Reminder: don’t forget to sign up for this year’s Salem Witchcraft & Folklore Festival!

As I scramble to finish putting my presentation and notes together (and trying to figure out how to fit three hours of content into two), it would be remiss of me to not forget to let all my good readers know that we’re just one week away from this year’s Salem Witchcraft & Folklore Festival, hosted by the good people at the Salem Summer Symposium!  Unlike last year, due to the obvious influence of the presiding Reign of the Lady of Crowns, this year’s event is going to be all-online, and the good people in Salem have done an amazing job putting this all together.  While we’ll all certainly miss being able to hang out in person and frolick with abandon across Salem in its myriad haunts and bars, this is still gonna be a time you don’t want to miss!

With thirty classes being offered this year from some of the best and brightest occultists, witches, and magicians out there—including one by yours truly, of course, on Greek alphabet divination and magic from 1 to 3 pm EDT on Saturday, August 15—you can sign up for the online classes individually, or with bulk rates per day or for the whole weekend.  What’s more, you’ll have access to the recordings of whatever classes you sign up for (or whichever days, or the whole weekend) through the rest of 2020, so if you can’t make the live class or if you have a schedule conflict between two amazing presenters, you can still take the class at your leisure.  (This is something I wish they did last year, since there were too many great things to be present for without mastering bilocation, but they’re investigating ways to do this in the future for both online-only and in-person classes, too.  The recording and accessing of recordings, I mean, not the bilocation.)

There’s still time to sign up, of course, so head on over to the events page and book your tickets today!  From decans to demons, qigong to qabbalah, Saturn to seidr, this is gonna be a festival you won’t forget soon!

I was on the Talk Gnosis podcast! Tune in and take a look!

I know I’m supposed to be on a hiatus so I can focus on my Salem Summer Symposium presentation (Spelling by Spelling: Greek Alphabet Divination and Magic, at 1pm EDT on Saturday, August 15, which you all should totally join in and also book your places in their other online sessions later next month!), but…it’d appear that, in lieu of writing on my blog, I’ve ended up writing blog post-length tweet threads on Twitter like once every week or so on this or that topic.  I swear, it’s like I don’t know how to not work.  Oh well.

In the meantime, I also wanted to bring up something pretty cool: I was on the Talk Gnosis podcast, a weekly show about Gnosticism and related traditions from the Gnostic Wisdom Network (website here, YouTube channel here)!  Me, Bishop Lainie, and Deacon Jon jammed earlier this month talking about theories of divination, geomancy, occult practice, and so much more.  It was a pleasure and honor to be on their show, and I hope you tune in, watch, and listen to us chat and joke and jape!

Of course, don’t just stop there!  Talk Gnosis puts up new episodes weekly with awesome people who are way out of my league talking about everything religious, spiritual, magical, and occult, all for the betterment of humanity and the solving of the mysteries of creation.  So, besides just liking and subscribing to their YouTube channel, also follow them on Twitter (@TalkGnosis) and Facebook (talkgnosis), and support them on Patreon to get extra content, early releases, and other special bonuses!

And now, back to researching, writing, and ranting on Twitter.

Brief Hiatus, but Have Some Prayers in the Meanwhile

As the title of the post suggests, I’m going to go on a brief hiatus for July and August.  Nothing bad, I assure you, it’s just that I’ve been cranking out a lot of work on my blog and social media generally while other work has piled up, and I need to focus on those projects for the next few weeks.  The bulk of this focus—in addition to The Adocentyn Temple Almanac project (which you should get your voice heard regarding options and desires if you haven’t yet!) and various book-writing projects—is to prepare my presentation for this year’s Salem Summer Symposium.  Yes, it’s still being held this year, though in an online format only due to the ongoing Reign of the Lady of Crowns, so even though we can’t all meet up in Salem, Massachusetts this year, there’s still plenty of awesome classes, presentations, and lectures being held that I thoroughly encourage you all to sign up for and participate in!  This year, I’m presenting my lecture at 1pm EDT on Saturday, August 15: Spelling by Spelling: Greek Alphabet Divination & Magic:

A variety of divination systems were used in ancient and classical Greece, ranging from oracles and prophets to common forms of sortilege. One of the more fascinating kinds of divination that was used in the ancient Hellenic world was that of grammatomancy, divination through the individual letters of the Greek alphabet. This lecture will cover the history of this useful and direct form of divination, and how it can build into an overarching spiritual practice of devotion to the Greek gods, theurgy, contemplation, and magic.

I’ve brought up grammatomancy a number of times on my blog before, and even though I don’t bring it up a lot nowadays, rest assured that it’s still a system I use often, both for the sake of divination, calendrics, and various other aspects of mysticism and theurgy.  I’m thrilled to be able to present on this topic, and hope you’ll join in!  I just need to get my ass in gear and actually develop the actual lecture and material for it, hence the hiatus so I can focus on that.

In the meantime, I don’t want to leave you high and dry, so let me leave you with something to mull over and busy yourself in the meantime.  As I’ve brought up in a number of previous posts, I’ve spent a good chunk of my time writing and developing a novel set of prayers, some of which are original and some of which are based on or influenced by the existing prayers and scriptures of religions that have played a role in my own spiritual development and growth.  Over time, some of these prayers get used more or less, depending on how my own practice develops further, and some I intend for general purpose stuff eventually get relegated to specific uses or vice versa.  To tide over my readers with some prayers that I invite them to give a whirl, or to at least share some of the logic and reasoning I use when coming up with such prayers, I’d like to show off a bit of my own stuff with three of my own prayers which I use to varying degrees in my own practice.

The first prayer is one I call the “Invocation to the Almighty”.  This prayer is based heavily on the biblical Book of Daniel, specifically verses 2:20-23, 2:28, 4:2-3, 4:35, and 6:26-27.  The wording of the original verses has been generalized somewhat to be more deistic than Jewish or Abrahamic at points, but what results is a simple invocation and praise of God, which I find to be a good one to open up a session of prayer in general focused on the Divine.

O God, may your holy name be blessed forever and ever,
for wisdom and power are yours.
You change all times and seasons, you remove and install all kings;
you give the wise their wisdom and knowledge to those who know;
you reveal deep and hidden things, and you know what is in the darkness.
Light abides with you, and Light comes forth from you.
I adore you and I praise you,
o God of the angels and the prophets,
o Lord of Heaven and Earth,
o Master of the Seen and Unseen,
o you who gives me wisdom and power.

Truly, he is the God of Gods, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords!
Bless the God of the angels and the prophets, he who is Most High,
the Ever-Living One who reigns forever,
whose dominion is everlasting,
whose kingdom endures throughout the generations,
whose might surpasses the end of time!
None can hold back his hand from acting,
none can challenge his deeds once done!

Praise, exalt, glorify, and bless the King of the All,
whose works are just and whose ways are right,
who humbles those who behave arrogantly,
who relieves those with burdened hearts,
who delivers and saves from perdition,
and who performs signs and wonders in Heaven and on Earth.

The second prayer is one I call the “Servant’s Call to God”.  This prayer takes on much looser influence from a variety of sources, including the Surah al-Fātiḥah from the Qur’ān and some of the wording of the prayer used for Ṣalah, while also taking in symbolic and literary references to the Three Holy Youths and the archangel Michael from the Book of Daniel and from some Syrian Orthodox Christian daily prayers.  Both an invocation and a supplication, this is also another good introductory prayer, but it also works well as a concluding one or one that stands well enough on its own.

How gracious is my God, how merciful is my Lord!
How holy is my God, how truly great is my Lord!
Who can match his power, who can be his equal?
Who can judge, but the one Lord of Judgment alone?
We are but guests in the world he has made for us,
but travelers along the road he has built for us!
For God is more gracious than any royal king, more merciful than any noble host,
more holy than any sacred priest, and greater than all he created!

May these prayers of pure speech and intention reach the Throne of God,
that God may be pleased with my offering to aid me in this life,
for it is to God that I pray, to God that I praise,
to God that I thank, and to God that I bless!
May God guide me along the straight path and empower me over my enemies.
May God purify me through his light and protect me from the darkness.
May God inspire me with his spirit and nourish me with his word.
May God correct me when I err and lift me when I fall.

