23.2.11

Telephonic and Skype consults now at no extra cost!


I used to charge a little extra for telephonic/skype readings, but I am doing away with this fee and instating them at no extra cost. I have noticed consistently that people whom receive telephonic consults get far, far better value for money, clearer readings and better understanding of the way I like to work. This all translates into better results for them in the long run, and more satisfaction for me. These clients more often than not turn out to be my return customers, who check in every few months as things develop - because we have built a good worker-client relationship based on mutual understanding and clear communication.

This makes me happy of course, and even better, it saves time doing away with all that endless back-and-forth on e-mail trying to clarify what a reading is saying, or attempting to explain how to do a spiritual bath. Something that can usually be done in a minute or two when talking real-time to someone.

Additionally, there is a lot to be said for talking to someone when reading for them. A stronger spiritual connection is felt (IMO) and a more engaging reading experience is possible.

We can talk over Skype if you have a mic and some headphones, which is easier to arrange than you realize and free. Alternatively, you can call me on my landline and we can do it that way. Naturally, regular call rates can be expected with landline calls.

Telephonic/Skype calls are always by appointment.

I look forward to talking with you!

17.2.11

Synthesis, Syncretism and Dissimulation

OK, so if you have been following all the back-and-forth everywhere you might get the impression I am completely, inflexibly, intolerably opposed to what people have been referring to as 'syncretism'. As RO points out with  his  post, I am in fact all about synthesis. Much of what I blog about is synthesis. Yes, my blog is even titled Gnostic Conjure. So why am I being such an enormous pain in the ass about it with Jason?

Firstly, I am not convinced that syncretism is something that can be done consciously by individuals. No, in my opinion, syncretism is a cultural force that happens when living systems interact with new information and external pressures; historical, social or environmental.

Individuals synthesise. It is what makes us human - we compare and combine in order to make sense of all the diverse facets of our experience, spiritual or otherwise. We do it in order to find common ground and areas that overlap. When I learn a new language, for instance, one of the easier techniques I was taught is to listen for all the words that kind of sound the same as the language that I already speak and then build my sentences out of those words, adding the new language's grammar and vocabulary as I go a long. Most germanic and romance languages have quite a few words that are the same - and sooner or later I am speaking more and more of the new language by using what I already know as the basic framework.

Secondly, our blogs have been getting increasing visibility and currency in popular occulture which is neat. This kind of discourse and debate is healthy and important because it brings an important issue out in the open so we can confront it and talk about it. And the issue of cultural appropriation in western occultism is an important one. It's one that won't go away by pretending it doesn't exist because it is thorny or uncomfortable - nor should it. It's a bit like racism - nobody likes to talk about it. And when confronted with it everyone groans and shuffles their feet uncomfortably because, surely they would never do or say that. Yet racism continues to exist in our world. It's a harsh reality that many, many people have to contend with every day. Pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it go away, it makes it more malignant. It enables the people who are guilty of it.

Is everyone who uses a technique from another tradition guilty of cultural appropriation, and should the culture police raid their temple and confiscate their dream-catcher, didgeridoo and hotei statue? Probably not. Does it give us free license to grab whatever we like, in any manner we like, from whomever we want?

No, it doesn't.

The question that remains is this - can anyone stop us? Probably not. So we are totally free to be the spiritual equivalent of those annoying fucking morons on quad bikes that are destroying the beautiful, fragile dunes in Cape Town. Just go ahead and tear through another culture's magical heritage like it's our big play ground; spin our wheels and then piss-off when we are done and have had our fun.

Though, you can bet whenever I see one of those idiots rampaging around the dunes I tell him what a stupid knob I think he is and that I pray he falls down and breaks his neck next time he ramps over the fynbos.

What then, is the difference between sane, sensitive synthesis and making a mockery of another's heritage? I am unsure quite frankly, and it is confusing terrain that I continue negotiate as carefully as I can. Conjureman Ali, takes an eloquent stab at distinguishing the two issues here.

Check it out he makes some good points.

16.2.11

In response to Jason, who was responding to RO, who responded to Frater AIT


I can't leave this one alone.

Quick recap: Frater AIT waxes lyrical about the pivotal nature of energy work. Rufus Opus makes a very, very good case that energy work is load of crock tacked on later by Victorian busy-bodies. Jason, appropriately, tries to find an inclusive middle ground free from extremes.

Unfortunately Jason's rhetorical position is so terminally post-modern that it becomes as myopic as those he accuses of adhering slavishly to the "narrow context of tradition". A breath before this remark he says:

I am a member of several ancient and not so ancient traditions. All of them have a lot of tech in them that can be exported to other systems.


And this attitude is exactly what is wrong with Jason's position. Don't get me wrong, I think Jason is a super spiritual guy and an innovative magician with a balanced perspective usually but with regards to this he is dead wrong. Even the way he chooses phrase this statement reveals a sense of entitlement as thoroughly dangerous as it is ignorant.

And, unfortunately, it's a sense of entitlement as westerners we all share - and is ultimately the result of the driving philosophy of the colonial powers that put us in the top 5% in terms of wealth, health and resources comparable to the rest if those on the entire planet. It's an attitude that turns the spiritual dimension, and the various spiritual traditions that interface with it into a super market where we can happily free-wheel around with our shopping cart and fill it with as much goodies as we want. You know, "as long as it works".

Chogyam Trungpa called it spiritual materialism.

Jason then goes onto compare the sharing and cross-fertilisation that happened culturally over many generations - hundreds or thousands of years - between various living magical traditions to the grab and mix appropriation of small groups self-entitled westerners inventing their own stuff. Putting aside the perils of do-it-yourself spirituality, you simply can't compare these two things because they are not the same thing in the slightest.

It's not happening in a similar way, or scale (either temporal or geographical) and it not happening even for vaguely similar reasons. And it's the conflation of these two ideas that has been getting an awful lot of traction for the last hundred and fifty years or so leading to a huge amount of confusion, dilution and exploitation of traditions, including the Western Tradition.

You may call it "exporting tech", but what it is, is in fact cultural appropriation and its destructive and disrespectful to the traditions in question. Worse, it does none of the techniques in question any justice because it's all being mashed together in a half-assed way by people who have no concept of their original meaning, or true mastery thereof.

Look at Crowley who proclaimed himself a yogic master after spending all of 15 minutes practising second hand  yogic techniques which he then sweepingly incorporated into his magical system. I think it is safe to say that he was no true yogic master, or that he even really grasped the basics of that tradition. Yet, there we have it ensconced in that legacy - which continues to percolate down into western magical perspectives influenced by it.

The primary reason those Victorian magicians mashed together everything they could lay their hands on  was because their new magical system reflected the zeitgeist of their time, which included the political climate that they functioned in - which let us not be mistaken - was imperialist. Vast quantities of cultural wealth was being plundered and "exported" physically and symbolically from Egypt, India, the 'Orient' or anywhere else that the British empire stretched to.

The influx of all that cool exotic bling, along with the rise literary romanticism dazzled and fuelled the imaginations of the well-to-do bourgeoisie involved in that magical revival - leading to the faux Egyptian pageantry, yogic visualisations and breathing combined with theatrical masonic style grimoire magic. It wasn't because energy-work and visualisations worked so darn well and was missing from their own system, but rather that they had a bunch of old grimoires and a lot of new ideas flying at them from all over the planet and they grafted a system together using all the new loot over a masonic framework.

And for better or worse this is the true legacy behind much of that system of magic and its post-modern western magical decedents such as chaos magic and its newer NLP  based spin-offs today. Additionally, its a legacy that continues to inform and distort the way far too many western magical aspirants approach foreign magical traditions they find interesting to this very day.

Once again Jason - I have great deal of respect for you bro, but this is an area that you need to look at, and probably rethink more seriously.

9.2.11

The Occult Conference: 2011 Glastonbury


I am excited to spread the word about the upcoming Occult Conference in Glastonbury. And even more pleased and honoured to have been invited to speak at the event; and to finally meet magical movers and shakers such as Jake Stratton-Kent and the visionaries from Scarlet Imprint.



From the organisers:


12th March 2011 Grail Centre, 24 Chilkwell St, Glastonbury

After the success of last years Occult Conference, we have decided to hold it again this year, on a date less prone to vast amounts of snow! This time it will will be held at the Grail Centre, 24 Chilkwell St, in Glastonbury – a great location within walking distance of Glastonbury Tor and the Chalice Well Gardens.

This is a one day event taking place on the 12th of March 2011, and tickets for the day are £20 – this entitles you to access to the market and all the talks that will be going on throughout the day. The market will be open to people not attending the talks free of cost – however donations will be greatly appreciated.

Check these pages regularily for updates and confirmations, tickets can already be ordered  on the “Tickets” page or at The Saint Martha Botanica in Glastonbury.

Sponsored by The Occult Consultancy and The Saint Martha Botanica

Speakers:

Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech
Founders of Scarlet Imprint www.scarletimprint.com

Goetia: Corrupted Spirits and Infernal Keys:
Our work with the Goetia and the forthcoming Scarlet Imprint title Abominations, destroying many of the misconceptions that surround the so-called Lemegeton or Goetia of Solomon the King.

Jake Stratton Kent
author of numerous books including his new work Geosophia. A founder of http://www.underworld-apothecary.com/

Dhr. Balthazar
Rootworker, santeria initiate and espiritista working from Amsterdam. He is also an avid blogger and contributor to the Hoodoo & Conjure Quarterly, as well as the forthcoming Conjure Codex: Red published by Hadean Press. He is particularly interested in the intersection between New World magic and the Western Tradition and what it means for the future of both.

Folk Technicians: Harnessing Sympathetic Material Processes in your Spell Craft:
At the heart of many folk magical traditions we find the skilful use of of sympathetic magic. Unfortunately, sympathetic magic has frequently been misrepresented as crude or simplistic by western magical commentators when in reality extremely subtle and sophisticated technologies underpin folk magical forms such as hoodoo. Arguably, as subtle and sophisticated as any form of ritual magic can be.
At the core of this technology is a nuanced way of thinking about the material world and it’s processes in relationship to practical magic and the spiritual dimension. Once familiarised with this perspective we are given a rather practical toolkit with which one can devise effective, accessible spell-craft with whatever we have at hand in our environment – be it home, work, or on the street.

Paul Weston
Paul Weston is the author of Avalonian Aeon, Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus, and Mysterium Artorius. A frequent lecturer, he can also be heard on Blog Talk Radio.
Jack Parsons and the Nag Hammadi Plasmate. Babalon: Perfect Mind:
A consideration of the Gnostic interests of the James Dean of the occult. Places the legendary Babalon Working and its later ramifications in the context of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts as understood by Philip K Dick.


Kim Huggens
Kim Huggens is a freelance researcher specializing in Graeco-Roman malefic magic, necromancy, modern Vodou and Hoodoo Conjure. Kim keeps herself busy collecting and editing anthologies of papers for Avalonia Books and writing papers herself. Previous anthologies include “From a Drop of Water” (2009) and “Vs.” (Forthcoming 2011). She is currently working on “Memento Mori.” Previous papers appeared in the aforementioned, as well as “Horns of Power” (2008), “Priestesses, Pythonesses and Sibyls” (2008) and “Both Sides of Heaven” (2009). Kim is also a Tarot and mythology enthusiast, and the co-creator of “Sol Invictus: The God Tarot” (Schiffer Books, 2007) and the author of “Tarot 101: Mastering the Art of Reading the Cards” (Llewellyn, 2010). She is an initiated Hounsi Lave Tet in Sosyete Gade Nou Leve, a Haitian, Sanse and Dominican Vodou house run by Houngan Hector Salva, and a member of Ordo Templi Orientis.

The Truth About Zombies. Or: How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse:
It has been asserted that every interesting person in the Western world has formulated a plan for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. But how can the interesting occultists out there know how to implement these plans without first understanding the magical, mythological and medicinal mechanics of the Zombie? This talk will examine the tradition of the Zombie in the context of Hoodoo Conjure, Haitian Vodou, and the ancient Graeco-Roman sorcerers. From necromantic rites and the dredging of a soul out of Hades, to psycho-spiritual Zombie effects and ethno-botanical studies, we will discover that surviving the Zombie Apocalypse requires more than a just shotgun and people who run slower than you.

8.2.11

Doorways

I have been noticing that much of the initial portion of consultation with folks who come for either rootwork or a reading focusses on reframing their concerns to some extent. Most readers will tell you that what clients want to know and what they need to know, frequently, turns out to be somewhat different.

And to my mind, this is what a good reading is all about discovering. Before you sit for your reading you have been moved by inner and outer forces to come out of a state of ambiguity and confusion into a state of clarity. That clarity doesn't necessarily mean you will feel everything is fixed but rather that the amorphous blob of confusion whirling around a situation has somehow crystallised into something more negotiable. You have come into touch with the underlying currents or energies that are at work in your situation. I don't use the word energies lightly here. I really do believe that a reading opens up a doorway to the raw 'stuff' that is at work in your life.

I was laying down cards and typing up the reading for someone late one afternoon when I found myself becoming a little woozy. I decided to leave the cards on my reading table midway and have a little snooze on the couch. As I was nodding off I saw something dark and mean coming at me. I leapt off of the couch, startled. When I looked over to the cards I briefly saw a flicker, a shadow, passing over that area. I later told my godfather about this happening, he just frowned and said that this wasn't at all surprising; "you left the door open."

I had left the door open, I realised.

It became clear to me that I wasn't just spying on destiny with little bits of cardboard, but that I was opening subtle portals to the spiritual world and its denizens who are operating the levers behind these events. Ever since I have become more formal in the opening and closing of my readings - so as to ensure that the door is always being opened and closed deliberately and firmly.


Nonetheless, when a portal to the causal stuff is opened consciously and artfully it can be a highly transformative encounter in it's own right. A magical act that potentially activates either the positive or negative underlying patterns latent in any situation. Hopefully, it is the positive threads we are able to tease out and the negative tuff we can dispel or otherwise avert. This can take the form of self-knowledge and skilful action certainly, but from my perspective its also about working directly with those energies in our spiritual work and magic.

This of course makes a very good case as to why readers should make sure they have good solid spiritual protection not only in the form of talismans/bags but also in the form of spiritual guides or helpers who work with you when you read. Along with this a good cleansing regime, which can be something fast and simple that you do on the spot before and after a reading, or something more elaborate such as a spiritual bath.

People who know my style won't need to ask what I think of the efficacy of visualising white light and other similar new age frippery. And you won't believe the amount of arguing I have to do with stubborn clients who suffer from persistent spiritual interference yet insist that these sorts of visualisations should be enough, and if they could just do them long enough or hard enough they will eventually work - right?

If it was enough you probably wouldn't be knocking at a spiritual worker's door!

Get yourself a basic plastic perfume spritzer fill it Florida water along with a dash of holy water, spray some on your palms, rub them together briskly and wipe yourself down and away quickly with a prayer. Clap your hands. Ring a bell. Take a bath. Do something physical to anchor the spiritual effect. It isn't that much more work, and it works. You really don't want to start seeing the issues that are disturbing the person your are reading for, cropping up in your own life.

Similarly, developing a clear closing routine after a reading is another way of ensuring that the energies contacted are disconnected from the reader. There are various ways of doing this based on your religious inclinations and world view. After saluting my spirits, I like to pack up the cards, make the sign of the cross over the deck placing it facing down on the table and put it away in it's pouch or box. I then cleanse myself with my Florida and holy water solution - or if the reading was especially troubling and I am picking up heavy stuff around me - I take the deck to my ancestral altar and I place it there and set a small white tea-light over it.

They watch the door far better than I ever could.

Certain old geomantic texts warn that if the figures Rubeus or Cauda Draconis appear in the first house, that the chart should be destroyed and the client sent away! Modern authors tend to dismiss this as an overly extreme reaction based on superstition but I am of the opinion that if you trace the origins of geomancy to the root systems it relates to such as Ifa in west africa or the diloggun in the New World, you find an identical response to certain figures appearing in a reading. The diviner will banish the figures' malign influence and cleanse, or in some cases when a figure is too dangerous - the diviner will immediately close the reading and refer the client to a priest of higher ordination who has been in initiated into working skilfully with the energies contained in that figure. I suspect the renaissance geomantic texts that warn that this sort of chart should be destroyed are a remnant of this african tradition. Considering the primacy of the first figure in the calculation of the totality of a chart it becomes obvious the power that a malefic sign there holds.

I haven't destroyed charts or sent clients away (yet). But I do take extra special care to cleanse and disperse the influence of that figure as soon as possible.

Conversely, one wants to activate and manifest the positive signs and energies revealed by the reading also - what the famous and totally awesome I-Ching scholar, Stephen Karcher, eloquently refers to as fixing the omen. 

But that, dear friends, is a topic for another post.