Reviewing the Trithemian Conjuration: What To Do Now That the Spirit Is Here

Where were we?  We’re in the middle of discussing the early modern conjuration ritual The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals (DSIC), attributed to the good abbot of Spanheim, Johannes Trithemius, but which was more likely invented or plagiarized from another more recent source by Francis Barrett in his 1801 work The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Many who are familiar with it either read it directly from Esoteric Archives, came by it through Fr. Rufus Opus (Fr. RO) in either his Red Work series of courses (RWC) or his book Seven Spheres (SS), or came by it through Fr. Ashen Chassan in his book Gateways Through Stone and Circle (Fr. AC and GTSC, respectively).  I’ve been reviewing the tools, techniques, and technology of DSIC for my own purposes as well as to ascertain the general use and style used by other magician in the real world today, and today we can move on to other topics  Last time, we discussed the actual ritual itself (finally).  If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

At this point, dear reader, you might be wondering “what the hell does this guy have left to talk about?”  I mean, after seventeen posts, you’d think I’d be running out of steam.  And you would be wrong.  Yes, it is true that we’ve talked about a lot—far more, really, than I ever anticipated talking about.  We’ve discussed the designs of all the implements needed for the DSIC ritual, how to make them regarding both physical components and spiritual influences, how to set up our temple and the altar, and we (finally) got to the actual ritual of DSIC, outlining all the individual steps, motions, gestures, and prayers to make in the course of the conjuration ritual attributed to the good Abbot Johannes Trithemius of Spanheim.  So, really, what else is there to talk about?

What we talk about next is the stuff that DSIC doesn’t talk about but necessitates thinking about.  It’s true that you could, dear reader, stop reading this series of posts at the last one, make all your tools to spec (or as close as an incomplete, mishmash text like DSIC can permit such specs), and be on your merry way with conjuration.  And many people have done just that with Fr. RO’s RWC and SS as well as Fr. AC’s GTSC, and yet, I still get questions on “what do I do next?”.  There are a number of gaps in DSIC, and what we’ll talk about in these last few posts is the stuff that DSIC wouldn’t, couldn’t, or just didn’t discuss.

First up?  What to actually do with a spirit once you’ve conjured it.  Let’s say you’ve gotten all your tools together, put your temple and altar together, and launched into a conjuration of a spirit.  Surprise surprise, the spirit shows up, and it passes your questions of authentication and gives its oath to you.  In the time you have allotted with the spirit…what do you even do?  Well, I’m not you, dear reader, so I can’t tell you what to do.  You obviously must have had some reason to go through the trouble of putting everything together, memorizing all those prayers, and saying them at the right time so as to bother one of the spiritual executives of the corporation that is the cosmos to show up to your humble rock-based abode.  I’m not here to tell you what to do, nor how to go about it; I presume, if you’ve gotten this far, that you generally have a notion of what you’re doing.  Unless I’m your official mentor or godparent, I won’t assume that I can take the role of one, and so I can’t tell you what to do.

But I can tell you what you could do.

However, before we get there, let’s start off with some general advice first on conjurations generally:

First: be polite.  You’re engaging with some of the highest, biggest, strongest, oldest, smartest powers in the cosmos, entities that have existed long before the first human ever was and will be long after the last human ceases to be.  They see more, know more, do more, and are more than you know or could ever possibly know.  The vast majority of these entities we typically conjure are not human, nor have ever been human, and are thus fundamentally of a different essence and nature than you have any frame of reference for.  It’s a lot like Wittgenstein once said “If a lion could speak, we couldn’t understand him”—and many of these entities have many more and much sharper teeth than any lion.  Be humble, polite, grateful, reverent, honest, and straightforward.  Don’t try to be sly, cunning, wicked, deceptive, or trifling.  You have the full attention of a massive shard of Divinity Itself, present literally right before you and with you; act accordingly.  They came because you are a child of Divinity yourself, and if you carry yourself with dignity and authority that is your birthright as a human being, they will be willing to work with you and not against you, but do not think to abuse or misuse them.  And if you haven’t read my two posts on what to do when God says “no”, then read them here and here before continuing.

Second: always take notes.  If you can, have someone scribe for you; otherwise, once the angel is present and there’s no need to be intimidating or controlling of the situation, put down the wand and pick up the pen.  Record everything, the questions you ask as well as the answers they give, whether in the form of words or images or sensations.  Write down not just the date and circumstances and spirit of conjuration, but write down whatever they tell you or reveal to you.  If you can, go into the conjuration with a list of questions with blank spaces ready to go to fill in.  If your writing is shit, bring a laptop to type notes on, or get a voice recorder and record yourself—and be sure that you say aloud whatever it is you say, and repeat whatever it is they tell you.  Communication works best when you actually communicate: let breath and voice actually cross your lips.  The spirits, after all, are truly, physically present with you in one sense or another; treat communication with them as you would someone across a (very formal) dinner table from you.

Third: before you close out the conjuration, ask a simple question: “is there anything you would have me know, learn, or do at this point in time and at this point in my life?”  I find this to be an extraordinarily helpful thing to be the last thing you do, at least when it comes to the cosmic entities (like planetary or elemental angels).  It’s often the case that there are many things that we want to know, do, or become, but we, as finite, ignorant, dim, short-sighted mortals don’t have the foresight or mental acuity to think of or be aware of.  By giving the spirit we conjure an open-ended question like this, we open the field up to them and allow them, in their wisdom and awareness that far exceeds our own, to fill in ours when we don’t know what needs filling in.  Further, based on that, whatever it is they tell you (or not) can open things up for other questions or requests that you might make of them that you weren’t aware you should have asked before this point, or it can give you things to work on and call upon them for when you need their help outside of conjuration.

Fourth: by receiving their oath at the beginning of the conjuration, whether or not it’s your first time conjuring into them, you have effectively received their help for good.  This is especially the case after the end of the first conjuration, for when you give them the license to depart, you also get their oath to return to you “when [you] call [them] in His name to whom every knee bows down”—and that’s whether or not you call them in the context of a conjuration.  Just as you shouldn’t call them down in vain or discuss things vainly with them while they’re present with you, do not call them in vain, even as a joke from then on.  They will come when you call them.  If the bond you form is strong enough, dedicated enough, and sincere enough, then you may only ever need to do one formal conjuration of them, with everything else being relatively informal without nearly as much rigamarole or hullabaloo—but confirm this with the spirits before they go to make sure that they agree to that, or whether they prefer you to call on them formally.

Fifth: sometimes, the spirits we call upon by name and seal might not like that specific name and seal that you use.  Sometimes the spirit might find the names and seals in the grimoires to be distasteful or inappropriate, sometimes they just don’t like them, sometimes they see that you have a specific need for a specific name and seal in your own specific lifetime.  If a spirit gives you a different name or seal to use, use it from then on; that’s your own personal connection to the spirit, and not to be shared with others.  Use what they give you from the moment they give it to you, or as directed to use it by them.  If you want, clarify with the spirit why you’re receiving this specific name and seal, what the limitations of its use are (time? function? place?) and what purpose it would serve for you instead of the name and seal that you were already using.  Afterwards, make a new lamen with that name and seal, using the usual magical timing and consecration methods as desired.

