At last, a true and beautiful Wand of Art!

I’ve done it.  I have my Wand.  A true, 24k gold-gilded, silver-capped, quartz-set ebony Wand of Art.

Wand of Art

And yes, for those who are interested, I wrote about how I constructed and consecrated it, from the design to the angels, and you can read the whole thing here if you want.  (You totally should, especially if you’re interested in seeing the process I used to make and consecrate it.)  I’m calling it my Wand of Art, because I don’t think I’ll ever need another wand after this, unless it’s for some extraordinarily specific purpose.  After putting the hours and labor into this project, with the help of some very generous friends of mine, there’s no way I can not use this wand.  My deepest thanks go to Raven Orthaevelve and Sr. Satelle. for their extraordinary generosity and patience with this project.  I couldn’t have done it without these guys for putting up with my incessant questions, nor for helping me out nontrivially with supplies.

Now, some of you may mention, “But polyphanes, don’t you have two other wands?”  Why, yes, I do!  I have the fire wand I made back in 2011 as a fire-specific wand, and my original wand that I made for my Table of Practice at the beginning of this journey.  The ebony Wand, though, replaces both of them.  The fire wand is dedicated to a friend of mine for use in his Work, while the other wand…I haven’t yet decided what to do with it just yet.  I may keep it to sell or as a gift, or as a “travel wand” just in case.  We’ll see, I suppose.  I’m certainly not opposed to selling or passing on my own ritual tools, especially the ones I made in my magical infancy, but if that’s the case, I prefer that people use them to start with, make better ones, and pass the old ones on to others as I would.

Thoughts on a Grammatomantic Calendar

Earlier this year, I produced my first ebook, a short text detailing the history and use of grammatomancy, or divination using the Greek alphabet much as one might use runes for divination. It’s an interesting system, and I combined the ancient oracular meanings of the letters with their isopsephic (gematria) meanings, stoicheic (planetary/elementary/astral) meanings, and qabbalistic symbolism to produce a full divination system suitable for any student of the magical arts. It got real complicated real fast, but also real complete in the process. (If you don’t have a copy, stop being lazy and get one here.)

As some of my readers may know, I make use of this every day (mostly) for my Twitter/Facebook feeds under the posts “Daily Grammatomancy”. It’s helped me and others plan our days out, using a simple oracle for how the day will go; the question I ask for our mutual and communal benefit is “for myself and for all who come in contact with my words, for this day, this very day: how best should we live our lives in accordance with the divine will of the immortal gods?”. For some people, it’s no better than a newspaper horoscope; for others, it hits dead on time and time again.

Doing this for a while has lead some of my friends to start pursuing their own daily divination methods. One such friend, Raven Orthaevelve (who is a fantastic artist and crafter whom you should totally buy and commission things from for anything fancy, magical, or otherwise), has started using the Mayan calendar as a divination tool. This isn’t any 2012 bullshit, either; the Mayan calendar was known for being a reasonably complex set of interlocking cycles. One such calendar used for these cycles is the tzolk’in, a 260-day calendar made up of 13 20-day “months”. Each day has a particular name and divinatory meaning which forms the basis of much of Mayan divination, natal astrology, and prognostication. Raven posts her interpretations of the tzolk’in daily on her Facebook, and will eventually build in other Mayan cycles into the mix for a more complex and complete daily prognostication.

In some sort of weird feedback loop, this has started to help me pursue my own idea of a cyclical divination using Greek letters. In other words, although the daily grammatomantic divination would be helpful for specific days, a day might generally have a particular meaning based on its location in a cycle of days; combining the two can help focus knowledge and energy for particular problems, much as one might combine the cycle of planetary days and planetary hours for rituals. Interesting as this idea might be, though, it’d be incredibly difficult; there’s no information I can find that this was done in ancient times, so it’d be a new innovation. Add to it, the development of any kind of calendrical cycle is difficult (as my experiments with forming a ritual calendar for planning things out have shown).

One option I might explore is just using the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet in making a type of calendar. 15 repetitions of this cycle would produce 360, a very nice number indeed; if I were to tie it to the solar year, then it’d produce 5 or 6 intercalary days that would not be associated with any particular letter. This kind of practice isn’t uncommon by any means: the Mayans used a similar practice with their haab’ calendar: 18 cycles of 20 days, again producing 360 days with five days (wayeb’) at the end; the ancient Egyptians and modern Copts use 12 cycles of 30 days, again 360 days, plus five or six days at the end. 24 is a pretty convenient number, I have to admit, especially with its divisors and amenability to larger cycles of 12, 360, and the like.

