The Equation of Working with Entities

equation Sometimes, in my approach to process and applying it to magic, I like to look at a given process in terms of an equation. An equation elegantly lays out the dynamics of a process, demonstrating what it takes to make that process work. When we explore the process of working with an entity (spirit, daemon, etc.) the equation we are using to describe the process of that work is based on the relationship we have with the entity, as well as our understanding of the relationship the entity has with the universe. I'd argue that our understanding of what a given entity does is subjective, because our understanding is situated through a human perspective and in general what you see written about entities has more to do with the type of relationship they can have with a person than has it to do with what their relationship is to the universe. When you do see their relationship with the universe written about it, it's written in a way which is very mechanistic, as if the entities were cogs in a machine. Again, I think this understanding of their role in the universe is subjectively biased and as such may not be as accurate as it could be.

I've written previously about my decision to take a non-anthropocentric approach to my work with entities, including the work I'm doing with the microbiota within me. The reason I've taken that approach is that I've realized that to really understand and work with entities I need to be wary of applying the subjective lens of my human based consciousness upon them. Even with entities like the Goetia who could be argued to have an anthropomorphized form, it's important to recognize that they are likely taking that form because it is expected of them or because they recognize its the easiest way for us to conceptually understand them. One problem with such imagery is that it can create a false impression of an entity. For example, modern day imagery around angels usually involves a human shaped being with wings on its back. Sometimes you'll even see cute baby angels with smiling faces. However, if you've had contact with an angel, such an image bears little truth to the reality of the angel and holding onto such an image allows us to only connect with the angel on a superficial level (if we connect with it at all).

If, on the other hand, we recognize that our perspectives and awareness of entities are limited we can open ourselves to experiencing them more directly. This can have its own dangers. My own experience of working with angels hasn't typically involved the modern day imagery, but rather has involved feeling their presence. When I feel the presence of an angel I feel its force, its function...in other words I feel what it embodies and does for the universe and my relevance to that entity is very minuscule, based on a criteria which essentially asks: "Is this encounter relevant to my function?" If the answer is no, then the angel isn't going to waste time on me. If its yes, it'll put some time toward me, as it relates to the function it performs. The danger in such an experience is that if the person isn't ready to handle such an encounter it can throw them for a loop. In that sense, the safety that imagery and visualization provide is this: You have a less direct encounter with the actual presence of the entity and what it represents. That imagery provides a filter or screen of sorts, which helps your mind, energy, etc. process the experiences you have with the entity, whereas if you take a more direct approach, you are working with a more primal form of entity and this can be overwhelming if you are not used to doing such work. To work more directly with an entity involves allowing your subjective preconceptions and filters to fall away and open yourself to experience the feeling of the entity, the feeling of the force it embodies and represents. To do this carefully, I suggest gradually working toward that experience, as I share with an example below:

When I worked with the element of fire for a year, I gradually evolved my practice to move away from working with the associations and attributes used to describe fire, to working with fire as a direct primal force. The shift away from attributes and associations was useful because it allowed me to realize how much I'd anthropomorphized fire. When I didn't work with the anthropomorphic aspects of fire, I experienced fire as an element in a direct manner that was humbling (always a good thing imo) and allowed me to come away with a much more nuanced understanding of fire as a force of nature. I didn't think of fire in terms of sexuality, passion, or anger. I experienced fire as a force of heat, warmth, and destruction, as well as rebirth. However this process took the better part of a year to achieve. First I had to recognize the limitations of the imagery, associations, and attributes that usually went hand in hand with fire. Then I needed to open myself to working more directly with fire by asking if I could experience it as a raw primal force. I was cautious in making that request and what I did was work daily with fire via my meditations and other daily practices, but I would only allow myself to go so far as I felt I could handle what I was experiencing. If I felt the experience was too much I backed off from it and did appropriate banishing and aftercare. By taking such a gradual approach I was able to get comfortable with that raw experience of fire and consequently understand it in a different way that I'd not had access to before. I apply a similar approach to working with entities.

Let's bring this back to the equation part of this post with two thoughts to entertain. The first thought is this: What you put into the relationship with an entity is what you will get from the relationship with the entity. We can take that statement a number of different ways. For example, how we approach an entity shapes its interactions with us. If we approach an entity with fear, then it will undoubtedly recognize that fear and draw on it to shape the experience with you. Similarly if you approach the entity with respect, the entity will recognize that and factor it in accordingly. Similarly if we approach the entity with a specific image, attribute, or association in mind, it will respond to and use that image, association, or attribute (though not necessarily in ways we'd expect). Entities don't necessarily have a fixed form. They will appear in whatever way is most effective to work with you, and I'd argue they may also choose a more experiential model if that's appropriate for working with you. Likewise what you bring to the interaction influences what they bring to the interaction. If you give respect, you are more likely to get respect, but don't assume that will automatically happen and be aware, as best as possible, what you are bringing into the equation.

The second thought is this: An equation has a defined result. A relationship can also have a defined result. Be clear on what you really hope to get out of the interaction with the entity you are working with. If you are clear on your intentions and clear on the ideal result than it can help you determine if you should even contact the entity. In my magical work, in general, I always define the result. By defining the result I can determine what, if anything I need to employ. Defining the result doesn't guarantee you'll get the result, but it certainly makes it much to work with an entity because you can present it with what you are hoping to accomplish with its aid.

