The Trouble with Money Magic

Over the years, I’ve found that the most prominent error people make with money magic is to focus on the money as opposed to what they can do with it. The unconscious mind—which is fairly synonymous with the vast astral expanse called the Ha-oh-lahm Yetzirah or the World of Formation in Kabalistic magic—has a hard time with numbers and quantitative thinking in general. It functions almost exclusively along qualitative channels. It’s like when you astrally project and can travel a thousand kilometers in the blink of an eye. Why is that? Because quantity (the number of kilometers, in this case) means nothing to your magical-thinking self. It’s all about quality (experience, movement, perception).

This means that when you’re doing a ritual to get $500 and you’re focusing hard on that amount, the implicitly magical part of your mind is not getting the message. Or if it is receiving what the thinking consciousness is sending, it’s probably not hearing the message in the best, most complete way. If this is true, it accounts for why money workings often seem to fall short of people’s expectations. You do a ritual for $500 and find a quarter in the street. Was your ritual a success? Not by any quantitative standard, but your unconscious mind thinks that now the quality of money has been manifested where before there was none. Yay, money!

Moreover, the quantitative-qualitative problem also explains the central issue with “big lotto” spells. When you play the lottery, you’re not primarily focusing on what you can do with all that money. Sure, you may have some vague ideas about cars and houses and super yachts. Maybe you have faith that when you win the lottery, all the anxiety you feel about being financially insecure will go away. While I’m not going to dispute your feelings on the matter, I will suggest that this type of thinking is still highly quantitative because your entire point of focus is far more concentrated on getting the large amount of money than on these vague plans.

Don’t believe me? Would you take the time to do a lotto working if the jackpot were $5? If you’re not thinking in terms of quantity, a win is a win, right? Yay, money! So it’s pretty clear that the reason we play the lottery is because we think a vast, obscene, filthy, enormous chunk of lucre could be ours for the price of a ticket. We’re comparing numbers. Let’s not even get into the odds (which would be more quantitative anti-magical thinking) and just admit that lotto spells exist because of numerical assumptions.

How do we get around that? My first suggestion is to forget about lotto spells. Make a lot of money by working hard and using your magical ability to influence that work—something you have an enormous amount of control over compared to a lotto ticket. But if you must play the lotto, the best thing to do is to think qualitatively. In other words, think about what you’d do with the money and really feel those emotions. Get past the cliché vague car-house-boat fantasies and do some introspection about what you’d really want to do that you can’t do with your current finances. You might say you want to travel, but you can travel right now. So where would you visit that is hard or impossible to visit at the moment? How would that make you feel? Focusing on that feeling in your magic—whether it’s with a sigil or in some complex multi-part ritual—will be so much more powerful.

This is true about all spells, especially money magic. Focus on the feeling and pursue that. The money will then come as a pathway of manifestation for that feeling. If, for instance, I want to stay in a posh hotel in Tokyo, I’ll enchant by focusing on the sensations and emotions associated with that. The magical part of me will get the message loud and clear and will set to work bringing that experience into my reality. If the experience requires a lot more cash than I have on hand right now, the cash will come. But maybe I’ll win an all-expenses Lost-in-Translation-esque stay for buying the 1000th cup of sencha at my local sushi restaurant. Or maybe my wealthy uncle will decide to do something unselfish for a change and bankroll the experience. The numerical value of the money is actually irrelevant in these cases. It was always irrelevant. Only experience, only life, is relevant. And your soul understands that truth even if your limited consciousness has forgotten it temporarily!

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Recommended Spiritual Worker: Madame Pamita

I’m been enjoying Madame Pamita’s insights and comments for a long time.  She’s great.

I like to recommend magical colleagues who I think are particularly talented, smart, and / or skilled.  I am approached by more clients than I can take.  And so, rather than being competitive (a negative characteristic of many public occultists, especially conjure workers), I try to serve the Art by bringing people together.

