On Secrecy of Ritual

After a bit of preliminary research and a bit of reflection on my own works and studies up to this point, I felt like the last post on mathetic rituals for solar ingresses into the signs of the Zodiac was needed for two main reasons.  For one, my mathesis work has been mostly contemplative and meditative without any real ritual, and since I’m a stickler for actually having and doing rituals to get Work done, I need to start building up the ritual repertoire more for this project I’m doing.  The other reason is because I can’t find any significant ritual body to celebrate or mark the ingress of the Sun into different zodiac signs, which is odd.  The Western tradition is filled with rituals that mark the change of the seasons, or different celebrations of the planets, or certain elections that call on specific planets or stars or houses or lunar mansions or faces or whatnot within the context of astrological magic.  Elections, however, are far too specific for this and don’t accomplish exactly what I’m looking for.  Yet, besides those, I can’t find anything in the publicly available corpus in my library or online that celebrates or ritually marks the passage of the Sun from one sign to the next.  Maybe I’m not looking hard enough or not asking the right people, but the case is the same.

So I’m making my own.  That’s cool.  So why would I decline to share all but the most superficial, broadest thoughts on these rituals, rather than posting the full rubrics and process on my blog?  The same goes for my ritual of self-initiation into mathesis; why would I hide that?  Well, I have a few reasons:

  • Mathesis is designed to be a mystery tradition in the vein of Neopythagorean and Neoplatonic theurgy.  As such, it is going to have mysteries, rites that are kept secret from exoteric knowledge or use.  This is by design, since I don’t think the specific transformations here are for public consumption except those that I think are worthy to work it and, by extension, work with me on this.
  • I simply haven’t finished some of these rituals, and I’m not one to give out unfinished or unpolished product except in some experimental or philosophical cases.  I may wax academic and mystic on many topics, but when it comes to rituals, I only want to share what I’ve refined and completed, if I share them at all.
  • If you use a ritual of my own creation, then even if I say that it’s at your own risk, I am still responsible for those who use my specific rituals in some small way.  I cannot yet vouch for the efficacy or safety or expected results of these things except in some limited circumstances.  If you were to use a ritual of my own design and get seriously fucked in the process, then I may not have the time or resources to help you out as I’d be obligated to do.  To avoid this, I prevent giving out my specific ritual knowledge to all except my students.  I don’t have many students for a reason: I can’t look after them all and the effects of the rituals I prescribe for their benefit or development.
  • For a very few cases, it’s “not the right time” to release some of these rituals.  As the explorer and scout of some of these things I research and work, I also have to decide how, when, and to whom to release these rituals.  If the gods or spirits have expressed discouragement from making something public, and if I make sure that’s the case and there’s a good case for it, then their word goes over mine.  Sometimes rituals are prescribed for a particular person in one state of their life, but not at another; sometimes rituals are released to the world only after certain current events have resolved; sometimes rituals are kept secret until death for posthumous release; sometimes rituals are kept secret forever with only me to know these things.  It depends, and as open as I’d like to be about my work, it’s not guaranteed that I am able to do so for ritual and spiritual reasons.  (This, thankfully, is the minority case with my work, or at least it has been up until this point.)

I write a lot on this blog, and I share plenty on my thoughts and experiences in working with this god or that force or this entity, and I share many rituals and frameworks for ritual, both theurgic and thaumaturgic.  Why do I share these and not others?  In many cases, the rituals have been out there forever (maybe not forever, but sometimes 2000 years, give or take a century or two), and all I do is offer a refinement or different take on them.  In other cases, I share rituals of my own creation that anyone of any level can pick up and use, with varying results that any spiritual worker worth their salt can manage or amplify or diminish.  Other times, I provide ritual frameworks that can be adapted or manipulated for various ends, and I just synthesize the overall technique for others to use.  When I release or publish a ritual on this blog, it’s because it’s for the greater good in a way that can actually become and expected to be good.  In other words, while all this stuff I write about may be occult, it’s not necessarily esoteric in the sense that they’re guarded secrets; much of this is exoteric, or could very easily become exoteric with a bit of thought and action on the part of my diligent and excellent readers regardless of how little or how much I say.

Even when it comes to my publishing rituals and stuff, I don’t really talk about what I’ve currently got going on.  I may have at one point, but I’ve since stopped talking about the nitty-gritty of my current projects and traditions.  I do talk about my experiences and impressions, and I may talk about improvements to things I’ve done, but I’ve since come to terms with the fact that the whole “to keep silent” rule people love to repeat is pretty valid stuff.  Why?  Well, to take a bit of a paranoid stance, I don’t want people to know what I’ve got going on so that I can practice in relative isolation and security; the more people know about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, the more means the more malicious out there can have to confound and ruin my projects.  To take a scientific bent to it, I can’t abide contamination of my experiments, so I keep my stuff under wraps so that I can have good, stable, and clear results.  While I like the idea of crowdsourcing my magic so that I can tap on the blessed wellspring of potency that the Internet provides, I don’t like the cost of doing so, because I don’t have control over things that I should in my own rituals.

Plus, in the case I need to work against another person?  The less they know about me, the fewer ways they have to defend or stymie me.  I have a theory that it’s best to fight fire with fire; when someone is working against you in a particular tradition or method, oftentimes the most effective way to fight back involves those same traditions and methods.  Someone laying a hoodoo trick on you?  Use hoodoo to clean yourself and fight back.  Someone sending a saint to restrain you?  Work with the same saint to subvert their efforts.  Someone calling on their dead to make your life hell?  Call on your dead to make your life heaven and turn the tables.  Someone using an astrological talisman to injure your life?  Use astrological magic to negate the presence of the talisman until you can destroy it.  But, if you don’t know what methods a person is inclined to use, you may not know the most effective way to fight back; certain spiritual traditions may have blind spots that other traditions can exploit to devastating success.  No one tradition is truly universal or perfect, and the cultural and mythic biases in any given tradition should be balanced out with other worldviews and practices to produce a truly well-rounded, balanced individual practice.  I’m involved with a number of traditions and practices, but I only bring those up rarely and in the company of people I trust; this blog, though notable in its wordiness and content, is still only a slice of what I know and do.

I swear that I won’t be one of those wizened curmudgeons who jealously hoard their knowledge, swatting people away from my notes with a flaming brand and threatening them with annihilation should they dare get on my lawn.  I do feel like I should be posting and sharing more than I do, if only for the sake of getting me out of laziness and back in the game.  That said, I equally feel as entitled to my own knowledge and secrecy, when called for and for legitimate reasons, that I don’t share out freely.  It’s just a constant fight to get the balance right.

On Tattoos of Spiritual Artifices

Recently on the endless stream of half-formed thoughts that keeps me sane in the office, which is to say Twitter, I was approached by someone who likes my work and thinks highly of it.  While I take this as a humbling and honoring thing, I was troubled by this as well, since they asked if it was a bad idea to take the Table of Practice design I developed based on Fr. Rufus Opus’ coursework and use it as a tattoo on their body.

Table of Practice

I told them bluntly that, yes, this is indeed a bad idea.  Why?  Because the Table of Practice pattern is a combination of spiritual geometry and sacred names that is put together in such a way so as to contain and manifest spirits; this is the point of the diagram.  To have this on their body would mean that, wherever they go, they risk having spirits collect on their tattoo with or without their knowledge and, worse, to give those spirits form and place in the world without actively working with them or even attentively or intentionally calling upon them.  These things happen anyway, which is why regular cleansings and baths and banishings and the like are so necessary, but to trigger that even more than it happens on its own and in a more dangerous way is a terrible, awful, no-good idea.  Worse, the person in question wanted to use this for spiritual protection, which is not the point of this design at all!  It can be used for containment and isolation, sure, but it is not primarily intended for that, and has way too many side-effects that make this a poor choice for a protection tattoo.

Put simply, this person was coming from a place of ignorance, a place which I hope I was able to help them out from.  The occult world is full of arcane geometries, obscure patterns, and unusual shapes that many a graphical artist would love to get their hands on or take credit for.  Add to it, so much of this stuff is just so cool-looking (and if you’re one of the vast majority of people who get into the occult, you got into it because it looks so freaking awesome).  There’s a heavy and high danger in this, though, because if you merely work with this stuff because it looks cool, you often overlook how powerful and grave and serious this stuff is.  It’s easy to forget that these things that appear so simple are in and of themselves so dangerous; a simple stray mark, a vowel pronounced with the wrong intonation, the wrong type of pepper used in incense, or such minor differences could honestly and hugely change how something works.  Just because something looks simple and straightforward doesn’t mean that it can be used in a simple and straightforward manner.

This stuff is called the occult, and the word “occult” means “that which is hidden”.  This stuff is not always apparent but always needs to be studied and mulled over for it to make sense and for it to click.  Picking something up and running with it is a bold move, and can easily cross over into folly; without a firm understanding of what you’re doing and to what end, as well as the construction of the tools and designs and artifices you’re using, you could really hurt yourself or those around you.  This goes double for tattoos of spiritual designs and artifices, because you’re literally and permanently transforming your body into an occult tool or a container for occult forces and entities; you need to take extra care when getting a spiritual tattoo because you may be biting off far more than you can chew.

Search Term Shoot Back, January 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 January 2015.

“rufus opus phone number” — Please don’t stalk my instructor.  Nobody likes an unbidden phone call from some random person.  I don’t know it and chances are you shouldn’t know it.

“alternative to isopsephy egyptian” — Alas, this isn’t possible.  Isopsephy is the Greek term for gematria, which is a method of numerology that corresponds individual letters of a writing system to individual numbers.  In this way, we can treat whole words or sentences as mathematical or numerical objects, using numerology to divine alternative or occult meanings from them beyond what the words themselves say.  However, this is only possible if there exists a mapping between letters and numbers.  Some writing systems that do this include Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, and Amharic.  However, many writing systems do not, and Egyptian writing (I assume hieroglyphs) is in this category.  For one, Egyptian hieroglyphs don’t use “letters”, where each symbol represents a distinct sound devoid of independent meaning; rather, they used a complicated system of ideographs and semanto-phonetic symbols to represent ideas and sounds-paired-with-meaning, while they used a separate set of glyphs for numbers, and never the twain had met.  Thus, there doesn’t exist a method of numerology involving Egyptian hieroglyphs in the same ways as Greek isopsephy or Hebrew gematria.

“how to clean oshun eleke” — If you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  Find your local santero/santera, or go to your padrino/madrina, and have them do it for you.  Next time, be sure to take more care in wearing your elekes.

“favorable fields generated by orgone on growing cannabis” — You’re considering wasting precious grow-space for weed by trying to add in congealed robot vomit?  How gullible of a hippy are you?

“instant huge cock satan” — It never ceases to surprise me how many people are literally willing to sell their soul or make deals with the Devil for a bigger dick.  There’s really no good and safe way to increase penis size; pills and the like are bunk, and training like jelqing or penis pumps can potentially be overdone and leave your dick literally burst.  If we have such a hard time with this using utterly physical means, how much more so with spiritual ones?  Be content with what you have, guys.  Trust me, if you know how to use it, that’s the best thing.  It doesn’t take much to feel full or have a good time.

“what liquor do you use to conjure spirits” — Depends on the spirit.  Tradition can dictate a lot: Hellenists use wine for some of the theoi, many Caribbean traditions use rum, Brazilian ones use cachaça, Shinto ones use sake, and so forth.  The keyword here is “spirit”, as in any alcoholic volatile beverage; most spirits won’t turn them down!  That said, ask the spirit directly.  Every god, spirit, ancestor, and the like have their own preferences above and beyond what tradition may dictate; while I offer red wine to Hermes, I’ve heard of some people getting a preference for wine coolers.  If you knew that your late great-grandfather loved scotch, pour him a glass of Glenfiddich once in a while.  If a particular culture hero was famous for owning a brewery, try offering them a glass of beer that they were known to make or love.  Ask them, and use your intuition.

“is bornless rite necessary” — Depends on what you need it for, but the Bornless Rite (or Headless Rite, Liber Samekh, Stele of Ieu the Hieroglyphist, etc.) isn’t necessary in the same way as any other ritual isn’t necessary.  It really does help, though, especially in the fields of exorcism and gaining contact with the Holy Guardian Angel.  If you want to achieve either of these things, then the Headless Rite is awesome.  It’s by no means the only way to do them, but it’s a good one.  Give it a try; you could do much worse.

“occult offerings workplace” — This is an awesome idea, and one I use.  The general rule, no matter what kind of job or office/work environment you may have, is BE DISCREET.  By all means, use all the pomp and circumstance you may want when you’re at home or in a secluded grove in the forest or cliff on a mountain, but in an office, factory, restaurant, or clinic, you don’t have that luxury.  Consider memorizing a prayer and muttering it under your breath while looking at a particular innocuous devotional object you may have (a peacock paperweight for Hera, a soldier action figure for Ares, an obsidian necklace for Tezcatlipoca, etc.).  If you have a desk or locker, consider using a secluded corner that won’t draw much attention and set an equally-innocuous figurine there as a focus and a glass or mug of water, coffee, tea, or juice out for them.  If you can’t afford this, use a break to go to the bathroom, out back on the porch, or outside to a crossroads and make a quick, quiet, and short offering there.  Not everyone has the ability to do that, though, so modify your method to suit your circumstances.

“greek dicks” — I know there’s a trend to “go Greek” in a lot of ways, what with this cultural openness encouraging Greek yoghurt and buttsex and Hellenism and all sorts of stuff.  Mediterranean stuff and things are hot!  That said, have you also considered fantasizing about Turkish oil wrestling?  Because I certainly do.

“very large dicks” — Not just large dicks, but very large dicks!  Honestly, this is just lazy searching; using the word “very” is lazy writing, anyway.  To wit, I quote John Keating from the movie Dead Poets Society:

So avoid using the word “very” because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.

“god hermes pray protection from rape” — …are you aware of the corpus of Greek mythos at all?  While I know certain things aren’t culturally translatable from 2500 years ago to today, the Greek gods tended to do whatever they want or whomever they want and whenever they want.  This includes forcing themselves upon any number of mortals, men and women alike, sometimes to great ends and sometimes to awful ones.  Hermes doesn’t really operate in the same way as his brother Apollo or father Zeus and isn’t one to have very many sexual exploits of his own, but he’s better at setting up clandestine affairs and lovers in secrecy and shadow.  While he can be called upon for escape and protection, like with Europa from Hera, this is more from wrath and less from rape.  Then again, Hermes is a god of many things and is a microcosm unto himself, so if you want a way out of anything, definitely give it a try.

“dee’s enochian demons killing symbols” — As far as I’ve read of Dee, he never had any such symbol.  Medieval and Renaissance occult works don’t usually describe the killing of demons, usually only going so far as to say they can be bound but not killed.  The implication is that demons are immortal and unable to be wounded by mortal means.  However, there are some symbols that are related to Solomonic designs that can maim or kill demons, but that’s another topic entirely.

Esoteric Dishwashing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Burnt by the Stars, part 2: Stop Worrying and Love the Burn

Last time, I talked about the costs of magic.  It sucks, and it costs, and it will burn everything from your bank account to your soul itself, but magic is worth it.  Magic is the locked gate that keeps higher fulfillment and human realization from most of the world, and magic is the golden key that unlocks the mysteries to attaining them.  It may have a high price, but it has an even higher payoff that makes magic worth it.

Being a magician for only a few years now, but having the success and results of people who’re far older than I am (I credit having good teachers, good friends, and good allies abounding), I’ve learned a few things that helps in minimizing the burn, or at least in maintaining onself through being burned, so as to keep on keeping on.  This works for me, and I can only suggest it as part of a daily practice and regular maintenance in any magician’s life.  Even these steps may suck at times, but they help overall in minimizing the real burn going on from the real magic.

  1. Sanitize.  Keep your entire sphere clean and cleansed, from the basest material components to the highest intellectual and divine ones.  Air out your house, vacuum your carpets, sweep the floorboards, dust the fanblades, wash the car, light the candles, burn the camphor, sprinkle the holy water, clean all the things.  Asperge yourself with holy water or other cleansing agents frequently.  Do regular banishing and force balancing on yourself.  Recleanse and reconsecrate your tools, talismans, and ritual space every so often.  The more astral dirt you accrue by tracking it in from the higher spheres, or the more dust you bring in from inviting higher ups down into your house, the more confused and imbalanced things get down here and up there alike.  Keep yourself, your surroundings, your tools, and your mind clean, cleansed, and clear.
  2. Learn.  You can’t do anything if you don’t know how to do it.  Read any and all books you can get your hands on magic, philosophy, religion, spirituality, mathematics, literature, mythology, archaeology, linguistics, folk traditions, fiction ancient and new, science, engineering, history, economics, crafting, and more.  Take classes in whatever you have an interest in, whether it’s related to magic or not.  Talk with friends about their hobbies, experiences, stories, advice, warnings, hopes, dreams, fears, and desires.  Expanding your mind also expands the potential horizons you can explore, no matter how innocuous or trivial something may seem.  Don’t harbor any biases on what you read, study, or discuss; keep an open mind and admit anything with practical merit.  Go on roadtrips just to see new things.  Walk in big cities to see new faces and fashions.  Read blogs with political opinions opposite yours (but are well-written and reasoned).
  3. Protect.  If you’ve got one foot in the door to get into the mysteries, you also leave the door ajar for ethereal nasties to come at you.  Don’t let them.  Set up barriers, shields, or guards around your house.  Make protective charms, phylacteries, or enchanted trinkets to keep on yourself.  Find out what force you best resonate with and manipulate it to act as a shield around you.  Always keep an eye out for anything awry or ominous.  Create a few magical or ritual weapons to call on or call up when needed.  Create magical oils or incenses to keep out bad things and keep in good things.  Be mindful of barriers, boundaries, and circles that have already been erected.  Don’t go looking for bad stuff just to mess with it for shits and giggles.
  4. Breathe.  Breathing is the source of life down here, and aspiration shares the same root with “inspiriation” and “spirit”.  By knowing, feeling, and controlling our breath we control our voice level, our speech and diction, our bloodflow, our thought patterns, and ultimately ourselves who are tied into material reality just as we are into spiritual reality.  Breathing is the crux of meditation, and meditation is the crux of knowing yourself, which is the holiest injunction humanity has.  Breathing, just breathing, is magical in and of itself; it’s what animates us, ensouls us, and keeps us alive and living.  Breathing is the foundation of magic, and breathing must be known, understood, and integrated constantly with oneself in order to progress.
  5. Pray.  Humans, powerful as we are, were never meant to be alone in any sense of the word, nor can we make it to our goals on our own.  We need help, and prayer is how we obtain it.  Pray for guidance, for patience, for mercy, for compassion, for humility, for forgiveness, for health, for sight, for knowledge, for wisdom, for authority, for power, for light (and in that order).  Pray the Source, the gods, the angels, the celestials, the elementals, the dead, and each other for their blessings, advice, guidance, alignment, unity, and boons.  Pray to know how to use the blessings and boons given to us to the best of our abilities and for the best result for all of us.  Pray with praise, pray with emotion, pray with silence.  Pray with your entire body, soul, spirit and mind.  Pray every day, pray several times a day.  Pray.
  6. Stay healthy.  Humans are amphibious, both spiritual and physical.  Magic is largely focused on the spiritual, but it always needs to bring the spiritual and astral down into the material and physical.  Be sure you don’t neglect your body, because that’s the primary vehicle you have to work magic, and the one tool you’ll always have with you in the world.  Get enough sleep every night.  Go to bed at the same time every night.  Get enough to eat every day, but no more.  Eat the proper things in the proper amounts.  Shower, wash your hair, brush your hair, brush your teeth, floss your teeth, exfoliate, deodorize.  Get at least half an hour of light physical activity every day.  Expose yourself to the elements once every so often.  Go outside and enjoy the sunlight, moonlight, starlight, wind, mist, clouds, rain, rivers, oceans, dirt, trees, and animals.  “Healthy” has its roots in the same word as “whole”, and you need to stay whole physically in order to spiritually progress wholesomely.
  7. Get dirty.  Actually go out into the world and remind yourself that you’re still a physical, material being that has physical, material needs.  Everything in moderation, yes, but also including moderation: get sick, get jacked up, get fucked up, get high, get rich, get poor, get happy, get sad, get angry, get lonely, get loved.  We’re human beings to experience human life, after all, and without that experience we’ve ultimately failed at out birth’s purpose.  Getting ourselves meshed in human life, living in the world while not wholly of it, helps keep things in perspective and shows the power of the cleansing, cleaning, Light-bearing work we’re doing.  Plus, getting dirty helps us realize that even the dirt is pure and holy, that nothing is truly separate from the Source from which it came.
  8. Do it.  Complain however much you like or don’t complain at all; magic is going to suck no matter what.  That doesn’t change the fact that you’re a magician to do magic.  Do it.  Do it now.  There’s no other way, time, or place to do it.  Just do it.

The more you burn up, the more of you there is to burn until burning doesn’t need to happen anymore.  Don’t worry about what’s burnt up and gone.  Worry about what you have left to burn and what can still be purified and transmuted into the pure divine essence we really are and should be.

I’m prone to gingivitis, the inflammation of the gums generally from plaque.  Part of it’s my own dietary and hygienic habits, and part of it is my genetics and natural body’s processes.  That doesn’t mean I need to have gingivitis, much less that I should.  How do I keep my gums clean and free from the disease?  More toothbrushing, flossing daily, rinsing with mouthwash, and watching what and when I eat.  Does this all get easier with time?  Nope; it still takes as much time the hundredth day as it did the first, the same spots in my gums still need maintenance, and my food choices are still as obnoxious as ever.  Is the payoff worth it?  Totally; my teeth are whiter, my breath stinks less, my gums bleed less, and my mouth is generally healthier than before.  The payoff here is worth the cost of the daily maintenance, and if (heavens forbid) I ever have to go under for a root canal or other major dental operation, it’ll all go easier before, during, and after due to my lack of gingivitis and better oral care.

Magic works much the same way.  Dealing with the raw forces of creation and the stars is dangerous and you risk not being able to handle the influx of those energies without the proper maintenance.  Laying the foundation of daily practice to stabilize, sanctify, and secure your life goes a long way in dealing with the heavy machinery of the cosmos.  If you don’t have the rest of your house in order, don’t expect good times to result when you invite emissaries and presidents of foreign planes of existence in.  If you have your house and life in order and prepared in the proper way, you’ll still have to go through the paperwork and shopping and security drama, but the emissaries and presidents will be more pleased, more willing, and more able to help you who’ve helped yourself so much without them.  Daily or regular mainteance takes time and effort all in itself, and that’s not even where the real heart of magic lies, but it’s that very same regular maintenance that builds the tower to get to it.

Making a Phylactery

After weighing my options with the different phylacteries from the PGM, I decided to go ahead and put my skills and supplies to good use to make myself a phylactery.  It’s really a simple process, but being a ceremonial magician, I decided to throw in some consecrations for good measure.  Happily, the Key of Solomon is perfect for this, and the consecrations for the relevant materials were short and simple compared to some of the rituals in the texts.  Even though combining renaissance European magic techniques with classical Greco-Egyptian charms may seem odd, the skills and tech involved are so modular and adaptable that they can be used in tandem here neatly.

The materials I used were:

  • Clean paper
  • Ink (I used my recently-finished dragon’s blood ink, which writes out as a warm grey)
  • Dip pen (I used a cheap plastic pen shaft with bowl nib)
  • Incense (I used one stick each of frankincense, cinnamon, and myrrh)
  • Holy water
  • Container (I used a cheap but sturdy metal cylindrical tin, smaller than my palm)
  • Magical oil (I used my Fiery Wall of Protection oil)

The steps I used to create the phylactery were:

  1. Clean out and purify the container from dust, grime, and filth, physical and otherwise.
  2. Consecrate the ink and pen according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 14):

    [Thou shalt take a male gosling, from which thou shalt pluck the third feather of the right wing, and in plucking it thou shalt say:]

    Abray, Habyly, Samay, Tiedonay, Athamas, Seaver, Adonai, banish from this pen all deceit and error, so that it may be of virtue and efficacy to write all that I desire.  Amen.

    [After this thou shalt sharpen it with the quill knife of the art,] perfume it, sprinkle it, and place it aside in a silken cloth.

    Thou shalt have an inkstand made of earth or any convenient matter, and in the day and hour of Mercury thou shalt engrave thereon with the stylus of art these names: Yod He Vau He, Metatron, Iah Iah Iah, Qadosh, Elohim Tzabaoth; and in putting the ink therein thou shalt say:

    I exorcise thee, O creature of ink, by Anaireton, by Simulator, and by the name Adonai, and by the name of him through whom all things were made, that thou be unto me an aid and succor in all things which I wish to perform by thine aid.

  3. Consecrate the paper according to the second method according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 17), using the consecrated ink to draw the characters (this is the same method I used to consecrate the canvas tarp for my Circle of Art):

    …Take any parchment, and exorcise it; prepare a censer with perfumes; write upon the parchment the characters [below], hold it over the incense, and say:

    Be ye present to aid me, and may my operation be accomplished through you: Lazay, Salmay, Dalmay, Adonai, Anereton, Cedrion, Cripon, Prion, Anaireton, Elion, Octinomon, Zevanion, Alazaion, Zideon, Agla, On, Yod He Vau He, Artor, Dinotor, holy angels of God; be present and infuse virtue into this parchment, so that it may obtain such power through you that all names or characters thereon written may receive due power, and that all deceit and hindrance may depart therefrom, through God the Lord merciful and gracious, who liveth and reigneth through all the ages. Amen.

    Then shalt thou recite over the parchment these Psalms:

    • [Ps71=KJV72] Deus iudicium tuum Regi da (Give the king thy judgments, O God)
    • [Ps116=KJV117] Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him)
    • [Ps133=KJV134] Ecce nunc benedicite Dominum (Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye)
    • [Dan3.57] Benedicite Omnia Opera (O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye)

    Then say:

    I conjure thee, o parchment, by all the holy names, that thou obtainest efficacy and strength, and becomest exorcised and consecrated, so that none of the things which may he written upon thee shall be effaced from the Book of Truth.  Amen.

    Then sprinkle it, and keep it as before said.

  4. Bless the paper and prepare it for inscription according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 22), using the conscrated ink to write out the godnames:

    Whensoever in any operation it is necessary to write characters, and thou fearest that thou wilt fail, do this: write at the beginning the name Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, and at the end the name Ain Soph; between these names write what thou wishest, and if thou hast anything especial to do bear the said written names upon the wrapper in silk, and thou shalt say over them:

    Most wise and most high creator of all things, I pray thee for thy pity and mercy that thou mayest grant such virtue and power unto these holy names, that thou mayest keep these characters from all deceit and error, through thee, O most holy Adonai.  Amen.

  5. In a day and hour of Mercury or the Sun, while the Moon is waxing, write out the charm for the phylactery on the consecrated and prepared paper.  I used a more lengthy variant of PGM VII.311-316 with some personal flourishes and touch-ups.  Reading out aloud each word as its written may be suggested, but it may also be just a quirk of my own workings.
  6. Anoint the paper in a five-spot pattern (a spot of oil in each of the four corners and once in the center) with the oil.
  7. Fold or roll up, and store in the container.  Seal as desired.  Clean up as necessary.

Bam, protection charm get.  The consecration of ink, parchment, and paper took maybe half an hour, and was easily done.  Writing out the charm onto the paper was a little more difficult and took half an hour on its own, since my pen kept getting stuck with fibers and resin in the nib, but this may vary depending on how elaborate you want to get with the charm.  It’s just as easy to make a phylactery out of this alone as it is to combine it with other items or charms in a mojo bag or some such object.  Another alternative is to burn it into ash and using the ash to embed in some powder, chalk, vial, or part of a ring or talisman for when that level of compactness is desired; that’s not necessary here, but it’s another viable way of doing it.  I’m still deciding the best way of keeping this kind of talisman active or strong; regular “feeding” or charging isn’t a bad idea, especially under fiery/Martian/Solar forces given the Fiery Wall of Protection oil.  I’m still unclear on where to keep the thing, too; I see pros and cons to keep it on my person at all times, with me in my bag where I generally am, or in my sacred space/altar/home base.

I’ve noticed that, while “looking” at myself, my normal sphere/energy body/aura/astral form got a neat little upgrade from equipping this charm, so to speak.  (Warning: what I’m about to say annoys even me, since it may come off as fluffy or arcanely dramatic, but it’s the best way I can describe it.)  It’s got these single-row “scrolls” of Greek letters across my sphere,in a faint but noticeable red color, slowly rotating around my system on top of my normal shields.  I’m still unclear at their exact effect, but it does apparently seem tied to the phylactery, since they weren’t there before its creation and are there now.  My HGA approves of the result, noting that they won’t last forever without some upkeep, but that the charm is potent enough to serve in combination with the oil I used.

I might have to have a friend or two poke at the recent addition to my sphere and see what happens.  It might just be me going crazy and imagining it (when isn’t that the case when you’re dealing with this stuff?), but it’s certainly a nice thing to have done for myself, you know, “just in case”.  Besides, if the recent vitriol and “religiously tolerant” intolerance keeps getting stronger without a strong smackdown, this might just come in more use than I thought.

A Treasury of Phylacteries

No, not relics of martyrs, if that’s what you’re wondering, though that would be pretty nifty.

At a recent gem show, which had dealers of all kinds of cultures peddling all kinds of wares, shinies, and pretties, I picked up a nifty little container, a small metal canister that fits together snugly and near watertight with a few loops to hold a chain or strap.  It can hold a few small objects, like a charm bag, but since the stall I got it at stocked mostly Tibetan or northern Indian things, I figure it’s a scroll canister.  I’m making use of it by tying a strap through the loops to keep it shut and to affix it to my person when I’m, say, traveling or on an adventure (which happen tolerably enough for me), and filling it with a few protective scrolls of my own.  Traditionally, these are called phylacteries, protective talismans that ward physical and spiritual harm from their bearers.  A similar thing is still done by orthodox Jews using tefillin, boxes containing sections from the Torah.

I’m currently in the process of making a potent ink: it’s a dragon’s blood ink that uses frankincense and copal resins and Abramelin oil, consecrated according to the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 14), and mixed with a simple fluid condenser (chamomile extract and gold tincture).  It’s coming out a warm grey color, which I’m okay with, since I’m using the scrolls more for magical protection instead of artistic legibility (though that would also be nice).  This powerful ink will be used with a special pen and paper, also prepared according to the Key of Solomon, for the scrolls that I’m going to use for my phylactery.

