It’s just bad thinking. He can’t have it both ways. Western Mystery Cults could be “reformed neoplatonism”, or “neoneoplatonism”, but they’re not neoplatonism how Europe understood it (unless someone wants to come clean about their weekends)… ;)


After writing it, however, I realized that this also deprived the folks of the creation myth that wicca was older than Gardner and I decided not to post it. That is really the reason why the folks who drink the kool-aide make life harder for everyone else.

Running an Occult Group is Actually Pretty Hard

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Running an occult group is actually pretty hard. Boy, we haven’t had a rambling E/N sort of post around here in awhile, so let me waste some time.

Let me tell you a few stories.

The first problem is everyone is strapped for cash. Do you have a lot of cash laying around? Are you willing to spend it on magic? Are you willing to spend it on someone else to do magic? That last one is really the rub. Folks, like myself, with two kids, a wife in school, a completely beat car, etc – we don’t have the money. And since the Rosicrucians didn’t leave me the secrets of making gold, well, we’re just working off nickle-and-dime stuff I can spare from my day job without pissing anyone off about spending over the holiday. Folks that do have cash I don’t particularly blame them for feeling like they don’t have cash given the current situation with OPEC trying really hard to crash the US economy. And, we’re due for the 7 year slump in the markets, so it’s completely a write off. I am actually quickly getting better at woodworking, but I still can’t paint for shit.

The second problem is time. I find myself trying to co-ordinate magical events at my day job which is probably a no-no for the use of my time. Fortunately one of our folks has offered to help me paint (just in time for the single-digit temps, so no painting) and one of our folks was really quite nice and got the altar built. The person she had build it flipped all the colors around 180 degrees, so we’re back to having to re-paint it. Basically, the axiom here is “anything that can go wrong, will”. While we’re talking about temple kit, the first seasonal rite went great, and then the robe I got shipped was in the wrong color (without enough time to fix it) and we fell way short on props. It also happens to be one of the rites which involves fire. Not a little bit of fire, but big, giant goblets of fire. How much of the kit available online is fire-rated? Virtually none. Getting the props put together is a real mess. To add insult to injury, I bought a bunch of little mini-lite sticks from China to simulate “charging up lightning” for the performance and they sent me… A used $30 gift card to a women’s clothing store. Wouldn’t have been bad if I could buy the robe there, but the card was exhausted.

That being said, the people I’m working with are quite nice, it’s just getting everything nailed down is hard. Getting it all nailed down in an impressive fashion is harder yet, because I think folks are familiar with the OTA and they expect high end Rivendell type stuff. I didn’t buy a log cabin or hobbit house, so we’re starting out at a disadvantage. I don’t have a purple room. Winters here are brutal, so the henge has to be portable to be indoor/outdoor. Finally, the initiations are hard because travel is expensive. Might have been smarter to pick an order to join which had some east coast presence, but we’re going for the gold here.

Is it perfect? No. I actually strongly object to the spirit wheel being counted as an alchemical element, but generally I think the OTA system is the best one I’ve run across so far*. The “culture” is right also. The OTO, shortly after I just said to hell with it, started to have the discussion group thing going on but immediately capped it with “will there be grade specific things discussed?” So right there, the discussion group died. If folks are worried about what they’re saying, they aren’t going to talk. And unless the group is big enough that is has enough IIº members or similar, it’s just not interesting to higher grade members. While I realize magic is personal to the practitioner, there’s absolutely no reason for a social order like the OTO if the magic is so personal no-one can discuss it. Wicca goes through this also, as does Masonry, but Masonry is over that critical hump, and Wicca can’t even have two covens agree on whats historical or not or who’s line and initiation is valid. The OTA bylaw discussion recently agreed that the person’s spouse is the rank of the OTA member, which is an elegant and inclusive solution to that problem. Additionally, the whole crew is less interested about tripping on their grade-penis and much more interested in having a frank discussion about how the system works and why it is the way it is. That’s a good way to be. More on that point, everyone has read Crowley. Everyone has read Pike. Everyone has read Gardner. The OTA publishes everything (there’s some blinds but I’m not convinced it’s not illustration errors and such – especially after the altar coloring oops) and… Everything is out there to read. This is immensely practical. People are going to do the work, and produce stuff, or not. Is there grade-stuff? Sure. But it’s mostly geared towards “have you built the tools you need to do magic” rather than time spent in the meetings. Why join? For the people, of course.

