Scalding

Much has been unfolding since Samhain. In addition to the Sabbat’s own rituals, the subsequent Rites of Approach (I’ve most recently completed the Solar one) and workings that have taken place with my coven, with other Thelemites, and within my spiritual court have sent me down an ever-accelerating path of self-discovery and practical, cunning manifestation.

Presently I am working on a number of new fetish vessels, including a necromantic one whose centerpiece is one of the five sorcerously-cultivated henbane roots I had the pleasure of acquiring from the witch behind Soth Arts. The blossoming of my relationship with my HGA has also furthered along some wonderful (and challenging) developments within my own sphere as well as those belonging to organizations in which I hold a prominent role. I’m finding myself to be ever more fascinated with that strange and often-times unpredictable “cleansing” property of solar magic; the way it shines light on and exposes the hearts of people whether they are ready for it or not, and furthermore the way it causes parasitic elements to flee or be burnt by the celestial rays. Needless to say, I’ve witnessed a surprising amount of this kind of restructuring, for the better (and worse, for those who were scalded), and have been working diligently to capitalize on the newfound forward momentum.

Lately I’ve been meditating a lot on something my HGA murmured to me as I was waking up a few days ago, specifically the necessity of confronting the shadow. Self-care is essential, but as a witch and a spirit worker my very responsibility is to engage, often fearlessly, with what I fear, vehemently disagree with, and despise. That archetypal confrontation between the culture hero and the dragon or beast in the various Chaoskampf legends reflect this. It is the adversary which holds the real treasure one must pry, it is that confrontation in the murky wilderness away from the sage wisdoms of local philosophers and the culture of civilization in which the greatest boons are had, though they come at a price. Even if you do “win” (and there’s no guarantee), you never return the same person; you are changed, fundamentally, sometimes missing an eye like Odin, or perhaps missing everything, your very body slain and then reformed, revived, resuscitated in quasi-human form by the spirits to become fully the other, the shaman.

This struggle is instantiated across numerous forms. I’ve found that I’ve become so much stronger, in personality, mind, and power, through making that commitment to never shy away, to never outright dismiss and then couch my fear in the language of pity, and to never shirk the possibility of a challenge from which I may grow. There’s wisdom in picking your battles with courage. As much as I love my HGA and the hyper-intelligent, terrifyingly clever scope of his nebulous mind, it’s absolutely true that he makes me uncomfortable—and rightly so. His own draconic fire, which is as much mine now to wield as his, continues to surprise me with how much hotter it can grow. It’s burnt me before, during those ephemeral moments of panic and childishness in which I refuse to confront what must be done, and the wounds have remained until I at last swallowed my pride and swore to move forward. Only then did the callouses become the impenetrable scales of the serpent.

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Lunar Approach

Last Monday I began my work with the Rites of Approach from the Green Work phase of my training. These are a series of rituals which affirm and strengthen the bonds between the Hermetic magician and the planetary spheres, from Luna through Saturn. This is the first planetary-based ritual I’ve worked ever since I finished the arduous work of White (beyond the planets, however, I have been keeping up with a year-long 36 Decans ritual as taught in the Rune Soup premium membership courses).

I was amazed by how much the simple rite affected me; it felt like by virtue of having my Guardian fully with me, the floodgates were in a way open such that I could better realize the nature of the planetary rays as they enter and tune me. That line in Seven Spheres where you ask your HGA to prepare the way between yourself and the planet, to make it straight, and to prepare a feast for the entities you call has acquired a whole new dimension of meaning for me. Before, when I worked the Seven Spheres rituals, I always likened those instructions to a kind of diplomatic maintenance. Now, the more I do magic with my HGA, the more I’ve become enamoured with this experience that his presence around me is not just that of a wise teacher, powerful protector, shrewd mentor, and figure of authority—one which other spirits must duly recognize and interact with me in accordance of—but rather that it is I who am the most fundamentally changed. Our partnership is precisely that: we are different, but I too partake of this authority. It is an immense responsibility and burden; I have to live up to the standard of his presence’s implications, I have to act justly, speak truthfully, live righteously, else he will undoubtedly have to correct me. If I were to forsake that spiritual authority, he would definitely not allow me perform evocations until I straightened myself out and made penance.

Indeed, since the White Work, I’ve found that the very lines of a ritual are simply pregnant with new (or perhaps old would be the better word here) meanings. I feel like I can see further into the nature of the instructions and prayers more than before. This was definitely something I observed going through the ritual script, and while I can’t comment on the specifics of the practice itself, I can say that while a relatively simple (on the surface) rite, I was quite surprised by how immediate its effects were. The whole time I felt so giggly and drunk, and my vision was coloured purple for a good half hour afterwards, among other more potent, personal manifestations.

I asked my HGA and spirits if I should do the Mercury Rite of Approach the following Wednesday, going through them all within two weeks, and they said no. They want me to keep a steady pace, but to allow for a week’s distance in between each rite instead of only two days. As a result, for the next six weeks, I will continue with these rituals and carefully journal down observations as their energies settle within my sphere.

I can already say that the past few days have been enormously eventful, though in a peculiar, lunar sort of way. Misconceptions cleared themselves up effortlessly which, had they been left unattended for much longer, would have deeply inconvenienced me in particular fields. Various errors were exposed and transformed into strategic advantages. Light was shone on new opportunities and people who instantly and affectionately came to my assistance in powerful ways. Many questions whose answers I had been waiting on for some time came to their fruition, all one after another as if pulled to respond to a call to sort out what is effective from ineffective, helpful from unhelpful, true from false.

