Grimoire Insecurity: the Gift That Keeps on Giving

It’s lovely seeing posts from people who discovered Goetia last week and who have now, in their great experience and wisdom, embraced a grimoire purist attitude because anything else would be “ineffective” or “dangerous” or (gasp) “all in my head.” It’s equally wonderful to read smug responses to that from the opposite extreme: “I do it all in my astral temple, bro. I’m beyond tools and rules.” 

It seems to me that both of these extremes are similar and originate in insecurity. The first guy is terrified that he’s going to make a mistake. Maybe an even deeper underlying fear is that none of it is real and he’ll never know if he’s deluding himself unless he follows a strict rule set, which is the closest he believes he can come to an objective success-failure standard. 

The second guy is also afraid he’s going to make a mistake, but he believes following the grimoire purist approach is only for rich people with degrees in metallurgy and their own towers. Since he, like most people, got into magic because he wants things he doesn’t have (especially that tower), he circumvents his horrific doubts by making everything take place in his imagination.

There are many subtle gradations between these extremes, but stick around on magical forums (and on some of the ceremonial magic groups on FB) and you’ll notice the grimoire insecurity before long. It’s how Dr. Lisiewski and Steve Savedow marketed their Goetia methods. They sold a lot of books by exploiting the purist urge with horror stories from their own UPG (Savedow, in particular, reads like Book of Revelations fan fiction). There are also a bunch of Llewellyn and Weiser joksters who put books out in the other direction, some including a “Cicero method of magical tool creation,” but tending seriously towards the all-in-the-head approach.

I’m writing this not to say that purist approach or the all-in-the-head approach can’t work. What works for you may not work for someone else and there are some excellent purists who have a great, beautiful, grimoire practice. The opposite is probably also true, though harder to convincingly document because it’s so subjective (cf. “transvocation”).

But the insecurity, the angst, the defensiveness, the uncertainty is always easy to spot and that is what I’m inveighing against. It is often harder to keep an open mind, to say “maybe,” than it is to get red-faced and loud about your pet method of reassuring yourself that magic isn’t a waste of time.


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!