Support the Digital Ambler on Ko-fi!

Looking back through my archives, it amazes me how much I’ve actually written.  The Digital Ambler has been around since 2010, at first on Blogspot as a devotional blog to XaTuring, the modern god of the Internet, but in 2011, when I started actually studying and practicing magic in earnest, I shifted gears to be less devotional to that deity (which, admittedly, I never got too far with) and more studious and practical in my approach.  Skip ahead seven and a half years, over 600 posts and 700,000 views later, and here we are.

It really has been a trip, you guys.

More importantly, the focus of that trip has changed.  Long-time readers of my blog have noticed that I recently redid my blog layout and appearance, but a more subtle change is up there at the top of the page.  The blog motto used to be “embrace the detours on a Hermetic path”; after all, when I was starting out, I had no idea where I’d end up, much less what paths I’d be taking or skipping or changing.  Now, the motto is changed: “always forward between Heaven and Earth”.  The path, the Work, has not ceased, but it has shifted; I’m done taking detours, and now I have a (however slightly) better grasp on what the path I’m on actually looks like.  The most important thing, though, is that I don’t stop on this path that’s been laid out for me.

Over the years, I’ve made the commitment to share my notes, experiments, thoughts, and details of my Work publicly.  I don’t share everything like this; I have some stuff kept in ebooks now, other things are saved for future publications, some topics will be reserved for worthy students-to-come, and yet other secrets will remain as such.  But, of the things I do share, I share gladly and freely.  As a result of my writing and sharing, this blog has become something of a useful resource for many students of the occult, magic, and divination across the Internet.  It humbles me, and it makes my heart glad that I’m able to help others just by doing what I do.  Besides, I consider it good that I write so much, because even I forget half the stuff I come up with unless I’ve written it down; this blog is as much for my own benefit as it is for the public’s.

This blog has always been free to read, and I intend to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, bills pile up, and the bitter taste of economic insecurity is in the air.  No, I’m not suffering from some cataclysm or huge emergency, but things can get worrisome now and again.  The more things I have to take care of, the less time I have to write or Work; the less time I have to do those things, the more dust my blog gathers.  After the past 18 months of significantly-decreased output, I want to get back to the Work, but it’s hard when there’s so much else to take care of.  While I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and the support of my readers over the years, pride and good cheer don’t pay for my gas or power bill.

But you know what you can do?  You can buy me a coffee on Ko-fi, an internet tip jar service that lets people support their favorite content creators by donating a few dollars, the price of a cup of coffee.  Every little bit counts, and every little bit gets my deep gratitude and appreciation for your support.  Yes, you’ll be able to keep me caffeinated and awake and energized enough to continue to Work and write, but your support will also help me cover ritual supplies, research materials, travel expenses, and much more.

If you’ve ever found yourself entertained by my rambling and whining, spurred onto deeper research and study because of my notes, or enthused enough to incorporate my Work into your own, please consider supporting my blog once in a while; it’ll help go towards making sure there’s always more to be entertained, interested, and enthused with.  Check out this little video I made talking about me, the blog, and Ko-fi:

(This was my first time using A/V editing software.  Happy as I am with it, please forgive me my shoddy work.)

So, if you like the content I post on the Digital Ambler and want to help support me in making more content, buy me a coffee on Ko-fi!  And, if you like the good work Ko-fi is already doing and the fact that it’s a free service for both creators and supporters, consider buying them a coffee to them, as well.

Days of the Cyprians 2015

Holy Saint Cyprian of Antioch!  Mage, martyr and mystic; theurge, thaumaturge, and theophoros; saint, sorcerer, and sage!  Pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen. + + + + + + + + +

Icon of Saint Cyprian of Antioch

Yes, it’s that time again!  Yesterday, September 16, was the Feast of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, one of the great writers of Western Christianity and patron saint of all those in northern Africa, who lived between c. 200 and 258 AD.  This means that, in only a few days, the Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, the great saint of sorcerers, magicians, necromancers, and occultists, will be here, and today begins the nine-day period of the Days of the Cyprians.  I may not have spoken about him lately as much as I did last year, but don’t worry, Saint Cyprian of Antioch is still my patron saint and one of the closest and most powerful teachers I have in my magical studies.  From preservation against evil to fortification in the occult, Saint Cyprian of Antioch is one of the great magicians of our lineage, and the Days of the Cyprians is an awesome time to honor him.

