The Magical Motto

Posted in Magical Systems on August 16, 2014 by P. Dunn

I’ve had three magical mottos since I started studying magic.  My first (a motto focused on aspiration, hope, and frankly embarrassing pretension) I had until I achieved Knowledge and Conversation of my HGA, at which point I changed it in order to focus on the issues that my HGA pointed out to me (duality, prejudice, self-loathing).  I had that until grad school, when I started work on making my foundation secure.  In some systems, this would be the work of the adeptus major and adeptus exemptus, but I don’t really belong to those systems.  I changed it to focus on issues of power and fate and determination, self- and other-.  I’ve had it ever since, although it long since stopped really representing me.  So now I’m taking on a new motto, representing my determination to control the thing that most holds me back in my spiritual and mundane work:  I am now Frater Timor Canicula Mea Est.  At least, for the time being.

Most magicians who ascribe to the magical motto as a useful method tend to change theirs at significant moments of their magical practice.  Why is that?  It’s because it is a useful method: the motto is one of the more powerful tools of the magician, because, used well, it’s a kind of magical oath.  Like all magical oaths it inevitably comes to fruition.  To pick a motto that aspires to a particular thing guarantees that thing manifests — for better or worse — in some way.  Whether it’s for the better or the worse depends entirely on the magician’s use of his or her own will.

The secret of the magical motto is that it represents the magician’s weakness, not strength.  When Crowley went by Perdurabo, he wasn’t bragging that he “will last through.”  He was pointing out that he had a tendency to give up, buckle under, be weak and doubt his own success.  Saying Perdurabo was his way of saying “Yeah, I give up, fail, give in, fall down — but I won’t.  I refuse to be that anymore.  It’s time to be something else, something that endures.”  I’m not intending to talk for Crowley; he did that plenty well himself.  But it’s obvious to anyone who has had a magical motto that this is what he meant by taking on that name.

The magical motto represents a goal, not an attribute the magician already possesses.  That’s its power.

Want to Help Me Write a Book?

Posted in Magical Systems, Techniques, Writing on April 18, 2014 by P. Dunn

I’m toying with ideas for my next book.  I’d like to do some research among those who practice magic.  Would you be interested in being interviewed for this possible book?  This may involve sharing some of your magical successes and failures, and perhaps trying a few techniques and reporting back.  There may be several follow-up interviews, as well.  If the book is published and I use your experiences, you will receive credit (either to your name or a pseudonym) and your experiences will be cited in the text.  I’ll also send you a free copy of the book when it comes out (but don’t hold your breath: it takes at least a year to write a book, and another year for it to come out).  I can’t guarantee that I’ll use everyone’s experiences.  But if nothing else, we may be able to share some ideas and techniques, even if they don’t end up as a book.

Feel free to join in whether you’re very advanced in magic or a brand-new beginner.  The book I’m envisioning is an advanced book, but I want beginners to be able to benefit from it.

If interested, email me at pee double-yew dunn at gmail dot com (address obscured in order to confound spambots.  Not that that’ll work.  Essentially, it’s my first and middle initial followed by my last name).  And be patient with me; it’s a busy time of the year for me.

Balance

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2014 by P. Dunn

I would love to live in a fantasy world, I admit it.  If I could put on a robe, carry a staff, have peasants tremble at my terrible power, and so on — that’d be pretty nifty.  And that’s why there are such things as video games and novels and roleplaying games, all fun things.  But they’re not real.

In reality, I live a double life.  On the one hand, I am a mild-mannered (or not so mild, actually, in terms of manner, some days) professional.  I deal with the public, champion critical thinking and skepticism, and regard myself as a scholar.  I get up, go to work, pay my mortgage, clean the house, mow the lawn, cook dinner, eat it in front of the computer while watching old episodes of Frasier.  You know: an ordinary life.

On the other hand, I’m an occultist.  I pray to gods, practice theurgic rituals, try to probe into the meaning and use of occult forces, cast geomantic charts, summon spirits, make talismans, meditate (never enough).

It’s sometimes hard for me to maintain a balance.  I often find myself veering toward tweed rather than robes, because it’s certainly easier to live a mundane life.  But that way lies the slough of despond.  If I ignore magic, I start to feel thin and dry in my mind, like I’m letting the bigger part of me atrophy.

At the same time, I see people who retreat so far into magic that they fail to live a successful mundane life.  I’ll just say it, man: if you’re horridly in debt, unhappy, and your idea of a relationship involves someone to jeer and scream at, you’re not doing well.  Magic should make those things better, not be an excuse for them.  Sure, it’s not a panacea, and sometimes bad things happen to the best magicians.  And not every magician has everything they want automatically, because sometimes magic doesn’t work (often for very good reasons, but that’s another post).  But I’ve known more than a few people who claim great magical power but couldn’t balance a checkbook.

I don’t want to be such a person.  More importantly, I don’t want to seem to be such a person.  So it’s hard for me to balance these two important and valuable lives.

What helps me is to look at my friends who are not magicians, but have a rich spiritual life.  They seem to have found that balance, partially because their religions are sanctioned by the dominant culture, but really that’s just an excuse.  In fact, they find that balance because there isn’t, for them, a difference between these two lives.  The mundane life is a part of the larger, spiritual life.  It’s not a choice between two lives, but having one part of your life be a subset of the greater whole.  So that’s the balance I suppose I’m striving for.

Donald Michael Kraig

Posted in heroes on March 19, 2014 by P. Dunn

Donald Michael Kraig died yesterday.

His book, Modern Magick, was an inspiration to me from a very young age.  I first read it when I was about fifteen, I think, and I worked my way through it lesson by lesson, one month per (but I cheated!  I used lunar months!  They’re shorter!) chapter.  I made all the tools.  I memorized all the rituals.  All of them.  When I got to college and was introduced to Hegel, my first thought was “Oh, DMK talked about him.”  In a very real way, he was my inspiration in magic.  He showed me that magic could be real, rational, a way of life more than a style choice.  He taught me how it was a system that aligned with cosmology, ethics, philosophy, art, and the list goes on.  Magic, he taught me, isn’t something you do.  It’s something you are.

It’s our job now to remember the meaning that his life had, and a life has meaning in relationships with others.  His work had a tremendous influence on many, many magicians, and as the meaning of a life goes, that’s a pretty good one.  Another thing we can do, of course, is help pay the bills of his medical care and funeral costs.  You can do that here.

Contest — Winner

Posted in Cartomancy, Contest, Lenormand, Techniques on February 15, 2014 by P. Dunn

It was very hard to select a winner, because these techniques were all so useful and interesting.  I selected this one as the most original, interesting, and versatile.  If you try it, you see it straddles divination and meditation.  It also requires nothing more than a deck of cards, tarot or Lenormand, and it works equally well with both.

It was submitted by Maighdlin, who should contact me to arrange the delivery of her prizes.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  I found this a very valuable experience — even if I was slow getting off my butt as usual — and I think I’ll be doing something like this again soon.

I don’t know if anyone else has come up with this before. This is something I created on the spot one day and have been using it as an exercise for about 6 months. Basically I shuffle my tarot deck and deal them out face down into three piles. While shuffling I don’t focus on anything in particular. I just clear my mind. This technique is closer to using flash cards than it is for getting an answer to a specific question, but is does provide a tremendous amount of insight into whatever happens to be significant at the time.
Basically I flip over one card from each pile and interpret the three-card spread. This usually is whatever comes to mind first. It could be something very mundane or something very profound. When I’m done I move the cards aside and repeat. I usually do this until I go through the whole deck.
I use this as an exercise to trust my intuition with the cards. What each card means to me and how they relate with other cards in spreads. Sometimes I note which sets provoke a notable emotional response (or stump me) and meditate on them further.
Sometimes I consider reverse cards, but not always. That’s how I am with any other reading I do. Sometimes I consider the reverse meaning as being a more internal influence vs external, something that is present, but not utilized or acknowledged, etc. It depends on the card(s) really. Other times if the card is reversed I just flip it right side up and read as usual. I don’t know if this is the proper way to go about it. I’m basing this off of my 7 years of experience with my deck, but very little research on the tarot in general. I use the Thoth deck by the way.

Contest — Runner-Up

Posted in Contest, Techniques on February 11, 2014 by P. Dunn

I like this technique a lot, because it uses the defixio itself as a kind of spirit, which is I think quite in keeping with the original way these things were intended.

I’m marking this one as a runner-up, and while I didn’t originally say so I’m going to offer the author of this technique, Travis, a choice of one of my books as well.  Travis, please contact me by email to arrange the delivery of the inscribed book of your choice.

Origami Defixio: Spirit Platform meets Defixio.

One technique of spell work Iv begun to appreciate is the concept of Defixiones as mentioned in Magic Power Language Symbol. The idea is very straightforward and easy to enhance with additional sigils or words written alongside the primary magical purpose.  Personally, I dislike sigils as I have difficulty creating them, and feel inauthentic using premade sigils. Instead, I write or copy a poem I admire and write that on the defixio as an offering to the spiritual identity I write the defixio to. If the practitioner is more comfortable with just “energy” instead of “spirits”, the poem will act as a resonator for its particular energy and the defixio will already carry a familiar quality with the energy the practitioner hopes to bring about.  Another way Iv enhanced my defixiones is by folding the paper into an origami shape. Depending on the tone of the petition or request and to whom I am releasing the defixio to, I can choose different origami forms to fold my defixio into. If I wanted to request the presence of love in my life, I could fold my defixio into a dove, if I desired money, I could fold it into a frog or rabbit (if I can find a pattern online that is). While folding the defixio, I envision the animal as the messenger, and on its wings or in its mouth, the completed defixio will carry my message for me to whatever source I petition. In this way, a small spiritual platform (a golem for others I suppose)  is created out of the defixio. Below is an abbreviated example of a defixio I made after my fathers death.

 

Defixio for Mourning and Healing

Step One: My father was a practical man so I used practical notebook paper. The sheets are thin and there for easy to fold crisply. At the top of the page, I wrote my fathers name with his birth date and the date of his death. Also, I wrote “Dad” since this was the name I most strongly knew him as.

Step Two: After reading through different poems, I selected Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art”. The poem resonated with my feelings of grief but also spoke to the necessity of coping and dealing with the experience of loss. I put the poem beneath my father’s name.

Step Three: I decided to fold the paper into the shape of a fox for two reasons. Aside from being practical, my father was anything but typical. The idea of folding a dove or crane seemed too boring to the memory of my father. For personal reasons, the idea of a fox seemed to function better. Secondly, foxes are common figures in mythology as creatures that can step between spiritual and physical realms. Thus I decided on the fox.

Step Four: With the defixio folded, I meditated holding the fox in my lap. I dwelled upon my grief and told the fox my pains. I read aloud the poem that was now inside the fox and asked the fox to take my grief with him (Because it seemed right that the fox was indeed a “him”).

Step 5: With the defixio now full of my energy, I went walking looking for a good place to release my fox into the wild. When I found the right place, I simply said a small prayer asking that my message be received and that my little fox go where it needs to go unhindered. I thanked my deity for this expression and released my grief with the fox.

The ritual above can be easily altered for any purpose. If the esteem of your defixio is for protection, use a pattern for an origami bear or whatever other animal you find agreeable that resonates with the concept you are cultivating for your defixio. Poems and origami patterns are readily available through simple google searches.

Finalist — “State of Grace”

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2014 by P. Dunn

This is a technique from a friend of mine, Chris, whose column at Rending the Veil is definitely worth the read.  I like it because it is simple but very effective.  It’s also extremely effective and useful in a wide variety of situations.

This is a variation on your physical/magical journey technique in your first or second book.
I learned to do this with the chakra system, but it would probably work just as well with any body-mapping system.
The technique involves holding your attention in one specific area for extended periods of time. A personal favorite of mine is either the crown, or the spot at the top of the aura (called the 8th in my work–one of the transpersonal chakras, in any case). With a little bit of practice, one can sense a kind of movement from the spirit, which can then be followed with the body.
It effectively allows one to act in a “state of grace” (Christian terminology) without actually being a saint.
Requirements:
1) being able to hold your awareness in one place for extended periods of time.
2) being able to hold your awareness outside of your physical body (so, at least a limited form of “astral” projection.
3) the ability to take direction from the spirit while simultaneously being aware of the world around you (there’s a chance that your spirit could direct you in questionable/dangerous directions — better safe than sorry)
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