Friday, October 28, 2011

La Balle de la Danse Macabre

“Death is a Cabaret old chum..”


“Long Live Death and Equality!”

On October 29, this Saturday, I will be directing and performing as le Maitre des Ceremonies for a presentation and witches ball to be held in the Twin Cities at the Walker Methodist Church. This is a NordCOG gathering, and it is open to the public. You can find out information here, if you are interested in attending. Of course, I won’t spoil the event by telling you anything about it, so you will either have to attend or maybe, I will do a write up about it afterwards.

This gathering is to celebrate Samhain 2011, also known as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, the day before the Christian feast day of All Hallows or All Saints Day. This has been a sacred time for many, many centuries, and was likely celebrated by Celtic and Germanic pagans before the advent of Christianity. However, it has become a secular autumn holiday when children, and more recently, adults, participate in wearing costumes and engaging in a lot of gothic hijinks. There are haunted houses, ghost tours, trick or treating, and many large and small costume parties - both private and public. In keeping with this theme, I decided that this year’s local COG gathering should be done differently than previous gatherings, and that it should be fun as well as thoughtful and informative. Since I volunteered to produce this presentation, then I could do something really special and memorable. Here are my notes regarding this ball and presentation.

I have always been intrigued by the music Danse Macabre, composed by Camille Saint-Saëns. This tune has been the subject of a few animations, representing as it does the dance of the skeletons. I have always associated this music (and the poem that it illustrates) with the season of Hallows, so it only seemed natural that I should seek someday to incorporate into a celebration for witches and pagans. I got my wish when I was chosen to produce a Samhain ceremony for the Twin Cities NordCog.

Therefore, for the upcoming NordCog Samhain gathering, I decided to put together a simple ceremony based in part on that music. This gathering is to be a costume ball where everyone gets involved. I wanted to have a gathering that was instructive and also fun! My assumption is that everyone will be wearing a costume, dressed up as one of the dead (but no zombies!), and if someone comes who isn’t costumed, someone will apply a little bit of make up or fake cobwebs to ensure that no one just comes as they are. Because the music and the tradition it represents is French, I decided to develop a theme that was also French and quite European. I hope that this very different and distinct theme and cultural coloring will be acceptable and enjoyable to the pagan and witchcraft community.

If you have never heard the tune Danse Macabre, then you should go and hear it, since that will be the music that all of the recently departed will dance to at the ball. I will also include the poem here for you to read, since that is also relevant.

The basic message of this ball is that, in my opinion,  people live as though they were dead. They rush around, pursuing their daily agenda, all the while ignoring the glory of life that is occurring at every moment. This is especially and painfully true for pagans and witches - we live ordinary lives and miss out on the really amazing concept that we are alive but for a short time, and then we die. Such a realization should make us all stop what we are doing and pay attention to the sacredness and blessedness of life itself, since that is the source of all mysteries and goodness, and we, as witches and pagans, should be strongly attuned to life. What I am asking is that folks who attend this ball should also be aware of what it means to be alive, and how precious life is whether we are rich or poor, healthy or sick, fortunate or unfortunate. Life is a precious gift and must be lived to the fullest!

So while we eat, drink and are merry, so enjoying ourselves, we should remember that life is short, and tomorrow we might be dead. Enjoy life to its fullest at every moment of existence, or face the sad fact that in death, there is infinite time for regret and despair over lost opportunities.

In the mystery, we meet the King of Death (le Roi Mort), his mistress (la Dame de Mort), servant (le Serviteur de Mort), and the most mysterious of all, the Seeker (le Chercheur de la Mort), who leads us into the kingdom of Death and back again. We drink, eat and dance in the halls of King Death, but we can return, having learned that we must live life more fully than what we have been doing.

This is the theme that I have used to write this ceremonial ball, and I invite you to join me, since I will be your host and the Master of Ceremonies.

Frater Barrabas

Danse Macabre - poem by Paul Verlain

(translated from French)

    Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
    Striking a tomb with his heel,
    Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
    Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
    The winter wind blows, and the night is dark;
    Moans are heard in the linden trees.
    White skeletons pass through the gloom,
    Running and leaping in their shrouds.
    Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
    You can hear the cracking of the bones of the dancers.
    A lustful couple sits on the moss
    So as to taste long lost delights.
    Zig zig, zig, Death continues
    The unending scraping on his instrument.
    A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked.
    Her partner grasps her amorously.
    The lady, it's said, is a marchioness or baroness
    And her green gallant, a poor cartwright.
    Horror! Look how she gives herself to him,
    Like the rustic was a baron.
    Zig, zig, zig. What a saraband!
    They all hold hands and dance in circles.
    Zig, zig, zag. You can see in the crowd
    The king dancing among the peasants.
    But hist! All of a sudden, they leave the dance,
    They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.
    Oh what a beautiful night for the poor world!
    Long live death and equality!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apocalypse Now (or Maybe Tomorrow!)

There has been so much buzz these days about the world coming to a complete end, with dispensationists like Harold Camping and others predicting that the apocalypse, as predicted in the last book of the New Testament, called “Revelations” has come to a final and terrible fruition. My friend and blog mate, Ananael Qaa, has been following the latest craze of predictions this year, and after each deadline, nothing has happened. All of the signs were clearly indicative, but the end of world failed to materialize. So I wonder what happened?

True believers would say that the Lord moves in mysterious ways, and the atheists and cynics would say that maybe the terrible God of the Christians just doesn’t really exist. Maybe the myths and beliefs are just that, false beliefs based on superstitious ignorance. However, the occultist in me doesn’t take sides with the atheists or cynics, instead I think that what is happening is an unfortunate literal interpretation of what is in reality a very allegorical and mysterious prophetic book of the Bible. I have heard it said and found it to be true that if you approach the Bible with a predetermined solution and look into its contents (ignoring all of the scriptural context) for justifications, you will indeed find them. Of course this could be said about any of the sacred scriptures or books of mysteries to be found in any of the religions in the world. A person’s perceptions can be ironically mirrored by Holy Scriptures if one digs deep enough or far enough into them, even if those perceptions are completely absurd. Perhaps one could say that the Godhead has a very subtle but quite real sense of humor, and that the joke is on us.

An odd truth is that I myself have found the whole concept of the mythical end of the world to be quite fascinating, and I have realized it in visions and powerful spiritual encounters. However, the difference is that I am not about to go looking for outward signs that the world is going to end suddenly and immediately after my visionary experiences. 
If you read over Crowley’s book “The Vision and the Voice,” you will find that kind of mythic theme being repeatably expressed by him. Crowley told individuals that he was the Great Beast of the book of Revelations, but what did he really mean by that? Did the end of the world occur during Crowley’s lifetime and we just didn’t know about it. Actually, the truth is, yes, indeed, the world ended and then it started anew. It was what Crowley called the birth of the Aeon of Horus, and the mysterious date was in 1904, when the Book of the Law was channeled by Crowley’s wife. If you are a Thelemite, then this is an important great truth, to be celebrated during several days in April. So, Crowley was the Great Beast 666, and he caused the world to end through two great and terrible wars, but the world also changed and was reborn. To Thelemites, if the world ends, it is reborn at the same moment, which actually makes a lot more sense. Since that time of the start of the Aeon of Horus, some others have announced the beginning of other Aeons, which would either mean that the Aeon of Horus was rather short lived, or that those others were deluded, or maybe more than one Aeon can exist at the same time. I am not an expert in these matters, and all I have are my own experiences, so I would recommend talking to a real Thelemite about them.

For those who might not quite understand what an Aeon is, it’s analogous to an “age,” except with deeper occult implications. We all know that Christianity was born during the beginning of the age of Pisces, and that we are now waiting for the birth of the age of Aquarius. Some have said that the age of Aquarius has already begun, and others have said that it hasn’t yet arrived. An age is defined as a period of time that it takes for the natural phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes to move through one whole sign of the zodiac. Precession through an astrological sign takes around 2,166 years, and precession through all twelve signs takes around 26,000 years. Thus an astrological age is roughly little over two millennia, and the movement is backwards, so that’s why the current age is Pisces, the previous age was Ares, and the next age is Aquarius. Is that quite the same thing as what Crowley was talking about in regards to the Aeon of Horus? Maybe it is, and then again, it more likely represents a powerful worldwide spiritual transition announced by some kind of spiritual avatar, which is what Crowley meant when he talked about it.

Whatever the case, as you can see, ages are born and then after two millennia, they pass away into another new age. The old order fails and disintegrates, and a new order rises in its place. Between the two ages there can be a lot of disruption, chaos, and even a dark ages lasting for hundreds of years. The beginning of the Age of Pisces also saw the beginning of the decline of the Roman empire, which as it fell, accelerated into the Dark Ages, at least for Western Europe. During this same period, the near east and the far east thrived, but Europe was thrown into chaos and barbarism for three or four centuries. With this in mind, it isn’t inconceivable that the Age of Aquarius may have a very dark and disastrous beginning for much of the world. Only time will tell, and human ingenuity will be severely tested when fossil fuels become less available and much more expensive to extract. What will save us is radically new technologies, but equally, what might doom us is our inability to change until we absolutely have to (and then its too late).

From my own personal experience, I have been having visions, from time to time, of the end of the world occurring through some terrible catastrophe, and often they are based on a kind of world holocaust. They have occurred in my dreams, visions, and in my communications with spirits. Yet I know that this phenomenon has to do with the crossing of spiritual boundaries and limnal points, and it doesn’t indicate that the world is literally going to end. I see it as a powerful and profound mythic and symbolic experience, but it represents that I have crossed a boundary to witness and see things that are beyond the threshold of this age. I am, ostensibly, seeing just slightly beyond this spiritual age and into the next one. Even so, what I am seeing is distorted and hindered by my beliefs, which are rooted in the current age. Still, I believe that as I become more spiritually advanced, I will be able to peer into the next great Age (or Aeon) and see it with a crystal clarity. I certainly haven’t achieved that degree of clarity yet, but some of what I have seen and experienced has been a potent influence on my magickal practices and spiritual beliefs. It is, in a word, one of the more important sources of my inspiration and creative magickal work.

So how does one break through the boundaries of the current age and experience the emanations of the next and future age? I don’t deliberately set out to achieve this phenomenon, but it does happen every time I work with mystical and magickal systems that test my current beliefs and force me to shed my biases and imbedded fictions. Encountering spirits, whether Godheads or even earth-based spirits, can have this effect, and so can meeting remarkable men and women. Pushing the envelop of one’s mystical and magickal knowledge can also produce the phenomenon of crossing the Aeon Threshold, as I call it. That boundary and barrier is out there, and most are comforted by it (abiding within its protective envelop), but others seek to break through it. I guess you could say that I have always been one of those whose search for occult knowledge and spiritual truth forced me test all of the beliefs that I possessed. To discard what was obviously false and to adopt what was shown to be experientially true, this relentless process could easily make today’s great realizations into tomorrow’s discredited delusions. 
The process of seeking occult truth is without end, and it always leads one to that terrible and implacable boundary, with seemingly evil forces warding it from any entry. To cross this boundary is to experience the darkness and bitterness of the apocalypse, but just beyond that dark and terrifying vision is the dawning light of a new (and hopefully) better age. As a high plane traveler, I have skirted this boundary from time to time, hoping to catch a glimpse of the next great age.

Frater Barrabbas    

Friday, October 21, 2011

Invoking the Spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia

I have just completed designing and writing up the ritual system that will allow me and members of the Order to evoke and access the spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia, which is the second book in the Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon. I have been pondering over this book for many months, and I finally got the impetus and inspiration to produce a new ritual system to allow me to access them. I am not aware of anyone else actually engaged in summoning these spirits, so it will be interesting to see if anyone contacts me about their own experiences. I will certainly be attempting to use this ritual system in a future working and test the methodology that I have used to develop it. Since I have many years of experience and practice at writing new ritual systems, I have no doubt that the ritual will work as it was designed to do. What remains a mystery is the exact nature of the spirits described in the Theurgia-Goetia.

You can find my past post here, where I discussed the possible nature of these spirits, how one might use them, and the symbolic grid or matrix of occult symbolism that I would chose to define them. I beleived it to be a spiritual system that hadn’t had much use or interest over last couple of centuries, so I decided to develop a structure that would make it more useful and interesting. That article was posted in late 2009, when I was preparing to perform the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal. I had too many other projects to do to spend any time on this “new” spiritual system, so it sat in my “to-do” pile for many months, until I finally had some time and creative insight to design and construct the core ritual that would allow me to access these spirits.

Since I have given all of my rituals a name generally associated with their actual ritual structure and configuration, the name of the ritual that I wrote to access the spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia is called the Hexadecimal Vortex Pylon Invocation Gate. I know - it’s a mouthful, but that name concisely defines the ritual structures that I employed in its construction. Anyway, I decided that I wanted to share with my readers the whole basis of this new ritual working, how it’s structured and also, how it works. I think that this article will show how one might go about assembling the elements to construct a solid ritual working. If you’re as much of a ritual magick wonk as I am, then it might even be a bit illuminating. 

This ritual is used to invoke all 75 spirits associated with the second book of the Lemegeton, which is known as the Theurgia-Goetia. These spirits are associated with the implied matrix of 16 Elementals, 48 Zodiacal Elementals, and the 11 Planetary and Element based intelligences. The foundation of this rite summons the Four Emperors and the Four Greek Gods of the Winds, since the spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia are wind spirits (demons), so they naturally respond to the godheads associated with the four winds. (I also used the four Hebrew Godnames for the Four Elements, since the wind spirits have associations with the Judeo-Christian spiritual system.)       

The circle configuration for this rite uses sixteen nodes in the outer periphery, which consists of the four Watchtowers, four Angles, and the two in-between points inserted between the Watchtower and Angle for a total of eight sub-angles. A central invoking pylon within an invoking vortex inner circle and a tetrahedral gateway (pointing to the correct watchtower cardinal direction) round out this ritual working. The hexadecimal vortex is used each time the working is performed, regardless of the specific spirit invoked, since this configuration embeds the element structure of the ruling spirits of the emperor of the cardinal direction and the sixteen spirits of the elemental dukes, which are the primary ruling hierarchy of this system of magick.

It is my belief that this particular system of magick can be used to replace or augment the existing systems of Elemental and Talismanic Elemental magick. The sixteen spirits of the Elementals, who are Dukes in this hierarchy, can be used instead of the sixteen Enochian Elemental spirits. The 48 Zodiacal Elementals, which consist of a zodiacal sign qualifying an element base, can be used instead of the Talismanic Elemental, although without the associated Lunar Mansion. These 48 spirits are also Dukes, and considered to be of the same dignity as the elemental Dukes. These spirit Dukes have servitors of their own, and those that are named and have seals can be summoned once the dukal spirit has been fully invoked.

That leaves the 11 wandering Princes, who directly represent the power and authority of the four Emperors, although some answer to more than one. The 11 Princes symbolize the four Sacralized Elements (a kind of tetra-sacramentary) and the seven archetypal planetary intelligences. The princes could be invoked to perform a kind of element or planetary based magick, such as generating sacraments (for the four elements) and planetary talismans.

All of the servitors of these spirits who answer to the four Emperors can be called simply through the agency of their associated seals, after the ruling spirit and the hierarchy have been invoked first. The Emperors are never directly invoked, but are called, along with the Greek godhead winds, to establish the hierarchy of the system of Theurgia-Goetia.

The quality of these 75 spirits was supposed to be either good or evil, depending on their innate nature and their hierarchical alignment - they were considered a form of “wind demons” regardless of their specific character. Since these spirits are associated with the four winds, and the sixteen directions that the wind might travel, it must be assumed that such a power is actually neutral, since it could be used for good or ill, depending on the velocity and the turbulence that sets such a spirit in motion. Like the wind, some storms are beneficial, helping to clear the air and give life to all of nature, while others are destructive and terrible when they are unleashed to their full negative potential.

I would assume that since the magician is the one “stirring” and setting into motion one of these spirits, so the quality of the spirit and the outcome of its use will be solely determined by the magician’s intent. Passions, anger, hatred, violence, or the desire for ill will certainly stir the invoked spirit to do evil (as is the manner of vented storms in nature), while self-control and a desire to aid, heal or give life will motivate the invoked spirit to do good. Thus, it is entirely up to the magician who unleashes this spirit whether it will do good or evil.  This is in part similar to the quality of the Enochian Elementals and Talismanic Elementals, which could be invoked to do good or evil depending on the magician’s intent.

Prior to performing the Hexadecimal Vortex Pylon Invocation Gate, the magician should perform the circle consecration and the Lunar Mystery Vortex rite. The moon should be waxing but not yet nearly full, and it should be in an auspicious zodiacal sign and lunation type if the working is to have a positive impact. If the magician seeks to work evil, then the moon should be waning close to New and the zodiacal sign should have a negative quality.

Ritual Pattern: The basic ritual pattern for this working has the following steps, and these are followed regardless of the target spirit to be invoked. Performing this rite will require the operator to have a collection of charged seals for the Emperors and Elemental Dukes to be used exclusively for the base ritual. The seals are to be reused whenever the ritual is performed, and they may be made out of a more permanent substance, like tag board, wood or metal. These seals are to be charged prior to use, and this is done through a blessing and then an immersion in the sacraments of a mass rite. The sigil seal of the target spirit is to made of parchment and also charged with a mass rite.

1. Set the four watchtowers with the following structures in deosil order (E, S, W, N):

  • Summon the Greek Wind Godhead & Hebrew Elemental Godhead
  • Charge seal (set therein) and summon the Spirit Emperor (intone supplementary invocations)
  • Erect pylon of Pure Elemental in Watchtower
  • Charge seal (set therein) and summon the Spirit Duke
  • Intone Hebrew formula letter and recite a special incantation based on that letter

2. Set the infra-point with the following structures:

  • Summon the Greek Godhead of Storms
  • Set inverted ankh to the infra-point
  • Intone Hebrew formula letter and recite a special incantation based on that letter

3. Draw four watchtowers to the infra-point in a widdershins arc (N, W, S, E). Draw 4 watchtowers into the form of a square, proceeding in a deosil arc (E, S, W, N). Intone exegesis of the five node formula.

4. Set the four Angles with the following structures in a deosil arc (SE, SW, NW, NE):

  • Summon the Lesser Greek Wind Godhead (Anemoi Thuellai)
  • Erect pylon of Mixed Elemental in Watchtower
  • Charge seal (set therein) and summon the Spirit Duke
  • Intone Hebrew formula letter and recite a special incantation based on that letter

5. Set the ultra-point with the following structures:

  • Summon the Greek Godhead of Lesser Winds (Olympias)
  • Set hexagram of union to the ultra-point
  • Intone Hebrew formula letter and recite a special incantation based on that letter

6. Draw four angles to the ultra-point in a widdershins arc (NE, NW, SW, SE). Draw 4 angles into the form of a square, proceeding in a deosil arc (SE, SW, NW, NE). Intone exegesis of the five node formula.

7. Set each quadrant with the two sub-angles - perform the following steps for each (E, S, W, N):

  • Face Angle and determine coordinates - note first position to the left, then the right of it
  • Erect pylon of first elemental to the first position
  • Charge seal (set therein) and summon the Spirit Duke
  • Erect pylon of second elemental to the second position
  • Charge seal (set therein) and summon the Spirit Duke
  • Draw invoking spiral - join two sub-angles with Watchtower and Angle

8. Draw inner circle - perform opening threshold and step into inner circle. Draw rose-ankh devices to the four watchtowers in a widdershins arc (N, W, S, E) and then draw one to the infra-point. Draw the four watchtowers to the center of the circle, then perform a widershins spiral, from the periphery of the circle to the center. Set an invoking trigon (depending on whether it is elemental based or planetary based) in the center of the circle and charge it with an invoking spiral.  (Magickal circle structure is now set for performing the targeted spirit invocation.

9. Set the three gate keys to the three directions (one cardinal, the other two angles), depending on the spiritual alignment of the target spirit. The focus point will be to the East, South, West or North depending on whether the spirit is aligned to that direction and is within the hierarchy of the associated Emperor. The eleven princes can have more than one possible direction, so the magician chooses the best one for the work that he or she wishes to perform. Perform the three-node gate exegesis with the core of the tetrahedral gate set with an invoking pentagram (assuring the specific alignment of the gateway). Once the gateway has been crossed and the combined formula recited, then the invocation may be performed.

10. Erect the pylon of the target spirit using the magick staff as an overlaying tool. Each class of target spirits has its own specific type of pylon. Charge the seal and sigil combination and place it at the base of the staff on the invoking trigon. Then perform a threefold invocation of the target spirit, and complete with supplemental invocations from the Steganographia (if any). The three-fold invocation matches the three positions on the staff used to establish the invoking pylon. The central node (meso-point) is always set with a hexagramic cross device.

Commune with the spirit, and if the magician desires to summon one or more of the servitors, then once the target spirit is invoked, present the seal of the servitor and summon it through the power and authority of the target spirit. Servitors can be used to perform more menial tasks directly, such as fetch and get tasks, or if the magician is seeking to do a negative action, such as a curse. The target spirit will recommend the proper servitor for a given task, so the magician should have the seals of all the known and named servitors available for use.

  • Invoking pylon of an Elemental Ducal Spirit consists of an invoking pentagram for the base element, and an inverted invoking pentagram for the qualifier. These are drawn together with an invoking spiral.

  • Invoking pylon of a Zodiacal Element Ducal Spirit consists of an invoking pentagram for the base element of the sign, and one of the three lesser hexagrams associated with the zodiacal quality for the qualifier. A second invoking pentagram is set to the mid-point to determine the element qualifier for the zodiacal sign. These are drawn together with an invoking spiral.

  • Invoking pylon of Element Prince Spirit consists of an invoking pentagram for the base element, and an invoking pentagram for the qualifier - these two invoking pentagrams invoke the same element. A hexagram is set to the mid-point to determine the spiritual quality of the element. These are drawn together with an invoking spiral.

  • Invoking pylon of Planetary Prince Spirit consists of an invoking pentagram of spirit masculine or feminine (determined by the gender of the planet) set in the apex of the pylon, and the base is set with the drawing of the invoking pattern for a specific planet on the Septagram trigon. The trigon is charged with an invoking spiral, and the pylon is established with an invoking spiral, connecting the pentagram of spirit with the Septagram trigon. 

11. If the magician is seeking to charge a talisman or an object with the energy vested with the target spirit, then he or she may use the Elemental Gate ritual (for Elementals) or the Talismanic Elemental Application ritual (for Zodiacal-Elements or Planetary Intelligences). The exception would be for the four Princes who represent a spiritualized and charged Element. Performing this extra ritual working is optional, but it should be performed immediately following the hexadecimal vortex invocation gate working.

12. Once the working is completed, then the magician gives the license to depart and seals up the hexadecimal vortex and closes the elemental gateway and the inner circle portal.

So, that’s the ritual structure for invoking and evoking the spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia, although the exact details (such as formula names, verbiage, etc.) have been omitted. I also expect that the ritual may require some refinements before it’s completely vetted, but the basic structure outlines above will doubtlessly remain the way it is.

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, October 17, 2011

OWS - Magic of People Power

Normally, I try to avoid discussing any political issues on this blog,reserving that for the political blogs, of which there are so many. I have recently noticed that a couple of occult blogs have discussed the recent emergence of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, with one praising them and another dismissing them. There are probably others out there who are weighing in with comments that I might not even know about. I thought that I would at least make a statement of support for what is happening in New York City, and also, all around the world. It's because that social statement does affect me and is quite relevant, even on a magickal and spiritual level.

The real truth is that things aren’t getting better for the collective 99% of Americans, and probably the rest of world as well. While many young people are engaged in the protests and marches in New York City and elsewhere, there are also older people and even the unions that are participating. This is a counter-movement to the so called patriotic Tea Party’s “Taxed Enough Already” movement that was seen in the previous two years. While the Tea Party was an obvious “astro-turf” organization promoted by well-heeled right-wing advocacy groups (like Freedom Works), the OWS crowd is just a spontaneous group of mostly young people who are experiencing the most pain from the recent economic turmoil. They are having to spend an enormous sum of money to get a good university education, and then afterwards facing a very bleak and frustrating job market.

I feel a great deal of empathy for these young people looking to try to start their careers and having to compete with such a massive population of unemployed or under-employed people. Good paying jobs for recent college graduates are pretty hard to find. I faced a similar situation in the years between 1980 and 1983, when two back-to-back recessions made finding a job after I graduated nearly impossible. In my home state of southeastern Wisconsin, the unemployment rate was near 20%, due to the collapse of the ancillary auto-parts industry located in that area. The jobs that were lost due to factories closing down never returned, and the area became known as a part of the Midwestern Rust Belt.

The current economic downturn had a lot to do with a small handful of Wall Street speculators who were playing the system, using other people’s money to fund very risky investments. In the end, the bottom fell out when the real-estate market bubble burst. Lots of innocent people were hurt by this occurrence, including me. Investment portfolios lost their value, and supposedly something like 3 trillion dollars evaporated from the economy.  Right-wing politicos blame the government for pushing bad loans through Fannie and Freddie Mac, but the real problem was the private sub-prime loan industry, which had been able to evade government oversight. The rules had been relaxed and regulations gutted, and the result was actually quite predictable - greed won out over virtue. The banks and financial institutions that had been caught short-handed in this debacle were bailed out by the government, but the average working stiff received little or no help. The rich, powerful and well connected saw their profits and income soar, while the middle class saw their spending power drop, their home values plummet and their jobs disappear.

I am not rich, nor do I desire to be wealthy. I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to be rich, I would have to really focus on acquiring and managing money most of the time. Those people I knew who were far better off than me in terms of money were either born into it, or obsessed with making a buck wherever they could. I have never been that kind of person, so I was happy to earn my living the old fashioned way, by working at a job and getting regularly paid. I always gave my employers the best of my ability when at my job. Yet when I went home, I was able to focus on other things that were more interesting to me, but not fiscally beneficial. 
This is the way that I was able to spend an inordinate amount of time learning the occult and writing a completely new system of magick. Such a long period of work and study never earned me a single dime, and I was happy to share what I knew with others for free. That has changed somewhat now that I am a writer and teacher, but still, I am not in that business to make a lot of money. What I make as a writer comes out to be a very small percentage of my overall annual income. My day gig pays the bills and puts food on the table. Even though I make more than twice the national average in terms of income, I am affected by the same economic forces that are affecting those who make half as much or less.

As a member of the middle class, I realize all too well that I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to competing for political clout with the rich, powerful and well connected minority. Perhaps that is why I learned to seek to bend the odds slightly in my favor through the use of earth based magick. I have been fortunate, and some might even consider me to be lucky. However, I am under no illusions about my place in society and in the economic landscape. I am just one of the many individual members of the middle class who lack any amount of political power or influence. The only power that I do wield is that I regularly vote, but that is just one vote out of a myriad. 
Still, what I have learned over the years is that I will not vote for a politician who is socially or fiscally conservative, in other words, I would never vote for a Republican. The Republican party doesn’t represent my financial or political interests, nor my social libertarianism, particularly because I am religiously a witch and a practitioner of a very progressive brand of occultism - ritual magick. Because of my beliefs and practices, I am probably about as alien to the tenets of the Republican party as one could possibly be. This is especially true as the Republican party has changed and mutated recently into a very hard right-wing driven ideology.      

Anyway, since I am somewhat of a political progressive (made so by the polarization of politics in the US), I find myself reading progressive political blogs more often than relying on the Main Stream News. I have found illuminating answers in these blogs as to the meaning of the OWS protests (even though they didn’t take much imagination to understand). While the MS Media and the right-wing politicos have dismissed these protesters as a spurious and dangerous mob, the progressive bloggers seem to understand and articulate why people are protesting the big banks and financial investment firms on Wall Street.

Today I read an article in Daily KOS entitled “Three Strikes Against Wall Street,” written by Mark Sumner - you can find it here. In that article, Mark doesn’t put down the protesters or dismiss their angst at the unfair system that has screwed them. Instead he gives a pretty cogent explanation of what happened, and why it happened. As he explains it, the culture of the rich and powerful have within the last thirty years strategically changed the system so that the financial market serves them instead of the people. This quote really said it quite well, and I repeat it here.

If we hadn't deregulated banks and markets, we wouldn't be facing the kind of disaster that we've seen over the last three years. If we hadn't drastically reduced tax rates for the wealthy, we wouldn't have seen pension funds dry up and middle class wages stagnate. If we hadn't given corporations more and more political clout, we wouldn't be where we are—in a broken system that serves them, not us.

Mark Sumner explains the essential three strikes that the rich and powerful used to change the way the markets operate in our country, and the world over. It has profoundly benefitted the wealthy few at the expense of the rest of us. There is a real class war going on, but unfortunately, it is the wealthy and powerful who are engaged with a war against the middle class, the elderly and the poor. That war is being won as I write this article, and the middle class didn’t even have a chance or a prayer to help themselves. We have been the real losers, and we didn’t even know what it was that had been done to us.

When we look back over the last half century, we see a market that increasingly veers away from its role of serving the citizenry. Especially in the last three decades, the market has moved [from] being a vehicle designed to allow investment in companies that create goods and services, and become the target of its own interest. It's turned into a banquet of fiscal self-cannibalism. It does not serve the citizens, and in fact represents perhaps as great a risk as any enemy extant.

If the protestors are upset and angry, they actually have good reason to feel that way. I myself have seen my retirement portfolio greatly diminished, my health benefits whittled away to become nearly a self-funded system, and the overall spending power has dropped for me and everyone as wages are unable to keep pace with expenses. And yet and still, the Republicans talk about more deregulation, less taxes for the rich, de-funding important infrastructure investments and green technology, and the total elimination of the social safety net. Taking that into account, and the obvious extreme social conservatism (of a type that should frighten anyone who is a witch or a pagan), why would I ever consider voting for this political party? We definitely need some major changes in our country, but I believe that they should be progressive instead of regressive.

Mark Sumner encapsulates the OWS worldwide protest movement in just a few words, but they deeply impressed me. He, unlike so many others, truly explained why there is such a protest movement, and why it’s important even for middle aged white men like me. Despite the fact that I might be considered a part of the upper percentile of the middle class, I know where my bread is buttered and who has my back in the ensuing struggle of economic classes in this country. Mark says this about the protest movement, and I must say that I heartily agree with it. 

The occupy movement is a withdrawal of consent. It's not a war on capitalism. It's an acknowledgement [sic] that we are doing capitalism badly, and in a way that does not serve to help real people in their real lives. To repair the system will require government to step up and take action.”

So, I believe that the problem facing our country is that we have had too little government oversight and too much reliance on the market (and the wealthy few who manipulate it), and having had a couple of decades of that kind of treatment, I think that we are ready for a change. Hopefully, the OWS movement will be instrumental in getting people to finally turn the page on letting the rich and powerful rule this country as if it were their right and privilege. Maybe the magick of the disorganized and passionate peaceful protests by the people and for the people, will help make our country into a more compassionate and liveable place. It is my sincere hope that this will indeed happen.

Don’t forget to vote, however your conscience moves you!

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why I Venerate the Golden Dawn

I got my first copy of the Golden Dawn book edited by Israel Regardie when it became a single volume. I can remember for a few years prior coveting the two volume version with its own slip case, but it was beyond my ability to afford. It was the great prize for anyone who sought to learn ritual or ceremonial magick, and was carefully displayed behind glass so it wouldn’t get stolen. The new Llewellyn edition was a single hardcover volume with a splashy colorful cover, but the price was right, and the old two volume edition was no longer in print. I bought the new version, back in the early autumn of 1975, and eagerly took it home to extract all of its secrets. I found that task to be nearly impossible, since my nascent intellectual skills weren’t really up to the task. I might have been a twenty year old adult, but my ability to read through hundreds of pages of arcane lore was a bit too much for my reading skills at the time. It would seem that I needed some background in order to fully master this lore.

After I joined the Coven from Hell, I was taught most of the material from the Golden Dawn book, except perhaps the initiation rituals, and that included the Qabbalah, the Enochian material and the basic rituals. Once shown how these rituals worked, I immediately began to incorporate them into my own ritual work. In less than a year, I had my own versions of these rituals, but of them, only the Superior Pentagram, Superior Hexagram, the Middle Pillar, Qabalistic Cross and the Rose Cross rituals were used. The hexagram was soon replaced by the septagram, which I had always preferred, but those other four rituals were seamlessly incorporated into my magickal repertoire. I did fail to figure out how to use the lesser pentagram and hexagram rituals in conjunction with the superior rites, so I never mastered the Golden Dawn methodology for performing elemental, planetary and zodiacal magick. Instead, over time, I invented my own independent system of magick, but the rituals, structures and devices were expropriated from the Golden Dawn. This is because there wasn’t any Golden Dawn organization for me to join, and to this day I remained an outsider to that tradition. 

So it would seem that I used, in a rather cavalier manner, some of the magickal rituals of the Golden Dawn, some of the Enochian materials and pretty much ignored the rest. Since I had books from Aleister Crowley, I found that a combination of Crowley and the Golden Dawn seemed to help me fill in the void. Between these two authors, I was able to expand my knowledge and capability to craft and build my own personal system of magick. I was, in a word, an occult lore pirate, and both Israel Regardie and Aleister Crowley facilitated that plundering. I am sure that many others have found this published material both useful and practical, however, others within the Golden Dawn tradition have called both of them oath breakers. Had they not published the material from the Golden Dawn, I probably wouldn’t have been able to craft the magickal system that I did eventually derive. So I owe a debt of gratitude to these two individuals who are not honored in some of the more traditional Golden Dawn circles.

Since that time, I have moved on and now use my own tried and true ritual structures, devices and components, all of which are now far removed from the Golden Dawn tradition. I have also refrained from purchasing any materials that are supposedly culled from secret documents that are still in use by that order. I have done this out of respect for the active tradition of the Golden Dawn, and because this lore would obviously not be particularly relevant to me or my organization. Thus, I wouldn’t bother seeking to purchase any of the revelatory books published by either Farrell or Zelewski, since I feel that such published works are quite disrespectful to those who are working within a living tradition of the Golden Dawn.

I am also quite cold to anyone writing a history of the Golden Dawn where the founders, such as Westcott and Mathers, and others, are reviled as frauds or shown to be incompetent. Years ago I read Ellic Howe’s book “Magicians of the Golden Dawn” and considered it a harsh and even scurrilous biography of that organization. I have no illusions as to the follies, flaws and failings of individuals and humanity in general, but I think that I would rather focus on the accomplished work of such individuals instead of attempting to judge them many decades after their death. This is why I consider Aleister Crowley to be an important writer and contributor to western occultism regardless of how he behaved or what kind of man he was while alive. So, for me, these individuals are judged by their work and their legacy. If they left behind writings that I find important to my own occult work, then I will judge them as a valuable resource, and nothing more. I think that its pretty tough to judge someone without personally knowing them, and even harder to judge someone who has been dead for a long time.

Whatever I think of the original founders of the Golden Dawn must therefore be based entirely on their work. There is so little historical information about Mathers that his life story has become something of a cipher that holds nearly any opinion, from the gloriously good to the vilifyingly evil. Aleister Crowley painted a picture of Mathers that was very dark and disturbing in the so called fictional work “Moon Child,” and Dion Fortune supposedly accused Mina Mathers of having cursed her. I think that both of these opinions are likely fictional creations that do a great injustice to both of these individuals. If I were to judge the founders of the Golden Dawn, it would be to venerate them, since the Golden Dawn lore was so ahead of its time and such a radical departure from anything that had been practiced in the 19th century up to that time.  I would have to consider Mathers, Westcott and others to be creative geniuses, since the Golden Dawn lore was so advanced. The fact that the rituals and documents of the Golden Dawn are still relevant today, in the early 21st century, should demonstrate just how advanced the lore was back when it was first presented to members of that order. To members of the order back in the early 1890's, the lore must seemed like something totally radical!

Some have said that the founders of the Golden Dawn were frauds or incompetent, and that their vision of the world, populated with rare encounters with flesh and blood advanced high adepts is a myth or a delusion. I think that the Golden Dawn lore speaks for itself, since either the founders were incredible geniuses, or that they had help from other unnamed individuals. These mysterious personages would have been quite enlightened and likely members of an elite organization, which was called the Third Order. Either perspective shows that Mathers, for all his supposed flaws and social issues, was a true adept and facilitator for even higher adepts (visible or invisible), since he was, after all, a man, and the lore that he presented to his order was beyond anything previously seen in the western world. For this reason alone, I venerate Mather’s unwitting contribution to the occult world, which is his legacy, and I also venerate the Golden Dawn. I may not be a member, but as an outsider, I can easily see its long term value.

Frater Barrabbas    

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Path to Enlightenment Through Magick

The Order of the Gnostic Star has plotted a step by step process using ordeals to assist an initiate to achieve the various levels of transformation and spiritual evolution. The Tree of Life is the model that is used to define and determine the nature of these ordeals and their expected outcome. All of these ordeals represent incremental tasks and challenges that I had undergone following my own personal spiritual path. What that means is that I, Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, have used the path and progression of my own spiritual process as the model or blue-print for magickal spiritual ascendency as defined in the Order. One would have to assume that I at least know what I am doing in order to be presumptuous enough to use my own life process as the initiatory directive for the Order and its supposed spiritual progress. I have explained this process in detail and compared it to the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, and I have left these ordeal based processes open-ended enough to accommodate anyone who would seek to follow them.

Adepts have the legitimate right to modify or change any of the ordeal rituals to more aptly reflect their own spiritual perspectives. However, it is my wish that adepts should study the rituals and the journal entries where I have made them available before attempting to rewrite any of these workings. Since I know that these ordeals work as they have been written, at least for me, I would hope that anyone who would seek to change them would know their innate mechanics and magickal architecture first. In this manner, the wisdom of the original ordeal is preserved, and can be examined and compared to what the adept has rewritten. It is my hope that the spirit of the ordeal will be preserved in any new version or variation that the adept has deemed to develop and use, otherwise, the careful structure of personal development might be thwarted or short circuited.

I have been following this ordeal based path in ritual magick for nearly 40 years, and I have not yet completed all of the ordeals to the highest level. Why this effort has taken me so long is that I have had to invent and develop from scratch each of the ordeals for each level. Think of this as the analogy of the carpenter who is building a staircase one step at a time while simultaneously attempting to climb to the top. Often, this has required me to spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in creative speculation, experimentation and soul searching on a level that seems to push the envelope of what I know and understand. I have found that published books and materials can either directly help me or inspire a new insight or connection, but by themselves, published materials are limited and can never simply reveal the way for someone who is an adept. Since most of the population has not even achieved levels of consciousness normally experienced by an adept, most of the available media (which was produced for the majority of the population) will have little or nothing to aid the adept in determining the next stage in his or her development.

The path to enlightenment, as determined and followed by ritual magicians operating in the context of the Order, is a delicate balance between the paths of mysticism and magick, where the two are inexorably blended together to form a single hybrid spiritual technology. We can see this very clearly if we look at these two paths in isolation of each other.

Pure magick, without any mystical elements is nothing more or less than where a magician seeks to change physical reality according to his or her will - it is, in a word, a form of thaumaturgy. Hoodoo and other forms of operant magick, where a formula of action and result are tied together (such as “assemble these items, do these actions, and this result will occur”) have little or no spiritual elements involved in their performance. This is a dispassionate kind of cause and effect magick that is merely a technique for making something happen that might not ordinarily occur. It is a system that bends the possible outcome or probabilities in such a manner that the desired result has a better chance to happen than it would otherwise.

The role or function of priest or spiritual intermediary is not required in this kind of work, since it is devoid of any spiritual considerations. In some cases, even altered states of consciousness are not required for the magick to work. Whether the magician uses the energy theory of magick, the spirit theory, the psychological theory, or any combination of all three, all of the techniques, models, symbols and intermediaries are nothing but tools through which the magick is performed. For the magician, it is his or her power, inherent will and passionate desires for the result that are paramount, everything else is irrelevant to the overall goal.

Mysticism can be considered a passive approach to enlightenment, even when the supplicant is engaged in good works in the mundane sphere. It is wholly immersed in the spiritual dimension, but that the deity or deities are perceived as vastly superior entities than humanity, with whom one must become bonded and subordinate in order for a spiritual awakening and transformation to occur. The discipline of the mystic is a form of spiritual service to the godhead that includes devotion, surrender and the complete sublimation of the self. Even supposed magickal actions, liturgical works and other kinds of godhead mediation are performed in a selfless manner for the greater good of the spiritual community.

An initiate or devotee of a mystical path may perform operations that seek to channel the power and authority of the godhead in this world, but the prerogative of that work is completely vested in the deity and not the individual. Thus, mysticism is passive because it seeks to devalue and diffuse the power of the individual for the sake of the deity and the religious community through which it operates. This path is nearly the opposite of the classical magician performing operant forms of magick for his or her own benefit.

Where these two paths can merge and blend is where we need to consider the theme of the magician-priest, whose role is the particular method of becoming an adept in our Order. The two pure approaches above are brought into a mutual harmony, where the magick, the magician and his or her associated godhead act as a single spiritual agency in the material and spiritual world. 
This hybrid pathway is neither passive nor arrogantly active, since the individual magician is allowed to perform works for his own benefit, but whose ultimate mission must be to serve the will of the deity, and thereby aid the overall spiritual community as a whole. The magician-priest is a mediator, but not a passive one, since he has determined his role as that of an elite path-finder, teacher and master of life itself. This role even allows for magickal failure, since it represents that often the will of the individual can fail when it runs against the will of the deity or the overall fate of that individual. Service to the deity is still important and central, but then, so is the magickal liturgy of godhead assumption, which is never used in actual exoteric religious liturgies. Godhead assumption is analogous to publically admitting that one is God, which in nearly all spheres (except in forms of highly ecstatic mysticism or deliberative magick) is considered impious and even blasphemous. Yet godhead assumption is considered the core of spiritual and magickal operations within the Order, and for very good reason. If we, as magicians of the Order of the Gnostic Star, are to be considered priests and priestesses of the occult magickal succession, then being able to directly mediate the deity is an important technique.

The magician-priest is then required to master the techniques of mediating the deity, and there are several important ritual and liturgical operations that she may perform to advance and evolve this ability. All of these are the exercises of spiritual alignment, which are crucial to our initiatory lineage. These practices produce a kind of personal religious cult that acts as the very center of the rites and obligations of a ritual magician functioning through our Order. This cult is kept up and regularly practiced by the ritual magician, who acts as both prelate and congregation, and the center of this activity is the personal religious shrine representing the godhead to which the magician seeks alignment.

The shrine is a separate altar where the statues, relics, artifacts, and fetishes are kept. This altar can reside in the magician’s temple, or in a separate room set aside for that exclusive use. Offerings are given to the deity or deities ensconced therein, and these consist of flowers, incense, food and drink. This shrine represents the very heart and spiritual center of the magician, and is a place of regular and periodic attentions. It is important for the magician-priest to maintain a potent alignment with the various entities that reside in his or her magickal pantheon.

A magician’s spiritual alignment consists of those practices that allow her to be a mediator of the godhead. Ostensibly, the practices can be broken down into the following list. In my book “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick,” I state that there are four basic practices, but for an initiate in the Order, there are eight.

1. Devotion - any act of giving an offering of love and veneration to the godhead. These should include incense, flowers, special candles being kept lit (vigils), appropriate offerings of food and drink, music, songs and orisons of praise, and the focused contemplation of spiritual love. These practices can be performed at any time of the day or night, since they are not constrained by liturgical rites.

2. Invocation - magickal summoning of the godhead. Specific invocations are regularly performed to ensure a potent connection between the operator and the deity or deities. These invocations can be in one’s native tongue, or written in a sacred language. They are to be written and then used exclusively and regularly during certain liturgical operations, such as during communion, godhead assumption and even the holy office. They can also be used alone during periods of contemplation and prayer.

3. Communion - magickal rites of the Mass and the Benediction. The Mass is used to consecrate bread and wine (or some other suitable offerings), and then these sacred substances are used to bind oneself to that godhead by eating and drinking them. Other sacraments can be represented by other kinds of food and drink, and even oils and balms. A Benediction rite is used to empower and charge a temple and/or magick circle. The celebrant uses the consecrated bread to perform this operation.

4. Godhead Assumption - a magickal rite that aids the magician to assume the mantle and consciousness of the god into him/herself. This is a powerful transformative ritual that uses a combination of devotion, invocation, contemplation, trance assumption, and the assana of opening the self and the heart for reception, to deliberately assume the imago and character of the godhead into the core of oneself.

5. Spiritual Service - mundane actions done in the community for the godhead, to help and aid others, even those not aligned to the deity. These should be periodic and regularly performed if possible. Spiritual service is always performed as a charitable contribution of time and personal effort.

6. Spiritual and Religious Celebrations - magickal and religious rituals performed, both in private and even in public, to express the joy and happiness of the godhead in the material manifestation of the world and its mysteries. In pagan traditions, these are represented by the eight Sabbats, but also other traditions can be culled, such as the old Catholic calendar, the Orthodox Christian or Jewish calendars.

7. Holy Office - hourly exercises, meditation sessions, qabbalistic contemplations, path workings, sun salutation, and established prayers. These methods mirror the holy office that was said by Catholic clergy, nuns and monks every three hours, starting at sunrise and through the day and night to the following morning for each and every day. It was part of their spiritual discipline and a daily requirement. For magicians, an occult office probably only needs to be done on days when they are to engage in rigorous magickal workings.

8. Holy Orders - the basic initiatory structure of the Order of the Gnostic Star is modeled after the holy orders of the Catholic church, beginning with acolyte, and continuing with pontifex (priest) and hierophant (bishop). These initiations should also involve and include the specific godhead and its associated pantheon, so as to assist the initiate in establishing themselves as a prelate in their own personal religious cult.

While these orders might be considered valid by outside exoteric religious organizations, they are not meant to be used as such, since there is no exoteric church through which one might operate. This was done to preclude the temptation of establishing a kind of hierarchy in the Order and within autonomous temples.

Other ritual actions and practices, besides the Mass, Benediction, Godhead Assumption, Seasonal Celebrations and the Holy Office would include special mystery celebrations (Grail Mysteries and Lunar Mysteries) and the specialized rite of the Beatification, which incorporates elements of the Feminine mysteries to be used by both men and women in the Order. All of these rites and practices help to establish a powerful alignment and bond between the magician and the chosen godhead, and this bond is the foundation upon which much of the greater magickal operations are formulated.

The Holy Orders are the bridge that draws the initiate from a mastery of the four elements to a mastery of the self and one’s spiritual source, a sure sign of being an adept. The transition from acolyte (4th degree) to pontifex (5th degree) symbolizes the assumption of all of the responsibilities of being a mediator for the chosen godhead. This mediation has additional levels and degrees, since the sacred king or queen (6th degree) assumes the role of material mediator of the godhead, and the hierophant (7th degree) is the living representative of that godhead, performing all of the spiritual and magickal tasks necessary for the continuance of that deity and its mission in the world.

The final bridge from adept to high adept is found in the rituals of assuming the highest expression of the godhead capable of being known to the initiate, and that is the HGA or Higher Self (inner master). There are a number of initiatory challenges that cause the adept to transform to higher levels. Certainly, the ordeals of Archaeomancy would, by themselves, cause the initiate who underwent them to achieve the level of the Supernal Triad of the Tree of Life. While I have not yet undergone all of these operations yet, I have identified at least five of them that would represent this transition, and I would assume that all five must be performed in order for it to become completely stabilized.

These five operations are as follows:

1. Bornless One Invocation Rite - within the Etheric Pyramidal Temple
2. Abramelin Lunar Ordeal
3. Talismanic Portae Lucis
4. Invocation of Azrael - Conquering the Angel of Death
5. Abysmal Crossing (Daath Portal) and Qliphotic Path Working Ordeals

Another working that would aid in this process would be the full activation and operation of the Grimoire Armadel. I am certain that as time goes on, I will likely find other ordeals and operations that will aid the magician in achieving the highest level of personal achievement - accessing the Supernal Triad and assuming one’s own godhead in the material world.

These workings are made far more potent (and in some cases even possible) through the established role of the magician-priest. I would assume that many of these operations would make little sense or even be necessary for a magician who was following a completely different path, such as one where the practice of magick was achieved without any mystical pretensions or spiritual perspectives. To such a one, the ultimate achievement of union with the Godhead is completely irrelevant, therefore all such operations that facilitated this process would also be irrelevant. However, for the magician-priest, who must mediate the godhead through himself, this path and these operations are critically important. This is why I have made them part of the ordeals of the initiatory grades of the Order of the Gnostic Star.

Therefore, it is my earnest belief, and it is the path that I have established for the Order, that a practicing ritual magician should be both a priest/ess and a magician, mixing and blending the arts of magick and mysticism. This is why the Qabbalah is equally important to the work of performing magickal ordeals, and why a ritual magician should act as the high priest of his own personal religious cult. There might be other ways to ensure this harmonious blend of magick and mysticism, but this is the solution that I discovered, and it is the one that I have passed on to all initiates of the Order.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Canticle for St. Frater Barrabbas

According to John Michael Greer, I have passed the self-initiation grade and I am a believer in Peak Oil and the decline and end of our industrial civilization. I won’t, of course, live to see it happen, but I believe that John is correct in saying that there is little likelihood of a different scenario playing out. According to some of the experts, the year 2005 was the year of Peak Oil, and from that epochal date, the amount of available crude oil will slowly decline, following the reverse bell curve, until it becomes a scarce commodity, sometime in the early 22nd century. 
Will other forms of energy become available as alternates to the fossil-fuel based energy that we have been addicted to for centuries? I would say that it is very likely that forms of solar, wind and thermal energy will take the place of coal, gas and nuclear fuels; but they will not be able to completely replace our current level of energy consumption. Maybe some form of fusion energy will be developed and put into place before the decline really sets in. Still, that will take care of the need for electricity, but it will not fuel our need for transportation and the important use that petrochemicals play in our agriculture and industry. Perhaps we can travel and ship things via electric trains, or ships that use something other than bunker oil for fuel, but the days of modern cars, trucks, ships and airplanes are likely limited. Without all of these props of a modern technological world, our lives will be profoundly changed for all time, and we can be assured that changes of this kind will not be a good thing.

Mr. Greer is predicting a likely collapse of the industrial civilized world, and I feel that he is correct. You might disagree with him, but based on our currently available technology, a world without cheap crude oil will be one that will be severely diminished in many respects. Considering that the current technological world will probably not go out with a whimper but with a bang, our future progeny can expect to inherit a world wracked by endless wars, pollution, famine, pestilence, mass population shifts, mass population die-offs and the collapse of the fossil fueled based economy, technology and even civil government. Add to that radical climate change, and you have a fearful prognosis for the future. Since all of the governments in the world are unable and unwilling to make changes that might forestall such an eventual cataclysm, it would seem that our collective fate is sealed.

There is nothing that I can do to change this dire future except learn to live with less and at a much more modest level. This is part of my future retirement plan - survive on as little as possible without being poor or destitute. I think that it's possible for me to put together a life that is comfortable and sustainable until I am no longer amongst the living. I am going to try to go this route, ironically when many others are just seeking to retire at the same prodigious level of excess as their parents, or even greater. 
However, one thing that I would like very much to do is to assemble a small cache of books and writings, all of them occult related, and some of them would include my own works, place them into an airtight and water-proof chest of some sort, and burry it in some strategic place where it might be found many centuries from now. I can imagine someone accidentally finding this chest of books long after the apocalyptic end of civilization as we know it, and after opening it, discover the many occult writings and ideas of an unknown author and occultist named Frater Barrabbas Tiresius. Maybe if I am lucky, the person who digs up this chest will be a monk of some future monastery, where such information of the past epoch has been gathered together for preservation, examination and study.

I can imagine this monk, toiling away, carefully digging the chest out of its hole, then recognizing that it’s from that distant time before the apocalypse. He would then eagerly have it transported by a mule team to his monastery, where it will be opened and the contents examined. The monks won’t know who I am, but I will be a voice from the past, presenting to them an exclusive collection of preserved secret knowledge and occult speculation to puzzle over. Maybe they will speak English, or maybe they will speak some kind of polyglot. A few will know how to read and write standard English, and I can imagine my books and papers being carefully examined, categorized and then safely stored away. At some point they will be studied by some scholar who will note them as an important find, and then seek to pull from them whatever is useful.

Who knows, maybe the information stored in those books and papers will help to trigger a renaissance of occult thinking and magickal practices. I might even be considered some important mage from the past and have some degree of fame amongst the small community of literati. I might even be canonized, and some monk might write up a canticle celebrating my mythic deeds. It would be a Canticle for Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, a mage from the pre-apocalypse time of mythic ill-repute and grandiose excess.

My papers and books might not be understood completely, if at all - or they might even be considered heretical. Who knows? Yet if I don’t plan for the creation of this chest, filling it with books and papers that can last several centuries and carefully burying it, then these scenarios have no possibility of ever occurring. Since I do believe that the far future is one that is dire, with even a long period of dark ages, then I can at least be certain that all traces of my existence will be completely and forever lost. Therefore, I have decided to produce this chest and its contents, and burry it where it will be found, but not too quickly. It will be a time capsule into the future, and it will be my hope that the distant ecotechnic future will find it useful, perhaps even giving me a place of honor amongst sages in the unknown future.

No one can really know exactly what the future holds for all of us collectively, but I think that John Michael Greer and others of his persuasion have shown the future for what it truly is, a time that will challenge humanity and maybe even cause its extinction. I hope not, but let us be prepared for the worst, and perhaps because of our meager efforts, a better world will come to pass in the mists of the future age.

Frater Barrabbas

Note: Apologies to Walter M. Miller Jr., for his Hugo Award winning novel, “A Canticle for Leibowitz,” whose theme was used to write this article. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Experiencing Eternity - A Talismanic Portae Lucis Variation

Recently, I have become acquainted with the writings and teachings of the late Jean Dubuis, who was a French occultist, alchemist and magician. His system of magick combined spagyric forms of alchemy with astrological magick and the Qabbalah. It was a system that was steeped in traditional European occultism but modified by the influences of modern science. This was due to the fact that Jean Dubuis was also a modern nuclear scientist of some repute. Thus, he avidly blended his occult perspectives with cutting edge scientific theories and perspectives. Jean Dubuis was, in a word, a magician-scientist, which is actually a viable and interesting occult path.

A central magickal operation within Mr. Dubuis’ occult system was a process whereby a person could achieve a direct connection and report with powers and intelligences of the Supernal Triad. He called this the Experience of Eternity, and it was a necessary step for a magician to achieve the proper connection and linkage with his or her higher self. You see, Mr. Dubuis saw the Tree of Life in a linear fashion of ten consecutive planes, and merged the supernal triad into a single unitary sephiroth. He saw this unified sephirah as having three layers, the first and lowest, associated with Binah, was what he called Eternity, or timelessness. The second layer above that, which was associated with Chokmah, he called Space-less-ness, and the highest layer, Kether, he called the Unitary Principal or Black Hole. Suffice it to say, Mr. Dubuis focused on the direct pathway to achieve a connection with the lowest layer of the supernal triad, which was Eternity. This was to be accomplished by contacting and connecting with the three Sephiroth that would form a bridge, and these are Yesod, Tiphareth and Binah, or the Moon, Sun and Saturn. For this reason, he decided to focus his working, the Portae Lucis, on these three planetary aspects.


In addition, Jean Dubuis saw the Tree of Life as an evolutionary process, where the four Trees would represent the major levels of the evolution of manifested life. Mr. Dubuis saw that this process of material manifestation had two inherent processes, a downward thrust of the divine into material manifestation (involution), and an upward ascent where that manifested level of being would be evolved to the next level (ascension). These levels actually represent four different Trees of Life. The first Tree is the mineral  or crystalline Tree, the second is the vegetable or plant Tree, the third is the animal Tree, and the fourth is the Tree of Humanity. Each of the these Four Trees were associated with one of the Four Elements, attributing the mineral Tree to Earth, the vegetable Tree to Water, the animal Tree to Air, and the human Tree to Fire. Therefore, to transverse the Tree and to construct a bridge between the three Sephiroth of Yesod, Tipareth and Binah, the operator of this working must also engage the four Trees. Thus, we are actually talking about twelve elements in total. If one is able to generate and use these twelve elements, then a connecting bridge can be made so as to aid the operator in fully experiencing Eternity, and this is the objective of this working.

After carefully looking over Jean Dubuis’ core ritual, the “Portae Lucis,” I have determined a method whereby magicians of our Order could perform this working exclusively using the rituals of the ESSG. Granted, our way of working magick is startlingly different than Jean Dubuis’ methodologies, yet it is comforting to know that his working is quite readily translatable into our system. I would assume that this is because of the fact that both systems have the same basic core of occult principals.

First of all, I would advise you to consult a copy of Jean Dubuis’ ritual. You can find it in his writings and also at this website. Hopefully I have spelled that link correctly.

In that ritual, Mr. Dubuis requires the operator to charge sacraments of the four elements with the power of the planetary intelligences of three planets: Saturn, Sun and Moon. He does this to focus on the four different Trees of Life (mineral, plant, animal, and man).

In the ESSG, we would fabricate three talismanic constructs, one for each planet, and then all of the elements for that planet. So there would be a total of twelve talismanic elementals invoked, but four each would be used to charge a planetary talismanic construct device. A thirteenth talismanic elemental would be invoked to charge a talisman with the construct of Mercury of Fire, which would represent the lamen of the magician and his own personal Godhead aspect (in my case, that would be Hermes Thoth).

Once all of these talismanic elementals were invoked and set to the four talismans, then the actual working could be performed. We would use the nominal rituals for invoking a talismanic elemental and applying it to a talisman. These three planetary talismans would be super-charged, since they would actually contain four talismanic elementals each. I would consider these planetary talismans to be powerful keys to the higher planes of the supernal triad.

A ritual called the Triple Tetrahedral Gate would be used, and the gate nodes would be charged with the special talismans. This rite would be performed as close to the Summer Solstice as possible. For me, I would also, as a precursor rite, perform an invocation of my personal godhead Hermes Thoth (you can choose this godhead, or another one that would be more appropriate for you). The objective of this ritual working is to invoke the highest attribute of the self as Eternity, then to merge it with the soul of the magician at the Summer Solstice, causing it to pass through the specially charged Gateway of Ascension. What might also be very helpful would be to invoke the Godhead of the three sephiroth using the Archetypal Emanation Gate ritual, making a modification so that the qabbalistic world of Atziluth is set instead of Briah or Yetzirah. Also, the operator could just perform a series of qabbalistic contemplations on the Godhead, and path workings on the three sephiroth and their associated direct pathways. All of these ancillary operations would be performed prior to working the Triple Tetrahedral Gate ritual.

I believe that this ritual working would be quite effective and would very likely produce the same analogous results as the working that Jean Dubuis has proposed. This is, of course, an advanced working, and would require quite a bit of preparation. I would place this rite at around the sixth or seventh degree, but then that is just a suggestion on my part.

Anyway, I feel the desire to test this hypothesis between now and the next Summer Solstice. The talismans should be fashioned after the Winter solstice and the when the moon is waxing - of course. I will let you know how it turns out.

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Thoughts About Ritual Magick and Drug Use

This a pretty controversial issue that many occultists have discussed, causing a curious division between those who support such activities and those who are steadfastly against them. Both sides have some pretty strong arguments to support their opinions, and it sometimes has stirred up some strong passions. I am, on the other hand, going to take a neutral position in regards to drug use combined with the performance of ritual magick, since I actually find myself with both opinions.

As a child of sixties and seventies, I have been exposed to quite a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Taking illegal drugs has its own particular onus, branding one as either a radical or a social outcast. Even today it’s not something that you would openly admit to in front of a mixed group of strangers. During the seventies there were all sorts of experimentation going on with quite a host of different drugs, and it was trendy to be one of the experimenters. Yet I found it useful as a witch and magician to avoid drugs that severely debilitated me or endangered my health. I opted instead to seek out those drugs that might aid me in the search for extreme alternate states of consciousness. 
My purpose for seeking these extreme states of consciousness was to help me gain a breakthrough of sorts, so that I could experience more rarified and empowered magickal dimensions of consciousness. These experiments didn’t always produce the results that I was expecting, and at times seemed more like attempting to do something delicate and subtle with an overpowered and unsubtle tool. One way of describing this situation is to compare it to attempting to swat a fly with a cannon ball; where a deft and light fly-swatter would be a better tool for killing flies. This represents the difference between using meditation and using drugs; one is a normal internal process, the other, externally introduced and extreme.

As a practitioner of ritual magick, I was attracted to hallucinogens and steadfastly avoided opiates, amphetamines and other related pharmaceutical drugs. While everyone else was snorting cocaine in the seventies, I was attracted to marijuana and hashish, with an occasional LSD or mushroom trip. What I discovered over the years is that extensive drug use is very debilitating to one’s health, and it can be the cause of serious illness and even death. I have had old acquaintances over the years succumb to cancer, brain tumors, aortic aneurysm and other maladies because they had been very heavy drug users at some point in their lives. You can assume the same logic in the abuse of alcohol, cigarettes and pharmaceuticals. Abusing these substances is a real health risk, so the only alternative is to use them sparingly and for strategic purposes.

When I was a young man and believed steadfastly in my own immortality, I took risks with drugs that I would never even think of doing today. I also learned an important lesson many times over. I found all too often that divine insights, prophetic visions and incredibly creative ideas were far less significant and relevant after I was sober than what they seemed while under the influence of psychotropic drugs. Of course, this is not always the case, and some insights that I received were truly monumental; but most of the time what I produced under the influence of drugs was of a decidedly inferior quality.

My conclusion after years of experimentation, and an even longer period of hiatus, was that a small amount of psychotropic substances are all that is needed to achieve the desired results, and then, it is only done at a strategic moment. I found that the state of mind of being incapacitated by drugs ensured that the quality of ritual activity and self control was very poor, and the time it took to recover from such episodes became ever longer as I got older. That made working elaborate magickal workings accompanied by a liberal dosage of drugs a bad combination. Either you take drugs to have a powerful visionary experience, or you use meditation techniques to achieve the proper mental state to work elaborate rituals. I found the two activities to be incompatible.

There’s a very important lesson to be found in this minor revelation, but it’s just a practical outlook based as it is on some rather bad experiences. I admit that I have done some foolish things in my youth, and that I am much more prudent in my middle age. I also don’t confuse celebrating, having an attitude adjustment, entertaining myself or socializing with others as an excuse to medicate myself. I treat psycho-active substances with a great deal of respect, and would never use them as a form of personal entertainment. To me, these substances are sacraments, analogous to the Flesh of the Gods, and I approach them with a certain amount of awe and even a bit of trepidation. Sacraments that can bring a transitory period of enlightenment can also cripple the mind and damage the body, so they should be approached with the utmost care. This also means that one must get as much out of one of these sessions as possible. Nothing is more saddening or tragic than wasting such a precious gift as what the gods grant us through these plants and chemicals.

The real key to this methodology is based on the powerful effect of deliberately producing ecstasy in the mind and body. However that is accomplished, once it is triggered, it hastens a process of psychological transformation. If that transformation occurs when a person is at an important transition point in their life, then it will have a very strategic effect. Ecstasy is therefore the key, and drugs are just one of the many ways in which ecstasy can be deliberately triggered. Thus, there are other ways that ecstasy can be produced, such as through breath-control (hyperventilation), dance, music, bondage, scourging, and various forms of sexuality. All of these techniques use the body as the foundation for causing ecstasy; but there are other more subtle methodologies that are based purely on the mind alone. In mental induced forms of ecstasy, the mind triggers the ecstatic state in the body. As you can see, even when using the mind to induce ecstasy, the body is the base for all transformative techniques regardless of the methodology. In ritual magick, magickal power is experienced directly through the body, and it is that power which fuels the state of mind that quickly leads to experiences of ecstasy.

Approaching a technique for generating ecstasy requires a great deal of careful experimentation and a prudent balance of utilization and abstinence. If you use a technique too often, then it loses its power, or it can cause physical problems. What I have found is that if the mind can be powerfully tuned, sensitively anticipating the technique and loading it with expectation, then a smaller effort (or dosage) will be required to trigger ecstasy. This is the rule that I use in my magickal workings, since I have come to know that ecstasy is a fundamental technique for generating truly powerful and authentic magickal experiences.

I hope these comments and insights have been helpful to you, and perhaps you will avoid the foolish excesses that my generation was so guilty of perpetuating on ourselves in that wild, dangerous, and also very dull time of the seventies. Ecstasy is the key; but that key comes in many forms, each with its own virtues and problems.

Frater Barrabbas