The Rat Trap Working–A Journey through the Underworld

When I look back at my 32 years on this planet, I like to separate my time here into three different lives. My childhood–from the time I was a baby until the end of high school.  My young adulthood–the time in which I spent trying to figure out who I was. And lastly, the life I’m currently living. My current incarnation arose late last year after realizing that I was not only capable of becoming Adept, but that I actually had developed into one.

A couple weeks ago, I had a huge “a-ha moment” with regards to how I interact with people. Communicating has never been my strong suit. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s become even more difficult to speak with others on a one to one level. The majority of this problem is grounded in the fact that amidst the confusion of my past lives, I chose to look inward and journey through the depths of the Underworld.

As of February 2017, I am surrounded on all sides by Tucson’s wall-to-wall corporate sprawls filled to the brim with white upper middle class suburbanites just looking to raise their families, punch the clock, and consume. Here, everything has novelty. Shitty black garbage bags with yellow ties. Shattered cavities of plastic and torn shiny paper. Smog and tumble weeds of blue solo cups and rusted nails. The sad loneliness of Panda Express in front of the television with the family on a Sunday evening.

“God’s not dead.” they say.

“God’s not dead!”

“Do you hear us?”

“God’s not dead!”

Yeah–okay. Whatever you say.

I’m living in the middle of an airborne toxic event. Suburban Tucson is a bad parody of a Don Delillo novel on expired LSD laced with bath salts. People here are just looking to live out their lives refusing to ask the tough questions that might change each and every one of them irrevocably.

“God’s not dead!” they scream, running away from the rabid black-toothed rats gnawing away at their insides.

“God’s not dead! HE’S NOT DEAD.”

It takes a lot of energy to ignore the ferocious biting of rats. They will rapidly tear away at everything you are or ever will be should you do nothing to stop their treacherous advance. Some of postmodernity’s favorite remedies for ignoring this pain come in many shapes and sizes, all beautifully packaged for your consumption. Amphetamines and antidepressants. Wild Turkey and Ambien. Subway punchcards and Starbucks. Bad movies and aspartame. Painkillers and suicide.

polyp_cartoon_still_not_happyDon’t get me wrong–if that’s the life you choose then so be it. Who am I to judge? My situation is unique to me. Just don’t expect me to refer to that type of life as an “enthralling state of existence”.

I vividly recall what rats gnawing away at me felt like. It was incessant and raw. As a young adult, I remember the rats of my childhood eating away at my insides. They reminded me that deep down I hurt. That I had no idea who I was. I needed to get away from them in order to heal the open sores they had caused. 

When I was little, my life was rigid, structured, and controlled. At times, I remember becoming paralyzed by anxiety in an effort to save face in the presence of my father. As I moved on into my next life as a young adult, I began to explore the possibilities of my new found freedom. Because I grew up in an environment of suppression, I found it incredibly easy to obsess over the things I could never do. My lifetime as a young adult was very short. It was a positive experience, but ultimately, met its end in a tragic death of my choosing.  

Classic Kung Fu revenge films and Westerns all share the same basic story structure. The main character begins living a decent or happy life. They then suffer through an intense tragedy. Usually this takes place in the form of their entire family being murdered. This sets into motion the protagonist’s need for a journey through wilderness and/or period of intense training away from society. They then return to society in an effort to just “get along.” Of course this never works out. There’s always a few bloody fight scenes along the way. In the climax, the main character almost always achieves deadly revenge against the person or force who caused their initial tragedy. Lastly, the credits start to roll, and we find the main character either walking off into the sunset alone or pulling a “remember the Alamo.”

I identify with movies like “Fist of Fury” and “The Grandmaster” because I have lived out the Kung Fu revenge trope before. Because I have lived through it, I understand that language.

My journey towards this understanding began when I was seventeen. I recorded an energetic demo tape with my brother and formed my first band. When I was eighteen, we were struck with young dumb luck and signed a record contract in the pre-MySpace era. At nineteen, I toured coast-to-coast across the United States. This may sound awesome, but life back then was far from perfect. The rats of my gender identity issues still gnawed away at me underneath it all, but I was able to ignore them because I was happy. At least I thought I was. After all, I was doing what I had always dreamed of–I was a professional musician. And that’s all I ever needed!

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It wasn’t though. In 2006 my band died from my inability to ignore the rats in my closet any longer. I had a life as a musician, but what use was it if I couldn’t live out that life as myself?

In the wake of losing what promised to be a flourishing career I decided to put an end to my life as a musician and instead tour the abyss in search of myself. It was time to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life. And the only way to figure any of that out was to approach the tough questions only I could ask: “am I capable of walking away from it all?” and, “Could I build up a new life for myself starting from less than zero?”

Realizing Capability

The first step in the long journey towards yourself begins with the realization that you are capable of crossing that lake of fire. That you are capable of doing the things you set out to do. That you can reach the very bottom of Hell at the expense of everything else in your current life. Only you can decide if you can handle the unexpected calamities that will come with taking those first few steps into the Underworld. To become yourself, you must test your capabilities. And you must develop them through the trial of journey. Keep in mind that your destination certainly matters, but all of your meaningful life changing transformations come from the journey itself. This is why it’s incredibly difficult to express what Xeper is into words. Xeper is powerful because it is shrouded behind the walls of confusion and ambiguity. And to have any sort of relationship with Xeper, you must be willing to recognize the superficial nature of what it means to be you and work your way violently inward.

The most difficult aspect to journeying the Underworld has to do with the people you meet along the way. You will meet many. But most don’t even make it past the gates. That’s because they lack the realization of capability. Many people take two steps in and turn tail–they fear for what they might find underneath it all. Some brave souls will journey with you for a time. A few of these will try to distract you from getting to where you’re headed. Fewer still will even face some of the trials you may encounter along the way by your side. Eventually though, if you’re truly determined, you will leave every one of these people behind. Not because you’re better than them, but because they are physically and spiritually incapable of journeying farther. There’s a sad rule to traveling the Underworld–the deeper you go, the less company you’ll be able to keep. As you slowly make your way to the bottom, you even begin to speak an entirely different language than all of the people on the levels above you.

I spent nine years (2006-2015) traveling the Underworld of myself. A lot of times I felt as though I was in limbo, that I wasn’t making progress. But I learned to heed the signs along the way that indicated that I was indeed capable. My journey there was punctuated with a great deal of objective personal change. I transitioned. I went to University. I decided it wasn’t for me. I hit rock bottom. I found joy in performing. I got into car crashes. I ate a lot of ramen noodles. I got my first cavity. I discovered that I was still a musician. I had life changing surgery. I moved across the country. I joined the Temple of Set.

My time as a first degree in the Temple of Set wasn’t riddled with frustration. Instead, it felt like going home for the first time in my life. It helped me to emerge from the Underworld and confront profane life in the everyday. My first degree taught me that I could arrive to new solutions to old problems, and how to apprehend new problems before they grew out of my control.

Becoming Adept doesn’t come from merely accepting yourself for who you are. That’s part of it, but it goes much further. The Adept understands that she is always capable transforming herself into someone she can truly love. For me, I couldn’t have come to this realization without traveling the Underworld for nine years. And I wouldn’t have been able to Xeper as a result of this realization without learning how to make use of the languages I learned while traveling the abyss. I accomplished this by embracing consistency in my initiatory practices which allowed me to keep the rats away and the channels of my endeavors open and awake. Both journey and consistency are integral to the development of the would-be Adept.

The Rat-Trap Working (aka Journeying the Abyss)

By Adept Nikoletta Winters

The following is a long form GBM working that has many parts to it. It’s very important to make preparations beforehand in order to execute each part efficiently. The purpose of this working is to reaffirm your genuine wants requiring you to plan for their success in the long term.

We often start and stop many things. Starting an endeavor usually begins with intense enthusiasm, but without pursuing consistency, you will be incapable of taking it further. In order to see beyond the initial realm of impulse, you must be willing to complete the motion of journeying with your endeavors as a way to express authenticity of want. It’s easy to ask yourself what you desire. It’s hard to answer why you aren’t doing the things you want to do. You want to learn Russian right? Then why the fuck aren’t you doing it? Don’t say “I don’t know,” or attribute it to laziness, lack of time, or other adult responsibilities. Excuses like these, are rats. And you actively use them to ignore your potential. You create them on the surface level and eventually they attach themselves to your daemonic self. They hold you back from chasing after the things you want. This working is engineered to exact revenge on these rats, effectively “trapping them.” If this working is performed correctly, you will have begun the process of equipping yourself with a shiny pair of capable new eyes. If you feel yourself slipping away from the things you want due to the rats of depression, apathy, or exhaustion–plan a weekend around performing this. Over the course of this working, you will actively engage with immediate manifestations of your will. You will also set into motion energies in that will aid in rooting one or perhaps several wants/desires as a powerful source of Xeper in your life. This working will require you to communicate not only with yourself, but with people around you. It is separated into six phases modeled after the Kung Fu Revenge Western trope:

  1. Peace
  2. Tragedy
  3. Journeying the Abyss
  4. Reintegration
  5. Combat
  6. Isolation

During the course of each stage pay close attention to your surroundings, how you feel, who engages with you. The only catch is that you must complete the main working in a twenty-four hour period.

BEFORE you perform the main working, you must write your own Invocation of Set. You can model it after the Invocation in the Crystal Tablet if you lack a sense of creativity, but I would ask that you at least give it the good ‘ole college try to put your own personal touch to it. The ultimate purpose of this exercise is to make an invocation that is uniquely your own. You are taking this invocation on a journey and delivering it to yourself via consistent nightly recitations of it between two days of personal power. Hint: if you do it right before bed, you’ll experience vivid and sometimes horrific dreams. Don’t be scared–that’s just your magic letting you know that your doing the work.

For me, I situated nightly recitations of my invocation over a fifteen day period from February 10th to the 25th. Both are days of significant power for me. The tenth marks the anniversary of significant progression in my gender transition, and the twenty-fifth is my birthday.

The main working occurs on your second day of power. Begin the main working in the morning or early afternoon. Dress appropriately–you’re going to be headed out for the day after performing the “Peace” phase. You won’t return until you reach the “Isolation” phase.

At the end of each phase, recite the following encouraging words in reference to experiencing the stress of Hell, the Duat, or the Underworld: “My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

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I pulled this phrase from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Prayer to Persephone.” Persephone is the queen of the Underworld and also the goddess of growth in the spring. This is vital to the working as a king or queen of the Underworld will have certainly journeyed to its depths and gained forbidden knowledge of its hidden languages. Persephone’s second aspect, of growth in spring, is equally as vital to this working. It connects the idea of the new and intense enthusiasm we experience when we first pursue the things we want to do (spring) and being able to nurture them to maturity through consistent journey (growth).

1. Open the Gate – Ring Bell x9, recite your invocation of Set, call upon the elements, drink from the graal, etc.

Recite the following:

“There are days where the sun will hide, where peace has withered, where tragic death leaves a gaping hole. There are days where you will journey to the fiery pits, and to the ends of the Earth. There will be days where you will make a return in the spring, and leave again against frozen northern winds. There will be nights where you will seek revenge, and mornings where you’ve tasted it. There are days where the sun will hide, where peace has withered, where tragic death leaves a gaping hole.”

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

2. “Peace” – Engage with something that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed. Perform it until you feel at ease. Ten minutes is the ideal amount of time for this phase. For me, I chose my favorite guided meditation and did it.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

3. “Tragedy” – Get out of the house. If you can, visit a place of significant tragedy in your life. Discuss tragedy with a perfect stranger. Talk with a loved one about the saddest day of their life. Any one of these things will work. Get to know what tragedy is in your own world.

For me, it’s when something goes away before it’s time.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

4. “Journeying the Abyss” – Choose a place to go that makes you uncomfortable or uneasy. I’m not asking you to pull a John McClane and walk into a room full of terrorists, but I am asking you to visit a place that gives you a sense a danger that you cannot easily leave.

I chose to visit the Underworld by going to Bisbee’s “Copper Queen Mine.” In the case of an interesting synchronicity during the course of my working, I was randomly asked by our seventy year old guide to have a seat on the “sanitary cart” in the mine. The sanitary cart was a toilet for the miners of the Copper Queen mine and was known as the “shitter” or “throne.” For the rest of the tour, our guide kept referring to me as the Queen of the mine and asked me to pay him a visit in the future. He told me “I could come back and be Queen anytime.” This was mind-blowing to me! I literally became Queen of the Underworld while the gate was open on my working. Synchronicity? Yep. Laugh out loud funny? Hell yes, but you kinda had to be there.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

5. “Reintegration” – The key to this phase is communication. Talk to people around you. Visibly display your Pentagram of Set if you feel adventurous. If someone is wearing or saying something that strongly connects with any of your sensibilities, make a comment or start a conversation with that person.

My big reintegration moment came when I came across a guy in Bisbee dressed head to toe like a steampunk. It was a pretty radmobile getup so I told him that I “liked his outfit.” He commented on my Pentagram of Set and showed me a red ring he was wearing that also had a pentagram on it. This was a cool little moment. I ended up running into him again across town. (I think he followed me). He gave me a business card this time. Turns out he was a local entertainer who performed nightly seances on the weekends. 

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

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6. “Combat” – Do something that requires you to learn a new language. Spend the afternoon learning a new skill, a new game, or dance routine. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but you do need to understand how to engage with your chosen language by the end of this phase.

I chose to learn how to play a complicated board game called “Eldritch Horror.” After I learned, I played a game of it with my significant other. We got our asses royally kicked by the Azathoth.

“My dear, my dear, it’s not so dreadful here.”

7. “Isolation” – For this phase return to your ritual chamber and perform a task that isolates yourself in such a way that you can completely focus on yourself inwardly. I chose a ten minute scanning body meditation.

At the end of the final phase, make a list of three endeavors you wish to pursue over the next month. You must consistently engage with these on a regular schedule throughout that time. Keep a daily record of this in your magical diary. At the end of the month, write about what you learned and how you feel about your time pursuing these endeavors.

In the spirit of consistency before you close out the working, recite your invocation of Set one final time.

Ring the bell nine times.

“SO IT IS DONE.”

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The Rat Trap Working–A Journey through the Underworld

Finding Ekstasis: Xeper in the Art of Fighting

Last spring, I began studying Baguazhang. I had spent the year before acclimating to a new job that required me to be in an office forty hours a week. About eight months into my tenure as an office dwelling pencil pusher I started feeling sick. My body ached. My stomach was constantly in shambles. I started shaking all the time. This wasn’t surprising considering the lack of physical activity I was getting between my day job and producing music at home. Both of these things required me to be sedentary for upwards of eighteen hours a day. I would go to bed and repeat the cycle the next day, which, in retrospect is a horrifying experience to re-live in my mind. The process of breaking out of this self-destructive cycle began with my investigation into traditional Japanese fan dancing, Wing Chun, and Tai Chi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in the fan dancing classes because they happened while I had work. The local Wing Chun school was quite promising, but it was about forty minutes away from where I lived. I did actually start doing Tai Chi for about two months with a rather nice group of people at the local Chinese Cultural center in Tucson, but I quickly bailed on them after realizing that it was a glorified swingers club for people above the age of 55.

I began searching for solutions closer to my apartment and discovered a school that taught internal Chinese martial arts literally a mile down the road. I wrote their association and was informed about their meeting times and attended my first class. The school was hidden in plain sight. The only indicator that the school was different than the houses around it were the two ivory “foo dogs” that stood watch at the entrance. When I entered, I was greeted by paintings and photos of smiling Bagua and Xingyiquan practitioners Dong Hai Chuan, Liang Zhenpu, Gao Yisheng, Zhang Junfeng, Li Guichang and a group of five people slapping the shit out of their bodies. At first I wanted to laugh, but I was quickly beckoned into the circle to join in on the “light” body slapping.

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I later discovered that light body slapping is done at the start of every class to essentially wake the body up by getting the blood flowing. In the context of my initiation this fit in well as a way to physically explore what it meant to literally go from white to red and back again. With every slap, my circulation improved, my blood rose to the surface of my skin, and for a few hours several times a week I began to realize the importance of using exercise as a way to quiet the brain.

Notice, I did not say my practice of Baguazhang shuts down the brain. Baguazhang is an internal martial art. It works by activating different structures in the brain that I don’t normally use while simultaneously quieting the prefrontal cortex. This allows me to stimulate a state of Flow by being able to focus wholly on what I’m doing without being interrupted by my self-consciousness. Bruce Lee referred to this as the “emptying of the cup.”

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Bagua has given me an outlet to stimulate my ability to achieve a state of Flow with greater frequency and ease. My initial experience with using martial arts in this way didn’t come until I was able to have a grasp the basics of my chosen fighting art. Which is why I’ve only really begun to write about it now–this is a new, unexpected development in my personal quest to constantly improve.

Flow requires us to bring several automatized skills together in order to kick up our focus to a level that allows us to experience it. It takes awhile when we begin to learn a new skill or artform before we can actually experience a brain quieting flow-state. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” would describe this experience as “Transient Hypofrontality:”

“In flow, parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypo frontality. Hypo[…]the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self.”

I get a sense of deep embodiment when I practice Baguazhang. There’s nothing quite like being locked eye to eye with another person while focusing on multiple outlets of your own physicality. The ancient Greeks called this deep embodiment, ἔκστασις (Ekstasis). Ekstasis can be best described as an altered state beyond the normal “sense of self.” Ekstasis is NOT Flow, but it is a byproduct of being able to achieve Flow on a regular basis. In a Setian context, being able to experience Ekstasis means tapping into my “divine pattern.”

Now just imagine how amazing I feel by being able to achieve Ekstasis a several times a week! Baguazhang has all but become not only a powerful tool, but a conduit in which I can interface with my higher self so long as I continue to practice it or something like it.

Tapping into Flow takes practice. When it comes to my practice of Bagua I fail at tapping into it several times a session. This is usually caused by me trying to mentally dissect forms or movements. In terms of my physicality this “over-thinking” comes from making use of my prefrontal cortex.

I’ve experienced wonderful success imprinting myself with the overload of information I get from my practice the less “think” about it. And the less I think about it, the more I experience Ekstasis by having meaningful personal breakthroughs on a regular basis.

For instance, I was able to fully retain the positions of the nine palaces and the thirteen elbow form last month after working with them each for half an hour. Everything prior to that took several months for me learn. Part of my ability to retain this information comes from the challenge of seeing if I could actually do it, which I could surprisingly, but part of it also comes from a grasp of the basic movements I’ve spent perfecting since last spring.

Bagua has taught me how to get in touch with my immediate physicality–a.k.a. those things that I can see in the mirror. It has also taught me that I am fully capable of interfacing with of my physicality that I previously regarded as impossible to connect with like blood flow, internal energy, successful breathing, and various parts of my brain.

While it could be argued that certain notions of “emptying” the cup could be misconstrued as more of a right hand path philosophy I would argue that the “loss of self” that is experienced by learning to stimulate Flow through shutting down the prefrontal cortex requires the same control it takes to move our sovereign consciousnesses through the objective universe. “Emptying the cup” is something I do voluntarily for the purpose of stimulating Flow in an effort to connect with my divine pattern through Ekstasis.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Ekstasis: Xeper in the Art of Fighting

The Disguised Gods–Xenia and the Necessary Tension of Xeper

Xenia is a concept engineered by the ancient Greeks which is essentially what we would regard in the postmodern era as hospitality. This idea was fundamental to the Greeks as it served as a cornerstone for human interaction in their households.

There are three rules to Xenia when it comes to the relationship guests and hosts have with one another:

  1. A guest could not insult the host, make demands of the host, or refuse Xenia.
  2. The host could not 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 weren’t necessarily expected to bring gifts but it was considered good Xenia to do so.

Xenia Proper

I find Xenia fascinating for providing–at least in my opinion, the ground work for some of the ideas brought forth in modern Satanism in the twentieth century. It’s no secret that many of the ideas expressed in “The Satanic Bible” were quite literally lifted from the likes of Ragnar Redbeard’s “Might is Right,” Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” Anton LaVey’s “Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” are no exception to this re-appropriation of good ideas. The similarities between Xenia and the following should come to no surprise:

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

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

Rule three is essentially the guests’ rule for Xenia. Rule four, however, is much more curious. It goes without saying that the hostess should put every effort to insure her guest’s comfort and needs. What isn’t overtly spelled out in the ancient Greek concept of Xenia that is in LaVey’s “Eleven Rules” is the course of action the hostess should take if bad Xenia is expressed towards her and her household. Here LaVey essentially wrote the unwritten rule to the concept of Xenia.

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The ancient Greeks were very well aware of this “unwritten rule.” The repercussions for displaying bad Xenia in another individual’s household popped up again and again in many popular examples of ancient Greek literature. The best example comes at the end Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the death of Penolope’s suitors who give a great example of how to be bad guests in another person’s home, eating and drinking large quantities with no respect for Odysseus, his son Telemachus, and Penelope. They were also more or less squatters taking up residence in Odysseus’s home for over three years. This line towards the end of the “The Odyssey” foreshadows their fate with regards to their transgression towards the unwritten rule of Xenia:

“For these were laughing aloud as they prepared a dinner that was sweet and staying, for they had made a very big sacrifice; but there could not be a meal that was more unpleasant than this one, such was to be the attack that the powerful man and the goddess would make on them. For they had first begun the wrongdoing.” (Homer 308)

The Disguised Gods–Lesser Black Magic for the subtle

One aspect of Xenia that intrigues me most is something I like to call the disguised god. Essentially what this entails is using a disguise to test a person’s true character towards you. During the course of “The Odyssey” both the goddess Athene and Odysseus use disguise as a method to confirm the sincerity of others towards their expression of proper Xenia. Penelope’s would-be suitors would eventually pay with their lives for coming to blows with the rules of Xenia, with Odysseus killing them all off at the end of the poem.

This concept can be applied when we come into contact with various sources of new information through our interaction with the multitudes of people constantly coming into and out of our lives. Picture your mind as a house. Information coming in from outside of yourself are guests in your house. Without a constant flow of information coming in and out of your “house” it would be impossible for you to be able to refine yourself in such a way that you are able to understand the things that make you tick–as well as what your limitations might be. Using Xenia with regards to your “mind-house” allows for one way of apprehending the necessary tensions in order to encounter Xeper.

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The knee jerk reaction to topics of discussion and/or people we disagree with is embodied by LaVey’s fourth rule of the earth. It is vital to recognize that our natural reactions mean to treat these things “cruelly and without mercy.” In postmodern society, we encounter this on a regular basis. Perhaps this is one of the reasons you should never bring up politics or religion in a bar. Some liberals, blue-haired man-hating femininsts, Nazis, men’s rights activists, Christians, and even Satanists, really under-emphasize their love for existing within self-contained echo chambers. These echo chambers may be called something else, such as a “community of like minded people,” a “congregation,” or a “coven.” While I will not discount the advantages of having a group like this to be a part of, if every person shared the same ontological and spiritual views it would be one boring planet.

Being able to argue with individuals who share other perspectives without killing each other, or taking personal offense to potential discussions serves as a springboard for bringing about tension to understand, shift, or solidify your own views that much better. In the context of the mental household and how it relates to Xenia, it’s important to recognize that a little tension helps to strengthen character as well as the ability to present an argument outside of the echo chamber of whatever demographic you belong or don’t belong to.

I’m all for a healthy argument, and we do in fact need tension in our initiatory pursuits to be able to experience Xeper. Where we must be aware that we should be able to have civil conversations with individuals that exist outside of our echo chambers, we must also be aware that there are people who will never be able to argue outside of their own. Many of these people aren’t bad per se, they just choose to attach existential limitations onto their views.

In my opinion, by employing the concept of the disguised god in situations like these you are also employing the rules of Xenia by essentially closing doors to the potential for a productive discussion–because there absolutely cannot be one.

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You never want to reveal vital personal details about yourself when testing character. Pulling back the curtain ever so slightly when appropriate is enough. The disguised god is a lot like being an inquisitor that cannot be seen. Allowing a person to tell me all about themselves or whatever they would prefer to talk about is a good strategy in extracting information I might find pertinent. The intention is to always disclosing their true natures whether they’re conscious of it or not. Also it’s important to keep in mind more than what an individual is actually saying. For example, body language, mode of dress, the way a person carries themselves, changes in voice inflection, and above all the eyes are a good way to delve deeper into a person’s character.

In the context of determining true natures, Xenia can provide simple rules to engage others by. These rules can provide an invaluable tool in the exploration of your own beliefs by opening yourself up to the right amount of necessary tension that may illicit a positive change or growth to your worldview.

 

 

 

 

The Disguised Gods–Xenia and the Necessary Tension of Xeper

Rûna Goes Meta

Meta is a term that’s been kicking around in various gaming communities for a few years now. When we talk about meta in a game it is the self-referential process which something must be done in order to arrive at a satisfying conclusion. I.E. Winning. This process can be changed and can evolve with time through trial and error. Meta urges players like Rûna urges initiates to seek out the proverbial “hidden.” For instance when you sit down and play a game like Guilty Gear X2 meta compels players to act and react in certain ways against other players. As older strategies for dealing with other players become common place, meta-game evolves as a way to leverage potential future victories against your fellow competitors.

Meta, much like Rûna is able to be applied to how we form questions and answers, discover solutions to old problems, and arrive at new questions as a result of those solutions. Compelling literature and television shows, can offer a microcosmic depiction of how the process of Rûna can work and how it also is meta at the same time.

Rûna is what you might call an impelling word. Through Rûna we are driven to seek out seemingly hidden questions and unknown curiosities that burn deep within the mythos of the self. She whispers simplicity to which we reply with dissatisfaction.

First time viewers to the anime (巌窟王) “Gankutsuou,” an adaptation of Dumas’s “The Count of Monte Cristo” is an example of how our curiosity for the world we cannot see can drive us to obsessive investigation. Who is the Count? Why is he making an effort to become acquainted with Albert? What is his relationship to Mercedes? etc.

In the fantasy microcosm that is Gankutsuou we are exposed to a world that is filled with more and more questions. When new details are brought into focus, our perception warps triggering false positives, blurring our interpretation of previous questions we may have had before.

When we witness the mysterious we are driven by our curiosity to discover what makes it so. This is what makes Rûna is an impelling word. This force of curiosity is also the primary cause of how the meta-game in various gaming communities are both created and destroyed.

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“Gankutsuou” is an exercise in how the mind can work when exposed to a body of work that provides few answers. It replaces these answers with whispers of details that provide the viewer/witness with questions, and questions within questions. These questions are intentionally meant to steer us off course. And in order to illicit an emotional response through the resolution of the process that is “Gankutsuou” we must be bombarded by an extended session of false answers and questions. This allows us to witness a transformation of the hidden into an unexpected tragic loss of life or ideals.

It’s all very meta. Of course, Rûna in it of itself is meta. You have a question about something that’s completely unknown to you? Try to find the answer. You’ll always find a bombardment of more questions, many of which often reference one another. The subtle irony in all of this is the simple idea that when we arrive at an answer we will always find a way to pose another question as to why we’ve arrived at that specific answer.

In an initiatory sense, the process of becoming is also meta. Lady Rûna urges you to evolve through her “Awaken, See, Act” mantra only to have you start once again when you reach your next preferred state of existence. Initiation is a room of mirrors stretching into the very limits of your desire to continue with it.

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Application–Awaken, See, Act

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve spent the better part of the last year just completely at a loss of what I needed to do in order to feel “whole.” It’s hasn’t been an easy ride. Leaving New England last June meant I was leaving all of the things that I used to do in that space.

The only thing guiding me through this new and unknown life in the desert of Arizona has been my curiosity for the possible. Rûna, like a fly buzzing in my ear has been urging me to seek out new avenues in which I can be sovereign in this new space. I’ve had a lot of false starts–I even tried to do some of the same things I did back in Massachusetts.  Unfortunately, I’ve come up short every time.

One of the things I’ve become hyper focused on in my life through this period of trial and error is an investigation of what it means to live a balanced lifestyle. This is directly related to how I view myself in an unfettered sovereign environment. It is also related to how I view myself in general.

If achieving a more balanced lifestyle is the answer to my current dissatisfaction in my life then how do I get there?

A balanced lifestyle only has one law: don’t spread out too much into one direction. It’s all too easy to become too situated into an easy lifestyle, which means having concern for being comfortable. In the 21st century, the easy lifestyle means spending 80% of your day on your ass and the other 20% finding ways to spend it there. We relax entirely too much. Relaxation has its place, but it isn’t something that makes me feel particularly  fulfilled.

I need strife. So where do I find it? Over the last year, I slacked real hard on physical activity. In New England, I used to work a job where I was on my feet all day. I now work a job where I sit at a desk all day. Add that to a rather sedentary lifestyle at home and you have a recipe for disaster.

The question I’ve had for myself over the last nine months was, “What can I do to add something physical to my lifestyle?” I assessed what I knew and came up with several possibilities.

Running isn’t all that fun. I used to run five miles four times a week with my Rhodesian Ridgeback. It sucked. Anyone that says it’s amazing is wrong. Running sucks. Stop lying to yourself, the human body isn’t made to run long distances like that. Aerobics also suck. I used to do that a few times a week as well. Both are hard on the knees, and both aren’t especially cerebral. I’ve never been the kind of person to enjoy team sports, or lift weights either. So what else is there?

I played with the idea of doing Wing Chun for MONTHS. I really liked the style after watching Ip Man four times in a row one day. I never acted on the idea, however, since the only place to learn it in Tucson that wasn’t a McDojo was an hour drive from my apartment. Long drives can get brutal. I eventually settled on joining a group that did Tai Chi at our local Chinese Cultural Center. I went religiously every Tuesday and soon caught on that it was a club for 60+ singles to bang after class. I discovered that Tai Chi had some things I liked, although it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Especially when it came to joining in on extra curricular activities with people twice my age. I’m sure they would’ve loved that.

Old. Hairy. Balls. SAY NO MORE. I’M ALL SET.

My search continued. It was clear that I wanted to do martial arts. I spent more time looking, researching, visiting places to pursue my interest in martial arts further. Like a fly buzzing in my ear, my fiance kept mentioning a dojo to me that he tried a class out at last summer. He said they did three hour training sessions twice a week, which had scared him away from it. They did this weird style of martial art I had never heard of–Bagua Zhang. The best part? The dojo was less than a mile away in a re-purposed villa down a hidden road.

I was scared. I decided to email them for more information, to which they said I should come down and give it a try. I asked my fiance if I’d be okay going down there on my own, and he seemed to think that I would. I was still scared despite having his vote of confidence. The attention that one woman can get in a place swamped with a bunch of men can be intimidating.

In the end, I decided to make the short drive out to their dojo to investigate whether or not this was something I could get on board with.

The dojo was very traditional. I was greeted by two evil looking chinese guardian lions on the outside, and four very quiet people on the inside slapping the shit out of their bodies. They were warming up. I jumped in. The dojo had a nice vibe to it. Wooden chinese style shutters. No a/c. No punishing fluorescent lights. There were paintings of various Wudang masters all around us. There was a huge imposing statue on the far end. The training session was oddly quiet. I felt like I could genuinely hear myself think in there. My workday melted away. I came back for another session. And then another. And another.

I had just successfully added meaningful physical activity to my weekly routine. And besides, how many people do you know have a bunch of old Wudang masters watching them workout for six hours a week? I know at least one now!

I’m by no means near the end of my never ending pursuit of the hidden. As I’ve come to find out in my practice of Bagua Zhang there is so much I don’t know about myself. There are so many variables to consider that I was never aware of–for example, making deliberate movements requires an intense control over your consciousness. I feel like in the practice of this art I’m somehow interfacing with a part of myself I never knew. In the previous iterations of myself I always regarded myself to be an intellectual. For some reason though, while Bagua is an intense and difficult workout I have been excelling at it. Much to my surprise. I never knew I had this much belly fire. Maybe I actually have the capacity to be physically “intellectual.” Might as well give it the old college try while I’m young.

I mean what’s the worst that can happen? I develop a lifelong practice that will prove everything I used to think about myself wrong?

Conclusion

Part of figuring out where we want to go in life has to do with finding our own answers. Like a math problem we’re often given the answer first. Curiosity for what hides behind the value of X, is the why, the how, and the means to arrive at the desired answer. Sometimes you don’t get it the first or second time. Sometimes you don’t even get it the third time around. Pursuing wonder is what drives the working initiate forward into the places he or she wants to go. Losing that sense of wonder takes them away from it.

Reyn til Rûna!

 

 

 

 

Rûna Goes Meta

Buying the Self

I woke up this morning and realized that I’m not okay. I realized that I am an easy going person. That I don’t let anything bother me. Even if those things should bother me. I blow them off with laughter, put on a facade, or use selective hearing to block them out. I figure that if my brain doesn’t register something as a conflict then I can avoid it.

For as long as I can remember I’ve regarded myself to be an autonomous individual. But honestly, that couldn’t be so far from the truth. I’m evasive. I care what other people think, and what I say always takes a back seat to the agendas of others.

Being an easy going person is wonderful for everyone–except yourself. You make certain concessions to your personality that allow you to “overlook” the shortcomings of others. To concepts that you disagree with. And to the situations that you could’ve avoided all together if you would’ve just put your foot down instead of doing the nice thing.

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The nice thing isn’t always the right thing. And as I’ve come to realize sometimes the right thing isn’t always nice. 

Courage is what makes this especially troubling to deal with. I tend to be naturally scared of the world. Of doing things. Of doing the things I like to do. Of telling people what I think. Typically, if the risk is too high I don’t bother to take it for fear of what might happen if I do.

It’s easy to look at initiation and simply say, “it’s hard.” Yeah–it’s hard. But that’s not enough of a reason to understand why it’s like that. Over the course of my own initiatory work I’ve become bombarded by ideas, personalities, and concepts that beg for you to accept them as valuable and worthy of assimilation into your own sense of self. At the end of the day though, the difference between a successful examination of these three things and a failed one is determined by a fine line how much of it you actually buy into.

The situation: You join the Temple of Set. You become excited at all the possibilities of having a magical school in your back pocket to use as a tool for your own initiation. You shred through all the materials available to you in the Crystal Tablet and at the end of the day you’re nodding your head. You agree with everything that you’ve read. And seeing that you’re in this for the long haul–you can’t afford to fail in understanding the basic ideas brought forth to you during your mutual evaluation period.

You’re sucking up this bombardment of ideas so fast that you’re absorbing none of it. And you’re losing the ideas so quickly that you don’t have any way to clean yourself up long enough to make any sense of it. Yes, the Setian method of initiation is messy. But make no mistake, there are no shotgun weddings in the Temple of Set.

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So you got your blue belt in a year at your local McDojo. What a badass you are. I’m sure you earned it. You earned that blue belt in a year because you bought into it. With money. Just so your Ted Danson lookalike of a sensei could proclaim that you had the skills to pay his bills with your credit card. At least you look smooth in that gi.

I’m rolling my eyes right about now.

Cultivating self-honesty is partially responsible for why initiation is exceedingly difficult to continue paying attention to over time.

Nothing in your world worth doing is ever easy.

And just because you understand something doesn’t mean that you must also agree with it.

Buying into every idea that comes your way makes you less of an individual. Being open to the possibility of philosophical, ethical, and logical divergence, however, does make you become more like yourself. Having the bellyfire to disagree with an idea, a concept, or a person gives you a good indicator that you’re headed in the right (or should I say left?) direction that’s both unique and individual to your initiatory needs.

And that babycakes, is why Xeper is endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying the Self

Attachment and Initiation—The Obsessive Struggle

The first thing I want to talk about is my current understanding of Xeper. The tried and true “Coming into Being,” and “Mindful Evolution” are great and wonderful, but it’s important for me to define Xeper in order to understand how I’ve applied it to my own initiation. This is tough, because in order define what Xeper is, I have to experience it first.

Initiation is hard. There are no supervisors to make sure that I’m doing right. I have to know what I’m doing while I’m doing it. I have to be honest with myself. I have to be heroic. I have to volunteer myself, to myself, for myself. Initiation is not about how big my ego is, it’s about the work I’m doing to make me into the “best me,” the best version of myself, and remembering that there will always be another “best me” to strive for, when I never get there.

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Initiation as the Ouroboros

How I define Xeper

Xeper – the adaptation of subtle self-awareness.

It’s the re-discovery of a thing you should know and then applying that recognition to a method of understanding to stimulate growth within the self.

I’m going to tell a story about something that happened to me rather recently. It’s about the obsessive struggle.

What is obsessive struggle?

Xeper. Cell division. Once. Twice. Three times. Where does it stop?

Experience. From here there is no return.

By my very nature I am an angry person. I usually wake up every morning around 3:45am and I’m on the road by 4:30am. I like routine. But when any little thing gets in the way of that routine, I flip out. If I can’t find my keys—I yell. If someone cuts me off on the way to work, I “what the fuck” all the way there. If someone knocks on my office door when I’m on a phone call—I lose my shit. I’ll always put on a nice face when I answer, but you can be sure that I’m annoyed at the prospect of having to get up from my desk for a stupid question and a stupid person.

I tend to keep to myself. My nose often buried in a book during my lunch breaks. I hardly speak. I’m even less inclined to say anything when I hear tall white men discuss their sometimes erotic sounding love for their lord and savior Jesus Christ. It’s a little bananas in Arizona. It really makes me miss New England—not the winters of course. I miss being within reach of more—how can you say, down to earth people? Lesbians looking off bridges. Theatre auditions. Chocolate peppermint brownies for lunch. When I moved to Arizona, I was all in, and now, I’m not so sure. I won’t be staying here for good. I have “big plans.” An endgame so to say. My day job? Merely a tool to get me to that point. I don’t have to work, but I like having my own money. Autonomy. A day job can do that. Going through the motions. Working in that small office is the least important thing in my life, by far. Although, I often find my time there to be somewhat magical. So, I keep to myself and observe the comings and goings of my workplace.

I had a co-worker in late December spread some pretty nasty rumors about me. I was kind of surprised. And even though I have anger issues—I’m well-mannered. I always have been. When I was made aware of this person talking shit to everyone in the building I felt like an attack had been carried out on my never ending obsessive struggle. I felt like everyone else knew something about me that I did not. This was a problem. It was a problem, because reminded me that my past was as real as the surgical scars I now wore. It reminded me of who I was. Who I really was. And that made me angry.

I spent the last ten years of my life in the obsessive struggle of making myself into something I physically couldn’t accommodate. Doctors. Psychologists. Magistrates telling me “no” I couldn’t change my name. Government offices. Airports. Universities. Professors. Surgeons.

Last February, I underwent twelve hours of surgery on my face to feminize it. I was born a male, but I underwent six different procedures to essentially reassign myself a face different than the one I was born with. The surgery included a forehead reconstruction, rhinoplasty, chinplasty, a trachea shave, mandibular reduction, and a lip lift. As my skull was quite masculine to begin with, I felt every procedure to be a necessary one. It hurt. A lot. And despite throwing up buckets of blood when I woke up, the surgery was a success. The changes brought about by this immensely invasive trip to the doctor’s office made my life much easier to deal with. I can’t begin to tell you, what a delight it’s been to feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.

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A co-worker came into my office one day late in December and told me some disappointing information.

“Do you know Hooker Bitch?”
“Can’t say that I do.” I said.
“You know that chick who has the grandma hair?”
“Oh yeah…” I laughed.
“She’s been telling people that you were born a man.”

I was so pissed off that I couldn’t see straight. My focus narrowed. After work I went to the Fourth Avenue street fair with my fiancé. Smiling faces. Pinball machines. People asking me to sign petitions to legalize everything. I should’ve been having a good time. But, the only thing on my mind was getting revenge against this person for blowing my cover. I needed to weigh in on the alternatives.

Let’s take a step back.

I had been through too much to let this hooker-bitch bother me. And yet I did.

I felt compromised. The obsessive struggle somehow invalidated.

I considered several alternatives in dealing with the situation.

1. I could openly confront her about it.
2. Go to HR. Yeah right—they never help with anything.
3. Find a new job.
4. Do a destruction working against her.

“I’m a black magician,” I thought. “Let’s toss some lightning bolts around.” And so I did a pretty nasty destruction working. Three weeks later, this girl was on leave of absence for some kind of illness she had developed out of thin air.

Mission accomplished…

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Hooker-Bitch started a witch hunt against an actual witch. And that pissed me off. She embodied everything I hated about the Christian rednecks here in Arizona, and I wanted to see her suffer for talking shit.

Let’s get real here for a minute. Destruction workings are too easy. Why? I mean, would I be willing to pull the trigger on someone instead of doing a destruction working if I could get away with it? The answer? Always no. That would mean destroying myself. I would be put away for life–or worse. Totally. Not. Worth it.

Hooker-Bitch wasn’t worth the expenditure of energy. Knowing this–the real question is: why did I commit to doing a destruction working against this person if I wouldn’t even be capable of picking up a gun, let alone pulling the trigger?

Why did I do it?

The answer is simple, but not so simple. I wanted to feel powerful. Although, there was another aspect to this that I was overlooking.

Was I understanding myself? What was the driving force behind my lust to feel powerful?

If I wasn’t going to ask the tough questions then nobody would.

I wasn’t confronting something. Something important. My problems weren’t with Ms. Hooker-Bitch. That was obvious. As far as I knew I outed myself. My name is plastered all over Google in LBGT related topics and interviews from when I lived in New England. I mean really–how far could I run away from the facts?

At this point in the game, I still wasn’t understanding the problem.

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In Tucson, we are surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. When I need to mentally digest something, my fiancé and I hop into the car, find a trail-head, park, and we start walking. I like the desert for the silence. I can hear myself think when I’m there.

During one of my many walks following this incident, I felt bothered and confused by the results of my destruction working. Not because of what happened to my target—but because I couldn’t justify wasting my energy like that no matter how many ways I tried to look for a good reason.

A quote from MindStar:

“As Plato illustrated in the Meno, the underlying basis of all knowledge – the primal building-blocks upon which learning and reasoning depend on their accuracy and coherence – are inherent to each incarnate intelligence: anamnesis – “recollective awareness of the neteru/Forms.” In non-metaphysical terms, humans know “instinctively” whether they are thinking reasonably and without validity.”  (Aquino 72)

You see, I did the destruction working when my feelings were on auto-pilot. And by auto-pilot, I mean, even though my anger was directed at this person during the course of my working, I did the working without awareness. All I cared about was doing something that would make me feel strong and powerful.

I did the working on impulse. With emotion. It takes a titanic effort to see things from the outsides of ourselves. It takes patience and self-love. It takes compassion. And a lot writing in our journals. At the moment in which I was at my lowest, I chose to act. And I chose poorly—I compromised my ethics. My values. I forgot to pay myself before I paid everyone else. I instinctively knew that I wasn’t thinking reasonably or with validity. I just chose not to see it.

Addicted to Water

I had to dig deeper. I had to continue to ask why. The ancient Egyptian spell for crossing the desert. I always think about this when I visit the trail-heads outside of Tucson.

Ipsissimus Webb writes:

“The spell [for crossing the desert] is not intended for illustrative purposes, although it does illustrate the myth of Creation. It was an operative spell for survival across the expanse of the desert. This is an interesting moment. You are leaving behind the Known and are entering the Unknown. The Known is the divine land of Khem, before you the Unknown desert with its mirages, bandits, scorpions, sandstorms, etc. Beyond that are the foreign lands ruled by Set. What do you say as a charm? Not a prayer to Set, whose lands you were entering. Not a prayer to the familiar gods of Egypt. No, a statement of one’s Coming Into Being as the Creator. Now why would this be protective? Or more to the point, what was being protected?

The answer is that it is not protective of the body. It’s not a prayer for rain, nor a cantrip for food, nor a conjuration against desert brigands. It is for the soul. The smart traveler has already taken care of the body’s needs in the proper realm. They’ve stored food and water; they’ve sharpened their swords. But now they pause — at the edge of the Unknown — to strengthen their mind/soul. They are going into a realm where they may lose their purpose– even die in a distracted manner. What better time than using the urgency of an upcoming struggle to Work for the immortalization of the mind/soul?”

The obsessive struggle. A foreigner in an unknown land? Me? I was from New England. Arizona made me uneasy. Call it peaceful hostility. The years I spent becoming the person I am today. Preparing myself for the unknown desert. My sword—sharpened. I was angry at Hooker-Bitch because I forgot the first reason I started this unending journey through the desert of myself in the first place. I was putting too much, far too much, emotional currency on my physical self as opposed to remembering who I was at the core.

Anamnesis. First forms. Neteru.

As I walked through the desert with my fiance, he said a word that reminded me of something Immortan Joe said from Mad Max: Fury Road:

“Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.”

The one word he said to me was: “Attachment.”

I was addicted to water. What do I mean by this? The destruction working was a waste of resources. I became fixated on the things that caused me to be angry because I didn’t fully understand how to apply the situation to a method of understanding. Let’s get real—at the time, I didn’t want to. My problem was that I was constantly looking for validation of what I was physically instead of just knowing it for myself. I was attached to my body. I was attached to time. To my youth. To my past. All of these ever slipping through my hands like sand in an hourglass. I set myself up to be hurt. And I was put into a corner. I reacted on impulse without rationalization. I forgot my ethics. And more importantly I forgot myself. I was angry because I began to resent water’s absence. Ten years of work, come and gone. I had to let go. I had to stop being addicted to the past that made me who I was, and start living in the present in order to continue pulling myself forward towards the unknown matrix of the future. Change—is scary.

Attachment is the root. It is entropy. Attachment is fear. I should’ve known this. I had just forgotten.

My reactionary, impulsive, use of a destruction ritual was a Remanifestion of a negative pattern. It’s likely that I’ll do it again. But it’s also less likely that I won’t. Why? I have this experience to draw from. To actively change the course of the future. It’s here where I will stimulate growth within myself with the subtle self awareness to KNOW how I naturally want to react in situations like this. My capriciousness isn’t a newly discovered weakness. I had just forgot about it. Through this ordeal, I have come to recognize that it is there, and that it is mine.

Conclusion

The obsessive struggle. Why does it have to be obsessive? That only means that I am attached. And attachment? Attachment means standing still. That I want to stand still. Do I really?

Goethe wrote that:

“Until you discover and accept yourself fully, you won’t have the conviction or the courage to be free. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

How do you learn to know yourself? You remember who you are. You remember what you need. You keep asking why, even when you don’t want to. To become, you must overcome.

Some logic.

If standing still means being destroyed when things change, when routine is broken, when water becomes scarce then I want nothing to do with it. It’s perfectly okay to be angry. Everyone gets angry. What is not okay is to become attached to things that cause that anger. Attachment is misery. It’s so very easy to destroy. It’s easy to stay addicted to water as we cross the deserts of ourselves, even if we know that that water is poisoned. What’s difficult is to build. To be the creator. To not mind matter, but to mind the self. That’s how you cross the desert and learn to finally live.

Attachment and Initiation—The Obsessive Struggle

The Intent Funnel: Practical Typhonian Magic for the Practical Typhonian

Back in 2011 I had a really tough choice to make. It was a little after a year since I rebounded from rock bottom. The year before I was so broke that I almost prostituted myself in order to pay for tuition to one of the many expensive New England universities. As my bills closed in all around me, I desperately started applying for jobs everywhere. Somehow, by some immense luck I was hired to work the world’s shittiest retail job. This job wasn’t glamorous or fun by any means, but it paid the bills. By the end of 2011 I decided that I had a choice:

1. Finish my school and be more in debt than I could ever hope to pay back with the English degree I was going for.

or

2. Buckle up and work my ass off in order to work towards paying for facial feminization.

I chose to buckle up.

Fast forward to 2015, it was a solid choice that paid off. I’m always worried that I’m a goddamn quitter, but I suppose that’s not an accurate observation of myself. I’m just not a multi-tasker—because who believes in that bullshit phenomena? I had the foresight to understand the needs of my big SELF and ran with it. If I had decided to go the school route I probably would’ve ended up quitting eventually anyway.

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During this four year period, I read absolutely nothing. Unless you count Kotaku, but let’s get real, Kotaku doesn’t count. Reading Kotaku is more like reading a coloring book. I probably killed more brain cells reading it than if I had read nothing at all. Amidst all of this heavy mental lifting I ultimately decided in late 2014 that I needed something to rekindle my reading spirit. Enter Ipssismus Don Webb’s book “The Seven Faces of Darkness: Practical Typhonian Magic” (#2AG). I was drawn to this book for a few reasons:

1. Its scarcity. At the time there weren’t any reprints available for any of Ipsissmus Webb’s more popular Rûna-Raven books. It made me want to get a hold of it even more.

2. I had just finished marathoning American Horror Story: Coven. This show was rocket fuel for me.  It definitely inspired me to investigate the Left Hand Path moreso than I had done in the past.

3. At the time, I recently played Bayonetta 2 and replayed Bayonetta 1. As someone who once sang about dissecting angels in a Satanic Black Metal band I felt connected with Bayonetta on a visceral level. A witch that kicked angels asses? I could see myself doing that. What was the next best thing? Investigating the writings of Ipsissmus Webb of course! I can’t explain how that works into any kind of rational thought, but that’s how it went!

Initially, I decided against buying (#2AG) in light of the fact that it was going for almost $300 USD on Amazon. I found a really crappy PDF copy of this book online that I had to reformat. I eventually ended up buying physical copies of Ipsissimus Webb’s entire Rûna-Raven backlog from Lodestar after they were re-printed earlier this year (2015).

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As someone who knew absolutely nothing about traditional ceremonial magic “The Seven Faces of Darkness” proved to be an invaluable resource. If I could call (#2AG) anything I would call it a crash course in what it means to be a practical traveler upon the seemingly not-so-practical roads of the Left Hand Path initiate. The Left-Hand Path isn’t exactly the easiest thing to understand from the outside looking in. “Seven Faces” gave me a small taste on some of the more intricate aspects of a traditional magical system–Hermeticism, without overwhelming me with the drier details. Those drier details I found later in other books like Ipsissimus Flowers “Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris” (#3Y), and Franz Bardon’s “Initiation into Hermetics.”

I will admit, upon my first reading of “The Seven Faces of Darkness” I felt very confused about what I needed to take away from it. I found Chapter 6 on “Spells” to incredibly useless—at first. The selection of the PGM (Papyri Graecae Magicae) available in this chapter is home to some pretty heinous shit. The first time I read the words for the Coptic spell “Oil Spell for Sealing a Marriage with Hot Sex” I laughed a little bit. I couldn’t ever see myself using most of these spells within the context of how they were written. As I look back at them a year later, I see something different. I see examples–models which I can apply to my own workings.

As a former English major I take an interest in understanding context. Especially with details that might not be entirely apparent at first glance. For example, Dante’s “Inferno” can be interpreted as an allegory for the political conflict going on in Florence during the 14th century between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. Dante even puts people he actually knew in real life, like Filippo Argenti, in the poem.

(Incoming EXTREMELY loaded paragraphs…)

Of course, understanding the historical context of something seven hundred years old isn’t nearly as difficult as trying to ascertain the “assumed” to be second and third century contextual meanings of Hermeticism. I say assumed, because there are so many details we don’t know about Marsilio Ficino’s translation of the “Corpus Hermetica.” The “Corpus Hermetica” was “lost” during the middle ages but magically reappeared after the de Medici family acquired it somewhere in Byzantine.

Alchemy was in vogue during the Renaissance and much of the Ficino translation—appears to be biased towards the “lead to gold” obsession of the seventeenth century. Regardless, let’s assume his translation is based off of authentic texts used to compile the Hermetic Corpus. It’s still not first hand information. I would say it’s more like third or fourth hand information. Contextually, much of what we have from Ficino’s translation is through the lens of the seventeenth century alchemical philosophy and not from the entire perspective of the second century author(s) of the Hermetic Corpus.

canto 14 the inferno The Violent tortured in the rain of fire

Much of what the original authors of the PGMs were going for have been all but lost. Unless, of course, we take an educated guess as to what they were going for and applying that knowledge to what we know about Greek, Coptic, and Demotic traditions and languages.

Ipsissimus Webb writes, “Postmodern theories argues that magical language isn’t gibberish, but an appropriate form of discourse with another realm of existence.” (15) I appreciate the fact that he included a detailed analysis of three Hermetic workings in Chapter 2. It breaks down the seemingly confusing  spells as models for further assumed understanding of magical formulae. We can be apply this model to other Initiatory practices/traditions.

The PGM may seem especially dangerous to those unfamiliar with it, in light of the fact that we don’t necessarily understand the context of, or the exact precise meaning or pronunciations of words written down in these works. When we say words like “BOLCHOSÊTH” without any knowledge as to what that word means, what is that doing for us? For all we know when we say this word our subjective interaction with it might send an encoded message to ourselves that may cause some unintended consequence in our “world.” Though, this sort of superstitious Mickey Mouse bullshit sounds closer to a Right Hand Path contextual understanding of the PGM.

Herein lies the most interesting aspect to (#2AG). When does historical context become useless in terms of applying it to the use of magical technology?

Even after we begin to recognize simple formulaic words such as BOLCHOSÊTH as “Ba’al strikes Set” are we even pronouncing it correctly (BOLE-CHO-SEET)? For all we know this could be the wrong pronunciation of the word. We don’t know for sure! We’re two thousand years away from understanding the actual implied context of the words found in the PGM. For all we know pronouncing BOLCHOSÊTH as “BOLE-CHO-SEET” with a hard “T” sound at the end instead of a soft “TH” sound could make the word mean something entirely different.

For a more up to date example let’s look at the Japanese words for cute and scary:

Scary is kowai (怖い,こわい) . ko – why

psycho

Cute is kawaii (可愛い,かわいい) ka – wa – ii

cute

Notice senpai–that these words sound awfully similar to the Western ear. However, they mean the exact opposite thing in relationship to one another. One lazy delayed pronunciation of 可愛い (kawaii) might make your Japanese friends think your waifu is a scary bitch! Case in point, you used a word with the wrong pronunciation and it produced a different result than you anticipated.

For another example see “Army of Darkness” and Ash trying to say the words “klaatu barada nikto” correctly:

“WAIT A MINUTE. EVERYTHING’S COOL. I SAID THE WORDS. I DID!”

So why is all of this vital to our usage of ancient magical technology?

Well—the fact of the matter is, context isn’t all that important. Unless of course you’re using the PGMs or magical technology like it under the veil of superstition. Only then does context become everything. This why magical technology, in general, can be dangerous to use. If your subjective sense of self perceives a misalignment of context to be dangerous in the usage of magical technology then it will pose an actual danger to your subjective self.

Seeing beyond this, my biggest takeaway from (#3AG)  with regards to magic is that magic comes from you. It doesn’t come from saying ABLANATHANALBA sixteen times or from the trappings of the ritual chamber. Magic comes from you, and the only thing that is vitally important to its use is intent. Everything else is auxiliary to the usage of the PGM or other forms of magical technology. Understanding how to formulate more and more accurate forms of intent in the magical chamber is much like habit forming (think neuroplasticity)–it takes practice. Webb writes “The magician will (after practice) free him-or herself from the text, and as each successful immortalization of the soul occurs, the magician begins to act on a more and more divine level. For the advanced magician every act becomes a magical one. He or she is said to have become magic (heka) itself.” (39)

Acting on a “more and more divine level” screams to me as being able to form clearer and more clearer routes of concise and exact modes of intent in the magical chamber. We practice this “freeing” from the text as Ipsissimus Webb writes in order to get magic to do what we want it to do, which may not be what the authors’ of the original texts had intended for a working . “Each successful immortalization of the soul” or intent is accomplished by practicing this over and over again. Only when we truly “say what we mean and mean what we say” with regards to our intent in the usage of magical technology can we “become heka” itself.

intent
The Intent Funnel
I created a graph called “The Intent Funnel” to illustrate the various levels of effectiveness in terms of formulating an accurate intent for workings. You can chart intent on this graph based its specificity. The more specific the intent the better—obviously. The more vague, the easier it is to read anything as a possible result from your workings. I tend to think this is bad, especially in operative workings where you’re trying to accomplish a specific thing. A vague example of intent in an operative working would be “I want to be rich!” You didn’t say by what means you wanted to be rich, and you didn’t give yourself a time frame. You also didn’t even say what you wanted to be rich in. For all you know you could become rich in sorrow! Which is why this sounds like a vague mode of intent to me. That would be charted right at the very top of the graph.

intent2
Examples of Intent and where they chart on the funnel.
On the other hand, an example of a more specific mode of intent would sound something like this: “I want to go to Harvard to study astrophysics with Dr. Von Loki and graduate in 2019.” This would be charted closer to the bottom of the graph as it is much more specific than the first example.

To conclude, Intent is not wishing for something to happen. Intent is like a GPS, and magical technology is like the car. The destination is the result of a working. You may want to go down the road that might result in making you part of the nouveau-riche elite, but unless you program your GPS with precision, you might be taking the long way to get there.

The Intent Funnel: Practical Typhonian Magic for the Practical Typhonian