Saint Cyprian of Antioch’s feast day is September 26.  The feast day of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, however, is September 16 (yesterday).  These two feast days are spaced nine days apart, and nine is a number sacred to Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  These nine days are called the Days of the Cyprians, starting today.  Some devotees and followers of Saint Cyprian of Antioch use these days for special devotions, charitable actions, and powerful works in honor of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and I plan on doing the same starting tonight.  My household and I are doing novenas to Saint Cyprian of Antioch, seeing how we all work with occult powers in distinct ways that often focus on the dead and on our ancestors, as well as to ask for his blessings in the coming year.  Besides, we could probably use his help more and more as we continue to grow!  The closer I work with Saint Cyprian, the more things I can do are revealed to me, especially with me falling fairly solidly under his patronage.

I also want to use this period to do something special for Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  Many saints have their preferred offerings, this type of flower or that type of drink, but in general saints love acts of charity: giving to the poor, helping the disenfranchised, and generally doing good works for others.  With that in mind, I had an idea for a bit of a contribution of sorts, and I need your help with this.  Long story short, pitch in some cash to donate to people who are badly off, and you’ll get entered into a raffle for something in return.  I hope you consider pitching in, since this is a way we can all help out and earn the blessings of the good saint together.  I’m going to handle this a bit differently from how I did this last year, but the overall idea is the same:

  1. Donate money, no less than US$3.00, directly to the charity Doctors Without Borders.  I suggest $9 or amounts in multiples of 9 (27, 81, 90…), since this is a number sacred to Saint Cyprian of Antioch.
  2. After you have donated to the cause, send me an email to “polyphanes at gmail dot com” with the header “Saint Cyprian of Antioch, pray for us” and with proof of your donation such as an email or PDF receipt, remembering to remove any information you feel uncomfortable sending.  With this email, please send me any special petitions you would like to be made to Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and whether you wish to remain anonymous in the final fundraiser thank-you.
  3. Every person who donates money will have prayers made in their name and their petition presented to Saint Cyprian on their behalf when I make devotions to him that night.
  4. Every person who donates will be eligible for a prize (see below), with the winners chosen randomly at noon US Eastern time on Saturday, September 26.
  5. You can donate however many times you want or however much you want, each donation getting a different petition put to Saint Cyprian, but you’ll only be entered into the raffle once.
  6. These rules are valid starting with this post and ending at 9 p.m. US Eastern time on Friday, September 25.  Notifications of donations made after that point will not be considered for this contest.

Doctors Without Borders was founded in 1990 in New York City to raise funds, create awareness, recruit field staff, and advocate with the United Nations and US government on humanitarian concerns.  Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.  Charitable humanitarian work, especially in war-torn or disaster-afflicted areas, can be hard to do, and these doctors are doing all they can to help make the lives of the least of us at least a little better, free as much as possible from injury and illness.  If anyone is doing the work of God and the gods and saints, it’s these good people, and I think they’re definitely worth donating to in the honor of Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  After all, a good portion of magic involves healing, and the world could use as much of it as possible right about now.  You need to know how to make curses in order to break them, and you need to know how poisons work in order to make medicine work.  Saint Cyprian knows this well, and this is a good effort to spread healing and medicine and wellness into the world in his name and honor.

On Saturday, September 26, the Feast of Saint Cyprian, I’ll announce the winners of the raffle, and will ask them for their addresses. If fewer than nine people donate, I’ll only be giving out free geomancy readings as prizes, but assuming at least nine people donate to the cause, the winners will receive a particular Cyprian-themed craft I’ll be consecrating under Saint Cyprian of Antioch for you to wear or use in your Work, both with the saint and in your magical activities generally.  The prizes are:

  • One of three seed bead necklaces
  • A bone, amethyst, obsidian, and evil eye bracelet
  • A bone, garnet, jet, and evil eye bracelet
  • A bone, wood, tiger’s eye, and evil eye bracelet
  • A niner chaplet made from amethyst and evil eye beads with black tourmaline pendulum
  • A niner chaplet made from bone and quartz beads with black tourmaline pendulum
  • A niner chaplet made from obsidian, amethyst, and bone beads with black tourmaline pendulum

I’ll send these out ASAP on Monday, September 28.  Given the results from last year, I doubt that I’ll just be giving out free geomancy readings, and I hope we can top the $1000 we donated together to the Malala Fund.  I’ll be pitching in, too!  If you can, please spread and share this post to your friends, colleagues, coven mates, lodge, and others so we can spread the power and influence of Saint Cyprian across the world with good works and prayers to make the world better, and to put ourselves in a better position of power in the world.

