Practical Magic

I recently traveled to the beautiful city of Detroit, MI for a Setian Gathering over a long weekend. After a fantastic three days of magical Exchange with a wonderful group of people, exploring a new city, I returned home eager to integrate what I had learned and experienced into my daily life.

Michigan Theater

My trip back to Austin was delayed, then rerouted, due to lightning storms in Houston, which in my highly charged and sensitive post-Gathering state seemed a beautiful synchronicity.  I arrived home to find that my luggage had been sent a different route, and, over the next 24 hours, my suitcase failed to turn up on my porch as promised.

I followed all the usual steps – phone calls to the airline and emails to their courier service. I mentally catalogued the items that were in the suitcase, including an irreplaceable gift from Magister James Kirby, who passed from this life last October. My black pentagrams of Set. An (extremely) antique ring given to me by my husband. The suitcase itself was a gift from my late mother.

 

After I lit some candles for Santa Muerte (because why the hell not?) I remembered a recent conversation I’d had with Lechuza Mundo, another Austin Setian, when she’d told me about a servitor that she and her husband had created, specifically for finding things. I sent her a text message, asking if XXXXX (name redacted) worked only for them, or could they ask on behalf of other people. She said she’d give it a try, so I sent her some photos of things that were in the suitcase.

45 minutes later, my luggage was dropped off on the porch.

FIND 1

Photo by Jason Eppink

I’ve been asked before about practical applications for magic. It’s super great to achieve a godlike state of being, striving for self-knowledge and refinement of the will. But what about the day-to-day life stuff? I feel it’s vital to remember and apply magical principles to everyday problems – not as a replacement for hands-on work, but to tip the scales of the universe in our favor. Magic can not only amplify who you are, it can strengthen the effects of what you do. It can make your hard work do more for you.

After my great results with requesting assistance from XXXXX (name redacted), Don Webb was kind enough to send me the following essay, with instructions for creating a servitor for my own household. I publish it here with his gracious permission.


 

The practice of creating servitors is pretty old – the first record we have is in Lucian’s short story, “The Lover of Lies” in 150 AD.  That story, via Goethe’s poem, “Der Zauberlehrling”  eventually became the story of Mickey Mouse and the magic broom in Fantasia. The basic ideas are there – programmed magic works and is therefore dangerous.  I love telling I*’s about Servitors – they get results and, since they’re so damn easy to screw up, will teach a lot of lessons.

Servitors are well represented in HooDoo and English cunning man magic, but became popular in the 80s in Chaos Magic  — and since we know that white guys invented everything, we’ll just go with that.

Like most methods, everyone has his or her way.  I’m going to share mine – your mileage may vary. However, the warnings should be noted, so that when you cross the line and screw up you can think how smart I am.  

Some people like to give the servitor a place to live – like a doll or a painting.  That’s ok, but NEVER use a living thing. Servitors should enjoy their lives, don’t make them robots.  DON’T leave them turned on all the time. They will do exactly what you tell them, so don’t chide them if you don’t like the results. I don’t tell everybody how to summon it.  Groups can create them as well.

Here is my 5 step system.  To illustrate I am going to make an entity to help me throw parties.  I’m going to call him Hardi (as in “Party Hardi!”). I like simple names that are similar to purpose.  You can use any name you like, but DON’T use departed relatives because you will confuse your intent.

  1. I obtain a sheet of symbolic paper – it could be papyrus, parchment, or even a grocery bag—it should be resonate with the purpose.  For Hardi I’m going to take a little piece of white cardboard that came from a packet that held birthday candles. I lay the card in front of me and I talk to it. “In a little while you are going to have your birthday Hardi.  You will have blissful sleep like a cat in a sunbeam until I call you. I’ll call you by making the Horns with my left hand and saying, “Party Hardi” Here is what you can do: Help find me great food, drinks and party supplies for cheap, make the right people want to come to my parties, make sure they arrive and depart safely, keep everybody chill while they’re partying, and help them get any secret messages I’m trying to send. Every time you do a deed you will feel pleasure and you will be fed by the doing.  Later when the party’s over I’ll light a candle and thank you. Then you will grow in power and intelligence as you dream about what you’ve done.” Note I used general terms like “right people” or “chill.”
  2. I will take a red sharpie and make a sigil out of the letters HARDI  — I’ll connect them together and add flourishes like pentagrams or tridents.  It should look magickal. When I’m done, I’ll have a spoken formula – it could be anything from a phrase from the Greek Magical Papyri to a simple, “I Setnakt call you into being Now!”  In this case I’m going to sing the Happy Birthday song.
  3. I launch the sigil.  This is the process of emotional and physical charging.  I could light a candle flame and stick my finger in it, ride a roller-coaster and scream out Hardi’s name, wait a really long time to pee and then say Hardi’s name when I got relief, or let the world choose a moment for me like yell Hardi’s name after a jerk cuts me off on I35.  Orgasm is most people’s preferred method – when the inevitable moment occurs stare at the sigil and shout the name.
  4. I transfer the Sigil into the Hidden realm.  Shortly after launching. I light the black flame, say the Invocation of Set, and then say a simple formula like, “Hardi with this Fire I send you into the magickal realm where you will sleep until I call you.”  I burn the sigil and later toss the ashes into the air.
  5. The first time I summon HARDI I am very deliberate – doing it at night, making the devil’s Horns with my left hand and I call him three times.  I will have a red candle in front of me that I will light to honor him after the party is done – and I make sure that I use that candle for no other purpose.  After the party – unless it was an unmitigated disaster –  I light the candle and tell him what a great job he did. Then I tell him to have pleasant dreams until I call him next.  If it was an unmitigated disaster, I light the candle, thank him and then tell him to have pleasant dreams. Then I throw that candle away. I do not make another servitor for this purpose.  After the first time I am more casual in my summoning, but I am always very deliberate in my thanks afterward.

Because people have good results with servitors, they make too many.  Go easy with it.

 

Xeper Starts at Home

Fitness 3

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.

Fitness 5

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

walpurgisnacht-dance

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.

 

walpurgisnacht 3

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.

walpurgisnacht 4

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.

Da vinci 2

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.

da vinci 4

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.

Magic of Place

Globe

Photo by Jayel Aheram

Black Magicians tend to be a resourceful lot, and most of us learn early into our Initiatory journey that there is great value in being adaptable. Learning to Work with the tools that are available to us at any given moment is a good skill to develop.

I’ve also found that tapping into the magical essence of my location is an useful ability that has benefited my magical operations. All places have a magical current that runs through them, and through learning to recognize its nature, a skilled Black Magician can harness the power of a location and use it to help fulfill their goals.

Everyone has traveled to a new place and experienced its “vibe” – a kind of subjective state created by certain cues, its apparent character, and the kinds of people one most encounters there. As I traveled to different parts of the world, I became aware that, beyond the surface traits that various cities and regions seemed to have, I could often feel something else running through them – a sort of energy that seemed to be reflective of that place’s essence. The obvious vibe of a place, and its magical current are often closely aligned, but not always. Sometimes the magical character of a specific location is mostly hidden unless one seeks it out.

Austin night

Photo by Ed Schipul

I live and Work in Austin, Texas, and this city has a definite magical personality of its own, as does Houston, my hometown, and the entire Lone Star State. I have encountered Magicians who didn’t respond well to their time here, not finding the heat or culture to their liking (Newsflash: Texas is hot, it’s probably not a good place to move to if you can’t handle that). That’s completely valid. There are plenty of places in the U.S. and world where I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time if I could help it.

But the Magic of Place is a reciprocal thing. One gets out of it what they put in, and even a skilled Magician can miss opportunities to tap into a location’s current and its benefit, if they don’t engage with it.

Houston

Photo by Adam Baker

Houston’s magic is strong – a strange mixture of urban energy, electric and vibrant, swirling and intermingling with the wilderness that snakes through the city along dark bayous. It is a perfectly evocative environment to perform Magic of all types, and when I learned to appreciate and embrace Houston’s unique energy instead of working against it, my magical success blossomed.

Austin is known for being quirky and cool, packed with hipsters, live music, and youthful innovators. It’s a haven for hippies and free-thinkers of all kinds, perceived to be an oasis of liberal ideas within an otherwise conservative state. It’s not at all surprising that there has been a long tradition of alternative religion in Austin.  But of course all magic has a dark side, and there is a decidedly sinister, vampiric current running through Texas’ Capital City – drawing in the unwary and feeding on their energy. It is, after all, also known as Bat City.

nightwing
Photo by Caomal

I’m fortunate to know many great Black Magicians, Working all over the world, and it’s clear that their Initiatory journey and their day to day magic is shaped by their environments. It made me realize that it’s worthwhile to develop my ability to Work wherever I might find myself. I might not be overjoyed to land in rural Mississippi for several months, but I would do my best to discover its magic while I was there. And it does have magic unique to it. All places do. It’s our responsibility to ourselves as Black Magicians to explore the currents local to us at any given time, and to learn to adapt our Work to them. Or we can miss out, and just complain about how no one sells good sushi in rural Mississippi. The choice, as always, is ours to make.

How to Fail in Magic

The following is a guest post from Pylon member Nachtriesander.

Love spell

Photo by Happy Krissy

When I first discovered the occult, I was a kid in junior high living in a small, podunk town outside of Houston. The idea that magic was real and something that a person could use to enrich their existence, was compelling to a weird youngster like myself; the world suddenly seemed much more interesting and full of promise.

A lot of that early “magical wisdom” was ridiculous in hindsight – a common type of quick buck, 1970’s self-help sorcery, and goofy Wiccan tomes for hippies and collectors of quartz. Over the next few years, most of the people I encountered who were interested in magic were those types of occultniks – advocates of dancing nude in forests to honor Mother Nature, and quick to warn others not to dabble with Black Magic, lest they suffer the dire consequences of some silly three-fold law of karma. I endured a lot of admonishments and Wiccan stink eye on my way to the Crowley section in Houston’s occult book stores back then.

One thing a lot of those folks seemed to have in common was a tendency to blame external forces for any aspects of their lives with which they were unhappy. I get it, we all encounter adversity from time to time, but dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances should inspire a skilled Black Magician to change the things that are causing them consternation. There’s nothing wrong with doing magic to push things towards a more satisfying outcome, but I’ve also encountered lots of occultists who seem to feel like the reason their life isn’t satisfying is because of some enormous external obstacle that is unfairly keeping them down.

For instance, I’ve encountered male Magicians who seem to believe that their lives would be better if it weren’t for feminists. They’ll squeak and squeal about “misandry” and other injustices pushed upon men such as themselves by evil feminists, never once considering that their problem might be because they’re simply creepy to women.

Or perhaps they’ve been though some unsatisfying experiences with the opposite sex. Back in the 1990’s, a woman I’d been dating broke up with me because her guru had told her I was a “Dark Lord” (along with Madonna. We were both fallen angels, according to the guru).

It’s a tough world out there, and things don’t always work out when you’re in league with The Devil and Madonna. But experiences like that didn’t make me blame feminists or women for my bad romantic stumbles, and it seems to me that a Black Magician who allows that kind of thing to make them bitter and resentful isn’t really a very skilled Magician.

 
Voodoo

Photo by wendEwho! Thompson

I’ve also seen plenty of occultists who use the same sort of magical fixes over and over. For example, I’ve met people who’ll use magic to attract a romantic partner, but their relationships inevitably crash and burn. After everything has gone belly up, they’ll angrily curse their exiting lover, and then start the whole process over again, using magic to attract a new one. Rinse, and repeat. It’s a bad pattern to fall into, and anyone who’s known a magician like this has probably experienced that person’s psychic vampirism, too – they seem to go hand in hand.

The thing magicians like this have in common is the inability to look inward, to find what’s not working in their lives, and to use Black Magic effectively to change the pattern of failure they continue to fall into, and no amount of naked forest dancing and crystals is going to fix those things. Self-Work can, however.