As for the scrolls themselves, I’m considering at least two scrolls to go in this little phylactery tin: a copy of the Headless Rite written in Greek and anointed with Abramelin oil, and a phylactery text consisting of voces magicae and characteres from the PGM anointed with Fiery Wall of Protection oil.  The PGM has a huge selection of phylacteries available for the student, so I went through and got a list of some of the more complete ones from the index given in Betz’s edition.  Unless otherwise noted, they’re likely to be written down on paper or a lamen and kept with yourself for protection, though some are meant to be spoken aloud.  I’m using Romanized Greek text, so keep in mind that “TH” means theta, “Ē” means eta, and so forth.

  1. PGM IV.86-87, against demons or for one possessed by a demon: “HOMENOS OHK KOURIEL IAPHĒL, deliver (add the usual) EHENPEROOU BARBARCHAOUCHE”
  2. PGM VII.218-221, against daily fevers with shivering fits: “IAŌ SABAŌTH ADŌNAI AKRAMMACHAMAREI”, repeat subtracting the first letter of the previous line (AŌ SABAŌTH… then Ō SABAŌOTH…, then SABAŌTH…, etc.) followed by “ABRASAX”.
  3. PGM VII.311-316: “IAŌ SABAŌTH ADONAI ABLANATHANALBA AKRAMMACHAMAREI SESENGENBARPHARANGES PEEPHRAZAŌTH ZŌTH MENE BAINCHŌŌŌCH, protect (name) whom (mother) bore from any violence both by a frightful dream and by all demons of the air.  I conjure you by the great famous name ABRAHAM EMEINA AEOUBAŌTH BAITHŌ BES IA IABAŌTH AGRAMAKRAMARI PSINŌTH BER ŌŌN IASŌP BARPHARANGĒS PNOUTE (add the usual, whatever you wish).” Note that there’s a lacuna in the text: “IASŌP B…PNOUTE”.  I added in “BARPHARANGĒS” here because it felt proper.  Substitute with another word or string of words that start with Bēta as you might feel appropriate.
  4. PGM VII.317-318, to be said to the moon: “ACHTIŌPHIPH ERESCHIGAL NEBOUGOSOUALĒTH SATHŌTH SABAŌTH SABRŌTH (add the usual, whatever you wish).”  This is the basis for my full moon ritual, by the way.
  5. PGM VII.579-596, to protect against demons, phantasms, sickness, and suffering; to be written on gold or silver or hieratic papyrus: “KMĒPHIS CHPHYRIS IAEŌ IAŌ AEĒ IAŌ OŌ AIŌN IAEŌBAPHRENE MOUNOTHILARIKRIPHIAE Y EAIPHIRKIRALITHANYOMENERPHABŌEAI”, followed by a series of characteres and the injunction “Protect my body and the entire soul of me, (name) (add the usual)”.  Write in the center of an ouroboros itself lined with the words “TARĒOĒĒNOUPNIBRINIASĒNŌPHEIBRINOKYLĒAIA OBZTHBABAIMENE ŌĒOPIOBM MOĒAŌPHI”.
  6. PGM LXXI.1-8: “Great god in heaven revolving the world, the true god, IAŌ! Lord, ruler of all, ABLANATHANALBA, grant me this thing, grant me this favor: let me have the name of the great god in this phylactery, and protect me from every evil thing, protect me who is (name) whom (mother) bore, (mother) begot!”
  7. PGM LXXXIX.1-27, adapted from the original, possibly meant to be spoken aloud: “I, Abrasax, shall deliver!  Abrasax am I!  ABRASAX ABRASICHŌOU, help NN.! Get hold of and do away with what evil comes to (name)!  Whether it is a shivering fit, get hold of it!  Whether a phantom, get hold of it! Whether a daimon, get hold of it!  I Abrasax shall deliver.  Abrasax am !  ABRASAX ABRASICHŌOU, get hold of and do away with the plague and pest afflicting (name), that which comes to (name) on this very day!  Whatever it may be, do away with it!”

What about you?  Do you have any special protective charms that’d fit in this tradition, any written charms or scrolls you use?  In this case, something like the Benedictine Vade Retro or Medal of St. Benedict works well, too:

Crux Sanctum sit mihi lux / Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro Satana / Numquam suade mihi vana
Sunt malae quae libas / Ipse venena bibas

May the Holy Cross be my light / May not the dragon be my guide
Go back, Satan / Ne’er tempt me with vanities
What you offer is evil / You yourself drink the poisons