October 22, 2010 § 2 Comments
“To Know, To Will, To Dare…and to Keep Silent” A maxim I’ve heard more than enough times to know it’s important, but knowing and doing (or “willing”, if you will) are two different things.
First, a little history. The above is known as the “Four Powers of the Sphinx“. The origin is essentially unknown, but Levi and Crowley both put a good deal of emphasis on it. The Four Powers relate respectively to the four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Crowley added a fifth power, “to Go”, which corresponds with the fifth element: The Quintessence. My understanding of what he meant here is that “going” is an act of godliness, somehow, but my understanding of this is obviously a bit muddy. That’s alright though, because for now that isn’t the power I’m going to speculate on.
To Keep Silent. This is the tough one.
- To Know – I’ve got that one. As far as it applies to magical workings, you have to know what you want to do and you have to know what you need to do to get what you want. Know what you want, know what you need to get it. Makes sense to me.
- To Will – “Will” yep, rings a bit of a bell. You have to make sure what you’re intending to accomplish is in accordance with your True Will, and you have to Will it into existence. Bit of a double meaning there, but I’ve got it.
- To Dare – Yeah! Knowing you want to do something and truly desiring for it to happen mean nothing without a little action. You’ve got to try. It’s a bit equivalent to making a grocery list – You know what you need, you’ve made the list, you want food. Good, but if you don’t get in the car and drive to the store, you aren’t having dinner. Practical, I like it.
- To Keep Silent – Uh oh. To continue my dinner metaphor here – To me, “keeping silent” is like telling somebody after they’ve made a really excellent meal that they can’t tell anyone how delicious it was. I mean, I made really great Cajun Chickpea Cakes last night (really, make those, they’re awesome) and if you told me I couldn’t run around bragging about it, I’d have a bit of an issue.
Keeping Silent is fighting against human nature. You made something work! You’re excited about it! You want to tell the world!
You aren’t allowed. No shouting from rooftops here. You have to shut up and go about your day or you’ll ruin everything.
To make things more difficult, I genuinely believe that keeping silent is necessary. Life would be easier if I could just leave that bit out, and go around knowing and willing and daring and then telling the world. But alas, as a psychology student the idea of “autosuggestion” (as brought up in quite a few how-to texts on sigil magick) is one I’m fond of, and I know autosuggestion doesn’t work if you don’t let things stew around in your subconscious for a while.
The brain can do miraculous things if you make a conscious effort, but it can also do great things if you leave it alone. Your brain does some of its best work while it’s sleeping. Keeping silent and “sleeping on it” are pretty equitable concepts – just leave it alone.
One of my favorite ways to keep silent, though I haven’t implemented it yet, is through fiction. Lon Milo Duquette did an excellent job of this by writing Chicken Qabalah pseudopigraphically (this also makes it a really enjoyable read). Grant Morrison dually accomplishes making a hypersigil *and* keeping silent by writing The Invisibles (which I just finished, have I mentioned I highly recommend it?) Alan Moore does the same in Promethea (next on my comics-to-read list). This may well explain why magicians are so prevalent in the comic world – stories don’t break oaths of secrecy, and yet fiction is often more real than the truth.
Considering I’ve been doing more ritual work lately than ever (and that’s all I’m telling you!) I’m going to endeavor from now on to do a better job of keeping silent. This is especially hard for me, having grown up in the internet age where everything is blabbed about on facebook and twitter and pretty much every previously “secret” or “sacred” text is available in pdf form for free. Despite the difficulties, I’m going to make it work, because without Silence as my aid I’ll accomplish very little indeed.
Until next time!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
October 17, 2010 § 2 Comments
It seems only fitting for me to have finished the chapter entitled “Initiation never ends” in Generation Hex (a Disinformation anthology) , as I pulled into my stop on the train home tonight. I feel that today either the beginning has ended, or the beginning has just begun – either way, something has occurred, and I have been made aware of it.
I entered the city this morning full of promise and hope, gearing up to attend my first Gnostic Mass. The mass was held in Queens by the local O.T.O, and was truly mind blowing. Having only ever been to a traditional catholic mass, the Gnostic Mass was exceptionally refreshing. I won’t divulge too many details (in the spirit of attempting to honor the “..and to keep silent” maxim) but I will tell you that it was a beautiful experience. The whole thing sat incredibly well with me, and it felt good to be surrounded by that many like minded people. There was not a moment where I felt uncomfortable, or unsettled, or even remotely out of place. Everything resonated precisely in key.