If you don’t want to enter into the fundraiser (or even if you plan to), please take these upcoming nine days to build up a relationship to Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  Pray his chaplet, recite his litany, donate to local charities in his name, pray his novena, or just light a candle for him.  At the risk of shamelessly plugging my own stuff, if you need resources for prayer or ritual, you could always check out my Etsy page and buy my translation of the Book of Saint Cyprian or my collection of prayers to the good saint, including four separate novena prayers.  There are lots you can do to honor this saint, all culminating with his feast day on Saturday, September 26, including giving free readings, charitable magical work, donating to food banks, and so much else to help support those who need it.  If you have nothing else to do, join me in reciting a personal prayer of mine nightly during the Days of the Cyprians to Saint Cyprian of Antioch:

Hail, holy Saint Cyprian of Antioch!  Theurge and thaumaturge, sorcerer and saint, mage and martyr and mystic, pray for us, now and at the hour of our deaths.  May we come to honor and help the least among us, those deprived of good and those oppressed by the depraved, and lift them up to aid and shelter them as we look after ourselves.  May we come to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of appearance, origin, faith, or habit, and thereby come to honor and love all mankind as children and brethren of Almighty God.  In Christ Jesus, please intercede for us, Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and help us help each other.  Keep us safe from all harm, those who live comfortably in houses and those who walk homeless in streets, those who have plenty to eat and those who haven’t eaten in days, those who pray assiduously and those who lack all faith, those who make curses and those who break curses, those who heal and those who need healing, those who invade and those who defend.  We are all human and subject to the afflictions of humanity; help us, Saint Cyprian of Antioch, that we may tend to each other in a spirit of brotherhood and love that you show for us who cry out to you.  By lifting our eyes up in praise of God, help us rise to holiness we desire that we may honor the Lord; by casting our eyes down in humility to God, help us acknowledge the crimes we commit that we may rectify them.  Open our minds and hearts to the light of truth shining in eternal darkness, and show to our souls and spirits the darkness of wisdom hiding in blinding light.  As you worked with both hands to attain the will of God, help us to work with both our hands may we strive ever towards the salvation of ourselves, all mankind, the world, the universe, and the cosmos.  Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, redeemer of humanity, amen. +

In addition, I’d like to add a twist to the novena this year.  If you noticed, at the beginning of this post, I began with an invocation to the saint, one which I say often, especially when donning a necklace, ring, or other effect to the saint, and whenever I begin work with him.  In it, there are nine “aspects” or “offices” I ascribe to Saint Cyprian of Antioch:

  1. Mage
  2. Martyr
  3. Mystic
  4. Theurge
  5. Thaumaturge
  6. Theophoros
  7. Saint
  8. Sorcerer
  9. Sage

Each of these nine days, I’d like you to meditate, contemplate, and focus on how Saint Cyprian of Antioch fulfills each of these offices.  What, exactly, is a mage to you, and how is Saint Cyprian a mage?  What were the conditions of his martyrdom, how was he blessed to become a martyr in the grace of Christ, and how might you give up your own sacrifices to attain grace?  How did Saint Cyprian wander as a mystic, how was he trained in the mysteries, and into what mysteries would or should you be led?  How did he accomplish the work of God (theurgy) as both priest and magician, and how can you come to know your own labors of theurgy?  How did he use his powers in the world to accomplish works of wonder (thaumaturgy), and what would you like to accomplish through acts of goetic, planetary, elemental, or other types of thaumaturgy?  How does he carry God (theophoros) around in his heart and on his shoulders, and how can you do the same in your daily and sacred life?  What does he stand for as a saint, and as a patron saint of magicians and necromancers and all those who interact with and live through the occult?  How did he become a sorcerer, determining the lots of life for himself and others?  What was the wisdom he accumulated to become a sage, and what kind of wisdom do you seek from him as a sage?

Go now with the blessing of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and may you always enjoy the grace of God wherever you go.  May Saint Cyprian, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus watch over you and empower you in this world, the worlds above, and the worlds below in all your works and words.

