The Verum Wands

There are two wands used in Grimoirium Verum - a hazel wand of 'Klepoth' and the elder wand of 'Frimost'. Due to availability I had to substitute the hazel for laurel and the elder for a local tree called forest elder. The laurel wand looks spectacular and after cutting, debarking, sanding and painstakingly carving my Klepoth wand (at 5:30AM), I concluded the consecration and jumped back into bed to get some zzzz. As I was dozing off i received an interesting flash about the function of the Kleppoth wand. Perhaps not surprising after i spent ages carving that sigil! Butits totally subjective so a grain of salt is in order....

Nonetheless, I was so pleased with the wand's finish I thought it a pity that the Klepoth wand's function seems so minimal during the verum ritual procedure. As far as i can tell it only seems to get used when as the verum says "Then pick up the wands, one after the other, reciting the Fiftieth Psalm". In the True Grimoire Jake suggests that this becomes a rhythmic movement during the psalms recitation. Apart from this I couldn't really see the point of this additional wand.

However, as i was falling asleep it came to me that "one after the other" could also apply to the ritual pattern as a whole - which is to say that after the Frimost wand is used, held in the right hand during the evocation - the Klepoth wand is picked up held in the left hand after that during goetic divination/skrying that follows when one relates to the spirits. In other words the Frimost wand is projective and that the Klepoth wand is receptive and possibly meant to aid seership with the spirits after they have been called using the Frimost wand. This makes sense if you think about the gendered nature of the wands as well as the powers of Klepoth, as well as the divinatory nature of hazel. Could this be what "Then pick up the wands, one after the other" is alluding to?

Anyway, the Frimost wand did not go so well in the end - i went through the same procedure but the wood i used was very green and wet and after deparking, sanding, carving the sigil and consecrating it - I noticed crack appearing in its length. I hurriedly oiled it with extra linseed oil however by the next morning these had spread all over the wand some areas split wide open.

Not impressed. It was hard work and is going to be a whole month before the moon is crescent again, so I can cut another wand. Also, with these weird cracks all over it looks kinda like Ye Olde Wande of DOOM right now. I am unsure if a cracked wand is still good to conjure with? is it a sign? The energy of the wand is still quite strong though, and last night after giving the wand another coat of oil I had a dream about Scirlin. He appeared as a rather small man about a meter high and black as night. He seemed nervous and i asked him which grimoire he is from he said "the one in your bag", which is Jake's True Grimoire. He then ran away, seemingly scared of me. I tried to catch up with him to no avail. I even tried to constrain in him in a triangle that i kind of drew in the air and threw at him. Not sure why i did that! I hadnt intended to use a triangle with my conjuration work - it seems coercive. He was to quick though and vanished in a puff.

Not sure what that means.

Root Goetia

I have undertaken to practice the Goetia of the Grimoirium Verum. More than that my intention is to develop a personal hoodoo/goetia synthesis. An approach that focuses on using rootwork based spells, but which also incorporates the spirits of the Verum as spiritual agencies to expedite the traditional methods of conjure - additionally rootwork methods will be incorporated into the ritual structure of the Verum by exploring the possibilities of enhancing evocations with hoodoo oils, powders, lamps etc. One might call it Root Goetia - I like the sound of that; it of course emphasizes the use of roots and folk magic in my goety, but also suggests the remembering of the older, more primal or 'root' chthonic evocation magics. Fancy labels aside, what started me down this road is Jake Stratton-Kent's fascinating True Grimoire, and in fact the man himself. He is a rather inspiring magician and his approach both to goetia and to magic in general is visionary, IMHO. He places an emphasis or returning to the, ehem, roots of Goetia as well as looking to New World traditions for more depth and understanding in working with the spirits as living, breathing entities, rather than a 2D list of stats in a grimoire as many wood-be conjurers seem to be inclined to do. Along with this is an understanding that in order to have healthy productive relationship with the spirits we have to be nice to them. No torture, cursing and bullying the beings who we would have do us favours. Perhaps its not such a big surprise that the spirits are nicer in return!

Of course what truly attracted me into the Verum itself is its connection to Quimbanda - in which we find an almost one-for-one syncretism between the deamons of the Verum and spirits of african origin - known as the legion of Exus. Moreover Quimbanda practices exactly the kind of synthesis that i am interested in developing in my own work. Its synthesis is uniquely afro-brazilian - the theology and magic of which is razor sharp and dynamic. Its also very dangerous.

Similarly hoodoo has quite a few of solomonic elements - the use of seals, psalms and other solomonic based magical procedure, which could be extended plausibly into the direction of the Verum. Its absolute heresy of course (from the perspective of traditional hoodoo), and the result wont be hoodoo but a somewhat more perilous daemon based concoction. However, when one asks an informed teacher which spirits traditional hoodoo works with, your pretty much always hear "God, The Dead and the Devil". So in the light of that - bringing Goetic entities into the work isn't as far fetched as claiming to conjure by the triple Goddess. Ugh.

Anyway, I have dutifully begun creating all the tools as per the Verum's traditional instructions, observing the correct astrological timing and other requirements. I have had to make some wood substitutions for the two wands to accommodate local availability. I could order a wand from an online seller but in my opinion a well considered wood substitution that allows one to carve, oil and bless the wand in the traditional fashion - is more powerful than getting a wand pre-made in the right wood. There is also a lot to be said for adapting tradition to local fauna and flora. The trick is to make the intelligent  adaptations and not motivated my sheer laziness. Deamons hate lazy people.

Let me tell you, creating everything the traditional way using the right timing is arduous. The verum emphasizes dawn operations (um, yeah). But its been well worth it - these tools are singing with potency and meaning. And as each tool has been completed I can feel it becoming internalised and meshed with my personal magical sphere. There is something romantic, diabolical and truly numinous about the Verum. This quality is permeating my life in the most incredible way right now - and not in the sinister ooky-spooky sense that one might expect. Rather there is a sense of crystallisation of relationship with the Other Side. Its also been unnerving that several of the Grimoire's spirits have started paying me dream time visits - something they are known for. They're not unfriendly but certainly not cuddly - and I have the sense as I create the tools they are drawing near, becoming magnetised to my sphere progressively. Lets just say, I'm holding on to my hat for now...


The Sigil Rant

Firstly let me say I have worked with sigils since 1995 when I first bought Frater U:D:’s book on the subject. I have a fully developed alphabet of desire and I have read and digested Spare, Carrol and the subsequent stream of writings of the ‘chaos’ magick genre.

As a magical device, creating a mystical monogram from letters in fact predates Spare. We can find Cornelius Agrippa describing the procedure very nicely in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy. What A.O. Spare really contributed to the practice was his idiosyncratic magical philosophy – a philosophy driven by a rather garbled understanding of Freud. Freud’s contributions at the time were revolutionary and we can clearly see how this libido driven psychology was to influence Spares writings.

While I thoroughly enjoying creating and using sigils, I thorough despise, but DESPISE the magical doctrine that has flowed from that system. I hate how it’s tenets; assumptions and beliefs are bandied about as a “meta” system - in other words, the great system that explains ALL systems. I hate how, while the adherents of the contemporary practice delight “smashing” paradigms, “hacking” paradigms or any of the other video game derived terms for invasion, they are unable to critically asses some of the basic assumptions of the Spare-derived system of magick. And what I hate most of all is that what this entire genre of magick seems to boil down to for the majority of its adherents is the scribbling of a doodle and then masturbating over it. Why? -Because sexual arousal is the preeminent form of “gnosis”. It is possibly not surprising that ‘chaos’ magick would become so popular with teenage boys – because it employed a favourite pastime!

Forgive me, I do not mean to attack sex magick which is perfectly valid and potent form of magical practice – what I do mean to attack is a reductive and unimaginative approach to magic. Don’t have job? Draw a sigil and masturbate! Want a new lover? Well, draw a sigil and masturbate! Want revenge? Sigil and masturbate.

I know, I know, I myself am reducing the practice – there are other forms of “gnosis” too! We can hold our breath while looking a sigil. We can frighten ourselves while looking at a sigil. Perhaps most effectively, we can bore ourselves by looking at yet another sigil. My acerbic point here, is this: magically this is a one trick pony.

The trickiness of the one trick comes down to a few very flawed assumptions about the system, in my humble opinion. Assumption that these supposed chaos mages should be examining, or hacking , or whatever iconoclastic term you prefer to use for deconstructing belief systems – a cause that they champion.

Flawed Assumption no. 1

A Sigil encodes our desire turning it into a symbol so that it can sneak past the sensor into the unconscious mind.

So first off, let me mention that when you write down your sentence of desire you have already created a symbol! Writing by definition is a symbolic system in which the sentence or words are the signifiers (like a sigil) of a signified (your desire). Your sentence of desire is not your desire – it’s a symbol. By making a symbol out of a symbol, you end up with yet another symbol! This is undergrad semiotics people.

You could then argue; “no, we are encrypting the sentence, by turning it into a sigil”. Or to put it another way – disguising it. This would be a fine explanation, except for something to be encrypted the person who you are hiding the data from, should not be able to decode the encryption. This would work if you created the sigil and then gave it to a friend to cast who had no idea what it means, but this is not the case. You are creating the sigil yourself so you obviously know what it means! It hasn’t been encrypted it simply has been translated into another form of symbol, one which you understand because you created it.

You could then argue: ”the unconscious mind works better with manifesting symbols”. This too would be fine, except as we have established – a sentence is already a symbol. A word is a symbol, a picture is a symbol – hell even sounds are symbols. A sigil is no more symbolic than a picture or a word. You may as well take picture of that car you are trying to manifest magically and masturbate over it.

Flawed Assumption no.2

You have to immediately forget your sigil and your desire for the spell to work.

This assumption in particular irritates me, because it employs the impossible “don’t think of pink elephant” conundrum. The moment you try to not think of the pink elephant you do. Ok so that’s a pain, but what puzzles me more is why?

Why must I forget it? What is the reason?

I have yet to encounter sufficient explanation for this tenet that convincingly explains why its adherents are so blindly anxious about it. One hears that it must be “banished” from the conscious mind so the unconscious can do its work.

Well, thousands of years of magical practice have proven this theory to be a load of crock. Magicians of all cultures, for millennia, have created amulets to wear around their necks – a rather obvious position. People forge expensive talismans of GOLD to wear as a ring to bring the magical desire, the enchantment constantly to attention. Priests built entire temples, pyramids, walls , towers etc – all in an effort to put that spell front and centre. It has always worked to be made aware of the magical symbol once it has been enchanted – and the only compelling reason for hiding the evidence of the magic is if you want the target to be unaware of its effects.

There is a case to be made for not dwelling on a spell once it has been performed – because in essence it indicates doubt. But this does not mean the symbol needs to be destroyed. If I spend time designing a beautiful elegant sigil, I want to see it, thank you very much. No, not dwelling on it does not mean forget about it, destroy the sigil – banish the desire! It means you are confident; you have FAITH that the powers supplicated are going to respond. You aren’t thinking “are we there yet” every five minutes. A watched pot never boils.

And this is the crux of the matter – orthodox sigil magicians are relying tricking on the “unconscious”, their God, into performing the spell – by supposedly disguising it and then sneaking it in there when the unconscious is otherwise occupied with the pleasures of the palm. Then, they have to be very careful not to remind the unconscious of the slight of hand that supposedly has just taken place.

I find this silly and it vastly underestimates the unconscious mind for one. Moreover, magic has worked for millennia with its symbols front and centre.

Flawed assumption no.3

The unconscious mind takes the sigil and somehow manifests it.

Does it really? Do we have any proof to suggest the unconscious mind does the magic? This unconscious sounds a lot like God. Except this is a recalcitrant reluctant god for whom we need to disguise our spells, then distract in order to get the spell in there and then make sure to not remind it that it has just cast a spell in case it changes its mind. This unconscious god sounds like an imbecile to me.

This assumption I think goes to the heart of broken postmodern malaise of occult narcissism in which all magic is “in the mind”. When did the unconscious get so powerful and why on earth must we trick it to get its cooperation?

For millennia we have looked to spirits, to stars, to herbs and stones for power. The universe is powerful and filled with magic and mysterious wonders, yet the modern innovation, which is no innovation at all – turns the whole thing into self-centred, vain and (in my estimation) ineffectual reduction of magic as everything being inside “me”. This is cosmic narcissism.

We have magic in us, sure- we are divine spirits but we are in a dialogue with other agencies. Real forces. We gain power by engaging those forces –invoking, evoking and petitioning. This is the time honoured, historically proven technology of magic. The more we reduce everything to some kind of psychological figment the more depressing, undisciplined and ineffective magic becomes. We end up gazing at our navels, explaining everything in psychological terms.

Explaining magic using bad Freudian psychology is like trying to explain astrophysics using bad English literary theory. Sure you could do it. It might even be interesting – but are you going to get into a rocket ship which has had its flight trajectory calculated by THAT physicist? I don’t think so.

Magic and psychology are distinct disciplines. Much like physics and literary theory are. Comparisons might be interesting, but when it comes down to practicum you don’t want to be mixing them too all that much. I am sure psychologists everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief when would-be magicians stopped quoting Freud and Jung. You just don’t understand Jung and Freud well enough to do that I am afraid. You are cherry picking bits of information that you think makes your writing seems more plausible because it offers some faux academic credibility.

We are sorcerers people – lets leave those archetypes for the psychologists and give some credit to the spirits, stars and gods that help us. We are better off saying the fairies at the bottom of the garden did the spell than accusing the unconscious of it.

Let me tell you if my unconscious did in fact have all this power – I would wake up every morning with Matt Damon in my bed. I dream about him ALL the time.

What Monogram-Sigils Contribute:

Sigils LOOK magical. When you draw your first one and it looks kinda like something from the key of Solomon you feel so pleased with its mysterious charm you feel like running out and finding a pointy hat with stars on it to wear while you scribble your arcane symbol on a scroll. They have magical quality – you could argue that they set themselves apart from other kinds of symbols. They are magical symbols. They are special because they were created for magical use and a sigils power comes from how you use it and how much power you invoke, evoke or petition to invest it with meaning. That’s what gives them power – otherwise there is nothing to set them apart from any other order of symbols.

They are useful in that they are an efficient way to compound and idea into a single symbol. They have graphic and spiritual economy and charm.

They employ some creativity to create and the practice is in fact fun if you have an artistic streak. This is another reason I refuse to forget, or banish them. I like looking at my sigils – they are beautiful. My sigils become MORE powerful that way.

They are good way to express concepts for which there are no magical symbols yet (e-mail, internet, ipod).

They are personal. They are yours and yours alone and there is value in that. Moreover, the more you use them the more powerful they become. As such they are tailored to our aesthetic and spiritual sensibilities.

In short sigils are an easy efficient way to make attractive magical symbols to use in your craft of sorcery nothing more. They are not some radical innovation; they have been around since the dawn of time – as has sex magic.



The Valid Basis of Magical Manifestation

I have been thinking a lot about the kind of things we can and cannot conjure with magic successfully. For instance spells to win the lottery rarely work. My personal theory for that is because the lottery is a massively contested spiritual battle - we have got literally millions of people all praying and wishing to win it. You are magically fighting all of that. But there is more than to it than that I believe. You might cast a spell to become a millionaire some other way and find it doesn't work - I mean why doesn't it work? Its magic after all, it should manifest what we want. I am all for an old school belief system in which the kind of results magic is purported to deliver, should be delivered - and if this isn't happening then something is wrong. Either with the spell or with the magician or both.

So in this vein I have been studying traditional astrology (which means astrology pre 1700 not the watered down psychobabble that is being called astrology today). Specifically i have been looking at electional and horary astrology. Election astrology is the art of using astrological timing to effect the outcome of events. For instance of you want to win a competition you might elect and appropriate date to send in your application in which the astrological factors conducive to winning aid you in success. Its powerful stuff and is of course mingled with magical timing traditionally too. Anyway, one of the first things you learn in electional astrology is that you cannot elect a date for something something that is not supported by your natal chart. For instance you cant select a date to buy a lottery ticket which will help you win a couple of million unless being super wealthy is supported in your natal chart. You can compare this to saying you cant elect a date to run marathon and win unless you have been training to run marathons. Being a runner is the valid basis for entering that kind of race.

This got me thinking about the valid basis for magical manifestations. You need a valid basis in order to support a magical outcome of any sort. A spell wont help you become the CEO of corporation unless you work at the corporation at high management level - or have been working in another corporate environment. Thats the valid basis for becoming a CEO.

Another example might be; if I cast a spell to get a billion dollars next week - I am unlikely to get it. However, if Bill Gates was a magician and he cast a spell to get a billion dollars next week and he was reasonable magician he might be able to get a billion dollars next week using that same spell. Why? because Bill Gates has the valid basis for that kind of wealth - that much money moves around him already. Its not that the spell is better or he is better at magic (although skill is of course relevant, but for the sake of this example lets assume Bill and I are equally good magicians).

So let say we accept the idea of the need for a valid basis for any magical result - the question is how did Bill Gates get from the valid basis of an ordinary computer geek to that of multi bzilliionare?

Now that is real magic.

And this is the crux of my new magical theory:

For instance Bill Gates could cast a spell to get a billion dollars next week perhaps, but getting a hundred billion might be a bit harder - though not impossible. Bill would need to be focussing his efforts on expanding the base line valid basis of his wealth creation by using his magic. By developing the valid basis magically he can make it possible to be casting hundred billion dollar spells in a while, because he already is casting billion dollar spells successfully. Magic seems to be able to stretch the valid basis as if reality is elastic - but it cannot break the valid basis entirely, as we have seen with lottery spells.

OK that example is a bit out there so here is another: Say, I want a Ferrari but a spell is unlikely to bring me Ferrari next week. However I could quite likely pull a spell off that gets my old Nissan exchanged for new a shiny new Honda. Its better than my Nissan, and stretches my valid basis of car owner ship a tad - but totally doable magically. Soon reality will have readjusted to the new valid basis and as we have seen - reality is elastic - so I might now be able to cast a spell which exchanges my new Honda for a BMW. The old valid basis of car ownership in which I had an old banged up Nissan might not have supported a spell to succeed in which a BMW comes to me - but my new Honda valid basis of reality could easily...

Just a strategy that has been bouncing around my head.