Monday, March 23, 2015

Jupiter Noise

As most of you know, I've been doing a lot of experiment with trance-induction noises and audio rituals.  If you haven't tried my "Descent of the Seven Gates" ritual to induce past life memories, you can try it here.  NOTICE:  This ritual is for EXPERIENCED TRANCE WORKERS ONLY!  It DOES NOT include guidance on exiting the underworld once you are there.  There's a beginner's version here:   http://traifbanquet.blogspot.com/2015/03/ereshkigal-great-lady-underground.html

In conjunction with Jason Miller's Strategic Sorcery "alumni" group (which is AMAZING; admission to the group would be worth the price of the classes, even if the classes weren't awesome, and they are.  BUY THEM!), I did a Jupiter rite this Friday evening.  I can't disclose the full details of the ritual, because it's a group-only secret, but part of it involves the chanting mantra "Iovis Optimus Maximus".

I made a Jupiter mantra chanting sound that I'm really quite proud of.  In this recording, you'' hear some thunder noises, several layers of me chanting, a friend chanting,  Michael Drake drumming a "lightning" rhythm, and two layers of Jason Miller (he's intoning "ewww", the sound of the Greek letter upsilon, classically associated with the celestial sphere of Jupiter, and also him chanting the mantra), and our friend Bela Belladonna doing some chanting.

Listen or download here: Jupiter.mp3






Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ereshkigal: The Great Lady Underground

Many of you know that I've been working with Ereshkigal for about a year.  Today I want to tell you about her.  Although she is often considered a fearsome goddess, and often treated as a sort of Queen of Demons, that has not been my experience of her at all.  While she has a "wrathful form", all skeleton and snake and guttering torch, it is her "beneficent form" that reached out to me.  In this form, I am tempted to associate her with the so-called "Black Madonna", Our Lady Underground.  She is Restful Peace, offering solace from grief and time to heal.

Classically, Ereshkigal is the daughter of Anu (Grandfather Sky) and Nammu (Grandmother Ocean), the twin of Enki, the Lord of Earth, the master-craftsman, god of learning, civilization, and magic.  Like almost all mythological twins, they (to some extent) represent light and dark, day and night, knowledge and wisdom.  Although she is often referred to as Ishtar's sister, I understand her to actually be her godmother/initiator.

No known portrayals of Ereshkigal survive, although some people associate her with the "Queen of Night" relief.  

There is one image that I associate with Ereshkigal.  I wish I was a painter, so that I could better convey it to you.  While it had been sort of swirling about in my head since the night I met Ereshkigal, it wasn't until quite recently that it began to crystallize.  Vision is not my strongest sense; I am far more likely to hear a spirit than to see it, most of the time.  In any case, it was when I saw this (fragment of a) figurine, recovered from the neolithic site at Catalhoyuk, Turkey that my vision snapped into focus.

In my vision, a great goddess, dark skinned, very fat, possibly pregnant, pendulous breasted, her hair dark, thick, tangled, possibly in dreads, the ends glowing like embers.  She is spinning.  With each rotation, she is consumed in flame, and her flesh falls away, only to remerge as she continues to spin.  Behind her, is are seven wide, black stairs up to the dais of her throne, shining onyx, snakes entwined on the arms.

I realize, as I write this, that while I told you I first met Ereshkigal last winter, that's not true at all.  I met her when I was about 12, in the Tombs of Atuan with Tenar.

If you'd like to journey to meet her, here is an audio recording I've made to help facilitate it.  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_upeofrIpFJb2RKaVBfaFQ1WEU/view?usp=sharing

WARNING:  The Underworld is not to fuck around with.  Particularly if you don't have experience with trance work, you should take this seriously.  I've already gotten one "What the fuck did I get myself into." email.

Dreaming of Sabazios

Sabazios, the Great God on Horseback of the Phrygians, first appeared to me in a dream about a week ago.

In the dream, I was in a desert, the wind was howling.  I was all alone, and I was scared.  Ereshkigal appeared, her cloak whipping in the wind.  She raised her hands to the sky, and I hear hoofbeats in the distance.
I couldn't find artist info for this picture.
If you know it, please leave info in the comments.
A man who looked almost exactly like Khal Drogo, appeared, riding a HUGE black horse, with a white diamond on its third eye.  He stopped ahead of me, and laughed, a huge booming laugh like thunder.  "What a fine body you have chosen for me!  So large and so dark and so famous!"  [At this point, I knew he was Sabazios, although, honestly, I'm not sure where I'd even heard that name.]

Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones
In the way of dreams, next thing I know, I am riding on a giant pig, next to Sabazios on horseback.  We gallop through the desert, over dunes, over mountains, onto a broad grassland plain.
Concept art from The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
In the steppes, I am standing next to Sabazios, who is still on horseback.  He sweeps me up onto the horse's back.  I haven't ridden a horse since I was little, but I used to love it.  Ereshkigal takes the pig, and slits its throat while Sabazios and I are "occupied".  The hot blood sprays over us.  I wake up.

I wake up in my yurt, and rush to the Temple of Sabazios to tell them my dream, and to demand a blessing.  At first, they don't want to let me in (I think because I am a virgin?), but I tell them that my uncle Haran (*) is the high priest.  They admit me into the Temple courtyard.  It is made of tan brick.  There is a large rectangular reflecting pool.  Around the edges are arches and columns.   I wake up again, for real this time.

(*) Haran is a brother of Abram and Sarai in the Bible.  He is the uncle of both Isaac and Rebekkah.









Thursday, March 12, 2015

On the Infinite 1: What My Father Taught Me

For many years, I have been toying with the idea of writing a small book of meditations and reflections on infinity.  A recent conversation with Jason Miller has prompted me to actually start writing.  Here's a little teaser.

On June 4, 1925, the Westphalian Mathematical Society held a conference in honor of Karl Weierstrass.  At that conference, David Hilbert gave a famous speech which has since become known as "On the Infinite".  In that speech, Hilbert said "...the definitive clarification of the nature of the infinite, instead of pertaining just to the sphere of specialized scientific interests, is needed for the dignity of the human intellect itself.  From time immemorial, the infinite has stirred men's emotions more than any other question.  Hardly any other idea has stimulated the mind so fruitfully, and yet no other concept needs clarification more than it does." (1)

I could not possibly agree with Dr. Hilbert more.  Of all the subjects I teach, none so enraptures my students, and none so infuriates them, as those concerning infinity.  Although I have studied the infinite for almost 30 years, I too am endlessly befuddled, inspired, and illuminated by its mysteries.  My father first introduced me to the notion of infinity when I was about 8, with (a version of) the follow teaching.  In the years since, the infinite has been my constant joy and my beloved companion.   It is my hope to share some of that with you.  I begin where my father did, with the parable of Ugg the caveman.

"Imagine that you are a caveman.  Your name, perhaps, is Ugg, and you have seven children, Moot, Shem, Zok, Tov, Boka, Nim, and Tee.  You, however, do not know that there are seven, because counting hasn't been invented yet.  One day, as you make your way through the wilds, you come upon a tree, heavy with apples.  You eat one, and the sweetness explodes in your mouth.  You gather some, to take home to your children, but then you pause.  As all parents (and all people who have siblings) know, this could be a problem!  If there are not enough, the children will fight over them.  If there are any extra, the children will fight over them.  And yet, how are you to know how many to gather?  You sit at the base of the tree and think long and hard, and finally inspiration awakens inside of you.  "For Moot" you say, and put an apple in your basket.  "For Shem", and you take another apple.  "For Zok, for Tov, for Boka and Nim," you recite, putting apples in your basket.  "And finally for little Tee!"

