Blade of the Art : Magical Daggers and Spirit Blades

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Hello fine reader, recently on the interwebs I was having a discussion about a previous post I made on the use of Blood in Conjuration of spirits. A delightful young lady brought up the subject of blades used in such rites, and how often times they will pick up or self generate a spirit of their own. I’ve found this to be the case over time of use, and the lack of study of this property in the western occult community sorely lacking. So, where do we start our quest for the spirit blade? How about in our own backyard, in the most unlike of places, the Mormon church.

The Smith family dagger was listed in the inventory of Hyrum Smith’s “relics.” An authorized biography of Hyrum Smith described the artifact as “Dagger, Masonic [—] ten inch, stainless steel—wooden handle—Masonic symbols on blade” (Pearson Corbett, Hyrum Smith, Patriarch, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1963, p. 453). Slides of the dagger were screened at the Sunstone Theological Symposium, August 24, 1985, Salt Lake City, Utah. Symbols on the blade are not “Masonic,” but they are used in ceremonial magic. One side of the blade has the seal of Mars. The other side of the blade has a symbol for the “Intelligence of Mars,” the zodiac sign for Scorpio and the Hebrew letters for “Adonai.” Occult books recommend the inscription of “Adonai” for those seeking a treasure-trove (Agrippa, Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, 1655, p. 81; Ebenezer Sibly, New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences, illustration opposite p. 1103; Francis Barrett, Magus, 1801, II:110). These magical signs were inscribed according to instructions for inscribing occult symbols (Henry Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, London: Gregory Moule, 1651, p. 245; Barrett, Magus, I: illustrations opposite pp. 143, 174; Melton, Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology, vol. 2, p. 1179). Mars is the governing planet of Smith Sr.’s birth year (1771).

The dagger is claimed by historian D. Michael Quinn to be associated with the practice of magic:
The big problem for Quinn is that a dagger is usually just a dagger. Everyone in the nineteenth-century frontier had at least one, and most people had many. Some daggers were inscribed; others were not. Daggers were bought and sold just like any other tool and could easily pass from one owner to another. Given the data presented above, we do not know when, where, or how Hyrum obtained his dagger, or even if he really did. Since there is no documentation on the dagger until 1963, it could have been obtained by one of his descendants after his death and later accidentally confused with Hy rum’s heirlooms. We do not know what it meant to Hyrum (assuming he owned it).

Was it simply a dagger with some strange marks? Was it a gift to him from a Masonic friend? All of this is speculation—but it is no more speculative than Quinn’s theories. Whatever the origin and purpose of the dagger, though, it is quite clear that, based on the evidence Quinn himself has presented, it does not match the magic daggers designed for making magic circles nor does it match the astrology of any of the Smiths.
Hamblin concludes that,
[D. Michael] Quinn, and those who have followed him, have completely misunderstood or misrepresented the purpose of the dagger. The inclusion of the astrological sigil for Scorpio means the dagger was designed for someone born under the sign of Scorpio. None of the Smiths was. Therefore, it was not made for the Smiths. Quinn demonstrates no understanding of talismanic magic. The inclusion of the talismanic sigils for Mars means it was designed to grant victory in battle or litigation. It was not designed for ceremonial magic or treasure hunting, as Quinn claims. Quinn cites sources from after 1870 as evidence for what the Smiths supposedly believed, while completely misrepresenting those sources. The only possible conclusion to draw from all this is that the dagger was made for an unknown person, and, if it somehow came into the possession of Hyrum Smith, it was obtained secondhand with the engravings already made. This conforms with the late Smith family tradition that remembers the signs on the blade as “Masonic” rather than magical.

Was this just a tool of the Art by a practitioner of the time? It is said of the blade the often it shines in dark places and at times seems to move on it’s own accord in the vault where it is kept, but this is just rumor, and the Mormons are quite sensitive when it comes to talk of magic in their history, so we must move on to a more well known spirit blade, at least in the East.

One of the oldest types of ‘medicine tools’from the shamanic traditions in the Himalayas is the phurba (phurbu or phurpa).Known variously as a demon dagger, magical knife, thunder nail, or diamond
spike, this three-sided blade is a powerful ritual implement used by shamans, magicians, tantrikas (tantric practitioners), and lamas of different ethnic backgrounds and spiritual orientations.Considered the ‘centre of the
shamanic universe’ for practitioners in Nepal’s Katmandu Valley, phurbas are widely used among peoples such as the Tamang, Gurung, and Newari TibetoBurmese tribes. They are also used by Sherpas, and Tibetans living in exile in Nepal (Bhotyas) or elsewhere in the world. Hence, these implements are a product of thousands of years’ influence by Hinduism, Buddhism, Bon, and the earliest shamanic traditions. The roots of spiritual practices using
phurbas are very ancient. To a Himalayan shaman, everything approximating a phallic form can be thought of as
symbolising a phurba, including the actual shaman. In turn, all phurbas can be traced back to the creator-god Shiva’s sacred phallus or lingam, which represents the primal energy of the universe.

 

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The deity most commonly associated with and invoked by the ‘thunder nail’ is Dorje Phurba, whose name means ‘Adamantine Dagger’ and who represents primordial awareness. In the older Tibetan traditions, he is a wrathful manifestation of the water element and an important protector who pierces the ignorance that lies at the heart of all anger, hatred, aggression, fear, and pride. Later Buddhist traditions absorbed Dorje Phurba’s attributes and represented him as a wrathful form of Padmasambava, the Tantric Buddha who first brought the teachings to Nepal and Tibet. In this form, the phurba’s spirit is seen as helping all beings remove the deep-seated blocks that hindered their path to Enlightenment. Hence the phurba came to represent a wrathful form of the compassionate activities that are fundamental to all Buddhas, and to play a central role in meditative practices. In Nepal Dorje Phurba is seen as an important helper spirit for shamans. In fact it is said the every Dorje Phurba has a spirit come to reside within it at it’s moment of creation, and only by using it to destroy ignorance can you keep that spirit happy and well fed.

The last type of Spirit Blade I’d like to talk about today are the most compelling artifacts when it comes to the discussion at hand. I am talking of the Kris, a distinctive, asymmetrical dagger indigenous to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the southern Philippines. Both a weapon and spiritual object, krisses are often considered to have an essence or presence, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad.
The kris spread from the island of Java to many parts of the archipelago of Indonesia, such as Sumatra, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, South Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and to the Southeast Asian areas now known as Malaysia, Brunei, southern Philippines, southern Thailand, and Singapore.

 

 

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Keris blades are usually narrow and have a wide, asymmetrical base. Blade length is highly variable. The blade is made from different iron ores and often contains nickel. A bladesmith, or empu, makes the blade in layers of different metal. Some blades can be made in a relatively short time, while more legendary weapons can take years or even a lifetime to complete. In high quality the metal of the blade has been folded dozens or even hundreds of times and handled with the utmost precision. There are keris blades that purportedly carry the imprints of the smith’s thumbs, or even lips, which were impressed upon the blade during the forging process. The different metals used to forge the blade gives the keris its distinctive ‘watered’ appearance.

This is called pamor and is similar in concept to Damascus patterning on Indo-Persian blades and “hada” on Japanese blades. Blades are acid-etched after forging to bring out the contrasting patterns formed by the various metals used in the keris. Iron ore sources are rare in some areas of the Malay world, especially in Java. The keris-smiths, called Empu (for those highly skilled smiths in the employ of Kratons, who can pass down their title of Empu to their sons) or pandai keris (for smiths of varying skill levels, working outside of kratons), often use myriad types of metal ores that they can find to make the blade. There are tales of blades made from meteorite iron (rare and highly prized due to its spiritual significance and higher nickel content) to scrap metals from vehicles, tools, railway tracks, captured Dutch cannons and blades, and in recent times, bicycle chains. Keris blades can be straight or sinuous. With sinuous blades, the bends are called luks. Most keris have fewer than 13 luks and the number of luks should be odd, or the keris would be considered unlucky. The sinuous blade has become synonymous with the keris, especially today as it has become a popular tourist souvenir. In reality more than half of the old keris have straight blades. The luks maximize the width of wound while maintaining its weight.
A keris and its sheath have many parts. The names for these parts vary by region. The following terms apply mainly to the Javanese keris. ukiran – handle/hilt; patra – handle carvings (especially on Javanese ukiran); selut – metallic cap on the ukiran (not on all krisses); mendak – metal cup on the tang between the ukiran and the blade guard; wilah – blade; pocok – blade point; peksi – tang; ganja – guard/parrying structure; wrangka – the wide, top portion of the sheath; gandar – the narrow portion of the sheath; pendok – a metal sleeve for the gandar; buntut- end of the pendok.
The ukiran and the sheath are often made from wood, though examples made from ivory or covered in gold sheets could be found. Different regions in Southeast Asian produce different styles of wilah, ukiran, and sheaths. One beautiful material used for some ukiran and wrangka was fossilized mammoth molar, called “graham”.

 

Discussing the essence of the kris is a complicated topic. For the most part, blades were considered to almost be alive in some cases, or at the very least vessels of special powers. Often they are named and considered a member of the household. Krisses could be tested two ways. A series of cuts on a leaf, based on blade width and other factors, could determine if a blade was good or bad. Also, if the owner slept with the blade under their pillow and had a bad dream, the blade was unlucky and had to be discarded. However, just because a blade was bad for one person didn’t mean it would be bad for another. Harmony between the owner and the kris was critical.
It was said that some krisses helped prevent fires, death, agricultural failure, and myriads of other problems. Likewise, they could also bring fortune, such as bountiful harvests and the like. Krisses could also have tremendous killing power. Some are rumored to be able to stand on its tip when its real name was being called by its master. I’ve personally seen a Kris move across a table at the sound of it’s name, and have been fascinated by them ever since. Legends tell of krisses moving on their own volition, and killing individuals at will. When making a blade, the empu could infuse into the blade any special spiritual qualities and powers the owner desires. It is a goal of mine to have one made, or to learn to make one, but perhaps I overreach.
Because some krisses are considered sacred, and they contain magical powers, specific rites needed to be completed to avoid calling down evil fates. For example, pointing a kris at someone is thought to mean that they will die soon, so in ceremonies or demonstrations where ritualized battles are fought with real krisses, the fighters will perform a ritual which includes touching the point of the blade to the ground to neutralize this effect.

 

Lastly, I leave you with a Javanese folk story of Arya Penangsang, the mighty viceroy (adipati) of Jipang who was killed by his own kris called Setan Kober (“devil of the grave”). It was forged by Empu Bayu Aji in the kingdom of Pajajaran, and had 13 luk on its blade. Near its completion when the empu tried to infuse the weapon with spiritual power, he was disturbed by a crying demon (djinn) from the graveyard. As a result, although powerful, the kris had a temperamental evil nature that caused the wielder to be overly ambitious and impatient.

The story took place in the 16th century, during the fall of Demak Sultanate that had replaced Majapahit as the ruler of Java. Setan Kober was safely kept by Sunan Kudus, one of the nine Islamic saints of Java. However Sunan Prawoto, son of Prince Trenggana and grandson of Raden Patah, stole it and used it to assassinate his uncle Raden Kikin by the river. Since then, Raden Kikin is also referred to as Sekar Seda Lepen (flower that fell by the river). Raden Trenggana rose as a sultan and later after his death, was replaced by Sunan Prawoto. Kikin’s son, Arya Penangsang of Jipang with the help of his teacher, Sunan Kudus, took revenge by sending an assassin to kill Prawoto using the Setan Kober kris. Prawoto younger sister Ratu Kalinyamat seeks revenge on Penangsang, since Penangsang also murdered her husband. She urged her brother in-law, Hadiwijaya (Joko Tingkir) the ruler of Pajang, to kill Arya Penangsang. Hadiwijaya sent his adopted son and also his son in-law Sutawijaya, who would later become the first ruler of the Mataram dynasty.

