On Oils as Offerings

The following is an old post of mine from 2015.  I wrote it a as a guest post for the excellent Quadrivium Supplies, an oil-maker I turn to every so often when I need some real good stuff, and whose oils have never let me down.  She asked me at one point to write a guest post, and I did; it went up in early 2015.  However, she’s since moved platforms and went to a wholesale model, and in that transfer of platforms, her blog got nuked.  While the post went up, it’s no longer there.  I figure I may as well repost it now for posterity, and plus, reading over it reminded me of some good ideas I once had once upon a time.  I hope you enjoy this little relic of writing!


As a ceremonial magician, I go through a lot of supplies.  Yes, there’re the crafting supplies like wood and lead and gold leaf to make Tables of Practice and wands and talismans and the like, but I also go through a lot of consumable supplies like candles, wine, incense, and especially oil.  While I’ve got a grasp of crafting and making some of my own basic supplies, it certainly helps to have friends who can do these things better or who have access to more raw bits and pieces to make better things than I can; after all, while I can make oils for myself, I’d much rather get one of my friends who can expertly create and fine-tune them instead because, well, they know what they’re doing with better equipment and starting goods than I have.

One of my friends owns the lovely Quadrivium Supplies, and she’s an excellent oil-maker that I’ve pinged time and again for very well-made magical oils and advice on how to make a few myself.  My only regret with her work is that I don’t have quite enough income to get some of her oils in bigger quantities!  She knows her recipes well, uses real and natural ingredients that some might shy away from getting, and even makes a series of astrologically-elected oils that are without comparison.  These aren’t cheaply-made garishly-colored artificial oils with a bit of scent, but powerful tools and buffs in their own right.  Recently, she asked me if I’d be interested in writing a guest post on her blog, and I happily obliged.  After thinking for a bit, I figured a good intersection between her work and mine would be a good topic to write on.  Go read my entry there, On Oils as Offerings!

It’s rare that I get the chance to write a guest post for someone else; after all, I have plenty of writing already done and plenty more to do here at the Digital Ambler.  Then again, I’m also not opposed to doing so, since it also gives me a delightful change of pace.


Ceremonial magicians are known for using endless magical tools and magical materia in their works, and I’m no exception; one of the recent choices I had to make in moving to a new house was needing to find a place with a suitable room as my own temple room and magical workshop to house my shrines and altars, as well as providing storage for all my tools and charms that I make.  To be fair, unless tradition dictates otherwise, no system of magic strictly requires material means, but they certainly help, especially in obtaining material ends.  Having a material component in one’s magical work helps to bring down those astral and spiritual forces down, grounding them and giving them a means to work and effect themselves in our world of body and form.  Wands, crystals, talismans, mojo bags, drawn-out circles, engraved candles, and all the rest help in one’s magical works.  Oils are no exception, but they’re also something of a special case.

Not too long ago, I was conversing with one of my spiritual mentors, Saint Cyprian of Antioch, in preparation for a magical undertaking of the Arbatel operation, where one conjures and begins work and initiation with the seven Olympic Spirits associated with the seven traditional planets of Hermetic cosmology.  Saint Cyprian of Antioch, although a Christian saint, was also a powerful magician in his day, and over the centuries has become a steadfast ally to those who call upon him in matters of magic and sorcery of all kinds.  Seeking his advice, he recommended I go through with my plan and conjuration setup: the standard conjuration triangle, crystal scrying medium, incense, yada yada.  However, he suggested one important change: offer the Olympic Spirits a small amount of clear, good oil.  I was considering preparing wine or food, but Saint Cyprian of Antioch turned those down and rather emphatically suggested that I use pure, clean oil as an offering.  He explained that oil has a “volatile” nature, not in the same way as elemental Fire or alchemical Sulfur, but as a magical medium for housing things in a way stronger than water but less than crystal, more pliable than food but less ephemeral than incense.  For housing the soul or power of a spirit, oil would be an excellent offering, especially for entities like those from the Arbatel.

