Self-assessment

For the first time in months (like, November or something last year), I have no more blog posts scheduled to go up ahead of time.  No more buffer, at least for now, between what I write and when people see it.  Part of that buffer was built up from my geomancy series of posts, and in part also because I didn’t want to overwhelm my dear readers’ RSS feeds with more posts than they might care about.  But, now that the De Geomanteia posts have been finished…just about two months now, and I’ve gotten back to posting other stuff as it comes to mind, I’ve finally run out of that buffer of more posts.  This means that I’ve been writing less as of late, which is true at least for the blog.  I have a few ebooks in the work on geomancy and the geomantic emblems, but those are still in progress.

Why have I been writing less for the blog?  Basically, I’ve been doing less stuff.  Sure, I’ve done a few projects here and there and had a few adventures, but nothing particularly exciting or worthy of its own post (as far as I’d reckon it).  Almost all the stuff on this blog comes about as a result of doing the Work, making adventures, coming up with interesting stories to tell, doing in-depth research, all that good stuff, and lately I’ve been doing less of it.  It’s not that I’ve gotten bored, but that I’ve gotten stuck in a rut or stuck on a plateau (the two are nearly the same concept).  Not gonna lie, it’s difficult for me to actually admit this, so I’m doing it loudly and proudly on my blog to all my readers that, yes, this is in fact a slow point for my practice and I’m not getting much of anything done.  For now, of course.

It’s been about a year since I managed to obtain first contact with my HGA, which has been an exciting and awesome thing to obtain, though not as overwhelming as I’d’ve thought.  No angelic choirs (besides the ordinary, that is) congratulating me, no life-changing foundation-shaking enlightenment, but still, I’ve had a voice that’s helped guide and nurture me since.  After that, though, my accomplishments and progress have somewhat stalled.  My big goal, especially for 2013, was to begin astral projection, and I sorta postponed most other occult work (like my regular conjuration cycle) on being able to project.  Perhaps needless to say, my progress with astral projection is nowhere near as great as I want it to be, and it’s much more difficult to do and even allot the time for than other work I’ve done in the past.  Add to it some rather pleasing, though adventurous, changes in my life and more stuff to handle in the office, and my work-Work-life balance is shifting around with the Work getting less time than it should.

Astral projection, so I’m told, is the major next step I need to work on.  Without being able to work with the spirits in spiritual realms as a spirit myself, i.e. without the limitations of physicality, I’m not gonna get much of anywhere.  It’s the key I need to work more in-depth with the planets and to start working with the sphere of the fixed stars, where we get the idea of “astral realms” from to begin with.  I’d love to do the full out-of-body experience, but that’s posing a much more difficult task than I anticipated; indeed, even my HGA said that this would be more difficult than coming in contact with the HGA was.  I can manage strong visualizations and so-called “mental projections”, using light trance/meditative states to scry or bilocate elsewhere, which gets the job done, but not as great as I’d like.  And, of course, it being “not good enough” has led me to leave it un-/underutilized, and even though it affords one method to work astrally, I’ve instead done nothing astrally and waiting for something better to happen.

My idea of astral practice involves light meditation beforehand, coupled with about two hours of lying in trance trying to obtain deeper states of trance and, hopefully, the ability to slip out of the body and into the astral.  This is about a three hour thing, all told, and that’s a nontrivial amount of time.  I was going to write these next few sentences justifying why I procrastinate on this, with so many hours already used for this or that, but then I realized I couldn’t say it in any way that wouldn’t read as pathetic.  I’m just gonna say it: I’m lazy and I like to internet, even at the cost of my magical and spiritual practice.  The free time I have every week, even when I spend it at my boyfriend’s house or out with friends, still allows me plenty of time to do magic and spiritual exercises that I’m simply not using in the best way ever.  This has happened before and I know I’ll encounter the problem again in the future, but this is now getting to the point were I’m snapping out of it.

The stuff I want to do is manifold, and I have a hard time figuring out where I want to begin.  This, of course, kinda puts hesitation in me, then indecision, then a lack of action that stalls any more progress, causing me to retreat back to the all-too-welcome arms of the Internet for mindless entertainment until I realize that I need to do more Work.  I was going to type up a list of things I want to work on, but then I decided to make it public and give my own assessment of what I need to work on and why.

