The Vast Power Within You Is Mostly Crap

I usually start my astrological lectures with a version of “everything you know about astrology is wrong.” That also applies to magic to some extent, especially magic which uses astrology as a key mechanism.

My friend John Michael Greer says that Eliphas Levi revolutionized magic by distilling it down to two principles; Will and imagination, together bending the universe into submission.

The problem with this is that he almost completely pulled this out of his ass. Levi was much more of a theorist than a practitioner, and there’s no proof (or even earnest claim) that he performed more than four spells/rituals/incantations in his entire life.

That’s not to bash him. He was a genius. But he invented what I call Victorian Magic, which is what most of you practice today. Its main tools are gestures, visualization, and sonorous gibberish.

In spite of its relative newness, it does some really cool stuff and I use some of it every day. But it’s not what the ancients called magic.

It may be what the ancients added to magic to help it work a little better, like MSG in take out Chinese food.

There’s a thing in Agrippa (if I am not mistaken) which says that magic is helped and hindered by the mindset of the magician. That downgrades the role of the magician’s internal states enormously.

In Scholastic Image Magic, magic does not come from within.

Did you ever see that movie Willow? With the little person actor discovering (spoilers) that the finger which was most magical was his own? And it was a great revelation?

Well, Scholastic Image Magic is the total opposite of that. It’s a great big fuck-you to the notion of magic promoted by DisneyCorp, as a metaphor for imagination and wishing. Because imagination and wishing can only get you so far. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

Scholastic Image Magic operates on a very basic truism. Humans are pretty damn weak sauce. We are unique in the hierarchy of spirits in that we inhabit ambulatory matter, but that kind of makes us freaks. Though there are some big footnotes and exceptions here, even the greatest of magicians is still basically just a weird monkey with a knack for deforestation. In the hierarchy of living things, we’re somewhere in between God and e.coli– and probably a lot closer to the latter.

The universe is full of power. People are mostly full of seawater.

In order for us to overcome our incredibly limited nature we need to obtain help from outside ourselves. Even moreso, help from beings higher on the cosmic ladder than us. Help from our peers won’t allow us to go beyond our limitations in any meaningful way, because they share our weaknesses. Beings beneath us may occasionally come in handy, but there’s a risk of getting dragged down. (Please immediately refer to Aesop’s Fable about the scorpion and the frog, and apply this to all instances of demonic evocation.)

Nevertheless, using metaphysical semaphores (which is what I jokingly refer to the LVX gestures of the Golden Dawn) or the pentagram rituals, or the hexagram rituals, the intonation and vibration of YHVH or M.I.C.K.E.Y M.O.U.S.E. or whatever, is at best a bit of flourish and filigree in Scholastic Image Magic and astrological petitions.

You’re welcome to do it, but if you’re like me you’ll recognize it’s a waste of effort and discard it in favor of the many many other things you should be focusing on when creating talismans, making petitions, or even electing.

Scholastic Image Magic is much more physical than Victorian Magic. Words are important in petitions, inscriptions, statements of intent; but it’s even theoretically possible to have entirely mute rituals, and have talismans created by some sort of machine and remove the human element almost entirely from the system.

(It probably impairs a talisman to create one silently or without any visualized intent, but it still would be a real talisman and it would definitely work. Considering that elections are often at 4am, I’ve definitely made quite a few talismans on autopilot that worked very well.)

The fact that astrological talismans by way of SIM are so material by emphasis is an advantage. Because it appears to be connected to the fact that when you need to use one, it doesn’t care whether you’re asleep or in a state of panic or unaware of the movements of the stock market; it’s always looking out for you, calmly doing its job.

Getting you out of the equation is sometimes the best thing. You are not such hot shit.

After all, you’re a weird monkey living on a speck of dirt in a very big universe. In order to get superpowers, you’re going to have to do things which are very un-monkey-like.

A monkey can gesture wildly and hoot. Calculating time, using symbols, making tools, and asking for help from more advanced beings is beyond the scope of lesser lifeforms.

This is how you become a magician. This is how you get real superpowers.

(At least, in Scholastic Image Magic.)

SIM Is Counterintuitive!

Scholastic Image Magic is counterintuitive for beginners.

You cannot follow your wishes and heart, and also reach any level of competence at it.

The process of mastering electional astrology alone requires the employment of rote formulations hundreds and thousands of times until one begins to see hidden patterns, and correlations between stellar cause and terrestrial effect.

You may or may not need a teacher or mentor, but chances are you do because the amount of material you need to internalize is both vast and superficially contradictory. (There are even potion recipes in Picatrix which are designed to fatally poison the smart-ass student.)

In addition to memorizing and internalizing astrological texts, it is required for the student to be deeply immersed in the culture and literary canon of antiquity, the medieval era and that of the Renaissance. And that’s before you get to any of the magic.

Magic was understood to be highest of sciences, and incorporated all other knowledges. Which also means you’re probably going to read countless passages which go right over your head until you’ve done your preparatory work.

Not only do these authors make important references to texts and concepts that were ubiquitous then but not for centuries after, but the basic worldview of a SIM adept is quite alien to the modern mindset. Without comprehending these things, SIM will seem to be gibberish.

Scholastic Image Magic is a demanding discipline to pursue. I personally think it takes about twelve years of concentrated study to master, and that’s assuming the person in question has a great understanding of history and classics to start with.

Some of the questions and comments I have been getting suggest perhaps that many new people here don’t have the basic knowledge base to begin studies. I can’t do anything about that.

Maybe I’ve misinterpreted, but some of you may be shocked that SIM won’t allow you to shoot fireballs and you can’t make it work with astrology more recent than about 1750ad. Visualization and intuition have relatively minor roles in SIM compared to other metaphysical disciplines and forms of magic.

John Michael Greer describes the Picatrix and the SIM within as “medieval rocket science.” Part of the appeal of this method of magic is that it is a great filter against lazy people, and people without intellectual heft. Not only is it extraordinarily powerful, but if you achieve mastery it is a great personal achievement.

The author of Picatrix (and Agrippa too) made it difficult to understand many concepts. On top of all the other necessary learning. They did this to both create a filter against people whom they felt were unsuitable for the mastery of magic, but also to cultivate the sort of personality they felt was the ideal representative and heir to the mysteries within.

The obscurity was not designed to test the student’s intuitive faculties. It was designed to test their intellectual faculties. You had to figure the damn thing out, like Sherlock Holmes not like Deepak Chopra.

I try to make this easier for you. That’s because these and many other authors never really guessed that so many centuries later we’d have to not only master astrology and magic and ancient philosophy, but rebuild much of the canon and worldview which made it relevant.

I myself have far to go, though I have made great strides. Please try to recognize there is a path and begin walking down it. Wandering aimlessly based on whims and bad notions from fiction and games and other systems will never get you there; not even close.