Thursday, April 29, 2010

If you are in Northeastern Pennsylvania (Pow-Pow)

I just learned of a year-long series of classes are going to be held in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Pow-Pow, German Folk-Magic this year. Ahh, I wish that I lived in northeastern Pennsylvania. I am very interested in this magical tradition, considering that it made its way across the ocean and set up in these shores relatively intact.

There is also the little fact that many of my ancestors set up shop in Pennsylvania after arriving on these shores. Not that any of them would have been involved in the Pow-Pow tradition. They were much more upstanding and faithful than I ever have been. Only the black sheep in my family dabble in magic.

And I have dabbled (bad Morgan) with hex signs and the magical use of the Psalms. For the record, hex signs are actually not about hexing; the term actually refers to the artwork produced, and not their purpose. I am not sure if hex signs will be covered or not, but there is plenty of other things to interest the serious working occultist in this class.

A partial list of the subjects being covered include:

* The Magical Use of the Psalms, New Testament, and Revelations in Talismans and Rituals
* The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses
* The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy
* Protections Cords: Their Construction and Use

Mark Stavish, who is the one who emailed me about this, did put forth the following caution: "Please note, this is a demanding class, traditional in form, structure, and methods, and requires considerable commitment from students wishing to participate."

How much commitment? Well, you are spending a Saturday or Sunday every month, from ten in the morning until four to six in the afternoon. I imagine that there is probably is going to be a boatload of homework to do also (I am just guessing on that last part).

Anyway, if you are interested in the Germanic Pennsylvanian Dutch magical tradition and live in northeastern Pennsylvania, consider emailing for more information on this series of classes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Knowledge and Conversation model of Adeptship

Just a few minutes ago, I replied to a status update (on Facebook) by Stephanie Connolly Reisner, who mentioned an ongoing talk that led to the question, "What is an Adept?"

And someone replied with the oldy, but goody, that an Adept was someone who had Knowledge and Conversation of their Higher Guardian Angel.

To which I replied:

"I have never been comfortable with the whole Knowledge and Conversation standard; who is to decide who has and has not [experienced this]? If it is just oneself, how do you keep your ego out of it? If others, how do you keep the egos of others out of it?"

My answer is firmly rooted in the fact that I am positive that I have seen egos all around whenever this standard is used. Plus the K&C model of Adeptship is not even officially Golden Dawn/RR et is actually something that came out of Thelema. While gauging Adeptship on magical results and knowledge may be elitist, and subject to the standards of the group that one finds themselves in, at least (in principle) the Thirteen Inch Rule is applied equally to all group members, and not just those who can stroke the ego of the leadership.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quote of the day: Mona Magick on Fake Occultists

(I love this statement.)

You may be able to cleverly recite forbidden chants, engrave symbols on your chest, and decorate the most elaborate altar, but it means nothing if the spirits you so summoned know the real deal and you're a fake.

---Mona Magick

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who really writes this blog

Ahhh...the truth comes out. Did you honestly think that our human could really be the great writer and occultist that he claims to be? No, he is not. It is his owners, the remarkable cats of Bast who are really writing this blog and all those articles. Ignore Morgan; play attention to Lucifer and Apollo instead.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Exoteric Lodge Order Membership and the Esoteric Lodges

Frater AIT over on his blog just mentioned that every Senior Adept that he personally knows is a Freemason. And he asks if he is missing anything by not being one himself. Well, it depends on what you are hoping to get out of Freemasonry. It also depends a lot on the culture of the particular esoteric Order that you belong to.

(For the purposes of this post, I am defining Exoteric Order as a group that is organized for purposes that are mundane: insurance, networking, social pleasure, etc.---daily "real world" concerns. I am defining Esoteric Orders as those organized for magical and mystical purposes---or "mumbo-jumbo and a lot of crap" as one Freemason called it [which just goes to show that not all Freemasons are going to welcome members of Golden Dawn or Wicca or OTO into their lodges].)

I know one Esoteric Order (a Golden Dawn Order in fact) where every single Adept Minor is a Master Mason. Why? Because it is in their bylaws. In that particular Order, you are required to be a Master Mason in order to become an Adept Minor. The reason is that the leaders of this Order believe that it shows a certain level of commitment to become a Master Mason. (Hmmm, I guess the lodges in their neighborhood are harder to get into than some of the local ones.)

This bylaw has an odd effect...there are no female Adept Minors in that Order. And there will never will be unless they change the rule. For some of us, this is viewed as a violation of the very landmarks of Golden Dawn which historically is open to both men and women, as well as RR et AC (the very Adept Minor oath states that one will consider both sexes equally for admission). For bloody sakes, Moina Mathers was an Adept Major (6=5), and Florence Farr was an Adept Minor (5=6) THAM---you can't tell me that they were Master Masons. This bylaw is one of the reasons that I will never join that Order.

I know another Esoteric Order where they consider Master Mason to be the equivalent of the Adept Minor Grade. I know of a member who conned his way into Master Mason (he had no intention of actually working Freemasonry after he got advanced), just so that he could jump over several Outer Order Grades and become a Hierophant. Not only did he abuse Freemasonry, he promptly left the esoteric Order he was in and started his own (promptly closing the loophole so no one else could do the same).

I myself have been a member of several Orders---outside of learning lodgekit and making some social contacts, I learned nothing of use to me for my Golden Dawn work.

So how did the idea that a Freemason degree is somehow as good (or perhaps better) as a Golden Dawn Grade arise? Simple, we can blame it on the fact that all three of the Founders of the Hermetic Golden Dawn (Isis-Urania #3) were members of the SRIA. In addition to that, the Sprengel letters state that there is an Order in Europe (though the letters also state that initiations are not done in lodge, so this part of the theory is on shaky ground). Those who hunt for Third Order typically look for another Order (the safest place for a Third Order member to hide from members of Golden Dawn is actually inside Golden Dawn itself).

The logic goes: If the Founders of the Order were Freemasons and SRIA, then there must have been a reason for it; therefore, we must give those members with Freemason backgrounds more authority.

Here is the counterargument: Membership in Freemasonry was just normal for the times. There is no esoteric significance in it---it is like having  health insurance today.

In the United States, over six million men out of 21 million were members of one Order or another in 1899. There were over three hundred fraternal Orders in the United States, and about 1000 different degrees. Each year 200,000 thousand more men joined. If one includes minorities and women, forty percent of the adult population belonged to at least one fraternal Order.

The sheer numbers alone undermine the argument that membership in another Order was what set the Founders of Golden Dawn apart from the general population.

My grandmother was a member of the Woodmen of America. The neighbors on both sides of the house I lived in while attending high school were members of exoteric Orders. At least one of my teachers was a member of an Order. You cannot tell me that exoteric membership prepares one for magical work. It is only in my generation that exoteric Order membership is rare.

The whole idea that membership in an exoteric Order, especially Freemasonry, really needs to be laid to rest. If you are going to join Freemasonry, do both Golden Dawn and Freemasonry a favor and do it because you actually want to work the Freemason degrees and not because you want to boost your status in Golden Dawn.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Practical magic's missing half

The other day, a friend of mine asked me if I had seen any results from a ritual that we did earlier in the year. I had to say No. I also had to explain why I haven't seen any results yet.

Quite simply I am missing the most important half of the working---actually getting off the sofa and doing some work.

In my defense, it has been a busy semester (everyone I talk to is having a "What is due tomorrow?" semester where you are turning in homework with the ink still wet, and you simply never catch up).

I knew that I was going to have to delay the practical side of the working until later in the year. It was a group ritual, and I aimed for increased money flow. In order to increase my money flow, with or without the use of magic, I know that I have to actually get some writing done before I could even hope for the spell to kick in.

Which brings up the question: Have you gotten up off the sofa since the last ritual that you did? If not, why not? Do you really expect magic like magic?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quote of the day: Kenaz Filan on Thurisaz

It is easy to cast some runes as benevolent spirits of light and love. Thurisaz is not one of those runes. The Thorn has the personality of a rabid pit bull with a toothache. It will gladly tear into anything you send it after, and if you aren't careful it will turn around and chew you up as well.

You can read the rest of Kenaz Filan's useful essay on Thurisaz over on his blog.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quote of the Day: Gould on Errorous Stories

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question.

---Stephen Jay Gould
This seems equally appliable to occult theories and esoteric history.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fees, dues and donations

In the little section of the blogosphere that I read, this week there has been a lot of rumbling about whether occult teachers, the wiccan clergy and craftspeople (including writers) should be paid. I have kept my head down...there is no way to please everyone, or anyone, involved in this particular issue.

Nevertheless, I think that perhaps I should toss out my personal opinion (or is it a business practice?); after all, I don't want anyone to be surprised by my attitude problem (someone is going to say that I have an attitude problem).

Here is my policy: Outside of lodge, my time is worth twenty-five dollars an hour.

It is a simple policy. The only free work I am obligated to do is for my fellow lodge members and that is only during the bimonthly lodge meetings (readings, teaching, spell-work, rituals, treatments, writing, etc.). Everyone else needs to be aware that my time and energy has a value, and that I can and have charged people for services rendered.

This has not always been my policy. This policy comes from coming home exhausted from doing freebies, and not having enough energy and time for my own personal work. This policy is to keep the leeches and freeloaders at bay. If you have money to spend at the mall, or for other things beyond the bare necessarities, then you have enough money to pay the expert to do their job.

You would not ask a plumber to do their work for free, including providing the materials to do the job. So why should I be treated any different?

Oh, my religion and lodge involvement (someone is sure to say). Honey, I do not belong to a branch of the religion that thinks that there is any virtue in being poor. I spent my entire childhood being poor, and I know first-hand that there is no virtue in being poor (there is also no virtue in being rich either based on my encounters with the wealthy, but given a choice...). Nor did I swore any oath that forbids me from taking money from anyone who is not a member of my own lodge (or any member who cannot be bothered to actually show up at the regularly scheduled meetings).

I spent a decade running a business. I know the value of my time and energy. And I am not going to change my mind about its value, no matter how much people think that I am wrong. Especially those people who believe that their time is more valuable than mine is.

Ye has been warned!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quote of the Day: Feynman on Philosophy and Science

Philosophers say a great deal about what is absolutely necessary for science, and it is always, so far as one can see, rather naive, and probably wrong.

--- Richard Feynman

Just swap out magic for science, and trolls for philosophers, and this statement is still true.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Internet postings are forever

Occasionally, I get requests (emails) asking me to delete old postings of mine. The latest was from someone concerned that the posts were going to be indexed by search engines, and that their employer and friends were going to discover their religion. Of course, they did not indicate what postings I mentioned them in, or the site or forum, or even what the postings were about. Given the fact that I have been involved on the internet for ten years now (I think), and average several posts and comments a week, that is a lot of posts that I would have to go though if I was even remotely inclined to delete things.

There was also the little fact that I did not recognize the name or email address of the person making the request. So without more information, I have no idea where (or how far back) to even start looking.

And this is assuming that I even have the authority to delete the postings that this person is concerned about in the first place. Often on forums, the only people who have the authority to delete anything are the list owners. So both I and this party would have to ask for the posts to be removed...and if they do not give them any more information than they did me...well, there is an new old saying "Things you say and do on the internet are forever."

This is something I think a lot of people forget. The things that you post on internet forums, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are forever. Between internet caches, system backups, saved emails and files, and the occasional hard-copy printout, your activity on the internet has the potential to be around much longer than you might think it does.

(This is one of the hidden reasons that we will never see the various Golden Dawn groups clean up their internet past. It is a lot of work for very little gain considering that someone could come along and create a new website and put it all back up online shortly after they do their cleanup.)

Before you start posting on the internet, especially if you are doing and saying things that might cost you a job or a relationship later, you need to decide what you are willing and unwilling to deal with. What are you willing to have be public knowledge for the rest of your life and beyond? Know your limits and stay in your limits...and don't change your mind (because it is really hard to change your mind later).

And don't plan on getting a lot of help from people like me who have busy lives either if you change your mind later. Between my college homework and being a freelance writer I do not have time for a fishing trip to locate an unknown post. Remember you are responsible for your own internet reputation: Don't post anything that you don't want your boss, lover or grandmother to read.