Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Towards the New Year 2012

This coming year will be a real banner year for me, unless of course, the world ends as some folks think it might. As an occult optimist (or pragmatist), I don’t believe in mythic ends of the world. What happens is either determined purely by chance (the earth gets hit by a comet or a giant meteorite) or by the collective actions of the human race (decline of fossil fuel sources and rising carbon emissions). 
There’s also the local and national politics to consider, since this is going to be an election year of great importance. I might not be thrilled with many of President Obama’s decisions, but considering the alternative, I think that even Mitt Romney as President would be a disaster for our country. Listening to the Republican candidate’s debates and stump speeches makes the current president look better and better every day. I already know where my vote is going this coming year, and I hope that a significant portion of the rest of the country will follow suit. Hopefully, a year from today, I will be relieved that we won’t have to deal with another reactionary upperclass twit for a president. We have already had eight years of such a presidential wonder, and it led to two wars, a tanked economy and a massive national debt.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can now discuss what you’re really interested in reading, namely, what are the magickal tasks that I am going to do in the coming year. Hah! Surprised you there, didn’t I? Yet sharing these objectives might give you some ideas of your own. Every year at this time, I believe in filling up my plate with lots of magickal objectives and see how much of those I can accomplish in the next twelve months. It won’t get warm up here until mid to late May, so I do have some time on my hands to focus on some interesting magickal objectives, especially something that I can work with my girlfriend, and also write up to share with you, my readers.

“Start off the year with a bang!” I have always been a believer in doing something dramatic for the first month of the year, and this coming year I will be attending a weekend intensive workshop with John Michael Greer. He will be teaching a weekend long class entitled “Ceremonial Magic for Pagans,” from Friday, January 27 through Sunday, January 29. I am really looking forward to attending this intensive workshop, which is to be held at the local metaphysical store, Eye of Horus. I have always found it useful to compare perspectives with other pagan magicians, and I have found John’s books, blog articles and email correspondences to be insightful and even inspiring. I believe that John has quite a lot to share with the average pagan occultist, so I expect to learn something new from him. Of the many occultists and pagans that I have met over the years, John Michael Greer is one of the brightest and one of the best. He is one of those individuals that I consider to be a “remarkable person,” the kind of individual that an occultist should have among his or her collection of friends and associates.

I will also be attending and presenting classes at the second annual Paganicon convention, to be held on March 17th in the Twin Cities. I will be giving some thought to exactly what I want to present at the convention, and it will likely have something to do with the Qabbalah, so as to coincide with the manuscript that I have recently sent to Llewellyn. I will write up more details about the convention and what I will be doing there in the next month or so. I won’t be attending Pantheacon this year, unfortunately, since I need to preserve my financial resources for other more local venues, like Paganicon. Traveling out to San Jose and having to deal with the vagaries of the weather is also something that I don’t want to deal with this year. Last year I got stuck in San Jose for two extra days due to a snowstorm in the Twin Cities, and the trip home on a red-eye flight was a miserable experience.

My magickal objectives for the year 2012 are quite ambitious. I don’t know if I will be able to complete them all, but I will be, at the very least, performing another large ordeal. As far as writing and publishing more books, a couple of my book projects are stalled and need to be jump started so they can be finished and moved on to the next phase, which is editing and preparing for the layout stage. I will also need to acquire artwork, diagrams and cover illustration, so that will need time and resources as well. I think after the New Year I will look at where these projects are and see what I can do to move them forward. I also understand that the Qabbalah book project may take up some of that time I have reserved for writing during the year, as I undergo the process of making corrections and revisions to the manuscript. I am hoping that a year from today I will be able to eagerly anticipate the publication release date of that book.

So here are my magickal objectives for the year 2012.

1. Perform the Portae Lucis ordeal working. This ordeal requires quite a bit of preparation. It’s supposed to be performed on or just before the Summer Solstice. However, there are twelve talismanic elementals that will need to be invoked, along with their corresponding Lunar Mansions, so that I might generate three highly charged talismans for the planets Luna, Sol and Saturn. There will be an additional talisman (Mercury of Fire) generated that will represent my own personal spiritual contacts and my demigod muse, Hermes Thoth. I will begin to work on the talismans a full lunar cycle after the Solstice, so that work will start after the New Moon in January, and continue on through May. I will report on the progress of this venture, and I am looking forward to being able to accomplish this ordeal. It will certainly add another important step to my progress towards magickal ascension.

2. Invoke some of the spirits of the Theurgia-Goetia. I am planning on invoking three spirits in this list of spirits to help me refine and vet the ritual, which is called the Hexadecimal Vortex Pylon Invocation Gate. Although I haven’t yet actually chosen the specific spirits that I am going to invoke, I would like to select one of the 16 Elemental Dukes, one of 48 Zodiacal Elemental Dukes and one of the 7 Planetary Archetype Princes. In invoking three of these spirits, I will have at least tapped one of each of the target categories of spirits available in this system.

3. Invoke the angelic ruler of one of the 36 astrological decans. I haven’t selected one yet, of course, but I want to revisit this system of magick in order to fully access and work with the ha-Shem angels and the Goetic demons. I have developed some new rituals in this series that I need to test drive, as well as to prove the usefulness of the matrix system that I have adopted to define the basic qualities of these spirits. I have also discovered the seals associated with the ha-Shem angels, so that will be interesting to test as well. This objective can be delayed until the coming autumn or even a little later.

I would like to complete all three of these objectives, especially the Portae Lucis ordeal working during the course of the year. It will be quite wonderful to be able to work a powerful ordeal that will climax at the moment of the Summer Solstice. I must say that I am jazzed just thinking about it. The other two workings can be done whenever I have some spare time, which hopefully will occur during the long winter months, and also when late fall descends into the another winter later in the coming year. I know that this is quite an ambitious schedule, but I am hoping that it inspires me to be more engaged with working ritual magick in the coming year, since that is one things that has suffered somewhat in the previous year.

In addition to the magickal objectives that I have outlined above, I am also going to be doing some other things as well. Since my girlfriend is going to be very busy with her master’s degree during the summer, I have decided to take over the responsibilities for planting and tending our large garden. I am going to literally get into the soil and really explore that whole domain. This will be something new to me, but I think that it will really help me to better connect with the earth and growing things. My repertoire for a gardening regimen is to plant a cluster of vegetables just like the Native Americans did. I am going to plant corn, beans, potatoes, squash and pumpkins all together, with the corn stalks acting as a kind of natural trellis for the rest of the plants. Another thought about this methodology is that planting these vegetables together in clusters will help them grow, since the cluster of different plants will bolster each other by providing mutual soil nutrition. Anyway, I will give this ancient technique a try and see if that makes our garden much more productive than it has been previously.

I would also like to finish up writing my outdoor grove based magickal system and actually try it out in the grove. As the possessor of a really nice piece of property (3.5 acres adjoining wetlands and a shallow lake), I would like to make a real presence in my outdoor grove this year. The previous summer came and went too fast, and I was just too busy (and also sick for three weeks) to take advantage of it. I intend on remedying that in the coming year. Hopefully, everything will work out and I can perform some magick in the outdoors to add to my yearly accomplishments.

Adding to this large list of things to accomplish in the coming year, I would also like to adopt a more realistic approach to my finances (make up a budget and stick to it) and my health (develop and keep an exercise regimen and eat more responsibly). I will also have to help out my girlfriend through assuming all of the cooking and house cleaning chores while she focuses intensely on the more difficult phase of her master’s degree. I have plans for all of these tasks, and I will diligently seek to realize them. Since I am a Capricorn, I am typically able to adopt a list of tasks and to consistently work through them. I may not get all of these objectives met, but at least most of them will be successfully completed. Of course I will also be continuing to write, and hopefully I will be able to knock off some fiction writing, now that I know how to do that. You can also look forward to continuing to receive from me around two weekly blog articles for a total of eight a month.

Are you putting together a list of tasks and objectives for the New Year? I prefer to put together a task list than making resolutions, since a task list is a lot more tangible and realistic, in my opinion. I find resolutions to be more negative and often, too nebulous. If you have a resolution, then go one step further a put together a list of tasks that will make that resolution capable of being successfully realized during the year.

Finally, I am thankful to my readers for their continued support and thoughtful comments. Feedback for the blog articles has helped me to grow and learn, so the mere act of writing an article is really a two way street. I write these article to share my ideas and thoughts with you, and you leave comments to let me know if you agree, like what you’ve read, think that I am wrong or even delusional. Thanks to all of you and your occasional comments, together we have learned something new this year. Hopefully, that relationship will continue, to our mutual satisfaction So have a wonderful, safe and joyously happy New Year. May the magickal year of 2012 be a banner year for you, too.

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ordeals of High Magick in Tallahassee

So what were those three ordeals that I was able to perform while living in Tallahassee? My home at that time was the perfect place to perform elaborate rituals that required multiple days to complete. I had no nosey or loud neighbors to contend with, and once I was sequestered in my apartment with the phone unplugged, I was free to perform rituals for hours, and I did. Every year, starting in late October and running through early March I would perform a major ordeal. The first ordeal was performed in the winter of 1990 - 1991 (First Enochian Ordeal), the second ordeal was broken into two parts: the winter of 1991 - 1992 (Heptarchia Mystica) was part one, and the second part was performed during the winter of 1992 - 1993 (Greater Enochian Ordeal). In the winter of 1993 - 1994, I performed the third and final ordeal, which was the Ordeal of Spiritual Archeomancy.

First Enochian Ordeal

Here are some quoted text taken from the Book of the Nephilim, part 1, which defines the specific nature of the first Enochian ordeal. This is an unpublished book from the Order’s lore that is still undergoing editing and refining. I thought that this text would explain the nature of the ordeal in greater detail than what I am able to relate off of the top of my head.

“The First Enochian Ordeal is divided into seven distinct tasks. The first four concern themselves with the Invocation of the Four Archangels [Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel]. Each Archangel has been mythically given a role in the act of sealing the Enochian Mysteries from the profane. They therefore act as Guardians as well as Guides to the information being sought. The justification for applying to the Archangels for this knowledge, besides the fact that one knows enough to ask, is the proof of the Deity's favor as established by the successful manifestation of the spirit through the ritualized activation of the Eneagrammic Gate. This sacred domain of the spirits serves as the key for allowing the whole process to proceed, without it, the petition for the wisdom of Enoch would fail.

[The Eneagrammic Gate is a ritual construct consisting of three different personal aspects of the Deity, three animated statues orientated to three different gate structures. The combination of the three gateways and godheads produces a potent personal spiritual domain through which the first ordeal is performed.]

Each Archangel that is invoked is asked to reveal the special knowledge through which the Nephilim may be directly contacted. There are four principle knowledge base tools through which this contact may be established, and these are:

  • Opening and Closing the Threshold Gate to the Inner Planes;
  • Revelation of the Mysteries of Shemiezez, his magick current of Ceremonial Archeomancy and his special cult;
  • Transformation pattern [initiations] of the Chenoch and the preparation that is done before the threshold of the Inner Planes;
  • Revelation of the Mysteries of Azazel, his magickal current of the Magician Warrior and his special cult.

The Archangels will facilitate the revelation and organization of these four knowledge base tools prior to contacting the Nephilim. The Archangels will also act as advisors and wardens for the celebrant, and thereby protect one from all potential harm.

The Fifth Task represents the invocation of the Archangel of Spirit (Ratziel) and through its sovereignty summon the Primary Agency of the Enochian current, Naluage. Also, the magick Tablet of the Mystery of the Seven Rays is charged with the Talismanic Elemental of Mercury of Fire, thus establishing the connection with the Spirits of Light who are called to assist the future tasks of the working. While the traditional Enochian system has the fifth archangel listed as Annael or Aniel (Glory of God), I have chosen Ratziel (Mystery of God), since that entity is more involved in the actual myth of Enoch, and Aniel is just another way of spelling Haniel, the archangel of the planet Venus. The fifth task is broken up into two ritual workings, the one that will invoke the talismanic elemental and charge the Tablet of Mystery, and the other one is for the invocation of the archangel Ratziel.

The Sixth and Seventh tasks are the Invocation of Spirits of Shemiezez and Azazel. In these actions the celebrant will use the Gate of Revealing to establish a full Invocation of their Spiritual Intelligences. Subsequent skying sessions will reveal more of the material of the Enochian System of Magick, which will assist in its full re-immersion. Also, the ritual of the Enochian Mystery Vortex is used to establish the foundation of the Enochian system of magick that uses the Nephilim as its source.”

In my opinion, the Nephilim represent the “Briatic” source of the Enochian system, but the alignments that Dr. John Dee established in his skrying sessions were also not ignored. Particularly, the five Archangelic Intelligences who acted as the wardens and sponsors of this occult knowledge and are an important link, as well as the Primary Enochian Agent, Naluage. Also included are the Spirits of Light, and the Tablet of Planetary Intelligences, of which the Mercurial Daughter of Light known as Madimi is of special consideration. This represents the complete repertoire of the first Enochian ordeal.

Heptarchia Mystica - Part One of the Second Ordeal

The first part of the second Enochian ordeal was a system of magick that could invoke and evoke one of the 49 Bonarum, or Good Spirits. I had previously determined that these spirits were actually binary planetary intelligences. As simple spirits consisting of two planets active within their combined intelligence, they represented a polarized planetary force that seemed much more like a psychic artifact or mental complex than any other type of planetary spirit.

You can easily imagine the kind of quality one of the spirits would possess if it consisted of the planets of Venus and the Sun. If the Sun were the base and Venus the qualifier, then one particular quality would be evident, and if Venus were the base and the Sun was the qualifier, then another quality would be evident. For instance, from the Heptarchia Mystica Concourse of Forces, the following qualities are associated with the two binary planetary intelligences of the Sun and Venus.

Sol/Venus  -  The sharing of esthetic values for beauty and culturally significant artistic expressions. Sun base represents the expression of the Arts, Venus base represents their enjoyment and critique.  (Bornogo, Bagnole)

Then there is this definition of the spirits of the Heptarchia Mystica, which I will quote here from the specific concourse of forces document in the Order’s library.

“The hierarchy of the Heptarchate consists of seven dignitaries under the leadership of one of the seven Principles. The stations of the dignitaries are represented by seven royal titles of the monarchical system of mediaeval Europe.

The first and highest is the King, followed by the Prince, the Duke, the Baron, the Count, the Earl and finally the Knight. The monarchical quality of the spirits of the Heptarchate was described partially by Dr. John Dee, and thus followed a natural progression upon which to build. Dee only described the first two positions of nobility within the Heptarchate, but it seemed reasonable to apply the rest as they are currently known.

[One of the assumptions of this system was that the planetary archetypes were also represented by the seven Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, from Yesod to Binah. If one were to unify this system, then the next higher sephirah would be selected, namely Chokmah.] 

The Principles ruled the Kings who ruled the rest of the nobles within the planetary dominion. However, there was also a ruler who joined the seven Principles to a single will, and that ruler represented the sephirah of Chokmah. The prime ruler was called Carmara, and it ruled the seven Kings and Princes Heptarchical. The spirit called Hagonel ruled the Sons and Daughters of the Spirits of Light (Talismantic Elementals), and the 42 Ministers who govern the powers of the Green Ray of consciousness. Correspondingly, the other six Principles also have 42 minsters who govern their associated Rays. The ministers appear in the form of a talismanic tablet that is a matrix of letters seven across by six down; thereby enclosing the names of the associated six Heptarchical Spirits.

The combination of the seven stations of nobility under direction of the seven Principles constitutes the matrix of 49 binary planetary intelligences. These spirits are the intelligences of the Heptarchate and emanate from the 7-fold spiritual archetypes. These seven archetypes are resolved in an eighth, which represents their union. These seven also represent the mediation between Atziluth and Assiah through the world of Yetzirah; and the product of this mediation is the spiritual hierarchy of the Sons and Daughters of the Spirits of Light, (7 × 4).”

An ordeal that could be used to fully engage this system of magick would consist of invoking seven of these Bonarum spirits, with the base being represented by the seven different planets (the qualifiers could be any of the seven planets). Thus all seven of the Heptarchate spirits would be summoned and fully experienced, each performed every weekend, for seven continuous weeks. The eighth and final working would consist of invoking the eighth spirit, Carmara, and to configure the already invoked Heptarchate spirits into a septagramic gate structure. The combination of all eight spirits would simultaneously produce the vortex structure that would completely reveal the holistic Enochian system of magick. I performed this working in 1992, and it was so successful that I am still seeking to digest all of the material which I was able to reveal. I hope to have a completed system written up sometime in the not too distant future.

Greater Enochian Ordeal - Part Two of the Second Ordeal

Since I had identified that the Nephilim were the spirits who had supplied the bulk of the Enochian wisdom and whose heretical teachings consisted of an entire system of magick, it became imperative that I invoke all four of the chiefs of these spirits. Therefore, I performed a long series of rituals to specifically invoke these demigods and their associated demi-goddesses, the daughters of Lilith. Since there were 20 chiefs of the Nephilim, and also 20 daughters of Lilith, I found that this was no coincidence. Therefore, I proceeded to invoke another two of these chiefs of the Nephilim (Turiel and Ramatael), and then invoked the spirits of Enoch, Lilith and finally, Seth.

A final point of consideration concerns the lineage of the Enoch (or Chenoch) as an initiated body of adepts who have mastered the methodology of Inner Plane workings. The actual techniques that they used have been lost, so they exist only as fragments in the Western Mystery Tradition. It is the primary goal of this working to reestablish these techniques and to reorganize them into a complete system of modern theurgy. 

From these entities I was given parts of a new system of magick. In fact, from the invocation of Lilith, I received a completely unique system of performing an invocation. Instead of building a custom invocation rite for each spirit, I instead was shown a way of performing an invocation through a matrix of symbolic correspondences. If I could find corresponding symbols and other occult qualifiers (including attributes of deities), then I could use those correspondences to perform a modular invocation rite.

This magickal technology was revealed to me from the invoked spirit of Lilith. From the spirits of the Nephilim, I was able to build up an Enochian Qabbalah and an integrated system that included specific godnames and archangels. It was a radical departure from the traditional Enochian system, and one that I am still working on today.

Ordeal of Spiritual Archeomancy

As if these two ordeals of Enochian magick weren’t enough to keep me occupied, I also received a completely new magickal technique from these workings. I called this technique “Spiritual Archeomancy,” and the advanced workings that this new methodology helped to explore literally blew me completely away when I later performed them. Not only was this an unprecedented magickal system, but it was also intelligible to others. I shared these workings with Trevor, and then later, with a few other members of the Order, and everyone who experienced them was profoundly impacted.

I had previously devised a system of Archeomancy that invoked through the matrix of the Qabbalah of the 40 Worlds, which is represented by the Tree of Life as projected through the Four Qabbalistic Worlds. The 40 cards of the Lesser Arcana of the Tarot (Naibs and Aces) could also be used to represent the matrix of spirits that could be invoked through this Inner Plane domain.

Through my workings I had discovered another new system of Archeomancy that was based on the Aethyrs and the geometry of the back side of the Tree of Life. In this methodology, the angles (vectors) of the triangular structures of the Tree of Life lattice (skeleton of the pathways without the ten Sephiroth) were directly attributable to the Aethyrs, and that there were 56 of these entities instead of just 30. This information had been imparted to me from the Nephilim, Lilith, Enoch and Seth through the various Enochian magickal invocation ordeals that I had previously performed. Since this methodology was not associated with any kind of traditional Enochian lore, it put me into a place of completely stepping outside of what Dr. Dee had written and presented in his diaries. I was, in a word, in completely undiscovered country.

Spiritual Archeomancy has its own special purpose, since it gives the operator complete access to the triangular dimensions found in the Tree of Life. If you count these triangles, there are a total of 18. However, two of the shapes (above or at the Abysmal gateway of Da’ath) are actually trapezoids, making this system asymmetrical and much more interesting. In an unpublished document that discussed the magickal system of Archeomancy, the functional parts of this new methodology were thoroughly discussed. I shall quote a few paragraphs here to more succinctly define this system of magick.

“The domains that are defined in Spiritual Archeomancy are based upon the triangular shapes that are found in the structure of the Tree of Life and are bounded by the twenty-two paths and ten Sephiroth. These triangular structures have not been named nor defined in the traditional Qabbalah. However, by the very nature of the discipline of the Qabbalah that states that all structures in the Tree of Life must be considered significant and in some manner, accounted for, we must seek to define them. The space surrounding the Tree of Life has been defined as the Three Negative Veils, and the reverse side of the paths and Sephiroth have been defined as the Qliphoth (shells). The triangular shapes between the paths and Sephiroth have not been defined, and I have discovered that they also have an important significance. According to traditional Qabbalists, there are two Qabbalahs, the revealed Qabbalistic lore that we possess in written and oral tradition, and there is an unwritten Qabbalah, which is called the Spiritual Qabbalah. I believe that the undocumented triangular shapes have something to do with this unknown and secret doctrine.

I propose that the key to the Spiritual Qabbalah is revealed in the definition and revelation of those domains consisting of triangular shapes found in the Tree of Life, and I have deemed to call these shapes the Qabbalistic Dimensions. There are eighteen Qabbalistic Dimensions in the Tree of Life, and two of these dimensions actually have a trapezoidal shape instead of a triangular shape. Thus compounding the mystery of these eighteen dimensions are two that defy the patterns of the other sixteen, and are therefore of even greater significance. Herein are great mysteries for the boldest and most imaginative of occultists into which to delve, discovering for themselves the key to the unwritten and apparently unknown Qabbalah.

The Qabbalistic Dimensions have as their qualifiers the paths and Sephiroth that reside on their boundaries. However, there is also another qualifier that consists of the vector or angle where two paths and a Sephirah are joined. If one counts all the angles that are found in the structure of the Tree of Life, then fifty-six will be counted and identified. These angular vectors of the paths represent a spiritual process active in the Tree of Life. I have chosen to associate these spiritual processes with  those mysterious Aethyrs that John Dee had listed in his Enochian magickal diaries. However, John Dee identified only thirty of these Aethyrs. Yet if one counts the angles from the bottom right dimension, then proceeding to the left dimension, and then crossing up to the next dimension on the right, and he/she continues counting in this manner until all thirty Aethyrs are so placed, then the approximate boundary of the Greater Abyss will be revealed.

Those additional twenty-six Aethyrs could be said to exist above the Abyss, and so would not have been visible to John Dee, since he did not realize the Qabbalistic implications of the Aehtyrs nor their place in the Tree of Life. And perhaps Edward Kelly was himself too awestruck to attempt to pierce the veil. Other magicians have used the thirty Aethyrs in their magickal workings, most notably Aleister Crowley, and have assumed that they spanned the Tree of Life in some fashion, where the final and the highest Aethyr was associated with the Supernal Triad above the Abyss. Because they believed this was the truth, their experiences were shaped by that truth. However, until now, no one has adequately placed the Aethyrs in the scheme of the Tree of Life, where they should be an integral part. The Aethyrs have found their place as the determining quality in the definition of the Qabbalistic Dimensions.

The Qabbalistic Dimensions are defined by a combination of path, Sephirah and Aethyr; they collectively represent the facets of the teleological process of the Deity and the destiny of its associated individual sentient souls. To unlock the mystery of a dimension is to reveal a part of the Divine Plan, and also the individual’s association with the fulfillment of that plan, however great or small.”

Beginning in the year 1993, I tested this newly derived system of magick, and the results were spectacular. Trevor and I both performed the working, which took the entire weekend to complete. The final results were mind blowing. Prior to that long weekend, I had also invoked each of the three Aethyrs that were associated with the lowest dimension, which incorporated the Sephiroth of Malkuth, Yesod and Hod, and their associated pathways. The resultant egress into the 18th and lowest dimension had far ranging effects, and in fact, I was still processing that experience a year after it was performed. In performing this magick, I had approached the Tree of Life as a veritable map of the Inner Planes, and had entered what would seem to be completely new spiritual universe.

Two years later I had managed to enter into the 17th Qabbalistic dimension and experience even greater revelations and empowerment. After another year, I then joined both dimensions into a fused Qabbalistic structure that revealed still more lore and a greater degree of empowerment. In all, these three workings represented a methodology and ritual technique that had no previous representation in any magickal tradition that I was aware of. It was a new system based on some very cutting edge Qabbalistic and Enochian speculation.

I have not performed any further workings, but I am planning on picking this operation up again in the future, and I will seek to gain entrance into the two trapezoidal shaped dimension situated just below the Supernal Triad. I have all of the materials that I need to perform these new workings, all I need is the time and the commitment. Other projects have intervened, but I am hoping to continue with this technique of Spiritual Archeomancy in the next few years. 

Once I had accomplished these three ordeals, it became obvious to me that I had gone far beyond what the functioning temple in Kansas City was able to either perform or even digest without my direct intervention. In 1991 the temple had split into two groups, with one group abrogating the work that I had set forth, and the remainder of the primary group continuing with the workings. This smaller group only managed to perform part of the first Enochian ordeal, and the rest of it was either beyond their abilities, resources or just wasn’t as relevant.

After a couple more years, the last functioning temple group had broken up, but my own work continued with renewed vigor and at an accelerated pace. I did share the Spiritual Archeomancy working a couple of years later with Frater Arjuna, but no one else in the Kansas City group was either interested or capable of engaging with this work. Knowing its importance, I have proceeded to refine and document this system of magick. Even so, the documentation is not yet complete, and there are piles of notes, diaries and other materials that await the time when I will draw them together into a completed series of books, which I have called the “Sepher ha-Nephilim.”

Anyway, I lived in Tallahassee for over four years, and then, as predicted by a few of the powerful spirits that I had conversed with, I was promoted and sent to Santa Fe, New Mexico by the company for whom I worked. The next important part of my life adventure had begun, and by the summer of 1994, I had relocated to that small strange town in the middle of the old west. But that is another tale which I will relate to you at another time. The time that I spent in Tallahassee was highly valuable, both from the standpoint of the occult, ritual magick and also my career. I had progressed to new levels in all these arenas. I had also avoided having to deal with the cold and snow of winter for a period of five years.

Even though I had traveled yearly for a while to Kansas City for the annual Heartland Pagan Festival, most of what I had worked to establish in that town was sadly diminished. So I looked forward to my new adventures in Santa Fe, even though that meant that I would have to endure the snow and ice of a mountainous western town, known for its enchanting vistas, unique architecture and Spanish Colonial and Pueblo Indian cultures.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where Winter Has No Domain - My Southeastern Refuge - Part 2

Tallahassee and the Great Magickal Revelations

Oddly enough, Tallahassee is where I performed some of the most incredible magickal work that I had ever performed before. The reason was two-fold: I had a perfect magickal temple space, and my magickal work had matured to the point where my rampant creativity seemed to have no boundaries. It was the time when I created the system of magick that I call Archeomancy, and greatly deepened the lore of the Order, bringing it to the exceptional level that it now occupies. I also managed to map out the practices that became the lore of the inner order, or the initiatory degrees of fifth through seventh. I also had quite a number of friends, although only a few were actually interested in the magickal work that I did. It was a very exciting time for my magickal development, and I reveled in the new lore that I was developing.

At that time I lived in a wonderful two story, two bedroom townhouse located on Keily Run off of N. Paul Russell Road. The first level had a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and dining room. The second level was a fully enclosed master bedroom with adjoining full bathroom and an alcove (with sloping ceilings) that could function as a walk in closet. I set up this alcove as an occult study area where I kept my grimoires and other ritual documents. The master bedroom had a door leading to the stairway, so the entire area could be closed off for maximum privacy. The master bedroom had high arched ceilings and even a small round window at the apex point where the angled ceiling met the wall. There was also a wooden plant shelf ensconced there, which I used for the placement of magickal icons. The only problem with that temple was that the vaulted ceilings made cooling difficult, so it was often too warm to work magick robed, even at night. Because it didn’t get cool in Tallahassee until November, and then it warmed back up in March, I was limited to doing my more engaging magickal work during that four month period. I lived in that fabulous townhouse from 1990 until I moved in the summer of 1994.
Tallahassee was a very marginal town in regards to occultism and paganism. If it weren’t for the two large universities (FAMU and FSU), I would have found it quite intolerable to live there. There was just one tiny occult bookstore in town, and very few individuals seemed to visit it. However, through that store I met two individuals, one of whom would be important to my occult work. One was a young college student named Trevor, and the other was a local pagan and witch named John. Trevor turned out to be a good friend and a magickal accomplice. We spent a lot of time going over the Order’s ritual lore, and he assisted me in performing some of the more complex workings. John, on the other hand, introduced me to some people who became my friends, but my association with him was short-lived. I found John to be completely unethical and untrustworthy. He seemed more interested in spreading malicious gossip about me and then innocently pretending to be my friend. After busting him more than once, I decided to break my ties with him. Yet through my association with Trevor, I met many college students from FSU who were interested in paganism and occultism, although not to the degree that Trevor and I had established for ourselves. Because of my friendship with Trevor, I had an inside connection with a younger crowd than I might have had, being by this time, in my mid thirties.

The office where I worked (on Old St. Augustine Road) was within walking distance of my townhouse, and most of the other necessary stores and services were just a short drive away. Tallahassee was a small town, and parts of it were quite old, but I found it a pleasant place to live. It never snowed there, and only some of the trees briefly lost their leaves in the winter. Late February was the beginning of Spring, and in March, the temperatures went back up to the high 70's and low 80's. Summer time, which lasted from around April through October, saw average temperatures in the high 80's and mid 90's, the air saturated with high humidity. It often rained in the early afternoon during the summer, too. Since I was expected to wear dress shoes, slacks, a buttoned down shirt and tie, I often had to wear short sleeved shirts (looking sort of like Dilbert), and I would skip wearing a suit jacket. The heat and humidity made it imperative to wear a new set of clothes every working day, even though the office was heavily air conditioned. The brief periods of being outside in the hot summer would cause my shirt to be soaked with sweat. Laundering was a weekly affair that took up my Sunday afternoons until I could afford to take them to the Laundromat.

Tallahassee is an old southern town, with cypress trees and Spanish moss growing everywhere. There were avenues that were framed by trees and hanging moss forming kind of a natural tunnel called canopy roads, which looked quite picturesque. The town was surrounded by a forest and a swamp, and in fact some of it was just down the two lane road that adjoined my apartment complex. This made Tallahassee into a haven for alligators and various breeds of snakes, not to mention a hoard of mosquitoes and lots of other bugs. I also heard that at one time, perhaps more than half a century ago, it was a place frequented by malaria and yellow fever, although there appeared not to be any cases of it by the time I lived there. If it wasn’t for air conditioning, I doubt that it would be habitable there for most people. In finding a place without any winter I had also unwittingly found a place that was almost unbearably hot several months out of the year. 

Often I would leave my car parked at the apartment complex and walk to work, cutting across the municipal golf course to get to my office. Because the apartment complex adjoined the golf course, there were typically golf balls in the yards and the parking lot left there from individuals who would terribly slice their drive down the fairway which ran parallel to the complex. In fact one weekend day someone had their car window badly cracked, setting off their rather loud car alarm, simply because a falling golf ball had bombarded the parked car. I also recall that the car was an expensive silver grey Mercedes, obviously owned by some rich parents visiting their college student son or daughter. I am quite certain that they were not pleased with the surprise. Since no one came around looking for their lost ball, there was no one to blame for the damage. 
Luckily, my car and townhouse were never hit by these errant balls. I also never bothered to learn golf, so I have no idea what hole number caused so many balls to be sliced to the left and bombard the complex. I only ventured onto the golf course a few times, and mostly at night. One time I remember having a very enjoyable sexual tryst on the downy soft grass of some dark fairway with a young woman. That was about my only real scoring engagement with the peculiar game of golf.

Tallahassee had a large contingent of strident feminist witches who called themselves Dianics, but who were actually more aligned with Reclaiming. Of course, I was a traditional witch and also a middle aged male, so I was pretty much excluded from that group. There were also some rumors being spread around about me (probably by John) that I was some kind of sexist and sexual predator, which was pretty funny because I had been practicing a form of strict celibacy at that time. I did that because I felt it was necessary for the magick that I was working and also to avoid involving myself with someone who might turn out to be too great a distraction. I had been burned by the “Girlfriend from Hell,” so I was attempting to protect myself. Therefore, accusations about me being a sexual predator had a high degree of irony associated with them, since I was about as squeaky clean as any man could be.

Looking back on those times, I can understand my need to create boundaries and to stave off the disaster of a previous bad relationship; but to live in a town that is filled to the brim with very attractive young women while declaring to be celibate was amazingly stupid. While I was pining for a relationship and putting out magickal feelers and asking the Goddess to help me fulfill that aspect of my life, I was also inadvertently turning down a lot of opportunities for having some good clean fun. To this day, I continue to scratch my head about why I behaved in this manner. It’s my assumption that the Goddess was trying to help me resolve my issue with being single, and I was turning a complete blind eye to all of the potential possibilities that came my way. I sort of wonder if the Goddess found me to be an exasperating idiot. Examining some of my magickal diaries at the time, it would seem that the spirits were trying to tell me what was going on, but I was too oblivious to get it.

During my stay in Tallahassee, I also became involved with a coven of witches in Tampa. One of my old students and initiates (Debra) had assembled a coven in her home in Tampa, and requested me to act as High Priest because she lacked any qualified male to take that role. Since I was her elder and former teacher, and had recently moved within a five hour drive of her home, it seemed to me like a good thing to do. For a year or so I traveled down to Tampa for Sabbats, teaching sessions and initiations. I met and became friends with the members of her coven, and experienced some really wonderful gatherings down there. Tampa had a much larger pagan community, and through my connections down there I also attended some pagan festivals and community Sabbat gatherings. I had the best of two worlds - working high magick with myself or with Trevor, and then traveling down to Tampa to celebrate the Sabbats. One of the more memorable initiations that we performed was when we initiated Jacky into the craft. She was vivacious young woman who was just beginning her path. We incorporated a “seining” rite where the candidate was immersed in the salty brine of the Gulf surf as part of her initiation. I still have the ritual that we used, and it was really quite beautiful and inspiring to celebrate that part of her initiation rite on the beach at night.

As you can see, my life was very full, and even though I lived in a small college town (and the State capital of Florida), I had a lot of pagan and occult contacts. I still visited my friends in Atlanta from time to time, too, so it was a truly great time for me. My involvement with the coven in Tampa drew to a close after a year or so of being the high priest. I had some rather heated disagreements with the high priestess and felt that she would be better served selecting someone else to fill my role. Even so, I remained friends with some of the coven members long after my tenure ended. Trevor and I proceeded to work some very advanced ritual magick together, and I also performed a number of ordeals by myself. That work managed to help me to complete three major ordeals, and they took me to a level of magickal work that was far beyond anything I had ever imagined. Previously, I had only been rewriting and reworking rituals and techniques that I had initially invented in the early 1980's. Now I was inventing lore that was completely new and different. Here is a brief description of those three ordeals. (I will write more detailed descriptions of these workings in future articles.)

(To be continued...)

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice 2011

It is the time of the Winter Solstice and I am on an extended vacation for the next three weeks. I want to first wish everyone a very pleasant and happy holiday season. Be safe, be warm, have a feast, and give a tribute to the Sun God (in whatever form you might perceive him), whose life is renewed this day for another year. I have always loved this season, no matter where I have lived or under what religious regimen I was subjected.

Growing up, I never really got too deeply into the Christian aspects of this holiday, since the wintry weather, the spirit of the changing year and diminishing light had its own magick for me. While I might find myself dragged into a church on Christmas Eve or Day, the whole religious aspect of this holiday was always quite unreal to me. I found the images of Santa Claus, his elves, the reindeer and the sleigh, and the giving and receiving of gifts, along with the colored lights, decorations, songs and the ubiquitous Christmas tree and wreath to be quite magical and wonderful - and I might add, tangibly real. Although I didn’t believe in the customary religious considerations of Christmas, the magic of the season was something that truly inspired me! However rotten things had become in my dysfunctional family life, all of that seemed to be forgotten for the weeks between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. After that, things went back to being grey, colorless, boring and at times, frightful and abusive. (No wonder I found such a haven in the study and practice of magick!)

Much of that magic has disappeared now that I am middle aged, but I find that it’s still there, under the surface, waiting to come out. As a pagan, I can easily relate to the various secular tropes of the season, but the whole ‘birth of the savior’ theme is quite alien to me. Rather, I see it as the rebirth of the Sun God, but I suppose that the Christian theme is analogous to the pagan one. Every year during the holiday season I find myself looking for something special, miraculous and amazing. I guess that’s where the giving and receiving of gifts comes into the traditions of this time, and it’s something that I still very much practice. You give gifts to those that you love and care about in the hopes that it might touch them in some special manner. Conversely, you hope to receive something very special and meaningful from someone that you love - something that you will remember for many years. It is the magick of that moment which makes everything that happens during this holiday season so much more significant and special, even if nothing special is externally received from anyone. I suspect that the real true meaning of this mystery is to be found deep within oneself, and also deep within the mystery of the season itself. This year I am going to be seeking out something special for myself. It won’t a present or a gift received from someone, but instead it will be some undefined quality that will give me a special and meaningful joy.

Also, this season is the second anniversary for the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal that I performed two years ago. It was in December of 2009 that I performed the core of this ordeal, and it was a year later that I determined what I needed to do to complete it. I will certainly be taking up my specially consecrated ring and going into the magick circle, saying a Mass, and calling my HGA to commune with me. I will seek to be grateful for all of the good things that have come my way, and the fact that I am still employed and employable, and that there is plenty of food and drink, good cheer and friends to share it all with. I will be thinking about all of the Solstices of the past (and there are many to think about), and I will also be thinking about what I should do in the future. It would seem that in terms of my magickal and spiritual development, I am at a very pivotal point in my life. I have accomplished much, but there is so much more to develop and complete in the days and years ahead. Since I am no longer young, I don’t feel as though I have an unlimited amount of time to complete my life’s objectives. Anyway, I will be taking some time out to commune with the ghosts of my past and future as the holiday season expands and wanes, to become only a fading memory in the hearts of most, but not all.

Thankfully, the winter has come upon the Twin Cities in the gentlest of ways, softly announcing that winter is here, even though there has been very little snow and most of the ground is bare. November had some warm days, and even now in December, it isn’t too cold yet. I hope that this mildness continues, even though I know it won’t. There will be snowy and cold days yet to come, until late April of next year ushers in the transitional (and brief) time of Spring. I will be waiting for that change with an open heart and pining soul, since three weeks of my last summer were stolen with a terrible cold. I intend on reclaiming those days by getting outside and communing with nature more intensely this coming year, when the sun returns and the warms breezes of May arrive.

May you all have a blessed holiday experience, and may your cookie jar be filled with the cookies of your choice, of course!

(And don’t forget to love your kitties, if you have any.)

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where Winter Has No Domain - My Southeastern Refuge - Part 1

The next phase of my life was quite an adventure compared to the settled years of living in Kansas City. It was the summer of 1989, and I had started yet another job with another company. This one was with a telecommunications consulting firm, and I began to get paid a lot more for my DP expertise than previously. However, working for a consulting company is pretty chancy and hazardous with unwanted changes. I sought to leave Kansas City and explore other locations, and one opportunity that came my way was to work in Atlanta. Atlanta was a much bigger town than Kansas City with a warmer climate and more opportunity. It was a very urban environment mixed with a lot of rural and folksy life-styles, a social striation that happened due to the local indigenous population being infiltrated by a host of east coast refugees. It was probably, at the time, one of the fastest growing communities in the U.S., and therefore I decided to throw myself into it to see what happened.

I was living in an apartment with Frater Arjuna when this sudden call to move to another community came upon me. I managed to leave town without causing him too much disruption, and the temple group seemed to be both stable and independent. I was free to leave if I wanted to. So it was in the late summer, I departed Kansas City for Atlanta and engaged in a rather messy and piecemeal move to that large town. I had to learn how to drive very defensively and navigate around that sprawling metropolis. Little did I know how capricious my fortunes would be living in that town with my new job position. The whole situation would last seven months before I would be relocated again. Yet in that short period I made some very important friends and contacts, and had some very interesting adventures. I also made some enemies, too, and had a completely disastrous relationship with a women, whom I later called the “girlfriend from Hell.” I won’t dwell on that situation or discuss it in much detail, only to say that when a young man has moved to a new large town, he often makes alliances that are later regrettable. I was something of a fool and an easy mark for predatory women, a weakness that I wouldn’t conquer for many years to come.

What I was seeking was a new and exciting life, and the pleasant experience of missing winter altogether. I had no idea what winter would be like down there, and even asked a few locals if the leaves would actually change like they did in the north. (They do change, and winter can be cold, damp and even a bit bitter, but without the accumulation of snow.) I had to move into a rather small apartment located outside the perimeter, but I did manage to at least quickly find a place to live. After a few weeks and haggling with my employers, all of the my stuff arrived (more or less), and I was able to put together my own household. I was once again living alone, and that would continue for 16 more years. Needless to say, I was much too busy with my job to spend time actually working magick, but I did have time to develop new lore, and to study and research things. That hiatus would last for less than a year, since my next home would have the required temple space for performing elaborate magickal workings. What I then possessed for temple space was a cramped alcove in my Atlanta apartment, which was useful for saying mass and doing some minor magickal work, but not much else.

Atlanta was, and still is, a very dark and sinister town. By dark and sinister I mean that it is pitiless to those who are seeking their fortune there. It has a very exploitative underworld that consumes men and women and then discards them like so much refuse. That underworld is based on strip clubs, peep shows, small pornographic movie production facilities, S & M clubs, heterosexual and gay prostitution, extensive and widespread drug use, and even some clandestine gambling - in short, every kind of vice. Because Protestant Christianity has such a pervasive influence there, these vices are not joyful expressions of a liberated population, but the vices of a very guilty people who should supposedly know better but succumb to human weakness anyway. Since Atlanta is a major convention center in the southeastern U.S., and it even annually hosts the Southern Baptist Church convention, the city has ironically adapted to cater to any and all needs, however perverse, illegal or immoral.

Outside of the central urban area, Atlanta is actually heavily wooded with tall spindly pine groves growing wherever possible, and all of it is covered with a carpet of kudzu. Abandoned homes and cars are gracefully covered over by the fast growing vegetation, giving it a kind of greenish feral quality. However, there is an implicit boundary in Atlanta that begins just below midtown and continues for miles south through the downtown area towards the airport. It encloses an inner city ghetto that is quite severe and dangerous, even in broad daylight. I have heard rumors that there are neighborhoods in that inner city where even the police won’t venture except when there is a fire or a major accident.

When I moved there, Atlanta had a burgeoning occult and New Age community and boasted nearly a dozen stores and numerous occult, pagan and wiccan groups. Yet that community was already in decline in 1989 when I moved there, and has steadily diminished ever since. Endemic witch wars shattered the wiccan community, and some occult organizations had very seedy reputations. To my knowledge, there are now only two stores left, and both of them reside in the same neighborhood. There are a couple of nice botanicals as well, and one of them has been in business for decades. However, the sex business is still booming, and those who are engaged in it as purveyors of fleshy fantasies are making a lot of money. Those who are its youthful pawns are nothing more than commodities to be used and then discarded. The occultism of Atlanta has been invariably tainted by this remorseless underworld, although, as always, there are some exceptions.   

I had some interesting adventures meeting some remarkable people in Atlanta, a few of which would turn out to be very important to my later occult work. After looking over the underground newspaper for the Atlanta area (called “Creative Loafing”) not long after I moved there, I found that the occult and pagan community was quite large, in fact, much larger than it was in Kansas City. There were a lot of Eastern traditions, represented by Japanese, Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism, Indian mainstream temples and Indian Tantra, and a host of New Age organizations. I also found some advertisements for a local chapter of the O.T.O., and a few witchcraft organizations, most notably, the House of Ravenwood and the Unicorn Grove. I checked out these organizations and snooped around the many occult book stores, and it seemed like my new home was very promising in regards to occult activity. However, what I soon discovered was far less interesting and engaging for me personally.

Eulis Lodge was what the local “body” of the O.T.O. in Atlanta was called at that time, and since they were having an open house, I decided to check them out. I finally found where the lodge house was located (on North avenue, just a few blocks down from the infamous night club Masquerade), but it was in a metro area that bordered upon the beginning of the inner city. Around the block from the lodge house were dilapidated tenements adorned with trash and abandoned cars. It was an obviously economically stressed neighborhood. I found out about this because I went around the block after missing the address of the lodge house. I opted to park my rental car across the street in a vacant industrial parking lot and then walked across the street.

The lodge house was in a state of serious disrepair, and it immediately reminded me of the infamous fraternity house in the movie “Animal House.” Inside, the walls of the house were decorated with various perforations, showing the rib-like timbers behind the ablated plaster board and chipped paint. I also noticed the pervading smell of urine and garbage, and the lack of any kind of air conditioning. The air inside was humid and quite disturbing with the funk of rot, tobacco and unwashed bodies. This atmospheric miasma didn’t recommend itself to whatever was going to be presented at the so-called open house. I also noticed a massive collection of occult books on a shelf in the hallway, and upon examining a few, I noticed that many were the first editions of some of Crowely’s best books. However, all of the books were suffering a slow decomposing death in the humid and fetid atmosphere of the lodge house. A couple years later I bought the ten volumes of the Equinox from the remains of that library through a mutual friend of the past body master, and they still have the stamp “Property of Eulis Lodge” on them. (They were serviceable and inexpensive, but still bear the marks of misuse and an overly humid environment.)

As the open house was about to begin, a tiny handful of erstwhile seekers (like myself) gathered in a room with a few rickety tables and chairs, and a chalk board in front. The body master, whose name was Bill Padgett, stood in the front of the room and began to lecture those of us who were passively sitting before him. He was boasting about the great initiatory line of the occult order of the O.T.O., beginning in ancient Egypt and proceeding in an unbroken line to the present. Any real questions about ritual or ceremonial magick (respectfully asked by individuals such as myself) were inexpertly deflected as irrelevant to the current discussion. He smoked a cigar as he talked, occasionally puffing on it, flicking the ashes on the floor, and even offered some for the refreshment break. The stench of cigar smoke added to the already reeking environment, and I wondered if anyone ever burnt any incense in that house.

By chance I happened to sit at a table that shortly became occupied by a young blond woman who was dressed up in full punk regalia, with multicolored hair and a bizarre set of clothes. She was attractive enough, but was too far out for my tastes. She got my attention when she told me offhandedly that she was a stripper. I also noticed that she was popping some pills while slurping her can of Diet Coke. Although they looked like proper pharmaceuticals, I got the sense that she was doing it for the high rather than for some medicinal need. Another individual sat down next to her and possessively put his arm around her. He introduced himself as Allen Greenfield, and then proceeded to tell me that the woman I was sitting next to was his, and he said it to me in a very firm manner. “This woman is mine! M-I-N-E!” I felt like saying to him, “So what? S-O W-H-A-T!” Needless to say, I was quite put off by the whole spectacle, and I found the lecture to be irrelevant to my particular occult interests. No one talked about magick, and I was treated as if, as a non-initiate, I couldn’t possibly know anything interesting or useful.

The final annoyance to an overall disappointing and unproductive evening was when I had to give Allen and his drug-addled squeeze a ride to their apartment. While in the car, Allen tried to recruit me by telling me how great the order was because they knew so much about magick. He informed me that I would be foolish not to eagerly join. I listened to him boast about himself as I drove, but I had already made up my mind. I wasn’t ever going to return to that lodge house for any reason. One humorous aside, when Allen’s girlfriend got into the back seat of my rather fancy rental car, she whined to him, “Why can’t we have a car like this?” Allen said nothing in response to this whining complaint. From what I later heard, whether true or not, he had previously blown a six digit inheritance on various frivolous vices and was now fairly pinched.

Some weeks later, when I related my experience to my associates in the KC ESSG temple, they coined the label “that ghetto Eulis Lodge” epitomizing my overall experience, and soon afterwards it found its way into the writings of G. M. Kelly, much to the annoyance of Bill Padgett and Allen Greenfield. One of my protege’s in the temple happened to know Mr. Kelly, and told him the whole story while talking on the phone to him. He published an excerpt of it in his Thelemic Newsletter along with a humorous anecdote, and word eventually got back to Bill. I had burned a bridge, but in my mind, it wasn’t really an important one. I decided at that particular point in time that the O.T.O. wouldn’t ever be on my radar in regards to joining an occult group or receiving any ancillary initiations. Of course, that opinion would be remarkably changed later on when I moved to Minneapolis, but that was not until nearly a decade had passed.

My regretful open house experience with the Eulis lodge had pretty much curdled any interest I might have had in the O.T.O. Later on, when I was on temporary assignment in Dallas (while still living in Atlanta), I met a feminist Thelemite who was running a body in that town. I told her about my experience and the reputation that the Eulis lodge had in the city of Atlanta with other occultists, and she was so outraged that she reported our conversation to individuals who were members of the Grand Chapter. They, of course, had a conversation or two with Bill Padgett, who likely found even more reason to despise me. I imagine that he succeeded in assuring his leaders that nothing bad or disreputable was going on at his lodge, but that must have been cold comfort for all concerned.

A couple of years later, Bill dropped out of the O.T.O. and handed the Atlanta body over to Allen Greenfield, who managed, either through neglect or incompetence, to get the lodge closed down by the Grand Chapter. Since that time, at least one other body was forcibly closed, and the O.T.O. organization in Atlanta was still attempting to rectify itself as a competent and earnest occult organization years later. While other O.T.O. groups have shown themselves to be exemplars of occult practices and possessing a peerless magickal knowledge, the Atlanta bodies have been much more akin to badly run fraternity houses, with all of the onerous notoriety which that implies.

I have already mentioned that I spent a few months in Dallas on temporary assignment. From December to March I actually had two residences, one in Atlanta and one in Dallas. I was able to contrast both cities at that time, and I found Dallas to be a lot more open and filled with potential for me. I met a man who called himself the Fish, who was 6' 5" and weighed around 300 pounds. He was the bouncer at a friendly strip club (called “Southern Belles”) and was also an avid occult student. The people I met in Dallas seemed really interested in me functioning as a teacher and initiator. The Fish had a number of friends, including several women who stripped for a living, all of whom desired to have me as their teacher and pagan spiritual leader. 
Unfortunately, I had to leave Dallas after my assignment had ended, but I found myself wavering between attempting to find another job or assignment there and making my temporary residence permanent. I felt at the time that Dallas was just a lot friendlier and open to my way of working magick. Had I stayed, there’s no telling what might have happened. I would have easily been able to form a new magick lodge just with the folks that I had already befriended. After I shut down my temporary residence in Dallas and moved back to Atlanta, the Fish stayed in contact with me, and even visited me the following year. For a few years thereafter, he was keen on learning to master the lore of the E.S.S.G. Because of the Fish and his famous complaint about the steepness of the Order’s learning curve in regards to its lore, I began, in 1992, to write the Pyramid of Powers, my first attempt at writing a book about the magick that I had invented.

However, as I have previously said, I did meet some remarkable people in Atlanta who became long term friends. Their perspectives and insights helped me to master the new ideas and materials that I found myself acquiring through my research and later intensive magickal work. When I moved to Tallahassee, I rented a large townhouse that had an upstairs master bedroom dedicated exclusively as an enclosed and sequestered temple. It was a grand and wonderful time, which lasted for four years, and it also represented a period of career stability and opportunity. My Atlanta adventure only lasted eight months and my consultant job ended in April of 1990. Since I had received very little in regards to any kind of severance pay, I had to quickly find a replacement job. I managed to secure an employment possibility with a company who promised to pay me much more than I had been previously paid by the consultant firm, but the stipulation was that I would have to accept a corporate move to Tallahassee, Florida. Without any other prospects in hand, I decided to take the one in Tallahassee, so by the middle of that month, I had moved down to that town, and soon afterwards, my stuff arrived as well. Even though I had moved to another town, it was a mere six hours drive to Atlanta, so I managed to keep in touch with my friends there, and would, from time to time, come up to visit.

(To be continued...)

Frater Barrabbas

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Impressions of Taoism and the Tao Te Ching

Of all of the Eastern systems of mysticism, the one that I find most akin to my own beliefs is Chinese Taoism. There is something natural, earthy and simplistic about Taoism, and also something that explains the mysteries of life and magick in a concise and profound manner. Unfortunately, my source for Taoism isn’t some faraway monastery in China, or even Boulder Colorado. It’s from the Gia-Fu Feng translation of the “Tao Te Ching” that I have gained a personal connection with Taoism, and I see it as one of the ways of describing the very spiritual core of natural paganism and ritual magick. 
I realize that Taoism would seem to be far removed from Western occultism and quite foreign to the practice of ritual magick, but I found that it speaks volumes to me about the very core of the universal spiritual essence in a manner that is superior to any other book that I have found. To me, the Tao Te Ching is a most splendid counterpoint to the hustle bustle and frantic activity of a modern life - or even a modern practice of paganism and magick. For some reason, the Tao Te Ching cuts through all pretensions, revealing to me (and others) the source of all being-ness and its silent, dark and mysterious pathway as it effortlessly threads itself throughout all Life and Spirit.

Unlike other spiritual movements, the actual author of the Tao Te Ching and his history is unknown. He is called Lao Tzu, the Ancient Teacher, but nothing is really known about him, where he was born and when he lived, who was his teacher or point of inspiration. How long did it take him to write this book, and what were his intentions for writing it? Lao Tzu’s name is obviously an honorific, since his real name has remained unknown. All of these questions are never satisfactorily answered, so the author, his mission and intentions are a mystery. All we have is the book itself.

Tao means “the way,” Te means the right way to live, and Ching means text, so Tao Te Ching means the “book of the correct way for humanity to find the way of nature.” I think that this is a remarkable task for all those who espouse an earth-based spirituality - to find the way of nature and emulate it in one’s life and practices.

To celebrant the fact that I am a closet Taoist, I would like to share some of my insights and my particular awe for one of the oldest books of earth-based intuitive wisdom. Even though this book is steeped in the Chinese mysticism of the 6th century BCE, it speaks to me in a timeless but modern and contemporary voice. I hear it clearly as if it were just recently written, and I feel its words presenting to me a reality that is at once infinitely complex and inherently simple. It is the nature of the Tao to be essential, unknowable and the mysterious path between extremes, following a course that perfectly balances the cosmic Yang (archetypal masculine) with the cosmic Yin (archetypal feminine). Perhaps the most profound chapter amongst the 81 chapters of the Tao Te Ching is found in chapter six, where we read that:

The Valley Spirit never dies;
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.
It is like a veil barely seen.
Use it; it will never fail.

I have interpreted this chapter as promoting a form of earth-based Goddess veneration, that it also presents to me a form of transformative magick and a kind of Tantric discipline. It has many levels of interpretation, and each time I read and meditate on it, the words grow and expand in my mind. I literally feel chills when I ponder this simple chapter of five lines, as if the words speak far more than my poor mind can grasp.

Yet the really exceptional chapter (and they are all exceptional) is the very first one, which I have memorized and periodically use in my meditations.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Every desiring, one can see the manifestation.
These two spring from a common source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

The author of this chapter, like many of the following chapters, takes the point of one perspective, then looks at its opposite, rotating from Yin to Yang, and back again. This is done in a dispassionate manner, merely stating facts and observations without any judgement. The main concept is that the Tao, obliquely defined as the source or the way of nature, is inexplicable. It has no definition and no form - it’s like an uncarved block or a newborn child.

To name something is to give it form, and that in turn causes it to be no longer capable of being the Source of All. Yet there is no fault associated with this perspective, since it is important to perceive reality from both the perspective of being “desireless” and also “desiring,” or naming and also allowing something to be nameless. As long as we avoid attempting to classify and attribute qualities to things that are of the Spirit World or of Deity, and then attempting to not only explicitly define them, but to believe that our definition represents an absolute truth, we will not err. Mental models are useful, but they fail to truly capture the essence of anything - they are maps, but not the territory.

This brings to mind the concept of defining our gods, giving them qualities and a mythic context, and then believing that what we have derived is somehow the whole picture. What we name and define in regards to the domain of spirit does in fact become limited and detached from the true mystery of that world. When we engage in religious liturgies and give images to the aspects of our Deities, then we have pulled them away from the true reality of Spirit, which is inexplicable and completely unknowable to the rational intellect. What that means is that even as we make mental models and Deities with attributes and human likenesses, we need to leave a lot of room for variations and the unmistakable entry of mystery and spirit. This is because what we assume and believe is always far less than what the actual truth is in regards to the Spirit World. To name and identify something is important, but to believe that the name truly represents it is a falsehood. The true way of nature and spirit is beyond human conceptions and definitions, and if we can embrace that amazing insight, then we will be free to experience the mysteries whenever and wherever they might occur.

A few other chapters of the Tao Te Ching also help to make this point very clear.

Returning to the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.
The ten thousand things are born of being.
Being is born of not being.
(chapter 40)


In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.

Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.

The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.
(chapter 48)


Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain to the divine.
Being divine, you will be one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And although the body dies, the Tao will never pass away
. (chapter 16)

I could go on and on, but there is little point in doing that. The simple quotes above all point to a profound natural wisdom of the earth and its ceaseless cycles. Instead, I should contemplate this wisdom and seek to find that place of power and peace within me, and ultimately, I may know the True Way of Nature, which can’t be written, spoken about, named or in any manner defined or identified. The true mysteries are inexplicable and all around us, if we can just shut off the ceaseless mental talk in our heads and really witness it for only just a moment.

As Lao Tzu has so eloquently put it - “Those who talk do not know, those who know, do not talk.” May I be embraced by the silence that is deafening and the emptiness that is full. May my head be emptied of non-essential beliefs and my heart be opened to all possibilities. I hope that you have found this meager introduction to Taoism to be useful and perhaps even seductively enticing. I will be occasionally presenting more ideas like this in my articles to counterbalance the heavy orientation to mental models and definitions.

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thoughts About the Real Hogwarts

A lot of people who love the Harry Potter stories and have read the books (maybe even more than once) have taken some of the obvious fictional concepts of magick found in them as truly representing the methods whereby one becomes proficient in the art of ritual or ceremonial magick. Of course, these books are completely within the literary domain of fiction, and the author has maintained she didn’t incorporate any real occult lore into the stories. Anyone who is a real practitioner of magick and who has even a passing knowledge of the stories would agree with Ms. Rowling’s opinion. Real magick isn’t at all like what is practiced in the stories, but some folk, especially a lot of kids, seem to think that it is. Others have capitalized on this misconception, yet the best of them offer a compelling variation on the themes that Rowling has created in her books. I am, of course, referring to Oberon Ravenheart’s “Grey School of Wizardry,” which I believe is an excellent bridge between the fantasy of Rowling’s Hogwarts and real pagan occultism. You can find a link to Oberon’s website here.

However, as a fan of Rowling’s books (yes, there is a child-like side to me, too), I have often thought of what a school of magick would be like if I ran it. You could imagine that it would be called something like Frater Barrabbas’ School of Pagan Magick, or maybe the “Pansophic Academy for the Dilettante Dark Arts.” How about the “Occult Guild for the Ultra-self-absorbed?”  Anyway, I would like to present the kind of occult curriculum that I think would be important and useful for someone to begin the road of mastering the art of ritual magick. Gee, what a catchy phrase - it would make a good book title, yes? Oops - it already is a book title, and in fact, it’s one of my own. Sorry about that - just another senior moment of mine. Let’s continue with the article at hand.

So what would I propose to teach in a school dedicated to the kind of ritual magick that I practice? That’s a good question, and even if I never get around to actually building a school with a regimen of occult course work, going over a curriculum would at least give my readers an idea of which topics I consider important, and which ones I don’t think are important. Anyone who has studied for a time is going to have their own list of topics, but since this my blog, we shall momentarily allow me to indulge myself. What would the Barrabbas Tiresius School of Magick curriculum be like.

I won’t bother putting together a four year curriculum where students would be spoon fed their subjects over a period of time. Instead, I will assemble a group of topics that I consider to be crucial for an aspiring magician. I will let each individual take as much time as they need to master each topical area, but I will emphasize that some degree of mastery is important. Anything less would lead to possible problems later on, either in the area of confusion or personal delusion. Anyways, here goes - let me know what you think of this curriculum.

1. Divination - Perhaps the most important mechanism for occult self discipline is the mastery of divination. In the Harry Potter books, divination is considered the least important of the classes that a witch or wizard should take. Yet, in my personal experience, it is likely the most important topic that anyone aspiring to be proficient at ritual magick could possibly learn. The reason why this is true can be simply stated: “A magician who is unable to work any form of divination is effectively blind and insensitive about the greater mechanics of the Spirit World.” Not only does divination open a window into the Spirit World, but it also facilitates a sensitivity to paranormal phenomena and helps one to understand the symbolic language used in that domain.

Elements and aspects of the Spirit World are revealed in a rational manner through divination, and it also allows the magician to understand his or her world, fate and personal destiny. Without these tools a magician can only guess at what is required or needed for a successful operation or how to work on a specific problem and be capable of successfully resolving it. If the occult were so opaque (cut and dried) that divination wasn’t needed, then it wouldn’t be called the “occult,” now would it? The Spirit world is very oblique and inexplicable, so it expresses itself only through symbols and allegories. Not knowing the language of occult symbols and allegories and trying to function as an occultist is like attempting to communicate in Italian without knowing any of that language. Learning divination teaches the aspirant to understand the symbols and allegories through which the Spirit World communicates its mysteries. Competent ritual magicians should be fluent in several forms of divination, although they will likely be exemplary in only a few. Here’s a list of divination systems that a student should learn, and they are listed in the order of greatest importance first.

  • Astrology
  • Tarot
  • Geomancy
  • Runes
  • I-Ching
  • Crystal Skrying
  • Pendulum and Dousing
  • Palmistry
  • Aura sensing/seeing
  • Envisioning or Dreaming True

There are, of course, many more, but I think that these would represent the top ten.

2. Qabbalah - Yes, I know what some of you are thinking - why the Qabbalah? Well, as a meta-system for all religious and occult systems, I think that a working knowledge of the Qabbalah is very important. Since most occult systems refer to the Qabbalah, knowing it would seem to fill in a lot of blanks that would otherwise remain unfilled if one were ignorant of the Qabbalah. Also, if we consider that working any kind of magick is greatly enhanced by a competent ability with the Qabbalah, then it could only greatly aid the erstwhile student to master it.

3. Pagan theology and liturgy - This is where religious practices and magick coincide, and for the type of magick that I work, it is a very important intersection. Liturgical rites would include all forms of rituals and workings that involve spiritual alignment. Pagan liturgy would include the rites of devotion, spiritual service, godhead invocation, communion, charging and blessing, and the most important, godhead assumption. Such rituals require an in-depth knowledge of theology, choosing a pantheon, knowing the myths, stories and songs, the proper offerings and methods of devotion and service, as well the calendric rites and celebrations in order to produce the final product of such a regimen of study, and that is a spiritual discipline (to augment the magickal discipline). In addition to the above, training in meditative postures, temple dance and movement, meditation, contemplation, visualization, trance work and body work, grounding and centering would also be important areas of mastery.

4. Magickal Theory and Practice - Learning the theories and mechanisms of the three basic models of ritual magick: Energy, Spirit and Psychology. Of course, there are specific methodologies and techniques that are strictly within these three models, but most systems of magick incorporate all three. So the ultimate aim of any such training would be to identify the usefulness of all three models in a single system of magick. Learning to write good rituals and ceremonies for all occasions as well as the optimal methods of ritual performance would be the ultimate goal of this course. 

5. Practical (Earth-based) Magick - Learning the most simple and basic techniques for making changes in the material world (through a mastery of the operant link). This methodology would include using different systems of divination and magick to chart a life-based strategy, both for short term gain, and for long term material mastery. Also included in this instruction would be learning how to acquire and manage information, to be able to effectively research and discover strategic data, especially inside or intuitive based information, and using it to develop a larger perspective useful for charting one’s life-path. Another important topic would be to learning how manage one’s finances and to create and follow a budgetary plan. (You would be surprised by how many occultists have problems with mundane money issues.)

6. Mundane Arts and Sciences (All of the external studies important to magick) - History, Anthropology, Biology, Psychology, Geometry, Sociology, Comparative Religious Studies, Music, Poetry, Linguistics (magickal languages), Literature, etc.

7. Craft Works - learning how to manufacture magickal tools, devices, talismans through metal, wood, textiles, and leather work, using painting and calligraphy, performing candle making and oil lamp management, food preparation, flower arrangement, theatrical works (makeup, masks, stage lighting, script writing, directing, blocking, and acting), herbal lore, acquiring and using magickal substances (elixirs, supplements, drugs), basic local and continental occult geography, woodcraft (camping) and mastering the four mundane elements.

So these are the seven areas that would be the main course curriculum for Frater Barrabbas’ Pagan School of Ritual Magick. I supposed that you could either emphasize one category or another, or even add additional ones that I have forgotten or omitted. The above categories would represent the list of things that I have at least dabbled in or even mastered in my many years of my magickal practice. Of course every magician would likely produce their own list, so I would like to request that if you can think of anything else that might be added, or perhaps put together your own list, please write up your thoughts in the comments section of this article. You might even write up your own blog article, too.

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thoughts About Magickal Ethics

I should also entitle this article - “What to do when virtue fails!”

Recently, there was a hotly discussed topic concerning ethics and magick between various blog authors in the blogosphere. I was busy at the time and didn’t really have time to respond to the various threads that were out there. I won’t bore my readers with the details or name any of the individuals who were engaged in this discussion (it was just the usual suspects anyway). The real crux of the issue is whether or not ethics is important in the practice of magick.

Some have stated that there should be a course in magickal or occult ethics that goes with any book or course on how to practice magick. Ethics do impact such disciplines as the hard sciences, soft sciences, business colleges (although one would think that such tropes would be quickly dropped once in the real business world), and even large corporations and professions. A lawyer can be disbarred for unethical behavior, and a doctor can lose his medical license for a similar lapse. The company I work for has annual training sessions in ethics, and requests its employees to report unethical behavior whenever it occurs. I would assume that this is rigidly enforced to ensure that the company retains its good reputation and avoids costly legal battles where possible. So if ethics seems to be important in the exoteric world, then it must be also important for the esoteric world as well.

Yet when it comes to working magick, ethics is a very subjective quantity. Witches are supposed to align themselves with the Wiccan Rede, written by Ms. Valiente, however, she never wrote this slogan with the idea that it was to be used as some kind of law. For those who might be unfamiliar with this slogan, it has been variously quoted as “Eight words hath the Wiccan Rede - And it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Some have compared this law with the similar sounding slogan derived by Aleister Crowley from the “Book of the Law,” but they are quite different. Even so, the slogan about not hurting anyone was always taken as a suggestion or guideline by Ms. Valiente and not put forth as a defacto law. Of course, if you think about it, abiding by this law takes the teeth out of being a witch in the first place, so many, especially the old guard (such as myself) will tactfully ignore it.

If there is any kind of ethics to be used in witchcraft proper, it would be to keep oaths of secrecy, don’t cheat, curse or steal from coven members, and don’t get caught by the authorities doing malefic workings. Otherwise, witches have always been known as being outside of the laws of the land, so as “outlaws,” they are free to do whatever they wish to do. The only caveat is that they take responsibility for their actions, and if things go wrong in their magickal operations, then the only one to blame is themselves. This is based on the folk tradition of witchcraft, and is often the place where one goes to determine a realistic approach to working witchcraft outside of a strict tradition. Some traditions of witchcraft are rather strict about performing what would be called “black magick,” but other traditions rely on the common sense of the operator.

I believe that anyone who calls themselves a witch should have the ability to defend themselves and to use whatever means necessary to protect themselves from the predation of others. Working malefic magick isn’t always the answer to a problem, and sometimes solutions can easily be found using one’s common sense or what I call the direct approach. When wronged, I always use the direct approach to getting justice, and when that fails, only then would I resort to magick, if indeed, it is warranted. You see, that is the key to this whole issue, which is what I call justification. If you are justified in working magick against someone, and you have exhausted all other approaches, then you can perform your malefic working with a clear conscience. If it fails or backfires, then it’s completely your fault, and only you will reap the consequences. Perhaps the easiest way to find out if you are indeed justified is to talk to someone who is not involved with the situation and see if they agree with your opinion. If they strongly disagree, then you should seriously rethink what you are about to do.

When I say exhaust all other possibilities, that’s exactly what I mean. If someone threatens you or any of your loved ones with physical violence, then contact the local constabulary and get a lawyer. If someone is threatening you with a lawsuit or claims that you owe them money (and you don’t), then contact a good lawyer to guide you and protect your interests. Same thing if someone has cheated you out of money or taken something from you. You can also work magick to ward yourself, your home and your loved ones in addition to using more direct methods of self-protection without having to resort to cursing someone. Still, if the direct methods fail to protect you, or if you are unable to get the justice that you deserve, then more extreme magickal methods are open to you. Of course, this assumes that you are justified, since working negative magick to force unjust results could readily backfire. This caution also applies to what I call a guilty conscience. If you aren’t sure of yourself or if you feel any regret about doing something wicked to someone, then you shouldn’t do it. Otherwise, as a witch, you may proceed to “puttin’ a hurtin’ on someone.” The key to the ethical consideration is that you are eminently justified in taking this kind of action (others think so), and you feel very, very strongly that it is both right and good.

These kinds of actions are typically called “black magick” by the masses. I see them as the kind of magickal workings that seek justice and self protection and the protection of one’s loved ones. These represent what any witch must consider when virtue fails. When your back is against the wall, you come out swinging, using whatever tools are at hand to get justice, retribution and to retain your personal honor. I know that some folks will be dismayed at what I am advocating here, but if you are engaged in a life or death struggle, adhering to Queensberry rules (and fighting fair) is a complete waste of time.

My approach to ethics is to use common sense, a dispassionate analysis of the problem, ask other people’s opinions about the matter, search out other ways to resolve the issue, including talking, writing letters, engaging a lawyer and/or contacting the authorities. I reserve the use of forms of negative magick when all other means have failed. So far, I have very seldom had to resort to performing any kind of malefic magick in nearly four decades of being a witch. So now that we have gotten that issue covered, we can move on to other more interesting topics.

Frater Barrabbas