Tag Archives: Magic

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.


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.

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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.

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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.


Musings on Angels, Daemons and Working With One’s Personal Pantheon

In Chapter twenty six of the Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the great expositor of esoteric wisdom, Henry Cornelius Agrippa, provides us with one of the most complete modern variations of the ancient concept of tutelary spirits, which he divides as the Angel, the Genius and Evil Daemon:

“Drawing [the name] from the disposition of the heaven; as for example, any Celestiall Harmonie being proposed to thee for the making an image or ring, or any other work to be done under a certain constellation; if thou will finde out the spirit that is the ruler of that work… [casting] forth letters in their number and order from the degree of the ascendent, according to the succession of signes through each degree by filling the whole circle of the heaven: then those letters which fall into the places of the Stars the aid whereof thou wouldest use, being according to the number, and powers of those Stars, marked without into number, and order, make the name of a good spirit: but if thou shalt do so from the beginning of a degree falling against the progresse of the signes, the resulting spirit shall be evil.”

Further, he elaborates on the nature of such spirits as they relate to the individual:

“Every man hath a threefold good Demon, as a proper keeper, or preserver, the one whereof is holy, another of the nativity, and the other of profession. The holy Demon is one, according to the Doctrine of the Egyptians, assigned to the rationall soul, not from the Stars or Planets, but from a supernaturall cause, from God himself, the president of Demons, being universall, above nature: This doth direct the life of the soul, & doth alwaies put good thoughts into the minde, being alwaies active in illuminating us, although we do not alwaies take notice of it; but when we are purified, and live peaceably, then it is perceived by us, then it doth as it were speak with us, and communicates its voyce [voice] to us, being before silent, and studyeth daily to bring us to a sacred perfection.”

This concept of a Three-Fold Divinity is common in nearly every Semitic and Indo-European culturea, similarly popping up in some East Asian and African religious traditions as well. For the purposes of this, I’m merely going to treat the Indo-European perspective of the Abrahamic religious tradition through the lens of the Neoplatonism which would have been familiar to Agrippa in his writing.

According to Neoplatonic philosophy, spiritual beings exist heirarchically in two prinicpal forms, a tetrad comprising the unitive intelligible forms of divinity; and a triad, composed of intelligible forms that may be classified as hypercosmic, liberated and encosmic. The Tetradic hierarchy is mostly cosmic, from a a modern Western Esoteric perspective, one might not do wrong by examining much of the material on the mysteries of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) or, from a Gnostic perspective, the Simonian mysteries of the Father, Mother, Son and Daughter as a Tetradic expression of the Trinity. The function of the triadic hierarchies is to facilitate illumination and purification toward Godhead, or in classical Neoplatonic terms, the Pre-essential Demiurgos which is not to be confused with the Demiurge as commonly depicted in Gnostic legend.

From this vantage point, it seems clear that Agrippa’s Genius and Evil Daemon function somewhat as two aspects of the individual’s personal spiritual ‘pantheon’, with the Guardian Angel at the apex of the hierarchy. This is a particularly important consideration as it removes the otherwise gross consideration of having a little angel and a little devil vying for control over a person’s life in a much unsophisticated, dualistic manner that I’m fairly certain Agrippa had not intended. The Genius and Evil Daemon, then, may be seen as enforcers of the Holy Guardian Angel prior to the mystical or theurgical illumination in which the magician or mystic attains knowledge and conversation with the latter and, finally, acheive henosis with the Pre-essential Demiurgos – i.e. Godhead.

The third, or fourth, entity in Agrippa’s schema of personal daimonology is the Daimon of Profession. From a surface reading, it may seem that this particular entity may complete a tetradic heirarchy, I doubt that this was necessarily implied as it does not seem to function in any distinct way other than influencing one’s personal profession which, at the time was more or less fixed according to class (e.g. a son inheriting the father’s business; the daughter, becoming wife and moving up or down social rank through marriage) which we understand now is neither conducive to the concept of Free Will nor theurgic ascent. For this reason, I view it as a changeable entity separate from the triadic heirarchy.

To begin working with the Genius and Evil Daemon, Agrippa conveniently lays out a system of arriving at their natural names through an advanced system of Hebrew gematria and astrological calculation, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book 3, xxvi:

“There are also the Arabians, and many others, and some Hebrews, who finde out the name of a Genius by the places of the five Hylegians, and making projection alwayes from the beginning of Aries, and the letters being found out according to
the order of Hylegians with the Astrologers, being reduced into a known order, and being joyned together, make the name of a good Genius: but they draw the name of an evil Genius from the opposite Hylegian places, projection being made from the last degree of Pisces against the order of signs.”

While one may easily calculate this by hand, there are fortunately many avenues of arriving at this presently; personally, I would suggest finding a person such as the contemporary occult writer Frater Rufus Opus who does so for a small fee and from whom one may obtain much informative literature; the second is through computational means such as those provided by Frater Acher in his blog, “My Occult Circle“. The methodology of Frater Rufus Opus is will be well suited to anyone with a vested interest in Agrippan and Trithemean methods of magical practice and I highly recommend them for those inclined toward that angle. My own personal method, drawing much on my own experiences working more in line with Graeco-Egyptian magic are outlined below.

On a convenient day, preferably making first contact on your own birthday but any Sunday seems to work, arise early at the first hour of the sun and purify the temple space with water and incense. In a symbolic alphabet such as the celestial alphabet or having transliterated the name into a known alphabet be it Greek, Latin or Coptic, draw the name of the Genius at the back of the altar in consecrated oil. Having composed an invocation beforehand; call to that spirit and make an offering of frankincense. Toward the front of the altar, in the same manner, write the name of the Evil Daemon in consecrated oil, make an offering of myrrh and recite a similar invocation. In the center of the altar, light a large pillar candle in offering to your Holy Guardian Angel to mediate between these two forces.

The above ceremony can be done on any day, according to one’s inclinations, to facilitate conversation with these lesser daimones and to indicate to the mediating Holy Guardian Angel one’s intentions toward attaining Knowledge and Conversation, which is not a pre-requisite to this practice and, in fact, I would suggest holding off on until one has a more thorough understanding of the supporting and persecuting forces in their lives.

It should be important to note, that one may choose at some point to only work with the Good Genius or the Evil Daemon on a particular day. This is highly encouraged. From the Good Genius, one may obtain a clearer picture of their own progress along the path of their practice and from the Evil Daemon, obtain a record of their pitfalls from which they are able to rise above, make amends where possible, and move closer up the theurgic ascent. As a note, I absolutely reject the concept of subjugating or otherwise eliminating the Evil Daemon on the basis that I find reconciliation between opposing dynamic forces to be more beneficial and symbolic of uniting relative and ultimate truths of one’s nature and thus Macro and Microcosms, than dividing everything grossly and unscrupulously.

Until one attains to Knowledge and Conversation with their Holy Guardian Angel, there is ample opportunity to explore their own spiritual hierarchy through conversing with the more immediate daimonic forces. I strongly suggest this beneficial practice of obtaining and working with these spirits to be to the ultimate benefit of the aspirant to K&CHGA and significantly more confidence increasing than the current modality of pass and fail with the HGA working alone. To those who may have found benefit with this brief essay, I look forward to hearing your results and if there are any questions, please feel free to comment below.

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Platonic Daimon from the Neoplatonic Tarot by Jeffrey Kupperman


Wild Gnosis

In ancient Greece and in the Hellenic world, the operative title for most magicians would have been pharmakós, literally ‘one who delivers (drugs)’. At the time of the classical pharmakoi, the differentiation between medical practice and magic was not as clearly defined as it would become in the modern world. The role of the pharmakós would be to divine, diagnose and treat the various psychological, physical and spiritual ailments of their clients or members of a particular cult.

As we read in many of the anti-heresiological writings and can confirm in the magical papyri, it’s very clear from an early period that many of those who would eventually come to be called gnostikoi were also pharmakoi involved with the same practices as their pagan counterparts, practicing in a very similar methodological framework. We can surmise, similarly, that they also had a similar cosmology and anthrosophy of spirit, especially when it came to the use and distribution of various herbal, mineral and animal curatives. Essentially, a pan-psychical understanding of pneumatology where the spirits or essences of these things, in sympathy, could help cure or create illnesses.

Flashing forward some 1,700 years, modern gnostics – indeed, modern occultists in general – could learn to benefit from understanding the psycho-spiritual relationships between the materials we continue to use and benefit greatly from the “synergy of shamanry“, as my friend and co-blogger at Bioregional Animism so eloquently phrased the dynamic. In the wake of the European Enlightenment, although many esotericists have no qualms about the ‘doctrine of signatures’ and ‘correspondence’, there is a fundamental disconnect between the urbane occultist and the natural world that I think should be reexamined.

Inspired by a series of questions on a group that I’m a member of on Facebook regarding the correspondences of various New World plants, it donned on me to engage in a series of experiments that I used when undergoing my apprenticeship in incense making. In my usual practice, when compounding incenses for various needs, I keep a large brazier with fresh coals burning in order to add a bit of plant material so I can smell it individually and separately from my intended compound. It occurred to me, in addition to this, why not evoke the spirit of the plant by praying to it, invoking it in the smoke and tasting it in the form of a tisane or tincture to fully experience what it has to offer.

My initial experiments have opened up a whole new understanding of the shamanic and animistic nature of the natural world and have given my practice the boost I needed and, instead of relying on ‘dead matter’ with some arbitrary correspondence, I learned that speaking with the spirit of the plants is something that Western Esotericism is profoundly missing in many regards but, perhaps more distressing, is the profound disconnect between many occultists and their own native bioregions.

For a few years now I’ve been following the writings of Sarah Anne Lawless, a Pacific Northwest traditional witch and fellow bioregional animist. Her writings on connecting with the local land-spirits is something that I admired but never felt the need to explore until quite recently. Reading the writings of my friend and co-religionist P. Sufenas Virius Lupus on the topic of local spiritual topography, I decided to explore more of the urban spirits of the place in which I live and, similarly, received remarkably interesting results.

Last week, while on a date of sorts with a friend, we decided to venture into a local park and invoke the spirits of the place. I filled by messenger bag with simply my wand, a censer, some incense provided by Rosarium Blends, and my memorized general invocation of spirits. After walking around avoiding some college students who were engaged in some experiments of their own, we managed to find the right location and performed our evocation. After three recitations, we both experienced some very clear and congruent communications with one of the spirits of the park in addition to the larger spirits (goddess to some) who provided some fascinating insight into the locality and provided me with a sigil – a pleasure to my ceremonialist heart.

In the days that followed, I ended up returning to the park, drawing the sigil in the ground and repeating the process and received similar results and confirmation of the spirits. At one point, when I felt like my operation may be being overlooked, I asked the spirit to peaceably remove the distractions that were impacting my practice and within a few moments the entire park was once again quiet – quieter than even before.

The point of this relation is not to mark myself as a great occultist – I’m not any better or worse than anyone – rather it is to challenge and encourage my peers to look a little deeper into where they live, the environments of where they practice and return – or at the very least, experience – the power that resides in their locations. While one may and should experience the divine in the varieties that do exist, sometimes it’s better to work with what you have and where you are rather than immediately looking toward one of the many sources of power that come from a time and a place much more removed from our own immediate experience.

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Polish for your Wand

Today, while engaging in a craft project for spiritual purposes, I ended up needing polish to give that healthy sheen to the woodwork. I decided that I wanted it to be natural so I would avoid having to inhale noxious chemicals. What came out of it was the idea that I could easily make my own out of materials I already had on hand and add a little personal embellishment.

For this project you will need at least:

  • 1/2 cup natural beeswax
  • 1 cup safflower or linseed oil
  • and 1 dram anointing oil

Due to the nature of this particular project, a spirit box, I opted to use one dram of Abramelin Oil in the mixture.

After mixing the components thoroughly, I put them all in a small clean coffee tin on top of my stove set to medium high and let it all melt down while stirring with a bamboo skewer. It takes all of about five minutes to get everything melted and due to the flash point of the oil, I would advise staying in the kitchen.

If one were particularly interested in making this act into a ritual of its own, you could recite one of the Psalms such as Psalm 133 or the Seven Penitential Psalms which are used nearly universally in the consecration of tools in the Greater Key of Solomon. Even a simple rhyming incantation would be appropriate.

After everything is melted down, carefully remove the tin from the stove and set on a wooden cutting board or on a heat pad and let it cool down. After about twenty minutes it will be solidified at which point you may take the same skewer you used to stir it up and whip everything into a creamy, delicious smelling polish that can then be used immediately or stored in an empty container.

For those who may be interested in making their own, naturally scented polishes, Rosarium BlendsManifestation would be the perfect oil to add instead of Abramelin if one were to be making a spirit box or idol or Divination if it’s going to be a storage place for one’s divinatory tools.

Alternately, if one happens to be of the Asatruar persuasion, Incendiary Arts makes a number of natural oil blends that could be used to appropriately to polish up one’s wooden statues of the Aesir.

Of course, one need not limit one’s self to the above, highly recommended vendors, but one could conceivably use a dram of hoodoo oils – of which there are a wide variety – to customize one’s projects. In the end, the sky’s the limit.


Mystical Novena to Jophiel

Inspired by recently reading Jason Miller‘s Financial Sorcery at the urging of my friend, the Monsignor Scott Rassbach+, I decided to create a novena to the Archangel Jophiel for the purposes of obtaining the amount of necessary wealth and prosperity to help me control my financial situation and acheive the goals I have in mind in the coming months.

Considering the nature of my blog, this might come as a surprise that I would step away for a moment from the high and lofty goals of divinization and actively engage in the material world, going as far as petitioning the angels themselves for assistance. The fact of the matter, as I feel Jason points out, is that wealth and prosperity are not bad things in and of themselves however, I also think that the misapplication of one’s resources is indicative of a deeper problem and can be considered a root of evil. Fortunately, I have a very understanding partner who’s willing to work with me on this.

The ritual below will be familiar to those from Roman Catholic backgrounds as a novena which is essentially a sustained form of invocation for the purposes of receiving the benefits of a particular angel, saint or holy being. Jophiel, ‘the Beauty of God’, a Cherub or a Throne then he is also a “prince of heaven” found in Jewish law and is a caretaker of the seven heavens and the angelic choirs.

In contemporary Hermetic Qabalah he is one of the angels who resides in the heavenly sphere of Tzedeq as the intelligence of Jupiter. As such, he is symbolically closer to humanity than the ruling Archangel Tzadkiel and is, in my experience, significantly more approachable. Regardless of the relative proximity – how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?! – novenas are a way of bringing down transcendental forces into one’s immediate proximity and are a simple way of forming connections with these forces for personal development.

Mystical Novena to the Archangel Jophiel

The mystical novena to the Archangel Jophiel is used to bring the beneficial and benevolent influences of the planet Jupiter into the life of the individual or group with whom it is performed. It requires a minimum of physical objects although more may be added as long as they are in accord with the nature of the working. The three basic objects required are a bowl of salt water or holy water if it can be obtained, a blue candle and a censer or oil diffuser. This ritual is best started on Thursday when Jupiter is well aspected and in the first hour of Jupiter. If the specific timing cannot be ascertained for whatever reason, it may be started on a Thursday when the moon is waxing at either sunrise or sunset.

Sign of the Cross

In the Name of + the Father,+ the Son, and +the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Supplication to the Lord

Omnipotent and eternal God, who has ordained the whole creation for Your praise and glory, and for the salvation of humanity, I ask that You would send your Spirit Jophiel of the Jovial order, who shall inform and teach me those things which I shall ask of him; or, that he [state your request of the day]. Nevertheless not my will be done, but Yours, through Christ, Your Son, our Lord. + Amen. +Amen. +Amen. +Amen.

Prayer to the Angel Jophiel

I invoke you, Jophiel, mighty intelligence of the Jupiter sphere! You who descend from Mercy and Loving-kindess!  From beginningless time you, Jophiel, have been the protector and benefactor of humanity and the provider of good things and whenever anyone has upon you in times of need, you have stood close beside them. We humbly ask you for success and prosperity in all out undertakings, particularly [state request], and that the light of your Holy Wisdom guide and keep us forevermore. We ask this in the name of the Most High god of Zion, El, Strong and Mighty. Amen.

Closing Prayer Following Psalms

Forasmuch as you came in peace, and quietly, and hast answered unto my petitions; I give thanks to God, in whose Name you came: and now you may depart in peace unto your orders; and return to me again when I shall call you by your name, or by your order, or by your office, which is granted from the Creator. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We give thanks to You! Every soul and heart is lifted up to You, O 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 humanity understand You; Speech, so that we may expound You, Knowledge, so that we may know You. We rejoice because You hast shown us Yourself. We rejoice because we were in the body. You have made us divine through Your knowledge. The delight of the man who attains to You is one thing: that we know You. We have known You, O Intellectual Light. O Life of life, we have known You. O womb of every creature, we have known You. O womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You. O Eternal Permanence of the begetting Father thus have we worshipped Your goodness. There is one petition that we ask: we would be preserved in knowledge. And there is one protection that we desire: we do not stumble in this life. Amen.

 DAY ONE

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, you who were present in Eden and provided our spiritual parents the necessary wealth and prosperity they needed even when they had been cast out; help us who diligently labor to obtain all good things and gather much wealth and prosperity in our days. We ask this through your aid and the help of the High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 104

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; O LORD my God, how excellent is your greatness! you are clothed with majesty and splendor…”

Closing Prayer Following Psalms & Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY TWO

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

 Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel, Jophiel, as you provided those lost in the wilderness to ascend to greatness and fed the lost on manna from Heaven, please help us to ascend from our lowly places and ascend to such greatness as David and all righteous Kings of the World, without stumbling or faltering in our righteousness. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 113

“Hallelujah! Give praise, you servants of the LORD; praise the Name of the LORD…”

Closing Prayer & Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY THREE

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

 Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, as the Lord ordained that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will never walk away unfulfilled, fill us with such righteousness that we may establish a strong community of faith and trust in the Lord and may live in such a way as our successes may always be unto His greater Glory. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 112

“Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments!”

Closing Prayer & Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY FOUR

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, you who helped to establish strong fortresses and abundant homes, help to fill our homes with abundance and fortify ourselves through good diligence, the practice of beneficence, and service to your fellow citizens. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 122

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Closing Prayer & Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY FIVE

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, you who help to balance the measures of merchants and provide to equality amongst those who strive to maintain balance, help to balance our lives with necessary wealth, health, strength, joy and peace. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 126

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream.”

Closing Prayer & Prayer of Thanksgiving

DAY SIX

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, true prosperity is given to the righteous who like Solomon know how to best utilize their skills with wisdom. Grant us industriousness in our chosen fields that we may become masters of our disciplines and wield the rod of authority with mercy. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 125

“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but stands fast for ever.”

Closing Prayer & Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY SEVEN

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, having balanced the inferior with the superior, grant that we may obtain those things which we personally wish and would like to draw your attention toward, in particular [name requests]. With wisdom and mercy, help us to have the peace and serenity to accept know what we need in accordance with Divine Will. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 131

“O LORD, I am not proud; I have no haughty looks.”

Closing Prayer and Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY EIGHT

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, grant us apt and teachable hearts that we may avoid avarice and grossness, and regenerate our lives day after day so that our wealth and mercy may not be squandered in vain, but miraculously increase as in our knowledge of you and regenerate day after day in us and in the lives of all we hold dear and we may all live in peace and prosperity forever. We ask this in the name of the Most High God, El. Amen.

Psalm 133

“Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity!”

Closing Prayer & Prayer of Thanksgiving

 DAY NINE

 Sign of the Cross, Supplication to the Lord, & Invocation of Jophiel

 Prayer of the Day

O Great Angel Jophiel, we bless you and give you thanks for your assistance in our daily desires and our desires for wealth, both physically in the material and spiritually in the transcendental realms. Freely we have received and freely may we give, delighting in our bodies and minds, call others into joy and life and abundance. May we always be mindful that material things are to be used and our fellow humanity to be loved and that imbalance and evil arise when people are used and material things are loved. For your intercessions and your presence we give you due thanks and honor and praise, now and forevermore. +Amen. +Amen. +Amen. +Amen.

Psalm 134

“Behold now, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, you that stand by night in the house of the LORD.”

Closing Prayer and Prayer of Thanksgiving

The mystical novena may be used toward any end where one wishes to obtain the virtues and blessings of the Archangel Jophiel. As before, it is best performed when Jupiter is well aspected in the Heavens but may be done starting on any Thursday when one is in particular need. The personal requests and petitions should be in concord with those things under the corresponding principals of Jupiter such as principles of growth, expansion, prosperity, and good fortune; long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, and the law; humanitarian and protecting roles, and with gambling and merrymaking.

The scent most traditionally associated with Jupiter in modern times is cedar, although according to the theurgists of ancient Egypt and Greece storax is also held to be particularly well aspected to the planet. Should one be inclined to make a blend specific for this rite, the best would be a compound of 1 part finely ground cedar shavings, 1 part clove or cardamom, 1/2 part storax or benzoin, and a few drops of nutmeg essential oil.

If one is inclined to set up a more devotional space, the arrangement of the table or shrine should be as follows:

Icon or Statue of Jophiel

 

Holy Water             Thurible

 

Bible or Psalter

When the Sign of the Cross (+) one should place the three fingers of the right hand in the small bowl and make the sign of the cross upon his or herself. A small scoop of incense is added at the points of the Invocation of the Jophiel, during the reading of the psalms appointed, and at the Prayer of Thanksgiving.

The Archangel Jophiel

The Archangel Jophiel


Making Retrogrades Work for You

Phone gone missing? E-mails getting dropped left and right? Inability to express a simple thought without drooling all over your chin? Yup – that’s Mercury retrograde. In a departure from my typically more thoughtful posts, I figured I’d share some reflections on this particular astrological occurrence which seems to have become every astro-geek’s favorite whipping boy and “devil made me do it” excuse.

Since March 11th of this year until around April 4th, Mercury has been in a retrograde cycle. It happens at least three times per year when the apparent motion of a planet seems to move backward from its usual course from our perspective. As seen from Earth, all the planets appear to periodically switch direction as they cross the sky. In reality, the planets aren’t doing anything different than usual but since we’re the only sentient species on this planet that seems to have an interest in the motion of planetary spheres, our geocentrism tends to get the better of us and, when retrogrades were first observed, tended to puzzle ancient astronomers who viewed such occurrences as unfavorable at best or malefic at worst.

Is there anything to this – I can only answer, “Maybe.” From my own anecdotal experiences, periods of Mercury retrograde tend to be less than optimal times to start new projects in communication or practicing divination or anything dealing with electronics. Beyond my own anecdotal experiences, I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of the hype. Also, from a strictly Gnostic perspective, we are informed in texts such as Excerpta ex Theodoto:

“[T]hrough the fixed stars and the planets, the invisible powers holding sway over them direct and watch over births. But the stars themselves do nothing but display the activity of the dominant powers, just as the flight of the birds (for omens) indicates something but effects nothing…Now the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the seven stars which follow them rising now in conjunction, now in opposition, . . . these, moved by the powers, show the movement of substance toward the, creation of living beings and the turn of circumstances. But both the stars and the powers are of different kinds: some are beneficent, some maleficent, some right, some left, and that which is born shares in both qualities. And each of them comes into being at its own time, the dominant sign fulfilling the course of nature, partly at the beginning, partly at the end…Until baptism, they say, Fate is real, but after it the astrologists are no longer right. But it is not only the washing that is liberating, but the knowledge of who we were, and what we have become, where we were or where we were placed, whither we hasten, from what we are redeemed, what birth is and what rebirth.”

In this context, any astronomical or astrological event should be considered in its due place as a natural occurrence with some subtle action upon the vast tapestry of creation but not as a fatalistic event that holds complete sway over every facet of our lives. This being said, certain astrological and astronomical events can be used as intentional periods of reflection on certain themes whereby we may better align our lives in concord with nature.

As mentioned by friend and fellow blogger Sam Block on his Digital Ambler: “[Mercury retrograde is] a good time for reviewing what’s been going on in one’s life, gathering up one’s thoughts, and contemplating without much planning.” He goes on listing some of his accomplishments and interactions during periods of retrograde and how one can proactively use it to one’s advantage. In agreement with him, I tend to treat retrograde periods as similar period for “deep thoughts” and “deeper questions” and actually tend to focus more on appreciating the luminary spheres for their placement in the kosmos.

Being a Mercurial person myself in many regards, I tend to amplify my thoughts and appreciation of the wanderer through various devotional practices such as meditating upon the corresponding celestial divinities associated with this planet.

 

Planet Mercury
Heavenly Sphere Kokab
Divine Name Elohim Tzabaoth
Archangel Michael
Angels Beni Elohim (Sons of God)
Intelligence Tiriel
Spirit Taphthartharath
Psalms 22(14), 24(7), 40(5), 145
Scent Cassia or Storax
Ikon Christ the Good Shepherd, Holy Hermes Trismegistus

 

Above are enough correspondences to set up a working Mercury altar within a grimoire-based or Gnostic practice. One may even make a special altar cloth using the 8×8 planetary grid of Mercury to add a bit of flair to the occasion. The ikon of Christ the Good Shepherd has, in my opinion, a good association with Mercury as it is historically identical with the image of Hermes Kriophoros; alternately, at least amongst some in the Rennaisance, Hermes Trismegistus would also be appropriate since he was considered by many to be a contemporary of Moses and works attributed to him deemed not completely incompatible with Christian thought.

From here one may banish and purify the temple according to their usual practice and then recite a conjuration of Mercury such as the Orphic Hymn to Hermes:

TO HERMES

Hear me, Hermes, messenger of Zeus, son of Maia;
almighty is your heart, O lord of the deceased and judge of contests; gentle and clever, O Argeiphontes, you are a guide
whose sandals fly, and a man-loving prophet to mortals.
You are vigorous and you delight in exercise and in deceit;
interpreter of all, you are a profiteer who frees us of cares
and who holds in his hands the blameless tool of peace.
Lord of Korykos, blessed, helpful and skilled in words,
you assist in work, you are a friend of mortals in need,
and you wield the dreaded and respected weapon of speech.
Hear my prayer and grant a good end to a life
of industry, gracious talk, and mindfulness.

Or, for a more grimoire-influenced flavor, one may also use the following invocation modified from Pietro d’Abano’s Heptameron:

I CONJURE and call upon you, ye strong and holy angels, good and powerful, in a strong name of fear and praise, Ja, Adonay, Elohim, Saday, Saday, Saday; Eie, Eie, Eie; Asamie, Asamie; and in the name of Adonay, the God of Israel, who hath made the two great lights, and distinguished day from night for the benefit of his creatures; and by the names of all the discerning angels, governing openly in the Sixth Heave] before the great angel, Tiriel, strong and powerful; and by the name of his star which is Mercury; and by the name of his seal, which is that of a powerful and honoured God; and I call upon thee, Raphael, and by the names above mentioned, thou great angel who presidest over the fourth day: and by the holy name which is written in the front of Aaron, created the most high priest, and by the names of all the angels who are constant in the grace of Christ, and by the name and place of Ammaluim, that you assist me in my labours. Amen.”

Following this, one may silently meditate or pray on the Psalms or perform a basic divination (I prefer to use the method of coin divination outlined by Sannion which can be found here) and communicate with the intelligences briefly over concerns regarding lessons one may benefit from learning and record these in one’s journal. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a full-on conjuration practice in any traditional sense, merely information gathering and reflection.

The same type of outline can be used for other planets as well when in their retrograde stations to great effect – especially during periods when a planet appears to be in retrograde in one’s natal chart. The purpose, again, is not to become a fatalistic fool but to be able to intelligently communicate with the nature of the kosmos. With luck, this can become a regular practice even done in more opportune times that can be a middle ground between high-ceremony and simple devotion.

 


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