The Flying Scrolls of Logos

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

This blog is intended to represent some of my ideas concerning brotherhood, peace, and proper learning. I invite all who read my posts to respond with their own opinions, including disagreements. It is my hope that others will find my ideas appealing, take up the torch and carry that light in the path of their own glory.

Love is the law, love under will.


Davin Maki

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Problem with Anarchy

A Life Without Law.
     I dream of a world where there is no need for law. Being an optimist, I think that one day humanity will be, in general, motivated towards the greater good of the whole, that people wouldn't always have selfish desires, that I could walk down the street without worrying about being robbed or murdered. I dream of a world where these things happen without the necessity of fear to keep the populace in line. This world does not yet exist, in case you were wondering. Anarchy is not possible because humanity lacks causal responsibility, humanity believes that its good intentions exonerate it of the negative down-stream effects of its actions, humanity believes that positive input means that its actions are necessarily good, and humanity bases its system of morality on the fear of consequences.
    The problem with anarchy, as I see it, is that most humans are almost completely driven by their instinctual needs to receive positive input from their peers and avoid consequences for their actions. When the consequences are removed, the definition of ethicality suddenly become more liberal. People do not yield at a stop light to protect the safety of other drivers or bystanders, they do it to avoid receiving ticket. Such a thing could be seen very clearly on a daily basis in any suburban neighborhood where people are speeding along with no concern for the potential bystander. They do it because they know that they can get away with it. Likewise, rarely does a murderer blindly kill their victim unless it is a crime of passion. Usually, they perceive that the risk of being caught is low, thus the crime of murder is justifiable. 
     There are other examples that I should draw upon that aren't so clear cut. Bullying and peer pressure are two that always bothered me--especially the most common justification for them. When I ask someone about their abusive behavior, they usually give me some watered-down rhetoric about free speech, or how it is not illegal to verbally abuse someone. So then is it morally justifiable to totally thrash someone elses self-esteem because there are no legal consequences? I think the case is mounting. Believe it or not, I had heard similar defenses in regards to domestic violence. You wouldn't believe some of the shit I've seen.
     Another reason why anarchy is not a viable solution to our problems is that most humans, in my perception, lack causal responsibility and furthermore think that their good intentions exonerate them from the negative repercussions of their actions. One really simple example may be found daily at any local park where people are feeding wild animals. 
     It is the common perception that feeding wild animals is acceptable because it's a friendly gesture toward the animal and people are able to see the beasts of the wild up close. What many of these people--amazingly enough--don't care to contemplate is the down-stream effects of their actions. These could be manifold: a. the animals could become too naturalized to human contact, or b. the animal, relying on human food all its life, may loose some of its natural hunting or scavenging skills, or c. the food you are feeding them could contain a cumulative reproductive toxin, which is safe for humans, but dangerous to certain animals. In the case of "a," the animal could come too close to a game hunter, when otherwise the animal would be weary of such things. Also a human may stumble into the animal--not knowing that it was naturalized and acting nervous--could find him/herself the victim of an animal attack. In the case of "b," the animal looses its natural borne ability to search for food and is now dependent of humans for food. In the case of "c," the animal looses its ability to reproduce, or experiences some other toxicological effect. It is the general perception of the initiators of these kinds events that they are not at fault because they originally meant well. I say that the down-stream effects are the responsibility of the initiators.
      Let us return to the person being bullied. Even though this person is subject to decisions that they make of their own free will, we still have to appreciate the effects we may have on the decision making skills of others. After all, are we not merely a product of our genetic inheritance and past experiences? Perhaps Jimmy wouldn't have gone to drugs or killed himself, if you weren't so hard on him in the early years. He could have very well made different decisions, if life were different. We need to be aware that we are part of the experience of every entity we meet. In a real way, we are actually part and parcel of each identity we encounter.
     To recapitulate, humans are incredibly self-centered beings, even when they mean well. We, as a species, are not evolved enough to handle anarchy responsibly for the following reasons:
  1. We base our understanding of ethics on legal repercussions.
  2. We perceive that positive input from our peers means that our actions are necessarily good.
  3. We believe that our good intentions exonerate us from the negative consequences of our actions.
  4. We lack causal responsibility.
Anarchy will not be possible until we remove these defects from our character. That notwithstanding, I envision a time when we will be able to overcome these defects and soar to new heights in a spiritually based utopia.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