You give praise to the Apple Tree, the inspirer of science, and return to your cave, where you produce exactly one apple for each child, much to the wonder of all.  In the days that follow, you explain your method to all your people.  Days follow days, and the moon grows and shrinks many times.  You apply your new method not just to apples, but to days, and to moons.  You learn the cycles of nature.  You know when the moon will shine and when she will hide her face.  You know when the rains will come, when the cold will abate, when the river will flood its banks, and when the apples on your beloved Tree Teacher will ripen.   You know how many bison are coming up the river, and how many hunters to take; how long you have to prepare for winter.  You become a shaman and a teacher; the number-wisdom has brought previously unfathomable prosperity to your people.  The apple tree has taught you many mysteries, but there are ones you cannot fathom.  
How many numbers are there? Which are there more of, breaths in the sky or drops in a river?  Who has more children, the Mother of Grassblades or the Mother of Stones?  You are old now.  Almost too old to count your years.  You sit beneath your beloved teacher one last time, and you begin to number the stars."

This, my father taught me, was the essence of infinity, that it goes on and on forever, unbounded(2) and unbroken.  And yet, like Ugg, I wondered if all infinite things were the same size.  Which is larger, the set of all counting numbers, or the set of all integers (negative, zero, and positive whole numbers)?  Both are infinite, and yet certainly there must be twice as many integers!  And so my father (who was a mathematician himself) continued to teach me.

To begin to answer the question, we have to look back at Ugg's insight.  The only way we can know for sure that two things are the same size is to set up a one-to-one correspondence between them, like Ugg did between his children's names and the apples.  Once we think of it that way, it's quite obvious that the integers (positive counting numbers) and the even numbers are the same size.  We match 0:1, 1:2, -1:3, 2:4, -2:5, 3:6, -3:7... Because both the counting numbers and the integers go on forever, we never run out.  We have matched every single integer to a counting number, and so just like Ugg knew there were the same amount of apples as children, we can be sure there are just as many counting numbers as there are integers.

What about more complicated kinds of numbers, like fractions?  Surely we can't list the fractions like that!

Imagine a grid of fractions, like this:



Not only is every positive fraction on the grid, each is there infinitely many times, since, for example, 1/2 = 2/4 = 3/6 ...

Now, in order to match this grid to the counting numbers, we need to rearrange it into a linear list, which we can do like this (skipping the ones we've already listed):



Yet again, we've decided that, even though it seemed MUCH larger, our expanded set was no bigger.  This might lead you to the conclusion that all infinite things are the same size.

Here, I proved for you that isn't true; some infinite things are bigger than other infinite things.

I leave you with a short trance contemplation inspired by this lesson:

Take several deep, long, slow breaths, close your eyes, and bring your awareness to the center of your body.

Imagine a string of lights extending from the center of your body up into the heavens.  It doesn't matter if you can actually see them or feel them, just imagine that you can.  You might want to align the first few with your higher chakras, if you're into that kind of thing.  The lights do not end at the top of your head, they continue, up, up, up... past the planets, past the stars, past endless galaxies, to the center of the universe.  And yet, even then, they extend, infinite but countable, an endless sequence of lights, twinkling in unison, like the christmas tree of life. :)  When you've stabilized this imagining, abide in it a little while, and then return your focus to your center, but allow the lights to remain.

Slowly, one at a time, beginning with the one just above your center, match each light above with a light below, twice the light, and yet no more.  The lights go down, down, down, through your feet, through the earth, to the center of the world, and yet they do not end there, they extend, further and further, never ending, never fading, an infinite sequence of lights.  When you've stabilized this imagining, abide in it for a little while, and then return your focus to your center, allowing the lights to remain, both above and below.

One at a time, spiraling out from your center beginning with your right hand, parallel to the ground, imagine a vast 2 dimensional grid of lights, parallel to the ground.  Match each of these lights with a light on your center-line, infinitely more light, and yet still no more.  When you've stabilized this imagining, abide in it a while, and then return your focus to your center, allowing the lights to fade.

Once you're good at this, try filling in the third dimension by raising and lowering your grid so that it intersects every light on the first string.

Eventually, with some practice, you'll get good at that too.  Once you can keep the entire three-dimensional world full of lights, add a fourth dimension, perpendicular to the three you already have.  The exact nature of this is left as an exercise to the reader. :)   (Hint: Start by both spinning each individual light while allowing the entire field to rotate in the opposite direction.)





(1) The talk is somewhat more technical that this quote might make it appear.  I'll discuss some of the more complicated aspects in later chapters.

(2) OK, ok, you're right!  Something can be unbounded and still finite.  Google "elliptical geometry" if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hermes Working for Safe Travel

Tomorrow, lots of us will be traveling to Maryland for the Sacred Space / Between the Worlds conference.  Turns out Maryland is expecting a blizzard tomorrow.  So....

Tonight, Wed March 4th, during the hour of Mercury (about 8pm-9pm in the NYC area.  Check your timing here.) several of us will be working some safe travel magic.  If you'd like to participate, message me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sara.mastros

You can also preform this ritual anytime you like by yourself.  If you can't or don't want to do the ritual, just make yourself a copy of the sigil at the bottom, and put it in your car.

This is a barebones ritual; you can elaborate on it however you like.  The important part is the chanting and the sigil.  Please use the chant exactly as written and focus on the sigil.  That's what helps tie all our magics together.

Ideally, you'll want a small stone of some kind, and a permanent marker.  If you don't have a rock, a coin will work fine too, or even a piece of paper. If you're using something that's not a rock, remember to rename it "little stone" at the beginning.  Some incense, a small bowl of water, some salt, and a candle are also used, along with a splash of oil (olive oil is best).  If you don't have any of those things, you can just chant while looking at the sigil.

Begin by preparing yourself for magic in your usual fashion.

Draw the symbol of Mercury on the stone with the marker.


Light the candle and the incense, and arrange them, along with the stone and bowl of water in front of you in a pleasing fashion.

Say (something like):
Beloved Hermes, friend and teacher, protector and guide, keeper of the crossroads and messenger between the worlds, come now at my call.  Attend to me here, and to all who call you.  Keep me safe as I travel, me and all who bear your sign.  This little rock will be our compact, this little rock will be your Herm.

Pick up to stone and say (something like):
Little stone, be every stone, be the foundation of my Herm, the guardian of my way!  I will carry you with me as I journey, and when I arrive, I will build of you a pillar, a marker, a Herm.  Yours will be a great destiny; you will be beloved of the great god Hermes!

Pass the stone through the smoke and say (something like)
Creature of earth, my beloved little stone, draw sustenance from this smoke.  Let it empower you!  Carry the breath of Hermes within you!  All the powers of air are yours, little stone, awake to them, and use them to keep me safe as I travel, me and all who bear your sign!  Hermes, Hodios, Mercury, Stone!

Pass the stone through the candle flame and say (something like)
Creature of earth, enlivened by air, draw sustenance from this fire!  Let it empower you!  Carry the flame of Hermes within you!  All the powers of fire are yours, little stone, awake to them, and use them to keep me safe as  I travel, me and all who bear your sign! Hermes, Hodios, Mercury, Stone!

Sprinkle some water on the stone and say (something like)
Creature of earth, enlivened by air, enlivened by fire, draw sustenance from this water!  Let it empower you!  Carry the blood of Hermes within you!  All the powers of water are yours, little stone, awaken to them, and use them to keep me safe as I travel, me and all who bear your sign!  Hermes, Hodios, Mercury, Stone!

Drip some oil over the stone.
Little stone, creature of earth, creature of air, creature of fire, creature of water, you are a Herm to the great god Hermes.  I pour out oil upon you.

Hold the stone in your hands, and stare at the sigil below.  If you can hold the image in your head, close your eyes and imagine it, glowing and pulsing.  If you can't, just keep staring at it.   Chant the following a minimum of 8 times.  108 times would be great (which is the number of beads on a Buddhist mala).  As you chant, feel the power of Hermes in the stone, thrumming and pulsing, imagine the marker symbol you draw growing and changing, pulsing and thrumming, turning into the seal below.

The chant:

Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Hermes, Hodios, Mercury, Stone


The sigil: