Wednesday, March 19, 2014

R.I.P. - Donald Michael Kraig

Many in Occultdom found out yesterday that Donald Michael Kraig has died of pancreatic cancer. Honestly, we've been losing too many teachers, in my humble opinion, given the recent death of Eddy Gutierrez.

In a recent post where I listed the most influential books on my path, there were several I left out. Kraig's book 'Modern Magick' was one of them. While I don't practice much of what is in that book anymore, it proved incredibly helpful when I finally quit practicing Wicca. It gave me a new framework to go off of, and a structured set of lessons to help orient me.

In fact, I practiced the brand of ceremonial magic in that book for a good couple years, and there was a good amount of benefit I gained from it. It was one of a few books that really illustrated the need for a daily/regular magical practice.

There are things in 'Modern Magick' that I disagree with and don't like, but a person could do far worse with other books out there.

So, I give thanks to Mr. Kraig for his work. May he rest peacefully, and may he continue in death the good work he did in life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Update 03/18/2014

Hello again, dear readers!

This is just another update on my practices and what I've been up to. So without further ado...

OVERALL PRACTICE
Not a lot has changed here, although there are two areas which I have been a bit more active in.

First, thanks to Jack Faust, I am changing the way I do my sigils. The first few have been much more satisfactory, visually and magically.

Second is thralls. I made another one recently, it worked well, and I'd like to make more.

Finally, I've taken up working through Hands-On Chaos Magic again. For a while I got stuck on the breathing exercises, but I recently trooped through to work on more stuff.

REGULAR PRACTICES
My routine stuff has been unchanged. I still do purification, energy work, offerings, and meditation.

Meanwhile, Polyphanes published a nifty little post about setting a daily spiritual practice that covers a lot. Go check it out!

STUDIES
I'm still reading through some more philosophical things, but have finally got on to Tsultrim Allione's book "Feeding Your Demons". It's a fascinating concept which, along with my current personal work, I hope will give some great results.

SPIRIT WORK
I still don't have much going on in the way of spirit work, apart from thralls.

MISCELLANEOUS
One thing I've finally delved into a bit more is binaural beats. I don't know of any scientific studies to prove or disprove their efficacy, but so far there seems to be something there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Staying Updated

Dear readers, it's been a while and, frankly, I've really missed blogging here in my little nook of the occult Blog-o-Sphere!

Honestly, I haven't had anything I've been prepared to write about. I've mostly been working my regular practices, developing relationships with certain spiritual powers, and determining areas of life that could use some tactical sorcery and action. A lot of it is stuff I've written about before.

But, still, I miss my blog! So, I've taken a page out of Mr. Black's book, and will try to keep a weekly update that covers different angles of my magical practices and any projects I have going on therein.

So without further ado, here is a current synopsis for this week.

OVERALL PRACTICE
A while back I decided that my magical practices, overall, were a bit more focused on straight-out Hoodoo for the practical magic than I'd like. I decided that I want to expand beyond this into territory I've studied before, gain more flexibility in my practices. So I've been revisiting practices from chaos magic, and certain postmodern styles of magic.

Additionally, as a student of Strategic Sorcery, I was given the opportunity a year or so ago to sign up for Jason's next course up from that, Strategic Self. He recently rebooted it, and it is MUCH better than before (even though it wasn't bad even then, it just fizzled). Some of the concepts in there so far, especially regarding offerings and ancestor work, have been outright fascinating.

REGULAR PRACTICES
As far as my regular, routine work, that hasn't changed much. It tends to go something like this:


  1. Purification: In addition to what I mention below with the energy work, I tend to do some other purification work on a regular basis, such as the 9 Breaths Purification from TSS, or smudging, anointing with some kind of water or oil.
  2. Energy Work: A) Unviersal Centering, Pillar & Spheres from TSS; B) Inner/Energetic purification and strengthening work by running appropriate energies through my channels or through certain purificatory meditations.
  3. Offerings: One of the most beneficial practices taught to me by Jason, I offer either energy alone or with some physical support to 3 or 4 categories of spirits to keep a relationship going with the invisible denizens of the world around us. No matter what I offer, I increase by willing it to multiply and take on the forms most desired.
  4. Meditation: While my spiritual guests feast, I meditate. Minimum of 15 minutes, and I either rest my attention on my breath or I use a mantra.


STUDIES
Us magical types, with our books! I've been concentrating on studying things that help encourage more skillful living and becoming a skillful person in general. Lately there has been a good amount of modern philosophy, but also some more ancient stuff. For example, I've been reading the 48 Laws of Power, and the Book of Five Rings. But in addition to that have been more esoteric things like Pema Chodron's “When Things Fall Apart”, Tsultrim Allione's “Feeding Your Demons”, and the new translation of Agrippa's first book of the Occult Philosophy. And let me say, the new translation of Agrippa FUCKING ROCKS!!! Clarity, clarity, clarity! If you haven't gotten it yet, get it!

SPIRIT WORK
Aside from my regular offerings, I haven't actually done much work with spirits lately, compared to past activities. Back in Septemeber, yours truly was accepted into the Gentlement for Jupiter, and so I've had my work for that group at least once per month. I was doing that once a week, Jove's influence became too much, and so I scaled it back.

In addition, I've had my newfound work with Hekate! I'll detail more coming up, but suffice to say, I've been delving a bit more into Her sorcery.

Aside from all that, I've been itching to create thralls!

MISCELLANEOUS
Lastly, I've been finding myself in a funk when it comes to determining areas of life in which to apply sorcery, and I've been confronted by my own weaknesses again. So I'm trying to get the creative juices flowing, and the fires of passionate action stoked. It's a work in progress, as always, but I'm getting there again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

THAT is your best advice???

Blech. I'm not a fan of it when the best advice someone can give on learning a particular type of folk magic is "Find a teacher". Nice.

Specific magico-cultural religions aside, that kind of advice falls short if you live in a geographic area where the local magical, occult, and/or pagan communities have little to offer in that regard, and you can't afford air fare to other parts of the country (including vehicle transportation and lodging) on a regular basis. And local magical shops can fall short too if they only carry the cheapo mass-market tripe (Witch School, Ravenwolf books, etc). Don't even get me started on stores like Barnes & Noble.

And yes, I do speak from experience. Thank the Gods for the internet!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mini-Rant: "Energy"

You know, it would be nice if I could go more than a month or two without hearing or reading someone talking about "negative people" and their fucking "energy" "attacking" or "slapping", "hitting", "stabbing" others or whatnot.

Some people really need to grow some damn balls for a change and realize that, most often, the "energy" they are supposedly feeling is their own reaction to the behavior of others, NOT to some energy the other person is "smacking" them around with. Man up (or, for the ladies, put your Big Girl Panties on) and accept that sometimes other people put you off, instead of redirecting the blame to them and their "energy". It's unfair and lacks courage to make that kind of accusation against others, because they can't prove or disprove your claim that they're "hitting" you with their "energy".

Sometimes I think that, collectively, modern eclectic magical paths need a bit more maturity and less informing from the New Age movement.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Meme...Or, Revealing My Fluffy Roots

There is a meme going around where people are listing their Top 10 Occult Books From Way Back. Basically, you list the books most influential to you, especially when you were starting out. In my case, I’m also going to include a few that were highly influential in the reformation of my magical practice years ago. So without further ado:

1.) “The Necronomicon” by Simon - This is an odd one, because I never got a copy of it until about four or five years ago. What happened was that I went looking for it, found it...but also found #2, couldn’t get both, and decided for some reason to get #2 instead. But if it hadn’t been for my Lovecraft fandom at the time causing me to search for this one, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten into magic.

2.) “Basic Magick” by Phillip Cooper - This was my de facto literary initiation into the practices of magic. The book basically teaches astral temple, sigil, and servitor work, including some secularized Golden Dawn techniques (a version of the Middle Pillar), and cosmo-self-centric/agnostic/psychological belief. It never took off that great for me, but it was my first.

3.) “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham - Yeah, yeah, I know. But, a lot of us started this way. Aside from being one of the first I read, I always liked Cunningham’s philosophy that magic was something that the Magician/Witch themselves do, instead of placing all the focus on spirits.

