Summer update: Jailbreak the Sacred, the Salem Summer Symposium, and more!

I hope everyone’s been enjoying the Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration posts that have been going up lately!  There are still a few more to go, but in the meantime, I didn’t want you all to think that I was just relaxing taking a vacation (as much as I might want or need to).  Rather, things have been as busy as ever, between commuting and working and Working and writing and Writing and this and that and the other, and I wanted to take a quick moment to fill you guys in on some of the things that have been happening lately.

First, a few updates about the website structure.  I decided to go through my blog archives and make things a bit easier to navigate for some of the more fun or interesting posts I’ve made, and while there’s too much to outright do a whole highlight reel of posts, I have made a few new pages for ease of navigability and readability, including adding a few goodies to the Rituals pages from old posts that discussed some rituals I apparently forgot about.

  • The About page has been updated with links to all the different categories of posts (which are also accessible on the right side of the blog page, at least while using the desktop view of the website blog).
  • Several new pages have been added to the top navbar:
    • About → Geomancy Posts: an index of all the important posts I’ve done about geomancy, geomantic divination, geomantic magic, geomantic spirituality, and divination generally.
    • About → Post Series: an index of all the different multipart series of posts I’ve written about over the years, with a summary of each series and links to each of the individual posts in each series.
    • Rituals → Candle Blitzkrieg Blessing: a ritual that utterly fills a house or dwelling with divine light for the sake of blessing it.
    • Rituals → Dream Divination Ritual: a ritual to be done while the Moon is in your ninth house for dream divination, lucid dreaming, or other forms of dreamwork.
    • Rituals → Uncrossing of the Mouth: a ritual to uncross, unbind, and free the mouth from any maleficia, cross, or curse that has settled upon it so that you can speak freely and easily once again.
  • The page Rituals → Classical Hermetic Rituals → The Headless Rite has been (finally) updated, with much of the Greek being corrected, a full transcription of the Greek provided, and more information provided on carrying out the ritual itself.

Second, I was on another podcast!  The wonderful, amazing, and handsome astrologer Nate Craddock of Soul Friend Astrology started a podcast earlier this year, Jailbreak the Sacred, where he sits down to talk with leaders, thinkers, practitioners, and activists about the intersection of mainstream religion and alternative spirituality.  After all, as he says, “spirituality in the 21st century is only getting weirder from here on out, and there’s no better time to team up with people who have walked that path before”.  It’s a wonderful and refreshing thing to listen to, and there are some great speakers already in the lineup, and it’s an honor for me to be included among them!  We spent a good hour and more talking about the intersection of my magical and religious practices, what it’s like being an orisha priest in the Afro-Cuban tradition of La Regla de Ocha Lukumí, and how that impacts my philosophy, ethics, and morality in how I approach my life and Work.  Head on over to JTS and take a listen!  And, if you use iTunes, be sure to subscribe to JTS through that platform, too!

Also, for his patrons over on Patreon, there’s an extra bonus episode of Nate and I talking about geomancy, where I give a very rough-and-fast explanation of the origins of geomancy, and I read for Nate on the air and give a full explanation of what a geomancy reading with me is like on the spot.  You’ll also be able to listen in on a special prayer I’ve written for divination, what I call the Praise of the Lord of the Unseen, which has hitherto not been published anywhere (yet).  If you’re interested, help Nate with his podcast, pitch in $10 a month, and get access to this and all sorts of other goodies and bonuses Nate has for his subscribers!

Third, I’m really super excited to announce that I will be in Salem, Massachusetts in early-mid August this year to attend, present, do readings, and generally have fun at the Salem Summer Symposium!  This is the first major event of its kind hosted by the good folk at the Cauldron Black, with the main show of events lasting from August 7 through August 11, but with other activities occurring around the city of Salem as early as August 3.  I’ll be teaming up with the wonderful Dr Al Cummins for a Double Trouble Geomancy Power Hour on Friday, August 9 from 10am to 12pm, and later on that day I’ll be presenting on my own about my recent development in geomancy-centered theurgical practices from 4pm to 6pm.  Tickets are still available, and I heartily encourage those who are able to attend to do so; there’s a massive list of fascinating talks, presentations, workshops, and other delights for the eyes and heart and mind to partake in, and that’s besides just the social fun to be had in a spot of great renown in old New England!

