Monday, May 16, 2011

Roots of the "Salem Tradition"

I was looking through my comments today, and lo and behold, eyeliner-abuser and "World's Most Famous Warlock" Christian Day himself has made an appearance!

Now I sometimes go back and forth on whether or not I should be bashing fellow magical practitioners, no matter how ridiculous their wardrobes and makeup happen to be. There are a couple of reasons for this, most importantly that there are so few people in the magical community that infighting can prove especially problematic. As an example of this, I think of the Thelemic community, which throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's flamed itself over who the "real OTO" was instead of getting together and doing anything productive.

So I was gratified to see this comment from Christian:

What boggles my mind is that you're still talking about all this weeks and weeks after this dropped out of the news cycle. I just love that I can inspire you. I wish I could say the same about you, but all this prattle has done is made me want to talk about me more. :)

Apparently he likes all the publicity, and I know I like all the LOLs. So now my mind is at ease.


In his comments Christian answered a few of the questions about his ritual methods. First of all, he apparently divined the name "Robert" for his skull from two sources, the friend he inherited it from and some sort of "ghost box" device. As I originally mentioned in my critique if Robert is the real name of the person to whom the skull belonged while living, as a ritual tool it's awesome in true Over-The-Top-Occultist style.

He also addressed the non-standard calling of the archangels, and explained that Lori's father taught it to them and told them the traditional arrangement was a "blind." I've written about this in the past and my opinion is that a "blind" is simply a cover for an innovation or invention. In other words, Lori's father or maybe his teacher made it up, changing the standard arrangement so it would be all special and super-secret. How do I know? Well, the archangel name "Auriel" was invented by Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn so the earliest anyone could have possibly used it was 1888. It wasn't published until Aleister Crowley included it in Liber O that he published as part of Equinox I, #2 in the fall of 1909.

What this means is that the arrangement of the archangels including Auriel has only been public for about a hundred years and has only existed for about a hundred and twenty. In all earlier sources the fourth archangel is Uriel. So the "Salem arrangement" is something that was invented during the last century, and apparently Lori's father is 71. You do the math. Now I will be the first to admit that there isn't necessarily a "correct" arrangement of the planets or elements but spirits are a different matter. They have their own personalities and their own agendas, and magicians have been associating Raphael with Air and Gabriel with water for a very long time without any ill effects. It seems to me, then, that the archangels themselves must be fine with those associations, but without more testing than a small group like this could easily do it's hard to say whether or not they like having their elements swapped out.

Why one would call it a "blind" at all is at least in part what makes me question the validity of the "Salem tradition." If you believe that your magical system needs historical roots in order to work you are wrong. If you believe that making something special and secret makes it more powerful you are also wrong. Magick is a technology, and that means the only real test is whether or not a method works, not where it came from or how many people know about it. Reinventing the wheel in order to make it unique (like maybe square?) is counter-productive at best, and doing so without substantial empirical testing is usually a sign of poor judgment on the part of the re-inventor.

Who knows? Maybe that testing was done and the method works. But to my way of thinking "Success is thy Proof" and the now-infamous YouTube ritual was an embarassment to Day's whole magical group. I also have heard an unconfirmed report from someone on Facebook that this same group cursed a bunch of people by writing their names on marshmallow peeps (!) and then eating them. I have no idea whether or not that one's true, but the very chance that it might be does not fill me with confidence regarding the effectiveness of the "Salem tradition." What I do know is that the whole kerfluffle over Charlie Sheen and the one over that stupid stoner movie were both just plain dumb, hyperbolized drama run amuck.

It sounds to me like this group's next project should be the banishing of Spasmodius from their midst. Maybe then the rest of us might take them seriously.

UPDATE: In the comments Christian accused me of lying about how he obtained his skull and its name. Reading this over again I think I see where he got that idea and I've edited for clarity. Misrepresenting what he said was not my intention - all I meant to say was that a skull named Robert that came from a living person named Robert would be a cool ritual tool. Full stop.