Sixth: sometimes a spirit doesn’t have a seal that we can use.  For instance, when conjuring the four elemental angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, we need to remember that, even though the names might be the same for some of these spirits, their office is not (e.g. Michael of the Sun vs. Michael of Fire), and for all intents and purposes, these should be treated as different spirits (even if they are fundamentally “the same” spirit).  If you don’t have a seal for the spirit, use a sigil instead; use the Rose Cross sigil generator, use a planetary magic number square sigilization method, use the AIQ BKR method, or just combine the individual letters of a name into a single glyph.  Something is better than nothing, and the spirit will still respond to it—but they will give you something that they’ll respond to better, if you but ask.  If you can’t figure out how to make a sigil out of a name, you can go in with a lamen that just has a name on it, but it’s better to go in with something rather than nothing.

Seventh: don’t stress about the conjuration.  You don’t need to force yourself to imagine the presence of a spirit; if it’s there, it’ll make itself known.  If you have a hard time perceiving the spirit (and it always helps to practice spiritual perception through psychometry training), ask for its help in opening up your eyes, ears, mind, and all your senses of perception to better attune yourself to it and it to you.  In doing so, you’ll be able to bring yourself more into alignment with the spirit, “get” it better, and receive whatever you can from it with better grace and dignity and ability to process it all.  Don’t worry if you can’t get a strong connection yet; keep trying, and you’ll build that power up over time.  You don’t need to aim for full-on physical manifestation on your first go; whether or not that’s an aim of yours, we all need to start somewhere.  And learn how to interpret information in any sense you get: if all you feel are changes in pressure, changes in temperature, sensations of motion, or weird tastes on the tongue, go with it and “translate” it as best you can into a sensation or perception that you can actually plumb.  Learn how to speak the language of the spirits themselves using whatever tongue you have—whether or not it’s the one in your mouth.

Eighth: spend time afterwards integrating the experiences of the conjuration. There are times when interacting with a spirit—learning from them, receiving initiations from them, bringing their presence and blessing into our lives, and so on—can induce nontrivial changes in our own human sphere of existence and reality, and it can be drastic at times.  Spend at least a few days (a week, a month even) after the conjuration noting what’s different, if anything, and certain patterns that may arise that weren’t there before.  Take care of yourself, because some of these changes can be harsh on you, ranging from problems with your health, romance, interpersonal communication, or emotional stability.  It’ll level out over time, but just be aware that some of these interactions can linger.  And take care to cleanse yourself of negative influences, but at the same time, you don’t necessarily want to banish all the influences together, lest you throw the baby out with the bathwater and undo the work that you need to be doing!

Beyond those bits of advice, the rest is just learning how to handle conjurations and interactions with spirit.  No two spirits are the same, and even spirits from the same sphere may interact with you in wildly different ways according to their specific nature, desires, function, goals, and needs.  It helps to study as much about the sphere you’re about to interact with generally and the spirit you’re about to conjure generally (if at all possible) in the days leading up to the conjuration so as to have at least a surface-level knowledge about the spirit, just the same way as you’d do well to learn about a company’s business audience, habits, and important executive names before you go into a job interview with them.  Agrippa’s Scales tables (book II, chapter 4 through chapter 14) are fantastic for getting a start on this.

Now, what about the stuff that you can do with spirits in conjurations?  Honestly, the sky’s (quite literally) the limit; unless you start asking for unreasonable or ungrantable things or unless you start to push up against the natures of the spirits you’re working with, there’s really nothing you can’t do with the spirit.  As for my suggestions, well, they’re only just suggestions; this should not be interpreted to be a sort of guide, course outline, model of progression, or anything of the sort, but just things I’ve done, have read about being done, or have seen or heard done with spirits in conjuration of this sort.  Some of this stuff may apply to you, some of it may not, so take it all with a grain of salt, but don’t be afraid to experiment, learn, and grow from your conjurations.  See what’s possible, and then see what’s possible because of that.

Soak in the energy of the sphere of the spirit. Assuming you’ve called on a presiding, governing, or otherwise high-up ruling spirit of a particular sphere or planet (or, even if it’s just a minor or subordinate spirit, the realm of that particular spirit as a fragment of a larger whole), this is a fantastic time to just sit and soak in the energies of that sphere.  By praising, lauding, and greeting the forces of that sphere, we enter into its good graces and can passively soak up the blessings of it, leeching out what ails us and encouraging our growth within it.  Ask the spirit to fill the temple space with the light, winds, sounds, songs, smells, airs, and presence of that sphere; sing the Orphic Hymns for that planet, pour out a libation (wine, whiskey, clean water, etc.), burn special incense for that sphere (whether the same incense you chose for that conjuration or above and beyond what you used), play music that can be associated with that sphere (Fr. RO is fond of using Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” series of orchestral pieces), and otherwise just get to feel that planetary force in abundance right then and there in the conjuration.  This can be thought of like a “sound bath” or “spiritual wash of the soul”, and is often a good thing to do if we’re calling upon that sphere for the first time.

Receive induction.  Previously I would have called this “initiation”, but that word can be confusing and can lead to some people getting the wrong idea about what’s going on, so rather, I’ll call this “induction”, being “led into” something by the spirit, as well as having the spirit “induce” changes in you.  This is effectively what Fr. RO does in his old Gates texts as part of the Green Work portion of the RWC, and also what he teaches in SS.  On top of just soaking in the blessing of that sphere as a whole, we ask the spirit to “open the gate” to lead us deeper into the mysteries and realm of that sphere, letting us enter into the power of that sphere so that the power of that sphere can enter into us.  By doing this, we receive a type of “spiritual initiation” (again, hesitant to use that phrase) directly from the spirit themselves, setting us on a path to allow us induce more of that planetary power in ourselves and allowing us to manipulate it within and without ourselves.  Combined with what’s essentially pathworking—consider this basically being taken by the hand to be led into the crystal where the spirit itself is—we scry not just the spirit from our perspective as a magician in a circle, but we scry the whole realm of the spirit from the perspective as a wanderer in a new land, and in effect, we essentially flip the conjuration on its head: we called down the spirit into the crystal from its realm, but we let the spirit take us through the crystal back into their realm.  In this case, the crystal serves as the physical gate, and the spirit opens the spiritual gate for us.

Make requests.  Requesting that the gate of the sphere be opened for us is just one type of many, many possible things that you can request from spirits, and let’s be honest: we call on spirits to get help in our lives with this or with that.  This is pretty straightforward: when a spirit is down whom you know you want or need help from, ask them for what you need, and specify what it is you need done, how you would want it done, under what conditions, and so forth.  Depending on the nature of the spirit and how you want to go about it, you probably won’t be able to issue commands, but you can make requests.  When you do so, be specific with what you’re asking for, and always expect that there’ll be something on your end you’ll need to fulfill as well.  If they say “no”, ask why; if they need something from you, see if it’s reasonable and in line with what you’re asking.  Sometimes you’ll need to offer payment of some sort, sometimes you’ll need to keep a promise or maintain a particular style of living, sometimes you won’t need to do anything at all.

