Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Infernal Tetrad and the Demonic Hierarchy

This section was taken from a chapter of an article entitled “Treatise on Angel Magick”, which is to be published at some future date. I am publishing here to go with the article on Goetic magic, since I thought that it would be very relevant.

The daemons of the grimoire called the Goetia are listed as seventy-two specific entities, and are paired with the seventy-two angels of the ha-Shem. They are also considered divided and apportioned, as are the ha-Shem angels, to the seventy-two zodiacal quinarians. The ruling hierarchy would consist of the archangels of the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the angelic rulers of the thirty-six decans. This creates a tight hierarchy where the angels and daemons form an integral whole. There is a long tradition of pairing the daemons with the angels of the ha-Shem, but this would seem to nullify another hierarchical structure, namely the Infernal Hierarchy of Hell itself.

While such a hierarchy was proposed and became part of the doctrine of the Jewish orthodoxy before the current epoch and was also subsequently mirrored in Christian and Muslim orthodoxy, in our current era such a hierarchy would require a degree of faith and dogmatism that would go against even the most basic philosophical and occult tenants of today’s post modern world. It has always been the understanding of most occultists that Satan and the hierarchy of Hell is a medieval throwback to a dualistic perspective of good and evil, where angels and daemons vie for supremacy and seek to manipulate and control the lives, and therefore, the souls of human beings.

However, in Qabbalistic lore, which represents the ground basis of practical ritual magic, the Deity represents a perfect and harmonious unity, which means that everything else is subsumed into it and an integral part of it. Nothing is outside or apart from that unity, which is to say that all things spiritual and ensouled are actually one and indivisible at the level of the Godhead. Thus there is no duality and no conflict between good and evil except in the material world of humanity. We could even say that there is no difference between good and evil amongst the living creatures of the earth - only humanity makes such distinctions. Therefore the Infernal Hierarchy is part of a human perspective of the spiritual world that divides it into good and evil, and of course, that division is illusory and at higher levels of consciousness, even absurd.

We can, however, deal with this infernal hierarchy if it is defined as being the mirror image of the positive angelic hierarchy, and then only if they are both considered integral and in some kind of union. This would make the infernal hierarchy a kind of dark side or unconscious shadow of the angelic reality of light. It may also benefit us to realize that the daemons of the Goetia have an additional hierarchy that further joins them to the greater hierarchy of the Godhead. So at the level of the Qabbalistic world of Atziluth, these differences become nullified, but may have a reality in Briah, Yetzirah and especially Assiah, where good and evil are encountered in the acts and judgments of humanity. As the Qliphoth is said to shadow the Sephiroth and acts as the backside of the Tree of Life, so too would the daemons represent the dark reflections of the angelic beings that they mirror.

The Infernal Hierarchy is not as diverse or complete as the angelic one, so we would expect that it would mirror the most simplistic structure of the angelic hierarchy. The basic numeric structure of this hierarchy of devils is that of the numbers three, four, eight, nine, eleven and seventy-two. Embedded in this structure are the numbers seven and eighty (twice forty). We can see in these numbers a kind of aping of the sacred systems that are represented by the angelic hierarchies and the Trinity, in its various forms - Jewish Qabbalah, Christian and Sufi Islam. The trinity as it is defined in the Infernal Hierarchy are the three great Kings of the Infernal Regions, and these are Lucifer, Beelzebub, and  Satan. There are also nine orders of daemons (perhaps three of each being ruled by the three great Kings), and four Demon Princes of the Air, who are ruled by Satan. These four Demon Princes rule over a demonic Bishop or Governor, and these rule over the Goetic daemons. The Hierarchy can be presented in the following tables.

(See “Keys to the Gateway of Magic: Summoning the Solomonic Archangels and Demon Princes”, p. 102 - 103 - where these spirits are listed and partially qualified.)

The Four Demon Princes of the Four Directions (Elements)

Direction - Element          Demonic Prince           Govenor (Bishop)

East (Air)                          Urieus - Oriens            Theltryon

South (Fire)                      Amaymon                    Boytheon

West (Water)                    Paymon                       Sperion

North (Earth)                    Egin                            Mayerion

The nine orders of daemons are as follows: False Gods, Spirits of Lies, Vessels of Iniquities, Evil Avengers, Aerial Powers, Furies, Accusers or Inquisitors, and Tempters and Ensnarers. These orders are quite Christian in their composition, and wouldn’t have much to offer a ritual magician unless one was interested in dealing with a daemonic hierarchy apart and distinct from the Godhead. This perspective could be considered a gross fantasy, perversion or twisted delusion, representing more of a Satanic magickal perspective that would certainly place one squarely in the Christian mediaeval spiritual dogma as a diabolic adversary. This is a perspective that does not fit well with the Qabbalah, for reasons already sited above.

To summarize the above considerations, an Infernal Hierarchy is an optional structure that magicians may use if they wish to, as long as it is understood that such a hierarchy does not abrogate the necessary unity of the Godhead, and that daemonic entities are not considered as separate or distinct from their associated spiritual context, which is the dark, shadowy or unconscious aspect of the angelic entities and their hierarchies. I believe that magicians must refrain from the error of dualism and the excesses that it can cause in the actions and practices of magicians. It is my earnest opinion  that the Infernal Hierarchy is probably an archaic relic and one that is no longer really relevant to the system of invocation and evocation that I have forged for the Order and its practicing ritual magicians. 

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goetic Evocation - The New Fad

A few years ago occult students and practicing magicians became enamored of the old grimoires and began to purchase newly translated and annotated copies of them. This may be due in part to published books written by Steve Savedow, Joseph C. Lisiewski and Aaron Leitch. All three authors recommended using the old grimoires in a literal fashion, and seemed to encourage the evocation of Goetic demons. Chaos magic has also lately latched on to Goetic demons, as if the faux gods of H.P. Lovecraft weren’t enough to keep them occupied. So now it’s quite stylish to use the Goetic demons in various workings and everyone seems to be getting on the bandwagon to engage in this kind of magical working.

Of course, I have no intention of engaging this new fad, since my system of magic always had the evocation of Goetic demons as an included part of its over-all strategy for magical theurgy and evocation. However, where I differ from the crowd is that I don’t work with these entities individually and in isolation. In a word, I don’t conjure anything without using a very tried and true context. This is because I believe that spirits don’t exist in a vacuum, that they have a very specific hierarchy and I use that hierarchy to work with spirits in combination. So that means that I don’t evoke Goetic demons in isolation, as seems to be the fad out there - instead I work with them as part of a hierarchy that includes the archangels of the 12 zodiacal signs, the angelic rulers of the 36 decans and the 72 angels of the ha-Shem. So if I sought to evoke one of the Goetic demons, it would only be after a series of theurgic workings that would include the archangels and angels that are part of its hierarchy.

The 72 demons of the Goetia have their counter-part in the 72 angels of the ha-Shem, and I would never evoke one of the demons without also invoking the matching angel of the ha-Shem. In this fashion the evocation would be controlled and balanced between light and darkness, which would protect me from potential demonic obsession and allow the dark aspects of my inner self and the inner planes to be worked out through the powers and the intercession of the ha-Shem angel. Pairing Goetic demons with angels of the ha-Shem isn’t new, since we have a record of this methodology found in the book, The Goetia of Dr. Rudd. Where I part with tradition is that I choose to build a complete spiritual context using the angelic rulers of the decans and the archangels of the twelve signs as part of the hierarchy of spirits that I engage when working theurgy and goetic evocation. It’s my understanding that the Golden Dawn had proposed this kind of hierarcy, Aleister Crowley hints at it in his Book of Thoth, and Carroll “Poke” Runyon uses a variation close to what I use. So there is some precedence for this hierarchy - but it’s likely to be recent and is not to be found in the tradition of the old grimoires, as far as I can tell.

If one were to perform the evocation of Goetic demons without use of the above hierarchy, then another hierarchy would implicitly come into play, and that would be the Infernal Hierarchy of Satan and the organization of Hell. This hierarchy is also part of the tradition of the old grimoires, but the demonic hierarchy would not be approached without the power and wisdom of the Holy Guardian Angel to aid and protect the magician. One would assume that because the magicians of the previous epoch would not have attempted to invoke a demon servitor without first going through the infernal hierarchy, then we shouldn’t consider these spirits in isolation either. However, because I am not a Christian or a Satanist, I believe that the infernal hierarchy is kind of contrived and represents a dualistic spiritual philosophy, which I don’t think is workable as a witch and pagan. I also don’t have a deity in my pantheon who is like the devil, even though the Horned God does come close - except that he continually dies and is reborn, which is not a good quality for an angelic adversary. I do believe that the concept of demons does work in a pagan and wiccan spiritual environment, and I will attempt to explain this theory.

So exactly what are demons anyway? If they are merely personifications and agents of evil, why would anyone want to traffic with them? One could assume that either magicians want to control the chaotic forces in their lives and apply them in a constructive fashion or they have a perverse desire to engage in malignancy and the exaltation of their own darkness. Others who traffic with them may be doing it out of curiosity, boredom, or because they are jaded and want some kind of new kick in their lives.

I see demons as spiritually negative, but more like a natural negativity - the dark Yin to the light Yang. Angels are like the agents of control who maintain the spiritual status quo, and demons are the agents of chaos who break up the status quo and counteract the laws of nature, including, perhaps, even the physical laws of nature. Where one could see angels as a kind of masculine force, demons would be feminine. They symbolize the archetypal opposition of light and darkness in nature, but without the connotation of good and evil. Angels represent the perfect mathematics of Euclidean space and Newtonian/Einsteinian physical laws, and demons would represent the curved and distorted intricacies of Non-Euclidean space and the convolutions of Quantum mechanics. One can see by this comparison that demons are an integral part of the natural spiritual world, and that if one works with angels, one should also ultimately work with demons as well - to maintain a holistic approach to magic and spiritual mechanics.

Since demons of any kind represent the opposite quality of angels, then we could assume that they would represent chaotic, disruptive and even stochastic spiritual forces and intelligences. Obviously, we would want to engage such forces and intelligences in a very controlled environment, but conversely, such entities would be useful in breaking through old patterns and dealing with internal flaws within the psyche, or even engaging in processes that would be considered outside of the normal space time continuum. Such a controlled use would require either the assistance of the Holy Guardian Angel, a hierarchy of archangels and angels, or a combination of both.

I have used demons in the past to specifically address my spiritual dark side, to realize myself as a being of light and darkness, and to learn to harness and empower my dark side so that I might be able to master myself. I believe that this is relevant because the physical and social worlds that we live in are neither light or dark, but rather a balanced grey. Demons help me to determine my limitations, flaws and weaknesses - something that angels would not be capable of doing since they are programmed to aid and assist humanity. Sometimes things need to be broken or even destroyed in order to ensure continued spiritual growth. Magicians, like everyone else, can allow habits and limiting opinions trap them. These habits can carve deep ruts in their lives that seem almost insurmountable. Drastic measures may be required to eliminate them. I believe that demons can do this quite adequately. Similarly, demons can also allow for the incursion of the impossible, assisting one in attracting totally new and completely unrealized possibilities into one’s life.

In the magician’s search for wisdom and power, no stone should be left unturned, and this is also true for the evocation of demons. However, I maintain my argument that one should never evoke demons without also working through the hierarchy and also, hopefully, having a powerful guide such as the Holy Guardian Angel to assist.

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reviewing the Reviewer - Another Clueless Article from the Esoteric Review

Review of Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Grimoire - by Nina Lazarus

Back in the Spring of this year, my first book in the series “Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick” received an unwarranted and blistering review that fully demonstrated how ignorant the reviewer was of general occult principles and of ritual magick specifically. I was reviled for producing a book that did not attempt to explain all of the details of the techniques of ritual magick, even though the book was thoroughly promoted as being an intermediate level book that was not for beginners. This was stipulated on the back of the book cover, in the title itself, and the introduction. The basic understanding of who the book was written for, and what it should contain was completely missed by the reviewer, so one had to assume that the real issue was the reviewer and not the book.

That being said, it’s now several months later and the next book in this series has been released. Yet another poor review has burbled up from the yawning pit of the Esoteric Review. Although this reviewer seems to have at least looked over the book and attempted to analyze its contents with some degree of intelligence, the basic message of the book, printed plainly on the back cover and throughout has been missed. This book contains the rituals that go with the series, which is why it is called “grimoire”, but these rituals are to be rewritten and developed into a personal system of ritual magick. In fact that is the whole purpose of the series, also stated now in both published volumes. This is what’s on the back of the book:

“Building upon the work begun in Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick: Foundation, this book contains nine rituals that are core to this system of magick. These rituals are customizable to work with a variety of pantheons for the purpose of building a personal system of magick for solitaires, groups or combinations thereof. “

Also, in the introduction of the book:

“Few books contain rituals to customize and re-write, show how to group rituals together to form workings, or even build up a complete discipline of practical ritual magick. This book used in combination with the first, does that and much more.”

And also, this quote:

“As you look over the rituals in the grimoire, you will see that I have deliberately left blanks, inserted boiler plate examples and left omissions in the text so you will be able to fill in the blanks and build your own personalized rituals.”

So based on these examples, one would expect to find rather rudimentary examples of ritual text (speaking parts) and other mechanisms to fill out what are actually just examples of ritual, not completed nor fully developed ones. This is why there are blanks for the various god names and other defined ritual parts. What’s important are the ritual structures themselves, not the actual speaking parts. These are to be customized by the student using this series to build their own system of ritual magick. A simple examination of any of the rituals will allow one to easily determine that they are incomplete and require development.

Yet based on Nina’s critique of the book, there is no mention of this fact whatsoever. So despite writing this explanation in several parts of the book, including the back (which she dryly comments on), the reviewer doesn’t comprehend the purpose of the book. That should in and of itself disqualify the reviewer and the review, but there is unfortunately much more to read and puzzle over.

In the first paragraph of the review Nina states that “The subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading, as the use of the term grimoire here is indicative of the current trend to use the word to somehow validate books as being more genuine or of greater provenance, when they are in fact completely unrelated to the Medieval and Renaissance grimoires, which form a distinct tradition of their own.”

Of course the dictionary defines grimoire as a book containing a collection of spells, incantations and rituals, and since this book is intimately associated with the “Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick” series, one would not associate it with the old grimoires of the Medieval and early Renaissance periods. It’s just a book containing a collection of rituals and spells, so perhaps the more simpler explanation should suffice. Nina is looking for reasons to judge this book harshly, and one can see this also in the first paragraph, where she says:

The back cover of this book informs us that Frater Barabbas has almost four decades of practical experience of the occult arts. I therefore assume that he is in his fifties, as anyone claiming to practice magick seriously before the age of twelve or thirteen in my experience is usually a deluded fantasist. ”

If one were being generous, then the correct assumption is that the author is in his mid fifties, which is correct. To also state that most claims of a lifetime’s worth of experience are the mark of a deluded fantasist is to imply that I am somehow deluded and fantasizing my role as a ritual magician of some experience and knowledge. It’s an implied ad hominem attack on me, setting up the review for a systematic demolishing of what has been judged as an adequate book on ritual magick by other more objective reviewers. So if the title of my book is poorly chosen and my claims of being a magician for 35 years the raving of a lunatic, then the contents of the book must be easily dismissed as just more occult rubbish.

Then she examines each of the nine rituals, looking to judge them as interesting, unique or just more of the same (wicca 101 or ceremonial magick 101). She gives the readers a clue as to how she views magick with the comment:

“The latter includes the words “to manifest and appear” for the summoned watchtower guardians, which seems incredibly optimistic. Then four emissaries of the deity are invoked, which seems somewhat superfluous, not to mention a little crowded! Why do people always assume that spiritual beings want to come and watch their rituals anyway when they offer no incentive for them to do so, but I digress. ”

The text for summoning whatever the student has finally chosen as occupying the four Watchtowers is loosely based on what one would anticipate in a ritual used to summon something. I would expect this verbiage to be completely replaced with whatever the student has decided is more relevant. So a critique of the specific language used is sort of misplaced - since the important part is the pattern and not the actual ritual language. She fails to notice that the circle is being squared, adding a unique layer to the circle consecration rite, and this is where the four emissaries are invoked - becoming the sides of the square. A circle squared is an important factor in a ritual based on energy - it produces a charge. She also doesn’t seem to realize that the watchtower guardians and the emissaries are not named - gee, I wonder why?

The whole basis for this system of magick is two-fold - it uses the energy theory of magick, and as a methodology of ritual magick, it requires the assumption of the godhead. In fact the personal godhead of the magician is also directly connected to the magician’s magickal persona and the four emissaries. So the mere process of assuming that persona implies an indirect connection to the deity, which is why the magician may summon the associated spirit guardians of the Watchtowers and the four emissaries without being presumptuous or overly optimistic. This system of magick was rigorously defined in the first book and repeated in the second as well.

The scope of this system is pretty well defined in the book, and I quote it here:

“A magician must have a material base of operations, and therefore, he or she must satisfy basic needs before considering more lofty or exalted pursuits. However, a successful material life is not the end goal of this system of ritual magick. It is the beginning.

I believe working ritual magick to gain an edge in the material world is always the place where a magickal discipline has its base. “

From these two statements, one would expect that this system of magick would focus on a material based magick that would be used to assist one in bettering their material situation. This is not a system of theurgy nor is it a system that uses spirits in its workings. It is a simple system of magick with some moderately complex parts and it is fully modular, meaning that one can use the nine rituals to formulate ritual workings and develop a magickal and spiritual discipline.

Then we come to Nina’s critique of the Grove Consecration ritual, and she says this bit about the blessing and consecrating the sacraments through the agency of the magician’s godhead (unnamed, of course).

“Then we come to the consecration of the magick grove. This was of similar ilk, however summoning the spirits of the elements into the cakes, oil, milk and honey and wine, and then burying them in the earth and putting a stone over them is not in my opinion a very smart move. Other elemental spirits will know you are the one who trapped their compatriots and have no desire to help you with anything – why should they?”

Let’s look at the blessing of the wine as an example. The magician first blesses the wine using this boiler plate blessing:

I bless this Wine as the Spiritual Blood of the Great Mother, the Earth. In the Name(s) of [Deity(s) Name].”

Notice the word “as”, because it is an important key in the magickal sentence. So this looks like a typical blessing in the name of some deity.

Then there is the follow up exhortation, which Nina finds so objectionable.

I summon the Spirits of Fire, as the Liberating Power of Wine. ”

Once again the word “as” is being used. This use of the word “as” in both cases is a kind of simile, and not to be confused with an equivalency. Anyone taking English 101 in college would be able to parse the difference between “is” and “as”, since it is used extensively in poetry, religion and in ritual and ceremonial magick.

What is happening here is that the sacraments are being blessed and consecrated by the godhead and the sacred element. Then part of the sacraments that are blessed and consecrated are given back to the earth from whence they came, and the rest is consecrated again in the Assumption of the Grail Spirit rite, if it were performed as part of the outdoor grove working. There is no mention that these sacraments are imbued with spirits, just blessed and consecrated by the powers of the godhead and the sacred elements. Yet Nina somehow thinks that by doing this, one is forcing element spirits into the sacraments and then dumping and trapping them into the earth - such a rude and mean thing to do! All I can say to this comment of hers is that she knows nothing about the simple art of blessing and consecrating sacraments, or what they become after they are so blessed. To restore some of them to the earth is to feed it, since the Grove is the earth, and it is alive! This is a very proper and pagan oblation.

Nina then goes on to the Pyramid of Power rite, which she dismisses as derivative, even though there isn’t anything else in print that is quite like it, but that doesn’t seem to matter. She has this to say about the “Mantle of Glory” which is a simple and abbreviated method of self crossing.

“The Pyramid of Power contains the first occurrence of the “Mantle of Glory”, which is a straightforward derivation of the Qabalistic Cross, minus the visualisations [sic] which actually empower it. ”

She assumes that this ritual action is from the Golden Dawn ritual, the Qabbalistic Cross, gutted of its more effective parts and ineffectively pasted into the rite. Yet this is not where this ritual action comes from, it’s actually distilled from the Alexandrian version of the “Drawing Down the Moon” rite. It’s also done in the middle of a complex set of ritual actions (the ritual climax), so developing it more fully (as is the case in the Qabbalistic Cross) would detract from the actual flow of the ritual. But this is not important to Nina. Copying things exactly is more important than properly integrating important ritual actions into the flow of a ritual. Since Nina didn’t bother to experiment with this ritual and try to use the full blown Qabbalistic Cross at that point, she wouldn’t know that it’s too cumbersome to be so accommodated.

She also complains that I didn’t adequately describe the “Osiris position”, but of course, this pose is described in the first book, which Nina didn’t bother to read. And she compares the Rose Ankh vortex rite to fantasy role playing, missing that there is a specific operation in that rite that works with energy fields and pulls them together in a unique manner. If I had made as many mistakes in my book as Nina has made in her critique, then the book would never have been published, at least not by Megalithica Books.

The icing on the cake of this poor review is where Nina pokes holes in the spirit attributes of the Qualified Powers of Air. I admit that I used my own system to create a nomenclature for the angelic level names for the ten attributes of the Deity, and I did not draw much from traditional sources to craft this list. Yet it works and it’s functional, and the bottom line is that the tradition that Nina uses to critique it is based on only one of several different systems in use over the last thousand years or more. Since these are just attributes and overly simplified, one could perhaps let this slide, especially if the angels are not being used for theurgy nor in anyway invoked. This is probably one area where I should have stuck to the books, since it was certainly going to bother someone out there who is a purist, although, as I have stated there are several systems of determining angels and sephiroth, and I have added one more. Here is Nina’s exact words on the subject:

“Unfortunately the author’s knowledge of Qabalah seems somewhat rudimentary, and when I reached his attributions of the angels this was made very clear. He has mixed the traditional grimoire orders of angels with the Qabalistic ones, resulting in some bizarre attributions and the introduction of new orders of angels not seen in either – the Benefactors and Intelligences! The latter term is sometimes used interchangeably with Angels, as seen in the Planetary Intelligences, but that would not fit here. Neither would the Aralim (should be Binah) with the Ten of Swords, Dominions should be Jupiter and Four, not the Three of Swords, and the list goes on.”

Of course, since I took liberties with what Nina thought was “traditional”, and that the rest of the chapter on the Qabbalah was written for individuals who were not Qabbalists, I don’t think that my knowledge is either rudimentary or substandard. Anyway, she basically judges the whole system as suspect and contrived, since I had the audacity to craft my own version of the list of angels attributed to the ten sephiroth. Like I said, if you aren’t invoking the angels by name, what difference does it make? This is not a book to perform Theurgy! There were no sources sited for the list of angels nor did I say that this was a traditional system of angel magick. Still, Benefactors being compared to Chesed, which is Mercy - is that so far out? It’s not traditional, certainly, but so what! I think that deriving angelic names based on the qualities of the Qabbalah is certainly not a crime, nor does it brand me a moron. But that’s a guaranteed “gotcha”, which she could have just said the following and it would have been appropriate:

“Frater Barrabbas seems to have put together his own list of angels attributed to the Qabbalistic World of Yetzirah. This list does not compare to any that would be used in traditional grimoires or would be a part of the traditional Qabbalah. I don’t agree with his use of the derived angel list, but since he is describing an energy or force, it probably doesn’t detract much from what he is attempting to describe. Readers should take note of this discrepancy.”

But that would have been much too generous and would have implied a certain degree of acceptance. If Nina’s objective is to harshly judge my book, than any excuse is warranted, and disagreements become outright objections. Objections lead to Nina saying that the book is not worth buying by anyone.

However, Nina did like the chapter on the Assumption of the Godhead, ironically the newest piece of writing that was added to the book, so I guess one could say that there is yet hope for me as a writer. The rest of text was originally written over 12 years ago, and has been extensively edited. It is readable, which is a remarkable accomplishment.

Then Nina throws in this nice gem of a critique, thinking that the bibliography has a glaring error in it.

“I was slightly puzzled by the bibliography, where “The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley”, “Liber 777” and “777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley” were listed as three separate books, when they are basically all the same thing (ok Liber 777 doesn’t contain Sepher Sephiroth but that is a minor quibble). However perhaps this is thrown in to see if you are still paying attention.”

These are in fact three different books containing a compilation of material, some of it duplicated, and some of it unique. They aren’t identical copies of exactly the same thing, and the earlier version of 777 published by Level Press is probably no longer available and could be omitted from the bibliography. However, they aren’t the same books, and they or may not be available at present. Some older books are now online and the new versions are out of print, so for this reason, I included all three of them. However, they are listed, and once again, why is this such a large issue for Nina? It’s just another “so what?” Nina caught this “so called mistake” and she criticized me for crafting my own angel list, but she didn’t even get why the book was written. That does say volumes about her ability to nit pick but miss the whole point of any conversation. Talking with her must be dull and annoying, too.

So that’s the review of the reviewer’s review. How about a review of the reviewer? What can we judge about her from her writings?

Nina Lazarus is obviously an afficionado of the old grimoires, and since my book had the word “grimoire” in the title, it fell to her to critique it. All well and good, except that the book is about ritual magick and has nothing to do with the old grimoires. She has very little knowledge of classical witchcraft, paganism and is probably not an initiate. She doesn’t know much about the liturgical actions of blessing and consecrating sacraments and certainly knows nothing about magick that uses the energy theory. Her domain is obviously working with spirits, so everything is seen in that guise, whether or not the book deals with that subject - and it doesn’t. So, it would seem that Nina is hardly the expert to review my book, and that she should either state her limitations in the very beginning or just not bother reviewing something that is not in her subject of expertise.

What bothers me about bad reviews and poor reviewers is that they have to dig and find things to trash someone else’s work. We are all brothers and sisters of the same over-all path, and we face a world that is hostile to our practices and beliefs. Even though the number of wiccans and pagans in the U.S. is growing very rapidly, it is still a small minority, and one that is subject to potential persecution and discrimination. For those who are struggling to write and to publish their books for the benefit of others of like mind, I have the greatest respect and admiration - even if I don’t agree with their views and practices. Occult authors don’t generally make much money, even the popular ones have to hold multiple jobs to survive. To write a bad review about someone’s book in our community by one of its own members shows a kind of small mindedness and spitefulness that is astonishing to me. It speaks volumes of the reviewer’s over inflated ego and says nothing about the book and the author that they just smeared for no real reason.

I find this state of affairs both sad and tragic.

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Further Magical Musings - Ritual Magic and Magical Power

We have been talking about the theories of magic and various perspectives on magical powers and how they can be developed and defined. I would like to continue this conversation and get a bit deeper into this topic. I would like to share with you some of my creations and perspectives about magical power. In addition, we will also need to talk a bit about altered states of consciousness and symbols of transformation. This will bring some elements of the psychological theory of magic into our discussions. We will also bring an element of the spirit theory of magic into our discussion when we examine the practice of performing magic while under the influence of godhead assumption.


We talked about raising energy and the differences between the cone of power and the vortex. We also discussed how defining and shaping the energy can make it more effective. We covered the topics of imprinting the power, creating a magical link and exteriorizing that power once its qualified. However, I omitted a few other points that we should also go over, since they also greatly contribute to the effect of the magic where the energy model is used. These additional topics are using altered states of consciousness, symbols of transformation, and assuming a godhead. Discussing these topics will bring into our discussion on the energy model concepts borrowed from the spirit and psychology models.

As I have said previously, witchcraft magic is a hybrid system and it incorporates all three of the models of energy, spirit and psychology into its methodology. There are traditions of magic that use the energy model exclusively, such as Hoodoo and certain forms of ceremonial magic, where all considerations of spirit and deity are not relevant. Likewise there are traditions that use only the spirit model and/or the psychology model.

A pure energy model methodology of magic would stipulate that performing specific operations or mixing together certain elements at certain times and using them in a specific manner would be all that is required in order to successfully work magic. However, in a hybrid system such as this, altered states of conscious and aspects of the deity are employed in the magic, so we will need to cover them in this article.

Altered States of Consciousness & Mind Control

Altered states of conscious, as used in magic, is just a term that means controlling the mind. How is this done? It’s done through various forms of meditation, known categorically as asana, pranayama, mantra and mandala yoga. (These four systems of yoga loosely cover the areas of physical posture, breathing, hearing and seeing, respectively. All four areas used together allow the mind to be completely detached and unfocused from its usual activity.) You might ask why are these eastern systems of yoga employed in a western magical tradition? Isn’t there a more suitable western methodology?

There are alternative techniques in the western religious traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but these are steeped in the religious beliefs and theologies of their respective creeds. There undoubtably were techniques that were used in the pagan mysteries, but they have been either lost or incorporated into Christianity. What we use today represents the eastern traditional techniques of meditation and contemplation with all the theological underpinnings stripped away. There is also some strong evidence that these systems so deployed are similar to what the ancient shamans employed for their practice, so they represent the most simplistic and essential approach to controlling the mind.

Asana yoga is the technique of learning to sit in a comfortable posture that allows one to maintain this position for long periods of time without either succumbing to bodily fatigue or being too comfortable and falling asleep. Sitting cross-legged is probably the most basic asana, but there are others as well that assist one in stretching and maintaining bodily flexibility. Choreographed dance or free form dance could be another way of maintaining personal balance - such as the iterative dancing of the Sufi zikkar.

Pranayama yoga is the technique of controlling breathing, either by counting one’s breaths or controlling the interval of inhalation and exhalation. It can be slow and gentle like breathing during sleep or rest, or forceful, like forms of hyper-ventilation. Controlling the breath also controls the associated mental state that one is experiencing. This is probably due to the fact that breath determines the amount of oxygen introduced into the brain through the blood, and it also changes the focus of the mind to be centered exclusively on a specific bodily function.

Mantra yoga is the technique of intoning words or phrases repetitively, using the entire contents of air in the lungs to do so. Mantra yoga incorporates a kind of quick and deep inhalation so the cycle of mantric intoning is only briefly interrupted. The tone of the voice is also vibrated into the nasal passages and can go from being quite loud to a soft and internalized vibrating. Mantra yoga effectiveness has to do with the cyclic vibration of the nasal passages, which seems to stimulate the frontal lobes of the brain, causing a marked change in consciousness.

Mandala yoga is the technique of staring at a diagram or visually ambiguous pattern for long periods of time, where the focus of the mind is exclusively on the visual image of the pattern. Mandala yoga can also greatly alter the mind, although it is typically used to foster trance states, which are also very useful to the practice of magic.

In addition, the practitioner may also concentrate on a spiritual concept or ideal using breath control, mantra and mandala yoga together to create a very deep altered state of consciousness. In this state, one passively notes the various associations and thoughts that occur in conjunction with the spiritual concept, but without analyzing or examining them; just passively being aware of them. This technique is called contemplation, and it is used to concentrate on spiritual concepts within a deep meditative mind state. The purpose of this state is for searching the soul for inner revelations and insights.

All of these above techniques can be used individually or together to build a powerful system of meditation, which will enable the magical practitioner to enhance and greatly increase the effects of working magic. You can work magic without using any of these mind control techniques, but experience has shown me that the magic is typically less intense and effective. So I include them in my repertoire of practices, whether I work alone or with others.

The reason that these mind control techniques make magic more effective is that they foster a powerful altered state of consciousness, where the “as if” propositions of magic seem quite real. Trance and meditative states of consciousness also open the door on the deep inner self and allow communication between the conscious and unconscious minds. It is for this reason that altered states of consciousness are considered one of the most important elements in performing effective magical rituals. However, the mind state is only one of the elements, and by itself will not generate magical effects.

(The next two sections are distilled from my book “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick”.)

Symbols of Transformation

If the adoption of a powerful altered state of consciousness is considered the foundation for practicing ritual magic, then the trigger or operator for magic is discovered in the symbols of transformation. The most effective type of meditation is where the meditator focuses on a religious Mandela or contemplates on religious ideals or concepts, and correspondingly, the most effective magic is where religious images or concepts are used.

This is because religious iconography and ideals are steeped in symbols of transformation and these act as triggers when a corresponding altered state of consciousness is adopted. The combination of a deep altered state of consciousness with a symbol of transformation unlocks the deepest aspect of the spiritual self and makes it powerfully available to the conscious mind. Symbols of transformation used during the adoption of an altered state of conscious together precipitate the transformation of consciousness, which is an important objective for any magical ritual working.

In the most basic forms of magic, there are six different categories for the symbols of transformation. These are: the point, line, circle, triangle, cross and the star. These geometric forms may seem very rudimentary, and indeed they are, but they also contain basic philosophical meanings and psychological effects that are powerfully meaningful and significant to the unconscious mind. Most religious symbols and iconography use a combination of these forms to produce sacred symbology and iconography, and they are rarely seen in their more simplistic forms.

Point represents an event, a position, a definition, a quality of self.

Line represents a relationship between self and other, the conduit which exists between heaven and earth or the place of spirit and the place of matter. A line connects as well as divides and it can denote direction.

Circle symbolizes a domain, a world, and a point within a circle symbolizes location. Two spaces are delineated by the circle, and these are inner space and outer space.

Triangle is a symbol of the nature of spirit (Deity), which represents the fusion of self and other, creating union; so the triangle symbolizes union. A triangle is also a gateway. It’s also the definition of a plane (three points) and a symbol of the three dimensions for objects that exist in space (reality).

Cross represents the intersection of two lines, dividing space into four quadrants, symbolizing the four Elements, the four directions and the four seasons. The cross also symbolizes the joining of heaven and earth, feminine and masculine, light and darkness, to produce the manifestation of earth and all that it contains. The cross, like the triangle, can assume many variations that augment and extend its basic meaning and effect. The cross and triangle are used extensively in religious iconography, both in the East and the West.

Star is a symbol of transformation itself, where the self is opened up like a flower to behold the full awareness of Spirit in Self. The star assumes many forms, and each one has its own symbolic qualities. Examples of the star are the pentagram, hexagram, septagram, octagram, eneagram, decagram, undecigram and the duodecagram. There could be numerous others, but once a star has more than ten points, it becomes less distinguishable, and therefore, less significant.

One could also categorize colors, sounds, scents - all things of the senses, and these, added to the basic symbols of transformation would be used to formulate icons, talismans, amulets and other symbols of magical power. The use of such a device would cause powerful alterations in the nature of an altered state of consciousness, which is their purpose. They are used in rituals as tools, ritual structures, devices, formulas, incantations, and contemplative mandalas. The key point is to powerfully impact this altered state of consciousness so that one’s higher self or spirit is drawn down into one’s conscious world and where the self is completely immersed within the domain of Spirit. This is the point where magic becomes capable of bending and transforming one’s physical reality - making the potential for the miraculous a probable outcome.

This is a representation of how the Psychological model of magic would be used, drawing altered states of consciousness and expanding them with the magical devices and constructions that function as symbols of transformation. So we have the energy model of magic, and the psychological model, and there is also the need to consider the spirit model of magic as well, although that model uses the construct of the personal godhead instead of actually invoking external spirits.

Alignment and Godhead Assumption

I practice ritual magic through the guise of my personal Deity, and all that I do is colored by that assumption. What that means is that the assumption of the godhead rite is the prime ritual in my repertoire. Included are devotions, invocations, communion, and focused contemplation on that aspect of Deity and its image or imago. I can have statues of my godhead, where its spirit can reside, and I can also attempt to psychologically and spiritually become one with the Deity both in my spiritual liturgies and my magical practices. Why is this a part of the magic that I work? What is the function of assuming a godhead in the practice of ritual magic?

These are good questions, and the answer is that godhead assumption is fundamental to the type of ritual magic that I work, but it is not important to many other forms of ceremonial and religious magic. To assume the godhead is rather heretical to most forms or religion, with perhaps the exception of some forms of earth-based spirituality, most notably, Wicca and Neopaganism. If the purpose of ritual magic is to ultimately become one with the godhead, then what better way could one adopt than performing a ritual to assume the godhead? What this represents is a spiritual discipline incorporated within the magical discipline of practicing ritual magic.

A spiritual discipline within one’s practice of magic is a very unusual concept, and some magicians do not even feel that it is important and discard it as superfluous, seeking to reap the rewards of practicing magic without any spiritual considerations. To practice magic is to engage one’s spirit as the elements of higher consciousness, whether one realizes that fact or not. Therefore, a spiritual discipline involves the Self and its relationship to Deity, and includes spiritual exercises and even magickal rites that define and amplify that relationship. A spiritual discipline will enhance a magician’s ritual magic because it will cause the elements of higher consciousness that are engaged in the magic to be more intense and evolved, pushing the realizations from the psychic level of consciousness to the subtle, and even the causal.

A magician must develop a personal religious cult of one’s self as God, and perform within it as its priest, congregation and corporeal representative. As this relationship between Deity and magician is developed, the magician begins to become more profoundly altered and begins to assume more conscious aspects of one’s own spirit. The rites of alignment are particularly those that a magician practices and develops in order to facilitate a closer and immanent relationship with the nature of one’s Godhead, or God/dess within. So invocation, communion, devotion and assumption are the rituals of a spiritual discipline that are assiduously practiced by the ritual magician. A ritual magician would also perform meditations and contemplations on the nature of that Deity, which would change and evolve over time. Therefore, one can see that the merging of a magical and spiritual discipline represents the integral approach to the practice of ritual magick.

A magician is able, over time, to determine personal destiny. This is an evolving process, and one that is not usually answered with any immediacy. In order to know one’s destiny, magicians are compelled to know and define themselves, not in any tangible way, but only in a spiritual manner. So a magician must develop a spiritual identity even before beginning to realize what must be done for one’s life vocation.

Developing a spiritual identity is something that lies within both the magickal and spiritual discipline of the magician, and occurs through the process of gaining a greater perspective by realizing one’s spiritual dimension. This can only occur through an iterative exposure to magickal phenomena, and the immersion and transformation of the magician’s conscious mind by the powers and insights revealed through one’s spirit. What is progressively revealed is the magician’s higher self, and it is through this aspect that one realizes the inner truth to one’s self.

To foster this process, the magician will adopt a magical persona and identity that will link to one’s perspective of Deity, becoming an important part of a spiritual discipline and a personal religious cult. As time progresses, and the magician continues to assiduously practice ritual magic, that magical persona or identity will go through many changes and alterations, and eventually, it will become the vehicle for the higher self to manifest and superimpose itself over one’s being. Once magicians know themselves, then they can understand all that one has undergone as a preparation for that moment, so aiding the magician in perceiving and realizing the role and ultimate vocation in life, which is one’s destiny.

Thus the magician has a personal religious cult representing one’s personal aspect of Deity, and uses this as a mechanism to empower and potently charge the magic worked with the numen of the godhead. This is a variation of the Spirit model of magic, and it is used to empower the self and one’s magic, since it is through the godhead that all ritual is so executed.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Magical Musings - Theories of Magic

I have been practicing magic in many forms for over 36 years, from simple earth magic to the most advanced forms of evocation. This experience has not blinded me to the basic concepts of how magic works and the nature of magical power. I have not only worked very successful magical rituals for myself, but for others as well. I have taught this regimen to students and they have met with success as well. I believe that I can, with a certain degree of confidence, make some propositions about magic, how it works, and how it can be successfully deployed. I have also been collecting some theories about magic and I have classified a few of them that I think are useful. I present them here for you to examine and judge, but I don’t believe that these musings are exhaustive or comprehensive.


There are probably just as many ways to work magic as there are ways of cooking food. Every cook has his or her own methodology, from the ingredients used to the techniques of preparing and presentation. Every locale in our world has its own recipes and its own spices and seasonings. Cooking is both an art and a science - but not necessarily an exact science. All this is true of magic as well. Magic is determined by the culture and the time that it was developed and used. There are old traditional recipes and there are traditional magical applications, new haute cuisine and cutting edge forms of high magick. There are a number of different schools of cooking, so too, there are different schools of magic. Each school of cuisine probably has its own theories and models for cooking, too.

Like the analogy for food, there are also several different theories about magic, and all of them take a very specific model and methodology and apply it exclusively. So there is a theory of magic that is based on Spirit, another one based on Energy, and still another one based on Psychology. All of them are correct as far as they go, but all of them are limited to a single model and their associated assumptions. I would also consider them to be gross generalizations, but models are good learning devices, since they challenge and help us to accurately think about the way something really works.

We can see these models operating in how people talk about magic. Some are engaged with spirits and see magic as being a process that involves gods or goddesses, others are involved in energy and talk about magical powers. Some seem to think that magic is just a form of applied psychology, so they talk about magic as a means of positive affirmations, linguistic devices and artifices, and cathartic psycho-dramas. There are other theories about magic as well, and some of them are based on the empirical fact that magic and magical thinking are completely fantasy based, so to them magic is a false belief. Yet another theory has it that magic represents the manipulation of physical powers that are as yet unknown to science.

As witches, we believe that magic is real, but besides that, there are as many opinions about magic as there are individuals practicing it. For the sake of simplifying something that is very diverse and complex, we will look at three theories about magic, since they would aptly apply to how most witches define magic.

The first theory of magic is that magic is all about spirits and this is probably one of the oldest theories about magic. Whether they are called Gods, Goddesses, ancestors, earth spirits, fairies, angels, demons, spirit guides or any of the otherkin, they are all spirits. (They may all be categorized as spirits, but they are listed in different and mutually exclusive hierarchies in the various traditions that work with them.) A spirit theory of magic proposes that all magical phenomena are caused by the intercession and/or manipulation of spirits. A spirit theory of magic has to not only define the nature of spirits and the spirit world, but also the nature of Deity and how spirits and gods interact in the practices of magic and religion. The nature of spirits and deities are paradoxical, so we have to understand that any rules we make about spirits and their qualities are subject to being regularly altered. There is also the consideration that each of us has within us a spirit as well, and that this personal spiritual dimension has a role to play in magic and religion as well.

Witchcraft has the unusual advantage that liturgy and magical crafts blend together to form a single praxis. Devotional invocations to the gods can also be magical spells meant to cause changes in the material world. As we will see when examining the other theories, witchcraft is a hybrid, combining many theories into a blended and practical perspective.

The second theory of magic is that magic is energy. An energy theory of magic proposes that all magical phenomena are caused by the generation and/or manipulation of energy. Some aspects of this theory are quite ancient, such as when magical energy is equated with mana or the Chinese martial arts concept of chi. Indian theories of kundalini energy would also be applicable to this theory.

However, most western practitioners of magic who use the energy theory of magic tend to perceive it as an analogy for electricity. Such a model will use terms like power, forces, colored lights, polarity, resonance, vibes, intensity, bolts, sparks, wave-forms, emitting, magnetic, electric, charging, loading, short-circuiting, zapping and blasting. We have all heard these terms being used at some point in a lively discussion of magic. All of them seem to describe a very physical phenomena that is mindless and easily applied to any medium, just like turning an electrical light switch on or off.

Those who are deeply committed to the theory of magic as energy don’t realize that there isn’t any quantifiable energy in their magic. Some might speculate that the actual energy is very subtle, capable of being sensed only by those who are sensitive to it or who are operating under an altered state of consciousness. This would be like someone stating that electricity only works if you are sensitive to it and trained to perceive it. Electricity is a verifiable energy, but magical energy seems to be more like a metaphor.

The third theory of magic is that magic is a psychological phenomenon. This theory has an unfortunate corollary that magic is based on mental fantasy and doesn’t really exist. It’s just a “head trip” for those who lack any capability in the real world. One could also easily say that everything is a mental phenomena or perception, and very little is actually objective or real other than the obvious physical world.

Human nature also has a mass psychology of culture, which would be studied under the discipline of sociological psychology, and it also has the phenomenon of language, which would be studied via psycho-linguistics. All of these disciplines have as their base certain ontological qualities, such as the psychology of perception and beliefs about the self and the nature of reality. All of them can be applied to a psychological definition of magic.

Psychological magic becomes a kind of “as if” premise to build up a system of beliefs that assist individuals in becoming empowered and independent, even if they are actually neither. It’s effective in the areas of re-programming the mind through positive affirmations and undergoing transformative ordeals through ritualized psycho-drama. Magic can be seen as a linguistic phenomena or a social phenomena, but beliefs about spirits or energies are downplayed. Deities are classified as archetypes, so they can be compared and qualitatively combined. For instance: all female goddesses are represented by a single universal female goddess, etc. Or: magical powers are just rhetorical devices that have no reality whatsoever.

A psychological theory of magic can have the unfortunate effect of devaluing the energies or the quality of spirit experienced in magic. Classifying deities and qualifying them as psychological archetypes makes them less real and seem more like just psychological phenomena, which is profoundly wrong in regards to the paradoxical nature of Deity and the human experience of it. Spirits appear dynamic and real to those who so regard them, and the energy of magic also seems very potent to those who work with it. Merely judging things as nothing more than the product of the mind seems to really omit the power and reality of these phenomena. The psychological theory of magic has its limits, like all theories, and must be used sparingly and precisely. This is also true of these other theories of magic as well. They can be useful to a point, but if used excessively, they can easily produce a lot of nonsense as well.

Of course we are talking about theories and not the real world of magic. People who work magic in the Western Mystery Tradition, which includes all of the folks practicing European Witchcraft, use a combination of all three systems. So when most people talk about magic, they refer to powers, spirits and psychological transformations combined in what they do. Sometimes this can get a bit confusing, especially if one of the models is being used too aggressively. Yet a balanced approach and a degree of admitted uncertainty can help us to understand something that does not readily lend itself to being understood.

Thoughts About the Energy Theory of Magic

I previously discussed the basic premise of the energy theory of magick - where it proposes that all magical phenomena are caused by the generation and/or manipulation of energy. I now propose to engage in a deeper discussion of the energy theory of magic. Some purists believe that there is no need to exhaustively describe or develop the concept of energy, as they will say “energy is energy.” They are happy to use the “cone of power” or witches dance to raise energy to do their magical work. However, I have always found this simple use of magical energy to be quite limiting. So I have begun to deliberately classify and analyze the practices and uses of magickal energy, and I have discovered many other structures that are quite useful.

We need to start with a practical definition, so we’ll look at the simplest method of generating or raising magical power, and that is the cone of power. The cone of power is a ritual where the participants are arranged in a male and female order around the perimeter of the magic circle, holding hands, they dance with a pivoting step around the circle in the direction of the sun, or clockwise - also known as deosil. The leader stands in the center, perhaps pivoting in the same direction. As they dance around the circle, they also chant some repetitive chant and the pace quickens steadily until they are nearly running. At the climax of the dance, the leader calls them to stop, the dancing immediately ceases and all of the dancers drop to the earth as if dead. The leader gathers the still swirling energy to the center of the circle and projects it to the zenith, so forming a cone. The cone of energy is built on the polarity of male and female coven members, and the dance is the sexual chase, where the men chase the women, who in turn chase the men - always pursuing and being pursed, but never actually achieving consumation until exhaustion intervenes. One could see the cone of power as just being energy, but I would see it as a masculine energy.

Why do I think that the cone of power is a masculine energy? There are many clues and the first is that the energy generated forms an obvious phallic shaped structure. Other clues are found in way that the energy is raised. It is produced through an incremental intensification of polarity, that the energy field is first raised and brought to a plateau of intensity, and then the energy is stimulated a second time and brought to a final climax. This is an unwitting model of the masculine sexual cycle, where the end of the rite produces a kind of “ejaculation” of energy. I think that a strong case can be made that the cone of power is masculine.

The cone of power is a sun-wise spiraling energy field that moves from the earth to the sky, and sends out a bolt of energy to a specified target when it reaches a critical climax. So if we can agree that the cone of power is masculine, then what would a comparative feminine force be like? Well, I would say that it would have to be exactly the opposite in all ways.

The hypothetical feminine energy would be a magnetic, anti-sun-wise or widdershins spiraling energy that moves from the earth to below the earth, forming a vortex. (Some might consider any movement in an anti-sun-wise or widdershins direction to be evil and would avoid doing so. Of course I consider this a superstition, and that energy being neutral should be able to go one way or the other without any associated bias or prejudice.) As the cone of power is polarized along the perimeter of the circle, a vortex would be polarized with a cross-roads of opposing watchtowers, and the cardinal directions would be joined together in the center of the circle. Where the cone of power represents a kind of fission, the vortex represents fusion. The cone of power reaches a climax and sends out a bolt of energy, the vortex achieves a kind of critical mass and sends out waves of transformative energy - just like dropping a pebble into a still pool of water. A cone of power typically requires some kind of banishment after it is used, but a vortex remains in place, almost indefinitely. One would seal a vortex with a sealing spiral instead of banishing it with a banishing spiral. A vortex can be reused indefinitely and hold or contain built up energies from working to working. A vortex structure that is used over a long period of time actually develops layers within layers and becomes increasingly more powerful over time, filling the temple with a potent aura.

To recap: I believe that magical power should be perceived as having a gender. Examples of genderized powers are the cone of power used by some Witches, which has a masculine gender, and the magnetic vortex, which is feminine. There are some assumptions built into these rituals used to raise energy, such as resonance and polarity. Yet by the admission of these additional properties, there are other considerations that could be made, and indeed I have followed them to build an entire magical system on this model. However, we need to carefully define what the theory of energy is so we don’t confuse it with something that it’s not - which is a real energy like electricity.

Clarification of the Energy Theory of Magic

First of all, magical power is not a real energy. It can’t be measured by scientists and wouldn’t represent a phenomenon characterized by the electromagnetic spectrum. When magical practitioners use the word “energy” or “power”, what, then, are they actually talking about? If it’s not some kind of measurable physical energy, then it’s functioning as a metaphor, and this is what I believe it is. That’s not to say that magical power is just imaginary, since things that exist in the mind also can be powerfully projected into the physical world. Other powerful metaphors spring to mind - such as “Liberty”, “Wisdom” and “Love.”

As we have stated, there are several models used to explain the effects of magic, and energy is just one of them. So the energy theory of magic is really a metaphor used to describe the effects of experiencing of magic. What is that effect? From my firsthand knowledge it is the intensity of the magic, how meaningful it is to the participants and perhaps that it causes some kind of transformation of consciousness. Physical phenomena may occur, but even if it doesn’t, then the magic still works. It could also be said that the physical phenomena observed may not be so unusual outside of the subjective frame of reference of those who experienced it. So what we have is that magical “energy” is a metaphor for the intensity, meaningfulness and degree of conscious transformation of the experience of magic. I think that we can possibly agree on this definition.

If magical power is a metaphor, then further qualifying that metaphor with other associated values does nothing more than define it in a detailed manner. Since it’s not a real measurable energy, doing this doesn’t invalidate the nature of that energy or misinform one about its qualities. It’s a tool, and a tool that is embellished in the art of magic is one that is made more effective and potent in the mind of the wielder. Therefore, if we say that the power has a certain color, elemental quality, gender, shape, or other associations, we are building up a more detailed metaphor of that magical power and producing a more effective tool.

How do witches raise energy? They raise it from their bodies - it comes from their physical exertions and their stimulated imaginations. The raising of energy is an “as if” device, since it assumes the energy model of magic and uses it to build a powerful affirmation that affects the practitioners and their environment. Resonance is the key to the energy model of magic, and it requires that ritual activities are cyclic, iterative and of increasing intensity. What this means is that when witches dance in a circle, their activity, the chanting, pace of movements and the overall intensity incrementally increases until a climax of action is achieved.

However, raising energy isn’t the only thing that is done, since I have observed a great deal of exuberance and activity that produced little or nothing later on. I have also met individuals and groups who don’t know what to do with their magical energy once it is raised. There are definitely other components involved when using the energy model of magic other than just raising energy.

The way that raised magical energy is made more real and readily perceived is to give it greater definition. So the energy is qualified by associating it with other symbolic things, like an invoking pentagram drawn in the air, or by tools, fetishes and other means. The energy can also be shaped by the circumference of the magic circle and also by other structures incorporated into the raised energy - such as defining a center, drawing lines of force (from the four cardinal points, or the points between them), and by the direction of the flow - whether deosil or widdershins. Of course, none of these additional considerations are required, but they make the magic work more effectively. Certainly a person could cut down a tree with a sharpened stone, but a steel axe, or even a chain saw would be more effective and efficient. I have learned through experience that when magical energy is qualified, the more detail that one applies to it, the better it works.

Once the magical energy is raised, then the most important action in a simple magical working is to imprint that raised, qualified and shaped magical energy. Imprinting can be as simple as using one’s will and desire to give a direction and volition to that power, in other words, setting a target. Without a target, the magical energy has no where to go once it is released. However, it’s better to fashion some kind of symbol of the desire or target of the magic that represents a bond between the witch, the target and that which is desired to happen. Often this bond is implicit, that is, it’s implied in the nature of the desire that is the object of the magic.

For instance, if one were performing a money spell, then the need for money would be the desire used to imprint the magical energy raised, so when released, it would aid the witch in gaining that objective, money. If the target is more precisely defined, then the possible outcome will also be more focused and precise. So just imprinting the raised energy often isn’t enough to guarantee results. Something additional is needed to define the objective of the magic in a very precise manner, and that brings us to the second most important action - building the magical link.

A magical link is a way of symbolizing the object of the magic, and it can be fashioned in a myriad of forms, from a gross link (poppet with bits of hair and nail parings or a cache bag filled with different herbs) to a symbolic link (a sign, sigil or talisman drawn on parchment, or a piece of jewelry). The link represents the work that the magical energy is to perform, and the link is applied to the raised magical energy through chanting specific words, showing the link to the power, drawing the chosen sign or sigil, or placing the link in a prominent place in the circle (on an altar, in the center of the circle, affixed to a pole or stang, etc.). The mind of the practitioner also performs this imprinting by associated the raised energy with the intended purpose of the rite (setting the intention), so the imprinting is also done, too.

In our money magic example above, we might be looking for a specific kind of job or opportunity. This could be symbolized in some fashion by creating a sigil or even cutting out a specific job ad from the newspaper and drawing a pentagram on it with a green colored pen (green for U.S. money) and also one’s magical name or symbol, so it becomes personally identified (a link). This item is then held in an incense censor, charged, and then used as a magical link to help imprint the magical power. The specific job ad itself would no longer be important, because it now symbolizes a means to an end. One would chant the words “money” or other appropriate words (“opportunity”, “growth”, “security”), and perhaps display the link or even burn it in a cauldron - sending it into the air to be absorbed by the raised power.

The final action is to exteriorize the raised, qualified, shaped and imprinted energy, and this is done through a second round of resonance activity ending with an even greater climax. The energy is sent out of the circle resembling the shape through which it was formulated, and so it assumes the form of a dart or a wave, or some other geometric structure, depending on the shaping qualification that was used. Some groups perform a spiral dance, or a deosil round, others choose to go widdershins to unlock the power. All of these techniques use resonance to bring the power to final climactic finish.

The energy and its associated link is then released to do its work, but the practitioner doesn’t just sit around and hope the magic works. Instead, he or she goes out and performs all of the mundane steps required to achieve the objective, knowing that the magical spell will give greater aid and luck than what would ordinarily be experienced without it. In the case of the money spell, the witch would commence with a very rigorous job search regimen, and he or she would be open to whatever presented itself, showing the maximum level of flexibility and openness to the effect of the magic spell. Such a powerful, optimistic and relentless pursuit of one’s objective is almost certainly met with success. The magical working is only a part of the overall ambition, but its effect can be quite astonishing and seemingly miraculous.

These are some of my thoughts about magical power and how it can be used. As there are other models of magic, there are other considerations and practices that can be performed. We can also get very deep into the methodology of shaping and qualifying magical energy, too. My personal repertoire of ritual magick includes over 24 different basic energy structures, using the four watchtowers, four angles, and the three points in the center of the circle - the nadir, zenith and mid-point - eleven points in all. We will be visiting these other models in future articles and also examining other structures in the energy theory of magic.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Immersion and Ritual Magic

The classical image of the Renaissance magus invoking angels or demons is a cultural icon in the mind of the general public. We can easily imagine the magus standing in his magic circle, robed in beautifully adorned consecrated vestments - a figure of commanding authority. The magic circle is decorated with strange sigils, characters and words of power. There are many lamps and candles of the art producing a brilliant light to dispel tenebrous shadows lurking at the fringes, and many braziers producing a prodigious volume of incense smoke to ensure sanctity and purity. The magus is armed with talismans and magical weapons, and he is reciting powerful incantations in a barbarous tongue, urging some hapless spirit to manifest with exhortations and even threats. The place where this spirit is to materialize is outside of the magus’ protective circle, typically in a triangle of evocation. The magus performs all of his magic inside the magic circle and never ventures from it during the entire period of invocation, constriction, binding and finally, the license to depart.

The magus is warded from the contagion of spiritual influences and imposes his will through the power and authority of his Deity. He will either command the spirit to appear in the triangle to do his bidding in the material world, or he will use a shew stone or crystal ball to scry into the world of that spirit, interrogating it for information and insights. Nowhere does the magician even contemplate stepping outside of his protective circle, for such an act would be disastrous to him. The magician performs his magic in a kind of sanitary “clean room” and never really has any actual contact with the spirits that he evokes, whether physically or psychically. The only exception would be the summoning and materialization of his Holy Guardian Angel, which becomes his advanced familiar spirit, guiding, teaching and aiding the magus in all his endeavors.

The modern practice of ceremonial magic uses this same kind of approach for the invocation of spirits, whether the magician in question is Jewish, Christian or even Neopagan. (There are, of course, exceptions to this observation. Some practitioners of reconstructed magic, pagan diabolism and Thelemic magic do not even use a magic circle. However, much of the literature would appear to advocate this approach.) Many of the books currently in print continue to promote the exclusive isolation of the ceremonial magician with those entities that he summons and constrains. It would seem that the kind of magic that this tradition advocates is one where the spirit world is perceived as negative and inimical to the sanity and rarified spiritual foundation of the magician. One could argue that this isolation is for the magician’s protection from the deceit, delusion and even madness caused by the wiles of the demonic spirits that he commands. Yet it appears to pervade the entire tradition whether invoking demons or even angels. Ceremonial magicians seem to be afraid of the spirit world and they don’t like to traffic with the spirits that they would command or extort favors from. I guess you could say that some things haven’t changed much in the last five centuries.

So from this perspective, the spirit world is considered malefic, dangerous and even perilous to the soul of the practicing magician. This is despite the fact that it is filled with angels and aspects of the Godhead, as well as demons and other spirits. This is the only reason that explains why the ceremonial magician engages in such a volume of praxis that is meant to protectively isolate him. He is given the power to command and constrain spirits, but not to open himself to those same spirits.

As a witch and a pagan, I have found this whole approach to magic to be strange and alien. Like everyone else, I know the popular myth of the ceremonial magician, and I find it fascinating. Yet in all the years that I have worked magic, I have strived not only to engage the spirit world, but to enter into it and have direct experiences with many of the entities that populate it. I have not been possessed by demons and I have not been haunted by terrible visions or spirit induced nightmares. I have, instead, found that the spirit world contains a great deal of intuitive wisdom, power and mystery. I have learned that it is the source of all inspiration, the place where the Gods and ancestors dwell, and a container for all that is essential in life. It is a world that exists in the same place as our material world, but it’s separated from our world through our perceptions and our mind-state. Anyone can learn to enter this world, and for those practicing an earth-based religion whose philosophical base is an intimate spirituality, it’s a requirement.

We who are witches and pagans in the post modern age have no problem working magic and directly engaging with our Gods, Goddesses and spirits of all persuasions and origins. We enter the spirit world and contact these entities directly. They influence our lives in a powerful and positive manner, and they inspire and teach us the greater mysteries. When we set our magic circle and perform our rites, whether liturgical or magical, we open ourselves to all of our chosen pantheon of entities and invite them to work at our side, helping and guiding us, or celebrating our monthly or seasonal festivals. We make offerings to these entities and we revere them - sharing with them our bounty and our joy. And I might add, that chosen pantheon of Gods and Goddesses revers and protects us in return.

The magic circle used by witches and pagans is meant to represent a boundary between this world and the spirit world, but witches and pagans are on the inside, and their wards are set to keep out the profane and the inimical forces which reside in the material world. Even if the magic circle is dispensed with altogether and a grove is used instead, there is still the sense and expectation of directly engaging with the other world, whose barrier is passed when certain rites are performed and a certain mind-state is achieved. To a witch or pagan, the sacred place of worship and magic needs only an altar and a boundary of some kind, whether actual or imagined.

So how can this approach to magic and the spirit world be reconciled with the approach taken by the ceremonial magician? The answer is simple and also astonishing. They are two very different manners of working magic and they are completely incompatible. What this means is that witches and pagans would find it difficult if not impossible to work ceremonial magic as ceremonial magicians do, and ceremonial magicians would find it incomprehensible to work magic like witches and pagans do. Their perspectives about the spirit world are so different as to make them completely irreconcilable.

Now I know that some folks reading this article will object to the implacable boundary that I have placed between the practice of witchcraft and ceremonial magic. Certainly, there are witches who practice ceremonial magical rites and there are some witches who consider themselves ceremonial magicians. However, I have not met anyone who considers himself an exclusive practitioner of ceremonial magic and who also practices witchcraft magic. It would seem that to them, practicing witchcraft would be something of a denigration of their art - a kind of slumming or “dumbing down”, as it were.

If there are witches who practice ceremonial magic, then what exactly are they practicing? How can these two irreconcilable practices be merged into a single discipline, when the whole basis of witchcraft magic has such a different perspective. Another question would be “Why bother with ceremonial magic altogether - what could it possible gain one?” Perhaps the answer to this conundrum is found in how I evolved as both witch and magician.

I am a fully practicing witch who glorifies in the mysteries of the earth - these are my food, drink and my inspiration! Yet I also practice forms of what could be called high magic as well. How do I do this? Do I work two completely different systems of magic and ignore one while I work the other? Absolutely not! Since I did not have the benefit of learning to work magic in one of the popular ceremonial magical lodges, I had to cherry pick the ceremonial magical lore and integrate it into the witchcraft magic that I practiced. I did belong to the OTO for several years, but since they don’t actually teach or promote ceremonial magic as a spiritual discipline, it probably doesn’t count. Also, I had already established my magical system long before becoming a member of that body, so they wouldn’t have been able to influence me much anyway.

I did this since it was the only way that I could produce a system that worked for me. I wouldn’t abandon the magic that I worked as a witch and I couldn’t see the importance of working exclusively as a ceremonial magician. So I produced a hybrid of ceremonial magic performed within a witchcraft magical base. I have also met and talked with other witches and pagans who have taken a similar approach to practicing high or ceremonial magic, so I know that I am not alone in taking such a path.

This hybrid creature, combining witchcraft and ceremonial magic not only worked, but caused me to forge a whole new paradigm in the practice of magic. Like a witch, I entered into the spirit world and experienced it without any barriers or limitations - without any fear. However, I engaged fully in crafting rituals to perform elemental, talismanic magic and even theurgy. I adapted the rituals as I found them in source works about the Golden Dawn and authored by such writers as Israel Regardie, Aleister Crowley, William Grey and numerous others. Once I had this new system developed, there was nothing that I could not magically do that ceremonial magicians could do. But the base of my workings was still solidly in the witchcraft arena. When I set the magic circle, it was to fully engage in all of the spirits and powers that I generated in my magical rituals.

Now you might ask yourself, what is the difference between what I am doing and what a ceremonial magician is doing? The answer is found in the simple term - “immersion.” Instead of warding myself from the spirit world and its denizens, I am engaging directly with them, and in fact, I am even entering their world to accomplish this task.

You might also ask how I was able to do this feat without getting possessed or terribly affected by the spirits that I invoked or evoked? Well, that is one aspect of the magic which is a feature in both the witchcraft that I learned and also the manner of working magic taught by Aleister Crowley. I assumed the godhead before doing anything magical, and that protected and gave me the power to deal with the effects of the spirit world without being endangered or spiritually damaged.

A witch would call assuming the godhead, performing a “drawing down”, and in this particular case, I performed the draw myself to assume my personal aspect of the godhead. I didn’t do it just for the sake of communing with the traditional godhead, as practiced in a witches’ coven. I did it to empower my magical rituals. And in fact, it is a feature of the kind of magic that I perform as a regular part of my magical discipline.

The magic that I work uses the techniques of immersion, that is, I use ritual mechanisms to enter into the spirit world. I also assume the godhead of my personal pagan Deity, and this helps to keep me protected from any unwanted influences or harm as I enter the spirit world. However, I am still able to have direct encounters with all of the spirits and entities that I would invoke or summon, and they do have a powerful, transformative and constructive effect on me. Where the ceremonial magician is isolated from the spirit world, and therefore, kept from being truly challenged or powerfully affected, I have no such barriers - and I believe that my magic is superior to that of the ceremonial magician because of this difference.

Of course, this is just my humble opinion, but it has been developed over time through my experiences in meeting, talking and even working magic with many ceremonial magicians. In fact, I don’t even call the magic I work high magic or ceremonial magic. Instead I call it “ritual magic”, and it is as different from what passes for ceremonial magic as one could find. It’s also a perfect system of magic for witches and pagans who would like to work a form of magic that takes them beyond what is basically practiced as candle magic, herbal cache or poppet magic, or simple energy raising. So there is a whole system of magical practice that you can perform and not get caught in the trap of the conceit of ceremonial magic.

My friends who are ceremonial magicians have said to me when examining my rituals that they “stink of witchcraft.” I know that they are actually remarking on my peculiar practice of ritual instead of ceremonial magick. I have also found that comment to be a badge of honor!

I will be writing more articles in the future where I will get into the specific practices and techniques of ritual magic. I will show you how it works and why I find it so useful and powerful. There is definitely a future for this type of magick, since I have found that it has no limits and can be used to create rituals to do nearly anything magickal.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Myth of the Magus - Initiatic Cycle of the Great Work


“--And my ending is despair
Unless I be relieved by prayer;
Which pierces so, that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.”

From The Tempest - Prospero’s Epilogue - W. Shakespeare

Thus Prince Prospero delivers his epilogue at the end of the play, The Tempest. He gives himself up to fate and final judgement, hoping for a reprieve. We can only feel sympathy for him, for he used his formidable magical knowledge and powers to redress the terrible injustice done to him by his brother. Yet he is still guilty of being a magician and commanding the elements through his familiar spirit, Ariel, whether or not the outcome is all for the good. Prospero knows this to be true, hence his acknowledgment of guilt at the very moment of victory. The puzzling reason for this guilt and shame is that it represents the uneasiness which Renaissance culture had for the deliberate practice of magic. Times have changed somewhat today, and perhaps your average person would greet such victories, even those won by trickery and treachery, as shamelessly justified. Even so, there is price to be paid for using questionable powers that has its echo even in our present time. We are still expected to believe that ill gotten gains, whether justified or not, can only result in some kind of catastrophic loss. We see this motif constantly reoccurring in the news, movies, music and novels.

Prospero is a fictitious character, likely modeled on a real historical individual known as John Dee, Shakespeare’s own contemporaneous countryman. However, Prospero’s story is not John Dee’s story, and their similarities are hardly more than superficial, except where their legendary occupation is concerned. Prospero is a characterization of the archetypal magus, the man of power and mystery. For Prospero, magic has served a wondrous but costly purpose, even though he has championed himself as a seeker of truth, justice and the instrument of God’s will. Such was Prospero’s piety and vanity that he attempted always to be above diabolical temptation. Yet we can only interpret this as a man driven by guilt associated with all things magical, since magic is the reputed instrument of heresy and apostasy. There are, of course, the terrible lessons of other great legendary magicians, such as Simon Magus and Faust. These are sobering stories because of their uncompromising moral lesson, but they are a Christian affectation rather than a denigration of the magician. The magus is an ancient mythic archetype, one who is seemingly timeless and steeped in mystery and miraculous wonder. His fall from grace has been recent and his subsequent redemption more recent still.

Like many other themes, the myth of magus is one that has had a long history of relevance and reoccurrence. From the earliest founders of today’s religions and perhaps even long before that in the shrouded mists of earliest times, to our present century, the myth of the magus has been told and retold with many different personages and with slightly different outcomes. The only other mythic cycle that has as venerable an age and power is the hero’s journey. Yet the myth of the magus contains within it the hero’s journey as one of the points in the rising and falling fortunes of the great magician. However, this mythic cycle has such a compelling power and relevancy today that merely calling onself a magician has underlying repercussions. Therefore, as occultists and practitioners of magic, we should carefully examine the mythic cycle of the magus, understanding and perhaps reinterpreting the generic fate for ourselves; since by calling ourselves magicians, we unwittingly invoke that destiny.

The best presentation of the myth of the magus, and perhaps the only one, was expounded upon by the eminent scholar Elizabeth M. Butler. Her book, The Myth of the Magus, published by Cambridge University Press (1993), is an exhaustive examination of this historical and fictional character, the Magus. More importantly, she has identified the mythic theme in its archetypal formulation. Like the stages in the hero’s journey identified by Joseph Campbell, Butler has clearly revealed the stages in the life cycle of the magus, showing how all of the legendary and historical stories of the various magicians in history have more or less adhered to this pattern. Since Butler originally wrote this book in 1948, her last two subjects in chronological succession were Blavatsky and Rasputin. Her study seems to lack the more modern and recent additions to this famous group. She didn’t examine the life histories and legends of such individuals as Aleister Crowley and Gerald B. Gardner, and she did not discuss other individuals, such as Hockley or Mathers, who although obscure, would have been known to her. In our present time we have such occultists as Dion Fortune, Franz Bardon, Doreen Valiente, Alex Sanders and Michael Aivanhov Omran as more recent representations of the magus. Other individuals are already in the process of making themselves into a legend, and may also join this prestigious group once they have shed their mortal coil and myth replaces historical fact.

While we could rehash the details of the lives of magicians in the West, both legendary and historical, this work has already been brilliantly done for us in Butler’s wonderful book. I could also attempt to extend her work by doing a similar study of those members of group that she omitted or who were unknown to her. I will refrain from doing so at this time. I will instead limit this article to discussing the basic pattern of the myth of the magus and how it impacts those who study and practice magic today. This is something that has not been discussed, and I feel that it should be carefully examined.

Ten Stages of the Mythic Pattern of the Magus

In Butler’s book, The Myth of the Magus, we find the ten stages of the mythic pattern in the introduction, succinctly outlined and occupying a mere two pages. This pattern is used throughout the book as a tool to examine the various legends and history of magicians, beginning with Zoroaster and the Magi (as the priestly cast of the Persian empire), and proceeding down through the ages with Moses, Solomon, Dionysus, Pythagoras, Apollonious of Tyana, Jesus, Simon Magus, St. Cyprian, Faust, St. Germain, Cagliostro, and numerous others. Each life is compared to this pattern, and amazingly, most if not all form a perfect fit, proving its worth.

In addition, Butler has noted that a degradation in the pattern occurred after the west became Christian, and that the magus was transformed into a fraud and a diabolic antagonist, reaching the height of this fallen state with legend of Faust. This is because magic itself became an offense against Christian doctrine, and that by the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation, it was perceived as being solely diabolical and achieved through the artifice of a pact with the devil - an agreement that offered one’s soul for the price of questionable knowledge and power. This is not to say that there were no magicians who were righteous and pious in their practices, in fact most intelligent men during that time at least discretely examined and studied occultism and magic, if not practiced it in secret. However, Christianity had judged the magus to be of questionable moral character, and this stigma stuck with him for centuries, until the advent of the 18th century and the age of enlightenment, when orthodoxy began to give way to science.

By the end of the 19th century the magus had undergone another transformation, and had become the hosts of the secret chiefs and mahatmas that populated the organizations based on Masonry and the Theosophical Society. The magus had become the super-human ascended master, ageless and untiring in his work as the spiritual custodian of humanity. One could see that the role of the magus had become even more grandiose than what he had been in antiquity. (The one exception being perhaps Rasputin, whose legacy has not yet been revived and redeemed.)

However, the pattern endured despite the fall of the magus and his subsequent elevation. One could consider this pattern a model for the great work of any and all those initiates who take upon themselves the practice of magic and the path of the magician. There are indeed pitfalls in this mythic pattern, being a mixture of triumph and tragedy. We should note that this pattern is archetypal, and therefore, subject to our interpretation. Some parts of it are epic in their expression, and other parts are decidedly ritualistic - we will examine these and note how they can be applied.

Perhaps the most important quality to the mythic pattern of the magus is that he must no longer be amongst the living, having translated his existence from the historical world to the world of legend and myth. Even despite the sometimes voluminous historical record for some of the later individuals who are a part of this mythic pattern, history gets either rewritten or ignored altogether, and legends and stories, even completely apocryphal become associated with the magus’ revised history. They are seemingly lifted out of history to become wholly mythical and legendary, and even their reported death is conveniently forgotten and overlaid with a godlike resurrection and multiple reported appearances, occurring long after the reported time of their demise. Popular imagination takes over and rewrites their history, and there is little left of the original person when this task is completed.

We can see this having affected the legendary lives of such historically recent individuals as Aleister Crowley, Franz Bardon and Alex Sanders. Even those who knew them and have published their memories seem to have little effect on the legend making process. Ultimately, urban legend, superstition and even imagined stories get circulated about these individuals, obscuring and erasing their historical presence, until only the myth of the magus remains. They become prophets, masters, secret chiefs and mahatmas, and their mortal history is reconstituted into that of a religious avatar, filled with the numinous powers of their gods, miraculous accomplishments and holy writings; they are then adopted to become some saintly personage in a cult or occult organization. Their failings and personal disasters are conveniently forgotten, and only their superhuman role and accomplishments are left to posterity.

So let us examine this pattern and see what we can learn from the process. Perhaps we may see a way to elevate ourselves, or to avoid the more terrible fate that awaits the magus as he walks his path between history and legend.

The ten stages in the mythic cycle of the magus has been encapsulated by Butler in the following manner. I have distilled her words and added some of my own observations. (See The Myth of the Magus, p. 2 - 3)

1. Supernatural or mysterious origin of the magus. The circumstances of the birth of the magus must be either completely obscured, unknown or shown to be remarkable in some manner. The mythic qualities that replace the humble origin are that the magus is of divine origin, semi-divine (half human and half god), royalty, diabolic, strange or mysterious. The less that is known about the historical birth and childhood of the magus, the more mysterious and intriguing he will seem to others.

2. Portends at birth that vouch for or prove the supernatural nature of the magus. Often there is a catastrophic event at or immediately following the birth of the magus, or an auspicious sign, such as a new star shining on the birth place, etc. Prophetic announcements of the birth of the magus are accompanied by a kind of spiritual anticipation.

3. Perils menacing his infancy, from evil wishers, members of the status quo or manifestations of the powers of evil. These are a kind of lesser trials that test and build the character of the magus. There are obvious obstacles that the magus in training must overcome in order to realize his true vocation and identity.

4. Some kind of initiation or transformation occurs or is described - this may be into the mysteries of the cult that the magus founds, or into occult or even diabolic wisdom. There is a period of preparation, consisting of tests, austerities, temptations and other ordeals. The magus passes these tests with unreserved ease, displaying the beginning of legendary powers and abilities beyond the expected normal level of achievement.

5. Far distant wanderings - the magus seeks to acquire and/or spread wisdom. The voyage may be supernatural and include a descent into the underworld and an ascent into heaven. In later times, the voyages represented the magus seeking to know all things, to accumulate all knowledge, and often brings with it meetings with remarkable individuals. The journey into the underworld and the ascension into the domain of angels and gods may occur in the middle of the magus’s life (as a kind of climax) or at the end, representing a kind of apotheosis.

6. A magical contest occurs, usually derived from ritual, but it can also be established in reality. It is the point where life and legend meet, mingle and become indistinguishably one. This may also be represented as numerous and miraculous achievements, even the ability to raise the dead and overturn the natural physical laws governing life and the world. This event can also be represented by the greatest achievement in the life of the magus, such as producing prophetic writings, utterances or teachings that become his signature legacy.

7. A trial or persecution. This generally occurs because of the contest or the magus’s greatest achievement, where the forces of evil, orthodoxy or the status quo seek to reduce or eliminate the magus’s accomplishments. The magus always wins the contest, but then loses the trial or the persecution, which has the affect of bringing him down or formulating his doom.

8. A last scene, of a certain nature occurs (although it is not required) just prior to the magus’s final translation from life to death. It may be sacrificial or sacramental, a prophetic farewell, confession of sins and repentance. This stage became more important with the legend of Jesus and his last supper, and grew to larger occurrence in medieval times and later. It may be literary (as with Aleister Crowley’s written confessions) or it may be an oral restatement of belief. Repentance may not be required if the magus is judged to be righteous and good, or represented as acting through the will of some god.

9. A violent or mysterious death, followed by a descent into the underworld. In some cases the death is quiet and unremarkable, or even unnoticed by history. In some cases it may be an execution by the authorities, but death is only the beginning of the legendary occupation of the magus.

10. A resurrection and/or ascension into heaven. Reports of individuals meeting and seeing the magus occur long after his supposed death, yet these reports are often made by spurious or delusional individuals, grief stricken followers or are completely fictional. In modern times these reports have been replaced by a kind of literary revisionism and renewed popularity, sometimes even greater than the popularity that the individual had while alive.

While it may not be required that a reputed magus pass through all of these stages, one can usually identify a variation of some if not mostly all of them. The magus experiences a super human rise in powers and abilities and a corresponding fall that typically but temporarily ends their career.

Aleister Crowley lived out his last years in humble surroundings and quietly passed away, his legacy hardly noted and his works seemingly lost to disinterest and obscurity. Yet due to the work of his followers, his legacy today has a greatly renewed popularity, that he has become a prophet in Thelemic organizations, such as the O.T.O., and his writings are treated by some as holy writ, most notably his Liber Al vel Legis, or the Book of the Law. I would not be surprised if Crowley’s troubled history was rewritten in time, expunging from it anything that would detract from his mission and status as a prophet of the New Aeon.

This is also true of Franz Bardon, and is beginning to occur with Gerald B. Gardner, Alex Sanders and Doreen Valiente, since the religious or occult organizations that they founded continue to grow and thrive. In time these individuals will also be legendary and acquire a kind of immortality and omniscience they never had while alive.

However, this pattern is troubling to those who aspire to be magicians, since few would want to experience the tragedy and the doom that appears to be a required part of this mythic pattern. There are other ways of interpreting these stages so as to mitigate the more harsh or punishing aspects of this pattern. A rule of thumb is to understand that the higher one climbs on the ladder of fame and fortune, the greater the fall when it occurs. We can also realize that what usually precipitates the terrible fall is that the magus’s kingdom is found out to be a house of cards, that it is supported by fraud and hypocrisy. If magicians can ensure that they build their magical empire out of rationally supported doctrines, documented and properly referenced teachings and corroborated claims they may not have to experience such a calamitous fall. Yet the world is governed by entropy, and this is true in the works and pursuits of individuals and groups - all things fail, and all individuals pass from the living to the dead. As mortal individuals we will experience a failure of vitality and energy, and our works will be passed on as a legacy or as a forgettable collection of prior belongings. How we establish our works in life will greatly effect how our legacy of thoughts, beliefs, opinions and practices will be judged by posterity.

Certainly, those who practice magic and act as the magus in the world are very special individuals. We don’t need to emphasize this distinction, except to note that actually everyone is special in their own particular manner. From birth to death we are in a constant war with the powers of orthodoxy and the status quo, who would suppress our beliefs and practices, even in a so called free society such as ours.

The most important stages in the mythic cycle of the magus is the transformative initiation and the travels to distant and exotic locations. The transformation is particularly important because it incorporates the hero’s journey projected into the unconscious mind and the domains of the spirit world. The magical contest is nothing more than all of the achievements that one has assembled together representing the larger than life cycle that the spiritual seeker and magus has undergone. The trial and persecution can be nothing more than the status quo and the opinions of authority that are arrayed against the propagation of the practice of magic. What we do in life, and the legacy that we leave behind will either burnish our legend in the times after our personal epoch have passed, or sink it altogether into mediocrity and oblivion.

The instrument in our present age for notoriety and for the communication of one’s beliefs and practices is the media. To write and to promote one’s self, to pass on peerless ideas and thoughts, and to get others to appropriate and use them is the one true path that we have to gaining immortality and legendary status. Many fail and only a few succeed. Yet the mythic pattern is always there, touching our lives and powerfully influencing how we live and what we do with the time that we are allotted. Great and unique ideas will live on, and trendy and mediocre accomplishments, however popular they may seem today will fade away and be forgotten. That should be our guiding wisdom as we progress into our future vocations and do what we have to do in order to be remembered and perhaps even become the stuff of legends and myths.

We now know the challenge, and the mythic pattern is still alive and fully functioning. May you find the way to immortality and lasting fame, avoid the terrible fall, and not leave behind a huge social impact crater in the process.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius