From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, June 6, 2016:
The ritual use of offerings, especially in (but not limited to) the form of food items, is one of those “lost secrets of Western magick” you’ve likely heard me talk about before. A lot. It is an art I learned very slowly, over many years, but it was more than worth the effort. Knowing what to offer, what not to offer, when to offer, how to offer, and how all of these things will influence the spiritual being I am working with has been a “game changer” in my practice—as well as the practices of many others who have explored this method of magick.
In my writings on the subject, I have tended toward describing ritual offerings as a form of payment to the spirit. It not only shows fairness toward the entity, but also provides it with the energy necessary to accomplish your goal. I’ve compared it many times to hiring a contractor—you must negotiate a deal and make the payment, or else why would the contractor do any work for you? Even if you pay the spirit after the work is done—a common practice is to make a small offering before, with the promise of a larger payment afterward—it still acts as an energy exchange that gives the spirit what it needs to make changes in the physical world.
But, of course, not everything is so simple. A member of my Solomonic Group on Facebook recently pointed out an anomaly in the spirit-conjuring grimoire called the Goetia. Apparently, the mighty president Malphas should not be given “sacrifice,” as he will accept it “kindly and willingly, but will deceive him that does it.” This strikes me as counter-intuitive on the surface: is it saying that Malphas is willing to work for free, and will react negatively if you do try to pay him??
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2016/06/when-not-to-make-offerings/
From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, June 22, 2015:
In the upcoming issue of Hermetic Tablet (Summer 2015), Jake Stratton-Kent has published an essay entitled, “The Other Magicians and the Goetia,” (adapted from an Internet post simply called, “The Other Magicians”), and I am about to spoil the hell out of it. It’s not that I want to steal Jake’s thunder, but I think this is a topic that needs discussion, and I’m not against shining my own spotlight upon it—especially since the subject matter has become rather important to my own path. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so let me begin with a bit of explanation.
When modern students look at the most popular texts of classical Western occultism—such as the Key of Solomon, Lemegeton, The Book of Abramelin, Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, etc,—we often come away with the impression that they represent how magick was done at the time. However, we can easily forget a rather simple fact: the medieval/Renaissance European grimoires only reflect how one specific group of occultists did their work.
I talk about this at length in Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, where I discuss the origin of the Solomonic tradition among a class of clerical exorcists. Without a doubt, the methods of spirit conjuration outlined in the Solomonic texts reflect this origin: the view of all chthonic and nature spirits as “evil,” the imperious and arrogant manner in which the spirits are addressed, and the harsh methods used to force the spirits’ compliance—all of this arises from a culture of people who spent their days casting out truly demonic entities of sickness and ill-fortune from their clients.
Yet, the grimoires themselves have given us clues that this was not the only method of working with spirits—perhaps not even the predominant one.
Read the Rest at: http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2015/06/who-are-the-other-magicians/
Greetings Faithful Followers!
The time is drawing near for the Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain Festival! And I have once again been offered the honor of attending as a “headliner.” That means I’ll be hosting three lectures/workshops over the course of the festival – in between sessions of drumming and generally cavorting like a heathen. 🙂
My last experience at the FPG turned out to be a deeply moving spiritual experience that took me back to my Neopagan roots – besides being one helluva lot of fun. My fellow headliners were some of the top names in their various fields and practices, and I made more than one new lifelong friend while I was there. I expect this trip to be no different.
So I am inviting each and every one of you to come and join me for this awesome event! You can attend my workshops, ask me questions and then we can hang out in the various campsites and around the bonfire late into the night. I dare say we will not be disappointed by the experience!
Here is the info on the Festival:
Samhain 2012 – Out of the Darkness
Oct 31- Nov 4, Camp Ocala, Altoona, Florida
Welcome to the Forest! Set up camp, commune with nature, relax, visit the vendors, attend workshops, and evening events.
This is a full-fledged festival – with an entry fee – so make sure you contact them to register today! Then get your camping gear together and enjoy a few days out in nature away from the modern world. Or, just come by for a day of lectures, food, shopping and fun!
Here is the info on the workshops I will be hosting. Right now I don’t know exactly when these workshops will take place, but I’ll update this post as soon as I find out:
Working with Spirits and Ancestors
Working with lesser spirits (jinn, demons, familiars, etc) and the spirits of our ancestors are two of the most ancient forms of witchcraft. (Properly called “goetia” – but not to be confused with the medieval grimoire of the same name!) However, the practice fell into disrepute after the rise of the urban “city-state” in the Classical era – and was outlawed entirely after the rise of mainstream Christianity. This resulted in a cultural break in our mystical Western heritage that has remained with us to this very day. Even in Wicca and other Neopagan traditions, spirit-work is often frowned upon, and ancestors are merely recognized at specific times of the year.
However, that doesn’t mean the practice was lost to history! Folk magickal traditions around the world have preserved these mysteries, and an ever-growing number of today’s Pagans and occultists are reviving these ancient and often misunderstood practices in our modern systems.
This workshop will focus upon *what* spirit- and ancestor-work really is, and *how* to go about doing it yourself to empower your spells and your spiritual path. We will cover the benefits and the dangers, how to erect altars, build spirit pots, invoke the spirits, make offerings and more.
This will be an open discussion workshop, so bring your own ideas and opinions and be ready to share them with us!
One of the foundational practices of the most ancient forms of magick was the Ritual Offering. While this included the sacrifice of animals (and in some cases humans!) that certainly isn’t the whole story. Offerings were made in many fashions – from food to toys to tools and weapons, to incense and fire and much more. Such offerings were made to feed and empower the spirits and, in many cases, to provide the spirits with necessary tools to accomplish the magickal goals of the shamans who provided them.
Sadly, the art of the Ritual Offering was all but lost in the West after the rise of Judeo-Christiainity. Sacrifice and offerings were declared a form of devil-worship, and misrepresented as a method of “appeasing” angry and vengeful spirits who would otherwise harm the humans who invoked them. Even today’s modern occultists often hold to this erroneous idea.
This workshop will bust the myths about Ritual Offering, and explain its true meaning of magickal empowerment. We will cover how to properly make offerings to various classes of spirits and gods, along with the “do-nots” and “why?” behind the practice.
This will be an open discussion workshop, so bring your own ideas and opinions and be ready to share them with us!
Making and Enlivening Talismans
Quite often, when a modern occultist says the word “talisman”, he or she is talking about a piece of paper with symbols drawn upon it. But the art of Talismanic Magick is much broader than that! And the power of a talisman goes far beyond the inscription of the right names, properly colored inks and the recitation of the right prayers.
In the Old Magick, talismans were living beings in their own right. They were physical houses for spiritual entities who actively participated in the rituals with the magician. And they weren’t just jewelery or inscribed disks or scrolls – they were also the magickal tools, the robes and regalia, the furnishings of the temple and more. A true magician’s sacred working space is a thriving environment of spirits, angels and even gods who each play a vital role in the magick worked therein.
Likewise, magickal tools and furnishings are not merely “props” or objects we find convenient to use. Each and every physical object utilized by the magician is a living symbol of something greater – either a reflection of something in the outer universe that the magician wishes to “draw down” into his or her temple, or an embodiment of something deeply personal and powerful to the magician – or both.
In this workshop, we will discuss these aspects of talismanic magick. Plus, we will cover how to find and/or create your own talismans and “bring them to life” to work for you.
This will be an open discussion workshop, so bring your own ideas and opinions and be ready to share them with us!
I hope to see you there!
Greetings Occult Navigators!
Ok, so there seems to be a bit of a stir going on over a recent post made on the Strategic Sorcery Blog, where Jason Miller lists five trends in modern occultism that he thinks need to be overcome or otherwise laid to rest. Rufus Opus had a few thoughts about it on the Head For the Red Blog. And even Morgan Eckstein links to it and adds a sixth trend that he wants to see die a painful death.
Because this list of five “gravity wells” happens to touch on a couple of subjects near and dear to me, I felt I should weigh in with my own thoughts. So, let’s begin by taking a look at the five issues:
1) The Holy Guardian Angel as a magickal prerequisite.
2) The Goetia as the be-all and end-all of goetia.
3) Wicca bashing.
4) Quantum Physics as “proof” of magick.
5) System Hubris – or “my system can beat up your system.”
I’ll just run down this list one by one:
1) The HGA: Jason’s problem here is not with the concept of the HGA. It is with a trend he is seeing that seems to make gaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel some kind of requirement for the practice of magick.
Frater RO takes it in a different direction. He doesn’t see a trend that requires one to make contact with the HGA so much as a trend toward over-blowing the entire concept of the HGA itself.
To be honest, I have to agree with RO on this one. I don’t really believe that anyone out there who uses magick without the HGA feels that they are getting no results because of it. What I do see is people treating the Abramelin Operation as some kind of ultimate initiation into Adepthood – something that can only be attempted by the most advanced and powerful mages, and which will result (if you survive) in the elevation of the individual to a godlike and ascended status.
That is complete bullshit, folks. If you read the Book of Abramelin itself, you will see that it was written by Abraham the Jew for his son Lamech as an introduction to the practice of magick! That’s right, it is intended for beginners. And, Abraham states very clearly in the text that achieving it will not make you an adept. It is only by working diligently with the HGA over a long period of time that one will eventually achieve adpethood in the practice.
Yet, for all of that, I was recently attacked on my own Solomonic forum at Yahoo because I stated that I commune with my Holy Guardian Angel (nearly) every Sunday morning. My telling the young lass all of the above didn’t change her tune. My quoting the Book of Abramelin where Abraham gives the instructions for communing with your Angel every Sabbath didn’t even change her opinion. She, sadly, was among the many who view Abramelin as a one-off summoning ceremony. She angrily insisted that contacting the HGA takes six months (or a year and a half) and thus there was no way I could be doing it every Sunday morning. Besides, if I had contact with my HGA as I claim, then certainly I wouldn’t be tooling around down here with the unascended plebes.
So, yeah, Frater RO is right when he sees the concept of the HGA being overblown. The HGA is not your Higher Self. Contacting it does not mean you have attained the Ultimate Magickal Goal and can therefore leave the Earth-plain behind in your own chariot of fire. And, I should add, merely making contact with the HGA is not the same as gaining “knowledge” of that Angel.
As for Jason’s gripe against viewing the HGA as a magickal prerequisite – I have to admit I am a bit on the fence. First – hell no, it is not a prerequisite for magick in the larger picture. However, I do feel that Western magick has long ignored the concept of gaining a Head Spirit to be your primary go-to entity for your magickal practice. (Much as I think we have ignored ancestor work, magickal offerings and other very ancient aspects of magickal practice for too long.) I believe we all need to consider these concepts very carefully, and I fully support the trends that are developing to bring them back into our “occulture.” Where the Santerians have their Saints/Orishas, and various grimoires have their Gatekeeper spirits and even the PMG have their Agathodaemon, I feel that Abramelin provides us with a solid method of establishing one’s Head Spirit rooted firmly in our Western heritage.
But, Jason is right when he says that you shouldn’t think gaining “K&C of the HGA” is the one and only way you’ll ever find success in your magick. It is ONE way, but not the only way. Even Abraham said there were only five or six people in the world who have attained the goal. I would say there are a few more today – but, still, consider that for every ten people you meet who say they’ve done it, one – maybe two – have actually done so.
2) The Goetia: Jason is right, the Goetia (the book) is fairly overblown today. But, I don’t think I have such a problem with that as Jason does. He’s sick of hearing about it, and I can dig that. But it’s a popular book.
Meanwhile, I have to point out that “the Goetia” is not the be-all and end-all of the practice called “goetia.” Goetia is a vast subject matter. It is not about the summoning of a list of 72 demons from hell. It is, in fact, a broad system of magick by which one works with chthonic entities. (That means Underworld entities – some infernal, some not, some lesser spirits and not a few of them Gods.) If you work with Demeter and Persephone, or with Angels such as Cassiel, or with Osiris, or use the Orphic Hymns or the Psalmic “lamentations” – you’re working goetia. Likewise, if you work with Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub and Belial – you are also working goeita even if you’re not using the book called The Goetia.
If any of the above shocks you in the least, then you need to run out and find yourself a copy of Jake Kent’s Geosophia and his The True Grimoire. You will come away with a better understanding of the subject of goetia, and with a better understanding of the magick you are already using. ‘Nuff said.
3) Wicca Bashing: Ok so Wicca has had its problems. During the latter half of the 20th Century it was a bit co-opted by the Self-Help movement. I once had a seeker (back in the 90s) write to me and say that the Wiccan ceremonies he had attended felt more like a support group meeting than an actual magickal ritual. And, I fear I had to agree with him.
Plus, Wicca was also co-opted by the mass media. From Llewellyn’s endless publication of fluff material, to Buffy and Charmed, to movies like Practical Magic (Sandra Bullock – yummy!) and The Craft, Wicca did seem to have had its soul sucked out by modern commercialism.
However, I can’t entirely knock the fact that Wicca went mainstream. When I first started on my path, I was a Wiccan. And even then (early 90s) it was still dangerous to be a witch. You could lose your job, your home and even your children. You could be physically attacked. But after the movement’s heyday in the last decade of the 20th Century – that is after Buffy, after The Craft, after Harry Potter – being a witch finally became “ok.” Maybe you were weird, but you were no longer “a dangerous cultist who doubtlessly abused children and small animals.” This applied not only to Wiccans, but to witches of various types. That was a Good Thing.
But we were still left with the overall impression that Wicca was for fluffy-bunnies, self-help New Agers and overweight teenage girls looking to shock their parents. (I have no clue why “overweight” got tossed in there – have you seen some of the skinny girls running around half-naked at Pagan festivals?? But I digress…)
For my part, I have always felt that this was an unfair characterization of Wicca. Just take the time to read through the Farrars’ Witches Bible, and you will find a deep and fully-formed Tradition of spirituality. Read through Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and you will discover that Wicca and Neopagansim – as a movement – has a fascinating and diverse history. And, personally, I think you should also read Future Shock and The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler while you’re at it. He doesn’t mention Wicca or Neopaganism, but he describes fundamental changes taking place in our culture for which Neopagansim is quite well suited. (Look for the term “demassification” and think about how it applies to religion, and how Neopaganism fits the bill as a demassified religion.)
For my part, I once wrote an essay called The Neogan Altar – Shamanic Paradigm – wherein I presented the standard Neopagan usage of the Altar from the standpoint of ancient shamanism. My goal was to point out that Wicca, in many ways, fit the bill as a form of modern shamanism – having arisen quite naturally in our modern Western culture. I had intended to follow this essay with other “Shamanic Paradigm” essays illustrating further aspects of Wicca and Neopaganism in this light. Alas, my writing career took me in other directions – but perhaps I will someday return to the subject and complete the series.
All in all, I am quite proud to have begun my magickal career as a Wiccan – no matter how far I have since delved into the grimoires and the Golden Dawn. So, yeah, I agree the Wiccan bashing has run its course and – in many ways – is entirely based on ignorance. (See #5 in this list.)
4) Quantum Physics: I agree with Jason and Frater RO. For a very long time people have been conflating magick with the theories of Quantum Physics. Not only are they not saying the same things at all, but those who make the connection most often do not understand the first thing about QP. It is simply that when QP is dumbed down for presentation to us non-physicists, it can sound an awful lot like magick. I refer you to the famous Arthur C. Clark quote about advanced science often appearing like magick…
Yet, I will also play a bit of devil’s advocate here. While I do not feel QP and magick are one and the same, nor do I feel that QP helps explain or prove anything about magick, I still find the subject matter a worthwhile one for practitioners of magick. Much in the same way I feel that psychology and NLP are useful studies for magiciains. It is not that they are the same thing at all, but I feel that the modern scientific studies can inform our views of magick. (Plus, I tend to see science as a kind of magick or mysticism in its own right.)
Understanding that everything in the universe is formed from different vibrations of energy is useful when you’re contemplating magick. Understanding that there are various dimensions – only one of which we can easily perceive with our five senses – is useful, too. Understanding Chaos Theory (systems, feedback and iteration) is very very useful in the study of magick. Even String Theory, Schrodinger’s Cat and the postulation of parallel universes – all of these examples and many more are good things to think about when you’re studying magick.
It remains true, though, that you should consider them as separate studies than the art and science of magick. They are not “the same thing” at all.
5) System Hubris: I don’t have too much to say on this one. It seems to be something humans have always done, and will always do. In the classical era, the city-dwelling Theurgists swore their magick was “better” than what the Goen practiced in the rural areas. The Christians, Jews and Muslims swore (and still swear) their religions are “better” than the Pagan ones. Ceremonial magicians swear their systems are “better” than Wicca and Neopaganism. Solomonic magicians swear their chosen grimories are “better” than the grimoires used by other Solomonic magicians. The list could just go on and on and on ad nauseum.
And it is all part of the same chain of childish bullshit. The phrase “There is nothing new under the Sun” was written a few thousand years ago – and it is as true today as it was back then. Your system isn’t any better than all the rest – it just happens to be better for YOU. What you found works best for you is what we refer to as a Calling.
If the African Orishas called you, then Santeria is going to work better for you than anything else. If the Angels and spirits of the grimoires called you, then Solomonic magick is going to kick ass over all the rest. If the Angels of the Tree of Life called you, then the Qabalah is your thing. If the Lord and Lady called you, then I guess you’re stuck with Wicca. Every magician, every witch, every shaman, every man or woman of God/Gods/Goddess/etc. of any brand whatsoever was called to their post by their own spiritual guides and guardians.
This is simply something over which you do not have free will. You’re either called, or you’re not. If you’re not called to a path, then that path isn’t going to lead you anywhere. If you are called to a path, then you’re either going to go that way (even if it’s kicking and screaming) or you might as well lay down your wand and give up your quest.
Sure, you can be called by more than one system. I was called to Wicca. (One of my earliest spiritual experiences was of the Goddess walking beside me in a dream, whispering in my ear, “Blessed are thy feet that have brought thee in the way. Blessed are thy knees that shall kneel at the sacred altar. Blessed…” well you get the idea.) Then I was called to the Qabalah and Golden Dawn work. Then the Grimoires called out to me. Even the Gods of Santeria and Voodoo called out to me – not to come join them, but that they had something they wanted to teach me. But, regardless of when or how I was called, I was called to each and every path I’ve walked. And so have you been.