On Gender in Magic, or, What to Rename Puer and Puella

Twitter is always full of fun people.  Yeah, the platform is garbage and full of Nazis, white supremacists, TERFs, and a variety of alt-right douchebags, but it’s also been the platform I’ve been on for the longest sustained period of time going back to…god, mid-2010, I guess.  In that time, despite its changes for the worse and the increases of awful people, I’ve also made many good friends on the platform, ranging from furries and fanfiction authors to astrologers and occultists and any number of people in between.  Lately, I’ve been enjoying the company of a good number of (somehow all bewilderingly attractive) astrologers and diviners, which gives me endless entertainment and education (and gawking over how insultingly good they look in their photos).

Not that long ago, one of my mutuals started up a conversation among this very group that struck a chord with me:

This, yes, absolutely, forever.

Even from an early date in my occult studies, stuff about gender has always not set exactly well with me, e.g. the whole bullshit Law of Gender from the Kybalion, yet another reason why I hate and detest the damn text.  I mean, while I am gay, I’m also comfortable in my cisgender identity as a man, but I have quite a few other friends and colleagues who aren’t but who are transgender, genderfluid, nonbinary, agender, or otherwise.  That so much in traditional magical literature relies on a system of gender that doesn’t work for so many of us is…troubling, honestly.  It’s nothing insurmountable for me, and I would hope that it’s likewise not a total obstruction for others, but that it poses a problem for many of us can’t be denied.  Like, for me, who has no sexual or romantic attraction to women, the notion of an element being “feminine” would logically suggest that it should be cut off from me as something inherently foreign, which is certainly not the case.

Time and again we come across scientific evidence and studies that show that there aren’t even always two physical sexes per species, or that the roles and responsibilities of each physical sex shift and change between species or even between stages of life in a species, or which change based on the environment around and hormones within the members of that species.  If occult philosophy is rooted in natural philosophy, i.e. if studying the occult is grounded in studying the world around us, then shouldn’t we actually respect what we find in the world around us rather than imposing a really simplistic view that doesn’t even work for us as a species or a civilization?  To be fair, I do understand and agree that most humans are cisgender and heterosexual, and most animal species reproduce sexually in a way that we can identify as being carried out by something resembling heterosexuality in humans.  That, however, does not mean that it is any more natural than variations seen in gender, sex, or sexual behavior, because those are as natural as the more common set.  Being uncommon does not mean being abnormal.

There’s also the argument that oh, even as a gay man, I should be in touch with my “feminine side”.  Tell me, what is a “feminine side”?  What are the essential qualities that make something feminine?  I know many women who don’t have such qualities, and many men who do.  I know that much of what one culture describes as “feminine” is considered masculine by another culture, or vice versa.  I know that much of what nontoxic masculinity is could easily be described as expected feminine behavior, and vice versa.  To me (and I speak only for myself in this), gender is a role that one plays based on cultural norms, with nothing essential about it; there can be no “masculine side” and “feminine side” because both of those are meaningless terms that just play out in a given context or arena of culture, society, and communication.  To be sure, these things have power and meaning as far as such things do, but there’s nothing essential, fundamental, or elemental about them that needs to be carried into a fair amount (maybe all?) Western magical practices.

I know that it’s certainly traditional to refer to the elements of Fire and Air (and all their corresponding tools, symbols, planets, zodiac signs, and other correspondences) as masculine or male and to Water and Earth (and all their correspondences) as feminine or female, but we can do so much better.  For one, knowing that each element is a combination of heat and moisture, a system going all the way back to Aristotle:

Dry Wet
Hot Fire Air
Cold Earth Water

What quality immediately jumps out at us that links the “masculine” and “feminine” elements?  It’s heat!  The “masculine” elements Fire and Air are both hot, and the “feminine” elements Water and Earth are both cold, so why not just call them hot and cold, or warm and cool, instead?

This and so many other alternatives to “masculine” and “feminine” were proposed in the conversation on Twitter, some of which I like and others I don’t as much care for, including:

  • solar and lunar
  • diurnal and nocturnal
  • odd and even
  • independent and communal
  • fast and slow
  • electric and magnetic
  • celestial and terrestrial
  • light and dark

(Personally, when not using the celestial and terrestrial dichotomy from my Mathēsis stuff, I absolutely adore the electric and magnetic dichotomy, because electricity and magnetism are really the same underlying force that operate in two different ways.)

There is also, of course, the almost-as-traditional “active” and “passive”, but this is dispreferable in another way, because “passive” has some unfortunate connotations that also doesn’t exactly work.  For instance, if I throw a large amount of water onto a fire, well, fire is supposed to be an active element, right?  So it should act upon the water, but what happens is that the water puts out the fire: the “passive” element acts upon the “active” one.  Not exactly helpful in that light.  Plus, the connotations of “active” and “passive” play into the traditional male-female roles during sex, where the “active” man is on top penetrating the “passive” woman on bottom.  Okay, boring.

You could reframe this “active” and “passive” issue using, for instance, “convex” and “concave”.  Consider the Chinese characters for these words: 凸 and 凹, respectively (as might be evident).  Like…you can see it too, right?  It’s not just my mind in the gutter?  If we equate “convex” with “active” and “concave” with “passive”, well…let me tell you that anyone who’s receiving in sex and is just remaining passive is doing sex wrong and should be ashamed of themselves.  You can take it and still run the show.  Being “passive” does not equate with being inert, boring, or ineffectual; being “receptive” or “concave” does not equate with being submissive, unassuming, or calm.

Personally?  I’m all for getting rid of the notions of gender in our elements, tools, zodiac signs, and other correspondences.  You can include them if you like, but I don’t care to have a system or cosmos that’s inherently structured and built upon them, especially when everything has an undivided, indivisible, undifferentiated Source.  You can have polarities and dichotomies and spectrums without having gender, and gender is not the be-all end-all of polarities.  We don’t have to reduce all dichotomies to a socially-bound, Western categorization of how certain people with certain physical differences should behave.  We can be so much better than this. We can do so much better than this.  We don’t have to be locked into a procrustean bed of gender-locked magic and cosmology when we can literally see and interact with cosmic forces that do not follow laws of gender and, indeed, break the very systems that gender tries to support and maintain.

Then I take a deep breath, and I go outside, and I…look at geomancy, and I’m reminded of the figures Puer and Puella.  And I frown, because we have this very gender/sex issue embedded in two of our figures, going back to the founding of geomancy itself.

I’ve gone on at length about these figures before, describing how their elemental structure suggests and effects their divinatory and occult significations, and so much else.  Yet, here it is, the male-female dichotomy itself staring at us in the face.

Geomancy itself is a system built upon dichotomy.  Dichotomy literally means “a cutting (categorization) into two”, which is the fundamental aspect of binary systems.  Geomancy, as a binary system, has rows that have one point or two points.  In this particular case, I think the use of “active” and “passive” is useful to describe such an arrangement, because it’s referring to the literal existence or non-existence of a given element within a figure.  For instance, if Fire is active, then it can cause a change in another figure’s Fire line (odd to even or even to odd); if Fire is passive, then it preserves and takes on whatever is in another Figure’s fire line (odd stays odd and even stays even).  This is how I interpret odd or even as far as numbers go, and to me, the mere presence or absence of an element has nothing to do with that element being “male” or “female”.  Again, gender/sex is just one kind of polarity, if it even is to be reckoned having two poles at all.

So, what to do about Puer and Puella?  Well, I know that the names of figures aren’t fixed.  Throughout the history of geomancy, many sets of names have been applied to the figures, even within the same language.  Stephen Skinner in his Geomancy in Theory and Practice gives a huge table of all the names he’s been able to document for the figures across multiple manuscripts, books, and traditions.  For instance, the figure Fortuna Maior (literally meaning “Greater Fortune”) has also been called:

  • Auxulium intus (interior aid)
  • Tutela intrans (entering assistance)
  • Omen maius (greater omen)
  • Honor intus (interior honor)

Still, despite the variation in names, they all have more-or-less the same meaning.  But then we come to figures that don’t have any similarity with their common names, such as Imberbis (beardless) for Puer.  Such names come from a much older, Arabic-inspired tradition that uses similar names for the figures, which tie into the meanings through other symbolic means; “beardless”, for instance, refers to young men who are yet energetic while still not old enough to have the full features of maturity.  Other names for Puer include Flavus (blond, perhaps referring to the bright golden hair color associated with young children?), Belliger (warring), or even Gladius Erigendus (erect sword, which…mmhm.)

What I’m saying here is that the names of the figures have gone through quite a lot of change and variation over the centuries, and what matters is that the names are descriptive of the meanings of the figures in divination and magic.  Puer means a whole lot more than “boy”, of course, as does Puella than merely “girl”, but a whole set of personality, physical, temperamental, and situational traits that go far beyond merely what might be considered masculine or feminine as determined by medieval European society.  So, why not think of other names for these two figures that can decouple them from a reliance on the male-female distinction?

Personally, I like going with Hero and Host, playing off not just the initial sounds of the words, but on the dichotomy of hostility and hospitality, rough and smooth, or as my mutual above phrased it, “gall and grace”.  They tie into my own meditations and visualizations of the figures, too.  On Puer:

The young man dressed in rags and armor, riding his horse, drops his armor’s visor, raises his sword, and plunges into the fight.  All he’s in it for is to fight, and the fight is real, especially if he’s the one to start it (he usually is).  If he’s on the right side in the fight, he’ll lay his enemies bare and clear the field to pave the way for future foundations; if not, he’ll live to fight for a hopeless and regretful day later.  But that doesn’t matter to him, anyway; he lives for the fight, the struggle, the excitement, the passion, the heat, and the war that never ends for him.  His visor limits his vision, cutting out peripheral vision entirely and causing him to focus on what’s right ahead of him; just so does he only care for the current day and the current battle.  He’s young and without experience of victory, or even finesse in battle, his rashness and recklessness giving him all the flailing speed and power he needs, but he’s fighting not just to fight but also for that experience he lacks.  And, after all, he’s fighting because there’s one thing he’s missing: someone to really fight for.  Don’t expect him to be your ally when you call, but expect him to call on you or pull you into the fight.

And on Puella:

…I saw myself walking into a massive pyramidal hall, an ancient temple with smooth golden sandstone walls neatly fit together rising up to a square hole in the ceiling, with a light shining down into it illuminating everything the temple with a rich, warm, delicate light.  The whole of the temple was filled with treasures, rich tapestries, delicate statues and figurines, and piles of paintings; it was a temple in the old style, a warehouse and storeroom for all the holy treasures a temenos or church would’ve accrued over the centuries.  At the end of the temple, meandering through a forest of statues and stacks of gold, kneeling down in prayer was a young maiden, dressed in the finest dress, modest but alluring, sweet but experienced.  I approached her, and she looked up at me with the most genuine, kindest, warmest smile I’ve ever seen; she stepped up, took my hand, and walked me around the temple.  It was bliss, even for me who doesn’t go for women, but she told me about how she had been expecting me, preparing all this for me, watching out for my arrival; she told me that she wanted to make sure I was alright.  I told her that I was, and by then, she had led me to the entry of the temple and gently guided me out with the kindest and warmest of farewells.  I left with a smile on my face, both in my mind and in my physical body.

You can just as easily swap out “young man” for “young woman” in the former, and “young maiden” with “young prince” in the latter.  Neither of those rely on gender or sex.  There might be an argument for the dot patterns of the figures: some say that Puer represents an erect phallus and Puella an open vagina, and I can agree with those!  But dot patterns are fickle things, and they can be interpreted as any number of other things, too: Puer can represent a sword and Puella a mirror (a la the original forms of the glyphs for the shield-and-spear of Mars and the handheld-mirror of Venus), or Puer could represent a person with their arms low in a defensive fighting stance and Puella a person standing with their arms out in embrace and welcome.  If you’re troubled by the notion of Puer representing a woman because of its emphasis on erection, don’t forget that the clitoris also swells with blood when its owner gets aroused—a.k.a., an erection.  As for men worrying about being seen as womanly by being associated as the Host (née Puella), don’t forget that some of the greatest role models we have for nontoxic masculinity in the West include Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross, the perfect neighbor who welcomed all to his neighborhood and a stunning artist who found beauty in all scenes and spread it to all who wanted it.

As for the new terms, I can also hear some saying “well, hero has a feminine version, ‘heroine’, and host has a female version, ‘hostess’, these aren’t gender-neutral terms!”  Sure, I suppose, if you want to use the French, Latin, or Greek roots of the words we have, where the language was inherently gendered along grammatical lines.  But, at least in English, we don’t really have gender on words unless we force gender onto those words; “host” suffices just fine for men or women, as does “hero”.  We don’t need to specify “hostess” or “heroine” unless we want to emphasize that someone is hosting and is also a woman, or that someone exceptionally brave and courageous is also a woman; we can use the unmarked forms of the words as being applicable to any (or no) gender just fine.  After all, we call women “director”, “doctor”, “administrator”, and “aviator”, not “directrix”, “ductrix”, “administratrix”, or “aviatrix”, which are the proper feminine versions of those words.  We can drop the gendered endings because they’re not necessary unless we want to absolutely reinforce the notion that someone’s gender must be specified at any and every given opportunity.

Will I start using and enforcing the terms Hero and Host on my blog?  For the sake of communication, probably not.  Chances are I’ll just keep them to myself and refer to them that way in my head, using the more popular and common names that have been in solid use for five centuries or more in public for the sake of communication.  Still, when teaching these figures, I think it’d be useful to have an alternate set of names for them as well, which most texts are already liable to do.  Adding another pair of names to help decouple gender from magic isn’t too hard an effort to make, but the results are worth it, I claim.

Search Term Shoot Back, October 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 October 2015.

“can we change our physical gender by occultism” — First, a clarification: sex and gender are two separate things.  Sex is physical and involves the organs, bone structure, and hormones that your body has and produces; generally, this is male or female, but there are cases where someone is born intersexed with a mixture of the two sexual types.  Gender is a mental and social construct, and is a fluid gradient between masculine, feminine, agendered, and other genderqueer (hence the use of third person singular gender-neutral pronouns, i.e. neither “he/his/him” nor “she/her/her”).  Second, magic doesn’t work this way, not like how you asked.  I can no more change myself from a physical man into a woman any more than I can shoot fire from my palms or cause earthquakes by hitting the ground with my staff.  That’s the stuff of the gods and of myth.  Magic is a spiritual influence, not a physical one, and although it has physical effects, it goes through spiritual means to do so.  The Harry Potter stuff is just fantasy, and no more.  Now, you can certainly use magic to make transgender transition easier or more obtainable (easier access to hormone therapy, increased finances for physical reconstruction/plastic surgery, glamor to convince people easier that you’re a particular gender, persuasion to make bigots accept you easier, safety when alone at night or with friends), but there’s no ritual that will just up and change a man into a woman or a woman into a man.

