Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twin Cities Pagan Pride 2010

Well, I attended and taught my workshop at the Twin Cities Pagan Pride this year. The location for this year’s event was at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, which is an old converted church in the western side of Minneapolis. Because of the new location and the smaller area, the venue was probably not as big as supposedly has been in previous years. Saturday was fairly well attended, but Sunday was only sparsely attended, at least until the mid afternoon. My class held on Sunday at 12:30 had only four of five attendees, but this made the workshop more intimate and allowed for a wider range of topics to be discussed. I also was able to really examine the nature of my workshop on Sacred Space, Temples and Groves, and found that it does need some adjustment, but overall, the class was a success. The weather for both days was quite nice, pleasantly warm during the day, and cool during the evening - and lots of brilliant sunshine, which I enjoyed soaking up a bit of that, too. (Winters can be pretty harsh up here in the great northern plains.)

I also got to meet some old friends that I haven’t seen in quite a long time, as well as hang with some friends that I hadn’t got the chance to socialize with during the summer months. It makes me realize that living way out in the countryside has its benefits and its drawbacks. Seeing friends on a regular basis is one of the things that doesn’t happen often enough, so I often feel like I am missing out on what is going in the city. However, the isolation has its uses, which is the peace, the silence, ability to tune into nature, and enjoy long periods of thinking, meditating and working magick as often as I please. I am lucky in that I have a large home in the country and can support both an indoor temple (with an adjoining fire place) and an outdoor grove. Having both of these features makes living out here both a positive experience and one that has aided my spiritual and magickal development.

So, with that being said, I am enjoying this autumn, but I am definitely feeling a lot of internal spiritual movement deep within my soul, and I know that there will be some very interesting things awaiting me in the next couple of months. Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and I love all aspects of it, especially Samhain! The period from late September through the end of December are my most productive times, and it’s the time when the magick really manifests in a very powerful way - so I look forward this autumn with a high degree of optimism and encouragement.

Some interesting points about sacred space were written into my notes for that workshop, and since I haven’t shared any of that information with my readers, I wanted to post it here for all to read and think about. Here are my notes, but I have restricted them to include only the initial information about sacred space.

Introduction to Sacred Space

To define sacred space, we need to first define the terms sacred and space.

The dictionary can help us with this task (Merriam Webster).

Sacred - something that is dedicated to (exclusive) religious use, hallowed - consecrated by love or reverence, dedicated to a person or purpose, inviolable.

Related words: Sacramental - anything that is considered to have a sacred significance. Sacrifice - making an offering to a deity, giving up of something cherished or desired.

Sacred Space - a place or area (room) dedicated (either permanently or temporarily) for religious use, consecrated by a special process (either an outward act or an inward perception) and using either obvious or implied boundaries.

Sacred space establishes a boundary threshold between the domain of spirit and the mundane world, where what is within that boundary is considered to be a participant of the domain of spirit.

What is outside that boundary is to be considered part of the mundane world, or that space which is not essentially a participant in the expression of the sacred.

The boundary that is used in Witchcraft and paganism (if it is used at all) is a circle.

A circle can be found in both an indoor temple and an outdoor grove.

Other most essential element is the altar, which symbolizes a point or specific place in the circle where the godhead may be approached and communicated with in a direct manner. (Think sacred mountain or world tree.)

Because of the use of a boundary for sacred space, the temple room or outdoor grove characterizes a kind of magick or liturgical operation that is defined as using the process of immersion.
The gods, spirits and special creatures in paganism and witchcraft are experienced directly and individually by all - there is no veiling, gradation or partitioning of that exposure.

Pagan and wiccan magickal and liturgical practices are different than Christian or ceremonial magickal practices. 

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vortex - Magickal Domain of the Mysteries

We have discussed some different energy constructs that are used in ritual magick, but we haven’t gone into much detail about the specific use of such constructs. For this article, I would like to focus on one such energy construct, the Vortex. Unlike the cone of power or the pyramid of power, the vortex is characterized by a feminine gender, which powerfully alters the quality of the magickal energy generated and contained within it.

This should be old hat for my regular readers, since I have been talking about using a number of different energy structures that profoundly extend the basic theory of the energy model of magick. In extending and working with the energy model of magick, I have already discussed in previous articles that there are four different mechanisms used to qualify the concept of magickal energy as it is used in a temple. Let us review these four mechanisms as they are so defined here:

  • Four Elements - qualifying the energy with Fire, Air, Water, Earth;
  • Shaping - using the points of the magick circle to define geometric forms;
  • Vectoring - movement in a deosil or widdershins direction;
  • Gender - using the qualities of masculine and feminine to qualify energy.

Additionally, one can use colors, devices (such as spirals, crosses, pentagrams, hexagrams, etc.), formula letters, words (ideals), sigils, characters, talismans, etc. Accessing the imagination can make this list of qualifying mechanisms nearly endless. However, for our discussion we will limit ourselves to discussing shaping, vectoring and gender.

First of all, we need to be aware that the magick circle confines and condenses the energy generated within it, giving it a basic shape, which is a sphere. Other shapes can be determined by the 11 points of the magick circle, which I consider to be a major part of the temple energy architecture. We won’t get too deep into that discussion, since we are just concerned with the Vortex and its relative shape. Also, talking about the four Elements would bring us into the topic of working Elemental magick, which is not the theme for this article.

Shaping and vectoring play a part in the generation of a vortex, but they are minor elements when compared to how they are used in other more complex structures. We can shape energy into forms using vectoring, focusing inward and expanding outward - through involution and emanation. This is accomplished with ritual actions and movements within the temple area. We can also determine a relative gender quality to the energy based on the definitions of Fire and Water, and by other means as well. Still, gender is the preeminent topic for this article, since the Vortex is considered, by contrast to all of the other structures, to be a feminine based energy.

We also need to consider the definition of resonance in magickal energy work. Resonance is defined in ritual magick as an iterative increase in the intensity of action and motion to achieve a climax or ecstatic release. We will discuss a bit more about resonance later in this article.

The first real shaping of energy that most witches and pagans understand and probably use is the Cone of Power. For some, this is only energy shape that is used in a magickal working. I have proposed that the Cone of Power is an archetypal masculine energy, and I think that I have some good reasons for believing this to be true. 

The six reasons why I believe that the Cone of Power is an archetypal masculine energy:

  • Vectoring direction is Deosil, or Sun-wise;
  • Requires polarity of male and female in the Dance Round;
  • Energy is raised through resonance once to establish a “plateau”, a second time to release energy;
  • Energy is focused to the Zenith of the “magick sphere” in the circle, typically aided by a “director” standing in the center of the circle;
  • Energy is released as a “bolt” to its target through ecstatic resonance;
  • Circle must be banished after rite is completed

Doesn’t the pattern of this magickal structure sound a lot like the male sexual orgasmic cycle? It seems rather obvious to me, but some will maintain that the Cone of Power is not inherently masculine. However, I think that the six points shown above pretty much demonstrate my point.

The cone of power is used to generate an energy that projects itself into the mundane world like a bolt of lightening, where it travels to its target, irresistibly attracted to the imprinted magickal link like static electricity is to the earth, and similarly blasting the target with the full force of its latent charge. The cone of power is generated, imprinted and released, and what remains is banished, or cleansed from the circle, to eliminate any possibility for the power to rebound back to the sender.

So if it can be agreed that the Cone of Power is masculine, then what would the so-called feminine magickal energy structure look like? I believe that it would be almost exactly the opposite - instead of an upright cone, it would be a vortex spiraling down to a common singularity.

Vortex - Feminine gender quality of magickal power

The cone of power and the vortex symbolically imitate the masculine and feminine cycles of orgasm, and can be used separately or together. However, the vortex is used to contain energy and to amplify it over time. This is a very radically different kind of energy structure than what is typically deployed.

A vortex is an energy field that is deeply centered and internalized, but when it achieves a climax, which it does in a similar manner as the cone of power through resonance, it produces waves of energy radiating out in all directions, profoundly affecting the target through multiple waves of force that gradually and completely alter the target until it completely complies with the will of the magician.

The vortex type of magickal energy is more subtle and deeper than the cone of power, which suffers from the single mindedness of being able to miss its mark. A vortex surrounds its objective with waves of force, and these are more instrumental in making more likely greater and dynamic changes.

A cone of power is raised and used in a single magickal working, while a vortex is used over a series of workings. The cone of power must be banished when the magickal working is completed, while a vortex is sealed at its highest point of power (using a sealing spiral), then on subsequent evenings, unsealed at its previous apex of power. The newly unsealed vortex can have more levels of power and symbolic meaningfulness added to it, and then sealed when the working is completed. This cycle of activity can repeated as often as necessary, building up the energy contained in the vortex until it eventually achieves the highest level of power that is needed to completely overwhelm the desired transformative effect, and only then unleashed.

A vortex can contain any magickal pattern or energy field, including a cone or pyramid of power, or many cones or pyramids of power, generated over a period of many weeks or months. The vortex is a simple energy field, but it represents a greater articulation and manipulation of magickal energy than what a simple cone of power, by itself, is able to produce. A magician who seeks to work the most effective and potent magick, makes use of all of these methods of magickal power generation.   

Contrasting the qualities of a Spiral Vortex:

  • It’s a container, so it can’t be banished (it is sealed instead);
  • Reusable, it collects and stores all previous structures;
  • Resonance can produce waves of exteriorized magickal power, but only at the chosen time;
  • Can be used to contain and intensify a cone or a pyramid of power;
  • Establishes an alternative internalized temple based reality.

How one causes resonance to make the power of a vortex achieve a climax is nearly the same as it is done for either a cone or pyramid of power. The magician uses an iterative process, such as dance, or an exteriorizing spiral, chanting words of power or some other mechanism, and then repeats that process over and over again at greater frequency and power, until a climax is achieved. However, what is produced by this climax is quite different. Resonating the power contained in a vortex until it produces a climax releases the power in waves instead of a bolt. It produces waves of effective energy that emanate from the source (in the center) and radiate out in all directions, effectively surrounding and subtly impacting the target, causing it to irreversibly change over time. 

Looking at the above descriptive characteristics, it would seem that a vortex is like the feminine sexual orgasmic cycle. An energy climax produces waves of affecting energy as opposed to a single exteriorization. The feminine orgasm has been described in a similar manner.

Method of generation: Establish polarities to the Four Watchtowers or Four Angles (one can use the Rose Ankh device for this purpose, as well as other devices). Draw the four points together into the center of the circle at the point of the nadir or infra-point (use the sword, start in North and go widdershins), then perform a widdershins circumambulation of the circle, starting from the outer periphery and ending up in the center of the circle. To release the power stored in a vortex, one would circumambulate from the center of the circle to the outer periphery, moving in a deosil direction, which is the opposite to “winding the power” by moving widdershins.

Why is a Vortex useful in the practice of ritual magick, what is it’s purpose?

The spiral vortex represents the feminine symbolic magickal power, and it is an analogy for the female erotic cycle. The vortex has the essential qualities of being magnetic (it draws things to it) and enfolding, so these qualities seem very much to represent the sexuality inherent in the feminine.

Polarity is not as important to this ritual structure as is fusion and assimilation, although it sends out a subtle but powerful attracting magnetic force. Analogously speaking, what attracts a women to a man is the fascination of  intimately possessing and enfolding him, and she entices him in an erotic cycle of stimulus, and then powerfully draws him into her, where she experiences the fusion of the union of herself and him as one. Thus the underlying theme of the vortex is union. Yet the vortex uses the polarized quarters of the magick circle as an anchor, and these are drawn together into fusion in the center of the circle.

In the female erotic cycle, there is the added metaphysical qualities of the masculine within the feminine, and the feminine within the masculine, producing a potential for union on at least two different levels within the woman and the man. The man may dominate the woman outwardly, but she dominates him from within, and this mutual dominance produces the powerful bond of union and its aftermath, which is procreation. The place where the powers converge are within the woman’s womb, and this is considered the sacred container or well of life, where the creative powers are focused.

The feminine power of a vortex spirals around the circle in a widdershins direction, fusing into union in the center and moving downwards into a subterranean singularity. The vortex holds the power within itself, just as woman harnesses the power of a man’s erect penis. As the stimulus of this sexual union achieves a climactic crescendo, the focus of the power is pulled ever deeper into the singularity, while waves of ecstatic force emanate outwards, like the ripples produced by a pebble dropped into a pond or the tsunami produced by oceanic earthquakes. If this were an example of sex magick, then one could say that the emanating waves would penetrate the target of the magick, gently pervading it at reoccurring harmonic intervals, causing it to change through subtle but powerfully radiating emanations. This is exactly what occurs when a vortex is used.

A vortex is both a container of magickal effects as well as a mechanism to target and alter physical reality. The vortex can be simple or complex in its structure, since by its nature it contains all that is generated within it, having assimilated and emulated them perfectly within the ground of union. A vortex can even contain a cone or pyramid of power, where through mutual stimulation and climax, both mechanisms of empowerment achieve the highest level possible.

Vortex of the Mysteries

As stated above, the vortex is an inviolable container for all that is generated within it, and that it creates what could be described as a completely separate reality, a world within a world. The ritual structure of the vortex is based on a cross-roads platform (drawing the four quarters or angles together). Such an energy structure in ritual magick forms an internal domain that bends and mutates reality so that it conforms to the world view of an allegorical and even mythic reality.

How this occurs is first determined by what and how the four quarters or angles that make up its outer periphery are qualified. Devices (other than the Rose Ankh), Formula letters, words and concepts are declared at each of the four points, and also again in the center where they converge. These concepts become the seeds that help to forge the single point of meaning that a vortex produces. The spiral motion of a vortex is counter clockwise and down to the center of the circle, where it produces a kind of energy “singularity,” which is the resolution of four ideals set at the periphery into the one thing - the core of the mystery. That one thing, which functions as the core, is also considered the Source or essence, the mysterious paradox that is behind all meaning. From the one thing, it is only possible to ascend upwards and outwards, radiating, permeating and seeding the one paradoxical thought into the many. This should demonstrate how the vortex works and how it is able to produce such powerful phenomena in the material world. The impact of a vortex that is brought to a climax and released is great, but while it is fully established, it continues to process everything that is erected within it to derive that one singular ideal, which is the core of the mystery.

A vortex is therefore considered to be an active and dynamic power structure that is comparable to a hidden temple of the mysteries, since it reduces everything down to a paradoxical single ideal. So it holds within itself a powerful mystery - in fact, the Mystery. This is likely a difficult concept to conceptualize, so I invite others to experiment with the vortex and discover its special qualities for themselves.

If an empowered ritual structure of a vortex is joined with an underworld gateway and the gateway of ascent (the double gateway of initiation), then a true temple of the mysteries is established. This is true since the double gateway is synonymous with the cycle of transformative initiation, and the vortex is the resolution and source of the mystery, the very place where the supreme ordeal occurs, which is always some variation of the fusion of light and darkness, life and death. The double gateway produces an emblem of the hexagram, and joined with the divine tetrad of the mysteries, become the ten emanations of Godhead into the manifestation of all spiritualized creation.

Let us ponder this deep and insightful revelation about the simple ritual construct of the vortex, and return to it when we discuss the origin and expression of the mysteries as they are perceived in the practice of ritual magick as found in neopaganism and witchcraft.

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stephen Hawking Says - Theology Unnecessary

A few days ago (Sept 11), while plugging his latest book, “The Grand Design,” Stephen Hawking said some pretty interesting things. While being interviewed on CNN by Larry King, the aging scientist said: “God may exist, but science can explain the universe without the need for a creator.” He also said: “Gravity and quantum theory cause universes to be created spontaneously out of nothing.” This was followed up with a final pronouncement, “Science is increasingly answering questions that used to be the province of religion. The scientific account is complete. Theology is unnecessary.” You can find the interview here.

I am quite certain that his pronouncements on Larry King Live have been the topic of furious condemnation and outrage in some religious circles, particularly the more conservative and inherently inflexible ones. Some may become outraged at this seemingly arrogant approbation of thought by science versus religion, others may be somewhat dismayed. I, on the other hand, was neither disturbed nor troubled by this pronouncement. I nodded my head in tacit agreement, realizing that science has a powerful and compelling argument for the origin of the universe, and for life on this planet.

You can read what some of the more harsh pundits are saying in response to what Stephen Hawking announced here, here and here. I have placed these links from the sublime to the crass, so that my readers will be aware of the spectrum of criticism unleashed by Mr. Hawking’s comments.

Some may consider that whatever scientists say is merely theoretical and not factual, nevertheless, most scientific theories gather a considerable sustaining corollary of ancillary proof and verification, or they are dropped for better theories or explanations. For instance, some may say that Evolution is just a theory and not a fact, yet this shows that they completely misunderstand the nature of a scientific theory.

One of the more brilliant things stated by Ken Wilber in his copious writings (for instance, see “A Theory of Everything”, ch. 4 - Science and Religion) is that science is preeminently good at determining the nature of physical reality – from the most minute level of subatomic particles and super strings to the clustering of meta-galaxies, and everything in between. Scientists have the power to effectively define and explain the world of material things. That is the true scope of their knowledge, and also its limitation. Science can’t explain the “why” and the “wherefore” of things, nor can it explain the nature of the human spirit and the world in which that spirit resides. What we have here is a boundary that divides the physical world from the spiritual world, a boundary in which human beings straddle, since they are a product of the tight integration of matter and spirit. However, that boundary is simply a matter of perspective or perception, since human beings and much of the life on this planet share in the integration of spirit and matter, as does all life throughout the multiverse.

If I may quote Wilber, where he rightly shows the kind of balanced perspective between religion and science that ought to be the centerpiece of a modern and flexible world view for the typical occultist, I believe that his words may bolster my opinions.

“In the area of spirituality, for instance, we need at the very least to distinguish between horizontal or translative spirituality (which seeks to give meaning and solace to the separate self and thus fortify the ego) and the vertical or transformative spirituality (which seeks to transcend the separate self in a state of nondual unity consciousness that is beyond the ego).”

“Likewise, with science, we need to distinguish between a narrow and broad conception. Narrow science is based mostly on the exterior, physical, sensorimotor world. It is what we usually think of as the ‘hard sciences,’ such as physics, chemistry, and biology.”

“[T]hese types of broader sciences..we call them the ‘human sciences’..[such as] psychology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, semiotics, the cognitive sciences – all of these ‘broad’ sciences attempt to use a generally ‘scientific’ approach to the study of human consciousness.”
(See “A Theory of Everything,” p. 73 - 74)

As you can see, what we have here is a differentiation between narrow and broad, religion and science. Also, most of the controversy is between narrow science and narrow religion, which should be expected. Still, there is a way to bridge these different perspectives and come to a holistic and unified viewpoint.

What Stephen Hawking has said is nothing less than science claiming an exclusive right to the description of the nature of all physical matter in its various forms, and the phenomena of cosmos, its origin and final dissolution. Religion has filled this gap of explaining how things in the material world came to be for nearly the entire known history of the human race, and perhaps even longer. We must understand this mythic creation of the cosmos as an important and meaningful allegory, but not as a literal fact. This is the correct apprehension of the role that religion plays in understanding the universe and our place within it. A critical evaluation and appreciation of both science and religion requires knowing that each serves an important function in the human experience, and that one should not overlap or attempt to determine the facts or beliefs of the other.

What that means is that science and religion approach the human experience from two completely different perspectives, and that when correctly understood, they neither contradict or negate each other. Of course, this assumes that we understand religion and its teachings as representing the human perspective pertaining to values, and also personal and collective meaning. Science can’t answer the question, “What is the meaning of life,” either for the individual or the whole of humanity, in fact it doesn’t even attempt to do so.

Correspondingly, religion should not attempt to explain how the material universe and all that is in it came to be. In religion, cosmology, creation and the end times must be seen as being completely allegory. Individuals and groups who perceive religious scriptures as a literal truth neither understand their true meaning, or for that matter, what they are attempting to explain. In other words, those who believe in the literal truth of religious doctrines are terribly confused.

In the post modern world some of us are afflicted with the desire to have everything explained in a simple and neat fashion, thus making the world equally simple to understand. According to the Bible, the world and everything in it was created by God in six days. Nothing evolved or changed unless God willed it so - and nearly all species of animals that ever existed in our world were created as they appear today (if they aren’t already exinct). This is much more palatable to a devoutly religious human being than accepting what science says, that life evolved from the lowest forms to the highest, and that the occurrence of life on this planet was determined by random factors and chance. 

Still, the theories of science in regards to evolution and cosmology, although not yet complete and totally understood, are validated by an insurmountable mountain of data. That data grows and expands every year, and new discoveries and disciplines only seem to validate the theories that they support even more. To argue against them is completely ridiculous, particularly when all it takes is for a religiously devout person to understand that their beliefs are based upon powerful and meaningful allegories, which give personal and collective meaning to human life on this planet. Science and religion don’t talk about the same subjects and don’t share the same perspectives, so they can’t ever contradict each other. If they do, then one is misinterpreting either one or the other.

The term “God” also has different meanings whether one is referring to how most scientists view this being, or how religious authorities view it. Michio Kaku, in his wonderful book “Hyperspace” devoted a couple of chapters to the role that God could play in the creation of the universe. Yet in a couple of sentences he seemed to highlight the whole difference between how science and religion define God. I will quote some passages from this book here, because I found that what he wrote was so striking and relevant.

“It is sometimes helpful to differentiate between the God of miracles and the God of Order.”

“When scientists use the word God, they usually mean the God of Order.”

“Most scientists, it is safe to say, believe that there is some form of cosmic Order in the universe. However, to the nonscientist, the word God almost universally refers to the God of Miracles, and this is the source of miscommunication between scientists and nonscientists. The God of Miracles intervenes in our affairs, performs miracles, destroys wicked cities, smites enemy armies, drowns the Pharoah’s troops, and avenges the pure and noble.”

“If scientists and nonscientists fail to communicate with each other over religious questions, it is because they are talking past each other, referring to entirely different Gods.”
(“Hyperspace”, p. 330 - 331)

As you can see by what Michio Kaku has said, scientists are not generally atheists, instead they see the physical universe from a different perspective. It’s not that scientists don’t believe in miracles, it’s just that miracles are typically outside of the purview of science. The universal order that Mr. Kaku is talking about is profoundly elegant and is even magnificently represented in the mathematics that is used to promote these theories, whether for Cosmology or Quantum Mechanics. Yet science is only concerned with what is observable, measurable and repeatable – the other domains that reside in the full spectrum of human experience have been freed to determine their own values and worth. Scientists can’t appropriate what is not empirically available to them. 

Even if, by chance, science eventually learns to quantify the human soul in terms of brain chemistry or random neuron firings, they will still be unable to determine human values and establish the beliefs and sentiments of personal and collective meaning. Religion still has an important and powerful role to play in helping people to live together in peace, and to ultimately advance and evolve the collective conscious minds of the human race. Science can play no role in evolving the minds and collective sentiments of people – that is the proper place for religion to occupy in the sphere of human existence.

Therefore, religious systems that promote social understanding, spiritual tolerance, compassion for all living things in this world, as well as the systematic conscious evolution of the human race are truly representative of the religious wave of the future. Other religious systems that promote sectarianism or beliefs and actions that are contrary to these goals, and would thus cause people to relapse into regressive states, should be perceived as inimical to the collective human race.

It is my hope that such regressive spiritual perspectives, analogous to those practiced in highly sectarian or fundamentalist religious organizations, will ultimately die out and be replaced by more esoteric, occultic and progressive belief systems. Otherwise, I greatly fear what the future holds for the entire planet, and the human race as a whole. We have a few decades or maybe even a century to change, hopefully that is enough time.

Therefore, I believe that what Stephan Hawking has said is not only appropriate and correct, but should become the cornerstone of all occultists and followers of the various esoteric spiritual systems. Science and religion are bookends that harmoniously and elegantly bracket the whole of the human experience.

By the way, Michio Kaku, in his book “Hyperspace,” which was published back in 1995, agrees wholly with what Stephen Hawking has recently announced on TV. You can read his opinions on page 192, in the sub chapter “Proofs for the Existence of God.”

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some Really Silly Stuff

What me worry?

I don’t have to make this stuff up - life and the ever pervasive eye of television often captures the absurd and saves it for later auspicious viewing.

(Warning, a rant is coming!)

A case in point is the Tea Part politician running for Senator for the State of Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. This is one politician who has a recorded history of saying absolutely idiotic and absurd things in public, most of them having to do with obviously extremely conservative religious views. Normally, I don’t bother to report these kinds of things because I don’t write articles about politics, period.

Still, an incredibly ridiculous film clip from 1997 with Ms. O’Donnell on it was shown on Bill Maher's HBO TV show “Real Time” the previous night. Bill Maher played a snippet from his previous TV show “Politically Incorrect” in which O’Donnell, who was on the show at the time, said she “dabbled into witchcraft,” whatever that means.

Here’s the full quote, and you can find it here.

“I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn't know it. I mean, there was a little blood there and stuff like that. We went to a movie and then had a little picnic on a satanic altar.”

Everyone should know the facts that Christine O’Donnell has been posing as a born again Christian who believes strongly in legislating morality for the whole country. I find this quote from her past to be quite disturbing. First off, witches are not Satanists, therefore, a real witch wouldn’t have a ‘Satanic” altar, nor would there be blood on it from some kind of sacrifice, human or animal, or whatnot. Is she making all of this up? Possibly. It’s also possible that her leg was being pulled by supposed friends, and that she was too gullible to realize it.

Whatever the case, the fact that this person is running for the job of Senator for the State of Delaware on the Republican ticket says volumes about the current state of conservative politics, intolerance, religious bigotry and extreme sectarianism in our nation. We, as a country, cannot survive if such fanatics as Christine O’Donnell become politically empowered and attempt to move their agenda into the mainstream of American culture. The U.S. is not an Orthodox Protestant Christian theocracy, it is nation dedicated to a complete separation of church and state, which is meant to preserve the freedom for everyone to believe and worship as they see fit.

It is my hope that the people of the State of Delaware will emphatically deny this woman the honor of serving in the United States Senate. I also hope that conservative politics in general “sees the light” and refrains from becoming too vested in the promotion of conservative religious viewpoints to the exclusion of all other viewpoints. We are a nation of pluralism and religious freedoms, which also means that some folks, if they so choose, can be free of all religious practices and beliefs. What Christine O’Donnell is doing is promoting one sectarian perspective as a political agenda, which will affect everyone, including myself.

I feel that I have been warned by this recent revelation and I am dismayed that it is being allowed to happen by the press and the political establishment. While the Republican establishment was initially shocked by O’Donnell’s recent primary victory, and even Karl Rove criticized her viability as a candidate, since that moment, they have embraced her as one of them. (Winning does have that effect.)

You can be certain that I will place my sacred vote this November for candidates who represent progressive causes and religious tolerance - for everyone. Tell others you know not to be complacent about casting their vote this November. G.O.T.V.!

(The rant is over, we can all take a deep breath now!)

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 25/26 - Twin Cities Pagan Pride

I will be giving a workshop at the Twin Cities Pagan Pride gathering, which will be happening on Saturday and Sunday, September 25 and 26th, at the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community in Minneapolis. My workshop is about Sacred Space, Temples, and Working Magick in a Grove, scheduled for 12:30 pm, Sunday, in the Purple Room. You can find information about the gathering here, and a schedule of events, here.

This is my first venture and engagement with the TC Pagan Pride gathering, but I have heard such good things about it that I vowed last year not to miss it. So, I will be there for both days, attending some classes, chatting with old friends and making new friends (hopefully). There are some interesting events being planned for both days; I wanted to put in a plug or two about those events that are being put on by friends of mine.

Everything Out of Nothing: Saturday, 12:30 - 1:30 pm - a workshop about cosmologies, conducted by Anne Marie Forrester. This workshop looks particularly interesting, at least to me, since I am quite a fan of mythology and creation myths in particular. Art supplied are provided, so that indicates to me that some craftiness will be involved, it all sounds like fun to me.

Introduction to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram: Saturday, 1:30 - 2:30 pm - this workshop will explore and learn the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, facilitated by Scott Stenwick and his friend, Michele. Scott is something of an expert in the arena of ceremonial and Enochian magick, so this should be a very good class - I highly recommend it. Both Scott and Michele are quite knowledgeable and experienced in the art of ceremonial magick, and they are personal friends of mine.

Magical Writing: Saturday 2:30 - 3:30 pm - this workshop is all about producing inspired writings, insights and divination involving various gods and spirits. Veronica Cummer is the facilitator for this workshop, and I also consider her a good friend. She is a phenomenal teacher, mentor and writer. Keeping a journal will be one of the main topics that will be emphasized in this workshop, particularly since it’s so useful to keep a record of what has happened for future reference. Any one who is worth their salt as a magician knows about and keeps a journal, but it is typically an acquired skill, so Veronica will assist those who are new to this idea, as well as those who think they know it all (like me).

There will also be a number of other forums, rituals, workshops and vendors, so if you happen to live in the Twin Cities area, or are visiting, please consider stopping by. If you like, you can attend my class and hear me expound about sacred space. Give me a holler afterwards, and if you feel motivated, you can also buy one of my books. I will have some on hand, ready to be autographed by me and my magick pen - of course.

Other things that are going on with me lately?

Well, for one thing, I am learning to be a fiction writer. (Don’t laugh!) I am in the middle of my second fiction writing class, and I recently finished a refresher course for grammar. (So, maybe I might even start writing better and more clearer than I have previously..right!) It’s really not a myth that occultists like to write in an oblique manner to confound their readers, making them presume that the occult author actually knows arcane mysteries that others don’t. It’s actually a fact, one that I attempt to prove on a regular basis! Yes - I suppose you can spot hyperbole a mile away, so I will desist.

Anyway, my attempt at learning to write fiction will fulfill an age old dream of mine, inspired by that fab Beatle tune “Paperback Writer” - which I know that everyone knows and loves just like I do. (Sorry for the unintended ear-worm.) My first attempt at writing fiction will be to produce a vampire story. You don’t like that idea? Too late, it’s already pretty well defined in the “short form” so don’t try to talk me out of it. Here is my passion piece that I wrote up justifying the reason for writing this kind of story.

Passion - I really don’t like vampire stories in the media today that glamorize the vampire. I am a big fan of the old Hammer production horror films, where the monsters were evil, inhuman and terrible. I think that the series “Twilight” represents the worst of this genre (just my opinion). I strongly believe that the vampire is an unsympathetic monster that must be combated and destroyed, or humanity itself will be wiped out.

Here’s a character sketch of the story’s nemesis.

Duncan Sinclair - also known as the Vampire Hunter. Duncan is a mysterious man with connections to various governments and church organizations that he never talks about or reveals. He is a deeply devoted and pious practicing Roman Catholic Christian, but who has other abilities and knowledge that he keeps discreetly to himself. Duncan operates out of some clandestine organization that hunts and kills vampires, having a powerful network of connections and information that goes far beyond any known organization. He is tall, powerfully built, with jet black hair that he keeps short and well groomed. He has an unsightly scar on his left cheek from just below his eye to his jawline. Duncan usually wears a dark brown leather duster, a fedora and heavy rubber soled work boots. In his coat he usually has various knives, wooden stakes, a mallet, flares and a sawed off shotgun that shoots buckshot and holy water. He also has a silver mirror, a large golden pectoral cross, a couple of vials of holy water and a consecrated host mounted in a small golden monstrance. Duncan talks bluntly, passionately, and wastes little time giving his opinion about a person or a situation, and is usually spot on. However, he never swears, avoiding what he calls the “F” word, or the “GD” word (goddamn) - he will use vulgar words and oaths, though, and quite explosively, if angered. Duncan smokes cheroot cigars and drinks gallons of coffee, but never drinks any alcohol, because he says it clouds his mind. He is like a combination of Jack Palance and Nick Nolte.

Well, that’s what they call in show business - “a wrap” - and I am out of here!

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, September 10, 2010

An Essential Witchcraft Tradition

Often, when I have been pondering the materials that I was given after I had been elevated to the priesthood of the Wicca, I have wondered about it’s obvious incompleteness and paucity of lore. All that I have are the Book of Shadows and the various lineage documents, which represent everything that my elders taught me about the specific line of Alexandrian witchcraft that had been initiated into so many years ago. Over the years I have had to add quite a bit of additional material, either carefully researched, or in most cases, invented or created at the moment to fulfill a much needed liturgical or magickal task. At this time of my life and career as a witch, the amount of created or added lore far outweighs the original lore, which is to say that the role of that original lore was to define the boundaries rather than fulfill all of the needs. I have borrowed lore from many sources and invented new ways of doing things, but all along, I have wondered what a complete tradition would look like.

What would a tradition of witchcraft contain if it never required the invention or borrowing of lore from any other sources? I am pondering an essential tradition of witchcraft, one that is complete within in its culture matrix. I would suppose that such a tradition probably doesn’t exist, but still there is a need for knowing what it would look like. The reasons for this supposition is that identifying an essential tradition of witchcraft might aid me in determining what is missing in my own tradition. While I doubt that I would be able to fill in all of the holes (I am not that gifted), at least I might be able to determine the areas that witches today should focus on to help build a tradition that is complete.

In my opinion, a complete witchcraft tradition would contain three areas of knowledge, and these areas would be the Lore, Rituals and the Craft. I would define the Lore as the myths, songs and stories about the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Heroines, about the creation of the world, the mysteries of birth and death, light and darkness, and the secret history of the witches. It should also present the laws and guidelines of the witchcraft family or lineage.

Rituals and liturgy would represent the core of the tradition. These are the actual rituals, ceremonies and celebrations that witches would engage in while gathering together or practicing alone. Rituals and liturgy would unlock the doors to the mysteries, revealing the secret lore and knowledge that can’t be written down. The very spirit of witchcraft itself would consist of beliefs and insights that would remain unwritten, representing the powerful inner truths that would have to be rediscovered by each and every witch. Since witchcraft is not a religion of the book, these unwritten beliefs and insights would represent the true center of the witchcraft tradition. Each witch would have their own perspective unique to themselves. The rituals would point the way to acquiring this wisdom, perhaps even reveal the techniques, but the knowledge itself would never be printed or revealed.

Craft are various things that are done to fabricate all of the tools and materials needed to practice the rites and liturgies. These would include the recipes and directions for everything from food and drink to how to set up a temple or grove for worship and practicing magic. Since most of the tools and materials used are unique, there should be directions for producing them.

These three areas of knowledge represent the specific teachings of how one should live, ritualize and build up a continuous and periodic practice based on nature itself, which would be the ultimate source of all of the lore and practices. Nature provides the pattern of what would be called the natural mysteries - the cycle of light and darkness, Day/Night, Lunar and Solar Cycle, the Cycle of the Seasons, of birth and death, place and the mysteries of the deity itself.

Now that I have partitioned this knowledge into three areas, I would now like to make a list of what I believe should be contained in each. This is by no means an in-exhaustive list, yet it should suffice to give an idea of what might included under each area of knowledge in a complete tradition of witchcraft.

Lore -

Songs, dances, trance techniques and methods of inducing ecstasy
Myths and stories about the Goddesses, Gods, Demi-gods and Divine Humans
Adventures about heros and heroines (the sagas) and the mystery of life, death and love
Myths and stories about the Seasons and the Seasonal Full Moons
Cosmogonic Cycle - Creation, Golden Age, Age of Humanity and Final Dissolution
Origin of the Witches - a special and secret history
Stories of the Witch Families and Lineages
Rules, laws and guiding wisdom

Rituals -

Preparation for ritual - opening, cleansing (making sacred space), connecting, closing, grounding and the throwing of lots (dice)

Rituals and liturgy of Alignment:
devotions, service,
sacrifices, oblations, offerings,
invocations, orisens and paeans (talking to the gods)
communion, sacred feasts
oracles and divination (special godhead assumption)
great rite (sacred sexuality)

Lunar ceremonies (full moon gatherings) and lunar magic

Solar ceremonies (seasonal gatherings) and solar magic

Initiation and dedication (induction, dedication, installation as family head)

Rites of passage:
naming rite (occurs twice - after birth and entrance into adulthood),
hand fasting (marriage),
recognition of elder,
rite of passing (death)

Additional ritual workings (magic)

Rites and spells of the moon (eight phases of the moon for thirteen annual full moons)
Rites and spells of the sun (four seasons and vegetative life cycle)
Rites and spells of the stars (magic of the planets, constellations, decans, angels, etc.)
Rites of the underworld, necromancy and ancestor worship (demons, ghosts, lares, penates, genius)

Grand Sabbat (convocation of witch families)

Craft -

Special recipes for food and drink (for moon and sun gatherings),
Potions, incense, herbs, oils, soap
Spell craft - bags, poppets, various constructions
Use of blood and semen
Tools, sacred objects and fetishes
Clothes, costumes, masks, body painting
Instructions for building temple and grove architectures

As you can see, there is a lot of items in these lists. Only some of these items were included in the lore that I received from my elders and teachers. My hope is that someday, someone will come up with a complete and essential tradition of witchcraft. It will probably be the work of many people over a long period of time. Until that time, I will continue to gather or create the rites and lore that I need to use and add it to what I already have.

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ordeal of the Grimoire Armadel

Recently, I posted an article that explained the mystery of the Grimoire of Armadel and showed how it could be made into an operational grimoire. The days leading up to this revelation were filled with the inspiration of a higher genius other than my own, guiding my steps and allowing me to solve a puzzle that I have been pondering over for many years. Now that the mystery is resolved (at least as far as I am able to determine), I wish to assemble the steps necessary to fully deploy this grimoire. What I have discovered is that I already possess the ritual tools to do most of this work, and these rites are part of the standard lore for the Order of the Gnostic Star. I will have to revise one ritual, add alternative angel invocations to another, and write two new rituals. The ordeal itself is very time consuming and probably can’t be done in a single autumn and winter season, unless one has nothing else to do. Living a normal life, working at a job to pay the bills, spending time with one’s significant other, family and friends (in other words, having some kind of social life) would preclude completing this operation in a single season, at least for me. So I am suggesting that this ordeal be done in phases, and how one would go about doing that will be the topic of this article.

Members of the E.S.S.G. will have all of the lore at their disposal to perform this ordeal; those who are outside will have to build up that lore themselves. I don’t believe that this task is too difficult or incapable of being realized by someone outside of the Order, nevertheless, it will require some creativity and invention. Where I call for the invocation of various archangels, Qabbalistic pathworkings and the generation of talismans, all of these are tasks that the accomplished ritual or ceremonial magician would have at his or her disposal. However, a magician possessing the ingenuity to pull all of these pieces together is where the real creativity is required. The structures used in combining these various facets together would characterize a system of magick that is probably unique to the Order, but they would not be beyond the abilities of a crafty magickal practitioner.

I would also have to assume that what I have derived as the operational methodology to plumb the mysteries of the sigil characters found in this grimoire is only one of many different ways. I invite other magicians to find a methodology to activate this grimoire, and I look forward to a lively exchange between individuals with different magickal perspectives.

The Ordeal

The Ordeal is divided into three phases: the preliminary tasks, the ordeal introit, and then the actual ordeal (Mysterium Gateway). The preliminary tasks may take a full season to implement, but the introit and actual ordeal should be done serially, one immediately after the other, and should only take a couple of months to complete. Let’s look at these steps and determine what needs to be accomplished to fully activate the ordeal.

Preliminary Steps

The ritual magician has basically two preliminary tasks to accomplish before the ordeal proper can be started. These tasks involve the invocation of twelve archangels and the production of six talismans. I will now discuss each of these two preliminary tasks in greater detail.

During the course of a season, the ritual magician should perform a separate and distinct invocation for each of the following archangels. I would also recommend that a charged linking parchment containing the sigil signature of this spirit be produced, and a proper liber spiritum, or book of spirits, be kept. The liber spiritum should be a small blank book consisting of a page or more of notes and other information kept on each invoked archangel. These twelve archangels will be called again when the actual ordeal is performed, so the ritual magician will have to have an established link maintained and kept active with all of these spirits. I would recommend that the magician contact each of these archangels once a month for the duration of time between seasons when one will be required to perform the ordeal.

Another alternative would be to perform the archangel invocations every weekend in such a manner so that three archangels would be invoked every week for a period of one month. I will probably decide on using this alternative method for the actual ordeal, requiring a full month packed with invocations just prior to the activation of the ordeal. This would make the archangelic invocations more recent and active for the overall ordeal. 

The following is a list of the archangels who are to be invoked as part of this preliminary working. You should note that six of these angelic spirits will not be used in the Uriel as Seraph Operation working; they are only engaged when an associated sigil character is used to produce a vision or gain some kind of occult knowledge.

The following list of archangels is given a Qabbalistic context; they are associated with a Sephirah and the Qabbalistic world of Briah. This is done so that the invocation can have a matrix of correspondences, allowing for greater ease in identifying and performing the invocation rite. (An asterisk marks an archangel as not being a member of the Uriel as Seraph Operation.)

 Anael - Netzach (alt.)
*Camael - (Khamael) - Geburah
*Caphael - Malkuth - (alternate for Sandalphon)
 Cassiel - Binah (alt.)
 Gabriel - Yesod
*Haniel - Netzach
 Michael - Hod
 Raphael - Tiphareth
 Sachiel - Chesed (alt.)
*Thavael - Kether - (alternate for Metatron)
*Zadkiel - Chesed
*Zaphkiel - Binah

The next set of tasks is to generate six talismans. In the grimoire only six Olympian spirits are referenced, but I decided that it would be more useful (and more powerful) to articulate these planetary intelligences as talismanic elementals. My reason for making this decision is that two of the planetary intelligences should have a decided negative or inverted quality, since they are associated with negative visions and occult knowledge in line with diabolical spiritual aspects. This ability to bend the working and interpret it in a negative manner would require a more nuanced approach than just invoking a planetary intelligence. A talismanic elemental is a spiritual intelligence that can be contrasted and modified in a subtle manner, making it fit a visionary aspect that is different than its essential meaning. Additionally, using talismans allows for a degree of portability and materialization that would not occur with just an Olympian spirit.

To facilitate these tasks, I have looked over and chosen six specific talismanic elementals, but I have decided not to use the waning moon aspects to generate two negative or “curse” talismans. All of these talismans will not be directed outwardly, but instead will be used to foster visions and wisdom. I believe that using negative talismans to facilitate this inward process would be very ill advised, so I will instead make each and everyone of the talismans during the waxing moon. I will then use two of them to help determine occult insights that could be construed negative or diabolical.

The following is a list of the talismanic elementals and their associated lunar mansions. The textual description of the talismanic element is separated from the sigil character quality with a hyphen.

Phaleg - Mars of Water - Lsrahpm (mansion #28): protection against dark forces, able to draw or catch opportunities or romantic partners - arcana of necromancers (neg.)

Ophiel - Mercury of Fire - Anodoin (mansion #21): protection for one’s home, geomancy - sacramental regeneration (pos.)

Bethor - Jupiter of Earth - Aczinor (mansion #24): star of fortune, produces great material gain - occult knowledge of angels of darkness or demons (neg.)

Phul - Moon of Earth - Lzinopo (mansion #14): domestic security - creation of souls (pos.)

Aratron - Saturn of Air - Hipotga (mansion #17): reverses ill fortune - destiny of souls (pos.)

Och - Sun of Fire - Edelprna (mansion #11): generates the charisma and power of great leaders - creation of angels (pos.)

To generate these six talismans, the magician will have to plan and perform each magickal operation at the exact auspicious time associated with the targeted mansion of the moon, particularly while the moon is waxing. I would assume that producing these talismans would probably take several months to complete. Therefore, producing the six talismans should occupy the magician’s very first steps in building up the required elements before proceeding to the next task.

Ordeal Introit

There are three steps to be performed for the introit of the ordeal. These steps are: performing the Qabbalistic pathworking to activate the nine paths from Aleph (#11 - Atu 0 - Fool) through Tet (#19 - Atu XI), performing the invocations of Samael and Uriel, and performing the Uriel as Seraph Operation working. I will discuss each of the steps separately. 

Qabbalistic Pathworking - Using the Order’s ritual of the Double Tetrahedral Gate, perform a complete pathworking ritual to realize the essence of that Qabbalistic path in association with the angel of the Hebrew letter. The magician will use all of the strategic correspondences associated with a Qabbalistic path, including all of the Sephiroth of Kether through Tiphareth. Interestingly, these nine paths are associated with spiritual aspects that are either at or above the Greater Abyss. Once these nine pathworking rites are completed, the nine pathways are pulled together into a pattern where they form an Enneagramic gate. The enneagram thus becomes the foundation for the grimoire based ordeal. I noticed a curious thing when I was developing this combined structure; the nine pathways form a pattern of nine gates. As a fan of the movie “Ninth Gate,” I found this to be quite intriguing (and amusing).

The next step is where the magician invokes the archangelic spirits of Samael and Uriel, in that sequence. This would be a two step process, involving two separate and distinct operations. The archangel Samael is the key to all of the dark or infernal occult knowledge associated with the infernal princes and their servitors, and Uriel is the key to all of the greater occult knowledge. Uriel also acts as the control and central angelic spirit for the entire Armadel operation.

My research has essentially shown that Samael is considered the angelic equivalent of the great adversary or spiritual antagonist, who acts as the agent of ordeals, challenges and tests that are placed on the initiate through the authority of the Godhead. Samael is the initiator who teaches through crisis and internal conflict. Another name for that spirit is Satan or Shaitan, however, this spirit is not considered synonymous with the Devil, since there are five infernal princes who fit that role without equivocation. It seems that the archangel Samael is perceived in his Qabbalistic and Jewish role as divine adversary and official challenger (devil’s advocate). This is at least one piece of evidence that would support the idea that the Grimoire of Armadel is not so much a Christian grimoire as it is a product of European occultism. A purely Christian grimoire would probably identify Samael directly as a variation of Satan. To invoke Samael, I will build a custom ritual just for that purpose – I have a few other rites in my repertoire that can act as a model.

Uriel is the archangel associated with heavenly fire (illumination), salvation and he acts as the mediator for all spiritual mysteries. In many ways, he is analogous to the archangel Ratziel, who is the angel associated with Chokmah (Wisdom). I have decided to make Uriel an alternative angelic intelligence to Ratziel, and assign the Sephirah Chokmah to him. Therefore, I will use the matrix of Chokmah and the Qabbalistic world Briah to invoke the archangel of Uriel.

The Operation of Uriel functions as a mechanism to pull the eight archangels, six talismans and the nine pathways together into a seamlessly complete magickal structure. The foundation of this rite is the Enneagramic Gate, which uses three distinct gateways (West, North and East) superimposed onto the magick circle to form powerful overlapping structures. Upon the Enneagramic Gate is placed a septagramic gateway that uses the four Angles and an Ascension Gateway to establish a septagramic vortex grand gateway. The grand gateway is erected by using the points of the Western and Eastern watchtowers and the Ultrapoint, forming an equilateral triangle.

A central circle is drawn in the center of the magick circle, opened via the opening portal gesture, and within it, the Uriel as Seraph Operation working trigon is installed. Upon this trigon is installed the eight sigils for the eight archangels that have been already invoked and the six talismans that have already been charged and activated. The Enegramic Gate, the Septagramic Vortex Gate and Grand Gateway have joined all of these aspects together, along with the six talismans, which are set on the trigon to form a hexagram. A final invocation is recited to invoke the seraph archangelic spirit of Uriel, as the union of all of the seven archangels, six talismans, and the nine angels of the Qabbalistic pathways. After the working is done, all of the structures of the working are sealed – to be used whenever required. The completed Uriel working establishes the portal through which the sigil characters of the Grimoire of Armadel are fully activated.

Once the Uriel Operation is completed, then reestablishing it only requires a specialized macro rite that will unseal all of the nodes and reactivate the spirit of the archangel Uriel as Seraph. The magician is now able to perform a working at any time. There are some steps that must be performed initially, but glossed over for subsequent uses.

Mysterium Gateway - Armadel Working

The final step is the Mysterium Gateway, which is where the sigil characters of the grimoire are fully activated and deployed by the magician. The Mysterium Gateway can be performed at any time, since all of the preliminary steps have already been completed. The core working of the Armadel ordeal has only eight simple steps, and these are listed as the following:

1. Preparations - meditation, purification, fasting - saying of the Mass and a Benediction rite.
2. During the saying of Mass (the first time), the First Character is blessed and charged with sacrament. The magician will then perform a powerful meditation session where he or she bonds with the First Character as a personal lamen. The special sigil character for the ordeal working is also blessed and charged by the sacraments of the mass.
3. Erect a pyramid of power ritual chamber and empower it with the occult system of the tetra-sacramentary. This consists of using and deploying sacramental hosts blessed from each of the four Masses for the sacramental systems of Thelema, Thanatos, Agape and Eros, and these are set to the four Angles. (Each of the Four Angles represents a complete magickal circle with altar and wards, and a magickal system unto itself, so the over-arching magickal circle for this working consists of the overlapping of four magick circles.)
4. Self Anointing is performed with a special charged chrism, then performing the Godhead Assumption and finally, summoning the Higher Self as the HGA to act as an intermediary.
5. Opening of the Uriel as Seraph Operation construct to manifest the angelic aspect of Uriel as the union of all of the twenty-two elements. The active Uriel Operation trigon is the mechanism where the special sigil character is installed.
6. Erect the Grand gateway using the points of the North and South Watchtowers and the Infrapoint to establish an inverted equilateral triangle. The three Paths of Wisdom are also activated to empower the grand gateway, each path represents one point of the triangular gate. (The two grand gateways form a grand hexagram in the center of the magick circle.)
7. Using the sigil of the associated ruling spirit, summon that spirit to charge, bless and open the mystery of the associated sigil character. Acquire a deep state of trance and seek the ruling spirit to reveal a vision of the mystery. The magician may assist in setting the theme for this mystery through reading and meditating on the appropriate text (in this case, a specific passage from either the Apocryphon of John or the Trimorphic Protenoia). If one of the infernal spirits is the ruling spirit, then the archangel Samael is used as the intermediary.
8. Once the vision is completed, then close the gates and seal all of the nodes of the rite. The blessed and consecrated sigil character may be accessed again in the future in a fully consecrated magick circle where a Mass and Benediction have been performed. (It should be kept in a liber spirtum for that purpose.)

So, all of the above steps represent what I believe must be done to fully activate the sigil charcters of the Grimoire of Armadel. As you can see, there are a lot of steps in this ordeal. Some of what I have written here might be obscure or completely opaque to the magickal practitioner who is outside of the Order. Yet I believe that an adept magician should be able to manage to figure out all of these various steps and produce something that will work effectively.

A practicing ritual magician needs to build the following ritual mechanisms in order to activate this grimoire and perform the associated ordeal.

1. A ritual to perform talismanic magic using the lunar mansions.
2. Archangel invocation rite for all 14 archangels.
3. A ritual to perform Qabbalistic pathworking and summon the angel of the Hebew letter.
4. Develop and write the Uriel as Seraph Operation ritual working.
5. Develop and write the Mysterium gateway for the Armadel operation

The other ritual structures and mechanisms are not critical parts of the overall ordeal. They are additions that lend a certain aesthetic quality and unity to it. These ancillary ritual structures are also quite unique to the way magick is worked in the Order, but they do have a powerful effect when used. This is due to the prismatic power structures that make up the ritual structures used in the Order. A fuller explanation of these mechanisms would require the magician seeker to become a member of the Order. As you can see, membership doth have its privileges.

Frater Barrabbas

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grimoire of Armadel - A Curious History and Enigmatic Use

Of all of the old grimoires, the one that intrigues me the most is called the Grimoire of Armadel. I am intrigued because not much is known about this grimoire, and the class of magickal lore it contains seems to have no peer. It is supposedly associated with an unknown author who bears the mysterious name of “Armadel.” This grimoire has a curious history and an even more enigmatic use. Some occultists have looked through the book in vain for some clue as to how to use it, since the actual text is very terse, obscure and doesn’t make a lot of sense. The lack of any in-depth instructions has made this work rather challenging. One could make the argument that the grimoire either requires the simplest of magickal regimens (such as candles, incense and prayer) or that it’s incomplete. My opinion is somewhere between these two arguments, so that would mean that I believe that there are some parts missing, but there is enough to make it work – as we shall see.

The current edition that is still in print today was published by Weiser in 1995, but a first edition was published in 1980. Prior to that, the manuscript had never been published. Of the two editions, the second has a more thorough introduction, written by William Keith. The first edition had an introduction penned by the late Francis King, but it was less substantive than what William Keith wrote in the second. The original manuscript was translated by Samuel MacGregor Mathers when he was living in Paris, but it was never published during his lifetime. Mather’s translated manuscript was later acquired by Gerald Yorke, and it was only then that it was subsequently published.

There’s also a new book recently out that claims to make full use of this grimoire, called the “Grimoire Armadel Ritual Book” written by Kuriakos. A blurb from the advertisement for this book says the following:

“This Grimoire of Armadel Ritual book is the most powerful and yet simple Magick you will ever do! You only need a candle, bell, rope and incense and 10 minutes to do each ritual.”

Considering that the each of the spirits listed in the grimoire was supposed to be conjured to activate the sigils or characters found in the book (using the classical five step methodology), it would be far too easy if the magickal operations were that accessible or simple to execute. Certainly, if that were the case, others would have already solved the mystery of this grimoire when it first came out thirty years ago. Nevertheless, since I have not read this book, I won’t pass any judgement on it, leaving it to my readers to judge for themselves if they are curious. I have found the various contents of this grimoire to be anything but simple and easy to access, but that’s just my opinion.

Perhaps the first thing that anyone would need to know to penetrate the mystery of the Grimoire of Armadel, at least from the standpoint of the tradition of grimoires, is to know where it came from and when it was originally created. Unlike many other grimoires, there is only one known manuscript copy in the world, which is MS 88, kept in the Bibliotheque l’Arsenal in Paris. The manuscript, written in Latin and French, was probably produced in the early 18th century. The fact that it has such a low catalogue number shouldn’t indicate that it was older than other manuscripts, since the numbering system may or may not indicate a manuscript’s chronological placement in the catalogue. There are over 12,000 manuscripts kept in that library.

The library of the Arsenal in Paris has over a million books and other papers, and even in the late 19th century, it was quite voluminous. Yet of all of the occult books, manuscripts and grimoires to be found in that repository, only two were translated by the occult scholar and founder of the Golden Dawn, Samuel MacGregor Mathers – the Book of Abramelin and the Grimoire Armadel.

In his introduction, William Keith wondered why Mathers bothered translating this work since according to him it was both derivative and a late edition to the various families of grimoires. Did his teachers, the secret chiefs, instruct him to translate this book? No one is now able to answer that question, since Mathers, and all of his immediate associates, have passed away. Yet any occultist or magician can immediately appreciate the importance and power of this grimoire by simply examining it. From a literary perspective, William Keith is probably correct, the Grimoire Armadel did not seem either impressive or particularly revelatory. However, from an occult perspective, it is easy to see why Mathers spent his time translating this manuscript – the sigils and various characters, all in color, are quite astonishing and impressive, even to the lay occultist.

Scrutiny of the manuscript revealed, even to Mathers, that the original grimoire was probably written in German, since there appears to be some word usage and terms that are obviously poorly translated from that language into French (such as Kanssud for Sud Kante – p. 30, Man for One – p. 31, etc.). The chapters have grandiose liturgical titles written in Latin that seem to have little to do with the actual content of the chapter, which typically consists of a short paragraph and either the sigil of a spirit or the enlarged magickal character of some visionary process, or both. Yet the sigils and characters are of a remarkable nature that are not found in any other grimoire, although there are some sigils and characters in other grimoires that might be analogous. However, the names of the various spirits are taken from other grimoires, such as the Heptameron, the Arbatel, Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy and the Grimoire of Pope Honorius. One can easily guess that the Grimoire Armadel came after these books and manuscripts, since it uses the spirit names from these traditional sources. However, the sigils and characters are unique, representing the greater contribution of this work - but the rest was apparently derivative.

The name Armadel should not be confused with other similar names found in the famous grimoire titles of history. There is the Almadel, which is the fourth book of the Lemegeton or Lesser Key of Solomon, and the Arbatel, which is a grimoire of planetary magick derived from the occult teachings of Paracelsus. The name Armadel has no known definition, so it would seem to be a proper name, possibly indicating the name of the author. William Keith cites another grimoire in the arsenal entitled “Armadel’s Grimoire ou la Cabale” (MS 2494) and a grimoire in the British Museum “The True Keys of King Solomon by Armadel” (Landsdowne MS. 1202), both of these manuscripts contain the name “Armadel” although there is no clue as to the identity of this individual - he is not an obvious historical person.

Originally, I had assumed that the name Armadel was of Hebrew derivation, but the closest I could come to the actual name was ORAM-MAD-EL, or God’s Mighty Wisdom. Other authors have considered that the name Armadel was a variation of Almadel, but I disagree. I think that they are distinct, since Almadel incorporates skrying, and Armadel performs extended conjurations with sigil characters to induce visions and obtain knowledge. As I have said, I believe that the name Armadel is probably a proper name. 

According to William Keith in his introduction (p. 11), the name Armadel is referenced in a book listing occult books and manuscripts, written by Gabriel Naude in 1625. In that bibliographical book on occult works, Gabriel states that there are five basic categories for the practice of the magickal arts, and except for one, these were documented classes of literature well known to the occult literati of the time:

  • Trithemius - art of invention,
  • Theurgy - art of elocution,
  • Armadel - art of disposition,
  • Pauline - art of pronunciation,
  • Lullian - art of memory.

Of course, all but Armadel represent a verifiable literary source for the magickal arts; yet it would seem that back in the early 17th century the “art of disposition” was an important magickal practice. We must thoroughly examine the contents of the grimoire and compare it to other works if we wish to fully comprehend what is meant by the art of disposition.

“The Grimoire of Armadel claims to conjure spirits that (judging from their descriptions) affect the disposition of the magician, rather than grant specific powers or perform definitive duties, as do spirits in other grimoires,” so states William Keith. However, the kinds of operations that this grimoire performs appear to involve the gaining of knowledge, wisdom, deep mystical insights and even a kind of enlightenment. That type of magick was considered the “art of disposition, ” according to various obscure references, and it was believed to be a form of magick that had the greatest effect on the individual practitioner, granting him or her a kind of gnostic wisdom or illumination. Certainly, this particular practice in the art of magick would have been greatly admired in its time, only to be obscured and then superceded by the more grandiose types of material based magick, such as those found in forms of angelic, talismanic and goetic magick.

Another grimoire that might be considered similar to the Grimoire of Armadel would be the Notary Art of Solomon, or the Ars Notaria, as it was called. It was supposed to be the fifth book of the Lemegeton (Lesser Key of Solomon), but it’s usually excluded because no version or published book has been able to capture the incredibly intricate and beautiful illuminated characters and sigils (notae) that fill up whole pages, formed from the calligraphy of various strange words of invocation. The purpose of the words of invocation and the notary devices was to assist the wielder to acquire certain spiritual and occult knowledge directly, without the outer apparatus of learning. It would seem, then, that this grimoire, which has been dated to at least the early or middle 13th century (and is actually independent of the Lemegeton), would be of the same class of grimoires as the Grimoire of Armadel. Both manuscripts claimed to instruct and assist the operator in a form of magick that would powerfully impact his mind, revealing hidden and occultic wisdom – thus they were grimoires of the art of disposition. 

There are probably other grimoires in various collections and libraries that could be classified as belonging to the magickal art of disposition. One could easily categorize a lot of the higher ritual magick that I work as belonging to this category, making it probably one of the most important of all of the categories of magick that are practiced in the Order. At some point in the career of the magician, there is a noticeable shift from working magick to exclusively achieve material objectives to acquring hidden knowledge, wisdom, and ultimately, enlightenment. Some never make that transition, and others seek it without having the solid base of the mastery of practical magick. However, the art of magick that is used to gain knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment is the art of disposition.

Additionally, I have assumed that the Grimoire of Armadel was part of a family of grimoires that originally came from Germany, representing a group of books on magick as profound and famous as the Book of Abramelin, Sepher Raziel, the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses and the Grimoire of Pope Honorius. Where it fits into that tradition will only be determined when a German original is found, or at least other versions of the same Grimoire. I have already done a little bit of research and writing on this grimoire manuscript in my article on the Old Grimoires (as of yet unpublished). I have decided to quote a paragraph or two to share what I have discovered.

“The Grimoire of Armadel also comes from this [German] tradition, but only a poor Latin and French edition was available to Mathers for translating, and much later printing. We can hopefully anticipate the eventual discovery and publishing of a more fresh translation from a currently unknown German version. However, few have ever gazed upon the sigils and characters found in the Grimoire of Armadel and not marveled at them, even though the ritual lore to activate them is extremely sparse, and there seems to be no way to actually use any of the sigils and characters (without recourse to other materials). The Grimoire Armadel probably has its origins in the late 17th to early 18th century, and represents the last flowering of this tradition.

Owen Davies, in his book (Grimoires - A History of Magic Books - p. 97), has speculated that the Armadel manuscript may have been part of a collection of hundreds of confiscated magical books held for safe keeping by the lieutenant general of the Paris Police force, Marc-René de Voyer d’Argenson, who was investigating the massive occurrence of occult fraud in Paris in the early 18th century. These grimoires found their way into the library of his grandson, Marc-René, 3rd marquis d'Argenson, whose huge collection of books was purchased by the King’s brother (Count of Artois) in 1785 and became part of the famous Bibliotheque l’Arsenal of Paris. Eventually, the grimoire was discovered languishing in that manuscript collection over a century later by Mathers, who immediately saw its value and translated it.”

The idea that the Grimoire of Armadel had been confiscated from some cunning man or sorcerer for hire in Paris in the early 18th century is quite intriguing. Who originally owned the manuscript, how was it produced and where did it come from? These questions will never be answered. Since there are some references to the name Armadel in the 17th century, then it would seem likely that the grimoire was produced sometime anywhere from the mid to the late 17th century, so it wasn’t actually as recent a work as it might have seemed, yet it was produced later in time than other classic grimoires. This should not devalue the importance of this book, since it can be reasonably shown to be part of a historical context that occurred at the height of the great age of grimoires. Where the 16th century established the foundation of the tradition of ceremonial magick, the 17th century saw it become refined and developed into a form that we would recognize today. Most of the grimoire manuscripts that exist in libraries in the present era are from the 18th century or later, when such books were copied and translated as a sort of clandestine industry for wealthy collectors and amateur practitioners.

An examination of the Grimoire of Armadel shows that it suffers from some disorganization, since the chapters follow no observable order. In fact the title page in the original manuscript is at the end instead of the beginning, leading some to speculate that perhaps the book was written from back to front. However, the order of chapters for the first two chapter groups is not important, since each of them can stand alone with their associated spirit name and sigil, offering revelations and visions with their use that are unique and distinct. The broader chapter group sections could be considered separate books whose titles consist of the words “theosophy”, “sacro-mystic theology” and “qabalistical light,” obviously characterizing the presentation of arcane occult knowledge associated with various mysteries of the Bible. Most of the chapters are concerned with highly obscure Old Testament mysteries, but there are some New Testament mysteries presented as well.

It has been said that this grimoire is somehow more Christian than other grimoires, but I find that opinion to be superficial, since there are many grimoires that are Christian based, such as the Ars Notaria, Liber Juratus, Arbatel, Grimoire of Pope Honorius and numerous others. The infusion of Qabbalistic concepts into this grimoire would show that it had a blending of Jewish and Christian elements, but like many of the grimoires from that time it was produced by and for Christian ceremonial magicians. One could also assume that the would-be practitioner engaged in special rites of purification, atonement, and receiving the sacraments of the Mass, although this is not specifically stated. However, seeking the protection of Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas and the obscure references to a “Misterium Stile” would seem to indicate that the sacraments and blessings of a Catholic liturgy would characterize the spiritual background for this working.

The array of spirits found in this grimoire demonstrates the varied mixture of traditions that were plumbed to fashion it. They are associated with the ten Sephiroth, the Olympic spirits of the Arbatel (omitting Hagith – Venus), and include the addition of four of the planetary archangels found in Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy. There are also spirits associated with the Hebrew letters, from Aleph to Tet (for the numbers 1through 9) and two previously unknown archangels. In addition, sigil characters are found for five infernal princes, Mephistopheles (spelled Hemostopile), and two possibly unidentified goetic demons (for a total of eight altogether). The operator is instructed to steadfastly refuse to be seduced or deceived by the infernal spirits, seeking only to achieve the knowledge associated with the sigil characters. It is interesting to note that the archangels listed in the first book also number eight, and they may have been used in conjunction with the eight demonic spirits, functioning as a type of magickal controlling device. In all, there are thirty-seven spirits, not including the three groups of spirits associated with the Paths of Wisdom, which would then combine to make the mystic number of 40.

Five demon princes listed in the grimoire may have been culled from the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, which was a German grimoire dated from the early 17th century. Mephistopheles would also fit into the context of German grimoires, most notably, the Faustian branch. The demons Brufor and Laune are of unknown derivation, but Brufor could possibly be Brulefer, which was a demon found in the Grimoirum Verum. Most of these demonic spirit names demonstrate an ultimate German context for the Grimoire Armadel.

There are also three sigil characters for the spirits of the paths of Force and Counsel, Joy and Love and Charity (Paths of Wisdom). It would seem that these sigil characters are used to consecrate the altar and magickal tools with some kind of empowered chrism, but the directions are torturously obscure. The rest of the sigils and sigil characters are associated with one or more spirit and some mystery or vision.

Since all of the spirit names are taken from other magickal traditions, it would seem that a simple activation of this system would likely require the invocation of the spirit and the inclusion of the special sigil or sigil character, acting as a mechanism to aid the magician in acquiring some extended vision or specific occult knowledge. Thus the operator would have been required to be knowledgeable and have in his possession copies of the Heptameron, the Arbatel and the four books of Occult Philosophy of Agrippa. The magician would very likely perform invocations of these spirits and have access to them before actually activating the sigils and sigil characters of this grimoire, although this is speculation on my part – the invocations may have been performed as part of the working. The magician would also have been expected to know the Bible in a very intimate manner, perhaps indicating that possessing a printed copy of the Bible would also have been a requirement for this system of magick. This fact would have also determined the location of the source of the grimoire as Germany (or possibly England or the Netherlands), since mainstream Catholics were forbidden from owning or reading the Bible, unless they were clerics or church doctors.

The actual sequence of operational steps associated with this grimoire are somewhat difficult to fathom, since the layout of the chapters appears to be jumbled and out of sequence. However, since the title page is at the end of the manuscript instead of the beginning, one could consider this as a clue to the actual operational sequence of the grimoire. As noted previously, a few critics have said that the order of the chapters is completely reversed, with the ending chapter actually the first chapter, and there is some merit to this speculation. However, it’s overly simplistic to just reverse the order of the chapters, but I believe that a careful examination can readily reveal the actual operational sequence. The following sequence of chapters is based upon my own analysis and should not be considered the final word. (The sequence of operational steps would be called the “Rational Table or Qabalistic Light.”)

1. Characters of Michael - basic preparations – fasting, initial prayers, special considerations.
2. First Character - where the operator fuses himself into the working by applying his initials to a character that is produced on parchment and worn under his vestments near his heart, acting as a kind of phylactery.
3. Vision of Dust - (Raphael and Pelech as Jesus) – possible reference to the receiving of sacraments as a means of establishing a high degree of piety.
4. Vision of Anointing – possible reference to the purity of one’s self and personal consecration.
5. Concerning the Paths of Wisdom – consecration of the temple, vestments and tools. (These sigil characters are used to aid the magician in achieving the grace necessary to perform the work – extracted from the end of Book II)
6. Preparation of the Soul – parts 1 and 2 – consecration of the magick circle. (One would have to borrow an example from some other grimoire, since there is no image of what that magick circle would look like.)
7. Conjurations – first and second, and the license to depart.

In addition, there is a character sigil for the operation of Uriel Seraphim, which would seem to be the foundational operation for the working. This character sigil is found at the very beginning of the book, before the introduction – there is no accompanying text to reveal its purpose or use. Perhaps this indicates that Uriel Seraphim is the key to this system of magick, and that the magician should invoke Uriel Seraphim using this combination of character sigils. There are also sigil characters representing the other seven archangels found in the first and second books (yet the sigils are different than what is displayed in those books), so these would also be included. It may be that this large array of sigil characters, with a triangle in the lower center, would have been possibly placed in the center of the magick circle, acting as a powerful protecting and empowering mechanism. There are also words of power or evocation placed on both sides of the triangle. The one on the left uses the archangel name Michael, and the one on the right, Gabriel.

Once these items have been performed and established, the magician could proceed through the various operations involving all of the other spirits in the grimoire, beginning first with book 1, the “Theosophy of Our Forefathers” and proceeding through book 2, the “Sacro-mystic Theology of Our Forefathers.” I would assume that each sigil character would be operationally activated only after the spirit had been properly invoked, using the system outlined by Agrippa’s 4th Book of Occult Philosophy and found in the directions contained in the Arbatel. I would also assume that the magician would not actively invoke either the infernal princes or the goetic spirits, using instead the power of the “seraphim” Uriel and the eight archangels to aid in the revelation of these spirits.

Special notice can be given to the fact that the normal operational steps of constraining and binding the spirit are omitted. It is my opinion that since a classical invocation has already been performed, these steps would not be required to activate the sigil characters.

Another minor anomaly is that the name of the archangel Gabriel is shown in the grimoire three times. The archangel Michael is shown twice, as is Zadkiel and Samael. Yet all of the sigils or characters used in the repetitions are different. Gabriel and Michael also appear in the operation of Uriel Seraphim, their unique sigils are shown with five other archangels and their names are used in the left and right hand words of evocation. There is also a parenthetical clue placed under the name of Gabriel, appearing as the central archangel, with the word “oriens” (East?) indicated below it. What all of these anomalies signify is unknown, but it would seem that Gabriel, Michael and Uriel may play key roles in the operation of the grimoire.  Another note, the archangels Caphael and Thavael are unique to the Grimoire of Armadel – they are not found in any of the angelic lore or literature.

Finally, I have found in the grimoire an odd association with Jesus and the name “Pelech.” After looking over various possible Hebrew words, I have determined that the word Pelech is very likely the Hebrew word “Pelach,” which is the masculine pronoun from the verb root PLCh, which means to be sliced or broken apart. This association, in my opinion, represents the aspect of Jesus Christ as the sacramental wafer of the Eucharist as well as the Crucifixion. (It might also indicate some alchemical operation.) So it would seem that my guess about the chapter entitled the “Vision of Dust” is a very obscure reference to receiving the sacraments, specifically the host of the Eucharist. I would also suspect that such an oblique reference might symbolize that the host should be used in the magick circle, to fortify and amplify the sacral power of the working. The obscure wording could be justified if it was meant to protect the operator from being accused of performing diabolical ceremonial magick, or at the very least, committing sacrilege.

To recap: the Grimoire of Armadel is a very peculiar manuscript of ceremonial magick. An analysis of its various chapter components has revealed that the operational sequence was deliberately made obscure. This grimoire requires the knowledge and use of other grimoires, most notably the Heptrameron, Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy and the Arbatel. The key to operationally using this grimoire requires re-establishing the operational sequence and also performing classical invocations of the various spirits before performing the sigil character operations. The art of Armadel appears to be a system of magick that assists the operator in acquiring visions, insights, occult knowledge, wisdom, and ultimately, spiritual enlightenment. It is a system of magick that can be found in other systems of magick where spiritual knowledge is considered more important and personally empowering than material powers and achievements.

While I was still in the process of examining this grimoire, I did make use of the three sigil characters of the Paths of Wisdom many years ago, and have found them to be extraordinarily powerful and very useful. They are used to adorn the gateway keys that I use in the performance of ritual magick. As time goes on, other parts of the grimoire will be incorporated into the ritual system of the Order as well. Since I have determined the actual operational steps and the requirements for making this grimoire fully functional, I need only to build a system of magick to use the special sigil characters.

Once I have activated these sigils and characters, I will likely find that their impact upon my conscious mind will produce a very different result than what is described in this grimoire. It will give me the insight and wisdom to write my own Gnostic pagan version of this obviously Christian grimoire. I might want to use the Gnostic books of the Apocryphon of John and the Trimorphic Protenoia as the spiritual background for this new grimoire, since they are personally important to me and to the Order. Religions and creeds may differ, but the over-arching spiritual wisdom contained in these sigil characters goes far beyond the tenets of any one specific religious perspective. As they are part of the spiritual and cultural matrix of the Western Mystery Tradition, they are also accessible to one and all.

Frater Barrabbas