Thursday, March 18, 2010
I was just re-reading Gregory Shaw's Theurgy and the Soul (Penn State, 1995) on the late Neoplatonic philosopher Iamblichus.
At page 43, Shaw discusses Iamblichos' views on providence and fate which restrict the choices of individuals due to the emanation of the Cosmos from the One and the spiritual connection of all things. "Embodied life could be experienced as a bondage to fate or as an opportunity to live under divine providence, depending on how the soul used its powers."
Because there is a patterning to reality and existence, all things are not possible. We can see this as an evil external force restricting our ego choice, ie fate, or see the underlying purpose of the patterning, which in the Hermetic and Neoplatonic view, despite the existence of evil, is good overall, though not necessarily good as the individual ego may see it.
Think of the small child that wants to get into the cupboard and eat all of the cookies. "Oh mala fortuna, that I cannot gorge myself" Yet he is thereby saved from a gut ache! Greater wisdom brings greater understanding.
As far as giving people bad news and telling them things they do not wish to hear, this is indeed part of the work of a traditional astrologer, if the astrologer wishes to tell their clients the truth. Since traditional astrology is accurate and precisely reflects reality, we can hardly avoid giving bad news on occasion. But this is hardly restricted to astrologers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, many professions have a similar function.
A long time ago I decided I would prefer to be accurate than always satisfy my clients. My better clients appreciate it and come back. I do, of course, have a steady stream of clients who are unconsciously paying me to tell them that everything is going to be fine. They are disappointed when I say it won't be.
Now Lilly advises us not to oppress our clients with our judgments and there is no reason to hit people over the head with bad news. But the fact is that these clients are going to be unhappy no matter what. They go to the 900 psychic who says "everything will be great!" but it isn't and the client is unhappy. They come to me, I saw it won't work out, it doesn't and the client is unhappy.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
In life in general and in magic in particular, it is very tempting to want the "best" or the "right" way to do things. I get lots of e-mails and calls from clients that are very worried about whether they got the right shade of blue for the candles or the right brand of incense, etc.
What is the essence of what we are doing when we invoke astrological spirits? What is necessary and what is a bonus? What is a hindrance?
To a certain extent these are my personal views, but they are views informed by long study in traditional Western magic and my recent encounter with the Japanese Shinto tradition.
First of all, our cast talismans are consecrated when they are created. This is the key election for the talisman and it is the one that we are most concerned with.
The personal consecration that you do with a talisman when you get it has two purposes, in my view. First and most importantly the energy/spirit in the talismans are tuned to you, you contact the spirit. Secondly, every subsequent consecration renews the initial one, renews your contact with the spirit and helps "recharge" the talisman.
What is key with regard to consecration? The ritual and timing should be appropriate and your attitude should be respectful.
In terms of the ritual and timing being appropriate this gives wide, but not unlimited latitude. Our traditional sources list many colors for Jupiter, so for your candles, altar cloth or even clothes you could use "Sea-green or Blew, Purple, Ash-colour, a mixt Yellow and Green." Lilly, Christian Astrology 63. You could not use black, since that is almost unanimously the color of Saturn in traditional sources.
Personally I use white votive candles, since I buy candles by the case and burn them constantly. White is a good neutral color.
In terms of incense, again appropriate incense for Jupiter is pretty wide, something smelly would not be appropriate since this is again ruled by Saturn.
Don't use a Mars invocation for Jupiter, don't use invocations for spiritual beings in other traditions, without checking with an expert that this is ok. No Shango for Jupiter, for example, without carefully getting this checked.
I am more and more in favor of the short, heart felt invocation, rather than the long, if bored and exhausted, consecration. On the other hand, if the timing says go now even if you don't feel like it at the moment, you may need to do the invocation. I don't always feel totally enthused and excited, particularly if I have to get up at 3 am. On the other hand, if you are just completely freaked out and/or feeling very ill, then no, this is probably not the best time for an invocation. Basically though just do the invocation! Better to do it with a somewhat tired attitude than not at all.
Timing, day and hour for the planet is good. Nice if the planet is dignified, but I have been doing a continuous invocation of the planet of the day for the past 5 years or so, regardless of dignity. Moon phase not a biggie, though waxing is good for increase.
Necessary basics, a candle, some incense, appropriate timing and respect. What do I mean by respect? Don't treat the invocation as a joke. Clean yourself up, move children and animals and other distractions out of the ritual space. Don't use the talisman as a frisbee or the ritual candle as an ashtray. Don't stop the ritual halfway through to answer your phone. Treat the spirit to be invoked in all ways as an honored guest.