Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Thoughts About Evocation and the Reality of Spirits

Recently, someone had a problem with my statement that encounters with spirits occurs in the imagination and can emerge into fantasies that make them meaningful and powerful. What struck them was when I used the terms “imagination” and “fantasy” as opposed using the word “real.” I think that there is some confusion when I use these terms in a magical context that causes others, particularly those who are not very adept at ritual or ceremonial magick, some confusion. This is because I am in no way devaluing these experiences by saying that they “appear” and “manifest” to our conscious senses through the artifice of our imaginations. What I am referring to here is the magical imagination, which is quite different although analogous to the imagination that all people employ.

The issue is that some folks think that I am saying that these spirits, whether earth spirits, angels, demons, or even deities, aren’t real. They are imaginary somehow because I have said that they are fully perceptible through the imagination. That means that I must believe that spirits aren’t real, and that relationships with them are not as fulfilling or meaningful as relationships with people. Of course this is not at all what I believe, nor is it what I have said in my various articles. Therefore, allow me to once again define what I think is a spirit.

Experiences of spirits are subjective experiences. They can only be objective to the point where other individuals can encounter them in the same context, which is typically but not always some kind of magical ritual or other kind of mind altering phenomenon. Even when the evocation of spirits are performed with a group of magicians, each one experiences something somewhat different. In some cases the experiences can be profoundly different, in other cases they are quite similar. Still, each person experiences the phenomena of spirits in a unique and different way. Such experiences are always subjective because they can’t be isolated from human experience and subjected to scientific proof or scrutiny. They remain in the anecdotal domain of subjective experiences. I have also found that an individual who is trained or naturally sensitive can have a sensory experience with a spirit under certain and specific conditions. Because of the consistency of these experiences and the fact that individuals can and do have encounters with spirits, we can at least state that such encounters are real. This is to say that from a subjective perspective such experiences are valid and represent a kind of objective reality.

However, the nature of spirits is that they are typically unseeable and unnoticeable until some kind of shift of consciousness occurs in a human being that allows them to be perceived. That perception, though, varies considerably due to the fact that individuals who do encounter them have certain capabilities to perceive spirits. Some individuals can see and observe spirits under certain conditions, while others can hear them and still others can physically sense them. Some individuals who are highly trained or naturally visually sensitive can completely observe, hear and sense spirits. 

Still, there is the problem that needs to be answered and that is whether spirits occupy space, have a material mass and exist in some kind of parallel world. My experience has shown me that the full realization of spirits is very rare for untrained individuals, and that in most cases the phenomenon of spiritual encounters is often subtle and barely perceptible. Only under certain conditions does a spirit seem to have all of the qualities of form and material mass, but such manifestations have never been objectively recorded by such unbiased means as a video camera. There are plenty of fake or mistaken apparitions caught on camera, but there have been no verifiable captured images of spirits. Why is this so? It’s because the very subtle nature of spirits can only become fully realized by a human observer when that user employs his or her imagination in a very focused and disciplined manner. This method of wielding the imagination in a disciplined and focused manner is what I call the magical imagination. It also indicates that spirits do not independently possess a material body that contains mass and location in space, or at least not in any way that has been objectively observed or measured by science.

Someone who has an accidental encounter with a spirit could be in a very unique state of consciousness that allows for a full realization of this spirit. This is an incidental occurrence, and it might also be considered abnormal for someone who is neither trained nor actively sensitive. For a magician (or a psychic), the cultivation of exalted states of consciousness is a requirement to consistently encounter spirits and even enter into their domain. This is because the phenomenon of spirit encounters is not a physical one, but one that is perceived through a shift in consciousness.

Spirits are not merely mental constructs or a product of our chaotic imaginings, they have a kind of objective reality in a subjective manner, and they also have a symbolic and archetypal component to their being. When asked if spirits are objectively real (like material objects), I will answer that spirits are both within our minds and also outside of us. They have a reality in our world of consciousness as disembodied beings wholly immersed and resident in that field. Some occultists have said that spirits (as well as magic) are all in our minds, except that our minds are far greater and vaster than we could possibly imagine. Perhaps this is a reference to the world of consciousness where individual points and collective clusters exist, as well as the union of all being that functions as the ultimate foundation and background. There is much that we don’t know about regarding consciousness, and I think that this is still one of the last great mysteries left for humanity to plumb. 

This brings up the next point of interest, and that is that spirits exist in a domain that is concurrent but distinct from our own domain. We live in a world that is filled with spirits of every different kind, but we are seldom aware of them because it requires an altered state of consciousness and a disciplined focused perception to even perceive them in a subtle and ephemeral manner. This parallel world is called the domain of spirit, and while it could be said that it occupies the same world that we exist in, we are only aware of it in rare circumstances. Those who can perceive this world readily and in a controlled manner have mastered their ability to sense the different streams of consciousness that are invisible to most people; those who can see this world without any self-control are judged to be insane by society. This is the subtle but distinct difference between magicians and madmen. A magician sees this world and perceives spirits in a controlled manner and at a set time, where otherwise he or she would not sense them.

Magicians apply the environmental stimuli of lamp or candle light, incense, consecrated robes, tools and specialized occultic regalia, various evocations employing foreign and barbarous languages, strange and exotic rituals, and hours or even days of preparation. Yet the one tool that is essential for a successful conjuring is the magical imagination and the foundational state of consciousness established by meditation and trance. If spirits were so easily perceived and encountered then why would a magician have to go to such lengths to summon and make them appear on command? It is because we live in a very mundane material world typically devoid of magic, miracles and spiritual encounters. We can break through the barriers of that world through a disciplined approach at mind control and the engagement of the magical imagination. The psychological power of possibility, the veritable “what if” has the potency to remake the world through the artifice of the empowered and unleashed magical imagination.

While it is true that we live in a world that is bounded by the limitations of physics and natural law, our minds are not so bounded, particularly when higher states of consciousness are achieved. Through inspiration, and particularly through ecstasy, we are able to breakthrough into the domain of magic, spirit, deity, myth and infinite possibility. This is because spirits and deities don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in a colorful and emotionally empowered world that has a context of mythic and symbolic meaning. Where everything is connected together into a singularity of union - the One. Only because everything is connected together into a tight web of meaningful associations and thereby imbued with spirit is magic even a possibility. In the cold material and autonomous universe without life and consciousness, there can be no magic and no possible connectivity. Such a world is grey, flat, undifferentiated, disassociated and lifeless - but introduce life and consciousness into that world and everything profoundly changes.

In the Old Testament book of Genesis, it is said that Yahweh created Adam so that he might give all the things that God created a name - to fashion a meaningful semantic web that untied all things together. He thus created Adam to add consciousness to the universe, and thus bring the world to life through magic, myth, spirit, and the power of the word. Adam was not content to just passively engage with this world - he hungered for self-knowledge, in other words, to name and know himself. The original sin was therefore not really a sin, it was the beginning of the divinization of humanity that continues to this day. This is because the ultimate aim of self-knowledge is to know that within each human being is a Deity, the Atman of the Hindus. To fully realize that powerful Deity within is to become fully and consciously enlightened in life - to become like a God, and to defeat mortality when death finally takes the body but not the conscious deity within.

Therefore, the key to any kind of spiritual encounter is to know the deity within one’s self, since it functions as the Eye of Spirit that allows human beings to be fully aware of the spiritual domain and all that is within it. Attaining this level of enlightenment is certainly one of the ways that a magician could master the domain of spirit and not require any of the tropes or external mechanisms to summon a spirit or encounter one. He or she would live in both the material world and the spiritual domain simultaneously - there would no longer be any distinction. That, in my opinion, is the ultimate objective of the ritual magician. A magician pursues this objective so that he or she will become all-magic and fully conscious as a god-mind.

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sexual Fantasy, Magic and Demonic Sex

One of my most popular blog articles of all time is one that I wrote on the Incubus and the Succubus. For some reason this article has gotten the most attention on the internet compared to any other, despite the fact that I have basically dismissed this kind of encounter as a poor surrogate for the real thing - sex with a human lover. I was bemused by this strange popularity and I couldn’t figure it out, until I found by accident that there is a whole cadre of lefthand path magicians (mostly male and typically young) who are advocating and even boasting about these kinds of encounters. Not being a Christian or a member of the Abrahamic faith (nor an avowed Satanist), I find these kinds of sidelines to be strange artifacts of a previous epoch. Really, if it wasn’t for the fact that we live in the post-modern age I would swear that the middle ages are alive and well.

So it seems that getting your kicks from an incubus or succubus encounter is something of a fad amongst some young LHP magicians, and it is even advocated and hotly advertised by someone with the stature of Eric Koetting. I discovered a rather hyped You-Tube video where Eric expounds on the topic of how to have sex with an incubus or succubus. You can find it here. There are, of course, plenty of other examples out there in the Internet (such as the Goetia Girls et al), but I will leave the gratuitous searching to those who are looking for amusement or titillation. This is a subject that doesn’t particularly interest me, most likely because I have found that “real” sex with a real woman is for me much more profound than engaging in some form of mental (or real) masturbation. I would also have to say that a long-term relationship is much more interesting and rewarding in life than some sweaty, quickie grope, grind and release. I am not against sex, and in fact, I am really quite in favor of any kind of “real” sexual encounter that is legal and based on mutual consent.

Don’t get me wrong, I am also a fan of erotica in its various forms, and in fact, my lady and I engage in the sharing and perusal of such media. However, we see it as stimulating fantasies not to be confused with the reality of human sexual relationships. I would suspect that this kind of reality is foundational to all persuasions and types of legal and natural human interactions. Sexual activity can be a great good, and it is also healthy for people to engage in it and thoroughly enjoy themselves. Sex can also be the means to higher states of consciousness, and there is such a thing as sacred sexuality. Since we all have within us an aspect of Deity, then consensual sex between loving individuals takes part in the union of Deities in sacred emulation of the One. That is how I see and personally define sexuality.

Fantasy, and sexuality in the mind, is an important and powerful component of physical sex, as well as many other creative endeavors, such as magic. It is often said that good sex starts in the mind where is it is empowered and amplified over time before it becomes a reality. Some fantasies, though, should probably remain in the mind and not be pursued in physical reality. I will leave that kind of judgement and discretion to the reader to ponder for themselves.

I do admit that I have had powerful erotic experiences in my magical workings, particularly when I have encountered various aspects and manifestations of the Goddess, to whom I am a spiritual and magical devotee. Most of those kinds of events occurred when I was younger and more sexually vital, but it is something that I have experienced in later times. However, that is an encounter with Deity, and the love relationship between the Goddess and myself is an important and powerful part of my spiritual and magical work. It can be inspiring, thrilling and it can even be terrifying, but throughout, it is a component of Deity that I can only experience through my own particular Godhead, or Atman. It is not a surrogate for a real human relationship, and it is not something that I can even talk about in any detail because it is so intimate and profoundly meaningful to me.

Perhaps that is what Eric and other LHP magicians are talking about when they get into discussing their sexual encounters with spirits. Angels and demons have a mythological history of cavorting with human partners, and there are many other examples in the religions of the world today. Still, without the same degree of reverence and sacralization, I doubt that these experiences are the same as what I have experienced. For me it is the conscious realization of the union of human and deity, occurring as it does through the medium of the higher self, or God/dess Within. I now realize that it is a manifestation of my Atman through which I have had powerful visions of sexual union. It produces in me a kind of exalted spiritual ecstasy. Through these experiences the poetry of Rumi, Kabir, Hafiz and others is powerfully acknowledged and realized. I am exalted by these occurrences, but I must also admit that they happen to me without necessarily being sought or pursued. The spiritual lover that Rumi discusses in his poetry is, of course, God, and it is the profound submission to this love that brings forth spiritual ecstasy and the visionary experiences of the highest states of consciousness.

Having had these kinds of experiences, I still sought for a life partner and life-long love, and I feel lucky and grateful that I found her. Receiving the love of the Goddess is a profound experience, but living in a loving relationship with a woman is a profound fulfillment of that spiritual connection. I believe that this is also true for anyone who is a lover, both on a physical and spiritual level, and their beloved, whether of the opposite or the same gender. Love is love, and the freedom to love is the greatest of all freedoms. Yet true love, especially the love of God, requires the lover to submit to that love in order to be exalted. It is a profound paradox, but it is also a great truth.

What I don’t see happening with the LHP obsession with the incubus or succubus is anything remotely like what I have experienced in magic or in life. I have received comments from readers telling me about their passionate encounters with spirits, demons, angels, or whatever, and yet they don’t seem to be exalted, transformed or even fulfilled by the encounter. It makes me sad to read these comments and emails because what it says to me is that there are some very lonely and desperate individuals out in the world who are seeking love and have only found it in their imaginations. They seem to project that imagination somewhat into the physical world, but it is not reciprocated by a real human lover - it remains a shadow of reality. 

I know what it is like to be desperate for love, and I know what it is like to be hurt and betrayed by false lovers. But I find this kind of encounter with a quasi fantasy spirit to be poor and meager fare for the body and soul. Maybe I don’t understand, that’s always a possibility, but maybe the world is full of a lot of lost souls who can’t find real love in any other manner.

Anyway, I can’t judge such individuals because I am not wired in the same manner. What I do believe is that what they are doing and experiencing is not even meaningful to me. It would be like having a romantic evening with a blow-up doll, and not a particularly good one, either. It is just ego inflating and seems like just a form of mental masturbation. I guess that I have failed the test to become a bad-ass LHP magician because I find this kind of activity to be silly and juvenile. Maybe others see it as cool and spunky, but to me it is empty and vain.

I hope some of the folks who have been avidly reading my article on demonic sex will realize that I think it’s not cool and awesome. It is, in fact, nothing more than some moronic juvenile activity that allows those who pursue it an excuse for seeking and obtaining a real relationship with a human being. I rest my case.

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Another Look at the Purpose of Magic

[I took a sabbatical from writing over the last couple of months, and then I thought that I should at least write something on a semi regular basis so that folks don’t forget who I am or what I have to offer the erstwhile student of ritual magick. So, I decided that short articles are better than no articles, and I will try to write short articles on a more frequent basis. We’ll see how that plays out in the weeks and months to come.]

I have written on this topic previously, but it is something that I should discuss again because I often hear someone saying that they have achieved everything that they need from their magical system and there is no need to pursue anything further. This, of course, is referring to magical-based material acquisition or at the very least, control over (most) occurrences of one’s destiny. It is a form of self-empowerment that can deceptively put someone into a comfortable niche and then keep them from aspiring or gaining any new perspectives.

Whether magicians use forms of simple or complex elemental magic, planetary and zodiacal magic, invoking and evoking spirits or performing various forms of thaumaturgy (or a combination of all of these forms), he or she ultimately comes to that great stumbling block of complacency and inertia called comfortable self-empowerment. The logic behind this complacency is that when something works well and consistently then why change it?

When magicians strive to become proficient and they have the tenacity and endurance to over-come failure through a period of years, to research and analyze that failure and to start over, and do this cyclic process many times over, they will eventually develop a magical system and methodology that will gain for them some modicum of success. Ah, there’s nothing more dangerous and problematic as becoming a successful magician. Let me explain why I think that this is so.

After all, life is something of a gamble, and the only thing that one can say about it for certain is that good fortune and bad fortune are part of the process. Like death itself, the joys, sorrows, and yes, even the boredom, are all a part of life whether one works magic or not. If you are experiencing a long period of material and psychic stability, and you feel like you are in control of the various capricious elements of fate, then you are likely due for some challenges or even some misfortune. Thinking this way is not pessimism, it is just a matter of odds, of course. Yet truly, if you live in a stable and dull part of the world then it will be more likely that you will lead a stable (and dull) life. Living in an unstable part of world can increase the odds for adventure and excitement, but also misfortune for nearly everyone, even those practicing magick. Instability can be caused by natural phenomena or the hazards of man-made conflicts and destruction. Nowhere on the planet is there a place that is indefinitely immune to either human or natural causes of instability.

So, if you have achieved magical competence and you feel empowered and it seems like you are in control of your life then you might also be succumbing to hubris, complacency, inertia and even a bit of self-delusion. Why stop progressing when you have finally become competent, since that should be the opportune place and time when one’s spiritual process could accelerate and thereby bring one to greater ascendency? I guess the real issue is more general and even foundational in regards to the art and practice of magic.   

This brings me to ask the most important question that one could ask regarding magical techniques and systems, and that is, what is the purpose of magic? Why do we work magic, and what do we do after we achieve enough material gain to consider ourselves competent and perhaps, even content with our lot? This question had eluded me for decades because until the last decade or so, magic was often hit or miss. It wasn’t until I had practiced magic for nearly thirty years that I finally felt that I could accomplish whatever I needed to accomplish. My career was in great shape, I had money, the means to acquiring a successful relationship, and I was able to develop and practice any kind of magic that my mind sought to experience. I even wrote up my own versions of the Abramelin ordeal, the Portae Lucis ordeal and numerous others.

I was quite successful at performing invocations and evocations, and I had a system of magic that could be developed to accomplish nearly any goal I could imagine. It just took time and effort to research, develop and to practice, but nothing seemed outside of my ability or scope. However, all during this time, I understood that magic should cause psychic transformations and push the ritual magician into ever greater states of conscious being. My ultimate destination was to experience full union with the One, although it took me many years to understand that concept as clearly as I do today. That was the goal, but the foundation that I spent so much time on was developing one’s internal and personal godhead. Without that most important component, one would attempt to realize the One in vain, or even worse, in complete delusion.

Therefore, over many years, I had determined that the purpose of magic was to achieve union with the One, and that it required me to realize the most intimate aspect of godhead within myself. I was a God, fully and completely (as are everyone else), and I was a seeker attempting to realize that Godhead within myself, and to ultimately understand that it was one and the same with the Union of All Being, which I call the One. I implicitly and intuitively knew this from my earliest days, but I was unable to articulate this truth for many years. That is what I have come to believe, and it becomes an important consideration for me when I have reached and achieved that point of magical and material competence, since that is the starting point for achieving the highest level of spiritual and magical being. The object is there within grasp, if only we can extract ourselves from that most comfortable of ruts, which is magical and material success. 

Despite the comfortable place that I find myself in these days, I force myself to action and to not cease in my magical work. I must continue seeking to undergo magical ordeals that challenge me to the very fiber of my being from time to time, or else I will the lose the path that I have spent so much effort to build. My life’s work really doesn’t end until the very day that I die, but until then I must seek to realize the holy God/dess Within. Full realization of this internal Atman is the key to realizing full cosmic consciousness and complete at-one-ment with the All. I believe that it is the key to full enlightenment and also to a form of conscious immortality.

I believe that each and every one of us can attain this pinnacle of accomplishment in a single life-time. It is, in fact, our destiny, and it is one that we are all programmed to achieve, but only if we remove all of the obstacles in our path, especially the ones that we have placed there ourselves. As the old saying goes, we are our own worst enemies, and this is especially true when considering the highest forms of magical and spiritual attainment.

So next time you find yourself thinking how much you have accomplished or that you have all that you need as a practicing ritual magician, I would hope that you begin to ponder about your own complacency and hubris. Thinking this way just seems to invite adversity and calamity, as if the point of earned stability is just a calm period before another storm blows through. It is as if the Gods have an evil and pernicious sense of humor, and they don’t take lightly to anyone who thinks that they have it made.

I have previously written on articles on this subject, and I would urge you to examine them if you haven’t read them previously. The first is about the five archetypal trials found in the path of the ritual magician. What I have discussed in this article would cover trial number 3, which is Indolence. Trial number 5 might also apply, which is Hubris. You can find that article here. Also, I wrote an article some years ago where I discussed the relevance for working ritual magic in the post-modern world. It could also shed some interesting light on why we work magic and what we expect to gain from it. You can find that article here.

Frater Barrabbas