Further Thoughts on Xenia (Abridged)

Left-Hand Path practitioners can use the Hellenistic idea of Xenia (guest-friendship) to practice being a good LBM (Lesser Black Magic) “uke.” An uke (受け), in martial arts, is the person who “receives” a technique. An uke typically partners with an opponent. The action of uke is called “taking ukemi (受け身).” Literally translated as “receiving body”, it is the art of knowing how to respond correctly to an attack and often incorporates skills to allow one to do so safely.

Mindmeld

Even though all forms of communication are magic, all forms of communication cannot be classified as LBM. Lesser Black Magic uses combinations of words engineered by the operator to achieve some specific end: to harm, to influence, to control, for Self-preservation, or to receive some other tangible benefit.

LBM requires finding truth in a specific situation in order to engineer it properly. In this case, truth should be understood as “apparently true information.” Such as an awareness of reaction, life processes, cause and effect, etc. These are things you know to be true.

For example, If I attempt strike an opponent in the groin, I know that they will lower their head. They do this in an attempt to reactively counter my strike by moving their body away from my hand. After all, getting hit in the groin hurts. Since I know that they will likely lower their head to get out of the way, I am able to engineer an answer to that behavior in the understanding that it will occur. I just need to put my fist in the area that their head will be whilst attempting to strike their groin with my other hand.

Granted, this tactic won’t always work. My opponent can even engineer a counter to my attack—if he or she is aware of how I might behave.

LBM can be used in a similar way. By identifying specific truths in reactive human behavior I can engineer an answer to that behavior to achieve a desired result. The best part? There’s very little effort involved in pulling it off. My target does all the heavy lifting.

Households of the Tarot

Xenia, or “guest-friendship” is a concept first introduced by the ancient Greeks. The word Xenia is of Greek origin, from ξεῖνος, which means “foreigner, stranger, guest,” etc. Xenia embodies hospitality in the household. It was one of the cornerstones of Hellenic thought. It has three simple rules:

1. A guest cannot insult the host, make demands of the host, or refuse Xenia.

2. The host cannot insult the guest, fail to provide protection for the guest, or fail to be as hospitable as possible.

3. Gifts and exchange of gifts is customary. Guests aren’t expected to bring gifts but it is considered good Xenia to do so.

There are consequences for breaking these three rules. The most recognizable example of “bad” Xenia can be found in The Iliad with the abduction of Helen. To further clarify the significance of why Helen’s abduction is important to the original topic of discussion, I am going to look to the tarot. I will use this example to illustrate one way LHP practitioners can use Xenia to practice being a good “LBM uke.”

In the tarot, the court cards embody personalities. They become easier to decipher by looking at how they relate to social hierarchy and structure in a household. Alejandro Jodorowsky writes, “to understand how the figures [the court cards] are organized we can place them on a stage as if role-playing around a palace symbolizing their suit.” (Jodorowsky 51)

The Ace card of each minor suit represents the “house” of that suit. This is easily demonstrated through an examination of the Ace of Cups in the Marseille tarot. The Ace of Cups looks like a castle or a cathedral just as much as it looks like a cup. It has walls complete with a structure and appears to have a roof in the center. The walls around the castle have spires. The tips of these spires look like the pointed end of a sword. This suggests that logical/intellectual/rational “Swords” energy is the best method to protect or defend emotions from injury. The “House of Cups” is being lifted up off the ground. This is because a household is both a private and sacred space. It is secluded and separated from the world below it.

Through Xenia, the Court Cards (1) can be interpreted as follows:

-Pages (Princesses) represent guests or flag bearers for their particular house.

-Queens represent the heart of the household. She embodies the Self. The Queen receives all guests. She is also the most influential member of the household. She is extremely fixated on embodying the suit she represents.

-Kings (Knights) represent the law (Xenia) of the household. The King’s agenda is to expand his kingdom. For example, the King of Wands seeks to expand physically in the world whereas the King of Cups prefers to seek emotional expansion.

-Knights (Princes) represent how the King’s law in the household is enforced. Knights can also represent movement away from the “agenda” of the suit they represent.

The World (also see The Universe in the Black Flame/Thoth Tarot) in the Rider-Waite system reveal both the flow and the weaknesses of each suit in the minor arcana. There are four “spirits” which surround the central figure in The World. Each represent the minor arcana and the element that they are associated with. It may be helpful to think about suits in the same way we think about socio-cultural differences. This is fascinating to think about as the literal World is home to an innumerable amount of different cultures and traditions. Of course, it should be noted that the tarot is a western divinatory tool and primarily embodies Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cultures. (2) There are some anomalous decks which demonstrate influences from different cultural perspectives, however. For example, the Sola-Busca tarrochi is thought to be influenced by Mithraism.

In the upper left of the World, an angel is depicted representing the Cups suit, and the element of water. The lower left, a bull which is associated with Pentacles and the element of earth. On the bottom right is a lion, it represents the Wands suit and the element of fire. Finally, the eagle represents the suit of swords and the element of air. Each of these energies can flow into one another in a clockwise or counterclockwise fashion.

It’s important to note that each adjacent suit can modify the behavior of the suit currently being examined. For example, Cups are modified by Swords and Pentacles as the Angel is adjacent to the Eagle and the Bull. Moving counterclockwise, the suit that preceded the one you’re engaged with reveals that suit’s weakness. For example, Cups-type behavior is intellectually weak as the Eagle is “behind” the angel. Likewise, by moving clockwise, the element or behavior that comes before the suit you’re engaged with reveals what occurs when a suit becomes “empowered” through an exploration of their weaknesses. Again, with Cups-type behavior, through exploring intellectual expansion (Swords) they can become more grounded (Discs).

Suits that are across from each other, but not connected through the flow of The World are opposing elements. The watery Cups douses the fires of the Wands suit, or the rock-type Discs breaks the scissor-like Swords. This works in the opposite direction as well. With enough Wands-type behavior, Cups-type behavior can be evaporated. A tempered, well crafted Sword can cut right through earthy Disc-type behavior. It’s important to note that when working together, opposing elements can complement each well, but not without consequence. For instance, when Swords and Shields (Discs) come together, all out War is often the result. With Cups and Candles (Wands), Ceremony.

Below are further examples of how the behavior of each suit can be modified:

-The House of Cups embody emotions, sensuality, and intuitive instinct. They tend to have intellectual blind spots. Cups can become more grounded through intellectual pursuits. The Magician helps with this weakness. The High Priestess enables it.

-The House of Discs embody currencies: time, money, and material energies. Discs tend to have emotional blind spots. They can become masters of manifestation by learning to “let go” of the things they cannot change. The Fool and the Hanged Man help with this weakness. The Devil enables this weakness.

-The House of Wands embody physical doing, attraction, movement, and sexual tenacity. Wands have financial or material blind spots. They can become more rational by adopting a routine and setting time limits. The Emperor and Temperance (Art) help with this weakness. The Wheel of Fortune (Fortune) and Strength (Lust) enable this weakness.

-The House of Swords embody intellectual, logical, and rational expansion. They have physical and social blind spots. Additionally, they have an issue manifesting (putting pen to paper). That is because they are very much inside their heads. In order to solve these issues they must learn to connect with their emotions. The High Priestess helps with this weakness. Justice (Adjustment) and Judgement (the Aeon) enable this weakness.

In the Sola-Busca tarrochi, Helen of Troy is depicted as the Queen of Discs—Elena. Helen’s abductor, Paris also shows up in the Sola-Busca as the King of Swords, Alexandro. (3) As the Queen of Discs represents the heart and identity of the “household” abducting (or eloping with) her would embody a violation of household “culture” and in turn bad Xenia. It must be noted that because Paris is a Swords-type guest in the home of Menelaus his abduction of Helen results in The Trojan War. As mentioned above, the consequence of Swords and Shields coming together can result in war in the worst case scenario.

How does any of this apply to being a good “LBM uke” for a fellow LHP practitioner? And where does Xenia fit into all of this?

It’s a neat exercise to symbolically play with the idea that each human mind represents a subjective “household” associated with one of the suits in the tarot. All people have a predisposition towards one of the four suits/elements (Cups, Discs, Wands, Swords) over the others. Under this context, when I share an interaction with another individual I enter into their “house” as a foreigner and vice versa. Knowing which household suit I am aligned with and which suit my target is aligned allows me to identify apparently true behaviors in myself and the individuals I am engaging with.

For example, if I am a Swords-type individual and my “host” was a Cups-type individual I wouldn’t want to engage them with a straight-forward intellectual attack. Attacking an individual’s blind spot is bad Xenia. I should consider my audience and take different approach. Gift giving is good Xenia. I can use my intellectual prowess in a different way by coming up with a thoughtful gift for my Cups-type host. This way I don’t attack their intellectual blindspot, I appeal to it.

Ways to avoid bad Xenia are perfectly embodied in the first four “Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth”:

1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.

2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.

3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.

4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.

Xenia isn’t cause and effect like karma. Nor is it a “do unto others” concept. When I engage in an exchange with another individual I have an expectation they at there will be difference. Xenia is the mirror that keeps me aware of this fact. Xenia has presence. When I visit somebody else’s “home” (subjective or actual) I am aware of Xenia’s pull to behave in a manner becoming of a proper Noble. Xenia doesn’t need to be spelled out or spoken for, it should just be understood.

The Art of Being a Great Uke

At my Kung Fu school here in the Southwest, we drill Baguazhang applications with each other at every class. One person performs the application while the other receives it. The receiver is known as the uke.

It’s taken a couple of years, but I’ve learned that pulling punches or intentionally swerving my strikes to avoid my opponent’s face is a bad practice. Pulling punches serves zero benefit to my partner. They cannot perform an application correctly if I pull my punches. Playing the role of uke should not be understated. It is integral to the development of any art that requires an exchange.

It’s easy to read about how to use LBM ethically and effectively. It’s another thing to put it into practice. It is true that as Lords and Ladies of the Left Hand Path it is important to carve our own journey to find the answers to our questions. LBM practice can be honed out in the proverbial “wild” by ourselves in the World of Horrors. But if martial applications can be “rehearsed” effectively, why can’t the “practice” of Lesser Black Magic also be “rehearsed” as well?

The word “practice” implies the regular usage of LBM. It has no connection to the words “rehearsal” or “training.” Having “good intentions” refers to using Lesser Black Magic to push or compel a fellow practitioner towards a benefit. If they don’t know that they are being LBMed there is still an ethical dilemma to consider.

But what if they did know that you were LBMing them? What if they know because you told them that you were? And what if they were a willing participant? If you did have a partner to “rehearse” LBM what are the benefits of such an exchange? And is it “bad” Xenia to pull punches as an “LBM uke” in just such an arrangement?

Perhaps an argument against what I’m proposing is that LBM “rehearsal” is still LBM. Because of this, it still can have a lasting effect on the uke receiving it regardless of the “good intention” behind practicing this particular Art on another practitioner.

When in Rome

“When I am here (in Milan) I do not fast on Saturday, when in Rome I do fast on Saturday.”

That reply is said to have brought about the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Understanding “good” Xenia isn’t always straightforward process. Differences in “culture” can sometimes embody customs that may be thought of as “bad” Xenia by another culture.

Why should I care about this though? As a Left Hand Path practitioner I am antinomian! Why should I temporarily conform to traditions that are not my own? Conformity is affront to the Self!

Well, it isn’t always appropriate to act like Hell, dress like Hell, walk like Hell, talk like Hell. In order to improve one’s station in life, I need other people. Even if this means that I have to play the part of the “good Osirian haüsfrau” at a party with a Mormon majority.

Saving Face

Allowing others to “save face” could also be considered “good” Xenia. “Saving Face” shows up in many forms in different cultures. It is especially prevalent in Southeast Asia.

So what is “face?”

The abstract concept of face obviously has nothing to do with anatomy, but instead can be described as a combination of social standing, reputation, influence, dignity, and honor. Causing someone to lose face lowers them in the eyes of their peers, while saving or “building face” raises their self worth.

Embarrassing someone who doesn’t want to be embarrassed can have repercussions. This is especially true in business culture. It should be noted that techniques used to save face vary in sophistication. In general, it is good Xenia to protect the person who’s face is being saved from embarrassment. I have listed several simple workplace examples below.

John Spacey of Simplicable writes that face can be saved via:

Tact

Disagreeing with people indirectly when you feel they are wrong with techniques such as “That’s a good idea but…”

The Indirect “No”

Saying “no” to a job candidate or salesperson may cause them to lose face. Approaches such as “Your skills are impressive but we ended up choosing a candidate with more banking industry experience”, are a way of saying no that is face saving.

Humor

A colleague apologizes for something and you reduce the tension with humor and forgiveness.

Employment

A senior employee appears to have health problems that are interfering with his position. He is kept on as a “special consultant” until retirement age but removed from office duties.

Embarrassing Moments

A person has toilet paper stuck to their shoe during a meeting. Everyone pretends not to see it. The person beside them whispers “you have a little something …”

Hints

Indirect feedback that sounds positive but contains criticism as hints. In cultures where saving face is common, people learn to read between the lines to see such criticism.

Closing Thoughts—Author’s Notes

I was first introduced to Xenia in 2005 while studying the Greek classics at the University of Akron. My formal exposure to Xenia mainly focused on investigating the social dynamic between guests and hosts. Over the last few years, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to play with Xenia in other ways, especially since I’ve been traveling more regularly. In some measure, I tend to believe that this exploration is somewhat careless. Xenia, at least in the traditional sense, applies only towards respecting the unspoken laws of a physical household. As a child of Postmodernism, I feel inclined to further explore the concept as a more ambiguous tool to instigate Xeper. Xenia serves as a reminder to maintain an awareness of the subjective differences that exists all around me.

I apologize for the formatting of my work. I wasn’t entirely sure how to arrange this exposition/rant/jazz odyssey/exploration in such a way that it could become especially readable. This can be a rather unexciting subject.

This “paper” includes notes, thoughts, and sporadic ideas that I’ve been compiling over the last few months. Call this a “from the heart” analysis of Xenia. As a result of this, there are entire sections here that distract from my initial argument. The section on tarot is unnecessary. I felt inclined to include it so I could use it as relatable model to demonstrate bad Xenia. Personal examples aren’t often relatable.

Future areas of opportunity may include more formal research into Xenia, better formatting, and more photos of cute cats.

Footnotes:

1. It should be noted that the meaning of the Court cards between the Thoth and Rider-Waite systems are not interchangeable with one another on a 1:1 level. There is some overlap, but it’s not entirely helpful to always associate Thoth Princes with Rider-Waite Knights, Thoth Princesses with Rider-Waite Pages, or Thoth Knights with Rider-Waite Kings, etc

2. Aniconism is a proscription in Islam against the creation of images of sentient beings. No “sentient” beings are depicted in the minor arcana of the Marseille tarot.

3. The King of Swords in the Sola-Busca is commonly understood to be Alexander the Great, as there are many references to the Alexandrian romances throughout the deck. For example, his mother depicted twice, once as the Queen of Cups, Polysena, and once as the Queen of Swords Olinpias (her name was changed later to Olympia in the Alexandrian romances). It’s too much of a coincidence that Helen’s abductor Paris is also named Alexander or Alexandros in some translations of the Illiad to ignore the fact that the King of Swords could also represent him in addition to Alexander the Great.

Resources:

Adams, Peter Mark. The Game of Saturn: Decoding the Sola-Busca Tarrochi. Scarlet Imprint, 2017.

Aquino, Michael A. Black Magic. Temple of Set. 2013

Jodorowsky, Alejandro, The Way of Tarot: the Spiritual Teacher in the Cards. Destiny Books, 2009.

LaVey, Anton Szandor. The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth. Retrieved May 30 2018. https://www.churchofsatan.com/eleven-rules-of-earth.php

Spacey, John. 6 Examples of Saving Face. Retrieved June 10 2018. From: https://simplicable.com/new/saving-face

Aniconism. Wikipedia Retrieved June 9 2018. From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aniconism.

Xenia. Wikipedia Retrieved May 28 2018. From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenia_(Greek)

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