Friday, October 30, 2009

Bornless One Working

This is a brief article that will attempt to explain the nature and importance of the Bornless One rite and its suit of rituals that are part of the Bornless One working.

The Bornless One working has now been incorporated into the newly designed and structured Abramelin Lunar Ordeal, representing the rites performed in the second half of that working. The purpose of the Bornless One invocation rite, regardless of what larger ordeal or working it is deployed in, is the one great ritual that is designed to invoke and manifest, to a lesser or greater extent, the higher self of the celebrant and magician who performs it. In the Order there are four different versions to the Bornless One rite, and the greater ordeal uses the more advanced version, which incorporates ritual structures and geometric prismatic powers associated with the seventh degree. Therefore, this overall working is the primacy of the seventh degree, and initiates who are either already working at that level, having achieved their consecration to the Hierophant degree, or if they are working closely with someone who has achieved that degree of spiritual and magickal development.

The Abramelin Lunar Ordeal has already been covered, and so, too, has the Bornless rite been examined and explained to some degree in previous writings. So what needs to be explained is the Bornless one working, which includes a total of four rituals. Previously, the Bornless rite stood alone and had no other associated working in which to develop a context and to utilize the powers and visions that may have been experienced. Now there are three ancillary rituals, and the complete working is performed as the major part of the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal.

The Bornless working consists of the following rituals in the order that they are to be performed. All of the new rituals have been distilled from the Greek Magical Papyri, identified in notation by the letters PGM. These new rituals were developed from source material analogous to the Bornless One rite, which the Golden Dawn first promoted and Aleister Crowley lionized in Liber Samakh and Liber VIII. Also, for a more detailed explanation of them, I would recommend consulting the rituals in question.

1. Bornless Ring Consecration rite. This particular rite is from PGM XII, lines 201 through 350, and is distilled and appropriated from that original Greek manuscript. The purpose of the ring consecration rite in the original was to forge a powerful magickal ring that would be able to act as a focus for the projection of magick power, much as a magick ring in legend and myth would be so used. The ring was to be of a particular kind, a band of gold with a semi precious beveled stone, minutely carved with magickal characters and words of power. The ring was then consecrated in a specific rite so it would be imbued with the powers of an absolute deity, a veritable god of gods. There are actually a pair of rites in this part of the manuscript, next to each other, so I was able to distill material from both spells. These rites, like many others in the papyri, are set down in isolation and there is little to indicate to the practitioner that these rites, or any others, are valuable if appropriated and placed into a context, such as I have attempted to do.

The purpose for the ring consecration rite in the Bornless series is to formulate a magickal trigger or tool (link) to materialize the magickal power of the Higher Self and project it into the world. The ring is therefore a linking device, and not to misconstrued as representing anything more than the symbolic and mythic quality that it represents. Once it is forged and formulated, it continues to live in the mind and soul of the magician. Stealing the ring or destroying it will in no way eliminate it, since it actually exists in the inner planes - the material ring is nothing more than a physical representation for it. If by chance, the magician shall lose this ring or have it stolen, he or she may create a new one at any time. The old ring cannot be used to either attack or work black magick on the magician, since it symbolizes the bond between the magician and his Holy Guardian Angel or Higher Self, and nothing can disturb that connection except the foolish actions or impassioned pathos of the magician. So because the ring is actually a symbolized tool, it can neither work for another nor can it profit anyone else who might attempt to use it.

While one could spend a small fortune to produce an elaborate and expensive ring, made of gold, and the gem stone cut and engraved with words of power (making it something of a magickal artifact and worth something to someone besides the magician), it is my recommendation that the ring be made of either gold or silver and have a beveled semi-precious gem stone affixed to it. There should be no etched words of power, sigils or characters - just a simple ring with little or no special qualities to it. It would also be smart for it to be rather quite common looking and also inexpensive, since it is the symbol that’s really important, not the ring. By charging and wearing a modest ring, the magician insures that he or she will always know that the true ring exists in the inner planes and is merely represented in all its glory by a simple device.

The consecration ritual is easy enough, since it is done immediately following a special mass and a benediction. The sacraments are used to directly bless and empower the ring, and the powerful invocations distilled from the Greek Magical Papyri supply the verbiage. Little else is required for this simple rite, other than a careful and fixed concentration on the difficult but sonorous words of power. The charging the of ring is done, and then a vigil is performed until just before the first dawning light, which should shine upon the ring and further words of power said over it. There is also an invocation of the godhead Ouphōr, which is used the first time that one wears it. From that moment onward, all one needs to do is just say the name when slipping the ring on the finger. I felt that this was a critical part that was missing from the Bornless One ritual, and it was well documented in the Greek Magical Papyri. This rite has an all-night vigil, and is completed through the dawning light of the next day.

2. Bornless One rite - also, Bornless One Invocation Rite - Stellar Gnosis version four. This is a greatly enhanced version of the Bornless One rite, using the corrected and recovered words of power from the original PGM spell (specifically, PGM V 96 -172), and being deployed with five levels of concentric magick pyramid vortex structures. These five steps or levels represent the power of ascendancy and the imbuement of a multi-tiered level of Godhead manifestation. The center core of this rite is where the actual Bornless One rite is performed.

The Bornless Rite IV consists of three ritual levels. The first level is the Tetramorphic Archetypal Power Vortices for all four of the Qabbalistic Worlds, resolving the combined forces in the fifth power, which is called the Jewel of the Gnostic Stellar Rays. The assumption is that the Higher Self (the Bornless One) resides in all four of the worlds, from Assiah to Atziluth. Within these unified vortices, the Celebrant invokes the Bornless One, using the classical English translation as found in the rituals of the Golden Dawn (with corrections made from the original Greek Papyri). The final ritual action is where the Celebrant  erects his own formula to establish the third level which is the Gate of Light, where he projects outward the powers and profound insights found from summoning the Bornless One. This structure should represent the Celebrant's personal spiritual directive at that point in his life.

The Invocation of the Bornless One establishes a permanent manifested link to one's higher self. Therefore, it is necessary for the Celebrant to fast, say mass, undergo rigorous purification and other ascetic practices to facilitate the process. The Celebrant may also need to change the masculine pronouns in the ritual to feminine if her gender requires it.

The Celebrant performs the consecration of the Temple of the Goddess, the Mass of the Goddess, and performs all four Elemental Worlds of the Tetrapatronis, completing the power vortices with the fifth power vortex, in the order Assiah through Atziluth. This progression is the opposite as presented in the original ritual, so we have included them in the correct order in the following sections 2 through 6. However, the student is urged to read over the original ritual and to become familiar with the structures of the power vortices of the tetrapatrons. In addition, there are invocations or calls from the Ars Notoria of Solomon the King (a 13th century grimoire of great repute), seven of which are used to profoundly empower the four power vortices, and to unveil the mystery of the Eye in the Triangle, which is the new central Mystery of the Bornless One rite.

3. Bornless One Assumption Rite. This particular rite is from PGM IV, lines 154 through 285, and is distilled and appropriated from that original Greek manuscript. It is used for the assumption of great powers and is performed immediately following the Bornless rite. It is used to assume the powers, authorities and to quicken the manifestation of the Bornless One as the Higher Self. This rite is based on a simulation of death and rebirth, and therefore, invokes the dark god of the underworld, who is Typhon. The body of the subject is wrapped in three yards of gauze and lays upon the floor as if dead, but crowned with ivy and blindfolded. Then a long incantation is said, and the subject arises, is vested in pure white robes of linen and says an affirmation. Then another incantation is read, this time before the rising sun. Later, in the temple, the subject performs divination to see the image or imago of the godhead assumption, and speaks a final set of incantations. It would seem that the subject would have to perform a great deal of memorization in order to complete this rite, to adorn oneself with the gauze wrapping, etc.

Therefore, to aid the performance of this rite there should be two individuals performing it - one, the candidate who is to undergo the process and assume the godhead of the Bornless One, and two, the initiator, who performs the incantations, guides and assists the candidate. If two people are performing this rite, then they can take turns going through the death and resurrection ordeal and being the one who does the incantations and assists the other. If one is performing this rite alone, then I would recommend that he or she perform the incantation first, then wrap up in the gauze covering and perform a deep trance based meditation to simulate the process of death and resurrection.

The papyrus spell advises that the assumption of great power be done at midnight, and then the candidate may properly greet the rising sun as the resurrected and empowered one. I would recommend that the rite be performed immediately following the Bornless One rite. The period of being wrapped up in gauze can last only as long as one can assume the deepest trance state, and then it is followed by the resurrection. However, one should then assume an evening vigil, with light sleep and trance, and then to arise and go outside to witness the rising sun, where additional incantations are said. Once that is accomplished, the candidate should immediately return to the temple to perform the mirror divination, and thereby perceive the nimbus and vision of the Bornless One surrounding one’s person.

The empowered magic ring should also be deployed for this rite, the candidate having assumed it and invoking the sacred godname (during the Bornless One invocation) before being wrapped in gauze, so that on awakening, he or she shall be fully bonded with the power and glory of the Bornless One.

4. Bornless One Envisioning Rite: This particular rite is from PGM IV, lines 850 through 1,226, and is distilled and appropriated from that original Greek manuscript. This rite takes a total of three days, and requires three masses to be said, with an accompanying incantation to be read, known as the Hidden Stele and Death Delivering Stele. The third evening is when the actual rite is to be performed, begun with another magical mass and a benediction rite. The preceding two days are a time of reflection, meditation and purification, with special baths and the elimination of all worldly concerns, which might distract one from the work. The main operator should be crowned with a garland, and have prepared a special phylactery that is to be worn around the waist. White robes are the preferred adornment, as is the controller crystal, to be worn around the neck. The Bornless rite ordeal should have been performed previously just before or on the full moon, and this rite should be performed for the next full moon that occurs.

The purpose of the envisioning rite is that it is to gather up the powerful visions that the Celebrant experienced while having invoked his/her higher self into manifestation, and these are used to project into a dark mirror as potent questions for the higher self, to be resolved as visions of confirmation as to the destiny and ultimate purpose of the Celebrant. Having this knowledge, the Celebrant can more unerringly live his/her life and proceed to accomplish the great work in a more clear and efficient manner than would be otherwise. Therefore, this rite is not only a divination rite, but it’s an active and powerful one that literally generates the future for the Celebrant, so that he/she may revel in the glory of knowing and following one’s spiritual and material destiny, however that is revealed.

The specific ritual begins with a circle consecration rite, a mass and benediction. After a suitable period of deep meditation, the Celebrant then proceeds to build up a powerful cross roads in the temple, using incantations from the PGM and the device of the inverted rose ankh. This is done in a widershins manner, starting in the Southwest and completing in the Southeast, with an arc joining the Northeast with the Northwest. The center of the circle is set with a great inverted rose ankh in the infra-point, and all of the four angles are drawn together through it. There are five specialized incantations taken from the PGM to empower this cross-roads vortex ritual structure.

At this point in the rite, the Celebrant puts on the magic ring, summons the associated godhead, and then performs the macro-rite for the Bornless One. The Celebrant pauses to complete a full assumption of that entity before continuing.

The lamp and black mirror is placed on a small altar in the center of the circle, and the lamp is lit, the phylactery is put on along with the garland crown and the controller crystal around the neck. At this point the Celebrant intones four incantations: light bringing charm, the light retaining spell, the summoning of the Godhead (to the Bornless One, said three times), and then performs the envisioning using the black mirror.

Once the envisioning with the black mirror is completed, the Celebrant performs the dismissal of the Godhead, the dismissal of the brightness, and then performs an all night vigil, greeting the sun’s first light as it dawns in the morning.

These four rituals represent the complete suite of rites used in the Bornless One working, which has now fully enabled the Bornless Rite with a complete array of functionality that was missing in the  various and many previous iterations. The Abramelin Lunar Ordeal gives the Bornless working its complete context and will therefore insure that a much more powerful effect will be realized when it is used by appropriately trained members of the Order.

Frater Barrabas

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Abramelin Lunar Ordeal

This is the second part of this article - where I actually specify the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal as an alternate to the normal 6 month or 18 month ordeal.

The lunar ordeal requires six to seven weeks of intensive magickal workings. It is begun at the advent of the New Moon, and proceeds without interruption or deviation for the duration of the ordeal. If one begins this working, then it must be completed or not begun at all. Once started, it must be performed entirely and without interruption. I suspect that there might be repercussions that would occur for an aborted ordeal, and the extent of those repercussions would depend on how far into the ordeal one progressed before quitting. If you don’t have the resources or time to perform this ordeal through all three phases of ritual work, then I would advise you not to begin. All of the rituals that are to be used in this ordeal must be completely understood and familiar to the magician.

(The fifth weekend may require a break from the activity, depending on the lunar phases. For an early start, the magician will actually get ahead of the lunar cycle, and have to wait for the final two workings to complete the working in the final full moon.)

Basic practices and requirements for this period of working are as follows.

  • Daily meditation - to be performed at least once or twice a day (at waking, and then before retiring). These practices should use asana, pranayama, mantra and mandala to establish the proper mind-state. Then contemplation on the intent of the working as well as seeking a special kind of illumination or grace from the Deity.

  • Partial fasting - eat lightly and often - avoid excessive meals. Eat less meat than usual or become vegetarian (dairy, eggs, vegetables and fruit).

  • Keep a special journal - note down everything - from dreams and musings to the actual results of the ritual workings.

  • Weekends are reserved for at least two major magical workings. These times must be reserved and not be used for anything else. Saying the magical mass and other liturgical ceremonies (a benediction) will generate the proper atmosphere and energy for these workings, this would include a circle consecration rite. Also, one should spend at least an hour or more meditating before performing the ritual working. I would recommend that the ritual workings be performed on either Friday and Saturday night, or Saturday and Sunday night. I would not recommend skipping a day between the weekend workings.

  • Special emphasis should be placed on observing the phases of the moon, particularly when they change. These times should involve some degree of meditation and focused awareness, particularly if they occur during the waking period.

The first part of the ordeal covers four weeks, representing the full cycle of the moon from new, to full and then back again to new. During the weekend ritual workings, the magician will invoke the four Seraphim and Cherubim for the four Elements, starting with Earth, then Air, Water and finally, Fire. This activity will require separate ritual workings for each Super Archangel invoked, so for each of these four weekends, two invocations will be performed on separate evenings. The Archetypal Gate ritual will be used to invoke the Super Archangels.

Performing an invocation of just one of these powerful angels during a period of three to six months would be more than adequate for any aspiring magician. However, we are proposing invoking all eight of these entities in a single period of a month! You can easily see why this would be a very intensive series of workings, and also why it would be prudent to not start this ordeal unless one were intent on completing it. The reason for invoking all eight of these angels is that the magician is seeking full and total illumination, and the combination of Seraphim and Cherubim would inspire and teach the magician all that is required to achieve this end. Not completing the ordeal would show a high degree of superficiality and insincerity, which might set up a very terrible backlash or wave of retribution, since these entities do not suffer fools gladly and have the power to punish as well as grant requests. If the magician is not fully convinced of the “rightness” of this ordeal, then he may receive a warning from the very first angel invoked, and such a warning should be immediately acknowledged and obeyed. If, on the other hand, the magician receives blessings and grace from all eight of these angels, then that would indicate that one is prepared and ready to meet the challenges of the next two weeks.

The fifth weekend has nothing scheduled, so it would be a time of rest, meditation and contemplation. It is also a time when the magician can charge and consecrate the magickal ring, which is used in the Bornless Invocation rite to establish a material link between the Bornless One and the magician. It’s also necessary to have this break point to catch up on any other required work that might be done. The break usually occurs because the lunar cycle may start early in the week with the first working weekend, and this will cause the workings to get ahead of the actual lunar cycle. It’s critically important that the final working be performed exactly on or just prior to the timing of the full moon.

The sixth weekend continues the activity of the previous four, and the magician uses the Archetypal Gate ritual to invoke an Elemental Godhead to act as the central and unifying entity to the ogdoad of angelic spirits. It’s assumed that the magician will discover which Elemental Godhead to invoke by successfully invoking the previous eight super archangels, or that information might be communicated in some other fashion. The magician may further qualify that central entity and even make it representative of one’s personal Godhead; but the qualification does not replace the basic Qabbalistic Elemental Godhead, it only augments it.

The next evening working is where all of the previous entities and structures are brought together into a complete synthesis. This is where the magician establishes the holy ogdoad of four Seraphim, four Cherubim, and the Elemental Godhead. This is done through the artifice of the magical structure of the octagon. The four Seraphim are each summoned and set to one of the four Watchtowers, and the four Cherubim are summoned and set to one of the four Angles. The Elemental Godhead is summoned and set to the Ultra-point, and all nine points are drawn together to form an octagonal vortex. Over this vortex structure is set the triple gateway - the double gateway with an ascension gate. Then all of these entities and forces are drawn together as the collected focus of the Ultra-point is drawn down into an inner circle, and into the heart and soul of the magician, where one performs a deep trance .

The basic premise of the Triple Gateway is to establish three concurrent gateway ritual structures - the Western Gateway into the underworld, the Eastern Gateway of the “Coming forth by Day”, and perhaps a gateway of ascension. The gateway of ascension would occupy the Western and Eastern points of the circle, and the Ultra-point - drawing all of the points of the three gateways together into a grand gateway. The purpose for this ritual is establish the mystery system of the three phases of the Lunar ordeal, which represents a trigon of the moon. This ritual is called the Triple Tetrahedral Gate ritual, and the companion rite is called the Ogdoadic Godhead Vortex rite - both to be used on the second evening of the sixth weekend.

The completion of the workings for the sixth weekend brings the ordeal to the point of the first quarter phase of the moon. This is the last major phase before the full moon occurs and completes the ordeal. The final weekend can be either just before or just after the full moon - even to the point of the next lunation cycle type.

The final weekend working is where the magician starts the process by performing a kind of macro ritual during the previous evening, drawing down the Element Godhead into one’s person, and assuming all of that power, authority and majesty prior to actually performing the Bornless Invocation rite. The magician will then perform the Triple Tetrahedral Gateway rite a second time to ensure that the Element Godhead is present for the next and final working. Thus all of these entities and forces are drawn together as the collected focus of the Ultra-point is drawn down into an inner circle, and into the heart and soul of the magician, where one performs a deep trance and begins to summon the Bornless One.

After this rite, the magic circle is not sealed and the magician spends the evening alternately dozing and meditating until the next day. A solemn high mass is said in the morning, and a meditation vigil and partial fast is adhered to (bread, water, and some dried fruit and cheese). Intense ablutions are also performed to prepare for the final evening working.

The last evening is where the magician performs the newly revised Bornless rite in its entirety, including the assumption rite. This is followed with an evening of meditation and deep trance, and the next day with another mass, this time aligned to the holy spirit as a form of thanksgiving. Then the magician seals the temple and avoids entry into it for at least a week (seven to nine days). After that time, the magician re-enters the temple, says a mass, sets the magic circle, and then performs once more the Triple Tetrahedral Gateway rite, and at the climax of that ritual, charges a specially made book containing all of the magical squares of the Abramelin system, as well as other sigils and characters (like those from the Grimoire Armadel). This book will be blessed by the HGA and fully activated. The magician then would only have to re-enter the Triple Tetrahedral Gateway in order to access the internal spiritual chamber of the Bornless One and seek to unleash the powers of one or more of the squares or sigils. Once unleashed, a magic square can be used at any time or place, even kept on the magician’s person when in the mundane world. The Bornless One would also teach, guide and give assistance in mundane matters to the magician - but the Eneagramic Gate would be the mystikon domain where all of that would be possible.

Also, on the following Full Moon, the magician will perform the third rite in the Bornless rite series, and this called the Bornless Envisioning rite. This is where the magician, fully vetted with the Bornless One, will perform a divination task that will project one’s highest will (i.e., the Will of the Deity) into the material world. Preparation would include determining what that will consists of and what are the mundane steps that the magician is expected to perform to fulfill it. During the period of that month from the invocation and assumption of the Bornless One, the magician will have determined the nature of that mystery.

A synopsis of this ordeal would be as follows:

1. Begin ordeal on the advent of the new moon
2. First weekend - invoke the Seraphim and Cherubim of Earth
3. Second weekend - invoke the Seraphim and Cherubim of Air
3. Third weekend - invoke the Seraphim and Cherubim of Water
4. Fourth weekend - invoke the Seraphim and Cherubim of Fire
5. Sixth weekend - invoke the Elemental Godhead, establish the Ogdoadic Tabernacle  and open the Triple Gateway
6. Seventh weekend - re-open the Triple Gateway, perform a vigil, and then perform the Invocation of the Bornless One with the Assumption rite.
7. Ancillary workings include the unleashing of the Abramelin grimoire (7 - 9 days) and the Bornless Envisioning (next Full Moon).

This is the revised version of the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal and all its various steps and tasks. The magician who undergoes this ordeal should remember that he or she is performing this ordeal under completely different circumstances than the original ordeal, whether consisting of the six month, three phase double lunar version or the 18 month solar cycle version. Since claiming to have successfully completed this ordeal carries with it a certain notoriety or fame, the magician who completes the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal should always state that he or she has undergone a modified version of this working and not claim to have performed the traditional one. I strongly advise this since it would be disrespectful to those who have undergone the traditional ordeal and also quite misleading, which would not be faithful to the aim of this revised version.

Keep in mind that not everyone would agree with this revised version, and that others, who are highly respectful of tradition, wouldn’t see it as being the same thing. There is certainly a place for those who would seek to perform the traditional ordeal and for those who have found alternative approaches. So we, as magicians, celebrate both the traditional approach and creative re-interpretations.

A note about the demons and their servitors: In the original book there are an ancillary set of tasks that consisted of summoning and mastering the unredeemed spirits, namely the demonic kings and their dukes, and that these same demons gave servitors who operated the many magic squares. It is my belief that summoning demons and gaining servitors from them is magically superfluous. This is just my opinion, of course, yet since I have rewritten the entire ordeal then I can also modify the manner that the magical squares are deployed. Some have found this linkage between the magic squares and the demons troubling, and some have sought to white-wash or explain it away as some kind of cathartic ordeal. Yet in all versions of the book, it is quite plain that the purpose of invoking and manifesting the HGA is to gain mastery over the demons, to seek from them servitors to perform tasks directly, or to use them to empower and activate the magic squares. It’s also possible to seek from the HGA or the demons additional magic squares. The magic of the Abramelin system is powered by demonic spirits existing in a rigid spiritual hierarchy, even if they are completely dominated and mastered by the magician through the assistance of the Godhead and the HGA.

It’s my belief that the HGA, who is like a personal godhead for the magician, can do all of these tasks. If one is successful in invoking the HGA into some form of manifestation, then there is little need to command demons to do certain tasks. The power of the magician’s magick, the depth of his wisdom and the strength of his will, fortified and magnified greatly by the HGA will enable him to perform any working or accomplish any possible objective. The Abramelin book dictates that the magician should not summon the HGA unless absolutely required. My theory is that the HGA would become ever-present to the magician who successfully invoked it into manifestation, and that the magician would function almost like an avatar, having the vision and depth of a godhead acting through his conscious mind. It could be easily argued that such a great accomplishment would allow the magician to find a route to complete enlightenment and union with the Godhead, and that all of the other operations may seem irrelevant or even grossly petty to such a mind-state. So for this reason, I doubt needing the supernatural intercession of demons to perform magical feats - they should be possible by the magician’s will, fortified as it is with the power, wisdom and majesty of the Augoeides.

Frater Barrabbas

Thoughts About the Abramelin Ordeal

This article is the first part of a two part article that is based on my study and analysis on the Abramelin Ordeal. I decided to break up the original article and post the two halves for you to examine and think about. Considering that I am about to begin working the Abramelin Lunar Ordeal, which is different than the one proposed in the book, putting out these ideas would be both pertinent and relevant to my own magical workings.

I have been puzzling over the Abramelin magical system for over 30 years, ever since I got my first hard bound copy of that tome, Book of Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, translated by MacGreggor Mathers. The book was reputed to be written by a historically obscure individual, a Jew named Abraham who lived in the town of Worms during the early 15th century. I have previously deduced that there was a very advanced Jewish occult community in that town, since nearly a hundred years earlier another important work was written called Sepher ha-Ratziel or the Book of Ratziel. So the Book of Sacred Magic was part of a plausible historical line of occultism and ceremonial magic. It’s fairly certain that there was a sharing of lore between Christian and Jewish occultists, and so it is one of the areas where Jewish magic and occultism was appropriated and used by Christians.

One of the main features of the Book of Sacred Magic is that it contains a very long and intense ordeal that many magicians have attempted and failed to complete. Aleister Crowley was reputed to have attempted this working twice at Boleskine Castle in Scotland, and Alex Sanders was also supposed to have performed the ordeal and completed it; there are numerous others as well. The ordeal is arduous and difficult because it spans a period of 18 months, using the two sacred Jewish holidays of Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles) to break up the year into six month periods. There are three of these six month phases that represent the stages of the Abramelin working.

Mather’s version of the Book of Abramelin has only 6 months or three phases of two lunar cycles for the duration of the ordeal. However, Mather’s version is from a later French manuscript that was very corrupt. I suspect that the 6 months duration is a modification that did not exist in the original. I am using the duration of the ordeal from the German edition, which appears to be more authentic. Mather’s edition also has the requirement of a virginal male child to accompany the practitioner the first time the Holy Guardian Angel is summoned. The role of the child is to act as an innocent and unbiased channel, but this is completely omitted from the German edition, and I suspect that it is a superfluous addition.

The final working in this ordeal is performed after the second Sukkot, where the magician summons into manifestation his Holy Guardian Angel through the grace of God and by means of the successful but long period of fasting, expiation, purification, consecration, devotional prayer and contemplation. There is little in the way of tools that are required for this working (a special wand, incense brazier, balm, lamps and at least two different robes, head band and cincture), but the building of a special prayer room with windows facing the East and West, an outdoor arbor and a floor covered by sand or the potential requirement for an outdoor tabernacle may have posed a daunting series of preparatory tasks. Once the prayer room is completed and the other required items are obtained, the ordeal basically consists of a regimen of devotional prayer, frequent ablutions, expiation, contemplation and various forms of abstinence (renunciation). However, performing this rigorous regimen for 18 months would guarantee that something would certainly happen, if not that which the magician sought at the start of the ordeal.

Many magicians have attempted this working, but few have questioned the necessity of its arduous discipline and practices. The supposed outcome is the manifestation of the Holy Guardian Angel, yet that event only begins a long process of spiritual indenture. It’s done for the exclusive purpose to master the good spirit (the HGA), the unredeemed spirits (demons), and to unleash the power and potency of hundreds of magical squares contained in book four of the grimoire. The achievement of the ordeal is just the beginning of this process of spiritual mastery, but the key is to have access to the Holy Guardian Angel, without which, the rest of the magic is pointless and incapable of being realized. From the standpoint of the Book of Sacred Magic of Abramelin, the ordeal is just the initiation rite for becoming a magician, the rest of the specific ritual lore would be provided and expounded upon by the HGA. It would seem then, that the HGA acted as a kind of lofty magician’s familiar spirit, and was a required part of this magical tradition. Many magicians have desired the powers and abilities associated with the fabulous and mysterious magic squares that are a hallmark of this system of magic, but few had the time or the ability to achieve the basic requirements for the ordeal.

So that is the essential conundrum underlying this system of magic. The bar for success was placed very high for the would-be apprentice magician to pass over, and so few actually managed to complete it. I suspect that was the purpose of the ordeal, to separate the goats from the sheep as it were. The ordeal also required a strict discipline of piety, renunciation and spiritual devotion that many would have understood back then, but few if any could comprehend now centuries later. Abraham the Jew makes allowances for those who might have businesses or need to work in order to survive, yet the times have dramatically changed since then and this system of magic hasn’t changed. We are talking about a magical system that was derived in the early Renaissance, a time which held a completely different mental outlook and way of life than today’s modern world. There simply isn’t an opportunity to retire from the world for the last six months of the ordeal unless the magician is independently wealthy and can support a mono-mania for several months without interruption.

Since the central ordeal to the Book of Sacred Magic is so rigorous and difficult, I have decided to forgo this regimen and find other activities and practices that are more immediately rewarding and capable of being sustained while living in the twenty-first century. I have a job and career, a home, a relationship, friends and family that require much of my time. What time I have left over is given to my magical and occult studies. But I don’t have time to devote 18 months to perform a powerful ordeal, and I couldn’t function in semi-retirement for the last six months. It would seem that the Abramelin system of magic is a tradition that I admire and study, but not one that I could possibly even perform the basic initiatory ordeal. I have had to put this book and its system aside for other more pressing activities and studies; but it’s always there on the periphery of my mind, tantalizingly near yet out of reach, waiting ultimately to be resolved. 

 Recently, I have been examining the power and potential of lunar based magic and its associated mysteries. I put the entire Elemental and Talismanic Elemental systems of magic squarely into the matrix of lunar based magic. Of course, talismanic magic makes use of the 28 lunar mansions, and elemental magic uses the moon and the sun to imprint a powerful time-stamp onto the magical working, so as to assist it in focusing changes into the present world. Both of these approaches have worked marvelously well, and in fact, even after performing a series of these rites in June, July and August of 2007, they are still aiding and rewarding me with renewed and unexpected sources of money. Certainly, these kinds of magic work very well through the use of the lunar mysteries. However, I had not attempted to apply any other magical system to the lunar cycle, that is, until I began to re-examine the Abramelin ordeal.

Since purchasing the newest version of the Book of Sacred Magic, which was translated from a completely intact German manuscript by Steven Guth and Georg Dehn, and giving it a thorough study, I have found myself rethinking the entire structure of the ordeal. Previously, if you wanted to perform this ordeal, there wasn’t any room or ability to make substitutions, since the time-line appeared to be firmly determined and that is what made the ordeal so effective and difficult. The regimen of prayer and contemplation was not particularly demanding, nor were the tools required, although the requirement for the prayer room might be difficult for some, and this might be where some substitutions could be made. However, the time-line was based on the religious holidays of the Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles, these being roughly six months apart in the Jewish calendar. One might even substitute these Jewish holidays with Christian ones, such as Easter and maybe Michaelmas, but that would be the extent of the possible alternatives.

See The Book of Abramelin - A New Translation - edited by George Dehn, translated by Steven Guth, Ibis Press 2006. This edition of the Book of Abramelin seems to have a number of variances with the version published by Mathers. There is no mention made of the Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles in the ordeal, so it would seem Mathers’ version has been sanitized of all Jewish traces. Also, many of the magic squares are incomplete (160 out of 242), there are 9 missing squares, and an entire book is missing from the Mathers edition. Since that version appears to be a later incomplete French manuscript, I suspect that we can rely on the German manuscript to be more authentic and definitive of this system of magic.

Yet this ordeal is decidedly solar based, since each phase is six months in length, and there are three phases. I began to ponder that since I am neither Jewish nor Christian, and since my faith is an earth-based spirituality, why would I follow a solar cycle for this kind of ordeal? Why not a lunar based cycle? Since a lunar cycle takes only 28 days to complete, then breaking it in half and building an ordeal that would cover three phases or one and a half cycles of the moon would be quite appropriate. Like the traditional Abramelin working, there would be three phases, but instead of using an annual sacred holiday, like the Passover as the starting point, I would start at a point in the lunar cycle that would connote “beginnings,” and that would most certainly be the new moon. Then the ordeal would span the lunar cycle of new moon, to full moon, to new moon again, and finally, to  full moon. The duration of the lunar ordeal would last approximately 40 to 42 days. This period of time seems analogous to the ubiquitous forty days and nights of the old testament, which is used to denote an archetypal duration. It would seem that the period of one and half lunar cycles is just as auspicious as the solar cycle of 18 months, not to mention that it would have the added power of being very significant to someone who practiced an earth based spirituality.

So I would substitute the three phases of the solar cycle with the three phases of the lunar cycle, and establish a time period that would be quite doable for a person of the post-modern world of the twenty-first century. That being said, I was quite pleased with the new structure of the ordeal, but I began to see other possibilities as well. The regimen of devotional prayer, expiation of sins, contemplation, fasting and ablutions performed in ever more rigorous fashion represented the only activity that the practitioner engaged in for months, only increasing the intensity and frequency as the ordeal approached its final six months. Since I am already initiated and functioning in a spiritually transformed state, and I am also quite capable of performing rituals and ceremonies during the shortened lunar ordeal, I have decided to completely modify and change the regimen of the ordeal to make it even more powerful and demanding in the area of applied rituals. What I decided to do was to merge the Invocation of the Bornless One, as derived from the Golden Dawn system, with the Abramelin ordeal to produce a working that would, at its climax, assist in invoking the Holy Guardian Angel as an aspect of the magician’s absolute self, or the God/dess Within. Other workings also emerged in my thoughts, and an entire ritual magickal ordeal took form in my mind.

Is the Bornless One the same or at least closely analogous to the Holy Guardian Angel? Now that’s a question that any knowledgeable occultist would ask. The key word that links them is found in the term Augoeides, which was used in the Golden Dawn and in Theosophical circles to denote the luminous radiance of the self as godhead. It has cognates in the related terms Daimones (Greek), Atman (Sanscrit), Genius (Latin) and the Holy Guardian Angel.  The source of this term is obscure, but it seems to have originated in the writings and thoughts of the Neoplatonists, most notably Iamblichus and Porphyry, but was promulgated by theurgists in late antiquity. To quote a reliable source:

“Augoeides (Greek, "shinning image") is a term that has had various definitions within Western occult tradition over the past two thousand years. The Greek Neoplatonic writers of the late Roman period first used it to refer to the Body of Light or the transformed spiritual body worn by the initiate who had overcome the materialism of the physical world.” (See the online web page for the following quote here. I have found it quite complete and illustrative of my point.) 

An examination of this term would seem to link it even more closely to that aspect of the self called the “higher self” or “absolute self”, and it would therefore be more bonded to the individual than what was believed of this term in the middle ages. (Not to be confused with any aspect of the self that is associated with the ego or persona. A better term would be the self as godhead.) Aleister Crowley himself referred to the Holy Guardian Angel as the personal godhead Augoeides, and I think that we can safely assume this to be correct. Therefore, it would seem that the invocation of the Bornless One would represent a magical process used to summon the highest aspect of the self as deity, and that this operation would be quite analogous to the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Some may dispute this linkage, but I believe that it is adequately supported by past usage and associations. (See Crowley’s articles - Liber Samekh and Liber VIII. Liber Samekh associated the HGA with the Bornless One, and Liber VIII proposes an alternate form of the Abramelin ordeal that lasts 91 days.)

This leads us to examine the nature of the revised ordeal that I am proposing to establish, and to carefully examine its various steps. The following is a detailed analysis of this newly devised Abramelin Lunar Ordeal, which takes around 40 days to complete and is actually much more ritually demanding and intensive than the original solar ordeal. The prerequisites are that this new ordeal be performed only by an adept, analogous to the sixth or seventh degree of the E.S.S.G. or Order of the Gnostic Star. This level of ability requires that the magician be capable of performing a magickal mass on a weekly basis and performing the Archetypal Gate rituals as well as the newly formed version of the Invocation of the Bornless One. The magician would have to be competent at performing magical evocations and all of the rigors that such a discipline would require. I suspect that if someone were to undertake this ordeal who does not have these requirements, then either nothing at the very least or complete personal disaster at the worst would be encountered through the misapplication of this ordeal.

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Necromancy - Dark Art Exemplar?

This is an expanded article that appeared in the Samhain edition of Rending the Veil. I hope that you find the topic in keeping with the weekend celebrations.

Amongst all the various names for magical practices, the word necromancy is probably the most foreboding and sinister. No doubt that such a practice was diabolical and associated with the blackest forms of magic. Popular folklore and belief defines necromancy as divination performed through the conjuration and manipulation of the spirits of the dead. The most outrageous form was the exhumation and reanimation of a corpse, which many often think of today when defining this term.

Necromancy has a long history, but during the Christian era it became confused with the conjuration of demons, which was called nigromancy or black magic. Necromancy in the middle ages was defined as a system of sorcery that gained its power and knowledge from conjuring spirits, whether angels, demons or ghosts. Nigromancy, or goetic magic, was a term that meant working sorcery through the conjuration of demons. Christian leaders believed that since only the Lord had power over the dead, sorcerers who performed necromancy were actually conjuring demons. After a time the two were used almost interchangeably, which caused the practice of necromancy to lose its meaning. However, spiritualists and mediums who sought to contact the dead and gain from them information about the future were actually unwittingly practicing a form of necromancy. Yet no one ever called them necromancers, which would have meant that one was evil personified. This confusion has not helped to clarify or define this system of magic, instead it has become something of topic of horror stories and low budget films. 

The origins of necromancy occurred in the far distant past, long before the time of antiquity. It was a system of divination that was ultimately derived from the pious observances paid to the dead at their tombs. It isn’t hard to imagine a person going to the grave site of some great kinsman and in addition to giving offerings and oblations, to ask for assistance with some family crisis. So the practice of necromancy probably stemmed from a natural desire to seek help from one's departed ancestors. Thoughts about the value of advice or prophecy given by the dead varied considerably in antiquity. Some believed that the dead has resources beyond the ken of the living, others (like Homer) believed that the dead knew no more about things than when alive. Necromancy may have derived innocently enough from funeral observations, but it’s also possible that it had a separate shamanic origin. Shamans in primitive societies were reputed to not only be able to heal the sick, but also to enter into the underworld and talk to the departed ancestors - shamans were an important link between both worlds.

Necromancy in antiquity, although not considered a legitimate public procedure for gaining intimate knowledge, shadowed the greater centers of divination, such as the Oracle of Delphi and the Temple of Asclepias. It was based upon a number of procedures that were well represented in folk tradition and literature, going back to Homer's Odyssey. We will briefly look to the Obyssey for a classic example of the rite called nekuia.

The Greeks had terms for this kind of magic, they called it nekumanteia (rites of divination from the dead) and psuchomanteia (divination from souls). From the Greek word came the Latin version, necromantea, from which we get necromancy. Typical places where these rites were conducted were tombs, cemeteries or even old battlefields. Such locations were called psuchagogion, which were drawing places of ghosts. Individuals who summoned ghosts or shades were called psuchagogoi, or evocators of ghosts. (These and other quotes and information were distilled from the book Greek and Roman Necromancy, most notably, from the introduction.)

Greeks and Romans believed that the spirit or shade departed the body at death. It wandered around the burial site, visited places habituated in life or ended up in the underworld of Hades, or more rarely, the Eleusinian fields. These visitations of the dead to places of the living occurred only at certain times of the night, when most of the populace had gone to sleep. People of antiquity loved life, so the perception of death was dismal, lonely, a heartbreaking end to everything good. Shades of the dead often were harbingers of gloom and doom, sometimes directed to curse other living people with their unhappy blessings. The most accessible of the dead shades were those who were prone to restlessness, such as the ghosts of untimely or violent deaths.

Archaeological traces have been found at certain locations where necromancy was practiced as a kind of permanent oracle. These special places were called by the Greeks, nekuomanteion. They were usually located in places such as natural mephitic caves or lakes where water and brimstone appeared to mix; offering clues to an intrusion of the stygian underworld. Four famous locations were Acheron in Thesprotia, Avernus in Campania (Italy), Tainaron, which was located on the Mani peninsula of the southern Peloponnese, and Heracleia Pontica, located on the south coast of the Black Sea.  Two of these locations had caves, but Avernus was a deep lake formed by a volcanic cone and Acheron was a lakeside precinct with indications of vulcanism. Both lakes were reputed to be without birds, since the mephitic fumes would have killed or driven them away.

Petitioners who visited an oracle of the dead would undergo certain kinds of rites performed in dimly lit caves or at night next to turgid lakes, guided by a leader who would conduct the rituals and speak the incantations. Offerings were given and the petitioner would spend the night in that place to obtain what he sought through incubation, by dreams, visions, or a ghostly visitation. The guide also had the responsibility to explain the dreams and visions later on, helping the petitioner to understand their meaning. Incubation was only one of many different ways of contacting the dead, it was the most prevalent method.

In Homer's Odyssey, book 11, a classic rite of necromancy is performed by Odysseus under the direction of his lover, Circe. Odysseus and his men dig a pit with their swords, around it pour libations to the dead consisting of milk, honey, sweet wine, water and then sprinkling barley over the mixture. He prays to the dead and sacrifices a pair of black sheep so the blood collects in the pit. The carcasses of the sheep are flayed and burned, then he prays to Hades and Persephone. He and his men ward the pit with their swords keeping out any unwanted spirits who are drawn to the offerings. They allow only those to whom Odysseus wishes to speak a draft from the fresh blood. After drinking it, a shade can assume a temporary visible appearance and converse with the living. Odysseus talks to several ghosts, but the real purpose of the rite is to consult with the dead prophet Tiresias, seeking to learn the future and the way home. Circe is Odysseus's divine guide and instructor in the necromantic rite, she assists him in analyzing and deciphering the experience, acting as the archetypal witch. Also, the location of the rite is important, too, for it resides next to a cave leading into the underworld. Many other characters who acted as mediums of the dead in antiquity, both real and fictional, were female practitioners of witchcraft. Necromancy was not their specialty, it was rather one of many different techniques that they could use.

This tale was followed by other examples, but it would seem that the necromantic rite, as described by Homer, was already fully formed and traditionally established. By the 5th century, there were professional necromancers who were called goetes - sorcerers, derived from the Greek word goos, which was the mourning wail of the dead. Such individuals were reputed to have the ability to manipulate ghosts. Pythagoreans also had a reputation of being a kind of Greek shaman who not only used necromantic spells as their stock and trade, but could travel to the underworld themselves. Another kind of magic that was practiced and related to necromancy was a divination called lecanomancy, which was a ghostly scrying into a bowl of liquid.

The Greek Egyptian Magical Papyri also had some representations of necromancy, particularly papyrus PGM IV (Paris Papyrus), which contains a group of spells associated with an individual called 'Pitys.' These spells extracted prophecies from corpses or the heads of corpses, bringing to mind the kind of magic performed by the classic witch. Such an individual might have had skulls or heads that talked, but they would have been animated by one's familiar spirit rather than a spirit of the dead. There seemed to be some differences between the places and individuals who acted as oracles of the dead, and individuals who practiced sorcery and witchcraft. The latter typically acted in a manner that exploited the dead rather than treating them with reverence.

Finally, the actual description of necromancy as a method of reanimating and interrogating corpses was first introduced by the poet Lucan, who made it part of the repertoire of the evil Thessalian witch Erictho. She uses it to gain information from a hapless dead Pompeian soldier. Erictho first pours hot blood and a concoction of herbs into the dead body, and then conjures the shade of the soldier, forcing it to enter the corpse to question it. This was a fictitious literary work, and it was followed by others, most notably by Apuleius and Heliodorus. However, there seems to be little evidence that this type of working ever really occurred, that oracles of the dead and necromancy usually had much greater respect and veneration for the deceased than what is depicted in these satirical stories. Later on they may have become the primary impetus for judging the necromantic art as nothing more than the conjurations of demons. It passed into the Christian era completely debased and more the stuff of horror stories or propaganda against the practice of witchcraft.

So what would a modern practitioner of paganism, magic or witchcraft want with the magical system of necromancy? First of all, to a modern pagan, necromancy would represent a legitimate system of divination for the honored dead or ancestors. Secondly, one should consider that a magician will conjure whatever spirit serves his or her needs, but that it be done in fashion that doesn’t dishonor the dead. There isn’t any need for the use of actual bones and skulls, or exhuming some burial and pilfering body parts for use in magical spells. Scrying with magic mirrors or bowls filled with dark fluid would also be useful, as well as establishing a kind of temporary nukuomanteion or oracle of the dead at an appropriate place, such as at the entrance of a cave or in a cave, an underground grotto or a shallow and swampy lake. Learning to obtain visitations through incubation and the use of a conjuration language, like that found in the Greek Magical Papyri, would also be quite appropriate. Offers to the dead would be a requirement, although sacrificing animals could be replaced with food and drink offerings, perhaps given in a triple manner, through burial, burning in a fire and pouring libations into a lake, stream or river. There are many options available to the modern pagan who seeks to work necromancy as it was done in antiquity.

For this autumn season of All-Souls and Samhain, I leave it to the curious and the ambitious to discover the ancient means to contact the dead and to gain their wisdom. May the shadows bless you and fascinate you as they have me.

Bibliography -

Ogden, Daniel (2001) Greek and Roman Necromancy Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Frater Barrabbas

Monday, October 26, 2009

Concepts About the Magical Mass

I thought that it would be useful to take the introduction of my article on the Magical Mass part two and present as an article to your consideration. The magical mass is an integral part of the ritual magic that I work, and it is also a basic staple of the magic of the Order.

The magical mass is an integral part of the ritual lore of the Order. Even the degree structure simulates that of the Catholic Church and there is a mixing of the concepts of magician and priest. The mass is used to generate magical power and produces a field or atmosphere of spiritual influences, functioning as the power base for advanced magical workings. Certainly, elemental and talismanic workings do not need such a base, but evocation does require it, so the initiate of this Order is expected to master this ritual. From the third degree onward, magical workings require some kind of magical mass and also the performance of some kind of benediction. Yet the initiate needs to understand how the magical mass works and why it is necessary.

The magical mass is a complex ritual that has many components and is derived from the pre-Vatican II mass liturgy, which is known as the Tridentine Mass. I cannot assume that the reader of this article is knowledgeable of this rite, since it was completely replaced with a new mass liturgy in the late 1960's through the authority of Pope Paul VI. Therefore, this article will serve as a heuristic device to instruct initiates in the structure of the original mass and how it has been expropriated into specialized mass rites for use in magical workings. We will fully examine all of the parts of the original Tridentine Mass and explain about the nature of the magical qualities of those sections (if any) and why they are important (or not) to a magical mass. The purpose of this exploration is to show that certain sections of the original mass are important to the performance of a magical mass and can’t be omitted without destroying the function of the ritual itself.

This is the second article about the magical mass and it contains a lot more detail about the structure of that rite than the previous one. In the first article we examined the topic of the magical mass along with the phenomenon of cultural expropriation, how the ritual of the mass was extracted into the communion rites of Wicca and Neopaganism. We also examined the proponents of using the mass in a ritual magical context, as opposed to a purely liturgical one. In this article we will continue with our analysis of these rites, and focus on four basic topics. These topics are:
  • Introduction and basic components of the magical mass
  • Uses of the magical mass - the specific function in ritual magical workings
  • An analysis of the Catholic Mass and its basic structure
  • An analysis of the various magical masses used in the Order.
The emphasis of this article will be on the various magical mass rites that are used in the Order of the Gnostic Star, since these rites serve both a liturgical and a magical function. A liturgical function is where the mass is performed in a strictly religious setting and a magical function is where a mass is performed to energize and sacralize an environment and/or tools for a specific magical operation. So the mass rites in the Order serve to propagate a spiritual theme that is neopagan and also reminiscent of some ancient forms of Gnosticism and Hermeticism, which is the bulwark of our magical heritage and organization.

In the Order, the mass is performed specifically to generate sacraments that are used to charge the magic circle and to vitalize the rites of magical evocation, using the sacraments instead of a bloody sacrifice.  More advanced workings require the use of the magical mass to establish the spiritual purity and powers associated with their more lofty objectives. The magician functions as both magical practitioner and ordained priest in order to perform these advanced rites, and the initiatory grades of the Order reflect this requirement.