The third prayer is one I call the “Prayer of Remembrance”.  Many people are familiar with the convention in Islamic cultures to sprinkle certain religious phrases throughout conversation and writing, like inshāllāh or alḥamdulillāh or subḥānallāh, which is frankly and honestly a beautiful and devout thing to do, constantly invoking God even in mundane communication as a means to pray without ceasing.  I basically took all these sayings—some used more often than others—and combined them all into one prayer.  There’s a dash of Hermetic stuff in this prayer, but it’s otherwise a general deist prayer with heavy Islamic flavor and origin.  This is a prayer I use every day, usually at the end of my own prayer sessions, though I’ll also use it on its own if I either cannot afford the time or energy to a full session of prayer or if I’m just taking a moment to myself for prayer outside my usual routine.

With God we begin, and with God may we always continue, God willing,
until such time as God sees fit to bring our lives to an end.
It is to God we all belong, and it is to God we all return,
for God is great and perfect in all things,
and there is no might nor power except in God.
In this and in all things do we thank God
for all his work, all his blessing, all his mercy, and all his Light unto us.
In this and in all things do we praise God, for only God knows best.
All glory be to God.

Although I didn’t include them as part of the prayers above, feel free to append “amen” or whatever sealing phrase you prefer.  Generally, nowadays, I only say “amen” if I’m declaring something to be or asking for something.  So, as an example, I typically won’t end the Invocation to the Almighty with “amen”, because I’m just praising God which does not need a seal (and rightfully so, as such praise should never end), but I do for the Servant’s Call to God, because I’m asking for something as a blessing from God.  I will, however, use “amen” for the Prayer of Remembrance, as that’s often my final prayer that I use to seal my entire prayer sessions with.  This is all just a thing I do, don’t feel obliged to follow my rule on this; end them with “amen” or not as is your own prayer custom, if you use these prayers at all.

For easier access of these prayers, I’ve updated the menu of the website, adding in the submenu Prayers → General Prayers (under which I’ve also put some of my older original prayers as well).  Just use the menu at the top of the website to navigate and take a look.

And with that, I’m off!  We’ll get back to our usual irregular posting again after the Symposium.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to sign up for my self-directed courses on Renaissance Hermetic planetary ritual theurgy or the practice of European geomancy, please feel free to contact me!  And yes, I’m still available for readings and consultations, too, if desired.

Thoughts on Mars

So, as many astrologers, occultists, and others (like me) who are groupies of astro-Twitter are aware, Mars is about to enter in Aries again, where it’ll be for about the next six months or so.  This is a rather long time for this feisty planet to be in its own domicile, and gives a good number of people some worries and concerns, especially given the rather volatile nature of everything going on in the world right about now.  In this light, one of my good friends on Twitter sought some advice from others regarding this (sometimes misunderstood) planet and how to best integrate it into our lives beyond the merely superficial descriptions that so many seem to find online:

There were a good number of replies to his tweet from a variety of perspectives (which I encourage my readers to read, to be sure!).  Me, being the total Mars fanboy that I am, had…well, more than a few words about this topic, which I’d like to share here.

You cannot engage in construction without destruction: agriculture cuts open the flesh of the Earth, building a house requires cutting down trees and clearing out land, establishing new doctrine inherently destroys the old.

All canon is made by or as cannon, one way or another.

Mars is the sword, but what do swords do, like all knives? They cut. They cut at, away, and into things. They bite. They tear and rip and rend—but for nutrition, or for harvesting, or for sex, or for just chaos?

Mars is power of justification, but can it justify your own sense of justice, or just your own self-justification? Justification for its own sake is injustice; the knife thrown about haphazardly is dangerous for everyone. Only with a trained hand and purpose can that be honed.

Is the dynamite being used to clear land or a wedding party? Is the knife used to whittle wood on a bench or flesh on a torturer’s rack? Is the crucible used for spiritual alchemy or for chemical warfare? Mars is all these; it doesn’t care how it affects, so long as it effects.

