Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poltergeist and Psychokinetic Phenomina

The movement of physical objects by spirits or psi. 

This topic has come up a few times this week. Over at Augoeides, Scott is discussing it in the context of evocations and whether it has a role or not. On another private list it was discussed in the context of spellwork. In my personal life, it became an issue this week at my house within the context of exorcism. 

Some magicians do not believe it exists at all and have never witnessed it. 
Some have witnessed it and think it is a distraction from real work. 
Some have witnessed it and feel it is a sign of accomplishment.
Some would go so far as to say that without it, your magick is failing. 

My view falls into both the middle categories. 

I have witnessed it, many times in fact. Everything from lights blowing out, to physical objects moving of their own volition. So clearly, while I respect the right of people to doubt what they have not witnessed, for me, the debate over its reality is a non-issue. If you are looking to me to convince you, than you are wasting your time. I could care less about your belief in it or not. 

In the last category, folks like Lisiewski claim that unless spirits are shaking shit up in your temple, than you arent really succeeding at an evocation. A comment on the same topic by Golden Dawn Hermetic suggests asking the spirit to move a  physical object as a test of the spirits reality.

Now, very often evocations of sub-lunar spirits are accompanied by physical phenomina. In my experience, most angelic evocations are not, with the exception of Enochian "angels", which is a different ball of wax. That said, I do not see the physical phenomina as a good test. . Its a good test that you have the attention of something, but not necessarily the spirit you are looking for. The dead for instance are WAY better at creating physical phenomina than demons are  

It it true that you should not just rely upon feelings and sensations, which is why I stress meditation so strongly in my teachings. If you are adept at meditation, you will be able to tell your thoughts from outside thoughts.

I also disagree that every evocation needs to be performed to the extent that physical manifestations are present. Once you have done a few of these and have proven the reality of the evocation, you start working with the spirits in a less formal way. Forcing them into as full a manifestation as possible just to ask for something simple or update a situation that they are working on is like requesting an employee take a cross country flight for in in-person meeting just to tell them something you could have said in a phone call. 

In most cases where physical phenomina accompanies an evocation, I usually ask the spirit to knock it off, not move more shit around. 

In the context of spellwork, whether it involves particular spirits or not, I tend NOT to view physical manifestations of power as a sign of success. I remember a few years ago doing a ritual with a group of witches to effect a certain event. The ritual was accompanied by several manifestations, from items jumping off altars, to sudden flare ups in the candles. This was all viewed as a sign of accomplishment by most there, but turned out to actually be a sign of misdirected energy. We had a lot of mojo, but not a good path for it to travel along. Its like hooking up a great stereo with crappy speaker wires. 

As for being able to move specifric objects with the mind at will, in my youth I spent some time focusing on it. I got decent at directing things already in flux such as objects floating in a pool of water or clouds or other such things. As for heavier physical objects, I moved a quarter about a quarter inch once. I could never manage it again. Maybe I will give it another try, its been about 15 years or so...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ora et Labora

It's yard time again. 

I hate yard time. 

I hate yard work.

I even pretty much hate having a yard. 

As a kid, I was shanghied just about every weekend into helping with a never ending landscaping project in my parents backyard. Not just the normal mow the lawn and pull the weeds type crap, but things like chopping down a line of trees, pulling all the stumps, installing ponds, etc etc. 

I hated every minute of it. 

I am left now with such a deep rooted neurosis about yard work that I literraly cannot rake the yard without getting angry. Even if I am only out there for an hour, it feels like a lifetime. It's a problem. 

Many spiritual paths seek to find all the neurosis and poisons of the mind and route them out one by one. Renounce the bad, reinforce the good; that kind of thing. Sutrayana is all about that kind of work. In general as a Tantrika and Dzogchenpa I don't worry about all that. You can spend lifetimes doing it, and I dont have that kind of time. In Tantra and Dzogchen you are never that far from enlightenment, you just need to wake up to it. The individual neurosis and habitual patterns will all take care of themselves spontaneously and effortlessly. 


Sometimes one of those individual neurosis is a stickler, and you justr cant get past it. 

Even in pure Dzogchen, most teachers give students a handful of tantric empowerments to work with as tools in the toolbox. If you go to a Namkhai Norbu retreat for instance, evem though it is focused on Dzogchen, at the end of the retreat he usually gives out a battery of ja-nong's short empowerments to work with tantric beings like Simhamukha, Garuda, 21 Taras, Guru Drakphur, and so on. They give these not so that you can work that dieties higher spiritual path to enlightenment (tod-lay), you are doing that through Dzogchen. They give them so that you can use the (mad-lay) or magick, some of which is geared to overcoming obstacles both inner and outer. 

Getting back to the yard work, I am going to start blending it with spiritual practice. Repetative manual labor is a powerful spiritual tool if done mindfully. Gurdieff was known to have people that attended his Priory spend about half their time digging ditches and such. It is also a big part of the monastic path in both Buddhism and Christianity. Ora et Labora is said to sum up Benedict's rule: pray and work. 

I am hoping that by attaching some mantra work and formless meditation throughout my time taming the yard that it becomes less odious. 

I doubt it though. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mystical Tymes

Last night was the first of another battery of monthly classes at Mystical Tymes in New Hope. I hadnt lectured there at all this year and was looking forward to getting back. When I was there in December the place was practically empty and looked like it was on the verge of closing. There were also issues between the main owner and the main employee that eventually led to a parting of ways that was less than amicable. 

When I returned yesterday I was expecting to find the store perhaps a little better off than in December, and possibly even a little worse. 

I was shocked. 

The store is filled to the brim! Having once helped run a family business that eventually failed I can tell you its not easy to bring a business back from the brink, but Eric did it and did it well. 

The herbs are fully stocked.

There are more statues (of cooler stuff) than I have ever seen in there. 

Small size Reversal candles

So, I wanted to just let people know that if you have been avoiding the store because it was declining to the point that it wasnt worth the trip, you should get go check it out. Eric is in great spirits, the shelves are filled, and of course... I am teaching every second tuesday of the month. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Waterslide

When approaching the Tree of Life as a map of an initiatic journey, most modern CM groups taking a que from the GD follow the Flaming Sword pattern which takes them through the 10 spheres in a specific order. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how the Sangreal Sodalities "Office of the Tree of Life' works all 22 paths, rather than focusing on just the spheres. This is IMO far superior because the paths are necessary bridges between the powers represented by the spheres, and if you only hit the ones covered by the Flaming Sword you will not work them all. Most modern CM people I tell this too get a look of astonishment on their face as if they had just been told a great secret, but its right there on the map. If you werent meant to work them, than what they hell are they doing there?

So within the context of our Sodality as a group, that is how we work them. That is not however how I worked the tree. 

I advocate my own pattern for working the tree. I call it: THE WATERSLIDE.

The waterslide kabbala advocates the view that the pillars of mercy and severity have far more to do with manifesting spirit into matter than matter ascending into spirit. 

On a waterslide you typically climb a ladder or staircase that goes in the most direct way possible to the top of the structure. Once at the pinnacle of the structure you can choose any number of slides. Some will straight shots right down as fast as possible. They get the job done,suddenly or shockingly, but you have to keep your legs closed or you will hurt your nads, or if you are a woman, loose your bikini top. If you ever rode the Kamikazi at Action Park, you know what I am speaking of. Other slides will be twisty and slower, but more fun. Some will be tunnels that eve, go completely underground (the cannonball at action park). 

Crowleys book of the Law was right in pointing out that there are only three real grades. 
1. Those that have set foot into Yesode to see the world beyond conventional perception. 
2. Those that have entered Tiphareth and attained the K&C of the HGA, know their True Will. 
3. Those that have crossed the Abyss and know reality as it is. The non-dual gnosis.

These can all be attained by using the central pillar; the stairwell that leads to the top of the structure. This is the pillar used by Mystics who yearn for"union" or "enlightenment" or "Gnosis". Esotericists who are more concerned with mapping the trip than they are in reaching their destination are trying to climb up the slide rather than take the stairs. Note with the exception of the path from Malkuth to Yesode, that flaming sword pattern avoids the central pillar of the tree almost entirely. WHY? It leaves the paths entirely when crossing the abyss. 

I say take the stairs. I have climbed up a slide in the past (worked at six flags GA for years as a kid) and I can tell you its not all that fun. Once at the top you can look down and choose whatever slide to get back down to Malkuth that you want. Best of all, you can quickly run back up the stairs in your soaking wet bathing suit and slide down a different one. 

