18 August 2011

Reinventing Atë

Reinvention, reinterpretation, re-imagining... It's something that goes on in the world all the time. All of it might not be good, but a lot of it is. They did it to Battlestar Galactica, for example, and created something really wonderful.

So is it OK to do it with gods? Absolutely! Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst did it with Eris. Anton LaVey did it with Satan. Wiccans did it with Aradia and Cernunnos (and pretty much any deity they run into, I guess). And historically people have been doing it all the time, of course. The images of mythological characters we know today are mere snapshots in time. They were constantly changing, developing.

So I'd like to spend a little more time considering Atë (Ατη), a goddess I discovered only recently (and wrote briefly of in my previous post); how I understand here, and what I could make of her. The sources I've seen on her are pretty sparse, yet there is something intriguing in her nature. (This is not intended as an accurate historical analysis, merely inspiration from very superficial study.)

O Queen of Darkness, Where Art Thou?

I've always had a thing for goddesses. It's hard to say why exactly, but I wouldn't say it was any kind of feminist thing, like Goddess worship seems to be for so many neopagan writers. Rather, I think it stems from the simple fact that I'm a heterosexual male (and single, to boot). Should I worship someone, it's only logical that it was someone whose appearance I found pleasing...

Now, there are plenty of different goddesses in mythology. But pondering aspects of 'Dark Side' spirituality lately, it seems there are far less interesting female characters in the demonic realms. (Of course I don't pretend to be an expert on the topic. My knowledge tends to be confined to skimming sources like Wikipedia...)

11 August 2011

Rite of Rosenberg

Inspired by my ideas on modern hero cults, and the particular case of Willow from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here is yet another Ritual of the Pentagram, based on my simplified formula.

My Latin sucks, I'd be the first to admit it. There may well be better choices of words, but in the end it's the emotion behind it that counts, not the sounds.
  1. Turn to the east. Trace a circle about you, if you will.
  2. Trace a pentagram, and say: 'Discipula!' 
  3. Turn to the north, trace pentagram, say: 'Maga!'
  4. Turn to the west, trace pentagram, say: 'Vampyrus!'
  5. Turn to the south, trace pentagram, say: 'Deletrix!'
  6. Return to the east, say: 'Willow!'
  7. Visualise the pentagrams and the figure of Willow standing before you.

The words are selected to reflect different aspects of the character (and ordered in the way I felt best resonated with the elements associated with the directions), and in Latin... well, simply to add a bit of occult feel (and of course magick incantations in the show are not infrequently Latin). 'Discipula' stands for (female) student or scholar. 'Maga' is the feminine form of 'magus', which of course means magician. 'Vampyrus'... no explanation necessary (this is not a classical Latin word, of course). 'Dēlētrix' is defined in one dictionary as 'she that annihilates or destroys', reflecting here the 'Darth Rosenberg' aspect.

I considered using 'Lamia' instead of 'Vampyrus'. This is of course not the exact same creature, but it does have similar qualities, and might resonate a little better with the classical language (and it's also a feminine noun). I dunno, doesn't make all that much difference in the end, but of course the word 'vampire' does have special significance in the context.

The Many Faces of Willow

I have recently been pondering the use of popular culture characters in spirituality. The following builds on these ideas.

Now, many deities in mythology have various different aspects or incarnations (frequently coming in threes... at least in the views of neopagan and new age writers). Similar qualities can of course be seen in some pop culture heroes as well.

As a sample, I'll briefly discuss different aspects of Willow Rosenberg, a particular favourite of mine. During the run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was portrayed in three quite different and memorable ways (more could probably be identified, but since three is a particularly remarkable number in this context, I'll stick to these).

1. Willow the Nerd: This is the regular, everyday Willow. A caring, intelligent young woman, albeit a little shy and insecure. She is both a computer expert and a magician, a combination I personally find particularly appealing.

2. Willow the Vampire: This Willow exists in an alternate timeline, and only briefly visits the universe of the show. She could perhaps be seen as a personification of suppressed lust and impulsiveness. 'Bored now!'

3. Willow the Destroyer: Driven to vengeful madness through the loss of a loved one, this Willow comes close to destroying the world in a bid to end all suffering. She is a personification of the destructive side of magick. While ostensibly 'Evil', she is very different from vampire Willow (who obviously is Evil), less self-gratifying, and more down-to-business with a big 'cause'.

All of these are Willow. Even if the latter two could be seen as possessed by supernatural forces, they still represent qualities that reside within Willow, although they may be suppressed. Together they represent... well, quite a lot of things; good, evil, knowledge, power, etc. etc.

10 August 2011

A Thought or Two on Satanism

Occultism and Satanism often go hand in hand in the thoughts of people who know very little about either.

Yes, of course there is a Satanist sub-culture within the field of occultism. That goes without saying. But that is just one of very many different philosophies, and a fairly modern development, as well. Victorian occultism was largely obsessed with salvation and enlightenment. It was basically Christian. Satanism can perhaps be seen as one expression of the growing sense of individualism and freedom of choice in the mid 20th century, which gave us myriad new cultures, from rock music to the New Age movement.

Guardians of the Quarters

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram traditionally involves calling upon beings associated with the four cardinal points and the four elements. In the original Golden Dawn ritual these were the four archangels, Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel and Michael (east/air, north/earth, west/water, and south/fire, respectively).

Now, there's almost an endless amount possibilities for these four guardians. They could basically be any four entities that please you, in some way. I have related some, both from mythology and popular culture, that I've occasionally used in the LRP's I've written up here. The G∴D∴ ritual calls upon these beings after the pentagrams have been traced (using Hebrew names of God during the tracing), but I usually favour a simplified form which calls only upon four names.

Here are just a few possibilities based on mythologies and occult sources:

6 August 2011

Modern Day Charms

Finding a stone with a hole in it is supposed to be lucky.

Well, taking a stroll recently, I found a nut on the ground. Of the metal variety, not the edible. This, to me, would seem just as good as a stone, if not better. In the modern world we're constantly in need of luck with machines, after all. The fact that it is man-made in my mind makes no difference whatsoever. (For what is Man but an implement of nature, after all?)

This seemed a particularly interesting coincidence, since just recently I've been pondering the potential of modern day heroes in spirituality. And, related to that, devising a simple pentagram ritual calling upon a few of my favourite pop culture heroes. The character I picked for north/earth (for reasons that may or may not be obvious) was Kaylee, the mechanic from the sci-fi show Firefly. I was also considering what kinds of symbols or items could represent these characters in a ritual or on an altar. As it happens, one of the items I thought of for Kaylee was... (drum roll) a nut.

So I picked it up, of course, and put it in my pocket.

There is probably no limit on what could these days qualify as a lucky charm, altar figure or other magickal item, apart from the imagination. Such things as computer chips, little toys, pop culture merchandise etc. spring to mind. As long as there's some connection (in your mind) with the item and a powerful concept or being, it should work just fine.

5 August 2011

On Evil

An article on the website of Dragon Rouge, a Swedish (left-hand path) occult society, concerning their philosophy, makes an interesting division between 'grey' everyday evil, and 'mythological' Evil.

To quote:
'It is of great importance to be aware already at the outset of the fact that the dark and evil forces that are described in the myths must not be mixed up with the grey evil that strikes us as soon as we read a newspaper or watch the news on television. This grey evil that surrounds us in our world is mainly committed by frustrated and confused individuals, power mad politicians or criminals, unable to control petty desires. This evil has in reality nothing whatsoever to do with the metaphysical evil that we encounter in religious documents. ... The grey evil characteristic of humanity is not seldom justified with goodness. How often do we not see terrible cruelty in the name of goodness? ... The forces of evil appearing in the myths are revolting, questioning, overthrowing and pioneers.'

4 August 2011

On Initiation

I've done the whole self-initiation thing. Several times, in fact. First there were rituals based on Wiccan texts, then more personal creations, based on some pantheon or philosophy that I felt was the bee's knees at the time. And of course they all felt in some way significant at the time.

I guess it largely stems from the simple coolness factor of being part of some specific tradition, society or whatever. But I'm kinda past that phase in my occult career (I hope). I don't really feel a need for a faction, just having an alignment is plenty. (A bit of geek humour there.) I try to see the world as a whole, rather than through the eyes of a specific tradition. And there is no initiation into the whole Universe except for birth.

Now, initiation into a group is a slightly different matter, I surmise. It can obviously make you feel more strongly a part of it. But I don't belong to any group, and am generally somewhat sceptical about such things, seeing as how I see spirituality as a particularly personal thing.

And I fail to see how such a ritual could have any kind of impact on one's magickal abilities, even though there are many writers who rave on about the importance of initiation in one's magickal development. Of course a ritual affirmation of your faith and intentions can be helpful, particularly for the beginner. But I don't see it as in any way compulsory. In the end, magick is about you and your relationship with the Universe, while initiation is about your relationship with a particular group. There is a difference.

Others see initiation everywhere, and various events and aspects of life as part of some great metaphorical initiation process. I just call it 'life' and leave it at that.

3 August 2011

Literature

Should someone stumble here who is not very familiar with western occult tradition, they might be interested in sources to get started with. While I don't really follow the teachings of any particular author, there are works that I have over the years found helpful in beginning to build up a little background knowledge of the field. I'll try to list some of them here, by category.

The Demiurge Molecule

The title of this post is borrowed from a song by black metal band Dimmu Borgir. While I've read the lyrics of that piece, I must say I have no idea what it is supposedly about, based on that information alone. However, I quite liked the title, which immediately reminded me of some thoughts of my own; namely, an interpretation of DNA as the 'Demiurge'.

The Demiurge is the creator of the world. Some writings (such as Plato's) represent him as a mostly beneficial being, but in others, particularly many Gnostic traditions, he is not the true God, but merely the creator of the material world, and described (along with the world he created) as fundamentally flawed, foolish, or plain evil.

Now, if we think of the world we live in, we could perhaps make a distinction between the physical cosmos as a whole, and the 'biosphere' of this planet (including the human societies). This latter is of course what we mostly deal with in our daily lives, what we mostly think of as our 'world'. And is there anything that has played a larger role in the development of this world than DNA? Of course it is not solely responsible for our existence or current shape, but in many ways it could be seen as our creator. Yet it is obviously not the creator of the world in its entirety. A parallel could be seen here with the Gnostic relationship of God and Demiurge.

It is interesting that the Gnostic Demiurge was sometimes represented as a serpent (with lion's face). The form of the serpent, of course, evokes the image of coiled strands of DNA. Also interesting is that one of the names associated with this being was Samael, which in this context was translated as the 'blind god'. This seems well suited to the chaotic nature of evolution.

Unsenickwa!

One method used in Chaos Magick is the making of 'mantras' by jumbling up letters in a phrase. Just for a laugh, I took the phrase 'Wackiness ensues!' to see what kind of word I would come up with.

First of all, I removed duplicate letters, which left me with 'wackinesnu'. This doesn't look too bad, but is still a little too close to the original phrase.

I tried turning the word backwards, which gave me 'unsenikcaw'. Not bad, but the last syllable is a little awkward, I thought.

So I jumbled up a few of the letters, resulting in 'unsenickwa'. I think this has a nice ring to it.

The question that remains is, what is the significance of this brand new magickal formula? What kind of context could it be used in? The original phrase is quite general in scope. This is not a spell for some specific purpose. It could perhaps be seen as a generic 'word of power', akin to Hebrew names of God used in qabalistic magick. On the other hand, it also has an air of finality akin to an 'amen' or a 'blessed be!' (And the meaning does have a rather Discordian feel, of course.)

2 August 2011

A Heroic Pentagram Ritual

This little ritual builds on the ideas presented in this article about creating a modern hero cult, based on popular culture and old Greek ideas. The structure and usage are similar to other Lesser Rituals of the Pentagram, while the names have been replaced by those of characters from well known TV shows. But as is the case with any ritual, the choice of names and figures involved should be personal, this is merely an example.

  1. Turn to the east. Trace a circle about you, if you will.
  2. Trace a pentagram, and say: 'Willow!' 
  3. Turn to the north, trace pentagram, say: 'Kaylee!'
  4. Turn to the west, trace pentagram, say: 'Gabrielle!'
  5. Turn to the south, trace pentagram, say: 'Starbuck!'
  6. Return to the east. Visualise the pentagrams and the figures of the heroines around you.
The names have of course been picked to work with the elemental associations of the cardinal points (air, earth, water and fire, respectively), but I don't think I need to go deeper into my reasoning at this point. I purposefully picked characters from different shows, though (even if there is a slight imbalance in favour of Joss Whedon).

(Someone could perhaps wonder why the characters are all female. The fact that I'm a heterosexual male might have something to do with that.)

Pop Deities, or, Time for a New Hero Cult?

Is the hero of a sci-fi movie really very different from that of a Greek myth?

From a narrative and aesthetic point of view, there are obviously many similarities, which have also been much studied by academics, I'm sure. But few, I think, seriously consider modern sci-fi and fantasy as source material for religion and spirituality, whereas old myths were inseparably intertwined with the religion of their time. (There are some notable exceptions, of course, such as the followers of the Jedi faith.)

But if we take the premise that deities and their ilk are concepts invented by us, symbolic of the forces that drive the universe (including our own minds), then the origin or nature of these concepts shouldn't really make much difference.

I have written earlier about my 'animistic' (for lack of a better term) ideas about how each entity, whether physical or merely conceptual, interacts with each other, thus helping to shape the world. It is this interaction, the effect an entity has on an individual or society that defines a 'god'. And in the modern age, don't the heroes of contemporary fictional works play a much larger role in the daily lives of many of us than any ancient mythological character?

1 August 2011

Glossary

Below are explanations of some of the possibly more obscure terms and abbreviations used in the Grimorium Vivum. (To be expanded in the future...)

Banishing, Invoking and the Ritual of the Pentagram

The Golden Dawn popularised the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram in the late 19th century, making it one of the most foundational elements of modern western magick. The original ritual came in two varieties, a 'banishing' ritual and an 'invoking' ritual. The only actual difference between the two is in the way the pentagrams are traced in the air, the words and structure remain the same.

It seems like most occult writers have fixated on the banishing ritual, usually advocating both its use as an opening for other rituals, and as a daily practise. The justification is that it is supposed to clear the air (metaphorically) of negative, or merely 'mundane', emotions, thus putting you in a spiritual, magickal frame of mind.

This does make sense. However, there are a few issues involved that I seem to have trouble getting my brain around, which have led me to think that thinking of such rituals in terms of 'banishing' and 'invoking' is restrictive and not necessarily the best way to go about things.

Rite of the One-Winged Angel

This little ritual (ROWA, for short) is based on the format of the traditional Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, and inspired by a famous video game character, and words from an associated piece of music.

(Note: The name Sephiroth in this context doesn't refer to the emanations in qabalah, but is merely the name of a person. But the double meaning of the word obviously gives some food for thought.)

  1. Trace a flaming circle about you, from east back to east.
  2. Turn towards the south. Say: 'Estuans interius ira vehementi!' and trace a pentagram.
  3. Turn towards the north. Say: 'Sors immanis et inanis!' and trace a pentagram.
  4. Turn towards the west. Say: 'Veni, veni, venias, ne me mori facias!' and trace a pentagram.
  5. Turn towards the east. Say: 'Gloriosa, generosa!' and trace a pentagram.
  6. Visualise a terrifying, angelic figure with a single wing towering before you. Shout: 'Sephiroth!', and bask in his power and glory.