Learn to wield your tools well, and they serve you well—but remember that you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. You can’t plant seeds into a garden without slicing open the soil; you can’t establish order without demarcating and fighting against disorder.

Mars is the usher, the guardian, the bouncer, the blacksmith, the farmer, the soldier, the fucker, the knave, the footpad, the general. Mars acts because action is needed. What that action is for isn’t up to him; Mars just acts because action is needed.

In the Ladder of Manifestation, stern mother Saturn says what’s possible at all, and happy father Jupiter fills it out with grace and goodness. Mars is the one that refines creation by blade and flame to determine what actually gets to stick; it is the trial by exposure.

Mars is the parer-down of vague possibilities into concrete probabilities, that which is improbable to that which is probable. Mars is the one who balances excess and deficiency by cutting out a hole for something to hold more, or cutting out extra to hold less, by raw change.

All change is, in a sense, violence; it strips away the comfort of the status quo. Violence, in a sense, is inescapable; to enact one plan for peace is to violently crush and destroy all other such plans for peace, because it strips those plans from manifesting and realizing.

Are you strong enough to withstand that violence when it is just to happen to you? To defend against it when it is unjust to happen to you and just for you to stop it? To wield it properly when justice calls? To refrain from it when injustice tempts?

Mars manifests as strength (ενεργεια), sure, but more than that, Mars is the source of strength (δυναμις). Being unmanifest, Mars itself is the edge of the blade between potentiality and activity. Learning the trade of Mars is learning not just how to effect its power, but when.

Mars gives the gift of anger, the sense that injustice is being done, spurring you on to action out of a sense of justice. But that anger can also cloud you, overloading your circuits to the point of explosion, resulting in you yourself becoming a force of and for injustice.

Anger is a powerful cleansing agent of the soul and the world, but it is draining and sticky, and will latch on to any bias or fear or anxiety, magnifying it and exploding it, blowing it out of proportion, harvesting it for all its worth to burn as kindling to sustain itself.

Use anger scalpel-surgically, and become the stoic but utterly just commander-tactician to conquer all adversity; use anger bomb-recklessly, and become a blood-thirsty mindless berserker taking down friend and foe alike. Wartime or not, Mars fights all the same; how is up to us.

We all like fire, but what cuts the difference between playing with fire and pyromania? Knowing when to put out the fire and being able to do so. Being unable to quit anger, to lay down your weapons, is succumbing to primal injustice that would see everything burn to save itself.

Mars is not pleasure, not satisfaction, not generosity, not rationality. Mars is determination: it makes you determined and it makes you determine. Saturn may be the boundary, but Mars is the one who cuts those terminal lines and enforces it—terminally if need be.

Even if I’m absolutely a through-and-through (although indignified) Cytherean boy myself, I’m also a complete encourager, supporter, and facilitator of the various powers and works of Mars.  Personally, I find that those who are in aversion to or fearful of working with this red planet are often (though not always) misguided.  To be sure, as a malefic, Mars is not a pleasant force to deal with—but deal with it we must, because we cannot live without it, and when utilized and integrated appropriately, there is nothing that could stand in your way except God—and if God is in your way, then you’re probably not on the right way to begin with, and haven’t integrated the lessons of Mars appropriately.

To that end, I also recommended my friend (and recommend to everyone, really) to read a fine bit of modern literature: Meti’s Sword Manual.  This bit of instructive writing is from one of the best webcomics to grace our generation, Kill 6 Billion Demons, which I swear taps into more than just pretty art, but that’s beside the point.  This little “guide”, such as it is, is something I often turn to for contemplation and guidance—perhaps not as much as Epictetus’ Enchiridion, the Arbatel, or various parts of the classical Hermetic canon, but I find the advice in it to be fantastic all the same.  Illusion that this fiction might be, what else in this world isn’t illusion itself?  And what a wonderfully useful and pragmatic illusion it is!

May Mars always smile benignly on you, dear readers: as the Orphic Hymn to this god goes, “encourage peace, to gentle works inclin’d, and give abundance, with benignant mind”.