Posts Tagged ‘Rituals’

The Energy of Consecrated Oil: Oil of Abramelin Ritual

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

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What happens when oil gets consecrated? That was my question at the Oil of Abramelin ritual at the Blazing Star OTO.

This was a public ritual to create consecrated oil for use in other rituals, including the temple’s Gnostic Mass. About 20 people attended, most participated but a handful (including myself) chose to watch. If you want to know more about the ritual, there are plenty of resources online, so I’m going to talk about the steps I found particularly interesting in terms of energy:

The ritual opened with a Star Ruby. I believe this is a banishing. I had expected banishings to remove and block connections from spirits, but it doesn’t do that — I was connected to a spirit I often work with, and during the ritual we talked with a couple other spirits too, and none of them were affected. I also did some psychic intuitions, and my connection that that ethereal software was unaffected as well. So, banishing does not remove connections from spirits, at least the type of connections and spirits I work with.

So what did it do? It set an energy signature for the room, like a field of energy. This was done with some force, which would wipe out any existing energy signatures for anyone not shielded against it. So I’m now thinking of banishing as banishing the old energy, rather than banishing connections.

While this was happening, I connected to the energy field that was being set, then to the structures that were setting it, which I expected to be ethereal software. It was not. Here’s how I know: There’s a type of connection that’s universally recognized as requesting communication, used by every spirit and ethereal software I work with. I tried making one of these “communication connections,” and the energy-field-setting structure ignored it. This structure seemed to be entirely devoted to delivering energy to set a field for the room.

I felt my way around that structure, past it, and found the ethereal software that created it. This software responded to my communication, and explained some of what it does (essentially, associates energy effects with rituals — this would be one component of a larger system of ethereal software). But it took some effort to find this ethereal software, it’s clearly not intended for the ritual participants to use directly. So if you do a Star Ruby (or other Thelemic ritual) and go looking for the ethereal software, be aware that it may be hidden.

The next few steps of the ritual involved mixing some oil, I didn’t notice much interesting energy stuff. The next part involved two bottles of oil, one that was just mixed in this ritual, the other from a previous year’s ritual. Each participant came up to the altar, filled a small flask with this year’s oil, then added a drop of the previous year’s already-consecrated oil. And adding the drop of already-consecrated oil triggered a large energy shift. Whatever just happened, that’s probably the energy-level implementation of consecration.

After the ritual, a friend let me examine his flask. (I had the option to make my own, but there were limited slots for participants, and I figured other members would benefit more.) I saw an energy structure attached to the oil, low-energy and mostly inactive, but stable, almost crystalline. I’m calling it a “matrix.” I was surprised to see that no ethereal software was connected to this matrix — it’s apparently stable enough to just last on its own.

At the start of the ritual, my spirits had said that the consecrated oil would be marked energetically. In future rituals, when the ethereal software connected to the oil, it would see the marking and know it was consecrated. Essentially, that the consecration is a tag placed on the oil, rather than a structural change to the oil itself. And this matrix certainly fits the bill.

There was one more item of interest during the ritual: Participants were supposed to have a conversation with their Holy Guardian Angel (a term from Abramelin’s 14th-century manuscript) and focus on their aspiration while charging their oil. I’d encountered this term in my teens, reading about Crowley on the early internet, and I had a question: Is the HGA an internal part of their mind, or an external spirit / force? There doesn’t seem to be much agreement on this, or much of a clear answer on what an HGA is in general. So I looked for external connections when two experienced participants were doing that part of the ritual. One had no external connections, the other was connected to the ethereal software that was engaged during the Star Ruby. Neither had connections to spirits or other ethereal software, which leads me to believe that the HGA is an internal part of the mind.

In all, I very much enjoyed this ritual. The energy was fascinating. Next year, I intend to return and make a flask for myself to explore that matrix and understand how to make that sort of stable structures.

