The Veil: When Keys Turn in the Locks of Fate

Consulting my oracle deck, The Halloween Oracle, for insight about the cumulative effects of Mercury and Mars Retrograde and the lingering influence of the Super Blood Moon, I drew The Veil.  This is a card about the future, yes, but it is just as much about the future-becoming-present.  That is its true significance.

In the future, anything is possible.  It is when the future becomes manifest in the present that possibility transforms into meaning.  This card emphasizes that transformation.  In other words, look at the things you’ve been anticipating (both positive and negative).  The Veil indicates that they are about to become realities.  So get ready.

Magical people especially have to keep this card in mind because if there are workings and intentions out there, The Veil says they are doing to create effects, for better or worse.  Here, possibility becomes fate.  So mote it be.



Poetry and Prophecy

In early times, honey was the principal inspirational drink, often in the form of hydromel (which can be slightly alcoholic) or mead. Moreover, honey can be hallucinogenic if the bees frequent certain plants. (Wine as an inspirational drink arrived later with Dionysos.) Honey was the traditional food of the gods, often identified with nectar and ambrosia, which confer divine immortality. As you will see, Apollo governs both poetry and prophecy, which are identical in origin, and both are compared to honey when they are divinely inspired and, as a consequence, are both true and beautiful.

—John Opsopaus, The Oracles of Apollo: Practical Ancient Greek Divination for Today

Performing the “Headless Rite” with the Members of Studio Arcanis


This is an invitation I’ve made to the advanced practitioners on Studio Arcanis, which is a magical forum I help moderate.  I include the information here in case my friends, clients, and the readers who follow this blog wish to also participate.  I will not be including the “sigil of binding” on my website here.  For that, you’re going to have to become a member of the Studio Arcanis community (which is easy—you can just register and post an introduction—and it would be fun if you let me know or mentioned in your intro that you were directed to SA from my website). 

But there is nothing to prevent you from also performing this very powerful, sometimes dangerous, ritual on your own.  Keep in mind that  SA is a group of advanced magical practitioners.  This means I do not provide these prefatory comments in my invitation there.  But if you’re interested in doing this working, please note the following.

The Headless (or “Bornless”) Rite Can Be Dangerous

By way of warning, I will excerpt a passage from White’s Chaos Protocols where he talks about the implications of this ritual:

In conversation with the author Jake Stratton-Kent, the world’s foremost authority on Goetia, he suggested that the rite is designed to associate its performer with a very large and powerful spirit that has the requisite authority over lesser spirits. It orients the magician in a higher position relative to an ambivalent spirit world. There is much to recommend this interpretation, especially when one reads of Osiris as king of the spirits of the Land of the Dead in the Pyramid texts. Also, Moses is the typological “law giver.” His word— and thus the magician’s word— is the word of God.

If any of this sounds too much like bullying spirits, I recommend taking the ayahuasca/ shamanism route mentioned at the top of this chapter instead. It may serve to re-frame your opinion away from cartoon fairies at the bottom of an Edwardian garden more toward the intense and occasionally unpleasant realities of extradimensional contact. The spirit world is certainly holy, but that does not mean it is nice. Shamanism, for instance, is better described as “wrangling and trading” with the spirit world than anything we might consider worship. Besides, these bombastic phrases are more for the magician’s benefit than the spirit’s. We announce ourselves loudly and then we make friends.

The secondary reason for suggesting this rite as a means to triggering initiation is that it is largely interoperable with whatever your resting belief system happens to be. All too often when reading a magic book, the author seems hell-bent on converting you to his or her belief system. I have no such inclination. The Headless Rite deals with spirits and the spirit world. These concepts are for all intents and purposes universal. You do not need to swap out any of your gods or festivals to work it. You could take yourself off to mass or a sabbat or Diwali immediately afterwards.

Perform once and then see what happens over the ensuing couple of days. Then perform several more times, randomly and/ or as needed. The rite may trigger initiation, but it is not an initiation rite. Like an old friend, you can return to it whenever you feel like it. . . . The sensation is difficult to describe; it is almost as if you have dropped a depth charge into the ocean of the spirit world. Some things get cleared away, some things get shaken loose and some things come swimming.

(White, Gordon. The Chaos Protocols: Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality

My own experience with this work has been difficult, to say the least.  However, as I note below, one of the long-term effects has been that the outcomes of my workings have become more successful more often.  That is priceless and worth the bumpy ride, in my opinion.  Still, if you want to participate in this, please do so with a modicum of sanity and deliberation.  Read about the ritual (which you should always do in any case) and take the performance of it very seriously. 

With respect to research before the work, I recommend you get a good copy of the PGM.  Betz’ 1992 translation is just fine.  For context (and to broaden your sense of how this magic can be construed by working practitioners), I would also recommend Dr. Flowers’ Hermetic Magic (which I reference below), Gordon White’s text, and that you find some scholarly resources for context. 

