liminal space

Elemental Love Work Month Ten

I have two more months left to the elemental love working. It kind of amazes me that in such a short, but also long time, my yearlong working with babalon and the element of love will be receding into the background to make way for the next element to be worked with. This month has been interesting in Three different ways.

1. I recently had an opportunity to choose to be honest about a situation...and I chose honesty. I have to admit, making that choice is when it comes to personal matters is not very easy for me. I've sometimes lied or concealed things to my later detriment, because there's that distinct voice within which says, better to keep this from someone then let them find out and see the real you. The real detriment of lying isn't even the broken trust of the other person, though that is definitely detrimental. It is the punishment one puts him/herself under every time the truth could come up...because make no mistake a liar does punish him/herself because no matter how well hidden a truth one person always knows it and that's the liar.

For me, honesty in love has been one of the hardest lessons to learn. I can easily point to my past and say that it was because of my past, what I learned early on, which was that lying sometimes ensured I didn't get caught, didn't get grounded, didn't get told I was a disappointment, and most importantly I didn't get hurt if I lied good enough. If I lied and no one else knew, they might even accept it's not rational, and it may not make much sense, but it is a reaction that is writ deep within me, and so naturally is something that has come up time and again throughout these ten months, in various different forms and flavors. Coming to grips with the lie of lying, and really seeing how much the truth can set a person free is in someways the central theme of this year's lesson for me. And of course Babalon has been very insistent I learn this lesson, which completely makes sense, because she is a goddess of desire, and desire is only truely known when you can be true with yourself and others.

So earlier this month, an opportunity came up to be honest about some things and I decided to take it. It wasn't easy. There were a couple moments where I felt like it took everything I had to say a simple sentence. Yet the feeling afterwards, of relief, of release, of no longer keeping something in secret, of being able to really open was so empowering, so strong, so different from keeping something to myself. I felt liberated...and in one respect I felt as well that my word as a magician was strengthened. I believe both William G. Gray and Franz Bardon wrote something to the effect that the magician's power is only as strong as his word. The truth does set you free, from your fear, from your worry...but it takes a lot of work. I wish I could say that being honest is an easy thing for most areas of my life it is...but love is deep...there's deep wounds and letting them heal takes work, takes trust...I'm learning that trust, learning how to trust myself so I can trust others. Trust and love start from within. Before you can have trust or love with someone else you really have to trust yourself and love yourself. For me, the sign that I'm changing is that while I still struggle with myself sometimes to tell someone else how I feel or about something I did that I know wasn't good to do, 9 out 10 times I succeed in telling that someone...and that one time it doesn't occur right away, it does happen, if a bit later down the line. It's an accomplishment for me to be at this point of honesty with myself. And yes sometimes I still lie...but it's less and less.

2. In a conversation with a friend I was told I'm trying too hard...specially trying too hard to be his friend, which accounted for his tenseness around me. I really appreciated his honesty with me and ended up agreeing that was the case, so I relaxed and that friendship is getting better. But in thinking about his comment, I can say it's been true in other situations as well. I've caught myself a few times this month trying too hard when it came to other matters. So I'm learning to relax more...try less, do's interesting and it's given me a better look at some of the ol' thought stream in my head, and what it is I tell myself sometimes. Not sure where this will go beyond just trying less, and relaxing more in my relationships with others and myself.

3. finally read this in a book. Sex and love are two different needs. You might think this would be obvious, but I don't much focus in this culture on true love and what constitutes true love, including all the sex that is supposed to happen all the time. I'm not saying sex can't be something important to a relationship you have with someone, but sex and love aren't the same need. Sex can be an expression of love, but it can also be an expression of hate or lust, even sorrow (in one case I heard of). And sex is its own need, something which we need, but love is also its own need and again something we need. It's funny, but as I've done this love working and really faced what love seems to be for me, I've seen the difference in these needs more clearly. Yes I like both love and sex and want both in my life, but they are different. Sex doesn't always bring love with it and yes I've known this for a while, but reading that sex and love are different kinda hit me with a clue by four that helped me get this understanding in a different way that all my prior experiences never really showed me.