BEHIND the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvellous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed. Occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or god-mother of all intellectual forces, the key of all divine obscurities and the absolute queen of society in those ages – when it was reserved exclusively for the education of priests and of kings. 

—Eliphas Levi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, trans. A.E.Waite, 1896

Using Grimoires and their Spirits to Learn Magic

When it comes to old magical texts, you will know you are no longer a complete beginner when you can at least read a Renaissance grimoire* and determine a practical way of working with it. Spirits can also teach you how to do this. Here are three suggestions for developing a larger repertoire: 

1. Take the time to learn a modern grimoire, like those offered by the Gallery of Magick, Al Manning, or New Avatar Power (NAP) by Geoff Gray-Cobb.  They work!  And, in spite of their simplicity, they can serve as an introduction to this sometimes daunting field of occultism.  See if you can call up the “teaching spirit of the book,” sometimes referred to as the crossroads spirit or the “familiar of the text.”  In NAP, it’s called the “Magical Mentor,” but even the old grimoires have them (Clauneck or Scirlin in the Grimorium Verum, etc.).  Have this spirit teach you how to evoke a spirit from a more complex text.  For example, if you were working with the Magical Mentor, you might have it teach you how to call the demon, Marbuel from The Black Raven. The Raven is a relatively simple grimoire but harder than the modern texts and challenging for beginners because the method it offers takes a lot of knowledge for granted in the operator. Many books of magic are like that. Marbuel will then teach you more.  Do this multiple times as a way to magically deepen your knowledge and power.  It can be quite exciting to learn this way.

2. Get McGrath’s Practical Magickal Evocation. It’s a tiny book put out by Finbarr and can be found everywhere. One of the spirits given there is Maseriel, the tutelary demon of the book. He has “60 servants.” Each of these will teach you one valuable thing about philosophy, magic, or necromancy. But the trick is that you have to ask for this directly and you will have to do the evocation of Maseriel multiple times (which is his payment—you will discover). Write the 60 things (some long, some very short and obvious but still useful—and all personal to you) down in your magical journal. Those things (lessons) will continue to unfold in your life as teaching tools for a very long time. After these evocations, call Maseriel again and ask him for an improved method of working with another grimoire. I suggest you choose something just out of reach in terms of your skill level. If you are a relative beginner, you might want to choose The Grimoire of Honorius or Liber Armadel.**

3. Harder: get an utterly egregoric grimoire (i.e. one that is made up by some fake occultist but that takes on its own reality through use ***) like Evoking Eternity or The Devil’s Grimoire or The Gates of Dozak or The 13 Gates of the Necronomicon. It’s a good beginning-to-intermediate test to see if you can make those work, because they can, but more of the burden is on you to achieve subjective synthesis (i.e. suspended disbelief ****) and then push energy into those containers. Have one of the aforementioned spirits (or, if you prefer, one of the Shem angels from GoM’s 72 Angels of Magick) teach you how.

This is one of the classical ways a grimoire magician / necromancer would work—getting the spirits to teach the mysteries directly. It still can work that way. And you will find that your magic is a lot stronger when you have a spiritual teacher providing you with personalized instruction.  It certainly isn’t boring.

* You don’t need to be fluent in Vulgar Latin, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, Arabic, or any of the other grimoire languages (to say nothing of Enochian) if you have an English translation. However, by looking up key words, you will develop a deeper grimoire literacy, which will make you a better magician when spirits speak in those terms. You will also have the good insights that come from learning a new language in that context. A grimoire is a world in itself and a unique perspective on the world. It is not surprising that a language is that, too.

** Not to be confused with The Arbatel of Magic, which I consider to be a more dangerous grimoire with multiple blinds that need to be taken into account on multiple levels. Leave this one aside for a while.

*** Ultimately, this describes all grimoires, but some are more obviously egregoric than others.

**** This is a term coined by the late, controversial Dr. Lisiewski. The following is his definition from Ceremonial Magic & The Power of Evocation: “Axiom 3—A state of Subjective Synthesis is produced through the conscious study, understanding, comprehension, and acceptance of the theory of all elements that compose a given magical act. As a result of this synthesis, an integrated belief system is taken up in the Practitioner’s subconscious mind. This allows the individual to perform the magic and obtain the results desired from the magical act. Argument 3—I define this state of subjective synthesis as a mental process which leads to an integrated belief system. In this case, it is the Practitioner’s belief system in the power of magic and in how the magic works. This belief system is held in the part of the mind below the level of conscious perception, known as the subconscious (or unconscious) mind. These ordered set of beliefs are then used by the subconscious (or unconscious) mind during the magical act.” I take issue with Dr. Lisiewski’s “grimoire fundamentalist” approach, but this idea is very useful, imo. 

Perspiration vs. Inspiration in Learning Magic

These ideas arose as part of a discussion on Studio Arcanis regarding the question, “What is more important—the result or the ritual itself?”  As in many of our discussions, the conversation brought up the problem of whether magical technique or raw magical ability are more important and how to tell.  Today’s magical comment is taken from one of my responses to that.

We can’t know in any reliable way where the line between technique and talent lies in anyone. You can train people in a technique, but you can’t train people to be gifted. Some people are better technicians. Others are immensely gifted. Some people who are immensely gifted work on technique to become truly amazing well-rounded practitioners. Others, not having been born with much, do the “90% perspiration / 10% inspiration” rule of success and develop what they can—another way to be great.

I’ve taught magic to people and sometimes I get an idea of how an individual is balanced between technique / gift just by seeing what they do with my suggestions. The gifted person just has to hear you suggest a thing and her mind is already working on it. Sometimes I don’t even need to suggest it! I just say, “What are we working on now?” and that person will lay out an intense range of experience and progress for me. 

For example, I might suggest that she start to develop her knowledge of a spirit through lucid dreaming (“aka “Dreaming True”). When she talks to me next, she’ll have successfully done it and surpassed that lesson. She’ll be on to something new, challenging me to catch up to her. By contrast, the good technical student may have to work hard at developing the lucid dreaming capacity because she’s not a natural, but she’ll “lock on” to the assignment and scrupulously document all of her efforts, giving me a kind of journal / timeline at the end that shows all the adjustments she made in order to complete the work. Both ways are legitimate and powerful.

These are stereotypes, but my point is simple: it’s not just grimoires; it’s not any particular way forward; it’s how people do the best with what they’ve got that makes them competent magical workers. It’s hard for us (and impossible for non-magical teachers) to see someone’s true potential. But you can get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses over time. 

2 Ways to Quickly Learn Basic Tarot Reading

My readings are worth it for 3 reasons: (1) I do long 19+ card layouts; (2) I produce long highly-detailed PDFs of customized interpretations unique to the client; and (3) I’m really, really good and can achieve a high degree of accuracy / specificity.  I’m also humble—just not necessarily with something I’ve been doing for over 3 decades and know a lot about.

Still, you don’t need to pay very much to get a decent basic reading.  I’ve seen people on tumblr doing what look like competent readings for as little as $1 USD.  I’ve also seen a lot of foolishness, as you might expect.

I suppose the cheapest and quickest way to get a reading is to download a free tarot app for your phone.  Those work, too.  The problem there is that you still have to interpret the answers and the stock interpretations that come with such programs have no way of customizing to your question / issue.  So your reading will always be of limited use unless you actually learn how to read.  There’s no getting around needing to have the knowledge.  

The genius of a good divination is that it speaks directly to what you need to know.  The catch is that you have to be able to understand the oracle’s particular language.  When you’re doing cartomancy with a tarot deck, you have a set number of expressions, usually around 78, comprising the greater arcana (usually picture cards from 0-The Fool through 21-The World) and the lesser arcana (usually four elemental suits of 14 cards each).  

