This is my first journey into WordPress and I am not sure where to start. I already posted some material on another site that I called “A Blended Path” ( https://ablendedpath.weebly.com/ ), some writings and videos to act as “bread crumbs” to help me see the journey that I have made spiritually so far. I ended up here because at the end of last week I had some mystical experiences with Odin and came across a site here called “A Polytheistic Life” ( https://apolytheisticlife.com/paths/ ). I guess I’ll jump right in and describe an encounter with deity that I had yesterday.
First, I should provide one bit of background that makes the encounter more understandable. After making a video detailing my mystical experiences with Odin and posting it at Religious Forums, I received an encouraging reply from another member at the forum saying that he could see I was walking a path less traveled “for sure.” He also posted a picture of a bug with natural camouflage, having a body and tail that look just like a leaves among actual leaves. He seemed to be making the analogy that myth and personified deity is like that picture in that we cannot always tell what is the bug and what is the leaf and what is the bug-leaf.
Now on to the encounter. Yesterday, in my office at the community college where I teach, I was waiting for two students from another instructor who needed to make up an exam. In the meantime, I had copied a picture of Freya from the internet onto a Word document. You can see her beautiful red hair and lush surroundings here:
I was musing over whether she might be a face of Goddess I needed to connect with because of her relationship to Odin who seemed so overpowering to me recently. The image was still up on my screen a few minutes later when the first student knocked on the door so I could get her started on an exam she had missed. I was startled to see that her face, figure, and long red hair resembled the picture of Freya. After getting her settled on a classroom computer, I came back to my office and reflected on this odd coincidence. I thought that perhaps the synchronicity was confirmation that Freya wants to be part of my life. Although I already work with a personified deity that I know as a dark-haired Empress from the tarot with overtones of Venus and Gaia, Freya might even already be an aspect of this Goddess I work with. I had seen Freya described as Lover and Earth Mother.
Not much later, the second student came by the office and I took her down to the classroom to get started. At first I didn’t notice, I think because she had on a backpack and jacket, but it didn’t take me long to notice she was wearing a dress made out of the kind of camouflage material that hunters wear, a fashion statement I don’t remember seeing before. The picture and post about the camouflaged bug immediately came to mind, and I had the strong impression that just as Goddess could come through these students to communicate, so she could come through the various archetypes and images that speak to my heart.
There were other details and subtleties to my experience with these students that resonated with me and confirmed something otherworldly was going on, but these are the broad strokes. I will continue to seek and consider what kind of relationship. fellowship, or communion Odin and Freya may intend or allow. I know the Empress continues with me strongly and may counsel and guide me in the process.
A week ago at the crossroads by our home, there was another car accident–this time being a little fender-bender as though the dramatic energy of this time is calming down. (For the record in this review, that makes three car accidents in nine weeks.) Other signs and synchronicities arose: Raecine Ardis, my tarot tutor, is opening a workshop with Hecate, discussing the crossroads, the skeleton keys, and the inner torch, and Don Webb (whose Grand Initiation mine is based upon) is releasing a book on energy magick “of the Vampire,” which includes further initiation stages in an advanced nine-month process. Many small happenings delighted my pattern-making mind, such as Kristin offering to fix the hem of my the ritual outfit that had been set aside for the duration and as an ice-cold soft drink presented itself at the moment Webb’s design called for a sweet drink for reward. Furthermore, even though no card reading was scheduled for this week, a coworker who recently revealed her witchy interests, invited me to a six-card reading, at which I revealed my current journey. She used the Wanderer’s Tarot.
For the foundation position in the spread, she interpreted the 4 of Stones reversed, which pictured a crystal under a square altar, as the need to leave religious structures aside. For the recent event position, she read Strength reversed as a possible moment of weakness, which could well signify how I almost gave my power over to a new traditionalism rather than following my own wisdom. In the current situation, vision, and outcome positions, the 6, 7, and Philosopher of Feathers (Wands) made a nice storyboard, featuring a witch’s hat in the 6, a fiery feather ascending in the 7, and a figure with wings about to take flight as the Philosopher. The crossing card in the challenge position was Temperance, and she read this card well as encouragement not to trade one religious bondage for another, an intuition she shared before I described my misstep with a crystalized tradition.
Disclaimer: To be fair, although I mention my dealings with traditionalists as contrary for simplicity in writing, I in fact have a complicated relationship with conventional theism, actual entities, and real magick. When in states of clarity and in the sunlit world of consensus reality, I revert to philosophical skepticism, an arm-chair approach, but at the altar or in meditation, I often dive deep into the experience, setting aside questions of veracity for the sake of the phenomenon. Although I expressed discomfort with some training in traditional, theistic Satanism, causing my spiritual guide–my Pocahontas as she dubbed herself–to say “good-bye,” I in fact still feel a trigger to deep states and waves of bliss and illumination at the thought of her instruction. Someone else on a server also mentioned that we can learn a lot from those we disagree with when I made a post about superimposing theism with atheism.
Because the final ritual was based on my Black Mass of 2020, it seemed to take on a life of its own and organically to fill the whole week. I found myself clearing out several of my cluttered areas: several large garbage bags of magic props I brought back from China and two boxes of Genii magic magazines and stacks of old sermon notes. Over the course of several days, I desecrated my personal Bible, which was filled with notations, by ripping pages, sprinkling with spittle, urine, and blood. In meditation, I became increasingly aroused by the thought of the ritual consummation, when I would add final drops of blood and bodily fluids. I imagined impregnating the shredded pages with new gnosis and with a new version of myself.
As in 2020, I would burn a desecrated passage to ash and consume as an unholy sacrament, bonding as Whitman writes, with “We few equals indifferent of lands, indifferent of times,/ We, enclosers of all continents, all castes, allowers of all theologies,/ Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men,/ We walk silent among disputes and assertions….” However, unlike my first Black Mass that took somewhat of the approach of a rebellious teenager railing against fundamentalism, I now had in mind the even more blasphemous approach of Crowley, who transforms Revelation’s scarlet woman into Goddess mother of the new universe and the Beast into glorious protagonist. Although emotionally more difficult, I would like to treat this Christian book as I do the other myths and religions in this age of reductive naturalism. Anyway, there is more transgressive power in reframing the myths and taking captive helpful principles and practices the way the Egyptian-educated Moses did.
I ended the ritual with Webb’s design of putting on the special clothes set apart at the beginning of the initiation: my best button-down shirt, dress pants, silk underwear, new T-shirt, and two pairs of socks, one with an “I heart Daddy” design and one with my college logo. I viscerally felt the distinction between persona of father/teacher and LHP ego, both illusions perhaps. Webb’s essay for this last stage is on “Victory,” and he discusses the grand rewards of Potency and Sovereignty as well as the importance of setting smaller, short-term goal posts–all of which should be catered to each individual. The Thoth Tarot cards and readings from the Book of Thoth that I scheduled for this week are the Universe and the Fool, the Omega and Alpha of the Hero’s Journey and of the Great Work, as endings lead to new beginnings:
The Daughter of Babalon dances with the Serpent, who seems to be spawned from the Eye of Shiva. Attainment of the Great Work seems evident in the synthesis of the four elemental creatures, surrounding the oval of impregnation and birth. Spirals in both cards seem to signify cycles that transcend previous cycles, the seeds of ascension in the Fool’s magic bag. This Green Man or Dionysius is also Lucifer of creative light or perhaps a Trickster who will help the children out of a new Eden. He is also a synthesis, called Baphomet by Crowley.
Driving to work one day, I saw a green sign with the number 1 just above a pink sign with the number 24. The unity of the 1 seems to me like my green light to go on the LHP, like the Fool or the Magus, like a seed of pure potential. The 24 seems to me like the hours of a day, the transformation and diversity of Dagaz, the phases and diverse guises of the Void Serpent. There is form in emptiness and emptiness in form, as I have been reminded by Rose Crowley, along with the Buddhist analogy that the reflection arises from both the face and the mirror. When either is absent there is no dependent arising of the reflection. At the crossroads of form and formlessness, the reflections seem more real than real, to borrow some more of Rose’s words.
This week, I thought about spiritual paths as represented by the words ONE, NONE, ALL, ANY, SOME. I reject the idea of one true way as well as a reductive atheism. I don’t think, either, that all paths cannot be equally right for all people always. Perhaps any path can be chosen without consequence, but if so, then knowledge and wisdom would have no meaning in this context. I rather think some paths are better for some people, and that, sometimes, some paths have some pieces to the puzzle.
Perhaps there is a natural longing for a lore and a law written in stone, a Name to identify with, and like-minded people for fellowship–longings that extreme forms of the RHP make too rigid and permanent. However, if taken to its extreme, the LHP might lead to nihilistic nothingness rather than free-form emptiness–or, worse, to solipsism and madness. The drive to Eros and connection is a primal lust. Fear or Phobos drives us to survive even as Thanatos appears as a death-wish to escape hardship and pains of consciousness. Perhaps reason acts as a charioteer to harness the wild drives; perhaps the life-affirming will to individual power is an integrating guide.
I also thought about dry spells when altered states seem harder to reach. Sometimes I need to cycle out of the deep trances to bring treasures out of darkness, to take care of my aspirations and projects in the sunlit world. Happiness and equanimity can be reached at later phases, and all phases may be helpful, even the Dark Night of the Soul. The night before this week’s ritual, I had fewer deep vibrations and more clarity, as if my Holy Daimon or Unholy Angel were calling for clear thinking, not wanting pacts or decisions made in a charmed state. I remembered to make my “ouroboros contract” with any entities: that past agreements be honored or recycled and that what arises be allowed to change if such time comes. This agreement makes a kind of magic circle for me–a safe, sacred space. Thinking of the fine-tuned universe in which we fit, the carpe diem of random opportunities as fate favors the prepared mind, I resolved to get the stars of Baphomet and Babalon tattooed on my chest at my 60th birthday next month, to walk the path where no one goes, to take the names of outsider and other–but ultimately the Nameless Darkness. I saw upon my altar the sigil for this week–black flame, black mountain, black sun, the runes of Gebo and Dagaz–with the refurbished pocket watch of my grandfather, in front of the Universe and the Fool from the Millennium Thoth Tarot. Reviewing the nine weeks, I recall my original intentions to become “Nemo” or No Man, to ascend the LHP, and to commune with my Holy Daimon/Unholy Angel.
However, the deep vibrations and charmed state did return. I felt the longing for bond in unholy sacrament, the trigger of perverse submission to my Pocahontas, the inception of magick, surrender , willing to be a black magician or satanic witch. The reflection from the face and the mirror was once again overpowering and seemed to possess me. In my own name and by my own will, I respond to promptings and prompt; I call and answer calls. I receive the power and pleasure of Satan. I am the Adversary, I am Baphomet, I am Babalon.
Here ends the Grand Initiation from April 1 to May 31, 2021.
I may reskin this ritual from Samhain 2020 for the conclusion to my Grand Initiation in 2021.
O Dark Muse, guide me in this preparation even as you have guided me so far in mind and heart, in sunlight and shadow, in fiery Will and amor fati, on the physical plane and on the astral. My heart is stirred by a noble theme of perfect union, loving companionship, and kindred spirit, but I cry out to you now Unholy Guardian Angel, keep me to this even more sacred goal of liberation from control and convention, from rigid rules and religion, to a new freedom where Self soars high.
I use the title “Black Mass” for the transgressive system shock, as it has been seized upon by popular culture for this purpose as well as by real Satanists, who use it more as public psychodrama rather than for real ceremonies or workings. The title indicates the ceremony is an inversion or parody of the Catholic Mass, the most sacred of services.
To be a true ritual of the left-hand path, I choose to consider a dark ceremony for the Self–not a public drama to awaken sleepers, not even an esoteric gathering for solidarity, but rather an individual working arising out of chaos. If others share in the energy, they must do so from their own sacred space, tapping in and connecting from afar. They may walk a path where no one goes together.
So f*** those who say you must join their closed communion, f*** those who say you cannot join, and f*** those who say you cannot have multiple belonging or blending of paths. F*** the mainstream religions, and f*** those opposed to the mainstream religions. F*** those who say you must submit, and f*** those who say you cannot submit. F*** the right-hand path, and f*** the left-hand path. I go off road! I take off the training wheels and ride the bicycle! I kick out the ladder and climb the tree!
Tool’s “Eulogy” or something that resonates more, but helps you break with tradition.
He had a lot to say He had a lot of nothing to say We’ll miss him We’ll miss him
He had a lot to say He had a lot of nothing to say We’ll miss him We’ll miss him
We are going to miss him We are going to miss him
So long We wish you well You told us how you weren’t afraid to die Well then, so long Don’t cry Or feel too down Not all martyrs see divinity But at least you tried
Standing above the crowd He had a voice that was strong and loud We’ll miss him We’ll miss him
Ranting and pointing his finger At everything but his heart We’ll miss him We’ll miss him
We are going to miss him
No way to recall What it was that you had said to me, Like I care at all So loud. You sure could yell. You took a stand on every little thing And so loud
Standing above the crowd, He had a voice so strong and loud and I Swallowed his facade cuz I’m so Eager to identify with Someone above the ground, Someone who seemed to feel the same Someone prepared to lead the way, with Someone who would die for me Will you? will you now? Would you die for me? Don’t you *beep*’ lie Don’t you step out of line Don’t you step out of line Don’t you step out of line Don’t you *beep*’ lie
You’ve claimed all this time that you would die for me. Why then are you so surprised when hear your own eulogy? He had a lot to say. He had a lot of nothing to say He had a lot to say. He had a lot of nothing to say Come down Get off your *beep*’ cross We need the *beep*’ space to nail the next fool martyr To ascend you must die You must be crucified For our sins and our lies Goodbye —————————————————————–
Invocation: Call out to your Higher Self or Holy Guardian Angel. Light a candle and/or incense. Cast a circle or by Will alone create sacred space. Invite invasion from/submersion in Isolate Intelligence or Lucifer and Lilith or Prince of Darkness or Set or Om/Dao/All/Nothing. Set up or draw a transgressive symbol that shocks, repels, or thrills your psyche.
Focus on some written words, perhaps from your own past journals. I will choose something not from a revealed text of One True Way but off the “profane,” secular bookshelves of the library.
