Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A dream

Most of this isn't for public consumption (thus the locked post preceding this).  Sorry.

A had such a strange dream last night.  I slept very poorly (my neighbors have this new "security" light which shines directly into my bedroom window.)

The part I want to tell you about is the end.  I couldn't see very well, it was more a sense of where I ws, and sounds (not uncommon in my dreams).  I was stuck somehow, being held, in the space between the bed and the dresser, just in front of where I lay asleep (I don't remember if I could "see" myself in the bed next to me or not).  I very distinctly heard my roommate's voice (I'm sure he was asleep.  It was just around dawn) from right next to the bed (not even the direction of his room).  I'm sure it was his voice; I know what he sounds like.  He yelled in a  round booming Voice (he is typically very soft spoken) "Exspecto Boreas!" (watch out for the north wind!)  I awoke, heart racing.  Really, my heart was going soooooo fast, and I couldn't catch my breath.  I wasn't scared, really.  But I just couldn't calm my heart for a long time, and I had a distinct feeling of being watched, in a slightly creepy, but mostly protective way.  I could "feel" things talking about me over me.  Not in a malicious way, although not entirely supportive either.  Detached observation.  Almost clinical.  After about several minutes (my heart had started to calm, but was still thumping hard), my 1st gentle alarm when off.  It plays Elohai Neshema (a song of thanksgiving that the soul has returned, refreshed, to the body after its nightly journey to the Dreaming).

I think it was Expecto Boreas!  It was definitely Exepecto B.... but I was awake before I was told what to expect, so that was hard to hear.  It may have been Exspecto Benorian, but I don't think that's a word.  Or maybe Exspecto Ben Gurion (the first prime minister of Israel?), but that makes even less sense.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Omer 15: Compassionate Harmony

I'm sorry I haven't been writing.  This work has turned into a really weird, deeply personal thing for me; a real "dark night of the soul".  But, at the least, I think I'm starting to figure out some of what's going on.  I think Shavuot is going to be a big one.  What follows is quite disorganized.  I decided to leave it as the stream of consciousness it began as.  A couple of times, I put some notes in [brackets] when I really thought it wasn't clear without them, but mostly I just linked in stuff to clarify.  I'll try to find some time to write a "facting up" post tomorrow.


When I was first preparing for this work, just after my birthday, I had an email exchange with Reb. Zalman and I asked him why we count down. After all, I reasoned, we're moving TOWARD Sinai, so wouldn't you think we count up?  He said "Pessach is itaruta Daileda therefore the yotzey mitrayim just barely away from the 49 gates of defilement needed to be given grace."  Basically, "Passover is the root of birth and so those who came through the passage [out of Egypt]..."  I didn't understand what he meant, but I think I'm starting to.
Modern Judaism is, in almost every way, a reaction to the Holocaust.  The rise of "fringe" Judaism, both the sort of radical post-denominational, anti-rabbinic shit I do (or Reb Zalman does) and the radical fundamentalism of the haredi, both of these are about us trying to find our way as a people in the face of unimaginable horror.

Yesterday was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day).  As we do every year, we took the kids to the local Holocaust memorial, where they did some cleaning and planted some flowers.  Then some survivors spoke to them.  This year, the city park services happened to be there mowing and raking just hours before we got there, so there wasn't enough for the kids to do.  We had them take guided tours, and some of the people who work at the memorial spoke, to kill some time.  One of them asked an interesting question: WHY did Israel choose this date (Nissan 27) to commemorate the holocaust?  I kind of spaced out while she was answering (I think maybe it's the date Aushwitz was liberated or something?), because I thought to myself "Is it because on that day we count 13?  Is it because it's Yesod of Gevorah?  The Foundation of Force?"

The most pressing issue for Jews of my generation, and much more so for the kids I teach, is to decide what Judaism looks like without the Holocaust.  Not that we're just going to "get over it", but kind of, that's what I'm saying.  People my mother's age, and even the parents of the kids at school, are children of survivors.  Some literally, but even those who aren't seem to have grown up perpetually in its shadow.  What does Judaism look like when we're not under siege?  What does it look like when on the other side of the desert?

As I was saying, the overwhelming majority of Jewish theology in the second half of the 20th century was an exercise is apologetics; an analysis of the "problem of evil".  The desperate "How" of lamentations. [The Book of Lamentations is called "Eikhah", "How" in Hebrew, but actually, it's not like that.  That's just the first word..."How deserted are the streets....")  As a people, we'd just come out of the gates of defilement.  The rabbis ask the same questions about Egypt that they asked about Aushwitz.  How could G-d have let such a thing happen?  Why did He wait so long to bring us out?  What the ACTUAL FUCK?!?!