“kybalion santeria” — Ugh. Ew. No. The two should never mix.  The Kybalion is New Thought trash; I know that many occultists read it as one of their first books, which acts as a gateway to bigger and better stuff.  I know.  I get it.  I do.  But the Kybalion is trash that causes more harm than good, and the fact that a lot of people read it doesn’t make it a good book.  It’s not Hermetic, certainly; heck, the name of the text itself is made up and supposed to recall “qabbalah”.  And, all that said, trying to mix the Kybalion with Santeria is…unpalatable.  Heck, Santeria is closer to actual Hermetic theurgy (complete with emanationist cosmogony and ensoulment of things) than the Kybalion could ever hope to be, and Santeria is a religion from slaves.  Slaves who had nothing but their ancestors and their gods and a crafty way of calling on them by a number of names unfamiliar to them.  Anyway….yeah, no.  Don’t mix the two, kiddo.

“how to consecrate a ring with the power of the sun” — Consecration of jewelry or talismans generally is an important part of my work.  How does one consecrate stuff?  Well, it depends on the force or god you’re consecrating it to.  With the planets, it depends on what tradition you want to work with, since there are dozens of cultures that have some sort of planetary magic, and hundreds or thousands of rituals between them all.  Originally, I got my start with a Christian-Hermetic angelic approach, which is still what I’ll pull out for really heavy-duty long-term projects, but I’ve experimented with many others.  For the Sun, specifically, I’d strongly recommend a ritual I recently came across from the PGM, which I’ve entitled the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Helios.  Tweak it accordingly to receive the powers you want.

“is it cultural appropriation for magicians to work with saints” — No.  Spirits call whom they call; it’s not up to meatsuits to tell you “no, you can’t work with spirit X because you’re white”.  I’m very much of the opinion that when a god comes to you, regardless of where they come from, you pay attention.  I have no Greek ancestry, yet the Greek gods welcome me and Hermes especially calls to me; I have Jewish ancestry, but I feel less Jewish than a pig farmer in an oyster bar on Yom Kippur.  I’m getting involved with the ATR community, who’ve taken me in and with whom I hope to serve and pitch in as much as any black Cuban.  I’m not baptized, but the Christian saints have helped me out and continue to do so regularly.  Why is this?  Because spirits recognize color and ancestry and culture but (in general) they don’t care.  If you want to work with them, if you learn about them, if you encounter them how they ask and prefer to be encountered, if you fulfill your vows and keep your word to them, if you remember them and respect them, if you do your best to be a decent fucking human being, then you’re probably going to do better than many who are just “born into the culture” and don’t see it as any more than a thing their grandparents do.  However, respect is the key; that’s the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.  There can and should be a two-way exchange between cultures, and we should never be binned into a box just because we were born into it.  That said, we shouldn’t loot, disrespect, or forget the origins of those whom we call on, and we shouldn’t transgress boundaries that even people of a particular culture wouldn’t transgress.  Consecrating elekes with your Wiccan pentacle or setting up an “Elegua protection altar” with hematite skulls and candy is not how you respect the gods.  You don’t just read a book written with half-assed, half-correct information by gods-only-know-what-hack and think you’re good to go as some sort of divine initiate.  Lineaged initiations, for instance, cultural mores, and purity laws are things to be respected.  For instance, even though I’m not Christian, I go to Catholic mass all the same when I need to get in touch more with a saint; that said, because I’m not baptized, I won’t take part in the Eucharist and receive communion.  Why?  Because I’m doing it for the same Power that the saint lived and died for.  It’s respect, and I apply that to all my spirits, be they gods, theoi, orisha, saints, angels, ancestors, kami, demons, or whatnot.

“the true table of practice” — There is no “true” Table of Practice, no more than there’s a “true” wand or “true” Triangle of Art.  Tables of Practice are tools used in conjuration as a basis for summoning a spirit, and there are different types of Tables used: there’s the one from the Ars Paulina, the one from Trithemius, the one from Dee, and I’m sure there are yet others that exist in the Western Hermetic tradition.  The Table you use is dependent on what text or tradition of magic you’re working with.  If it exists, by which I mean if you have a tangible version of it you can use in a ritual, regardless whether it’s gilded stone or engraved wood or Sharpie on a cereal box, then it’s true enough to work.

“cyprian of antioch vs st michael” — Why “versus” at all?  Cyprian of Antioch is a saint, and so honors God through His angels, including Michael the Archangel, the Prince of the Heavenly Host.  They work together, although Cyprian might prefer to call on a number of other powers before calling on Michael.  Now, while I strongly recommend developing a relationship with both Cyprian and Michael, and while they both tend to achieve the same end result when it comes to spiritual work, they achieve them in different ways.  Saint Michael the Archangel is the one who conquers and subdues wicked spirits, demons, and devils; think of the usual image of him where he’s impaled the Devil with his sword or spear and has him chained and underfoot; Michael helps you command the spirits as your servants.  Saint Cyprian of Antioch, on the other hand, is the one who ennobles and elevates wicked spirits, making them genteel and dignified so that one may work with them on an equal footing; Cyprian helps you collaborate with the spirits as your partners.  Sometimes it’s better to go with Michael than Cyprian, sometimes the other way, sometimes either way.  It depends on your style of interaction with the spirits, whether you prefer to be harsh or soft and whether you prefer slaves or partners, and it depends on the specific circumstances you’re working with spirits.  Sometimes you need force, and sometimes you need nobility.

“how to do things with quartz crystal” — Yes.  You do the things with the crystal by using it.  You might need to hold it differently or make sure it’s smooth enough for some particular means; you may not want those ridges on a Lemurian crystal (snerk) chafing your anus or vagina.  Not all crystals work as soup ladles.  Crystals generally do not work well as shampoo.  Horses tend to get you from place to place on the streets in rural Pennsylvania better than crystals.  One cannot make good coffee or tea with quartz crystals (or, for that matter, the crystallized powder of dehydrated coffee).  Smoothed crystals work well as back massagers.  Most crystals, except for the tiny ones, can help keep papers on your desk in the case of an unexpected tornado.  So many things!

“scorpio planetary hours” — There’s a bit of a semantic mismatch here.  Scorpio is a sign of the Zodiac, a 30° segment of the ecliptic in the eighth sphere of the fixed stars, beyond the spheres of the planets.  Planetary hours are segments of daytime or nighttime that are associated with the individual planets.  Scorpio is not a planet, and thus receives no planetary hour.  However, Scorpio is associated with the planet Mars in its negative/passive/feminine aspect, so we can say that certain hours of Mars (such as those at nighttime or during the waning Moon) can be associated with Scorpio, as I’ve experimented with before.  However, as my results from said experiment have indicated, there’s no real need to use planetary hours for the zodiac; rather, you’d want to time stuff so that the sign in question is rising (at the eastern horizon) or culminating (at the zenith/midheaven).

“witchcraft entity children summoning conjuration rituals” — I…what?  Are you wondering what spells witches use to summon children?  Is Hansel and Gretel a cautionary tale of “don’t let your children get bewitched”?  Do you think that those Satanic witches summon children to their stoops so that they can dismember them and use them in sacrifices to the Devil?  Pah!  Smart witches understand that one should use the most mundane, innocuous methods and stock up when children are in abundance.  On that note, have fun trick-or-treating this weekend, kids!

“angelic runes chart”, “planetary runes combinations” — Funnily enough, these are not what triggered my recent post on term clarification for different types of symbols, but it was a Reddit post on /r/occult.  Anyway, neither angels nor planets have runes (pace anonymous author of the Liber Runarum).  The word “rune” refers specifically to the letters of the alphabets used for Germanic and Scandinavian languages prior to the introduction of the Roman script in northwestern and northern Europe.  There are runiform scripts out there, like Old Hungarian and Old Turkish, which look kinda-sorta like futhark/futhorc runes, but they’re not themselves runes.  Angels have seals or sigils (such as those given in the Magical Calendar or the Heptameron or Agrippa), and planets just have glyphs.  In general, it’s better to just use the generic word “symbol” to refer to things.

“cassiel ritual for separation of lovers” — Cassiel is the angel associated with the planet Saturn, and is otherwise known as Castiel, Caffriel, Tzaphqiel, or some other mangled form of its original Hebrew name.  Saturn is not exactly the most emotional or sweetest of planets, and is also associated with the metal lead.  You know the story of Cupid?  He has two sets of arrows: gold-tipped ones to cause people to fall in love, and lead-tipped ones to cause people to fall in hate.  I don’t have a ritual handy under the angelic powers of Saturn to cause people to spurn each other, but it’s not hard to see how this might be done.  For instance, if I were to make up such a ritual…get a fishing weight made of lead and hammer it out into a flat disc.  Engrave one person’s name on the left of the disc and the other person’s name on the right, with the symbol of Saturn written three times down the middle of the disc.  On a Saturday night in the hour of Saturn, preferably with the Moon waning and placed antagonistically towards the planet, call on the angel of Saturn with myrrh and asafoetida incense.  Proclaim the love of so-and-so with thus-and-such null and void, that the powers of Saturn sullen and ensorrow their relationship, and that the two lovers be no more; break the disc down the three symbols of Saturn into two, such that the two names are no longer together on the same piece of lead.  Suffumigate the pieces in the incense and set a black candle to burn on each such that the black wax covers the two pieces of lead.  In the morning, instead of using the bathroom as normal, piss on the two pieces of wax-covered lead, and bury each piece where the person will step over it (so-and-so’s piece where so-and-so walks, thus-and-such’s piece where thus-and-such walks).  You’re done!  Go take a shower and enjoy your chaos.

“how to consecrate a 7 day candle”, “burning candle rituals in psalms”, “candle burning rituals psalms”, “burning candle rituals use of psalms”, “florida water and white candle rituals”, “psalms 23 white candle magic”, “how to burn candle to pray with psalm”, “candle burning ritual using the psalms”, “can you use florida water to consecrate a candle” — I’m not sure if I noticed it before or if it’s actually weird this month, but it seems like I’ve gotten a higher-than-normal rate of candle/psalm-related searches.  Chances are these are variants of something a single person was using and kept getting turned back to my blog, and given the inclusion of Florida water in a few of the searches, I’m going to guess they’re looking for something more American in style, like hoodoo or rootworking uses.  Honestly, while the usual all-purpose candle consecration ritual I use comes from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 12), that’s generally overkill for something like this.  Washing a candle off in fresh, clean water or holy water is more than enough; Florida water may make it a little “brighter” than you want, but it’s a good spiritual cleanser all the same.  You can anoint candles with olive oil that’s been prayed over or with a specific magical oil, but it’s not strictly needed unless you think it’ll help with your specific need better.  There’re whole books and styles of setting lights and burning candles, especially with Psalm magic, far more than I can describe here, but use candles in ways that make sense, generate spiritual power from the flame, and demonstrate through ritual motion of moving and placing candles according to the specific psalm and purpose of the ritual.

“can i invite pomba gira into my dreams” — Ahahahaha a̴͔͓̰͕̩h̸͙͙̱̲̝a̜̝̦͈̤̦ͅh̕a̝͍̟̯̹̠h̺à̙̖͕h̻̻͚͍͔̼͙a̖͔h͇͟a̛̬̗̥̞̦h̡̠ H̷̹̣̘͈͎̭͔͟À̵̲̖͍̪̱̘H̢͚͈Á̘̳̠̭̰ͅH̥̼̳͎̞̻̖̲A̵̳̗̜̫͍̬̬H̜͇̰̟̜͜A̵̸̳̙H̡̙̯̩͉̼̼̹̳̰̕A̫̬̻͇͖̝̫͜ͅH͖̞͡A̞̳͇̫̕ͅ H͔̞̜̣̟̀͟͟͢A̭̯̹̥̼͙̪̤̩̤͔͟͢͠Ḫ̸̶̢̨̲͉͇̙̫͍̹̥͓̝͈̺̯͟Á̷̟̠̤̼̝̪̙͙͕͕̭̲͉̭̀͜͢H̸̵̴̖͓̪͙̬̹͕̣͔̰̟̥͈̭́͝A̧͙̟̘̞̠̼͍͠H̶̨̡̻͈͈̮͖̬̙̯̳̺̻͉̬̼̗̰̗̣͉̀͢A̴̵̦͖̲̠̯͚̲̜̬͔̪͇̙͈̺̦̺͚ͅH̴͇̟̦̙̦̺̖̭̰̦͕͔́͟Ą̸̪̲̝̯̥̤̲͖̪̥̲͖̗̗̕͜H̞͇̱͉̜̠͖͔̹͓̜̟͈̕͢ͅA̶̕҉̡̤̫͉̦̗̤A̴҉̡͎͈̰͎̘͈̭͙͟A͜҉̖̬͍͚̩̦̬̲̯A͘҉̤̗̭͉̪͇̠Ạ̸̛̛̫̝͈̰͍͉͖̻̝̞̺̭̼̹̣̠̀͢Ą̡̱͓̝̦̼͖̯̞̟̞̻̱̙̠̦̰͠ͅA̷̢͇̹̫̘̥͙̻͙̼̝͍̠̼͡ͅͅA̴҉̴͈͔̬̫͎͙̹̲̰͍͙̕͟ͅͅÁ̴̶̱̘͉͍͈͘A̗̻̯̲̪̟̯͚̠̠̭̥̬͓̻̙̙͢͝ͅ y͖̜o̷͘͏̺̮̭̮͇̪̰ù̧̩̖̪͖̬̀ͅ ̵͖̠̘̯̲͎̙̳͘f̘̮͖͙͝o̗̪̺͉̺̫̣͕o̥̖̳̹͢ĺ͉̥͍̥͇̥̹͞ 

 

And now, since I figure I may as well rejoice in it, here’s the list of all phallus-related searches from this month.  Because people obviously come to read the Digital Ambler for two things, magic and dicks, and I’m not sure which is more popular anymore.

  • anal sex with big black cocks
  • dick big kongo
  • black huge dicks
  • use method large cock
  • egypt massive dick man image
  • pompeii penis depictions
  • ebony dicks
  • huge dick

Search Term Shoot Back, September 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 September 2015.

“what are the corresponding planet of each mansion of the moon” — In the system I learned it (I’m unsure if there are others), there are 28 lunar mansions that cover the 360° of the Zodiac.  The first lunar mansion starts at 0° Aries, and is given to the Sun.  From there, the lunar mansions are given to the planets in the weekday order: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.  Since there are 28 mansions and 7 planets, this cycle repeats four times, so that the Sun begins at the same zodiacal position that the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) do.

Planetary attributions of the Lunar Mansions

“the seven days conjuration” — A conjuration done over seven days, a period where you do seven conjurations in seven days, what?  Be a little more specific.  There are works like Pietro d’Abano’s Heptameron, literally meaning “a period of seven days”, referring to the planetary conjurations one can best perform on each of the seven days of the week; we find a similar text in the Munich Manual.  Alternatively, you could do the usual conjuration ritual, such as Trithemius’ rite, and conjure each of the seven planetary angels on your own across the seven days of the week; this is the basis for Fr. Rufus Opus’ Seven Spheres book, and his occasional project Seven Spheres in Seven Days.  It can get a little rough, especially with a crazy mundane schedule, but it’s worth it.

“which month,day and hour is the spirit of jupiter” — It…this doesn’t, I can’t.  Unless you’re talking about a particular zeitgeist, the spirit of Jupiter abides as long as the planet and its planetary sphere does, so…yeah.  The spirit of Jupiter can always be contacted regardless of the time, but there are some times that are better than others, and for this we use the system of planetary days and hours.  For instance, the planetary day of Jupiter is Thursday, and there are planetary hours of Jupiter scattered regularly throughout the week, so if you can get something set up on a planetary day and hour of Jupiter, it’ll be all the better.  As for months, this gets a little less regular.  Our system of months tracks the procession of the Sun through the Zodiac, more or less, but we don’t care about the Sun as much as we care about Jupiter, so we’d like to know when Jupiter is particularly strong in the Zodiac.  This can get into a whole talk about electional astrology, which is beyond the scope of this entry, but suffice it to say that you should check an ephemeris and read up on William Lilly’s books to figure out when Jupiter itself will be powerful.