Consecrate talismans.  You’re already likely working within a planetary hour (and, just as likely, within a planetary day) for a ritual, so why not use it for all possible purposes and take home a souvenir after the conjuration?  With the spirit called down, direct them to consecrate a particular talisman for you.  Work out with the spirit the purpose of the talisman, how it’ll be used, how it should be treated or maintained, what needs to be done with it, how it should be decommissioned and under what circumstances, and, if all is worked out, get to it: present the talisman, give the spirit the charge , sprinkle it with holy water, anoint it with a relevant oil, and suffumigate it with incense, letting the spirit fill it with whatever power it needs.  Of course, when it comes to planetary angels, this is often best done with the help of the planetary intelligence and spirit as well, and if they’re not present for the consecration, then we’d need some way to get them present, which leads to…

Chained summoning.  While we discussed how to fill in lamens for getting a number of specific spirits under their president or governor or ruler earlier, that’s not the only way to get subordinate spirits present to the circle.  So long as the primary spirit you’ve conjured has the authority to do so, once they’re present, ask them to bring other spirits as you might need.  What we’re doing is plying the hierarchy of spirits to bring along other spirits as we need to the conjuration so that we have as much support as we might need for the purpose of the conjuration.  This is where knowing your spirits and godnames from Agrippa and other qabbalistic references can help, and helps give a well-rounded power to your consecrations and works with spirits, because each spirit has a particular benefit or function to play.  For instance, in the planetary framework I work within, while you can do what you need to consecrate a Saturn talisman with just the presiding angel of a planet (Tzaphqiel of Saturn), it also immensely helps to have the intelligence there (Agiel of Saturn) in order to properly guide and instruct/construct/form the channels by which the talisman can be spiritually built up, as well as the spirit there (Zazel of Saturn) to actually provide the raw power and force of that planet.  Conceiving of the spirit as being under the authority and guidance of the intelligence, and the intelligence under the angel, and the angel under God, as well as understanding that spirits we conjure aren’t necessarily bound by the laws of locality like we are (i.e. they can be in multiple places at once), we can issue a series of requests within a hierarchical framework to bring the whole party together without necessarily letting the spirits depart until we give the license to depart at the end of the conjuration (just remember to give the license to depart to all the spirits you bring together in the conjuration in this manner):

In the name of God, YHVH Elohim, o Tzaphqiel, bring forth Agiel, the intelligence of Saturn, and Zazel, the spirit of Saturn, here to this place and now at this time!

In the name of YHVH Elohim and by the authority of Tzaphiel, the angel of Saturn who presides over you, do I call upon you, Agiel, o intelligence of Saturn, to be with me, here at this place and now at this time!

In the name of YHVH Elohim and by the authority of Tzaphqiel, the angel of Saturn, and the guidance of Agiel, the intelligence of Saturn, who preside over you, do I call upon you, Zazel, o spirit of Saturn, to be with me, here at this place and now at this time!

Ask for a familiar spirit to be assigned to you from that sphere.  While we can simply work with the big names from the grimoires—the planetary angels and intelligences and spirits, the elemental angels and the kings and the princes, and so on and so forth—there are an uncountably infinite number of spirits out there, and we can learn more about some of them by asking to be put into contact with them.  Something I’ve found to be extremely worthwhile is, when you have the presiding/governing/ruling spirit of a particular sphere called down, is to ask the presiding/governing/ruling spirit of a sphere to go forth and bring forward a lesser, subordinate spirit from that sphere to act as your own personal familiar of that sphere, a spirit who can help, assist, guide, and empower you in the ways that are specifically proper and best for you in your life for the work you need to do.  Issue a chained summoning request as above, and when that familiar spirit is presented to you, get to know them as you would any other spirit: get their name, get their seal, get their image, get their oath to come when you call, get to know when you can call upon them (making it more convenient for you than otherwise), and get to know them, what they like, what they can do, what their functions and purposes are, and the like.

Receive feedback.  As finite, short-sighted, and mortal as we are, we are not always the best judges of ourselves when it comes to our own spiritual development—but the spirits certainly can be.  So long as the spirit is of a high-enough station and elevation to do so, ask them about your place in their sphere (because, even if we’re primarily earth-bound in this material plane of reality, we all have some presence and share in all the spheres above us): ask about how the force of that sphere is working within you, how well you’re integrating it in you life, what your blockages are, what your problems are, what you’re doing well with, what you’re not doing poorly with.  Get their guidance on how you can improve yourself in your life and in your world, and how you can better facilitate the powers of that sphere in your own life and in the world generally.  Listen to the spirits.  Get their guidance and feedback, get their support, and see what you can do both with them there present in the conjuration as well as outside the conjuration in your magical and spiritual life generally to improve on what needs improving, further what needs furthering, and maintaining what needs maintaining.

Now, all the ideas above are just that, ideas and suggestions for you to consider when you engage in conjuration of many of these entities that many people use with DSIC, whether you take Fr. RO’s approach through RWC or SS, Fr. AC’s approach through GTSC, or some other approach entirely.  I don’t mean to imply that the above is all you can do, and far from it!  What you do in conjurations of spirits is up to you, what you need out of the conjuration, and what you want out of the spirits.

Thing is, much of what we’ve been discussing up until this point has been focusing on a particular kind of spirit; most people that use DSIC focus on conjuration of the angels, whether planetary or elemental or stellar or natal or some other sort.  However, because DSIC isn’t strictly an angelic text, and because the text suggests that we can conjure other spirits, we should consider how we might go about that that and tweaking some of our prayers to accomplish it.  We’ll pick up on that next week.

On Psychometry, A Most Necessary Beginner Practice

Recently, someone came to me asking for a bit of help in contacting spirits.  This is one of the most concerning and troubling issues that most newbies and otherwise new practitioners to magical practices have, when you’re trying to contact spirits in some way and you just…aren’t getting anything.  Not just in conjuration, mind you, but any sort of spiritual contact: conversations, messages, dreams, hunches, tugs, any sort of signal that the spirits are listening to you and trying to talk to you as well.  Unless you’re naturally inclined to receive that sort of information, it’s not something that many people are just going to up and take to without some sort of practice or other means to “open your eyes”, so to speak.

When working with spirits for the first time, the best way to start is to just do the damn thing.  Go to their shrine, or build one for them yourself; light a candle and incense, make an offering of water or wine, say a prayer; time your work along planetary days and hours, lunar phases and mansions, or just whenever you feel like it.  However you want to do, just do the damn thing, sit down with your spirits, and have a chat, just like you would someone at a dinner table.  Use your actual words spoken aloud, not just said quietly in your head but loud enough for someone across a table to hear you.  From there, it’s just building up a relationship with your spirits, learning more about them, having them learn more about you, getting used to each others’ presences, and so forth.  But all of that can only work if there’s the possibility for such conversations to go both ways; it does neither you nor them much good if you’re the one doing all the talking and none of the listening, and I don’t mean just trying to shut the spirits down and drown them out.  If you can’t hear them talking back to you, then you’re not going to get anything useful done except by chance and hoping.  Without being able to hear what they have to say, you miss out on their advice, their needs, their wants, their stories, and their options for advancement for both themselves and yourself.

Being able to perceive spiritual information is crucial in building up spiritual relationships as well as interacting with and managing spiritual forces, so if you can’t perceive them, you’re not going to get particularly far in magic.  It’d be like trying to do intensive, deep-space astronomy without a telescope or cellular biology without a microscope: if you don’t have the means to perceive the information you need to process, you can’t process the information.  Unlike material sciences, however, the spiritual sciences don’t require tools as much as it does simple practice.  In a word, the practice and techniques of spiritual perception can be called psychometry, literally “soul-measuring”, but metaphorically “reading” the vibes, emotions, energies, and spirits of objects and places, whether animate or inanimate.

Some of the more advanced, wizened, or experienced practitioners out there reading this post may roll their eyes, thinking psychometry to be more entertainment and parlour trick than an actual spiritual practice or useful technique, but hear me out!  It’s precisely because it’s such a basic, parlour trick type of thing that it’s exactly why I recommend it as a spiritual practice for beginners.  It’s true that, once you start getting into some of the more meatier, esoteric types of practices that the excitement and on-its-own for-its-own-purpose of practicing psychometry quickly fades away, but it never goes away entirely.  Rather, once you get more advanced, you’ll likely think of psychometry like how you think of learning how to write or do basic arithmetic in elementary school: simple practices that, as adults, we never even think twice about because they’re so fundamental to so many things we do on a constant, ongoing, everyday basis, but are still fundamental and important all the same.  Psychometry is the practice of, and more importantly the acclimation to, spiritual perception; once you learn how to do it, it’s not the fact that you can spiritually perceive things becomes the focus of the work, but what it is that you can spiritually perceive.

I remember that it was my amazing sister (pole-dancer, Tarot-reader, astrologer, human designer, Tibetan Buddhist, chaos magician) who first introduced me to the notion and terms for psychometry itself.  She basically gave me a task: she took off one of her many rings, gave it to me to hold in my submissive hand, and told me simply to “tell me what you ‘get’ off this”.  That was it, so I…well, literally “put my mind to it”, focused my awareness on the ring in my hand, and…nothing.  I didn’t know what to do.  So my sister gave me one piece of advice that, I swear by all the gods above and below, has stuck with me in every single magical practice to this day:

“It’ll feel like you’re making it up, but you’re not.  Just do it.”

It’s another variant on “act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given unto you” or, in simpler terms, “fake it until you make it”, except that you’re not really faking it.  It just feels like you are, when you aren’t.

The idea behind psychometry is that you’re trying to perceive information through spiritual impressions, sometimes through physical contact but sometimes not.  You have to have an external source for it, and you have to be able to recognize it as external.  It’s like sight: you can’t see the light inside your eyes, because there’s nothing to see inside your eyes, but instead you perceive the light coming into your eyes from outside.  Same thing with hearing: you can’t hear what’s inside your ears, but the vibrations in the air that come into them.  Same thing with taste: you don’t taste your own tongue, but the sensations, flavors, and textures that come in contact with it.  The same thing goes for psychometry: you’re not trying to perceive your own psyche, but the psyche of things you’re reaching out to perceive.   The thing is, though, that this is a nonphysical process; unlike sight or hearing or taste, all this takes place strictly within the head for direct processing as opposed through a physical sense organ, and if you’re not accustomed to doing this, you don’t know what it is inside your head to process.

Our head is full of thoughts, images, ideas, dreams, and gods-know-what-else, but it’s important to remember that, unless you’re fully, totally, completely cut off from everything, whether by accident or by design, there is going to be a mixture of “your own stuff” and “other stuff that isn’t yours” in your head.  Knowing what’s what is the key to recognizing spiritual impressions; if you know that something isn’t coming from your end, but it’s still in your head all the same, then that means that it’s something coming into your head as an impression, information, message, or clue that something spiritual is happening and your head is trying to process it.  Most people in our modern world, however, don’t know how to make this distinction, and wrongly think that everything in their head is their own thoughts.  It really isn’t, but learning how to distinguish between what thoughts are yours and what thoughts aren’t can be difficult.  Meditation certainly helps with this, both for the ability to be aware of the thoughts that arise in your head (whether your own or not) as well as picking up on the patterns of your own cognition.  For instance, as you begin to pick up on your own thought-patterns, you’ll have a sense of “where” your own thoughts come up in your head, “where” your own head-voice talks from, what your own thoughts “feel” like as they arise and dissipate, what the tracks of your trains of thought “feel” like as you latch yourself onto them, and so forth.  When you feel a thought or voice that comes from an entirely different, unusual, or distinctly weird part of your head, there’s a damn high likelihood that that’s not you, but spiritual information coming in to be processed.  That’s all spiritual perception is: picking up on the thoughts and sensations, the images and emotions arising in your head not your own.

That’s what my sister meant when she said that “it’ll feel like you’re making it up, but you’re not”.

So I tried psychometry again on the ring she gave me, and rather than putting all my awareness on the ring itself, I simply relaxed and let myself connect with the ring, and let myself be aware of what was happening in my head.  I saw an image of my sister sitting at…a desk, in a bland, pale white room with a delicately messy bed in it, opposite the window with the blinds let down to block out the sunlight, with the lamp on her desk on, with her looking down at the desk with a focused, almost frustrated look on her face, her hand supporting her forehead.  I…felt like I was trying to come up with an image wherein she would be using the ring, like I was inventing a scene for this thing, but it…it didn’t feel like I was at the same time, because the thoughts didn’t feel like they arose in the same way as if I were actively imagining something on my own.  Saying this, both the scene I saw and my feelings about how it felt, my sister cheered me on; not only did I accurately describe her bedroom and workspace and how she often works when she’s writing or taking down notes, but I picked up on the key to distinguish exactly what she meant by her advice.

Starting from this, I practiced psychometry every now and again, sometimes asking a friend for their keys they always had on them, or holding their cell phone they’d often use for business, or picking up discarded pieces of jewelry on college streets after a weekend of partying.  Yeah, I definitely used it as a parlour trick to spook and impress my friends, but it served as an excellent way of validating that I’m actually Doing Something, and that I’m Doing Something Right; that sort of validation is huge to reinforce that you actually do have the skill and are able to perceive things spiritually.  Not only that, however, but when I spoke to my sister about how things felt and the types of images I got, I learned something equally as important: not everyone picks up on the same things the same way.  For instance, I get better spiritual information through psychometry about the context, the activities people do and where they do them, while my sister gets more about emotions and things spoken.  At some level, what we’re picking up on becomes equivalent, it’s just that we’re taking different routes and approaches to get there.

Another thing to bear in mind, though, is that not everyone perceives information the same way, either.  For instance, it’s common to say that we “see” something spiritually, but note how we’re using a physical sense to act as a metaphor.  For most people, it’s not really a metaphor; they actually are interpreting spiritual information through sight, or at least through visual imagery in their head.  However, not everyone is gifted with spiritual “sight”, but instead have another go-to sense.  Some people are better at spiritual “hearing”, others sensations of smells or pressure or temperature changes.  For myself, my main spiritual go-to sense is taste; information comes across most immediately and most naturally to me through sensations of flavor, texture, mouthfeel, and heaviness just like I would be tasting food or waste.  In some cases, this comes across in physical reactions or reflexes; I might lick the roof of my mouth or my teeth if something “feels” sticky, or I might retract my tongue if something “feels” sharp or bitter.  I get a literal “taste” for how people feel spiritually, and can evaluate their physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health through how sour, bitter, salty, sweet, savory, gritty, smooth, spiky, fresh, or rotten they “taste” to me.

I know that I’m kind of an oddball in that regard, but it goes to show that if you’re failing at “seeing” stuff in your head, don’t despair!  Consider that you have so many other senses to rely on: hearing, taste, smell, pressure, temperature, movement, and so forth.  Any one or more of these might be how your head processes spiritual information first: perceive first with what’s strongest, then use that information to “translate” it into something more complete.  For instance, if I take a look at someone and find that they taste “unpleasantly sour”, like an old lemon that’s been left ripped open overnight in the fridge, I’ll let my tongue roll around in my mouth and weigh how that feels, and how it reacts to my own body and my own notion of what people should “taste” like; it processes in such a way that, to me, it smacks of dehydration, unresolved anger or emotional baggage, a bit of fatigue, wanting to be left alone, stress leading to the beginnings of physical problems, not taking care of themselves properly, and so forth.  Once I get that basic set of information, I can then put it through my spiritual “translation” process of sight, hearing, and so forth to get a complete mental/spiritual image of the person that goes well paste how they taste.  So, just remember: if everyone else is saying “see”, for you it might be “hear”.  Don’t consider it a failing; consider it something to work on eventually while you rely on what’s strongest for you to do the same damn thing.

With that, that’s basically…yeah, that’s basically psychometry in a nutshell.  As for developing further psychometry skills, start with small objects, trinkets and jewelry and charms and keys, then slowly work your way up to bigger things, like pieces of furniture, computers, cars, houses, trees, boulders, mountains, plots of land.  Work at first by using your submissive hand to take in the information, then work with both hands, then either hand, then eventually no hands at all.  Work with friends and people you trust to get validation on what it is you perceive.  Meditate frequently to keep your mind strong and aware of thought-arisings, thought-dissipatings, thought-locations, thought-feels, and thought-patterns.  Try to expand your awareness to multiple things around you at once, try to sense connections between closely-related things, try to perceive an entire area at once, try to perceive things continuously, try to perceive things at a distance.  Being able to do these things is practice for dealing with spirits and energies that can’t be dealt with except through what is essentially applied psychometry.  Over time, psychometry will develop itself and cease to be its own thing, just like how writing or arithmetic used to be something you had to learn on its own, but now it’s just something you do as part of everything else.

It’s often asked by beginners whether there are any resources or books you could get to help with learning psychometry.  I mean…I guess?  Maybe under that name, even?  But I would ask, why bother?  It’s such a simple thing that I’ve done my best, and I think I’ve succeeded, in encapsulating in this simple post.  You can read about it all you want, but again, it’s such a basic and simple thing that all you need is practice, practice, practice.  Unless you’re naturally inclined or gifted to picking up and verbalizing such things, there’s nothing you can do to learn psychometry, or any method of spiritual perception, except to simply practice it and keep doing it.  You might get the information you’re supposed to get on the first go, or it might take you a dozen or three times.  Keep trying it.  You’ll get it, I promise.

It’ll feel like you’re making it up, but you’re not.

Beginner’s Practices

Recently, I’ve been getting more requests for consultations, which I’m happy to do for people.  (Yes, I charge, and you can find my rates on my Services page.)  Normally, people book a consultation for the purpose of an extended divination reading, where I do as many questions as time will allow and talk them through problems or offer advice as the situation calls for it.  However, a few consultations lately haven’t been anything of the sort, and fall under a type of consultory category that I personally love to do: ritual advice.  This is where, essentially, you ask me questions about practice, methodology, technique, or philosophy when it comes to magic and the occult, and I share with you my experiences, research, and the like, kind of like a 1-on-1 tutoring session.  I personally love doing this, since I typically learn as much from people as they learn from me, and we’re both better off for it.

However, I’ve also noticed that I’m seeing an uptick in the number of people who are new to magic and the occult asking for advice, like people who are in Fr. Rufus Opus’ new Seven Spheres classwork who want another view or advice from one of his other students.  Some are just studying on their own and want to know where to go or how they might accomplish something with a bare minimum of resources, while others are just wondering where to begin at all.  This is awesome and flattering, because even though I don’t consider myself a teacher (I’m still pretty damn new to this all myself as it is), I’d love to share my own experiences and lessons (sometimes learned the hard way) so that others don’t have to bungle things or get a slow start when they can hit the ground running.

For people who are utterly new to the occult, seeing all this stuff about grimoires and conjuration and sacrifice and Greek/Hebrew/Latin/Sanskrit/Egyptian terms and whatnot can be downright pants-shittingly frightening, not to mention bewildering.  I know that, when I first started, I was a little overwhelmed myself trying to figure out where to begin or what texts to read (assuming I could read them at all in modern English), but also what it is I should be doing to start.  That’s a crucial thing for a magician, and the line that divides an armchair magician from a practicing magician: what is it that you’re doing?  It’s all very well to rattle off the history of a particular incantation or memorize all the variations of the seals and designs from the Lemegeton Goetia, but if you’re not putting them to use, why are you doing this at all?  Magic should, in my opinion, be more than just a hobby of curiosity, but something that mixes a good way of living with a method of helping yourself and others in this world and all others.

Still, there’s a lot to do, and there’s always more to do even when you think you’ve done what you need.  So, if I had to suggest some basic practices that anyone interested in practicing magic or any spiritual way of life, what might I suggest?  Three things, all of which are pretty simple but which are endlessly profound and rewarding.

1: Learn two forms of divination.
You can’t figure out shit if you don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t always mean by talking with spirits.  Divination is an excellent way to get your foot in the door with magic; it’s how I got started, and this is my view on the subject.  Back in the day, I considered myself only a diviner and a seer, because I didn’t want to get involved with all that magic stuff.  I just wanted to see what was going on and help others make good decisions with new information they couldn’t get on their own; actually changing that stuff was out of my scope, as I considered it.  Then again, one thing led to the next, and I found myself researching what the planets and elements could be used for instead of just what they meant in astrology or Tarot, and the transition was so subtle that I became a magician without even really recognizing it.  Divination was the gateway drug for me, and it makes sense, because it helped inform me every step of the way, and still does as a matter of fact.

Now, I say that you should learn two forms of divination, if only to increase your skill set and to broaden your horizons.  These can be any two, but I recommend two different forms: a simple one that focuses on yes/no answers, and a complex one that can describe a whole situation at length and help provide detail as well as judgment.  The complex one is considerably easier to find in modern use: Tarot, runes, geomancy, astrology, I Ching, grammatomancy, astragalomancy, and the like are all good examples of what I mean by “complex divination”.  The easier one is more like child’s play and some diviners find it beneath them to just focus on yes/no queries, but at the same time, this is a vital skill to figure out.  Sure, you could use one divination system for both purposes, but I find it better to have two methods that complement each other.

Add to it, there’s an added benefit to learning two forms of divination like this.  The complex divination method you choose is excellent for understanding a whole system or situation when you need the guidance and detail that such a divination system can provide.  The simple divination method can be used for this, too, if a simple answer will suffice, but the real purpose I suggest the simple method is for communicating with spirits and discerning their will.  Having a yes/no method of divination, like chamalongos or coin tosses, is amazing to figure out how to proceed with offerings or rituals involving a particular spirit in conjunction with actually listening to them and getting the proper feeling of action.

2: Learn psychometry.
Psychometry literally means “measuring souls”, but it’s basically a fancy way to describe getting the “feel” or “vibe” off something.  It’s one of the first distinctly magical practices I picked up from my sister years ago while I was in college, a few years before actually getting into Hermetic stuff, since she’s more attuned to it than I am, but it’s turned out to be a valuable skill and one of the ones I recommend beginners to pick up ASAP.  Although the notion of reading the energy off objects seems simple and underneath some people, it’s one of the most vital skills a magician can develop, since it can be used in so many instances and is far more applicable than mere objects alone.  The point here is that you’re not just getting the impressions, charges, memories, and the like off of objects, but that you’re actually measuring the soul-stuff of a thing, and it doesn’t have to be tangible; in other words, you’re learning to sense magic itself.

The process of psychometry is simple: focus on a particular object, and figure out what it “feels” like.  How do you perceive the stuff in the object?  That’s really basically it; it’s no more complicated than touching something or coming into contact with it and getting information of the color, weight, temperature, or texture of an object, except that it doesn’t rely on the physical senses.  My sister’s advice for psychometry made a distinct impression on me and guides me to this day, not only in matters of psychometry but in pretty much all magical endeavors: “it feels like you’re making it up, but you’re not”.  The information pretty much pops up in your head, and to a less discerning mind, it would feel just like normal thoughts arising and coming and going.  The thing is, though, that these thoughts aren’t yours; they’re no more “your” thoughts than the sensation of your keyboard or phone in your hand is “your” sensation.  This is information, energy, spirit, presence, whatever that is simply coming in contact with your own sense abilities; there’s not much active practice to go with this, just like how seeing or hearing isn’t an active process but merely light or sound entering into your eyes or ears.

Now, once you get the hang of getting the feel or vibe off a particular object, it’s not a hard leap in any sense to go from small hand-held things to bigger things.  The size of the thing ultimately doesn’t matter, but what does matter is the power inside the thing.  (That’s what he said.)  The more something has been carried around, used, loved, or hated, the more power increases in the thing.  Animate things, like people and animals, naturally have a strong power in themselves, and one can detect how they feel or what they know but also how energy and power flows through and within them.  That said, I would recommend the following general process to practice learning psychometry:

  • Small objects (pebbles, jewelry, cell phones, writing utensils)
  • Large objects (cooking utensils, computers, cars, machines)
  • Places (graves, buildings, fields, forests, mountains)
  • People and animals

Not everyone will get the same type of vibe off an object.  My sister gets emotions and physical states (angry, happy, caffeinated, sweaty, etc.) off of objects, especially worn objects, but I get memories and impressions of place or use.  Some people will find that they get impressions or vibes in the form of colors or images, while others get sounds, yet others get temperature, and others just get pure thoughts or verbal statements arising in the mind.  This is important to recognize, since how you get impressions and sensations the best indicates how you best perceive magical presence and energy.  Not everyone will “see” stuff; I myself don’t have a strong psychic visual sense, but my psychic taste and smell are excellent, and I get the same information as others would but delivered in a different way.  I just have to translate them into the same ideas that others might get in a different “language”.

Just as it’s not a big leap to go from small inanimate objects to larger animate ones, it’s also not a big leap to go from tangible things to spiritual entities.  This is why psychometry is vital: the ability to perceive information spiritually is what we use to sense and detect spiritual presence, energetic flows, and the like.  If you can’t detect the presence of a spirit in conjuration, why bother calling them up?  If you can’t get a feel for where a strong place of power is, why bother tracking ley lines?  The ability of spiritual/energetic perception is vital for anyone who works with spirits/energy, since if you can’t perceive what’s going on, you won’t be able to react to it.

3: Meditate.
This is big, and even though I’ve listed it here last, it really should be first and foremost in everybody’s lives, and not just magicians.  Jason Miller, Rufus Opus, and any number of magicians, occultists, priests, monks, and spiritualists have gone on at length about the importance of meditation, so I won’t describe the nuances or details here, nor will I talk too much at length about why it’s so important.  But I will say this: meditation is the art and practice of understanding and working with your own mind.  If you don’t understand how your mind works, and if you don’t know how to react to your own mind’s actions (especially the involuntary ones), you won’t know how to best use your mind.  Seeing how your mind is literally the place where everything happens for you, if you don’t have a basic grasp of how to work with your mind, you won’t be getting far in anything.

Meditation is basically mental exercise.  I’m not talking about strengthening the logical faculties with puzzles or the emotional ones with empathy, but strengthening how your mind itself acts underneath any other action.  The mind is crucial to everything we do.  Writing a novel?  You’ll want to organize your thoughts and focus on the story.  Coding a program?  You’ll need to form a clear design and take into account abstract and obscure exceptions.  Working in retail?  Keep your cool with people and don’t try to let them influence you when it’s your job to influence them.  Running a marathon?  Don’t let your body dissuade you from completing your goal with pessimism despite it being within your body’s ability.  Literally everything we do, from thinking to planning to seeing to hearing to wanting to getting to creating and beyond, takes place in the mind.  If your mind isn’t strong, you don’t have a strong foundation to build great things.

There are so many ways to meditate and any number of traditions have ten score more methods to do so, but I’m a fan of the simplest and most bare-bones way:

  1. Sit comfortably.  Wear relaxing, non-constrictive clothing and sit in a way that allows you to maintain focus without getting sleepy or sore.
  2. Observe your mind.  Just watch how thoughts come up and do their thing, but let them go on their own.  Let those random thoughts arise and fall without getting attached to them or following any train of thought.  If you realize you’re following a thought, become aware of it and let it go.
  3. Continue for a reasonable length of time.  If you’re just starting out, try five minutes.  Work your way up from there.
  4. Repeat daily.  You don’t need a lot of time for this, but I recommend it in the morning when you first get up before you even look at your phone.  If you want, try twice or more a day, but always regularly at least once.

You might get bored.  You might get distracted.  You might get worried or angry or sad or any number of things.  Good; let that happen and keep going.  I’m going to warn you: even the Dalai Lama sucks at meditation, and even the Buddha and the Christ themselves kept meditating because there was always more to do.  The thoughts that arise will, eventually, begin to slow down and relax until they stop arising entirely, even if it’s just for a split-second, and that’s awesome.  Over more time, those periods of thoughtlessness will continue longer and longer.  Over more time, those periods of thoughtlessness will themselves pass away into something deeper.

