Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Invocation of the Spirits of the Nephilim part 1


This is part one of a series of articles that will demonstrate the results that I encountered many years ago when I sought to invoke and contact the spirits of the Nephilim, namely the four greater chiefs of that body. I use the term Nephilim to describe the fallen angels of the Sons of God who came down to earth to mate with the “daughters of men” as well as their offspring, who were considered giants (men or women of renown). From these spirits I received a body of lore and a perspective on Enochian magick that is completely unprecedented. I would like to share with my readers some of the lore that I received from these entities and to demonstrate that the Nephilim are indeed highly important to the Enochian system of magick. I will first begin with Azazel, whose actual name spelling (according to the Dead Sea scrolls) is Azael.

Enochian Ordeal Workings

These series of ritual workings will attempt to reveal the secrets of the source of the Enochian Current of Magick. Because present research has revealed the importance of the Beni Elohim (as the Nephilim), the rituals of this working have rejoined these entities with the Enochian system of Magick.

The Nephilim represent the source of the Enochian system, but the alignments that Dr. John Dee established in his skrying sessions are not ignored. Particularly, the five Archangelic Intelligences who will act as the wardens and sponsors of this occult knowledge 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.

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. 

Notes from the Invocation of Azazel

The Invocation of Azazel was performed using the same techniques as the Invocation of Shemiezez. (I will be covering that invocation in a future article.) The Gate of Revealing was the focus of the operation and the Invocation ritual was patterned from the Invocation of Chiramael (who is the archangel of the Order of the Gnostic Star).

The correspondences for the planetary characteristics of Azazel were discovered when the Enochian Mystery Vortex was initially performed, revealed as such by the hosts of the Nephilim. As in the Invocation of Shemiezez, the Invocation of Azazel was performed within the interior of the Enochian Mystery vortex.

In previous workings, it was revealed that Azazel was the Spiritual Warrior and Visionary of the Nephilim. However, it was also revealed that Azazel was the acting Priest and Devotee of the Great Goddess. So it seemed appropriate that Azazel should be consulted for questions concerning the methods of Sex Magick, Initiation of the Priestess of the Grail, the importance of the Grail as a symbol of the Feminine Spirit, and also the technique of assuming the clairvoyant trance through which the future destiny of an individual or a nation might be determined. These items were said to be the knowledge that Azazel possessed, representing the core of the Enochian Magickal lore.

The Invocation itself was not particularly remarkable, once again there wasn’t any visual imagery, but the personality of Azazel was quite tangible, and he nearly assumed a recognizable form. Whereas Shemiezez was very mysterious and subdued, Azazel was direct and eager to communicate. I could almost perceive a large well proportioned middle aged man with red hair and a full red beard, dressed in brilliant colored robes of purple and scarlet. I heard him bluster and even tell off-color jokes, none of which I remember, or if I did, wouldn’t want to repeat. However, he also showed a keen understanding of human nature and a deep compassion for the troubles of human existence. Azazel desired that all men and women seek and gain from life that which they most desired. He believed that no one should feel cheated by life, when life itself was so precious. A point that Azazel repeated several times is that people create their own destinies, whether or not they are consciously aware of it. He felt that all that was needed to find fulfillment in life was to become aware of this process of creating one’s own destiny and taking conscious control of it. This task, though, when completed could make a person into a kind of ascended master; such is the importance of mastering one's self so completely.

The Power of the Pleasure Trance

The most important information that Azazel related to me was something called the pleasure trance. The pleasure trance consists of a High Priest and High Priestess who assume the roles of the God and Goddess respectively, and who worship each other in a form of projected idolatry. This process forms the basis of the masculine and feminine Eidolons. An Eidolon is defined as a temporarily manifested incarnation of the Godhead. Prior to the assumption of the Deity, the Priest/ess performs whatever methods necessary to block the egoic identity and allow the Godform to manifest in an unbiased manner. This blocking of the ego is, according to Azazel, the basis for all Dionysian type magickal or mystical practices. What this means is that the basis of the Enochian system of magick is Dionysian. Ecstasy plays a key role in blocking of the ego.

[Polarity as expressed in this kind of working can be assumed to take other forms as well. For instance, if two men are performing this rite, then they would assume complimentary Godheads that would establish an analogous polarity between them similar to a heterosexual union. The same is also true in the case of two women performing this rite.]

The pleasure trance begins at this point of magickal worship and veneration of the Godhead where the couple proceed to sexually arouse and excite each other, each playing one of the sexual roles of the two deities with total objectivity. This moving and caressing, making slow passes over each other with the hands and the body is called the dance of life and death. Through it one feels the ebb and flow of the powers of procreation and ecstasy (Life and Death) and expresses them through the body. The pair of partners also consecrate each other with oil and do other things that enhance a sybaritic response, and these collectively bring on a powerful arousal. The Priestess then assumes the asana of the Sacred Altar, and they sexually join. This is done by first stimulating each others’ chakras, then physically joining while applying a bandha or lock upon their anal chakras. The power is drawn up from the base chakra through the genitals to the heart, where it is made vital and empathic. The Crown chakra is opened and the Throat chakra channels the power of the Absolute Spirit through spontaneous and poetic utterances. Then the two Hearts of Fire are joined to become an expression of the Union of the Absolute. The avatars of the God and Goddess are now drawn into union through the Unified Heart, where they fuse into at-one-ment. The resultant energy is intensified until orgasm results, at this point the gateway has been opened and the pleasure trance is established.

Once the Pleasure Trance is attained, the couple may perform one of two different operations, depending on whether the energy generated by orgasm is projected within or externally. If the energy is projected within one’s self, then a kind of vision trance results, allowing one to penetrate the threshold of the Inner Planes. If the energy is project outward, using a prana-yama technique of hyper ventilation, then it produces an external prophetic vision where the structure of a future space-time is revealed. The direction of the energy determines the type of manifestation, but the potency of the experience is always extremely intense. Although the God and Goddess represent different types of vital energy, when joined, these energies become unified, so the processes of Inner Planes Vision or Prophetic Vision are available.

The pleasure trance is used as a core practice within the two types of Archeomancy, these are the Archeomancy of the Four Qabbalistic Worlds and the Archeomancy of the Spiritual Qabbalah. When the pleasure trance is used in the practice of the Archeomancy of the Qabbalistic Worlds, then a kind of astral projection into the Inner Planes is produced. When the pleasure trance is used in the practice of Spiritual Archeomancy, then projected trance of prophetic vision reveals the mysterious influences of what is called the Body of God. This latter technique causes the power and grace of the Divine to impact and alter physical reality.

In addition to the above techniques, the spirit of Azazel imparted a considerable volume of information, much of which is still being realized. The Initiation Pattern of the Spiritual Warrior was revealed to me, and it awaits a future time when I will be write and document it. Also, the outlines for the Enochian Feminine mysteries were revealed and explained as well as the importance of the Priestess as the Matrix of the Avatars of the Mysteries. It was said that the symbol of the Avatar is the primary focus of the Enochian Mysteries, and that the Heart is the primary focus of the individual. The Avatar is the Heart of God, but the Grail Priestess is the creatrix of the Heart, therefore she is the origin of all Love and Unity as manifested within consciousness. The path of Ascendancy or Incarnation must therefore pass through the Gate of the Grail, the Creatrix of the Evolutionary Process, the Priestess who gives wisdom and power in her love and desire.

Yet the process by which a woman becomes a Grail Priestess is represented in three phases. The first phase is known as the Transference of the Grace, and consists of a powerful dedication or spiritual marriage where the candidate is purified, blessed by the Five Goddesses (or Gods), consecrated and then installed with a symbolic bond of union (usually a large gemstone ring that has been charged with a Talismantic Elemental). The second phase is called the Assumption, where the priestess invokes into manifestation the Five Goddesses, assuming the power and charisma of each one. The priestess then summons the Heart and the Womb Matrix of the Unified Feminine Spirit into her being and she produces the special sacrament, gives it to the God for a blessing, and partakes of it herself as the medium of transformation. The final phase is where the fully realized Grail Priestess performs the pleasure trance, thus giving and receiving of the transformation of the Unity of Being.

These items will all be documented in greater detail in the third book of the Sepher ha-Nephilim, which concerns itself with the Enochian Initiation Mysteries and Enochian Sex Magick.

Ritual Comments

The working was begun at 11:11 PM with the Consecration of the Circle during the Planetary hour of the Moon, thus locking it for the duration, on the Day of Venus, February 22nd, 1991. Luna was in the sign Gemini and one day following the First Quarter. There were no significant Astrological aspects. The working ended at 3:22 AM EST.

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, June 14, 2013

Learning Paganism in the Modern Age

One of my pet peeves is that I believe we are still sorting out what it is to be a pagan in the post-modern age, and yet there are people out there who insist on conserving their traditions above all else. While it’s good to keep documentation for historical purposes, performing the same sparse, boring liturgical lore year after year doesn’t automatically make one either a pagan or a witch. I believe there has to be some real thought and inspiration given to what it means to be a pagan, and this requires quite a bit of thinking outside of the box, as it were. (An even better term for this activity would be thinking outside of the “Book of Shadows.”)

Some of the things that Sam Webster has been writing about at the Patheos blog site are sensible, challenging and actually quite practical; but they also reveal a certain superficiality to the basic modern Pagan and Wiccan mind-set. The two specific articles that I am referring to are his articles on restoring idolatry and also restoring sacrifice. You can find them here and here. I think that he has made some really good points, so I would like to review and discuss some of those issues that he has presented in these articles.

One of the things that he has previously stressed is that modern Pagans need to develop a personal relationship with their deities so that their religious experience is based on their own personal experiences and perspectives and not that of the tradition or group. Another thing that he has talked about is the importance of sacrifice, and he is referring here to the actual ritual killing of animals. Mr. Webster has also proposed that would-be pagans should also engage in the practice of animating statues and treating them as key access points for communing with the Deities that they represent. I have some opinions about these ideas, so let us first build some context to understand the pagan religious beliefs of those who lived in antiquity. 

If we review what ancient paganism was like in the European Mediterranean arena, at least according to Walter Berkert, then we can see that there were actually three domains through which the overall pagan religion was performed and celebrated. The first and highest level was the domain of the polis or the city-state, which was basically the state sponsored religious practices. This would also have included the mystery schools, even though they functioned outside of the bounds of the polis. The next level would have been the family tradition, headed up by the pater familias or head of household, and it would have included family based deities and practices associated with the household, including the lares and penates, threshold deities, hearth deities and a host of other entities. The lowest level was that of the individual, who could have their own private and personal relationship with a specific deity or deities as well as membership in one of the mystery colleges (as a participant). So, these are the three levels that broadly represented the sphere of pagan religious activity in antiquity.

Regarding animal sacrifice, this rite was typically performed at the level of the state religion of the polis, but it could also be found in the family tradition and the religious activities of the individual. Animal sacrifice at the state level consisted of large animals, such as cattle, oxen and the like. Family traditions typically would sacrifice smaller animals, such as goats and rams, and individuals might sacrifice doves or other smaller, less expensive animals. Mystery colleges sometimes employed large or small sacrifices, depending on the cult and level of social engagement. We will examine animal sacrifice and try to determine if modern paganism needs to adopt it or if other surrogates can be used instead.

As far as idolatry is concerned, ancient pagans incorporated statues and works of art to represent what I would call access points where groups and individuals could commune with and bask in the numinousness of their Deities. They didn’t believe that the statues or works of art were themselves the actual Deities, but that they represented a sacred place where the spirit of the Deity could reside. This form of idolatry was central to most of the state religious temples, mystery cults, homes and even individuals. Homes had their special shrines and niches where the Gods could be accessed, and individuals had their small portable figurines that they could place in a family shrine, in their sleeping quarters or to take with them on journeys. Even slaves had their representations of the Gods in their possession. Idolatry required rituals that could cause the Deity to inhabit the statue or figurine (some kind of blessing/charging), and then it would require periodic offerings and devotions in order to keep it fully vested with the spirit of the Deity. In the state polis religious cults, statues were fed, dressed, taken out in public and treated as living dignitaries; this also occurred within the mystery colleges as well.  

When Christianity displaced paganism towards the end of the Roman empire, what it did was to replace the various state pagan cults with the practices and beliefs of the Christian church, and it also forced the mystery colleges to shut down. What it didn’t immediately displace was the family tradition or the religious beliefs and practices of the individual. That happened slowly, over a long period of time and it probably took centuries. If any pagan religious traditions remained, they would have been found in the practices and beliefs of the family. It would have been easy to disguise or loosely reinterpret pagan family traditions so that they would seem outwardly Christian. This is one possible way in which some practices and beliefs that were obviously pagan in origin might have survived the forced Christian mass conversion of an entire populace. Another possible survival would have been the various magical practices that individuals would have employed (or paid others to perform for them) to aid them in times of sickness, distress, injustice or untimely death.

In our modern world, we have attempted with some success to reconstitute the pagan religions of antiquity. However, what is missing in this attempt at reconstruction and recreation represents a greater deficit overall than one might actually think. Wiccan and Pagan groups have managed to reconstitute what would have been the family religious traditions of antiquity, with some allowed extensions because the members of these modern groups are not actually part of a family. So modern Pagan and Wiccan religious practices are a kind of fusion between an extended family tradition with some mystery school elements thrown in for good measure. However, what is missing, of course, is the state sanctioned religion and also, oddly, the religion of the individual. Idolatry and sacrifice have also been omitted, or at least performed in an inconsistent or substituted manner. These practices can be given new life if they are redefined and established within the practices that have already been developed for these various traditions. (Of course, I am omitting various types of modern reconstructed heathenism from these considerations.)

So, what we have in modern Wicca and Paganism is a kind of truncated hybrid religious system, or at least when it’s compared to the pagan religious practices of antiquity. While it is obvious that we are unlikely to ever see paganism becoming so populous and large that it can facilitate a kind of state sponsored pagan religion (nor would we want to invalidate our secular government  institutions), we can at least bring the hybrid family tradition down to the individual level and thereby activate two of the three levels of paganism from antiquity. I also believe that it would be beneficial to reconstitute a modern version of the mystery colleges and open them to all religiously pagan individuals. Reconstituting the pagan religion for the family traditions, individuals and the mystery colleges would go a long way to rebuilding a comprehensive pagan religion in the modern world. So would incorporating some form of idolatry and sacrifice.

How do I define the pagan religion of the single individual? According to Berkert, individuals in antiquity often engaged in a personal approach to one specific deity for various practical or religiously inspired reasons. It was usually precipitated by a very specific need, such as health issues, the desire for justice, trying to deal with catastrophic changes or seeking some kind of physical validation of life. What it entailed was a process referred to generally as “henotheism,” or the devotion and focus on one specific deity within a pantheon of deities. Henotheism required specific and periodic personal devotions, sacrifices, offerings and spiritual service for the deity itself as well as its social institutions (temple precinct, priesthood, etc.). There might also be a mystery school associated with that deity, but usually, it was just a powerful inclusive relationship established between the individual worshiper and the deity.

As I have said previously, Sam Webster has said that Pagans and Wiccans need to establish a deep and powerful relationship with one or more Pagan Deities. I wholly agree with this sentiment, and I believe doing so will open the door to a kind of pagan spirituality that would not be found within the modern tradition or group. Therefore, I advocate a kind of individual henotheism, since that would be the easiest activity for an individual to perform. Because the intensity and breadth of each group is represented by the common denominator of the individual members, then if each individual develops a personal pagan religious spirituality, the overall group will become spiritually deeper and its rites will be more meaningful. Certainly, having a deeply spiritual perspective will help a group to evolve its liturgy and beliefs because the Pagan Deities will be truly alive within each individual member.

Here is how I would organize and assemble a periodic pagan practice for the individual or family group. There are five categories for these kinds of activities, and they consist of offerings, devotions, sacrifices, worship via idolatry and communion, and spiritual service to the community. These practices would be periodic and they should be established in some kind of calendric system associated with the cycles of the moon and the sun. There would be daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal activities that represent the ever turning and changing cycles, yet that place (in the center) where the Deities would preside would be unchanged and eternal. Let us briefly examine each of these five categories in greater detail so they might be better known.

First, it is assumed that the individual or the group has some kind of place or location in their living space to set aside for their pagan spiritual activities and to build some kind of shrine. It doesn’t have to be grandiose, and in fact it can be simple and tucked away in a part of the house where it will be accessible but not interfere with the normal flow of activities. The shrine should have some basic attributes, such as a flat table-top where candles, dishes, incense burners, flower vases, and if possible, a statue or some kind of figurine of that Deity can be placed. Whether the purpose is to focus on just one pagan Deity or to engage with a collection of Deities, it is up to the individual or group to fully research and learn everything that one could possibly know about each of those Deities or the one Deity that is to be the focus of the shrine. (We should also keep in mind that a shrine with more than one Deity would require that each be accorded their own separate individual liturgical workings.) The shrine is used to hold items that are symbolically associated with the Deity, and that would include the color of the cloth used to cover the table-top of the shrine. The shrine niche could even include posters of the Deity and any other appropriate artwork. A pillow or meditation matt would also be a useful for any of the ritual work to be done before the shrine. 

Votive Offerings - these practices represent regular gifts to the Deity that signify that it is resident and active in the shrine. These offerings would include lit candles or oil lamps, incense, flowers, portions of food and drink. It could even include special gifts, such as items that symbolically represent the Deity. For instance, if the Deity was Aphrodite, then sea shells, pearls and other kinds of symbolic objects could be given as votive offerings to the Deity. Typically, votive offerings are repetitive and represent the periodic upkeep of the Deity as associated with its focus, which would be a statue or figurine.

Active Devotions - these practices are performed as types of adoration, glorification and the declaration of love and commitment to the Deity. Similarly to how you would romance a lover beyond your station, the practices of devotion represent the expression of love and worship that one feels for a specific Deity. Forms of devotion would include poetry, historically researched paeans (such as the Homeric Hymns to the Gods), declared glorifications, songs, music and even dance. Sleep incubation in order to communicate with the Deity while in a dream-state is another form of active devotion. 

Sacrifices - these practices are special events and are typically performed during calendric seasonal celebrations or when a greater offering is needed than what is covered by votive offerings. While some have stated that Pagans and Witches need to master the art of actual animal sacrifice, I believe that there are plenty of modern surrogates for this practice. The reason why I believe surrogates will work is that the knowledge required to properly sacrifice an animal and the efficient butchering of that victim is generally beyond the ability of modern people. This is because few actually possess these skills, and it is important that the animal be dispatched in clean and efficient manner with little suffering or fear.

Pagans in antiquity went to great lengths to ensure that a sacrifice went smoothly and without difficulty, since if it was performed badly, if the animal panicked or something else went awry, then the auspices for that sacrifice would make it practically useless. Ancient pagans went so far as to drug the animals so that they wouldn’t experience much fear or pain when ritually killed. Once killed, the blood would need to be properly collected and used, and the carcass immediately butchered to apportion the share for the Deity as well as the worshipers. The portion for the Deity was burned up in a special fire (on a special altar) and the portion for the worshipers would have been cooked (barbequed but not burned). So, I think that for most practical situations an actual animal sacrifice is beyond the ability or scope of most (if not nearly all) modern pagans.

If an actual animal sacrifice is either unwanted or incapable of being properly performed then what are the appropriate substitutions? What I have found is that there are three earthly places where a sacrifice can be placed and so given over to the Gods. First of all, a sacrifice as I perform it is usually the collected victuals of a feast given in honor of the Gods. As the feast is arrayed, I usually collect a sample of all of the food and drink before anyone is served, thus, the Deity is served first before the worshipers. Prior to this apportioning, I have dug a small hole in the earth and started a small fire outdoors. I then take the victuals and place them in the fire (those that will properly burn, such as cooked meat), or in the earth (vegetables, salad, potatoes, rice, tubers, etc.), and the drink I pour into a nearby shallow lake. Additionally, one could dedicate a very special and precious belonging and give it to the Deity as a permanent gift by placing it on the shrine table-top. Other variations of this kind of special sacrificial offering can be delivered up, and I believe that it is quite acceptable and in accordance with modern Pagan and Wiccan practices.

Spiritual Service to the Community - these practices represent a sacrifice of time and resources in the name of the Deity that one is serving. This can be simply performed as a kind of volunteer work associated with other community volunteers. The fact that the Pagan or Witch is doing it as a service to their Deity doesn’t need to be shared with the other volunteers. Valid service can be given even if that volunteer effort is sponsored by some Christian organization. Other kinds of service could be as a Pagan minister or volunteering time and resources to the local pagan community. Regardless of the volunteer work that one employs, the stated purpose of it is to be a representative of the Deity in the community doing work that benefits those who are in need of assistance. Giving money is also another way, although not as direct and satisfying.

Pagan Idolatry - these rites are the specific liturgical ceremonies that one performs to draw down the numinous presence of the Deity into a statue or figurine, and therein, to have intimate contact and communion with it. Unless you have a proclivity for classical theurgy or are adept at modern forms of magick, then performing a specific rite to perpetually animate a statue is not something that you will be able to do. I have written up a modern approach to statue animation in an article that I posted a couple of years ago, and if you are interested, you can find it here.

However, for those who are less adept magically they can perform a periodic drawing down type of rite to imbue the statue or figurine with the essence of the Deity and this will likely suffice. All that you need to do is to write a custom drawing down ritual for your specific Deity and perform it once a month during an auspicious time, depending on the characteristics of that Godhead. You can also perform a Godhead Assumption of that Deity and perform that in addition to the Statue Drawing Rite. A special meal of cakes and wine, or bread and ale (or whatever might be appropriate for that Deity) is also typically presented to the Godhead as a special offering, and this food, once blessed and charged, is consumed by the worshipers after a certain portion is set aside for the Godhead.

The statue or figurine used in such work is referred to as an idol, but if a person becomes the focus of the Draw, then he or she is called the Idolon of the Godhead. Any person who is going to take on the temporary role of the Deity must be sequestered for a period of time and immerse themselves with the qualities and characteristics of the Godhead. They should also perform a long period of devotion so that when they perform the assumption, as little of their own personality will remain intact. Using an idol instead of an idolon ensures that the Draw will not be adversely impacted by the personality of the mediator. Still, an idolon can speak for the Deity, while the idol requires the recipient of such communication to be in an altered state of consciousness. Establishing a dialogue with the Deity is, I believe, the most important part of the practice of idolatry. Each Pagan or Witch should develop this kind of liturgical working to the point where they can periodically hear the voice of their Deity whispering in their minds words of wisdom and sagacity. Clearly, such a connection would not only inspire individuals but it might also give birth to new rituals and practices, since they would have as their guide the spoken words of the Deity itself.

So now that we have covered the five categories of a basic Pagan religious practice for the individual or the group, I believe that with a little bit of effort and practice pagan spirituality can have an important rebirth and reveal a greater spiritual depth to its adherents. I am not saying that no one is performing these kinds of liturgical operations, but perhaps not enough of us are doing them on a regular and consistent basis. If each of us had a special and potent connection to at least one Pagan Deity, then we would be able to advance our religious practices and beliefs without any worries or concerns about maintaining our doctrinal traditions. This is because our ultimate authority would be our own personal connection to our Deities. Over the course of decades and even centuries, our Pagan and Wiccan faith could then evolve into a much higher level of consciousness, and we could then see about coalescing these beliefs and practices into proper religious orthodoxies (if that would even be needed). Yet until that time in the distant future we need to discover how to behave religiously as Pagans and Wiccans in this modern world.

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How To Spiritually Evolve

Magicians often boast about their magical prowess, citing their accomplishments like some kind of credible list of awards or laudatory plaudits. Only other magicians can recognize those accomplishments as something to be held in awe or snickered at on the sly. Whether those accomplishments represent degrees achieved or won in some esoteric or magical order or that they represent some kind of personal achievement, like successfully invoking one’s Holy Guardian Angel, all of these accomplishments are subjective at best and potentially worthless regarding one’s actual spiritual level of being. There is something more to the effort of spiritual evolution than magical achievements or initiatory grades, but it is often overlooked in the hustle for apparent greatness.

As I have said previously, I have met individuals who have claimed lofty titles and presented burnished lists of achievements, only for them to be shown as being completely and utterly incompetent in all other areas of life. This is the difference between what Jason Miller has called stage or state and it represents the fact that all of us live at the lowest common denominator of our day-to-day spiritual foundation.

If we have achieved great things from a magical perspective, yet our material and/or social lives are needy and impoverished, then we have a long way to go before we will achieve any kind of enlightenment. Just because we spent six months living in our parent’s basement and in that hallowed domain performed the Abramelin working doesn’t mean that we are to be treated as some kind of walking Ipsissimus. Whatever we achieve in our magical workings certainly does have some impact on who we are and what our spiritual foundation is like. It is also possible that someone could undergo many powerful initiatory ordeals and still be quite inadequate as a fully developed human being; where the most needed and pressing issues kicking around in that one’s personality are ignored or just given lip-service.

Therefore, it should be obvious that there are two kinds of ordeals; one that is the greater ordeal (that everyone likes to talk about) and the lesser ordeal, which often gets ignored. The lesser ordeals represent the continuous process of self-examination, objective judgement, and putting into practice methods and techniques to bring the self to a higher level of being. The lesser ordeal represents the real work, set into motion by the visionary experiences of the greater ordeals. Without the lesser ordeals, the greater ordeals become, over time, meaningless and ineffective.

So, the real question is how to assemble and execute the various practices that make up the lesser ordeal. Maintaining a spiritual and magical discipline can certainly help, but it doesn’t really change an individual in a progressive manner. If anything, maintenance does nothing more than just maintain the status quo, and that is not progress. As far as I am aware there is little in the various lore of occult traditions that really focus on the elements of a lesser ordeal, but in the area of modern psychological self-improvement, there is quite an enormous amount of material. It would take many years to pore through it all and determine what methods and technique are effective, and which are just poorly contrived or even worthless.

Luckily for me, I belong to a large corporation that is effectively trying to change its culture to one that is progressive, optimistic, buoyant and humane. Usually, large corporations have rather cold and ruthless cultures that are good for performance and maybe innovation, but who are very substandard in the areas of compassion and relationships. Corporate leaders tend to cast very long and sometimes dark shadows of themselves to the various levels below them, and often the negative qualities so cast can become amplified and even stratified. A harsh and demanding boss will often get sycophantic underlings who will be adverse to taking any kind of chance on being wrong or found wanting. To keep their positions, they will blame those below them, and the contagion of unease and fear will cascade down from them to the lowest levels of the organization. In time, such a corporate organization will implode because it will be unable to either progress or move forward with even the most minor objectives.

However, there is a way to completely change the corporate culture, and a number of individuals who are involved in organizational development and culture change have become instrumental in changing the whole mind-set of a corporation, beginning with the top of the hierarchy and proceeding down to the middle management level and below. My company has not only brought in such a consulting firm, but it has assembled a corporate wide program to change the corporate culture, and it has infused the ideas promoted by this firm into the core of its beliefs and practices.

That consulting firm is the Senn Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, and you can find their books and other materials in Amazon dot com. Beginning this year I attended a two day session called the unfreezing and opening workshop session, and then attended a refresher course a couple of months later. Additionally, the company is having monthly Webex and phone conferences to go over each of the salient details of this push for culture change. My company is deadly serious about making this culture change a fully realized internal force, and they are even using it in how they grade individuals for the annual evaluation. While I might be dubious about any company that attempts to social engineer its employees, I have found that the Senn Delaney methodology is simple, positive, progressive, and it appears to work.

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself, how does any of this relate to the lesser ordeals that a ritual magician might assemble to ensure a continuity in regards to progressive change and continual personal evolution? It’s obvious that the Senn Delaney methodologies are tailored for corporate leaders and corporate culture. How does that rather practical application for establishing progressive social institutions relate to the individual struggling to evolve out of his or her various pathos? One thing that this regimen does focus on is the individual, whether that person is an executive leader or just a member of a team. Basically, this approach focuses on the attitudes, habits and expectations of the individual, and I couldn’t define an approach to personal change and evolution any sharper than that.

For a moment, think about all the activities that fill your life. As a ritual magician, you will doubtlessly engage in performing ritual workings and the greater ordeals. You will also periodically meditate, study, write papers, maybe teach students, and perform liturgical rites at various intervals. However, what about the rest of your life’s activities. If you are a working stiff like I am, then you also have a job and a career and its various responsibilities. You will also have a family, loved ones, friends and a whole social network that will engage you probably for much of your remaining free time. Additionally, you might watch TV, listen to music, play video games, and multitude of other activities. 

All of these activities involve either yourself, or you and other people. The ones that involve other people are the most informative in regards to who you are and how you are perceived by others. This is especially true in regards to working a job. There, you are evaluated by your peers and your superiors on a regular basis, often with little mitigating graces that might soften such social exchanges as with your friends and family. In all of these personal social interactions, how you act and react to others will also represent how you are perceived and interpreted, and it will directly effect the results of your efforts. This sphere of influence is definitely one that you can alter and change by changing yourself. In fact, sometimes such a change (in a positive direction) can have a remarkably good effect.

The whole basis of the Senn Delaney methodology is that your thoughts, feelings and especially, your mood affects your behavior, and this has a powerful impact on results. Becoming aware of your moods and how they can either help or hinder your efforts is the first and most important step in self improvement. The next step after self-awareness is, of course, deliberately changing your moods. Senn Delaney has put out an easy to read poster that they call the Mood Elevator. The bottom half has levels (representing the floors of a building) showing a regressive decline in emotional qualities, beginning with frustration and bottoming out with depression. The middle point in the Mood Elevator is the emotion of curiosity, and above it are the much more positive emotions, such as understanding, appreciation, compassion, and at the top, gratefulness. The key concept here is that if you become aware of the fact that you are in one of the regressive levels of the Mood Elevator, all you have to do is to disengage from your feelings and bring yourself to being just merely curious. Being curious is the gateway to the higher and more progressive moods. 

For instance, let’s say that you are dealing with someone who just doesn’t seem to understand your point of view and what you trying to say to them. Maybe this is a relationship squabble between you and your significant other about some emotionally charged issue. You are feeling quite frustrated by this exchange, maybe even irritated and anxious. If you can, just for a moment, disengage from the situation and examine yourself and your feelings, maybe take a break from arguing and do some simple breath-control techniques.

Then, when you are calmed somewhat, forget for a moment about your point of view and ask yourself, why is there this disagreement. Become curious - seek to really know the other side completely. If you do this, all of a sudden, the overall mood shifts, including the negative emotions of the other person in the heated discussion. By asking them questions with a true and open desire to just know the other person’s perspective (without any emotional intensity), suddenly the impasse is broken and emotions rise to a more progressive level. Could this happen? Is human nature such that we can be self-monitoring and correct our attitudes and moods midstream? I have done this myself, so I suspect that anyone, with a bit a practice, could do it.

Another little device in the Senn Delaney methodology is called the Accountability Ladder. We have all been in work situations where something bad happened and management wants to know why it happened, who did it, and how will it get fixed and then be made to never happen again. When a group is faced with such a situation, the very first thing that people will instinctively do is to deny responsibility and find someone else to blame. This is a ploy to protect oneself and maintain a certain amount of job security, and depending how the corporate culture is established, it can be merely a scalp hunting exercise. Someone is going to be punished (maybe fired), and everyone will do whatever they can to distance themselves. In such an environment, what probably won’t happen quickly is finding a solution to the problem, or even the establishment of a policy to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

A more progressive corporate culture doesn’t look for someone to blame and then punish, but to take responsibility and to find solutions and implement preventive policies. Denial (or excuses), blame and avoiding responsibility represent a state of powerlessness. When we react in this manner, whether in a work situation or in our home or social life, we are denying ourselves the ability to resolve our problems or make any kind of change. It is only when we acknowledge reality and own the problem that a solution will be possible. So long as we deny the existence of a problem, we will be powerless to do anything about it. Accountability is a very important way to ensure that are we always empowered, so as long as we at least acknowledge reality. It is the first step towards a finding a permanent solution.

One of the things that I had to learn early in my career was how to deal with situations where something bad happened through the negligence or mistakes made by a team member. Accidents do happen and mistakes are made, and that is the reality of all human endeavors. However, when confronting such an event, the worst manner of dealing with it is to assign blame to one individual, even if that individual did indeed cause the problem. The best approach is to deal with it as a team responsibility. If a member of the team makes a mistake, then it’s the responsibility of the whole team. Instead of saying “you did so and so” I was taught to say “we did so and so.” This was usually followed up with “we need to find a solution” instead of “you need to fix this problem.” What happened was an immediate change in the team’s emotional mood. Instead of blame and denial, everyone pitched in to find a solution. There wasn’t any need to rake the responsible person over the coals, since they had likely already done that to themselves. This bit of business wisdom can be applied to any social situation. Don’t assign blame, just take responsibility for resolving the issue. That is truly empowering, and isn’t that an important part of being a magician, too?

Perhaps one of the most important sayings that are part of the Senn Delaney teachings is that when dealing with individuals in a business scenario, we should always assume positive intent from the other person. That might sound like an invitation to be deceived or even swindled, but if someone is behaving in a dishonest manner, it will very soon come to light. This is actually more of an issue of one’s own integrity than trying to sniff out someone else’s motivation. If we assume positive intent from those that we are dealing with, then we will be acting in a high minded manner that will likely build trust and establish a greater degree of openness between all parties. It also assumes a certain level of respect and mutual trust with others, lending to the social/business exchange a kind of overall positive influence. This can also be used in our relationships, helping us to give a positive dimension to important social exchanges in our personal lives. It changes the way that we treat people and also, how we judge them, and will assuredly change the way people treat us.

Ironically, if we treat everyone as if they were a crook who is out to deceive or steal from us, then we will likely attract that very kind person that we are trying to detect and avoid. I have often found that those who have a distinct natural distrust of others are themselves untrustworthy. An overly jealous husband belies one who also cheats on his wife, and someone who is compulsively looking out of the corner of their eyes for any kind of betrayal is usually the one who does the betraying. As long as you are not having to deal with pirates, gangsters, conn artists or members of the criminal class, then you can safely assume positive intent without worrying about somehow being victimized.   

Another important element in the Senn Delaney repertoire is encapsulated by the slogan “Be Here Now!” I am sure everyone has heard this before, and it is probably used all too often. However, what it means is that we should pay attention to important exchanges, especially the communication between human beings. We live in world that is saturated by media, and this has caused us all to become virtuosos at multitasking. We talk, text, look at our computer video screen and think about our plans for the day all at the same time. Still, no matter how gifted we are, something gets less of our attention when we multitask. This is particularly true in regards to human interaction.

When we are talking to someone who is not getting our complete attention because we are trying to do multiple things at the same time, then we might completely miss what has been said, or misinterpret it, or only hear fragments of it. When dealing with individuals in a work environment or even in our homes, we should stop doing anything else and pay attention to what the other person is saying. This is true even if it’s one our children who just wants some attention. “Be Here Now” is a command to pay full attention when engaging in human interaction, because otherwise, we will not get the full message, including body posture, facial expressions, eye contact, and the whole process of communication. It’s really good advice, and I am sure that all of us are guilty of paying only half a mind or less to someone who is talking to us, whether directly or by cell phone. Multitasking is a good skill to master, but it has its place and shouldn’t become an obsessive personal habit.

Some other good topics in the Senn Delaney regimen include being able to inventory and understand yourself and then by projection, you might be able to understand the perspectives of those who you interact with. This is done by identifying and understanding the basic four behavioral (business) styles, such as controlling, supporting, promoting and analyzing. Each has its own manner of interacting with others, and knowing your own style and the style of the person you are trying to communicate with can help make that communication more optimal. We should also be aware of the shadow that we unwittingly display to our peers and subordinates, knowing that how we act and behave can be interpreted in ways that would probably be surprising if not even a bit disturbing.

Another important concept is to be able to really prioritize those things that are truly important (the ubiquitous blue chip) and distinguishing them from those things that are not as important, regardless of what other people might think is important to them. Everything has to be balanced and prioritized because there is only so much time in a day to get things accomplished. Of course, this leads us to the goal of being able to determine what can be changed and what can’t be changed. Those things that are truly beyond our control are considered analogous to “gravity” - facts of nature that can’t be changed no matter what we do. Things that are under the “gravity” category should never take up much of our time or be the focus of our concerns. What we should be focusing on (and concerning ourselves with) are the things that we can change, most notably, ourselves.

What has startled me most about the Senn Delaney methodologies is that I have discovered that a number of them have been an innate part of being since childhood. I have always refrained from judging people and I have automatically assumed positive intent from others. My moods are never usually too far below the level of curious and I am usually buoyant and optimistic, perhaps to a fault. I can detach myself from emotional situations, and that should allow me to be able to change course in a volatile situation. Even so, by becoming fully aware of the methodologies of self knowledge and self transformation, I should be able to move myself even further along the overall process of spiritual and magical evolution, and this will be my basic plan of attack. 

So, these are just a few of the many really excellent techniques that Senn Delaney uses to transform individuals and whole corporate cultures. What they consist of are methods of self-examination and self-correction on a day by day basis. By incorporating this kind of progressive methodology into the personal life of a ritual magician, it should be obvious that all of the greater ordeals and transformations will have a foundation that is also progressive and evolving. Eventually the differences between stage and state will be eliminated, since what will be achieved during high level magical transformations will be able to be immediately translated into the basic psychological stage of the magician who performs them. This should be the goal of any ritual magician who seeking to ultimately achieve the greater awakening of enlightenment. I can say that I am quite grateful that I discovered this system of lesser ordeals, and ironically, it was brought to my attention by the company that I happen to work for.

I can recommend three books from the Senn Delaney assortment of materials. If you are interested, you can purchase the “Human Operating System Owners Manual” or “Winning Teams and Winning Cultures” or “Up the Mood Elevator” - all of these books are pertinent and relevant to self-mastery and self-transformation, and these are very important tools for anyone who wishes to embark on the dual path of the greater and lesser ordeals. They are also quite inexpensive and easy to acquire. (Curiously, the Senn Delaney method doesn’t have any tools like meditation, nor does it have anything that would push what I would call the big transformative ordeals. However, we magicians now have both worlds pretty well established, much to our mutual benefit.)

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dilemma of Practical Magic

Even though I have been out of contact for the last month, I have still been privy to what other writers are saying on their blogs about magic. Recently, there has been a heated discussion about the morality of performing practical magic, or that somehow magic is debased when it used for the purpose of personal material gain. Another concept that has been discussed is whether or not magic, particularly practical magic, has some kind of cost associated with its use. I have already written a rather lengthy article on the subject of practical magic, but I have never had to discuss the morality of working this kind of magic in the past. I find the whole subject to be surprising, since I have always assumed that magic was to be used first and foremost for the betterment of the individual practitioner, and that included various types of magic associated with material acquisition.

Since I am a witch and a pagan, I confess that I have no scruples about using magic to aid my own personal and material process. The ultimate goal to which I employ my knowledge of magic is not to be rich and powerful, but to be ultimately enlightened. However, I have achieved through the artifice of my magic and my wits a comfortable life situation. I have acquired a certain amount of material benefits, the respect of my colleagues and a successful career in IT. I am not rich but I am not poor, either. I don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage or putting food on the table.

Could all that change due to some catastrophic illness or disaster? Of course, my current condition could change overnight, but so far I have managed to keep the wolves at bay and I have some excellent prospects to be able to continue in that manner for the foreseeable future. So, I can think about such things as achieving enlightenment or at-one-ment with the Deity, and even spend some time supporting my community and giving my time to others for free. If I were struggling to survive, I doubt greatly that my thoughts and actions would be so idyllic, and this, of course, is the real issue.

Material success and a certain degree of personal satisfaction leads one naturally away from more desperate and acquisitive pursuits for survival. The hungry animal is much more active and aggressive in its search for food than an animal that has a guaranteed source of nourishment. This is also true amongst humans - those who have achieved a level of material success aren’t seeking out nickle and dime solutions. This same logic can be used in regards to magicians. A magician who has a successful material existence is going to be more interested in higher forms of his or her art than having to work money attraction spells.

This bit of common sense was well articulated by Abraham Maslow in his five levels of the Hierarchy of Human Needs. The basic needs, such as physiological needs for survival and the need for safety (continuance) are usually where most of the material based magic is deployed. Once those levels are mastered, then the next level is friendship and intimacy. Beyond those basic levels are esteem, and then self-actualization. All of these levels can and do incorporate different kinds of magic, and all of them are necessary and valid from the standpoint of the individual who is undergoing them. However, the peak is self-realization, and this is the level where the need for material success and personal worth are replaced with the achievement of wisdom, enlightenment and union with the One. Still, until someone has mastered the previous four levels, then self-actualization will neither be relevant nor practical.

It is for this reason that I refuse to judge anyone who works magic for material gain, since it represents to me that they are just proceeding through a process of development that is really no different than the one I employed years ago when I was still struggling to achieve some kind of material and emotional stability. Even if someone never gets beyond the level of working magic for their survival, or if they employ their arts and abilities to the public for a fee, I would never judge them or somehow consider them less a magician than I. Experience has taught me that even working supposed low magic for a long period of time will expose the individual to various soul-based aspects and attributes that will transform and spiritualize him or her. Just doing magic over a lifetime will make one wise and spiritual insightful, even if that magic never achieved any level beyond simple Hoodoo spell-work.

High Magick is often referred to as Theurgia, which is Greek for “God’s Work.” Yet in order to undertake this kind of magic, one needs to have satisfied the four levels of Maslow’s pyramid of human needs. Some might be called to this specific work, and yet others will have more than their share of work just surviving and managing to live as full a life as they can. From the standpoint of the level of Deity, all magic is representative of the intrusion of that Godhead into the world. That means that all magicians are equal mediators of that process of spiritual emanation, despite their differences in material and social achievement. Because of this overall perspective, all magic is therefore sacred and serves a greater purpose. Who are we to judge other magicians?

Now I would like to address the belief that magic has a cost. It would seem that when people make this statement (which has its origins on the TV show “Once Upon a Time”) they mean that working magic or being on the receiving end of it requires some kind of sacrifice. In other words, you have to give up something in order to gain something - a sort of no-win scenario. Perhaps the silliest point to that fantasy TV show is that the evil queen is able to do all sorts of magical mayhem to all of the other characters in the cast and nothing ever happens to her. Where is the cost that she must pay for using magic? Is that somehow implying that when evil people work black magic that the cost is somehow a zero-sum game?

I can understand this clever ploy in terms of a plot device in a TV show script because it adds some spice to the fantasy magic that is deployed (and some polish to the Rumpelstiltskin mythos), but from the standpoint of actual magical workings, this concept makes very little sense. Magic, like any other action, does have consequences. Yet even doing nothing has consequences! Does magic typically have bad or undesirable consequences? Well, that depends on what is being done through the artifice of magic and the competence of the magician. Of course, that logic can be applied to any action or refusal to act in any given situation. If I refuse to pay my taxes or just forget about filing them, I am sure that some kind of negative consequence will manifest for me at some point via the IRS. Yet this is not a magical operation - it’s just taking some of kind action.

However, magic can and does produce unexpected consequences and sometimes these can be wondrous or quite unpleasant, depending on the context of the magic. Catastrophic good fortune is very rare but not impossible; so is catastrophic misfortune. Often accidents can happen to just about anyone, but very seldom is any kind of magic attached to them. A simple insight to all of this is that all actions have consequences, including magic. That is probably all that anyone can say about magical effects.

In all of the years that I have been practicing ritual magick I have never experienced anything like a “cost” associated with either using or benefitting from magic. As an occultist, pagan and witch, I have noticed a social cost if I am not quiet about my beliefs and practices, but that represents the errant prejudice in others that I have experienced from time to time. All I have to do to ensure that my neighbors and acquaintances don’t give me any grief for what I believe and practice is to just be quiet about them. So, the consequences for being public about my beliefs or being indiscrete has consequences. It says nothing about my magic or that I am somehow handicapped because I am a magician.

Anyway, I think that I have spent enough time on these two issues, and I think that you can see that the heated discussion, from the standpoint of a witch and ritual magician, is just a lot of hot air, or perhaps as fantastic as straw being spun into gold.

Frater Barrabbas

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Search for the Lost Month

The month of May has come and gone already, and my quest to get more done in the areas of my life that have been lately severely lacking my attention has, more or less, failed. I am not giving up by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly was one of those months that came and went without giving me any sense of fulfillment. What started out undone at the beginning of the month ended that way, much to my frustration. What topped the month off for me was being dreadfully ill for two weeks, and I am in fact still recovering. It would seem that I will have to apply a renewed effort to once again get everything completed that I wanted to get completed several months ago. My job seems to be the only recipient of my successfully renewed efforts, and I have been able to complete a number of important and difficult tasks - but not so with anything having to do with my spiritual and occult studies. [As you have no doubt noticed, there were only two blog articles last month. That number is a new low for me, and I am quite saddened by it.]

A year ago I was putting into place the last pieces of my own version of the Portae Lucis working and getting ready for the climax of that process. This year not much is happening in my temple other than the obligatory offerings of incense and occasional meditations. I did reach out to my Higher Self when I was in the midst of my illness last week, and not only found a great deal of comfort from its presence but it also helped me to turn the tides and move toward recovery. I had to withstand three days of sleeplessness due to the intense nature of the coughing fits that I was experiencing. I had a very nasty bacterial bronchitis, perhaps the most severe that I have ever experienced, and it required the use of antibiotics to actually rid me of this invasive pest. My symptoms have dramatically changed for the better, but there is still a bit of a residual cough, so I am not completely well just yet.

One really good and important thing that I am doing is continuing to read and study the book “The Shape of Ancient Thought” written by Thomas McEvilley. In his book, Mr. McEvilley shows how the linkage of ideas between Greece and India via Persia, and earlier, Messopotamia, were the sources for what utlimately became the philosophical systems of monism. He has shown rather expertly that the sources for the Orphic mystery cult was in fact in India, and that the advent of philosophical monism in ancient Greece had its sources in the Indian Uppanishads of the same time.

I am not ready to get into the real details of these various analyses, but it would seem that neither Greece nor India were completely isolated from the rest of the ancient world, and that the diffusion of ideas was something that had happened for a quite a long time. Even ancient Egypt played an important role in the diffusion of ideas, especially during the late dynastic periods when Greeks (such as Heroditus) were visiting and gaining access to their massive collection of time honored knowledge. Anyway, all of this is helping me to plot a pathway for establishing a modern Neoplatonic perspective that is nourished by Indian Tantric philosophy, and so will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of dualism that seem so persistent in the ancient variations of that discipline.

Once I have completed fully reading that book, I will then turn to studying specific chapters and taking copious notes. It is my belief that I will be able to develop an occult philosophy that will be able to accommodate my modern pagan and magical perspectives. Anyway, at least in this area I am uncovering new prospects and insights that will shape my future spiritual and magical workings. Even so, I need to move forward with my magical workings, and I need to reconstitute my magical and spiritual discipline.

On another front, I will be engaging in a podcast interview with Eric Koetting (author of several books, including “Evoking Eternity” and “Ipsissimus”). He is interested in talking to me about my specific take on the invocation and evocation of spirits. I had a wonderful phone call discussion with him over a month ago, and it would appear that he and I agree that the most fruitful approach to working spirit based magic is to develop and build your own system, borrowing from traditional sources as well as crafting uniquely modern techniques. I am glad that Eric is not one of the followers of the strict adherence crowd in regards to the old grimoires. I also believe that this discussion will be quite interesting to anyone who has a stake in these kinds of higher forms of magic. While Eric hails from a very left-hand occult perspective, it is interesting to note that his evolution has brought him to a place analogous to my own. I have opted to take a middle ground between what would be considered the left-hand or right-hand path to enlightenment, but much of my magical work as well as my spiritual perspectives would find more acceptance amongst those of the left-hand path than those on the right.

My interview will be conducted on Thursday, June 13 at noon CDT, and the video/sound file capture will be deposited at a site owned and managed by Eric. I will certainly let you know how this interview turns out and where you will be able to find the web-based file. I have never done this kind of podcast interview before, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. I might decide to do some of my own interviews in the future, since I do have an assembly of bright friends and associates, and our private conversations are usually quite lively and interesting.  

So, now the big question is what should I do about this overall lack of focus? I really need to start dividing my time and learning to be much more efficient with my efforts. I have a massive list of articles to write for this blog, but I just haven’t had the time to write and post them up. I also have a pending list of magical workings to perform that also needs my attention. One nice thing about living in Minnesota is that the early summer months are reasonably cool and rainy, so there will be a window of opportunity for me to complete some of these workings in the near future. I will also have to begin working and preparing the outdoor grove if I have any desire or expectations of working either pagan liturgy or magic in that space.

Additionally, my girlfriend, Grace will be coming home from her clinical training ordeal at the end of June, so I will be reunited with her once again on a regular and daily basis. During this training regimen, she has been gone for four days out of the week working in a town that is over two hours away, and this started on New Year’s day. She will have completed her last semester of obligatory work and will get her much anticipated master’s degree. It has been a grueling period for both of us, and it has been ongoing since the autumn of 2010. I will be glad to get our lives put back together from all this ceaseless activity and non-stop work, and maybe we might even start having a social life again. Change is coming, and I all I need to do is to prepare for it. I also need to make certain that my time is more wisely spent and efficiently apportioned to all those things that I have been forced to ignore over the last several months.

My terrible illness has at least given me a new sense of urgency and priority. It has been like a cleansing or purifying process for me, and it has taught me that life is precious. So is my time spent on things other than work. I hope that this lesson remains firmly in my mind as I contemplate my next steps in my spiritual and magical workings. I am hoping to have a wonderful summer, full of magical experiences, pagan insights and delights in the rebirth of nature, and a more celebratory and carefree existence than I have had previously. I want to revel in the summer months so that I won’t be terribly missing them during the coming winter as I did previously. While there might be work related projects that I will have to focus on, I am resolved that my job will not so badly interfere with my ability to live and rejoice in the magic and mystery of my life.

Frater Barrabbas