"The medium" that I was talking about who might have been a fan of the TV show was the medium I assumed was working the "ghost box," though I may have been thinking of a completely different ghost hunting tool than the one Christian's describing. I will point out that the 2007 TV show was based on a series of books that began in 2000, so it's not impossible for Christian's friend who originally bought the skull to have been familiar with the story. Nonetheless, I'll add that I have no idea how popular the books were at the time or if they played any role in its naming.

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13 comments:

Optimystic said...

I know what you mean. I don't understand why everyone has to have a "tradition". Seems like insecurity on the part of the magic community.

To me, magic is Art, and the science and technology is just incidental. Most people don't realize though just how powerful art can be, especially when it incorporates universal principles. If a guy wants to wear crazy eyeliner and give himself a wild name, that's fine -- but why does he have to invent a story to justify it? If there's one thing the chaos magi have taught us, its that our own reasons and motives are sufficient in themselves and don't require outside validation.

Hypnovatos said...

So, if we want two people to fight, can we just write their names on 2 peeps, put toothpicks in their bellies and then microwave them so they battle and duel each other in a Voodoo Peep war? Cuz if that works, they may have discovered a whole new system of Magic... i coin the phrase Peepomagia >.<

Ananael Qaa said...

@Hypnovatos: I know! Not only that, magical battles could be set in motion with the phrase "whip out your peeps - let's throw down!"

Hypnovatos said...

I think they may be on to something here... quite commercial too... Peeps sponsored playing cards like the ol' Magic The Gathering cards... Little Peeps Mages action figured with kung-fu grip to hold wands... we could sell Peeps Voodoo Kits complete with toothpicks that have various sigils known ONLY to the Peeps drawn on them ready for use! just add name!
Would Peep Shrines be going too far??

Ananael Qaa said...

Go ahead - run with it! Everybody knows that it's only going too far if nobody is buying what you're selling.

That brings up a question, though - chicks or bunnies? And how do we attribute the various colors? I suppose purple (King Scale Saturn is indigo) could be for cursing and yellow (King Scale Mercury) could be used for healing, just to get you started.

Hypnovatos said...

Bunnies are a sign of fertility and fruitfulness... so i would say Bunnies for anything positive, like healing or love... or maybe even a Jovian Peep Bunny business bag...
Chicken eggs have long been used in cursing people in Greece... so I'm gonna say the chicks for battle and curses...
Do we have to split royalties with Christian? I can make the kits, and you sell them on your ebooks page and split the profits...

Ananael Qaa said...

Do we have to split royalties with Christian?

Why on earth would we have to do that? For all I know the Facebook comment is bullshit and if he's got any brains at all he'll never admit to doing a ritual with peeps lest he inspire more extensive mockery.

So yellow bunnies for healing and purple chicks for cursing? Sounds like a plan. Is there anyplace we can look up what all the available colors are? I haven't shopped for peeps in ages.

Hypnovatos said...

http://www.peepsandcompany.com/p-sweet-treats
and that's just easter...They have Christmas, Valentines day... and... oh yes... halloween...
imagine an army of Peeps Golems... we could solve the issue of a volunteer army in the US...
Via Wikipedia.org "Peeps are sometimes jokingly described as "indestructible". In 1999, scientists at Emory University performed experiments on batches of Peeps to see how easily they could be dissolved, burned or otherwise disintegrated, using such agents as cigarette smoke, boiling water and liquid nitrogen.[12] They claimed that the eyes of the confectionery "wouldn't dissolve in anything".[13] Furthermore, Peeps are insoluble in acetone, water, diluted sulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide.[14] Concentrated sulfuric acid seems to have effects similar to the expected effects of sulfuric acid on sugar."

Ananael Qaa said...

So we would need to work out a system for the different holidays as well as the different colors. Like a peep Qabalah.

It sounds like they're as indestructible as Twinkies. I heard once that if you set a Twinkie on a wooden outdoor picnic table the table will decay to wood chips before the Twinkie will become inedible. You gotta love those preservatives!

christianday said...
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christianday said...
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christianday said...
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Ananael Qaa said...

And one more thing: you are aware of how crazy your last two posts sound, right? Or are they just another publicity stunt?

You're threatening to murder me because you read a couple of sentences that I wrote as dishonest? And you're going to "punish" me for "misbehaving?" Please. I think all this drama has finally collapsed into a singularity, at least on your end.