Last but not least, I mentioned a bit ago that the Russian occult website Teurgia.Org is working on translating some of my writings and works into the Russian language.  They’ve done it again, this time translating my old post on Ancient Words of Power for the Directions (April 2013) into Russian on their website.  If you’re a speaker of Russian, go check it out!

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say for now.  I hope the weather is treating you all well, and that the upcoming summer solstice (or winter solstice for those in the Southern Hemisphere) is blessed and prosperous for us all!  And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Select posts to be translated into Russian at Teurgia.Org!

Not too long ago, the good people at the Russian occult website Teurgia.Org contacted me asking if they could translate some of my articles, posts, and pages into Russian for their website.  Granted that I don’t speak Russian, but they seem to be a pretty excellent Russian-language resource for Hermetic practices, ceremonial magic, grimoires, and other occult and magical works, and have been around since 2009.  Specifically, they wanted to translate my Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios ritual into Russian for their website, and I agreed, and gave them permission to periodically translate some of my other posts and pages into Russian for their site, linking back here to the Digital Ambler.  To that end, they recently put up their translation over at this page on their website.  Over time, they may translate more posts of mine to make them more accessible to the wider non-Anglophonic world.

If you’re a speaker of Russian or know anyone who’s more comfortable learning occult stuff in Russian than English, tell them to check out Teurgia.Org!

Something for my Tarot-reading readers: Sigil Arcanum Tarot Kickstarter

On occasion, there’ll be something nifty on Kickstarter that crosses my path that I’ll throw money at.  Most of the time they’ll get funded (to my joy), and sometimes not (to my disappointment), but a little bit of advertising and spreading the word tends to go a long way.  If you’ll indulge me, dear reader, I think there’s something that you might consider nice to back yourself.

Now, I’m not a big Tarot reader myself; I started off with Tarot back when I was in middle school and high school, but geomancy’s been my thing for far longer than I ever used Tarot.  I can read Tarot if I need to, sure, and I’ll use some Tarot cards for scrying or magical purposes, but it’s not really my thing when I have other tools at my disposal.  That said, many of my colleagues, friends, mentors, and readers use Tarot for pretty much anything and everything, and I totally get and see why: it works, and particular Tarot decks can often be beautiful as well as symbolically powerful.

To be honest, how many Tarot decks are there out there?  Hundreds in common use, thousands that are easily accessible?  And how many do my readers actually have?  Some people have crates full of decks they’ve collected, some which haven’t even been opened yet!  I don’t collect Tarot myself (I have two decks to my name, and I only ever use one of them maybe a handful of times a year), and it’s not common that one strikes me as particularly nice or that elicits an “omg I need that” reaction.  But then, I’ve rarely come across something as beautiful and absolutely my aesthetic as the Sigil Arcanum Tarot project on Kickstarter.

I won’t go into too much detail here, as the good Rev. Erik Arneson over at Arnemancy already did a review on some of the cards, style, and design choices of the deck that Bell is making.  From the Kickstarter page itself, Bell is structuring the deck according to the principles behind the well-known Thoth deck:

This deck can be considered a Thoth compatible deck since it follows the same order in terms of the Major Arcana, and all of correspondences match the Thoth system. This choice was made to ensure that the attributions are as close to accurate as possible, a task which turns out to be more difficult than it may seem at first, because many tarot decks deviate from standards, and the two primary decks of the modern day (Thoth and Waite) deviate slightly from each other.

Each of the Major Arcana features a spectrum gradient of colors that relate to the energies of the card, and are particularly situated around each of those relative symbols; e.g. XVII The Star features a pentagram, hexagram, and double-heptagram. Inside the heptagram are the seven planets of alchemy, each colored according to their Sephirotic attributions (Mercury is orange, the Moon is purple, Venus is green, etc).

The Minor Arcana feature a two-tone color scheme to match the element. The core pips are the color of the element, and the special design is a shade darker, while the numerals and symbols at the bottom are white.

 

In addition to a colorized version, Bell is also making a Blackout version, which replaces all the colors with a glossy black paint on a matte black background:

The Blackout Edition of the Sigil Arcanum Tarot–which will feature all the same cards–will be printed with rich glossy ink offset on a substantial matte black paper stock. The result is a mesmerizing and sleek appearance which is best read by candle light. The deck appears entirely black on black, and you must shed light on the cards to reveal their hidden meanings.

The edges of the cards appear matte black due to the card stock, which adds to the dark effect. The box will be printed on the same matte black cover, with thicker, more sturdy paper, and will be printed offset to give the same illusory appearance. The booklet, however, will be printed normally, because let’s face it, nobody would want an all black instruction booklet.

As of this writing, it’s sitting at about $18.2k, and it needs $25k to get funded.  That being said, there are two stretch goals involved here, which would be fantastic for us to get to.  The first is for $30k which enables Bell to upgrade the packaging/storage quality, card quality and protection, and an upgrade to the Little White Book that comes with the kit; this is what I’m really hoping for.  But, even better than that, if we can get to $50k, there will be a full-size complete book on the Tarot that fully dives into the symbolism of each card, the historical significance of each symbol, more interpretations, ample examples of spreads, and more.  While having the whole book would be great, and while I’d be happy with just the decks themselves, I think the $30k stretch goal is more than enough to make everyone happy.

I may not read Tarot all that much, but hot damn, this deck makes me want to start.  With 12 days to go in the campaign, there’s still plenty of time to reach the goal, but that’s no reason to wait; hurry up and make your pledge today!  If you want a Thoth-structured deck that’s sublimely potent and elegant in its refined simplicity, head to Kickstarter and back the Sigil Arcanum Tarot!  Probably the best choice most people would go after is the US$42 option, which gets you one deck of cards, but there are lesser options and greater options available (including a US$70 option for two decks).  For more information, go head over to the Sigil Arcanum website proper!

Here’s hoping for a successful campaign; all luck to you, Taylor, and here’s wishing you all the best for this beautiful project!

I was on a podcast, this time on Glitch Bottle with Alexander Eth!

While I’m always flattered and excited to be interviewed and hosted on someone’s podcast or radio show, truth be told, I’m always a little terrified.  My preferred medium is writing, both for taking it in and putting it out there.  Plus…I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t like listening to people.  Yet, when I am invited to speak on someone’s show, I find myself listening in, if for no other reason than to get a feel for someone’s style and what I might expect, and yet I’m always drawn into the show itself and all the wonderful things people say.  Once more, it just so happened that I found myself talking on someone’s show, and I gotta say, this is one for the books!

Earlier this month, I was invited to chat with the dreamy, excellent Alexander Eth on his podcast, Glitch Bottle, “the esoteric podcast and blog where we Uncork the Uncommon in magic, mysticism and the generally misunderstood”.  He’s a well-accomplished magician in his own right, but combined with his actual radio-host voice and brilliant mind, he’s also got a name for himself as having one of the most popular podcasts on the occult and magic out there today.  I’m his show #47, but on earlier shows he’s had luminaries and dignitaries among whom we can count Fr. Ashen Chassan (#44), Dr. Stephen Skinner (#36, #40), Jason Miller (#34), Joseph H. Peterson (#32), and so many others.  To be counted among them is a huge honor, because clearly, Alexander just doesn’t fuck around and goes right for the top.  He’s been trying to get me on his show for a bit now, and apparently his readers kept calling for my name like a mob does for blood.  (Perhaps it was the same thing, it’s hard to keep track anymore.)

So, late one night this early April, we finally met up online and had a blast of what came to be a three-hour conversation in total.  What did we talk about?  My own occult and spiritual upbringing, geomancy (as always), the Munich Manual and translating Latin as part of the Work, various aspects on ceremonial and Hermetic and Solomonic magical practice, how to get started on the Work in a reasonable way, how occult texts evolve and adapt and vary amongst themselves within lineages of practical literature across the centuries, who Saint Cyprian is, how to make ritual offerings to gods and spirits, how to learn Latin, why the Kybalion is still crap and why I specifically don’t like it, the difference between devotional and conjurational magic, prayer beads, and so much more.  It was a great chat, and I’m honestly honored and privileged to have had it on the Glitch Bottle show.

So what are you waiting for?  Take a listen!

