What If?

This may date me a bit, but do you remember those “What If?” comic books?

“What if Superman was evil?” “What if the Fantastic Four were cavemen?” “What if Dr.Doom was a particularly vicious poodle?”

There’s too much of that thinking in magical theory, and has been for quite a while.


The Age of Black Magic: Step Seven

The Magic Bullet (Variant)

Take (at a minimum) four rifle cartridges and anoint them away from you from base to tip with a destructive Hoodoo oil, such as Destruction Oil, Devil Oil, Damnation Oil etc.

Take a similar number of powerful neodymium magnets and anoint them with Inflammatory Confusion Oil. Baptize the magnets and give them names– but names in a set, like Larry, Curly, Moe and Shemp.

Take your framed relic image (assuming that is what you have available) and place the four bullets at the top, bottom, right and left extremes. Orient them so that they appear to be shooting in a counterclockwise direction– a circular firing squad is the metaphor we are going for here.

Then take the magnets and place them on the back/bottom of the frame, pinning the bullets in place with the cardboard, picture, and glass in between bullet and magnet.

Call upon your divinities or spirits to grant you your requests, or write a petition paper and place it below or within the picture frame.

Feed the magnets by sprinkling iron filings mixed with gunpowder onto the bullets, and similarly make offerings of raw pork mixed with red pepper or goofer dust on the eyes and face of your target.

Store this in a remote location, because the pork will spoil.

If one has space, ring the project with sprinkled gunpowder or goofer dust.

The goal with the Magic Bullet variant is not to kill but to cause the subject to become paranoid and disturbed in mind, overwhelmed by fear, and to sow chaos and infighting among that person’s inner circle.

Of course this can be modified to do far worse things, but our aim here is to neutralize rather than kill.

This method can be modified for different types of relics on altar spaces, or increased in power using talismans and elections and many other options. The limit is only your imagination.

Have fun with this one.

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.

That Sigil-Making App

That sigil-making app going around? Did it occur to anyone that the labor involved in creating said sigil was the fuel for the ritual? And that said labor is fairly modest? Sheesh.

Programs which calculate planetary hours and assorted astrological things are reasonable, but this is not. Why not replace the magician entirely and have robot wizards making plastic magic?

Magic Versus Creativity

Highly creative persons are no more magicians than they can levitate or raise the dead at will. Occasionally there will be overlap; a practitioner of magic will also be a highly creative professional in another unrelated realm. This is the exception rather than the rule.

Yet when you think about it, is it really a big asset for a self-proclaimed wizard to be talented at making shit up with ease? It might actually be a strong negative, like a “creative and whimsical” brain surgeon. It helps arm those who claim magic is deceit, or the product of an overactive imagination.

I blame Walt Disney, who helped popularize the notion that magic and the imagination were the same thing. There is too much conflation, and too much redefinition; and it is making clean research difficult. Magic is not a metaphor for something else. It is what it always has been; the mortal production of marvels by spiritual means.

Comparing Magical Systems…

Hoodoo and related folk magics are good for fast results.

Talismanic magic is good for strong, enduring results.

Wiccan magic is good for seeing what people look like naked, whether you want to or not.

Thelemic magic is good for coming off as a hipster pseudo-intellectual.

Chaos magic is good for coming across as creepy and vaguely insane.

This delphic wisdom has been brought to you by one of the longest weeks in memory.