After thinking about this some, I realized that this makes perfect sense.  After candles and incense (and wine, though that’s usually for my own personal use), the material supply I go through the most is a variety of oils.  A full shelf in my supply closet, which is a miniature botanica in its own right, is packed with oils from a variety of distributors and craftspeople, some simple colored-and-scented artificial oils, some intricately developed from the purest extracts all manually taken from herbs and other natural sources.  Most workings that call for candles or talismans will, either due to the recipe or my own inclinations, use an oil in fixing things properly so that a particular power can be fixed.  Abramelin oil, specifically the German recipe, is one I use daily for my own strengthening by anointing my head and palms in prayer.  When using a traditional oil lamp, I’ll mix in some particular oil with the normal fuel for a particular end, like an older cognate to fixing a candle with oil.  I find myself using oils in pretty much any magical operation nowadays; such experimentation has often led me to find alternative uses for oils, sometimes in ways entirely unexpected.

Then again, there are more ways to use oils than in fixing candles or anointing heads.  Among all the oils I have, the one I go through most is common olive oil.  This has a rich history in Mediterranean magic and Western culture generally as a symbol of richness and power, both in this world and in most others.  Simple olive oil can be used towards pretty much any end, not having anything but the pure fruit of the olive tree involved, and when prayed over in a particular manner, can be used on the spot in lieu of any magical oil.  However, I don’t typically use olive oil as a “magical oil”, per se, but as a substance in offering.  For instance, whenever I make an offering to the theoi of the Hellenes, I always pour out an offering of wine with a dash of olive oil.  For one, the Greek gods like the offering of oil with their wine and prayer and incense, but it also suffices to cover the wine and prevent most forms of bacterial or fungal growth in their offerings.  (And yes, the wine still somehow manages to evaporate as the spirits consume it from under the oil, even though this shouldn’t normally be possible, but hey, gods do what they want.)

Of course, I don’t just offer olive oil to the spirits.  Some oils have histories and known uses limited pretty much to offerings, and I’ve taken that route with my own Three Kings oil when working with the Three Wise Men, though they’re also teaching me other methods of using such an oil when working with and under them.  When I need to empower a spirit a particular way, I’ll make them a normal libation but with a few drops of a particular oil that I feel is appropriate.  Household protector spirit needs to be buffed up for an incoming attack?  They’ll get an offering of strong wine with Fiery Wall of Protection oil.  Need to propitiate Aphrodite to help a friend smooth out their relationship?  Sweet wine with Reconciliation oil.  Cleansing a sad spirit who brings in filth?  Clear water with Van Van oil.  Want to placate an angry ancestor with a taste for food?  Good whiskey with turkey drippings (yes, really).  Just as oils can be used to fix a candle or prepare a talisman for ensoulment, oils can also fortify offerings to the spirits and empower them directly.  For that matter, oil can be dedicated to spirits alone for their own use, and if those oils happen to already be consecrated and empowered with herbs or other substances, it can empower the spirit just as strongly as it can empower a talisman.

In the case with the Arbatel spirits, Saint Cyprian of Antioch recommended I use the olive oil as an offering for them to consume, but also to help bring them into the world in their own way.  Oils on their own, according to Saint Cyprian, provide a flexible but useful means to contain the power or presence of a spirit, not unlike talismans or mojo bags, but in a more disposable or usable manner than a set object.  In the case with the Olympic Spirits, Saint Cyprian suggested that I give the spirit pure olive oil to consume and inhabit, then emptying that oil out into the world, allowing the power of that spirit to spread out in our world so it can do its work better in ways that I may not always be able to accomplish.  Oils don’t just evaporate into the air as waters or alcohols do, nor they don’t just vanish into particles like incense or smoke, nor do they stay fixed and firm within a solid containing body.  Oils leak and seep into the world, dispersing themselves and attaching themselves to objects and places, coating things with their powers and imbuing them with their own essences. Oils are much more difficult to get rid of and don’t simply wash away, but they’re not permanent fixtures, either.

Oils, in the end, are just as important a tool as anything else in a ceremonial magician’s temple, if not one of the most important ones.  Sure, not all traditions call for oils in their work, but almost all my workings in a variety of traditions have benefited from including their use for one purpose or another.  I would even rank oil as more important than candles or incense, because a properly prepared oil can take the place of both.  It’s important to remember that oils can be used for many more things than fixing or anointing, but that oils can be used in offerings directly as another method of working with spirits in a way that’s both profound and powerful.

Apologia

Being a WordPress user, I’m fond of the sometimes silly and sweet things it does for me like any overdesigned fun information system should.  Today, it told me that this is my four-year anniversary of joining WordPress.  Before that, I was using Blogger, and was envious of some of the bloggers who had fancier features than I did.  About that time, too, I was still getting my bearings in the magical world and was only just starting to practice conjuration.

What a wild ride it’s been in just a measly four years.  I went from talking about my mistakes in making natron to giving talks on theory at conferences, from showing off my first-ever woodburning projects to making them commercially, from reading about geomancy to teaching it to others.  It really has been a wild ride, and I’d like to thank you, especially, for sticking with me through all these times, no matter when you stepped in to pay attention to lil’ ol’ me.

To those who have stuck around longer than a few months, you’ll note that I haven’t been posting as much lately as I’m known to do usually.  I don’t apologize for that; after all, this is my blog, and I post when I want, what I want, and how I want.  That’s a good bit of advice for those who have blogs of their own or who want to start one; you’re beholden to nobody by blogging alone, and it is your platform, after all, so use it however and whenever you feel like you should.

The thing is, things have been slow lately.  My writing is tied to my activities, my Word to my Work as it were, and since I’m not doing much Work, I don’t have many Words.

My life is good.  There are always things to improve upon, and those are getting knocked out in slow but steady order.  I’m working towards my goals for this year day by day, but some days, just not a lot is happening.  I’m definitely on a plateau, but it’s not a bad one, and that’s okay; taking it slow is something I’m fond of, and things are going well.  The gods and spirits treat me well, and I try to uphold my bargains and offerings and honor to them; I have few pressing problems to worry about, and can spend my time in leisure and work without stress or concern.  I am blessed with good health, good friends, and good money, and I can’t complain for want of that.  I could always use more, of course, but that’s a matter for my own work.

But what work would that be, though?  I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve hit a slow spot, just as I’m not afraid to defiantly not post for longer than a few days at a time, but surely there’s work to be done, and there certainly is.  I’m a far cry from a master in any way of any art, despite how far I’ve come; after all, to someone still at home, a mile is a far ways to walk, but there’s a world of difference between walking across town and walking across the world.

Basically, I’ve been slow lately to the point of laziness.  For that, the self-made cause to the symptom of having little to write about, I apologize.  So let me get back on the ball, get back to working, get back to writing, and get back to the world I’m meant to create.  After all, that shit won’t do itself.

Minor Things and Updates

Not much happening as of late; little conjuration work to be done, no big projects.  There have been some business requests made, in terms of readings and design work, which is absolutely fabulous; many thanks to those who have asked for them!  For those who are thinking of them, why not take a chance and spend some of that extra coin lying around?  I could always use the work, after all, and it keeps me busy.  But yeah, beyond the occasional reading and my normal daily practice, not much has been happening.  Which leads to me writing less, at least for my blog, which after all these months feels real weird.  Eh, I guess I needed the break.  Anyway, just a few little things I wanted to note lately.

First, as you may have heard from the rest of the interweb, Jason Miller of Inominandum and Strategic Sorcery fame recently released his newest work, Advanced Planetary Magic, a set of 49 calls to the planets based on pairwise combinations of the seven planets.  You may have heard of it somewhere else in the blogosphere, and I’ll keep my review short: it’s awesome, and I suggest getting yourself a copy of this awesome work.  He describes a system of planetary magic where one uses a particular short invocation or spell for each pair of planets (Luna/Sol, Sol/Luna, Venus/Saturn, etc.), to be used according to a particular situation and in a particular time (planetary hour and planetary day).  Nifty stuff, by any measure.  He’s starting a project called the Crying of Calls 49, where people who have the text are invited to perform 49 consecutive days of prayer, using each one of the biplanetary invocations each day in a particular hour on each day.  The first week starts tomorrow, July 8, with Luna of Luna in an hour of the Moon in the day of the Moon, Luna of Mars on July 9 in an hour of the Moon in the day of Mars, and so forth.  He’s set up a Facebook group for it, but as of this writing the group is still inoperational.  Quick, go get a copy for yourself and join in on the fun!

I’ve recently picked up my prayer beads again and started using them.  I’ve had this dark Indian rosewood mala with red thread for years, bought a long time ago when I was on a strong Buddhist kick, and though I used it for a while with some basic mantras (Avalokitesvara’s and Manjusri’s, to name two), I never really kept up the practice.  The prayer beads have just been languishing in their bag for years, maybe picked up once or twice out of nostalgia, and put back.  I figured I may as well augment my practice by using them again, though picking out the mantra or prayer to be used with them puzzled me slightly.  Then I remembered that I have my own magical motto, “Lautitia Laborum Lucis Laetor” (“I rejoice in the splendor of the works of the Light”), and since it rings pretty deeply with me, I figure I may as well use that as my mantra.  It’s pretty relevant to my own work, and is fairly devotional in and of itself.  I’ve gotten a good buzz from using my motto as a mantra, as I have the Trisagion and my Prayer of Light.  I’ve been experimenting with rhythms and numbers of circuits, and I like the preliminary results so far.  My goal is to do at least one motto circuit per day, twice if I have the time; doing this on the train works well enough, since I sit comfortably far back from the rest of the people in a quiet spot where others can’t easily bother me.

Speaking of daily practice, I’m also considering with toying around with my personal schedule.  Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I go to work at the office, and I work from home Wednesdays.  On the days I go to the office, I normally get up around 5 a.m., hygeinate myself, do my prayers and meditation and other essential practice, leave around 7, then catch the train to work, then get home around 5 or 6 p.m.  Ideally, this allows me four or five hours of time once I get off work for more practice but…I normally just end up on the computer for the night instead.  Since I’m a morning person, and there is another train that leaves much later than I’m used to that can still get me to work on time, I’m thinking of shifting more practice to the morning, which gives me about two solid hours each day to really focus on my stuff: a half hour for prayers and offerings, a half hour for meditation, a half hour for energy work and other “kinetic” methods of prayer and practice, and another half hour for more meditation or astral work.  This should of course be backed up with more work in the evenings, but shifting more to the earlier part of the day is no bad idea.  I’m a morning person, anyway, so this should definitely help me out more in getting my ass in better magical shape.  I’d be getting home probably around 7 or 8, but that still leaves me enough time most evenings to relax and get at least another round of meditation again, not to mention any planetary work that happens in the evening.  I figure I can handle this fairly well; I’ll try it this coming week as a test round.

Anyway, time to finish tidying up my house and get to my prayers and offerings for the night.  How’s this past Mercury retrograde period been treating you?  Besides some minor holiday traffic, things have been delightful on my end.

Occult Services and Commissions are Available!

It’s been a ways in coming, but I’ve finally decided to start offering ebooks, occult services, and commissions through the Digital Ambler.  Yes, you read that right: I’m now offering divination readings, ritual services, consultations, and commissions for crafts and designs, which you can pay for through PayPal over on the new Services page.  Some things are once-off payments, like divination readings or consultations, which can be paid for immediately.  Other things, such as tool crafting or design work, go by the hour and will start after we talk about needs, requirements, and the like; an invoice will be sent once the work is complete.  If you have any questions about these polyphanic services, feel free to email me (polyphanes at gmail) and I’ll try to advise as necessary.  Eventually, I’ll write more ebooks or coursework for the interested practitioner, but I’ll keep that in reserve for now; for now, I’ve written my first ebook “De Grammatomanteia”, a thorough treatment of Greek grammatomancy from a Hermetic perspective involving astrology, qabbalah, and numerology, available for $10 as a PDF.