At the Armchair.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
     I have noticed a terrible disturbance in the nature of how the work of the initiate is portrayed, since I started practicing about eight years ago. There is a philosophy that is proving to be a bar to noble results and occult understanding within the modern magical current. Too often, I see novice magicians electing Enochian and Goety as introductory works, lest they be labeled as "armchair magicians." This faulty logic--where if the magician lays down a solid edifice of understanding before going on to do advanced work--gives the novice the erroneous impression that results are more important than the understanding of the system with which they are working. And what do we consider a solid result anyways? Many of the great practitioners I have come upon claim that they lack the visionary experiences associated with, say scrying the Aethers, calling Ourabas, or scrying on the Tree of Life. This is a problem!

A Brief Synopsis of My Training

     Practice must be prefaced by the appropriate study and prepatory work. It is not sufficient to claim that one's occult praxis is good enough because "it works!" What is meant by "it works"? Being that I'm very much active in my physical fitness, I shall use my experiences from that as source for anecdotes.
     Certainly, doing a barrage of regular situps in the evening does represent some benefit to your health. That kind of regimen pails in comparison to eating a healthy diet and doing a variety of abdominal and oblique workouts with a health trainer and goals in mind. Nothing is more humorous to me than the sight of the overweight weight lifter in the gym, who can press 245 lbs, but cannot do a single pushup or run around the track. In martial arts, a similar motif may be seen. Too often are students overly anxious to do high kicks, break boards, and do complex forms before learning and mastering their basic stance work. Most martial artists I know think that remaining in a horse stance for five minutes is an epic feat. Martial arts has become a joke in the westernized world because they are easy targets for much larger bullies. Working on solid stance work and physical fitness then becomes important.
      In the style of Kung Fu that I learned, there are five essential styles: the leopard, the tiger, the snake, the crane, and the dragon. Each of these forms represent, not only specific forms, but have philosophical tenets encapsulated within them. Each should be learned and practiced with balance and due diligence in order for the martial way to culminate within the student. In the style that I learned, there was a symbolism which was meant to serve as a balance in a students practicum: this was the balance between the Sword of the Warrior and the Sword of the Scholar; the Tiger (Force) the Crane (Mind). Although I haven't seriously practiced martial arts--except as a form of martial self expression--I still find this arrangement noble and bring it with me into my occult life.
     I began as a solitary practitioner. My practice consisted of reading the works or Israel Regardie, Frater Achad, Mathers, Westcott, Dion Fortune and the Ciceros, among others. Along these lines, I began my work as was prescribed: memorizing columns from 777, visualizations, meditating on a pillar of salt, practicing the LBRP, constructing a cube in space with my mind, and memorizing the knowledge lectures of the Golden Dawn, etc. The moment I began studying the initiations from Self Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition, I was immediately daunted. "How am I to attain to the initiation and mastery of the sublunary realms** in any timely manner?" I asked myself. It was then that I began to formulate my own self-initiations, based on the knowledge that I had obtained from a variety of texts. I began with the Neophyte ritual.
    The ritual took some time to understand--and replacements for its requirements took a considerable amount of thought on my part--but I preserved to the end. Through careful study and an understanding of the work before me, I was able to make magick "a living weapon in my hand," as it were, and construct a novel ritual which would propel me further into the mysteries.
    The layout of the temple is arranged according to the sub-angles of Malkuth; thus, the directions correspond to the Sephiroth, not to the classical cardinal attributions. 
  1. The candidate mediates quietly, thrice bound and hoodwinked, on the Yod Lamp of Anubis. 
  2. The candidate invokes his/her aegoides. 
  3. The Candidate is the purified and consecrated. each time an element is invoked, the candidate goes to the appropriate sub-angle. 
  4. The candidate affirms the metaphor of the light shining in the darkness.***
  5. The candidate swears an oath to keep the craft secret and sacred.
  6. The candidate is barred from the East and the West, Effectively balancing the fire and water invocations.
  7. The candidate is purified and consecrated two more times: once in the West and once in the East for a total of three purifications and consecrations.
  8. The candidate understands that the bondage of the oath represents the purest freedom in respects to manifesting the will****. The triple cord is removed*****.
  9. The candidate affirms his/her understanding of all the regalia and furniture, along with with certain maxims and axioms as "above, so below."
  10. The Temple is closed.
From this formula a great many rituals may be created, including self initiations. My self-initiation was more thaumaturgical, using seals and fervent prayer as my devices. I still use this formula today, as did Crowley in his day. The point of this recounting is that the magic truly became an expression of my soul (my self) once I was determined to unravel its meaning. This was a good enough beginning, where results are concerned.
     As a result of my initial rigor, my magical practice has been characterized by the highest levels of intoxication, visionary experiences, general good fortune and well being, not to mention the uniqueness of my craft.

A Brief Synopsis of My Philosophy on Occult Training

     I believe that philosophy plays an important role in magick. Nay, philosophy and magick are reciprocal forces. To what end do I practice magick, if not gain a deeper understanding of my own spiritual nature, liberate myself and others, and break the illusory boundaries of division between myself and everything else in the universe? To what end to I call upon the spirits of the sublunary realms, or the planetary or zodiacal angels, if not to gain wisdom in the ways of doing my will towards a particular end? I stated that philosophy and magick were reciprocal forces--suggesting that there was a flux of some sort--this was not accidental. Perhaps I should explain.

    In an essay I wrote concerning my personal history, I capture my meaning just fine. Instead of writing it all down twice, I shall simply paste an excerpt for you here:

"I focus very much on creating my own system of magick. It is my belief that the most powerful magick is that which is as “a living weapon in your hand.” I am a philosopher at heart. I believe that careful study should be balanced with practical ritual work. Sometimes I work solely on the pursuit of a philosophical problem; while at other times, I’m very much into my experimental work with practical magick. Dion Fortune, in her book The Training and Work of an Initiate uses an interesting analogy. She states that initiates moves along in their initiatory path much like the raising of a barn: some build their barn as they receive the resources, while others wait until all is ready and then raise the barn all at once[2]. I am of the latter variety."

I tend to enter stages of dryness (somewhat), where my sole focus is to build a solid understanding of new magicks, or to study a particular branch of philosophy. During these times, I tend to keep my practice down to the basic works, e.g. Mass of The Phoenix, Liber Resh, Yama, Niyama, Asana, and the LBRP. I'm just now emerging from one of these phases. As I go back into my more advanced practices, I shall have a much broader repertoire of tools to experiments with; my visions will be much more complex than was previously the case. All this, and I haven't died before having had the chance to do my first Goetic or Enochian working!

    Some of you who are reading this have gone through the terrible experience of memorizing all of the pentagrams. All twelve of the pentagrams are in fact simple to memorize, if you understand but a few of their principals. Let me explain: All of the elemental pentagrams work by drawing the highest possible angle (drawing the spirit down) towards the Kerubic figure you're invoking, and away from the Kerubic figure (return to the spirit) you're banishing. With this knowledge under your belt, you not only understand a significant amount about the elemental pentagrams, but they should suddenly become much easier to remember. Now for the Spirit pentagrams: you trace from Cold and Dry (Shor, Earth) to Cold and Wet (Nesher, Water) for the passive invoking pentagram and from Hot and Dry (Arye, Fire) to Hot and Wet (Adam, Air) for the active invoking pentagrams--vice versa for the banishing.  Remember the following "...and the Face of the Elohim moved over the Waters of Creation..."[3] These simple formulas should not be overlooked, for you would run the folly of making a simple (yet very important) matter unduly complex. Was it not Crowley himself who said, "Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise"[4]. This statement, I take seriously.

     To recapitulate, it does not follow that because you study the philosophical or mechanical aspects Hermeticism that you don't ALSO actually do magick. Don't let any idiot tell you any different! You shouldn't rush into advanced work for the purposes of recognition, nor should you rush into advanced work without first applying yourself in the prepatory work. The results the veritable forces of nature are talking about are no doubt poor and shoddy imitations of the real thing, if not mere emotional excitation. To understand the work is to have the ability to make magick like the Samurai Sword--a living extension of your very own being.

Love is the law, Love under will.
Truly Yours,
Davin Maki
**. This is in reference to the grades of 0=0 - 4=7 degrees. For those who aren't farmilliar to the G.'.D.'. system, this may seem confusing. In fact, each of the four grades--from Zealator (Malkuth in the new G.'.D.'. system) to philosophus--actually represent one of the four sub-angles of Malkuth. More appropriately, they represent the influences of Earth of Earth,Air of Earth, Water of earth, and Fire of Earth, respectively [1]. 
***See my previous essay The Fall of Modern Hermeticism.
****See Crowley's writing concerning the Oath (from Magick in Theory and Practice), the wand from Book 2 of Liber ABA, and the virtue, "Liberty," from Liber LLLLL.
*****Notice the Triple cord and Trice purified and consecrated.

1. Cicero, Chic and Tabatha       Self Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition, 1st ed.
2. Fortune, Dion                         The Training and Work of the Initiate.
3. -                                               Genesis
4. Crowley, Aleister                   Collected works: Temple of the Holy Ghost, The Palace of the world.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Fall of Modern Hermeticism

Introduction to the Fall

"The voice of my undying and Secret Soul said unto me--'Let me enter the path of darkness and, per adventure, there I shall find the light. I am the only Being in an Abyss of Darkness; from an Abyss of darkness came I forth ere my birth, from the Silence of a Primal Sleep.'"[1]

Few statements describe the magick of initiation as clearly and succinctly as the speech of the Hierophant after the the oath of the Neophyte has been given. The 21st century magickal current--one rife in obscure symbols, rites of initiation, obscure medieval grimoirs, and riddled with cryptic axioms and metaphors--has as its core the elevation of the spirit towards the greater good of of personal freedom, charity, universal brotherhood (or sisterhood, as the case may be), and a profound knowledge and acceptance of one's own relation with the natural world. In recent times, there has been a growing popularity for the aesthetic and the intellectual background of magick, rather than its initiatory formula. It has become a back alley for those who wish to gain fulfillment and popularity in the new sub-culture, Neo-Hermatism. Along these lines, I think there is a general decline in respect for the initiatory aspect of magick. The magickal community is beginning to become lost in vain and unprofitable discourses, calumny, petty jealousies, and power struggles. Over time, it may become nothing else but a dying fad of the 20th and early 21st centuries--this would be most sad indeed.
Perhaps we need to be reminded what the great thinkers concerning Hermeticism actually thought about magick. I will begin with alchemical analysis of the most noble quote with served as the opening to this essay. In alchemy, the darkness would be the nigredo phase, the material under work is first trans-substantiated through a process called putrefaction. This trans-substantiation of the metal liberates its "Secret Soul," or the prima meteria, or sperma, as it were[2]. This process of eliminating the impediments to the true expression of the soul through trial is just as much of an important task today as it was to the early alchemists.
The magick of Aleister Crowley is intimately connected to this foundation of alchemical initiation. As is discussed in Initiation in the Aeon of the Child, the initiate must "[L]ift himself [the candidate] from his state of torpor, he must lay the second layer of stone [of the pyramid of initiation], pass through the stage of Putrefaction and be transformed into one who may develop the Spiritual Perception that will give him the Power to unbind his own feet and discover the nature of his own being[3]". Here again, we see this motif of stepping into the darkness and finding the light of freedom and understanding. Here, the path of initiation begins with the casting off of the dross of debauchery, in favor of Light, Life, Love and Liberty[3].
In the Magick of Aleister Crowley, this process is described in, albeit more exoteric, very suitable terms:
"[T]he magician knows that the pure Will of every man and every woman is already in perfect harmony with the divine Will; in fact they are one and the same. It is the Magician's Great work to endeavor to remove the obstacles that hinder his or her perfect realization of that Will and then proceed to execute it[4]."

Although Lon DuQuette's message isn't expressed in alchemystical terms, the essential function of his words are the same--that a radically new step towards freedom must be taken after the impediments of ordinary life are cast off.

I could continue on, ad nauseum, with a list of descriptions of the processes of initiation and the history thereof; it would, however, be to great an endeavor for the purposes of this essay. It will suffice to say that, in most most forms ceremonial magick, there is a process by which the aspirant either works towards this most noble task, or springs forth from it. The process of High Magick is one of personal liberty, by way of the attainment of a deeper understanding of one's relationship to nature and a proportional sacrifice to that cause. But there arises from time to time disturbances which shift our focus from this most noble agenda.
      Much of what occurs in the name of "modern occultism" does not have any of the feeling of the aforesaid first work. Too often do I hear or read about magicians, from a variety of different groups, silently defaming one another behind closed doors. Every day, these so-called adepti clamor for attention and recognition by their peers. These people know the nomenclature and wear the vestiges of past masters in order to have recognition as knowers of obscure things. In the wise words of Swami Vivekenanda, "[S]imply wearing the vestiges of a culture does mot make one accustomed it its social mores"[5].  Increasingly, I'm noticing a trend that is moving away from the humanities and towards that of egoity and an obsession with recognition and prestige.
In an age where Hermeticism is becoming an ever increasing fad, many people are entering into the occult world on the wrong foot, as it were. As a result of this, many of the novices to the craft walk away from their initial experiences ether discouraged, or believing that the path to initiation really is more about understanding curios and obscure intellectual bobbles and having a reputation for it.
Like all fads pass, so will the occultism fad. There is a serious problem with this. The 21st century is an unique time for occultism. In the past, occult texts (and their corresponding traditions) have survived mainly through the diligent efforts of clergy members and academe [6]. However, in today's time, there is little interest for the preservation of occult doctrines outside of our own realm. Modern magick and alchemy sometimes appears as a footnote, or a comical vignette in any serious text on the History of Ideas. Today, the church is more ignorant of occultism then it ever has been in the history of occultism. I'm skeptical that a veritable Meric Casaubon will be waiting for us to fade, so that he can preserve our craft "for the sake of Christian piety"[7].
If we want to preserve our craft, we should focus more on the philosophical content and the humanities aspects of modern magick. A focus on the liberation of the soul can only be achieved while serving the interests of peace and learning. It is stated that "[G]overnment is service and nothing else"[8]. As initiates on the path, we should look at our own position in world in similar light: that we have an obligation to render a service to the novice seeking a new path to personal freedom. I believe that we are truly entitled to little else. It is only then that the novice's attention is brought to the true beauty of Love, Light, Life, and Liberty. Was it not Dion fortune who said that Magick is for the healing of the nations[9]? What is needed is a throwback to universal brotherhood and charity. Then, our craft will be preserved through the ages--as a tradition rife in beautiful symbolism, a charitable and gentle community, and a true desire to bring humanity closer to that "royal republic which is the highest ideal of human society"[10].

Works Cited:
1. Regardie, Israel.           The Golden Dawn, 5th ed.
2. Eliade, Mircea.             The Forge and The Crucible, 2nd ed.
3. Gunther, Daniel J.         Initiation in the Aeon of the Child
4. DuQuette, Lon Milo     The Magick of Aleister Crowley
5. Swami Vivekenanda     Raja Yoga
6. Holmyard, E.J.             Alchemy
7. Casaubon, Meric          qtd. from the preface to A True and Faithful Relation
8. Crowley, Aleister         Liber CI
9. Fortune, Dion               Sane Occultism
10. Crowley, Aleister         Magick Without Tears