esothemes

Reflections, revelations and proposals esoteric: Themes to elucidate the depths of human potential.

Magic and the Powers of Yoga

I have written formerly about magic (magick), the ways and means of its expression for me, even going into the design of a personal system of it. In this presentation, I would like to elucidate in a different manner, and define magic as the worldly and otherworldy application of yogic accomplishment– that which in Sanskrit is known as siddhi. In addition, I would like to hone in on the cultivation of yogic accomplishment so as to focus on a single practice. In Sanskrit, the practice is called saṁyama.

It is described in the Yoga Aphorisms of Patañjali (a readily available text with a variety of online translations these days). This is a work best studied in the Sanskrit original.  Even if one is a scholar of the language, however, the terminology is that of yoga, and not of everyday experience. Unless one is actually practicing yoga and getting results, there is little or no conceptual reference frame to support coherent understanding. If the text was not precisely meant as an accompaniment to oral instruction, it was certainly meant as a reference for one’s one extended practice. This is a suggestion for caution, not an admonition against translations and/or theoretical study. Personally, I found many translations to be philosophically and religiously biased, while the aphorisms are instructions to practices that are to be evaluated and honed experience accumulates.

Saṁyama is greatly elaborated in the 3rd chapter of the aforementioned work entitled vibhūti (power). This is the distinctly experienced power resulting from mastery of the practices. In tradition, vibhūti is the ash with which the god śiva is said to cover his body. It represents transformed awareness and will, purified by the sacred fire down to its imperishable aspects. Divine power is the alleged outcome of this transformation of awareness. Saṁyama presupposes at least a degree of such a transformation to work. In yoga practice it arises from the fusion of the three culminating subdivisions of the eight-fold system into a single dynamic. The last limb is described in Sanskrit as samādhi, from sama (cognate of “equi”- meaning “equivalent to”) and ā+dhi (a prefix signifying proximity, and a ‘weaker’, more abstract form of the word for “holding”). The second term might technically come from a+dhi, where the holding of attention is negated. Thus samādhi would be a state equivalent with the complete release of attention. This second- albeit paradoxical- interpretation is not without merit.

It is noteworthy that the syllables dha and dhi are found in all three of the final limbs of the yoga of eight subdivisions or aspects. The stronger and more literal sense corresponds to the term signifying the ability to hold the attention or concentrate. This is dhāraṇā. The next aspect involves dhyāna (dhi-āna). It is more subtle than the conventional focusing of attention, and also easily considered to only differ from it by degree. Therefore, while dhāraṇā is a process familiar to the mind in everyday experience, dhyāna is a dynamic specific to esoteric practices that induces a characteristic altered state of consciousness with prolonged practice. The first syllable (dhi) describes a more subtle mind-flux than dha, while the next two syllables (ā+na) form a word meaning door, breath and mouth/face. It is our ambiguous metaphor that hints at a threshold through which the breath of life flows.

The aphorisms themselves clarify the distinction in verses III.1 and III.2. To focus awareness implies a contraction of one’s field of attention, regardless of where the contraction occurs. Meditation begins when the contraction increases until one’s focus is so singular and “tight” that pattern cannot register, nor fluctuation of consciousness. It is like looking closer and closer at a television screen until one is down to a single pixel. That is just the first step. It is followed by dilating our tiny window of attention while keeping it saturated with the one-point pixel and the unconditioned consciousness it represents. In other words, meditation involves a dilation of the unit of consciousness accessed through extreme concentration so that one is literally bathed in it and it becomes the nature of one’s world-perception. This is not, to my knowledge, how meditation is normally explained, but it is how I translated the relevant verse and experience the effect in practice. The Sanskrit word for meditation hints at this in that it can be literally translated as: “holding the door”. This door is also the opening through which breath (life force) flows; the mouth. It is, therefore, a placing of one’s sense of consciousness on the threshold of its own essence, where the proverbial serpent bites its tail, so to speak. If we were to explain this in stick figure terms, it is the state where all one’s awareness is the focus of being aware in the first place; where the eye stares into its own depths.

If dhyāna is a challenging term to unravel, then samādhi is even more so. As with every limb of the aforementioned yoga path the aphorisms elucidate, each aspect builds on the attainment of the previous. To get an idea of the eighth limb, we understand that it begins where the seventh is accomplished. As we mentioned earlier, the word denotes equivalence either with drawing attention to one’s self and/or releasing attention completely. Both options have merit, regardless of which one is considered etymologically correct. Noteworthy is that this state cannot be described with one word except in tersm of what it approximates.

Samādhi is traditionally considered a state of singularity-consciousness, where there are no distinctions, no fluctuations of awareness and nothing to identify. The Aphorisms (III.3) express this state as a stripping bare of one’s own nature- or rather any formative aspect of such. Meditation takes us to the threshold and once we master and can sustain it, the existential essence we have learned to dilate, can be fully embodied as one’s own true nature. This state ceases to be one of holding, even if the aspirant will have to consciously attain it again and again before it deepens enough to become effortless. The state is also akin to perpetual centering, albeit toward a center that is infinit in scope and not as a position in space. The eight limb is indeed the mystery of the whole progression of this system. Accomplished mastery in this yoga, and especially the last three subdivisions, is just the beginning of manifesting magical potential. For the attainment of saṁyama, in particular, we have one step to go: fusing the aforementioned yogic skills. That, along with a deeper exploration of the mystery of fusing the last three limbs, is a topic for the next installment.

 

 

 

 

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Antakarana I: Reality, Ego and the Bridging Organ

In these ponderings, squeezing the products of contemplation and esoteric experience into neat packages of a thousand or so words is not always viable. Many of these posts, therefore, represent parts of more extended and often multifaceted themes that concern the esoteric activities of yours truly. This particular post is the first of a group around the Sanskrit notion of antaḥkaraṇa, which is too esoterically significant and too easy to misunderstand to restrict its interpretation to a single semantic dimension. Thus the blog will return to this topic every so often, as it will take far more than one posting to exhaust it to my satisfaction.

The aforementioned term antaḥkaraṇa is fundamental in Yoga philosophy. It can be translated as “the maker in the middle” or “middle-man making/maker”, but is usually rendered as “the bridge/bridging organ”. Regardless of nomenclature, the dynamic of antaḥkaraṇa embodies the process through which consciousness constructs- or reconstructs and even deconstructs- reality. This “organ” has four expressions or processes according to (my interpretation of) Indian esoteric thought:

  1. Manas is the perception matrix. This is the reality modeling/structuring network. Manas is associated with mind, although technically mind encompasses the full spectrum of the organ.
  2. Citta is the substance or medium of awareness (mind-stuff). It is the field of awareness or mind-field, whose fluctuations represent the other three expressions of the organ.
  3. Buddhi involves the will/initiative and active vectoring property of the organ. It is its discerning and choosing capacity.
  4. Ahaṁkara is the focusing and localizing function that defines the sense of self as a “person” or ego. It is the “I-am-function” aspect; the mind’s handle on itself, a construct of the former, as a handle is a construct of a pot. It is also what some forms of spirituality claim we need to trash- or just realize it doesn’t exist in the first place.

Contrary to Neoplatonic and Hermetic philosophy that claims all is mind, in the metaphysics of yoga, mind is an organ. Even if tradition did not claim this, however, it is still my understanding and conclusions drawn from three decades of practice. As a sort of middle-man of our embodiment dynamic, antaḥkaraṇa is not an objective observable, which we can place outside ourselves and remain true to its nature. It is experienced in the first person, which in the west has been translated as “ego”, probably because the word means “me” in Greek. This is not the ego of Sigmund Freud, nor is it the ego that is characterized in terms of selfishness and deluded pride. It is the first person perspective that is fundamental for the other three dynamics of the organ to work smoothly.

Ahaṁ-kara as the “I-am-function” is a dynamic of our psychic physiology, similar to how a physical organ operates as a dynamic of the body as a whole. This organ may be physically associated with the brain and its working, but the brain is an objective observable, while the bridging organ is first person by definition. That is the realization that places the ego in its proverbial place in my view, not the idea that individuality is somehow an existential flaw or falsehood.

If that were so, we could argue that manas and buddhi are also illusions- and some do, whether they are the wizened corpses of tradition or of a modern or postmodern pretense. On the other hand, all form is a patterning of a fundamental medium, and like the shape of a fluid being arbitrary, everything that can be measured is devoid of fundamental autonomy in terms of what it appears to be. That might be taken as an illusion if we use a movie analogy, but the association is misleading. The grand physical events in an epic flick are simply a play of insubstantial light. The play of light, however, is real. An illusion is all in our heads, and nowhere else. A mirage, on the other hand is a play of temperature in the air masking as a fluid medium. Mirage, however, is not an accurate metaphor for the nature of manifestation either.

I view mind as a function of the organic embodiment of consciousness within and through the equally living medium understood as “power” according to the Tantra traditions of South Central Asia. These traditions view the existentially omnipresent poles of consciousness and power as lovers, and not as a single divine being (consciousness) playing with an inert medium or field. Reality is born of their union and cannot be without both. Power (śakti) is formless chaos without consciousness, and consciousness is an insubstantial corpse without power.

According to the view described above, all that is experienced as reality is the dance of power, while consciousness infuses it with luminous direction and subjective presence. That does not mean the medium that is power is inherently just a random field with no existential sense of its own. It forms a whole with consciousness, which without power has no reference frame, and is not even aware of its own existence. It is consciousness of transparent infinity/eternity, and may as well be nothing. The same applies to power. Without consciousness, it is unconscious, and falls inert without an inkling of reference.

Thus power and consciousness are described in terms of female and male respectively. All that is, is an embodiment of dynamics of both to one degree or another. Power’s inherent existential mode is desire, a magnetic draw upon consciousness qualified in accordance to what is to be birthed with it. Consciousness is thus what is drawn in for birth to take place, and is what marks which directions the vibration of power will go to establish what is to be born from it. The bridging organ is a creation of both consciousness and power, with power in this case being of a subtle dynamic, and consciousness more prominent.

In this installment, we have referred to one of the four expressions of the (human) bridging organ, which is its existentially centralized “I-am” mode. It is a function that serves the purpose of centralizing consciousness so the form of its embodiment can cultivate existential autonomy. When unbalanced it can also promote existential insulation and alienation from all it perceives outside of itself, including its very own potential. In order to understand the “ego”-function, however, the antaḥkaraṇa anatomy needs to be described in greater depth.

Ouroboros Part IV: Some of How and Why it Works

In this installment I explain more about this system, and as such will likely repeat myself more than I would like. I want to hone in on the workings of the system itself. I also use it as an example for some generalized descriptions of how and why logocentric esoteric applications are effective. To reiterate, logocentric esoteric applications (LEAps), are occult systems based on the power of the word, including semantics, building blocks and the impact of its symbolism. Sometimes one or more factors predominate, sometimes they work in tandem. The advantages of such systems are considerable. They require little or no ceremonial trappings, minimal ritual and the effects can be powerful and even immediate depending on one’s level of cultivation.

Logocentric systems have logic. But that logic may be coherent when awareness is focused and one’s brainwaves are different than what is expressed during one’s mundane activities. At the very least, it can make sense that focusing on a symbol and vocalizing it internally (whispering or even thinking it) can affect one’s mood and way of thinking. It can make sense that it is possible such changes can affect the course of events in some way. But that logic might not extend into understanding just how the mechanics of the process work. Sure we can spout theories, but they are not necessary for such a system to work for the user. To grasp the dynamics in an empowering way, we need to the mythic sense of our system.

Any logocentric system, such as mantra yoga, QBLH or hermetic occultism has a logical structure that makes it coherent, and tells a story of its own existence that is practically mythic. This may include actual mythic accounts of creation and how reality works, but that is secondary. I am speaking of mythic applications of mathematical logic, for example. Such are the occult application of “magic squares” or the divining powers of the binary hexagrams of the Yi Ching as well as the predictive and other occult powers of decimal numerology systems, not to mention sacred geometry. We have magical alphabets such as Hebrew, with its letters associated with elements, planets and constellations, and in the same system we have the mythic logic of letter combinations that lead to experiences in alternate planes of existence. We have the mythic logic of runes and Tantric seed syllables that represent the essence of deities themselves, when focused upon and expressed in a certain manner.

Mythic logic- more accurately, mythic sense– is not bullshit. It isn’t a theory of any sorts either. It just describes the process in a somewhat mundane manner; particularly when the power of myth is given credit beyond the confines of academically credited Jungian psychology. What we have is the human esoteric potential in the form of stories. Sometimes these stories are in the form of classical myths. They have protagonists and plots. Most often they are explanations of cosmological extent. Even the human microcosm is viewed in a cosmological sense, projected into the heavens or the heavens projected into it. The world tree of certain animistic esoteric paradigms (popularly known as shamanistic) is a mythic construct.

One can write endlessly on the meaning, potency and spectrum of possibility regarding the power of myth, and indeed much has been written, by scholar and layperson alike. To really grasp and then harness the power of myth, however, in the broader and more esoteric sense requires a flexibility of awareness uncommon in most of the human population. Acquiring such flexibility is not easy, nor is it guaranteed by going through the motions of this or that practice. In the end, some end up faking it, but never really making it. Those that do make it have not much means of proof to those who are conditioned to either the consensus reality window or their version of eclectic eccentricity.

I easily express this, but how can I know I am not a victim of it myself? Honesty with self is a razors edge in occultism. Each walk differently, and each can tolerate different levels of sharpness on the razor. Each has their own balancing act. Being too naïve or too strict, and we fall in a vat of our own pretense. Some might consider this depressing. But if you really want to increase stability on the razor’s edge, the challenge is best embraced and maybe even approached as a call to adventure. In the end, magic doesn’t harm you so much as you end up harming yourself, even if it’s all in self defense.

The power of myth is incredible; the power of symbol incredible; the power of human awareness, beyond belief.  To tap into these powers, to dance with them and play them artfully like an instrument, and to experience the wonders that come from that is why I am into logocentric occultism. I am not into elaborate ceremonial, but well aware that nothing- particularly where occult accomplishment is concerned- comes without something offered in exchange. Since I have been into academic accomplishment from a young age, I can appreciate the arduous training required to master such a process. We may well view the necessity for training that must go into successful logocentric application as its ‘downside’, especially since success is not always guaranteed no matter how well one practices. Disposition or innate talent is, in my view, also a factor. The need for systematic and at the same time creative training, is parallel to the commitment contemplative yoga and inner alchemy requires. Success may be a given for most to a point, but the advanced realizations are said to come to those with the innate disposition- the requisite karma, in other words.

Logocentric occultism does not work in a vacuum, but can be an aspect of more elaborate applications. It can be adapted to work with spirits, cosmological principles, the energies of the human microcosm and most any other occult expression, including the use of herbs, metals and stones. ‘Spells’ are standard in all magic, for example, and would be useless without the power of the word. Logocentric principles aside, the Ouroboros system is geared to the practice of esoteric alchemy. In other words its mythos revolves around human transformation potential; its core function being that of cultivation. That does not detract from Ouroboros being used to realize one’s will as magic. In this way it is similar to tantric practices where the aim is realization of the divine in a permanent fashion. Along the way, however, it is common- for those predisposed- to become good at applications of magic via the methodology.

The esoteric impact of the Ouroboros system is less direct. Learning the system both demands and stimulates the focus and quality of awareness required to make it work magically, and one cannot help but be affected by that. This is technically true for any magical system of merit, but some approaches emphasize using the intellect and mental will, rather than the deeper power of consciousness coupled with life-force. Methods can also value the method as if it were the source of success rather than the particular dynamic of spontaneous unscripted nuances that define the cultivation of power in the one using it.

