Sunday, November 22, 2015

Balancing Personal Will and Permissive Will in Magickal Practice

That word is 'willing.' It's an attitude and spirit of cooperation that should permeate our conversations. It's like a palm tree by the ocean that endures the greatest winds because it knows how to gracefully bend. ” 
- Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare

There's something inherently curious about the "Will." Anyone deeply involved in magick is well aware that one's will is of great importance...the will directs the intention, the energy, the spirits, etc. toward one's desired end.

Curiously though, I have found over the years that, even as a magician, one should not overvalue the personal will. What I mean to say is that there are times when our will can lead us seriously astray, times when getting what we thought we wanted would have been far worse than not. Sometimes the will can be countervened in a way that makes our magick seem as if it failed when in fact our "failure" to manifest a desired outcome leads us to something better that what we wished for.

Then there are times when magick happens without the involvement of our personal will. These times, linked to one's alliances with one's gods, spirits, HGA, Higher Self, etc., and the natural harmony with reality brought about by spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, yoga, qigong, etc. allow what is best for us to flow to us not by will, but by "willingness" or Permissive Will....which is receptive state of non-doing, non-craving, natural flow.

In Taoism, this state of being is called "Wu Wei." Wu Wei is a state of non-doing, non-craving, effortless flow that, within the context of magickal practice, implies a deep trust in the gods, ancestors, spirits, etc. to provide for you that which is in alignment with your deepest needs.

It has been my experience that these times of effortless alignment to our own Highest Good (often a good unknown to the personal will) are times when we are granted boons far greater than those we would have received if had impressed the desires of our will upon the universe...thereby pushing for a specific, limited outcome.

It seems to me that one must balance one's active "will" with one's receptive "willingness." It seems that one's True Will is to be found more so in the latter than the former, at least until such time as one's personal will is in greater natural harmony with the will of the One Thing (who we may see manifest as God, Goddess, the Self, the gods, etc.) which is, in my understanding, naturally aligned to that which is best for all beings.

What is "best" is may or may not be what is, from our limited perspective, what is best for the individual ego-personality, but instead what is necessary for that being holistically (in regards to the entirety of the individual)....even if, from the view of the ego-personality, what is needed appears terrible, tragic, or needless. This is a different perspective, and one, at odds unfortunately with the prevailing paradigm of magickal practice which tends to confuse the True Will with the desires and predilections of the magician's ego-personality.

The axiom "As above, so below" comes to mind here. The "above" is that Will that knows more, knows better, and knows deeper than the the personal will (which is the "below") because it has a far vaster perspective. In aligning the "below" with the "above" we naturally come into alignment with experiences, awareness, knowledge, and wisdom that is more in keeping with our needs than than that which we could have manifested without that alignment by relying on the lower will alone.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Compassion and Cages

“You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.” 
― Sam HarrisFree Will

Gods know I'm as guilty as anyone else, so I don't excuse myself in the words that follow. This article is just as much for me as it is for anyone reading it.

We need, collectively, to be able to demonstrate compassion to those with whom we strongly disagree. That compassion is born of, among other things, understanding that, to a large extent, each of us is the product of our experiences and environment.

I do believe that there are deeper forces at play in who we are and who we eventually become, but for the sake of the discussion that follows, experience and environment are enough.

The beliefs, perspectives, and values we carry are, to a greater or lesser extent, the product of our culture and upbringing. Like a fish in a lake, our culture is the very substance wherein we live and move, to such an extent that we are often blind to its existence around, or impact on, us.

The cultural realities we have come to accept are not revealed truth, they are merely relative realities that would have been completely different had we been born and raised in a different time and place. For the most part, we are who we are because of when and where we are. That may be an uncomfortable truth, but truth it is.

If we can but realize this, we will realize that we needn't hate those with whom we disagree. We can wholly reject another's principles, values, beliefs, and ideals while still recognizing, as they say, "but for the grace of God go I." We may have been those who are the targets of our scorn, mockery, and ire, if only we had their life experience or lived within the confines of their paradigm.

This recognition does not completely lift the onus of an individual's responsibility or agency. Instead, by recognizing that we are, in many ways, the product of our time and place, we are able to be more cognizant of the limits of responsibility and agency in regards to what we believe.