You also may have noticed, dear reader, that you can now donate to the Digital Ambler through PayPal using the button on the right.  It’s completely up to you whether or how much you donate, or whether you take me up on my services and offerings, but even small amounts help loads (I suggest a simple $5).  If you donate or buy something off my Amazon wishlist, I promise to put in a good word for you and give you a shoutout on my blog for being so awesome and generous.

I write a lot for this blog because I want to, and because it helps get me to do the Work and get my Work out into the world.  I think it’s a good thing to show how my styles of magic and magical living can be done for others, not to mention showcase my own thoughts and rants.  Information, after all, wants to flow and be free.  Still, writing this blog takes up a nontrivial amount of time and effort; the Work is still work that requires resources and research; balancing my occult and mystical Work and studies with my federal and engineering work and errands is no easy task.  With a little help from my generous readers through commissions  consultations, or donations, I could get more Work done, get better tools for better crafting, procure more books and supplies to expand my project scopes, host my own blog independently, move to a better and quieter apartment, and the like.   Every little bit counts, and I hope to make those little bits count for a lot through my Work.

By the by, for you dear readers who signed up for a ritual experiment through Facebook or Twitter but haven’t heard back from me yet about that, I promise you I haven’t forgotten about it.  Things’ve been a lil’ hectic as of late and the project is on hold for now, but I’ll keep you posted of any progress or updates in the future.

I love you guys.

I don’t really have much to say today, actually (besides that I’m terrifically hungover).  I just wanted to say that I love you guys.  Dearest readers, you guys are really amazing.  From the conversations we have in the comments, chats, or emails, to the fantastic links and pointers you give me, you guys are amazing.  Writing a blog wouldn’t be nearly as much fun or fulfilling if it weren’t for you.  Thank you for reading and enduring my rants, whines, boring chatter, and streams of consciousness.

With that in mind, dear readers, I invite you to tell me more about yourselves.  Who are you?  What do you do?  How’re you doing?  Where are you from?  I noticed I get a lot of hits from Anglophone countries, which is to be expected given that this is an English blog.  European countries, generally, too, given that ceremonial magic is largely European-influenced and originated.  However, I noticed I also get a lot of hits from Brazil and Romania; what’s up with that?  Not that I don’t appreciate the traffic, but who in those places would find my stuff interesting enough to give me a non-trivial number of hits nearly daily?  Let me know!

Also, how do you normally find my stuff?  I get a lot of hits from image searches and reader feeds, as well as Twitter and Facebook connects.  I don’t have a Facebook, so I’m interested in how you Facebookers get here from there.

Anyway, I love you guys.  Keep walking with me, and we’ll definitely go places.  It might just be the corner store, but it could just as easily be someplace more fun (ooh baby).  And let me know what you want me to ramble about; I’m open to suggestions, beyond my average “what is this u guyz” explorations.

Versatile Blogger Award, woo!

A few days ago, the magnificent Lechim Nosredna over at nightswimming nominated me for the Versatile Blogging Award, which is totally awesome.  It’s a neat little thing, but it comes with a few rules of its own.

Versatile Blogging Award Button

First, thank you Lechim for nominating me.  I’m humbled and amazed that people would find my noisy rants and shoddy crafts interesting, much less worthy of note or perusal.   To both him and all you viewers out there, thank you!  Lechim blogs over at nightswimming with some of his buddies about their dreams, collectively calling themselves Dream Catchers who explore the realm of haze, imagery, and night that we all partake in when we sleep.  Really cool stuff, not to mention trippy.

To keep the VBA trend alive, I’m also going to nominate fifteen blogs that I find are also really cool.  These aren’t professional, public-service, theoretical, or discursory blogs, but more of the ones in my register: personal, detailed, meticulous, thoughtful, and entertaining.  Generally, all of the blogs on the right are fantastic, and you should consider visiting them and their buddies as well, but below are a few that stand out to me or aren’t on my public list (yet).  I hope you’ll give them some traffic and enjoy them as much as I do.

  1. Camylleon’s Cave
  2. The Key to the Clavicula Solomonis
  3. The Grey Book of Runes
  4. CGA in a VGA World
  5. Beloved in Light
  6. skatologicalhumor
  7. The Difference Between Beauty and Fear
  8. Amaranthine

Between the list above and the one on the right, that easily adds to 15.  Right, guys?  Anyway, I’ll be notifying the blogs above about their nominations in the coming week.  Once you get it, remember to post about yourself and your nominees on the VBA Winners page.

And, to keep things hilarious and to fulfill one of the stipulations of the VBA rules, here are seven things about myself that I tend not to tell others.  I mean, this being my blog and all, they might’ve come out at a future date anyway, but whatever.  These are all things personal and not really occult-related, but maybe you’ll get a better glimpse of who I am based.

  1. I was bullied really bad in elementary school to the point of nearly having my neck snapped.
  2. I’m too tall to comfortably sleep on twin mattresses, but king beds weird me out by how big they are.  Queen appears to fit well for me (lol ghey).
  3. I was really into crafts as a kid, always making things out of cardboard.  I even made a near-functional ATM out of a flat crate once, with chutes and tunnels for paper money to come out of.  Now I’ve graduated to wood and steel from corrugated paper and marker, but I guess I’ve kept the trend alive.
  4. I like to have a crush on someone after I start dating them.  It’s kinda backwards, yeah, but it makes the passion and sex a lot better for a good deal longer.
  5. Although I don’t tend to drink soda anymore, I will always grab a six-pack of TaB cola whenever I can.  I love that stuff, yo.  One time in college during winter break when I had the apartment to myself, I scoured every grocery store in Charlottesville stocking up on TaB and completely filled my fridge with the stuff.  It was awesome.
  6. The first time I cheated was in the 6th grade in a quarter-long Japanese introductory course, when I wrote that week’s katakana on my wrist in very faint ink to copy onto a quiz.  I was really anxious about it.
  7. My wardrobe consists almost entirely of five colors: black, grey, brown, green, and taupe.  Sure, I have a few blues and whites and other things, but the vast majority of my clothes fit into those colors (Venus in Virgo, baby).  Also, I pretty much only wear cargo pants, and only own one pair of jeans that were a hand-me-down from my brother years and years ago.

Anything else you’d care to ask me, occult-related or otherwise?  Post a comment and led me know!

Site design update

Okay, so, I know I should be studying and meditating and stuff, but I got distracted by patterns and making the blog pretty.  What?  I like shiny things.  Don’t judge me.

I’ve always been fond of dark tones and orderly-yet-natural patterns, so I scraped up a few desktop backgrounds from the Internet and cobbled together a design for the blog.  To give credit where it’s due, the background is from wallpaper77, and the banner is based on a background from this ComicVine user.

The emblem on the banner is a design I was contemplating for a tattoo, but since I’m wary of inscribing things on my mortal coil for the rest of this existence, I’ve decided to keep it only as a kind of personal logo.  The center symbol in it is a stylized form of the Chinese character for “middle” (see this Wiktionary entry), representing balance and centeredness.  It’s also a stylized set of scales (fitting, since I’m a Libra), as well as a combination of the binary numerals 0 and 1, digital representations of the concepts of passive and active, yin and yang, yoni and lingam.  On another level, it’s also representative of an axis with the world revolving around it, showing stability, as well as a bridge serving to connect the upper world with the lower world (cf. “as above, so below”).  The four right angles around it are part of what will eventually become my magical motto.  I’ll let you guess what it is; eventually I’ll come forward about it, but not now.

And now back to studying, dishes, and working out.  Really, I mean it.  Please stop looking at me like that.