“can you give back eleke” — First off, I don’t know why I keep getting hits on Santeria stuff on this blog, as it’s hardly ever germane to the usual stuff that goes on.  But…so, from what I gather, receiving your elekes is a ritual available to anyone with a godparent in Santeria, and is one of the important steps one takes in the process of initiation into the priesthood.  These are like your formal introductions to the orisha of those elekes, and…I have a hard time understanding why you’d want to give them back.  They’re yours, and yours alone.  Giving them back or intentionally losing them seems, to my mind, like a massive slap in the face to the orisha to whom you’ve been introduced.  If you didn’t want elekes, unless you were only a child without agency when you received them, then you shouldn’t have gone through the ritual to get them, but…I mean, hey, it’s your life.  They won’t interfere with anything, but if you don’t even want that much, go ahead.

“hermeticism homosexuality” — Bear in mind that the idea of homosexuality (yes, the mere concept of it) is recent, dating back only to the 1800s.  There is nothing ancient about homosexuality as a concept, and while we may read homosexuality into older works or storied relationships, it is folly to think that ancient peoples may have thought of themselves as inherently preferring one sex/gender to the other.  Sexuality was something that one did, not what one was (much like the guys who claim straightness but keep hooking up with dudes on Craigslist, no homo).  As a philosophy or branch of occult fields, there is nothing prohibiting or encouraging homosexuality in Hermeticism; depending on the context, homosexuality can be as much a hindrance or a help as much as heterosexuality is, and both same-gender sex as well as different-gender sex have their place.  Are they interchangeable?  I’m not convinced one way or the other on that, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t necessarily be, even though they may have different mechanics physically and spiritually.

“hermetic laws on gender and transgender people” — Like with the above search term, there’s no real connection or law that connects the occult philosophy of Hermeticism to things like gender, especially modern notions of gender that go beyond the simple gender binary that has stuck around humanity for thousands of years.  And no, although the Kybalion talks about the “laws of polarity” or gender or whatnot, that shoddy text is distinctly not Hermetic, and should not be considered as such for this topic.  For everything I’ve seen that matters in Hermetic magic, what gender you identify as does not matter, nor does the sex your body has.  If a specific item or body part is called for from a particular sex of a human, animal, or plant, I think it’s better to use that particular sex rather than think that the sexes are completely interchangeable; just as straight sex and gay sex have different powers, so too (as I see it) do male and female bodies.  Still, from the perspective of who can or can’t do magic, gender has no role to play in it.

“mercury as a cock with a human head” — Usually, in the Mediterranean, we find humanoid bodies with animal heads, like those of Egypt.  The Greeks tended to frown on these zoocephalic gods, preferring their strictly anthrophomorphic gods like Apollo or Serapis.  However, even with some of the more bizarre gods, like the human-torsoed cock-headed snake-legged Abrasax, we tend to find that the body is human and the head is animalian.  I know of no representation of a rooster with a human head as a representation of Mercury or Hermes, but perhaps you mean a phallus?  In which case, the word you’re thinking of is “herm“.

“massive cock painting” — I prefer photographs, myself, and I prefer GIFs more than those.  There’s a whole subreddit for that, too, you know!  I’d link to it, except that I’m writing this post at work, and….yeah.

“fuck a golem jod he vau he” — Please don’t fuck a golem.  The only way to turn a golem off is to kill it, at which point you turn sexy-divine lithokinesis into necrogeophilia, and that gets really weird.

“is using corse salt for protection godly or not?” — Well, you won’t find circles of salt described in the Bible, to be sure, but then, neither will you find lots of what the Catholic Church does, either.  That said, the Church uses salt in its consecration of holy water, as there’s some virtue in salt that helps to sanctify or cleanse stuff spiritually.  Plus, it has lots of use dating back hundreds of years, if not millennia, as a means of protection from spiritual harm.  It’s up to you to judge how godly that may be, but I’m on the side that it’s quite alright to do so.

“what happens if i summon spirits good” — You did it!  You summoned a spirit.  Congratulations!  Now, I hope you thought this part out, but…why did you summon a spirit?  To what end?  Anyone can pick up a phone and call a number; what’re you going to talk about?  What will you ask for?  That’s the real part of summoning that nobody seems to think about ahead of time, and the whole point of the act.  Why bother establishing contact with a spirit if you have nothing to talk about?

“symbols on solomons wand” — In book II, chapter 8 of the Key of Solomon, we find described the method to create the Wand and Staff, which involves inscribing the symbols from the Key onto the wand in the day and hour of Mercury.  Joseph Peterson on his Esoteric Archives gives a lot of Hermetic wand lore, and in his notes on the Key of Solomon, he believes that the symbols from the Key are nothing more than corrupted Hebrew for “AGLA + ON + TETRAGRAMMATON”, the same names used on the wand in Trithemius’ ritual of conjuration.  I used both the Solomonic symbols and the Trithemian names on my own personal Wand of Art, and while I’m not entirely convinced that they’re supposed to be the same thing, they do have similar feels to their power.

Ebony Wand Design

“bath soap by geomancy figure spell” — While geomancy and magic get along great, I’m less sure about things like herbs and physical supplies used with the geomantic figures; the most I’ve seen geomantic figures used in magic is by turning the figures into a sigil that can be used to augment other works.  However, by using the elemental, planetary, and zodiacal attributions to the geomantic figures, we can get a reasonably good idea of the herbs and materials needed to make a soap or wash for each figure, such that if we wanted to be empowered by the figure of Puer, we’d make a soap using warming, spicy, woody, Martian herbs and inscribe the figure or a sigil of the figure into the soap before using it in the shower.  I suppose it could be done reasonably well this way.

“names of all seven archangels including rose” — I’m not sure what set of archangels includes the name “Rose”, unless you’re a diehard Whovian who has a special place in their cosmology for the 10th Doctor’s companion.  For me, the seven archangels of the Orthodox tradition are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Barachiel, Jehudiel, and Sealtiel.

“items to put on a sagiterian prayer alter” — Please note that you put things on an altar, but change them when you alter them.  This misspelling never fails to get on my nerves.  As to the actual search term, the idea of setting up an altar or shrine to a constellation is…unusual, though not entirely out of reason.  Normally, when worship of celestial bodies is called for, it’s directed to the seven planets, hardly ever to the fixed stars, and much less any particular constellation of the Zodiac (notable exceptions being stars like the Behenian stars, the Pleiades, and so forth).  I suppose, if you wanted to set up a particular shrine to honor the constellation and god of Sagittarius in a standard modern Western fashion, you could use colors associated with the qabbalistic path of Samekh (= Temperance = Sagittarius), which are blue, yellow, green, and dark vivid blue; Jupiterian symbols and effects, such as a scepter, a battle-crown, bay and palm leaves, and so forth; symbols that relate directly to the sign, such as statues of centaurs and bows and arrows, and things that relate to the goddess Artemis; etc.  Setting it up facing the north-north west would be appropriate, or setting it up to face the east and working with it when the sign Sagittarius rises.  Making offerings in sets of 6 is appropriate, as the letter Samekh has the gematria value of 60.