One mythic pattern carries mundane principles into esoteric territory. It is reflected in the way the system weaves three symbol structures representing the three principles of literary syntax: the subject, the object and the verb. In this system the subject is represented by the tetragram elements, the object by the geomantic (geoadamic) sigils and the verb by the corresponding dragon-rune element. The subject and object are both expressions of number value, and the verb is represented by a letter mystery. The latter is what we verbally (internalized or not) express to actualize the potential of the tripartite phrase. It’s quite a simple structure in that respect, and combines the potency of adaptations of three symbol arrays of traditional origins.

One factor that makes any symbol system esoterically potent is its living essence. Many systems draw that essence from the culture of origin. Others are nourished from the impact of the mythic understandings surrounding and defining them, especially if they are part of some sort of occult lineage or tradition spanning generations. If I were of the view that any system requires generations to come alive, however, I would have gone the route of the purist. Instead, there is another way to bring a system to life, and it is not as simple as some forms of modern day marketed occultism tend to claim. Immediate methods work to charge a medium of application, such as a talisman, but charge tends to dissipate rather quickly- which is fine for what it’s meant to do. A system to come alive doesn’t just require its own set of cultivation practices, but also requirements that make it predisposed toward life. That is a topic for another time.

Ouroboros Part III: The Basics of System Structure

Ouroboros falls under a category of esoteric knowledge I would call Logocentric Alchemy. That’s not just a fancy name. It’s more or less using the power of Logos, which includes the occult power of speech and writing to engender positive transformation in one’s self. Success in utilizing the process includes applications of the system itself to engender transformations in one’s world. In that respect the Ouroboros system resembles Indian Tantra as well as applications of Hermetic wisdom and western magic, but also the various occult philosophical systems under the name Cabala (itself with a variety of spellings). At the same time the symbolic language used appropriates elements of Taoism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Geomancy and even Norse Rune elements. Symbols and meanings are weaved so the result is a seamless whole.

Ouroboros is an occult system that combines traditional elements, aligned according to inspiration gained via a host of ‘experiences’ of a purely subjective yet at the same time extraordinary nature. Proof is not the point, and in my view shouldn’t be the point. Occultism in my view should never be popular. It isn’t a sport, and it isn’t a craft or an art. It’s a specialized frame of being that requires a constitution compatible with it. Basic occult skill can be learned by anyone with rudimentary mental capacity. It doesn’t require substantial commitment or study.

The basics are about keeping yourself safe and healthy under most mundane conditions even by today’s standards; keeping one’s life path sustainable, or amenable to a degree of desired change that does not rock the boat for everyone else beyond a level that would attract attention. It is more about moderately good fortune rather than living with a silver spoon in one’s mouth. Folk magic and traditional religious practices served these needs in the past to an extent that the practices were only abandoned when practitioners were persecuted for whatever reason. In any case, one such as a herbalist, healer or all around local wise person and spirit summoner (shaman) would provide services for more critical or specialized needs.

Ouroboros is not a basic system. I don’t particularly consider it an advanced system either. Although I include the word alchemy to categorize it, the aim is not to come up with something as dramatic as a philosopher’s stone of immortality. The word alchemy is used in a more general sense of internalized transformations of the psyche- and subtle frame of embodiment or energy body- to acquire the constitution that facilitates using the power of word and symbol to affect one’s reality and the structure of events to the degree one is able. The system itself is designed so that one can increase effectiveness by working with it. It isn’t just practice, but the focus on applications that strengthen inner being and establish constitutional compatibility with magical application.

That being said, this is an occult system. It isn’t just a means of self hypnosis and fake it till you make it perception programming. The architecture has an esoteric cosmology based on the central position of the human microcosm in all human experience. It is meant to be worked in tandem with esoteric approaches of cultivation such as western devotional focus (prayer, fasting etc), yoga and Taoist internal work. These can be stripped down to bare essential practices and still be effective with this system- to be described elsewhere in this venue. There is no need for ceremonial tools or even consistency in ritual, if one is properly approaching cultivation practices.

Putting this together constitutes an exploration of horizons of meaning very much worth the effort for yours truly. Even though the system has yet to be tested properly in terms of its manifesting and cultivating potential, after several decades of construction and reconstruction, it is coming alive in a way that is very real for me. That means any contact I have with it involves the perception of its dynamic, through the quality of feedback I get from the interaction. To clear this rather vague assertion, let me get into a more direct description of what is involved.

Ouroboros is an array of sixteen tripartite symbol elements, meaning each element is a triad of symbols. Two of these represent number qualities and one represents letters- more specifically runes. The dual number representations are in a binary format. The first symbol structure pertains to stacks of horizontal lines, continuous and with a break in the middle. This is the same symbolism used in the hexagrams of the Chinese “Book of Changes” or Yi Ching, only the stacks involve four lines instead of six, and are called tetragrams.

The second number based symbol set of Ouroboros is based on Geomancy, or rather the forms used for that practice. We do not use divination here, but we do apply the sixteen glyphs, just as we sigilize them in a specific manner. As with the tetragrams the glyphs in mention depict sixteen binary representations of four vertically stacked elements. In this case the elements are dots. Single dots equate with the tetragram unbroken lines and double dots with the broken (yielding) lines.

The third symbol structure is that of sixteen rune glyphs, most of which parallel traditional runes found in the Germanic and Norse traditions. Some of the pronunciations are the same as their traditional counterparts, while most vary from convention. The rune interpretations approximate those for the traditional counterparts for most of them. These letters are a direct connection to the application potentials of the system because they can generate presence directly through their pronunciation, as well as their form and its deeper existential set of meanings.

The number representations are indicators of the identity of the tripartite elements as well as its desired expression in the human microcosm. The tetragram, therefore, tells us what the element is, and the geomantic sigil tells us what it does and how it is applied. To use an analogy, the door is the tetragram, its key-hole is the sigil, while the key to opening the door is the rune. With the analogy we can see how the process of putting the key into the lock to open the door is of particular interest. The tripartite form of each element is similar to other systems where the name of a power is separate from the command word to use it or the particular names that act as messengers or acting agents of the centralized power.

One advantage of the tripartite architecture is the additional dimension of interpretation it affords, while at the same time retaining relative simplicity in application. We have three layers of meaning, and hand one layer directly to bring about desired results. Each layer of meaning comes from a tradition of profound esoteric mystery, and is repurposed in this logocentric synthesis. Even as we work with the raw and basic dynamics of the system, feedback is not only undeniable but sensed as something alive. Ultimately, one can practically hear or sense and understand the voice of the system as it awakens to communicate and respond.

The system did not reach its current version in a day. It took several years before the sigils of Geomancy were applied to the original rune sequence, and over a decade before the tetragrams were added to the mix. It was over than a year ago when the tripartite elements had reached a point of balanced interrelationship. At that time all three elements began working together and I realized the role of each in terms of the whole. Anything is subject to change in this line of doing things. There is always a possibility of the whole thing collapsing, and it’s just as likely that the system will keep evolving without a hitch. Suffice it to say that there are still bugs to work out.

Many of these in the past have turned into opportunities of interpretation and application that appeared completely novel to me on the surface, and then made complete sense as I released biases against them, otherwise they often turned out to be both simple and made sense. As one works through the synthesis of occult architecture and method, it becomes clear how challenging it is to overcome habituated thinking and allow the system to speak for itself. As that happens, progress tends to get smoother barring the possibility of a serious snag that brings everything to a grinding halt. In the next installment in this series, we will examine Ouroboros alchemy and magic in greater detail.

Ouroboros Part II: Pointers for Effective Magic Practice

The aim of this series of posts is to work out some thoughts regarding a system I have been designing and working for the last decade and a half. It is not meant to be a point by point tutorial; just a series of observations and conclusions as my work progresses. This work, by the way, is also a stepping stone for an even more ambitious project involving the construction of a coherent cabalah- I find the term ‘logocentric alchemy’ more descriptive- based on the English alphabet, and its use in the formulation of power words and spells. I realize it’s been done before, but not quite the way I am approaching it, to my knowledge.

The pointers described here are only a few examples, and by no means allotted space to make the information instructive in any systematic way. On the other hand, the information on the posts in the Ouroboros series is cumulative and if one persists in following the thread, the topic may prove insightful. On occasion there may even be some posts that will offer point by point information. Mostly that would depend on the train of thought, since the posts are anything but products of meticulous planning. That would be work, and work should involve compensation.

As it stands, I am writing up manuals on all manner of esoteric themes for personal use. Until I feel comfortable with the organization of the material and the consistency of its application capacity, I’ll hold off the publications. The question of charging for occult knowledge is a valid one, as far as I’m concerned. I only frown upon it if it’s done irresponsibly. Although that simple assessment requires elaboration, I leave it as a topic for another time. For now, let us play with the idea of practice, with or without the design of a personal system, being made more effective.

Back when I used to frequent occult oriented forums there was one frequent poster who would exhibit a seemingly endless esoteric creativity when it came to fashioning rituals and cultivation practices, which would have made them a formidable master of the art had they been able to consistently actualize what filled their mental drawing board- or at least put some substance behind what applications they did manage to cultivate. Yet they always complained that their proverbial rival in occultism- an older brother- was always stronger, even though it was this older brother that taught the aforementioned occult enthusiast all they knew.

I have to admit, it was fun getting into discussions with the guy and coming up with practices that sounded as if they would blow whole buildings away, fit for the most elaborate fantasy worlds being a spread of popularized knowledge and the smattering of contrived esoteric common sense that seemed to fester upon it. I cannot help the extra helping of sarcasm even though I am quite sincere in expressing my enjoyment of those online written discussions.

The practices were not all that difficult. The hard part was doing them right. As it stood, he treated the designing of magical process as the be all and end all of the art, while his idea of practice did not appear to involve the quality of focus required, being more akin to vivid fantasy dressed in stubborn will than real application. I don’t remember even one of the many occult techniques we embellished, and attempting practice gave me a headache for most of them, and did nothing for the rest. There was simply no groundwork to back up the methods.

My point with this little anecdote is that there is more that goes into the design of occult process than making shit up. There is also more than mental light play. The person in mention practiced some form of martial art, and so was aware of sensing ‘energy’ and directing the sensation via his attention. Altered states induced by meditation where not strange to him, although I did not see enough emphasis to empower his esoteric imaginings. It’s easy to say you are doing things right, but results may just as easily say otherwise.

That being said, different esoteric approaches as well as different occultists emphasize different things. Some are more visionary, some rely on abstract symbolism, while others are more about internal alchemy and sensing/directing energy. Some focus on entities and some on thought-forms, while others on the possibilities of their own human and divine potentialities. Some are geared to enhance perception or work in the unseen realms and others prioritize changes in the ‘real world’. There are those who rely on tradition and others who appear to make things up as they go along.

I tend to embrace the latter approach so long as one’s creativity is founded on the reality of occult experience. While imagination is indispensable for occultism, there is more that goes into it. I’m not just pushing the old adage of hard work and study. Those are means to an end. The end is to attain a useful skill set, and a raw work ethic does not guarantee that. Quality of work is more important than quantity, in my view. The understanding of occult theory is a step in the right direction, in that sense. Many don’t value theory because it tends to get convoluted, but theory is there to make sense of concepts denied by our more commonly socialized reasoning processes. It affords an alternative perspective in such a way so we can work with it just as we work with the more objective conceptions of our day to day lives.

In my experience the simplest practices are often the most potent. One can put their whole being behind a simple practice, whereas a more complex practice can involve mental multitasking that makes it difficult to sustain necessary focus. One must be well endowed indeed- esoterically speaking- for complexity to reveal its power. Simple practices can also be mastered individually and then compiled into something more complex and elaborate as well as potentially stressful. I am of the view that occultism need not be dangerous per se when the practitioner is prepared and in shape.

I would say that systems originating in Eastern and Southern Asia are most effective when it comes to getting in shape. These would involve the practices of yoga and internal alchemy. The methods are not all that different than parallel practices in the Middle East, and those originating from archaic Egypt. It’s just that the available information regarding such practices is not as available and as well-organized, but that’s just my experience.

Whatever the case may be, the idea is to awaken the abilities of subtle perception, enhanced internalization and receptivity on multiple levels of awareness potential. Even if one considers themselves already too sensitive, responsible cultivation practices will help balance out that sensitivity as well as deepen it. Experience will expand one’s capacities for comprehension of information, not to mention awaken the ability to recognize the quality of thoughts, feelings and sensation in terms of parameters that the conditioned objectified mindset does not even recognize as such, and which most of one’s human relations would probably refuse to acknowledge.

As mentioned, I only present an outline with a few examples of suggestions to increase the probability of satisfactory success in occult application. As these posts evolve, and the information clarifies further, mental digestion us still necessary to personalizing the knowledge. Copycat magic works well enough when one is in the process of gaining the needed skill set and empowerment, as it were. Maturation, however, is a function of individualizing the practice to one’s own unique nature, and is as natural as muscle mass growing with successive trips to the gym, provided good sense is applied. Easier said than done, but not as hard as all that…

Ouroboros: The Design and Application of a Personal Magical System -Part I

I am creating more than one esoteric system. A similar one that is more ‘advanced’ I have put on hold until I can complete the precursor, which is simpler and yet still adequately potent. It is not quite a training system, nor is its compilation quite an exercise to prepare for the ‘real deal’; but the pattern of progression does reflect that kind of thing to some extent. I resist the idea of labelling the system as ‘precursor’ because a) I am not in the habit of doing half-assed ‘precursor’ work when it comes to esoteric cultivation and b) this project is too involved and too long term to be labelled in such a diminishing manner.

The work itself I call Ouroboros System. It includes three esoteric symbol arrays, modified to my needs. The first is based on the binary system of broken and unbroken lines used in the Chinese Book of Changes (Yi Ching), the second the symbols of the divination system known as Geomancy, with a modified interpretation, and the third an array of Norse Runes, also non-traditional. All three systems amount to sixteen elements each.

This project has been in progress in one form or another for close to fifteen years. I would work on it for a while, write my conclusions, test it and then put it on the back burner. For a time amounting to a year I only got rudimentary results working with the third sub-system, that of runes. Then I explored Geomancy, and that took some years of on and off tweaking. In the last year or so, I have been examining stacked forms similar to the bagua or trigrams of esoteric Taoism as an adjunct to the other two arrays of sixteen elements. These are tetragrams, having four horizontal lines each.

I realize forging an esoteric system or aspects thereof is nothing new, especially when the elements of the system are borrowed from other traditions. That does not mean all attempts at such a thing should be evaluated by the same standards, or exhibit similar degrees of success or failure. I would say that any occultist is challenged to add their signature to their work at the very least. Purism in the sense of performing rote formulae, memorized from dusty books, is not what I would define as a worth-while approach to esoteric application, at least not beyond a rudimentary training phase.

On the other hand, designing and empowering one’s own esoteric system or at least formulating one’s original take on an existing system is to me a natural part of applied cultivation. I would think that a number of grimoires are notes of such endeavors, and not just journals of activity or information handed down from others.

But enough of explaining myself; it’s a tiresome and useless habit of never ending distraction. I certainly wouldn’t want to read some fool’s boring justifications for doing this that and the other. I would want them to get to the juice and describe what they are doing, how they are doing it, and perhaps why in the bargain.

As stated, I am creating a system of sixteen triadic symbol sets. That is sixteen sets of three symbol categories each. The tetragrams and geomantic sigils represent the numbers of the hexadecadic array, while the runes represent its letters, each having their own syllabic pronunciation. I may be giving the impression that I woke up one fine day and decided to plan slapping a bunch of sigils into arbitrary groupings and call it some fancy name, like Ouroboros System. Quite the contrary, this project more or less chose me rather than the other way around.

It started by dropping a bunch of rune cards and picking them up, when I realized I was spacing out and putting the cards face down in the form of a lizard (or so it appeared to me at the time). When I snapped out of it, I saw the lizard had sixteen cards and that if I put them in the same order- not including the eight missing cards- they would form a rune row different than that of the Norse Viking Runes, but of the same number of runes. More importantly, the array made sense to me, and even appeared to call out to me to be put to good use. I was hooked.

So I worked with it, tried to understand its patterns, what it represented, what its ‘spirit’ was. It took a while to somewhat fire up, it even with the impact it made on me, as a magical device it was quite wanting. I realized something was missing. I was already spending years trying to understand the geomantic sigils, to charge them and make them work or at least get a sense of what their ‘spirit’ was. Analysis took a few years because I would focus, and then be open to some form of inspiration or the outcome of subconscious mental processing (depending on how one views such things), to integrate into my understanding.

If I got discouraged, I would most always end up ‘boosted’ into a renewed sense of motivation from some profound experience of understanding when meditating upon one or more patterns of sigils and runes. I understood the sigils to be as numbers, since they had no pronunciation attached to them, and the runes as letters, but something did not match. The sigils felt as if they were just hanging there. It felt natural to use the binary system since its hexadecimal application was so obvious. The expression of four-bit binary numbers that attracted me was that of the tetragrams. When I placed the symbols together it was as if a dialog opened between them: the tetragrams revealed themselves as the identity patterns of the array; the geomantic symbols as the patterns seeking manifestation, and the runes were the paths or means of manifesting the geomantic vibrations. Somehow the whole took on the mythic quality of the Ouroboros symbol of ancient alchemy and magic, even though the serpent, lizard or dragon form was prominent from the start in my awareness.

I emphasize the process because I did not seek to interpret things this way, at least not consciously. On the other hand, the system appears to be congealing to my own sense of esoteric need. It includes the aspiration toward alchemical actualization, in other words. It is not just a matter of material attainment, which is probably the go-to motive for most involved in occult exploration and application. To make it clear, I am not an idealist after mystical realization and only. I’ve been practicing eastern styles of mystical cultivation for decades. Instead I am seeking to cultivate a western dynamic of alchemical rectification that includes worldly empowerment, in the sense of the known verse: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem, whose capital letters make up the acronym V.I.T.R.I.O.L. One can easily search this, so for now I’ll refrain from elaborating.

Suffice it to say, the system being designed is taking on a life of its own and becoming a source of insight and even wisdom without even any real occult application on my part. The requirement at this stage can be boiled down to a single concept: Coherence. That’s what the system wants and needs in order to come alive, to first speak clearly and then act accordingly. At this stage it calls for nourishment, to be taken in the esoteric rather than the literal sense. No blood sacrifice going on here. Coherence is a concept I will attempt to elaborate in a future- hopefully the next- installment.

Pondering the Tao and Essence of Things

During esoteric ‘work’ (not to be confused with notions of mental and physical labor) I find myself confronting various philosophies and working the light of meditation within their conceptual labyrinths. These threads of esoteric conception are more like islands in the nebulous ocean of conception-free ‘understanding’ in which one who dives within may find themselves after much practice. I reference the islands or threads, if you will, so I may extend the formulating mind into a medium of existential clarity beyond structures of codifying intellect.

This has several advantages, such as bridging the mind to meditative states- so long as one does not confuse the conceptual finger with the direction in which it points. Another advantage is that one can organize philosophical coherence to help structure applications of esoteric representations. In common jargon, one can practice occultism without proverbial risks (a topic for another day). The following diatribe is one such example of deliberation, prompted spontaneously, but also for reasons I have implied above. It is not a work of scholarly study. It is a work of interpreting understandings within the state of esoteric immersion using conceptual building blocks offered by a profound and ancient esoteric perspective.

This writing is an examination of conceptions of Taoist existential cosmology. To begin let us clarify the fundamental concepts of yin and yang. Let’s focus on the original semantic definitions. The analogy used is a mountain in relation to the Sun. The Sun is not yang. The sunny side of the mountain is yang. The shady side of the mountain is yin. Therefore, the mountain is the object of examination, and the Tao is the “Way” of the cyclic change. In that Way, the shady side becomes bright and the bright side shady. The process is the motion of the Sun’s light upon the mountain during the course of a day, but our experience is that of the transformation of the mountain. The essence of the mountain remains the same, but its circumstances change. There are implications with lack of sunlight and implications with its presence. It is the same mountain, the same world, but in one case a fertilizing factor is added. We can see in this cycle that the conditions of the shady side are the default ones, the ones that define the mountain on its own merit.

Yang and yin are both the mountain, the latter unfertilized and in its natural state, and the former fertilized and impregnated with light. It is important to avoid conceptual pitfalls here. Because yin appears to be a needy state and yang a satiated state, we might assume yang is good and yin bad in terms of our usual reactions to those labels: to grasp the good and fight the bad. To clarify, I conceptualize yin as a state of desire, a state receptive and yielding, but also magnetizing that which it receives.

It is desire that drives the cycle. The spirit pole is drawn in, the desire or will pole draws it in. The presence of spirit, of consciousness; that which patterns identity, is immobile as a corpse when existing in isolation. It is powerless because power is desire. It is static because it is homogenous. As such it is no-thing. Yet without it, nothing can be, since it provides patterns with identity-reference and sense of self, making coherence possible.

The forces of yang and yin, on the other hand, are dynamics of the receptive matrix in its default state of desire and its impregnated state of fulfillment. Those terms are inaccurate, however, because fulfillment does not imply the end of a journey or the culmination of all motive in blissful satisfaction. The nature of manifestation is the cycling of Taiji (‘Omnipolar’ existential dynamic), as opposed to Wuji (‘Apolar’ existential dynamic).

The term ‘polar dynamic’ in this context involves interactive structures, whereas the lack of any interaction, or any structure for that matter, is described as apolar. All is dormant, nothing is going on etc. This is rather a purely non-referential state, similar in that respect to spirit and desire, when both are isolated from each other. Spirit naturally requires desire to trigger its movement, and the will requires presence of spirit to trigger the desire that triggers vibration that embraces spirit to move. It moves in three ways, the second being the most natural and ‘pure’: a) It embodies an established pattern; b) It is drawn by desire and c) It rides its own desire, or the desire extending from inherent bonding with desire, like the tip of a tongue extending from closed lips.

In the context of existential energetics, the Wuji is the ‘ground state’ and Taiji the expressive outcome of growth from existential potential to existential kinesis or being/becoming. The pole of potential is apolar and the pole of kinesis is omnipolar. It should be obvious that the word ‘pole’ is used in a very loose sense to convey the referencing from the a-polar to the polar state. Otherwise, it erroneously makes the un-structured and un-patterned appear to be part of a structure. In practice both spirit and power (will/desire) have their inherent states of non-polar potential, and their interactive polar dynamic states. The latter refer to the Taiji or kinetic omnipole of existence. This is what beings of manifestation experience for the most part.

There is a belief that existence involves mechanical cycles of creation destruction or the monotonous oscillation from omnipolar to apolar states. It’s as if existence is exhaled ‘outside’ the apolar state, which then feeds on it or just draws it in to destroy it, and bring its evolved complexity down to its entropic ground state. The idea to me appears contradictory, since breath implies kinesis and potential is the ultimate non-kinetic state. Nourishment, furthermore, implies metabolism (or its metaphysical equivalent), or some dynamic of existential kinesis to say the least even if we pull the “it’s only a metaphor” card. Even metaphors require some consistency or some form of explanation of inconsistency. They are false if they cannot represent what is allegedly beyond direct intellectual rendering.

If we observe the allegorical structure of two poles, one of which is apolar and the other omnipolar, we are encouraged to also posit a center or core dynamic that defines the allegorical references as poles in the first place. This is the state of equilibrium between existential kinesis and existential potential. Tipping toward kinesis leads to a headlong rush into an entropic ground state (death in other words). Tipping toward potential leads to denial of kinetic freedom, which is confinement and suffering. Desire itself regulates this dynamic balance but only if and when spirit is fully accessible to it for both bonding and un-bonding.

Un-bonding in an unbalanced state of limited existential resourcefulness is a process of suffering leading to death. In a balanced and resourceful state it is a process of transformation and renewal, because we experience a release to make space for a deeper of my coherent to one’s existential integrity fulfillment. The dynamic of Tao is that of ultimate balance and resourcefulness. It is the core state wherein that apolar dynamic is accessed and the omnipolar dynamic is free and naturally unconditional.

The core state is itself a state that resembles yang and has been confused with spirit. But its natural archetypal association is that of divine heart. It is both omnipolar and apolar in nature. Rather than being an impregnation of the will (feminine) aspect by spirit as the yang pole of the Taiji, it is an equilateral and intrinsic fusion state, its own basis. Rather than the light falling upon the mountain, nourishing it, it glows from within every atom of the mountain itself, at one with the mountain’s natural essence, metaphorically speaking.

This core is the existential condition where the apolar ground state and the omnipolar spiral of becoming are co-existent (even as their being apart in the first place is also a convenient conception rather than a literal truth). This inherent unity liberates existence to choose from all possibility to create its own matrix of probability upon which to build further aspiration. It sounds cliché, but the essence of it is love. [to be continued, maybe].

The Magical Paradigm of Choice

After all these twenty years of unstructured magic study and practice- not including an additional decade and a half of other esoteric explorations- I am not quite ready with the form of magic I find is my “thing”, as it were. It appears, on the other hand, that what inner guidance I do have insists I be more systematic about things. Not for the first time, that insistence involves revisiting square one, as it were.

I notice- with some exceptions- practitioners of esoteric process (mystical, psychic, magic and of all occult varieties) abide by the notion of either/or categorization of preference. There is, for example the alleged view of magic that insists that all paradigms are tools and can be altered at will. Another notion claims that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Instead, study the “tried and true” methods and once you master those, maybe you can perhaps build on something.

We can view such categorizations in terms of intimate relationships. You have, for instance, the occult polygamists, and the polyamorists. The former sport a harem of mates through which they cycle according to need. The latter play the field and hook up with whatever is most convenient at the time. I am not quite an occult monogamist, and certainly not a purist in even a loose sense. Even so, the varieties of my approach tend to fall under the same umbrella of interconnected meaning, as it were. Innovation, furthermore, has nothing to do with anything being broken and improvement does not imply reinventing the wheel or anything else for that matter.

My understanding of the magical paradigm of choice is that it is the mythology of one’s sense of existential meaning. That kind of thing is anchored to ones very soul, although it is not immune to alteration, transformation and/or the forces of evolution. The design and practice of magic, and the comprehension and expression of mysticism and they are who I am, and perhaps what I am. As such, my understanding is rooted in my adherence to the notion of integration, integrity and liberation based on value fulfillment and existential coherence. This is expressed in and through self, the structuring of our environment and the interaction with such as the dynamics of all our relations.

In my years of study and application, growth and seeming reversal in magic, I have come across a wide variety of paradigms. These were practically like living beings themselves; sometimes an extension of the one holding them, and sometimes as if they were of a different origin and in possession of the holder. As in all interactions, I related to these over a broad spectrum. Once upon a time I was more aggressive in response to the paradigms found not only distasteful but downright dangerous in their unhealthy promotions.

I am in the process of consolidating my knowledge into a systemic application. That means streamlining it, and condensing what works so that I may fertilize it with the necessary attention to detail and committed practice. My process is ongoing and extended because it isn’t systematic so much as guided by punctuated inspiration, as well as need. That is on the one hand. On the other hand, I have requirements corresponding to my sense of existential meaning that cause me to take the harder road in many respects. Yet that road, to me at least, is the more meaningful one as well as healthier overall.

I do not ascribe to cynical reasoning, such as the world is random, it’s all meaningless, humans are a blight on creation etc. I do not ascribe to antagonistic dualism, although I believe creation works via polarity. I am not into absolute monism either, and do not consider manifestation “dirty” or the material plane less meaningful than the proverbial expanses of life force and spirit. I won’t treat the body as a beast of burden, just as I cannot see the layers of manifest becoming as shells to cover and adorn some idealized and idolized god center. Manifestation is an organic outgrowth of essence, and essence is the distillation of manifestations variety and meaningful potential.

In a similar vein, good and evil are contrived notions to me. Yet to say everything is relative and that one view is as good as another, is- aside from the occasional convenience of stroking ruffled feathers- just as short-sighted. Then we have this misunderstanding of the phrase “the truth shall set you free”. A disturbing “fact” that demolishes hope and the faith in human potential is swallowed against all instinct because it is “true” whether we like it or not.

That makes sense on the surface, and yet how come the only ones served by this are those who get off on others losing hope and faith and becoming compromised cynics like them? To me we often base truth on the evaluations of what we call “reason”, while rarely considering that our sense of reason can be based on assumptions, most of which have been mated to us. Incessant repetition and a liberal dose of the carrot and the stick have been the matchmakers of our mental bed chambers more often than we would like. Many react defensively, even violently, at the idea of reason so tainted. How could then consider then to put it on the back burner of cognition and reality evaluation- at least where deeper nuances of existential meaning are concerned?

Because it can be conditioned, and because founding assumptions can vary, reason is indeed relative. What is good for the goose is unreasonable for the gander, in other words, and your word is as good as mine. Yet if we seek to clean ourselves up, and dare to trust that our wishful thinking may in fact be the sense of what is healthy for us- however warped along the way- we may cultivate a sense of discernment that is both health and founded on solid existential ground. As such, I do not deny the that our deep sense of existential meaning is the touchstone of the truth that sets us free. Being in tune with that sense of meaning is my version of self-knowledge. It which includes all those dispositions assuming identity without truth, while they urge a divorcing from it.

I am not bound by that meaning, however, and even though my sense of purpose may give me a hard time, I do not consider myself bound by that either. It is simply the way of integrity for me, and integrity is the way of meaningful health and purposeful and evolving wellbeing. It is a well-being that I feel is meaningful when it vibrates the world and into the world as it can. Integrity isn’t about following rules of conduct for me. It is about being coherent and real to yourself, which is my way of saying:  “free of deep-layer conflict”. That is what I would call a strong and committed relationship with one’s being, and that is the premise of my magical paradigm.

Summing Up My Magical Menagerie

I have been going through a minor “crisis”. I place the word in quotation marks and refrain from capitalizing it because it isn’t even an apt description of what was going on. Namely, I was wondering what I should be doing with this blog, if anything. The question was one of structure vs. lack thereof; of planning vs. off-the-cuff ranting and of purpose vs. play.

Even as I was writing down the above conceptual pairs, however, I realized they too were not accurate, and that I was not experiencing a conflict between polarized concepts, but a challenge of embracing their working synthesis. The latter isn’t as simple or easy as mixing and matching or even squishing ingredients together. The conditions and of synthesis carry a lot of weight even when the scenario is one of abstract conception.

I have been writing about the various aspects and facets of my magical menagerie- at least have begun something akin to that process. The long and short of it is that it just isn’t what I want to do here. That’s fine, since the blog itself is something of an experiment in expressing these arcane interests of mine. It’s not as easy as just saying what I know. Many speak of the same things, but with different context and there is some debate regarding what this or that esoteric ideal implies and how useful it is for this that or the other.

So once again I take several steps back, add a few deep breaths and take it from the top, as it were. Assumptions can be more thoroughly discarded for one, especially the limiting ones. Worrying about getting the expression right can also be- more thoroughly- discarded. At the same time, I want to express clearly what does not come easy to translate from experience in combination with the prominent conceptual conventions about it.

For starters, instead of going on about the particular “exhibits” of my proverbial magical menagerie, it might be more economical and useful, as well as more interesting for yours truly to some it all up. In other words, let me address the query of WTF am I doing with occultism. Not so much, why am I doing it, but what I am doing. Specifically, I want to detail the options and elements of arcane application that I am bringing together while filtering, interpreting and redesigning the input. I intend, moreover, to elaborate regarding my motivation for the apparent rearranging of the deck chairs of existing esoteric approaches to come to my own conception.

Given what I expressed above, I have already summed up my magical menagerie as one that I reluctantly would label as revisionist esoteric exposition. Even with the shady reputation of all things “revisionist”, my work involves dynamics of great esoteric potential and meeting the various challenges of the times in which we find ourselves. To put it more plainly, I am forging my own system of magic via the revising of various traditional themes of arcane wisdom.

I am motivated to elaborate because misunderstanding is all too easy when encountering such claims. Those of a more traditionally inclined disposition are suspicious of any sort of revision or adaptation. On the other hand, diversified occultists might not realize how much goes into redesigning the systemics of one’s occult practice because the trend is modern and notorious for being mired in mass marketed pop culture subject matter, in the view of yours truly.

To reiterate, I am engaged in a process of redesigning some traditional elements of occultism and adapting them toward application in the world today. The process has been ongoing for the last fifteen years, whereas I have been exploring western occultism for a decade before that, in addition to eastern (Asian) metaphysics, as well as astrology, tarot, psychic phenomena and trance states for fifteen years before that.

I am currently engaged in a process of formalizing, testing and reformulating esoteric subjects of interest to condense the working principles into a map that can successfully navigate selected territories of esoteric application in a manner meaningful to the one undertaking the journey.

There are those who would reject the idea of revising or adapting perfectly functional systems of esoteric knowledge into a more modern context. Granted, many claims to the effect can be accurately deemed wanting. That does not mean the need is a fabrication.

A simple example would be that of western occult systems using astrological symbolism. Using astronomical data for esoteric applications is a tried and true practice- at least for those of an occult disposition. The planets, for example, are truly potent symbols of deeper truths when interpreted and conceptually concentrated (as archetypes) toward that purpose. The traditional Western astrological bodies known as planets include the sun, the moon and five astronomical planets of this solar system, all visible to the naked eye.

Today the face of the solar system has expanded, meaning the arcane possibilities would be best brought to useful fruition by reflecting the solar system more accurately. And yet, the old system of seven planetary principles has been a powerful map of occult possibility, coinciding with the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, the seven days of the week as well as other iterations of that sacred number.

Existing revisions have added planets updating at least to the mid to late twentieth century. However, the astronomical face of the solar system has since undergone changes at a pace that far outstrips any occultist capacity to reliably formalize things in addition to thoroughly testing the proposed “upgrade”. Suffice it to say that simply slapping on more variables and shaving off the rough edges might only replace the tried and true (limitations notwithstanding) with a rickety construct held together with snappy jargon and a lot of wishful thinking.

My magical menagerie is, therefore, a collection of esoteric themes and potentials adapted to sustain interlocking parts, or at least mutually supportive and complementary elements. Designing and testing in this manner has been and continues to be an experience beyond measurable value to me. It has shown what works and what doesn’t work as well as what might work if one only invests more than most would be willing to give in terms of time, energy and commitment. Life, after all, is too short to waste on futility.

It is also true, however, that just because two stones slapped together can crack a spark doesn’t guarantee one can light a fire. A certain amount of skill and the correct conditions are needed as well, a combination of nature and nurture in the proper proportions. Even so, anyone clever enough can claim success in occult matters regardless of where the truth lies. Placebo effects and the trickster nature of human consciousness are easy to manipulate even when the perpetrator and victim are one and the same person.

My current minor “crisis” has only been one of many, and quite mild compared to some prior versions. One can say that the elements of the menagerie in mention have been progressively integrating, from “crisis” to “crisis”, just as they have been mutating purposefully for that purpose. I intend to describe some of the process of my evolving understanding, to focus on something that is closer to home for me than the more speculative expressions that have dominated my writings here so far. I might even start teaching the “system” at some point. That, certainly, is a topic for another day.

I have been going through a minor “crisis”. I place the word in quotation marks and refrain from capitalizing it because it isn’t even an apt description of what was going on. Namely, I was wondering what I should be doing with this blog, if anything. The question was one of structure vs. lack thereof; of planning vs. off-the-cuff ranting and of purpose vs. play.

Even as I was writing down the above conceptual pairs, however, I realized they too were not accurate, and that I was not experiencing a conflict between polarized concepts, but a challenge of embracing their working synthesis. The latter isn’t as simple or easy as mixing and matching or even squishing ingredients together. The conditions and of synthesis carry a lot of weight even when the scenario is one of abstract conception.

I have been writing about the various aspects and facets of my magical menagerie- at least have begun something akin to that process. The long and short of it, however, is that it just isn’t what I want to do here. That’s fine, since the blog itself is something of an experiment in expressing these arcane interests of mine. It’s not as easy as just saying what I know. Many speak of the same things, but with different context and there is some debate regarding what this or that esoteric ideal implies and how useful it is for this that or the other.

So once again I take several steps back, add a few deep breaths and take it from the top, as it were. Assumptions can be more thoroughly discarded for one, especially the limiting ones. Worrying about getting the expression right can also be- more thoroughly- discarded. At the same time, I want to express clearly what does not come easy to translate from experience in combination with the prominent conceptual conventions about it.

For starters, instead of going on about the particular “exhibits” of my proverbial magical menagerie, it might be more economical and useful, as well as more interesting for yours truly to some it all up. In other words, let me address the query of WTF am I doing with occultism. Not so much, why am I doing it, but what I am doing. Specifically, I want to detail the options and elements of arcane application that I am bringing together while filtering, interpreting and redesigning the input. I intend, moreover, to elaborate regarding my motivation for the apparent rearranging of the deck chairs of existing esoteric approaches to come to my own conception.

Given what I expressed above, I have already summed up my magical menagerie as one that I reluctantly would label as revisionist esoteric exposition. Even with the shady reputation of all things “revisionist”, my work involves dynamics of great esoteric potential and meeting the various challenges of the times in which we find ourselves. To put it more plainly, I am forging my own system of magic via the revising of various traditional themes of arcane wisdom.

I am motivated to elaborate because misunderstanding is all too easy when encountering such claims. Those of a more traditionally inclined disposition are suspicious of any sort of revision or adaptation. On the other hand, diversified occultists might not realize how much goes into redesigning the systemics of one’s occult practice because the trend is modern and notorious for being mired in mass marketed pop culture subject matter, in the view of yours truly.

To reiterate, I am engaged in a process of redesigning some traditional elements of occultism and adapting them toward application in the world today. The process has been ongoing for the last fifteen years, whereas I have been exploring western occultism for a decade before that, in addition to eastern (Asian) metaphysics, as well as astrology, tarot, psychic phenomena and trance states for fifteen years before that.

I am currently engaged in a process of formalizing, testing and reformulating esoteric subjects of interest to condense the working principles into a map that can successfully navigate selected territories of esoteric application in a manner meaningful to the one undertaking the journey.

There are those who would reject the idea of revising or adapting perfectly functional systems of esoteric knowledge into a more modern context. Granted, many claims to the effect can be accurately deemed wanting. That does not mean the need is a fabrication.

A simple example would be that of western occult systems using astrological symbolism. Using astronomical data for esoteric applications is a tried and true practice- at least for those of an occult disposition. The planets, for example, are truly potent symbols of deeper truths when interpreted and conceptually concentrated (as archetypes) toward that purpose. The traditional Western astrological bodies known as planets include the sun, the moon and five astronomical planets of this solar system, all visible to the naked eye.

Today the face of the solar system has expanded, meaning the arcane possibilities would be best brought to useful fruition by reflecting the solar system more accurately. And yet, the old system of seven planetary principles has been a powerful map of occult possibility, coinciding with the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, the seven days of the week as well as other iterations of that sacred number.

Existing revisions have added planets updating at least to the mid to late twentieth century. However, the astronomical face of the solar system has since undergone changes at a pace that far outstrips any occultist capacity to reliably formalize things in addition to thoroughly testing the proposed “upgrade”. Suffice it to say that simply slapping on more variables and shaving off the rough edges might only replace the tried and true (limitations notwithstanding) with a rickety construct held together with snappy jargon and a lot of wishful thinking.

My magical menagerie is, therefore, a collection of esoteric themes and potentials adapted to sustain interlocking parts, or at least mutually supportive and complementary elements. Designing and testing in this manner has been and continues to be an experience beyond measurable value to me. It has shown what works and what doesn’t work as well as what might work if one only invests more than most would be willing to give in terms of time, energy and commitment. Life, after all, is too short to waste on futility.

It is also true, however, that just because two stones slapped together can crack a spark doesn’t guarantee one can light a fire. A certain amount of skill and the correct conditions are needed as well, a combination of nature and nurture in the proper proportions. Even so, anyone clever enough can claim success in occult matters regardless of where the truth lies. Placebo effects and the trickster nature of human consciousness are easy to manipulate even when the perpetrator and victim are one and the same person.

My current minor “crisis” has only been one of many, and quite mild compared to some prior versions. One can say that the elements of the menagerie in mention have been progressively integrating, from “crisis” to “crisis”, just as they have been mutating purposefully for that purpose. I intend to describe some of the process of my evolving understanding, to focus on something that is closer to home for me than the more speculative expressions that have dominated my writings here so far. I might even start teaching the “system” at some point. That, certainly, is a topic for another day.

Myth, Metaphor and Magic: The Mystery

I have heard the assertion that Myth is Metaphor, and there is no shortage of commentary on the topic. It’s obvious to most how entwined folklore and magic are entwined. Even in our day the word “fantasy” as a literary genre is part and parcel with the concept of “magic”. The trend when dealing with that relationship, however, is to use the definition of myth as some sort of fictional account without referring to the importance of metaphor therein (the backbone of mythic structure and purpose in my view).

At the same time myth, metaphor and magic are very different concepts. The loose definition intended in this writing describes myth as a fictional account which embodies entities and phenomena transcending mundane experience. Metaphor is a literary device that takes a word or phrase out of its originally intended context to allude to similarities with the object it is directed to represent. Metaphor tells us that a word is very might like something beyond its literal context without using prepositions of comparison (“like”, “as” etc.).

Magic, on the other hand, is more difficult to pin down. It suffices to use a simple definition such as the following approximation of A. Crowley’s: Magic is the process by which change is manifested at any existential level in conformity with will, through an altered state of consciousness in the one causing it.

To sum up, myth is a story, metaphor is an indirect simile, and magic is making shit happen by will and non-ordinary awareness. Distinct as they are, we can observe each concept contains at least one of the other two. Metaphor is used in myth because myths often describe “supernatural” phenomena, while pointing at something deeper and more complex in nature. Magic is the expression of supernatural phenomena based precisely on the deep and complex concepts to which the metaphors of myth allude.

Metaphors address ideas, slippery in the face of logic and common sense, and give them a familiar and tangible context. We are aware that the description they offer is not “literal”, or point by point accurate. The strokes are broad and the outlines basic. We are aware that mystery is at work as a source of conceptual power that can affect us profoundly whether we can pin it down or not. Metaphor allows us to track it, follow its fluid dance of meaning and discerning some identifiable patterns therein.

Myth can therefore be taken as a weaving of metaphor to describe a mystery in an easy and pleasant to absorb manner. The depth of meaning implied by the mystery embedded in metaphor, however, remains concealed even in the most elaborate mythic tale. If one is to master the esoteric application inherent in myth, one must transcend the obvious and not just embrace, but embody the mystery to translate it into a process of activating the possibilities of magic regarding its impending revelation.

The distillation of effective esoteric practice, be it for purposes corporeal or existentially abstract, is itself tied to a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and hence not readily available to be spelled out in a comprehensive manner. Those who are interested in magical practice, and those who crave corporeal rewards for their efforts, can however be impatient with the details of unfolding esoteric patterning. They can insist on adhering to a point by point recipe for a swift harvest of results. I can’t fault a newbie for this attitude. It was, after all, my own stance for years.

That changed for the simple reason of live and learn. Namely, it is not the most constructive approach. The bottom line is not the point by point process of arcane operation. It isn’t the myth or the web of metaphors that comprise its often-entertaining structure either. It is the mystery embedded within it all. That mystery is nothing less than the power of the deep and abiding dynamic of existence in all its manifestations, as well as the underlying essence at the core of each.

Where the mystery is concerned, however, approaches can be simplified (even when they look complicated). Simplification, as I express it here, is just another description for diving into the most available relationship with said mystery. The relationship can come from the direction of theoretical emphasis or insistence on pragmatic deliberation, depending on a number factors beyond the scope of this discussion.

To get meaningful outcomes, however, both theoretical digestion and real-world action are indispensable. Education, or absorbing intellectual knowledge, is often preferred even when the more challenging path of balancing theory and practice is appreciated and open to the aspirant. Repeated application of occult methods, lead the aspirant into awareness of patterns linking cause to effect. By, furthermore, referencing sources of both theory and the practices of others, they can be inspired to explain those patterns, and hence apply them beyond their original context. Mystery itself, for all its empowering of our resourcefulness, is beyond intellect to comprehend on its own steam.

Mystery is, therefore, beyond the mappings of theory- even as it includes them- and beyond the strategic and tactical meanderings of practice, including them as well. Frustrating as this may be, the defining myth, metaphor and magic can help make sense of the challenge of relating to this thing called “mystery”. Remember that the definition of magic involves extra-ordinary states of awareness. These states of awareness are the fulcrum of practice as well as theory. Mystery is mystery because conventional awareness is not equipped to forge identity with it. Indeed, it is identity with the mystery that powers magic, not rote practice or memorizing its metaphors.

Suffice it to say that mundane existence is as much the mystery as anything out of the ordinary or beyond conventional comprehension. It is, therefore, in how we relate to the proverbial ordinary world that matters. That is why the consistent cultivation of non-ordinary states of awareness is a primary ingredient in stimulating awareness and access to the mystery in all our relations. This is not to be confused with the extremes of “arm-chair” or “rules and tools” occultism. Legends speak of those who could make shit happen without elaborate ritual or much theoretical fanfare. Such individuals were more likely to have mastered non-ordinary states. I am not denying ritual or even ceremony, and intellectual understanding is still a great boon to practice. But the latter becomes comparatively potent when done within the domain of esoterically cultivated awareness.

I have heard it said that magic is supposed to make life easier. I would say its power to make life more meaningful is more important. If magic is just a means to an end, then one misses out, because the mystery at its foundation will be replaced by second hand maps. They may navigate rudimentary territories, but in the end practitioners will probably be disappointed when the free ride doesn’t come.

The depth of the mystery out of which all magic springs and which myth upon myth has touched upon in all its infinite facets is not easily trivialized. Exploring it may not be the only way to make shit happen. In this author’s view, however, it is the most coherent way toward mastery free of intellectual tail chasing and rules and tools dependency. Instead, one might discover horizons of creative potential to express an art that amounts to the embracing of one’s very own truth as a seed of existential possibility and more.