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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.