Reading and Making Use of Received or Channeled Spiritual Texts


What is the value of a received or channeled text?  It goes without saying that whether or not it’s presented as holy writ, one shouldn’t take it entirely at face value.  It seems that the real use for such a text is both ascriptive and relational.

It is ascriptive in the sense that the text is a mirror—you ascribe or attach certain closely held values to it.  You use it as a tool to express certain stories about yourself and what you believe.  For example, one might be a Thelemite or a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist and a particular “received” text might express one’s core beliefs in those areas.  Such a document is a space to interpret the values held in common with a community of believers.

But it’s also relational in the sense that without its mythology, assumptions about the world, and particular poetry, it could not be set apart from everyday texts like grocery lists or new stories.  A channeled document must be regarded as inherently special in order to impart a feeling of holiness or otherworldliness.  This is what helps maintain its unique status.  In other words, part of what makes a channeled text useful is its weirdness, its inborn magic.

Keeping these attributes in mind gets us beyond fundamentalist obstacles like wondering whether the story is “true” or arguing about the extent to which it may have been embellished or outright fabricated by the scribe who wrote it down.

A smart reading of Liber AL vel Legis, for instance, will be far less interested in whether Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit really have an objective existence and a lot more interested in “reader response”: what the text means to a given reader in the space and time it is read.

It seems the way to use these texts is to approach them as if they were a palette of vivid paints.  What picture will we paint with it?  What image takes shape in the mind’s eye?  What emerges might be the only possible authentic text—the only one the reader can truly know.

Calling the Intranquil Spirit and Its Triad is Usually a Horrible Mistake

The Anima Sola

The trouble with using the Intranquil Spirit on people who know what they're doing is that (1) they know what you're doing; (2) the IS doesn't work and reverts to the nearest available target in the chain of causality, i.e. the fool who sent it in the first place; and (3) the IS doesn't care what it obsesses, possesses, and ultimately eats. It just wants dinner.

That is no way to get a lover in your life. This is the way to get a tragedy in your life. Working with the Anima Sola, the Dominant Spirit, and / or the Intranquil Spirit should be done cautiously and then only in justified cases—not to satisfy one's romantic immaturity.


The Enigma of Lesser Magic

The world of pop-culture is full of practitioners of "Lesser Magic" in the LaVeyan sense. To some extent, that translates into social media adverts and memes. If you feel your eye drawn by someone, if you feel compelled to pay attention—even just out of curiosity—you are already being affected by Mortensen's "Command to Look." People who master Lesser Magic can get everything mundane they want in life: romance, attention, money, a social milieu, status, etc.

Lesser Magic doesn't make you happy; that's not its function. It uses natural forces and tendencies (mostly in social relations but not always) to influence perceptions, behaviors, and their patterns. Most successful (or moderately competent) people use it at least a little bit. But to really become proficient, you need to practice three things: (1) reading others (using all of your senses); (2) persuasion (including code switching, having cultural fluency, and understanding human motivations); and (3) developing an aesthetic sensitivity (knowing how to appreciate symbolism and how to use it to communicate gracefully on many levels simultaneously). Lesser Magic is a lifelong study.

It is very hard to spot someone good at this form of glamour. Like a stage magician, those who are masters of Lesser Magic will constantly, subtly misdirect everyone—because it works better as a kind of invisible, implicit hypnosis. They will seem like a friend. And they may be a friend! You will always come away from an interaction with them feeling a little better than you did before. You will trust them. And, at the highest level of practice, you will benefit from the interaction as much (if not sometimes more) than they will . . . as you find yourself behaving exactly the way they want you to and thinking it was your idea.

Interestingly enough, celebrities and pop stars are not the best at this. They simply work through a media system that facilitates and amplifies it. You can look at them and study it, whereas in daily life, it will be invisible (if it's being worked proficiently). Lesser Magic is more than just "manipulation." It has many occult dimensions and in many ways it is more powerful and more illustrative than what we think of when we talk about "magical workings." Practicing it also changes you.

How to learn it? You have to interact with people and take the time to listen to them, first of all. Learn to act, sing, and tell jokes. Really. Nothing teaches you more about human nature than these arts. Study art history. You'd think psychology courses would help, but they actually don't help that much. It's far better to study human behavior through sales, public speaking, and persuasive writing. An awareness of your physical appearance is key. And cultivating enough openness that you can talk with anyone from any area or culture is absolutely required. 

In the meantime, look at this picture of Lady Gaga. She is performing the Command to Look, embodying sex (in the sense of LaVey's "sex, sentiment, and wonder"), and the composition of the photo is conveying a lot through framing and symbolism. If someone appeared to you looking the way she does in this picture, you would pay attention. If her voice were non-aggravating, her power would be amplified. If she spoke to you the way you speak to others, again she would have a greater hold on you. And if she offered you something you think you already want, you would become her servant. And Lady Gaga is a servant herself. The deepest irony of Lesser Magic is that in order to be very good at it, you must be more susceptible to it than others. To be a great seducer, you must be capable of being greatly seduced—but by what, whom, and when?


Dog Lesson


After my meditation practice in the morning, I walk home on the forest road.  And every morning, without fail, a small, happy, russet-colored dog runs out of the trees, bumps my leg, licks my hand, barks once in farewell and, like a shot, vanishes back into the forest.  Seeing this dog never fails to brighten my day because she is the happiest creature I have ever encountered.

I once mentioned the dog to a friend, who made a face: “If you love the dog, you should adopt it.”  I asked her why and she said, “Because there’s nothing worse than being homeless.”

This thought disturbed me for a long time.  I wondered whether I had an ethical responsibility to take the dog home, make a place for it, and feed it.  Only, the dog never wanted to come home with me.  She just wanted to greet me on the road and lick my hand.

After several more days of meeting my dog friend on the road, I realized something: I know nothing about the dog’s life.  Maybe the life she’s leading is far better than anything I could provide.  Not knowing, not even having met the dog, my friend made an assumption, told herself and me a story about this dog’s life.  How could either of us know?

The dog continues to greet me on the road and I am always happy to meet her.  Not knowing anything else about her, I don’t need to know anything else.  We are both very content.


A Message to My Friends on the Spring Equinox

Because it's the Equinox or because self-disclosure is a form of banishing and empowerment or because it's 6:30 AM on a Saturday and I should be working (believe it or not) but my head is in a muddle or because of everything and nothing at all, I'll reveal that I suffer from anxiety, depression, and workaholism. They go together like chocolate, knives, and peanut butter.

What I have is GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), which means no one actually (allopathically) knows why I get it or where it comes from. No one knows the sources of my cyclical depression, either. But I've traced most of it to my formative years, my bad home environment, the sort of thing you might expect. Over the years, I've used occult techniques to get my inner self under control without medication. And I've healed to the point at which I now have a bad day maybe once a month.

I used to medicate with overwork six days a week and with alcohol on the seventh, like a vicious demented god seeking a sacrifice. I'd work 60-80 hours, Sunday through Friday, drink myself into pathetic oblivion Friday night, spend Saturday in a torpor of self-loathing and rumination, and then get up before dawn on Sunday and start it all over again.

But I've made progress. Here are nine things I've learned (since nine is the number of the Self) as a result, which also form some of the things I've taught others:

(1) Workaholism is just another addiction, one to which creative artists, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and gig workers are especially vulnerable. I am all of these. Maybe you are, too. Try to put limits on your work the way you put limits on everything else for work. My formula for this is: Rinzai zazen 5 AM - 6:30 AM, Monday through Friday, journaling (if you keep a magical journal, just write one more daily paragraph about your thoughts and feelings—that's what I do), and asking, "What's bothering me? What am I avoiding?" on a regular basis. This is hard, but ironically it appeals to a workaholic and it has made me a nicer, better person.

(2) Asceticism only works if it's an indulgence. Anton LaVey knew some things. He's easy to mock, but that would be a mistake. His concept of "indulgence, not abstinence," is very complex and worthwhile. Often—and I see this most frequently with 20-something life-hacking types obsessed with "success" and money—the cult of self-improvement can lead you to a sterile, miserable, masochistic place. Consider this: you were not put on this ball of dirt to become an income-stream-achievement cyborg or, as I used to call the students at Oxford University when I was living there, "a success bot." Get successful, according to whatever shitty standard you've internalized from parents, social conditioning, and media and you will still be your miserable self—even if you now own a Maserati or someone is buttering you up with flattery or people finally, visibly fear you. None of it matters. It's all a lie. And if you embrace hyper-self-discipline and self-denial, thinking it will make you more competitive and, by extension, more successful, you're a fool. I know this because I was that fool. Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll are not wrong, do not make you ineffective or weak. They only do this if you over-indulge. They are here as tools. Don't underestimate their value. That said, if you get off on limiting yourself (as I have also seen in spell-book / New Thought occultism), have at it. Anything that releases tension, enjoyed without it becoming a horrible addiction (an escape), is good as long as it doesn't hurt anybody and put your life at risk.

(3) Watch A Beautiful Mind for the sake of the ending. John Nash never gets cured. Yet, he's brilliant. How does he deal with these ostensibly contradictory states of being? He accepts himself. The whole movie is about self-acceptance. That's its secret theme. If you are depressive and it comes in cycles, whether or not you're in treatment, it will be beneficial if you can accept how you are. By accepting my emotions, my horrific anxious episodes, my depression, and my self-loathing, I was able to live with it. Now I recognize when it's coming on and I just go to bed or retire for the night (or day or, now and then, for a few days). I accept that, due to certain violence I experienced as a kid and the chemistry of my brain, I will have horrible days. This has gotten me to the point where 90% of my days are either not so bad or actually very good. 10% are pure shit. And I can live with that.

(4) Use your pain the way you would command a demon. I believe in invisible friends. I also believe thoughts, on a more subtle level, have an objective existence. I also believe in sorcery, reiki, and the power of optimistic thinking. I am, simultaneously, a chaos magician, a Left Hand Path magician, a grimoire student, a zen practitioner, a writer, a teacher, a journalist, and a book editor. Believe it or not, all these things flow together in my life. And I've learned that if something is tormenting you, it can be made to serve you. If you're having nightmares, put them into a sigil a la Spare and put that sigil into a mandala of sigils to accomplish something in the world. Try it. If you're feeling dominated, read Harry Browne's How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. Then send me $50 for this advice (because you'll be so grateful, you'll want to send me $500 but I want you to be solvent). If you're feeling bored and unchallenged, get Peterson's copy of the Grimorium Verum and try to work it by the book or scry the Enochian Aethers from TEX to LIL or evoke all 72 Goetic daemons over three months. Trust me on this: you will be challenged. You will be changed. You will be a bit pissed off. That's good, no? If you're feeling like you have a head full of chaos, sit zazen every morning at dawn and then chant the Heart Sutra. Don't know what these are? Research! It's not religion. It's discovering that your brain chemistry gives you super powers if you make friends with it. Think zazen before dawn is crazy monastic discipline? Yup. Think it will work wonders? You'd be right if you did. Throw in yoga a few times a week and watch everything get better and your ass get more attractive. Use your demons as inspirational power sources. Worry less about your hair and your screen time. Drink water (and sometimes whiskey). And attempt a course of non-neurotic self-change. Then send me the remaining $450 because you won't need it and I'm adorable.

(5) Sex. Have it. And not just with your hand. In order to have sex, you have to accept that you are worthy of the activity, desirable, and not a disgusting toad. How do you get to this point? See advice, steps (1) through (4) above. There are also asexual people. For them, having sex is not having sex. That works, too. Do you see what I mean by "sex" here? The physical act is one-tenth of the total experience. However you like doing it (even if "doing it" means something very different than what conformist culture has taught you to imagine), first accept that there is always someone, somewhere who wants to fuck you and be fucked by you in some way. Make it a way that appeals to you. And, as long as it hurts no one (involuntarily), let no one say nay.

(6) Be present. There is a lot of bullcrap on the internet about "mindfulness" and "be here now-ness" which has been co-opted by corporate success culture as methods for making their peons into better workbots. That's not what I'm talking about. What I mean by "be present" is two things in one: learn to love what you have / where you are and pay attention to these things you've learned to love. Watch your aggregate joy increase tangibly when you remember to do this on a daily basis. This is not an Evangelical Christian form of un-love. It's not a Westboro Baptist Church kind of weaponized love. It's not a 1970s love-guru charlatan kind of love. It's the art of intense appreciation taken to such an extreme it becomes bliss. It's the true nature of the Bhakti path.

(7) False gratitude and "loving everyone" amounts to self-torture and is demeaning. This is partly the converse of (6) above, partly not. Maybe keeping a "gratitude journal" in which you daily force yourself into "loving" everyone and everything works for you better than getting choked in doggy style. But otherwise, I suggest you avoid pretending you love the people and things that stress you out or that you downright hate. Hate is good. Hate is power. Hate makes you healthy and strong. It's natural. And it has been given to you as a physical and psychological tool. Uncontrolled hate will destroy you. So, like the pain demons in (4), make friends with your hate and use it as a servant. Don't be used by it. If you feel negative emotions about something, if you despise something or someone, that is something for which you should be grateful! Enemies keep you sharp. This is yet another dimension of "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the Law." Crowley had it right but he left many things unexplained and half-explored. Like this one: when you're "doing your will"—the thing that characterizes your divine pattern in this life—you WILL MAKE ENEMIES for all sorts of good reasons. Don't force yourself into the demoralizing position of false love and gratitude advocated by the slave religions in the world (i.e. most of what passes for conformist religiosity and its organizations). Here we stress self-empowerment and self-determination, not the opposite. Hate and curse your enemies to the roots of their being. Love those who you love in the same way. And don't bullshit yourself.

(8) You are not the messiah. In fact, no one is. When you get good at this sort of self-empowerment, you may be tempted to think you've got it all figured out. This happens to lodge occultists more often than others, but it can happen to anybody. Trust me, you do not have life figured out. There is more between heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy, or mine, or Lord Zoldemox Mordred XXX° Grand Vizier of the Order of the Seventh Satan. Sure, he has a cool black robe, but he farts, too, just like you and me. He is not your messiah. You are no one's messiah. You can only do your best for yourself. Save yourself, if you can, from the torments of life. Or make friends with them as I have suggested, no savior needed.

(9) Share and make yourself vulnerable. That is what I'm doing here, what I do in many ways in my life because it is a secret key to power. The more vulnerability you risk with others, the greater you will become. People will decide to serve you. Others will love you. Still others will hate the parts of themselves they recognize in your vulnerability and will attack you. This makes for a full and satisfying life. Bless them. Curse them. Share and exchange with them on many levels and in many ways. Your friend is actually your family. Your enemy is often closer to you in many ways than your friend. And you should always keep your enemies close.

I offer this writing in several places at once today in this spirit, accepting that what you offer to others you, ultimately, offer to yourself.


Advice I'd Give to Every Spiritual Worker

I've always found it interesting how spiritual workers, even those who only work online with clients, can experience a crisis soon after starting this kind of work.  It happened to me.  I found myself with 15 clients, all who had very serious issues, and I was feeling incredibly stressed and enervated, performing work for each of them on a very intensive schedule.  I didn't know how I could carry on with all their negativity flowing into me.  

Dr. Christos Kioni gave me some good advice: do your conjure out in the garage or in a remote location.  Keep it away from the place where you sleep and away from your family.  Creating some physical distance helped immediately.  And it gave me the "space" I needed to see myself in perspective.  

I also realized that I needed a way to heal these connections, if quietly, on my side of the worker-client dynamic.  I needed something more than the operative magic I was using—a way to avoid internalizing the problems of my clients.  This brought me to Judith and her radical (even rebellious) form of reiki.  

Working with her unique reiki philosophy and setting the limit of clients to 10 at any given time, I received multiple attunements, quickly became physically and emotionally healthier, and was able to use time and space as healing modalities with my clients on many different levels simultaneously.  Don't underestimate the value of reiki or similar practices (pranic healing, chi gong, etc.), especially if you're living the life of a practicing magician.  And definitely learn to separate yourself from the toxicity of others—for their good as well as yours.

Grand Invocation of a Spirit Court

Sigils for spirits of wholeness, productivity, calm, community, solitude, regularity, fun, income, and joy.  Save this image.  Print it out.  And burn a white candle on it to call them all into your life.

The story begins, as it should, with Lao Shan . . .


In the year 1960, one of the most momentous events in the secret history of China took place one night on a sacred mountain crag, unknown to all the world. The night was brightly lit by the moon from above and pleasantly refreshed by an ocean breeze from below. Three old men, lonely heirs to an ancient knowledge, sat outside a secret cave on holy Mount Lao, deep in meditation.

Mount Lao, or Lao Shan in Chinese, is not well known to many people outside of China. To lay people there, it is the source of most excellent water; to initiates and pilgrims, it is one of the sacred sites of Taoism, China's original wisdom tradition, the world's oldest science. Mount Lao faces the sea on two sides, east and south; steep and imposing, it seems to rise from the very ocean floor. The mountain is scattered with enormous boulders and huge rocks and covered with all sorts of plants and trees. The waves of the sea roar at its feet, white clouds encircle its waist. When you sit on the mountainside gazing at the sea as the sun rises, you feel an enormous sense of transcendence beyond the ordinary world. Thus Mount Lao came to be treasured by Taoist seekers as a place to cultivate realization and develop their essential nature.

Opening the Dragon Gate: the Making of a Modern Taoist Wizard, by Chen Kaiguo and Zheng Shunchao, translated from the original Chinese by Thomas Cleary

Every Guru Farts: a thought about spiritual perfectionism and walking your own path

A childhood friend of mine, who studied for years in India with Sai Baba (yes, that Sai Baba), became very disillusioned when the guru didn’t live up to the highest expectations. My friend couldn’t separate what was useful and good about Sai Baba’s teachings from certain moral criticisms of his guru and the unspoken assumption that a valid spiritual teacher had to lead a pure unimpeachable personal life.

So my friend returned to the west sad and disappointed. All those years seemed like they’d led him down a false road behind a charlatan. Sai Baba was definitely a horny bastard and a faker (almost in the sense of the traditional fakir), but he also built hospitals, schools, and libraries. He taught practices of love and forgiveness, meditation, and introspection. And he fed the hungry. He was not a simple character. He was also not evil incarnate; though, he often seemed a bit bumbling and absurd. And by our standards today, he might have been considered a sexual predator.

A few months after my friend (then 36 years old) returned to California, he looked me up and we went to dinner. He knew I was into the occult and he wanted to ask me, as a spiritually minded person who was nevertheless very different, what I thought about Sai Baba and the accusations made against him by former students.

I said I didn’t know much about living in an ashram in India, but I wanted to ask one question: what did my friend learn while he was there? He answered that for almost a decade, he’d practiced advanced meditation, yoga, learned to cook, learned Sanskrit and Hindi, carpentry, fell in love, fell out of love, learned Ayurvedic medicine, learned how to heal through touch, studied the Vedas with scholars and spiritual masters, and taught children. Relating those things to me brought tears to his eyes.

I just nodded because my friend had made the point for me. Nothing the guru did or might have done could erase or negate those experiences. We ate the rest of the dinner in silence. Not long after that, he started his own meditation and yoga center in the Los Angeles area, took on students of his own, and passed on the good things he’d learned at the ashram to a new generation.

In my opinion, things turned out pretty well, whether or not Sai Baba had been seducing his students and falsely (ridiculously) claimed to be able to materialize sacred ash and gold watches out of thin air. My friend had a life-enhancing, spiritual experience living in India. He just needed to focus on what he’d gained instead of believing in messiah figures and godlike beings. Every guru farts. Until you can accept this, you are not ready for the training . . .

Of course, in the post-Christian atheist-materialist west, we are conditioned to apply the most stringent requirements when we evaluate a spiritual teacher. We love Aleister Crowley but we think he might have been a fake because he did heroin and held bisexual orgies. We think Osho was brilliant but we strongly disapprove of his limousine collection and think his teachings about sexual freedom were just so he could take advantage of his followers. And we have the negative examples of many whackadoo cults and insane religions that really were designed for exploitative, criminal purposes or became that way.

Growing up either in a religious evangelical-influenced or materialist-influenced context, we sometimes feel very nervous about engaging in spiritual pursuits. We want a pure messiah to save us from ourselves, someone to allay our doubts and fears that it's all a bunch of nonsense. If we perceive anything less than a messiah speaking to us, we feel gullible and start looking for the grift.

If a young person came to me and asked whether he should become a Hare Krishna or join the Illuminates Of Thanateros or shave his head and live in a Buddhist monastery for a year (or a decade) or join the Church of Satan or go to Varanasi and study with a priest of Shiva, I’d shrug and say, “Yes. Just don’t bullshit yourself."

Spiritual paths are also human paths. And humans are not gods, no matter how powerful and wise they may become. Repeat after me: every guru farts. Look at the Catholic Church. It’s been around for over 2000 years. In that span of time, they’ve had popes who were warlords, popes who were grimoire magicians, popes who had mistresses, popes who lived saintly lives and made the world a better place, popes who were insane, good popes, bad popes, indifferent popes—popes coming out of everywhere—because they were human beings first and Catholic priests second. (Don't believe the Vatican "papal infallibility" hype machine, either. No one who wears pants is infallible, kid. Trust me. I'm wearing pants right now. So I know.)

So it goes with any organization that has ever existed. The trick, if you want to walk a particular path, is to accept that its metaphysics and aesthetics interest you; accept that its leadership will have strengths and weaknesses, good points and bad; accept that only you can do the work and make it mean something; and accept that, if you are being honest with yourself, you may stay in that particular group or belief system or paradigm for a little bit or for the rest of your life. That's a lot of "accepting." It is.

You have no way of predicting how it will go until you get into it. In fact, I believe that we “make the path by walking it.” But this isn’t really about what I believe. It’s about what any particular spiritual seeker chooses to believe at any given time: a choice, made by an individual, to respond to a mysterious impulse to probe the unseen around him or her and the depths within, a choice that makes the chooser fully responsible for its outcome.

No one knows why certain people feel called to investigate spiritual things. Spirituality, religion, mysticism, and the occult are all very much like love. We know it when we encounter it. We know we’re being drawn to certain people and practices, but we can’t necessarily predict what that will be, when it will be, how long we’ll stay with it, who will be involved, what it will mean, or how it will be shaped from the material of our lives. All we know is that we’re now on a path, we're responsible for walking it, and the only way out is through. 

Aidan Wachter on Having the Temerity to Make Authentic Magic

[O]ne thing I hammer on a lot in my work is that "context is king." Context is the whole scenario in which something takes place. It’s who you are, where you are, what you are experiencing, the previous experiences that have led you to this place, what skills you do or don’t have, and who you are with. This carries into what we could think of as "psychic weather" events: how does your world feel to you today, this month, this year? Is it calm & warm, welcoming, and inviting? Is it cold and harsh, leading you to sequester yourself away somewhere where the day’s events can’t touch you? All of this is context, and it’s king because it sets the ground rules. It sets the stage and lays out the laws, which then allow or disallow certain practices and approaches. These stages and rules are not really definable except for the individual doing the work within their own context. Outsiders may think they know far better, but they lack the context required for this to be the case. This means you will have to determine which pieces of what follows make sense for you where you are right now. Not taking this into account can lead to a lot of false starts and abrupt and unpleasant collisions between what we think and believe we "must" do and our inability to do so effectively or gracefully. 

Practical Magic: Degrees of Difficulty, Part 1


For the sake of argument, I will discuss this in terms of conjuring a red rubber ball, but these principles apply to all acts of magical creation on all levels.  Still, the range of conjuration I present here is not the only way to talk about this subject—just one way that appeals to me personally.  Remember: in magic, as in all things, let personal intuition and firsthand experience be your primary guide.

Moreover, these basic ideas can become very complex when we broach the subject of spirit work, personal initiation (“The Great Work”), lodge work, and collaborating with divine entities toward magical-religious goals.  I will discuss those in part 2.  For now, I want to keep things simple and talk about the ways we bring things into our lives (i.e. creative acts of practical magic).

I think the professional magician, Jason Miller, once voiced the longstanding occult belief on his blog that practical magic can realistically only do two things: influence minds and / or influence probabilities.  And while magic can undeniably accomplish those feats, as a useful explanation, I think that’s a bit oversimple. 

It doesn’t address equally important questions (especially to working sorcerers and people committed to so-called “results magic”): how does it do these things and why is this the case?  Why can’t I shoot fireballs out my backside, conjure solid-gold Escalades, and make the genitals of my enemies rot off? 

To that, I answer, you actually can create such effects; though, perhaps not quite in the way you’ve been trained by the media to imagine them.  And so I humbly request that you hear me out before you decide I am incurably insane.  Because this might be of some value to you going forward.

Instead of Miller’s facile and not-so-useful statement, I suggest this: in life, and therefore in magic, all things are possible, but far fewer things are probable.  Notice that I did not write “only some things are possible” or “practical magic is limited to the following effects.”  I’ve been around real magic long enough to see many ostensible “laws of nature” violated directly in front of me.  So just for a moment, I ask you to play along and drop your assumptions and acquired expectations about how the world must work.  Pretend you are a child (often the most potent sort of magical creator) and that you haven’t yet had ideas about what’s possible and impossible beaten into you.

Easiest: Static Eidolon Conjuration

Since we are playing a game where anything is possible, please imagine a red rubber ball.  It’s no problem if you look up at the picture above and then just reproduce it in your mind’s eye.  If you have done that, you have conjured something in the easiest way possible: in your imagination (or, if you prefer, on the “Astral Plane” / Yetzirah), which is where all magical acts are graphically shaped.  You have brought an image, a phantom, an eidolon into being.

Many magical techniques begin an end with this act alone because whatever is conjured on the Astral Plane / Yetzirah must eventually manifest on the Physical Plane / Malkuth.  It is the easiest sort of conjuration to perform and it is why human beings (especially children) are constantly performing magic, whether they are aware of it or not.

Somewhat Harder: Moving Eidolon Conjuration

But what if two of us are imagining a red rubber ball?  Does that increase the power of its manifestation?  In many cases, it does.  Or it could.  Take a look at Mark Stavish’s book, Egregores, for an interesting in-depth discussion about that.  But without digressing into such a complex topic here, we can say that one person can conjure the eidolon of a red rubber ball and give that eidolon to another person, all using the power of Yetzirah.  If you don’t believe me, look back up at the picture.  Didn’t I just conjure that in your mind after I conjured it in my own?

Yet Harder: Social Objective Conjuration

Since we are beings rooted in physical bodies and therefore find physical things more satisfying than phantom images and ideas, we usually work practical magic at a third level of difficulty (we might even say, “density”), by seeking out the physical manifestation of our Astral creations.  Remember, anything created on the Astral must eventually manifest on the Physical.

So back to our red rubber ball.  We’ve imagined it in great detail.  It exists as a conjured image for us and perhaps for others.  Then we watch and wait.  Sooner or later—usually sooner—the universe will bring a red rubber ball into our physical experience.  If we have created it in collaboration (or as a viral transmission) with another mind, it is very likely that person will bring it to us or at least be involved.

This is what I mean by “social objective conjuration.”  It’s social because we’ve involved another as the pathway of manifestation.  It’s objective because we’re not just talking about producing an image.  Now we want a conjured physical thing.  And it’s a conjuration because this is straight-up practical magic: causing change in conformity with will to produce a desired physical effect.

We might simply say to our friend, “It’s my birthday.  I want a red rubber ball.”  That magic is rather direct.  Your loving friend may go to the sporting goods store and buy one for you.  But it can be far more mysterious.  Say you float a magically charged image of a red rubber ball onto social media and your friend sees it.  She might arrive at your house with the object as a joke, not quite sure why she finds it so funny.  Or the ball might come to you in a way very indirectly connected to your act of Astral eidolon transmission.  But it must come to you if you have deliberately created the eidolon.  And if others receive that image, it is very possible that they will be part of its journey.

Hardest: Pure Objective Conjuration

Instead of deliberately involving others as part of our conjuration, we “fire and forget.”  I make a sigil for a red rubber ball and release that sending into the cosmos.  I’ve (1) imagined the ball; (2) formed a symbolic statement of intent that encapsulates and directs the manifestation of the ball’s image into the Physical; and (3) patiently and calmly opened myself to receiving that ball from wherever it may come.  It may arrive in a very circuitous and strange manner.  Or its arrival may be so mundane and unspectacular that I hardly notice the magic at work.

The philosopher, Robert Anton Wilson, described this as “The Thinker and the Prover” effect: what the thinker thinks, the prover sets out to prove, not just perceptually and subjectively but in the broad, objective scope of our experience.  We are not sure what pathway of manifestation the red rubber ball is going to take.  At least, we’re not as sure as we were when our friend was involved.  But because we are not limiting ourselves (specifically, we’re not accepting that magic has limits), there are no limitations to get in the way.  This is what real sorcerers can do.  They can attain a state of personal gnosis (cf. Spare’s “neither-neither”) that facilitates any and all pathways of manifestation.

At this level of magical difficulty, the eidolon has been created in a mind or in multiple minds, and it seeks physical manifestation through a kind of magical aperture into an objective state of being.  Wilson suggested that people experiment with the image of money in the street.  Ritualistically visualize it; think that you are going to find some; and, if you are walking down the street, in the very near future you will.  Here, I suggest a red rubber ball manifesting somewhere nearby . . .

Now back to my principle: in life, and therefore in magic, all things are possible, but far fewer things are probable. I could shoot fireballs out my backside.  Google it and you will likely see people doing so.  I could manifest a solid gold Escalade without spending a dime.  I could conjure millions of dollars, acquire an unlimited succession of sexual partners, send my rivals off cliffs, and get that promotion.  Whatever I want can be accomplished at one or more of the above levels—even ostensibly miraculous or “impossible” things.

It’s all possible if I’m the one deliberately bringing it into being.  But far fewer things “just happen”—thankfully with regard to my fireball example.  I can imagine a scenario where anything might happen even if I didn’t do magic.  But it’s far more likely that extraordinary events / effects do not come into being unless I’m focusing on them with intention.

It’s much harder to purely and objectively conjure a physical thing than it is to summon up its eidolon.  Then again, sometimes only the eidolon is necessary.  And sometimes conjuring the physical thing is more trouble than it’s worth.  Still, ask and you shall receive.  But you have to know the right way to ask.  

Know the amount of probabilistic distortion you are imposing on the world but keep a very open mind.  Conjure an image as a first step.  Then remind yourself that in the powerful mind of a child, who sees no limits because she has never learned them, anything is possible.  Anything. 

Ask in a powerful way and, as the Russian physicist-mystic, Vadim Zeland, writes, “Apples will fall up” and there will be no choice but for you to get what’s coming to you . . .

Enchant to Feel Better

Not all new age ideas are worthless.  Lately, I’ve been thinking of an iteration of the “Law of Attraction” called “Transurfing.”  It's stunningly simple: we only do anything in life so that we'll feel a certain way—always trying to feel better than we do at present.  As Vadim Zeland, the Russian new age physicist-mystic, puts it, "[H]ow are things going, well or badly? A person’s surroundings may be abundant or poor, friendly or aggressive, comfortable or less so, but this is not important. What does have meaning is the extent to which that person is happy in these conditions, whether they receive what they strive for, and whether circumstances seem to unfold fortuitously" (Reality Transurfing).

In that sense, money and status do not generate peace of mind in themselves; they’re a means to that end.  Peace of mind only comes from controlling our thoughts such that we feel more of what we want to feel and less of what we don’t.  This seems more often to come from appreciating what we have as opposed to what we lack.  For magical people, this means instead of enchanting for external things to change, we should emphasize enchanting to feel better, which always changes everything without fail.

Working for particular external attainments, things, or states is short-sighted because those are still just attempts on our part to get peace, joy, and satisfaction.  Moreover, these positive emotions are unlikely to be wholly dependent on external achievements or things.  The quasi-Hermetic Laws of Polarity, Rhythm, Vibration, and Cause and Effect precipitate endless movement and upheaval, especially in the material world.  But by engaging internally with a deeper more profound reality (personal satisfaction itself instead of reaching for something outside ourselves that seems liable to produce it), it is possible to master life.  This is what The Kybalion is talking about when it says that "The wise ones serve on the higher but rule on the lower": 

The masses of people are carried along, obedient to their environment; the wills and desires of others stronger than themselves; the effects of inherited tendencies; the suggestions of those around them; and other outward causes, which tend to move them about on the chess-board of life like mere pawns. By rising above these influencing causes, the advanced Hermetists seek a higher plane of mental action, and by dominating their moods, emotions, impulses and feelings, they create for themselves new characters, qualities and powers, by which they overcome their ordinary environment, and thus become practically players instead of mere Pawns. Such people help to play the game of life understandingly, instead of being moved about this way and that way by stronger influences and powers and wills. They use the Principle of Cause and Effect, instead of being used by it. (57)

Vadim Zeland calls taking control of the direction of one's thought "controlling the image" in stead of "the reflection in the mirror"—i.e. focusing on creating your internal state instead of accepting the appearance of yourself reflected by the world.  If you obsess about external things, you will "chase your own reflection":

Overall, the picture of a person’s separate reality depends on how they position themselves in relationship to everything that surrounds them. At the same time, a person’s frame of mind is conditioned by what is happening around them. So what we have is a closed feedback loop: reality is created as a reflection of an individual’s thought forms, and those forms in turn are greatly determined by the reflection itself. When a person stands in front of a mirror they focus all their attention on the mirror without trying to look inside themselves. It turns out then that the ruling role in the feedback chain is played not by the image but by the reflection. The person finds themselves under the mirror’s power because they are mesmerised by their own copy. It does not occur to them that they can change the original. It is specifically due to this obsessive focus on the reflection that we actively get what we do not want. (Reality Transurfing

The ultimate object is always to feel better.  Then, as Zeland puts it, “the apples fall up” and the miraculous happens.


What About the Astral Plane?

Think of this post as an extension of my previous, "How to Visit the Inner Planes."  While that post was mostly concerned with basic theories and techniques of projection / soul travel, this is a bit more abstract, a bit more speculative.  I'm trying to synthesize various ideas into a kind of coherent axis mundi for working magicians.  And, for the sake of argument and convenience, I'm treating the UPG of various magical traditions (especially Theosophy and Sant Mat / Eckankar) as if it were geographical fact.  It most certainly isn't.  You can't map the planes.  You can only posit things about them, even that they exist in the first place.  

Check out my questionable and perhaps not-as-handy-as-you-might-initially-think comparative cosmology chart of worlds and planes.  Had we but world enough and time . . . 

Some Ideas About the Astral Plane . . . 
  • The first level of subtle consciousness beyond the Material Plane, the "Lower Astral" is sometimes called the "etheric plane" because it contains an etheric double of everything on the material plane.  However, there is an Etheric Plane distinct from (actually more subtle and refined than) the Astral.  Occult terminology can often be confusing.  So I offer a number of alternate names for the cosmological concepts I talk about here.  
  • On the Astral Plane, thoughts have the substance of things, which is to say that anything that has ever been thought exists in a semi-tangible state there.  Even imaginary, wholly fictional thoughts take shape on the Astral Plane.  This is obviously both wonderful and terrible.  And it wonderfully and terribly accounts for the entire paradigm of chaos magic.  Or most of it.
  • Moreover, whatever is created on the Astral Plane must eventually manifest (is some form) on the Material Plane.  And this, dear reader, is the entire basis for the Law of Attraction, The Secret, and Seth books.
  • Locations can be deliberately constructed on the Astral.  For example, given enough concentration, energy, and consistency, a permanent "Inner Temple" can be created.  The Rosicrucians call this a "Celestial Sanctum."  Others refer to this as an "Astral Construct" or "Staging Area."
  • Another interesting construct commonly created is "The Beach of Time," which, according to psychic William Hewitt in his book, Psychic Development for Beginners, is an Astral location where one may "function psychically at any point in time and space."  Reference will be made to The Beach of Time at various places on this website.  However, the interested student is encouraged to read Hewitt's introductory text for more information.
  • Skilled adepts can reach this level of subtle consciousness by developing skill at "astral projection" and "mental projection" (aka remote viewing).  Alternately, mantras can be used to raise overall vibration and induce bilocation.  Very advanced practitioners can experience subdivided states of conscious awareness beyond bilocation.
The Causal Plane
  • The next level of subtle consciousness beyond the Astral Plane.  It is sometimes referred to as the "Third Plane of the lower worlds" (A Cosmic Sea of Words, Klemp).  On this plane, memories and karmic patterns are stored.
  • Some believe that the Causal Plane is actually a higher dimension of the Astral, which is understandable since it is easy to slip from the Astral into the Causal without realizing it.
  • Past lives can be explored on this plane.
  • The memories of anyone can be accessed here, which raises the necessity of being able to tell one's own past lives, memories, and karmic patterns from those of others.
  • In the spiritual physiology of most systems, the Causal Plane corresponds to the Causal Body.
The Mental Plane
  • This is the Fourth Plane of the Lower Worlds.
  • It contains pure Mind—anything that can be thought, including the Platonic Ideals in their conceptual form (i.e. after they are conceived in pure Spirit).
  • It is very hard to maintain the limits of one's "body" when visiting this plane because everything there is merely a concept.
The Etheric Plane
  • Of this plane, Sri Harold Klemp writes that it is "the top of the Mental Plane, the unconscious plane sometimes called the subconscious; the source of primitive thought; the very thin sheath between the Mental Body and the Atma Sarup, the Soul Body" (A Cosmic Sea of Words).  Others locate the etheric within the astral, as mentioned above.
The Soul Plane / Atma Lok
  • "The dividing plane between the psychic and true spiritual worlds; the plane of Self-Realization, or Soul recognition" (A Cosmic Sea of Words).  Clint Marsh, in The Mentalist's Handbook, refers to this plane as "Elysium" and describes it as: "the most unknowable of all . . . worlds, for it is the furthest removed from our own material home.  It is the resting place of those spirits finally free, the hallowed realm of souls unbound from obligations to the material world, or to any other, for that matter. . . . No one who 'lives' in this place awaits reincarnation, resurrection, or the like.  Their eternal cycles are at an end."  However, according to the inner-planar cosmology of other systems, there are many levels beyond / encompassing the Atma Lok.


Spiritual Principles and Practices

9 Spiritual Principles

I'd like to dedicate this section to discussing some of the spiritual principles that seem true to me.

(1) Humans are both physical and spiritual, a body and a soul.  As such, humans need to work with objects as well as concepts, using symbolism as a way to distill complex meta-communicative structures.  This is the value of ritual (narrative).

(2) There is no inherent purpose to life beyond survival.  We determine higher meanings according to our conditioning and experience.  We are, more or less, the reflection of the sum of our life experiences.  By extension, the only way we can understand good and evil is subjective and personal.  Good is what we want; evil is what we don't want.

(3) The universe is neither benevolent nor malevolent; it is indifferent; though personal cause and effect—i.e. getting what one asks for—does seem to function.  

(4) Our perception of merit is what determines our criteria for the judgement of ourselves and others.  As we judge, we must be prepared to be judged.  Since we cannot avoid passing some degree of judgment on aspects of our experience, it is only fair to accept that others will be doing the same from their own unique vantage points.  Spiritual maturity amounts to being okay with this.  In the end, we have no other choice but to live and let live.

(5) All religion and philosophy is about people, namely us.  We seek meaning through narratives (rituals) of science, technology, the arts, religion, mysticism, philosophy, history, magic, and myth in order to understand what it is to be human.  These things are about witnessing (human) experience on personal, transpersonal, and extrasensory levels. Ultimately, such levels, planes, or states of consciousness (and their inhabitants) expand (grow more meaningful and nuanced in our minds) through these acts of witnessing.  Because we are part of the process—because we really are the process—we also grow as individual beings.

(6) We are here for each other, which is to say, we are here for ourselves.  Human society, human values, human personalities—human nature is what really matters to us.  When we find ourselves looking outward at some other person (or person-like thing / idea), we're really on the path of looking for an image of ourselves (the meaning of who we are).  But no matter where we look, we're led back to ourselves, to the experience that constitutes our sense of reality.  When someone says something "true," we might respond, "I can relate to that" or "That makes sense."  What we're really saying is, "I find that meaning / value in me, too!"  In other words, however outward-looking a path may seem at first, it's really an inner exploration.  Everything begins and ends with us attempting, on some level, to realize the truth of what it means to live in the world.

(7) The self exists as a particularization (individual consciousness) and as an expression of the universal field (the god consciousness).  Each of us exists on these two levels simultaneously—as a unique and separate entity and as a hologram / microcosm of The All (god).  Some philosophical systems focus on particularization / individuality; others focus on oneness / unity.  All systems are correct insofar as they are willing to admit that both levels exist and are equally valid ways of knowing / witnessing the human condition.

(8) No spiritual system has a monopoly on the truth.  Rather, as the Golden Dawn said, "Hold all religions in reverence, for there is none but contain a ray of the Divine Light which you seek."  I believe this is true even in the case of fraudulent, recent, experimental, and obviously "man-made" systems.  All contain that ray of divinity because all human beings do.  Or, as is written in The Emerald Tablet of Hermes: "As below, so above; and as above so below. With this knowledge alone you may work miracles.  And since all things exist in and emanate from the ONE Who is the ultimate Cause, so all things are born after their kind from this ONE."  All things.  So mote it be.

(9) Justice, like any human ideal, can never be fully realized on the material plane.  Therefore, if we seek just outcomes in life, we must admit that justice is neither perfect nor kind, much like humans themselves.  Yet, human society must consistently and conscientiously try to do its best.  This is the responsibility of every individual, not just of legal and financial institutions.

7 Spiritual Practices

These are personal practices of mine.  They came to me while I was meditating on my Second Spiritual Principle:

There is no inherent purpose to life beyond survival.  We determine higher meanings according to our conditioning and experience.  We are, more or less, the reflection of the sum of our life experiences.  By extension, the only way we can understand good and evil is subjective and personal.  Good is what we want; evil is what we don’t want.

Like my spiritual principles, the following practices are not original.  They simply seem good to me and in line with what I value most: harmony, tranquility, and a joyful life.  They are ideals to strive for.  I hope they will inspire you.

  1. Live and Let Live.  How I feel does not depend on people, places, things, events, or potentials.  I’m ultimately responsible for my feelings and, by extension, for my personal well-being.  My thoughts and actions do not require others to think and act the way I do.  I follow an individualistic path and allow others to do the same.
  2. Acceptance.  I take everything life offers and use it to become smarter, stronger, and more joyful This may at times be difficult but, when it is possible, it is the best course of action.
  3. AppreciationI pay attention to the good, true, beautiful, and / or useful dimensions in everything, recognizing that such qualities exist in all things if I only know how to look. 
  4. Trust.  I celebrate the cause-and-effect transactions that have brought me to this point in space and time.  My existence is the sum of my past experiences and is the strongest argument for trusting that there will be more experiences that I can accept and appreciate in the future.
  5. Harmonium.  I contemplate the eternity or nothingness that existed before I was born into a physical body.  Likewise, I contemplate the eternity or nothingness that will exist after my physical body dies.  With those two eternities in mind, I know that the meaning of life is for me to decide.  And I do not cling to people, places, things, events, or potentials that pass through my awareness.  Instead, I bear witness to my life as I (1) live and let live, (2) accept, (3) appreciate, and (4) trust, seeking balance and tranquility.
  6. Spiritual EngagementMy life is more enjoyable and meaningful when I practice my spirituality on a daily basis.
  7. Physical HealthMy life is more enjoyable and meaningful when my physical body is strong and healthy.

Though raindrops are many, they are of the same water.
Though rays of light are not one, they are of the same body.
The form and mind of that One are immeasurable.
The ultimate reality is vast and boundless.

– Yoshito S. Hakeda, Kukai: Major Works

How to Visit the Inner Planes


Try this . . . 

There are many techniques for getting "out of body" and experiencing soul travel.  The reader is strongly encouraged to consider the many available books on the subject beyond what is written here.

My first OBE was attained after practicing the exercises given in Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts, which is a classic introductory course in western ceremonial magic.  However, "astral projection" is only a small part of modern ceremonial magic and "soul travel" out of body involves much more than visits to the astral plane.  So I have put together a very simple process for starting out, making use of the various approaches I've learned over the years..  Remember, every practitioner is an individual and therefore will have a unique experience.  Systematization and methods can only take us so far!

Three Basic Principles for Starting

  1. The imagination is your doorway and your power comes from suspension of disbelief.  Can you pretend until it's no longer pretend?
  2. It's "all in your head" and your "head" is enormous.  In other words, the "Inner Planes" are in your multi-layered consciousness and also beyond your individual mind (see "The self exists as a particularization" bullet under "Spiritual Principles" on this site).
  3. If imagination and suspension of disbelief get you out, the ability to concentrate is what keeps you out.

Be Patient and Do It Right

Most people fail to attain an OBE when they're first starting out because they're in a rush.  Don't rush.  The time you waste in frustration and failed attempts would be better spent laying the groundwork for powerful skills in this area.  The groundwork is "basic" in the sense that it provides a solid "base," a foundation that will serve you well.

Three Foundational Processes

  1. Imaginative Power: saying that the "imagination is your doorway" out of body means that you have to develop the ability to think visually--to see moving pictures in your head.  You have several options for how you might go about doing this.  Here are three popular ones: (1) learn creative visualization, which will help you in all kinds of ways in addition to developing strong capacities for projection (see Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain); (2) learn a system of magic that emphasizes introspection and psychology (Kraig's book is excellent for this / also see William Gray's Magic Ritual Methods); (3) take a class on developing a "photographic memory," which is actually something that can be learned.
    • Here is my method: buy a tarot deck.  Practice every day until you can draw a card, study it, and see it clearly when you close your eyes.  When you can remember a card with great accuracy, you have attained this skill--which you need to maintain.  So a tarot deck is a great way to do this because learning a divination system is also very useful.
  2.  Inner Plane Knowledge: you need a map of your consciousness if you intend to explore it.  Otherwise, you may have interesting experiences, but you won't know where you went or how to get there again. There are many such maps.  Three popular versions are: (1) the Kabalistic Tree of Life; (2) the Nine Worlds of the Norse Edda; and (3) the Planetary Chains of Theosophy.  Note that I often reference Clint Marsh's simplified diagram of the inner planes and a more complex version taught in Eckankar (aka the "God Worlds") on this site.  Whichever model appeals to you, my recommendation is that you stick with it until you become confident in your abilities.  I say this because the Inner Planes cannot be perfectly or definitively mapped.  Therefore, all cosmologies are, at best, interpretive.  Keep this in mind.  Ultimately, you may use multiple versions (the way you might consult multiple maps to the same destination) and / or develop your own.
    • Here is my method: start by studying an Inner Plane cosmology.  If you are working with one of the ceremonial magical books I recommend here, by all means use the Tree of Life when you become confident with it.  Otherwise, I recommend that you read Clint Marsh's The Mentalist's Handbook: an Explorer's Guide to Astral, Spirit, and Psychic Worlds.  In my opinion, it has the most beginner-friendly map of the Inner Planes I have ever seen.  Marsh also includes many exercises for psychic development that can supplement / replace the method I am giving you here.  If you are interested in soul travel, it is a book that should be on your shelf.
  3. Concentration: learning how to concentrate for long periods is challenging for most people.  Inability to concentrate may be the foremost reason why people have trouble developing OBE abilities.  The traditional way most orders and systems teach this is by having the student learn meditation.  This is good because it develops the will and opens the mind to deeper faculties as well as aiding concentration.  But, unfortunately, it is boring, at least initially.  Here are three alternate suggestions that also help with visualization: (1) take a drawing class or music lessons--great for developing the ability to concentrate and visualize at the same time; (2) join a martial arts studio—many fringe benefits here, too; or (3) read—believe it or not, reading for sustained periods (1-2 hours at a time) develops great capacities in these areas, especially if it requires visual imagination like fiction.
    • Here is my method: concentration is another skill that you have to maintain for it to be strong and available.  Once you learn how to go out of body, the act of projection itself strengthens your ability to concentrate.  Until you do that, however, I suggest that you take a tarot card and study it the way you have been to develop your visual thinking.  Only this time, you're not as concerned with reconstructing the image of it in your mind (you can already do that!).  Instead, you will spend time thinking about meanings for the card in question in addition to those given in the booklet that came with the deck.  In other words, you'll look at the picture and ask, "What else can this card signify?"  Write down your conclusions.  This will make you a better tarot reader and it will strengthen your powers of concentration.

The Method

If you have developed proficiency in the Three Foundational Processes given here, getting our-of-body will be extremely simple.  Pick a location on the Inner Planes.  Visualize what you think it looks like.  Do this as a meditative discipline, picturing it in detail for a certain amount of time every day.  Then, when the location feels incredibly familiar, see your own ghost--a double of you in every way except slightly transparent and glowing--standing beside you.  "See" this with your Spiritual Eye (which you have, incidentally, been developing all this time) and not with your physical eyes.  Then shift your consciousness into the perspective of your double.  When I was starting out, I used to imagine this as a ball of white light that contained my conscious mind leaving my physical head and entering the head on my astral body.  Once you complete this shift (though it might take a few attempts), you will see from that perspective.  You will be able to look down at your physical body.  Then will yourself into the Inner Plane location that you have been visualizing.  After several attempts, you will certainly be successful.

This covers everything you need to have acquired the basics of soul travel to the Inner Planes.

The Old Man on the Mountain Knew a Thing or Two

Personal history is not your life. It's stuff in your mind, memories that helped bring about your current awareness, including all the painful and horrific things. Because we don't know ourselves, we're constantly telling ourselves stories about who we are based on those half-understood, imperfectly perceived events and lessons. That makes us wrong about ourselves most of the time and, by extension, wrong about what the world is and about our place in it.

Stop telling yourself a story about who you are based on what happened to you and then what happened no longer applies. The woman who taught me Rinzai zazen liked to say, "Infinite choice is open at every second for me to alter the shape of the world, for it has no shape other than what I give it." To that, I add: "And I have no shape, either, beyond the shape I choose to have at any moment."

I can change my mind. I can walk away. I can keep on keeping on. I can forget, forgive, take vengeance, bring love, bring hate, abandon my responsibilities, uphold them, change my identity, change my shorts, redefine the universe as I please. I owe no one my life and owe nothing to the world. And if I realize this mindfully, I am free.

But what about stepping in front of a moving bus? That the bus is moving down the street is a hard reality I can't easily change. We're bound by the objective universe, yes. And we have to respect physical reality. We have to play by its rules (most of the time), but we can bend and sometimes break those rules. We are not all-powerful, but we can change anything given enough attention and effort.

What the "bus" means and how I contextualize it can change it and me. I can direct that meaning to some extent through the power of definition and framing (i.e. operative magic), even causing the things I can't direct to be repositioned by the things I can. I'm creating this experience, moment by moment. I'm controlling my life directly and indirectly, in concert with the world around me.

Such control can only take place if I leave the chains of the past behind. Or, even better, reframe those memories, making them serve me. Bottom line: don't tell yourself a story based on the past. Write a new story, one you like that presents and enhances the best of what you are and makes you feel great. And that will be the truth.

"Nothing [which is to say, everything] is true and everything is permitted." — Hassan-i-Sabbah

Relaxation Instead of Manipulation


"When we are coming out of the empty, grasping, manipulative condition, the first and foremost lesson to be learned is just to let go. We must relax, stop struggling, stop trying so hard, stop manipulating things and people to try to get what we want and need, in fact stop doing so much and have an experience of just being for a while."

— Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization

Job Magic, Love Magic, and Getting Tricked by the Djinn

Don't get "tricked by the djinn," which is to say, don't do practical magic with results criteria that can be fulfilled and still leave you unsatisfied or unhappy. This is especially true in the areas of job magic and love magic.  

Sorcery in these areas can be similar overall and can fail in very similar ways—through giving you exactly what you asked for but not what you truly want. Be careful with this. I saw it happen in my own life early on and recently in the life of a magical friend. 

Sometimes, the job / partner you draw corresponds perfectly to the criteria you set forth in your working and then proceeds to make you wretchedly miserable, especially when you realize YOU ASKED FOR IT.

The fix is:

(1) to know what is truly going to make you satisfied (at least for a while), thinking as much with your intuition as with your mind (i.e. don't be superficial);

(2) accept that everything is both voluntary and temporary, especially when it comes through sorcery (i.e. be open to other possibilities that may soon come along no matter how much mundane and magical effort you've put out for what you now have); and

(3) do multiple divinations to make you wiser about (1) and (2).

Also remember to laugh at yourself and this mad dance.

Getting into the mood . . .

"All you need to begin the practice of magic is concentration, imagination and the ability to laugh at yourself and learn from mistakes.  Some people like to dress up as Egyptians or monks to get themselves in the mood; others wear animal masks or Barbarella costumes.  The use of ritual paraphernalia functions as an aid to the imagination only.  Anything you can imagine, anything you can symbolize, can be made to produce magical changes in your environment."

— Grant Morrison, Pop Magic!

Spirit Contact: Olympic Spirit of the Moon, Phul


This hardly ever happens.  I suppose it's the result of the aggregate effects of current long-range magical workings and my existing pact.  While reading Hockley's Complete Book of Magical Science, thinking about evoking Phul, the Olympic Spirit of the Moon, I actually made mental contact with "her."  I saw Phul dancing on a dark hill of grass in a forest clearing beneath a gigantic full moon.  She was beautiful in a glowing white gown.  When she looked at me, I could see her face clearly, but she did not in any way seem human.

The lyrics of a song I was listening to at the time came to me like kledon: You don't have to cover your face any longer, I'm always going to see you for whatever you are. You can go any place, no matter how low, I'm coming with you, I'm not afraid of the dark (from Boom Jinx's and Meredith Call's "The Dark"). The dancing woman smiled.  Then she continued to dance under the moon in my mystic vision. 

And the knowledge came to me that I can evoke any spirit, but especially the Olympic Spirits, and ask for their "gnosis," which means their "knowledge and conversation." I don't need any other reason than that.  I also realized-remembered that I can pathwork-project directly through their sigils like doorways (as I have with tarot cards in order to learn about them from the "inside"). Doing that, I can also obtain my own visual keys and imagery for interacting with the spirits. Also, connecting with the gnosis of each of the Olympic Spirits on their days of the week will provide great benefits.  This is a strange form of intuitive planetary spirit magic I have not much explored.  Interesting.

Nowhere Else But Where You Are

How many people who call themselves "occultists" or "mystics" or "religious" say they are in search of enlightenment but are just in search of a more exotic form of anesthesia, of sleep?


These so-called practitioners are in search of a better, stronger spiritual narcotic. They don't want to see the truth. They want a more effective strategy for not seeing. They want warm buttery comfort. They want to wear spiritual diapers and be rocked to sleep by mommy.

To that end, they engage in prayer, magic, all sorts of convoluted rituals and practices just to stop feeling so bad all the time—without realizing that they are worshipping the cultural origins of their pain, the consumerism, the materialism, the social validation, the shopworn conformist values imposed on them since their formative years.

Philip K. Dick wrote, "To fight the Empire is to become infected by its derangement." This is their struggle. They think by practicing endless banishings, by attending regular church services, by collecting a pile of "good guy badges," they're going to reduce their constant pain. They are wrong. No matter how much you ground and center, meditate, confess, genuflect, raise your hand for Ramtha, or talk to invisible friends, you cannot escape yourself.

The pain is our friend, not something to be eliminated. It reminds us that we are already Buddhas. We are already complete. We just need to realize this and keep realizing it. As the great Zen poet, Hakuin, wrote, "Your coming-and-going takes place nowhere else but where you are."

This has far less to do with Buddhism or Zen (or any particular spiritual practice) than with realizing the truth: even the Buddha has to put his pants on one leg at a time, which is to say, even you. And you are (a) god.

Hakuin's Song of Zazen

All beings are primarily Buddhas.
It is like water and ice:
There is no ice apart from water;
There are no Buddhas apart from beings.

Not knowing how close the truth is to them,
Beings seek for it afar -- what a pity!
They are like those who, being in the midst of water,
Cry out for water, feeling thirst.

They are like the son of the rich man,
Who, wandering away from his father,
Goes astray amongst the poor.
It is all due to their ignorance
That beings transmigrate in the darkness
Of the Six Paths of existence.

When they wander from darkness to darkness,
How can they ever be free from birth-and-death?

As for the Dhyana practice as taught in the Mahayana,
No amount of praise can exhaust its merits.
The Six Paramitas--beginning with the Giving, Observing the Precepts,
And other good deeds, variously enumerated,
Such as Nembutsu, Repentance, Moral Training, and so on --
All are finally reducible to the practice of Dhyana.

The merit of Dhyana practice, even during a single sitting,
Erases the countless sins accumulated in the past.
Where then are the Evil Paths to misguide us?
The Pure Land cannot be far away.

Those who, for once, listening to the Dharma
In all humility,
Praise it and faithfully follow it,
Will be endowed with innumerable merits.

But how much more so when you turn your eyes within yourselves
And have a glimpse into your self-nature!
You find that the self-nature is no-nature -
The truth permitting no idle sophistry.
For you, then, open the gate leading to the oneness of cause and effect;
Before you, then, lies a straight road of non-duality and non-trinity.

When you understand that form is the form of the formless,
Your coming-and-going takes place nowhere else but where you are.
When you understand that thought is the thought of the thought-less.
Your singing-and-dancing is no other than the voice of the Dharma.
How boundless is the sky of Samadhi!
How refreshingly bright is the moon of the Fourfold Wisdom!
Being so is there anything you lack?
As the Absolute presents itself before you
The place where you stand is the Land of the Lotus,
And your person -- the body of the Buddha.