Monday, January 14, 2019

Via Solis Capricorn Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Capricorn Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday January 15th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward, we will continue to perform one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the lodge know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Capricorn.

The sign Capricorn is attributed to the powers of "The Witches' Sabbath so-called, the Evil Eye." The latter is a general form of cursing cast by line of sight, but keep in mind that as Capricorn rules the Evil Eye, this sign can be employed both to cast such curses and protect you from them. Seeing as the "Witches' Sabbath" is not a real magical operation, but rather an invention of Medieval witch hunters (as the "so-called" likely acknowledges) the latter requires some explanation.

According to the imagination of witch hunters, the Witches' Sabbath was a ritual in which witches copulated with the Devil in order to obtain magical powers. So in the context of real magical operations we are talking about sex magick in various forms, whether symbolic or actual. Liber A'ash vel Capricorni Pneumatici, for example, is attributed to this sign and describes in (only slightly) veiled symbolic language a sex magick technique similar to Spare's well-known sigilization method. The Great Rite in the Wiccan tradition would be another example.

In addition, one of the magical weapons attributed to Capricorn is "the secret force" which is a reference to internal energies such as kundalini, whether employed in sex magick operations or otherwise. So another application for Capricorn would be to develop and/or strengthen those energies by magical means. It is important to keep in mind that "sex magick" such does not necessarily involve having sex, but rather working with the union of energetic polarities - which can be accomplished by many different means.

This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.


Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.


Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering.


Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present are and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence. So mote it be.

Bell chime.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Magicians Do Magick

There has been a steady slew of articles over the last year about how witchcraft has been going more mainstream and becoming more popular. You would think that would be a good thing for occultism and it probably will be in the long run, but it also has led to the rise of witchcraft as a fashion statement rather than a system of magical practice. I'm not going to link to one article in particular, as it shouldn't be too hard to Google up a long list. I am firmly of the opinion that if your "magick" is little more than a fashion statement, you shouldn't call yourself a magician.

There have always been people whose idea of being a "witch" consists of wearing lots of black Renaissance fair garb and running around with crystals and maybe a Tarot deck, neither of which they have any idea how to use effectively. But the mainstreaming of witchcraft seems to have brought them out in force. As I don't really think of myself as a witch I will leave it to practitioners who do to comment more directly. I will say that as I see it if you don't do magick you're not a magician, regardless of what you call yourself.

To be clear, I don't mean that you have to follow my philosophy of using practical magick for everything, all the time, for your work to qualify. I think that works of illumination designed to expand and enlighten your consciousness count too, though with operations of this sort there's a fine line between magick proper and mysticism. Basically I don't really have a problem describing a mystic as a magician, since in the Thelemic system ceremonial magick and mysticism work hand in hand and our definition of magick is broad enough to include both microcosmic and macrocosmic change in conformity with will.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Salem Encephalitis?

BBC has an interesting article up today discussing the possibility that an autoimmune illness, anti-NMDAR encephalitis, may have been responsible for some of the symptoms of "witchcraft" that fueled the Salem Witch Trials. Since the 1970's, the hypothesis that the witch craze in Salem might have been fueled by ergot poisoning - which can cause vivid hallucinations - has been reported in a number of places. However, as the article points out, no other symptoms of ergot poisoning were reported during the Salem trials.

Capital-S Skeptics like to run to their favorite explanation for the symptoms seen in Salem, "mass hysteria." As I've mentioned here before, this is basically the Skeptic version of "paranormal powers." We don't understand how it works, we can't predict situations in which it will happen, and we don't understand what triggers it. When a Skeptic describes something as "mass hysteria" he or she really means "I can't explain any of it, but what I do know is that anybody who calls it paranormal is deluded." In fact, whatever this phenomenon is, it is rare enough that it might as well be considered paranormal just like psychic abilities.

While I do understand that the witch trials and other events like them have a psychological component, I also know that they usually start with something, not nothing, and that something is usually inexplicable. That's why the ergotism hypothesis seems so appealing. It's fairly obvious that religious fundamentalists like the Puritans would interpret hallucinations as some sort of spiritual force, and interpret them as evil if they were threatening and scary - as hallucinations out of the blue often are.

But with no other symptoms consistent with ergotism the contention remains weak. That's why, according to an article published in the Journal of Neurology by Michael Zandi and Johnny Tam from University College in London, anti-NMDAR encephalitis could be a better candidate, especially in the case of the two cousins who started the whole thing up.

Here’s the story of a typical patient. She initially develops a flu-like illness. Within weeks, she becomes obsessed by god or the devil, consumed by paranoia and racked with insomnia. Now, she repeats the same words, then is struck mute. Next: seizures, writhing and contorted limbs, odd repetitive movements of the mouth and tongue. Her pulse races or slows, her blood pressure rises and falls. She sweats, drools, grunts and grimaces. She becomes catatonic and then comatose.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Is the White Horse Back?

For years I've enjoyed poking fun at Mitt Romney, better known to his detractors as Mittens. Romney's general awkwardness probably cost him the presidency in 2012, and on top of all that it's pretty easy to poke fun at anybody who owns a car elevator. One thing that I will say, though, is that Romney has been a consistent critic of President Donald Trump. Romney was elected Utah's Junior Senator in November, replacing the retiring Orrin Hatch, and his return to politics did not disappoint.

Romney penned an op-ed for the Washington Post that was highly critical of the president, prompting predictable angry tweets. Despite how amusing I find these occasional exchanges between prominent Republicans and the president are, Amanda Marcotte at Salon points out that up until now Republican criticism of Trump has been little more than sound and fury signifying nothing. Criticism may be rare, but actual votes against the president's agenda are pretty much non-existent.

The one noteworthy case I can think of is the late Senator John McCain who voted for cloture on the ACA repeal and then turned around and voted against the bill, killing it on the Senate floor. For the most part even the president's critics rapidly become his enablers and fall in line with their party when a vote is called, and Senator Romney will probably be no different. Already, comments like these do not sound encouraging.

But the (very) small chance that he might be even a little different is where this post drifts from politics in Augoeides territory. For years, rumors have circulated regarding "The White Horse Prophecy," an old piece of Mormon folklore - and possibly more. From Wikipedia:

The White Horse Prophecy is the popular name given an influential but disputed version given by Edwin Rushton, in about 1900, of statements supposedly made in 1843 by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, on the future of the Latter Day Saints (popularly called Mormons) and the United States.

The Latter Day Saints, according to Rushton's version, would "go to the Rocky Mountains and... be a great and mighty people," associated in the prophecy's figurative language, with one of the biblical four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. Smith's supposed original statement predicts that the US Constitution will one day "hang like a thread" but be saved by Latter-day Saints. The embellished version portrays it to be "by the efforts of the White Horse."

On the basis of either Rushton's version, which is widely known as "the White Horse Prophecy," or Smith's original statement, both some critics of Mormonism and some Mormon folk doctrine enthusiasts hold that Mormons should or actually expect that the US will eventually become a theocracy dominated by the LDS Church. However, some observers interpret the Mormon cultural artifact more blandly.

The idea that members of the LDS Church will someday or at various times take action to save an imperiled US Constitution has been referenced by numerous LDS Church leaders, but as to the Rushton version of the Prophecy, the LDS Church has stated that "the so-called 'White Horse Prophecy'... is not embraced as Church doctrine; while numerous Mormon fundamentalists continue to preach the doctrine."