Dump the Rotten Soup: A Note on Gordon White

I don’t take pleasure in calling people out, but occasionally it has to be done, especially when the person being called out is actively engaging in harmful, hateful things.  Even when it’s proper and righteous to do so, some people find it hard, especially if the person they’re calling out has a large following or if there are political, financial, or safety reasons at play.  Everyone has their own concerns they need to take stock of, and for that reason, not everyone who deserves a call-out gets one.

A few days ago on Twitter, I did my part to call out Gordon White of Rune Soup, around which the Rune Soup Premium Membership (RSPM) is focused.  This was several years late by my reckoning (for which I apologize), but I saw an opportune moment to do so, and decided that something like this is better late than never.  To that end, if you read Gordon’s blog and see his (hilariously awkward and infantile attempts of) attacks at me, this is why; he’s lashing out because someone dared to speak up against him (although I’m far from the only one to do so).  He is not someone to take seriously, much less take classes from; he is a far and sad cry from being any sort of champion of chaos magic, instead descending to little more than anti-vax right-wing grifting.

For those who aren’t on Twitter or have made the choice to ignore it, indulge me if you will.  For recordkeeping’s sake, I’ll list the relevant Twitter threads I made below for you to read at your leisure:

  1. In which I call out Gordon White and Rune Soup for being involved in violent and anti-vax rhetoric while drumming up a personality cult around him
  2. In which I make fun of his subsequent (and hilariously clumsy) attack on me from a blog post he made in response to the above thread
  3. In which I call out his hypocrisy in trying to pillory me for my employment
  4. Ditto, this time him trying to lambast me for being involved in an ATR while employed as I am
  5. In which I share a screenshot of Gordon saying that the COVID vaccines “literally cause AIDS”
  6. In which I share a screenshot of Gordon sharing extremist, partisan, conspiracy “news sources” that engage in evangelical Christian end-of-the-world conspiracies (think Cain, Satan, nuclear war, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, etc.)
  7. In which I make fun of another attack on me for my employment and priesthood (see thread #4 above)

I encourage you all to read the posts above if you can; if nothing else, they should be fairly entertaining, and there’s plenty of commentary from myself and others in the many replies thereof.  I’ll be referring to them and screenshots shared there, since I’m going to go against my usual practice and instead refrain from linking at all to Gordon’s blog or Twitter feed (he doesn’t deserve the traffic from my site).  I may, however, link to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine records of his website, however, depending on the need.

Oh, and yeah, him saying that COVID vaccines cause AIDS thing is very much real.  Let’s just get that out of the way first while we’re here.  Below is a screenshot of something he said in his private RSPM groups, and it’s far from the only such thing he’s said (alongside the tired variants on how vaccines cause autism, etc.).  Those who’ve been following Rune Soup know that Gordon has said some awful stuff in general when it comes to medicine, healthcare, and the vulnerable, but he says so much worse stuff behind closed doors.  And, as an out gay man himself (and myself, I should note!), I feel like he should have at least some sort of shame about invoking the HIV/AIDS crisis in this horrific, self-serving way.

Anyway, let me share my original statement regarding Gordon White.  It built off of a quote-tweet by Marco Visconti, in which he asked “Are we all still ok with the fake permaculture shaman to keep on serving virulent anti-vaxxer rhetoric alongside his abysmal rune soup?”.  I know I wasn’t and hadn’t been for some time, so I decided to let my thoughts be known clearly:

The only place for Rune Soup, honestly, is down the drain. It’d been bad for a while, and I really don’t know what else to tell people except to stay away from Gordon White’s stuff at this point, given all the hubristic, hateful, and violent ranting coming from him and his blog.

I used to like him, I was a supporter of his stuff, I joined in on his classes, and it was great while it lasted, but…well, as it turned out, GW/RS is a fine example of spirituality mingling with conspiracy to make conspirituality—which is as much a con as anything else.

It’s not just me that’s picked up on this; I tuned out of GW/RS’s stuff a good while back after he gladly invited some unfortunate people on his show, but others’ve kept up and have better receipts.

The RT’d thread above has quite a few replies by people I know, like, and trust who have been more involved in RSPM than I ever was, or who have kept up even more on GW/RS and can talk more about the stuff they can trace both to and from his stuff. It’s worth a (sobering) read.

Far be it from me to speculate about GW’s private issues, but from my perspective, he’s become a stereotype of the addled fake guru-turned-cult-leader peddling bad predictions couched in feel-good nonsense. He’s far gone from the practice-oriented chaos magic champion of yore.

I know I have a lot of RSPM folk among my friends+followers, and I hope you know what you’re doing with open eyes and a clear mind if/when you continue to involve yourself with GW/RS. For me? I can’t condone the conspiratorially crazy or crasslessly crude.

I also note that GW/RS is developing more and more of an extreme right-wing readership. Between that and the constant edgelordy gnosticism (which already attracts an ugly underbelly of Internet-addled trolls), the ambiance of his audience is not one I’d want to associate with.

The past few years have done a number on a lot of people, that much is certain, and it’s given a lot of people the chance to gleefully take off their masks in more ways than one—and sometimes, there’s worse to deal with than just someone’s odious breath.

Twitter being what it is, something like this spread quickly.  Now, going into this, I knew that this was going to hit a lot of people in different ways, and I know that I have many people I consider friends or colleagues who are or were part of RSPM or who are otherwise fans of Gordon.  Although it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who pays attention to the things I say when it comes to politics or science, I know my own silence regarding Gordon specifically may have led some into some false sense of alliance between my and Gordon’s views, which I’ve since publicly rebuked and repudiated as being repulsive and vile.  By speaking out, I knew I was gonna make at least some people upset.

And, predictably (given how he’s reacted in the past to other people who’ve called him out along similar lines), Gordon wrote a post of his own on his website in a matter of hours attempting to pillory me.  A screenshot of the post in question:

A transcript:

I’m sure you all remember my pompous, Tory, cokehead little stalker still hopping mad that he isn’t -and never will be- me. From memory, Sam is some kind of federal IT bureaucrat so I guess he knows where his bread is buttered. Only a personality who could endure such a job could also be responsible for the unremittingly boring and lengthy blog posts that always fail to distinguish between what hermetic texts actually say versus the words they contain. The only magic in them is a cure for insomnia. All of this is to say I guess his dumb little take is not very surprising.

Anyway, this is what I have the distinct pleasure of dealing with while I go about my fake permaculturing and my fake shamaning. (Including bringing the work of Indigenous elders from around the world to public attention for the first time.) Apparently that’s ‘hate’, according to Sam. Apparently his grumpy little Tory cokehead friend’s repeated instances of misogyny and homophobia isn’t ‘hate’. (Fun bonus fact: Sam is gay.)

I find it comical how he described me and my blog in literally the exact opposite terms in his interview with me from September 2017, but so it goes, I suppose.  As for whatever insults he has for Marco, that’s a whole thing that’s its own debacle unto itself; Gordon likes to cry about being bullied while throwing insults like this, even to the point of making up identities for him to play his own brand of identity politics with, and it goes well beyond just Marco.  It all just blends into background noise after a point when you go through his blog archives.

The rest of his post isn’t worth the read; it’s just so much him whining about how misunderstood he is (despite his ample writing over the years that make abundantly clear what he believes) and how his followers should take the moral high road when it comes to haters (though I doubt they’d do well at that by following his example).  In this specific blurb riddled with ad-homimems, however, Gordon not only attempts to dox me (name, employer, and sexuality—none of which I’ve ever kept a secret, but it’s still a class act of him lashing out) but also makes a pathetic attempt at insulting me and my writing, to which I have two things to say:

  1. Sorry not sorry that my blog posts can get a bit long so that I can produce things of substance instead of mere content, or that I don’t just copy-paste other people’s half-read opinions and share them as some sort of deep truth of my own like some people do.
  2. Sorry not sorry that I use textual criticism because I care about getting things right for real implementation instead of following hucksters who call for harm against people doing meaningful work.

There’s also the “white savior” complex he brings into this, too; it shouldn’t be forgotten that Gordon has made a huge hubbub in recent years about his “shaman certification” that he received (after paying something around $10k for) from Alberto Villoldo, a Cuban psychologist who developed a form of neo-shamanism based on Peruvian and other South American practices, though not without controversy of his own regarding the (severe) impropriety of him doing so, which casts doubt on the very legitimacy of what Gordon inflates and reminds people of constantly.  Although, let’s be honest, it’s not like figuring out how legitimate such a “shamanic healing” practice would be given how Gordon himself talks about and markets it:

In addition to what he said about me on his blog, he also said a few unfortunate things about me on his Twitter, trying to shame me for my employment as a low-level software engineer for the United States federal government.  I’ve never kept this a secret, although I don’t bring up which specific agency beyond saying that it’s one of the calmer apolitical ones in existence.  I know what my job consists of and how it impacts people (and Gordon by his own admission doesn’t, I should note), but I don’t bring it up because nothing I say online or on this blog is ever said from the perspective of a federal employee.  To be sure, the United States as a whole has caused atrocious horrors the whole world over; I’d never deny that.  However, for Gordon (who has built so much of his blogging career on talking about elaborate non-systems and how so many things supposedly interconnect and interrelate to the point of outright unfounded conspiracy theories), there is no nuance here; I am paid by the government, and therefore I am among the worst of archons all unto myself.  Specifically, he now holds me to be responsible for “the most dangerous organisation on earth, that literally turns brown children to paste” and also “responsible for Latin America’s disadvantaged condition, as well as the death of about a million Latins”.  Sure, the US government is to blame for that, yet to impugn me as specifically responsible for this is just puerile, ungrounded, and unhinged finger-pointing on his end.  He also seems to take a special, sick joy in also attacking my initiation as a priest in La Regla de Ocha Lucumí (aka Santería, an Afro-Caribbean orisha religion) which he somehow finds ironic in this context, I guess, all the while woefully ignorant of its history and context. (At least I can trace my priesthood by name back to my forebears with others to attest to its legitimacy, something Gordon can’t with his “shamanic certification”.)

What he’s trying to do (though inexpertly) is shame me for my privilege in how I am so obviously and intimately tied up in the reckless destruction of human life across the world generally and Latin America specifically—all the while boasting about his own descent from British colonial administrators in the Pacific and using that to his lifelong advantage, working for global media companies and immersing himself in the active pushing of government-sanctioned/-directed propaganda to influence people the whole world over, and running in the same circles as actual royalty of colonialist empires and actual billionaires.  He says so right on his own website’s About page, and I swear by the gods above and below that I am not making this up (with the important and rather telling-on-oneself bits bolded by myself):

Australian by birth, Gordon White’s family has strong connections to the wider South Pacific thanks to his grandfather’s experience in colonial administration in Nauru and New Guinea. He spent much of his early years exploring and diving in Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.


After moving to London, he held senior data and analytics positions in global media companies, as well as starting a chaos magic blog and podcast called Rune Soup… which ultimately led to the publication of his first three books, The Chaos Protocols, Star.Ships: A Prehistory of the Spirits and Pieces of Eight.


Fun trivia about Gordon:

  • He has been in both the actual DeLorean from Back To The Future and the Batmobile from the original Adam West series.
  • He is distantly related to Sir Isaac Newton.
  • He accidentally ended up at the same party as Prince Harry.
  • He has lived on two volcanoes.
  • He has dived on a sunken city.
  • Sir Richard Branson once bought him a bottle of champagne.
  • He is obsessed with sharks.

I think it’s clear to say that Gordon White isn’t some sort of Joe Six-Pack, some sort of common man that disempowered people should relate to.  He is very much a product of the same old money and colonialist regimes that he instead tries to pillory me (and others!) for.  Rather than responsibly accounting for his own privilege, he instead builds his whole career on his privilege being a predicate for everything he’s done, up to and including buying his own farm (which he struggles with) to live out some sort of prepper’s dream to deal with his own midlife crisis.  Rather than making use of his privilege and his experience with the self-same archons that he developed his whole “archonology” theorycrafting about to actually help people, he’s more inclined to perpetuate and propagate those same tendencies and strengths to bend people around him to stoop to his insanity even more.

I could go on, but if you take a look at what I linked to above and Marco Visconti’s original tweet (and all the replies from the many other people to it), you’ll see so much more of this in tired abundance.  Between the non-ironic shares of “news articles” from extremist/conspiracy rags like Expose News or Rebel News, the calls for violence against healthcare workers, the piles of anti-vax rhetoric that he only ever doubles down on (and now seems to be making his whole brand), the extremely improper “medical advice” he gives for people to deal with the vaccine (including talking about turpentine enemas to extract toxins)…it’s not great.  But this is who he is; this is what he does.

While Gordon has definitely and publicly gone off the rails in the COVID-19 pandemic and how traumatized he was by not being able to travel so freely anymore (quelle horreur!), it’s not like his right-wing extremism is a new thing.  He’s shown tendencies towards New Right ideology in posts dating back at least to 2015, invoking the likes of Ernst Jünger for the sake of rebellion against multiculturalism.  Taking a page out of his own conspiracy/archonology playbook, if there’s one thing Gordon is good at, it’s using, twisting, and adapting language to suit his own self-serving needs—although anyone with a head on their shoulders and their eyes open can see clearly what it is he’s doing.  (The irony of him using Mark Twain’s quote in his recent posts of “it’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled” would be so satisfying if it weren’t so nauseating in this context.)

This blogpost of mine is not intended to be something like Fr. Pera’s documentation of the Nazi occultist Georgina Rose aka Da’at Darling; I’m not tracking all of the awful things Gordon has said or encouraged people to do over the years, as that’s a far greater endeavor than I have the time or energy for, especially when I’ve spent the past few years content with just ignoring him.  However, at this point, the harm he’s causing through his violent rhetoric (all the while couched in feel-good holistic woo and Ursula Le Guin quotes) is simply too much to keep silent on, and so I refuse to any longer.  This is why I spoke out several days ago on Twitter, and is why I’m speaking out now on my blog (which I hope, dear reader, hasn’t been “unremittingly boring” for you).  I simply share what I have at hand about why I’m saying these things, all to make this point: Gordon White is not someone to follow, learn from, or give one’s money to.  I am simply letting people know what he’s actually doing and saying behind his cultivated online presence.

A call-out like this is not going to make me many friends, or so I assume; I’ve already had some (albeit happily not many) people distance themselves from me, calling me an “unhinged tweet spree hate message spreader” or just simply “scum” (for real).  And, yanno what?  It’s honestly no skin off my nose for being called names for calling out someone who seems to want to start a cult around himself.  Unlike Gordon, I’m not trying to corner some market, cultivate some personality cult, or take advantage of people with an obvious grift that preys on people’s enflamed emotions and vulnerability with far-right propaganda-bot-fueled talking points during a global pandemic (and worse).  I’m just here doing my thing, and that’s all I care about; to that end, I just want to make sure that people are well-prepared with the knowledge they need regarding one of the bigger (and more harmful) names in the modern occult community today.  Hence, this blog post, which I hope will be the only one I ever have to write about him, since I’d like to get back to my habit of not having to think about him or reluctantly visit his website/Twitter when someone tells me about some new odious thing he wrote with my name on it.  Since I’ve solidly earned a place on his shitlist, I fully anticipate that he’ll continue ranting and whining about me with bungled attempts at defaming me or shaming me while ignoring the breathtaking hypocrisy or outright ignorance involved in him doing so; I don’t care.

While I don’t expect to deconvert anyone already stuck on Gordon’s bullshit (though hope springs eternal!), I do want to spread the awareness of his bullshit all the same, to let others know who have been picking up on some of these rancid smells that it’s not just them, to let people know that there are those willing to speak out against him despite his following, and to offer an explanation of why my name is coming out of his execrable mouth.  Despite his holier-than-thou railing against people with hate in their hearts, I’m not someone so full of hate like Gordon is in this; I am only (in the words of the Headless Rite) someone “who hates the fact that unjust deeds are done in the world”.  The Rune Soup really is rotten, and the sooner we dump it, the better off we’ll all be.

PS: I am uninterested in reading defenses of bloviating, conspiracy-addled, rage-spreading hucksters, despite what you might have learned from them or how good a friend they might be to you; they can defend and redeem themselves by changing their own apparent behavior and character. And yanno what? I’d love for these kinds of people to do just that! I’m not about playing a game of tit-for-tat to garner support or leverage social media engagement; I just want us all to do better. So please, if you’ve got something to share in support of Gordon or similar people, just save your breath and keystrokes, and instead let them show who they are by their own words and works.

On Repurposing Ritual Parts for New Practices

This PGM train won’t stop, at least, not yet.  I hope you’re not bored of this talk of the Greek Magical Papyri, dear reader, because there’s so many awesome things about it, not least for its historical value in understanding some of the origins and foundations of Western magical practice as we know it today and how their rediscovery continues to shape it in modern occulture, but because of all the wonderful techniques they contain.  And just think: what we have in Betz’s famous translation is still only a fraction of what’s still out there, both discovered and undiscovered, translated and untranslated.

So, I meant to have this post out shortly after the ritual writeup of the Royal Ring of Abrasax was put up, but then the last post happened where I also introduced it, so…whoopsie.  Anyway, this ritual, PGM XII.201—269, describes the consecration of a kind of ring of power, “useful for every magical operation and for success”, which it claims is constantly sought after by kings and other types of rulers.  In a sense, this particular ring can act as a general phylactery or protective charm against spirits in magical works and conjurations as well as a charm for success, victory, and fortune in all of one’s endeavors.  In some sense, it can be considered something resembling a conceptual forerunner of the Ring of Solomon known to later magicians; this isn’t to say that PGM XII.201—269 is an ancestor of the Ring of Solomon, but it indicates a transition of magical rings and how they evolved from simple empowerment and fortune charms into phylacteries and guarantors of magical success.  If you haven’t seen my write-up and analysis yet, it’s up under the Occult → Classical Hermetic Rituals menu.  Take a look!  It’s a fine example of a solid Graeco-Egyptian consecration ritual which can be seen as a kind of forerunner to later Hermetic and Solomonic ones.

The reason why I’ve been looking over this ritual is because Gordon White over at Rune Soup used this ritual as his (only) group exercise for his recent 2018 Q2 course on the PGM.  It’s an excellent course, as I’ve mentioned before, especially as it focuses less on the actual rituals present in the PGM and more about the background, context, development, and general methodology behind them.  Of course, it’s not like Gordon only wanted to just talk about them, but he wanted to get people up and running with them in a sensible way that involves some measure of rigor and spiritual connection.  For that purpose, Gordon set up a group exercise for those participating in the course to recite a portion of PGM XII.201—269 as a kind of semi-self-initiation before other PGM work.  As to how, specifically, Gordon accomplishes this, I recommend you head over to Rune Soup to check out the members section and go through his course material.  It’s worth the small cost of admission, I claim.  Just because the course is finished doesn’t mean you can’t perform the self-initiation ritual at any time you want or need, especially now that a current-connection has already been established in the same way by quite a number of other magicians.

Gordon explains his reasoning for adapting this ritual for this purpose at the end of the first module of the course.  Essentially, the author (or compiler) of these parts of the PGM texts was, in all likelihood, an actual Egyptian initiated priest who moonlighted as a magician-for-hire.  Because of his initiated status, he had access and license to work with the gods and spirits found in the PGM in such a way that we never can at this point, or at least, not in the same way; those initiations and lineages are long since vanished, and there’s no way to achieve the exact same status as our original author friend; as I’ve discussed before, lineage can make a world of difference when it comes to starting out at the same point of power based on initiation and lineage or the lack thereof.  To that end, Gordon set up a specially-modified form of PGM XII.201—269 as a sort of quick self-initiation into the powers and currents of the PGM to make our future PGM work that much more effective, serving as an introduction to the PGM powers.  Without performing such a self-initiation, it’s possible that we can get some results out of doing PGM work, but not necessarily to the same extent without a formal introduction, for which Gordon’s modified PGM XII.201—269 serves decently enough for any beginner to PGM-style magic.  Plus, it benefits from the fact that it’s a comparatively simple ritual (at least in Gordon’s modified form) without onerous barbarous names of power, which can be terrifying for those new to the PGM.

The Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual is not a particularly complex or difficult ritual to do; sure, there’s a bit of animal sacrifice involved, but that’s nothing that we can’t work with, either by actually bleeding the required birds or by making a sincere and appropriate substitution (I go over one such method in my write-up for those who are unable or unwilling to perform such a sacrifice, and for more information, check out my last post).  The main hymn of it is rather beautiful, but it also struck me as familiar, and I wasn’t entirely sure why that was the case.  It was some of the footnotes from Betz that tipped me off; part of the hymn was annotated with a reference to PGM XIII.734—1077, which titles itself the Tenth Book of Moses, from which the Heptagram Rite comes (along with its smaller variant the Calling of the Sevenths, aka Heptasphere).  The preliminary invocation of the Heptagram Rite (at least in its Major form that I’ve written about) is basically the entirety of the main hymn of the Royal Ring of Abrasax, just fleshed out with more barbarous names of power, including close variants of the same barbarous name that the Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual centers around.  This was fantastic to discover on its own, that these two PGM sections from different papyri could be tied together in this way, but there was another part to discover; the end of the Tenth Book of Moses (after the Heptagram Rite is discussed) introduces a consecration for a particular kind of phylactery that, itself, bears many parallels to the consecration ritual of the Royal Ring of Abrasax.  So, not only do we have a near-identical prayer in these two PGM sections, but we even have a rough match of a consecration for a charm of power and protection!  Finding two such similar rituals in close proximity within the same PGM would be one thing (a la the Eighth Book of Moses from PGM XIII.1—343, 343—646, and 646—734), but this is an even more important realization.  It either indicates that both papyri were compiled or written by the same author, or that two separate authors had the same source for almost the same procedures; I’m not sure which is more likely, but both are exciting things.

However, the parallel parts between PGM XII.201—269 and PGM XIII.734—1077 are separated by quite a lot of content, and what’s present in one is not used in the same way as it’s used in the other.  The near-identical hymn that’s present in both is used for two radically different rituals: in PGM XII.201—269, it’s used as part of a consecration of a charm, and in PGM XIII.734—1077, it’s used as part of (what is essentially) a theurgic ritual.  It’s an interesting example of using the same ritual act or performance for different ends, especially because it’s in the source text of the PGM which we all admire and love.  What this indicates to me is that there’s an implicit acknowledgment that certain things can be used in different ways, a kind of magical upcycling or repurposing of techniques.  This isn’t particularly uncommon; after all, consider the PGM-style framing rite I put out a few days ago.  The vast majority of that is slapped together from a variety of PGM sources, picking and choosing this and that to come up with a more-or-less unified whole.  Heck, one of the sources I picked some techniques from, PGM IV.930—1114 (the Conjuration of Light under Darkness ritual) itself has the markers of being slapped together from two different rituals for different purposes brought into a more-or-less unified whole.  What I did to come up with my framing rite may not sit well with PGM-focused grimoire purists, but it’s solidly within the same tradition and following the same meta-methodology that’s present within the PGM itself.

Consider our modern use of PGM V.96—172, the Headless Rite.  Originally, it was intended as a simple exorcism, but thanks to the innovations of Aleister Crowley, it was adapted into a theurgic self-empowerment and self-elevation ritual, and the way he did it allows for further customizations to be made.  Where Crowley changed “deliver NN. from the demon that restrains him” to “hear me and make all spirits subject unto me” (a reuse of one of the last lines of the ritual), other adaptations can be made to the Headless Rite that can turn it from an exorcism ritual into a banishing, empowering, or theurgic ritual:

  • Exorcism: “Deliver NN. from the demon that restrains him!”
    • Here, NN. is the name of the person to be exorcised.
    • This is the original “rubric” as used in the PGM version of the text, since this was originally intended as an exorcism ritual.
  • Banishing: “Deliver me, NN., from any and all demons, death, defilement, illness, impurity, infirmity, pain, plague, or poison that restrains me!”
    • Here, NN. is your own name.
  • Empowering: “Subject to me all spirits so that every spirit whether heavenly or ethereal, upon the earth or under the earth, on dry land or in the water, of whirling air or rushing fire, and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient to me!”
    • This is the version used in Liber Samekh, which is just a more fleshed-out version of the charge used for donning the coronet, as discussed below.
  • K&CHGA: “Send to me my neverborn friend and guardian, my supernatural assistant, my agathodaimon, my holy guardian angel!  Send to me the spirit NN. whose duty it is to guide, lead, assist, and protect me through this and all lives!”
    • Here, NN. in this case refers to the name of the guardian angel, if known.  Otherwise, omit the use of a name entirely and refer to the guardian angel generally.

Consider also our modern use of the Orphic Hymns, especially those for the planets.  One of my good colleagues suggests that the original use of the Orphic Hymns were that they were to all be sung in succession as a kind of diagnostic theurgic rite so as to call out specific divinities that might be affecting someone at a given time, and not necessarily that individual hymns were to be used on their own.  Yet, magicians have been using them for centuries as individual prayers for individual entities outside their original contexts; consider what Cornelius Agrippa has to say about them in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (book I, chapter 71):

Besides, with the divers sorts of the names of the Stars, they command us to call upon them by the names of the Intelligencies, ruling over the Stars themselves, of which we shall speak more at large in their proper place. They that desire further examples of these, let them search into the hymns of Orpheus, then which nothing is more efficatious in naturall Magick, if they together with their circumstances, which wise men know, be used according to a due harmony, with all attention.

After all, most people in the modern Hermetic/astrological magic scene (especially those who work outside the Golden Dawn and similar systems) are familiar with the use of the Orphic Hymns for the planets and use them in their rituals, whether as a kind of daily adoration of the ruling planet of the day or as part of a chant for the consecration of a planetary talisman during an election of that planet or for other purposes.  For instance, as a gesture of worship to Hermēs, I recite his Orphic Hymn whenever I enter a post office, no matter the day or time; this is certainly a modern adaptation of the use of such a prayer, and one that wouldn’t fit into any classical scheme except the broadest notions of “general worship”, but it goes to show that bits and pieces of ritual and religious texts can be used in ways that may not have been anticipated by their original authors, yet work well all the same for their new purpose.

In a similar vein, consider the use of the Psalms of the Old Testament.  These were originally devised as songs for worship, celebration, and religious meditation, yet parts of them have been in use in a variety of religious rituals and ceremonies; consider the Asperges Me, a few lines of Psalm 51 that’s recited in some Catholic Masses as well as in folk ceremonies of purification.  Heck, consider the wide and deep practice of psalm-based magic, where particular psalms are recited, either on their own or accompanying other ritual acts such as dressing and lighting candles.  A good example of a similar type of Old Testament-based magic is that of Draja Mickaharic’s Magical Spells of the Minor Prophets, where Mickaharic describes how to use individual verses of the minor prophetical books from the Old Testament for a variety of magical ends, including one chapter where every verse from an entire book can be used magically.  This is definitely magical repurposing on a whole new level, and yet is so firmly grounded and founded in classical magical meta-methodology that it’s hard to see how deep these foundations have been dug.

The trick when repurposing bits and pieces of extant ritual and texts, as always, is to be smart about it.  Cherry-picking without care or caution can get you into a lot of trouble real quickly, because not all individual parts of rituals can be extracted or extrapolated for different use.  For instance, the Conjuration of Light under Darkness is absolutely a conjuration ritual, combined from a lamp divination spell and a theophanic ritual.  However, at a large scale, the Conjuration as a whole cannot be adapted to the conjuration of other entities generally, like how the Trithemian rite of conjuration I use can be used for angels, natal genii, genii loci, and so forth with the right adaptations; instead, it’s pretty specifically geared to the conjuration and communion of one entity.  However, particular parts of this ritual may be used outside of it; I chose the Light-Retaining Charm and the Dismissal of Light, specifically, which kind of come as a set, since if you use one, you need the other.  My whole dismissal prayer I use is cobbled together from two different PGM sources (PGM I.262—347 and PGM VII.930—1114) which work well when mixed together due to overlap of particular phrases, and the fact that they do the same thing.

The compatibility and extensibility of particular techniques, and at what level and for what purpose, is important to consider when trying to pick and pull things together.  This can be difficult with PGM stuff, given the use of barbarous names of power; in general, we don’t know what they mean, and so we don’t know if we’re calling on something generally by their use in a given situation or if we’re calling on something particularly specific for a specific function.  Moreover, we don’t know whether what we’re calling is compatible only with its original context and not with the repurposed one we’re putting it to.  What makes things dicey is that we can’t just omit the barbarous names of power, either; consider Zoroaster’s injunction #155 from the Chaldaean Oracles, “change not the barbarous Names of Evocation for-there are sacred Names in every language which are given by God, having in the Sacred Rites a Power Ineffable”.  The words have power, which is why we say them; to remove the words is to remove the power, and to change the words is to change the power.  Better to use them than not, where present, unless you know precisely what you’re doing and how to get around it.  That’s why one of the reasons it took me so long to cobble together a PGM-style framing rite from off-the-shelf PGM pieces, because I needed to make sure that they were either naturally general enough to be used, or could safely be made general while still being effective as well as compatible with the other parts I was using.

The reuse of the hymn to the Agathos Daimōn between the Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual and the Major Heptagram Rite presents us with a unique opportunity, then, to see how one particular magical technique can be repurposed and even reworded; note that the Royal Ring of Abrasax version of the hymn contains far fewer barbarous names, indicating that—perhaps—not all of those are needed here for this purpose, or their use would have been more appropriate to a theurgic ritual rather than a consecration ritual, or that their use was not needed at all for the sake of praising and honoring the Agathos Daimōn.  Noting how the same prayer can be used in different rituals, it’s also easy (and, I’d argue, fruitful) to think how the prayer can be used in other contexts, such as in a daily prayer routine alongside other PGM-derived prayers like PGM IV.1115—1167 (the Hymn of the Hidden Stele, which has no purpose stated either as a header or as part of this section of the PGM) or PGM IV.1167—1226 (the Stele of Aiōn, which works as both a powerful prayer generally as well as being “useful for all things; it even delivers from death”).