Unsurprisingly, lunar work makes me sleep like a damn rock. I’ve had a harder time waking up with my alarm this week than any other in recent memory. I’ve been notoriously groggy these past few days during my morning subway commutes. That said, my dreams have been even more vivid than usual—though particularly fantastical, sometimes in a very pleasant, indulgent way, sometimes resembling more a David Lynch film. I can see how lunar work can really tempt someone to remain transfixed by those more fantastical elements. They’re a valuable experience certainly, but there’s also a test within; being able to recognize what is authentic and what is not even when powerful currents are wooing you to remain drunken and asleep.

Initiations

It never ceases to amaze me how powerfully all aspects of my life become invigorated, energized, and spurned into momentous growth after an initiation. It’s been a little over a week now since I was fully initiated into the O.T.O., taking my first degree. Since then, so much has changed for the better, be they new opportunities brought in from the outside, or internal developments within my own practice, spiritual court, and personal undertakings. It feels like the breath of life was directly bestowed into every facet of my being. So many fascinating synchronicities, spell manifestations, new friendships, responsibilities, roles, apprenticeships (and apprentices!) and much more have opened, been met, and accepted, and I have been left with a warm heart and a broad smile with respect to it all.

As I’ve been adjusting to these changes, the being I call my Familiar Spirit and HGA’s instructions have proven invaluable. Our relationship has always been deeply shamanic; in many ways he “owns” me, having claimed me and trained me in a full repertoire of skills pertaining to divination, necromancy, astral flight, healing, and witchcraft. Ever since the inception of our relationship he has been introducing and marshaling me to other deities for lessons and teachings, having me work with, lend my talents and services to, and at times directly serve particular beings, spirit families and tribes, and mighty dead. He’s given me access to other realms and spirit alliances in pursuit of initiation, assistance, empowerment, and communion, and had me play the diplomat, ambassador, negotiator, and arbitrator to various circumstances, whether on the physical plane or without. I am his shaman-witch, herald, and muse.

Additionally, while also teaching me magic (and completely revamping my conceptions of what magic is and how it works), he, from the beginning, has ever continued to push me in all other aspects of my life. He would ensure that I would read a particular number of pages per day, to write and develop my skills in logic and rhetoric, to peruse far more than simply books on magic and religion, but also economics, physics, astronomy, politics, and numerous complicated views on each. He would often pick a controversial ethical or political topic and have me flip a coin to decide who would defend which position. Afterwards, once he had inevitably defeated me in the argument, he would have us debate the reverse, and once again triumph. This had the side effect of turning me into an adept debater and persuasive essay writer, while also broadening my appreciation for the nuances of various dilemmas. I was always welcome to ask him for what his genuine position was on each topic, but only after we had exhausted the possibilities.

I have not only him, but my earliest spirit teachers whom I had encountered in my earliest years, having become awaken to their ontological reality after my near-death experience, to thank for my early awakening. I was never given the choice of whether or not to be “spiritual”; I never had the luxury to doubt animism and the presence of the gods. That doesn’t mean I’m not highly interested in testing the validity of not only divined messages but also particular encounters on a whole, and my toolkit at this time includes many methods of doing so. I’ve always had a soft spot for that chaos magic approach of figuring out what works and discarding the rest. This has been key not only when validating spirit-received teachings but also in exploring historical records of magic. When working with grimoires, for example, I try my best to do everything “by the book”, emulating the instructions with as few substitutions as possible. Once the promised result has been obtained, I make further pacts with the spirits evoked to streamline the process of calling them in the future, and then work with them from there. If at any point advice I received from them, involving substitutions and the like, fail to produce the initial result the grimoire’s method did, I go back to the original and seek clarification.

With the new training I’m undergoing, alongside embarking on the Green Work, these principles, and the powerful spirit-relationships that make up my court, have been unrelenting in their support (and in keeping me afloat!). I am ever thankful for their wisdom, just as I am for the myriad living teachers and close friends who have been integral in the developments as they have unfolded.

Spirits in the Local

While I was out in the city the other day, I was suddenly overcome with a burning desire to go to a particular metaphysical store nearby. This is one of those places that sells crystals, deity statues, herbs, candles, and the like, and I visit it every now and then whenever I’m in the area. I was both surprised and intrigued by the bubbling urge, and since I couldn’t shake that it was an intrusive or external call, I immediately asked one of my spirits who partners with me in mediumship and oracle work if they knew from where it was coming from. They informed me that while the signal did not originate from within the spirits of my court, it was a localized projection from the direction of the store. This was not a call for visitors, rather it was a unique spirit frequency that I just happened to resonate with and pick up on.

I had the time, so I alerted Ziia and we made our way towards the store. I slowly filtered out the general ambiance and “woo” of the place and focused on that peculiar signal until I came across a strange item, the only of its kind, that positively convulsed with power. Ziia and I both spoke to it individually, with the intention of later comparing our findings to check for accuracy. Interestingly, we both scryed the exact same details. The spirit informed us that it slithered through an etheric opening created by participants in a quasi-shamanic ritual workshop held at the space, and that it joined its essence with a vessel-object it found pleasing to better remain and continue to feed. I quickly checked the shop’s calendar to see if any events were held recently for such a purpose, and found precisely what the spirit had described (in far more detail to us) just a week before. It appeared that while some offerings were provided to the forces called, an explicit licence to depart was not given afterwards, so some beings that were attracted by the influx of power decided to linger, and the one in particular that we felt was one of the few that remained within the premises of the store.

