Reviewing and Renewing my Offering to All Spirits

Recently, a friend of mine asked if I could share with him one of my old documents, a digitization of my vademecum that I keep with me as my own personal prayer book and handbook for ritual and ceremony.  I had designs to digitize it and maintain a cleaner, more organized version of it, but I never really got that off the ground.  Still, it did serve as an excellent resource for all the stuff I didn’t want to copy by hand into my vademecum, and I’m glad I kept it up for as long as I did, because I apparently forgot about it sometime in, like, 2014.  It had honestly and completely skipped my mind entirely until my friend reminded me of it, so I dug through my Documents folder and, would you believe it, look at all this awesome stuff I was amassing.  (Including a bunch of recipes that I’m personally thrilled to remember again, thank God and the gods.)

One of the entries in my vademecum is an old prayer I was using at the time for a general offering to the spirits.  Not just for a specific spirit, not for a fill-in-the-blank template, but as an honest offering to all spirits of incense and water.  I wrote about it on my blog back in 2012, and gave my general framework for it then and the prayer as I had it then.  According to what I wrote (you’d be surprised what you forget over six years), at the time I was in the habit of generally making “this offering as the first offering I do after my prayers to the Almighty, so that any other spirit I call upon afterwards can also partake of the offering as they come into the area of the altar”.  I apparently stopped this practice at some point, and six years later, I can certainly recall why and why I might not recommend this practice as commonly or frequent as I once would have.

To start with, this prayer and offering practice was influenced by my friends taking Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery class, who shared some of their tech with me.  (If you noticed similarities between my phrasing of things and the phrasing of Strategic Sorcery offering prayers, well, now you know where it came from.)  Jason Miller talks about why we would make such offerings in a recent post of his on generating sorcerer’s luck, when he specifically talks about making daily and widespread offerings:

Not just to specific spirits, but widespread offerings. We use four classes in Strategic Sorcery, but it is good enough to just make an offering to the spirits of the air, land, and underworld where you live. Pour some libarion, light some incense. Do it every day.  Do. It. Every. Day. Not feeling receptive” today? Not feeling “into it”? Not “in the right headspace”? Do it anyway. It’s not about you.  Take care of the spirits and the spirits will take care of you. Shit will start to work out almost as if the universe is conspiring with you. 1000 unnamed helpers from the land in which you live often outweigh the influence of the Archdemon that you spent 3 hours conjuring.

In a general sense, I agree with Jason, because making offerings is a way to build a relationship with the spirits.  It’s like a quote I shared on my Facebook recently, attributed to the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry: “We offer sacrifices to the gods for three reasons: that we may venerate, that we may give thanks, and that we may implore from them things necessary and avert from ourselves things evil”.  By making offerings to the spirits—light, incense, libation, food, blood, song, art, prayer, energy, what have you—we build a relationship with the spirits we engage with, nourish them, strengthen them, and fortify our connection to them.  It’s a wonderful thing to do, whether you think of yourself as a mage or a priest or just as a spiritually thoughtful and considerate person, no matter where you live or what you do.  By showing respect and offering tribute to the higher entities of the cosmos and nourishment to the lower ones, we build up our spiritual networks that we can call upon for any number of ends.

And yet…well, I can’t help but feel anymore that such general offerings, without some limitation or focus or modification to one’s environments, can just as easily be deleterious to one’s safety and stability, or cause other problems that need to be resolved.  Case in point, in fact the very case that got me to scale back these sorts of offerings to begin with: one time I was making my normal prayers in my old apartment, and…something just felt off.  Not wrong, but like there was something there that shouldn’t be, something there that was stuck awkwardly.  It took me a bit to catch on, but there was a spirit stuck in my window.  Like, not trapped in the windowpane, but a spirit that was stuck half-in half-out through my window, like a big dog that tried to get through too small a pet door.  I was caught off-guard when I turned my gaze towards the poor spirit that got stuck there, and the conversation we had basically clarified what happened: it heard my offering prayer and wanted to partake, but something about the protections I had set up on my property had prevented its access inside, while at the same time it was drawn to partake in the offerings within that same property.  This ended up causing an inadvertent trap for the spirit, and it could neither fully enter nor leave as it had gotten so stuck within the property’s spiritual boundaries.  I ended up punching a hole in the protections to the place, gave it offerings of its own, and sent it on its way, but it got me thinking: in my generosity, I was making a banquet for all sorts of spirits, not all of which would normally be permitted entry to my property given my protections, and yet I wasn’t making the right allowances for them.  On top of that, I was also reminded that for those same spirits who were able to partake, how would I be able to keep my property clean and cleansed, and how could I get those spirits to mosey on out if they got too used to enjoying regular offerings to me, without providing any other benefit?

Consider: our resources, supplies, time, and energy are inherently limited.  We might have access to infinity through whatever choice and selection of divinity we work with and call upon, but our capacity to accept and disperse them is limited.  We only have so many hours in the day, we only have so many cups for offerings, we only have so many sticks of incense we can spare, we only have so much attention we can devote to our necessities and chores and obligations.  There’s also the classical notion that we should always give enough, but not too much, so that we might always have something to give, and indeed, my own practices have long since shifted to making offerings only when necessary, and even then, only making the necessary offerings.  This helps prevent certain spirits from getting spoiled and taking us for granted, and it also helps keep me in check so that I don’t get worn out or resentful from always giving so much for the mere sake of giving.  And even then, not all spirits are worth making offerings to; while all spirits are worthy of existence and respect, just like people are, not every spiritual person needs to truck with every spirit.  Some spirits are harmful for us to work with, and some spirits are just those that offerings shouldn’t be received by our hands; I know that, even despite my own good intentions, some spirits find my mere presence harmful, while they might find the presence of my friend more acceptable and so could more easily accept offerings from them.

I understand Jason’s point of view; after all, he’s very much a tantric sorcerer and Buddhist, and in that system, offerings should be widespread, general, and for all sentient beings in all levels of the world.  Really, the systems of offerings he teaches are a kind of very lite chöd, which is wonderful and easy enough for people to pick up and practice without too much danger, so long as they’re diligent about it (and isn’t that really the whole problem right there?).  But in my worldview and practice, that’s not the case; there are some spirits that we simply don’t have any business dealing with or making offerings to, there are some spirits that take us for granted, and there are some spirits that we’re simply not the best ones to make offerings from them even if they want/need them and even if we want to give it to them.  Rather, it’s generally better to at least have an idea of who it is you’re making offerings to, enter into some sort of relationship with them, and gradually build up to making offerings through completion and fulfillment of vows, making offerings for special occasions, and then if the relationship proves itself to be beneficial for the both of you, then making regular offerings.  But even then, there’s also the risk of attracting spirits that we don’t necessarily want around us after the fact; making general offerings can pick up nasty, unwelcome, or harmful spirits who see the offering as a good free meal and then might help themselves to more without you wanting them to, but hey, you’re the one who invited them to begin with.

By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t making offerings for the benefit of all sentient spirits, or for spirits generally, but what I am saying is that you need to be smart about it.  The way I was doing it was wrong, because it ended up being harmful for some spirits that wanted to partake but couldn’t break through the protections I had on my house properly for such a meal, and I know that others who make such offerings often also pick up unwanted spirits that linger around them and cause them more problems down the line that need to be taken care of through banishing and exorcisms that necessarily are harsher than they otherwise would have been.  You need to be careful when making offerings in such a general, widespread format: you need to make sure the door is open enough for them to enter, you need to make sure you keep yourself clean and your place cleansed, and you need to make sure your guests don’t overstay their welcome.  If you can manage all that, you’re set, but figuring out how to do that is part of the problem, isn’t it?  Truth be told, I can easily pick out what went wrong in my earlier practices, and my own mistakes and missteps.

To that end, I took another look at that old offering prayer of mine.  I like the idea, sentiment, and underlying purpose of it, but now that I’m a little older and a little more experienced and wary, there are some changes I’d make to the thing, including the wording of the prayer itself (my writing skills, I like to think, have improved with time).  So, I made the changes, and I’d like to present my updated prayer and methodology here.  One of the most important changes I made to the prayer was that I stopped beckoning the spirits to come to me, so no more “come, all you spirits” again and again; this prevented a need for spirits to try to come to me or enter into my property, because part of the prayer dedicates the offerings to specifically flow out from their place of offering into the rest of the cosmos, so that really, the offerings would come to them rather than the spirits having to come to the offerings.

For this ritual, you will need a simple cup of clean, fresh water and either one stick or three sticks of some generally-pleasing incense.  The water should be left unmixed with anything, though may be sweetened with a drop of honey or rosewater if truly desired; the cup itself is best one dedicated to spiritual work, and better dedicated solely for this specific kind of general offering, but this is not necessary so long as it’s been cleaned and cleansed after each use.  For incense, frankincense is always a good option, but scents like sandalwood, benzoin, sweet or mild musk, jasmine, rose, amber, and the like are also plenty fine; avoid anything too strong, potent, sharp, bitter, or sour.  Blended incenses are perfect, so long as they’re pleasantly fragrant enough without being overpowering.  You don’t need to use sticks, although I find them convenient; if you prefer to go with loose incense, feel free.  Although I like having a candle burning during all my prayers and spiritual work, with an exorcism and/or blessing said over it, it’s not necessary for this offering, as it’s not something being offered to the spirits themselves, although you may find it helpful just in case.  Other offerings, such as food, flowers, candles, and the like may also be set out, but those are entirely extra and unnecessary.  In this case, it’s better to keep the offering simple, short, and clean.

Ideally, this offering would take place in a neutral area, such as an outdoors place not on your own property, or in a place that is not otherwise bounded by spiritual protections belonging to some specific person or ruling entity.  Ideal places for this would be a park, field, crossroads, beach, or some other place that cannot be said to belong to anyone.  It is inadvisable to perform this offering in a place that is controlled by someone else, such as a sacred precinct, church, a place known to be claimed by a particular divinity or spirit, or someone else’s property.  Otherwise, it may be performed in your own home or on your own property, though you may need to ward and protect yourself accordingly to permit the offering to pass from the property without allowing anything baneful to enter in by the same way.  Depending on how you feel afterwards, you may want to follow up this offering with banishing to make sure nothing sticks around that shouldn’t.

When ready, wash your hands, set the cup of water and the incense out on a clean surface, whether on the ground or on a low table or other elevated surface.  Light the incense and let it begin rising through the air.  Hold your arms out, palms upward and out as in the orans gesture and recite the prayer aloud to the spirits:

Hear me, all you spirits, by whatever name you take, by whatever form you take!
Hear me, all you spirits, before, behind, beside, below, or above me who call you!
Hear me, all you spirits, of the north and the south, of the east and the west!
Hear me, all you spirits, within or above the Heavens, upon or under the Earth!
Hear me, all you spirits, with whom I hold favor or disfavor!
Hear me, all you spirits, who owe me debt or to whom I owe debt!
Here do I call to you, wherever you may be: partake of this my offering!
I dedicate to you now this water and this incense as offerings to you;
I give you these offerings freely and joyfully, and ask that you accept them in the same,
as symbols of my thanks, love, goodwill, honor, respect, trust, and joy for you
for your own benefit and peace, that I too might have benefit and peace.

Dip your fingers of your dominant hand (or the hand you prefer to use to give offerings with) into the water and scatter it around you to your front, back, and either side.  Visualize the water to rise up and flow out from the cup outwards as a constant fountain, especially through and beyond the spiritual boundaries of your own property if it is done there.  Resume the orans gesture, then recite the next part of the prayer:

Accept now this water, fresh, clean, and sweet,
that it may refresh you, cleanse you, and cheer you.
Let this water nourish you how it you need it best,
whether as golden rivers of nectar or as boiling seas of blood.
Let this water swell and surround you and the common ground we share,
that we may understand and console each other, comfort and soothe each other.
Let this water overflow this vessel and wash over all that exists,
reaching the uttermost shores of the cosmos in all directions,
that all spirits may partake of this my offering.

With the same hand as before, place it palm-down in the incense smoke, then lift your hand in one swift motion to draw the smoke upwards, then fan it away from you with the same hand seven times.  Visualize the incense to rise up and fill the entire cosmos with its plumes of pure fragrant smoke, especially through and beyond the spiritual boundaries of your own property if it is done there.  Resume the orans gesture, then recite the next part of the prayer:

Accept now this incense, sacred, whole, and pure,
that it may satisfy you, strengthen you, and fortify you.
Receive this incense as you how you need it best,
whether as abundant forests of fruits or as burning mountains of flesh.
Let this incense rise up and fill your beings, your hearts, and your minds,
that we may understand and know each other, hear and see each other.
Let this incense be compounded upon itself a myriad myriad times,
rising up and filling the entire cosmos with its sweet smoke,
that all spirits may partake of this my offering.

Maintain the orans gesture and conclude the prayer:

If I hold favor with you, then let this offering strengthen us and be a mark of alliance and friendship.
If I hold disfavor with you, then let this offering reconcile us and be an expression of apology to you.
If you owe me debt, then let this offering be a symbol of my faith and trust in you.
If I owe you debt, then let this offering be repayment towards its ultimate fulfillment.
Come and take your fill of these offerings, of this water and of this incense!
As you take your fill of these offerings, remember me who gives them to you!
Let this offering aid you in your work; let this offering sate you and please you!
Let this offering of goodwill be taken in goodwill, of peace in peace, of love in love
for your own benefit and peace, that I too might have benefit and peace.
If you came here to me in peace, so now return to your home in peace;
if you reside peacefully with me, so too abide peacefully with me.
Take your fill of this offering and continue in your work,
in the Holy Light of the Creator of us all.

Let the incense burn out completely; you can enter into a period of contemplation or chanting other prayers, if you want to be present for the rest of the offering, or you may take a brief leave and return later.  Once the incense burns out, the offering may be formally drawn to a close. If possible, scatter the incense ash into the wind and pour out the water onto the ground; if done indoors, these may be disposed of in a trash bin and a sink respectfully.  Resume the orans gesture, then recite the next part of the prayer:

The water I poured for you is drained, the incense I burned for you is spent.
The offering I made for you is given, the offering I made for you is complete.
May this offering be pleasing and fit for all spirits where they are,
that they may be at peace, and be at peace with me.
May no ill-will remain, may no malice remain,
but only peace and peace and peace and peace.
All you spirits who have come to me to partake in this offering,
as you have come in peace, so now go in peace.
Go now with my peace, go now with my blessing, and go now to your work,
in the Holy Light of the Creator of us all.

The offering is complete.

De Regnis: Approaching Spirits, Offerings and Sacrifices, Identification and Authentication

Although most of my writing is visible and accessible through my blog and my ebooks, there are a bunch of writing projects that I don’t necessarily intend for public release.  When I was recently going through my old documents folder on my computer, I found a writing project I had intended to be a compendium of Hermetic and Neoplatonic knowledge, guidance, and advice that would serve to document my understandings and work as a textbook unto itself, both for my benefit and any who might come after me.  This project, De Regnis or “On Kingdoms”, got pretty far along before it got abandoned, though parts of it serve as seeds or are outright cannibalized for some of my other works.  Though I have no plans to continue writing this text, I want to share some of the sections I wrote that can act as a useful introduction to some of the practices of Hermetic magic in a modern context.  My views and practices and experiences have grown considerably since then, but perhaps it can help those who are just getting started or are curious about how to fortify their own practices and views.  If you have any views, comments, suggestions, or ideas on the topics shared in this post, please feel free to share in the comments!

Today’s selection will be on the topics of approaching spirits, offerings and sacrifices to the spirits, and spirit identification and authentication.

On Approaching the Spirits

Respect and permission should be the rule to approach, interact with, and work with spirits. In short, if one respects the spirits, the spirits will respect them. This will not always be the case,of course, especially given some instances of particularly offensive spirits or spirits who have been specifically sent out to cause harm. However, even in these circumstances, working with respect and permission is often better than reckless vitriol and domination.

Respect towards a spirit can be effected in many ways, but generally the Golden Rule applies to spirits just as it would humans and animals. The crucial difference is that things that happen to humans, such as death or disease, do not happen to spirits or happen in ways hard for humans to comprehend. If a spirit reaches out to someone, it suggests that the spirit has learned about the person enough to engage in communication. It is similarly proper for magicians and all spiritual workers to learn about a spirit they wish to contact before trying to make contact. Learn about the tradition the spirit comes from, the languages and prayers and songs used to contact the spirit, the traditional offerings and acceptable sacrifices to be made to them, what the spirit finds appealing or desirable, and so forth. Such learning is a mark of respect to the spirit, which generally makes the spirit more amenable to working with a magician and hearing them out. Similarly, any vows,promises, or offerings made to the spirit should be held and followed through. Contact with the spirit, once made, should be continued in an agreeable time frame such as once a week, once a month, or so; simply dropping off the radar and ignoring the spirit is a mark of disrespect.

Imagine two people approaching a third. One of the two people is someone the third has known for decades, a good friend from youth whom the person knows is honorable and trustworthy. The other person is someone the third has met only yesterday, and though the person may have heard rumors, they are effectively still strangers. If the third person were asked to lend money to each of the others, the person would be more likely to lend money and more of it to the friend rather than the stranger due to the relationship built up between the person and the friend. Likewise, it is important to build up a relationship with the spirits based on respect, honor, trustworthiness,and the like. Although magicians often seek vassals or servant spirits for their work, respectful magicians seek to befriend rather than control spirits, since it provides them with something much more important than a servant: an ally. Servants perform work because they are ordered to; allies perform work because they want to.

Similarly, seeking permission from spirits is important to understand their capabilities and whether a particular action is the best action for all those involved. The notion of license from the spirits is another matter of respect, but also connects to the matter of what one is cosmically allowed to do. Indeed, many matters of trespassing, breaking prohibitions, theft, or similar crimes against spirits and the places and things they hold sacred can easily be avoided or eliminated entirely by asking for permission. Instead of making an adventure through a known haunted forest, ask for permission first to enter; instead of simply taking a pretty stone from an ancient tree, ask for permission to take it; instead of calling on an angel or a god to smite one’s enemies, ask first to see whether they will deign to do so. By acting out of pride and self-importance, magicians often neglect to ask for permission from the spirits and gods of the world. Asking for permission first ensures that we will be held in line according to our station without overstepping the boundaries laid for us or for others.

To ascertain whether one has received permission, always be sure to ask. Either through a simple yes-or-no divination method invoking the spirits or communing with the spirits directly,there are many methods available depending on the spirit to communicate and see whether one should or should not do something. This should not be regulated to every minute and single action, however; not all things require the permission of the spirits, such as brushing one’s teeth or making silent prayers in a particular location. However, anything that might infringe upon the hospitality, respect, and honor of the spirit should be questioned. After building respect and honor with the spirits, some magicians may find that spirits generally or specifically are more inclined togive permission to more things; this is a mark of trust upon the magician, which should be kept sacrosanct and unbroken if possible.

Building respect with one spirit tends to build up respect with many spirits, especially those similar to the ones already respected. Much as humans have their own social networks and cliques,spirits communicate and interact amongst themselves in myriad ways, sometimes as family and sometimes as enemies. Spirits talk, and spirits let other spirits know when a particular human is notable or remarkable for good or for ill. By respecting one spirit, rumors and news of one’s respectability spreads, which makes it easier for spirits to trust them. This also works in the reverse: if one disrespects a spirit or makes vows that are never upheld, other spirits also know about this and may decline to ever work with the magician.

There are times when spirits themselves are unable to uphold the vows and bargains they make, or lie to magicians, or even act offensively against humans and the world. Spirits who habitually lie, deceive, and cause harm should be avoided since they cannot be trusted. Spirits who fail in a single task or are unable to bring results despite a history of having good results should be forgiven and inquired about why they might have failed or how other things might have affected them. Keep in mind that all the rules of respect and permission that apply for a magician towards a spirit also apply for a spirit towards a magician: if one is harmed or acted against without permission given,the harmful spirit should be reprimanded or punished, especially if the harm was caused without prior warning or need. In these cases, it helps to appeal to higher powers, such as patron deities or strong spirit allies, to act on one’s behalf in addition to using one’s own measures to fight against and punish the spirit.

On Offerings and Sacrifices

An important part of building relationships and working with spirits is the process of making offerings, commonly known as sacrifice. In sacrifice, a Latin word meaning “to make holy”, an object, substance, or action is given and dedicated to a spirit; the thing given to them is effectively theirs. The nature of a sacrifice can vary based on tradition, the means of the sacrificer, and the desires of the spirit in question, and can range from a bottle of alcohol to a whole animal roasted in a special fire to a simple song sung in public or private. Games thrown in the honor of a spirit,certain ordeals of the flesh or spirit, whole lands or properties, and poems or books written with a special mention of a spirit can also suffice. The honor given to a spirit can take many forms, and care should be taken that offerings are given properly.

Typically, only deities receive sacrifices, while other spirits are given offerings. Just as the distinction between a deity and a spirit is merely a functional one, so too is the distinction between sacrifices and offerings. Some spirits eschew offerings entirely or find them unusual and unwarranted,such as angels who work merely to carry out the will of the spirit employing them. Other spirits require offerings like payment in exchange for any work to be done. Deities, being worthy of worship and sacrifice, may require or demand sacrifices so as to be worshiped properly.

The first step to learning what to give to a spirit is to learn more about them. Whether one learns about a spirit from old myths or traditional resources involving them or whether one asks the spirit directly, this constitutes an act of respect to further the relationship between somebody and a spirit. After discovering what a spirit generally likes, the sacrificer should ask whether a particular offering is to their tastes. After this, the sacrificer should make or procure the offering and officially dedicate it to the spirit. How this might be done is up to the sacrificer, but is often influenced by tradition and practices made by other institutions or cultural groups. If no such tradition exists or survives, then the sacrificer is more or less free to innovate and create a new ritual to make the offering.

Not all offerings are equally good for all spirits. Some spirits prefer a particular type of alcohol or no alcohol at all; some spirits prefer blood sacrifice of animals or the entire animal itself, while others may prefer bloodless non-animal sacrifices entirely. Such preferences are often deduced from tradition and mythology, but one can always ask the spirit to see whether something is preferred or not. Offering something to a spirit that does not wish that thing offered is often seen as a sign of disrespect, even done unknowingly; an example might be to sacrifice the sacred animal that represents a spirit to the spirit itself. This is similar to giving someone bouquet of flowers grown and pulled from their own garden, though this may not always be the case. Care should always betaken to ensure that a particular sacrifice is both appropriate and desired to a spirit, since a spirit may demand different things depending on the circumstance or aspect of the spirit.

It is important to note that once something has been given to a spirit, it cannot be taken back or simply replaced with something else. The act of dedication, another Latin word meaning“having been given”, is permanent, and it is considered a high offense to steal anything from a spirit; moreover, stealing or removing something that one has already given to a spirit is a dire sign of disrespect and untrustworthiness. Spirits tend to rightfully harm or otherwise punish those who steal from them, even if it was an unknowing act. If anything is to be removed from a spirit’s possession, permission should always be obtained and any conditions the spirits impose on the removal, use, and replacement should be followed through.Despite these warnings, one should not attempt to make needless or extraneous offerings to the spirits. Once accustomed to receiving a certain amount or repetition of offerings, spirits will continue to expect them implicitly; making offerings is a sign of a relationship between magician and spirit, and to overdo it is to raise the relationship to someplace the magician may not want.Giving something extraordinarily rare to a spirit may similarly change the preferences of the spirit to similar things, narrowing the availability of offerings down significantly. Spirits should be given offerings as rewards, while gods should be given sacrifices as due honor. Even the devout warriors of ancient Sparta made comparatively meager sacrifices to their gods so that they would always have something to offer, in stark comparison to the lavish Athenians who gave bombastic offerings and rituals.

On Spirit Identification and Authentication

Unlike humans, whose appearance and identification others can immediately verify based on sight and appearance, spirits require refined technique and discernment to understand who and what they might actually be. Calling upon a spirit can be a dangerous act in its own way, since it can attract the attention of any local spirit who happens to hear the call, and not all spirits have the best intention of the caller at heart. Just as human systems for communication, commerce,and intelligence have systems of protection and authentication set up to prevent undesired or unwarranted access, working with the spirits should be similarly protected to prevent undesired spirits from interfering.

Every spirit has two primary markers of identification: a name and a seal. The seal is essentially the sigil, mark, or glyph that represents the spirit. The two form a pair, and are identical with the spirit in every way. In other words, where the name is spoken or seal is written, the spirit itself is there as well. The name and seal of a spirit may be considered the audible and graphical “bodies”of a spirit, much as their presence may be considered their ethereal one. A spirit may have multiple names and seals, but only one name and one seal will ever be the spirit’s true name and seal. With the knowledge of a spirit’s name and seal, the spirit may be called upon and worked with, even to the point of commanding and controlling the spirit. Although many texts, including this one, list the names and seals of some spirits, other spirits may have another preferred name or seal entirely different from the one publicly known.

Knowledge of the spirit’s name and seal is crucial to ensuring that a spirit being worked with is the spirit called upon. In some cases, trickster or deceiving spirits will try to fool a magician into thinking that the spirit is someone else, either for harmless fun or for malicious intent. Although work at properly consecrated or dedicated altars, especially those for deities, tends to permit only the proper spirits called due to the consecration and sacredness of the altar, other work can some-times bring in wandering spirits or tricksters. In such cases, every spirit worked with must undergo authentication to truly know whether a spirit present is the spirit desired. Calling on the spirit to swear by some holy order or name of the Divine that they are who they say they are is a crucial act that should precede any other work or communion with a spirit. Have the spirit say its name and reveal its seal, or have them swear by the seal known to the magician that their own seal is the seal known. By doing this, one can reduce the likelihood of undesired spirits and tricksters. Although some spirits may take offense at having to undergo authentication, spiritual allies tend to understand why this is done.

The first act of working with a new spirit should be to obtain its name and seal. If the name is not known, the name should be asked for and written down; often, the language or writing system used to write the name is a choice left up to the magician, but this should be carefully selected and kept consistent throughout working with a spirit. Thus, if a spirit’s name is written in Hebrew, it should be written in Hebrew for the rest of the work with the spirit. Based on the name, a sigil maybe obtained as might any other word or name, but often the spirit has a separate seal that they prefer over the use of a sigil. In addition to asking for the spirit’s name, the seal of the spirit should also be obtained, with the image mentally or otherwise received used for as long as one works with the spirit. Some spirits have their names and seals change over time, similar to their appearance or manifestations, though this usually only happens for elemental or other low spirits. Thus, then name and seal should be reevaluated for use every so often according to the work with the spirit, especially if one has not engaged in work with the spirit in some time.

On Psychometry, A Most Necessary Beginner Practice

Recently, someone came to me asking for a bit of help in contacting spirits.  This is one of the most concerning and troubling issues that most newbies and otherwise new practitioners to magical practices have, when you’re trying to contact spirits in some way and you just…aren’t getting anything.  Not just in conjuration, mind you, but any sort of spiritual contact: conversations, messages, dreams, hunches, tugs, any sort of signal that the spirits are listening to you and trying to talk to you as well.  Unless you’re naturally inclined to receive that sort of information, it’s not something that many people are just going to up and take to without some sort of practice or other means to “open your eyes”, so to speak.

When working with spirits for the first time, the best way to start is to just do the damn thing.  Go to their shrine, or build one for them yourself; light a candle and incense, make an offering of water or wine, say a prayer; time your work along planetary days and hours, lunar phases and mansions, or just whenever you feel like it.  However you want to do, just do the damn thing, sit down with your spirits, and have a chat, just like you would someone at a dinner table.  Use your actual words spoken aloud, not just said quietly in your head but loud enough for someone across a table to hear you.  From there, it’s just building up a relationship with your spirits, learning more about them, having them learn more about you, getting used to each others’ presences, and so forth.  But all of that can only work if there’s the possibility for such conversations to go both ways; it does neither you nor them much good if you’re the one doing all the talking and none of the listening, and I don’t mean just trying to shut the spirits down and drown them out.  If you can’t hear them talking back to you, then you’re not going to get anything useful done except by chance and hoping.  Without being able to hear what they have to say, you miss out on their advice, their needs, their wants, their stories, and their options for advancement for both themselves and yourself.

Being able to perceive spiritual information is crucial in building up spiritual relationships as well as interacting with and managing spiritual forces, so if you can’t perceive them, you’re not going to get particularly far in magic.  It’d be like trying to do intensive, deep-space astronomy without a telescope or cellular biology without a microscope: if you don’t have the means to perceive the information you need to process, you can’t process the information.  Unlike material sciences, however, the spiritual sciences don’t require tools as much as it does simple practice.  In a word, the practice and techniques of spiritual perception can be called psychometry, literally “soul-measuring”, but metaphorically “reading” the vibes, emotions, energies, and spirits of objects and places, whether animate or inanimate.

Some of the more advanced, wizened, or experienced practitioners out there reading this post may roll their eyes, thinking psychometry to be more entertainment and parlour trick than an actual spiritual practice or useful technique, but hear me out!  It’s precisely because it’s such a basic, parlour trick type of thing that it’s exactly why I recommend it as a spiritual practice for beginners.  It’s true that, once you start getting into some of the more meatier, esoteric types of practices that the excitement and on-its-own for-its-own-purpose of practicing psychometry quickly fades away, but it never goes away entirely.  Rather, once you get more advanced, you’ll likely think of psychometry like how you think of learning how to write or do basic arithmetic in elementary school: simple practices that, as adults, we never even think twice about because they’re so fundamental to so many things we do on a constant, ongoing, everyday basis, but are still fundamental and important all the same.  Psychometry is the practice of, and more importantly the acclimation to, spiritual perception; once you learn how to do it, it’s not the fact that you can spiritually perceive things becomes the focus of the work, but what it is that you can spiritually perceive.

I remember that it was my amazing sister (pole-dancer, Tarot-reader, astrologer, human designer, Tibetan Buddhist, chaos magician) who first introduced me to the notion and terms for psychometry itself.  She basically gave me a task: she took off one of her many rings, gave it to me to hold in my submissive hand, and told me simply to “tell me what you ‘get’ off this”.  That was it, so I…well, literally “put my mind to it”, focused my awareness on the ring in my hand, and…nothing.  I didn’t know what to do.  So my sister gave me one piece of advice that, I swear by all the gods above and below, has stuck with me in every single magical practice to this day:

“It’ll feel like you’re making it up, but you’re not.  Just do it.”

It’s another variant on “act as if ye have faith and faith shall be given unto you” or, in simpler terms, “fake it until you make it”, except that you’re not really faking it.  It just feels like you are, when you aren’t.

The idea behind psychometry is that you’re trying to perceive information through spiritual impressions, sometimes through physical contact but sometimes not.  You have to have an external source for it, and you have to be able to recognize it as external.  It’s like sight: you can’t see the light inside your eyes, because there’s nothing to see inside your eyes, but instead you perceive the light coming into your eyes from outside.  Same thing with hearing: you can’t hear what’s inside your ears, but the vibrations in the air that come into them.  Same thing with taste: you don’t taste your own tongue, but the sensations, flavors, and textures that come in contact with it.  The same thing goes for psychometry: you’re not trying to perceive your own psyche, but the psyche of things you’re reaching out to perceive.   The thing is, though, that this is a nonphysical process; unlike sight or hearing or taste, all this takes place strictly within the head for direct processing as opposed through a physical sense organ, and if you’re not accustomed to doing this, you don’t know what it is inside your head to process.

Our head is full of thoughts, images, ideas, dreams, and gods-know-what-else, but it’s important to remember that, unless you’re fully, totally, completely cut off from everything, whether by accident or by design, there is going to be a mixture of “your own stuff” and “other stuff that isn’t yours” in your head.  Knowing what’s what is the key to recognizing spiritual impressions; if you know that something isn’t coming from your end, but it’s still in your head all the same, then that means that it’s something coming into your head as an impression, information, message, or clue that something spiritual is happening and your head is trying to process it.  Most people in our modern world, however, don’t know how to make this distinction, and wrongly think that everything in their head is their own thoughts.  It really isn’t, but learning how to distinguish between what thoughts are yours and what thoughts aren’t can be difficult.  Meditation certainly helps with this, both for the ability to be aware of the thoughts that arise in your head (whether your own or not) as well as picking up on the patterns of your own cognition.  For instance, as you begin to pick up on your own thought-patterns, you’ll have a sense of “where” your own thoughts come up in your head, “where” your own head-voice talks from, what your own thoughts “feel” like as they arise and dissipate, what the tracks of your trains of thought “feel” like as you latch yourself onto them, and so forth.  When you feel a thought or voice that comes from an entirely different, unusual, or distinctly weird part of your head, there’s a damn high likelihood that that’s not you, but spiritual information coming in to be processed.  That’s all spiritual perception is: picking up on the thoughts and sensations, the images and emotions arising in your head not your own.

That’s what my sister meant when she said that “it’ll feel like you’re making it up, but you’re not”.

So I tried psychometry again on the ring she gave me, and rather than putting all my awareness on the ring itself, I simply relaxed and let myself connect with the ring, and let myself be aware of what was happening in my head.  I saw an image of my sister sitting at…a desk, in a bland, pale white room with a delicately messy bed in it, opposite the window with the blinds let down to block out the sunlight, with the lamp on her desk on, with her looking down at the desk with a focused, almost frustrated look on her face, her hand supporting her forehead.  I…felt like I was trying to come up with an image wherein she would be using the ring, like I was inventing a scene for this thing, but it…it didn’t feel like I was at the same time, because the thoughts didn’t feel like they arose in the same way as if I were actively imagining something on my own.  Saying this, both the scene I saw and my feelings about how it felt, my sister cheered me on; not only did I accurately describe her bedroom and workspace and how she often works when she’s writing or taking down notes, but I picked up on the key to distinguish exactly what she meant by her advice.

Starting from this, I practiced psychometry every now and again, sometimes asking a friend for their keys they always had on them, or holding their cell phone they’d often use for business, or picking up discarded pieces of jewelry on college streets after a weekend of partying.  Yeah, I definitely used it as a parlour trick to spook and impress my friends, but it served as an excellent way of validating that I’m actually Doing Something, and that I’m Doing Something Right; that sort of validation is huge to reinforce that you actually do have the skill and are able to perceive things spiritually.  Not only that, however, but when I spoke to my sister about how things felt and the types of images I got, I learned something equally as important: not everyone picks up on the same things the same way.  For instance, I get better spiritual information through psychometry about the context, the activities people do and where they do them, while my sister gets more about emotions and things spoken.  At some level, what we’re picking up on becomes equivalent, it’s just that we’re taking different routes and approaches to get there.

