Fictional Magic

I’ve sometimes remarked on this blog that I feel like I live in a video game or role playing game of some sort, what with my magic rings and enchanted swords and whatnot.  Largely, this is due to my having been exposed to a lot more gaming than I have magic, and it’s no secret that lots of games like Dungeons and Dragons or other RPGs borrow liberally from occulture and magic literature, though it may not be by the book or realistic in any sense I’m aware of (though if anyone has a fireball spell they’d be willing to share, hit me up).  That said, magic is also guilty of borrowing from literature and gaming as well.  For instance, take the infamous Necronomicon from the Cthulhu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft; although this was just a fictional book from a fictional story, many authors have taken it upon themselves to write their own kind of Necronomicon that fits in with the Cthulhu mythos and related entities.  This kind of magic, fictional though it may be, works all the same, to the point where it even begins to freak me out.

Consider it this way: the more people that believe in a certain idea, the more “real” that idea becomes.  Many people across history have heard of and believe in Christ as the Son of God; as such, the idea of Christ is immensely powerful.  A smaller version of this includes any story, myth, fable, or creature whose tale is told time and time again.  If some number of people have read a particular book, have thought about its characters, spoken their names aloud, dreamed or daydreamed about the things those characters did, then all that happens in that book becomes real to an extent.  The more exposure an idea gains, the more powerful that idea becomes; hell, the more belief an idea gains, the more powerful it becomes.  If even one person believes in an idea, that suffices to accomplish work.  Thus, it follows that stories that are popular can be used, and since magic often makes use of “real” entities such as spirits, angels, gods, and goddesses with their own myths, the characters, magic, and the like from within those stories can be used in magic.  After all, I’ve often heard that the Bible is the greatest story ever told [citation needed], and what’s to distinguish the storiness of the Bible from any other book, or for that matter a game, movie, or anime?

One of my friends is familiar with the SNES game Chrono Trigger to no small degree, to the point of being able to recite all of the game’s lines, whether in the Japanese or English versions.  However, being a magic user himself, he’s also adept at working with the entities and magic system from the game.  He’s mentioned astrally travelling some of the halls of Zeal and the other castles from the game, as well as spiritually hanging out from the realms depicted, learning and gaining much from those places.  In addition, he’s also good with working with the spirits, entities, and magic from the anime series Slayers, to the point where I’ve been able to witness some of the neat effects from his working with fire and water.  Being a chef, he makes use of this magic to no small degree in the kitchen, and his food readily attests to that.  (He still owes me a guest post here eventually on the unique elemental system of Chrono Trigger, which I would greatly appreciate before the next apocalypse deadline.)

My boyfriend, on the other hand, is increasingly working with the magic and spirits of the PS2 game Final Fantasy X.  In that game, there are a group of specially-gifted people known as summoners who are able to work with an ambient magico-spiritual force that appear as floating balls of light, called “pyreflies”.  These pyreflies can coalesce into entities, such as physical apparitions of the dead known as “unsent” or as fiendish monsters.  However, certain holy shrines contain ensouled statues called fayth, and if the fayth deem a summoner worthy of working with them, the summoner can call upon the fayth to summon an aeon.  These aeons are used to protect the people in the world of Spira from a titanic, evil mega-aeon known as Sin.  Leaving much of the plot aside, my boyfriend is beginning to astrally travel to the world of Spira, talk with one of the protagonists of the game (High Summoner Yuna herself), and work with the fayth themselves.  It’s interesting work, especially since the mythology of Spira and Final Fantasy X is rich as far as video games go, but still incomplete enough to leave theory and philosophy wanting.  Seeing how much of the in-game Yevonese religion is based on Shintoism, Buddhism, and Catholic Christianity, it’s not terribly hard to see how much of this can work or put into practice.

