Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Leaving for Pantheacon Today - See You There!

I wanted to post this article tomorrow, which is Thursday, but decided to post it tonight instead. I begin my travels to Pantheacon tomorrow afternoon, but I figured that I wouldn’t have enough time to do everything that needs to be done before leaving.

Today is the day that I pack up my hoard of occult loot (arrgh!) and board a plane for San Jose to attend my third Pantheacon. I am very excited and happy to get out of the frozen tundra for a few days, and of course, the weather here is oddly heating up and melting all of the snow. It will probably be only a little warmer there than here - although there won’t be any snow, just rain.

Meanwhile on the blogosphere there has been a friendly dust up between Frater A.I,T., Rufus Opus, Jason Miller and Balthazar - all of it over whether or not energy work is an important part of magick or just a load of manure, as R.O. has so eloquently put it. For me, I look at this argument as kind of puzzling. Energy work is only important if the Energy Model of magick has precedence in one’s magickal work - if it doesn’t, then the whole argument is rather moot. You can find them here, here, here and here.       
(Although why I give PR to blogs that don’t link to mine is a puzzling conundrum. I guess I haven’t been invited to that exclusive club just yet. The exception, of course, is Frater A.I.T. - many thanks to him for linking to my blog.)

You could imagine two magicians, one working through the Energy Model, the other, the Spirit Model, arguing with each other about how important energy working is in the practice of magick. Obviously, they both wouldn’t agree - ever! (Do magician’s ever agree with each other?) It would be just an exchange of two individuals talking in a different language at each other. Then Mr. Miller, ever the wise conciliator, has to chime in to show that both approaches are correct, but not absolutely so. He takes the middle path, which is not too surprising, considering the influence of Tibetan Buddhism in his spiritual and magickal perspective. 

Not to be outdone, Balthazar disparagingly (but respectfully) piles on with the fact that most forms of modern magick and occultism are the product of massive cultural appropriation and western imperialism. Balthazar is correct in saying that the Energy Model of magick is a recent addition to the collection of practices that make up some forms of the Western tradition of magick, although the Energy Model itself is quite ancient, such as with concepts like Chi or Mana, both of which are not western. The western energy model appears to use a metaphor of electricity to define and develop that particular theme in the practice of magick.

However, Balthazar appears to miss a major point that all forms of magick in the world are the product of cultural or religious appropriation, and that it is human nature to borrow ideas and concepts, often completely out of context, and use them in new and different ways. So, yes, we are all pirates at various points of our magickal career, and especially so were the founders of the various traditions of magick! Sometimes that process works to produce some very interesting results, other times it appears to be contrived and ridiculous. Yet it doesn’t matter whether one is a member of the “dominator” culture or part of the third world, human beings copy each other and exchange and spread ideas much more rapidly than any other kind of actual cultural change, whether due to internal or external forces. In the age of the internet and the world wide web, that process of exchange is happening at an even faster pace. After all, we are just hominids, so you know, monkey see, monkey do! Do we condemn that practice, or just examine the lore of a given tradition and judge it for its effectiveness? I’ll let you be the judge of that particular question.

Anyway, I suspect that this discussion will go back and forth for the next few days. So grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy the heated but respectful exchange. It’s doubtful that any of them will actually get nasty, call each other names and engage in ad hominem attacks, but you never know. 

Moving back to the topic at hand, I also answered a series of questions for an online text interview for Pantheacon. It would appear that many of the presenters are given this opportunity to share their ideas with the Pantheacon attendees. You can find the web site with all of the interviews here, but I don’t know if you have to register and create a logon account to access them or not. Anyway, give it shot - if it’s open to the general public, then you will find all sorts of interviews with some very remarkable individuals.

I am going to attempt to write a short article for each day that I am at Pantheacon, to describe some of the presentations that I will be witnessing and give you an idea of what it’s like to hang out with over 3,000 pagans of every sort imaginable. It will be crowded at times, but definitely not at all boring.

Here is the interview. Included in this interview are the questions that the Pantheacon staff wrote up, and my answers. These questions may reflect some of the things that you might have wanted to know as well, so I thought that it would be a good idea to include the interview here.

What are you presenting this year?

This is the third Pantheacon that I have attended in the last three years, and I am really looking forward to it. I am presenting two workshops this year, and both of them are occurring on Friday, February 18, the first day of the convention. The first workshop will be held at 1:30 pm in the Santa Clara room, it’s called “Key to Evocation: Zodiacal Decans,” and the second workshop will be held at 7:00 pm, again, in the Santa Clara room, it’s called “Lunar Magick.” I will briefly discuss both workshops.

Key to Evocation: Zodiacal Decans:

We will examine various source documents to show a strong case that the astrological decans are the key to organizing and giving meaning to the spirits lists of the angels of the ha-Shemhamphorash and the daemons of the Goetia.

We will look at the definitions of the 36 decans and how they relate to the quinarians, as well as discuss the methodologies of performing invocations and evocations through a structured matrix of definitions. It is my opinion that taking such path will allow the magician to both control what is conjured as well as understand the implications of that action.

Lunar Magick:

We will look at the phenomena of the Moon from a scientific and occultic perspective to examine how the Lunar phases affect the workings of ritual magick, and how we can incorporate the Lunar Mysteries into our liturgical workings. The moon is both a clock for active magickal workings and an core object of our liturgical mysteries.

The object of this workshop to understand the phases, to know the timing of practical magick and how to write a lunar mystery working. (A layout of a lunar mystery working is in the handout.)

We will be examining the factors associated with timing, not with how to either work magick or perform lunar based liturgies.

Is there anything you're excited about attending at PantheaCon?

I am most excited by the introduction to the national pagan and witchcraft community of two individuals who have traveled from Italy to share with us their knowledge and lore of European Stregheria. I am, of course, referring to the arch high priestess, Diana, and her husband, arch high priest Dianus, of the del Bosco Sacro of Benevento Stregan family. I think that this is quite an amazing occurrence! It is certainly historic and unprecedented.

Their first presentation will be at 9:00 AM Saturday morning in the large Fir room, and it is called “The Great Rite and the True Sabbat.” The second presentation that Diana and Dianus is giving will be on Sunday at 1:30 pm in the Fir room, and it is called “Stregan Invocation of Our Pre-pagan Shamanic Roots.” Both Diana and Dianus are not fluent yet in English, so they will be assisted by their translator, Lupercus, who is known to many occultists on the west coast as David Griffin.

I hope that many people will attend these two incredible presentations, since I will most certainly be there as well.

How do you feel ritual magic needs to be modernized?

That’s a pretty tough subject to discuss in only a few words, but let me give it a shot. First off, I differentiate between ritual magick and ceremonial magick. As a witch and a pagan, I work my magick within a boundary that holds things within it, and does not act as a barrier between myself and the spiritual domains. Secondly, I perform all of my magick in the guise of a godhead assumption, so whatever differences and variations occur in the rite, they are done through the aegis of my personal aspect of the Godhead. (Christian ceremonialists wouldn’t even think of assuming their Godhead, since for them there is too much distance and difference between them.) I think that ritual magick, which uses a very modern pagan perspective, is already quite modern. Ceremonial magick, on the other hand, requires a high degree of orthodox piety in order to prepare the operator for invocation or evocation in the classical definition of that procedure.

To a witch or a pagan, there is often little difference between practicing liturgies and practicing magick, they are even sometimes one and the same. A ceremonial magician, on the other hand, has to engage in liturgy, prayer and contemplation outside of magick in order to maintain the correct degree of piety.

Then there is the issue of whether or not to use the old grimoires in one’s magick, and that can take two different approaches. I was fortunate enough to be able to create a system of magick that can do pretty much everything that the old grimoires claim to do, such as make talismans, project elemental forces, invoke and evoke various spirits. What I use is modern and part of the combined traditions of the Golden Dawn and British Traditional Witchcraft. If I use any of the material from the old grimoires, it’s to decorate my personal magick with archaic components - a kind of post modern approach to magick. Others have decided that the old grimoires are the end all and be all of high magick, and they are wedded to them in a manner that I find incompatible with my own magick.

You've studied multiple types of occultism, how do you find they combine?

Whatever I do, I am first and foremost a Witch and a Pagan. The core of my beliefs and practices are steeped in modern paganism. What I look for, and what I have looked for, are occult systems that are compatible with my pagan outlook and beliefs. Qabalah is something that I work with, but mostly in a Neopythagorean and Neoplatonic manner, since I don’t relate well to Talmudic or Christian theological tropes. Astrology is essential to me because it tells us when to do magick - the timing. I am rather interested and fascinated with Hindu forms of Tantra and Sacred Sexuality, since there is a lot less material in the West that I can draw on. Yet it is the practice and perfection of ritual magick that really concerns me, and my ultimate goal is to experience conscious union with my Godhead, to be illuminated and enlightened. In that fashion, I am also like a lot of mystics and other religious devotees.

Tell us about the E.S.S.G.

The E.S.S.G. stands for Egregore Sancta Stella Gnostica, which is translated as the Egregore or Group Mind of the Sacred Stellar Gnosis. This is a magickal order or organization that is dedicated to the practice of ritual magick for the obtainment of Gnosis (spiritual wisdom), and that the emphasis of the empowerment and enrichment of the individual greatly aids in the development and evolution of the group. We call this organization, the Order of the Gnostic Star.

Unlike every other magickal order, this group consists of autonomous temples that are internally self determined through the power of consensus, producing a kind of group that I call a “Star Group.” Each and every member is important and considered an integral part of the whole organization, so that no one person has the right or even the ability to dominate or rule over others. Some people hate consensus, but I think that it is highly important for any mature group of spiritual seekers. There is no grand lodge, no autocratic leaders, and the hierarchy of each group is rotated annually. Group leaders have all of the responsibility and zero authority, which is vested in the group as a whole. Leaders in this organization are really just facilitators. So what these temples are practicing is a form of spiritual egalitarianism, which I consider to be essential for unfettered individual growth and balanced interpersonal relations.

The organization is nominally pagan and uses the Grail as it’s focal symbol. I suspect that pagans and witches would find this order to be quite comfortable for them, as well as Thelemites and even occultic Christians and Jews. Since each temple is autonomous, the temple group determines by consensus its spiritual and magickal direction, spiritual perspective and group religious practices.

At this time, there are over a hundred different rituals and rites, documents and other material that are part of the order’s lore. There are also seven degrees fully documented and organized by ordeals. (We believe in initiation and elevation by individual work and merit - the group decides by consensus who is to be elevated and when.)

Individuals can form a working group of five members and petition me for the materials to begin forming their own temple. If that’s not possible, then individuals can seek and gain an affiliate membership and work as a solitaire practitioner, although the order’s bylaws do specify a preference for working magick in a group. Joining the order requires no fees or dues, since this is an issue that must be determined through consensus by the group. Otherwise, I typically offer this lore at no charge to individuals who have shown themselves to be interested and capable of doing the work.

The Order of the Gnostic Star was started in 1988 in Kansas City, and had several years of growth, spawning one or two groups off of the mother temple. It became dormant through the latter period of the 1990's and the first decade of the 2000's. I am happy to report that there is now a new temple in Southeastern Massachusetts, and the mother temple is undergoing a resurgence and rebirth in Kansas City.

You can find more information about the Order of the Gnostic Star at the website here, which was assembled for various interested individuals.

What new projects are you working on?
I have four books in print right now, and I am in the process of writing four more, and they are in various stages of development. I am seeking to publish the basic lore for the Order of the Gnostic Star, and I also want to start writing occult and pagan fiction stories. I am also developing a battery of lectures and workshops that I intend to present to individuals who want to approach performing high magick from their Wiccan roots. Besides all of this, I am also working my own form of ritual magick, reading and research, as well as pursuing my career and having a quality relationship with my Significant Other.

Frater Barrabbas


  1. Looking forward to your talks, Frater! See you at Pantheacon=)

  2. When I want something to go "live" when I know that I am not going to be available, I use the scheduling option.

    As to the question of "why am I linking to people who don't link to me" I have kicked it around also. I have yet to figure out a satisfactory answer.

  3. It was a pleasure to meet you at Pantheacon and attend your classes on the Decans and Lunar Magick!!!