Another thing to bear in mind, though, is that not everyone perceives information the same way, either.  For instance, it’s common to say that we “see” something spiritually, but note how we’re using a physical sense to act as a metaphor.  For most people, it’s not really a metaphor; they actually are interpreting spiritual information through sight, or at least through visual imagery in their head.  However, not everyone is gifted with spiritual “sight”, but instead have another go-to sense.  Some people are better at spiritual “hearing”, others sensations of smells or pressure or temperature changes.  For myself, my main spiritual go-to sense is taste; information comes across most immediately and most naturally to me through sensations of flavor, texture, mouthfeel, and heaviness just like I would be tasting food or waste.  In some cases, this comes across in physical reactions or reflexes; I might lick the roof of my mouth or my teeth if something “feels” sticky, or I might retract my tongue if something “feels” sharp or bitter.  I get a literal “taste” for how people feel spiritually, and can evaluate their physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health through how sour, bitter, salty, sweet, savory, gritty, smooth, spiky, fresh, or rotten they “taste” to me.

I know that I’m kind of an oddball in that regard, but it goes to show that if you’re failing at “seeing” stuff in your head, don’t despair!  Consider that you have so many other senses to rely on: hearing, taste, smell, pressure, temperature, movement, and so forth.  Any one or more of these might be how your head processes spiritual information first: perceive first with what’s strongest, then use that information to “translate” it into something more complete.  For instance, if I take a look at someone and find that they taste “unpleasantly sour”, like an old lemon that’s been left ripped open overnight in the fridge, I’ll let my tongue roll around in my mouth and weigh how that feels, and how it reacts to my own body and my own notion of what people should “taste” like; it processes in such a way that, to me, it smacks of dehydration, unresolved anger or emotional baggage, a bit of fatigue, wanting to be left alone, stress leading to the beginnings of physical problems, not taking care of themselves properly, and so forth.  Once I get that basic set of information, I can then put it through my spiritual “translation” process of sight, hearing, and so forth to get a complete mental/spiritual image of the person that goes well paste how they taste.  So, just remember: if everyone else is saying “see”, for you it might be “hear”.  Don’t consider it a failing; consider it something to work on eventually while you rely on what’s strongest for you to do the same damn thing.

With that, that’s basically…yeah, that’s basically psychometry in a nutshell.  As for developing further psychometry skills, start with small objects, trinkets and jewelry and charms and keys, then slowly work your way up to bigger things, like pieces of furniture, computers, cars, houses, trees, boulders, mountains, plots of land.  Work at first by using your submissive hand to take in the information, then work with both hands, then either hand, then eventually no hands at all.  Work with friends and people you trust to get validation on what it is you perceive.  Meditate frequently to keep your mind strong and aware of thought-arisings, thought-dissipatings, thought-locations, thought-feels, and thought-patterns.  Try to expand your awareness to multiple things around you at once, try to sense connections between closely-related things, try to perceive an entire area at once, try to perceive things continuously, try to perceive things at a distance.  Being able to do these things is practice for dealing with spirits and energies that can’t be dealt with except through what is essentially applied psychometry.  Over time, psychometry will develop itself and cease to be its own thing, just like how writing or arithmetic used to be something you had to learn on its own, but now it’s just something you do as part of everything else.

It’s often asked by beginners whether there are any resources or books you could get to help with learning psychometry.  I mean…I guess?  Maybe under that name, even?  But I would ask, why bother?  It’s such a simple thing that I’ve done my best, and I think I’ve succeeded, in encapsulating in this simple post.  You can read about it all you want, but again, it’s such a basic and simple thing that all you need is practice, practice, practice.  Unless you’re naturally inclined or gifted to picking up and verbalizing such things, there’s nothing you can do to learn psychometry, or any method of spiritual perception, except to simply practice it and keep doing it.  You might get the information you’re supposed to get on the first go, or it might take you a dozen or three times.  Keep trying it.  You’ll get it, I promise.

It’ll feel like you’re making it up, but you’re not.

Give for what you get.

No, friends, I’m not dead, nor have I hung up my robes.  Metaphorically speaking, I mean; I hang them up after every ritual, and even on occasion get them dry-cleaned.  But no, I’m still here.  I haven’t been writing much on magic because I haven’t been doing much with magic, and from what I gather, that seems to be a fairly common thing these past few months with a lot of the magicians I know.  Whether it’s a matter of collective and communal burnout or fatigue or just something in the stars affecting large swathes of occultists is beyond me, but I do feel bad all the same.  I feel disrespectful towards my spirits, towards my practices and traditions, and towards my teachers that I’ve been doing so little this year.  I am making an effort, however, to get back up and running; baby steps first, though, and slow work is in the foreseeable future for the time being.

That said, I haven’t been completely inactive.

A while back, about two months tops (time doesn’t really register between awake-time and sleep-time during the summer), a new job opening was posted in my office.  I applied, since it’s an increase of pay and rank, and I figured I had nothing to lose.  A few weeks later, I interviewed with three managers, one of them being my current manager; I had thought before that it was just an opening in the current office and branch where I currently work, but it turns out that it was similar openings in three different offices handling completely different programs.  Last week, I was offered the job I applied for, and I accepted it earlier this week.  Thing was, the job I got wasn’t the one I expected; I expected it to be in my branch, but the one I got was in a different branch.  Funnily enough, it’s the other branch and manager that interviewed me five years ago when I got my current job, and I turned her down then in favor of my current manager.

I asked my spirits to help out along this whole thing, and I reminded myself of a very important aspect in working with spirits directly.  I’m used to simply calling on favors after making regular offerings and building a relationship, but not all spirits (especially ones you only introduced to your household earlier this year) operate on that kind of practice.  I called on some of my spirits to open the ways and help me out through this job application process, and they did, right up through the time I got the job offer.  However, because I got a job offer from a source I didn’t expect, I held off on accepting it until I ascertained whether it was really the one they had helped with.  To that end, I had three divination readings done: one directly consulting the spirits who were helping, one with geomancy on whether I should take the job, and one done by a friend.

The first reading I did was with the spirits, and the interchange went something like this:

  • Should I take the job offer I was extended?  “Nope.”
  • …uh…just to make sure I got that clear, should I not take the job offer? “That’s correct.”
  • …this is the job you guys helped me out with in the application and interview, right? “Yup!”
  • And this is the job I asked for?  “Mmhm!”
  • And I should not take the job offer?  “You got it.”
  • …okay, then.  Anything else I should be aware of?  “Nah, you got it.”

Admittedly, I didn’t feel like the reading was complete when I closed it after that final question, and there was an air of…sarcasm, an aura of a smirking child hiding something politely over the place where I consulted the spirit.  Needless to say, I was confused, since my gut and my intellect were both telling me to take the job.  Additionally, my geomancy reading strongly and favorably confirmed that I should take the job; to check that reading, I did an inverse reading (“should I not take the job offer”) which was thoroughly denied with geomancy.  And, add to it all, the reading my friend graciously performed for me again verified that I should take the job I was extended.

So here I was, faced with conflicting and confusing information.  Happily, I wasn’t embarrassed as a diviner when it came to these answers, since the readings were all completely correct and valid.  It wasn’t a problem with the divination, but with how I approached the spirits themselves; it was another friend who pointed out to me that, yes, this particular kind of spirit can be very sarcastic when he replies; there was definitely more to the story than I was guessing at.  Worse, I realized that throughout the whole process of this, I asked for help but never extended anything in return for getting the spirit’s help.

Herp derp.  That’d’ve been my issue right there: you can’t get something for nothing, after all.  Regular offerings are good because the spirits and gods deserve them as spirits and gods, but a bit of rum or wine here and there doesn’t always translate to payment when it comes to real work being done.  For some spirits, that method works, but not so with this one.  I went back and consulted the spirit again, and confirmed that, yeah, they gave me all this help that I asked for, but weren’t about to give me the all-clear until I had promised at least something in return.  I checked out what they wanted (nothing much, nothing unexpected, but all worth it in the end), confirmed that they wanted it in exchange for this, and that in doing so they gave me the all-clear I was after and much more favorably than before.  No lingering smirks in the air this time, but broad smiles.  So I went ahead, finally accepted the offer, made a beeline for the local store, and got exactly what the spirits asked for.  Everybody’s content, especially me.

So what’s the moral of the story here?  Simple: you can’t get something for nothing.  Building up a relationship is one thing, and if you get to the point with a spirit where you can call on them for favors without promising or vowing anything, awesome!  That’s the exception to the rule, however, and the rule is that for everything you ask, you make a payment.  If the spirit doesn’t come through, don’t pay them, and figure out what happened along the way; if the spirit comes through, you should, too, and fulfill your end of the bargain.  Even if it’s something innocuous, if you want the spirits’ help, you give them something in return for it.  It could be just for their mere pleasure, or it could be to sustain them throughout the work, but something should be given regardless.  If a car can’t drive on an empty tank, or if a man can’t work on an empty wallet, then a spirit can’t work on an empty plate, either.