If you’re in the northeast of the US, shoot me a mail at Fr.Phergoph@gmail.com and we’ll try to setup the next seasonal or join the OTA Philadelphia facebook group. It’s way punk rock (read: low budget) at the moment, but anyone who wants to hang out is certainly welcome. Also worth mentioning as a goodie has been the associate member geared Seeds of Astarte. It’s a once a month google hangout to discuss the OTA associate member program.

Also on that note, I’ve been asked to do three topics for the Coronzon Coffee Club, but I thought it might be fun to let folks pick…

*The spirit wheel makes the fourth element, but I’ve always wondered why the altar doesn’t have a triangle collar on it or why the three elements weren’t placed around the triangle of the art which contains the black mirror. Moving the elements together to allow them to mix would obviously be a motion of creation (coagulation) focused on the mirror in the center of the triangle (the mirror being the spirit wheel), while moving the elements apart to make the triangle would be a force of dissolution (solvency). This is a minor nitpick and I realize this would be a divergence from the actual historical document. I posted about it on ning.

Möt Mass: THE MOST METAL OF MASSES.

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We (me and the magic folks up here) managed to get Mot’s Mass done.

Just another day in the office!

Just another day in the office!

It was a fairly interesting step in my own personal path since I had conducted some group rituals before, but frankly trying to teach the classes and such really emphasized the need for putting the dramatic into “dramatic ritual”.

Practical notes:

  • Incense is almost useless outside. I live in a wooded area, on a hilltop, next to a creek, and the wind just carried the stuff off before anyone could smell it, including me.
  • Tiki torches are great, and kerosene burns slightly orangey red with a great plume of smoke. Kerosene is so great that it’s impossible to put out when one of the torches leaks fuel down the stem and burns it to the ground. The smoke however really contributed to a ground-fog effect.
  • My neighbors probably think I’m insane. That’s OK, they couldn’t really see it, but they might have heard it. They probably thought that we were joining a fraternity with the muffled command to “DRINK”.
  • We need to build a better henge.

For the incense, it’s probably worth it to have the actors carry several small pots of it. The giant bowl I had prepared didn’t work simply because the wind was blowing the wrong direction. If the performers had carried their own small incense burners, it would have been possible to clandestinely move with the wind to keep the participants in the zone.

For the henge, one of the things I would like to do is put up planetary banners. Just testing the tiki torches, the colored construction paper wrap wasn’t visible with the planetary symbols on it so I omitted it. The point was to have the alchemical symbolism present in the performance, which was accomplished with the large banner over the altar, which was dressed with three candles on top of three lead ingots, and under all that a black cloth. It might have been good to have at least a torch dedicated to Saturn and, given the seven points of the circle, either the Sun or Mercury next to the altar to work with Saturn. (I would have picked Sol).

The circle was setup to the participants looked to the west for Mot’s entrance. Just on the note of tiki torches, the plan is still to put up plywood forms (or cardboard) and cover them with spray on foam. One of the folks here has some stage experience and tipped me off that fake rocks like that are done with spray on foam. It sounds really doable and could be cheap and easy for a good effect.

The actors were all top notch, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to participate! That is one thing we did get correct – the folks we’re working with here are amazing.

Motmass 2014

Motmass 2014

How Does I Divination?

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On a wholly unrelated note, I’ve been really enjoying spending a lot of time outside watching the season change listening to Burzum. If you have the chance, I highly suggest listening to one of the meandering tracks on a day when you have a lot of time and just watching the time go on in a field or forest somewhere. Heck, put it on and read the post.

