Giving Blessings

I really need to learn to keep more cash on me.  I’m normally a card-type of guy, but in the right circumstances (and in increasingly more ones every day), cash goes a lot farther a lot faster than credit.

One of the main reasons for me to keep more cash on me, or at least staying in the habit of having a few bills on me at all times, is religion.  In La Regla de Ocha Lukumí (aka Santería—I wonder when I’ll stop feeling obliged to give the alternate, perhaps more common name), cash is customary for donations for any number of reasons, not least because it’s legal tender and proof of payment in itself.  When we establish the celebratory throne for an orisha, when we set up the drummers’ seats for a dance, even when we visit a priest’s house for their anniversary of initiation, it’s quite acceptable to leave a few dollars as a respectful donation (often in conjunction with an offering of fruit, flowers, candles, and so forth).  My checklist for going to an event now consists of making sure my whites are clean, I’ve got my offerings ready to go, and stopping by the ATM for a few extra bills.

One of the unusual things, however, is that there is a process for giving cash in the religion (always processes for everything, after all).  This one isn’t difficult; simply cross yourself with the money before dropping it into the basket/basin/jícara/etc.  Making the Sign of the Cross is a natural motion for many people in the religion, and it helps in sanctifying the donation with a holy reverence and respect.

Well, I didn’t realize how ingrained in me that habit had become until I went to a winery this past weekend.  The husband and I went to see one of his good friends play a gig there, and we got a bottle of fruit wine while we were at it.  It was a lovely, cloudy, pleasantly mild Saturday in early May, and we enjoyed ourselves (even through all the pollen).  Our friend, a guitarist and singer, had his guitar case opened up before his station, and a few people had already dropped some cash in there.  I followed suit to support our friend, so I reached into my wallet and—well, my first instinct was to cross myself with the money.  I laughed about it with my husband, and had to remind myself that this wasn’t a religious function and there’s no need to do that here, so I didn’t, and just dropped the cash in his case anyway.  I made a joke about it on Twitter, too (along with a few others).

But…well, I realized after the fact that maybe that wasn’t a habit I should suppress, and a few replies on Twitter had really brought that conversation to the forefront of my mind.  After all, we cross ourselves with the donation in a religious setting to sanctify the donation and show our respect to the ashé of the orisha or drummer or priest or whoever-else.  As an initiated priest in this religion, not only do I show my respect with this act, but I’m also blessing that offering on-the-fly with my action and intent for the sake of whoever-it-is.  It’s not just a show of support or well-wishing at that point, but a spiritual act to lend my grace, support, succor, and help to whoever-it-is, as well as a physical prayer made to express my hope for their grace, support, succor, and help in my own life, as well.  Such is the nature of blessings.

Could I have donated money as a spiritual act before initiation?  Absolutely!  That wasn’t something that was held off for me, especially given all my other practices going on.  But here’s the thing that’s slowly dawning on me in truly profound ways: I can never stop being a priest.  Yeah, intellectually I understood that; orisha live on my head now, and they see what I see and hear what I hear, not to mention seeing and hearing me at all times.  That’s one of the reasons why good conduct is paramount for initiates.  Yet, even in the little things, I don’t stop being a priest.  Why, then, should I not bless something when it’s already a habit for me to do so in an innocuous way?  Why would I not do what is essentially my job at a perfect opportunity just because the context is different from what I’d expect for my job?  I don’t have to be in the Ocha Room in order to work Ocha; Ocha is in me, Ocha is around me, Ocha is part of me wherever I go, whenever I go.  I do not stop being a priest, so why not act accordingly?