(Ananael or other Thelemic practitoners, please feel free to add or correct me on the ritual. Also, note that this ritual was open to the public and thoroughly non-secret.)

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Ritual, Magick, and the Brain

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

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Responding to Ritual as Social GlueSimon asks a question I find fascinating, even though I don’t have an answer:

Question here – your magick is very ‘head centered’ in some ways. Do you think there’s ever a case the engaging the body – ie actually moving it in patterns can achieve something in magick that sitting at a laptop cannot? And I mean magick in the more narrowly defined sense – affecting change in the world- rather than building social cohesion etc.

Its been demonstrated that views of the brain as some isolated phenomenon is now obsolete and what you do with your spine has as much influence on your mental faculties as anything else. Ethereal structures may well be ‘unfamiliar matter’ but we are still mediating them through our brain.
I wonder if there is not some correlation here. ‘as above so below’ and all that… maybe its not always the most effective route to sit behind a laptop and avoid doing strange ritual movements etc. I don’t know…

First, let’s review the moving parts: Ethereal muscles are the parts of the mind that interact with energy and drive magick. They are made of ethereal, magickal stuff, rather than nerves. They connect to the brain and respond to our thoughts and intent — that is, ethereal muscles do magick when our brain enters certain states.

To paraphrase Simon, some brain states don’t happen just from thinking ideas while sitting at a laptop. Some parts of your brain are devoted to physical movements, or speaking, or to seeing other humans moving and speaking. What if some of those brain regions let us engage and signal our ethereal muscles in different, useful ways?

I love the idea. Because it’s plausible, and it never occurred to me before. (Yet another reason you should start a blog.)

I don’t have a solid answer, but I do have a few thoughts:

Ethereal muscles seem to be able to connect to many different parts of the mind. That may be why some people see visions, others hear, and still others just receive information — their ethereal muscles may be connecting to the visual, auditory, and memory centers of the brain. Much of learning Direct Magick is helping your ethereal muscles connect to your conscious mind, rather than your unconscious. And around 5 years ago, I did some work connecting my ethereal muscles to the visual parts of my brain, and the information became more visual, a diagram of the tissue I was working with rather than just knowledge about it. So, it may be as simple as, “If your ethereal muscles connect to your physical-movement brain regions, then you need to do ritual. If not, then you don’t.” Which has always been more or less my model.

(Ritual also seems to work like a sigil, connecting the mage to that system’s ethereal software. See the section, Aside: How Do Sigils Work?)

Continuing that reasoning, if a person starts magick by doing ritual, they’re always engaging their physical-movement brain regions whenever they do magick. I could imagine their ethereal muscles bonding to those brain regions, and that those regions would become a necessary part of the mental posture for engaging their ethereal muscles. Whereas in someone who always did magick mentally, their ethereal muscles would probably not bind to the physical-movement brain parts.

But maybe there’s something else. Maybe ethereal muscles have a default set of brain regions they bind to, and one of those regions is the physical-movement one. Maybe that means that doing magick without ritual requires re-binding your ethereal muscles to different regions (through years of practice). Or maybe some ethereal muscles are one way and some are another way, and the only way to get certain ethereal muscles is to engage the physical-movement brain regions. I wouldn’t bet on any of those, but I wouldn’t dismiss them, either.

I don’t have an answer. But the next time I get the chance to do a by-the-books ritual, I’m going to do what I can to find out.

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Ritual as Social Glue

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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When I see a magick ritual, I often think, “There’s no way that the laws of physics have a special case for human lips forming those words, or human hands moving in human-recognizable shapes. That’s just not how physics works. Whatever the underlying mechanism, there has to be a faster, more precise way to trigger it.”

Usually, I think that as I’m getting bored.

But at a recent no-particular-tradition pagan ritual, it occurred to me: This ritual isn’t about altering the external world. They mean something different by the word “magick,” something closer to, “Engaging psychological phenomena to build a community.” They want to optimize for that, not for efficient manifesting results.

Going a step further, some friends use “magick” to mean “Maslow-style peak experiences.” Others mean “Anything non-medical that makes me feel better, from placebo to herbs to energy.” I like my more precise meaning, but it’s worth remembering that not everyone means the same thing by “magick.”

When I’m at rituals, I find I get less frustrated by remembering that we’re solving for different problems. Then I can learn about building community, rather than focusing on how inefficient their magick is.

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Demystifying Ethereal Software

Friday, January 31st, 2014

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Let’s clear up some misconceptions about ethereal software.

This post was inspired by Ananael’s comment, where he laid out some of his understanding of my model. Now, Ananael is an experienced mage, a longtime reader, and generally a smart guy. If he’s misunderstanding my model, others probably do too. Which means I should try to explain it more clearly.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Ethereal Software = Egregore

Not really. But it’s a good starting point.

Words do two things. First, they point to external objects. That man, this cup, those ships. We use words to point to things.

In that sense, “ethereal software” and “egregore” both point to the same external objects — the forces we contact and channel for magick.

But words also suggest purpose, use, and other connotations. Is that music, or just noise? Is it graffiti or art? I chose to use a new term because I disagree with the connotations around egregores — where they come from, how to best use them, and so on. I discuss that here (written when I used the word “system” instead of “ethereal software.”)

Programming vs Using

When I use ethereal software, I tell it what I want to happen. That could be a short instruction (“make me successful in this job interview”) or complex (“heal this cold, and adjust the signature every 5 minutes for the next 24 hours“). Note that I never said how to make me successful, or what energy to use for the cold. I assumed the software already knew how to do that.

When I program ethereal software, I show it how to do something new. For energy healing, that means using my ethereal muscles to produce energy in certain signatures, showing the ethereal software which tissues get those signatures, and describing what to do: “When I tell you to reduce her auto-immune sensitivity, apply this signature throughout her body for 3 hours.”

In order to program ethereal software, you must first do the magick without the software. That’s the origin of the term “direct magick”: Doing magick by directly applying connections and energy and other magickal structures, rather than telling a force what we want to happen.

You’ll notice that, just like computer software, programming and using are two separate skills, and generally not done at the same time. First you program ethereal software, then you (or someone else) uses it.

Most people never program ethereal software. I didn’t program anything until I’d been doing magick for almost 20 years, and doing it directly for 5-10 years. These forces can already do so much, it’s just rare to run into things they can’t handle.

(There’s also a middle-ground, where you name a complex command so you can use it easily. For example, “Whenever I tell you to heal a cold, by default, adjust the signature every 5 minutes for the next 24 hours.” Useful when making a command for someone else to use, if they cannot clearly communicate complex commands.)

Ethereal Software and Rituals

Rituals aren’t required to use ethereal software. In fact, most of the software I personally use was designed for spirits, and has no concept of a ritual; you have to communicate by packaging your thoughts into a message, like when you talk to spirits. But lots of mages do rituals, and Ananael was asking about them, so let’s talk rituals.

Ananael says:

As a ceremonial practitioner, if I’m going to employ a software metaphor at all it seems to me that the “commands” in magick are akin not to each variation of a full ritual but rather the spirit names, words of power, and figures employed to construct those rituals. The “programming” takes place when a magician assembles those “commands” into a structure. So the Star Ruby is separate from an LRP because it calls on different names and godforms, but if you take apart the LRP, keep all the names and spirits, and put it back together to look more like a Star Ruby (which as I recall I sent you an example of) it’s still an LRP, just optimized differently.

I think this is a miscommunication about just what it means to “program” ethereal software.

Ananael is communicating his intent to the ethereal software. He’s doing it using a complex symbolic language. I can see why he might think of that as programming.

But remember, programming is when you show ethereal software how to do something it doesn’t understand yet. What signature to apply to which tissue for a particular healing technique. It’s not about explaining your goals, it’s about doing the magick yourself, with your own ethereal muscles, so the software can copy you.

(I’m not sure what the equivalent would be for manifesting, I haven’t programmed that software yet. But the first step would be figuring out how it functions under the hood, doing what the manifesting software does using only your own ethereal muscles, then showing it how to do that new technique. Which isn’t the sort of thing a normal user needs to do.)

The rituals I’ve seen — LBRP, OTO Mass, a few others — seem like a way to express your intent using a complex symbolic language. Someone (probably a spirit) programmed those symbols and correspondences into the software, then people learn the symbols and correspondences and use them to communicate with the software. It’s rather clever, actually, because it’s probably easier to explain these symbols than it is to explain how to clearly communicate with the software using only your thoughts. But the programming happened earlier, when that spirit set the software to know how to implement those commands and intents.

Modifying Rituals

One more misunderstanding to clear up:

As I recall, you originally came up with the idea based on the concept that ceremonial magicians don’t change their rituals. The implication there, then, is that any trivial change to something like the LRP makes it “different software.” But to anyone who’s practiced the ritual that obviously isn’t true – magicians vary it all the time within reason and it works the same way and draws the same energy.

The origins are quite different, actually. I originally noticed how all these different systems of magick, with different theories about why magick works and how to use it, produced similar results. That suggests there’s a single mechanism shared by all those systems.

Also, the changes in the world that magick creates are much more complex than you could express in a sigil or ritual. Whatever magick does at the atomic level, however it figures out what will happen in the future and which ways to influence the present, something extremely complex must be going on. Which means something equally complex must be driving those changes, taking our instructions and figuring out the details of creating that change in the world.

(That equally complex thing is a combination of the software itself, and the spirits / people who programmed it.)

Now, the details of ethereal software — how we connect and interact, what exactly it does, if there’s one or many of them, etc — didn’t come from those ideas. The details came from working with ethereal software, asking spirits about it, and testing things out myself and with other people.

As for changing a ritual, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Remember how my sigil has 6 symbols? My ethereal software is bound to each symbol. So, you could mess with the overall sigil, reorganize the symbols, even change some of them, and it would probably still work. Redundancy is your friend, and I bet there’s more than one symbol involved in most of your rituals.

When you begin your ritual, the software is already out there, already made. If your ritual uses enough standard symbols and steps, the software will connect to you. If your ritual doesn’t, the software won’t. But doing something weird won’t get you different software, unless you accidentally modified your symbols to look like another system’s symbols.

And all of that is interesting, but probably not what’s at work here. Because doing a standard ritual is just one way to get software to connect. Much more common — the only thing I do, and from what I’ve seen, the normal way ritual practitioners do it too — is to just think about the magick you want to do. See, once you’ve used some ethereal software a few times, (once if you focus on it), your ethereal muscles will remember its signature. And most software will leave a tiny connection to you, to let you contact it again — all my software does this, anyway. So, just remembering the signature will let you contact that software again.

So, when an experienced ritual practitioner does some weird ritual, whether it’s a modified LBRP or some made up thing about Superman? They’re probably contacting the ethereal software by remembering its signature and letting it read their intent. No ritual required.

What does the ritual do, then? At a minimum, if rituals are how you do magick, they’ll help you focus. But I also expect (but don’t know) that most ethereal software used in ritual magick is programmed to respond to the ritual, to take the ritual into account when interpreting the intent it reads from the practitioner’s mind. I could see that adding redundancy to the communication with the ethereal software, and as we all know, redundancy is your friend.

Does that help? I’d like to know if this is clarifying things, for Ananael and the rest of you, so I know if I should go into this in my book. Thanks!

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Direct Magick in Action: Traditional Ritual Magick

Friday, September 13th, 2013

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This is part of An Initiation into Direct Magick – Book 1.

Much of magick involves rituals. They communicate the mage’s intent to their unconscious, solidify social groups, and trigger external forces to respond to the mage. Depending on the ritual, those external forces might provide visions, or create luck, or do something else.

In direct magick, we call those external forces ethereal software. Each traditional system of magick (at least, every one I’ve observed) has its own ethereal software, which responds to that system’s rituals and helps that system’s initiates. The software is responsible for turning intent and ritual into change in the external world.

To help make sure we’re on the same page about how ethereal software operates, let’s discuss three common rituals: The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP), the OTO Gnostic Mass, and some do-it-yourself rituals from trained mages. By making the model concrete, we’ll clear up most misunderstandings.

(If you’re not familiar with those rituals, just think of the LBRP and OTO Mass as traditional, by-the-book magick rituals.)


I’ve been walked through the LBRP several times by several different groups of friends. Each time, during the first part of the ritual (the Kabbalistic Cross), ethereal software connected to us, first to the people experienced with the LBRP, then to me and the other guests. I was able to follow those connections back to the software, and out to the rest of our group. I was also able to communicate with the software using the same techniques I use to talk with spirits and other softwares.

As we invoked the angels, the ethereal software communicated with everyone’s mind. (I felt the software’s activity through my connections to its connections.) After the rituals, some friends described visions of angels during this time, which I believe came from these messages.

At the close of the ritual, the ethereal software stayed connected to everyone, listening to our intents, ready to respond to any other rituals we might do.

Were my friends aware of the ethereal software? Well, they’re aware that their visions came from an external force, and that performing the ritual caused that external force to engage with us. But actually spotting the software’s connections requires special techniques* that weren’t part of my friends’ training, so they couldn’t watch the software operate. Some friends conceptualize that force the same way I do (as ethereal software under different names), while others conceptualize it as a spirit, or an angel, or some other sort of force.

*We’ll start learning those techniques later in this book.

OTO Gnostic Mass

The OTO Mass (which I attended at a lodge in Albuquerque in the early 2010s) was similar to the LBRP: Early in the ritual, ethereal software connected to each of us. (Different software than with the LBRP.) It sent us energy to produce a sense of awe, or of being somewhere special. It also responded to my requests for information about how it worked, its available commands, and connected me to the spirits that made it. It isn’t surprising that it operated so similarly to the LBRP, but it serves as an additional data point, confirming that these experiences are common to other ritual magick.

DIY Rituals

Many of my friends build their own rituals. They start with a somewhat-traditional opening (most based on modern Wiccan traditions such as Reclaiming), then build their own ritual out of symbols and words that speak to them. It’s done well, but it’s not by-the-book.

As before, the ethereal software connected to us early in each ritual. In the main part of the ritual, the software read my friends’ intent from their minds, and acted on those intents. (It couldn’t be responding to the ritual itself because my friends had just made the ritual up.) Then, at the close of the ritual, the software disconnected from us.

You’ve probably noticed the pattern: Each ritual connects ethereal software to the mage, then the software reads their intent. Indeed, that appears to be the pattern for all of the ritual magick I’ve observed.

We’ll use a similar pattern in this book, with one simplification: We’ll connect to ethereal software by focusing on a sigil, or simply by remembering the feel of that ethereal software (the software’s signature), rather than by performing a ritual. This make it easier to do magick in a public space, or to do magick quickly.

We’ll connect you to that ethereal software soon. But first, let’s discuss a few other common acts of magick.

Next Chapter

Table of Contents

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Does a Magick Ritual = A Computer Login?

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

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Andrew Watt asks:

So, to continue the software analogy… doing the LBRP [Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram] is kind of like going through a secure login procedure? You’re setting up your secure connection to a particular set of ethereal software, and getting it ready to accept your next command lines?

First, the simple answer: Yes, you can think of it that way. Particularly if you’re just trying to get the gist of my model, that’s close enough.

Now, for the thorough answer: This question pushes the limits of the analogy. Which I love, but it means this post is going to be a little advanced.

The ethereal software connects to you near the start of the ritual. So, I’d say that focusing on the symbols or starting the ritual is like entering the URL* for your web browser (or SSH software).

*URL = The web address at the top of the screen, like http://magickofthought/NameOfArticle.

The login — how the software knows to trust you — happens when the software connects to you and sees that your mind is capable of working with the software’s signature. That really seems to be how ethereal software authorizes users: If it can connect to you in its signature and your mind can accept those connections, you can use the software. Additionally, if you can package a message (like a spirit does when the spirit sends you a message), and send it in the software’s signature, then the software will accept you as a high-level user. I’ve done this to use many softwares without initiation, including software for Enochian, Thelema, Reiki, OTO’s public mass, and various softwares used by draining spirits and unfriendly mages (to shut down their attack).

I’d initially imagined that ethereal software would have a list of authorized users, and verify that your signature is on that list. I’ve never seen any software where this is the case, though. Read more about this in my series on hacking ethereal software (which I called “systems” at the time).

As far as a secure connection, there is a command to have the software shield its connection, so other people can’t connect to you through the software’s connection. That setting should make it more difficult for someone to listen in on your messages, too. But the shielding only comes on if you specifically request it; it’s off by default for most software. Personally, I’ve listened in on conversations with ethereal software while training people, but can’t see a reason to listen in secretly, so I wouldn’t worry too much about a secure vs insecure connection if you’re using it briefly, like for a ritual. (I use shielded connections when I’m having software connect to me permanently, like for psychic intuitions.)

Does that answer you?

(Also, see more on the LBRP, and details on connecting to the Enochian ethereal software.)

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Examples of My Model: LBRP

Monday, May 28th, 2012

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Another excerpt from Part 1 of the book, explaining my model by walking you through the LBRP. As always, feedback is welcome.

I don’t do rituals myself, but I sometimes join friends for rituals, so I’ve seen the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) a bunch of times, from several different groups. Here’s what I observed each time:

During the Kabbalistic Cross, ethereal software would connect to us. It first connected to the people who regularly practice the LBRP, then connected to me and the other guests. I continued looking for other connections from spirits or other ethereal software, but did not find any, so I’m fairly confident it’s only that one ethereal software connecting to everyone.

As we performed the pentagrams and invoked the angels, the ethereal software communicated with everyone’s mind. Because I was performing the ritual, I wasn’t focused enough to read the messages and images the software was sending to my friends, but in similar situations (such as Enochian magick, psychic visions, and astral projection), other ethereal software sends intuitions and visions. Since some of my friends described visions of angels after the ritual, I assume the ethereal software was responsible for those.

At the close of the ritual, the ethereal software stayed connected to everyone, presumably so it could respond to the next ritual we might perform. For example, if we asked for luck in some activity, the ethereal software would read that request from our minds and cause the actual changes to make that lucky event happen. The software can also connect us to other ethereal software or to spirits for assistance with other tasks.

How did the ethereal software know to connect when we started the ritual? In the rituals I participated in, my friends were experienced in that ritual style. They performed LBRPs regularly, and knew the ethereal software’s signature so well that they didn’t even notice its connections. They could probably connect to the software simply by focusing on its signature (without performing any ritual), and they probably reached out to the ethereal software they’d worked with so many times as they started the ritual.

In my experience, focusing on an ethereal software’s signature is most common way to contact it. That’s how I contact most of my ethereal software. But there is a second way: The rituals and symbols you use can connect you to the ethereal software for that style of magick. I’ll tell you about that next section.

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How to Start Magick if Energy Meditation Doesn’t Work

Friday, August 5th, 2011

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Lisa wrote me:

One of my misconceptions as a novice was to think I needed to be in a meditative state to do magick. I spent a lot of effort trying to find the right moment of serenity or calmness. That was great for my stress level, but did not produce any results.

I was trying so hard to clear my mind and get in the right calm, zen like state that I missed all the information the spirits were communicating.

Kol also asked about mental postures, and how to make sure you’re doing magick, not just imagining things.

I’d half-answered this before: Practice energy meditation, use breathing to bootstrap the energy.

But that wasn’t my answer. It was some guru’s answer I’d heard somewhere. I didn’t understand how it works (in particular, how you get energy moving if your mental muscles are hibernating). But repeating it let me feel like I had an answer, which let me stop exploring.

Never stop exploring.

Thanks to Kol and Lisa, I’m exploring how to start magick again, and I have something approaching a real answer now. Over the next year or so, I hope some readers will try it, send me feedback, and together we can crack this problem.

How Magick’s Mental Posture Feels

First, how to know if you’re in the right ballpark. The mental posture for magick feels focused. It’s the opposite of relaxing, empty-minded meditation.

In Initiation Into Hermetics, Franz Bardon says to focus on an image until you can see it as clearly with your eyes closed as when you’re looking at it. This is the right sort of feeling. (Though the exercise doesn’t necessarily get you to magick, just a focused mind).

If you solve problems by holding a lot of pieces in your mind — understanding a computer program, reasoning about chess moves, understanding the motives of your 5 business competitors — that’s the sort of focus I’m talking about.

It’s a focus where your mind is agile, moving, and engaged. That focus alone won’t result in magick. But you won’t get good magick without it*.

*Half-guessing here. No experiments to back it up. But it’s true in my experience.

From Images to Magick

Mental muscles are the parts of your mind that drive magick. Engaging them makes the difference between imagining vs magickal visualization, between theater vs magickal ritual. Later on, you’ll learn to power them and connect them to your brain. But for now, you just need to learn to tell them what you want.

Some people already have some mental muscles awake and paying attention at least some of the time. If that’s you, energy meditation should simply work. Just visualize energy (in whatever way makes sense to you), keep in your thoughts that “glowing mist = energy,” (or whatever your visualization is) and you’re good to go.

But in some people, their mental muscles are totally asleep. This is the group that I (and the other teachers advocating energy meditation) weren’t helping before. Which is a shame, because once you wake up your mental muscles, you can (I think) become just as good at magick as anyone else.

So here’s my answer for you now: LBRP, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. It’s one of the core rituals of Hermetic styles of magick (such as the Golden Dawn).

I know, it sounds like I just grabbed someone else’s answer again. And I kind of did. But this time, I have my own reasons behind it (and they’re not what most Hermeticists would say).

To activate your mental muscles, you’ll need outside help. If you know a mage who can activate mental muscles, they can do it. But you probably don’t. That means you want a “system,” which is my term for the forces that energy healers, psychics and mages channel to drive their magick.

When you do a ritual (and do it properly, in the traditional way), the system associated with that ritual style recognizes the ritual and connects to you. (The implementation of “recognizes the ritual” is complex, I’ll post on it another time). The system then communicates with your mind, finds out what you want, does what it can to make that happen, and also helps set your mind up to communicate with it more easily next time. Somewhere in all that, the system should awaken your hibernating mental muscles.

This doesn’t apply to just any ritual. It needs to be a standard ritual from an established style, or there won’t be a system listening for the ritual you did. You can’t just make something up*.

*That might sound strange from someone creating his own style of magick, but you need to understand how magick works before you can create it. If your goal is to get a particular system to connect to you, and you don’t know how to connect to it based on its signature (which you won’t if your mental muscles are hibernating), then you have to do the traditional rituals, because that’s what the system responds to.

So, if the energy meditation isn’t working for you, try LBRP (or any other good beginner ritual from a traditional style). Doing it for every day for a month should wake up your mental muscles. Then come back to energy meditation, and advance to consciously engaging your mental muscles.

How exactly do you do the LBRP? Sorry, I’m the wrong guy to write that guide. But hopefully other readers can help. (Update: See the comments below for a good link). If you do ritual magick, please leave a comment pointing us to good guides on this. Thanks!

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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.


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.

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