Hello again, Ganymede. I am going to attempt to take some inventory of the kind of magic that I practice. So! Let us look to another entity today- The Devil. Yes, I’ll start speaking on The Devil by speaking on hokey New Age tarot cards. Okay, yes, I, like many others, have often judged what might be categorized into the New Age section of bookstores as "hokey". Hippies, too. I had a little prejudice against them; I had this feeling ingrained in me that led me to think they were pussies, even if I didn't mind them. And for for some reason, when many people judge others as hippies, they also judge the hippies, and their various philosophies, as rather worthy of dismissal. New Age (whatever the Hell that is- I'm certainly not going to restrict it with a definition; just that the name refers to the astrological Age of Aquarius) holds many of the same varied philosophies, and is easily dismissed by these same people and the person I used to be. Then I grow up, and I am shocked to find that others sometimes label me as a New Age hippie- I had only cleverly disguised myself from myself in black clothing, responsible work, and a horrible attitude. I suppose I need not feel so wounded; hippie only means “one who is aware”. Mind you, some New Age material is still very awful and worthy of critique. Yet the occult, which is a knowledge often lumped into the syncretic New Age movement/bookstore section, still has much goodness to fascinate us when done simply and in the truth and joy of the moment. I definitely enjoy tarot, astrology, various other occult practices, and that for which all my friends and I have been derisively and dismissively called hippies: Theatre. So- The Devil.
This particular card is quite good- The Devil holds two humans prisoner with his chains. One is a woman whose grape-bunch-tail seems to symbolize woman’s creative forces, I would suppose, with the man’s fire-tail representing the counterpart, man’s destruction. This is not to say humanity should be polarized like this, even if it is in some instances- rather, we must all incorporate both the Shiva and Shakti energy displayed here. Creation and destruction are both necessary. (I sometimes find both destruction itself, and others' lack of its incorporation, bothersome: Dionysos continues to remind me to accept.). The Devil is part man, part beast, representing again the liminal and transformation, just as Dionysos does. I have seen another deck in which the Devil was hermaphroditic, as Shiva can be in one of his incarnations- and Dionysos is certainly effeminate as well. That’s just more liminal stuff- the stuff I love and the stuff lots of people just don’t like allowing.
The Devil has a pentagram above his head, which represents the primordial magic/energy found within all I would say, but the pentagram is inverted, which then points to negative instead of positive energy, as some say… I mean, I guess since the Devil leads you to darkness- but I don’t think the pentagram’s position matters unless YOU think it does. Light or dark- it does not matter. You may nurture whichever side you choose, and reap the rewards or consequences. The degree of its rotation is arbitrary.
The Devil of the Tarot has represented the ties of materialism and self-bondage… the fetters and chains of the ego. I think it’s okay to indulge in hedonism, but I will not deny that materialism can help one fall to the dark side. The chains which you see upon Adam and Eve are self-imposed. One may remove these chains at any time.
The Devil represents a whole lotta dogma when conflating with various incarnations of evil in religion, which varies from case to case. Going along with that, I should say that we ought to look at him as the Adversary, as the title Satan means in Hebrew: A sort of critic, a prosecuting attorney who attempts to point out what is wrong… haven’t we all felt that way? I do a lot D: I’m terribly liable to point out flaws before the good. And I love the Devil’s advocate game.
The Devil represents the dark side within us all, the shadow we must face. Our light shines within our reflection: the darkness… well, you have to face the music. The beat. The vibration of the light in the darkness. You have to face your demons and your angels... such is life, and you might enjoy it. Now that is some goetia, put very simply, in my own words.
But that is just purgative (and damn uncomfortable, ain’t it? Dionysos reminds me to accept.). There are other aspects to this. I meditate for hours a day, and have for as long as I can remember. I don’t think this is necessary for magic, of course. This is just MY kind. I enjoy various forms of meditation- originally, I would just lose myself in imagination and escape, but I don’t think that’s advisable as a constant. In the past few years, I have begun chakra meditation, whether on traditional Hindu chakras or others (such as the Tree of Life- really, I believe almost anything will work so long as you are good at visualizing energy and breathing and focusing on your body. One can look up some excellent meditations online for whatever variation- those can be tested over time and then arranged into whatever one most prefers personally.). I also do yoga, tai chi, and qigong. Relaxation and breathing are essential parts of such things- really, if one wants to improve one’s life through improvement of the physical vessel, one must learn how to relax and breathe! And exercise, and learn how to sing. Practice makes perfect.
Now, I don't want to confuse anyone about meditation- it's not really about thinking. It's not really about ideas so much as just paying attention and being. But thoughts are usually unavoidable, and words are tricky, so I will say that, as for just some few ideas to meditate upon in any such activity- Eckhart Tolle recommends some great “portals into the Now” as he calls them. Yes, yes, I thought the Now was as hokey as a lot of other shit, and it certainly seems to market itself as such- but oh well. I guess it was supposed to happen that way. Despite how uncomfortable I might feel about accepting EVERYTHING in that book, I know that he has certainly got a few truths right and they are worth pointing out here thanks to their succinct honesty. These “portals” are: Silence, Nothing (and related topics Emptiness and Space), The Now, Surrender (Surrender: acceptance of what is going on, or... whatever- Tolle writes more about this, and there are many other nice works that treat the topic of surrender… I hear it’s supposed to be sweet! Tolle says it is the way Jesus and his adherents went, giving an example of being thrust through suffering so far that one surrenders… I’m trying it out, this acceptance thing, but it’s a continual struggle for me :P ), Cessation of Thinking, and of course one’s Self- but not the false self- rather, the inner self, the uber self and child self, the true and infinite self- Tolle calls it the Inner Body. More ideas I use would be considering one’s mastery over the universe, considering one’s potential, considering one’s desires, considering that one is alive right now, observing one’s feelings and moral guidance, considering one’s voice in the universe, considering one’s perception of the universe, meditating upon the fact that all is One, nothing is real, everything is God, even that inanimate object there… and you are a living breathing perception machine, aren’t you? There are lots more, but those are the ones that jump out at me right now as most important for me. I remember reading a list of such ideas online- one to practice each week of the year or such, and others are just the result of chakra meditation.
Mandalas are an expression of magic. Or if you prefer verbs over nouns: Mandalas express magic. Every spiritual/magical experience I have had has been connected to mandalas- or, haha, on occasion, the ENTIRE experience was a mandala ;) There are some excellent mandalas on DeviantArt, as well as a few other websites, whenever one cares to examine them for a while, at the very least. Here are a couple that I found for free on a website with mandalas for children to color-
I just did so with scented colored pencils and put some craft paper around them for frames and put them up on my bedroom walls (after a thorough purgative cleaning ;) ). My walls had looked so stark and white before- now they still look quite stark and white, but improved ^_^ Besides, coloring or creating mandalas will nurture one’s creative side, which is, of course, quite magical. (I colored the people on the edge of the universe in the second mandala a purplish blue and I call them the Plum People who straddle the earth below them and are exposed to he edge of infinity :P ) It will help one to get in touch with the forces that be (within even oneself) as much as anything will, I’m sure.
Which brings us to the next, and most important practice that I can think of- create! Or destroy. Transform. Purify. Even though we are all members of the same primordial ooze, and you are merely moving sand around within more sand, that right there is magic.
I don’t have any frilly complicated rituals in my grimoire- I like rituals sometimes, but rituals are empty without real magic to back them up. So, because I do not have as strong a connection with ceremonial magic, I use such rituals only rarely. When the time calls for it, I reference others' work and then, as I am an actor, I usually improvise. Rituals are not dry dusty things to be followed by rote from carefully transcribed instructions in a book.
Perhaps I ought to say that my own rituals are usually different than might be stereotypically imagined. I do like candles. They make things pretty. I also like incense and other altar materials for the same reason- they smell good/look good/taste good/make you feel good. But I don’t perform any prevalent, regular rituals at all other than meditation, yoga, and the rituals involved with Catholic Mass and theatre- a spell or prayer is just like anything else you might affirm to yourself. We do that all the time, so to give a specific ritual real power you’re going to have to do it with a dedicated regularity. Mantras, rosaries, or even just singing fall into this category, I should think. I do sing, and I do pray, but my prayer is more like just daily conversation with God- or you, Ganymede, depending on my mood-, evolving from day-to-day, with the occasional divination. Again, it is not a dry, dusty thing, even if many Catholics might fool you into thinking so with their dry monotony. You have to mean it!
I also don’t have any instructions for potions written down… but my significant other might- haha! Just insofar as everything that one consumes is a potion of some kind… each food has a nurturing aspect… or a poisonous aspect. I am not a cook, but my significant other, let us call him Luken, loves to cook- in particular, he is a saucier. That is another example of how everyone does their own magic. My own grimoire is sadly lacking in recipes- I never expanded that part of my person.
What does my grimoire include? A record of synchronicities, dreams, visions- at least when I can remember to write them down! Astrological notes, charts, tarot readings' comments and reviews. Storyboards and playscript snippets.
I’m sure there are many other ways to express magic in which I don’t personally indulge, but I should say that they all at least are an expression of moving sand around in sand :P What more can I tell you that you don’t already know? And hey, we all already knew all this anyway. Every new realization you can make about the universe and its magic- you already knew. After all, you ARE me. ~__~ This strikes me heavily as I sit here with my new little hobby. I’m typing words on a screen, moving sand around sand- Lord knows who will see it besides myself, and I know I shouldn’t care about judgment and should just write freely. But since you are still me, even if as another human being, and I am therefore only typing to myself… wake up, that doesn’t matter! Still, it makes me wonder at the point of shoving sand at one’s self, even if it is only randomly over the internet and therefore less full of artistic intention so much as sharing everyday life while trying to shed my attachments to fear of judgment within honesty thanks to anonymity, when one has reached the point of ceasing to see the boundaries of form. I suppose it is that I do still see them, and do still care about beauty (and I still haven’t forgotten pain). Regardless, I know this is what I am supposed to do- right now, at least. I’ve determined to carry out a little something creative so long as I’m stuck accepting and feeling negative and listless at the same time, because if I do not, Dionysos rather kindly sets into a more torturous mode. “Do something now, human; this comforting silence is not for you until you come back! Use that energy you resent in this reality you resent and from which you have always attempted escape! Elseways I begin the torture >( “ A curious and frustrating little dance. It is not that I want to place blame, after all, if all is one I am only blaming myself, aren’t I?
On that topic, here is another point about me: I always seem to be casting negatively. Or at least I have in the past. Of course, we all know that we are not our pasts- just what we decide to be now, but our past often still haunts us in various ways. I just FEEL negative. Luken says that I have been casting negatively, even if accidentally, for years, and here he uses an analogy- because I wish “the air were blue”. It is fairly accurate, if still not quite spot on. I am just fundamentally offput by this reality- or at least I have been. I continue to try to practice acceptance as though that will make it acceptable. I do not know if it is a question of my not trying hard enough or my forgetful nature- forgetful about fundamental truths. One can only keep so much inside at one time, after all. Maybe it will work someday. In the meantime- I exist and I do what I do.