The more you meditate, the healthier you’ll be, both mentally and physically; you’ll be able to focus more, have a better grip of your emotions, direct your thoughts better, develop more complex thoughts more easily, manage your body and its voluntary and involuntary actions, remember more things that happen to you, and so much more.  Add to it, the spiritual benefits aren’t to be neglected, especially for magicians; with meditation, you’ll be able to understand what “your” thoughts are versus “something else’s” thoughts, which is crucial when spirits communicate with you (because there’s going to be a mental part of this, and if you can’t discern what they’re saying from what you say to yourself, you’re not going to get very far).  You’ll be able to discern what a thought is from a perception from an idea from a want from a need from a physical lust from an emotional attachment from a logical prerogative from a spiritual command.  You’ll be able to work with spirits better and develop other spiritual and psychic powers that you’ve only heard legends and myths about.  All from just sitting down and shutting up.

So what are you waiting for?  Go do your thing.  Experiment with what you like, read history, study techniques, talk with other occultists, take notes and journal entries, make a plan for what you want to accomplish, develop some crafting skills in a medium that catches your eye.  Conjure spirits, sacrifice to the gods, appease your ancestors, take an astral journey, go into the underworld, open your mind with entheogens, prophesy in the name of your patron, heal with energy and prayer.  For the sake of the gods, of the cosmos, and of your own self, just get to it!

Now Available for Occult Consultation!

In addition to my divination services, which you should totally spread the word about especially since you get free readings from doing so, I’ve decided to open myself up a little wider for full-blown spiritual and occult consultation.  I’ve experimented with this with Skype sessions for divination both with videochat and basic instant messaging, and I greatly prefer this to emailing back and forth for in-depth questioning.  The more I learn, after all, the more I’m able to share and teach, so I figure I may as well put it to good use for people on the Internet besides just my blog rambling.

So what might you ask about in such a consultation?  Really, just about anything related to the occult:

  • Tutoring on ritual and divination
  • One-off lessons on a particular topic
  • Advice for practice, lifestyles, and planning
  • Spiritual counseling and guidance

I’ve been getting some emails now and then when simply answering questions back-and-forth like that won’t cut it; either more hands-on or step-by-step guidance is needed, or I simply need to go in-depth where emailing isn’t the best medium for the topic.  To help out with this, especially since a lot of this is based in my expertise and education, I’d like to start doing Skype sessions with people who need such in-depth or at-length advice.

Since I started off doing divination consultations over Skype, I think I’ll keep the same format and timing in place: US$50 for a half-hour session, or $90 for a one-hour session (which is a 10% savings).  We’ll cut things off once the last question is asked or last point is made, so if it goes over a bit by a few minutes, it won’t count, but the sessions do need to be bought out in advance.  Once I get the payment notification, we’ll set up a time together and figure out what the topic of consultation is, and what (if anything) you should prepare for the consultation.  Once we start talking and the clock starts ticking, we’ll dig right in.  Payment links are below, as well as on the Services page.

Half-Hour Skype Consultation Session, US$50
PayPal Button: Half-Hour Skype Consultation Session

One Hour Skype Consultation Session, US$90
PayPal Button: One Hour Skype Consultation Session

For scheduling, I’m located in the Eastern US Time Zone, respecting daylight savings.  The best general times to nab me, with the occasional exception, are:

  • Wednesday afternoon
  • Friday afternoon
  • Saturday afternoon and evening
  • Sunday

Also, of course this is a good time to plug the paranormal investigation and spiritual consultation group I’m a part of, Bones and Stars.  For anything bigger than a one-person job, Bones and Stars is a good group to contact, and not just because I’m in it.  We’re a group of trained and experienced magicians, priests, and Workers who deal with any heavy case we find serving the mid-Atlantic region.  Drop us a line if you have something serious you need looked at or fixed.

Getting Burnt by the Stars, part 3: Causes, Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Gnosis

Getting burnt by the stars, or by magic in general, is an inherent risk in working with magic.  That doesn’t mean nobody should do it; it’s risky like a gamble is risky, or construction is risky, or cooking is risky.  Magic is a profession, something one has to constantly apply themselves to and gain expertise in, making their work their Great Work.  It’s tricky, though, and there’s always more ground to cover; one’s life’s work lasts as long as their life does, after all, and no matter how thoroughly one may think they know something, there’s always something more.

One of the things I mentioned last time was that, once you have your foot in the gate of magic, you leave enough room for yourself to slip into the world of magic and for magic to slip into your own world.  Magic isn’t always a benevolent, cheerful, happy, peaceful thing; there are demons, malevolent forces, sociopathic trickster spirits, and powers inimical to the survival of humanity out there.  There are things that would love nothing more than to see everyone and everything you come in contact to burn, shrivel, rot, and crumble just for the hell of it.  That shit’s bad, and you need to watch yourself when you get anywhere near them or connected to them.  You need to erect defenses to keep that stuff out and keep yourself safe.  But even that’s not enough, because even the good forces out there can suck, too.  If only the universe were convenient enough to have such a plain dichotomy as to simply be “good stuff helps, bad stuff hurts” without any further nuance, then I wouldn’t be writing this post.  Then again, I’m writing this post, so there’s more to it. 

There’s this notion that anything terrestrial or chthonic is bad and anything celestial or heavenly is good.  Since this series of posts is about getting burnt by the stars, let’s focus on and refute the latter idea.  The more astral dirt you accrue by tracking it in from the higher spheres, or the more dust you bring in from inviting higher ups down into your house, the more confused and imbalanced things get down here and up there alike.  When you work in any plane higher (or lower) from our current one, we track in critters and particles of stardust that, frankly, don’t belong down here and cause more harm than help.  It’s like wandering around the world and returning home: the further out you go, the stranger dust you accrue back when you’re home again, the more potential you have to bring in bedbugs, unusual toxins or pollen, or contraband that could easily get you arrested.  These innocuous things, belonging properly to their home areas, don’t belong in your home.  You may get good use out of what you went abroad for, and may have learned a lot besides, but sometimes you don’t just leave tracks and take pictures.

In a similar manner, when you work among the stars, you’re working with the raw forces of creation itself, along with their attendant gods, angels, spirits, and armies.  While generally beneficial, their notion of celestial benefice is not often correlated with humane benefice.  They have their own concerns, cares, needs, and tasks to carry out that can just as easily correlate with human needs and concerns as it can cross them.  Going to those spheres, getting the forces you need, and learning about yourself from those spheres is good, but the more you work in a certain sphere or with a certain kind of spirit, the more like that sphere and the more like those spirits you and your own sphere become.  In moderation, as in everything else, this is a good thing, but no more.  And while you may think you know exactly what you’re taking, you may not exactly be careful with what you wish for, and get just a little more than you bargained for.  In small doses, the stardust and astral grime you accrue will wash off on its own, usually, but over time the dust accrues more and more and starts causing serious issues.

