We are fast approaching the Vernal Equinox, and once again, I will be giving a lecture at the Minneapolis Paganicon convention. This time I will be giving a presentation entitled “Egyptian Mysteries: Am Duat and the Cycle of Life and Death.” I have put together a PowerPoint presentation deck and will be doing both a lecture and presentation about how the Egyptian Book of the Amduat was the unwitting precursor to the Tarot Trump based Hero’s Journey, not be confused with the Fool’s Journey.
I have long stated that the Hero’s Monomyth, based on Joseph Campbell’s book “Hero with a Thousand Faces” is the pattern for all transformative initiations, and that it aligns with the Cosmogonic cycle. The Monomyth has 17 stages, and the Cosmogonic has five, and that when jointed together it becomes the consummate transformative cycle that can profoundly change an individual as well as an entire society. The merging of the Hero’s individual cycle and the Cosmogonic cycle (17 + 5) is also represented by the 22 Trumps of the Tarot. The Egyptians proposed this joining of the individual and cosmogonic cycles in the Book of the Amduat, which they graphically illustrated in New Kingdom sarcophagus chambers of the Pharaohs, starting with Thutmose III, the first of the great empire building pharaohs.
While it is probably unlikely that this book, in its various renditions and versions, found its way into the occultism of Europe, it is intriguing to speculate whether or not the idea of the merging the individual cycle of transformation and the cosmogonic cycle may have had an Egyptian source. These underworld books continued to be a part of the mortuary literature even up to the Ptolemaic period, and could have been incorporated into the Isian Greco-Roman cult. There is no evidence for this claim, so we can’t make it. However, it is interesting to see this as a possibility, thereby making true Aleister Crowley’s claim that the Tarot was actually the mythic “Book of Thoth” whose magic and revelations of the mysteries of life and death would given immortality to whoever possessed it and knew how to employ its magical powers.
I will be giving this presentation on Sunday, at 2:45 pm at Paganicon. The actual room is to be determined, but if you are in town you might want to attend this presentation. I think that it is a good and thought provoking lecture. We will also take a tour through the 12 hours of the Book of Amduat as it is depicted in Thutmose’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. I was also lucky enough to see a mock up of this section of the tomb at a traveling museum show at the Milwaukee County Museum back in 2004. I have been deeply fascinated and intrigued with this graphic presentation of the Amduat ever since I saw it in that traveling show.
Additionally, I have recently written up a ritual that uses the transformative theme of the 12 hours of the Amduat to enact a powerful and decisive uncrossing ritual. The idea is that to undergo the transformation of the sun god Ra and his regeneration through the power of Osiris, the magician can break through any blockages or resistance to achieving a specific goal in one’s life path.
Here is the preamble to the ritual text.
“This ritual is powerful enough to overcome all obstructions (intimate and external) and thereby performs a kind of grand uncrossing spell that helps the practitioner to break free and to see his or her way to a final resolution of any matter. Therefore, this rite should be performed only after much soul-searching and internal investigation, and then the celebrant would be advised to put as much preparation and effort into the rite as possible.
However, it would also be wise to thoroughly understand the nature of the blockage and then to encapsulate it with a consecrated and charged sigil, which would be taken with the seeker through the ritual passage. This rite uses the Egyptian underworld passage of the 12 hours of the Amduat, which is a simultaneous merging of the cosmogonic and individual transformative cycle. It is the mythic theme used to break through any and all obstructions to achieve its goal, just as the Sun God Ra does every evening when he seeks to be reborn and regenerated to bring forth a new day. This theme was the basic pattern of the underworld passage whereby an individual could become one of the divine ancestors by following the pattern of the Sun God himself.
The Egyptian Underworld Ascension rite is divided into three basic sections. The first section is a simple Western oriented gateway consisting of three points that opens the celebrant to the underworld. The second section consists of an inverted pyramid representing the five trials of the underworld that must be overcome so that a successful regeneration and rebirth might occur. The inverted pyramid is a vortex structure, since all four nodes of the four watchtowers are joined together at the nadir/infrapoint, and the structure is built using a widdershins transit.
The third and final section is the Eastern Gate, which represents the hours leading up to the ascendancy of the Sun and the ‘coming forth by day.’ The Eastern gateway has four points instead of three, with the zenith/ultrapoint functioning as a tetrahedral gate where the sunrise appears at the apex. There are 3 points in the first section, 5 in the second and 4 in the last, representing a total of 12 points, which allots one point for each hour of the Amduat.
Each of the Amduat hours is characterized by the hours of the thematic passage along with 16 of the 32 decan gods. Since a decan hour lasts approximately 40 minutes according to ancient Egyptian night-time stellar plotting, each Amduat hour has at least one decan, and every other hour has two. Thus, three decans together equal two hours exactly (40 * 3 = 60 * 2 = 120). This also means that the even numbered hours have two decan godheads, and the odd numbered hours have just one, making for 16 overall. Double decans use a pylon structure to unite them, thus producing a very interesting and elegant ritual structure.
The western gateway has one pylon in the West, the inverted pyramid has three pylons - the East, West and center. And the tetrahedral Eastern gateway has two pylons in the Southwest and Northwest angles, respectively. The pylons add a certain elegance to the overall ritual structure, allowing for the unequal proportion of decan hours to actual hours.”
I haven’t had a chance to work this ritual, but it is on my list to perform in the very near future. Things have been so very busy for me since the Solstice holiday that I haven’t had a lot of time to engage in my magical work. While that might be so, I have been involved with some very heavy and intense training classes on Zen Buddhism given at the local Zendo by two individuals who I have come to see as quite brilliant and accomplished in their own path. They have between them around 90 years of experience, and had studied and worked closely with the Zen master Dainin Katagiri Roshi while he was alive. I am, to say the least, quite impressed with both of these teachers, but I will write more about them and my studies in a future article.
Anyway, if you can get to Paganicon and attend, then I hope to see you there. I will have copies of my newest book, and you can purchase an autographed copy from me there.
Now that I have more or less recovered from my eye surgery, I can finally get back to the business of writing articles in my blog. I have been absent since late December, and quite a lot has been going on since then, both from the standpoint of the occult, politics and my life situation. Hopefully, I will have time to write up on these and many other topics in the weeks to come. Not being able to read for more than a week, and not being able to perform much in the way of extracurricular writing (outside of work) has been quite difficult for me to manage and quietly accommodate. I love to read and write, but for nearly a month I had to keep my writing to a minimum to give my eyes a chance to fully recover, and not subject them overly to eye strain. Now that I have passed that period of recovery, I can fully pursue my writing tasks.
After the holidays, and in the middle January, my book project, “Spirit Conjuring for Witches: Magical Evocation Simplified” was at long last published. I got my printed copies around that time, and the book was released a week or so later, well before the February 8 launch date. I have been quite pleased with the book so far, and so have others who have read it and posted reviews. You can find this book on Amazon here.
The user named Jeannot left a very helpful and good review on Amazon, and it was the very first review. Here is what she had to say:
“Let's start off with a basic preliminary statement: this book is not for beginning magical practitioners in the way of providing magical tech; in that sense, it is geared more for intermediate practitioners. That said, this book is excellent at giving beginners goals to aspire to.
Frater Barrabbas does a fascinating and excellent job of reintegrating the concept of the witch's familiar into modern practice, putting it in a modern context with roots going back beyond Medieval and Early Modern European incarnations of the spirit helper. He relates it to the "head gods" of African Traditional Religions (ATRs) and the various spirit helpers of the PGM, or Greek Magical Papyri. For those who are willing to put in the work, I'm sure this book will provide much fruit.
This book stands with the work of Gordon White, Jake Stratton-Kent, and Peter Grey. Frater Barrabbas provides a witchcraft that is vital, active, and local, capable of functioning in the witch's immediate environment.”
Being compared to Gordon White, Jake Stratton-Kent or Peter Grey is quite complimentary, although I consider them to be authors who have written books quite beyond what I set out to do with this book. I guess the most important question that one might have about this book has less to do with the material within than for the motivation for me to write it. Why did I write this book? Is it yet another book proposing that Witches adopt the practices and methodologies of the Ceremonial Magician? Well, the answer to that is no, it was not my intention to sell the techniques and methodologies in use by either ceremonial magicians or traditional practitioners of magic as found in the old grimoires. This book was written by a Witch, practicing ritual magic, for other Witches who would wish to also practice this kind of magic. It was not written for either ceremonial magicians nor was it written for the traditional magicians who utilize the old grimoires.
What I am proposing in this book is a system of magic that is distinctly Witchcraft based and not outside of what might be considered the magical practices of that modern tradition. I wrote this book for modern Witches and Wiccans, and my purpose was to introduce to them the practices and techniques already inherent in their traditions to formally summon and manifest spirits. My aim was to help Witches adopt the spirit model of magic and fully develop it as a mainstay of their tradition. It is my hope that this book will start a new wave of Witchcraft magic that will stay abreast of other cutting edge magical traditions. I wanted Witches to expand beyond thaumaturgy and using the simple constructs of the energy model of magic to reach their true potential as magical practitioners, emulating the capabilities and legendary deeds of the mythic Witches of folklore and antiquity. However, I wanted them to use the features and components of their existing traditional modern lore to accomplish this end.
As an observer of modern Witchcraft and Wicca magic, I have noted that these traditions relied too much on one or two models of magic, and that the spirit model was only partially active in these magical practices. One of the reasons that I gave for this lack of a formal system of performing an invocation or an evocation is that such rites and techniques are not to be found in the traditional Book of Shadows, as witnessed by my own Gardnerian third generation BoS. While it is true that old Gerald, to a lesser extent, and Alex Sanders, to a greater extent, practiced grimoire based magic, none of that lore was ever formalized to become part of the tradition of Witchcraft. The closest thing that I have found so far that approached a grimoire based magical type of working was the Vassago goetic demon evocation and scrying session found in the book “Mastering Witchcraft,” and no where else it is so plainly promoted. I had once thought that Paul Huson’s book would have become the basis or the foundation for a deeper form of magical workings, but if it did, that fact was not absorbed into the tradition and passed on. It remained, like the grimoire workings of old Gerald and Alex, an outlier to the practice of modern Witchcraft.
Needless to say, the book “Mastering Witchcraft” and others like it didn’t propose a comprehensive and formal system of invocation and evocation, so the spirit model of magic was never really a part of traditional modern Witchcraft. It never really caught on, probably because in order to be adopted, it would have required some rather major changes to the practice and celebration of Witchcraft. As a system of magic, the spirit model doesn’t lend itself easily to coven based magic. For instance, if a coven were to perform a goetic evocation then only one individual would actually do the work and the others would function as helpers or just witnesses. Since everyone who practices magic has different capabilities, it is possible that while the leader performing the rite would be in full possession of her skills and abilities as a Witch, others might not get as much out of the rite. Being able to translate and assimilate spirit contact is something that has to be learned and mastered over time with lots of experiences. Certainly, it wouldn’t be a good idea to expose newly initiated or uninitiated members of the coven to this kind of working, so it would be something to which only a more experienced or mature group should be exposed. That is because the key to controlling and mastering the encounter with spirits is the active godhead assumption, and without this mechanism to guide and protect the practitioner, spirit conjuring could be considered a hazardous operation.
Perhaps one of the most important contributions that my book makes is to equate the familiar spirit of antiquity with the modern day godhead assumption of practical magic. That this practice found its way into the BTW and Wiccan traditions as a major liturgical rite from a basic exercise in the Golden Dawn system of magic shouldn’t be too surprising. What is surprising is that such a liturgical rite in Witchcraft has an ancient pedigree going back into antiquity, as the Greek Magical Papyri has amply shown. It was an important and pivotal rite in antiquity, where a magician sought and achieved a spirit mediator to assist in his magical workings. Those who practiced magic in antiquity, and even more recently as the 16th and 17th centuries believed that human nature, without the aid of a spirit helper or some other supernatural assistance, was quite helpless, defenseless against spirits and deities and incapable of producing magical or miraculous effects. It was only in the 19th century that the belief in the power of untapped human potential became an important theme in magic and occultism. That theme went on to produce the energy model of magic, and it supplanted many of the other systems of magic until the last twenty years or so. We who practice magic now realize that a greater capability lies in the use of all of the models of magic simultaneously, but in the traditions of Witchcraft, formal adoption of the spirit model still lags the other techniques.
Making the godhead assumption, called the "Draw" in Wiccan-speak, into a personal ritual of self-empowerment seems like a profanation of the liturgical nature of this rite. However, it isn’t a profanation, it is an obvious magical expansion of a mechanism that is used to facilitate communion with the covenstead godhead to one that elevates the individual, temporarily, to the level of an earth-bound and incarnated deity. Performing this rite continually over time will dramatically impact and affect the consciousness of the practitioner, transforming and empowering them over the long course of a magical practice. Additionally, such a rite is more suited to working alone or with only the most intimate group, since the celebrant is sharing something that is extremely personal and private, so that it remains detached from any kind of egoic corruption. There is nothing quite like the ego trip of someone who forces his or her group to engage in worshiping them as they assume the simulacrum of some godhead. Godhead assumption must be balanced with a great deal of humility and service to the deity so that it doesn’t regress into a form of unearned ego-based self glorification.
Another mechanism that has to be altered is the covenstead magical circle and the invested dual deities and dread lords of the four quarters that ward and protect what transpires within it. Certainly, in order to take full advantage of working within a magic circle that represents the boundary of all that is sacred and spiritual, a Witch has to deliberately thwart the inherent protective measures that such a mechanism provides. Opening up the magic circle to the whole of the spirit world (instead of the covenstead protected simulacrum) is an important first step, since by crossing the circle watchtowers, making therein a cross-roads, will open that sacred space to everything that is within the spirit world. Someone who deliberately performs this act must first adopt a personal godhead assumption in order to protect themselves from negative, hostile or callous neutral spiritual encounters.
Anyway, these topics and many others are discussed in detail in my book. These are not new ideas, because I have written about them previously, but now I have collected them altogether into a single, concise book. I think that you will find this book to be useful and hopefully, it will have an impact on the greater world of Modern Witchcraft.
Some minor errors found in the current edition.
After carefully reading over my copy of the book, I have found a few errors in the book, particularly Appendix 2, p. 234. The actual date of the Grimoirum Verum is likely to be the early 1600's, and not the 1500's as I had written. According to Joseph Peterson, the direct precursor to the Grimiorum Verum was a book entitled "Clavicula Solomonis De Secretis" and the extent copy of this book is a Polish Leipzig version dated around 1620's. It is likely that the Grimoirum Verum was produced not long after that time, but it still predated the Goetia, probably by a couple of decades. While I had submitted edits that would have corrected these dates, for some reason that didn't get installed, perhaps because they might have been confusing to the editor who had recourse to my emails but not to me directly. Anyway, this is minor point, but I felt the need to clarify in this article. I am sure that there are probably other inaccuracies, but overall, I feel that the editing and writing for this book is one of the best that I, in combination with the Llewellyn team, have produced so far.
A while back I wrote an article about the 40 Qualified Powers, which are a useful set of energies and they have a comparative utility to the 16 Elementals. You can find that article here, but I have had further thoughts about these energies and I wanted to put them into an article that would work along with what I have already written. The ritual pattern that is used to generate the 40 Qualified Powers is called the “Pyramid of Powers” rite can be found in my book entitled “Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Omnibus Edition.” The rituals is examined in chapter 7 of Book 2, and the Qualified Powers are defined in chapter 8 of Book 2. I would recommend getting this book and adding it to your collection because there a quite a number of useful ritual patterns and open-source rituals in that work.
There are a number of different ways that one can utilize the Tarot as a magical tool, since it is a repository of quite a large number of magical and occult correspondences. The Tarot and the Qabalah are intertwined, particularly in the 19th and 20th century European occult versions of those disciplines. A magician can take a certain specific point of reference and look at the Tarot in that manner to discover all sorts of useful symbologies and practical referential correspondences. One such perspective is to look at the Tarot through the perspective of magical energy. What one would find would be three groups of magical powers. The first would be the sixteen elementals based on the court cards, the second would be the forty qualified powers, and the last would be the transformative powers of the twenty-two trumps of the major arcana. One could also split off the four aces to produce the foundational structure of the spiritual dimension of the four Elements.
Similarly, one could also look at the Tarot through the perspective of spirits, and with this perspective a whole array of a spiritual hierarchy would be revealed. There would be the hierarchy of the 36 astrological decans, the sixteen elementals spirits (as found in either the angelic or Enochian systems of magic), and the interaction of the various spirits associated with both the cycle of initiation and the cosmogonic creation/dissolution cycles of the trumps. Either approach, energy or spirit, will reveal the powerful magical underpinnings of the Tarot. The energy perspective reveals the magical powers that are available to the magician using the energy model of magic, and the spirit perspective reveals the spiritual hierarchy that is available for the magician to conjure. Additionally, the 36 decan based number or Naib cards, represent an actual spiritual domain that is grounded in the zodiacal hierarchy that permeates the three spherical levels of celestial, earth and underworld. The Tree of Life can also be mapped to this structure, although not in a very clean and concise manner unless the four Qabalistic Worlds are employed.
Therefore, the Tarot is a very powerful repository of all things occult and magical, and it could be considered the preeminent magical grimoire. I have also written about this concept in one of my articles, and you can find it here. While quite a number of magicians are examining and studying the latest in published grimoires and expounding about the latest developments in the arena of evocation and spirit conjuring, one book is typically ignored. That book is the redoubtable Tarot, which was fashioned to be the basis for all forms of magic in the Western Mystery tradition. If a student were to study the Tarot in a great deal of depth and intensity then I believe that such a person would be able to expand their magical perspective to achieve all magical objectives using both magical energies and spirits embedded within the symbolic correspondences of the humble Tarot cards. It is the most important grimoire and magical treatise of all time, and it is the source for all of the magical and occultic systems in the West. And, it can be used for divination, either to passively receive or actively project the patterns thereby randomly derived. Perhaps one of the greatest exponents of the Tarot is Aleister Crowley’s book “The Book of Thoth.” It was one the last books that he wrote, and it is one of the best, in my opinion.
Getting back to our topic about the Qualified Powers, I have been seeking to encapsulate these magical energies in such a manner that other practitioners of magic would see their utility and usefulness. I had assumed that the Qualified Powers were called such because they were the product of a base element qualified by an attribute of Deity. However, there is more to them than that, or at least that is what I have discovered by pondering them in greater depth. Allow me to explain what I mean by this statement.
Energy magic is typically reduced to working, in some manner, with the four elements. You can readily extend this model to include a number of different qualities of energy, but they are all based on the four elements - Fire, Air, Water and Earth. You can define these four elements in many different ways, including physical, occult and spiritual qualities. In extending the definitions of the four elements you can make their utility more refined and useful. However, you can also do this by combining with other things to create hybrid energy structures. This is the basic concept regarding the energy model of magic that I have employed in my magical system. I don’t know if others have also used this mechanism, but this is what I have found to be quite efficient and useful. The occult and magical symbol for the four elements is the pentagram, which represents the four elements tied to a fifth, which is spirit. In this manner, spirit is said to be the synergetic fusion of all four of the elements - it is the quintessential element. A magician can use the pentagram to generate/invoke or dissolve/banish any of the four elements and spirit. The basic magical technique for generating element powers using a pentagram was first employed in the Golden Dawn rite of the Superior Pentagram.
Now whether these energized elements or their hybrids are seen as being generated through the vital force of the magician’s body or through some symbolic artifice is not particularly important to the energy model. In the version of the energy model of magic that I work, it would seem to me that this energy source has its origin both within my body (as a trigger) and also outside of it. One of the reasons that I believe this is that however much energy I can raise through the artifice of magic, I don’t seem to be draining my own essential energy. Once triggered, it seems as if the magical energy that I have generated for a magical working has an endless supply. I can feel this energy pass through my body, for certain, but the ecstatic results of this energy flow seems beyond what would normally just reside in my body. When using the energy magical techniques and projecting what feels like a considerable force into the material world, I feel highly charged and energized after the working instead of feeling depleted or tired. I always have to ground off the excess in order to keep myself balanced and not emotionally keyed up. Working with the energy based system of magic can make one feel “high” or even drunk because of the emotional impact of the ungrounded energies.
As far as energy hybrids are concerned, I have incorporated three different energy structures, and these can both engage magical energies and energy based spirits. The most basic structure is to be found in the sixteen elementals. These powers consist of the hybrid pair of a qualifying base element combined with the same or another element. The permutation of four produces the number sixteen, so there are sixteen elementals. These energy based entities correspond to the sixteen court cards in the Tarot. You could use just one of these cards as the focus for generating an elemental. The other two are the 28 Lunar Mansions (Talismanic Elemental), which are represented as the hybrid combination of an element and a planet, and the 40 Qualified Powers, which are represented as the hybrid of an element and a Deity attribute.
To generate an elemental I employ the pentagram device and the eight node circle octagram (consisting of a double pyramid) as the ritual pattern used to generate what I call an elemental vortex. I can further qualify this energy by using the Enochian spirit name pair and the Enochian call for a specific elemental. However, an elemental force, even when summoned using a spirit name, has to have some kind of specific magical device to link it to some external objective - known as the magical link. The energy is focused into the center of the magic circle using a deosil circumambulation spiral from the outer periphery of the magic circle to the center. The power is released through the artifice of a widdershins circumambulation spiral from the center to the outer periphery of the magic circle, where the energy is projected outside of the circle as a kind of magical “bolt.” In order for the magical energy to find its target it must first be imprinted with the link, which is usually in the form of a charged or consecrated sigil. I consider an elemental magical power to be “unqualified” because it requires a sigil to imprint and direct it to its objective. As a joke, I often say to my students that elementals are kind of dumb and need to be qualified in order to work.
While the generated elemental is considered an unqualified power, both the Lunar Mansions and the Qualified Powers are qualified powers. What this means is that these magical energies also contain archetypal qualifiers that further define the energy (with a spiritual intelligence) so that it has a specific function and objective already determined. Both of these energy systems don't require the imprint of a magical link in order to set them to a specific objective. By definition, these kinds of magical energies already have an objective, and that is why I refer to them as qualified powers. You can use a sigil to imprint and further refine their innate function, but it is not required. Once generated and released, qualified energies will automatically empower the magician’s intention to fulfill the working’s magical objective. Thus qualified powers are also intelligent magical energies, since they are imbued with an archetypal intelligence. The 28 Lunar Mansions are actually a subset of the 40 Qualified Powers, since the seven planetary archetypes are included in the 10 attributes of the Deity.
The structure used to generate one of the Qualified Power is the magical pyramid vortex, and the device is the pentagram. The focusing and exteriorizing spirals are used just as they are in the Elemental Octagram, but the focused element energy field is imprinted with a symbol and quality of attribute of the Deity. This causes a fusion, within the vortex field, of the element and attribute, thereby qualifying the magical energy. One could also further qualify it by performing an invocation of a specific polytheistic Deity, vibrating a Qabalistic Sephirah Godname, or even just using the Tarot card itself. The magician should make certain that the energy is fully imprinted so that there appears to be a kind of energized Godform in the center of the circle. Then when this qualified energy is released in the same manner as an elemental, it will intelligently and automatically proceed outward from the circle to fulfill its objective. The ritual to generate a Qualified Power is more simple than the ritual used to generate an elemental, and since there are 40 different powers, one can have a greater variety from which to choose. As I said, you can also use a sigil to give a qualified power even more of a precise focus, but it is not required. All that is required is to develop a mechanism for symbolically defining one of the ten Deity attributes.
Coincidentally, the technique for using the 40 Qualified Powers was something that I learned using a very simple cone of power augmented by setting an invoking pentagram of a specific element to the four watchtowers and then imprinting that energy using one of the 10 Qabalistic Godnames. It was a very simple version of the Pyramid of Power rite, but it was amazingly effective. I was taught this simple technique in the old Alexandrian coven in which I first learned how to work real magic. Sometimes I wonder if any other Witches perform this kind of simple but effective magic.
I am a member of the O.T.O. and I am sometimes active in my local body. For me it is social engagement and also a mechanism through which I can get some degree of peer review and swap ideas about magic and occultism. While the methodologies that I use to perform magic are quite different than those of my fellow Thelemites, I feel a degree of alignment with the purposes and focus of many of the members of this order. I am a ritual magician with peculiar beliefs and practices, but despite my different approach and occult perspectives, I can find a welcoming place in the local body with my fellow lodge members. That being said, I can also state that I am probably a poor representative for any kind of classical approach to the O.T.O., since I am, at best, something of a reluctant Thelemite.
There are reasons for my one-off approach to magic and occultism, and even polytheism, when it comes to the classical Thelemite approach to these disciplines. In a few words, as one O.T.O. member once said, I “stink” of Witchcraft. That means my magical practices, occult ideals and polytheistic tendencies are grounded in my first love, which was British Traditional Witchcraft. Yes indeed, I do stink pretty foully of Witchcraft, and it colors everything that I do. It also makes me a reluctant Thelemite, since my whole approach to magic, paganism and the occult is firmly within the Witchcraft world-view. Allow me to explain what these differences are in greater detail. Let’s also keep in mind that I don’t consider myself an expert regarding Thelema or the canon of the O.T.O. As a reluctant Thelemite my understanding of this creed could be considered quite flawed.
As a Witch, I do not consider myself “one of the people of the book.” Witches don’t possess or adhere to a sacred document considered to be sacred writ and wholly unchangeable. We have a Book of Shadows, but that is a book of liturgy that was never meant to be changeless, since liturgical rites can and should be modified to make them better fit the times and the places where they are performed. As a comparison, the Catholics have radically changed their primary liturgical rite called the Mass, but they have not changed the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Yet Witches don’t have a testament or any kind of sacred writ, so as polytheists, our knowledge of the sacred is to be found in the actual experience and direct encounter with our Deities. Presence of Deity at a specific place and time represents the greatest mystery and the source of our spiritual faith, the other mysteries are about the fundamental attributes of human life (and all life in general), which is birth and death. It might be somewhat different for each and everyone of us, but that is the nature of a true polytheistic faith. Words get in way if they attempt to concretely define something that cannot even be adequately described.
Perhaps one of the primary characteristics of Monotheistic religions in the West is that they are exclusively a counter or protest religious movement against the status quo of the time. Jews created a counter movement against ancient Egyptian polytheism. Christians created a counter movement against classical Greco-Roman polytheism, Protestants rebelled against Catholicism, and Islam created a counter movement against Semitic/Arab polytheism. Each of these religions proposes an absolute Deity and an absolute religious truth, and although the Deity that they identify with is pretty much the same, their differences are the basis of a disagreement of opposing absolute truths. It is the foundation of monotheism (and the source of its problems) that a single absolute deity must be the one and only deity, and that the religious canon based on that deity must and should be written down into sacred writings, representing the one and only version of the truth.
Those of us who have rejected this notion of a single and absolute religious truth see the folly of these minor distinctions between monotheistic creeds and understand the need to achieve religious tolerance and a peaceful coexistence. (We do this for no other reason than to ensure our own survival.) I have also previously stated that the foundation of the world religions is based on the same kind of human interactions with the phenomenon of spirit, and that either they are all correct or none of them are correct. Since religions are continually nourished by people having personal religious experiences, one could conclude that the very existence of this phenomenon would preclude any kind of scientific dismissal. The truth is that billions of people have these experiences every day. Yet while the religious based myths are open to question among non-believers, if they remain in the context of religious myths then no one can actually refute them. They are subject to criticism especially if they are promoted as historical facts verified only by faith, such as how monotheistic religions represent their myths. A point of irony here is that science itself has been shaped by the monotheistic philosophies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, so it could hardly function as a counter movement to the spiritual “opiates” of western religion.
One exception to this particular examination of monotheistic religions having sacred writings is, of course, Hinduism. The sacred writings of Hinduism, however, are more the exponents of liturgy, philosophy and meditation techniques, as well as embodying many religious myths and stories that are assiduously kept bounded in that wondrous domain. What Hinduism doesn’t have is a historical narrative of a single absolute deity intermixed with various associated absolute religious truths disguised as laws. Perhaps the most salient point that the religion of Hinduism makes is that there are a myriad of deities everywhere and no actual absolute truth, but many great truths bound together within the various cultic religious centers. Hinduism might be a good representative of what western polytheism would ultimately achieve if it continues for the next several centuries. While sacred writings are important to Hinduism, the foundation for that religion is to be found in the various shrines and religious cultic centers where the presence of deity is maintained at all times.
Getting back to the theme of this article, I have made the point that monotheism relies on sacred writings and represents a spiritual break from or antithesis to the status quo. I have also stated that I have rejected the absolute qualities of the theology and canon of such religions, since they would seek to cancel out the truths that I possess based on personal experience with my Deities. If religious tolerance is to be maintained then those who are not part of a religion must reject these stated absolute truths and instead declare that they are actually relative. Taking this kind of stand makes me an outlier to all forms and creeds of monotheism. It also makes me a reluctant Thelemite.
As I have stated, monotheistic religions have a common cause or origin in that they are religious protest movements against the status quo. Yet in many ways, Thelema is also a protest movement against 19th Christianity, particularly the strict dominionist practices and beliefs of the Plymouth Brethren. Crowley’s natal church was the Plymouth Brethren, and it could be said that the religion that he founded was a particular antithesis movement to that kind of strict Protestant Christianity. Yet Aleister Crowley was not content to just break from his family’s church and faith in order to engage with a different religious perspective, much as what many of us did back in the 70's and 80's. He created a powerful anti-Protestant Christian movement that used the tropes of that religion to found his own religious perspective. He called himself the “Great Beast - 666” and reveled in the very symbols of the Apocalypse as laid down in the New Testament book “Revelations.” It was the Protestant Christians who made this book into a kind of revealed truth about the forthcoming end times, and the Plymouth Brethren were particularly engaged with this theme. The themes and ideation of the book of Revelations were suffused into the Book of the Law and also powerfully colored Crowley’s experiences as depicted in the Vision and the Voice, where he evoked the spirits of the Enochian Aethyrs. Crowley believed that he was the prophet of a New Aeon who would bring forth a new religion that would countermand and even abrogate the religions of the status quo. This was also affirmed by various passages of the Book of the Law.
If we take Thelema as based on Crowley’s exegesis then we can see that it becomes a specific protest movement against Protestant Christianity. It takes the themes and tropes of Christianity, especially the messianic formulations of the end times, and inverts them so that the New Aeon represents the end of Christianity and the birth of Thelema. The Great Beast becomes a prophet of the New Aeon, the Whore of Babylon becomes the chief priestess and initiator. The Crowned and Conquering Child is not Jesus, the Lamb of God, but the Anti-Christ as the proponent of the New World Order. The Book of the Law thus becomes the sacred writ of this new creed, and the canon is established as a kind of prophetic absolute truth - not to be changed or modified. While the practice of magic and exploratory occultism are the primary religious practices of this new creed, and coincidentally there are no attempts at purifying or forcibly unifying the beliefs of those who nominally accept this creed and perform this magic and speculative occultism, the model for Thelema is based on the monotheism of Protestant Christianity. What that means is that this apparent inclusiveness could change to become a kind of rigid exclusiveness based on the sacralization of the writings of Aleister Crowley. Some have gone so far as to see in the Book of the Law a kind of inculcation and promotion of a form of religious fascism.
Despite its promotion as a limited kind of polytheism (based on a trinity of primary Deities and two human representatives), Thelema is similar to a kind of monotheism, thus having more in common with its adversarial creeds than with what would be considered a purer or detached kind of revised polytheism. Crowley was vigorously and angrily reacting against his natal faith and the church of his family, and this unfortunately has impacted everything that he wrote. An objective examination of Crowley’s writings and even the Book of the Law shows this to be a clear and even obvious case. These anti Christian elements of Thelema are problematic to me because I have rejected the tropes and creed of Christianity altogether. What I don’t want to do is to have to revisit them once again in the guise of a supposedly polytheistic and occult based religious system.
Curiously and ironically, we are today suffering from the affects of the dominionist creed of Evangelical Protestant Christianity that was spawned by the Plymouth Brethren. That version of Christianity has invaded our nation’s politics and has bolstered the white supremacy movement to produce the troubled combination of right-wing politics and the ascendancy of the presidency of Donald Trump. Perhaps Thelema might be considered an antidote to the terrible times that we live in, but it would have to become much more popular than it is to culturally oppose and defeat Evangelical Christianity. Then there would be the problem that in order to be so popular, Thelema would have to be modified to be ever more like Christianity, which would certainly end my interest in it.
Since the current O.T.O organization allows for a plurality of beliefs and perspectives within its ranks, I can belong to this organization without having to strictly adhere to its canon and beliefs. I am certainly a practicing magician and occultist who is seeking to discover the truth for myself. I acknowledge many of the ideas put forth by the religion of Thelema, but I also have a lot of doubts and points where I am not in alignment with that faith. I am puzzled by the Book of the Law, liking some passages, rejecting others, and then finding yet other passages that are confusing or unclear to me. Since I don’t accept any specific book as representing my beliefs or my faith, I am unable to accept the Book of the Law wholly and completely as holy writ representing my religious beliefs. I suspect that other Thelemites also question various passages of the Book of the Law, and that the necessity of following or adhering to one’s true will (“Do What Thou Wilt Is The Whole of Law”) abrogates any kind of surrender to a strict adherence to this book. I also belief in “Love” as the primary force that draws us all together and mitigates our differences, but I believe that a complete surrender to this emotion is folly, therefore, “Love Under Will.”
In accepting these basic premises one could say that I am a Thelemite, but I would claim to be one that is plagued by doubt, different perspectives and different religious experiences. I cannot accept the creed of Thelema without also keeping these differences and objections at the fore-front of my mind. If I belonged to a Christian or Islamic sect, I would have been forcefully ejected quite some time ago, since I would have refused to adopt a strict adherence to the basic creed. I also still have the terrible habit of asking too many damned questions, and this certainly got me kicked out of Sunday school when I was a troubled and disruptive adolescent.
Additionally, as part of my own magical exegesis I discovered that Thelema was only one of a four-part gnostic perspective on magical truth. The other three were Agape, Eros and Thanatos. These would represent Will, Love, Desire and Death, respectively. The central unifying gnostic attribute was Astreas, or the Star, which represents the fusion of all four gnostic qualities into a singular spiritual expression. Every man and woman might be a star, but then so are the deities, and so is the representation of the One. It was this theme that inspired me to write up five different Mass rites and their associated liturgies, and I continue to work with them to this day.
I do find common cause with Thelema and Thelemites, and I also find their magical workings and occultism to be quite excellent and relevant to my own. I consider Aleister Crowley to be one of my many spiritual ancestors and I still read his writings to this day. I have a different perspective and also different practices to be sure, but I also have a basic understanding that dovetails quite nicely with Thelema as I understand it. As long as Thelema and the O.T.O. promotes self-discovery and doesn’t try to coerce a single definition and creed upon its members, I believe that I will continue to work with them and be a somewhat active member. I might be a reluctant Thelemite, but I do acknowledge those with whom I have common interests, practices and beliefs. May this relationship continue during this difficult and challenging time in which we live.
I have been holding back since the election, for obvious reasons, to say anything about what happened on November 8. In my previous article I warned against the incipient fascism of Donald Trump and urged my readers to vote against him and the kind of regressive policies and overt mendaciousness that he and his followers represent to our body politic. I had hoped that enough people would see Trump for who he was, and reject him as completely unfit for the highest office in our country. The fact that Trump narrowly won the presidential election is a calamity that will profoundly impact us for decades to come. I predict that we will look back at this time as the beginning of the worst of times for most of us.
We, as a nation, have chosen someone who is so unprepared and unfit to be president that we cannot emerge from this catastrophe with our nation completely intact. He and his minions will do considerable damage to our country and our way of life, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deceiving themselves. A Trump presidency represents the end of the struggle of the people against an American oligarchy. Those who are not obscenely wealthy will also not prevail in this new order, and those who are powerless and vulnerable will be egregiously hurt regardless of color, economic condition or region. The promises made by Trump to his political followers will be shown to be false and merely convenient rhetoric, to be changed and conformed in a manner that will uniquely benefit his class. The rest of us are more or less, screwed.
So, what happened? How is it that the Democratic party was defeated when the pollsters were predicting a narrow victory for them? Who is to blame for this debacle? Certainly, what happened was unusual and unique. For Hillary Clinton it was a perfect storm of weighted political obstruction, media persecution, misogyny, outright lies, misinformation, faux scandals and even foreign intervention. None of this excuses her and her campaign for the responsibility for losing what was supposed to be a hard won victory. If anything, the election of 2016 was the year of outsiders and populist based change, at least for the presidency. Trump managed to promote himself as the populist outsider, and he narrowly won the Electoral College based on that messaging.
The Clinton campaign started out with the wrong message, since she was as an elite insider with little popular appeal outside of the Democratic Party. If she would have been smart and understood the popular consensus happening then she would have concluded that her time for running a successful campaign was in 2008 and not 2016. Things have changed in the last eight years, and Democrats needed a credible outsider populist to defeat Donald Trump. It is difficult to state whether anyone in the Democratic Party could have filled that role, even Bernie Sanders, when dealing with an overall rejection and dissatisfaction with the current administration. While President Obama is relatively popular at the end of his eight year term, his policies, both foreign and domestic are not so popular, either with the political left or the right. Perhaps it is nothing more or less than the dissatisfaction that typically happens to a President through the duration of two terms. The fact that Obama had incurred the wrath and disdain of a large swath of the conservative electorate, most likely because he was the first black president, and that this groundswell of anger was enabled and encouraged by Trump is one of the main factors that I attribute to his victory.
We also need to keep in mind that the outsider populist ploy didn’t apply to the rest of the election results, as the victory of Republicans in many of their local and state-wide elections showed the proclivity of the electorate for the conservative status quo. Now we have two branches of government under control of the Republicans, and the third, the courts, will soon follow suite. We can also expect that all of the moderate policies and progressive gains that were established in the last eight years will be reversed. We might also see such safety net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security also eliminated, not to mention insurance reform via the AHCA. We will also likely see the end of government regulations that have safely guarded our public resources, consumables and also protected us from the avarice and mendaciousness of corporations.
Even though the Republicans have scored a very modest electoral victory in 2016, where Trump lost the popular vote by a significant margin and his Electoral College win was by a slim majority in three rust-belt states, not to mention that a few senate and congressional seats were lost to the Democrats, they have decided to push forward massive changes to our way of life. They have absolutely no mandate, but they will engage in overreach because that is what they do. If they successfully eliminate most of social service programs as they appear poised to do, then the resultant pain and suffering that such actions will produce will be completely their own work. If they make a wreck of our nation and its economy, and Trump engages in some incredibly stupid foreign policy blunders that humiliate us to the whole world, then you can expect that those misguided folks who voted for these clowns will likely change their opinions about where their real economic and social interests lie. The Republican majority may very well find itself defeated by its own ambitions and hubris, and when the American people have had enough, they will turn against those in power.
It will be at that point in time that the Democrats will field a cadre of progressive politicians led by an outsider populist presidential candidate. We will see the entrenched right-wing politicians and their supporting alt-right minions get annihilated in the pols. I think that people by that time will have had more than enough right-wing rhetoric, lies and deceit and they will finally see the results of the oligarchy coup that has dominated them since the early 2000's. They will rightly hate what has become of our nation and they will use the power of their vote to overrule and destroy this cabal. The Republicans will undergo an electoral shellacking, and they will likely lose control over congress and the presidency. This might even start happening in the 2018 elections, but I have my doubts about that happening so soon.
My only question is how long will this take? How much damage will Trump and the Republican party do to our country and the world. How much more inequality, injustice, neglect, disenfranchisement will people take before acting against the real status quo. Will it be soon enough to make a difference, or will voter suppression and other legal mechanisms be employed to ensure the perpetuation of this offensive and destructive oligarchy. Will I even live to see the day when this terrible tide will be reversed? Until this situation changes, we will be steadily and regressively pushed back until all of the social changes that produced the Middle Class are completely eradicated, and new Gilded Age will resume for the ultra-wealthy elite. We will be forced to engage them only as a service class of slaves, to be exploited until no longer needed. Until that time of progressive change and the renewal of our social contract, we will be living in the worst of times.
I haven’t been posting very many articles as of late due to the demands and busyness of my mundane work schedule. So, during this holiday interlude, I have decided to write up a series of short articles that represent what has been on my mind lately. Hopefully, I can fill the void in my blog with several new articles in the coming days. That is my object, so hopefully I can meet it to some degree.
According to political pundits we have entered the post fact age, which means that any opinion, belief or thought, no matter how foolish or unschooled, is to be considered valid, even when proven to be false. Certainly this has driven the political winds in our country since the election and its poisonous impact on the body politic, but when it comes to discussing magic and the occult, I am hoping that the post fact age doesn’t intrude on the dialogs of those who are actual practitioners. Besides, in the history of magic and even today, we have always been struggling against what the popular imagination believes is magic and what practitioners know from experience.
The recent popularity of Harry Potter, the SciFi channel’s series “The Magicians” and the recent Marvel movie “Dr. Strange” hasn’t helped to keep the topic of magic in the popular imagination closer to the practical reality. Magicians in the media are either shown to be incredible miracle workers who are able to harness astonishing powers or they are fraudulent purveyors of deception and illusion. I am certain that the continual media trope of the magician wielding supernatural forces is quite an annoyance to the scientific community at large who believe that such fantasies should have been long discarded by rational and critical thinking adults. Of course, these are the same people who would also like to see religion discarded as well.
Real magicians, witches and occultists who are practicing magic hardly need the untutored public to promote and embrace such beliefs about magic, and often a new student of magic has to learn where reality starts and fantasy ends. What often draws individuals and groups into a study of magic is the promotion of amazing capabilities and astonishing possibilities. Of course, the reality is subtle, deep, and completely undramatic. The Hollywood produced special effects never match the actual experiences and phenomena of magic, and perhaps this acts as a filter to deflect those who are deluded and refuse to see the world in a critical, logical and rational manner. While it is true that the imagination is a very important component of any magical practice, and that romantic notions are the drivers of magical processes, it is important for any magician worth his or her salt to maintain a balance between the worlds of fact and fantasy. The real issue that one realizes after practicing magic for a while is that the legends about magic and the actual practice of magic are always quite distinct.
Legendary magic has always been a part of the literary and narrative elements of human culture. Whether that magic so described is the technology of the future, belonging to advanced alien races, or that it is steeped in a supernatural domain of spirits and deities is actually immaterial. These are the stories, folk tales and fictional heritage of our culture and our times, and while the qualitative nature of these stories change, the actual themes and underlying structures seem to repeated and revisited over and over. The basis of legendary magic is that it is within the ability of human beings to harness some kind of mechanism that allows individuals to employ seemingly miraculous powers. In the previous age, a person would acquire these powers through the agency and coercion of supernatural entities, such as various kinds of spirits - angels, demons, saints, or hero demigods. It was believed then that human beings had no such powers on their own, but needed the assistance of supernatural entities in order to achieve material transformations of a supernatural type. Later on, in the 19th century, a new theme was developed that proposed that ordinary human beings had previously unknown powers vested in them that could be tapped with a special kind of knowledge or training. Either of these approaches to legendary magic saw that phenomenon as the ability to miraculously manipulate and transform matter at will, or to completely defy all natural laws.
Legendary magic basically broke all of the boundaries that human kind had been struggling against since the beginning of human awareness and consciousness. This kind of magic gave one the ability to fly, teleport, create anything material from nothing, to influence the weather, to change peoples beliefs and feelings without them knowing, to project power in the form of fire, thunderbolts, terrible storms, or even cause the sun and the moon to stop or move in reverse. Legendary magic made the wielder into a material personification of God with all of the powers of omniscience, omnipotence and ubiquity. Whether this was due to harnessing spirits or through the discovery of unknown innate powers only represented the time in which such tales were produced. Unknown human powers discovered and unleashed is a more recent trope, while the abrogation of the powers of spirits and deities is the trope of previous ages. Either narrative represents a problem and a challenge to the actual practice of magic, since expectations about the results of such activities are likely to be far too high and unrealistic.
Confusing legendary with real magic is something of a cultural phenomenon these days that would seem to be getting worse as we proceed into a future fraught with challenges and insecurities. Of course, there are certain shiftless hucksters (whose names I won’t mention) who are advertising their magical courses and techniques claiming miraculous powers and guaranteed magical results. What many magicians fail to talk about much is that failures and folly in the pursuit of magical knowledge are just as important as the successes. No one can either guarantee that their magical lore will work flawlessly for everyone or that there is a painless and easy way to be like a living God. In fact, real magic has always had boundaries and limitations since the beginning of time. Those physical and psychological laws didn’t just materialize with the advent of modern science, in fact it was science that observed and incorporated them into a mathematically proven set of theories. When someone proposes that their magic can completely suspend or abrogate the laws of nature, you should see their claims in the light of hyperbole or outright deceit. The old saying still applies to real magic, “If it’s too good to be true, then it obviously isn’t.” Still, the hucksters continue to make their outrageous claims, and gullible people continue to seek them out and get fleeced.
So what is real magic as opposed to legendary magic? Real magic is subtle, undramatic, highly internalized (subjective), and often mysterious in its various manifestations. It can be unpredictable, but when it does work as the magician has planned, the results are more a bending or connecting of probabilities than the manifestation of impossibilities. Amazing things can happen, but they never translate into making the magician a living deity. Fortune, tragedy, folly and wisdom are the products of the human experience, and magic can influence these possibilities into likely probabilities, but there are limitations and boundaries that cannot be crossed except through the artifice of visions, dreams and active fantasy. These, too, have a part to play in magic, but like everything else, they must be kept in balance so that the magician never loses his or her ability to see the world as it is rather than how one imagines it to be. Legendary magic has no place in the actual practice of real magic.
These are the rules of magic that I have learned the hard way, through continual toil, successes and failures, bright moments of ecstatic realization and accomplishment, and also depressing moments of sadness and loss. It would seem that a life dedicated to the practice of magic doesn’t preclude one from experiencing the whole spectrum of life that all other humans experience as well. Trying to change one’s life and material circumstance has inherent limitations and boundaries whether magic is deployed or not. It is human nature to look for an edge or even an easier way to accomplish some goal, but in the scheme of things, magic can only make actual probabilities occur with any reliability. If a miracle has a certain probability to occur, then magic or some other psychological mechanism can perhaps bend reality so that it does occur. It might also be possible for an outright miracle to happen, such as working magic and then winning the PowerBall Lottery, but working or focusing magic on such a possibility is more likely a wasted effort. It would be more prudent and wiser to discover a more likely path, such as a career that you could learn to love, and then work magic to help you successfully access that path.
If magic has limitations on what it can produce in the material world then what is its worth? A combination of magic, personal insight, social connections and a regimen of mundane skills and actions could give a person the appearance of living a charmed life. Even so, every human being is subject to same laws of entropy, which means that they are prone to misfortune as well as fortune, and that institutions, organizations, and also people, age and decline over time. There is no escape from death, even magicians die. The world is constantly changing, and whatever we can do to quickly adapt to those changes will indeed help make our lives more productive and rewarding. These insights are just common sense, but they are often ignored by many people, much to their future folly and misfortune.
Where a magical system that is solely applied to the material world can have limitations, a magic that is focused on knowledge, insight and wisdom has far less limitations. This is the distinction between forms of magic that follow the Thaumaturgical mechanisms and techniques and those that follow the Theurgic processes. Theurgy is the system of magic that seeks ultimately to reveal and employ the higher self in order to achieve union with the One. Realizing the truth about the self, spirit, deity and that which unites them into a singularity, are the various focusing lore associated with Theurgy. While the material situation does have some bearing on this type of magic, it concerns itself with establishing a stable life situation to eliminate distractions for the real work of obtaining full union. Theurgy only obliquely concerns itself with one’s material circumstances with the caveat that the process of spiritual and psychological evolution that it promotes will cause the manifestation of positive affirming life situations. This is particularly true as the theurgist achieves a greater awareness of that ubiquitous union both within and without him or herself.
Thaumaturgy, particularly in its modern definition, is the method through which a magician learns to adapt, cope and to some extent, master his or her material world. Complete mastery is impossible, but temporary mastery can and does occur. That achievement, based on some years of magical experience, becomes the foundation for the next step, which is Theurgy. The basic and expected evolution of magic is where the focus changes from seeking to achieve mastery of the material world to achieving mastery over one’s self-based spiritual conduit through the higher self as deity to the ultimate union of all being. While mastery of the material world is always represented by a continual work in progress, mastery of the self and one's personal illumination is something that can be achieved in a person’s lifetime. It is, as far as I am concerned, the sum and total of the great work, and in this one particular instance, legendary magic and real magic coincide.
I discussed the art of Crystal Magic in a previous blog article, but I didn’t really focus on it as an important part of the energy model of magic and I would like to address those ideas here. Crystals of various kinds have been an integral part of the magic that I work for many years, but I haven’t emphasized in print their importance to me, what I do with them magically, and the role that they play in the workings that I perform. Anyone who would carefully examine my personal magical temple would find a number of crystals placed at strategic locations. These are not used as New Age props nor do they function as interesting but useless esthetic “eye candy.” They have an important functional use in the magic that I work, but that importance is only made possible because of the way that I have developed the energy model of magic.
I started using crystals in my magical workings back in the early 70's. This was way before crystals became a big fad in the New Age community some years later. The way that I discovered crystal magic is an interesting tale all by itself. So, I should tell this tale since it does deviate considerably from how crystals came to be used by adherents of the New Age.
What was my source of inspiration? I blush to reveal that what inspired me was a daffy movie I loved and celebrated which came out during that time (1974). It was the movie “Zardoz” (believe it or not), and I the first time I saw it I was quite stoned. (A few of my friends have also told me this tale about seeing the movie while stoned, so maybe it’s part of the movie cult.)
The use of crystals in that movie were quite futuristic, or perhaps even based on pure fantasy, since the AI computer system (called the Tabernacle) that empowered the “Eternals” living in their isolated vortex was centrally stored in a large crystal diamond, and each “Eternal” had a smaller version of that crystal planted in their foreheads to facilitate a conscious link to that computer system. They also had a crystal ring that functioned as a kind of AI interface. The Tabernacle became the repository of all their knowledge and even their memories and personalities, and when one of them died, they were brought back to life with all their memories intact. They also remained in a state of perpetual youth, a kind of haunting image of pretty young lithe “ambisexual” adults living with the eyes and jaded sensibilities of a people hundreds of years old.
I was quite fascinated by the various astonishing ideas and visions depicted in that movie, but I didn’t make the connection between crystals and magic until I went through a period of taking LSD while performing magical experiments not long afterwards. The whole premise of crystal magic that I use today was based on what I saw when playing with multifaceted man-made crystals along with small ultra-bright flashlights, strobe and black lights. I saw the lines of force being stored in the crystal, and I could not only enter into the crystal, but could replay certain ritual workings collected in it. It was revelatory, and the insights that I gleaned from these experience became the basis to the methodology that I developed for my version of crystal magic. I can say that having learned to see into crystals in this manner, I have retained that visual ability. Needless to say, it was quite different than what the New Age passed off as “crystal work.”
Anyway, for me to state that the basis of my techniques of crystal magic were based on some very fascinating hallucinations induced by several acid trips is probably not something that anyone would declare as the source of magical ideas or insights. However, this is the truth of the matter, and sometimes strange experiments done in the spectrum of the highly irrational can produce amazingly great results. I don’t recommend either myself or anyone else using this approach to magical experiments at the present time, since I am now of an age that such experiments would represent a potential mental or physical health hazard. Still, my magical system was founded on the enthusiasm of youthful experiments, when such actions are acceptable risks in the delusional mental background of immortality and invincibility that haunts the young. There was a bit of the Zardoz “Eternal” in what I was doing back then. Thankfully, I am more cautious today about engaging in such crazy exploits, but I am no less curious or optimistic - that part of me hasn’t changed.
Let us start by examining the basic elements of crystal magic that I wrote up six years ago (found here) so we can then examine the attributes of a “strong” energy model of magic and how it works. I am taking the portion of text from this article that specifically deals with crystal magic, since it was well written and helped to define what crystal magic is and how it should work. I associate the crystal in magic as representing the element of spirit, as far as the elemental tools are concerned. I think that this association is intriguing and gives considerable creative flexibility for the use of crystals in the practice of magic. (Note: I have made some edits on the following text to improve its readability and deepen what is presented.)
Spirit - Crystal or Stone - The quality of Spirit has some particular correspondences associated with it, and these are determined by the definition that Spirit is the unique joining of the previous four elements, producing a synthesis which is also their source. The crystal is uniquely qualified to fill this position, and has many useful and important magical properties.
Crystals come in many different sizes, shapes, either naturally occurring or man-made; they have the variable qualities of hardness, cleavage, optical properties (clear, opaque, translucent, colored) and electrical conductivity. Some crystals have quite unique electrical qualities, such as quartz, which demonstrates piezoelectric phenomena (where mechanical stress produces electricity). Other crystals, such as germanium or silicon carbide, are used as semiconducting rectifiers, such as what has been used in the various layers of a computer chip. Crystals also exhibit the qualities of resonance and oscillation when a small current of electricity is passed through them (an anti piezoelectric effect). Thus, from a purely metaphysical perspective, crystals receive and store, unleash and vibrate or oscillate; these qualities make them uniquely useful in a magical context.
The basic magical premise of crystal magick is that a crystal can capture and contain the etheric or “fusion-like” energy that is produced in a magical ritual. This is particularly true when the ritual magician bases all of her workings on the prismatic ritual structure of the magnetic spiral vortex. Vibrating patterns of magical energy trace patterns within the crystal, and it can hold that energy indefinitely. That same energy can be retrieved or tapped by the will of the magician so that it can be replicated and projected into a magic circle for reuse. A crystal can accumulate the etheric energy tracings of many ritual workings so that over time it will house a representation of all of the workings that are performed in its presence.
So a crystal can act as a kind of magical memory receptacle, holding the energy until it’s needed or discharged by the magician. From a magickal perspective, crystals can be natural (hopefully, ethically harvested) or man-made. Each crystal has a unique magical effect depending on its shape, size, clarity, color, facet characteristics and whether it is natural, manufactured, or made from molded and polished, lead crystal glass. All of these crystal types are useful in ritual magick, and the only factor is the esthetic sensibilities and tastes of the magician. Cleaning a crystal in salt water will clear it of all influences, yet anointing it with oil or a liquid sacrament does just the opposite - empowering and emphasizing a certain event.
Crystals have the following qualities:
Collectors of magical power - not only do they collect the light frequencies of discrete magical workings, they can store them almost indefinitely, allowing the magician to retrieve either part or the full energy signature of a specific spell performed in its midst. (This can be done multiple times with the same specific energy signature. This would indicate that retrieval doesn’t necessarily discharge what is stored in the crystal.)
Emitters of magical power - crystals not only collect magical power, but they also can transmit that power as well. What is transmitted appears to be more similar to the “information” attribute of a magical power instead of actual magical energy. The energy signature is what is emitted from the crystal, and this seems to become an actual energy field when projected into a consecrated magical circle.
Processors of magical power - multiple magical workings stored in a crystal can be condensed averaged, summed and even multiplied. A magician can retrieve certain aspects or a ritual working to examine independently from the rest of the stored signature.
Crystal magic as I employ it uses three crystals strategically placed in the magical temple, and these are used in a specific functional manner. These are:
1. Base Crystal or Collector - This is a large crystal, usually natural and consisting of many terminated points. Can be clear, smokey quartz, or of any color, as long as it retains some clarity, allowing light to pass through it. The collector crystal is kept either on or at the foot of the main altar. The collector is used as a kind of recording system for any and all magical rituals performed in the temple. It can recall any part of any ritual performed, recall a series of rituals in a working, or process the magical power collected to extract the overall meaning of a single or multiple workings.
2. Controller or Transformation Crystal - This is a small crystal that is worn around the magician’s neck on a necklace. The controller is a crystal that records the impression and energies associated with the individual magician. The controller can automatically or on command draw and direct power from the collector into itself for the magician to use at any given moment, regardless of the actual physical distance between them. The controller can be worn underneath a shirt or blouse when the magician is in the mundane world, allowing him/her to access and project magical power from the temple complex while far outside of its normal influence. When used during an evocation using both the energy and spirit models, it is called the “crystal of transformation,” since it assists the wearer to fully experience the domain of the spirit that is invoked. It helps to process the phenomenon of evocation so that it is instantly intelligible and meaningful to the magician.
3. Transmutar - this is a wand or stave that has a small crystal affixed to its tip. The transmutar wand is a specialized hybrid tool used in energy magic. It is the curious amalgamation of a wand and dagger, thus it can function as either one or both simultaneously. The transmutar wand can draw power into itself or send it out using either the controller or collector crystals. There is a strong connection between these three crystals and they function as a single unit when a magician wields them in a magic circle. The transmutar wand is used to project energy and information to a given target, make lines of force, invoke or evoke spirits, or even defend the magician from any hazards (just like the wand and the dagger).
The transmutar wand is also a powerful emitter, drawing magical power into itself and amplifying it into the temple confines or to a specific target. Because of its obvious nature, a transmutar wand is usually used in a temple or a grove, but it can be hidden on the person of the magician and used in the mundane world, like the controller crystal necklace. The transmutar wand is the instrument that is used by the magician to access the base crystal, recall previous energy structures, and re-emit them into the magick circle, condense them with other structures or even erase them.
How I achieve this interaction with crystals is through a process of employing sensitive touch and focused visualization projected into the crystal. Sometimes it helps to have a very bright LED with a very narrow focus or a LASER light source to aid this process. Strobe lights and black lights can also be used to access the contents of a crystal, if you have the ability to creatively visualize. Once a magician is able to readily sense, touch and visualize the magical energies stored in a crystal, it then becomes a natural part of his or her regimen.
Crystals and the Energy Model
The use of crystals in magic relies heavily on various premises established in the energy model of magic. Without a strong definition of the energy model then the whole basis of these techniques becomes meaningless. The media that is captured, refracted, processed and emitted from crystals is magical energy. The definition of magical energy has many different frames of reference, whether it is an actual energy unknown as of yet to science or representing something of a metaphor for a process that resides wholly and independently in consciousness. What seems to determine the amplitude of magical energy is more driven by the magician’s emotions and feelings than by anything that might be capable of being measured or controlled, such as capacitors, resistors and the like.
Since crystals also seem to store the information or the essence (signature) of a thing or process, one could also say that the information model of magic is also used by this powerful magical tool. Crystals are unique because as a tool, they straddle more than one magical model. The energy and information models are used, but then so is the psychology model, since one must use the “As If’ formula to actually make a crystal perform as required. If the crystal is a smooth ball or an oblong shape it becomes a window (or even a repository) into the Spirit World, thus additionally harnessing the spirit model of magic. The fact that crystals can bridge all of these models of magic individually or simultaneously makes them uniquely suited as the most excellent magical tool .
While the belief in a collective magical energy field has been around since the beginning of human consciousness, being variously called Mana, Chi, Vital force, Life-Force, among others, the belief in individual based energy (or energy generated from a person’s body) is more recent. Added to the metaphorical layers of the meaning of magical energy or power are many of the characteristics of electromagnetism, even though such a borrowing is not accepted as fact by science. My opinion is that both individual and collective definitions of magical energy or power are useful and important, as well as the other aggregated metaphors that we use to describe something that is tangible to the senses but not empirical in the laboratory. One of the more mysterious attributes of magical power is that it seems to extend lines of force that connects everyone and everything into a holistic union. I saw this phenomenon early on when I was working magic as a youth, so it was for me not some Neoplatonic pipe dream but a real characteristic of magical power and magic in general. This would indicate to me that what I am experiencing and perceiving is more of a “collective” energy model, since it readily extends far beyond myself.
We are all part of the web of magical energy, and that allows for a certain interaction between individuals and even inanimate objects. I can still see these lines of force today, although it helps me greatly if the lighting is dim (indoors) or spectrally illuminated by moonlight or firelight (outdoors). Whenever I would connect with one of these lines of force I immediately felt a kind of link between myself and to whomever or whatever the line was connected. These lines of force also led to me realize that behind the individuality of everything there was a point where all lines converged. I realized then that in this interconnected web was a unified source, which I emotionally experienced as ecstasy or ultimate power. At that time I had never read any Plato and I was probably not up to reading anything so intellectual or complex. It was a natural experience for me, and one that I always associated with my energy model of magic.
Magical power is never static. It is always in movement. Even when I peer into my crystals to see the lines of force they are in constant movement. The prismatic energy fields that I experience when working energy based forms of magic are also moving, fluctuating, vibrating, pulsating and seemingly forever forming new connections and lattice structures or disappearing or dissolving old connections. When I concentrate magical power in my body, focusing it in my hands or feet, it causes them to feel the vibrations and pulsations of that energy. My hands shiver and shake, and my body moves, sometimes causing me to briefly dance so as to express the energy that I am feeling. Utilizing this model to directly “feel” and “experience” magical power in the body as an individual is even more heightened and amazing when working forms of sexual magic with a partner. This kind of energy based magic powerfully impacts the body, and it is there that the most fundamental of magical changes can be made.
I have already written quite a number of articles about the energy model of magic in my blog, and you can find an index for all 14 of them following this link.
Lines of force, geometric prismatic energy shapes, vortices, pylons, pyramids, gateways - these are some of the many magical energy patterns that I have developed and use with the energy model of magic. All of these qualities are perceived, recorded, processed and emitted through the use of crystals in a form of crystal magic. Crystals are just another magical tool, but they are associated with the element of spirit, and this makes them capable of working and channeling all four elements, including the union of the elements known as Spirit. Crystals are the quintessential element in the magician’s repertoire of magical tools. I have performed some of my workings using only a transmutar wand, dispensing with wooden wands, daggers, swords, and staffs. The crystal has an earth based attribute, particularly if it a natural crystal, and it also seems to be like a liquid frozen into solidity, thus emulated the earth and water elements. Dipping a crystal into a chalice of sacramental wine or touching a sacramental host assists it to capture the signature of that magical sacrament. This use causes the crystal to function as another tool type, and that is a magical reliquary - another topic we should discuss in the future.
As you can see, crystals are eminently useful to a magician, and they are a key instrument employed in my extended version of the energy model of magic.