Two of Pentacles and the Knight of the Cart

It’s been said that Tarot cards can be related to mythical characters and vignettes. I’m going to do that with the martial figure of Lancelot du Lac, one that’s resonated with me since I was young, both with Minor Arcana and Majors VII, VIII and IX.

I’ll do this with the most widely used deck, Pamela Coleman-Smith’s. I prefer calling it Coleman-Smith’s deck and not Rider-Waite as it’s often called because she designed it and kept it out of copyright, one of the single most helpful acts anyone did for esoteric exploration of the self in the past century. Her heirs could have made fuck tons of cash and prevented the publication of other decks. The woman was a saint – or devil, take your pick. However, as many are aware there are different decks and configurations (switch VIII Strength/Lust for XI Justice/Adjustment, etc.). If you prefer another, please suspend judgement for the present discussion.

Two of Pentacles

Right now my favorite card is II of Pentacles. This card is about being able to handle anything that comes your way, cheerfully, without hesitation. I’ve heard it described as the card of Lancelot in the Arthur cycle, this would be his approach as a skilled warrior. My apologies for gendered language, I know many women who are fearless warriors, possibly more of them than men, and this is certainly open to non-binary perspectives as well.

VII The Chariot

A long-time favorite of mine is VII The Chariot, one reason being it aligns with my Sun in Cancer – see the armor/shell? 🙂 This card also potentially embodies Lancelot but less artfully and with problems. Do we really need such force? Maybe this card doesn’t require that interpretation, The Chariot moves along at will with sphinxes unharnessed but still… There’s a reason VIII Strength follows it, and that The Chariot is not Strength even though it’s among the strongest looking Major Arcana. The 2 of Pentacles gets around the possibly overbearing, ungraceful aspects of the armored warlord, effortlessly pirouetting about the toughest obstacles, hot hot coffee in hand, not losing a drop.

VIII Strength

Another conceivably Lancelot-ian card is IX The Hermit, the knight living in quiet and forlorn contemplation, forever faithful both to Guinevere’s unrequited love and the friend he would have to betray to realize it. Let’s not go there. Yeah, I read a lot of this stuff growing up. Notice how this went from VII to VIII to IX? A meaningful sequence.

IX The Hermit

Finally, II of Pentacles reminds me of the Japanese concept of fudoshin, tirelessly keeping your center, remaining grounded but in a light, not stolid, way, relaxed but alert in the face of adversity. Like a sailor on treacherous waters, dodging shoals and sea monsters while never losing it. This is a concept I learned if not mastered practicing Aikido, how we want to face attack and similar situations. None of us (to my knowledge) does this perfectly, yet we have moments of grace when we’re beaming happiness and are unscathed no matter what gets thrown at us. And when we do lose our cool, it’s an opportunity to analyze the situation, figure out where we turned right when we needs to go left, and try again. Realizing something went wrong and comparing it with the ideal, without self-judgement, is the way back to the path.

This is the way.

The Fool and the Angel

The angel lighted next to him and sat. There was uncomfortable silence, like old friends who didn’t know what to say. The angel turned to him and spoke. “Fool!”

He didn’t know what they meant but it struck him to the core. He felt guilty and wanted to do something. Angel talk is is like that.

It took him a long time to understand. Others were wise, protecting the guilty out of fairness or love. He was willing to be a fool and speak out. Take your pick, the harm of men or the wrath of God. Men will destroy a community out of ego, God will destroy a town because men placed it in the path of a fire or flood. Bam. Town gone.

Women and men love even those who leave ruined lives behind them. But it won’t stop a flood.

Prophecy is a troublesome gift. The fool dreamt of someone who wouldn’t get out of the way. Then he met her. She was so sad and resigned he wanted to shout, but he restrained himself. What little he said was sometimes taken with gratitude, other times just tolerance, and once even rage. Out of wisdom and love.

It didn’t change a thing. The fire was still coming.

The fool dreamt of a man pleased with his ego and the hurt he caused, striking a flint over dry brush, hunched over, laughing. He thought he knew that man but now realized he really didn’t. Over weeks and months he proved to be as bad as the dream. It didn’t help to warn anyone. He tried being silent. He tried being snarky, thinking it would entertain people and maybe then they’d listen. No, the hunched man was loved by all and everything was fine. He, the, fool, was to blame.

As time passed he quietly did things to bring the man’s harmful actions to light. Mostly no one saw a thing. There were more dreams and the coming fire. The hunched man even accused the fool of lighting fires. Maybe in a way his words did, but beyond that it was just a lie to deceive the town and charges were dismissed. The fool could say very little without getting in trouble and could only nudge people out of the way very slowly. If he said more he was rebuffed. If he gave in to the urge to shout about his dreams of conflagration, he was slammed. And how could you blame them? There was no fire yet.

He couldn’t warn those he loved. He could nudge, and wait. Nudge, and wait. Nudge, and wait. He felt the heat rise and the flames draw closer. And no one else saw a thing. When he thought too much about it he was irresponsible and his work suffered. He waited in silence. Nudged, and waited. Nudged, and waited, etc., etc.

He still felt guilty. Still he was a fool. He dreamt of a prophetess and told her “I love you.” “What does that matter?,” she snarled. After all the love he saw poured on the hunched man, this was something he could understand.

In the quiet he gradually changed. He was not so foolish anymore. A tiger changes its stripes and many miss it but it’s obvious for those who can see. At times he felt very good. Sometimes he dreamt deliverance was at hand, and maybe it was. He would forget about the heat, the flames, and the flood. Then he’d dream the woman was in the the path and panic. When he awoke he would say something to anyone that still bothered to listen. It was no use, they just shouted and threw things at him.

One wise woman could understand. She thought the waiting and nudging was going well, then she saw him speak up. “Oh God, you are such a fool,” she said.

Finally he made a choice. He would stay there too, close to what was coming. Although he wanted to spring, he would quietly nudge and wait, but less than before. Sometimes he’d just sit and do nothing at all. This was the plan.

After a while he could see that the woman he dreamt of and the rest were nearly out of the way. Then she got up and walked back to the path of the coming fire. He wanted to run to her, shout and push her out of the way, but it only seemed to hurt her. The wise woman saw him and could see what he was thinking of doing. She shook her head and sighed. “Goddamn, you really are a fool,” she said.

Then he had a new dream. It told him, “Keep your sword to the lion side, and trust.”

He didn’t know what it meant but it struck him to the core. Dreams are like that…

words by me, image is detail from Icarus by Barry Windsor Smith

Working with the Dog Star Sirius/Sothis

A friend and I are going to start making metal talismans soon. When I learned in 2019 that I could make talismans that capture the power of stars with rich mythological stories, like Algol (Beta Persei) which is associated with the head of Medusa, I began to learn how to calculate the times when “the stars are right.” Sirius is another captivating star, both because of its fame in ancient astronaut/conspiracy lore, and its importance in Pharonic Egypt.

Sirius is a fascinating star. It is a “fixed star” so its position remains the same in relation to the wheel of the zodiac, in this case relative to the sign of Cancer the crab (it’s positioned at 13 degrees Cancer on the ecliptic). It was crucial to the ancient Egyptians. The heliacal rise of Sirius (a star in the Canis Major constellation, Orion’s dog) is when the star appears for the first time in the year at dawn far enough from the sun that it’s visible to the eye. The Egyptians (or maybe the Greeks discussing the Egyptians?) called Sirius Sothis, and noticed its heliacal rise occurs before and signals the annual flooding of the Nile in early July, which was so important to their annual agricultural cycle.

Sirius is known as the Dog Star. Anyone who knows Henry Purcell’s music knows you can sail by it :), and this star is noted for powers of peace and reconciliation, for the favor of people in power (as in networking), and for the aid of spirits of the air. Although many people make talismans during stellar elections there is no need to make a talisman, you can say an appropriate prayer or the like at the appointed time to direct the star’s power to your project of peace, reconciliation, networking, or power over spirits.

Sirius conjoined the waxing Moon and Mars at Midheaven on May 15 at about 4:20 PM Central Time in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The key for a stellar election is for and appointed star to conjoin the Moon on the Ascendant or Midheaven. This time will vary depending on where you are in the world and an election in on locality will not necessarily be available in other places.

Typically people make metal talismans in an election as an anchor to the star and it powers. But if you don’t wish to make that effort you can simply say an appropriate prayer or wish at this time for the star’s power to aid you. However, if you want to make a talisman to keep so the star continues to work with you in an easier form than metal, for Sirius, you can simply get a drawing or photo of a dog or of Sirius in the sky (printed off the internet will do), draw the Sirius sigil on it (as shown in this post), and follow these steps (these are adapted and simplified from Agrippa and other sources on fixed star magic):

What you’ll need: White candle (4″ temple chime candle or even a birthday cake candle will do), incense (Mugwort is optimal but another like Dragon’s Blood will work in a pinch), a hookah charcoal tablet to burn the Mugwort as incense if you go that route, a suitable metal container for charcoal and incense, something to extinguish fire if an accident occurred, and the dog + sigil image for your talisman described above. Optional: Beryl (the stone sacred to Sirius), and snake tongue (can’t tell you where to get that, and it’s optional).

Begin 5-10 minutes before the election time. Have all ingredients you will use on hand and the paper talisman at your altar or work area.

1) Light the candle, and incense or charcoal for burning Mugwort. If Mugwort, keep adding it as needed during the work.

2) For the invocation, read the Orphic Hymn to Astron substituting Sirius for the star’s name (see below).

3) Watch the time and repeat the invocation until you reach the moment of the election, then state your intention. Wave the paper talisman over the incense as you recite the invocation, this by tradition draws or anchors the spirit of the star into your paper.

4) Briefly meditate on what you’ve accomplished, then thank Sirius for working with you and safely extinguish the candle and incense.

Remember, you can also just do the invocation followed by your wish or statement of intent at the time of the election in step 3, but the other steps will help if you are able to do them. And you can just make your wish, candles and incense are not absolutely necessary. But if you want the full experience, use all the steps above. Sirius’s sigil can also be carved into the candle with a pin before you begin.

Note on safety: If you choose to work with fire, whether a candle, incense, or charcoal, you do so at your own risk. As always, do it safely and be ready to extinguish any or all of them when you finish the work or if something accidentally catches fire. Don’t burn yourself!

Self-consecration: If you acquire a stellar talisman you didn’t make your self, you can also consecrate it to work for you using the steps above. Ideally you would do this on a Sirius election when the star is conjoining the Moon on Ascendant or Midheaven. However, you can do it any time it feels right or if you like, on the planetary day and/or hour of a planet said to be of the character of the star (for Sirius these are Mars and Jupiter).

Orphic Hymn to Astron, Adapted for Sirius Invocation

Translated by Thomas Taylor, 1792

“With holy voice I call the star SIRIUS on high, pure sacred lights and genii of the sky.

Celestial star, the progeny of Night, in whirling circles beaming far your light,

Refulgent rays around the heav’ns ye throw, eternal fires, the source of all below.

With flames significant of Fate ye shine, and aptly rule for men a path divine.

In seven bright zones ye run with wand’ring flames, and heaven and earth compose your lucid frames:

With course unwearied, pure and fiery bright forever shining thro’ the veil of Night.

Hail twinkling, joyful, ever wakeful fires! Propitious shine on all my just desires;

These sacred rites regard with conscious rays, and end our works devoted to your praise.”

There you go. Once done, the paper talisman can continue to work for you as long as the paper is intact. I passed around a few things about Algol in 2020. There are harder and softer ways to find peace, these are new times.

Sources

Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius (1509-). Writings of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535). Digital editions by Joseph H. Peterson. http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/index.html, accessed 16/06/2020

Coppock, Kaitlin (2018). The Orphic Hymns + Fixed Star Hack. https://sphereandsundry.com/the-orphic-hymns-fixed-star-hack/

Taylor, Thomas (1792). Orphic Hymns 1-40. Theoi Project – Classical Texts Library. https://www.theoi.com/Text/OrphicHymns1.html#5, accessed 16/06/2020y

Overcompensation, or Magic’s Tragedy

Know thyself.

– Delphic maxim

There’s a reason the saying “Know thyself” is associated with ancient mysteries. Of course, it was an inscription displayed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. But it’s also advice with profound implications for magic.

It may be a gross simplification, but magic encourages us to plan and execute, whether as spooky action at a distance or in deciding to lift your hand to scratch your itchy nose. The latter may be a little too simplistic, but at some level both are magical acts.

This is what much of living in the physical world is about. But it can be taken to extremes with quickly diminishing returns. Know thyself is guidance, maybe even a simple algorithm, for doing it the right way.

The False Coin of Our Own Dreams

At times, too much planning can rob us of the ability to live in the moment and cheats us out of being present for what our precious and limited lives offer us (at least in the present existence). It’s why people enjoy meditation and activities, like gardening, that get us out in the world while slowing down and clarifying our thoughts. Over planning can be a symptom of not knowing yourself and what you would find truly fulfilling. Instead, we can fall into the pit (abyss?) of throwing our energy into a plan or task we don’t really want.

We may think we want something because it looks appealing, and mistake it for our heart’s desire. The classic example is money – it’s not money we want (unless you’re a coin collector) but what we think it can buy. We can become tied to what Graeber (2001, paraphrasing Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert 1972 [1904]) called “the false coin of our own dreams.”

Not being satisfied, we may then try to get more and more of the substitute, or attempt to re-enact a memory of something that never really was to begin with. Seven of Cups. Endlessly trying to scratch an itch that isn’t there and seeking more and more opportunities to do it. Meanwhile, life continues to tick by.

I’m not saying don’t stop and smell the roses, feast at life’s banquet, or try things out to see if they’re for you or even to make someone else happy for a while. Go for it. But beware of the person or spirit that encourages you to break your own cup, leaving you endlessly seeking to fulfill a desire that isn’t there. This is the path of the hungry ghost, the anti-life equation of consumer society.

Pursuing the “false coin” seems to be the root of addiction. It doesn’t help that exhausting ourselves through whatever that may be (drugs, gambling, battling some imagined adversary, etc.) can bring temporary relief, while the next day we may feel compelled to do it all over again. And the cycle continues.

Darkseid – master of Apokalips and the Anti-Life Equation, by Jack Kirby

A Cautionary Tale

A while ago I knew a person who was afraid someone else would do something they didn’t like. Instead of talking to them about it, they acted on their suspicions and began trying to manipulate that person to make them think they wanted something they didn’t. Initially, their target didn’t know what was up, only that something felt off. They found out much later when it was too late to help the one targeting them.

I don’t want to reveal too many details and hurt anyone involved, but this person collected information, used magic and poor man’s NLP, planned, etc. for several months. They did it to unethical extremes with murder in their heart.

About seven months later when it was clear things were never going to go their way they went ballistic on the person they were trying to influence. It impacted many people and just barely missed having the kind of visibility that would have fucked things up for everyone involved.

They mistook their fear for reality, and became dedicated to changing it or preventing it from happening. It never needed to happen and was a miserable failure.

In a way this kind of dedication is impressive. Wow. And in a funny way probably flattering to the person they had a beef with.

On the other hand, wow > wtf. What a waste of time and effort on an imagined problem their actions were never going to solve.

The person who carried out these tortuous twists and turns was quite experienced and initiated in a few kinds of magic, but it didn’t matter. As it turned out, the person they had the problem with was always ready to listen, at least when they stopped lobbing grenades. Some of what they did was potentially life threatening so now that’s not likely to happen. Instead, thousands of needlessly burnt calories later, there have been many repercussions for them, not only in this situation but a number of others.

They lacked clarity about what was going on, didn’t know what they really wanted. In a word, they overcompensated. If there weren’t better examples of what to do, someone might ask why bother trying to do magic at all? It wasn’t going to fix a thing.

What was needed was to “know thyself,” to know they were pursuing an illusion and to redirect their own actions. They could have simply talked things out, dispelled their fears, and had a much better time. What they got instead was a lost friendship, other damaged friendships, and more besides.

And as for the person they were gunning for, well, even though they were in many ways less experienced, what made a difference is they knew themself better (my neutral pronouns are painfully awkward, I know). When the dust settled, they just kept going. When some residual shit was lobbed, they kept going. They just kept going.

Does not matter. Need not be.

Sources

Graeber, David R. (2001). Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. New York: Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-312-24044-8.

Mauss, Marcel [with Henri Hubert] (1972 [1904]). A General Theory of Magic. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Demon Star ALGOL Spell for Social Justice, Protection

Earlier versions of this were posted on the Social Justice Witchcraft and Folk Magic Society Facebook pages, and the Faith Blind Council Discord server. The Algol Ascendant election is described by Ryhann Butler in Medieval Astrology’s Sagittarius Full Moon Magical Elections podcast for June 5, 2020.

Drawing of Medusa by Barry Windsor-Smith. All images displayed for not-for-profit educational use only.

You on earth have unwittingly felt its distant presence—you who without knowing idly gave to its blinking beacon the name of Algol, the Daemon-Star.

H. P. Lovecraft, Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1919)

On June 18, the fixed star Algol will be conjunct the Moon first on the Ascendant, and later, approaching Midheaven. Many use these elections for talismans following the writings of Cornelius Agrippa, the Picatrix, and similar sources, but we are in a capricious time. I think these two elections are better for spells/intentions/prayers than metal or stone talismans. Algol, represented by Medusa’s head, is excellent for protection and hexing. George Floyd was killed less than a month ago on May 25, we’ve seen countless acts of violence against protesters and terrorist threats against people of color since then, and 45’s Tulsa rally is June 20. This is a crucial time for social justice work and Algol is raising their hand to help. As Medusa, Algol also is a strong ally for ending and avenging violence against women.

Algol is located at 26 degrees Taurus on the ecliptic, or the ring in the sky allotted to the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Algol is part of the Perseus constellation, located above Gemini and Taurus, which was important to ancient Mithraic mysteries as well. Algol was named by ancient Arab astronomers and astrologers, first as R’as al Ghul, the head of the demon, then al Ghul or of the demon (what of the demon? the head!). (Yes, this is where the name of the Batman villain comes from.) From there the star’s name eventually transformed into Algol. Not coincidentally, the name Algol is also the source of the word alcohol. The star made its way into magic in Europe by the Renaissance and probably even earlier in Moorish Spain. As the name implies, Algol is a fearsome ally. I think their connection with ancient Arabic science and magic make them appropriate to call on for aid against racist violence and to change the present political landscape that supports it.

I’ve worked with Algol several times in 2020 including consecration of talismans and an oil. Given the events in 2020, I led a Zoom call about this for the Practicing Magic group, and it seemed helpful to put this blog together to share. Find out more about Practicing Magic at https://www.facebook.com/groups/practicingmagis/.

Detail of the Perseus constellation from Celestial Atlas (1822) by Alexander Jamieson. Algol is the large star in Medusa’s head at the lower left.

The first lunar conjunction in Minneapolis/St. Paul is when the Moon is on the Ascendant at 23 Taurus, and Algol is a few minutes away from the Moon and the Ascendant; at around 3:30 AM on June 18; the second is later that morning about 10:05 AM, when the Algol conjoins the Moon and is applying to Midheaven. In the first, the Moon is close enough to amplify the power of Algol – it’s not at 26 Taurus, but within a few degrees. In the second, the Moon’s position overlaps that of the star on the ecliptic – a precise conjunction. You will want to check the configuration in your own area.

When a star or planet is in conjunction with the Moon it’s often used for talismans, but can be called on to empower spells, prayers, and intentions too. Why? Many believe the lunar conjunction allows the power of the star or planet to manifest on Earth. Algol is known as one of the most powerful of the stars and good for protection work. It is a notoriously wicked star and the protection it offers is the hard kind, a fitting choice for this bitter season when the gloves are off in so many ways. If you want to read in stark terms what Algol meant to Renaissance esotericists, I strongly recommend Peter Mark Adams’ The Game of Saturn.

The Moon is waning June 18. That means it’s better for magic for removing problematic conditions than building things up, which is better to do under a waxing moon. I suggest using these elections for removing harm from black and brown skinned people who are targets of racism and anti-protest violence, and removal of 45 – destroying the possibility of re-election and making him a lame duck til the next president takes office. But feel free to use it as needed.

Good plants for incense or candle dressing in this work are Hellebore and Mugwort (but use it in a well ventilated area and do not breathe in Hellebore smoke!), and the stone is Diamond (I use inexpensive, uncut ones). A suitable invocation is the Orphic Hymn to Astron, using Algol as the star’s name (see the end of this blog for a version of the hymn to use as the invocation). I also recommend a black candle. But in a pinch, just the invocation and statement of intent at the time of either or both elections will do the trick.

“The Constellation Perseus”. Miniature from an illustrated copy of al-Sufi’s Kitab suwar al-kawakib (The Book of Fixed Stars)
Iran; mid-15th century.

A very good, straightforward, and well sourced book on fixed star astrological magic is Christopher Warnock’s Fixed Star, Sign and Constellation Magic. If a fixed star or planetary election is new for you, I recommend having your altar/work area set up and your wish/intent or sigil ready by 10 minutes before the election and starting the work then (see below for step-by-step instructions). Ideally, you want to state your intention with emotion and conviction right at the minute of the election. If you had time in that 10 minutes you could repeat the Orphic Hymn invocation, etc. more than once, but state the intent right at 3:30 AM or 10:05 AM, depending on which time you’re using. Then when done, thank Algol. That’s it. If you have more elaborate things you do in your personal practice to start/close a ritual (temple opening/closing, banishing, energy raising…), as long as you get the timing right for the actual intent, by all means use them.

Calling the Demon Star Step-by-Step

What you’ll need: Algol invocation (see below) and a suitable wish or intention.

Note that these instructions can be followed for any suitable election, and adapted for use with any fixed star. An excellent and easy to use source is Warnock’s Fixed Star, Sign & Constellation Magic. It’s not only written in clear language, it quotes heavily from translations of the original grimoires the author consulted. The use of the Orphic Hymn to Astron for invocation is borrowed from Kaitlin Coppock at Sphere and Sundry.

Optional: Black candle (4″ temple chime candle will do), Mugwort, Hellebore, a hookah charcoal tablet to burn the plants as incense, Diamond (any kind – uncut, earring or ring, etc.), a suitable metal container for charcoal and incense, something to extinguish fire if an accident occurred, an image of Medusa, and the sigil of Algol (printouts of images from this blog will do).

Begin about 10 minutes before the election time. Have all ingredients you will use on hand and the images of Medusa and the sigil displayed on your altar or work area.

1) Light the candle and/or charcoal for burning Mugwort and/or Hellebore. If using it for incense, keep adding it as needed during the work. Dried Hellebore is not easy to find, Mugwort alone is less ideal but ok.

2) For the invocation, read the Orphic Hymn to Astron substituting Algol for the star’s name (see below).

3) Watch the time and repeat the invocation until you reach the ritual moment (3:30 or 10:05 AM for Minneapolis/St. Paul), then state your intention. If you have your own wish or statement of intent in mind you can use that, or you can use what I propose: ask Algol to remove harm from targets of racism and anti-protest violence, and to remove 45 from office, destroying the possibility of his re-election and making him a lame duck til the next president takes office.

4) Briefly meditate on what you’ve accomplished, then thank Algol for working with you and safely extinguish the candle and incense. If you work both conjunctions, you can save what’s left of the candle after 3:30 AM to use for the 10:05 election.

Remember, you can also just do the invocation followed by your wish or statement of intent at the time of the election in step 3, but the other steps will help if you are able to do them. Algol’s sigil can also be carved into the candle with a pin before you begin.

Note on safety: If you choose to work with fire, whether a candle, incense, or charcoal, you do so at your own risk. As always, do it safely and be ready to extinguish any or all of them when you finish the work or if something accidentally catches fire. Don’t burn yourself!

Algol sigil.

Orphic Hymn to Astron, Adapted for the Algol Invocation

Translated by Thomas Taylor, 1792

With holy voice I call the star ALGOL on high, pure sacred lights and genii of the sky.
Celestial star, the progeny of Night, in whirling circles beaming far your light,
Refulgent rays around the heav’ns ye throw, eternal fires, the source of all below.
With flames significant of Fate ye shine, and aptly rule for men a path divine.
In seven bright zones ye run with wand’ring flames, and heaven and earth compose your lucid frames:
With course unwearied, pure and fiery bright forever shining thro’ the veil of Night.
Hail twinkling, joyful, ever wakeful fires! Propitious shine on all my just desires;
These sacred rites regard with conscious rays, and end our works devoted to your praise.

The structure of this ritual is basic and similar to that in Agrippa and Warnock. It could potentially be adapted for use with any fixed star, with the appropriate sigil, incense, and color of candle.

Sources

Adams, Peter Mark (2017). The Game of Saturn. Scarlet Imprint.

Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius (1509-). Writings of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535). Digital editions by Joseph H. Peterson. http://www.esotericarchives.com/agrippa/index.html, accessed 16/06/2020

Butler, Ryhann (2020). Sagittarius Full Moon Magical Elections. Medieval Astrology Podcast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=KE_WNBx5Dhk&feature=youtu.be, last accessed 17/07/2020

Coppock, Kaitlin (2018). The Orphic Hymns + Fixed Star Hack. https://sphereandsundry.com/the-orphic-hymns-fixed-star-hack/

Greer, John Michael, and Christopher Warnock (2011). The Complete Picatrix. Adocentyn Press.

Taylor, Thomas (1792). Orphic Hymns 1-40. Theoi Project – Classical Texts Library. https://www.theoi.com/Text/OrphicHymns1.html#5, accessed 16/06/2020

Warnock, Christopher (2019). Fixed Star, Sign & Constellation Magic. Renaissance Astrology Press.

Golden Rulers

“Fuck!”

The branch caught his cheek just below the eye. It was too dark to see but he felt it.

There wasn’t any blood and he still had his eye.

He opened the flask, took a pull, closed it, and put it back in his pocket.

He looked up the trail. It was so dark now he could see only a few feet ahead. He spat and started walking again as he had for the last half hour.

All those fuckers he’d had to bear for all these years. He didn’t like them much. Well, okay, he did when they listened to him. Laughed at his jokes. All those talks. At least it made him stand out, that’s the important thing. Doing so much good and they don’t even care. Not even her sometimes.

He kept walking. Slowly at first, then faster when he felt sure he wasn’t going to get scratched in the face again or lose an eye.

The next grade. Looking forward to that. They’ll have to listen. He spent so much time taking orders. I’m the one they should be listening to, he thought. I know more than they do. Knew more when I walked in the door. And it was harder for me. He felt a little sad and brushed it off. No more. Not after tonight.

He kept going.

——

How much further was it? He thought he saw the cave mouth and stepped a little further. It was just a patch of shadows between a few pines.

He walked some more and stubbed his toe on a rock in the trail. “Fuck!” A little louder than before. Fucking sandals. He kept going.

More than five years. They gotta let me run things after this. He said a little prayer for it, silently. I have so much to give, he thought. I’m not taking anything away from anyone. I level up and everybody wins. They don’t know how good they’ve got it.

After the full moon I’ll remove any resistance. Easy. My spirit will do that. Trapped.

He was so proud of himself he lost track of what he was doing for a second. He pulled himself together and kept walking.

His mind was racing a little now and he didn’t like it. He told himself to enjoy this. He wanted to remember and savor the moment when he got the secret to being in charge. He deserved it. Sometimes she didn’t think so. She always supported him, but he was sure she didn’t completely believe him. He tried to quiet that voice in his head, thought of how she’d helped him finish the damn test and felt a little better.

Felt a lot better. This will be great. I didn’t even have to psych myself into it, he thought. On he walked.

——

He slowed down. Is this it? Probably just another bunch of shadows.

He doubted his eyes for moment but there it was. He stopped and took the last slug of booze from his flask. He turned on the flashlight and walked into the cave.

It was pretty spacey. He was glad he didn’t have to squeeze through anything but wished he saw some graffiti or something. A little trash at least. Is this the right place?

He was getting excited, almost felt a little wood. This is our time. This is MY time. He thought of them partying below. I have to get laid tonight, he thought. After all this I deserve it. No matter how tired or drunk she gets, she can’t say no. Not tonight. The full 9 yards. He thought of the booze down there. They better save some for me. They better save a lot.

He turned back and was far enough in that he couldn’t see the entrance any more. He pointed the flashlight forward and kept walking. He wondered for a second if she’d felt like this when she did it. She should have told him what it says. He’d learned enough to know there was a secret message he’d have to recite to them to prove he’d done it before taking the next grade. That was all.

A message. What I’m supposed to do. What a joke.

She should have just told me. What if I’d drank more tonight and forgot? I deserve this. I’m in charge.

The passage was closing up, not as wide, getting more constricted. Was it close? Will I have to keep going, like for an hour or something?

It got smaller and smaller. He kept going. Should I duck?

At least I’m not thinking I want a drink anymore. Then he realized he just had. Fuck.

Is that it? There’s something up ahead. That’s not it, just shadows.

He got closer. The cave stopped. Something was carved in the wall at the end. This is it.

He read it.

“Mind your own business.”

Earwig Anthropology

This is something I’ve practiced more and more since the current administration took office. People who want to control tend to copy what they see. This is even more sus in our post pop-anarchy world. These tips will help you know who your friends are. You may have compassion for the rest but you’ll want to be careful.

What you’ll need: Your intuition

You may find someone you think you can trust occasionally dropping word about other people that rings a bell for you inside. You’ll be talking about something vaguely related, and you’ll hear something like “I wonder about (your sensei),” “I hear (your friend does X),” you enjoy running and have no problems but are told “I hear it’s bad for the knees.”

Collect that in your head. The fact that it drew your attention like a stubbed toe is a tip off. If it comes from some esotericist, well, there’s nothing wrong with that but you may want to consider that this may be a person dedicated to having things their way no matter how it impacts you. Or maybe because it impacts you. Cuz it’s fun for them.

Now – don’t say anything. This is the field study phase. See how often it happens. And how. Does it seem phony and calculated? I have found the earwig is popular with some work supervisors, and among people in some in groups I’ve worked with, usually near the top. If you see it being done by multiple people who are friends or partners, you may have found an earwig’s den.

The difference between expression and manipulation is often shown by how it occurs, and this is where you want to wear your earwig anthropologist’s hat and make careful observations. Now that you’re watching, can you tell it’s contrived? People share opinions and if someone is worked up about another person crossing a friend, I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s when you see it being done very calmly and quietly. That’s usually a sign someone is using some shoddy internet NLP and are confident that you don’t know what they’re up to. But you have an inner bell and you listened.

What do you do if you get the earwig’s message and see this happening? Don’t say anything yet. They will pass the same things on about you to other people, or if they are doing that already they’ll step it up. Talk about it with someone you absolutely trust. Good anthropology means sharing findings and peer review. Watch your back. And take stock of the landscape. Should you be distancing yourself from the situation? Find a new job? If you do opt to confront I recommend being inconsistent. If someone is seeking control, inconsistency will confuse them and that’s good. Agree with them in one meeting, disagree the next. If you are usually sweet they may take that as being a pushover. You can use that to your advantage. You could be surly. But be very careful you don’t endanger a work situation if that will hurt you!

Getting the earwig’s message and knowing what’s up is a win. You have a better understanding of who’s working against you and how. Lying liars have a few typical responses to being found out. One is going ballistic. They may call you all sorts of names, etc. Usually that is just going to work against them, others will worry why they’re so crazy. Another is to claim they’ve been hurt. In this case, don’t react but don’t commit. We just saw Nancy Pelosi tear it up in response to the SOTU.

She can do that because she’s Pelosi and her professional record and balls are bigger and better than 45s. In many cases a simple “I didn’t mean to do that” will suffice. An apology with no apology that puts their impressions in question.

Earwiggers like to claim you or someone else is the problem. We love you Grant, no matter what they say.

Another is they keep their poise. Those are the expert earwiggers, the ones you really have to watch out for. Continue your fieldwork. You may need a grant 🙂

The Mag!c of Lovecraft

That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.

Alhazred (Al Azif)
Cover of Heavy Metal, October 1978.

After speaking on Chaos Magic earlier this year, I recently gave a talk to the MN Left Hand Path Community on H.P. Lovecraft at Magus Books in Minneapolis. Many thanks to the LHP Community and Magus, as well as Jezebel Pride for inviting me back. If you don’t already subscribe, check out Jezebel’s blog. I highly recommend it. She is a tireless advocate of the LHP and her blog is inspiring.

Simon’s Necronomicon, the handy paperback edition kids have used to usher in the end times since the 1970s.

Before my talk, Satan’s Little Book Club convened at Magus to discuss Simon’s Necronomicon. This was the first occult book I owned and has a fascinating introduction that draws parallels between the dark entities and elements of Lovecraft’s fiction and the most notorious and beloved magician of the last century, Aleister Crowley. Simon wasn’t the first to cover that ground, a few years earlier Kenneth Grant did the same in The Magical Revival. Grant had been Crowley’s secretary at the end of his life and was also a close friend of Austin Osman Spare. The Magical Revival had a seminal role in reintroducing the world to AOS and by doing so, jump starting the Chaos Magic movement. There’s an odd history there – Grant professed leadership of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) while Chaos Magic was a move away from existing institutions like the Golden Dawn, the OTO, and Wicca. I’m not going to go into that here but it’s worth mentioning just so I don’t give the impression that Grant was an advocate or leader in the development of CM. Nor is Grant (now deceased) widely accepted as a former head of the OTO. But he was interesting. Alan Moore called him “a schoolboy gone berserk on brimstone aftershave,” which is a colorful and somewhat endearing epitaph you may agree with before we’re done. People will forgive you for being wrong, but not for failing to be interesting.

The Magical Revival. Kenneth Grant beat Simon by a few years and was probably part of the inspiration for his Necronomicon.

A lot of people these days are more interested in Cthulhu plush dolls and pseudo Necronomicons than the man who conceived them. The presentation gave me a soapbox to talk about H. P. Lovecraft himself and magic in his fiction, as well as reputed parallels between the work of HPL and Crowley. I wrapped things up with some of what’s new with Lovecraft even though he’s been dead since 1936, particularly the grapic novels of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows. These include everything from Cthulhu cultists dealing Aklo letters to muggles like street drugs, to the sex lives of the Deep Ones and bondage gear from Y’ha nthlei. Their most recent collaboration, Providence, is a history of the 20th and early 21st century that culminates in the horrifying end of it all. Apocalypse has never been so fun.

The Courtyard, Neonomicon, and Providence, by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (Avatar)

I began with Lovecraft’s bio. I’m not going to recount that now, there are plenty of good sources including Wikipedia. However, the concept of a Cthulhu Mythos is not technically Lovecraft’s but something August Derleth imposed on Lovecraft’s body of work after his death. HPL’s writing included avid correspondence with fellow authors like the creator of Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard, and the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch. These pen pals, collectively known as the Lovecraft Circle, played a game in which they drew elements from each other’s writing into their own stories, like the Necronomicon and Cthulhu. Derleth aside, you could say that’s how the Cthulhu Mythos took root and grew, later Derleth gave it a spooky name. There are more details on the Lovecraft Circle and the hermeneutic circle they developed with the Cthulhu Mythos at another blog I highly recommend, Whispered in Stygia. WiS also discusses Howard’s fictional grimoire Nameless Cults and parallels between the Lovecraft Circle’s black books and historical books of magic.

Although he’s now recognized worldwide as a great American author, Lovecraft was virtually unknown during his lifetime. He also shares the strange honor with other talented Americans like Jerry Lewis of being venerated by French intellectuals – Lovecraft’s pulp horror fiction is a topic in the work of philosophers Deleuze and Guatarri in their book A Thousand Plateaus.

In a future installment I’ll dive headfirst into occultists’ fixation with Lovecraft, the Necronomicon, and other delights. TTFN

Sources

Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari (1987), A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. University of Minnesota.

Grant. Kenneth (1972), The Magical Revival. Muller.

Heavy Metal, October 1978.

Moore, Alan, and Jacen Burrows (2003), The Courtyard. Avatar Press.

Moore, Alan, and Jacen Burrows (2010-2011), Neonomicon. Avatar Press.

Moore, Alan, and Jacen Burrows (2015-2017), Providence. Avatar Press.

Simon (1977), Necronomicon. Avon.

I Met a Vampire: This blog is a public service announcement

This PSA is brought to you by it’s Friday. Although allegorical I think the following is realistic, but if you read to the end you may be surprised.

I met a vampire. The milk of human kindness was poison to him, so he set about to sour it. How hard would this be? Does anyone really like vampires? Despondency, angst, fear, etc. are acceptable. Everything in the selfish family. Here’s an example. Once I sat in his living room and he told me how mad he was about me helping someone I’m close to. Most people are going to be angry at anyone who challenges what they do for someone they love. Whether you agreed or disagreed it was a win for him.

At first I liked the guy. Then he got to work souring things and I liked him less and less. And he drank. I grew angrier, he drank some more. It’s a little embarrassing to relate because this was not a debonair vampire. He was unkempt, bathed infrequently, ate with noisy slurps, and cried publicly when he was cut off or dinner wasn’t flowing fast enough. No one else could get away with that, certainly not me, but somehow it was always okay for him. Call me a fool. I let it go on and on. If hindsight was foresight it would be obvious but they’re tricky creatures, good at disguises and their best trick, of course, is we don’t believe in them. When what was happening finally began to dawn on me, I told myself it was a field study, I should learn what we’re dealing with here. That was a mistake. Still he fed.

There’s not much use in telling anyone. A few people asked me what was going on. They complained about anemia. I pointed to him and said “duh, he’s a vampire.” When you tell someone there’s a vampire they might listen but most of the time that’s not going to last. Pus can be dripping from your pierced ectoplasmic shell and you’ll hear “he’s a really good person.” Everyone around you might say you’re nuts and you may feel like the crazy one but believe me, it only gets better when you get away and cut off contact.

I firmly believe in enlightened interdependence. If you want to share your blood or anything else, go right ahead. Just be sure that’s actually your opinion and not someone else’s. With all the neurolinguistic programming and everything else these days it can be hard to tell. Look at how social media skewed the last election. Is your mind really your own? If they ever get you to stare at a pendant, listen to their chanting, meditate with them or anything else like that, you’re a goner.

The vampire is a territorial creature. If you enter a social circle where they’re already established, you don’t stand a chance. They will already have everyone else won over to their side. When anyone complains about them, they’ll say “but you don’t have any right to interfere with how I live.” It sounds right, and when you’re with a vampire your critical faculties will be compromised. Being near one feels a lot like being underwater. You feel like agreeing until they leave and your head clears. Fooled again.

In moments like that it’s helpful to have some sure fire markers of a vampire memorized. It helps cut through the fog even when you’re in their dampening field. It’s a lot like remembering something like a phone number in a dream. Here’s one. Never trust someone you’re in a conflict with who says something like “I’m glad you came over, I only wish you’d stay.” Who in their right mind would want someone they think is an asshole to stay any longer than absolutely necessary? A vampire, that’s who. Nothing is sweeter to them than this kind of dissonance.

If you had astral vision in a moment like that you’d see them glommed onto your head, humping your ear with tentacle protuberances in the place of a mouth jammed in every open orifice you’ve got. And the look on their faces…pure orgasmic bliss getting stronger and stronger as they continue to hump and hump, while you get madder and madder and madder. Sooo sweet for them. Unless of course you’re resistant. Then it’s painful and alarming to them. The vampire is egotistical and used to getting its way.

In the end if you are one of the one in several thousand people that can resist them, a vampire is going to want you gone, and gone for good. They can’t have intelligence catching on, everything needs to be dumbed down, everyone in a constant state of confusion and/or frustration. The only solution is to find compassion for them no matter how impossible that might seem while you also speak your mind completely and with no hesitation. It’s not easy, under a vampire’s sway a mob of villagers will easily turn their torches on you. If it’s like that the best thing to do is to hit the road as fast as you can. Sooner or later their prey become secondary vampires and that is not a pretty picture.

The only people they can really tolerate is their own children. They can shape them without having to explain a thing and it all seems perfectly normal. The social contract. Who ever really questions what anyone does with their kids? In the early stages, their children will carry out their wishes just to please them even if they regret it later. Half the time they won’t even know what their parent is doing. The inner turmoil that causes the kiddies is just the kind of habitat the vampire needs. If they won’t comply? That’s also frustrating for the child and they become another victim, first of mom or dad, then later on of siblings who take up the mantle. Unless they manage to get away. Most never do.

If the vampire sees there’s no use trying any more and they really need you gone, they’ll do something so heinous you can’t stand it another minute and you have to get away. This generates a final draught of the sweet nectar of your vital fluids for them at the same time they get you out of their hair. They don’t kill much anymore, it leaves a trail of evidence and lessens their chance of survival.

When a vampire is exposed you have only two courses of action (well three, if you feel opening another vein is an answer). You can kill them. For just about everyone this is not realistic, but historically it wasn’t difficult. Look at the archaeological evidence for bog bodies pinned under boulders in swamps and marshes and the increasing number of ancient “vampire burials” being uncovered in Romania and other places in Eastern Europe, in which the remains are found with a stake through the heart.

Now killing is not much better for us than it is for them. These days the best answer is first to get away, then to to live and let live. Finding compassion for even the worst parasites in the world is actually a great repellant. In the end you’ll be glad you did. Life gets better and better. Most people have a hard time developing this faculty, with good reason. It seems counter- intuitive but it’s four-alarm psychic kryptonite to all their kind. They may try to come around, briefly, but no vampire will really bother you ever again.

God bless everyone. No exceptions.

Reflections of Zos: Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956)

Art can contradict science.

– Austin Osman Spare

What Spare is doing is “tricking” us. All his writings are symbolic, they were never intended to be taken literally, as illustrations, on any level. His writings are primarily journals, decorative encryptions of basic techniques of travel. But they are appendices to the REAL work. This special trick was to convince everybody that his drawings, paintings, and images were symbolic, fantastical, products of his imagination. They are in fact the essence of his sorcery.

– Genesis P-Orridge 1995
Spare in his later years. (http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos.html)

About one month ago (in April 2019 if you read this in the far future 🙂 ), I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on Chaos Magic to Minnesota’s Left Hand Path Community in Minneapolis. We had great discussions afterward and it gave me something to blog about: Austin Osman Spare, who came up in the talk and about whom there is always more to say.

Austin Osman Spare is often considered the grandfather of Chaos Magic, something he would have probably scoffed at. Refusing membership in Aleister Crowley’s magical order, the A∴A∴, Spare wrote:

Others praise ceremonial Magic, and are supposed to suffer much Ecstasy! Our asylums are over-crowded, the stage is over-run! Is it by symbolizing we become the symbolized? Were I to crown myself King, should I be King? Rather should I be an object of disgust or pity. These Magicians, whose insincerity is their safety, are but the unemployed dandies of the Brothels.

– Austin Osman Spare, The Book of Pleasure (self-love)

In Spare’s ridicule of ceremonial magicians, it’s hard not to see his ire directed at Crowley himself. For his part, on the one hand Crowley remembered him fondly. The two may have been lovers based on the Beast’s steamy poem “The Twins” that he dedicated to the artist (Crowley n.d.). On the other, Crowley later accused Spare of being a “Black Brother,” a magician that refuses to surrender her/his ego at the required moment and becomes corrupted by it. Or in this case, maybe one who became contemptible to a self-styled magus he criticized and would not follow. How many have found themselves in a similar boat?

Based on egos it’s little surprise these precocious magicians clashed. One was a poet, a celebrated mountain climber, and a renowned exhibitionist; the other a reclusive artist of national renown before the age of 20. Whether true or not, labeling Spare egotistical is the pot calling the kettle black. Yet despite their differences, their approaches to magic are sometimes characterized as much the same. Although occult authors may cohabit the same bookstore shelves, all magic is not alike. That’s as true of different magicians as it is of different magics practiced by the same adept.

In Liber Null which doubles as the syllabus of the Chaos Magic order Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT), Peter Carroll defines magic as “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will” (Carroll 1987). In Magick in Theory and Practice (accessible through Liber ABA: Magick, Book 4), Crowley defines magick as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” You can see where Carroll got his inspiration for this. It’s a very good encompassing definition at that, which is why so many people use it. However, Spare’s approach in some ways contradicts it, which is part of what makes him so interesting. While Carrol’s definition does include art, one doesn’t get the sense that includes the draughtsman’s art that was Spare’s. Traditional science has a linear approach to time and events. Following this, the scientific approach to magic carefully records operations, and the circumstances under which they were performed, to determine what is and isn’t effective when the results (or lack of them) are known. A linear approach to cause and effect, even if why the magic works is unknown. Although his ability as an artist was not just a matter of gift and talent but also practice, the height of Spare’s sorcery eludes the possibility of boxing it into a practical methodology and tracking results in this way.

Spare’s popularity with occultists today has less to do with his provocative art than his sigilizing technique, described in The Book of Pleasure (Spare 1913) and most famously by Carroll in Liber Null. While the technique is well worth looking into, as Genesis P-Orridge eloquently argues in his essay “Virtual Mirrors,” Spare’s greatest sorceries were his drawings and paintings.

Drawing by Spare incorporating sigils (from Pilkington n.d.).

Spare’s technique as widely used by chaos magicians can be summarized as follows:

1) Construct a phrase detailing the magical intent.

2) Eliminate vowels and duplicate letters.

3) Artistically recombine the remaining letters to form a sigil like the examples shown.

4) Release the sigil to do its work by exhausting oneself, thereby forgetting the intent to avoid conflicting thoughts and intentions that might prevent it from manifesting. (“We are not free to believe…however much we so desire, having conflicting ideas to first exhaust.” – The Book of Pleasure)

A sample of sigils created by AOS with his Alphabet of Desire. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Exhaustion is achieved by focusing on the sigil in an ‘inhibitory’ or ‘excitatory’ state, in other words by focusing all attention on it while shutting off the rest of the mind. This can be done by staring at the sigil during trance, while reaching intense emotional states (anger, fear, or joy), or at orgasm either solo or with a partner when the mind is emptied of other things. Gordon White provides an effective meditative approach in “Wish Granting Squiggles,” chapter 7 of The Chaos Protocols. Spare himself favored the death posture described in the The Book of Pleasure. The mechanism that activates the sigil is described somewhat differently by Spare and modern chaotes, but is generally thought to involve placing the sigil unobstructed into the subconscious where the desire would be recognized and result in an obsession that must be fulfilled.

There’s no reason not to adjust these steps or the entire method to one’s own liking (“nothing is true, everything is permitted”), but it’s a useful procedure to follow if one has never done it before. In fact, Kenneth Grant, who was Spare’s friend at the end of his life, describes the artist’s views on the necessity of defining one’s own approach:

It was Spare’s opinion that for this language to be truly effective, each individual should evolve his own, creating his sigils from the material nearest to hand – his own subconscious.

Kenneth Grant 1972

Please note, this means it is not necessary nor desirable to learn and use any traditional body of sigils, seals, or the like. While a lot of practitioners consider the step-by-step method above to be the beginning and end of the sigil method, the sky is literally the limit. Other forms of sigil magic include turning the intent into a mantra or incantation that can be chanted or sung, fashioning a pictographic image rather than one combining letters, and dance or other forms of physical performance.

Stop at sigils? Gen says “nah.” (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

But what about Spare’s art? If P-Orridge is right, he understood that his drawings were not mere representations but as “real” as the subjects, like a mirror indissolubly linked to what it reflects.

Space and time are overcome in his sorcery, his art mirrors capturing the essence of his subjects for future resurgence, including himself. Creating immortality or “a very different form of mortality,” through his art.

…There is a drawing in my possession by Spare, a pencil and gouache, finished in 1928. The main figure is Mrs. Paterson. Coming from behind her head, making a blister in a shimmering green pencilled aura, is a half completed face. It belongs to no-one, everyone. It is her at times, it is cavalier, it is also Austin Osman Spare. This one picture contains all the secrets Spare never wrote down, and his books are thorough, precise, and often opaque. Spare appears in the bottom right-hand corner, represented as he projects he will look as an old man, eyes closed, concentrated, manifesting, it would seem, the other beings in the picture. Remarkably, his projection of an older SELF is uncannily accurate.

Genesis P-Orridge 1995

To provide some context, Yelda Paterson is the elderly witch that initiated Spare into magic as a teenager, also a close friend and lover. Observers have seen the image move, in P-Orridge’s opinion because Spare captured some of the life essence of the subjects in it, who live on through Spare’s work. There is more to say about Spare’s art in a future post.

The beauty of Chaos Magic lies in more than its simplicity and the highly accessible method of working with “wish granting squiggles.” Its impact on other forms of magic and on society in general are owed to its role as an example of archaic revival (I’m not saying Terrance McKenna was right, but I do think he’s “good to think with”). Despite the differences I noted earlier between Spare and Crowley, for the early chaotes Chaos Magic was a project of stripping other traditions of dogma and non-essential components to arrive at the shamanic core they all share, Thelemic magick included. “When stripped of local symbolism and terminology, all systems show a remarkable uniformity of method. This is because all systems ultimately derive from the tradition of Shamanism” (Carroll 1987). Whether this is owed to recovering the common ancient strata of these practices, the shared human (and non-human) capabilities that power them, or something else is still an open question. Without a doubt Austin Osman Spare was, as Lionell Snell (1987) called him, the “master shaman” of this new form of “shamanistic Sorcery.” While many attempt to duplicate it through the sigil method, that is only be a hollow echo of his real magic.

Sources

Carroll, Peter (1987), Liber Null and Psychonaut. Weiser.

Crowley, Aleister (n.d.), The Twins, accessed 24 April 2019: http://mypoeticside/show-classic-poem-6834

Crowley, Aleister (2012), Liber ABA: Magick, Book 4, 2nd revised ed. Weiser.

Pilkington, Mark (n.d.), “Atavism to Zos: Spare’s Philosophy and Magic.” Accessed 22 May 2019: http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos15.html

Grant, Kenneth (1972), The Magical Revival. Muller.

P-Orridge, Genesis (1995), “Virtual Mirrors: Thee Prophetic Portals ov Austin Osman Spare in T.I.M.E.” Available at the Genesis Breyer P-Orridge online archive, accessed 22 May 2019: http://genesisporridgearchive.blogspot.com/2014/11/virtual-mirrors-austin-osman-spare.html?zx=2be454646eb2031b

Snell, Lionell (1987), “Exploring Spare’s Magic.” Fulgur. Accessed 22 May 2019: https://fulgur.co.uk/austin-osman-spare/exploring-spares-magic/?v=7516fd43adaa

Spare, Austin Osman (1916), The Book of Pleasure (self love). Available at the Hermetic Library, accessed 24 April 2019: https://hermetic.com/spare/pleasure

White, Gordon (2015), The Chaos Protocols. Red Wheel/Weiser.