Very occasionally I run into a real head scratcher.

The person in question was trying to use the Thoth deck to give “intuitive readings”. I get it – sort of. Crowley himself had to do some sort of intuitive work to produce the thing. It also incidentally happens to be pretty much the only tarot I use. Even when we go back to things like the Tarot de Marseille, it’s pretty obvious these were some sort of occult flash cards for someone to tell a story about gnosticism. I also realize the place of intuitive work in divination – whatever the definition of the card happens to be, how does that apply to the person? When you’re paying a fortune-teller or card reader or whomever, the money goes into their ability to figure out how those cards tell a story beyond their individual definitions. I very occasionally wrote about “house definitions” of runes, but those typically occur when two runes are overlapping or occur in a particular order. So what’s the problem?

They were just reading the title of the card, and making up a story. In this case, they had decided that “dominion” (two of wands) was actually a card about politics.

The worst part about it? The card really perfectly described their situation. They managed to actually produce a good tarot draw, and an absolutely faulty reading. I think where this got off the rails was they were participating in less rigid magical practices and as a result of fluffy bunny sloppiness, they literally read what they wanted to out of the cards instead of what the cards said. Turns out this is largely a reflection of a much broader problem where they had largely stopped taking advice in general from people who were concerned.

The terrible irony when I brought this up was they said, “You’re just reading your perspective into it”. I was holding the book in my hands and just about had a rage stroke. Yes I am reading my perspective into it, thats why you’re here.

When is it acceptable to read outside of the box? I am wholly for interpreting the rigid definition of whatever system someone is using. Using a thoth deck? Best consult Crowley. Using runes? Those have pretty strict definitions, as do Hebrew letter and Greek letters. Things get somewhat wobbly in geomancy, but bibliomancy? Bibliomancy has incredibly strong context opportunities. However what happens when we have something like radhio and turisaz overlapping? That one pretty much has the house definition of “flat tire”. That one is pretty obvious. How about pertho and thurisaz? Pregnancy. Gebo/pertho/thurisaz? Marriage because of a baby. Yeah try explaining that one with a straight face when it comes up. Are they horrified? Are they happy?

How do I know this? Am I some rune-master, chosen by Odin himself? I do have an excellent beard! Nope. I kept notes. Pretty mundane, except keeping notes allows you to notice when those sorts of things come up. Want to play along?

Pick a divination system. It could be tarot, it could be runes, but I would encourage you to pick one which is popular enough that people have published material on it. In my case, I at one point owned three copies of Odins Gateways. Great book. Someone once criticized it by saying, “Everything is really negative”. Yeah well if you lived in an era where starving to death or dying in combat was pretty much a yearly thing, you’d probably be a downer too. Pick something which compliments your mood. I generally am a pessimist, given that I work in IT, so I spend most of my time wondering what the users are going to disappoint me with next. At the same time, I really enjoy how Crowley writes, even if I disagree with him on some points of technique, so the Thoth deck has serious appeal to me.

Each morning, wake up. Clean your space, and ask, “How will my day go?” Write down what cards you get, take a picture, whatever. You’re capturing how the cards or runes or staves are laid out and their positions and their literal physical representation and presence. Once you have that, write down clearly a list of whats present, regardless of position. Next to that, fill out the definitions from whatever book or source you’re using without any interpretation. Finally, the fun part, make a guess what they mean.

At the end of the day, write down significant things. Just make a list. “Got a flat tire, spilled my coffee, found $20″. So long as you’re not using some shit mermaid deck, try to make some connections between the reading of the day, and what happened.

Last trick: If you’re using something like tarot and you can leave the cards out in your space, by all means leave them out. If you’re looking at them all day you’re probably going to try to “fit” the day to the cards, and that’s a different magical operation than trying to predict the day. If you leave the cards out somewhere you might see them, cover them up without disturbing them so at the end of the day when you’re editing your journal, you can go back to “that space” for a retrospective. If you’re using the runes, I’ve found the first throw is almost always “this is the here and now” and works like some acknowledgement of the present tense. You might want to make two throws and record them both and leave the last one for examination later.

The point is – don’t stop. Keep a daily divination journal along with a daily journal of your reading and asana and similar things and go back and read it. Heck, start a wordpress blog. I probably have hundreds of posts which are simply marked as unpublished because they record my progress and are notes (well indexed and searchable) for myself. Maybe some day my kids will think dad is insane and set them all to public and you can see them, or maybe this laptop will get locked in the false bottom of a chest and half consumed in a fire.

Astarte Altar

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I finished putting together the Astarte altar yesterday. The altar has it’s own dedicated stand about the circumference of a basketball, and it is covered in a green cloth. Behind her are roses in one of those foam cones, to spread out their leaves as a backdrop and give an impression of an arch of roses above her. In front lays roses in bloom, spread over seashells. Finally there’s an offering dish in front of that, which can hold a candle (rose scented) or whatever I deem appropriate. I may also put an oil diffuser in there. The statue itself is one of the classic renditions of Venus, sort of similar to the paintings which put her on a seashell, but she’s holding doves and other bird imagery. It doesn’t photograph well, not as I compare it to my recollection.

It sounds wonderfully mundane to write it out but it is absolutely inspiring in a darkened room. Its fairly rare that I put together some arts and crafts where I can sit there in silence and enjoy the effect, but after the last post on the Heart, I was thoroughly intoxicated if for a moment on the wonderful effect of the light, scent, and flowers. For future efforts I think some rose incense cones would be the way to fly. I’m fairly big on having the incense match the visuals of whatever we’re working with and Astarte is no exception. Roses conjure up romance and love and the scent is significant to us from an early age, so it certainly makes a strong candidate.

I was going to try to post a quote from Crowley, something about silence being the most pure form of worship and I can certainly understand why. The same for (depending on who you ask) the first or last Enochian key being silence. The Key of Silence is that push onto the astral which cannot be expressed or complimented by words, thoughts, or actions. Certainly the initial appreciation of the altar is absolutely a nod towards that key. Dumbfounded and awestruck literally at the experience, it is all encompassing and pure joy.

Trying to google for the quote, I ran into Crowleys Vision and Voice.

Stuff to track down later – 14 is Mot? 12 is Baal? 2 is Astarte Properly? It’s very back of the envelope at the moment but I feel like Crowleys vision of it could be lined up for some neat insights and interests. Specifically 2 speaks to me directly with Thors hammer and references to the archetypes. Again, not OTA cannon, but food for thought.

The Heart

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Recently there’s been a lot of meditation on the heart around here. The OTA has a task where the practitioner is supposed to build an altar to Astarte.

Right there – one simple sentence – kicked off a giant search for “What is Astarte?”

So really there’s two different models, there’s the erotic model and the goddess model. There’s plenty of erotic statues out there which are nothing more than carrying on the fine Japanese tradition of sexualizing girls of indeterminate age. While I realize there is a place for erotic art, this is not it. Unfortunately putting in female statue in amazon litters the results with such degeneracy. On the other hand, this one is sort of OK for invoking Astarte as goddess of the strip club. If I throw down a bunch of $5s on my altar, that’s the number of venus, which makes it OK, right? (Edit: that’s a joke about the local chaos scene, I’m aware seven is the number of venus).

One of my buddies rightly pointed out that the God (Baal) and Goddess (Astarte) should always be standing. He has excellent taste. I understand that there’s dancing with someone to cultivate romance and there’s dancing to cultivate eros, but the proper form for this is to romance the stone.

Separately, while trying to sort out this Astarte stuff, there was a bit of a shot across the bow. I was at a wedding and the DJ put on club music. My wife took it as a queue to dance like a stripper, which I don’t normally mind. Except this is a wedding and everyone’s parents are there, and suddenly it dawned on me that I’m at a wedding. The goal wasn’t to be erotic – as a male living in the internet age I will be the first person to attest to the fact that opening a web browser is almost a cheap erotic experience just how things are out there – but rather if we’re seeing union then the initial goal is romance. Assuming Astarte isn’t a total whore wholly lacking in discrimination, the romance comes first. (The groom’s mother said “Save that dancing for the bedroom!” – spoil sport).

That brings us to an interesting observation about polarity. I like Poke’s Master Mandala idea, and that the Angel controls the lower spirit. Therefor to work with Astarte, invoke Baal, and run from there. (This is not official OTA work, this is speculation on my part and should be understood as experimental). What does Baal do? For one, he’s a bit of a jock. Someone said that to me and I haven’t been able to kick the association especially considering there’s a fair bit of horseplay in the poetry. At least part of the daily practice then should be 10 minutes of GETTING SWOLE. Particularly the “four hour body” book has absolutely handy rituals, oops I mean 10 minute workouts, which dovetail (pun intended) into what could be worshipful practice. That nicely ties up what we should have on the altar too – roses, clearly. Even above and beyond the Venus association (green, seashells, doves, etc), the imagery should be romantic. As much as Baal is about getting swole (only to have his sick gains tossed aside by Mot), Astarte is about romance.

Around this time I also picked up Evola’s Magic book again. My on-call week had tanked anything that resembled personal work except in the most ascetic sense. Evola’s writing ranges from almost Crowleyean accusations to being subtle to the detriment of expression, and he has a chapter which deals directly with the heart which is on the subtle end of the scale. He says a lot of things I agree with, mostly that the emotional world is also the lowest of the worlds. But also in the book is that the heart is fundamentally masculine. That’s a neat idea. Why is it masculine? He is very careful to lay out the idea that there are feminine components to the heart unto itself, but in the system of the spiritual body, he says the heart is masculine and projective. There was an ah-ha moment here, because I’m reading a book.

As with everything in the Hermetic worldview, the layers of something alternate when they are individual and distinct components interacting with one and another. When we’re reading a book, or when we’re trying to scour the page for information, we are putting our intellectual faculties into a feminine, and receptive state. When we do this, the lower world of the heart can become inspired, and project that inspired emotion onto the work. Once we have that inspired emotion from our altar, we can flip the coin so to speak and let our minds understand the astral images without being colored by emotional judgement of these ideas. Really it’s the “stones in the river” meditation where thoughts come by acknowledged but without judgement, but Evola’s eloquent rendition of the topic affirms a deep understanding of the material while making it accessible.

The converse of this loop is equally true and interesting. As I setup my Astarte altar, I was wandering around Michaels Art Store chewing the fat with another person interested in the OTA. However at that moment, my intellect is the masculine, projective form. I think about the roses, where I place the candles, judgements about materials, my budget, and so on. Each of these colors the emotional experience and each configuration is held for a moment and judged for it’s worth and effects on my heart. Which of these “leads” magic? Neither. Emotional decision making leads to the tyranny of the mob and intellectual decision making leads to an isolation. If we say the heart leads magic, then we regret and by extension subtly loathe our altars when we spend too much money on the thing and deprive ourselves of food or some other thing our heart wants. On the other hand if our altars are so paltry that they fail to inspire, then we have impoverished the emotional components of magic. The trick is to have a marriage.

Landvættir and bergbúi, trees and rocks

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I just got back from holiday and one of the nice things about getting away with my wife is we’re both interested in magic, even if these sometimes seem to be for separate ends. While the vacation to New England certainly had it’s share of historical interest, I got a chance to sneak in some magic. The folks we met up there were also phenomenal. I won’t suffer the readers with another rant about the magical community at large but I think it’s a rare thing to be able to sit down with four different people who are all members of four different occult groups and not have a murder by the end of it. To be fair, the majority of us were also OTO members in addition to something else and I think that helps people get out of the fishbowl, so to speak.