Free will is only operative within the constraints of culturally prescribed boundaries. Because most of humanity is not composed of visionaries, mystics, artists, etc., those who seem to be able to see beyond the limits of culture and time, it behooves us to accept the limits of most individuals' capacities to exercise what we commonly refer to as free will.

Only those who can see the confines of the cage within which they live can exercise the choice to choose freedom. One cannot escape a prison one fails to recognize.

Culture, traditions, religions, etc. are all, in a manner of speaking, cages. At different times in our lives any of these structures are not only useful, they are necessary to provide the stability needed for healthy growth within a culture. However, it is one thing to know and accept the boundaries of a cage that are at variance comforting, helpful, and stabilizing, it is entirely something else to believe that one's preferred structure is universally valid or divinely mandated truth for all people at all times.

Recognizing that until we reach a very refined level of awareness, a level of awareness wherein a chosen structure becomes recognized for the purely aesthetic choice it is (as opposed to the vessel of certainty and truth we once accepted it to be) we are all bound to a greater or lesser extent within our personal cage. This awareness, that we too are bound, can be a source of profound understanding and compassion.

If you or I are not, yet, fully free, then we cannot expect those with whom we have strong disagreement to be fully free of blinders, limitations and boundaries (ie. their cage) either. Our political and ideological enemies are merely trapped in cage different from our own.

However, despite strenuous and valid philosophical/Ideological conflict with those with whom we share little in terms of values and vision, we needn't hate those who wish us to share their cage because, for them, that cage is the only world they know.

Reject the cage, even hate the cage, but we needn't hate those trapped within.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wear Your Label Lightly - Paradigms Needn't Imprison

I tend to wear labels loosely, more for ease of dialog than anything else. A label is a descriptor and nothing more and need only be a box, imprisoning and petrifying, when you make it so.

Too often many seem inclined to use their chosen label as not only a helpful descriptor, but as a prison that defines, for them, all that they may experience, accept, understand and know. That which falls outside the parameters of the box is ignored or rejected.

This is, in my opinion, spiritually deadly because no tradition contains within itself the totality of all possible human spiritual experiences and awareness. Sophisticated traditions will contain more than enough of reality within their paradigm to take the seeker to the point wherein the tradition is no longer needed. Less sophisticated traditions may be barely fleshed enough to keep an aspirant growing past the early years of spiritual practice and experience.

Due to the realities of the modern world and it’s abundant freedom to seek outside the commonplace, the paths many of us have chosen are either new, yet informed by ancient myth, principles, and practices, or truly ancient, yet gutted and skeletal due to the influence of cultural forces that ever seek to obliterate and demonize those beliefs unlike their own.

Both new paths with ancient roots and ancient paths denuded of the purity of their folklore and sacred myths, often leave blanks that need filling. These “blanks” are the experiences and awareness that are not within the purview of a given path or tradition to express or comprehend at least in its modern manifestation.

Thus are many of us called to learn from living traditions. We seek to fill in the gaps left behind by the cruelties of time, war, and forgetfulness. We learn and we grow, gleaning insight wherever it is to be found and, if we are wise, rejecting nothing merely because it fails to fall within the parameters of the labels with which we have chosen to define ourselves.

What we come to understand, through study and experience, we use, even if such choices violate the purity parameters of those mired in paradigms that reject all truth inexpressible within their own tradition.

Dare I say, truth is truth, even if one’s chosen tradition doesn't have the language to express it.

As your needs demand, be part of a tradition or path that suits you. However, it’s best to wear the label you’ve chosen as lightly as possible for truth tends to travel best through traditions, paths, and labels so light as to be transparent.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Prayer to Isis Panthea - A Modern Pagan's Prayer to the Great Goddess as Ground of Being

This is going to be, for me, a relatively brief blog post as its purpose is to impart the words I was inspired to put to paper, so to speak, upon arising from meditation this evening.

In all my years as a Pagan magician and mystic (30+yrs at this point) I have come to understand that all I need to know or experience, in terms of spiritual awareness, has ever been made available to me via the vehicle of committed spiritual practice. No amount of study, stimulating conversation with either like-minded or challenging souls, or intellectual rumination can help one come to terms with spiritual, magickal, and mystical realities the way dedicated spiritual practice can.

Spiritual awareness is, in this context, akin to falling in love.

No amount of reading up on the subject of falling in love can truly prepare one for the reality of what it really means to fall in love. Of course, one can read all about the evolutionary benefits of pair bonding, the neuro-chemical tides released by the brain when one feels love, or any number of brute, and often sadly reductionistic, facts on the subject of love as a biological reality. One may even accomplish being seen as either quite intelligent or as an insufferable bore, depending on the company one keeps, due to the ability to regurgitate such trivia on demand.

However, despite the fact one's brain is brimming with others' thoughts on the subject of love, none of this second-hand knowledge will be more than a footnote in the awareness of one who has actually fallen in love. The thoughts of others on the subject of love are swept away in a tsunami of personal experience that makes pale and shallow the pedestrian intellectualizing that once served as truth.

Such is the experience of the Divine for those who are willing to set aside being armchair magicians and mystics and who, instead, are willing to do the work and experience for ourselves what others merely talk about.

My theology is distinctly monistic (basically Panentheistic Dialectical Monism) in approach and though, nowadays, monism seems to have fallen on hard times within some sectors of the Pagan Community, I've never been one to pay much, if any, attention to the theological squabbles of others, I have always sought instead to follow the path of practice, study, and personal gnosis.

Isis Rising by Gilbert Williams

Prayer to Isis Panthea

It is not I who love, but you who love through me.

It is not I who touch, but you who touch through me.

It is not I who embrace, but you who embrace through me.

It is not I who perceive, but you who perceive through me.

It is not I who feel joy, but you who feel joy through me.

It is not I who weep, but you who weep through me.

It is not I who sorrow, but you who sorrow through me.

It is not I who rage and anguish at cruelty and injustice, but you whose righteousness is manifest both through the severity of justice the mercy of compassion who moves through me.

It is not I who reach out, but you who reach out through me.

It is not I who bring healing, but you who heal through me.

It is not my virtue through which I live in accord with Ma’at, but by you who are the heart of all virtue.

It is not I who breathe, but you who breathe through me.

It is you who are my Mother.

It is you who are my Lover.

It is you who are my Beloved.

It is you who are Sovereign of the Elements.

It is you who are Mother of the Gods.

It is you who are the Supreme Mystery whose veil none have lifted.

It is you who are both Seeker and That Which is Sought, both the Sacred Journey and its Destination.

It is not I who live, but you who live through me.

When I breathe my last breath, It is not I who shall die, but you who shall pass through the Gates of Death and it is not I who shall be reborn, but you who shall be reborn again to participate in the Great Dance, you who are dancer, the stage, and song.

Praise unto you Mother Isis, you who are my Guide, my Wisdom, and none other than my own Divine Self.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

In the Name of Isis Myrionymos - An Offertory Rite

Roman Isis

This rite is one I have been using, in one form or another, for a few years and is one that is built, structurally and conceptually, upon that which is found in Jason Miller's (Inominandom's) writings in both his The Sorcerer's Secrets Book and Strategic Sorcery Course. Taking inspiration from the above works, I have, as any magician worth their salt is wont to do, reworked the rite so that it is in more direct alignment my personal spiritual/magickal practice and paradigm.

This rite is presented, not as a piece of reconstructed ancient praxis, but as the work of a practicing magician and mystic dedicated to the Goddess Isis. The theology underlying this rite is that of theistic monism/panentheism though a practitioner with a more hard-polytheistic theology can use this rite in a henotheistic theological framework just as easily.

The gods are bigger than our traditions, theologies and cosmologies, so allow yourself to experience the rite and draw your own conclusions via your own gnosis.

This rite is both an offering to Isis as well as an offering to all spirits both benign and malevolent, allies and enemies, in Her name. In my experience, making offerings in a great god's name, or even self-identifying as a god (directly as in when one assumes a godform or via implication within the language of a rite) grants the magician great spiritual authority and cools the wrath of angry spirits who, though ill-disposed to the magician, respect the authority of dominion of the deity in question.

What you will need for the rite:

1 Pillar or other tall, long-burning candle (6"-9" or larger is best). The candle should be white, sky-blue, emerald, or turquoise. I prefer white because this candle represents both the Goddess Isis as separate, sovereign Goddess as well as Isis as immanent Ground of Being and Self of the magician/priest(ess).

