Search Term Shoot Back, February 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“wiccan language” — You mean English?

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

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

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

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



A Cyprianic Love Spell

Back in May, I moved into a beautiful new house with my fiancé and another of our friends, which is why there were no posts all during that month; it was a busy, busy time.  The end of the month was celebrated with a housewarming party, which took up a good amount of energy and booze (yet oddly very little beer was drunk), and it was an awesome time all around.  Amidst the generic housewarming gifts of booze, booze, alcohol, booze, and liquor, one of my magic friends and colleagues gave me something interesting: a bar of soap.  Not that he was commenting on my standards of hygiene, but the soap was interesting in that it was a magical soap with Saint Cyprian’s image and name on the box.  I was thoroughly curious about the thing, so I opened it up and found a dark purple, fragrant, oval bar of soap inside (“with pheromones!”), along with a little slip of paper with a long prayer written on it.  Of course, the thing was in Spanish, so I had to put it off for a few days to translate it.  I know that botanicas of all kinds sell a variety of magical goods, and I’ve seen some sell special soaps for magical purposes.  After all, taking a spiritual bath is made much easier with a premade bar of soap rather than distilling all the oils and tinctures you need ahead of time, so it makes sense.

Turns out, the thing is a love spell, which isn’t surprising at all.  Saint Cyprian got his main story from being a sorcerer in the matchmaking business, though his final target of Justina didn’t turn out as planned.  Saint Cyprian is certainly called upon in many works of love-drawing and love-forcing, as a brief glance through the Book of Saint Cyprian will show, but I wasn’t aware that he was so commonly invoked that they were making bars of soap with his name.  The prayer itself is pretty par for the course with love magic in the Western tradition; you see similar language in all kinds of love-making and sex-making spells going back two thousand years, which made me smile at how the little methods are still kept around after so long.  The spell is written predictably for a woman to use on a male target, though of course the pronouns can be switched up to suit anybody’s needs:

Saint Cyprian, drive away from N. any woman, that he may look at me in every moment, today and now, wanting to be at my side; that he may know for certain that I am the perfect woman for him; that N. cannot live without me; and that N. may always have my image in his thoughts in every moment. Now, wherever he may be, with whomever he may be, he will look for me because of his thoughts are of me. And that at bedtime he may dream of me, and at rising he may think of me and desire me; that at eating he may think of me, that when walking he may think of me, that in every moment of his life he may think of me. That he may want to see me, sense my smell, touch me with love; that N. may want to hug me, kiss me, take care of me, protect me, love me 24 hours of every day, as well as loving me most of all and that he feel pleasure just to hear my voice.

Saint Cyprian, make N. feel for me a desire beyond what is normal, as he has never felt nor never feel for another person; that he may find pleasure only with me, that he may feel desire only for me, and that his body may belong only to me, that he may only have peace if he be with me.

I am thankful to you, Saint Cyprian, that you work in my favor, and I will divulge your name in payment of taming N. and bringing them in love, caring, devoted, faithful, and full of desire into my arms.

To use the spell with the soap, the instructions with the prayer are that one should use the soap for six consecutive days in a bath taken at nighttime.  On the seventh day, the rest of the soap is to be disposed of.  I’d tweak the spell and use of the soap a bit like this:  once a day in the evening before retiring, take a bath/shower using the soap and recite the prayer, bearing in mind the target and focusing on one’s desire, lust, love, etc.  After the seven days have finished, bury the soap on the land of the target’s home.  Alternatively, dissolve the rest of the soap in water and pour it on their doorstep.  As the spell itself mentions, the “payment” to Saint Cyprian would be to popularize him and thank him publicly, telling others about the powers of the good saint, setting up a public shrine for him, or otherwise bringing honor to Saint Cyprian.

The soap itself smells delicious (must be those pheromones it has, obvi).  However, there are no ingredients listed on the soap, and it’s hard to place the smell; it has a light smell, mostly floral with a hint of musk in it.  I’m no expert in soap-making, though I assume it’s not too difficult.  The herbs I’d use for a similar wash would be jasmine, sandalwood, rose, cinnamon, allspice, myrrh, and acacia, all of which are associated with love and lust or have other Cyprianic associations.  If one just had herbs on hand, you could make a bath with that and save the water to throw onto the target’s doorstep.  Likewise, one could make a tincture and use it as a perfume after the bath proper.

I’ve also found this same spell in at least one place on the internet where the prayer is done as a proper novena, too, so the spell can work as a prayer for request instead of a spell of command.  All depends on how you want to use it, of course.

49 Days of Definitions: Part IX, Definition 6

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the forty-first definition, part IX, number 6 of 7:

Where(ever) man is, also (is) God.  God does not appear to anybody but man.  Because of man God changes and turns into the form of man.  God is man-loving and man is God-loving.  There is an affinity between God and man.  God listens only to man, and man to God.  God is worthy of worship, man is worthy of admiration.  God does not appear without man; man is desirable to God and God to man, because desire comes from nowhere, but from man and God.