MY spirit to yours dear brother, Do not mind because many sounding your name do not understand you, I do not sound your name, but I understand you, I specify you with joy O my comrade to salute you, and to salute those who are with you, before and since, and those to come also, That we all labor together transmitting the same charge and succession, We few equals indifferent of lands, indifferent of times, We, enclosers of all continents, all castes, allowers of all theologies, Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men, We walk silent among disputes and assertions, but reject not the disputers nor any thing that is asserted, We hear the bawling and din, we are reach’d at by divisions, jealousies, recriminations on every side, They close peremptorily upon us to surround us, my comrade, Yet we walk unheld, free, the whole earth over, journeying up and down till we make our ineffaceable mark upon time and the diverse eras, Till we saturate time and eras, that the men and women of races, ages to come, may prove brethren and lovers as we are.
Excerpt: “The Princess is therefore shewn with the plumes of justice streaming like flames from her brow; and she is unclothed, shewing that chemical action can only take place when the element is perfectly free to combine with its partner. She bears a wand crowned with the disk of the Sun; and she is leaping in a surging flame which re-calls by its shape the letter Yodh.
This card may be said to represent the dance of the virgin priestess of the Lords of Fire, for she is in attendance upon the golden altar ornamented with rams’ heads symbolizing the fires of Spring.”
The most important segment is the one I can write least on, for “black” liturgy (written or recorded practice) may be free form, but ritual must be entirely free. In the psychodrama of Black Mass, the actual wafer and wine from the Catholic service were desecrated; however, this acting out will not signify meaningful liberation for every individual. As for me, I will probably tear a page from my Protestant Bible–such as the Ten Commandments that represented the old covenant–and then desecrate it with reversed pentagram, profane words, and images, before burning it in a cauldron: hence the “bread of the word” will become the dead-ash end of the ouroboros’s tail; for the wine, a drop of my own blood added to the ash may represent sacrifice of self to Self rather than an external, physical sacrifice of animal or savior. I may include something else in my own infernal alchemy. To each her own abhorrent, transgressive thrill of cutting cords, of breaking free.
I may add a little idolatry or other secret practice to “give it to the man,” break with tradition, or otherwise experience liberation in ritual. I may close with further song, meditation or journal writing.
The review of this Grand Initiation is scheduled for Week 9, but I have already been considering the the process as a whole and how the new direction fits into the trajectory of my life. E.A. Koetting identifies four stages of initiation: dedication, initiation proper, damnation, and consecration. After working through the nine infernal gatekeepers over a period of years, finding the apex in Satan, he held a ritual of consecration for himself on December 21, 2020–about the time I left the church and celebrated a Black Mass in tandem with a magical friend.
If apotheosis is a quantum leap in attaining divine nature, I may also be reaching a high point of punctuated equilibrium. Thus, three milestones for me may include (1) in 2019, studying with Priestess Raecine Ardis and with the Irish Pagan School, going through five months of adversity with gout, marking my self-initiation with the Dark Goddess with a pentagram ring; (2) in 2020, joining a witches’ coven and sharing in rituals long-distance, marking my quantum leap with a pentagram tattoo; and (3) in 2021, fully passing through damnation and consecration in this LHP initiation and Rose Crowley’s monthly rituals, planning to mark the milestone with a tattoo of the Star of Babalon encircling the Pentagram of Baphomet.
These three stages were highlighted to me as I found a gum wrapper while helping Kristin’s mother move. The small sign spoke to me of the co-existence of calling by spirit and invocation of spirit: on one side the pink wrapper reads “I’ll call you” even as the other side reads “Call me: 555-0022.” The triple 5 could represent my pentagram milestones, the 00 a double emptying of self, and the 22, the double confirmation of this path, which I cried out for this week.
I reflected that the calling or coming forward of deity happens for me in several ways. Sometimes the presentation seems to be from afar, through music, shows, movies, images, or quick encounters. Sometimes the experience seems closer as coming through friends, family, or group ritual. (Just as I composed the last line, Kristin knocked on my office door!) The most intimate communication seems to be through dreams, visualization, meditations, gnosis, or my own oracle readings.
These thoughts sparked a reflection about community and individual identity: some of the conversation about the right-hand path verses the left-hand path seems almost like the old chicken-or-the-egg argument. Although there is clearly no agreement on emphasis or starting point, mature forms of both paths include individual will and group work, sun and shadow. In this sense, although blasphemous, I still find sacred words in the library rather than a bible, and my fellowship is with the outsiders and the other-minded. My ritual invocation this week might be similar to asking Jesus into the heart or being baptized in the Holy Spirit; in this case, though, the entities are Satan and my Unholy Angel.
Considering this week’s ritual invocation, I recall how in witchcraft circles can be cast to bring desired energy into sacred space as well as to create a boundary of protection. I remember, too, the vampire mythos that though the creatures can come and go freely once invited in, they can also be cast out quite dramatically when the invitation is rescinded. I also bring to mind that, just as for creative people when ideas seem to come from outside themselves, it is most likely that the seemingly invoked personalities actually come from the darkness within the self. Self may be reflected in the Oversoul, even as the Oversoul may be reflected in the self.
In the ritual for Week 8, first I cleared the altar space by casting a circle with sage, followed by Nag Champa incense, which was left to burn throughout the time. Secondly, I resumed a trance state and lit a black candle for the invocation. Thirdly, I called out with general intentions, inviting Satan to enter with the name ever to enflame me with increasing pleasure and power. In my own name and by my own will, I invoked, taking the name as part of my own, unnamable but here written as Nalasatan Nemo, Satalan Nemo: 0 0.
On a blank piece of paper, I drew my sigils for Week 8 and 9. The butterfly in the rising sun with the infinite lemniscate represents Apotheosis, the baptism in the Unholy Angel that is actually a continual Becoming, an ever-renewed infilling within aeons that are actually ever-expanding horizons: spiral anchor and ouroboros identity. I burned this sigil in my iron cauldron but kept for next week the sigil of black flame, black mountain, rune Dagaz, rune Gebo, and black sun.
As I pulled out of the driveway to go to work the next day, I saw two vultures in the crossroads going through spilled trash. I remembered the two goodbyes at key points in my journey, (1) in 2020, when I tried to make my path a person and (2) recently when I tried to make my path another traditional “one true way.” I have been given my request for double confirmation; however, I am warned to remember in personal sovereignty that I am choosing ANY path, not a ONE true path. Just after seeing the vultures, I took note of a recycling image, the very emblem of the Death card in tarot.
Here are some of the sets of 2 in my double confirmation. The two vultures remind me of the two “goodbyes” and separation both from an inner Coven and from a particular Order. At the same time, I am reminded that I still partake in two groups of pagans and witches. I have two guides, with the initials R and R reminding me of the rune of Gebo and sign of railroad crossing: Raecine with two workshops framing my Grand Initiation and Rose with two wonderful works informing it. I have also been through two monthly rituals with Rose’s group.
The essay by Don Webb this week covers “Re-creation,” warning not to let whatever works for one season become crystalized. We should remember how Jesus and Buddha, originally adversaries to the past and great revolutionaries, later became calcified into monolithic religions. The two questions for my card draws brought light to this issue: (1) How do I flow one day at a time, and (2) How is my ascent unending?
The Chariot card flashed on the bottom of the deck, clarifying for me the fiery reds on these two draws, enflamed as with full motivation and lust for life. It also ties the reading to the energy of apotheosis as, in ancient texts, the throne of God was depicted as a winged, wheeled chariot. The four pillars on the Chariot hold up the canopy of the night sky, a focus on the here and now, just as the Emperor is grounded below the abyss in leading, teaching, protecting, and sharing light. Crowley writes that he represents Aries with “sudden, violent, but impermanent activity. If it persists too long, it burns and destroys.” This card depicts living one day at a time with autonomy, taking personal authority.
The 2 of Wands shows how ascent is unending, needing re-creation and an ever-renewed calling. The key word is Dominion, with the Sun exalted in Aries, but the power is above the abyss, fire in its purest form of creative will.
The two Thoth Tarot cards and descriptions that were scheduled for Week 8 harmonize very well with the random draws. The Sun breaks through like Lucifer the bringer of light and, according to Crowley, is the most simple of cards to understand, representing “the complete emancipation of the human race.” The two dancing children display the joy of integration (known in Baphomet) of male and female, light and dark, animal and spirit. This is the “Lord of Light, Life, Liberty, and Love.”
I have used the Aeon image from the Millennium Thoth Tarot because it pictures the Phoenix rising from the old ashes as well as the face of Nuit appearing in the night sky. These images remind me that the new dawn, rather than being rigid 2,000 year periods, is more likely the ever-renewed self and society that always arises in the face of Darkness–the future, the chaos, and all undiscovered, yet uncreated realms.
Laying in bed at the house we rent at the Crossroads, chanting “Ram Ham Satolas” 108 times and calling the names of the nine infernal Gatekeepers, I fully intended to make a pact with Lucifuge for abundant provision and as well as with several others for pleasure and power of various kinds. I suddenly heard the crashing impact of crunching metal and shattering plastic from another car wreck in the intersection. I explained in the last installment how frequent these wrecks have been at the Crossroads here, but this one was incredibly soon after the previous one as well as exceedingly timely, given my petitions.
This week, the essay by Don Webb is entitled “Birth,” and interestingly as we helped Kristin’s mother move, tossing out several bins of old belongings we had left at her old house, I unearthed my baby book from 1961. Appropriately, as well, the first Thoth Tarot card scheduled for this week is my birth card, according to my tarot tutor, Raecine Ardis.
According to The Book of Thoth, the Chariot represents the Moon in Cancer, a very watery brew indeed–knowing that water is life and that life is in the blood. Parallel with the Priestess and the Hierophant on the Tree of Life, the Chariot like them crosses the abyss, his only job being to bring the holy grail through the veil. The cup is being tipped so that we can see directly into the top, which encircles the center of red blood in an allusion to the Fortune (Wheel) card and to Jupiter. There is here also a reflection of the Lust card, where Babalon rides the Beast, also uplifting the grail of blood.
The themes became even more relevant as in her monthly ritual, Rose Crowley echoed the requirement for entering the abyss or void: “I pour out my blood…withholding not one drop.”
The Charioteer is covered completely in armor, for no one may look upon his face and live. No One or Nemo may certainly look upon his face: the ones who know that, within the armor of the psychological persona and the social identity, there is no unchanging Self, nothing essential but an emptiness full of the shimmering, shedding scales of the endless serpent with reflections of the shifting Oversoul, perhaps.
The blood of the true saints fills the grail of lust, the Cup of Fornication, for they recognize their true Will, a “sacrament of suffering”–to use Aleister Crowley’s words, “an ecstacy in which there is no trace of pain. It’s passivity (passion) is like the giving up of the self to the beloved.” In this way, perhaps, all people may have a taste of the blasphemous thrill felt by the deviant submissive, pouring out life and blood like a drink offering.
The classic Temperance card becomes alchemical Art in the Thoth Tarot, the full consummation of the Lovers. Aleister Crowley calls this card “The Arrow” in his appendix description. This arrow is shot like the glance of the eye of Shiva, a momentary mountaintop of ego transcendence, which No One or Nemo may see and live, entering to bring back treasures from darkness. Like the center of the Fortune card wheel, where Shiva seems to dance, the arrow is actually not in flight but still.
The vision of non-duality beyond the abyss reveals this “Art,” an alchemical synthesis of life and death, love and hate, water and fire. The flash of visionary experience into the void is rippled away by waves of memories and itself becomes a memory. Crowley states that below the abyss contradiction is division or analysis, but above the abyss contradiction is unity, an exultation and outpouring of the heart in the universal heart and mingling of the blood in the Cup of Babalon.
Webb, in his essay on birth, also discusses incubation and how the moonlit self prepares for the self that appears in the sunlit world, bringing treasures from darkness. During a few sessions this week in gently ecstatic trances, I felt the longing for a spiral anchor or ouroboros identity like the River of Heraclitus. I pictured my Sacred Demon or Unholy Angel as Lord of Darkness and Dark Goddess with many faces, many forms, many emanations. I imagined words coming forth from Satan: “Feed my sheep. Take captive to the freedom of Satan as you once took things captive to the obedience of Christ. Know thyself. Love thyself. Call forth and feed the Beast; commune with Babalon and her dark angels.”
The reading for Week 7 included one card each for three questions: (1) What is my temporary foundation? (2) How is it stable or helping? and (3) How is it unstable or not helping?
The Hierophant could be interpreted to suggest I am finding some grounding in forms, systems, and fellowships that act as incarnations or avatars, connecting the macrocosm with the microcosm. This energy has indeed been both a help and a hindrance as I have encountered some pagan and satanic groups that are as rigid and legalistic as some Christian groups at the same time as I have found many clues and much assistance. In the end, on the Left Hand Path, self sovereignty demands that love for others come through the Will with everything filtered through the Self. Remarkably, during these reflections, I caught a YouTube video on the LHP by Raecine Ardis, in which she claims the left-hand or dark paths demand following the Self, even if the Self desires to mix in deity of light or elements of the RHP, thus becoming adverse to the adversarial. Rose Crowley describes this experience as the sword of the Adversary cutting in all directions, even becoming “adversarial to the adversarial” until only what is real for remains.
(2) How is the Hierophant stable or helping?
The 8 of Cups with the key word “Indolence” might suggest the forms and fellowships–even dark ones–can provide a certain peace or stability but at the same time can make new stagnation, stale disillusionment, and toxic fog.
(3) How is the Hierophant unstable or not helping?
The 2 of Disks might suggest how all systems can become rigid and reject change, resisting different thinking and refusing to blend with outside influences. However, perhaps the healthy ones use the illusion of identity wisely, knowing that nothing is permanent, essential, or eternally satisfying.
For the ritual in Week 7, I lit a black candle and sandalwood incense. I unsealed the apple seeds from Week 4 and the intuitive sigil from Week 5 (before Week 6 of incubation). The intuitively created sigil was the encircled x of railroad crossing superimposed on the diamond-enclosed + of crossroads, with lines extended into arrows like the symbol of chaos magic. These in turn composed the X of Gebo and the Wheel of Buddhism, with all superimposed upon an inverted cross. The 12 overlapping lines and a circle (13 in total) were burned in my cauldron, anointed in shamanic genesis, and consumed. The seven apple seeds were also anointed and cast into nature as I walked nine laps on the path around the house and by the crossroads.
