Saturday, November 11, 2023

New Orleans and the Autumn People

I just got back from my six day visit to New Orleans, and I am still feeling the effects of that visit. NOLA is a very magical place, and it has captured my heart in ways that I would not have expected. After walking many hours through the French Quarter, listening to wonderful Blues and Jazz music, saw the grave of Marie Leveau and toured the grave yard, and explored several occult bookstores all within walking distance from each other, I can say that I am quite enchanted.

No other city that I have ever visited pridefully advertised itself as the locale of Voodoo and Witchcraft. Not to mention that it is a place where you can find and satisfy nearly any vice imaginable, whether legal or illegal. It is a place frequented by witches, sorcerers, voodoo practitioners, vampires, werewolves, the rich, the famous, tourists from nearly everywhere, and the poor and the homeless, too.

There is a superficiality promoted to the tourists and visitors, and there is a darker underground where resides the real practitioners of the forbidden arts. The food is astonishingly good everywhere, from cheap sidewalk vendors to expensive upper-class restaurants. And everywhere is an overflowing abundance of mixed drinks, from tailored and timeless Sazerac and Absinthe, to disgustingly sweet daiquiris. There are plenty of people getting alcoholized at all times of the day and night.

While fundamentalist Christians would be horrified at the excesses and dark reputation of the Big Easy, I found it completely charming and even beguiling. It was an insightful experience for me, and I feel as if I have found a second home. A Witch walking the streets of the French Quarter is almost as ubiquitous as a Muslim walking the streets of Cairo. Or at least that is how it felt to me. I saw lots of people dressed up in Goth clothing, with obvious occult tattoo subjects inked on their bodies, talking about their latest Tarot card reading or the book of spells that they are reading. These were also local folk, with some tourists gawking at them as if they were some kind of exotic and weird species of hominid.

Two of my favorite stores were the Esoterica Occult Goods and Sassy Magick. We looked over the premier Witch store Hexe, but I found that it was blatantly pimping its owner, Christian Day, and his forgettable book on Necromancy. We are talking about two sets of shelves, from floor to ceiling containing just copies of his book. Another set of shelves had the book written by his lover about beginning Witchcraft. I found that presentation to be a sad example of an over stuffed ego versus a genuine desire to promote many writers and perspectives. He could have had a small table with his books and those of his lover, but multiple shelves? Anyway, Esoterica was a very friendly place without the hype of Hexe, with lots of interesting books and products. The same could be said of Sassy Magick, which now has two stores within blocks of each other. I would recommend these stores, but not so much the over hyped Hexe.


While strolling around the French Quarter, I saw a number of really beautiful buildings decorated in the old classic style, upper story galleries with wrought iron railings, shuttered doors, and occasional glimpses at garden courtyards adorned with flowers, pools and fountains. This is where old wealth lived and congregated. I had an impression of being in one of these courtyards with a select group of people, performing a magical conjuration, with dim gas lights and candles illuminating a sequestered domain in the dark of the night. It was a brief vision, and I don’t know if it is based on some premonition, or just my fanciful imagination. Perhaps if I returned some day and spend some time in New Orleans, I might just discover this to be a premonition instead of just a day-dream. Needless to say, the book store owners informed me that my books were so popular that they couldn’t keep them on the shelves, especially the book “Spirit Conjuring for Witches,” but the others were popular as well. I didn’t have time to meet anyone for any length of time, but I intend on going back next year and making some further connections there. It seem like a welcoming place for me to explore. 


New Orleans is a tourist town and is geared to promoting memes and themes that help draw in visitors from all over the world. There are lots of events, venues, hotels, eating and drinking establishments, live entertainment of every stripe, and many locations that hearken back to a more French provincial colony kind of existence, a veritable window into a time long past. That past, while seemingly picturesque and charming to today’s visitors represented a time of inequality, slavery, persecution, exploitation, and the illicit mixing of races, religions and cultures. There were dark places and times in those days where unspeakable cruelty reigned all the while the class system was white-washed with Catholic morality and white race superiority. While slavery has disappeared, inequality has grown over the decades, and now there is once again a servant class serving the needs of the well healed along with the neglected and dispossessed homeless who are abundantly seen throughout the town. New Orleans has its superficial charm that is consumed by the tourists, and it has a dark underworld of predation and despair.

Ray Bradbury described what he called the Autumn People in his book “Something Wicked Comes This Way” and I think that it brilliantly applies to my perceptions of New Orleans. How curious it is that I visited this town in the “autumn.”

For these beings, fall is ever the normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth....Such are the autumn people.

At the very bottom of New Orleans, striving up from the crumbling above-ground cemeteries to the gritty taverns, gentlemen’s clubs, seedy bars, and secret gathering places of predators, sorcerers, witches, pagans, vampires, despoiled Christians, drug addled or drunken victims and the vagrant and pathetic, filthy homeless, are the autumn people who quietly lurk and inhabit the town while mindless and heedless tourists flitter about them. It is a fascinating place, but despite the hype and whimsey about witchcraft, voodoo and sorcery, there is a true bedrock of practitioners and cultists living invisibly amongst the visible tourist traps and party atmosphere. That is the New Orleans that I love and seek to know better in the future. It may be in my autumn years that I have discovered this wondrous place, but perhaps I may have some adventures there in the future. Only time will tell.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Path of Future Literary Works


This year, 2023, has been a banner year for me regarding writing and publishing books. By next August all five books of the “For Witches” series will be in print, and I will also have a beginner’s book published as well (“Mastering the Art of Witchcraft”). Additionally, my publisher has signed contracts with me to republish my first two books, “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magic” and “Mastering the Art of Ritual Magic” and these will be back in print sometime next year. I also submitted the manuscript for my first grimoire, entitled “Liber Nephilim” and that book will begin the editing process next month. I expect that book to be in print before the year is out for 2024. In the list of these books is also one my crowning achievements, the Llewellyn title “Magical Qabalah for Beginners” - a book that is not really for beginners. By the time of the Winter Solstice, I will have ten books in print, four with Llewellyn, and six with Crossed Crows Books. That is an accomplishment that I thought would never occur, but it will soon be a reality. I also realize that what I have accomplished took a lot of time, research, writing, editing, revisions, and a lot of effort. I started writing my books in 2006, so that is an investment of 17 years.

Meanwhile, those who have been reading my blog for the last several years know that I have a lot more ritual lore and material than what I have written to date, and it will be at last time to begin to assemble that material into manuscripts, and from there, hopefully, into published books. I suspect that my current publisher will want to publish some of these ideas, but others I may have to self-publish, and I will do that so that all of this lore is made available to my reading public.

Since I have covered all of the lore, rituals and ceremonies associated with the basic and intermediate stages of the development of a pagan or witch who also is a practicing ritual magician that part of my work is completed. All of these books, except Liber Nephilim, represent what I believe someone needs to know in order to function as an intermediate to advanced ritual magician. Liber Nephilim is the first step of what I consider to be my more advanced ritual and magical lore. It is the first of its kind from my hand, but it represents only the first of nine additional books that I can assemble and write into publishable manuscripts. I have been practicing magic since I was a teenager, and the period of the 1980's through 2012, a period of over thirty years, was spent developing several advanced systems of ritual magic. Now that I am getting old and in the autumn years of my life, it becomes important for me to be able to publish the rest of this material so that others can possess and make use of it. It will be my legacy to the Wiccan and Pagan ritual magicians of my day, and perhaps it might find utility with others over the decades past the time when I am just an obscure footnote in history.

What I would like to do is to outline these future books so that you might apprise them and perhaps even make your opinion known to me through a message or an email. I haven’t actually decided on the order of the book projects, so you could also tell me your preference, and if enough people want a certain book project to be published sooner than later, I will take that under advisement.

Here is my list of eight projects that I would like to develop and publish as books for my magical colleagues to ponder and consider. I will seek to get them into manuscript form in the next three years or so and seek to have them published. I am hoping that by 2027, all of these books will be in print and available to whoever wants them. I am also hoping that this ambition on my part will at least get my ritual magician colleagues to examine and perhaps even attempt to adapt and perform some of these more advanced ordeals. That is my hope, but just helping to advance the ritual technology of western magic would be most satisfying.  

Abramelin Lunar Ordeal - I have always admired the Abramelin Ordeal, which is a severe meditative and liturgical based working that lasts from either one year or 18 months, depending on the version followed. It requires complete sequestration for a period of either one to three months, and that means that the adherent must retire from the world for that period of time. The ordeal consists of long periods of prayer and meditation, and requires a prepared room with a sand floor, casement windows, and other strict practices. All of these practices are performed with the singular purpose to invoke and manifest one’s Holy Guardian Angel. While I was intrigued with the outcome, the process seemed nearly impossible for me to consider because I had to work a regular job and couldn’t take the time off to properly perform it.

However, as a Witch and one who is more oriented to the moon, I was able to develop a lunar-based ordeal that lasted only 1.5 lunar cycles or around 40 days. Because the period was so abbreviated, I had determined that the time allotment needed to be filled with intense magical activity. So, the first four weekends were spent fully invoking the four Seraphim and the four Cherubim combined, which I considered to be super-archangels. Then, merging these eight powerful angels into a matrix, I summoned their godhead equivalents for each of the four elements, and fused them together into a powerful vortex with a triple tetrahedral gate structure. Upon this magical edifice, I performed the Bornless or Headless rite, revised with the four Qabalistic Worlds arranged as a step pyramid, where a revised invocation of my personal godhead was performed.

I had gone back to the PGM and extracted additional magical workings to go with the Bornless or Headless invocation rite, and added a magical ring consecration rite, assumption of great powers and an envisioning rite. The final working was the Alchemical Hierogamy Rite of Union, a magical rite based on the Rosicrucian alchemical wedding of Christian Rosencruetz.  All of these rituals were assembled to be part of what I have named the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal, and I performed them in 2009. It was an amazing ordeal, and it unlocked for me the mysterious magic squares found in the Book of Abramelin the Mage. While this ordeal can be worked in place of the traditional ordeal, it will undoubtedly produce different results, although the overall purpose and outcome are similar. I have articles, diary entries and the rituals already assembled into a folder. All I need to do is to pull it together into a manuscript with revisions, annotations and explanations. I believe that I could put together a manuscript in a couple of months, since most of the work is already done.

Liber Nephilim Additum - I have already submitted the manuscript for Liber Nephilim, but in writing this book, I left a lot of ritual lore out of this edition because it would have made the book too large and unwieldy. What was left out was the Enochian Ordeal of the 49 Bonarum, where I invoked seven of the Bonarum and pulled them together into a vortex to invoke the 8th, which was Camara, in a ritual named the Septagramic Vortex Gate ritual. That whole part of the Enochian ordeal was not included in the first book. Then there is the Enochian Mystery Vortex, mentioned several times but excluded from the first book. Additionally, there were the invocations of Seth and Enoch, the evocations of Ramat’el, Turiel, and Samael as Shaitan, and their associated diaries. This book would provide all of the material that was developed, used, and explored in the overall Nephilim working. I believe that providing this additional set of ritual lore and discussions about the Bonarum as the binary planetary intelligences, and how to invoke them and their overall psychological impact. Assembling and writing this manuscript would take only around three months, so it would also represent a task of refining and revising the ritual lore omitted from the first book. Both books together would supply the complete set of ritual lore to perform and replicate the Nephilim working.

These two books would represent my submissions for 2024, although there a more possibilities sitting around on my hard drive from workings that I have done previously.  

Talismanic Portae Lucis working: After developing and performing the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal, I became acquainted with a magical ordeal and process that quite intrigued me. I am referring, of course, to the writings and teaching of the late Jean Dubuis, who was a French occultist, alchemist and magician. His system of magic combined spagyric forms of alchemy with astrological magic and the Qabalah. A central magical operation within Mr. Dubuis’ occult system was a process whereby a person could achieve a direct connection and report with powers and intelligences of the Supernal Triad. He called this the Experience of Eternity, and it was a necessary step for a magician to achieve the proper connection and linkage with his or her higher self. It seemed like a logical step from gaining the knowledge and conversation with one’s Holy Guardian Angel.

I studied his ordeal named “Portae Lucis” and discovered that I could replicate this ordeal using revised lore for working talismanic magic that I already possessed. His various practices and the use of spagyric alchemy seemed of lesser importance when compared to the crafting of powerful talismans that would represent the charged empowered representations of the Qabalistic Sephiroth of Yesod (Moon), Tiphareth (Sun) and Binah (Saturn) representing the pathway of the gateway of light to the supernal triad. What I proposed to do instead of the passive talismanic workings and the various ancillary practices, including the creation of spygyric alchemical medicines, was to forge these talismans with each of the four element configurations of a specific planetary talismanic elemental spirit, using a metallic talisman associated with the planet. Each planetary talisman would thus contain each of the four elements of four specific talismanic elementals, thereby supercharging them as tools in building the gateway of light. In addition, I also generated a fourth talisman of Mercury to represent myself and the magical (Hermetic) process that I was seeking to manifest.

After generating these four super-charged talismans, according to the rites and time-line of the lunar mansions, I was prepared to perform the final working on the auspicious hour of the sun on the day of the Summer Solstice, when the light had achieved its maximum power. The working produced extraordinary results, and it was very successful, showing that a magical idea or ordeal concept can be developed in a number of different ways. It was an amazing ordeal, and one that I documented in my magical diaries. While some in the occult community were surprised and pleased with my approach, the traditionalists fiercely condemned and discounted the working. Later on, I managed to generate the three remaining super-charged metallic talismans and then built a magical machine that could produce any amount of material manifestations for me, and it has served me quite well during the years since I produced them.

All of the ritual lore, documentation and diaries for this working, and the extended workings covering the three additional talismans, and the creation of a magical machine would be part of this book. It would require me to assemble this material, revising and editing it, and produce a manuscript, but I believe that it would take only four months to complete this book project. I think that the occult community would find my approach to this working to be clear, modern and succinct. I would stipulate that it would not produced the exact results that the original ordeal would produce, but it would still be representative because it seeks to achieve the same results overall.

Other book projects that I am contemplating would represent workings that I developed and performed decades ago. They are still quite relevant today, and they represent the advanced workings and lore of the magical order that I helped to found. The advanced workings were completely my invention, and they were brought into the workings of the order because they had been developed in the 1980's and 1990's, and into the early 2000's.

Ordeal XV - the workings of the Gnostic Tetrasacramentary, consisting of the liturgical and magical workings of Thelema, Agape, Eros and Thanatos. These rites would include the specific Gnostic Mass with Benediction exerps, a Gnostic seasonal calendar, evocation rites of the specific Gnostic Avatar, and then the set of four rites of the Tabernacle of Sothis and the associated Black Rite. Other rites of sacramentation would include baptism, marriage, requiem, confirmation and holy orders. These rites would represent the complete set of workings associated with the four different Gnostic systems of religious magic.  This Ordeal is thus named because of the joining of the octagram and the septagram to generate a spiritual being able to represent a system of Gnosis, thereby becoming its avatar. It is also the number of the tarot card The Devil, which represents the powers associated with initiation. A performance all four of these sets of workings would fully activate their own gnostic magical powers to manifest these philosophies and their visionary impact into the material world. These are the liturgical and magical workings of a true Gnostic Priest or Priestess.

Art and Practice of Archaeomancy - this is a system that I developed over twenty years ago, but it represents the very cutting edge of magical workings.

The word Archaeomancy is one that I coined in the obscure magickal fellowship of the Order of the Gnostic Star and means the “magick of the source” (ἀρχή - arche - principle, origin; and - μαντεία - manteia - prophetic power). The art of Archeomancy is defined as the magical ritual method of exploring the Qabalist Inner Planes. These Inner Planes have many various definitions. Because of this difference, there are two methodologies that I developed. The first is the Archaeomancy of the 40 Qabalistic Worlds, where the inner planes are defined as the ten Sephiroth of the Qabalah, as superimposed through the four Qabalistic worlds. The combination of the Qabalistic Pyramid of Power and Enneagram Invocation rite combined with a double gateway would allow one to freely pass into the Qabalistic Inner Plane domain to gain visions, insights and to accrue and manifest its powers into the material world.

The second is the Archaeomancy of the eighteen Qabalistic Dimensions. The dimensions are the triangular shapes that exist in the Tree of Life structure that are outlined by the Sephiroth and the pathways. In addition, the Enochian ordeal workings defined the angular vectors of the paths and Sephirah as being the locations where the Aethyrs resided, where instead of 30, there were 56. These triangular dimensions were interior spaces in the Tree of Life that held profound transformative powers. I managed to develop the ritual lore to enter into two of the lowest of these dimensions, and my experiences were extremely profound. The inner and most secret teachings of the spiritual Qabalah are to be found in the dimensions, and entering one of them allows the wisdom of them all to be revealed. What I experienced so inexplicable that I can hardly describe them here, but for a Qabalistic magician, these workings represent the very height of what might be realized.

Both systems of magic were described and developed from the Enochian ordeals that I performed in the early 1990's associated with my Nephilim workings. I have diary notes and details to back up the event of these workings. All of this lore, documentation and some diary entries would be included in the manuscript that I would pull together.

