Experiments

Spirit Cord Experiments

spirit cord Since I took R. J. Stewart's class on the Spirit Cord, I've started reading his book on the topic and I've continued doing my own magical work with it.  Some interesting experiences have happened as I've worked with the cord. I've integrated my work with it into my daily practice, as part of my experimentation, but I've also worked with it in relationship to entity/spirits work and dream work and in each instance have found it quite useful. The spirit cord also has some applications for space/time magic, which I think will be useful in my continued work with that area of magic.

Daily Work - I've integrated the cord into my daily work, with a specific purpose in mind. When I do my daily meditations I wear the cord and I send part of the meditation into the cord, for the cord to remember. Specifically I send part of my altered state of consciousness into the cord, so that when I do the meditation the next time, I can call upon the remembered state of being to slip more easily and quickly into that state as I do the daily work. Each time I've done this I found that it has been quicker and easier to enter into specific states of awareness and consciousness associated with the daily work I do. I've done some of the daily work without the cord and noted that it doesn't come as quickly, taking the usual amount of time it would have prior to me using the cord.

Entity/Spirit Work - One of the ways the cord can be worked with involves utilizing it to make a stronger connection with spirit guides you are working with. I recently did some with a couple of entities and as part of that work I incorporated the bonding ritual that is used with the cord. I've found that doing so does seem to add an a dimension of connection because the cord essentially "remembers" the relationships you've forged with other beings. When I wear the cord in the midst of doing magical work with a given entity, I draw on the memory of the connection as well as the actual work I'm currently doing to re-connect with the entity and I've felt a stronger connection as a result.

Dream Work - I've taken to wearing the cord every other night when I sleep. I do one night on and one night for several reasons. First I want to determine if there is an actual difference in sleep and dream work experiences when I wear it vs when I don't wear it and secondly if there is such a difference I also want to consider the need for deep sleep vs dream work, as dream work doesn't necessarily provide as full a night of sleep as the body might need. So far, what I've discovered is when I wear the cord at night I have very vivid dreams and I can recall the dreams in the morning, whereas when I don't wear the cord, I don't typically remember the dreams or remember very little.

Space/Time Magic Work - The spirit cord operates on the principle of connection, but also of memory. Both principles are integrally tied to time and space. Memory is fairly obvious, in that the cord is used to remember states of being, entities, etc., but the connection principle also applies because is used to connect, to measure one distance from another, or one time to another. The cord also serves to establish continuity and keeps that continuity alive through its use and memory aspects. An interesting exercise that Stewart includes in the book is to attach the cord to a peg in the ground and then try to move with it. What you'll find is that you can move toward or away from the peg (which could be considered linear time) or you can move in a circle around the peg, which is a rhythmic and perhaps non-linear version of time. He actually suggests doing this in relationship to understanding time.

I'm still reading the book and working through the exercises, but I find that this practice has already enriched my ongoing work immeasurably. There's a lot I'm getting from doing this work as it relates to my own interests, but also doing the work as part of a magical tradition that I am integrating into my life. I look forward to sharing more as I continue to do the work and experiment with it.

How to use the energy of a holiday in your magical workings

fireworks I always find holidays to be interesting, not only for the dynamics of human behavior that come forth, but also for the presence of the holiday, the energy that courses through it and builds to a quiet but steady hum of tension. The 4th of July is no exception. The tension starts the day before as people get out of work early and start driving to visit family or to buy food or to get fire works. The day of the holiday the tension rises through the day until people celebrate the fourth with firecrackers, with parties, with all the excesses people bring to such matters. And then there is what the day means. For the 4th of July, it's a day of creation, the celebration of the birth of the U.S. It's also a celebration of the concepts of Freedom, liberation, and other assorted values that a person might associate with this holiday. And to me it makes everything that happens a ritual of sorts, not necessarily religious, but holy nonetheless to the people who celebrate it.

Typically when we think of holiday magic, we think of magic associated with religious holidays, but I don't think we should limit ourselves to any given holiday and I also think that if you are doing magic on a given holiday you can tap into the energy of that holiday. Going back to the example of the 4th of July, there is a lot of energy that goes into that holiday, a lot of emotions, a lot of tradition, in a way and so why not tap into that, if it's something you feel inclined to tap into? You could tap into the 4th of July for creative or healing magic. Alternately you could also tap into it for more destructive magic. It really depends on what you want to do with it, but the point is that the holiday brings with it something that can be tapped into.

Each holiday we celebrate has its own energy, it's own tension and associations as well. Valentine's day is a holiday about love and lust, while Christmas is a holiday of both greed and giving. Thanksgiving is a day of thanks and a day of gluttony, while Memorial day is a day of remembrance and honoring the dead. Labor day honors work and people who work, and those are just the major secular holidays. But although those major holidays are secular there is something to be drawn on. So if you want to draw on the energy of a particular holiday look to what the holiday represents, both to yourself, and to people in general. Then plan your ritual for the day of the holiday. If you were to use the 4th of July, for example, you might time the ritual to begin when the fireworks began, using the sounds of the people and the fireworks going off as part of a ritual accompaniment. With Thanksgiving, you could use both the food preparation and the serving of the meal as part of your ritual. If you want to draw on a holiday, you want to  tap into the energy of the day by integrating the actual rituals of that day into your own rituals.

I think that with specific holidays you may want to use specific types of magic. Sex magic would be useful on the 4th and Valentine's day, while candle magic might be useful on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Memorial day. Think about what practical magic techniques you might use for a given day and ask yourself if those techniques are in character with the holiday. That can help you determine if what you'll do will help you draw on the energy of the holiday or if it'll distract from the energy of the holiday. After all if you want to draw on the energy of a holiday then you want to do activities that complement the holiday.

A Wealth Magic Entity Experiment

salesentityIn February I decided to create a wealth magic entity, specifically a sales magic entity. I was feeling frustrated with my lack of sales for my day business and I felt that what I needed was some help getting those sales. I realized I was too close to the situation so I created the sales entity (picture above) in order to help me improve my sales. The entity was supposed to help me find my ideal prospects and then help me close sales. I fueled him initially with the stress, frustration, and anger I was feeling about not having enough sales, and then tied it also to any sales activities I did. I finished the creation of him at the end of February. I have since done a variety of sales activities including cold calling, offering classes, and offering free coaching sessions. It's now mid April and since the creation of this entity there has been more activity in my business. From mid March to Mid April I've seen a rise in prospects with me having meetings with 3-5 new prospects each week. These prospects have come from classes I've offered, but have also been referrals and in one case even a person who wanted to connect via Linkedin. The prospects ranged from being solopreneurs to having employees, and some of them are very successful while others are struggling. All of them have needed an outside consultant. Thus far I've had one yes and quite a few no's (which often means not right now).

I'm not ready to rule out that this entity is a success because if you read enough sales books one of the realizations you quickly have is that you hear no quite a lot. In fact, one of my favorite sales books is titled Go for No, which posits that you will hear no a lot more often than you will hear yes. Also this entity has only been in existence for a short while and I recognize that all of my activity is teaching it how it can help me. However, I also see the need to tweak the entity in order to improve its performance. I'm going to focus on improving its prospect finding.

When you create an entity like this one, you can learn a lot from its early performance and use that as an indicator of what to work on or help it improve.  If you expect the entity to be perfect from the get go, you will be disappointed. There is always room for improvement, and if you recognize this, then you can examine the initial actions of the entity and refine what it does so that it produces better results. So that's what I'll do, based off what I've learned so far. It works, but it needs improvement.

 

Further Experiments with Zhine

zhine  

Since my original post about Zhine, I've been continuing to work with the technique and as is often the case I've taken to doing a bit of experimentation with it. My experiments have involved the core technique of maintaining awareness, without actually thinking or analyzing what you are maintaining awareness of. This has been challenging on occasion, as will be evident by how I've chosen to experiment, but it's also been a good discipline tool.

My first experiment has involved focusing my awareness on an object someone else is using. For example, at a networking lunch, I choose to focus my awareness on a fork. Thus I continually maintained awareness of the fork, including not only when it wasn't being used, but also when it was being used. I was able to do this at a networking lunch, although that could be a challenge as well, because I did need to maintain enough awareness of myself to not come off as staring, or being aware of when people were addressing me. Consequently I split my mental focus so that part of me focused on the fork, while the rest of me observed the social niceties around me. I did feel I was able to focus and be aware of the fork, but I'll admit that my zhine experience wasn't as deep as it could be by virtue of needing to maintain a specific level of awareness. I've repeated this exercise a few times and each time while I've been able to achieve a meditative awareness its not as deep as when I'm alone just focusing on an object.

My second experiment involved focusing on a living creature, one of my cats actually. I sat down in the living room and chose one cat to focus on. Whatever he did, wherever he moved, I stayed focused on him, while ignoring the other cats. Maintaining Zhine with a living animal was an interesting experiment because every time I started to get interested in what he was doing, I needed to refocus on the intent of the exercise, which was simply to be aware of the cat as opposed to studying the cat. I didn't find that his movements distracted me per se, but more what he was doing. Still as I continued practicing Zhine with my cat, it gradually became easier. One interesting side effect of this was that this particular cat showed up in my dreams while I was doing Zhine.

My third experiment involved focusing on a leaf outside my window. What was challenging with this experiment was that sometimes the leaf would move and when my eyes tracked it I'd become aware of dust on the window. I'd then need to refocus on the leaf and its movement. Still this exercise has been steadily getting easier as I've continued to do it. However the leaf hasn't shown up in my dreams. I wonder if my emotional attachment to my cat is part of why he shows up in my dreams.

As always when doing Zhine at a certain point I find that the "reality" of what I am studying shifts and seems to become more real than anything else, myself included. It's as if I'm entering into a dream, which makes sense given that Zhine is supposed to help you achieve dream yoga. Nonetheless I'll admit I find this shift fascinating and I am already thinking of how I can use it for other acts of magic beyond dream work.

A case study of a long distance working

Kat was away on a trip last week. We do a daily meditation together in the evening, but we weren't able to do it together because of the trip, so instead we opted to do it via phone. I would put her on the speaker phone and then we'd do our meditation chant and afterwards meditate in silence. Each time we'd end our meditation at the same time, without any prompting from the other person.

What we both noticed was that despite the distance we felt like we were next to each other. Kat told me that even though she was in the hotel she could smell our house while we were doing the meditation. It was interesting me to because it showed that the daily work we were doing was creating a connection that carried across the distance. It likely helped that its easy for us to visualize each other and that we've been doing this daily meditation for a little while now, but it also speaks to the value of doing daily work with magical partners. It builds more of a connection between the two or more people doing the work.

I've done long distance workings in the past with other people, and what has always indicated the success of the long distance workings has been feeling the presence of the people I'm working with. If I feel their presence, I know I've connected with them, and we can always verify that by seeing if our reports are consistent with each other. If they are, then we know the magical work is happening across the distance.

Book Review: Darwin's Pharmacy by Richard Doyle

First a caveat. I know the author and actually took classes from him in college.

This is is an intriguing book that explores the rhetoric of entheogens and how people discuss the experiences they've had with entheogens. The author interweaves his own narrative and experiences with the analysis he provides about entheogens. If you are interested in entheogens this book will be a good read that provides you some fascinating insights into the subculture around them. The author also bases a lot of his discussion around the works of Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, the McKenna brothers and other luminaries that have discussed entheogens in their own work. What I found particularly fascinating was the connected he made to Darwin's Theory of evolution and how work with the plants is a symbiotic relationship of evolution for both humans and plants.

Playing a Sigil Game

I recently joined a chaos magic Facebook group and several of the people asked me if I'd like to participate in a sigil game. In this game you share a sigil (or in my case sigils) and let other people activate them. They then to try guess what the purpose of the sigil is, i.e. what it is it supposed to do.

I thought it was an intriguing game, so I put together six sigils, using my comic book panel sigil technique. Why do multiple sigils? Because I think it would make the game more interesting. I also set the sigils up with two layers of programming, of which one layer is directly relevant to my life, and which the other layer is relevant or has benefits for the people activating the sigils.

I'm including information about this sigil game for any readers of my blog who want to participate in it, for the fun of it. Your task is to to charge and fire all six sigils together. When one is manifested into reality, it will create momentum to bring the other five into reality. A month's time to do it and see what happens as a result, though some results may continue to occur after the deadline.

Projects I'm currently working

I'm working on a few projects right now, and thought I would share what I'm working on, in terms of classes, books, and magical work.

1. Space/Time Weekend Class: I've already announced this class recently, but I'm really excited about it. I'll be taking the concepts and practices in Space/Time Magic and Magical Identity and showing people to turn them into a comprehensive system of magical practice and spirituality. This class will happen in March in Portland, though I am also open to teaching it elsewhere, under the right circumstances.

2. Magical Journal book: Also in March I'll be publishing my next book through Immanion Press, which will be a collection of all the blog entries on this blog from 2008 to 2012. It'll be quite a collection and I'm looking forward to having all the blog posts of this site available in print.

3. Wealth Magic Book: I am also writing a book on Wealth Magic and I'm currently putting a proposal together for a publisher. I'm not going with Immanion because this book has a broader audience. I'll give you more details when I know them.

4. Music Magic Experiment: I'm still doing experiments with music, specifically my voice and how it can be applied to magic. There's some fascinating works on the topic if you're willing to dig in and research.

5. Refinement of Tibetan Meditation practices: I'm learning more about some of the meditation practices I do and as a result I'm refining how I do them to take advantage of what I've learned. I've noticed some definite improvements because of the refinements.

That's it for the moment. I have a couple other projects, but those are long term down the line projects, with research being done as opposed to anything active.