And so, that's what Reb Zalman referenced, when he talked about the 49 Gates of Defilement.  A pretty mainstream Jewish answer to "the question of evil" runs like this:  In order to create, Ein Soph needed some empty space to build in.  But, Ein Soph is all-pervasive, omnipresent, panentheistic.  And so, for the sake of creation, She tzimtzum'ed. She pulled herself all up into HaMakom, and in the tohu wa bohu left over, She imagined the World; Ennoia/Sophia/Chokmah, the Name is the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things.  And then, fiat lux!  She exploded out into Being, into YHVH.  But, the thing is, Chokmah broke in that explosion, the vessels broke, and that's why everything is all fucked up here. (but don't forget, that was the actual plan; divided for the sake of union. And so, that's the point of us; we need to gather up all the sparks, unify the name, redeem Ennoia with love.  But, those shards of defilement are spread all over creation, and so, every time, when we're ready, we plunge back into the filth and depredation (deprivation?) to fetch them back up again.  There are 50 gates of defilement, and every time we go as far as we dare, we descend to the point of no return, and then we rise back up again.  It's like pumping your brakes, or priming a pump.  Like a gravitational slingshot game of chicken with the Abyss.

The thing is, there's no way out but through, from Tipheret to Keter there's only one road, and it runs through the Abyss.  I've never understood, before, why it's called Da'at.  Why call that place of ultimate uncertainty Knowledge?  But, I think I get it now.  It's the place where you know, for absolute sure, that you're wrong, that God is an awful and terrible lie, that life is meaningless and devoid of reason.  He's just not there.  Maybe He was once, but She's certainly not anymore.  It's a pointless sham.

I lost the Priestess card in my tarot deck recently.  I have two Sun cards, but no Priestess.  How can that have happened?  I mean, I get how I lost one, but how can I have two Suns?!?  Fucking magic.  Perhaps, I think, that's the point.  The letter of the Priestess card is gimmel.  It means camel.  She carries you through the desert.  I've been avoiding her for a REALLY long time.

So, the point is, when we count the omer, we wander through the desert.  Afraid.  Alone.  We lose faith and worship idols.  We beg to turn back.  We labor to give birth, cursing the one who filled us with life.  We knowingly walk out of the Supernals, we give up Sophia, cast out in the desert, Beloved Ennoia hides her face, and we weep.  Pointlessness! Everything is pointless! says Solomon (the spokesman, the hierophant).  The sun comes up and it goes down, life is an eternal circle, it's not just that I'm not getting anywhere but that THERES NO WHERE TO GET. Streams run into the ocean, mist rises up the clouds, the clouds rain down to the land.  The universe is vast and the cosmos so slow that I am like nothing, my whole life a worthless blip on a radar screen no one is watching.  Work gets you nowhere, nothing makes a real difference.  I've studied so hard, learning this and that, cramming for a final exam that's never going to come.  Wisdom, even wisdom, my only true love, the Beloved, the One Mind, is a myth.  An empty story for fools and children.

I tried hedonism, but even that grew old so fast.  Even in the lap of luxury, my mind swirled around the void.  The rish-rushing river of narcotics, the honey of a woman, the salt of man, all of it is ashes in my mouth now.
Will money make me happy?  Will good works melt my heart?  Everything is pointless; death is the only certainty.  The cold slow heat-death of an ever expanding universe; what's been shattered can't be put back together.  The gods give us a vision of eternity. Why?  A cruel joke; a tantalizing glimpse of something we'll never have, a faint harmony ringing in the ears, always and forever too far to really make out.

Why work?  Why care?  Even skill and competancy are ultimately pointless.  Who will ever care?  In a thousand years?  In a million?  Everything fades away into nothingness, from ashes we return to ashes, a brief flame in a vast and cold expanse.

Pointless, says Solomon, the spokesman, the hierophant.  Everything is pointless.

I've lost my priestess, and I can't be a spokesman anymore.

At the end of Ecclesiastes, which I seem to have just channeled, there's this coda where someone else explains "What Solomon meant was really confusing.  See, he picked his words very carefully, but it's probably too complicated for you.  Just be good, and do what you're told, and don't worry your pretty little head about wisdom and all that nonsense.  Probably you should just go have sex with your wife. Here's some porn to get you started..."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Omer 9: Gevorah of Gevorah: Gevoriel (Gabriel)

Given last night's odd beginning to Mars, I spent tonight's time mostly trying to get some clarity.  After my usual Wed night Hermes work, I conjured Gabriel, as the angel of Gevorah.  I had some trouble getting a connection, which is odd, because I work with Gabriel relatively often (among other things, he's my left-hand guardian).  I was instructed to bathe with mint, which I did (for being so un-femme, I'm a total sucker for girly bath potions).  That sort of makes sense, if I was defusing Mars energy gone wrong.  That was very nice (I still feel cool and tingly), and seemed to help me "tune in"to Gabriel.  While showering, he explained that. basically, I'm so yin over-balanced, I couldn't handle the infusion of Mars energy, and it "bounced back".

It's a thing, I really am way too yin.  Even my blood work shows it; I have some symptoms of having low testosterone, but it's not low at all.  It's actually on the high side.  My estrogen, however is EXTREMELY high.  I have a lot of difficulty working up yang-fire-mars on my own.  Honestly, when I don't work around teen boys (who hemorrhage it all the time), I start jonesing for it.  It's not healthy.

He recommended a yang tonic of ginger, lemon, dandelion, and honey (which seems lovely, but I'll consult my witch doctor), and some qi-gong-ish stretches to help "tone up" my "sphere" for the influx of mars this week. He also recommended Adi Shakti, so I'll do a little of that, and then to bed.

Omer 8: Chesed in Gevorah

I realize that I'm only writing here when things go badly.  I'll try to remedy that (but, follow along at to see all of it).

So....last night kicked off the gevorah week.  Gevorah is the sephirot (and mars the planet) I'm the worst at, by far.  It's not that we don't get along exactly, I just don't have much Mars/Gevorah/Power/Fire in me.  As my daddy would have said, I'm something of a cold fish.  While I'm quite tempestuous, my passion is all water; beating rain and thrashing waves; I just don't have much heat in me, a thing I've been trying to work on.

So, to open the Gevorah week, I rubbed down a red 7day candle (the kind in the jar) with some Mars oil, chanted a little bit to get it flowing, and then lit it.  It lit well, and burned strong and fast over night.  Really very fast; while they're supposed to last 7 days, I find that this brand actually only runs about 5 or 6.  However, it was more than a third of the way burned down when I saw it this morning (after about 9 hours), but burning steadily, with little flickering.  Certainly nothing of concern.

However, when I got home from work, I found the candle burned down about half way, and no longer burning.  The top half of the glass jar was completely covered in black smoke, broken off, and lying several feet away on the floor.  Eek!  I burn these candles all the time, and I have NEVER had something like this happen.  (Seriously, there's always at least 2 or 3 lit at any given time.  I light one every Monday for the ancestors, one every Wed for Hermes, one every Friday for the Queen of Heaven, and sometimes other ones for other purposes, so that's at least 150 a year; I buy them by the case often enough that the guy at the dollar store knows me.  When he found out I was lighting them for the gods, he sold them to me half-price, and told me to burn one for Ganesh, which I did.)

Anyhow, after taking a photo, I put the candle pieces in some green cloth with some salt, tied the bundle closed, and buried it.  (Better safe than sorry).  I did some divination, which wasn't very clear at all, and then got my roommate to do some divination for me as well.  Which also wasn't super clear, except that I have to be less complacent about things, which isn't really news.

I asked around for some advice, and most people were of the opinion that blowing things up is how Mars says hello, and that what's to be expected from giving him a candle that looks like a stick of dynamite, especially on a Tuesday.

An astrologer friend pointed out that Mars isn't just retrograde right now, it's also in detriment, which, if I understand it, is about as poorly timed a Mars working as there could be.  I gather that, if you were trying to curse someone with Mars, that's how you'd time it.  So, um, yeah.  Maybe I should have paid a little more attention.  I really need to learn more astrology.  My astrologer friend also seemed to feel like me menstruating heavily was another sign of Mars-doom, but I don't think I agree with that.  Male magicians always seem to think menstruating is some kind of sign of spooky apocalypse.

On the astrologer's advice, I lit a Venus candle where the Mars candle was, and ringed it with pink salt.  Honestly,  I think that might be overkill, but I guess it can't hurt.

Tonight, I'm going to try Gabriel instead of Mars.  I have a standing appointment with Hermes Wednesdays, around 9:30, so I'm going to stay up late to do Hermes first, and see if I can get any sense out of him, and then conjure Gabriel.

And, it's almost time for that, so I have to go get ready.  I'll try to remember to report back here if I have any updates.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hod in Chesed debriefing

Read this first.

Well, that didn't go quite as expected.

First thing:  Turns out (says the witch doctor) nutmeg infused rum is somewhat entheogenic, which might have been cool if not for the slight nausea and rapid heartbeat.  Not on an empty stomach, next time. I do not recommend it; it was a (weak, but) harsh, jagged, paranoid high.  OTOH, it wore off fast, and left nothing but a slight headache.

Ok, so, I had very little trouble falling into trance (probably because of the accidental high).  Once down, all went relatively well.  Raziel showed up (flame evocation), and I automatic wrote for a bit.  He explained that he is not the keeper of this gate.  He is the keeper of the gate of Venus of Mercury.  So, naturally, I asked who the keeper of this gate is.  He seemed surprised and offended by the question (which,now that I write it, doesn't seem that weird.  I guess it was kind of rude of me.  I'll make restitution.) but answered it.  Answer is ... ...Raguel.  I'd never worked with Raguel before, but here's what I went in knowing.  He's an archangel.  His name means "Friend of God".  He's an angel of justice.

He asked for a blue candle to manifest in, wine, and honey.  I provided those things.  I wasn't sure if the wine was for him or me; I drank some and put some in a bowel. However, the connection was tenuous at best.  Around this time is when the nutmeg really started to kick in; it was unpleasant. Other than a vague warning to beware **redacted for privacy/security, message me if you want to talk about it**, there wasn't much actionable info.

He told me my heart chakra was weak (true), and so we worked on that for a little while.  At first, there was a coating of concrete about it, that we jack-hammered off. (Last sentence, very metaphoric).  Under the hard shell was a very lush forest/jungle, which glowed pink/green.  (It was pink and green at the same time, which didn't seem problematic at the time, but I can't really explain it now.)  There was a lot of tension/pain, which was eased away with warmth.  Raguel seemed kind of pissed to have to do this; I don't think healing is in his usual bailiwick.  All in all, he and I didn't really hit it off.

Then, I got a lecture to stop filling my head up with crap, because it made it very hard to construct visions out of what's available.  Case in point: this lecture was given by C.J, Craig (the messenger) from West Wing.  (Several different spirits have explained to me that dreams/visions aren't inherently in any particular language/medium. They're "beamed" directly into your head as thought-forms, and your brain assembles a metaphoric way to understand them out of whatever is floating about in your subconscious at the time.)  I got strict instructions to drastically cut back on non-inspirational TV.  I was told that I could sate my fiction-tooth with mythology, Shakespeare, classics, and epic poetry.  Arthurian legends were specifically recommended, so I downloaded some of those in audio-book for to listen to at bedtime.

After that, the connection broke.  I thanked everyone, and closed the hexegrams.

Omer 5: Hod in Chesed -- The Gate of Mercury in Jupiter

 Post-game analysis here. (link after I write it)

I've been traveling, which made ritual hard, thus all the quiet "sit with the Land" magic (which I LOVE, don't get me wrong).  But, a couple of people have been asking for play-by-play "What do you DO" stuff, and that's hard to explain without ritual.  Also, I LOVES me some ritual.  I'm home now, and I've got the apartment to myself tonight.  You know what that means:  High Magic!

Tonight, the gate of Hod of Chesed, of Brilliance in Compassion, opens.  Jason Miller's call for Mercury in Jupiter uses the phrase Philosopher King.  Apparently, he and I drank the same kool aid, because I would call this the gate of Solomon, the Magician King, the gate of Raziel.  So, here's the plan:

I made a small talisman/cheat sheet before beginning.  On a square of light blue (origami) paper, I drew an invoking hexagram of Jupiter in blue ink, and inside that an invoking hexagram of Mercury in orange ink.  On the back, I wrote the following petition (in normal black ink)

"Holy ONE, through Moses, my beloved ancestor, you taught me to count the omer, in order to to purify myself, and make myself Holy.  Tonight I count night five of the omer, Hod she'ba Chesed.  Therefor, may it be Your will my God, God of my Ancestors, God of Gods, that by the merit of Sephirat he Omer which I counted, every blemish I have caused in the Sphere of Brilliant Compassion be rectified.  Let me be healed and empowered, purified and sanctified with supernal Holiness.  May abundent bounty be bestowed on all the worlds, now and forever.  May the light of Brilliant Compassion, Hod she'be Chesed, enliven and empower my nefesh, my ruach, my neshema; all nefesh, all ruach, all neshema.  May every imperfection be healed, may the pure light of Being shine unhindered through the fifth gate, and may it sanctify and empower with supernal Holiness!

In the Name El Elyon; by the merit of my ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Rachael, Leah, Rebeccah, and Sarah; by the merit of Solomon, the Sorcerer King, whose blood flows in my veins, I call forth Raziel, angel of revelation, angel of brilliance!  Come to me now, speaking clearly and intelligibly!  Open the gate of Mercury of Jupiter, and bring me through it.  Initiate me into its current and quicken its power within me."

I set the altar as usual, but added a picture of the Sorcerer King.  I burned frankincense, and drank a shot of Hermes liquor (which is basically just nutmeg infused rum).  I prepared myself, and then:

2) Ask "road opening" familiar to open the path to the Gate of Brilliant Compassion.
3) Lit the candle (white candle, with the Raziel's name and seal, dressed with Holy Anointing Oil).
3) Traced the invoking hexegram of Jupiter.
4) Traced the invoking hexegram of Mercury.
5) Read the first part of the petition.
6) Traced the Jupiter star again.
7) Traced the Mercury star again.
8)  Read the second part of the petition, and poured some oil into the candle to make it smoke.
9) Spent time with Raziel, conversing.
10) Thanked Raziel.
11) Closing hexegram of Mercury.
12) Closing hexegram of Jupiter.
11) Thanked quarter angles (from LBRP)
12) Peace out.

Omer 4: Netzach in Chesed: the gate of Venus in Jupiter

Last night, we counted the fourth night of the Omer, Netzach in Chesed; Venus in Jupiter.  The classic kavanah ("intention" or "meditative focus") of the day is enduring love; "for better or worse".  The angel of the day is Haniel, and the saint is Hannah.

Hannah (חנה) and Haniel (חניאל) both derive from the same root; they are both about joy at receiving grace.  When things go our way, before we can be grateful, before we even think to thank G-d, the very first thing we feel is the joy of hard-won success.  That's Netzach in Chesed.

This is not an area where I excel.  I have, as an ex might put it, a lot of quit in me.  Also, I'm back in town after having been away visiting family for Passover (thus my exploratory adventures in Pequea).  I couldn't really work fancy ritual in my aunt's living room, so it was all "sit with the Land" work (which I also love).  Today, though, I had the time and space to do some "high" magic, so I did.  Here's the play by play:

0) Set up a Venus (planet, not goddess) working altar.  Picture coming soon.  Bathed with rose and sandalwood soap.  (Venus scented soaps are extremely easy to come by.)
2) Asked my "road opening" familiar to open the way to the Gate of Enduring Compassion, the Gate of Netzach in Chesed, the Gate of Venus in Jupiter.

Opening the Gate
3) Traced the invoking hexegram of Jupiter (see picture below).
4) Inside that, traced the hexegram of Venus.
5) Prayed that, by the merit of my ancestors, and merit of 
the omer I counted last night, any blemish, deformity, or oppression of me that originates in Netzach of Chesed be healed, instantly and completely.  Further, that any blemish, deformity,or oppression in the world which I have caused in Netzach of Chesed be rectified and set right.  Further that I be purified and sanctified with supernal holiness.  Further, that abundent grace rain down on the entire world, healing and enlivening every nefesh, every ruach, every neshema, correcting every blemish or defect, purifying and sanctifying the neitre world with supernal holiness.  

5) Called Haniel.
6) Lit candle and incense (see altar pic)
7) Asked Haniel to cleanse and heal me from every blemish, weakness, or failure, now and forever, in this or any other life, that originates, passes through, or acts in Venus of Jupiter.
8) Spent some time with Haniel.  Conversation.

Peace Out
9) Thanked Haniel.
10) Banishing hexegram of Venus.
11) Banishing hexegram of Jupiter.
12) Thanked the quarter angels (Michael, Gabriel, Auriel, Raphael).

The End.

The Spice

Youthful Hermes taught me a recipe for a Hermetic Sacrament.  It's not especially delicious, but it's a lovely sacrament.

While you could possibly make this with a mortar and pestle, a coffee/spice grinder is WAY better.  I don't think you can whack up nutmegs that way.  If you don't have a grinder, buy the freshest, highest quality ground nutmeg you can.  Fresh herbs would be good, but dried are fine.

You could probably use walnuts, but I'm slightly allergic to walnuts.  I think sesame seeds would also be very good.

First, grind the hard ingredients into a powder:
8 whole nutmegs
3 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp black pepper corns

Add the nuts, and grind to paste
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pistachios

1 Tbsp mace
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp tarragon
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mastic (you can get this at a Greek or Middle Eastern grocer)

Mix with honey until a thick paste is formed.

Eat about 2 Tbsp of paste, or mix them into ice cream or yogurt or apple sauce.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Omer 2: Gevorah of Chesed

Gevorah in Chesed: Gevorah is a thing I don't really get. Perhaps more than any other sephirot, I feel very out of touch with gevorah. (Although, it may be simply that it's the one I'm the most AWARE of how out of touch with it I am). So, here's what happened to me today. I was in Philly seeing family, but everyone was working/in school today, so I headed to Lancaster. I visited Pequae (but it was too cold to be out for long), so I set out on a quest to find the Gateway to Arcadia.
Shortly after I learned to drive, I discovered this amazing nature preserve (we have a lot of those in Lancaster,especially in the southern end of the county), which I always referred to as "The Gateway to Arcadia". All through high school, especially on long summer days, I used to go there to think, and talk to the Land, and search for the door to faerie. I sometimes took my brother with me, but I don't know that I ever took anyone else. It's entrance is quite hidden. It's along a small, windy road, paralleling a creek. On the other side of the road is a steep embankment, at the top of which is an old railroad track. After a little while, there's a dirt patch you can pull over at, and a stone arch leading into the side of the hill. A small creek runs into the tunnel. If you wade in the stream (slippery!) through the tunnel, and come out on the other side, you find yourself in a hidden valley. The only other way, in or out, besides the tunnel is to hike up over the mountains (really, just very steep hills) on either side. As you follow the creek, it grows, bubbling, into a small river, much to large to ford. If you follow the river far enough (maybe 2 or three miles), the hills die out, and the land levels off into farmland.
I haven't been there, haven't thought of it, in years, but I recently found myself there in a dream/journey/vision. I figured that if I just drove down that way, instinct would kick in, and I'd be able to find it, so I set out. I didn't find it today, but only because I had another adventure.  (Update: I've since found it). I drove around and around for hours, in the crisp, sparkling morning sun. I saw a black vulture eating some roadkill, which was cool, because I've never seen a vulture up close before. Then, a little way down the river, I saw another three vultures, but they flew off when I got near. At some point, I crossed the river into York county, and at Lock 15, near the Holtwood dam, there was another vulture, eating a VERY dead fox. It didn't move when I drove up. It just stared at me, and cocked its head, as if it wanted me to follow. I parked the car, got out, and followed it. I hopped along the ground, ungainly, down to a small grassy area right by the river, overlooking the dam. I followed. It stared at me for a little while, and then flew off across the river. Then the dam alarm went off, so I had to go back to the car and leave (sirens and flashing lights go off 15 minutes before when they're opening the dam, because all the low grassy areas next to the river can flood out very fast, and carry you away)
So, I don't really understand any of that, or what it means, but I'm going to keep thinking about it. 

Omer 1: Chesed of Chesed

My work was quiet and emotional; a lot of sitting and remembering an writing. Here's some of what I wrote:
Today we count Night One of the Omer, Chesed of Chesed.
I’m going to tell you a about a thing I remember. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it, even though I know that the world remembers some of it differently. I don’t think it matters. It’s an event I hadn't thought about in years, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’m sure Wikipedia can tell you the “real” version, if you want.
In any case, at some point in my early twenties, there was a shooting at a small Amish school out Quarryville way. A local English (that’s Amish for “not Amish”) man entered a one-room school house with a gun. I think he might have been the school’s milk man or something. He let the boys and the grown-ups go, but the girls, ten or twelve of them, he kept. Because they were Amish, it was several miles to the nearest phone, but the released hostages set off that way, and called the police, who came in great force, and sent in a negotiator, to no avail. After holding the girls (some of whom spoke only Deitsch, and no English) hostage for several hours, he shot them and then himself. Some of the girls died, and some were med-evac’ed to the hospital with critical injuries. I don’t really recall any more details of the shooting itself; I’m not sure I ever knew them. What actually matters is what happened next.
Again, I do not know if my recollection is accurate. I remember so many things that no one else does, some of them things I know couldn't possibly have happened, and there are so many things I forget. In this particular case, I’m not sure it matters if this is how it happened or not. This is the story I carry with me, and the one I’m telling right now.
Within a few hours of the shooting, an Amish elder was being interviewed by the newspaper, and admonished people not the hate, not to judge, not to think evil of “this poor man” who “had a wife, and children, and a soul that is now standing before its maker.” Later that day, a delegation from the community visited the gunman’s widow, children, and parents to comfort them. By the next day, the entire Amish community, including the parents of the dead girls, made a very public statement of forgiveness. With their children’s blood still wet on their hands, they forgave. That’s how Chesed works. It doesn't undo the wrong; it doesn't condone it, or even really pardon it, but it is ever-merciful; immediately and wholly beneficent. I want to be like that.
There’s an Amish folktale (midrash?) I learned as a kid about a man named William Dirk (or something like that). He was an early Anabaptist (the broad category of Christian that Amish falls into. They don't believe in infant baptism;they think such a thing as that is something you have to take on yourself, as an adult.) in the Netherlands. He was captured by the Inquisition, and imprisoned, tortured and starved. He managed to escape, and ran across a frozen lake to safety, with the guard hot on his heels. Because he had been starved, he made it across the thin ice, but the well-fed guard was not so lucky, he fell through the ice into the dark depths, and so Dirk was free. But here’s the thing that gets me; Dirk turned around. He turned around and saved the guard. He fished the man out, and breathed for him until help arrived. Help, of course, meant the other guards, who hauled Dirk back to prison, and soon thereafter, burned him at the stake.
Torah says that after the waters parted, after we passed through the sea, the Egyptians continued their pursuit, and the water came crashing down on them. Not a single one survived. As we watched their corpses float to the shore, we sang. We sang a song of jubilation at their death. But, I think, we should have turned around to save them. I am finding that hard to forgive.  But, I'm trying.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Plugging In

