ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
BlavatskyIt's getting on for midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of the inimitable Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, co-founder and moving spirit of the Theosophical Society, who played a larger role than any other individual in kickstarting the modern revival of occultism in the English-speaking world, and who was also about half the reason you've heard of a place called Atlantis (and very nearly the entire reason you've heard of a place called Lemuria). 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all. If you're in a hurry, or suspect you may be the 712,254th person to ask a question, please check out the very rough version 1.0 of The Magic Monday FAQ here.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***


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Evangeline AdamsIt's getting on for midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Evangeline Adams, whose celebrated court case victory made it legal to practice astrology in the US. Among her clients was the immensely rich J. Pierpont Morgan, who is reputed to have said, "Millionaires don't use astrology, but billionaires do." 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all. If you're in a hurry, or suspect you may be the 154,995th person to ask a question, please check out the very rough version 1.0 of The Magic Monday FAQ here.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it!

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***
 
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
Florence FarrIt's getting on for midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Florence Farr, a famous actress of the late 19th century British stage and a leading initiate of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The instrument is a psaltery tuned in quarter tones, built by musicologist Arnold Dolmetsch, with which she used to accompany poetry readings by fellow GD adept William Butler Yeats. (Yeats' essay on the subject can be read online here.)

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all. If you're in a hurry, or suspect you may be the 128,715th person to ask a question, please check out the very rough version 1.0 of The Magic Monday FAQ here.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***
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PapusIt's midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Gerard Encausse aka Papus, one of the most influential French occultists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the author of numerous books. (One of his major works, Elementary Treatise of Occult Science, has just been published in a fine new English translation by my friend and sometime coauthor Mark Mikituk, and can be obtained here. For some reason the publisher slapped my name all over the publicity, even though all I wrote was the foreword.) 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all. If you're in a hurry, or suspect you may be the 225,854th person to ask a question, please check out the very rough version 1.0 of The Magic Monday FAQ here.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar. 

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

 
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Christine Campbell ThompsonIt's midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Christine Hartley, aka Christine Campbell Thompson, Dion Fortune's literary agent (and a significant writer and editor in her own right), and a leading member of Fortune's Fraternity (later Society) of the Inner Light, the most influential magical order in mid-20th century Britain. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar. 

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
 I'm delighted to report that two new anthologies are about to hit the bookshelves -- one of them with a contribution by me, the other entirely my work. 

Ascendant 1Ascendant is the first of a projected series of anthologies on the subject of polytheist theology and philosophy of religion, published by Neos Alexandria, one of the liveliest of the current polytheist religious organizations. It's got essays by some of the leading lights of today's polytheist revival, wrestling with an assortment of Big Questions from the standpoint of belief in many gods. My essay, "The One and the Many: An Essay on Pagan Neoplatonism," takes issue with the common but mistaken confusion that sees Neoplatonism as monotheist, on the one hand, or monist on the other. I think it came out well, but it's far from the best piece in the book. If you're interested in the philosophical and theological dimensions of polytheism, this is not a book you'll want to miss. 

A Magical EducationA Magical Education is the first of three anthologies of my talks and essays, published by Aeon Books. This volume includes nine of the talks I gave at a variety of Pagan and occult conferences  between 2001 and 2010 -- specifically, the nine most popular talks, the one I was asked to give again and again. As a taster, here are the titles of the talks: 

1 - A Magical Education
2 - Magical Ecology
3 - The Secret History of Neopaganism
4 - Victorian Sex Magic
5 - Understanding Renaissance Magic
6 - Magic, Metapolitics, and Reality
7 - Alchemical Initiation
8 - Healing Through the Elements
9 - Paganism and the Future

The two remaining volumes, The City of Hermes and Beyond the Narratives, include between them nearly all of the short pieces I published between 1993, when my first article saw print, and 2015. 

Ascendant will be in print within a matter of days, and I'll post something here as soon as it sees print. A Magical Education will be out in March, but is currently available for preorder here, with free shipping worldwide. 
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
Iolo MorganwgIt's midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Edward Williams aka Iolo Morganwg, poet, ritualist, opium addict, and one of the brightest stars in the glittering firmament of 19th-century literary forgery, who was responsible for more of the traditions of the Druid Revival than any other person. Did he make most of it up? Of course. Does that make it somehow inadequately Celtic? Well, Iolo was a Welshman, born and raised in a Welsh-speaking village in rural Glamorganshire, and trained in the exacting disciplines of traditional Welsh poetry -- that is to say, any one of his fingernails was more Celtic than the entire American Celtic Reconstructionist scene.

But I digress.

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar. 

With that said, have at it!

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

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Walter B. GibsonIt's midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Walter B. Gibson, one of the few professional stage magicians who was also a genuine occultist -- his 1966 book The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences, written with his wife Litzka, is a good summary of the state of popular occultism on the eve of the 1970s occult revival -- and also, of course, the pulp writer responsible for that iconic figure, The Shadow. ("Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows...")

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar. 

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

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Josephin PeladanIt's getting on for midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918), the extraordinary Rosicrucian art critic and magus of the Decadent movement, whose masterwork How to Become a Mage will be out next year in a new English translation. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Please note that this Magic Monday will be closing early because I want to celebrate New Year's Eve without having to hover over this journal. Any question received by 10 pm Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. Have a happy New Year celebration, and see you next week!***


ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
Rudolf SteinerIt's getting on for midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Rudolf Steiner, arguably the deepest thinker to come out of the Theosophical movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, and founder of his own movement, Anthroposophy, which still thrives today. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.  

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next Monday!***





ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
William Quan JudgeIt's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of William Quan Judge, an influential American Theosophist of the late 19th and early 20th century and author of several Theosophical classics. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar. 

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***



ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
John MichellIt's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of John Michell, first-rate sacred geometer and researcher into forgotten sciences, whose 1969 book The View Over Atlantis introduced leys and sacred geometry to the counterculture, and was a major influence on my insufficiently misspent youth. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***
 
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
emerald ringThese days people in most Western countries assume as a matter of course that engagement and wedding rings have to have diamonds on them. That didn't become the universal custom until after the Second World War, though; it was in 1947 that the DeBeers diamond syndicate launched the first of a series of massive ad campaigns under the slogan "Diamonds Are Forever." Well, maybe they are, but...

In the lore of natural magic, every kind of gemstone has a different effect on consciousness; these are normally categorized by the old scheme of the seven planets. Diamonds correspond to the planet Mars. Their magical virtue is that they give strength and victory in battle, but they are also traditionally unlucky, and make their wearers unhappy. 

Maybe it's just pure coincidence, but I find myself noticing that it was right after a stone of war and unhappiness became standard wear for married women that the divorce rate began to soar, and many branches of the feminist movement took on a distinctly angry and bitter tone. 

If you want a better-omened stone for an engagement or a wedding ring, the magical lore suggests going for an emerald. Emeralds correspond to Venus, and are fortunate for love; they were held to strengthen the eyes and the memory; and they make the wearer truthful and difficult to fool by trickery, all of which would be helpful in marriage. I'm sure the diamond merchants won't approve, but it might be worth trying to reverse the trend...
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Alan LeoIt's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Alan Leo (real name William Frederick Allan), a prominent British Theosophist and one of the prime movers of the late 19th century revival of astrology. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***


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Llewellyn GeorgeIt's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Llewellyn George, one of early 20th century America's great astrologers and teachers of astrology. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it!

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***


ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
magical templeSeveral previous entries here have covered the basic practices of ceremonial magic in a form reworked for those who follow polytheist faiths. We've discussed the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, which is the most basic ritual working in Golden Dawn-style ceremonial magic, and the Middle Pillar exercise, which is the basic GD method of spiritual development and inner alchemy. I've heard from a number of people who've been practicing those regularly since then. That being the case, it's time to move on to the next piece of the system: the rituals for opening and closing a temple. 

Please note that a magical temple in this sense isn't a building set aside for magical work. I wish I had one of those, but that's kind of hard to afford on a writer's income! A magical temple is a space temporarily set aside for magical practice. It can be any convenient place. Before the temple is opened and after it's closed, the space can be used for any other purpose. (For example, I use my study as a temple space; the rest of the time, it's where I write.) It needs to be large enough that you can set up an altar in the center and then walk around it without bumping into anything. The altar can be any flat surface at more or less waist height at least 18 inches square -- a folding tray works very well. You can cover it with the altar cloth of your choice, or leave it bare. 

You'll also need two pieces of hardware to go on the altar. One of them is something in which you can burn incense; the other is something to hold a small amount of water. These can be as ornate or as simple as you like. I practiced for years with a simple pottery wineglass and a plain wooden incense burner. Put the altar in the middle of the space, with the four sides square to the four points of the compass -- if you have any question where east is, get a magnetic compass and find out. When you stand at the west side of the altar and face east, the vessel of water is on the left side of the altar and the incense burner is on the right. 

Once you're set up, you're ready to begin. As with the other polytheist ceremonial magic rituals I've posted here, the marker (PATRON) in the text should be replaced by the name of your own patron deity.  Here are the rituals:  

Opening the Temple

First, stand at the west side of the altar, facing east. Raise your right hand, palm forward, to salute the divine powers you will summon during the ritual, and say, “In the name of (PATRON), and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses, I prepare to open this temple.”

Second, perform the complete Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram to call magical energies into the space.

Third, standing at the west of the altar, facing east, pick up the vessel of water in both hands and raise it up. Say: “Let this temple and all within it be purified with water.” Go to the east, dip the fingers of one hand into the water, and flick droplets of water three times to the east. Go around to the south, and do the same thing; repeat the same action in the west and the north. Return to the east, face east, lift up the vessel of water in both hands, and say: “The temple is purified.” Then go back to the west of the altar and return the vessel of water to its place.

Fourth, standing at the west of the altar facing east, pick up the incense—if you are burning stick incense, just the stick is fine; if you are using cone or loose incense, lift up the burner in both hands.  Say, “Let this temple and all within it be consecrated by fire.” Go to the east and with one hand, wave smoke from the incense three times to the east. Go around to the south, and do the same thing; repeat the same action in the west and the north. Return to the east, face east, lift up the incense in both hands, and say: “The temple is consecrated.” Then go back to the west of the altar and return the incense to its place.

Fifth, starting from the west of the altar, walk clockwise in a circle around the altar, passing the east four times. Each time you pass the east, bow your head in respect. This is the ancient and very widespread Pagan rite of circumambulation, still practiced in many polytheist societies around the world. As you walk, imagine your movements creating a whirlpool of energy that draws in magical power from the far reaches of the universe to your magical temple. When you have passed the east four times, circle back to the west of the altar and face east.

Sixth, spread your arms wide and say, “(PATRON), my patron god(dess), I ask you to bless and consecrate this temple of high magic, and aid me with your power in all the work I perform herein.” Pause for a time, and concentrate on sensing your patron deity’s presence and power surrounding you.

Seventh, still standing at the west of the altar facing east, raise your right hand again, palm forward, and say, “In the name of (PATRON), and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses, I proclaim this temple duly open.” This completes the ritual.

Closing the Temple: 

First, standing at the west of the altar, facing east, pick up the vessel of water in both hands and raise it up. Say: “Let this temple and all within it be purified with water.” Repeat the process of purifying the temple with water, exactly as you did in the third step of the opening ritual. Then go back to the west of the altar and return the vessel of water to its place.

Second, standing at the west of the altar facing east, pick up the incense and say, “Let this temple and all within it be consecrated by fire.” Repeat the process of consecrating the temple with fire, exactly as you did in the fourth step of the opening riutal. Then go back to the west of the altar and return the incense to its place.

Third, starting from the west of the altar, walk counterclockwise in a circle around the altar, passing the east four times. Each time you pass the east, bow your head in respect. As you walk, imagine your movements dispersing the whirlpool of energy you created earlier and sending the intention of your working out into the universe to accomplish your will. When you have passed the east four times, circle back to the west of the altar and face east.

Fourth, spread your arms wide and say, “ In the name of (PATRON), I set free any spirits who may have been imprisoned by this ceremony. Depart unto your rightful habitations in peace, and peace be between us.” Pause for a moment, and then perform the complete Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. 

Fifth, standing at the west of the altar facing east, raise your right hand again, palm forward, and say, “In the name of (PATRON), and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses, I proclaim this temple duly closed.” This completes the ritual.

*************************
Okay, now you've got the rituals; what do you do with them? 

First of all, of course, you practice them until you can do the complete opening and closing ritual from memory, just as you did with the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar exercise. (If you haven't practiced those two rituals enough to do them from memory, go back and work on them until you can do that, before you get to work in this ritual.) 

Once you've got the opening and closing rituals by heart and can do them with intention, the fun begins. The opening ritual establishes a space in which you can do serious magical practice, and the closing ritual disperses any unused energies and makes the space safe for other purposes. They're the two slices of bread on which you build your magical sandwich. The filling? That's up to you. It can be spellwork, it can be spiritual exercises, it can be active imagination aka scrying in the spirit vision aka Pathworking, it can be whatever kind of magical working you happen to want to get up to. Doing the work in an open temple gives you a safe, cleansed, magically empowered space for any work you want to do, and closing the temple afterwards settles things down afterwards. 

There are other ritual elements that get plugged into the ritual structure we're developing here, and we'll get into those as we proceed. For now, try doing this at least once a week; if you don't have anything else to do between the opening and the closing, try doing the Middle Pillar exercise in the space between the opening and the closing. 

Have fun, and we'll go further in due time. 
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Vera ChapmanIt's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Vera Chapman, fantasy author, founder of the Tolkien Society, member of the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift in its glory days between the wars, and Pendragon of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids in Ross Nichols' time. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.
 
With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

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Ross NicholsIt's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Ross Nichols, founder of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) and, alongside Lewis Spence, one of the two most influential 20th century authors on Druidry in the English-speaking world. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it! 

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

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Mouni Sadhu It's almost midnight, so here we go with a new Magic Monday. The picture is of Polish-Australian occultist Dymitr Sudowski, whose books (written under the pseudonym "Mouni Sadhu") were among the first things I studied when I first took up occultism in the 1970s. 

Ask me anything about occultism and I'll do my best to answer it. Any question received by midnight Monday Eastern time will get an answer, though it may be Tuesday sometime before I get to them all.

I've had several people ask about tipping me for answers here, and though I certainly don't require that I won't turn it down. You can use the button below to access my online tip jar.

With that said, have at it!

***This Magic Monday is now closed to new questions. See you next week!***

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man concentratingSara's been reading Barbara Ehrenreich's recent (and apparently very good) book Natural Causes, on the way that the frantic quest for health has made so many Americans sick. (I'll be picking it up as soon as she's done with it.) One detail she quoted me from its pages is that at this point, the average adult American has an attention span of eight seconds -- which is significantly less than that of your average goldfish. 

Fortunately this is something you can do something about. Concentration exercises used to be one of the standard bits of occult training, and they're still worth doing whether or not you happen to be an aspiring occultist. The more effectively you can concentrate on a single task, no matter what it is, the more effectively you can do that task. And of course if you happen to be an aspiring occultist, the ability to focus your will and attention with unwavering force on your workings is a major part of success. 

The practices I used when I was first studying this stuff back in the day were from Mouni Sadhu's book Concentration. (Sadhu wasn't Indian, btw; his real name was Dymitr Sudowski; he took the name while studying in India with Ramana Maharshi, between a youth spent in Poland and the latter part of his life in Australia.) They're simple, they're effective, and -- like any good concentration exercise -- they start by teaching you that you, too, have the attention span of a mayfly. Here's the first of them. 

1. Get yourself a clock or watch with an old-fashioned analog dial and a second hand. 

2. Sit comfortably, with the clock or watch in a position that makes it easy for you to watch the second hand move. 

3. Watch the second hand move. Keep your gaze fixed on it, and note how many seconds pass before you unthinkingly look away from it or start thinking about something else. That's your effective attention span. Try again and see if you can better the first figure. Spend a total of five to ten minutes at this exercise. 

4. Once each day, put five to ten minutes into the same exercise. Your first goal is to get to the point that you can reliably triple your original attention span. Your long term goal is to reach the point where you can focus unwaveringly on that second hand, without thinking about anything else, for five minutes. Once you can do that, extending concentration to a much longer period is rarely difficult. 

Give it a try. An insufficiently developed ability to concentrate is a major cause of failure in life; a strong will -- and the ability to concentrate, in my experience, is the single best measure of your strength of will -- is a key that will open almost any door you care to name. 

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ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)John Michael Greer

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