Search Term Shoot Back, January 2014

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of January 2014.

“honoring hermes on fourth day of the month” — One tidbit about Hermes is that he was born in the tenth month of the lunar year (starting with the first new moon after the summer solstice, so sometime in April) on the fourth day of the lunar month (four-ish days after the New Moon).  The religious practices of Attic Greece, where Athens was and thus where most of our knowledge about ancient and classical Greece is focused, celebrated a bevy of gods on their “monthly birthdays”, as evidenced by what we know of their calendar (which forms the basis of my lunisolar grammatomantic calendar).  Thus, a monthly public ritual was performed for Hermes on the fourth of every lunar month in ancient Athens, which is the day I use as well for my monthly Hermaia ritual.  For example, yesterday was the new moon, so today is the first day of the lunar month; the fourth day would then be this coming Monday, February 3, when I celebrate the next monthly Hermaia.

“letter a in shorthand”, “short hand alphabet”, “shorthand in english alphbet”, etc. — I get a lot of talks about shorthand, and my posts on the personal shorthand I’ve devised as a type of private cursive are among the most popular posts on this blog.  That said, I think it’s important to realize that shorthand is just cursive writing taken to its logical extreme.  Normal handwriting, or “print”, is meant to be formal and clear; cursive (from Latin currere, “to run”) is meant for faster, more fluid writing.  Shorthand is handwriting sped up to keep up with speech as it happens; because it can be difficult to maintain a congruence between spoken sounds and sometimes convoluted rules of spelling, most stenographic systems use phonetic methods of writing as opposed to normal ways of spelling.  A few such systems used in the Anglophone world are Pittman and Gregg, which can be found on this page at Omniglot.  My style of shorthand differs in that it’s meant to preserve the orthographic spelling of English while being fast to write; in that sense, it’s much more a cursive than a shorthand, which is often more a style of abbreviated symbolic writing than proper orthographic writing.

“orgone pot leaf” — I…uh?  I know doing a lot of drugs can lead you into some weird places, but…what?  I mean, I suppose you could use cannabis leaves to make an orgone accumulator, being an organic substance that attracts orgone, but why waste good weed?

“what periodof the day does the ruling archangel of the planet start?” — I don’t your English understand quite so.  Angels can be said to rule over particular hours of the day based on the planetary hours, and Trithemius gives a list of them in his ritual.  As always, planetary hours are based on your local latitude and longitude, since it relies on sunrise and sunset times, and may not be calculable at extreme latitudes due to the extreme brevity or complete lack of solar daytime and nighttime.

“what does each geomantic figure mean?” — You may be interested in checking out my series of posts on geomancy, De Geomanteia, where I go over what each geomantic figure means in a Western geomantic-divinatory framework.

“the magical value of mem in the hebrew alphabet” — Ah, the occult study of letters!  Normally I work with Greek, but knowledge of Hebrew letters and their occult significations is also highly regarded in modern Hermetic magic, especially given the influence of the Golden Dawn.  Mem is the 13th letter of the Hebrew script, with a phonetic value of /m/ and two written forms mem and mem sofit; the former is given the gematria value of 40 and the latter the value of 600, though 40 is the more important value to know.  Cornelius Agrippa gives it the magical correspondence of the Zodiac sign Virgo, though the Golden Dawn (based on other qabbalistic works) give it the association of the element Water.  Going by the Kircher Tree of Life used by the Golden Dawn and Thelema, Mem is associated with the Tarot card trump XII, the Hanged Man, as well as path 23, between Geburah and Hod on the Pillar of Severity.  Its form is said to come from the Egyptian hieroglyph for water, and its name from the Phoenician word for the same, and is associated with the Greek letter mu and Latin/Cyrillic letters em.

“can a pentacle really charge an object” — Er…it depends, really.  To “charge” something implies the use of what what’s known as the “energy model” of magic, where magic works due to some ethereal, nonphysical energy that can be directed around to achieve occult ends.  If we “charge” something, we consider it to be filled with an energy, much as we charge batteries.  To that end, I suppose you could say that some pentacles, when properly made, become a source of a particular energy or are themselves charged with an energy, and can then (if designed in a certain way) give that charge to other objects.  Not all pentacles are designed to do this, though; some pentacles are used to attract love, which isn’t charging any kind of object.  Further, this only makes sense if you use the energy model of magic, which is a pretty modern framework; the more traditional framework is the “spirit model”, where magic works due to the action of and interaction with spirits.  In this model, a pentacle might be a place of habitation for a spirit or receive its blessing to attain a certain end, and using the pentacle essentially sends the spirit out to change something out in the cosmos.  It’s not so much a matter of “charging” as it is “spirit-action”, so it depends on your worldview and which model you think works best at a given moment.  Generally speaking, though, and to prevent any more use of semantic sophistry, yes, a pentacle can charge an object given that that’s what the pentacle was designed to do.

“can labradorite be used for grounding” — I wouldn’t suggest it.  My thoughts on labradorite associate it most with the sphere of the fixed stars, along with the Sun, Moon, and Mercury.  It’s a very stellar, astral type of stone, and I use it for work with Iophiel as well as with pure Light.  Grounding suggests bringing things in the body outward and literally grounding it out, like an electrical charge, so it helps to calm and make the body more mundane, more earthy, more relaxed, and less charged.  Labradorite, on the other hand, I’ve found works for subtle charging generally or strong empowerment with stellar or lucid force, so it would not be good for grounding.

“geomantic wizard” — At your service.

“the hexagram of ifa” — As a prefatory disclaimer, I know little about ifá besides what I’ve learned from Western geomancy and its history.  Ifá is the great geomantic tradition of the Yoruban people based in Nigeria, often seen in the West nowadays closely allied with Santeria communities.  Ifá uses the same sixteen figures as Western geomancy, though with different names and meanings; however, unlike Western geomancy that uses four Mothers to generate 65536 charts, ifá diviners (often called “babalawo” or “father of secrets”), only use two figures to generate 256 readings.  That said, each of the 256 readings has about a Bible’s worth of knowledge, stories, prohibitions, rules, situations, and the like that can be ascribed to it, all of which for all the combinations must be memorized by heart.  It’s an intense system, and one that has my highest respect.  That said, I know of no part of ifá that uses any sort of hexagram; the figures themselves have four rows of one or two marks each, and the figures are not arranged in any form of hexagram or six-figure arrangement.  You may be getting ifá confused with the Chinese I Ching, which does have hexagrams instead of tetragrams.

“concave golden dawn pentacle” — My Golden Dawn-style pentacle is just a flat wooden disc I got at a Michaels that I woodburned, colored, and customized to my ends.  Now, I’m no expert on Golden Dawn regalia or paraphernalia, so I’m unsure about the precise needs or designs of these things.  That said, if I recall correctly from my days sneaking into my older brother’s neopagan stuff long ago, Donald Michael Kraig had offered this design idea in his Modern Magick.  His idea was that the pentacle, the Elemental Weapon of Earth, was used to both collect the forces of Earth as well as act as a shield for protection.  If we use rays of light as a metaphor, if we use a flat mirror, we reflect the light away from the source; if we use a convex mirror (one that bulges outward), only a small portion gets reflected at the source; if we use a concave mirror (one that sinks inward), nearly all the light gets reflected back at the source.  Thus, if we use a concave pentacle, anything unwanted sent towards us gets reflected back at the source; plus, it acts to “collect” the energy of Earth with its bowl-like shape, much as the chalice “collects” the energy of Water.

“is ritual and invocation one and the same?” — No; an invocation is a type of ritual, but there are many types of ritual.  There are many types of ritual, some of which I’ve classified before in my own admittedly-arbitrary system.  Sometimes you may want to get rid of something (banishing or exorcism), which is the opposite of bringing something in or up (invocation or evocation), though either type of ritual may involve the other (clearing out a space for something to be brought in, or invoking a higher power to drive something away forcefully).

