Thursday, February 12, 2009

Enochian Meltdown Stories?

My magical working group has recently started a new series of Enochian rituals evoking the Kings from the Heptarchia Mystica. A couple of years ago we did a similar series with mixed results - we got some good information, but also a lot of stuff that didn't turn out to be very useful. So this time around I've tweaked the ritual structure some more and based on the first couple of workings the series seems to be going well.

One of the members of our group blogged about the series online and got a response from a reader repeating the old "Enochian Meltdown" story - you know, that Enochian magick wrecks your health, finances, relationships and so forth. I've been using the Enochian system for years and I know that this isn't true for me, but I am curious if anyone reading this blog has had bad experiences with the Enochian entities. Frater BH and MY GAL recently did a series of Enochian work and aside from an urge to clean house they appear to be doing just fine.

In addition, in Enochian Vision Magick Lon DuQuette claims that he has never come across a documented case of the "Enochian Meltdown" phenomenon. I find that kind of interesting because he's been an OTO initiate since the mid-seventies in California, and Thelema seems to attract a disproportionate number of Enochian magicians due to Aleister Crowley's interest in the system and the significance of The Vision and the Voice in the Thelemic canon. If Lon really has never come across a case, I'm tempted to dismiss the whole thing as spurious. If the system was really all that dangerous, you would think he would know at least a couple of folks who had trouble with it.

My current working hypothesis is this: Enochian is totally safe as long as you use the proper temple equipment. Frater BH and MY GAL did; their setup is nicer than mine and the pictures are worth a look. I have always worked with the ring, lamen, Holy Table, Sigillum Dei Aemeth, and Ensigns of Creation and am convinced that this is the right way to approach the system. Lon DuQuette uses simpler materials like tagboard and so forth, but he still uses the equipment. All of us are just fine, thank you very much, with no meltdowns to report.

However, there are some authors out there who contend that you don't need any of the furniture and implements for various reasons. The Golden Dawn and Crowley didn't emphasize them and The Vision and the Voice was produced using only a circle in the desert and Crowley's scrying stone. Benjamin Rowe used to argue that the furniture is only for use with the Heptarchial entities. And the list goes on. Somebody did once start to tell me the story of a friend of a friend who supposedly had some problems, but not only did it sound like an urban legend, when I asked if this supposed individual used any of the equipment I was told "of course not."

So here are my questions for anyone out there. Do you know of someone who worked with the Enochian system and had problems that seemed to be related to their Enochian work? If so, what sort of problems did they encounter and did they use any temple furniture or implements? If they used some but not all of the implements, which ones did they use?

Your contributions to the science of magick are much appreciated.

UPDATE (2/16/2009): I've left this post at the top of the page for longer than usual in the hopes that more people will see it. So far boleskine93 has posted a story that he heard about one practitioner that I'm pretty sure I hadn't heard before, but there certainly is not the influx of stories that I would expect if the rumors about the dangers of Enochian magick were true. I'll leave this as the top posting for another day or two and I encourage anyone with a story to add it to the comments, but so far the "Enochian Meltdown" phenomenon remains elusive.

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28 comments:

boleskine93 said...

Hello my friend. Interesting post, as usual. I have only heard of one case, and it was the typical "friend of a friend" story. This magician was actually committed for a period of time; I heard he was schizophrenic. I also believe it was pre-existing thing, possibly exasperated by his Enochian work. From what I gathered, he had a full working temple/equipment.

Prenna said...

I can't wait to see the responses to this post. I've spent years trying to find actual cases of Enochian Meltdown and have found nothing more substantial than "I heard about this guy, this one time who...".

Ananael Qaa said...

Interesting post, as usual.

Thanks.

I heard he was schizophrenic. I also believe it was pre-existing thing, possibly exasperated by his Enochian work.

Do you know any additional details that might help me track the story down? For example, do you know where in the country this supposedly happened?

I personally know at least one individual diagnosed with schizophrenia whose delusions were made worse by doing magick, but they weren't doing anything resembling Enochian. Bipolars can have problems with magick sometimes, too, because one of the symptoms of the manic phase of that particular illness is the delusional belief that you have some sort of ability to control the world around you with your mind. But what about times when you really do? That can get pretty confusing. One of the things you learn as a psych major is that 25% of the population has some sort of mental illness. That's a huge number, so you would expect there to be a few people out there doing magick who maybe shouldn't be.

Years and years ago when I was a teenager there was a group of Fundamentalist Christians claiming that Dungeons and Dragons led to suicide. They published the number of suicides that were known to be gamers and it sounded like a huge number, but in an issue of Dragon Magazine one of the readers wrote in a letter to the editor pointing out that if you took the number of suicides that this group claimed was related to D&D and divided it by the estimated number of D&D players in the country the resulting percentage was half of what the suicide rate was for the general population. So maybe gaming really prevented suicide - the data didn't show any other possible correlation even though on its own the number of suicides sounded like a lot.

I always keep that letter in mind when evaluating anecdotal accounts of the relative dangers of different magical systems. I'm sure there are people out there who do Enochian magick and have problems related to mental illness, but my question is whether or not Enochian is more dangerous than any other system. So far, in my experience, the answer to that is no. But part of the reason for posting this is to see if the data really exists out there to prove my hypothesis wrong. I will say that I have on occasion directly invoked Enochian entities and from those experiences I have a sense of what Kelley complains to Dee about a lot in the diaries, the feeling that the spirits were "moving in his head." Invoking Enochian entities does feel like that and I think it would be pretty disconcerting over a long period of time rather than for the hour or so it takes to accomplish a particular magical objective. But they can be banished just like any other spirit once you've finished your rite and so far I've had no lingering effects from it.

boleskine93 said...

The most I can relay is that he was hearing voices in his head (his words) and that it came about after his working. I only know that he was living at the time in the Danvers/Salem MA area. I know, I know, I'm lacking on any meaningful information. But I'm trying. Thank you for your good Work, by the way.

Ananael Qaa said...

Thanks, I really do appreciate the information such as it is.

The most I can relay is that he was hearing voices in his head (his words) and that it came about after his working.

Well, it can feel like that before you banish everything and shut the temple down, but I've never had any problems with those voices lingering and making trouble after a rite. If the individual you mention really was a Dee purist another question that comes to mind is whether or not he used the ceremonial forms in his workings or if he at least used a license to depart. Dee never wrote one, but I have one of my own that I put together because it seemed to be a piece that was missing from the system, at least for practical workings.

Another unrelated story involving the "Enochian Meltdown" idea is The Black Lodge of Santa Cruz, published online in 2002. I don't know how true everything in it is since I personally know one of the individuals who was supposedly involved and not only is he fine and happy with his life, but to my knowledge he still practices Enochian magick. I will say that if the Enochian portion of the story is true, I find it to be an interesting confirmation of my hypothesis that temple equipment = safety since problems only start to show up when the group in question stops using the equipment. I certainly never intend to quit using mine.

Theo Huffman said...

I have to preface this by saying that I have absolutely no knowledge of Enochian magic beyond what I've read in books.

Nonetheless, since you did ask for "documented" cases, it did occur to me that there is a case referred to in a copyrighted report from the Institue for Hermetic studies called "How to Study Enochian Magick" (I plan to do EM some day, so I'm collecting materials). In the report, he refers to an interview he conducted of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. She said that an officer in her order took up Enochian magick, and, in her opinion, got too intense, or too zealous, doing Enochian ritual every day. One day he found all the furniture in his temple piled in one corner. He put it back, but found it in the same condition the next day. This kept happening until one day he decided to deconsecrate the temple and take it apart. Whatever had gotten a hold of him started moving stuff around in his house. He tried every sort of banishing he could imagine, and even brought in a priest to do an exorcism. Eventually he moved away and sold all of his occult books and quit practicing magick.

Ashcroft-Nowicki describes the man as a very competent occultist, a very good ritualist.

