Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Devotional Approach to Working with Astrological Spirits

I had an interesting question recently about deconsecrating a paper talisman. The querent wanted to know how to deconsecrate a paper lunar mansion talisman at the same time as creating a new talisman for the same mansion. This is a perfectly reasonable question and I definitely don't want to insist that my way is the only way, but the question got me thinking about my whole approach to working with astrological spirits.

I must admit that I always feel uncomfortable with deconsecration. I realized that this springs from my basic attitude toward astrological talismans and spirits, which is not necessarily the only way to approach them. Let me lay out my own stance, which I do not insist is the sole "correct" way, just what I have personally been guided to. My approach is very devotional, more "religious" and is very much in the context of my overall Buddhist spiritual path. It is quite similar to how the planetary and stellar spirits are treated as gods in Vedic astrology and Hindu spirituality.

I see the power of astrological talismans as coming primarily from the astrological spirits that inhabit them, if they are created at the proper time and consecrated. The astrological spirits I work with are angelic, in the Buddhist context they are devas, so they are much more powerful than I am. I cannot command them and they do not wish to make deals with me. I am blessed to be able to be in contact with them and the material benefits I may receive are a secondary bonus of this contact. I don't tend to ask for specific results from them. I seek to have a long term close connection to these spirits and venerate them at appropriate times by invoking them and offering candles and usually incense. My attitude and actions, as much as I can, are always respectful. You might call my approach devotional.

There are certainly other ways to approach astrological magic. We could consider it a matter of "energy" and the talismans as batteries charged with astrological "energy" This is not untraditional, as there is a lineage of ancient astrology that conceptualizes the effects of astrology and talismans this way. Al-Kindi, in his On the Stellar Rays, takes this approach, describing how all things radiate spiritual rays. Now this is definitely not a modern scientific view because these rays or energy are not detectable by science and not part of the electro-magnetic spectrum or light or gravity. Nevertheless, this is closer to the scientific attitude than my approach.

So if we are just dealing with impersonal energy stored in batteries, we can make whatever talismans we want, the focus on whatever effects we desire and then dispose of the talisman once it is used up or we no longer need its effects. As moderns we don't worry that the battery or the electricity it contains and by extension the energy of a talisman, will be offended if we toss it out, we just need to figure out the proper disposal method once we've gotten whatever use we wish out of it.

Another traditional attitude, but one different from the devotional approach, is to work with spirits but in either a contractual or dominating way. These approaches are exemplified in Western esoteric practice by the pact with the Devil or demons (explicitly contractual) or by the Solomanic grimoires which seek through invocation and conjuration to dominate spirits through the will of the magician, names of God and other means. Goetic magic uses both of these means, commanding the spirits, but also providing them with what they desire (rum, a chicken, tobacco, etc.) in return for specific results. These approaches are not "wrong" just different from the devotional approach. The focus is on gaining particular effects desired by the magician as determined by the magician. The spirit is either willingly or unwillingly induced to provide what the magician wants.

So depending on what our view is of our relationship with the talisman and spirits that will clearly determine our attitudes about consecration and deconsecration, ritual and results. If the talisman is a piece of lifeless technology, obviously there is no problem tossing it out when you are finished with it. If the talisman contains a dangerously rambunctious servant, then you need to treat it as toxic unless and until it is properly disposed of when you are done with it. If you are the boss, then you can experimentally invoke spirits just to see what happens, but you need to be fully protected in case they attempt to rebel. If you are respectfully calling upon a powerful friend, teacher or benefactor with an appropriate request or simply to show respect, no protection is necessary, but it would be disrespectful to decide you are done with it and to dispose of it thoughtlessly.

Being called to the devotional approach, I obviously prefer it. I like that as long as I am respectful, I need not worry about spiritual protection from the astrological angelic spirits I invoke. I don't need to watch my back! I also don't need to worry about getting tricked or getting the letter of my request granted but with all sorts of side effects. I can trust that the planetary and stellar spirits have my best interests at heart and will send me what I truly need versus what I may think I desire. This approach obviously colors my practice and in fact, I am more of a celestial priest, than an astrological magician.

All of these other approaches are certainly traditionally rooted and followed by contemporary practitioners. The advice of the famous Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi is appropriate, "seek the spiritual path that inspires you" I feel blessed having been guided to the path of devotion.

1 comment:

Edwin said...

Thank you for this article.