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.

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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.

Lamps and Tarot

Yesterday we had a great meeting of the MN Folk Magic Society at Magus Books in Minneapolis – we shared knowledge and experience around similarities between Trolldom and Hoodoo, candle magic, setting conditions to limit effects in spell work, and I shared a Saturnian lamp/candle and Tarot Fall Equinox spell. We ended waiting out the rain at Magus. It was such a good time, thanks everyone.

I talked through the spell but did not provide a handout. I will email anyone who wants the spell for free, but you have to follow the blog (which just means you’ll get an email when a new one is posted) and use the Contact page to request that I send you the PDF.

What to do:

  1. In the middle of the top of the page, click Contact.
  2. Fill out the form telling me you want the spell and send it. I’ll respond with a PDF.

If you already follow and want it, please go to the contact page and ask me to send it to you. The meeting is free, the spell is free, but I’m building up interest and blog followers. Won’t you help? After I have at least 20 followers I will pay to make the ads go away from the blog page.

Our meeting is held monthly and open to the public. It was our second at Magus, we are meeting monthly on Sat but working towards a groove of which Sat (2nd each month, etc.). I’ll keep posting events here, as well on Facebook’s Minnesota Folk Magic Society page. Magus also posts it on the Arcane Academy calendar on the Magus website. We are folk AND arcane academia 🙂

I’ll post the spell here later, but after I do it and have results. So not til a month or more after 9/23, Fall Equinox.

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. It was a joy, we had 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 ritual 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 seems to be 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 it so interesting. While the 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, with a scientific approach to magic focused on carefully recording 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 sequence of 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 capturing it in a practical methodology conducive to 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 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.

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 and moody 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

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. I will write more 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 may only be a hollow echo of his real magic.


This is the first part in of an AOS love fest that starts with some basics of his ideas and approach to magic as used today. More on his art, artistic career, and an image gallery will be covered in future post(s).

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.

Divination for Spell Work

Some of us have a well-developed sense of what will and won’t work for us. Their spider sense tingles when they’re about to hit an icy patch on the road of life. But maybe you don’t or you’d like more insight. When mine tingles, I’m simply unsure, or there are a lot of balls in the air and it’s difficult to say how they’ll land in a particular situation, I do an I Ching or Tarot reading, or both, to determine the probable outcome.

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I’m still a fool, but I use divination to avoid difficult situations and recover more quickly. (image: Wikimedia commons)

Not everyone does, it’s a personal choice. I know from experience that my ego sometimes clouds my judgement and I benefit from the insight of divination. In fact, divination has been my one constant tether to the invisible world even through years when I was not practicing magic. I’ve used the I Ching since I was 17 and I’m grateful for the assistance the Shen, or celestials, provide me through this remarkable book. I also use Tarot, playing cards, and other means for information on probable outcomes. If you do it you know how helpful it can be. If you don’t, you might want to try it. Sometimes we just want to take our chances and don’t care a lot about the knocks and bruises life may bring us. If you’re younger than me and better positioned socially than I was in years past, you may not feel the need for a reading. But help is available if you want a little insurance, or you’ve skinned your knee casting a spell and want to do better next time.

If there is a psychic censor or something else that inhibits sigil work or other kinds of magic, it may have a purpose. Would you really like it if every stray thought you had manifested physically? Before you cast a spell, you have the option to find out how the effects might ripple through your life. Sigil making is so easy that you could find yourself launching numerous and even contradictory spells that interfere with one another. It’s been said that “magic follows the path of least resistance.” This means that things with a good probability of success will be helped along by magic, while pursuit of the impossible may be a waste of time and effort. (But never doubt that with the right incentive, skill, and elbow grease, the seemingly miraculous can happen—what we colloquially refer to as magic!) If you want to win the lottery you have to buy a ticket. But millions of others are going to buy one too. Even if buying the ticket and magic get you closer to the prize, do you want to spend the money on dozens of tickets if you’re never going to win? Before undertaking any significant magic, it’s beneficial to determine the likely outcome through some form of divination. It will help you clarify your wishes among competing alternatives and decide which are worth your efforts. If you need more money, the cards may suggest it’s time to find a new job instead of spending more on lotto tickets when it’s not going to pay off. Then you can plan a course of action to improve your chances of landing a dream job.

A good Tarot or I Ching reading can help you gather intelligence, sharpen your focus to improve your chances of success, or may warn you of the unforeseen problems that might follow some act. It’s also been said that every wish is answered, only sometimes the answer is “no,” or the way it might manifest is not something you’d really want. Remember The Monkey’s Paw? If you’d known the outcome in advance, maybe you’d have not wanted what you wished for in the first place.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide the best approach for you. Divination can help you make informed decisions and bolster your internal Spidey sense.

Think about it. You might want revenge for some loss you’ve experienced. Upon reflection, you might be better off pursuing your ultimate goal rather than wasting your time and energy trying to harm an enemy or bitter rival—e.g., finding a new lover worth your time rather than messing up a rival that your ex will eventually throw over just like you. A Tarot reading that includes the Justice card (11, one of my numbers) may be telling you just that.

The Justice card in a reading may advise that you seek balance and forego revenge. (image: Wikimedia commons)

Similarly, if you’re in a conflict it’s often better to step out of the line of fire rather than to engage in direct combat. That can leave competitors wasting their energy trying to bring you down while you safely move closer to success with your goals. Maybe some protection work would help.
If divination is new to you, try asking a skilled friend to read for you or hire a good professional. In fact, some recommend never reading for yourself, but again that’s a personal choice.

Whether or not you have a well-developed intuition, divination provides added insight on chances of success or possible impacts of spell work. (Marvel black light greeting card by Third Eye, 1971)

There are countless books about divination. The one I began with was Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein. It gives detailed instructions for getting started with Tarot, the I Ching, and tips on astrology as well. It also gives helpful advice on avoiding common pitfalls and pratfalls in the art. Note that Weinstein’s book is out of print, you might find one used, but there are lots of good books and websites on the topic. Go to the bookstore and skim through some books on the Tarot, I Ching, etc. and see which one feels right to you. Some prefer to work with playing cards rather than the Tarot and just about everyone already has them. I had good results with methods in Professor Charles Porterfield’s A Deck of Spells almost out of the box. The best reader I’ve ever known only used playing cards and whatever kabbalistic significance you want to give to the Tarot (and there’s really no reason you shouldn’t), she was still better than more educated ceremonial magicians. Skills.

Divination gives you a window not on some grim fate that awaits you, but the probable outcome if things continue as they’re going at the time of the reading. I recently talked with someone who said that when she took an abnormal psych course, the teacher warned the class they would probably start to imagine that they had symptoms of the illnesses they were going to learn about, it would freak them out, and they should try to let it pass. In divination, with the wrong interpretive guide or an overactive imagination, before long you may be paralyzed with fear about some hideous, imaginary fate lurking for you in the shadows, especially the first time you draw the Death card! You have to learn to let it pass and take an expansive view of the meanings in divination whether you use Tarot cards, I Ching hexagrams, tea leaves or anything else.

Divination gives you insight on how to alter your trajectory or intention so you can arrive at the kind of outcome you’re looking for. A good way to go about that is to formulate your question for the cards or oracle something like this:

“What will be the probable outcome if I do spell work (or a sigil, or a curse, etc.) to acheive X.”

With magic you enter a quantum world in which exciting new possibilities are just around the corner! Divination will help you to find and follow the paths to your heart’s desire. 

Sources

Porterfield, Charles (2015), A Deck of Spells: Hoodoo Playing Card Magic in Rootwork and Conjure. Lucky Mojo Curio Company.
http://www.professorporterfield.com/a-deck-of-spells.html

Weinstein, Marion (2002), Positive Magic. New Page Books.

Chaos Redux: Sigil Fetishism

If you could truly believe, we should realise the virtue of it. We are not free to believe .  .  .  .  however much we so desire, having conflicting ideas to first exhaust. Sigils are the art of believing; my invention for making belief organic, ergo, true belief.  –Austin Osman Spare, The Book of Pleasure (self-love) (1913)

And thee most powerful weapon we have is thee Sigil, thee magickal process by which we charge our dreams and desires, and make manifest their living beauty. -Genesis P-Orridge, Thee Psychich Bible (1994)

On April 20, the first day of Taurus during the full moon in Libra, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on Chaos Magic to the Minnesota Left Hand Path Community meetup in Minneapolis. If you’re reading this and don’t know about them, it’s probably in your interest to look them up on Facebook here. They’re a great group involved in many things. Naturally we talked about sigil making and that’s inspired me to do some blogging.

IMO sigils are an example of Sondheim’s lyric in a song near the end of Into the Woods, “Wishes are our children.”

The Chaos Star (Wikimedia Commons).

A sigil is basically something you create as a personal symbol imbued with a wish or intention. I’ll describe how to do that in a future post. In the classic method of Austin Osman Spare, the sigil maker actively forgets the intention so that for practical purposes, the sigil becomes a thing independent of your continuing belief or physical pursuit that might otherwise be diverted by other concerns competing for your time and attention. Why? We are all magical as much as physical beings, and some say our minds have a censor that prevents magic from manifesting without skilled effort. In this view, the sigil is supposed to enable you to slip past the censor to allow the process to work. Whatever the reason and frankly, all proposed reasons are only theories, something prevents all our wishes from coming true and sigilizing is a technique for getting around that magically in order to fulfill your desires.

Another idea more in line with Sondheim’s lyric is that sigil making creates a ‘fetish’, in an anthropological rather than a sexual sense, that works for you. I’m not going to cite any authority on that because that’s my idea. A wise woman once summed this up for me in a five words: a fetish is a “thing that is a person.” In other words, it is a seemingly inanimate object or symbol that may acquire agency and works on your behalf. This is a broader definition of fetish than the sexual kind but it works in a similar fashion – for some people an object like shoes, nylons, a painfully cinched waist or other objectified body part, etc. becomes as desirable as a sexual partner and more so in some cases, or in a sense becomes the partner. The thing becomes like a person and serves to satisfy a burning desire. The sigil does the same but outside as well as inside the bedroom. But perhaps those are not so different. A sigil can potentially become a sexual fetish as well, if only temporarily until it is incarnated. Formulate an intent that’s a sexual desire, sigilize it, charge and release it through sexual excitement… The possibilities are endless.

Apart from the media on which it was created, a sigil also has a spiritual life and can travel beyond its corporeal form to do its job, even after the form (a piece of paper on which it is written, etc.) is destroyed. This is because you endow it with life, become the maker, and give it a job to perform for you: fulfillment of your desire or intention.

In the last century or so of Western thought, the fetish has been conceived as disempowering by putting people in a position of relating to things and not other people. In contrast, the sigil is activated to get you more of what you really want. The power and responsibility is in your hands. This can involve relationships with other people if their wishes coalesce with your own. But there are ways these powerful motivations are turned against us in advertising and the marketplace every day. Perhaps no one has articulated this better than Karl Marx  and Marxian thinkers who have followed him, through his concept of commodity fetishism. In this ‘anti-life equation’ people are reduced to consumers with desires fed to them, and their fulfillment pre-appointed, so rather than fulfilling their true desires their behavior is directed and controlled to the benefit of a small cadre of fabulously wealthy masters. More on that in a future post along with instructions for how you make a sigil that works for you.

But next, I want to provide some background for those of you who have not done this before, or a refresher for those who have, starting with the use of divination with spellcasting.

Sources

P-Orridge, Genesis (2010), Thee Psychick Bible (edited by Jason Louv). Feral House.

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