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.

 

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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.

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.

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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.