Reading: I’ve recently read Geosophia by Jake Stratton-Kent and decided to order his The Testament of Cyprian the Mage for reasons. I’ve also read A Trojan Feast by Joshua Cutchin (very interesting), Gordon White’s Pieces of Eight (very good), The Mabinogion again (Otherworldly journey records & travelogues), selections from The Celtic Heroic Age (edited by John T. Koch; yes, that’s his nomme de plume). I’m working through Owen Davies’s Grimoires: A History of Magic Books from Oxford UP right now. The grimoires intensify.
Spirit Entanglement Notions: Ouija explicitly has you invite spirit contact & open yourself to participate, to facilitate that contact, thus its intensity, uncanniness, and arguable effectiveness. I also see this utility connecting to the use of shewstones & crystals—using explicit media for spirit contact & the option/opportunity to interact with spirits while also offering a means to anchor the spirit & involve you. I find myself remembering old “catch a spirit/faerie” spells I saw in old books years ago that premise themselves on a similar “entanglement” logic (entangling you and the spiritual, mostly so that you can quicken and facilitate the experience) but mired in what’s no more than slavery, control, & binding. “Shewstones” and scrying mirrors offer alternatives for seeing, noticing the spiritual.
Note that I’m thinking the big hurdle in spirit entanglement isn’t the spirits needing help, certainly not for gods, but helping us connect and even accept spiritual presences in an occult context (that is, intentional rather than a haunted or other contexts). And I’m pondering technique that can augment or improve practice or at least my engagement with it.
Books of Spirits: In Geosophia, Stratton-Kent points to the idea of writing a “Book of Spirits” as a tool in working with spirits & your own allies. Traditionally, it seemed to entail chronicling a group of pacts & specific rules for calling allies quickly. I would classify many conventional grimoires along similar lines, which Stratton-Kent certainly implies. The Book of Spirits traditionally uses a 2-page spread per spirit, with the verso being its image, the recto its invocation & sigils, etc.
My interest in “grimoires” (and I use the “” very intentionally because I mean magic books and journals one makes as well as the conventional grimoire-grimoires) lies in how these books provide a way to reframe and re-write Talker into a more enchanted and hopefully self-possessed shape. My view of Talker sees her as very much a being of layers of discourse, narratives, symbolism, experiences, and more, and most of the time, the daily ego UI shell of Talker is, well, the daily ego. In that sense, Talker also reflects the lived experience we have in the world. If I want an enchanted, magical, empowered lived experience, helping Talker generate that experience/reality seems pertinent. The Book of Spirits/Grimoire becomes one extended ritual and even experience to accomplish that rewriting of Talker while also leading you to fashion a coherent world view that includes spirits, magic, and where you fit in. I rather suspect the process of assembling the Grimoire matters far more than having the physical book on hand.
Put another way, I see it as very much a way of making your magic your magic, both in terms of what you put into your head and soul but also in terms of responsibility. It forces you to organize what goes into the grimoire, your views of the Otherworlds and spirits and gods and more, your sense of practice and how shit works. How do you accommodate your vision of the world and Otherworlds to your polytheistic reality, as well? How do you fit in an embodied, lived, political, community and natural existence?
I suspect the supposed “magical thesis” (and I’m remembering Nema & Maat Magick here) reflects a similar process.
HGAs & Intermediary Spirits/Gods: Stratton-Kent also points to HGA having a presence in the grimoire tradition outside of the usual places (like Abramelin) as the “magical assistant.” This assistant was typically conceived of in Tipharetic or solar terms. The “usual” approach to HGA/magical assistant is solar, all-powerful, omnipresent—often including the magician identifying with or donning the mantle/role of demiurge, Father, Super-Magical-Hero—figures like Abraxas, Moses, YHWH, etc.—all very male. There are solar goddesses, but it seems like the guys embrace the imperial. And I see imperial magic being an artifact of history that really needs to be cast into a rubbish bin.
Stratton-Kent also suggests that intermediary entities can serve as analogs, alternatives, or even masks for the HGA. The Grimorium Verum points to Scirlin who “acts in the same way” as the HGA in transcendental systems, or to intermediaries in ATR or Ganesha. I wonder if these are all necessarily equivalent, though, or if entities like Scirlin are stand-ins (masks) for the HGA or if they are exteriorized intermediaries in place of for the HGA: that is, with separate existence and reality and sapience, but they can stand in when you’ve not dived in well enough to have a sense of your HGA or God-Soul. While anyone can take up a practice, communing with HGA/God-Soul/spiritual self-possession can be problematic, requires taking out your trash–that is, endless purification of the ego to help her from getting in the way. The intermediaries may help propel one along the Path until one can work with HGA, if ever.
I suspect there’s also a lot of egoic identification with various magical personalities as an attempt to “get at” HGA (thus why folks assume the guise of various Merlins, Orpheuses, Morganas, etc., which also reflects the putative authorship and author-ity of many grimoires).Stratton-Kent points to earthing Scirlin with central position on altars, dedicated permanent treasures (gifts kept on the altar), & divinatory tools only for use with Scirlin. And special incense.