A few years ago, I began an intense period of work with Brujo Negro’s Voodoo Sorcery Grimoire (VSG), aware of how controversial it was in terms of authenticity and provenance and yet caring less about those things than how the practices made me feel and what they seemed to produce.
Over time, I’d given myself permission to get romantic about magic, which is to say I’d come to emphasize what Wordsworth called in his Lyrical Ballads, the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” I’d reached a point at which the way something felt was far more important to me than its historical or cultural authenticity. And I am still travelling along that highly permissive magical path.
From the perspective of my practical work, a grimoire or a magical technique either is or is not effective, regardless of where it comes from, who wrote it, or when. Its effectiveness usually depends on the sense of wonder it conveys, on the depth of feeling I can explore through it. That is where I go to find true power, but I know it is not that way for every practitioner.
This verges on something like a classical chaos magic paradigm (if one can refer to an aspect of chaos magic as “classical” and keep a straight face), seeing belief as a means of attaining a numinous state. Belief in the efficacy of a particular grimoire seems to be a tool that has just as much in common with the leap of faith a convert puts in his newly acquired religion. Some subjective verities and insights have already emerged or at least resonated in the individual, but many have yet to be discovered. And it’s up to the magician or new adherent to feel his way forward through the material.
For the convert, faith that her religion’s teachings are a valid and useful truth-finding process is a “means to an end” as if she were engaging in a chaos working—a practical way to experience a sought-after, highly personal, transcendent, magical moment. Like a chaote seeking “gnosis,” one uses the spiritual techniques, symbols, and ideas to bring forth the “magical feeling,” which is where the “power and the glory” always reside. It’s where demons and angels come calling, where the gates of the underworld swing wide, where the shades of the dead move and appear, and where deity speaks.
Having had more than a few experiences like this with Papa Legba through the work of the VSG, including an invitation to travel a long distance and begin formal study in one of his more traditional systems (an invitation for which I was appropriately grateful but chose not to take up), I felt deeply fascinated with the grimoire and knew it would take me to ever more powerful places if I kept using it. It remains a treasured part of my work, integral to my magical life.
I should and do intend to write more posts about my VSG explorations. But although this post involves the VSG, it is about a different and perhaps more general magical experience: the time in every magician’s work when a powerful spirit who has not been called arrives on the altar and introduces itself.
This will happen more than once, especially if you do a lot of necromancy and spirit evocation. Things will sometimes follow you home from the graveyard or appear in your scrying apparatus, whether or not you’ve sealed the premises and taken other precautions to guard against close encounters. Often these spirits will be messengers or simply just curious beings drawn to your inner light—something they enjoy and can see clearly. Your wards and protections may not affect them because they mean you no harm and are therefore outside the scope and intention woven into those barriers.
There are spirits everywhere. Just because you banish the area and set up metaphysical countermeasures doesn’t mean you are then operating in a metaphysical “clean room,” as some beginners assume when they get to the point where they can feel the force of their pentagram rituals and circle castings. Banishing and cleansing are a lot more complicated and subtle than that, especially if you’re working in a spirit-based paradigm. So, although my personal protections come in many different layers and styles, I am never surprised when a spirit taps me on the shoulder; though, this is not something that regularly happens. If you are right with your ancestors, your guardian spirits, and your gods, you have nothing to fear from such visitations.
Some systems and practices leave you more open to this than others. And it would be worthwhile for me to someday compare the various magical approaches I’ve studied in terms of the breadth of the perceptual fields they establish in the practitioner. For now, it’s enough to say that long use of the VSG techniques has enhanced my ritual necromancy and hoodoo graveyard work to the point at which I have become extremely open to spirit communications.
I might be as open as a spirit medium, an openness that can prove to be far more dangerous and far less selective than necessary for most operative grimoire magic. That said, I’m experienced and confident enough that I can handle hostile, destructive, or otherwise unwelcome intruders. But I never expected a spirit from the “182 Current” to pay a visit.
Part of the beginning VSG work involves obtaining a human skull (like a less dedicated and permanent oboth or yiddeonim) as a doorway to the world of the dead. Over time, one uses it similar to an advanced crystal ball—less as a window and more as an open spirit house, a magical construct, existing simultaneously on physical and non-physical planes, into which any spirit can be called, be communicated with, and be fed.
The story of how I obtained my skull for this work must remain private. But I can state that it has served me well and has always functioned exactly as intended. It has become one of my most useful magical tools. Still, I’ve come to suspect that it is precisely because of its versatility and power that a strong spirit was able to step right into it unbidden.
This happened a few days ago when Amiahzatan, a tobacco and smoke daemon identified in Templum Falcis Cruentis’ Liber Falxifer, made himself known during my daily before-dawn magical work. I felt him before I heard him, a heavy, almost leaden, gaze coming through the skull’s eye sockets. I could feel its stare pushing into me.
Not recognizing the unique “signature” of this feeling, I asked it to identify itself and a voice came into my head: “Amiahzatan.” The intense power behind that name was palpable, even through the medium of voiceless spirit communication. We observed the proper courtesies and he offered to help me with certain creative aspects of my work in exchange for (very reasonable) specific offerings. Intrigued, I assented and a pact was made.
Though I owned the Falxifer trilogy of grimoires, I had not ever seriously worked with them or even opened them in years. And I should admit that I have been skeptical of the 182 / 218 Current, which originated in the anti-cosmic Satanism of the Misanthropic Luciferian Order and became the Temple of the Black Light. To me, their inverted 2nd-century gnosticism and overheated dark-fluff kabbalah-Kenneth Grant mashup seemed more relevant to fans of the black metal band, Dissection, than serious occultists. But I have to reconsider my previous judgements. I can’t deny the powerful interaction I had with Amiahzatan, a spirit associated with Liber Falxifer’s folk magical component and the cult of Sigñor la Muerte, Lord of the Dead.
Perhaps my years of hoodoo and my work with the VSG (among other things) made it possible for me to form this connection without any sort of initiation into the 182 Current (or its complementary “chaosophic” anti-cosmic Current 218). To be honest, I have not yet discovered an explanation and can only speculate at this point. But I can say that I was not actively aware of the name, “Amiahzatan,” having read it, at most, once or twice in the book many years ago. I have since done some online research as well as getting out the trilogy of Falxifer grimoires and starting to study them again.
In another magical twist, an old friend recently (and unexpectedly) gave me a copy of The Book of Sitra Achra, which he said he was instructed to do by Thoth, his patron deity. I have known him long enough not to question that. And, in my experience, one does not overlook such synchronicities. The reader may also be amused to learn that the reeds outside my window have been visibly and unnaturally bending into an unmistakable “X,” which is a key symbol in the “Ablution Ritual” for the altar statue to Sigñor la Muerte (as the Master Qayin). The symbol also carries a tremendous amount of meaning in my hoodoo work as the liminal crossroads where one meets the Black Man (or, in the VSG work, Papa Legba), who opens the roads. Make of this what you will. The point is that, contrary to my skeptical assumptions and expectations, an area of spirit magic has now opened to me in a way I haven’t expected and would not have otherwise pursued. This is rare and I take it seriously.
That said, I do not know where this path will lead but, like a chaote or a novice believer, I am making that “leap of faith,” keeping an open mind and focusing on the subjective insights that have already emerged in my work. I write this post not only to document the experience but also to recommend a similar approach in the reader’s magical studies. Follow your sense of wonder and see what happens. Anything is possible.