Days of the Cyprians, and a Fundraiser in Honor of Saint Cyprian of Antioch

In the midst of all this mathesis stuff, I hope you, dear reader, haven’t forgotten that I have other things to chew on my metaphysical plate.  The past few months have been busy with developing the Tetractys of Life and mathetic rituals, but I’ve also been tackling other projects and problems as they’ve been coming up.  As I’ve started working with Saint Cyprian of Antioch this year, that amazing patron saint of magicians and all those who “work with both hands”, I’ve been making weekly offerings to him as well as other ex voto offerings as we exchange work for Work.  This time of year, the end of summer and start of fall, is important to the good saint; the Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch is coming up on September 26, which falls on a Friday this year.  The date is also important, as it’s the yearly festival of Venus Genetrix for the Romans, and since the lady is also important to me, it’s a day I really have to prepare for.  I’m planning a party for myself and many of my friends in honor of Saint Cyprian, which is nice since it’s on a Friday, but I have plenty of preparation to do in the meanwhile.

For one, today marks day one of the Days of the Cyprians.  As it turns out, there are two Saints Cyprian: one from Antioch whom we all know and love, and one from Carthage.  Saint Cyprian of Carthage is another Saint and Martyr of the Catholic Church (one who is officially recognized, no less) who lived in the third century AD, the Bishop of Carthage for about ten years, and eventually was persecuted and martyred under Emperor Valerian I.  He was famous in his day for being a classically trained orator from a rich family who turned to Christianity and became an important theologer and writer in early Christianity.  In fact, before Augustine and Jerome, Cyprian of Carthage was known as the Christian writer, and we can attribute the phrase “there is no salvation outside the Church” to him.  Of course, he’s not very commonly known nowadays and is only kinda dimly remembered by most of the Catholic Church, and I can’t really find anything he’s patron outside of being the patron saint of North Africa.  However, although the two saints are often conflated with each other, Saint Cyprian of Carthage is sufficiently different to have a different prayer medallion from Saint Cyprian of Antioch, as can be seen below.  Saint Cyprian of Antioch has his crosier and book, while Saint Cyprian of Carthage has his crucifix and (what looks like) palm fronds.

Saint Cyprian of Antioch’s feast day is September 26.  The feast day of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, however, is September 16 (yesterday).  These two feast days are spaced nine days apart, and nine is a number sacred to Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  These nine days are sometimes called the Days of the Cyprians, starting today.  Some devotees and followers of Saint Cyprian of Antioch use these days for special devotions, charitable actions, and powerful works in honor of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and I plan on doing the same starting tonight.  My household and I are doing novenas to Saint Cyprian of Antioch, seeing how we all work with occult powers in distinct ways that often focus on the dead and on our ancestors, as well as to ask for his blessings in the coming year.  And given the excitement and development we’ve all been through this year, we could probably use his help more in the coming year!  Besides, the closer I work with Saint Cyprian, the more things I can do are revealed to me, especially with me falling fairly solidly under his patronage.

tumblr_mbo18nDcDx1r9z6va (1)

I also want to use this period to do something special for Saint Cyprian of Antioch, too.  Many saints have their preferred offerings, this type of flower or that type of drink, but in general saints love acts of charity: giving to the poor, helping the disenfranchised, and generally doing good works for others.  With that in mind, I had an idea for a bit of a contribution of sorts, and I need your help with this.  Long story short, pitch in some cash for me to donate to people who are badly off, and you’ll get entered into a raffle for something in return.  I hope you consider pitching in, since this is a way we can all help out and earn the blessings of the good saint together.

Here are the rules:

  1. Donate money, no less than US$3.00, to my PayPal account using the button below (not the one on the sidebar unless you just want to give me money without getting anything in return).  I suggest $9 or amounts in multiples of 9 (27, 81, 90…), since this is a number sacred to Saint Cyprian of Antioch.
  2. Every person who donates money will have the Chaplet of Saint Cyprian prayed in their name and have petitions made to Saint Cyprian on their behalf when I make devotions to him that night.
  3. Every person who donates will be eligible for one of nine prizes (see below), with the winners chosen randomly by noon US Eastern time on Friday, September 26.
  4. When going through PayPal, please be sure to write “Saint Cyprian of Antioch, pray for us” in the instructions, along with your mailing address, any special petitions to be made to Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and whether you wish to remain anonymous in the final fundraiser thank-you.  If you’re unable to provide instructions through PayPal, please send me an email from the same address you sent money through PayPal.  If you do not do this, you will not be considered for this contest.
  5. You can donate however many times you want or however much you want, but you’ll only be entered into the raffle once.
  6. These rules are valid starting with this post and ending at 9 p.m. US Eastern time on Thursday, September 25.  Donations given after that point will not be considered for this contest.

