Search Term Shoot Back, February 2015

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of February 2015.

“saturn%25252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252525252bsabbath” — Oh really, now?  I’m not sure why you’re using the % sign so much in that query (%25 is a common way to represent the % sign itself in some encodings), but…I mean, Saturn is in a little bit of everything, Hermetically speaking, so yes, you could represent how closely something is associated with Saturn as a percentage?  I guess?

“where does wiccan writing come from” — You likely mean the Theban alphabet.  This script was adopted at some point by people in Wicca, though I’m not sure when or why.  It was given as a magical writing system for the Roman script by Agrippa (book III, chapter 29), and we find this same script appear in Johann Trithemius’s Polygraphia, which makes sense as Trithemius was Agrippa’s mentor.  However, this script predates Trithemius, originating in alchemical cipher scripts of medieval and Renaissance Europe.  Trithemius claims that it started with Honorius of Thebes (yes, the same one after whom the Sworn Book of Honorius is named after) “as given by Pietro d’Abano”, though d’Abano gives no such reference.  There are some theories that the Theban writing system was loosely based on Georgian script or Ethiopian script, though these still seem far-fetched to my mind.

“hermetic how consecrate a orisha” — You don’t.  End of.  Orisha are not part of the Hermetic tradition; they’re part of the African diasporic religions that originate in Yoruba culture and mixed with European Christian saint veneration and American indigenous traditions, like Cuban (Santeria) or Brazilian (Candomble).  If you want to consecrate a vessel for an orisha, you’ll need to be part of those traditions, which keep those methods and tools as secret mysteries one has to be initiated into.  If you want to approach an orisha on your own, you can do that in a way not unlike calling a Greek or Roman god or a planetary power, but you’d do best to approach them in the way they’re traditionally called.  Go to your local botanica or ile to ask more.  Besides, the Hermetic tradition is jam-packed with spirits of all kinds, types, names, and histories all their own.  It’s a complete system and framework for approaching the cosmos, and even though it can incorporate or understand other traditions from within itself, there really is no need to borrow so liberally from other traditions just because you want an exotic flavor in your own work.

“what happens when you summon hermes” — I wouldn’t know, since I don’t make it a habit to summon or conjure gods.  I invoke them and call upon them and invite them to be with me or to help me, but I don’t conjure them in the way I conjure an angel.  That seems presumptuous of me, especially since Hermes is usually pretty busy and comes at his leisure and choice rather than my forceful summons.

“what spirit should be my first conjuration?” — Personally, I suggest a spirit close to you.  Land spirits of places you frequent often, such as a park or an office building, or even your own home, are fantastic.  Ancestor spirits and people from whom you’re descended are also easy to come in contact with, and being their progeny, you already have an in with them that makes for an easy contact.  If you want to go with angels, I suggest Uriel, not just because Uriel was the first angel I went with, but because Uriel is the angelic king associated with Earth, and thus the angel closest to humanity and the world we live in.  The important thing is to not reach too far, but to pick something easy and relatively safe for conjuration so that you begin to get the feel for what feels right in a context like that.

“how to position candles when conjuring a seal” — I’m not sure about the positioning, but I’m rather more intrigued by your attempt to call forth marine mammals into being with magic.  Seals can be a very good source of fragrance and fuel materials, to be sure.

“was pope gregory or psuedo dionys first wirh archangel names” — Neither, actually.  There are references to seven archangels, and archangels generally, that predate Pope Gregory and Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite by centuries.  We find Michael in the Book of Daniel and Raphael in the Book of Tobit, and we find more extensive archangel names in the Books of Enoch, all of which were written long before the births of Greg or P.-D.

“wiccan language” — You mean English?

“summoning ghost rituals aaaaaaaaaa” — Dude, it’s not that scary.  Relax.

“sigils greek gods” — The Greek gods don’t really have seals or sigils of their own; they simply weren’t worked with like that, and the use of seals is very much a later thing.  We find the use of barbarous words of power and celestial characters in magical writings from the PGM, sure, but nothing like a “seal” like what’s given in the Lemegeton Goetia.  Rather, the Greek gods were usually called upon and prayed to, perhaps using a statue or other sacred image of them as a focus.

“occultic gay love bonding” — I’m game for it; I’m always for using magic for getting laid and getting paid, and all the better if you live happily ever after.  Thing is, since most people are straight, most magic is, too.  Doesn’t mean that queer/gay/trans/agender magic is wrong or trivial, though, though it is hard to come by.  There’s one spell from olden times I know of specifically for male-male love, but that’s about it.  Generally speaking, any romance or love spell you can think of will work as well for same-sex or agendered relationships as it would for different-sex relationships.  However, if that ritual uses very gendered elements (one partner has High John the Conqueror root and one partner has Queen Elizabeth root, or there’s some combination of a phallus and vagina candle), you may want to change those as desired for the proper effect.

