Friday, October 31, 2014

Names

In addition to ancestors, I like to call on my ancestral names.  I call Sara:

Sara (me),

Nan Sara (my great grandmother),












Sarah, the daughter of Abraham, the student of Abramelin (a fictional Jewish sorceress from 15th century Germany I'm slowly receiving a novel about).

This image is from the cover of a book called The Witch of Cologne, by Tobsha Learner, which I strongly recommend.  Although there is some similarity between the set-up of this book and mine (they're both about witchy Jewish medics from the 15th century), they're actually quite different.







Sarah of St. Giles, a 14th century Jewish French physician (whom I suspect both Ms. Learner and I were inspired by)


Black Sara, the patron saint of the Romani (Gypsy), and a companion of the Mary Theotokos and Mary Magdalene.












Sarah, the mother of Isaac, the First Mother of Judaism,












Who is also Sarah, the priestess of Mamre,




I think this painting is by Patty Van Dyke.






Sarai, the high priestess of Shaddai



artwork by Brian Charles








Astarte, the great Lion, the the Sphinx, the Circle of Stars












Ashera, the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of Trees












Asasara, the Minoan Snake Goddess













and the Venus of Chauvet, the Great Lioness








My maternal ancestors

I have two very strong, very distinct ancestral lines that I work with.  Today I'm going to talk to you about my mother's line. On that side, I trace (mostly, but not exclusively though women):
my mother, Ellen Halbert Mastros (1949-2012)
early 2012
her father, Michael Halbert, (1926-2012)
circa 2011


his mother, Sara Bricklin Halbert (1898-1991) 
Feb of 1978.  I'm the baby in this photo.
her mother, Sophie Brohnstein Bricklin.
provenance unknown

I know very little about Sophie Bricklin.  All I know for certain is that, in 1906, she fled Ukraine for Philadephia, accompanied by her husband, Baruch, and their 5 children, including my then eight-year-old Nan Sara.  However, here is what Sophie's spirit "told" me of her ancestry, which I choose to believe.  

Sophie's mother's name was Sarah, but she died giving birth to Sophie.  Sophie's father was drunk and distant; he beat her sometimes, and may have also abused her sexually.  He never remarried, and Sophie had no siblings.  Sophie's father had a brother, David, with whom he was close.  David's wife, Anna, had just given birth when Sophie was born, and so Sophie sometimes drank from Anna's breast as a child with her cousin, Lev.  Lev and Sophie remained close until Sophie married Baruch, and they moved away.   I think that there was bad blood between Baruch and Lev.  Soon after the marriage, Lev moved to the big city (Kiev?) to study mathematics.  That was the last Sophie heard from him. However, I know what happened to him.  At university, he quickly became disenchanted with math and became a political activist.   He later changed his name to Leon Trotsky.  You might have heard of him.  He was an important figure in the Russian revolution.From Sophie, I continue to trace my ancestry back through Eastern European Jewery, through Sarah, the protagonist of my novel, and her daughter Sarah:
through the Jews of the classic Mediterranean
through a whole assortment of tribal ancestors, Mary Theotokos
Solomon,
Ruth, 

Rachael,





and Sarah & Abraham.  
From Sarai, I trace through Ishtar-Shaddai, through the rise of civilization,
From there, I trace to First Woman, 

and from there through our evolutionary ancestors, whom I work with as I would other animal spirits; 
Hominid,

 Primate, 

Mammal,
 Tetrapod,
 Chordate, 

First Animal, 

and thence back, back, back to First Life, 

and from there through Primium Mobile.


What Am I Doing for Halloween?

Kids at school have been asking what (magic) I do for Halloween.  So, I thought I'd write about that.