  • Meditation.  Meditation is the key to most mental disciplines, and indeed is the foundation for trance practice.  If I do better and more meditation, the whole two-hour lying-in-trance thing above becomes more-or-less obsolete, since the meditation itself becomes the trance.  More, deeper, and more serious meditation practice is needed, starting over from the rudimentary basics like how to maintain good posture, a personal weak spot of mine.  Resolution: two 30-minute sessions of meditation a day, once in the morning after waking up and once in the evening before sleep.
  • Sight.  It’s definitely a desire to better see/view/communicate with spirits, forces, and spiritual things more than I can.  Granted, I have a good ability to do just that, but I want to be better at it to where I can see histories in places, medical problems in people, and the like.  I want better second sight, better awareness of the spiritual around me.  Despite the warnings of some of my friends (“you can’t turn it off once you have it on”), I can’t say that I’d ever want it turned off.  From clearer visuals in conjurations to seeing weak spots in home defenses, or even things that’d be offensive to my senses, I want and want to work on better sight/vision practices. Resolution: weekly and regular practice and working on a few new tools to help this out.  I’m thinking a special blindfold from a black scarf consecrated for the purpose.
  • Exercise.  I admit it, I’ve put on a few extra pounds lately and I’m not doing nearly enough for my physical body.  As much as I’m focusing on the spiritual, I also need to focus on the physical, since it’s the best way to honor the mind and spirit as well.  Besides, as long as I’m human, the body is as much me as anything else.  I know my eating habits and other upkeep are decent (though I could definitely get more sleep), so it’s just a lack of physical activity I need to change.  Scholar though I am, I’m still an animal. Resolution: nightly walks to local parks no less than 60 minutes in duration plus daily stretches and basic stuff.  (If it weren’t for the 10 hours I spend at work and commuting, I’d throw in more dedicated routines and weights and crap, but here I go whining again.)

Even with the above justifications for individual goals, I think a somewhat bigger issue is that I’ve lost my overall reason, the big “why” that drives my Work.  I mean, nobody becomes a monk because they dig the ascetic practices, they do it because they want enlightenment.  What’s my goal, why am I a magician at all trying to obtain the Great Work?  Even now, my old goals of reunion with the Divine and apotheosis seem kinda…empty.  Power’s always nice, but power for me doesn’t seem great on the surface, either (pace, Frater RO).  Security and stability in the world?  A more compelling and concrete reason than just “power”.  Spiritual authority?  Well, duh, but that itself evades the original question.  I’m here to do magic, I know that much, but why?

I guess I have a self-assessment for what I’m doing, but less for why.  I suppose even this is all just theorizing over what can’t be theorized, too.  I suppose the only thing to really do is to just do it, and there’s no better time than now for it, either.  Back to Work, then; I guess I have a date with the HGA for getting me off this rock.

De Abstinentia

This past weekend was fantastic.  It started on Friday when, after getting home from work, I went to the supermarket to get a few bottles of sangria.  I ended up coming home with a crate of wine, a crate of hard liquors, mixers, some frozen pizzas, and Chinese takeout.  Admittedly, I got a little distracted, but after my Jupiter conjuration on Thursday I was feeling mighty good.  I hung out and drank with a friend on Saturday, and then did the same with another friend plus plenty of Asian food plus plenty of various and sundry other activities, some of which resulted in well-defined circular bruises on my neck.

Don’t judge.  The Bible says not to.

Well, after that, I was feeling bloated, ill-equipped to deal with normal activities that didn’t involve more eating (and even then, ohgodbluuugh), and just generally salty (yay high-sodium dumplings and pizza).  Plus, the added weight gain was unwelcome, especially since I’ve picked up a few more pounds since March than I care to, and it makes it hard to stay focused on much when it comes to the Work and Art.  So, I decided it was finally time to call myself to a fast and just get it done with.

I had been meaning to do a fast for a while now, but it’s hard.  Between being social and eating out or with friends, working at home with delicious temptation all around me, and coping with the occasional allergy or cold, maintaining a fast is not the most simple thing, and that’s without getting to the more internal things like hunger.  I originally, long ago, tried to see how it’d be like doing a weekly fast, like on each quarter of the moon; it worked for a brief time, and then people kept scheduling dates or wanting to get lunch on those very days; after putting the fast off for one day, I ended up putting them off for two, then just canceling them altogether.  You know how these things go: give the demon an inch and it’ll take a mile.  It’s not hard to work up to a fast, either, even for a day thing; according to Frater MC, one good way to work up to a full fast is by a progressive fast.  Variations on this abound, and some may not apply based on how one already eats.  For me, a progressive fast looks something like:

  • Day 1: no meat, no alcohol, no sodas
  • Day 2: no meat, alcohol, or bread/noodles.  Clear liquids only to drink.
  • Day 3: fresh fruits and water only.
  • Day 4 and onward: water only.

Anyway, after reading the Scribbler’s four day fast regimen, I decided to cut the bullshit and go full-on into a seven day water-only fast.  Technically, I started it last night when I ate my last meal of a handful of frozen dumplings, but I officially began it this morning when I made my statement of intent; I’m counting forward from this morning, then.  Did I warm up for this?  No.  Was that stupid?  Yup.  Is fasting in general stupid?  Often enough, yeah.  That said, I have my reasons: it’s been too long since my last proper fast, I need to start going through some proper ordeals in my life beyond the daily grind, I could do with shedding some extra weight, it’s supposedly good for detoxing the body, it’s a good exercise in self-control and self-restraint, and I want to see the effect food deprivation has on my practice and ability to see things astrally.  Granted, this isn’t for everyone; I’m in good enough health with no interfering preexisting conditions that would give me serious pause for doing a fast like this, and I’m not engaged in such an active lifestyle that this would pose a danger to me.

Ordeal?  Why on earth would I put myself through that?  Honestly, I don’t feel like my life is, well, troubled enough.  Things go well, and I don’t have much to cope with besides tolerating people, and I’m sociable and affable enough to do that fairly easily.  I know that, based on my own self-knowledge and an analysis of my natal horoscope, self-control is definitely among my weakest powers; this will be an opportunity for me to confront that demon of myself and give it the equivalent of a smackdown, especially in preparation for finally getting around to binding the Evil Genius.  Plus, given the multitude of resources extolling the benefits of fasting, I figure it can’t be that bad for my practice.

Since this upcoming week I have conjurations with the angels of Mars, Fire, and the Sun, I figure I’ll have energy and drive enough to get through this fine, though I’m already looking forward to eating (at least gingerly) on Wednesday morning next week.  After that, I doubt a full seven-day fast will be called for anytime soon, though I do like the Scribbler’s idea of fasting once a quarter (say, the beginning of every season, or cross-quarter day?), but we’ll see.  Regular fasting, or at least in the form of calorie restriction and increased moderation, has been shown to be very healthy and helpful in even a normal person’s health; how much more so it might benefit me!

For now, I’m going to get back to my water and Enya to get rid of this headache, which should be gone by tomorrow.  I hope.

UPDATE (5/31/2012): Alright, I’m gonna have to cut the fast down to four days, ending Saturday morning.  After conferring with some medical friends of mine and reading up a bit more, seven days is a bit overzealous without training for fasting (who knew?) and preparing for it by doing a progressive fast (no duh).  Plus, after some family issues came up, I’ll be headed out of town this weekend, which involves the close scrutiny of family gatherings at which it’ll be impossible to maintain a fast in serenity.  Plus, I don’t want to have to endure all those folk on an empty stomach.  I’ll make up for the missed days by doing another four day fast in the coming month, this time by prepping for it.  Even though I’m very certain I can go longer than four days (will is no longer an issue, but the risk of severe hypoglycemia might be), it’s not going to be proper for me to continue this at this stage.  Feh.

New Year, New You: Prompt 7, “Glamour”

Yes, yes, I know, I’m doing this out of order.  I haven’t done the sixth prompt yet on maps, sacred spaces, and goals, but I’m late and Deb’s more recent prompt is so much more readily available and easily writable.  The seventh prompt is about appearances and presenting oneself to the world and other people, and how to make oneself look awesome if not their damn best.

Well, as it turns out, dear reader, I’ve been going through some changes lately.  Up until last Wednesday, about a week ago, I had a respectable beard, shaggy hair, and glasses.  Then I shaved the beard (even the sideburns!) and cut the hair rather short, then I got contacts, and then I got my ears pierced.  I’m still in the shock phase about the ears being pierced bit, because even I’m still getting used to how I look.  Needless to say, my friends were caught off-guard, and my family hasn’t seen it yet save my sister via Skype. Plus, now that the new year festivities (all of them) are finally in the past, I can focus again on settling down into a stable simple diet that my body approves of, which will help shed a few more pounds.  Also, I ended up buying a few new clothes and affects in the shopping spree that was last weekend, so a good number of things have changed in a rather short time.  That’s what you get for playing with fire energies for two weeks straight (a post on that coming soon).

Let’s go through a few of the items Deb proposes in the prompt:

  • Makeup’s not my thing.  Never been much into theater or drag, and I’m on the more masculine end of the spectrum anyway, so I don’t have a need for that kind of cosmetic.
  • I’ve got plenty of clothes, and it mostly fits me appropriately.  I’m not big into tailoring, and the farthest my skills go with mending are fixing buttons and inside tears, but I would like some more fitted shirts.  If I do start getting clothes altered, it won’t be until later this year when I have more money to throw around recklessly and my next student loan (or both of them!) are knocked out of the way.  I’m not missing anything, save for perhaps more snappy shirts or pants, but I’ve got plenty of things to cover a wide variety of situations and styles.  Especially Middle Eastern clothes, I love that shit.  (Check out Shukr for good styles.)  Also, when I got contacts last week, I also went ahead and got a new pair of (rather expensive) stylish glasses.  I’m excited!  In tandem with the piercings and recent interest in industrial/electronica, I’m tempted to start exploring more goth-ish styles of appearances.  To be explored.
  • Ever since I was warned about the beginnings of gingivitis showing up on my gums late last year, I’ve taken hygiene much more stringently with myself.  Yes, I’m brushing my teeth thoroughly twice a day with flossing and tongue-scraping; I’m using astringent with salicylic acid to take care of a few zit problems, I’m using the proper amount of high-quality shampoo and conditioner for my hair in a proper manner (twice or thrice a week), and I’m trying to cut out nailbiting.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to pick that habit up if you’ve got thin nails, oddly enough.
  • I eat healthily enough, and it’s very far and few between that I have something as heavily processed as fast food or premade meals.  I only just brought out my microwave from storage so I can heat up water for cleansing my piercings in a jiffy, so I end up cooking almost everything I eat.  I drink when I’m thirsty, and tend to stick to coffee, tea, water, and milk (in that order); when pressed, I’ll down an energy drink, but that’s about it (I’m a caffiend, after all).  I don’t, however, do much physical activity.  That’s definitely a weak point.  I try to walk to local stores and bars whenever possible, but even that’s not too often.  Sigh.  Between work, commute, conjuration, sleep, and study, though, the time I have for working out is limited.  At least I’m living a healthy proper scholar’s life, though I might do well to pick up tai chi or yoga.

What magic might I be doing for my physical body?

  • I’m not against enchanting a bottle of my favorite cologne under the powers of Venus to look more attractive and desirable.  That’s already been stewing on my altar.
  • People at work have noticed and complimented the change in hairstyle, but nobody’s said anything about the piercings yet.  The silence kinda irks me, but it’s not unexpected, either; in an IT office in the government, when you’re the youngest person around, having piercings on a guy is pretty much unseen (especially the ones I have).  I might try my hand at actually making a glamour for myself, or at least having a shield of attraction and compliments set up to see if that changes people’s impressions of me.
  • I may as well ask my genius and the angels of Haniel and Kammael for help in finding suitable physical recreational activities like those mentioned above, even if it’s only for more excuses or causes to go out clubbing (dancing + subsequently hooking up).  I do miss dancing, but there are few enough clubs close to me and I dislike having to go to the city and leaving early to catch the train.  Whine whine whine.

Beyond that, my body.  (Warning, self-adoration approaching.)  I’m tall, broad-shouldered, thin (so I’m told), pleasantly hairy (so I claim), and I love it.  I like being one of the tallest people in the room, if only to chuckle; the frame I have helps intimidate, if not outright help me for strength on the rare occasions I need to use it; I’m an average weight (just slightly overweight according to the BMI, but screw that whore of a metric) and carry it well enough to turn heads; my body hair is uncommon (pretty much all gay guys are hairless, by choice or no, and it’s so depressing) and it helps sift out the guys I should sleep with from the ones I shouldn’t.  I’ve got thick dark hair that is apparently the envy of all women even though I find it more frustrating than not; I’ve got naturally long hands, perfect for crafting and typing; I’ve got big enough ears to host plenty of piercings (evidently); I’ve got large flat feet that love going outside bare across all terrain and temperature; and I can rock a beard, goatee, scruff, or nothing with equal suaveness.  Yes, my body has flaws; who’s doesn’t?  My body’s awesome.  Thank you, body, for being so awesome and looking so awesome.  Gotta love that Taurus rising, eh?  XOXO, etc.

New Year, New You: Prompt 5, “Enchant”

Last we left off in the NYNY series, I was told to take a break, treat myself to something nice (a bottle of sangria with friends and a new ring), because work had been going on and would continue to go on afterwards.  Deb’s most recent prompt revs things back into place and asks what magical rituals I myself need to do or get started on right now to accomplish my goals.

Now, within the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk of goals, even going back to before the NYNY project started: namely, there’s the Mercury Retrograde post I made in early December with a list of things I wanted to get done by the time the next Mercury retrograde comes around.  Let’s see how we’re doing on those:

  1. Craft the Bhaiṣajyaguru Cane and other minor projects for Christmas: done.
  2. Test drive a 5-week cycle of conjurations of the angels of the planets, the elements, and my nativity: in progress.  I wasn’t able to get my genius conjuration done on New Year’s Day proper, but I’ve done the conjurations of Tzadqiel of Jupiter and my natal genius on Sunday done.  I’ll be getting my conjuration of Kammael of Mars done tonight and Michael of Fire tomorrow, so things look good so far.  Plus, I’m taking advantage of the next three fiery conjurations (Kammael of Mars, Michael of Fire, Michael of the Sun) to consecrate a batch of Fiery Wall of Protection oil; stay tuned for a post on my experiment with this later in January.
  3. Finish crafting and consecrate the Lunar Kamea: done.  I wanted to consecrate this last night during the full moon, but inclement weather stifled those plans.  I did a mini-conjuration of the angels and spirits of the Moon at my altar to compensate.  Since the kamea is powerful just by its construction and by how it was made (entirely on Mondays in lunar hours), this could be considered icing on the cake, but that official mark of angelic approval is nice.
  4. Consecrate a silver ring for use as an astral vortex talisman: begun.  I did a similar thing as the Lunar Kamea project last night with the ring, and am now looking for a kindly friend with a south-facing window to hold onto the kamea and ring for a month while the ring stews in those juicy lights and blessed forces of Luna.
  5. Make Oil of Abramelin: waiting until 1/22 to actually combine the ingredients together, so that way I can start the process of making the oil at the next new moon on 1/23 for a complete lunar cycle.
  6. Redo the Gate of Jupiter rite once Jupiter goes direct again: done last Thursday.  Quite a fancy thing, and it turns out I really like pinot grigio.  A good start, too, to the cycle of conjurations I mentioned above in #2.
  7. Do the Gate of Mars rite, and maybe work on the other gates as well: not yet begun.  Haven’t purchased the other rites yet, waiting on things settling down financially after the holidays for when I spend money on these.
  8. Consecrate the Tarot cards on my Table of Manifestation to act as talismans for the four elemental kings themselves: in progress, as I conjure the elemental kings in my conjuration cycle (see #2).
  9. Working to keep my apartment quiet: great success!  Turns out I never needed anything more magical than a kind letter, and since then, I’ve become friends with the sweetest and foulest-mouthed old lady downstairs, and I’m not hearing her TV at all hours anymore.
  10. Start meditating at least one hour a day: working up to it, bit by bit.  Combining my morning half-hour meditation plus twenty or so minutes after my nightly Headless Rite.  Plus, the Trisagion meditation I mentioned recently is a new trick in my book, too.

All things considered, I’m doing pretty well on those goals.  The next time Mercury goes retrograde is on 3/12, so I’ve got plenty of time left.

As for the NYNY goals laid out before, let’s check in on those.  Granted that these are much longer-term than the ones above, I’m still making progress on them, bit by bit, and will need a bit more discussion.

  1. Finish paying off student loans by end of 2012.  Before I embarked on this quest to pay off $20K in loans within two years of the first bill coming in, I did a reading for myself and had my excellent tarot-reader sister do a reading as well to see if it was viable: yes indeed!  I just need to make sure that I’m not wasting my money on unworthy people (generosity is one of my downfalls, after all).  My first loan is paid, and now the rest need to be focused on.  I had a little extra cash leftover from the holidays, so I’m putting that towards knocking out the next loan.  I’ll be contacting Kammael of Mars (to direct and drive me to finish these loans ASAP) and Tzaphqiel of Saturn (to restrict and cut out any unhealthy or undesirable habits or reasons to spend money otherwise).  I already contacted Tzadqiel of Jupiter last week, asking him to help me out in remaining prosperous and financially sound while I get these loans knocked out, and he seemed to go along well with that idea.  I’ll talk to the other angels as I come across them in my conjuration cycle, and will make that a repeated point of discussion.  So long as I can keep enough money in my checking to make my monthly payments, I’ll be good.
  2. Work in the astral realms.  Performing the Headless Rite in my astral temple is an exercise I’ve sorely needed, since it gives me experience in all sorts of ways.  Plus, I’ve learned from my natal genius that I need much more experience in working astrally before I start exploring and stirring shit up, so he’s offered to help and instruct me in how to work in my astral temple as well.  I had him over in there to oversee my HR performance, and he gave me a few tips for me to work on.  The astral vortex talismanic ring from Fr. RO’s Astral Warrior handbook will take a lunar month to consecrate, but hopefully that will help in forming a more solid link between here and there.  Plus, I started keeping a dream journal recently, which is starting to help with my dream recall and maybe, just maybe, clairvoyance (or at least the recognition of synchronicities).  As a side note, I’ve noticed that the more I go to my astral temple, the more it kinda…I dunno, like it improves in condition; it looked kinda abandoned and overgrown when I first saw it, but it’s looking slightly cleaner and more well-kept the more I visit it.  Interesting.
  3. Strictness with body and life.  Yeah…this is where I’m hitting the most snags.  I am cutting back on excessive eating, which is a good start.  However, I’m trying to maintain my daily practice, which is wonderful since my normal routine is built around that; however, I also tend to say “fuck it” when the weekend comes.  The daily practice needs to stay daily, so I’m going to have to force myself to do this stuff.  Regular activity would be nice if it weren’t so damn cold in the winter, but there are random days that the weather is nice and passable for enduring for an hour or so; I’ll take advantage of those days to walk around the neighborhood, or maybe even down to the fancy old town of where I live to get some delish kabobs.  I finally got rid of Facebook, OkCupid, webcomics, and a bunch of other distractions.  I’m closing the accounts on services I don’t need or use and making myself more free to work (although this sometimes devolves into sitting at the computer talking with friends more).  I’ll talk to the angels of Mars and Saturn to talk about discipline, and it’s probably about time I reconsecrate and chat it up with the spirit of that Saturn talisman I made back in September.

And, after all that, there’s still just a little left over from the first prompt on cleaning house:

  • Reading each day: yeah, not as much yet.  The train ride, dark as it is, inspires me more to sleep from here to DC and back, but I’ll force myself to read more, if not every day.  Besides, I’ve got books I need to get through before I donate them.  My resolve to read is taken up more by resolve to work on other projects, and pleasure reading is currently taking a backseat to that.  Research reading, on the other hand, continues on an as-needed basis.
  • Donate shit I don’t want or need or use anymore.  I’ve been going through my clothes piece by piece and seeing what’s awful or doesn’t fit and setting them in a pile.  Combined with some of the Christmas loot I won’t use, I’ll make a trip at the end of January to a Goodwill or someplace to get rid of all these donatables.  No magic needed beyond putting this on my calendar.
  • Cooking the stuff I have.  In progress; I’m slowly going through the stuff in my pantry.  I’m holding myself back from buying actual groceries until I get rid of the bulk of what I have, which I’ve done before and can easily do again (laziness in going to the store is a good thing).

As for Deb’s other suggestions, my life is pretty awesome.  I’m single and love it (it’s so much simpler, and you can’t be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with), I have no enemies or troublemakers in my life, my friends are awesome, and projects and crafts are falling into my lap merely by talking with people (more on those as they happen).

So, back to Work for me!

New Year, New You: Prompt 3, “Something Put Off”

Okay.  Okay.  I’m back from my ancestral suburban home on the coast and comfortably situated once more in my suburban apartment near DC.  What a trip, let me tell you.  And now that I’m finally getting myself off the holiday chocolate/chowder/booze diet, I’m starting to feel better (read: I can poop again comfortably).  And what a windfall I got from Christmanukkah!  So many books, including a copy of Sefer Ha-Razim (a Jewish third or fourth century text on angelic/Kabbalistic magic), the Picatrix (most important treatise on astrological magic ever), and a variety of other books.  I’ve got plenty to study and apply now, as if I didn’t have enough beforehand.

I intended on fasting between when I got home early Thursday morning and New Year’s, but then I ate a whole pizza, a quarter box of Andes mints; drank a huge can of Monster drink; and porned it up twice.  Pretty sure I hit a snag somewhere, but whatever.  Now I’m getting back on that track.  Really, I mean it.

I also intended on jumping right back into my schedule and daily magical routine I had to forego over the last week due to a lack of privacy and peace at my parents’.  Well, after waking up at 11 yesterday and spending the day eating and getting adjusted to my surroundings again, you can guess how well that went (it didn’t).  Getting back into a routine is difficult, as we’ve all known, especially when it involves prayer and meditation and shit that, though fulfilling and important to any mage or mystic, just aren’t as exciting as the Internet.  I mean, I made a todo list and everything!

Basically me, except with shorter hair. (Much credit and goodwill to Ally at H&aH)

And then nothing happened.  And then yesterday also slipped by with most stuff being put off again, save for the article on geomancy and taking out the trash, and then I went out to a friend’s and had far too much wine and hookah.  So, tonight, I’m ringing in the New Year happily and determinedly, getting off my ass, and stop putting things off.  It fits pretty damn well, actually with Deb’s most recent prompt for the New Year, New You project about stopping putting things off.  However, as there’s not much to write about, the prompt is more of a call for action, i.e. GET OFF YOUR FAT ASS, POLYPHANES, AND DO YOUR SHIT.

Since we’re on the topic, my routine, let me show you it.  It’s enough to keep me in line and isn’t too demanding, and is really more of a good starting point than anything else.

  • Morning routine (roughly 1 to 2 hours)
  1. Writing down dreams
  2. Shower, aspersion with holy water
  3. Prayers to the Almighty
  4. Prayer and offering to my Natal Genius
  5. (Occasional) Prayers and offerings to genii locorum and/or the planeta diei
  6. (As needed) Banishing
  7. Meditation
  • Evening routine (roughly 1 hour)
  1. Headless Rite
  2. Meditation
  3. Thanksgiving and atonement prayers to the Almighty

In addition, I’m joining a small group of working mages that’ll be meeting regularly to discuss and review our own work.  It’ll help keep me in line with a few projects for the coming year, and if this group works out well (I’ve got every hope it will), it’ll be a wonderful tool and resource.  Now that things are settling down again and I have plenty of materia and supplies, I’m starting the year with a few decent projects to give good reports on.

Okay, okay, I’m doing my work now, for real.  I’m preparing for calling a bunch of my friends and having some glasses of champagne and vinho verde (<3 the bubbly) at home once I finish the rounds around my neighborhood: I’m going to make proper offerings to the genii locorum of the land and park where I live, a number of other spirits and gods, the dead at the local graveyard, and to all the memories, egregores, and people who’ve helped me get to where I am.  I made some offering cakes from the book Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris from flour, frankincense, benzoin, rosewater, honey, milk, and olive oil, and I got some good wines and mead to pour out.

Have a good New Years, everyone!  Ring in 2012 right, and have a blast blasting away 2011!  Look good, feel good, do good, and all that other happy bullshit.  Make your play your Work tonight, and have fun!

New Year, New You: Prompt 2, “Goals”

Gotta love the holidays with the family.  Between my largely Jew-ish (emphasis on the “ish”) family from Maine and Boston, my orthodox Jewish brother and his family, my punk astrologer sister and her ska husband, and the histrionic/quasi-stoned mother and stepmother (depending on their moods), it’s a jolly old time.  It’s a good thing there’s a good supply of gin and hookah here with me, but it’s a shame I can’t find enough time or privacy to get meditation in.  Gotta get that changed; I might hit up the Edgar Cayce center in Virginia Beach to see if they have any good books or resources I could use.

So, amid the hectic running around, wrapping, and yelling (and drinking gin, don’t forget the gin), I’m finding time to work on Deb’s most recent New Year, New You prompt, albeit a bit late.  This time, it’s on goals for 2012, those to be accomplished through magical and mundane means, and the steps to get them done.

This is going to be a bit difficult for me, but I like a challenge, so I may as well.  I don’t consider myself very goal-oriented; I focus more on where I am and short-term goals, with few to no overarching or long-term goals.  That said, I do have a few that guide the general practice and course of my life, and I mentioned a few of those in an earlier blog post on the NYNY thread.  These are some of the overarching goals for 2012 and how I’m going to accomplish them using the means available to my disposal.

Finish paying off my student loans by the end of 2012.

  • Make regular payments (increased from my original plan) to make sure I make the deadlines properly.
  • Restrict my spending to make sure I’m not in the red each month after other utilities and bills, and cut down costs where possible; balance spending with particular trips and activities that I intend on going to.
  • Financial magic with the spirits of Jupiter to increase income and make sure I’m comfortable with what I have, as well as grace and good luck with dealing with the collection agencies.
  • Work with Martian spirits to increase my discipline and judgment when it comes to casual spending.
  • Work with Saturnine spirits to fix things in my life to reduce the need or occasions for excessive spending on unnecessary things.

Work in astral realms

  • Research astral projection (RO’s Astral Warrior guide?).
  • Craft astral talisman ring under auspices of Lunar spirits (late January through late February).
  • PRACTICE.  Headless rite every night counts for something, but also should try astrally exploring the places I am on a day-to-day basis when I get time (my house, my office, etc.).
  • Work with planetary spirits in conjurations to build up astral strength with regards to their specialties.

Strictness with my body and life

  • Practice fasting.  I don’t want to be like some ascetic desert guru, but try fasting at least twice a month (new moon and full moon).
  • Actually take Lent seriously and give up a few things (like how I gave up grocery shopping last year, and then continued that until my kitchen was legitimately bare).  This year, try the following: alcohol, meat, gluteny foods, smoking, and probably some social media or other (texting, tweeting, unclear).
  • Restrict diet and activity before conjurations and rituals.
  • Start walking.  Like, take an hour or so every other day just to walk. It’s clearing, helpful, and keeps active, even if I do nothing else.
  • Maintain daily practice, increase prayer and meditation, and regular conjuration schedule.
  • Mars work to increase discipline and toy with the idea of employing geases/bindings on myself to force myself to do these things (unwise, but it’s an idea to be discussed).

From what I know, doing divination readings last year when I started my college loans, there are no roadblocks to my paying off my college loans save for the threat of spending too much money on dates or unworthy partners (fittingly, I’d also be single for the most part of this last and next years).  The other things I want to do are purely on myself and are a matter of dedication and discipline, and from my recent chats with the angelic spirits, it’s a matter only of getting off my ass and doing the work.

Other smaller goals I have are going to Crucible in October, a furry convention in March (friends and relaxing for a weekend, ’cause why not), try non-angelic non-genial (demonic) conjuration, and simply doing more practical magic/crafting/thaumaturgy.  The first two are a matter of prioritizing and allocating money in conjunction with my college loans (Jupiter work); the latter two are a matter of studying, gathering the necessary supplies, and doing the work (Mercury and Saturn work).

New Year, New You: Prompt 1, “Making Way”

So, let’s see.  Deb’s got three things for us to discuss for the New Year New You project for this prompt, so here goes my responses and thoughts.

  • Cleaning house.  My apartment is actually pretty spartan, all things considered; my living room has a coffee table, a side table with a lamp and some plants on it, and a couch, and a low shelf with some bottles of wine on it.  Beyond a series of fliers of Christopher Walken’s face on one of the walls, there’s nothing else in there.  My kitchen is well-stocked on cooking utensils but light on electrical appliances, but everything gets used sufficiently enough to justify keeping it, save for my apple/potato peeler.  My own room is slightly more furnished, but I’ve got a lot of books.  I haven’t read a good deal of them yet but will, one at a time, others I keep for sentimental value or because I like to reread them once every so often, and still others I keep for reference.  If anything, I need another set of bookshelves to store them all, since I also use shelves to store magical materia and tools.  My closet is, understandably, the fullest room in the flat, and is mostly clothes and extra candle holders, crafting supplies, and miscellaneous household goods and fabrics.  I wear all of my clothes tolerably often, but there are a few I know I don’t wear due to size or stains.  My housemate and I are neat freaks and he’s borderline OCD.  I go around cleaning (sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, wiping, sanitizing, etc.) a few times a month, and do the big stuff (tub, sinks, toilets, rails, polish countertops, etc.) at least once a season, and I asperge the house with holy water regularly (but don’t often do protective stuff, just cleansing).  I just reorganized my desk today and got some of the dust off it and my altar nearby, but beyond that, my house is generally very clean.  I have a lot of cooking and magical supplies, but I go through them all periodically and do, in fact, use them all up.  I dislike throwing things out like that, so I make a point of using them however I can (even if it’s ancient but still useful).
  • Spending my time.  I spend about eight hours during the weekdays at work, save for one day a week when I work from home; the commute takes about an hour each way (woo DC transit).  I sleep about six or seven hours a night.  That leaves about seven hours leftover on an average day.  Although I don’t have a smartphone, I do check it habitually for texts and the time; when I’m home, I’m nearly always on my computer on the internet, chatting or reading blogs and cycling through the same few sites laughing at old jokes and reading old texts.  Surprise, the Internet’s a major drain on my time and productivity (something I’ve noticed many times before).  I’m not on too many social networking sites, but the ones that I’m on do distract me aplenty.  Email, too, for that matter.  At least I don’t have a TV to speak of, nor do I play video or computer games anymore.  I go out once or twice a week, usually, to see/hang out/smoke hookah/drink with friends, which can be awfully nice.  I spend at least 45 minutes each morning in daily practice (prayers, offerings, and meditation), and do other things throughout the week as needed.
  • Rocks and restraints.  I usually have a list of my faults on hand, but now that I’m writing this prompt, I have a hard time thinking of what’s actually holding me back from getting shit done.  Personality-wise, I can be lazy, awfully so, in the sake of enjoying what can be enjoyed right now.  I like sleeping in, which can be necessary sometimes when I’m not sleeping enough during the week; I like to eat, which makes fasting for rituals and workings more of a fight with myself than not.  I don’t have an addictive or attached personality, but I know I can be overly critical of others or of minor events that other people can more properly see at a zoomed-out level.  I forgive easily, but have and do avoid people if I dislike them so that I can avoid confronting them.  More than anything else, I like being distracted, though my guilt over not being productive enough afterwards isn’t enough to completely get my ass out of my chair.  Although it’s not exactly a rock here, I like being overgenerous with my time and resources, and like to pay for others or hang out with them for their sake alone.

Based on all the above, I think a suitable list for things to knock off before, or at least get started by, the full moon in late January would look like this:

  • Go through all my clothes, separate out what I don’t/can’t/won’t wear anymore, and donate it.
  • Get rid of all useless candleholders, leftover jars, and other small things in my closet.  Donate the nice ones and recycle the junk.
  • Make Fiery Wall of Protection and Abramelin oils to properly protect my home.
  • Start cooking more beans, rice, and bread to use up those giant bags of them in the kitchen.
  • Get rid of Facebook.  I was going to do this anyway at the end of December, but really, get rid of it.
  • Cut back on txting/tweeting/emailing/chatting, and all non-work non-research computer use.  Clean out the bookmarks list.  Entirely cut out morning internet/phone use, and cut out pre-bed internet/phone use.
  • Switch browsers to something simpler (from Chromium to surf, which doesn’t allow multiple tabs, bookmarks, or much at all).
  • Meditate twice a day, not just once.  I’ve got plenty of time in the evenings.
  • Read a bit each day, both to enjoy my time, learn, and get through my books.