During a battle, Sutawijaya stabbed Penangsang with Kyai Plered spear right in his gut. Arya Penangsang is bathing in his own blood, and his intestines were hanging from his open wounded stomach. However, because Arya Penangsang is a mighty fighter that possess aji or kesaktian (spiritual power), he keep fighting with an open wounded stomach. He encircled his hanging intestines on his kris hilt, and continue to fight. When trying to attack his opponent, the reckless, fierce and impatience Panangsang pulled his Setan Kober off its sheath, foolishly cut his own intestines, and finally died.

The Javanese tradition of putting jasmine garlands around the kris hilt, especially on groom’s kris during the wedding ceremony, is said to originate from this tale. It is to symbolyze that the groom should not be reckless, easily get angry, impatient and abusive like Arya Panangsang. To replace the intestine, the kris is coiled with a floral garland of jasmine chain that resemble intestine. The jasmine is to symbolize sacredeness, patience, grace, humility, kindness and benevolence, the qualities lack in Panangsang. However another source mentioned that actually Sutawijaya admired Penangsang’s fighting spirits, still fighting although his intestine encircled around his kris. Impressed by Penangsang’s deed, later he command his male descendants to follow his step, adorned the kris with “intestine” made from the chain of jasmine, as a symbol of bravery.

I hope you have enjoyed this study, look for more to come on this subject in upcoming posts! Stay Gold everyone…

Sources : http://en.fairmormon.org/Question:_Was_a_%22magic_dagger%22_once_owned_by_Hyrum_Smith%3F, http://www.3worlds.co.uk/Articles/Phurbas.pdf, http://www.baliblog.com/travel-tips/bali-travel/balinese-culture/the-sacred-kris-indonesian-traditional-knife.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kris

Blade of the Art : Magical Daggers and Spirit Blades was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

The Blood is the life : Using the vital fluids in the Evocation of Spirits

 

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“And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.”- Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 16, Verse 6.

 

The Bathroom is dirty,lights flicker, a man in a leather jacket calmly walks in whistling “Easy” by The Commodores. He is wearing a Top Hat,a stained white buttoned down shirt rolled up at the sleeves,Red vest,black jeans,black boots. Turns and locks the door,walks to the sink and mirror like he owns the place,takes his Hat off with a flourish and puts it on the sink,stops whistling.Smiles at his reflection.He reaches in to his vest and pulls out 4 objects,lines them on the sink,a Straight razor, a zippo, a pack of camels and a small lead coin with something etched upon it.Takes a cigarette out, light’s it up, puts it on the rim of his Hat.In a soft respectful voice he chants-

 

“I lite this cigarette in the name of Belzebuth, in your honor do I send up this smoke in an offering to thee.”

 

He picks up the straight razor,then cuts his right arm with it,winces at the pain,then with his left hand draws the sigil with his blood on the mirror In a Strong,Commanding voice he calls out-

 

“In the Name of Belzebuth, King of the powers of Air,Prince of Demons,I inscribe your Signature in my own blood,to call upon you so that you may honor the pact we have Previously made.You who May send or avert plague or sickness, whose vessel is the fly, I adjure you……”

 

No, I’ve not lost my marbles, but thanks for asking. This is an example of a ritual that I’ve performed (I wrote this as the opening scene for a script), and it’s quite typical of off the cuff evocation that I prefer with spirits that I have a relationship with. I’m talking to you straight about using Cum, Blood, Shit and Piss in ritual magic. When you have no Incense, or powders, or magic wands, this form of Spirit working is the last resort.

 

But after a number of years, it becomes the quickest way to call something to you, but there is danger in speed. Now note, By this I am not talking about animal sacrifice but that does have a time and place. In fact, it is an all-purpose Taoist ritual tool. Useful for mixing chicken blood with ink to write talismans, to throw the blood at ghosts, to offer en toto to ghouls or demons who may be appeased by the chicken instead of attacking humans, and more. Whenever it looks like a living sacrifice is necessary, out comes a chicken. Which is a shame, because I could think of a few of the modern occultists that probably could’ve used a ritual murder. But I digress….

 

 

Most types of Demonolatry have all incorporated some form of blood letting or blood ritual.   the sacrifice, which is the act of making something sacred, of a few drops of your own blood as offering to deity is the most personal offering you can give. Not all Spirits demand or insist upon blood sacrifice, but most Taoist ones do, and many from the west expect it out of hand. As a matter of fact some prefer sexual fluids instead, and I will cover this later on.

 

Now please, don’t go cutting your Arm and bleeding out in some back Alley, if any of you try this and come crying to me, too damned bad, your horrible choices are not my responsibility. Spirits can and do feed off the ‘Vital force’ in blood, ( the bio electricity in the red blood cells ), but only if it’s fresh from the vein and you only have a 10 to 20 minute time window before the Gore loses it’s potency.

 

The human body stores about 5 litres of blood and after 2 litres have been lost, major organ failure occurs and it is pretty much the end, one way or another. Keep this in mind, when starting to work with this part of your essence .Blood, contains all the mysterious secrets of existence, no living being can exist without.

 

The Arabian Art workers thought It profaning the great work of the Creator to eat blood.” In his turn Moses, following the universal and traditional law, forbids eating blood. Paracelsus writes that with the fumes of blood one is enabled to call forth any spirit we desire to see; for with its emanations it will build itself an appearance, a visible body. The hierophants of Baal made deep incisions all over their bodies and produced apparitions, objective and tangible, with their own blood.

 

The followers of a certain sect in Persia, many of whom may be found around the Russian settlements in Temerchan-Shoura, and Derbent, have their religious mysteries in which they form a large ring, and whirl round in a frantic dance. Their temples are ruined, and they worship in large temporary buildings, securely enclosed, and with the earthen floor deeply strewn with sand. They are all dressed in long white robes, and their heads are bare and closely shaved.

Armed with knives, they soon reach a point of furious exaltation, and wound themselves and others until their garments and the sand on the floor are soaked with blood. Before the end of the “Mystery” every man has a companion, who whirls round with him. Sometimes the spectral dancers have hair on their heads, which makes them quite distinct from their unconscious creators.

 

The taboo connected with this subject, shows us how carefully guarded are its mysteries, as well as how powerful they can be. And we can add to this the taboo connected with a women’s menstruation, but I leave that to the Ladies to write upon. Feces can work well as material for evocation, but only when piping hot out the shoot. The time of use is quite long, 30 mins to an hour, but can only be used with Earth entities and the unsavory idea of it and our deeply implanted social aversion to the unclean makes this a difficult working to pull off. Sperm and vaginal fluids gathered after masturbation can be used in the calling of sexual and love dominion entities, but your window is even smaller (about 5 mins) and it often times works best as an accumulation offering with other methods to “Prime the Pump”, so to speak.

 

When it comes to urine, nothing is better for banishing an entity, if a brazier is lit at the start of a calling in the name of the spirit, and you feel that it has decided to hang out after you have asked nicely for it to leave, piss in the brazier commanding it to flee, as the fire goes out, so will the spirit. It goes without saying to only use your own Blood or Body leavings in such workings, if you disregard this advice and do something foolish with an animal or human being, the results could be destructive, outside of a very structured spiritual tradition like Vodun, Taoism or Palo Mayombe.

I hope some of you can put this info to good use, stay Gold Everyone.

Sources: Blood Evocation, paper by: Frater K.C. , The Grimorium Carceris by: Vincent Piazza (unpublished)

 

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The Blood is the life : Using the vital fluids in the Evocation of Spirits was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

READING OMENS like a Taoist Sage, I mean like a Boss!

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au·gu·ry
ˈôɡ(y)ərē/
noun
a sign of what will happen in the future; an omen.
“they heard the sound as an augury of death”

 
Augury and the reading omens is a big deal to the Taoist Wu. Signs can come to you in the natural world, and according to an ancient Han text, these observations are considered to be important Omens that all Taoist Wu and lay persons should watch for in their day to day life.Some may seem  familiar to the Western Occult Practitioner,but a few are quite odd and culturally peculiar. These omens are based on observing certain phenomena that occurs externally (in the Macrocosm) rather than internally (in the physical body). Have fun looking for ravens and magpies, and read those Omens like a Boss…

 
. Animals
• If a raven flies over one’s head Calamity will come

• If an owl is seen entering the house His visit does not come for nothing, change comes with him
• If magpies come before noon, They announce joys

• If magpies come after noon, There are demons about

 

House guests will come
• When wild magpies chatter
• When the cat washes its face
• If ants plunder and rob the nests of others ants – there will soon be rain

• If many mosquitoes fly against the wind, It will rain

 

. Candle /Lamp Flames
• If the flower of a candlewick snaps or flashes, ­ Wealth approaches
• If a lamp wick sputters and throws out sparks tonight -Happiness will arrive in the home tomorrow”

. Sky
• If a rainbow is observed in the East It indicates that fine weather is approaching

• If a rainbow is observed in the West It indicates that rain is approaching

• If the sky is observed as red in the morning ­ It indicates that it will rain in the afternoon
• If the sky is observed as red in the evening Fair weather is approaching

• If a halo is observed around the Moon It indicates that a wind Dragon (Typhoon!) is approaching

 

. Phantom Stars
According to the Miscellaneous Divination of Lu Fong,the Heavenly Patterns and Phantom Stars, observed in the Heavens could reveal the following:
• Red Colored Star: A Great army approaching, much death is coming
• Yellow Colored Star: Extremely long train of army soldiers approaching, but the land will be defended
• White Colored Star: Great mourning, illness, plague
• Green /Blue Colored Star: The condition of the annual harvest will be positive
• Black Colored Star: Approaching flood, buy a Ship!
. Miscellaneous
• When the stones under the house posts become wet – it indicates that rain is approaching
• Five days of rain or ten days of wind Are both good omens for winning at Gambling on the very next dry day (the term used was Mahjong ,but I bet it could apply to cards as well)
• A Six-petalled snow fall (I’m from the south, and haven’t a fucking clue what this means) – Indicates a good omen of an abundant year for prostitution !
• When eyes quiver and eyebrows grown long, somebody’s telling what you’ve done wrong

• When a woman in the state of Ch’i is abused, there will be no rain for three years

•A son should not live under the same sky as his fathers murderer, if he tries to, dogs will bark more often till he moves away or avenges his fathers death.

 

Stay Gold folks….

 

Source :A Manual Of Chinese Quotations: Being A Translation Of The Ch’êng Yü K’ao  by: Lu Fong

READING OMENS like a Taoist Sage, I mean like a Boss! was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

On the Great Work of Alchemy : East meets West

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While much of the Great Work of Alchemy, East and West, takes place deep inside the body and serves to restructure its functioning and refine its subtlety, there is also an intellectual dimension to the process that creates a new understanding of self and world and relates the practice to the larger rhythms of nature. For this, adepts learn to appreciate the cosmological patterns of the universe and see the world in terms of interrelated patterns, calendar cycles, complex numerology, and intricate networks of abstract symbols.

 
This, too, is typical for transformative traditions throughout the world.Adepts of Buddhist insight meditation, for example, are trained to see the universe as the ever changing interaction of flowing, swirling energies and to appreciate the key doctrines of suffering, impermanence, and no-self. Similarly, students of Western esotericism study the intrica­cies of Hermetic philosophy, following in the footsteps of Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Jacob Boehme, and Robert Fludd, and work with the com­plex system of the Jewish Cabbala. In all cases, the universe is reinterpreted to fit the new identity created through the practice and often intricate cosmologies and highly abstract symbols take the place of ordinary perception.

 
Internal alchemy works with three different cosmological systems. There is first classical Chinese cosmology, most prominently known from its application in Chinese medicine, that divides the universe according to the two forces yin and yang and understands their working in terms of the five phases. Next, there is the Chinese calendar and the understanding of the seasonal rhythms and patterns, the cycles of summer and winter, the sun and the moon, and the various phases of the Great Work associated with them. And third, there is the Yi Jing ,(Book of Changes), which serves not only to create a more detailed outline of alchemical timing but also provides the blueprint for the stages before and after creation and a powerful symbolism for internal energetic transformation.