Finally, I suggest trying the non-anthropomorphic approach to working with entities. I find it to be more effective because it strips away the masks and allows you to work with the entity on an experiental level that is not always present when anthropomorphism is employed. While that direct experience brings its own risks with it, it also enables the magician to get a much better grasp of the entity, not only in relationship to the magician, but also in relationship to the universe.


My problem with demons

demon Recently Josephine McCarthy made a post about entities, including demons, which demonstrated a problem I have with how Western Occultism, particularly Western ceremonial magic traditions depict demons. In her post, she depicted demons as malignant entities that want to harm people. The problem with this depiction is that its based on Christian beliefs about what demons are and when magicians draw on that perspective about demons, what are they doing is drawing on Christian concepts to describe something. That alone should make any magician question whether its accurate or justified.

If we look at the word demon, we discover that its derived from the Greek word Daimon which originally meant spirit of wisdom. When Christianity came alone, the Christian leaders had a vested interest in depicting the spirits of other religious practices in a light that made those spirits seem evil or corrupt. Thus the word demon came along. And the medieval grimoires that discussed such entities depicted them in that way because the authors were Christian and knew they had to do so if they didn't want end up burned on the stake. Perhaps they even really believed what they wrote, but we need to critically question it, factoring in the political, religious and historical context that has been used to present the information.

In Western ceremonial magic, there is an uncritical acceptance of the word demon and the description used to define such beings. That uncritical acceptance leads to evocation practices where an entity is summoned and compelled to do something by calling on the names of other entities and threatening them with those entities. Now I don't know about you, but if I was coerced in that manner I'd be pretty unhappy about it too.

My own experiences with demons has never been negative. I do refer to them as Daimons, using the proper terminology. And I work with them. I don't coerce them into doing something they don't want to do. I don't strike bargains where I exchange my soul in exchange for material delights. What I do is develop relationships with them, much like I would with any other spiritual contact I make. And much like any such relationship, what I contribute and what they contribute defines the relationship. However I want to note I've never suffered any adverse effects as a result of working with Daimons. If anything, they've enriched my life and spiritual practices.

I think its high time the magical community recognizes that the word demon and all of its associated meanings comes to us from a religion that has demonized our practices. Do we really want that perspective in our magical practice? Do we even need it? In my opinion, we don't and I find that its counter-productive to getting effective magical work done.

Edit: Josephine published another article on her blog where she clarified her perspective and did a great job of defining the magical work involved.

Working with the Spirit Cord

spirit cord This last weekend I attended a workshop run by R. J. Stewart, which focused on the Spirit Cord teachings. It was a profound experience for me...one where I felt that certain gaps in my magical education were filled in by the work we did. I've never done cord work before and hadn't found much in the ways of reference to it in the works I've read so I was really curious about what this workshop would be like and what I'd learn from it. I'd gotten a purple cord the week before at Jo Ann's and with that in hand I headed to the workshop. Originally Kat and I were both supposed to go, but she got sick, so I went alone, which felt a bit odd because she had introduced me to this kind of work, but as it turned out even that happened for a reason, as we learned later in the weekend.

The concept of a cord, as it applies to spiritual work, is that the cord can embody all the traditional magical tools, while being none of those tools. The cord is a flexible connection between each tool. I found this interesting, especially as it related to my work with William Gray's material, because Gray discusses how to really understand a given magical tool, it's important to actually take it within you and embody it, and as I learned this weekend the spirit cords works in a similar manner. R. J. explained that the cord is also representative of and connected to your spinal cord, so that in a sense what it really represents magically is a connection to your entire body and how your body process and works.

Another interesting correspondence that came up was that cords traditionally had 7 seven knots in them. 7 knots could be related to the traditional 7 planets in planetary magic, as well as the 7 stages of Alchemy. I suppose we could create a lot of correspondences actually, but I felt that those particular correspondences were significant as it relates to western sacromagical work. As I continue to work with the cord, I'll undoubtedly explore such connections but for the moment I'm going to focus more on just learning to work with it.

Another key aspect of the spirit cord is that it remembers for you. What this means is that the cord can be used to store energies, experiences, memories etc. I tried this out when I wore the cord while sleeping. I found that I vividly remembered a dream that was magical focused in a way that I might not have otherwise, and that as I wrote it down, I could touch the cord and remember what I needed to remember. The cord helps you access those memories and experiences and re-embody them. I also found it relevant to my ongoing work that the cord could be utilized for both stillness and movement and that it's linked to birth and death.

The physical version of your cord is actually representative of your astral cord (not the silver cord typically discussed in astral work). In the meditative work we did with the cord I found that several experiences occurred. First in just working with the cord and connecting it to the spinal column, I could feel how it could be used to raise or lower spiritual energy. Second in working with the cord, I also felt how it could also be used for attunement purposes. For example, in the workshop we did a working with the Faerie Realm where we asked if we could attune the energies of the Faerie Realm to the cord. In my case, Puck came and attuned the cord with Faerie Energy. On Sunday evening, I did a similar attunement with Dragon and On Monday I did the same with the other spirit beings I am working with. In each case, when they did the attunement I could feel the energy flow into the cord and into me.