Our campsite was technically “no smoking”, which means “go into the woods”. Perhaps ironically instead of providing a stone or grass area to smoke in, the policy only serves to push people into where the undergrowth would actually be a fire-hazard. Regardless, I managed to track down a boutique tobacco shop and while my wife was hanging out with the upline I ducked in and grabbed one of “their blends” of cigars. The Red Lion name wasn’t lost on me. It was probably a re-labeled La Aurora, the La Aurora white-pepper-and-leather is a dead giveaway to their middle of the line smoke but not bad. For whatever reason we had two hours to kill and my wife wanted to nap, so I decided to go walk around the woods and find a nice place to sit. Now, I don’t particularly think that every circle of stones is holy, and I actually think that finding such places is difficult at best. I also don’t think that landscaping is a substitute for a henge, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for places which feel right. The fun part was – I wasn’t looking right at the moment. I merely wanted a quiet place to sit down and dig into some reading.

I found a rock which looked pretty darn comfortable and sat down on it. The rock was cool, and it was smooth, and it was also round. I lit my cigar. While I was making sure the head of it would burn nicely, I happened to realize that none of the other stones in the area were round. They were all sort of craggy. This means the stone I was laying out on happened to be old. Much older than the rocks around it. I laid back in the sunlight and really soaked up the whole scene and noticed how pretty the light was as it filtered through the tree. I realized I was laying under an oak, which I didn’t recognize at first since those sorts of oaks don’t grow near me. As I laid there I also realized the forest animals weren’t particularly upset at my presence. I could hear children laughing and playing at the other campsites, but more immediately at hand were the noises of groundhogs pawing through the undergrowth and birds flitting about. I realized the stone had taken on sort of a hollow quality to it, so I decided to descend. While I meditated on the stone a bit, I didn’t particularly sense an individuality as much as one of the dwarves but more of a giant, sleeping body. However after establishing that no-one was home in the rock, or at least not actively interested in kicking me out, I realized that the stones were laid about under the oak in roughly a circle. Had someone come here before me? Perhaps, but the rocks were large, at least the sized of pumpkins, and covered in vines and roots. The “circle” wasn’t immediately obvious as a circle, but none the less was present.

This gave rise to an interesting idea. What if the sleeping rock wasn’t the home of a spirit, but rather a spiritual home? Was it mere coincidence that the rock was large enough for me to lay comfortably on? If the rock is the place of rest for my spirit, then who is in the circle? I became aware of the tree in the middle of the circle, which had not one, but two ‘doors’ made of healed callus’ on the bark. They seriously looked like doors. A bit of meditation later and I had decided that one old landvættir occupied the tall door and a younger one occupied the smaller door. The older one wasn’t terribly talkative but I did get a sense of acknowledgement. The younger one was bouncy like a ball and seemed happy. My gaze was drawn by the younger one into a square rock under a leaf I hadn’t previously noticed, but it was about the size of a cobblestone. It also had the unique feature of being one of the few rocks which didn’t have a ridiculous amount of growth pulling it down into the earth. A small electric tingle took me and I realized that whatever I happened to be hanging out with wanted the foot of the cigar and was willing to give me the rock (with the small, bouncy spirit) to come home with us. I thought it would be a fun thing and I knew just where I was going to put the rock, so I put the cigar in the larger door and brought up the rock with me into the larger stone.

About this time my wife wandered into the clearing after figuring out where I was (probably by scent alone). I explained why I hadn’t gotten any reading done and why I was playing with rocks, and said it was a natural grove. She didn’t jive with it at first, and grabbed the tree, but didn’t sense anything. I had her stick her hand on the large door and she went cold, and got goosebumps. She thought it was neat but wanted dinner, so we didn’t hang out much longer. However on our way out she wanted to know why I was lugging around this rock, so I handed it to her. Goosebumps again.

Anyway, the rock now lives outside our house under one of our ash trees, which also has a ‘door’ in it similar to the one the oak had. It is probably the most fun thing we took home from vacation, I plan on having the magically inclined folks handle it for fun when they’re over (provided they don’t know the story).

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