Spellbound: Love Magic Through the Ages

Spellbound: Love Magic Through the Ages @ ConVocation 2018


Love magic is arguably the most universally practiced form of practical magic. Different spiritual traditions approach love magic differently and reveal their worldview through the way they bring two (or more) people together.

It’s often said that all magic is love magic; that cosmic eros is the sacred principle which orders all reality. But taking the abstract and putting it into practice is often tricky, and ultimately none of that matters without results.

In this lecture we will survey the different goals and methods used in several traditions of magic and highlight those which have a reputation for strong results.

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The Divine and Demonic Absurdity of Names

The divine and demonic absurdity of names.

This was a topic raised elsewhere, but I want to highlight it here while also avoiding getting into anything which could be construed as personal with people I respect.

Astaroth and Astarte are completely different beings.

It is historically correct that the name Astaroth (a male, aggressive demon) was probably derived from Astarte (a female, seductive goddess.) This was also obviously done to defame Astarte and eliminate competition. That does not mean that under the mask of a nasty, aggressive soul-eating monster there is a friendly sex goddess waiting to be your nekkid playmate on the astral plane.

Perhaps your experiences diverge from mine, but with respect I think you’re being conned. Demons are dishonest bastards. They invented lying. After a few trillion years of practice, they’re quite good at it too.

I think it’s entirely likely that an ancient nameless parasitic entity took the opportunity of the name variance to absorb offerings given to Astarte to set itself up as the demon Astaroth. Sometimes you try to order Dominos over the phone and get one digit off by one and end up talking to a strange guy in a Utah call center. People also sometimes acquire calls from the prior owner’s pals when they get a new phone number.

A name is sometimes just a name, just like your phone number is usually an arbitrary number. My old phone number used to spell out (201) TED-BUNG. I am not Ted. I am not Ted Bung. Nor do I know anyone named this. This is arbitrary information.

Now, this whole Astorath = Astarte thing begins to fall apart pretty rapidly under inspection. And that’s what I want to talk about.

Firstly, it wasn’t just ancient gods being turned into demons as a means of Christian defamation of pagan religions. Many ancient gods were turned into saints and angels. Hermes was an angelos ton theon, a messenger of the gods. Ficino and the Renaissance Neoplatonists thought all of the benevolent pagan gods were probably archangels who had been misunderstood, but they didn’t come up with that idea themselves. Brigid became Saint Brigit; you know that drill. This shatters the notion that there was a concerted effort to demonize all pagan gods. Pagan gods of noble virtues who made sense as angels were cast as angels or the holy dead, and the gods who demanded human sacrifice and orgiastic behavior were the ones who were thought to have led mankind astray and thus were demons.

However, it wasn’t just the Christians doing this. The pagan polytheists attempted to redefine foreign gods as beings in their own local pantheons. And some of this was just bonkers.

The Romans identified Venus with the Greek Aphrodite, but virtually anyone who has studied the Classics knows that there were huge differences between the two goddesses. There were also numerous local versions of both goddesses with pretty variable attributes. We all know by now that Zeus had many epithets but these were often understood to be distinctive beings. Venus was also associated with the goddess Ishtar and she with Inanna, but while the latter two were thought to be the planetary Venus the Romans only transferred the name Venus to signify the planet but didn’t believe the planet was the actual goddess. A name for Venus was Lucifer, and yes some early Christians thought the connection wasn’t accidental either.

It gets crazier.

Osiris was identified with Dionysius. Both were identified with Jesus by Hellenistic pagans. That may have been wishful thinking. It should be obvious that a castrated god of vegetation, a feral god of drunken underworld antics, and a magic Rabbi who got executed have precious little in common. Yet many believed they did.

This one isn’t discussed a lot; the pretty boy god Adonis and the Hebrew Adonai are the same guy if you go back far enough. But the Jewish version doesn’t even have an appearance at all, doesn’t get killed by a giant pig (though that might explain why I’m not supposed to eat bacon), and isn’t in a polyamorous relationship with Aphrodite and Persephone– though He’d probably win points with me if He did. Can we switch back? Never mind.

