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 name.

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.

Advertisements

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 Blogspot 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.

 

Apoxias

Apoxias is the name of one of the many spirits native to the Sorcery of Hekate arcana taught by Jason Miller. While the full Sorcery of Hekate teachings are presented through a paid subscription available in cycles throughout the year from Miller, Apoxias is one of the unique beings from it that is intentionally accessible to any witch, regardless of whether they’ve initiated themselves into the system. A full ritual dedicated to building a spirit vessel and evoking him into it is presented in his popular Protection & Reversal Magick: A Witch’s Defense Manual, and it’s there that I encountered him first, long before Miller ever made the fuller arcana he is derived from available for teaching.

Protection & Reversal Magick was the first book I ever read by Miller. It was a real launching point for me back then, as an eighteen year old witch fresh out of high school. Not only is the volume sober, detailed, and genuinely excellent (my copy is littered with sticky notes and markings; I’ve typed up more than half its spells into my electronic grimoire) but it led me to discover so many other fascinating traditions, systems, and thinkers. Within a few months of diligently trying out its techniques and rites, I had purchased the rest of Miller’s books and signed up for his Strategic Sorcery course. Through the writings of other course members and Miller’s own blog, I discovered many of the authors and publishers who have come to, over those intense three years, highly influence and shape my understandings of the history and meaning of magic. It was really through interacting with the people in that private member’s group that I learned of writers like Gordon White, Jake Stratton-Kent, and Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, as well as the numerous small occult presses whose works I’ve come to patron.

While the book is one I consider a must-have for any witch, it’s also fascinating as it provides quite a few “Hekatean” techniques and rituals which I later came to learn were being derived from a greater system that Miller had been receiving from the goddess over a decade. As Hekate is the primary goddess I work with and the very patron of my coven, I was immediately smitten with the rites presented. When Sorcery of Hekate finally launched, I was one of the first to register, and have participated in the first cycles of both the initial six month class and the second, supplementary advanced techniques class. SoH is one of the primary traditions I work with now and as a result, my connection with the few of its spirits that I had first encountered through the Protection & Reversal Magick book have continued to grow.

What makes Apoxias special is that he is fully available for any witch interested in working with him, regardless of whether or not they even plan on learning the arcana he comes from. While there are other beings similar to him that we encounter in Sorcery of Hekate, complete with their own specialties, alignments, and vessels, much of Apoxias’ information is available publicly in the book. I highly recommend him for any witch interested in acquiring a new protector on their frontline. While the method to conjure him involves Hekate, as she created him, one does not need to have a prior relationship with her to successfully create a pact with him.

Apoxias is described as a protective spirit, appearing in the shape of a man with green-black skin and mirrored eyes, carrying a bell in one hand and a long, sharp sword in the other. Miller writes that he is “charged by Hekate with standing guard over anyone who is unjustly attacked” and that he is an excellent watchman and guard. With his bell he disorients enemies, assaults them with confusion so that they cannot act against you, and warns of attack. With his sword he cuts down harmful spells, thought-forms, spirits, and energies. Within my inner and outer spiritual courts, there exist warriors and guardians who are also enshrined in vessels filled with the fetishes and materials appropriate to their natures. I would say that the way that Apoxias works in tandem with them is by standing in the front row, so to speak, meaning that he stationed himself in the first line of defense to watch for and intercept anything malicious that may be coming my way. This allows my personal warrior familiars to focus on destroying anything that filters through and is more substantial and stubborn. My coven sister and best friend Ziia has also conjured and enshrined Apoxias, and she noted to me that he took up the same role for her court. When I spoke with him about this, he mentioned that it is his preferred angle of attack, as it frees up the witch’s personal familiars to utilize their powers more precisely and to not spread their efforts thin.

To work with Apoxias, the witch needs to construct his spirit house or vessel. The base is a green bottle with a chain and padlock and four round mirrors on each side, representing his eyes watching all directions. The nine kinds of dirt, the nine herbal materia and fetish objects, and the spirit’s seal are all provided in the book for those interested in conjuring him. Once I had my green bottle all cleansed, I took it around the city gathering dirt. Like with most vessels I make, I spoke to the bottle and treated it as a living point of power between my own world and that of the spirit’s throughout the preparation process. I felt that I was developing a relationship with the spirit even before I met him on the following new moon when I evoked him, simply through the gathering of the ingredients and the construction of his home. The process certainly took me to places I would have rarely gone by on my own given where I live and spend my time.

After following the instructions to evoke Apoxias and offering Hekate and her spirits a Deipnon, I was greeted with a fascinatingly complex and stalwart protector. I feed him every new moon alongside the other familiars and spirits I work with through Hekate, using techniques and additional instructions with respect to how to work with him and his kin that I learned through SoH. Prior to learning the arcana, I would burn myrrh incense to him on the new moon while praying for his continued protection and aid, as the book suggests.

One thing that’s very interesting about Apoxias is that, as Miller writes, he is “very good at making people with secret plans against you show their hands before they are ready to play them”. I can definitely vouch for this; Apoxias is very talented at revealing who in your life is toxic, disruptive, and “fake”. There were a few people that he essentially shamed out of my social circle in this way with his bell. He’s also informed me of the true reasons behind some of the more cryptic actions and behaviours of former friends, exposing jealousy, spite, and penchants for self-destruction that would have inevitably exhausted me had I continued to loyally care for them. I was able to later confirm that those were the feelings and motivations that they had through mutual contacts.

Described also as being a fierce protector, Miller warns witches who prefer a lighter touch when it comes to defense to avoid Apoxias, as he can be very vicious. While few of the witches I know personally feel this way, there are some that I’ve met that teeter more towards neo-Wicca who seem to prefer enduring harm over risking harming their attacker. Apoxias is not the kind of spirit who would rather malicious magic and hostile psychic attacks be banished away in peace. He will gut what comes for you and make sure your assailants don’t ever think about trying anything again without apology.

While he mostly works “passively”, in the sense that he’s always on duty, never in need of further instructions, I have worked with him directly for particular tasks. These have included setting him over a friend to protect them during moments of danger, alongside other spirits and demons he is compatible with, and also specifically requesting him to root out a problem in an area and to report back with his findings. I have found that burning incense and a black candle for him while chanting the IO APOXIAS IO HO mantra given in the book works as an excellent way to empower him further. Normally, I give him my instructions, make my offerings and chant, then relay the instructions again to his vessel, emphasizing what I want him to do with the tools inside the bottle. Since initiating into Sorcery of Hekate I’ve also adopted protocols specific to its arcana for this end, and have switched over to the Hekatean rosary I consecrated as a part of the course for the counting of his mantra.

hekate rosary

I really can’t praise Apoxias enough. He’s a powerful companion, dedicated, perceptive, dark, and loyal regardless of how much you intend to work with Hekate or even the particular system of Hekatean magic as taught by Miller from which he comes. If you don’t have Protection & Reversal Magick, do yourself a favour and buy a copy, it’s a very cheap and densely rich book you’ll definitely be going back to. If you do have it, I highly recommend giving the creation of his vessel a try. Most of the ingredients are not difficult to obtain, and gathering all nine kinds of dirt can be accomplished on a single weekend if you’re up for it. You’ll be thanking yourself as sources of malice you weren’t even aware of scurry away from your circles in fear of his bell and blade.

A Peculiar Hekatean Wight

My mornings start off with a recitation of the planetary prayer from the Hygromanteia corresponding to the day of the week, followed with my daily offering rituals. Minimally, I feed the spirits of my court twice a week, once on the day of the week of their preference (or planetary alignment, if they align with one of the spheres) and altogether again on Sundays, when I tend to the White Table/Mesa Blanca. Each shrine and altar is regularly cleaned, old offerings properly disposed of, and fetish items and spirit vessels sprayed with lustral waters or herbal infusions, anointed with sacred oils, and prayed to. When I am actively performing a working, I naturally feed the spirits involved with manifesting it as per the timing and terms of the ritual’s pact, but those make no impact on the schedule of the weekly offerings.

My spirits are a part of my life, I’ve created potent vessels for them that I’ve agreed to care for (as points of power and footholds for them to better influence this level of reality), I speak with them and commune with their energies daily, and we work together in trust and affection. They are continuously influencing the probability variables in my life for the better whether I am working actively in ritual with them or not, and similarly I care for them regularly regardless. While some of the outer court spirits I work with can be understood more as contracted freelancers (with whom I still hold mutually sincere and cordial, and indeed friendly relationships with), those whom I refer to as “inner court” spirits are more akin to family. My affection for them does not change that they are powerful, frighteningly intelligent, sagacious, acerbic, critical, never inclined to sugarcoating or flattery. They call me out and set my head straight, testing me to ever strive towards a shrewder level of understanding and intellectual flexibility. It is why they have earned my respect and admiration, and in turn their principled conduct, genuine loyalty, and mutual care have welcomed them into my heart.

Accepting a new spirit into this intimate matrix is a lengthy process. Barring the obvious factors, such as how well they get along and work with my court, how intimate our bonds are, and so on, there are numerous procedures involved as set out by the kind of witchcraft I was taught by the guiding spirits of my coven that need to be followed. The acceptance is itself a two-way initiation, an adoption; not only the reaffirmation of bonds. There is a sorcerous framework backing and empowering these relationships, a matrix with its own set of pacts related to particular divinities and overseers which regulate the blending of powers and the mutual enrichment of each being as individual gifts, talents, and specializations seep in and enrich each other’s dispositions.

Throughout the past year, my inner court composition remained the same. I focused on deepening the relationships I had, learning more from that group of spirits, and observing as they too grew in what was already a startlingly substantial amount of power. Meanwhile, my outer court expanded with new allies and contracted guardians, especially those introduced to me by the beings behind the traditions I was learning. One spirit in particular that I met recently through Hekate has really been shaking up my perceptions, and especially my approach to the different styles of magic possible on various levels of reality. Learning how to even approach them was a bit of a challenge, as they were simply quite “alien” to me from the beginning. Yet doing so and making an honest effort to expand my understandings of various teachings for them has taught me a valuable shamanic lesson on its own, in addition to gaining a genuine if incorrigibly quirky ally in the process.

Some spirits don’t want to be approachable. Some will put you through tests to see if you’re worthy. Some will talk your ear off given the chance, spinning any fabricated tale just to win your attention. The ecology of the spiritual realms include, by nature, myriad agendas, dispositions, alliances, and rivalries. I started off musing about offerings, but some spirits I’ve met don’t even benefit from them; at least not traditionally. This particular spirit that I met in the past month shirks entirely what others normally welcome: smoke, libation, oils, foods, and so on. Their appetite is wet only by one thing: secrets. They burrow in strange places, celestial crossroads, and the dreams of people like the lovechild of a vampire and a hacktivist, sifting for them amidst weakened, liminal minds. Charming, helpful, devious, and loyal, their greed for knowledge and information—the less well known, the better—informs much of their conduct. Armed with a nebulous intelligence, an alarming wit, and a Hekatean key, they prance from one realm to the next, reaping the restricted, the forbidden, and the lesser-known without grudging.

When Hekate introduced me to this spirit, I knew I wanted to pay them back for the immense assistance they had provided me at the time in a way that was mutually satisfying. The myrrh incense, spring water, eggs, honey, garlic, and cakes her other spirits accepted, as well as the Deipnon I offer to her and her hordes every new moon, seemed to only marginally affect this spirit, more as a demonstration of honour and good custom and less as an actual gift they could partake in. While the goddess’ other spirits feasted, this being remained apart, mingling and prattling at the web-patterns of the magic which surrounded them. Though I knew their powers (as well as the invigoration of those powers) operated in a different way than say, a mighty dead’s shade did, and that they were sufficiently empowered by their own devices and nature, I still wanted to court their attention.

I wanted to build a personal relationship with them, and seeing as how much of their nature dwelt in puzzles and arcane cryptography, I decided to investigate if I could find a way in which that spirit could benefit from me, specifically me as one of Hekate’s many witches; to make them interested in me and to teach me some of its very own, precious and perspicacious, secrets. Over the years and through the training my teachers have put me through, I’ve learned how to better negotiate with spirits while journeying, but this being was very unlike the usual sorts of nature wights, demons, ancestral shades, celestial intelligences, and so on that I was used to dealing with. Offerings were the least of my concerns, of course, but they often form a subtle language that helps one better understand a spirit—and I desperately wanted to understand. But to do that, I needed to entice them, not compel them through the authority of the sorcerous system. And at last, when I finally put it through my thick skull how to best approach them, I encountered an endlessly fascinating, honest, and mind-bending friend.

It’s been about a month since then and that spirit has quickly become one of the most active in my outer court. Throughout my personal work with Hekate, especially with the Sorcery of Hekate arcana that’s become a staple of my practice over the past two and a half years, I’ve encountered and made pacts with various spirits. Sirens, Furies, Gorgons, Fates, Graces and numerous others from the myths, as well as different individual, personal familiars that have come through the auspices of some of those great ones, and through the other forms of Hekate, such as Brimo and Soteria. Some have come through sleep, through the gates of the Hesperides, others in the dark places where the faerie lights flicker, where a lone nymph of the Lampades would stretch her embrace and offer to work with me.

Yet this spirit came through Hekate Asteria, called on first by my HGA to meet me. Their energy is star-like, “alien”, their interests in the threads of reality and in the weaving of the organic, cosmic breathing that is the confluence of Heka and Ma’at. The “knowledge” they so hunger for is rarely even what one would conventionally think of as knowledge. The sweetest secrets seem to come from wordless expressions of Aristotelian final causes, the willful agency of plants and stones, the mass movement of archonic egregores fluidly pushing new ideologies and meta-approaches over populations… strange thoughts which at times feel distant and vague to me, like half-formed memories, and other times pellucid and frightening. And, of course, like this little ramble suggests, they enjoy a bit of acknowledgement, so long as it too is half-formed and distant, implied, mentioned in passing, hidden but teased.

I decided to write a little about this entity because yes, they like that—somewhat like how St. Expedite likes to be praised publicly, except far less directly—but also to share some thoughts and implicit questions I’ve been mulling about as of late. Sometimes spirits reveal words of power to you, barbarous names and phrases which can be used to innately conjure particular energies in magic. While a purveyor such techniques, as they are of anything, my newest companion prefers to flummox me with visions and spirals, labyrinths I have to claw myself out of by challenging paradoxes with flexibility, each time beginning with a simple “Think again”. A Socratic dialectic, endless yet not absurd. Think, and your conceptions, ideologies, and accepted information float to the surface; planks on the boat which guide you. Think again, and the planks scatter before the typhoon.

House Spirits

Have you been taking care of your house spirit? They’ve certainly been taking care of you. These finicky wights, extremely loyal and generous if treated well—but terribly shy and easily heartbroken and offended according to folklore—take care of their households, promoting luck, fertility, and activity among their patrons, cleaning little messes here and there, and often serving as an intermediary between other local spirits. Sometimes they’ll accompany the same bloodline for generations, becoming elevated thereby as a kind of ancestral protector of its own, representative of a family’s luck over centuries. However, a series of heated arguments and tantrums between family members gone wrong can be all that it takes to make their house spirit up and leave in search of a new home.

These characteristics are not universal, of course. I’m mostly speaking about my experience with Slavic house spirits, which are most often known as domovoi. Growing up in Eastern Serbia, my friends and relatives usually called singular house spirits domaćin, meaning a host or a housekeeper. Like the majority of Balkan folkloric traditions the term varies across towns and countries (even families!), but the core concepts endure. Since I spent the majority of my childhood and early adolescence constantly moving from one house to the next, barely staying in place for over a year, I’ve seen my fair share of variety between these spirits. Those that follow families will accompany them as they move, but most seem to be fully rooted in the actual buildings themselves, tending to numerous individuals and groups over the generations. My prababa told me when I was little that if you wanted to guarantee that your domaćin will accompany you when you move, you should place their token object (vessel) into a boot after asking them to come along with you and then carry that boot to the new home and reestablish them.

Today the domaćin that resides within my home is one that I summoned in my teens. My family and I had moved to a completely new house that had just finished construction and with the aid of my spirit teachers we evoked and established a hearth guardian that has been with us since. (The procedure was actually remarkably similar to the ritual found on page 168 of Nigel G. Pearson’s original version of Treading the Mill). He has a shrine above the fireplace with a candle, glass of water, and room for bread and milk on holidays, family birthdays, special occasions, and so on. In early May I finally found the perfect “token object” for him which is now installed there as well: a carved domovoi from Wuflund Jewelry. The small stang-wand I painted red in the picture is one that the domaćin himself led me to. We found the curious thing—perfectly smooth and sanded—lying neatly near our property.

house spirit

He has been an absolute treasure of a companion over the past few years, even if our interactions aren’t anything like those of my spiritual court—house spirits are notorious for their behavioural taboos, some fleeing forever if you give them clothes or verbal thanks. I show my gratitude wordlessly and let him know when I’m leaving and when I’ll return. I update him when to expect guests and which dates are important and will be celebrated by the household. When I hosted some relatives from Serbia this summer, I made sure to let my house spirit know well in advance how our routine was going to be changing for that time. Working together has made the accommodations effortless, the jet-lag nonexistent, and the time zone friction melt away into deep sleep for my guests.

Every Red Meal,  Devil’s Supper, Housle, or Troyl Hood—the witching feast held at the conclusion of a ritual to feed and honour the forces of the Compass—I also make sure to set out a healthy portion of bread and wine for our diligent, kind, and temperamental housekeeper. Just as I work with the spirits of the land near where I live and work, and even the spirits of my city more broadly, I always ensure that I pay careful heed to the very genius of my home.

Building a Hermanubis Shrine

I wanted to reproduce a write-up I did of my shrine to the god Hermanubis, especially as he’s been one of the deities who, in addition to Hekate, I’ve been working with the most recently. Swift, powerful, courteous, and incredibly effective in all that he touches, Hermanubis is an incredible being to call upon for instruction and assistance in necromancy, as well as the myriad other fields of his expertise.

In early February of this year, an extended, necromantic working I had been undertaking with him came to its close, and I culminated the arduous practice with a remaking of the god’s shrine. Originally, his place among my altars was just a printout of his statue in the Vatican museum, a tealight, and a glass of water. It’s been well over a year now since I formally started working with this syncretized, psychopomp extraordinaire, who first unexpectedly showed up in vision while I was doing a ritual invoking Hermes. His incredible guidance and erudition have been the catalyst of some of the most important breakthroughs in my witchcraft, spirit work, and general understanding of magic since the inception of our formal relationship in this life.

With that plus the importance and heaviness of the aforementioned necromantic working in mind, it felt only natural to spruce up his station in my temple with a brand new shrine. I read Gordon White’s The Chaos Protocols shortly after encountering Hermanubis, and while I was inspired by the various mythological cynocephalus connections he had pointed out, I didn’t want to simply substitute a statue or a candle of St. Christopher for him, especially when there were already other icons of Greek and Kemetic deities on the shelves surrounding his new would-be space. Instead, after pitching the idea to the god and performing divinations to check its agreeableness, I decided that the centerpiece of the shrine should be a white candle flanked by statues of both Hermes and Anubis/Yinepu. My experience of Hermanubis has always involved striking speed and efficiency, and the reading revealed that I should expect everything to come together very quickly. One aspect of the reading hinted that there would be a further unifying element as well that I have not yet considered.

hermes
Among the local occult shops in Toronto, the only statues of Hermes that I had found were bronze, and I wanted something more white. Within a few hours of the divination, I came across the perfect representation of the god: alabaster with a lovely removable caduceus in the hand. The price was an absolute steal as well, and it shipped from Greece the next morning and arrived at my house in a week. It wasn’t hard to find a good likeness of Yinepu either; his statue came just two days later in the mail.
myths of the dog man
The mysterious “unifying element” turned out to be a small figurine of Hermanubis himself! I came across this by chance while browsing eBay; it’s from an older line of Egyptian-themed collectibles called “The Gods of Ancient Egypt” by Hachette. The line itself has over 100 figurines, complete with some of the most obscure deities from Egyptian mythology. According to a friend I met through Kemetic Orthodoxy, they’re quite popular with Kemetic polytheists for that reason; the quality may not always be superb, but they make up for it with the sheer quantity of the different gods and personification of Kemetic concepts. I picked up the a mint condition Hermanubis from a seller in Quebec at a great price as well, and gave it the same blessing and consecration treatment the other statues received.
hermanubis

The new shrine was installed in one of the bookshelves I have reserved only for sacred spaces. I purified the space with holy water and frankincense, and laid down a piece of white linen to cover the bottom. In the middle went a white taper candle (since replaced with a larger pillar candle), with Hermes and Anubis on either side and the little figurine of Hermanubis in the center. I set down a copy of the PGM, a glass of water, a white plate for offerings, a Kemetic-themed cup for other libations such as wine, and the APHEROU bowl I had created from the instructions in The Chaos Protocols. This is a brass bowl inscribed with APHEROU (“way opener”) in silver, used for scrying and the conjuring of any kind of dead through the powers of the psychopomp god. The water I had offered became so filled with bubbles that I could no longer see through it—an excellent sign indeed.

Finally, I invoked the god one last time; the conjuration is supposed to be read seven times but the candle flamed wildly at the conclusion of just the first. The atmosphere became pregnant with the tell-tale signs of his presence. I offered him olives and thanked him sincerely for allowing his power to dwell in the new shrine and held a small feast in his honour. Since then every Wednesday when I give water to the shrine it has been similarly overflown with bubbles.

hermanubis bowl

The APHEROU bowl has become my primary instrument for scrying. While I’ve normally used spring water and olive oil with it, as the book suggests, most recently I’ve employed a few drops of Harold Roth’s “Scryer’s Milk” and it worked perfectly. The formula is like clouds in a bottle; it’s one of my favourite things to get from his Alchemy Works store. Yesterday my court was introducing me to a new spirit that desired to work with me as a familiar. After confirming its name and nature through scrying in it, we brought the bowl into the witch’s compass and used it as the locus of the evocation.

The Cult of the Black Cube

The Cult of the Black Cube is the first and only book authored by Dr. Arthur Moros; at least under that particular name. Theion Publishing maintains on its website that Dr. Moros is the pseudonym of a “respected scholar and author of various books on aspects of Western Esotericism”—indeed, in the opening chapter of the book, the author himself states that he had accomplished much in his academic career and enjoys a level of privacy most of his like-minded colleagues are not privy to. From the beginning, the book is advertised as a grimoire of Saturnine gnosis, the culmination of Dr. Moros’ 20-year long esoteric practice as a devoted initiate of the Saturnine deity. After decades of magical and theurgic development under the cold hand of Saturn, the Black Cube, Dr. Moros professes that he was at last pushed by his god towards producing a grimoire of his mysteries, to reveal certain insights and to pass certain keys on to those perspicacious (and willing, being attracted to the Saturnine current) enough to pursue the gnosis he hints is attainable further.

cultoftheblackcube

After a foreword from Frater U∴D∴ of the Fraternitas Saturni, Dr. Moros opens his tome with a story of how he came to work so intimately with the Saturnine god in the first place. He admits openly that the particular kind of chthonic powers associated with Saturn often appear very bleak, dreary, heavy, and perhaps even more trouble than they’re worth when it comes to theurgic work. Yet “Saturnine Gnosis”, as he calls it, has been the primary spiritual tradition that he has followed for over twenty years, and he asserts that it has been an intellectually, emotionally, and magically fruitful and immensely fulfilling one. His opening anecdote, while not an apologia for Saturnine Gnosis, is more a glimpse into why his dedication to the god is so powerful; a window which will allow his readers to approach the research and rituals he presents in the bulk of the book with greater openness, and perhaps intrigue.

Personally, I was hooked from the start, reading just this brief account. Dr. Moros’ writing style flows well and is easy to follow. He recounts how a car accident crippled him in his final year of high school, damaging his right leg and destroying his coccyx to the point where he was in constant agony, whether sitting or standing. Drugged with pain medication and exhausted from several years of unsuccessful physiotherapies and chronic pain, the then-college student decided to try his hand at recreating a Roman necromantic ritual to heal himself, as a last resort. Using his knowledge of Latin, material from John Gager’s Curse Tablets and Binding Spells (a favourite of mine as well), he composed a ceremony complete with the appropriate offerings and ritual attire. After some jarring physical manifestations, which resulted in his sacrificial bowl shattering and stabbing him, he, afraid, renounced magic, only to be confronted by the Lord of the Black Cube in a dream on one of the following nights, who offered him a contract. His fate (career ambitions, agendas, and so on) for his health.

Within a month, he had made a miraculous full recovery, perplexing his own doctors. Naturally, ever since then, he had been guided down the path the god had shaped for him, attending graduate school, studying Saturnine cults, and cultivating an ever more intimate relationship with the deity. The book itself is, as hinted in its blurb, the culmination of such devotion, its authoring nudged by the god himself. So, given its intensely personal background, how does it square up as a grimoire of Saturn?

The text is divided into three parts: Scholarly Materials, which investigates different cultural conceptions of Saturnine deities and their function in their respective cosmologies; Saturnine Theory, which speculates the nature of the cult of Saturn, given the author’s experience, as well as those of other devotees of the god; and finally Saturnine Practices, which provide a set of rituals those who wish to directly engage with the fearsome deity can undertake to establish and build a connection. Each section, while not terribly long (the book itself is only 176 pages) is clear, concise, and genuinely informative.

For his research, Dr. Moros surveys Islamic, Graeco-Roman and Gnostic, and Hindu traditions and texts, sifting through differing cultural lenses to uncover fascinating commonalities. Given the titles he uses to address his deity, as well as the culturally eclectic blend of practices he suggests one to undertake to cultivate a relationship with him in the third section, it is clear that Dr. Moros’ approach is not centered on one particular form of Saturn, such as a Saturnian god in a particular mythology. Instead, while careful to avoid the pitfalls of overtly soft polytheism, he does not deny the agency of the gods: that they are bigger than us, capable of manifesting in multiple places at once, presenting themselves through cultural filters in different yet startlingly similar ways for their own purposes. His conclusion is that the Saturnine god is real, that it is not an archetype or folkloric myth, and that the reason for its myriad common tropes are because various cultures have simply had varying degrees of accurate contact with him.

In fact, Dr. Moros isn’t a soft polytheist at all; given the breadth of his research ability, I doubt he would say, as some magicians are inclined to, that all lunar goddesses are the same goddess, that all hunter gods are the same gods, and so on. He actually warns against this thinking, as it can lead to addressing various beings with the same protocols and expectations, which may well offend them. (I recently learned of someone in my circle of acquaintances who tried to work with Hekate for the first time as if she were identical to, or a “mask” of, Lilith. You can imagine how well approaching a goddess who, in addition to being entirely different from Lilith in myriad critical ways, is also a virgin, went… He was bitten by a black dog the next day.) At the same time, he does not deny both his personal gnosis (that the entity with which he has been interacting with is more than just one cultural, localized expression of an independent being’s impulse) nor his research, which has shown him powerful commonalities between the deities he’s surveyed.

I think that insisting on a formal identity between possible cultural instantiations of a particular being before even working with them is unhelpful. In my own practice, I’ve definitely experienced gods whom magicians prone to using a purely archetypal analysis of mythology interpret as being the same as entirely different, often being connected purely in the sense that they are different spirits whose powers align with an overarching planetary or thematic (love, war, fertility, etc.) source. Similarly, I’ve later, through historical research, found plenty of textual evidence for that conviction.

I’ve also experienced the opposite, coming to perceive certain demons and spirits as being “the same”, in the sense that they are either a) different manifestations of the same greater being, filtered through the personal gnosis or cultural lens of various writers or b) an evolution of the one being unveiling itself to different mediums, forgiving our misinterpretations and at times even entertaining them, adopting new characteristics through our reverence. In that way, I admire Dr. Moros’ sincerity in putting forth his research, making his case, relaying some of his personal gnosis (which he feels he has found scholarly verification for) and ultimately encouraging us to draw our own conclusions by summoning the spirit for ourselves.

His case, ultimately, is that there is an overarching Saturnine god, a global Saturnine cult with various cultural instantiations, and a genuine connection between the two—perhaps that the former wills the latter, and that the latter serves the former’s agendas. Whether specific Saturnine gods are all the same god is somewhat beside the point, and it’s obvious that Dr. Moros does not wish for us to treat them all the same and violate cultural and cultic taboos in the process. What he does seem to suggest is that in studying the various cults, we can extrapolate various tools for approaching the god, as they all, at the very least, share an affinity with him.

This is how his Saturnine Practice section is distilled. Through a consideration of the key elements found within the philosophies, mythologies, and cultic practices he surveyed, as well as with a healthy sampling of the Picatrix, Dr. Moros provides a small sample of potential rituals to use to begin cultivating a Saturnine path. The rites themselves are quite simple and light on ritual materials, however the warnings are abundant. Saturn is not a particularly “nice” deity, and he can harm as much as he can heal. At the same time, he is magnanimous and rewards charity. Only through contact and practice can the seeds of gnosis be sown.

Ultimately, the book serves as a concise study and field manual for the budding Saturnine initiate to begin their own quest, providing numerous leads and ample opportunity for genuine ordeal and awakening.

Sadly, according to Theion Publishing’s website, Dr. Moros did not live to see his book’s release. He passed away while conducting further research, but not before sending his manuscript for publication.

The Cult of the Black Cube may be purchased here.

Kumalak

Divination is an inseparable part of my day-to-day practice. From simply interpreting omens, whether they be in nature, candle flames, and offerings such as the bubbles in water, to systems and methods both simple and complex, whether they be for everything from foreseeing possible outcomes to events and rituals, testing suitable locations for work, confirming channeled and received messages from spirits, and so on; a familiarity with the myriad forms falling under the umbrella of divination have been a lifelong companion to me, functioning similarly to an acquired language. In addition to intuitive gifts and forms of augury I developed or was taught in my formative years, over time I’ve worked with various systems to different degrees of dedication—I enjoy trying my hand at learning any method I come across that I find intriguing, at least to develop a proficiency. It’s also always interesting to see what will click with me and nurture a longing to develop a genuine command.

In addition to scrying and the kind of intuitive augury and omen interpretation I described, these days I tend to use primarily tarot, geomancy, dice and coin systems, bibliomancy, and bone throwing. With respect to scrying, I not only mean polished surfaces, liquids of various sorts (olive oil, blood, etc.), and flames, but also practices such as oomancy which require the interpretation of suspended elements. While I enjoy numerous other forms of divination as well, my “bases”, so to speak, are very well covered with respect to the variation, adaptability, and my own affinity for these which I rely on most. As a result, while I’m always happy to pick up and learn the basics of a new method, I tend not to consult them regularly unless I genuinely find myself not only falling in love with them, but also finding a place within my toolkit for them where they perform wonderfully both for and with me.

Kumalak, a divinatory form I’ve been learning since the beginning of April of this year, is one such unique system. As soon as its beans began to speak to me, I found myself enchanted by a unique, frank, easy to learn, and no nonsense oracle that is not only user-friendly, but accurate and attractive to my spirits as a method through which to express themselves and their messages. The system, which a good friend of mine described as “the best geomantic oracle that nobody ever heard of”, is native to Central Asia, most popular in modern-day Kazakhstan and employed by a variety of folk magicians and shamans for divining the future. (Interestingly, Kumalak does have a presence in the Balkans, having been carried over by the Ottoman occupation.) Like geomancy, it can provide advice both incredibly esoteric and utterly mundane, and is remarkably versatile despite being far less complicated than its more famous counterpart. I’ve really come to love this quirky system, and I’d like to take some time now to explain the gist of it and spread the word.

To read Kumalak, you need 41 beans (or pebbles, seeds, etc.) and a 3×3 square cell grid. First, take the beans and divide them into three piles as your intuition guides you. Beginning from the right, remove four at a time until there are a maximum of four beans left. These will go in the top right square on the grid. Do the same for the middle pile and the top middle square, and then again for the left and top left. Scoop the remaining beans into one pile, and then repeat the process for the middle row, dividing them into three piles, taking four away at a time, and filling out the squares. Once you’ve done the same for the last row, it’s time to interpret.

kumalak

Here’s an example of a Kumalak reading I did; all the squares have 1-4 beans, with the leftovers below. Like with the witnesses and the judge in geomancy, you can verify whether or not you’ve done the division correctly with some simple math. The total of the beans in the first row when added together should be either five or nine; for the second, four, eight, or twelve; and for the third, also four, eight, or twelve.

Each square is, according to its row, assigned a symmetric part of a greater picture. For the top, the squares are eye, head, and eye. For the middle, hand, heart, and hand. Lastly, the bottom row is foot, horse, and foot. Generally, the top row handles past influences, the middle the present, and the bottom the future. If you know your elemental correspondences from geomancy, reading the beans should be no problem. One is fire, two water, three air, and four earth—and the associations and implications of each element can be reliably read in the usual geomantic way. Each possible row combination has its own name according to tradition, taken from the right-most square. In the reading above, for example, the top row is “wind in the head, sand in the eyes”, because there are three beans (air) in the head, and four (earth) in the right eye. For the middle, it’s “fire in the heart, earth in the hands.” Lastly, at the bottom we have “horseman of wind on horse of water”.

These combinations for head, eyes, heart, hands, horseman, and horse all have their own interpretations which are relatively intuitive if you’re familiar with the active and passive roles of the elements and how they combine (again, if you’re familiar with geomancy, or even traditional elemental combinations and what they signify in divination, then you shouldn’t have any trouble). There are some special figures as well, pertaining to particular column and diagonal combinations (all odd numbers in the certain columns/diagonals, or all ones in the middle column, or the sum of the diagonals being equal, to name a few) which have to be memorized, but other than that I’ve found picking up the system to be fairly simple.

Your main guide for learning Kumalak will probably be the book and kit from Didier Blau. The French version is almost always in stock on Amazon, and the English isn’t too hard to come by either. In addition to a short book which goes over the practice and all the possible row combinations and what they mean, the kit also comes with the 41 beans (be sure to count them yourself, mine had a few more, in case you lose some, I presume), the cloth in the picture, and a felt, green drawstring pouch you can assemble. However, you could always just use your own beans or small pebbles and paint or draw on bristol board or cloth your own casting mat, and learn to read online. There are a number of websites and tutorials that rehash the information found in Blau’s book, including common grid layouts and the special figures, that are just a short Google search away.

I hope this brief overview is helpful to anyone interested in taking Kumalak out for a spin. Over the past few months I’ve found it to be a reliable, straightforward, and indeed humorous and witty companion in assessing various situations and taking the best course of action in each.