 

The structure that underlies the yin-yang system is a form of correlative thinking, which is not unique to China but can also be found in other traditional cultures, such as ancient Greece, and in the West is still used in occultism, magic, and alchemy. It represents a basic pattern of the human mind, forms the foundation of more elaborate forms of logic, and is dearly present in the way we acquire language.

 
Developing an intricate set of correlative patterns, the yin-yang system provides a good basis for understanding the workings of qi in the world. To access its subtler movements, moreover, the system subdivides into five stages of development: minor yang-major yang-yin-yang-minor yin-major yin. These five are then associated with five organic substances that symbolize the different stages in the process: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. These, then, are known as the “five phases” and appear in integrated cycles of mutual production or control. Thus, for example, water makes things grow and produces wood, wood dries and becomes fuel for fire in a productive sequence; water extinguishes fire, fire melts metal, and so on, in the controlling cycle.

 

 

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In addition to the five phases as a fundamental cosmological underpinning, adepts of internal alchemy are also very conscious about the structure and patterns of time. They work closely with the four seasons which are marked by the solstices and the equinoxes, often beginning the Great Work at the height of yin at the winter solstice. Following this, they observe the so-called Eight Nodes, the solstices and equinoxes plus the beginnings of the seasons a system that roughly matches the festivals of Western pagan religion. In addition, they may work with twenty-four solar periods of about two weeks each that are named after weather patterns such as “great heat,” “slight cold,” “great rain,” and “slight snow” and also include the solstices and equinoxes. Alchemy in China has numerous similarities with that practiced in the West, both sharing an emphasis on the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the elixir of life, and the creation of the Philosophers’ Stone.

 

 

Traced back in its earliest beginnings to the Greek mysteries,notably associated with the gods Hermes and Dionysus, and to practices in Egypt under Greek and Roman rule, Western alchemy began to flourish in the early Christian era, focusing particularly on the rather obscure figure of Hermes Trismegisros, who supposedly lived around 100 C.E.. He is linked with an early document, the Tabula Smaragdina or Emerald Tablet, which outlines the basic principles: as above, so below; all material entities are of one matter; the sun and the moon are the parents of all things; the wind brings them to gestation; and the earth is their great nourisher. Realizing this truth in one’s own body and self, one can find the essence of nature and realize perfection within.

 
The ultimate goal of alchemy-in the West as much as in China-was therefore not just the material transmutation of one substance into another, but the attainment of perfect self-knowledge and participation in the divine through conscious and hypo-static union, the return to primordial chaos and reversal of the cosmogony. Employing multiple-layered symbolism, the philosophers’ gold also meant absolute and supreme reason, perfect universal truth, the sun, and the concrete precious metal.

 
Similarly, ­operative alchemy in China was not the mere mixing of noxious substances in secret cauldrons, but involved extensive physical and ethical preparation, medi­tations and visualizations, and was generally geared to return to the origins of the universe and serve the self-realization of the practitioner. One is no better then the other, each has it’s merits and faults. The one that lights your cauldron, that is the system you should choose and study.

 

Till next time everyone, Stay Gold..

Sources: Atwood, M. A., Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy,”Yoga and Daoyin.” in Daoist Body Cuftivation edited by Livia Kohn,Lindsay, Jack. The Origins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt., Internal Alchemy edited by Livia Kohn.

On the Great Work of Alchemy : East meets West was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

The Study of Dragon Bones: Thoughts on the origin of the I Ching and Bone Divination

shng-ora

 

In order to understand what lies at the basis of the ancient Chinese system of thought represented in the I Ching, we must investigate those extremely ancient and important objects, the oracle bones. I believe the ancient Chinese Taoists achieved the true form of natural divination for the time that they lived in.The two main Western techniques: oracles and extispicy (Discovery of the underworld, Descent into hell,Tarot and Oracular establishments, Divination by entrails)and  The two main Eastern techniques: I Ching and oracle bones (Book of changes, Oracle bones, Oracular hexagonal lattice),are not entirety as far apart as it would seem.In Kostas Dervenis’s book “Oracle Bones Divination”, He describes the practice of astragalomancy—the Greek divination system using the ankle bones of an animal (in this case, a sheep). According to Dervenis, this system possibly predates the Chinese I Ching by a few thousand years.Divination by examining animal scapulae and the cracks produced in them by heating is known from many different cultures and historical periods.

oracle-bone-shang

 

In Shang China, a bone or shell, having been carefully sawn to shape, was burnished on the obverse and had hollows chiseled out on the reverse. The application of heat to the hollows on the reverse produced characteristic ├ shaped cracks on the obverse; this is the origin of the Chinese character bu 卜 (‘to divine’). The diviner interpreted the cracks as the answer to his questions, which were engraved on the polished surface alongside the cracks. Some inscriptions were also colored in with red pigment.  The oracle bone texts are the oldest extant documents written in the Chinese language. They are inscribed on ox shoulder-blades and the flat under-part of turtle shells, and record questions to which answers were sought by divination at the court of the royal house of Shang 商, which ruled central China between the 16th and 11th centuries B.C. .There are about 5000 ancient ideographs, about half of which are recognizable as precursors of modern Chinese characters.

evolve

 

The bones and script were used in the practice of scapulomancy: the diviner would inscribe on the bone or shell his name, the current date of the sexagesimal cycle and then inscribe two possible outcomes on the shell. Depending on how the fired object cracked, diviners would interpret the answer from them.

For example:

“Test : Tomorrow it will rain”

“Test: Tomorrow it will not rain”

The outcome was then inscribed on the bone and saved. The inscriptions are known as jiaguwen (甲骨文) or oracle bone inscriptions.

