Codex Whatever: Dark Fluff Occult Books and Personal Insignificance

The fact that there is a “dark fluff” genre of occult writing doesn’t surprise me.  Anyone who starts to look for meaning outside established channels of consensus culture encounters poorly written, poorly sourced occultnik marketing before long (sometimes immediately).  And it has forced most of us to carry on a lifelong search for better materials, more authoritative texts, and generally better sources—which does not automatically mean they must be more scholarly or academic. 

Rather, we tend to prize books that are responsibly and sincerely written according to the tradition in question.  This often means the author has done research to the best of his or her ability and access, but it could simply mean that the anecdotal parts of an occult text are framed as such and the speculation is carefully identified.

The quest for quality occult writing is particularly important to educated ceremonial magicians who care about the provenance and history of their grimoires and of the magical discourse still very much alive and well all over the world.  Like most of my articulate, reasonably sane, magically active associates, I am constantly seeking out new books.  It’s a side of the magical life I particularly enjoy—the research side, which has a magic all its own.

Two great examples of non-scholarly yet well-written and responsible occult texts might be THEE PSYCHICK BIBLE: Thee Apocryphal Scriptures ov Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Thee Third Mind ov Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic: The Transformative Power of Shamanic Psychotherapy.  These two come immediately to mind because they are very explicit about what is unverified gnosis (UPG) and technique.  They set up a teaching dichotomy between anecdote and praxis to empower the reader in her own pursuits—not simply to aggrandize the experiences of the authors.

Unfortunately, for every Joseph Peterson, Jake Stratton-Kent, Jose Leitao, Peter Carroll, Ramsey Dukes, Daniel Harms, and Peter Mark Adams, there are a hundred pretenders, who seem to be writing occult literature simply because it amuses them or makes them feel special.  No one ever got rich off occult publishing.  So the question I’ve asked for years is: why pedal worthless or pirated or wholly fantastical occult books?  Why would someone take the time and effort to claim that they have an insight or that they are the inheritor of a tradition that either does not exist or that they have never encountered outside their own imaginations?

I still don’t have a good answer to this.  The best I can do is come to the sad conclusion that some people need to feel special and wise.  In terms of cynical e-commerce, I can understand groups or individuals trying to interest potential followers by self-publishing low-cost occult books that promote their spiritual systems.  That’s just another form of easily identifiable marketing.  But just as there was a massive surge in poorly written mass-market Wiccan / neopagan texts in the 1980s and early 1990s, there now seems to be a horrendous glut of “dark fluff” grimoires, especially self-published through Createspace and Lulu. 

Last year’s dark grimoires of ultimate power.

So what is “dark fluff”? 

As a sorcerer for hire and a long-time member of the Studio Arcanis community of advanced practitioners, I often get public and private questions that go like this: I just bought Codex Diabolicus Maximus by Mordred Darktoe and I want to use it to destroy my ex’s life.  Does it work?  There is so much wrong with such a question (even in more subtle incarnations like: I’m wondering what your experiences with Darktoe’s works have been . . . ).  It’s one step removed from “spell begging” (where a person who has not done his or her homework asks a more experienced practitioner for a freebie) and it doesn’t reflect well on the questioner regardless of whether or not destroying someone’s life happens to be right or wrong.

As a conjure worker, I’m no stranger to people revealing that their innermost desire is to seek small-minded revenge on someone for some perceived wrong.  Usually, the preferred punishment is far out of proportion to the crime, having to do with a breakup, an undeserved promotion, an insult, or even someone not paying enough attention.  People (maybe most people) feel powerless and insignificant in their lives.  And if they have some kind of latent magical sensitivity but not a lot of confidence, they will seek out a conjure worker to help them get emotional satisfaction on a cruel world.

I understand and I listen to such requests without passing moral judgment.  Part of my job is to bring the client’s motivations and feelings into the light of truth where we can intelligently face them together.  Only then can we fix the situation.  This is the unpublicized part of being a spiritual worker in one’s community (even if that community is online). 

But sometimes the person has so much resentment, feels so belittled by the world, that she wants the power to subjugate everyone and everything: more money, more sex, more power, more revenge, more dominance.  This person has such a wounded ego, feels so wronged by life that she’ll never get enough.  When this happens, she doesn’t come to a sorcerer for work.  She wants to be the sorcerer.  And she falls prey to “dark fluff” occult marketing that seems to speak directly to her overblown desires.

In her lust for power, she’s blinded to the reality that 90% of the information in such texts is bullshit that comes from previously published, often lesser known, bullshit.  And therein lies the problem.  She’s receiving a cascade of dark-themed occultnik bullshit; she really wants it to be real; and she’s soon frustrated that she isn’t seeing results.  That’s usually when she comes slinking around to ask me or someone like me what I think of it because she’s worried that she missed a crucial step (or, gasp, that it is, in fact, utter BS).