Some decks have more cards, some fewer.  For example, when I do playing card readings, which I really enjoy, I’m only using the standard 52.  But I can do things with playing cards that are impossible with the tarot.  It’s the same with Lenormand decks that have about 36 cards.  Oracle decks vary.

Here, I’m only going to talk about the so-called “Standard” Rider-Waite-Smith style deck and how to read it.  Practice both of these quick methods for yourself before you decide to go pro.  Even though these are easy, they still take a little bit of work.

The first method is the simplest.  Get a RW-style deck, one that has graphic pictures on every card (as opposed to the older European decks that only have pictures on the major arcana and / or the court cards).  Determine a question to be answered and draw seven cards in a row.  Look at them from left to right.  Then ask yourself, “If this were the answer to the question, what story would these images be telling?”  In other words, look at the 7 cards as a story in pictures and try to say what that story is.

Now I hear you asking, “What about the right interpretations?  What if I get something wrong?”  Honeypie, I’m here to tell you that after you read a book on the history of cartomancy, your eyes will be opened.  There are so many different meanings attributed to the same images that worrying about getting it wrong is A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.  The cards are there to focus your intuition.  Your intuition is what interprets them.

So why are there little books of card meanings that come with each deck?  Over time, certain styles of interpretation and meanings were written down and became considered authoritative.  Arthur Edward Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot, for instance, is one of the first books people read.  Paul Foster Case wrote a good one on the major arcana, entitled The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, mostly as a way to teach people how to use his BOTA deck for spiritual advancement.  Aleister Crowely wrote about his Thoth deck, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris and modern tarot writers like Stuart Kaplan, Rachel Pollack, and Marcus Katz have done much to advance public knowledge and insight about tarot.  But none of this matters for giving a good reading.  What matters is your ability to feel out the right story—the story that needs to come through the pictures.

So try my first totally intuitive method until you feel very fluent with giving 7-card answers that just come to you when you look at them.  Then move on to the more structural shortcut, which is my second suggestion.

This approach is still relatively easy, but it requires a little memorization, which makes it harder than the 100% intuitive method.  Here you memorize a one-word meaning for each of the 22 major arcana—i.e. The Fool is innocence, The Magician is creativity, The High Priestess is wisdom, etc.  Make a list of these one-word meanings and go over it until you’ve got it down without having to look.  Then remember that the lesser arcana are elemental suits.  Wands are fire. Swords are air. Cups are water.  Pentacles are earth.  That’s all you need to know.  Let’s say you decided that 9-The Hermit means “isolation.”  And you draw the 9 of Swords.  You know, when you look at the figure sitting up distraught in bed that she thinks she is abandoned and isolated.  You have “thinking” (air) and “isolation” (9, Hermit).  Get the idea?  Every one of the lesser arcana can be read elementally this way through its corresponding major arcana number.  

When it comes to the court cards, these are elemental as well.  Pages are air.  Knights are fire.  Queens are water.  And Kings are earth.  You’ll find varying elemental attributions for these as well, but I think this set is the most logical, given the way most people read each member of the court.  Incidentally, this takes all the guesswork out of interpreting them—usually the most difficult cards for beginners to learn.  Test yourself: using this method, how do you interpret the Knight of Cups?  If you start out by thinking “fire of water,” you’re on the right track.

Using these two methods, you will eventually know so much about each of the cards in a standard deck that you’ll become very confident.  Then you can do what I did (and what I hope you haven’t already done) when I was just starting out and memorize all the supposed “traditional” meanings from something like The Pictorial Key.  At least, when you start feeling like your readings are getting strong and accurate, compare your meanings to the existing ones and see where you agree and where your interpretations are unique.  You will learn new things about the cards that way.

Studying tarot is a lifelong practice.  My methods make giving beginning readings easy.  Getting confident with them will put you in a place where you can really begin to study more complex symbol and color systems insinuated into many decks.  As with anything complicated in the aggregate, the tarot is made up of many simple little things.  Learn the basics first and you will be an amazing reader before you know it.