Another Music Magic Experiment

Kat and I are reading the Spiritual Dimension of Music by R. J. Stewart. It has several exercises in it and I've tried them out solo as well as doing them with Kat. One of the exercises involves using different tones of music to raise energy through your body, while humming and/or vocalizing the tones. Another exercises involves using vowels to set up a magical circle, with each vowel representing one of the four cardinal directions and/or spirit.

I've decided to integrate the tonal exercise into my daily practice, and may integrate the vowel exercise as well, as I can distinctly feel the energy that is raised when I do these music magic exercises. I've always had an affinity for singing (I used to be in chorus in high school) and feel that the voice is one of the most powerful tools a magician can have, if properly trained and worked with.

When I've done these practices with Kat, I've noticed an enhancement to the work I'm doing. It seems like we amplify each other's signal and consequently the magical work is also amplified.

I've taken this work and also applied it to existing music magic that I've been doing, specifically working with the Tuvan throat singing.I've tried to integrate the tuvan throat singing with the vowels and tones. I haven't had too much luck with it so far, but it does take some work. Nonetheless its fascinating work and I'll share more as I continue to try things out.

 

Book Review: When Why...IF by Robin Wood

I'm not a Wiccan and I mention that because it's an important caveat to this review. This book was written for Wiccans and primarily deals with ethics from that perspective. I'll admit that I didn't really care for this book. At times I found the author to be condescending. She came off as a stern mother lecturing her way-ward son about how to behave. I also didn't see a lot of commentary on magic and ethics which I hoped for. I suspect the lack of it has more to do with the fact that its a book on Wiccan ethics, wherein Wicca tends to treat magic as a secondary activity. If you're Wiccan, this could be a useful book for providing some guidance on expected behaviors.  If you're a practitioner of other Pagan religions or more focused on magical practice, this book will probably not be that helpful.

Music, Breath, and Magic

Part of my ongoing work in magic has involved experimenting with vocal tones and vibrations via my vocal cords. In my daily Tumo practice, I've been altering the position of my tongue on the roof my mouth and have noted that moving it to different parts of the roof of the mouth alters the tone of the vocalization. This work is informed by a recognition of the following principle mentioned in the Spiritual Dimension of Music:

The ancient metaphysicians and magicians repeatedly taught that the actual physical emission of sound, particularly of selected frequencies and patterns was a reflection of an inner spiritual reality. This inner reality has the potency of transformation , both personal and impersonal.

In Tibetan Shamanic and Tantric practices as well as in specific Western mystery practices the physical emission of sound is used to trigger specific states of spiritual power. For example, in my daily practice of Tumo, I vocalize the word Hon and utilize the vibration to invoke a specific union of my energies with the energies represented in that sound. There also techniques where a person can vocalize the different names of God in order to involve the energies of those names into his/her own personal energy.

Breath also plays an important role in this work. Breath is representative of spirit and is also what is used to fuel the vocalization of a sound. There is actually a way to learn how to continue emitting a noise, while drawing in a breath, without much break in the making of the noise.

What I've found in my own work is that there is a definite triggering of a state of mind that occurs with the vocalization of sound. The experience of that state of mind can be quite useful in ritual work as it helps to set up the ritual space/time a person works in. I'm even reminded of an exercise that I and some other people did, from the Possible Human, that involved making a ZZZ sound that signified the passing from one unit of time to another unit of time. At first all of us felt self-conscious, but then we found that the noise actually triggered a shift in time, and that doing the sound with others enhanced the effect.

I suspect the same is true in general. If you make a specific noise with others, for the intent of creating a specific state of mind or metaphysical being, the combination of your sound with others enhances the overall effect. Perhaps this is also because all of the people are experiencing a shift in consciousness to a similar altered state of awareness and the actual altered state of awareness builds of one person supports and enhances that of other people as well. Perhaps its a combination of the above. I do know that the use of sound in magical work is really effective and that turning your voice into a magical tool can be useful for a variety of practices both in meditation and more practical applications of magic.

 

Systems and Liberation

In the Spiritual Dimension of Music, R.J. Stewart makes the following observation: "The best that can be said for any system is that it is effective in doing what it claims to do and that it leads to its own demolition via the liberation of those who employ it to reach new conclusions, fresh insights, and real inner or outer growth." In God Emperor of Dune, Frank Herbert makes another point, one that all magicians should consider carefully, when he argues that words distort the ideas they represent by framing those ideas into systems. Systems, while providing routine and a sense of social order, can also create ignorance if people don’t examine the beliefs they adopt when they rely on that system to structure their perceptions of the world. My approach to magic is based on the concept of process. I don't really think of it as a system, but I recognize that a process approach can lead to a systematization of a spiritual practice. And the dangers mentioned above are realistic to any system. This is also why I find it useful to encourage experimentation, as such experimentation allows a person to challenge the system s/he is part of, and strike out to create his/her own approach. Experimentation is necessary as not only a creative exercise, but also an exercise in critical thinking. Experimentation, as an exercise in critical thinking, recognizes that no one system has all the answers or liberation for all aspirants. Consequently the creation of a new entire system can be the opportunity presented to explore liberation, but at some point that system will also become dogmatic.