We also did a working with an astral temple, where we found our Astral cord. My astral temple was on top of a dormant volcano, but the inner alter was in a place where there was a lake of lava. I had an interesting experience there. After I'd worked with the astral cord, this gigantic being came out of the lava and presented itself to me. It then touched my forehead with the tip of its finger and I felt this energy go through me. I asked what it was and it said "He (RJ Stewart) would know me as a Titan." He then told me that if I wanted to work further with it, I should return and seek another audience. On Monday I sought another audience, because I want to get further understanding of what had occurred and the Titan told me I could ask one question. So I asked How and when should I seek your aid? He seemed to like that I'd managed to make one question into two and told me that I'd know when to work with him when the situation called for it and that I'd be guided in how to work with him. He also told me that what I thought of as need differed greatly from what he thought of as need and suggested that I shouldn't call on him lightly. He touched my cord and then my forehead again and I felt a rush of energy go through me, attuning both me and the cord.

We did another working as well, with the Ashim, which are lunar angels. This working involved traveling up and down the gold and silver steps which are representative of the paths a soul takes when it goes to be born or goes to die. I didn't recall much of the experience., but I do remember my Angel showing me the pattern of my lives.

Kat told me, when I came back, that she felt that my energy was different...that my vibration had been raised. Now some of that could be temporary, but I felt that a genuine shift occurred and that continuing to do the cord work will continue to imprint it into me. I already integrated it into my daily work. And later that night when we did our weekly devotional work to Dragon he came through and told her that one reason she'd been sick was because I needed to go to that workshop alone, to show my commitment to the work and show that it wasn't a commitment to her, so much as a commitment to the work itself. And y'know there's something to that because when you get introduced to a specific type of magical work by someone, at some point you need to know why you are doing that work, who for, and what it really means to you. This weekend showed me that and moved me deeply as a result.

My work with Glasolya-Labolas

glasolyalabolas I recently started working with Glasolya-Labolas, a Goetic Daimon of Time, but also of diplomacy. He contacted me initially, or rather his name stood out to me and I decided to work with him and see what I could learn. In my tradition of space/time Magic he is the guardian of Memory and a guide to working with retroactive magic. He also can be a protective spirit and can help you find opportunities to connect with allies and even help you make diplomatic overtures to your enemies. I've recently had the opportunity to experience all of these aspects of working with him and I'm quite impressed with his abilities.

As a time Daimon, he is able to help you mask or unmask opportunities, as well as discover possibilities in your memories that can be used to influence opportunities in the present or future. In my particular case, I chose to work with him in terms of masking my own temporal presence at an event, so that while I was there, I nonetheless found that my interactions with several people were limited, which was something I wanted due to my relationship with those people. It occurs to me that I could've also worked with him to change certain past aspects of my relationships with those people, but I wasn't really inclined to, as I didn't desire to have a relationship of any sort beyond a neutral one with those people.

As a diplomat, Glasolya-Labolas was quite helpful in engineering opportunities to meet with people who could become allies. I had opportunities to chat with several people that were influential in their own ways and develop relationships with them that would be beneficial for all involved. I was also able to make connections with people who organized the event and get to know them. And I felt that Glasolya-Labolas helped me know when to be social in general, so that I got to know various people at the event and make a good impression with them. Whenever I felt an intuition to do something social, I trusted it and followed it where I needed to go. And each time I connected with people that I needed to meet.

I would definitely recommend working with Glasolya-Labolas and intend to continue working with him myself. I feel there's a lot I have yet to discover with him, but thus far I'm impressed with what he's shared with me and how he's worked with me. He's quite a helpful ally to have on your side.


Pop Culture Magic Fan Cults

Batman I'm reading Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins, which is a fascinating book that examines fan culture during the late 1970's, 80's and early 90's. I'm reading it as part of my research for Pop Culture Magic 2.0 and while it might seem dated to read a book that focuses on fan activities from the last century, I actually find it to be relevant even to current fan activities. While the technology has changed to some degree, the fan activities and what makes a person fan really hasn't changed. What the author describes are people who genuinely engage with the characters of a given pop culture and getting some kind of meaningful interaction out of that engagement as it applies to their own lives and to the sense of fellowship and community they establish with other people that share similar interests. Its clear that for these fans, their interactions with each and pop culture creates a shared sense of empowerment and community.

I titled this post pop culture magic fan cults for a couple reasons. I don't feel that fan culture is really a cult, but I do think that for some fans what the particular pop culture of their choice embodies is a spiritual and perhaps even religious connection under the right circumstances. The connection that a fan feels with a character isn't something to take lightly or to dismiss because the character is "fictional". The very fact that a connection can be made signifies that there is something deeper there and that it isn't just in the head of the pop culture practitioner. This especially becomes evident by the fact that other people feel a similar connection with a pop culture character, building on the investment felt by each person in the reality of that character.

For some Pagans and for Polytheists, there is a knee jerk reaction to the idea that a person can meaningfully interact with a pop culture character in a spiritual sense. On the one hand, I think this is due to the fact that there is concern that people will appropriate practices from polytheistic practice in particular and apply those practices to working with pop culture spirits. I understand that concern and can appreciate why that would be a problem. I think that for pop culture magicians, there is a lot to draw on that isn't rooted in more traditional practices and can still be useful for connecting with pop culture spirits.

On the other hand, I also think some of the reaction is to the idea that a person could establish a meaningful spiritual relationship with a pop culture entity. There's a sense of disbelief and disagreement because a person chooses to invest their spiritual sense of connection toward a pop culture entity. Yet for the people who do make a connection with Batman or some other character, what matters is that what they're connecting to makes sense and resonates on a deep level that speaks to who they are and what they need. If I identity more with Batman and feel there is a genuine connection with him and what he embodies, I don't think its unreasonable to explore that connection and see how it manifests in my life. If, to some people, that makes seem weird or crazy, well it's no crazier than practicing magic.