Sure, everyone worries that all occult things are fake.  But this is not the sort of anxiety and doubt I’m writing about here.  I’m writing about predatory marketing that magnetizes and preys on the desperate emotions of people who have come to equate power with the ability to harm—because they feel powerless and harmed.  Certainly, I believe that paying back is a virtue and I am in no way against doing dark magic for justice and remediation.  There is a time to bless and a time to curse.  Knowing which is which is part of being a practitioner.  However, having a good BS detector is also essential. 

So how do you spot “dark fluff”?

The first thing I’m going to suggest is that you know yourself.  Self-honesty is very difficult.  Realizing that you feel small and injured and that you want revenge on a cruel world is a strong first step.  You don’t need to go to a spiritual advisor to have this degree of honesty but sometimes it helps.  An insightful stranger can often tell you hard truths that you can’t bare to admit to yourself.

The second thing would be to read widely.  This may mean that sometimes you will purchase occult books that turn out to be part of the BS cascade I mention above.  We all waste our money and time on a well-presented stinker now and then.  And the painful experience of realizing an author is offering you nothing of value is something we’ve all felt.  It’s an important feeling because it sharpens up your sense of what is and is not useful.

The third thing would be to look at the marketing around the book.  Does it talk about a secret tradition that you’ve never heard of, even in online forums?  Does it promise grandiose things, like becoming a living god, torturing your enemies to death, enslaving others, or calling up demons from fancifully named planes or dimensions that have no basis in historical occult literature?  Does it sound like (or even use language directly from) roleplaying games?  Does is present an overdone gothic aesthetic?  Does it seem like it was written in the tradition of “acausal Satanism” (i.e. The Order of the Nine Angles, a group whose vague Gnosticism has made room for many ill-conceived darkly fluffy occult groups and marketing schemes)?  Does it source the works or mythos of HP Lovecraft as if they were real without at least framing them as egregoric or chaos-magical constructions?  Does the author have a pen name out of bad fantasy fiction like “Severus Blackthorne” or something pseudo-Semitic like “Hassan ben Azazel”?  Does the work rely heavily (and usually indirectly, without documentation) on the works of Kenneth Grant, especially The Nightside of Eden, tossing around well-known names like Set, Belial, Samael, Lilith, Lucifer, and  Hekate?  Or, at the other extreme, completely made up “demons” that no one has ever heard of?  Not everything here will indicate “dark fluff” but as soon as you see it, your detector should start beeping.

                                           Not you.

The bottom line.

It’s good to seek power.  It’s good to take revenge when justice is due.  It’s good to pay back in like degree.  It’s also good to do magic, to seek out mysterious realities, states of mind, and uncover secrets.  Consensus culture (especially in the west) would have us believe that the only medium for having breakthroughs is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  But we know this isn’t the case.

When we truly realize that there is far more occult power in a Delta blues song about going down to the crossroads than in Baltar Venomblade’s Book of the Eternal Abyss, we know we’re making progress.  When we understand that marketing itself is a kind of mental magic that snares all of us from time to time, we can forgive our uninformed purchases of shit occult books and learn to find the good ones that will actually inspire, inform, and guide us further down the path of wisdom and capacity.

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Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche Mantra

Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche mantra – Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum.The Vajra Guru Mantra is the mantra associated with Guru Rinpoche, also known as Padmasambhava. This is a draft translation of a treasure text which explains the Vajra Guru Mantra. It was originally concealed during the time of Padmasambhava in Tibet and later rediscovered by Karma Lingpa (14th century) who brought it forth from its place of concealment and copied it down on reams of gold. It is simply known as “The Syllable by Syllable Commentary Explaining the Benefits of the Vajra Guru Mantra.” It begins with an invocation and then goes into a dialogue between Yeshe Tsogyal, the spiritual consort of Padmasambhava, and Padmasambhava himself. Buddhist music which originated from India, then Buddhist music in its infancy, along with the maturity of Buddhist culture, Buddhist music going the era of development and spread to other countries. Buddhist music is music created for or inspired by Buddhism and part of Buddhist art. Mật chú Kim Cang Thượng Sư là của Guru Rinpoche, còn được gọi là Padmasambhava (Liên Hoa Sanh). Câu mật chú này được dấu kỹ trong thời Liên Hoa Sanh ở Tây Tạng. Đến thế kỷ 14, được Karma Lingpa khám phá ra và chép lại trên vàng lá và được gọi là “giải thích từng lời của mật chú Kim Cang Thượng Sư, Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum.

(Source: Uploaded by afonya83 on Jun 17, 2011.  Dedicated to Guru Rinpoche (from Pema Wangdi Lama – Buddhist Incantations))

 

 

Propitiation Ritual of Saturn

This is a wonderful example of an experienced magician at work. I love the synthetic approach and the aesthetic. – S+A

The Digital Ambler

Many of my friends take note of particular astrological phenomena, whether they’re just for the “planetary weather” effects the stars have on our lives, or for their more in-depth and particular motions for elections and magical workings.  Mercury retrograde is probably the most common, especially to mock for its (perhaps overblown) infamy in pop culture, but there are many other motions people take note of.  One of which is Saturn’s transition into the sign of Capricorn, one of its two domiciles, where Saturn is particularly strong.  Saturn takes just under 2.5 years to transit through a sign of the Zodiac, so the last time Saturn was in Capricorn was around the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This is particularly important for people whose natal Saturn is in Capricorn, as it signals their Saturn return, a rough time in one’s life that was the literal astrological definition of “mid-life crisis”.  To…

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Working in the Graveyard, Part 1

Graveyard work is not for the faint of heart—more because people worry about getting caught than about dealing with the dead.  In this, I think they have it backwards.  You will not likely get arrested (though you may get thrown out and / or banned) for digging up a fistful or two of grave dirt.  But you might seriously piss off the shade of the person whose grave it is, the spiritual leader of the graveyard, and / or any number of death entities (gods, spirits, daemons, you name it).  So it’s important to follow a consistent respectful entry protocol and only work on certain days.  In this post, I will give my basic approach to graveyard work.  In a following post, I will talk about more advanced issues.

The first thing to do is determine why you want to work there in the first place.  It shouldn’t be because graveyard work feels “edgy” and you therefore hope it will be more powerful than comparable non-graveyard work.  That is plain stupid and reflects magical immaturity.  Whenever something in magic seems dark and spooky, take a step back and think critically about it.  Usually, you’re either suffering from clever marketing or your mind and your heart are out of balance.  A good magician knows how to be rational and irrational, how to think critically and intuitively at the same time.

Good reasons to do graveyard work might include feeling spiritually called to practice necromancy; feeling guided to such practices by patron deities, ancestors, or entities; practicing a form of magic in which graveyard work figures prominently as an aspect of the system (hoodoo, ATR magical-religions, some grimoires, styles of magic dedicated to particular entities); or needing to do a particular sort of magic that involves death, graveyard materials, or the act of burial / exhumation.

Assuming you have a good reason to undertake such work, the next step is determining what you need to do in the graveyard.  Are you creating a mirror box or a coffin spell?  Are you paying for some dirt?  Are you performing devotional service?  An old-school necromantic operation?  All of these will have different preparatory requirements.  Here, I’ll keep it simple and talk about paying for dirt because that is what I mostly do when I go.

In hoodoo, you buy graveyard dirt from particular spirits.  You can also buy it from the graveyard in general.  You would use this dirt as a magical ingredient to make things like goofer dust, mojo hands, sachet powders, as a way to draw sigils or veves (note that “veve” is a Voudu term that I use here only for convenience—hoodoo and Voudu are related in many ways but still distinctly different), or even make types of incense or magical condition oils.

When you get to the graveyard, you can just walk in but, in my tradition, this is rude.  Instead, you make an offering to your death entity (the highest you know) at the gate.  Mine usually consists of 9 pennies (or pence, if you’re in England) soaked in red wine.  If I’m spirit led to toss these inside while saying a small invocation of thanks, I will.  Otherwise, I’ll respectfully leave them in a stack by the gate.  Follow this practice long enough and you will notice a serious difference in the feeling you have when you walk in.

Once you’re inside, you need to find the right grave.  If you’re sensitive enough, you can be spirit led to it.  Otherwise, you will look for the grave of a spirit who would want to do the kind of work you need.  Soldiers, cops, statesmen, thieves, murderers, artists are all useful.  Even the spirits of innocent children who died young can be very powerful.  This means you will have to learn about the history of the region, who lived and died there over time.  That is another form of offering to the dead, who notice and appreciate that you have done your homework when you arrive asking for help.

When you find the right grave, you talk to the spirit and ask for its help.  Hopefully, the spirit is around.  Not all shades of the dead are connected to the place of their burial.  If you can “hear” them, you only have to listen and talk.  If you aren’t that sensitive (yet—this work tends to develop such capacities in a magical practitioner), you can use a pendulum for yes-no answers.  The point is to talk with the spirit, bargain for some of its dirt, and offer something in return.  Again, I like to offer 9 or 13 pennies.  Spirits can use the energy of real money in ways we don’t anticipate.  Pennies are far more valuable to them than to us.  Sometimes, it’s good to pour out some whiskey or rum as an offering, too.

Once you strike a bargain, you can take some dirt.  There are a lot of hoodoo / folktales about the part of the grave from where you should take the dirt but, in my experience, you should go with what feels right and with what’s convenient.  Dig up a few spoonfuls at most and put them in a container.  Then pay the spirit and respectfully go.  When you walk out of the graveyard, thank the controlling spirit / death entity for letting you safely do this work.

You’ll find that when you do this often at the same graveyard, the spirits will get to know you and will sometimes follow you home.  This is very good.  It’s the beginning of a strong necromantic practice.  You’ll also eventually have the experience of being rejected by a spirit (for whatever reason).  And you’ll come to realize that it’s not all just in your head.  But I leave those experiences to you to have.  The important thing here is to realize that this is strong serious work.  Graveyards are no joke, but they can be very helpful to us when we need them.

Nyarlathotep

“And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—of electricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.”

— from “Nyarlathotep” by H. P. Lovecraft

Everything is Worthless Except for My Own Occult System

Something I’ve been noticing lately in the various internet occult conversations I follow is a certain rigidity.  When someone says, “The Demiurge came down into my bedroom last night and told me how to immanentize the eschaton with DMT” or “I evoked Satan and discovered that Goofy is really Jesus Christ,” we roll our eyes.  Sure, maybe Goofy really is Jesus in that person’s subjective world, his Unverified Personal Gnosis, but that doesn’t make it so for anyone else.  Mistaking UPG for transcendent truth is easy to spot and it’s something magicians are particularly susceptible to when they walk the path of self-transformation.  One hopes they are mentally stable enough to avoid getting lost in a solipsistic world of their own creation.

However, sometimes it’s not as easy when the UPG is threaded into a whole spiritual system.  For example, you might be a member of a Golden Dawn-ish ceremonial lodge and that might really work for you.  Using the Golden Dawn techniques, as an individual on a daily basis and with your brethren, you have called down divine light, experienced higher states of being, worked with the Tree of Life, evoked spirits, balanced the elements, undergone initiation rituals, written articles about the tradition, attained the K&C of your HGA, and learned a lot about Western Esotericism in general and Victorian occult history in particular.  That is excellent and one very rewarding way up the mountain we sometimes call the Great Work.

But let’s say you have limited exposure to other spiritual perspectives and / or what you have learned about other systems has come through the stilted word of mouth of your lodge brothers, occult stereotypes, and irresponsibly researched occult books.  What then?  Then you might start shooting your mouth off about other people’s beliefs, saying, “Yeah, really there’s nothing to the Order of the Shut-Eye.  It was a con game established in 1953 by a disgruntled Mason named Dumblebore Wiggins as a money making scheme.  Everybody knows that.”  Meanwhile, members of the OSE are steadfastly doing the work in their tradition, making it work, and getting a lot out of it.  But because you’re so locked into one way of seeing things and believe you have found the TRUTH (i.e. you’re buying into UPG on an institutional level), you can’t allow yourself to accept that more than one perspective can be true simultaneously.

I know it’s a hard thing to deal with when your pet system—the one that has trained you and brought you into the light of its wisdom—says “Yes, my child, we are the keepers of the sacred flame.  AND ONLY WE HAVE ACCESS TO TRUE WISDOM” and yet the Dalai Lama seems to know a thing or three and some Satanist on the internet has been saying down-to-earth things that really do make sense and the members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary down at the Baptist Church do something suspiciously like hoodoo in their “candle service” and you can feel the power coming out of there on Sunday morning like ripples in the air.

When you notice such things, you have a choice.  You can vehemently deny their reality, saying that those practitioners are either deluded, stupid, charlatans, inept, or all of the above.  Or you can take a step past your institutional UPG into a broader universe.  It’s up to you.  Just don’t be surprised when you wind up spending most of your energy defending your personal gnosis at the expense of being able to learn what other perspectives could teach.

The Sigil of Orias

Orias_Sigil0001

The Fifty-ninth Spirit is Oriax, or Orias. He is a Great Marquis, and appeareth in the Form of a Lion, riding upon a Horse Mighty and Strong, with a Serpent’s Tail; and he holdeth in his Right Hand two Great Serpents hissing. His Office is to teach the Virtues of the Stars, and to know the Mansions of the Planets, and how to understand their Virtues. He also transformeth Men, and he giveth Dignities, Prelacies, and Confirmation thereof; also Favour with Friends and with Foes. He doth govern 30 Legions of Spirits.