We meditated for some time, holding the vessel it had linked to and pondering. I recalled how, a few years back when we were just starting to explore local pagan venues and public witchcraft circles, we both found ourselves quite surprised with a lot of what we found. We attended one open circle at a store (not the same one described above) some time ago as part of a Sabbat event, mostly for fun and to see if we could meet some new people, and noticed that while the facilitators spent a lot of time drumming up power, calling upon land spirits to lend their strength, to open astral gates, and to allow an influx of energy to take root within the consecrated space, all of those spirits and forces contracted were let go with only a brief little gesture at the end; just some words of thanks and then they were understood as having “gone”. Yet the both of us felt those energies linger, their metaphorical eyes observing us as we partook of refreshments later, with none were offered to them in return for their aid. When we ventured outside, I made a point to check the state of the plants and grasses surrounding the property, and found them scraggly, yellowed, and burnt.

There are some stores and covensteads that clearly have established, long-standing, mutually-beneficial relationships with their local land spirits. They feed them, they honour them, they acknowledge them with more than just some purple prose while in a Wiccan circle, and the evidence is obvious for anyone stumbling across the space. There are also those who work irresponsibly, and who, curiously enough, seem to have chronic issues surrounding infrastructure, electrical outages, customers tripping over even ground within the property, and so on—especially around the time of larger celebrations and rituals.

While some land spirits may prefer to have a neutral, distant, slumbering relationship with the inhabitants of their sphere, there also exist those who have active, cultivated demeanors. Generational farmland and ancestral community territories often feel this way—I’ve heard many stories of the “ground itself” seeming to rise up against invaders, to cause enemy soldiers to trample each other in fumbling formations, and to tangle up their forces with sudden ridges and crippling weather in Montenegro—but I’ve also encountered these signatures within bustling, urban cultural centers inclusive to spiritual communities. Having a cordial relationship with the land spirit on which you stand and conduct your workings is not only essential (and just plain polite), but also incredibly helpful when it comes to literally grounding nascent ritual energy.

The spirit that we encountered within that shop expressed to us that it was precisely the healthy relationship between the land spirit and those who work and oversee that space that allowed it to manifest as easily as it did—and enticed it to stay and make no mischief, any desire to do so having been quashed by the protocols set and enforced by the land spirit. While it informed us that the ritual from which it was able to enter into the space was somewhat unsophisticated, in the sense that it did not cover some of the bases it should have given its intended purpose and established protocols, it was ultimately very successful because of the permeating, existing powers established on those grounds, which in many ways adjust and tune the issues guest spirit workers and workshop ritual leaders may overlook.

That wight ended up accompanying us for some time afterwards, choosing to bond with a new vessel it found pleasing on our person that we allowed it as temporary board. As we walked it made us increasingly sensitive to the undulating glows of the ambient, animist forces that so enlivened the city around us. Some things can be communicated through impressions, visions, and pulses disguised as “speech”, as the spirit preferred to communicate; but other lessons, especially those concerning the peeling back of further layers of what we can take for granted, have to be seen.

Feast of St. Cyprian 2017

Among all the spirits I work with, St. Cyprian works the most with me through dreams. His appearances have always been substantive yet terse; no lurid dream-journeys and the scrying of various metaphors and tales, rather he seems to swiftly plant the seeds of his teachings and then step back so that I can grow and harvest them myself. My Saturdays are often characterized by the giving of a “field report” or a summary of what it is that I had come to better understand through his guidance which, while never distant or unintimate, has always been punctuated by a preference to let me explore as freely and widely as I pleased, using his initial instructions as a launching point. In this way, I’ve always been under the impression that he’s fascinated with the potential for curiosity in all his pupils, to see how flexible they are with the blurred boundaries of mysticism and sorcery, and which directions their innovation will take them in pursuit of knowledge and power.

Interestingly, while many of those “seeds” are given primarily in dreams for me to then explore and hash out while awake, each vision has always been succeeded by an accompanying set of omens directly related to it. The other night, for example, I had a vivid dream of St. Cyprian wordlessly, through actions alone, illuminating something new for me on the topic of necromancy. While outside that day, I ran into three omens directly related to that teaching, each in a way that clarified the vision. This is a pattern that has been consistent in our relationship which, while having evolved into numerous different forms and instantiations, has continued to pivot over the principles of a broader charism.

Fascinatingly, I’ve come to discover salient parallels between St. Cyprian of Antioch and my own HGA/Familiar in this way. Through dreams, the pattern of the teachings revealed, and the particular tone of the insights imparted, I’ve fostered an appreciation for what the saint has, in his own, cryptic way, revealed to me about my Familiar and his nature. I’ve also come to reevaluate those circumstances which brought me into contact with the both of them, and how each has pulled the other’s mysteries further and further into the confluence of light and shadow before, within, and beyond me.