According to legend, inscriptions found on the shell of a magic tortoise revealed the eight trigrams which became the basis of the I Ching. The tortoise crawled out of the Yellow River onto the bank where Fu Hsi, a sage/folk hero, sat in 3322 B.C.E. (Some legends refer to Fu Hsi as Emperor and others to the animal coming out of the river as a dragon.) Fu Hsi assigned the present names and imagery to these eight trigrams. A second sage, called King Wen by some sources, combined each of the eight trigrams with each of the other eight trigrams, resulting in sixty-four hexagrams. King Wen also added interpretations to the hexagrams. Later Confucius and/or his followers wrote additional commentaries on each hexagram.

oracle-bones

It is a remarkable fact that the existence of the oracle bones, the most important source of primary information about Bronze Age China, only became known as late as 1899. It was in that year that the antiquarian and philologist Wang Yirong 王懿荣 (1845-1900) first recognised the significance of fragments of bone and shell engraved with ancient script, which he is said to have found on sale in Peking as ‘dragon bones’ to be ground into a powder and used as a styptic agent. By 1903 the first book of rubbings of oracle bone inscriptions had appeared, and interest in them among collectors grew rapidly, enabling unscrupulous dealers, who were careful to conceal the ultimate source of the bones, to profit from the ignorance of enthusiasts by selling egregious fakes. Eventually the origin of the finds was revealed as a site, near the village of Xiaotun 小屯 near Anyang 安阳 in Henan Province, which had long been known as the location of the capital city of the later Shang dynasty, and where many Shang bronze vessels had also been found.

 

The discovery of the oracle bones, at a time when the veracity of China’s early historical records was being questioned by many scholars, caused immediate controversy. They confirmed the accounts given in the traditional histories about the Shang dynasty, whose very existence had been doubted, even validating the names and order of succession of the Shang kings. Some regarded the bones as a hoax, and it is certain that many of the early collectors fell victim to forgers. However, scientific excavations at Xiaotun, which were begun in 1928 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, established beyond doubt that the oracle bones were part of the Shang royal archive, dating from the period between 1400 and 1200 B.C. Favourable soil conditions have preserved the bones well, though in most cases they have broken into fragments. To date about 200,000 fragments have been excavated, some 50,000 of which bear inscriptions.

 

This is a fantastic system of Divination. I plan to devote much study and experimentation from the point of view of a modern practicing Taoist.  A set of tortoise Shells are being created for me by a Talented and skillful Artist who shall remain unnamed per her request.

Stay Gold Everyone….

References

https://prezi.com/eiwtmvgm0ld5/shang-dynasty-the-significance-of-oracle-bones/

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/mulu/bones.html

C. Aylmer, Origins of the Chinese Script, London, 1981, pp.12-20

E. Ruggles, Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, London, 1947, p.15

W.P. Yetts, ‘Memoir of the Author’ in L.C. Hopkins (trans.), The Six Scripts, Cambridge, 1954

Correspondence in the CUL archives between Prof. A.C. Moule and H.R. Creswick, July-October 1952

Report of the Library Syndicate for the year 1951-52, Cambridge University Reporter, Vol. 83, p.1577

F.H. Chalfant, The Hopkins Collection of Inscribed Oracle Bone, New York, 1939

 

The Study of Dragon Bones: Thoughts on the origin of the I Ching and Bone Divination was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

Fasting and Magical Practice, my thoughts on Ritual Purity Vs. Spiritual Coolness.

its-OK-i-practice-intermittent-fasting

 

I was reading a blog post by Aron Leitch called  Ritual Purity vs. Spiritual Coolness, and thought I’d chime in on the practice from a Taoist point of view.His post can be found here: https://aaronleitch.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/llewellyn-magick-blog-ritual-purity-vs-spiritual-coolness/

 

Gentle reader, you may or may not know this about me, but I fast quite regularly. Fasting is one of the principal tasks in a Taoists’ daily practice. The aim is for Taoist to keep their body clean and their Qi pure.This has nothing to do with giving up what you enjoy, but as Aron has written:

 

” the point of the ritual preparations (aka “purifications”) is to spiritually cool you down. Meditation; contemplation; prayer; seclusion; fasting; baths; cleaning the ritual tools and space; avoidance of sex, meat, and blood; etc. All of these result in a calm and cool body, mind, and atmosphere wherein the magick can take place.”

 

Mr. Leitch is ultimately correct in saying a calm and cool body and mind is a key factor in the calling of spiritual entities. Fasting existed long ago in ancient China, it is a much older practice then the Christian and Jewish form that is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, and is practiced by nearly every magical discipline. Often times In Western religions, fasts are observed as a counterpoint to feasts and celebrations, and as a form of penance and self-mortification. Mystics and saints combined intensive fasting with isolation and other practices to achieve ecstatic states in which they believed they attained union with God.

 

When dealing with the Left Hand Path and Fasting we must note that The practices of the left hand school of kaula tantra that attract the most attention from non-initiates involve the use of wine, meat, fish,physical gestures, and physical union. There is another component, which is less well known: fasting from these five makaras. I bring this up because often times those who approach the Left Hand Path in the west see it as a pass to get drunk, work with some Demon, become wild, and enjoy the company of Satan either in a secluded place or at a crowded road crossing.According to some practitioners, no restrictions and no discipline are required; simply be spontaneous and do anything you want.

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Now let me ask you something, isn’t that what your doing right now? has it brought any change to your life that has improved you in anyway?I mean the Left Hand Path is suppose to be all about improving the self, for the self.  How is it possible to improve the self and becoming a god if you can’t resolve these contradictions?To talk of the left hand school of kaula tantra once more, The only practitioners who have the authority to accept others as students are those who are purnabhishikta, literally “the one who has taken a complete bath.” This refers to a high level of tantric initiation, which is done by a master who is samrajyabhishikta, which means “one who is anointed as the emperor of all kaula tantrics”—and believe me folks, there are very few samrajyabhishikta tantrics. There are more purnabhishikta tantrics, although they too are quite rare. Assuming that you can find a purnabhishikta tantric who is willing to teach you, he or she will put you through an arduous discipline before you are taught how to worship Shakti with the five makaras.

 

 

This discipline involves a strict schedule of sleeping and waking, exercising, and either fasting or living only on havishyanna—rice mixed with ghee that is left over after the offering to the fire. You will also have to complete a lengthy course of japa—repeating a mantra thousands of times.In other words, you cannot just walk in and be initiated. This preliminary discipline is so rigorous (you may even call it torturous) that by the time you have completed it, your senses will have lost their taste for pleasure and your mind will no longer find charm in the outer world.

 

 

Taoist ideas on fasting are no less strict. The Book of Changes claims that to fast is to take preventive measures against wrong-doings to reform oneself thoroughly. In the book Mencius it is written: “Even a villain can worship the Higher Emperor so long as he fasts.” Records about fasting can also be found in several chapters of the Book of Rites. It is recorded in the Taoist cannon that to fast is to commune with spirits and ghosts. Ancestor Lu wrote “As one is going to fast, he or she must guard against everything evil and get rid of hobbies and desires. It would be better not to listen to music, not to worry about anything, and not to move with one’s hand and feet.”( I bet he was fun at parties…) Taoism inherited the skill of fasting for the purpose of restraining desire and to offer sacrifice to the spirits as well as to Heaven and Earth.

 

Most if not all the Grimoires from the solomonic tradition require Fasting as prior preparation of the operator before Evocation, some say three days, for others the duration is nine days before the beginning of the work .The operator must be purified with fasting , chastity & abstinency from all luxury the space of three whole days before the day of the operation. often we are told you should seek solitude as much as possible ( avoid social activities & stress ), have a fasting diet – raw vegetables ,only modest amounts of meat added as a side dish in the first 3-4 days. Interaction with the family & friends should be kept to minimum, sexual activity of any kind is to be strictly avoided!

 

The Book of Esoteric Explications of the Three Heavens written in the Liu Song dynasty of the epoch of division between South and North said: “To learn Tao, one must fast first. Thus one can keep one’s body clean externally and one’s mind empty and pristine internally, so much so that one ascends while the Perfected descend. Finally he and Tao will be one. A long time of fasting can help one communicate with the Perfect Tao without violating any taboos.”

 

 

Despite its long antecedents, fasting as a practice has been both secularized and harshly criticized in the modern Western world. Incorporated into fad diets and dubious health regimes, promoted as a health restoring miracle with irrational and questionable claims, fasting as a “diet” practice has been severely condemned by orthodox medicine with some justification. When fasting is practiced by political protesters and anorexics, its symptoms are chronicled with morbid sympathy by the news media and ideological writers. In a society obsessed with eating and food, very little is said about the spiritual implications – far less the magical ones – of fasting.Fasting is one of the most primal of the challenges we can set to ourselves, one which accomplishes several different objectives. It sharply outlines the limitations of our own self-control, and demonstrates to us the degree to which we are slaves to our own appetites and unconscious of our eating habits.

 

It draws our awareness toward the polarity between life and death.A magician fasts not in order to deny, but in order to use Will to create changes – the definition of Magic itself. At every stage in the fasting process, the adept is forced to confront a series of adversaries – psychological dependencies, bodily weakness, anger, fear, and loss. Fasting becomes a process of self-discovery and a doorway to self-transformation. Fasting deepens our appreciation of food as a privilege, a pleasure, and a gift. It demonstrates our dependency on arbitrary structures such as mealtimes for functioning on a daily basis. And finally, fasting very quickly produces an altered state of consciousness through physical stress, thereby following a pattern common in shamanic practices. By physically changing our bodies, fasting alters our spirits, and our ability to communicate with spirits.It can crack that opening and give us the key to journeys in other realms and to radically different forms of perception.

Dao Gods

Since the Tang and Song Dynasties, fasting has been closely connected with chanting scriptures and the calling of spirits,  which has always been a part of Taoists’ routine practice. The Collected Annotations of the Book of Salvation wrote that if one persists in fasting, burning joss sticks and chanting scriptures, one is sure to be rewarded with boundless fortune, for he has accumulated so many merits and virtues. On the one hand, fasting is powerful enough to eliminate natural disasters and ensure the king’s throne as well as blessings for the state. On the other hand, it can put an end to various poisons and save the common people from misfortunes.

 

Fasting has two functions in Taoist practice. Firstly, it is a step to cultivate the Tao. Taoist scriptures state: “Fasting is necessary for a Taoist to cultivate Perfection in a Taoist temple. Be careful about what you say and be prudent so as not to make mistakes. Then you may approach Tao.” The Taoist Wu believes that fasting is the root of Tao and the bridge of skills. If one is to cultivate Tao, he must fast and meditate on the cinnabar field, keep the perfect Tao in one’s mind, and then one’s desires disappear automatically.”

 

Secondly, it is a method of communicating with spirits. When it comes to fasting and reciting scriptures, Zhang Yuchu wrote in the Ten Taoist Winds: “Anyone cultivating Tao must fast for a clean body as well as a pure heart, and he must visualize the Spirits he would like to call and read Taoist scriptures silently in his mind. It is as if facing the Higher Emperor, communicating with him with the heart. Once concentrating on it with a pure heart, he will understand the perfect meaning of the Tao. If one reads aloud the scriptures in a clear and melodious sound, the Vital Breath will rise and harmonize smoothly, so one can accumulate merits quickly.

 

 

Generally for Taoists, it is encouraged to fast(vegeterian diet) on the first and fifteen day of the lunar month.On special days, such as a sage’s birthday, anniversaries and for a number of days before the time of rituals, it is important to fast too. There are even certain days set aside in the month whereby Taoists who are cultivating the Qi are encouraged to fast on these unique days at certain times of the day, but I’m not going to go into all of that here. In closing, I recommend the practice for any path, especially if you plan on working with spiritual entities of any sort. It can only help your practice.But don’t take my word for it, put down that hamburger for a day and try it for yourself!

Stay Gold everyone….

Fasting and Magical Practice, my thoughts on Ritual Purity Vs. Spiritual Coolness. was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

THE INFLUENCE OF MAGICAL LANGUAGE: Hat, Rabbit and Abracadabra

Rabbit and the Hat

 

All conversations are based on the understanding of words. In modem societies, speech is used to interact with others and exchange thoughts and beliefs. Language is the product of an individual’s beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and emotional processes. Language is symbolic. In order to be meaningful it calls on memory, sense, and imagination. Sometimes referred to as the “mirror of the mind,” language reflects what is currently manifested within the individual’s heart. There is a Taoist saying that states, “from the abundance of the heart – the mouth speaks.” It is the internal process of the heart and mind that shapes our behavior and determines the language that we choose to use. This is not only evident with individuals, but with groups of people as well.
In sorcery, we are taught that words and syntax (phrases) not only reveal, but they also have the power to influence. Language shapes internal processing, which in tum shapes behavior and emotions. Taoist magic is rooted in the power of words and incantations.Both written and spoken words are quite essential to the Art.  For example, incantations are used to either summon various Celestial Immortals, Kings of Hell and Marshal Generals to come, or can be used to command ghosts and evil demons to leave; words of power can also be used to either purify and cleanse an altar area, or to seal off and restrict a sacred area.This is universal when it comes to the Art east or west, the Vox Magi can be used for a number different reasons and not all of them in the ritual chamber. This makes them no less magical, and at times the view of the “real” and the stage magician can blur and shift. This causes some Art Practitioners that I know of fantastic distress and they will go to great lengths to disassociate themselves from the Common Conjuror or Prestidigitator. I’m not that magical Dude, we owe a great deal to the Mountebank and Stage Illusionist for the skill in how we use words in magic, and I agree wholeheartedly with the Temple of Set on the designation of Lesser and Greater Black Magic:

Lesser Black Magic (LBM) is the influencing of beings, processes, or objects in the objective universe by the application of obscure physical or behavioral laws.LBM is an impelling (encouraging, convincing, increasing of probability) measure, not a compelling (forcing, making inevitable) one. The object if to make something happen without expending the time and energy to make it happen through direct cause-and-effect.

Greater Black Magic (GBM) is the causing of change to occur in the subjective universe in accordance with the will. This change is the subjective universe may cause a similar and proportionate change in the objective universe.

If I can force some fool causing trouble to walk out of my shop with a few words spoken in Enochian and a bit of hypnotism, without having to put hands on him, then I’ve succeeded in the Art, and didn’t have to bug Belzebuth with something I could take care of myself with skill and guile. A prime example of the this is a Magical Word that has fell out of favor these days (but the Hat and I are bringing sexy back), “Sim Sala Bim”. this phrase was first used in magic by Dante the Magician, a.k.a Harry August Jansen one of the most well known magicians of the early 20th century, whose death is commonly considered the end of the “Golden Age” of magic. He utilized the phrase as a means of acknowledging applause, as well as for the title of his touring magic shows. Apparently, in typical audience whoring fashion, he claimed that the words meant “a thousand thanks”, and that the more people applauded, the more ‘Sim Sala Bim’ thanked them. Although this nonsensical combination actually originates as filler in German nursery rhymes, including one specific folk melody called “High on a branch a cow”, this phrase grew to be representative of the integration (and manipulation) of the mysterious Eastern culture, specifically Indian, in an effort to employ a sense of mysticism in illusionist’s acts. This device of Eastern supernatural typecasting in Western culture, and in fact these exact words, were used as early as the medieval period, in the play Robyn Hode: A Mummer’s Play, wherein the Turkish magician Saracen states: “I have here a potion, brought from the east. It is called the golden elixir, and with one drop I will revive Robyn Hode with these magic words: ‘Sim Salabim.’ Rise up young man and see how your body can walk and sing.” This othering attachment has continuously followed sim sala bim, just as it has for a better known pair of words, Abracadabra and Hocus Pocus. How could I not bring up words of Magic without the old Abracadabra, supposedly first recorded in approximately 2nd century C.E., the actual genesis of the word seems to have much earlier beginnings in Semitic language. It is strikingly similar to the Aramaic avra kehdabra (“I will create as I speak”), to Hebrew words ab (“father”), ben (“son”), and ruach acadosch (“holy spirit”), and the Chaldean abbada ke dabra (“perish like the word”). These theories lead to the aforementioned appearance in the 2nd century, when Quintus Serenus Simonicus recorded it in his colloquial medicinal poem as a cure for warding off illness, which was thought to be caused by malignant spirits living in the body. I know, dear reader, not to worry, I won’t leave out Uncle Al and his change of abracadabra to abraHadabra (due to geometry and qabbalistic number manipulation any Rabbi would be proud of) calling it the “magical formula” of a new age, ruled over by Ra-Hoor-Kuit, a form of the Egyptian death god, Horus.  Thelema has used the word ever since as a symbol of the “establishment of the pillar or phallus of the Macrocosm…in the void of the Microcosm.” Modern Thelemites are still searching for the ability to truly harness the power of abrahadabra, but you will have to ask someone more well versed on this subject like Lon Milo Duquette for the progress in this area.

One of the more commonplace Magical terms,Hocus Pocus, at times seems to be with us from the moment we spring from the womb. This ancient combination, like abracadabra, has a fairly ambiguous back story, with multiple theories as to exactly where and when this term originated. Some think that it is merely a fake Latin incantation, hax pax Deus adimax, used, like the Indian mystique, to create a certain authoritative otherworldliness to the particularly magicians tricks. Another, far more interestingly controversial conjecture is that hocus pocus is a parody on the Roman Catholic rites of communion, specifically the incantation occurring at the moment of the transubstantiation of the Eucharist , hoc est enum corpus meum (so the magician, as priest, brings out the rabbit, as Jesus’s body, from the hat, as wafer). Yet another theory is that these words derive from the Norse magician/demon, Ochus Bochus, and that the incantation is calling out his spirit to help with the magic. Although the word has come to mean trickery with an extreme connotation of bogus, hocus pocus is one of the oldest terms used specifically by conjurers and illusionists of all sorts as a magical incantation. So just remember ladies and gentlemen, we can’t just take for granted that the words we use are simple mundane sounds, they are all magical and can be used as such by those with the skill and vision to see the trick of it.

I Leave you with the words of Captain Marvel:”When Billy Batson speaks the name of an ancient wizard, he is magically transformed from boy to man—the world’s mightiest mortal!”Shazam!

Art; Rabbit and the Hat-Copyright Vincent Piazza 2015

THE INFLUENCE OF MAGICAL LANGUAGE: Hat, Rabbit and Abracadabra was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand