Finding Home

Houston 1

Photo by Ed Schipul

It’s now been nearly a month since the floods started. Houston, my hometown, is no stranger to storms and flooding. I watched from 150 miles inland as my friends and family braced for another big hurricane, stocking up on food and supplies, preparing to “hunker down” and ride out yet another wind and rain-soaked weekend.

As the world knows, things went a bit differently this time. Due to an utterly bonkers storm path, Houston was flooded with an unprecedented 11 trillion(ish) gallons of water over several days of torrential rain.

Houston 2

Photo by Fernando Garcia

I watched from Austin, feeling utterly helpless on one hand, and also full of pride at the resilience and will that Houston was showing to the world. Houston is a misunderstood city, and the vibe of the place has to be experienced before anyone can even begin to grasp its complexity. Houston has hustle, motivation, and gritty creativity. Houston grinds hard.

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Photo by Patrick Feller

About a week after the storm, I got the opportunity to spend a few days there working, to fill in for people who had lost their homes. Driving into the city at night, I was expecting to see darkness and devastation. Instead, I was amazed at how normal everything looked. There were road closures and a lot of areas were still flooded, but overall the city’s resilience filled me with happiness and pride.

When I prepared to come home to Austin later that week, I asked myself why I had felt such a need to come back, and what I had gained from doing it. I had occasionally gone back to Houston for family or social functions, but I had never felt such a Need to go there.

In the end, going back to where I came from revealed my transformation in a very concrete way. Living and working there for a short time was like stepping into a time machine, inhabiting my old life for a few days, and then stepping back into the present and seeing very clearly the contrast between who I am now and who I was then.

Double Vanishing

Photo by Fernando Garcia

I realized that Houston will always be my hometown, and that I will always respect and appreciate its unique power. That moving on doesn’t have to mean turning my back on the place, because Houston is where I learned my hustle, my grind, my will – things that will never leave me, qualities that define me.

I know that I’ve brought some of my hometown’s magic to Austin with me, and my presence here has transformed the magical current of the capital city in some way. There’s no question that Houston transformed me, and I will always look to the southeast with love.


The Sentinel of Houston’s Metropolis Pylon has started a Setian blog which can be found here.

This post about Houston is of special interest and I highly recommend it.

 

The Living Temple

HEART 3

Photo by Michael D. Beckwith

The Temple of Set hosts a number of annual gatherings of its members, from smaller regional groups, usually hosting 10 or fewer, all the way up to the International Conclave, which sees Setians attending from all over the world. It’s often said that an initiate of the Temple cannot truly understand and experience the Temple of Set until they’ve attended one of these gatherings.

While it’s certainly possible to engage in a perfectly acceptable and meaningful Initiatory process over a great distance, while never occupying the same physical space as another Setian, the incredible power of spending time in the presence of a group of Setians can’t be overstated.

HEART

Over the space of three to four days, we might participate in workshops, present our current work to each other, and of course DO magic…some well-planned, some spontaneous. (I recently attended a Black Mass that was executed beautifully, with less than 24 hours’ planning).

No less important, though, are the in-between times. A Setian might find herself having lunch with a Magus, and finally get the opportunity to ask for some clarification on that Word. A candid conversation between two initiates who never knew they were facing the same challenges, leads to new breakthroughs. And of course, the unspeakable power of laughing together.

HEART 4

Photo by Jorge Láscar

All of these things, and many more like them, compose what is known as The Living Temple. Those of us who regularly find ourselves in the company of other Setians understand well that the Temple of Set is more than the sum of its teaching and its members. It doesn’t exist in our documents, our website, or our archives.

The true fullness of the Temple of Set is experienced in the living, breathing, evolving presence of other people. Our gatherings are where our real magic is born.

Xeper Starts at Home

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Photo by midlman

Austin is a beautiful city, with a thriving outdoor culture. It’s no surprise, then, that the Capital City has ranked as the #1 fittest city in Texas for years. Visitors to Austin often comment on how healthy and happy everyone looks, and it’s true. Living in a town with pleasing outdoor spaces makes you want to get out and experience them, move through them. Being surrounded by a populace who take care of themselves has an effect on you, and it often doesn’t take long for new residents to take up a healthy lifestyle of their own.

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Photo by Todd Dwyer

So what does this have to do with magic? Plenty, as it turns out. Historically, of course, occultists and magicians have been *ahem* not the most athletic bunch. We were often mired so deeply in philosophy and meditation that even thinking about working with our bodies never entered the picture.

This kind of neglect not only creates an imbalance between the parts of the Self, it leads to more significant difficulties in all areas as we age. More and more scientific studies are proving the importance of the body/brain connection, showing how vital it is that we care for, maintain, and challenge our bodies in order to keep our brains at optimal function throughout our lives.

Fitness 2

Photo by Jason Dean

We’re now beginning to see more black magicians who understand the importance of Working with their bodies, the value of physical challenges, and the real need to maintain bodily health. After all, your body is your home from birth until death, and can never be replaced. It makes perfect sense that, in order to create a more perfected Self, we should start with caring for and ordering that home.

Fitness 4

Photo by Kid Clutch

Establishing a solid foundation of physical health is an investment of time and energy, which will pay significant dividends towards your overall well-being. It teaches discipline, focus, and will. It transforms your inner world, while making your outer world more beautiful. It creates new avenues and possibilities.

Xeper is not only concerned with altering one’s inner landscape, or with creating change in a person’s outer life (such as that new job/car/girlfriend). Xeper can happen anywhere. It might be in a gym (or your living room), alone at 5 AM, testing your own limits. Creating change in your body by force of will.

Like magic.

Walpurgisnacht 2017

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Walpurgisnacht is here again, and it’s a great time to think about desire.  Take some time to examine your desires, what you want to bring into your life, or the changes you want to see.

 

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The veils between worlds are thin tonight, at state which can be used to manifest one’s wishes. This means the barriers between worlds are weakened, and intent may be more easily transmitted from one’s inner world into the objective universe.

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Photo by Helena.

May all your bonfires burn bright tonight!

 

 

Isolate, Not Isolated

Da vinci 1

I recently came across an article about an incredible document – Leonardo Da Vinci’s to-do list. Written in 1490, the list enumerates a variety of tasks Da Vinci set out to complete (i.e. “Draw Milan”).

What struck me the most about this list, though, was how many times Da Vinci writes “Ask X to show you Y.”

Ask Benedetto Potinari (A Florentine Merchant) by what means they go on ice in Flanders.

Ask Maestro Antonio how mortars are positioned on bastions by day or night.

Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle.

Over and over, Da Vinci states that he’s looking for people to teach him things. Keep in mind this list was written in 1490, when he was about 38 years old and well into his professional life.

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition

Here we have a man who, by most anyone’s estimation, was a genius and a master of a truly amazing number of trades, crafts, and disciplines. One would think that he would be the source, the person everyone else came to for answers. Yet he never stopped looking to learn from people who knew more than he did.

There’s a common pitfall among black magicians, wherein we convince ourselves that other people are unnecessary or can’t matter to our Initiation. Because, if I am a god, why would I need someone else? There are two outcomes to this scenario, and neither one is pretty. First you have someone who lives a completely isolated existence, a legend in his own mind, convinced of his divine power, but with no real world mastery to show for it. Second, the guru who surrounds herself with an echo chamber of yes-men, who never question, challenge or teach her anything.

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Photo by Jay Cross

For me, the purpose of the Temple of Set is to provide its students with an honest and effective feedback loop. We seek each other out to ask for advice and share references. But it’s also immeasurably valuable to have a group of people who will help you understand when you’ve failed, or call you out on your own bullshit. It takes courage to ask for that kind of feedback, to put yourself out there knowing that you might very well get an unpleasant answer. The ability to overcome failure and withstand scrutiny are a vital part of how we prove ourselves, how we come out of the other side a stronger person, and a better magician.

Setians often refer to Isolate Intelligence – that spark of consciousness which is uniquely and singularly our own. Yet there is a galaxy of difference between “isolate” and “isolated.” Isolate intelligence may, at will, interact with and enhance itself from interacting with others, whereas an isolated individual would not.

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Photo by ideacreamanuelaPps

Ultimately, we’ve chosen the left hand path because we want to be challenged, and made stronger for it. What am I learning from my interactions? What can I gain from my shortcomings? What can someone else’s perspective show me?

If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.