Key searches should center on terms like Greek magic, Hermetic magic, Western Esotericism, Western Mystery Tradition, classical magic, and “Hermes” as a magical symbol.  A solid invocation to Thoth (or, really, Hermes) before entering a university research library would be ideal.  Don’t rely only on the internet.  Get your hands on physical books and do some old-fashioned university-level research.  There is an immense amount of magic in that process as well.

Below, I include the complete text of my invitation post.  Clearly, if you are not a member of Studio Arcanis, I am not asking for your results.  But I want you to have a good overview of what this group project entails nonetheless.  I hope you will benefit in some way from this information.

Re: the Headless Rite, first some perspective.

The last time I performed it was on 23 October 2017 in Paris. I adapted Gordon White’s version given in his Chaos Protocols, rewriting his invocation of the four demonic kings to correspond with information on them in Poke Runyon’s Book of Solomon’s Magick, including their sigils. The immediate outcome was interesting but not altogether pleasant.

Now over 9 months have passed. In that time, I’ve performed 121 magical workings for myself and for others. Of these, there was one direct failure and four outcomes that could not be verified. My results timeline, in most cases, runs to 3 months at the longest, which is admittedly an arbitrary limit, but imposing a timeline for your workings is a great way to stay sane and avoid lust of result. I mention these numbers not to toot my own horn but to point out that, because I keep track, I can say that the success rate of my operative work increased noticeably after performing the Headless Rite.

So I’m thinking about another performance of this. This time, I’m going to use the version given in Dr. Stephen Flowers’ Hermetic Magic on page 182, “The Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist or the Rite of the Headless One” (PGM V.96-172, 350 C.E.). It’s simpler and I will not be invoking the four demon kings. However, I will be using the “General Magical Invocation” (PGM V.459-189, 350 C.E.), given on page 196 as a frame ritual.

The Invitation

The members of Studio Arcanis are also invited to perform a version of The Headless Rite, whether they prefer Liber Samekh, Gordon’s version, Dr. Flowers’ version, or some other. The performance does not have to be synchronous. I will include a sigil in this thread at some point, maybe this evening, that will bind all workings of this together to accomplish three things: (1) amplified power in the outcomes for all participating magi; (2) benefits accruing to Studio Arcanis itself as a magical entity (if you know what I’m talking about here, you need not ask / if you don’t know, don’t ask); and (3) a greater sense of community here. I firmly believe (along with a few of the old timers from EM), that this forum has potential not only as a knowledge resource, but also a powerful magical engine. So I’d like to see a bit more collaboration. Instead of complaining about it, I’ve decided to step up. 

There are only three working rules I ask the participants to observe:

1. No whining. If “shit jumps off” in your life as a result of performing this ritual, don’t blame me or SA. Blame your unresolved baggage, daddy, or karma. Suburban housewitch phobias about “threefold return” and “blowback” have no place in an advanced forum. If stupidity were painful, mentioning this would be largely unnecessary. Unfortunately, it needs to be said.

2. Report your results. Look at how I have written this post. First, I give background on what I did, where, and why I performed the rite. Then I talk about the praxis I intend to use. Then I speculate about the outcomes / theories. If you use that model, you will be offering at least something to others here from your hard work.

3. Try to keep the UPG to a minimum. Obviously, you’re going to have to report your subjective impressions as well as the objective steps you took to do this work. But if Ronald Reagan shows up in a gold Cadillac to take you to Aleister Crowley’s Enochian rumpus room in the fifth level of Baator or whatever, maybe ask whether that is going to be of any use to your colleagues here. Similarly, if you scare yourself silly in the process of doing this, try not to foam at the mouth too much on these forums. The bottom line is providing value to the community.

I want this to be a useful experience, but any kind of “initiatory magic” takes an investment of time, focus, and consideration. If you want to be part of this, please feel welcome. 


I discuss my earlier experience of the Headless Rite in these threads:
↑ I’m pretty hard on the ritual in these comments, but I do believe the benefits outweigh (and, at least for me, have outweighed) the costs.

Download an excellent template from the original rite in the PGM from The Scribbler here:

Three Steps Fundamental to Leading a Magical Life

Submitted for your consideration: 

  1. Get over yourself.  The mind is a good servant but a terrible master.  Cultivate awareness instead of drama.
  2. Trust in and keep your focus on the things you admire and the process that is drawing you towards them.  This is the meaning of faith.
  3. Step very lightly through this world.  The quieter and lighter you are, the more space there is in your life for meaning and the more powerful you become.

Magic: a Definition in Progress

Here’s a new definition for magic that I’ve been refining.  I think there’s more to it, but I’m trying to approach this in a thoughtful, methodical way.  The other day, I brought it up in a talk with a client and it’s still tapping me on the shoulder, asking to be born.  So, tentatively, I’ll let it be what it is at the moment: Magic is the subtle art of taking responsibility for yourself on all levels: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in terms of right perception, right action, right feeling, and right knowing—in order to advance your development and well-being in a way that is in harmony with the flow of all things.  This definition intrigues me in a number of ways.  For now, I’ll just put it here and continue thinking about it.