The Full Canvas and its Threads.

It's kinda spooky because I have been sitting on this post for a few days trying to figure out how to frame what I am trying to say without sounding whacky. Well, less whacky than usual.  Then Rufus Opus posts this. It kind of comes from the opposite end of where I was going but it really hits the nail on the head.

More specifically, I was sitting contemplating the differences between the main thrust of classical western magic and folk magic systems like hoodoo. It occurred to me that western magic's preoccupation with language, symbol and sign-making (whether this be in the form of sigils, pentacles, barberous words, angelic languages or their equivalents), these all seem kinda like the aristocratic literary twin of the tangible sympathetic and very material processes of hoodoo.

And with that I mean to say, is, that the sympathetic gestures that are encoded in these sorts of hoodoo spells are a kind of manifest language. A kind of divine script that permeates the natural sympathetic signifiers found all around us and then seized upon and deployed in conjure. Sweet things, for instance, mean more than that yummy taste - in the magical context their potency extends far beyond the sensory experience of taste and on to the much vaster abstract symbolic value of sweetness itself. What it means when something is delightful, attractive, magnetic - or what it feels like when people get together in happiness. It's sweet.

That's all encoded in a cube of sugar just as it might be in the seal of Venus.

Yet the sugar is different - its language is direct, more primal. Sugar needs no translation. Sweetness is inscribed upon it wherever you go in the world, whoever tastes it. That essential quality, is what I am talking about. Those essential primal signifiers permeate all of creation, kind of like the fingerprints of God.  These fingerprints are everywhere - in the stickiness of sticky things, the sharpness of pins, the sourness of lemons, the magnetism of lodestones - their meanings and values all fantastically capable of functioning with as much magical precision as any arcane cypher, any angelic script.

Rufus remarks: You take a symbol and do something symbolic with it, but you tell a story.

Exactly. These stories can be threaded together with the most common of objects; the winding up of thread; by cutting apart; sewing together; by setting aflame; burrying; nailing down or tying a knot. This vernacular of the ordinary when transposed to the magical context becomes the syntax of the Divine.

Considering what Rufus has to say about manifestation process through the spheres, it's not all that surprising that the magical materiality of this kind of sympathetic vernacular can be so effective when wielded skilfully. Perhaps the reason that happens is because these things are already manifest, and by employing them in spellwork we are able to pull on the very same threads woven by God throughout all of creation - that full canvas.

Oops, still came out kinda whacky.


  1. Whacky-Schmacky!

    I loved this. Absolutely.

  2. Beautiful, brother! Doctrine of Signatures at its best!

    Both of us are familiar with both hoodoo and Western ceremonialism--be it "high" magick or goetic conjurings and one of the beauties of traditions like hoodoo and other folk magic systems is that it is elegantly straightfoward. And in that you can find a depth to its simplicity, I'd say.

  3. All of this is why I brought the topic up with him. It's a cool thing, really, and a cool way to approach magick. I certainly won't forsake conjuring the Archangels using our traditional methods, I won't stop employing sigils and seals in the Work of talismans, and the framework of Western Magick is where I am at home in my magick and in my spirituality.

    However, like I have said several times on your blog, the style that you present here is awesome. I'm itching to learn more about concocting awesome magickal story lines using the stuff that we're surrounded with. I wrote about this on my blog today, in fact. I like and admire, for instance, the way you devised the Venus Love Tub lamp -- that is awesome stuff.

    Frankly, that's pretty much the direction I want to take my magick in, albeit from a strongly Hermetic Christian standpoint. I'm looking into learning more and more about forms of folk magick, the craftiness employed. When you do these rites, you truly create a microcosmic play of the scenario you're Working to manifest. You observe the tangible, exoteric qualities of things and think about how you can extract the virtues or esoteric qualities to apply to your life on a larger scale.

    That is indeed very cool. I have already asked RO, but would you also recommend any good material to get my creative juices flowing? I'm not looking to completely immerse myself into a new system (not just yet, anyway), but I'd like to get my hands on some good reading and then see what I come up with by getting an idea of how the folk magicians and rootworkers' minds work.

  4. I think it is so sad that even though hermetic texts like The greek magical papyri and the tablets we have found from the pre-hellenic and hellenic eras, and even the Medici talismans and Agrippean texts are full of the use of natural magick, most modern (read post-Crowley and 60s mindbabble influenced) mages just ignore these aspects of magick.

    The killing of animals for magickal purposes is seen as something nasty and barbaric and ceremonialists sometimes get on their high horses about using "symbolic equivalents", as if natural magick would somehow be "low" and not good enough.

    Bollocks :D

    The famous Taphtartarat evocation used material bases which are real and not "symbolic". I think a snake in alkohol used a s a lamp is as far away as we can get from "it was just symbolic"

    I understand that Hoodoo practitioners are a bit vary of their tradition spreading and getting watered down/transformed, yet blogs like yours will hopefully inspire those magicians who work with systems that are very astral and mostly do lip service to materiality.

    Lets hope they think:
    "maybe I should pour a real blood libation instead of symbolically sacrificng money, maybe I need to go to a gravewayd and get some real dirt instead of calling upon the forces of hades... >_0"

    thumbs up.

  5. wacky? sounds like common sense to me. great post! thank you.

  6. "It occurred to me that western magic's preoccupation with language, symbol and sign-making (whether this be in the form of sigils, pentacles, barberous words, angelic languages or their equivalents), these all seem kinda like the aristocratic literary twin of the tangible sympathetic and very material processes of hoodoo."

    I wouldn't go that far and pronounce "aristocratic" the use of signs and barbarous names. They were used in the days were people were scribbling images on clay and lead tablets for magic. Images are the core of any magic.
    Besides, language, symbol and writing are associated with Thoth so the preoccupation you mention is not strange since "modern" western magic draws on these sources.


  7. @george: dude, the grimoires for the most part of their history were limited to a rather elite literate, usually highly educated group. Similarly, during the Victorian revival when these books were all brought into the purview of modernity we see them claimed by bourgeoisie of the period. So in that sense 'aristocratic' does describe them quite well, I think. As for the ubiquity of sign making in magic that's self-evident but what I am talking about entire symbolic systems- languages - that so preoccupies the grimoiric streams of magic.

  8. You are not whacky. And---I know thee who thou art! You're one of them intellectuals is what you are, bud.

    (Hope blogspot tolerates a little comment html...)