“kybalion is male focused” — Ugh.  The Kybalion is hardly focused at all, and among modern texts, it’s basically swill.  If your only issue with the Kybalion is that it tends to focus on men or masculinity (I guess?), then you need to get out more or read more texts, because there are many more problems in the Kybalion than just that.

 

 

Hail, Alan Turing, Hero!

As part of my new grammatomantic lunar calendar rituals, I’m setting aside three days each lunar month for the veneration of the dead in my life.  The first day is given to my Ancestors of Kin, those to whom I am descended from by blood.  The final day is given to the Ancestors of the Great, culture heroes and other Mighty Dead who shaped the world we all live in.  The second day, however (associated with the letter Qoppa, and held this lunar month on June 16), I give to my Ancestors of Work, famous people to whom I look up to for the things I do in my life.  They’re like my family ancestors, but with ties of labor and field rather than blood and kin, a family linked together by the things we do rather than who we are.  As a magician, I put people like Pythagoras, Orpheus, Cornelius Agrippa, Crowley, and the like in there, but magic isn’t the only thing I do.  My day-job professional and academic career is based in computer science, and today, on the 60th anniversary of his death, I’d like to recognize Alan Turing, one of the greatest computer scientists the world has ever had.

Alan Turing

Born on June 23, 1912, Alan Turing came from Irish, English, and Scottish family, and had a natural inclination towards mathematics from a young age.  This didn’t serve him too well in public schools at the time, when education focused more on classics than what we’d consider hard sciences today; still, even at 16 and not only reading but expanding on the work of none other than Albert Einstein, the dude was pretty cool at the things he was good at.  His work really shone through in the early development of computer science, working on one of the most famous problems of mathematics, the Entscheidungsproblem, or “Decision Problem”, the solution to which was that there was no solution at all.  Not only would this have surprised some of the most famous mathematicians of the time, but it’s become a central topic in computer science taught from the beginning ever since.

Not only was he a brilliant computer scientist and mathematician, but Turing also served the British Army, especially helping during World War II.  With his extensive knowledge of mathematics and science, Turing became one of the foremost codebreakers and leaders in deciphering enemy ciphers.  Not only did he produce general means to break German codes, while other methods used at the time were fragile and relied on too many assumptions, he also provided efficient means of breaking various types of code, helping to critically fight the German war machine (in several senses).  After WWII, he furthered the field of computer science as well as that of artificial intelligence, and pursued several advances in chemistry.

Despite having chatted with the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, occasionally ran the 40 miles from his office to London, and inducted into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by King George VI, and basically invented modern computer science in an accessible manner, the world at that time effectively condemned him: he was gay.  After having his house robbed by an acquaintance of a lover of his, and noted that fact to the police, he was charged with indecency, since homosexuality was still illegal at that time in Britain.  Charged with this non-crime, he pleaded guilty (despite having no guilt nor shame for being gay, as he damn well shouldn’t’ve), he was given the choice of imprisonment or probation with chemical castration; he chose the latter, which would allow him to continue working, but it rendered him impotent and caused gynaecomastia.  This, combined with reparative treatment to “cure” his homosexuality (which we know nowadays from the “ex-gay” movement never works and only causes further harm), did nothing good.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, June 10 2010

Adding insult to injury, he lost his security clearance and was barred from continuing with cryptographic research with the government (even though he pretty much won WWII for them), and was even barred from entering into the United States.  He died on June 7, 1954, only at 41 years old.  Two years after his conviction and beginning of hormone treatment, with an investigation reporting that he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning with a half-eaten apple near his body, which is thought to be (but never confirmed) to be how he killed himself.  Rumor has it that this is where the original rainbow-colored partially-bitten apple logo came from for the Apple computer company, but that’s not the official story.

Today, I honor Alan Turing especially as a hero in my life.  An incredible amount of the technology I use and work I produce is indebted to him, not only because he helped develop the computer, but also because he helped turn the tides of war that could’ve endlessly shaped the world some 70 years ago.  His brilliance shines as a light for me, as a computer scientist but also as a human being.  Being a gay man myself, my heart breaks every time I recall how the world back then treated him for being the same way, and I pray that neither I nor anyone else has to undergo that sort of blatant bigotry and persecution.  Like Turing himself, though, I bear no guilt nor shame for who I am, and I take only joy in the work I do.  I’ll likely never run 40 miles nor ever care to, but hey, more power to Turing for doing that, too.

Ave, Alan Turing.  May your memory never be forgotten, and may your name and spirit always live on.  Guide our minds to know what can be known, and guide our hearts to love whom we will love, both without fear and without scorn.  Help us and be with us in our work, and may we thank you every time information flows through the fruits of your labors to us.

