Sunday, February 24, 2008

Generic system of magic--part one

One of the recent trends in the ceremonial magic is the removal of all specific names (God names, Angels, etc.), so that the tradition is opened up to a wider audience. Two examples of this on the internet are Magical Order of Golden Dawn and the newest material to come out of the Thelemic Golden Dawn.

While I agree that we need to attract more people (especially struggling lodges with low membership numbers like the one that I belong to), I am not sure if producing generic “Oh, put any god name you feel like here” systems are the way to go. For one thing, most people who start out have not a clue what god name fits where in the system; if they did know, they would not be looking for a system to learn.

And those who are comfortable with the “Fill in the blank” style in my experience do not need any encouragement--they will soon be messing up people and doing their best to be a petty god without any encouragement from the rest of us. This type of person is knee-deep on the internet.

Furthermore, this type of work results in those who are engaged in it being in danger of being permanently isolated from other workers of the mysteries.

Last year, I did my first Open Full Moon. It was mainly improv, with just a few sentences printed out for those who ended up calling the quarters. The person who did the Fire and Water purification did it from memory; the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram was done from memory. And the lecture was a variation of one that I have given before.

Basically, it was done on the wing. And the reason it could be done that way was that we had some standardization. We didn’t have to debate what god names were used. (Ok, I did explain that I probably used a different set of fine-tuning names for “the lords of the watchtowers.”)

I have been present at gatherings where everyone was operating from a “fill in the blank” perspective. No work was actually accomplished. Why? Because the group spent longer arguing about what names to use than anything else.

One of the reasons that Golden Dawn became one of the most influential systems is that students of Golden Dawn did not have to spend hours discussing what names to use when they get together to work--they can just get down to doing the rituals.

This “fill in the blank” style may serve a purpose, but it might end up creating an even weaker community than we had before.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Doomsday Cults

One of the things I roll my eyes at are those people who are worried about the end of the world--the soothsayers of doomsday. The current doom is the end of the Mayan cycle, which ends on 2012. The soothsayers, and their believers, say that the world is going to come to a sudden end in a couple of years.

This particular theory is tied to the shifting of the magnetic poles. The shifting of the poles is a real thing, but it is hardly doomsday. The geological history of the Earth indicates that it has happened before and will happen again. The shifting of the poles, reversing the magnetic field around the Earth, is a minor inconvience, but we do want it to happen.

The mathematic models show that the shifting of the poles will bring the magnetic field of the Earth back up to full strength. This is a desirable thing. Without an eventual shift in the poles, based on the mathematical models, the magnetic field will weaken and disappear completely. That would be bad--rent the movie "The Core" if you want to see how bad it would be.

Personally, I would be more worried about a global economic crisis than I would be about the magnetic shift, but each to their own.

Doomsday are always with us; Revelations is happening everyday. Each of us has our own personal doomsday happening in our lives if we just look hard enough. For me, my doom is typically the next test or term paper that I have to cope with. For me, doomsday is up close and personal.

For many, it is not. And there are groups and fads that cater to them.

Yes, doomsday is catered. I would avoid the deviled eggs. I don't think that the ham is kosher. And who invented the Freemasons to our doomsday. But I disgress.

Yes, there are groups whose purpose is to prepare its members for doomsday. And there is always a new doomsday if it turns out that the previous doomsday was a false alarm.

I have belonged to several border-line doomsday cults. The first coven I belonged to was big on being prepared for a nuclear doomsday. A box of MREs (meals ready to eat--sure to survive a nuclear disaster because no one wants to eat them) and a lot of water was highly suggested, along with knowing where all the fall-out shelters were. Ironically, being prepared for a nuclear disaster ensures that you are prepared for other acts of god.

And when I was in the EOEW, there was the one meeting that drifted into getting ready for Y2K. Do you remember Y2K--the year that the world was supposed to end as all the world's computers crashed. If you want to know what I think of your average doomsday prediction ask me how I coped with Y2K.

Yes, I had some canned food, a small camp stove, and some bottled water. Toni would not allow me to buy a crossbow; in fact, she (like so many others) was appalled to learn that I believe that defending myself with deadly force is a real option in an emergency. Question my ethics all you want; at least I know my stance on how important my life is in comparsion to other random looters. Do you know how much value you place on your skin?

Toni got interested in Y2k late. In my opinion, too late. For her, it was a last minute thing.

I have been interested in doomsday since I was a teenager. Blame it on too much science fiction. In my opinion, you should be prepared to be thrust into the Hall of Judgment at any time. Doomsday will not be announced ahead of time; either will your last trumpet. If you are really concerned about doomsday, live every minute like its your last.

So it was with some amusement that I watched her learn about Y2K. I wasn't worried about Y2k. I had my nuclear stockpile; all I needed to get was a crossbow. It was only due to a lack of money that she didn't help drive up the price of bottled water.

But Toni is also an airhead. One I know who she was listening to (a good fortune teller on a personal level, can't hit the broadside of a barn on the global level); and two, she made some last minute changes in my perfectly good plan. She decided that we were going to stay at her place, not mine. That made my preparations useless. And she still won't let me invest in a crossbow.

For the record, I was not concerned with Y2K. The closer we got to the actual day, the less concerned I became. Why? I know something about programming computers. If Y2K was going to be a problem, we would have seen indications of it long before New Year's Day. I was not worried about the power plants shutting down, or planes falling out of the sky. I, much like my bosses, knew that the real problems of Y2K if any would be monetary.

How did my bosses plan on dealing with Y2K? Simple, they handed me a pencil and a pad of paper. It was a very business approach to doomsday. If doomsday happens, we will cater it.

To email Bast Temple

Someone left a comment on one of the previous entries, but I have no way to get ahold of them in return. This got me thinking that maybe I should post a way for someone to get ahold of me though an actual email address, rather than just though the Bast Temple website. So here is an actual email address for me: Morgan Drake Eckstein.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Another Enochian Chess Book Review

So I finally finished reviewing all the Enochian Chess books in my library. I saved my favorite one for last; it is just too bad that it is out of print.

Book Review: Enochian Chess of the Golden Dawn (Chris Zalewski)

I own a couple of other books that mention Enochain Chess; these I ignored, they did not suit the purpose of what I was up to.

I also did not review Regardie's publication of the Golden Dawn doucuments; I figure that everyone in Golden Dawn has one or both of these publications already.

I must admit that I am not surprised that there is so little published about Enochian Chess. Trying to convince a publisher to print a general Golden Dawn book is hard enough (students of Golden Dawn being a really small market); the number of people who play Enochian Chess probably only number in the hundreds, if that many.

If I missed any generally available Enochian Chess books, let me know. I know that there were a couple of small booklets and facsimiles that have also been published; but considering their small print runs, most students will never see a copy of them. I also presume that the Orders have their own lessons drawing off of this material, though it is debatable that there is anything new in them.

Ultimately, I would love to know where Westcott intended to go with the material. I presume that he had more stuff planned for this particular subsystem of Golden Dawn. As it stands now, I have only seen a few groups edge up to frontiers of this subject.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fallen Angel Lore

Last night, I was studying the reading from the literature class that I am taking this semester--John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Ok, maybe I was goofing off. I was looking up the fallen angels names in Gustav Davidson's A Dictionary of Angels, and in David Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia. I mention this because Toni (my wife) pointed out that it did not look like I was actually studying.

I don't remember Professor Di Pablo mentioning any particular way that he wanted us to study it, other than he wanted us to have fresh in our minds Book I and II for the next class. And I was curious about these names since my first reading of the text. Being a member of Golden Dawn influences how I study and what I focus on; if it didn't affect us and our outlooks, we probably won't be members.

Toni told me that she didn't care what I was doing, as long as I didn't call any of them. (At this point in time, those people who have made their way though the same ZAM courses as I have will roll their eyes.) I told her I wouldn't. I failed to mention my past experiences in this field.

One of the things that some people do not understand is why the initiates of Golden Dawn were issued papers about the Qlippoth (properly "shells", but can be thought of as the fallen angels). It is not that the Order encourages us to work with them--summoning them up to do our bidding, things like that. It is that we have to work with them, or at least enough to be able to cope with them.

To illustrate what I am saying, let me use the ritual of initiation. One of the common experiences of members who have undergone initiation is that they end up having problems related to the sephiroth that they were just initiationed into. For instance, Zelators tend to have physical illnesses and money problems cope up.

Why? Quite often, the problems were there before; the ritual just brings them out into the open. We are surrounded by adverse forces everyday. Call them Qlippoth, fallen angels, or just bad luck--they are present. And we would be damn poor magicians and human beings if we did not learn to cope with them.

Occasionally, I will admit that the ritual is to blame. The problem is that when you bring into the manifestation the energies of a sephirah, you not only bring into our world the positive aspects of it, but also the negative ones. I would say that more members know that the initition rituals work because of the bad things that occured shortly thereafter than by positive manifestations.

It is not that the ritual intentionally calls down bad things; it is that the initiate has yet to learn to cope with the energies.

A fully trained Adept in the hot seat (quite often the Hierophant) can help ease the process. Which is why the system contains information about the qlippoth (there is also the fact that as inititates, we are getting trained to use the grimmoric tradition, which consists of books like The Key of Solomon).

We learn this material, so that we can cope with these energies when we encounter them in our personal lives. And can you really look around the world, and tell me that they are not there, no matter what you chose to call them. I think not.