Two other ordeals that I developed and performed during the late 1980's and then the late 1990's were the Ordeal of the Four Gnostic Temples, and the Ordeal of the Stellar Seven-Rayed Gnosis. These ordeals represent the ritualized challenges of self-initiation by ordeal of the Sixth and Seventh Degrees, respectively.

The Four Temples, or Tessarenoi, were performed to generate a living particle from the four-fold vortex spinning black-hole gateway opening into four different universes based on the tetrasacramentary in Ordeal XV. Each of these particles represented a living sacramental attribute of the godhead of a Gnostic sacramental system or universe, and could be used to powerfully sacralize material objects, and to act as a manifested source of godhead in the material world. I experienced them as alchemical stones that produce intense transmutations.

The Stellar Seven-Rayed Ordeal is the means to establishing a conduit of the fifth Gnostic sacramental system, which is symbolized by the Star, or more specifically, the Gnostic Septagram of the Seven Qabalistic Rays. Performing this rite would give the operator the ability to channel the seven sacramental virtues into the material world, transforming that individual into a fully empowered hierophant, a master of the spiritual and material worlds. These two ordeals, Four Temples and Seven-Rayed Star could also be assembled and made into manuscript books, to be published, depending on the need and desires of my reading public.

Rites and Ceremonies of the Order of the Gnostic Star - If I actually managed to get into print all of the above books, which would be a total of seven books, then I should also assemble all of the rest of the lore of the magical Order of the Gnostic Star, and publish it as well. What that would do is place into the hands of any knowledgeable and experienced occultist the ability to form their own magical lodge based on the rites and Gnostic liturgies of my magical order, without having to consult with me or anyone else. The material would be out there for anyone to use, and if someone really wanted to formally assemble a group then they could write me and get my imprimatur and recognition. Otherwise, they would be free to use this material in whatever manner they might wish, forming a group or working solitary. This lore would contain the initiations, the seasonal and lodge based ceremonies, the workings of elemental and talismanic magic, the Grail mysteries and their associated rites and ceremonies, and the overall philosophical perspective of a pagan-based Gnosis that is world affirming and nature oriented, instead of the antinomian tendencies of Gnosis in antiquity and in some circles in the present times.

A final literary endeavor would be to write up my biography. I have been writing this text for some time, but I am behind and need to catch up to the present. I am not done with my magical research and practices, so there would be more to add to it before it would be printed (I hope). I also have a biographical piece about my experiences with the Coven from Hell, or my four formative years with the Schnoebelens, who abandoned Wicca and the practice of high magic to become fundamentalist preachers. My four years in that group is an eye opener, for certain, and it was written as a response to Bill’s book “Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie”, which I found to be full of falsehoods and misrepresentations, although also revealing things about Wicca that made it seem diabolical. I posted this work in five parts on my blog, but I would like to eventually publish it.

So, that is the full set of writing and publishing that I would like to do in the next few years. I am not certain if my current publisher would be on board with all of these projects, so I might have to self-publish some of them. I feel that this work is important and should be shared with the greater occult community, so I will work towards getting it in print in some manner for the sake of posterity, and to ensure that this lore is not lost when I finally depart this world forever.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, October 7, 2023

My Life with the Gods


Klee - Diana in the Autumn Wind

I can say with little doubt that I was born a Witch, but it took me until my mid teens to actually realize what that was. What kind of child I was could be summed up with the words, overly imaginative, romantic, creative, dreamy, a loner, disconnected from reality, and somewhat hyper active. I was obviously suffering from some degree of ADHD, and that was exacerbated by living under a father who was temperamental and physically and abusive. When other kids in my class thought about who would be successful in life, I would likely have been considered nearly at the bottom of the list. What I lacked was the ability to be focused and disciplined, and I lived in my father’s fearful shadow, since getting any attention from him had highly negative consequences, both physically and mentally. I grew up believing that I was not particularly smart, but was gifted with some creative abilities, even though I took them for granted and really didn’t develop them as I should have.

As a youth, I didn’t fit in with any group and felt too different and apart from my peers. I had lucid dreams that powerfully moved me, and a yearning to find some kind of spiritual meaning to my life. I felt that religion was an internal experience that was personal and deeply significant, but I seemed to lack the ability to find out what that experience was or how to develop it. I dreamed about having unique powers, like the ability to fly, read minds or heal the sick, and I met with strange individuals who I thought were angels without wings, and skulked around locations that seemed so real to me that I felt heartbroken when I woke up to face reality. My waking world, at that time, was devoid of color, lasting happiness or joy, and growing up was so difficult, because adults seemed to live in world where dreams died and reality imposed itself in harsh and limiting ways. I didn’t seem to feel attracted to their world, but then, suddenly, the mod era dawned, to be followed by hippies and the raging counter culture. It is in that tumult that I finally saw my place in the world, or at least the direction I needed to follow. The counter culture brought wonder, joy and vibrant color into my life.

Rock music, psychedelic artwork, drugs, free love and open sexuality were highly attractive to me and my peers, not to mention a kind of renaissance culture that allowed for the exploration of nearly anything, especially old fashioned beliefs, superstitions and debunked ideas of the supernatural, which were resurrected and wrapped up with modern science, science fiction, and fantasy and made available to a spiritually starving middle class youth culture. I was part of that movement, and I was able to find an identity and develop a belief system based on whatever I was able to find that was in print and useful. I did not choose an institution or an organized religious or spiritual group. I chose some kind of imaginative Witchcraft before I really had any kind of material to help me develop my beliefs. In my dreams, I met remarkable people and what I later determined, were actually Deities. They talked to me, and I had lengthy conversations with them, although the content of those conversations were difficult to recall not long after waking, and being functionally illiterate, I didn’t write any of it down.

Revelations came to me in the form of books that helped me define what it was that I had discovered within myself. Earlier, I had scoured the public libraries and aside from historical accounts of the infamous Witch Trials and Scott’s book “Discoverie of Witchcraft” I found very little of use. That also includes the pulp books by Louise Huebner, which according to her, I couldn’t be a Witch because I was a young man. I read Gardner’s book “Witchcraft Today”, but there was very little in the book that I found useful on a practical level. It was when I acquired Lady Sheba’s “Book of Shadows” and Paul Huson’s “Mastering Witchcraft” books that I found what I was looking for, and on top of that, I was given a copy of June Johns book “King of the Witches” that helped to define myself as a Witch, and to understand what that entailed. I also collected the book “You Forever” by T. Lobsang Rampa, that was a text book for gaining psychic abilities. These books became the backbone of my nascent spiritual and magical practice.

Another thing that happened around this time was that I took a large dose of LSD-25 that literally opened the doors of the world of the psychic and visions to me in way that nothing else had previously. I also started to smoke pot and that also helped bring me into the domain of dreams and make that world fully available to me while conscious and fully awake. In the background was the music of the Beatles, Beethoven  and the Moody Blues, and an overworked and overly romantic imagination that gave birth to my magical undertakings and gave names and identities to the Deities that I had been dreaming about and talking with since I was quite young.

Because I had such a powerful imagination (and I still do to this day), I never had any issues about talking to entities and individuals that appeared in my dreams or seemed at the edge of conscious awareness. It was a gift that I later found that few others actually have, but it was born out of an extended childhood, where I retreated into my fantasies to escape the harshness and the fear produced by living in the same house as my abusive father. My father could, and often did, transform a joyous occasion into one of fear, darkness and hurt. I saw my father as a dangerous force in my life that was unpredictable and often even mentally cruel when kindly disposed towards me. In his eyes, I was a disappointing idiot, not to be given much consideration except as a subject of ridicule or a target for the threat of violence. (He did change and mellow over time, but my feelings toward never really changed, and he was hard to be around for any length of time.)

Because my father was a steadfast atheist, and made his opinions about religion quite well known, he persecuted me for my beliefs, and took pleasure in ridiculing them. That only made me more of a steadfast adherent and a rebel against what I saw as his callous and insensitive nature. I did feel deeply, and emotions were my bedrock, and I also sensed other spiritual beings than myself, and I felt the “energies” of churches, people of faith and their congregations, and I knew that my father was dead wrong. Religion was a real and living experience; I knew this because I had experienced it directly. However, to fulfill my rebelliousness and to keep in synch with nature of the times, I chose the religion and faith of Witchcraft, which I believed was the oldest surviving religion in the Western world.

So, when I was sixteen, I unwittingly began my true path within Witchcraft. As I pointed out, I had been talking to dream-based beings who were spirits and Deities for many years prior, but I took it all for granted, and because I was on an ego trip (as all young people are until the beginning of adulthood and its responsibilities), I felt that I only needed to be true to myself. I wanted god-like magical powers, but I felt that they were my due, and I was overly shy about getting religious and bowing down to any of those dream-based Deities, because I had been talking with them for years without having to assume any obligations. I knew that as a true Witch, I would need to bond with one or more of these Deities in my imaginative mind, but I put it off. Developing my psychic powers and experimenting with magic was too much fun to be spoiled by the supposed limitations imposed by some God.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the one factor in my life that made dealing with my abusive father possible was the unconditional love that I received from my mother. My father mentally abused her, and ridiculed her, but she was a real power that kept the family together and tried to heal the damage that my father had wrought on his children. I saw her as weak because she didn’t stand up to my father unless he threatened to do more than abuse us. I had dismissed her in my mind, because my father had shown her to be weak and ineffectual. However, my mother had more of an impact on me than I realized, and when it came time to directly face one of the Deities of Witchcraft in a kind of spiritual reckoning, I chose the Goddess of Witchcraft in her guise a moon godhead and mistress of magic.

I atoned for my unwillingness to subscribe to any Deity through her, and ever after, I was powerfully bonded to her in body and soul. I would enter into a simple meditative state, bow down with my head to the floor, and call her to come to me, and she always would. I felt a creeping coldness, then a warmth, and she would talk in my mind and her voice had a whispering quality that I compared to the sound of the wind blowing leaves in the street. She taught the basic framework for working a simple kind of magic, and guided me for a few years until I found a coven of Alexandrian Witches who I begged to initiate me into their practice, and they happily obliged me.

What started out as many dream-based personages and identities became a single Goddess, but from there I rediscovered a plethora of spirits, angels, demons, Gods, Goddesses, Demigods and various imaginative entities. They were always there, but I had to learn to recognize them from my dreams as a child. Once in a while I would meet something that was quite frightening in my dreams, but mostly, the conscious reality of living with my father was more than enough fearful, painful and humiliating. My dreams seemed to offer a refuge from that harsh reality, so I never really had any encounter with entities that were terrorizing or frightening. Some of them were odd, and others quite strange and even alien to me, but I always felt at home and protected in my inner world, and it is likely that my internalized impressions of my mother had something to do with this experience.

So, how do I help others to directly experience spirits and deities? First by letting them know that such experiences are not the mark of someone suffering from mental illness. That it is a real phenomenon and not one that should stigmatize someone. Then helping and guiding them to learn and then master the arts of meditation and trance. Entering into that controlled and peaceful mental world is the first step to engaging spiritual entities. Learning to sense and see magical energies (what are called etheric energy fields), and fine tune one’s sensitivity is a never ending process, which can produce astonishing results in some but not all people. I used to promote the ingesting or smoking hallucinogens, and I would still be in favor of this approach so long as it is the means to an end and not the end in itself. Opening the doors of perception can require a sledge hammer approach for some people, but others are sensitive enough not to need such an approach.

Additionally, working within sacred space and adopting a liturgical practice to one of more Deities is also important, and these beings can be engaged with divination tools so they can, in a fashion, communicate with humans. Thus, Tarot cards, I-Ching coins, runes, Geomancy sticks, pendulum, and dice or knucklebones work quite well, and ultimately, godhead assumption and communion will bring the targeted Deity into the framework of one’s conscious mind, making direct communication possible. Once that direct communication occurs, it makes it quite easy to hear and talk with other entities, as if a veil has been lifted, and so it has.

I have worked with many individuals, and they all, through persistent effort, find a way to visualize and communicate with Gods, Goddesses, Demigods, angels, demons and earth-based spirits, faeries, elementals and any other kind of bodiless entities. The key is to be open minded, and open hearted, and the rest will naturally follow.

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Will-Based Magic vs Theurgy



Goddess of Witchcraft

A while back I attended a class presented by Taylor Elwood, who has been a mentor and friend to me for many years. He was there to help me in the first stage of my literary pursuits. Taylor is also an amazingly brilliant and creative man, and has many books and other media available for those who might be interested in a very fresh and modern approach to magic. We do have in common a disdain for traditionalists and grimoire purists, and we approach magic in a creative and experimental manner. Anyway, in his class, Taylor said that will-based magic has many limitations, and by itself, can often fail more often than succeed. He discussed his own history to emphasize his point that human-centric magic is not the optimal approach to working magic. I heartily agree with this perspective, and I consider it one of the rules of magic.

However, after pondering his words, I was unable to find a time in my life except when I was a teenager just starting out in magic where this kind of rule reduced my expected outcome for any and all magic that I worked. The only successful workings that I managed to perform were with the aid and alignment to my personal Goddess, whom I saw as the Goddess of Witchcraft. I also suspect that beginners fail more often than succeed simply because they are learning about what works for them, and what doesn’t work. It is a continual sorting process that shapes all magical development, from the beginning and throughout one’s magical career.

Still, once I was initiated into Witchcraft proper back in 1976, it profoundly changed both the scope and the rate of success of my magic. It was no longer a matter of hit or miss for me, but it became apparent to me that knowing where to apply my magic and exactly when, and ensuring that I had multiple plans and did the mundane work, was I was able to achieve whatever I set out to do. The only thing that evaded me was finding a mate, but for that situation I had a profound blockage and an inability to clearly see what was internally blocking me. The spirits that I had engaged with over time continually told me what the problem was and how to resolve it, but I was unable to really comprehend and take action to make myself successful in that pursuit as well. Thus, most of my magical workings were successful except in the matter of love, and I have not had any situation where I experienced a complete failure or breakdown regarding my magic and its outcome. (Ultimately, even that issue was resolved over time.)

Listening to Taylor’s short biography and how he had to make a major paradigm shift in his magical thinking, thereby realigning his magical work to ensure a more successful outcome was fascinating, and the contrast between our two paths couldn’t be more stark. However, what Taylor talked about is something that other magicians have related during all too brief moments of personal revelation. If you are a magician, you will likely talk about your successes and achievements and omit any discussion about your failures, and for anyone practicing magic, the failures will outnumber the successes, especially in the beginning. It would appear the Thelemic creed that our true will is indomitable is an erroneous assumption, particularly if we forget that our supposed True Will might be something that is beyond or even contrary to our personal ambitions at the moment. It would seem that our True Will is more bound to our higher selves than to our petty egos. At any rate, the True Will is a misnomer that I don’t consider in any of my magical workings, as we shall see.

All of these thoughts and considerations had me pondering, since I saw a contrast between the experiences and history of what Taylor underwent and what I have experienced. What is the difference between our two paths that might make a difference between what we both experienced over the years? Additionally, we will need to differentiate between the kinds of the magic where the will would play a greater part in magical workings, and where either spirits or planetary archetypes play a greater role. Depending on the type of magic worked, the role of the magician’s will is quite different, so it cannot be either a consideration nor a stumbling block for some kinds of magic. There is also a specific kind of magic where the individual will plays no part at all, but we will get to that consideration in this discussion as well.

If I were to choose forms of magic where the magician’s will plays a critical role then I would pick the energy and information models of magic. Magical energy needs to be visualized in some manner so that it can be generated, but essentially breath and bodily movement are the drivers for that kind of magic. What is required of the magician is where they will imprint the collected and compressed energy field with their desire and then exteriorize it. Information model forms of magic are where symbols and language are manipulated, but it is the will that projects and sets the magical objective in motion. These two models rely heavily on the use of the magician’s will to set the outcome.

Additionally, the magician must also perform various mundane steps to ensure that the outcome is inescapably set, or at least as much as possible. What I have found is that the magician must also work divination both before and after the working to make certain that they have not unwittingly erected any blockages or counter aspirations that might stop or degrade the outcome. As you can see, a will-based magical operation, in order to have a chance of success, must be reduced down to the simplest expression and thoroughly examined to determine that it is clear of any other internal or external impediments or distractions. Any other derivation may prove to be fatal to the outcome of a magical working. What that means is that a will-based working must focus on a single objective at a time so that the energy or manipulated symbols or sigils will apply a more concentrated  magical effect to the overall desired outcome. This is why complex or multiple outcome magical objectives will likely fail to produce results because the energy is dispersed or the symbology is too multifaceted and ambiguous.

The spirit model of magic is not as affected by the will of the magician to set the magical objective of a working. The magician’s will is focused on the task of successfully performing the evocation, and constraining and binding the spirit. If that process is successful, then the outcome will more likely be a success than a failure. However, there are other factors that make this kind of working fraught with failure, and that revolves around the nature and quality of the spirit and the relationship between the spirit and the human operator. Questions that need to be answered in this regard are whether the spirit is the proper agent and has the capability to meet the magician’s objective, and whether the spirit is amendable to doing the work for the magician. Is their relationship on a solid and cooperative foundation? As you can see, there are quite a number of variables involved, so even successfully conjuring a spirit will not necessarily mean that the magical objective will be fulfilled.

Perhaps the least will-based kind of magic is talismanic magic. Generating a talismanic field and charging a metallic talisman artifact during an auspicious moment, not to mention the preparations, research and development needed, requires a level of discipline and consistency that a honed and empowered will can greatly ensure a successful completion. A talisman is where the magician’s objective coincides with the astrological auspices and the combination of planetary archetype and element foundation to forge a charged artifact that will send out its magic continuously as long as the magician keeps a periodic conscious connection with it. A talisman can have its target altered but not its basic qualities, and it can be given to a client to aid and assist them. It is quite versatile, however, it is completely dependent on the combination of the talismanic field, the auspices active at the time of its creation, and the kind or quality of change that it can promote. Some talismanic fields are fast acting but limited in the duration or depth of the change, and others are slow but produce long-lasting changes. The greatest variables are to be found in the natal chart of the operator, since generating a talismanic field cannot overcome aspects and attributes found in the baseline of one’s personality, as determined by the natal chart. Overall, talismanic magic is least reliant on the magician’s will, but it has other, more complex, considerations that must be tackled to ensure success.

That leaves us with few other magical methodologies to consider, but one that has dominated my magical life is the question of the role that Deities, the Higher Self and one’s initiatory “process” plays in the working of magic. Since I was initiated a many years in the past, nearly 50 years ago, I have operated as a Witch under the alignment and in an intimate association with the Deities of my craft, most specifically, the Goddess of Witchcraft. However I have view her, she has been with me since even before I was initiated, but became dominant when I was initiated. That means that every magical working that I have performed since I was initiated was through and within her. She has been my most powerful authority, guide, teacher, law-giver, arbiter, and my principal intercession between the world of spirit and myself.

Additionally, there is my Higher Self, or the God Within, that I have invoked numerous times through the use of variations of the Bornless or Headless One Rite. Whenever I work magic, I do it under the godhead assumption of my internal Deity, so my magical workings are empowered by this singular connection. Since I was initiated many years ago, I have discovered that there is an interactive magical “process” that has been strategically engaged with me while I have endured the fortunes and failures of my mundane and magical life. That initiatory process has ensured that my life’s path has help and assistance so that I will ultimately achieve my overall purpose and directive in life. Sometimes that direction is a mystery to me, other times it is briefly revealed to me in a breath-taking manner. I have faith that my life’s path will not lead to disaster and that there is always a path that can help me mitigate any crisis that I have encountered.  The combination of my Higher Self God-Within and my initiatory process has kept me from encountering a disaster or experiencing complete failure.

How I would define this particular magical and spiritual path that I am progressing through is that it is based on theurgy, or God Work. I am never performing any kind of magic or liturgy without the engagement or intercession of my Deity, both within me and without me. While I may desire, seek and attempt to will something, my work will be for nought unless the Deity is brought into the working. Actually, I would never perform any working without that engagement and connection since it is part of my magical practice. As a Witch practicing theurgy, what I personally will in regards to magic has to be in alignment with my Deity or I won’t make the attempt. I determine the will of the Gods through a more sacred and formal practice of divination, where they are involved in the revelation of what is or what will be. I am also operating in my daily life with an array of talismanic artifacts with all 28 of the Talismanic Elementals actively set, so I can direct magical energy to given direction whenever I might need it. While I am not wealthy, I am comfortably well-off, and so far, my life has qualities that lend to my subjective definition as being ‘charmed.”

So, it would seem that of all of the systems of the magic, theurgy has very little will-based attributes, since the operator has, for the most part, surrendered themselves to the will of the Deity. There is no need to strictly control everything (and everyone), and there is a still-point when my mind and the Deity merge together briefly at the height of a godhead assumption. There is also the requirement for periodic and regular liturgical practices that ensure I am always engaged, aligned and connected to the Deity. This is not a process where the magic is performed once with the optimistic hope that it will produce the desired results. Like talismanic magic, it is a cyclic, periodic and continual process, and it fully objectifies the inward godhead connection into the outer material world. That is the premise of God Work, and it is a methodology that I have used for nearly my entire magical career. I am a Witch, ritual magician, and my magic is theurgic in nature. Since the Deity is involved in this work, the only will that is present is the will of that godhead, both within me and without me. My own will is merely aligned to that greater will, and my magic has been much more successful because of it.

I don’t know a lot about Taylor’s biography, or how other magicians have approached this issue, but I do know that the will of the individual has some severe limitations in regards to will-based magic. Perhaps initiation into a pagan magical tradition might help overcome that limitation, or individuals can learn to modify their approach, just as Taylor has done to create an entirely new paradigm for their magical work. However, I do know that my petty will was sacrificed to the Goddess decades ago, and whenever I have attempted to unwisely to resurrect and wield it, whatever I think I am doing has amounted to a lot of nothing. Fighting against the Gods when you are supposed to be their arbiter in this world is a fruitless exercise, and one that court trouble and spiritual disharmony. Divination is the key to knowing the Will of the Gods; it is to that process of divination and what it reveals to me that I adopt as my unerring directions and guidance in life. Of course, I also talk to the Gods and they talk back, but that is another topic for another time.

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Godhead Assumption and Sacramental Magic


As Witches and Pagans, our beliefs and practices have established a practical theology that proposes an immanent and intimate encounter and engagement with Deity. While monotheistic traditions had adopted a theology that proposed that Deity was both transcendental and immanent, in practice they established a Deity that was purely transcendental. This is why Islam and Judaism held forth sanctified individuals who acted as intermediaries for their Godhead (i.e., prophets, high priests or sheikhs), and why Christianity established a Son of God that was both flesh and blood, mortal and also one with the transcendental Deity. A transcendental Godhead is remote, segregated from material life and outside of creation altogether. This, of course, is a fundamental difference between modern Witchcraft and Paganism and monotheistic faiths, since our deities are a part of creation and also participate in the material world and our mortality. Witchcraft and Pagan Deities are accessible, immanent, and intimate to us as we worship them. Therefore, we have a right and a privilege to access them, and to engage, and assume, briefly, their god-like nature into our humanity.

I know that in my past years of functioning as a Witch that the tradition has reserved the godhead assumption to that elect group of initiates known as high priestesses and high priests. However, we should understand that there is no barrier between even the least experienced of us and the Goddesses and Gods that we worship. The role of vested and permanent intermediary in our faith is one that is false and borrowed from Christian sacerdotalism, so it must be stated that the titles of high priestess and high priest are both somewhat arrogant and likely misleading. In point of fact, we are all priestesses and priests of the Deities that we worship.

We don’t need unelected leaders and intermediaries in our faith and religious practices to block us from the true relationship between our Deities and ourselves, since we are gifted and privileged with direct access to our Goddesses and Gods. If someone leads a ritual, performs an exclusive drawing down, or lives their life as one who personifies and functions as a terrestrial representative of the Gods, then they do so with our affirmation, honor, and engagement. We know that such roles are assumed by us to worship and honor the Gods and they are not done for selfish and egotistic reasons. Some of us are gifted as role-playing leaders in our ceremonial rites, and some of us have mastered the art of godhead assumption or live as mortal representatives of the Gods, but only in service to the Deities, and such roles are brief or limited by human weakness and mortality.

There should never be any kind of assumption of personal power or assumed authority when it comes to acting as an intermediary for the Gods by an individual. This is why I believe that functioning as a group leader and also exclusively acting as an spiritual intermediary is a potential problem, and therefore, I don’t allow it for myself and I hope that it will evolve out of our praxis. Acting as an intermediary should always be a temporary role within the religious practices of a Witch or Neopagan group, and it should be separated from any kind of position of leadership.


Now that I have laid down the foundation of my thoughts on godhead assumption, I would like to progress to another associated concept and that it the generation and use of sacraments. Anything that is blessed by the Deity is considered a sacrament, particularly if it is blessed by someone acting through a godhead assumption. They will take the object in their hands, blow their breath upon it (pneuma - spirit), make a sign upon it, say words to the effect that it is now blessed, and that object is now and forever changed, becoming a sacrament associated with that Deity. Typically, sacraments consist of food and drink or lustral water, but they can also be amulets or tokens, oils or balms, perfumes, potions and medicinal concoctions.

These sacraments represent what is returned from the Deity to the worshipers, in contradistinction to the votive offerings and prayers made to it. There is a complete cycle of offerings made to the Deity by us and sacraments returned from it to us. The whole basis of generating sacraments is that it is a medium through which pagans and witches establish communion with their Deity, and in this fashion, they are continuing a methodology and practice that was found in Roman Catholic rites until recently. The difference is that pagans and witches deal directly with their Deities and experience them in a tangible and material fashion, unlike the Eucharistic rites of Catholic and Orthodox Christians, who make due with a surrogate officiant. A pious Catholic would never say that their priest had assumed the godhead of Christ, but they would say that he was acting as a mere representative for the miraculous transubstantiation ordained by their God. A godhead assumption does not even conceivably play a part in that rite, but it is a core practice in the rites of modern Paganism and Witchcraft.

So, it would seem that the central tenant in the modern practice of Paganism and Witchcraft is the ritual of godhead assumption, performed as not only a sacred communion rite, but where the practicing medium becomes for a short time the actual personification of that Deity. There is not only transubstantiation involved in the communion rite, but there is also a powerful transformation of the elected officiant who directly assumes the target covenstead Deity. However, that ritual practice and the role of priestess or priest is not delegated to a single specialized individual, but it is available to all participants. Additionally, the items that are consecrated and sacralized in the communion process can be used as magical tools and devices imbued as they are with the essence of the Deity. Not only can sacraments be used to charge and sanctify other objects, they can be used to project the power and authority of the Deity into the material world. Using sacraments in magical workings in this manner is what I call sacramental theurgy.

Individual Godhead Assumption

Godhead assumption is not limited to the drawing down rites of the covenstead Goddess or God, but a singular version of it can be used to assume a godhead for any practical and magical working. Witches can observe and experience strong and deep trance alignments with the Deity, or weaker and more conscious focused assumptions. The effect of the godhead assumption can be made more intense and deep or less intense and more conscious by establishing the baseline trance as either deep or shallow. In either situation, the connection between the Deity and practitioner is strong enough to impact the communion rite at its deepest level, or any other magical ritual working while assuming a state that allows for conscious actions and individual awareness. When I consider the methodologies that I use to perform my ritual workings, everything that I do while performing rituals is through the guise of a weak but effective godhead assumption. In this manner, all the magic that I am performing is a form of theurgy, because the gods are engaged and aligned with the ritual work that I am doing, and they are guiding and adding their power and authority to assist my goals. What that means is that my magic is, at its core, not will-based magic, since I am incorporating the Deity whose persona I have assumed and through that guise I will perform my magical working. When I work magic, then, it is the “will of the Gods” through whom I am seeking a material or spiritual objective.

While the Drawing Down rite for a goddess assumption is publicly available as is the drawing down of the god, the more basic and simpler version of this more elaborate rite is what is used by individuals to perform the godhead assumption rite. I have covered this ritual extensively in my book “Spirit Conjuring for Witches”, but I will briefly discuss it here as the nine steps for individual godhead assumption. It is assumed that the operator will have previously performed votive offerings, prayers, hymns of praise and adulation, and other liturgical tasks associated with the worship of this Deity before attempting to perform the godhead assumption. (We will cover that in the next section.)

Rite of Godhead Assumption

1. Begin with a preliminary period of meditation and trance induction. The trance state can be deep or shallow, depending on the type of godhead assumption to be worked. Once the meditation is completed, then stand fully erect, aware and awake.

2. First self-centering and ascending wave of energy. Visualize and draw the energy up from the soles of one’s feet, through the body positions, of feet, knees, crotch, heart, lips and crown and beyond in an ascending wave. Lift the arms up and look to the zenith point and beyond. Feel the body open up to the greater spiritual influences. The ascending wave is marked by a slow inhalation and body stretch from feet to crown.

3. Primary invocation to a specific Deity. Call to a specific Deity, request it to descend down into oneself. Build an image or imago of the Deity, and establish an emotional yearning and passion for union. The calling and summoning can be memorized or it can be extemporaneous, or a combination of both.

4. Second self-centering and descending wave of energy. Visualize and draw the energy down from above the crown of the head, to the crown, lips, heart, crotch, knees and feet in a descending wave. Start with the arms up raised and then draw the energy down into oneself, where the arms are swept down to one’s side and head down and looking at the feet. Feel the spiritual light enter into the body and flow down from the crown to the feet, while performing a slow exhalation.

5. Mantle of Glory - draw a cross on the body, connecting the head to the crotch, right shoulder to the left shoulder with the right hand. Place the hands palms together before the chest and feel the energy of the cross radiating on one’s body and centering in the heart.

6. Heart Gateway - with the right hand, draw a triangle on one’s body, with the points of the right breast, left breast, and the crotch. Place the hands palms together before the chest and feel one’s heart opening and filled with love. Then perform a second invocation, calling the Deity to enter into the gateway of the heart and to join with the operator. This invocative becomes more like a chant, where the operator says, over and over, “come into me, join with me, let us be one.”

7. After pausing for a short period, perform the third centering and ascending energy wave. Visualize and draw the energy up from the soles of one’s feet, through the body positions, of feet, knees, crotch, heart, lips and crown and beyond in an ascending wave. Lift the arms up and look to the zenith point and beyond. Feel the body with its assumed Deity riding up into the heavens. The ascending wave is marked by a slow inhalation and body stretch from feet to crown.

8. Connect with assumed Deity and feel the merging of both strands of consciousness into a single strand. Stand for a period until the state of mind feels stable and fully established. Once this is done, then one can perform any tasks in the guise of the Deity, especially the blessing, charging and consecrating of sacraments.

9. Once the work is completed, stand silently for a moment, and thank the Deity for its appearance, feel love and gratitude for it, and then release it from oneself. After a short period of sitting meditation, perform a ground exercise to unburden the body of excess energies and to return to fully normal consciousness.

One thing that I will make apparent to my readers is that the above ritual has an implicit pattern of invocation, constraining, binding and releasing within it. These are the hallmarks of Witchcraft magic, except that the receptacle of this work is oneself.

Votive Offerings and Deity Worship

In order to assume the godhead of a Deity, it is important to give offerings and worship to it before ever approaching the godhead assumption rite. Regarding the cycle of Deity reciprocity, it is important to begin that cycle with the offerings and worship of a votive offering. I have discussed this in previous articles, the books “Spirit Conjuring for Witches” and my latest book, “Mastering the Art of Witchcraft,” so here is what that formal liturgical pattern would look like. You will need to have written up special invocations, worshipful hymns, and have at hand the offering of candles, incense, food and drink. Focusing on one special Deity is also a good idea as long as the other Deities in the pantheon are not omitted from the general offering. If this votive offering is being made to seek a favor from the Gods, then that will be part of what is stated when the working is performed.

This rite is performed in sacred space, so the circle will be consecrated before this work commences. In addition to the prayer hymns, the officiant will also use the image descriptions and the invocation calls to each Deity, asking them to descend and bless the temple. When this rite is performed as part of a full moon esbat or solar sabbat, the officiant will present to the Deities token offerings of food and drink. Here is the pattern for this rite.

1. Perform the circle consecration and any preparation steps required for a full temple operation. Liturgical rites are best performed in sacred space.

2. Stand before a shrine or altar decorated for one’s pantheon, and light some candles. Then using the censor, incense the whole area of the altar or shrine. Then bow low before it and back away, facing the altar or shrine from a comfortable distance.

3. With arms and hands extended in the form of an entreaty, recite a memorized short hymn or prayer to each of the Deities in the pantheon. (These can be extemporized as well.)

4. Kneel and bow before the shrine or altar briefly touching the head to floor, and then rise and recite the memorized invocation for each of the Deities, including the short description to formulate an image of each one.

5. If this is a monthly full moon or a solar sabbat, then the officiant will rise and get the food and drink offering and place it on the shrine or altar. Officiant bows low before the shrine and says: I offer unto you a more fitting sacrifice of food and drink, given to you as a sign of my care, devotion, and alliance. May this offering please you and be acceptable.

6. Sit before the shrine or altar and perform the meditation session for around fifteen minutes.

7. Stand up, bow before the shrine, and address each Deity and thank them for attending your prayer session.
Meditation and prayer in the temple should be a daily practice, and votive offerings of incense and candle light can be part of a weekly practice. You can also add offerings of food and drink at least once a month or whenever a magical working is planned.

The cycle of reciprocity with the Deity will help to empower your magical workings and bring you closer to your pantheon. It consists of votive offerings, godhead assumption and sacramental communion. The rite of godhead assumption and communion can be performed once a month when the moon is full, or whenever you have need. A regular liturgical practice such as this should function as the foundation of your religious and magical endeavors. It will also ensure that you are in proper alignment with your pantheon, and with that special godhead to whom you are performing the assumption rite.

Intimate Deities and Magic

This brings us to our conclusion, and that is to discuss pulling together all of these practices to ensure that the operator is fully empowered, sacramentally aligned and capable of working magic in the guise of their Deity. What this does to the operator is to mask their individual will with that of the Gods, so that the magic that is performed is represented as the work in the material world of the Deity. Working magic while under the powerful influence of the godhead assumption will give greater power and authority to whatever magical objective one seeks to achieve.

However, there is a wrinkle to this approach to magic, and that is knowing the will of the Gods. When approaching the Deity for a favor or securing a material objective, it is important to know that such a goal is within the provenance of the Deity. Individual Deities have individualized personalities and motives, and they can be capricious and changeable. Yet, even Gods cannot make the impossible into an achievable objective, unless conditions for a “black swan” incident are met. Asking for the impossible may also be deemed impertinent, and asking for a favor that is outside the purview of their powers and qualities will meet with little success. Thus, it is always wise to divine the will of the Gods for any spiritual or magical endeavor. The use of dice or knucklebones is probably the easiest way to ask if the Gods are aligned to a specific objective, and through offerings and worship, a negative response can possibly be made into a positive one.

If an operator performs the cycle of devotion and assumption for a long enough period of time, then it is likely that they will begin to intuitively know the will of the Gods without having to perform divination. Still, it is a good idea to always to check, and so there is always a role for divination to know, at that moment, what the Gods ordain.

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Changing Fortunes and Beginners Book


The month of March certainly was a wild ride for me. Paganicon was a great experience and also one that was personally very meaningful to me. While I was exposed to a very hostile winter like Spring, I enjoyed the warmth of meeting old friends and making new ones. I met a few people who would play a key roles in my changing fortunes as a writer. Things that I had thought were reliably set turned out to be capriciously overturned. It seemed that I had been inspired while at the convention to try to write a beginner’s book on Witchcraft magic, but I had doubts that Llewellyn would want to publish such a book.

I returned to Richmond resolved to get my fourth book in the “For Witches” series, “Sacramental Theurgy for Witches” into the production with Llewellyn and fulfill my contractual obligations. Folks at the Llewellyn HQ seemed to love the print out copies of the illustrations, so I thought that everything was all set. I just needed to hear back from my acquisitions editor about any revisions or fixes that would be required for the manuscript. Little did I realize that things were about to abruptly change.

Ten days after I had returned home from the convention, and still touched by the glow of what had happened to me there, I received notification from my Llewellyn acquisitions editor that Llewellyn staff  had met in their vision meeting and decided that they didn’t want to publish my book “Sacramental Theurgy for Witches.”  They got the impression that I was trying to urge the Witchcraft community to adopt my own idiosyncratic practices and drop their tried and true ones, and I was trying to sell revised practices that they already had been using. In their opinion, this was very different from the previous three books, and they just couldn’t see any profit in publishing this book.

While it is true that I had sought to reform the basic traditional coven practice where the High Priestess ran the coven and also channeled the covenstead Deity, because I saw it as a conflict of interests and a means of giving too much power to her over the other members of the coven, the rest of the book contained nothing but new practices, many of them cutting edge for the Witchcraft community. It almost seemed as if the staff at Llewellyn was talking about another book than the one I had written. It was a surprising superficial judgement on a book that I had felt the Gods and my spirit muse inspired me to write. Llewellyn, therefore canceled my contract, which also halted the publication of any of the other books in that series.

Needless to say, I was devastated. Not only had I written that book, but another one had not even been pitched yet because I was ordered to slow-go presenting new manuscripts to Llewellyn. I would not likely be able to pitch the last book in the series, which was titled “Transformative Initiation for Witches.” Now, I had talked about these two manuscripts with friends and interested parties at the convention, and they were keen on seeing them in print. Same is true with my fan base on Face Book. Many people were looking forward to seeing these two books published. I was briefly at a loss about what course of action I should take to continue to move forward.

One thing that I want to point out is that Llewellyn is in the business of publishing books and making a profit. They have been publishing occult books for a very long time, and they are successful enough to have their own building and adjoining warehouse, and a large staff of editors, marketing folk, artists, clerks, and warehouse workers. They are a friendly group of people and I liked everyone that I met at the HQ meeting in March. Still, they are a business, and in canceling my contract, they made a business decision. I had been one of their authors for over ten years, so that is a long time for a business relationship to last. Publishing companies typically drop and add new authors at a frightening frequency, so my relationship was unique in that regard. While my acquisitions editor may have rejected my current selection of books to publish, she did not close the door on our relationship. The fact that I don’t agree with the marketing decision that Llewellyn made in regards to the books I wanted to publish doesn’t mean that I am at crossed purposes with them. It’s just business as usual. Who knows, maybe they are correct about my books, but I kind of doubt it. Only time will tell who is correct.

However, in my experience, when one door closes another always opens. In fact, I had met two really amazing men at the convention who had their own publishing company. They were at the convention to help promote one of their authors (Alaric Albertsson), and I happened to meet them just before my book signing was to start. They knew about my work and they were impressed enough to tell me that if I ever wanted to publish a book, they would be happy to talk to me about it. At the time, I felt I had obligations as an author to Llewellyn, and I was expecting to write a few more books for them in the future. Still, I chatted with them for a bit, got their business cards and said that we might consider doing business in the near future. They discussed with me the possibility of picking up the book Mastering the Art of Ritual Magic from Immanion Press and adding it to their publishing company catalog. These two gentlemen were Blake and Wycke Malliway, and their publishing company was Crossed Crow Books. I liked them a lot, but I never thought that I would be doing business with them so soon.

My shock and sadness at Llewellyn canceling my book contract was only a brief ordeal, since I reached out the very next day to Blake and asked him if he would be interested in picking up the rest of the “For Witches” series, since Llewellyn had already rejected the latest one in that series. To my surprise, Blake was immediately interested, but wanted to know why Llewellyn had canceled my contract. After reviewing the brief email that my acquisitions editor had sent me explaining the reason for the rejection, and meeting with Blake and his acquisitions editor Becca, they decided to not only pick up the last two books in the “For Witches” series, but also wanted me to write a beginner’s book as well. Just a mere five days after receiving the cancellation from Llewellyn, I had signed a contract with Crossed Crow Books to write and publish three books. So, I was quite amazed and happy with the results.

Now, as you know, I never wanted to write a beginner’s book on Witchcraft. I felt that there were a large volume of media available to the public in the form of books, web pages, YouTube lectures, ritual presentations, and a plethora of people wanting to sell tools, robes, candles, incense, perfumes, witchy garb, talismans and amulets, and other materials too numerous to mention. Yet when I perused many of these offerings in my researches, I saw that nearly all of the educational offerings were limited or incomplete in one manner or another. None of these books, lectures or presentations would prepare someone to be able to pick up my five-book series unless or until they had spent years going over this material and experimenting with it, or by chance, if they got initiated by a coven and spent a few years in that traditional organization. Indeed, there wasn’t a convenient bridge to the “For Witches” series for a beginner to cross.

So, the question proposed to me at the convention by more than a couple of individuals was if I wrote a beginners book, what should I write into a book that would get someone efficiently to the point where they could start working with the “For Witches” series of books. That was the challenge presented to me, and when I got home from the convention and was diddling around with ideas for this book, the entire table of contents for it seemed to manifest out of thin air. My muse was once again active! This occurrence happened before my contract with Llewellyn was canceled, so I was seeking a way to pitch this book to them until I had the rug pulled out from under my feet. The Malliway brothers helped me to solve this conundrum, and that is when the book “Mastering the Art of Witchcraft” or MAW for short, was born.

It seemed as if I was destined to write this book. What I wanted to do was to present both the liturgical and magical sides of Witchcraft for someone who was practicing as a solitary practitioner. That is the path that I presented in my “For Witches” series, which are magical practices that should be done by the independent Witch, whether in a coven or functioning as a solitary Witch. I also wanted to establish the basic practices, tools, meditation techniques and promote to the beginner the idea of building their own lunar and solar calendar, mapping out the full moon esbats and eight sabbats. As for the magic, a simplistic version of the energy model of magic was a good place to start, and I also threw in simple negative and positive vortex ritual patterns to use along with a slightly more complex cone of power. I also added in the basic binding rite, poppet magic rite and the rite to evoke the four elements combined within the flesh, blood and bones of the operator for an enhanced ritual of self-empowerment. These three rites had been in my Book of Shadows for decades, although they were not oath-bound material.

What I had determined is that if someone were to take this book, copy and embellish the rituals and practices written in it, and then armed with the lunar and solar calendar, practice these for a two year period, then that person would be prepared to study and use the “For Witches” series of books. In the final chapter, I included a list of books and topical areas of study that a person would need to round out and deepen their abilities and understanding. Everything that I wanted to say in this book just fell together, and writing it was almost effortless. I completed writing the book in around three weeks. That has to be a record for the amount of time it took for me to write a book, and the whole process was very inspired and magical. At 44K words, it is not a large book, but it is, in my opinion, substantive.

I also had a meeting with Crossed Crow Books staff and my manuscript “Sacrmental Theurgy for Witches” should be in print and available in February 2024. The other two books will follow, and hopefully, by the late autumn next year, all three will be in print. With the five books in the “For Witches” series in print, and this new book “Mastering the Art of Witchcraft” I will have the means of training a Witch and a practicing ritual magician from the perspective of a beginner to acclaimed mastery. I think, although I might be wrong, that no other author can make such a claim to fame. What I will need to do is put together a series of classes and maybe record them and put them on a YouTube channel. However, I also have other book writing projects that I would like to explore, such as my ideas for the book “Liber Nephilim,” which I will likely explore either later this year or early next year. I will definitely keep you posted.

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, April 2, 2023

UPG - Unverified Personal Gnosis



One of the most controversial topics in the arena of Witchcraft, Paganism, or other forms of Occultism is the consideration of unverified personal gnosis, or UPG. This term is defined as a vision, insight or paranormal experience which an individual experiences that is used to develop or support certain beliefs or practices without any corroborative evidence. Of course, such a definition would pretty much define a lot of the beliefs, theology and practices of most religions, occultism and magic. It would seem that the sources for practically everything that is spiritual or magical in the world was at some point originally based on unsupported or unverifiable allegations.

Science cannot prove most of the tenets of religion, metaphysics, spirituality or the occult, so that would be the ultimate kind of verification, and in most cases, it is unavailable. However, there are other forms of verification including the participation of groups or even communities of individuals engaged with a specific religion, metaphysical teaching, or occult tradition. A certain degree of objectivity can occur when groups of people have similar experiences while undergoing an extraordinary spiritual occurrence. Additionally, a form of verification can be derived if an experience agrees with written texts, sacred writings or agreed upon tenets or theology, particularly if that agreement is with doctrines that have an historical provenance. I believe that these kinds of verification are the only kinds that are available to Witches, Pagans, magicians and occultists. Does a particular experience, derived belief or visionary insight agree with what is written or accepted as a fact in a spiritual or magical context? If it doesn’t, then it is unverified.

Now, I am not saying that something has to be verified in order to be considered legitimate, since a profound personal experience is certainly authentic. However, because it is something that someone actually experienced, it should be accepted as a truth, but only narrowly within the context of that experience. If an experience such as this is later found to be backed up by something in print or discovered to be unknowingly shared by others then that experience can be cautiously put forward as a verified and supported experience. If it gets adopted by other practitioners then it slowly evolves into an article of accepted practice or doctrine. The reason why I am saying the words “cautiously” and “slowly” when talking about a vision, experience or insight becoming an accepted part of a practice is because it needs to be vetted by more than a few or just one individual before it can be considered verified. This is where authentic experience meets legitimacy within a given tradition or practice.

There is a balance between an idea or a vision in getting slowly accepted as opposed to taking everything at face value and assuming that it is legitimate simply because it is accompanied by a powerful emotional experience. This is a problem in our Witchcraft community, and I suspect that it is a problem in other occult and esoteric communities as well. For Witches, our creative endeavors have shaped what we are practicing, particularly because it is an underdeveloped religious and magical tradition. We need visions, inspirations, new ideas and new practices, but not just anything will work. There has to be some kind of validation process as well, whether that is by community consensus or by some kind of corroborative textual proof. However, some do not agree, and this has led to all sorts of half-baked and even crazy beliefs and practices being shared as truths around the various communities.

Examples of this kind of spurious activity abound, but I refuse to point them out and name any names. Instead I will use myself as an example. When I first started out on my magical path I had developed out of my fevered dreams a system of magic that I believed was the visionary and inspired Atlantean beliefs and practices, long forgotten but now fully realized. I have reams of barely legible writings with all of these types of simple magical operations cobbled together from various sources, primarily Egyptian with a lot of imaginings sandwiched between. It had no relation to anything that was being practiced, either at that time (1970's) or even previously in antiquity. It was based wholly on my creative inventiveness and visions that I had at the time.

I fervently believed in the veracity of this Atlantean magic, at least for a few years, until I found actual occult writings that seem much more interesting and realistic to me. The imaginary Atlantean system of magic was abandoned for the real thing. Still, I would have sworn up and down at the time that I had received these visions from a past life when I was an Atlantean high priest and magician. Looking at them now, they are laughably slim on actual useable occult lore and yet full of hyperbole and visionary excess. I quickly and quietly outgrew my obsession with Atlantis and my supposed past lives, and continued to grow and develop my personal system of magic based on sound occult lore and experimentation.

However, could you imagine what I would be like today if I had persisted in that belief and developed my magic in that vein, using my imagination and ignoring available occult lore while stealing and padding what I had with whatever seemed to work in terms of my egotistical pursuit of fame and glory in the public arena. We can laugh at that kind of characterization which would satirically manifest when considering such a crazy person and their mad quest.

Still, there are some systems of occultism, magic, magical orders and even traditions of Witchcraft that were created in this manner. Are they wrong headed? Ultimately, that depends on the people who follow such an imaginative, volatile, crazy and creative leader, since it would be up to them to revise a practically insane system into one that worked on a functional basis which managed to agree in part with what is practiced by other groups.

I believe that this is what happened when Doreen Valiente took on the task of revising Gerald Gardner’s vision of a Witchcraft tradition in the 20th century. What he had was cobbled together from various sources. What she did was give that vision a practical and inspired set of lore, accessible to many, and it was her work that actually started the witchcraft religious revival.

The whole point of having powerful and visionary experiences is that they ultimately need to be translated into intelligible and practical lore, whether that would be mythic poetry, artwork, theater, music, or ritual and occult metaphysics. Visions are part of another realm altogether, but in order to be truly useful, they need to be interpreted and grounded in the reality of doctrine and established practice. That will cause the vision to be diluted, and it will lose some of the power that it had when it was initially experienced. However, translation is the only way for high level visions and insights to be made available to others and subject to peer review.

This whole process of vision translation is a major part of the Hero’s journey. The vision that is translated is the boon made manifest for all to realize and use.  The Hero’s journey is, of course, associated with the cycle of transformative initiation, so the stage where the boon is translated into a medium intelligible to others outside of this cyclic process is the most difficult and important step in the whole process. Because this is a natural cyclic part of transformative initiation, it would seem that the process of verification and validation is built into the process of achieving a world transforming vision and then translating it into something that is recognizable and accessible to others. One could consider that all of the world’s great religions followed this pattern.

What this means is that if someone has a powerful visionary experience and they don’t bother to translate or mediate it so that it fits into the current tenets and doctrines or is accepted as valid by other practitioners, then they have not completed the most important part of having that vision in the first place. They, more or less, have failed in their quest! This is something important to consider when seeking to popularize the results of visionary experiences. In such a situation, context is important, where the beholder makes certain that others are aware of how these insights and new perspectives came about. That they were part of a visionary or paranormal experience and that they are, as of yet, unverified by either practice or doctrine. I think that such an approach is the most ethical, but it does diminish the power of the experience.

Since my days as a prophet of the Atlantean system of magic, I made an effort to let people know if something that I have discovered or insightfully experienced was derived through a visionary experience or was the product of the conversations that I have had with various spirits and Deities. Some of things that I have been told appear to be groundless or even foolish, while others have opened doors to new practical lore or new ways of thinking about a topic. Not everything that I experience within a magical operation is prophetic, profound or pure genius. Most of it is just the debris of my magical avocation, and if it is useful, it is often only useful to me. When presenting such an idea I make certain that my colleagues know my sources and whether or not such ideas are validated, or as of yet not validated. I don’t pretend that something is a fact until I discover corroborative evidence, and even then, it is still subject to peer review and possible disputation.

I believe that this is way we should all behave when we encounter powerful visionary experiences or paranormal occurrences that impart to us new perspectives and possible lore. While the emotional investment is very high, the path of translation and validating should be equally gratifying, although requiring a fair amount of time and effort. What we don’t need in the present age are hair-brained ideas, ridiculous pronouncements or practices that are based on unsubstantiated or unverified personal gnosis. I know that such experiences can be compelling, but often what we receive under such circumstances is for our own personal consideration. Not everything that we receive from the Deities is prophetic or profound, except to ourselves, and only in that moment of divine inspiration.

Frater Barrabbas