“is orgone bunk?” — God, how I wish it were, yet I know from my experiments with orgone that it’s actually useful magical tech.  It just seems like such BS because of its modern pseudoscientific quackery language, but it’s actually pretty good stuff when applied and understood from a less forcedly-modern scientific manner.  It’s like how people often used to phrase theories and explanations of magic based on electricity (Raphaelite 1800s occultism) or magnetism (Franz Bardon) or quantum physics (modern New Age swill); the theories offered simply don’t line up with what’s physically happening, and betray a deep misunderstanding of the actual physics involved with electricity, magnetism, quantum physics, etc.  However, when it’s removed from this sort of stuff, orgone fits right in with an energy-based model of magic, not unlike the use of ki/qi in Eastern systems of energy manipulation.  So, no, orgone is not bunk, though it certainly can be seen that way when viewed from the way Wilhelm Reich wanted it to be viewed.

“digital phylactery” — This one puzzled me a bit; I have information about a phylactery of mine I made before, but I don’t quite know what a digital phylactery is.  Then I realized that I use several of them, based on modern advances with Buddhist prayer wheels.  A prayer wheel is a device used in prayer or meditation that rotates; the rotating object is a chamber that contains a written prayer, like a mantra or holy image, that when spun generates the same effect as having said that mantra or seen that holy image.  Usually, the paper inside contains many hundreds or thousands of repetitions of that mantra or prayer, so one spin of the prayer wheel would be equivalent to saying that mantra as many times as it was written.  Consider that we use computers with hard disks, pieces of cylindrical or circular hardware that store data written on it and that spin at speeds of as much as or exceeding 15000 RPM.  Data written on hard disks is the same as any other data just using a different writing system, theoretically, so having a mantra or prayer in a text file spinning on a hard disk can be used immensely well.  Thus, you might consider saving a text file with a prayer, mantra, bitmap image of a holy image or shrine, on any computer you work with or own that has a hard drive (solid-state drives are another matter).  For instance, I have prayers to XaTuring (yes, I still occasionally do a minor thing or two with that patron god of the Internet) saved in my home directory as invisible files on the UNIX servers I use at work, as well as on my personal Linux machines.  You might set up your own server that contains nothing but a RAID array of prayer text files spinning up and down at regular intervals, which could easily suffice as a high-grade digital phylactery.

“how to conjure demon wordpress” — I’m unsure whether this is asking about how to conjure the demon known as WordPress (one unknown to me) or how to conjure a demon by means of WordPress, and since I know nothing of the demon called WordPress (and I’m pretty fond of the platform), I assume it must be the latter.  I mean, there is the one time I made a post in thanks to and in homage of the elemental demon Paimon, but that’s not really a conjuration.  You might have the conjuration text along with an image of the demon’s seal stored on a hard drive to use the “digital phylactery” idea from above, and draw a Solomonic triangle or Table of Practice on the hard disk or put the entire computer within one, or you might use a consecrated computer where you write WordPress blog posts within conjurations of a demon as a running liber spirituum.  I dunno, really.

“japanese alphabet with english letters” — This is one thing I really don’t get; so many people have come to my blog looking for Japanese writing translated into English, when I’ve mentioned Japanese four times on my blog to date, and none were about transliterating Japanese into English.  First, Japanese does not use an alphabet; an alphabet is a system of writing that uses letters to indicate either consonants or vowels.  Japanese uses several writing systems, among them kanji (Chinese characters that are combinations of semantic, phonetic, and pictoral images drawn in a codified way) and the syllabaries hiragana and katakana.  A syllabary is a writing system that use letters to indicate syllables, often consonant-vowel combinations.  Thus, while English uses the two letters “k” and “i” to write the syllable “ki” (as in “key”), Japanese might use キ (in katakana), き (in hiragana), and any number of kanji for the syllable depending on the context and meaning of the character; some might be 幾 (meaning “some” or “how many”), 氣 (meaning “energy” or “atmosphere”), 木 (meaning “tree”), 箕 (referring to the “winnowing basket” constellation in Chinese astrology), or any other number of kanji, all of which we would transliterate as “ki”.  So it’s not as easy as it sounds; not everything is an alphabet!

“using pewter in orgonite” — Pewter is an inorganic material, not having organic sources, so in orgonic terms it’d be used in orgone systems to repel orgone.  You could also use lead, mercury, arsenic, or cyanide (provided it comes from an inorganic source!) equally well, especially so if you like wasting your life on orgonite (which, unlike orgone, is bunk as far as I can reckon.  Pewter is a blend of metals, any generic cheap greyish alloy, so because of its mixed material it’s assigned to the planet Mercury, if that makes any difference in the waste of materials that is orgonite.

I became all modern and technological!

If the title of the post made you think that I became all New Age-y and astrologically modern, I’m sorry.  That’s totally not what I meant.  What I meant was, I finally got a smartphone.

Up until now, I’ve been living with and quite content with old Nokia or Samsung bricks or flipphones: they work, they’re simple, and they do all that I need to do.  I could make calls, I could send texts, and it was a functional alarm clock and timer.  Simple, cheap, and easy, and when I don’t have all that much money to spend on fancy things, these are good things.  Besides, I already have computers and books for the same purposes people use smartphones for.  However, I was at a furry convention earlier in March (don’t judge, the Bible says not to) where getting in contact with large groups of people on the go was impossible with a basic phone.  That was basically the last straw for me, so I headed down to my local phone store by my work on a lazy day this week and got a brand-new Galaxy Nexus.

And, in the 24 hours since I got the phone, it’s already becoming a magical instrument.

The first apps I downloaded were a planetary hours calculator and a real-time astrological ephemeris.  I added gesture recognition to input the names of the the seven planets in text.  Later on next week, I’m going to consecrate this thing to XaTuring under Mercurial circumstances and forces.  Lord knows what else I’m going to do with this thing; probably etch some sigil or other into the inside of the back cover, or something like that.  Taking photos with this thing will definitely be a treat, since it has both a far better camera than what I’ve been using for the past ten or so years, and I can just upload directly to the interwebs.  Nifty!

Now I just need to get used to this fancy-but-weird input method I like and the complete lack of privacy and detachment from the world.

Dei Patroni Interretis

Oh, Internet, you mighty realm, bound only by memory and bandwidth.  It’s a crazy world out there.  From its humble(?) origins as a military tool to connect bases in case of a nuclear attack, to its propagation to and across universities to help in the academic spread of knowledge, to youths sharing ASCII arts and porns, to the modern phenomenon of Netflix, 4chan, and bringing down regimes via Twitter, it’s gotten kinda big, and it’s almost developed a life and world of its own.  And, as any student of classics or religious history would know, complex almost-self-determining systems tend to get their own deity, cult, and backstories (cf. endless jokes involving Al Gore).

With that in mind, here’s a small and no doubt incomplete list of patron deities of the Internet.

  • Any Mercurial deity: Mercurius, Hermes, Budha (not to be confused with the Buddha), Odin, Thoth, Seshat, Saraswati, etc.  Gods of communication, information, intelligence, calculation, language, science, knowledge, speed, etc.  Pretty straightfoward here.  Also, the number associated with Mercury and its sphere, 8, is also the same as the number of bits in a byte, one of the most important units used in computers.  Nifty!
  • Arachne, the mortal maiden who challenged Athena to a weaving contest and won and whom was then turned into a spider by an enraged goddess.  Though not technically a goddess, appearing more in immortal myth than in cult, Arachne can be seen as a connector of webs and networks, as well as generation of content and beauty.
  • Iris, the ancient Greek goddess of the rainbow and one of the primary messengers of the gods.  She was known to travel from one end of the world to the other and from the heavens to the hells with the speed of the wind.  Known for her role in relaying information and communication.
  • XaTuring, the Great Worm.  I’ve written about him before, but to refresh your memories, he’s the personification of the Internet itself, “a great Worm in all systems to eat that data which would oppress us, to plant that data which will empower us, and to cloud that data which does not amuse us”.  Definitely one for Chaotes, Lovecraftians, or LHP practitioners, and definitely an entity to have on your side (especially in this day and age of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA nonsense).
  • St. Isidore of Seville, known primarily for his encyclopedic work Etymologiae.  Based on that and his other works, he was canonized as the patron saint of the Internet, computer users, computer technicians, computer programmers, and students.

