Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Dec. 12th is The Universe

Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Today

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The Universe

Like The Sun, The Universe brings good blessings. The Universe appears where all is in balance. It allows you to act effectively not only as an individual but as a member of a group too. The Universe promises contentment, fulfillment and completeness to those under its influence. It doesn’t guarantee there will not be moments of strife or discord in your life, but it does indicate that your trials and tribulations will be overcome; that ultimately you will know inner-peace and contentment. The Universe suggests you have found or will find your place in the scheme of things—that place where all is as it should be.

Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for December 9th is Lovers

Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Today

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The Lovers

The Lovers indicates both the most powerful of unions and the most of challenging conflicts humans must face. On one side The Lover’s embodies love and union on a cosmic scale—a love so strong, so inherently good that it actually makes the lovers better, more than they really are. All of the elements are there for the perfect union. The Lovers represent all powerful unions in general, and the elements that create/sustain them. The problem The Lovers face is temptation and the decision to act morally or abandon their ethics to take advantage of other opportunities that would be defined as transgressions.

On the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

On the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

by Tim Maroney

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is one of the chief rituals of Western Magick. It has been with us at least since the Golden Dawn of the nineteenth century, and it has penetrated into all the many Golden Dawn spinoffs, including Neo-Paganism. Yet there is still no widely available, clear instruction. The directions of the magical orders are mere mnemonics for those who are assumed to have personal instructors. To formulate my personal approach to the ritual, to aid any others who may be considering practicing the LBR, and to satisfy the idle curiosity of any gawking onlookers, I have put together this short discussion of the ritual and its symbolism and performance.

A. Intent of the Ritual

The real action of a magick ritual takes place in the mind. Ritual is a form of moving meditation. The effect is also primarily psychological.* The LBR is a tool to facilitate meditation.

[*Not all players would agree with this statement. Many would say that the effect of the LBR is a fortified and cleansed area on the astral plane, which they think is as real as Hoboken, if not more so. It doesn’t really matter in practice.]

The experience of a proper LBR is pleasurable and soothing, yet energizing and empowering. One is made at home in the mystical realm, protected from lurkers and phantasms by strongly imagined wards. This solace from mundane experience is a precondition for more serious works of meditation or ritual, but it can also form a healthy part of the life of the mind by itself.

B. The Ritual

I’ll just reprint the description of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram from Liber O, a publication of the occult order A.’.A.’.

  1. Touching the forehead, say “Ateh (Unto Thee).”
  2. Touching the breast, say Malkuth (The Kingdom).”
  3. Touching the right shoulder, say “ve-Geburah (and the Power).”
  4. Touching the left shoulder, say “ve-Gedulah (and the Glory),
  5. Clasping the hands upon the breast, say “le-Olahm, Amen (To the Ages, Amen).”
  6. Turning to the East, make a pentagram (that of Earth) with the proper weapon (usually the Wand). Say (i.e. vibrate) “IHVH” (Ye-ho-wau*).
  7. Turning to the South, the same, but say “ADNI” (Adonai).
  8. Turning to the West, the same, but say “AHIH” (Eheieh).
  9. Turning to the North, the same, but say “AGLA” (Agla).
  10. Extending the arms in the form of a cross say:
  11. “Before me Raphael;
  12. Behind me Gabriel;
  13. On my right hand Michael;
  14. On my left hand Auriel;
  15. For about me flames the Pentagram,
  16. And in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.”
  17. until xxi. Repeat steps (i) to (v), the “Qabalistic Cross.”

[* Modern scholarship has a different take on the pronunciation of the Big Guy’s name. I use “Yahweh” rather than the “Ye-ho-wau” of Liber O because that’s what the Catholic priests of my youth taught me to say, and I’ve never been able to shake it off. Use whatever pronunciation you prefer, or a different name altogether.]

C. Politics of the Ritual

With practice, you will no doubt come up with your own style of performance, and your own different symbolism for ritual acts. Different people do rituals as differently as actors play parts, even though the lines and motions may be fundamentally the same. (The alternative is an authoritarian, dogmatic horror which is alien to the deep occult understanding of religion, but is still common in magical groups.) Slavish imitation will get you nowhere in Magick  — except, perhaps, to some high spiritual degree!

The Christianity — or at least angelic monotheism — of the ritual  symbolism may give a start to some. Many of us involved in occultism have strongly negative feelings about Christianity. These are perhaps justified, but there are a few saving graces here.

First, as with any ritual, you should feel free to make it yours, to mess around with it. If you don’t start to at least play with the styles of a ritual after a while, you are probably not doing it very well. It is perfectly legitimate to substitute cognate symbols at any time. However, the saying in the martial arts is that one first learns another’s style, and after mastering it, moves on to create one’s own. For a beginner, it will be easiest simply to use an existing ritual form in order to explore the meaning of a banishing ritual.

Given that experience, which transcends any mere set of symbols, one may devise a form more in keeping with the emergence of one’s personal style. For instance, Neo-Pagans use a highly reified form of the same basic ritual in many of their traditions, but with non-Christian deities, spirits, and heros at the quarters. Aleister Crowley wrote a new version which made the performance more dancelike, and used the names of Thelemic deities and officers rather than monotheist gods and angels. My private version, called “Opening the Threshold”, is entirely atheistic and philosophical.

In any case, of those people who so abhor Christianity, how many have looked at some of the practices of historical pagans in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas? No religion should ever be “accepted” by an occultist. When using any religion’s symbolism, the adept should cut to its sacred poetical core and discard the political dross. By this standard, Christianity looks about as good as any other religion. Without this standard and by factoring in historical excesses and power plays, almost all known religions look just about as bad as Christianity.

In other words, someone who will happily use Norse gods, Arthurian heroes, Taoist immortals, Voudoun loas, or what have you in rituals, but will never touch a Christian angel, is guilty of the same narrowness he or she probably imparts to the Christians.

The Vibration of God-Names

In the LBR, the vibration of the god-names “charges” or “enlivens” the pentagrams in the air. This is difficult to describe, but easy to recognize. There is a feeling of presence in one of these charged warding images — though not necessarily a feeling of true externality or separate intelligence.  Weare told to “vibrate” the names. The description and illustration of the “vibration” given in Liber O have been known to mislead people into hilarious postures. What the picture most resembles is the skulking monster from the movie The Mummy. To the modern eye, it is remarkable how truly unclear a photograph can be.  I didn’t learn how to vibrate a god-name until I signed up with yet another occult order and was taught it in person. I wouldn’t wish the ensuing experience on anyone, so here is a description which I hope will be adequate in print.

Vibration phase i — The Sign of the Enterer (1-4)

1. Stand upright. Blow all the air out of your lungs. Hold your arms straight out at your sides.

2a. Close your eyes and inhale nasally, imagining that the breath is the name. The exact nature of this imagination differs from person to person. Thus, you imagine yourself inhaling the name into your lungs.

2b. As you inhale, sweep your forearms smoothly and deliberately up so that your fists rest on your temples.

3. Imagine the breath moving down through your torso slowly, and through your pelvis, your legs, and finally to the soles of your feet. (Don’t do this so slowly that you are hurting for air when the name reaches your feet!)

4a. The instant the inhaled vibrational name hits the soles of your feet, imagine it rushing back up and out.

4b. Simultaneously, throw yourself forward, thrusting your left foot forward about twelve inches (or thirty centimeters) and catching yourself on it. Your hands shoot forward, together, like a diver. You bend forward at the waist so that your torso winds up parallel to the floor.

4c. The air in your lungs should be blown out through your nose at the same time, but imagine the name shooting out straight ahead.

Steps 3-4 are known as the Sign of the Enterer, or of Horus. This  symbolizes powerful active energy. The Enterer should be something of a “rush”. The vibrational name is projected outwards into more tangible manifestation — in this case, in the pentagrams of the LBR, which are charged by the force of the projected god-names.

It is highly inadvisable to omit the portion of step(4b) which reads “catching yourself on it.” But again, I have no desire to infringe on your freedom of choice.

Vibration phase ii — The Sign of Silence (5)

5. Finally, withdraw into a standing position, left arm hanging at your side, right forefinger on lips, left foot pointing ninety degrees out from the body.

Step 5 is called the Sign of Silence, or of Harpocrates. This Egyptian god was mistakenly believed (at the turn of the century) to pertain to silence, because his finger or thumb was touching his lips. This gesture is now believed to be a symbol of childhood; this correction appears in the World card of Crowley’s “Book of Thoth” Tarot deck. Harpocrates was the god of the Sun at dawn, and so symbolizes wonder, beauty, potential, growth. So, step 5 may be done in this academically corrected light instead.

However, the “hush” gesture of the Golden Dawn Sign of Silence is adequate for the modern occultist, even if deprived of A Divine Identification. It is a common gesture, at least in the European culture, meaning silence. Silence perhaps balances the ultra-active Sign of the Enterer better than does the more scholarly positive/active “Sign of Harpocrates the Rising Sun”, and silence is surely no alien concept to mystics.

The Invocation

The pentagrams are given form by the drawing, life by the vibration, identity by the four-part prayer of steps (x) to (xiv). Some people do very elaborate visualizations of angelic guardians on each of (xi) to (xiv). Because of my tragic personal deficiencies, I am content with strong feelings of presence, identity, and divinity in each of the four directions.

A horizontal cross is built up step by step as you say, “Before me Raphael”, etc, with you at the center; and the position of your arms forms a vertical cross, a renewal of the Qabalistic Cross from the start of the ritual. You may feel a quite peculiar rising and expansion when both of these crosses are formulated. One has become the center of the geometry of the space, and it is like a little world in itself, cut adrift from the mundane currents of everyday experience.

Steps (xv) and (xvi) are when the real banishing takes place, during “For about me flames the pentagram, and in the column stands the six-rayed star.” A great pulse of force is emitted during these steps, imposing the personal will on the space and clearing it of all hostile influences.

After this is done, the invoked “archangels” maintain the banishing effect, guarding in all four directions. Of course this talk of angels is all bullshit — the importance lies in the psychological effect. Whether there “really is” an archangel standing there keeping out inimical spirits is not important. The “feeling of cleanliness” is what matters.

Concluding Cross

The final Qabalistic Cross is an affirmation of the completeness and symmetry of the ritual, and also a new self-consecration. This is more efficacious than the previous Cross because it is done in a banished environment.

One is now ready to do a formal invocation, an evocation, a meditation, or whatever the overall purpose may be. The LBR is a preliminary ceremony, although it has a beneficial effect in itself. It can profitably be done as a stand-alone ritual, but you should move on. The LBR should keep away the horrible ickies that turn so many novices away from Magick. Its mastery is a first step to adeptship.

Mystical Pentagram

Mystical Pentagram

Brightstarr, Kathexis

The Mystical Pentagram is a technique which will enhance psychic self-awareness. Practiced on a daily basis it will produce surprising individual results. One of the features of this technique is that it encourages personal development by allowing each entity to discover a personal mantra which corresponds to the five elements.

To begin, you will need a table of correspondences such as “777” by Aleister Crowley. Look up the names of the gods and goddesses which correspond to the air element. Pick a name which when chanted ‘feels’ right for you. For example, Nu is the Egyptian lord of the firmament and corresponds to air. If I were inclined towards egyptian deities, I would chant the name Nu for several minutes to see what effect transpired. If I felt relaxed, comfortable, and generally positive I would inwardly know that this name would be in tune with my inner self. Proceed to find correspondences for fire, water, and earth in  the same manner and finally for spirit since it is the aggregate of the four common elements.

Once you have found a personal mantra or a chant consisting of five names, vowel sounds, etc. You are ready to proceed with the practical application of the Mystical Pentagram.

Assume your favorite meditation position, relax and begin to breathe in a rhythmic pattern; ie. inhale count one, two, three, four, exhale count one, two, three, four and so on. Continue to breathe in such a manner for about five minutes so that a definite rhythm is firmly established.

Visualize the five psychic centers. Memorize their positions so that you become familiar with the positions.

Next visualize a brilliant white light forming a circle above your head in the spirit center. Mentally draw a white light pentagram within the circle of light. This should be an invoking pentagram.

If your mind should begin to wander, gently bring it back and vocally vibrate the mantra you have chosen for the spirit center. Let your mind dwell on this center and intone your mantra several times for at least five minutes.

Next see a shaft of white light radiate down through your skull stopping at your throat near the adam’s apple. See a circle of white light begin to form and pulsate. Mentally draw an invoking pentagram within the circle of light and vocally vibrate your chosen mantra for the air center. Continue to stimulate this center for at least five minutes.

Now see a shaft of white light radiate down through your torso stopping at your fire center. This is located just above the navel. See a brilliant white light begin to pulsate at this center and draw an invoking pentagram within the circle of light. As your mind begins to wander gently guide it back to he image of the glowing white pentagram. Here vibrate your chosen fire mantra. Once this center is stimulated the sensation is unmistakable. A mild tingling or vibration of the solar-plexus area is physically experienced. Continue to dwell on this center for at least five minutes.

See the shaft of white light push down to the water center which is located in the groin area. Here, too, a brilliant circle of white light should be visualized. Again draw an invoking pentagram within the circle of light. Intone the mantra for the water center and repeat the sound several times for the next five minutes.

Having arrived thus far, see the shaft of white light radiate down through your legs stopping at the bottom of your feet which is the earth center. Form a brilliant, white, pulsating circle of light and draw an invoking pentagram within the circle. Intone your earth mantra and vocally vibrate the sound several times during the next five minutes.

When all of the energy centers have been stimulated, direct the light energy from the spirit center to the earth center. As you exhale see the light travel from the top of your head down through your body to the bottom of your feet. As you inhale see the energy travel from your feet up through your body up to the top of your head, the spirit center. These circulations should be persisted for at least seven complete circuits. See the energy cleanse and vitalize every part of your being and expand your awareness to cosmic consciousness. As you continue to repeat this technique each day you will begin to see and feel a change in your psychic awareness and a marked improvement in your health.

Don’t become discouraged if you don’t achieve results immediately. This technique produces very positive effects but they are cumulative in nature. Be gentle with your inner self however you must also be persistent and keep the communication open. It is also a good idea to perform this exercise at the same time each day in order to allow your body cycles incorporate the energy flow in a natural order.

Suggested reading:

The Art of True Healing — Israel Regardie

Energy Ecstasy — Bernard Gunther

Lighten Up – How to Become A Witch in Nine Easy Lessons

In the 1980’s it was fashionable to be interested in the New Age. This is now   a dreadful faux pas within the alternative scene, and in order to be accepted   in the 1990’s metaphysical social set, one must have an interest in   Witchcraft or Paganism. Of course, you don’t have to actually belong to a   coven in order to be thought of as a Witch, you can bluff your way into being   accepted as a fully fledged Witch simply by knowing a few terms and dressing   accordingly. This brings us to…

Rule # 1: Image is Everything. After all, what’s the good of being a Witch if   nobody knows you are one? You must therefore wear black at all times. If   possible, stay out of the sun until you become really pale, as this makes the   effect even better. For women (and adventurous males) dark eyeliner and black   nail polish can enhance this look. Also wear crystals and cheap occult   paraphernalia at all times, and make sure that these are as gaudy and bizarre   as possible, as this can only help your image. Wearing a pentacle around your   neck is an absolutely necessary accessory – the bigger the better! Capes and   cloaks are optional around town – it depends on how much of a visual impact   you want to make, but either of these are also crucial apparel at any ritual   or gathering that you may attend.

Rule # 2: Name Dropping is Good. Every serious student of The Craft (and I’m   talking here about the term for Witchcraft, not macrame) knows the name   Gerald Gardner. This man revitalised Witchcraft in the mid 1900’s with his   book about the true history of The Old Religion (some have called this book   pure fiction, but only those picky few who like books to be based on facts).   Real Witches however, never let historical accuracy get in the way of their   spiritual path, so in conversations with other witches, quote his name as   often as possible (in tones of awe) and you will always be rewarded with   smiles of acceptance.

Rule # 3: Past Life Name Dropping is Even Better. Tell everyone about the   past life memories that have been surfacing since you began studying the   Black Arts. It is especially useful to remember a past lifetime as a Witch   who was killed during the Inquisition, or at least recall a lifetime as a   famous occultist. My past lives have included Aleister Crowley, Cagliostro,   Mandrake the Magician, and most of the cast of “Bewitched”.

Rule # 4: Behave Strangely. Never forget why it was that you wanted to become   a Witch – yes, so that you have an excuse for strange behaviour. Previously   labelled eccentric behaviour patterns can now be accepted by others if they   have a reason to explain it, even if that reason for howling at full moons   while naked is simply, “He/she is a Witch, that’s normal for them evidently.”   So, don’t let your friends down, behave strangely, you can get away with it   now.

Rule # 5: Watch Occult Movies. Make sure that you watch the movie “Warlock”   lots of times to perfect those soft landings after over-indulging with the   flying ointments (read as mead and weed).

Rule # 6: Ready Yourself for Sex, Money and Power. Wasn’t this the other   reason you were drawn to Witchcraft? In the past, adepts of the occult were   known to possess charismatic, lusty and powerful personas – when people find   out that you are a Witch, they may automatically assume (and therefore   empower you) with these same qualities. This may sound pretty good, but   unfortunately in today’s world, another group of people have become even more   established within the realms of kinky sex sessions and unlimited power –   yes, the politicians! Beware of this elitist group of power-brokers… they   don’t want any competition to their manipulative monopoly over the gullible   public – hence the laws against Witchcraft and divination that have remained   unchanged for centuries. So, if calling yourself a High Priest doesn’t lead   you to unlimited sex, money and power – or if it does, but you then find   yourself as the target of political and legal harassment – you may have to   put aside your cloak and broomstick and pick up a pin-stripe suit and a   back-bench in Parliament. If you can’t beat them, try bribery, then if that   doesn’t work… join them!

Rule # 7: Atmosphere is Essential. Your home must reflect your Witchy nature.   Incense must burn continuously. It’s important that visitors see clouds of   incense smoke billowing from a spluttering censer in the corner of your dim,   dank and dusty home, so dismantle the smoke detectors and start collecting   strange little bottles of exotic looking ingredients (use your imagination   and label them with names like powdered bat’s eyes, or dried dragon’s   gonads). And if you don’t like housework, you can explain that the layer of   dust that covers your floors and furniture helps to neutralise the highly   charged psychic energy that results from your magical spells, thereby   protecting your home and possessions from electromagnetic disintegration.

Rule # 8: Be Patronising to Christians. In social discussions don’t forget to   make plenty of derogatory remarks about fundamentalist Christians, but   remember to save your most biting comments for other Witches that you don’t   get along with.

Rule # 9: Brag About Your Psychic Powers. Any self-respecting Witch will tell   you that after their initiation to Witchcraft, their psychic powers awakened   and their tarot cards (which they always carry with them) are now much easier   to read (they now get something right once in a while). They will also tell   you that they can now sense energy fields (in other words, they don’t bump   into things as often as they used to). Follow this example and brag about the   rapid development of your psychic abilities since your initiation. If asked   about your initiation ceremony, simply state that you were sworn to secrecy   about it, then quickly change the subject by mentioning your newly awakened   ability to detect Ley-lines, but try to remember that a Ley-line is not a   queue for the after-ritual orgy!

Now you know how to pass yourself off as a real Witch, so place that   broomstick in a conspicuous corner (one that is not clouded by too much   incense smoke); pull on those black clothes; give everyone that you meet a   sinister look – and your social status will improve overnight. If you do all   of this successfully, you may even find yourself with enough adoring acolytes   so that you can start your own coven! Good luck and Blessed Be!

Fact Sheet on Crowley

by Mandrake

‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’

Aleister Crowley (Edward Alexander Crowley) was born 12 October in the same year as the foundation of the Theosophical Society (1875), at Leamington Spa at 11.30pm. He was therefore a Libran with Pisces moon and Leo rising. Contrary to popular legend, he died on the 1st December 1947. A review in Cambridge University magazine Granta of 1904 provides some guidance on the pronunciation of the great man’s name: ‘Oh, Crowley, name for future fame!/(Do you pronounce it Croully?)/Whate’er the worth of this your mirth/It reads a trifle foully.’

The myth of the magus has grown to prodigious proportions in the half century or more since the old man’s death. Crowley is now firmly established in the popular mind as a folk hero (or anti hero?), transmogrified to an icon on a spectrum somewhere between ‘the sandman’ (Clive Barker version) and ‘the gringe’.

To many, Crowley’s magick (I am using the archaic form of the term as popularised by AC for technical reasons), provides a neat dividing line between some kind of urban high magical tradition and the supposedly more earth centred styles of neo-paganism. The truth is, as always, a lot more complex. Crowley’s magick draws all of it’s power from nature, see for example an ancient Egyptian formula: ‘so that every Spirit of the Firmament and of the Ether: Upon the Earth and under the Earth; on dry land and in the Water: of whirling Air; and of rushing Fire and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient to Me.’ (1)

Crowley spent all of his moderately long life exploring countless dramatic astral and mundane landscapes in search of gnosis. It’s a shame he wasn’t a good enough travel writer to communicate fully in his many books the real majesty of nature. He seemed to go everywhere, from the deepest jungles to the highest mountains of the earth. An account from Jan Fries’ book Visual Magick, amply demonstrates that Crowley never quite lost the taste for the great outdoors and the spirits of nature. In 1925 the mage took the leadership of the ‘Fraternitas Saturni on a long walk up the garden path and into the forest. Whenever Uncle Aleister noticed a remarkable plant, stone or tree, he graciously lifted his hat to greet it. This bizarre behaviour apparently astonished his fellows. Some novices, we are told, dared to whisper “What is the master doing?” “The elemental spirits of nature have come to see the master” was the reply “and Sir Aleister is acknowledging their greeting.” The whole incident including a rather nice ritual is to be found in an article on ‘Pentagramme Magick’ in Praxis (1963).

Towards the end of his life Crowley began to lose interest in the Ordo Templi Orientis and other organisations he had fashioned as potential vehicles for the dissemination of the great work. He met Gerald Gardner and together they may have devised a plan to transform the OTO into a more popular witchcraft cult. Gardner duly bought a charter and rose rapidly through the grades, even travelling to America to meet other OTO initiates. Fred Lamond, one of Gardners first acolytes, recalls that American adept Jack Parsons looked very favourably on the idea of a new witch cult. If Crowley had lived long enough to complete Gardner’s training, modern paganism would undoubtedly look quite different, but that’s another story.

(1) From Liber Samekh, as adapted by Crowley from an ancient Hermetic fragment. The cosmology of the Egyptian original made no sense to Crowley’s teachers, hence his slight paraphase – the original reads: ‘so that every daimon, whether heavenly or aerial or earthly or subterranean or terrestrial or aquatic’.
Crowley Today
Aleister Crowley may have died in 1947, but his influence is still very much felt by the magician of the 1990s. The CD soundtrack The Beast Speaks sold 8000 copies since its release in 1993, and the paperback edition of Crowley’s Confessions was number two in Virgin Megastores top ten books. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the magician of the nineties is a slavish follower or member of some mind bending cult. Crowley’s word was Thelema (The Crowleian pronunciation is Theh-LEE-mah, the accent bewatching on the vowel of the second syllable, Greek speakers ay the accent should be on the vowel of the first syllable for it to be pronounced right….ThEH-lee-mah) – which means [free] Will. Those who choose to follow this magical path aim to de-condition themselves, to develop independence of spirit and ultimately to become their very own self. One of the many attractions of Crowley’s type of Magick, was this advice to follow one’s own way and create your own life style. You don’t need a priest or a judge to tell you how to act – work it out for yourelf.

As part of the process of developing self knowledge, Crowley advocated the practice of Magick. This he defined as ‘the science and art of causing change in conformity with will.’ The history of magick is the history of human beings. Many of the things that are now labelled ‘culture’ began as experiments in ritual and magick viz. drama, music, art, dance, philosophy and poetry etc., etc. Magick has played a role in many key moments of our history, for example during the fourteenth century, it was the philosophy of the Renaissance. In our own time, many modern art movements have been driven by magical ideas, for instance, the first abstract painting was made by the Theosophist Kandinsky. Magick is a valuable and reputable activity to undertake.

Crowley’s Books

Whatever else one can say about it, magick certainly is not a mass activity, neither is it a spectator sport. Magicians are in many localities in a minority of one and have to teach themselves the skills traditionally part of the art viz. trance, divination, invocation and creative imagination. The solitary magician gathers most of his or her information from books and Crowley made a substantial contribution to the vast number of books on the subject. Most of his books are now in print, something like 100 titles. The secondary literature of commentaries and studies, as one might expect after more than 50 years, is very extensive indeed. However there is no need to read everything the master wrote. There are a handful of key texts that should give you a good grounding in the man and his magick.

Sadly, there is still no really objective biography of Crowley. The standard biography is John Symonds’ The Great Beast, (lastest edition of which is entitled King of the Shadow Realm) which records all of the salient facts but is very hostile to Crowley’s ideas and therefore gives a lively but unbalanced picture. Jean Overton Fuller’s Magical Dilemma of Victor Neuburg is slightly more objective and written with much inside information. A modern attempt is the late Gerald Suster’s Legacy of the Beast, which is too short to cover all the facts, and too sycophantic -nevertheless, it is not without value. Gerald Suster also wrote Crowley’s entry in Dictionary of National Biography – Missing Persons (OUP 1993) which is also worth a read. Incidentally, 1993 was also the year in which Crowley made it to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations for the first time with his motto ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’

Several newer biographies have recently appeared, two in particular are worthy of note: Martin Booth, A Magick Life and said by some to be the best of the whole lot: Do What Thou Wilt by Lawrence Sutin for St Martin’s Press.

There is a 2004 reissue of Megatherion by Francis King, published by Creation Press, which was originally published in 1977 under the title The Magical World of Aleister Crowley. There is also an excellent study of Aleister Crowley’s followers in America during the Golden Age of Hollywood, entitled The Unknown God, W.T. Smith and the Thelemites by Martin P. Starr, published in 2003 by The Teitan Press, Inc.

The modern generation of Thelemites, admires something in the spirit of Crowley rather than the word. He could be a interesting writer but as is often the case, the present day re-working of his material is often easier to follow and less peppered by some of Crowley’s offensive cultural baggage. Writers such as Jan Fries in Visual Magick and Jack Parsons in Freedom is a Two Edged Sword, seem to have a better understanding of the magical philosophy for which Crowley was a conduit. However, you will undoubted want to make your own mind up in this, so apart from biography and if you have the stamina his massive autobiography, and the following are Crowley’s principal works.

1. Magick – alternatively called Magick in Theory and Practice -or Book Four. This is his textbook of magick, leads the reader from basic yoga techniques through Golden Dawn type ritual to his own unique gnostic rituals, many of them with veiled sexual content. But beware, this is not a book for the beginner and you might do well to ask a more experienced magician to suggest a study plan for it beginning with Liber O, or even look at some of the secondary literature first. For example see Lon DuQuette’s The Magick of Thelema or Israel Regardie’s Middle Pillar, Eye in Triangle, and others.

2. The Book of Thoth, along with the tarot cards of the same name, is his brilliant study of the tarot, difficult to follow in parts if you have no familiarity with his ‘Thelemic’ imagery, but well worth persevering with. The tarot deck he created with English ‘surrealist’ Lady Frieda Harris, is fast becoming the most widely used esoteric tarot deck in the world.

3. 777 and other Qabalistic Writings. A essential summary of his symbol system, which also contains a reprint of Mathers’ instructional essay on Qabalah.

4. Holy Books of Thelema – all brought together under one cover, including Liber al vel Legis – Book of the Law. The mystical poem that formed the core of Crowley’s magical system. ‘Delivered’ to him by discarnate entity Aiwass during one of the most important mystical experiences of his life.

Crowley’s People

There are a small but growing number of groups, based in this country that work with Crowley’s ideas. The following list is not exhaustive, but gives some of the main contact points. It is recommended that you do not atttempt to join all of them at once.

OTO This stands for Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Eastern Temple). A magical order, based on eastern eroto-gnostic techniques, some derived from Tantrism. Existed, long before Crowley came on the scene but soon became the principle vehicle for his magical work. Has undergone a big revival over the last ten years. Perhaps it is fortuititous that the OTO split into several rival tendencies following the death of Crowley’s successor, Karl Germer. Many magicians feel that magical orders, structured on medieval lines, may not be the appropriate vehicle for Thelema. But as things stand the aspiring candidate must make a choice after investigating and weighing up what both groups have to offer, if anything. In England there are two main groups claiming title to Crowley’s mantle: In other parts of Europe and the world, other OTOs exist and can claim priority. There are currently legal threats flying between these groups, so I hope I get it right.

i. OTO ‘Caliphate’ – BM Thelema, London WC1N 3XX – International HQ: Postfach 33 20 12 D-14180, Germany. More ‘traditional’ if it can be termed so. Uses original OTO Masonic style rituals and charges annual subscriptions and initiation fees.
ii. OTO ‘Typhonian’ BM Starfire, London WC1N 3XX. Ruled by famous occult scholar Kenneth Grant, whose book Aleister Crowley & the Hidden God, revolutionised the understanding of Crowley magick. Ditched the old Masonic style rituals in favour of the syllabus very like the Argentinum Astrum, i.e. individual graded magical practices leading to adeptship.

Non OTO Thelemic Groups
Apart from the ‘OTOs’ there are a number of ‘new wave’ magical groups and orders that are trying to refashion the occult community on more ‘rosicrucian’ lines, which seem more in tune with modern needs. Strict hierarchies, authoritarianism and obscurantism are definitely out. An honest attempt to build a fellowship or sodality of magicians is on the cards. Amongst these are:

Golden Dawn Occult Society
PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP. (email C/O Ogdos@mandrake.uk.net or http://www.uk.net/ogdos.htm. Offers a foundation course in magick and other training to associate members (associate membership is £5 pa.). Is part of a growing network of individuals and groups throughout Britain and all over the world. Online newsletter

Chaos Magic and the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT)
C/O, BM Sorcery, London WC1N 3XX, Another important new style of magick that has developed out of the Thelemic one. Other influences include new physics and European shamanism.

The Kaula-Nath Community (including AMOOKOS). C/O PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP. East- West tantrik groups, founded by Dadaji, one of Crowley’s disciple’s in the 1930s who, on the master’s advice, went to India and became a sadhu. A unique blend of western occultism with authentic magical Hinduism. Has an older equivalent of Crowley’s ‘Law of Thelema’ – viz: svecchacara – ‘the path of ones own will’.

Crowley and the Media
There has been precious little media attention to Crowley, there is still no film or documentary devoted in entirety to Crowley’s life. This situation is changing slowly. In year 2000, BBC Scotland made a short documentary about Boleskine, Crowley’s house on the banks on Loch Ness. The show was called The Other Loch Ness Monster, but the BBC have so far refused to show it outside of Scotland. Channel Four have filmed a more thoroughgoing documentary although broadcast has again been delayed due to editorial difficulties. It will eventually appear as part of a series dealing with occult themes. BBC Modern Times are currently filming a fifty minute piece on serious magick, which will include a fair amount of material on Crowley. There are been one or two short radio pieces and an interesting stage play by Snoo Wilson some time back. Snoo Wilson appeared in a fifteen minute broadcast for UK’s Channel 4 (text reprinted in Thelemic Magick I fromMandrake of Oxford.) Snoo Wilson’s Novel I Crowley, has been published to critical acclaim and should go into production as a feature film. It is based on events at the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.
Obtaining Useful Books etc
Books by and about Crowley are now widely available in UK booksellers such as Waterstones, Borders, Ottakar’s etc. The best selection is still to be found in specialist bookshops such as the world famous Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum St, London WC1, and Watkins Bookshop, 19 Cecil Court, London WC2 4EZ, as well as several others throughout the UK. However, if you don’t live in London or getting to a bookshop is difficult, there are several good mail-order suppliers, including Mandrake of Oxford (mandrake@[removeme]mandrake.uk.net) which is run by and for working magicians. Information is available here on local stockists and sometimes links if you prefer to deal with a bookseller in your own country.

Advice on titles and merchandise is freely available from the Mandrake website clickhere

Love is the law, love under will

Fact Sheet © Golden Dawn Occult Society, PO Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP.

For more info please contact OGDOS C/O Mandrake@mandrake[removeme].uk.net

Wicca

Wicca

 
Wicca is a Neopagan religion that can be found in many English-speaking countries. Originally founded by the British civil servant Gerald Gardner, probably in the 1940s, although it was first openly revealed in 1954. Since its founding, various related Wiccan traditions have evolved, the original being Gardnerian Wicca, which is the name of the tradition that follows the specific beliefs and practices established by Gerald Gardner.repeatedly in his published work of 1954. The spelling “Wicca” is now used almost exclusively, (Seax-Wica being the only major use of the four-letter spelling).

In Old English, wicca meant necromancer or male witch. Some contend that the term wicca is related to Old English witan, meaning wise man or counselor, but this is widely rejected by language scholars as false etymology. Nonetheless, Wicca is often called the “Craft of the wise” as a result of this misconception.It appears that the word may be untraceable beyond the Old English period. Derivation from the Indo-European roots ‘wic’ or ‘weik’ is seemingly incorrect by phonological understanding.Though sometimes used interchangeably, “Wicca” and “Witchcraft” are not the same thing. The confusion comes, understandably, because both practitioners of Wicca and practitioners of witchcraft are often called witches. In addition, not all practitioners of Wicca are witches, and not all witches are practitioners of Wicca.

Wicca refers to the religion. This can be a reference to both the initiatory tradition, where initiates are assigned a degree and generally work in covens, and to Solitary Wicca, where practitioners self-dedicate themselves to the tradition and generally practice on their own. Both Initiates and Solitary Wiccans worship the Goddess, with most also choosing to worship the God, and both celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.

Witchcraft, or as it is sometimes called “The Craft?, on the other hand, requires no belief in specific gods or goddesses and is not a specific spiritual path. Thus, there are Witches who practise a variety of religions besides Pagan ones, such as Judaism and Christianity. It is considered to be a learned skill, referring to the casting of spells and the practice of magic or magick (the use of the “k” is to ‘in order to distinguish the Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits’ (or perhaps just to make it sound better), and was coined as a spelling by Aleister Crowley). To add to the confusion the term witchcraft in popular older usage, or in a modern historical or anthropological context, means the use of black or evil magic, not something Wicca encourages at all.

Does Magick Work?

Does Magick Work?

Author: Silverwolf

Does magick work?

In this essay I will take a look at magick, and examine how and if it “works”. I am using the spelling “magick” as originally created by Aleister Crowley and will base much of my working definition on his original description.

Magick is at the heart of many Pagan practices, and is also a key difference between most Pagan practices and non-Pagan practices. Some may argue that prayer is treated much like magick in some religions, but there are some fundamental differences that I will investigate later. Given the importance of magick, proving that magick either does or does not “work” is a very relevant task.

I am using “works” here in quotes, because I believe that the term itself is somewhat ambiguous. There are two main components to magick “working”: how, and what. The “how” is the basis of what makes magick work. What mechanism causes it to be considered a success? The “what” is the end result.

Ignoring the question of how it works, do you achieve the end results that you desire? If it works by some mechanism differently than what you believe, but still achieves the desired results, is that still “working”? I propose here that it is the end results that are important, not so much the actual mechanism. In other words, if it works for you…then it works for you.

The premise I will start with, and attempt to prove, is that yes, magick does in fact work. That is, it does achieve results. Perhaps not the exact results that are always desired, but most explanations of magick include a belief that magick does not always work all of the time in exactly the way the practitioner wants. In this respect it is very much like prayer, and I am reminded of the old saying, ”God always answers your prayers – but sometimes the answer is no.”

There are three main explanations of how and why magick works that I will examine. The first is that it works through access to the divine. We get a God or Goddess to do our bidding and use our will to control their actions, giving us access to powers greater than that which we ourselves possess… The second option I will explore is that magick works because of basic scientific principles as of yet not fully understood.

To quote Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In this second category I include most of what we think of as supernatural forces today but may well have scientific explanations for tomorrow.

The third option that I will explore is that of the benefits of belief by the individual, and the ability to change yourself and your surroundings based on belief. There are countless examples of people in crisis or those who have advanced training (martial artists, yogis, etc.) and are able to perform feats of control over their bodies that seem impossible. It is exactly in this way that by believing something hard enough, we are able to rise above the limits of our normal lives. In this way, a belief in magick does, in fact, allow us to tap energy that we otherwise cannot utilize and therefore effect a change.

In short, magic does work and it works by one of three methods: divine intervention, supernatural/science, or psychology.

What is magick?

In this essay I am specifically referring to magick, with a “k”. Traditional views of magic involve the action of supernatural beings or deities, the use of specific spells or actions, and particular ceremonies. This is really not so different than the traditional church approach to prayer. So why is magick so different?

Magick, with the “k”, is a term originally created by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) . This was the early 20th century and stage magic abounded as a form of entertainment and mystery. At the same time, interest in the occult was blooming and a number of high-profile occult organizations, such as the Order of the Golden Dawn, flourished. This was a time of Harry Houdini (1874-1926) and Aleister wanted a way to differentiate occult magic from stage magic. To this end, he created the term “Magick” with an extra “k” on the end.

In his book Magick in Theory and Practice, he introduces the term “Magick”. Crowley begins the introduction to his book with quotes from a number of sources including Pythagoras, The Golden Bough by J.D. Frazer, St. Paul, etc. so we see that he drew from many classical sources when creating his work.

Magick, as defined by Crowley, is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.” What is particularly interesting is that the definition does not say anything about divine forces, spiritual intervention, or occult phenomenon. All it really describes is a cause and effect relationship, initiated by the practitioner.

Magick can be applied to anything, from mere mundane activities to chemical reactions, an example that Crowley himself uses. He tells us that “Any required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner through which the proper medium to the proper object.”

Crowley further states quite simply “every intentional act is a magickal act.” This means that anything that we do as a result of our will is an act of magick. Traditional views of magic (k) had assumed a supernatural element. Crowley, however, defines it as any act that we will to happen. In this regard, magick is an act of will that could be carried out by our own physical actions, by our instructions or commands, or even the use of supernatural forces. The involvement of supernatural forces, however, is far from a requirement.

The beauty of Crowley’s magick is that it covers a whole spectrum of forces at our disposal. We use our will directly to make changes in ourselves. We use our will and employ the tools of science to make changes. We use our will and employ the tools of witchcraft to make changes.

To improve our health, we might use our will to exercise more. To travel from Boston to New York we might use our will and the tool of the car that we drive. Magick builds on the use of our will to influence common events in our mundane life, but then adds in the use of our will to control supernatural forces as well.

Others since Crowley have largely followed his lead on what constitutes magick. In his bookThe Mystic Foundation, Christopher Penzcak calls magic (he does not use the extra k) a process of creation. He believes that words have creative power and energy, and are important to the use of magic. Magic is about harnessing and directing energy. Christopher then explains that energy can come from words, thoughts, and actions.

In addition to internal sources, he believes that herbs, metals, stones, symbols and colors are also forms of energy. Magic rituals harness this energy along with the magician’s will to create change. He explains that magic is a science, but it is also an art and a skill. He also proposed that what we call magic today may simply be what is called science tomorrow and refers to Arthur C. Clark’s famous quote about how any sufficiently advanced science will appear to be magic.

Like Crowley, Penczak also believes that magic is part of everything we do and says that we are all doing magic all the time. The difference as he sees it is that a magician is consciously aware of it and uses it as part of his or her personal and spiritual path. He points out that different people call magic by different names: many Pagans use the spelling with a k to differentiate it, but magic is also the same as medicine to a shaman, or prayer to a catholic. Ultimately, Penczak sums it up by saying, “Magic is any change that conforms to a person’s will.” While the words are slightly different, this is exactly what Crowley said as well.

InNatural Magic, Doreen Valiente describes magic (also without the k) as being centered internally. Symbols, tools, etc. are all useful to strike a mood but are merely external aids and the real magic is inside the human mind. She says that, “The only way you can really change your life is by changing yourself.” She, too, then goes on to describe how it is the power of will that causes change – regardless of what paths or energies are used to implement the will.

Many other notable authors from the pagan community have given their own particular spin and explanation on magick, but they all pretty much come down to the same description: Magic is the application of will to effect change. How this change comes about may be simple physical action on the part of the practitioner, or it may involve the use of forces or energies not scientifically understood or explained. It is all about wanting something to happen, and making it happen. In short, being empowered and being in control of your life.

Magick: invoking the divine

Of the three ways of looking at magick, the idea of invoking and controlling the divine is by far the fuzziest. Are there Gods and Goddesses? Are there other supernatural forces? Do we really think that we have the ability to actually control any of these forces? Or at least to request their assistance and have them pay any attention to us?

This is a far deeper discussion than fits within the scope of this essay, for our purposes here we will simply assume that yes, there are supernatural forces of some kind and we can access them for our own objectives. The exact nature of such forces is not important here, but rather the question of exactly how we can access them and direct them.

Accessing a God is quite a common endeavor in human history, but it has often been in the form of prayer. The key difference between prayer and magick is that prayer is a request to the deity to perform some action, whereas magick is a command to the deity to perform a service. In the former view we are subject to the whims of the divine and exist to serve at their pleasure. In the later, we are equal to any Gods in importance, if not in power, and they are available for us to command if we can figure out how. This may sound egotistical, but consider the vast forces of nature that we have learned to harness such as atomic energy. Is it really such a stretch from controlling nuclear reactions to controlling a God?

With prayer, we are supposed to exhibit good behavior (and belief) according to that particular mythology and as a reward we may ask the divine for favors. Of course, as discussed earlier, the answer can often be, “no.” Bargaining with the divine is also popular in prayer trading a promise for future good behavior or some special action in exchange for a prayer being answered.

With magick, we use our will to impose a task on a specific deity. Most pagans and practitioners of magick support a pantheists or polytheistic view and will usually pick a specific God or Goddess that is particularly appropriate for the task. We might call to Thor to be successful in battle, or Aphrodite for help with love for example. Frequently we will employ some sort of ceremony designed to attract and then compel the deity to perform our will.

Magick involving deities is often referred to as “Ceremonial Magick” and is not something that is universally encouraged. Raymond Buckland describes ceremonial magick as dangerous and totally unnecessary. He does support asking the Gods to aid you with power, however, in the “drawing down” of the God or Goddess and bringing a surge of their power into you during a magickal working.

Is it possible to direct the actions of the divine? Or even to ask them for power to aid you in your working? Certainly it is hard to top the power of a God and so if this method works, then it can be very effective. It is extremely difficult to actually prove or disprove that it is possible in invoke deities. There are also difficulties in assuming that this works for everyone or even for anyone. How, exactly, do you control a God?

What happens when someone else directs his or her God to do the opposite of what you are directing your God to do (for example, two people who both want to win the same lottery) ? Will the Gods only obey someone who has enough self-mastery to not want power and riches? There are many reasons why it might be possible for us to command the Gods but still not be able to access this path reliably.

Magick: a force of nature

We have seen examples in popular culture such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings where magick is a force of nature that can be controlled by people with special talents. In these three examples, the person controlling the magic has to be born into it although their powers can usually only be fully realized after training. In this worldview, magic can also be used to create magical objects that have their own power. Here the power does not come from any actual deity, but rather is a force of nature that some people have the ability to tap into.

Accessing this force is usually accomplished through the use of incantations, or tools such as wands that allow the user to focus their own magical abilities and powers. While there is certainly an element of willpower involved in using magic in this way, the right words, tools, or actions are crucial in making the magick work as well.

In The Golden Bough, James Frazer describes a classic view of the use of sympathetic magick, where we can control some target object through the manipulation of a second object. The two objects are linked, or have a sympathetic bond, and that is why action to one also impacts the other one. He then goes on to describe two basic types of this magic: contagious and imitative (or homeopathic) .

Imitative magick relies on the use of something that is similar to the object we desire to control, and assumes that by controlling the one object we can impact the target object. A traditional voodoo doll is a good example of this. The doll is created in a fashion to represent the target subject. By sticking pins into the doll, the theory is that we can cause pain of illness in the target subject.

Contagious magick, on the other hand, relies on the use of objects that have been in contact with the target object. Because they were once in contact with each other, there is a bond between them even when they are separated. Here, too, actions on the sympathetic object can be done to control the target object.

At the other end of the spectrum we can view these forces as scientific, rather than magickal. There is actually a very thin line between the two, and much of what is solid scientific fact today was considered magick quite recently. As noted in section 1, advanced technology is indistinguishable from magick. There is no science today to explain magick, obviously, or it would no longer be viewed as magick but rather as scientific fact. There, are, however, both technologies and scientific theories that point to the possibility of magick or bear a hint of action similar to what we think of as magick.

Let us consider how our will can affect the world around us without normal physical interaction. The brain creates electrical impulses during normal operation. It has not been shown that these weak impulses are capable of acting in any way on the surrounding environment, but they are there nonetheless, and are being broadcast to the world around us.

We cannot show that these affect anything, but we can prove that at least they are receiving the signals. It proves that there is at least a vehicle for our brain to communicate in a non-physical way with the world around us.

Quantum physics has been over-blown badly and many false conclusions drawn by people who understand only a little bit of what they have read about quantum theory. However, there are phenomenons in quantum physics that seem similar to some of our concepts of magick.

Entanglement, for example, tells us that two particles that are once entangled with each other will thereafter continue to reflect each other’s state even after they are separated by a great distance. While this does not prove any actual magick, it does show us how two objects, once connected, can continue to share a bond even after their separation. This is the same basic concept as contagious magick and shows that at least the idea of two objects sharing a remote bond is now in the realm of scientific theory.

Einstein once even went so far as to call this “spooky action at a distance”. Unlike brain wave activity, which is a measurable fact, it is important to remember that quantum entanglement is still part of a theory and while it is actually measurable as well, why it works is still being debated.

These are merely two examples where science has shown us mechanisms that demonstrate similar concepts to those proposed by classical magick theory. This is a huge step towards providing a scientific explanation for magick itself, or at least for making the more scientific among us to pause and consider before simply dismissing magick off-hand.

So if we believe some forces of nature support that magick, whether or not they are supernatural or scientific but unknown is a meaningless distinction. Clearly there are still many things that are unknown, and clearly there are things that are today labeled “magick” that may well be science tomorrow. This is a topic that has occupied entire books and this is, at best, an introduction.

One point that should be made, however, is how magick can exist when magick doesn’t work. Harry Potter can reliably and repeatedly make something happen once he has learned a spell. Witches in the real world often come up with mixed results at best. There are many ways to explain this and it does not in any way eliminate the possibility that magick exists.

Why can’t I win the lottery through magick, for example? Well, if we think of magick as our tapping into basic natural forces, do we not suppose that everyone else who bought a lottery ticket is doing the same thing, to greater or lesser degrees?

In this way, we are all countering each other’s magick. Unless we can assume that our magick is so much more powerful than everyone else’s combined, which seems unlikely in practice (Charmed or Bewitched notwithstanding) , we cannot force that outcome. It would be like a rowboat trying to steer an ocean liner. There is much more to be said on this topic, but the point of this example was merely to show that magick could, in fact, work quite well and still not work for us in any given situation.

Magick: tapping into psychology

The third explanation that we will look at is the value of magick through psychological results. This is different than the general understanding of magick as involving something supernatural, but is a legitimate explanation. What we are trying to examine here is whether the belief in and performance of “magick” creates results. If we go back to our definition of magick as being the application of will to effect change then we can argue for a wide variety of actions as technically being magick. In order to make magick really interesting, however, we should assume that in order to really be magick, the end result needs to be something that would not otherwise have happened without the use of magick.

With this requirement I mind, we can fairly easily look at magick as enabling us to control at least our own mind and body, and to a degree that we do not normally have. This could be anything from stopping smoking or losing weight to success in love or our career. If we are looking at psychological reasons for magick working, we can rule out looking at things that we are not actively involved in. If magick works because of psychological reasons, we can control ourselves to a heightened degree directly but that also will have an impact on our immediate environment.

In the case of stopping smoking or losing weight it is “just as simple” as getting the will power to stop smoking, or to eat less and/or exercise more. As anyone knows who has tried to do this, this can be easy to say and very difficult to actually do. We need to overcome actual addictions as well as deeply ingrained personal behavior. Using magick to achieve these ends is not unlike using self-hypnosis. The power to make the change is entirely in our control, we “just” need the will power to make it happen.

Impacting our environment can also largely be a matter of effecting change in ourselves. If we can make ourselves more productive at work, we will probably be more successful. If we can change our own behavior to be more attractive to a partner, we can improve our love life. These are cases where we can essentially change the behavior of others by changing our own behavior and therefore changing our relationship with them. As we change, and our relationship changes, their behavior towards us will then change as well in response. Here, too, we need to make the change in ourselves first, and these changes may be very difficult because again they may run contrary to a lifetime of habits or personality.

The power of positive thinking is not just a sound-bite, but it is a well-documented and studied fact. People who are optimistic are able to achieve more than people who are pessimistic. While this sounds like common sense, studies have shown that people who believe they will succeed are not just “more motivated”, but are able to actually tap into more physical and mental energy than others who believe they will fail. If you think you will succeed, you will actually be able to work harder.

Beyond the basics step of merely going faster, further, longer, or harder, there are many documented stories of the ability of people to tap into inner strength that is not considered normal. There are many stories of people who have prayed or willed diseases into remission, who have tapped into super-human strength to save a loved one, or even just to walk on hot coals without suffering burns. These actions are the result of achieving a level of control over the human body that we do not normally have. Here, too, the key is to convince ourselves that it can be done.

Self-hypnosis provides a framework for making changes like this, and the techniques are actually very similar to what we do in ritual when casting a spell. Key to the effectiveness of self-hypnosis is our own belief that what we wish to achieve is possible. If we do not really believe it can be done on a sub-conscious level, we can never convince ourselves to make the change. While it is probably mandatory to believe in order to direct the actions of a God, or to marshal supernatural forces to our will, it is absolutely crucial to believe in order to create change within ourselves.

While this explanation of magick involves the mundane instead of the supernatural, nevertheless it is also a path to extraordinary results that have been absolutely proven. If you convince yourself of results, you can change your behavior and even tap into extraordinary, but not supernatural, abilities. This limits the potential reach of the results of magick, but it also gives an absolute, proven path to results.

Magick in this case provides the enabling action to reach these goals. In order to convince ourselves that we have made the change, something has to happen to act as the agent of change. We do not simply wake up one day and say, “today I will stop smoking.” That is rarely, if ever, effective because we know that we are no different than we were yesterday when we were still addicted to smoking.

There needs to be some event that we can use to convince ourselves that this change really will happen. Magick, and a magick ritual in particular, provide us with the event that will allow us to convince ourselves that change has occurred. Because we believe that the magick is going to work, it does in fact work.

While it is actually our own mind that is making the change, we are unable to do it without the event that convinces us. I believe in magick, therefore the magick is going to work. I have now convinced myself (especially on a sub-conscious level) of the success of my effort, and therefore I am able to achieve the desired results that I could not have achieved before. It is not the magick itself that makes the change in this case, but rather our belief in the magick that makes it work.

Magick vs. prayer

In section 3 we briefly touched on the differences between magick and prayer. The main difference, as we mentioned, is that prayer is based on asking God for a favor, whereas magick is based on you using your will to make things happen. Even in the case where you are working with a deity, you are telling that deity to do something for you, not asking.

Beyond the differences in approach, and the differences in execution, this also reflects a core difference between paganism and mainstream religions: where control of your life ultimately lies. Paganism places your life in your own hands – you are responsible for what happens to you and for making life what you want. Mainstream religion places ultimate responsibility in their God’s hands. You can only control your life to a certain point, and beyond that it is “God’s will.”

Of course, there is a down side to having this control as well. You, and only you, are responsible for your life. You can’t shrug it off and blame your problems on God. Yes, the world may have plans for you, and you may have a path that takes you in a certain direction, but you can also take control of your own destiny through an act of will. This is the use of magick – to provide control of your life and your destiny.

Things may happen to you that you don’t like, but at no point do you have to sit back and accept that. While giving you control, however, it also takes away the comfort of being able to blame your problems on “God’s will.” Stuff happens, some of it bad stuff, but not because it is part of “God’s plan”.

Having said that, prayer can still be effective. If you believe hard enough that God is going to answer your prayers, you can approach the same mindset of confidence that is used to drive magickal workings. Certainly if you believe that your prayers will be effective, you can at least convince yourself and therefore gain the benefit of positive thinking. Whether or not that person’s God does really exist, prayer, too, can end up having a positive impact.

Magic for everyone

Ultimately, the question of why magic works is an academic exercise and really not relevant. The important thing is to decide that yes, in fact, magick does work. Exactly why it works is not important. The key elements are that magick does work and that it is a product of our own willpower. This is what and how, and to use it that is really all we need to know. Few people understand exactly how a cell phone works, but they are able to use it quite effectively nevertheless.

It is important to understand how to use magick, obviously, in order to get results. It starts with a will to cause an effect. Whether it’s our brains or cosmic forces or Gods that make it work after that is not important. What is important is that we can make it work.

Wayne Dyer wrote an excellent pop self-help book about using magick titled Real Magic. My description of his book is in no way meant to be derogatory. “Pop” as in “popular” or “popular culture” is actually an asset. If you want to study the history and details of magick as a scholar then by all means, head for the more serious and scholarly authors.

If you simply want to use magick to change your life, then read Wayne Dyer (or others like him) who reduces the practice to simple, will-based techniques. If you believe you can change your life, then yes you really can change your life. But it has to start with will. This is the essence of self-help. Only you can perform magick for yourself. It is driven by your strength of will, no one else’s.

Wayne Dyer’s approach strips away the trappings of mystical magick, and obviously avoids the Crowley spelling, and places the techniques of magic in common life. His approach is based in large part upon meditation and visualization: both very sound and proven techniques, and ones that are important fundamentals for any magickal practice. This simple form may not be for everyone, and part of your own ability to tap into your own magick may well require the trappings of ceremony and ritual in order to help focus and control your will. What works for you…works for you. How to best focus your will is going to vary from person to person and is something you will need to work out for yourself.

Caveats

There are a few caveats that bear discussing when it comes to magick. While it is true that Magick requires faith and belief to work, this is a double-edged sword. If you believe that you can achieve something through magick, then you are certainly more likely to achieve the end result because of your belief. It is also, however, true that if you believe you cannot achieve something because of magick then you are certainly going to be far less likely to achieve it. This could be because you believe someone else’s magick is blocking you, it could be because you do not believe that the magick is going to work for you for whatever reason, or it could be because you believe that magick cannot help you achieve your objectives. Belief in failure is just as damaging as belief in success is rewarding.

Belief must also be reasonable, and you must make sure you do in fact use the right tools. If you work magick to get a job but do not actually apply for the job, think of how much more effort the magick needs in order to make it happen. Always use every tool at your disposal when working magick. There is a lot of truth I the old saying “God helps those who help themselves.” If you are not willing to put in the effort required, why should the magick do it for you? Don’t pick ridiculous goals for your magick either, or goals where you know you are going to be pushing up against many other people’s magick. Winning the lottery is a good example of this – everyone who buys a ticket is pushing against the outcome – some are more powerful than others, but your own magick would have to be incredibly powerful to overcome all of those counteracting forces.

Finally, there are things that magick should not do. It is not a favor to prolong the life of a terminally ill person who is suffering. That is selfish, not helpful. Magick should not be used to bring about results for the wrong reasons, and should not be used on people who do not want its help. What you want may not be what others want, and it may not even be good for them. You cannot decide whether your unwanted actions will end up for good or bad, and you are robbing someone else of their free will. Magick should only be used for people or on people who want the help and agree to it. Otherwise, leave them to their own path.

Conclusion

I started out by making the claim that magick does work – for everyone. An explanation of exactly how magick works depends on whom you talk to, with a number of different beliefs and explanations. The main explanations given by practitioners typically involve either the harnessing the power of a sentient God to do your will, or the access to supernatural powers. Essentially the same as supernatural forces are scientific forces that we do not yet fully understand. Ultimately, however, the mere fact that the practitioner believes in magick makes certain that, at least to some degree, the magick will unquestionably work. Because belief in success does, in fact, increase the chances of success by drawing more effort and energy out of the believer.

Magickal workings are an attempt to influence events and make changes in the world according to your will. These results are in relation to you and your place in the world, so making a change in yourself (by increasing your energy) will obviously have a change in your environment as perceived by yourself.

Ultimately, how magick works becomes less important than the fact that magick does work. The only requirement, however, is that you must believe in magick for it to work effectively. That’s the key, and the only thing that is needed to unlock the power of your will. Just like when Peter Pan tells us that Tinker Bell will die if we say we don’t believe. But if we believe, then Tink will live.

Without belief, Magick dies, but with belief, a whole world of possibilities is open to us. To use another children’s story as an analogy, “The Little Engine that could” makes it up the mountain only because he believes that he can. Children know these things, and these stories resonate with them. Sadly, as we grow older we are taught to learn boundaries and restrictions and once we find out that magick is not real and not possible, then, in fact it does become unreal and impossible.

 



Footnotes:
References:

Crowley, Aleister. Magick: in Theory and Practice. Castle Books, 1970 (originally published 1929) .
Penzcak, Christopher. The Mystic Foundation. Llewellyn, 2006
Valiente, Doreen. Natural Magic. Phoenix Publishing, 1975
Buckland, Raymond. The Complete Book of Witchcraft. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2007.
Frazer, Sir James. The Golden Bough. Macmillan, 1922.
Aczel, Amir. Entanglement. Plume, 2003.
Keith, William. The Science of the Craft. Citadel, 2005.
Vaughan, Susan C. Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism. Harvest Books, 2001.
Hogan, Kevin, and LaBay, Mary Lee. Through The Open Door: Secrets of Self Hypnosis. Pelican Books, 2000.
Dyer, Wayne. Real Magic. Harper Collins, 1992.

Light a Candle, Cast a Spell

Light a Candle, Cast a Spell

by Melanie Fire Salamander

In Northern European societies, Imbolc or Candlemas traditionally fell at a time when, with the end of winter in sight, families used the animal fat saved over the cold season to make candles. I don’t butcher stock, and I’m not planning to render meat fat to make candles, but I like connecting with the past through candle-making. And though the days are longer now than at solstice, they’re still short enough that a few candles help.

To further your magickal purposes, you can make a spell candle for Imbolc — a candle into which you imbue a particular magickal purpose. Once you’ve made and charged your spell candle, you burn it over time to further your intention. I find spell candles particularly good for goals that require a period of continued energy to manifest, for example a new job, and for things I desire recurrently, for example peace and harmony for myself and the people around me.

Also, Imbolc is traditionally a time of initiations, of divination and of all things sacred to the goddess Bride, including smithcraft, poetry and healing. To align with the season, consider making spell candles dedicated to these ends.

You can make two kinds of candle, dipped and molded. For spell candles, I’d recommend molded candles, so you can include herbs and other ingredients that wouldn’t mix evenly with dipping wax.

Things you need

  • Cylindrical glass container or containers
  • Paraffin-based candle wax
  • Double boiler or other large pot in which to melt the wax
  • Wick
  • Scissors to cut the wick
  • Popsicle sticks (tongue depressors), one per candle
  • Metal tab to anchor the bottom of each wick (a heavy paper clip will do)
  • Crayons, old candles or candle coloring for color, if desired
  • Small objects appropriate to your spell
  • Herbs appropriate to your spell
  • Scent appropriate to your spell

For your molding container, the best thing is the used glass from a seven-day candle. You can find seven-day candles all over, including at Larry’s Market. The Edge of the Circle Books has them, or check your local pagan store.

You can also use glass tumblers, jelly jars and the like. The larger the container, the bigger the possible candle and the longer it will burn. Seven-day candle containers have the advantage of having a good candle shape, so that the flame easily melts the wax at the sides of the glass. To accomplish your purpose, ideally you’ll burn the entire candle, leaving no stub, which is easiest to do in a container shaped like a seven-day candle’s. Make sure also that the glass of your container is fairly thick.

If you do use a seven-day candle, you’ll need to clean out any remaining wax. To do so, heat the glass in a pot of water to melt the wax. Be sure to heat the glass with the water, rather than introducing cold glass into boiling water, which might break the glass. You’ll need a bottle brush, detergent and some concentration, but it is possible to clean these containers.

Candle wax can be found at candle-supply stores and craft stores. It comes in blocks of two pounds each; the smallest amount you can buy is more than enough for several candles. For wick, again you’ll need a candle-supply or craft store. Lead-based wick, which has a thin thread of metal covered with cotton, is easiest to work with, but you can also use pure cotton wick. The popsicle stick, a craft store or drugstore item, is used to anchor the wick at the top of the candle.

If you do use a seven-day candle container, and the tin tab at the bottom hasn’t disappeared, save it. Such a tab anchors the wick to the bottom of the glass, making sure the wick lasts the length of the candle. If you haven’t saved the tab, you can use a heavy paperclip or buy the real thing at a candle-supply or craft store.

The remaining ingredients depend on the intention of your spell and should have associations appropriate to that intention. None of these ingredients is required — you can make a spell candle by simply making and charging it, or by charging an ordinary candle. However, as with any charm, the more energy you put into in its creation and enchantment, the stronger the spell. I give some ideas for ingredients following; for a full list of associations, check your favorite table of magickal correspondences, or see The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk; Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, by Scott Cunningham; or Aleister Crowley’s 777.

The easiest way to color candles is to melt crayons or old candles with your wax. To get a strong color, use more colored wax. Don’t mix colors, or you’ll end up with a muddy brown. You can also purchase candle coloring at a candle-supply or craft store. For color symbolism, check tables of correspondences; as always, your personal associations and preferences are the strongest and most resonant. Some common associations follow:

  • Red: Lust, passion, health, animal vitality, courage, strength
  • Pink: Love, affection, friendship, kindness
  • Orange: Sexual energy, earth energy, adaptability, stimulation
  • Brown: Earth energy, animals
  • Yellow: Intellect, mental energy, concentration
  • Green: Finances, money, prosperity, fertility, growth
  • Blue: Calm, healing, patience, peace, clairvoyance
  • Purple: Spirituality, the fey, meditation, divination
  • Black: Waning moon, release, banishing, absorbing and destroying negativity, healing
  • White: Waxing or full moon, pro-tection, purification, peace, awareness; good for most workings

Probably the most common small object to add to a spell candle is a written expression of intention. Candle makers often add semiprecious stones; you can add a stone appropriate to your intention, for example sacred to a deity who rules that area of life, or personally connected to you, say a birthstone. Depending on your spell, other small objects might suit. If you’re doing a spell to invoke the peace of the ocean on a still day, you could include sand or seashells. A candle to draw love might include small cut-out hearts, one to draw money pieces of dollar bill. Note that any added objects should ideally be flammable, or if not flammable small enough not to prevent your candle from burning.

You can use herbs suitable for incense to further your spell. Use herbs you can safely burn indoors. Herbs may make a candle smoke and can combine with the wick to create a large flame, so use them sparingly. Also, herbs tend to clump at the top and bottom of the candle, often producing a stub at the end that’s hard to burn. However, herbs are easy burnable ingredients to add in line with your intention, and if you choose the right herbs they’ll smell good. For lists of herbs, try any incense-making book, such as Scott Cunningham’s The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews or Wylundt’s Book of Incense. To make sure your herbs smell sweet, burn a pinch first.

Both the preceding books also discuss scents, which you can incorporate also. For a strongly scented candle, you’ll need to add perfume. It’s best to use candle scent, found at candle-supply and craft shops, or synthetic perfume oil. Essential oils are volatile and break down in the wax, leaving your candle with no scent at all.

The candle making processAs with any spell, start by considering what you want and what symbols represent your goal. Likewise, as always, don’t try to compel someone who hasn’t consented. Remember that what you do returns to you threefold.

Start by collecting your ingredients and planning your candle-making for a day and hour appropriate to your intention. Imbolc this year falls just after the full moon, so for spells of increase you might want to wait till the moon turns. Or phrase your spell to release something negative. If you need money, banish poverty. If you want love, banish loneliness.

Give yourself a few hours to make your candle or candles, during a period when you’re unlikely to have your concentration broken. Just melting the wax alone, depending on the volume melted, can take from 15 minutes to an hour. You’ll be using the kitchen, so make sure you’ll have it to yourself or that any visitors will be attuned to your purpose.

First, melt the wax in the top of your double boiler. If you want all your candles to have the same color, add the crayons or old candles now. You can use a single pot if you’re willing to watch the wax closely — you don’t want it to burst into flames. Break the wax into small chunks beforehand, so it will melt faster. Heat the wax over medium heat, but don’t let it boil. If you want candles of different colors, you’ll need to melt the crayons or old candles separately, then add clear wax to about the right volume in the pot and mix before filling your containers. Add candle coloring according to package directions.

While the wax is melting, pad your working space well with newspaper, because you will almost certainly spill some wax. Make sure all your ingredients and tools are handy. If you have herbs in unmanageable sizes, for example whole rosemary stalks, break them down so the pieces are a size to burn without becoming small bonfires.

Once the wax is fully melted, turn the heat low and let the wax cool till the wax on the sides of the pot starts to set, at approximately 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooling the wax a little helps prevent the creation of large air bubbles in your finished candle.

Now you’re ready to start forming candles. I usually cast a working circle at this point, calling my patron deities to witness, but without a lot of tools or formal setup. You can work as elaborately or simply as you like. However, I would recommend making the candle with focused intention, as well as charging it later.

Take a moment, then, to focus your concept of your goal. You might create a running mantra to repeat through the rest of your candle-making, or consider an image or group of images to help you concentrate. Be sure to state your intention simply and firmly. If it seems appropriate, write your intention down.

First, if you want multiple candles with the same scent, or you’re only making one candle, scent the wax now.

Next, cut a wick for each candle. The wick needs to be as long as your candle container, plus several inches. Thread the end of the wick through the metal tab or paperclip, or other object appropriate to your spell — for a money spell, you might anchor the wick with a folded bill. Then, drop the weighted wick-end to the bottom of the glass container. Making sure the weighted end sits flush on the bottom and the wick stays as straight as possible, wrap the other wickend around a popsicle stick and set the popsicle stick across the mouth of the glass. Make sure the wick-tail is in the center of the candle-to-be. The more centered your wick, the more evenly your candle will burn.

If you’re using unleaded wicking, pour a little wax around the tab at the end, then let it harden firmly. Then gently stretch the wick taut, and rewrap the top around the popsicle stick.

Next, add the nonwax ingredients to your candle. Drop your folded written intention, if any, and any other objects into the bottom of the candle glass. As each falls, imagine it adding strength to your spell. You can add herbs now as well, or you can add them to the top after pouring, if you want them to float down through the wax and be distributed through the candle.

When your objects and initial herbs are in, pour the wax. Pour evenly and slowly, and try to make sure your wick stays in the candle’s center. If you want to add herbs after pouring, do so directly afterward. If you want to scent a candle singly, now’s the time.

The next part is the really hard part — set the candle out of the way, and leave it alone! It will take up to an hour to harden. You can continue to meditate on your purpose, set up an altar to formally charge your candle, or take down your circle for the time being. You might want to check your candle in this interim period, as the top’s center may form a depression, which you can top off with melted wax. To this end, keep some wax melted.

When your candle’s solid, cut off the extra wick at the top, leaving about a half-inch.

Next, energize the finished candle with your intention. Cut your circle and call any deities or spirit helpers you like, if you haven’t yet, and restate your purpose. Then raise energy in your chosen manner. When the energy’s at its height, send it into your candle, then ground any excess into the earth, keeping what you need for yourself.

Finally, burn your candle. One of the great things about burning a candle in a glass container is that you can keep it going night and day in relative safety. Make sure, however, that the candle is in a place where no human or pet can knock it over, and where no combustible thing can fall across it. Also, at the end of the candle’s life, you might want to burn it while you can watch; it’s during the last inch or so that the glass will break, if it’s going to. Either way, just in case, burn the candle on a nonflammable surface, say an earthenware plate or a tile floor.

If you don’t want to burn your candle every day, burn it on days appropriate to your spell. For example, burn a love candle on Fridays, a day sacred to Aphrodite, Freya and other love goddesses. Again, tables of correspondences can help you figure appropriate days, or you can determine them astrologically. Or you can burn your candle when you feel particular need.

Ingredients for different intentions

If you can’t find or don’t like any of the following ingredients, by all means cut them, substitute or better yet create your own recipe from scratch! The stronger the associations for you and the more personal your candle’s creation, the more effective your candle will be.

  • For divination and psychic work: Purple coloring; a small image of an eye, for far-seeing; lemongrass, sandalwood, cloves, yarrow and a pinch of nutmeg; frankincense scent
  • For protection: No coloring; basil, vervain, rosemary, St. John’s wort and a pinch of black pepper; vetiver or patchouli scent
  • For healing: Pale blue coloring, bay, sandalwood, cedar, carnation, lemon balm; eucalyptus scent
  • For peace and harmony: Pale blue or lavender coloring; lavender, meadowsweet and hops; lilac or any light floral scent
  • For inspiration in the arts: Yellow coloring; a small image of a lightbulb; a piece of amber; bay, cinnamon, lavender, orange peel; scent of bergamot, or any citrus scent
  • To attract love: Pink coloring; small silk or candy hearts; rose petals; jasmine scent
  • To attract sex: Red coloring; sexual images; rose petals, ginger, damiana, ginseng, a vanilla bean; musk scent
  • To attract money: Green coloring; a folded bill or shiny dime; dill, lavender, sage, cedar, wood aloe; oak moss, vetiver or patchouli scent, or some combination of these
  • To get a job: Green coloring; a topaz or turquoise; pictures of tools you use in your work; bay, lavender, cedar, red clover, nutmeg; orange scent, or any citrus scent

As you make and burn your candle, attune to the season as well as your intention. Now is the time to ask Bride for inspiration and to light a new flame, beckoning the longer days to come.

 

MAGICK AND WITCHCRAFT

MAGICK AND WITCHCRAFT

A number of other occult disciplines are prevalent

today besides magick. There are many cults and sects which

profess their own views, but there are really few differences

between them. One popular area in the occult today is

witchcraft. This is far removed from the cliche of devil

worship. Real witchcraft is a nature religion (pagan).

Witchcraft has much in common with magick.

Alchemy also has much in common with magick. It’s

heritage comes from the middle ages. Alchemy fathered

chemistry and the physical sciences. But the avowed purpose

of alchemy, turning lead into gold, is too limiting to be

called magick. Sometimes the goal of alchemy is interpreted

in another way, as the transformation of man into a spiritual

being.

Then there are the numerous modern day seers or

‘pychics’, as they like to be called, who operate within

their own somewhat unique systems. Although many of these

people are deluded frauds, some are very powerful occultists

indeed.

Of course, everything I have said here is a

generalization. Magick, witchcraft, alchemy, or any occult

field are complex subjects. Suffice it to say that magick

includes them all (it is eclectic). For magick is undoubtedly

a philosophy which has, as the late Aleister Crowley wrote,

“The method of science — the aim of religion.”