I don’t usually reblog things, but this is important. Your regularly scheduled De Geomanteia post will go up today as well, but please take the time to read this and understand what I and millions of other LGBT people are going through today as two significant cases go before the Supreme Court. Here’s hoping for a victory for equal rights for all Americans and all humans, though this should never have been fought for anyway.

CJR

I’m writing this down for three reasons. First, I’ve been asked dozens of times ‘how this feels’ by friends and family over the past few weeks. Second, I think this might be interesting to look back on in 10 or 20 years as what it was like “back then.” And third, I can’t sleep, so why not.

This week, nine men and women who collectively make up the Supreme Court will consider if I, and millions like me, have the right to marry. They may decide this in the context of California, they may decide that the federal government can’t tell my state what to do with my marriage, or they may change the shape of gay marriage laws nationwide. They may deal a painful blow and decide that there is no such right.

No pressure.

There are certainly others with more of a stake in this than I have…

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An Ancient Queer Love Spell (because why not?)

(Update 1/9/2018: Interested in more about this ritual?  Check out my more polished, fleshed-out writeup over on this page!)

Readers of this blog may have picked up on many things about me and what I tend to write about, specifically these two:

  1. I like old magical shit, being a Hermetic ceremonial magician.
  2. I like guys for fun and sex, being a guy who, well, likes guys.

With those in mind, it’s always cool to see queer or gay icons in the magical literature, since it makes me feel a little more comfortable.  After all, the recent talks in the blogosphere about the Scarlet Woman are nice and all, but don’t do me much good.  Granted that “going Greek” is what I like to go for, it turns out that this often wasn’t the case for magicians of yore (though who can say what the magisters would do with those young boy seers after the rituals).

I was browsing recently through a book I got for my birthday, “Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power” edited by Marvin W. Meyer and Richard Smith, which is like a Coptic version of the PGM and has texts that range from the 1st to 14th centuries A.D.  The texts and structure are generally the same, being old Mediterranean magic, though the holy names and pictures are a little unfamiliar.  All the same, I was browsing through the book and found a nifty little thing that some magi (magaysters?) might be interested in: the following is a love-binding spell used by one man on another (Papapolo son of Noe and Phello son of Maure, respectively) from the Ashmolean Museum Collection (1981.940), probably from around the 6th century A.D.  Like other old-school love spells, this took the form of a binding much like a defixio, forcing the target to seek out the worker and giving them rest only once they were both together, but this one is notable for being one explicitly from one man to another.

It was intended to be folded up and placed near the door or home of the target, and to cause them to seek out the worker endlessly until they found him.  The book says that “ring signs” were put between the “ROUS” line and the next paragraph, though doesn’t have an illustration; I assume one might put sigils of love or seals of spirits to help out in this matter.  I’ve edited the text slightly for spelling and format.

† SELTATALBABAL KARASHNEIFE ANNAS KNEKIE
By the power of IAO SABAOTH!
ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS ROUS

† † † I adjure you by your powers and your amulets and the places where you dwell and your names, that just as I take you and put you at the door and the pathway of NN. son of NN., so also you must take his heart and his mind; you must dominate his entire body!

When he tries to stand, you must not allow him to stand.
When he tries to sit, you must not allow him to sit.
When he lies down to sleep, you must not allow him to sleep.
He must seek me from town to town, from city to city, from field to field, from region to region, until he comes to me and subjects himself under my feet, me whose name is NN. son of NN.,
While his hand is full of all goodness, until I satisfy him with the desire of my heart and the demand of my soul with pleasant desire and love unending,
Right now, right now, at once, at once!
Do this now, do my work!

Just as an aside, the bit in the last paragraph about “his hand is full of goodness”?  That could be taken two ways, depending on the cultural frame of reference: in Egyptian culture, this refers to one’s generosity as one lover to another, but in Hebrew culture, “hand” was a euphemism for the penis, so it really could go either way here.  Because of this, I don’t know whether the spell would work as well on a woman, but I don’t see why this wouldn’t work on a man for a woman, either.

Follical Oppression

This was a post I made long ago back when I had a Facebook account, and then a Tumblr account.  I don’t have the original text anymore, so I rewrote it, but it’s among my better pieces of writing and thought.  I just felt like writing and getting this off my chest, but chew on this for a bit, if you like.

Imagine that you’re a brunette.  You were born that way, but it’s natural and it looks good on you.  The thing is, though, that you’re the only brunette you know: everyone else around you, everyone you’ve ever seen, is blonde.  Growing up, all your family members were blonde, as were your friends and teachers.  It’s all you ever saw, and once you developed a sense of self-awareness, you began to feel self-conscious about it; when your schoolmates developed a sense of meanness, they started making fun of you, calling you “poophead” or “dirty hair”.  Sometimes, you’d feel so bad about yourself that you’d run home crying from school, or you’d develop a fear of hanging out with anyone, wary that they’d judge you for something as stupid as your hair color.

Your parents hoped it was just a phase that you’d grow out of and become blonde once you grew up a bit.  Your friends generally lost interest in hanging out with you, not wanting to be associated with someone so stand-out weird.  The more you look at the world, the more you see how pervasive blondeness is: all the movies, television shows, and music videos you’ve ever seen have blonde people; all the people in the government or positions of power have blonde hair (when they have hair left, that is); all the ads you see in magazines or on the roadsides all feature blonde people.  It gets to you, and makes you feel less and less accepted over time.  It’s like everything is geared towards blonde people, leaving you with a feeling of isolation.  It wasn’t your fault that you were born a brunette, though; that’s just how you are.  

You graduate high school, and now that you’re a little older and trying to be accepted in the world and get into a good job or college, you’ve tried making over your image.  You tried cutting off your hair to pull the bald look, but that only got frustrating with how much maintenance that required, and people would continue to look at you funny but for less-mean reasons.  You tried wearing a hat, which covered up your hair and what eventually became your shame.  That worked even less well than buzzing it all off, since people would still be able to see it peek through under the brim or when you’d take it off.

You once tried dying your hair blonde, and that worked well.  People who didn’t know you before took a liking to you without question, and those who did know you instantly became more friendly.  People started accepting you because of such an easy trick, but it bothered you.  Blonde hair didn’t really match you or your look, and it was hard to get used to.  Plus, you had to keep redying your hair to make sure nobody saw the roots.  It wasn’t a permanent fix, though, and you knew that as soon as you cut off the illusion, people would go back to turning their back on you.  Dying your hair was costly, both in terms of money and mental health: to have to keep up the illusion, set up in utter privacy, around everyone in public, without letting anybody know, for an extended period of time is no easy thing.

Eventually, you hear of some blonde-purist groups who insist that anyone who isn’t blonde is, well, unacceptable to put it mildly.  They claim that brunettes and redheads (another rare color that you’ve only ever seen about in mocking jokes) are despicable people, only barely better than those freaks who dread their hair, dye it crazy colors, or decorate it with beads or extensions.  They absolutely hate anyone who isn’t blonde like them; although most people don’t associate with those purist guys, they don’t necessarily disagree with them either, or at least keep silent about their own views.  Still, even if you kept dying your hair every day to be blonde, your blood would always run cold when you see shirts or logos of those kinds of groups.  The fear that some people would find out about your secret sometimes has you curled up in bed at night, crying or trembling out of terror, hoping that nobody saw your roots that you only just noticed when you got home.

You know that some of your friends support the existence of brunettes, so long as they don’t try to dye their or others’ children’s hair, and some of your friends just don’t care or even like to keep brunettes and the like among their friends.  However, you’re often too scared to let anybody know about your secret, which shouldn’t really matter since it’s just hair color, but you know that there are people potentially surrounding you that would gladly hurt you for being what you are: alive and different.  One of your friends revealed to you that he’s also a brunette, but he just keeps his head shaven; still, you kinda admire the guy for even admitting it to you, even though you’re still too scared to reveal it to anyone else.  Your parents know, but they don’t mention it to anybody, and your old friends from school, if any were actually friends after the bullying, are all moved away and far removed from your current life.  As far as anyone around you knows, you’re blonde, and it’s killing you to keep that up, but you’re too scared that it might kill you worse if you don’t.

Now, replace every reference to blonde hair with straight, and brunette with gay or queer, and now you know what it can be like for a queer person to live in the world.  There’s so much discrimination going on against people based on their sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity when it’s all really bullshit.  It’s no more a choice than it is what color your hair is: you can feign asexuality, keep it all a secret, or stay in the closet and pretend to be straight, but if you’re queer, you’re queer.  That’s really all there is to it.  Thinking some people are worse for liking who they like or dressing how they feel proper is about as ridiculous as wanting to hurt someone for being a different hair color.  Two cases in point: Kick a Ginger Day, and Aryan Pride.  Neither are cool, kids.  Don’t participate in either.

Plus, with there being so much in the social sphere oriented towards the straight crowd, it really is easy to just pass over the queer crowd and ignore their existence, needs, and dreams.  They’re still human, and desire human things, true, and I’m not suggesting that we have a queer-content quota for the media, but making the assumption that someone’s straight or gay off the bat isn’t helpful; that’s heteronormativity, and should be consciously toned down whenever possible around strangers until you actually know about them.