deity

The Ontological Reality of Deities, Spirits, and otherworld beings

  thiede

Thanks to the polytheism vs pop culture magic debate that has been going on I've been thinking a lot about my own interactions with deities, demons, spirits, etc. Galina Krassakova posts her own views about her experiences and why she doesn't need theories to define her relationships with her deities on Pagan Square and though it might surprise her and the other polythiests, I'm actually in agreement with her argument that theory ultimately distracts from doing the actual work. Theories are at best tools, but even as tools they should be used carefully lest they overshadow the actual work.  My latest article on Pagansquare discusses theory and its role in magic further, but for this post I thought I'd focus on my experiences with Deity, spirits, and other assorted spiritual beings I've worked with. That phrase "work with" is likely where I and the polytheists differ and we'll get to why that is later.

My journey with the spirits has taken me on some interesting paths, and some of those paths have been theory oriented.  I've explored archetypal theory for example and applied it to my practice. My book Pop Culture Magick is a prime example of the application of archetypes to magical work and to be honest I still use some of that in my practice, particularly with identity magic. And working with the concepts of archetypes has lead me to some interesting conclusions about deities, demons, etc., based less on theory and moreso on observation, practice, and experience with said beings. I don't feel that these realizations take away from the reality of the spirits, so much as provide some additional forms of engagement that ultimately can lead to a more primal experience of spirit. I liken it removing a mask and uncovering what's really underneath the mask, and realizing that the mask was used in order to provide a particular space where spirit and human could meet for the comfort of the human.

Yet the removal of the mask was also the removal of theory. Instead of focusing on the attributes and behaviors, the trappings as it were, I encountered the deeper ontological reality of the spiritual beings I was and do connect with. And instead of trying to get them to fit my agenda or needs, I allowed and do allow myself to be moved by them, to fully experience them as they are instead of through an interpretation based on theory. The irony is, that by allowing myself to be so moved, I've been moved as well by the pop culture spirits I've worked with, the ones that are supposedly not real. In my article on pop culture on pagan square I mentioned how I had a long relationship with Thiede. Thiede is a character in Storm Constantine's Wraeththu series, a fantasy series, and yet for me Thiede has been and is real. Thiede is the guardian of Space, the revealer of the ley lines between planets and stars, a dehara, and so much more to me. Reading about him in a book was only the start of my connection to him, and it was a connection, from the start, that moved me deeply.

When I say the phrase "move me" I'm not talking about being emotionally moved to tears. I'm talking about encountering a spiritual force that has deeply affected me, changed me and pointed my life and spiritual practice in a different direction than it might have gone otherwise. And that experience isn't something you can just slap a theory on. It defies theory because theory is ultimately an intellectual process used to categorize and define something into a neat little box that you can store away until you need it. I've had an encounter with something fundamentally different from me and that experience has changed who I am. It has changed my identity.

And this is not an isolated incident. Each year I work with a different elemental force and part of that process involves working with a spirit guide that provides a "face" through which I can interact with that elemental force. The elemental balancing work is an intense process of change that is brought by interacting with the element. There is no theory for it, but simply the engagement of practice and the recognition that I need to work with a given elemental force in my life. The various entities I've worked with during the balancing rituals haven't been archetypes...far from it. They are collection of beings that even today are in my life. They are not something I believe in...they are something I experience. That's an important distinction to make because in my opinion belief is just another theory, another tool. The experience of them in my life is something else. To me, the spirits I work with, traditional or pop culture, are real. There is an ontological essence of being, of identity that is objective, beyond any categorization I could give it, and it is sustained not merely by my own experience, but also by the experiences of others, independent of my own.

My work with my spirits has some form of devotion and offering attached to it. Some of the tattoos on my body, for example, are devotional offerings of my skin made to a particular element as a way of recognizing the significant role the element has played in my life. I also make offerings to particular spirits in the form of writing or through painting. But the work I do with them is nonetheless geared more toward the advancement of my work with magic than anything else. They play an important role in my life, but they are not central to it, so much as they help me focus on what is central. Thus I work with them, and this likely is different from how the polytheists approach such matters.

Just because some of my spirits aren't tied to a particular religion or culture of old doesn't invalidate their existence. And while it might be said that such spirits were created by an author or artist, I'd argue that perhaps they weren't created, so much as channeled and experienced. Whether anyone agrees with me or not on that issue isn't important. What's important in the end is that I am doing the work I am called to do. I'm getting out of my own way and letting it happen, letting myself be moved and inspired, so that I can do what I need to do. And really, isn't that the point?

 

Dragon Ritual - February

This month's ritual was different from the previous month. While Dragon did possess my body, he didn't talk much to Kat, keeping it only to a minimum. According to her and from what I recall, he seemed mainly focused on doing two things. First, he seemed to be more focused on experiencing my body, especially in terms of movement and flexibility. He stretched my body quite a bit, as well as folding it into unusual positions. Second, he charged both of my dragon statues with draconic energy. He used breath work to do the charging, which makes sense to me.

My experience with this possession was a very primal one, but one where I was present on a minimal level. When I do full invocation I never remember the experience afterward, but in this case Dragon wanted me to witness what he was doing and to be a part of it, albeit in a non-controlling manner.

I was also told that I'd need to get a tattoo on my upper left arm of a Red and Orange Dragon by my birthday. That makes two tattoos I need to get to mark significant magical works. I have no doubt a way will be found. On a different note, it was interesting to apply a different body paint this time around. I let Dragon guide me, and it makes sense that the pattern would bring out primal energy this time around.

A reflection on God of War

I've been playing God of War 1 and 2 in preparation for the release of God of War 3, out later this month. There are two elements of this game that always stand out to me. First, just how much the game draws from the cheesy 1970's movies. Even the monsters look like claymation, which I personally think is cool. Having watched those movies when I grew up, I have a fine pop culture appreciation of what GOW is based off of. But the other element that always stand out to me is what I consider to be the extremely accurate depiction of the capricious nature of the Greek gods. If you read the myths about the gods, they as often punish as they reward and even the gifts they give are ultimately double-edged. For me, a game such as GOW is an opportunity to retell and reconnect with such beings.

And that is really the power of contemporary technology. It provides us new ways to connect with old paradigms, and at the same time births something new, which comes to be as evocative as what had already been there. It's not that GOW is a better version of the Greek myths (far from it) but rather a reinterpretation, with a new kind of interaction provided as well. And there can be something magic in that...all depends on the perspective you bring to it.

One reason Why I don't worship gods

I was playing Assassin's Creed 2 recently and there was a point in the game, where the protagonist makes a brief speech that really resonated with me. He said the famous line of the assassins: "Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted", but then went on to tell the people that it was more important to find your own truth than to follow someone else and that too many people allowed themselves to the follow the truth of someone else, instead of choosing to discover their own truths. He noted that you could learn from other people, but that ultimately in the end you had to discover your own truth and walk your own path. And that...that really resonates with me. And it always has. I remember when I was a teenager and for a brief time, a born again Christian, that the pastor of the church I attended saw I read fantasy books and told me that those books were sinful and that the content was only about sinful things. And I remember thinking how limited that perspective was, and how I couldn't endorse believing in a god that was so narrow and limited, and I realized that at some point I wouldn't be a Christian, because being one was antithetical to who I am: A person who is full of curiosity and who wants to walk his own path, instead of following someone else. I realized I could not follow the path of the Christian God, because it wasn't my path or truth, and it never would be.

Little wonder then when I discovered magic was real that I also found, for myself, the beginning of the path I walk to this day, one where I ask the question and find the answers, where ultimately it is up to me to save myself, as opposed to having someone else die for my supposed sins.

And my encounters with Pagans who have, in their own way, expressed a similar fanaticism, a belief that there is a one true way (tm) and that the god(s) are the purveyors of that truth only convinces me further that following the path of another ultimately, for me, leads to a place that isn't my truth. It may be the truth of those other people, but I find that when you hand over your authority to another being and let that being dictate your choices, at that point you also give away your truth and allow it to be subsumed to the truth of another being.

I can work with a god. I can respect it, but I just can't worship it. Some will call that pride. It is a fundamental recognition that nothing is true and everything is permitted and if that is the case, then it is permitted for me to walk my own path and find my own truth and be responsible for it. And there are consequences for making that choice, but there is also freedom and knowing in the end that I am walking my path, pursuing my truth and that when I encounter the gods or other beings they are guides with information that represents a perspective to help me appreciate the journey I am on, but that is all they need to be for me, and I can give them respect for that.

And to be fair, I do recognize that for many people having a relationship where they worship a god or gods is the truth that works for them and is meaningful to them...and so long as they can do that in a way where it doesn't negatively impact others, I wish them the best on their journey to their respective truths, but I see so much harm committed in the name of deities, in the choice to follow what someone else says. I see it, and I cannot help but think that if these people chose to be fully responsible for themselves, to stop following the words written in a book, or told to them by some person or entity, but instead to question everything and to choose their actions carefully because they could recognize that they and they alone were responsible for their actions, that perhaps they wouldn't be so inclined to harm others just to prove how much they worship a god or how well they follow the path another provides them.

Addendum to my post about the limitation of gods

Later in the epilogue one of the protagonists is told that Ahriman is pursuing them because he still needs to tell Ahriman his wish. He says he doesn't want anything Ahriman offers and Ahriman is astonished. And the key point to that...Any relationship is defined by the choices you make. A god only has power over you when you give that god power over you. Before then a god could suggest, tempt, etc., but in the end it is the choice of both parties to create a context for a relationship. It's another point worth considering when it comes to deities, and for that matter relationships in general.

Some thoughts on the limitations of gods

Warning...this post will likely be considered blasphemous if you are of the school of thought deities are all powerful, all knowing, and therefor infallible. That said, let's move on to the content... I recently finished the new Prince of Persia game and have been playing the downloadable add-on epilogue adventure and in both the main game and the epilogue there is a very interesting point raised about the power and intelligence of a deity. At one point, in the main game, one of the protagonist's wishes that there was an army helping them fight Ahriman, and the other protagonist says it's actually better that it's two of them, because an army of people would be more dangerous because they could be tempted by Ahriman. In fact, she goes on to explain that the real danger is that peopel would be tempted by Ahriman. Yes, this deity could tempt them, but the fact is, the choice is ultimately the person's and that makes that person very dangerous. Ahriman, in this game is simply the god of Darkness. In some ways he has less individuality and less choice than the humans he could tempt. He's dangerous, but his danger is limited by the context of the function he serves by being a god of darkness.

In the epilogue, the characters face a monster that Ahriman creates, and both note the lack of originality and the one character says that Ahriman is still weak and so is using forms he is familiar with, when creating monsters out of the corruption. But it also brings up an interesting question about the creativity or lack thereof that Ahriman displays. Ahriman is limited to some degree by the very role he has as a god of darkness and so what he can do is also accordingly limited.

In the Buddhist conceptions of deity, the gods, despite being powerful within the function that they fulfill, are less powerful than humans because they are defined by that function and even defined by the way humans relate to them. In the past, it has been pointed out to me that deities can grow and develop as a result of the relationship that they have with people, and I agree that this is true, but it is actually because of that relationship that they can grow and evolve...that the function of what they do can change. A god of darkness is kind of old hat in contemporary culture...but a god of darkness and several other functions is a god that has adapted to the times as a result of its interaction with people.

I think that there are some spiritual seekers that are too eager to give all power to the gods, while divesting themselves of the responsibility for their actions by saying: "My god made me do it." Undoubtedly they would look at what I wrote above and say I was being blasphemous to the spirits, that I would be punished for my affront by describing gods as beings that may not be all powerful and may in fact be defined and shaped by the relationships they have with humans and other beings. Yet, the simple fact of the matter is that everything is defined by relationships. A human being is definitely not all powerful...s/he has to live on a planet with a breathable atmosphere and other forms of live in order to sustain his/her own life...and that's just survival on the physical level. The emotional, mental, and yes spiritual level also necessitates relationships of some kind in order for a person to survive and indeed thrive.

Why wouldn't this principle apply to gods? In fact, I don't think gods are all powerful and I think they are limited by the function of what they do and how that is defined in the relationships they have with others. I think that when people put gods on a pedestal, they are divesting themselves of responsibility for their own actions, or using that god to justify their own attempts to have power over other people. This isn't to say that a relationship where a person feels subservient to a god isn't spiritual or right for that person...for clearly that can be a relationship that person needs. Nor is it wrong to feel a sense of awe or humbleness in working with a deity...but such relationships will ideally not involve abdication of responsibility. Rather, ideally the god will challenge the person to grow and use the spiritual lessons to help that person fully understand the nature of the service s/he has entered into in choosing to work with or worship that god.

All the same, I don't think treating a god as all powerful or all knowing is a wise idea. Recognize it's power and knowledge, but also recognize your own. Recognize the context of the relationship in order to better appreciate that relationship and learn and grow from it, while also helping the other end learn and grow as well.

In Loco Dei: Pathology in Western Magic

By Vince Stevens In dealing with Modern Western Magic, I and those I work with often find consistent patterns of pathology in Western Magical culture:

  • Tendencies to arrogance and self-obsession among magicians.
  • An inordinate focus on rebellion, rebelliousness, and distance from the dominant - or any culture.
  • An unusual distance from people, processes, nature, and the world at large - a distinct sense of separation.  Magic is push-button, and people, cultures, nature, and even magic are seen as something mechanical, easily boiled down to a fw traits.

These pathologies often trouble I and those I work with in magic.  As magical pratcitioners, as much as we enjoy the activity, the pathologies in Western Magical culture prevent barriers.  Simply, when one joins a group, a list, go to an event, you worry you're going to run into what are lovingly called "the nuts" (and less lovingly called many other things.

I find no reason to think these pathologies are universal to magical and mystical practitioners.  A quick examination of practitioners of magical arts and their legends in different cultures reveals a variety of different kinds of personalities, virtues, vices, and practices.  One can find alchohol-fueled shamans, serene Buddist monks with occult abilities, compassionate Taoist sage-Immortals, and more.  There is no reason to assume the pathologies of Western Magic are universal to magical practitioners, or even have any particular utility.

Looking at these pathologies, I felt they would be best addressed.  So in my small effort to make a contribution to understanding these issues, I decided to ask - just where did these pathologies come from?  Perhaps by understanding these issues, I could do some good.

So, I started at the top.

ARROGANCE: The Christian God.

Christianity was the dominant religion of the West for centuries, and is an odd religion in many ways.  It proposes an omnipotent and omniscient deity of ultimate power that still possesses identifiable human traits of anger, love, and so forth.  Its central deity, despite his great power, allows evil and suffering to exist due to a rebellious minion, later explained as an issue of free will - which one would figure that an omnipotent being could deal with such an issue.  Attempts had to be made to reconcile a rather cruel tribal (Old Testament) deity with a later loving deity, leaving one with a loving being manipulating a messed up world and eventually condoning eternal torment for people for what would be frankly trivial actions.

The Christian God was also a distant being.  His creation was a possession of his own, as were the sentients within it.  He would regularly send disasters, plagues, and so forth upon people and countries, theological weapons of mass destruction.  He had no connection to his creation except as something separate.

However, despite his confusing nature, the Christian God was considered the leader in all things, and thus in many ways, could be taken as a role model.  His commandments were to be obeyed (even if they seemed to benefit those relaying said commandments).  His world was law, and his confusing traits were to be explained as mysteries or by theological acrobatics.

Magical practices of these times were thus limited by the strange issues of this deity: early Western-Christian magic seems to have split between "Natural Science" magic that worked with perceived neutral or divine forces, and a kind of religious magic where one used (or misused) the name of the Christian God, rituals, and so forth to achieve certain ends.  One worked within creation - or stepped into the rather large shoes of the Deity to call angels, coerce demons, and so forth.  There were exceptions (such as the mystical meditations of Honorius and of course the Cabalists.), but such two-sided magic seemed to predominate.

One never left the sphere of control of the Omnipowerful Christian God, but one could act like him.  And in this, I think the seeds of the pathologies of Western Magic were planted (as well as frankly pure social problems).  The first role model was an incomprehensible, erratic tyrant.

Of course, tyrants produce rebels . . .

REBELLION: Shout at the Devil Explaining the problems of the world in light of the hodge-podge of the Christian God proved rather difficult for people - a perfectly powerful, perfectly loving being was dealing with a supposedly imperfect creation.  Fortunately, theology provided a way with Satan, who can be thought of in many ways, but I think of him as a religious plot device.  A McGuffin with horns.

Satan is a figure somewhat less confusing than the Christian god, if only because he's somewhat simpler: a rebellious servant who decided to do his own thing and was, essentially, a professional pain-in-the neck.  You could always blame Satan.

Accusations of Satan Worship were common in Europe for hundreds of years - different sects of Christianity naturally assumed other sects were in league with the devil.  Satan was everywhere you weren't, and the explanation for all bad things.

Satan had two influences on Western Magic in my opinion: 1) First, Satan's influence on popular culture at the time led to plenty of stories of Satanism - and of course Satanic magic.  Faust may have been popular, but similar tales of deals with the devil popped up all over.  The idea of the magician as in league with dark, rebellious forces easily worked its way into popular consciousness, and affected people's expectations of magic.  Would-be magicians, frauds, novelists, and honest seekers were easily influenced - or were glad to influence others - with false grimoires and strange experiments. 2) Satan led to endless speculation, and of course, writing.  He was explored in Paradise lost.  He was written about.  He became a convenient dumping ground for people's fears.  Of course, as the human mind can't resist exploring, he was at times visualized as a hero, or turned into a counterforce to an evil false God with a nice injection of pseudo-Gnostic thought.  Perhaps the ultimate triumph of the idea of Satan were people who decided to actually go worship him, as others had been accused of doing.

However, Satan really wasn't much of a role model, except perhaps for the bacchanalian rebellion he provided against straight-laced society.  He was childishly (and suicidally) rebellious, destructive and lashing out against creation, and in general, a jerk.  He was a mirror-image to the Christian God, and he lived up to it, adding only one new trait: rebellion.

Thus the Western Magician was caught between an arrogant and bizarre god, and a romanticized but destructive rebel.  Magic itself was part of a system that usually involved coercion of beings (and a helping of whatever old pre-Christian rituals could be adapted).

DISTANCE: Blinded by Science As Western Society moved into its scientific age, a more enlightened time, the scientist took his well-deserved place in culture.  New discoveries, rational exploration, and intelligent thought became important to culture.  It's no small feat to say science is something we owe much to in Western society.

However, science still grew up in the culture of the West, and it inherited some of the pathologies.  Science could justify tribalistic identity with "scientifically justified" racism.  Science was seen as liberating us from creation and controlling it - much as the deity had.

Science in Western society, for all its gains, postulated humans distant from creation, controlling it, dominating it.  Despite evolution's reminder of our origins, people were still distant and controlling - just as the Christian God had been.  I will be fully straightforward in my biases - I think a lot of modern Western science hasn't yet transcended its cultural biases.

Unfortunately those biases came from the Western Christian concepts - and people were still following in the footsteps of the Christian God (and in a few cases, Satan's cloven hoofprints).

Science was in a way a boon to Western Magic - bringing in psychology, scientific metaphor, and cultural study.  I'd say in fact Western Magic greatly benefited from science.

However the distance rarely seemed to go away.  I've seen magic boiled down to pure, materialist psychology, fears of "scientificizing" or "psychologicizing" magic, and so on.  Magic, I think, has often suffered self-esteem issues in the West, and thus compensates not by doing its own thing, but by trying to be more like science.  There's a point when if you start being something else, you stop being what you are.

THE SUMMARY Western Magic, though making many leaps in the last decades (or century), still has its pathologies as mentioned in the introduction: Arrogance, Rebellion, and Distance.  The role models of Western culture (acknowledged and not), leave us with these traits.

However acknowledging the past lets us cope with it - and magic is after all transformational.  By acknowleding that Western Magic hasn't always had the best role models (and survived despite that), we can go about developing the future.

Different perspectives on Deity

While I've written extensively about my relationship with deity and the concept of service from a Buddhist perspective on this blog, it's not the only perspective I have about deity or how deities interact in our lives. Over the last sixteen years I've come up with a variety of different perspectives all of which are equally valid and true for my approach to deity. Perspective 1: The Buddhist/Taylor perspective - Gods are powerful, but also slaves to their power. They may have people who worship them, but ultimately the lessons the provide those people are focused on getting those people to grow past needing gods, so that the gods can stop being diety and ascend to Nirvana. As long as one person worships the gods, the gods are still enslaved to their power because that power is derived from the belief of that person. To westerners, this is a fairly blasphemous approach. It argues that any god, no matter how powerful, is ultimately a servant to the human's journey to reach nirvana. I personally find it appealing because it is such a different approach to the evangelical fundamentalist orthodoxy found in extreme versions of Christianity, and to a degree even in some pagan beliefs. I also think it's a useful exercise to implement this perspective sometimes in terms of viewing the gods in a way that is decidely foreign from how many of us in the West may be encultured to perceive them. Instead of viewing a deity as an omnipotent being who we have to obey or else suffer hideous consequences (whether it's hell for the Christian version, or some kind of curse according to different pagan versions), it can be useful to consider that a deity is actually there to teach us by the example it provides of being a slave to its own power, and to the attachment that the power can represent.

Perspective Two: Chaos Magic/Taylor Perspective - Deities, spirits, demons, etc., are psychological archetypes and imprints. They symbolically represent deep structures within us. We use the symbols to access those deep structures. I tend to favor this perspective the least. I find it useful in terms of reaching some of those deep concepts as well for entity creations, but I also think it's a perspective which all too easily leads to a solipsistic perspective of the universe.

Perspective Three: Derived from Fantasy books by Feist and Eddings/Taylor Perspective: Gods, demons, etc are beings we have relationships with. As we evolve and grow in those relationships, so too do the gods, spirits, etc grow. We are interconnected and need each other to help each other evolve. I've seen this perspective argued in fantasy books more so than anywhere else, but I actually tend to think there's some truth to the arguments. The gods fulfill certain roles, but also grow as times change, and humans grow by having a relationship with deities, where the deities challenge the humans. Both humans deities give something to each other by the relationship that is had.

Those are the three main perspectives I have when it comes to deities...one and three are more prevalent than two...I don't really see a need to pick one perspective, because I think all three can be relevent at a given moment.

Deity, service, bargains, needs, etc.

A while back I posted a few posts about deity and service The first one is here.

The second one is here.

The third one is here.

As I woke this morning I thought back to a situation where I could have potentially dedicated myself to a deity. I'm glad I didn't, because the truth is I'd make a horrible dedicant to a deity. I'm very casual about my relationships with any deity. I put the occasional offering out, but when it comes down to it, for me any relationship I have with a deity is ultimately not about service to the deity or its various fellow worshippers or the tasks it wants me to do. For me it's about the bargain. It's what can I do for you that will get you to do something for me. Or it's about forging a relationship of mutual benefit and friendship.

The role of priest or priestess isn't a role that fits me. While I can respect that people are called to that role, I couldn't ever see myself serving a deity in that way. Likewise I find the concept of being a god-slave unworkable for myself. I recognize that it might fulfill the needs someone else has to be in that role, but for me, it could never work and there's a fairly simple reason for that.

I'm blasphemous. I'd always question and challenge the god. When I was a Christian, long ago, I was always dissatisfied with the idea that I had to submit to some nebulous force that had all the answers and was willing to let people suffer in order to prove themselves to it. The comic Preacher, to me, represents the most accurate depiction of the Christian god, a cruel tyrant who seeks to force others to love him because he is fundamentally unable to deal with his own sense of fear and loneliness...so he creates a permanent co-dependent relationship with humanity, in order to get them to love him, while also tormenting them. I could never understand why a god would want unquestioning obedience and so if I couldn't give that to the Christian god, why would I give it to another god?

The posts I wrote above reflect that as well as my own beliefs about the gods. I agree with the Buddhist conception of deities, which is that they are ultimately enslaved and attached to their own power and consequently can't operate outside of what they represent. They becomes filters and doorways to access deep concepts, but in doing that they are also can't evolve or become anything else...unless of course they have interaction with human beings. By being served by humans they get access to experiences they might not otherwise have. For example, Invoke a god and what you do is provide a gatway to yourself, access to your energy and experiences. Of course you get access to that deity's energy as well and that can be useful for some people, but there's always a price. I've seen that price paid and the effect it's had on the people paying it, and I'm not sure the price is worth any power received.

I prefer bargaining to service, because service is ultimately submission. There is no guarantee you will get anything for your service, but with a bargain there are set conditions. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm a friend to a deity or demon...some people have argued that they prefer to create relationships with such beings that are friendly, but there's a question they don't ask, which is whether or not the deity/demon even comprehends the concept of friendship, or if it does, have they considered that the deity/demon might have an entirely different concept of friendship than what you have? They might think of you as a cat or a dog for instance.

So I go with bargaining. If I want something and I find I can't accomplish it through my own resources I find a being who can accomplish it, and we talk. What does it want in return for accomplishing something specific for me? In Purson's case, he wants a dedication to him in my next book on space/tiem magic and his sigil on the cover of my solo occult books. Fair enough, I can do that. I'm happy to give him credit where credit is due.

In the last nine months I've been working with Babalon. In fact, the situation I was reflecting on today was a possible dedication to her. Working with her has been challenging. She definitely demands a lot when you work with her. Last October when she made it very apparent that I would be working with her for a year in my element of love balancing work, she told me it would get harder before it got easier and it did get harder before it got easier. Even now as this working is descending into the final three months there are definite challenges she has for me. I wouldn't have it any other way. She told me she'd be my guide for the year long love working, that she'd help me get balanced about love. And she is. At one point I did dedicate myself to her, but in a moment of clarity I realized I hadn't dedicated myself to her, for her sake or my own, but someone else's, and she agreed that such a dedication wasn't something that she wanted. She is still with me for the next three months, perhaps even beyond, guiding me in my journey about love...and her price for it is not service to her or tasks to be done, but rather simply to know that I will continue doing the work for the course of this year and beyond to keep myself balanced in love and to really understand how to manifest love for myself and to others. I can live with that...and it occurs to me that a deity with that understanding of me is a deity I can respect because that deity isn't necessarily out to have my service, but does want some kind of understanding to exist.

In fact, my experience with babalon shows me that experiences with deities are subjective and end up occurring at exactly the level that is needed for a person. While one person may very well need to be a god-slave to a god, another person may just need a guide for a year. And yes it does boil down to need. I think a very important question any person needs to ask about serving a deity is: What need within myself does this service fulfill? There is always a need being fulfilled. Certainly working with babalon is fulfilling some deep needs within myself...needs that are becoming balanced. Could I have fulfilled those needs without working with her? Perhaps, but I believe it would've taken a very long time, whereas working with Babalon brought the situation into detailed focus. And so perhaps those people that seem to pay a price in my eyes, aren't really paying that price. They serve the deity in the way they do, and yet they get a need fulfilled, a need which they may or may not be conscious of, but yet if that need went unfulfilled...I think it comes down to an essential issue of identity, which is how much a person's needs define the interactions and experiences a person has, and who/what those experiences occur with.

I watch Lupa and her growing relationship with the spirits. We are definitely going on some different spiritual paths. Yet I also see that her spirit work is definitely fulfilling needs within her. It's helping her refine her path, serve other people, etc., but it's also meeting some needs within her. She seems more balanced to me as a result of doing the spirit work she's doing.

As for service...I think my own service is not to a particular deity or whatever concept it represents. My service ultimately goes to the communities I am part of, the people I interact with, the choice to help someone find his/her potential and realize it. That is my service...not to any one being or belief, but rather to the realization that we are all connected and so if we can help each other grow and realize the effect we have on this planet, on the other life forms on this planet, and on each other, we can choose to make that effect be beneficial instead of detrimental.

Re-Thinking and Re-Making Babalon into a Wealth Deity

I've been spending some thinking about my relationship to Babalon, both in relationship to the Elemental Love working I'm doing and also in where she fits or doesn't fit in the overall scheme of my life. And then this weekend I finished reading Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and I realized where Babalon fits into my life, and I had a better appreciation of the lessons she's teaching me in this year's working. In Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill discusses the necessity of mastering sexual energy in order to direct your creativity and imagination to manifest your goals of wealth. He incorporates a number of "occult" principles into his writing, which as an aside, I'm surprised more magicians haven't realized. In anycase, I began to think about Babalon and desire and the Strength card. It's true that Babalon is the sacred whore and the great mother, but it occurs to me that's much more than that. She represents desire, but in the Strength card, she also represents the ability to find inner strength to harness those desires. She holds a cup up, but is it really a cup of abominations? Or is it a cup of wealth, a realization of success in managing the internal desires to manifest the desired result?

One of my own recent realizations has been that I have to be strong for myself. This means I have to choose to master my desires in order to manifest the reality I desire to live in. While giving into my desires can lead to pleasure in the short, in the long term mastering my desires can lead me to achieving my goals. Upon some meditation and reflection, I decided that Babalon is my wealth deity. She can and has inspired me to master my desires so that I can manifest my goals. I put the bottle of red wine and the Strength Candle on the wealth shrine altar. I placed the sacred blade of desire on the altar as well.

Wealth is really about mastering yourself enough to know what you want and how to use all of your resources to achieve it. It's about finding the necessary strength to focus yourself on what really matters to you as well as tempering yourself so that while you acknowledge and enjoy your desires, you also use them to propel you to greater heights. Babalon embodies this concept by riding and directing the beast of desire, while holding up the cup of wealth to show the results of mastering the beast. She also embodies success, in and of herself, because she shows that success does involve being prepared to make sacrifices right up to and including your ego, in order to be transformed in your understanding of what you are giving to her and receiving from her. The success that comes from that is an internal success in terms of knowing and mastering your desires and external success in channeling the resultant discipline into what you want to accomplish.

Following Napoleon Hill's advice, I've decided to create a council I'd meet in a meditative state. Naturally Babalon is one of people on the council, as is Napoleon Hill, my wife Lupa, and other people/entities that are useful for the wealth work I'm currently working on in my life.

A Deharan Caste Ascension

While I was at Pantheacon, I had the opportunity to perform a Caste ascension in the Deharan system of magic. A caste ascension is essentially both an acknowledgement that a practitioner has reached a point in the current caste where they've learned what they need to learn, and also a method of strengthening the energetic body of the person so that s/he can work with the exercises in the next caste. The Caste Ascension I performed was the first one I ever did in this system, so it was a new experience, but based on my own previous experiences in Dehara, plus some guidance from the Dehar Miyacala, I had a fairly good idea of what to do. The Har I performed the ascension on is named Poison and s/he was kind enough to share har own experiences, which I'll link to at the bottom of this post.

In the hotel room, I briefly explained what I intended to do and made sure Poison was comfortable with it. I then did the calling of the Dehara to each quarter, with a final call to the Aghama in the center. Once we had the circle established, I invoked Miyacala into me and asked the Dehar to guide me as I did the ascension ritual. 

Miyacala asked Poison if s/he was ready for the ascension and s/he nodded.  Miyacala then described what Neoma meant, namely that Neoma is the shield, protecting others, but also providing protection for the self. As an aside, I tend to think of Neoma also as recognizing the need to establish boundaries both within the self and with interactions with others, in order to protect all involved. Miyacala asked Poison wanted to take from har studies, what goals s/he had, etc. Poison's answer (which you can read in the link) seemed to satisfy Miyacala. Miyacala stepped forward and ttraced the symbol of Neoma on Poison's forehead, while vocalizing it. The agmara or energy of Poison began to shift, changing to the color of Neoma. Poison told me later that s/he felt hotflashes while this occurred.

Once Miyacala had finished raising Poison's Agmara to Neoma, he left me. I proceeded to close the circle down, while thanking the Dehara. Poison and I talked for a bit, and then later chatted with hir partner and my own partner.

I found the ascension ritual to be a very powerful experience. Even when Miyacala was invoked, I still felt present in my body, but I let har direct my movements and do what s/he needed to do to perform the ascension ritual.

On another note, It was really fantastic to work with someone in this system, in person. Until now, the majority of my workings were done online, except for when I worked with Maryam on several occasions.

For people who are interested in reading Poison's account, Go to here: http://poison-hara.livejournal.com/4169.html

Transformation and re-dedication

A week and a half ago I got interviewed by Leisa Refalo for tarot connections. She and I happen to live in the same city, so she was game for doing the interview in person. Because the majority of my work with Tarot is practical magic oriented as opposed to divination, she was curious as to how I could demonstrate some of my work. I won't ruin it for my readers, because we discuss what I did in the interview she and I had. However what really interested me was that before we did the interview, she gave Lupa and I a white candle with the Strength card displayed, saying she had a feeling we needed it. The Strength card is also the Lust card, depending on the deck and portrays Babalon riding the Sacred Beast. I found this relevent because I'm working with Babalon for the course of a year in my elemental balancing work and because I had also dedicated myself to her.

In the course of the interview I did my magical working with the cards and the final card I picked as an outcome for the working I was doing was the Transmutation card, or transformation. This card was important because it signaled a transformation of my relationship with certain aspects of my life. I'm not going to go into detail about those transformations, as they are of a highly personal nature.

Tonight when I go home, I will be buying several bottles of red wine. One will be for a friend, but one will be for the lady in red. I will light the flame of the blessed candle. I will take my blade, with the hilt of the beast and pass it above the flame, as I call her. I will paint a picture and use the smoke of the candle to purify and bless the picture. I will take the bottle of red wine and pour some into a cup, with a bit of blood and cum to go in as well to flavor it with my essence. I will commune and re-dedicate myself to her.

Her hand is on my shoulder. We will keep walking and talking with each other, just as we had before, but in a different vein. There's so much she can teach me and she is still my guide for this year's elemental love working, but also for beyond. We are transformed, now we continue the journey of refinement.

Dancing with Dehara

In the late nineties, I picked up the original Wraeththu series and had my life changed by it. I knew right after I read it that I would meet Storm Constantine. I couldn't tell you why I knew (at that time), but I knew it had to happen. Shortly after, I did in fact make contact with her online and we started talking about magic and Wraeththu. I remember telling her that I felt called to meet her. Only later did I realize that Thiede, one of the characters of the series had facilitated that. Thiede is the Aghama, the central god head of the Wraeththu universe and also the master of space/time (and yes an inspiration for Space/Time Magic). It wasn't that surprising that he decided to reach out and tap us both to work together. He wanted something more than just a fantasy series from Storm. I worked with the Deharan system of magic for a few years...it was only when I moved to Seattle that the work slackened off. After moving to Portland though, I recently got pinged by Thiede..."Well what's keeping you from doing the work? I want you to start working through the caste systems in the first book and the get back to work on what I had you working on before".

Over the last couple of weeks, I've started integrating Dehara back into my life. I finished up the first two castes of Ara and Neoma and I'm about to do Byrnie again. I've felt as if some of the wheels in my head have been freshly cleaned and regreased by the work. And each time I've called the Dehara, I've felt their presence, sharp, strong. And I wonder how I could forget that.

Seems like Storm and other people have been pinged as well. It's as if a signal went off and everyone raised their heads, blinked at each other and got back to work. In my case, some very necessary internal work has had to occur, before I could go further with this particular system of magic.

A lot of my internal alchemy, sex magic, and space/time magic work  has been inspired by Wraeththu. The internal work I've been doing is reflective of some of the path work that goes into the first six castes of Dehara, which are very much focused on self-knowledge and recognition of how a person approaches reality. Once a person recognizes that, s/he also recognizes how the magical work done can effect reality. The magician is trained, in this system, to cultivate the internal in order to effect the external, while also appreciating that the external necessarily not only corresponds to the internal, but also effects how thei nternal responds...it's a cycle.

The other night I did a purification ritual, calling the Dehara into my own, purifying certain tools, rebuilding relationships with them and sharing breath...exchanging essence for essence. I'm dancing with the Dehara again. I'll be sure to post updates as the work continues.

Further thoughts on service and deities

In my post on magic sometimes being like a bad acid trip, one thing I discussed was how being in service to the gods really involved those gods being in service to us. Where that concept comes from is Buddhism and how that particular belief system views gods. It acknowledges that the gods have more power in certain ways than humans do, but that very power is what entraps those gods. Those gods are limited and defined by what that power represents. They are attached to those meanings and cannot detach so long as people call on them to access what those gods represent. The gods become interfaces of identity for people to work with. Those interfaces represent the deep structures, the nebulous concepts that people want to work with. The gods provide structure for accessing those deep structures. When a person serves a god of death, what are they really serving? Are they serving the actual god, or the concept of death as represented by that god, or the identity of death as given a face by that god? And why do they need to be in service to that god? In fact, such service from a Buddhist perspective is an attachment to that power, and yet such service can be liberating. By choosing to work with the deity and it's method of identification with the deep structure they really want to connect with, people are ultimately getting the deity to serve them.

The deity shapes those people who serve it, provides them experiences they need, and ultimately ends up freeing them of the very attachment that drove them to serve the deity in the first place. Why? Because the deity has served its function, has served the people that serve it. A diety cannot, in the end, not serve the people that come to it. The deity is bound to service by the very power it has, and by what it represents. So long as people call on the deity, the deity cannot be free of the service or the power it has taken on. It is not free of the attachment to meaning, to the deep structure that people give it. The deity serves those people, even as it demands service. It's very demand of service is calculated to give those people the experiences they need to have in order to grow. They serve their deities with devotion and lose themselves in that devotion and so come to understand what it was they were really seeking. Liberation results when that understanding is achieved. At that point, the person can decide if s/he really needs to be attached anymore to that concept. The deity's work/service for that person is done when that occurs.

A deity cannot be free of it's own service, it's own power until people no longer need it. The very power it has creates obligation. Like a king who ascends the throne, the deity can never resign or abdicate it's responsibilities. The king is always on duty, always on task. The king has power, but that very power binds him to the people, even when it doesn't seem like it does. The same is true for the diety. It has power. It can compel people, it can control them, but it is also controlled by its own service. The most powerful diety has less freedom than the most powerless person because the deity is defined by the domain of influence and meaning it represents. It can never not be that.

This brings into question some intriguing concepts of identity as it applies to deity and to people. What is the role of meaning within identity? How is a person's identity shaped by the attachments and meanings s/he takes on in life? What kind of service or obligation does this create and how is magic used to either enforce or free one from those meanings and attachments? What is the role of deity in the identity of a person?

These are some of the ideas I am pondering and working through in my own life and naturally, I'll be expanding upon this a lot more in the books I write, but this is something for all of you to chew on in the meantime.

"Sometimes Magic is like a Bad Acid Trip"

"Sometimes magic is like a bad acid trip" solis93 said to me yesterday as we were talking on the phone about editing, Hermeticism, and magic in general. Yes, yes in fact magic as a spiritual path, as a mystic path, is sometimes like a bad acid trip. I'm not talking about service to any gods here either. I know some people believe that's hard work, but what I'm talking about is a whole different ballgame, because in the end the Gods themselves will hold us back if they can. They have power, and yet they are, in the Eastern conception of them, bound by that very power, attached to what they represent, and what they mean, and so that power becomes weakness for them, because they can never move beyond what they are. They can never transcend the state they are in. Service to them, while useful, ultimately is designed to free people of them, because it exposes the limitations of the very power the gods have. Do I speak blasphemy to some of you? So be it. Blasphemy it may be, in the end, and yet we are all on journeys that are journeys for us to walk the path we walk and so the gods becomes tools, becomes servants to us, much like a king becomes a servant...He has power, but also obligation, and service...he is never free, he can never not be king. No one will let him retire. He has to die to free himself, and that death, while a transformation, nonetheless is the ending of any lessons he could learn. The same is true of the gods. Until they die, they are never free of the service. Even when they hold you in service to them, still they exist in a more profound slavery to you! For, in the end, unwittingly perhaps, or perhaps with conscious awareness, they are really instructing you on your path, providing you the means to move on...to transcend, to transform. And so even in service to them, you are ultimately in service to yourself, to the HGA, to the highest self, to omnil, 0 and 1, all things and none, Kia, nothingness and everything, that which is so profound about yourself that should you reach it, you will look back at the bad acid trip and laugh, because it was just a small step in a long journey. The gods serve you even as you serve them, like an infinity sign, bound together in a continuing cycle of suffering and desire...it will never end, unless you move further up the spiral, and yet to move up is to submit, to be destroyed and then created again, rising like the phoenix from the ashes, even as the ashes form the alchemical seed of transformation that moves you profoundly across the universe.

When I talk about magic, in this context, I'm not talking about just obtaining a result. I'm talking about doing the internal work, about doing service to yourself and others by doing this work. When I meditate and I delve inward, I'm on a path of discovery...not to destroy the ego, but to help the ego...not get rid of the self, but give the self different perspectives, free the self of the behaviors that hold the self back. This is work that is humbling because it shows you so much about yourself and the insignificance of it all. And yet in that insignificance is significance...0 and 1, The seed. And from the seed, and the roots, in the internal depths, arises the plant, the power, the path, the flowering of life, unfolding, revealing, creating the external to match the internal so that the internal can learn from the external...no dualism here...we all come together and we all fall apart. In the moment we experience identity, we experience every variation thereof and from that find profound patterns that reveals the secrets of no-thing.

The internal work is the highest test of the self, the test of your identity, your transcendence, that who you are. The methods we use to do that internal work, whether through meditation, through ceremonial magic, through any of it really, are all designed to teach us, to help us learn. But this no denial of the body, or desires, but rather an embrace of them, a coming to a healthy place with them, a recognition of where they fit within us, and how they teach us. To deny them is to provide more suffering than we had before...but to accept them, define boundaries for them, even as we submit, is to come to understanding.

Through understanding arises opportunity...growth...Eheieh

Arise