Tag Archives: Evocation

Ten Tips of Frater Michael Sebastian Lux

A week has passed since the flare up over the initial ‘Ten Tips for Young Occultists’ debacle with many prominent and up and coming occultists putting their own lists up. I think by and large this has been a valuable exercise and in some ways shows where many contemporary occultists are coming from.

About mid-way through the week, Ultraculture posted another interesting list titled, ‘3 Ways to Become a Magician by a 16th Century Alchemist‘ based on suggestions by Giambattista della Porta. This article struck me in particular as it could have just as well have been my own list as well. Brother B.J. recently put up his own commentary on the same which I highly recommend. In keeping, however, with the ‘Ten Tip’ trend, I present now my own list in that form.

minervalChurch1. First, the candidate ought to have familiarity with the Liberal Arts:

While this may come off as a particularly classist statement, I do believe that having a foundational education in the liberal arts is essential to being able to understand from where our historical predecessors were coming. I’m not saying that an individual necessarily needs a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, but merely be acquainted with them. Historically this would have included the verbal arts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric; and in the quadrivium—the numerical arts: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (I would also add here biology as well as chemistry). While I would never persuade someone from going to college, the reality is, is that that’s not always possible. Good news! However expensive going to college may be, the aspiring candidate has a world of resources at their fingertips whether it be simply going to the local public library or enrolling in online classes such as those found at Wikiversity.

2. Secondly, know thyself:

The famous magician Israel Regardie, himself a therapist, insisted on the necessity of psychotherapy for candidates as well as students of the occult. While this would be great for everyone to have access to, sadly it is not always the case. The candidate should be able to know their limits, be able to set boundaries, as well as know their own personal integrity. Many people come to the occult as a form of escapism and end up getting overwhelmed. Having a strong, but flexible idea of who the candidate is him or herself will set a very powerful stage for being a great student.

3. Thirdly, should familiarize themselves with warning signs:

There are a lot of unscrupulous charlatans out there hoping to make a quick buck or engage in a power play – there are also a lot of very knowledgeable people out there who can really take you to the next level even if it’s your first step. In my previous post I pointed out the Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Form as one possible tool to use in identifying potential dangers. Other possibilities when the candidate is ready would be to find magical forums on the intranet or other social media. There they can get to know who’s recommended and who to avoid. As always, caveat emptor! A good teacher should be able to provide a statement of principles and expectations.

4. Fourthly, the candidate should not be afraid to speak and communicate:

While this should go without commentary, the reality is, is that many students feel overwhelmed either by the personality of their teacher or by the unfamiliarity of the world into which they have just been cast. This is entirely understandable, but that should not preclude them from being able to ask questions as well as occasionally contradicting their teacher in a respectful manner that generates dialogue. In this, questioning is also a form of communication. Never accept “it’s just always been this way” as an answer until your teacher provides you a comprehensive bibliography where they’re coming from and what they know.

5. Fifthly, the candidate should strive for excellence and expect the same from their teacher and peers:

While everyone has their own unique learning and teaching styles, the candidate shouldn’t be content sitting on their or their teachers’ laurels. Arete, in its basic sense, means “excellence of any kind”. The term may also refer to “moral virtue” as well and is ultimately bound up with the notion of the the act of living up to one’s full potential. Here, studying virtue ethicists, aesthetic and moral philosophy as well as the classics as a continuation of the first suggestion may be of help. While we may study what is “hidden” it is equally important that we realize that we don’t just stand on the shoulders of giants, but should bravely go forth with their knowledge and take this knowledge to the next level.

6. Sixthly, the candidate should be mindful of what they project on their teacher and peers:

As eloquently stated by Mr. Hillier in his work, “All beings project their minds on to the world, your teacher included, its a rule of consciousness and part of what we are exploring.” It’s very easy to fail to notice this and, in relation to part two, it’s the student and teacher’s obligation to be able to see when this is happening. A number of years ago, a wonderful essay titled ‘Magusitis: A Hydra in Sheep’s Clothing‘ was written giving the warning signs and symptoms of this particularly strange phenomena – this article may well be of use for both personal reflection as well as striving for the excellence of both teacher and peers and be engaged in contributing the process in an equal and dynamic way.

7. Seventh, the candidate should not be afraid of making mistakes:

Magic can very quickly become competitive – that’s the nature of the beast. A good teacher will provide foundational exercises that will ground and balance the candidate in their tutelage – this may be in the form of a number of types of meditation, purification, prayer, et cetera. As often quoted in Buddhist Lojong manuals: “practice the preliminaries”. This will give you a little bit of extra padding should something go wrong and the knowledgable teacher will recognize when it has and be able to assist in some way. Nobody comes out of this unscathed or slightly burnt.

8. Eighth, the candidate should exercise their imagination:

The 20th Century occultist, Aleister Crowley, defined magic as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”. Whereas above I have suggested highly technical suggestions of study, the candidate will be working with a very broad set of symbols eventually which will require creativity. Whether one is predisposed toward poetry, dance, music or the visual arts; the candidate should strive to seek beauty and the truth that lies within it. Maybe they like cooking: they can examine the magical applications of ingredients and apply it; maybe they like art: they can try a new mode of painting or drawing; maybe they’re not artistic at all: perhaps taking a trip to the museum or an art gallery or reading about cross cultural art theories may help them.

9. Ninth, the candidate should cultivate awareness that the map is not the territory:

This concept occurs in the discussion of exoteric and esoteric religions. Exoteric concepts are concepts which can be fully conveyed using descriptors and language constructs, such as mathematics. Esoteric concepts are concepts which cannot be fully conveyed except by direct experience. For example, a person who has never tasted an apple or made love will never fully understand through language what the taste of an apple is or the feeling of skin against skin in intimate embrace. Only through direct experience (eating an apple or making love) can that experience be fully understood. It’s all too easy to confuse abstracts such as numbers in resulting from gematria for concrete realities.

10. Tenth, the candidate shall not neglect their own physical needs:

Many disciplines in the esoteric and occult community tend to generate a lot of mental and spiritual energy. A good teacher will prepare the student by admonishing them to pay attention to their physical needs; eat well according to their means, get adequate sleep, exercise if possible, perhaps learn some form of budgeting so they’ll be able in the future afford a more comfortable life, and lastly ground their work in the physical reality in which they live.

SPIIn closing, I understand that much of this may seem like a handful to apply all at once. I’m personally of the school of thought now that I’m a little older and have definitely done made my fair share of mistakes as well as my fair share of successes that practicing magic isn’t something that comes out of a box, but rather is cultivated carefully as one might cultivate a topiary or bonsai. The better our foundations are in the real world, the better our successes will become as we advance along the path. All teachers started out as students and all teachers are still students learning now in their own way and this itself is part of the mystery of engaging in the Mysteries themselves.


Registering Spirits, Considerations for Post-Modern Grimoires

With the upcoming Esoteric Book Conference, I find my thoughts preoccupied with thinking about books and, by extension, the intense amount of effort that magicians have spent over the centuries in the creation and preservation of occult texts. All things considered, few things things epitomize the popular image of the magician more than a robed man*, standing in a magic circle, holding a large book in one hand and his wand in the other while shadowy images of angels and demons surround the periphery of the oratory as he seeks to contact or command representatives of the celestial and infernal worlds.

Faust in his Study

While few examples of such texts remain from the medieval age, we have enough evidence to suggest that they have existed and the practice of creating such texts is a continuing art among contemporary magicians in one form or another and, honestly, what modern-day magician doesn’t like the idea of having a beautifully bound, hand-written and illuminated book of conjurations, or Liber Spirituum? In The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, written by pesudo-Agrippa, an entire chapter is dedicated to outlining how one may make such a text:

There is extant amongst those Magicians (who do most use the ministery of evil spirits) a certain Rite of invocating spirits by a Book to be consecrated before to that purpose; which is properly called, A book of Spirits (Liber Spirituum); whereof we shall now speak a few words. For this Book is to be consecrated, a book of evil spirits, ceremoniously to be composed, in their name and order: whereunto they binde with a certain holy Oath, the ready and present obedience of the spirits therein written.

Now this book is to be made of most pure and clean paper, that hath never been used before; which many do call Virgin-paper. And this book must be inscribed after this maner: that is to say, Let there be placed on the left side the image of the spirit, and on the right side his character, with the Oath above it, containing the name of the spirit, and his dignity and place, with his office and power. Yet very many do compose this book otherwise, omitting the characters or image: but it is more efficacious not to neglect any thing which conduceth to it.

Moreover, there is to be observed the circumstances of places, times, hours, according to the Stars which these spirits are under, and are seen to agree unto, their site, rite, and order being applied.

Which book being so written, and well bound, is to be adorned, garnished, and kept secure, with Registers and Seals, lest it should happen after the consecration to open in some place not intented [sic], and indanger [endanger] the operator. Furthermore, this book ought to be kept as reverently as may be: for irreverence of minde causeth it to lose its vertue, with pollution and profanation.

Now this sacred book being this composed according to the maner already delivered, we are then to proceed to the consecration thereof after a twofold way: one whereof is, That all and singular the spirits who are written in the book, be called to the Circle, according to the Rites and Order which we have before taught; and the book that is to be consecrated, let there be placed without the Circle in a triangle. And in the first place, let there be read in the presence of the spirits all the Oathes which are written in that book; and then the book to be consecrated being placed without the Circle in a triangle there drawn, let all the spirits be compelled to impose their hands where their images and characters are drawn, and to confirm and consecrate the same with a special and common Oath. Which being done, let the book be taken and shut, and preserved as we have before spoken, and let the spirits be licensed to depart, according to due rite and order.

While we can safely assume that few books were made in such an elaborate way, we have no evidence to suggest to the contrary. Reasonably, I would wager that most of these books would have been less assuming in appearance and, depending on where and when they were written, would not have been subjected to such formal treatment. Again, I could be wrong.

Having recently read and re-read Michael Cecchetelli’s Crossed Keys, I found myself thinking about the idea of the Liber Spirituum and early grimoires not so much as a “grammary of magic” but as something much more intimate to the magician and commoner of that age, the personal psalter. These little books in many ways describe to me exactly what pseudo-Agrippa would have been writing about and would have been just as important to the magician in that both contain selections of prayers, calendrical tables and illuminations (images and seals of angels and devils). Typically only the wealthiest of persons would have had access to such beautiful examples as Saint Alban’s Psalter or the Belles Heures of Jean de France, but since evidence also suggests that the medieval magician was also most likely to have been a member of clergy or at least a part of the minor orders of the Catholic Church, it’s possible that these people would have had access to the materials in their construction.

Below I include a chart comparing and contrasting similarities and differences between most conventional psalter texts alongside with descriptions from pseudo-Agrippa on the components of the Liber Spirituum:

Comparative Anatomy of the Grimoire to Psalter

Psalter

Grimoire or Liber Spirituum (pseudo-Agrippa, et. Al.)

Calendar of church feasts “Moreover, there is to be observed the circumstances of places, times, hours, according to the Stars which these spirits are under, and are seen to agree unto, their site, rite, and order being applied.”
Excerpts from the Synoptic Gospels  
Little Office of the Virgin Mary (No cognate in most grimoires, although version of Ars Notoria attributed to Mary)
Fifteen Psalms of Degrees “Then let him enter the place fasting, and washed, and let him begin to pray towards the east this whole Psalm: Beati inmaculati in via, &c. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, &c. (Psal. 119 [Vulgate: 118])” (Psalm 119 mentioned in GKoS et. Al – also, used extensively in angel magic of the 72-letter Name)
Seven Penitential Psalms (Not overtly mentioned in text, but contextually can be assumed due to presence in other grimoires, e.g. Greater Key of Solomon, Lemegeton, True Grimoire, etc.)
Litany of the Saints Conjurations
Office of the Dead (no cognate)
Hours of the Cross (see “Calendar”)
Other prayers “Holy prayers and imprecations, as well unto God, as to the holy Angels and Heroes.”
  *Plates and Medals

As we can see, there are many similarities in the construction of both texts. Of course, I have taken some personal liberty in drawing parallels between certain parts, but for the time being I feel that this should provide a basic (though imperfect) look at the construction of the two.

Today the skill needed to make such a text is more readily available than ever before and while taking a great deal of time and effort, the materials are not prohibitively expensive depending on how involved you want to make the process. Learning how to make one can also be a good exercise in fine arts – learning calligraphy, the methods of illumination, even book-binding for those who want to have complete control over every aspect of the process. Any decent art-store should have the materials needed for converting a good, blank journal into an heirloom for generations to come and, with advances in paper preservation, most modern texts would last a lot longer than ever before.

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*This is not to assume that there haven’t been female magicians, in fact there have been and independent scholar Brandy Williams has recently written an entire book on the subject.


Catching Up and Doing Stuff

This past week I’ve been inspired to come back to writing after a brief hiatus from doing anything other than taking care of personal needs. It’s been nice to get back to doing something I enjoy doing as well as share my knowledge, experiences and rants since – well – I can only talk to my tarantula so much before she decides to hide in her coconut shell and roll her eyes at my bitching and bursts of manic inspiration.

In the time that I’ve been away, it seems like a lot of interesting things have come up all over the esoteric blogosphere that I’ll need to spend some time reading over and contribute my two cents at some point. Additionally, I’m finding some great writings by other magicians and occultists whose work I’m deeply impressed by which further encourages me in my pursuit.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the blogs and entries by which I’ve been particularly impressed:

As for me, I’m in the process of editing an article for Sky’s Embrace, the newsletter of Horizon Lodge Ordo Templi Orientis, deceptively titled “Simplified Goetia” and making some plans toward giving a comprehensive series of classes on practical goetic magic in the near future in Seattle.

 


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