I won't say love is more valuable than sex or vise versa, but feeling that need for love is a different than needing sex and in retrospect sex definitely fills or hits a different area of the psyche than is much more subtle, less does something, but it also takes a lot more work than sex might.

So that's month ten for me...each month is really amazing...I've learned so much in each month, in each moment of vulnerability that working with this element has provided.

Follow-up to my post about my disillusionment with the Occult Scene

I've been watching with some interest just how much traffic my post about my disillusionment with the occult scene has generated. It even got linked by Chas Clifton, a pagan blogger and academic. He summarized that post as, " Aleister Crowley's legacy still poses problems for occultists -- especially when they take Internet "life" as equivalent to a "scene." Unfortunately that summary misses the point of that post entirely. I can understand, however, why he might think this was an issue with Crowley's legacy (such as it is) given my previous posts about Crowley on this blog. However Crowley is just a symptom of the problem, albeit to my mind, one of the originating symptoms. My original issue with Crowley essentially boils down to this: If after seventy years since his death, Crowley still represents the pinnacle of occultism, then occultism as a discipline hasn't advanced at all, which then brings up the question as to why any of us even bother practicing magic at all, if all we're trying to do is emulate him. Mind you, I don't believe all of us are trying to emulate him, but my original issue with Crowley was spurred on by seeing this person talked about so much, with so very little attention seemingly given to other occult authors or other original perspectives that weren't necessarily overtly influenced by him, to the point that some of these occult authors are only, in recent times, being rediscovered (Franz Bardon particularly comes to mind, though I can think of a number of others).

But after re-reading some of Crowley's work, I came to realize that my issue with Crowley was just a symptom of a deeper problem. I could see that Crowley had some valid points to make, even if the end I felt that while what he wrote could be insightful, I still don't believe its as influential as some people would argue. Before I get into any arguments with people who disagree, I'll just accept that yes he obviously has a lot of influence on you and your practice of magic. However, in re-reading his work I still don't find it very illuminating or graceful or any of the other things you think about it (so let's agree to disagree about that).

But this brings me to the problem I now see Crowley as a symptom of. Crowley's image, his notoriety is to me symbolic of the problem I perceive with the occult scene. I honestly wonder if people would find his work as influential if he didn't also have that bad boy image that he has. In other words, I think that the image has overtaken the content. And given that there are no other occult authors that really have that kind of notoriety, a further question I find myself asking is, "If another occult author had that kind of notoriety, would people read his works in the same way...would the image influence how the content was perceived?" Now someone might say, "Hey it's not fair that you assume that Crowley's image influences my reading of his content." Yes it may not be fair, but it is a valid consideration to bear in mind. Does Crowley's image overtake, overshadow, and consequently influence how his work is read and/or practiced? Is Crowley the best role model of a magician that we have? Should he be a role model for us? But it doesn't end with Crowley. The problem here is how much is the occult scene invested in image opposed to content (and who decides what is image and what is content?)?

When I talk about the occult scene, I'm not just talking about Crowley and I'm certainly not just talking about the internet occult scene. The Zee list was an excellent example of what I considered to be part of this image problem I've talked about, because on the zee list what you really had occurring was a lot of chest beating and posturing over who was the uber occultist of them all. What didn't occur was a lot of sharing of ideas or experiments. Some of that occurred, but most of the time you had flame wars erupting...and to a lesser degree this also occurred on other e-lists. I can't say if it's occurred in recent times, because I'm not on any of the e-lists I used to be on. I stayed off them when I realized that any experiments or work I was going to do would probably be best shared with only a select group of people.

So dear reader, at this point, you might ask, "So why are you feeling disillusioned?" And my response: "Is occultism as a culture about image or content or is there a good balance for both?" I think of Generation Hex, the anthology edited by Jason Louv as an example of what I'm asking about. Because on one hand it represents a snapshot in the lives of certain people and their pursuit and practice of magic, and on the other hand it also represents a method for marketing the practice of magic as something cool people can do. It's a cultural text that offers us insight into why people decided magic was relevant to them as a practice and as way of connecting with other people, etc, but it's a statement of how magic could (should?) be perceived.

And then too my disillusionment about occultism comes down to: "What does doing all of this stuff really do for me? How is this really changing my life?" I have no doubt magic has changed my life and changed it for the better, but in considering questions such as those, I also consider the role of occultism as a culture and as a practice in my life. Is the practice of magic just a practice that allows people to connect socially or culturally? Is the practice of magic an elaborate social schema for interaction with certain types of people? Or is there more? I can point to my own experiments and say yes there has been more than just a connection on social or cultural level. But when I look at occultism as a whole, as a culture, I'm asking, what are we practicing magic for? What is the purpose for practicing magic? How does this practice benefit us as individuals, as a cultural group, or humanity, or the Earth, or the universe? What is the significance, if anything...or is it just image in the end?

And to be clear I'm not commenting on the practices of others or your choice to be influenced by Crowley or whatever else as a way of dismissing it. To quote a tried and true maxim of chaos magic, "Whatever works for you" I'm really commenting on all of this for myself, as a way of looking at how I situate my practice of magic into my life, and into my interactions with the occult community and culture. I'm seeking answers to my questions, because those answers will really shape the direction my spiritual path goes into, as well as how and if I continue to take part in the occult community. Posting it here is the opportunity to articulate my feelings and concerns, to get some distance from them, to come back with a different perspective down the line. What answers I get, which could come from commentary that others offer, still are answers I have to find on my own. I suppose you could my disillusionment my spiritual mid life crisis. It's not necessarily a dark night of the soul, but it certainly is something to me...and that's just fine, because it means something is happening.

Staring into the sun

Sometimes I like to lay down on the floor of my apartment, with the overhead fan running, the light turned on, and stretch myself out, so that my arms and hands are placed like I was on a cross and my feet are stretched as well. I close my eyes and face my head toward the light, letting it pierce my closed eyelids while I let my mind wander on a mystical journey. I'm staring, staring, staring into the sun. There's nothing to really see, but the light provides me a doorway and stairs to climb. As I climb each step, the door shines brighter and brighter, but once I reach it and step through I find myself in another space, another time.

I'm in a place of light in all directions, all shades of colors, a place of nothingness, of zero, all about to become one. I'm in endless potential, floating, no sensation other than light...yet it's so crowded, everything grasping, gasping, desperate to become move forth form potential into action, nirvana into reality.

All the little pieces fit together perfectly. Nothing is out of place because there is's all a ghost, shades of maybe played out for all to see, but there's no audience here, no awareness, just something primal, the perfect bringing together of different sounds...a cosmic soup, but no one's eating just yet. We await, we of the potential, give us direction, give us harmony, give us life...give us a fake reality, illusion, but it's so real!

Give us crystallization, the slow hum of feeling something replace nothing, direction, zero becomes 1, becomes the arrow which becomes direction, reality manifested, so it all fits together, falls into place, perfection, dig? It's everything you wanted, everything you needed, everything you dreaded. It's reality.

Zero and 0ne. Everything and nothing becomes something when your hand stirs the mix and takes away potential, shaping it into reality, molding, sculpting, playing.

Spirit becomes thought, thought becomes emotion, emotion becomes action, action creates reality.

He;s putting it all together, the subtle's so close, so is, we are...everything becomes and is...all else fade away...let go, let go, let go...your bliss is here, zero is here, 1 subsumed, collapsing back into zero.

Welcome've become the potential of everything and particular spark, you're floating on a sea of quantum light and hum....all and nothing, pure potential...sink, sink, sink under the waves, til you're pulled out again to become 1, direction into reality.

It just is...don't you get just is...let're done now...time is starting up again.

Bonding with the Land

I don't get tattoos very often. In fact, I only get them on special occasions. I got a phoenix to say goodbye to the east as well as to signify my rebirth from the ashes of academia. I got a Green wolf paw on my left breast, when I married my wife. Today I got a Chinese Blue Dragon. I have only two more I'll potentially get, but those are stories for other times. Let me tell you the story of the blue dragon. I met the blue dragon long ago, off the coast of Maine. I threw a necklace to it, an offering to it, something of me for something of the fey wildness of the ocean. I didn't encounter it again until I moved to Portland, OR. Portland and Oregon's energy have always felt safe to me...felt like home. When Lupa and I hiked the Multnomah falls for the first time, the blue dragon came out of the water and kissed me and asked if I remembered it.

It told me that it wanted me to bond to the land here. The last time I bonded to the land it was in Ohio and dissolving those bonds had been painful and Seattle had rejected me...but Portland and Oregon wanted me. So I said yes and agreed to get a tattoo as part of the bonding...I'd given blood and saliva to the land before, and this time a tattoo, with pain and some blood given again to the land. I was originally going to get the tattoo in November of '07, but other things happened, including not having a job. And eventually when all of that got figured out, the blue dragon told me to reschedule the appointment. So I did. And today I went in.

My tattoo artist at Infinity Tattoo, Alice Kendall, set me up, got me shaved, and then inked. The outline took a while...careful tracings of lines, and I felt the blue dragon's presence. He reached over to me. His energy touched mine. He asaid, "Make an offering of your pain and blood to the land, to me." And I did. I made an offering...I felt my pain start flowing to the dragon, and to the rivers and the land.

I felt my pain flow and I felt an exchange of energy come into me. When she started filling in the color of the tattoo, the exchange quickened...more pain flowing out, but more energy of the land flowing in. As she kept inking, I relaxed into the pain. I didn't fight it. I let it become part of me. I let it go. I let my mind slip into a gray void, but through it all the blue dragon was there, whispering to me about the land, whispering to me about IYR...whispering to me about the secrets of water and reality...

When the tattoo was finished, I felt half in this world, half in the land. I tipped the artist a nice fee...The Blue dragon was pleased...always honor those who help you connect to me.

I left, got into the car and the blue dragon settled into the tattoo, with one last whisper..."You and I are bonded to each other now"

[wp_caption id="" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Blue Dragon"]The Blue Dragon[/wp_caption]

[wp_caption id="" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="The Blue Dragon"]The Blue Dragon[/wp_caption]

Some thoughts on time

After reading Evola's article on precognition and time in Introduction to Magic, and in particular two passages, I've been musing further about the illusory nature of time and how much a sense of time is derived moreso from routines than we might think. The passages in question is: "The overwhelming majority of people are so enslaved to habits, craving, instincts, and fixed reactions, they are such slaves to things and to their selves, that it would truly be surprising not to be able to forecast their future. Knowing the so-called 'character' of a person, we can already know in an approximate way what he or she will do in certain circumstances" (Evola and the Ur Group 2001, p. 310).


"Wherever the basic condition of 'desire' is overcome, and thereby the object is purified from an object of desire into an object of contemplation, the overcoming of the temporal condition ensues naturally. I am referring here to the liberation of the self and of the object and thus to the possibility of capturing in a synthetic way what ordinary consciousness would regard as events analytically arranged along a temporal series, as a mere sequence of 'facts' or events more or less endured" (Evola and the UR Group 2001, p. 313).

A lot of what Evola writes about in terms of habits, cravings, etc is is quite true. Contemporary studies in neuroscience show the people act more so on emotions and cravings and desires and then after that initial impulse end up rationalizing their choices. Given that the amount of neural connections that go from the emotional systems to the rational sections of the brain is substantially more than the connections going from the rational systems to the emotional systems, it's fair to say that the emotions have a significant impact on our choices (no matter how we might like to conceive of ourselves as rational thinkers). Add in the fact, that in sales it's recognized that you sell the feeling in order to hook a potential buyer, and you have people who do in fact plan on the future likelihood that a person will react in an expected manner.

A conversation with my neighbor tonight yielded another insight, which is that if a person feels really good about the lifestyle s/he has, s/he may be perfectly content with the predictability of hir routines. This then brings into question what the motivation for change needs to be to shake up that routine...point is though that time becomes more of a reality through the predictable routines we use to navigate life. In fact time can be conceived as a measurement of those routines. this is most noticeable in the eight hour workday, where time is used to measure how long a person has to stay at work. But it can also be seen in other activities...Calculating the commute for instance.

An astute reader will note that I mentioned time's nature is illusory, but might wonder if that's really the case, given what I just wrote above. But what I wrote above amply demonstrates the illusory nature of time in the sense that time is used as a predictor and measurement of activities...when they should occur, when they could occur, etc....We use time as a measurement to determine and predict when something happens, and create routines out of that prediction.

The second passage of Evola's is intriguing to me, mainly because I've experienced it...i.e. the alignment of events and occurrences that cause a situation to manifest favorably for me. And I think he hits on a key point, that the overcoming of desire greatly enhances the potential of the events aligning in a person's favor. The reason is because you're no longer engaged in specific routines that you believe will get you what you want. We use routines to provide us comfort as well as to fulfill desires, but those same routines are predictive of the actions we'll take, and can limit the possibilities/opportunities a person could manifest.

The choice to overcome the basic condition of desire is really the choice of being able to perceive the desired outcome in a dispassionate no longer want it, and thus to no longer need your fixed routines that you'd normally use to get it. Unsurprisingly the result of this is that a person is much more open to possibilities or opportunities that are unconventional, yet still lead to the same outcome. A personal example I'd use is my deliberate choice to not concern myself about the out come of my most recent job hunt. Instead of worrying about when I'd get a job, I focused instead on other matters that I cared about. I did of course still do some job hunting, but ultimately the job I ended up with came through a different venue than what I'd normally have found. Everything came together at at exactly the right time.

It occurs to me that linear time is really another means of measuring desire, measuring how much effort you will put into getting something...whereas non-linear time  is an acceptance that the desire isn't essential, and consequently this opens up new vectors which can bring that desire into fruition...the act of not wanting it causes it to occur. Sounds contradictory, but the more desire we emotionally feel, the more invested we are in attempting to obtain something, and as Evola notes and I have noted myself, both from personal experience and from reading a variety of texts on the subject, the feeling of desire can trap us into particular routines, while blinding us to different perspectives that may not be as based in desire (or linear time), but are based on being open to the random opportunities that cause reality to align and manifest what the person was seeking. It's exactly when you give up desire on an emotional level, that you open up to non-linear time and allow what you wanted to come to you through unconventional methods.


At One

I do meditation each day, part of both my morning and evening regime of practices to keep my mind sharp and my spiritual muscles well exercised. Lately, I've been having a really interesting experience that has happened a few times before. I get into a really deep state of altered consciousness and my body feels as if it's melting into everything else. I notice that the lights intensify and it feels like I've become light, like I'm floating in a sea of light. I can feel myself shifting, moving, flowing into eddys, etc. When I have a meditation experience like this, it also seems that the layers of reality have parted to show me what lies between. All the possibilities of the universe are available. I could flow into any of them at a given moment.

I hope to continue working with this particular level of meditation in more depth. I have experienced it the most when I've been able to live on my own schedule, and I think that is a factor in experiencing it because, if you're not on someone else's schedule you do have more time to relax, which in my experience, has always enhanced meditation.

0 and 1, all and none til something is done

I came across an intriguing question that asked, "What would there be, if there was nothing?" My answer is, "The potential for everything, waiting to be manifested into something"

This answer boils down one of my approaches to magic and life into ten words. I relate it to magic, because it was in the works of William G. Gray that I first discovered 0 and 1, which is an intricate of my private mythos and relates to the concept of nothingness, everything, and something. This concept is also explored to some degree in the fantasy works of Raymond E. Feist, when his characters discuss some of the metaphysics of the fantasy universe, metaphysics which I might add are very workable and sane as a magical paradigm when it comes not only the relationships one has with the spirits, but also as a way of explaining something of how the universe itself works, but I digress.

I came across the concept of zeroing in  Magical Ritual Methods by William G. Gray (one of my favorite authors of magic).  The concept boils down to the idea that creation cannot occur without a void. What this means is that nothingness needs to exist in order for something to have a place. Some of this concept is echoed in the jazz musician Sun Ra's philosophy, particularly the cult film he did in the seventies about the outer space employment agency. What I get from Gray's concepts is that in zero, in nothing, lies the potential for everything. But until something is actually done with that potential, nothing can occur. ) is the embodiment of all and none. It represents both nothing and the potential for everything. 1 is the direction, the manifestation of potential into something. Once 1 occurs, and something is manifested the potential has been shaped into reality.

Much of Gray's approach to magic was based on the idea that you had to, as much as possible, return to a state of zero, of nothingness, before you created any magical act. The reason for that was to create a state of objectivity or neutrality, from which you were free of contaminating influences that might taint the manifestation you wanted to shape. The zero that a person used is the magical circle meant to represent that state of neutrality, wherein a person begins to take the potential for everything and shape into something that can be manifested into reality.

Much of what Gray wrote about in Magical Ritual Methods continues to influence my own approach to magic to this day. If there was ever a book I would consider to be a definitive manual on how and why magic works, I'd probably refer people to Magical Ritual Methods and tell them to read the book and then re-read and take copious notes while also integrating the practices described into their magical practice. I can guarantee that working with Gray's concepts will definitely challenge a person's perspectives on magic, because Gray is very thorough about exploring what magic seems to be, as well as explaining what he believes a person needs to be able to do, in order to really work with magic.

For me, 0 and 1 represents infinite potential within nothing and the capacity to shape that potential, to evoke it into something. Of course to do all of that, it's essential to train yourself, train and shape your internal reality so that it can mesh up with external reality while also working within nothing to achieve something. I first read Gray's works in my early twenties and even now I can still safely say that it influences how I think about and approach magic, right down to how I develop processes for working magic.

I've even used some of his concepts in meditation, diminishing a senses to a minutae of potential within a see of potential. This concept can also be used to speak to the soul of a symbol...which is a concept wherein a person finds the meaning of a symbol in meditation by zeroing the sense of self and integrating the symbol into him or herself to experience it directly.

So that's a snippet of my personal mythos when it comes to magic.

From nothing...came something...From 0 came 1.


I'm reading On Becoming an Alchemist by Catherine MacCoun. A good book, I recommend to any level of magical expertise. She brings up the concept of Between, or liminal reality/space/time, etc and as always I find this concept fascinating because it's one I've worked with a lot. She also discusses Style, which can be interpreted as the essence of a person, or the personal signature. Again, an intriguing concept. I see some intriguing possibilities for relating the two to each other. The style a person exhibits, the identity if you will, creating a between space. Actually the between space is created quite frequently by people. Have a really good conversation with someone and you'll marvel at the time that passed, because you entered into a pocket dimension that just existed between you and that person. Get into a state of do easy or not-doing and you're in a between state. Which then makes me wonder if it's ever possible to NOT be in a between state of one form or another.

Yes I know, I'm being subjective here with that last statement. I could easily say that we're always in between states and then go look for them, proving because I think of them. Still if you look into neuroscience and states of mind this kind of concept gets played with a lot, in terms of the types of consciousness people exhibit everyday. We have our everyday consciousness and perhaps between states are very subtle in that from of consciousness. So we only obviously perceive them when we meditate and we can clearly point to that and say, "Aha! that's a between state."

But right now I'm writing this post, and I'm in a different reality from the people around me. I'm aware of them, I can interact with their styles, their realities, etc, but I'm still in a between state of some sort, just a very subtle between state, as opposed to something more blatant such as meditation or doing a ritual. In fact, I'd say such overt displays as meditation or ritual are necessary for teaching people how to perceive between states, liminal realities, but I'd also point out that sometimes appreciating the subtlety of a different state of consciousness, appreciating the only slightly out of this reality between state is equally important to really being able to do magic on the fly.  I'm writing this post, and even though I'm aware of my environment, aware of people speaking on the phone, or walking by, I'm also aware that I'm in a between state, in a difference place...They are in my physical environment, but are they in my liminal reality? It's a subtle, but important distinction to make. No worries, I'll be exploring this in much more detail.