Search Term Shoot Back, September 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 September 2015.

“what are the corresponding planet of each mansion of the moon” — In the system I learned it (I’m unsure if there are others), there are 28 lunar mansions that cover the 360° of the Zodiac.  The first lunar mansion starts at 0° Aries, and is given to the Sun.  From there, the lunar mansions are given to the planets in the weekday order: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.  Since there are 28 mansions and 7 planets, this cycle repeats four times, so that the Sun begins at the same zodiacal position that the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) do.

Planetary attributions of the Lunar Mansions

“the seven days conjuration” — A conjuration done over seven days, a period where you do seven conjurations in seven days, what?  Be a little more specific.  There are works like Pietro d’Abano’s Heptameron, literally meaning “a period of seven days”, referring to the planetary conjurations one can best perform on each of the seven days of the week; we find a similar text in the Munich Manual.  Alternatively, you could do the usual conjuration ritual, such as Trithemius’ rite, and conjure each of the seven planetary angels on your own across the seven days of the week; this is the basis for Fr. Rufus Opus’ Seven Spheres book, and his occasional project Seven Spheres in Seven Days.  It can get a little rough, especially with a crazy mundane schedule, but it’s worth it.

“which month,day and hour is the spirit of jupiter” — It…this doesn’t, I can’t.  Unless you’re talking about a particular zeitgeist, the spirit of Jupiter abides as long as the planet and its planetary sphere does, so…yeah.  The spirit of Jupiter can always be contacted regardless of the time, but there are some times that are better than others, and for this we use the system of planetary days and hours.  For instance, the planetary day of Jupiter is Thursday, and there are planetary hours of Jupiter scattered regularly throughout the week, so if you can get something set up on a planetary day and hour of Jupiter, it’ll be all the better.  As for months, this gets a little less regular.  Our system of months tracks the procession of the Sun through the Zodiac, more or less, but we don’t care about the Sun as much as we care about Jupiter, so we’d like to know when Jupiter is particularly strong in the Zodiac.  This can get into a whole talk about electional astrology, which is beyond the scope of this entry, but suffice it to say that you should check an ephemeris and read up on William Lilly’s books to figure out when Jupiter itself will be powerful.

“can you give back eleke” — First off, I don’t know why I keep getting hits on Santeria stuff on this blog, as it’s hardly ever germane to the usual stuff that goes on.  But…so, from what I gather, receiving your elekes is a ritual available to anyone with a godparent in Santeria, and is one of the important steps one takes in the process of initiation into the priesthood.  These are like your formal introductions to the orisha of those elekes, and…I have a hard time understanding why you’d want to give them back.  They’re yours, and yours alone.  Giving them back or intentionally losing them seems, to my mind, like a massive slap in the face to the orisha to whom you’ve been introduced.  If you didn’t want elekes, unless you were only a child without agency when you received them, then you shouldn’t have gone through the ritual to get them, but…I mean, hey, it’s your life.  They won’t interfere with anything, but if you don’t even want that much, go ahead.

“hermeticism homosexuality” — Bear in mind that the idea of homosexuality (yes, the mere concept of it) is recent, dating back only to the 1800s.  There is nothing ancient about homosexuality as a concept, and while we may read homosexuality into older works or storied relationships, it is folly to think that ancient peoples may have thought of themselves as inherently preferring one sex/gender to the other.  Sexuality was something that one did, not what one was (much like the guys who claim straightness but keep hooking up with dudes on Craigslist, no homo).  As a philosophy or branch of occult fields, there is nothing prohibiting or encouraging homosexuality in Hermeticism; depending on the context, homosexuality can be as much a hindrance or a help as much as heterosexuality is, and both same-gender sex as well as different-gender sex have their place.  Are they interchangeable?  I’m not convinced one way or the other on that, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t necessarily be, even though they may have different mechanics physically and spiritually.

“hermetic laws on gender and transgender people” — Like with the above search term, there’s no real connection or law that connects the occult philosophy of Hermeticism to things like gender, especially modern notions of gender that go beyond the simple gender binary that has stuck around humanity for thousands of years.  And no, although the Kybalion talks about the “laws of polarity” or gender or whatnot, that shoddy text is distinctly not Hermetic, and should not be considered as such for this topic.  For everything I’ve seen that matters in Hermetic magic, what gender you identify as does not matter, nor does the sex your body has.  If a specific item or body part is called for from a particular sex of a human, animal, or plant, I think it’s better to use that particular sex rather than think that the sexes are completely interchangeable; just as straight sex and gay sex have different powers, so too (as I see it) do male and female bodies.  Still, from the perspective of who can or can’t do magic, gender has no role to play in it.

“mercury as a cock with a human head” — Usually, in the Mediterranean, we find humanoid bodies with animal heads, like those of Egypt.  The Greeks tended to frown on these zoocephalic gods, preferring their strictly anthrophomorphic gods like Apollo or Serapis.  However, even with some of the more bizarre gods, like the human-torsoed cock-headed snake-legged Abrasax, we tend to find that the body is human and the head is animalian.  I know of no representation of a rooster with a human head as a representation of Mercury or Hermes, but perhaps you mean a phallus?  In which case, the word you’re thinking of is “herm“.

“massive cock painting” — I prefer photographs, myself, and I prefer GIFs more than those.  There’s a whole subreddit for that, too, you know!  I’d link to it, except that I’m writing this post at work, and….yeah.

“fuck a golem jod he vau he” — Please don’t fuck a golem.  The only way to turn a golem off is to kill it, at which point you turn sexy-divine lithokinesis into necrogeophilia, and that gets really weird.

“is using corse salt for protection godly or not?” — Well, you won’t find circles of salt described in the Bible, to be sure, but then, neither will you find lots of what the Catholic Church does, either.  That said, the Church uses salt in its consecration of holy water, as there’s some virtue in salt that helps to sanctify or cleanse stuff spiritually.  Plus, it has lots of use dating back hundreds of years, if not millennia, as a means of protection from spiritual harm.  It’s up to you to judge how godly that may be, but I’m on the side that it’s quite alright to do so.

“what happens if i summon spirits good” — You did it!  You summoned a spirit.  Congratulations!  Now, I hope you thought this part out, but…why did you summon a spirit?  To what end?  Anyone can pick up a phone and call a number; what’re you going to talk about?  What will you ask for?  That’s the real part of summoning that nobody seems to think about ahead of time, and the whole point of the act.  Why bother establishing contact with a spirit if you have nothing to talk about?

“symbols on solomons wand” — In book II, chapter 8 of the Key of Solomon, we find described the method to create the Wand and Staff, which involves inscribing the symbols from the Key onto the wand in the day and hour of Mercury.  Joseph Peterson on his Esoteric Archives gives a lot of Hermetic wand lore, and in his notes on the Key of Solomon, he believes that the symbols from the Key are nothing more than corrupted Hebrew for “AGLA + ON + TETRAGRAMMATON”, the same names used on the wand in Trithemius’ ritual of conjuration.  I used both the Solomonic symbols and the Trithemian names on my own personal Wand of Art, and while I’m not entirely convinced that they’re supposed to be the same thing, they do have similar feels to their power.

Ebony Wand Design

“bath soap by geomancy figure spell” — While geomancy and magic get along great, I’m less sure about things like herbs and physical supplies used with the geomantic figures; the most I’ve seen geomantic figures used in magic is by turning the figures into a sigil that can be used to augment other works.  However, by using the elemental, planetary, and zodiacal attributions to the geomantic figures, we can get a reasonably good idea of the herbs and materials needed to make a soap or wash for each figure, such that if we wanted to be empowered by the figure of Puer, we’d make a soap using warming, spicy, woody, Martian herbs and inscribe the figure or a sigil of the figure into the soap before using it in the shower.  I suppose it could be done reasonably well this way.

“names of all seven archangels including rose” — I’m not sure what set of archangels includes the name “Rose”, unless you’re a diehard Whovian who has a special place in their cosmology for the 10th Doctor’s companion.  For me, the seven archangels of the Orthodox tradition are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Barachiel, Jehudiel, and Sealtiel.

“items to put on a sagiterian prayer alter” — Please note that you put things on an altar, but change them when you alter them.  This misspelling never fails to get on my nerves.  As to the actual search term, the idea of setting up an altar or shrine to a constellation is…unusual, though not entirely out of reason.  Normally, when worship of celestial bodies is called for, it’s directed to the seven planets, hardly ever to the fixed stars, and much less any particular constellation of the Zodiac (notable exceptions being stars like the Behenian stars, the Pleiades, and so forth).  I suppose, if you wanted to set up a particular shrine to honor the constellation and god of Sagittarius in a standard modern Western fashion, you could use colors associated with the qabbalistic path of Samekh (= Temperance = Sagittarius), which are blue, yellow, green, and dark vivid blue; Jupiterian symbols and effects, such as a scepter, a battle-crown, bay and palm leaves, and so forth; symbols that relate directly to the sign, such as statues of centaurs and bows and arrows, and things that relate to the goddess Artemis; etc.  Setting it up facing the north-north west would be appropriate, or setting it up to face the east and working with it when the sign Sagittarius rises.  Making offerings in sets of 6 is appropriate, as the letter Samekh has the gematria value of 60.

Search Term Shoot Back, February 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“wiccan language” — You mean English?

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

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

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

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



A Correction on Terminology: On “Omieros”

In the last post, I described my method of a general spiritual bath for purification and the removal of spiritual impurities, and in the process used the term “omiero”, which has caused a minor stir online for some people.  Let me talk about this term here, and if you’ve used it or seen it used in the past and you’re not an initiate in Santeria, then please read this.

I first encountered the term “omiero” in a post by Aaron Leitch, one of the better-known ceremonial magicians of our time.  In that post of his, he described the method of making a blood substitute for Solomonic workings for those who are unwilling or unable to obtain blood from animals for the use in certain rituals, like the consecration of the black-handled knife which calls for the blood of a black cat.  Sometimes, getting blood from animals can be a problem for one reason or another, and many people (“especially those of American WASP heritage”) disprefer the use of blood generally in ritual.  I’m not one of those people, but I know of many who are.  To get around these problems and still continue on with Solomonic ritual as traditionally as possible, Leitch talks about making a substitute using water, herbs, and prayer.  He calls this a “Solomonic ‘omiero'”:

Omiero is a liquid used in Santerian traditions, whenever an Orisha (or  god) is born into a new vessel.  (These vessels are urns, filled with consecrated items, that become the center-pieces of altars to the Orishas.)  The Orisha will quite literally live inside the vessel, and offerings and sacrifices will be made to him or her upon the altar.  However, the Orisha’s very first meal is not blood at all – it is omiero.  Because of this, omiero can be considered even more potent (in its way) than blood.

Of course, the secrets of making true omiero are a closely guarded secret. I only know it involves the ripping and tearing of sacred herbs and plants beneath running water, so that a green-tinted water is collected. And there are mystical songs that must be sung during its preparation.

Meanwhile, the concept of herbally-infused holy water is not unheard of outside of these mystery religions. We can especially find it within the practice of Hoodoo – a folk practice that originated in the American south, and was itself heavily influenced by the ATRs. In this case, the process is much simplified – usually involving little more than steeping sacred herbs in water to produce a “tea” or extracting the scent of a plant and infusing it into water (such as the very popular Florida Water – which is named for its sweet floral scent, not for the US state).

He goes on to describe how one might make such a “Solomonic omiero” with the praying of psalms and the like, which is indeed a useful substitute for ritual magic.  After all, it’s basically the same thing I did for my rituals when I can’t get blood from a certain animal.  After getting involved with several African diasporic traditions, including Palo and Santeria, I’ve encountered the term “omiero” in a proper context, though I’ve also seen this same term used in ceremonial magic and other Western traditions since.  Since it seems to be part of the lingo, I used this term in my last post to describe an herbal wash one might use after or during the process of a spiritual bath.

I’ve since amended my post to remove the term “omiero” because, in short, I was wrong to use it.

The same Tata Quimbanda I mentioned is also a Santero, an initiate in Santeria, and I noticed shortly after my post that he started a discussion on Facebook about what an omiero really is.  After reading that discussion and talking with several other Santero friends of mine, I’ve since learned that what Aaron Leitch describes as an “omiero” is no such thing.  The term is strictly relegated to the practices of Santeria and Ocha, pretty much, and it is something far more than an herbal wash or herbal water.  Even with the praying of psalms or other incantations, it’s not an omiero unless it’s done in a Santeria manner.  To call something a “Solomonic omiero” is crossing the streams too much to be correct, and it’d be like saying something is a “Tibetan rosary” (the rosary being relegated to Catholic practices) or a “European shaman” (shaman being relegated to Central Asian religions).  Yeah, you might get your point across, but it’s not a proper use of the term.

What I was describing was an herbal wash or an herbal water: water with herbs crushed into it, perhaps with prayers said over it as one might do with many things in many traditions.  An omiero isn’t just that: the process of making an omiero and the precise nature and uses of it are oathbound knowledge kept by initiates in Santeria, but it’s made in a specific manner that isn’t found outside Santeria.  Plus, while an omiero can be used as a bath for some purposes, that’s not what it’s usually made for, and can be described as a type of “amniotic fluid” for the orisha in Santeria rituals.  If you’re not an initiate in Santeria, you’re pretty much guaranteed to not know how to make an omiero and are not supposed to use it on your own.

I admit I was wrong to use this term, and I’d like to correct the use of this term in the broader occult blogosphere, much as Kalagni over at Blue Flame Magick did with the term “tulpa” (if you think you know how this term works, think again and read Kalagni’s post).  It pays to be correct, guys.  Appropriating this term isn’t really doing yourself, your work, or the original tradition it came from any favors.

Search Term Shoot Back, August 2014

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 August 2014.

“trithemius azazel” — So, Trithemius, properly Johann Heidenberg or Johannes Trithemius, was a German Benedictine abbot, born in 1462 and died 1516.  He was kind of fantastic at everything, and is also known for mentoring Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim who wrote the Three Books of Occult Philosophy.  Trithemius had several works dealing with the occult, including a survey of “necromantic” works, a text detailing the history of the world as shaped by angelic entities, and his famous Steganographia, which appears to be a system of angel magic but itself hides a system of cryptography.  A much later work attributed to Trithemius appears in Francis Barrett’s The Magus called The Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals, which is my go-to conjuration ritual; however, there’s no real evidence to suggest that this was Trithemius’ work, even though it bears his name.  The ritual is based loosely off of other well-known Solomonic grimoires, like the Key of Solomon and Heptameron, and the text itself focuses on conjuring the angel Michael (specifically the angel of the Sun), though the text also describes times to conjure the other planetary angels.  Azazel, on the other hand, though it bears an angelic-looking name, turns out to be nothing of the sort; this spirit does not appear in Trithemius’ works, and the name appears in Agrippa’s Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7) as the demonic prince of Air.  This is not a good guy; think destructive tornadoes, storms, gales that topple buildings and bridges, mindbreak-inducing doubt, and other mental or airy destruction, and you’ll have a grasp of what this spirit does.  I suggest working with Raphael, the angelic king of Air, rather than this spirit, and even then the only time you might want to conjure Azazel is to bind him out of your life for good.

“scrying with feldspar” — Same way you scry with any other material or medium: let your focus become absorbed in the scrying medium, and let your mind do the rest.  Feldspar is both a type of mineral as well as a group of minerals, and as far as I’m aware it’s not a popular stone in occult use.  Of course, there is labradorite, which is a type of feldspar, but that’s about the only variant I can think of that’s known at all.  Generally people tend to go with some variety of quartz, calcite, gypsum, agate, or even just simple glass, but labradorite sure is pretty.

“unfortunate hours planetary times” — Different texts will indicate good or bad times to do something; I recall that the Grimoirum Verum as well as the Greek Magical Papyri () have “calendars” that describe fortunate or unfortunate days.  However, when it comes to planetary times e.g. hours, it all depends on the activity in question.  For instance, starting a fight that you plan to win is better done on a Tuesday (day of Mars) than a Friday (day of Venus), since the latter doesn’t do well with fights at all.  Likewise, you probably shouldn’t start a fight on a Sunday (day of the Sun), since the Sun is about authority and rulership, and fighting against that usually doesn’t turn out so well.  Better than this, learn electional astrology; while planetary days and hours are a good rough and easy way to do planetary timing, actually timing them to fortunate or unfortunate alignments of the planets themselves is unequivocally better.

“rituwal instrucshins summin belsubub” — While I understand what you’re trying to communicate, and in that sense you aren’t failing the use of written language, I suggest you learn how to properly write, type, and spell before you dare to work with some of the more powerful demonic entities out there.  They appreciate a bit of finesse.

“st. sealtiel feast day” — So, Sealtiel a.k.a. Selaphiel is one of the Seven Archangels (depending on what tradition of Christianity you’re looking at), and is considered to be the angel presiding over prayer to God.  However, unlike Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, he’s not named in the Bible, and so while the Catholic Church is open to his existence, they cannot claim his existence as dogmatically real post-Vatican II.  As such, Sealtiel does not pass muster for licit veneration in the Catholic Church, and so doesn’t get a feast day from them.  However, the Orthodox Church gives him a bit more leeway along with the other archangels Uriel, Jehudiel, and Barachiel, and does officially venerate them.  However, the Orthodox Church also clusters all the archangels together into a single feast day that they commemorate on November 8, as a general feast day for all the angelic powers.  The Catholic Church has something similar, known as the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels or simply as Michaelmas, held on September 29.

“can my hga hear me” — At all times, on all days, and in all places, yes.  Your Holy Guardian Angel has always known you and always been around you

“rufus opus moon walk” — I’m not sure my mentor, Fr. Rufus Opus, is that smooth.  He’s charismatic, sure, but I wouldn’t bet on him being able to pull off a moonwalk that easily.  That is, of course, unless he wants to try it at Crucible Convention in front of everyone, in which case I’m all for that.

“can i combine the colors on a orisha necklace” — Please ask your local botanica’s resident Santeros and babalawos for authoritative answers on Santeria questions.  That said, as far as elekes go, I’m pretty sure it’s just one orisha per eleke.  Unless you’re doing something that’s eleke-inspired, don’t go combining the colors of different orisha on the same eleke, especially if those two don’t get along (like Yemaya and Oya).

“how to consecrate and charge a ring in naked” — The same way you’d consecrate a ring while clothed, except without clothes.

“magic square of saturn benefits” — The magic square, or qamea, of Saturn is a 3 × 3 grid of numbers, the numerological aspect of which makes it a very powerful Saturn talisman on its own.  You don’t need sigils or names or symbols or lead or what-have-you if all you have is the magic square; it all helps, sure, but the square is a potent realization of the powers of Saturn on its own.

“archangel michael invocation for orgonite” — None whatsoever, also ew.  I still stand by my conviction that orgonite is bunk; orgone technology generally isn’t, but orgonite is a crap interpretation of it all.  Trying to combine angels into this?  How would that work?  I’m not even going to fathom to what ends, but what would that do that literally any other invocation couldn’t?  I mean, the Catholic Church sure isn’t going to accept orgonite’s usefulness (nor should they bother), so they won’t be accepting canonical submissions for prayers, litanies, or blessings for orgonite anytime soon.

“how to tell if summoning asmodeus was successful” — A lot of people think that conjuration requires the physical and visible manifestation of a spirit in order to be successful.  I mean, many magicians nowadays think that’s the end goal of magic and the mark of a master, and it’s true that if you can get a spirit to that kind of manifestation, you’re pretty awesome.  I don’t think that’s the end result of conjuration, though; it’s the equivalent of a really nice party trick at a business conference.  The better criteria for judging the success of a conjuration are whether you were able to perceive them at all and, if so, whether the end you conjured the spirit for came around.  Perception can take place many ways; I’m much better at hearing, smelling, and just coming up with full thoughts than I am with tactile sensation or vision, physical or spiritual.  We have more than just the sense of sight; use all your senses and see what works best for you and how you best interface with spirits.  As for ends, well, why did you bother summoning the spirit in the first place?  Did you have a specific request to ask and, if you did, was the request fulfilled?  Did you get answers to questions you may have asked?  Did you receive confirmation over something you were unsure about?  If so, then I’d say the conjuration was a success.

“congo huge cock” — I’m not sure.  I mean, there is the cliché that African men are the most well-endowed, but I’m unsure about that, and specifically whether Congolese men more than others are the biggest on average.  Besides, I’m already spoken for, so I can’t really experiment and find out myself.  That said,

“how to cleanse and bless a home with holy water and sea salt” — I’m confused as to why you’d use both sea salt and holy water, since holy water is usually already salted and mixed with other herbs, resins, or perfumes (like rose water, hyssop, frankincense, myrrh, etc.) in addition to being prayed over.  It kinda sounds like you’re mixing Christian and pagan practices which, although not a bad thing, the use of holy water alone should suffice.  That said, I might recommend strewing the salt across your home (all across your home), leaving it there overnight, and sweeping it all up and out of the house from the back to the front the next morning while praying that all defilement and filth be swept away, then spritzing holy water from front to back across the whole house while praying for blessings to enter into your house.  The salt here acts as a sponge to soak up all the spiritual ick in the house; just be sure to be extraordinarily thorough in getting it all out!  Instead of using salt as a spiritual sponge, I might recommend setting a glass of jar in each room for the same purpose and dumped into the road the next morning, or using the salt as a layer of protection in each corner of a room along with an iron nail or a few pennies.

“interpreting triad in geomancy” — So, this is an aspect of the geomantic shield chart that, as far as I can ascertain, was first written about at length by Robert Fludd in his Fasciculus Geomanticae, but it may have been written about somewhere else before that and the information isn’t accessible yet; there are some parallels with Fludd’s technique (which he and John Michael Greer call “triplicities”) and some Arabic and African forms of geomancy.  The idea is based on the Witnesses and Judge; the Judge is made from the two Witnesses above it, and so form a triad of figures that indicate the past, present, and future of the overall situation.  We can apply that same logic to the triads of the Nieces and the Mothers or Daughters that generate them; thus, the First Triad is composed of the First and Second Mothers with the First Niece, the Second Triad with the Third and Fourth Mothers with the Second Niece, the Third Triad with the First and Second Daughters with the Third Niece, and the Fourth Triad with the Third and Fourth Daughters with the Fourth Niece.  As JMG and Fludd describe it, the First Triad describes the overall condition and state of the querent, the Second Triad describes the context of the situation of the reading, the Third Triad describes the places and location of the query and querent, and the Fourth Triad describes the people and their actions involved in the query.  It can help shed light on a Shield Chart, though I find that it’s not particularly useful if one also uses the House Chart; I almost never interpret the Triads in the Shield Chart for this reason.  It’s a useful bit of knowledge, however, especially if you prefer analyzing the Shield Chart as “the” chart, though both the Shield and House Charts for a reading answer the question the same.

“rubeus iching” — I got several search queries that focus on the geomantic figure Rubeus and the I Ching, a Chinese form of divination that uses eight trigrams (three lined figures) or 64 hexagrams (six lined figures).  Some people think that there’s a link between geomancy and I Ching because both use binary figures: geomancy uses 16 four-lined figures with either one or two dots in each line, and the I Ching uses 8 three-lined figures or 64 six-lined figures with either a solid line (single line segment) or a broken line (two line segments) in each line.  They do look superficially similar, but that’s about it; there’s no evidence to indicate that there’s anything to link the two in method or meaning.  Add to it that the earliest records we have indicate geomancy to develop between 900 and 1000 CE in the Saharan region of Africa, while the I Ching has its origins at least as far back as 100 BCE, if not as far back as 1500 BCE.  The I Ching is anywhere from 1000 to 2000 years older than geomancy, and in light of the fact that we have no evidence to link the two even by means of the Silk Road, trying to link the two systems is probably folly-in-action.  In that light, while you might be able to find a hexagram or trigram similar in meaning to Rubeus, it’d be coincidental at best and contrived at worst.

“greek alphabet oracle spread” — Now this is interesting: the use of a spread with the Greek alphabet oracle, or what I call grammatomancy.  Consider Tarot divination: you could draw a single card to get a single answer, or you could use several cards arranged in a particular way to get a more developed answer.  I actually go over several types of grammatomantic “spreads”, or what I call syntaxes, in my ebook on grammatomancy, which you should totally buy and look at.

Search Term Shoot Back, June 2014

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 June 2014.

“what does it mean to trace the grid from the center crystal to each other crystal using a wand or your fingers show picture” — …I mean, I feel like the idea is pretty explanatory.  Center to crystal 1 to center to crystal 2…to center.  Do you really need more guidance than this?  You already described the method.

“saint cyprian wand” — I’ve never seen something like this, save for maybe the blasting rod of the Grimoirum Verum that forms part of the Book of Saint Cyprian.  The good saint himself is usually pictured with a crosier and a book, though as a magician himself he was likely familiar with the use of wands in the classical and early medieval Mediterranean.  Heck, his crosier itself could be seen as a type of wand, being associated with wisdom, spiritual authority, and guidance, all attributes commonly given to the wand.  Still, a modern wand for use in Cyprianic workings isn’t a bad idea.  Necromantic materials would be of use: an ebony or iron wand packed with graveyard dirt and capped with smoky quartz or jet, engraved with holy symbols and names, perhaps buried for a week at the head of the grave of a priest or magician during the New Moon, fed with the blood of a black chicken or goat.  Not a bad idea at all.

“how to use saturn seals in “key of Solomon”” — If you merely read the book (book I, chapter 19), many sections tell you how to use it.  Generally, you show a pentacle unto a particular spirit like how the FBI flashes a suspect their badge (Saturn pentacles I, II, III, IV, V).  Some of them cause some change in the world by their mere existence and construction and should be kept for future use as a ritual tool, similar to a wand but used to “fire off” work into the cosmos generally (pentacles II, IV, VI, VII).  When a pentacle is not being used, it should be kept hidden and safe, or it should be enshrined on an altar with other magical tools, perhaps reconsecrated every week or so with candle and oil and incense.

“stones in sash black magic santeria” — …do people still consider Santeria to be “black magic”?  Really?  It means “way of the saints”.  It’s about as far you can get from “black magic”, and I’ve written about my thoughts on the term itself elsewhere.  As far as I’m aware, Santeria doesn’t really use sashes, though I’ve seen some massive elekes and collares that are used in limited ritual purposes, but those are all nearly entirely colored glass beads.  Also, I’ve seen sashes of fruit for newly made iyawos.  Beyond that, I can’t think of a Santeria sash, though I’m admittedly no expert in Santeria.  Sashes are sometimes used in other traditions, like the bandera of Palo Mayombe, but that’s a different thing and, again, is nearly entirely glass beads.  Stones might just be a personal flourish.

“h0w t0 consecrate oil with psalm 72” — I wasn’t familiar with this psalm before I wrote this post, but I like it!  Take some good, clean oil and pray over it fervently; that’s all you need to do to consecrate anything, really; the incense, candles, and hoopla of ritual can help but aren’t strictly necessary.  Psalm 72, specifically, sounds beautiful for blessing, dominating, and prosperity work.

“top 10 conjuring rituals real” — What, as if there’s a Buzzfeed list of magic rituals full of spooky GIFs?  C’mon, dude, get your act together.  There’s no such top-ten list of “real” rituals; any ritual that works is real, and different people often get different rituals to work for them.  Once you get the experience of a few conjuration rituals, you can start doing them on the fly with spirits you have a good connection with.

“seal of sealtiel angel” — Unfortunately, even though I’ve been making weekly offerings to Sealtiel the Archangel for a brief time now, I haven’t done much more than that and engaged the archangels in conversation, like I would in a conjuration.  I mean to in the near future, but I haven’t yet.  I don’t know of a seal for the angel, so you might want to stick with making a sigil based off the letters in his name a la chaos magic or by using my Greek Sigil Wheel idea.  Sealtiel often bears a thurible as his badge of office, so you might start with that if you want an image.

“how to use saturn to create prosperity” — Er, that’s not usually Saturn’s job.  Prosperity is usually in line with Mercury and Jupiter, the planets of exchange and expansion generally,

“autobiography of st. jehudiel”, “biography of saint sealtiel”, etc. — Seeing how these are angels who have never technically lived, it’s hard to have a biography of them, since a biography is an account of, you know, a life.  They’re immortal beings who serve the will of God directly; they don’t have lives like we think of them, and they don’t exist apart from God.  Also, an “autobiography”?  Not only does that assume a life of an angel, it also assumes they write and can communicate to us in language.

