Thursday, December 31, 2015

Magic 101 Revisited Again

My previous article stirred up some interesting comments and produced some really engaging points of view. I am, of course, referring to the article “Beware Tilting Against Windmills” where I discuss how performing a binding ritual against a major world organization is probably the wrong kind of magic to use in such an endeavor. A binding ritual is an intimate type of magical working, and performing magic on a global level is much too broad for an intimate rite to have much effect. I also questioned whether one could establish an effective or reliable magical link to such a large and nebulous group of people. I never said it was impossible, but that it would be difficult to define a credible target when the group in question consists of an aggregate of individuals loosely organized under an idealized state apparatus. It would be better to identify specific key individuals, but still, a binding spell would require something intimate to make the connection to any targeted individuals. (Possessing Al-Baghdadi’s head scarf would probably be a good object upon which to base an intimate link.)

Additionally, these individuals are extreme religious fanatics who believe that they are functioning as the instrument of God as they perform various acts of barbarism and militarized terrorism. How any magician could think that their magic could intervene and topple such an organization is the height of hubris and specious thinking. Religious extremists would be protected by their zealous faith from any negative thought-forms or magical attacks, and thankfully, bullets and bombs do have an immediate impact. However, even a counter military force cannot eliminate the ideals upon which they are grounded. This is an implacable war of ideas, and as such, it can only be won when the hearts and minds of enough of the populace on both sides who support it are transformed.(Think Lebanon in the 1980's.)

Some of the comments that I received indicated that perhaps other forms of magic might be more credible; such as astrological based magic, directing one of the invoked Cherubim or Seraphim to intervene, summoning and directing one of the Enochian Governors of that locale to execute a curse or some other kind of working that would allow a remote target to be accessed without an intimate magical link. Another person seemed to think that I had suggested that such magic was technically impossible, and of course, that is not the case. I have previously stated that performing a combined binding and mirror spell would probably produce no discernible results. It could also produce a personal backlash. Another individual stated that based on the premises of Chaos magic that performing any kind of rite and then taking credit for any positive result was an appropriate response because it would affirm the magic and empower those who performed it. I found this kind of reasoning to be questionable, but only in the context of this magic. I think that when the scale of a working is global one must establish and state specific objectives for a specific period of time and then determine afterwards if it indeed actually obtained the results. Because of the numerous parties engaged in this conflict in both Syria and Iraq it is impossible to isolate anything that could be objectively given as proof showing that the magic was successful, especially when the objective is so general and not grounded in time.

Here’s an example of this kind of specious reasoning. Let’s say I perform a magical working in the next month or two, and my objective is to ensure that Hillary Clinton is elected president next November. I don’t do anything else to make certain that my magical objective is successful. I just perform the magic and then quietly wait for the outcome. If Hillary Clinton wins the election then I can claim that it was my magic that gave her the victory. Had I not worked my magic, she would have lost the election, so I am the defacto “king maker” who has changed the history of the U.S. and the world. Of course this is quite silly, and it would be difficult to prove that I was wrong in making such a claim, but it would also be equally difficult (if not impossible) for me to prove that my claim was true. From a scientific standpoint, I would be required to objectively prove that my claim was true, and failing that, my claim would be considered inconclusive at best, or nominally false. A real test would be if I worked my magic and then predicted that Hillary Clinton would win by 10% of the vote, and additionally, 80% of the down-ballot Democratic tickets would also win. If these conditions were met, my claim would be certainly more credible; but even then, I would have to objectively define the mechanism that linked my magical action to the expected results. There could also be other explanations for making such a successful claim, such as clairvoyance or possible insider information.

Don’t misread what I am saying. I do believe that magic can influence outcomes on a global level, but there is a mechanism for how such a thing could be done - it is not the same as working magic on yourself. I have always advised my students, and I have taken this advice into my own magical work, that material change of any kind always requires mundane steps to be simultaneously executed. If you need to find a job, you don’t work magic to find one and then sit on your ass waiting for it to materialize. You perform your magic and you also look for work, with the caveat that the magic will help bend the laws of probability so that you will be successful.

However, making something happen for yourself or a client, and making something happen in your community or even on a global level requires a very different approach. It still requires mundane steps, but they are orchestrated so that many hands join together for a worthy cause. The greater the scale of the magical objective then the greater the population of those assisting in making it happen. Witches and pagans who are connected with the ecological or progressive political movements (in the East and West coast areas) have demonstrated that combining magic with public activism is an excellent way of making things happen in both local and national levels. Let me give you a hypothetical example.

Suppose there is wilderness area not far from where you live that has been a source of pleasure and wonderful recreation for you and your friends for many years. Let’s say that a large multi-national logging and mining company has managed to secure the rights to logging and also fracking that area for natural gas. It is not a national or state park, but it has been public land for a long time. This corporation, along with state and local politicians, have cut a deal, and the press has reported that the company will extract these resources supposedly without causing much harm to the natural pristine area. This sounds a bit too good to be true, so a bit of research reveals that this company has a history of destroying the land that it logs and mines and has never had to clean up the environment after they were done. They have paid fines and quietly dealt with public claims, but they also have a number of politicians in their pockets to mitigate the consequences. This has allowed them to lucratively engage in their business without much in the way of consequences.

Of course, you are opposed to this company mining and logging in an area that you have personally enjoyed for years, and you decide to do something about it. You also happen to be quite good at magic and you are a practicing pagan. You decide to work magic against this corporation to stop it from proceeding with its proposed mining and logging project. If you perform a binding spell on the company’s logo (and do nothing else), do you think that anything will change? However, there is a way to tackle this objective using both magic and public activism. This is the basic magic 101 way to get something done on the material plane - do the magic and also the mundane steps.

The first thing that you do is to arouse your friends and neighbors to oppose this project. Maybe you write some letters to the newspaper, post some articles on social media, form some public protest events, hand out fliers decrying what the company intends to do to a pristine wilderness that everyone in the area has hunted, fished, camped, swam in the creeks, picnicked, and enjoyed for generations. You advertise and organize meetings and basically spread the word, getting the whole area talking about it. You also publicly disclose what the company has done in the past when they have operated in an area, and you might even post pictures that show how callous and corrupt this company really is. You have started a movement, and once started, it takes off and has a mind of its own. You continue to work magic, but you don’t just target the company. Instead you target key individuals in that company and the corrupt politicians who have supported them for campaign contributions and other perks. You could even host protest events at the residences of these targeted individuals immediately following such a magical targeting. You can also stage events at local and state offices, engaging in peaceful civil disobedience.

Of course the corporation won’t take this kind of assault lying down. They will look for dirt to publish about you and the members of your movement to try and discredit the whole thing. Their PR team will go into overdrive to try and change the direction of the public discussion and destroy the movement. Newspapers, the internet and TV will blare their message to everyone. They will also organize their own counter public campaign and create a fake grass-roots movement of their own. There might even be some investigations into the movement, false allegations made, lawsuits declared, and maybe even some underhanded blackmail or thuggery. It will be quite a nasty and vicious local war, but it will completely change everything from the way it was when everyone was quietly minding their own business. Whether you win or lose, the changes have been made and it is likely that the community will have a whole new perspective. Anyway, that is one way of taking on an organization and successfully defeating it (or not) using a combination of magic and public activism. Which technique, in your opinion, has a chance of success? Doing a binding spell or simultaneously executing a magical and public campaign?

As you can see, using the right kind of magic to effectively achieve an objective is a fundamental part of magic 101. You develop a tool box of different kinds of magic, and you determine, from a practical perspective, the correct magic to apply to a given issue or situation. That toolbox is developed over time, so an inexperienced magician will tend to use the same tool in all situations, and the resultant failures will teach him or her to expand and develop other techniques to deal with differences in focus, scale and scope. This logic applies to not only dealing with a corporation in a local community, but also effectively making changes on a global level.

If it is your objective to engage with the world and help to bring about peace to the middle east in whatever way you can then there are some obvious things that you could do. Since there is already a lot of warring factions engaging in battles and killing people, adding more negative energy, even in a partisan manner, would only make things worse if it did anything at all. Obviously, seeking peace is much more constructive, but a lot more difficult. Remember, this is a war of ideas, so promoting peace must start at a fundamental level.

The most obvious thing that one could do is to help the refugees. The second most obvious thing to do would be to support a cease fire and work within the UN to help make that happen. Another thing one could do is to promote a peaceful exposition of Islam that is completely counter to what IS-Daesh is promoting. In other words, help and assist the Muslims around the world to show that their religion is one of peace and religious tolerance. Try to eliminate public discrimination, misunderstanding and hatred towards Muslims in your local area as well as on the national level. Promote interfaith organizations that seek to help the public view Islam and other religions in a positive manner, and also show that religious extremism is a problem that affects all religions practiced in the world. While engaging in these activities, you could also work magic, alone and in groups, to help promote this idea worldwide.

Certainly, there is a constructive way of dealing with the problems of religious extremism that exists locally as well as globally. I would recommend that anyone who is serious about changing the way the world exists today by using magic would see that as an opportunity and a goal. Love is a greater power than hate, but often hatred seems to have the upper hand. It is far more difficult to look for positive and constructive ways to fix a problem that is threatening to engulf the world in an ideological war, but it is probably the only way that such problems can be permanently resolved.

To make large scale changes in the local and global arena, I recall an excellent slogan that I think works from a political activist perspective and a magical one, too. “Think globally, but act locally.”

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Beware Tilting Against Windmills

A ritual magician can be effective when working his or her magic on a local level, but does that also apply to working grandiose operations against or for celebrities, corporations, organizations or even nations? Can a magician perform magic upon a target that is remote, aggregate or famously known through the media without having some kind of actual and tangible connection? I would like to answer that question because it has been declared by a group of Golden Dawn magicians who have ambitiously claimed to have put a binding spell on the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State or Daesh. A few years ago, some famous Salem witches attempted to bind the actor and media star Charlie Sheen because he jokingly said that he was a warlock. Is this a serious claim, and can a group of magicians perform this kind of magic successfully?

What we are talking about is the supposed efficacy of a simple binding spell. For those who are not up on their thaumaturgic magic, a binding spell seeks to bind a target subject and make him or her incapable of any action, good or bad. It is a way of paralyzing someone, and any effort on their part to break the paralysis for any reason will, in fact, cause them harm. A good analogy is tying someone up with a good hemp rope so that they are immobile. If they try to fight against their bonds they will be harmed, either in a minor way, such as rope burns or circulation constriction to the limbs, or in a major way, such as falling down, choking, or even worse. The idea is that as long as someone remains relaxed and at rest, all will be fine. Of course, in real life, that never really happens. Like being tied up, a binding spell does cause harm to the target.

Another similar spell is what is called the mirror spell, which reflects back on the sender all of the negativity, violence and anger that is being emitted. These two spells are distinct and completely different. You would never use a mirror spell if you had cast a binding spell, since if someone was successfully bound it wouldn’t be needed. I guess where these two spells might be employed together would be a situation where the binding spell was too weak to work or could possibly be broken. When one spell fails perhaps the other will work, is what I would imagine the logic for grouping these two spells together. (For some reason the GD group claims to weave both together into a single spell.)

Whatever spell is deployed, the most important component to any such targeting magic is to have a good magical link. A magical link establishes the psychic connection to the target, and by the process of the Law of Similarity and the Law of Contagion, a magical link can be a representational simulacrum with a connection to the actual target. The Law of Similarity allows for a given object or person (the target) to be depicted in a symbolic manner (photograph, sigil, poppet, etc.). The Law of Contagion allows a link to be established through the possession of something that was in proximity to the target, such as a garment, hair, nail parings, blood, semen, etc. If a magical link consists of a combination of items that satisfies both the Laws of Similarity and Contagion then it is considered a strong link. Having just a photograph or a sigil of the target person’s name without any component of contagion would be considered a “weak” link. However, whether one has a strong or weak link, it is still the mind of the magician that associates them and thereby channels the generated magical power through the link. Other elements can be used to help generate a strong enough charge, such as the use of a godhead, spirit, elemental, planetary spirit, or just through the emotional powers drawn up from the magician’s reservoir. Additionally, this kind of magical link works best on a single individual or object.

A binding spell itself uses the Law of Similarity where the magician takes the established simulacrum of the target and uses charged and consecrated cords to tie it, therefore mimicking tying up and binding the target person. The resultant bound simulacrum is then buried or hidden somewhere where the target individual will cross or encounter it. The target’s home is considered the best place to put such an empowered fetish. It is also sometimes advised that the target be informed about the spell being been done so that the psychic impact becomes fully conscious and active. Still, the most important part of this working is to break the connection or link between the caster and the target. This can be done very easily if the bound simulacrum has been hidden in a place associated with the target. However, if the target individual discovers and takes possession of the simulacrum, he or she can take actions to reverse the spell and cause it to rebound on the one who cast it.

Binding spells are not perpetual spells because the target individual typically finds a way to break out of it, but not without a period of paralysis and the associated harm caused by breaking the bonds. A powerful binding spell could even cause someone to be greatly harmed or killed over time. It can cause a period of listless paralysis that can ultimately lead to complete physical neglect, causing bodily deprivation or deadly psychic-based illnesses. For this reason, binding is not considered a benign spell or one that can be cast for the sake of just immobilizing someone. The spell can be broken by the one who cast it, but that would require retrieving the simulacrum and cutting its bonds. Typically, the binding is allowed to last as long as it continues to exert an influence on the target, causing all sorts of maladies and collateral mischief as the target struggles to escape the bonds. 

As you can see, a binding spell is a very intimate type of magic that requires a close connection between the caster and the target. Even in the category of impersonal magic for hire, the target at least has some kind of relationship with the client, which makes the magic work. With that in mind, could such a spell work when the target has no relationship with either the one who is casting it or a client? Can a magician or witch cast a binding spell (or any kind of intimate spell, such as a love spell, etc.) upon a target where there is no pre-existing relationship? This question would include such individuals as celebrities, corporations, politicians, dictators, organizations, and even a rogue terrorist nation/organization such as the Islamic State.

I would propose that such a magical working would not be feasible. Could you imagine someone casting a successful love spell on Chris Hemsworth or Kim Kardashian without any prior intimate connection? I won’t say that such a working would be impossible, but it is highly improbable. The same kind of logic would apply to working a binding spell on Charlie Sheen or the Islamic State. Without an intimate connection upon which to build an effective magical link, it would be highly improbable that such a working would work. When dealing with amorphous organizations, such as corporations, nations and rogue terrorist organizations, there is the additional problem of identifying a single target upon which to focus the magic. Without a clearly defined target, it becomes obvious that such a magical working would fail.

Magical energy, which resides in the consciousness of the one casting the spell, cannot simply disappear or evaporate. It has to move somewhere, and without an intimate magical link or a clear focus, the magic will likely rebound on the spell caster. This can be either subtle or it can be magnified until it becomes a problem. The greatest enemy of anyone practicing magic, particularly spells of an intimate type, is obsession. If some ordinary guy were to work a love spell on Kim Kardashian, and really put all of his emotional power and desire into it, then I can tell you what would happen to him once the spell was cast. It would immediately affect his mind and emotions. He would become obsessed with the target of this magical working, and it is highly doubtful that Kim Kardashian would even know that he existed, unless of course he were to actually stalk her. The power generated by such a spell has to go somewhere, and it will find the path of least resistance, just like electricity. A spell performed in this manner will only end up in one’s own mind and be empowered by the imagination, perhaps even causing a significant obsession to occur. Such individuals will see any kind of unrelated public occurrence associated with the target as an indication of a successful outcome, adding a certain degree of delusion to the obsession.

This reminds me of the famous story about Don Quixote written by Cervantes. Don Quixote thought the windmills that he had encountered in the plains were giants terrorizing a village, and he attempted to defeat them by jousting with them. I will quote the passage in the famous novel to give you a better reference point in enjoying the irony.

    Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

    “What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.

    “Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”
    “Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
    —Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote's success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.

This was the famous scene that became known by the phrase “tilting with windmills,” which has the implied meaning where adversaries are misperceived and courses of action that are based on misapplied or misinterpreted heroic, romantic or idealistic justifications. It represents a vain effort against imagined adversaries for a vain goal. Of course such an effort when performed magically is not completely vain, since the target and the source are irreparable bound together within the mind of the one who casts the spell. It is just as foolish to perform this kind of spell within the context of magic as it is to “tilting with windmills” in real life.

So, for those Golden Dawn magicians who have performed a binding spell against the terrorist organization IS-Daesh and invited others to do so, what will be the result of such a spell? Since most of us in the U.S. perceive this organization to be a kind of boogeyman similar to how the former Soviet Union was perceived during the cold war, it could be stated that we are unable to clearly recognize and objectively understand the actual organization and the individuals who play a key part within it. None of us who are outside of this organization either knows or can grasp the nature of it, nor do we possess any kind of intimate link to key individuals. Focusing a spell on this organization to somehow bind it will do nothing but empower our own fears and feed the dark shadow that we have made of it. It could cause an obsession of fear and darkness that might have serious consequences.

The only reason that anyone would perform and promote this kind of magical working would be someone who was looking for the fame and attention that it would accrue. I think that this is the case, since anyone with even a small amount of magical knowledge and experience would realize that such a working would fail. The fact that this Golden Dawn group is touting the recent reversals in fortunes for the IS-Daesh organization and declaring that it is due to the binding spell that they and others have performed is not only ridiculous, but it is just the purest expression of hubris and vanity. It is another manifestation of the kind of “hucksterism” that we have learned to expect from David Griffin and his brand of the Golden Dawn. Not only are they promoting bad magic, but they are engaged in public expressions of delusion and credulity. I think that my recent declarations about David Griffin being a “milk-toast” Donald Trump-like salesman is quite true and on the mark. I think that we can now ignore him and his delusional ranting about how powerful and successful he and his compatriots are compared to the rest of us. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before something dreadful happens to him, since this kind of magic is subtle and ultimately pernicious.   

Frater Barrabbas

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holidays and Calends 2015

Here we are, nearly at the end of the year and I have posted very few blog articles this autumn. You might be wondering why that is so, since I have been quite prolific in the past. In fact there are quite a few articles already in this blog covering a wide variety of subjects, which is probably what folks are avidly reading. I know this is true because the number of pages-read counter is still moderately high even when I haven’t posted for a while.

Winter is here, although it doesn’t either feel like a full blown Minnesota winter just yet. There is just a dusting of snow on the ground and the weather has been too warm for most of the month. We have gotten rain and a bit of sleet instead of a foot or two of snow. I don’t mind the mild weather, but it certainly puts a damper on the festive spirit that usually accompanies a white Winter Solstice. Parties are starting up this weekend and I have most of next week off from work. I have been working too many hours and not spending enough time on other stuff, unfortunately. There is too much to do in the coming days, both domestically and also magically. Because of my busy schedule much of this work has been left until now to complete.

[Of course, nature loves irony, since before I could post this article the snow has come and winter is now snow-bound, icy and normal.]

What I have been doing with my time outside of my job is writing another book. I submitted the manuscript to Llewellyn on the first day of this month so I wouldn’t have to work on it during the holidays. The irony is that I have to begin the revisions to this manuscript and produce a new version with corrections by February. No good deed goes unpunished, right? The book project is tentatively entitled “Spirit Conjuring For Witches” and my premise for writing it is that Witches and Pagans need to embrace the Spirit Model of magic and become formally engaged with the art of summoning spirits in order to really function like the legendary witches of the past.

Perhaps the most startling proposition that I am promoting is that I believe it is best to have some kind of supernatural intermediary to perform this work. Unlike the popular belief in familiar spirits as animal pets or merely as servitors that perform the will of the witch or magician like some automata, it is my opinion that the spiritual intermediary is actually the self as deity, or the inner deity. Some might call this the higher self. Others might compare or equate this entity with the Holy Guardian angel. However, I see it as the equivalent of the Hindu Atman, the godhead that resides in each and every person. Not everyone will agree with this interpretation, and there are as many opinions as individuals, with only some in solid agreement. This is a counter intuitive perspective, since most practitioners of western magic believe that the lone individual or the small group has the innate power to completely change their destiny - there is no real need for any kind of supernatural assistant, or is there?

What has propelled the art of magic for the last couple of hundred years is the optimistic belief that human nature alone, either by some kind of greater reservoir of psychic power or the undaunted human will, can be the source of miracles and the magical bending of reality to suit one’s interests. However, the existential curse of post-modernism has shown that modern humanity has little or no power, and that the individual can no more change the flux and flow of human destiny than he or she can change the weather. We see our modern history as the product of individual achievement, even though that achievement was more due to fortune and probability than actual individual genius. The world has always been blind and deaf to the anger, heartbreak or entreaties of the individual, but it is the masses either randomly or orchestrated by a cacophony of unforeseen events that moves mountains.

While I tentatively agree with the existential perspective concerning the powerlessness of the individual, I also possess the optimistic viewpoint that each of us contains within us a deity, and that godhead, connected and indivisible as it is with the One, gives everyone the potential to transform themselves and therefore, change the world. Of course this assumes that one can become fully aware of that divinity residing within one. In my opinion it is through that internal divinity that we have the ability to know God in an intimate manner, and to see the world through the “eyes of spirit.” It is through this frame of reference that I wrote my book, and it is what I am promoting as a way for witches and pagans to adopt a more spirit-based model of magic.

As I continue working on this book and pushing it to the more perfected version that will be published, I find that all my assumptions about the components of this process of summoning spirits are thoroughly tested. Writing a book is probably even more of a mechanism for fully learning a subject than just practicing and performing it as a regular discipline. There is nothing that forces a greater degree of objectivity from a teacher or author than attempting to either teach or publish a book about a given topic, since the feedback from such efforts are more valuable than the end-product itself.

Frater Barrabbas