Here’s another one. The Egyptian god Aten– the semi-monotheistic Sun god that Akhenaten was so into– was identified in the ancient world as Athena, wisdom goddess and patroness of Athens. And Aten was probably Jehovah, or the inspiration for Him. So Jehovah is Athena. So, owls.

I may be hurting you. I’m sorry. Not enough lube?

Alexander’s parentage opens the door to another wacky conflation. He claimed to be the son of Amun, the Egyptian Sun god. One of them, anyway. (They had a lot of Sun gods, didn’t they?) In Greece that became Zeus instead, though in the form of a snake banging his mom. Because Zeus was the original furry. He deserves credit for that. And then Amun later became a demon Amon. Who is also evoked in Amen, in prayers.

Do you need a hug? I won’t turn into anything weird, I promise.

My point is actually very simple. Don’t trust these identifications. Don’t trust these appropriations. They were all done for political reasons and the names we use to call up a spirit, god, demon or whatever depend enormously on context. None of that shit is unique like DNA.

Because if you’re going to be stupid about this, it means every time you say “Amen” you’re giving a shout-out to a demon.

That is absurd. Use your brain.

The spiritual universe is almost certainly full of beings of immense power. It behoves you to figure out who you are actually talking to, but also whether they’re your awesome super pal, a nut, a sneaky brain-eater, or just a cosmic heroin pusher. The books of history, mythology and theology will only get you so far.

SIM Petitions

When you make a petition, it mimics the medieval feudal practices of approaching a prince and begging a boon in exchange for fealty and a service. It’s quite clear from the structure of the petition incantations that this is what’s going on.

That would be vaguely like being dubbed a knight in the court of a king. You would be given a degree of power, and in exchange be required to look after your liege’s interests and be at the ready for his call to war.

Since the planetary hierarchies (you may now wish to think of them as medieval courts of seven kingdoms) don’t actually wage war with each other per se, by doing a petition you are taking on the responsibility of promoting your liege’s interests and defending their honor. 

So, how does one do that with the Royal Court of Venus? By dressing in silk and sexy clothes, being flirtatious, having lots of sex, singing songs, and eating sweets. And also encouraging this with others.

Not exactly a hard job, if you ask me. But since that’s the sort of thing you’re asking the Ruler of the Kingdom of Venus for in the first place, there’s almost no line at all between having your boon granted and doing your service for your liege.

You expand your leige’s domain thereby. You carry his or her banner and sometimes literally wear their signet ring. You become their willing representative and embodiment in the Sublunar Realm. You become living proof of your patron’s power and authority. That’s what they get out of it. Influence and respect.

This also makes sense in terms of energy and mathematics. If one chooses to think of astrological powers as rays and flows of energy, we know (as the ancients did) that light and sound vibrate according to distinct mathematical frequencies.

Furthermore, they knew that the seven planets and their movements had distinctive mathematical relationships to notes on a musical scale; from which we get the notion of the Music of the Spheres.

By performing a petition, you are attempting to get your muffled inertia-burdened vibratory frequencies to harmonize better with those of that planetary frequency.

By doing this, you become a better conduit of that tone, or ray of astral light. Or spirit hierarchy, as I prefer to think of it.

(Where this model has a limitation slightly, is that one can do this with several frequencies in alternation rather than just one inflexibly.)

It’s sometimes hard to adapt to the notion that spirits might also be energies etc. But this is a very old idea. Pythagoras felt that numbers and ratios were gods, or beings that the gods themselves served.

In the realm of optics, Al Kindi felt that spirits were all rays; made of different kinds of energy, and vibrating at different mathematical frequencies. The interactions of these vibrations were what created Time in the first place.

It all connects together.

Restoring the Old Literary Canon for Magic

In order for us to understand the medieval and renaissance mindset, we have to understand what they were reading.

Trying to rebuild the assumptions and cultural context of the authors of books of magic is essential, and thus becoming well versed in the literary and scientific canon of those eras is helpful and perhaps mandatory.

At the very least, it is deeply beautiful and enriching.