Archive for July, 2011

More (mostly) Agreement

Posted in Techniques on July 29, 2011 by Patrick

Donald Michael Kraig has another excellent post on breathwork.  I’ve always admired his ability to make the basics crystal clear, so even someone who’s not a beginner can look at it and say “Huh, that’s an easier way to think about it.”

Obviously, I’d quibble with the talk of “magical energy” at the end, but you know me.  Quibble quibble quibble.  At least this is an actual, traditional (as far as I know) conceptualization of prana.  So really I’d quibble about translating prana as “magical energy.”  And that’s so quibbly it’s barely any quibble at all.  Can you tell I just like saying the word “quibble”?


Not Your Grandfather’s Almadel

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2011 by Patrick

If you’re not familiar with an Almadel, it’s a portable table, usually made of wax, for evoking spirits and angels.  I’ve always liked it better than the rather clumsy triangle of the Lesser Key, and I made one about six or seven years ago.  I never used it, ’cause it was ugly and did not inspire me to talk to spirits.  I’ve been planning building a nice one, something that Solomon couldn’t have imagined, out of more durable stuff.

This is my new Almadel.  You’ll note that it lacks names or sigils, although if you look close you’ll see the suggestion of a triangle of manifestation in the circular grate.  The lid opens to give access to a compartment beneath the circular grate, and a removable metal tray rests inside.  Incense in the tray beneath the grate fumigates the stand and black marble shewstone.  Beneath the shewstone is a small reservoir for herbs, stones, and the spirit’s sigil.  The four charm-sized candles in the corners can be changed out, of course, to an appropriate color.  A bottom drawer is lined with embossed felt for storage of supplies.

The stand and shewstone can be taken off, so if you prefer to work without a scrying surface (you?  You?  Me, I mean, because it’s mine, all mine), ahem, one can.

I built it with a little — actually, a lot — of help and a couple months of combing thrift stores and antique shops.

Pretty cool, eh?  Eh, Josh?  Bet you wish you had one.

I Agree Completely

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2011 by Patrick

Donald Michael Kraig posts a blog about what it takes to practice magic.  The best part of the article is this bit:

If you’re ready to dedicate your life to the path of magick, I want you to be around for a long time. With a long and healthy life you can learn and do everything. So step one is this: brush your teeth. More accurately, take care of your teeth. Brush and floss every day. See a dentist twice a year. You see, the same bacteria that causes gum disease is also implicated in heart disease. Gum disease also seems to be linked with diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, respiratory diseases and difficulties with pregnancy. The study and practice of magick takes time, and frankly, if you’re not willing to spend a bit of time on your own health in a way that can extend your life, I don’t want to spend my time teaching you.

Exactly.  He also mentions the importance of eating right and getting some exercise.  I’ll elaborate on his excellent advice, if I can:  Most people can dramatically improve their nutrition if they just look at labels for three simple things: first, are they eating the right number of calories per day for their sex and activity level?  For most of us, that’s about 2000, give or take a few.  Second, are they eating 100% or less of the RDA of fat?  Third, are they getting 30-38 grams of fiber per day?  In my experience, and keeping in mind I’m no nutritionist, but the rest takes care of itself as long as you eat a mixed and balanced diet and as long as your doctor doesn’t tell you otherwise.  Third, walking for twenty minutes at a reasonably brisk pace (depending on your fitness level; I can walk three miles in 40 minutes) every day or nearly every day is a perfectly good cardiovascular exercise.  You do not need to invest in anything but good footwear, which you should buy anyway.

I’d add to his excellent advice, get your financial life in order.  If you are making more money than you are spending, you are okay: but even then, do a thumbnail budget and figure out where the money comes from and where it goes.  This can be easily done.  Every month I look at my statement.  If I brought in more than I spent, I move the excess into either the “fun” stack or the “savings” stack.  If I brought in less than I spent, I looked for why: if it was a one-time purchase, like an appliance, that’s fine.  Pay off your debts early, and rarely or never buy anything on credit if you can help it.  Use credit cards for emergencies and pay them off completely at the end of the month.  Understand compound interest; it is simple, but potentially deadly.  Set up an automatic transfer of money, even if it’s a very small amount, into your savings account directly from your paycheck.

Bah, who wants to do this stuff?  I wanna talk to gods and angels!  Fine.  You know the first thing they’ll tell you?  “Eat more fiber and pay off your credit card.”  Seriously.  If you don’t believe me, look at the blogs of serious magicians like Robert, whom I do not doubt it speaking to his HGA.  Why?  Because his HGA tells him his wardrobe is inadequate to his goals and he needs to buy more clothes.

As my HGA has told me on several occasions when I complain about boring day-to-day things:  “The adept must reconcile himself to matter.”  If you cannot plant your feet solidly in the world of matter, you cannot lift your head into the world of spirit.

Which reminds me: it’s time to set up a dental appointment for a cleaning.

Tarot Decks

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2011 by Patrick

I am in a tarot buying frenzy.  First, I found an edition of Marteau’s classic book on the Marseilles deck in Spanish.  As far as I know, it’s never been translated into English, but I don’t read French well enough to get through a whole book.  But Spanish . . . that’s another story.  I’ve already read several books on cartomancy in Spanish, so I think I’m up for the challenge.  Then I found a nice price on the Visconti deck, which I’ve wanted for some time.  The other day I bought the 1JJ Swiss deck.  And now I really want a more authentic version of a Marseilles deck.

The thing is, these things will likely pile up in my tarot drawer.  As did several other decks already.  I already have decided I do not like the 1JJ Swiss deck as much as I had hoped to.  And I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the Visconti deck yet: what I’ve seen of some of the major arcana I do not like, but other things I do (I don’t like this version of the Fool.  I don’t like a man rather than a woman taming the lion in Force.  But I like the idea of the Moon being replaced by Diana.  And I have a strong, strong preference for unillustrated pips).

My Amazon cart now has a Marseilles deck, but I’m holding off on buying it until the Visconti comes, or it will be an embarrassment of riches.  I really look forward to the Visconti, but how will a read a deck where the Fool has no dog chasing after him?  We will see.

Now That’s Some Good Witchin’

Posted in Techniques on July 2, 2011 by Patrick


A couple in the UK suffering from infertility consulted a doctor who diagnosed her with polycystic ovaries (ouch) and him with a low sperm count.  They were told that the odds of them successfully having a child was one in a billion.  They consulted a witch to solve their problem.

Ladysnake chanted, cleansed their energies and then performed fertility spells before giving the pair a lunar sex schedule.

Ladysnake continued to cast fertility spells for them in their absence with her gathering of witches.

They now have two children.

Now, three things impress me here:

  1. The multi-strategy approach: cleansing first, then spells, then a lunar calendar (which is, of course, exactly what a doctor would give them: i.e., have sex when you’re ovulating once a month).
  2. The staggering odds of this working.  It’s easy to dismiss something simple, but something one in a billion — that’s lottery-level stuff.
  3. The name Ladysnake.  So much better than the usual Bird + Metal + Herb strategy of creating Wiccan names.

That’s some good witchin’!

New Blog — Second Person

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2011 by Patrick

I’ve created a new blog, where I can talk about my poetry and try to shill you more vigorously toward buying my book of poetry, Second Person.  Preorders, just to remind you, are now open at Finishing Line Press, and if you go there and scroll down to about a third of the way down, on the left side, and click on the preorder button you will ensure that the book goes to print, receive a nice and inexpensive book of pretty good poetry if I do say so myself, and make me a happy, happy man.  Time is of the essence!

How to Not Go Crazy

Posted in Techniques on July 1, 2011 by Patrick

So if clairvoyance is just “faking it,” what’s to say we’re not just making stuff up? The easy answer to that is, we are. That doesn’t make it less useful.

But I’m not sure the easy answer is true. We don’t always make up the stuff we see in visions; sometimes, it just comes to us. Of course, that’s also true of a schizophrenic, so we need to be careful. How do you test a vision to make sure you’re not just “making it up”? There are two ways to go about it: during the vision, and after.

Intellectualizing and doubting a vision while you’re having it is a good way to stop having it, even if it is a “true” (let’s just stipulate that some visions are true) vision. So how do we test a vision to make sure? There are several ways offered by the traditional magicians of the Golden Dawn, but many of them are of limited actual utility. I recall reading one that requires the projection of various Hebrew letters over the vision to see if it survives the experience. I had Hebrew at 8:20 AM; some days, I barely survived the experience, and I was corporeal. It’s easier simply to confront a vision with the symbol of the vision you were trying to evoke. For example, if I’m calling the spirit Och, and I’m not sure I really have the spirit Och, I just imagine his sigil and “throw” it toward him. If he fades away, flickers, looks different, and so on, he’s clearly not Och. He might be self-deception, or a deceptive spirit, but he’s not Och.

Another way to test a vision is after the fact. I do a simple skeptical analysis as I record it in my journal, asking myself some simple Socratic questions. The correct answers, for a real vision, are in parentheses:
1. Does this vision tell me something I didn’t already know? (yes)
2. Does it tell me something I want to hear? (no)
3. Does it tell me something I dread to hear? (no)
4. Does it sound like my own self-talk (for me, sarcastic, flippant, a bit elitist)? (no)
5. Was it mostly in words or in images? (audial is my favored thinking mode; if it’s visual, it’s probably not me)
6. Does it tell me one of the following things that are never true? (no)

A.  You are the savior, most important person in the world, yadda yadda.

B.  You are vile and horrible, nasty nasty thing you.

C.  Everyone/Someone is out to get you.

D.  That movie you just saw is actually true.

E.  You’re not really human.

7.  Does it say or do anything inconsistent with its symbolic nature, such as a supposedly Martial spirit being all loveydovey?  (no)

Obviously, it’s important to remember that sometimes visions do tell us something we dread to hear, sometimes particular spirits prefer to communicate in words rather than images, or vice versa, and sometimes visions do offer us good news.

The ultimate test is this: Does this vision, in any substantial way, small or large, improve my life?  If the answer is no, it is not a true vision.  If the answer is “yes, it proves that I am the Chosen One!” you need to seek therapy.  Because you’re not.

I am.