I now have many book recommendations written down, and many mental notes to make physical, and many good feelings and plans all around. A friend’s paraphrase of Alan Moore has echoed in my mind for days now, and I can now conclude I understand it:
“Magic goes from a place you visit to a place you live”
Magic was a place I visited for a long time. I would go there, and read, and be interested and enthralled. And then I would leave, go to school, wander around, talk to my friends, and forget I had been there at all. There was a lot of “forgetting” all around. Today was like a housewarming gift from the Universe, the “Powers that Be” decided to acknowledge I had moved in, and pleasantly welcomed me to the neighborhood. As proof of this (though it is only one of many signs I saw), I give you a picture of some graffiti at the subway station, which corresponded nicely the essay in Generation Hex I read on the train not much later, called “Eris is my Biatch”
Seeing “Eris” there was certainly a nice way to close the evening, and I’m glad I saw it before the sun set and made it invisible.
I almost forgot to mention that today marks 2 years since my mother passed away. Last year at this time I spent the whole day thinking of her. This year is a new feeling – I am settled, and I am a more confident, ambitious and happy person than I was then, and than I have ever been. I miss my mom, but I know she would be proud of how I spent today, and what I’m accomplishing and the self I’m building. Both her presence and her absence have made me a stronger, more resilient and compassionate person.
This post in loving memory of Nancy, my mother, the strongest woman I’ve ever known and a constant inspiration.
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
Well, well, well. It’s been quite the week, and I have much to report. I was sick from about monday ’till thursday (still feeling it a bit, but I’m getting there) – Thursday night I met with a few other theistic Satanists (not a perfect label for myself, but it’ll do) in NYC (see Diane Vera’s meetup page) and had an excellent discussion that kept me thinking for days. Friday night a friend from high school came into town and I spent all day with her, Saturday night I went to a concert in the city (Ratatat, great electronica band, check ’em out) then I was in a wedding all day Sunday.
In all honesty, I could write a whole post on each of these nights, but I’m going to try to keep myself brief.
The meetup Thursday night was a truly moving experience for me. Besides my good friend Jonathan, I hadn’t met any other occultists in person. Just being able to look someone in the face and ask them “Why do you feel drawn to Satan/Lucifer? What do you consider the difference between the two, if any?” and to have them answer genuinely and intelligently – was so validating for me. I was also made aware of a few issues that desperately need attention in the left-hand scene, which I’d like to draw your attention to.
The New Apostolic Reformation is a recent movement within Protestant Christianity – and the fastest growing movement in Christianity today. These are not your garden variety evangelicals, but rather a new, driven and dangerous group endeavoring to spread their ideology as far as possible. Their main (and most terrifying goal) is to infiltrate the “seven mountains” of society: government, arts and entertainment, media, education, family, religion, and business.
They also practice “spiritual mapping” and “prayer walking” which is essentially the practice of assigning areas to members of the church to walk along and pray for the salvation of the residents. This may seem harmless, but when leaders of the church brag about running “witches” out of town (one leader bragged that of 15 “targets”, 10 put their houses on the market) it’s time to be concerned.
Branches of the Reformation currently in Africa have lead to child abuse/death on the basis that children can become “witches” and are therefore a danger to their family. More on this in this article: http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/associated-press-report-highlights-nigerian-boy-doused-in-acid-by-father-after-pastor-accused-him-of-witchcraft/
Founder of the group New Yorkers of Religious Based Bigotry, Diane Vera, has been kind enough to provide me with some resources on this topic, and has written articles on the issue herself (see here). Also, the Talk to Action blog has a number of articles on the topic.
The Left Hand Path community (that means most of you, dear readers) needs to be concerned about this. The media hasn’t taken much of an interest in the issue, and when it does, it doesn’t distinguish the group from other evangelicals. The New Apostolic Reformation is different from typical evangelical Christianity (most evangelicals actually consider NAR to be heretical), and much more dangerous. This group encourages exorcisms, abuse, stalking and harassment in the name of religion, and needs to be stopped. Tell everyone you know.
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
October 4, 2010 § 2 Comments
I had said on twitter I probably wouldn’t post today, considering I’m awfully ill (terribly chest congestion/cough/sinus/plague type thing) (yes I know I’m being hyperbolic by calling it the plague, but seriously I feel awful). However, despite feeling crappy and overusing parentheses, I really do want to make this post. I’ve had an urge to post on a few subjects today, so I may cover a few things. Mostly though, I want to sum up what I’ve discovered about Wicca.
I wanted to look into Wicca because of the more underground religions, Wicca seems incredibly popular, especially with people my age and younger. I had never really looked into it, because my first exploration into the occult was through Satanism, and I had allied myself with the point-down pentagram. By contrast, Wicca’s point-up pentagram seemed too mainstream and cheery for my rebellious sensibilities. That prejudice persisted for a long time, but as seems to be the theme of this blog – I’m older now, and more open, and trying to learn about things I wouldn’t otherwise look into.
