Friday, November 2, 2018

Necessity of Compassion and Empathy in Magic

Typically, magic is about getting something by using oblique or probability bending methodologies. This is particularly true when the object or target of one’s magic is something that is material. Magic has most often concerned itself with achieving some objective or getting something that would be otherwise unobtainable. It could be something that is highly improbable or even impossible, or something that might be obtainable if one’s fortunes were to be weighted slightly in one’s favor. Doing magic for unobtainable or improbable achievements seeks to create what is known as a “black swan event,” where the objective that seems nearly impossible happens in an almost miraculous manner. Since this kind of magic will more often meet with failure than success, what is more commonly sought after is something that is likely to occur.

Magic seeks, therefore, to make something happen, usually for personal and material profit, so it is a particularly self absorbed activity even when it is practiced for someone else’s gain instead of one’s own. Practicing magic for someone else is either a bought and paid for transaction, or one that is done for various personal reasons. The outcome is the same whether that magic is worked for one’s self or another. The action of this kind of magic engages the self and especially the ego, just as it does when we ambitiously seek to advance our material conditions or the conditions of those who are close to us using mundane actions and tools.

None of this is either new nor surprising since it has been a part of magic since the beginning of human culture. Where it becomes a problem is when it is paired with extreme selfishness and a callous disregard for basic human values. Because of the influences of the Christian church, and that western religious culture has always placed a high regard for charity and compassion, magic seemed to be balanced by the need to care for and help others and to do good to one’s fellow human beings, at least those of the same culture and religious persuasion. (The “other” has always been the subject of extreme prejudice and the target for negative magic, but we will cover that in another article.) Even so-called “black magic” was used to achieve justice and material equality in a world where social and financial power assured one of not only active participation in the decisions and rules effecting everyone, but of a kind of protection and insulation from the masses who lacked that power. Even so, black magic was considered an extreme action unsanctioned by the church and the culture at large, whereas white magic was either condoned or at least tolerated. Not too much has changed over the centuries, except for the influence of the Church and the requirement for some kind of charity and compassion. Perhaps the climax of these values are to be found in Christian democratic socialism that has built the social safety nets of the developed nations of the world, and that are now imperiled by the selfish actions of some groups.

The backlash against this institutionalized socialism is the creation of a class of individuals who have taken these institutions for granted and have promoted a kind of a selfish and self-absorbed lust to acquire all of the benefits that these societies have given to everyone but take on none of the responsibilities or civic duties (paying taxes, engaging in the political process and civic discourse) that make such a social contract workable. I am talking, of course, about ideas such as Libertarianism as espoused by Rand and her followers, and taken up by various fascist and proto-fascist movements disguised as a newly emerging popular ultranationalism in Europe and the U.S.

How these two movements have apparently merged is something of a modern mystery, but it would represent the need to tear down the existing socialistic democracies and replace them with one party authoritarian states. This has been made possible by a kind of potent lack of social compassion and empathy that has become manifest amongst the populations of the developed world, pushed as a newly minted perspective in our social media worlds. It has produced a social callousness and a selfish defense of the status quo, where that status quo is promoting an accelerating material and social inequality. It is a time where groups who have achieved much of what the modern world has produced have sought to keep that achievement to themselves and damn the consequences. I find this mind set oddly flourishing amongst people of my generation (the Boomers) and perhaps also amongst those Xer’s who have made it into the upper echelons of the middle class. The millennial generation seems to be more idealistic and inclusive, and I am grateful for that state and I hope it continues. Where my parents generation fought against the fascists of the west and east, my generation seems to be seeking to embrace this mind-set, even though it runs counter to everything that they have been given and benefitted from in a society and a government that has greatly assisted them in some fashion their entire lives.

I won’t delve into the selfish, arrogant stupidity that seems to motivate people into embracing fascism or proto-fascism out of a delusional fear that change in our world will somehow screw them any more than it already has. The pain of change in the last 30 years has been mostly forced on us through the passage of various conservative policies that have benefited the wealthy elite and damaged the middle class. What will change (hopefully) is that a certain group of people (white, protestant, male) will no longer be able to depend on maintaining their privilege. Instead, it will be society that treats everyone as equals, based, one would assume, on the principles of our cultural institutions and our constitution. That is a just and equitable solution to mitigate a drastically emerging social and material inequality, and help people deal with the profound changes that AI and automation will have on our world, not to mention the drastic changes needed to mitigate climate change.

We truly need in these times a powerful government to meet and resolve these challenges, and that government needs to represent and seek to aid equally all of its citizens, and in addition, the populations of the world. The world needs a strong western developed world to help it deal with its problems as well, since failing to do so will ensure our eventual extinction as a species. There is no place in our nation or the world for the kind of selfishness provided by ultra-nationalistic and totalitarian governments. What we really need is a world government working together with the various nations to deal with global issues.

Opposing any kind of collective or global cooperation is a resurgence of nationalism, which is merely a cover for extreme selfishness and self-preservation of the status quo. This kind of callous “me-first-ism and the hell with everyone else” mind-set has also, to some extent, infected the practice of magic in the west. We live in a culture where compassion for anyone outside of one’s political tribe or clique is practically non-existent. Therefore, magic is practiced as one more mechanism to gain that coveted place of isolated material and social comfort where the disenfranchised masses can be safely ignored. It is a way to fantasize about gaining unearned wealth and power when it is mostly probable that one will achieve what is more likely based on one’s already established station in life. Practical magic is the supposed great material equalizer, or so it is advertised, but it is getting harder to make miracles happen in the material world using magic, and probably a lot more profitable to just cheat and cut corners. While the window of opportunity is closing for most people, it also occurring in a stealthy manner while the masses fight each other for the leftover scraps after the rich and powerful have feasted.

While it is possible to fall from the economic station of one’s birth, it is getting less likely to step far above that same station. Social and material mobility has slowed down, and the number of newly made high-tech millionaires has likely already peaked, particularly if the power-elite are successful in creating a servant class out of the middle class. You can’t exclusively benefit from your own inventions unless you have the economic freedom to be outside of the corporate sponsored sphere of patronage and ownership, or somehow gain a large share of the profits of such endeavors.  I suspect that the current interest in magic might in part be due to the lack of opportunities for social and material mobility. However, magic cannot be expected to make dramatic changes in one’s life station if the possibilities for such expansion are closed.

Yet in this world of cut-throat competition, where the wily find ways to cheat, scheme and manipulate events, and the ethical just get screwed by those who are rapaciously ambitious; it would seem that compassion and empathy are weaknesses that need to be either suppressed or eliminated. Caring for the poor, the disenfranchised, the victim, or the “other” is just not tenable. Having feelings or caring about those who you are not close to is to be defined (by the successful others) as a sucker - a fool who unwittingly desires to be played, used and discarded just like all the rest of the masses out there in the world. Some modern politicians like to make these easily identifiable “others” as the enemy, when they are really just the sad victims of calamity and evil circumstances. Yet that is a distraction to the real screwing that is going on right in front of us every day. Yes - we are being screwed whether we know it or not.

When idiots rant about the racial superiority of the white European world, or the need to preserve “White Christian” values in our culture, that people of color get too many unearned benefits, or refugees who come to our country fleeing horrifying social conditions and threats against their lives are somehow suspected terrorists or undesirables stealing jobs from privileged citizens, they are listened to and commented upon by the media as if they were somehow speaking wisely. They are not called by many of these same media pundits as racists, misogynists, fascists, or religious bigots; but they should be called out as such and rejected by one and all. (Even better, their words shouldn’t be quoted at all.) What this shows is that we no longer seem to feel badly about what is happening to other people who are not directly connected to us - that misplaced “other-ness” that makes them an existential evil. There is a lack of compassion operating in our culture, and an inability to empathize with others who are suffering, particularly if they are part of the population that occupy that inhumane definition of people as the “other.”

What drives this lack of compassion is aversion and the passions of focused hatred that seems to be bottomless and lacking any kind of moral compass or boundaries. Yet impassioned hatred cannot be represented as any kind of strength, superiority or power. It is, in fact, the grossest kind of weakness and pathetic human need for the preservation of one’s own tribe as the expense of everyone and everything else in the world. It is a delusional lust for power driven by fear and ignorance, and these forces in human nature are completely the opposite of anything having to do with real magic, or any kind of spirituality.

When a magician thinks of doing ill in the world by using magic to benefit himself or his tribe at the expense of other people then it weakens and profoundly diminishes whatever good he might believe he is doing. In fact, it weakens magic as a form of occult practice. This rule cuts into the idea of using magic against others for individual or tribal gain, whatever the justification. If you are going to curse your enemies, steal from them or cross them in some manner, even if it is for good reasons, it ends up pushing the overall tone of magic down and creates a spiraling downdraft counter force. A lifetime of negative magic not only weakens and diminishes the individual performing it, but it also has a negative impact on the social domain of magic as a whole. The cartoon-like character of the “black” magician who is completely corrupt, depraved and empty of any human-like qualities or virtues does have an element of truth within it, and it typically leads to a terrible but justifiable self-destruction.

It would seem then that if aversion represents a great weakness in our world, then love could be considered its opposite, thereby being the greatest strength. Instead of being based on aversion, delusion and ignorance it is based on compassion, understanding and clarity of vision. It takes courage to love others, particularly those who are not part of one’s family or tribe. It takes an open mind that is not stained by prejudice to feel empathy for others, and allow one’s self to expand to include everyone and everything in the embrace of knowing and understanding. To follow such a path is difficult and it would seem that the greatest challenge facing any individual or group of humans is to be able to pass the threshold of selfishness, even for a moment, to realize the suffering and pain of others who have no connection to one’s self.

Yet the overall rewards for such a crossing over are great, since it not only ennobles the individual and takes them to a higher plane of being, but it makes the world, at least in a small way, a better place. When love becomes the backbone of magical workings then the magician who practices it becomes evolved in a manner that is empowering and expanding. It leads to a kind of personal and collective ascension, and this would seem to be the goal of all world religions. It reduces the suffering of the world and helps to foster the characteristics that ultimately lead to a form of individual and collective enlightenment, which should be the ultimate goal of magic and the mystical elements of every religion. The key words to love being the core of magic is empathy, acceptance, mindfulness (openness and acceptance), clarity of vision and above all, compassion.    

My message is to say that compassion is a truly great power, and that if we have lost or misplaced that quality then it shows how lacking our culture (or magical practice) has become. I don’t think it is completely lost so much as it is omitted or suppressed as a so-called practical approach to living in our post-modern world. However lost or misplaced in our society at present, when it is omitted in magic, it makes the operations of said magic weak, ego-bound, diminished in scope and lacking in vision. 

Performing magic to project ill into the world, however justified, darkens the world; but projecting good into the world through magic diminishes suffering and lightens the world. How do we determine such a supposedly subjective and relative value such as good or ill in our magic? We determine this by measuring what we do and how we work for ourselves and our clan against the needs of the many and the “other.” Is our magic selfish or selfless; does it promote the greater good or does it promote the individual or the tribe at the expense of everyone else. 

A compassionate magic believes that there is enough material and spiritual wealth in the world to benefit everyone; that we can have our fulfillment and find our place in the world without having to rob others of their fulfillment. An averse magic believes that there are extreme limitations to the world - both materially and spiritually. That one must cheat, steal, plunder and dominate in order to acquire one’s fulfillment in the world and to maintain that dominance at all costs.

Finally, the question that all magicians must ask themselves is whether they believe in a compassionate or an averse kind of magic. Over time, you will know the magician from what he or she becomes as they live in the world day by day, and what kind of magic they believe in and practice.

Frater Barrabbas      

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Transcendentalism vs Transcendental States of Consciousness

I have been reading about a kind of back-and-forth argument between magicians about the usefulness of Platonism and the Qabalah, the fact that Neoplatonic models espouse a transcendental reality that ultimately devalues the material world, and that a practical approach to magic should use the more archaic Shamanic, immanent world view. I find that I agree somewhat with both sides, since I can see where a transcendental perspective is useful as well as an immanent one. They look at spiritual reality from two different points of view, but their source is one and the same. I believe that religions in the west tend to emphasize the transcendental aspects of deity and reality over the immanent, even though the foundation of Christianity has the Deity defined with both attributes. It is a discussion that has no real resolution, and from a completely practical perspective, it belies the fact that the practice of magic generally produces transcendental states of consciousness.

I have never had much of head for either philosophy or higher mathematics, but practical logic and critical thinking skills were something that I learned early on, mostly by making mistakes and blundering my way through life. A friend of mine likened this argument to a confusion between ontology and epistemology, which is to say it is an argument between the nature of the universe as it really is, which none can fully know, and as it is perceived by all of us. We all have our opinions, but they are based on what we have experienced and what we know, individually and also collectively. From a purely practical perspective, this argument is hollow and fairly meaningless. Models, paradigms, constructs, and analogues all suffer from the limitations that they use analogy to describe something that is beyond description - what is seen and understood by the Eye of Spirit vs. the Eye of the Mind. The only thing that I think is essential is to understand that the analogy is not the thing that it describes. Models are useful tools, but they really don’t share in the numen of the thing represented unless we load them with mythic and mystic qualities. Doing that deviates from the usefulness of the model, and human nature being what it is, we are often mistaking the operational tool for the reality it represents.

My rule of thumb is to use whatever model works, but don’t over use them. Don’t try to extend a model to be universal, since it will then fail as a useful tool. When models or tools fail to explain something that you have experienced then it is time to either adapt another model or to create one based wholly on that experience. It is the nature of the human creature to name things, and to make meaning and connect things into a context when there is none. I see this as a way of enrichening the experience and significance of one’s reality, but it can also be a way of fictionalizing whole areas of our lives. Sometimes it is important to simply see something without any kind of narrative. I am beginning to discover that having that ability is the best approach.

The discussion of different models or perspectives at work in the world of the magician as a form of ontology seems to miss the whole nature of magic itself in that it produces paranormal experiences and generates transcendental states of consciousness. This seems to be true no matter what kind of magic is performed, whether low or high magick. In some ways this propensity for paranormal states of consciousness may be what attracts some folk into either learning to practice this art themselves or to hire someone who can do this for them. The field of consciousness of magic is full of paranormal phenomena and varying degrees of transcendental states of consciousness. Mystical and religious practices appear to produce the same kinds of phenomena and states of consciousness, and perhaps this is the basis of the religious and philosophical perspective on transcendentalism. Meditation and religious rites, or magic, produces these states in abundance, so therefore the spiritual world and the nature of deity itself must be transcendental, further postulating that these states are quite beyond all material reality.

As a ‘nuts and bolts’ kind of practical magician, I wonder if this is a case where a model or a constructive paradigm was used beyond its scope of usefulness, since in order to believe it is to reject the whole aspect of spirit and deity that is immanent, or that is within each and everyone of us. However, I have found that the transcendental states that I have experienced in magic has led me to see the nature of deity and spirit both within and all around me. It is to say that my dealings with spirit and magic have taught me that an exclusive adherence to either immanent or transcendent definitions of reality is too limiting. The true reality is somewhere in between or something altogether different, and it defies a neat model or convenient philosophy to explain it. Here again approaching this phenomena with an open and unbiased mind is the best approach.

Use what is useful, but don’t overuse it. Don’t rely too much on one theory in exclusion to others. Be open to contradictory evidence, and don’t be afraid to be wrong about practically everything at some point or another. Practice the magic and experience it fully, and be mindful of what is really going on inside you. Question everything you read, hear or experience. Base your opinions on the results of a thoughtful analysis of your actual experiences instead of what you have read or learned from others.

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Some Interesting Thoughts About Magic

These days of winter, while I engage in long hours of working in Richmond on an IT project, my thoughts find themselves puzzling over this arcane subject of magic, writing words that are somewhat poetic and yet cut through my many years of magical belief and practice, and I think, my overall hubris. As a magician I am seemingly forever plagued by the folly of men and women, and by my own folly, as well. We are all fools, but may we find some wisdom in our folly.

There is something that has always amazed me about the study and practice of magic, particularly in how it is marketed to others, to the uninitiated or unenlightened. Life has boundaries and limitations, and nothing can miraculously change that fact. We are born, we live and then, hopefully later on, we die. It is an unalterable fact of existence. Magic is a phenomenon that lives between these limitations, seemingly giving the promise of escape, but never really producing it. The seductive promise of unearned wealth, health, fame and fortune is always a part of the mystique of the art of magic, but for those who are seduced by it, it is a way of delusion and a harmful deviation from the true path of magic. Like all paths of wisdom, whether they be religious, mystical, or magical, the way itself is hard and the upkeep of such a discipline amounts to something of a burden to life, which is already burdened by limitations and ultimately, death. We need to keep this in mind, for magic is a path of wisdom, first and foremost. All else is but a fool’s errand. 

The true path of magic is a path of gnosis, self-transformation, and a discipline that requires decades to finally reveal its overall goal; the realization of the true state of the world and one’s place within it. The cycle of this continual revelation is a form of katabasis, the ascent and descent that is a major part of the cycle of life and death - from this is the gateway of true awakening. Yet the enlightenment that is achieved is more of a surrender and immersion into what is grounded in the simple truth of life and existence. We already know this truth when we start our path, but we truly realize it in the core of our being when we finally reach our end. All of the seductions, the myths, mysteries, fantasies of the domain of magic melt away to reveal the greater truth, which is the revelation of the true self that is interdependent, finite, empty of individuality, but united with all of conscious sentient life. In this place there is no death, no fear, and no sense of an immortal self - just the full and vibrant emptiness of the ocean of consciousness and the endless emergence and divergence of a myriad of continuation bodies. These leap momentarily into life and then fade back down into the oceanic ground of consciousness, where all being and all life resides.

Therefore, to continue to pursue unearned and fantastical things that might but never will be, the errant magician misses the greatest signal message of the import and meaning of life. He passes through the illusions and delusions that beguilingly assail him and is consumed by their promises, filled with hope and motivated by fear. He talks to ghosts and spirits, and sends them on mindless errands, and uses his all too subtle paranormal abilities to influence events that ultimately lead to nowhere. He listens not to the gods or to his spirits, seemingly and insularly absorbed and otherwise engaged with his ego-driven passions and fantasies, and in the end, does little more than what he might have done without all of the pretense. That is the folly of magic, and it is also the folly of religion and mysticism.

Even so, the truth is all around us, at all times, but it is both sweeter than heaven’s balm and more bitter than death. If we could, but for a moment, harness our magical beliefs and viewpoints to realize the world as it truly is then the magic we work might be the greatest thing that we have ever done. Yet the mystery of this magic is that it is empty of self, liberating and disengaging. Instead of grasping for the material gain as all magic seems to do, we let go, and deal with the world with an open hand and a mindful heart.

These are some of thoughts that I have been having lately, as I continue my Buddhist studies and feel them mingle with my thoughts and practices of magic. It seems that I am formulating a new kind of magic, but I suspect that it is just the culmination of many decades of puzzling over the art of magic, and seeking to know what it really means and where it ultimately leads, for all those who are following it.

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, January 26, 2018

Traditional Witchcraft and #MeToo

I have been involved in Traditional Witchcraft for around 45 years, and I have seen this tradition in many various social climates. In the sixties and seventies, Witchcraft was part of the so called sexual revolution; in the eighties and nineties, Witchcraft functioned as the foundation of liberalism, feminism and freedom of religion. As part of the New Age Pagan movement, it seemed that Traditional Witchcraft (those that trace their roots to Old Gerald) represented something of a modern liberal and egalitarian social revolution, whereby the old Christian modes of gender based thinking and societal norms were finally being surmounted. I have lived long enough in the Witchcraft tradition to see it evolve and move towards these stated ideals, and in some cases, this is so. However, as an insider, I also must recognize and acknowledge the dark truths about modern Witchcraft. It is those truths which run contrary to what is formally stated as the modus operandi of the Craft.

During this past tumultuous year of the Donald Trump presidency, strident and overt chauvinism and racism have become part of the mainstream of accepted Conservative social norms. However, despite that event, and perhaps in a fitting resistance to it, many women have become vocal about the harassment, coercion and sexual assaults perpetrated by men in various social settings, whether personal, religious or professional. The hashtag #MeToo revealed that nearly every woman has experienced harassment, coercion or sexual assault in some manner during her life, and in some cases, repeatedly so. Some very powerful individuals in the media, business and politics have been brought down in disgrace due to the social movement and revelation of the indignities and tragic circumstances that women have had to endure simply because the men in power crossed a line or demanded sexual favors. This is nothing new.  As the stories have unfolded, we have learned that many have been complicit or known about it in some form or another for decades.

Hollywood, in particular, has had quite a sinister dark underbelly when it comes to this kind of phenomenon. It was and is a very ugly and evil situation, but our masculine dominated culture of white male privilege has made it a thing, at least until now. The social backlash is regrettable, certainly, since anyone who is accused should be given an opportunity to defend themselves, but it is also true that women have been silently taking this abuse for a long time, and now they have come out to speak their truth. The least we can do is to listen and understand.

However, Hollywood is far away from the covens and practitioners of Traditional Witchcraft, but here, too, there have been abuses. I have often heard of them in the quiet complaints of fellow women practitioners and have even witnessed them occurring, when I was not in a position to do anything about it. This behavior is built into our culture, and there are some traditions that are practiced in the Craft that make them more than likely to occur. Perhaps the most blatant of these potential areas of abuse is the requirement for nudity or Skyclad participation in the covenstead praxis. Now, don’t get me wrong, I find sacral nudity to be a special sacred occurrence, but it can all too easily become an invitation for an unwanted sexual advance or interest, particularly on the part of the male practitioner. If a covenstead has a strong and fair minded High Priestess, and a High Priest who is truly her support and uncorrupted by the power or politics of his role then the coven will be a safe place for women and men to gather together to worship and work magic. The intimacy will cut both ways, making everyone equally vulnerable and empowered. A good High Priestess will have a very low tolerance for harassment or coercion, and her High Priest will be a role model of social fairness and compassion.

After all these years as a functioning Witch, I have found that the best High Priest is one who is gay. Some might find this quite ironic, considering the onerous prejudice given to gay men and lesbian women in the Traditional Witchcraft movement.  That is no longer an issue today, but it was for many years. A good High Priest is one who doesn’t need to prove his manhood or assert his privileged gender by dominating others. That dominance, the associated social corruption and the magical will-to-power is one of the dark secrets of the brotherhood of High Priests. It is a seductive force that can beguile and delude what would ordinarily be a good High Priest. It is a temptation that all coven High Priests must successfully resist and even mindfully de-energize, since to fall to that temptation can produce a very tragic and even criminal social situation. Rape culture dominates our social world, so we must be conscious and aware of how we are relating to women in a coven where sacral nudity is the accepted norm.

There is an adage that middle aged men who are High Priests or practicing Pagan leaders seem to find a way to position themselves as the sexual gate-keepers for higher initiation, magical powers and knowledge. They become instead highly negative obstacles to further growth and spiritual evolution. And once this powerful potion has been drunk, there sometimes seems to be no bottom to the level of corruption that one can achieve. Our Pagan and Wiccan community is rocked from time to time when a leader is discovered to be a sexual predator, taking advantage of the young, inexperienced and most vulnerable members of our community. We are shocked and revolted by the discovery of this behavior, but few can admit that it is baked into the movement. There are indeed stellar members of our community. These men represent the best of a received and understood feminism; they practice social equality and mentorship, having achieved this by overcoming the alluring potential to harass, coerce and even to sexually assault others.

What must happen now is for all of us to admit that such a situation is a possible trap due to the practices of Traditional Witchcraft. This is particularly true with the assumption of positions of authority without any kind of accountability, the social setting of sacral nudity and the necessity of a male to female relationship, and the female to male relationship that is required for initiation and advancement. The sexual nature of the practices and the initiations would seem to be very tempting to those who are weak willed when it comes to sexual temptation or who see themselves as singularly empowered and unchecked. I think that to make Traditional Witchcraft safe for the most vulnerable adherents it is necessary for there to be absolutely zero tolerance for any kind of unwanted or unprovoked sexual advance. The High Priestess and High Priest must set the tone for the conduct of the coven, and that any kind of contact should be consensual and transparently co-equal. I think that making Skyclad rituals less the norm and making the sexual nature of the initiations to be more voluntarily symbolic and token rather than an expected outcome would also help to restore equality to the covenstead. Accountability should be enforced for everyone and perhaps even more importantly, the role of High Priestess and High Priest should be temporary and rotated rather than a permanent avocation.

In my opinion, the single greatest temptation inherent in Traditional Witchcraft is the power assumed by its coven leaders. Social power in a group that is not accountable or transparently applied to everyone equally allows the High Priestess or the High Priest to assume a level of dominance that can only lead to tragedy, unless they are also socially and spiritually evolved. I believe that diminishing the power of the High Priestess and the High Priest and making them merely roles in the group that could be assumed by others, would go a long way to eliminating the temptation to sexually exploit people. You could say that what I am proposing would be to basically demolish the hierarchical foundation of Traditional Witchcraft, and you would be correct. I think that this reformation is long overdue.

In talking about this social issue, I will won’t be judgmental or sanctimonious to anyone who has either enabled this kind of behavior or who felt themselves tempted to take advantage of a situation. I am guilty of both of these actions. Still, I have avoided engaging in gratuitous exploitation of those who have given me their trust as a teacher and a leader. I have always had limits to what I was willing to do. Perhaps I too easily feel the pain and hurt of others.

Since I have been involved in the tradition of Witchcraft for over four decades I have seen this situation play out again and again. I have seen scandals erupt and then sadly read the reports of those who were hurt and damaged by the egotistic behavior of men who should have known better, but who succumbed to the oldest kind of corruption – the will-to-power over others. This phenomenon will continue to happen again and again, over and over, until the very root that is causing this problem is finally eradicated from the tradition altogether. I am hoping that this evolution in Traditional Witchcraft will finally occur so that we can at least say that our covensteads are safe places for everyone to gather, and that the ubiquitous hashtag of #MeToo can be said to be something that happens outside of our tradition and not within it.
Frater Barrabbas

Monday, July 31, 2017

Magical Self-Defense and Thwarting Attacks

Recently, there has been some discussion on Face Book about a reported magical war that has pitted a loose confederation of Witches and Pagans who have directed their magical powers to magically marginalize Donald Trump and the Trump administration against members of a Golden Dawn faction. I am referring to the infamous binding ritual that was and still is supposedly being performed during the dark of the moon by Witches with a particular liberal bent, and aggressively opposing them is a certain Golden Dawn chief and his wife and their supporters, whose names are better left unsaid. I had decided not to offer my opinion about this so-called magical war because it seemed to me to be ridiculous and nonsensical at the outset. I have my reasons for considering what has transpired to be dubious and not particularly worthy of comment. That is because, as an experienced Witch and ritual magician, I understand how a binding ritual is supposed to work and to what uses it can be successfully applied, and where it would be practically useless. I also have my theories about the efficacy of working magic to impact a celebrity or a person in a position of national prominence. A national figure-head, like a president, is probably beyond the means for most magical practitioners who would like to bend or influence his or her decisions, manipulate, or even cause him or her to experience misfortune or worse, without some kind of direct access to that individual.

This is not to say that such magic is impossible or that magical attacks do not happen, but in my experience they occur rarely for some not-so obvious reasons, namely the efficacy and competence of magical practitioners who are mostly from the privileged economic classes, such as the white middle class in the U.S. It would seem that not living in disadvantaged poverty removes some of the cutting edge of ruthless passion needed for aggressive magic that fighting for survival would give a person who lives day to day in the urban blight of a third-world life-style. I myself have been magically attacked just twice in my long history, but in both cases these actions were performed by people that I knew and who had intimate contact with me. I will briefly discuss later in this article what I personally experienced when I was attacked so my readers will have something to compare against when attempting to determine if they or individuals they know have been or are under magical attack.

In all of the decades that I have practiced magic I have never experienced the kind of polarized world of black magicians fighting against white magicians for the ultimate cosmic supremacy of the world, or good vs. evil as depicted in stories, comic books and the tall tales of some magicians. As far as I am able to deduce, the world just doesn’t work that way. We don’t live in a Manichean world dominated by the constant struggle of good against evil, or light against darkness. As a Witch, I see the powers of light and darkness always mingling and interchanging, and that they represent a kind of natural cycle that is much more like the seasons experienced in the temperate latitudes of our planet. Life and death are part of the naturally occurring cycle of manifestation that determines the nature of corporeal existence, and with it are the constant changing seasons, the natural flow of day and night, and the many variations in these cycles that happen quite naturally.

Nature has no moral high-ground, and the laws and religious doctrines of human ingenuity are based wholly on the culturally determined beliefs and opinions of people that change over time, and that are different, depending on one’s location in the world. If anything, the natural interplay of light of darkness makes for a world that is impermanent, at times ephemeral and always locked in the constant forward movement of time itself. It is also important to understand that all of the national players in the world of geopolitics are beset with flaws as well as virtues, and they have as much darkness about their world persona as light. There is no solely good actors fighting against completely bad actors. It’s more like variations of bad actors - some better and some worse. The US is just as much a negative force in the world as it is a supposed force for good, and in some cases, it’s a kind of mindless force of destruction and calumny. 

When it comes to human-based social morality, the world of mankind is decidedly gray. There are many layers of complexity when attempting to determine moral truths, and what seems to be valued as something good could actually be harmful in the long term, and of course the inverse can also be true. A case in point is where religious based law (seemingly good) is used to govern a group of modern people regardless of their actual beliefs (an enforced theocracy - very bad).

Equally sticky is where economic justifications are used to reinforce the terrible inequalities between economic classes, such as when the propaganda for a meritocracy is used to hide the inherent inequalities of class and privilege (basic libertarianism). Another case is where radical changes are required for the world economic model that is dependent upon fossil fuels which are not sustainable in the long term, but denied any veracity by those currently in power. Here, the short-term gain is considered “good” for resisting such change as opposed to the long term consequences, such as the immanent decline of available fossil fuel sources and the climate changing pollution that they cause. Preparing and making changes today for the future often has an immediate price tag that might seem to be harsh and difficult (bad) , but in the long term, will be more than compensated for in the future (good).

It is sufficient to say that we live in world of opposing views and even sometimes, polarized politics; but still, there are provable facts which cannot be denied except by willful deceit, blind ignorance and the greed of short term gain. This kind of complicated and troubling morality particularly besets those who practice magic, whether in engaging in unethical practices, or believing that one is a victim of someone else’s unethical practices.

Anyway, one of the things that I wanted to discuss with my readers is that a practical Witch has a certain variable body of lore in which to perform various types of magical operations. A binding rite is one of the more malefic kinds of magic that a Witch might deploy. I call it malefic because it causes the target to experience a kind of paralysis of action, and it can be specific to a situation or type of action or it can be generalized. In Hoodoo, this kind of magic would be classified as a “crossing” and is usually quite common, although it is more often a kind of self-crossing where the individual is engaging in self-defeating actions or pursuits. It is not a harmless kind of defensive magic, since it represents an aggressive action against an individual or group.

If someone who is under the power of this kind of spell, through their own stubbornness or passion, attempts to push through the magical obstruction or somehow overpower it then that person can experience real physical pain or even death. Imagine someone tugging against their bindings if they were tied up instead of just relaxing (or flexing) until they could be loosened. They might accidently choke themselves to death. There are ways to get through or around a binding as well, but the best way is to initially relax and not attempt to force a release. Then when the binding loosens somewhat, as it will, an uncrossing rite can be quickly and efficiently performed. Like most magical work, it is not fool-proof and subject to the variations of the circumstances and individuals involved. One important consideration is that the Witch who is performing a binding must have something specific at hand that can be used as a direct link. A binding rite is an intimate kind of spell, which means that it must be employed on someone with whom the spell caster or his or her client has some kind of close social connection.

All forms of curses, love spells and any other kind of manipulative person-to-person magic has to be performed against targets that are intimate in order for the spell to have any chance of succeeding. There are also consequences, since such an intimate spell connects the issuer to the target, however briefly, and also there is a need for mundane actions or steps to increase the probabilities for success. Spells like these require a powerful link, since they are operating through the Thaumaturgic rules or laws of magic, such as the Law of Association (which contains the Law of Contact and the Law of Similarities). That magical link can assume many different forms, but the best kind would be what I call a material or gross link, such as hair follicles, nail parings, blood, or some other similar object extracted from the target individual. It could also be something once worn (and not washed) or a stolen prized possession. Still, any kind of intimate object or mental association that can tie or connect the subject with the object can function as a formal link. There is also a need for an emotional passion, similar to personal hatred or a strong desire to inflict or victimize someone - that is the magical power associated with this kind of working. The mundane actions that would accompany this working would consist of a form of contact, a means of providing a kind of subtle emotional blackmail, enabling the victim to helplessly realize their plight.

As a rule, then, these kinds of spells are best employed by someone who is close to the target, and the closer that relationship is, the more focused and successful the spell will be. The farther away and less intimate the subject is to the object, the less likely that the results will be successful, particularly since there will be little or any mundane steps employed to help the spell. That means that a binding rite is a very poor choice to influence or manipulate someone who is a complete stranger. For that kind of magic it is better to employ the assistance of a spirit that can be used to perform a malefic act and function as an intermediary. Obviously angels couldn’t be readily used, but certain classes of demigods, neutral spirits or demons could be so employed. Still, the simple lack of any kind of mundane steps to help the spirit evocation produce the expected results would be problematical. In other words, I believe that such a magical operation would be something of a long-shot to produce any useful results.

Another factor that would be operating is that a public figure has an egregore in addition to his or her actual intimate personality. If someone were to attempt to work magic on a public figure without some kind of intimate connection then they would be focusing on an egregore that is actually shared by many people in the public domain, and it wouldn’t likely have much of an effect on the person behind that persona. This is the primary reason why long-distance magical spells that are directed at a celebrity or a politician have little or no effect. A magician has to find a way to penetrate the egregore in order to reach the person behind it. It is a difficult proposition when using the correct magical tools and an impossible one when attempting to use a spell that is associated with an intimate magical link, such as a binding.

The Witches who consorted to work a binding spell against President Trump showed at the very least a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about how such a magical operation would work. Of course, if the binding spell was guaranteed to fail, as I believe it would be, any counter magic using the same technique reversed would be just as ripe for failure. What I saw in this action and counter action were two groups of people who were more likely to get some risible publicity from the general public (except maybe from Christian Fundamentalists) than they would have any kind of impact on Trump or his administration. It was, overall, a publicity stunt simply because you never broadcast your intentions about a potential magical working if you intend it to work, and both parties engaged in this kind of grandstanding. So, I saw this war of words and intentions and just ignored it as actually meaningless and poor press for both parties. It did show me that both groups failed to understand the basics about magic, such as what I have outlined above. Yet that didn’t stop them one bit, and the antics that are now being played out with ever greater stakes and imaginings are even more ridiculous. Magic doesn’t work that way, so if you really want to know anything about magic, you can be assured that neither party knows what they are talking about.

Consider for a moment, if you will, that Donald J. Trump has been a public figure and a celebrity for decades. He has done enough in his lifetime to various individuals and groups to earn him a great deal of justifiable hatred and animosity. He is, in a word, a monstrosity of a human being with little or no redeeming values. He is also loved and cherished amongst a certain crowd of individuals, although whether through ignorance, naivety or spiteful affirmation is not actually relevant. The fact that there are people who love and believe in the Donald will in fact make it nearly impossible to penetrate his public egregore in order to perform some kind of magical operation against him and the members of his administration.

Perhaps when his popularity tanks and thereby weakens his egregore, it might be possible to target the man behind the persona, but with someone as narcissistic as Trump, I think that it would be a waste of time and effort. For the Donald, any attention, whether negative or positive, is energy that feeds his beast. The most painful thing for him would be getting ignored or shown to be wholly irrelevant. While he is the POTUS, he will be getting an enormous amount of attention, both positive and negative. Where Trump is vulnerable is with those who have an intimate connection with him. His close advisors and members of his administration work under a tacit agreement of loyalty and fealty, not to mention a non-disclosure agreement. His friends are few indeed, and they must continually show a kind of steadfast loyalty that only kings, emperors or madmen would require in order for such friendships to continue.

It is for this reason that I feel that magic directed against Donald Trump just feeds the beast and doesn’t really make any difference. Donald Trump has lived a charmed life so far, since every action that might have sunk him or his businesses has instead found him with new avenues to exploit and new resources to use in his many business and political ventures. If Trump were anyone else, without such monetary power, celebrity and such an overarching business persona, he would have been brought to ground a long time ago. Instead, he has the knack for pulling off amazing scams and landing gently on his feet no matter how dire things seem to be. This is still true today, since how he has behaved as a president would caused anyone else to be quickly impeached. I could say that Trump already lives a charmed life, but I would never say that it will continue like this for the foreseeable future.  I believe that things are already changing, but they have more to do with Trump doing stupid things and trying to get away with greater outrages while pretending to function as the POTUS. Eventually, things have to give, and Trump’s charmed life will ultimately fail to protect him from the consequences of his own actions. In the end, it will be Trump who will damage and destroy himself because he pushed even his own good fortune far beyond the threshold of what is tolerated and acceptable even by those who fervently support him.

If Donald Trump falls, it will be his own fault and not attributed to the actions of some magician who tried to bring him down. His fall will be the epic lore of the Hero Myth tragedy, where the hero is ultimately brought down by his own hubris. We can only hope that in time our democratic traditions, checks and balances, and the rule of law will prevent Trump from destroying our representative democracy, and I feel a certain confidence that these forces along with the energized political opposition will bring down Trump and his presidency.

If anyone wants to work magic against the Trump regime they could do no better than registering to vote, joining the political opposition, getting politically engaged, running for office and becoming an active member of the resistance. What better magic is there than uniting with like minds and taking on the establishment that has become corrupted and moribund. This is a case where people-power takes back the country so that it is a nation run by the people and for the people, and not one that favors just the 1%. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one, so this is a political and even a magical rule that will seal the fate of all would-be tyrants and wealthy power-brokers. That is, at least, my fervent hope and how I am guiding my own path in these dark and troubling times.

Where does that leave the magical war that is going on during the New Moon phases between those who seek to thwart Trump and his administration and those who seek to thwart those who are seeking to thwart Trump? They are engaged in a bit of notoriety and minor celebrity, and not much else. Even the claims by that Golden Dawn chief and his wife of having near death experiences due to evil black magic, i.e., the destruction of a fancy sports car and the death of a pet must be seen as a kind of Kabuki theater that has little or no magical substance behind it. It is easy to blame accidents, neglect and personal foolishness on the malefic actions of some nebulous foe of evil Witches and Satanists practicing black magic and sending out lightening bolts at the duly elected President.

The purported harm supposedly occurred when these two individuals decided to channel all of that black magical power through themselves and harmlessly into the earth. The only problem with this idea is that first, a binding rite doesn’t send out any kind of bolt (it emanates, like all intimate magical spells) and the fact that the magic likely went nowhere, there wasn’t anything really to defect or absorb. In their sacrificial act, they might have taken upon themselves all of the negative ill-will that everyone who dislikes the Donald is sending to his egregore. However, I actually doubt that they even managed to do that, since it would have been more like a chaotic cacophony of various emotional energies and thoughts without any real directive or cohesion. If anything, such a connection would have been merely one of countless millions, and it would have been confusing and perhaps even overwhelming, but not dramatically so. Yet they reported an immediate deflection of negative forces that nearly killed them. How very melodramatic, and also for me and many others, unbelievable. 

For their presumed sacrifices, I suspect that they might think that they should get some kind of award or medal from Trump, except that few are paying any attention. I have shown that it is very doubtful that a magical battle was the cause of these dramatic occurrences, so what did happen was the product of a very untethered imagination, that and maybe rampant paranoia and some truly irrational thinking. As a story, it mythologizes the processes and the persons, so it is obviously a form of extreme hyperbole or self-delusion.

The real question is how can you know when you are indeed being magically attacked? What is the difference between experiencing a real magical assault or one that is imagined for various reasons? There are some things that can be done to help make this determination, and this is where having a good peer group and a rational mind that can examine phenomena with the help of critical thinking are priceless gifts.

The two times that I personally experienced a magical attack were not at first easily identifiable as an attack. It was only obvious to me after some rational consideration, and also eliminating all other possibilities. In both cases the people who magically assaulted me did not tell me they were going to attack. How I determined that this was happening was that I experienced emotions, thoughts and inclinations that were not my own. I felt a tremendous guilt for things I hadn’t even done, and a form of self-loathing unlike my typical buoyant and forgiving manner. I had bad dreams, morbid thoughts, unreasonable fears that would suddenly strike and then disappear, and more importantly, I found myself dwelling on the person who had attacked me.

This process wasn’t sudden, it was a lot like getting a cold or the flu. It started out making me feel that something was not right and the feelings of something bad continued to grow over time. The real determiner is that all of this phenomena was alien to my being - it was another mind, emotions and even a will seeking to subdue and overcome me. Divination rites revealed a general state of complete confusion and indecisiveness that was overpowering me. Discussions with others revealed that I seemed to be emanating something that was palpably negative and self-destructive.

Another clue is that when I engaged with my spiritual discipline, performing liturgical rites, all of these effects completely disappeared for a short while. As you can imagine, undergoing a spiritual regimen (fasting, meditation in sacred space, performing liturgical rites) for a set period of time could readily defeat this external phenomenon altogether. In fact, that is exactly how I short-circuited and eliminated what was externally trying to invade my being and overcome my will. It was similar to an exorcism, except that I was functioning as both the exorcist and the subject of the exorcism.

Magical effects, as far as I understand them, don’t produce pyrotechnical phenomenon, so what is realistically experienced is more subtle, unexpected and stealthy. Being magically attacked is a lot like getting ill and slowly unraveling instead of being instantly blasted by a lightening bolt. People who tell me stories involving their dramatic experiences with ‘awesome’ magical pyrotechnics are usually engaging in excessive exaggeration or the ‘telling of tall tales’ rather than telling the truth. Those who claim to have engaged in mythic epic battles with the powers of darkness wielded by evil black magicians are either writing a fictional work or just plain lying. It doesn’t matter if the lie is due to self-delusion or it is a deliberate falsehood to glorify oneself, it still is a troubling personal defect that is a warning to oneself and others.

This rule of thumb can also apply to someone who complains about being magically attacked by someone or some group. As an author I get occasional emails from individuals requesting my help because they are being magically attacked. They usually describe an implausible or unbelievable series of occurrences and blame someone or some group for all of the bad things that are happening to them. I find myself feeling sympathy for them, but it seems obvious when I examine what they are claiming that they are actually suffering from some kind of mental illness or experiencing an internal psychic trauma. Their stories are full of bizarre imaginings and fanciful considerations, and of course, it all happened so suddenly.

Often these individuals live far away from me, and I feel that there is nothing that I could do to help them other than to tell to seek out professional help. I am not in the business of working magic for paying clients, and I think that I would dislike taking advantage of someone who is broken and experiencing psychological trauma. My heart breaks to read their emails, but I try to keep a level head and advise them to get professional help from someone near by.  I have no desire to add to their confusion or pain, and I hope that my lack of engagement doesn’t make me look cold or cruel, but that is the reality that I have to face. A good magician always knows his or her limitations, and I am not a licensed therapist. Someone who hasn’t learned that lesson yet or refuses to know their own boundaries are setting themselves up for a world of hurt.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Getting Back Into the Game

One of the problems about getting old is that sickness and infirmity can intervene and completely disrupt one’s magical plans and ambitions. When I was in my 20's, I had the stamina to work magic all weekend long with minimal sleep and not feel the physical effects. Even 10 years ago, I was still able to work magic for long periods of time without feeling too tired or lacking in energy to complete what I started. The years of 2009 and 2010 were filled with many magical accomplishments. Just five years ago I had completed my own talismanic version of the Portae Lucis and was looking forward to working on some other projects that were on my list of important magical ordeals to accomplish in the coming year. However, my health problems intervened and I wasn’t able to continue any further major workings until the present time. The year 2013 was something of a lost year for me, considering all of the problems that I faced, and the next two years were also filled with health issues that I had to somehow resolve. The latest event was some needed eye surgery that took place a few months ago, but now that event has made it important to get further medical help for my eyes.

Of course, all the while I was dealing with these issues, I was also having to put in a lot of extra time into my job, thus ensuring that I had even less time to devote to my magical work and practices. Now, some five years later, I want to pick up where I left off and continue with my magical work. It’s a good thing that I wrote down what my objectives were in some of my blog articles, so all I have to do is to examine and ponder over them because they are already written up. I have found that a particular blog article that I wrote around 4 years ago has all of the occult issues that I wanted to address and tasks that I wanted to work, unfortunately none of which saw any activity since they were written. I haven’t been completely neglectful, particularly in the area of my studies and writings, but I also have been unable to begin any new magical work since that time. You can find that blog article here, written at the start of the New Year for 2013. Little did I realize then that I was about to undergo some really difficult times regarding my health and my career.

My temple area has seen the greatest extent of neglect, since I haven’t worked any magick since completing the seventh and final planetary talisman. Things have been just too busy for me to even contemplate another magical project. I have made offerings of incense to the Gods and my ancestors, but not much beyond that. However, I have decided that the time is right to start picking up the threads of my magical practice and start engaging in some of the projects that I had to postpone. I also need to reconnect and align myself to my personal Deities and my pagan spirituality on a deeper and more profound level than what I have been doing in the last several months.”

I have added an occasional Mass rite and periodic meditation sessions to what I have been doing in my temple as of late - at least until this latest working.

As usual, I begin each year by putting together a list of things that I would like to accomplish. I might not succeed in completing all of the tasks, but if I can manage a few of them, then I consider that year to be successful. That list starts out containing the things that I didn’t get around to doing the previous year, if I consider them to be important and relevant. High on that list is my desire to complete the workings associated with what I have called the Portae Tenebris working, which is the opposite of the Portae Lucis. I have placed my seven talismans on my central altar protected by a veil with the intention of doing these sets of rituals, and I found no time to actually perform them. The talismans are still sitting there where I last left them, waiting for me to engage with this magic. I have decided that even though the Winter Solstice has come and gone, we are still in the great period of winter darkness. I am planning on picking up the threads of this working in the next week or so, and thereby bring it to completion.”

This rite, the Portae Tenebris, will require some work on my part. Today, I have no idea how this ritual will look except for a vague sense about the broad outlines. I am not even sure that it is necessary, although it does seem interesting to speculate about it.

Another pair of magical challenges are for me to invoke at least four of the spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia using the new ritual lore that I developed and wrote some time ago. I would also like to perform some invocations of the ha-Shem angels and some Goetic demons. I am hoping to achieve these workings between now and the end of April, when winter begins to recede from the northern Midwest. If I get to perform some of these workings, then I will have quite a bit to report about my experiences, and I will be able to say that the new ritual lore has been thoroughly vetted.”

This was some important magical work that I also had to put on hold, but I hope to re-engage with it this coming autumn. The list of things that I need to do has become quite large, as I peruse my plans from over four years ago.

So, that was what I was writing back in early 2013, but what I didn’t know is that a series of health issues hit me, one after another, that pretty much put all of plans in limbo. I had accomplished quite a bit up to that point in time, but now it was time to deal with the fact that I was aging and dealing with age related illnesses. I caught a really vicious flu in May of that year, and I was so debilitated that it took me a couple of months to fully recover from it.

Then as the year progressed, I discovered that I had a serious sleeping disorder, called sleep apnea. I got hooked on a prescription drug called Ambien, a sleeping aid, and had to wean myself off of it. Towards the end of the year, I started using a C-PAP breathing machine to assist my breathing and avoid succumbing to apnea related sleeping issues. I had to adjust to this contracption, learn all about sleep hygiene and I am continuing to monitor my sleep to ensure that I get enough rest each day. I also had a cataract removed from my left eye and now need the one on the right removed as well. I got Lyme’s disease from a tick bite in my yard in August 2015 and managed to recover from that bout of illness. I had surgery to correct the tracking of my eyes this last January, and I lost a molar, soon to be replaced with an implant crown. Yeah, I seem to be slowly falling apart, perhaps more so in the last few years.

These are just symptoms of old age catching up with me. I have had a great run of good health with little pain, sickness or difficulties my whole life, and now I have to be careful what I eat, how much I eat, what I drink, that I get more exercise, be more active, and ensure that I get to bed early enough to get enough sleep each night. This is a strange world to suddenly have to accommodate myself, but it is typical of a person who is getting older and undergoing the slow decrepitude of advanced age. My health issues are minor inconveniences when compared to the debilitating and painful medical conditions that some who are my age are experiencing. I am, so far, lucky that what I have undergone has had some ready medical solutions. Someday, I will likely start to really experience some of the more unpleasant and unhappy occurrences that happen to all mortal men and women as they undergo their final decade or so of life. Hopefully, I can keep that from happening for another twenty years or so.

Anyway, once a series of distractions occur, it can be difficult to break the ice and get back into the game of working complex and involved magical ordeals. I decided that I would do something this late spring to accomplish that goal, so I set about trying to picking up the thread of where I left off in the late autumn of 2012. Since I had completed my own talismanic version of the Portae Lucis for the Summer Solstice of 2012, I decided that I had to do something for the Solstice of 2017, which was the fifth year anniversary. I set out to, in some way, repeat what I had done back then, and I began to plan out my working.

One thing I want to make clear to my readers is that a magical ordeal is not the same as just working some magical rituals to achieve a very specific and short-term end. An ordeal, as I define it, is a transformative initiation. It operates using the power of ecstasy and also exaltation. It is highly empowering, very deep and it can be dreadfully painfully, because it changes one’s mind and being at the very deepest level. Transformation can be something that causes the magician to feel momentarily transcendent, but it also unleashes the realization of truths and insights that are humbling and even humiliating, especially if they are resisted. Transformation, when it occurs within a magical field, forces the magician who is undergoing it to see the truth about themselves and their place in the world at that moment, and this can be quite sobering and even traumatically distressful.

Transformation cuts through personal bias, hubris, self-delusion, and personal fantasies like a hot knife through butter. A self that is defined mostly by self-deceit and delusion will not withstand this potent realization of truth. Therefore, transformation can also be dis-empowering and even self-destructive to a magician undergoing a profound ordeal, particularly if he or she has a proclivity for delusion and falsehood. The most important rule that any magician can follow when undergoing such a massive and potent change is to be flexible, completely open and willing to change and adjust all of his or her ideals and beliefs when the truth is realized. Failure to change when presented with the truth is the painful moment when a magician catastrophically fails to grow or evolve. Personal momentum and the magical process itself are halted and short-circuited. The issues thereby uncovered remain unresolved, and they stay that way until the magician is finally able to see and act on the truth so revealed. Such a refusal to apply truth to self belief will stunt a magician’s growth, and over time, cause his or her being to regress.

Because transformative ordeals cannot be forced or deliberately manufactured, it would seem that a deliberate magical working targeting an ordeal process wouldn’t be able to cause such an ordeal to occur. However, if the internal state of the magician is ripe for such an occurrence then performing an ordeal based magical working will certainly trigger one to happen. I believe that was the case for me when I performed the talismanic version of the Portae Lucis. I experienced a great deal of emotional disruption and even health issues in the years following the performance of this ordeal. It was more powerful and far reaching than anything I had previously undergone, and aside from the momentary glory I achieved, I also realized the truth of the diminishment of my vitality associated with aging. I also learned that I couldn’t take my health or material privileges for granted.

Anyway, since I had finally made it through this long period of five years and I had restored, to some extent, my health and vitality, I decided to get back in the game. I determined that I would revisit my Portae Lucis working, which I performed five years ago, and do some kind of working that would pull the threads left off then and bring them into the present. I began to meditate on this task and try to figure out exactly what I would do. As I said, I had completed that ordeal back in June of 2012, but then continued to produce the semi-precious metalic talismans for the three planets not covered in that working so that I would have the complete set of seven. The talismanic Portae Lucis working only focused on the planets of the Moon, Sun and Saturn, with Mercury being the place-marker for the magician, and this was also how the original Portae Lucis was constructed. Therefore, to celebrate this accomplishment, which was my last major working, I had decided to perform the last part of it once again. You can find the blog articles where I have posted my magical diaries from that time here and here.

Additionally, I wanted to attempt some other magical workings during this time frame to experiment with the efficacy of two new rituals that I had recently written. I recently wrote the Egyptian Underworld Ascension rite, which eliminates any kind of obstruction or “crossing,” and the Talismanic Septagramic Vortex Gate ritual, which employs the seven metalic planetary-talismanic devices as a magical machine. Both of these new rituals were envisioned by me a few years ago, but I didn’t have the inspiration or insight to write them up. That changed over the Winter Solstice, and in performing these rites as part of the Portae Lucis commemoration I would be bringing my continuing magical working regimen into this current renewed period of my life. This new working would forge a bridge from 2012 to 2017, and hopefully, it will help me to forge ahead with additional and new workings.

As a sign of these times, I have already managed to put together a mechanism that will allow me to build up a grimoire based on the fallen angels of the Nephilim. In the next couple of months I hope to have contacted all 20 of the chiefs of the Nephilim instead of just the principal 4. Having evoked and established a bond with the four principals of this group, I will seek to contact the other 16, and entreat them to give me pertinent information about them and also their missing magical seals. To assemble all of this information together into a grimoire will make these spirits fully accessible to the magical public, something that they have been urging me to do for quite sometime now. I had started the book of the Nephilim decades ago, but I have only managed to produce two volumes, but nothing that would actually assist someone in being to follow in my magical footsteps. That will change, hopefully this year. It is one of the legacy items that I want to leave to the occult magical posterity.

I assembled a plan or sequence of magical workings that I would perform in order to complete the five year commemoration and bring my magical process into the present. Here are the sequence of dates that I planned on doing these workings. Of course, what actually happened was quite different, which is not too unusual for a planned series of magical workings.

April 22 - Saturday: Egyptian Underworld Ascension rite. First time shakedown performance of this rite. Started at around 9 pm after dark. This rite is used for ritual magical uncrossing and internal/external issue resolution. My intention was to eliminate obstructions that have kept me from performing magical ordeal workings and break the ice of over 4 years of dormancy - if such obstructions exist. New Moon was on April 26, so this working would be performed as the moon is waning towards the new phase. This timing seemed to be auspicious.

[Notes: The ritual was performed, but the magical working was awkward because of a lack of practice and problems with focusing. However it did indeed work and produced some immediately amazing experiential results. I felt like a burden was removed from me and that I experienced a greater free flowing influx of spiritual and magical insights and communication than previously. Like the beginning of a work-out regimen, I started out weakly and had problems with the ritual. The directions were not easy to understand and I had not actually studied the ritual before the working, having assumed that I wouldn’t need to do this kind of preparation. I was wrong, but despite these problems, the imagery that the ritual produced was quite amazing. I have gone over the ritual and modified the directions so that it is more clear. I also feel that I should perform this rite again in the near future so see if it can be performed more smoothly and therefore have a greater impact. My lady attended this rite and she also found the imagery to be quite fascinating. We went over some of it together after the rite was completed.]

Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the rest of this well planned out schedule, since other things intervened and forced me to change my plans. Here is the rest of the plan as I had intended to execute it.

May 13  - Saturday: Talismanic Septagramic Vortex Gate ritual. This ritual will set in motion the magical machine consisting of the seven metallic planetary-elemental talismans. This is a working that I had planned to do sometime in 2013, but I didn’t get around to doing it. While I have felt the impact of all seven of these metallic talismans in my temple, and I believe that I have benefitted because of them, this working will forge them into a proper magical machine. I will use the inauguration of this rite to set in motion some Mercury based aspirations, such as success in my IT business endeavors and further insights in the area of magic and occultism. I also want to charm my future writing projects, most notably, my new book proposal “Magical Power for Witches” that I will assemble this summer and submit to for publication in the autumn. Full Moon is on May 10, so this working will be within the orb of full to the gibbous waning moon.

May 27 - Saturday: Invocation of Hermes Thoth Trismagistos - using the Enochian Planetary Vortex rite, I will reconnect with Hermes Thoth as a precursor to the Talismanic Portae Lucis. The moon is New on May 25, so this just past the dark of the moon as it begins to wax towards full. Because this is a Memorial Day weekend, I could also attempt to perform the Egyptian Underworld Ascension rite on Friday or Sunday evening.

June 10 - Saturday: No Working Planned - this is the night immediately following the Full Moon, and as such, it is the last full moon before the Summer Solstice. It might be a good time to perform some kind of working, perhaps even another attempt at the Talismanic Septagramic Vortex Gate working.

June 20 - 21 - Tuesday and Wednesday: Talismanic Portae Lucis fifth anniversary re-enactment. Perform the last steps of the Talismanic Portae Lucis working. Summer Solstice for CDT at 11:24 pm Tuesday. On June 17 - 18, preparation work for the ordeal: Eneagram rite for Sephiroth, and Double Tetrahedral Gate for pathworking. Take Tuesday and Wednesday as vacation days, perform the Portae Lucis rite on Tuesday evening. Morning salutation of the Sun’s rising on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Target rite is the Triple Tetrahedral Gate ritual, to be performed on or near the evening time of the advent of the Summer Solstice.

I had planned on performing the Talismanic Septagramic Vortex Gate ritual as a preparation working to the actual re-doing of the Portae Lucis ordeal. However, when the date came due, I had other things to occupy my time and I stopped following my well structured plan. I felt that something wasn’t quite right and that what I had planned on doing wouldn’t accomplish what I wanted it to. It was frustrating and I felt like I was losing the magical grove that I had attempted to established by building up a time-table and a planned sequence of events. I did perform a short-hand invocation of Hermes Thoth, but that was at the request of my wife, even though it did fit one of the items that I had on my check list. That working was performed in an ad hoc manner on Sunday evening on May 14. Still, I felt indecisive and incapable of moving forward. It seemed that my plans were going to end in failure. The days for the individual workings passed with nothing being accomplished and I felt no inspiration to do any of things that I had planned, as the Summer Solstice grew ever closer.

One evening, a week or so before the Summer Solstice, as I was falling asleep I felt a presence and heard a voice say in my mind, “You have performed this ordeal previously, so it isn’t important to redo or revisit it. What you need to do is to perform the Talismanic Septagramic Vortex Gate ritual as the final piece of this working.” When I heard this voice and sensed this presence, it was like a light went off in my head. This was the answer that I was looking for! I felt a potent affirmation, but I also felt silly for not realizing that this was the missing piece that I had been searching for all along. A few days later, while exploring this possibility, I realized that not only could I just perform this ritual, but that I should also perform section 4 - Erecting the Ascension Gate as found in the Triple Tetrahedral Gate ritual. I would perform that section once the magical machine had been fully activated and I had placed within it the sigil that I would craft and consecrate. I planned on taking Tuesday afternoon off from work and all of Wednesday, so I would be free to begin the working Tuesday evening just after sunset.

In the afternoon of June 20, I performed all of the preparatory work and drew a set of three sigils on a piece parchment that represented what I wanted to accomplish in the next couple of years. I set up the temple so that I could perform a Mass and charge the sigil parchment with the consecrated wine from the Mass. Then I ate a light meal and did some miscellaneous and mindless tasks until the appointed time. I felt really excited and also very calm at the same time.

At just before 9 pm, I performed the final set up preparations and I was ready to begin the working. I erected and consecrated the magic circle at 9 pm when the sun had just set, and then I proceeded to perform the Mass of the Goddess. While I was performing this rite I briefly wondered if I would have the stamina to get through all of the work that was planned for that evening, thinking of what I had experienced back in April. However, I was very focused, energized and felt very good, so what doubts I may have had were quickly dispelled. I got through the Mass, charged the sigil and then set things up for the next rite. Even though I have never performed the Talismanic Septagramic Vortex Gate ritual before that evening, I went through it without any difficulties - my execution of that rite was smooth and efficient. When I got to the ritual climax and set the charged talisman into the septagramic trigon and drew the angles for the Sun, Jupiter and Mercury, I felt or sensed a distinct resonance, as if the etheric “gears, cogs and wheels” of a magical machine were set into motion.

I then performed the Ascension Gate ritual part from the  Triple Tetrahedral Gate ritual and I saw the same strange prismatic equilateral triangle gateway energy field, reflecting and refracting light as if it were a piece of glass as previously. I saw ghostly visual images appear and disappear on the surface of that mirror gate and I felt it resonate as if it were giving off deep tones that were below my threshold of hearing. I sensed them more than heard them. Then I sat down and meditated in this amazing energy field, realizing that I had indeed tapped into the ordeal working that I had performed nearly five years ago. It was as fresh and alive as if I had just performed the entire ordeal from scratch. I was amazed at this revelation, and I exulted in it for a while. I also heard or sensed a voice speaking to me, and this is what I heard. “The Portae Lucis, once opened, is never closed. It is always there, within your heart, mind and soul. While you were distracted for years, it continued to be active and it only required you to focus on it for this anniversary in order for you to be reawakened to its power and majesty.” The words were repeated several times and I felt them reverberate within my deepest and innermost self. I was truly grateful that I had so successfully reconnected to this magical process.

As I sat in deep meditation, I felt a deep level of fulfillment and clarity. I knew that whatever happened to me, I would always have this connection within me. Perhaps all I needed to regain what I had achieved was to become deeply aware that all of the magic that I have performed is concentrated within my very soul, and it is that source to which I must turn as age and the diminishment of mortality takes its toll on my body and mind. Perhaps this is why I have ardently studied Zen Buddhism for the last nine months, because I needed the triple wisdom of Samadhi, Sila and Prajna to help get me to that wondrous state of imperturbability, and then achieving that state on a periodic basis has allowed me to listen and be mindful of what I have already achieved throughout my magical practice.

After meditating in that state for a while, I came to normal consciousness and decided to bring the working to a close, so I sealed up the gateways and performed the final Eastern gateway passage into the waking world of light. As I finished up, I noticed the time was right around 11:30 pm, which was exact moment of the Summer Solstice. I had completed this working in the exact timing necessary and had accomplished all that I set out to do. I was highly energized and felt exalted. I stayed up for while and then prepared for bed, which I entered and fell deeply asleep, dreaming of the dawning of the longest day of the year.

Just before I retired for the night, I went outside for a bit and watched the stars twinkling distantly over my head. I noticed that the constellations of summer were now apparent, and that the evening was buzzing with a specialness and importance that seemed to augur a new beginning for me and my occult work. Time will tell whether this was just a fluke or the beginning of something big, but I did feel that the biggest and greatest discoveries were yet in the future instead of being the relics of past glory dimly remembered in my past.

A few days later and I am still feeling very blissful and happy about this latest working. I am amazed at how it proceeded, and how it took a very circuitous but creative detour. I never really lost faith that I would somehow find a way to complete this work and pick up the threads. Now what I need to do is to work with what I have started and perform other workings as the year progresses. It would seem that 2017 is for the dawning of a new cycle, and it is my hope that there will be more interesting events to report to you, my readers.

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, March 13, 2017

Paganicon 2017 Lecture and Other Stuff

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.

Bright Blessings

Frater Barrabbas