Reading “Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy” – Part 1

by Mike Sententia on February 17, 2012

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I just got Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy (MtMH) by Scott Stenwick, better known as Ananael on Augoeides.

If you read Augoeides, you’re probably familiar with his “magick in pop culture” posts on witchdoctors, teens who think they’re vampires and the like. This book is totally different. It’s a technical guide to Enochian ritual magick, with a tone like his posts on changing the direction of the symbols in the LBRP / LIRH.

I’m not done with the book yet, but I’m going to blog as I read it, when sections catch my eye. So far, it’s been a great intro to Enochian, and an interesting window into how Scott thinks about magick, which is worth reading in itself. It’s not the sort of book I’d normally buy, and I was secretly worried I might not like it, but so far it’s been great, and I’m glad I got it.

Here’s the first idea that caught my eye:

Ceremonial vs Ritual Magick

Scott makes a distinction between ceremonial and ritual magick: Ceremonial magick is performing already-written rituals, and ritual magick is creating the rituals. So, to use a computer analogy, a ceremonial magician is like a user running an application, and a ritual magician is like a programmer, writing them. (Paraphrased. See the page in his book to the right, click for larger image).

This, I think, is the source of much of our disagreement when Scott and I talk in the comments. I hadn’t realized that ritual mages create rituals from scratch. (Well, I knew that, but didn’t think about it much). Or that they thought of themselves as programmers. Though now that I think of it, he has a fair point.

But he draws the user / programmer distinction a different way than I do. Neither is right or wrong, but we probably both thought we were drawing the same distinction, which would lead to confusion.

When I think about programming, I think about how the symbols got their meanings. Because, while the ritual mage assembles the symbols into useful instructions, someone had to program the force that responds to those symbols — tell it what each symbol means and how to implement the changes that the mage asks for.

It’s that assigning of results to symbols and pre-made rituals that I’ve always focused on as programming. Though now that I’m thinking it through, I’m thinking a better analogy would be assembly:

Ceremonial mages do already-written rituals, like end users who just run an application.

Ritual mages, who design their own rituals, are like programmers. If you string together pre-made rituals like the LBRP into a full ritual event, that’s like scripting (an easy form of programming), while combining symbols into meta-symbols and rituals is like programming in a full language like C++.

I call the thing that recognizes those symbols and executes the commands “ethereal software.” And at some point, someone has to program the meanings of those symbols into the ethereal software, which is like using assembly language to program C++. Very few people program assembly, compared with C++ programmers, but it’s necessary for some tasks.

Programming symbols into ethereal software is much easier than programming assembly, by the way.

Back to the Book

That strayed pretty far from the book. But that’s the mark of a good book: The author lays out his thinking clearly enough that they spark new ideas in the reader, and even if you disagree (which I expect to do a few more times), their book has brought you a new idea. Which is the whole point of reading.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Sententia February 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM

A few notes that didn’t fit in the post:

1. I’m continuing the write-up on quartz, more coming tomorrow.

2. Scott, for the book link, I used the link you have on your site, which is probably your merchant link. Not sure the rules on those, let me know if there’s something else I should use.

3. Is there a page to discuss the rituals, results we got, ask questions, etc? That would be a great resource.

Reply

Ananael Qaa February 18, 2012 at 3:45 PM

The link from my website is fine. In fact, that’s the one I would rather you use. If you buy the book from that link off Amazon I get a small commission that Amazon would otherwise just keep. That commission costs the buyer nothing and still helps to support my writing.

I’ve been asked before about some sort of forum or discussion space for the book, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do that. I’ll keep you posted once I come up with something.

And just as a point, if you believe that “symbols acquire meaning” in some manner divorced from individual awareness that is the fundamental difference between our approaches to magick. I believe that individual magicians confer meaning upon the symbols they use by internalizing them. That’s why you have to memorize all the symbols in Liber 777 – to make them work for you.

As I see it, a symbol is a “handle” for a particular state of consciousness that allows you to call the state into awareness efficiently. Once you have that state fully in mind, you then transfer the probability wave pattern of that state directly to the target by means of the magical link. It sounds like you think the symbols somehow consist of a “language” that the target – be it a rock, a tree, or a person – understands, and personally I find that hard to accept. Why would a rock understand words? A spirit would, but that’s because the spirit is conscious in its own right and is in effect a separate individual.

I don’t think there’s any sort of objective test that we could do to try and see which of us is “right” on this one, so we may just have to agree to disagree. My subjective experiences suggest my model is more accurate, while I’m sure yours suggest that yours is.

Reply

Mike Sententia February 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

When you say that individual magicians conferring meaning on symbols, that seems at odds with other work you’ve done. Which makes me think that I’m not properly understanding what you mean by “individual magicians confirm meaning upon symbols.”

If the symbols acquire meaning based on what the mage thinks they mean, why bother learning the symbols in Liber 777? Why not just make up your own?

In your post about the LBRP and LIRH, and the operant field, if the symbols just do what the mage thinks they do, why would the particular ritual matter? Why bother with an operant field?

As for my model, no, I don’t think rocks, or cells, or most things respond to symbols or intents or concepts or anything else like that. I agree with your assessment that those models don’t make sense.

My model is that ethereal software, which you can think of as a non-sentient spirit, responds to symbols. (It can also respond to direct communications, which is what I mostly do). Ethereal software is what you program. It does the magick using the same techniques I do when I’m doing magick directly, rather than sending instructions out.

In my model, when you do a ritual, the ethereal software receives messages in two ways:

1. It responds to the actual ritual you perform. I’m fairly confident of this, because of how the ethereal software responded to an LBRP ritual I was part of, because of things I’ve seen in other rituals, and because of the simple fact that there does seem to be a significance to performing the ritual properly.

2. Ethereal software connects to the mind of the mage and reads their intent. This only happens if you are initiated into the style, because the ethereal software can only connect properly if part of your mind is aligned to its signature. (Though you can align part of your mind with direct magick, even if you’re not initiated.)

(There are other methods too, but those 2 are the main ones a ritual practitioner will use).

As a result, I can see where a mage using symbols they don’t understand would get bad results: The symbols or ritual sends one command, but their intent sends another, and the ethereal software either gets confused, or tries executing both instructions, or simply has a failsafe where it requires both signals to match before it responds.

At some level, you’re probably right, we need to just agree to disagree. But I would like to at least understand what it is we disagree on :) I’m sure I’ll learn something from that discussion, and hopefully will be interesting for other folks, too.

And maybe one of these days I’ll write you a good exercise for finding ethereal software, so you can see what I’m talking about. That’s one of my goals for the book. (Not you specifically, but to show ritual mages how to find ethereal software).

Also, on the discussion forum, I’m going to take the low-tech approach for my book: A page with a comments section. Maybe a few, for different sections of the book. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it’s really easy to set up. Something to think about.

Reply

Ananael Qaa February 18, 2012 at 9:37 PM

As a matter of fact, I think that you could make up your own set of symbols and once they were fully memorized and integrated you could get the same results. The reason I learn the ones in 777 is so that I can work more easily with other magicians who know the same symbol set, not because I think that particular set is privileged in any way.

A page with comments is a good idea for a discussion forum, and is the direction I’m leaning at the moment. It’s easier to do in Wordpress than Blogger, but I think the new pages that Blogger supports will still work.

Reply

Mike Sententia April 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM

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