This isn’t, of course, about proselytizing or trying to force initiations onto others or try to sell orisha out on discount.  Priesthood is still something I’m coming to terms with and figuring out in all its emanations, but there are a few things I do know, and one of them is that I want to make the world better.  For myself, to be sure, but also for my loved ones, my family, my godfamily, my colleagues, my friends, my coworkers, my teachers, my students…everyone.  In a very real sense of Buddhist emptiness, we’re all in this together, because I can’t exist without you nor can you exist without me, so if I’m to truly do well, I need to make sure that you’re also doing well, as well, because, at its core, I can’t really cease suffering myself until all suffering is ceased.  Sure, there are ways I can prosper at others’ dire expense, but even an ounce of shame would keep me from really enjoying such wealth because it’s not justly earned; only if that wealth is justly earned, the exchange is fair, and everyone has at minimum what they need without worry is it a state I can enjoy.  Extend that notion, then, to everything, everywhere, and everywhen.  It is not true that everyone needs to be a priest to make the world a better place, but it damn well sure helps me in that undertaking.  I have the tools and, slowly, the techniques and the knowledge to work what I can for myself and for those in my world to make the world a better place, and I don’t have a reason to not do that, so there’s only one real choice: do it.  In a sense, it’s a kind of theurgy, no matter how small the individual acts are.  The Great Work isn’t done in a day, after all.

For anyone involved in spiritual practices, there is no reason to separate out the mundane from the spiritual.  Context and consent matters, absolutely, but if you have the chance to infuse a mundane act with a spiritual force in it, why not do it?  If nothing else, it’s practice, and can ensure your own success later down the line.  Ideally, doing so would make things better for the entire world with a simple act that sets of a chain reaction, even if it’s just a minor set of coincidences.  But for those who can give their blessing—and you don’t, strictly speaking, need to be a priest for that—why not give it freely at every opportunity?  If you can call upon the power of the dead, the gods, the elements, the angels, or whatever else it is you work with, why not back up your hopes and well-wishes for the well-being of others with the power that you can direct and work with, especially if it’s in the moment of a trivial action you were going to do anyway?

I have to admit, now I wish I had crossed myself with that money before I dropped it in our friend’s guitar case.  Lesson learned, then.  There are some habits that really should be kept up.

Compilation Paralysis

I’ve been on a compilation kick lately.  I mentioned in a recent post of mine about the Orphic Hymns that I’m compiling a personal temple text from a variety of sources because I don’t like having books in my temple room if I can avoid it; for instance, I have a copy of Dervenis’ Oracle Bones Divination that, up until quite recently, I’ve been using as my reference for astragalomancy, and have kept it with my shrines for the Greek gods.  This…makes me uncomfortable, so I transcribed all the necessary information from that into a personal ebook for me to keep a printout of instead.  Not only do I get to finally put the damn book back on the bookshelf after way too long, but I also get to reformat it, reorganize it, and include other information I want to reference, as well as tweak some of the translations for my own tastes.

Of course, one thing led to another.  I also included a few pages for grammatomancy, which also references a good chunk of my Mathesis correspondences to the letter, and because Opsopaus included the Delphic Maxims in his Oracles of Apollo book, I decided to include those, too.  Again, nothing too elaborate or in-depth; I have enough experience with these systems and the backgrounds and contexts in which they were written to not have to have all the extra information in a temple reference.  The final result is something I could be content with…except, of course, I wasn’t.  Given all the references to the other gods between grammatomantic correspondences to the zodiac signs and, by those, to the Greek gods (cf. Agrippa’s Orphic Scale of Twelve, book II chapter 14), I wanted to also have a section for the Orphic Hymns.  This is reasonable; after all, my personal vademecum-enchiridion-prayerbook has a number of them already transcribed, and while I won’t use all the Orphic Hymns in my practice, why not have a complete set for reference, just in case?  It wasn’t hard to find a copy of the Greek texts as well as the Taylor translations that I could simply copy, paste, and format for LaTeX’s customary needs.

But, of course, why stop there?  I also ended up adding Gemisthus Plethon’s hymns as well as those of Proclus, which I find useful for my Neoplatonic uses as well as my devotional ones.  And, if we’re going with devotions, I decided to also include a few prayers attributed to Hermes Trismegistus from the Corpus Hermeticum, the Asclepius, and so on, and because of those, I also wanted to bring in a few things from the PGM, which then became more than a few things from the PGM, and then I added in the planetary invocations from the Picatrix because those would be useful, too…

The ebook I was preparing ballooned from a simple reference for divination to a compendium of devotional and oracular texts.  Whoops.

But, yanno, I was hooked!  I wanted to bring in what I could, because it might be useful, whether in a devotion to the theoi or in divination or needing something to reference for meditation.  And, so, my penchant for completionism and perfectionism kicked in—hard—and I’ve been looking through my other references and books, trying to pick out useful prayers, invocations, rituals, and the like for my temple.  In effect, I was essentially making a typed-up version of my vademecum, with a different focus and with plenty more texts that I’m not accustomed to using.

