Sunday, December 30, 2012

Well Founded Confidence and Trust

I had a poster ask if you should elect a time for buying incense. Ok, certainly you could elect a time for buying incense, but elections take time and effort to locate and then you may be stuck getting up at 3:32 am to log on and make the purchase. Is it worth it? That's one practical issue.

Next practical issue: since most non-expert elections are going to be something like, "buy incense on a waxing Moon" one is fooling oneself thinking this makes much difference. I mean 50% of everything you do is on a waxing Moon, and obviously there are widely different results for all the activities done with Moon waxing, so there must be more to it than that. This slides into superstition.

And it's easy to get superstitious as a magic user/astrologer/etc,. Ok, what exactly does superstitious mean: "an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural" Now, I need to know what "abject" means, " Extremely bad, unpleasant" Ok, so basically getting too scared, too freaked out. And that's understandable, magic and astrology are pretty new to most people and our society is either afraid of them due to Judeo-Christian programming or dismissive due to atheistic materialism. So it's hard to know if you are making a mistake.

Here's what I do, in practical terms I save the elections for important events, or when they really are necessary, like for actually making astrological talismans. Otherwise, I try to go forward in well founded confidence and trust. Buying incense is an ancillary activity, as far as I'm concerned, so I wouldn't elect it.

You can get in tune with the flow and cycles of the Cosmos with astrology, no doubt, but also by intuition and sensitivity. One example I like is the Balinese and feng shui. This web page says that because of their cultural spiritual and artistic sensitivity the traditional Balinese are able to site and create buildings according to feng shui, but do it naturally and intuitively as well. I'm not an expert on Bali or feng shui, so I don't know if this article is giving a complete picture, but I like the overall thrust here.

On the other hand, I don't want to say, "do what comes naturally" right from the get go, because that's like giving someone a guitar who has never played and saying "go to it" They are going to make a godawful racket, not music. First you need to immerse yourself in the subject, learn the rules and then you can improvise, within the tradition. As I said, forward in well founded confidence and trust!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Final Degree of Sign

I just had a question about a planet being in the final degree of a sign, ie the 30th degree or 29 degrees 0 minutes and higher.

The medieval astrologer Guido Bonatti says,

"The 30th Consideration is, To observe when a planet that is Significator, or the Moon, shall have past the 29th degree of the Sign wherein it is, and touches the 30th and especially if it have passed one minute of that degree; for then it shall have no strength in that Sign, but in the next; so that if in the first it signified any evil, it shall hurt the person or thing threatened no more than the fall of a house shall one that is just got out of it; or being with one foot upon the threshold, has one behind him that throws him out; and then the building falls.

And if it signifies any good, it shall profit no more than he that hath spread a nest for birds, and just touches the feathers of their tails, but never catches their bodies; and therefore 'Zael' says, "If a planet or the Moon be in the 29th degree of any Sign, its virtue is yet in that Sign wherein he is; because he has not yet wholly past the 30th degree." &c."

Bonatti, 146 Considerations

Again for this you need to be in the 30th degree, ie 29 degrees 0 minutes and higher. In this case observe what kind of change there is. For example, Venus at 29 Libra, currently in sign rulership about to go into detriment in Scorpio, things look very good, but are about to change or are not anywhere near as good as they seem to look. Mars at 29 Libra, currently in detriment about to go into sign rulership in Scorpio, things look terrible, but are actually great or will soon change to great. Sun at 29 Taurus, peregrine, change to Gemini also peregrine, a change is about to happen but it won't make any real difference

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Coincidence, World View and Loops!

Earlier this month I decided to that I should start doing something new, constellation talismans! I decided to do a Cetus Talisman.

A few days later I was sent a link to a news article about the discovery of a habitable planet in the Tau Ceti system, ie part of the Cetus constellation!

Cool! But what do we make of this? Is this somehow meaningful or is it, "just a coincidence"?

A coincidence technically means things happening closely together in time or space. The modern view of a coincidence is that it is an example of things happening together, but without any causal connection, just randomly or by chance.

Let's step back a bit further. In the modern view if there is order or a cause-effect connection between things there is only one possible source: a direct material/energetic connection or source for the order. If this cause is lacking, then events are simply random or determined by chance. Of course, for moderns, it is possible that since material/energetic causality is only the ultimate cause, that for every event there is a material/energetic cause but the scientists haven't figured it out yet. Or alternatively, it is possible to believe that randomness truly does exist and that some events are ultimately unpredictable. In either case, however, the only possible linkages are material/energetic causes.

We live, breathe and swim in the modern worldview. It conditions all of our conscious thoughts and unconscious reactions. To think "just a coincidence" seems natural because of this. But wait, how logical is it for traditional astrologers to have this automatic response? Traditional astrology is predicated on spiritual, not material or energetic, connection. If astrology accurately predicts it can only be on this basis and if it predicts correctly, then the modern atheistic/materialist worldview has some rather major holes in it.

It's easy though, as moderns to be compartmentalized, to be a 21st century schizoid man (or woman). We show different faces to different people, thinking differently in different situations, keep the various parts of our lives, even our thoughts separate. We splinter ourselves. When I was back in Washington, DC, for example, I knew a fairly well known ceremonial/Goetic magician who used to say that he was a just a regular guy/computer tech by day and magician by night. This is not unusual for modern astrologers, magicians, etc.

I consciously try to be the same person in all settings. People often think it is odd that I am simultaneously a practicing attorney and astrologer. These two careers seem quite similar to me, in both I use my expert knowledge and life experience to advise clients. I don't conceal that I am an astrologer or attorney, it's all right out there on my website. I want to be the same person as much of the time as possible, to be whole and complete, in all facets of my life.

So I think we do ourselves a disservice in compartmentalizing, a common as it is. As astrologers and magicians, if we grasp that astrology and magic work, the implications are astounding and revolutionary. For example, due to the spiritual connection of all things and the fact that everyone that happens in or around a particular moment is spiritually connected, then they are no coincidences. Why did I chose to do a Cetus talisman now? Apparently Cetus' time had come!

My wife and I call these loops. We pay close attention to these themes when they appear. We don't know why loops occur, but we do know that they are the tip of the iceberg of underlying patterning.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Recommendation: Al-Biruni

Having been a traditional astrologer for the past 15 years, I've build up quite a library! And while you can get by with just a few key books, it really helps to have all your bases covered, there's so much out there.

We are really blessed to be living at a time when so many traditional astrological and magical sources have been translated into English.

I've decided to start a regular traditional astrology and astrological magic book recommendation and my first suggestion is Al-Biruni's Book of Instructions in the Elements of the Art of Astrology

The astrology section is available on Amazon for just $10 and change

It's also part of my Renaissance Astrology CD Library III which has the complete book, though most of it I've never had occasion to use because it is either mathematical, astronomical or how to use an astrolabe!

You can read about Al-Biruni on my web site here

The Book of Instructions is really a key text for any traditional astrologer. Al-Biruni lays out a very early Arabic version of the basics of traditional astrology, signs, essential and accidental dignities, rulerships, etc. He gives very clear and very straightforward explanations. I've chosen Al-Biruni as one of my three main sources for planetary rulerships, along with Agrippa and Lilly. A great reference and very useful introduction to Arabic astrology, the root of traditional European traditional astrology.

Definitely worthwhile to get a copy of the Book of Instructions!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gold Standard Prediction & Horary Example

One of the attacks that "skeptics" throw at astrology is that it gives overly subjective predictions and is based on subjective validation and a strong desire to believe. Of course their real objection to astrology is that since it is based on spiritual connections and the spiritual doesn't exist, obviously astrology is impossible. Nevertheless, they are on to something. It is easy to be overly gullible as astrologers since we do want to believe in astrology!