So, go figure.

I've read The Black Lodge, by the way. Fascinating. Feels very voyeuristic to know that all those people are real people. I think one of the indications that they were going off the deep end was their willingness to do an Enochian invocation for an MIT math class. What were they thinking??? They had no idea who the people in that class were and what they thought. Talk about casting pearls before swine.

I also read an interview in which one of the people involved says the author never held a job while he was living in Northern Cal. Um, no wonder his wife divorced him. No wonder he came unglued. It's cool to be reaching for the skies, but you better keep your feet on the ground.

Ananael Qaa said...

In the report, he refers to an interview he conducted of Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. She said that an officer in her order took up Enochian magick, and, in her opinion, got too intense, or too zealous, doing Enochian ritual every day.

Seeing as Ashcroft-Nowicki's order, the Fraternity of the Inner Light, followed the Golden Dawn curriculum I'm guessing this individual was probably doing GD Enochian - no ring, no Holy Table, maybe nothing but the "elemental" tablets. The frequency by itself is no problem - I've gone through periods where I've done Enochian rituals every day and I'm fine. I wonder if this was the same situation that convinced Paul Foster Case to remove all the Enochian elements from the BOTA curriculum. It wouldn't suprise me - he knew that same group of folks.

I've read The Black Lodge, by the way. Fascinating. Feels very voyeuristic to know that all those people are real people.

One of the things to keep in mind about the "Black Lodge" account is that it essentially is a story told by a disgruntled or at least disillusioned former OTO member, so I think it needs to be taken with a big grain of salt. The order described in the story doesn't bear much resemblance to the organization that I've been involved in for almost 15 years and the real people I have met who supposedly took part in it are also rather different in person from how they are portrayed.

I think one of the indications that they were going off the deep end was their willingness to do an Enochian invocation for an MIT math class.

But was that really true, or was it something somebody said in jest that the author thought would make the story of everybody coming unglued seem more believable? It doesn't make very much sense if it was true, kind of like Gene Ray wanting to lecture to MIT about the time cube, since Enochian doesn't have much of anything to do with math.

0mage said...

Enochian is bad news.

Just look at the majority of the people who practice it.

They all get hurt on some level.

The GD was wrong to include it.

Paul Case was right to get rid of it.

Lon makes money writing books, there is a conflict of interest there.

John Dee was a spy. Biographies about him are deceptive.

Kelly. We all know about him.

David Jones did lots of PCP.

Angels? They are not Angels.
They don't care about you.
They just want to use you.

May Enochian Magick dissolve back into the "pit" from where it came.

Sator said...

Seems to be an old post, but I have a story. You know; there is a Yahoo group in spanish that deals with enochian. Id join them one year after they started, and in private comunication one of the founders told me that a friend of him, Started enochian operationes in his house and poltergeist fenomena appers. After a while a fire started in the kitchen and he got burned, not so badly, but enough for being life frightened with enochian.
Good blog!

Josephus said...

Hello Ananael,

I used to do Enochian. One of the first times I did it, I had no percievable results. It was an evocation of one of the earth angels. However, later that night I had a MAJOR nightmare and symptoms of psychic attack. Maybe coincidence, but I dont believe in coincidences. Also, every time I recited the calls, I would feel no effect, nor see any result, but about 2 hours later I would feel what could only be described as WAY too much light coming through my head, as if it were going to split open, and also major anxiety. I tested this several times, with the same result.

I also have felt the "spirits in the head". Sometimes after only reading on enochian for a while. It's kind of hard to sleep when you're feeling wings flapping around you :-)

After a while, considering the results obtained versus the unpleasant effects, I decided to leave enochian altogether. I am still very curious and interested in it, but every reading I do to see the results I might get, comes up as something I definately shouldn't do.

Regards, Josephus

Va Highlander said...
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Va Highlander said...

The results of Enochian are very strongly dependent on what the operator brings to the experience. Crowley did it and we got a 'new' Aeon and much of modern occultism. Kids today do Enochian and...well...we get discussions about whether that nightmare might have been caused by the 13th Key or the two slices of cold pizza he ate before bedtime.

Whether or not one uses Golden Dawn temple furniture when practicing Enochian is pretty much irrelevant. What a silly idea!

I've read Black Lodge and knew many of the folks named therein. For the record, MIT is not mentioned in that text, not even once. That the Caliphate today under Bill Breeze bears no resemblance to the Order back then was rather the author's point, I thought.

The Scribbler said...

That was me who miswrote. Stanford, not MIT. Kind of an East Coast/West Coast confusion. Stanford is the MIT of the West Coast, or visa-versa, depending on how you look at it.

Va Highlander said...

As I recall, it wasn't Stanford, either.

I find it fascinating that, in your comment, you claim to know what was going on in the heads of these people, yet you cannot even reliably state where and under what circumstances this incident took place. Is there some special insight or knowledge you bring to your analysis that gives this observation more weight than at first appears?

The Scribbler said...

OK. Mea Culpa. I went back and searched The Black Lodge and realized I was wrong twice. They performed Enochian Magic for a History of Mathematics class at UC Santa Cruz (a far cry from either MIT or Stanford).

I reread my comment, and I do not suggest I know what was going on in anyone's head. I just question the wisdom of doing powerful magic rituals in front of total strangers. Does it really matter, at that rate, if they did it at Harvard or at Jim-Bob's Business College?

I think I made myself pretty clear when I prefaced my comments: I have never done Enochian magic, and I do not know anyone mentioned in The Black Lodge. My remarks are base solely on the report itself and a few items I found when searching the internet afterwards. Yes, I realize this is a very limited view of the subject, and I never tried to pretend that my remarks were anything more than just that.

But suffice it to say that I am highly impressed by your implied superiority and your tactful willingness to flame at me on another person's blog.

Va Highlander said...

Theo,

"Flame at you"?

You wrote:

"They had no idea who the people in that class were and what they thought. Talk about casting pearls before swine."

I honestly don't see how you can make such a statement without pretending to know the minds of everyone involved. And I won't ask how such behavior indicates these characters were "going off the deep end", as that would be cruel.

Va Highlander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Va Highlander said...

Back on topic and before taking my leave:

Personally, I don't know of anyone that melted down as a result of Enochian. I have never heard of such a meltdown from someone I trusted, either. I suspect that this legend goes back to Case, who for obvious reasons needed to 'prove' that Enochian was dangerous.

Scott, good luck on your Heptarchical research and best to all.

[Stupid blogger interface needs an edit feature. This is the second time I've had to delete a post just to fix a single error. Apologies for any confusion.]

Psybience_Rising said...

I'm assuming you have already read the infamous article by Paul Foster Case to Israel Regardie addressing this. It concerns friends and acquaintances practicing Enochian who began suffering these "meltddown" symptoms. My friend showed me the document, which was the first time I heard of such a thing. We all know what happens when you flood a light bulb with too much wattage- a burnout or full-blown explosion. This article is floating around the torrents. I can also mail it to you.

Va Highlander said...

I have read the letter. I thought it was silly.

Case is pretty good when it comes to the Tarot. I do not see him as any sort of authority on Enochian in particular or magic in general. That letter to Regardie supports my assessment.

If you or anyone else wishes to accept Case's petty prejudices as some sort of profound insight then be my guest.

GABRIEL said...

I will say that Enochian Magick is safe to me if you follow the preparation's of the Golden Dawn. People should spend more time building his/her aura, and dispelling unwanted energies, habits and thoughts prior to entering high tech magical systems like Enochian. I have found alot of times that there are people who fail at magical operations. Because he/she is posses with obsession. Obsess with being something he/she did not take the time to prepare him/herself to be. I know of two cases actually and personally of a Enochian melt down. One was a young man who already suffered from bi-polar condition. He was a 3=8 initiate of the Golden Dawn, but was during advance work when he was not suppose to. He was found wearing the Hierophant robe and the sword walking the down the street saying " I am the master of the world." And was committed and that really broke my heart because I knew him personally. The other one shot himself in the head.

GABRIEL said...

I personally believe in the Golden Dawn method of introducing one element at a time, into the individual aura. And letting that dosage of that element integrate in his/her life. Let us be honest on this forum Enochian magick is not for everyone. There are plenty of stories of Golden Members, not going any further in his/her work after the 5=6 initiation. One branch does not make a tree, and that means there are plenty of systems for an individual can find that will suite him/her. Even Israel Regardie told the cicero's that no one should meddle with Enochian magick until he/she had done 5=6. Evoking or Invoking elements that he/she have not taken the time to balance within him/herself will destroy the individual no matter the safe guards.

Geoffrey Nelson said...

What I think is interestinng is you seem to be curious about cases regarding "enochian meltdown" and claim that you are interested in evidence to prove your viewpoint about its lack of validity wrong. I have read several example in thes comments and yet you have repeatedly discounted every claim. Seems to me your mind is already made up irregardless of what stories you read and you are resolved to maintain your current point of view. So, why even open the subject for discussion if you yourself are not open to evidence which contradicts your views?

Geoffrey Nelson said...

The simple fact is life is a dream, this world is an illusion and enochiana is just one of innumerable deceptions which must be discarded in order to find truth. "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern." -William Blake

Geoffrey Nelson said...

Look at all the names, titles and organizations you identify yourself with and ask yourself if that is bringing you closer to or farther away from the source of life.

Scott Stenwick said...

This is the thing - I expect there to be a few examples. One in four human beings has some form of mental illness. If you have a mental illness, many forms of magical practice can make it worse. I take no issue with those statements. Furthermore, some percentage of the people interested in magical practice are interested in Enochian. Therefore, I would expect to see a few individuals here and there who have problems with it, and I did not mean to come off sounding like I think Enochian magick can never cause problems.

What I'm trying to work out is this - whether Enochian magick is uniquely dangerous among magical systems. THAT'S what I don't see any evidence of from the few anecdotes presented above. I can find just as many anecdotes about Qabalah, or the Goetia, or even meditation. And the only reason I'm looking for evidence at all is that for the longest time, the unique danger of Enochian was conventional wisdom, and it is true that without stronger evidence than anything presented here, I just don't buy it.

As a point, I can throw a similar argument back at you. If Enochian is simply an illusion to be transcended, why are you even bothering to comment here? I have a hard time believing that you're going to convince people to stop practicing, just on your say-so. But of course, I could always be wrong.

Michael Mani said...

In my opinion Paul Foster Case had enough experience in ritual work, so he created an effective initiatory path without Enochian magic but with quabbalistic magic. My favorite hermetic text is found on the hermetik international website: http://www.hermetik-international.com/en/media-library/occultism/the-life-power/4948-2/

Scott Stenwick said...

The BOTA system that Case put together is fine, especially his work on the Tarot. You certainly do not need to practice Enochian to get results, spiritual or otherwise. The Qabalistic angels can be quite effective as well. If you don't want to do Enochian magick, Case's system is probably the best alternative out there to the more traditional GD system that includes the Concourse of Forces and so forth.

I do think, though, that Case kind of freaked out about Enochian to a degree that is not warranted by the system itself. He was talking about people working with the GD system, for one thing, which is very different from the original system. I'm not enough of an expert on the GD system to tease out whether or not the people he knew who had problems with it were running into specific problems or shortcomings with that system, or if those people had problems to begin with (which, as you can probably guess from the original post, I think is likely).

You could do the math, though. In the letter Case wrote to Regardie, he said that he knew of 36 people who had psychological problems while working with the Enochian system. First off, I want to know if he was including people like Crowley in that list, because as I see it Crowley didn't have problems with the Enochian system at all. But taking Case at his word, if he knew of more than a total of 144 people (36 * 4), it means that the percentage of Enochian practitioners with mental illness he observed was lower than that found in the general population.