When going about cobbling together from parts of other rituals (PGM or otherwise), I would recommend to a few questions to bear in mind to make sure you’re on the right track:

  1. Have you studied or, even better, performed the original ritual you’re choosing parts from to get an intimate understanding of what it does, both as a collection of ritual parts and as a unified whole?
  2. What is the nature of the original rituals, both as a whole and as parts, and how does it compare with the goal of the new ritual, both as a whole and as parts?
  3. What entities are being called upon in the original ritual, and do they conflict with other entities from other original rituals?
  4. Does the part of the original ritual being chosen require something else to be done with it, or can it stand alone on its own?
  5. Can the part being chosen from the original ritual be picked up and used as it is, or does it require modifications to wording or performance?
  6. Does the original ritual use barbarous or divine names of power?  Does the intent behind them in the context of the original ritual work for a different use?
  7. Can the charge or purpose of the part being chosen from the original ritual be modified or generalized while still keeping true to the power of the original ritual?
  8. Is taking a part from an original ritual really needed?  Is that part serving an actual use or function within the cosmological and methodological understanding of the new ritual?
  9. Is a new ritual being put together from parts of original rituals necessary, or will an original ritual suffice, either with or without modifications to charges, commands, or ritual implements?

There is value in knowing and understanding the dozens, hundreds of rituals in the PGM, or in any system or tradition or collection of magical works, and accomplished magicians can pull any ritual they need from their handbooks or private collections to accomplish anything they need or want.  However, there is at least as much value in being able to understand the parts of those same rituals, know what works, know what can be extended or abridged or adapted, and being able to whip something up (big or small) from parts off the shelf that’s at least as effective because they know how to plug certain ritual actions into each other.  The trick is being smart about it and knowing what can—and should—plug into what.

An upcoming geomancy course by the splendid Dr Al Cummins!

What with all the recent influx of traffic from my hilarious geomantic chat with the wonderful Gordon White yesterday on Rune Soup, I figured that this is as good a time as any to mention that there’s a series of online geomancy courses coming up in October this year by Dr Al Cummins hosted by those dastardly handsome purveyors of materia and magic Wolf & Goat.  I name-dropped Al in the podcast yesterday, but let me say a bit more about him in case you’re woefully unfamiliar.

Dr Al, as you might know, is one of the most excellent academic-minded magicians of our time; he literally has a PhD in English magic, necromancy, and history, and has quite a bit more than a fancy bit of paper to back himself up with.  Amongst many other things, he’s also one of the foremost geomancers I can think of, and I can say without hesitation that he’s one of the few to legitimately give me a hard run for my money.  In addition to co-hosting Radio Free Golgotha, he’s also the author and publisher of several modern works on various topics in the occult, ranging from astrology to Cypriana and everything in-between.  If I am, as Gordon says, “luminously bright”, then Al is brilliantly stellar.  Plus, he has that luxuriously dulcet Commonwealth accent which just makes you feel like you’re being cherished and educated at a proper university; there’s nothing bad about any of this.

If you’re interested in signing up for the good doctor’s geomancy courses, time is running out!  You can either choose the two-part Sunday classes (three hours each on October 1 and 8) or the four-part Tuesday classes (1.5 hours each on October 3, 10, 17, and 24); either way, the cost is the same (US$80) and the same information will be given in both; this course will also pave the way for future, more advanced courses on deeper geomantic technique and sorcery.  Spots are limited, so if you’re interested, hop on soon!  For more information, go to the Wolf & Goat page on the class, and just follow the instructions.  Personally speaking, I’ve signed up for the Sunday classes already, and I’m excited to hear the good doctor speak on all these topics geomantical.

I was on a podcast!

Yanno how fleeting and excellent college hookups are?  That’s basically what it was like this week with the wonderfully crazy Gordon White over at Rune Soup.  (UPDATE 2022-11-11: I no longer associate with this man due to his toxic and noxious views that actively spread harm and violence in the online occult community.  I leave this post up as record of my past involvement with him.)

First off, I am incensed and appalled at the man because, in my quest to learn more about the Arbatel and similar works, I finally signed up to take his lectures on the history, development, and use of grimoires (which come bundled with the rest of his premium membership stuff, like forums, etc.).  For one, there’s apparently an old, early proto-grimoire called the Kyranides which is a handbook of various magical things you can do with herbs, stones, animals, and whatnot…all categorized by the Greek alphabet.  I had never even heard of this before, despite that it apparently was the most dangerous book to own for a solid 500 years or so in Europe; this gives my Mathesis stuff a whole new realm of data to work and play with, and I’m utterly fuming I hadn’t come across it yet.  Second, like, dude.  It’s Gordon.  He’s good, that should come as no surprise, but I didn’t expect this all to be that good.  This is quite literally a “shut up and take my money” kind of moment for me.


So he and I were BSing (as we are wont to do) on Twitter, and he asked me to talk on his podcast.  So I did, and the results can be found over at his blog (see YouTube here).  An excellent time to be had by all, wherein we talk about geomancy, PGM, weird family stuff, and how awful people are generally; do give it a listen.