August 2016 Magical Experiments Podcast and Book Reviews

Copyright Taylor Ellwood 2016 Magical Experiments: Jail Breaking the Goddess with LaSara Firefox Allen

Magical Experiments: Pop Culture Magic Systems with Terra Akhert

Magical Experiments: Mental Illness and Magic pt 1 with Annwyn Avalon, Gigi and Chach M. Heart

Book Review: Quabalistic Concepts by William G. Gray

On the surface this book is about the Quabala and how to to learn and work with the Quabala. A deeper reading reveals that this book is really about how to develop a viable system of magic. The Quabala is used as an example, but the principles and practices that Gray shares in this book can be used for other models of magic. This is one of the best books I've read about magic, because it takes a technical look at what's involved in creating a system of magic as well as how you develop the necessary connections and work around the system. Whether you're looking to understand Quabala better or want to develop your own system of magic, this is a must read book. Note: The author does have some biases that will offend some people reading the book. Just recognize he was a product of his time and culture.

Book Review: Allies and Enemies: How the World Depends on Bacteria by Anne Maczulak

This was a fascinating book about bacteria, in the world, in the bodies of humans and animal,s and just in general. What I like about the book is that the author does a lot to explain how the world relies on bacteria. When you read the book you learn about how bacteria can be harmful, but also how it can be helpful and also how we set up some of the problems we experience with bacteria. If you want to learn more about bacteria, the author also includes some additional resources. I found this book very helpful for my own studies and research around how to work with bacteria and would recommend it to anyone who is curious to learn more about the role of bacteria in our lives.

Reminder for Pop Culture Grimoire 2.0 Call for Papers

Email for inquiries and submissionsTaylor Ellwood Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for The Pop Culture Grimoire 2.0.

This anthology explores pop culture magic and Paganism in the 21st Century. We invite you to share your pop culture magic practice, pop culture Pagan spirituality, and your experiments, spells, and other workings that have integrated pop culture into your spiritual practice.

Here are some suggested topics to give you an idea of the focus of this anthology:

  • What is pop culture magic?
  • What is pop culture Paganism?
  • Pop culture spells
  • Your experiences with a particular fandom
  • Magic at conventions
  • Cosplay magic
  • Social media magic
  • Blending older mythology with pop culture
  • Your experiences sharing pop culture magic
  • Video Game magic
  • Pop culture music and magic
  • Pop culture art and magic

Rough drafts are due March 15, 2015. These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editors. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it – we can discuss this during the editing process. Drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Essay requirements:

  • Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material • Bibliography of works cited • Prefer APA format

Write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely talks in the first person about your own experience, please include this also. There is a wide range of voices, and we are interested in being as inclusive of style as possible.

Accepted contributors will receive a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Taylor Ellwood and Emily Carlin.

Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magick, Magical Identity, and other books on magic. He is also the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. He can be found online at http://magicalexperiments.com

Emily Carlin, author of Defense Against The Dark, is a Wellesley grad, lawyer, geek and specialist in Seattle haunted lore.  She presents regularly at PantheaCon, and teaches defensive and shadow magick at http://www.shadowkrafting.com

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at http://www.immanion-press.com.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Movement Month 23: Closure

eros 8-23-14 My mom has arrived from PA and is visiting for the week. We picked her up last night from the airport and when we got back I caught up with her for a while. We ended up talking about some past history and I got some validation about some feelings I was working through. So did she. It helped me a bit with the funk I've been in. Though I actually figured out something else about that feeling of depression. It's not so much a feeling of depression as it's a recognition of the transition from movement to stillness. Stillness feels disquieting, weird, and off to me right now, and I think part of how I've dealt with that has involved translating it into a feeling of depression. There's other factors too, but it is part of what's going on. That's the challenge with doing this kind of elemental work...you change from one element to another and it shifts your energy and experience accordingly.

8-26-14 So much on my mind right now as I write this. I feel a different sense of appreciation for my mom than I've ever really felt before. Having become a step-parent, I have some sense of the commitment, sacrifice, and responsibility involved in being a parent and it makes me appreciate my mom in a way I never did before. I see a lot of the choices she made in a very different light now, and while there's still a couple decisions she made that I disagree with, I find myself recognizing her as a parent through some of my own challenges around being a step-parent.

Part of what I'm also feeling is some sadness about her leaving. She's not leaving for a few more days and Kat pointed out that I seem to be front loading my sadness before the actual event. The truth is that I've always done this since I was a little kid. I found I had to do it to prepare myself for leaving her. I would only see her every other holiday and for six weeks out of the summer. It was hard to leave her and I always had to prepare myself emotionally by front loading that grieving so that when I got back to my dad's I could distance myself from it. In some ways, I think it was expected in his household, for I remember only crying at night, in the privacy of my own room, knowing I shouldn't show such emotion anywhere else.

This visit, just like the previous visit from my dad, has shown me some deeper parts of my mom, helping me to see her more authentically as the person she is. I feel its all related to this current work I'm doing, transitioning from movement to stillness and finding balance with these respective energies. It's also an iterative process of contextualizing people in my life in such a way that it allows me to process and understand them better because of this internal work I'm doing. I find that by doing this work it helps me continue to understand and work through my relationships with those people, as well as the internal blockages that come up as a result. It also demonstrates, to me, how internal blockages can show up in relationships you have and thus need to be worked through in order to come to a better place with the other person.

8-27-14 I've been reflecting further on my relationship with my mom, while she's here. I realize that my cooking and cleaning skills as well as my awareness of when to chip in and help out at home really originates from her and what she taught me. I feel this deeper sense of appreciation for her as a result, because I feel I have certain skills I might not have had otherwise. Because of those skills, I'm able to help out around the house in a way that isn't typical when it comes to men. I hear many stories about men who don't help out, who expect their wives to do everything and its likely because they learned that from their mothers. My mom taught me to help out, taught me to recognize that where I'm living is something I need to invest in, with my own efforts. She taught me not to expect to be waited on and for that I am so grateful. I feel a lot of resentment falling away in light of this visit, because I'm appreciating her in a new light, appreciating how she set me up to be an adult.