Notice how I said we had a three-hour conversation, yet the podcast above was only a little less than two-and-a-half hours?  And how I said we talked about some topics that didn’t come up in what you just heard (if, indeed, you just subjected yourself to it)?  That’s because Alexander does something super nice for his patrons where he has a special in-depth conversation and interview, his “Inside the Circle” that’s released only to those who support him through Patreon.  Of course, he has other bonuses, too, such as sharing non-interview occult media including blog posts, videos and tutorials (protorials?) on practice, early access to posts and interviews, and letting people submit their own questions for interviews.  So, clearly, if you (for some unfathomable reason) can not only stand hearing my voice for so long and want more, you know where to get it!

So what are you waiting for?  Go listen!  In addition to however you access your podcasts, whether through iTunes or Stitcher or some other way, don’t forget to check out his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter (@glitchbottle), subscribe to him on YouTube, and if you really wanna go the extra mile and get all the good stuff, support him as a producer of high-quality occult media on Patreon.

Shoutouts to excellent colleagues and consultants: Nate Craddock, Asterion, and others!

It’s sometimes said that “no man is an island”, and I agree.  All of us live together on this planet, and unless you’re truly a dedicated hermit that does not live in or rely on society, the rest of us absolutely do, and we all interact with other people from time to time in some way or another.  However, it’s also important to rely on people from time to time, too; we all have our own specialties, areas of expertise, and skill that we can provide others, the things that we’re good at.  But, not only are we good at some things, but there are some things that we’re just not good at, and so we turn to others who are better than us to learn and do more.  And then there’s the fact that, even if we’re not asking for help from others, we can still enjoy their company, works, and friendship all the same to make our own lives a little brighter in this dark world of ours.

To that end, on this blessed Feast of St. Isidore of Seville and of Hermes Trismegistus, on this Day of Jupiter in the Hour of the Sun (at least for where I am), I’d like to talk about two such people whose skills far exceed my own, Nate Craddock of Soul Friend Astrology and Asterion of Asterion’s Occult Art and Practical Solomonic Magic, and give them my thanks and to publicly praise them for the wonderful things they do in general and for the wonderful things they did for me specifically.  Plus I’d also like to draw attention to Alexander Eth of the Glitch Bottle podcast and Raquelle Puchol of Saturn and the Sun Astrology, because they’re wonderful people whose works you should already be following if you’re not yet.

First, let’s talk about Nate Craddock.  It’s my custom to get my own beginning-of-year reading, usually from the oracles of Ifá from my babalawo or Lukumí from my godfather, but due to the chaos and craziness at the beginning of the year (including a snowstorm the day that I was supposed to head to my babalawo’s house), I simply wasn’t able to get one in the timeframe I wanted, so I ended up just doing without.  After a while, and after much banter and back-and-forth on Twitter with Nate (@RyanCaradog), I ended up getting one of his Annual Update consultations to catch up on my lost time and see what would be ahead for me.  But, because it’s been a long time since I’ve had my natal horoscope properly analyzed (I had it done once by Chris Warnock of Renaissance Astrology back in 2011, which was great, too!), I also got a natal consultation with Nate to be done first, partially because I figured I could do with the review of my own chart and also to help get more out of the annual update later on.  The natal consultation was…honestly, to say that I’m impressed with Nate’s skill would be such an understatement that I would feel bad about lying and would need to atone for the grave insult that would be towards Nate.  His skill is on-point, sharp, refined, and incredibly detailed, so much so that I scheduled a second natal consultation to get more into the in-depth nitty-gritty that he normally doesn’t get to for most clients due to the niche nature of them all.  (We discussed my own knowledge of astrology, and I admit that I’m more astrology-adjacent rather than a proper astrologer, but what little knowledge and understanding I had going into this made it super easy for Nate to skip over the basic descriptions and get into the real meat-and-marrow of the chart.)  Plus, Nate has professional training in actual counseling and guidance, which really comes to bear in his client-centric consultation style in a way that’s compassionate, understanding, and (most importantly) useful to the consultee.

I know who my astrologer’s gonna be in the future. If you’re looking for someone to help you out to keep an eye on the stars in a friendly, understanding, guiding way that gives you actual, immediate insight into your life, you’d be doing a disservice to yourself to not hire the services of Nate Craddock at Soul Friend Astrology.  Seriously, you won’t be disappointed.  In the meantime, follow him on Twitter.  He’s been doing a great set of 20 one-line tweet interpretations of people’s natal charts for them to get the high-level motif and focus for them to tackle, and is taking on new projects, too, including his upcoming podcast at Jailbreak the Sacred (not quite live yet, but going live later this month) and vlog-style horoscopes over at his YouTube, and while you’re at it, give him a like on his Facebook page.  Definitely keep an eye on him for his future works and productions (one of which I’ll be on, too!).

(I also fully admit that the Libra quality of “tell me more about me” was coming out hard and it’s hard to not indulge myself when listening to his amazing voice.  So, yanno.  That’s a bonus, too.  His podcast is gonna be excellent.)

Now, let me go on about the inestimable Asterion.  Honestly, I don’t think anyone needs an introduction to him at this point; his excellent artcraft is renowned across the occult blogosphere, and his work has been highly acclaimed by authors and publishers such as Fr. Ashen Chassan, Nineveh Shadrach, Michael Cecchetelli, James Banner, and others.  Heck, I even used his Arbatel seals in my own Arbatel lamens, with his permission, years ago.  His work in redoing the sometimes-unclear seals and sigils of classical and medieval grimoires is famous, and his more modern and innovative artwork is stunning.  Heck, I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve used his Seal of the Planetary Hierarchy, both with and without his permission.  I’ve seen it across all of Etsy and Wish by people who would never have known that Asterion is the one who made it back in 2011, but there it is, all the same.  As far as occult art goes, Asterion is a legendary force of nature.  It’s only a shame that his old two blogs have been largely discontinued due to his other projects and studies at the moment, but that’s not to say he isn’t still active.

More recently, I turned to him asking if he could take a few seals I had received from spirits and draw them up professionally for me.  It’s the ones I’ve been using for the four elemental archangels for years ever since my first contact with them, and though I’ve been doing fine with my own hand-drawn versions, I wanted something nicer and more professionally well-done.  I could think of nobody else but Asterion to do it for me, and it was a project he took on with enthusiasm, speed, and—surprising positively nobody—the greatest quality and care.  Plus, he even had the patience to deal with my nitpicking over even the most inscrutable of details, for which he has my admiration; I know well how rough it can be to go back-and-forth with a picky client, but he did so with grace and charm and patience for me.  (And no small amount of ribbing and poking fun at each other along the way.)  To be honest, I’m appalled at myself that I didn’t contact him years ago to do this very thing for me, but I’m glad I have all the same.  I know he can be sometimes picky about what clients he takes on, given how much other work takes up his precious and well-used time, but I’m honored he agreed to work with me, and—hopefully—in the future as well for yet other projects.

Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Nate and Asterion!  And you, dear reader, should give them both a look-over.  If you need an astrologer, whether for natal or horary or electional or predictive needs, check out Soul Friend Astrology.  And if you need a good artist whose works are stunningly potent, check out Asterion.  You will not be disappointed.

And while I’m at it, there are two other colleagues I’d like to draw attention to.  First, Alexander Eth of the Glitch Bottle podcast.  You can probably guess why; keep an eye out later this month!  Subscribe to his YouTube channel, like his Facebook Page, and follow him on Twitter (@glitchbottle)!

And finally, the incredible Raquelle Puchol of Saturn and the Sun Astrology.  She’s a wonderful astrologer trained in traditional, Hellenic, and Vedic astrology and chiromancy, and she’s a professional artist and calligrapher who does hands down some of the most beautiful astrological diagrams, charts, and illustrations that I have ever seen (and I count a number of artists among my friends), both for custom commissions and prints.  She shares much of her work and analyses on her Twitter (@saturnsunastro), which you should absolutely be following.

So, yanno.  In your spare time, do check out these wonderful people I am blessed to know, work with, and who do excellent work of their own.

On Pride and Humility

Not that long ago, someone on Curious Cat asked me a pretty good question, and it’s something that’s been sitting with me for a while now:

People constantly complain about ‘baby witches’ and the inefficacy/infantilization of mainstream pop-culture “magic” on Witchblr, but on the other hand, instead of behaving like the mature and levelheaded adults they purport themselves to be, these Super Serious Traditional Ceremonial Magicians tend to be extremely rude, condescending, narcissistic and outright boorish in their treatment of others.

It’s like they’re reenacting outcast goth teen fantasies of being Powerful Darksided Magicians able to kill their enemies in a fingersnap. I mean, is this a prerogative in becoming a devoted and serious practitioner of magick? Because if so, I proudly throw in the towel.

While some questions I can answer on my phone on the go, there are others that I’d rather sit down with at a proper keyboard, think about for a bit, and type up a better thought-out answer than not.  This was one such question, and in reply, I said:

There’s a reason why so many religions prescribe humility as a virtue to be cultivated. And I know that I, myself, can lack it at times, though I try to keep it a focus for myself, too.

No, there’s no prerogative to being a pompous, prideful, supercilious bastard when it comes to magic. But when you have people getting into occult stuff—and it occurs as much with witches as it does with ceremonial magicians, even if ceremonial magicians have a reputation for it—it’s easy to get carried away when we start realizing all the power we now have access to. Fr. Rufus Opus (who at least admits that he’s overly cocky now and then) warns against “Insufferableprickitis” or “Moses-off-the-mount syndrome”, where we finally think that we truly Get It and have all the keys to the power of the Almighty. Even if it’s true, you don’t want that newfound radiance to be so overbearing and annoying that you treat other people like they’re utterly unenlightened and fools for not yet being on their level.

Everyone, no matter what field or hobby or profession or culture, thinks that they’re better than others or that they have a better way of doing something. It’s good to take pride in your accomplishments, whether it’s in software engineering or publishing anthologies of poetry or in plying the forces of the cosmos for theurgy and thaumaturgy, but it’s not okay to disparage or despise others because of those accomplishments.

There’s also an undercurrent of “oh you’re doing this because it’s popular now”, too. Big whoop. Fads come and go. If they’re meant for it, they’ll stick with it, and if not, they won’t, regardless of what mean things are said to them.

Plus, you’re reading stuff on the internet. It’s extraordinarily too common for people to get huffy and enraged and self-aggrandizing on the internet. Relax, take a deep breath and a step back, and don’t let people get to you that way, whether you’re the recipient of that kind of talk or just a witness to it. Let your work, instead, focus on making yourself better, sharing (but not enforcing) the skills you have according to your means and ability and desire, and making the world a better place.

It’s true that many occultists—myself included—can be on the pompous, arrogant, egotistical, and pretentious side, and it’s an especially common accusation lobbed at ceremonial magicians, and not without due cause.  The way I see it, there are two main influences going on here:

  1. Occultists (including witches) in general are liable to feel this way.  When you’re presented with a materialistic world and find a non-materialistic way to bend or break the rules without getting into trouble, i.e. magic, you’re going to feel powerful, and that realization will lead you to get a bit puffed-up, especially when other people say that what you do is impossible or frowned upon.  The thrill of doing stuff that society says you can’t and shouldn’t be doing can be exhilarating.
  2. When we say “ceremonial magicians”, we typically refer to those in Hermetic and Solomonic styles of magic, where we call down immense forces of the cosmos or call up demons and devils of all kinds, often with imperious threats and provocations in order to make sure that the cosmos hears us and, more than that, obeys us.  I mean, just look at the prayers in the Lemegeton Goetia, the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, or the rituals of the Munich Manual.  The modus operandi of browbeating the world to obey us is a common one, even going back to classical mystery traditions and the rituals of the PGM two thousand years ago and more.

I’m sure there are other reasons, too, but those are the two big ones that occur to me.  Another thing that I mentioned in my answer above is, simply, that we’re on the Internet, and it’s easy to say a lot of things without repercussions like getting punched in the face or spat on or having a drink thrown at you because there’s an element of anonymity and facelessness that lets us feel more righteous and dignified than we properly have a right to be most of the time.

Being overweeningly proud is a problem, to be sure, but it’s not one that’s necessarily limited to ceremonial magicians, or to occultists in general, but to a lot of people in the world.  Pride is, after all, considered to be one of the seven deadly sins (and by some accounts, the most serious of them all), but I think it’s important to recall what pride is.  A proper kind of pride is akin to greatness of soul and magnanimity, bound up with nobility and goodness of character; it’s possible to take pride in the things we’ve done, placing value and greatness on our accomplishments or abilities, and it’s good to do this within reason.  Taking too much pride, however, tends to vanity, self-worship, vainglory, narcissism, and all-around hubris, and that’s where the danger comes into play.  Hubris, in the classical sense, is having pride beyond what is deserved to be proud of, which leads to ill-treating others for one’s own satisfaction and gratification.  And that’s a real problem which was truly fitting of punishment direct from the gods themselves, a notion that was carried on in Christianity to this day.