4.) “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” & “To Stir a Magick Cauldron” by Silver Ravenwolf - *Sigh* Again, I know. What I’m saying is that I used to be a classic fluffy bunny, alright?

Don’t look at me like that...I got better.

But anyway, for years Silver Ravenwolf’s methods were very influential in my practices. While I came to drop her philosophies, I found some of her actual practical magical techniques of value (for example, there was a power-raising technique she taught involving cauldron imagery that I got some excellent results from using). And I’m only counting those two as one, because of reasons. :P

5.) “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” by Raymond Buckland - Ah, Uncle Buck! Not bad for its time and such. I got some value out of this, and actually don’t regret it.

6.) “Making Magick” by Edain McCoy - Another from my Fluffy Files. McCoy taught some basic magical techniques that I based stuff off of for a while, and was my first big intro to divining before working magic. I came to hate it, though, honestly. It sucks, the techniques are confusing, and I didn’t get results from it. Additionally, I would spend HOURS tweaking my spells on the insistence of getting a reading to come up positive for the spell itself. This was the beginning of my current approach of Divination Moderation.

7.) “Summoning Spirits” by Konstantinos - Ok, I know what you’re thinking, and yes I did hit every Llewellyn/Fluffy branch on the way down. So sue me! :P Like I said, I got better. But this book is where I had my first success at summoning a spirit. I conjured the spirit Mepsitahl from it, and she taught me a technique for enhancing spirit vision.

So that covers my first 5 years. At this point I’m going to go into books that helped re-form my spirituality and my magical practices.

8.) “Evolutionary Witchcraft” by T. Thorn Coyle - Even after I gave away all my books on Wicca and Witchcraft, I kept this one, and for good reason. From a spirituality perspective, this one helped re-school me on several things. It brought me to a holistic view of the self, the world, and spirituality in general. Not in a hippy kind of way, but a realistic, grounded way. Magically, it gave me a taste of something outside of the fluffy-dom I had mired myself in. I still highly respect the Feri Tradition.

9.) “Postmodern Magic” by Patrick Dunn - This one was a real game-changer for me. It opened my eyes wide to a world beyond JUST spirits and energy, and into Informational Sorcery, and I still go back and read it now and then.

10.) “The Sorcerer’s Secrets” by Jason Miller - Because OF COURSE I’m going to list this one here! Its an eye-opening look at techniques that fall a little outside of the Western Magical Tradition by doing the same things but with different, simpler techniques. Of the most value is the look at working with magic and mundane circumstance in tandem and weaving the two together into success. Also of value is the illustrative way Jason shows you how you can break down your practice into its parts and get the most out of it. Also? Learning to do offerings in the way he teaches is one of my most-recommended practices. This book is gold.

I wish I could say I carry no shame about any of these, but that’s not the case. Frankly, with items #4 and #6...I wish I had never found them. Ravenwolf’s books teach a shitty, entitled attitude and philosophy that far outweighs the techniques, and McCoy’s book just teaches this ineffective, confused, and frustrating approach to practical magic.

It would have been nice to have some more of the classics, even the absurd ones, given by such folks as Jason, Skyllaros, or Brother Moloch on Facebook. But that’s one of the beauties of modern day! We have access to so many of these, and fewer people are restricted to whatever tripe the local mass-consumer bookstore carries (as I was). Man, if only Amazon had been as awesome in 1999 as they are now...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Hallows of Hekate

In conjunction with All Hallows and the start of Strategic Sorcery cycle 15, Inominandum released a Hekate-based ritual for his students to perform on October 31st, November 1st, or on November 2nd. Given that I recently created a new shrine/altar for Hekate-based sorcery in my home, this seemed like a perfect first ritual to perform at it!

I started it around midnight, November 1st/2nd and finished at about 1:30am. Most of that consisted of chanting a particular Hekatean mantra revealed by Inominandum in his writings, and I found it very powerful. The myrrh incense I burned during the ritual as part of the offerings to Her helped bridge the already thin gulf between here and the Other sides. Sweat poured out of me as I chanted the mantra 1000+ times, the syllables sometimes slipping into momentary glossolalia. Combined with the incense and my fatigue from insufficient sleep the previous night, a heavy gnosis eventually came over me until I was exhausted.

I even had a brief vision of Her during this time, towering over me and holding Her twin torches. There were no words exchanged, just existence and Hekatean inspiration opening within me, with the mantra filling the Sphere of Hekas I had cast as an addition to the ritual, also filling my head till I thought it would burst through my burning eyes.

My thanks to Inominandum for sharing this powerful arcana.

Io Hekate!

Hail, mighty Titaness!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Traveller's Companion

Prior to my trip to Crucible, I wanted to get all my ducks in a row to prepare for what turned out to be a very long and arduous drive from my home in Indianapolis, Indiana to Somerset, New Jersey.

To complicate matters, I decided -during a Mercury retrograde- to have my car serviced. I simply went for an oil change, but the dealership went ahead and rotated the tires, and apparently my car's battery was on the decline. So I got that replaced at a price I really didn't want to spend...but having it potentially fail to start was the worse option.

And then there was the excessive tire noise after I left the dealership (remember the tire rotation)! For various reasons I didn't take the car back immediately, and decided that Murphy's Law would get my middle finger raised at it in my own little hateful salute.

And so I decided to cook up some magic to help me in the trip!

Early on, I decided that I would create a conjure hand to ensure safe travel, and found one in Inominandum's book "Protection & Reversal Magick". It was a simple three-ingredient bag, and divinations confirmed it would be of use. Unfortunately I did not have one of the ingredients, so I substituted with another herb that does the same thing, and this is what I ended up with:

  • Mugwort - For safe travel.
  • Comfrey - Another for safe and secure travel.
  • Oregano - To keep away meddling people and officers of the law.

Normally, in my eclectic style I would draw on extra spiritual forces that are especially good for the purpose of a talisman like this. In this specific case I would work with the forces of Mercury, patron of travellers and flow, but that planet is currently in retrograde. No way was I gonna work with it for this goal at this time given what had already happened with my car!

So I decided to draw on elemental Air by calling on Paralda, instead. Divinations confirmed that this would help with empowering the conjure hand, and so I proceeded with it. I set things up in my ritual space using a Compass round-style zone rite I learned from Strategic Sorcery, and called on Paralda in the name of IAO. I pore-breathed elemental Air energy and proceeded with empowering the conjure hand:

  1. I unlocked the herbs by speaking to their Spirits, coaxing out their Virtues for my goal of safe travel, placing some of each in a red flannel bag I made as I did so.
  2. After this I spat in the bag and then breathed the elemental Air energy into it.
  3. Cinched the bag closed, tied and knotted it three times.
  4. Dangled the bag from its string in between my hands while making the Triangle of Manifestation gesture over incense, bathing the bag in the smoke and chanting the Song of the Serpent for some time.
  5. Verbally spoke it to, telling it to wake up, explaining what I needed it to do, and making sure it understood.
  6. Once I completed that and confirmed it understood, I dressed it with a generous helping of VanVan oil. It was a thirsty little bag! ;-)

I've made a few conjure hands before, but the resulting spirit combined from the herbs was clearer than I've gotten it with the others, and I found it fascinating since so many other occultists have often said that talismans (in which I'm including conjure hands in this category) tend to be a spirit themselves. It was communicative and clear on when it needed to be fed and when it had enough dressing with VanVan oil! I attribute this at least in part to the inclusion of elemental Air energy.

And so far, the results have been very good! During the entire 12-hour drive to Somerset, it was totally uneventful, with the worst activity being having to deal with other drivers. On the way back, there were setbacks involving Pennsylvania traffic authorities because they closed off all the lanes of I-78 West around one small section, and I had to take another highway around and get back on I-78 further on. But the whole time, there were no untoward issues with my car! The check engine light had come on Saturday, but whatever issue caused that didn't give me any trouble at all on the way back. I even had a cop riding my ass at one point while I was speeding...and he just passed me by once I changed lanes!