I perused a few sites on Wicca before I found one I really liked (which I’ll get into later). The first few gave a general overview, and I can tell you if there’s anything I learned it’s this:
The Wiccan Rede: “An it harm none, do what ye will”
That is EVERYWHERE. I have to say, I’m not a huge fan. Maybe it’s the Satanist in me, but I think that’s too limiting for an ethical absolute. And I’m a vegetarian! I do what I can not to cause harm where it isn’t necessary, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I prefer Crowley’s version “Do what thou wilt” but not as a call to hedonism – as some misconstrue it – but a command to follow your innermost Will, your true magical calling. The split between personal ego and spiritual Will is essential to me, and I don’t know that the Wiccan Rede follows that. Also worth noting is that “rede” means advice, not law.
More worth noting about Wicca:
-Wiccans worship a deity (deities?) referred to sometimes as the Godess, or God and Godess, or God-ess. There is a dualism there, but not necessarily a dichotomy.
-Wiccans are earth based, and worship and appreciate nature deeply.
-Wicca is decentralized, and many different traditions and factions of Wicca exist
-Wicca is not Satanism. That should be obvious.
Most of what I read on Wicca seemed to support my earlier prejudices – that Wicca is a cheery, earth worshipping, hippie religion. That is, until I found a website called Wicca, For The Rest of Us which taught me otherwise, at least to an extent. The site makes a point of fighting against the “fluffy bunny” wiccans who fit my prejudice. It’s easy to see why I had such prejudice, the only Wiccans I ever met were in high school. Not that you can’t be serious about your spiritual beliefs in high school, but they’re usually a little underdeveloped at that age.
I adore the tone the author of the site takes, and admired his/her devotion to contrasting those that give Wicca such a bad name in such a intellectual and intelligent way. I genuinely respect the effort. Despite the effort, however, it’s still not for me.
It doesn’t seem to have enough of an emphasis on transcendence for me to like it. My whole philosophy is about constantly reinventing myself to become a better, more efficient, capable human being. I’m sure that’s at least part of Wiccan philosophy, but it’s not a big enough part for me to want to adhere to it. I much prefer Satanism’s emphasis on the individual and becoming “adept”. I am glad that I looked into Wicca though, and I’m incredibly glad there are people out there that aren’t “fluffy bunny” wiccans. We need less fluffy bunny people in the whole occult scene, in my opinion.
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
September 26, 2010 § 1 Comment
I spent a bit of time this morning perusing my earlier blog posts (in prepartion for my interview for the Luciferian Research Society podcast, check it out!) and I realized I had never done an update on my Progress 8/31 post. That certainly needs to be remedied.
What I’ve accomplished:
Meditation: I don’t actually meditate in the morning anymore. Lately I’ve found that if I try to meditate right after I wake up, I will go right back to sleep. What I’m thinking I might do, though, is wake up *then* wash my face with cold water or something to wake myself up further, *then* try to meditate. That’ll go in the goals section.
Aside from that, I’ve definitely lengthened the amount of time I can sit still and meditate – at least doubled. What I’ve been doing is setting the timer on the microwave, then sitting at the bottom of my stairs to meditate. I know it sounds like an odd place but there’s a method to my madness! My dog, Jake, decided somewhere along the line that if anyone ever sat on the floor in my house he’d sit in their lap immediately *especially* if they’re sitting cross-legged. The problem? Not only is that distracting, but he’s over 80 lbs. See cutie below :)
Sorry, I jump at any excuse to show people my Jakers, I’m such a dog person. Back to the point! I started setting the timer for 6 minutes and that was long enough – it also usually took me a while to get settled and comfortable. Today I’m at 12 minutes and I can enter a meditative state almost immediately – and I don’t even meditate everyday. Progress accomplished!
Drumming: I’ve definitely made this a meditative method, and I’ve been practicing more often. If I get into a pretty stable, loud groove long enough (usually with a lot of floor tom use, I love the floor tom) I can get myself into a bit of a trance state. I can’t sustain it for very long, for both mental and physical reasons, but I’m getting better.
Lucid dreaming/astral projection: No progress on the astral projection front so far. Generally when I have the opportunity to sleep, that’s all I want to do. I know you don’t actually have to be going to sleep to astral project, but I’ve made it my habit and when I’m not too tired it seems to work. I just can’t imagine trying to astral project during the day, it seems weird to me.
I’ve been keeping a dream journal as consistently as possible, but I haven’t lucid dreamt yet. I need to do more of the “reality check” type things (where you check during the day to see if you’re dreaming or not, by trying to read a clock or text or spinning around and doing other things you can’t do in a dream). Last time I was lucid during a dream, it was because I did a reality check.
Meditation: Meditate longer, and use a greater variety of techniques. So far I’ve primarily been doing chakra based work and Japa, but I’d like to do more void/focal meditation and other methods. By the end of October I’d like to be able to meditate for a solid half hour, no moving, no breaks.
Drumming: Need to be able to sustain the trance-like state for longer, and practice more in general. I have to be able to do single and double rolls (and sustain them) by the end of October. I know that sounds really, really basic to anyone who plays drums, but I only started playing a couple months ago. Working on it!
Lucid Dreaming/Astral Projection: I need to start going to bed early enough to at least work on Astral projection. I’ve really enjoyed it when I’ve made progress, and I know it’s possible to achieve. As far as lucid dreaming goes, I need to do more reality checks and keep a more detailed dream journal. There have been times when I’ve woken up and remembered a dream, but I’ve been too tired to actually roll over and write it down. I need to stop doing that. I want to have at least experienced lucidity in a dream by the end of October.
Fitness goals: Well, I walked four miles today, which is the most I’ve walked in town so far (at least that I’ve clocked) so I’m thinking by the end of October I should do at least 5. And I want to be more flexible, so I’ll make my goal for next month to be able to do a split. I’ve never been able to, and it looks like fun. Thankfully, I’ve always been able to touch my toes!
Other goals: Finish reading The Invisibles and The Book of Lies (the Disinfo anthology, not the Crowley book).
Phew. That’s a lot of goals. I feel motivated just by writing it down and publishing it, so that must be a good start.
Wish me luck!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
September 20, 2010 § 2 Comments
Aleister Crowley and Thelema, the philosophy (some call it a religion, but that’s a debate I won’t get into now) of which he is the prophet, are two subjects not to be taken lightly – especially when addressing others interested in western occultism. I’ve intended to do a post on Crowley for weeks, after I had started reading his biography. It’s been years since I first came across Crowley (I started trying to read his works my sophomore year of high school, which proved entirely too difficult to accomplish). I have to admit I’m still wrapping my head around the whole thing. The man is ubiquitous, his ideas permeate nearly everything I read on the occult, and everyone seems to have an opinion on him.
I finally decided instead of attempting to summarize his ideas into a neat little post (as I did on Chaos Magick and Hermeticism and so on) I’d do something a bit more subjective. Since most people are familiar with at least the basic concepts of Thelema, I thought I’d bullet out a few and respond with my thoughts.
- Concept: “The Book of the Law” was dictated to Crowley in Cairo by Aiwass, his Holy Guardian Angel
I don’t believe it, personally. I think Crowley was so intent on being inspired and the atmosphere of Cairo was so magical and interesting that his mind created a voice for him to hear. I don’t doubt the validity of what it said, nor do a doubt it was his Holy Guardian Angel, I just don’t believe it was an external, sentient being. I believe what Crowley wrote in the Book of the Law and in his subsequent literature came from a place within himself.
- Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
If this were just a hedonist statement, I’d have to strongly disagree. But I know it isn’t. Crowley defines the True Will as something outside of a person’s personal ego and desires, and a calling to reunite with the Divine. I’m a fan of that idea, I think it’s very motivating and I’ve definitely seen it in action. There have been plenty of times where my personal ego has tried to get in the way of my True Will. It’s definitely a separate thing, and I think to make following that will “the whole law” is a pretty solid rule to live by. I know that if I followed that sort of gut-spiritual-calling as often as I know I should, I’d be a better more enlightened person. On a related matter…
- Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel is essential to knowing your True Will
Can’t really argue with that one, and it’s quite a poetic and romantic way of saying “if you don’t listen to yourself, you won’t do what you’re supposed to”. If I could somehow make my inner Will manifest as an eternal being and talk to it, I’d be *thrilled*. That seems kind of like self-induced multiple personality disorder, but that’s something I’ve considered as a method. Apparently Crowley eventually decided the HGA wasn’t an internal thing, but an independent external being. That I don’t believe, for the same reasons I don’t believe Aiwass was a separate being that spoke to him. With the experiences I’ve had thus far, it just doesn’t seem feasible to me.
- Crowley’s ritual methods/personal philosophy
Let me put it this way: Crowley was more into sex, drugs, homosexuality and indulgence than I am, and that’s saying something. I think he went too far (I’ve heard rumors he made a student of his have sex with a goat. I don’t see the pragmatism in that) and I don’t think a lot of his theatrical extravagance was necessary. Personally I prefer a slightly more safe, less complicated way of going about things.
As far as his ritual methods go, I’m not real into it. That could be because I fear what I don’t understand, and I admittedly have a crappy grasp on the Qabbalah right now. Even taking that into consideration though, there’s an awful lot of steps to what he does, and preparation and diagrams and numerology and what have you. I lean more towards the chaos magick side of things, so I’m way more into sigils and inhibitory/excitatory gnosis and slightly more user-friendly magick than what Crowley does. Whatever works for the individual, though.
- Magick defined as “”the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”
This is by far my favorite thing Crowley has ever said. It is absolutely perfect, I have no criticism of it at all. I’d have to say that’s why I spell “magick” with a “k” – because Crowley did, and his definition of magick is thus far my favorite of everything I’ve come across. Magick is definitely both a Science and an Art – it’s beautiful, but it is also systematic, and evolves with the acquisition of new knowledge, like science. It causes changes – rarely do you try to perform magick if you want things to stay the way they are. Finally, it’s all in conformity with your Will, and of course it is! That’s the whole point. You’re making something happen because you want it to. Magicians make things happen. I love it.
- The Abramelin Operation
Not something I ever plan on doing, sorry folks. I can see the appeal, but a six month-long ritual is beyond the scope of possibility to me. Also, I don’t know that I’d ever be able to conjure enough faith in the validity of the ritual for it to work – after all, belief is what makes magic happen, and I don’t have any actually attachment to the Abramelin Operation. Plus, the origins of it are so distant and unknown (apparently Jewish, from the Book of Abraham, which I don’t know much about) that I’d have trouble relating to it on too many levels. Six months! If anyone reading this has actually succeeded in accomplishing this, I’d love to hear about it, and I’d also love to salute you for such incredible effort. Impressive.
That’s as much as I intend to respond to for now. I know there are countless concepts within Crowley’s writings that I could expound on, but for now this will do. What I actually finish reading the biography (Do What Thou Wilt by Lawrence Sutin) I’ll post about Crowley again. I’m entirely open to people responding with their own interpretations of concepts within Thelema, so please leave a comment!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
September 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’m writing this through the pangs of a budding migraine – because I have to, because I know if I don’t post something now, even if it’s not substantial, I’ll give up on it.
I have trouble with keeping things up. But I’ve been in the spirit of rekindling old commitments today (I had my first drum lesson in well over a month, made some serious progress) I thought I’d put something up. I had told myself my next post would be on Crowley, but I’m not ready for that yet. The man is a legend and deserves a thorough study before I claim to understand him.
What I wanted to write about tonight is initiation – not only that, but what draws us into the occult, what a calling feels like. I started a book yesterday called “Hands On Chaos Magick” by Andrieh Vitimus, a chaos magician and voudon priest. In the opening pages, he states:
“If you are facing a real initiation, it is my sincere hope that the book will help you in some small way. By “real initiation,” I distinctly mean the kind of magical initiation that cannot take place within a magical order, but more so where you alone must face yourself and a host of realizations that probably drastically alter the course of your life. Sometimes these initiations are not by conscious choice…”
I heavily sympathize with what he says here. More than a few times since I became interested in the occult (but especially recently) I’ve asked myself if I could live without this. If I could drop the whole thing, live and think like “normal” people, and live with myself. I can’t. I definitely can’t. It would be easier, though, of course it would. It would be simple to just go to school, do my work, take care of things at home and carry on as any girl my age would.
Can’t do it, though. I’ve found this whole other world, this whole other version of reality, of perception, a whole different way of living and I can’t drop that. It’s more work, naturally – I’ve done more reading and researching on the occult this semester than I have on any of my schoolwork, and probably ever will. I find new things every day, new theories, new ideas – and nothing energizes me more than putting the puzzle together.
I’m tired. It gets overwhelming, and I think especially so with the amount of information the internet provides. I can download an entire library of grimoires in an afternoon whereas not even a few decades ago I’d have to hunt then down at occult bookstores across the country, and probably never find half of them. I’m constantly finding something new to read, and sometimes that will cause me to totally shift my perception – which is where the ouroboros comes in. I’m always eating my own tail, I’m perpetually reinventing myself and my beliefs. It’s electric because it’s like a flash of lightning – so bright and illuminating and powerful, but only available for a split second. It’s a constant chase.
I’m waxing poetic and babbling, so I’m going to stop. Just wanted to put down how I felt, this way it’s here for me to read when I feel this way again and wonder how I got through it.
Ipsa scientia potestas est,