8-29-14 Today my mom headed home. Yesterday we played a couple games of Sorry. Before that I opened up to her and asked her if she loved all of me. She's never agreed with some of my choices, but I'd internalized that as a rejection of me and hearing her tell me that she loves all of me made a difference. I feel that this visit with her and the visit I had with my dad showed me certain things about both of them that I needed to see, which I feel is relevant to this work I'm doing. As I continue this transition into stillness, the movement I'm engaged in nonetheless sets the stage for the stillness work so that I can go deeper, as well as even setting the stage for further work down the line.

9-5-14 I've been doing a lot of work around Geburah. This is definitely a sephiroth that can kick your butt because it represents the forces of judgement. In my encounters with the Seraphim and Khamael, I was called out by each in respect to some of my choices and what I tell myself about those choices. Such judgment isn't easy to face, but it can burn away what you tell yourself and I think that's really useful. The magician needs to be honest with themselves, and if that doesn't happen, it inevitably stops the progression of the work you are doing. I spent a lot of time with this sephiroth working with that current for that reason.

I also got a new tattoo or rather a revision to an old tattoo. I've been feeling like I'm transitioning from Movement to Stillness, and so I got a script on my right forearm, which says "From 1 to 0" which is really a channeling of that transition, but also a comment in its own way on my work with emptiness and identity. The work doesn't stop...it just evolves and continues to change, but it is still and iterative process that allows the person to refine themselves.

9-10-14. I've been working with Chesed lately, particularly with the Chasmalim, which have shown up and communicated via light frequencies. It's quite an odd experience, but one I've opened myself to, recognizing that it is also representative of going higher up the tree from reality to concept. The different light frequencies seem to inspire emotional and feeling related responses from me.

Something else I've been doing is paying close attention to how I label myself and my behavior in relationship to other people. For example, I've found that I label myself as not very personable and I ask myself where that label comes from and I find that it shows up in my interactions with people...but is it accurate or just self-fulfilling. I'm not sure, but in paying attention to such labels, it also provides me the opportunity to change them if I so desire or understand them better. I'll admit I tend to look at situations with other people in terms of function and do consequently find it harder to sometimes relate to people, but I also know that can be worked with if I choose.

9-12-14 Yesterday and today I encounter Tzadkiel in my meditations on Chesed. He noted that compassion and Mercy can actually be harder than judgment, because judgment enables us to punish ourselves, but compassion forces us to face and recognize the truth of our actions and their consequences. I really sat with that and found myself agreeing. You can feel compassion for someone or yourself, buy you nonetheless know what the person has done and that person knows you know as well. It seems kinder and gentler, but maybe it really isn't.

9-15-14 Something which has come up this year, or at least has made itself much more known to me is the travel anxiety I feel. It ended up coming out in a big way last night. I think I feel it so much more because I'm doing so much more of it, and while the travel is a good thing, there's also that feeling of ungroundedness and of course the concern as to whether I can keep up with all the demands and needs of my business efforts and other projects. Nonetheless the root of it is also found in the traveling I had to do as a child, when I'd fly back and forth between my parents. I need to come to grips with it, because I know I'll be doing more travel as I continue to reach out and connect with my target audiences.

I've also been thinking about how important it is to do your own thing and not worry about what other people think or do in response to what you are doing. There will always be that crowd of people you look in on and realize you don't belong with, but there will also be the people around you that accept you and know you and want to enjoy your company. It's important to appreciate what you have instead of lookingly longingly toward some perceived "cool kid" crowd, which likely has people feeling a similar way about some of the people you know or even you.

9-16-14 I've started work with Binah and the associated planet of Saturn. The interesting thing about Binah is that it seems to be where limitation begins in the Tree of Life. Or perhaps its better to say its where limitation is given birth to. So it's interesting to contemplate that and understand Binah from that perspective. I've also been thinking a bit more about how I label myself. I realize that I don't feel personable to most people and its because I go deep. I'm intense and that intensity is what drives my interactions. As a colleague observed earlier today, I tend to be business focused and objective. I'm ok with that because its who I am and how I function.

9-23-14 Work with Binah was fairly abstract. It gave me a lot to think about in regards to limitations and how limitations can be used in magical work. In one sense its really more about being aware of limits in your life and recognizing them for what they are, as well as what you invest in them. Beyond that, I'm getting ready for my first weekend intensive and I feel excited and nervous about it. I figure once you do something you make it part of your reality and that's finally happening with this one happening in Minneapolis.

How to recognize when desires or habits are connected to internal blockages

depression In a recent post I discussed how you could use meditation practices to work through internal blockages showing up in relationships you have with other people. On the S.O.M.A. Facebook group, several people commented on the entry and their comments sparked some further realizations about internal work. We discussed what happens when you're doing meditation work and the unhealthy patterns you are working to dissolve seem to flare up because of the work you are doing. There's two schools of thoughts on why that occurs. The first school of thought argues that the unhealthy habit is fighting back to keep itself in existence. There's certainly some truth to that school of thought and I think that a person can end up struggling with such habits and the underlying emotions if they aren't prepared for it to flare up.

The second school of thought offers an intriguing approach to this flare up of desire or unhealthy habits. It argues that when such flare-ups occurs its because you are actually making progress, and what initially seems like a regression is really just an opportunity to work more intensely with the habit or desire you are feeling. In my own experiences, I've found that this can be the case. You are doing the internal work, dissolving the internal blockage, and as a result you are freeing up all the tension and emotions bound into that blockage. The release of that tension and emotion can be accompanied by memories or by desires, which can be seen in this case as an attachment. If they are indulged in, potentially what happens is that the blockage reforms, but if you are willing to do the work, be present with the memories, and enter into a dialogue that allows you to work with what's being released, then the regression ends up being temporary.

When I've done internal work around specific issues, I've had those issues seem to take over my life, occupying my thoughts. However by accepting that as an indicator that the work is actually happening, it's also helped me recognize and understand that such a preoccupation can actually be a healthy sign that something is happening. You aren't repressing the thought or emotion any longer. The challenge is to learn to be present with it, which means that you acknowledge it, but don't act on it. This is hard to do for many people, because we live in a society that values action, but if you recognize that the choice to be present with what you feel or think is a form of action, what you'll realize is that simply being present with it is allowing you to do something about it. Indeed being present with whatever is coming up teaches you how to understand it and experience it without letting it consume you, which is a useful skill to learn for any situation you find yourself.

Meditation isn't a quick fix for internal work. It's a long process that can take years, but the results that can it provide you, if you stay the course is that you get a lot of clarity about yourself, you work through whatever issues are part of you and you learn how to direct your internal energy. When you are doing meditation to work through internal issues I recommend working with a therapist as well, because you can get some perspective from a person who isn't directly involved and who nonetheless can keep you grounded by asking questions and listening to what you are working through. If nothing else, make sure the people in your life know what you are working through. They can be a support system for you, helping you work through whatever is coming up, because they will hopefully understand what you are working through. Additionally by letting them in and discussing what you are working though, you may find that it takes a lot of pressure off you because someone else knows. In such cases, it is useful to ask the person to be present and listening and indicate whether or not you want advice. You may not want advice and if you tell the person you are talking with that, it will help them focus on listening instead of trying to problem solve.

Book Review: The Fruitful Darkness by Joan Halifax

This is a semi-autobiography that also explores Buddhist and Shamanic practices. I found it to be an insightful read, with many statements that caused me to pause and ponder them in relationship to my own life and spiritual practice. I especially liker the author's thoughts on stillness and silence, and found them quite useful to consider during a time when I'm in a period of transition. This is a book you'll read again and discover new insights each time.

Book Review: The Philosopher's Secret Fire by Patrick Harpur

This book takes the concepts Harpur discussed in Daimonic Reality and extends them further, exaining how the other world intersects with everyday reality through myth, imagination, dream, and even popular culture. He also explores the intersection of these themes with identity and how identity is formed for a person. Harpur does a good job with this book, showing how imagination impacts memory and identity, while also exploring Jung's archetypal theory in mythology. what I find interesting is how he shows how the otherworld interacts with people across cultures in a consistent way. It's an intriguing book that'll help you appreciate imagination and its intersection with the otherworld.

Month 11 Elemental Balancing Ritual Movement: Resistance

Eros 8-23-13 Today I meditated on some advice a student provided me and had a breakthrough of sorts in regards to some offerings I can make. It's a combined breakthrough because I'm also taking a class on how to market classes, and so it fit right in line with that...synchronicity aligning the information to crystallize possibilities into reality.

I've also been in a bit of a funk. Although that's likely been obvious. Working with the element of movement and working through this Pluto cycle is kicking my ass in good ways, but it doesn't mean it's always fun (is it ever fun to get your ass kicked?) Still all this work, all these realizations, all of it is something that can be faced. Admiral Stockdale said "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality." The choice to be persistent while facing the realities of a given situation is a trait that is worth cultivating because its what helps you survive and beat the odds. Doing internal work calls on you to face the brutal realities of yourself, but at the same time requires persistence to see the work through, because if you really do the work you will change, and how you change will more than likely make you a better person. It just won't seem like it when you're doing the actual work because you'll be facing particular issues you didn't want to face. Persistence will carry you through.

8-24-13 Today Kat and I were talking about my creativity and she said to me that my current creativity wasn't just a period of time, but that it would be with me for the rest of my life...that she'd make sure I had the necessary support and space to continue doing the creative work I've been doing. It meant a lot to hear that...to really let it sink in that my current creative period doesn't have to end or stop. Having support like that is so important to me, so essential to my well-being and sense of satisfaction.

8-27-13 Maryhill was an interesting adventure. The museum was kind of bizarre because there was no specific theme to it. You had art, royal jewels, dolls, etc...Perhaps what was most interesting to me was how the place felt. There was this one room full of Christian icons that made me feel nauseous. It did not like non-believers. And there was another room where there were six corridors spreading out from a hub. It was disorienting whenever I came out of one of those corridors. I'm not sure I'd go back, but I liked having the adventure just for the sake of doing it.

8-29-13 One of my fears as an author and publisher is that my work is irrelevant. Sounds odd, doesn't it? But in all honesty I think every artist, musician, author, etc., has that fear. I'm just being honest about it. I was going through my meditations today and Eros suggested that before I continue, I should stop and write about what I'm feeling around this issue, so here I am. I've stopped myself from writing about it before, because I don't want to be labeled as a drama queen or or a conspiracy nut for noting how irrelevant I feel sometimes in the occult world, but what the hell...why not? Will anyone notice or care anyway? Perhaps some critic or hater of mine who will take joy out of my admission of feeling irrelevant. I do feel irrelevant sometimes. What I do doesn't quite fit in any particular schema of the Pagan Occult world, which then makes it hard to determine if there is relevance in my work. I was recently told by the publisher of a magazine that the interview I'd done for that magazine was going to be pushed back because my interview doesn't fit any of the forthcoming themes of the magazine. She wants to publish it, but she isn't sure were it fits because what I talk about is so different. I expressed understanding, but some part of me feels crushed. Is what I do really so different that it can't be placed within an issue?

And then I look at other authors who get a fair amount of publicity on a regular basis and I feel a bit envious of them. They'll get quoted about their take on magic on well known Pagan media blogs, and me...not at all. Is what I write just not that interesting? Maybe. I know I'll keep writing it anyway because there is an audience there...a slowly emerging audience, but one that nonetheless is there. I'll be persistent, because persistence wins out. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I want my writing to be relevant. I want it to mean something to other people beyond me. I want it to be something that people notice. I didn't write any of my books just to write. I write them because I have a message to convey to people. And I don't think its egotistical to want to be relevant, to want to know that the message has some meaning to someone besides myself.

I know that my writing doesn't necessarily fit conventional themes of Paganism or occultism. I don't know that it ever will. I'm not interested in commenting on the Golden Dawn or some magical tradition. And I don't feel that should be the measuring stick of what makes something relevant. But sometimes it seems like what is relevant is what's already established. If it's old we like it, and if its new, forget it.

Well enough of my pity party. Yes I feel irrelevant in this moment, and it sucks. But I'm not going to let it keep me down, because regardless of how relevant I am or am not, I've got work to do and things I want to share and someone's bound to come across all this and find it meaningful, but only if I keep putting it out there.

9-1-13 Today we drove to the Ape Caves in Washington. On the way there I was reading Wonders of the Natural Mind by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, where he discusses the three layers of reality. Afterwards I meditated and Eros came to visit and discussed movement in relationship to the three layers of reality. He explained movement as a principle of reality and how changes made on one level needed to be factored into the other levels as well. He used an example of a magical working I'm currently doing to demonstrate all of the factors that needed to be considered and how movement as a principle could be applied to consider those factors. It's something that I'm going to do more meditating on. I understood it in one sense and in another sense, I know that I don't quite get it. Nonetheless  it intrigues me because of how movement is explored as a principle of magic, and really of change.

9-6-2013 Further meditations on movement have been in the same as what I mentioned in the entry just above this one. I "see" how everything that is part of the movement fits together and causes the movement to happen. It makes me appreciate that there are a variety of factors with movement of any type that may not be considered, but nonetheless are relevant to making movement occur. This seems to be true with physical movement, but also the movement of events, ideas, magic, what have you. A recognition of these factors is useful for fully connecting with what is being moved, and being able to move it toward the result you want to manifest. I'm sure continued meditation and work with the element will provide more enlightenment on this topic.

9-9-2013 Further meditation on movement has involved examining a given situation, event, etc., and looking at the role of movement in that situation and event, specifically in terms of understanding how movement manifests in a given situation, why it manifests the way it does, and how it can be changed (if it can be changed). I was watching a video with Kat about networks of people. The guy in the video was talking about he studied a network of people over ten or twenty years to see how obesity could be linked to the network and it was fascinating to observe how the network moved and changed in regards to that variable. It made me see how movement can be such a subtle force in our lives, and yet how interconnected it is, and what is moved into our lives. What's really fascinating to consider is that the people you are connected to all have a degree of influence on your life that you may not even be aware of. When you're certain food or doing certain activities, it may in part be related to the people in your life and how they are influencing your actions.

9-13-13 I attended a presentation on Quantum Mechanics and Business. What I found interesting was how relevant it was to describing magic as a process. The presenter did a credible job of explaining the principles, specifically why you need to define an outcome and believe in the outcome in order to turn it from a possibility into a reality. He acknowledged there is more involved than just believing in the outcome, but the belief and having a defined outcome is essential, which makes sense to me.

9-16-13 I'm reading Good to Great, which is a business book that some useful insights for why businesses are great. One thing he notes is that great businesses focus on what they can be great at. It got me to thinking about my magical practice and what I'm great at. I figure I'm great at experimenting with magic, at taking a system or process or technique apart, and understanding it, and then personalizing it. That's what I like to do and its what I'm great at. And I actually like that as a realization. Yes, I don't fit any convenient occult or pagan label, but I know what I'm at and I'd rather be doing what I'm great at, than anything else.

I've also been meditating further with Eros on movement and today we focused on resistance and movement. He notes that resistance can indicate several different ideas to consider. Resistance can indicate you are going in the wrong direction or doing something that isn't working, but it can also indicate that you are coming up against some problems that you need to be aware of. Resistance can be useful because it helps you understand what is or isn't working with what you're doing or where you want to move to. He also pointed out that the pat to least resistance isn't always the best path, because resistance can make you aware of what movement isn't doing for you.

9-19-13 In today's meditation with Eros, he showed me my creativity and how it lights my brain up and moves me. I saw larger flashes of synaptic light in a field of lights, and could feel my mind move with those flashes. He also told me that when I let myself be creative, I'm really letting myself be open to being moved by my creativity. He's right. When I'm creative I am moved by what I'm creating. I flow with it and give p some degree of control to allow it to manifest. Maybe control is the resistance I've been dealing with...what holds me and keeps me back because I'm not opening myself up to the process to let it flow. In Make Magic of your Life by T. Thorn Coyle, she notes of Eros the following: "The souls' longing to return to a state of pure connection is directed by eros...Eros is the sexual impulse that moves the planets around the sun, draws the drop of water to the river, and - more important for the Greeks, draws the soul back to its source." I find that fascinating because my work with Eros and Movement is about connection, as much as anything else. What moves me? What do I move? How does movement play a role in my life? These are the questions I'm asking and answering through the work with the element of movement, and wen I see independent confirmation of this work it tells me I've tapped into something deeper than just the work I'm doing. I'm connecting with the heart of the universe and moving to its rhythm.

Why experimentation needs to be done carefully

lab coat Ivo Dominguez Jr recently posted an article on how approach experimentation. I found myself nodding in some agreement with his points, especially when says that the development of anything new should be extensively tested by yourself before sharing it with anyone else. I also disagreed with one point he made:

There is a lot of perfectly good material available that can simply be followed step-by-step and produce great results. We must not place novelty and innovation above what is known to be efficacious...New does not always mean better or for that matter safe or potent.

He's right there is a lot of magical work out there already established that works well. However even if it is efficacious we should never use that as an excuse not to experiment. If anything, we might ask: How could I take and personalize and improve on this technique? And it could be argued that doing so is just reinventing the wheel, but at least it is your wheel at the end of the day. With all that said, I think a magician needs a solid foundation before experimenting, which means making time to learn and practice what has been done until you understand how it works. After that, experiment with it, and start developing your own techniques.

Anything you experiment with should be tested extensively by yourself. Work with it, tinker with it, and really get to know the process you are developing. Once you've spent enough time doing it, then see if others are willing to try out the technique/ Get their input and share you experiences as well. Ivo says the same thing in his article and its sound advice. You can't effectively ask people to experiment with your technique until you know that technique and can share your experiences...at the same time, I wouldn't share the experiences until after the people try working with the technique. Let them have their experiences without having your subjective report in front of them. The reason is simple. If they know what you experienced, it may influence how they experience the technique. The point is to allow them to have their own experience and then share yours. The sharing allows you to verify your technique with their experiences and your own.

I do believe experimentation should be done carefully in the way you'd learn a technique you read in a book. You read about a technique and you carefully practice each step of the technique, with an eye toward understanding how it is affecting you. For example, when I learn a new meditation technique, I'll read about the technique. Then I'll do one step and once I feel I understand it, I'll do another step, etc. The same applies to experimentation. You put together a process and then you work with each step carefully, making sure you understand the process and testing it to make sure it works. Once you've tested it enough you share it with others and see if the results are consistent. If they are you have a new technique that works, but don't sit on your laurels...see if you can improve it.

Elemental Balancing Ritual Movement Month 3

Eros 12-24-12 Having been on the nutrisystem diet for a few days now, I'm noticing a difference in my energy and awareness of my body. I don't feel as compact. I feel a bit lighter and leaner. At the same time, this diet has given me a chance to meditate on my approach to eating food. I've come to two realizations about the origins of how I've handled food in the past.

The first realization goes back to a memory I had when I was 11 or 12. My step-mother had changed her behavior toward me, and was much more cold and distant then she'd been before due to circumstances I won't go into here, beyond saying that on some level she was taking out her anger toward someone else on me. In any case, we had this dinner of fried chicken and I ate a bunch of chicken, more than I really should of, and she commented on how I was a good eater. Since such compliments were much rarer, I think it had an impact on me and that I wanted to be a good eater because then it meant I was accepted.

The second realization goes back to my college days. I moved into an apartment when I was 20, and suddenly I faced a reality I'd never faced, which is that I had bills to pay, including groceries and that I also had room mates who wouldn't be shy about eating my food even though they weren't supposed to. For about a year or two I was only eating one to two meals a day and I was hungry a lot. I remember that when I got into the Masters program at clarion and lived in the dorms there that I became a bit of a glutton for the cafeteria food. Knowing I didn't have to go hungry made an impact on me. I eventually became more sensible with how much I ate and I exercised regularly, but I always maintained a hearty appetite. So now I feel the occasional pang of hunger and instead of indulging in food, I'm really sitting with it and meditating on what it brings up for me, with the realization as well that I am a fortunate person in that I have ready access to food, where many people in the world do not.

12-27-12 In thinking further about my relationship to food, I realize I have been an over eater or glutton. I eat after I'm full to the point where I feel bloated and weighed down by the food I've eaten. We went off diet for xmas dinner and I over ate. I didn't like how it felt and when I'm on the diet I feel less weighed and not bloated. So it makes me realize that one of my challenges is working on portions.  I need to avoid over eating...I need to know when my body is satisfied. On the plus side, I've lost 7 pounds and I'm noticing a distinct different in how I fit my clothes and how I feel, I like this feeling and I want to keep it.

12-31-12 As I've continued exercising, I've been thinking about movement and the body and more importantly I've focused on just being with the movement, whether its the movement I feel when I exercise or the movement I feel as I walk. In a way the burn of the exercise helps me be more aware of my movement. I can't take it for granted as I might if I wasn't exercising. But it also makes me think about movement in general and how there really is no such thing as seamless movement. There is always a bit of resistance or friction...we might not feel it, but its there, and being aware of it when we don't feel is important because then it can be accounted for.

1-1-13 One of the issues that came up a few days ago was a realization of how embedded my habit of beating myself up is. It came up because of something Kat mentioned and when I apologized for it, for the umpteenth time, she asked me to stop and then she brought up how much I did that. What she said really struck me in a vulnerable place. I felt myself start to shut down because I felt like she'd come across this wound within me that I couldn't faced, and yet I clearly needed to face it. This behavior has been present in all of my relationships and I know right where to trace it. But facing it was painful because it was facing all the feelings that accompanied the self beat up...the resentment, fear and anger I've felt toward others, and the humiliation I've felt as I've tried to somehow make the person I'd offended feel like she (this has never happened with men) had her say and could hopefully let it go instead of continuing to hold it over my head as a way to continue punishing me. Kat told me that she didn't want to punish me or see me punishing myself...that she hadn't realized how deep the behavior went, and that she'd help me work on it, help me stay on top of it. Hearing that made me feel hopeful, because facing this deep wound in myself was not easy, and yet realizing it consciously has made me want to change it for my own health and the health of my relationship.

1-4-13 One of the books I'm reading is on somaesthetics. Basically its a book about the experience of the body and how to appreciate the body for what it is. I find his analysis of Western culture and its approach to the body to be fascinating, in large part I think it's true.. Western culture treats the body as a tool or as something sinful. How much that has weighed people down and held them back. Certainly my own experiences point to some of the issues that come up. While I am mostly comfortable with my body, there have been moments when I've found myself facing some cultural meme about it.

1-12-13 When I've gone off diet on occasion, I've been proud of myself each time because I've only eaten until I don't feel hungry. I haven't tried to eat until I feel "full" or bloated as I think of that feeling now. Exercise is going well also. I'm not getting as sore as I did and I'm noticing more strength and grace in my everyday movement. It's made me appreciate the element of movement even further in terms of how essential it is to our lives, but also what it can tell us about our sense of health.

I wrote earlier today: "Movement is an intrinsic force of identity, the relationship piece of identity, and the establishment of context in time and space." And I think that is really the case with movement. Movement and identity go hand in hand in terms of not just physical movement but also metaphysical movement. When a person does magic what they are really doing is moving their identity and its contextual relationship to space and time into a new direction. When we acknowledge this it opens us up to awareness about movement as it applies not only to our own movements, but also the movements of others and how all of it fits together.

1-18-13 As I've gotten more into exercising I've been pushing myself harder, putting more energy into it. Undoubtedly I'm able to do this because of how my body is getting stronger, but it's more than just physical changes to the movement. It's also an attitude change. It's an awareness of how I feel about the exercising and about the desires I have around transforming my relationship with my body. I like how my body feels and I like the feeling of soreness after I've exercised that's a reminder of my body and the changes I am experiencing with it.

In another direction with moving, I've really been opening up more to Kat. There's this part of me that has tended to protect itself by not opening up, and the reason it provides is: I don't want you to use what I say against me." No big surprise there as I've found that in the past a lot of what I said or did was held against me and used as leverage of one kind or another. So when I am promised that what I say won't be used against me, that instead the person will hold space and yes may have a reaction, but afterwards will truly lay it to rest...that's what I need...and she has offered it and followed through on it. I'll admit to being surprised at the depth of fear I felt around this issue, but it makes sense given what's happened. I learned very young to keep things to myself and to be provide a filtered amount of information because of how that information would be used. So it's a relief to let the filters go and just speak...

It is also fascinating how you can re-direct movement in a room with the right energy. This evening I was at an event where a person was asking for donations. I was the only person she didn't ask, and I put out an energy of move along, which worked rather well to insure that I wasn't asked. The right emotional energetic message can create interesting movement patterns. I've used that technique since I was in high school and yet I think I've only fully begun to appreciate it tonight.

1-22-13 If you consider that movement applies to more than just the physical ability to move...that it applies to the movement of money, the movement of a career, the movement of your life, then its also worth considering what you are having trouble moving in your life, and how that lack of movement is affecting your overall sense of well-being. I am mindful of this in my own life as I consider both present and past circumstances where I have felt unable to move or only able to move at a crawl. Movement isn't necessarily an indicator of success, but it is an indicator of what feels like its working as opposed to what feels blocked. However the key to handling an area of your life where movement is slow, is to find a way to keep moving and keep yourself open to possibilities of greater movement. I'll admit I feel frustrated with a couple areas of my life and the lack of movement in them, but I know I need to keep moving and keep open to the possibilities as well as solutions to the actual blockage. Eventually a solution will be found.

Further commentary on practical magic

I recently posted about the reluctance to do magic for yourself. I got some responses which made me do some thinking and this post is a culmination of those thoughts. One of the responses was that the person was concerned about the possible harm that could occur. She needed to be absolutely sure she wouldn't harm someone if she chose to do magic for herself. Another response was the concern that doing magic to get a particular result might cause the person to miss out on a better opportunity. It was better to let the universe bring whatever opportunities would come her way.

These are valid comments to make. But at the same time I wonder if perhaps they create too much hesitation. If we wait for opportunity to come knocking, if we hold back from doing something because of potential consequences, what are we letting slip through our fingers? Practical magical involves making practical choices and taking risks. It recognizes that if you really want something and you think magic is necessary you do what it takes to make it happen.

I'll admit I'm not the most ethical magician out there. I figure if I'm doing magic for a practical result it may be a result that only favors me. While it may not harm someone in an obvious way, there's a chance it could still have an effect. For example if I do magic to get a job, and I get the job I have used magic in my favor and harmed all the other people applying for that job. It's not intentional harm per se, but it could be considered harm. I recognize that and if I choose to do magic I have to evaluate if choosing to do magic to provide a favorable outcome is really worth doing.

And its true that if you use magic to achieve a specific outcome that you could miss out on other opportunities. However it's also possible to set yourself up with the opportunities you really want. For example, I created an entity that specifically looks for opportunities and notifies me of them. I don't miss out on the opportunities because I am made aware of them.

With practical magic there is always some risk involved. But the same is true with living life. Even if you don't do magic when applying for a job, the very act of applying for the job and going to an interview and getting that job could still be considered harmful to the people applying for the job. We can choose to paralyze ourselves out of fear that something could happen, or we can take a risk and do it and deal with the consequences as they come up.

As someone who has done and continues to do a fair amount of practical magic I'm comfortable with doing it for the purposes of achieving a specific result. I recognize I could be closing one door, while opening another, but that's why I'm doing magic. I want to achieve a specific result. I know there are consequences, but there are always consequences when you take action. Life always has a risk attached to it. But if you want something then you have to decide what that really means. Practical magic is about shaping your life in a direction that is favorable to you. This doesn't mean you discount others, but it does mean you evaluate what is needed to help you achieve your desired outcome and then you do it.

Process of Magic Sign-up Special

Free Tarot Card reading if you sign up for the Process of Magic class this week (special lasts until Saturday). I do a dual-deck tarot reading, which means that I use two different tarot decks to do the reading, using the cards in conjunction with each other. I'll do a free reading for you on a question or subject of your choice when you sign up for the class.

The Process of Magic course is a 24 week correspondence course. You can choose how fast or slow you work on the course. Its at your pace! Contact me, if you'd like to learn more about the class and get your free reading!

My Definition of Elementals

My recent post on Elementals generated some critiques from people who pushed for a more traditional model of elemental magic. I could appreciate where they were coming from, especially when they cited Quabalistic perspectives on the elements, but my definition of elementals is different and I thought it worthwhile to include that here.

When I define an elemental I define it as a representative of a primal force that effects all of us. It's something that defines us in some ways, even as we define it. There's a symbiotic relationship of sorts. So the four traditional elements certainly fit that definition, but when I look at the emotion of love I don't associate it with fire. That's an arbitrary association. So instead I associate the experience of love with the Element of Love. I associate the experience of emptiness with the Element of Emptiness.

It's just as arbitrary as associating emotions and behavioral characteristics with a traditional element. The difference, in my opinion, is that I'm treating those emotions as separate elements in their own right, so that I can develop a deeper relationship with them. This isn't to say that using a more traditional approach to elements doesn't work, because clearly it does, but rather to point out that there can be viable alternatives and that they work. It's all arbitrary in the end, because its all defined by people for their own purposes of categorizing and explaining something they are working with.

Book Review: The Little Book of Odes and Invocation by Auntie Matter

This is an enjoyable book with invocations that have been developed by the author and shared with readers. But perhaps the greatest I got from this book was the value of developing your own personalized invocations. When I read Invocation to Raise Power, it made me really pay attention to the words and how the author put everything together to raise power through the words and the phrasing. I highly recommend this booklet as something that will inspire your own invocations as well for what is offered in the invocations the author has written.

Elemental Fire Balancing Ritual Month 6

3-28-12 A lot's happened in the last few days. Pagan Faire was last Saturday and I was pleased to feel no reactivity, and a feeling of being energized (due in part to the recent release of Magical Identity). I ran into someone who'd participated in some of my magical experimenter groups early on and it was good to catch up with her. It'd be good to have a larger group to work with now and that may work out, especially if I enhance it with a working to draw the right people to the mix. There's also been a dissolution of several internal blocks, and the realization of a sabotaging behavior that involved a tendency to pursue getting forgiveness over getting permission. I'm working on it currently, rewriting the behavior with new behavior that will ensure that I'm more team oriented, as it were. I've traced the previous behavior through most of my life and I can see how its created problems for me and for others.

Meditation on Fire has been interesting, both in terms of how fire illuminates and creates shadows. You can't treat fire as solely a creative or destructive force. It's both simultaneously. Working with it metaphysically involves a recognition of balance. Go too far in one direction and you end up finding yourself in the other direction. The creativity of fire feeds the destruction and vice versa. You've got to respect an element that is so primal and can embody contradictions in itself that aren't really contradictory so much as a warning: Be careful how you work with it...

3-29-12 I wrote this gem the other day: When you uncover a sabotage behavior, its a good idea to trace it back to its origins and imprint desired behavior on the original memory. Work your way through other memories, imprinting them with the new behavior as well. This will allow you to proactively change behaviors.

I've used this technique time and again to change behaviors that needed work and I'm using it right now with the beg for forgiveness behavior. It's odd how being uncomfortable can be such a motivator for change. The humiliation and shame a person feels burns away the illusions that otherwise create a comfortable lie. When you can't hide from your truth as it applies to how you act, there is a demand for change that is motivated by both external and internal circumstances. The external circumstances are the stimulus, and the internal circumstances is the spark that takes that stimulus and feeds it into the internal work that needs to be done to resolve the issue. I've always found discomfort to be an excellent motivator for change, which is why I've always embraced it. Yes it's uncomfortable but if it wasn't, would I need to change? I think you can measure how much a person is growing by how much discomfort is in his/her life, as well as what s/he is actively doing to address that discomfort. If there's no discomfort you're at a stable place and if there is discomfort there is a need for transformation and change.

4-5-12 Fire represents passion, but it can also represent action, movement, impulsiveness, and so much else. Fire can represent liberation, and yet also can entrap you. So much of fire is really just perception...all these words I associate with a primal force of life, buts it convenient to associate words, to assign values and meanings, to create metaphors that explain concepts and help people relate...or maybe just help me make sense of fire and all these emotions and words and associations I have with it. On one level its just an exercise that yields a kind of insular thinking that draws you inward and on another level it challenges you to apply a particular understanding and perspective to your life and your various patterns, habits, issues, oh my!

4-11-12 As I continue to unravel some patterns I've discovered I find that as always internal work is simultaneously the most freeing practice you can do and the hardest. Makes sense, because true freedom and the experience of it involves responsibility. Responsibility for your actions, your choices, but also for everything you recognize that you didn't see before. The people who play at meditation but shy away from doing the hard work are the ones who focus more on the labels they give themselves than on just doing the work and letting go of the labels.

4-12-12 In my Small Business Management course we ended up discussing the culture of a business as well as gatekeepers for the business. It proved relevant to a recent realization I've had about how I keep most people at a certain distance from me. I can't say I have many friends, let alone close friends. I have lots of acquaintances and a few people I genuinely I consider to be friends. Letting people in has always been a challenge for me. I'm very self-sufficient and independent, and while that can be good in some ways, its not so good when you realize that your business relies in part on being able to get to know people and in turn letting those people get to know you. It's a realization that's made me decide to push myself to be a bit more social with the people I network with.

4-16-12 Sometimes it surprises me how many people are following this blog or the Facebook page or whatever else I'm putting out there. It's nice to be recognized, and I guess that's a benefit of social media: It's much easier to be found and most of the time you're even found by friendly people. I'm looking forward to unveiling some new programs for people in the near future.

4-23-12 Act, don't react, because when you react you are responding to someone else and what they want to get out of you. That's a lesson fire can teach, because fire doesn't have to be reactive. It can be active, and usually prompts reaction on the part of people that deal with its effect on their lives.

Influence, networking and magic

Rufus recently posted an interesting article on the Favor of Kings. What I got from it is that you essentially enchant for favorable influence to be shown to you by the people in power, so that you can have opportunities presented, and just have an easier life overall. It's an interesting concept and one I'm familiar with from networking, but I'd say that while it's awesome to feel the favor of people in power, and to have their momentum behind you, its even better to become one of those people, not only because it generates consistent favor from other people, but because you also embody the very force of the favor you want to bring into your life.

I do a lot of networking as a self-employed business owner, so I have to generate my own favor, as well as hopefully get the goodwill of other people. In a corporate setting its different. You have the people above you to think about, but beyond that its not something that matters as much...or does it? I'd argue it actually does, but most people in a corporate setting don't think about it that much because they've got the relative "security" of having a job, and having that job addresses the sense of need a person might have.

Networking has its own energy. When you are networking with people, you are connecting to them, learning about them, and thinking of how you can help them. You are directing your favor toward them, in the hopes that they will do the same as well. And your favor manifests as a business referral, or a connection to a power partner, or even to the acknowledgements that you receive from other people who are in a similar position to you, in terms of owning their own business.

However, people in a corporate setting are still networking as well, albeit in a much tighter microcosm. You've got your fellow employees as well as your managers, your competitors in the company, the clients of the company, and the competitors outside of the company. And all of that creates an opportunity to generate and share influence which is the core essence of favor.

Favor is the manifestation of positive influence. It's found when a person puts in a favorable recommendation about you at work, or gives you a kudos at a networking event. It's also found when you do something positive for other people, whether its offering a suggestion, or referring someone else. Favor is an integral behavior and social dynamic within society. The people who consistently have the favor of others have done something to earn it, or they wouldn't be smiled on and helped.

So how does this work on a magical level. On the one hand, you can work with entities, such as the ones Rufus mentioned, and ask them to push the favor up a notch. This certainly works and it can be quite useful. I actually have an entity that helps me find opportunities (which I'd see as a form of favor). He pushes those opportunities to my awareness, which in turn allows me to capitalize on the expression of favor. So the entity approach works.

But there's another approach I like to take. It involves becoming the embodiment of favor. In other words you become what you want directed to you. Think of it as a kind of invocation, because in a sense it is an invocation of a very particular force. For me the embodiment of this force starts when I put on my business clothes. The particular look that I go for carries with it specific associations including networking and the spreading of influence and favor. My approach targets the vector that if you want to receive more favor and influence, you need to also exert your own favor and influence for others. My embodiment allows me to consciously focus on riding the social interactions of favor and influence in order to arrive at the right confluence where I exert myself for others and in turn they exert themselves for me.



Re-branding myths

I'm currently re-playing the God of War video game series. Its one of my favorite series and part of what I like about it is that it re-brands the Greek myths. You're playing a character who fights all the Greek Monsters and challenges the Titans and the Gods and runs into the other heroes of Greek Mythology. You're experiencing the Greek myths through the lens of Pop Culture. You see this replicated in pop culture a fair amount. Whether its Marvel comics with their exploration of Thor and Norse Mythology or various video games that explore different mythologies from a modem perspective, there is a re-branding of myths that occurs. And there is also the infusion of new contemporary myths, such as what we find with Batman.

It serves as a way of introducing people to cultures and mythologies they may not have encountered otherwise. And sometimes it inspires research and study to find out more. Purists will argue that a game such as God of War is inaccurate because it reinterprets myths and inserts a character that was never part of the mythos. There is truth to that statement, but that's why it's a rebranding of mythology as opposed to the actual myth.

The re-branding of mythology is good because it shows us how timeless the myths are and how we can't leave them behind. We retell them, we reshow them and maybe we change them a bit, but nonetheless we are influenced by them and the power they have in our lives. They live on in us, not only in the reading of the original myths, but the reinterpretations of them that are created in contemporary culture.

Aligning your values with your desires

Over the last six or so years, some of the most significant magical work I've done has involved doing internal work to align my desires with my values. You might think that this would be automatic, but I don't think that's the case all the time. The challenge of the magician is to know him/herself and until you know yourself, you can't really know if your values are in alignment with your desires. Thus if you try to manifest a desire that isn't in alignment with your values, it may not stay with you, because some part of you is resistant to the manifestation. Aligning your values with your desires involves examining what your desires are and seeing if they match up with your values. If the execution of your desires doesn't align with your beliefs and values, then the result will be fleetingly. You will sabotage yourself to stay true to your values and beliefs. Not all of these values and beliefs are necessarily healthy, but they are in place as much to "protect" you, as to provide a moral compass to live your life. But being safe isn't all its cracked up to be, and can sometimes put you in a miserable situation, because part of you wants to protect yourself from taking a risk.

Aligning your values with your desires necessarily means that you need to look at the origins of both your values and your desires. Where do they come from? What influences sponsored your desires and values? Asking these questions can help you understand why you hold to the values you have and why you want what you want. That, in turn, can help you begin to either resolve the conflict between desire and value or recognize if your desire or value is holding you back in some way. Until you question and explore what motivates your choices, you can't know for certain if you are making those choices because you genuinely want to/believe in the need to do so, or if you are reacting on impulse of one kind or another.

The six core techniques of magic

There are six essential techniques that a magician utilizes when doing magic. Although we might come up with a variety of derivatives of these techniques, from my own observations it seems that all derivations ultimately boil down to these six essential techniques. Here is an overview of each technique: Invocation: This is an act that involves drawing an entity or person's consciousness into your own for either partial or full possession. The benefit of doing this can be to obtain information, achieve union with an entity, or as part of an offering ritual to the entity. I've experimented with the process of invoking one's self into an entity or person, because I've found that invocation is a two-way street. Invoking yourself into someone else can used to help that person work through a trauma, though it can also be used for less ethical purposes[1].

Evocation: This is an act which involves evoking the entity (or person) into the environment around you. Evocation can also be used to evoke emotional forces or behaviors so that you can work with them in an external environment. Evocation is typically used when you want to manifest a specific possibility and need help from an entity to accomplish the task.

Divination: If you want to obtain information, divination is technique that can be used. It typically involves using Tarot, runes, ogam, or some other kind of symbol set that is randomly shuffled or mixed before he person draws and then places the cards, runes, ogam, etc into specific patterns. The cards, runes, ogam are read in order to obtain the information that is desired. There are also other techniques of divination, that rely on entheogens or other forms of hyper stimulation in order to create visions the person can then interpret.

Enchantment: An enchantment is an act of magic that is directly done by the magician to bring a specific possibility into reality. The magician directly applies magical force in order to make the possibility into a reality.

Banishing: Banishing is used by the magician to ground and center him/herself, while cleaning the space of any lingering magical energies. Banishing can also be used as part of daily practices to help focus the mind and will of the magician.

Astral projection: Astral projection is where the magician projects his/her spirit or mind into the astral planes. The magician will do this in order to do a magical working on those planes or to access resources that wouldn't be found here. My personal take on the astral planes is that it's partially derived from our imagination and is where we can directly interact with imaginary time in order to find possibilities that we'd like to bring back with us to reality.

Are there any other core techniques you would and if so what?

[1] See Inner Alchemy and Multi-Media Magic for more information on invoking yourself into an entity or person.

Jason Miller's blog moved to a new site

Dear Readers of Strategic Sorcery, As most of you know, Strategic Sorcery mysteriously disappeared on the evening of Wednesday, January 19th. The blog was not locked or cancelled by blogger intentionally, nor does it appear to be a deliberate hack. It is a glitch that is effecting about 50 other blogs.

Strategic Sorcery will now be hosted at my own website. The new address is http://www.inominandum.com/blog/

Please take a moment and update your links and follow me at the new site.

A big thanks go out to the owner of this blog for helping me get the message out.  Thank you readers who have written in concerned about the situation. I am awed and gladdened by your support.

Thank you,

Jason Miller (Inominandum)

Geekery and magic

I'm a geek and I'm proud of it and how it influences my approach to magic. When Pop Culture Magick was first written, I remember getting a review where the reviewer said it must have been written by a geek and I suppose he was right. I am a geek and I enjoy exploring the intersection between my geek interests and my magical interests: