Posts Tagged ‘Books’

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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