Temple Room Efficiency and Efficacy

Finally, I have a trash can in my temple room.  The joy and relief of this simple thing cannot be understated.

In recent weeks, I’ve been getting myself back up and working in the temple again.  It’s a slow build-up, but given the evidence of fancily over-done prettily-filtered photos of shrines and works I’ve put on social media lately, I’m building up for sure, getting reacquainted with the sacred and barbarous names of power I said in…god, what seems like another lifetime, pouring out libations of wine and oil, surrounding myself with clouds and tendrils of frankincense and myrrh and benzoin.  With each new act I perform in the temple, old doors I closed once a while back are opened up again, some slowly inch by inch and others flying wide open at the merest touch, giving me both reminders of things I once did and ideas for things that can yet be done.

And yet, I have to admit, the feel is different now.  Not just because of all the stuff that went on in the meanwhile between when I was templing it up every day, but also because the setting has changed.  I have a much larger, more proper space for temple work in a newer house than where I was living before, which is pleasant, but it hadn’t yet strongly sunk in how different the procedures have to change along with it.  I’m no longer across the hallway from the bathroom for quick water access and feet away from the kitchen, but in a basement room underneath the house.  I no longer have a window facing a field where I can just dump old offerings out from; in fact, I have no windows in the basement room at all.  Though I may have all the constituent parts of my temple supplies and shrines there, it necessitates a completely different system.

And one of the most important things I lacked—until very recently, at least—was a trashcan.  All I had was a simple bag on the floor by the door, which looked tacky and felt off to me, and wasn’t at all convenient for all the cleanup I was doing and constant maintenance of cleaning off surfaces, emptying old tealight tins, throwing away soaked cottonballs or paper towels, or the like.  I didn’t need a trashcan in my temple room for spiritual purposes in and of itself (although there are mysteries in the garbage, to be fair!), but I needed one so I could keep up my spiritual purposes throughout the rest of the temple room.  Being able to just walk a few steps over to dump incense ash or tealight tins or paper towels instead of looking around wondering where to put my debris without having to leave the temple space is a relief I have a hard time putting into words.

For similar reasons, I also bought myself a large pitchers.  It’s nothing fancy, just a simple 2L plastic pitcher like one might bring on a picnic, for the purpose of bringing water down.  From making khernips to washing out bowls to offering glasses of water to spirits, or having something to dump old amounts of water in for easy carrying upstairs to the sink, a pitcher was also something I wasn’t aware I needed so badly.  There were too many times I was caught off-guard and needed to head back upstairs to get to the faucet when everything else was ready to go, but a simple tool like this takes so much of a mental burden off my mind.

Having or running a temple, whether it’s a whole room or a single corner of a bookshelf, is more than just having a bunch of statues and cups established so nicely on shrines and altars, with candles lit and incense filling the airs.  There’s so much more to running a temple that necessitates constant labor and upkeep beyond spiritual obligations.  From organizing and reorganizing shrines, which involves making sure the surfaces and areas for them are physically and spiritually clean, to organizing and replenishing supplies in an orderly, clean, efficient way, there’s labor to maintaining a spiritual practice, both physical and mental.  The physical labor comes in in just keeping things clean, refreshed, and able to be used, and the mental comes in for knowing how to organize, structure, and arrange everything so that nothing, neither schedules nor shrine placement nor sacred substances, conflict with each other.

When you do have your own sacred space, whether it’s a part of a room, a whole room, or more than one room, it’s good to keep your supplies organized and have the right supplies and tools you need, and you have the access to the things you need as well.  Consider the following questions for your own temple space, and see if you can make any refinements based on a few requirements:

  • What is the most convenient way to get water?
  • What is the most convenient way to dispose of liquid waste?
  • What is the most convenient way to dispose of solid non-perishable waste (i.e. candle remains, paper towels, etc.)?
  • What is the most convenient way to dispose of solid perishable waste (i.e. food)?
  • Where will you store generic supplies (candles, incenses, washes, waters, cleaning supplies, etc.)?
  • Where will you store tools when not in use?
  • Where can you sit, kneel, lie down, stand, move around, or have other people do the same in the temple space?
  • Where can others sit or otherwise wait when they’re waiting on being called into the temple space?
  • Will parts of shrines be used as storage, at least for the things relevant for those shrines?
  • How will you clean the temple space as needed?

Besides that, there are a few things I’d recommend to have on-hand, preferably in some sort of storage in the temple space, for any occasion:

  • Paper or cloth towels
  • All-purpose cleaner (dilute vinegar or ammonia works perfectly)
  • Trash can and bags
  • Sink and faucet, or a pitcher for easy carrying of fluids to and from the temple
  • Pen and paper
  • Lighters or matches
  • Chair
  • Extra small tabletop or small surface

I could go on about also having things like a bottle of this or that alcohol, a bag of this or that incense, and so forth, but these are all really and incredibly tradition- and practice-specific.  On the other hand, the stuff listed above is all-purpose for anyone and everyone, regardless of how you’re working, so long as you are.  It’s hard to do any Work if you can’t actually work, and we call it “work” for a reason.  Some people treat their temples like studies, but you don’t have to go that far; so long as you’re ready for tackling any of the mundane stuff that might happen, including your own forgetfulness or an accidental spill, you’ll be ready for starting the Work as well as keeping the Work moving once you start.

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.