PSA: Religion and Public Actions

As many of my readers in the United States might be aware, June of every year is commonly held to be Pride Month, in the same way that February is African American History Month.  This a month when the now famous Pride Parades (which started out as riots) are held, along with any number of LGBTQ-oriented events: cookouts and parties, memorials and commemoration services, as well as any number of workplace events, such as how to understand and cope with LGBTQ diversity and the like.  I recently attended such a seminar in my own office, organized by the District of Columbia’s Office of GLBT Affairs, which was awesome.  There was little new information to me, seeing that I’m more versed in the legal miasma that affects the demographic I fall into, but it was helpful all the same.

Now, I work for the United States federal government.  At the time of this writing, the federal government does not yet have a nondiscrimination law that encompasses sexual orientation (LGB) or gender identity/expression (TQ, sometimes I), though certain branches of the government include this in their own branch-specific manner.  My own branch, for instance, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, which is awesome, because it’s one fewer thing I can be fired for.  And, despite what you may think, many states and localities still don’t yet have their own employment nondiscrimination acts (ENDAs), so in many parts of the US, I can still be fired, not hired, or denied a promotion for being who and what I am.  I’m glad I can work where I am openly and freely, but not everyone is aware of the rights and restrictions on LGBTQ people.

It wasn’t a large seminar, and about half the people in attendance were supervisors or other employees in some managerial position.  One of the more important bits of discussion we had was on the topic of homophobia (fear and intolerance of non-normative sexual orientations) and transphobia (ditto but for people with non-normative gender identity or expression).  Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) offices have to deal with this more and more as more people feel confident and safe enough to report harassment fueled by homophobia and transphobia, but it can sometimes be a sticky situation for managers and EEO personnel.  Sadly, the topic was cut off due to time constraints and we had to move onto other topics, but it did bring up important aspects of how to respect the needs of LGBTQ employees.

Specifically, how should we balance the needs of LGBTQ employees with those of religious employees?

In many ENDAs, religion is a protected attribute that one cannot be penalized for; I cannot fire you, not hire you, deny you a promotion, or cause a hostile work environment against you due to your exercise and practice of religion or the lack thereof.  In my office, the same thing goes for your sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.  However, due to the ever-increasing polarization and social aggression between certain (by no means all!) religious groups and people and those who identify as LGBTQ, supervisors sometimes feel the need to balance the needs of both groups and see if there’s any middle ground to take.  After all, we have freedom of speech and of religion as enshrined in our Constitution, so it’s not fair to penalize someone for their speech or views as promoted by someone’s religion, nor is it fair to penalize someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

If you’re going to resort to the First Amendment to defend your views, well, I’ll let Randall Monroe of XKCD say it better than I can:

Not only that, but he says in the alt-text that

I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

Don’t get me wrong: I hold the free exercise of religion and the lack thereof to be one of the most important fundamental concepts required for a democracy or civilized community on any level, and interfering with that is chipping away at a society that can peacefully coexist as a societal unit.  If you want to worship Christ as the Son of God, do so; if you want to worship God by honoring his prophet Muhammad, do so; if you want to venerate the Flying Spaghetti Monster, do so.  I will never tell you what to worship or practice, or how to worship or practice.

That, however, is not the point of the talk.  While I understand the need to live a prayerful, worshipful, religious life, unless you live as a monk, you need to balance it with the life you live outside your scripture and outside your prayer room.  This isn’t to say you should compromise your religion by societal needs and expectations, but that you need to pick where in society you should go based on how you choose to practice (or not practice) religion.  If your social agreements and contracts conflict with your religious covenant and commitments, and if you’re not willing to change one, you need to change the other.  When you work in a public capacity that serves the public and makes use of public resources, either as an employee or a business owner, you are bound to serve the public in whatever way the public needs.  If you cannot fulfill those needs due to your private beliefs, then you should not work to serve them since you’re unable to serve them.  You have freedom of speech, but not freedom from your own speech; what you say and do are going to have consequences, and if your speech leads to harm and hostility in the public, you’re going to have to exercise your freedom of speech elsewhere.

Consider a hypothetical (at least in my case) situation where an out queer person (in any sense) works under a rather evangelical team leader.  The team leader refuses to meet one-on-one with the queer person or give them work fitting for their capacity and capability, and the team leader has dropped repeated comments about saving the soul of the queer person, how the queer person can find grace if only they would convert to being straight and normative, and the like.  The evangelical person feels like that’s their religious duty, after all, and they cannot be penalized for having that religious duty, but the queer employee also has the right to a non-hostile work environment.  If the evangelical person finds that their duty is motivated by scripture, and they cannot reconcile that with leaving the queer employee alone, then they cannot maintain a non-hostile work environment and is obligated to leave.  To me, it’s that simple.

Compare that with the recent drama about the cake bakery over in Colorado who was sued by a gay couple who wanted them to make them a wedding cake.  The owners of the bakery felt that their religion prevented them from supporting gay marriage in any way, and that includes making a cake for a gay wedding.  The gay coupled sued for discrimination and won, and rightly so, since this had violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination clause, which prohibits business from discriminating against its customers based on sexual orientation.  Many evangelicals and those on the homophobic far right feel that this state law discriminates against religious freedom, but it doesn’t.  You can practice whatever you want, but if you operate in a public capacity, you have to abide by public respect and law for those who don’t follow what you follow, or believe what you believe.  That bakery was open to the public, made use of public resources (roads, etc.), and received public assistant (tax breaks, etc.).  If they were privately owned or open only to people who paid a membership fee where the members had to agree to the bakery’s terms, then they could do whatever they want and would no longer be a public service; as it was, they were open to the public and could not discriminate against the public by means of sexual orientation.

Compare that, further, with the notion of certain pharmacologists and pharmacy employees who refuse to sell Plan B or contraceptive medicine to those who need it because they’re anti-abortion.  They feel that, by selling these drugs to people who got pregnant early on but want to prevent pregnancy, they’re encouraging abortion and promiscuity, which they find offensive.  However, as a medical professional, they’re obligated to help those who need it in the way the patient determines, and if that’s through the use of an emergency contraceptive, it’s not their place to deny them that without a legitimate medical reason.  In nearly all these cases, the only reason is religious, which is not a strong enough basis to deny someone this medical coverage and assistance when it’s not illegal and when they’re entitled to it.  If a pharmacologist cannot prescribe certain medicines to the public because their religion says so, then they should not be a pharmacologist serving the public.  Simple as that.

Your religion can be whatever you want it to be or not be.  It’s really up to you.  But when you interact with other people, you have to understand how to interact with people in a way that neither violates their sanctity of life nor human rights, nor in a way that violates your own religious beliefs.  You can’t have it both ways.  If you work in the public, you have to deal with the public, and if your religion prevents you from dealing with the public in certain ways and your job expects you to deal with the public in those same ways, you either need to change your religion or change your job.  Your beliefs are an onus on you, not on me, and your beliefs should not affect me if I don’t want them to affect me.  The moment they do, we have a problem, and it’s up to you to fix it or have it fixed for you.  The only balance that needs to be struck is that which preserves the freedom of religion and speech for everyone, and if your religion and speech is trying to impede the freedom of others, then your religion and speech will be shown the door.  You can still say the things you want to say, but nobody has to listen to it; you can still worship how you want to worship, but nobody has to be affected by it.

This applies to all of us, not just to evangelical Christians who want to turn every country into a Dominionist theocracy.  Many of us in occulture are bound to certain rules and regulations of behavior, sometimes instituted by our traditions, sometimes directly from our gods.  For the vast majority of us, we cannot live in a world where we’re recluses who focus solely on our spiritual path; we have a world to live in and interact with, and all the people, events, and drama that goes on in it.  If we find ourselves in a situation where we’re faced with breaking a greater law and a lesser law, we need to avoid breaking the greater law at the expense of the lesser law or simply abort the situation we’re in and find a way out as gracefully as we can.  Getting involved in situations that would cause you to deny your spirituality or gods is a lack of forethought, but sometimes it happens, and when it does, you need to make a choice as to whether you can please your gods while upholding the laws of the situation, whether pleasing your gods is worth it, and whether you need to continue denying your gods to continue another path in the world.  Learning to walk between the worlds in the sense of balancing your spiritual and mundane lives is a crucial lesson we all have to learn.  You can’t always have it both ways.