So, I consider this one a success, dear readers, and I hope if anyone out there puts this to use, that they get results as good as mine!

And of course, at this point I must give a disclaimer that I realize the way I did this conjure hand was pretty eclectic, and there are many people who keep their Hoodoo separate from their other practices. I don't, which has been why the disparate parts of my praxis have come together into this neat little system I practice. And this is also why I call my practice Sorcery instead of Hoodoo, even when dealing with specifically Hoodoo elements. 'Nuff said? ;-)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Magical Folk And Their Damn Altars

Ever since I've been living in my current apartment, I've had this vanity off from my bedroom, tucked away in this nook next to my massive walk-in closet, and I've never used it. Personally, I don't really need a vanity, I don't have a ton of beauty products and styling tools to put on it, and so it mostly sat unused. I mean, I tried to have a small ancestor shrine on it for a time, but it went unused as well. It was sparsely decorated and I just didn't jive with it. So, I cleared it instead of disrespecting my people by giving them a shitty shrine.

Meanwhile, at one point I took this awesome bohemian-looking frame, put my favorite pic of Hekate in it and set the whole thing with some candles by my door. While an appropriate place for a shrine to Her...the table normally got piled with a lot of very NON-Hekatean stuff, so that never got used either.

And so on and so forth with my small shrines to Jupiter/Wealth and my spirit animal; tales of misuse, bad or blahze setup, etc.

Until recently, that is! :-)

So, I found a couple sturdy boxes at a fabric store, and picked out a couple types of brocade. Took it all home, combined it all with a couple hanging lamps I got from Pier 1...and came up my new dual shrines to wealth and to Hekate! Look at this gorgeousness:



Overall, I'm very pleased and already have a positive impression from Hekate. I figured this would be appropriate, as my wealth altar will of course be VERY Jupiter-centric, and Hekate was given an exalted place by Zeus. Plus I love this interplay of blue and red. I plan to drape fabric over the mirror and maybe hang things from it, but haven't done that part yet.

The wealth side will be where I perform all magic related to finances. So far I have placed my Jupiterian spirit bottle containing some of the presence of Hismael, and also my Jupiterian cashbox, a la Inominandum's "The Sorcerer's Secrets". The Hekate side is where I plan on performing any magic that draws upon her aid, especially any necromancy, liminal, protective, or malicious work.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Interesting Experience

I recently posted about my trip to Crucible (which was awesome!), and mentioned a presentation by Rufus Opus which I attended. It was about ecstatic Hermetics, as practiced and taught by the man himself. He ended the presentation with a conjuration of Hermes in his usual Hermetic style.

Now, before I go any further, I'll say that I have not often been around other magicians in the midst of performing any kind of ritual. I've been around plenty of modern neoPagans calling the quarters, aspecting Godforms, etc...and I have picked up impressions and sensations from some of them, very faintly. But otherwise, for the most part, it's always been just little ol' me practicing my woowoo and getting along just fine on my own.

So, when Rufus Opus was including part of the Invocation of the Headless One (The Bornless Rite) as a beginning setup to the conjuration of Hermes, I thought it was interesting, especially to actually witness another magician practicing his/her craft. For context, here is the part in question:

"AOTH, ABRAOTH, BASYM, ISAK, SABAOTH, IAO"

"Subject to me all daimons, so that every daimon, whether heavenly or earthly or subterranean or terrestrial or aquatic, might be obedient to me and every enchantment and scourge which is from God."

This part initially invokes authority into the magician for carrying out the rest of the invocation. As R.O. finished saying this part, I expected to simply keep watching, not feeling the mental, emotional, and spiritual processes going on behind the physical actions. Or, maybe, feeling like he was more powerful than before or something.

Nope!

It happened fast and didn't last long, but as he finished saying it, I suddenly and powerfully felt pins and needles wash over and through me for a moment or two. My hair felt like it stood on end for a good 5 to 10 seconds, as if the authority granted by that passage radiated outward from R.O. like a force of its own. I certainly didn't expect that!

So yeah. I guess that's kinda what happens when us magicky folk meet!