Sunday, May 31, 2009

Midsummer Magick Renaissance Faire

Unfortunately certain family commitments prevent me from attending, so I will have to live vicariously through you all. If you havent been to a Jeff Mach event, now is a good time to start attending. 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Learn about Dzogchen from a master

Namkhai Norbu is having an open podcast geared at an introduction to Dzogchen. He is one of my most important Lamas and probably the most accssible teacher to those not looking for the full on Tibetan Buddhist trip.

I highly recommend you tune in.

Retreat on "Introduction to Dzogchen" with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Open Webcast
From Cologne Germany
June 5-7, 2009 in Germany (see below information for USA)

It will begin Friday, June 5 at 5-7 pm (17.00-19.00). GERMANY
In EDT, Massachusetts time that is 11am - 1pm (June 6). EAST COAST USA

On the following day Saturday, June 6 there will be a teaching in the morning and in the afternoon; 10 am - 12 noon (10.00-12.00) and 5-7 pm (17.00-19.00). GERMANY
In EDT, Massachusetts time that is 4am-6am and 11am-1pm (June 7). EAST COAST USA

The last day Sunday, June 7, is from 10 am - 12 noon (10.00-12.00). GERMANY
In EDT, Massachusetts time that is 11am-1pm. (June 8) EAST COAST USA

You can find out your own local time using the time converter here:

This Webcast is OPEN (no password required for audio connections).

Updated URLs and instructions on how to connect are found here:

In the Webcast Support Site you can always find the webcast calendar, updated schedule and information.
Check it out regularly!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wand in the Lotus Part 2: Types and Stages of Tantra

I know that my next post in this particular series was supposed to be on the five schools of Tibetan Dharma, but in preparing that post I realized that I needed to say a bit about the classifications and stages of Tantra first so that when I talk about how the different schools approach this issue, you will have some idea of what I am talking about. It is also helpful for purely western magicians and mystics to see how the relationship between practitioner and divine evolves in the various classes.

But first a story.

About 2500 years ago, in the time of the Buddha, King Indrabhuti of Uddiyana (Afghanistan), saw a strange flock of yellow birds flying towards Mt Kailash in the evening. He asked his ministers about them who revealed that they were not birds at all, but the Buddha and five hundred Arhats. In the evening, they would fly to Mount Kailasa and in the moring fly to Varanasi. The king invited the Buddha to the palace and asked him to teach the Dharma, which the Buddha did, delivering a discourse on the Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path , and Monastic renunciation.

The king realized the wisdom of what he heard, but pointed out that as king, he had responsibilities. If he just left the throne, the kingdom would fall into chaos. Furthermore he would greatly disappoint his 50 wives. I will let John Reynold tell what happened next:

"The Buddha smiled and immediately transformed himself into the Guhyasamaja deity in itsmandala palace. In this guise, the Buddha explained the practice of Tantra, the path of transformation. When he transformed himself into the Yab-yum form, that is, in sexual union with his consort, he explained Karmamudra, or the sexual yoga performed with a consort, what is also known as Guhyacharya, or “secret conduct.” At this, the five hundred Arhats, all of whom were very pure monks indeed, fainted dead away from shock, and so they did not hear or recall later this portion of the Buddha’s teaching. Therefore, it is not found in the Hinayana Sutras."

Lama Vajranatha, from the new book Sadhana Practice of Wrathful Deities in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra.

Of course that is perhaps just a legend, but the Ghuyasamaja is in fact the oldest tantra, either Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain we have in writing. Originally the Tantras were practiced primarily by people that were not monks. Some wandered as homeless yogis, others worked straight jobs. Indeed many of the great Mahasiddhas are named after the mundane jobs they held: Saraha the maker of sara or arrows, Vinapa who played the Vina or guitar, and Tilopa who pressed sesame seeds or til. Eventually though as the Tantras gained fame and became popularized, Buddhist monestaries in Northern India started incorporating them into the monastic discipline. This is the way that it is still practiced today: some working as Monks, and others as householders or Ngakpas.