Thus, this is where humility comes in.  Though it can be used to mean having a low self-regard or feeling unworthy, it’s also a recognition of our place in the cosmos, how little we are, and that we should be selfless compared to selfish.  Consider the etymology of the word itself:

humility (n.)
early 14c., “quality of being humble,” from Old French umelite “humility, modesty, sweetness” (Modern French humilité), from Latin humilitatem (nominative humilitas) “lowness, small stature; insignificance; baseness, littleness of mind,” in Church Latin “meekness,” from humilis “lowly, humble,” literally “on the ground,” from humus “earth,” from PIE root *dhghem– “earth.” In the Mercian hymns, Latin humilitatem is glossed by Old English eaðmodnisse.

In other words, to be humble is to be down-to-earth in a way that reminds you that you are of the earth.  Yes, Hermeticism has much to say about us having divine origins and that we’re made in the likeness of God and all that, sure, and all that’s all well and good, but let’s be honest: as human beings, part of us is divine, but being human is being human, living on the Earth and living in Heaven.  Heck, the word “human” itself has the same ultimate origin as the word humility:

human (adj.)
mid-15c., humain, humaigne, “human,” from Old French humain, umain (adj.) “of or belonging to man” (12c.), from Latin humanus “of man, human,” also “humane, philanthropic, kind, gentle, polite; learned, refined, civilized.” This is in part from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally “earthling, earthly being,” as opposed to the gods (from root *dhghem- “earth”), but there is no settled explanation of the sound changes involved. Compare Hebrew adam “man,” from adamah “ground.” Cognate with Old Lithuanian žmuo (accusative žmuni) “man, male person.”

To be properly human is to be humble.  Yes, we all belong to God and it is to God our souls will return, but our bodies are made from dust, and to dust our bodies shall return.  We have to remember and set ourselves apart from the gods and spirits we work with, because we are incarnate, mortal, and finite as opposed to discarnate, immortal, and infinite.  We have to remember that we are humans, and have far more in common with other humans and the human world we live in than with the spirits and their non-human world.  For that reason, we need to remain humble, not only to avoid reaching too far past our proper station as humans, but also to avoid putting ourselves on too high a pedestal above other humans.  We have to take care of ourselves, recognizing that no matter how much we might be capable of, we are only capable of but so much.  As Tzadqiel, the angel of Jupiter, once told me long ago:

You see those stars?  They’re kings, just like the Sun here.  They rule over their parts of the sky, their worlds.  They are small and distant, however, and they are not kings here.  As they travel their light to other places, they cease to become kings and become equals or even less to the places they travel.  They rule only over what they rule, and no more.  Just so do you rule only what you rule, and you do not rule over everything, even though you may think you do.  You will one day become as a star, but even stars are outshone by the ones higher and brighter than them, especially the highest Light.

Humility is a virtue even in the greatest kings.  Humility is the beginning of greatness.

Now, it’s important to distinguish humility from modesty, because the two are vastly different.  As I wrote about back in 2013, humility is more being meek in the facts of a situation, while modesty is more about understating something to the point of reverse exaggeration, and that’s essentially lying against oneself.  But I also brought up that there’s a similarity between (proper) pride and humility: (proper) pride is recognition of all that you are and can be or do, while humility is recognition of all that you are and have done in the grand scheme of things.  Pride is accepting that we have accomplished and learn things, and humility is accepting that we can accomplish and learn yet more.  To be properly proud as well as humble is to be honest and truthful about yourself to the world in the world you live.  Boasting, on the other hand, is having too much pride, the lie we tell to make ourselves seem more than we actually are; modesty, likewise, is the lie we tell to make ourselves seem less than we actually are.