“[Both God and man] are one: God and man after the species” (I.1); “nothing is uninhabited by God…God is in heaven, and heaven in the world” (III.1); “God is within himself, the world is in God, and man in the world” (VII.5); “everything is within man” (IX.4).  These are all things we’ve seen before: not only does God dwell within the soul that dwells within the body, but that not only is Man within God, but God is within Man.  Moreover, “whoever thinks of himself in Nous knows himself and whoever knows himself knows everything[;] everything is within man” (IX.4).  This tightly couples up the identities and existence of God and Man so closely, especially with knowledge itself delivered by God/Nous/light being everywhere as it is.  Man, being endowed with Nous, can know all things, and can in a way be everywhere just as God is everywhere.  Thus, this definition starts off with a profound statement: “wherever man is, also is God”.  We are not only made in the image of God, and we are not only endowed with the power of God, but we are with God wherever we go.  We are always within and with God, so perhaps it’s not shocking, but this definition makes it clear that we are never separated from God.

Moreover, “God does not appear to anybody but man”.  This is probably shocking, but consider that Man is the only one among the living beings capable of Nous.  Because of this, we’re the only ones who are able to transcend the material realm (VIII.7), and we’re the only ones capable of examining the entirety of creation (VI.1, VII.2).  While Nous sees all things through all souls, only Man among all the ensouled creatures can know Nous in the other direction, and in the process know himself and all other things.  Other creatures are limited in what they can see, and can only see themselves and their own worlds that exist within God.  But Man is Man because “he has got a notion of God” (IX.1), so only Man truly understands what God is, while other beings don’t.  Man is special because he alone can know God, and since knowledge is so tightly bound up with light and sight, Man is special because he alone can see God.  Thus, “God does not appear to anybody but man”.

Of course, if we can see God appear, then that means God must appear sensible to us, but we know that God is intelligible.  But that’s not always the case: “because of man God changes and turns into the form of man”.  God condescends down to us and takes on a human form, which allows us to know God.  This can be taken in two big ways, as far as I can tell: either God comes down as his own human to lead us to God, or God comes down as us and becomes us so we can know ourselves to know God.  The former is basically soteriology: we have some savior, some divine human (as if humans aren’t divine!) who comes down as God and appears to us, speaks to us, and leads us; this could be Jesus, or Dionysus, or Horus, or Mithra, or Krishna, or any other savior-god.  This allows us to witness God as something external to ourselves (though this isn’t ultimately true, but in the world of forms and matter it can appear so), making it easier for ourselves to know God through the God-human.  On the other hand, God comes down to the world as us, taking on human forms as us, and lives down here as us.  In this case, it makes sense why human souls are given Nous; that’s God who dwells within us, and by coming to know ourselves, we come to know Nous, and we come to know God.  In either case, we are made as God and as gods to know God, and to do this, God appears to us in ways we can understand.

But why?  Why does God even bother with us?  “God is man-loving and man is God-loving”.  God loves us.  With knowledge, there is no fear (IX.3), but now we know that love is the opposite of fear.  With knowledge, we love God, and God loves us.  God, by extension, loves everything, since everything is within Man and everything is within God and Man is within God and God is within God, but we alone are the only form that God takes down here, and it’s for our sake.  Everything God does is for our sake (VIII.2), because God loves us.  This isn’t some passionate romantic love, but this is an existential, “you are family”, “you are part of me”, “you are me” love.  This is agape, the unconditional love of God for Man, a promotion of well-being in response to having been made well.  “There is an affinity between God and man”, suggesting that everything between God and Man is mutual, and that we love each other, as spouses love each other.  Together we form a whole, as was mentioned in I.1.

Not only does God appear only to Man, but “God listens only to man, and man to God”.  Just as God appears to Man because Man is the only creature endowed with Nous to know and sight to see, God listens to Man because Man is the only creature capable of Logos to speak reasonable speech.  Logos is the servant of Nous, and is the only means by which we can come to approach and know God (V.1).  All reasonable speech is of God, while unreasonable speech is only worldly (V.2, V.3).  Thus, God only listens to reasonable speech, and the only source of that that is not itself is Man, so “God listens only to man”.  Man, however, listens among himself and the words of others, but can also listen to God.  Whether an “only” is omitted in that latter half of the statement or whether it was intentionally left out is not known, but if we assume the parallel structure here omitted it, then “Man [listens only] to God” is what we should be reading.  All speech comes from the world and the voices it produces, though reasonable speech comes from voice and Logos used at once.  But the world and all voices all come from God, and voice is used according to one’s nature, whether Man or any other creature, and “nature is the mirror of truth” (VIII.5).  Whatever Man hears, he can understand, and he can understand it with reason even if the original utterance was unreasonable.  Thus, no matter what is said, or where or when or by whom, Man listens only to God.