This is all well and good, of course, assuming I could actually use the thing.  And in the form it was in, even in the form it had been in, it was quite plenty useful, and definitely satisfied my original needs of having a handy divination reference in my temple.  But since I brought in all these other things, I knew I wanted more, and because I wanted more, I also knew that it was incomplete.  And how would I tolerate having something be incomplete?  The idea is as distasteful as unnecessarily having books in my temple room.  Because it was incomplete, I didn’t want to print it out prematurely, especially with having to deal with page numbers or section enumeration, because if I wanted to add or fix something, I’d have to go back and reprint the damn thing for consistency, and even though I can get by by using the office printers once in a while for personal ends, I didn’t want to waste that much paper and ink.  Editing a text is one thing—I’m not opposed to using interim texts with scratched-in notes—but putting something on paper, especially printing something out, gives me a hard-to-achieve and yet so-satisfactory feeling of something being “fixed”, even if it is for my eyes only.  So, in order to make printing this thing meaningful, I wanted to make sure it was worthy and proper for printing.

It’s been over a month since I had the original problem of “I need a quick reference for divination”.  It’s also been over a month since I’ve had a workable, totally satisfactory solution for this problem, too, and yet I still haven’t fulfilled my needs.  Instead, I got caught up in a problem I call “compilation paralysis”: not wanting to proceed in some matter due to a fear of not having enough resources, options, or sources.

Some authors, especially those in academia or in teaching-types of writing, might know the feeling well, of not feeling like you have adequate source material to publish.  I have that same sensation, too, for my geomancy book-in-progress, knowing that there’s still so much more that might be included but…well, the benefits diminish after a certain point, and well before that, it’s probably better to cut out stuff that’s truly extraneous and unnecessary before adding anything more.  It does, in fact, help to start off with too much and cut down rather than having the opposite problem, and this is a habit I picked up in college for my research papers (getting down to the ten-page mark was a lot easier than trying to BSing and subtle-formatting my way up to it).  But, at the same time, consider the context: what these authors are dealing with is a single book on a single topic that is published for a single need.  Once that need is met, the book is (in theory, at least) publishable; further books can be written or new editions made with further appendices, but those aren’t strictly needed.  My problem, in this case, is dealing with something for me and me alone that needs to satisfy my sometimes-nebulous needs.

One of the reasons why I support people having a notebook or, perhaps even better from a utilitarian standpoint, a binder with written pages for their vademecum-enchiridion-prayerbooks or records of their prayers and rituals is because these are essentially living documents; as we grow in practice, they grow, too.  As we find new prayers, rituals, and correspondences, we add them in, organization be damned.  We can reevaluate the real use of these things we add, and reorganize what makes the cut, when we fill the first notebook and move onto the second one, as I did not too long ago.  These aren’t things that need to be polished, edited, or fixed in any way except what serves our needs in prayer and ritual, and as such, don’t need to be fancy, embellished, typeset, illumined, or otherwise made particularly fancy.  In fact, I have a personal fear of using those beautifully handcrafted, leatherbound, embossed, etc. journals I see floating across the internet and bookstores because I tremble at the thought of messing up such a beautiful work with errors or wasted paper; not only is my calligraphy not up to par to match the beauty of these books, but I find these things to be more appropriate to true works of devotion and love that are complete and refined unto themselves.  (I only speak for myself, of course.)

So, like, with my personal enchiridion, I don’t particularly care about making errors; there are scratchmarks, crossouts, and addenda all over the damn thing.  The important thing for me is not to waste space, so I try to be as efficient as possible cramming in as much information and references as possible into as few pages and lines as possible.  This is fine; after all, it’s my own personal thing, and nobody else needs to see or use it; besides, Moleskines can be expensive for such a notebook, even if they’re the perfect size to carry around (and fit in a Hyundai car manual leather case, I might add, which gives it extra padding and some extra utility, in case you wanted to try that out as a Moleskine bookcover).  The things I add to my enchiridion are a testimony to my growth and directions and shifts in focus I take in my practice, which I find is informative on its own.  The only important criterion I have for adding stuff to it, truly the only one, is whether something is going to be useful to me; if not, I’m not gonna waste the time writing it in or the ink to write it.