The way I figure it is that what makes any deity viable is what people invest in that deity. The deity may have an objective existence, but even an objective existence is a symbiotic one. We all objectively exist and yet to continue exist we need to have a relationship of some type with everything else around us. The same applies to any deity. The belief that a person provides a deity is part of that symbiotic relationship and if that belief is placed toward a pop culture entity, why should that entity be less viable than some Deity? If the only determinant of that is tradition for tradition's sake, because people argue it hasn't been done before, well I'd say that it's happening now and has been happening longer than those people think. The human experience is about connecting with what's meaningful to a given person and if we can acknowledge that what is meaningful can differ from person to person, then perhaps we can also accept that you can't force a person to accept your version of spirituality. I don't expect, for example, that people reading this who don't agree with what I'm writing will suddenly change their minds. they won't change their minds, but to expect that their rhetoric will change my mind is a futile exercise on their part as well. I accept that they believe what they believe and I even respect that they want the boundaries of their practices to be honored because it defines who they are (I can't speak for other people, but I'm certainly willing to do that). But I also feel that what I believe and what I practice are just as valid for me...that if I make a genuine spiritual connection (which I have) that this connection is what matters and that their censure is futile, because what is happening with pop culture magic isn't going to go away. It's here to say. We're here to stay. This isn't just a fad or something that's transitory. It's something that speaks to some people and recognizing that is essential to understanding that pop culture magic isn't superficial or something that its in our heads. It means more than just that...and when I connect with an entity that's a pop culture entity and it helps me understand my spiritual work in a more profound way, it's real...as real as anything else a person chooses to believe in.


Anthropocentrism and Magic


I came across this article from Alison Lilly the other day about anthropocentrism in Paganism and Polytheism. You can find another article here where she defines Anthropocentrism in more detail. My brief definition of anthropocentrism is that it's a humancentric perspective of the world that considers experiences of consciousness in primarily human terms and applies human behavior, attributes, emotions, etc. to things that aren't human in an effort to simultaneously categorize and control what is labeled. The problem with such a perspective is that its extremely limited and presupposes that humanity and its perspective is what matters.

In my own spiritual work, one of the things I've tried to do is recognize when I'm applying anthropocentric perspectives, behaviors etc to connections I make with spiritual entities, the world around me, and anything that isn't human. The reason I seek to recognize this application of perspective is because I recognize that it is a filter that stops me from genuinely connecting with whatever it is I'm connecting with. For example, when I was doing my year long work with the element of fire, one of the realizations which came up was how mediated the experience of fire is by anthropocentric perspectives. We label fire with human attributes and emotions such as anger, passion, and creativity. This provides humans a way to understand relate to fire from a human centric perspective, but it doesn't allow you to experience fire in other ways. When I stripped away the labels, attributes and emotions associated with fire, what I experienced was something much more primal and raw, something that had more to with fire as its own force as opposed to something mediated and interpreted by human perspective. I recognized even then that to some degree I was still applying a human perspective to the experience, but as much as possible I was also being open to experiencing fire on its level.

I make the point that I was still applying human perspective because I don't think we, as humans, ever fully get away from that human perspective. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to experience other forms of consciousness, but rather that we should acknowledge that on some level, at all times, we are interpreting a given situation through the lens of being human. With that said, by being aware of that lens, we can also open ourselves up to a given experience where we seek connection with something that isn't human and recognize when we are labeling interactions through the being human lens and put it aside to focus on the interaction. Let me share a very recent experience.

I'm currently working with the bacteria in my stomach. In my opinion, bacteria is pretty far removed from being human, but the probiotic bacteria we have in our bellies play an integral role in the digestion of our food and I want to work more closely with them via magic. In my meditations and my daily awareness I've been focusing on connecting with the bacteria. Instead of trying to label the bacteria through human terms, what I've done instead is used the feeling of digestion to make contact with the bacteria. This provides me a chance to engage them on their terms, through an activity they are doing. The experience of their consciously isn't remotely human and the communication that occurs is based more on feeling than on words or visualizations. And even with all that, I recognize I could still be applying human perspectives to the experience, but what I'm not doing is assuming a human consciousness on the other end, or human values, or human communication or anything else, because such an assumption takes away from the experience and the ability to genuinely connect with the bacteria.

I think the same applies to any kind of contact you make with something that isn't human. Even if that consciousness approaches you on human terms, using human communication, it shouldn't be assumed that it holds human values, culture, etc. It might, or it could be that its trying to meet us on our terms because its easier to communicate that way or because it wants to experience our consciousness. I figure even if an entity I'm interacting with has two arms, two legs, a a head, and a somewhat human shape, even that doesn't mean it has the same consciousness needs, etc. That can only be discovered, never assumed and when we apply anthropocentrism to such interactions we make assumptions which can be dangerous, and if nothing else are faulty by virtue of our own limited perspective.

Space/Time Entity Research

spacetime I'm currently working on the space/time magic correspondence course and I recently finished writing the lesson on space/time magic deities and entities. What fascinates me is that there are some deities and entities that help with space/time work, even in traditional spiritualities and practices. However, what I've also noted is that what a given entity focuses on is typically either time OR space, but not both together. This is important to understand because there is a conflation of space and time that occurs, where they are treated as one and the same, when in fact, they really aren't. While space and time obviously intersect, what each does and represents is distinct. When working with a deity or entity, understanding this distinction can be essential in order to effectively develop the relationship.

What I'm curious about, and where I hope readers of this blog will help, is discovering what space/time deities and entities you work with and how you work with them. I've listed ones such as Fotamecus and Ceronitis, as well as more traditional ones such as mahakala and the goetic Daemons who help with time, but if possible, I'd love it people could share in the comments what deities and entities they work with, when it comes to space/time magic work.


The Illusion of Omnipotence: an exploration of relationships with spirits

spiritworld I was recently reading one of the issues of Batwoman. In that issue, she's with Wonder Woman and she's hunting down Medusa. Before she does that she meets Pegasus, who is a son of Medusa. He's been attacked by another son of Medusa and although he is alive he has wounds which won't heal for a long, long time, because people don't believe in him anymore, and faith is an integral part of his existence, as well as integral to him being healed. He ultimately ask Wonder Woman to end his life because he will be in lots of pain otherwise, so she does, and afterwards Batwoman asks if he'll ever be able to come back and Wonder Woman says only if people believe in him, at which point Batwoman defiantly says she believes. It's an interesting statement she makes, but what interests me even more is that you see similar such statements about deities and spirits in other fictional works. For example in American Gods, Neal Gaiman talks about how each continent has its own versions of the gods, as well as how the belief in those continents affects the gods. David Eddings, in his books offers a similar metaphysics description of the gods and their reliance on the belief of their worshippers.

While I've seen this perspective offered up in Fiction, I think there's enough corresponding evidence to suggest that there's more to this concept than just fiction. For example, Judeo-Christian mythology has plenty of stories which demonstrate just how jealous Yahweh is, and how much he demands the faith of his worshippers be focused only on him. Then there's the various mythologies which suggest similar expectations on the part of the Gods. The desire for offerings also speaks to this concept having some basis in reality. And what all this suggests to me is two things:

1. Omnipotence is an illusion. What I mean by this is simple. There is no such thing as omnipotence on the part of the spirits or our part either. When there is a reliance on faith and belief, then there's also a recognition that the power that comes about as a result of said faith and belief can dry up. Indeed, if you think about it your average spirit won't exert too much power because there may be a longer term need for it. At the same time there is an expectation in the saying that those who help themselves are helped by God. Omnipotence isn't the name of the game with the spirit world. Rather it is about relationships and cultivating relationships that are mutually beneficial to all involved.

2. We have a symbiotic relationship with spirits. In Healing with Form, Energy, and Light, the author talks about how we have a symbiotic relationship with the spirits. They can help or hinder us, as we can do the same to them. Naturally he advocates taking a compassionate approach to such a relationship and I'm inclined to agree.  Such an approach does involve offerings, but also involves recognizing how the spirits mesh with our lives. We understand that the relationship isn't a one way street in either direction. Rather there is a give and take, a symbiotic connection that can worked with consciously not merely in the form of prayers and offerings, but deeper still into the actual connection we establish with given spirits and how that connection plays out in our everyday lives.

Instead of treating spirits as all powerful beings, what if we were to instead consider to just be different beings that have needs, which are different from ours, but nonetheless are something we can meet. Such an approach might change our relationship with a given spirit, in the sense that we'd consciously recognize how we were interacting with it, as well as how that played out in our lives. This could a healthy way to explore the relationship a given person with spirits.

Now for some people this may not work. They have a particular role that they place their relationship with the spirits and that role defines their interaction. I get that. What I suggest for the rest of you is that you take a moment to consider whatever your given relationship is with your spirits, deities, etc., and ask yourself what you want it to be, as well as what you are willing to give to make it become whatever it could be. For example, recently I've taken to thanking my spirits each day. A simple heartfelt thanks offered each day without expectation, but done simply to say thanks and be grateful. I do it not as a form of worship, but rather as an acknowledgement of their presence. It's subtly different and yet speaks to the relationship I wish to cultivate with them. And I find that they are not offended, but rather are pleased to be engaged with in such a way. The acknowledgement of the symbiosis is a profound acceptance of each other as integral presences within our respective existences.

My Altar to Elephant


I've always been fascinated with Elephants. Even as a young child, they were my favorite animal and still are to this day. Over the years, I've collected elephant statues, read up on elephants to learn more about how they act, and supported non-profits focused on helping Elephants. An acquaintance gifted me Elephant skin that she'd somehow found as well as bracelets made of Elephant hair. I use both in my magical workings.

In my system of Space/Time Magic, Elephant is one of the spirit guides I work with. He is the guardian of the gates of time and space, the guardian of the crossroads. Before I work with the web, I always ask his permission.

Today, Elephant asked me for his own altar and told me that if I visited the Goodwill store up the street, I'd find what I needed. So I drove up to the goodwill store, and I found a foldable bookshelf and he indicated that the top shelf was for him and anything associated with him. I brought it home, dusted it and prepped it for Elephant. The picture above contains everything related to Elephant that I have, other than the necklaces that I wear on occasion.  I also have a painting I did, as well as a picture of Elephant from an artist. I have a mask of Elephant also, which hangs in my office.

I don't know that I'd call Elephant my totem spirit (perhaps he is). I do know that Elephant is a presence in my life that I strongly resonate with. Someday I plan to get a tattoo of Elephant on my body as another way to honor his presence in my life, but this altar is a good start.

