24 June 2011

The Clockwise Bias

Western culture seems to be obsessed with moving in a clockwise direction. This is also true in occultism, where many authors say you should only move clockwise inside a magick circle (this is particularly often heard in Wiccan sources), or clockwise motion might be related to invoking and anticlockwise to banishing. Folk beliefs say deasil is lucky and widdershins unlucky.

It is of course perfectly natural that primitive Man would attach a great deal of significance in the apparent direction the sun moved. But we, of course, know that it is not the sun that moves, but the earth that rotates. And, in order to create the illusion that the sun is moving in a clockwise direction, it rotates in the opposite direction.

The Vision of Salt

There was a time when I tried to create a system of magick based on Discordianian ideas, mixed with some of my own, and borrowings from Greek mythology. The very concept of a Discordian system, of course, is a contradiction in terms, and was doomed to fail. There was one curious experience during this period, though.

I was contemplating the structure of the altar. It seemed kind of bare to me, but I was not sure what more to place on it. So I went for a walk one day. This was in late autumn (one week after Hallowe'en, in fact). I happened to climb a little hill nearby, and at the top I prayed to Eris to give me a sign as to what I should use as her symbol on the altar.

At almost that precise moment, it seemed to me, a heavy fall of sleet began.

I walked in the direction the sleet was falling, then remembered who I was dealing with and walked in the opposite direction. So I walked back down the hillside, and the path took me to a little dell, covered with now dried out ferns. Rising out of the dell, the sun suddenly struck the falling sleet, making it seem like a strange, glowing curtain. And for some reason the first thought to pop into my head was: 'White salt crystals.'

And just then the sleet stopped.

Salt, of course, has a long tradition of use in ritual. There were also numerological and other symbolic ties to Eris that I could work into the system I was devising.

What to make of this now, when this particular system has long since been abandoned, I don't really know. I haven't been able to think of much actual ritual use for salt, either. But I still think the experience was fascinating, and must hold some significance.

23 June 2011

The Magpie Rhyme

(I wrote this article several years ago, probably more as a thought exercise than anything serious I would have actually actively used.)

The magpie rhyme is a fairly commonly known bit of folklore. If you see a group of magpies, their numbers will tell you your future. There are many regional variants of the rhyme, but one of the most common goes:
One for sorrow, two for joy
Three for a girl, four for a boy
Five for silver, six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told
This is obviously quite a lighthearted rhyme and I can't imagine it ever being taken very seriously, certainly not in modern times. But with a little thought and application of occult philosophy, there is really no reason why it couldn't be a viable means of divination (or rather a system of omens, since we can't exactly choose to see magpies whenever we will). Below are some of my thoughts about how the magpie rhyme could be used in our everyday lives from an occult point of view. There is, of course, much more folklore and symbolism connected to the magpie, but I will only examine the magpie rhyme in this article.

Magic vs. Magick

I've always felt that the spelling 'magick' was a pointless gimmick.

While this spelling might have some historical precedence, its modern usage, to the best of my knowledge, was instigated by Aleister Crowley. His reasoning was simply to distinguish 'proper' magic from stage variety. Not something I feel is particularly necessary today.

But somehow, when I started writing this blog, I ended up using the spelling. I won't lie to you. I think it's probably just as much mock pomposity than anything else. And partly it is probably influence from texts I have been reading recently.

Anyway, both forms are actively used by occult writers, and there really is no particular difference in their meaning, at least for most people. So use whichever form you wish, or both alternately, or whatever tickles your fancy. Nuff said.

Chaotic Neutral

'Nothing is true, everything is permitted.'
In this article I'll attempt to describe my attitude towards spiritual matters in basic terms. This is not an easy task.

Not too long ago I was looking at my Facebook profile, and saw again the field 'Religious Views', which has always posed a problem to me, because this is not a topic that can be easily condensed into one statement. But, being a geek and a gamer, it struck me that I could do worse than write down 'Chaotic Neutral'. (If you know nothing about D&D, the significance of this will probably escape you.)

(I ought to perhaps emphasise that this is about my views on religion and magick, and does not necessarily apply to other areas of life. I'm not advocating breaking any laws, for instance, unless of course they make no sense, which sadly is too often the case.)

Chaos

Chaos as a D&D alignment denotes a disregard for rules and conventions.

We live in an age where knowledge is freely available and the individual's role has greatly increased in society. We live in a world where we have choice. The way I see it, there are simply too many spiritual systems, paths, schools of thought, or whatever you wish to call them, to pick just one. With all the myriad systems out there, I cannot believe that one is somehow better or more true than another. Yet all spiritual symbols have at some time or another played a large role in the lives of people. They all are meaningful in some way.

Thoughts on a New Animism

Thinking deep thoughts one day, I considered the question: 'What is the soul?'

The basic ideas usually related to this concept, regardless of culture, are that it is a unique part of each individual, and that it somehow survives beyond death, either reincarnating in another being or perhaps returning to some kind of 'god', who created the being in the first place.

I realised there is a parallel, of sorts, in nature.

We are born, shaped by DNA, but entirely unique beings. After we die, our uniqueness lives on, after a fashion, returning to the gene pool of the species and helping to shape new unique beings. DNA is the creator deity, the demiurge, and our uniqueness the soul, which does not truly perish when we are gone, but is 'reincarnated' in future generations.

On the other hand, it isn't merely the DNA we transmit to our children that shapes the future. Every action we perform is meaningful. They may seem insignificant at the time, but if enough individuals behave in a certain way, it will affect the direction the species will evolve in, thus again returning to the gene pool. It isn't restricted to biology, of course. We continuously shape the society and culture around us. It may not be our consciousness, as such, that lives on, but we do shape the future, and elements of us live on in it.

22 June 2011

Links

Links to other websites of interest.


    (For my other interests, see bossbattle.net.)

    The Magical Weapon

    Magical 'weapons' (or tools) have been an important part of ritual magick ever since, well, probably prehistoric times already. But choosing the right tool or set of tools is no simple matter.

    Old grimoires are full of swords, daggers, wands and other implements, complete with mysterious sigils. The problem with these, however, is that the grimoires are rarely very specific about the actual use or meaning of the weapons. 19th century occult revivalists attached an endless amount of symbolism to weapons, but actual functionality still didn't seem to be a high priority. And that was the conclusion I came to after a fair amount of thought on the topic: functionality should be paramount.

    The Basic Weapon

    So what it all boils down to is the 'Pointy Thing'. This is the tool you use to 'channel energy', to trace symbols in the air etc. The most obvious choice of tool for the PT is the wand, since this is pretty much its function. If you don't use the wand for pointing at things and waving about, what's the point of having one?

    Starting Points

    The blog format, while suitable for my spontaneous and unstructured style of writing, isn't necessarily the most ideal from the point of view of a newcomer. So here are some links to articles dealing with the most basic points of my approach to occultism, spirituality and magick.

    General topics:

    Basic ritual elements:

    Wiccan topics:

    The Tree Pentagram

    Tracing pentagrams in the air is a practice originally popularised by the Golden Dawn, and widespread today throughout the myriad occult traditions.

    The pentagram as used by the G∴D∴ had one point upwards, and associated each point with one of the four elements, and the fifth element, 'spirit'. 'Invoking' and 'banishing' pentagrams could be drawn for each element by changing the point from which the tracing commenced.

    Now, first of all, the notion that the pentagram drawn with one point upwards is somehow good, and the pentagram drawn with one point downwards evil, or (gasp) downright Satanic, is fairly modern, probably going back no further than the 19th century. It is based largely on the notion that spirit ought to be above the materialistic elements. Which to me seems like a very subjective point of view, or just plain gobbledegook.

    Once you 'dare' look at the inverted pentagram without prejudice, there is a lot of potential new symbolism to be seen. One of the first things I realised was that it's kinda like a tree, the downward point representing the trunk, and the other points branches. This alone already held some appeal to me, having a fondness for nature. But it was followed by another revelation, which was to change my whole approach to the symbol: the pentagram in this form fits very nicely on the Tree of Life.

    21 June 2011

    About This Website

    Grimorium Vivum

    This is Latin, more or less, for the 'living grimoire'. It exists as a platform for me to voice my thoughts about spiritual, occult and magick topics. Nothing fancy, nothing too deep either.

    While I've tried on several occasions to compile a personal 'Book of Shadows', grimoire, or whatever I felt like calling it at the time, they've never been long lasting, due to the fact that I simply keep changing my mind about things too often. Also, many writers on magick tend to emphasise the use of a 'magical record' or journal. But I've never been able to keep journals or diaries, either as a child or as an adult[sic]. After a few entries I just tend to forget.

    But I am, however, exhibitionistic enough to bare my soul to the world in blogs, tweets, status updates and their ilk. So perhaps a 'Blog of Shadows' is the answer, a more dynamic, modern, chaotic approach to the matter. Or maybe I'll write a few posts and then forget about it. We will just have to see.

    This website was founded on the day of the Summer Solstice, 2011.

    Tarot Spread: Sword of Legend

    'The Sword of Legend' is a simple five card tarot spread I devised some time ago, based on the image of a sword and narrative concepts.

    This is how it goes:

    1. Place the first card near you. This is the hilt of the sword, and denotes the 'Hero', the self, the querent, and circumstances at the beginning.
    2. Place the second card above the first. This is the blade of the sword, and denotes the 'Journey', the general progress toward the goal.
    3. Place the third card above the second. This is the point of the sword, and denotes the 'Quest', the ultimate goal.
    4. Place the fourth and fifth cards at an angle on each side of the second. These form the cross-guard of the sword, and denote the 'Friend' and the 'Foe', specific circumstances (or people) that may help or hinder the 'Hero' on his or her way.
    The 'Friend' and 'Foe' cards may be read in two ways. You can either decide beforehand that one side is the 'Friend' and the other the 'Foe', or you could leave the choice open, leaving more space for interpretation.

    A Pentagram Ritual

    I wonder whether whoever it was that wrote the original version of the Golden Dawn's 'Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram' realised just how big an impact it would have on western occultism? Practically every occult tradition, from Hermetic societies to Wicca, has its own version of it, and it is the foundation for most ritual work, being used to prepare the space at the beginning of rituals and to clear lingering forces at the end. Most sources also advocate its use as a daily practise, just to keep your mind tuned to the magickal universe.

    What follows is a very basic outline for a Ritual of the Pentagram. Like many writers on Chaos Magick, I do believe it is best to devise one's own ritual, so that it is truly personal. The ritual is comprised of two basic elements: the act of tracing a pentagram towards each of the cardinal points, and the invocation of associated forces (usually associated with the four elements).