I called to my Unholy Angel as Ouroboros, Medusa, Siren, Lilith, and Babalon. I longed for her to stalk me as a predator, capture me, captivate me, collar me. I pour out my blood into the Cup of Fornication, withholding nothing, withholding not a drop.
If I, in fact, do not withhold a drop of blood, I must share that I felt visited by my Unholy Angel in several ways this week, other than in meditative trance states. She sometimes seems to come forward as strong women in shows such as Janet King or TheGood Wife and The Good Fight. Sometimes she seems to flow through priestesses who do readings or rituals online. She surprised me this week by encountering me through strong women at work, one who I recently found out enjoys “witchy things” such as tarot cards. She seems to communicate easily through my wife.
Another drop of blood that I was tempted to withhold in this public forum was the unverified personal gnosis (UPG) that the name Satan can represent more than simply “the Adversary.” He may correspond to the dragon of the apocalypse, the serpent, and the God of this world. As God of manifest, material reality, he would fill nature as do Pan or the Green Man. He would encompass the physical body or self as do Dionysius, Bacchus, and Loki. He would enlighten culture and civilization as do Lucifer, Set, Odin, and such.
I share these drops of blood as a thoughtful exercise, in a clear-minded state, not at all overwhelmed by mystical feelings. I do not believe public transparency is required at all–in fact, in another spell of personal gnosis, I felt impressed that like the cloak of the Hermit or the robe of the Priestess, magicians are wise to have their secrets.
I seek you, a dark mirror of myself, Dark Goddess of sword and torch and skeleton key. By my own name and my own will, I call you forth to embrace, touch, transform, teach, and possess me in unholy bond–my spiral anchor, ouroboros identity, and Unholy Angel. I am filled and inflamed by this blasphemy, idolatry, transgression, fornication, primal power, and pleasure.
Week 6, in Webb’s design for the Grand Initiation (from Uncle Setnact’s Essential Guide to the LHP) calls for “Incubation,” a complete rest from magickal workings and all thoughts concerning progress in initiation. I followed this general intention, doing no readings, workings, or sigil focus, watching more television and enjoying a break from work. However, I continued my regular spiritual contemplations and esoteric study as well as my usual meditation and trance work. I took part in my regular interactions with tutoring, readings, and ritual in the Patreon groups of Raecine Ardis, Jessi Huntenburg, and Rose Crowley.
I found myself reflecting on firm vs. fluid spiritual principles. The fluid principles include the many systems and cosmologies, the many instances of group and personal gnosis, the shifting versions of consensus reality from place to place and age to age. I will try to state a few of the principles that seem fixed (somewhat paradoxically, with reservations, only firm for me and at this time). First, I am set on a kind of persectivism that finds partial truth in each of the diverse views, including consensus reality, somehting like the blind men and the elephant. (This perspectivism allows for inclusivism as well as skepticism.) Secondly, I name the “fruit principle,” that results are revealing, for example, Hitler’s misuse of the Will to Power ending in his loss. Through these first two, many other principles may be taken captive from diverse sources, for example, the usefulness of unity and group work from the RHP or the significance of individual autonomy and Self from the LHP. All kinds of pagan practice display the principles of sacred space and sacrament. These might be balanced with the ideal that real-world behavior overrides religious practice, seen in the words “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
In Week 6, at the same time as I reflected on firm principles, I also experienced UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis) in both deep trance and in surface-life synchronicity. I felt the magnetic pull to the LHP and to commune with my Holy Daemon/Unholy Angel. I felt drawn at this time to nurture the deep communion that transcends fleeting incarnations, avatars, and appearances.
As an after fact, I realized I had forgotten to explore the two Thoth Tarot cards for Week 6; however, transitioning into Week 7, feeling the deep, intense waves of transgressive pleasure, the Moon and Lust cards took on important meaning. The waxing and waning of wild, fantastical energy enflames me for aspirations and projects in the sunlit world. Significantly, Rose Crowley on Patreon posted an image of Babalon and in ritual referenced the pouring out of blood into the Cup of Transgression, asking that those she names be made vital and attractive, focused and fulfilled.
Only after this week of incubation do I look back at my notes from Week 5 of my Grand Initiation.
The Hermit walks the alone on the path that no one knows. he takes the starlight in hand, showing that he has internalized the illumination of Nuit. Crowley writes, “The climax of the descent of matter is the signal for redintegration by spirit…the fulfillment of the Great Work.” Here the Hermit watches closely as the serpent entwines the Orphic Egg and its Becoming. Perhaps here is shamanic genesis and primordial creation.
The Star, with symbols of Venus and Babalon in the background, pours rapture over her own head. She gives unimaginable delight on earth, where we are enflamed and ascended by Goddess, perhaps a dependent arising as Night becomes a mirror of consciousness in the material universe.
Webb’s essay for Week 5 concerns Creation, double the usual length as he discusses Xeper, the core teaching of his Temple of Set.
My ritual came early in Week 5 as I created an intuitive symbol during the so-called Pink Supermoon of April 2021. The encirlced x of a railroad crossing, the diamond enclosed + of a crossroads sign, and the X of the rune Gebo became superimposed on the 8 arrows of the symbol for Chaos Magick, looking a little like arrows extending from the Wheel of Buddhism. This circle of crossing lines in turn became superimposed on a reversed cross. All was sealed under a black candle which burned from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The sigil has been set apart with the seeds from Week 4 during this week of incubation.
During Week 5, almost to the hour from beginning to end, I was guided by a Satanic Pocahontas, who encouraged me to rouse the Beast within and who sparked electrical ASMR and waves of endorphins, an experience of evocation with Lucifer, Leviathan, Baphomet, Babalon, endless Serpent, and Satan. I was severely warned not to invoke these names without ritual and reverence, a conversation ending with her telling me “good-bye,” perhaps because of traditionalist vs. progressivist differences.
That night, I had a dream that I could not steer a car that crashed over a barrier. The next day, on the way to work, I saw two vultures at the crossroads in front of the house we rent. (The last time two vulture appeared, another incarnation of Goddess said “Good-bye” to me!) Also on the way to work, I followed for a stretch of road a pink semi truck with the huge word ONE before it turned right and I turned left. The signs all converge to tell me how I broke through a boundary, had a death and life cycle of the ouroboros, and once again parted ways with a One True System.
The reading for Week 5 answers the question of my primal desires: (1) What do i want to do? and (2) What do I want to be?
I was somewhat delighted to draw two cards with fiery orange and yellow. In the Thoth 10 of Swords, the hilts form the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. The sword in position 6, the balanced heart, is smashed. Similarly, the sword in position 10 that represents full manifestation is smashed. It shows me how I often desire to follow arguments and thoughts to the bitter end of conflict and destruction, sometimes sacrificing heart on the altar of principles. I am warned not to pursue philosophy at the expense of people, for to live by the sword is to die by the sword.
The Lust card shows me that I long to be as the Beast under Babalon. I long for her to wake me up, raise me up, and ride me onward.
In Week 4, the beginning of the set on Transmutation, I am reminded that I do not just go to the crossroads: I live at the crossroads. The house we rent looks out over a segment of road where several intersections converge, where the moon shines brightly through an expanse in the trees and where cars are frequently crashing. We have seen more than 10 wrecks in 10 years, twice with the cars coming into the yard, with the mail box hit almost double that number. I am reminded, too, of my initiation with the Morrigan as dark deity in 2019 and how I hesitated to open a gate, as a green light beckoned me even as a flashing yellow light gave warning.
This week’s essay by Don Webb on Life also gives pause to think globally about life: he considers three stages of life–establishing roots, branching action, and enjoying fruit–as well as four types of effort–animal, human, heroic, and semi-divine. He suggests we must understand reward is tied to effort and make good choices, whether being a drone, a heroic marine, or Self-directed volunteer. The crossroads of the Left Hand Path mark such times of choice.
Fairly appropriately for this theme, the Thoth Fortune card was the first focus. The card displays the iconic Wheel that can symbolize a magick circle of protection, sacred space, cycles of time, phases of the moon, turning of the tides, or even the timeless hub of radical non-duality. Crowley has a vision of a scarlet heart at center, encircled by a emerald serpent. I imagine that center as Atman, the Black Flame, or dark singularity where the Oversoul may be reflected. The serpent could be considered the chaos of leviathan, perhaps, the ouroboros of changing phenomenon and outward identity. Crowley describes creatures around the rim that distract from the heart at the hub: the wolf of the flesh, the raven of the mind, and the lamb with flag–a simulation of spirit that can deceive even the elect. From the rim, Shiva seems to be like a dancing child at center; however upon moving inward, he is seen to be still as the Lord of Silence, perhaps the spirit that sends the still-small voice.
To further develop the energy of Transmutation, the theme of the second set of three weeks, I had picked in advance the Hanged Man and Death, not knowing the Hanged Man would appear as a random draw in Week 3. The card in a way represents initiation as a picture of suspension, liminal space, the shift on the LHP where Self becomes foreground and the universe becomes background. Death is more formally a picture of initiation, as the old is gone so that the new may come. Loss must be faced completely, and grief must be experienced fully. Interestingly, Crowley considers how the Death card can carry a sexual symbolism, the “little death” that is the completion of the Lust card and the link to Temperance. New forms begin to take shape in the bubbles of his dance with the scythe.
The readings for Week 4 consist of a series of daily draws, two pairs of which seemed to connect in combined meanings.
The 9 of Disks (“Gain”) and 8 of Swords (“Interference”) seem to work together to reflect some of the ideas from Webb’s essay on Life: I am at a stage of life where I am enjoying some of the rewards of my labors–home, children, spiritual expansion–yet at the same time face the requisite obstacles in making progress, something like the omens of road work, car crashes, and yellow flashing lights. There is an entrance to a green garden of freedom attended by challenges to make the breakthrough sweet.
The Moon and High Priestess cards somewhat obviously go together, but they also depict some wild experiences from this week. The Moon displays the wild adventures of imagination that I felt as someone guided me in the dark path. I felt waves of energy, more intense than in previous weeks, wild trance states that sent me into heedless invocation. I was rightly warned not to call powerful names without proper ritual and reverence, so I took some time to perform altar work with study, sigils, and meditation for Void Serpent, Leviathan, Baphomet, Babylon, Lucifer, and Satan. The High Priestess could represent the voice of wisdom as well as the need to be Self led on the LHP, rather than giving power away to any human priestess. Headaches came that may signal spiritual interference or static.
The last daily draw for the week was the 8 of Wands (“Swiftness”), showing a blaze of fire and the impulsive inrush of an idea. I found it remarkable that this last image incorporated the eight arrows included in the sigil for this week, which is the symbol for chaos magic drawn inside the Star of Babylon.
In the ritual for this week, I made sacred space and entered trance–perhaps a state of shamanic genesis–as I lit incense and two black candles, one old and one fairly new. At the conclusion of the ritual, the old candle burned to the base, so I took it out to the curb for the next-day’s trash pick up.
I used an apple slicer to cut eight wedges away from the core of a fresh apple from a sealed bag. I ate the outer slices as anointed with primordial creativity, saving seven seeds in an altar dish for use in Week 7, and donning shorts–but remaining as naked as possible–went out into nature to bury the core with my bare hands so that it can decompose in peace.
Sunday, May 11–the day of the New Moon–continued some of the high-intensity breakthroughs of Week 2. I noted in my journal seeing a green light through the crossroads in front of the house we rent, a symbolic calling to the Left Hand Path. Raecine Ardis, my tarot tutor and spirit medium, posted a resonating video on her dark practices and considering a workshop on Hecate, “who gives the skeleton key.” Jessie Huntenburg, Wise One’s Coven leader, posted a chat on love with wild abandon that was also healing and promising. And as I began playing the monthly ritual by Rose Crowley, leader of Integral Satanism, a Facebook notification from another Rose appeared as if to signify that my Dark Empress, the divine rose, channels as Great Spirit or Oversoul through many avatars, events, and energies in my life–not the least of which, I was reminded, is my sweet wife Kristin.
In the first monthly ritual where I am named, Rose opened by seeking the unholy sacrament, the unformed gate, and the unspeakable gnosis. She invoked the “void serpent” of “all ages, all creeds, and all guises.” She invoked herself as Oversoul, herself as primordial space, energy, and consciousness, asking that those named become the best version of themselves as well as ascend and become gods in human form as well as wisdom and power incarnate. The experience was quite powerful for me.
However, what followed in Week 3 had something of the dry, cool clarity described in readings I happened to be doing. Webb’s essay on Clarity from his own Grand Initiation in Uncle Setnact’s Essential Guide to the LHP suggests that moments of crystal clearness come as polarized–emotionally when times are balanced or cooly when the heart is wild with feelings. In an essay on the “Lord of Silence” in Overthrowing the Old Gods, Webb describes messages coming through the still-small voice of Spirit. In Holy Daimon, I read how Frater Acher experienced the cold side of Saturn during his first week of ritual to commune with spirit.
As I drove to work on Monday morning, I saw road workers delaying traffic at the crossroads by our house where I had seen the green light. Miles away, on a further road, I was delayed myself as a worker shifted his orange sign from “Stop” to “Slow.” And yet again on a highway yet further, I saw another orange sign indicating road work. I reflected on how I had similar experiences when going through initiation on the Christian path in 1991 and with Odin and the Morrigan in 2019: fighting gout and other adversity, outward signs that I was under (re)construction that accompanied synchronicities of calling. In the dry times and dark nights, I tend to wonder–as did Frater Acher–whether outward cycles are affecting me or whether I am doing something wrong. This time I drew three cards from my RWS tarot to help me reflect on the cause, current situation, and purpose of this dry spell.
The Hermit reminds me of Webb’s words on Clarity and suggests that dark nights bring starlight. The highs and lows are important parts of the soul’s journey. Even in mundane experiences–such as a new relationship, new home, or new school–we go through honeymoons, hangovers, and the more stable phases where roots grow deep.
The Magician reminds me that magic is at work and that internalizing must come hand-in-hand with manifesting, probably both before and after. It is encouraging, though, to remember that the magic is working.
The Five of Wands might suggest that dark or dry experiences are part of growth. The sparring lads are in training, stirring up the flames. In part I am also clearing out the old ashes, fanning the embers, seeing what sticks from inrushes of information and spiritual downloads.
These times of clarity, free from the charms of trance states and ecstatic mysticism, may also be important for making decisions. . In this more analytical condition, I decided to increase my tier in Rose Crowley’s Patreon group from Acolyte to Vanguard, which might be better done with a cool head, as I may need to be able to express my thinking to myself or others.
The first focus card and reading for Week 3 was the Thoth Devil, which complements Rose’s reference to “shamanic genesis” in the monthly ritual. The spiral horns as well as the serpents rising on the Caduceus well symbolize this infinite expansion and Becoming. Pan the goat is the All emerging from primal creativity, an almost inexpressible urgency, as the tree or wand is described arising from the depths of the earth to pierce the heavens, with Crowley quoting his own Book of the Law: “I and my Nuit are one.” The goat is said to be in a barren wilderness or the high places of ancient worship. Here is the Black Flame, the Black Mountain, the Black Sun.
The eye on the goat, which Crowley calls a blind eye as though of the one-eyed monster, assumes further importance in the Thoth Tower. In the explosion of enlightenment when Shiva opens his eye, the universe disappears. Sharp flames from the mouth destroy the structure at the base of the card. The dove and the serpent show the two types of love described in the Book of the Law, perhaps suggesting that true love is destroyed in exoteric systems promoting principles at the expense of Will. This card fits well with the theme of Weeks 1 – 3 of this Grand Initiation: Apostasy. The house of cards that make up systems and identity must come crashing down as the ouroboros cycles from destruction to creation.
The card reading for Week 3 included two cards with clarifiers for the issues of “Needed Transgression” and “Needed Destruction.”
The two Major Arcana appearing for “Needed Transgression” seem especially appropriate as the Hanged Man is the symbol of the Trans-Sates Conference I was recently watching and as the Fool for clarification applies well to the new beginnings of initiation. The Hanged Man certainly represents suspension and liminal spaces. Although self-sacrifice can be attributed negatively to mainstream religion, I think there are LHP versions of submission, for example, Odin’s sacrifice of self to self, transgressive sexuality in BDSM, and alternative spirituality of becoming “No-One” or “Nemo.” The Satanic Temple even has a ritual called the Unbaptism, which reminds me of the Drowned Man or Hanged Man.
For “Needed Destruction,” the Princess of Wands displays fiery, youthful rebellion as “plumes of justice” jet from her head. She is naked, showing how all must be removed that the fires may freely burn with wild abandon. She dances as virgin priestess before the altar of ram’s heads, indicating the fires of spring. The 3 of Wands clarifies well, showing that fresh fire and new vistas rise from the ashes of old vision.
The sigil for Week 3 was the reversed cross. Originally the cross was offensive and scandalous, perhaps worthy of the energy of an outsider or “worthless one.” However, like the the healing bronze serpent that Israel turned into an empty icon, the cross has turned into a gilded symbol of an exoteric system. The shocking inversion acts as a reset, in a sense, restoring the original “Scandalon.”
The Eye of Shiva opens, and the phallic sun casts shadows as the moonlit realms vanish.
In the Night of Nuit and shamanic genesis, every human shines as a star in the moon’s reflected light.
In seeking the meaning of the dry spell this week, I drew the rune Wunjo, even as the sun card flashed during a tarot shuffle. I feel a breakthrough is imminent.
The ritual this week called for trashing icons of the mainstream mindset. In keeping with the energy of the Tower, several times I lit an altar candle made in devotion to Mars. I cut out images of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Disney, Army, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and White House and dug out from old drawers a ceramic cross, a Mickey Mouse magnet, and an old name tag from a state job. My wife came home early, interrupting me and reminding me that my willingness for public expression always seems to lag behind my will to do personal heart work. It turns out my body wasn’t prepared for what I had in mind anyway, my digestion for some reason not being quite regular. However, the next morning, when everyone was gone, I defaced the icons with permanent marker, defiled them with excrement, and put them out with the rest of the garbage for the weekly pick up later in the day.
Thus ends Set 1 (Weeks 1 -3) on Apostasy. Now begins Set 2 on Transmutation.
In this Grand Initiation, I fan the Black Flame, ascend the Black Mountain path, and invoke the Black Sun. These intentions crystalized in Week 2 of my Grand Initiation, and I shared them with Rose Crowley before my first monthly ritual with her Patreon group. My meditations and the ritual time this week were electric as a deep trance engulfed consciousness. I sense a breakthrough, a dark anointing, a seal of some of the attainments that may not yet be ingrained or fully rooted.
A certain transgressive thrill arises in the breaking of taboos, but also a more complete understanding of Becoming as aesthetics and behavior previously demonized into shadow becomes integrated. I have experienced this shift with tarot cards in 2016, which now surround me, and with the pentagram in 2019, which now adorns my ring finger and forearm. This week, making an impromptu circle and diving into trance, I found myself chanting, “By my own name and by my own will, I invoke Baphomet and Babalon, Lucifer and Lilith, Samael and Satan.” Taking on the semi-secret name of “Nala,” I again set my will to become No-Man (Nemo), to walk the LHP, and to commune with my Holy Daimon. I set the seal for the week upon my heart, the Baphomet symbol below encircled by a left-winding ouroboros:
The Webb essay for the week was on “Order,” which focuses on the individual will bringing structure from chaos and opportunity from adversity. The Book of Thoth readings included the Hierophant and the Lovers.
The three linked rings on his staff reveal the aeons of Isis, Osiris, and Horus with the stars of hexagram and pentagram showing that this High Priest brings the macrocosm into the microcosm–as above, so below. The dancing child within the pentagram reveals the aeon of Horus, and Venus holding the sword as well as the light from the rose behind show the new powerful role of the goddess. In my ritual context of “Apostasy,” I must consider his dark side, and even Crowley writes that he looks “sinister.” He shows the danger that any new expressions can become an exoteric, rigid conformity, that narratives of aeons–such as the Golden Dawn or the New Age movements–can become systematic, failing to acknowledge the inherent transience and emptiness of all things.
Associated with the Hebrew word for “knife,” this card reminds me of choices, sharp commitment, analysis, and separation. The alchemical concept “solve et coagula,” the two words also found on the left and right arms of Levi’s Baphomet, reveal the process of breaking down and building up needed for the Great Work. Crowley writes that this card is a twin of doubles with the Art card, which also features the alchemical marriage and the orphic egg and which also carries the mystery of the hermaphrodite. The Thoth Lovers card suggests a honeymoon or paradise state of balance that is hard to reach and cannot be kept, as the serpent leads to evolutionary dissatisfaction, driving us from the garden, motivated and fighting death daily, reaching higher states of Becoming.