There are four sorts of magic that Halloween is especially good for:

  1. Contact and communion with the ancestors and "mighty dead".  I'm relative new to ancestral work (I've been doing it for about 2 years now), but I've been getting a lot of value from it.  Fro me, there really several sorts of ancestral work.  
    1. Work with my immediate/named ancestors, like my parents and grandparents.
    2. Work with tribal ancestors, like Sarah, Abraham, Solomon, or Jesus,  and "deep" ancestors, like First Human.
    3. Work with evolutionary ancestors, like Great Ape, and Primate, and Mammal, and Vertebrate, down, down, down to First Life.
    4. Work with non-related mighty dead:  the saints, the bodhisatvas, any dead human who is willing to help out.
  2. Necromancy (compelling/binding the spirits of the dead).  I don't do this, and I don't really think you should either.  Not so much because it's dangerous and because it seems just as wrong to enslave dead people as it would be to enslave living people.  That being said, it's not up to me what you do, and there's certainly a lot of grey area between categories 1 & 2.
  3. Work with Cthonic spirits and gods.  Of these, Hekate and, occasionally, Ereshkigal, and Baphomet are what I mostly do.  Baphomet I primarily work with as a sort of overseer of evolution, and so working with him/her is, for me, very closely related with deep and evolutionary ancestral work.  I also work with the unnamed "Old Powers of the Earth", but I was introduced to that work by Ereshkigal.  (Well, I suppose I was introduced to that work by Ursula LeGuin, but I was initiated into it by Ereshkigal.)
  4. Final harvest magic.  This can be literal, bringing in the last of the crop, slaughtering this years' livestock, etc.  It can also be figurative, closing out long-term work and settling in for winter.  Because I live my life on an academic schedule, I mostly do this sort of work during the Jewish High Holy Days, about a month before, which more closely coincide with the beginning of my school year.  That being said, Halloween is a great time for beginning quiet, contemplative, hermit-style work, or for renewing commitments to things like meditation and prayer.
It's also a really good time for death-related charity.  One of the charitable causes very important to my family has always been helping to provide funerals and burial/cremation for people who could not otherwise afford it.  While there are not that many organized charities that do this, I sometimes donate to the Hebrew Free Burial Association, but if anyone knows a non-religious charity that does this work, I'd prefer to donate there.  When I know of individual families in need following a loss, I also like to donate directly to the family of funeral home.   Other options are simply to go clean up a graveyard, especially if there is one within walking distance of your home.  "Adopting" a graveyard (or even just an untended grave) is an easy way to make powerful pseudo-ancestral allies.  Pick up the trash, perhaps rake some leaves, and then leave an offering of an egg and some honey within the graveyard, ideally either at a crossroads, or under a centrally-located tree.

So....Astute readers will have noticed that I've carefully skirted the issue of what I do.  There are two reasons for that.  First, I don't really like to write about magic I'm doing until after it's done.  However, this year (for the second time), I'm also participating in a globally networked "Hallows of Hekate" ritual organized by Jason Miller, and the details of it are secret.  However, below, I'll give some brief sketches of what I plan to do, and I can also make some recommendations for things beginners can try.  next week, I'll write about what I actually did.

Friday afternoon, I'll clean and re-consecrate my ancestors altar.  (some pics below from last week)  I'll also build a Hekate/Ereshkigal altar across for it, for the Hallows rite.    I'll put up some pics when that's done.  (To be clear, I'm not saying that Hekate and Ereshkigal have any classical connection.  I'm saying that I work with both of them, and they seem to get along just fine, and I only have so much space in my tiny apartment.  That being said, the PGM sets a solid precedent that they have long been syncretized.)



After that, I'll call in shabbat with my ancestors, and sit for a while with them in quiet contemplation. I've realized that I have a tendency to work with my Jewish (ie, maternal) ancestors a lot more than my Greek (ie, paternal) ancestors.  That's partly because I find Judaism more appealing than Greek religion, but it's mostly because, growing up, we were always closer to my mother's side of the family.  I'm trying to change that, so I'll also be calling Mary Theotokus ("Mother of God") to help me connect with my Greek ancestors as well.  We'll see how that goes.  

If you want to try out some ancestral work, you might try this free guided ritual from Andrieh Vitimus.  It's voodoo-style, hypnotic, and VERY easy.

I've got a pretty nasty cold, so that's probably all I'll do tonight.

Saturday, I've got the Hallows of Hekate.  While I'm not permitted to give you all the details, I can explain the basic structure.  Hekate is the Greek goddess of the underworld, and also of sorcery.  Like almost every spirit I relate to, Hekate is also a crossroads guardian.  Like most moon and underworld goddesses, she also has a special fondness for nursing children.  In later writings (like the Chaldean Oracles) she starts to expand into a broader Binah-based role.

