I was on a podcast over at My Alchemical Bromance!

Personally speaking, my preferred medium is the written word.  I get to clarify and refine my thoughts into an actually acceptable format, it’s easy to peruse if you have time or skim through if you don’t, and searching through it is trivial with most modern search functions (though I have my issues with the WordPress search from time to time).  It’d be a weird day indeed if I were to start making videos or podcasts of my own as a Thing, but I’m certainly not opposed to other people doing it, especially when they’ve got good practice at making it work well for them and entertaining to boot!  I like leaving this sort of thing to the good people who’ve mastered it.

Not that long ago, I was invited to chat with the good Rev. Erik L. Arneson over on his podcast of My Alchemical Bromance,  Rev. Arneson, who also manages the website, blog, and reading services of Arnemancy which focuses on a variety of Hermetic topics old and new, invited me onto the show to chat about the Greek Magical Papyri, geomancy (which I think is becoming almost my cliche thing? eh, it’s definitely my thing, to be sure), ceremonial magic, and a variety of other topics as we share a drink.  He had a fancy beer, while I drank my already-half-emptied 1.5L bottle of Barefoot Sweet Red blend, leftover from offerings done earlier in the week, which he mirthfully mocked me for (and rightfully so).

What?  Y’all knew I don’t bother with taste if I don’t need to.

You can listen to the episode directly on their website at this page, or you can listen to the 1hr37min debaculous chat here:

Once you’re done (and I do hope you enjoyed it—it was super fun chatting with the good reverend), be sure to like them on Facebook, follow them on whatever RSS feeder you prefer, and subscribe to their podcast!

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.

Everything In Moderation

Greece and Rome and the rest of the Hellenic world back then was big on drinking parties (not like much has changed since).  These would be called symposia (sing. symposion or symposium) or convivia (sing. convivium), overseen by a symposiarch who would lead the drinking and make sure things didn’t get too out of hand.  One of the duties of the symposiarch would be to make sure the wine was appropriately mixed; unlike current wine, which is all roughly the same proof, straight wine was damn potent back in the day and required mixing with water to make it properly drinkable in moderation.  To drink unmixed wine was seen as a mark of barbarism, but symposiarchs who diluted the wine too much were made fun of for being weak and wusses when it came to quaffing the fruit of the vine.  After all, moderation in Greek society, and later Stoic Roman society, was a big thing.

Plus, a long time ago (375 BC), in a galaxy far, far away (Greece), the god of the wine and vine Dionysus said this, according to Eubulus:

For sensible men I prepare only three kraters: one for health (which they drink first), the second for love and pleasure, and the third for sleep. After the third one is drained, wise men go home. The fourth krater is not mine any more – it belongs to bad behaviour; the fifth is for shouting; the sixth is for rudeness and insults; the seventh is for fights; the eighth is for breaking the furniture; the ninth is for depression; the tenth is for madness and unconsciousness.

Basically, three servings of wine (the krater was the large mixing bowl) was the recommended amount, any more beyond which was just too much.  Of course, plenty of art, stories, and writings exist that show that this three krater limit was hardly ever observed, but it goes to show that moderation in what people do, especially those of command, was key to maintaining a good time to make sure you don’t have too much party in you.  It was the symposiarch’s job to make sure things didn’t get out of hand, and if he himself got too drunk, everyone else likely would, too, and then things kinda get messy in every sense of the word.

If the leader of the drinking party had this much responsibility, and had as much to risk as Dionysus had warned from too much indulgence, imagine how much worse it is for the leader of one’s world, life, sphere, and surroundings.  Imagine how much worse than that it can be for a magician who taps into the forces determining one’s world, life, sphere, and surroundings.  I’m not saying that entheogens or indulgence or ritual intoxication are bad, and far from it.  But moderation in luxuries is something that’s pretty much mandated for someone involved with forces as volatile as we manipulate.  People can be denied security clearances for being alcoholics or drug-addicts due to the sensitive nature of their work, and that’s just on a worldly level.  When you get involved with mundane and supramundane levels all at once, even more care and caution needs to be exercised.

I’m not trying to be a killjoy (I am a dirty, dirty whore for sangria, after all), but I’m noticing that not only can I not party as hearty as I used to even a few years ago, but when I do overindulge and end up on some bathroom floor or other, the consequences are becoming ever more annoying for me, physically and spiritually.  This might just be my experience, and I’m only talking about the few parties or bar outings a year that just so happen with me having a few too many drinks with a few too many shots each in them, but when one is trying to lead a holy or magical life and get out to view the other spheres, it’s hard when the body and mind are drunk with mistakes.

Even Hermes Trismegistus said as much, in the Divine Poemander:

O ye people, earth-born folk, ye who have given yourselves to drunkenness and sleep and ignorance of God, be sober now, cease from your surfeit, cease to be glamoured by irrational sleep…[ye] earth-born folk, why have ye given up yourselves to Death, while yet ye have the power of sharing Deathlessness? Repent, O ye, who walk with Error arm in arm and make of Ignorance the sharer of your board; get ye from out the light of Darkness, and take your part in Deathlessness, forsake Destruction!

Next time you’re out enjoying yourself, be sure that you’re the one making the decisions and enjoying them, and not the alcohol doing it for you.