I bring up all this because I want to bring up one of my favorite prayers today, the Litany of Humility.  I think I first brought it up on my blog in another post from 2013, where I meditated on what might make me special, but more importantly, how my being special doesn’t make anyone else less special.  This prayer, as seen in a number of Christian, and especially Catholic, texts, is often attributed to or outright claimed to be written by the 19th/20th century Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, although it doesn’t seem like he actually wrote it.  Instead, the real origin of the Litany seems to be lost to history—a fitting end, I suppose, for one who prayed for no glory of the world, instead giving their work to the world freely.  At any rate, the Litany of Humility isn’t like the usual litanies of the Christian Church, at least, not like those commonly used in the formal liturgies like the Litany of the Saints; while it can be used liturgically, it reads and feels more like a personal plea and a way to remind oneself of the good things we should aim towards and the bad things we should aim away from.

While I originally used the standard modern Christian version in my prayer practice, reciting it at least once a week for a good long while, as my practice has shifted, I’ve been less and less…I don’t want to say “comfortable”, but less inclined to call on explicitly Christian names and phrases when I can avoid it in favor of more general deistic language.  Plus, it’s been a long time since I’ve recited or read it (dropping out of a regular practice will do that to you), so I think it’s time to take another look at it.  While I still think the original Christian version is an excellent one that we should all bear in mind, I also think it’s worthwhile to make it more usable by others who aren’t Christian.  To that end, I sat down with it and amended it somewhat for my own personal use, and thought I might share it for others to consider using in their use, should they so desire.  Below is the variant I use now that basically keeps the same text, with a slightly different opening and a different invocation for each request.  Rather than being Jesus-centric, e.g. “from the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus”, I’ve substituted every invocation of Jesus with simply “o Lord”.  This way, the prayer is more accessible to those within a more broadly Abrahamic, deist, or non-Christian Hermetic practice.  The sentiment is the same: we invoke God and pray that we might begin to possess the virtue of humility while shedding from ourselves the vice of pride.

O Lord, hear my prayer, and grant me, I beg you,
the blessing to be humble of heart,
the power to crush my pride,
and the grace to master myself that I may more fully serve you.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, o Lord.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, o Lord.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being rebuked, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being maligned, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, o Lord.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, o Lord.

That others may be loved more than me, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than me, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may grow and I diminish in the opinion of the world, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than me, provided that I might become as holy as I should, o Lord, grant me the grace to desire it.

Amen.

I think it’s important to remember all that being proud entails, and what being humble necessitates.  That goes for both ceremonial magicians and witches, both occultists and scientists, and all people, especially myself.  I’ve come a long way since those posts in 2012 and 2013 when I discussed these things before, but I know that I’ve only come but so far, and there’s still so much for me to do, and no matter how far I might reach, there are still yet others who are (properly and well-deservedly) better than me.  It’s all I can do to do all I must do, and that’s for the best.  I’m happy to have recalled this prayer up, because I think it’s high time for me to reincorporate it back into my prayer routine regularly again.  Perhaps there are others who might find it useful, too.

Chaplet of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, now in Polish courtesy of the Czasopismo Luna e-zine!

Just a quick little thing!  On my Facebook page for the Digital Ambler (have you liked it yet?), someone approached me asking if they could share the Chaplet of Saint Cyprian of Antioch I wrote back in 2014 in one of their internet publications, translating it into Polish.  This would be the good translation work of Frater X.A. (Xadak Agneped) of Oratio Vincta, who runs the Czasopismo Luna e-zine on the esoteric, the occult, and magic generally in Polish and geared towards the Polish esoteric scene.  Looking at it myself, though I don’t know or speak Polish except with the generous help of Google Translate, it’s a really-well put together bit of writing and design.  It’s freely available, so if you’re Polish, can speak Polish, or can otherwise benefit from Polish writings on the occult, I heartily encourage you to check it out!  The March 2019 edition (in which my Chaplet was translated) has the following topics:

  • Utiseta: The Nordic Practice of the Night Vigil
  • On Nettle
  • Magic in the Kitchen
  • Astrology: Continuing to Wander Around the Wheel of the Zodiac
  • The Sumerian New Year
  • On Tansy
  • The Witch’s Broom: How to do Energy Cleansings with Brooms, and a Few Words about Podlachian Domestic Magic
  • Liber Alef: the Book of Wisdom or Madness
  • The Chaplet of Saint Cyprian of Antioch
  • On Mugwort
  • Magical Health and Safety: An Unusual Guide on How to be Safe in Magic

In addition to it being part of the e-zine, Frater X.A. has also uploaded it directly to his blog.  Check it out!  You might also consider checking them out on Facebook on their page, too, for Luna Czasopismo.