Some Thoughts about Oaths and Offerings

Dragon 1 This last weekend I attended a weekend workshop by RJ Stewart and Anastacia Nutt which is the Oak, Ash, and Thorn workshop for Faery work. I highly recommend their classes if you are wanting to learn more about magic in general as well about working with the Faery. In any case, they made some interesting points about oaths and offerings, which I want to share, as well as my own considerations of what was said. I've included pictures of my finished dragon tattoo, which is an offering I made to Dragon to honor his role in my life.

In regards to oaths, RJ noted that the stereotypical treatment of oaths is that when an oath is made, if its broken dire consequences occur and that it's implied its entirely on you to honor the oath. However he offered a different perspective on oaths, wherein an oath should be made in good faith, but that both parties need to do their part to honor the oath. In other words, if I make an oath to a particular spirit or deity, it's both on me and the deity to honor the oath. He said that the effort should be 50% from both sides. Not only did I find this to be a much more sensible explanation of oaths, but I also think there's some value to approaching oaths in that way. If an oath is entirely on the head of the person giving the oath, then there is an imbalance already involved because who or whatever the oath is being made to is expecting everything and providing nothing. On the other hand if the deity is also contributing to the upholding of the oath, then what occurs is a genuine relationship. I don't think I've come across an explicit explanation such as what RJ offers, but I find his explanation to make the most sense and certainly to be a better one than the stereotypical definition offered about oaths.

In regards to offerings, RJ noted that the reason spirits want food is because they get something back from our process of manifestation. The spirits can't cook food, are responsible for the initial growing process. However when we cook food we are doing something they can't do and changing the nature of the food, and this provides them a kind of sustenance or energy as a result. He recommends making an offering a week, and suggests moderation in this practice. Again this is something which makes sense to me and I like his approach to this particular practice. I have been integrating offerings into my daily work via the form of a prayer of thanks, but his suggestions about offerings are ones I'm also going to integrate.

I recognize that other people have their own perspectives on offerings and oaths, but I find that RJ's perspectives are what resonate with me, and I think it is important to discover and recognize how a given principle of magic manifests in your life. It may manifest differently for you than it would for others, or you may find that one definition makes more sense than another. Different people will have different perspectives on what works and why it works...the key is to find your own and understand and implement it.

Dragon 2

Hanaliel Haliel

Hanaliel HalielEst ash lath mor! Est tash mine koros sava! Iat ies Jah More Tu! Toros Sime Yehs Jah Kor!

Hanaliel Haliel guard us as we seek the gates to the heart of the universe Open the doors of the crossroads

Hanaliel Haliel Est ash lath mor! Hanaliel Haliel Guardian Angel of the door six winged messenger and guardian sword your jeweled eyes see all see into our hearts and judge us if we are not worthy to open the doors to the crossroads of creation Open to us who are sincere in our words actions and goals to connect with the spirits of the other worlds

Hanaliel Haliel Est ash lath mor!

The Ontological Reality of Deities, Spirits, and otherworld beings


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Wealth Magic Entity Experiment

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

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

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


Why Evocation isn't the One True Way to do magic

spirit guides I love it when people make arguments that a particular technique is the one true way that magic works. Or make the argument that the only way something works is through the intercession of spirits. Let me be clear, I do evocations, invocations, and work with spirits, but not all the magic I do involves spirits and I don't always get instructions on what to do or how to do it from spirits. I feel that evocation is much like any other technique of magic. There's a time and place for it and knowing when to use the technique is as much a part of what makes it effective as anything else.

Jason Miller shares his own perspective by arguing that we are spirits too. Much like him, I've never just practiced a Western Esoteric approach to magic. And Eastern practices emphasize the cultivation of one's own spiritual resources and power. But even without that influence, I'd argue that Western magic doesn't entirely support a spirits only approach to magic. A read through William G Gray's Magical Ritual Methods or Franz Bardon's Initiation into Hermetics shows a similar cultivation of one's own spiritual resources, both in relationship to connecting with spirits and in relationship to doing spiritual work that doesn't involve spirits.

I respect the spirits I work with and I'll acknowledge how they have impacted my life at any time. But I also have to acknowledge that I have done a lot of the work and that the work hasn't always involved the intercession of spirits. When its necessary I do work with spirits and magical entities to help me accomplish certain tasks or approach a situation from a perspective that isn't my own. But sometimes its also necessary to do magic drawing on your own experiences and resources. The wise magician recognizes that spirits, inner contacts, entities, etc, are allies who nonetheless expect you to do a lot of the work on your own. S/he also knows that its important to cultivate his/her own power and experiences and apply those to magic without always looking to allies to fix situations.

And to be honest, not all my evocations have involved spirits. Sometimes I've evoked people into my life, or evoked situations. Indeed, I think that evocation as a technique is quite useful, but much like any other technique it can be experimented with and improved upon if a person is willing to test it and see just what s/he can do with it.

There is no one true way to do magic, no one true technique that trumps everything else. And while spirits are powerful and should be respected, so are we. We are spirits manifest as flesh and we have something the spirits don't have. The ability to interact with the world in a much more direct way than the spirits can. In truth, the spirit human relationship is a symbiotic relationship, with both sides relying on each other. When we recognize this, we recognize as well as that what makes magic effective is as much the person as the spirit.

