Over the course of the semester three new magical tools have come into my possession: a pentacle, a staff, and a black-handled knife. The pentacle I picked up at a swap-meet hosted by the local pagan store. The staff is hand-made by a fine gentleman in the local community, and was given to me as a gift. The knife was also a gift, a birthday present from another friend here in Sunrise. These were my first clues that it was time to get back to my basics. I didn’t ignore the message, per se; I just couldn’t figure out how to enact it in the context of my current workload.
Sannion asks: “how much is too much? Should you always put it all out there or is it okay, even necessary at times, to hold some things back? Do you always have to be honest, vulnerable and pushing against limitations? What if the things you feel called to express are somehow counterproductive to the greater purpose of your art?”
Art—the good stuff, at least—is all made by bleeding. Enough is already too much.
You have to hold something back: it’s a matter of survival. You must retain some essential kernel of self, whatever that is, hidden away in your heart-of-hearts, so that, after you’ve created—ποιῶ, facio—until you’re dry and dying, there’s something left to regrow from. Because you must always be honest, especially when you’re lying through your teeth. That honesty makes you vulnerable, even as it makes you powerful. And art that isn’t pushing against some limitation, even if its only the artist’s own endurance, isn’t really worth doing. It might be fun for the spectator, but not to do.
In all these things, art and magic are very much the same: the whole point is to split yourself open and stir up whats inside, mixing it with what’s outside and what has never been and what just might be, if only we dream hard enough. Artists and magicians call upon dreams and images, draw them out of the ether by rite or by sheer will, and manifest them in the material realm. Spirits, paintings, narratives, curses, symphonies, motion, pleasure, creation, sculpture, ecstasy, destruction. We stalk labyrinths of mirrored hallways, staring into the abysses that can only be found within. We embrace each distorted image for the truth it reveals, and listen carefully as it whispers to us of the secrets that cannot be found in the mortal world. We craft masks fabricated from our dreams and nightmares, stitch them together with our own tendons, and then endow them with such glammours that only others of our kind can see the grotesque materia at the heart of the wonders the uninitiated applaud.
One must hold something back, lest one be consumed utterly …. but, at the same time, the degree to which one holds back is the degree to which failure is almost assured. And yet … only we can know the things that we keep back. Only we can judge what is too precious, or too awful, to share. What will contaminate the work. What will overpower the work.
We ride the razor edge, and we are always bleeding.
I was born under a bad star, as were we all. But my family did not know the signs: there must have been birds and other omens—I suspect every birth is so attended, if one knows how to look—but they were not recorded. I was not marked out for my destiny, and so I was thrown into the Factory with all the others: I was dedicated to the Illuminati at birth. They looked between my infant legs and called what they saw a “penis”, then mutilated it to fit their Platonic ideal. They wrote “male” on my birth certificate, and gave me a name which would be recognized as such. They put me in front of a television, and told me in countless little ways that it was my task in life to learn and uphold the Rules.
Unrecognized, I had no one to name for me the craving for knowledge I felt, no one to explain the shadows and voices and intercieses which (I thought) only I could perceive. I heard rumors of such things, of course, but the sources were … less than credible. I knew better than to trust them, yet I could not help but believe. So people called me gullible, a “moony” child, doomed to amount to nothing, perhaps a career in the arts. Perhaps they were right.
They made a mistake, though, in permitting me unrestricted access to books stores and libraries and the Internet. Or perhaps it was not a mistake. Perhaps it was the only true rebellion that my parents could dare to make. So I read voraciously: stories of love and independence, stories of epic quests for identity and community, stories which undermined popular narratives of strength and herd-minded “individualism”, stories of magic and heroism. I could not always avoid the mainstream narratives—I had no way of knowing that I ought!—and so the stories were mixed in my brain and I still sometimes struggle to sort them out.
There were a few children who were more like me than the others. They showed me books I would not have found, otherwise, and shared my fascination with the hidden things in the outside world. But they also craved acceptance from the larger world—as, to be fair, did I at the time—and they were willing to go to any lengths to achieve it: displaying their burgeoning masculinity by tormenting and brutalizing the one person they thought they could. Me. And then mocked me when, put in a positions where I might do the same to others in turn, I refused.
Cruelty is the first and last tool of the Illuminati, of the Archons and the Black Brotherhoods and all their slaves. Violence is the second. It is by these tools that the structures of power most faithfully reproduce themselves. The world can be a terrible place, and there are times when cruelty and violence cannot be avoided, but they are few and far between, and to take pleasure in them is always an only a service to the Powers that enslave the world. I knew this in my heart without being taught, from the earliest days of my memory, but the knowledge brought me such torment that I almost forgot, and even now struggle to hold onto it. We must resist, of course: complacency only serves their interests. But in resisting, we provide them an opportunity to mobilize: the police, the media, the counter-protests by those who worship the Archons. This dilemma must be confronted at every turn. It cannot be overcome entirely.
I told the story so many times, I don’t know if its even true anymore. Like when you practice a conversation so many times that you forget that you haven’t actually had it … only with reality at stake.
How do I know that what you and I both call “blue”, doesn’t look to you like what I call “red”?
Are we even really here, or are we just figments of our own imagination?
I am an unreliable narrator. But at least you can trust in that: you can rely on me being unreliable.
I’ve told so many stories. I’ve read so many stories. Some of them were never meant to be true. Some of them revealed the truth by the fact of their untruth. After all, it’s so very easy to loose sight of the truth in a steaming fecal pile of facts: have you watched the news lately? I have juggled truth and lies for so long that no one will ever be able to say which is which. Some truth is still true; some lies are still false. Some lies have been made true and some truths have been overthrown in the quest for a new world order—and this has been my work.
I am not the only one. Perhaps I am the least.
We are all the Illuminati, each and every one of us. It is we who are the conspiracy, all the more powerful because we do not know, or refuse to acknowledge it. We invent the rules as we go along, then blame others for our behavior: citing precedent as if it were relevant. All it takes to prove that something new is always possible is to do something new. It is we, alone and collectively, who determine what is real. What is possible. What is portrayed in the media.
There are forces arrayed against us who wish to create change, this is true: there are Archons and Black Brotherhoods and other forces of inertia and retrofuckery. They are powerful, and to defy them is to risk shame and death and maiming. But they can be fought. The can be defeated. And to concede to them is to face certain shame and death and maiming. The war cannot be avoided: the war is already on, and they knew you were the enemy even before you did. They knew because we are all the enemy, before we are initiated into the Illuminati. Even then, even after they have initiated us by baptism and circumcision and education and imprisonment and advertisement, they will never trust us. It is in our interest to turn on them, and they know it even if we do not.
I have just completed three consecutive weeks of daily planetary conjurations, two of those weeks overlapping with the two phases of Rufus Opus’ Seven Sphere in Seven Days challenge. The results included several visions of the Planetary realms and a ridiculous boost in personal power, and culminated in the ability evoke planetary forces at will … and my first magic-induced migraine since I recovered from my blown a gasket eight years ago. Ultimately, it seems to have served as an initiatory culmination of last year’s ceremonial study.
When Rufus Opus made his challenge, I was already on my third day of planetary rituals prompted by my spirit-allies. Although that first Jupiter conjuration was relativity weak, things escalated quickly. I could see the group current flowing across the sky as I did my work, and I bathed in it. I caught glimpses of the Planetary Realms of the Sun, Mars and Mercury—powers I had not touched so successfully or so formally, if at all. I received ritual instructions from Saturn, and built on my relationship with the powers of the Moon.
The group took a break between Phases I and II of the work, but I continued in between: making my first foray into the Planetary realm of Venus and receiving further instructions on how to perform my conjurations even better—most significantly an upgrade for my Circle of Art and Triangle of Conjuration.
