I had a fairly spirited discussion with The Digital Ambler over the use of the HGA. The content on the blog is a result of his suggestions and his gracious use of letting me bounce ideas off him, it doesn’t necessarily reflect his opinion. The HGA was one of the topics I just wrote off as being fad magic. It seriously rubbed me wrong because I felt it opened the door for “the devil made me do it”. Rufus loves the idea, and goes so far as to also conjure his Infernal Guardian Angel. Or Harassing Angel. (I’m not going to mangle the Greek).
His particular concern was I seemed to be using Michael and the Tetragrammaton as a hammer. I love it when people call me on stuff because it provides and opportunity for introspection.
One of the things I had been entertaining behind the scenes was that Michael was my HGA. Or at least I identified my HGA as Michael. When the idea first was presented to me of using Michael and the Tetragrammaton, I didn’t make the connection. I thought it was a way to have more spiritual authority. After talking with Polyphanes (The Digital Ambler), he brought up the HGA was the interface between the divine and the magician. This really struck a cord with me, since that’s exactly how this was presented to me.
His concern was that I was using Michael to compel the spirits when they perhaps shouldn’t be compelled. This is an extremely valid point – and one which has been driven home as a parent. Maybe we as magicians don’t know what’s best for us all the time. I quickly figured out that Michael was really good at cleaning out my spheres. Why is that? The easy answer is “Oh he’s the Sun, that’s just what the sun does”. That answer is not the best answer. The real answer is my brain didn’t want a HGA, so my HGA is Michael because my HGA is preparing the sphere to receive the power of the divine through the appropriate lens. I have an HGA who isn’t obviously an HGA. Good lord. But more on the point I think it also showed off my mental background – I cut my teeth on working with the Goetia and really had a thoroughly convincing time about it, but it was overall a negative experience. Michael of course is the name on the Solomonic Ring, along with the Tetragrammaton. Without realizing it, I was using old Goetia standbys I learned years ago and had cast off. Being into Enochian, Michael says to Dee “Without this ring, thou shall accomplish nothing.” My ring is apparently now in my brain, but I think at this point it’s worth making a new one. I am completely willing to accept Michael now as my HGA.
The problem with this stance (and bookmark this blog post so you can mail me and go “I told you so…” in a year) is the HGA provides what amounts to an anonymous interface with the divine, which is in itself anonymous. We call God by various names but we don’t know the name. We can talk about God and we can call it the Limitless Light (one of my favorites) or simply “God” or any of the other Tetragrammaton names and forms. God is, therefore, unapproachable in a way that encompasses all of God. On the other hand, the HGA is approachable because we can name it. My concern here using Michael as my HGA is going to bite me later when I decide to use another pantheon. Hold onto this idea…
Other topics we discussed was the whole “Sometimes the answer is no” thing. In magic, it’s extremely tempting to go “Oh well I have the POWER OF THE UNIVERSE IN MY CODPIECE” and compel spirits for everything. Part of my issue is I think we really need the money, and this is actually an extremely selfish proposition on one level. On another level, I am not terribly offended by this because our lives were on track before the economy tanked and my job (I work in IT) depends heavily on being able to produce and sell software. On the third hand, as a parent, I can wholly understand how irritating it is to have your kids ask for advice and then go “Oh no but you do it THIS way!” Of course, I’m the kid approaching the spirits for advice, and then telling them what to do. Perhaps the answer is no. Perhaps trying to resurrect the cat wasn’t the best idea for not only the cat, but my mother in law who could actually blame the hurricane for the death of the cat instead of herself. Maybe not getting the highest paying job teaches me and my wife how to manage money better, but maybe the important part is for my wife not to appear overqualified when there’s a dearth of people looking for a job in the workforce. Any job is better than none when the unemployment is out, right?
This also leads to two other important considerations – sometimes asking another God is the proper thing to do, and I have less integration than I would like in my own personal sphere with magic in toto. Asking a different God can be done well, as a perspective thing. Asking another God to do the same thing might be valid from a shoaling magic perspective. But asking another God also feels like when I say “no” and my kid goes and asks Mommy. If our operant model of the universe is that all the Gods in all their presentations talk to one another, then getting a “no” from one God means we need to ask for perspective and “why” rather than going to another God or Angel or Spirit or whatever. Maybe it is better to get a no and then do a series of magical workings to understand the “why”.
The magical codpiece thing also seems to play a role. Compelling spirits when they say no and you say yes really shows off my previous life as a Lesser Key of Solomon magician. Did it work? Yes. Did it work well? Sure, it got stuff done! Was it done in a socially responsible way? Nope. So fast forward two years and I’m finally having the realization that if we’re not accomplishing things in a socially acceptable way, it means we’re operating with our spirits in a nonsocially acceptable way. I’m kicking myself because I had privately entertained the idea of substituting the sword with my own carry piece, and it turns out this is exactly what I did. When we compel spirits, we’re basically going “Oh would you like to do this?” Then the spirit says “no” and then as magicians we say “I HAVE A GUN YOU’RE DOING IT ANYWAY”. Only it’s OK because it’s a knife, or a sword, or a baseball bat. Interesting to note is the current zeitgeist in America where we somehow see “assault weapons” as a bad thing, but items which account for the majority of violent crimes (baseball bats, for the curious) are somehow OK. The answer is it’s not ok, we’re being magically antisocial and our results reflect that. Now I know why the circle works so well from the LKoStK. It works because the entire ritual form is “Do what I want or I’m going to sic my HGA/God/Knife on you”. The results, of course, reflect that and I now wonder if I didn’t terrify the spirits into working for me versus simply winning a battle of wills.
Polyphanes had suggested instead of asking the HGA/Michael to compel the spirit to work (saber-rattling), it would be better to ask the HGA/Michael to prepare a place for the spirit to work. This jives with my whole understanding of cleaning the spheres, and it works extremely nicely. The new ritual form should then be asking the HGA/Michael to prepare the space, then calling on the spirit.
Now, where does this leave me for what I think are decidedly Goetic spirits? Polyphanes had proposed just beefing up the circle and then asking them for information. The circle worked in the last mansions of the moon evocation, but the spirit did test the circle. I haven’t gotten out the triangle yet. I do think hostile spirits have to swear allegiance to the magician. If they show up, and they’re banging on the circle (or the walls, or the bookshelf), then they have to swear a compromise. To say there’s not hostile forces out there would be a mistake. Sort of like how people avoid bad neighborhoods, etc, I think it would have been best if I didn’t open the can of worms, but at the same time I also think ignoring the negative aspects of something is just bad policy. Again, this goes to the whole idea that the HGA is a cop-out, but this is negated by the idea that we’re magicians so we have authority. If we ignore the moon, does it just stop influencing us? Probably not. It does tone down the influence, similar to how ignoring a childs tantrum deprives it of its force, but it still happens. Of course, I’m soaking in it, since I started it, and I might as well finish it and reform its contribution to my life. To that end, Polyphanes had suggested doing the Bornless Ritual to build up spiritual power. I think I will give it a go, but I also think doing a Sunday devotional to Michael would also fit the bill, especially if I start using him as my HGA. Now I know what to ask on Sunday.