Avete #5 – Farewell

April 30, 2007 by  
Filed under avete, columns, defunct

Avete #5 - Farewell

Dear Readers, Writers & Staff,
I’m really pleased to see how well things are going here at Rending the Veil. It’s a dream come true for the guy who came up with the idea that started it all. I know that there will be dips and bumps in the road, but I’m pretty sure that when all is said and done, RTV will be held as a success.

For the time being, however, I’m bowing out. I’m simply not able to devote the time and attention to the project that it really deserves. Sheta has been doing a fabulous job as managing editor, and has gotten a lot of really passionate and intelligent people on board to fulfill a lot of the spots I should have been. A lot of the writers here are some of the best around, and I hope to see more people submitting articles and starting columns.

As for me, I’m going to be hitting the ol’ dusty trail for the foreseeable future. If I get any good ideas, I’ll submit isolated articles here and there, but as things stand I’m too distracted to keep my writing up to par. Hell, even this goodbye is short and very late!

I apologize to one and all for not pulling my weight and for the low quality of my submissions. Taking a few steps back like this ought to mean that when I do write for RTV, that it’ll at least be worth running.

Good luck to one and all, and to the Rending the Veil project as a whole! You’ve already made me proud.

In Peace Profound,
Nicholas Graham

©2007 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Book Review – Wheels of Light

March 21, 2007 by  
Filed under books, reviews

Book Review - Wheels of Light


Wheels of Light: Chakras, Auras, and the Healing Energy of the Body
By Rosalyn L. Bruyere
Fireside 1994 $14.00 US
ISBN-13: 978-0-6717-9624-2
ISBN-10: 0-671-79624-0
288 Pages
starstarstarstarstar
Reviewer: Nicholas Graham

My interests of late have mostly involved energy work of one form or another, primarily those taught in Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics. Bardon only briefly mentions the chakras. When I encountered Bardon’s quick overview, I realized that I had very little information on the chakra system. An entry in Bill Whitcomb’s fantastic The Magician’s Companion\, a bit in Blavatsky, and a re-envisioning of the chakras in Robert Bruce’s Astral Dynamics was really about it. One of my magical goals is to become an effective healer. It is my opinion that a solid foundation in the chakras is essential to powerful, pinpointed healing magic. As such, I really wanted to find a book that could give me such a foundation along practical lines rather than theoretical, and certainly without a lot of the New Age baggage and Theosophical white-washing that often comes along for the ride.

In Wheels of Light, I could not have found a more perfect book for my needs. The book provides a practical introduction to the chakras, but does not stop there. Drawing from a great deal of research, Bruyere provides a multicultural view of the role of Kundalini in the mystery traditions, spiritual practices, healing methods, and initiatory rites of cultures as far afield (geographically) as the Hopi and the Egyptians. Snake symbolism is examined thoroughly within Hindu, Egyptian, Greek, and Hopi mythology. Of particular interest to me are the connections made by Bruyere between Kundalini and Hermetics, as well as the re-emerging Goddess worship.

The primary focus of Wheels of Light, however, is not anthropology or archeology, but healing. Bruyere clearly speaks from direct experience, and even provides a great deal of biological science to back up her techniques. A great many extremely useful guidelines and methods are dropped throughout the book, and the final chapter is entirely devoted to energy treatments for certain common and severe illnesses from bacterial infections to cancer and AIDS. Throughout, Bruyere maintains a positive and optimistic attitude about the subject, but keeps her feet firmly on the ground by discussing the biological facts and the necessary medical treatments that should go on side by side with magical healing.

All in all, Wheels of Light provides an enjoyable, at times challenging, and very inspiring read for anybody interested in chakras, Kundalini, or the possibilities of energy healing.

Review ©2007 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Nicholas Graham and Sheta Kaey

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Avete #4 – Experimental Magic

Avete #4 - Experimental Magic

I am not very experimental in my magic. At least, I don’t tend to come up with any interesting new ideas myself. I love trying out other people’s ideas, though, and am highly encouraged to find that so many other magicians are willing to put themselves and their reputations on the line to try new things and then write about them.

I’m proud to say that we have a few such magicians right here on Rending the Veil. Taylor Ellwood has just finished up a book that sounds amazing, entitled Inner Alchemy (Megalithica Books). Curious about the spiritual lives and magical functions of your own neurotransmitters and hormones? So is Taylor, but instead of just wondering about it, he studied long and hard and threw himself into the Work like a true Inner Planes explorer.

Lupa, also, is certainly active in the field and always open for a new idea. She developed an entire system all her own using snippets of various totemic paradigms and shamanic methods gleaned from anthropology and New Age materials, all mixed with her own ingenuity and quickly broadening range of experiences. Her first book, Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone (Megalithica Books) is not only a manual of real animal and totemic magic, but also a lasting testament to her efforts. I believe that FFBB will eventually be looked upon as a classic by totemic Western magicians just as Condensed Chaos is viewed by pragmatic magicians of all backgrounds and traditions.

Donald Tyson was one of the first occult authors that I myself encountered in my local bookstore. While Mr. Tyson and I may not agree on a number of points of approach to magic, that is irrelevant when considering the depth of his influence on my point of view on experimentalism and taking a new approach to an old subject. His books Enochian Magic for Beginners and Tetragrammaton (both from Llewellyn Publications) are excellent examples of Tyson’s willingness to reevaluate a case long since thought to be closed by the majority of seekers.

My own High Priest, Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, is in the process of editing a book (also from Megalithica Books) entitled Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick. My Coven brother Frater Griff and I have been privileged to be asked to experiment with and test out many of the rituals presented in that book. Any beginner to Western ceremonial magic could have no better textbook than The Disciple’s Guide. The ritual methods are demanding and challenging, but definitely beautiful and effective. I look forward also to the publication of Frater Barrabbas’s magnum opus, written many years ago as a textbook for “intermediate”1 magicians, The Pyramid of Powers. Frater Barrabbas is also notable for his acknowledgment of the importance of an energy structure which he calls “The Rose Ankh Vortex.”2

It would be close to sinful if I did not acknowledge some of the unsung experimental magicians of the past. Franz Bardon immediately springs to mind. He likely did not invent many of the exercises given in his most important book, Initiation into Hermetics, but he almost certainly put them together in their currently known forms and structures and perfected them through decades of training and teaching. It is my opinion that no magician, regardless of their tradition, can be without IIH.3

William G. Gray simply does not receive enough attention. The techniques and ideas described in Inner Traditions of Magic and Magical Ritual Methods are splendid! A thorough study of these two books, along with personal work with Gray’s concepts, will open up many new avenues for group and solitary ritual structures.

Dr. Israel Regardie is best known for his publications and explanations of the system of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. While that is his major contribution, he also made some fascinating attempts in alchemy (though only late in life did he realize what he had been doing wrong) and came up with some unique perspectives on the psychological and healing uses for Golden Dawn magic.

Dr. Georg Lomer is a name that very few people know, and that’s a real shame. His methods, described fully in his book Seven Hermetic Letters, are a bit ascetic for most people but serve as a beautiful method of spiritual development along Hermetic lines. Franz Bardon himself used to hand out copies of the Hermetic letters to his own students. That’s some pretty high praise!

Let me stretch back a bit further. Ficino, Mirandola, and Paracelsus may be historically important figures, but modern occultists hardly pay any attention to them. Ficino and Mirandola both practiced a kind of Orphic Tantra. The symbols of various spiritual agencies (mostly angels) were used as meditative foci, along with music and poetry, to bring the practitioner’s spirit in line with the higher spheres. A magician of this method would try to find illumination through meditation and intense prayer, the ultimate goal of which was to internalize the powers of those angels. While these ideas may seem old hat to us, it is only because such men as Ficino and Mirandola kept them alive. Paracelsus is best known as an alchemist and healer. He was controversial in his day for, among other things, recommending the use of methods similar to Ficino’s along with more “traditional” forms of medicine (tinctures, poltices, and the other standards).

There are many more to be explored and rediscovered, if we only think to look! I will close by encouraging all of my fellow magicians, whether Neophyte or Adept, to let your imaginations soar. Often some of the greatest ideas come from just saying, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if . . .”

Footnotes

  1. I use quotations because Barrabbas’s ideas of intermediate magic are very similar to everybody else’s ideas of extremely advanced magic!
  2. I have become quite enamored of this structure, and will soon be writing an article for Rending the Veil on the Vortex and some of its uses.
  3. Initiation into Hermetics, The Practice of Magical Evocation, and The Key to the True Kabbalah, in addition to some supplementary material, are all available in new translations from Merkur Publications. Many thanks to Taylor Ellwood and Frater Griff for pointing me toward Bardon in the first place!

©2007 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

A Neophyte’s Commentary on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram

February 13, 2007 by  
Filed under magick, qabalah, ritual

A Neophyte's Commentary on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram

Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unfit to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise. — Aleister Crowley, Notes on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram1

Just as Crowley said, the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (LRP) is not as one-sided as many people believe. If it were a “mere device” for banishing and invoking, as a majority of modern magicians so erroneously believe, it could be easily supplanted by any number of invoking and banishing rituals developed in other systems (most notably the current known as Chaos Magic). The problem with trying to replace the LRP with other rituals is simply one of function: no other ritual that I have encountered so succinctly, efficiently and beautifully performs all of the quite necessary magical functions of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Whatever inspiration led to the creation of this ritual deserves the thanks of all modern magicians.

Even those who do not make use of Kabbalah in their magical systems would do well to give an ample study to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram in light of Kabbalah, as it provides a template of successful ritual design for a wide variety of purposes.

I shall attempt a step-by-step analysis of the ritual, running on the assumption that the magician has a copy of it available for comparison. The version which I use, and to which my commentary will correspond most closely, will be found in David Griffin’s The Ritual Magic Manual, and can be found for free at http://www.golden-dawn.com/ in the “Rituals” section.

The Kabbalistic Cross

The Kabbalistic Cross, the opening sub-ritual of the Lesser Pentagram Ritual, receives relatively little attention by magical commentators and practitioners. It is often viewed merely as “what you do before the LRP.” There are several functions even to this basic introductory sub-ritual, however. Consider the formulation of the magician’s Kether, Malkuth, Gevurah and Chesed (Gedulah). This is a poetic statement of intent, in one sense, and a powerful magical action in another, at the same time. What you have done when you have performed the Kabbalistic Cross is activate the Light in your Kether, your God-Self, and made it manifest in your earthly vessel, causing both to be lit up in your Sphere of Sensation (Aura). You have followed this by activating the spheres of Severity (Gevurah) and Mercy (Chesed) and, thus, the side Pillars: the Pillar of Severity and the Pillar of Mercy. In this way have you made of your Sphere of Sensation a magical Temple of the Mysteries. Regular performance of this simple rite will serve to draw the Light into your Sphere of Sensation and balance it within your own private Temple.

Simultaneously, the Kabbalistic Cross serves as a succinct prayer to the Divine. “Ateh Malkuth ve-Gevurah ve-Gedulah le-Olam Amen” translates roughly to the final line of the Protestant form of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thine art the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen.” Of course, the tone is not one of mainstream Christian piety, but rather of one’s aspirations toward the True Divine, however one may conceptualize It. Some people have taken to inserting the name of their particular deity at the heart center (Tiphareth) between “Ateh” and “Malkuth,” as in “Thine art, O Jesus, the Kingdom. . .” or “Thine art, O Allah, the Kingdom. . .” While this may personalize the rite somewhat, I believe it also taints the purity of one’s aspirations toward the Divine by transforming one’s own personal beliefs into an assumption of Truth. This is a dangerous assumption for any magician to make, especially a magician who already holds very strong religious beliefs. Religious beliefs themselves are not harmful and can be quite helpful, but when held with such zeal that they are never modified, augmented or reinterpreted based on new information (and a magician is almost always receiving new information!), they become counter-productive at best. In other words, it is best to leave this rite in its simplest form to allow the prayer to balance the Light and bring contact with the Divine in any way necessary rather than forcing it into a preconceived mold.

It’s interesting to note that during the Kabbalistic Cross, the magician expands his Astral form to a great height; entire galaxies revolve around it as a central pole. This exaltation of the mind is for two main purposes. The first is that of aspiration; the magician is identifying his aspirations yet again with the Highest, and thus expanding upward and outward to seek connection with that Highest. Aspiration toward the Light of Kether is a constant theme in Golden Dawn magic. The idea is common, though, to all systems of magic, even those with few or no Kabbalistic influences at all. Magic always seeks personal betterment. The differences often lie not in this goal, but in how they go about it. Even the basest forms of sorcery such as Hoodoo call upon Divine forces for aid, and their goal, ultimately, is betterment, though usually in a purely material sense. More exalted forms of magic such as Hermetic Theurgy and many forms of shamanism (especially shamanism as reinterpreted through the modern Western mind) reach much higher, while still acknowledging the importance of life right here on Earth (hence the use of talismans, spirit evocation, healing techniques, etc.). The other purpose to the expansion is that of authority through the aforementioned aspiration. That is, the magician is alerting all entities that his aspirations are holy, his intentions pure, and thus that he is deserving of their attention and aid. The whole exercise, then, is one of expansion and aggrandizement, but with an attitude of humility, placing the entire operation under the auspices of the Divine and making the statement that, “If I be not worthy, let it be! If I reach too far, redirect my attention to a better goal!”

It should go without saying that at the end of the ritual (I personally save this step for the end of all ritual activity for that session), one should return to one’s normal size and re-enter one’s physical vessel. This serves to ground the entire operation back in Malkuth and restore the magician’s attention to life here on Earth.

The Kabbalistic Cross is used at the end of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram for all of the same reasons, but especially for the purpose of balancing the activity of the entire operation.

One can find many mystical uses for the Kabbalistic Cross all on its own. I have personally used it as a brief invocation of aid by immediately preceding it with an appropriate Divine Name. While this may seem to break with the guideline I set above concerning adding the name of one’s own religious god to the structure of the Kabbalistic Cross, let me explain how it is different. The Divine Names, in the view of the Kabbalah of the Western Esoteric Tradition, are titles of the Divine, each one embodying an overarching manifestation of the Divine within Creation. Hence, Eheieh, the name associated with Kether, represents the essential indivisible unity of the Divine, its incomprehensibility from the perspective of human consciousness, and its constant motion throughout Creation (the word “Eheieh” can be translated as “I am” and “I become”; see Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegranates). Thus, Eheieh does not represent a different being from the Divine, but does represent a unique point of view on the Divine. Donald Michael Kraig made the comparison of a man being called many names by those who know him. He is Mr. Smith to his son’s friends, but Dad to his son; Smitty to his co-workers, but Honey to his wife; etc. (Modern Magick second edition by Donald Michael Kraig, 1999 Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota.) These are all referring to the same man, but from different perspectives. This, of course, is going far afield and well into the realm of Kabbalistic theory, so I’ll wrap it up by saying this: the Divine Names can be thought of as formulas invoking specific Forces. One of these Forces, if invoked just prior to the prayer of the Kabbalistic Cross, can be activated in a relatively weak, but also well-balanced manner so that it is drawn into the normal flow of the magician-s own energy. This is no substitute for such methods as the Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar (see Regardie’s The Golden Dawn), but can serve one well when only a small bit of force is wanted.