God loves us and is so much bigger than us; this we know now, but we also know that everything is within God, and everything is within Man.  So which is “bigger”?  When you deal with matters of infinity, things can always get a little hazy, since God is truly infinite while Man is…well, Man is finite.  But yet we have everything within ourselves; this isn’t as much a literal truth as it is a reflection of it.  So, rather, while Man is by nature representative of God, God is in truth God; we might say that Man is the nature of God, especially if God appears in the world as Man and if truly “nature is the mirror of truth” (VIII.5).  Thus, no matter how great Man may be, God is greater, and gives that greatness to us.  Thus the next part of the definition: “God is worthy of worship, man is worthy of admiration”.  Admiration literally means “to look at”, and we know that by knowing Man/ourselves, we know God.  To know God is perfection and completion in all things, and is where our reverence and prayers truly go toward.  God is worthy of worship above all, since God is the greatest and, moreover, the Good (II.1), while we have the choice between good and evil and can choose good (VII.6).

“God does not appear without man”; after all, “God does not appear to anybody but man” and “wherever man is, also is God”.  This makes sense with an older definition, VI.1: “if there were nobody to see [the world], what would be seen would not even exist”.  After all, if everything is within Man, and if knowledge of the world is knowledge of God, and if we know God through the world, then God appears to us through the world and through other human forms.  So, if we were no Man to exist to see things, then there would be no God to see, and there would be no need for light or things to exist.  Yet, here we are, and so “everything exists because of man” (IX.1).  So why is it that we exist at all?  Because “man is desirable to God”, so God wants Man to exist and live; moreover, “God [is desirable] to man” because we are within and blessed with God which leads us to him as our desire.  Where does this desire come from?  We know that desire is a passion of the soul that moves it and the body (IX.4), but this desire comes from Nous within our souls (VII.3).  Desire as a passion does not come from the world, nor does it come from other humans, but it comes from within ourselves.  Thus, “desire comes from nowhere, but from man and God”.

Now, one of the things that this definition introduces but does not clarify is why we should worship God.  God made us, and God loves us, and God finds us desirable.  Sure, okay, we can get that.  We also know that because knowing God is immortality and knowledge and love, we also love God and naturally strive to know God.  Okay.  But why does God love us and find us desirable?  This isn’t something said or known yet, and it’s unclear at this point whether the Definitions will say so later on.  That said, why would it matter for the Definitions to tell us?  Why would God make the world at all?  Why would God make things the way God did?  These are purely intelligible things, I’d claim, that are not for humans to know, at least not those without Nous.  Suffice it to say that it gets us started on our path to God to know that God loves us and God wants us to live and perfect ourselves.

49 Days of Definitions: Part IX, Definition 3

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirty-eighth definition, part IX, number 3 of 7:

Who(ever) knows God, does not fear God; who(ever) does not know God fears God.  Who(ever) knows none of the beings fears everyone; who(ever) knows all of them fears none.

So we know that the perfection of the soul, the whole point of living according to Hermes Trismegistus, is to know God; this is our “plenitude”, our “good” (VII.5).  This is equivalent to knowing all that exists (VI.3), both in the mutually-reflective sensible world and intelligible world (VIII.5).  In coming to know God, we come to know ourselves; by coming to know ourselves, we come to know God.  Our nature is godly; as “nature is the mirror of truth”, we can see and know God through ourselves.  Cool stuff, cool stuff.

Recall also from the last definition that Nous is light and light is Nous.  Since God is Nous and Nous is God, we can also say that God is light and light is God.  Nous, the divine Mind, is both the thing that knows as well as the action of knowing and the object of knowledge all at once; recall the identification in V.1 between Nous and Logos, Mind and Word; the Mind is what it does.  Likewise, light is knowledge, knowing, and knower all at once.  When we understand something by knowing it, we know what it’s like, how it acts, how it manifests, how it comes into being and passes out of being (if possible).  We see it, experience it, and as a result come to be it.  After all, as we join with divine Nous, we return to God and know God, and since God is literally everything everywhere all the time constantly forever eternally, we come to know all things.  We become all things, everything everywhere all the time constantly forever eternally.  Again, cool stuff.

As a result, “whoever knows God, does not fear God”.  We haven’t yet encountered the concept of fear yet in the Definitions, but we have encountered warnings and threats to our immortality and well-being by choosing ignorance and evil instead of knowledge and good.  We don’t choose ignorance because we enjoy being ignorant; we choose ignorance because that’s what we think is good for us (VIII.1, VIII.6), despite what our soul urges us to do (VII.7).  If we know God, we completely hear and understand what is good for us, and so we do what we must and are urged to do because that’s what we know for a fact to be good.  We understand what is good and what the Good is, and how we relate to it.  There is nothing to fear here, nothing to make us choose anything else but good and knowledge, since we are not swayed by unreasonable opinions.

However, those who are swayed by unreasonable opinions choose ignorance of God, and “whoever does not know God fears God”.  There really isn’t anything to fear to begin with, of course; Man is blessed to be made in the image of God, and we are in our own ways part of God.  God has nothing against us, since we are within God.  However, people who fear God have no understanding of what God is, and since “nature is the mirror of truth”, they have no understanding of who they themselves are.  They lack knowledge generally of themselves, of the beings, and of God.

Let’s go back to the imagery of light for a bit.  If you’re in a well-lit room, you can see what’s around you; nothing is hidden from you, you know where to step to avoid harm and enjoy luxury, you know what’s present and what’s missing.  With light, you see and know what’s in the room.  If there are people in it, you can see them too, and can see who they are, what they have, and the like.  Nothing surprises you, nothing hides from you, nothing is hidden from you.  Without light, however, you’d be in a pitch black room without any means to know what’s going on.  You can’t see whether there’s a chair in front of you or not, so you fear to walk forward lest you hurt yourself.  You can’t see whether there’s a dog or a murderer in the room, so you fear for your livelihood.  Everything is hidden from you, even if there’s really nothing even there, and you end up in fear.

It’s the same with the world.  By knowing everything by God through Light with Nous, we see and understand all the things that exist.  We’re aware of them, how to act with them, how to keep ourselves well while avoiding or interacting with them, how to talk with them, and so forth.  Without knowledge, we don’t know what to do.  We fear these things.  Even if we have nothing to fear, we fear them; this is unreasonable, because we don’t understand them, and a lack of understanding is a lack of reason.  Thus, “whoever knows none of the beings fears everyone; whoever knows all of them fears none”.  If we know even one being, we know them all (“by means of either one being or of the whole, you may understand”, VIII.6), but if we don’t know even one being, we know nothing at all.  And, even by understanding one being, we understand God.

How might we go about fearing God through a lack of knowledge?  Human opinion (VIII.1), mostly, and unreasonable speech (V.3).  Both of these things work hand-in-hand and serve to lead Man astray on his path to God, either by setting up false gods who end up getting worshipped instead of God, or by letting others determine one’s action for oneself instead of listing to one’s soul.  By not understanding the truth of God, we don’t understand ourselves and our relationship to God.  Thus, we might assume God is capable of punishing and murdering us (when definition VIII.3 suggests otherwise), or that God is eternally separated from us (when VII.5 and other definitions contradict that), or that God is a material, living entity with a beginning (when III.4 says that’s wrong).  In another sense, we might think that God acts on behalf of some humans or does their bidding, or we might think that God acts in political ways within religions or groups; these are likewise wrong, and are fueled by human opinion for human needs, just as unreasonable speech serves unreasoning humans (V.2).

As for the world, if we know God, then we know all beings, and we fear them no longer.  At the risk of sounding like a trite New Age guru, by becoming enlightened through God we come to be at one with all things, understanding all things as part of ourselves as we are part of God through the ubiquitous Nous that sees and knows all things.  Just as we don’t (or shouldn’t) properly fear our own hands or our teeth, when we are at one with other beings, we don’t fear them, either; they are us and we are them, just as we are God and within God.  The whole illusion of duality and separation that we have in the meanwhile leads us to unreasonably think that “they can hurt me” or “they will kill me”, since we perceive other beings to external to us and not as extensions of us or as us.  We end up seeing ourselves as victims of the world instead as owners of it, and we fear that which we rule (IX.1).

I’m tempted to draw a connection between the use of “fear” in this definition and the use of “love” from VIII.7.  There, we are told that one of the ways we are to perfect ourselves is to “love”, which comes about from belief and which leads into desire of perfection and God.  If we love something, we come to understand it and know it, we chase after it, we long to be with it, we strive to serve it.  If we fear something, we run away from it, we disavow it, we defend ourselves against it, we shut it out.  Those who know God are those who are perfected, and those who are perfected are those who love.  What do they love?  God, and by extension, themselves and all beings.  In love they are at one with God and the cosmos; in fear they separate themselves from them and shut them out.

49 Days of Definitions: Part VIII, Definition 7

This post is part of a series, “49 Days of Definitions”, discussing and explaining my thoughts and meditations on a set of aphorisms explaining crucial parts of Hermetic philosophy. These aphorisms, collectively titled the “Definitions from Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius”, lay out the basics of Hermetic philosophy, the place of Man in the Cosmos, and all that stuff. It’s one of the first texts I studied as a Hermetic magician, and definitely what I would consider to be a foundational text. The Definitions consist of 49 short aphorisms broken down into ten sets, each of which is packed with knowledge both subtle and obvious, and each of which can be explained or expounded upon. While I don’t propose to offer the be-all end-all word on these Words, these might afford some people interested in the Definitions some food for thought, one aphorism per day.

Today, let’s discuss the thirty-fifth definition, part VIII, number 7 of 7:

You do not have the power of becoming immortal; neither does, indeed, the immortal (have the power) of dying.  You can even become a god if you want, for it is possible.  Therefore want and understand and believe and love; then you have become (it)!