Can Jesus be for Pagans too?

jesus Sam Webster recently posted an article that has caused some controversy: Why you can't be worship Jesus Christ and be a Pagan. My own response to the article is admittedly based on my own history with Christianity, which has been a fairly adversarial relationship. I had my occult books burned by my mother, a fundamentalist Christian, when I was forcibly outed and I also received death threats for practicing magic. Even in later years I can't say that I really care for a religion which has many adherents that seem compelled to push their beliefs, and vision for the world on everyone else and I have resented it, when it has happened to me. I understood and appreciated where Sam is coming from, because my experiences with Christianity do not make me feel that my beliefs and choice of lifestyle is welcomed by people who adhere to that particular religion.

I am frankly skeptical as to how Jesus can be integrated into magical practices or into Paganism, especially given the commandments of his father, that there should be no other gods other than him. At the same time, I don't know that I can blame Jesus the deity for the faults of his worshippers. Indeed, having read the new and old testament a few times through, what has always struck me is that the parables of Jesus and the golden rule are actually insightful lessons that anyone, Christian or otherwise, could benefit from. And I'm also of the mind that if something calls to you and there is a meaningful experience there that contributes to your life, you need to honor it. So if someone tells me that Jesus is part of their pantheon, I can accept that it works for them. It would never work for me, but fortunately as long as they can accept that, we'll get along just fine.

At the same time, I don't think that Sam's article is all that different from how Christians would respond to the idea of Jesus being part of a Pagan pantheon. Back in my days of being a Christian, I remember telling a friend about the Greek myths I was reading and how there was one myth that made me think of the Christian God and made me wonder if there was some relationship there. I remember his mother telling me, quite fiercely, that I shouldn't read Greek myths (or fantasy or Science Fiction) and that having such discussions were sacrilegious. Not surprisingly such close mindedness was one reason I left the Christian religion, and its various sects behind. And while I don't assume all Christians are that way, I've encountered enough of them that are, that I could just as easily see them arguing that a pagan who worships Jesus is a fifth columnist or that his/her belief isn't genuine.

But you know, it doesn't matter what Sam, or I, or some Christian thinks about what you believe. What matters is what you think and how you choose to accept it (or not). I learned long ago that looking for acceptance from others was not a fruitful path. There will always be someone who will say what you believe is wrong, heretical, etc. And you can argue against them, but likely no one will budge. So share your own opinion and perspective, like I'm doing here, and then leave it at that. In the end, the only person who's opinion matters is yourself, and the relationship you have with your pantheon of choice.

What's under the Mask?

mask The other day, in a teleconference call for the Process of Magic class I was asked if I thought a deity represented access to something beyond what it was in and of itself. It was an intriguing question and it prompted me to consider my own perspective/experiences of deities as well as what I've read in various books.

When I work with a spiritual entity of any sort, I recognize it's own existence in and of itself. But I've also noticed that various entities also represent specific functions. This is true not just for deities, but also Angels, Daimons, etc. On the one hand, this can be attributed to the need humans have to label what they deal with and/or be able to explain the usefulness of a particular entity. On the other hand, it could also be true that the particular entity really does represent those particular attributes and has presented itself to people accordingly in order to provide its knowledge to those people.

On a deeper level, however, I also think that any given spiritual entity represents access to something deeper than it, something that is so primal that it may not be easily understood or experienced. Jung's archetype theory applies here. In one sense Loki the trickster is his own entity, and yet in another sense Loki is a facet of a deeper spiritual force that is the trickster on a more primal level. And when we find other entities that have similar characteristics of the trickster, like Coyote, what we see on one level, are the masks of that deeper spiritual force. Coyote and Loki are still their own entities, but they are also representatives of that deeper spiritual force, or masks, if you will that provide a filter for the spiritual force and a face that is understandable to the people who are working or interacting with that energy.

It's also important to recognize that there is a cultural facet attached to the archetype. Even though Loki and Coyote might represent the Trickster, there are culture specific aspects which don't make them swapable for each other. In other words, Coyote will have different cultural characteristics that are suited specifically for the culture where he represents the trickster. However, with the cultural aspect accounted for there is enough similarity in terms of what the trickster does that we can see access to something deeper, something that is underneath the mask. The question is can we understand it?

I think whatever understanding is had occurs at a very primal level. It is something that makes sense, but not in a necessarily rational manner. And when you consider how rational people have become, how analytical they are, the necessity for having a mask is apparent because the mask is for the analytical, rational sides of ourselves that need something to cling to in order to understand and work with that deeper spiritual power.

Is Evocation disrespectful to spirits?


I'm reading The Complete Book of Demonolatry by S. Connolly. One of the points the author makes is that demonolatry finds the practice of evocation to be disrespectful to demons and as a result doesn't use it. Their perspective is that evocation involves summoning a demon against its will to perform a task, while threatening it with Angels and other sundry threats in order to induce it to do said task. And I agree that when evocation is done that particular way it is disrespectful. That particular approach to evocation can be found in a variety of grimoires that are based off hermetic Christian practices that ironically enough rarely involved doing the practice of magic, but loved to focus on the theory, as well as provide the occasional homage to the church to avoid being burned. Sadly that hasn't stopped people in more contemporary times from utilizing those practices.

I've never agreed with the class approach to evocation, and I also disagree with Joseph Lisiewski's assertion that if you don't do evocation the way it was classically done, its not effective. I think there is a respectful way to do evocation that doesn't force an entity to work for you, but instead involves working with the entity cooperatively. I've discussed such approaches in more depth in Multi-Media Magic, but it's worth conversing on it here as well.