Formulation of the Pentagrams

The formulation of the Pentagrams is equally complex. In the Lesser Pentagram Ritual, whether Banishing or Invoking, only the Earth Pentagrams are used. The purpose of this is obvious to anybody who has studied Kabbalah extensively: Earth is the culmination of the three other Elements and is thus, in this case, acts as a representative of all four Elements under the presidency of Spirit.

The usage of the Neophyte Signs (the Sign of the Enterer and the Sign of Silence) to charge the Pentagrams is important. Crowley notes the assumption of the Godform of Harpocrates as one of the two most important methods of purifying and fortifying the Aura (along with the performance of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram itself). The use of the Sign of the Enterer is to charge the Pentagram. The use of the Sign of Silence, in this case, is twofold. First, it stops the force projected with the Sign of the Enterer. If you do not stop the force from flowing, it will continue pouring from you. Second, it fortifies the Sphere of Sensation and thus cements the Pentagram and the Force of the Name of Power within it. There is a lot more symbolism and practical application within each of these signs. For the purposes here, allow me to quote from The Golden Dawn: “It is the affirmation of the station of Harpocrates, wherein the Higher Soul of the Candidate is formulated in part of the admission Ceremony. It is the symbol of the Centre and of the ‘Voice of the Silence’ which answers in secret the thought of the heart.”

The Names of Power invoked during the tracing of the Pentagrams are important in two ways. First of all, each one has an independent meaning and symbolic association of its own. In the East, we invoke YHVH. This is done in the East, the quarter of the Rising Sun, because YHVH is the Beginning of All Things. It is in the quarter of Air (going by the Elemental Winds as opposed to the zodiacal quarters) because YHVH is the whirling, swirling force of Nature. This is vastly clarified if one studies the correspondences of Aleph.

In the South, we invoke Adonai. Adonai (which translates to “Lord”) is the Divine manifest through the personal Holy Guardian Angel. The South is the quarter of Fire and the noonday Sun. Thus, it is also the quarter of our aspirations toward Divinity. Adonai is the title we give to the Being to which we aspire.

Moving West, we invoke Eheieh. Eheieh is often translated as “I am.” This is appropriate, for the West is the quarter of Water, and Water is the Sea of Being. Further, Eheieh is translated also as “I become” or “I am becoming” according to some (including Israel Regardie in A Garden of Pomegranates). Water is a perfect symbol of constant Becoming due to its flowing, and its tendency to conform to any container into which it is poured.

Facing North, we invoke AGLA. This is notariqon for the phrase “Ateh gibor le-Olam Adonai,” which we can translate as, “Thine is the strength forever, O Lord.” “Strength” in this case may be thought of as “fortitude.” The North is the quarter of Earth, and Earth is the magician’s fortitude and ability to withstand all pain and inconvenience in the name of his Divine aspirations.

The second importance of the Names chosen is the fact that all four names are four-letter names (Tetragrammaton). To transliterate the Hebrew letters they are:

  • YHVH (Yod Heh Vav Heh)
  • ADNY (Aleph Daleth Nun Yod) — Adonai
  • AHYH (Aleph Heh Yod Heh) — Eheieh
  • AGLA (Aleph Gimel Lamed Aleph)

The importance of this should be apparent to those who have followed the Elemental attributions thus far; the four names of four letters each signify that this ritual is concerned with the balancing of all four Elements within the sphere of the magician.

A note should be made concerning the colors involved. There are many variations on this ritual extant. Regardie’s TThe Golden Dawn, in the First Knowledge Lecture, suggests that the Pentagrams and Circle of Light should be visualized as being fiery. For somebody not well-versed in Kabbalah, who is using the LRP “as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits (Crowley),” this would work just fine.

For those looking deeper, hoping to get all of the functionality available from the LRP, a set of kabbalistic associations would far better serve. The Circle should be White, representing the Unity of Kether and the purity of the Divine LVX. The Pentagrams should be formulated in electric blue flames with golden-white sparks (“like the flame of a gas stove,” Griffin).2 The Pentagram, having five points, is a symbol of Gevurah (Strength, Severity). The LRP is intended to be a fully balanced invocation and, thus, the coloration of the Pentagrams must serve this purpose. They are colored blue, the color of Chesed (in Briah, the Queen Scale, the Creative World, or the Plane of Archangels) to directly balance the force of Gevurah with Mercy. This blue flame is flecked with golden-white sparks to represent the balanced action of Tiphareth and to reinforce the purity of Kether as the ultimate focus of one’s magical work.

The Invocation of the Archangels

The forms of the Archangels in this ritual are as Elemental Rulers, more powerful even than the Elemental Kings, for they possess a Divine Intelligence superior to that of the Elemental Kings.

Crowley remarked that if the ritual is performed properly, the Archangels should appear when invoked automatically; the magician will be so lit up and exalted that the Archangels will come to his aid of their own accord and will present themselves as his Guardians. (See Notes on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.) I have found this to be true in my own sessions, though it may take a bit of practice with the proper visualizations and intonations before this level is reached. In the meantime, it is advisable to provide the Archangels with your own visualized image to inhabit.

Immediately following the call to the Archangels is a re-formulation of the Pentagrams. As the magician says, “For about me flame the Pentagrams,” the magician should re-visualize the Pentagrams and the Circle of Light in order to reinforce their reality in his mind. The Microcosm of the Pentagram is balanced in the Aura by the formulation of a Golden Hexagram: “. . . and in the Column shines the Six-Rayed Star.” The “column” referred to is the Middle Pillar. The Hexagram should be formulated in the Tiphareth center of the chest. This makes it a representative of the Planets revolving around the Sun and the linking of the Macrocosm with the personal Microcosm of the magician.

The LRP as a Ritual Template

The LRP can also be seen as a formula for the construction of more complex and specific magical ceremonies. I’ll take this step by step as well.

Kabbalistic Cross — Aspiration: The first step in a well-constructed ceremony is aspiration to the Divine. The Kabbalistic Cross serves this function nicely, though there are many other ways a clever magician could fulfill a similar purpose. Essentially, this is a brief prayer to the Divine and invocation of your own Higher Self to aid you in your work and to guide you in ensuring that you’ve made the right decision in this work. Also in this step, you would Banish any unwanted forces from your Temple. The LBRP itself, as well as the LBRH (Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram) are quite suitable for this purpose, and serve both to Banish unwanted forces and to aspire to the Divine.

Formulation of the Pentagrams — Invoking the Forces: In Kabbalistic magic, an appropriate Divine Name is always invoked, and usually this step is used to invoke a specific Force appropriate to the work at hand. If you were to design a ceremony for gaining fiery inspiration, you would want to invoke YHVH Tzabaoth and draw an Invoking Fire Pentagram to draw in the Force of Fire. In the Golden Dawn system and most variants, this would be done by performing the Greater Fire Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram which combines Kabbalistic and Enochian Divine Names and other methods.

Invocation of the Archangels — Invocation/Evocation: This is the part of the ceremony where the magician projects the invoked Force in an appropriate direction for the purpose of creating the intended change. In many cases, this will involve invoking appropriate Archangels or other Angelic forces, such as the Choirs or an Olympic Spirit of an associated planet. If your goals are more material, you may also at this point perform an Evocation, calling upon the aid of a Spirit, Intelligence, Elemental or Demon appropriate to your goal. With the invoked Force and the Divine Name of the previous step flowing through you, you’re well prepared for this step already. It is also at this time that you might project the invoked Force into a Talisman or use it to consecrate a magical artifact. This is the most flexible step of the formula because it’s the step in which you actually perform the intended magical act.

Kabbalistic Cross — Conclusion: At this time, the magician may conclude by thanking the Force invoked, releasing any beings evoked, and Banishing to return to regular consciousness, but with a balanced and spiritually aspiring attitude. Most systems of evocation contain a License to Depart for any spirits. The LBRP (and LBRH, if any Planetary Forces were invoked) is appropriate for Banishing and the final aspiration via the Kabbalistic Cross (and Analysis of the Keyword, if the LBRH is used).

Conclusion

It should go without saying that the above is incomplete. It is merely an analysis based on what I know and what I have experienced. I can only hope that it will serve as a jumping off point for the further investigations of any magician interested in exploring the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, or interested in making use of its design characteristics for the creation of their own, non-Kabbalistic rituals for similar purposes. Being merely a Neophyte in the Work myself, I must in good conscience provide a disclaimer: “The final speech of the Hierophant is further intended besides its apparent meaning, to affirm that a person only partially initiated is neither fitted to teach nor to instruct even the outer and more ignorant in Sublime Knowledge. He is certain, through misunderstanding the principles, to formulate error instead of truth (Regardie, The Golden Dawn.)3.”

Footnotes

  1. Crowley’s essay may be found on page 690 of Magick: Book 4, Liber ABA (revised and expanded edition), published in the form of the “Big Blue Brick” by Weiser Books, Inc. (York Beach, Maine) in 1997. Crowley makes some interesting points, but I must take issue with his statement that the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is designed so that the magician stands in Tiphareth. It is clear from the Golden Dawn material that the magician stands in Malkuth for the performance of this ritual.
  2. Page 46 of The Ritual Magic Manual: A Complete Course in Practical Magic by David Griffin (1999 Golden Dawn Publishing, Beverly Hills, CA). I suggest the acquisition of this book to anybody interested in Golden Dawn and/or Kabbalistic ceremonial magic.
  3. For this quotation, see pg. 370 of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn sixth edition, 1997 Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota.

©2007 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Avete #3 – Magic is Not a Hobby

February 13, 2007 by  
Filed under avete, columns, magick, mysticism

Avete #3 - Magic is Not a Hobby

A friend of mine once asked me what I would do (magically speaking) if, suddenly, I had little or no leisure time left. He gave the extreme example of being stuck out in the bush and having to do my utmost to merely survive, not knowing whether or not help would arrive. Of course, the question is equally relevant to those of us who have jobs, school, families, and/or any number of other responsibilities.

My response probably came off as being a bit self-righteous, but I still stand behind the sentiment of it. Magic is not a hobby. It is not something that a person does just for the excitement of it. In fact, those who would try to use it as a means of excitement either are delusional or will quickly become bored and disappointed. Magic frequently takes a great deal of tedious work and preparation without much in the way of immediate reward. Likewise, magic is not something that a person could pick up in a weekend intensive and immediately achieve awesome physical results. If you’re a total beginner and you don’t believe me, go out, buy a medieval grimoire or one of those commercial spell books, try to make any of it work, then get back to me.

Magic is something to which a person must dedicate their entire life. Every act in life eventually becomes magical insofar as it furthers one’s magical development. Those who believe that magic is purely about fulfilling each and every whim and material or sexual desire will be as disappointed as the excitement seekers.

Let’s look at Wicca for an accessible example. Anybody who has read an introductory book on Wicca has run across the Wheel of the Year (the solar holidays, or Sabbats) and the importance of the Lunar cycle (the various lunar phases, or Esbats). Even in Crowley’s Thelema and in the Golden Dawn’s system you will find hymns and prayers to the Sun during different times of day and spiritual empowerment ceremonies timed to the Equinoxes. To some, these may seem like pointless little holidays or more excuses to party. Even many Neopagans take the Wheel of the Year and the Lunar cycles that way! I will not argue that they are perfect times to party and have fun, but that partying spirit goes along with the reverential treatment of the natural time cycles. “Reverence and Mirth” is a common phrase to hear in British Traditional Wicca, and it is also a good general approach to magic.

The celebrations of the Solar and Lunar cycles are not mere celebrations, but instead serve as a powerful magico-symbolic (or mytho-poetic, if you prefer) means of drawing even the most mundane aspects of life — those which we take most for granted like the phases of the Moon, the rising and setting of the Sun, and the amount of daylight during each season — into the realm of the magical and mythological. It is a means of both “materializing the Spirit” and of “spiritualizing matter,” not to mention of exalting the practitioner’s own awareness of these things into true consciousness.

Even the simplest spell often takes months of preparation, if you take into account all of the training that you must go through before you can make that spell work (not to mention gathering the various components and so forth you might wish to use). There is a degree of beginner’s luck in magic, whereby a total newbie might find that their first halting spell or two come out brilliantly, but you can’t count on that sort of good fortune to carry you through.

I will argue to my last breath that it is not outside the realm of possibilities for nearly everybody to find half an hour to an hour a day (as a fair minimum) for meditation and basic magical training. Even five minutes every day is better than a full hour only on Sunday. I repeat: magic is not a hobby. If you really want to be a magician, take the time and put in the effort and you will achieve your results. All the reading and talking in the world will not make you a wise mystic or powerful adept. Magic is a difficult way of walking the Path of Perfection, often creating as many obstacles as it dissolves, however it is also a means of finding Reverence and Mirth in every moment of life. Those of you who work and play hard in your magical quest will surely find the Grail.

©2007 by Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Avete #2/5 – A Little Rant About Antiquity

Avete #2/5 - A Little Rant About Antiquity

It still amazes me that some Wiccans insist on claiming that their religion has existed since time immemorial. That statement is only strictly true if we consider the 1940s to be too far back to recall clearly. Wicca, of course, is only one example of the general occult trend of ascribing antiquity to traditions and ideas in order to gain them more credibility.

I am not trying to offend Wiccans with this editorial. The fact is that I, too, am a Wiccan! At the time of this writing, I await my first degree Alexandrian Witchcraft initiation this very weekend. The difference between myself and some others, however, is that I do not think that any religion or system of magic has to be older than the birth of Christ in order to be valid.

The history of Wicca is a pretty simple one, all things considered. It does not involve the political intrigue of Christianity, nor the wars of Islam and Judaism. While there are aspects of Wiccan history that many of us will never know (not having been there), we can still be certain of the majority of the story. A summary, including a bit of theorizing on my own part, may run thus:

When Christianity came to power, it did not do so all at once as many priests and preachers (not to mention the public school system’s history classes) tell it. Instead, it was a gradual process which involved politics, war, and a few willing and peaceful conversions to sweeten the mix a bit. The paganism of Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Middle East, and the remainder of Europe did not simply disappear. In many cases, clear survivals occurred in which people of both common and noble stock were found to be practicing something akin to a Pagan religion within their own household or community traditions for centuries after the spread of Christianity. It is well known that many more subtle survivals occurred within the Christian traditions themselves, especially Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. The cults of the Saints, praying to icons (or “ikons” for the Orthodox Church), various holidays, and more cultural traditions than I know of are all clear survivals of paganism. As an interesting note, the word “superstition” itself comes from the Latin word superstes, which refers to a survival, or “that which survives.”

It is quite evident from the above that some elements of paganism survived for quite a long time right under the noses of Church officials. I don’t believe that we have to stretch to suggest that various family and small community Pagan traditions survived even into the modern day in certain parts of Europe and the British Isles. It seems quite possible to me that Gerald Gardner could have been initiated into just such a small community tradition in the form of the New Forest Coven.

The New Forest Coven was unlikely to have resembled what we would call Wicca today. More likely, it was a rather incomplete grouping of celebratory ceremonies, superstitious beliefs, and odd bits of folk magic. Gardner clearly had to fill in some gaps when he formed his own tradition, and he did so with the material which was extant at the time: the ceremonial, Kabbalistic, and Hermetic materials of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and of Crowley’s Thelema. Gerald Gardner was definitely an initiated member of Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis in his day and was an enthusiastic Thelemite. I say this not to disparage the traditions of Wicca, but merely to show where many elements of Wicca find their source.

Many people read explanations and historical surveys like this one and immediately jump to the conclusion that Wicca is fabricated or fake. Such an attitude cannot be further from the truth, and here is the essential truth of the matter set down as clearly as I can make it:

It does not matter how old a tradition is or how it found its birth. What matters most is the relevance of the tradition for those who practice it. There. I’ve said it and I will not take it back. Those occultists and skeptics alike who speak disparagingly of Wicca because of its recent birth and mythologized beginnings need only look at their own traditions to see parallels. Even modern materialist science has been cobbled together from odd bits of scattered hypotheses put forth by numerous individuals, and has not existed in any real shape for more than a century and a half. Has modern science proved useless as a consequence of its recent advent, or the fact that many people still worship Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein as gods? Hardly. Similarly with occultism. Most of what we call the Western esoteric tradition was born with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, who themselves mythologized nearly all of their source material. Much of their ideology was lifted whole from the writings of Éliphas Lévi, who himself practically made everything up out of his own head. Much of the Golden Dawn’s practical material came from Francis Barrett’s The Magus, which was a very poor plagiarism of Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Agrippa’s material itself was cobbled together from numerous sources, including Zoharic Kabbalism, Hermetic and Pythagorean philosophy, and Catholic Neoplatonism. Despite all this, the Golden Dawn’s system of magic is still one of the most influential and widely used traditions today. I will not argue that the Golden Dawn’s methods are ineffectual, as they have proven themselves to me as being extremely powerful when used properly. All of this comes down to two essential points:

  1. There is no reason to lie about the origins of your own tradition. It is what it is, and as long as it works, there is no need to defend it.
  2. It is pointless to put down the traditions of others as long as they are effectual for those who use them. It is nothing but a waste of your time.

No matter what anybody else has to say about it, I will continue training with Franz Bardon’s textbooks in my office and then retire outdoors to dance naked under Luna’s light with my Coven. For as long as these methods work for me, they will be my philosophy, my religion, and my magical traditions.

©2007 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Training the Observer

December 21, 2006 by  
Filed under hermeticism, meditation, mysticism, qabalah

Training the Observer

Meditation in Theory

Meditation is the foundation of all magical and mystical systems of all cultures. It may seem a bit beginnerish to spend an entire article on the subject, but I believe this topic to be important enough to cover over and over again. I don’t think that I’ll have to do that here, but I at least want to get out my views on the topic for the general reader.

To give an idea of what meditation is at its core, allow me the presumption of a crude allegory. Consider an unpolished block of marble. This is your mind, complete with rough edges, nooks, points, spines, and crannies of all varieties on every side. Thoughts (my ideas of which will be explained further in a moment) are as snowballs being slung at the marble block. With all of the rough spots, there is ample friction for the snow to stick, and more than enough nooks in which the snow can be caught. Meditation is a process by which we buff, chisel, and polish the marble until it is smooth. At this point, the mud can only stick for but a few moments, after which it simply slides off the nearly frictionless surface. Such are the thoughts that are thrown at a meditative mind.

As stated, this is merely an allegory. No thoughts of my own could possibly tell the whole story, but it gives you a good idea. This allegory, in my opinion, also answers a question that troubles many would-be magicians and mystics. Most of us are taught at the beginning that if we do not achieve complete mental vacuity, we have failed in our meditative efforts. While mental vacuity must be our goal, meditation almost always falls short of this ideal. We are not failures for this. A Zen practitioner friend of mine once told me in response to a question on this that no matter how many years you’ve been at it, there will always be a bit of mental chatter. The goal is to attain a state in which thoughts melt away as quickly as they appear.

Why, some readers may ask, would we want to achieve such a state at all? Isn’t thinking good? Of course thinking is good. Any extremist which tries to tell you that thinking is bad has entirely missed the point. Meditation is useful in numerous ways. The most practical use for most people is that meditation calms the mind such that thinking throughout the rest of one’s day is smoother and much easier to direct and focus.

Additionally, meditation puts one in touch in a very direct and open way with what we may term Divinity or The Source by way of the essential “emptiness” of all things. Meditation does not empty us, but instead aids us in realizing our own preexisting emptiness, or what William G. Graycalls “Nil.” Think of Nil as our essential Self, but likewise Nil is the essence of everything and everyone else, so it is our one true and complete means of unity with all other aspects of existence and even non-existence. For more culturally specific modes of expressing this idea, think the Kabbalistic Yechidah, or the Taoist statement that it is only by a thing’s emptiness that it is made useful.1 A wheel is only usable if it has a central hole for the axle, and a vase is only a vase if it is hollow.

For many magicians, the primary role of meditation in their practice is as a convenient and portable means of casting “spells” or “sigils.” After all, while sitting in your company’s lunch room it’s much easier to achieve a meditative state of mind than it is to jump up and do an ecstatic dance or perform a complete ceremonial invocation! Meditation is indeed quite useful for this purpose, based on my experience, but please do not make the common mistake of believing that this is the only ‘true’ goal of meditation.

Now for the question of the nature of consciousness. Without using any one system’s concept of the structure of a human’s subtle bodies and aspects of Self, I will provide my own theory based on my own experience from 5 years of serious meditation. I hope that it will give somebody a bit of insight into what meditation actually accomplishes and how it does so.

I recommend that everybody try the Neophyte meditation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.2 Spend several minutes performing rhythmic breathing in your preferred fashion. The Golden Dawn themselves suggested the Fourfold Breath (count of 4 in, count of 4 hold, count of 4 out, count of 4 hold, etc.) but this is not necessary as long as you are breathing in a rhythmic, relaxed, and thoroughly oxygenating manner. Now, consider a zero-dimensional point. Focus all of your attention on that concept the best you can. Consider the concept directly (no tangential thoughts, please!) for five to ten minutes, then note down your experiences and insights.

The demonstration this simple exercise makes is that consciousness is very much like that point. That point, in Kabbalistic terminology, is like your personal Kether. Kether is much like the Eye in the Pyramid: the Observer. Aha, now you know what the title of this article means! The Observer is my name for the essential consciousness of each person. The implications of this idea are simply astounding, and make more sense the more one meditates.

We do not create ideas, at least not most of them. We observe them as they float by us on the Mental Plane. Let that sink in for a moment. Read it again. We observe thoughts as they float by us on the Mental Plane. The Mental Plane is not limited by time and space, so when I say, “as they float by us,” I mean that only as a simplification. A proper clarification may be that we observe those thoughts that best catch our attention, this being dependent upon our personality and individual circumstances on the Astral and Physical levels. The untrained Observer is naturally drawn to any shiny and fun thoughts that happen to enter its field of awareness. Meditation is the best method by far for training the Observer; in other words, of gaining and mastering the ability to focus the Observer’s attention on any given idea in particular.

Curiously, I have observed that we can generate certain thoughts. In particular, we generate our self-reflections. These are developed mostly in our Mental Matrices rather than in our Minds proper. A person’s Mental Matrix is the energetic interface developed between the Spirit/Mind and the Soul/Astral Body. These thoughts are generated in the individual’s Mental Matrix, then projected “outward” (or “inward,” depending on perspective) to the Mental Plane at which point they become observable to the Mind-Observer proper. This allows us a more direct mode of self-reflection as opposed to waiting for ideas about ourselves to generate spontaneously in the Mental Plane.

If this seems like a lot of unnecessary theory, you may safely disregard it in your own meditative pursuits. I, however, have found these ideas to be exceedingly useful in my own efforts as well as the efforts of some others with whom I have shared these ideas privately.

Meditation in Practice

There are two major Orders of Operation for meditation, and which one you use is dependent upon your purpose for meditation at that time. For your initial efforts, until you have mastered the techniques involved, I recommend that you stick entirely with the first or ‘mystical’ method. After that, experiment with the ‘magical’ method and get to know the differences for yourself. The practical differences are slight, but the effectual differences cannot be overstated.

The Mystical Method should be the starting place of all Initiates and Initiates-to-be. It can be found in many systems of training worldwide, from Yoga and Tantra to Franz Bardon’s Hermetics. Here, I’ll be using Franz Bardon’s descriptive titles for the steps in the method, and explaining them in my own words.3

  1. Thought Control is not the literal control of your thoughts. That comes later. It’s more the control of your conscious focus and awareness. Do not attempt to grab one thought and hold to it entirely. That also comes later. Your goal here should be learning how to let go. Simply observe your thoughts as they flow by. Do your best to keep track of them, but don’t fall into the trap of focusing on any of them alone or in groups. Merely let them flow and ‘watch’ them as if on a movie screen. Continue with this step alone until you are able to maintain this state of mind for five minutes consistently. Twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, is best. Then add the next step to your routine. Do not replace one with the other, as they are both still important.
  2. Thought Discipline is the next step, and is what most people generally associate with the term “meditation.” In this step, you must determine yourself to focus on one and only one thought, be it of any type of sense-input soever. Each person will find thoughts associated with certain senses to be easier or harder for them personally. For me, thoughts in the form of internal sound (internal dialog, a song stuck in your head, etc.) are much easier to hold than visual thoughts or olfactory thoughts, for example. For you, it could be very different. In this exercise, training our other internal senses is not the goal, however, so feel free to stick with your strongest in order to accomplish your present purpose. If you choose the sentence, “God is in us all,” repeat the sentence mentally for as long as you can without allowing your mind to wander even to tangentially relevant thoughts. Similarly for if you wish to focus on an image (a cross, a circle, or any other simple image is best) or anything else. Work on this exercise immediately after the first one. Do not move on to the third exercise until you are able to maintain this state of mental focus for at least five minutes.
  3. Mastery of Thought is the third and final exercise in mastering the mystical method of meditation. Immediately following Thought Discipline, relinquish the thought you had been focusing on and allow your mind to remain clear. As I said before, there will always be some level of mental chatter. Simply allow this chatter to dissipate. Do not force it out, because that force will merely create further distractions. You will know well when you have succeeded in this exercise, as it is quite unlike any other mental state that you have experienced. Work on this exercise until you are able to maintain this vacuous state of mind for five minutes consistently.

I must emphasize that when I say to work up to five minutes with each of these exercises, I do not mean to limit yourself to that duration by any means. In fact, Bardon suggests ten minutes as a bare minimum before you can consider the techniques to be mastered, and even then do not neglect them, but continue to increase your ability with them by deepening your state of consciousness and advancing your durations. Before moving on to any more advanced techniques of magic or mysticism, a bare minimum of ten minutes each (30 minutes total) should be a consistent standard. We will always have our highs and lows, so do not be disappointed if you usually are capable of the full 10 minutes with an exercise but have a few days during which you cannot go more than two minutes without losing focus. These things happen; simply carry on with your daily work and you will soon find yourself better for it.

The Mystical Method of meditation as described above is mystical insofar as it is a self-sexual process of conception and birth of our own goals for ourselves on the Inner Planes. The thought control exercise can be considered a sort of generation of our Mental Seed. Thought discipline is the conscious choice of one among the many Seeds we have at our disposal and the implantation of it within our Inner Womb (Deep Mind, unconscious, etc.). Thus, the Seed or thought chosen for this second exercise does not have to be of a profound or spiritually abstract nature, but it should be a thought or symbol with which we would wish to inseminate the egg of our own Future Selves. Thus, statements of our ideals, important ideas from our chosen magical⁄mystical system, statements of personal goals (as long as they are compatible with our spiritual growth and do not run contrary to it) are all suitable. We are not truly enchanting for these things, but simply planting the seed for them. Future magical work involving these goals is liable to come to fruition much more easily as a consequence. Finally, the mastery of thought exercise is much like the gestation of the fertilized egg within our own psyches. We are allowing ourselves to become for a few moments (with the goal of eventually becoming on a more permanent basis) our true Inner Selves and to simply ‘be and become’ within the emptiness of our Inner Womb. The Observer may observe purely and without bias toward any one thought or idea.

The Magical Method is very similar, but not identical. It involves a different Order of Operations, but using the identical exercises described above. It is important that the practitioner master the exercises in the Mystical Method before moving on to the Magical Method. We require a handle on our Inner lives before we can hope to strongly influence the Outer with any safety and effectiveness. Power over yourself is more challenging and more rewarding than power over the outside world, and is ultimately the foundation of any healthy outer lifestyle.

The Order of Operations which follows is that used by Peter J. Carroll in his Liber Null & Psychonaut: An Introduction to Chaos Magic.4

  1. Thought Control is described in Carroll’s book as the physical act of motionlessness, which is accurate insofar as it resembles zazen, or “sitting meditation,” the goal of which is a gradual stilling of the mind by relaxing our eyes and minds on a plain, solid background. This state requires at the very least the ability to stay mostly still and relaxed rather than tensely forcing ourselves to focus.
  2. Mastery of Thought is switched here. We begin from a state of mental vacuity that we may act first as the womb into which we will implant our desire.
  3. Thought Discipline is the final step. In the Magical Method, it acts as the impregnation of our previously empty Inner Womb with our desire.

The basic difference is obvious insofar as two steps are switched, but the functional difference is more subtle. In the Mystical Method, we work toward our essential silence, while in the Magical Method, we invoke our silence in order to more strongly make Inner contact and impregnate our desire into the Inner Planes. This is the secret to all magic, and goes beyond a mere altered state of consciousness if properly understood. An altered state of consciousness can only be an aid to this state. Once meditation proper has been mastered, such methods become redundant (though sometimes still fun).

The simplest magical usage of a meditative state is to spend the third step focusing on an appropriate sigil or mantra.5 This method is generally slow, as your desire must be ‘brought to term’ and born like any other offspring (outspring?). A way of speeding up the process, or at least adding power to it, is to utilize the process of Step 3 to first invoke the aid of an appropriate and friendly god or spirit, drawing the entity into your own emptiness as a means of close communication. Once this entity is fully invoked, or invoked to the depth of your present ability, you may request of it your desire. Do not try to force a god or spirit to do as you say. Ask it if it believes that your desire is wise and, assuming that it is, ask it to bring the desire about for you by adding its own power to yours. If the entity believes your desire to be unwise, ask its aid in reformulating your desire in such a way as to be of actual benefit. This, of course, is only the simplest of magical methods, but one that can become central to your overall practice. It can form the nucleus of larger ceremonies, or stand on its own for more basic wants and needs. It is especially well suited to acts of illumination and behavioral modification, but its power is definitely effective for Outer ends.6

No matter how advanced you get in magic and mysticism, basic meditation as described in this article must not be neglected. It is more difficult for some than for others, but is a worthy use of time and effort for everybody. I have on occasion had people ask me what single practice is most important for a person with limited free time. My answer is always daily meditation. Once daily is good, twice daily is better. Most people can find 60 minutes out of every day to devote to this practice, and those rare few who cannot find such time may surely find 15 or 30! Unfortunately, we are not God with the power to create time when needed, but we do have the power to clear some time from our schedules in order to improve ourselves and open up Inner and Outer opportunities for ourselves and, by sympathy, all of humanity and perhaps all of the Cosmos.

Footnotes

  1. For more on Kabbalah, please see Israel Regardie’s A Garden of Pomegranates, available from several publishers. For more on this Taoist idea, read Tao Te Ching (Skylight Illuminations) by Lao Tzu (Lao-tzu, Lao Tze, etc.) and available in numerous translations and editions.
  2. Available in the First Knowledge Lecture in Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn, Llewellyn Publications.
  3. Franz Bardon’s book Initiation into Hermetics is, in my opinion, the single finest training manual in practical and mystical Hermetics. It is available in a new translation from Murker Publication Company (2001).
  4. Weiser Books. This book is definitely a must-read for anybody who has not already encountered it. No matter what system or tradition you belong to, you will find something useful.
  5. See Liber Null & Psychonaut again for practical information on sigils.
  6. For more on basic magical and mystical practice, please see my own book, The Four Powers: Magical Practice for Beginners of All Ages from Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press.

©2006 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Luciferian Illumination

Luciferian Illumination

I used to term myself a Luciferian on top of the various other titles that could apply to me, such as magician, mystic, Hermetic, Rosicrucian, etc. The history behind my adoption of the title will be told shortly, but first I wish to establish that I no longer consider myself to be a Luciferian. The reasons will also be explained shortly. I have recently gone through what might be called a crisis of faith regarding my Luciferianism and have come to some powerful conclusions, which will be the main subject of this essay.

Years ago, I began to very seriously explore the ideas and practices of chaos magic, at first as a supplement to my more Hermetic and Kabbalistic magical training, but later as a replacement thereof. As part of my experiments, I adopted a somewhat sinister approach to magic and especially enjoyed demonology. I admit that my primary motivation in exploring these particular aspects of the occult were founded in simple lack of maturity. I believe now that I did not even understand the material I was working with; I was very much alone in the dark without a lantern. At the time I did not care. I arrogantly believed that my pseudo-nihilism and disrespect for all things “light” was the right way to go. Everybody who respected the light was deluded, but those of us who not only acknowledged but reveled in the darkness were as enlightened as anybody could truly be.

After several years of messing with chaos magic, I became disillusioned with it. While I still stand by the basic techniques as a great method of training the will, I cannot any longer condone the childish philosophy (or, as chaos magicians like to term it, the “metaparadigm”) behind it which is itself somewhat of a contradictory and weak attempt at transcendental nihilism. I returned, slowly at first, and then all at once, to Hermetics, Kabbalah, alchemy, and related subjects. I did not do so without bringing plenty of philosophical souvenirs back home.

I continued to call myself a Luciferian and maintained a mild fascination for all things sinister, though I now looked through the darkness and toward the Light. The culmination of the process, and what I so far believe to be its crescendo, was quite recent but has its roots almost exactly one year ago as of this writing (November 2006).

Last year I was working on my first book, The Four Powers (Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press, Staffordshire, England). I have always had ambitions of being a writer of one sort or another, though definitely more ambition than talent. To curb my self-doubt and ensure at least moderate success I decided to employ a bit of demonic magic. I planned it out, got everything prepared according to the instructions of King Solomon Grimorium Verum or the True Grimoire and, on October 31st 2005, performed a full diabolical Pact operation in which I made an agreement in writing (on virgin goat skin, no less) with Lucifer himself. The details of the Pact are irrelevant, except to say that I agreed to write a book concerning a Luciferian approach to illumination (that is, mysticism and magical self-improvement) using a particular grimoire as the book’s practical foundation. This book was to serve as my payment for services rendered which, of course, involved getting at least one book successfully published.

In the intervening year, I began to do a lot of serious self-purification. I began an intensive daily ritual routine of performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, the Middle Pillar Exercise, the Circulation of the Body of Light, the canticle of Light from the Golden Dawn Neophyte ceremony, the Adoration to the Lord of the Universe, followed by yet another LBRP — and all this upon waking up. Just prior to sleep, I would perform the Rose Cross Ritual. I followed this routine more or less for several months, at which time I made the grand discovery of Franz Bardon. I still thank my lucky stars, and my friends Taylor Ellwood and Frater Griff for guiding me to Bardon’s work. I have since been quite seriously and intensely involved in the practice of Franz Bardon’s first book, Initiation into Hermetics (available in a new translation from Merkur Publishing).

This entire intensive period of magico-mysticism led me to a great deal of self-discovery. Self-discovery, of course, led me to the realization of many facets of myself which I do not much like. Self-love is important, even vital, but so is a dedication to self-improvement. Quite nearly one year after the Pact was made, I found myself regretting it deeply. It may sound superstitious to some readers, but I found myself in a very serious fear for the health of my spirit and soul. I felt deceived and dirty, as if making that Pact were an irrevocable selling of myself. Lucifer truly became the Devil in my mind, and I felt wretched for having given so much of myself for so very little. Less than a day after I became aware of these feelings within, I destroyed all of my Luciferian paraphernalia and hacked the Pact and all of the attendant sigils and seals into small pieces and kept them in a small bag until Sunday evening when I burnt them in my fireplace and prayed intensely to the archangel Michael. You see, not only was Michael the one said to have defeated the Devil at the time of his Fall, but I had also a long time ago read a Kabbalistic legend (I cannot remember where or I would cite it) stating that at the Creation of Adam, Michael had knelt before the Throne of God in Heaven and pledged himself to stand by even the worst mortal as long as he or she had even the tiniest spark of goodness left. That Pact had become more than a rash and greedy act, more than a symbol — it had become the very physical embodiment of all of my iniquities, mistakes, and flaws. I asked Michael to be with me, to stand at my right hand, and to fight back the shades and demons long enough for me to clarify and fortify myself. I cannot cite a more successful operation than this, for Michael was with me for the time I needed him. For his faith in me I can never thank him enough. Even with Michael by my side, I was nonetheless terrified. I had read many times and in many places that there was no worse companion than a cheated demon. How could I expect to break a Pact with the great Emperor Lucifer without being severely punished for such a transgression against his devilish and unfathomable will?

Ever since I first began to study Hermetics and Rosicrucianism, I had an intuition that there were important and deep mysteries in Christianity. I still maintain that the mainstream sects and branches of religion which go by the title of Christian do not, in their vast majority, approach the real meaning behind the teachings which they claim as their own. Especially exemplified in that seemingly out of place and obviously esoteric book of Ezekiel and the book so arrogantly discounted (or fanatically taken literally) called the Revelation or Apocalypse, there are mysteries in the Bible which common Christians and Jews do not even begin to suspect. I am not a biblical scholar, however, and could not even begin to put together a lucid or knowledgeable argument concerning the meanings of the recondite symbols and signs given in those books. My lack of biblical lore will not stop me from composing a little apocalypse of my own.

Bits and pieces of information, legends and myths, theories and the wildest of hypotheses have continually come my way since that night when I burned the Pact, that night which I am sure I will always remember as a turning point in my magical career. Study, chance findings, and personal intuition have each done their part. Whether I have made this all up out of random scattered pieces or if it is truly a relevant magical allegory I do not know, but I present it nonetheless for it constitutes the closest thing I have to a conclusion of the present story.

I used to maintain that Lucifer and Christ were the same person, a being of spiritual effulgence who incarnated in order to bring to us an enlightened doctrine compatible with all the greatest of mystical systems. I believed that this being was like the Light shining in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not, but that it was only in enveloping ourselves in darkness that we could come to appreciate it. Now I see things quite differently.

Lucifer and Christ are as brothers, dual and opposite but both quite necessary. Christ is like the gentle North Star, guiding us through long nights toward our inevitable destination. Lucifer is like the blazing comet, seeming to shoot into our view from nowhere, burning brightly as it points us toward a momentary but important waypoint, then disappearing back into the ether. Christ is the faithful Son who does the bidding of His Divine Parents without question, not out of fear but out of good will toward His Parents and to we little children. He is in a sense the universal and ideal Older Brother, protective and gently guiding but willing at times to teach a harsh lesson or two. Lucifer has disobeyed just as our mythical ancestors but in a more dramatic way. Lucifer is the older brother even of Christ, created first amongst the angels. Lucifer’s rebellion was one not of hatred but of love, for without allowing Himself to Fall, free will would not have been available for the rest of creation. Lucifer will maintain His loving rebellion until such time as free will has become a universal constant uniting all consciousness in one pervasive liberty. He has sacrificed His own place in Heaven to grant each one of us the ability to make our own, while Christ has given up His to open the way before us.

There is a Hell, just as sure as there is an Earth, and if you were to find yourself there I assure you that there would be no escape from the eternity of torment awaiting you there. The Gates of Hell will not open until that final Revelation when the enlightened shall be gathered in joy and the ignorant shall be gathered in trembling fear. When the trumpets of the angels call forth the return of Christ, so too shall Lucifer appear and they together will throw open the Gates of Hell, nothing but severity showing upon their faces. Yet their eyes sparkle with a light which will be read at first by many as sadism, for how can the eyes of divine beings sparkle and shine at the prospect of eternal torment? Soon all will be made clear, however, and the twinkle in their Holy Eyes will be shared as one joke amongst us, for as the Gates swing open there will be no torrent of sulfurous fire nor waves of rotting flesh washing over us in hopes of consuming our own living tissue. Instead we will see behind those wide open gates… a gaping emptiness, a void awaiting its fill but receiving none, for Hell was, is, and ever shall be empty. Each one of us, in the fullness of time, shall find our salvation each in our own way, and we shall all be assumed into the Kingdom of Heaven. Hellfire awaits no man, woman, or child no matter how sinful they may have been or may be still, for all are given the limitless and eternal Grace of God by default, by the very fact of our existence! Hell is not there as a warning or punishment for mortal souls but as a grand reminder before the eyes of the Gods and Angels that if Hell were to find itself occupied by even one lone mortal it would be Their immense failure. As sure as effects have causes, and causes produce effects (though not always in the expected order), we are each responsible for our own mistakes. The Gods and Angels set over us, and those Ascended Masters who have come before us, are in charge of our guidance and redemption. While we must seek to right our own wrongs and prevent our own mistakes, it is the duty of the Gods and Angels to make certain that we are given every opportunity to do so. Let there be no mistake that God’s Justice is severe, but so too is Its Mercy infinite.

And so, having set out to abandon a Pact, I have ended up fulfilling it in spirit, if not in letter. Every current which we set up must run its course, and as magicians we must understand this principle intensely and intimately. Every opportunity is given us for our personal development and evolution. It is up to us merely to make the most of them.

©2006 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

Avete #1 – Welcome

December 21, 2006 by  
Filed under avete, columns

Avete #1 - Welcome

This section will usually be reserved for my pointless ramblings and insane rants. For now, however, I’d like to welcome you, one and all!

This project of ours would be close to pointless without the writers submitting their work and the readers submitting their eyes and minds. Thank you all for being here, even if your stay is short, and I hope that you can find something here to give you some new ideas or insight into old ones.

The purpose of this site is to act as a free periodical for the magical community. It has been my experience that there is very little any more for magicians who are not specifically Neo-Pagan, or who are Pagan but practice forms of magic or mysticism which are not particular to their branch of Neo-Paganism. I am a Neo-Pagan, so do not take this as being a dig on Neo-Paganism! Instead, we are trying to fill in a long-standing hole. Neo-Pagans have magazines such as NewWitch, PanGaia, and Pentacle, and e-zines like WitchVox. Even chaos magicians have plenty of periodicals devoted to their practice. Alchemists, ceremonial magicians, Kabbalists, Hermeticists, Neo-Shamans, and so on collectively have very little in the way of periodicals or even reliable websites on their chosen fields of study and practice. This is a situation that we hope to help, as both of us co-founders (myself and Sheta Kaey) are Kabbalists and ceremonial magicians, and I am a Hermeticist with a growing interest in alchemy! As you can see, we’re in this for ourselves as well.

It ought to be noted at the outset that Sheta and I do not draw sharp lines of delineation between “magic” and “mysticism.” To us, these things are inextricably linked and, as such luminaries as Franz Bardon and William G. Gray have pointed out, the true Initiate does not disregard either one in favor of the other. The power of magic cannot manifest without the stillness of mysticism, and the stillness of mysticism can hardly come to fruition without the power of magic to bring it into the Kingdom of Manifestation. Thus, when we say “magic,” we are usually referring to both at once, or some combination of the two. This is why you will find articles here on subjects as diverse as the nature of consciousness, ritual magic, sorcery, meditation, Tantra, and psychology. A good magical practitioner seeks to find the unity of her whole system.

I hope that you enjoy our efforts, and the garden of delights planted for us by the many artists and authors who have volunteered to contribute. Please tell us what we can do to improve this e-zine of ours and what sort of content you would like to see. Also, if you don’t see content that you think should be here, don’t feel shy about submitting some work yourself! It has become a motto of mine that we’re all in this together, and it could not be more true than about learning and growing in the Great Work of Magic.

©2006 Nicholas Graham. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Nicholas Graham is the author of The Four Powers. You can read his blog here.

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