Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thoughts and Rebuttals About the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal

I have recently read some comments that I found listed in some online groups where individuals have taken certain umbrage to my postings about the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal. These were written by pundits who have questioned why a pagan and a witch like me would bother to master and perform the Abramelin ordeal, even if I were using a lunar based cycle. Some of the comments seem to indicate that my previous articles have either not been read or they have been misunderstood. There is also the supposed problem that I couldn’t possibly be qualified to do this kind of work because I am not an adherent of the appropriate kind of creed. They wonder why I would bother to invoke angels, goetic demons and supposedly work with the grimoires that use them? What is the purpose to this kind of magick if I am not part of the over-all spiritual and theological domain that drives the old grimoires and their systems of magick? One would consider either a monotheist, Christian Diabolist, follower of the Left Hand Path or a deeply chthonic pagan to be the obvious practitioner of these kinds of workings. Am I mixing systems because I am confused, deranged or just plain sloppy?

Of course, adherents of Thelema, which is a nominally neopagan creed, are encouraged to make use of the old grimoires and to some extent, so are chaos magicians, who use any creed or system that works for them. Yet these same individuals think that Wiccans should stay away from such dark magick as “goety”, perhaps to protect their fragile nerves or over active imaginations. Of course this opinion flies in the face of the fact that classical witchcraft has lionized the reclamation of chthonic deities for over forty years.

I have also had the temerity to state my beliefs about the ethical use of goetic demons and I have criticized others for making use of the infernal princes in their workings (such as Lucifuge, Beelzebub, Ashtoreth, Satan and others). Am I perhaps being a bit hypocritical in stating my opinions and then seemingly contradicting them with my actual magickal practices? In short, some have questioned whether I am behaving like some kind of moralizing and narrow minded fool who is squeamish about anything that involves dark magick. Some have also said that I had a lot of gall to criticize the use of the Grimoirum Verum, but then greedily appropriate the magick squares found in book four of the Book of Abramelin. Some have questioned my sincerity, others feel that I have unusual Christian biases in my work, causing me to bounce back and forth in an inconsistent fashion between those things that I like and others that I feel are “evil.”

The articles that I have previously written, which can be found in this bog, contain the answers to all of these questions and criticisms. For the previous nine months I have patiently, consistently and carefully written up my thoughts on these topics. I believe that I have presented a very thorough basis for what I do and why I do it. So, to answer these various pundits and explain why I actually bothered to perform a lunar based version of the Abramelin Ordeal, I have decided to write up this article and hopefully put them to rest once and for all. I will also quote some of the more important past articles where I have made my opinions unambiguously clear.

Let’s tackle the first criticism, which is why I perform theurgy to summon angels, particularly if I am a professed witch and a pagan. I have answered this question in an earlier article, where I have expounded that angels and demons are part of the matrix of the union of being, which some have labeled as God, but which I refuse to name or identify. Instead, I just consider it an unnamed quality, allowing me to avoid the hazards of seeing the spiritual world as a battle ground between good and evil, light and dark. I believe this quote from that article pretty much states how I perceive things.

“Angels are a kind of godhead, similar to the gods that I venerate as a pagan witch. These beings are the only faces that the unknown and unknowable union of all being can possess, so their use and invocation is both profound and ultimately necessary. To practice theurgy then is to extend the liturgy and practice of a witch and pagan, and it doesn’t contradict those practices, but instead makes them all the more greater and powerful.”

If I am able to explain why a witch and a pagan would work magick using angels, then I must also be prepared to explain why I would traffic with goetic demons. I do not consider them infernal spirits or necessarily evil or bad, just powerful entities that represent dark magick, the kind of magick that can cause dramatic changes or even destroy things or people. I have taken two paragraphs from this next article because they explain my point rather succinctly.

“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.”

“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.”

Some have rightly speculated that the term demon is actually a mistranslation of the Greek word daimon (plural diamones), which means basically “supernatural spirit between the gods and man” with no other connotations. However, sorcerers and magicians in antiquity did distinguish between spirits that were good and malevolent. We also have the examples of the Akkadians who spent an enormous amount of effort in cataloging these various spirits, including many evil spirits. It may also be possible that the combination of influences from the Akkadians, and later Persians, may have powerfully influenced Jewish religious beliefs to such a degree that they adopted and adapted these classifications, thus deriving their own system, which ended up in Jewish magickal writings and practices. Jewish grimoires written in Hebrew seemed to incorporate the use of demons and infernal princes into their workings before such spirits were used in Christian grimoires. I may use the term demons and daimones (or Latin daemones) interchangeably, but I am denoting those entities associated with the Jewish “unredeemed” spirits, and the Christian demonic or goetic spirits.

While I believe that goetic demons as defined above are useful but not essential to the practice of ritual magick, I don’t share the same opinion about the infernal hierarchy that is associated with them. While it is quite possible that these spirit names are corrupted versions of archaic godheads, some of whom may even be lost to time and history, their association with Jewish and Christian diabolism makes them quite difficult to reclaim without any negative associations clinging to them. Since the late middle ages these entities have been considered powerfully evil spirits inimical to the Godhead and humanity. I believe that any effort aimed at reclaiming them would have to fight against an enormous current of popular belief and Christian doctrine. I suspect that such a battle would ultimately be lost, due to the centuries of time and the millions of Christian followers whose beliefs and faith would have to countermanded.  This has to do with the power of the Christian “egregore” or group mind, something that any practitioner of magick should be very much aware of. However, my reasons for rejecting the infernal hierarchy are based on occult philosophy and the following two paragraphs below adequately explain my reasons for that rejection.

“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.”

My reasons for putting together a lunar based Abramelin ordeal is because for a witch and pagan, the lunar cycle is used for nearly all magickal workings, both material and spiritual. This does not mean that as a pagan I ignore the solar cycle, it’s just that the lunar cycle lends itself to the operation of the mysteries of the deeper self and the solar cycle represents the mysteries of the changing earth. I discovered that working material based magick using the specific lunation cycle, lunar mansions, phases and zodiacal signs of the moon produce the best results. So I basically assumed that the lunar cycle could also be used for larger ordeals.

The next two paragraphs are from the article in which I examined the nature of the Abramelin ordeal, where I state that I just couldn’t arrange the time to perform the original rite, either in the French (6 months) or German versions (18 months). I decided to consider other alternatives, and came to the conclusion that maybe a lunar based cycle might be a more sensible solution. First, I state that for me lunar based magick is used for material based magick.

“Recently, I have been examining the power and potential of lunar based magic and its associated mysteries. I put the entire Elemental and Talismanic Elemental systems of magic squarely into the matrix of lunar based magic.”

Then I attempted to see how the lunar cycle could be used to build an Abramelin-like ordeal. The structure and time period seemed to be workable and able to be integrated into my busy life.

“Yet this ordeal is decidedly solar based, since each phase is six months in length, and there are three phases. I began to ponder that since I am neither Jewish nor Christian, and since my faith is an earth-based spirituality, why would I follow a solar cycle for this kind of ordeal? Why not a lunar based cycle? Since a lunar cycle takes only 28 days to complete, then breaking it in half and building an ordeal that would cover three phases or one and a half cycles of the moon would be quite appropriate. Like the traditional Abramelin working, there would be three phases, but instead of using an annual sacred holiday, like the Passover as the starting point, I would start at a point in the lunar cycle that would connote “beginnings,” and that would most certainly be the new moon.”

Whether one considers my assumptions above to be questionable and flawed since they seem to go against what is traditional for this working is irrelevant to me. The fact that I have performed this ordeal and successfully obtained the same result should be proof enough that my theory was correct. What this means is that an adherence to the old grimoires is not necessary and that new directions can and probably should be developed. This does not mean that the old traditional methods are either wrong or out dated, all it does is dispel the myth that the old grimoires have any kind of monopoly on advanced magickal lore and practice.

I am including the note that I attached to my analysis of the lunar based ordeal to answer the accusation that my primary purpose for performing the Abramelin ordeal, even in its newer form, was to acquire use of the magick squares and command the infernal spirits. The primary purpose of performing the Abramelin ordeal is the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, whom I also refer to as my higher self, augoeides or spiritual genius. That is the only really important reason for doing this ordeal as far as I am concerned. I did choose twenty-two of the squares to consecrate and use in my magick, but all of them are mostly for the gaining of knowledge, such as obtaining visions, etc. They are also consecrated and activated by the HGA, who assumes the role of the spiritual arbiter in all things magickal. I have found that many of the squares are useless, affording the magician with powers and abilities that could be easily supplanted by off-the-shelf technology. Other squares grant one with powers and abilities that are unethical or just plain absurd. Knowledge is my main conjuring quest these days, since all of my material based operations only require a simple earth based magick. Earth magick is more easily achieved than evocation and doesn’t usually require conjuring spirits.

The following two paragraphs pretty much state what I think of the infernal servitors that one is supposed to have power over as well as the magick squares. These issues were dealt with in an article on the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal.

“A note about the demons and their servitors: In the original book there are an ancillary set of tasks that consisted of summoning and mastering the unredeemed spirits, namely the demonic kings and their dukes, and that these same demons gave servitors who operated the many magic squares. It is my belief that summoning demons and gaining servitors from them is magically superfluous. This is just my opinion, of course, yet since I have rewritten the entire ordeal then I can also modify the manner that the magical squares are deployed. Some have found this linkage between the magic squares and the demons troubling, and some have sought to white-wash or explain it away as some kind of cathartic ordeal. Yet in all versions of the book, it is quite plain that the purpose of invoking and manifesting the HGA is to gain mastery over the demons, to seek from them servitors to perform tasks directly, or to use them to empower and activate the magic squares. It’s also possible to seek from the HGA or the demons additional magic squares. The magic of the Abramelin system is powered by demonic spirits existing in a rigid spiritual hierarchy, even if they are completely dominated and mastered by the magician through the assistance of the Godhead and the HGA.

It’s my belief that the HGA, who is like a personal godhead for the magician, can do all of these tasks. If one is successful in invoking the HGA into some form of manifestation, then there is little need to command demons to do certain tasks. The power of the magician’s magick, the depth of his wisdom and the strength of his will, fortified and magnified greatly by the HGA will enable him to perform any working or accomplish any possible objective. The Abramelin book dictates that the magician should not summon the HGA unless absolutely required. My theory is that the HGA would become ever-present to the magician who successfully invoked it into manifestation, and that the magician would function almost like an avatar, having the vision and depth of a godhead acting through his conscious mind. It could be easily argued that such a great accomplishment would allow the magician to find a route to complete enlightenment and union with the Godhead, and that all of the other operations may seem irrelevant or even grossly petty to such a mind-state. So for this reason, I doubt needing the supernatural intercession of demons to perform magical feats - they should be possible by the magician’s will, fortified as it is with the power, wisdom and majesty of the Augoeides.”

One last point that I would like to discuss is that all of the rituals that I used in the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal were designed and formulated without recourse to any of the old grimoires. I may occasionally pick out some interesting thing here and there (such as using some of the characters from the Grimoire Armadel to decorate the gate keys) or reclaim some words of power from the PGM or other sources, but for the most part, all of this ritual lore is original and built up from the basic structures that I developed over a quarter century ago, when I managed to merge the magickal systems of classical witchcraft with the Golden Dawn. Some might see this as a lazy bastardization of either discipline, but building up a new system like this from scratch is no small achievement. So when I say that my system of magickal evocation is very different than what is used in the grimoires, you can believe that to be true. All the pieces fit neatly together, the ritual system is modular and reusable, and the structures of the ordeals are complex and even have a kind of elegance. In short, I have developed a complete system of theurgy and evocation outside of the discipline of the grimoire tradition. This should prove that such an undertaking is not only possible, but in my opinion, it’s also most desirable.

Frater Barrabbas

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