If you're counting the omer with me (join here), this is the post I mentioned as prep work for counting.  If not, feel free to use it to prep for any kind of magical work.  There's a lot of complicated visualization/energy manipulation in this, which can take some time to perfect.  At least, it took me a LONG time to get the trick of it.  That's ok!  This is one of those "fake it until you make it" kind of things.  You'll feel it when it clicks in.  Do it every day (after a week or so of practice, you should be able to do it in less than 10 minutes).  I promise that you'll feel the connections "pop" when they're right.  This metaphor might not resonate for the boys, but it's a lot like orgasm.  At first, you're mostly just faking it, secretly wondering if there's something wrong with you that you can't do it "for real".  Then, you kind of get into faking it, twitching muscles and breathing hard and whatnot, but you still suspect that you're "doing it wrong", because you don't really FEEL it.  Then, there's a little mini-quake.  You definitely felt something!  Wait...was that it?  This shit is overrated.  Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it washes over you, all at once, and you're plugged in. THAT'S what everyone was talking about!  You can feel the connection.  Turns out it wasn't so overrated.  I promise that if you do it every day, it will click, and you'll know when you're doing it right.

In this ritual, we're invoking various powers.  There are two basic ways to think about this.  The first way to think about it is that these powers are always present inside of you, and you'll just tuning into them; making mental connections to them, getting "in the zone".  The second is to think of them as external powers that you're plugging into.  , There's a great deal of debate in the magical community about which is "right", which I don't really want to get into.  Personally, I think that, in order to really make it work, you have to do both.  In this, I'm talking about it as if they're external, because the language is less complicated that way.  We're going to connect to 15 powers in this.  By the end of it, you'll be a World Tree uniting all the Powers.

Start off by centering in your heart.  Seriously, your heart needs to be the Center of the motherfucking Universe. Make a fist with your left hand and put it over your heart.  Put your right hand on top of that and press your fist into your chest, hard enough that it hurts your chest a little bit. (I learned this pushing trick form Jason Miller; it's very effective.) Breathe in, concentrating your essence down, down, down into your heart.   Feel the whole universe contracting down, down, down into your heart.  Eventually, when the pressure is at it's limit, feel everything explode out, Big Bang style.  Grow larger and larger, more and more diffuse, colder and slower.

Way, way out, at the outer circumference of the universe, past the black, past the cold, past the depths, the light of Ein Soph Aur (or whatever you call the Light Beyond the Darkness) shines.  Feel it radiating into the world, moment by moment creating it, the subtle warm heartbeat the cosmic background radiation (metaphor!).  Stretch up, up, up, becoming so large you fill the universe, becoming coextensive with all that it.  Feel the Light Beyond filling you, warming you.  Shrink back down to your regular size, but maintain a shining cord of light tying you to the outer edges, through the darkness, to the Light Beyond.  The cord should "plug in" at the top of your head.

Feel the crystalline song of the stars descending through you, down your spine, passing through your heart (the center of the universe) down along your spine.  You might feel it getting "stuck" at certain points.  If that happens, try to imagine it like warm water, softly melting through the obstruction, and it should flow on past.  If it's really, seriously STUCK and won't move, you're probably going to need some help from some kind of energy manipulator.  I've had EXCELLENT results with acupuncture.  This energy should naturally collect and pool in your belly or womb. just below the diaphragm. (I gather that some people's collects higher up, just below the diaphragm.  That's fine too.  Maybe better, I don't know.) If you can't feel it settling, try very subtly tensing and releasing your abdominal muscles rhythmically, from top to bottom, in a ripple.  Leave a reserve of energy there; we're going to use it to connect to all the other powers.

Let the energy sink the whole way through your spine, exiting through your anus and sinking into the Earth.  Deep, deep, down, through the Earth and the rock, deeper and deeper, at the center of the world below is the Heart of the World, the power of Life and Evolution and Decay and Renewal.  Feel all your tension and worry, all your filth and impurity and "sin" sink off of you, washed down into the Earth, where it will decay and renew, being made clean again.  Keep a cord/pipe running down into the Heart of the World, plugged in to your anus. (haha, she said "plugged into your anus")

Turn your attention again to the pool of energy in your belly.  Send it down your right leg, sinking roots into the earth.  Connect to your maternal ancestors (as literally or metaphorically as you want).  Feel the love of your mother, and Mother-love in general.  Feel the unbroken flow of connection, mother to grandmother, back through time.  If you're Jewish, try connecting back to Rachael, and then Leah, and then Rebbecah, and then Sarah, and from her to Inanna, and from her back into the Heart of the World.  If you're not Jewish, connect back to some other mythic-priestess tribal ancestress (make one up if you have to; you're looking for the "mother of your people". ).  Through her, connect to any Goddess (or God) that descends and returns.  And from Her into the Heart of the World.  This is NOT the "universal brotherhood of man" kind of ancestry.  It's your PERSONAL tribal ancestors.  This is the pillar of Order, of Tribe, of Safety.  This is the pillar of Love.  We'll plug into universal human ancestry next.

Return to the pool in your belly, and send roots down your left leg, tracing along your paternal ancestry.  This time, we are going back further.  Run back through your paternal ancestors (literal or not), paying especially attention to any magicians.  Keep going back, back, back to the paleolithic era, the first emergence of people like us.  Find a shaman there.  Connect through him to Pan (or any other spirit of Wild Places), and from there back to the Heart of the World.  (For me, this involves tracing back evolutionary though animals, back, back, back to the first single-cell where life sparked.) This is the pillar of Chaos, of Wild, of Nature.  The Pillar of Power.

You might want to switch left/right or male/female legs.  I suspect, in particular, that for many men "universal family of humans" goes through the female on the left and "personal tribe" runs through the male on the right. Experiment to find what works for you.  You can be as literal or as loose about how you understand "ancestors".  These are just any dead people you can draw strength from.  You can use saints and boddhisatvas and folk-heros as well as literal ancestors.  It's just those "who went before".

Next, we're going to connect to the four directions (or four elements, or four archangels).  I know there's a lot of back and forth about how to assign these.  Personally, I think you should listen to the space your in to decide.  For example, my home is less than 3 blocks from the Long Island Sound.  When I'm at home, I call water in that direction (south)..  There's a massive oak tree immediately outside my front door.  I call Earth in that direction (west).  Etc.

You can "call quarters" any way you want.  For this, what's important is that you "plug in" to each element.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Book of Raziel the Angel notes (book 1)

I've been rereading Steve Savedow's translation of Sepher Raziel Hemelech (The Book of Raziel, the Angel), and I am forced to conclude it is very bad.  However, it is the only English version readily available.  I'm going to publish my notes on it here.  To read along, you'll need this edition.

Book One Part One: Of the Vestment
p 1: Contrast with Job 28

Part Two: The Prayer of Adam
p 7: "the names of the Malachim (angels) ministering in the months"  compare with the Heptameron

p 7: "keep the body in purity, bath in the sea of life".  I imagine that "sea of life" is translating "mayim chayim".  Usually, that's translated literally as "living waters".  It means a mikveh (which is a ritual bath).  To keep the body in purity in this sense is about maintaining ritual purity, which mostly means avoiding corpses, contagious disease, semen, and menstrual blood.

However, the mikveh returns one to a state of (almost) ritual purity regardless of what you've come into contact with.  While there are special mikveh pools (any orthodox synogogue can direct you to one), you can also make mikveh in any natural body of water large enough to submerge yourself in.  (Most, but not all, kinds can also be remedied by bathing in rainwater.  I think nocturnal emissions require non-rain water, but I'm not positive; probably you should just keep your genitals on the inside of your body, like a normal person.)

p 8: "stopped to rest, not realizing he rested in the holy place".  See this old post for more on המקום, "The Holy Place".

p 9: more about "ritual impurity" and mikveh

I'm sleepy now.  I'll write about the astrology angels starting on p 11 tomorrow.