When Phase II began, I was rewarded with a powerful Solar initiatory experience—less than apotheosis, but more than dismemberment. Then the tone changed radically. Although I was able to make contact with each of the Planetary powers in turn, the effects felt anticlimactic after the visionary drama of the week before. I could certainly still feel each planet’s influence—in fact, I could feel it continuing to build throughout the day, particularly as the First Hour of Day passed from the Eastern time zone into Centeral, and as the Third Hour of Night came around. It was at this point that I found the discussion group on facebook to be particularly helpful, as others were able to point out technical differences between Phase I and II that I had not been able to perceive, and to confirm that I was not alone in this particular manifestation of effects They also reminded me that, within the Hermetic frame, the planetary powers are not so much places or forces (as I usually concieve them) but refracted lights emanating from God. RO, in particular, suggested that I take some time to look inward at the changes going on within my sphere; doing so revealed that, by Thursday evening, I had tapped into far more planetary power than I had realized.
Saturday, though, I went over the cliff. My final ritual left me filled with black light and white light. I bumped up against the edge of something, the limit of Saturn, and when I came back to my body full of that bi-colored light, I saw a six-winged figure looming over the current. Things have been quiet on the board and in those corners of the blogosphere since the project finished, and I think that whatever I caught a glimpse of (Iophiel?) might have borked some brains that got a better look.
As usual, I had performed my rites at the First Hour. Within a few hours, my head started to hurt. I thought it was psychic feedback from lunch on campus: things were a little strange over the weekend in the wake of a tragic accident involving several students. Come the Eighth Hour, though, the pain had escalated to the point where I could no longer function well enough to run the errands necessary for my birthday party. Fortunately, Aradia—in town for the party—was driving and able to get me home, where I promptly collapsed into bed with a full-blown migraine headache.
Ninety minutes later, I felt up to taking some painkillers, and was finally coherent enough to put two and two together: the psychic weather—no matter how nasty a college campus can be—was not enough to lay me out like that. It was Saturn that had pushed me over the edge from “magicially manic” to “magical migraine”. Looking to my aura, I concluded that it was too densely packed: I separated out the planetary power—not wanting to ground it altogether—and pushed it out to the edges. That felt better, so I pushed the edges out further. The further I pushed, the better I felt. When my aura was bigger than campus and the surrounding college-owned student ghetto, the pain was finally manageable. It finally disappeared about the time I pushed out to the city limits. That sort of “coverage” is unsustainable, of course, but the pain did not return as my aura deflated over the course of the evening.
The final Saturn ritual brought with it a sense of finality. Whatever it is that my spirit friends wanted me to get out of daily planetary rites … I’ve gotten. I can now channel planetary power at will, just as I can elemental power, though I’m still struggling with the personal consequences of hot-and-cold-running-Venus (just as a for instance), and half a week later, I’m still struggling to maintain my aura at a reasonable level. There have been no new migraines, but my energy level has been up and down like an EKG and requires too-frequent “maintenance”.
Clearly I had some unfinished business with the planetary powers that I began working with during the ceremonial experiment. That’s been fixed: I have now received my first initiation in the seven Planetary Powers, complete with dissolution, crippling agony, and even some ἱερῳ ἀναμιγνομενος. And I’ve also just been handed a brutal reminder of what happens when I let my magical practice get too high-octane.
So I’m taking a short hiatus from magic: doing just enough to keep from setting off the cold-turkey migraine. My Dark Moon rites have so far been minimal. I’m going to get back into more “pure” Chaos Magic pretty soon here, but I am definitely not fucking around with any more Hermetics until Mercury goes direct again.
But, before I fall further down the NaNoWriMo rabbit hole for a few days, I want to thank Rufus Opus and everyone in the Seven Spheres In Seven Days working group for the opportunity and the camaraderie. It was a mad ride, y’all, and I’m glad I didn’t do it alone. I know that I would have gotten even more out of it if I could afford RO’s Gates Rites (and I am not for a moment questioning that the years of practice that went into developing those rituals is worth $12 a pop: I just don’t have the scratch), or if I were capable of believing in the Ptolmaic/Hermetic cosmology as the Truth, not just aTruth. In the end, though, I got enough: initiated into Hermetics with a Solar immolation and Saturnian icepick to the brainpan.
Τιερεσιας Σατυρος ὁ Μαγος
On Sunday, the fifth of November, I cast my first curse. In the Hour of Saturn, I called upon the forces of Saturn to empower a sigil aimed at securing Todd Akin’s defeat in Missouri, and asked them to see to it that the election brought Todd Akin’s political career to an end. While the latter point has yet to be seen, Clair McCaskil took the congressional seat last night.
The following hour, that of Jupiter, I called upon the forces of Jupiter to empower a sigil aimed at securing the presidential election for Barrak Obama. He won the presidency by an electoral landslide: 332 to 206.
Obviously, I cannot claim sole responsibility for these events. But I think that myself and those others enchanting for these outcomes definitely had an influence.
The inspiration for these rites came to me as I was performing my weekend devotions, after my very successful invocation of the Sun. I drew up the sigils, drafted them onto note cards and duplicated them on my maps (the state and world maps, respectively), and waited for the appropriate hour. At that hour, I painted the appropriate sigil, and called on the Planetary Powers using the Circle of Art I had drawn up the day before. I then chanted “it is my will” over the sigil and lit a candle. Upon so charging the sigils, I lit them in the candle, burned them in my cauldron, and pushed the energy out into the world through the sigils on the maps.
My first political enchantment and my first curse all in one. And plans to Hot-Foot Powder a professor I hate, but who teaches a class required for my major.
Yeah, this is my brain on Chaos Magic.
Much like the one time I stole from an employer, there’s a certain cold liberation in giving up the moral high ground. When you can never again make a claim to ethical purity, you have more freedom to decide what standards you want to live up to.
I describe myself as a “witch” in part because of the ambiguity of it. A witch is neither good nor evil, but somewhere in the middle … or both, simultaneously. And yet I hold myself to these insane ideals of ethical absolutism.
Don’t I keep saying that anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for?
RO is always going on about how magicians are beyond ethics, beyond good and evil, because we can see further down the chains of events than mere mortals. On the one hand, this sounds like a lovely monotheist cop-out: “god is on my side, motherfuckers!” On the other hand, my Scorpio shadows whisper, “You do know you know better than they do. Do what must be done.”
I can’t decide if I feel dirty or powerful. Maybe a little bit of both.
I actually haven’t done today’s full Seven Spheres invocation: just my own morning planetary work. But the Lunar influence was strong with me this morning, and I hammered out a set of seven planetary invocations this morning over breakfast. Below is the first of them, which I won’t actually get to until next Sunday (obviously), but I look forward to performing the Lunar version this evening. Also obviously, this builds upon the Saturnine instruction I received over the last two weeks.
INVOCATION: PETTITION FOR ACCESS TO THE SUN BY WAY OF THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL
Build your altar and your Circle of Art as instructed by Saturn.
Perform the Titan’s Cross
Perform the Invocation Rite of the Pentagram
Kneel before the altar and light the first candle and fumigation.
Read the Orphic Hymn to the Moon
Light the candles on the Circle of Art and pour a libation
“I call upon you, O Archangel Michael whose sphere is the Sun,
You do not know me: I am Tieresias of the Obsidian Dream,
and I call upon you in the tradition of magicians dating back to Moses,
and in the name of Rufus Opus and the Seven Spheres Group.
By this seal I invoke you, and by the secret names of God
which have been handed down to me and which are inscribed there on.
That I might most fully participate in the rites Seven Spheres Group,
I ask that you lead me to the Gates of the Sun, and vouchsafe me entry.
Permit me a glimpse of Iophiel, he of the eighth sphere.
In return I offer libations and fumigation.”
Book of the Satyr
A Grammar of Madness and Lust
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
It’s all true, especially the contradictions.
…Everything is still permitted…
IAM that I AM
I AM that I WILL BE
DEDICATION TO THE GODS WHO INSPIRE
O Goddesses of Olympus, Musai
O Apollon, father of the lyre
This work I do in your name
This work I do for your glory
Shine your inspiration upon me
That my efforts might honor you better
O Hermes, the silver-quick and clever
O Mercury, messenger and guide
This work I do by your discretion
This work I do by your tools
Stand beside me always
That my words might be bright and clear
O Dionysus, cause and surcease of madness
O Zagreus, embodiment of ecstasy
This work I do as your servant
This work I do as your messenger
Be within me as I write
That I might be without myself and range more widely
Io Memnosune, Titan Muse and memory incarnate!
Io Caliope, mistress of the epic!
Io Clio, keeper of history!
Io Erato, voice of lust!
Io Euterpe, mistress of song!
Io Terpischore, inspiration of dance!
Io Melpomene, bringer of tears!
Io Thalia, who causes laughter!
Io Polymnia, source of all hymns!
Io Urania, who keeps the secrets of the stars!
Io Phoibos, lord of the sun!
You who slew the serpent Pytho
and who inspire the prophesies of Delos!
Bright son of Metis and mighty Zeus!
You in whose name I issue prophesy!
Bringer and healer of plague!
Io Dolios, divine trickster who, new-born, fooled Apollo and Zeus alike!
Slayer of watchful Argos
Great messenger of the gods!
You Of the Gateway,
Guide of both the living and the dead!
Io Ram-bearer! Io Champion!
Io Bacchos! Yourself, your Mask, and your worshiper: one!
Bringer of madness and ecstasy!
Lord of the vine and instructor in fermentation!
Twice-born, Twice-died, Thrice-lived!
You of the Mysteries!
In whose name I pour all libations!
Much like the ceremonial experiment, I started Project Null thinking that I knew what it was I would be studying, and turning out to me more than a little bit wrong. There are certain key techniques of Chaos Magick: fewer and, in some cases, easier to define than those of traditional Western ceremonialism. As the Ptolmaic, enspirited paradigm centers and frames the Hermetic magician’s practice, so, too, do certain beliefs and attitudes make up the base and superstructure of the Chaos Magickian. So early in my studies, I am no more qualified to pontificate on the latter than the former. Still, I think I have reached a point where I might make a few observations. What follows below are just that: my observations and half-researched opinions, and if any of the self-identified Chaos Magicians who read this blog take my statements amiss, I apologize in advance and ask that they correct me.
Most central to Chaos Magic as I have studied it so far are one tenant and one strategy: first, the belief there is no fundamental truth, and the corollary that belief itself is a tool; and a dedication to experimentation in search of measurable results.
“Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” I see this mantra everywhere in the Chaos theory I study, and it is here that Chaos Magick’s roots in the 1980s and 90s are most evident. There is wisdom in it, but also hubris: a fool’s absolutist misinterpretation of cognitive relativism and and postmodern thought. I like the newer version better: “Everything is true, everything is permitted.” The variation seems less open to materialistic nihilism, a trait I have observed in many of the Chaotes and former CM practitioners I have known in the physical world.
Much more valuable, and arguably even more iconic of the CM paradigm, is the second point. Experimentation is hardly unique to Chaos Magick, but—to the best of my ability to determine—Chaos Magick is unique in the way in which pseudo-scientific experimentation and the incorporation of scientific theory to achieve reliable, demonstrable results is central to its self-identity. And it is this point which I find most appealing about the paradigm.
After these things, what Chaos Magick seems to be best known for is sigils, which seems to be the central technique of the Chaote as spirit evocation is to grimoire ceremonial magic.
I had a plan when all this madness started. I knew what books I was going to read and had a pretty solid idea of what experiments I was going to perform. Things have already gone a bit off the rails, though. The results of my previous experiments weren’t done moving through the pipeline—a fact clearly demonstrated by the various spiritwork and visionary experiences that have devoured my last couple weeks.
Chaos Magick is results magic, first and foremost, and my experiments in Chaos Magick have turned into an engine for synthesizing the ongoing results from the ceremonial experiment into my larger personal practice. I thought about ignoring those results in favor of the original plan, but only for a moment. That dumb shit would blow up in my face so fast it would actually be be funny, and it would fly in the face of the spirit of Chaos Magick besides.
Chaos Magick is results magic, and by all the gods: I’m getting damn results. I’m hearing spirits more clearly, and they’re damn sure hearing me. I’m seeing auras again AND suffering less from the effects of psychic weather. I’m having legit gnostic experiences—one after another, each more brain-borking than the last—which is … well, short of my ongoing relationships with Aradia and Sannafrid, pretty much the most awesome thing to happen to me. Ever.
Here’s to magic, y’all. Here’s to breaking ourselves, breaking the world, and putting it all back together so that it’s more interesting than it was before.
Here’s to forging ahead even when it’s terrifying.
Here’s to Chaos.
As I mentioned a bit ago, I’ve been participating in Rufus Opus mad (awesome) experiment Seven Spheres in Seven Days. Although the group has officially been on hiatus since the completion of Wednesday’s ritual, I have been continuing with daily invocations in accordance with the imperative laid upon me by my spirit-allies before RO posted his challenge. Also, the part where it’s just been too awesome to quit.
Because of the particular way in which Phase One of the Seven Sphres in Seven Days project cut across my own planetary practice, it has comprised two weeks of daily rituals for me. The whole series of rites have been mind-blowing, but yesterday’s Venus ritual and this morning’s Saturn rite were particularly impressive.
I had not attempted to reach the Sphere of Venus before this week. I did not make it so far up the Ladder of the Heavens before my patience with the phallic paradigms of my year dedicated to the study of Hermeticism came to an end.
The cold front that hit last week has robbed me of much (read: all) of my morning spunk and verve. It was all I could do to achieve consciousness in time for the dawn Hour of Venus. I printed and cut out the seals and talismans of the planet and its daimones; half-conscious, my work was sloppy, and will need to be redone more elegantly. Still, lighting candle and incense, reciting the Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite (8: the Natural Law of Harmony), and visualizing the planetary seal, I was granted a vision of the Realm. A verdant green landscape opened up before me, which I unfortunately had to leave leave quickly, as I did not have time for intense journeywork before class.
Unlike last Friday, when the lingering influence of Venus made it almost impossible to think over the maniacal screaming of my libido, my lust—though great—was secondary to an overwhelming sense of peace. My customary misanthropy, although far from silent, lost much of its bitter edge, and people who have been cold to me in the past warmed to my presence.
Last week’s Saturn ritual provided me a template to apply to my planetary conjurations which would provide me with better access to the Seven Spheres in Seven Days group current, which you can see in some of the images to the left. The conjuration employed the Talisman and Grand Seal at the center of the triangle formed by the seals of the Olympic spirit and planetary spirit and intelligence, and the lamen of the planetary angel on the altar. With all these things in place, candle and incense lit, Orphic hymn read and libation poured, I asked the angels of the planets to lead me to their planetary realms.
This morning’s ritual provided me with further and clearer instructions for my planetary magic: a double triangle, with the inner triangle pointing toward me, with the angelic lamen at the near point and candles on the back two; the outer triangle having the sigils of the Olypic spirit, the Spirit, and the Intelligence of the planet in the configuration I have been using so far, and the Grand Seal of the planet in the middle as I have been doing.
The images to the left, obviously, are a photojournal of my daily altars. Unfortunately, some technical difficulties with my phone and data uploading to both the internet and the computer ate more than half my photos. Below is the Circle of Art as provided to me by the forces of Saturn this morning.
I would love any input that the more traditional ceremonial magic who read my blog might have on this evolving aspect of my practice.