From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, December 15, 2014:
To Fly in the Clouds, to Walk on the Water:
The Grimoires and Magickal Super Powers
There is a lot to be said for the mysterious and romantic nature of the old grimoires—such as the the Lemegeton, Key of Solomon, Abramelin, etc. Their pages are filled with ancient and powerful magickal formulae, the secrets of conjuring demons and calling down angels, and magickal talismans for every conceivable purpose. They represent a deep and complex occult tradition, drawing from the spirit lore, astrology, and alchemy of their day to address the problems of everyday life, politics, education, and even warfare.
But that’s not all they promise. Along with the expected spells for healing, love, protection in battle, and victory in court (things we can all use even today), you will discover the grimoires also promise you super powers. They claim that you’ll be able to fly, raise the dead, pass through locked doors, have spirits mine and coin gold for you, summon demonic armies, manifest lavish banquets, and a thousand other miracles that—in our modern world—are more associated with fantasy and Hollywood than with legitimate spiritual pursuits. Here are some examples:
- These are descriptions of talismans from the Key of Solomon:
- “The seventh and last pentacle of the Sun: If any be by chance imprisoned or detained in fetters of iron, at the presence of this pentacle, which should be engraved in Gold on the day and hour of the Sun, he will be immediately delivered and set at liberty.”
- “The fifth and last pentacle of Mercury: This commandeth the spirits of Mercury, and serveth to open doors in whatever way they may be closed, and nothing it may encounter can resist it.”
- “The sixth and last pentacle of the Moon.: This is wonderfully good, and serveth excellently to excite and cause heavy rains, if it be engraved upon a plate of silver; and if it be placed under water, as long as it remaineth there, there will he rain. It should be engraved, drawn, or written in the day and hour of the Moon.” [Key of Solomon the King]
- Here are descriptions of some of the magick word-squares from the Book of Abramelin:
- The Ninth Chapter: To transform animals into men, and men into animals; etc: To transform men into asses; into stags or deer; into elephants; into wild boars; into dogs; into wolves; or animals into stones.
- The Fifteenth Chapter: For the spirits to bring us anything we may wish to eat or to drink, and even all (kinds of food) that we can imagine: For them to bring us bread, meat, wine of all kinds, fish, and cheese.
- The Seventeenth Chapter: To fly in the air and travel any whither: In a black cloud; in a white cloud; in the form of an eagle; in the form of a crow (or raven); in the form of a vulture; in the form of a crane.
- The Twenty-Ninth Chapter: To cause armed men to appear: To cause an army to appear; armed men for one’s defense; to cause a siege to appear.
- The Thirtieth Chapter: To cause comedies, operas, and every kind of music and dances to appear: To cause all kinds of music to be heard; music and extravagant balls; for all kinds of instruments to be played; for comedies, farces and operas. [Book of Abramelin: Book III]
- And here are some of the powers of the spirits listed in the Lemegeton’s Goetia:
- The 18th spirit is called Bathin, […] he knoweth the virtue of herbs and precious stones, and can transport men suddenly from one Country into an other…
- The 23rd spirit is called Aim, […] he rideth on a viper, carrying a fire brand in his hand burning, wherewith he sets cities, castles and great places on fire…
- The 28th spirit in order as salomon bound them, is named Berith. […] he can turn all metals into gold…
- The 38th spirit is called Halphas […]; his office is to build up towers and to furnish them with ammunition and weapons, and to send men of war to places appointed…
- The 40th spirit is called Raum, […] his office is to steal treasures out of kings’ houses, and to carry it where he is commanded, and to destroy cities…
- The 42d spirit is Named Vepar […], his office is to guide the waters, and ships laden with armour thereon. He will at the will of the Exorcist cause the seas to be rough and stormy, and to appear full of ships…
Many students have run headlong into these fantastical descriptions, and have questioned what they reveal about the legitimacy of the texts. We don’t tend to scoff at spells that promise to heal a sickness or protect one during travel, but things like levitation, transmutation of metals into gold, and on-demand miracles are usually the purview of con-artists who use occultism as stage-dressing for their scams. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that students have questions about these promises of occult super powers in the grimoires.
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/12/to-fly-in-the-clouds-to-walk-on-the-water-the-grimoires-and-magickal-super-powers/
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, September 22, 2014:
Part 2: Why Work with Demons?
In my last blog post, “Why Is Satan in the Grimoires?, I addressed the curious presence of Satan in the Solomonic grimoires. I asked why a group of devout Christians would even produce books that teach how to summon (rather than banish) demonic entities. We found that grimoire mages were simply exploring the underworld as shamans before them had done for thousands of years. That the entities who dwelt in that underworld (and in nature) were given names like “Satan” and “Belial” instead of names like “Hades” and “Pan,” and were declared universally evil by the Church, was really beside the point.
But, what about the modern world? We certainly do not have the same Church-controlled culture that existed when the grimoires were written. And, yet, an overwhelming number of today’s occultists seem to flock to the dark and demonic. And I’m not just talking about self-styled Satanists. Even perfectly non-dark-n-scary practitioners, for some reason, often choose to work with the darker entities of our tradition. As I questioned in my last post:
“Why in the world would anyone, knowing the Lovecraft mythos, actually desire to make contact with a destructive chaotic force like Cthulhu? Why do some people choose to focus their studies and practices on infernal demons, fallen angels, the Qliphothic realms, and even the dead? Frankly, there are plenty of very powerful spirits out there who actually like humans—or at least tolerate us for some reason—so why should you purposefully invoke the meanest, nastiest human-haters our mythologies have to offer?”
Most of you probably know me primarily as an angel-worker, which you might assume means I stay away from the demons in favor of celestial spirits. But you may be surprised to find I delve into goetia myself—as it is outlined in the final portion of the Book of Abramelin. As an initiate of that system, I not only have intimate contact with my Holy Guardian Angel, but I also have chthonic familiar spirits who stick with me wherever I go. So, the question remains: why would someone with easy access to an extremely powerful archangel have any need of such familiars at all?
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/9/part-2-why-work-with-demons/
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, September 15, 2014:
Part 1: Why is Satan in the Grimoires?
Recently, a member of my ‘Solomonic’ Facebook group posed the question (and I paraphrase): Why would anyone want to work with spiritual beings who have, according to their own mythos, fallen out of favor with God? Is this done in protest of the divine judgement against such spirits, or in ignorance of it?
That’s a fair question, and not far from similar questions I have asked about occultism in general. For instance, why in the world would anyone, knowing the Lovecraft mythos, actually desire to make contact with a destructive chaotic force like Cthulhu? Why do some people choose to focus their studies and practices on infernal demons, fallen angels, the Qliphothic realms and even the dead? Frankly, there are plenty of very powerful spirits out there who actually like humans—or at least tolerate us for some reason—so why should you purposefully invoke the meanest, nastiest human-haters our mythologies have to offer?
All of this plays perfectly into a question I’ve long pondered about the Solomonic grimoires themselves: Why the hell do they even include Satan or demons at all? The texts arose from Christian tradition; in many cases written by clergy, or at least by very devout educated Christians (who received their education from clergy). What would possess these people to include spells for summoning Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, Oriens, Paimon, Amaymon, Ariton, the 72 demons of the Goetia, etc, etc? Why should there exist a text called The Harrowing of Hell? Not only does this appear to run counter to the faith of the authors, but they were dong this in a time and place where they could be killed for far lesser religious infractions. Were these people secretly Satanists?
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/9/part-1-why-is-satan-in-the-grimoires/
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, August 19, 2014:
Does the Old Magick Reject Psychology?
For some time now, I’ve been writing about the “Old Magick”—such as that found in the African Traditional Religions, the Solomonic grimoires, and indigenous folk traditions. I have described the spirit model of magick—which views the gods, angels, and spirits as objective beings—and I have compared it unfavorably with the psychological model, which views these same entities as mental constructs that exist only within the mind.
Of course, if you’ve been following my work, you’re well aware of that. However, over the past weeks it has become apparent that my dismissal of the psychological model of magick might be misinterpreted as a repudiation of the entire subject of psychology. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
While I certainly do not view magick as merely an ancient form of psychology, it is important to remember that this does not rule out psychology in and of itself! The spirits may be real and objective, with their own personalities and agendas, but the human art that we call “magick” has a lot to do with the mind.
The right tools, the right rituals, and even a literal faith in the spirits’ objective reality isn’t quite enough. Your own psychology is vital. How the magick affects you, and how you (your mental state) affects it, is a huge chunk of the Mysteries.
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/8/does-the-old-magick-reject-psychology/
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, June 16, 2014:
Knocking on Wood:
Superstition and the Spirit Model of Magick
As many of my readers know, I am a practitioner of the Old Magick. That means I have abandoned the “psychological model” of magick (the belief that magick is strictly an art of the mind, and that spiritual entities are simply parts of our own psyches) in favor of the “spirit model” of magick (the belief that spiritual entities are very real and objective beings).
What that means is that my magick includes protocols for approaching the angels and spirits, methods of making offerings and caring for them, building relationships with them and convincing them (via mutual respect) to work with and for me here in the physical. It is, primarily, a form of shamanism—drawing techniques from ancient cultures and indigenous folks magicks. If you want some good examples of how I work (including photographs of the offering altars), check out these links:
Western Resistance to the Old Magick
Not every occultist wishes to toss aside the psychological model and adopt the old ways. Even now, I hear from those who are uncomfortable with concepts like establishing altars and making food offerings to spiritual beings. For them, the very idea of a spirit model just sounds silly and primitive. It depends on a worldview they feel was rightfully overthrown by science and reason. Above all, they seek to distance themselves from anything they understand as “superstition.”
That word—superstition—appears a lot in Western occult literature. Even Agrippa discusses it in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, so we know the argument has been going on since the Renaissance. Agrippa suggested that superstition can be helpful in magick, while other occultists of his time insisted superstition was the bane of magick and must be abandoned. What these people were actually talking about was indigenous folk magick—witchcraft, shamanism, etc. During their time, such practices were still illegal—punishable by arrest, forfeiture of assets, torture and/or execution. Therefore they had a vested interest in distancing themselves from the ancient pagan methods of magick—or “superstition.”
Because of this environment, the mysteries and philosophies of the Old Magick were lost in the West. The Renaissance gave way to the Age of Enlightenment (aka the Age of Reason) in the 17th century. Over the next several centuries, the study of psychology would rise to prominence in our culture, and most of our modern systems of occultism are based on the psychological model.
For occultists in such an environment, the protocols and actions that are vital to the Old Magick seem like barbarous nonsense.
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/6/knocking-on-wood-superstition-and-the-spirit-model-of-magick/
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, May 19, 2014:
Ayn Rand and the Occult:
The Importance of Objectivism in Magick
Some of you may recognize Objectivism as the philosophy developed by author Ayn Rand in such books as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And if you know anything about Ms. Rand and her writings, you also know Objectivism is pretty much the exact opposite of any spiritual or occult philosophy. Let me give you a short quote from the Wikipedia entry as an illustration:
“Objectivism’s central tenets are that reality exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive logic…”
Really, it just gets worse from there. (We’ll talk about Rand’s sad position on human morality shortly.) However, the above is enough for any occultist to shake their head and look elsewhere for wisdom. It posits that consciousness has nothing to do with reality, and that we can always trust our senses to tell us the truth about the world around us. As occultists, we know better, don’t we?
And what about the Objectivist stance on morality? Well, Ms. Rand was born in Russia during a particularly difficult period of their history (this was during the fall of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Bolsheviks), and she doubtlessly suffered some deep traumas during her childhood. As an adult, she preached a philosophy of pure self-interest. The poor should be allowed to starve and die. The rich should be supported and given rule over the rest of us. Get what is yours while the getting is good, and give nothing to the weak. Here is another snippet from the Wikipedia article:
“…the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness (rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism…”
A few of you may recognize this as foundational to such worldviews as American political conservatism as well as Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. (The latter, by the way, are strict atheists.) Certainly this is the kind of philosophy that should be avoided by anyone with a spiritual worldview! Or anyone with an ounce of compassion or charity in their heart. Obviously I have some rants against Objectivism and Ayn Rand (who, by the way, lived out her elder years on the public assistance she would deny to others).
So, why is it that I constantly find myself identifying with fictional characters who embody the Objectivist philosophy?
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/5/ayn-rand-and-the-occult-the-importance-of-objectivism-in-magick/
As I’ve mentioned before, you have probably noticed my blog has been fairly quiet for some months now. Of course I still make event announcements here, but my usual thoughts and theories about magick and culture have been largely absent. The reason is because I’ve been writing blogs for Llewellyn lately. Back when Don Kraig got sick, they asked if I (along with a number of other accomplished magicians) would submit a few guest posts to keep Kraig’s Magick Blog up and running. Of course, once Don passed away, several of us just kept submitting blog posts – and the Magick Blog continues to this day.
Of course, I’m sure most of you already know all of this, and have likely read my posts over at Llewellyn. However, I’m also sure some number of you are subscribed here and not over there – which means you’ve been missing out unfairly. From the start, I should have cross-posted all of my Llewellyn blogs here – at least an excerpt with a link to the full post over on their site. And, that is what I will do from here on out.
But first, I will make up for my past oversights by cross-posting my older Llewellyn blogs here. If you keep up with me over there, then the next several posts will be repeats for you. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy the material you’ve been missing for the past year! ;)
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, March 24, 2014:
The Definition of Magick in the 21st Century
Wait! Don’t surf away yet! I know this subject—the definition of magick—has been rehashed a billion times over the years. It has been the focus of heated debates and even flame wars—and never (not once!) has a consensus been reached.
Frankly, this debate has been going on for longer than you think. It was a question during the occult revival of the 19th century. It is even tackled by the authors of the medieval grimoires. Why, I would bet real money that Egyptian and Sumerian priests used to sit around in their temples and argue the same damn points.
But that is really the point of this blog. I’m not naive enough to think we’re going to reach a consensus here. However, I do think we can add something to the conversation—especially now that we have entered the 21st century, and our relationship to magick is changing drastically. As that relationship changes, so too does our understanding of magick and what it means in our culture.
In previous years, the debate was caught up in the occultism of the late 1800s. The Age of Enlightenment had dawned, the Industrial Revolution had… revolved?… and the discipline of Science (that is, as divorced from all mystical concerns) had risen to supremacy. Psychology was a new and developing study. And absolutely anything that struck the Western mind as “occult ooga-booga” (read: pretty much any form of indigenous folk magick, voodoo, hoodoo, etc.) was firmly shown the door.
Thus, the people who were raised in that environment sought an explanation for magick that fit into their paradigm. Hence was born the “psychological” definition of magick: it’s all just a form of primitive psychology. Magick is all in your head. The spirits and gods are mere “names and faces” that we have placed on our own instincts and mental complexes. Magickal tools and considerations are just “props” that help your mind engage the magick. Chaos magick arose in this environment, and it also gave us Aleister Crowley‘s often-quoted definition:
“Magick is the science and art of causing change in conformity with Will.”
Taken at face value, I find this definition to be pointless. If any change I make (on purpose) to the world around me is “magick,” then “magick” ceases to be a useful word. If I walk outside, am I performing magick because I opened a door and changed my location? Of course not! Yet, the way many students interpret the above definition, magick ceases to be a specific discipline or craft. Electricians are performing magick. Carpenters are performing magick. The ice cream man is performing magick (and he even brings smiles to the faces of children)!
Of course, Crowley added in that word “Will,” which means there is a lot more to his definition than most students realize. He means making changes in accordance with your True Will (your Fate or Karma), and his definition is saying that any action you take toward fulfilling your True Will is a magickal act. That’s better… but it still negates “magick” as a discipline unto itself. I’ve used a lot of magick in pursuit of my True Will, but I’ve also had to do a lot of mundane stuff, too.
Today, we are leaving behind the 19th century views on magick. While the psychological definition still has its adherents—some of them quite passionate in defense of their position—there is now a counter-movement of Old Magick practitioners who find that view unsatisfying. As the world we grew up in continues to break down, economies continue to collapse, medicine and other necessities become unavailable, and ill-defined wars continue to rage across the globe, people aren’t looking for “self help occultism” the way they were twenty years ago. They want the real deal: magick that can make real change in the real world. They want magick that can keep food in their families’ bellies, a roof over their heads, and everyone alive and healthy.
I fall into that category. We’re the guys who see spirits, gods, and angels as objectively real. We find the magickal tools and considerations to be important to the technology, not just a bunch of props that can be substituted or dispensed with entirely. And because of these, we see the magickal ceremonies as vital protocols when dealing with spirits, not outdated superstitions that should be simplified, reinterpreted, or left behind. And as for those indigenous forms of magick and witchcraft, rather than turning our noses up and thinking we are somehow better than all of that, we’re actually turning toward them and learning as much as we can.
So, how does this new movement define magick? Good question, and that’s why we are having this discussion now.
To get the ball rolling, I’ll share with you the definition by which I work. In fact, it is an older definition that existed for thousands of years before the modern world. The Solomonic grimoires (a specialty of mine) were written under this definition, and I think it is time we all took a fresh look at it.
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2014/3/the-definition-of-magick-in-the-21st-century/