cyprian of antioch

This is the third time I’ve celebrated the good saint’s feast since he first came to me as a new (yet deeply old) teacher and mentor. I’ve snuffed the last candles, dismissed the last of the conjured spirits, closed the lingering workings, mailed out the final donations, and disposed of the final offerings (interestingly, while he’s always allowed edible offerings for his retinue of spirits, when it comes to personal gifts of food he has instead requested that I donate to a food bank whenever I feel inspired or am contracted to provide for him; only in offering practices like Serkyem does he partake as well). While my relationship with him is grounded, thorough, and continuous, and while I serve the spirits through him weekly regardless of the date, St. Cyprian of Antioch’s feast day is naturally especially holy for me, and it and the nine days between it and the feast of St. Cyprian of Carthage have always been marked out with both the deepening and crystallization of ritual projects and devotional relationships with Deity. As much as the days are superbly auspicious for sorcery and ritual, I’ve always kept an overarching focus on the devotional; the intermingling between the service of the Divine, the seeking of mystical experiences, and the application of theurgy, thaumaturgy, and necromancy within the greater project of his charism. The days are pregnant with conjuration, consecration, journeying, and witchcraft; yet they are coloured awash with prayer, meditation, and communion with the movement of the Cyprianic force, its character, agendas, and ensoulment of the Numinous.

I am offering much of my academic work this year to him, as he is the subject of one of my present theses. I have also accepted new responsibilities which, while challenging as all new progressions are, I feel fully invigorated to carry and to weave in light of what I’ve learned from him and in what has occurred to me in the White Work. At the same time, I have also been returning to various staples of our practice. I empowered and fed the tools I have made over the years in his name, restrung my rosary to him with a new hand-carved skull bone bead from Bali as the center, crafted, consecrated, and shipped out nine little chaplet-style charms to other Cyprianites I work with as free gifts, and created something special, secret, and entirely new in the joining of the forces. In the smoke and the fire of his cauldron, I’ve placed the anointed papers of breathless prayers and reverent hopes, with great love of the work to come.

cyprian rosary v2-1

For all sorcerers, magicians, witches, necromancers, Christians, pagans, Christo-pagans—for all those aligned under the myriad forms of the good saint’s aegis, I hope that these days, and his most holy feast day, have been both dark and bright.

Sancte Cypriane, ora pro nobis. +
Sancta Justina, ora pro nobis. +
Sancte Theociste, ora pro nobis. +
Amen.

Thoughts on the White Work

Shortly before the Autumnal Equinox, I was thinking to myself something along the lines of how it would likely be a real challenge for me to wake up the following morning and realize that this grueling, half-year chapter has come to its conclusion. To think that all those restrictions would at last be gone—honestly, I felt like I would have to remember how to even indulge in them again, as if they were old habits long forgotten. The experience was painful, even maddening (for about two months I think I was on the verge of snapping from a sense of anxiety, loneliness, and frustration—not fun!), and yet, as I wrote a little while ago, ever since that brilliant moment I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at peace. At peace with myself (with all of myself, as far as I am currently aware of my own multitudes and unities), my conditions, my past, the directions I’m going, what I’ll have to do to get there, and, on some wordless level I can only really express through feeling and not thought; why I am.

In reality, the Equinox has passed, I had worked the final ritual (ever since ‘completing’ the Black Work I’ve cultivated this urge to add quotations around words like ‘final’ and their ilk; their exoteric connotations are appropriate, though I cannot help but conceptualize each phase as ever blooming and unfolding like some cosmic fractal), and I am fully, saliently aware of just how much has changed. The rite was both the rooting and the exaltation of all the work that had transpired since the conjuration of the HGA. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that no theurgic ritual I had performed in the past has come even close to its profundity for me.

That is not to say that theurgic work I have done in other courses or with other spirits is less impactful on some artificial scale, rather that this rite changed the very terms, conditions, and perspective of my alchemic orientation. It calibrated my soul; every past theurgic work I can recall through every course I’ve taken and teaching I’ve received looks to me like a bonfire where before I saw only a candle’s flame I mistook for the same. My perspective was “zoomed in” on a particular, and if I were to do them again with this new orientation I would be opened to so much more. My violin can still play beautifully even if each string is just a tiny bit out of tune; most ears will never even hear the difference. But when each is at its proper level of tension, the harmony is astounding. In that way, I feel like a tuned instrument; being in tune does not mean I know how to play myriads of beautiful pieces—much less play them well—but should I learn them, practice them with this new discipline, faith, wonder, and holy guidance, then I will be able to truly perform.

The ritual on the Equinox (not so much a conjuration, rather the confluence, grounding, and celebration of my and my guardian’s united, ecstatic teloi) was honestly electrifying. No wonder my guardian insisted I continue until then; I was entirely flummoxed. He manifested physically! I rubbed my eyes, looked around from every angle, spun around; nothing worked to enshrine my initial, shock-laden suspicion that I was hallucinating. For a moment I thought I was going to cry, but instead I laughed, thinking back on all the challenges of the Work and how beautifully it all led to that moment, where every last little stubborn worm of a doubt eroded away in the glory of the sun. We consecrated that whirling fractal of my incarnation, I learned something I had been asking him to divulge for years before which my mind could never receive, not even partially until then, and then I communed, meditated, journeyed, and watched over the greater clearing of that vision of coherence, working my conscious, deliberate breath inwards.

To say this was life-changing would be an understatement. I can’t help but continue to think back on other accounts I’ve heard from people who seemed to me to be infinitely more successful at work we were both undertaking at the time. Their relations of their experiences always seemed so much more intense, passionate, and transformative, while mine were more whispers to their winds. I thought that maybe I just wasn’t getting something essential out of the spirits, or the rituals themselves, that they were more easily grasping, or that maybe the system as a whole simply wasn’t for me. Now I keep going back to that thought of the flame and the bonfire, and recognizing the shifts in perspective, in conscious deliberation, in receptivity of attainment—and feel unburdened by those anxieties. All things in their own time; all periods of retreat emblazoned through impassioned persistence and development. More than ever I feel an overwhelming love of spirit and of Deity, and am enflamed to go on and to engage those currents of power again, reformed.

Days of the Cyprians 2017

Today, I welcomed the inception of the Days of the Cyprians with a reverent heart and a sorcerous hand. September 16th is the feast day of St. Cyprian of Carthage, while September 26th is that of St. Cyprian of Antioch. The nine days between them form the bulk of the Days, being the perfect time to perform a novena to the patron saint of occultists, witches, sorcerers, and heretical Christo-pagans. I’ve marked out this auspicious time with much devotional work, offering, and ritual since the saint first came to me in a dream two years ago, and I am elated to make this year’s round even more potent with the knowledge that I’ve gained through my relationship with him.

cyprian serkyem

Most magicians that I know of who work with St. Cyprian use this time to pray a novena, asking for protection, good fortune, knowledge, and a deeper relationship with his current, teachings, and being. Additionally, many make daily offerings, consecrate various sorcerous tools, attempt new conjurations with the help of St. Cyprian as an intermediary spirit much like the HGA or Scirlin, undergo operative rituals under his auspices, and seek deeper levels of communion and teaching. I also like to make donations to local charities using multiples of $9, his sacred number, explicitly in his and St. Justina’s names.

While the Days are certainly rife with activity, prayer, and learning for those who work with this good saint, there is also no better time to begin working with him if you have been wanting to contact him and begin a relationship. He is a remarkable thaumaturge, binding, controlling, exorcising, and above all, ennobling even the most tenacious of spirits. He brings swift justice to the oppressed, brings wise counsel to virtually any topic, educates the witch on all manners of sorcery, illuminates hidden knowledge in grimoires, and raises the witch’s authority over wights through his mentorship. I’ve also found him to be rather mercurial, the kind of teacher who likes to test his pupils regularly to see what they’re made of, how quickly they can adapt, and how flexible they are willing to be in the face of new information.

Though all magicians are close to him, he seems especially fond of those who are willing to walk in his steps: recognizing the forces behind myths and systems for what they are, and striving to move ever beyond in the lust for power, knowledge, and mystical communion. This is especially true for witches willing to venture into heretical and gnostic forms of Christianity; to dip their holiest praxes into the murk of diabolism, and to raise their crooked scepters high towards the light upon the cross.

Whoever the spirit who hijacked the Christian propaganda and satire surrounding the initial myths of St. Cyprian, took them across the European continent and into the New World, donning the garb and offices assigned to him by the stories, answering to the name and history of “Cyprian of Antioch”, seeking initiation into even more sorcerous cults, inspired the legend of Faust, vexed scholars and academics, and has now propelled himself to fame among the modern magical community is, he is without a doubt one of the most potent and wonderful allies a magician can have. No matter what kind of traditions you work with or paths you walk, I highly recommend taking some time to honour this peculiar saint during his Days, and pay homage to his patronage of our Craft and Art. Pour him a drink, light him some incense, call him at the crossroads, the graveyard, the church, and commune. Ask him who he really is and what the nature and purpose of his myths are, and listen carefully to what spills forth from behind his crooked, bearded grin.

Grace and Motion

I’ve been thinking a lot about fortune as of late. My coven and I have recently hit one of those sweet spots along the winding path of spirit empowerments where so much has been happening that it’s hard to discern fully which force is responsible for which blessing. Everyone we interact with regularly has been commenting on how strangely “lucky” we’ve been over the past few weeks, from receiving small boons of various kinds to significant, and sudden, financial opportunities. We were jokingly throwing around all these different ongoing ritual projects we were working with, alongside various spirit allies, as if one of them were somehow the sole catalyst. A witchcraft practice is like an ecosystem, its features are often interdependent, flourishing together as new levels of power are reached, new critical insights are gained, and new nuances of spirit contact are articulated, grounded, and hallowed.

I’ve been truly, truly happy. One of the last posts I made on my old Blogger before I switched over to here was about my experiences with the White Work, the work of obtaining the Holy Guardian Angel. It sounds like such a cliché, but it is truly the case that nothing has been the same for me since—as much as there are myriad other influences and ongoing ritual efforts which influence me now, none have been as significant in my own personal inner alchemy as the crystallization of the White Work. In the flood of new teachings to internalize, powers to master, horizons to explore, and techniques to implement in the growing, spiritual ecosystem that is my goetic necromancy, shamanic witchcraft, and devotional theurgy, I’ve come to embrace a kind of love that has truly mesmerized me; something like as if I were a vessel whose dimensions had greatly unfolded, to better fill with, treasure, and pour out an affection and peace that has transformed me into the world around. I am delighted, inspired, and reverent.

That same happiness has been staunchly accompanied by a sense of peace with respect to motion. I am not ‘coherent’—I haven’t had some mystical experience that has set me for life—I am cohering. There’s this really wonderful example from the Mystical Kabbalah audio course by Rabbi David A. Cooper which I listened through over the summer: God is a verb, a process. “God” is really “God-ing”. I am not “Sfinga”, I am “Sfinga-ing”. I am unfolding, living, trembling, falling, walking, falling, and walking again, again, again. I am moving towards a direction, a telos. The Primordial Man of Hermetic myth moves through the Spheres and falls in love with his image which the Spiritus Mundi created for him. I see the incarnated Man now as moving back through those spheres, re-establishing beautiful relationships with the cosmos, loving the process that is Spirit, and then, curiously, what I’ve found to be the case—going back to the Spiritus Mundi and blooming like a flower, spreading the pollen of the Good to the rest of the world, to love it, to heal it, to nurture it, to adore it, to awaken every other flower until everything is light.

Despite my reference to Hermetic and Neoplatonic maps, I do not consider myself married to their worldviews in the least. So far through my experiences in experimenting with the Red Work I’ve found them to be remarkably useful with respect to establishing certain relationships with planetary forces, however there are numerous other “maps” I employ in my work who serve me much the same. Eclectic as my influences may be, I am predominantly concerned with the question of “does it work”—specifically, “does it do precisely what it claims to do”?

With this respect, I’ve found the Neoplatonic map to be rather flawed, yet highly potent in the aspects which are salvageable and capable of being incorporated in a broader magical context. No map is complete, though I’ve found the best success in critically examining and testing where they seem to overlap and illuminate each other, as well as where they uniquely tread new ground in casting light upon the greater unknown. I have great trust in the information my ever-reliable spiritual court provides me, yet I still eagerly explore historical accounts for verification and matching clues. In the same way, while I may use particular paradigms and maps in my work, I am by no means committed to them, and am always seeking out ways to better my ability to consistently interact with and grow from the spirit world. Even my use of HGA as a term for this particular kind of spirit has more to do with convenience in communicating with other modern magicians; within my own coven, the term is something different altogether.

There is still much to do for me in this phase. The way the procedure was laid out to me originally before I began was that it would run from Equinox to Equinox regardless of when the breakthrough happens. The Work does not seem to wind down, but rather up; I’ve been learning, writing, working, and discovering without end, pursuing the Will I’ve come to understand as being just as integral in my coherence as my genetics and DNA, propelling me forward with even more ease, now that I no longer unconsciously resist it, and instead join in its wake. I feel much like a river finally embracing the steady torrent. Everything I love about my draconic familiar and holy guardian—my sagacious, cunning, dominating, impossibly powerful and wise Serpent—I love even more now, and that overwhelming affection has begun to pour out to so many of my other relationships.

I am now following a new routine until the coming Equinox, at which point I will conduct another major ritual and then move into the next phase of exploration, enchantment, and evolution.

Cyprian and Sigils

There is much to contemplate as the Days of St. Cyprian approach. It’s now been two years since I first encountered the sorcerer-saint and answered his call to work with him. He and St. Justina now feature so prominently in my practice, ever pushing me to new syntheses, new understandings, and new currents of awakening. Steadily, he’s become one of my most potent spirit allies; a partner in sorcery, and an erudite teacher of Christian, pagan, and goetic gnosis. Just like how my HGA is always making sure I’m not slacking off, that my mind is open, flexible, and discerning, so too has the good saint, in our relationship, ensured that I ever seek a greater command over my life and a more sagacious understanding of the mysteries.

In the meanwhile as I prepare for what my spirits and I have planned for his feast and the nine days leading up to it, I wanted to reproduce on this new blog a small write-up I did of how I’ve come to work with sigils through the saint.

I really only started working with sigils more actively because of Rune Soup, specifically its premium membership, where the first course focused entirely on them. Inspiration I’ve gleaned from that course led to me involving St. Cyprian more directly with a much wider breadth of magical techniques, beginning with sigils and now encompassing numerous other forms. Now that through the course I’ve come to a better understanding of what sigils are useful for and how they (seem to) work, I’ve started actually using them far more often and with greater effect.

Where before I would rarely, if at all, craft sigils as a part of my magical work, I now have multiple shoals up and running passively in my life at all times, keeping the momentum going and making things more interesting in general. I’ve also found that sigils can serve as excellent road maps for workings—with a shoal I can set boundaries without restricting the ability to approach targets obliquely and with sufficient wiggle room for surprise blessings, and then layer on top of them with witchcraft, spirit conjuration, and other spell castings.

As a result, there have been a lot of sigil papers lying around my home. Originally, I was planning on just sticking them around in low attention zones—just off the side of the television, pinned against the fridge with magnets, stuck into the sides of bathroom mirrors—but I simply didn’t vibe with the resulting aesthetic. Instead, my spirits advised me to have a more unified place for them to “cook”; a place which itself can be enchanted to further amplify and manifest the sigils.

On my Kemetic Orthodox Senut shrine I have a “prayer jar” which holds, alongside a lock of my hair, numerous written prayers and petitions to the Netjer. Whenever it gets full I burn them, hair and all, in an outdoor ceremony. Similarly, on St. Cyprian’s shrine, I have a cauldron I enchanted using the “Cauldron of Dreaming” method outlined in ConjureMan Ali’s booklet Saint Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers from Hadean Press. In it I burn offerings, petition papers, and various prayers. I also roll a set of dice I enchanted using Balthazar’s Urim and Thummim consecration in the cauldron itself whenever I use them to confirm visions and messages given by the saint. While these examples somewhat correlated with what I was instructed to make, both involved ultimately burning the sigils, and my spirits advised me to, rather than doing so, craft a kind of vault which, when completely filled with sigils long since activated, can then be ceremonially sacrificed in the future during particularly auspicious astrological events. In the meanwhile, it would fill up with numerous new sigil-intentions, mingling off with the energies of those that had already manifested, with the latter’s weight and gravity pulling the former all towards immediate, continuous, and frequent activation.

st cyprian cauldron

When I pitched the idea to St. Cyprian, he presented a vision of a book of manifestation: a blank journal consecrated under his name, in a particular manner which he explained to me, which would be filled with sigils drawn in the appropriate planetary colours and activated in the correct combination of lunar days, planetary hours, and under the auspices of both the Hygromanteia spirits and himself. Enamoured with the idea, I purchased a fresh journal and set to work immediately, completing the book’s enchanting process in the middle of April.