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On Friday, September 26, the Feast of Saint Cyprian, I’ll announce the winners of the raffle.  There are nine prizes you can win, but if fewer than nine people donate, I’ll only be giving out free geomancy readings as prizes.  The prizes, assuming at least nine people pitch in, are:

  • Free geomancy reading ($20 value)
  • Free geomancy reading ($20 value)
  • Free uncrossing and blessing ritual ($50 value)
  • Free half-long consultation on your choice of topic ($50 value)
  • Free hour-long consultation on your choice of topic ($90 value)
  • Table of Practice with Tetragrammaton crystal ball stand ($60 value)
  • Chaplet (prayer beads) of Saint Cyprian, made with yak bone and amethyst beads and a saint medal, consecrated under Saint Cyprian of Antioch ($50 value)
  • Carcanet (ritual necklace) of Saint Cyprian, consecrated under him and made with glass, yak bone, and semiprecious beads ($60 value)
  • Large purple-sheen obsidian stone, a beautiful polished piece for scrying or offering to the gods or saints ($50 value)

On Monday, September 29, I’ll send out all the prizes and start talking to people about scheduling their readings and consultations.  I’ll go ahead and donate the entire sum of money accrued through PayPal to the charitable organization the Malala Fund which empowers girls through education and helps Pakistani, Kenyan, and Syrian children and refugees, and named after Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl activist who was shot by Taliban extremists, survived to world acclaim, and has been working since to improve the condition of life for girls and children across the world in extreme conditions.  I’ll be keeping none of the money for myself; it will all be donated in the name and honor of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and I’ll post a giant thank-you to everyone who donated (if you want to remain anonymous, say so when you donate, but I will not report on how much individuals donated anyway).  The more people who donate, the more money can be raised and given to charity, so help spread the word and get more people involved!  I’ll be pitching in some seed fundraiser money, too, but I won’t be entering myself into the contest.

If you don’t want to enter into the fundraiser, then at least take these upcoming nine days to build up a relationship to Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  Pray his chaplet, donate to local charities in his name, pray his novena, or just pray to him and light a candle for him.  If you need resources for prayer or ritual, you could always check out my Etsy page and buy my translation of the Book of Saint Cyprian or my collection of prayers to the good saint, including four separate novena prayers.  There are lots you can do to honor this saint, all culminating with his feast day on Friday, September 26, including giving free readings, charitable magical work, donating to food banks, and so much else to help support those who need it.  If you have nothing else to do, join me in reciting this prayer nightly during the Days of the Cyprians to Saint Cyprian of Antioch:

Hail, holy Saint Cyprian of Antioch!  Theurge and thaumaturge, sorcerer and saint, mage and martyr and mystic, pray for us, now and at the hour of our deaths.  May we come to honor and help the least among us, those deprived of good and those oppressed by the depraved, and lift them up to aid and shelter them as we look after ourselves.  May we come to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of appearance, origin, faith, or habit, and thereby come to honor and love all mankind as children and brethren of Almighty God.  In Christ Jesus, please intercede for us, Saint Cyprian of Antioch, and help us help each other.  Keep us safe from all harm, those who live comfortably in houses and those who walk homeless in streets, those who have plenty to eat and those who haven’t eaten in days, those who pray assiduously and those who lack all faith, those who make curses and those who break curses, those who heal and those who need healing, those who invade and those who defend.  We are all human and subject to the afflictions of humanity; help us, Saint Cyprian of Antioch, that we may tend to each other in a spirit of brotherhood and love that you show for us who cry out to you.  By lifting our eyes up in praise of God, help us rise to holiness we desire that we may honor the Lord; by casting our eyes down in humility to God, help us acknowledge the crimes we commit that we may rectify them.  Open our minds and hearts to the light of truth shining in eternal darkness, and show to our souls and spirits the darkness of wisdom hiding in blinding light.  As you worked with both hands to attain the will of God, help us to work with both our hands may we strive ever towards the salvation of ourselves, all mankind, the world, the universe, and the cosmos.  Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, redeemer of humanity, amen. +

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.

What’s for Lent?

So, yeah.  Mardi Gras totally crept up on me this year, and had I an inkling about its timing I’d be out drinking and probably engaging in any number of debauched activities, even after having done this very thing in a college town this past weekend.  It’s as if the cosmos, once again, set things up so nicely for me to get things done in just the right time and prepare for bigger things ahead.  If one can call Lent “big”, that is.

No, I’m not Catholic (and I’ve only ever been to a Catholic mass once, earlier this year in fact, and after sitting through a homily that just happened to rail against sorcerers and magicians for 15 minutes and after getting a dream about being persecuted by a church for witnessing something that should be entirely open, I won’t be going back).  Still, the idea of cutting back on vice, even harmless ones, to get closer and more in touch, more rejoined, with the Almighty has a very strong appeal.  Besides, Lord knows I’ve got shit in my life that I could cut out, and some of it’s stuff even I recognize that I can, should, and really ought to do away with.

So, let’s break this down into three groups: fasting, things to cut out, and things to stick in.

Fasting:

  • Not eating out, buying, or eating food I did not make at work
  • No grocery shopping
  • Restricted eating out (no more than once per week, vegetarian only, no alcohol; including visits to friends’ houses)

To cut out:

  • Naps and sleeping in past sunrise on any morning
  • Capitalization of the pronoun “I” (an exercise in humility) except for professional communication
  • Gossip and sarcasm

To stick in:

  • More prayer: adding on one or two more prayers to my nightly prayer schedule, and setting aside some time each midday for more prayers
  • Donating a portion of each paycheck to a local charity
  • Weekly one hour loving-kindness meditation in a public space, releasing it into the world

What do I have to lose from all this?  Not much: the money I’d be using on whatever fanciful foods I’d be buying would be going to those who need it instead; I wouldn’t be losing any sleep except that which would be unnecessary to begin with; I’ll have fewer opportunities to slack off or have excuses to put off my Work.  What do I have to gain?  More awareness about myself, what I need, and what I’m blessed with.  Whatever other benefits will come about from this will come about.

About the bit about grocery shopping: last year, my friends at work dared me that I couldn’t give up grocery shopping for Lent, because…dude, it’s food for the house.  However, my old housemate just moved out and left all his food, leaving me with a kitchenful of food for one person.  Not only was I able to survive Lent, I was able to completely wipe out my cabinets and cupboards (save for spices, baking materials, and rice) after two full months, not buying a single bit of food.  I intend to wipe out my cabinets once again as much as possible, because those ten pounds of pinto beans aren’t going to eat themselves.  As it so happened, I did a fair bit of grocery shopping just yesterday while wondering when I should begin my Lenten fast, so I’ll be well-off for a good while to come.  Thanks, cosmos!

One Fewer

The other day, when I went to the grocery store to get some baking supplies, I was approached by a lady outside who was working for food donations.  She handed me a small slip of paper with a list of badly needed items, and asked if I could get a few things for her for the holiday season donation campagin the local churches were running.  I had only planned to get one or two things, but I left with a basket full of supplies and foodstuffs for them.  They were shocked I gave as much as I did, but why not?  I try to do a good turn once in a while, after all.

As I was leaving the parking lot, I realized that what I did wasn’t really that much.  Sure, one family might be able to not worry about food as much as they did last year.  But even then, isn’t that a powerful thing in its own right?  The power of “one fewer”, even though it’s only one, can have immense consequences.

What if one fewer family went hungry on Thanksgiving?  What if one fewer child went without a present on Christmas?  What if one fewer family had to grieve the loss of a child due to hunger or disease?  What if one fewer person had to freeze in their own home in the winter?  What if one fewer person had to lose their home because of bad politics?  What if one fewer bystander had to recover from a stray bullet?  What if one fewer child were bullied because of how they appeared or acted?  What if one fewer parent were killed because of how they appeared or acted?

The ability to effect “one fewer” is not hard.  The consequences of effecting “one fewer” can be mind-blowing.  Why not try, in one more year, to see how many “one fewer” bad things we can get done in the world?  It doesn’t have to be a big thing; in fact, that’s quite the point.