That’s what reminded me to get out of my compilation paralysis.  There’s no need to be scared or anxious about not having enough sources; if I need something later, I can just add it it.  It’s not like I didn’t already have these sources and there’s a threat of losing them; I’ve never needed a copy of the Homeric Hymns or the Nabataean prayers to the Sun or Saturn on hand when I didn’t already have my enchiridion or my copy of the Picatrix at hand, after all, so why should I be so worried about not having them in this temple reference?  I can always add new things into the overall document, print out the necessary pages, and just add them into the binder where appropriate.  It’s not that big a deal.  I know for a fact that I can always get this information should I need it, and if I haven’t needed it yet, there’s no harm to start off with that which I know I need right now and add stuff later.  I’ve got more than enough source material for what I need, anyway, and it’s more manageable to deal with two small binders than one massive one.

It’s a bitter pill for me to swallow, but even I have to admit it: none of us needs to know everything about our practices right out of the gate.  It might be nice, to be sure, but that’s also kind of the beauty of it, to let growth happen organically, especially if you’re in a practice that you’re developing on your own, as so many magicians and pagans are.  You don’t need full copies of the Homeric Hymns or Orphic Hymns in both Greek and English the moment you decide to build a shrine to one of the gods; you don’t need to know all the specific proportions of all the ingredients for the obscure incenses needed for all the planets from the Picatrix when you’re not even going to bother with a planet you’re going to interact with tonight once and probably not again for a few years more.  Part of the practice is just that: practice.  We do things, and then we do both more things and we do those same things more.  We learn, we accumulate, and we incorporate what we do into what eventually becomes our whole practice.  Part of that is necessarily finding more things to add and adding them at the proper time, as well as changing the things we do as we need to change them so as to keep doing them better or, at least, keep doing things better for our own sakes.  If we need to make emendations, do so at the proper time; you don’t know what would need them until you do or until they’re pointed out to you, and so much of that is based upon trial and error, experimentation and evaluation.  It’s not that big a deal.

There’s no need to worry, and there’s no cause for paralysis.  All you need to do is, simply, do.  Amend, fix, and add when you need to.  Don’t worry about trying to have everything ready for everything, especially when you don’t know what “everything” consists of.  Relax, then Work.

Mathetic Year Beginning Mismatch, and a Revised Grammatēmerologion

Much like how I recently encountered one devil of an author having put something out for public use (though it turned out to be a complete non-issue), now I’m facing another one, this time a lot more serious for me.

So, here’s the issue I face.  I have this thing called the Grammatēmerologion, a lunisolar calendar system that allots the letters of the Greek alphabet to the days, months, and years in a regular, systematized way.  I developed this system of keeping track of lunar months and days for my Mathesis work, a system of theurgy based on Neoplatonic and Neopythagorean philosophy and practices in a Hermetic and loosely Hellenic framework largely centered on the use of the Greek alphabet as its main vehicle for understanding and exploring spirituality.  Not only can the Grammatēmerologion be used as a system of calendrical divination a la Mayan day sign astrology (or tzolk’in), but also for arranging for rituals, festivals, and worship dates in a regular way according to the ruling letter of the day, month, and (rarely) year.  Sounds pretty solid, right?  I even put out a free ebook for people to use and reference, should they so choose, just for their convenience in case they were curious about the Grammatēmerologion for their own needs.

However, this isn’t the only system of time and timing that I need to reference.  In reality, I’m dealing with two cycles: one is the calendrical cycle of the Grammatēmerologion, which starts a new year roughly at the first New Moon after the summer solstice, and the zodiacal cycle that starts at the spring equinox.  The fact that they don’t line up is something that I noted rather early on, yet, passed off easily as “well, whatever, not a big deal”.  However, the more I think about it and how I want to arrange my own system of rituals and ritual timing, the more I realize that this is actually a big deal.

Let’s dig into this a bit more.  Why does the Grammatēmerologion start at the first New Moon after the summer solstice?  This is because the Grammatēmerologion is loosely based on the old Attic calendar, which had the same practice; for the Attics and Athenians, the new year started with summer.  Why did I bother with that?  Honestly, because the system seemed easy enough to apply more-or-less out of the box, and there is a rather convenient solar eclipse on the summer solstice in 576 BCE that would serve as a useful epoch date, this also being the first time the Noumenia coincided with the summer solstice since the stateman Solon reformed Athenian government and laws in 594 BCE.  I figured that this was a pleasant way to tie the Grammatēmerologion into a culturally Greek current as well as tying it to an astronomical event to give it extra spiritual weight.

However, by linking it to the summer solstice, I end up with two notions of “new cycles”, one based on this lunisolar system and one based on the passage of the Sun through the signs of the Zodiac.  The zodiacal stuff is huge for me, and only stands to become even bigger.  While there can truly be no full, exact match between a lunisolar calendar (Grammatēmerologic months) and a strictly solar one (Zodiacal ingresses), having them synced at least every once in a while is still a benefit, because I can better link the Noumēnia (the first day of the lunar month) to an actual zodiac sign.  This would give the months themselves extra magical weight, because now they can officially overlap.  Technically, this could still be done with the Grammatēmerologion as it is, except “the beginning of a cycle” ends up having two separate meanings: one that is strictly zodiacal based, and one that is lunisolar and slapped-on starting a full season later.

The issue arises in how I plan to explore the Tetractys with the letter-paths according to my previous development:

The plan was to traverse the 10 realms described by the Tetractys according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, using twelve paths associated with the signs of the Zodiac, starting with Bēta (for Aries).  This would be “the first step”, and would indicate a new cycle, just as Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac and, thus, the astrological solar year.  Pretty solid, if you ask me, and the cosmological implications line up nicely.  Except, of course, with the notion of when to start the year.  If I really want my Grammatēmerologion system to match well as a lunisolar calendar for my needs, then I’d really need to make it sync up more with the Zodiac more than it does, at least in terms of when to start the year.  So long as the Grammatēmerologion calendar has its Prōtokhronia (New Years) within the sign Aries, this would be perfect, because then I could give, at minimum, the first day of the first month of the year to the first sign of the Zodiac.

So, there are several solutions that I can see for this:

  1. Set the Prōtokhronia (New Year) of the Grammatēmerologion to be the first New Moon after the spring equinox, using the first occurrence of this time after the original epoch date of June 29, 576 BCE.  This would put the first Noumenia of the most recent cycle 69 on April 15, 2010, though the epoch date would remain the same; we’d simply shift what letters would be given to what months.  This would be the least change-intensive option, but it causes all significance to the epoch year to vanish and seems like a giant kluge to me.
  2. Set the Prōtokhronia of the Grammatēmerologion to be the first New Moon after the spring equinox, using a new epoch date where a solar eclipse occurred up to two days before the spring equinox so that the Noumenia coincides with the equinox, hopefully in a year wherein something meaningful happened or which fell within a 19-year period (one Metonic cycle) after a moment where something meaningful happened.  There are very few such dates that satisfy the astronomical side of things.
  3. Reconfigure my own understanding of the flow of the Zodiac to start with Cancer (starting at the summer solstice) instead of with Aries (spring equinox).  This…yikes.  It would leave the Grammatēmerologion system intact as it is—even if at the expense of my own understanding of the nature of the Zodiac (which bothers me terribly and would go against much of well-established education and understanding on the subject) as well as the letter-to-path assignment on the mathetic Tetractys (which doesn’t bother me terribly much, since I still admit that it’s still liable to change, even if it does have a neat and clean assignment to it all).  This is the least labor-intensive, but probably the worst option there is.
  4. Leave both the Grammatēmerologion and zodiacal cycles as they are: leave the Grammatēmerologion to continue starting at summer and the zodiac to start in spring, and just deal with the mismatch of cycles.  This just screams “no” to me; after all, why would I tolerate something that causes me anguish as it is without any good reason or explanation for it, especially in a system that I’m designing of my own free will and for my own needs?  That would be ridiculous.

Based on my options above, I’m tempted to go with establishing a new epoch for the Grammatēmerologion to be set at a solar eclipse just before the spring equinox, with the Prōtokhronia set to coincide with the spring equinox itself.  If I want a reasonable epoch date that goes back to classical times or before…well, it’s not like I have many options, and comparing ephemerides for spring equinoxes and solar eclipses (especially when having to deal with Julian/Gregorian calendar conversions) is difficult at the best of times.  Here are such a few dates between 1000 BCE and 1 BCE, all of which use the Julian calendar, so conversion would be needed for the proleptic Gregorian calendar:

  1. March 30, 1000 BCE
  2. March 30, 935 BCE
  3. March 28, 647 BCE
  4. March 27, 628 BCE
  5. March 27, 609 BCE
  6. March 27, 563 BCE
  7. March 27, 544 BCE
  8. March 25, 294 BCE
  9. March 25, 275 BCE
  10. March 24, 256 BCE
  11. March 24, 237 BCE

As said before, the Attic-style summer-starting Grammatēmerologion has its epoch in 576 BCE, the first time that the Noumenia coincided with the summer solstice (and immediately after a solar eclipse), and the first such time either happened following Solon’s reforms in Athens.  The date that would most closely resemble this for a Mathetic spring-starting Grammatēmerologion would have its epoch in 563 BCE, only a handful of years later.  In the proleptic Gregorian calendar, this would mean that we’d start the epoch on March 21, 563 BCE, with the Noumēnia falling on the day after, the first day the New Moon can be seen and the first full day of spring.

On its face, this would seem to be an easy change to make; just change the epoch date and recalculate everything from there, right?  After all, I have all the programs and scripts ready to go to calculate everything I need, and since we know that a full grammatēmerologic cycle is 38 years which would get us to basically the next time the New Moon happens just after the spring equinox, we know that we’d currently be in cycle 68 (starts in 1984 CE).  Except…the spring equinox in 1984 occurs on March 20, and the New Moon occurs on…April 1.  That’s quite a large drift, much larger than I’d expect.  So I investigated that out and…yeah, as it turns out, there’s an increasing number of days’ difference between the spring equinox and the following New Moon over successive cycles.  I forgot that the Metonic cycle isn’t exact; there is a small amount of error where the lunar cycle shifts forward one day every 219 years, and between 1984 CE and 563 BCE, there’re 2550 years, which means a difference of just over 11 days…which is the number of days between March 20 and April 1, 1984.

And on top of that, I had originally calculated my original epoch date for the Attic-style summer-starting calendar incorrectly: the New Moon should have been on June 17, 576 BCE, not June 29; as it turns out, I had misconverted 576 BCE for year -576, when it should have been -575 (because 1 BCE is reckoned as year 0, 2 BCE as year -1, and so forth).  I majorly screwed myself over there; not only is my epoch system not working for how the revised Grammatēmerologion should work, but the epoch for the original Grammatēmerologion was wrong, anyway.  Splendid.

So much for having a long-term classically-timed epoch, then.  Without periodically fixing the calendar alignment or using a more precise cycle, such as the Callipic or Hipparchic cycle which still have their own inaccuracies, there’s still going to be some drift that won’t allow for establishing long-term cycles how I originally envisioned.  I still want to use the 38-year dual Metonic cycle, but since there’s no real need to tie it to any historical period except for my own wistfulness, I suppose I could use a much more recent epoch.  The most recent time that a solar eclipse happened just before the spring equinox, then, would have been March 20, 1643 CE, putting us in cycle 10 that starts in 1985 CE (which would start on March 22, since the New Moon is on March 21, just after the spring equinox on March 20, which is acceptable), making 2018 CE year 33 in the cycle.  The next cycle would start on March 22, just after the New Moon on March 21, just after the spring equinox (again) on March 20.  Again, this would be acceptable.  The issue of drift would be more evident later on, say, in year 3277 CE, which would start on March 27, which is definitely several days too late.  We start seeing a stable drift of more than two days starting in 2213 CE, but looking ahead a few years, we can see that 2216 CE would have a Prōtokhronia start perfectly on March 20, the day of that year’s spring equinox.

So, here’s my method for applying corrections to the Grammatēmerologion:

  1. Establish an epoch where the Prōtokhronia starts on the day of or the day after the spring equinox.
  2. Grammatēmerologic cycles are to be grouped in sets of seven, which would last 266 years, after which the drift between the dual Metonic cycle and the solar year becomes intolerable.  (We could use six cycles, getting us to 228 years, but seven is a nicer number and the error isn’t always completely stable at that point just yet due to the mismatch between lunations and equinoxes.)
  3. After the end of the seventh grammatēmerologic cycle, start up a “false” cycle to keep track of full and hollow months, until such a year arrives such that the Prōtokhronia of that year starts on the day of or the day after the spring equinox.
  4. That year is to mark the new epoch, and a new set of cycles is established on that day.  (This leads to a “false” cycle of only a few years, none of which should be lettered as usual.)

Let’s just make this simple, then: forget about aligning the beginning cycles with a spring equinox tied to a solar eclispe, and just settle for when the Noumēnia is either on or the day after the spring equinox.  The most recent time a New Moon coincided with the spring equinox was in 2015 CE.  Knowing that the New Moon coincided with the spring equinox on March 20 that year, this makes the epoch date for this cycle March 21, 2015.  This means that we’re currently in year four of the first cycle.  While I’m not entirely thrilled about losing the whole equinox eclipse significance thing, setting 2015 as a cycle start epoch makes sense; after all, the whole system of Mathesis really could be considered to start around then.

However, there’s one extra wrench thrown into the works for this; I want to make sure that the Prōtokhronia always falls while the Sun is in the sign of Aries, so the Noumēnia of the first month of the year must fall when the Sun has already crossed the spring equinox point.  Because twelve lunar months isn’t long enough to ensure that, we’d need to ensure that certain years are full (13 lunar months) and other years are hollow (12 lunar months), and it turns out that the regular Metonic scheme that the old Attic-style Grammatēmerologion doesn’t ensure that.  For instance, the first year of a cycle, according to the Metonic scheme, is supposed to be hollow; if we start the first year off immediately after the spring equinox, then the second year will start off about two weeks before the spring equinox, so we’d need to change how the years are allocated to be full or hollow.  And, to follow up with that, tweaks also need to be made to the scheme of figuring out which months are full (30 days) or hollow (29 days) to make sure they stay properly aligned with the dates of the New Moon, while also not going over the Metonic count of 235 lunar months consisting of 6940 days.

So.  After a day or so of hastily plotting out lunar phases, equinox dates, and eclipse times, I reconfigured my scripts and programs to calculate everything for me to account for all the changes to the Grammatēmerologion, rewrote my ebook to document said changes, and now have a revised Grammatēmerologion for the period between March 2015 and March 2053.  In addition, I took the opportunity to explore a useful extension of the Grammatēmerologion system and the seven-day week to account for days of planetary strength or weakness, as well, and documented them in the ebook, too.  (Normally, there would be no interaction, but this is one that actually makes sense in how the powers of the letters of the day are channeled.)

Download the revised Grammatēmerologion (March 2015 — March 2053) here!

I apologize for the confusion, guys.  Even though I know few people are ever going to take this little pet project of mine seriously, I regret having put something out that was so broken without realizing it.  I’m taking down the old version from my site, and only keeping the new revised version up; if anyone is interested in the old copy (even with its flaws), I can send it to them upon request, but I’d rather it not be so freely available as it was.

Temple Room Efficiency and Efficacy

Finally, I have a trash can in my temple room.  The joy and relief of this simple thing cannot be understated.

In recent weeks, I’ve been getting myself back up and working in the temple again.  It’s a slow build-up, but given the evidence of fancily over-done prettily-filtered photos of shrines and works I’ve put on social media lately, I’m building up for sure, getting reacquainted with the sacred and barbarous names of power I said in…god, what seems like another lifetime, pouring out libations of wine and oil, surrounding myself with clouds and tendrils of frankincense and myrrh and benzoin.  With each new act I perform in the temple, old doors I closed once a while back are opened up again, some slowly inch by inch and others flying wide open at the merest touch, giving me both reminders of things I once did and ideas for things that can yet be done.

And yet, I have to admit, the feel is different now.  Not just because of all the stuff that went on in the meanwhile between when I was templing it up every day, but also because the setting has changed.  I have a much larger, more proper space for temple work in a newer house than where I was living before, which is pleasant, but it hadn’t yet strongly sunk in how different the procedures have to change along with it.  I’m no longer across the hallway from the bathroom for quick water access and feet away from the kitchen, but in a basement room underneath the house.  I no longer have a window facing a field where I can just dump old offerings out from; in fact, I have no windows in the basement room at all.  Though I may have all the constituent parts of my temple supplies and shrines there, it necessitates a completely different system.

And one of the most important things I lacked—until very recently, at least—was a trashcan.  All I had was a simple bag on the floor by the door, which looked tacky and felt off to me, and wasn’t at all convenient for all the cleanup I was doing and constant maintenance of cleaning off surfaces, emptying old tealight tins, throwing away soaked cottonballs or paper towels, or the like.  I didn’t need a trashcan in my temple room for spiritual purposes in and of itself (although there are mysteries in the garbage, to be fair!), but I needed one so I could keep up my spiritual purposes throughout the rest of the temple room.  Being able to just walk a few steps over to dump incense ash or tealight tins or paper towels instead of looking around wondering where to put my debris without having to leave the temple space is a relief I have a hard time putting into words.

For similar reasons, I also bought myself a large pitchers.  It’s nothing fancy, just a simple 2L plastic pitcher like one might bring on a picnic, for the purpose of bringing water down.  From making khernips to washing out bowls to offering glasses of water to spirits, or having something to dump old amounts of water in for easy carrying upstairs to the sink, a pitcher was also something I wasn’t aware I needed so badly.  There were too many times I was caught off-guard and needed to head back upstairs to get to the faucet when everything else was ready to go, but a simple tool like this takes so much of a mental burden off my mind.

Having or running a temple, whether it’s a whole room or a single corner of a bookshelf, is more than just having a bunch of statues and cups established so nicely on shrines and altars, with candles lit and incense filling the airs.  There’s so much more to running a temple that necessitates constant labor and upkeep beyond spiritual obligations.  From organizing and reorganizing shrines, which involves making sure the surfaces and areas for them are physically and spiritually clean, to organizing and replenishing supplies in an orderly, clean, efficient way, there’s labor to maintaining a spiritual practice, both physical and mental.  The physical labor comes in in just keeping things clean, refreshed, and able to be used, and the mental comes in for knowing how to organize, structure, and arrange everything so that nothing, neither schedules nor shrine placement nor sacred substances, conflict with each other.

When you do have your own sacred space, whether it’s a part of a room, a whole room, or more than one room, it’s good to keep your supplies organized and have the right supplies and tools you need, and you have the access to the things you need as well.  Consider the following questions for your own temple space, and see if you can make any refinements based on a few requirements:

  • What is the most convenient way to get water?
  • What is the most convenient way to dispose of liquid waste?
  • What is the most convenient way to dispose of solid non-perishable waste (i.e. candle remains, paper towels, etc.)?
  • What is the most convenient way to dispose of solid perishable waste (i.e. food)?
  • Where will you store generic supplies (candles, incenses, washes, waters, cleaning supplies, etc.)?
  • Where will you store tools when not in use?
  • Where can you sit, kneel, lie down, stand, move around, or have other people do the same in the temple space?
  • Where can others sit or otherwise wait when they’re waiting on being called into the temple space?
  • Will parts of shrines be used as storage, at least for the things relevant for those shrines?
  • How will you clean the temple space as needed?

Besides that, there are a few things I’d recommend to have on-hand, preferably in some sort of storage in the temple space, for any occasion:

  • Paper or cloth towels
  • All-purpose cleaner (dilute vinegar or ammonia works perfectly)
  • Trash can and bags
  • Sink and faucet, or a pitcher for easy carrying of fluids to and from the temple
  • Pen and paper
  • Lighters or matches
  • Chair
  • Extra small tabletop or small surface

I could go on about also having things like a bottle of this or that alcohol, a bag of this or that incense, and so forth, but these are all really and incredibly tradition- and practice-specific.  On the other hand, the stuff listed above is all-purpose for anyone and everyone, regardless of how you’re working, so long as you are.  It’s hard to do any Work if you can’t actually work, and we call it “work” for a reason.  Some people treat their temples like studies, but you don’t have to go that far; so long as you’re ready for tackling any of the mundane stuff that might happen, including your own forgetfulness or an accidental spill, you’ll be ready for starting the Work as well as keeping the Work moving once you start.