So the rest of this section of definitions has been building up a theme involving the power of Man: we are powerful, and have the power within ourselves as bestowed by God to stay in the world as mere animals or to transcend it as part of God.  It’s really all up to us; our actions, our thoughts, our opinions, our worship, our experiences all help us develop ourselves to perfection or inhibit our development.  In that sense, “man has as much power as the gods” (VIII.6); we have the power of choosing for ourselves (each and every one of us) mortal, material perdition or immortal, transcendent salvation.  Again, the whole goal of perfection and development according to the Definitions as a whole is knowledge of God, and by knowing God we come to know everything that exists and ourselves, and vice versa.

That said, keep in mind that despite all this power we’re entitled to have, we’re not omnipotent.  We’re still human, and therefore consist of body and soul; we’re dual-natured, which means we still have some sort of nature, and since we’re sensible, we are not purely intelligible as God is.  Our nature as humans is to die; we are mortal, after all, and the nature of things with material bodies is to die eventually.  Remember that “all beings cannot exceed their own capacity” and that “every being in this world has a nature” (VIII.1); we have our own nature that we cannot change.  Thus, even though we have the choice of choosing immortality for our souls, we “do not have the power of becoming immortal”.  To do so is simply not in our nature, and we cannot change our nature.  This natural law is something above destiny or choice, and while our nature is capable of possessing Nous, our nature is not capable of becoming a heavenly being, since human beings are not heavenly beings (owing to the different bodies, forms, and natures we possess).  Likewise, “neither does, indeed, the immortal have the power of dying”; it’s not in their nature to.  So it’s not just that we’re declined the power of changing natures, but everything is; whatever something is according to its nature, that is going to be how it will be for that being.

Despite that we cannot change our natures, we still have great power: “you can even become a god if you want”.  This may pose something of a problem, since we’re told at once that we cannot change our natures, and yet we can become divine.  Our nature as Man is to be human; this is understood.  We’re subject to natural law, the human condition, “quality and quantity as well as good and evil” (VII.4).  That said, it is also the nature of Man to be godly, if only we come to know God in the process, which we’re all capable of doing.  This is because we are made like God “after the species” (I.1), so whatever God is, we inherently are in a way apart from other living creatures.  But because of our twofold nature, this is complicated by the presence of the soul inhabiting the body.  We alone dwell in the sensible world and understand (or are capable of understanding) the intelligible world, and we alone dwell throughout and in all parts of the sensible world.  This is similar to how God exists throughout and in all parts of the intelligible world, which extends beyond the sensible world in all possible ways (IV.3, IV.4).  Thus, by becoming gods in our own right within God, we’re simply following our nature and expanding upon it into the fullness of knowledge that is the fullness of the world within God.

This is complicated, I know, since it seems contradictory.  Aren’t gods immortal?  Yes: gods, as heavenly beings such as those made of fire, do not die, the quality of being immortal.  However, Man dies, or more properly, the body of Man dies while the soul lives on in its own way.  We know that the soul is not so tightly coupled with the body that the soul perishes with the body (VI.2); rather, the soul leaves the body upon the body dying, and the soul leaves.  However, while the body requires the soul to move, the soul requires the body to develop.  If the body dies before the soul completes its development, it is “imperfect and lacks a body” (VI.3), but we don’t yet know what happens to remedy that.  If the soul requires the body to develop and it is made to leave the body before it can finish developing, then perhaps the soul returns to another body in a sort of reincarnation or transmigration; it hasn’t yet been said in the Definitions, but it’s also immaterial here.  The point is that the soul is immortal, as is the essence of Man, though the realization of Man as human beings is imperfect as all realizations of ideas are.  We are not just our bodies, and in a sense our bodies are not truly who or what we are, no more than any given pine tree is the idea of pine trees or the DNA of pine trees.

As humans with perfected souls, we are enjoined with God in perfect knowledge of God, which is in our nature, capability, and reason to do; this is what makes us gods in our own nature.  This is not just some grand, divine theological statement, but a practical one: “you can even become a god if you want, for it is possible”.  It is possible for us to perfect our souls; it doesn’t state when, how, or under what circumstances.  It’s possible for us no matter who, what, or where we are.  It’s possible for us, this very moment in each of our lives even, to perfect our soul.  Every moment that we have not perfected our souls or done what is necessary for perfection is one in which we’ve essentially chosen not to, since if we were to just listen to the urges of our souls, we would naturally come to perfection and therefore godhood (VII.3).  In a way, it’s almost Buddhist in its similarity to realization of one’s Buddha-nature; we just need to see through the inane material BS going on in our lives, wipe away the dirt and grime, and let the truth of our existence shine.

Of course, this is more difficult than it sounds.  Many people are entrenched in unreasonable words or living or choices, or are made to be so by others, and it’s hard for many of us to understand or even listen to our souls and its urgings to do the right thing for ourselves.  If it were easy, then we wouldn’t need Hermeticism or Christianity or Thelema or Buddhism or any other path; we’d just naturally do what comes to us.  But it’s in our nature to choose what we do, beyond what animals or heavenly beings do; this set of choices that faces us each and every moment can lead us to knowledge of God or away from knowledge of God.  But the fact remains that it’s possible to do the right thing for ourselves no matter who we are, so even in our present lives, we can attain perfection and, thus, godhood and godliness.

So what do we do?  Hermes gives four commands to us to guide us to perfection: “therefore want and understand and believe and love”.  By following these injunctions, we will “have become [gods]”.  So what do these four commands really tell us to do?

  • Want.  Many of our choices are fueled by what we like and what we don’t like, or what we fear and what we desire.  From our lizard brain to our emotional brain to our logical brain, all our choices are backed up by some sort of logic based on what we want to happen for ourselves.  If we are to perfect ourselves, we must want to perfect ourselves in every way, so that our entire body works in unison with what our soul wants.  Our soul wants perfection; we must consciously recognize that want, and similarly want it as well.  We have to consciously want perfection in order for us to obtain it.
  • Understand.  It’s all well and good to want perfection, but if we don’t know why we want something or how to accomplish it, then we’re going to be stranded at square one.  In order to properly want something, we need good logic behind it that appeals to our lizard, emotional, and rational brains.  These logical reasons must be reasonable; thus, we must employ Logos, reasonable speech, in ourselves and in our lives.  This helps us to understand ourselves and how we work, and likewise how we function across the entire world that we’ve inherited and possess.  By understanding ourselves, we understand the world, and vice versa; by understanding ourselves, we understand God, and vice versa; by coming to understand God, we perfect ourselves.  Thus, we must be completely aware of ourselves and our entire existence, both in and of the world, so as to be immanent within it and transcendent of it.
  • Believe.  There’s a lot of things in the cosmos that we cannot yet understand; this is natural, since it takes time for us to understand any one thing.  For instance, if you don’t understand the principle of heat, you won’t understand how cooking with heat changes food.  Likewise, until we understand the sensible world, we won’t understand the intelligible world, which is where truth really lies.  However, even if we don’t fully understand it, we can still believe in it.  Belief is where we hold something to be true without having reason for it yet; we must use reason to test that belief, and if it holds up to actually be true, then that belief becomes understandable knowledge.  Understanding little things helps us to believe larger things, even if we don’t yet fully understand the larger things.  This is especially true of that which is purely intelligible e.g. God, so we must believe in God and the intelligible for us to understand it.  Thus, we must believe things properly just as we must reason about things properly.  We must believe “that nothing is a vain work”, for then we “will find the work and the craftsman”, but if we believe that everything exists as some sort of nihilist joke, then we “will be mocked at” (VIII.5), which is a euphemistic threat for nothing good.
  • Love.  This isn’t something that’s come up before, but it’s a natural progression of belief, just as belief was from understanding and understanding from wanting.  We must love perfection as something to be worshipped, or seen as worthy of our entire selves and work.  We must hold perfection, and the object and goal of perfection of God, close to us as something that we not just adore but aspire to join with.  We have to give ourselves wholly in body, in soul, in spirit, and in mind to God so as to become perfect.  We need to devote ourselves in a passionate, almost lustful way that makes use of our entire selves, leaving nothing leftover, to the highest goal we possibly can.  We must love perfection.  We must love God.

Note how, by that last injunction of love, this forms a type of cycle, an iterative process towards perfection.  After all, if we devote ourselves to perfection and we yet lack it, we must follow it and chase it and strive to obtain it.  This is, essentially, wanting perfection.  So if we want to love perfection, we must believe in it; if we are to believe in it, we must understand it; if we are to understand it, we must want it; if we are to want it, we must love it.  Even with just a curious desire to do something, this will open the door and start one off on the path to perfection, but it may be a long road.  It’s an iterative process that builds upon itself; we want a little, then eventually we want more, then we want even more, and so on.  Eventually, our wanting, our understanding, our believing, our loving will become so great that it will completely overwhelm any evil, ignorant, unreasonable choice we might possibly make, and we will end up in perfection of ourselves.

Want, understand, believe, and love.  This is the Work.

Search Term Shoot Back, November 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 November 2013.  As most of you know, the big thing that’s been going on this month has been the 49 Days of Definitions project, but people are still finding their way here for many other things.  I also noticed that I had an unusual number of “unknown search terms”, referring to people who are using anonymous search techniques and secure browsing.  Good for you; keep it up!  I support that like whoa.

“orgone symbol” — As far as I’m aware, I know of no symbol for orgone generally; granted that I haven’t read many of Reich’s works, but I don’t know of an “orgone factor” represented with any Greek letter or symbol.  Orgone is just an ambient life force, so it doesn’t have a religion or *ism that has its own symbol; you might use the Chinese character 氣, qi, which is used for a similar concept but might be crossing disciplines too enthusiastically.  If you want a symbol to work with orgone, you might look up symbols used in Western-style reiki, or look up radionics patterns or designs.  Some of my experiments with making “orgone circuitboards” or force compasses (which are closer to radionics than other things) can be found at this post.

“how to get over an addiction to divination” — For reference, check out my post on divinaddiction and divinaversion.  First, let me clarify: an addiction to divination is basically micromanaging the future without letting things have a chance to happen first.  It is over-reliance and dependence on divination in order to do anything of use.  It’s alright to do ten readings in a row to figure out what’s needed for a trip or how certain things on the trip will go; it’s unhealthy if you do it for when you should leave for work in the morning each morning.  (Note to hyper-Christianist mothers: use of divination is a necessary but not sufficient symptom of divinaddiction.  Divination isn’t ungodly; you are for your hypocrisy and fundamentalism.)  Honestly, the best way to get over an addiction to divination is to stop caring so much.  Let life happen; you’re not in control of everything, nor have you ever, nor will you ever be.  Use divination (sparingly) to see what you can work to change.  Fix the problems that arise, and live with the predicaments that come your way.  Ease up and stop being so goddamn controlling of everything in your life; learn your lessons, live well, and let go.

“talisman for love tetragrammaton key solomon” — The second, third, and fifth pentacles of Venus from the Key of Solomon should do you nicely.  You might want to find the Mathers’ version of the text, which is drawn much more clearly.

“how to adhere my copper wand to my crystal” — Assuming you mean you have a crystal point that you’d like to affix to a copper wand, first I recommend you make a niche, nook, or pit in the wand that can hold the crystal comfortably and safely (much as in my ebony wand project); if the wand is a tube, see if you can get a copper pipe opening or valve that’s just big enough to let the crystal through while screwing the valve onto one end (much as in my fire wand project).  In either case, when you’re ready to make the bond, get two-part epoxy from your local hardware or craft store.  Mix the two parts together, apply to both surfaces, push together and hold firmly, then let cure for 24 hours.  The bond made will be permanent and very sturdy.

“why are there ruling angels for planets” — Oooh, a deceptively simple philosophical question!  To condense a lot of philosophy and theology into a brief explanation in a post mocking other people for finding my blog, the Divine Source has these things called “angels”, which are basically extensions of itself in other realms to achieve or create certain ends.  It’s like the Divine is the brain or central command of operations, and the angels are the actual hands and feet or the machines that actually do the work.  In that sense, everything that happens is manifested under the guidance and rulership of angels; it’s not just planets, but everything has a ruling angel, and some things have multiple angels.  For instance, the “threefold keeper of Man” (Agrippa, book III, chapter 22) refers to three angels each and every human being has ruling over them: one for their specific incarnation and destiny in this life (natal genius), one for their current job and productive capabilities there (angel of occupation), and one that connects us directly to the Divine to guide us through all circumstances in all lifetimes (the Holy Guardian Angel or “Holy Demon”).  Working with the ruling angel of anything is basically working with the thing that commands and directs the thing in this world, so it’s a powerful way to get in touch with anything and understand it.

“spiritual cleaningyour home with van van oil do i start from front to back” — The way I’ve heard it, when you’re cleaning out your house, you want to start from the back of the property to the front; when you’re blessing your house, you want to start from the front of the property to the back.  I wouldn’t necessarily cleanse things off with Van Van oil, though it’s possible; I’d save Van Van oil for blessing and protecting after cleansing and banishing.  YMMV.

“what are geomantic ablilities?” — The ability to understand the symbols and techniques involved in geomantic divination, but more than that, to cut through bullshit, ask concrete and specific questions, make effective and useful plans of action to achieve goals, to be able to cut a large problem down into multiple parts for easier analysis

“lost + stolen + planets + houses + astrology -vedic -radu -indian” — First, major props to anyone who actually knows how to use a goddamn search engine.  Whoever you are, I love you for knowing and specifying what you actually want to search for.   As for the actual substance, what you appear to be looking for is a method to find lost or stolen items using only Western astrology (as opposed to Vedic or jyotish astrology).  While I’m no real astrologer, I’d suggest looking at the significator of the second house to represent the object, that of the fifth (fourth from the second) to determine where it might be, and that of the seventh to see whether anyone stole it or whether you just happened to lose it.  Apply the other rules of horary astrology as normal.  If you want a geomantic perspective on how to find lost or stolen objects, read this post, which is more than a little influenced by horary astrology techniques.

“greek red five pointed star on a column geomantic magick” — I…what?  Are you trying to type out an entire slide on a Freemason conspiracy theorist PowerPoint presentation, or an entire Golden Dawn visualization?  As far as I’m aware, there are multiple subjects in that query, so it’s hard to understand what’s being searched for here.  Using my powerful geomantic abilities, I’m gonna have you whittle it down for me a bit.

“raven orthaevelve” — Ah, seems like I’ve been mentioning her plenty enough on my blog!  Raven Orthaevelve is a fantastic friend of mine, who’s also a very skilled craftswoman, silversmith, and reference for several occult communities.  She’s incredibly smart and regularly vomits textbooks of information, and is quite deft at weaving modern medical and scientific knowledge with alchemical, herbal, and spiritual lore.  She has an Etsy page (with beautiful works that make excellent holiday gifts), and she’s open for commissions; she’s helped me out immensely on a number of projects, and I’ve got her help in something very special in the near future, too.  Raven is also a devotee of the Mesoamerican (Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec, mostly) gods and does Mayan astrological forecasting on her Facebook page.

“books about positive energy communing with spirits” — If you’re still in the phase where you’re waffling about “positive energy”, I’m going to say that you’re not ready or magically mature enough to conjure or summon spirits.  Prayer to the angels or beneficial gods like Tykhe or Fortuna might be better for you.  Most spirits don’t care about “positive energy” but “energy that works”, no matter whether it’s positive or negative, lifey or deathy, white or black, or whatever.

“organic orgone” — You can pick this stuff up at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, usually beside the incense and scented soaps sections.  It’ll cost a little more than the orgone that comes with chemical preservatives, but it’s much healthier for you.  Goes great in kombucha, vegan quinoa kale curry, and anything that doesn’t actually taste good or is reasonable to buy but makes you feel better for being an entitled, yuppie activist-wannabe.

“how to conjuration calzas angel for help” — I’ve never heard of this spirit before, so it might be from some obscure text I haven’t come across yet.  Googling for “calzas” I find nothing but images of tights, stockings, hosiery, and skinny jeans, so if you wanted to conjure that, you could go to your local Target or department store and buy some; if you wanted something more spiritual, you could conjure the ruling angel of this type of clothing by drawing on a stylized picture of pants on a lamen and performing a Trithemian conjuration ritual.

“orgone generator orb”  — An orgone generator is anything that collects or “generates” orgone, usually in the form of a box or cabinet.  A container whose walls are lined with repeating layers of organic and inorganic material work fine for this to collect orgone in the inside of the container; a simple version of this can be made by taking multiple pieces of printer paper and tinfoil, putting one on top of the other in alternating layers with the paper as both the outermost and innermost layers, then gluing or taping it all together and making a box out of it.  An orb can be done in a similar way, but is difficult to make easily; you don’t need an orb to focus the orgone in the generator, since the generator simply collects it all inside anyway.  I use an orb in my MaGOS setup, but that’s for a different purpose; I’m using an orgone accelerator (which propels orgone in a particular direction) into a crystal field using the orb to redirect the energy in the field, so this probably isn’t what you’re looking for.  (Then again, with anything orgone-related, it’s hard to determine what people actually want out of it.)

“geomantic hours”  — The geomantic hours are a development of time division much like the planetary hours, where individual slices of time are assigned to the seven planets.  Similarly, previous geomancers have tried to form a similar system of time where one assigns individual geomantic figures to the hours, but I haven’t found this system to be of much use.  While the system of planetary hours is clean, orderly, and regular, the systems of geomantic hours (as I’ve read them) are either incredibly haphazard, significantly flawed, or corrupted from an original source.  Besides, I haven’t found much use for them that I wouldn’t simply use for the planetary hours and looking outside to see whether it’s daytime or nighttime.  If you’d like to read more, you might look up this post on timing with geomancy that mentions these hours.

“md caduceus symbol tattoo”  — If you’re going to be a doctor of medicine with the highest recognizable degree in the land to show it, you should know better than to use the Wand of Hermes (with two snakes and wings on the top) for your profession.  You want the asclepian, or the Staff of Asclepius, which has one snake and no wings.  You can see my tattoos, one of each, in this post from before.  The caduceus is for speed, messages, trickery, deceit, which is good for commercial health organizations who’re into that.  The asclepian is for health, healing, wholeness, and purity, which is good for doctors, nurses, medics, and anyone who actually helps people.  I would, however, suggest the caduceus in addition to the asclepian if you’re an ambulance driver, in an armed forces, or some sort of field medic where speed is of the essence, but this might be better for a talisman than a tattoo proper.

“lead pencil in orgonite” —  Technically, “lead pencils” use graphite, which is a form of more-or-less pure carbon.  Like lead and unlike some other sources of carbon, however, graphite is inorganic, serving as a metal when working with orgone technology.  The wood surrounding the graphite, as might be expected, is organic; technically the pencil itself can serve as a conductor for orgone due to its combination of organic and inorganic elements, though a weak one on its own.  Pencils have never contained lead, not now nor ever since their development as a tool of writing, but were thought to since graphite is visually similar to lead ore.  In a similar vein, orgonite has never been of use, not now nor ever since their development as glittery robot vomit, but were thought to since fluffy pseudoscientific new-agers want to “heal the earth” without doing any actual work of value.  The pencil is better off being used to fill out forms for helping out with third world countries or disaster victims than being wasted in resin and other trash.

An Ancient Queer Love Spell (because why not?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

By the power of IAO SABAOTH!

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

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

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