Lunar Grammatomantic Ritual Calendar

About a year ago, I first encountered grammatomancy, the Greek alphabet oracle, and just took it and ran with it.  I do a Daily Grammatomancy on Facebook and Twitter (or, at least, mostly daily, excepting days I’m off work or am not up for it), and I’ve even written an ebook on the topic that correlates the Greek letters to the different forces of astrology, the Greek gods, the angels, and many others.  Later on last year, based on my inspiration with my daily grammatomancy reading and watching a friend use the Mayan calender system for divination, I toyed around with the idea of applying the Greek alphabet oracle to a calendrical system of its own, making two variants:

Of the two, the lunisolar one is the more easily approachable and immediately recognizable as a calendar that the ancients might conceivably have used, especially when considered against the highly mathematical and rigorous solar variant.  Of course, the ancient Greeks had their own calendars, with the ritual ones largely based on the cycle of the Moon, so it made sense for me to base my lunisolar grammatomantic calendar on such a system, and given that the most data we have on such calendars comes from Athens and Attic culture, I based my calendar on the Attic lunar festival calendar.  The Attic calendar had several feasts and ritual days scattered throughout the month based on the myths of the gods, such as Hermes on the fourth day of the month, Apollo on the seventh, and so forth.  By straightforwardly connecting the letters of the Greek alphabet in my lunisolar grammatomantic calendar to the lunar festival calendar of Attica, we get something like the following:

Day
Name
Letter
Festival
1
New Moon
Α
Noumenia
2
2nd rising
Β
Agathos Daimon
3
3rd rising
Γ
Athena
4
4th rising
Δ
Heracles, Hermes, Aphrodite, Eros
5
5th rising
Ε
6
6th rising
Ϝ
Artemis
7
7th rising
Ζ
Apollo
8
8th rising
Η
Poseidon, Theseus
9
9th rising
Θ
10
10th rising
11
11th
Ι
12
12th
Κ
13
13th
Λ
14
14th
Μ
15
15th
Ν
16
16th
Ξ
Full Moon
17
17th
Ο
18
18th
Π
19
19th
Ϙ
20
earlier 10th
21
later 10th
Ρ
22
9th waning
Σ
23
8th waning
Τ
24
7th waning
Υ
25
6th waning
Φ
26
5th waning
Χ
27
4th waning
Ψ
28
3rd waning
Ω
29
2nd waning
Ϡ
Omitted in hollow months
30
Old and New
— (Ϡ if hollow month)

Pretty simple.  A civilized calendar for a more civilized age, I suppose, but it’s a little lacking for me.  I mean, it clusters most observances in the first week or so of the month with little to do later, and most of the gods and heroes it includes I simply…don’t work with.  I mean, my practice is going to necessarily be different than those of the classical Athenians even if I base some of my work off them, so it makes sense.  I recall Sannion developing his own calendar and observance cycle based on his own practice in the vein of a new system, which I believe (though he can correct me if I’m wrong) he’s using for his Thiasos of the Starry Bull; making a ritual calendar fine-tuned to one’s own practice, I believe, is a helpful thing indeed, and a few stray comments on Twitter inspired me to take a closer look at my own calendrical observances and system.  I mean, I have a ritual schedule in place, though it’s also all over the place, with daily, weekly, monthly, lunar-monthly, yearly, seasonal, and astrological observances, and honestly, it’s a mess.  Add to it, my day-to-day life with offices and commuting and aikido classes takes up a significantly large chunk of my time, and it’s not always possible to follow through with the plans I set for myself at the beginning of the year based on what else I need to do and how much sleep I can get (which is, as ever, not enough).

In my ebook on grammatomancy, I linked the letters of the Greek alphabet to the various gods of Greek religion based on their stoicheic correspondences of the elements, planets, and signs.  And since I also linked the letters to the days of the lunar month, it makes sense that I could link the gods to the days of the lunar month, as well.  However, so that it could suffice for me as a proper lunar grammatomantic ritual calendar, I also wanted to add in things specific to my practice or modern practice, such as a day to venerate the ancestors and mighty dead, a day to celebrate other forces that aren’t specifically gods, and the like.

  • For any given letter and its singular stoicheic correspondence, there are usually multiple gods that correspond to it; for instance, Khi, associated with Fire, can be attributed to Rhea, Hephaistos, Hekate, or Hestia equally well.  I associate each day with one god, perhaps with a closely-associated figure, such as Hermes with his son Pan, or a group of gods or spirits as a class.
  • Some of the days of the month are significant purely for their lunar symbolism, such as the dates of the New Moon, Dark Moon, and Full Moon.  Other rituals happen on these dates, but are not specifically nor necessarily associated with the celebration of a particular god.
  • Days of the month that have no letters associated with them (days 10, 20, and the final day in full months) have no rituals associated with them.  No letter, no stoicheia, no gods, no ritual.  These are basically dedicated break days, a kind of sabbath, or they can be used to clean up offerings and rituals from the preceding decade of days or prepare for the next.
  • Three days of the month (days 6, 19, and 29) are given the obsolete Greek letters Digamma, Qoppa, and Sampi.  These letters have no stoicheic correspondence, nor do they have any gods associated with them.  Since they were pirits of light, shadow, and the starsonce used and inherited from the Phoenicians, however, while they may be effectively missing from use, they’re not forgotten.  I’ve given these days to the ancestors, whom I divide into three groups: Ancestors of Kin (those related by name, family, marriage, and blood), of Faith (those of spiritual lineage, teachers, prophets, and tradition founders), and of the Great (culture heroes, saints, and other great people whose work has benefited our lives).
  • Although it might be expected that the seven days that have the seven vowels associated to them (days 1, 5, 8, 11, 17, 24, and 28) would be given to the gods that equate to the planets (such as Hermes for Epsilon on day 5), I normally invoke and make offerings to the planets on their corresponding days of the week (which is an unrelated cycle to this calendar).  Instead, I mark these days by honoring a set of powers I call “Guardians of the Directions”, kinda like Watchtowers of Enochiana or Archangels in the LBRP, but associated with the seven directions (east, south, west, north, above, center, below).  These are from my PGM explorations and daily energy work, which I’ve mentioned before, but they’re quite powerful forces in their own rights.  The Guardian at the center I associate with the word of power ΜΑΛΠΑΡΤΑΛΧΩ, or “MALPARTALKHŌ”, a word I’ve received for this direction when I don’t want to use my own Agathodaimon/HGA name, though it refers to the Agathodaimon generally.  These forces are closer to the earth than some of the other gods, and certainly closer than the seven planets, yet still distinct from the world itself and its own sets of spirits.  Their letter correspondences come from the directions one faces when working with the powers of the seven planets, themselves associated with the seven vowels, according to a ritual from the PGM that I’ve adapted to my own uses.  These seven powers, as the seven planets or seven archangels, form a synaxis, a coherent and unified group, that work together, so I figured I should recognize them and elaborate on their places in my life a little more than I do currently.  Sets of gnostic aeons, the seven planets as gods in their own rights (perhaps as titans?), the seven Sages of Greece, or similar entities might similarly be worshipped on these days, but I figure that the Guardians are good for now.
  • Although I tried to keep the five elemental letters associated with things close to their elements, these are basically the catch-all days for groups of spirits or deities, with the exception of Psi, given to Dionysus, since Psi’s associated stoicheion is spirit, not quite an element but not quite a celestial force, either, perfect for the god as I see it.
Day
Name
Letter
Festival
1
New Moon
Noumenia
Α
Erbeth
2
2nd rising
Β
Athena
Nike
3
3rd rising
Γ
Aphrodite
Eros
4
4th rising
Δ
Apollo
Asklepios
5
5th rising
Ε
Lerthexanax
6
6th rising
Ϝ
Ancestors of Kin
7
7th rising
Ζ
Hermes
Pan
8
8th rising
Η
Ablanathanalba
9
9th rising
Θ
Gaia and Oceanos
Spirits of land and water
10
10th rising
11
11th
Ι
Sesengenbarpharanges
12
12th
Κ
Zeus
Tykhe
13
13th
Λ
Demeter
14
14th
Μ
Hephaistos
15
15th
Ν
Ares
16
16th
Full Moon
Ξ
Persephone
Hades
17
17th
Ο
Damnameneus
18
18th
Π
Artemis
19
19th
Ϙ
Ancestors of Faith
20
earlier 10th
21
later 10th
Ρ
Hestia
Spirits of house and home
22
9th waning
Σ
Hera
23
8th waning
Τ
Poseidon
24
7th waning
Υ
Agathodaimon
25
6th waning
Φ
Nine Muses
Three Graces
26
5th waning
Χ
Hekate
Three Moirai
Three Erinyes
27
4th waning
Ψ
Dionysus
28
3rd waning
Ω
Akrammakhamarei
29
2nd waning
Ϡ
Ancestors of the Great
(day omitted in hollow months)
30
Old and New
Dark Moon

(Ϡ if hollow month)

(Ancestors of the Great if hollow month)

So, as a ritual calendar, that’s not too shabby.  It’s busy looking, of course, and if I were to give timai (honor, worship, service, etc.) to all the gods and spirits here listed, I’d be wrecking myself with overwork and more wine poured out than I could afford.  Happily for my health, that’s not the case, since I don’t give timai to all the gods.  I only wanted to show what a full ritual calendar made for my practice might look like theoretically; in practice, I’d make services only for those deities and spirits I work with or involve in my life.  This isn’t to say I don’t respect, say, Artemis or Ares, but I don’t involve them in my life as much as a hunter or a warrior would.  Plus, if I started working with a new god in this scheme, I’d already have a day allotted for them instead of having to cram them haphazardly into my schedule, which is my current MO and not a very good one at that.

So, given this schema, I’d be doing my daily offerings to the angels and planets as usual.  I’d be making offerings to the ancestors three days of the lunar month, plus the seven Guardians of the Directions; I’d also be making offerings to Hermes, Asklepios, and Dionysus as I do now, and I plan on working Aphrodite, Hestia, and Hephaistos into my routine.  At a minimum, then, I’d be making these special offerings 16 days of the 29- or 30-day lunar month, which’d increase to 21 days if I also include offerings to some of the other deities I’d like to work with once in a while: Zeus, the Muses and Graces, Hekate with the Erinyes and Moirai, Persephone and Hades, and the spirits of land and water.  It’d be a busy schedule, granted, but at least I’d have a good schedule to work with the gods in, and I could give them the time they need alone and separate from the others instead of being crammed in with a bunch of spirits on a Monday night after groceries when I have time.

The schema would indicate I’m focused on the Olympian gods in my worship, but that’s not entirely true; I only work with a handful of them, and their associations come from their links to the signs of the Zodiac, which I’ve associated with the “simple” consonants of the Greek alphabet (those except for Theta, Ksi, Phi, Khi, and Psi).  If a particular god, deity, or spirit has some sort of connection to one of these gods, or if they fall under the same realm, I might use the Greek grammatomantic day above to work with them if I can.  Also, of course, this only would be used for routine regular offerings, like what I do currently.  Yearly festivals, special observances, and the like are on their own cycle; the yearly Hermaia would still be kept on the fourth day of the tenth lunar month after the summer solstice, for instance, and so that would coincide technically with that month’s Apollo/Asklepios offerings.  Plus, I’d keep this system separate from the weekdays, which I use to work with the angels, saints, and other spirits that aren’t like the Greek gods or Hermetic ideas.

And, if I really wanted to get crazy with this, I could even tune this schedule into a straight 24-cycle of gods to worship all within a single day.  By taking a page out from my solar grammatomantic calendar idea, we can associate each of the 24 hours (diurnal and nocturnal as unequal hours, just like with the planetary hours, starting at dawn) with one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet, omitting the three obsolete letters of the alphabet.  Each hour could be given to one of the gods in a sequence, allowing for an intense full day of worship and rituals to honor all the gods and forces of the cosmos.  So, starting with Alpha at dawn, we’d honor Erbeth, then Athena, then Aphrodite, then Apollo, and so forth until the hour just before dawn the next day with Akrammakhamarei.  The ancestors wouldn’t be explicitly honored, but as they’re always with us and living through and by us, they’re already involved in every ritual, anyway.  This would be an intense working, though not one I’d likely perform for a while, and is mostly just a thought to toy with at the moment.

What about you?  Do you use a kind of ritual calendar to schedule or arrange observances and worship in your own practice?  Do you prefer to just go to the gods as needed or as felt?  Do you schedule things by the week, month, year, or at all?  Share your practices in the comments!

Search Term Shoot Back, October 2013

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 October 2013.

“satanic pagan ritual altars instruction offerings halloween” — I’m kinda insulted by this query for a number of reasons, not least that it somehow directed someone to my blog.  I’m guessing that the person who searched for this was around 12 years old, to boot.  Just…ugh.

“satanic ritual to summon ghosts” — Again with the “satanism”. Lots of requests for this thing, or alternatives with “black magic rituals” or “for beginners”.  Seriously, guys?  I know that people growing up in a primarily anglophone evangelist protestant Christian culture have a hard time with this, but not everything that isn’t explicitly Christian is automatically Satanic, or “black magic”, or whatnot.   But if you want to go ahead with this, it’s really simple to summon a spirit like a ghost.  Light a candle and some good, heavy incense, make an oration to the spirit calling them there, and make an offering of wine or food or rum or pennies or candies or something.  Wait for the spirit to arrive, then chat with it.  Afterwards, dismiss it and leave the offerings.  (Yes, I know I’m omitting the protection and energy work and meditation and prayers, but whatever, most people aren’t that serious and probably need a good slap in the face to realize the importance of these things.)

“dismissing spirits after ritual” — Generally a good idea, though it pays to be respectful.  First, always thank the spirit: “I thank you for your presence, for you have come as I have called and aided me as I have asked”.  If it’s something like an angel or some other servant spirit, you might want to say something like “as you have come in peace, so now go in power; as you have come in the name of the Trinity, so now go in this same name”.  Demons should be treated similarly, especially the powerful ones, but you should always cover your ass and include some sort of binding for mutual peace and not leaving harm or malice behind them.  For ancestors, land spirits, and the like, which deserve respect as individual entities that do not serve, say something like “go if you will, stay if you will, but know that you have my honor”; ditto for gods and deities, though these should be given proper honor generally.

“wasn’t the sanctuary a bloody mess from all of the animal sacrifices” — Perhaps surprisingly, no.  Places of holiness, especially well-known and well-attended places like the Temple of the Jews, tend to have elaborate rituals and logistical setups to perform sacrifices, which often include cleaning up pretty well.  In Santeria, for instance, the orisha rooms and throne areas must be exquisitely and perfectly clean and hygienic, and given that animal sacrifice is pretty messy, it would seem like the two don’t mix.  That said, they’ll have a whole team of people cleaning things up as they go, carrying out the waste or corpse, and keep things under control.  Other traditions, like Palo Mayombe, may not have an emphasis on cleanliness, so sometimes sanctuaries can indeed be messy.  It depends on the tradition, I suppose.

“the angels that govern mars” — The Hebrew name I use is Kammael (kaph mem aleph lamed), which has also been Latinized as Camael and Samael.  This can lead to multiple ways to write the name in Hebrew, however, so it can get pretty confusing; I generally treat all these as the same entity.  From the Heptameron of Pietro d’Abano, Mars has the following spirits: the angels Samael, Satael, and Amabiel; the angelic king Samax, and the angelic ministers Carmax, Ismoli, and Paffran; the eastern angels Friagne, Guael, Damael, Calzas, and Arragon; the western angels Lama, Astagna, Lobquin, Soncas, Jazel, Isiael, and Irel; the nothern angels Rahumel, Hyniel, Rayel, Seraphiel, Mathiel, and Fraciel; and the southern angels Sacriel, Janiel, Galdel, Osael, Vianuel, and Zaliel.  The Liber Runarum has Mamarayl as the angel, and the Picatrix has Raucahehil or Rubijai’il.

“archangel michael consecrated swords to sell” — My ritual sword, inscribed and consecrated according to the Key of Solomon with a few extra bits, was entirely a personal project.  However, I can probably make them as well for you; your choice of sword, all you need to do is give me the money to buy one you like plus $150 plus shipping and handling, and the whole thing will be consecrated to your liking.

“what are the ingredients in florida water” — Contrary to its name, water doesn’t actually take a part in this, though you can throw it in.  Generally, Florida water has citrus elements in it like lemon and bergamot, along with spices like clove.  It’s pretty simple, and you can expand on it in many ways.  Rosemary-based versions are intensely aromatic and amazing, in my experience.

“kybalion changed my life” — That makes one of us, at least.  It’s a pretty basic book, if you ask me.

“rituals where you defecate on an altar” — No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.  This really should not be a thing.  I know of only one ritual where feces are needed, and that’s the consecration for the Mirror of the Seven Winds from the Picatrix, where they’re used as an ingredient in incense.  Directly shitting on an altar?  Unless you mean the throne of the porcelain god, this is terrible.  Don’t do this.

“how do i get oil blessed to cleanse my home” — Generally, go to your local priest and have them bless some olive oil for you, or ask if they have any chrism on hand.  Go throughout the house, preferably with the priest doing this, and pray in each room.  Anoint every door, threshold, window, and windowframe with the oil; once in the middle in a cross shape would work, or you might do a five-spot pattern (one in each corner and one in the middle).  You might also combine this with suffumigation with incense, lighting consecrated or purified candles in each room, and the like.

“using dice for yes/no” — You might do this in any number of ways, from rolling a die and inspecting the number or using several different colored dice and using the color itself.  For instance, you might decide that high numbers are “yes” and low numbers are “no”, or odd and even numbers for the same purpose.  You could expand this and add more categories, based on ranges of numbers.  I know that Balthazar Blacke uses a simple system involving a white die and a black die to get detailed answers, so you might consider that.  I use two ten-sided dice, one marked from 0 to 9 and the other from 00 to 90; for me, high numbers are “yes” and low numbers are “no”, and how high or low a number is increases the forcefulness of the answer.

“cloacina goddess symbol necklace” — Er…Cloacina was an aspect of the Roman goddess Venus, and Venus Cloacina was basically the goddess of the sewers of Rome and other cities.  This comes from the Roman word cloaca, meaning sewer, but is used biologically to indicate the excretory/genital area of birds, lizards, and similar animals.  Basically, it’s a shit-vagina.  And I’m unsure why one might have a symbol for that or want it on a pendant, but I’m sure you can find plenty of vagina pendants on Etsy, because it’s Etsy, and Etsy is horrifying.

“{searchterm}” — Yes, I do believe that that’s the point.

Simple Offering Ritual

In the past few posts where I’ve talked about the Crying of Calls 49, I mention a “standard operating procedure” in preparation for the Call.  For the calls, this involves visualizing the sigil of the planet I’m primarily calling on in a certain color combination, intoning the associated Greek vowel, and the like, but it also involves a simple offering ritual that I use for, basically, all my offerings.  This is something that has just grown out of my own offerings repeated over my practice, and I’ve found the framework to be pretty useful.  Below I have the general offering I make, with the associated prayer (written VERY generally and with a lot of blanks).

For this offering, you will need only a few things:

  • an unscented candle (a white tealight, or an appropriately-colored candle)
  • a stick of incense appropriate to the spirit
  • a hymn or poem of praise to the spirit (the Orphic Hymns or Homeric Hymns work wonderfully for this for Hellenic spirits)
  • a small cup of wine, drink, or liquid offerings suitable for the spirit

Other offerings are optional, such as flowers, coins, statuettes, trinkets, food, and the like, but are generally appreciated so long as they’re fitting and desired by the spirit.  Similarly, though I’ve only specified small amounts of offerings in the list above, you might also offer a number of candles, many sticks or grains of incense, a whole bottle of wine, or whatever; go all out, or use moderation if you wish.  Although you’ll only need a small clean flat area to make the offering, you can set it up to become a whole altar, decked out with images and symbols of the spirit, a fancy altar cloth, a dedicated censer or offering bowls, and the like.  Go all out if you want, or not if you can’t.

Once you’ve set everything up, light the candle and incense.  Knock on the surface a few times (three generally, or a specific number if one is associated with the spirit), then begin the prayer.  Referring to the spirit as NN.:

O great, strong, and blessed NN., I call upon you!  I, who am (your name), son/daughter/child of (mother’s name), who am (pen names, craft names, etc. you want known to the spirit), who am your supplicant and devotee, call upon you who are NN.!  You are (epithets, titles, or foreign names of the spirit), you are the god/goddess/patron/spirit of (roles, jobs, responsibilities, and patronages of the spirit).  I call upon you here at this place, now at this time, today on this day, that you may hear me, see me, and be with me! 

Come forth, blessed NN., for I have prepared for you these offerings of light, incense, wine, and praise (and whatever else you have prepared in the order to be presented) for you.  Blessed NN., I make to you these offerings freely and joyfully, and I ask that you accept them in the same as symbols of my thanks, love, honor, trust, joy, and respect for you.

Blessed NN., I burn for you this candle that it may burn for your honor, respect, enlightenment, empowerment, and exaltation.  Grant that as this candle burns and casts its light around me, so too cast your light upon me that I may always be guided, lead, and enlightened by your presence.  Grant that as this candle burns and casts its light upon this place through these airs, so too cast your light through me as your medium, conduit, focus, and lens upon the world, that the entire world may come to see you, honor you, glorify you, and praise you and your good works.

Blessed NN., I burn for you this incense, sweet-smelling, fragrant, and pleasing to you, that it may satisfy you, please you, and fortify you.  Grant that as this incense rises up in the air around me, so too fill up my life, sphere, and surroundings with the knowledge and blessing of your essence and divinity.  Grant that as this incense fills up all the spaces in this place, so too fill up my body, soul, spirit, and mind completely with your power and virtue that I may be ever more deeply initiated into your mysteries and presence.

Blessed NN., I give to you this wine, fresh, sweet, and strong, that it may sate you, please you, and cheer you.  Grant that as this wine is poured out for you, so too open me up that I may more freely accept your presence and power in my life.  Grant that as this wine is accepted by your countenance, so too let me be free to partake in your joys, your light, and your essence in this and all places, in this and all times.

Blessed NN., I sing to you an ancient song, dedicated to you once long ago, sung to you now again for your honor, glory, worship, and respect.  Grant that as these words ring out in the air around me, so too may I always carry your praise in my mouth, that all people who come in contact with my words may come to praise you, honor you, glorify you, and respect you and your works.  Grant that as my words are sanctified by your holy power, so too empower my own words and soul, that all I desire, will, intend, and speak may be brought to completion and perfection with your aid and presence in my life.

(At this point, say the hymn or poem to the spirit you’ve chosen.)

Blessed NN., come forth and partake of these offerings I give to you freely and joyfully, for they are yours!  I sacrifice this light, incense, wine, and praise (etc. as above) to you, for you to do as you will!  Be kind to me, blessed NN., that I may continue to praise you; give me your blessing, blessed NN., that I may continue to honor you; help me in my need, blessed NN., that I may continue to respect you!  Grant that in all my works with you, I may come to spread your honor and glory, that you and your great works may be known by all people, that all people may praise you and respect you.

(If desired, add more prayer in here to ask for specific needs or help., following the general format as above.)

Blessed NN., I thank you for your presence, for you have come as I have called and aided me as I have asked.  As you have come in peace, if you so will, so go too in power; stay if you will, go if you will, but know that you shall have a place of honor, respect, and praise here in this place from me, this (whatever title or descriptor you prefer for yourself).  Hail to you, blessed NN., hail to you!

To close, knock on the surface again the same number of times you did before.  Clean up the offerings no less than an hour later, preferably until as long as the candle burns (assuming it’s a tealight or something).

Of course, if it seems that the above prayer is pretty high-minded and general to the point of being fluff, that’s because it’s written to be pretty general, and I tweak it in a lot of ways depending on the exact spirit I’m working with.  For instance, the prayer is written assuming a divine or god-like spirit who has an extant ancient hymn associated with them.  Some spirits I don’t offer wine or liquid to, some I don’t necessarily give them my thanks or my trust, and some spirits I simply make an offering to without asking for anything in return.  That last one is a highly suggested variant, especially when working with spirits for the first time or when one is just getting used to calling on and getting used to their presence. 

As an example of customizing this ritual to something specific, I use this basic framework as part of my monthly Hermaia, a special ritual I do for Hermes on the fourth day of the lunar month.  I offer him four tealights (set over the topaz stones I consecrated during the September 2012 Mercury election), which I light and energetically link up with both the topaz stones and the statue of Hermes I have on my Hermes altar.  I also offer him four sticks of incense (frankincense, cinnamon, sandalwood, and floral musk), a glass of wine, and a glass of barley meal.  I pray both the Orphic Hymn to Hermes as well as the shorter Homeric Hymn to him, and I preface and close the ritual with my own prayer to Hermes.  I list a lot of his titles and jobs as a god, praise him for his involvement with much of my life in specific ways, and call for his help specifically in magic, divination, writing, sacrifice, knowledge, and a lot of other things.

So, when I use the above offering in conjunction with the Crying of Calls 49, the process is really similar.  I knock on the altar with the number qabbalistically associated with the planet, clap the same number of times intoning the associated Greek vowel, and chant “ΙΩ NN.” the same number of times.  I make them an offering of light, incense, and praise, using their associated Orphic Hymn, then call for their help with the ritual and to empower my sphere with their specific power and virtue “commingled, commixed, and completed” with the power of the secondary planet for that specific Call.  I then chant “ΙΩ NN.” again, then intone the vowel combination for the planets the same number of times as before, mentally drawing out the primary planet’s sigil in its appropriate metal against the color of the secondary planet (so, for instance, for the Moon/Saturn call, I’d visualize the sigil of the Moon in silver on black).  Then I’d make the Call that same number of times, mentally inhale the sigil and ambiance I created from the Call, and meditate briefly on the forces conjured in the process.  Then I’d thank the planet’s spirit and close out.

Of course, this is all just what I do, and I’ve read of many other people using the Calls on their own in different ways, and incorporating them in other various rituals, even for purposes not explicitly said in their annotations given by Jason Miller.  If you’re interested, try it out (both with the Calls and without as an independent offering), and see how the spirits react; if you do, lemme know what you think.