The first couple of pages on the front and back of the book are comprised of personal seals relating to myself and my spirits on the outside, flanked by the ponto of St. Cyprian on the inside. Following that, I added various formulas, prayers, and orations from the Hygromanteia to be read before every scribing of a new sigil. One shoal goes on one page, usually in the same ink colour relating to which planetary force is being called upon. Individual sigils and related miscellanies are grouped in pages determined by chronological order, with each non-shoal page including a minimum of one robofish, specially consecrated, acting as the anchor for the page itself, and not necessarily the individual sigils. This way, if there’s a particular page of unrelated sigils where the majority of the statements have yet to activate, the moment one does the whole page is encouraged to jump on the momentum using the page-specific robofish.

cipriano working

Ever since then, I’ve been sigil-ing away constantly, and they’ve been activating like never before. Getting the “spirit timing” right has been a massive boon and I owe it to the Rune Soup course for taking me beyond just planetary hours, but the book itself has also ensured an even more compact and smooth manifestation process, incorporating all the elements into a single seat. I’ve done a fairly equal split between sigils for things I really want and those which are just for fun. The latter are those kinds of things which just make life interesting and convenient, like always having a seat on the subway or bus, my packages always arriving safely and as soon as possible into my hands, people giving me discounts and free stuff in stores, or running into more people who speak the non-English languages I speak in public. Sigils are a free, infinite resource after all, so if I’m not going to add a fuller ceremony to it with appropriately-oiled candles, incense, evocation, and so on, it’s usually because it’s something like that.

As soon as the book was created I ended up dreaming of a number of different project ideas pertaining to the saint. One was to create a kind of travelling fetish for St. Cyprian—something much smaller than my 12″ altar statue—which could be taken along into outdoor workings alongside my Cyprianic rosary to seat his essence. At the time I was considering making a mojo hand or maybe even trying to carve something simple, yet within a few days I came across a pair of 4.5″ statuettes of the good saint from Mexico for sale on Etsy. I thought they were perfect, so I bought both with the intention to split them between myself and Ziia.

cyprian statuettes

I chose the one on the right. That sassy raised eyebrow paint job really spoke to me ,’:).

cipriano cauldron

The statuette—alongside a wooden disc I had painted red, with Cyprian’s ponto over it in black—began their nine day enchanting process on a Saturday. During the novena three major sigil groups created directly under the saint activated. The more coherence my magical practice and spiritual relationships gain, the more momentum my workings acquire, chaining off each other like the pages of shoals in the book itself.

This year it seems that everything from events, circumstances, challenges and obstacles have been resolving swiftly, cleanly, and optimally. The moment something potentially annoying surfaces, it is immediately transformed into a positive feature. I’ve definitely noticed a steady upswing in this kind of luck-accumulation since I began working with firing off shoals regularly in the book. For those who work with sigils, I would highly recommend consecrating something similar under the guidance of a particular sorcerous being you trust and have a strong working relationship with.

Mysticism in the 21st Century

Mysticism in the 21st Century is a textbook for the study of comparative religions at the undergraduate level, written by Dr. Connell R. Monette, an Associate Professor at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. I read a lot of academic literature on the history of magical traditions and the development of modern occult groups, especially thanks to my university’s numerous libraries and online databases. I came across this volume, however, through an Amazon suggestion, and was persuaded to purchase the second edition once I glanced over its table of contents.

While designed to introduce the student to the study of modern, comparative mystical traditions (here defined as paths in which one seeks a direct, personal relationship with the Divine without intermediaries, cultivated through experience rather than belief), Dr. Monette also uses his textbook as a way to begin conversations concerning burgeoning mystical paths many in the academic community may consider relatively obscure. A cursory review of the traditions he’s chosen to write about reveals various organizations and groups that have received extremely sparse, if any, scholarly attention. The chapter on witchcraft, for example, uses Mark Alan Smith’s Primal Craft as its focus. I think that it’s fair to say that few students and modern scholars of neopaganism, Wicca, and witchcraft would give Primal Craft as their first, second, or even third choice when prompted to name a modern witchcraft tradition, over all the different Gardnerian lineages and neo-Wiccan covens, as well as Feri, Cochrane’s Craft, 1734, or even Chumbley’s Sabbatic Craft.