To put it another way, the evolution of magic as a spiritual practice occurs because there are people who are willing to step beyond the systems they originally learned, and move past the religious dogma that sometimes accompanies magical work. Anything a person learns ideally helps the person to eventually move beyond it, and when the person has moved beyond s/he evolves as a person. This isn't to say that s/he won't still have use for what was learned, but rather s/he will not let it define their lives or their practice.

When something defines your life to the point that it dictates who you can be, with no room for growth or liberation, it becomes dogma, confining the person to a narrow existence. That confinement can only be combated by recognizing the limitations, and challenging them through the choice to experiment and do something that goes outside the norms espoused by the system a person is in. This consideration is why I take a descriptive approach to magic, as opposed to a prescriptive approach. A prescriptive approach, while initially providing guidance, ultimately confines people with specific rules and limitations, and most often these rules and limitations are inspired by social norms. A descriptive approach provides guidance, but also encourages a person to go in different directions and to test what s/he is learning. There is no set rule or limitation that insists on a particular stand or way of acting.

That's one reason I've focused on experimentation in magic and life. Instead of sticking to a particular tradition or religion I've found that genuine liberation is better found through the pursuits of actively exploring the wonders of the universe and discovering what you can do with it. Instead of letting the words of a holy book define my life, I've chosen to define my life through my exploration of those wonders. I find that such an approach encourages liberation because any system that is derived is continually questioned in relationship to the experiences a person is having. Such a system is inevitably moved past with the recognition that it served its purpose. Liberation is more important than sticking with the comfort and limitations of a system. It is by testing ourselves and the world we are in that we can find liberation, though it might be fleeting, and thus the work continues!

The influence of Cut-up on my magical work

Reading over some of the bibliographic articles in thee Psychick Bible reminded me of my own history with the cut-up technique that William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin developed. In the spring of 1998, I had the fortune to take an English literature class that focused on the works of William S. Burroughs. The professor was one of those rare academics who was willing to take risks and offer something different from the standard fare you'd typically find in colleges. That course introduced me to William S. Burroughs and his writings, and changed my life. In Burroughs, especially his later works, I found an author I could identify with. Throughout his works were allusions to esotericism, and how to incorporate magic into writing, and how writing could shape space and time...and of course the cut-up technique. Ironically, I took the course because I wasn't sure what else to take, but taking it challenged me to look at writing and literature in a different way than I ever had, and it was ideal for a young occultist that was just beginning to explore magic from an experimental perspective.

When I think of the cut-up technique, I think of cutting up magazines and newspapers and my own writing and then gluing it altogether in my room, and later taking it and transcribing it to some story I was writing, while listening to the spoken word of William S. Burroughs, his dry crackling voice gleefully describing alien situations, weird sex, and evil old men out to conquer death. That was my first real work with cut-up and it was something I continuously experimented with over the period of about 4 or 5 years. I still do an annual collage or two each year (you can see one of the 2012 ones in this post).

I later began experimenting with cut-up via magical work more directly, actually using the altered state of consciousness to do an automatic cut-up sigil in the style of Austin Osman Spare's sigil work. These cut-up sigils were used for a variety of purposes including the two evocations I mentioned in my recent post about magic and proof. I found this approach to be highly effect because it literally involved a rewrite of reality. First I'd cut-up the conventional reality that had already been created, and then reform it into my own collage message to the universe, complete with a reformatted space and time. The universe has always been kind enough to respond and its a technique I use to this day.

What fascinates me the most about cut-up is how it can be adapted to a wide variety of mediums outside of writing. Art, sound, and video all offer potential explorations of cut-up, some of which have already been experimented with by various people. Cut-up is a mutable technique, a mutable form, and inspires mutation in general. It's flexibility, in terms of mediums, makes it ideal as a magical technique because its not restricted to a specific way to do it.

Here's to William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin for offering a new perspective on writing and in the process offering so much more!

 

Planetary magic update

The drawing you see in this post is for Jupiter. You can see all the drawings I've done thus far on my Facebook page. At the time of this writing I still have a few more drawings to complete. I chose to use colored pencils as opposed to water color paints, just to try a different medium out, instead of the same old, same old. In each case, what I chose to do was first look at the sigil I'd been given and use it to invoke the planetary energy into me. Then I started drawing letting the planetary energy guide my hands in the drawing. As you'll likely note the drawings aren't overly complex, nor are they meant to be. They are meant to act as gateways for the planetary energy, and represent the movement of that energy as I worked with it.

My next step is to place each gateway at appropriate places in my house, to capitalize on and direct the planetary energy toward specific areas of life that the drawings would be related to.

Contemporary Technology as Ritual Tools

One of the ways I like to experiment with magic involves integrating contemporary technology into magical practice, including making technology into ritual tools. This can be something as simple as turning your toothbrush and toothpaste into a tool that you use for a ritual of banishment (not only does it fight tooth decay, but it also cleans out lingering psychic plaque!) or using a video game character to charge and fire a sigil. It could be as complex as using static on your TV screen for scrying purposes (ala TOPY) or treating your cell phone as an evoking tool for working with specific entities (think Jozef Karika on this one). For many magicians, these ideas may seem foreign or blasphemous, but that's only due to a lack of imagination on their part. Any type of technology could be a ritual tool. The coding language you use to create a program can also be used to inject a magical working into that same program or into what the program is supposed to interact with. A paint brush can become a wand when its used to paint the seal of an entity, summoning that entity into an evocation that the painting itself activates by the choice of the magician.

It is the use technology is put to that defines if it becomes a ritual tool. There is nothing inherent within any tool that makes it magical. What makes anything magical is the intention of the magician, and specifically how s/he uses a given tool to convey that intention to the world around him/her. A tool is a physical expression of a concept the magician is expressing as part of the magical work s/he is doing. If that concept is better expressed through modern technology then use modern technology in you're workings. If we assume that modern technology can't be used because its modern, what we are really doing is limiting the ability to evolve magic, as well as adapt to situations that our contemporary to our time and space.

This isn't to say we should discard the athame or other traditional tools, but why not also look at how you could use your toothbrush in a magical working? As I said above there is nothing inherently magical in any of our tools. What makes the magic happen is the magician and his/her ability to turn possibilities into realities.

Planetary Magic Experiment

I've never worked with planetary magic. I got wrapped up into elemental hermeticism and didn't really explore the planets. But I'm taking the Strategic Sorcery course and one of the homework assignments involved possibly working with planetary magic so I thought I'd stretch myself. Jason thoughtfully provided symbols he'd gotten in his own work, but I decided it was better if I went straight to the source, and the other day in How to Meet and Work with Spirit Guides by Ted Andrews, I found pertinent information on contacting the archangel associated with each planet. I decided to work with one planet: Jupiter, which is associated with wealth magic. The archangel associated with Jupiter is Tzadkiel. The first step was to contact Tzadkiel. I meditated on the astrological symbol of Jupiter and Tzadkiel's sigil, as well as vocalizing Tzadkiel's name. It took a little while to make contact, but eventually I did. I asked him, if I could get a symbol for Jupiter that represented the planetary energy and associations with wealth and other areas. He was happy to provide it to me, but then we got into a discussion about the associations. I asked him about the association of wealth with Jupiter and what made Jupiter as a planet have anything to do with wealth. He replied it was less about the planet and more about how people perceived the planet (and associated God) with wealth. That what made it powerful had more to do with the perceptions that people invested in the planet. What I'm really tapping into are those perceptions of the power, the perceptions about the associations and how those associations can be worked with.

Since then I've taken the symbol and put it on my whiteboard and each time I've done anything associated with my business or a financial transaction, I've mentally imprinted the symbol on the business or financial transaction, with the idea of drawing on those associations to provide a favorable outcome for me. I plan on doing work with the other planets (and their archangels )and also with Tzadkiel, but it is an interesting thought, to look at the planetary energy in terms of the perceptions invested into it.

Tradition vs Experimentation

Jason Miller wrote a recent blog entry about tradition vs experimentation and it prompted me to do some thinking about the topic as well. If you've read my books you know I don't decry tradition per se, but I definitely favor experimentation. Nonetheless I think tradition is important. Tradition grounds us, provides us an awareness of where we've come from. Tradition provides the training in the principles. Tradition is useful because with it you have perspective on what's come before and how its worked and if you've done your work, you gain a solid understanding of magic.

Experimentation frees us from the limits of tradition, from the limits of doing something the way other people did it. Experimentation challenges us to look beyond what we know, to explore possible alternatives. Experimentation relies on a sound understanding of the principles of magic, but also challenges those principles through the very act of experimentation.

I'm an experimenter. I did my time with both ceremonial and ritual magic, and with any given system of magic that I learn about, I do my best to learn it as its practiced before I start making changes. Yet what thrills me is the cutting edge and doing something different. I respect that people can get measurable results by doing magic a specific way that others have done, but I've also gotten measurable results through my own work and the reason is simple. Magic operates on specific principles or rules and if you understand those rules the trappings don't matter.

But you'll say "The trappings do matter" They only matter because you choose to make them matter. you've read meaning into them and invested in belief in how they matter and as a result you need them. But experimentation challenges that and argues for making whatever props you want, or even doing it all without props. As long as you get a measurable result, that's what matters to most people. I'll add that as long as you can explain your process so that others can reproduce it and achieve similar results...then you're doing it right.

I look to tradition because I've used it to understand how magic works, and also to understand how people have limited themselves in their approach to magic. I've used experimentation to free myself of their limitations and to challenge my own as well. What I love about magic is there is no one true way to do it. And the people who try to sell you on one true way are fooling themselves. Their unwillingness to test their own limits ultimately causes them to fail. It doesn't even matter that they achieve measurable results, if all they ever do is stick with their own limited perspective on magic. In fact, its truly disappointing when you find such people. Their lack of perspective causes them to fail magic itself.

Magic isn't meant to be limited to one true way. Learn the traditions. They will benefit you. But experiment as well. Test yourself. The whole point of all this is to do more than just repeat what's already been done.

A commentary on Evocations

There's this idea about evocations that if you do them and you don't see the spirit, you aren't doing them right. Some of this attitude comes from Joe Lisiewski's books, with his focus on doing traditional evocations. The consequent result is this elitist belief that people who don't see a visible entity clearly are doing it wrong.

As someone who's done a lot of evocations, I can safely say that the criteria that you need to have a visible appearance of an entity to prove you've done it right is just a bit biased toward a traditionalist perspective of magic. Then again, I've also successfully evoked three people into my life, so that not only have I visibly seen them, but also physically felt them. To be clear though, I've never approached evocation as a mental experience that just happens in my head. The concept that an entity is just a psychological aspect of yourself is the excuse of people unwilling to apply themselves.

But what I disagree with is this notion that you have to do evocation a particular way in order to establish contact with the spirit of your choice and achieve the result you desire. Although I have a background in ceremonial magic, I've long since stopped using the props and focused on personalizing how I do magic. I figure as long as I understand the underlying principles, the entity in question isn't going care how I evoke it.

More importantly, if I'm doing it right, it won't matter if it visibly shows itself to me. I will know its presence. I will feel its presence. And maybe this just a case of semantics, but I've never visibly seen an entity, at least not with my eyes. I've visualized an entity and I have felt its presence in the room with me, but I've never physically seen one. Nonetheless I have successfully evoked entities and achieved measurable results with the aid of those entities. I've developed and maintained relationships with those entities. They have moved me.

It could be argued that if I took the time to evoke the entities using the traditional grimoires I might actually see them. Yet nonetheless, I know that my approach to evocation seems to work well. It's not traditional, because I find traditional boring. Nonetheless there is still real work involved in the practices that I'm doing. Genuine communion with an entity is not something that can be judged solely on if it appeared before you. Genuine communion is an experience and how that experience manifests may differ from person to person. Nonetheless if a person is genuinely moved by the experience, what speaks to the success is not just the manifestation of a result, but a true relationship with the entity that brings about a consequent change in the person's life that is truly sustainable.

 

Game Sigil

The other day my family and I were playing a game of Triominos. This was the shape we'd put together toward the end of the game. As I looked at it, I was struck at how you could use the actual shape and tiles as part of a sigilistic working. The purpose of the game is to match tiles together by the numbers. You can get some interesting shapes as a result.

I figure you could approach this technique in two different ways. You could do a solo working where you lay all the pieces on the blank side and then start pulling pieces and matching them together until you get a shape that you can use for a sigil. Or you could do a group working, where instead of focusing on winning the game, everyone focuses their intent on building a sigil shape that they'll use for the magical working. The entire activity could be focused on the actual working you want to accomplish, with the goal being to use the pieces to create the shape or appearance for the sigil to work.

I know it's a little odd and different. Why not stick with the same old, same old, right? But I like having fun with magic and this has a lot of potential for fun as well as working as a focus tool.

Have you repurposed any games for magical purposes? If so, how?

Symbols, Archetypes, and Reality in Once Upon a Time

I love the new show Once Upon a Time. It's an intriguing mix of Faerie Tale with Modern world. Hopefully it'll last more than one or two seasons. Perhaps what I love most about is the intersection of symbolism, character archetypes, and reality. In one sense, the show is depicting two alternate lives for each character, and yet in another sense its depicting how people in a small town end up trying to embody and act out faerie tale roles they've been assigned by a child trying to find meaning in his life. You can interpret it a variety of ways I suppose, and that's where I see the show as a kind of magical act/metaphor of reality.

What makes it so evocative is the ability to portray two different realities and while it can be argued that the faerie tale reality is the "past life" of the characters, it's also their future and present, because they are stories constantly retold and relived in the imagination of the people telling them.

At the same time, this show also explores the modern "real" world as a faerie tale world in its own right, something not real, but just as made up and surreal as the faerie tale world...and why not. It makes perfect sense to treat the modern world as just another faerie tale, but what I find so fascinating is how in one degree or another the characters are playing out the themes of their lives, becoming the archetypes or at least trying to as some part of themselves rebels against the curse.

I have no doubt I'll have further analysis of this really fascinating show. I'm admittedly geeking out a bit, but this kind of analysis and research is part of how I create effective pop culture magic workings. The more enthusiasm you invest the more real it becomes, and that's part of what makes pop culture magic viable...Plus in this case it also is combined with my interest in how pop culture reinvent and retells older mythology in modern contexts!

The requisite new year post

It's 2012. When you look back on 2011, you might be thinking of everything you accomplished or everything you didn't do. Maybe you're also thinking of new year resolutions or how you'll do what you didn't get to in 2012.

Stop. Just stop for a moment. Those are all such automatic thoughts, such cultural promptings that its worthwhile to consider a different tact and step out of the automatic grind that is New Years.

Every day of the year signals a new year that is starting, because one year ago that day started and ended. But we only think of the new year a couple times out of the year. We think of it in January and you might think of it also around your birthday or around Samhain, if that's your thing, but in general people don't consider that a year can end on any day, and begin on any other day. It's all arbitrary.

So 2012 is here. What has really changed from yesterday or the day before? Nothing but numbers. Nothing but an arbitrary measurement of what time it is. Take that new year fervor you feel, that burning passion that you will make changes and ask yourself: "How can I sustain this each day of the year, every year, so I actually make the changes I want to make?"

Each day provides you an opportunity to change, to make a difference in your life or someone else's. Sustaining the momentum is what the real challenge is. People start out with resolutions and then they are ground away. Nothing feels new, everything lacks a certain luster. Sound familiar?

If you want a new you...if you want to keep those resolutions, develop a long term sustainable plan that you can hold yourself to, and if possible get some help with accountability by partnering up with someone else who wants to make changes.

Successful long term magical work is based on a systematic approach to what you are working on. Thus, for example, I have my year long elemental balancing rituals, which serve to focus my internal work on specific themes that I can use to measure my change or lack thereof over the course of the year.

I'm developing an online correspondence course for people who want to learn my approach to magic. It seem to be quite the rage right now...actually I think its been that way for a while. What sustains my approach to this particular project is the idea that once its completed, it'll be very easy to add changes onto it, while providing anyone who takes it a chance to experiment with my approach to magic. But the only way such a program will work is if the people taking the class actually have a sustainable model for integrating what they are learning into their daily lives.

It's 2012. What will you do to develop a sustainable process that you can use to create effective change in your life and maintain that change?

Latest Radio Interview

Here's the archived version of the recent interview I did about my new book Magical Identity with Justin from Sothis Media. If you didn't get to listen to interview, or just want to listen to it again, click this link!

Book Review Self Comes to Mind by Antonio Damasio

This is an interesting book that presents what I'd consider to be an ontological perspective on neuroscience, identity, and consciousness. The author presents some intriguing ideas about the intersection of these concepts, particularly where consciousness originates from. I'd highly recommend this book as one that will get you to think about your brain and body in a new way, as well as provide new perspectives on what self is and where consciousness fits into it all.

Social Media Magic

I'm debating right now what my next book will be about, but I've already got some good ideas percolating. No it won't be social media magic...though that could be the name of a chapter.

Anyway, I've been playing around with my Facebook Timeline, adding some events to points in the past, mainly where I moved to and where I've lived. I wish they would let you create future events on your timeline, but it doesn't look like they do. However the possibilities of using an FB timeline for a bit of retroactive magic does excite me, especially when you can add pictures and videos to a specific date in time. You can graphically rewrite your timeline and make it into a very creative experience.

For example I've added several fiction events to my timeline. I've done it for the sheer humor of it, but there's nothing to say that you couldn't go in and rewrite portions of your life with modified details, and use that as a kind of narrative that also retroactively rewrites your life. And if you can get people into participating with you via tagging, you can even come up with some clever meta events.

It's really about having fun, but also getting creative with your life. Changing what happened on the timeline might open up some possibilities for you, or if nothing else give you closure on events in your life. It's something I'll keep playing with, as much for whimsy as for any magical purpose. The time line is a graphic and textual narrative of your life. It can represent where you've been, who you've met, what you've done...and it can part fact and part fiction. FB probably wants it to be all fact, but why make it all fact?

What about you? How would you experiment with the Facebook timeline?