One way to fool yourself, and this is so prevalent that it is very hard to see it as problematic, is judging charts where the outcome is known or you know the events in the life of the person whose chart it is. I tried to demonstrate this with the chart of someone I identified as a serial killer and yes could see a lot of Scorpionic and 8th house influence in the chart, but the chart actually turned out to be Gandhi's! The response to this chart and posting was interesting. It was generally ignored, except I got a few posts saying that Gandhi was like a serial killer.

Certainly we cannot rely on the subjective feelings of clients. Even with horary, which is much more focused and precise than natal, clients' feedback is usually "wow, you got it 100% right" or occasionally "that was completely wrong". In fact, when I find out the facts generally I am not 100% accurate, but the occasional client reporting inaccuracy in the prediction is off base as well. How do I know this?

My practice is to always do my analyses in writing. This way I have an accurate record of what I told the client. Without this we are left trying to remember exactly what we said and have no real basis for determining the accuracy of the prediction. In addition, we have a record of what our prediction was before we knew the outcome. Then when I get feedback, I go back to the original reading, check it and then add the results.

Therefore as far as I am concerned this is the "gold standard" of astrological prediction. A true traditional astrological prediction must be made from a chart and the chart provided. The prediction needs to be in writing and give the astrological factors considered along with the analysis. The prediction needs to be made without knowing the outcome of the situation or the relevant life or event information for a natal chart. It needs to be as given to the client or as made in advance, without hindsight editing. And finally a true astrological prediction should show the results which should correspond to the analysis.

We need to be able to see how the astrologer did their work, step by step, so we can be sure of their astrological technique and that they even used astrology for their prediction. I do suffer by including the astrological factors because from time to time this either frightens or upsets clients because they can't understand the astrological terminology or clients decide that they don't like the outcome and want to argue with me about the technique used. I've never had anyone argue with me about the proper house rulership or aspects,etc. when they liked the outcome of the prediction! Still, only the foolish clients cause problems with this, many clients are very interested and appreciate seeing "under the hood" in the analysis and it is very useful for students and other astrologers to be able to see step by step how the analysis is made.

This "gold standard" of astrological analysis is pretty exacting. It eliminates all celebrity charts, looking at Hitler's and Einstein's chart, and going back and saying, "oh I can see why X happened, Lilith was sesquiqadrate your progessed Galactic Center".

It excludes, for example, Lilly's "prediction" of the Great Fire of London in 1666 as Lilly's prediction does not provide a chart and in fact, is not even astrological as it consists just of a picture of two men (Gemini. the sign of London) suspended over a fire. Also excluded is Zoller's "prediction" of 9/11. No chart is provided and the astrological factors used to make the reading are not provided.

I'm very cautious about public prediction, celebrities and flashy, topical readings. I just don't think I can do them accurately so I stay away from them. On the other hand, I do think it is important to push the envelope and see what can be done with traditional horary. While it took some time I just got feedback on a missing person horary I did awhile back. I wish I could give more information, but the client specifically requested that all identifying information be removed. Here is the chart, analysis and results.

It is my view that if we are going to advance as traditional astrologers that we need to stop fooling ourselves that we are predicting when we already know the outcome or when we are just guessing without actually using astrology. One of our goals in setting up the Society of Astrologers was to publish a journal. However, the submissions we got were 100% analyses made when the outcome was already known. This is not prediction!

When it comes to horary, I've published Warnock's Horary Case Book which contains over 40 real horary questions, as given to the client, the analyses, astrological factors considered and results.

In my courses, we work with charts whose outcome is unknown. This was particularly important to me in my Natal Astrology Course again no charts of Einstein, Hitler or Prince Charles.

Working with unknown charts and doing horary for clients puts your %$$ on the line! You will get it wrong on occasion. Looking at Hitler's chart you can never get it wrong, but then you never really are predicting.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Relationship Readings: Modern vs. Traditional

I've just gone through a major revamp of my relationship readings and added two new ones, the Compatibility Reading and a Compete Relationship Reading which includes a Compatibility Reading plus a relationship horary reading.

I've got a lot of relationship readings, here's a guide about how to choose a relationship reading

Ok, let's discuss relationship readings a bit. I'd estimate that relationship readings make up at least 60-75% of my total readings. For the most part these are horary readings. Relationships make very good subjects for horaries because they are so emotionally significant and important, giving very "juicy" charts. Horary relationship readings are very accurate, I can only remember one or two clients that reported back that the horary was incorrect, while it's pretty routine to have clients say "oh, yeah, you were right on the money with that reading"

Of course accuracy can be problematic in a relationship reading when the answer is no. Many clients do appreciate a honest answer even when it goes against their deepest hopes, but there are a significant number that are unhappy. Part of the problem is that other practitioners of the mantic arts, ie our other fortune telling colleagues, tend to give vague, positive answers. Psychics are particularly prone to this, but so, not surprisingly, are modern astrologers. "They told me he loved me but there was a dark cloud over him" as opposed to "he's an unreliable commitment phobe who's taking advantage of you"

Again, part of the problem is the methodology that modern astrologers are using. First they are trying to do a specific, focused prediction with a broad, general vague tool, the natal chart. Since a natal chart is true for your whole life, ALL of your relationships are in it, how are you going to pull out one specific relationship? I'm rather skeptical that it is possible to do accurate timing from a natal chart. When I see someone repeatedly nail accurate timing of events from an unknown chart, as opposed to looking at a known, usually celebrity chart and 20/20 hindsight, then I become a believer. It may be just that contemporary traditional astrologers haven't mastered the technique, but I do suspect that the traditional natal timing technique itself may simple be inadequate, I'm open minded. In any case, even if you can accurate time a transit, primary direction, etc, relating to relationships, how do you know whether it involves the particular person the querent wants to know about?

Secondly, in addition to problems with the lack of accuracy of natal prediction, modern astrology is very much predicated on being relentlessly positive. This is appropriate in the social worker/psychologist setting that informs the approach of modern astrologers. A natal chart is, in fact, an excellent way to model someone's psychology. I have no doubt that if I were a social worker or psychologist that I would do a natal chart for every client as a way to understand and work with their psychological and emotional state. What I would not do, however, is say to them, "only about 1/3 of my patients improve through treatment" I would want them to be enthusiastic and would be positive and upbeat about their prospect in order to encourage them even if their chance of success was not 100%.

Another problem with modern astrology is that they have only one basic tool, the natal chart. This is like a carpenter that only has a hammer and tries to put in screws, plane wood and bore holes with their hammer. Other than natal timing a modern astrologer also tries to use chart comparison or synastry to predict the outcome of a relationship as if compatibility was determinative of relationship success. Now certainly compatibility is interesting and useful, but I make very clear with my readings that my Compatibility Reading is not the way to go if you want to know what will actually happen with a relationship. I used to joke that I was 100% compatible with Scarlett Johansson, but that hardly translates into having a relationship. Of course, there are plenty of "incompatible" people in relationships, after all opposites can attract and complement each other.

One of the things I really prize about traditional astrology is that it has a "full tool box" with lots of different techniques and methods, all useful. When we predict using traditional we always want to try to base our analysis on multiple factors, not just one. This is what makes traditional astrology so accurate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mars Talismans & Pentacles!

I got a HUGE shipment of new talismans from Wade yesterday! I was like a kid in a candy store looking at all these new talismans & pentacles. One surprise was that the guy that did the finishing decided to go ahead and gold plate everything, WOW, all that gorgeous gold!

So first up are Mars talismans and Mars pentacles! Hmmmm....Mars? I think it's easy to overlook Mars, but he is very important. Mars gives you strength and determination, plus energy. Jupiter is great for wealth and prosperity, but leaving out Mars can lose you a key ingredient of success, DETERMINATION! Actually I'm finding one of my biggest obstacles these days is feeling tired and dragged out. If you are depressed and worn out, definitely worth considering Mars.

Now if your Mars is in Aries, Scorpio or Capricorn, Mars talismans are a GREAT fit for you. Mars in Libra, Taurus or Cancer, yellow flag! Be cautious, do a divination or paper Mars talisman to check out his effects. Mars in any other sign is fine. Mars combust or retrograde without other dignity, also a yellow flag.

So let's look at our brand new Renaissance Astrology Mars talismans & pentacles. First note that the election for these talismans was VERY STRONG! Mars is dignified by sign, by term and by face, a true SUPER +8!! I don't live and die by the dignity scores, since you can get quite good effects from exaltation (+4) on up, but it sure is nice to have the super strength.

So here are our new Mars talismans these are our STRONGEST Mars talismans and were made in a limited edition of just 5!!!! They are gold plated red bronze and really do look gorgeous with our visionary artist Robert Place's new Mars design from Agrippa.

The Renaissance mage Cornelius Agrippa says a Mars talisman, "makes a man potent in war, and judgments, and petitions, and terrible to his enemies, and victorious against them..." Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk II,ch 22. On the front of the talismans is the image of Mars from Agrippa, "...they made another Image of Mars for the obtaining of boldness, courage, and good fortune in wars, and contentions, the form of which was a souldier armed and crowned, girt with a sword, carrying in his right hand a long Lance; and they made this at the hour of Mars, the first face of Scorpio ascending [or culminating] with it." Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk II,ch 40.

There are just a few of these Mars Scorpio talismans, our most powerful Mars talismans. They are $299.95 plus shipping. Order info here

We also have Mars pentacles!!! This is the first time we have had Mars pentacles. Again we have just a few of each pentacle and they are also SUPER +8 and gold plated bronze. You can see the Mars pentacles here

I really like the 5th Mars pentacle (cool scorpion design!) for protection against demons and evil spirits!

The 6th Mars pentacle also looks very good for physical protection, very rare powers. We have just 2!!! of these.

So very interesting to check out, very exciting new talismans and pentacles. We will have more new talismans to come in the near future!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Age of Aquarius?

I had a poster ask about the Age of Aquarius, what is it? and what is its significance?

Ok, as always I like to start these discussions with my favorite hippy-dippy Youtube video

Alight! The solar year is 365 days and some hours, and is the time it takes for the Sun to move through all 12 signs/constellations of the Zodiac. The astrological great year is approximately 25,800 years and is the amount of time it takes for the Sun at the Spring Equinox to pass through all 12 constellations. This takes place because of the precession of the equinoxes. Each Sign's age is around 2,150 years.

The cycle goes against the order of the signs so the Age of Aquarius follows the earlier Age of Pisces. This is an example of mundane or geopolitical astrology on a truly vast scale!

Ok, so there's no doubt that the Age of Aquarius exists insofar as the Sun has or will eventually be in the constellation Aquarius at the time of the Spring Equinox, but what does this mean?

First problem is that unlike the boundaries of a sign, which are designed to be very, very precise, the boundaries of a constellation are very imprecise. When you are dealing with thousands of years, a few minutes of longitude make a big difference. Thus no one agrees about whether the Age of Aquarius has already started or when it will start, estimates varying over several thousand years.

Next, since the Aqe of Pisces, Aquarius, etc., each last over 2,150 years, there is an incredible amount of history, culture, etc., taking place, too much to accurate characterize with one sign. Think about Sun signs, with 6 billion people on the planet, each Sun sign has 500 million people each, scattered over the entire globe in many countries, cultures and ages. How accurately does their Sun sign reflect them? Not much, so how accurate can the Zodiacal Ages be?

So given that we have no idea when the Ages start or stop and the vast over generalization that the signs represent when characterizing 1,000s of years of history and culture, while they are very interesting for personal meditation and individual philosophical inspiration, they are of little practical use to astrologers for predictive purposes.

Traditional Astrology Reading List

I've been getting lots of inquiries recently about how to get started in traditional astrology and what books to read.

Here is my Traditional Astrology Reading List

Note that many of these books are traditional sources, ie written before 1700. There are a few good contemporary books written on traditional astrology which I have noted. I do get complaints about traditional sources being in "Old English" Note that actual Wikipedia on Old English was spoken and written in the early Middle Ages and is basically a foreign language. A text from say 1647, like Lilly's Christian Astrology is early modern English and a native English speaker, with some application, can learn to read it easily. Just start googling words you don't know!

One of the key missions of my courses, and I focused in on this specifically in the Natal Astrology Course is to make sure that graduates of my courses are fully able to read and use traditional sources. This allows you to go further than the handful of contemporary traditional astrology books and use ALL traditional sources in English!

Ultimately, it's my belief that if you are serious about learning, practicing and mastering traditional astrology you need to take a course with a teacher. Still by reading the books on my Reading List you can "get your feet wet" and get a good introduction to traditional astrology and magic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Languages for Invocation?

I had a poster asking about the use of Latin or Greek versus English for invocations. The whole question of sacred languages has been around for a long time.

Iamblichos says, "Because the gods have taught us that concerning the sacred races such as the Egyptians and Assyrians their entire language is adapted to sacred concerns and on account of this we believe that it is necessary for us to address the gods in a language that is natural to them." On the Mysteries, cited in Theurgy and the Soul, Shaw (Penn State 1995) at 180.

Shaw goes on to say that it is not the other languages are not given by the gods, but that some peoples, the Greeks, for example, by constantly changing and innovating, had lost the original divine inspiration that others, like the Egyptians had preserved.

In fact, Iamblichos sounds very Vedic, in emphasizing the very sound of divine names, like the bija or seed syllables of Sanskrit, that work through direct vibration and direct spiritual effect, without needing rational understanding. In fact, that is what makes these names divine, says Iamblichos, because they are beyond human understanding.

This is why I continue to use many planetary, Mansion and star names from many ancient languages in my astrological invocations.

However, Agrippa also says,

It conduceth therefore very much for the receiving of the benefit of the Heavens, in any work, if we shall by the Heaven make our selves sutable to it in our thoughts, affections, imaginations, elections, deliberations, contemplations, and the like. For such like passions do vehemently stir up our spirit to their likeness, and suddenly expose us, and ours to the superior significators of such like passions; and also by reason of their dignity, and neerness to the superiors, do much more partake of the Celestials, then any materiall things. For our mind can through imaginations, or reason by a kind of imitation, be so conformed to any Star, as suddenly to be filled with the vertues of that Star, as if it were a proper receptacle of the influence thereof.

Agrippa Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk I, ch 66

So, this makes it very useful to be able to understand the invocation we are making. If we read and especially if we speak aloud the qualities, powers and effects of Mars, it inspires us and also serves to connect us to Mars himself.

It is also not as if English is not a sacred language! In 500 years no doubt it will function like Latin in the Middle Ages.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Traditional Treasure Hunting

I recently had a client asking about Jupiter pentacle for finding buried treasure because they really did intend to look for treasure!

I was impressed by the very traditional nature of this search, since the modern equivalent is the lottery for the blue collar aspirant and the stock market for the upwardly mobile modern.

The 17th century author Reginald Scot asks, "How manie have beene bewitched with dreames and thereby made to consume themselves with digging and searching for monie &c whereof they or some other have drempt?"

Reginald Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk X, ch 7. available in the Renaissance Astrology CD Library volume II

I have to say that I tend to agree with Scot, with regard to treasure hunting and its modern form, lottery or stock market picking, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at astrology, magic and traditional treasure hunting.

Our first problem is finding the treasure. Lilly gives rules for finding buried treasure with horary astrology at pages 215-216 of his 1647 Christian Astrology. We must distinguish between treasure lost by the querent and treasure hunting. In treasure hunting, once we have found a likely spot we can ask if there is treasure there.

We first look to see if Venus, Jupiter or the North Node is in the 4th house, which signifies treasure. If so, there is treasure or something of value. Mars or Saturn well dignified in the 4th also indicate treasure. Christian Astrology 216. Once treasure is indicated, we look to the lord of the 7th to indicate what it is. The Sun ruling the 7th shows gold, The Moon, "silver, plate, crystal or jewels..." Christian Astrology 216. Lilly then discusses the various types of treasure and the question of whether the querent will actually obtain the treasure. Christian Astrology 216-8.

The use of divining or Mosaical rods to find treasure was also quite common. Continuing in Chapter VII of Book X, entitled "The art and order to be used in digging for monie..." Scot states,

"There must be made upon a hazell want three crosses, and certeine words both blaspemous and impious must be said over it, and hereunto must be added certeine characters, & barbarous names." Reginald Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, at 163.

An additional early modern example is provided by John Baptista Porta in his Natural Magick, where he states,

The greater part of Cozners, when they are themselves very poor and most miserable of all men, they profess themselves able to find out Treasures, and they promise to other men what they want themselves, and they use four Rods that are double forked, the tops whereof sticking close together crossways, they hold the lower parts of them with their hands open, neer their belly, they seem to mumble Verses, and the Rods fall down, and where they fall, they bid those men to dig what would find Treasures.

John Baptista Porta, Natural Magick (1658) Bk. XX, Ch. 8 at 405-6.

We find a modern parallel in hoodoo or rootwork, Southern folk magic, which is predominately African magical practice, but took in a good deal of European magical practice as well.

Our first hoodoo parallel is from Rod Davis' American Voudou, a contemporary account of African diaspora religion in the United States. Rod Davis, American Voudou (Denton, TX, Univ N. Texas Press, 1999). Davis' informant is Sarah Albritton of Ruston, Louisiana, who states,

"Her family lived in Clay, but she'd gone to Ruston to visit her cousins. They'd heard some money had been lost out in the woods and went to find it, using a silver spoon dangling from a red string that would "point to the money." Deeper and deeper they ventured into the forest. "Then we saw a light," Sarah said. "It was the spirit of the person who lost the money. Everybody was afraid to go any farther and we ran back. We buried a root under the doorstep to keep away the spirit. But I went back that night and saw the light again...and decided never to go back."

Davis, American Voudou, at 94-5

That treasure was guarded by spirits was a common, basic belief. The Key of Solomon, a medieval grimoire, gives the following admonition,

"The Earth being inhabited, as I have said unto thee, by a great number of Celestial Beings and Spirits, who by their subtilty prevision know the places wherein treasures are hidden, and seeing it often happeneth that those men who undertake a search for said treasures are molested and sometimes put to death by the aforesaid Spirits..."

The Key of Solomon the King, ed. S. Liddell MacGregor Mathers, (1888, reprnt. York Beach ME, Weiser, 1989 ed.) at 57. See Elizabeth Butler, Ritual Magic (1949, reprnt. University Park, PN, Univ Penn Press, 1998) at 47-67 for a discussion of the Key of Solomon.

This connection between spirits and treasure is widespread in hoodoo practice. The key hoodoo sourcework Henry Hyatt's Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft and Rootwork (1974) has an entire section entitled "Spirits Guard Buried Treasure." Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration at 111-135. After finding the treasure the treasure hunter must then surmount the dangers of the spirit guardian, which might also remove or transform the treasure if the proper precautions were not taken.

Hyatt's informant 1006 from St. Petersburg, Florida states,

There was a man who went to look for a hidden treasure because he had dreamed that in this particular spot there was a treasure hidden...When he arrived at the spot designated in his dreams the wind began to blow. But the old man paid no attention. He began to dig and dig and dig. Finally, the rain began to pour, thunder began to roll, lightning began to flash. But the old man dug just the same. After awhile his pick struck something that sounded like an iron pot...And when the pot was opened he saw that it was filled with gold and silver. The old man forgot that he wasn't supposed to utter a word before he got the silver in the pot and the old man suddenly cried, "Lord have mercy! Look what I have found!" At those words which were spoken...every bit of the silver turned to black charcoal and the pot turned to just a bit of clay.

Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration at 116.

Our master Lilly himself was no stranger to treasure hunting. In his autobiography he discusses a 1634 treasure hunt in Westminster Abbey complete with Mosaical rods, the uncovering of a coffin, and apparent spiritual intervention,

"From the cloysters we went into the Abbey church, where, upon a sudden, (there being no wind when we began) so fierce, so high, so blustering and loud a wind did rise, that we verily believed the west-end of the church would have fallen on us..."

William Lilly, William Lilly's History of His Life and Times, (1715, reprnt. London, Charles Baldwyn, 1822) at 79-80.

One method prescribed for protection for the guardian spirits was the prayer and Bible reading. Scot says,

"And whilst digging treasure is a digging, there must be read te psalms, De Profundis, Missa, Misereatur nostri, Requiem, Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Et nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo, Amen. A porta inferi credi viver bona & c. Expectate Dominum Requiem aeternam. And then a certain prayer."

Discoverie of WitchcraftBook X, ch. 7. This is an odd mixture of the Our Father, Ave Maria and prayers for the dead and the Psalms.

Here are some modern examples of reading the Bible for protection from the spirits. Hyatt's informant 7 from New York City, states,

...[T]here was a big crowd went out one night to hunt money and they were getting to the box. The had a woman reading the Bible. They always say to read the Bible to keep down the spirits...There's certain Scriptures you read for spirits, they say.

Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration, at 127.

Similarly, Hyatt's informant 1120(a) from Waycross, Georgia, indicates that it is necessary during treasure hunting to, "Read de Bible-King Solomon..." Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration at 121.

This barely scratches the surface of this fascinating subject. Additional useful areas to explore are various grimoires, including the Greater Key of Solomon, e.g. the 2nd Pentacle of Jupiter which can be used, "also to discover Treasures and chase away the Spirits who preside over them" page 69.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ask a Broad Vague Question, Get a Broad, Vague Answer!

I had a poster ask about astrocartography, a modern astrological technique that claims to be able to map your natal chart to a world map and thus provide good or bad places to live. The poster asked if there were traditional techniques that could do this.

First of all, if you have decided to move to Boston, for example, you can ask a horary, "Should I move to Boston?" But to do this accurately, in my experience, you need to have already seriously decided to move there, so that the use of astrology is at the end of the decision making process not the beginning.

When clients are still trying to decide among several alternatives, horary is less accurate and less useful. You can't ask "Should I move to LA, NY or San Diego?" in one question. And if you start asking multiple separate questions, "Should I move to Cleveland?" then next day, "Should I move to Detroit?", then you start losing the emotional "punch" needed for an accurate horary.

Now, Lilly does provide rules for identifying general areas to live in using horary at Christian Astrology page 137 and natal at Christian Astrology page 611. The problem with this method is that we don't have assignments of cities, states or regions to signs outside of Europe and Asia. Also even if we did this is not a very precise method because if Aries was an appropriate sign this could indicate

"KINGDOMS SUBJECT TO ARIES. Germany, Swevia, Polonia, Burgundy, France, England, Denmark, Silesia the higher, Judea, Syria.

CITIES. Florence, Capua, Napels, Ferrara, Verona, Utrecht, Marselles, Augustia, Casarea, Padna, Bergamo." Christian Astrology page 94.

What clients are really looking for is a very specific answer to the very broad question, "Where should I live?" I can understand this, but merely wanting it doesn't necessarily mean it is possible. This reminds me of my wife's moped. She was given a Chinese moped and we found out that Chinese mopeds, typically costing $1000 or less are cheaply made and unreliable. If you want a reliable moped you need to get a Japanese or Taiwanese moped which cost typically $2000. But people want a $1000 moped so they buy the Chinese version. It looks like a moped, but breaks down quickly and doesn't give good results. Wanting doesn't equal getting and in fact can lead you astray.

I question any astrological attempt to get accurate, specific information, particularly timing or location, out of a broad, vague horary question or any natal technique. The native's whole life is in the natal chart, trying to get specific information out of it is like trying to blow up a photograph, try to get too much detail and it just gets fuzzy.

It's pretty hopeless with modern astrology, which lacks technique and is basically hostile to prediction, but in my experience, even contemporary traditional astrologers have been unable to overcome these obstacles. It may be that we lack the experience and skill of our predecessors or it may be that this level of precision simply isn't possible.

It's very easy, however, to give the client what they want. Just be vague, be positive and if possible, put the prediction off aways into the future. "Oh, yes I definitely see you getting married in 2016!" The client is happy now and will likely forget the prediction years later. The astrologer can congratulate themselves on their brilliance and be long gone by the time the predicted time arrives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sometimes the Magic Works, Sometimes It Doesn't

I had a student write me recently about the interesting synchronicities and “effects” of a recent talisman. I commended them, but noted that the real test would be when they did a talisman and got no discernable effect.

This reminded me of a scene from the movie, “Little Big Man” and to quote Chief Daniel George, “sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t”

This is not what some clients want to hear. They want guaranteed results, they want to be SAVED! They are only putting up with these silly shenanigans because they’ve already tried all of the conventional means and this is their last chance. If it doesn’t work 100% of the time, instantly giving everything they want, the method, the mage and the magic itself are clearly bogus.

It’s not particularly good for sales, but if you are going to practice magic, get used to it, it won’t always work, at least not always as you expect.

Ok, obviously if one is an atheistic/materialist no magic is going to work, or if it does it is solely psychosomatic, the “placebo effect”. We can go a bit further and based magic solely on belief. This fits nicely with the New Age affirmation style, “if you just want something badly enough you can have anything” Oh, really?

But if we’ve moved outside atheistic/materialism then how do we explain magical success or failure? In the traditional view, the spiritual world underlie the material. It makes sense that it is easier to use the spiritual to cause spiritual effects than material effects. Algol, for instance, has been repeatedly reported as causing electronic interference, which makes sense as the electronic is already very spiritualized as compared to a rock or a piece of wood. Material effects need to come from material causes, but the arrangement and order of these material causes can be altered spiritually. For example, I once did a Jupiter talisman and 45 minutes later got a check for several thousand dollars. The check did not appear out of nowhere, I had to do work and bill for it. But the check showed up promptly after the Jupiter ritual.

A key realization is that magic is not the sole factor operating in a situation, it is just one of many. Why can’t a doctor cure every disease or lawyer win every case? Because there are multiple factors operating outside their control. If a client has multiple previous offenses, robbed a bank on video and confessed to the cops, no matter how eloquent his lawyer, he is likely to be going to jail.

Similarly, if you are a blind beggar in a Third World slum and manage to do a Jupiter ritual, you are unlikely to become a billionaire.

Fate, that concept seemingly most dreaded by moderns, materialist or New Age alike, is one culprit here. Our desires are simply not the only factors operating and certainly not the most powerful ones. But the issue is bigger than not getting what we want. Fata volentem docunt, nolentem trahunt, “the Fates lead the willing and drag those who are unwilling” What we see as some evil outside force stopping us from getting what we want, is, at a higher level of wisdom and understanding, Providence, that is the beneficient interlinking of all things and events in the Cosmos. Think of the child that wants to get into the cupboard and eat 50 cookies, giving themselves a bellyache. They will protest vociferously if we stop them, even in their best interests.

Now magic is probably never wasted and I think the planets and stars always appreciate the effort, but still as a magic user you will occasionally not get what you are looking for. Hopefully you can avoid credulously insisting that magic always works or the opposite extreme of righteously stomping off in indignation and roundly condemning it all as fraudulent. That it works sometimes is both sufficient and, in fact, quite incredible!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Algol and the Head of the Dragon

I had a recent post asking whether the fixed star Algol conjunct the South Node would be a problem. This is a good example of the nuances of traditional astrology. We do not want to fall into a classifying everything as simply good or bad, reality is much more complex than that.

The North Node of the Moon is known as the Caput Draconis, the Head of the Dragon and the South Node as the Cauda Draconis, the Tail of the Dragon. The Nodes are the points where the orbit of the Moon intersects the Ecliptic, the orbit of the Sun.

The English astrologer William Lilly says,

The Head of the Dragon is Masculine, of the nature of Jupiter and Venus, and of himself a Fortune; yet the Ancients doe say, that being in Conjunction with the good he is good, and in conjunction with the evil Planets they account him evil.

The Tayle of the Dragon is Feminine by Nature, and clean contrary to the Head; for he is evil when joyned with good Planets, and good when in conjunction with the malignant Planets. This is the constant opinion of all the Ancients, but upon what reason grounded I know not; I ever found the North Node equivalent to either of the Fortunes, and when joyned with the evil Planets to lessen their malevolent signification; when joyned with the good to increase the good promised by them:

For the Tayle of the Dragon, I always in my practise found when he was joyned with the evil Planets; their malice or the evil intended thereby was doubled and trebled, or extreamly augmented, &c. and when he chanced to be conjunction with any of the Fortunes who were significators in the question, though the matter by the principal significator was fairely promised, and likely to be perfected in a smal time; yet did there ever fal out many rubs and disturbances, much wrangling and great controversie, that the businesse was many times given over for desperate ere a perfect conclusion could be had; and unlesse the principal significators were Angular and wel fortified with essential dignities, many times unexpectedly the whole matter came to nothing.

Christian Astrology page 83

The Arabic astrologer Al-Qabisi, aka Alcabitius, says that the Head of the Dragon is a benefic and "Some say its nature is increase. If it is with the benefics it increases their good fortune; if it is with the malefics it increases their bad fortune...The Tail of the Dragon is a malefic...Some say its nature is decrease. If it is with the benefics it decreases their good fortune; if it is with the malefics it decreases their bad fortune. Thus it is said that the Head is a benefic with the benefics and a malefic with the malefics; the Tail is a malefic with the benefics and a benefic with the malefics."

The Introduction to Astrology, trans. Burnett (Warburg 2004) Chapter II page 87-9.

So, since we are using Algol as protection talisman, to diminish the effect of curses, perhaps being conjunct the South Node is appropriate? This is similar to the issue of Moon phase, again Moon waning is simplistically considered bad, but if we wish to diminish or remove it is exactly what we want.

Finally, we are going to do a final Algol casting before he/she gets too close to the South Node, ie within about 1-2 degrees. With this election we can have the Moon conjunct Algol within 8 degrees but still about 11-12 degrees from the South Node, which works!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reconsecration of Afflicted Planets' Talismans?

I had a poster ask about reconsecrating a Jupiter talisman when Jupiter was in detriment, which he will be until Summer of 2013. Definitely if we are creating a talisman we want to be careful about the election.

In essence we are "freezing" the moment of the creation of the talisman permanently in the talisman and at the moment of the initial consecration the spirit of the planet, star, etc., takes up residence in the talisman and begins the connection to the spirit.

Picatrix gives the example of Saturn,

How to speak with Saturn. When you want to speak with Saturn and ask him for whatever you wish, you must wait until he enters into good condition, of which the best is when he is in Libra, which is his exaltation, next in Aquarius, which is the house of his rejoicing, and last in Capricorn, which is his second house.
If you cannot have him in any of these three places, put him in one of his terms or triplicities or in an oriental angular or succeedent house (among all of which the angle of the midheaven is to be preferred), direct in his course, and in a masculine quarter, being oriental as mentioned above. Beware of his detriment and unfortunate aspects, of which the worst of all is a square aspect with Mars, and do not let him be cadent.
The most important point (of which you should take diligent care) is that you should see that the planet is in good condition and quality, and remote from infortunes, because when he is like this, he is like a man of good will and a lively heart and a great and ample mind, and if another person seeks something from him, he cannot find it in himself to deny the petitioner. When the same planet is retrograde in his course or cadent from the angles, he is like a man full of anger and ill will, who is most ready to deny a petition.

Picatrix Bk III ch 7.

Reconsecrating talismans is essentially renewing that original connection. Certainly it would be nice to have a good election for this, but I think it is less crucial. Following on from the passage in Picatrix quoted above, if contacting Jupiter when he is in detriment, though currently also dignified by term, means he is cranky. He's not going to be as helpful or generous, but at least you are keeping the connection going.

I've done a daily invocation of the planet that rules the day, everyday for years without ill effects. Still if one is cautious one could wait until Jupiter is unafflicted, the downside here is the loss of connection when reconsecration doesn't take place.

I then had another poster ask if I was reconsecrating all of my talismans daily. Hmmm...well perhaps technically no. I do an invocation of the planet of the day every day and I have talismans all over my altar space where I am doing the invocation, but since I don't suffumigate (move them back and forth through incense) I'm not sure I'd say I'm reconsecrating them.

On the other hand they are on the altar.....

Then again, with my Mansion talismans, 3rd, 7th, etc., every month when the Moon is in the appropriate Mansion I do actually reconsecrate with incense as well as candles. I often have 5 candles going at once, for example I had candles for the 3rd & 7th Mansions, a 6th Moon pentacle for rain (it's working!!!) the Sun from the Hermetic Zen Sun ritual, and the planet of the day all burning away. I use candles by the case!

This makes me think about the whole process and setup though. I guess you could say, for me, it's all about the overall connection to the spirits of the planets, stars, etc. I'm continually working on renewing my connection to these spirits in a devotional context. I wear the colors of the planet of the day, do daily invocations, do initial consecrations of mirror talismans and do reconsecrations of talismans. Talismans are part of this process, but not the sole focus.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Agrippa TBOP Bk I on Amazon!!!

Hot off the presses, the new modern translation of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy Book One is available on Amazon!!! It's $25 so you get free Super Saver shipping!

If you haven't already got a copy, definitely time to add it to your reading list. Three Books of Occult Philosophy is in the top 5 of Renaissance magic books, in fact it's a real tossup between Picatrix and TBOP for #1. Don't make me choose!

What's so amazing about Three Books of Occult Philosophy? Agrippa lays it all out, the whole basis of magic, of astrology, in fact how the whole Cosmos is arranged. Follow Agrippa and you will be a mage.

Three Books of Occult Philosophy was originally written in Latin and needs to be translated. But why would you want to work from an inferior translation? The JF translation is what everybody, Tyson & Llewellyn included, uses. But JF makes mistakes, JF doesn't know astrology very well, it was ok, if that was all we had to work from.

Now, we can work from a top notch modern translation done from the Latin critical edition which compared all extant Latin versions of Three Books of Occult Philosophy to create the definitive text. Eric Purdue took the Latin critical edition and translated Book One into English, carefully annotating and sourcing each reference. There are over 1,000 footnotes!

Very cool, very useful to have this available to us and now through Amazon! Folks, I have to admit I use Amazon constantly. Where else can you get any book in print easily. Please feel free to order through Amazon, they do take a chunk of profit, but they make it very easy for authors and publishers by taking care of ordering and shipping.

Here's the Amazon link again

And if you do want to order directly from us you can do it here

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Modern Translation of Book One of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy

I am very pleased to announce the first volume of three of a new modern translation of Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy!!! Three Books of Occult Philosophy Book One.

Picatrix is the only rival to Three Books of Occult Philosophy and where Agrippa omits some details of magic ritual and is not so focused on astrological magic as Picatrix, he more than makes up for it with his systematic exposition of how magic and astrology works. The three books of TBOP correspond to the three worlds, Material, Celestial/Imaginal and Divine/Archetypal/Angelic. If you understood Agrippa, you would truly be a mage!

Agrippa wrote TBOP in Latin in 1533 and so far we've had to get by with the 17th century JF translation. It's spotty, has mistakes and JF, (whoever he was) was weak on astrology. Tyson did his best with the Llewellyn version, but he didn't read Latin and didn't know traditional astrology. Frankly I basically ignore all of Tyson's comments on astrology they will lead you astray, except for really basic stuff like which star the text is referring to.

There is, however, a modern Latin critical edition. This is very expensive, over $200, and you need to be able to read Latin to use it. It is very useful, however, because the editor carefully looked at all the different versions of Agrippa and came up with the most accurate one possible.

Now Eric Purdue has come along and translated the Latin critical edition, so we finally have a true modern translation! Obviously it's going to be similar to the JF translation, but it is surprising how much JF and Tyson missed or misunderstood. This edition, which we are calling the Academic Edition, tries to be as literal a translation as possible, while still using modern English. Plus it is extensively sourced and has over 1,000 footnotes! This is Agrippa as close to the original as possible.

Now we are starting with Book One, which deals with the Material World, with occult virtues of natural things and natural magic. Very key part of magic, very important section of TBOP. We do hope to finish the complete TBOP and I can understand how readers might say, "oh, I'll just wait for the complete version to come out" Couple of things. First, TBOP is not translating itself, and there is not some big team of paid translators beavering away. Eric is doing this on his own time, with no guarantee of remuneration. The complete version may never come out! It is also going to take a long time, I would not expect to have Books 2 & 3 finished until late into 2013. Finally, by buying the individual volumes you support the ongoing translation effort as well as the translator and Renaissance Astrology. We are not government funded and not amateurs, we aim to continue to bring professional skill and professional quality translations to the contemporary esoteric community. Plus buy now and you get it NOW!

So, for the next 8-10 weeks, the new modern translation of TBOP Book One will be available just from the Renaissance Astrology website and for just $19.95 plus shipping. Once it shows up on Amazon, the price will be $24.95.

If you are a student of mine, if you are serious about traditional astrology and particularly traditional astrological magic, you need to get a copy of this new translation! Absolutely essential reading!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Video: How Do Astrology and Magic Work?

I am pleased to present another video, this time on magical and astrological causality: How Does Astrology & Magic Work?

You will note that in this video I am wearing a yellow shirt, as the video was made on Sunday, the day of the Sun whose color is yellow.

I hope you'll find these videos useful and interesting!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Video: Picatrix Editions

New Video!!!!

I just got new video and audio equipment so I am starting to work on new videos, podcasts, etc.

Here is a quickie Youtube video I made on the different editions of Picatrix.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

End of the World?

I was asked if there was anything astrological to support the 2012 APOCALYPSE!!!

Astrologically, nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

As secular humanist as modern Westerners may think they are, we are programmed by 2000 years of Judeo-Christian eschatological thought (google eschatology!) to expect the imminent END OF THE WORLD. Under this view there is a beginning, a direct linear progression and then an end.

My personal preference is more Greek or Asian and their cosmology and view of history is cyclical, not linear.

In any case, as John Greer has detailed in his book, Apocalypse Not, prophecies of the Apocalypse have been continuously made, failed and the failure ignored and then more are made.

Not only is the Apocalypse in our cultural "genes" but it serves a useful personal function as well. Currently our culture has two disparate views of the future, a binary choice between what I call "Star Trek" or "Mad Max" In the Star Trek future, science and technology has solved all current world problems, war, poverty, disease, and we effortlessly zip between the stars. In the Mad Max future a few wretched survivors scrabble for scraps in the ruins of great cities.

The advantage of this binary future is that we can excuse our current wasteful consumerist lifestyle and need make no effort to adapt to future change, after all there is nothing we can individually do to hasten the Star Trek future and nothing we can individually do to avoid Mad Max.

Also, as illogical as it may appear, the Apocalypse is very appealing to people that dislike their current job or life situation. If the world ends tomorrow, they won't have to go to work!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Astrological Software?

I had a poster asking about what kind of astrological software to buy. My response is, why buy expensive astrological software at all?

The difference between the free online software at Astrodienst (use "Chart drawing Ascendant") and expensive, commercial software costing several hundred dollars is pretty minimal. They all give you quick, easy and above all accurate charts, which Lilly no doubt would trip out over. He used to have his charts sent out to be done!

The most popular programs that traditional astrologers use are Janus and Solar Fire. I haven't used Janus, but I've never heard anyone complain vehemently about it and certainly lots of traditional astrologers like Janus and use it. Solar Fire is what I use, but with my special Traditional Page. This page only works if you already have Solar Fire! This is the horary/electional version which is free with my Electional Course, Horary Course and Astrological Magic Course. There is a natal version that comes free with my Natal Astrology Course.

I like the square chart, but it is not to everyone's taste!

Here's the thing. The marketing "hook" for astrological software, stated or unstated, is that if you spend the $300+ then you won't have to do anything else, the program will do everything for you, not only create a chart, but read it for you.

Sadly, this is not so! An astrological chart to an astrologer is like an X-ray to a radiologist. A vital tool, but useless without mastery of the area. I can assure budding traditional astrologers that don't feel they can afford $300+ that they are not missing out on anything essential by not having Solar Fire, Janus, etc. On the other hand, if you do want to spend your money, you are going to be fine for traditional astrology with Janus or with Solar Fire and my Traditional Page.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Must Just be a Coincidence!!!

Guess what? Today the Moon is in the 7th Mansion.

Silver 7th Mansion talisman
White Bronze 7th Mansion talisman
Glass 7th Mansion pendant
7th Mansion mirror

This is my newest talisman and I have been wearing a silver one.

Today turned out to be my biggest day for profits so far this month. Must just be a coincidence!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tower of the Winds: Ancient Astrological Architecture

I added a new web page on the Tower of the Winds, an ancient building in Athens.

The standard modern view is that it was "scientific" you know a big utilitarian clock tower.

The webpage is a description of the Tower by a 17th century Turkish traveler, who describes a great deal of astrological talismanic lore regarding it. Very interesting and reminiscent of the larger scale astrological talismanic workings in the Book of the Treasure of Alexander. and Adocentyn, the astrological city of Hermes Trismegistus in Picatrix, Bk IV ch 3.

We tend to think of talismans as jewelry, as rings or medallions. In fact, De Imaginibus of Thabit Ibn Qurra clearly is talking about statuettes and many of the Picatrix Bk IV chapter 9 mansions images are also to be made as statuettes, often of wax. Certainly magic mirrors and swords, for example, are part of our traditional view of talismans, but almost anything, up to a whole city, can be created as an astrological talisman. These forces permeate all material things and if we pay attention orient us to the spiritual cycles and forces that underlie everything in the material world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno is a key figure in Renaissance philosophy and magic. A good start is my Bruno page. Bruno is a tragic figure really, Bruno was even more contentious than me and managed to get himself in arguments and difficulties wherever he went. He eventually ran afoul of the Inquisition and was burned at the stake. The Church regarded him as a heretic for his magical views, while moderns have somehow turned him into a "martyr to Science" truly ridiculous, given Bruno's actual philosophy and practice.

See eg Martyr to Science Example

Here's an alternative view

One of the problems with Bruno, for those seeking to follow in his footsteps, is the incredible range of his knowledge. For example, he combined the Art of Memory which we've already mentioned with the Ars Combinatoria of Ramon Llul. Each a whole lifetime's study unto themselves!

My personal interest has been in Bruno's magic of the psyche. It would confuse moderns a bit to call it psychological magic because they tend to think it's all in the mind.

Professor Ioan Coulianu discussing Bruno's psychological magic in his Eros and Magic in the Renaissance notes that magicians have not disappeared in the modern world, "...they have simply been camouflaged in sober and legal guises... Nowadays the magician busies himself with public relations, propaganda, market research, sociological surveys, publicity, information, counterinformation and misinformation, censorship, espionage and even cryptography..." Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, page 104.

The key texts for Bruno's psychological magic are

Eros and Magic in the Renaissance

Bruno Cause, Principle and Unity: And Essays on Magic out of print as a paperback but available in Kindle edition

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Greater Key of Solomon is Wrong!

I had a rather aggravating phone call today from a person who berated me for not following every jot and tittle of the Greater Key of Solomon, repeatedly beating me over the head with not using tin for Jupiter talismans, not using the Greater Key's astrological conditions, etc.

I made the mistake of saying that tin would make a very bad talisman (it's very brittle, thin and light, think tin can! Yeah, that would be nice as a talisman) and trying to discuss the problems with the astrological conditions in the Greater Key. No point really since the caller HAD READ IT IN THE GREATER KEY!!!!! My explanations just sounded like excuses.

Upon reflection I realized I should have just said, "the Greater Key is WRONG!" That answer has the twin virtues of be so blasphemous as to cause the armchair dilettante mage to immediately hang up and of being quite true.

This is particularly true of the Mathers translation. Let's start with the planetary hours table on page 7 of the introduction. "It is for this reason that thou wilt see in the following tables to what Planet and what Angel each hour is submitted...." There are listings for each day of the week with the planets in the Chaldean Order, so far so good. Then there is a column that says "hours from Sunset to Sunset" which is rather confusing because there is no explanation that these are not the usual 60 minute standard hours. Complete confusion, however, is introduced by the next column that says, "Hours from midnight to midnight" From the table it looks as though these hours correspond to planetary hours. Not at all! Midnight is not used in the planetary day and hour system, just Sunrise and Sunset. Mathers takes these somewhat confusing tables and makes a complete botch of it, saying for example, "Supposing the student wishes to discover the properties of the hour from 12 to 1 o clock on Tuesday..." page 7. Nope, sorry, completely utterly wrong! Planetary hours are not the standard 60 minute hours, except just on the equinoxes. They vary depending on the locality and on the time of year. Even something as simple as planetary hours is misunderstood and misapplied in the Mathers editorial comment to the Greater Key.

We continue. The Greater Key has a very elaborate consecration ritual. I have noticed despite the tendency of some to insist on exactly following the Greater Key as far as the materials or timing of the making of pentacles, that once they get the pentacle nobody is doing the complete Greater Key ritual with the special shoes and wand cut in an instant with a silver blade, etc., etc. That apparently is dispensable. In any case, this is a honking great ritual and though it's a bit bossy and dominating to the astrological spirits, more than I tend to prefer would likely be quite effective if one was willing to expend the very considerable time and energy necessary to do it.

However, when it comes to astrological timing, the Greater Key is somewhat contradictory. In Book I, chapter 8, the magician is advised that the pentacles of all the planets should be made on Mercury day (Wednesday) and Mercury hour, with the Moon in an air or earth sign, as well as waxing and on an even day after the New Moon. In addition, colors are given for the pentacles and the instructions make clear that the pentacles are to be constructed of paper and the design written on them. However, in Book I, chapter 18, of the Greater Key of Solomon the standard planetary metals are listed and the magician advised to make the pentacles in the day and hour of the planet itself. Paper is listed as an alternative material.

Making a Sun or Jupiter pentacle on Mercury day and hour is frankly bizarre, and is not supported by any other traditional source. Uniformly Picatrix, for example, has Venus talismans made on Venus hour, Sun talismans on Sun hour and so on. Furthermore, we can see that the author of the Greater Key was a typical magician and not really well versed in astrological magic. These are not full chart elections, as listed in Picatrix or Thabit Ibn Qurra, but rely primarily on planetary day and hour with a few additions like the Moon's sign or phase.

This limited astrological timing just doesn't cut it, planetary day and hour is simply not sufficient. For example, later in 2012 Jupiter will go into Gemini, his detriment, a very serious affliction. If you make a Jupiter talisman with Jupiter seriously afflicted, even if it is Jupiter day and hour you risk disaster. I did this once and immediately started losing large amounts of money until I deconsecrated the talisman. But according to the Greater Key this should have been a wonderful time for a Jupiter talisman, any Jupiter day or hour will do.

The use of specified materials is particularly vexed. Here is the standard planetary metals assignment

Saturn = lead
Jupiter = tin
Mars = iron
Sun = gold
Venus = copper
Mercury = mercury
Moon = silver

The Greater Key substitutes for Mercury, "mixed metals" Well that's a bit more practical than trying to engrave a talisman on a metal that is liquid at room temperature. But you still don't want a solid tin Jupiter talisman (tin is too brittle and lightweight for a talisman) or a lead Saturn talisman (toxic). Frankly I suspect that paper/parchment was much more often used than metal for pentacles, for just these practical reasons.

Of course there are other planetary metal lists, Agrippa in Three Books of Occult Philosophy Bk II, ch. 22 says lead for Saturn, silver for Jupiter, with specialized Jupiter uses for red coral, Mars has iron and for specialized uses, cornelian and red brass, Sun, gold, Venus has silver again and for specialized uses, brass, Mercury has silver, tin, yellow brass, virgin parchment and Moon, silver.

Picatrix Bk II, ch. 10 has Saturn with iron and gold, Jupiter, lead (!!!), Mars, ruby, Venus, red brass, Mercury, mercury, tin, and Moon silver.

Picatrix Bk III, ch 7, says Saturn is lead, Jupiter, tin, Mars, bronze, Sun, gold, Venus gold/silver alloy, Mercury, fixed mercury, Moon, silver.

But even if you use the "canonical" planetary metal list you are missing the point, the power of the talisman is not in the metal out of which it is made and the point of a talisman is not to look pretty or please your aesthetic sense, these are points of contact with powerful spiritual beings! It's a nice bonus to use the appropriate metal ruled by the planet. It is simply not necessary however and only a small part of the magical charge comes from the materials. Ritual and timing are the true key. And the Greater Key itself supports this. After all, the Greater Key says that the pentacles can all be made out of parchment, just with different colors and designs. Why can't they all be made out of vellum, or wood or silver or bronze and with varied designs? The answer I got from my irate caller, "You can't because that's not what the Greater Key says"

In fact the real answer is that the power of an astrological talisman comes primarily from the carefully elected time of its making and the consecration to the appropriate spirit. Materials are much less significant.

As Thabit Ibn Qurra says, "you should begin to work on the image [i.e., talisman], that is, by means of casting it in the form you have made from gold or silver or copper or lead or tin. It does not matter of which of these metals the image is made, because its health and strength require nothing else; it is perfected by the exactness of the ascendant alone." De Imaginibus, Chapter V.

Renaissance Astrology pentacles don't follow the Greater Key exactly and we do this because following the true full chart traditional astrological methodology provides a much more powerfully charged talisman. We don't use the traditional metals because it simply isn't necessary for a powerful talisman.

Practical Tips for Incense

The choice of incense is a big topic. A good start for planets are my planetary rulership pages. If a planet or fixed star, for that matter, rule a substance you can use it as incense. Just watch out that it isn't poisonous or creates noxious smoke when burned.

Let me talk about a bit about practical use of incense. The key with incense is first USE IT! Making sure that you do invocations with incense at all, is more important than what kind you use. I find that when I recommend incense that clients can be so worried about getting the wrong kind or making some kind of mistake that they don't do the invocation at all. You don't have to get mastic gum resin for Jupiter or rosehips for Venus, though the planets appreciate the effort, you can use standard stick incense.

Now, if you are allergic to incense, don't feel like this is a disaster either. I've had clients use a vaporizer or aroma therapy style oils instead. Or punch up the candles, use a number of them, rather than just one, if you can't use incense. Another option is using a tiny amount of incense. That's what I tend to do, just one or two beads of frankincense or mastic. My sinuses can't handle the huge clouds of incense that seem to the norm among ceremonial magicians. A third option is smokeless or rather more realistically low smoke incense.

Here's the smokeless incense page at Scents of Earth, a company which a client just turned me on to

I got a box of the Baiedo Bikou Kobunboku Smokeless and I really like this. I use this for my Buddhist altar, half a stick and we don't even notice the smoke or incense at all.

This does look like a good source for traditional incense, here's the
Scents of Earth main page One thing I am particularly into is the special Japanese charcoal

Here's the big size of Japanese charcoal, but I like the small size charcoal, which I cut in two for my super minimal incense use.

You have to use charcoal for authentic resin incense like frankincense (it comes in these little beads). You need an incense burner, charcoal, tongs (charcoal is HOT!!!) and the incense beads. Pick up the charcoal with the tongs, light the edges in a candle till they are glowing red and then place the charcoal in the burner. Then put the beads of incense on the charcoal. I put the incense burner on a glass plate and I NEVER LEAVE BURNING CANDLES or INCENSE UNATTENDED!!! I don't care how magical it is, I don't care if people have left candles in their bathtub or oven unattended, this is a VERY BAD IDEA!!!!

The great thing about the Japanese charcoal, as opposed to the standard round version you get at hoodoo shops or botanicas is that the Japanese charcoal doesn't spark like crazy.

Another excellent source for incense is Harry at Alchemy Works.

Cleaning Talismans

I had a rather amusing e-mail the other day. A client was very concerned that the talisman they had bought had [big pause for effect] TURNED BLACK!!! This would be very, very worrisome if this was not the natural effect of moisture and air on silver and bronze, it's called tarnish.

Now, that's not to say that tarnish can't be telling us something. I find with protection talismans, for example, if someone is throwing malefic magic at you, that your protection talismans can tarnish faster than normal. Don't however, start getting paranoid over this, since it could just be that you're wearing them in a humid room!

So, not surprisingly, lots of clients ask me, "how should I clean talismans?" Good question! Silver talismans you can use silver polish on. Be careful with our really old style talismans with the flat finish on the background that you don't scrap or scratch the finish. This is why we phased that style out, because I don't want even an occasional scratch.

But this question becomes more difficult now that we have added bronze talismans. "How do you clean bronze?' Well, you don't want to use Brasso or other cleaners intended for outdoor brass and bronze like signs or fittings, because these cleaners are abrasive.

What I've found and this works great for gold, silver and bronze is the Sunshine cloth. This is a soft cloth impregnated with cleaning
solution. You can get the Sunshine cloth at Amazon or just google search them.