Tag Archives: Magic

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.


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.


Christianity as Theurgy: Christ the Initiator

In my previous post, I stated in no uncertain terms that Christianity is, at its root, a theurgical mystery religion. Although I did explain a bit of the context for that, I present the following as a more thorough explanation with context.

43englis

The early Christian period, preceding the council of Nicaea in 325, was characterized by many disparate groups, each with their own particular philosophical and spiritual charism. It is important to recognize that far from being a monolithic movement – Christianity is best described as Christianities.

The first Christians, as described in Acts, were primarily Jewish and centered around Jerusalem and nearby cities. Although it is very clear that the early Christians participated in many of the rituals associated with temple-period Judaism, the pervading Hellenism of the Mediterranean at the time may suggest that Christ himself may have not only been familiar with the mystery religions of the Greeks and neighboring peoples, but may himself had been an initiate.

In a very obscure, but fascinating copy of the Gospel of John known as the Levitikon, we are not only introduced to the Jesus familiar from the Gospels, but a Jesus who was an initiate of the mysteries:

“Therefore the Jews were grumbling about him, because he said: I am the bread that came down out of heaven. They were saying: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven? Is it because he lived with the Greeks that he has come thus to converse with us? What is there in common with what he learned from the Egyptians, and that which our fathers taught us?”

Similarly, in the Babylonian Talmud, we have indications that, in addition to leading a radical separatist movement from the Judaism of the day, Jesus is mentioned as being a sorcerer who not only incited other Jews into apostasy, performed healings and other magical acts ( Sanhedrin 43a). While these documents may be brought into dispute due to the relatively late dating, other documents indicate that Jesus was definitely associated with acts of theurgy.

Albani-Psalter_Getsemane
Following the death of Jesus at the hands of the Roman government, the New Testament – in particular Acts of the Apostles – recounts many miracles associated with the apostles, including on very peculiar individual who history records as the infamous Simon Magus.

“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God… And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” But Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.”

While some scholars conjecture that Simon may have been a literary code for Saul of Tarsus, the actions associated with Simon and the literature connected to his name seems to equally suggest that he may have been an early – though non-conventional – convert to Christianity who likewise may have been familiar with the process of initiation into mystery traditions for which a fee would traditionally been paid. Apocryphal writings alongside writings of Josephus and the early Church Fathers record many feats associated with Simon as well.

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Following the end of the Apostolic age, we encounter the rise of the era of the Church Fathers. At this time Christianity had spread throughout the Mediterranean. By this time many important Christian texts such as the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas as well as proto-Gnostic gospels such as the Gospel of Thomas began to make their influence of the various Christian communities.

Although it may be easy to imagine that the majority of Christians were largely from the lower echelons of society, it is here that we encounter the intellectual greatness of Clement of Rome, Iranaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Valentinus of Rome, Basilides of Alexandria, Carpocrates and his son Epiphanes. During this period we also encounter the growing shift toward orthodoxy which was acceptable to the Roman elite and the more heterodox groups that would become the early Gnostics.

These early fathers, Gnostic and Orthodox, were all highly influential and knowledgeable in both Greek and Jewish philosophy. It would be in this era that late platonism and the rise of Neoplatonism and Theurgy would influence Christian thought. The Neoplatonic theurgy was quickly applied to the emerging sacramental theory recorded by the apostles and in texts such as the Didache. Such theurgy, employed in the Christian initiatory rites, were applied to reveal the vestiges of divine presence and subordinate humanity to the Divine Will and lift humanity toward theosis in imitation of Christ.

Although the most explicitly magical texts of the early Christians have only recently been discovered such as the Secret Book of IEOU in the Bruce Codex or the preserved Sethain writings in the Nag Hammadi Codexes; the emerging voie cardiaque (way of the heart) espoused in Orthodox Hesychasm also preserve much of the Theurgic operations of uniting humanity to the divine. These operations of initiation and theurgy all expose the Christian to the Divine Spheres.

Bishop Stephan Hoeller, in Mystery and Magic of the Eucharist, describes the purpose of the sacraments as follows:

“The purpose of the sacraments from the point of view of Gnosticism is not the commemoration of the alleged events in the life of Jesus. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus must become internalized mystical experiences or initiatory awakenings within the soul of every individual.”

In this way, the form of the sacraments reveal the Divine Essence to the Christian, the accompanying rites lead us back to the Substance of which we all belong, uniting us to Divine Nature. According to Iamblichus, these tokens (sunthemata) accomplish the work by themselves; but to the Christian, the theurgy of the sacraments presents an ontological game between the One (to hen) and many (communion of angels and saints and all creation), along with a providential love which preserves the Christian through grace. As the supreme exemplar of initiate and God, Christ is the central principal and essense (ousia) of Christian Theurgy.

Understanding this, it should not be surprising (except perhaps to more modern and materialistically inclined persons) that Christianity is fundamentally a magical path. Although many mainstream Christians and others may disagree, Christianity IS Theurgy when correctly applied and understood and has and does provide that same function now as it did since the incipit of the process by Jesus the Christ.

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Christianity as Theurgy

In a recent post my colleague Rufus Opus recently discussed his experiences as a Christian and a magician. For myself, I have been frequently met with the same essential question, “How can one be a Christian and a Magician?” While it may seem strange to reconcile the two apparently disparate ‘practices’, fundamentally my views of Christianity, esoteric and non-esoteric, is fundamentally a theurgical religion, organized as a mystery tradition – a shared point of origin with many other traditions that helped create the Western Esoteric Tradition, an root to which I personally feel drawn and representative of the true roots of Christianity to which we must return.

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The early Christian movement arose alongside the mystery schools of the Hellenic world, eventually competing with them well into the fourth century. As such, Christianity borrowed much of its early terminology from the mystery schools that prevalent at the time and, as it spread, also adopted much of the language of Neoplatonism. At its core, Christianity is a mystery religion – a religion with particular semiotic markers, signs and symbols and experiences separating initiates from non-initiates. To this day, in orthodox and heterodox churches, the sacraments are oftentimes referred to as mysteries or realities that transcend created intellect.

From here, it is very easy to understand where Christian mysteries and the practice of occultism become necessarily intertwined. The actual process of initiation is experienced separately from the ritual itself, the ritual creating a symbolic scaffold that the initiate would be able to use in integrating the semiotic content into their individual learning and developmental process leading to a greater understanding of one’s relation to the divine either through union with the uncreated logoic nature through contemplation or prayer or through mystical visions of the kosmos and celestial spheres. Applied prayer in the Christian context is nothing short of living theurgy; the miracles attributed to saints and holy persons a form of applied thaumaturgy by those who have by virtue of their initiations and contemplation of Deity are able to directly impact the subtle material world.

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By the time of the late Middle Ages and the emerging Renaissance, Christianity once again was able to reconnect with its esoteric nature with the translation of the Hermetica and the rise of natural philosophers such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, the School of Florence, Abbot Johannes Trithemius, Johann Reuchlin and many others. In his Oration on the Dignity of Man, Mirandola explains:

“As the farmer weds his elms to the vines, so the magus unites earth to heaven. For nothing so surely impels us to the worship of God than the assiduous contemplation of His miracles and when, by means of this natural magic, we shall have examined these wonders more deeply, we shall more ardently be moved to love and worship Him in his works, until finally we shall be compelled to burst into the song: “The heavens, all of the earth, is filled with the majesty of your
glory.”

The Rennaisance, here, represents a return to the mysteries of early Christianity and the ancient schools of Greece through theurgy and the practice of so-called natural magic. The modern magician and Christian is an inheritor of this great chain of union between past and present and as such draws on this great power stretching from beginningless time to the Omega Point at which Godhead draws all things into itself completing the process of reintegration. Magic, here, is an essential tool to facilitate the process, best characterized by Louis Claude de Saint-Martin in his opus, Man: His True Nature and Ministry:

“The powerful virtues of men of God of all epochs are offered us, to strengthen and support us, that our own spiritual virtue may take courage and confidence in the fight, as well as to instruct us in the marvels and grandeur which fill the Kingdom of God, which they began to know, even while they were still in their earthly bodies…. the virtual sacred support of the Redeemer is granted to us, to revive within us all our former regions and powers, upon which He is pleased to take His seat, and to which He communicates His universal life.”

While the more conventional Christian or critic of Christianity and mysticism may find ritual and evocation to be bizarre at best and dangerous or useless at worst – the Christian magician recalls the words the living Christ left to his disciples as the most potent of invocation in the Lord’s Prayer, invoking the Divine Beloved to be radically present to establish the reign of God in the very real here and now. In the Lord’s Prayer, the Christian not only raises themselves to divine union but also, becomes God themselves as co-creator and participant in Creation itself. Therefore, as an initiate in the mysteries of Christ the Christian has no choice but to radically engage and exercise his arete as a being made in the likeness and image of Godhead.

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Assumption of Mary

Today we commemorate the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, celebrated in the Orthodox and Eastern Church as the solemnity of the Dormition. Throughout the history of Christianity, Mary has been an inseparable part of Christian and Gnostic devotion. In my own tradition, she is revered in many diverse ways – come viewing her as a manifestation of the Holy Sophia, others taking a more conventional devotional angle to her as the bearer of Christ or Theotokos.

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As we enter the Sophanic half of the year, the year of subtle turning inward and nuturing the divine within and furthering our own spiritual dialogue with the Divine Beloved. This self-emptying of the ego or kénōsis may seem strange to many people, but it is precisely at the moment that we empty ourselves, we are able to be filled up with divinity in the same ways as Mary came to bear the Christ within herself saying,”Yes!” to the angel Gabriel and bringing forth God into the world.

Even in a culture so full of longing for spiritual fulfillment, it’s often-times difficult for us to say, “Yes” to the Divine as we know it. To open ourselves up is also to make ourselves extraordinarily vulnerable. Imagine if you will the reaction of Saint Joseph when Mary anounced her experience with the Angel Gabriel:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:18-21

It would have been very easy for Joseph as the bridegroom of Mary to simply walk away increduliously at the suggestion that his bride to be was with child. Instead, Joseph as well made that emptying of the self to the will of the Divine and today is well remembered as the devoted foster-fother of Jesus and husband of Mary.

Mary’s own devotion to her son and to the emerging Christian community is most evident in her standing beside him even unto his death on the cross where she became not just the mother of Jesus, but also the entire Christian community along with John the Apostle who became her devoted son even standing beside her as she lay peacefully, falling asleep in the Lord before being raised up heavenly three days later, according to pious tradition mirroring the three days of repose before the resurrection of her son.

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Interestingly, as a modern Gnostic, I recently became aware of a tradition in action Greece that takes place around the octave of this curious solemnity. Near the 15th of August in the Greek village of Markopoulo on the island Cephaloniaat the Church of the Panagia, one can see snakes slither towards a particular church, the island has many churches but the snakes only go to this church, on the actual day, the 15th they slither on the icon of the Virgin Mary as the church becomes filled with people. In spite of the priest, clergy and people holding the service the snakes show no sign of fear.

According to pious legend, as the island was under the assault of pirates, the nuns at this particular church begged to the Virgin Mary to be saved from what presumably evil fate would befall them at which she turned them all into serpents. Conversely, one thing I may suggest, is that this tradition may also be reflective of an earlier tradition pre-dating the formation of what would become orthodoxy:

“This fellow Epiphanes, whose writings I have at hand, was a son of Carpocrates and his mother was named Alexandria. On his father’s side he was an Alexandrine, on his mother’s a Cephallenian. He lived in all only seventeen years, and at Same in Cephallonia was honoured as a god. There a temple of vast blocks of stone was erected and dedicated to him, with altars, sacred precincts, and a museon, The Cephallenians gather at the temple every new moon and celebrate with sacrifices the day when Epiphanes became a god as his birthday; they pour libations to him, feast in his honour, and sing his praises. He was educated by his father in the general education and in Platonism, and he was instructed in the knowledge of the Monad, which is the root-origin of the Carpocratians’ heresy.” Clement, Stromata.

“And thus, if ungodly, unlawful, and forbidden actions are committed among them, I can no longer find ground for believing them to be such. And in their writings we read as follows, the interpretation which they give [of their views], declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to His disciples and apostles privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down the things thus taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing. We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men–some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature.” Iranaeus. Ad. Haer.

The cult of the snake as a familiar spirit would have been very common in ancient Greece as in Rome, interestingly, there also appears to have been some continuation of this in other Gnostic sects, most notably the Ophites and Nassene gnostic communities. While we know very little from the Carpocration literature beyond the Mar Saba letter and Clement’s Stromata, it is known that the Carpocrations were a dominant force on this very island in the Second Century of the Common Era and it may be possible that even to this day some element of their presence may remain on the island.


A Vigil Rite of Healing through the Angel Raphael

For those times when a member of the congregation is experiencing prolonged illness or in cases when someone is in immediate need of spiritual comfort, this vigil may be performed to the end of expediting their recovery.

This ceremony may be performed by any member of laity or clergy and may be appended to the Rite of Ministration to the Sick or the Daily Office.

Opening

The bell is rung ///.

Candles are lit and incense burned in censor.

Introductory rite from the Apostolic Johannite Church’s liturgy Grail of Undefiled Wisdom used or similar ceremony used, alternately the Prayer of the Apostle Paul:

I invoke you, the one who is and who pre-existed in the name which is exalted above every name, through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the King of the ages; give me your gifts, of which you do not repent, through the Son of Man, the Spirit, the Paraclete of truth. Give me authority when I ask you; give healing for my body when I ask you through the Evangelist, and redeem my eternal light soul and my spirit. And the First-born of the Fullness of grace — reveal him to my mind!

Grant what no angel eye has seen and no archon ear has heard, and what has not entered into the human heart which came to be angelic and modeled after the image of God when it was formed in the beginning, since I have faith and hope. And place upon me your beloved, elect, and blessed greatness, the First-born, the First-begotten, and the wonderful mystery of your house; for yours is the power and the glory and the praise and the greatness for ever and ever. Amen.

General

One or more the following or other passages may be used.

1 John 5:13-15

(These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.)

James 5:14-16

(Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.)

Apocryphon of John

(Thus, the seed remained for a while assisting them, in order that, when the Spirit comes forth from the Holy Aeons, he may raise up and heal him from the deficiency, that the entirety of the Fullness may again become holy and faultless.)  

Invocation of the Holy Angel Raphael

O Holy Angel Raphael, guardian of the light arising, guide of travelers and supreme minister to the sick, through your intercession we ask for the healing of (name of person to be healed) who has been afflicted by suffering of body and soul. Holy Raphael, whose name means ‘God heals’, and of whom the Scriptures praise: ‘Raphael, the holy angel of the Lord, was sent to cure,Saint Raphael, our advocate’ come to the aid of (name of person to be healed) as you came to the aid of the prophet Tobias and put to flight the plagues sent by the Advesary and provided to for the healing of Israel. Amen.

Lighting of the Candle

Celebrant:               Holy Lord, who did charge your children to bring you clear oil wherein the lamp of your love may continually burn in the hearts of humanity, and kindled with the fire of eternal charity, we do present you this lamp most pure that it may burn for the healing of (name of person to be healed) under the ever-watching vigilance of your Holy Angel Raphael. Pour your blessings upon it that they may partake in your blessings and, when healed, magnify your Holy Name.

Celebrant lights lamp representing the person for whom this vigil is performed.

Celebrant:               The Lord says, “I am a lamp to those who would see me.”

All:                          Amen.

Celebrant:               “I am a mirror to those who would perceive me.”

All.                          Amen.

Celebrant:               “I am a door to you who would approach me.”

All:                          Amen.

Celebrant:               “Glory to you, Father, Glory to you, Word, Glory to you Holy Spirit of Wisdom. We gathered here in your presence and in the presence of your Holy Angel Raphael to hold vigil for your servant (name of person to be healed) that they may be restored to full health of body, mind and spirit.

If others are participating, the Celebrant now lights a separate candle from the vigil light.

Celebrant:               The Lord says, ‘I am the light that is over all things, I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.’ Let those who would partake of the light and pray for the healing of (N.) come forth and light their candles that they may burn at peace in their homes for the healing of the whole world.

Congregants come up, one by one, and light their own candles from the central vigil candle.

Celebrant:               Bearing in mind the words of Our Lord, let us now pray with one heart, one mind, and one accord:

Our Father

Closing of the Temple

Celebrant rings bell ///

Celebrant performs the closing of the temple, as in the Liturgy of the Grail of Undefiled Wisdom or prays:

Celebrant:               We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name, honored with the name ‘God’ and praised with the name ‘Father’, for to everyone and everything (comes) the parental kindness and affection and love, and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain, giving us mind, speech, and knowledge: mind, so that we may understand You, speech, so that we may expound You, knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge. We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself. We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.

All:                          The thanksgiving of one who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, intellectual light. Life of life, we have known You. Womb of every creature, we have known You. Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. Eternal permanence of the begetting Father, thus have we worshiped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: that we not stumble in this kind of life.

Celebrant:               Let us bless the Lord.

All:                          Thanks be to God.


Advice on the Mystical Life

In his essay, Hunger in the Pews, Father Benedict Auer O.S.B. observes how many people in our post-modern religious milieu continue to “file into churches throughout this country hungering for the Word of God or even an inspirational word or two… in the face of almost endless disappointment hoping beyond hope that they may get something to take back home with them to help them through their week.” Despite America being unique among the industrialized world in the emphasized role of religion in daily life, most Americans tend to be representative of  a phenomena of people who, in Auer’s words, “a whole generation of Catholic illiterates.” Sadly, this is not only true of American Catholics – it can equally apply across the board of many major and minor Christian denominations – it is also true of those who, having left their pews, have turned to the mystical path hoping to find some kind of recourse (or counter-point) to the spirituality of their youth.

Since the New Age phenomenon of the 1960’s, many millions of people have turned to mysticism as the answer to their problems with exoteric religious teachings, paying thousands of dollars sometimes for seminars on meditation, creative visualization, empowered prayer, etc. The majority of these people, unfortunately, become quickly when they realize that the mystical life is not a “feel good” pursuit as many gurus or authors (misre-) present it but is, as many have accurately noted, a path beset with many external and internal dangers and trials. The high failure, or drop-out, rate for those who pursue the mystical life comes primarily from the lack of qualified instructors or peers in one’s spiritual community as well as the unfortunate severing of the mystical in post-Enlightenment era academic and philosophical inquiry. Among those who are fortunate enough to find sound resources (mostly in the form of literature, though sometimes mentors) toward understanding the mystical experience, this often solitary path can still lead the student astray if they are unable to find an appropriate peer or group to act as a sounding board resulting in the accumulations of various aggrandizements, delusions, or misperceptions.

Amongst those in esoteric religious groups, the above dangers can be especially potent. Anyone with some experience or involvement in contemporary, alternative religious movements likely have some experience or another with individuals (or themselves) undergoing some kind of spiritual crisis. In her essay, Magusitis: A Hydra in Sheep’s Clothing, Nadine Drisseq examines the pitfalls of transcendence: “Some very common examples of archetypal intoxication are: the Wiccan who thinks he is the martyr of the goddess, or the Thelemite who thinks she is the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley. Whilst transcendental states are useful, enjoyable and provide experience of the Numinons, they too have their baggage.” She further breaks down the stages of “infection” amongst those whose mystical pursuit has gone awry:

“PRIMARY STAGE: The magician is immuno-magickally compromised since all the necessary and underlying basis for infection are present. This stage is a latency period where the magician exhibits behavior of talking big to make himself feel better, gloating at people who are magickally less experienced, and general feelings of personal insecurity. Instances of paranoia are common, and the magician feels isolated if these issues are not brought out and dealt with.

SECONDARY STAGE: The magician starts to believe that others are out to get her. She feuds with others, often curses people or groups of people (since cursing makes her feel more powerful and confident). She gloats when others have misfortune as it makes her feel more powerful compared to them (her perceived enemies). She takes the slightest comment the wrong way. She gets upset when she does not win an argument, and this can be combined with the childish mechanisms of sulking (which sometimes gets results through guilt tripping the person she is sulking at). Childish spats of anger and foot stomping are also not uncommon. These behaviors may not be quite so obvious but are translations of these childish idiosyncrasies.

TERTIARY STAGE: The magician really starts to lose it. Tertiary stage is rarely observed by the magickal culture at large because by this time the magician is so enraged / paranoid / sulky / paranoid that she withdraws from from public or community interaction. I have also heard of instances of the magician putting on a lot of weight along with this stage, although this may be a parallel and not a symptom.”

Replace “magician” with “seeker”, “student” or “practitioner”, and it can be illustrated that this problem can arise across most, if not all, spiritual boards. For those of us whose mystical experience comes through the lens of Christianity (in particular Christian Gnosticism), there are fortunately some avenues for those to “check themselves” as they progress along the inward, or mystical, path.

It is highly advisable that one attracted to Christian mysticism have at least some understanding of scriptural study and prayer practice. For Catholics, this is easily obtained through undergoing courses such as the Rite of Christian Initiation in Adults; for others joining a Bible study group may also be of some benefit as well. In addition to this, attending interfaith prayer meetings such as Taizé or even some Quaker meetings might be of some help as well – especially for those who are disaffected by conventional churchmanship. For many self-identified Gnostics, finding and attending a church may be somewhat difficult depending on what part of the country in which one lives; here, participating in online social networking sites such as Facebook may be their only connection to other Gnostics, in particular Gnostic clergy. Finding members of churches such as Ecclesia Gnostica, the Apostolic Johannite Church, Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum or the Alexandrian Gnostic Church should be fairly easy and participation on interest pages can yield some great results where one can meet new people and peers.

If possible, the potential mystic should also engage in a thorough study of classical literature on mysticism. Anthologies such as the Philokalia, the Classics of Western Spirituality through Paulist Press, and the writings of Theresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and Meister Eckhart should provide a valuable background. These should be read slowly and ideally with a friend who is either familiar with the material or can read along with you and with whom you can exchange notes and reflections. Auditing religious studies courses, in particular medieval religion or attending monastic retreats is another possibility that should not be overlooked. Throughout the entire process, keeping a journal is also highly advisable as a way of storing and reexamining one’s comprehension of what you are studying. Setting aside regular time for prayer, study and reflection by this point should become a part of daily experience.

After about six months to a year of regular study and practice, one should by this point attempt to find a peer or member of clergy with pastoral experience with whom they can discuss their experiences and discuss their growth either by phone or in person. It’s a common misconception that the mystical life must be a solitary experience. Most Gnostic and esoteric communities are largely led by members who lead secular lives in addition to their participation in religious life and do not offer (at this point) cloistered monastic groups. How this may or may not change in the future is yet to be seen. In absence of being able to find a spiritual guide, finding a good counselor who is open to discussing spirituality is an option that should not be overlooked.

The mystical life, while often a solitary experience, does not need to be a lonely experience. After nearly fifteen years in pursuit of mystical and contemplative life and falling into some of the above pitfalls along the way, I have been fortunate enough to have support along the way by people who have been able to provide me the advice I have given and wish to share it with those who have the discipline to follow through on this very rewarding approach to understanding the divine in its manifold splendor. Keeping balance is (no pun intended) the fulcrum of any healthy spirituality – keeping things in perspective, keeping a fit body and mind, and being constantly devoted to the practice will yield many years of fulfillment. Enlightenment, however, is up to you.