Say I want to work with the forces of Mercury more, so I do weekly invocations of the god Hermes, weekly conjurations of Raphael, wear orange, meditate on the symbols of Hod, and so forth.  Sure, I end up becoming more Mercurial, but there can be a point where it gets too much.  Sure, I think faster, but I end up thinking too much and become wrapped up in possibilities and what ifs more than practical considerations.  Sure, I’m more conversational with people, but I end up getting too inquisitive, talkative, and debate-oriented for people to comfortably deal with.  Sure, I can pick out more details and issues in things to better them, but I also become more hypercritical, micromanaging, and obnoxiously nearsighted with every plan I come across.  Sure, I can do more tricks of the hand and can start playing tricks on others, but I end up trying my hand at playful theft and get in major trouble for it at work.  Without a proper balance of forces, or without clearing out all the Mercurial dust that’s been accrued from overdoing the work, I end up becoming too Mercurial to a degree that I was never meant to be.

Another issue that comes from working amongst the stars is that they’re not always good.  There’s a notion in qabbalah of the qlippoth, the empty “shells” or “husks” of the sepiroth that show the negative polarities of their respective sepirah’s qualities, or conceal the true holiness of that sephirah as a distraction to lead people astray from their true paths.  It’s easy to flip from the Tree of Life to the Tree of Death, especially in Geburah (“Strength”) where strength without being tempered by mercy, justice, or magnanimity becomes mere destruction for its own sake.  Without balancing oneself on that fine ledge between too much of the good and falling over into the bad, one working amongst the stars will find themselves either burnt by falling into too much light or getting lost in the sphere without any light at all. 

Going back to the metaphor of working with the forces of Mercury, whose associated sephirah is Hod or “Splendor”, the qlippah or husk of Mercury is “Desolation”, as in fallen or failed creations in opposition to splendorous, complete ones.  Creations require complex, logical, and interdependent plans in order to succeed; plans that insist on independence from others, untested and bad theories, or without the proper planning or foresight are doomed to fail, no matter the amount of thinking that goes into it.  Splendor without effort becomes desolation, and the desolation of things that failed in the past hide the possibility of splendor of things as yet untried in the future.  Then again, dwelling too much in splendor keeps us at too high a level to deal with the day-to-day unsplendorous reality we actually live in.

Yet another cause of getting burnt by the stars is, well, they’re stars.  Stars are big, old, and powerful; they’re gods, or so close to gods that the distinction is superficial.  Stars and gods both are blindingly bright, scaldingly hot, and wholly dangerous.  Coming face-to-face with gods is a dangerous thing, because they don’t have or deal with human needs, frailty, or faults.  They’re gods, and they do what they want.  That said, they care for humanity, but being higher than us and immortal, they operate in completely different ways that, frankly, humanity doesn’t and can’t .  Bearing in mind that the whole point of the Great Work is to wholly rejoin the Divine as wholly divine ourselves, we’re still human with flesh and souls that can be burnt.  Coming face-to-face with a god is seen effectively as a death sentence, driving people mad in Lovecraftian stories or outright burning them up in the ancient Greek myths (cf. Zeus and Semele).  Gods revealing themselves in mundane form to mundane humans is okay, but when we go up to their level and see their true forms, we risk getting burnt due to the sheer power that we’re facing.  The more divine we become, the more of their real face we can stand to look at without burning, but until we reach that point, it’ll be a slow and gradual process of revelation.  Trying to skip ahead is deadly, like trying to bust into a mystery cult without going through the proper initiations.

Coming to know ourselves through magic, gnosis of the self, is our real goal here, but it turns out that the way to and through the stars is fraught with dangers.  There are four ways we can primarily get burnt: inadvertently tracking in excess effects from the star, intentionally overworking with a star, working misguidedly with a star, and coming too close to the star without the proper apotheosis.  Burning is essential to our growth, but it helps to learn how to triage the pain and deal with healing from it. How do we deal with these problems?  Respectively,

  1. Banish and cleanse.  When you go to work for something intensive, you go home and take a shower to refresh and keep yourself clean.  Just so, when you work with the stars, keep up a regular banishing practice for yourself, your working area, and your home.  You don’t have to banish immediately after every ritual, depending on the force in question, but you want to make sure you have all the forces and power you need and know about and no more.
  2. Moderate and ground.  Don’t overwork yourself, and don’t become addicted to any one force.  Throttle how much you work with a given force, and be sure to balance it out with other forces that work with it and direct that raw force elsewhere in your life.  Don’t forget to keep yourself grounded, because humans are meant to live in the sphere of Earth and not wholly in the sphere of something else.  Without grounding, we try to live like we’re part of another sphere down here, which hardly ever works well unless you really know how to handle the juice.
  3. Reflect and practice.  Once you bring your lessons and newfound power back to earth, be sure to figure out the best use for the things you’ve gained.  Going crazy over something just because you have the ability to do it doesn’t mean you should; just because people own guns doesn’t mean they should be using them to solve sales disputes in stores.  Recall why you needed that power and teaching in the first place, figure out the best uses for it, the ethics behind using it and when it’s proper and improper to do so.  Practice using the lessons and power you gained to prepare yourself for more, making sure you’re capable and responsible enough to use them before you attempt anything more dangerous to yourself or others.
  4. Pray and grow.  The only way to become divine enough to handle divinity in its pure, pristine, distilled form is to become divine ourselves.  That requires doing the entire rest of the Work, and aspiring to become divine ourselves through prayer, meditation, growing up as humans, and growing Up as gods.  Getting the help of the gods to bring us up to their level is something they’re often willing to do, but we need to have them allow us to do so first and go through the practice of actually building ourselves up first.

Working with the stars is a dangerous thing.  Still, it shouldn’t deter us from doing it, because the payoff is worth the risk.  The dangers inherent in working with the stars require a certain kind of fortitude, reflection, and maturity that grow with us over time, which help us deal with even more later on.  It’s often said that God doesn’t try us with what we can’t handle, but sometimes the price we pay for making a mistake is high just to teach us a lesson we won’t forget.  Being careful about what we step in, ensuring our steps are slow enough, watching our step in dangerous places, and being powerful enough to step up to Power Itself are things we need to be constantly vigilant of as magicians; messing up will result in getting burnt in one way or another, and triaging the burn afterwards is more painful than making sure we’re never burnt in the first place.  Magic is esoteric for a reason: it takes lots of practice to be competent enough to chat with the Divine Source itself, but it can be done.  It just takes Work, is all.

I wanted advice, not earth-shattering revelation.

I did a fairly elaborate (by my standards and daily practice) preparation and conduction of the Headless Rite tonight, to get a stronger and more forceful connection with my HGA.  I wanted to sit down and have a chat with him about a few questions that were bugging me, but…well, did I ever get answers.  Some of which was in forms I did not care to have.  I’m afterwards in a state of mixed shock and other emotions I don’t readily have words for, but one statement from the chat is probably among the most important.  When I began to think about others who simply know their patrons or paths, or have it introduced to them, my HGA replied:

Nothing is simply given to you.  You have your tools to build doors and more tools; when you walk through the doors you build, you will find what has been waiting for you all along.

I’m gonna finish writing up this journal entry and probably go to sleep, because this plus the rest of the “chat” we had (which involved things I’m wary of even posting publicly, because damn that shit was weird) was a bit much to handle in one sitting.  I was gonna write a post earlier this week about being in a lull, but fuck that shit now.  Turns out that I’ve got Work to do, as was waiting for me.