Mixed Qabalah and American Conjure

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Of the Circle, and the Composition Thereofe

As pseudo-D’Abano states in the Heptameron, or Magical Elements:

“The form of Circles is not alwaies one and the same; but useth to be changed, according to the order of the Spirits that are to be called, their places, times, daies and hours. For in making a Circle, it ought to be considered in what time of the year, what day, and what hour, that you make the Circle; what Spirits you would call, to what Star and Region they do belong, and what functions they have.”

For the purposes of this experiment, one will need a place on the floor that will provide the working space for the conjure lamp, ideally no less than three and a half feet, though modifications can be made. While it is preferable that one be able to draw this with chalk on a bare floor, this is not always possible so some modifications such as purchasing a piece of wood large enough on which to draw the circle, or a piece of fabric or paper where it can be drawn in blessed ink. Since this methodology is highly syncretic, one may use Dragon’s Blood or Bat’s Blood ink if this is to be drawn on fabric or paper.

Since this ritual will be dealing with the conjuration of Samael, the Angel of Tuesday and Mars, one will make the following considerations in the construction of the circle[1]:

  1. Create three concentric circles, the largest being about three feet, the second about two and a half feet and the third about a foot and a half.[2]
  2. In the middle circle, write the name of the hour in which you work. In this case it would be “Thanu”, followed by Michael, next his sigil, then his ministers Carmax, Ismoli, and Paffran; then the name of the present time which here is Casmaran; then the spirits ruling in this time which would be Gargatel, Tariel, and Gaviel; then the head of the time which here is Tubiel, the name of the earth which here is Festivati; next the Sun which is Athemay and the Moon which is Armatus.
  3. In the outermost circle, going clockwise, write Samax Rex (or King) at the 12 o’clock point, then Carmax at the three o’clock point, Ismoli at the six o’clock point, then Paffran at the nine o’clock point. Since the wind to which the angels are subject is East, the circle should be facing that direction.
  4. In the third circle, the Heptameron advises one to write, “four divine names with crosses interposed in the middle of the Circle; to wit, towards the East let there be written Alpha, and towards the West let there be written Omega; and let a cross divide the middle of the Circle.” The implication in the text is that one is to write Adonay in the upper right circle; Eloy in the lower right; Agla in the lower left corner, and Tetragrammaton in the upper left corner. While personally I tend to stick with those directions, there’s no particular reason that it couldn’t be substituted with the names found in Agrippa, the Golden Dawn or elsewhere.
  5. In the innermost circle, where traditionally the magician would stand with his or her company, one quarters this area into an equal armed cross with “Alpha” written at the top and “et ω” at the bottom.
  6. Outside of the circle Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Northwest portions of the circle, draw four pentagrams. These don’t need to be anything more elaborate than simple, five-pointed stars.

Naturally, the above directions concerning the specific names will change throughout the course of the year or the time chosen to perform the ritual, but these can be easily figured out beforehand and drawn out on a separate piece of paper to help with the construction during ritual.

The Consecrations and Benedictions: and first of the Benediction of the Circle, The Benediction of Perfumes, & The Exorcisme of the fire upon which the perfumes are to be put.

After completing the construction of the circle, one goes through the consecrations and benedictions of the working area and tools to be used. The procedure is familiar enough to those who have some degree of experience in Solomonic magic (who may already have most of these tools at their disposal), however for others who may be unfamiliar I highly recommend Aaron Lietch’s Secrets of the Magical Grimoires as a comprehensive starting point.

In the meantime however, let’s look at how we can approach this with the bare minimum of materials. For the aspergillum, which you will use for aspersing the various items and working space, one can easily use an evergreen branch of some kind or, following the Greater Key of Solomon, one can make a sprinkler of vervain, fennel, lavender, sage, valerian, mint, garden-basil, rosemary, and hyssop, in the day and hour of Mercury or, at minimum, in the hour of Mercury. Next you will need some holy water either procured from a Church (Catholic and Episcopal Churches generally have a ready supply) or make your own following the instructions in chapter five of the Greater Key of Solomon, which is readily available online, concerning the baths and how they are to be arranged.

With this, asperse the circle reciting the versicle from Psalms, “Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” While it’s not implicit in the text, there’s no reason necessarily that one couldn’t take the time to asperse all the working implements for this particular working.

Next, one will need the perfumes as listed in the text. The Heptameron, being somewhat simplistic, suggests pepper as the incense for Mars. While this is certainly not without precedent, even burning small portions of pepper can have quite the effect on one’s mucous membranes. For a much less harsh suffimigation, I suggest Aaron Leitch’s recipe found on his blog entry on planetary suffumigations[3]:

“1 part Pipe Tobacco (or, my favorite, “Black and Mild”)

1/2 part Cinnamon

1/8th part Crushed Red Pepper”

As he advises, and I reiterate, DO NOT use too much pepper. It can burn. One could feasibly substitute ground black pepper which, while potent, doesn’t have as harsh of an effect.

Once you have made or prepared the incense, make the sign of the cross upon yourself, and recite the following and sprinkle a little more holy water on the incense:

“The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, bless here the creatures of these kinds, that they may fill up the power and virtue of their odors; so that neither the enemy, nor any false imagination, may be able to enter into them: through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.”

Next, having lit the charcoal in your censer (which could just be as simple as a soup bowl used specifically for this purpose), recite the following:

“I exorcise thee, O thou creature of fire, by him by whom all things are made, that forthwith thou cast away every phantasm from thee, that it shall not be able to do any hurt in anything. Bless also, O Lord, this creature of fire, and sanctify it, that it may be blessed to set forth the praise of thy holy name, that no hurt may come to the Exorcist (or Magician) or Spectators: through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.”

While the traditional text implies that one can and should have special garments set aside for the working, this is not strictly necessary. It’s more than enough to wear clean clothing or, drawing inspiration from African Diasporaic traditions, all white clothing may be considered as a viable alternative. These can be sprinkled with holy water prior to being put on while saying:

“Ancor, Amacor, Amides, Theodonias, Anitor, by the merits of thy Angel, O Lord, I will put on the Garments of Salvation, that this which I desire I may bring to effect: through thee the most holy Adonay, whose kingdom endureth for ever and ever. Amen.”

The Heptameron suggests working when the moon is increasing and equal, effectively during the waxing period of the moon or on the Full Moon itself. In my opinion there’s no reason this can’t be worked with in such a way as utilizing the increasing of the moon cycle for beneficial or positive purposes or the waning cycle for bindings or other such operations.

Here is where we depart from the traditional text.

Of the Lampe of the Arte

At this point in the Heptameron, the magician would enter the circle and begin a long cycle of prayers and conjurations of the spirits, but piggy backing off the inspiration of Chad Balthazar, its at this point that the magical lamp takes out place. Up to this point I’ve established the more or less traditional procedures for creating the temple and arranging the basic items, but here is where we enter into American folk tradition. These items, like the above, can be arranged in the same way as the others or blessed and consecrated as in the Greater Key of Solomon. I don’t particularly place priority on one or the other as it’s primarily a matter of aesthetic. What you will need for your Martial lamp are the following objects:

  • An small iron cauldron or black, fire-proof bowl.
  • At least 12 oz, or about .35L of mustard oil
  • Enough aluminum foil to cover ¼ to ½ of the container
  • Wormwood, licorice root chips, and asafetida powder (hing) [4]
  • Dragon’s blood oil[5] or Fiery Wall of Protection
  • Coffin Nails
  • Graveyard dirt from a soldier, police office, or judge.
  • A natural cotton ball rolled out into a wick shape or a floating wick
  • A piece of parchment or paper bag for your petition
  • Optional, beeswax for a poppet of the individual(s) you wish to work on or their pictures which could be found in a newspaper or social media.

To prepare the lamp, you can purify it with holy water as in the above or, if you’re inclined, you can clean it with Florida Water, War Water, Peace Water or the like depending on your purpose. Next you can bless the herbs by reciting the above prayers over it or use traditional Psalms. In this case one could use, Psalm 3:2-9, Psalm 133, Psalm 71, Psalm 121, and/or Psalm 100 for justice or victory. After you pray the Psalms over each of these herbs individually you place them in the container. The same can be done with the physical objects such as the small poppets with the offending person’s name written on it while anointing them with the intended oil and being placed in the container.

If you are using a poppet, construct them in the appropriate gender of the given person and write the person’s name on their back. You can also add appropriate herbs or oils to them after “baptizing” them in the name of the person. From here it can also be pierced with nails, pins, glass or bound to effect what your desires are.

On the piece of parchment, write the person’s name five times (relating to the number of Mars) and turning it clockwise for protection write over it: “Deliver from Evil” or, for coercive magic, write: “Punish for their Crime”. On the back of the paper, you can draw the sigil of Samael and Machen as given in the Heptameron and then anoint the paper with the condition oil and place at the very bottom of the container before adding the herbs or place under the physical container.

Next, pour the mustard oil into the container while reciting a personal prayer or statement of intent for this lamp. For something coercive you can pray something along the lines of:

“In the name of God the Father Almighty, Samael, Michael and all the hosts of heaven, upon the Earth and under the Earth; I call upon you to bring justice and persecute [Name of Person] until they are brought to true Justice. May they may never know peace or quietude until they stand before Judgement. I ask this in the name of Christ your Son, the Just Judge, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.”

For a protective operation, one may recite something like the following:

“O Lord, you who protected the people of Israel as they were enslaved by Pharaoh and brought them out of Egypt. Look kindly on [Name of Person, Activist Organization, or General People] your sons and daughters who cry to you for Justice and Relief. Grant thou that their prayers be heard and effective and lasting Justice reign over all. I ask this in the your Name, through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.”

Finally, make a small hole in the aluminum and place the rolled up wick into it, allowing it to soak up all the oil. If you’re so inspired you may also add some conditioning oil to it in order to increase the connection between all the objects. At this point you may also anoint four red candles and situate them in the pentagrams outside the circle itself. Having prepared the lamp, placed it in the middle of the Circle. You may begin the conjurations as outlined in the text.

An Exorcisme of the Spirits of the Air.

First, kneel, facing East and pray the following:

“O Angels of the Lord, come to my aid and aid me in the petitions I’m about to make.”[6]

Next, repeat the following at each of the four directions:

“I adjure thee to come and bear witness, by the seat of Adonai and by these other names: O Theos, Ischuros, Athanato, Paracletos, Alpha and Omega; and by the secret and ineffable names: AGLA, ON, TETRAGRAMMATON, that you come at once and fulfil what I most desire.”[7]

Next, perform the exorcism of the Spirits of the Air, saying:

“Imbued and made in the image and likeness of God after His Divine and Most Powerful Will, and by the name of God, EL, strong and wonderful, I exorcise thee by the one who spake and it was done, and by all the names of God, and by the name ADONAI, EL, ELOHIM, ELOEH, SABAOTH, ELION and ESHERCHIE; and in the Name of JAH, TETRAGRAMMATON, the Spirit of the Lord Most High, do I exorcise thee and command you to appear in a fair and comely form without any tortuosity or deformity. I call you in the name of this seal and by the name of YOD which Adam heard and was made sensible; and by the Name of God, AGLA, which Lot heard and was saved together with his family, and by the name JOTH which Jacob heard from the angel wrestling him and was delivered from the hand of Esau; and by the power of Thy Name: ANAPHEXETON, which was spoken and Aaron heard and became wise; and by the name SABAOTH which Moses spake and the rivers and marshes in Egypt became blood; and by the name ESCHERHIE which Moses spake and the banks became infested with mice and frogs which went into the houses of the Egyptians; and by the name ELIONAS, which Moses spake and there was a hail such as which had not been since the beginning of the World; and by the name ADONAI which Moses spake and caused locust to appear over the face of Egypt and consume all the grains; and by SCHEMA AMATHI which Joshua called and the Sun delayed its course; and by ALPHA and OMEGA which Daniel spake and caused Ba’al – that great dragon – to fall asunder; and in the name EMMANUEL, which being spoken saved the three children Shadrach, Meshach and Abednago from the furnace of burning fire causing them to flee singing; and by the name HAGIOS, and by the seat of ADONAI, and O THEOS, ISCHUROS, ATHANATOS and PARACLETOS; and by these three names AGLA, ON, TETRAGRAMMATON, I adjure you spirits to testify before Lord, the Almighty, Ever Living and True; you, O Spirits, who fell from heaven, who had been cast into hell, I exorcise you by him who brought it all to pass, to whom all creatures obey, who created the awe inspiring sea, and sits above the Earth with the Four Mighty Spirits before His Throne, and by all the holy angels of Heaven, and by the Church of God and by the sum of [8]His Almighty Wisdom do I potently exorcise thee that you may appear and fulfill our will and that of all men of good will; and by Seat BALDACHIAE, and by His Name PRIMEUMATON, which Moses named and swallowed the Dathan, Korah and Abiram into the Deep; and by the power of PRIMEUMATON, which the unleashed the hosts of heavens to curse and deprive you of your duties, bound you in the depths of the Abyss until the Day of Be With Us, and dispatched you into the Eternal Fire, and threw you into the lake of fire and brimstone, and call you by ADONAI SABAOTH, ADONAI AMIORAM, to come! Come! Come thou in the name of ANONAI, SHADDAI, King of Kings, EL, ATY, TITEIP, AZIA, HYN, JEN, MINOSEL, ACHADAN: VAY, VA, EY, HAA, EYE, EXE, A, EL, EL, EL, A, HY, HAU, HAU, HAU, VA, VA, VA, VA!”

The above is addressed to the spirits of the air or aerial daemons who according to classic thought could appear in several forms and imitate other spirits. Naturally, by medieval times, their identity switched from daemonic to demonic.

A Prayer to God, to be said in the four parts of the world, in the Circle.

Next, say this prayer to the four directions:

“A Morule, Taneha, Latisten, Rabur, Taneha, Latisten. Escha, Aladia, Alpha & Omega, Leyste, Oriston, Adonay: O my most merciful heavenly Father, have mercy upon me, although a sinner; make appear the arm of thy power in me this day (although thy unworthy child) against these obstinate and pernicious Spirits, that I by thy will may be made a contemplator of thy divine works, and may be illustrated with all wisdom, and alwaies worship and glorifie thy name. I humbly implore and beseech thee, that these Spirits which I call by thy judgement, may be bound and constrained to come, and give true and perfect answers to those things which I shall ask them, and that they may declare and shew unto us those things which by me or us shall be commanded them, not hurting any creature, neither injuring nor terrifying me or my fellows, nor hurting any other creature, and affrighting no man; but let them be obedient to my requests, in all these things which I command them.”

Then:

“I do invocate and conjure thee, O Spirit, N. 1; and being with power armed from the SUPREME MAJESTY, I do strongly command thee, by BERALANENSIS, BALDACHIENSIS, PAUMACHIA, and APOLOGIAE SEDES; by the most Powerful Princes, Genii, Liachidæ, and Ministers of the Tartarean Abode; and by the Chief Prince of the Seat of Apologia in the Ninth Legion, I do invoke thee, and by invocating conjure thee. And being armed with power from the SUPREME MAJESTY, I do strongly command thee, by Him Who spake and it was done, and unto whom all creatures be obedient. Also I, being made after the image of GOD, endued with power from GOD and created according unto His will, do exorcise thee by that most mighty and powerful name of GOD, EL, strong and wonderful; O thou Spirit N. And I command thee and Him who spake the Word and His FIAT was accomplished, and by all the names of God. Also by the names ADONAI, EL, ELOHIM, ELOHI, EHYEH, ASHER EHYEH, ZABAOTH, ELION, IAH, TETRAGRAMMATON, SHADDAI, LORD GOD MOST HIGH, I do exorcise thee and do powerfully command thee, O thou Spirit N., that thou dost forthwith appear unto me here before this Circle in a fair human shape, without any deformity or tortuosity. And by this ineffable name, TETRAGRAMMATON IEHOVAH, do I command thee, at the which being heard the elements are overthrown, the air is shaken, the sea runneth back, the fire is quenched, the earth trembleth, and all the hosts of the celestials, terrestrials, and infernals, do tremble together, and are troubled and confounded. Wherefore come thou, O Spirit N., forthwith, and without delay, from any or all parts of the world wherever thou mayest be, and make rational answers unto all things that I shall demand of thee. Come thou peaceably, visibly, and affably, now, and without delay, manifesting that which I shall desire. For thou art conjured by the name of the LIVING and TRUE GOD, HELIOREN, wherefore fulfil thou my commands, and persist thou therein unto the end, and according unto mine interest, visibly and affably speaking unto me with a voice clear and intelligible without any ambiguity.”

After this you likely won’t have much need for the pentacle as described in the original text so the conjurations concerning that are omitted in this particular case. If you should choose to use the pentacle, you may draw it on a piece of paper or parchment and wear it around your neck or as your waist level.

Conjuration for the Day of Tuesday, and Visions and Apparations

Next, light the lamp and place incense in the charcoal and repeat the following which is the Conjuration for the Day of Mars:

“I invoke and conjure you, O Spirits, by the hosts and legions of angels and saints, and by these names: Ya, Ya, Ya, He, He, He, Va, Hy, Hy, Ha, Ha, Ha, Va, Va, Va, An, An, An, Aie, Aie, Aie, El, Ay, Elibra, Elohim, Elohim and by all the names of the Lord Most High who caused the waters to quit and dry land appear, who didst bring forth the trees and herbs from the Earth and found it to be Good; and by His Name and the angels who rule in the Fifth Heaven and do Serve thy Holy Angel, great, powerful and honored above, and by the name of your planet Mars, and by the above names, do conjure thee, Samael, angel of Greatness, who art chief ruler of the day of Mars and by the name Adonai, the true and living God, that thou wilt heed my petition that I present before you.”

Because this operation is somewhat different from the traditional conjuration, wait for a few moments until you sense the presence of the angel. Signs that he might be present are that the flames of the candles burn more brightly or taller or that you feel a sudden wave or heat. Be patient. If the angel does not immediately make himself known, repeat the above up to five times.

When you sense his presence, you may make your petition known to the angel as you would during any other standard invocation. You may also consider inquiring the names, order, and sigils of the angels of Samael that would be best suited to your needs. Naturally, since this isn’t a formal conjuration, his presence may not be felt that strongly or visibly, in which case you may ask that he send you a vision in a dream of the sigils and appropriate information of the spirits you may wish to conjure yourself and put into your employment.

Once you are done with communicating with the Angel and his attendant spirits with your request, you may politely thank them for their assistance and bid them license to depart by saying:

“+ In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the +Holy Spirit, go in peace back unto your abodes and habitations and may there be peace between us until I call again.”

 

Following this operation, you may consider burning the lamp for a period of nine days as one would a novena candle. Every day, preferably in the hour of Mars; you may refill the oil lamp, trim or replace the wick, and maybe add a drop or two of the conditioning oil while reciting the conjuration for the day of Tuesday.When the nine day period is over or when you, may thank Samael once again either through conjuration or through performing an action de gras[9] or some other formal offering.

 

Magus_Circle1
Also, one should not, not use this in an applied manner such as bringing justice people who systematically oppress others, like this person here, here, or here.

[1] This article, being written in August for the third hour of Mars, I discuss the circle as it would be made in this season. Minor alterations will need to be made to account for various seasonal patterns.

[2] 91.44, 76.2, and 45.72 centimeters, give or take.

[3] http://aaronleitch.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/planetary-suffumigations-incenses/

[4] For coercive workings to bring justice: Valerian root, whole red pepper, knotweed

[5] For coercive workings one may consider oils such as Victory oil, Crossing Oil, or Commanding Oil

[6] In the Heptameron, “O Angels supradicti, estote adjutores meæ petitioni, & in adjutorium mihi, in meis rebus & petitionibus”, paraphrase mine.

[7] O vos omnes, adjuro atque contestor per sedem Adonay, per Hagios, ò Theos, Ischyros, Athanatos, Paracletos, Alpha & Omega, & per hæc tria nomina secreta, Agla, On, Tetragrammaton, quòd hodie debeatis adimplere quod cupio.

[8] Sophia?

[9] An act of thanksgiving, usually performed in vodoun to petition or thank a spirit for its aid.


A Homily

When I was in college it was common to commemorate the passing of a monk by leaving a candle or candelabra lit in a prominent location in the refractory. I saw it happen a handful of times and was struck by the gravity and acknowledgement of the monk’s life.

Similarly, being acquainted with many Jewish people and being a lackadaisical, pseudo-Talmudist, one of the things I appreciate about Judaism is the Aveilut, or mourning process which in some situations is most poetically exemplified by the rending of one’s garments upon hearing the news of the passing and saying, “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the True Judge.”

Fundamentally I thing mourning is a beautiful thing. It doesn’t need to be morbid — we are the ones in pain, not the deceased — but rather an affirmation of the person’ slide and their importance to us.

It may be funny to mention this tradition, me being a Christian and Gnostic, but let us look at the aforementioned traditions. The Sacred Flame is something that is not always visible to us, yet it exists in each of us. For earlier people, the physics of the flame was as mysterious as where rain came from and why the sun sometimes disappeared during the eclipse. Even though the light is seemingly gone, it remains a part of each of us.

In our material and fashion savvy culture it seems unimaginable to tear what might otherwise be couture or fine clothes at the mere mention of a death. As Christ and Paul taught to those who could listen, however, we exist as a priesthood of believers regardless of gender. Interestingly, the word used in the Hebrew Scriptures for priest was “Levite” a word related to the concept of sewing or mending peoples together.

When Saint Francis left his affluent upbringing he gave his fine clothes to his family and walked out from the villa naked. This mirrors how we feel with the loss of our loved ones or people who were inspirational to us. Finding himself at the margins of society, he collected scraps of discarded clothing and mended them together into the habit of a mendicant. Interestingly this is also a tradition that is done by some Buddhist sects before taking monastic ordination.

Today let us reflect not only on the passing of Robin Williams whose magnificent career touched us all, but let us piece together the memories of the past which we have buried yet make up a part of ourselves as Williams’ life was much more than simply being a performer on stage.

In a world where everything is seemingly expendable, let us all remember that people — ourselves included — are to be loved, and things to be used. And that suffering and pain happens when things are loved and people are used. Let us use our time, a fleeting thing, to love one another as best we can.

Amen.

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams, and may perpetual light shine upon you.


Light and Dark

Last night, I celebrated the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified at my apartment and gave Eucharist to a brother in Gnosis. What struck me during the service, in light of recent happenings, were the words spoken during the introductory rites where we declare ourselves united as one sacred communion where, together with the Most High, we raise a temple of living stones from the myriad with which we have been blessed, bothe light and dark.

It may seem odd for many to consider the blessings of the negative things in our lives. Often, we don’t want to acknowledge them and more often we deny them even when they’re standing right under our noses. Yet, the more we push them away, the more sinister they become — yet they can be transformed.

In 2001 I was living in Dresden, Germany; the site of one of the most devastating events of the 20th Century. While I was there, I would frequently pass construction being done on the Frauenkirche which was utterly destroyed during the Allied Firebombings, which you can read about in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”.

The Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, was built between 1726 and 1743 — beginning in the year that Sir Isaac Newton published his thesis on gravity and ending with the year in which Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin was born. The period of the Enlightenment represented the largely free and unchecked progress of humanity however, this progress and spirit of emancipation would similarly carry many darks events: the Battle of Nations, the Napoleanic Wars, the French Revolution and the start of the Industrial Age.

The Church stood as a symbol of beauty and pride for the people of Dresden who, like us, marveled at the beauty of their amazing city and didn’t address the darker elements of their society. Of these darker elements would be the slow and gradual rise of nationalistic pride and antisemitism; culminating in the events which would mark the rise of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party.

In 1945, two centuries after the beginning of construction of this great edifice, the Allied Forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city over the course of two days during which the entire city and a quarter of a million people were killed. After the end of the war, Dresden became the center of the East German Republic and all religious edifices that were destroyed lay fallow, including the Frauenkirche.

In 1989, after the reunification of Germany, a 14-member group of enthusiasts headed by Ludwig Güttler, a noted Dresden musician, formed a Citizens’ Initiative that would lead to rebuilding this symbol of the people of Dresden. This initiative would not only lead to the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche, but also the Great Synagogue of Dresden which was likewise destroyed. The foundation stone of the Frauenkirche was laid in 1994, the crypt was completed in 1996 and the inner cupola in 2000.

Sadly, I never got to see the completion and opening of the cathedral but what struck me as I walked past it regularly was how the architects incorporated the original stones – now blackened from years of acid rain as well as the original incendiary bombings in 1945 – on top of new, beautiful pink limestone.

Years later, reflecting on this, I’m led to wonder how we can come to terms with our own dark stones in the midst of our light. It’s not easy and I don’t have any answers, but when reflecting on this building, which incorporates a history of reason gone awry and turned violent alongside communal efforts out of love, I think we owe it to ourselves to consider the delicate balance and impact all our actions and words have not only for how they will impact others and ourselves now, but how they will survive us and influence others in the future.

320px-FraunkircheSouth


Boosting a Signal

If you want to encourage a great up and coming writer and voice for modern polytheism have the opportunity to speak about the gods and possibly recite T.S. Eliot after a few beers in New York, consider making a donation. Additional bonus! For every $10.00 you donate, you will receive a free sigil or small talisman from myself. From his campaign:

From July 11th to July 13th, a group of gods-worshipers are attending a conference in Fishkill, NY where we’ll be discussing what precisely we’re doing, how to do it better, and more coherently for others.  Gods seem to be flooding back into the world, or we’re noticing them more, and the point of this gathering is to figure out what this all means for ourselves, each other, the world, and the gods.

I know Rhyd to be a wonderful and thoughtful human being and believe that his presence at the Polytheist Leadership Conference will be not only a positive experience for himself, but also for those attending.


Weaving Webs of Belief

In a recent article by doctoral candidate Samuel Webster, he proposes the suggestion that belief is a mental illness. While making some interesting observations, it is unfortunate that his own personal biases against minority beliefs in Christianity have created a problematic logic in his thesis, namely that faith is first the sole central component to Christianity (and I’d presume by extension Judaism and Islam), and that faith itself is irrational and somehow counter to reason. In omitting definitions of belief, he seemingly exempts his coreligionists from having some form of belief, as well as creating a rather messy category of the subject matter. To this end, I am led to the following conclusions.

First, I propose we look at some definitions of faith in order to address some of the misconceptions of this article. According to Protestant, existentialist philosopher and systematic theologian, “[Faith] is the state of being ultimately concerned”[1], “being” in this case referring to the Dasein or principle of humanity at its most genuine state. He continues in stating that as a centered act, faith is the movement of being toward the sum total of being itself – one here may make the argument that this sum total could be referred to as God, or in the case of Neoplatonic philosophy, the noetic One that exists from the sum total of the henadic worlds. Less philosophically, faith is a duty of fulfilling one’s trust[2], or confidence based on reason in that being ultimately concerned.

Belief, then, is the trust in which we are concerned with the sum total of being in contrast to the state of being which is faith. How then do we rest our trust on things that are purportedly immaterial[3]? Belief becomes the element of faith in the self-affirmation of one’s being in spite of the powers of non-being. In his discourse, Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard suggests that faith is not an aesthetic emotion, but something higher because it has resignation as its supposition; paradoxical to be sure, however affirmative of Being in that it is entirely rational and capable of apprehension by the aesthetic person, perceivable by the ethical person, and experiential by the religious self. In the his classic Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas even states, “Science begets and nourishes faith, by way of external persuasion afforded by science; but the chief and proper cause of faith is that which moves man inwardly to assent.” [4] Here, we approach the threat of non-being through discursive measures to arise at a faith that itself is entirely rational and founded on experience as the core of humanity’s nature.

Arguments that faith is the result of some psychosis, are clearly unfounded even at a basal etymological level describing derangement[5]. Since faith is rational it cannot be the result of psychosis, however that does not excuse the reality or possibility of actions that are affronts to faith on the part of believers and may sometimes be irrational as well as rational. Affronts to faith, in this case, could also be considered affronts to reason itself since they indicate either a form of willingness against the objects of faith or they concern the rejection thereof either out of ignorance or spite and are therefore more appropriately acosmic in their natures as they themselves are concerned with an element of non-being.

To illustrate a point, belief is fundamental to religious activity is predicated on the a priori acceptance of a superior ontology of Being. An individual engaging in religious activity is operating in the realm of faith. Were one, for example to build an image some deity, engage in operations dedicated to that deity such as prayers and offerings, yet not believe in the reality of that state of being, then they are merely engaging in pantomime. For the religious person, who may believe in a manifestation of the divine, consecrate it and make offerings, they are necessarily engaging in the activity of faith and, as would happen, believe in that manifestation of Being, a good example would be the affectionate titles of that deity, such as κύριος (Gk. Lord) as well as σωτήρ (Gk. Savior) – epithets of divine affiliation common from the Ancient Greek deity Hermes as well as Jesus the Christ.

Faith is real in every period of history regardless of the symbols associated with the varieties of faith from history to the common era and cannot be discredited by superstition or authoritarian distortions. The denial of faith, in this sense, if indicative of its triumph as it is itself an expression of faith as that movement toward the ultimate concern. If there is a problem with faith in the modern age, it is that the concepts of faith and belief have been reinterpreted as “faith/belief in something unbelievable”. Empirical and epistemological inquiry does nothing to harm faith, instead it is reason and this self-criticism that provide validity to the emblems contained within each faith.

Raphael-Plato-and-Aristotle

 

[1] Tillich. Dynamics of Faith.

[2] faith (n.) mid-13c., “duty of fulfilling one’s trust,” from Old French feid, foi “faith, belief, trust, confidence, pledge,” from Latin fides “trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief,” from root of fidere “to trust,” from PIE root *bheidh- (source also of Greek pistis; see bid). For sense evolution, see belief. Theological sense is from late 14c.; religions called faiths since c.1300.

[3] https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/5e7ed624986d

[4] Aquinas. Article I. Faith. Secunda Secunae Partis.

[5] psychosis (n.) 1847, “mental derangement,” Modern Latin, from Greek psykhe- “mind” (see psyche) + -osis “abnormal condition.” Greek psykhosis meant “a giving of life; animation; principle of life.


On Aphrodite and Mary

It shouldn’t surprise one, then, that the jar of the Magdalene
Contained within itself a precious perfume,
That if we are to believe those sorcerers of Egypt,
Speaking in foreign tongue – perhaps even foolishness -
Was ascribed to the goddess of eroticism,
That we might long as she did, the wild-eyed God-man
And wash with tears and precious perfume,
Finding ourselves rapt up in a tower of fiery passion,
And for once be able to speak of love.

 

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Christian Theurgy

This past Wednesday, yours truly was interviewed by the wonderful people of GnosticNYC, Bishop Lainie Petersen and Bishop Kenneth Canterbury on the topic of Christian Theurgy. For those of you who may have missed it, here is the video.

Realizing that fifteen minutes is all too brief to go into both the specifics of my practice as well as the 1,700 year practice of theurgy in the Christian tradition, I’ve decided to expand on this fascinating topic and provide a much closer look into the practice of Christian and Gnostic Theurgy in a few short articles here.


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