I would like to reiterate and discuss the basic components of the magical mass as taken from the previous article (the Magical Mass part one). There are seven basic components, and they are:

1. Devotions and offerings to the Godhead - preparations for communion
2. Invocation of the Godhead - creation of an Image or Imago
3. Assumption of the Godhead - priest/ess assumes a trance and becomes the Eidolon
4. Blessing of the Drink and Food via the breath and/or other tool or mechanism
5. Offering the Sacraments and their veneration
6. Communion
7. Thanksgiving

Devotion, prayers and verbal offerings set the spiritual tone of the mass and they identify the pantheon of spiritual entities that the mass is targeting. The offerings can be physical, often representing a sanctification of the ritual area through burning incense and aspurging with lustral water. Other offerings can be made, including the setting of food and drink to be consumed exclusively by the spirits, the arraying of flowers and bouquets and even the deploying and arranging of statues and figurines. All of these practices represent the devotional nature of enticing and drawing the spiritual entities of the pantheon into the domain of the temple or grove.

The performance of meditations, prayers, contemplation, rosaries or prayer-bead-counting, adoration, the saying of psalms of praise and glorification are also used to establish the religious base for the performance of the mass. In addition, the celebrant, assistants, and even the congregation should have performed some kind of personal ablutions to cleanse themselves both externally and internally. Those who perform or even attend the mass are in a highly rarefied mental state, prepared to experience spiritual phenomena on the highest level possible. The magical mass is not conducted like a typical Sunday service in a church, with a bored and half-present congregation and performed by an indifferent clergy. A magical mass is conducted by initiated magicians for a specific magical effect, and so its relevance is acute and most profound

Specific godhead invocations of various types typify a magical mass. These invocations are not just the typical exhortations to the gods of the targeted pantheon. They are magical invocations, and may include magical words of power and statements of profound spiritual insight. These invocations are meant to magically summon the spirits of the pantheon in a tangible manner that a non-magical mass would never attempt.

The first major deviation in a magical mass from one that is not magical is that the assumption of the Deity is neither assumed nor implied, but is, in fact, performed in a deliberate manner, so that the priest and celebrant briefly becomes imbued with the spiritual powers and authorities of the godhead associated with the targeted pantheon. This stage is critical to a magical mass, so it is always deliberate and never just merely assumed. In some cases, the assistants and the congregants may treat the celebrant as if he or she were the physical embodiment of the god, becoming a kind of eidolon of the Deity (such as with the Grail High Priestess in the High Solemn Mass of the Grail).

The blessing of food and drink, which are to be consumed by the congregation and also used in the magical working, is done by the celebrant acting as the eidolon or physical representative of the godhead. All actions that are so performed are considered sacred magical acts. In this manner, the process of transubstantiation is made possible since it is an operation of the godhead and not one of mortal humanity. The celebrant uses the hands and the breath to bless and transform the bread and wine into elements of the godhead. The act of transubstantiation causes the host or bread fragments and the chalice of wine to become the analogue of the flesh and blood of the godhead - a living sacrifice of the Deity for the benefit of humanity. Blessings are made through these sacraments, since they are living artifacts of the godhead and imbued with great spiritual power; they emanate a spiritual force associated with the Deity. The operation of transubstantiation and the use of the sacraments to project the power of the godhead are truly magical processes and represent the core actions of the magical mass.

As analogues of the physical substances of the godhead, the sacraments are venerated and worshiped as if they were the godhead itself. This further verifies their potent connection with the Deity, in whose name these substances were transformed. The magician celebrant glorifies these substances, and in addition to partaking of them and dispensing them to the assistants and congregants, they are also used to empower the magic circle, sacralizing it in a manner that makes it of one substance with the godhead, a veritable exemplar of the Deity. Thus the magic circle becomes the body and spirit of that godhead. All actions that are performed within it are now imbued with the authorities and powers vested in that Deity, giving them greater relevance and spiritual force.

In addition, magical tools, such as the transmutar wand, sigils and characters drawn on parchment are exposed to both the consecrated bread and wine so as to consecrate them as well. A small amount of wine and a fragment of host are placed in a small container, and this is put in the triangle of evocation. It is used as the means of manifesting the summoned spirit. The sacralizing of the magic circle is performed in the magical rite of benediction, which is an ancillary ritual that is used to project the powers of the host into the eight points of the power octagon.

Communion is where the sacraments are given as sacred food and drink, to be consumed by all partakers as a special method of spiritual and magical fortification. The communion operation also acts as a mechanism where a powerful alignment is forged between the godhead and the recipients, so that the Deity has achieved a potent union with all those who have drunk and eaten of its symbolic blood and flesh.  As previously stated, communion is also where the sacraments can be used to charge tools, bless talismans, sigils and magical characters, and even feed the magically activated statues of the deities of the magician’s personal pantheon.

When communion is completed, then the magician as priest performs the proper ablutions on the mass utensils, such as the chalice and patten, and follows this up with a series of thanksgiving prayers. After receiving the blessing and sacrament of the godhead and spirits of the pantheon, it is important to thank them for their gifts, to glorify the alignment between them and the partakers, which has now been tangibly renewed and fortified.

The basic mass structure above contains only the most essential elements, and we will see that all of the magical masses employed in the Order use a more elaborate ritual pattern than what is presented above, and this includes the abbreviated mass used by the third degree initiate (Acolyte) for the purpose of magical invocation and evocation.

The chalice and the paten are the basic tools used for the saying of a magical mass. The chalice is usually made of a precious metal, such as silver or gold, although ceramic or glass can also be used. The chalice is typically a foot or more in height, and is used exclusively for the mass. It is often consecrated and blessed before use, although using it exclusively for the mass will naturally consecrate and bless it. The paten is a disk or plate made of the same material as the chalice, and is usually around three to six inches in diameter.

In addition, the magician priest can make use of another tool, and that is called a pyx. A pyx is a container used to carry hosts that are already consecrated, and is typically a round metallic box with a hinged cover. The pyx is usually made from precious metals or has gold plating on the inside. Consecrated hosts should be handled with care, as if they were an activated fragment of the godhead itself (which from a magician’s standpoint, they are). They should be kept in either a pyx, a ciborium (a chalice with a tight fitting cover), enclosed in metallic foil (such as gold, silver, brass or even aluminum), or in a monstrance.

A monstrance is a device that displays an enclosed host through a window (for devotion and veneration), but can be held or stood upon the altar. The design of this device is described as an elaborate golden sun-burst with a crystal core mounted on a stand and topped by a cross, but simpler versions consist of just a windowed container with a simple stand. If it is used, the monstrance holds a consecrated host and acts as an elaborate lens, used to project the powers of the host throughout the temple environment. It is not required to be used in our magical lore, since the host is not kept whole. It is rather broken up into eight pieces and these are distributed to the four watchtowers and four angles of the magick circle.

Other items that are used in the magical mass are fully described in the greater article on the magical mass, but these represent the basic tools that one should collect and reserve for the saying of a magical mass. The magician uses the same strict rules that an ordained priest uses in the care and deliberations given to the performance of this rite.

Frater Barrabbas

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts About the Bornless One Invocation Rite

Perhaps one of the most compelling rituals that I have ever studied or attempted to perform is known as the Bornless Rite, which I have called the Bornless One Invocation rite. It’s part of the extended Golden Dawn lore, but has little or no documentation accompanying it. In fact, it doesn’t even fit in with the rest of the extended Golden Dawn rituals and writings, it’s just there, alone and seemingly completely out of context. However, it was not at all ignored, since the language that it is uses is remarkable, powerful and profoundly relevant even today. It is most likely the crown jewel of the Golden Dawn tradition, but the question remains - where’s the rest of the jewels that go with it - and where is the crown? These questions have been in my mind for years, but there really wasn’t any ability on my part to answer this question, because it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered the source material for this ritual. I admit that I have been a bit slow in making that connection, since other magicians have been examining that source material for over a decade or more.

Aleister Crowley was quite taken with this ritual as well, since he published a version of this rite in the Equinox, which is called Liber Samakh. This article has been used and studied for quite some time. However, whether Crowley knew the source of this ritual, or like me, accepted it as is (with modifications and re-working) is unknown. He does mention revising the ritual with corrected versions of the god-names and barbarous words of evocation, but careful examination shows that he may not have known the actual source of this ritual.

Later occultists identified where the ritual came from, although I am at a loss to state exactly who first made this discovery (was it Stephen Flowers?). Needless to say, I myself didn’t discover it until I checked my assumption that the ritual was taken from the Leyden Papyrus located in the British Museum. Of course, I didn’t find it there, and further research revealed a much larger work that was both obscure and significant, and that is the now famous Greek Magical Papyri in Translation (Chicago University Press - 1992), released in an edited format by Hans Dieter Betz, but the translations have been accomplished by many different scholars since the scrolls were first discovered in the early 19th century.

The Greek Magical Papyri have their own unique history that is quite interesting. According to sketchy historical records, the different sections of papyrus were originally a single massive scroll, buried in the tomb of some unknown important and wealthy person in Thebes, perhaps sometime in the first or second century of the common era. This tomb was discovered, illegally entered into and its contents pilfered by professional tomb robbers, of the kind that have been stealing the contents of tombs great and small since dynastic times. The massive scroll, however, deemed to be worth less than the artifacts, eventually found its way to Cairo, to be sold along with a myriad of other stolen artifacts to European collectors who had ready cash for such priceless pieces.

When all this occurred is unknown, however, the scroll was sold to a foreign collector named Jean d’Anastasi, who was an ambassador to the Egyptian pasha in Alexandria, and from there, in 1820's, the collection of papyri found their way to several European museums, where they continue to be examined and studied to this day. Apparently, seeking to maximize his profits, d’Anastasi cut the papyrus scroll into smaller sections. Each of these museums had their own section, and each, apparently, thought that their section was unique. It wasn’t until almost the end of the 19th century that scholars, by accident, noted that the different sections of papyri were in fact from the same massive scroll. They began to translate and pull the different sections together so that once again, at least in translation, the great work is once again whole - or at least more so than it was previously.

This collection of scrolls contains perhaps the only extent copy of magical practices and spells as they were supposedly used in Egypt in antiquity. It’s possible that the collection spans a long period, and the original collector pulled together a very heterogeneous batch of magical spells, recopying them into a scroll that was apparently continually added to. The text is written predominantly in Greek, but other parts are written in Coptic and even Demotic. The spells incorporate magical ideas and practices from all over the known world, including Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, Persian, Chaldean, Christian and Gnostic god names, techniques and materials. The magical spells are representative of what magic probably was like from that time period, incorporating the religious beliefs, practices and esoteric notions of all of the peoples of the Graeco-Roman world. This shouldn’t be too surprising, since other rare sources of magical writings (Hermetic, Gnostic or Christian) show a decidedly heterogenous mixture of nearly every religious creed and belief in antiquity. However, these rare glimpses show that magicians were anything but strict sectarians, and would use whatever worked for them.

These spells cover the gamut of typical magic, such as various kinds of divination, love spells, money and buried treasure spells, curses, healing spells, exorcisms, the creation of magic artifacts and the summoning of spirits, whether gods, powerful entities of obscure origin, or even souls of the dead. Yet the most intriguing thing found in all of these spells are the collection of powerful and barbarous words of evocation, a seemingly plethora of what historians call “verba ignota” (unknown words). Some of the magic words are obvious corruptions of identifiable god names from various religions, others are more obscure and even indecipherable. But these words of power and magic, even after all these centuries, when properly pronounced and intoned, still have a remarkable effect - so this is the value that these spells have, the words of power.

The Bornless rite was taken from one of these scrolls, pulled from its source context and given a name remotely like it’s original. The section of scroll that it was liberated from is known to scholars as PGM V, lines 96 through 172. The full blown ritual is actually an exorcism, where the magician invokes his highest godhead in order authoritatively order the spirit out of the body of the victim. The name of this godhead is the “Headless One”, and that functions as a rubric for the spell. It could be surmised that Mathers, having been introduced to the British museum’s section of the scroll and an 1850's translation of it, expropriated the interesting part of the ritual to be used in the advanced lore of the Golden Dawn. It may have been his intention to liberate other parts as well, perhaps to build a magical system based on that which was practiced in antiquity, but this never occurred, and the Bornless rite was stored alone with other bits of ritual lore until Aleister Crowley published his own version of it in the Equinox. Some editions of the Golden Dawn published by Israel Regardie had this ritual in its original form included, other editions omitted it for unknown reasons. Needless to say, this is what the practitioners of modern ritual magic have to work with, at least until recently.

A question about the name that the Golden Dawn chose for this rite has rankled a number of occultists, who have said that the original title for this ritual is the “Headless One”, which is not the same thing as the Bornless One. However, I have a theory that would explain why the title, Bornless One is actually a good one. In Hebrew, the word head can have the additional meaning of "beginning", and an example is the first word of Genesis, which in Hebrew is "Brashet." This word means "in the beginning" - or literally, "in the head", since "rosh" means head. Similarly, Rosh Hashanna - beginning of the Year - New Year (literally "head of the year"). I suspect that the Hebrew word Rosh has cognates in Arabic and even Hamitic languages (such as Egyptian). So perhaps, with that being said, the Greek translation of "Headless" might actually be from the original Egyptian, which would have meant, "Without Beginning", or "Bornless", similar to the Greek "Autogenes" - self-begotten, which is a powerful Gnostic name for an aspect of the Godhead. I believe that the term Headless has this meaning and is comparable to Autogenes. But, that's just my opinion. The proof would be to trace the word to either Coptic or Egyptian, and see if it's used in a similar manner to the way it's used in Hebrew and Arabic.

After learning about the real source of the Bornless rite, and purchasing a copy of Hans Dieter Betz’s book, I decided that I should at least look over all of the rituals in that massive tome and see if there were any other rituals that might be useful. My premise was that if one could expropriate one very powerful ritual from it, then why not repeat the exercise, especially since I had a resource that was much larger than Mather’s had over a hundred years ago. So I looked over the collection of spells and began to pick anything that really grabbed my attention, knowing that such an exercise would have to be done many times and in minute detail to give the massive collection a fair assessment. So, I performed this exercise, going over all of the known spells in the Greek Egyptian Papyri collection. I found several excellent additional sources that can be used as additional lore to the Bornless Rite, producing, what I think would be a complete set of rites for that type of magick. What I found required some extensive rewriting and reinterpreting, but it was not any more difficult than what the Golden Dawn did 120 years ago to produce the Bornless Rite. I am quite tickled by the whole process that I found additional cool ritual lore, and I am looking forward to adding more rituals to the lore of the Order.

So has anyone else done magical work with this extensive collection of rituals and spells? The answer is, of course, “yes”, but no one  (that I am aware of) has actually thought of adding companion rites to the Golden Dawn Bornless rite. Other authors have actually done the task of reclamation to make some of this lore available to practicing magicians, most notably, Tony Mierzwicki’s book, Graeco Egyptian Magick (which I very highly recommend). Then there is the book Hermetic Magic by Stephen Flowers, a lesser work in my opinion, but also of value to the practitioner. These books assemble a workable system of magic from the extent source materials, but I do wonder why no else has come up with the idea of looking for additional rituals to accompany the Bornless rite? Certainly, GD students and high magick practitioners have known about the source for the Bornless Rite for some time, but no one thought of producing additional lore. The loneliness of this rite does scream for additional companion rites, or at least that is how I interpret it. I guess no one else saw the insular-ness of the Bornless Rite but me.

I would, therefore, assume that the Bornless rite is part of a suite of rites that would include rituals that would assist the magician in assuming the spirit of the Bornless One. Other tasks would be consecrating a magical ring, which would act as a powerful link to deploy the magic of that assumption. A rite of envisioning would also be appropriate, one that would allow the magician to perform a kind of active divination, projecting his true will into the present or future, and so fulfill the will of the godhead. So, to recap, I have deduced the following rituals to be part of the Bornless One suite of rituals, making for a total of four rites in all. In addition, I have also decided to merge the Abramelin ordeal with the Bornless rite, but perform it using one and half lunar cycles instead of the traditional six or eighteen months. I would also perform the Bornless rite as a climax to the ordeal and not at the two to four times a day that Aleister Crowley proposed in Liber Samekh. This is the list:

1. Bornless Rite and the temple stairway of four Qabbalistic Worlds and Ante Chamber of Ultimate Spirit (this is already done)
2. Assumption of the Bornless One and vestment of powers and wisdom of the Monad (extension of the existing Bornless Rite)
3. Consecration of the Magician's Ring (the ring is used as a physical link to the Bornless spirit)
4. Rite of Envisioning (Bornless Spirit vision quest)

These rituals were taken from PGM IV (the Paris Papyrus), PGM VII and PGM XII, and they should be completed in the very near future, since I am currently working on them as I write this article. Much of this material hasn’t been used in over two thousand years, but they are still very valuable and quite powerful, requiring only an extraction and integrating them into a modern ritual structure. (I have also found that Stephen Flowers had also identified some of the spells in his book that I have chosen, but since I am using them to create companion rites for the Bornless One, they won’t be used in a similar manner at all.)

Reclamation has many different approaches. Some might seek to reconstruct the rituals in some manner, perhaps skipping the animal sacrifices and other dubious practices, and others will just pull out the words of power and use them in an analogous rite. I respect both of these approaches, and in fact, my workings tend to give justice to both, since I am more faithful to the actual original use and purpose of these spells.

While I was pouring through the various spells, I found something quite interesting. There is a pseudo Egyptian-Jewish Eighth Book of Moses (PGM XIII)  that I would like to carefully examine, and I suspect I will find more gems amongst the thousands of mundane spells as well. I also invite others to carefully look over the Greek Magical Papyri to find yet other gems and useful spells to reclaim and bring into a 21st century context. I suspect that in time, there will be more rituals culled from this collection than what I am presently proposing, or what previous authors have already done.

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thoughts about the Pagan Nature of Deity

"Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand,
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover's fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110 -115 - Wm. Shakespeare

Inside the Box

In a number of my blog entries I have touched on the subject of Deity and how a witch and ritual magician defines that entity. So I have decided to take it on as a main topic. This will hopefully define what I am talking about, whether as a practicing witch, ritual magician, or an occultist in the Western Mystery Tradition. This is not going to be particularly easy nor is it going to be neat and tidy, so please bear with me. One could also classify this discussion as the nature of the spirit theory of magic as it applies to the Godhead.

Back many years ago when I was just a witchling in training, I was taught that the Godhead of Witchcraft consisted of a Goddess and a God. This became classified later (by sociologists) as a duo-theological premise, which characterizes witchcraft beliefs derived from the Gardnerian tradition of Witchcraft. The Alexandrian tradition that I am a member of uses a minor variation of its Gardnerian source and shares most points in common with it. It would seem that the many Wiccans who draw their literary sources from Llewellyn books also subscribe to these beliefs about the God and Goddess.

So all of these witches would characterize their Deity in probably the same manner, and would apply to it pagan mythology loosely appropriated from classical Greece, Rome and Brythonic Celtic sources. We were taught and believed in an immortal celestial Goddess who was the source of all life and a mother goddess, and her mortal consort, the Horned God. There was also the pair of the Moon Goddess and the Sun God as well. These two pairs were not, however, pulled together into any kind of tight system. They just represented an alternative pairing.

All of these theological musings remained facile, loosely configured, compared to various other pagan religions and believed in without question. There were some other qualities that were tossed into the mix, such as the triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother and Crone, and the Green Man, who seemed to be a vegetative variation of the Horned God. There was also a divine daughter whose name was taken from antiquity as Aradia or Herodotus, and an Oak King and a Holly King who were engaged in eternal combat. We also accepted certain Celtic mythic lore, such as stories from the Mabinogion, Irish and Nordic sagas, and even Greek and Roman sources. It was, in word, a hotchpotch - a kind of assembly with little order or sense.

Of course, this was before the advent of heathenism, which has proved to be a movement that at least attempted to be more cogent of those practices and beliefs derived from verifiable historical sources, whether native writings/practices or archeological reconstructions and theories. Heathenism has forced classical witchcraft to become more consistent and to acknowledge verifiable sources where possible. This has caused some adherents in the various traditions of witchcraft to admit to the contrived nature of a duo-theology and they have begun to practice a more polytheistic liturgy in addition to their traditional teachings and written sources, such as the Book of Shadows. However, Llewellyn and other publishing companies have continued to promote this duo-theological belief of a heterosexual Goddess and God to such an extent that it has become something of a inflexible doctrine.

What this means is that a true examination of the actual nature of pagan deity becomes almost impossible when it is made into a devoutly accepted tenet. This has locked traditional adherents into an orthodox position requiring them to believe in a Goddess and God pair. In many cases, witches trained in the classical traditions are unable to expand their concept of Godhead and freely admit to multiple and even conflicting perspectives. Instead they have worked tirelessly to build a theology and liturgical practice that has at least some consistency, yet still seems to be artificially contrived. However, what they really need to do is to examine the nature of pagan deity without any bias, expectations or preconceived notions - otherwise nothing can be learned or gained. In other words, they need to start thinking outside of the box.

What are these conflicting perspectives? They are the simultaneous belief in multiple and distinct deities, in a divine pair of deities (typically male and female), and in the belief that all deities merge to form a unity of being that is greater than the sum of its parts. There are other considerations as well, such as realizing that the nature of deity is mutable and highly variable. To insist on a heterosexual pair of deities and no other is to ignore the fact that nature has made human beings to behave in a multiple of genders, not just male or female or heterosexual. A realistic approach to deity would have to admit that the same variations found in human nature would also be found in deity, including being sexually neutral and a hybrid of both male and female. All possibilities must exist and therefore, must be recognized and acknowledged in some manner.

Another consideration is that pagans in antiquity lacked any kind of formal or structured theology where everything neatly fit together. What could be said is that it was consistent, in other words, it was based on real practices and belonged to an existing and living culture. Now that paganism no longer has a living culture to give it depth, it can lack the basic consistency of having the powerful elements of language (terminology), songs, stories, beliefs, traditional practices and even food recipes as well as magic to establish its core beliefs and liturgy. Modern paganism existing in Christian dominated countries, especially in the U.S., can be more contrived and artificially structured, therefore, lacking the consistency of a living culture. How can this obstacle be overturned? Are we basically incapable of ever really approaching our faith in a deep and comprehensive manner? I think that there are some things that modern pagans can do to powerfully remedy this situation. The first and most important thing is to rethink the whole premise of the nature of deity and cease from accepting as doctrine or dogma a belief in a heterosexual Goddess and God pair.

Outside the Box

This segues nicely into something that I have recently stumbled upon, and that is how to categorize the nature of pagan deity that exists in the world around me. I didn’t come up with these thoughts, so I must acknowledge their source, a remarkable pagan man who lives in my town named Steve Posch - the one who coined the term "Paganistan" for the Twin Cities pagan community. Steve has been conducting a discussion group on the "Olde Crafte." He discussed this topic of the nature of pagan deity there and also in a number of personal discussions with me. I am going to attempt to put down in words how I understand his opinions about this matter, or at least how I have derived them for myself.

Steve sees the world divided into two domains in regards to the pagan deities - the elder gods and the younger gods. The elder gods are like the sun, moon, stars, storms, lightening, mountains, hills, plains, large wetlands, oceans, seas, large rivers - these are signposts for pagan deities that are as old as the earth itself. The young gods are, of course, the ones that mankind has created and named, and these vary considerable from place to place, as do the people and cultures who worship them. Some of them disappear and new ones are created. Some of them have been pulled into monotheistic faiths, where previously there were many gods. Then there are the deities representing nature, specifically the horned god (Old Horney) who represents the four legged creatures and the life that animates them. There is the green man of the flora, the goddess of the wild woods, the goddess of the crops, and perhaps the over-all power of fertility that acts as the continuation of life. Steve has said that one's geographic location is very important - the local trees, flora and fauna, local rivers, creeks, lakes, standing stones, hills and valleys and the aquifers; these are the true local gods and goddesses. Often these local deities are either forgotten or unnamed, especially in localities in the U.S.

Human beings have also moved things around, made hills and valleys where there were none, planted trees and crops, built tall buildings and roads, and powered these places with electricity (think of the god of lightening) - all of these would be covered by local expressions of the deity. As pagans, it's important for us to be very much aware of our local geography and its characteristics, these are indicators for various deities. Then there are the ancestors who have given us life and personal identity (blood) and our culture with all of its various myths, beliefs, hopes and aspirations. All of this has made us who we are, and within it resides a host of local and intimate aspects of deity. They are mysterious individual beings that we should explore, discover, give them names and then offerings, love and veneration. We should treat each of them as distinct, unique and important to us individually and as a clan or tribe.

Because place has such a profound impact on the nature of one's intimate and immediate aspects of deity, we should pay attention to nature and our local geography in order to determine the true images, personalities and characteristics of our gods. This is the nature of a modern polytheism:  pay attention to your blood, clan or tribe and the place where you live and there you will discover the gods all around you, fully alive.

In the end you will find a modern pagan is a something of a pantheist, which should be expected. Leave no stone unturned or leaf unlooked at in the eternal search for pagan gods and goddesses. I have had a visionary instance myself of seeing in the leaves the many green-man faces staring back down at me from the trees during a dark night's fire, so even the leaves obscure and reveal the mystery of the gods. Keeping this uncountable plurality in mind though, there is an aspect of pagan deity that represents the union of all gods and goddesses, but that does not mean that they are indistinguishable from each other or not uniquely important. What we have here is a truly great paradox, where many gods are also in union. I choose not give a name and a quality to that unified aspect so as to keep it truly a factor of non-dualism and not monotheism, since to me the union is unity and nothing more.

So we have this world that is literally stuffed with gods and goddesses, from various cultures and times and the ones relevant to us in the here and now. Yet how do we relate to this multiplicity of deity everywhere in existence and even beyond? If we talk to the gods, pray and sing to them, give them offerings, respect and love them, how do we know that they talk back? With what do we listen to them? Being gods, are they not so far beyond us that we, who are alive and so terribly mortal, can not fathom anything really about them? That might be true if we didn’t have something of the gods within us, so in a word, the answer is yes, we can hear them and realize them quite well. For we are ensouled, having within us a spirit and even a god like unto the gods in the world around us; we can talk to them and hear them through that godhead that lives within us. In fact, I believe that were it not for that god within us, we would not be able to sense or even comprehend the nature of deity. This is because in apprehending deity, we first apprehend it within ourselves. If we see and sense deity, it's only because we ourselves are an aspect of that deity, each and every one of us.

Call it whatever you like: Spirit, Over-Soul, Higher Self, God/dess Within, Atman, Genius, Holy Guardian Angel or Augoeides, it represents us as beings like the gods. It is our eternal, immortal aspect of self, that which never dies or knows diminishment. We are usually not even remotely aware of it, let alone conscious of its existence, since it does not share in our mental and physical identity. It is our true self, pure, unalloyed and undiluted - beyond life and death, yet very much a part of all life. It is another paradox, but one that releases us to a more profound and wondrous inner being. I believe that if we can become even a bit conscious of that being within us, just for a moment, we can be guaranteed a kind of immortality when we die; living in and through the spirit of all life. This being of spirit that lives within us is directly connected to the union of all beings, including the gods. To become aware of it is to become aware of the union of all being, and what an ecstasy that awareness brings.

To be fully awakened every moment in that inner union of all being is to live, think and act like a god. Such is the paradox of the living and breathing godhead of which we all are a part. Our task is to ultimately become fully awakened and conscious within that inner divine self. Our bodies may age and die, but our essence is eternal. This is, I believe, the great mystery of the gods, and how humans may become like them for a brief moment of time. Magick is the key to unlocking that mystery, or so I believe it to be. Only time will tell if this is true or if it’s just another illusory goat path leading into the mountains of nowhere.

So this is the nature of deity that I find myself exploring and believing in. To me the various names of gods and goddesses and the myriad of creeds all speak of the surface of deity but never the core or the depth of that Great Spirit. To invoke Greek, Roman, Celtic, Hebrew, Christian or any other culturally defined deity from the past, present or from faraway lands is to invoke a mask of deity, and not the deity itself. Perhaps this is why when I finally understood the nature of the Stang, it became for me the place mark of the mystery of deity and nature - the unnamed and powerfully intrinsic enfolding Spirit of All. The emphasis is, of course, on the unnamed part. Our task is to discover the name and then to use it to discover ourselves.

Frater Barrabbas