Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I need a stylebook for occultists

One of the things that I wish that I had was a stylebook designed for occultists. It may sound like a strange desire. But given the material that I write, I could really use one. I sometimes wonder if Llewellyn and other occult publishers have an in-house stylebook.

Has anyone seen something along these lines? How about one that is focused on astrology? Or the kabbalah?

Or do I need to create my own?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

QoD George Eliot on Belief

We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us.
--- George Eliot

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Is Griffin the King of Witches

Looking into my cracked crystal ball, I see that David Griffin is about to declare himself the King of the Witches...I think that I might have to burn my union card.

Last night, I was reading Frater Barrabbas' Talking About Ritual Magick blog, and he was talking about the Secret of Pagan Magick. It was a good post, and it was building upon a blog post that David Griffin had wrote about the symbolic and operative traditions (Lunar and Solar Mysteries).

It was a comment that Griffin left to Frater Barrabbas' post that makes me suspect that I am about to burn my union card. Let me just quote it:

....Regarding the Lunar and Solar mysteries in Paganism, I must respectfully disagree with you.... Your point of view is that of an Alexandrian Wiccan, and thus you see Pagan magick as a work in progress - a system still being assembled from an eclectic variety of magickal sources and systems.

Imagine for a moment, however, that there might be another possibility.

Imagine the implications for our modern Pagan movement if an ancient Pagan tradition should be discovered intact - one that fully restores our movement's roots in Pagan antiquity.

Imagine if this rediscovery were to include even its own unique and complete magical system encompassing both solar and lunar mysteries?!?

Would sort of spiritual boost and increase in magical current would such a discovery give Pagan religion in the 21st Century?

Would this not be the greatest gift of a dawning new Millennium for our Pagan faith?

Watch my blog for shocking revelation coming soon.

David Griffin

I am sorry. But the words "freaking unbelievable" and "frak me" leap to mind.

Now, for those of you who do not know David Griffin, perhaps some context is in order. Griffin's Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn big claim to fame is that they claim that they to be the only legitimate Alpha and Omega group in the world, the only living successor to Mather's original Order, and the only Golden Dawn Order in the world to have contact with the original Third (Secret) Order that provided instructions to Mathers.

Griffin collects old documents and lineages like I collect cats.

Now, I will admit that my biggest problem with Griffin is the simple fact that if you go by the rules of the 1999 reformation that I am no longer an Adept. The 1999 reformation that Griffin's Order declared stripped every existing Adept of their Grade. The only way to regain your Adept Grade? Simple, join Griffin's Order.

If I am reading Griffin's teaser correctly, he about to do the same thing to the Wiccan and Pagan communities. He is about to claim that he is the only one to have access to the true and original source of the Pagan Mysteries; and that if the rest of us want to continue to be witches and pagans, we have to join his group.

I hope that I am wrong. But I am not going to hold my breath.

Merry frakking Christmas.

[Full Disclosure: The opinions expressed by Morgan Drake Eckstein do not represent those of Bast Temple or any other Golden Dawn group. Nor do they represent the opinions of any coven, wiccan or pagan group. Morgan Drake Eckstein is solely responsible for these opinions, and consulted with no one (except maybe his cats) before airing his dread of future upcoming attractions.]

Follow-up  on this blog post: On 3 February 2011, David Griffin came out of the broom closet and revealed his connection with a Streghera (Italian paganism) branch, Stregheria del Bosco Sacro of Benevento, which claims to have the Inner Alchemy tradition involving the Great Rite of paganism.

Policy Reminder Do Not Advertise in my comment section

A reminder to those who are attempted to use my comment section merely for their own advertising purposes---DON'T!

I moderate my comment section. And if I believe that your comment was made solely to advertise your product, blog, or Order, or coven, then I will not approve your comment. It is that simple.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Memory problems part 1

Ok, I will admit it---I have a few memory problems. And no, I do not believe that it is early onset Alzheimer's disease either (that comment is directed at a friend who d*** well knows who he is). I first became aware of these problems a few years ago, though I view them less as a problem than other people do.

For instance, I remember very little of my life before certain dates. It is either brain damage from an head injury or simple suppression of unpleasant memories. I am betting on the suppression part, though I have taken more blows to the head than I like to think about.

Other people have memories of high school and the people they went to school with; I have few memories of that time period. Oh, if I really think about it, I could draw you a map of the school. But don't ask me to name my teachers, for I can only name two of them. And forgot me recognizing someone from high school without heavy prompting...the exception being a handful of people.

Why the difficulty here? Well, outside of classes, I really did not interact with more than a handful of people. Most of the time, I was too busy dealing with another drama. So it is not so much a memory problem as the simple fact that there are no memories to actually access in the first place.

Now, we have a myth that everything that we experience is stored in the brain. This is not true. There are several stages where memories can get lost between the experience and actual recall of the memory. For instance, if you don't get a good night sleep, you can lose a lot of potential memories as they are transferred to short term memory to long term memory.

Of course, my short-short term memory is like swiss cheese when it comes to certain things. I have a devil's of a time with phone numbers. It is not that I can't remember phone numbers; it is that I can't remember them in the manner most people do. For me, someone firing off a seven digit phone number leads to a blank look on my face. My very own phone number is not remembered as a seven digit number, rather it is remembered as three numbers. For instance, I remember the last four digits of it as 66 and 84; there is one more step there, but you get the idea.

A few years ago, a friend caught how I rememebered a phone number that I dialed every day. She noticed that I could not remember the number unless my hand moved as if I was actually dialing the number. The memory of the number was actually stored in my muscle memory, and not in the normal usual place.

And that is something I always wonder about magical workers in general. Where are we storing our memories in the first place? For instance, according to occult theory, everyone has an astral body, and everyone astral travels (ok, I do know a theory that argues different, but it is a testing theory). Yet few people remember astral traveling on a regular basis before they get trained to astral project. And that includes people who have been witnessed by other people.

If you cannot remember astral traveling, then as far as you are concerned, you have not astral traveled. Much of learning to astral project is not figuring out how to leave your body as much as it is learning to be able to recall that you did so in the first place.

Look sometime at the number of energetic bodies that occult theory says that we have. Each one of these bodies potentially has its own set of memories. What is in our head is more than the circuits of the meat suit that we are wearing, or at least it should be if we are a magician. Which means that the memory problems that I am aware of are merely the tip of the iceberg. And that makes alzheimer's look like a welcome change from my normal experiences.

Denver Zoo 2011 Free Days

Ok, this is not occult or lodge related, but I am posting it anyways because I like animals.

Denver Zoo 2011 Free Zoo Days

January 8 (Saturday)
January 24 (Monday)
February 6 (Sunday)
February 19 (Saturday)
October 12 (Wednesday)
October 20 (Thursday)
November 6 (Sunday)
November 12 (Saturday)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts about academics and documented proof

Between the blogosphere's hot zone over Ronald Hutton v Ben Whitmore and someone asking for proof that the original Golden Dawn did an 180 positioning during the purification and consecration, I have been giving a lot of thought to the burden of documented proof and academics lately.

A long time ago, I came to the conclusion that no amount of proof about certain practices, including a signed, dated, and notorized letter from Westcott and Mathers, is going to convince certain people who believe that certain ideas and procedures were not part of the system. It is that simple. The stronger a person believes that certain things are one way and one way only, the less likely that you are going to be able to convince them otherwise. The same goes for trying to convince people to try new procedures and ideas out when they believe that only the ancient techniques should be used.

I have also came to the conclusion that the esoteric world needs to have both the mythical history and the actual history. Mythical history provides us with emotional support, while being able to talk about the actual history makes us less likely to look like loons.

We are not likely to ever know the absolute truth about anything. The best that we can do is assign a percentage of probability to any given fact or statement based on our current knowledge and resources.

Now I will admit that I find the flame/witch war raging around Hutton v Whitmore amusing; it reminds me of some of the mudslinging that I have seen sitting on the sidelines of academia. Yes, even an undergrad gets to see politics and mudslinging. I think that in my case, with my goal of getting at least a masters degree (history or literature or maybe both), and my past experience in the witch and flame wars (1980's Denver---yeah!), makes me more attuned to seeing how academics treat one another.

Hutton when he published knew that he was opening himself up to criticism. And he knew that not all of it was going to come from trained professionals. There is no law that says that only trained professional academics can review and nitpick the work of professional historians. (The same rule applies to professional occultists and writers.) Rebuttals can come from anyone. Just assign percent values to the original work and the rebuttals and reviews and MOVE ON!

In fact, I hate to say this (sorry to everyone)---but this flame war over Hutton's and Whitmore's works might actually be good. One of the harsh realities of book publishing is that people have to be aware of a book if it is going to sell any copies. It is word-of-mouth that sells books. While I wish there was less name-calling, I am glad that people are becoming more aware of these books.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stuff I am reading today Part Two

There is a belief that in order to be a writer that you must read. There is also a belief that reading sometimes is just an excuse for not writing. That would be true for me today.

Gordon over at Runesoup posted examples of ways to use the probability control aspects of magic to accomplish bigger results. He gives examples of Job Hunting, Love Hunting, Wealth Advancement, Career Advancement, and Glamours. One of the glamour examples I am going to have to try is the "Big Ears" the next time I have to interview someone.

Over at Postmodern Magic (name of the writer so escapes me), there is a post about invoking Och for wellness and coming down with a cold. This is something that all experienced healers are familiar with. The very next post that was posted mentioned an article that explains that perhaps this is exactly the result that one should end up with whne invoking for increased health.

And here is a great quote. Seth Godin said, "Organizations have always been good at title inflation, because it's free and it serves their purposes. The net, though, makes it easy to see what the hierarchy actually looks like, so it's better to just be clear, I think." I think that some lodge organizations need to learn this lesson. It makes me rather glad that I just claim to be an elected officer of a small Golden Dawn lodge, much less chance of getting egg on my face that way.

Another great quote for today comes from Elysia one of Llewellyn Books' acquisitions editors (Witchcraft), who was talking about a recent statement that the Pope made about religious freedom. Elysia said, "It is also painfully ironic that the Pope has said, 'It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty.' Well, that’s kind of been your game for centuries, hasn’t it?" I almost had to clean my keyboard. And I must agree with her, the Pope coming out and complaining about Christians being persecuted is the pot calling the kettle black.

And finally, there is a great definition of Kabbalah for Wiccans and pagans posted by Frater Barrabbas. I am so borrowing that one for sharing among my lodge. (What? You think that I am going to work hard and reword it? No, I am lazy and could care less about my fellow lodge members knowing who my sources are.)

Anyways, that concludes my reading for today. Hopefully, tomorrow or Monday I can get my motivation to show up and actually write something (Sunday is lodge, so there is no hope there). As for the rest of today, I have to clean out litter boxes, feed cats, do some other minor chores before heading to tonight's Open Full Moon ritual.

Quote of the Day Barrabas and how to judge an argument

Frater.Barrabbas talking about the recent furor raised in Wiccan circles by the book Trials of the Moon said:  

The bottom line to all of this controversy is that we should all examine Whitmore’s book [Trials of the Moon] in a cool and dispassionate manner. Look at what he has to say and how he backs it up. Does he cite his sources? Are the sources verifiable and do they indicate what he says they do? The fact that Ben Whitmore is not an academic and that his book is self-published is completely irrelevant. His arguments and their associated proof are the only valid areas for our unbiased consideration. We can agree with his thesis or not, and if not, then present in a civil manner exact areas where that thesis can’t be backed up with relevant facts. To dismiss someone simply because he doesn’t have the required academic credentials or because he is self-published shows a level of hubris and arrogance that truly astonishes me.

I would add that the same standard needs to be applied to Ronald Hutton’s book Triumph of the Moon. It does not matter that Hutton is a professional historian and got his book published though a publisher. What matters is does his sources support his argument.

And for the record, I have no opinion yet about who is right or who is wrong. Having just finished finals for the semester (I am a double major: Literature and History), I haven't read the two books yet.

Stuff I am reading today Part One

Here is some of the stuff that I am reading today (instead of working on whatever writing that I was supposed to be doing today):

Neil Gaiman is trying to get writers and other creative people (those who are creating intellectual property) to create (and update) their wills. Personally, I know that much of my work would disappear if I am not careful on this front. The same people are upset with my choice of profession and religion would do their best to make sure that my work is never seen again. I can imagine them taking my common-law wife to court to ensure that my writing disappears. Sad, but true. And as a community, we know the problems that not leaving a clear will stating your wishes creates. There are several occult writers that I really hope that have their wills properly filled out.

Witch Doctor Joe talks about pagan shops and one of the problems that he encountered while doing his charity fund raising. Joseph Merlin Nichter is a volunteer Wiccan Chaplin in California, and has wrote a book, Carcer Via for inmates practicing Wicca while in prison. Joe has been selling the book both online and at the local occult stores in his neighborhood with the proceeds going to furnish inmates with free copies of the book. One of the central California occult shop owners seem to be missing the point of the entire exercise. Heaven forbid that we place charity above the bottom line.

Dharmaruci (Astrotabletalk) has an astrology chart for Julian Assange, and some comments about Wikileaks and its founder. Talking about the possibility of an UFO cover-up, Dharmarcui says that "applying a sort of reverse logic to the Wikileaks phenomenon, if something doesn’t eventually appear on Wikileaks then it probably didn’t happen!" Sorry guys, but I have to agree with Dharmarcui's logic; it is very unlikely that there has ever been an UFO cover-up.

This concludes part one of today's installment of Stuff That I am Reading today...stay tuned for more stuff.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unhappy with Portal

Today, I was talking to a friend online and mentioned that I have never been happy with the Portal ritual, not alone the Portal Grade of Golden Dawn.

I have never been able to place my finger on why I dislike the ritual, but I do. Of course, it may just be simply that the version I was exposed to was a modified version of the one published by Regardie (obviously, there is problems with the Regardie presentation of the ritual if even the bad lineage I came from decided to attempt to fix it). In fact, I have been led to believe that the Portal ritual is the one that has been changed the most among the various offshoots of the system---hordes of initiates have attempted to fix it.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about the ritual. First, it is the first ritual that came out of Golden Dawn that was not contained in the Cipher Manuscript. Second, most of the diagrams were in the East (my friend said that 98% of the diagrams were originally in the East). Third, the Portal ritual was originally the first half of the Adept Minor 5=6 ritual (split to generate a waiting period before members entered Adept Minor, a change that was coming before Crowley was insulted by it). Fourth, the Regardie presentation of it is missing a lot of diagrams and has some of the speeches messed up.

As for the Grade itself, I am fairly sure that my problem with the Portal Grade is the vast amount of nothingness that I was exposed to. A couple of exercises and the writing of a thesis on the Outer Order Grades is all that I was exposed to: no lectures, no documents, no nothing.

Anyway, I guess that I am just stating that I was really unhappy with the version that I had access to---just in case, I decide to take a sledge hammer to it and try to beat it into shape later. I would hate for something like that to be unexpected.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spam from the Not Nick

At times, I find myself totally at a loss to figure out human behavior. Yesterday, someone (or maybe some program) hacked Nick Farrell's email account. And what did they use it for?

To send out links to a Canadian Pharmacy.

Really? One wonders if they really thought that they were going to get any sales from that one. This particular Canadian Pharmacy, who I am not going to provide a link to, shows up in my spam box a lot.

Obviously, someone is buying their prescription drugs cheaply from this website; but given the amount of spam that people send out for this site, it is probably not a good place to do so. Of course, it is probably more than one person sending out this spam.

Now what I can't figure is why they thought that putting Nick Farrell's stamp of approval on this site would generate any sales. I trust Nick Farrell as an occultist; he knows a lot about that subject. But cheap Canadian drugs and medicine---I think not. And one would hope that if he was trying to get us to buy our prescriptions from Canada, that he would send us to another site, rather than the one that always shows up in my spam box.

Anyways, I can laugh about this. Most days. But just to be clear---if suddenly I send out links to a certain Canadian Pharmacy, it is not me; it is just the spambot pretending to be me. Though my question about why we would trust Nick's recommendation goes double for me. But if you would trust me to steer you to cheap drugs, how about a lovely bridge and a piece of farmland in Florida? Going super-cheap, just the cost of a year's worth of cat food.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interesting blog post by Alex Sumner

Alex Sumner just posted an interesting blog post about a Golden Dawn ritual that he found in the collection at the Freemason Library and Museum in London. It is a ritual method of vibrating ADNI Ha-AReTz to unite with one's personal Kether. Well, I found it interesting; I plan on experimenting with it after the semester is over. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Paying the rent

Tonight while I was over at Tattered Cover, I noticed a sign that said that if you are a student of North High School that it was ok to eat your lunch in the bookstore provided that you had brought something at the coffee shop. Now considering that I was there meeting an occult associate (time will tell if they are a friend), I quickly checked my guilt meter. After all, I was using their coffee shop as a public meeting spot.

I was ok. I had already brought a sandwich and a juice. And considering that I can't step into Tattered Cover without buying some book or another, I knew that they were going to get some money out of my wallet before I left (ended up buying a book of mandalas).

But I have noticed over the years that not everyone who uses public places (restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores) as meeting spots spend a reasonable amount of money at them (occasionally they spend none). And honestly, I think that other people have also noticed this one. Recently I read a blog about things to think about when considering opening an occult store; one of the suggestions was to consider renting a smaller place because the income from having a meeting spot for occultists was generally less than the cost of renting the additional room to allow them to use the place as a meeting space.

(I don't remember what blog I read this on; if you know what blog I am talking about please leave a link in the comment section, so that I can link to the post.)

I think that it is just good form to actually spend money at the places that we use for meeting up with our occult associates. Maybe I am just strange (twenty years of restaurant work will do that to you).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Should you use your motto in public?

On one of the Golden Dawn forums recently, I saw someone state that they had been advised not to use their motto on the public forums. I have mixed opinions about whether this advice is sound or not.

The idea behind not using one's motto on the public forums can be traced to two ideas.

The first is that by tradition, we are supposed to keep our membership in the Orders a secret. This includes the motto by which we are known in the lodges. Today, this is largely ignored.

The second reason that is cited for not using your motto in a public setting is the idea that by revealing your motto, you weaken the energetic seal around yourself. Essentially, some consider someone knowing your motto to be a pathway that negative energies can be sent into your aura and into the body of the Order which you belong.

Against these ideas, we have a number of initiates using their motto, or a variation of it, in their public activities. The most famous example of this (or at least the one that pops first to the surface of my mind) is Dion Fortune. Violet Mary Firth's penname was based on her family's motto "Deo, non fortuna" ("By God, not fate") which she used as her Order's motto.

Of course, against this example we can place Pat Zalewski's "I am just Pat."

I also tend to be "just Morgan"; though in my own case, Morgan Drake is actually a variation of one of the many mottos I have taken in my magical career. The reason that I use Morgan Drake is that it became my penname (with the addition of my actual last name), due to familial concern that my writing about the occult would reflect badly on the family's reputation. There is also the issue that for a long while I really hated my legal birthname.

Going back to the first reason, there are some people who actually consider it better to use a motto than to have one's real identity connected with the work (for example, elementary school teachers). One of the things that I stress about the oath is that one should never "out" any member of the tradition; this is especially true if their job is one where dabbling in the occult will get you fired (as per my example of school teachers).

(In my case, I have been "outted" in the sense that several members of the magical community decided to openly state what my real position was in the Order that I am a member of. Fortunately, I had already prepared for that particular "revealing/unmasking of the truth"; therefore no real damage was done.)

And it is not just the revealing of one's own membership that can be dangerous. For instance, I know someone who would get in big trouble if they are ever publicly connected with their spouse who is a member of the tradition.

Now there are some people whose membership is a matter of public record. Most of these people are either authors or heads of their respective Orders. It is to these people that you look at to see what the custom of public motto use is in their particular Order. Ironically, the person that noted that they advised not to use their motto on the public forums (provided that my information is correct) is a member of an Order whose Chief openly uses their motto in public activities all the time.

And on that note (the things that me go "Hmm"), I end this entry. As always, feel free to post your opinions of whether one should or should not use mottos on the public forums (and elsewhere) in the comment section (remembering that I moderate comments to keep the worst of the riff-raff at bay).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reading the Sprengel Letters

[Author’s note: I originally started to write this entry in August 2010. The sections that I completed in August have not been changed.]

One of arguments about Golden Dawn that occasionally erupts is whether the Sprengel Letters that Westcott supposedly received from Fraulein Sprengel are legitimate. Given what ax you have to grind will depend on what way you swing.

The ax grinding started very early in the history of the Order. (Samuel Liddell) MacGregor Mathers, in the buildup to the Revolt of the Adepts, wrote to Florence Farr (February 1900) that “[Westcott] has never been at any time either in personal or in written communication with the Secret Chiefs of the Order, he having either forged or procured to be forged the professed correspondence between him and them, and my tongue having been tied all these years by a previous Oath of Secrecy to him, demanded by him, from me, before showing me what he had either done or caused to be done or both.” Mathers definitely had an ax to grind; he wanted sole control of the Order and feared that the members might chose to follow Westcott instead. And despite many who lay the argument that the Sprengel Letters are a forgery on Howe, a historian who had an ax to grind (he so wanted to create distance between Golden Dawn and his beloved Freemasonry), the truth is that one of Golden Dawn’s original three Co-Chiefs, later sole Chief, was the one to get the ball rolling on the possibility that Golden Dawn’s authority was bogus.

Dr. William Wynn Westcott (who originally shared rulership of the Order with Mathers and Dr. W. R. Woodford), basically refused to defend himself. His dilemma is obvious when you consider the following statement that Westcott gave investigative committee. “If I accepted this new story---Mrs. Woodford would rightly charge me with slandering her dead husband’s reputation, for he was answerable for the original history; and if I say [Mathers’] new story is wrong I shall be open to violent attack by him and I shall have to suffer his persecution.” Does he slander the dead and possibly gets sued, or does he call his former friend a liar and possibly gets sued or worse. (I am not sure how to read “violent attack”---is it physical violence, legal troubles, power struggles and nasty rumors, or good old-fashioned curses that Westcott wants to avoid?)

The investigating committee decided that the Sprengel Letters were legitimate, or at least they found no clear evidence of fraud (in fact, Westcott’s translator and a clerk at the Sanitary Wood Wool seemed to verify Westcott’s story). One probably should not trust the opinion of the investigating committee…after all, they would soon expel Mathers, the very Head of their Order, from the system that he helped flesh out. The revolting Adepts had their own ax to grind. Later Mathers would apologize to Westcott for making the accusation when the chickens started to come home to roost in his own barn and Crowley was busy taking an ax to him.

None of internal Order drama actually answers the question of whether or not the Sprengel Letters are real or forgeries. Periodically, various Golden Dawn authorities have weighed in on the question. Depending upon your particular agenda, you either listen to them or ignore them. Howe, who has been clothed as the third murderer (along with Crowley and Regardie), was just the latest loud mouth. (Yes, a Shakespeare joke---and not a very good one either. Can you figure out how serious I think the whole matter is?)

So what are the Sprengel Letters? They are a series of letters supposedly written to W. W. Westcott from Fraulein Sprengel, an Adept living in Germany. Her address was claimed to have been found among the leaves of the Cipher Manuscript, the outline of the Outer Order rituals of the Golden Dawn. They were (allegedly) written in German and translated into English (for the record, I have never seen the German version of the letters, only the English translations). While the Cipher Manuscript is the DNA of the Outer Order rituals, the Sprengel Letters is the divine authority given for the quickening of the Order; quite simply, the authority for Isis-Urania #3 is contained in the Sprengel Letters.

More specifically, Sprengel was the Greatly Honored Soror Sapiens Dominabitur Astris 7=4…the person who become the mythical Chief and main signer (In Absentia) of the Warrant of the Isis-Urania #3.

(It should be noted that Mathers believed GH Honored SDA was an American. It would be interesting to know why he even thought that was possible considering that the Hermetic tradition is native to Europe, and is just a lowly import over the pond. We are always told to look towards Europe and the East; the Americans have always been considered upstarts. Yet Mathers thought that an American was either the original SDA and the Sprengel Letters a fraud, or that an American was capable of channeling the dead spirit of SDA and as such was capable of empowering him to run rough-shod over the members of his rebellious Order. Either way, there are a lot of unanswered questions here…most seem to call Mathers’ judgment into question.)

Now, over the years, some nonsense has attached itself to the Letters. One well-known bit is that Fraulein Sprengel’s first name was Anna. Her first name is not mentioned in the Letters. Anna is not actually Fraulein Sprengel’s first name. Rather Anna is the first name of someone who might have been her niece. Dr. Felkin (during his search for the Secret Order behind Golden Dawn) stumbled upon an Anna Sprengel, whom he thought was Fraulein Sprengel’s niece; maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t. Either way, the name Anna became connected by rumor and mis-accounts to the good Fraulein. (Personally, I would like to start a rumor that her great-great grand-nephew is named Egon, can I do that?)

Another bit of nonsense is that a bogus set of Letters means that the Golden Dawn is a bogus Order. If the Letters are forgeries, it merely means that the Letters are forgeries and nothing more. The rituals and techniques of the Order work---and isn’t that all that really matters today?

Of course, the biggest piece of nonsense is that if the Letters are real, then that modern lodges should submit on bended knee to the Secret Order whose material found its way into the Cipher Manuscript, either directly or to its chosen representative. To this, I answer---there is not a chance that will happen. The students of Golden Dawn have been left to their own devices for far too long. Either Golden Dawn and Isis-Urania #3 never had any actual connection with the original Secret Order (if the Letters are fake) or (if the Letters are real) the original Secret Order wanted nothing to do with us until we became a resource that could be used by them. It does not matter. Both possibilities lead to the fact that the original Secret Order did not contribute to the birth of what we know as Golden Dawn beyond misplacing an outline of the rituals. At best, the Secret Order is like the donor at a sperm bank; at worst, they are the absentee dad that shows up looking to borrow your car and money despite never contributing to your upbringing.

Now, a word needs to be said about my approach to the Sprengel Letters. I am both a Literature and History major. I am also a journalist, creative writer, and a blogger. As such, sooner or later, you will be informed that I am not the type of expert that can give you an unbiased opinion about the Letters. In other words, do not believe a word that I say. Especially considering that I am going to treat the Letters the same way that I am going to treat any other text. I assume that everything said in the Letters was written for a purpose. And it does not matter whether the Letters are forgeries or not---everything that we need to know is contained within the Letters themselves. It does not matter whether William Wynn Westcott or Fraulein Sprengel wrote the Letters---what matters is that they are the creation of an author who had a purpose and reason for writing the Letters and that purpose can be discovered though an analysis of the Letters themselves.

[Author’s note: All of the preceding was actually completed by 10 August 2010. What follows this note was completed on November 13, 2010.]

[The text of the Sprengel Letters can be found in The Golden Dawn Sourcebook assembled by Darcy Kuntz.]

Letter One (November 1887)

In this first letter, we first hear from Fraulein Sprengel. She [the creator of the letter, whoever they really are] claims that the Cipher Manuscript was once in the possession of “poor Abbe Constant” [Eliphas Levi] who lost the Manuscript, then “came into the hands of two Englishmen who applied to use them.” Sprengel says that she knows nothing useful that came of that attempt [Hermanubis]. Then she proceeds to “raise” Westcott to the 7=4 Grade of the Second Order.

“Begin a new Temple No. 3 and choose two learned persons to form the first three Chiefs; when you have raised three more adepts to 5=6 you may be independent.”

Sprengel then goes on to lament the state of the Hermetic Science in her time, noting that even in Germany that their membership is low; despite this the German adepts possess much power.

“[W]e mistrust posts and letters, so cannot help or tell you very much.”

Then Sprengel tells Westcott that she can be reached though the Lodge of Light, Love, and Life [Licht, Liebe, und Leben], and that Frater ‘In Utroque Fidelis’ is her secretary.

The importance of this first letter is that it establishes the lineage of Isis-Urania #3, and gives Westcott and his partners the authority to run it. Interestingly enough, there is no mention in the Cipher Manuscript that understanding the Manuscript is enough to gain the authority to start a lodge of the system. Nor is there any mention that Sprengel, who is 7=4 (or Chief Adept), has the authority to charter a new lodge. It is especially important to note that Westcott is “raised” to the Grade of 7=4---he has not been though the ceremonies of the system. Whoever wrote the Sprengel letters is already busy establishing the fact that no aid is going to be given to Temple #3, and that it is going to be independent of the German Order.

Letter Two (January 1888)

Sprengel authorizes Westcott to sign her motto “to any papers which are necessary to carry out my wishes as to forming Temples and carrying on the work of the Order of the G. D.”

The importance of this short letter is that it grants Westcott the right to sign “Sapiens Dominabitur Astris” to any papers that he considers necessary to spread the Order. Interestingly enough, there was no indication in the earlier letter that Sprengel was authorizing, or even desiring, more than a single lodge to form.

Letter Three (February 1888)

Sprengel tells Westcott that she is pleased with his progress, and instructs him that “all reports and questions come from you only.” In addition, she mentions sending some pages possessed by A.N.V.T. [Eliphas Levi], and that another Frater ‘Igne’ had died in Naples.

The importance of this letter is that Westcott is officially made the gatekeeper and sole messenger that the members of Isis-Urania may funnel their concerns though. It is interesting that a Frater of the Order is mentioned to have died; either the Order does not possess a functioning Philosopher’s Stone and Elixir or Frater Igne was not of sufficient Grade to partake of it.

Letter Four (September 1888)

Sprengel sends her regrets about not being able to attend the upcoming Equinox ritual. She mentions that she might send some Adept papers to Westcott soon.

This letter can be used to argue that Sprengel was a fake and an excuse had to be made for her non-attendance, or it can be used to argue that Westcott (and not Mathers) was her chosen Adept who was to open up the Second Order for her; it all depends upon whether or not you believe that Sprengel actually existed. [By the way, the Equinox ritual is not contained in the Cipher Manuscript---it is a creation of the new Order.]

Letter Five (August 1889)

The only letter (or rather draft copy) that has survived from Westcott to Sprengel mentions that “the two fraters whom I chose to be Chiefs by your order, have continued to work hard at the Order and the teaching of others.” Westcott asks that the title of 7=4 be granted to them, along with permission to grant Grades up to the 5=6.

This letter asks for Mathers and Woodman to become 7=4 (again, no rituals have been undergone for these Grades) with the authority to pass on the Grades up to 5=6. There is a problem with this letter; on the Warrant for the Isis-Urania (dated March 1888), Mathers and Woodman are already listed (under their mottos) as being 7=4s.

Letter Six (October 1889)

Sprengel is pleased at the pace of instruction and that four of the members “have attained the necessary knowledge to enable them to be elevated to the next Order.” She also is pleased that the three Chiefs are “nominated Adepti 5=6.”

“Consequently I award you according to agreement an Independent Authority.”

She wishes them luck, and mentions sending “some old manuscript secrets and some very old heavenly symbols and drawings used in the different Orders.”

This letter is important because with it, Isis-Urania Temple #3 no longer is answerable to the European Mother Order; they are independent.

Letter Seven (December 1889, received in March 1890)

The Grades of Adeptus Exemptus 7=4 are “in due form conferred” upon Westcott, Woodman and Mathers. (Again, there is no indication that any ritual has been performed to complete this advancement.)

The three Fraters are also given the “full power to control” all the Grades of the Outer Order and the 5=6 and 6=5 of the Second Order.

The importance of this letter is once again to emphasize the fact that the Isis-Urania is independent and not answerable to the European parent body.

Letter seven (August 1890)

Frater Ex Uno Disce Omnes writes to Westcott to inform him that Sprengel is dead, and that her secretary has to stop his studies and turn to business.

Here comes the cherry on top as far as I am concerned:

“I ought to tell you that permission to perform ceremonies in large Lodges, as you are doing, was given by S.D.A. against the wishes of other Chiefs, and they will not correspond with you, or help you any more at present, until they find out how this change affects the Order. A few more 5 and 6 papers may be sent to you. I enclose my card for your own use only.”

If there is any doubts that the members of Isis-Urania #3 are on their own, they are told outright that the parent Order wants nothing to do with them until they prove to be useful to the parent Order. Nevertheless, Westcott is still given a pipeline to another 7=4 with the possibility of more information forthcoming, but only though him (not Mathers).

Overall, the seven letters establish the fact that the English branch of the Golden Dawn has lineage, authority, and is independent. Furthermore, Westcott is to be the membership’s sole contact with the Mother Lodge (which is the only lodge other than them to exist). Whether you believe that the Sprengel Letters are fake or real, the end result is the same: An independent Order with Westcott (and not Mathers) at its head and no hope of further information except what Westcott provides. Therefore, it does not matter who the actual creator of the Sprengel Letters is, nor does it matter if they are real or not---the end result was purposely moved towards no matter who wrote the letters. If it was Westcott, he justified his ultimate authority over the Order; if it was members of a Germanic Order, then they placed Westcott solely in the position of ultimate trust.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hearthstone Community Church Open Full Moon dates for 2011

2011 Dates
for the Hearthstone Community Church
Open Full Moons

January 14
Feb 18
Mar 18
Apr 15
May 13
June 10
July 15
Aug 12
Sept 9
Oct 7
Nov 4
Dec 9

The remaining dates for 2010 are:

November 19
December 17

Meets at the First Unitarian Church
at 14th and Lafayette, Denver Colorado
Doors open at 7 pm.
Ritual starts at 7:30 pm.
Suggested donation $5
(to help pay for renting the meeting space)

Why dogs are NOT Secret Chiefs or Gods

The difference between how dogs and cats look upon their humans:

Dog: He feeds me. He gives me a warm place to sleep. He makes sure I'm healthy. He cleans up after me. He strokes my fur.

He must be God.


Cat: He feeds me. He gives me a warm place to sleep. He makes sure I'm healthy. He cleans up after me. He strokes my fur.

I must be God.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I want to be brilliant

Warning: Do not assume that I am talking about you. I have a laundry list of people who this post might apply to, and you may not actually be on it. And I suspect that the worst offender is probably the person...well if you can't figure it out by the end of the post, then perhaps you are on my laundry list of offenders.

At least once a week, I see someone on the forums, or the lists, or the blogosphere, or in the local pagan community, or on the quad (you get the idea), become upset and accuse someone of being mean to them. This is often after being told that their latest brain storm is not really that great and might even be completely and utterly wrong.

The sad part is that often they are trying to be smarter than Crowley, Mathers, the professor, the President, their spouse (you get the idea), and they are falling far short of the mark. It is believing that you are an A student, when you are only capable of doing B work and only willing to put in C amount of effort.

I understand this problem. At least once a day, I have an attack of this particular mental disease. I open my mouth, and my Advanced Adept Advisor, my professor, my friend, my spouse (you get the idea), tells me that I do not understand the entire situation and am sadly mistaken. Sometimes I even listen...provided that four cats are sitting in Grand Cross formation.

Yes, I want to be brilliant. Unfortunately, I have yet to find the right crowd to tell me how wonderful I am. Damn it, where are my worshipful minions?!

And if you have worshipful minions, please leave a note in the comment section about where you found them; how much you have to bribe them; and how soon you think it will be before they revolt against you.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some thoughts about the unpublished GD material

Last week, I was reading a discussion about the unpublished Golden Dawn material. Or rather lack of new stuff. And I have a few thoughts about the whole subject.

Personally, I think that we are near the bottom of the barrel for original Golden Dawn material. Most of the Westcott and Mathers material (outside of the A&O stuff) has been published; or at least, the important parts have been mined for material already. Despite this, people are going to continue to hunt for access to unpublished material...buyer beware,

We are not going to end up seeing anything published that is going to radically change how modern Golden Dawn is practiced. Nor are people's opinions about Westcott, Mathers and their contact (or lack of) with the Secret Chiefs going to change. People are going to continue to believe what they believe---buyer beware.

And if we are curious about unpublished stuff, we really need to consider widening the search to beyond the Golden Dawn and the A&O---unless of course, you believe that Westcott and Mathers got it perfectly right in the first place. People are going to continue to change things to suit their belief system...again, buyer beware.

Friday, October 29, 2010

WOT Primary colors in a commerical

One of the interesting things about being an occultist is the strange thoughts that run though your head while you go about your day. For instance, just now while watching TV, a Phoenix University commerical came on and they were talking about how different students get different amounts of attention.

By itself, it is nothing. Except that the A-level students were dressed in red; the trouble-makers in blue; and all the students in-between dressed in yellow. No actual occult significance to this color scheme (I suspect that the makers of the commerical just chose the colors because they were primary colors), but my mind could not help musing about the possible occult significance to the scheme.

And if you are an occultist, especially one familiar with the Golden Dawn color scales, I bet that you are now wondering yourself how good students can be associated with fire; bad students with water; and the middling students with air. It is an interesting world that we live in, isn't it?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I am a suffix angel

I am a suffix angel. Well, not really. But I might as well be one.

I was walking home the other day when I passed a little boy and his mom on the street. And the little boy said to his mom that I was M***'s godfather. He did not know my name, but he knew my function. At that moment, I realized something about suffix angels; we are knee-deep in them and a lot of them are flesh and blood beings.

Real quickly, for the Zelator reading this post (*waves hi to them*), the term "suffix angel" comes from practical kabbalah. Occasionally, you need the help of an entity which name you do not know. The standard method developed among kabbalists was to take the name of the area you needed help in and add the suffix "-al" ("-el") or "-ah" to that name. It allows you to call the entity without knowing its actual name.

For instance, I deal with the RTD (Regional Transportation District) a lot. There are times that I pray that I can get to the lightrail station on time, so that I can get to my class on time. Or failing that, the lightrail shows up in a timely manner to serve my purposes.

(I favor the lightrail over buses because it triggers less migraines.)

Now, I don't know the proper name of this angel (or is it a demon). The ancient kabbalists listed no name for this entity when they were compiling their lists. (In fact, if one learns something about the languages used by the ancient kabbalists, one learns that there are actually a lot of suffix angels in the angelic lists.) The only thing I know about the entity (at least initially) is their function.

Function: RTD, add the "-al" and you get RTDal. Sprinkle a few vowels in for my non-Enochian tongue, and I end up with something like Ratadal or Rotadal (depending upon my mood).

And we have all used a suffix angel at one time or another. Often they come in the form of real life flesh and blood human beings. Imagine for a second that your hot water heater springs a leak. Do you shout, "Call me a plumber named Bob!" No, you just want a plumber; you could care less what their actual name is. The same holds true for the pizza guy, cable guy, the police, firemen, and paramedics. You don't care who is sent as long as they can fix the problem at hand.

Furthermore, at one time or another you have been a suffix angel yourself. Think about your job for a second. Does your employer (or customers) care more about your actual name or your function? How many times have you asked someone what they did for a living (again function)?

The reason we are knee-deep in suffix angels is this is one of the ways that we view the world. In fact, the computer that you are reading this blog on is a suffix you know its name?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Work hard and give it away

I would like to apologize ahead of time for the following rant. I have never seen the nobility of having to slave for a less-than-living wage, nor have I seen the spirituality that is supposed to come from giving everything away. Having said that...

Today, I was reading comments about how one occultist used to charge for lectures while he was alive. Some of these lectures are now on film. And it irked me reading how this occultist was considered some less spiritual because they had collected money to give a lecture.

The general gist was that they should have given the lecture for free.

Well, they might actually have been giving the lecture away for free despite collecting a fee for the lecture.

What often is ignored is that it costs money and time to give a lecture. For instance, if you want to give a lecture without having to hold it in your basement, or deal with coffeehouse customers making noise, you need to rent a space to hold the lecture at. Locally, the cheapest hall that I know of charges three hundred dollars for a two hour period and it is late evening during the week; it is even more if you want the hall for longer or for more user-friendly hours on a weekend.

This hall rental money has to come from somewhere.

The "work hard and give it away" school believes that not only should the lecturer take time away from their busy lives, they should also pay for all the expenses of renting the hall, advertising, chair and equipment rental, etc.

My response to these people are "Are you willing to do this? Why are you not doing it yourself?"

The same hold true for open rituals, books, videos and music. Space to do such things costs money. Equipment and props cost money. And it takes time away from one's busy life and work.

It is possible to collect a fee for a lecture, or to sell your book, and still be thousands of dollars in the red. Just because someone has charged a fee doesn't mean that they actually made a profit.

Of course, my opinion must be ignored because I get paid to write an astrology column for a student newspaper among other things. But it is actually proof that I am right...I could make more money writing something else or flipping burgers while sweating gallons of blood everyday.

And yes, I have never seen the vast amounts of cash that occult writers are rumored to make by the crowd that believes that they should work hard and give it away. And that just makes me think that they are just cheap-skates...something else I have never seen the spiritual virtue in being.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Does anyone not know my Grade?

Over the last few weeks, there was some talk about the proper form of dress and acknowledgement in Outer Order on one of the forums. I could not help laughing about the discussion, for I could not imagine anyone who would need to see my Grade sash to know what my actual Grade was in Golden Dawn tradition.

Think about it. If you have been reading my blog and forum posts for any length of time, you have came to a conclusion about what my actual Grade is in the system. It does not matter what I claim that my Grade is (if I even bother to tell you); all that matters is what you percieve it to be. (The same holds true for Wicca, by the way.)

The level of your support and willingness to have a conversation with me, and the level that we talk at, will be determined solely based on what Grade that you think that I am really at. This is a two-way street; my opinion of your actual Grade will color how much information that I am willing to impart, and exactly how I say stuff. We do not need to see each others' sashes; perception and belief is everything.

A lot of people talk about mutual recognition among lodges. It is a nice concept, but I think that it ultimately falls apart. For instance, I can't think of any organization that would call the lodge I belong to "proper Golden Dawn." Sometimes, it is for major things like not acknowledging that a certain Adept is the greatest thing since white bread; other times, it is for minor things like not requiring "perfect scores" on the advancement tests.

And seriously, even if you and I belonged to Order that mutually recognized one another, would you want to sit in lodge with me? I know several groups, that while for the most part I think that they are doing a great job, which have at least one member that I would not want to sit in lodge with (for one reason or another). Often because I cannot figure out how they managed to get to the Grade that they shout from the rooftops. And seeing their Grade sash will not get me to change my mind either.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rash of Paypal phishing emails

Ok, this is not Golden Dawn or Wicca related, but I am going to post this here anyways. I just went though my email box and deleted a whole bunch of phishing emails all claiming to be from Paypal. And I do mean a whole bunch of them; there were seven of them. That is a lot for one day.

There were also a lot of phishing emails from people claiming to be HSB, Wells Fargo and other banks. All wanting me to verify my security information. Slight problem with a lot of these emails---I don't have accounts with these companies.

Remember people, play it safe. Never trust someone claiming to be from a bank (either local or Nigera), the FBI, Interpol, marines moving hidden war loot (gold), or Paypal. And definitely do not open their attachments.

Remember always treat strange emails as if they are demons after your soul, provided that you have not already sold your soul for a Snickers bar or world domination, fame and glory.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eating and drinking with Crowley

Last week, one of my sisters sent me a link to Aleister Crowley's rice recipe. Now, I know that some have expressed surprise that Crowley was a foodie; but for me, it makes perfect sense that he was. After all, this is the same man that liked good drinks, good drugs, and good cigars. It is only natural that he would also like good food. And being the picky bastard that he was---of course, he is going to have recipes.

I don't remember the book that it is in (someone will put the title in the comment section), but I remember a story about Crowley casting a money spell and then spending the last of the money he had on a big dinner. It takes guts to do that. And yes, his spell worked. Aleister understood the principles of focusing on your desired outcome, rather than wallowing in your fears (something that I find that many magicians, myself included, and Law of Attraction users have difficulties coping with [knock the Law of Attraction all you want, but remember that there is a grain of occult truth in it]).

Despite being a complete a**, I honestly think that Crowley would have been a fine person to sit down and have dinner with. I would attempt to have a conversation with the man, but I fear my intellect is a little sub-par (ain't all of us sub-par in the intellect department when compared to Aleister?). I would not dare take my wife along---Uncle Al would say mock her food allergies. Then again, if me and Crowley started to talk about politics, her eyes would glaze over.

So yes, I would consider have a meal with Aleister Crowley (can you say that you wouldn't be attempted?), though I would draw a line and not consider drinking tea out of his head (have you seen the Crowley teapot?). That is not foodie behavior; that is just bizzare.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why I treat Golden Dawn as an open document

Occasionally, I get told that I am uppitty person and should stick more to the traditional Golden Dawn ways of doing things. I guess it annoys people that I treat Golden Dawn like an open document that can be modified as local conditions change.

The reason that I treat Golden Dawn as an evolving tradition is quite simply I am not living in 1888, Victorian era London. Heck, I am not living in 1888 Denver Colorado either for that matter. I live in a modern city, and my concerns and needs are those of a modern person.

For instance, I work with a lot of Wiccans, pagans and other associated non-Christians. I don't care what the rituals say and how Christian the original Order was; the people that I have to explain things to often do not have a Christian background even. They also expect different things.

As an example, Wiccans tend to believe that if you have Equinox rituals, then you must have Solistice rituals also. It looks bloody wrong to these people to have the one without the other. It does not matter what Mathers and Westcott thought about such matters. All that matters is that the modern member often expects a special ritual during the Solistice.

And giving them such a ritual does not change the core of the system. In fact, a Solistice ritual would provide the opportunity to be able to examine certain symbols in a manner conductive to the way most modern members learn and think.

Some people think that this idea is wrong. Of course, this type of person also believes for instance, just because Mrs Felkin wrote about Atlantis that we must keep it in the system also, despite the fact that such a behavior makes us looks like loons.

(Yes, we are loons---but more of the lunar worshipping variety than the "2012 Atlantis is going to look like a nice spring day" species of lunatic.)

Our information has evolved. Atlantis is no longer needed because we have ice bridge and drifting continent theory to explain things that Atlantis was used to explain a hundred years ago. As for the spiritual ideals that the Atlantis myth has been used to depict...well, ain't they explained by our fall from Eden story?

So yes, I am a Golden Dawn heretic. And I hate to inform you that there are quite a few of us hidden in the woodwork of the modern Golden Dawn.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I want to see Cigar Guy in Golden Dawn

I have decided that I really want to see the latest internet meme mixed with Golden Dawn. So someone please photoshop the Cigar Guy into a Golden Dawn photo/picture---pretty please. And if you do so, please leave a link to your masterpiece in the comment section.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another astrology column done

Wrote another astrology column today for Campus Connection, the student newspaper of the Community College of Denver. At first, I thought this column was a throw-away, but it turned out rather good in my opinion. Today is one of those days that I wish that I could share the column with my audience faster, but the writer agreement is that I am not allowed to republish until the issue is off the stands (about six weeks from now).

I would consider directing people to the issue when it came out, but the pdf issue that is currently up on the CCD website is from April. Yes, the pdf is six months out of date. I wonder if anyone on the publishing end is aware of that tidbit of information. Plus, getting to the pdf is harder than it should be. *sigh*

What was this column about? Well, I was explaining how some of the traits of the sun signs were echoed in the zodiacal glyphs. You know the drill: What does the symbol of the two fishes of Pisces say about natives Pisces? And so forth.

Anyways, if you find yourself impatient to see the column I just did, remember that I feel that way also.

Update (August 4, 2011): Reading the comments, I was reminded that I should really provide my readers with a link to this article now that it is "reprinted." The name of the article is "What the Glyph of Your Zodiac Sign Represents."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Trying to make the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram interesting

One of the joys of being in Golden Dawn, or any other esoteric group for that matter, is that occasionally you can see one of the officers crack up. Each officer has their particular burden to bear. In the case of the Praemonstrator, it is having to lecture about a subject that they have done fifteen million times before (or so, it feels to them).

A particular amusing lecture to watch the Praemonstrator around is when they have to talk about the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Due to the neccessarity of it being taught to every new member (aka Neophyte), most of us have attended this lecture a million times (ok, maybe it just feels like a million times). The only thing that I can imagine more boring than attending the lecture would be teaching it. You can see the eyes of the Praemonstrator twitch as they think about having to do yet another round of teaching it.

The only solution I have seen for this problem (how many times can you watch the same lecture over and over again) is to treat the lecture as if you have two audiences---one being the Neophyte, the other audience everyone else. For the Neophyte, you teach the standard "Here is where you move; these are the symbols you draw; these are the words you say." For everyone else, you take a dartboard, divide it into six parts, and throw a dart at it.

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram has seven layers just like the rest of the Golden Dawn rituals have. The lowest is the physical layer (the part that you are showing to the Neophyte). Everyone else gets a lecture corresponding to the layer that the dart landed in. It is not the most ideal way of teaching, but it cuts down on the snoring and eye twitching.

And if you somehow have not attended the lecture on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram fifteen million times, then you might enjoy reading this post on Augoeides about the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (click on sentence).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why yes I am a pirate

For the record, yes I am a pirate (someone active in at least one file sharing community). I am also a writer and creator of material. I can see both sides of the issue, therefore it always amuses me to blog as if I completely favor one side or another in the whole piracy issue.

(Watch my posts---one day, I favor the pirates, the next day those who are manning the walls.)

It is also amusing that Zinkyleaks is unaware that Nick Farrell, Darcy Kuntz, Pat Zalewski are more than likely aware of the fact that I spend time on the file sharing sites. And if they haven't figured out that I am a pirate...well, I would be surprised.

(I cannot guess whether Chic and Tabitha Cicero are aware of my activity...personally, I have no contact with either one of them.)

I have never made any secret of the fact that I spend time on the file sharing sites. I have talked about doing so on my blogs, including this one.

Likewise, I don't bother disguising the fact that I am a creator and writer on the file sharing sites. You would be surprised the number of writers and creators who are also present on the file sharing sites. Now, I am not sure how many of them are actively running a torrent program in the background, but I assume a couple of them are.

And yes, I have downloaded stuff still under copyright. In fact, it is safe to assume that anything created by someone who was still living after 1940 is still under copyright. Unfortunately, a lot of it is out-of-print.

I started torrenting for out-of-print games (oy, I am a nerd). Then I started to download the latest espisodes of my favorite television shows (I do not have cable and I am impatient---oy vey, I am a nerd). And yes, I have downloaded a lot of occult books (I guess that is the cherry on top---I am not sure if it gets me nerd points or not).

And pirating has not stopped me from buying occult books, television seasons, movies, and role playing games. (I get my music from iTunes; they are also beginning to serve as my substitute for cable.) If Pat, Darcy or Nick showed up at my house, I would ask them to sign my copies of the books I own that they wrote...I am sure after they saw the pile of books I own by them that they would realize that they are not losing any money---at least, from me.

And I have shared part of my own work with the file sharing community. I am an author; and if I am going to get pirated, then by god I am pulling the trigger myself.

But I am not sure that I am guilty of hypocrisy. After all, I have admitted on more than one occasion that I have a vested interest in seeing both the creators of new material and the torrent sites survive. For me, the whole situation is more a muddy grey than a pure black and white.

And if you did not catch it, not only am I a writer, I am also a pirate.

(A big thanks goes to Zinkyleaks for inspiring this post. How do you like those huevos?)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why would a pirate dare rob a magician?

Over at Strategic Sorcery (On Pirates) in the comment section, Pallas Renatus wrote "Why on earth would [pirates] risk pissing off magicians of all people? This just seems like common sense to me."

Here is my theory: The pirates do not believe that the magicians can do anything to hurt them.

Heck, the pirates do not believe that the law can touch them. If the mass forces of the law enforcement agencies and the legal system cannot touch them, how can the puny forces mustered by a lowly magician affect them?

Furthermore, they argue that they are not doing anything wrong. In fact, pirates believe that writers and artists should be happy creating new material for them to use and enjoy while not recieving a single penny to offset the time and energy they used to create the work. Even if they believes in, oh say something like, Karma or the Three-fold Law of Return, they would think that it is the creators of the material that are the moral violators and not them.

And most of these pirates have no stake in the outcome of this situation, either as creators or users. They do not create anything that can earn them a thin dime (my proof: everyone I know with a monetary stake in a copyright or intellectual property is a supporter of copyright and patent laws, even if we cannot agree how strong the laws should be). And they are armchair occultists---they are not actually using the material that they are stealing.

It is this last part that makes it especially difficult for magicians to fight back (with a couple of notable exceptations). In previous ages, magicians used to blind their work to prevent it from working correctly in the hands of those people not in their own lineage. Think: Large Booby Trap, often complete with drooling demons to feast on one's scattered remains. The defense that the lineaged working magician were traditionally taught does not work if the person just downloads a pdf and never actually casts a single spell from the work (in some cases, I am not even sure that they actually are reading the works in question).

But note that working magicians are a crafty lot, and there are some interesting magical procedures starting to be developed to cope with this new form of piracy. It is only a matter of time before the pirates realize that magicians are the last people you want to rob, and that we have rolled out a whole new line of customized curses to deal with the likes of them (curses that cannot be removed with anti-virus software).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogs I am reading 23 September 2010

Yes, it is time once again for another installment of Blogs That I am Reading.

First up is Mrs B's Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom. One of the regular features on her blog is the misadventures of her cat, Tanner. In the latest installment, Tanner is looking mighty hungry.

Speaking of food, following a link on VVF's blog, I stumbled across a rant by Gordon (RuneSoup) about how horrible modern pagan food is. I love the advice that is given at the end:

Shaping a tube of cookie dough into little half-moons is not food suitable for divine beings. Please don’t feed your Gods the way you clearly feed your children. They deserve much better.

Over on Renaissance Astrology, Christopher talks about how to figure out the astrological spirit of a city. I find it hard to argue with what he believes the Angel of America looks like.

And finally, we have Rufus talking about using gunpowder in rituals (his post being a safety warning regarding a Frenemy Fix spell on Gnostic Conjure). I can't say that he is wrong---some fool is sure to lose a finger---but I do love the idea of the Frenemy Fix spell (hopefully, I am not the damn fool he was talking about).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The recession is all in your head

Good news everyone! We are not in a recession. The recession was officially over in June 2009.

Just too bad that most of us didn't get the memo.

So why are so many of us still suffering with unemployment, upside down mortgages, and are on the verge of being officially below the poverty level?

Maybe it is all in our heads.

Or at least that is the conclusion that you can jump to if you embrace the Law of Attraction. In a nutshell, the Law of Attraction says that the things and conditions that you focus on the most are what you are going to attract.

Worry about being unemployed, or becoming attract unemployment.

Worry about keeping your attract foreclosure.

Worry about being attract more bills and less income.

Gee, it sounds so simple, doesn't it?

Now, all we need is someone to point out that our economic illness is all in our head, to shout at us to walk it off, and we can all go back to being middle class in no time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stations and duties of the officers of the Neophyte Grade

Hierophant gives the Sign of the Enterer.

Hierophant: Let the number of the Officers of the Grade and the nature of their offices be proclaimed once again, that the powers whose images they are may be re-awakened in the spheres of those now present and in the sphere of this Order, for by names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened.

Hierophant now gives the Sign of Silence.

Hierophant: Honored Hiereus, how many chief officers are there in this Grade?

Hiereus: Three, Very Honored Hierophant.

Hierophant: And what are their names?

Hiereus: The chief officers are the Hierophant, the Hiereus and the Hegemon.

Hierophant: Is there any peculiarity in these names?

Hiereus: They all commence with the letter H.

Hierophant: Of what is this letter a symbol of?

Hiereus: Of life, because the character H is one mode of representing the ancient Greek aspirate; Breathing, and Breath, are evidence of life.

Hierophant: How many assistant officers are there in this Grade?

Hiereus: Three, besides the Sentinel, namely, the Kerux, the Stolistes, and the Dadouchos.

Hierophant: Where is the station of the Sentinel?

Hiereus: Without the Portal of the Hall.

Hierophant: And his duty?

Hiereus: He is armed with a sword to keep out intruders, and he prepares the Candidate.

Hierophant: And his godform?

Hiereus: Opowet, also known as Anubis of the West.

Hierophant: Soror Dadouchos, your station?

Dadouchos: In the South, Very Honored Hierophant, to symbolize heat and dryness.

Hierophant: Your duty?

Dadouchos: I attend to the censer and the incense and the lamps of the lodge, and I assist in the purification and consecration by Fire of the Hall, of the Members, and of the Candidate.

Hierophant: And your godform?

Dadouchos: Neit, also known as Thaum-Êsh-Nêith.

Hierophant: Frater Stolistes, your station?

Stolistes: In the North, Very Honored Hierophant, to symbolize cold and moisture.

Hierophant: Your duty?

Stolistes: I see that the robes, collars and insignia of the Officers are ready before the opening; I attend to the cup of lustral water and I assist in the purification and consecration by water, of the Hall, of the Members, and of the Candidate.

Hierophant: And your godform?

Stolistes: Mut, also known as Auramoouth.

Hierophant: Frater Kerux, your station?

Kerux: Within the Portal of the Hall, Very Honored Hierophant.

Hierophant: Your duty?

Kerux: I see that all the furniture of the Hall is properly arranged before the opening. I guard the inner side of the Portal. I admit Fratres and Sorores of the Order. I assist in the reception of the Candidates. I attend to the Lamp of my office. I lead the mystic circumambulation and make all announcements and reports.

Hierophant: What do your Lamp and Wand symbolize?

Kerux: The Light of Occult Science and its directing power.

Hierophant: And your godform?

Kerux: Anup em Yebet, also known as Anubis of the East.

Hierophant: Frater Hegemon, your station?

Hegemon: Between the two pillars of Hermes and Solomon facing the cubical altar of the Universe, Very Honored Hierophant.

Hierophant: Your duty?

Hegemon: I preside over the symbolic gateway of Occult Science. I am the reconciler between light and darkness. I immediately follow the Kerux in the mystic circumambulations. I superintend the preparation of the Candidate; lead him through the path of darkness into light, and assist in his reception, and I aid the other officers in the execution of their duties.

Hierophant: What does the white color of your robe symbolize?

Hegemon: Purity.

Hierophant: Your peculiar ensign of office?

Hegemon: The mitre-headed sceptre.

Hierophant: What does it symbolize?

Hegemon: Religion, to guide and regulate life.

Hierophant: What does your office symbolize?

Hegemon: Those higher aspirations of the soul, which should guide its actions.

Hierophant: And your godform?

Hegemon: Thmê, also known as Maat.

Hierophant: Honored Hiereus, your station?

Hiereus: On the throne of the West, Very Honored Hierophant.

Hierophant: What does the throne of the West symbolize?

Hiereus: Increase of darkness, decrease of light.

Hierophant: Your duty?

Hiereus: I preside over twilight and darkness, which encompass us in the absence of the Sun of Life and Light. I guard the gate of the West. I assist in the reception of the Candidate and I superintend the inferior officers in the execution of their duties.

Hierophant: What does the black color of your robe symbolize?

Hiereus: Darkness.

Hierophant: Your peculiar ensign of office?

Hiereus: The Sword and the Banner of the West.

Hierophant: What does the Banner of the West symbolize?

Hiereus: Twilight.

Hierophant: What does the Sword symbolize?

Hiereus: Severity and Judgment.

Hierophant: What does your office symbolize?

Hiereus: Fortitude.
Hierophant: And your godform?
Hiereus: Hôr, also known as Horus.

Hierophant: My place is on the Throne of the East, which symbolizes the rise of the Sun of Life and Light--my duty is to rule and govern this Hall in accordance with the laws of the Lodge and Order. The red color of my robe symbolizes Light; my insignia are the Crown-headed Sceptre and the Banner of the East which signifies power and light, mercy and wisdom, and my office is that of the Expounder of the Mysteries. My godform is Osir, also known as Osiris, when I am seated on the dais, and Hôr Wêr, or Horus the Elder, when I am moving on the Temple floor.

Hierophant: The station of the Past Hierophant is to the left of mine on the dais, dressed in red bearing a scepter, and his duty is to guide and support my office. His godform is Osiris when I am not on the dais, and is Horus the Elder when I am seated on the dais.

Hierophant: Sister Hegemon, what is the station, duties and godform of the Cancellarius?

Hegemon: The Cancellarius sits to the right of the Hierophant of the Hall, dressed in yellow robes bearing a wand, and his duties are to maintain the records of the lodge. His godform is Djehoti, also known as Thoth.

Hierophant: Brother Hiereus, what is the station, duties and godform of the Imperator?
Hiereus: The Imperator sits to the far right of the Hierophant of the Hall, dressed in red robes and bearing a sword, and his duties are to ensure that the Temple is obeying the Bylaws set forth by the voting members of the First and Second Orders. His godform is Nebethô, also known as Nephthys.
Hierophant: Sister Kerux, what is the station, duties and godform of the Praemonstrator?

Kerux: The Praemonstrator sits on the far left of the Hierophant of the Hall, dressed in blue robes and bearing a scepter, and his duty is to supervise the ritual work of the Order and to instruct members in its curriculum. His godform is Iset, also known as Isis.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What is up with the Three Officer GD Neophyte Ritual book?

As some of you know I was originally planning on correcting and reissuing my little book containing the Three Officer Version of the GD Neophyte 0=0 Grade Ritual this summer. So what happened? And why did it not get done?

(For the record, I still consider this version Golden Dawn despite what some people say.)

First, Lulu decided to make me add more pages to the book (which is why the revision did not happen earlier in the year). This involves deciding what to add, and then actually writing the pages. People who know me, and other writers, will immediately see the problem with that.

Second, I chose to have a personal problem during the five weeks that were blocked out for the most serious work of the summer season. No writing got done. Moral of the summer season: Morgan Drake Eckstein is still pretty screwed up in the head, and really needs to learn how to write while feeling suicidal.

So no work actually got done on this project…and that might have been a good thing.

Repeat---might have been a good thing.

My original goal for the reissue was to clean up the spelling and grammar mistakes. Then it was to add forty pages…without feeling that the pages were needed.

(The real reason that I needed to add forty pages was that Lulu no longer supported hard-covers for the size of book that I originally done. And Lulu would not let me change the cover style to a paperback---not that I actually wanted a paperback for this…I chose hard-cover because of how much I will abuse a copy of the ritual script.)

Sometime after my personal problem ended (more or less), and it was too late to actually fix this before the winter season, a part of me decided what needed to be added to the book. This is one of those times I get to say, “Everything went wrong, and that was the best thing that could actually happen at the time.”

So yes, my book Golden Dawn Rituals Volume One, Neophyte Ritual, Three Officer Version is going to be reissued. It is just taking longer than I thought it would.

(And if you are really desperate to get your hands on it, there is the promotional preview copy pdf floating around on the internet which will be followed by a couple of other promotional preview pdfs because I know that most people believe that a writer should never profit from writing about the occult, especially if it is about Wicca or Golden Dawn---I will save you the time it takes to scan my book. Just don’t expect them to be exact copies of what is actually being shipped---for instance, the Order name is being changed [long story short---the name my lodge started out with was chosen before we became aware of certain events going on in the Golden Dawn community; back in the nineties, I was told that I was a member of the Hermetic branch; today, we know better].)

Monday, September 13, 2010

To loon or not to loon

Every once in awhile, you hear someone say that XYZ was a loon (fill in the XYZ with your favorite lunatic), therefore they were wrong about some magical or spiritual technique. Personally, I find this to be the biggest cheat ever to prove that someone was wrong. As one of my friends says, "Even an idiot (or lunatic) is allowed to have a good idea occasionally---the trick is to spot and steal it as quickly as possible."

Let me tell you a secret. We are all loons. It is only a matter of how loony we are. Name your favorite occultist...they are a loon. Name your least favorite...they are a loon. In fact, everyone in the world is a loon.

Here is another secret: In the midst of their maddness, every lunatic's world has a logic to it. So when you hear that so-and-so was a loon, and therefore some technique is wrong, you can either wholeheartly accept that the technique is wrong or you can attempt to understand the logic behind the technique.

Often, it turns out that a loon will have completely loony ideas. But every once in awhile, they stumbled across a good idea. And you would have to be a lunatic not to steal a good idea that is not bolted down.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Joke of the day Kosher food shopping

The other day, I am sitting talking to a friend and I noticed that there is a great big kosher symbol on the bag of potatoe chips that she is eating. They were 7-Select potatoe chips. I asked the question that started to creep in my head.

"Did you buy those potatoe chips at 7-Eleven?!"


"Why the heck would anyone concerned with keeping kosher even think about stepping into a 7-Eleven?!"

Ok, my friend had no answer. She is not Jewish, therefore probably does not even understand how difficult keeping kosher is. I am not Jewish either (except by very distant blood), but I do have a glimmer of an idea what it is like to keep kosher.

For one thing, you do not want to eat any pork products...7-Eleven is full of pork products, including yummy delicious fried pork skins. (Ok, I think that pork skins are delicious; I have been told repeatly that I am wrong.) I am not sure what the hot dogs are made of...but I am guessing pork and other associated mystery meats. I do know that they are selling ham sandwiches...with cheese on them. And isn't just walking into such a place unkosher?!

I might be wrong, but I don't see how anyone concerned with whether or not their potatoe chips are kosher can even step into a 7-Eleven.

And yes, as always, you can point out what I am overlooking by leaving a comment in the comment section. I would also like to hear the strangest food item you have seen a kosher symbol on, and/or the strangest place you spotted said item at.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A call for healing

I was once told that funerals are not for the dead, but rather for the living. I believe this to be true. And even if it is not---well, we have not gotten any reports about the dead being upset with their funeral services (or at least, none that I am aware of).

I was thinking about this today. For those who are reading this later, today was the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. As we moved closer to this anniversary, we all watched the news media focus on the actions and words of some blow-hard who is more busy trying to raise funds and be important than we have seen people actually addressing the fact that we are still healing from the 9/11 attacks. I would love to blame this on the editorial rule that if it bleeds, it leads, but I suspect that there is more to it than that.

The whole anger about the Muslim Culture Center is evidence that we still have a long way to go before we are fully healed from the wounds of 9/11. Of course, the news media and politicians are more concerned about keeping us upset than they are about seeing us actually recover from this particular tragedy. Those who are spoon-feeding us information are more concerned with keeping us upset and themselves in the driver's seat than they are about seeing that we actually recover from this act of violence.

If we are going to heal the emotional wounds from this, or at least get them healed to a level that we are not thinking about burning books and people in the street, we need to take our healing into our own hands.

During the days following this particular tragedy, I was rather impressed by some of the local pagan, Wiccans, and ceremonial magicians in the Denver area. Most of them stepped in circle and comforted one another. For a brief moment, the Denver community laid aside its differences and treated the wounded.

The wounded were not the dead; they were the living. Problem is that we only seem to remember the dead on days like today; we forget that we were all victims of this act of terrorism. And most people seem satisfied to leave our healing in the hands of the politicians (including the blow-hard who is more politician than spiritual leader). We need to rethink this policy.

Perhaps we need to think about taking our healing into our own hands. Yes, it will be a lot of work; but if we don't do it, who will?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blogs I am reading 10 September 2010

Yes, it is once again time for another installment of "blogs I have been reading lately."

The first item is not actually a blog post, but I am going to share it anyways.

Republican claims that Girl Scouts breed pro-abortion lesbians

Seriously, you can't make this type of stuff up...or at least, my imagination fails in this department. Having known some former Girl Scouts, I will admit that all of them are strong-willed and stand up for themselves; but off the top of my head, I do not know any lesbian Girl Scouts. As for their pro-abortion stance, I believe that the current Republican definition of pro-abortion is believing in exceptions for abortion on the grounds of medical reasons, incest and rape. Of course, the real issue here is not that Girl Scouts are god-less lesbians who are pro-abortion; it is the fact that former Girl Scouts do not mindlessly vote Republican.

(As always, feel free to yell at me in the comment section.)

Oh and by the way, this politican should know that you should be buying your cookies elsewhere...have you figured out the markup on these cookies? If someone cannot figure that out, perhaps they should not be sent to Washington in the first place. For the record, the high markup is NOT going to stop me from buying a couple of boxes next cookie season; after all, Girl Scouts make great Wiccans and ceremonial magicians.

Pagan Soccer Mom: Inviting a household guardian into your home

You got to love this post just for the picture of Mrs B's household guardian. Personally, I have a couple of guardian spirits around my house. But none as cute as hers---and yes, cute is relative (that guardian willl bite your arm off). My offerings tend to be mugwort and milk.

Mary Greer: Regulating Fortune Tellers

In Warren, Michigan, you must now pay for a ten dollar background check, get finger-printed and pay a $150 dollar annual license fee if you are a fortune teller. In theory, this law is supposed to cut down on the number of scammers in the field (those who charge outrageous fees to cast spells and remove hexes) a friend of mine noted it might be simply that people going to fortune tellers are cutting into lottery sales (the tax against people who do not understand the math of probability theory). I have mixed feelings about this type of law.

Elysia: Witches and Liability

In the vein of the previous mentioned blog post, Elysia (Llewellyn Books acquistition editor) talks about laws and regulations governing fortune tellers. Regarding a rejected tax on fortune tellers in Romania, she notes that the law would have included a provision holding fortune tellers responsible for false predictions. I know a lot of people would love to see this type of law enforced; but as Elysia pointed out, think about where this type of law leads.

"If we [held fortune tellers, witches, and magicians liable for their false predictions], we’d have to hold the medical profession to account (‘false positive’ being an oft-used medical term, of course), then the weather forecasters, then the business journalists, then the high school counselors, then the Las Vegas bookies… everyone who’s ever attempted to make a prediction about anything."

Essentially, all of us (including the non-magical folks) would be subject to fines and jail time...on the bright note, we might have less politicans and doomsday prophets and priests.

The Malkuth of Me: On book burning

In this news cycle, I lost count of how many articles and blogs I read about book burning, thanks to the actions of the loud mouth in Florida trying to convince someone not to open a Muslim culture center in New York City (it is not really near the 9/11 site) by threatening to burn copies of the Quran. This blog post became my favorite because the blogger came out and said that it was ok to burn books provided that you brought them in the first place.

If you are a writer or publisher, think about this. In order to burn a book, someone had to buy a copy of the book in the first place. Maybe we should be encouraging people to burn copies of the books we write. It is not like it is a new idea---Aliester Crowley instructed people to burn their copy of the Book of the Law after reading it only once (I am not sure anyone ever actually did so, but that is what Crowley suggested).

Now, on a personal note, because someone is sure to ask, I believe that it is one short step from burning books to burning people. And I believe that the lunatic in Florida is exactly the type of person who would think that it was a good idea to burn people of my ilk.

(I did mention that you can yell at me in the comment section, right?)

Donald Michael Kraig: Labels, Cults, and Politics

And finally this week, I must mention how Kraig blogged about one of my own blog posts. I would rack this up to it being a slow news day, except that we are in the silly season of politics. Kraig's point was made by the Republican claiming that the Girl Scouts are a breeding ground for pro-abortion god-less lesbians.

In my case, I stand by my blog post (about someone else's blog post and comments made about their post). In the situation that I was talking about, I believe that the word "cult" was the correct technical term (provided of course, that the story being told about that organization was can never be sure when it comes to stories told about Golden Dawn lodges and Orders). I was talking about using the term "cult" in the sense of "your mind belong to us and your decisions are no longer yours to make."

It is obvious that me and Kraig are going to continue to disagree on this issue (as will I and the original blogger, and the organization that he was talking about). But I am glad that both of us managed to figure out a way to blog about the same subject.

(I would tell members of the organization to consider defriending me on Facebook and to quit following this blog, but that boat sailed months and months ago already.)

Anyways, this ends another installment of blogs that I have been reading lately. As always, feel free to leave your poison ink letters in the comment section (I read all the comments even if I do not hit the "publish" button).