Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Occult" versus "Religion": What is the difference?

What is the difference between the occult and religion?

I find myself answering this question, usually not quite so concisely worded, fairly often. The wording is usually more like, "So, by Occultist do you mean Wiccan?" or "You don't actually believe you can talk to spirits, do you?" or "You don't need all that magic stuff, just pray and trust in God." but the essence of statements like these, is the same. A challenge, to explain why to the label of occultist rather than a religious label. But more specifically it seems to be a challenge from the questioner asking if I think I'm better than them or that what I do is more effective than what they do.

I imagine most practitioners of the occult have similar experiences. And most have probably considered those questions themselves. Why do we do magic? Why don't we just pray? What is the difference? And is there even a difference at all? So I will endeavor here, to explain the difference, as I have come to understand it. Your experiences may differ.

Religion is a set of rules to live by, mythology to understand the world by, and terminology to define one's own spirituality with.

The Occult,  on the other hand, is a set of tools to change one's life, meathod of communication to demand answers from the world with, and methods to take an active roll in one's own spirituality.

Those who follow a religion are passive observers in their spiritual world, whereas those who practice the occult have chosen to take an active role in the spiritual world around them and within them.

Occultists don't pray to their gods, they communicate with their gods.

Occultists don't say, "everything has a reason," they demand an explanation from everything.

Occultists don't sit back and hope for a miracle, they create the miracle they need.

The occult is the math of the spirit. To study the occult is to choose to know the inner workings of the spirit, the inner depths of the mind, and the science of spirits. The Occultist chooses to learn how to use the tools of the gods, and indeed take their place among the gods and demi-gods of lore.

My favorite quote from a modern work of fiction sums up my feelings precisely: “It's one of the perks of the job... we don't have to operate on faith. We can know for sure. Don't you want to know for sure?”

That is what the occult is. Religion operates on faith. Occultists operate on experiment and practice to garner true knowledge about the spiritual. Religious adherents “believe” in angels. Occultists talk directly with them. Religion fears demons. The Occult cages them and puts them demands labor from them. Religion interprets the words of the gods. The Occult draws the gods down to ask for clarification.

In short, what is the difference between the occult and religion? Religion is faith. Occult is knowledge.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How to Summon Santa Claus

Fellow Magi,

Tonight, December 24th, two days after the death and resurrection of the sun its self, an ancient and powerful ritual of global proportions will be performed, with the sole purpose of summoning a spirit into existence many centuries old. A spirit universally recognized, who transcends language, culture, geography, and faith. This spectre of good will, whose face is known to all, will be conjured in the largest ritual known to man.

The grimoire holding his conjuration is preserved in many parts across the globe. It is composed of sacred songs, rhythmic chants, whispered secrets, and painted instructions. It is hidden in ritual plays, disguised as popular music, shrouded in children's picture books, and passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, grandparent to grandchild, and magician to apprentice.

The ancient evocation of this grand spirit can be traced through history, and has performed every winter for centuries. From the Nordic Vikings, to the Byzantine Greeks, among the Dutch, the Danes, the Brits, and the peoples of all nations. This great compiled ceremony requires weeks to prepare and is anticipated all year long.

The rite it's self is simple, but powerful, and requires extraordinary preparation. For weeks in advance, men, women, and children the world over prepare the ritual space and create the proper atmosphere to allow the spirit to materialize on this plane.

They sacrifice evergreens and decorate them in effigy of the passing season, dressing them with astrological representations of mythological events, precious materials like those of grimoiric talismans, and historical representations of the conjurer's lives. They adorn the outer temple with colored lights to change the spiritual presence of the working space, erect statuary of the spirit and his traveling companions in honor of his summoning, hang protective herbs on the temple archways, and position lighted pentagrams pointed to the skies. They sing songs in his praise along with other musical invocations of seasonal tales, dress in ritual garb honoring his colors and mimicking his vestments, and perform ritual plays depicting his presence.

Many invoke adepts him into themselves, donning ceremonial masks depicting his image and acting on his behalf, as many more whisper secrets into the ears of his aspecting shamans hoping that he will hear them through those possessed and dedicated priests. And everywhere people of all classes and creeds prepare for the coming of this godlike being, speaking invocations to each other in passing and acquiring material sacrifices in his name. As they approach the hour of this magical rite all are filled with a hush of anticipation as the electricity of building ethereal potential heralds his appearance.

In silence his ritualists light candles and drink libations before setting an altar in reverence. His altar is adorned with offerings of pastries and milk and vegetables for his companions. Then the magic circle is left clear of prying eyes as the ritual gathers its strength and the archon is imbued with life.

The final evocation is performed by more than two billion children separated by seven continents, staggered in forty timezones, begin their evocation chant. With their eyes closed, and pouring their youthful will into the rite, a vast ocean of children chant an invocation in his name, each to their own language, chanting his many names, whispering invocations to the stars quietly in the dark until they drift into trances with images of his presence dancing through their astral dreams. On this night billions of adept mages join in the larges ritual circle possible, to chant and invoke this shared eidolon with more power than any other spirit has been afforded in any other rite throughout history or prehistory.

Tonight, the grimoire is opened, the temple is set, the spell is cast, and spirit will be summoned. The result of this massive invocation? What does this colossal red demon bring his summoners in the dead of night?

Peace on earth, and goodwill toward man.

For this one mystical night all weapons are laid to the side, all quarrels are forgiven, all wars are stayed, and all men and women look at each other as brothers and sisters sharing in this rite. The gift this great father of the season brings his supplicants is no less than the stillness of spirit that has eluded politicians, religious figures, or magicians. He brings us the joy of peace, the spirit of love, and the bonds of brotherhood, we long for.

And we thank this great being, summoned through our sweat, tears, laughter, and sacrifice, for his service to mankind.

Join this seasonal ritual, and tonight, expect your temple to be filled with the spirit we have prepared for. And on the morrow you will see the result of his invocation and share in his joy.

Happy Holy Days, fellow Occultists.

And goodnight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Occult Wisdom or Modern Science: You decide.

I was talking to a friend recently about places where advanced science and occult concepts overlap. Why do occultists still look at outdated modes of thought and "magical thinking" when modern science has obviously "proven them wrong?"

The answer is that modern science has not discounted magical or occultic thinking, it only cautions that testable methods needs to be used in order to confirm theories. And while some sections of science use the occult's un-testable assertions to discredit it, there are other scientific bodies and people still looking seriously at occult and magical concepts.

I just found this video that has a lecture by Michael Persinger, a doctor and neuroscientist at Laurentian University, that covers sort of what we're talking about. Here he discusses an occult concept called the "collective unconscious" or "akashic records," ancient ideas that basically said that all of man was connected and that we could access the memories and knowledge of every other human being past and present by learning how to tap that connection. Here is this neuroscience doctor discussing the science behind that concept. He looks at magnetic influences on the brain during remote viewing, as well as shared memories and thoughts.

Dr. Persinger even shows results from studies where students were subjected to the electrical impulses experienced by a remote viewer and those students gained rough abilities to use remote viewing in testable conditions.

The video is long an academic, but stay for the ride, because from an occult point of view it is absolutely fascinating.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Magical Methodology: Letter of the Craft, or Spirit of the Art?

I have, of late, been working very closely with the Olympic Spirits of the Arbatel and the Planetary Spirits of the Heptameron (as reproduced in the Veritable Key of Solomon, a fantastic book, pick yourself a copy if you get a chance), and this has gotten me thinking (out of both necessity of the operations and academic interest).

I have, until recently, accepted that there seemed very much to be two schools of thought when it comes to ritual magic. The first includes proponents of what I will call "Letter of the Craft" magicians who follow a very rigid interpretation of ancient Grimoires, expecting the practitioner to follow instructions (however convoluted or complex they may be) to their very letter and insist upon that method as the only honest way to perform operations. The second is the "Spirit of the Art" camp who feel that the important part is the will of the magician and all other instructions (however dire and insistent they might be) clutter the magician.

But it has occurred to me that there is a third group which seems to take the worst parts from both (or possibly the best parts, depending on how biased I might be). This group seems to have decided that ancient grimoires include instructions which are unnecessary, however they insist that the magical methods of tradition or of particular orders are absolutely required for every operation, regardless of whether or not they conflict with the instructions of the original source material.

So who's right? That's the question I find myself dealing with. I am unhappy with the rigid structure of many magical systems, but cannot accept the loose philosophy of tossing out unliked instructions, nor can I accept the very strict and often incomplete instructions of some of the source materials. Much of these questions, I suppose, will be solved by experiment and reason.

I just felt the necessity to muse on these for a moment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Musings from the Olympian Spirits

Having just finished a seven day operation designed to petition each of the Olympian Spirits (or Olympick spirits according to the Arbatel), with another seven day follow up component ahead of me, I have a few observations about the Olympian Spirits themselves and about the Operation and its effects.

Firstly, medieval Grimoires seem to have one thing in common: inaccuracy. The repeated copying is probably to be blamed, but I have observed that the copying of sigils, pentacles, and even names seem to have been so sloppy or haphazard so that different copies have images and names that are almost nowhere near related to each other. Lets look at an example, related yet not exactly what I was dealing with:

This is the sigil for the Archangel Samael, found in the Heptameron:
Likewise, in another folio of the exact same book this is his sigil:
Notice some big differences?
Unfortunately it doesn't stop there. Names of spirits are so misspelled so as to make them unrecognizable, one particular section of the planetary spirit conjurations found in the Keys of Rabbi Solomon includes in a list of spirits which has a funny sounding little spirit named "Saday." Skinner and Ranike, in their Veritable Key of Solomon (seriously, pick this book up, you will not regret it) inform us that this is a poor translation of "Shaddai," as in El Shaddai, one of the holy name of the Hebrew God. That little translation issue would seem to turn the mighty El Shaddai to the funny little Saday.

But these kinds of translation and transliteration issues are common in the occult, and most occultists and magi are used to them. The key here is comparison, and being diligent about looking at multiple folios and even multiple grimoires.

But enough complaining, lets talk about the operation its-self.

I have taken a new approach to operations designed for specific purposes rather than for knowledge alone. It has seemed to me that my operations have lacked strength, and after much consideration i decided that they were short on focus and lacked the "all of myself" aspect that makes magick really kick.

My solution?
Working on the principle that anything I desire strong enough to summon forth masters of planetary bodies in order to make it happen aught to be needed on more levels tan just one. My desire needs to be a desire, a need, so deep that it echoes into every fiber of my consciousness and ripples into every realm around me.

So, how do you obtain a need through summoning Olympic spirits? Summon all the spirits and entreat them each for an aspect of your need that relates to their realm.

I'll give a full report of this operation at a future date, but the basics is that I performed an operation during the hour and day of each of the spirits over their seven days of rotation.

And already I have seen reflections of the final result begin to creep up during the week, and I expect the full culmination to happen after my follow up during this week.

The result?

Well firstly I am tired as hell. Hahaha.

Secondly, I am apparently now so well versed in Paleo-Hebrew script that I can spot mistakes in my pentacles before I finalize them and without any text near my to reference (PS: Always check your pre-planning BEFORE you enter your temple!).

Thirdly, I have noticed physical effects in my world. As an example. I woke up early to perform today's operation, grabbed my tools and went into my ritual room. When I returned after some heavy invocation (or evocation depending on your definition), I found that my computer was turned on entirely without my input (mine being the only one available as there is no one else here). Apparently I very much am required to post this before I will be allowed to nap after my operation. I get the hint spirits.

More later, but I'm happy to say that I am seeing indications of the operation working and I have found what I hope is the key to future operations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Magic on the Small Scale

I've been thinking a lot about occult practice in regards to personal transitions. What happens when an occultist has to pickup shop? Close his books, roll up his tapestries, zip his robes into suit bags, wrap up his quarter tablets, and say good by to his permanent outer temple. What then?

When the vicissitudes of life necessitate a certain flexibility of personal property, how does the practitioner of a religious art which basically necessitates the building of holy ground and the equivalent of a church in one's own home cope with the loss of the space and tools necessary to properly perform his art?

This question is probably one that every Magus has faced at one point or another in his existence. We are just as prone to economic, social, and personal distress as practitioners of any other faith or practice.

Understand that I am in no way discounting the Inner Temple, mental practice, “it's all in your head, you just have no idea how big your head is” (thanks Lon) philosophy of magic. However, when a practitioner become accustomed to a certain level of theatricality and high ritual, how is the Magus affected by having to 'settle' for a purely mental or less than ideal magical environment.

As an illustration: While meal supplements can nourish our bodies and be nutritiously valuable, when we are used to meat and potatoes downgrading to liquid protean has to cause some amount of withdrawal and cravings.

So how does a practitioner who has downgraded his Outer Temple cope with the cravings for the grand Temple he was used to? How does he replace the accoutrements of his trade with simple, portable, and affordable substitutions?

I don't quite have an answer yet, but I am considering a few options. The first is parchment. Lots and lots of parchment. Parchment is portable, and can be pinned to walls easily. Does it replace nicely carved quarter tablets, or framed paintings. Maybe not. But it is easily replaceable, and with enough time and investment a Magus can make even parchment tools into personal extensions of his will.

Any other suggestions? Replacements for robes? Temporary tools? Simpler rituals?

Looking for input here :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Binding Baptisms at a Temple Near You

As an Occultist I am often surprised and confounded by the obvious occult and magical traditions and symbols that surround everyday Americans without them even knowing. From the inverted pentagram adorning the vestments of America's most honored heroes (the Medal of Honor), to the simple occult principles that have become mainstays of modern self help literature (The Secret being a reprint of basic truths known to Magicians and Occultists for ages). It often seems that the oblivious masses accept aspects of the occult as normal without ever knowing that they are doing so. They respond to basic sigilization all the time (corporate logos are, of course, nothing but the corporations' ideals manifest as a sigil), they enjoy entertainment with increasingly strong occult themes ("Wizards of Waverly Place" teaches our children that magic is positive and beneficial, and most of the CW's fans wouldn't even know the word Enochian if it weren't for "Supernatural" which also consistently teaches that pentagrams are for protection and should even be tattooed on the body to avoid possession), and many more Americans put stock in horoscopes, feng shui, and The Secret than in any other time.

But even with all these, I am sometimes floored by the occult rituals that pass unnoticed under the nose of even dedicated practitioners of the occult arts. Especially, when it comes to religion.

We, as Occultists, often take a "live and let live" stance with folks of other faiths in an effort to avoid conflict and to not have the spotlight pointed back on us for fear of ignorant retribution (or even just basic 'outing'). But in a few cases, it may be to our detriment not to focus our attention on "the enemy" (so to speak) and their own occult practices. It is no real secret to the academically inclined that modern religion is inundated with occult and metaphysical practices stolen from previous religions or developed by priests with an inclination toward early metaphysical training (remember that most of our medieval grimoires were written by educated priests and practiced with their training and knowledge). But when does the line get crossed from "minor metaphysical practices" to "powerful occult rituals?" At what point does a church's fervor for their own practices override our spiritual and magical freedoms?

The answer can be found within the pseudo-Masonic subset of Christianity: Mormonism.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as "Mormon" because of its founding text the Book of Mormon, Mormon being the name of the guy who supposedly wrote the book), is a rapidly growing church under the Christian umbrella with over 13 Million members in 176 countries. As churches go, it is huge. Unlike most denominations, Mormons are all (with some debatable branch offs) members of, and subordinate to, the same centralized church authority. Much as the Roman Catholic church looks up its rigid hierarchy to the Vatican for word from the Pope on what God wants the church to do, so to do the members of the LDS church look to Salt Lake City, Utah, for their instructions from God through his Prophet, the President of the Church. Currently that position is held by Thomas S Monson, a man just as disturbing looking as Pope Benedict, and the Mormon equivalent to a CB radio to God himself.

The church was born out of a desire by its founder to mix Biblical organization, the church being modeled after Christ and his apostles (read: Monson and his 12 Apostles), and Masonic ritual, its founder being an initiate of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge, as well as Biblical architecture and prophecy, its temples being fashioned after Solomon's and after the Apostle John's description of "the church" in Revelations.

So why should we care?

What about this seemingly innocent (as churches go) faith has any bearing on us as practitioners and students of the occult?

Very simply, the Mormon church can (and probably will) baptize you Mormon without your permission.

Among the beliefs of the LDS church is that any man or woman not baptized Mormon, in a Mormon temple, cannot get to heaven (or rather, the Telestial Kingdom). But unlike many other churches with this same belief, the LDS church has solved the age old question of "what happens to those who never heard the church's doctrine" by simply cutting out the legal fine print and directly baptizing non-Mormons without them consenting or even being present. These baptisms by proxy are supposedly only done for deceased relatives of Mormons. However, Baptisms for the Dead (as they are called) have been the subject of much controversy, as the church has been accused (and proven in some cases) of baptizing deceased persons not connected to the church but submitted on basis of their fame or notoriety. Famously, the church was found to have included in its database names found on lists of Holocaust survivors, as well as Nazi officers, including Anne Frank (famous Holocaust victim) and Adolf Hitler (Nazi party leader). Even further, because the LDS church teaches that only married couples can get into the highest degree of glory in heaven (the Celestial Kingdom), baptisms aren't the only ritual performed by proxy and after death. Marriage ceremonies are also performed for couples who weren't married in the temple originally, and in some cases, who weren't married and may not have known each other at all.

But aside from the incredibly offensive nature of baptizing people who died for their faith, and marrying people who never knew each other, why should we as occultists care? Does it matter what they do with our names after our death (especially if we are related to them)?

The short answer: Yes, it does matter. Because the rituals are binding.

Those of us who practice the occult understand the basic formula of effective and lasting magic. We understand that magicians can evoke immense power through very simple rituals. Magic takes only three things: focused will, whole-hearted intent, and proper ritual symbolism (sometimes not even the later). The combination of occult symbolism, Masonic ritual, and properly prepared priests and participants, makes this practice dangerous and most probably binding.

To understand the concern we need to look at the LDS church and its rituals.

The Mormon ritual format comes from that of Freemasonry, the basis for occult orders like the Hermetic/Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and traditional Wicca. The rituals of Freemasonry follow occult formulae and command the attention of the ethereal laws of magic. Occult orders have always known this and so model their rituals to match (with obvious modifications based on group practice). Masonic ritual mirrors that of medieval grimoires and even that of biblical practices. It uses secret signs, words of power, allusions to supernal truths, mystery plays related to mythology, and kabalistic authority. One has only to read through Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma[i], or Lon Milo Duquette's The Key to Solomon's Key[ii] to see the occult truths held in Masonic rites. While the format has been changed over the years by the LDS church, the remaining handshakes, gestures, and ritual format is still so similar that they are indistinguishable Masonic handshakes and gestures.

Along with the Masonic ritual format, Mormon temples are designed after the biblical Temple of Solomon (also taken from the Masonic tendency to do the same), even including a "Holy of Holies" (that only the President/Prophet can enter). The Temples are designed in the manner of "ancient religious tradition" (according to Frank Moore Cross, Harvard professor of Ancient History), the same source that occult practice insists upon for private "outer temples." It is a separate place set apart for rituals and ceremonies and covenants with God, and everything that goes on in the temple is solely for those who are 'properly initiated' and 'worthy' and is a guarded secret (supposedly because the goings on are too sacred to be profaned by talking about them). Temples are completely closed to the public except for just after being built and before the temple is properly consecrated[iii].

The temple its-self is designed similarly to those of other faiths and is covered in astronomical images (suns, moons, stars). Among the occult symbols on many temples are all seeing eyes and pentagrams[iv]. The temples include a massive baptismal font, consisting of a huge pool being held on the backs of Twelve life size Oxen statues[v].

The rituals take young men and women, who are ritually prepared and physically abstinent from sex, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and fun (sorry, had to), for the purpose of being 'worthy' to enter the temple. Those youths are ritually anointed "on behalf of" a named individual with holy water and consecrated oil[vi]. A note on this: for anyone who doubts these consecrated liquids, I include the personal witness of that consecration, which includes touching the vessel of oil and concentrating upon it while invoking the authority of a deity (in this case Jesus) and giving the oil a purpose (not dissimilar to the consecration of oil in Wiccan and pagan rites). Until about 1990 those youths were stark naked with only an open sided poncho on[vii], but now they are dressed in temple garments, which are special clothes set aside for the purpose with occult symbols on them (specifically a square and compass).

We Occultists know that magic is done through sympathy. We anoint images on intended subjects of a ritual, or use the name of a spirit, both powerful connections to those subjects. Through those connections, rituals can be performed on another without their presence or permission.

So Mormon rituals have all the components of a binding occult rite:

-They are performed in a consecrated place surrounded by occult symbols (Sacred Temples).

-They are performed by ritually prepared participants (unsuspecting virginal youths).

-They follow established occult ritual format (Masonic Rites).

-They are even done in secret and then never spoken of (To Know, Will, Dare, and BE SILENT).

With this in mind, consider now the plight of the Occultist who knows this. Our names can be submitted by relatives after our death (and some say, before) for these rituals. And those of us who understand these rituals understand that the consequences may be that our souls shall be bound to others through Mormon marriage against our will "for time and all eternity" (as opposed to "til death do us part"), and even be bound to the Mormon church for the same! Whether or not they are right. The full consequences can be considered by occultists who accept the idea of reincarnation, and realize that this binding ritual could force you to be with the same spouse (whom you may never have met or fallen in love with) throughout your next lives and throughout "all eternity," as well as being bound to the Mormon church in your next lives. To look one step further, those who believe in their own versions of heaven (Valhalla, Tir Na Nog, Summerlands, etc) might want to be concerned about being pulled away from that eventual restful reward and bound to whatever fate awaits the Mormons (ahhh)!

Consider, that forcibly coercing or binding a person (alive or dead) through magic, is what most practitioners would define as "Black Magic" or "Left-handed Practices." And the Mormon church does this daily, all over the world!

So what's the answer for dedicated occultists, pagans, and others who believe in magic and metaphysical laws? Good question. Personal rite to counteract any binding? Maybe. Formal request to the LDS church to leave us off their lists? Probably not (since they feel they are right, such a request might just add you to their lists because you'll "thank them in heaven"). Unfortunately, I have no answer. All I offer, is the chance for Occultists to view the rites that their 'enemies' may be binding them with.

Just when we thought we were safe from surprise baptisms, this growing religion finds a new and inventive way of converting us "after the fact."

I, for one, am amazed at the audacity of these folks and suggest we begin vicariously baptizing them as pagans (I kid, I kid... maybe).

Either way, if you have family in the LDS church, my suggestion (and it is just that, a suggestion) is that you consider having a serious discussion about NOT submitting your name. Let your wishes be known. Unless you couldn't care less, in which case, this is just an FYI.

(for a step by step demonstration of these ceremonies, and more, take a look at the video listed under iii in my endnotes)




[iv] as well as



[vii] actual ordinance