“horus demon god of sun sygils” — Much of this makes no sense to me on a conceptual level.  First, to spell the word as “sygils” means you’re probably in Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (or however it’s misspelled) or just some middle-schooler who wants to be all dark and powerful.  That isn’t done with extra “y”s and the metal umlaut, you know.  As for Horus, yes, he’s a god of the Sun, but in no sense is he malefic or demonic.

“locating lost thing by star power” — What, are you Sailor Moon?  There are astrological and geomantic methods of finding lost objects, but unless you’re a Sailor Scout or one of the Three Wise Men, you’re not going to find anything directly through the stars themselves.

“most deadly buddhist mantras” — …I don’t think you understand the point of Buddhist mantras.  There might indeed be powerful spells and mantra-like charms in some distant and extant traditions of magic and applied Buddhism, but none I know that would kill a target or the user.  That tends to go against the Precepts, anyway, but you know, expedient means and all that shit.

“effects of reading saint cyprian book” — In my case, you’ll’ve learned Spanish and published a translation in English (hint: go buy my cheap ebook on Etsy!).  Supposedly, if you read the Book of Saint Cyprian, either front to back or back to front (I forget which), you end up summoning the Devil.  That didn’t happen in my case, and he might’ve just gotten confused with my flipping around randomly through the book.

“how to aproach the abramelin ritual if you already know your guardian angel” — Honestly, if you have contact with your HGA, why do the Abramelin ritual?  The meat of the matter is getting contact with your HGA, after which you go through and bind evil spirits from messing with you in the future.  Once you have your HGA, you can do anything, basically.  I know some friends who are going through the Abramelin as an initiation requirement in some groups, but that’s not the real use of the Abramelin, as I see it.

“is the word geomancy in the bible” — Nope.  Geomancy likely kicked off in the Sahara Desert around 900 or 1000 AD, well after the Bible was written (especially the Old Testament).  However, if you read that the Bible has a prohibition on divinatory arts generally, then that would include geomancy; if you read the Bible supporting the act of divination, then that also includes geomancy.  The word itself is coined more recently than the Bible, as is the art, so you won’t find biblical references to it, although some traditions hold that geomancy was given to the prophet Hermes Trismegistus, Adam, Idris, Daniel, Jesus, or Mohamed to discover more of the secrets of God, so it depends on what you consider meaningful.

Search Term Shoot Back, May 2014

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 May 2014.

“why is yesod important in ring of solomon” — As far as I know, it’s not.  The Ring of Solomon, given in the Lemegeton, has the names “Tetragrammaton”, “Tzabaoth”, and “Michael” written on it; the one given to John Dee is known as the “PELE Ring”, having that word inscribed on it (perhaps a reversed romanized “Aleph”?) with a circle with a V and L sticking through it.  None of this is particularly associated with Yesod, the sephiroth associated with the sphere of the Moon, whose commonly-associated godname is Shaddai El Chai and whose angel presiding over it is Gabriel.

“big cock anal” — Yes, please.

“can orgonite be used for penis growth ?” — First, orgonite can’t really be used for anything that, say, a rock, a crystal, or a piece of wood can’t, and honestly anything else looks prettier than orgonite.  Second, the penis is pretty much a fixed size once you hit puberty; with the exception of prolonged penis pumping or jelqing (either of which can be dangerous if you don’t do it right, including literally exploding the penis), you really won’t be changing the size much.  Third, no.  No, you cannot use orgonite for penis growth.  You must be extraordinarily desperate to be thinking of that.

“black pepper in rituals” — It’s a pretty useful ingredient, actually.  Anything that has a sharp or stinging smell or taste to it tends to be Martial, while anything dark black tends to be Saturnine; black pepper, being both, is a good example of an herb that combines both of these forces, but pepper generally tends to be a Martial ingredient.  It’s good for banishing things, and a standby banishing incense of mine combines black pepper, red pepper, myrrh, clove, and star anise.  It’s also good for offensive magic, especially if you’re trying to get someone to get the fuck out of your life or cause them slow-burning harm.  Be careful when burning it, however, and don’t inhale it directly or get the smoke in your eyes.

“since greek god hermes had a big dick do virgo guy born on august 23 have big dicks as well” — …again?  Why is this a thing people are searching for?  (I may as well ask why there exists Rule #34 on the Internet.)  First, August 23 is really on the cusp between Leo and Virgo, and depending on the year and exact time of birth, someone could be clearly on one side or the other, or could be really right on the fence between the two.  In my experience, cusp people who have the physical attributes of one sign have the personality characteristics of the other.  Second, the bigger (…erm) thing is that one’s rising sign really influences one’s physical form, which I would assume continue down to the girth and length of one’s cock; it’s not just the Sun sign that matters.  Third, it’s really in very few depictions of Hermes that he’s presented with a huge dick; the hermai statues weren’t always Hermes but acted as generic intermediary messengers between humans and gods in ritual depictions, and it’s really only that huge ithyphallic Roman drawing of Mercury that we see a Pan-like figure with a caduceus.  I mean, sure, the gods can present themselves (heh) in any way they chose, including the size of particular attributions of theirs, but I genuinely don’t think a huge cock is something attributable to Hermes in the same way the caduceus or winged sandals are.  That said, he definitely has nothing to worry about, either.

“likeness between virgo males and greek god hermes” — If search term results are any indication, apparently a huge cock is one of them?  This question is kinda weird to me, since it’s like asking the likeness between a Jew and YHVH, or a citizen of the United States and George Washington.  Virgoan and Geminese people are both born under the Zodiac signs ruled by Mercury, but that’s hardly much to talk about.  Again, the rising sign, Moon sign, signs of the Parts of Fortune and Spirit, and the planet of the almuten are all hugely important factors that can change from Virgo to Virgo, Gemini to Gemini, and so forth.  In many regards, if a particular Virgo male has a huge cock, it’s probably coincidental and attributable to many other factors besides their Sun sign.

“can you pray to summon satan” — Totally, yes!  Just make sure whom you’re praying to and why you’re praying for it line up right.  Don’t pray to the Judeo-Christian God to summon Satan for world domination, and don’t pray to Satan himself to imprison himself for the rest of eternity.  You might make more enemies than friends that way.

“religious amulet sash that you wear across the shoulder and end at the hip in yoruba” — I’m not an expert on ATR practices, but Santería (or Lukumi, which has its origins in the Yoruba culture) doesn’t wear these.  They wear elekes or collares, beaded necklaces and bracelets, the colors and patterns of which reflect different orisha (Santerían deities).  The sashes are from a nearby culture from the Congo, whose religion is known as Palo (viz. Palo Mayombe, Palo Kimbisa, Palo Briyumba, etc.).  They don’t wear the beaded necklaces or bracelets (except maybe as a personal affectation), but instead wear the bandera, a sash that goes over the shoulder and down to the other hip, the beaded patterns of which represent the different nkisi (Palo deities), along with chains, cowrie shells, and other charms to reflect ancestry, ancestors, and the like.

“can i use orgonite in my crystal grid” — You can, but why?  Crystals tend to be cheaper and more easily accessible and tend to have a purer energy feel to them.  Besides, crystals are already present in orgonite, which tends to be a mishmash of metal shavings, glitter, sticks, and glue, so why bother?  Just use crystals and leave the orgonite crap alone.

“keys of solomon used in a ritual death” — Very little in the Key of Solomon has to do with ritual deaths or killing, much less those of humans.  However, animal sacrifice is a thing, and the use of blood as ingredients in ink or pigments is common in several of the rituals, as well as in making offerings to the demons in the Lemegeton Goetia.  If you do this, first make the white-handled knife (which itself requires the blood of a goose) to consecrate it, then use that as the sacrificial blade for further sacrifices.  Be careful, and also study how Jewish kosher slaughter works and try to use that method to ensure a quick and as-close-to-painless-as-possible death.  If you cut yourself, halt all working and make sure you don’t get any of your own blood mixed up in the offerings or ink, and GTFO the ritual area.  If you’re at all squeamish about using sacrifices of animals or blood, just look elsewhere or work on making plant-based substitutes for blood.

“hermetic wand pricing” — Depends on whom you ask.  I can make wands for you as a custom commission, depending on complexity and style, though for wands used in the Golden Dawn, you’d be better off looking elsewhere or studying the craft and making one for yourself.

“are there any of the penticles of the moon out of the greater key of solomon that have to do with arc angel azreal” — Sorta?  Azrael, sometimes known as Azriel, is commonly known as the Angel of Death, though his name literally means “One whom God Helps”.  He’s known in Islamic traditions, though never by this name in the Qur’an, instead being referred to as the angel of death.  The Zohar of Jewish Kabbalah has this angel receive the prayers of the faithful in Heaven and leads the heavenly hosts, and some esoteric forms of Christianity associate this angel with Sealtiel or Selaphiel, the angel of prayer.  All told, though, he’s most known in his function of giving death to mankind.  Though I didn’t think this angel appeared in the Key of Solomon, there is actually a pentacle of the Moon that references a very similar name to this: the Fifth Pentacle of the Moon, which “serveth to have answers in sleep”, and “serveth unto destruction and loss, as well as unto the destruction of enemies”,  as well as “against all phantoms of the night, and to summon the souls of the departed from Hades”.  This pentacle has the name “Azarel” written on it, which could just as easily be romanized from Hebrew as “Azrael”, so maybe this is the pentacle you’re looking for.

“i want to write my name in angelic script” — First learn to write your name in Hebrew, or find a Hebrew version of your name; then simply write the same letters in angelic script, which is basically a different font of Hebrew.

“letter v in isopsephy” — There isn’t one.  Isopsephy is Greek gematria, and there is no letter V in Greek.  The modern pronunciation of Beta or Upsilon can sometimes sound like the English V, but there is no such letter.  Likewise, in Hebrew gematria, there is no letter V either, though Bet or Waw can sometimes sound like it, too.  If you’re using isopsephy based on purely phonetic principles, you could pick either of those letters from those scripts, but the thing is that you’d be applying phonetic principles to a text-based system, and the disconnect is large enough to give me pause for concern.  And no, I haven’t found an English/Latin isopsephy/gematria worth discussing yet.

“how to write a curse tablet in latin”  — Much the same way as you’d write a curse tablet in any other language.  The language doesn’t really factor into the magic unless you’re working with specifically Latin-speaking spirits, and depending where you are, those might be few and far between.  Write in the language most comfortable to you; the spirits will understand.  That said, if you happen to know Classical Latin or Greek comfortably well, by all means write in those languages.

“are summoming triangles evil?” — As much as pens and paper are.  The summoning triangle is a tool used in rituals, which I suppose can only be declared “good” or “evil” based on their intent and result.

And, as you may have noticed, dear readers, I’m back!  I’m all situated in the new house, all the spirits and altars are set up, and a few days’ worth of housewarming parties are complete.  I’m getting settled back into a routine of commuting, ritual, and martial arts practice, so everything’s going well.  I’m now open for craft commissions again, though I now have a minor backlog of things to do from people who happened to order something over the past month.  How’ve you been this past May?

What is a deity?

So, recently a friend of mine who’s getting his legs in working with the occult and spiritual worlds was talking with me and my boyfriend, and it caused a bit of a debate amongst ourselves, mostly due to semantics and differences in worldview that can complicate things when describing How Things (Can/Should) Work.  Part of that was that my friend had said that me and my boyfriend “traffick in gods”, and that he himself doesn’t like working with gods but does like working with forces of nature.  This caused a bit of confusion between all of us until we pegged down exactly what he meant by that generally, and also what he meant by gods.  This is where my boyfriend and I disagree a bit, but then, we can attribute that to different worldviews and paths in spirituality.

As for myself, the question of what the nature of a god is can be complicated, especially when describing specific instances of spirits and how they might be or might not be gods.  For instance, we can easily point to Zeus and say that he’s a god, and we can point to my little Air elemental ally and easily say that he’s nowhere near as godlike as Zeus may be, and you’d generally be right in saying that my elemental ally isn’t a god.  But what about river spirits, like that of the Mississippi or Ganges?  Or spirits of a forest or a mountain?  Or spirits ruling over an entire element?  This is where the ontology of godhood and spirithood can get tricky.  I present below my understanding and use of the words “god” and “spirit”.

First, to talk about gods, let’s back up a bit and talk about a broader class of entities, that of spirits.  To me, a spirit is any nonphysical entity that can be meaningfully interacted with.  Let’s unpack that phrase bit by bit.  A “nonphysical entity” (NPE) is a being with a more-or-less independent consciousness and nature, which exists without corporeal form or body, and which communicates or interacts with the world through nonphysical or noncorporeal means.  Thus, humans and animals are not NPEs, but ghosts, souls, and angels are.  Elemental and animal spirits, though they may be present within actual objects or animals, are still NPEs.  (Sometimes an NPE can be incarnated or take corporeal form; this is an exception and handled elsewhere.)  To “meaningfully interact with” means that we, as human beings, can witness and observe an NPE and its effects on the world, can communicate or work with the NPE, can receive communication from the NPE, and can potentially work together or through the NPE to achieve some desired end.  So, working with Zeus or God or an angel or an animal totem would all constitute meaningful interaction; working with gravity or lightning or time would not, since these can be manipulated in certain ways but not communicated with.

I claim that all gods are spirits: they are both nonphysical entities (though are sometimes known for taking corporeal form in some circumstances) and can be meaningfully interacted with (though sacrifice, prayer, scrying, visions, and the like).  Thus, gods constitute a subset of spirits; are there spirits that are not gods?  This is where things get interesting, and I have a hard time trying to figure out where any meaningful distinction might lie between godly spirits and non-godly spirits.  If it’s a matter of scale or grandeur, then we end up with a kind of divine sorites paradox, where distinctions may be arbitrary and meaningless.  For instance, if we define a god as a spirit that has at least 10,000 worshippers, then what about spirits that have 9,999 worshippers?  Does that make the spirit any less godly, especially as seen and experienced by their worshippers?  Same thing goes with age; if we consider a god to be a spirit worshipped for at least 1000 years by some group of people, what about Christ in the first millennium AD, when he was recognized as divine even before his birth?

In many animistic traditions, there simply is no distinction between a god and a spirit, and all gods are spirits and vice versa.  Consider the Shinto term kami (神), where all of the phenomena, spirits, souls, and manifestations of cosmic order are considered a type of god, though the term “god” itself does little justice to encompass the meanings of the term kami.  Similarly, looking at Hindu and Greek polytheistic traditions that likely evolved out of animistic ones, we find both a kind of ruling group of gods with connections and children to other gods, which although lesser are still considered gods, even down to the level of individual rivers, mountains, forests, and trees.  Even the Greeks considered individual people to have their own agathodaimon, or personal spirits, which were so strong or powerful that they would be on the level of the gods themselves (implying greatness or grandeur, but no otherwise fundamental difference).  Sacrifices and prayers were carried out to the big Olympians as they were heroes and nature spirits, indicating that ritualistically the spirits were treated the same as the gods, or nearly so to the point where it’s just about meaningless to consider gods fundamentally different from spirits.

My boyfriend suggests a difference in function and level: gods are NPEs that are worked towards but not worked with, while spirits are NPEs that are worked with.  So, for instance, I might call on the aid of a saint to achieve an end (thaumaturgy) but I might work myself up to rise to the level of the Almighty (theurgy).  Thus, Olodumare/Olorun in Santeria or Yoruban religion might be considered a god, since he’s not directly worked with, but the other orishas like Chango or Babalu Aye would be considered spirits since they’re directly present and able to work directly with someone.  In Abrahamic terms, we might consider God the Father the “god” and his angels the spirits, but then this gets into more complicated issues when you consider that God the Son is directly worked with as is God the Holy Spirit, who are not God the Father but are also not apart from God in a weird non-panentheistic way.  Because of these problems, I disagree with my boyfriend, but then, it’s a minor, minor thing.

Based on all this, I contend that there is no fundamental difference between a god and a spirit: gods are spirits, and spirits are gods.  Thus, the term “god” is merely a label we use to separate out a particular set of spirits we (either as individuals or as traditions) find especially worthy of reverence, devotion, and sacrifice.  For instance, I consider myself dedicated and a priest to Hermes, but not to the local land spirits around my house.  I make them both offerings, but not in the same way, and I hold Hermes as greater and grander than the local land spirits.  Then again, I also consider the local land spirits as genii loci and thus children of Gaia, sharing in her presence and power and thus representative of her; in this sense, the genii loci can also be considered gods by other people.  And even I might consider some genii loci especially worthy of reverence, and thus would be elevated (in my mind) to the status of gods.  Likewise for Shinto, the big kami like Amaterasu or the Emperor get bigger rituals than the kami of smaller things like boulders or waterfalls, but both are considered kami.

In other words, the term “god” is merely a functional term, much how we consider the terms “stationery” and “paper” different: they’re both ultimately the same, but one has a little more decoration than the other, and that decoration is all in the eye of the beholder.  It’s a lot like how the gods of one tradition might be considered devils or illusions by those of another, so it’s tradition- and worldview-specific, but these help define one’s practice and methodology in working with the spirits.  So, for my friend who got me thinking about this to begin with, we might say that going with the animistic idea that there is no fundamental difference is probably best, especially in getting over any hang-ups on the terms used by others.