As for myself?  Beyond being peripherally involved with my friends’ ventures above, I’ve been dabbling in some fictional magic myself.  Specifically, I’m getting started with the magic from the Wraeththu series of books, also called dehara (literally meaning or homonomous with the word for “gods”).  To briefly review the background, Wraeththu is a race of “mutant humans” who are both androgynous and hermaphroditic, able to reproduce among themselves as well as “incept” young human males (transform via ritual blood infusion).  In addition to being uniformly beautiful, lean, and fit, Wraeththu also possess strong innate magical, psychokinetic, and telepathic powers.  The dehara system of magic utilizes an ambient life force called agmara, out of which the deities and thoughtforms as well as magical actions are created.  There are to be a total of three books total on dehara magic (right now, only Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana is released), each associated with one of the three castes of Wraeththu society.  The dehara magic system is a kind of blend between chaos magic principles, Wraeththu mythology, and neopagan rituals (complete with a Wraeththu variation on the Wheel of the Year).  Refreshingly, it requires very little in the way of physical tools and supplies, with much of the magic done through meditation and projection into an astral temple called a nayati.

Admittedly, working with these kinds of magics can be awkward with my other magical projects, but it does offer interesting modes of working that still augment each other nicely.  It’s a lot like learning different languages: two languages can still arguably say the same thing, but how they say it can be radically different.  The theory behind each system of magic can offer new ideas for exploration when compared against other theories, or help provide explanations and approaches to solving a problem when other theories may fail.  As a result, it’s hard for me to seriously claim that any one system of magic is innately “better” than any other, though I may be biased towards more devotional and Hermetic ceremonial stuff all the same.  Fictional or not, may as well explore magic like any other adventurer.

What about you?  Have you ever thought about using magic known explicitly to be fictional, or have you tried it?  Are there any games, movies, anime, or books you find interesting enough with enough magical content to make use of?  For more talk on this topic, Jason Miller just wrote a post about it yesterday.

Dice Divination

After my introduction to grammatomancy, I’ve found myself using dice a lot more for divination in various ways that I think are pretty nifty.  When I say dice, I don’t mean standard six-sided dice, but a complete set of tabletop RPG gaming dice.  These kinds of dice have the advantage of being rather portable and pliable to many divination systems, and are fairly innocuous and subtle to boot.  Plus, for those who play tabletop games that require them, the notion of divination and the notion of action checks can be intimately similar.  For those who’re unfamiliar with such dice, one of these sets are usually includes seven dice, each with a different number of sides:

  • A six-sided die (d6), cube, numbered 1 through 6, the standard and most common die
  • A four-sided die (d4), tetrahedron, numbered 1 through 4
  • An eight-sided die (d8), octahedron, numbered 1 through 8
  • A twenty-sided die (d20), icosahedron, numbered 1 through 20
  • A twelve-sided die (d12), dodecahedron, numbered 1 through 12
  • Two ten-sided dice (2d10), pentagonal trapezohedrons, numbered by ones from 0 through 9 and by tens from 00 through 90

Set of RPG Dice Although dice divination is ancient, the phrase itself refers to a manner of generating symbols by means of dice.  This could be as simple as odd-or-even for a yes/no question or as complex as rolling several dice to get a more complex symbol.  In my own practice, I use each of the dice for different purposes depending on their shapes:

  • For geomancy, I use the d4, d6, d8, and d20.  These are four of the five Platonic solids, and each is associated with a different element: d4 with Fire, d6 with Earth, d8 with Air, and d20 with Water.  I roll these four dice at the same time and inspect whether each die is odd or even to generate a geomantic figure.  If a die is odd, the corresponding elemental line is active; if even, passive.  Thus, if I roll a 2 on the d4, 6 on the d6, 7 on the d8, and 1 on the d20, I get the geomantic figure Coniunctio.  I’d do this three more times to generate four geomantic figures, then generate a complete geomantic chart based on those.
  • For grammatomancy, I use the d12.  There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet, so I roll the d12 twice: the first roll gives me an odd or even number, which refer to the first 12 or last 12 letters in the Greek alphabet, while the second roll gives me the letter within that set according to its rank.  So, if I roll a 5 and an 8, I end up with the Greek letter Theta (eighth letter of the first half of the alphabet).  The dodecahedron is the fifth Platonic solid and not associated with any one element, although some attribute it to Spirit/ether.  In a sense, this is fitting for grammatomancy, since (using stoicheia) each of the letters of the Greek alphabet can represent one of the seven planets, five elements, or twelve zodiac signs, and 7 + 5 + 12 = 24 = 2 × 12.  I could use a d2, the two-sided die also known as a coin, to determine whether to use the first half or second half of the alphabet, but I like the simplicity of using just 1d12 rolled twice instead.
  • For yes/no divination, I use the normally leftover and otherwise useless 2d10.  I use a scale from 0 to 99 to determine the answer, with the higher numbers meaning “yes” and lower numbers meaning “no”.  I divide the results up into five groups: 0 through 19 meaning “fuck no, GTFO, DIAF”, 20 through 39 meaning “nope”, 40 through 59 meaning “maybe” or “meh”, 60 through 79 meaning “yup, sure”, and 80 through 99 meaning “fuck yeah, awesome”.  The categories are taken from obi divination using cowrie shells, but with a finer gradient.  So, if I roll a 50 and 8, the result is 58, meaning “maybe” to a particular question, indicating unclear circumstances or too much confusion, but with an inclination towards an affirmative answer since it’s on the higher end of this range.  An answer of 0 in particular indicates the most abhorrent and worst omen, while 99 would be the most direct, favorable, and absolute in its awesomeness.

What I haven’t yet quite figured out, though, is a proper consecration of the dice.  After all, like the good lil’ ceremonial magician I am, I’m practically obliged to consecrate or sanctify any and all tools I work with.  I’m thinking a consecration under the powers of Mercury/Hermes, given that he’s the god of gambling, adventures, and divination, all of which use dice in some manner or another, and all of which relate directly to Fortune itself.  I’m still undecided, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a ritual to do this eventually.  Perhaps the next time a good Mercury election comes around, I suppose, or when the Moon is full on a Wednesday in otherwise good conditions.  In the meantime, a quick prayer to Hermes and Apollo before casting the dice will suffice, I should think.

Do you guys use dice in your divination?  I’ve seen other methods of dice divination before, but it seems like it can vary from person to person or from culture to culture with few set rules to it.  How would you guys use dice, if you would at all?

Ring of Solomon +2

I went to a party back in January to celebrate Thor conquering the ice giants to drive back winter.  Fantastic party, and it’s held every year by one of my Nordic pagan friends who brews his own mead.  I lost a few hours of that night, but otherwise it was SO awesome.  Well, I ended up meeting someone particularly interesting at that party who knows the host through several different scenes in the area.  I noticed the tattoo sleeve on her arm, which incorporates alchemical symbols; I asked about them, and she replied with the four Powers of the Sphynx (to know, to dare, to will, to keep silent).  Immediately I knew I was talking to someone genuine, and heavens above and hells below she’s awesome.  Spagyrist, Mesoamerican occultist, stonecarver, and silversmith.  She knows her shit and has been at it for a long time.

Well, the silversmithing bit caught my interest.  Although I’m decent with wood and pyrography, the metal stuff she makes is fantastic (she showed me several impressive rings and a pendant-knife she made “out of boredom”).  This stuff is well beyond my capability to make, and for some of the more detailed items I need, I’d rather have something professionally and nicely made by someone who knows what their doing (required purification, occult virtues, planetary timing, etc.). I commissioned her for a Solomonic ring based on the one I was currently using.  That one was made of hematite worn on the pinkie, and the design was the one based off on this post at The Occult and Magic: a Star of David, Michael, and Tzabaoth written on the outside and the Tetragrammaton written on the inside.  I interpreted the three-circle design of the Ring of Solomon from the Lemegeton to be representative of using the outer, top, and inner sides of the ring, instead of a circular plate on the ring.  I used a dremel tool to engrave the letters in.  It was passable.  She noticed it and complimented its power (she said it had a distinct “back the fuck off” note), but the material used for it and the energy didn’t quite match up.

All the more reason, then, to get a new and better ring.  The design was to look mostly the same: the Tetragrammaton on the inside of the ring, with the names Tzabaoth and Michael on the outside with a Star of David which, if possible, would be circumscribed with a circle and a dot in the middle.  If she wanted to be fancy, I suggested she could engrave the Star of David on a topaz and set that on the ring.  Graphically, the design looks like this:

And, given that, this is what I ended up with:

This.  Is.  Incredible.  A silver band with Hebrew letters and a beautiful clear sunstone, with a dotted hexagram underneath it.  Very, very nice touch.  Since she understands the significance and importance of timing, we were originally going to go with a particularly powerful solar election back on March 25th, but we both dropped the ball on that, so she was going to try and get it done during a Sunday on a solar hour.  My assumption is that the ring is a solar instrument of magic, hence the timing.

Well, instead, this past weekend, she was kicked out of bed on Sunday with something telling her to get the ring done at noon that day, and she did; by the time she finished, it had a definite warmth that almost burned her skin.  She told me it was finished, and I was somewhat confused about the timing: the day of the solar eclipse? Sun conjunct balsamic moon?  Sun conjunct Algol?  Sun peregrine?  For a solar talisman of protection, it seemed that she couldn’t’ve picked a worse election.  I had my doubts, but was going to keep the ring either way: if the election defeated the defensive purpose of the ring, then I was going to keep it as a Trojan Horse-esque gift for someone I particularly dislike; if it worked, or if I could get the proper powers to make it work, I would keep it and use it as it’s meant to be used.  After all, what good is a line of defense if it’ll just buckle or, worse, backfire?

However, upon putting the ring into my hand, it felt positively comforting and strong, like a welcomed last gasp of air or a bright light at the end of the tunnel to see everything with.  And, upon wearing it (a perfect fit!), I felt a strong presence wrap around me, and my friend said that I went positively glowing.  Since this isn’t the kind of power my friend normally interacts with, and the fact that she was pretty much made to do it as a matter of capital-letter Inspiration, I’m pretty sure this ring is good to go.  Besides, what else is magic for, if not to bypass and surpass the natural circumstances and mechanics of the cosmos to Get Shit Done?  Of course, I’m still going to run a few tests, readings, and analyses on the thing to make sure it’s good to go, and if so, have it undergo a proper solar consecration of its own (probably using a dab of Abramelin oil and a wash of Goldschläger); she left it intentionally “unsealed” so I could work my own magic on the thing, which was kind of her.  I’m very confident that this thing will become a fast friend of mine, in terms of ritual tools and generally cool things to have.

I mean, come on.  I HAVE A FUCKING MAGIC RING.  I am officially living in an RPG.

The silversmith, Raven Orthaevelve, is always interested in furthering her business and skills and is willing to take commissions, especially with magical, occult, or other ritual items.  Her prices are very affordable, especially considering the quality and skill she employs in making really detailed or difficult stuff.  You can contact her at orthaevelve@gmail.com if you’d like to ask her for something, or look at her Etsy page.  Really, she’s fabulous.  Plus, she’s practically dying to make jewelry, knives, and other tools specifically for magical use, and she really does know her shit.  Get in contact her and commission her for stuff; you won’t be disappointed.  Plus, if she gets enough commissions from magicians to pay for it, she’ll be able to get a set of Hebrew stamps for metalworking that’ll really make her stuff impressive for our kind of crowd.

Also, right after I commissioned her for the ring, I found this little thing on Amazon.  For those among us with a more Christian persuasion, this would be a perfect premade substitute for a Solomonic ring.  However, I’ve noticed with other rings that the material it’s made of (tungsten carbide) has some interesting effects in that it helps work as a natural shield for the wearer as well as a blinder on the wearer.  YMMV.