This has been a PSA.  Now, back to magic.

Search Term Shoot Back, August 2013

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 August 2013.

“magic orgone” — I wouldn’t call orgone “magic”, per se, but it is basically the quintessence, akasha, ether, or spiritual force underling the energy model of magic; orgone can be said to be the same thing as odic force, qi/chi/ki, or prana, depending on your tradition or viewpoint.  Orgone technology was developed as a kind of fringe science using the principles of magnetism, electricity, and polarity extrapolated towards human energy/subtle-body models of working with the body.  There are ways to work with orgone in a magical way, as my own experiments with orgone have shown, but it can be used outside of a magical framework just as easily, just as radionics or reiki aren’t necessarily considered “magical” (though basically are, anyway).

“planetary hours for july” — Planetary hours are calculated for individual days, based on the location and date of the observer.  Trying to form a generalized calendar independent of location won’t work, since planetary hours rely on the sunrise and sunset times for a particular place (which change depending on latitude, time zones, and the like).  Lots of free planetary hour calculators abound on the internet, however, so look instead for “planetary hour calculator”.

“sex sigil” — Yes please.

“ikea altar” — It’s true, my altar furniture is pretty much just from IKEA, or to a lesser extent, Target.  IKEA is fantastic for cheap but sturdy stuff, so long as you don’t mind the appearance of it; if you use an altar cloth, you’ll be set.  The small LACK side tables are perfect for corner altars or working tables in conjuration, I’ve found, and their price can’t be beat, especially if you want something disposable (a la Enochian Tables of Practice) or if you want something to engrave or woodburn without too much cost going into the thing.

“the kybalion homosexuality” — This probably references my post from before on the comparatively recent book Kybalion, gender, and sexuality.  I wish I could talk about this more, and I probably should one of these days, but my thoughts on the matter haven’t much evolved past the point of “I don’t know”.  Everyone has their own dynamic within themselves to work with, and even though the Kybalion is great at simplifying the world down into a few rules and laws of occult motion, they’re also sufficiently broad to gloss over the minute subtleties involved with actual experience in the world around us.  Plus, the interplay between the laws isn’t well developed in that short text as much as we might like, and the cultural and personal bias of the original author(s) may have had something to do with the laws as they apply to homosexuality or queerness more generally.  I’m going to appeal to authority here and say that Crowley had it probably more correct and concise when he said “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”.  In the end, it’s really only you yourself who can figure out who you are/Are, understand what you can and should do/Do, what’s good/Good and bad/Bad, and judge your own progress/Progress.  Nobody else has that right; nobody else can judge you or tell you what it is you need to do, or what’s a beautiful thing for you to preserve or maintain.  In this light, especially if you have any respect for Thelema or Crowley, to use any text, occult or otherwise, to justify judging, discriminating, controlling, or maligning others because of personal bias is revolting, and I advise all my readers to cut that shit out.

“strongest geomancy figures in order”  — It depends on what you mean by “strongest”, and even then which author you read, since geomancy is an old tradition of divination going back a thousand years across multiple continents.  If you mean favorability and fortune, i.e. how good a figure is, you might use a general rule such as that of Robert Fludd’s or an older Arabic system, but this is pretty broad and doesn’t take into account specific situations or context.  If you mean positions in the houses of the astro-geomantic chart, you might use the directional correspondences of the figures or their planetary joys, but this isn’t used by all geomancers.  At the risk of making my dear readers do a bit of goddamn research and study, I suggest you review my De Geomanteia posts on the figures to get a full grasp of what they mean and how they relate to any arbitrary situation.

“yes no meaning to six sided dice”  — I suggest looking at Balthazar Black’s post on using six-sided dice for this.  I use a set of RPG dice for my divinations, specifically the 2d10 dice for yes/no questions.  Simple methods can be made, however: high numbers indicate high likelihoods of “yes”, while low numbers indicate low likelihoods, or odd means “yes” and even means “no”, or other combinations.  Dice are an ancient tool and game, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you found any number of traditions from different cultures or ages indicating different methods of cleromancy with dice.

“quick divination”  — Tomorrow you’ll wake up, do a bunch of stuff, and then go back to sleep.

“is sprinkling salt in bath water and praying to god” — This was, in fact, the entire search term; it seems like something got cut off, but who can say?  Assuming the searcher in question ended the query with something like “evil”, “damnable”, “wicked”, or “sinful”, I can say that the answer is very firmly no.  Salt has long been used across cultures and ages as a cleansing, purifying, or protective agent; spiritual baths are a longstanding tradition in pretty much every occult and religious tradition, from misogi in Shinto to wudu in Islam to baptism in Christianity.  Prayer is, of course, a good thing in magic and religion, and any action whatsoever can always use that heavenly or divine boost from having the hand of God or hands of gods involved.  I should take full spiritual baths with prayers more often, honestly, but I content myself with a regular sprinkling of holy water every day with prayer; before any significant working, however, I’ll definitely cast some salt I’ve prayed over into a clean tub of tepid clean water, immerse myself completely, and pray a number of psalms while in the tub.

“tojil strategic ffxi” — er…I don’t play Final Fantasy XI, though my boyfriend does.  Tojil in FFXI is a pretty nasty boss mob, and from what I’ve seen over my boyfriend’s shoulder and from what I’ve heard him say about it, learning how to time attacks with Tojil’s changes in aura is key; you’d be able to take down this beast in fairly short time if you have a decent linkshell group with you.  However, this entity has its origins in Mayan mythology and religion; Tohil was a fire, sun, and rain deity, with some qualities similar to the more popularly-known Aztec god Quetzalcoatl.  One of my friends works with these pantheons, but I don’t myself, though they’re very cool guys and very powerful in their ways.  Then again, it takes a powerful practitioner to actually get any good work done with them, so caveat orator.  I’m pretty sure, since none of these terms actually appear on my blog, that it was grabbed by a Google spider from my twitterfeed on the right.

The Kybalion, Gender, and Queerness

Disclaimer: I identify as a masculine, cisgender, homosexual man.  In layman’s (and potentially brusque) terms, I’m a guy born a guy who likes guys.  I have not, since puberty and self-recognition, identified as anything else.  I have not experienced anything but occasional and minor social marginalization or confrontation based on this identification.  Just in case this might come up later in this potentially touchy subject.

Lately I’ve been reading the Kybalion, a short text written by the “Three Initiates” back around the start of the 20th century.  It’s definitely a modern text with roots in New Thought and Theosophy, but it has notable Hermetic influences as well.  As a text of occult literature, it’s one of the most influential texts on modern occulture and occult philosophy, much as Agrippa’s Three Books and Fourth Book is on occult practice.  It’s also a book I’ve been pushing to the side, seeing it as unnecessary and silly in my own life and practice, but since I found a cheap copy lately, I figured I may as well pick it up and give it a decent perusal.

The Kybalion lists and then fleshes out, in its post-Victorian, supercilious, and occasionally bombastic language, seven “Hermetic Principles”, aphorisms that describe the general function and workings of the cosmos and the All.   The seventh one is the stickiest, the Law of Gender, which states:

Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles; Gender manifests on all planes.

For most people, and certainly for most occultists and occulture, this makes sense.  There’s the Wand and the Chalice, the Holy Spirit and the Holy Grail, Father Sky and Mother Earth, the Yang and Yin, Fire and Water.  Duality is a feature of many forms of occult philosophy or a tool in occult practice.  In physical terms, there’s men and women, protons and electrons, positive and negative.  Generally speaking, these things are all active and passive: one initiates, the other generates; one issues, the other receives; one wills, the other implements. 

Also, like the Yin and Yang, there is a bit of the Masculine in the Feminine and vice versa.  This goes along with the Law of Polarity (extreme opposites are essentialy the same quality, differing only in degree) and the Law of Rhythm (events and situations periodically and regularly switch from one extreme to another).  Further, these two attract each other, Feminine to Masculine and Masculine to Feminine.  It’s why electrons and protons join up to form atoms, Spirit and Body to create Life, the Wand and Chalice to complete the Great Rite, man and woman to create love.

…and that’s where I stumble.  For me and many others that I know, that last bit doesn’t quite hold true.  I’m often in social situations and contexts where people of the same gender love each other, or where a single person may identify as both genders, a gender in-between, or neither gender.  Hell, I’ve known at least one intersex person (hermaphrodite, in slightly less PC terms), whose parents reassigned them one gender but who now prefers to be androgynous.  I’ve known many people with gender identity disorder, and a number of people who’ve undergone gender reassignment surgery.  And when it comes to sex, there’s no defined roles for people to play, even if they’re not queer in any sense; some people top with toys for some people and bottom with anything other times, some bottom not-at-all or prefer other forms of sexual arousal and play, and some people don’t have any sexual urge or drive to speak of.  None of this contradicts or obsoletes the Kybalion’s Law of Gender, but it does make it awfully hard to generalize and apply in my human experience.

For instance, consider the joke “asking who’s the man or woman in a gay relationship is like going to a Chinese takeout and asking which chopstick is the fork”.  It’s definitely got an element of truth in it: there is no defined gender role for partners to play when they’re in a queer relationship.  Expectations like that tend to go out the window, and things often end up egalitarian or equal on most levels.  In this case, it’s not that opposites attract, but rather that similarities resonate with each other.  There isn’t as much a plus/minus dichotomy forming a unity, but a plus/plus or minus/minus harmony forming a unity.

Keep in mind, though, that the Law of Gender states that there’s Masculine in the Feminine and vice versa.  Gay men can and often are seen as effeminate, and lesbian women can come off as butch.  However, that’s definitely not always the case; plenty of gay men are straight-acting, if not outright bears and bikers, and there’re lipstick/femme lesbians aplenty as well.  If you want to put Masculine and Feminine in sexual terms, there can sometimes be dedicated tops or bottoms in these relationships, but this can’t always be expected or relied upon.  Heck, even straight guys can often be into pegging or getting blown by other guys.  It’s not just a queer thing, after all.  People do what they want.

But expanding that to other things besides physical bodies and acts, the ideas of Masculine and Feminine (in the chapter of the Kybalion called “Mental Gender”) reflect more of an initiating and generating idea.  Just as in conception where the man emits semen into the woman, who then generates a new human being, the Masculine starts off a process and the Feminine procedes with it.  Artists, for instance, are definitely Feminine in this sense, as they spend their whole works generating and creating; they can also be Masculine if they find their own initiatives and inspirations, or they can be strictly Feminine if they only take in what’s around them.  Engineers, coders, and scientists do the same: they produce technologies, methodologies, and facts based on either things handed to them (like a passive machine executing commands fed to it) or based on their own curiosity and inspiration.  Visionaries and those who inspire are often masculine in this regard, especially if they initiate in others but never initiate anything for their own generation or production.

The Kybalion distinguishes a thinking entity into the Me-part and the I-part.  The Me-part is the conception of self and its trappings, its body, appearance, thoughts, wants, emotions, and so on.  These are ephemeral, passing, and transitory; once they leave, the underlying self is unchanged and still there.  This underlying self is the I-part, the part that actually guides and experiences the Me-part as its self.  A lot of people tend to focus on the Me-part and tone down or tone out the I-part due to our conditioning (my sister would have a field day explaining this concept in the realm of Human Design), and so occultists work to work up the I-part in order to get a sense of who they really are and what their True Will is, through e.g. meditation to clear the mirror of the mind or by K&CHGA.  In this sense, the higher cosmic portion of the Self (Tiphareth and above) can be seen as the masculine I-part, and the lower material portion of the Self (Tiphareth and below) as the feminine Me-part.

This leads to an interesting reversal (cf. Law of Rhythm) of normally-accepted symbols in Qabbalah.  If you look at the Qabbalah, you might notice that the entire glyph can be contained within the ankh or symbol of Venus: sephiroth 1 through 6 fit in the circle above, and sephiroth 6 through 10 fit in the cross below.  The circle is generally seen as a feminine symbol, like the yoni in Hindu symbolism, while the cross can be considered masculine with its straight and penetrating lines, almost (but not quite) like the lingam.  However, we noted above that the cosmic I-part is Masculine, and the material Me-part is feminine.  Again, Masculine in Feminine, Feminine in Masculine.  Interpretations of this abound, but one I might select would be that the masculine I-part acts (able to influence) on the feminine macrocosmos (subject to influence); this is transformed once it becomes more manifest into the masculine microcosmos (able to influence) acting on the feminine Me-part (subject to influence).  And, once one attains unity with the All (going past Kether into Infinity), one suspends notions of gender entirely…I guess.  For here and now, though, there’s the Law of Gender to contend with.

On a more human level, this can boil down to a matter of drives (Me-part) and desires (I-part) in terms of “mental” action.  Drives are what our bodies, our lower functions, and our sensations lead us to do; desires are what lead our mind, our soul, and our comprehension to do.  I desire unity with another human; I am driven to be with a man (preferably a masculine one who also likes men).  Works well enough for me, but why am I not driven to be with a woman, if opposites attract?  After all, the idea of resonance certainly postdates the Kybalion, having come about (as far as I can tell) to deal with same-sex pairings in the Great Rite.  Whence this drive?  Is this a drive at all, or a desire instead?

I know that, in at least one occult tradition designed for queer men (the Unnamed Path), its concept of the God is helpful to this discussion.  Unlike many other pagan paths with a single God and Goddess, the Unnamed Path has two gods, a Light God and a Dark God, and two goddessess, a Light Goddess and a Dark Goddess.  The Light God and the Dark God will periodically meet and mate, with the Light God as masculine and on top and with the Dark God as feminine and on bottom.  However, at climax, the two shift roles: the Light God becomes the Dark God and the Dark God becomes the Light God.  They maintain a periodic equality, where both are on the same level, but constantly shifting between themselves.  (I’m tempted to make a joke involving the transferral of divine essence as cosmo-sexual snowballing, but I’ll let your own nasty minds do that.)

In that way, according to the Laws of Gender and Rhythm, things become a little more clearer.  In my experience, some people like to top here and bottom there; some people roleplay a more masculine character now and a feminine character then; some people like being the dominator and dominated in different settings.  Artists draw, then observe, then draw, then observe.  Developers code, then analyze, then code, then analyze.  The Masculine becomes Feminine, the Feminine becomes Masculine, repeatedly and endlessly.  Still, why should a person of one sex and gender be attracted to another of the same, especially one of similar temperament (two butch lesbians, two twinks, etc.)?  Mental state, productive stage, and sexual mood may change back and forth over time, but bodies don’t tend to do that.

In the end, I guess I don’t have enough information or experience to answer this.  Maybe the Law of Gender is just poorly thought out, or doesn’t fit in the queer framework I want to apply it in, or I’m trying to apply something too broad to something too specific.  Queer occultism is definitely a topic to be discussed further, both by myself and those interested in it.  What do you think?  Feel free to discuss this and offer your (respectful, polite, well-thought-out) comments and ideas.