Archive for the ‘Ritual Magick’ Category

Reading “Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy” – Part 1

Friday, February 17th, 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.

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Visible Manifestation of Spirits – How it Works

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

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About a month ago, Frater Ashen posted that, when you do an evokation*, you should be able to see the spirit in front of you, and that if you can’t, you’re not doing it right.

*Evokation is a form of ritual magick for summoning spirits.

At the time, I thought he was talking about the spirit making a body you could see, like movie special effects. Which sounded pretty far fetched. But I don’t do evokation, so who am I to question another mage’s experience?

But there’s been more discussion about it, and it turns out I had a common, but wrong, impression. If you don’t have time to read those posts, here’s the summary:

  • You don’t see the spirit plain as day. Instead, you see a shadowy form. Kind of like seeing a face in clouds — it’s clear enough that something’s there, but not movie quality special effects.
  • An untrained person wouldn’t see anything. Even experienced mages who are new to evokation don’t see anything. So the spirit isn’t reflecting light, at least, not the way a normal object would.

My guess: The spirit is projecting itself into the visual parts of your mind. Which is basically the same way auras and psychic visions work. So let me talk about those for a minute.

Visions in Other Magick

Let’s start with astral projection, since I’ve studied that before. I worked with a friend, had him project, and watched what was happening. He connected to ethereal software (a fairly advanced software at that), which sent images to his mind, much the same way spirits and other ethereal software might send you words or ideas.

By connecting to the software’s connections, I was able to copy its messages and read them into my mind. They went to two spots: (1) The normal spot to read and write thoughts*, and (2) the visual centers, for sending images.

*Specifically, it reads and writes you pre-conscious thoughts. That’s where your thoughts form, slightly before you’re aware of them. It’s the default spot for most ethereal software to connect, since it works even if you haven’t learned to communicate in words.

So, I’m fairly confident that astral projection — both for out of body experiences, and for projecting into the astral plane — works by ethereal software sending messages to your visual centers, which gives you visions.

Those visions happen when you close your eyes. They’re not projected onto the physical world. But psychics also see auras, as a colored glow around a person — an image projected onto the physical world. And, while I haven’t specifically deconstructed auras, I do know that all other psychic intuitions come from ethereal software, sending messages to the person. So it’s a small step to think that psychic auras work the same way: The ethereal software sends messages to their visual centers, rather than interacting with light in the outside world.

So, that’s my best guess on what’s happening when mages see the spirits they evoke: The thing you see is an image projected into your visual centers by the ethereal software.

Preparing Your Mind to See Spirits

“I get what you’re saying, but how is that useful?” you ask. A perfectly fair question. And one that I wouldn’t write if I didn’t have an answer.

From the posts about visual evokation, I understand that many mages, even experienced mages, can’t see spirits. And that they find this irksome. So, there would be value in a technique for preparing your mind to see visual evokation faster, or more reliably, than you can through practice alone.

And now that we have a model — that you see spirits when ethereal software connects to the visual parts of your mind — we can make such a technique. In fact, I already have a technique for preparing your mind for messages from ethereal software. We’ll just adapt it.

Here’s the gist: Ethereal software can only communicate with your mind if your mind is used to the software’s signature. If it’s not, your mind will resist, and the software can’t connect properly. Each area of your mind needs to be set up separately, so even if you’re used to communicating intuitions or words, you might not be set up for images.

Spirits have the same requirements as ethereal software. If you can’t communicate with spirits, these techniques should help. By the way, some spirits can shift their message to your signature, which lets them communicate with unprepared minds.

Here’s the quick version of the technique. (Full series on it here. Note: In that post, “system” means “ethereal software”.)

  • Find the spot the software wants to connect to you. (Details below).
  • Build energy in the software’s signature. Safety note: Build this energy yourself. Don’t have a spirit or another mage do it, or it won’t align to your underlying signature, giving you headaches.
  • Move the energy to where the software wants to connect to you, and hold it there. After 5-10 minutes, you’ll feel your mind shift and accept the new signature. When that happens, release the energy (grounding).
  • Repeat every few hours until this stops making you tired. That means that spot in your mind is adjusted to accept the new signature. This usually takes a few days to a week.
  • Expand the area: Same as before, but let the energy overflow that one area in your mind, so it’s saturating a larger area around it. Again, repeat this until it stops making you tired.
  • Optionally, expand the area one more time, just to be sure you have enough of your mind prepared for the software.
  • Now, do your evokation again. When you feel the connections, guide it in to the area you’ve just prepared.

(Note: Some steps in here weren’t in the series I linked to, since I wrote it a while ago. I’ll make an updated version soon).

Details on finding the spot where the ethereal software wants to connect: You don’t need to know where your visual centers are. You’re going to let the software connect, notice its connections, and use that to find the areas of your mind.

First, learn to recognize ethereal software connecting to you. (“System” = “ethereal software” in that post, too). The gist is: Quiet your energy, connect to something unusual, and feel for a signature that’s not your own. If you work with spirits, you can also ask them to make an obvious connection, so you can learn what to look for.

Then, look for connections while communicating normally with some spirits, so you learn to recognize the spot where they connect for sending ideas.

Now, do an evokation. At the point in the ritual where the spirit would manifest, feel in your mind for connections in a signature that’s not your own. One should be in the spot where you’d normally feel connections when talking with a spirit, and the other should be in your visual centers. That’s where you want to send the energy.

Also, while doing the evokation, make note of the signature of those connections. Maybe even make energy in that signature, while they’re connected, just to practice. Because that’s the signature you’ll want for the rest of the technique.

One tip: You can usually get the ethereal software to connect to you just by focusing on a symbol associated with that style of magick, or focusing on the ritual. It won’t send you visual messages (and will probably only connect for sending ideas, not images), but if you forget the signature, having it connect to you should help.

Comments

If you try it, let me know how it goes. I’ve verified this technique for aligning a mage’s mind to ethereal software, but I haven’t verified the mechanism for the visible manifestation of spirits. Right now it’s just an educated guess.

And if you’re up for a direct magick practitioner joining you for an evokation, let me know. I’m mostly in Albuquerque and San Francisco, but I travel a fair amount of my day job.

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Ritual = Magick via Phone

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

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Great explanation of ritual summoning on the My Occult Circle blog today:

the spirits actually very rarely ‘come through’ fully. Most magical rituals work much more like a phone call. The carefully created sigil together with the name of the spirit work as the telephone number…

these days our ‘Arte’ revolves around trying to make the best phone calls.

This is what I’ve been trying to get at, talking about the difference between sending instructions to outside forces / ethereal software (making a phone call) vs driving magick yourself with your mental muscles. I love the phone analogy.

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Servitors, Minds and Maxwell’s Equations

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

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The difference between a real explanation and a curiosity stopper.

An enormous bolt of electricity comes out of the sky, and the Norse tribesfolk say, “Maybe a really powerful agent was angry and threw a lightning bolt.” The complexity of anger, and indeed the complexity of intelligence, was glossed over by the humans who hypothesized Thor the thunder-agent. To a human, Maxwell’s Equations feel much more complicated than Thor.

*Taken from Less Wrong, with light editing.

The human mind has special modules for simulating other minds. We needed them to understand tribal politics — keeping track of friends and enemies, knowing who to trust, etc. That module lets us unconsciously simulate anything as a mind with its own desires and goals, whether it’s Thor, water “wanting” to flow downhill, or the Coca-Cola corporation “deciding” what to sell.

When we hear an explanation involving an intentional agent (that is, someone or something that acts with an intent), we use that mind-simulating module. It’s unconscious, so we don’t realize how complex “Thor” is. In general, explanations that invoke intentional agents feel simple, and feel like a very likely explanation, even when they’re incredibly complex and incredibly unlikely.

I can’t tell if this flaw in human reasoning is immediately obvious. If it’s not, read this article from my favorite philosophy of science blog, then come back for the magick discussion.

I’ve been reading about servitors because I’m thinking of renaming “systems” as “universal servitors.” (Also considering “etherial software” and “intelligent forces”). The articles I’ve read describe servitors as intelligent, causative agents. Essentially, servitors are minds. You make a servitor by focusing your mind on what you want the servitor to do, imbue it with life, and send it out to do its job.

Say that out loud and you’ll feel like “How do servitors work?” is an answered question.

But try to break each step down into its constituent parts, then simulate that all in your mind, like you would a series of chess moves, the operation of a car engine, or the execution of a piece of software. I can’t do it. I can’t go from “the servitor is an intelligent agent” to a step-by-step explanation of what it does, any more than I can go from “Thor is angry” to Maxwell’s Equations.

Invoking a mind produces a curiosity-stopper, rather than a path to a systematic explanation of how magick works.

Does that matter? Well, if you just want to produce magickal results using standard techniques, then a curiosity-stopper is fine. But if your goal is to understand how magick works under the hood and create a magickal equivalent of Maxwell’s Equations, then you need to be hungry for real answers, not fake-satisfied with a curiosity-stopper.

Note: Quick post today since I’m working on a series on the essence of direct magick, which hopefully starts next week.

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Rethinking Chaos Magick: Why Disappointing is Good

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

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Disappointing ideas are built on an exciting insight. Most ideas don’t even have that.

Have you ever decided something, and just kept believing it years later, without bothering to remember why?

Mr. Black of The Razor’s Edge posted a reply to Why Chaos Magick Disappoints Me. And I realized, I’d been disappointed when I first read Phil Hine in the late 90s, and haven’t gone back since. So now seems like a good time to remember why, and see if it still holds.

Reading the first few chapters of Hine’s book (I forget which, but one of his well-known ones), I thought, “Here’s someone that gets it. Magick isn’t in the particular ritual. There’s something fundamental going on underneath the hood, driving all these interface-level mechanics.” Because that’s what I was (and still am) developing: The common mechanics that make all styles of magick work.

I kept reading. Not everything, but more than a few books from Hine and Peter Carroll. They never got to the mechanics. The closest I saw was “Belief is the key. Whatever you believe works, will.” Which isn’t mechanics, and isn’t even accurate based on what I (and most other mages) observed.

That’s the disappointment: The mismatch between where the idea could go, and where it does.

Something like Candle Magick starts off silly, ends up silly, and delivers exactly the level of depth you expect. It’s like a donut: Would you be disappointed that a donut isn’t a complex, engaging dining experience? Me neither. Even serious styles of magick, like Enochian or Thelema, don’t excite me enough to be disappointing later.

But Chaos Magick starts out deep and engaging. “All these different styles disagree, but they all work. There must be something universal going on under the hood.” That’s exactly where I live, and exactly the sort of guys I want to work with. My natural next question is “What are the moving pieces, how do they work, and how can we use that knowledge to produce better results?” Only, I don’t see any Chaos Magicians asking that, not in a rigorous way, not as an “is” rather than a “might-be.”

That’s what I really want to talk about: The moving pieces behind magick-as-a-phenomenon, regardless of the particular style. If that’s where you work, then no matter what type of magick you do, I’d love to talk with you. How does magick function? What are the moving pieces? What’s your model, and why is it useful? Or, if you don’t have a model yet, what are the questions you’re asking, the observations that are tickling your curiosity, or the start you’re making to exploring the inner-workings of magick?

You can find my most concise answer here, and more details in almost every post on this blog.

And hopefully in that conversation, I’ll learn something about a better sort of Chaos Magick than I found the first time.

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Direct Mage’s Notes on LBRP

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

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A friend, T, taught me the LBRP this weekend. It’s one of the first rituals you learn in hermetic styles of magick.

As a direct mage, I work with the forces, connections and signatures behind the magick. Here are a few notes you might find interesting:

My participation was limited because I couldn’t say the names right, and I don’t have experience intoning. But just doing the ritual halfway, with T doing everything properly, was enough to make the system that handles these rituals recognize me and connect to me.

That system is a front-end system, responsible for interacting with users. It works with several back-end systems, responsible for doing the actual magick.

I asked the front-end system “What is the result of the ritual we just did?” It’s reply: That puts me (the system) into a particular state for future magick work. Presumably, a different ritual (LIRH, for example) would put it into a different state.

You can also achieve these states through a direct communication. So, you wouldn’t use these systems by just sending them an end-goal, but you could replace each ritual with a single command and get the same results.

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Better Connections: How Models Solve Problems

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

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This post is a response to Ananael’s post on Magical Links.

Splendid! These kind of conversations are why I started blogging.

I want to talk about 2 things: Why I don’t trust magickal laws, and how understanding how connections are made leads to better techniques.

By the way, I say “connection” rather than “link.” I think they refer to the same thing, but I’m going to use my term just in case they don’t.

Why I Don’t Trust Laws

I don’t trust the Law of Similarity, the Law of Contagion, or the Law of Opposites. Because they’re not laws. They’re curiosity-stoppers, like phlogiston.

If you’re not sure what those laws are, read Ananael’s post, his explanations are great.

Here’s the thing: They’re not laws.

Note: Ananael is explaining what historic writers said, not positing his own theories. So I want to be clear: I’m not calling Ananael wrong, I’m calling those historic writers wrong.

Gravity is a law. It doesn’t say “things fall.” It says

F = G (m1 x m2 / r^2)

Without the equation, you’re not really explaining anything. If your law just says “Most things fall, but helium balloons don’t,” it’s just stating what you already know.

Laws without details are curiosity-stoppers. They make you comfortable with your lack of understanding, but they don’t eradicate your ignorance.

By the way, I love that Ananael made an operant equation. That’s what I’m reading next.

Ananael’s analysis of the Law of Opposites is spot on: It doesn’t tell you which things are “opposite,” and combined with the Law of Similarities, it basically says “everything affects everything,” which is useless.

But the same is true of “similar.” It’s not precise enough to make predictions or develop new techniques.

Ananael uses a photograph as an example. He’s right, photos are useful for making magickal connections. But why are current photos best, and an old photograph less so, and a digitally altered photo even less so? Same with a person’s voice: The more altered, the less link-able. Why?

Don’t tell me “Because those are less similar.” That’s just a statement that “In general, things that are more similar are better,” like “In general, things fall.” Why?

And more importantly: How can we overcome that limitation, and use an altered photo for a good connection?

These questions aren’t rhetorical. Answers in the next section.

Calling it a law makes it sound like we know what’s going on. We don’t. That’s why I don’t trust laws without equations.

You Need the Moving Parts

In 2008, I wanted to understand magickal connections so I could easily connect to anyone, and prevent them from connecting to me. It’s useful in a lot of ways, but mostly, I wanted to understand how connections work.

So I made some connections, to mages and spirits I knew, people with normal photos, people with altered photos, etc. Then I made a second connection to that connection and followed it from me to them, to see all the steps.

Here’s what I found:

Connections based on a picture, voice, or similar go from you to several systems* to the other person. (Connections based on touch go directly from you to the person, but they’re not the focus of this post).

“System” is my term for any force you channel when you do magick, like what energy healers channel, or the force that responds to your rituals and affects events. They all share some common features, like responding to a standard word-based communication technique (it’s at the bottom of that post).

When I say I followed the connection to a system, I don’t mean I imagined a system between me and the person. I mean I made a second connection, moved it along the connection I’d established with the person, found a structure, and interacted with it to verify what it was.

If you ask a system what it does (“Requesting basic instructions”), it will tell you. That particular system makes connections based on the person’s energy signature (which I just call that their “signature”).

Next question: How do you get the person’s signature? My guess: Another system.

I made more connections, watching for systems connecting to my mind. Another system connected briefly each time I made the request. It connects to what you’re focusing on (pictures, voices, etc), finds out the person’s signature, and passes it to the other system to establish the connection.

Summary:

But wait, there’s more. This system is event-based. Explaining it sounds awkward, but it’s connecting you to the person from the event of having the photo taken. Here’s how it works:

If you ask for “the person in this photo,” the system says “that photo has been altered, there is no person in the photo.” If you don’t specify the request, it appears this is the default.

But if you ask for “the person present at the event of this photo being taken,” then it figures out what you mean and adjusts for the alterations.

To get good connections via old or altered photos, refer to the event.

Better Connections for Rituals

Time for a prediction.

Say you only have an old or altered photo of a person. If instead of just focusing on it during your ritual, you first make a connection like I described above, then focus on that connection as you do your ritual, your magick will work better.

Specifically, the system that responds to your ritual will use that connection, rather than trying to make its own. Since the default connection-making behavior fails in the case of altered photos, you are giving it a good connection where it otherwise wouldn’t have one, producing better results.

But wait, there’s more. Different kinds of magick require connections to different domains. A domain is a type of structure, like physical, mental, a person’s connections to various systems, etc. Healing magick needs a connection to the physical domain, banishing needs the magick domain (where their connections to systems, spirits, and other magickal structures live), and so on.

By default, these systems connect you to a person’s magick domain, except for connections based on their voice, which default to their physical domain. (No idea why, that’s just what it does).

So, if you make a connection using a picture (magick domain) and want to do energy healing (physical domain), the system handling your magick will need to transition that connection’s domain. That’s complex. So it will only get it partially right. That’s my guess for why magick is weaker when you use certain kinds of connections.

You could use this to say “Healing magick works better with a voice-based connection,” but that’s boring.

Instead, I say “Transition to the correct domain to make a better connection.” (Which will raise your L coefficient in Ananael’s equation). By shifting the small-scale signature of your magick-domain connection, you can trace to the person’s physical domain.

That transition is advanced. I had to practice each step before I could do the whole thing. But it’s optional, and you should get good results with a solid connection to the person, even in the wrong domain. (Your system should shift to the right domain for you).

So, here’s my prediction for maximal magick success:

  1. Connect to the person by focusing on their picture (or whatever) and giving an event-based instruction.
  2. Transition that connection to the proper domain. (Intermediate direct magick, but optional).
  3. Maintain that connection during the ritual, focusing on it whenever you refer to the person.

Try it out, let me know how it works. If you need details on any step, leave a comment.

Misc Thoughts

Some other thoughts while reading Ananael’s post that didn’t fit anywhere:

The hoodoo trick of connecting to a physical object, then putting it somewhere the person will connect to, is very cool. I’ve done this with jewelry, sinking connections in to enchant a pendant, so I can connect to the person’s physical domain easily (for protection). It works well.

There’s a difference between using a connection to send your own energy (only a fraction goes through) and using it to alter their structures (works well). Why? I could say “connections have resistance,” but that doesn’t explain anything more than saying “energy only has a fraction of its power over a connection.” The real answer gets into the difference between energy and activation, which is a whole post unto itself.

@Barrabbas (in Ananael’s comments): Connections based on symbols use the same systems I covered, and their goal is to connect you to a third system associated with the ritual style that symbol belongs to (the “symbol’s system”). The first system gets the signature of the symbol’s system, and either gives you that signature, or gives it to the system that makes connections, which connects you to that system. Once you know the system’s signature, you can just use the second system, skipping the symbol-to-signature step.

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3 Direct Magick Skills for Better Ritual Results

Monday, May 30th, 2011

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I do direct magick. The parts most mages leave to the unconscious, I bring front and center, guiding my mind through each step.

Direct magick focuses on different skills than ritual magick. In this post, I’m going to show you 3 skills you can learn in about a week, how to learn them, and how to use them to get better results from your ritual (and other) magick.

The Model

Each direct magick working starts with a systematic model of all the pieces involved.

Ask people how magick works, you’ll get variations of “I focus on my intent, send it out into the world, and it happens.”

But how does “Send it out” work? Once you explain that, you can develop new techniques.

The skills in this post are based on this model:

To do magick, I contact a system, by focusing on a symbol, doing a ritual, or if I use the system a lot, just thinking about the magick I want to do. The system connects to my mind, reads my instructions as I think them, and drives the magick I requested, influencing events, providing energy to channel, or whatever else is required.

“System” is a special term in my style of magick. It’s any external force you channel to help with your magick — it provides information for psychics, energy for energy healers, and drives the magick that flows from your rituals.

It’s not that I think telling you this name suddenly makes you better at magick. But now that we have a name, I can explain how it behaves and how to use it better. That’s the point of the model.

If you work with spirits, those are not systems. Spirits are sentient, and systems are not. Think of systems like computer programs.

Skill 1: Find the Right Force to Channel

Different systems are better for different tasks. Even among one type of system — systems for manipulating probabilities, say — some are better for health, some for career, some for luck, etc. Some are easier to use, some are more capable. Some are simply better all around, like how Wordpad is simply better than Notepad. You can improve all your results by using a better system.

A few years ago, I became annoyed that my girlfriend was psychic and I wasn’t. Can’t let a girl beat me. (I’m mostly joking. But I definitely feel a competition when someone I work with can do something I can’t).

If you’ve ever tried, you know you can’t will yourself to become psychic. The key is finding the right system to channel. Systems are specialized, so one that drives rituals generally won’t also provide psychic intuitions. Kind of like how Powerpoint is great for slideshows, but you wouldn’t use it for accounting.

I asked some spirits I work with to recommend a system that handles psychic intuitions (a “psychic system”). That’s probably the best method, because they’ll consider a lot of systems and find one suited to your skills and goals.

If that’s not an option for you, you can find a system through a person who uses it. See, systems connect to the user to read their thoughts and write the response. Once you find the connection, you can start working with the system too. To find the connection:

  1. Connect to the person’s mind. (A psychic, if you want a system to help you become psychic).
  2. Notice the signature of their mind. (“Signature” as in “energy signature”). That’s their signature.
  3. Look for a connection in a different signature. That will be the system’s connection.

Connecting to the system is easy: Get a feel for the system’s signature based on that connection, then think about wanting to connect to the system yourself. Don’t worry, systems can support tons of simultaneous users, you won’t interfere with what that person is doing.

Of course, I could have just followed Lisa’s connection and used the same system. But I wanted a better system. Because I’m competitive.

So, what does that mean for a ritual mage? 2 things:

  1. If you want to learn a totally new skill, start by finding the right system, like I did to become psychic.
  2. Within your ritual style, there are probably multiple systems. Some are better for influencing events, others for contacting spirits, etc. Using the right one will get you better results.

How do you find the right one? Ask a spirit you know to recommend a system for a particular task. They communicate in concepts, so the word “system” won’t mean anything, but if you describe “the thing that interprets my instructions and drives change in the world,” they should know what you mean.

How do you use it? As a direct mage, I would first connect to the system by thinking about its energy signature, then perform the ritual. That way I know exactly where my instructions are going. But I’m curious how real ritual mages would approach this.

Skill 2: Engage Your Mental Muscles

If you hire some actors, teach them the motions and phrases, and have them perform a ritual, will you get magick? My guess is no, or maybe just a little. Certainly less than if an experienced mage performs the ritual, even if the performances are identical.

Why? It’s mental muscles: The parts of your mind that drive magick. When they’re paying attention, they respond to your rituals and symbols, organizing and positioning your thoughts so they’re easy for the system to read. When they’re not, you won’t get much magickal action even from a ritual that looks perfect to a theater director.

There’s a direct magick skill of consciously engaging your mental muscles. I call it your “mental posture.” To learn it, see this post.

That post was written for novice mages. As a ritual mage, you probably do several types of magick, so you’ll need several mental postures.

Why? Because different mental muscles do different things. Some control energy in your body, some manage your connections, some talk with spirits, and so on. Each task will use different mental muscles, and therefore a slightly different mental posture.

So, if you do Qigong and Thelema, you’ll want to learn 2 mental postures. Develop the Thelema posture with it on a ritual you find easy, rather than an energy meditation, and associate it with a slightly different visualization.

Speaking precisely, Thelemic spirit-work may have a different mental posture than Thelemic probability-shifting. I’m not sure. But they should be similar enough to lump into one mental posture.

Focusing on mental posture separately from learning particular rituals will help you learn to control your mental muscles quickly. Then, before doing your ritual, engage your mental muscles, so they’re paying attention from the very start, and throughout the ritual, keep your mental posture in the back of your mind to keep them engaged.

A lot of experienced mages already do this, without being consciously aware of it. But the terms and exercises should be helpful for teaching.

Skill 3: Align Your Mental Signature

One thing I like about the Information Model of magick is its focus on message. If your magick isn’t working, it’s probably that your message isn’t clear, not that you need more energy.

Part of that is clarifying your goals in your own head, so you know what you want. But part of it is a technical magick skill to transmit those instructions clearly. And that’s where direct magick can help.

When the system connects to your mind, it wants to work in its signature, not yours. Working in different signatures is like talking with an accent. Slightly different signatures are like talking to someone from Texas. Moderately different signatures are like talking with someone from Mexico. Dramatically different signatures are like talking to someone who only speaks French, and you really can’t communicate.

As is typical of Americans, my foreign language skills stop at asking for the bathroom.

As you work with a system, your mind will become used to its signature, resulting in clearer communication with the system. But you can do that much more quickly by bathing your mental muscles in energy with the system’s signature. Here’s the technique. (Read the first 2 posts in that series). It’s written for psychics, but it should work for any system.

To use it: Pick the system you want to use for your magick. Use that technique to prepare your mind to work with that system, without doing any rituals. Once you’re aligned, do your ritual magick normally. You should notice that working with the system is easier — the messages are clearer and the whole process is less tiring. As long as you use the system regularly, you should never have to repeat the alignment exercises.

If you’re very experienced with a particular style, you’re probably already aligned to those systems. But if you get a new system within the same style (see Skill 1), or try a new style, this should speed up your learning.

Also, some systems have a command to align your mind’s signature more quickly. If you can issue commands via words to the system (see bottom of this post), try asking it to align your mind to its signature.

The overall result? You can specify more intricate goals for your magick, and the results will follow those instructions more closely.

Based on some research by Ananael, it seems that the systems behind Thelema (and probably other ritual styles) also pay attention to symbols you draw or gesture, responding to events in addition thoughts. I’m pretty sure they also listen to your thoughts, since every ritual mage I know says there’s a lot more to rituals than just doing the physical steps. So this should help even if you additionally need to get physical gestures right.

Bonus Skill: Commands in English

When I work with systems, I give them instructions telepathically as words, the same way I communicate with spirits: I think ideas in a particular part of my mind, and the system reads them, then writes its response into the same part of my mind*. If you’ve ever had a spirit “speak” ideas into your thoughts, you know what I mean.

*That’s actually the old way I used systems. These days, I remove the thought-signatures from my own mind, package them up, and deliver them to the system. But that’s a post for a different day.

It’s like a command-line interface on a computer (think DOS or Unix). The system responds to each sentence, plus it has some special phrases that convey very specific instructions. If the system doesn’t understand, it will tell you, and you can re-phrase. If you get stuck, use the command “Requesting basic usage instructions,” which returns a Readme. If you’re still stuck, call a spirit to train you in using the system.

I’ve taught psychics and energy workers to use systems this way, but never a ritual mage (not that it fails, simply that I haven’t tried). So try this and let me know what happens:

  • Learn the mental posture for doing your rituals. (Skill 2).
  • Align your mind’s signature to the system. (Skill 3).
  • Do your opening rituals, such as LBRP or LIRH.
  • Pick some task you can easily do with a ritual, such as summoning a spirit (invoke / evoke / whatever you want). But forget you know the ritual. Just focus on the sentence “I’d like to talk with the spirit associated with this symbol,” and focus on the spirit’s symbol. Or, if you know the signature of that spirit (how it feels to work with him), think “I’d like to talk with this spirit” and think of his signature.
  • Once you’re done, close your ritual normally. (LBRP / LBRH / etc).

Did it work? I’m really curious. If you try it, please leave a comment with your experiences (or a link to your write-up). If you hit a snag, let me know so we can debug the technique.

The point, of course, isn’t to do what you already do without rituals (though that can be useful for speed and doing magick in public). It’s to open up more commands to the system. Most systems have a wide vocabulary, with more instructions than you could reasonably represent in rituals. The first step to opening up those options is changing from a ritual interface to a command-line interface.

If I get some good feedback, I’ll write a follow-up with more commands to try with your systems.

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

Fighting for Ritual Mages

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

This week’s theme is fighting. Start with Direct Magick Fundamentals: Fighting With Magick.

Most ritual mages have rituals to banish spirits and prevent attacks.  Here are some tips to make ritual-based fighting more effective.

Use a Serious Ritual Style

“Serious” is hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it.  Golden Dawn is a serious ritual system.  Gardnerian Wicca, too.  And Kabbalah, Enochian, Voodoo, …

A candle, a ribbon and a poem is not a serious ritual.  It can focus your intent for simple magick like moving energy in the body.  But intent alone isn’t effective for protection. You either need direct magick techniques, or the external forces (“systems“) that come with a serious ritual style.

Speed

Speed wins fights.  A direct magick attack hits much faster than a ritual.

Against a spirit draining your energy, you can tough it out and get through the ritual.  But against someone who alters your mind’s energy to bind your magickal abilities, you need to prevent their attack in real time.

Some options (feel free to pick several):

  1. Learn to notice and resist attacks with direct magick, to give you time to respond.
  2. Make a quick ritual, using the ritual elements of your style, but in a shortened form.
  3. Use the ritual system directly.  See this post for details.

#1 is what this week is about.

In #2, you learn to put as much focus into the shortened ritual as the long one. As you get better with shortened rituals, you can learn to visualize the ritual instead of doing it (option #3) so you can use magick in public and when you’re away from your ritual supplies. The point is the same: Use the ritual forces quickly enough to be viable in a serious fight.

I want to be clear: Don’t do a “tie a ribbon around a candle” ritual.  But once you’re initiated and experienced in a ritual style, you can use the magickal system without a full ritual.  That’s the serious mage’s do it yourself rituals, and it’s a good stepping stone to direct magick.

Limits of the System

The systems behind ritual magick weren’t designed to do every bit of magick you might ever want to do. At that point, you need to do magick directly.

It might be an attacker that can bypass the wall-like shield your banishing ritual creates.  It might be someone that hacks your system and denies you access.  Particularly for fighting, where someone is opposing you, you will hit the limits of the system. But at some point, you will need to do something your system can’t handle.

That’s why this site is here. I’ve been doing magick directly for about 20 years. It doesn’t hit a ceiling the way styles that channel outside forces do.  Ultimately, you will want direct magick for protection. Maybe for everything else, too.

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

Directly Using Ritual Magick Systems

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

This week’s theme is systems. Start with Direct Magick Fundamentals: Systems.

There’s a classic debate between strict ritual mages and do-it-yourselfers.

The ritual mages insist you do everything by the book, with the right correspondences and pronunciations and everything else.

The DIYers think all magick is intention so it shouldn’t matter if your ritual is traditional Golden Dawn or something you made up involving a candle, some ribbon, and a poem.

They’re Both Wrong

Behind each ritual is a system: A magickal structure that reads your intent and handles the magick. Performing the ritual connects that system to you.

Steps to doing ritual magick:

  1. Connect to a useful ritual system
  2. Be accepted by the ritual system (ie. be initiated into the style)
  3. Communicate your intent to your unconscious mind
  4. System reads your unconscious and handles the magick

A DIY ritual can communicate intention to your unconscious, but it will fail to get a good system. You can use a psychic system, but it generally won’t work as well. That’s why initiation and proper ritual elements are important.

But the details of the ritual aren’t. You can connect to a system by meditating on a symbol and communicate your intent to your unconscious just by thinking. The ritual is just to help you focus.

Directly Using Ritual Systems

At some point the rituals will become repetitive. You will stop learning.

Using the ritual system directly lets you explore again. Most ritual mages eventually do magick without rituals. It’s how to get deeper than the ritual style’s teachings will let you go.

To use a ritual system directly:

  1. Connect to the system (meditate on a symbol).
  2. Meditate on your intent.
  3. Let the system pick it up.

Remember, you have to be initiated first. Or hack into the system (tomorrow’s post).

Multiple Systems Are Tricky

Most ritual mages practice several styles (Golden Dawn, Enochian and Goetia, for example). Meditating on symbols from each style in one session will connect you to all the systems at the same time.

Each system goes about magick differently. The Goetia might send a spirit to work for you, while Golden Dawn might alter probabilities to influence which events come to pass. The strategies might work well in unison. Or they might not. It’s hard to tell until you try.

I think you should try. Trying, failing, and recovering are how you learn magick.

First, learn to directly use each system, one at a time. Then experiment with two related styles, like Golden Dawn and Enochian. Once you have that down, try combining two unrelated styles.

A few ideas for combining unrelated systems:

  • Delineate how they should coordinate their efforts.
  • Ask the systems for status reports.
  • Include a “cancel” option when you start the effect so you can kill it if it goes badly.
If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.