Carve the following symbols on the candle:

The symbolism is multivalent for each of these images, but, for the purposes of this rite, their meaning is in the captions below. While carving the image, concentrate on the meaning of the symbol in question. Note on the symbol of Sirius/Sopdet below. Feel free to carve only the 5-pointed star image of Sirius/Sopdet alone if the full hieroglyph is too unwieldy.

Ankh - Symbol of eternal life, spiritual authority, and protection
Throne of Isis - Symbol of Isis as Ground of Being

Sirius/Sopdet - Sacred star of Goddess Isis

Heka - Symbol of magickal power

Anoint the candle with an altar oil containing oils and scents (at least largely) sacred  to Isis such as lotus, balsam, amber oil, cedarwood, sandalwood, cinnamon, myrrh, and sweet orange. Abramelin oil is an all-around good choice.

Place the candle centrally on the altar Place any and all offerings to be made between yourself and the central candle as altar space allows.


Begin by creating Sacred Space in the manner in which you are most familiar/comfortable.
Calm yourself via rhythmic breath, meditative focus, or self-hypnotic/trance process. Consider that you are entering into a "space between", a liminal space between the worlds so as to commune with gods and spirits.

Contemplate for a moment, your sacred space as a timeless/eternal moment, the "Zep Tepi" or "First Time/Occasion", if you will, the very moment of Creation/Being Itself.

Invocation of Isis

O Great Isis, Nutjeret Weret, thou who art Mother of the Gods, Sovereign of the Elements, Foundation of the the Created Order, First Born Daughter of The Timeless Void, Lady of the Sky, the Earth, the Underworld, the Water, the Mountains, and the Nun, I beseech thee to heed my invocation.

O Isis Myrionymos, Beautiful in All Thy Names,

I call Thee with the breath of my body,

I call Thee with the beat of my heart,

I call Thee with the pulse of my life,

I call Thee with the words of my mouth,

I call Thee with the thoughts of my mind.

I call Thee Power and Life and Creation.1

I call upon thee...

Isis Panthea (Isis as All-Goddess....Her aspect as All in All, the Alpha and the Omega)

Isis Nepherses
 (Isis of the Beautiful Throne...Her aspect as foundation of Creation, Immanent Divinity)

Isis Melaenis
  (Isis the Dark One....cthonic/underworld aspect)

Isis Psychopompos
 (Isis the Guide of Souls...underworld/liminal aspect)

Isis Phosphoros
 (Isis the Light Bringer....liminal/solar aspect)

Isis Pansotera
  (Isis the Savior of aspect)

Isis Pantokrator 
(Isis the Goddess of All Things/All Ruling... Isis as Sovereign Divinity)


Light the candle specifically consecrated to Goddess Isis saying aloud  7 times either in the original Latin or in English (once for each of the sacred directions North, East, South, West, Above, Below, and Within and the Seven Classical Planets):

Unaquae es omniaDea Isis

“Being One, Thou art all, Goddess Isis.” 
(English translation from the Latin)

Draw an ankh with the index finger of your dominant hand over the candle flame, saying:

Isis Panthea, unto you All-Mother, Beloved One, Divine Self do I make all offerings and in thy name do I offer unto others these gifts. Great Mother, smile upon this rite and bless all who choose to attend.

(Allow yourself to feel gratitude)

Purification of Offerings
(To be done with each offering)

Place hands in the shape of the Triangle of Manifestation with palms directly over the offering.

Say the following (while imagining, utilizing as many senses as possible, the elemental power flowing over and cleansing the offering):

By Earth, the Body of Isis (visualize a great mountain range...involve any senses you can...all impurities are crushed and transformed under the immensity of Earth)

By Air, the Breath of Isis (visualize strong breezes blowing the leaves of trees....involve any senses you can...all impurities are blown/borne away by Air)

By Water, Her Flowing Blood (visualize a wave tossed ocean or perhaps a river...involve any senses you can....all impurities are washed away by Water)

By Fire, Her Everlasting Spirit (visualize a conflagration....involve any senses you can...all impurities are burned away)

The Invitation

Ave (Hail or Greetings) Angelos! Ave Daemones! Ave Daimones!
Come! Come!

Ave Perfected and Timeless Ones!
Come! Come!

Ave Ancient, Holy, and Shining Ones!
Come Come!

Ave Elysian Powers and Duat's Hosts!
Come! Come!

Ave Tutulary Spirits, Friends, Guardians and Guides!
Come! Come!

Ave Salamanders and Spirits of Flame!
Come! Come!

Ave Sylphs and Spirits of Air!
Come! Come!

Ave Undines and Spirits of Water!
Come! Come!

Ave Gnomes and Spirits of Earth!
Come! Come!

Ave Spirits of Place and Sleepers Within the Land!
Come! Come!

Ave Restless Spectres and Unquiet Dead!
Come! Come!

Ave Eidolons of Ill Will, Wrathful Spirits, Gods, and Hungry Ghosts!
Come! Come!

Ave! Ave! Come and be welcome! Be Seated at the table set forth for you in the name of Isis Panthea, Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Underworld, and in her name partake of these offerings, allowing them to become that which is your heart's desire.

May these offerings cause there to be continued amity between myself and those spirits who are friend, guide, guard and ally unto me. May those spirits tasked with doing my will, either as boon gift or in the spirit of reciprocity, make haste manifesting that which I desire.

May these offerings cause peace to flourish between myself and those spirits, gods, and wights from whom, through my carelessness, ignorance or laziness I have earned enmity or wrath. May their hearts be softened toward me and may their be understanding between us.

Ave! Ave! Welcome guests! Partake of this bounty, eat thy fill and be sated.

In the spirit of hospitality do I forgive all debts and ask that my debts be forgiven me.

Making the Offering

If you are offering incense, light it at this time. Nag Champa and Song of India's "Indian Temple Incense" make fine offerings for this rite, but feel free to choose according to your own desires and experience.

Place your hands, cupped over your offering(s) in the following gesture. Say the following while visualizing the essence of the offerings arising into your cupped hands and then overflowing from your upturned palms (I generally see this as a vaporous silvery-white mist):

May these offerings, multiplied infinitely by the power of Aether... arise to the Celestial Heavens (see the essence of the offering((s) rise into the sky, filling it).

May these offerings pervade
 this Earthy Sphere, the land, sea, and sky (see the essence of the offering(s) filling the material world).

May these offerings descend into the Cthonic Deeps of the Underworld
(see the essence of the offering(s) descending beneath your feet deep into the earth).

May this (these) offering(s) be transformed into that which is most pleasing to all who deign to share in this bounty.

After speaking these words, take each offering and lift it up, presenting it in a sense, to the entire space in a sunward (clockwise) direction either walking the circumference of your sacred space or, if space is limited, pivoting from direction to direction.

Say in a joyful and generous spirit:

Ave! Ave! Partake! Partake all ye gods, daimons, daemons, land-wights, elementals, and shades.

(open the pylons of the heavens)
Visualize the heavens opening up over your head, all the heavenly realms open to you.

(open the pylons of the earth)
Visualize the earth opening up beneath your feet, all of the Underworld opens to you.

(rejoice with me all the powers) 2

Enjoy! Enjoy and take your fill!
(Allow yourself to feel gratitude and try to sense the gratitude of those in attendance.)


Honored guests at my table, the time of our communion is at an end. Take your fill and leave in peace.

Wait the span of a few breaths.

Ave atque vale! (I salute you...and goodbye) This rite is done. 

Allies, guides, guards, and friends may this (these) shared gift(s) strengthen the bonds of respect, alliance, and trust between us. 
Ave atque vale! This rite is done.

Honored guests who have come in wrath, fear, or mistrust be at peace. May trust, respect and understanding bloom between us.

Ave atque vale! This rite is done.

Return unto your abodes with my gratitude ye wanderers, ye shades, ye ancient and shining ones. Go with my blessing which I offer in the name of...

Isis Panthea, She who is All in All

Isis Psychopompus, Goddess of the Threshold and Guide of Souls

and Isis Pantokrator, All-Sovereign Mother

Be blessed! Be Blessed!
Ave atque vale!
This rite is done.
So mote it be! (...just because I prefer this closing. Choose another phrasing if preferred)

Snuff or blow-out the candle as appropriate for your path/tradition. 

Now that the rite has concluded, feel free to sit in meditation in the space, being open to all experience and awareness. 

1 Borrowed directly from Isis Magic by Isidora Forrest
2 Borrowed directly from the Strategic Sorcery Course by Jason Miller