Plus, if I were to use this cycle of 15 months of 24 days, I could further associate each month with a particular letter, which could afford another general cycle around the day-letter cycle. Say that we associate the first month of the first year with Α, then the second with Β, and so forth. Because the year only has 15 months, the last month of the first year would be Ο, and the first month of the second year would be Π; likewise, the first month of the third year would be Η, the first month of the fourth year would be Χ, and so forth. This produces a cycle such that every 9th year has the first month starting with Α; thus, there are eight distinct years with this month-letter cycle. And if we have a month-letter cycle, we could also expand this to a year-letter cycle, such that three such month-letter cycles form one year-letter cycle, or 24 years (8 × 3 = 24). Alternatively, we might have a great year-letter cycle, where one month-letter cycle is given a letter, and 24 month-letter cycles completes a great year-letter cycle; this would be a cycle of 8 × 24 = 192 years. At this point, I’d just be forming cycles for the sake of cycles for a kind of neo-Greek long count calendar, but it’d be nifty all the same for finer, long-term gradations of influences.

To use such a cycle, however, I’d need to use a particular day as a start date, at least for the months. Although the Greek alphabet oracle as I use it was found in modern Turkey, different parts of ancient Greece used different calendars with different start dates for individual years. The Attic calendar, about which we know the most among all ancient Greek calendars, started on the first new moon after the summer solstice; other Greek calendars often started off between autumn and winter. For simplicity, I’d say that either the spring equinox (to tie it in with astrology) or the summer solstice (to tie it in with Athenian practice) would be the official start date. Thus, the five or six days leading up to this start date (according to the Gregorian calendar) would be the intercalary days, which would have no letters assigned to it; alternatively, I might devise a scheme to associate particular letters with these intercalary days based on specific properties of the letters. This doesn’t even mention where the month-cycles (years of day-letters) would begin, or what the anchor date might be.

If I were to use the Attic practice of using the summer solstice as the start date, though, why not actually go ahead and use the Attic calendar itself as the basis for my cycle? The Attic calendar, specifically the festival calendar used to determine festivals and rituals, was a lunisolar calendar. There were 12 months as determined by the observation of the Moon; months began on the first sighting of the New Moon just after syzygy (νουμηνια, “new moon”), and ended on the day of the syzygy itself (ενη και νεα, “old and new”). Thus, the months could be 30 days (full months) or 29 days (hollow months). A month was divided into three periods of ten days each, which I’ll call decamera; if the month was hollow, then the third decameron would have only nine days, with the usual 29th day being omitted entirely.

The problem with using this type of lunisolar calendar is that there are more days in a month (29 or 30) than there are letters in the Greek alphabet (24). Even if I were to include the obsolete letters digamma, qoppa, and sampi for a total of 27 letters, this would still leave three days leftover. This might be remedied by throwing “letterless” days into the mix, on which no advice can be given, as well as making the obsolete letters effectively “letterless” since they have no associated oracles or stoicheic meaning. They have isopsephic meaning, however, which can be substituted with Hebrew gematraic meanings (and, through them, Hebrew stoicheic meanings), but this is starting to overreach and combine different traditions.

However, the use of those three decamera within each month does lend itself well to the Greek alphabet, assuming we use the full body of 27 letters. Using isopsephy, the letters Α through Θ (including digamma) are given to values 1 through 9, Ι through qoppa are given to 10 through 90, and Ρ through sampi are given to 100 through 900. Thus, we have nine letters per decameron, of which two days per period are letterless (or one day for the final period in the case of a hollow month); one for the obsolete letter in the mix and one extra letterless day at the end of the period. In this manner, we’d have a method to create a grammatomantic lunisolar calendar, which would be interesting to use. There’d be gaps in the calendar, of course, but it’s no worse than other magical calendars I’ve seen, e.g. PGM VII.155-167 or the Munich Manual, for determining which day of a given month is good or bad for magic or divination.

Using a year of 12 months is convenient, and can make the process of assigning letters to each month much simpler: a month-cycle of two years can be had here, since two years of 12 months produces 24 months, one for each letter. That said, the issue with lunisolar calendars is that the months get out of sync without an embolismic month, or intercalary month every so often. Using the ancient Metonic cycle of 19 years, there would be 12 “short” years (years with 12 months) and 7 “long” years (years with 13 months). The embolismic month could be held as letterless and placed at the end of the year in long years. Thus, every two years would complete one month-letter cycle in this lunisolar scheme; due to the parity of the Metonic cycle, every 38 years would complete one year-letter cycle. Using the Babylonian and Hebrew method of assigning embolismic months, years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19 would be long years.

