Because I suck at wordpress, this post was accidentally published before it was fully baked. Oops.
This post is about divination and magical responsibility against philosophy. There is no morality for the magician. There is only philosophy and mindfulness. Actions are not inherently right or wrong but rather considered against their effects.
Yesterday, someone shored up to me who I sort of peripherally knew but couldn’t place the name. They expressed a desire to learn some ceremonial magic. Normally I just pitch people a reading list tailored to what I believe would be interesting to them and the onus is on them to read it and come back. This very quickly, and with little effort, separates the serious people from folks who just want to perform magic for some paltry end. Ceremonial magic is ceremonial magic because it very specifically requires proper philosophy and observation. This isn’t pick a color and light some candles, this requires an effort. If they can’t put forward the effort to read a book, I doubt they will have the required will to maintain some guard over what enters their minds and bodies. The book is easy. The book is the easiest requirement of magic. The hardest requirement of magic is priming the pump of the subconscious with the appropriate philosophy and imagery. Maybe it’s easier for me since I have kids and no desire to watch Dora the Explorer for the millionth time but I wholly understand people who, given to solitary life, there is a temptation to fill their minds with fiction and pornography. Crowley I think had a novel solution to it – simply make yourself sick of fiction and pornography through indulgence and you’ve bored your devils to death. The trick is to then reflect on the experience instead of moving on to the next immediately.
Rambling aside, for whatever reason (perhaps the name I felt I should have known) I decided to start throwing around the runes. His psychic space is fairly ridiculous and is either incredibly disorganized or he has employed or attempted to employ magic to everything in his life. It was such a consistently close-knit pile when trying to divine for him that I started looking at which runes were not in play just so I could pick out a negative set. This technique is not in the rune guide, I actually haven’t ever seen a spread this busy before. It was like asking “Hello Runes, show me the universe!” and a complete jenga stack of face up runes lands from the bag. The reading was just that absurdly busy. I decided this wasn’t particularly worth chasing, so I started playing the name game to try to narrow down sets of interactions. The name game works by picking a symbol, rune, or card and assigning it a person based on their qualities. Not sure about what the person represents? Pick a card, any card, and stick with it. However that is very last-resort and it is much better to pick something based on known-qualities.
After cycling through a few names and trying to come up with spreads that matched or implied a connection, I happened across a name of a person and she overlapped the center of the tightly knit spread. More importantly, she was actually present in the spread and face-up, while all the other names had been face down or at the edges of the cloth. While it sounds like I’m playing with the Dice of Satan to the casual reader, the symbols matter as much as the position of the symbols, which gives a fairly high significance to individual throws.
And here is where I screwed up. I assumed because there was a connection indicated between these two people, that they were best buddies and friends forever! In fact, they pretty much don’t get along at all. But this was after I had made the assumption that they were interested in working together and friendly. From a hermetic perspective the spirits (or runes) were not deceptive. They did indicate there was a connection there. It was a failure on the part of the operator to not then say “tell me about this connection” and divine that the connection was overwhelmingly negative. This is a really interesting idea to roll around in our heads – if we want to see someone we focus on meeting with them and if we don’t want to see someone, we focus in avoiding them. However that doesn’t mean there’s any less force of will, it simply means the polarity of that force of will is banishing or attracting. This isn’t to say an attitude like “ignore them and they will go away” is appropriate to every situation, but if someone is concerned about things coming down the magical spiderweb, it would be best not to operate on the person but to redirect the forces they’ve expended if there is open hostility. That doesn’t nearly appear to be the case and explores a worst case scenario, but the important takeaway is that effort along the attraction polarity or the banishing polarity directed at someone creates a detectable disturbance in the force.
Additionally to all this divination, everyone but me happened to know they didn’t get along and since I have infrequent interaction with the covens, I didn’t know any of the history. A quick mention and I got the crash course and ten-cent tour from my wife.
What is his reason for leaning ceremonial magic? Immediately, like most people I would guess who take the plunge, he has a need. He has a “haunting” over his friend’s place (in quotes because I haven’t explored the situation) and he’s tried to solve it with ad hoc new age tools and has been unable to bring it to any resolution. Ceremonial magic as a formal discipline means that the operator can (and will be as in the case of last nights divination) be wrong because there is structure and rules and philosophy. There is observation, and there is intent, and it’s bad to confuse them as given in the example above. I gave him the ever popular License to Depart and we’ll see how it goes.