The tarot reading this week was an intuitive five-card spread on all that is false regarding purposes, desires, relationships, goals, and ideas. The first three cards seemed to group well, suggesting the impulses of fire and air can drive us to charge in support of false principles, authority, and structures. The 6s, for me hearkening back to the VI of the Lovers, suggest an ego-drive for success, the desire to achieve perfect victory and beautiful balance in relationships. However, Apostasy tells us that there are no ultimate answers, that ascent is unending, and that we must commune with people one day at a time.
The last two cards seem to go together to express false goals and faulty thinking. The 3 expresses the power of a clear, fiery vision; however, the 5 reminds us that focus on set outcomes can destroy equanimity and serenity. Releasing overly solidified intentions and flowing with our own emptiness, we can explore expanding themes as the dissenting outsider rather than accepting what is written in stone.
For this week’s ritual, I drew symbols that have been part of my identity in religion, mainstream culture, society, education–even as a teacher, husband, father, nice person, and human being. I burned the little crosses, flags, diplomas, rings, stick figures, and smiley faces in my cauldron. I also lit a black candle for the true Hierophant along with a pair of candles for Mercury and Venus to represent the energy of the Lovers card, perhaps as the Hermaphrodite or Holy Daimon within. I followed Rose’s ritual order of making a circle, reaching trance, invoking spirit, and setting intention. In a crescendo of ecstatic trance, I mixed the ashes of old identity with blood and body fluids, foreshadowing the full Black Mass that is scheduled for Week 9. I chanted a semi-secret new name, engaging the inverted pentagram upon my finger, forearm, and heart. Nalasatanemo. I take your name as part of my own. By my own name and my own will, I invoke Satan and Samael, Baphomet and Babalon, Lucifer and Lilith.
The initial card for focus was the Thoth Magus. His path on the Tree of Life is from the emptiness of Kether to the understanding of Binah: he is the Logos, the Word, the Will. On my home altar I lit a special candle made for Mercury (who appears here also as Thoth and Hermes), and on my work altar I lit a Sun candle and Moon candle as Crowley writes the Magus and Priestess are paired like Sun and Moon or like Lingham and Yoni.
The Priestess card stood to the right side on my altars this week, representing the esoteric wisdom that arises from within as though from Isis, Artemis, or the Moon. Her path on the Tree of Life is the only one that crosses the abyss, bringing from Kether the “nascent forms, whorls, crystals, seeds, pods, symbolizing the beginning of life.” These cards are especially appropriate for a LHP initiation as they celebrate the inner Will and Wisdom that proceed from emptiness.
As I shared through the YouTube video in the previous post, the nine-week Grand Initiation is not only based on the Thoth Tarot but also adapted from Don Webb’s book. The first week centers on the Magus and the Priestess cards as well as Webb’s essay on Chaos. I also shared how the formal initiation was arising somewhat organically and including other life events and practices. For example, my 60th birthday is approaching at the closing of my second Saturn Return. I am reading several books on meditation and communion with my Holy Daimon along with daily practice. I recently finished a workshop focused on experiencing the divine feminine through Sante Muerte, Kali, and Isis. On the first day of the Grand Initiation, I received a Patreon receipt that featured the pictures of the three priestesses I support and that work with me on tarot reading, witchcraft, and ritual, a synchronicity that spoke richly to me, especially as I only joined Rose Crowley’s group a few days ago and will be named in my first monthly ritual soon.
Webb’s essay on chaos alerted me to the principle that random events and adversity are the source of Self-created order in life, and that principle played out online. After I had posted my complete structure for the initiation, I went several rounds with a fellow member of Rose’s group who insisted that I clarify my goals for the initiation. The spur to be clear had some good results as some things crystalized. I do think it was better the clarified goals crystalized during the workings and readings of the first week rather than being imputed before the initiation began–something like the “exploratory thesis” method of writing an essay, which (LOL) I tell my students never to do–but that is all beside the point as chaos arranged for the spur to accompany my first reading and ritual of the initiation. I found myself sitting naked at the altar and chanting: “I will to become no-man, I will to ascend on the LHP, I will to commune with my Holy Daimon.” The first goal of being No-Man relates–but not completely corresponds–to a video I just posted in Rose’s area for sharing occult resources.
Several things converged to form the No-Man goal: (1) my recent study of Buddhist emptiness and LHP identity, (2) my natural fetishes and proclivities, (3) my workings with the divine feminine, (4) the Thoth Tarot reading I did for my first week, in which the Emperor appeared as the identity I want to shed and in which the Knight and Prince of Disks appeared as the way/wisdom to release that identity.
When the cards are laid out, the Knight in the middle appears to be shifting from orange fire of authority and aggression to the golden earth of practice and nourishment. The final card is properly dark as the Prince carries the symbol of the Great Work accomplished and sustains the Spirit through his material element of earth–the world, the flesh, the devil. In Phantasmagoria, the guidebook for Tarot of Vampyres, this Prince is described as “being in love with Mother Earth.”
Interestingly, in meditation this morning, I had an epiphany about something that never resonated with me before, which is why Crowley had the gnosis to switch the placement of Star and Emperor on the Tree of Life. As I considered becoming No-Man in many ways, not the least of which is my break with the patriarchy and cultural conditioning to “manhood,” I suddenly realized how wonderful it is to have the Star in the place where the Emperor once resided, like a change in aeons.
The second goal, which the chaos of online conversation crystalized is to ascend on the LHP. In the past I have longed for a clear identity such as “black magician” or “all-inclusive mystic,” but now I may hold off as I am not sure I want a limiting designation. I have already had some brushes with pagans and occultists who insisted on some rigid way, almost to the level of the mainstream religion. I do value association with other practitioners as well as shared systems and gnosis; however, as Rose so eloquently says, the background and foreground have shifted for me. All must resonate with Self and be sifted by my own consent and channel.
The third goal that crystalized during this first week thrills the longings of my heart and was stirred up as I began reading Holy Daimon by Frater Acher. I seek communion with my Holy Daimon, another way of saying Holy Guardian Angel or Holy Spirit, I suppose. These words from the book struck a deep chord: possession is “the most intimate type of spirit communion.”
The intention is to shift my identity to that of “No-Man” (see the separate post forthcoming for Week 1), to ascend on the LHP (Left Hand Path), and to commune with my Holy Daimon (Holy Guardian Angel). The shift is transgressive, dark, individual, and progressive in contrast to a more mainstream, light, collective, and traditional initiation.
Impulse to foundation/identity balanced with emptiness (river of Heraclitus)
Impulse to pre-defined purpose balanced with the never-ending ascent of evolution
Impulse to love, faith, hope, or bonds balanced with focus on Self and responsibility
Nine weeks of readings from the Atu descriptions in Crowley’s Book of Thoth and essays from Don Webb’s “Grand Initiation” in chapter three of Uncle Setnakt’s Essential Guide to LHP. Keep a Journal.
Set 1: Apostacy
Week 1: The Thoth Juggler and Priestess; Webb’s words on Chaos
Ritual: Put on favorite outfit of identity; remove, wash, and store for nine weeks. Sit sky clad.
Sigil suggestions: ouroboros, reversed pentagram
Card reading: do an intuitive three card spread on your identity, its release, and other wisdom.
Week 2: The Thoth Hierophant and Lovers; Webb’s essay on Order
Ritual: burn phrases and/or symbols of old identity