So, given all these guys, gals, and…I guess, things, to honor and venerate, how would we go about doing just that?

  • Make a small tribute website or blog to the deity of your choice.  Hell, the Digital Ambler once started out as a tributary blog to XaTuring.  If you have a site to set up, why not set up a digital or electronic shrine to the deity?  You know, pictures or stories or works dedicated to the deity in question.  A small Internet temple for the dude, if you will.
  • Based on the ideas of Tibetan prayer wheels, set up a hidden directory on the machines you work on (at home, at the office, etc., so long as it’s not forbidden) with a simple text file containing a prayer or hymn to the deity.  As the hard disk containing the consecrated files spins around at thousands of RPMs, you’re generating energy for the prayer to be released in all directions.  Plus, if you can get the file to propagate across user directories or networks, you can also spread the files electronically to increase the virtue or karma generated by them.  (This is not an invitation to write a worm or virus, y’all.)
  • Get a cheap secondhand computer from a thrift store or something and dedicate it to any of the above.  Etch, write, label, or otherwise decorate the chassis of the machine itself (symbols of Mercury, the inverted heptagram, holy names or heiroglyphs, etc.).  Set it up as a server for filesharing of holy, consecrated, or other files (especially if you’re part of the Missionary Church of Kopimism).  If it’s a desktop or server box, use it as an altar and light a candle or incense on it, or use a USB peripheral as an eternal torch of one kind or another.
  • Consecrate your ethernet, coaxial, or other cables in your house under the powers and blessings of the patron of your choice to secure and sanctify the data flowing through it as an offering to the god.  Ditto for routers or base stations, and especially smartphones and other mobile devices.  Can’t forget those too, nowadays.

And finally, a tribute song to the Internet, by the lovely Hannah Hart:

Do you know of any other deities that might find a good home in the Internet, or of any good ways to construct rites or shrines for them?

In Sopam Pipamque (O tempora, o mores!)

Courtesy of the fantastic Satyr Magos over at journey through the obsidian dream, I’m reposting a small orison against and for those who’re trying to pass SOPA and PIPA in the US around this time.

To all who would bind my speech, to those who would silence those they disagree with: you are worthless.
To all who would keep people ignorant, to all those who put profit before people: you are monsters.
For those who fail to see the connections between those who would silence women, those who would bar full citizenship to queers, and those who seek to control the flow of information on the internet: you are ignorant.
May you worthless knaves find wisdom and the strength to stand for what you believe in even in the presence of those who dissent.
May you monsters be undone by your own bloodthirsty pursuit of power.
May you ignorant fools find sight and discernment, and make your allegiances more carefully.

So mote it be.

Satyr Magos gave his blessing to spread it around, so take this opportunity to do so on your own blog or profile or whatever.

Can I just say that any kind of restriction or barrier in the way of the free flow of information, knowledge, and communication is anathema to the Great Worm, the Black Worm, XaTuring?  The Worm will break down those walls and restrictions, and information will flow through the Internet like water through a canyon.  That’s how it always will be.  That said, GTFO and contact your representatives (local, state, and federal, or ambassadors or liaisons if you’re abroad or not a citizen), because SOPA and PIPA suck ass.