In the Hallows rite, we basically call Hekate using classical Greek methods (similar to those in the PGM).  As I did during last year's Hallows, I'll be blessing some iron skeleton keys.  This year, I'm also going to bless some red silk ribbons.  If you'd like a Hekate key on a red ribbon, please let me know.  Last year, almost half of them got lost in the mail; several people received empty, torn envelopes.  I don't know what the story is with that.  This year, I'll package them up more carefully in sturdy boxes.  However, that dramatically ups the postage cost for me.  So, if you can, I'd really like it if you could make a donation honoring the dead in exchange for one.

Immediately after the Hallows, I'll be calling Ereshkigal.  You might remember I did a lot of work with her last winter.  For me, Ereshkigal's primary role is as an initiatix; she the scourge that blasts away all limitations.  (in fact, you'll see when I post pics that her altar contains a black leather flogger.)  I'll be descending to her as Inanna-Ishtar, humbling myself before my elder sister, Death.  This is an exhausting and difficult ordeal I cannot, in good conscience, recommend to anyone.  However, for me, it's worth it.  If you'd like to do something like this, I'd recommend a prayer to Sante Muerte, the Mexican Death Saint.  I like this one.  

Later Saturday, or possibly Sunday, depending on how tired I am after the Hallows, I'm going to do some Baphomet ancestral work.  I find this work very inspiring and "good for what ails you".  It's "easy access".  While not exactly what I'm going to do, there's a video of the Baphomet rite I worked with Andrieh at Crucible, but it's kind of garbled and hard to follow.  Here's another version of something similar.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How I Read Tarot



I spent some time with other magicians this weekend.  This has become a rare treat in my life (although, hopefully, that will change soon.  I've been putting A LOT of effort into this aspect of my life.)  Among other things, we did a few tarot readings for each other.  That reminded me that the way I read tarot is a little differently than the way other people do.  So, I thought I'd try to write about that.  The most important part, is that I think of a reading as a conversation between the questioner and the cards, mediated through the me and the cards.  Except for at the very beginning, I don't often use a traditional "lay" where each position signifies something.  Instead, I converse with the cards, asking questions, and then pulling cards to form a narrative response.  My interpretation of each card is based partly on the kabbalistic symbolism and traditional meaning of each one, but also on the narrative contained in the picture.  I usually read with the Rohrig tarot, which has very detailed, symbol-dense, emotionally evocative pictures.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  After more than a decade out of print, you can now buy decks directly from the artist.  However, this method will work with any deck (although it's harder when the pips don't have pictures); use your favorite.

The system described below is for an issue that the questioner would describe as "complicated"; one that touches on many aspects of their life.  For a straight-forward question/problem, I wouldn't do all this.

1) Shuffle the cards, while asking the Divine to speak through me to provide clear, insightful, inspiring, useful advice.
2) Part way through shuffling, ask the questioner to carefully formulate a question in their mind, and then blow it into the cards, the way you'd ask a pretty girl to blow luck into your dice before rolling.  I explain it to them just like that.  (Hermes taught me this trick.  It works very well.)
3) Shuffle the cards one more time, then ask the questioner to cut.
4) Deal one card.  Briefly describe the card's general meanings, and any special symbols that jump out at me.  Ask the questioner if that seems like a fair significator of their question. Remind them that it might not summarize the whole issue, but rather indicate a key "point of attack".   If they do not consent to the significator, ask them to tell me their question out loud, or as much of it as they feel comfortable.  Reshuffle the cards, then have them blow and cut.  Try again.  If it fails three times is a row, then I just apologize and quit.
5) Deal cards to the left, top, right, and bottom of the significator to represent the Earthy, Airy, Firey, and Watery aspects of the issue.
6) The Earth card generally represents home, family, and money, but sometimes also physical health.
7) The Air card is often career (especially for students, teachers, engineers, writers, and other mental types).  It can also be an indicator of what the person thinks about the situation.
8) The Fire card talks to a person's Will.  It's sometimes about sex.  For magicians, it's often about their magical practice.  For artists, this is almost always about their art.  If a person has a "calling", this is where you'll hear it.  
9) The Water card is about emotions.  In my experience, it's nearly always about a person's love life, but sometimes about their relationships with other people, or about other feelings.  I often get cards related to loneliness here.  Whether this is just me projecting my life onto other people or a deep problem in our society, I don't know, but it seems to me that a disturbing number of people ache with loneliness and purposelessness a lot of the time. (in my experience, which is overwhelmingly reading for people at a similar "stage of life" as I am.  Namely, 20s and 30s, single or with young families, usually early career or still "finding themselves").

The reason I do this broad elemental "overview" of what's going on with the person is that it helps me get the "lay of the land" of all the things going on related to the question, and can help bring to light the ACTUAL issue at play, which isn't always the one the person thought it was.

The questioner often wants to jump in to provide more details while reading these four cards.  I usually ask them to wait until I finish all four.  Otherwise, it's VERY hard to not try to cold read them, which screws it all up.  then you end up telling them what they want.expect to hear, which is almost never what they need to hear.  I also remind them that, so far, we're just investigating the issue as it stands, not looking for any advice on what to do about it or predictions about how things will play out.  Sometimes, it will be clear that they want to focus on one of the elements; often not the one that I would have suspected.  Sometimes the reading needs to touch more than one or all the corners.

If the reading is going to focus on one of the elements, then I move the 5-spot to somewhere that allows me to "build" out of that corner (sometimes that means spinning the whole 5-spot around).  I lay down cards one at a time, and build a narrative that explain what can be done about the issue in question.  If a card doesn't make sense to me, I ask for clarification (or confirmation, if it's surprising), and then pull another.  I keep going until I'm satisfied all is done.

I'd like more practice reading "from afar".  If you'd like a free reading, please comment below AND message me on facebook.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pan & Ishtar, Baphomet & Babalon

As I think most of you know, I've done some work in the past with Ishtar & Pan as paired gods, both in heiros gamos, and in other ways as well.  Pan's role, to my way of thinking, is primarily as a god of wild places; rugged mountains, deep forest glades, hidden pastures.  A god of unknown places and unchecked wilds.  Like Hermes, Pan's cult arose  in Arcadia.  Hermes, in fact, is usually understood to be Pan's father.  This fact is rather odd, as Pan is also considered to be older than all the Olympians.  I understand it thus:  Hermes is not literally Pan's father.  Rather, Hermes is the one who introduced Pan to the world, who coaxed him from his wild, enticing him with to the sweetness of human offerings (and human women), teaching him the excitement of human-watching.  Likewise, Hermes taught us of Pan, his shaggy wild-eyed, storm-hearted friend.  Like Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Hermes and Pan as a pair represent the partnership of man's creation and nature's.  Like with Gilgamesh and Enkidu, it doesn't end well for nature.

There is an amazing fact about Pan that so many modern pagans do not know.  Pan, perhaps alone among the Greek pantheon, is dead.  His death was announced during the reign of Tiberius (10-40ish CE), and much lamented.  What occasioned this is not entirely understood, but may have been sparked by native Greek's misunderstanding of the cult of Tammuz(*), the great Grain god of the near east, who yearly dis and arises.  However, there is another sense in which Pan is dead.  There are now so few places in the world that are not controlled by humans, Pan no longer has much of a "natural habitat".  And so he retreated, but, like every dying god, he rises.  Pan, like all things he controls, and grown and moved and shifted, to become a god of creativity and sexuality, of creation and generation.  Nature always conquers, in the end.  The Wild cannot always be tamed.

In a new age, he is called Baphomet, the sabbatic goat.  The throbbing, humming power of the Old Powers of the Earth.  Baphomet, the double helix king.  Baphomet, the blind yearning, the lifeblood of the world that unites every living thing. Baphomet, the Evolver.

Similarly, Ishtar, the Light of the World, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the patron of Babylon, is a goddess all about conquering.  She, the Queen of the Earth, expands her control to the Heavens, and, in her most famous myth, descends into the underworld to attempt to conquer that as well. (This conquest is thwarted by her sister, Ereshkigal.  Even the greatest of creative power cannot overcome Death.)  Ishtar's cult, centered in Babylon, the Holy and Eternal City, the navel of the world, the City That Never Sleeps.  Just as Pan is a god of natural growth, Ishtar is the goddess of man-made growth of progress and innovation.  And yet, Babylon too fell, and Ishtar receded into history, but not before she too grew and changed.  Ishtar has become a goddess of luxury and decadence, of female-power and voluptuousness.  When people rail against this, when they lament the power of the City, and the decadent and sinful ways, they call her by her new name,  "Babalon", they say, "the queen of inequity, the temptress, the Whore!"

And so the old gods arise anew,  Baphomet and Babalon, the old gods made new.  Wild Growth and Human Growth, Evolution and Innovation.


(*) This connection is particular interesting in light of the connection between Pan and Ishtar I'm making.  Tammuz was the great love of Ishtar's life, and it is she that causes his death.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Fifth Book of Abramelin: A Novel

This is a bit of the first draft of the book I'm working on. What do you think?

-----------------
June 12, 1443


Lamech could not sleep.  He slipped out of bed, tied his robe about him, and snuck outside into the courtyard.  The rush of air was cool on his face, a sweet caress after the oppressive heat of his bedroom.  He leaned his back against the ancient oak.  When they were young, his sister and he had played at being Sarah and Abraham under that tree, imagining it to be the Terebinth of Mamre.  They had played Moshe and Miriam at the banks of the sea, he pounding the ground with a magic staff, she singing and dancing around him and the tree both.  He felt its bark against his back, scratchy and familiar.  And then he remembered the other game, the one they learned from their mother, the game of being the tree.
He slowed his breath and felt the world fall away, imagining his roots sinking into the ground, winding around the rocks, deeper and deeper into the black earth.  He imagined he grew taller and taller, his branches spreading.  The moonlight felt strange and warm on his shivering leaves.  The feelings grew more and more real, until then he shook his head and laughed.  Imagine!  A grown man of 23 playing at being a tree!  
He opened his eyes, and looked up at the sky.  The moon hung low and full over the western horizon, but it was as red as blood.  The rabbis taught that lunar eclipses were poor omens, a time for prayer and atonement.  And yet...and yet... Lamech could not help but think the moon, however inauspicious, really was very beautiful this way.  He closed his eyes, and began, slowly and quietly, to chant the psalm which sanctifies the moon.  He gave praise to G-d and all his angels, to the sun and the moon, to the glittering stars high above and the roiling sea monsters deep below.  Just as he began to praise the fire and the hail, he caught most delicious smell on the air, and the words of the psalm evaporated from his mind, leaving only the smell.  
At first, it was sweet milk, thick with honey and spice, but the scent slipped and shifted in his mind, darting in wide circles like a glittering fish.  He smelled the rich green of the forest, he smelled mist rising and rain falling, he smelled lightning.  He smelled bitter beer and roasting nuts, sweet blackberry wine and the herbal smell that clung to his sister’s hair and clothes when she came home from the apothecary.  Beneath all those smells, however, was something else, pulsing and squirming, dancing and laughing, playing through his mind like a lover.  The smell pulled at Lamech, embracing and caressing him, and he forgot the beautiful bad-luck moon entirely.  
Slowly, the smell seemed to descend and solidify.  Lamech opened his eyes, expecting...what exactly?  He laughed at himself,  playing at trees, expecting to see smells? "What," he wondered, "could a smell possibly look like?"  And then he saw the way the moon illuminated the oak tree, and he caught his breath.  The leaves rustled, although the air was quite still.  The moonlight, still beautiful and eerie, fell in a perfect circle at the tree’s base, and Lamech imagined there must be a magical treasure buried there, and inheritance of angels.  The idea was absurd, a child’s story, and yet he couldn’t shake it.  He went inside, and found a spade.
An hour later, dawn cresting over the roof, sweaty and dirty from digging, Lamech held the box his hands.   He lifted the lid with some difficulty.  Its time in the earth had made the wood swell and warp a little.  And yet, the box had served its function, the book inside was clean and dry, wrapped in several layers of old linen.  The book had no title; the cover an unbroken expanse of deep red, the color of cherries and fresh blood.
Lamech was not a reader; he simply had no head for it.  Whenever he tried, the letters swam and danced, mocking him.  He knew he was not stupid, he was the quick enough to learn things when they were explained to him.  He was not illiterate, he could do well enough to pray and even learn a little Torah, but he knew that he would never be a scholar.  Still, though, that his magical treasure turned out to be a book seemed something of a perverse joke.
As he opened it, the pages crackled like crispy chicken skin.  Sarah was a good cook; her knowledge of herbs extended to the flavorful as well as the medicinal.  Her sabbath chicken were moist and delicious, but their skin was never crispy the way mother’s had been.  Lamech stared at the first page and slowly began to read.


Abramelin
The Book of the
Holy Magic
written by
Abraham, the son of Simon
for my infant son, Lamech


Lamech had never known his father.  His mother’s pregnancy had greatly scandalized the town.  Had she not been a midwife, she never would have been permitted to bear a child still unwed, but she refused to marry and had never revealed the identity of the twins’ father, not even to Lamech and Sarah, though they had begged and begged.  As a child, Sarah invented all sorts of fantastical tales about their father.  She imagined that he was rich and famous, a scholar, perhaps a great magician.  On one occasion, she had insisted that their father was none other than the Holy Rabbi, Yaakov Levi!  Their mother, who was never angry or abrupt, had slapped Sarah full across the face for that one.   
He turned the page and began, with great difficulty, to puzzle out the dense small script.  “This is the book of the true practice of Magical Wisdom.  It has been passed to me -- Abraham, the son of Simon, son of Judah, son of Simon -- by oral tradition.  Some parts of this book were given to me by my father and other wise, studied, practicing people.  The other parts of this book contain things that I have learned, discovered, and tested by making great events occur.  I have written this manuscript and placed it in a chest son that my youngest son, Lamech, will have a special treasure as his inheritance.  My firstborn son Joseph received from me the holy Kabbalah.  From this book, my natural son, Lamech, will be able to see, recognize, and use the wonders of God.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crucible! (Part 1)

I've just returned home from Crucible, an amazing magical convention in Princeton, NJ run by Arthur Moyer.  This is my VERY subjective, slightly fictionalized narrative of what happened.  Why slightly fictionalized?  Well, I want to try to capture my inner experience of how things seemed and felt to me, rather than to report on exactly what happened. While I didn't outright lie anywhere, I've left out some bits and emphasized others to try to capture the "essence" of my experience.  I'll try to be really careful to explain what's real and what's subjective, especially when it involves other people.

I think, to really grok this, you're going to need a little background:  Two years ago, I participated in Andrieh's first Crucible Mass of Chaos Baphomet.  That, however, wasn't the first time I summoned Baphomet.  The first time was in a steam tunnel under Caltech in 1996.  But, that's a whole different story.  In Andrieh's ritual, you trade your limitations for magical power.  During the ritual, I was asked to give up something.  I knew I had to give it away.  I'd been told so (more gently) by other of my spirits several times over the preceding few months.  But I just couldn't.  (Although I eventually did.  It was best for both of us.)

Two weeks later, my parents died.  I am IN NO WAY saying the ritual caused their death (and they're not the thing I was told I had to give up.)  I'm just explaining that my "Dark Night of the Soul" was in many ways bookended by this Baphomet ritual.

Another thing you should know; Crucible is always (coincidentally) near the Jewish High Holy Days.  This year it fell on Yom Kippur.  In addition to all the spiritual/energetic sorts of things about that, it means I was fasting the whole time.  That's going to be relevant as it gets later and later in the day and my state slowly alters.

So, I got in around 4pm on Friday, and went for a walk on the grounds.  The hotel we were at this year is beautiful, with wooded grounds and a pond.  I walked for a while by myself, and then for a while with some others.  It was lovely.  I went inside, ate dinner, and took a shower, wherein I banished and prepared for the fast.  I then went socializing with people, which was nice.

After that, Andrieh taught me some secret magical techniques which I am not allowed to tell you about.  This was in preparation for my role as an assistant magician at this year's Baphomet conjuration.  After the lesson, which was exhausting, I eventually made my way to bed.  Because I'm used to waking up very early, I can rarely manage to sleep past dawn.  Saturday was no exception.

That morning, I did some more walking in the woods.  As I walked, I came across a patch of some sort of yellow plant interspersed among the grass.  It formed a path leading into the woods.  A fairy path if ever I saw one!  So, I followed it.  After some time, the path was blocked by a fallen tree, a tangled hedge entwined with morning glory vines.  I made my way past/through/over it.  But I can't tell you what I found on the other side yet.  But soon I will be able to.

In any case, by that time, it was time to go back inside for Crucible.

I saw several interesting and informative lectures, and then I watched other people eat dinner.  By this point (5:30ish) my tummy was a little rumbly.  Jason Miller, that Sorcerer Supreme, was teasing me about fasting by enjoying his dinner.  I explained that watching him enjoy it was nearly as good as enjoying it myself.  He ate a salad, and then a cheesecake.  That looked delicious.  He asked me about fasting, and I explained that it wasn't about abstention or purity for me, it was just magical prep work for forgiving G-d.  Then I explained that I was also wrapping up a year-long vow of chastity.  Then he ate some very delicious smelling chicken.  And then he ate a chocolate cinnamon cake in a way that seemed a little more erotic than was strictly necessary.  And then he told about a Vietnamese (Thai?  I don't really remember) ritual thing where you slice open a cobra and eat its still-beating heart as a yang tonic.  Now, Jason Miller, while a little too Jupiter Optimus Maximus for my taste in mercurial men, literally wrote the book on sex magic, so, um, you know...  (This is going to be relevant later in this story.)

Right after dinner, Jason gave a great talk on Tibetan sorcery, a specialty of his, wherein he introduced us to several deities, including Karukulla, whom I understood to be a Red Goddess/Witch Queen of love, witchcraft, and, enchantment. (but that's based on, literally, like 5 minutes of Jason Miller talking)  Apparently, her name literally means "she who is the cause knowledge.” As you might expect from that name, she resonated with me a little bit. Anyhow, one point in the lecture he was explaining some sort of very technical tantric sexual energy technique, which, honestly, my brain didn't really follow at all. "energy goes out the penis, and then up her right foot, crosses through the womb into the right ovary, up the spine into her left nostril, and zing across to the right hemisphere of her brain" (or something like that).  And, this was weird... I totally felt that happen.  I mean, not in a "rock my world" kind of way, but in a definitely noticeable zingy sort of thing where something snapped to attention inside me.   (I want to remind you, dear readers, that at this point in the story, I'm a kind of high; 1 year, no sex.  20-some hours: no food or water, and almost no sleep.  And Jason eating that fucking cake.  I'm not saying that feeling had any basis in reality.)

Ok, so here's what happened next.  Jason said something funny, and from the row behind me a very big, loud, infectious laugh bubbled up.  Objectively, I understand other people might find it a very annoying sort of laugh, but I liked it.  I turned around to see who was laughing, and caught this beautiful boy's eye.  You know that thing in movies where two people lock eyes across a room?  That thing happened. I actually did a double take.  (This is probably one of those "this is what I experienced, but not what actually happened to other people" parts of the story.)

Ok, so all of these things are going on in the background of my brain, when I walk into Sam Block's amazing, fascinating lecture on Mathesis.  Basically, as I understand it, that's this crazy system of Greek/Luriatic Kabbalah system designed just for for heretical Jewish/Greek mathematicians who are also devotees of Hermes.   As near as I can tell, Hermes made Sam do all the work of developing it, and then showed it to me, because Hermes is fucking awesome, and so is Sam, and I am very lazy.  Praise Hermes!  Really, seriously, it's super awesome.  It has a cool tetract-etz chaim that's sort of like the an inside-out iggulim.  Read about it!  (Side note: everyone at Crucible seems to think I'm way more Jew-ish than I actually am.)

So, now that I've told you all that, it's time for the main event, the Baphomet ritual!  But, it's quarter past midnight and I REALLY have to go to bed, so I'm going to have to write that part up in the morning.