The same can be said for all the other chapters and their fascinating choices for case studies. The list itself is as follows:

  1. African Traditional: the Gnaoua
  2. Buddhism: Shambhala
  3. Gnosticism: Ecclesia Gnostica Aeterna
  4. Hermeticism: Order of the Nine Angles
  5. Sufism: the Boutchichia Tariqa
  6. Tantra: International Nath Order
  7. Witchcraft: Primal Craft
  8. Yoga: Shadow, Rune, and Bhakti

Again, I was quite surprised to see David Beth’s Ecclesia Gnostica Aeterna (EGAe) as the choice for Gnosticism, and doubly so the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A) of all movements for the chapter on Hermetic traditions. After all, virtually every part of the Western Esoteric tradition owes a debt (often a great one) to Hermeticism, so to see the O9A and its myriad online PDF effusions take the chapter’s spotlight is certainly intriguing. It is not that these aren’t interesting traditions deserving of academic study, more that they, like Primal Craft, are hardly what most students familiar with the broader, sweeping categories of Gnosticism and Hermeticism would conjure up when asked to name a prime exemplar. (That Rune Yoga made it in as one of the three examples of the Yoga chapter, despite being extremely atypical as a “Yogic” practice, if it can even be truly called one, was especially surprising as well!) This is precisely what I consider a strength of Dr. Monette’s book; it introduces students to lesser-known movements, examines how they disseminate their literature, how their members and affiliates organize, what their goals and understandings of the divine are, and then provides numerous sources for further study. There are even some review questions after each chapter, signifying that the textbook is meant to be readily used in the learning environment.

While I have noted that some of the traditions being surveyed here may well be poorly researched or understood among modern students and researchers of contemporary mystical traditions, there is no excuse not to engage with them academically. Last year I took out various recent academic anthologies on the subject of “Left Hand Path” occult traditions from a university library. Though the majority of them were quite newly published, I was surprised to see that much of the writing was devoted solely to Anton LaVey and Michael Aquino’s philosophies and temples, much like older anthologies. With the advent of numerous limited occult presses, majority internet-based organizations, and various philosophies and approaches continuously shaping the direction of LHP discourse online with transformative results, there is simply so much room for new, intriguing, and provocative critical observations. Certainly modern articulations of Qliphothic sorcery, whether they be derived from Kenneth Grant, the Dragon Rouge, or even as expressed in some of Ixaxaar’s most influential releases, deserve more than a passing footnote. (For the record, Kennet Granholm’s immense work on the Dragon Rouge is phenomenal and is a must-read for anyone interested in the order.) Beyond just LHP, I’d love to see the works of Andrew Chumbley receive fuller attention, as well as those of Michael Bertiaux. Thankfully, there’s a lot of promising research surfacing among newer issues of academic journals on esotericism. What impresses me about Dr. Monette’s work here is that it is a textbook, fully intended to be used in the classroom.

Though Mysticism in the 21st Century is intended to be introductory, with the chapters each being relatively slim, it is nevertheless highly important, providing launching points for new students of comparative religion to delve into growing movements and to further investigate, study, and publish material on them. At the same time, they are comfortably dense in information. Looking over the endnotes, we can see that Dr. Monette was able to obtain personal correspondence and interviews from the leading thinkers of many of the traditions surveyed. For the EGAe chapter, for example, he personally thanks David Beth and Jessica Grote for their “assistance, data, suggestions, and personal testimony in the research and production of this chapter, as well as in the proofreading stage”. Similar thanks are given to numerous other writers and thinkers for the other sections.

I was particularly interested in the Primal Craft chapter, as the tradition itself is primarily expressed through Mark Alan Smith’s books as published first through Ixaxaar and then through his own press, Primal Craft Occult Publishing. The grimoires themselves are not only hefty, expensive volumes, they’re limited as well. The first two of the initial trilogy, Queen of Hell and The Red King are sold out from Ixaxaar. Attempting to procure a copy of either on the aftermarket will certainly take a bite out of your wallet, as is the case for many of the limited hardcovers coming out of various occult presses since Chumbley’s One: Grimoire of the Golden Toad. These prices are likely to climb as there explicitly will be no further reprints, as Dr. Monette himself notes; he even cites an eBay listing by the (in)famous reix718 as proof of how absurd the numbers can get. Naturally, I was wondering if Dr. Monette had managed to acquire these first two books, as their page numbers are cited in the endnotes. Given the credit he gives to Mark Alan Smith for his contributions and interviews, as well as Smith’s own noted approachability for questions and e-mails, it’s likely that he received the necessary excerpts from their author, or perhaps that the descriptions were initially drafted by Smith himself.

Evidently, one of the major strengths of Dr. Monette’s research for this book was his ability to get in touch with leading figures and thinkers behind the surveyed movements. In an interview concerning the first edition on MonaMagick.com, Dr. Monette wrote that this approach was vital from the start. He wrote to over thirty potential consultants, and those featured were the ones who were “willing and able to correspond, as well as to represent their particular tradition with a certain level of credibility and authority, and who saw the value in participating in such a textbook”. Given the highly personal nature of mysticism and mystical experience, direct correspondence with practitioners, especially those of modern movements, is vital for salient research. By examining atypical cases of traditions, practices, and movements embedded in his broader research categories, Dr. Monette succeeds in presenting the diversity present, and perhaps inevitably inherent, among them.

I’m quite pleased with the book’s breadth and detail. Sadly, despite being a second edition, I did spot some formatting errors and typos. That said, the textbook’s frugal price, despite being an academic work, more than compensates for the mistakes. The presentations of the various movements are well-researched, genuine, and valuable as new footholds for the study of comparative religions. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading concise, thorough précis of the paths detailed.

Mysticism in the 21st Century can be purchased on Amazon.com. Another interview regarding the second edition on MonaMagick can be found here.