I was in this warehouse full of bodies. It was freezing. Black and white tile floors.
I had a choice to choose a synthetic body to inhabit. Let’s call this synthetic body an “ideal vessel” for my consciousness. This huge silver machine clicked on and gazed directly into my everything. I remember a cold shift occur, and one moment I was standing in my old body, the next I was looking at it through a new pair of eyes. My old body fell to the floor in a lifeless pile and was swept away by this huge silver scraper into these blood gutters morphing it into a gory mess of hair, skin, and bones. It made me feel emotional watching this. Which is interesting because if I now occupied my ideal body who cares about the old one?
My first reading of this dream feels like trying to reconcile attachment to my old body in the same way I might be attached to an old house. It’s lived in, comfy, and I have memories of which I associate that thing with. Everything leaves, dies, goes away. Old bodies. New bodies. All temporary. The conintuum of the higher Self isn’t so easily explained. And despite being so far removed from my old body, I remembered what it was like before. Even though I held issue with my previous body I didn’t dislike it. I liked my old body despite its faults. Which means I’m capable of finding something positive out of what I perceived to be a shitty situation. Getting used to a shift, a change, something new, takes a lot of work and effort.
I enjoy the challenge of being in less than ideal situations. Conflict comes in all levels of the human experience, but are there any that seem less ideal or more difficult than others to successfully live through? I think no. Because no matter what type of existence I lead in a human sense, I will always perceive my own struggles as both the most difficult, important, and unique.
Language. I don’t speak a language even remotely similar to you. Translation: We are similar in that we both share differences.
There’s something to be said about feeling “foreign.” I will always be a foreigner. It’s part of the experience of human existence to feel like a stranger in a strange land. I’m a Martian wherever I go. Even on Mars.
“He who knows (the Dao) does not (care to) speak (about it); he who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it. He (who knows it) will keep his mouth shut.” -Lao Tzu
There’s something to be said about what brings people to the point of joining the Temple of Set. Self-improvement, curiosity, material wealth, all could be possible answers. And honestly, I truly feel that the tools we have here are great at helping anyone willing to put in the work a new world filled with all three of those things. Is that all there really is though?
The nature of objectivity, at least in my estimation, is that it’s incredibly fleeting. It’s extrinsic. It’s temporary. And that fact that all of this (*slaps hands on the floor, desk, my body*) is so temporary feels like motivation enough to live the best way that I can muster while I am pinned to this physical, temporary, and fragile reality. Death drives humanity. It’s a great unknown in the scope of everything we seem to think. To me, My big Truth lies NOT in objectivity. The ironic thing about death and the Lao Tzu quote starts with the opening line “he who knows does not speak.” It reminds me of one of William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell”:
“The dead body revenges not injuries.”
The dead understand the nature of death and yet they cannot speak about it because they have fallen away from all of this—they could also care less about the body they lived in their whole objective lives because there’s an illusory quality to objectivity that I feel is discounted by some of what the basic “fast and dirty” superficial and surface level LHP philosophy has to say regarding the “Truth.”
I know what you’re thinking….
“Nikoletta, would you call getting punched in the face an illusion?”
Speaking from experience, I’ve been punched in the face quite a bit, so I’ll offer my perspective to further clarify where I’m coming from:
No, getting punched in the face is not an illusion. Traumatic physical events can do real damage to the subjective, “real” Self. Especially so when I forget that I shouldn’t get too attached to my body since I’m not going to be in it for long. Getting punched in the face is also bad because it’s has the potential to physically damage the tool in which I use to expand my subjective Self—my objective body.
The terms subjective and objective are tossed around a lot, but they really boil down to what “is” and “isn’t.” And ultimately, in my cosmology, I’m trying to reconcile the usefulness of using either term. The lines of what is and what isn’t often seem to be flipped and interwoven much more than I initially thought. A lot of times, subjectivity seems much more real because damage done to it can’t be healed without a perspective shift. And that requires, at times, making conscious choices that our physical bodies will rebel against. That doesn’t mean denying the body pleasure. But rebellion isn’t as simple as wearing a short skirt even though your dad hates the idea. Rebellion, in my world, lies in the understanding that I can pull mySelf away from automatic behaviors that are comfortable (both physical and mental) through the adept manipulation of my subjective perceptions. Do you think Set slays Apep the same exact way every night? The slice to the jugular isn’t so exciting after you do it over and over again.
When I’m in doubt, I usually find it helpful to just take a good, hard, long look at my Pentagram of Set and muse over the implications that symbol has to my life—both superficially and on an entirely different level that doesn’t cross paths with that superficial objective illusion. Objectivity, has the potential to fool my true Self through the biologically driven ego (that is NOT the Self) into wanting to stay attached to the things that have defined me through the experience of being human. My NeterSelf isn’t concerned with all of this (*waves hands around*) but it/she/him can get caught up in the irrelevant if I give into the things I really don’t want, even though my body might. To quote Blake again—“He who restrains desire does so because his weak enough to be restrained.” I desire to be more than what I am. And if that means making an effort to exercise, and eat as clean as I can afford to, or confront my bad habits, I’m going to do that. Indulgence can go to the over the top extreme of the Duc in “120 Days of Sodom” aka the way of the Libertine, or you can indulge your higher Self in creating habits and lifestyle choices that will make you happier in the long run. Of course, these are all my interpretations.
We all need to create our own cosmology. The tools are all here to make that happen.
The “existence” of Set question is hard. It’s a disservice to mySelf to try and pin down what Set, is, wants, did, etc. All of that is hogwash created by my mind to try and justify the unknown in terms of what it means to be human. I don’t like thinking about Set as the one that gave me his “gift” because, to me, that notion alone is very un-Set like. Set isn’t an immovable mover. Set is the active springing of energy.
ALL OF THAT SAID…
If I were to attempt to personify Set in a limited human sense I would say it like this:
Set is a neter of war, nightmares, conflict, storms, and all around assholery. He doesn’t have time to take pity on a bunch of hairless apes by giving them a gift. The only way that would occur is if those apes were like a giant red button and he just wanted to see what would happen should he press it. Set is chaotic neutral. He might save your life. He might also steal your car. He doesn’t want adherents—unlike other neter. The sha, or Set animal is allegedly imaginary. Imagination is weird. Set is weird. (Set is also Wryd). Humans also have the potential to be weird in the same way. Maybe that’s another reason why I’m here in the Temple of Set—to learn the Weirding (Wyrding) ways like any Self-respecting Bene Gesserit would….
Because, I mean, if we wanna get real serious here all the big life questions usually all circle back to Dune anyway…Star Wars ripped it off, so I guess it’s good enough for me to rip off as well. Of course I’m being facetious, but you should read Dune if you haven’t. Initiatory tools that are also entertainment are hard to resist recommending.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” -Paul Atreides, Dune
The biggest lie that you can ever tell yourself is that you are perfect. I remember a time when I was the paragon of perfection. I was perfect in every single way–I could do no wrong. I was the prettiest. The strongest. The absolute Queen of all and everything. This was a product of a self-imposed solipsism–the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.
In a vacuum, perhaps all of these things would be true, but as far as I can tell, that isn’t reality.
Reality is communication. Without communication you are nothing. Without it, you will never get anything you want or need. Without communication you don’t exist. Humans are created through communication–through the physical transfer of genetic information. We are brought into this world through information communicated to doctors for years before they’re permitted to deliver babies. We are raised through communication, and eventually we discover our true natures through it.
Xepera Xeper Xeperu.
As a millennial, my struggle is vastly different than my parents, and even moreso than their parents. I have had the displeasure of living through the death of the old world, and adapting to the new. When I was little, there was no Internet. If we wanted to communicate, the most convenient method was through using the telephone. I remember writing a physical letter in the fourth grade to Lynn Reid Banks. And she never answered. I probably sent it to the wrong address.
Communication used to be much more visceral. It also used to be much more veiled and hidden than it is now. I remember the first time I logged into America Online sometime back in 1995. Email excited me, but what really got me going was the ability to instantly search for information. I could search for anything that I could possibly imagine. The only limitation in this respect was my imagination. The best part of this? Is that I could do it with some measure of anonymity, free from the judgement of others and what they might think of me for spending way too much time reading about obscure anime that hadn’t yet hit my local Suncoast video.
The Internet was so groundbreakingly wonderful because it gave me a liminal space in which I could be myself, by myself. After being introduced to this channel of nearly unlimited knowledge and information it was hard to even imagine going back to the way things were before.
As a function of being a millennial, I spend a lot of time by myself cruising the Internet for various reasons. To most of us, the Internet is nothing more than a toy to edify our body’s need for endorphins. The danger in this is that reality becomes warped when we don’t get out of the self-imposed internet bubble. As a function of “living” in a bubble, we become warped from confinement, thus creating various complexes within our identities.
In Setian jargon, these complexes are best represented by the serpent Apep, filling us with delusion. The perfection delusion created by embracing solipsism is one that offers comfort, peace of mind, and confidence–so long as our subjective selves do not directly interface with the subjective bubble of somebody else. With the convenience of indirect communication over the wide wide web, many of us have lost our ability to interface with other people directly. Visceral communication is a rare commodity right now. My generation can’t keep their jobs, relationships, or lives in order because we were brought up with Apep constantly whispering lies into our ears. Lies telling us that “we are all special.” I mean, honestly, in a way, we are all special. Each one of us a unique flower. We shouldn’t let that go to our heads though. It limits our ability to understand who we really are.
Being perfect is bullshit. Society in the United States has always been framed around the so-called “American dream.” Nowadays that entails being a baller with shitloads of money, women, the perfect body, the perfect life. You know–being comfortable without a worry in the world. I often imagine the Christian ideal of Heaven to embody this type of situation. I’m pretty sure I would get bored after a few months of living like that. Just send me to Hell already.
If I recall correctly, “the American Dream” used to represent something much more meaningful. It used to mean, escaping the country, the situation, or circumstance that held you down from truly becoming an autonomous human being. Becoming autonomous is a messy, uncomfortable process. Of course, that just makes it all the more exciting. It gives us something to look forward to. It allows us to exercise true freedom through our choices, both good and bad. If we could predict everything, many of us would bet the farm at horse races everyday. I know that I would. But how long would that keep us entertained? And at the end of the day, is mere entertainment true delight? Or just a means to murder mother time?
True delight is derived through communicating your needs to the world. Directly. It comes from finding your tribe. From that physical handshake. The smell of farts in your three hour Yoga class. The discomfort of having to wake up at 4am for work. It comes from doing the things you don’t really want to do, in order to be the person you want to be. It’s okay to hide from the world every now and then. We all need alone time. But Xeper can’t be experienced without the vital ingredient so many of us millennials have grown apart from. Human interaction. Be awkward. Be weird. Be aloof. But remember to communicate. This is your reminder for the month of June to communicate. And to smile when you do it. Even if you have a face only a mother can love.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
Cute is kawaii (可愛い,かわいい) ka – wa – ii
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.
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.
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.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Thoreau
Thirty years ago today, I was born into humble beginnings in the Nakagami District of the Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. Thirty years ago today was born an individual that would grow up to become stronger than her parents could have possibly imagined.
This individual is me.
From the outside looking in, my life has been anything but happy. And yet somehow, I bounced back every time. I lived through immense psychological and physical trauma in my childhood. That only increased during my seemingly short adolescence. By the time I hit nineteen I began to figure out how self-deluded I really was. I had periods of extreme happiness. Triumph. In my early to mid-twenties I had a dark night of the soul. I was defeated. I spent several years becoming addicted to games. I lived those years of my life inside a computer. Then one day in January of 2009, I started to wake myself back up.
My late teens and early twenties I had accomplished a lot. I had a successful band. We were signed to a record label. We were playing out across the country. It was wonderful in some ways, and terrible in others. I did things few people would barely imagine doing. I lost myself in my art.
I became the most unhappy in my life when I lost touch with that side of myself. Sure, I became overwhelmed by depression. But never once did I consider suicide. Deep down, I knew that I alone had the power to change my own destiny. And I did.
I ended up getting myself together. I absconded from the place I never regarded as home. I headed to the East Coast to find myself. And found myself I have.
Here I am, standing at the door to the rest of my life. It’s my thirtieth birthday and I’m sitting here happy. I am a success.
I am not a success because of what I have. Material possessions ultimately mean nothing for happiness. Happiness is achieved when you find the good in everything that happens to you. You decide to be happy. To someone who is happy, we welcome adversity. But we don’t treat it as something that defeats who we are. So what if we fall? What’s the worst that could happen? You have to get up again?
Being successful means living through the tough things that stand in the way of your goals and dreams. Being successful means following through. It means making promises to yourself. It means being honest. It means loving who you are because you are worthy of love.
For the most part bad things happen to people because they want them to happen. Think of bad things as a gift from yourself, to yourself. Good things work in the same way.
Everything is perspective. Never compromise yourself for anything that seeks to destroy who you really are. Including yourself.
You alone are responsible for who you are–for who you are to become. You are an island in a sea of stars.
I’m standing here at the door to the rest of my life–smiling. My childhood is finally over. And I’m standing here at the door to the rest of my life–so proud to be who I have become.