Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thoughts on Deconsecration

Recently I had a couple of requests from clients and students for information about deconsecrating talismans.

Basically the method I use for deconsecration is pretty straightforward. Repeat whatever ritual you used to consecrate the talisman in the first place, but thank the spirit(s) for their efforts on your behalf and ask leave the talisman or withdraw their powers from it. Then respectfully dispose of the talisman. In the case of paper talisman they can be burnt, other talismans can be thrown into running water.

However, in thinking about deconsecration, I realized some bigger issues were involved. Personally, I have only ever deconsecrated one set of talismans. These were Jupiter talismans that I made on Jupiter day and hour, but with Jupiter in detriment and retrograde! Needless to say a very bad idea and I promptly started losing large amounts of money. These were not wealth talismans, they were poverty talismans!

Other than that, however, I haven't deconsecrated any talismans. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I don't feel comfortable getting rid of talismans. As I think about this feeling, I realized that it comes from my basic approach to talismanic magic, which is only one of several ways to orient yourself in this area.

One way to look at talismanic magic is what could be termed the "modern" approach. Here spiritual forces are analogized to scientifically verifiable forms of energy and matter. Jupiter, for example, puts out certain waves or a force field or something and consecrating a talisman is basically like charging a battery. Just like a battery, when you are through with it, you throw it away. Worrying about the feelings of the battery or the battery charger would be ridiculous! They are inanimate, dead objects separate from you, who exist simply to serve you.

The next possible approach comes from traditional ceremonial or grimoiric magic, particularly goetic magic. Here the magician and their will is paramount. The magician stands at the center of their protective circle and commands the spirits to appear. The magician needs various types of protection against the spirits, but through knowledge and above all will, forces the spirit(s) to do their bidding.

Finally there is what might be termed the "devotional" approach. Here the planets, stars, etc, are seen as gods or basically angelic spirits, from a higher sphere. The mage does not really command the spirits, but always strives to be respectful of these powerful beings who are basically benign, if properly approached. While you can petition for particular effects from these spirits, they are more looking out for your long term interests, rather than necessarily granting your short term desires. The devotional approach is typical of Vedic astrology.

Now depending on which approach you take, your attitude toward deconsecration is going to differ. For the modern approach, when you are done with a talisman or if you are not immediately satisfied with it, you just toss it out. Similarly with the goetic approach, once you are done, toss it, but in this case you would want to make sure that you thoroughly deconsecrated the talisman so you didn't get any blowback.

With the devotional approach, however, tossing a talisman is like tossing out a gift a friend gave you and telling them. Or perhaps like defriending your rich uncle on Facebook. If you are just dealing with impersonal forces, or if you are the center of the universe and most powerful being in it, then you needn't worry about how your actions come across. If, however, these are powerful beings with personalities then you have to start thinking about etiquette!

I've gravitated to the devotional approach because it suits me and seems to most accurately reflect my experiences as well as being in line with many traditional sources. Certainly the ceremonial magic approach is traditional as well, though it is somewhat of an extension to use that approach with astrological spirits. If we look at the Picatrix invocations, in particularly the lengthy planetary invocations attributed to the Harranian Sabians in Book III, chapter 7, the commanding of the spirits is de-emphasized, though still present and most of the invocation consists of listing the attributes of the planets. The protective circles, clothing and equipment, so characteristic of goetic invocation are missing. Certainly the invocations involve petitions and specific requests but the adaptation of these invocations from the standard religious and devotional practice of the Sabians is evident.

One of the reasons that I like the practice of planetary charity which comes from the Vedic astrology of India, is that it derives from their basically devotional approach.

So, personally my preference is for the devotional approach. That is not to say that this is the "BEST" for everyone in all situations, but it has its advantages. Early on when we were just starting to work with the Mansions of the Moon, a magician with a strong Goetic connection decided to invoke a Mansion spirit using the full Key of Solomon style ritual with the strong imprecations and commands, etc. The being he got claimed to be a Mansion spirit, but then proceeded to make a deal with the magician for rum and tobacco and then not carry out what he promised to do.

On the other hand, I have a very strong personal connection to the spirit of the 3rd Mansion of the Moon, who I invoke every time the Moon enters the 3rd Mansion. I simply praise her and thank her for her efforts, ask her to continue to bring "all good things" and burn a candle and incense. Having done this for about 4 years now, I invariably get a boost in business around her day each month and 3 months this year, the 3rd Mansion day was the biggest business day of the month!

Ficino says,

"I have said elsewhere that down from every single star (so to speak Platonically) there hangs its own series of things down to the lowest...Under the celestial Serpent or the entire constellation of the Serpent-bearer, they place Saturn and sometimes Jupiter, afterwards daemons who often take on serpent's form, in addition men of this kind, serpents (the animals), the snake-weed, the stone draconite which originates in the head of a dragon, and the stone commonly called serpentine..

Ficino, Three Books on Life Bk. III, Chap. 14, p. 311.

My sense is that the Goetic magician, in using Goetic methods, summoned a Goetic spirit in the chain of the Mansion, rather than the Mansion lord.

Ultimately, it seems that what you put out and the attitude and methods in which you do your magic comes back to you!


Anonymous said...

This may sound dumb, but why would a spirit want rum and tobacco? Also, what is the significance of running water for the talisman disposal? I know in folklore, vampires and other evil spirits are supposed to be unable to cross running water.

Christopher Warnock, Esq said...

Certain types of spirits want to make a contract with you. If you do X for them, they will do Y for you. Certain spirits like rum and tobacco. The disposal in running water comes from hoodoo (Southern folk magic) burial at a crossroads or other liminal space would also make sense.

Unknown said...

@Gary: Some of the more visceral, "earthbound" (sublunar) spirits are very interested in offerings in trade for their services. In various folk practices in the Southern U.S., this is quite often rum and tobacco. Not nearly the sort of trade you'd expect from a Mansion spirit.

I hadn't heard of river-disposal being a traditional folk practice (it very well may be), but when I was a teenager I had it explained to me in a few practical terms:

First and foremost, a small, heavy object sunken in the mud at the bottom of a river is unlikely to ever be found. Similarly, since most people consider the sphere of influence of a talisman to be relatively small, odds are nobody's going to be close enough for long enough to be affected by it. Both serve to protect people from whatever influence may be in the object.

If you're of the "energy model" persuasion, some say the (relatively) massive amount of water moving over the object helps "bleed" it of any residual charge over time.

Most importantly to me personally, I see it as a "dignified burial". It lends a finality to the situation while still showing the object respect. You don't get that by chucking it in the trash.