If you really want to make that map, its a lot easier from the top. There is a saying that all paths lead to the same place. Experience has taught me that this is false. Most paths don't lead anywhere. Sadly you wont realize this until you get to the top of the structure and see the slides. 

Like the tree of life, don't take this metaphor to literally. The tree of life is not a place. Its a map, and truth be told, its sort of a shitty map at that. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meeting withVajranatha

I met up with Vajranatha again in Philly last night along with the rest of the Philadelphia Ngakpa Sangha. He is putting the finishing touches on a translation of something that I just can't wait for. I just need to set some time aside to do it. It takes a minimum of one full day, but is really meant as a three day thing. I participated in it before in Pharping, and of course had the basic sadhana part translated, but this will be the first time all the "action" parts are translated into english. 

It is so cool having access to one of the worlds top Lotsawa-Lamas who is also conversant in western magick. Before talking Tantra, he whipped out Pete Carrol's newest book which everyone at the table could take turns panning. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

To wrap up this little soapbox...

I just wanted to wrap up this series of posts on multiple systems, labels and such. 

Though I am all for it, I also agree with RO's assessment that more often than not people wind up juggling to much and gain a shallow knowlege of many things rather than a deep knowlege of a few. This manifests in all kinds of crazy ways from the pathetic systems of "Thelemic Buddhism" that are out there to the terrible open circles at Pagan gatherings where rather than call one diety or even one pantheon, the game seems to be cramming as many gods and goddesses as can possibly fit. 

I once met a woman that claimed to be Wiccan and worshiped Jesus and Kali as the God and Goddess. It was beyond silly, and whats worse, she knew almost nothing about either. 

I wrote a post about this a couple months ago, but to re-iterate some advice:

1) If you are approaching a system with the intent of really working it do not assume that knowlege of one system applies to them all. Do not interpret what you are learning in one in the light of another UNTIL you have attained a certain level of success in a system on its own terms. 

2) If you are seriously working a system, than work only that one. If you are in the Golden Dawn and want to study Vajrayana, you need to freeze your progress in the GD until you have a really good handle on Vajrayana. It took my 5 years to get there, and that was with constant tutoring and personal attention from one of the best translator/teachers in the field. You can and should continue to maintain your vows and connection to the trad by keeping a small daily practice, but you can't really activly do both. 

3) It is OK to dabble a bit if you do it smart and have a competancy in a core tradition. You will know when you are at that point. Much can be gained by studyng just the Kamamudra yogas or Dream Yogas or whatever it is you want to play with. Just remember that you are borrowing tech to use in your system, not mastering the one you are dabbling in. If for instance you are a Thelemite and learn some sex magick techniques from Tantric systmes, that does NOT make you a Tantrika.

4) Focus on dabbling in technques, NOT symbol sets. If you are hardcore Gardnerian and want to expand the magick you do by learning Bardons elemental breath techniques or the Breath practices from the Bonpo MaGyud than I respect that. If however you want to keep doing essentially the same magick, but just switch out the gods and goddesses to be more exotic, than just stop. At best you are spinning your wheels, and you might just get hurt. 

In short. By approaching the quintessence of the art that exists beyond any one tradition we can expand our view to methods from traditions other than our own. The manner in which we do so however must be smart and respectful. 

Thus ends this two days of posts on the subject. 

Onto more practical things tommorrow like the magick of makeing sandpiles and using the tree of life as a water slide. 

Freezing in time

Gordon Finn asked the following about the last post:

What is so wrong with saying there are old traditions and there are newer ones based off the older ones and saying they aren't the same?

Good question, which is why the answer gets it's own post.

Whats wrong with the view is that it arbitrarily freezes something in time and declairs it the true tradition. Look at the work of Joseph Lisieski: he more or less picks a moment in the Renaissance and declairs it the pinnacle of magickal tradition. Everything before it was building up to the magick of that moment, and everything afterward was a degradation of the true tradition. To this end he has people attending Latin masses, stealing leftover eucharist from church garbage and all kinds of nonesense. 

Why that time? Do we have any evidence that the magick of that period worked any better than any other time? No. There were no teleporting and flying mages gettting mad rich off the gold made by the philosophers stone. There are stories about incredible things, but there are stories from any period. Hell, there are even some stories about little old me that arent believable. 

In Tibet, the Gelugpa and Sakyapa were did exactly the same thing. They wanted to re-capture the Buddhist Tantra of India that had been wiped out by the turks. Anything written in Tibetan was new-fangled crap. 

The problem in both these cases is that its museum keeping, not magick. Magick grows and evolves with the times. To a large extent, the idea of individual traditions is a grammatical fiction. They dont really exist because the people that originated them would have given their eye teeth to interface with people from different traditions that they could borrow from. In fact they did. 

Look at the Papyrii which can be seen as one of the prime roots of both the Western Grimoire tradition AND the various traditions of Witchcraft. Do you find a clean homogonized tradition? NO! You find a clusterfuck of religio-magick that draws on everything from Christianity, Judaism, Egyptian Paganism, Greco-Roman tradition, and a hundred other things. Look at any one of those elements and you will find a similar conglomeration of elements. Its like putting matter under a microscope; what may appear as solid and whole is really made up of millions of individual parts and a whole lot of empty space. 

Now, make no mistake, I appreciate people digging into the past of traditions and recovering the babies that were tossed out with the bathwater. People like Frater R.O., Aaron Leitch, Skinner, and Peterson are doing an immense service by recovering parts of the western mystery tradition that had been abandoned by Levi, Mathers, Wescott, and Crowley.But that doesnt negate the contributions of those four. cat yronwode is doing similar recovery work in the field of Hoodoo, recovering parts of the tradition that had been killed from slavery, racism, and the impact of pharmacutical companies*. That doesnt negate the work of everyone that did something new or synchretic with Hoodoo.

When things that were forgotten in a tradition are recovered or re-emphasized, it should not be seen as a turning back of the clock, but rather yet another new development in the continuing evolution of the art. 

*In the old days, rootworkers would get their herbs from the same places that doctors would. When drugs started to become synthesised in a lab, various occult vendors and african american cosmetics companies started supplying herbs for magick. They were less than dilligent about really suppliying what was asked for by their clients, instituting a policy that yronwode terms "green for green, brown for brown".  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

To Put It Another Way...

In a follow up e-mail to my posts from yesterday I re-explained it like this: 

If Trithemius or Agrippa came accross a Muslim Magician, Indian Tantrik, or Taoist Alchemist they would not worry at all about sticking to their own tradition, being true to their egregore, or some other nonesense like that. They would pump their informant for all the information that they could get, and use it to enhance their understanding of what they were doing. They didnt view it as some kind of system amidst other equally valid but separate systems any more than science views different models as inherently non-compatible. In their minds they were doing science. 

It is a pretty universal truth that magicians, contemplatives, and mystics from varying traditions often get along better with similarly minded people from other traditions better than they do non-magicians/contemplatives from their own traditions. Because they know they are all just interfacing with reality. 

The interface of systems that is enabled by modern modes of travel and information technology is one of the strengths of the age if you use it right. 

Hack Reality

Engineer Probability

View Truth directly

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quote for the last post, and for POS

“Every thought grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle to those who search.”
-Gregory of Nyssa-

Labels, Laser Focusing, Big Pictures, and the Futility of Maps PART 2

Now, as I said, POS described me as a " Christian, Buddhist, Hoodoo-man, Magician, and Witch".
Truth be told, if he wanted to, he could have added: Tantrika (Buddhist doesnt necessarily covey that), Bonpo (a big one, since my main Tsaway Lama is Bon), Bokor (I have done lots of work with the Loa over the years. I hold no formal initiations into Haitian Vodou, but only because Papa Legba won't let me...), Khabbalist (all the Sangreal work we do is based in Khabbalah), and even Psychic (I do a lot of my magick using nothing but the gifts I have been given, not channeled through a system at all.)

Thankfully he did not describe me that way. 

Here's the thing: when I was coming of age, nobody was a trad-focused as they are now. Every member of the OTO was into non-Crowley things. Every Gardnerian I knew also loved ceremonial magick. Most wiccans in the area used a bit of Hoodoo in their work (think magickal childs formularies). Nobody was under the impression that their tradition had all the angles covered. Magick was just magick. Traditions were important, but in the end tech was tech. 

Than came Chaos Magick. Chaos Magick fucked the whole thing up. 

Chaos magick took the view that magick was beyond tradition and twisted into meaning that tradition didnt matter at all. It was all in the mind of the practitioner and Scroodge McDuck would be just as good as Jupiter if you believed in him. In fact the Chaotes argued that Mr Spock and Superman would be better than Mercury and Mars because they were more "real" to modern society. Sadly, the Chaos magicians confused attention with belief, and thought that psyching yourself up to "believe" something before a ritual was just as good as approaching with genuine faith. All sacredness was lost, as was any attempt to actually dig into the writings of the past and make an attempt to figure out what they were actually trying to say. 

Thankfully, other than a few hangers on, Chaos magick is mostly dead. 

As a reacton to its excesses came people that became laser focused on recovering the magick of the past and focusing on one tradition with near exclusivity. While I am not one of these folks, I love them deeply. 

Frater RO defends his laser focus on the Grimoires and their Hermetic roots, by noting that he only has time to understand that tradition in depth. He also notes that a lot of what he does ends up looking similar to what someone in Hoodoo or even the Himalayas would recognize anyway. Because tech is tech after all. It is easy however, to end up with wide knowlege of many traditions rather than deep knowlege of one. More does not equal better, in fact it usually equals worse. I agree completely. 

I am deeply thankful for the people with laser focus on a tradition. RO sticks to one thing and does it well. Cat Yronwode will not tolerate any non-hoodoo chatter on her hoodoo list, and I am glad she doesnt. Most Lamas work within Tibetan Buddhism only. Most in fact work only within one school, or even sub-school of it. I am most grateful for these people, they make great informants. I am grateful for them, even though I am not one of them. 

Why am I not one of them?  Two reasons. 

The first is that I have been doing this a long goddamn time.Over 20 years I have learned a lot of stuff. I do not believe in conversion from one thing to another. The Hoodoo that I learned when I started hanging out in Lakewood, did not supplant the two years working through Modern Magick and Franz Bardon - it expanded upon that knowlege. The five years that I spent doing Tibetan Buddhism exclusivly did not usurp the previous 8 that I spent learning western magick and hoodoo - it put it all into a new focus and deepened my undertanding of it. 

The second reason is that, to borrow a Krishnamurti quote, Truth is a Pathless Land. My first exposure to magick was not through a tradition at all. It was through reality itself. The ultimate truth and the ultimate power lie beyond the barriers of any specific tradition, and my fealty lies with truth, not with tradition. No tradition has it completely correct, and at this stage of human evolution, no tradition CAN have it completely correct. Individuals can perhaps (and thats a big perhaps) get it right, but we simply lack the tools to articulate it in any way that is completely true. You might disagree with me on this, but you would be wrong. 

At a certain point, the tradition becomes the obstacle to the truth, and the sage advances in spite of his tradition, not because of it. 

The trick is discovering when you arrive at that point. Abandon tradition to soon and you will be lost to delusion and fantasy. Hang onto it to long and you will spin your wheels endlessly. 

Lables, Laser Focusing, Big Picture and Futile Maps PART 1.

On Easter Sunday I was hanging out in the backyard of POS and MyGal's pad when he took a call from one of the locals about the classes that I was teaching that night. Apparently the caller didnt know much about me and asked POS what my deal was. POS than told him something along the lines of "he's a Christian, Buddhist, Hoodoo-man, Magician, and Witch".  

The caller must have asked how I could possibly be all those things - a perfectly reasonable question. If someone described someone else like that I might ask the very same question. Truth be told, the answer made me cringe a bit. I don't mean that as a criticism of POS's answer; even to me, I sounded like a dilletant or a flake. If I am going to continue to grow as a semi-public figure, I really need to come up with something snappy to answer that question with. 

Part of my cringing is that he started the chain of descriptors with "Christian". It's true I consider myself a Christian after a fashion, but what that means to me is so different from what that means to 99.99999% of the world that I am not comfortable with it as a descriptor. I do not believe in the literal resurection, and even if I did, I do not believe that salvation is dependent upon faith in it. I do not accept Christ as "the only son of god". I do not even believe in God as a being outside of the universe. I do not believe in God as a personality that gets deeply involved in the lives of people the way that most Christians do. I would not even really say that I am in any way married to the idea that Christ existed as a historical person at all. So, while I find meaning in the current of Christianity, and juice in the apostolic lineage, and much sympathy with the moral teachings, I am hardly a Christian in the way that everyone would think of . 

I went through the same thing with the term "Thelemite" several years ago. It means something to me: the legend of Thelemia in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is what I see as the key to that understanding. Gargantua and Pantagruel expand upon the idea. Crowley's Book of the law does as well, but there is much there that I diverge from. I in no sense consider Crowley a prophet on par with Christ or Buddha or anyone that important, nor do I find him one of my most major magickal influences. Unfortunately, the term Thelemite does mean that to most people, so its not a useful descriptor for me. It was easier to just reject the descriptor than explain all the caveats every time someone introduced me as a Thelemite. I have come to the conclusion that Christian is pretty much the same. 

If people that are not asking for occult reasons ask my religion, my reply is Buddhist, cuz that is my core discipline, and my ever-evolving spiritual views are closest to the view of Dzogchen, and Tibetan Dharma is general.  For instance, my kids will be raised Buddhist, with some Christian traditions and holidays thrown in explaining Christ as a sort of Bodhisattva. 

As far as the other labels go, I think we need a second post to deal with that. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I got my copy of "Emergency" by Neil Strauss. 

I was a big fan of his books "The Game" and "The Rules of the Game". Why would a married dude be a fan of these books apart from the entertainment? Because I enjoy anything that teaches the art of living with skill. To me its part of magick. Even if you are honing your Theurgical wisdom and your Thaumaturgical prowess, you are missing a big part of the equation if you arent applying the same determination to how you live the rest of your life. 

The cultivation of skill in both mundane and magical arts is what my new book is all about. At the end of the book I recommend readers draw from books like The Game, Your Money or Your Life, and The Four Hour Work Week  as they do from traditional magical texts. 

I have only read a few pages, but I can see that I need to add "Emergency" to the list.

Here are a few chapters from Emergency that Time Ferris, author of Four Hour Work Week, put up on his Blog as a preview. 

In a similar vein, on the plane to Cali, I read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Fantastic Novel filled with hacker goodness. I bought mine, and you should buy yours, but you can listen or read it online for free if you would rather

A Big Thank You

I wanted to issue a big thanks to Everyone that came out to see my talks in CA this weekend.

Special thanks to the folks as Crystal Barn for practically putting my name up in lights and to Witchdoctor Joe and family for introducing me to Churizzo and Eggs.

Super Extra Special Thanks to Frater BH and MyGal for treating me like something between a visiting rock star and dignitary. Your hospitality and kindness was above and beyond. I thank you for it.

I am working now on getting out for a San Fran to Fresno mini-tour sometime in the fall when the new book is out and the twins are stable.

I had a great time, and have ideas for at least a dozen blog posts generated by the questions and conversations that I participated in.




Friday, April 10, 2009

Phurba Clarification, and update.

Just to be clear, the bit about demons materializing and mamo's posessing people on the plane was a joke. 

Kilaya practitioners have a vow to carry a physical phurba with them, its mostly a reminder of the internals of the practice, but it also has its practical purposes hearkening back to the days of wandering yogis and village Ngakpas that would be called upon to do all sorts of things. 

It's all moot anyway as looking through my altar for something I found a phurba that is soft and signifcantly duller than a pen, so the airport should have no problem with it as carry on. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I am gonna feel naked without my Phurba

I am packing for tomorrows journey to Fresno. 

Since I am only going for the weekend, its silly to check a bag, but I just realized that I wont be bringing my Phurba. I dont have a necklace sized one, I usually bring a real one wherever I go. 

What if there are demons on the way that take physical manifestation? 

What if someone on the plane becomes possessed by a Mamo? 

I am fucked! 

Maundy Thursday Meditation

"Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos"


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cagliostro's Rituals Published

Can't wait for this to arrive....

The Masonic Magician By Philippa Faulks, Robert L D Cooper

Count Alessandro Cagliostro was a cult figure in European society in the tumultuous years leading to the French Revolution. As an alchemist, healer, and Freemason, he inspired both wild devotion and savage ridicule, becoming the subject of novels by Alexander Dumas, a drama by Goethe, and Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. But Cagliostro’s sincere belief in the magical powers, even the immortality, of what he called the Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry made him dangerous enemies, too. In 1789, he was arrested by the Inquisition and condemned to death for heresy.
Now, the discovery of a mysterious manuscript found in the Archives of the Grand Lodge of Scotland may shine a light on Cagliostro’s secret spiritual teachings, and allow us, finally, a full understanding of his beliefs. The Masonic Magician tells Cagliostro’s extraordinary story, complete with the first English translation of the Egyptian Rite ever published. It presents the case made against him (that he was an impostor as well as a heretic), and finds that the Roman Church, and history itself, have done him a terrible injustice. This scholarly account, drawing on remarkable new documentary evidence, reveals that the man condemned was in fact a remarkable visionary and a true champion of Freemasonry—and that his teachings have much to reveal to us today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

To Know, To Will, To Dare, & To Keep Silent

Well it seems that the old "four powers of the sphinx" are making the blog-go-round this week. Rufus attempted to clear the false interpretation and establish what he saw as teh true meaning. Than BH chimed in with a quote on Silence. 

It seems that in the western mystery tradition, when people come accross a deeper or more profound interpretation of something, the tendancy is to regard the new interprerarion as true and the old one as false, or perhaps as a blind. This type of thinking is a trap. 

In Tantric training, one learns that various texts, axioms, prayers and such have multiple levels of meaning. Often long commentaries are devoted to these various layers of meaning. Commentaries on The Guhyasamaja Tantra, the oldest written Tantra, teach six levels of meaning that can be found for every line. More often you will see interpretations split into three: Outer, Inner, and Secret. 

The key here is that the outer interpretation is not considered False. The Secret interpretation is no truer than the outer interpretation, merely more profound and meant perhaps for a smaller audience. Religion itself is like this. On the outer level it is a tool of translating the world; telling the masses what happens when we die, what the meaning of life is, how to be good, etc. On the inner level it is a means of transcending the world, of experiencing the subtle layers of reality directly. On the secret level, even that falls away and the mystic is left knowing that he was always beyond the gate from the start. 

First there is a mountain, than there is no mountain, than there is. 

Anyway, I thought I might offer Outer, Inner, and Secret interpretations of the four powers of the sphinx. Just remember that one is no truer or better than the other, anymore than the inner shell of a russian matrryoksha doll is better than the outer one. 

On the outer this is exactly what it sound like: knowlege of magickal rituals, spells, correspondences and all the "stuff" that we talk about. 
On the inner level this is direct knowlege of the subtle layers of reality. The ability to see clairvoyantly the astral and empyrian layers and its inhabitants. Also the ability to feel the forces at work behind the magick we work.
On the secret level this is pure Gnosis. No longer concerned with the outward appearances of angels and devas and such, this is knowlege of our own divine nature.

On the outer this is simply whatever your desire is. As you will, so shall it be. Do not underestimate the power of this outer level in generating magick. 
On the inner this will as an action. Your desire is focused to the extent that it causes volition. Things happen from force of will. 
On the secret level this is the True Will or Thelema which extends from Gnosis. The realization of your own divine will as inseparable from the will of god. This is why so many prayers and even magickal rituals end with statements like "but only if it be thy will." This seems like a cop out submitting to an external diety, but to the mystic this is a tool for alinging their actions with their gnosis. 

On the outer this is indeed about being daring. Most of the world, and most outer religion considers magick to be a harmful persuit: at best a distraction from spiritual progress and at worst a path to damnation. In certain times and places, you could be killed and tortured for practicing it. If you are going to attempt it, you damn well better be daring. 

On the inner level, to you are daring the inner dangers. You are defeating your mechanistic nature and calming the storm of cause and effect that keeps you locked habitual patterns. The monkey mind does not surrender easily though. Magick has caused madness and even death. Remember all the inunctions about looking at the face of god causing death? You are daring that. 

On the secret level you are daring to be as you truly are. Its hard to explain, but at the higher levels of realization, things are not as colorful and strange as they are at the lower levels. In fact, the first time I really attained Rigpa for any length of time, I described it to my teacher as "transecndent ordinariness". You must dare to realize not only the illusory nature of the material world, but all the astral and "higher" realms as well. You must dare to give up your HGA. 


This one has caused more discussion than the other three combined.

On the outer level this is simply the injunction to shut up about what you are doing for numerous good reasons that I will list in a post later this week. Protecting the reputation of a teaching, protecting intellectual property of an order or group, protecting yourself from societal reprecussion, and protecting the work you are doing from interferrance from others are just a few points that I will expand upon in time. 

On the inner level to keep silent is the need for actual silence in practice. Like, literally shutting the fuck up. Almost every great mystic I have even talked to has stressed the importance of keeping time for silent reflection, prayer, and meditation. Its vital to the path. Whether you can take 40 minutes in the morning and evening, or only drive to work with the radio off, the simplicity of silence will pay off in ways that will amaze you. 

On the secret level this is the silence of the maelstrom of the mind. The silence of the 8th sphere that leads to the 9th is connected with this, but at a simpler level think of it like a lake filled with water that is muddy because the water is constantly being agitated. You are like that. Though the water in the lake is inherently clear and luminous, this nature can only be realized when the agitation stops and the obscuring dirt settles to the bottom. This is the secret silence. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Santa Muerte in Times Online

Halway decent article here on Santissima Muerte in the Times Online

Website of Unknowing

Just realized that I never added one of my favorite blogs to the list at the left.

Only the Real can know Reality

I was browsing at the Catholic gift shop in Pt Pleasant this week and found a gem. Evelyn Underhill's "Practical Mysticism". 

This was a peculiar find in a Catholic bookstore because while it is true that she is associated with Christian Mystecism, that particular book is quite secular and doesnt mention Christ or Christianity even once. They also had copies of Julians Showings and the Cloud of Unknowing on the shelf, so I am quite sure that someone there is sympathetic to the mystical approach. 

My favorite quote from Evelyn has to be the very simple: "Only the Real can know Reality". 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and thats a mighty long time
But Im here 2 tell u
Theres something else,
The afterworld

Actually, I don't talk very much about the afterworld. In fact, and this seems to surprise a lot of people, I don't really have any very strong opinions on it this way or that.

I few months ago when I was in Boston visiting Jennifer and Mike, we were taking a "fear quiz", and I said no to death as being a fear. Mike commented that was probably because I had faith in an afterlife. Actually, the opposite is true. 

If I had strong faith in a particular afterlife scheme, I would be concerned with fucking it up somehow. As it is, I do not have a strong faith in any particular afterlife scheme, so I have nothing to be afraid of. 

But Jason,  you practice Tibetan Buddhism, don't you believe in reincarnation?

Meh. There are some that I feel really are genuine Tulku's. People like the Karmapa and so on. Most people that are named Tulku's though are just people that either took an office, or bought the title. Perhaps everyone reincarnates in a way that establishes a link from life to life. Perhaps not. I dont really care. 

But Jason, you practice Contemplative Christianity as well, don't you believe in heaven?

As a place where we pop up more or less as we are in life and live the rest of eternity? Definately not. If drinking 4 shots of espresso can effect my mind as much as it does, I can only imagine that full on death of the brain would pretty much kill anything egoistic. 

But Jason, what about various schemes where you choose an afterlife? 

Yeah, there are those. Amitabha for instance set up his pure land for people to be reborn as monks so that they attain enlightenment easier, and of course, one can view the various Christian Heavens as a type of pure land set up by Christ. Even in some types of traditional Witchcraft this idea is present (see Evan John Jones essay "The Rose Beyond the Grave" which is in The Roebuck in the Thicket)

Some practices aiming at specific afterlife are good. Maybe they work, maybe they dont. You don't know till you go. Some, I think are quite dangerous. Some techniques that arent even geared towards afterlife can screw it up. For instance I recommend that anyone learning astral projection does NOT make an astral simulacrum of themselves to project into. Why? Because I met a ghost who got trapped in his after he died. The work he did solidifying his spiritual form to resemble his living form prevented second death for a few years. A few hundred years...

Don't get me wrong, I am going to do Phowa when I die. But I am not really all that concerned with whether it works or not. I passed the test. I bled out the top of my head. So, it should work. But you only know when you go. 

I am not doing Amitabha's Dewachen Phowa BTW. Not interested in celibacy in this life or the next. I was crap at Phowa until I started focusing on Padmasambhava who sends a hot dakini to collect your bindu and take you to pure land of Zangdopalri where you attain enlightenment by screwing her. After that, I attained the signs I needed. Motivation is everything. 

Anyway, point being, I dont really focus on the afterlife all that much. My thinking basically is this: I didn't mind the 100,000 years before I was born, so I probably won't mind the 100,000 years after I die. 

I focus on death, but as a meditation on impermenance. It's a way of simultaneously realizing the preciousness of this fleeting existance, and also the need to let go of it. Part of that letting go I think is letting go of what comes next. Do your due dilligence and than let it slide. 

 I took the photo above at Pashupatinath on the last day of a three day retreat. I keep it on my altar along with photo's of my Guru's.