In basic Sutrayana meditation, there are two stages Shamatha (tib: Shinay) or calm abiding and Vipassana (tib:Lhathong), or further insight. The first stage calms the mind revealing its natural state of awareness and emptiness, the second stage works within that state to integrate it with the natural energy and the endless arsising and setting of thoughts. Tantra also works these stages, but not in the same way. Rather than absorb the mind into the breath or a symbol, Tantra absorbs the mind into a mandala of a Yidam or meditational deity. This was described to me by one lama as a “ship of meditation” as it has sights, sounds, and such associated with it. Mastering the generation of the Mandala, accumulating the recitation of the various mantras, and dissolving the mandala again to reveal the natural state of awareness is what is called Kye-rim or generation stage. After this is mastered the yogi can then embark upon Dzog-rim or completion stage where, depending upon the specific tantra being worked, one engages in various yogas that we will discuss in more depth later.

Tantras are classified in different ways. The basic classification is Inner and Outer. Outer Tantra is divided into three types: Kriya, Charya, and Yoga Tantra. In Kryia or action Tantra the emphasis is on visualizing deities in the sky out in front of you, and performing various outward actions of worship and ritual purity in hopes of drawing their blessing or chin-lop down into yourself. In Charya or Conduct Tantra, the emphasis is still on a being in front of you, but the work itself is divided between outer actions like in Kriya Tantra, and inner work of attaining Samadhi. In Yoga Tantra we begin with the being in the sky in front of us, but than draw that being down into us, transforming ourselves into that being. The emphasis is primarily on the inner meditation rather than outer actions.

In all cases the deities of outer Tantra tend to be peaceful and celestial in appearance. Today Kriya tantra is widely practiced in Tibet, as is Yoga Tantra. Charya Tantra has almost disappeared from the land of snows, but is the primary practice of Shingon, or Japanese Tantra. Lest you think that only the inner Tantras are involved in magick, I should just point out that tons of magick gets worked in these three outer Tantras. Anyone interested should get the book “Meditations on the Lower Tantras” put out by the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives. This has loads of Sadhanas for everything from wealth, to protection, to healing. The other benefit of these Tantras is that while you should have the empowerment to get the maximum benefit, you do not need the empowerment for them. Indeed my mother used Vashravanas mantra to help her in a financial jam once, and she sure as heck didn’t have an empowerment!

Inner Tantra differs from outer Tantra in several important ways. First, rather than involving peaceful and celestial deities, it typically is centered around Wrathful, Chthonic, and Sexual imagery. Secondly, rather than begin with visualizing the diety outside of ourselves, the Sadhana starts off by dissolving all outward awareness into emptiness and re-arising as a seed syllable that emanates and reabsorbs light, transforming ourselves into the central Yidam and its Mandala.

Since the different schools divide the classes of Inner Tantra differently, I think I will leave that for the next post, which will be on the five schools. For now, it is enough to say that the imagery is Thanaterotic, or sex and death. The range from Rishi wrathful, or joyously wrathful like Ghyasamaja above, to Khroda wrathful or really really wrathful. Also you need to know that the the completion stage yogas of most of the inner tantras are where the most famous aspects of Tantra come into play, such as Tummo or inner heat, and Thap-lam or sex practice.

In about a month or so we will do part 3, where I discuss the five schools and get deeper into the work of the inner Tantras.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Damn library

Tried to make a blog post from the library just now. After writing for 30 minutes straight on Tantric Classifications, the damn thing blinked to tell me it was extending my time since there were still computers available, but when it blinked back all my writing was gone.

Thanks for nothing Library.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Grimoire of the True

Not much time tonight, but did want to mention that everyone interested in Goety should grab a copy of Jake Stratton Kent's Grimoire of the True. 

Its AMAZING. I will have a full review when I am finished with it, but I just wanted to chime in that its totally worth getting even if you have Petersons ed. In fact the two compliment each other well. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

9 days no posting

Just a note to say that the Blog is not dead, Just an extra busy week. 

I have more than a few posts on the back burner in my mind, but I am preparing for part 2 of "HOW MAGICK WORKS" tonight at teh Bell Book and Candle in Dover DE. 

I hope to post later this week. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009


WTF happened to spring???

We have been bouncing between rainy in the 50's and sunny in the upper 80's low 90's now for two months. Yesterday I was freezing my ass off. Tonight I am sweating to death. 

Arent there any more 70 degree days anymore? 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poly/Mono theistic dichotomy

Frater POS posts here some thoughts about Polytheism and Monotheism. 

I myself have always thought of this as another false dichotomy. 

First lets look at Polytheism. No matter how many gods a culture has, most Pagan pantheons only have one creator god, one god from whom all others originate. One or two create everything - other beings are by definition lesser beings and while perhaps immeasurably powerful and long lived by human standards, still possess quite human neurosis and frailties according to their myths. 

Now look at Monotheism. One creator god, but it doesnt really end there. There are angels and demons, and saints, and djinn, and a whole host of beings that one can relate to. Its not much different than a Pagan pantheon. 

The idea that all the pagan gods are really aspects of one god isnt really just a product of the current culture. If you look at the more complex Pagan mystical texts like the Chaldean Oracles, you see this same idea. Similarly in most Hinduism both ancient and modern. 

The transition from Yahweh to "God" happened before the old testament was even compiled. One can easily see the Elohist and Preistly narrative that got laid on top of the Yahwist narrative in order to transition the god of Isreal from a god to GOD. When he is behaving in the truly cosmic transcendent sense, than he/she is GOD. When he is being persnickety about what offerings are burnt on what mountain and when in order to defeat the enemies of some other tribe, he most certainly is not GOD, but just a god. The same can be said of Pan, Shiva, Hekate, and a host of other beings that have both immanent and transcendent manifestations. For instance it is hard to reconcile the cosmic Hekate of the Oracles with the dark Hekate of the Papyrii. 

Of course I myself am more a Buddhist than anything else. I find most of the ideas of non-mystical monotheistic and polytheistic religion pretty silly. I am not a worshiper. While I do feel a certain "direction" and consiousness to the universe itself that I have often described as God, I do not really feel compelled to relate to any outward deity as a means of salvation or goal, so maybe I just dont understand the whole thing. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Magickal Mis-diagnosis

There is someone that has been to multiple workers looking to get rid of a posessing spirit. Many cleansings, and they all seem to make it worse. I am about to do the same, but I am wondering now if I havent mis-diagnosed it along with everyone else. I don't think the spirit is an attacker. I think it may actually be a guardian. 

In my first book I give as one of the four sources of psychic attack, attacks from ones guardians or from ones own psyche, in retribution for misdeads and broken vows. But there is another situation that I didnt think of when i was writing the book: initiation crisis. 

In many indiginous cultures the career of a Shaman or Magician begins by being tormented by spirits. They arent really trying to harm you, they are trying to get you to fulfill youir role as intermediary. If you dont, they will keep it up, eventually killing you. This has been reported by everyone from Haitian Mambos, to Nepalese Jhankris, to Russian Saman. It doesnt however happen much in the west amongst europeans, nor amongst Buddhists. 

To a typical witch or magician it would look like an attack, but attempts at exorcism would only aggrivate the situation, not make it better. I am wondering if the thing to do isnt quiet it down by making some peace offerings and working with it. It isnt responsive to questioning of any kind, but that would again fit the profile. 


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Pentagram in the Lotus – Part 1

A few years ago, I started a series of posts on Live Journal aimed at explaining Tibetan Buddhism to seekers approaching it with a background in magick and witchcraft. I am resurrecting that project by making a series of posts here at Strategic Sorcery, than eventually collecting them, editing them, and offering them as a chapbook.


More than any other place on earth, Tibet has been associated with mystic revelation, secret rituals, and magickal power. It is easy to understand why. Closed off from the rest of the world until the Chinese invasion of 1959, the people of the land of snows spent as much time and effort developing meditation and magick over the centuries that the western world did on technology and business. The combination of Tibet’s inaccessibility and its reputation for the arcane arts made practically a blank slate upon which people could paint their wildest fantasies.

Mandrake the magician, the first costumed comic book superhero, was said to have attained his powers in Tibet as did another famous 30’s adventure character: The shadow. In later decades Tibet featured prominently in the origin stories of both Dr Strange and Dr Doom. Sadly, not all fictionalized accounts of Tibetan religion and magick were presented as such.

In the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, mystics such as H.P. Blavatski, and Anne Besant presented spiritual teachings to the public claiming to have originated in Tibet. Though some people still put stock in these stories, we can now safely say that there is no truth whatsoever to the claim that these in any way represent Tibetan practices. As time went on, a little information that became available about Tibet, much of it through the efforts of Alexandra David Neel and Walter Evans-Wentz; both of whom were themselves Theosophists and also relied upon the same Tibetan translator. Although impressive for the time, much of their work was inaccurate or betrayed a certain Theosophical gloss. Sadly, much of the misinformation from this period persists today, especially amongst western occultists. It’s a pretty safe bet for instance, that when you hear someone talking about Tulpas, that they have no idea what they are talking about.

Part of the reason that some of these myths persist is that many of the Lamas try to keep some of the more overtly magical aspects of the dharma under wraps. Some of this has to do with traditional secrecy in Tantra, but much of it is also a decision about how best to market Tibetan Dharma to the west. Most people that you find at Dharma centers come looking for meditation, ethics, and maybe a new religion that fits better with modern society and science than evangelical Christianity. These fairly mainstream people get fairly uncomfortable when the conversation turns to sex yogas, propitiating spirits, and slaying demons. Though all of this is part of traditional Tibetan Buddhism I do not blame the lamas at all for toning it down. They are a people without a country after all, and need to make a way for themselves in a world that is very different than the one that the Chinese expelled them from in 1959.

Though they try to keep the magick under wraps to the mainstream, it remains a very attractive feature to those inclined to such endeavors. No where else in the world can one find a fairly seamless blend of Shamanism, Hedge Magick, Ceremonial Ritual, and Yogic Meditation. I am particularly lucky because my first exposure to Buddhism was through John Myrdhin Reynolds, who has a thorough knowledge of western magick and Tibetan Buddhism. In fact he is one of the foremost Tibetan translators in the world, as well as a Ngakpa Lama. Though John travels most of the time, I had the luck to befriend him during a period that he spent a couple years in NJ handling some family business. With his guidance my own Dharma studies were greatly accelerated, not only did I have a Lama that would answer pretty much any question at any time, but I had someone who could teach me how to relate to the Tibetan lamas and get them to teach some of the secret yogas and magick that normally remain hidden. It is because I feel that I have had such good fortune in this, that I feel compelled to write these articles.

A Few Notes Before We Begin

These articles are an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and Bon for western occultists, they are not about the mixing of the two. You will find no Thelemic Buddhism here, or Wiccan ceremonies using Tibetan Yidams as gods. I am simply trying to present some information and advice to people interested in Tibetan Buddhism from the magic perspective, not start a new religion.

For purposes of brevity when I make a blanket statement referring to Tibetan Buddhism, you can assume that I also am referring to Bon, the primary indigenous religion of Tibet. Despite differences like originating from Tonpa Shenrab rather than Buddha Sakyamuni, circumambulating counter clockwise, and having a somewhat more shamanic structure to the lower vehicles, they are for the most part another aspect of Tibetan Dharma that has grown similar to the Buddhist schools in most respects. They have their own Prajnaparamita, Vinaya, Dzogchen and so on. The Dalai Lama has recognized them as a fifth school of Tibetan Dharma, and that’s good enough for me.

I will be offering a lot of opinions here about how to proceed in certain areas. If you disagree you can let me know by offering a different opinion and reasoning behind it. If you want to argue till the ends of the earth based on the college course you took in basic Buddhism, I am probably not even going to leave your comment up.

The articles assume a fairly basic knowledge of Buddhism. If you don’t know who Buddha is, what the four noble truths are, what the 8 fold path is, or any of that jazz than you probably aren’t ready to read a lot about the minutia of vajrayana practice.

Lastly, I am a fairly simple Ngakpa, a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism focused on Dzogchen and Tantric practice from a primarily Nyingma/Bon perspective. I am not a Lama and do not want to be seen as such. The advice I give should not be valued higher than the advice of your guru. Any errors are my own, and should not reflect the views of my teachers.

I will be updating the series about one a month, the first article will be a synopsis of the five major schools.

Friday, May 1, 2009



I attended the Grand Sabbat last night and danced the dance that you can only do without a body. Tantrikas and Witches everywhere, I think I saw a few of you there. 

Can't say that I learned anything new, but I certainly came back full of piss and vinegar. 

Hail to the angel of the first flame, fallen for freedom's sake.

Hail to the light of Beltane, which warms the soul, but hail also to the darkness of Walpurgisnacht that stirs the passions. The farthest stars are only visible when the nearer lights are dim.