At the beginning of the summer, I took on two projects that have given me much more trouble than I anticipated. To my frustration, the trouble has not been that the work, itself, is beyond me, but rather the emotional crisis that it has precipitated.
With the conclusion of the 2012-13 academic year, I have been studying and experimenting with ceremonial magic for two years. I have conjured my Natal Genius and Daemon. I have journeyed to each of the seven Spheres via both neo-shamanic visionary techniques and by conjuring archangels to lead the way. I have employed electional astrology to create talismans of great power, and conjured the powers of the planets to influence the shape of politics.
I recognize that this is a pittance, and that I have barely scratched the surface of the subject matter. I have dabbled in the Golden Dawn and Agrippa the Picatrix and the Arbatel, mostly via Christopher Penczak, Rufus Opus, Christopher Warnock, and a few other modern authors. Although I await Aaron Leitch’s new book eagerly, I have not yet even made the most cursory study of Enochian magic. Although I have read Crowley/Mather’s Goetia, I have never conjured any of those demons. There are countless grimoires of which I know precisely nothing.
With that said, however, I think that the products of my experiments—my insights and my struggles—may be useful to others. There are core concepts in ceremonial magic that are simply alien to anyone coming from a witchcraft background like my own, and straightforward presentation of the core techniques are few and far between. As such, I think that I might be able to shed some light on the path, at least the first few steps, and have committed myself to writing a chapbook on the subject by the end of the summer.
The plan is to publish the results of my experiments so that others may build upon them. As I said on tumblr, I would like a few beta-readers who have more experience with conjuration than I have so that they can tell me how far off the mark I am, and a few beta-readers with no experience in conjuration to try to see if my UPG works for others. I have one volunteer for the former and two for the latter, but would like one or two more of each. (Hint. Hint.)
Translating the Stele of Jeu
I began performing the Stele of Jeu as a part of my Esbat rites at the end of 2011. Although I no longer perform the ritual quite so regularly, I still find it to be an exceptionally useful part of my practice. Because of the difficulties that one of my friends is having right now, I believe that the ritual would benefit her a great deal. Unfortunately, however, she is not of a mindset which will permit her to simply perform the ritual: it’s too alien. So I have taken it upon myself to annotate and, where possible, rephrase the ritual for her benefit, and the benefit of other witches who find the peculiar language of Greek-translated-for-scholars to be incomprehensible bordering on intimidating.
In my magical fantasy world, this project will culminate in my writing a version of the Stele for witches of an eclectic Wiccan background what Crowley did for his own students and peers in writing Liber Samekh. Unfortunately this has been hampered by my inability to locate any scholarship on the subject, forcing me to rely in unseemly fashion on my personal experiments and UPG, and on the research of Mr. Jack Faust.
The crisis these projects has engendered is twofold, but the components are embarrassingly straightforward.
Firstly, I am plagued by the question, “Who am I to pose as an expert of any kind?” The fact of the matter is that I know how little I know. For all that I’ve been practicing magic for upward of fifteen years, my neuroses and social circles have somewhat limited my avenues of research. Attending college in Indiana has also been surprisingly limiting to my options for interlibrary loan.
The fact that I am explicitly positioning myself as a fellow Seeker, not an expert or teacher does not seem to assuage this fear at all. The fact of the matter is that I want to be a community leader somewhere down the road, have said so before, and only a fool could fail to put two and two together: Yes, I am hoping that some day, when I have something more substantial to offer, people will remember that I had clever things to say before.
Secondly, somewhat in light of the above, I find myself asking the question, “Is this where I want to focus my efforts?” I am just old enough, at 32, that I am beginning to really feel my own mortality. There are so many things I want to study, so many experiments that I want to do, so many books that I want to write. Every time I choose to focus on one of them, I am potentially closing off others simply by virtue of the limited time available to me.
Is planetary witchcraft the thing I want to focus on? What about the visionary work? What about the alchemy? What about the elemental powers I have touched, or the Chaos Magic I’ve dabbled in, my experiments in art as magic? And where does that leave time for my novels? Or my formal, public scholarship?
And, oh, yes, that whole thing where I want to seek out my gods but am deathly terrified to do so.
So I find myself stalling. Sure, I needed to take advantage of this long weekend to actually relax and get some things done around the house. Yes, I need to work my job to pay my rent and save up in hopes of being able to study in Greece at the end of the coming school year. Damn right I need to actually get caught up on my sleep. But I don’t need to do any of these things to the exclusion of the Work.
ETA: Edited to provide link and correct the spelling of Mr. Leitch’s name. My apologies, sir.