So, that turned out to be a much longer discussion on calendrical cycles for divination than I intended. Then again, calendars and cycles have never been easy to work with for any culture or era. In all honesty, the use of the simple 15 months of 24 days plus intercalary days is highly appealing for the sake of its simplicity and ability to lend itself to cycles within cycles. There is something to be said for the attribution of letters to the lunisolar months, though, especially for the sake of timing rituals or determining favorable lunar influences for a given letter. I’ll try drafting the rules and algorithms for these two types of grammatomantic calendars, along with date calculation methods, and see where that gets me.  The next few posts will go over these two types of calendars, one based on the solar cycle of the seasons and one based on the lunisolar cycle of the lunar months as tied to the seasons, so stay tuned!

Esoteric Dishwashing

Recently, I was asked to participate in an exorcism and cleansing of a house that had something nasty stuck inside it.  I won’t go into all the details, especially since it was a group effort between me and some of my colleagues, but it turned out rather well for the stuff we had done.  Long story short, the first thing we did was neutralize the demon (more properly, a shade of the dead that had twisted itself into a creature of hate and loathing) and trapped it.  With the major source of the astral ick isolated, we collectively went around the house, blasted away most of the negative energies in the place, introduced nice and pleasant energies, and sealed off the property by setting in place some protective charms around the property.  I did something similar to this for a few friends’ a while back, which operated on most of the same principles, but which didn’t have nearly as bad as an astral ick as this place did.

For my friends and I, the process of cleansing a house is a lot like doing dishes.  Imagine, dear reader, that you have some kind of cooking implement, like a large pot, that’s been sitting there for a while.  You used it once way back when and let it sit in the sink for god-knows-how-long, and it smells.  Not only that, but the leftover food in it has probably started to mold and attract roaches, making your kitchen a rather unsavory and unhygienic place to be.  Left for even longer, the situation only ever gets worse, and eventually you’re gonna have to take care of that.  Barring terrible cooking experiences, the easiest time to take of things is just after you finish them up, lest any residue or grime build up on itself.  Sometimes, you just don’t have the time to wash things, or sometimes things are just too bad to clean on one’s own.  In these cases, you need to actually work in several stages to get the pot to its original clean state: removing anything that’s causing the stink or grime or mold to get worse, scour the pan thoroughly, wash it and make it pretty again, then dry it and keep it dry until further use is needed.

Similarly, performing a thorough banishing or exorcism of a house, person, or place requires several steps:

  1. Blast out the causes of the ick.  It’s hard to take care of symptoms if the underlying cause isn’t fixed first.  If there’s any bad problem entity in the place, get rid of it, whether by entreating it to leave, asking higher powers to make it leave, or banishing/trapping it yourself.  Contain it, limit it, loosen its grip on the place, do what you need to to get this thing gone.  Depending on one’s method, this could be a short or long process, simple or complicated (as in anything else with magic).  This is like prying off the big chunks of food that’ve been molding and attracting bugs to the pan.
  2. Scour any residual ick.  Now that the thing that’s causing the influx of astral ick is dealt with, it’s time to clean up whatever’s left over.  Take some good banishing incense, belt out a license to depart for whatever’s there that shouldn’t be, light all the candles and turn on all the lights, and wipe out whatever darkness, defilement, impurity, filth, plague, curse, crossing, or whatever is left.  Get rid of it all.  It helps to actually clean the house in addition to cleansing it: sweep, vacuum, mop, dust, wipe, the whole nine yards.  Get rid of any and all dirt and grime, material and spiritual.  In dishwashing terms, after the big chunks are gone, it’s time to take a scouring pad or brush to the rest of the pan to get it all decent for actual cleaning.
  3. Cleanse, purify, and brighten the place.  Now that the place is cleared out, it’s time to make it pretty again.  Light some blessing, prosperity, happiness, or healing incense, bless the place with light, play some good music, tell some good jokes, laugh around the place, have a small low-key party for yourself.  Make your place livable and enjoyable again, now that the bad crap is out.  This would be when you take some pleasant dish soap and gently clean the pan with a sponge, making sure to cover it all in sanitizing, sweet-smelling, wholesome goodness.
  4. Seal in the purity and seal off the place.  Don’t let all your hard work go to waste by letting bad stuff in right away.  Now that your domain is clean and clear, keep it that way by erecting some defenses.  Stake out the corners of your property, ask for help from the spirits of the land or angels, set up shields and wards, anoint all points of entry with protective oil, and keep the place locked down from any incoming ick and open to any incoming shinies that are actually good for you.  After all, after you finish cleaning that nasty-ass pan, you carefully set it to dry and remain sanitized and keep it away from any other dirt and grime.

The process is simple, really, and implementing it could be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it and as the situation calls for it.  For example, my friends took care of blasting out the demonic presence and trapped it on their own, and all I could volunteer was my lil’ Solomonic triangle to make sure it was kept locked down.  To scour the place out, I lit a consecrated candle in each room of the house and went around the whole house with a censer filled with tear gas-like banishing incense (star anise, black pepper, habanero pepper, basil, asafoetida, dragon’s blood, etc.) while crying out “BEGONE, BEGONE ALL EVIL SPIRITS”.  Though it smelled terrible and made us all cough (even me, wearing a thick handkerchief on my face), it definitely cleared the place out of most of the residual gunk that had built up in the place.  To cleanse it after scouring the house, I went around with a bottle of blessing and cleansing water (lemon ammonia, holy oil, Florida water, peace water, champagne, etc.) with us all telling jokes, singing songs, and laughing about the place.  We afterward went out to a fire pit in the back yard and each threw a handful of blessing incense on it (frankincense, copal, rose, lavender, bergamot, vervain, allspice, nutmeg, olive leaf, bay leaf, etc.) and let the smoke waft all in and around the house.  We went around the house afterward and nailed in four large iron nails on the corners of the property, anointed with Fiery Wall of Protection oil and other materials and wrapped in warding and shielding signs, and linked them all together spiritually in the center of the property.  All in all, the process took maybe a little over an hour.  Smooth, solid, and fast work, all things considered.

The only thing we had no control over was, as ever, the human element.  Just like how dishes remain only as clean as you make them and only for as long as you let them, it’s up to the people who live at the house to keep it clean, pure, and safe.  The way we set up the wards, no bad stuff could enter their space so long as they didn’t let it in or start shit themselves.  If that’s done, the things they’ll cause will have as much access as they will to their space, not to mention their own emotions and troubles they have to deal with.  Still, with a bit of care and some minor consultation and advice, the human element isn’t hard to manage.  It’s like repeatedly finding a dish in the sink that your roommate uses constantly but always forgets to wash after using it; no matter how clean you make it and want it to stay, unless it’s actively kept clean, it won’t stay that way.

Maintaining purity is something that has to be actively done on multiple levels over time; it’s not just a one-time thing.  You don’t take a single shower in your life and be done with it; you don’t wash a single dish and expect it to remain clean forever; you don’t banish a place once and expect it to maintain purity forever.  It has to be kept up and protected, touching things up here and there, to make sure that nothing gets too out of hand. Working with a set of forces amenable to housekeeping like this is a good idea; the angels are always helpful, as are land spirits who are usually more than willing to keep their own turf happy and pleasing.  Maintaining your own purity and authority is a good idea, too, especially if you plan to be up against anything powerful and malevolent, since you may have to apply elbow grease of a pugnacious variety in order to get shit done.  Still, it’s better than living with roaches, leeches, or mold everywhere.

Birthday Weekend Wrap-Up

I probably tricked you all into thinking I’ve been fairly active lately with the blog, given the large number of posts that’ve gone up recently ranging from orgone to magic circles to philosophy in magic.  Truth be told, I was working out a huge input of Mercurial force in my life from the cazimi election last month, and hot damn did it make me active with minor projects and writing, not to mention social.  I had some posts scheduled for the past week or so, mostly so I could enjoy a pleasantly long birthday weekend.  (God bless my mother for ejecting me from her loins on a federal holiday weekend.)  Yes, dear reader, I am now one year older and undergoing my fantastic second Jupiter return, along with a Solar and Cytherean return!  Astrologers in the crowd, you have my permission to feel old now.

Between getting drunk on presidential debate drinking games, going to a spa with friends, catching up on a few conjurations and trips to other places both physically and astrally, it’s been a blast these past few days.  The big highlight of the weekend was going to Crucible Convention, a yearly conference of mages, magicians, pagans, occultists, and other workers in the Ars Arcanorum.  It was fantastic to meet people that I’ve only read or met online through chats or the blogosphere: Pallas Renatus and his beautiful lady, Frater Rufus Opus and his glorious seeress-cum-partner, Tolderoll’s erudite and classy swank, Jason Miller’s awesomeness, and others.  Part of what made me feel so happy to go was the sublime discovery that these people I read, look up to, and follow on the Internets drink, cuss, and fuck around just as much as I do (God bless the world and all its wonders).  Plus, there was enjoying about twelve hours of panels, workshops, and discussions, helped out by caffeine and gin:

  1. “Space/Time Magic 101” by Taylor Ellwood.  This was a telepresentation, done over Skype, which was fitting for the topic.  However, the hotel wireless in the convention area was spotty at best, which led to a very disjointed presentation (also, perhaps, fitting).  However, despite the name and technical difficulties, I thought it was more appropriately focused on probability magic, which is something I’m interested in that not many people seem to know how to do or explain appropriately.  Mr. Ellwood went over a few sigil-based techniques to enhance probabilities of certain events over others, chaining sigils together to bring several unconnected events into manifestation together, and how to work with alternate realities in subtle but useful ways.
  2. A panel on “Balancing and Polarity in Modern Magic”.  This was hosted by a variety of people, two of whom I follow on the blogosphere somewhere and one I got to meet at the convention.  This wandered all over the place, and was less on polarity as it was different methods to achieving a goal; in a sense, the talk seemed to focus on largely between right-handedness and left-handedness (occult chirality?  occhirality?) in getting shit done with tangents on male/female, sex/gender, purity/eclecticism, and other kinds of balances than what some people might’ve meant.  Really cool talk, and it showed off how different people are in their approaches and styles of talking, which helped for the rest of the convention.
  3. “Magic and Anthropology” by George Hansen.  A real academic treat!  Mr. Hansen went over lots of topics in anthropology, mostly focusing on the power magicians get socially from their marginal, “between and betwixt” state.  Between the poles of religion and science, God and man, man and beast, and life and death, we find magic everywhere in all kinds of society.  It’s this between-state in which magic can be found, but also cryptozoology (Bigfoot, yetis, Loch Ness monster), ufology (flying saucers, alien abductions), poltergeist and ghost activity, and other kinds of paranormal activities which can often appear to be interrelated.  I wish I got a set of his handouts, but the dude was a fantastic presenter.
  4. “Financial Sorcery: The Lightning Glyphs” by Inominanum (Jason Miller).  Although “Extreme Lightning Sorcery” was deemed too pompous even by this fantastic sorcerer, Mr. Miller went through part of his new Financial Sorcery material with lightning speed and precision.  The Sixteen Lightning Glyphs were revealed to him by the god Jupiter to help bring more good, Jovial things into the world, and range from money-drawing to pure luck symbols.  Really cool stuff, and he ended the presentation with a simple-but-potent ritual to Jupiter.  The place was buzzing and damn near electrical with the woo, which was fantastic.
  5. “Angels, Demons, and Magicians (Oh My!): Hermetic Hijinks on the Emerald Road” by Fr. Rufus Opus.  RO’s Pentacostal past has done him good; he was fully taking on the persona of kickass priest-king of the world and preaching the good word of Hermetic philosophy and theurgy.  He recapped his experiences, the Neoplatonic cosmology, the place of man in the cosmos, and any number of anecdotes from his life.  While the last presentation created a jolt of Jupiter in the air, this really rarefied it and cemented it.  Seeing and hearing what RO’s done is a real inspiration, especially for one who’s taking his classes and studying this stuff on his own.  Sitting with other members of his courses was fun, too!
  6. “Magick, Language, and Numbers” by Shawn Knight.  I…actually didn’t go to this one, though I expected to.  I was getting more shots of gin with Rufus Opus, Pallas Renatus,  and their ladies.  Lovely chats all around, though.

After this, a few cigarettes, and some wandering about, there was the party and the rest of the night.  Leaving early the next morning was a shame, since I’d’ve loved to stay longer and get breakfast with the folks there, but now I know.  Next year, perhaps…?  Anyhow, beyond the above panels and discussions, I also learned a few other interesting things:

  • Furries and occultists effect similar fashions and act similarly at conventions.  Must be a geek thing.
  • It’s really amusing to overhear a conversation between one’s HGA and one’s patron god in their head while they’re having drinks.  Sometimes one’d be dismissive and uninterested while the other was all engaged and excited about something going on around them, and other times they’d be debating something and making the other drink more.
  • Conventions go much better drunk.  Duh.  I should have recalled this from my other con trips.
  • Everyone likes gin, just maybe not straight.
  • Everyone lines more gin with their gin.
  • If anyone ever offers you a drink named “the Balrog”, especially offered in an empty jug and labeled with blue painter’s tape, DO NOT ACCEPT THE OFFER.  Holy mother of fuck.
  • The Omnimancers, the group that hosts Crucible, are a fantastic and tightly close-knit gang.  Might I have any Omnis in the audience?  Speak up, because I may have questions for you in the future.

And now I need to start heading to bed and rejoin the world again.  This was a fantastic vacation and break from the usual, and to all those who helped me out, who made me laugh, who’s now a friend or a better one than before, thank you!  You’re ringing in this 24th year for me quite fantastically already!  Now I need to get back to crafting and reading my new gobs of books, shucks.