Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Forthcoming Articles

I will soon be receiving the archives from my old Scoop site, so that means more articles will be republished here soon. I hope to have most of the substantive pieces available on this site so that they don't just disappear into the ether, and hopefully they will prove fruitful for further discussion. Keep watching this space for updates.

A New Wand

One of the first magical tools I ever purchased was a wand. I bought it at the Renaissance Festival all the way back in 1989 and have used it ever since. It is primarily made from glass and pewter with a large quartz crystal on the tip and has served me very well over the years. The one problem with it is that it is relatively fragile and I have had to repair it a number of times. Even though it is a very beautiful piece of work, I realized within a couple of years that it was mostly constructed as a decorative piece rather than as a magical tool that would hold up well to regular use.

I have been in the market for a new wand for the last couple years, but good wands are surprisingly hard to find. The most prominent local company here in the Twin Cities, Oliver's Wands (http://www.oliverswands.com/), managed to turn me off big time at a Pagan festival a few years back despite the quality of their workmanship. Their display transparently catered to the Harry Potter fan crowd by advertising wands with "core enchantments" of various mythological items and substances. These wands had obviously not been cored in any way which struck me as fundamentally dishonest, and furthermore their website confirms their attitude toward using their wands as ritual tools (http://www.oliverswands.com/about.htm). To their way of thinking, their wands are simply Harry Potter toys.

I was looking for a magical tool, not a toy for my kid, and even if I were I'm not about to tell my daughter that her wand has a "phoenix feather" at the core when it obviously does not. I think lying to kids is really lame, and "feeding their imagination" is not a good enough reason to do it. Incidentally, there is such a thing as a phoenix. It's a bird from South America, and while it doesn't burst into flames or anything like that I still think a wand cored with a genuine phoenix tail feather would be pretty cool, especially if I were a Wiccan who associated the wand with the element of Air. But I digress.

In addition to my distaste for the cheesy marketing, one of the things I was specifically looking for was a wand with a crystal in the tip and Oliver's doesn't make those - after all, wands in the Harry Potter universe are all just made of wood. I imagined what I would ideally want and came up with a basic design. The wood should in some way be associated with the will (since I associate the wand with Fire according to Aleister Crowley's attributions), a crystal point should be at the tip, and a tumbled crystal should be at the base. According to the various theories regarding chi, orgone, or whatever you want to call spiritual energy, a round stone is receptive while a pointed stone projects energy in the direction of the point.

During the course of my research I identified the wood that I wanted - purpleheart, also called amaranth, a rare wood from South America. In Liber 777 amaranth is attributed to the sphere of Chockmah and by extension the degree of Magus, and while Crowley was almost certainly thinking of the European amaranth flower when he wrote up his correspondences, amaranth wood is so-called because its leaves look nearly identical to those of the European plant. Morphology is very important in magick, since similar things are connected. Also, the wood is very hard and dense with a deep reddish-purple hue resembling the deep red of a star ruby, one of the stones associated with Chockmah. Based on these characteristics I think a good case can be made that purpleheart is in fact associated with this sphere despite it coming from a different botanical family than European amaranth.

I then turned my attention to the crystals. One of the realizations that I had while meditating upon this was that the crystals should be related to the True Will of the magician and will be different for each person. Crowley writes that when the grade of Magister Templi is reached a "star is cast forth" into one of the spheres on the Tree of Life below the Abyss and it is in this sphere that the True Will of the magician resides. While I'm not about to claim the grade of Magister Templi, I'm of the opinion that the basic nature of one's True Will is not that difficult to figure out. The easiest way to tell is by looking at the things you naturally do well. It was revealed to me during one of my magical workings that mine lies in the sphere of Mercury, which should have been obvious to me long before. I write, I design rituals, I program computers, and I do magick. What could be more Mercurial than that?

Consulting Liber 777 I found that the stone associated with the sphere of Mercury, Hod, is opal, and the stones associated with the path of Mercury, Beth, are the opal and agate. It further occurred to me that a stone associated with the path should be placed at the tip (projective) and a stone associated with the sphere should be placed at the base (receptive). I could have used opal for both, but opal tips are pretty difficult to find so I decided to go with a carnelian (red agate) point for the tip. I had my design, but I needed to figure out where to get it.

Around the same time I decided to try and find a wand as a gift for a friend. We had determined that her True Will was in the sphere of Jupiter, which meant that the best stone for both the tip and the base was amethyst. What I needed was a purpleheart wand with an amethyst point and the tip and a tumbled amethyst at the base, but I was unable to find anyone who could make such a wand. I headed off to the National OTO convention thinking in the back of my mind that maybe I could find a wandmaker there who could do some sort of a custom job. What I found in the vendor room there was the exact wand that I had envisioned - purpleheart, tumbled amethyst base, amethyst point tip. I purchased it and it made a wonderful gift.

I recently wrote to the wandmaker and commissioned my own wand with the opal base and carnelian tip, and received it this last weekend. It is a lovely piece of work and I highly recommend the maker - Haunted Woodcrafts in Rochester, New Hampshire (http://www.hauntedwoodcrafts.com/). I look forward to many years of ritual use with this wonderful implement, and I know where to go if I ever need another wand as a gift or as a tool for some specific working.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Spelling "Magick" with a K

I first issued this call to the online world on 6/25/2007. It bears repeating, especially with some of the results that have been showing up in the Newsreel under "Magick."

There has been a lot of discussion in the esoteric community over Aleister Crowley's spelling of "Magick" with a K. Some find reverting to the Elizabethan spelling of the word pretentious, while others contend that it draws a useful distinction between the spiritual arts and sleight-of-hand. As a Thelemite and student of Crowley's work I prefer the K spelling, but it was not until I started compiling articles for my blog that I discovered how useful the trailing K really is.

Two words: Google News.

Try it sometime. Go to Google News and do a search for "magic." These days, the Elizabethan spelling is not so much about distinguishing "the Science of the Magi from its counterfeits" but about distinguishing it from sports reporting, book and movie reviews, and bad metaphors. A search for "magick" yields a more relevant result set. The only real wrinkle there is the handful of musicians who use "magick" in their album titles, but to be fair most of them are interested in Crowley and their music could be relevant in for some searches.

I hereby issue a call to bloggers and journalists everywhere - spell "Magick" with a K when you're talking about occultism, even if you think it's pretentious. Web searchers, myself included, will thank you.