When I do initial work with a given entity, I do an invocation to make contact and establish whether or not a working relationship can be developed. Once that initial contact is made I ask the entity's permission to evoke it. If it is open to being evoked it provides me a personalized sigil or symbol that I can use to evoke it. I usually integrate that sigil into a painting of my own design, which is used as an offering to the entity and a gateway to its home plane of existence. When the evocation is done, it is done by opening the gateway and allowing the entity through to do whatever it will end up doing. And even then I don't command it to do something. I make a deal, where I provide something in return for it doing something for me. There is an equivalent exchange, so to speak.

I have found this approach to be respectful, and from what I can tell the entities I evoke also find it respectful. I get where demonolaters are coming from and why they'd view the practice of evocation to be disrespectful, especially in regards to the classic approach to evocation, but I think an approach to evocation which is structured around creating a relationship of respect isn't disrespectful. The misuse of a technique shouldn't determine if the technique is in and of itself an inherently wrong technique and if a given technique is done in a way that a person considers wrong, there's always the option of changing the technique.That's my take on it, but others might disagree and that's fine. I do know that my evocations have always worked and I've yet to have an unhappy or angry entity as a result of doing said evocations.

Conceptualization and Entities

Recently I got involved in a conversation where I was asked if I'd ever encountered a spirit that hadn't been written about or encountered in mythology. It was an interesting question to ask, and I responded that I hadn't encountered such an entity and I didn't think it possible, without having some humancentric frame of reference to use in context to the entity. In the subsequent conversation I discussed the conceptualization of entities (which I'll explain in more detail below) and the person I was having the conversation with also shared a story of an entity he encountered that ended up using humancentric frames of reference to connect with the person.

When I talk about conceptualization of an entity I'm referring to the mediation of the entity into a context that is understandable by your average person. If there is no frame of reference it would be very hard to connect with a given entity. In the case of the conversation above, the person was given a name by the entity and ended up researching that name and finding it attributed to a company called Accubar. Whether the entity is the corporate presence of that company, or simply used that name to describe itself is debatable, but it could not engage the person without providing some frame of reference, some concept to help that person understand it.

A concept is a frame of reference used to define an idea, entity, etc,. so that it can be understood and related to. Without a concept you don't have connection. An entity needs to establish itself as a concept that a person can understand in order to relate to the person. The concept provides common ground for the entity and person, because the entity also uses the concept to provide itself a context by which it can interact with a given person. And that's something that should be considered carefully. The benefit of using a concept is that it provides mediation both ways. The entity is meditated into a context that helps the person understand it, but the person is also mediated by the interaction with that concept, so that the entity can also relate to him/her.

I don't think its possible to connect with an entity without some kind of context provided to mediate that connection. There needs to be a medium that enables communication and the possibility of understanding that can come with communication. Without that medium, there is no connection, no way to really verify a contact. The context frames the interaction and provides a way to meaningfully interact with a given entity. Both parties benefit from the conceptualization of an entity into a form that makes sense to the person contacting the entity.

That's my opinion, but its based on my own experiences, as well as looking at the interaction with given act of invocation and evocation. It's also based off the realities of human interaction and limitations.

Respect and magical entities

In a recent post, Mike asked what people's experiences with the Goetia were like. I found the responses interesting, because most people described having problematic encounters with them. I've never had any of the problems the people mentioned in my own encounters with the goetia, but it likely helps that I've never done traditional evocation with them either, where you command them to appear and threaten and coerce them into working for you. In fact, I've never really understood the appeal of doing such evocations and have always focused on a more cooperative approach to any magical entity I work with (whether goetic demon or something else). I'd rather establish a relationship of respect and mutual benefit with the entities I work with. Consequently I've never experience any of the problems mentioned in the comments on Mike's post. If anything, I've had an excellent track record with the entities I work with. I've given them what they wanted and they've given me what I wanted. Everyone's happy.

Respect goes a long way, with people, animals, and magical entities. Instead of doing a traditional evocation, why not take a more respectful approach? Instead of being adversaries, why not work toward each other's benefit? And if nothing else why not critically question the cultural and historical beliefs that inform such an adversarial relationship?


Why I like to work with the Goetia (and other spirits)

In a recent blog post, Jason Miller argued that one of the things we need to the gravity of is the goetia. His point is that working with goetia has defined how people work with spirits and that it can become an obstacle to discovering your magical path. I agree with him, but in thinking about it, I realized that one of the reasons I like to work with the goetia and other established spirits sometimes is that they may not be the most powerful entities out there, but they are convenient to work with, in the sense that people do know about them and have some awareness of what expectations are involved.

But with that said, I think its important to expand your horizons. I do work with Bune, but I also work with Dragon. I have worked with Purson, but I've also worked with other time and space related entities. I've worked with the classic elemental spirits, and I've also chosen to explore the possibility of working with other elements.

There's value in going with what's tried and true, but there is something to be said for leaving the convenient behind and seeing what other spirits are out there. Thus lately I've been working with the planets, both in terms of contacting the archangels, but also working with the spirits of the planets in and of themselves. But you could just as easily work with Franz Bardon's lists of spirits, or with spirits from other grimoires.

At the same time having hopped on the Bune band wagon myself, I can say that choosing to work with him has been useful because he's getting so much notice. If everyone's working with him, there's probably a reason for that.