Retail Frustration

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I find frustrating in live or web occult retailers. Everywhere I go in this country I see white light, glittery fairy stuff, and not, say, the tools I need to call angels and demons, or walk the planes or carve out a small patch of sacred space. Hell, one store in Salem offered me a letter opener when i needed a cross-hilt dagger! Am I really in such a minority that quality tools have to be handmade for lack of a market? I don’t think so.

I think there are hundreds of magicians out there in need of quality ritual implements and I want to hear from you. What are you looking for and not finding? What do you find but not in the quality you want? what correspondences are you trying to match? or conversely, what do you craft for sale that pixie stores won’t offer?

Why can’t I get a statue of a licentious murder goddess carved by hand during the appropriate hours of the day or night on a specific day of the week during the chosen phase of the moon? What makes them think I want a resin cast of my gods when I can have their corresponding stone or wood, hand-crafted with love not mass produced? Why settle for print outs of the enochian tablets?

What say you?

Reflection

We come from many different places in the Order; we have different likes, dislikes, dreams, practices, and beliefs. One thing that we do have in common is a desire to unite with the Divine.

“For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.” — Liber AL vel Legis, I:29

I do not refer to that Bliss, exactly, not that Perfect Happiness, but to the little b bliss: that which we can spend our time, blood, sweat, and tears on to aid in reaching that happiness… that goal which we each support the other in their way of gettting there; that thing we each struggle to find and define for ourselves.

“Into the woods
and down the dell,
the path is straight,
I know it well.
Into the woods,
and who can tell
What’s waiting on the journey?”
— Steven Sondheim’s Into the Woods

As Thelemites, it is incubant upon us to seek that, and when we find it, to do that thing and not the myriad other amusements that tempt us from our path. We spend years in self-reflection trying to determine what this bliss is, sometimes catching glimpses, impressions, or feelings of that next step which will bring us closer to our goal.

In all that time, have you asked yourself what price you are willing to pay? Will you sacrifice the love and companionship of friends or family that actively work against your goal? Will you spend the years of effort, eschewing the quick and easy rewards, for your ultimate goal? Will you cast the dice, gambling your comfortable existence to answer the call of your soul?

Will you uproot yourself, spending your life savings, moving to a new city to build a new life, when that inner voice tells you to do so? Will you stand by your decision in the face of friends’ and family’s concerns and fears on your behalf or the offer of more money to stay where you are, continuing to do that thing which you have determined to not be in line with your will, even if you are good at it?

“When you flip anything, you really… you just have to have the courage of your convictions.”
— Julia Child, The French Chef

We must all ask, sometime or another, what price bliss?

Virtues and Precepts or Using the Tools of Our Heroes…

Benjamin Franklin took the 18th century by storm through the persistent attempt to apply Thirteen Precepts and Virtues in his life.  They are:

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing
  6. Industry: Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly
  8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think you deserve
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation
  11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable
  12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

As every good magician should, I have developed my own to follow or to which to aspire, with Thelemic quotes to explicate.

  1. Courage: “Fear is failure and the beginning of failure and courage is the beginning of virtue”-Liber Librae: The Book of Balance
  2. Silence: “For thereby we mean not the Muteness of him that hath a dumb Devil. This Silence is the Dragon of thine unconscious Nature, not only the Ecstasy or Death of thine Ego in the Operation of its Organ, but also, in it’s Unity with thy Lion, the Truth of thy Self.”-Little Essays Toward Truth
  3. Mastery or Will: “The aim of him who would be Master is single; men call it Personal Ambition. That is, he wants his Universe to be as vast, and his control of it as perfect as possible…the proper method of extending one’s universe, besides the conventional apparatus of material Science, is tripartite: evocation, invocation, and vision. Control is a matter of theoretical and practical acquaintance with Magical Formulae, but notably also of Self-Discipline.” -Little Essays Toward Truth
  4. Service or Work: “I am He. Speak not, O my God! Let the work be accomplished in silence…Lazily, hungrily, ardently, patiently; so will I work.”- Liber Liberia vel Lapidis Lazuli, and obviously, “…with us Government is Service, and nothing else.”- Liber CXCIV: An Intimation with Reference to the Constitution of the Order
  5. Sincerity: “The sincere king may sacrifice with joy ” SUI – The 17th Hexagram, and “Falsehood is invariably the child of fear in one form or another.”-Confessions of Aleister Crowley
  6. Equilibrium: “Learn first-oh thou who aspire unto our ancient Order!-that Equilibrium is the basis of the Work. If thou thyself hast not a sure foundation, wherein wilt thou stand to direct the forces of Nature?” -Liber Librae
  7. Cleanliness: “Cleanliness is next to godliness and it had better come first.”- Magick in Theory and Practice
  8. Harmony: “For Perfection abideth not in the Pinnacles, or in the Foundations, but in the ordered Harmony of one with all.”-Liber LXI vel Causae
  9. Chastity: “Chastity may thus be defined as the strict observance of the Magical Oath; that is, in the Light of the Law of Thelema, absolute and perfected devotion to the Holy Guardian Angel and exclusive pursuit of the Way of the True Will.”-Little Essays Toward Truth
  10. Knowledge: “Nevertheless have the greatest self-respect, and to that end sin not against thyself. The sin which is unpardonable is knowingly and willfully to reject Truth, to fear knowledge lest that knowledge pander not to thy prejudices.”-Liber Librae
  11. Change or Growth, Going, Evolving: “The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. ” and further, “Of all important doctrines concerning equilibrium, this is the easiest to understand, that change is stability; that stability is guaranteed by change; that if anything should stop changing for the fraction of a split second, it would go to pieces.”-Liber Librae

Words, words, words… a meditation on meaning

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Today’s A.Word.A.Day is refulgent meaning shining brilliantly.  This reminded me of a poem by my favorite vampire from his pre-vamp foppish days:

“My soul is wrapped in harsh repose,
Midnight descends in raven-colored clothes,
But soft… behold!
A sunlight beamButting a swath of glimmering gleam.
My heart expands,’tis grown a bulge in it,
Inspired by your beauty…
Effulgent.”

But as you can see the word was effulgent meaning what?  Yes, shining brilliantly.  Two words of similar make-up meaning the same thing.

Would refulgent not better embody its original meaning of re- (back) fulgere (to shine), rather than be wasted with meaning effulgent?  Refulgent is more of a reflection of brilliance than an actual brilliance of its own.  Ef- a variant of ex- (from, out of) fulgere (to shine).  Both ending in -ent a variant of -ant (characterized by).

As far as I am concerned, refulgent is henceforth the reflection of brilliance (or a brilliant light) and effulgent is that which shines brilliantly.  Note how in the poem by William the Bloody, above, how Drusilla’s beauty shines brilliantly in its own right, it does not act as the mirror to reflect another’s beauty.

The opening verse to the poem by Allen Tate, “An Elegy for Jefferson Davis”, illustrates the proper use of refulgent, I think:

“NO more the white refulgent streets,
Never the dry hollows of the mind
Shall he in fine courtesy walk
Again, for death is not unkind.”

The streets did not shine brightly on their own, they reflected the light of the sun.

I am effulgent as a star among stars, within the company of heaven; I shall strive to be refulgent in my daily life, as it is my most worthwhile duty and joy.

Love is the law, love under will.

Leadership

In April, I attended the Leather Leadership Conference where I gave a presentation on how to run a small conference or seminar.  I have a penchant for such events.  I run a small leadership seminar twice a year for the U.S.Grand Lodge, so I have some experience with them.  The thing about these types of events is that they should model the best of that particular community or system.

This one did not even come close to meeting my minimum standards, but I saw a good class or two and enjoyed hanging with my friends, so it wasn’t a total loss, but it was an embarrassment from the opening ceremonies to the end when I skipped out early to head to the OC for Mass.

It began with a video countdown to the event in question, I assume showcasing the Leather Community in the area hosting us (Los Angeles), where I saw five minutes of photos making it apparent that women have no place or standing in the LA leather scene.  This at an event where almost half of the attendees, volunteers, and speakers were female.

This was followed by a jaded, vindictive, old leather man ruining his standing as an elder in the community, in my estimation, by bashing the National Board for doing their jobs to the frustration of the local planning committee.  What was really sad about this was that I think he had some really good points about educating the community at large via the internet and making the classes onsite worth the price of admission, but who could hear it through all his vitriol.

It was also too bad the local planners were too busy blowing smoke up his bottom and complaining about how the nationals treated them to make sure the event was run on schedule, that the speakers had the info they needed, that all the speakers had something worthwhile to offer the audience besides an overview of their self-perceived awesomeness.

We run ours with precision, each class endlessly refined to transmit the most useful knowledge in the least amount of time necessary, so we can fit in yet another great topic.  We bring together the best of our speakers and our present and future leaders to share, we review the details of each topic to make sure no priceless information is skipped and the latest in policy or group behavioral trends are discussed.  We allow discussion.  Every attendee is an active participant in a great learning experience.

This is what LLC could and should be.  I gave the national board my card, I hope they call.

On a positive note, members of the planning committees for the next two LLCs attended my seminar and they are serious people, dedicated to making the most of their event.  I have great hope for the next two, and will definitely be there if I can be.

Management vs Leadership

At the recent Transcending Boundaries Conference I attended a presentation on Time Management for Activists, because who doesn’t want to see a time management piece at an alt-sex con?  :-) Because I am that kind of geek, okay?  Nuff said there.

At the end of his talk, which was excellent, Tom pulled out his soap box metaphorically speaking to talk for two minutes about Management vs. Leadership.  I got more out of those two minutes than the rest of the talk, which is in no way meant to disparage the rest of the talk, I happen to have attended numerous time management things, making it a refresher, and had not seriously considered his points on M vs L before.

In a nut shell, management is

  • setting priorities
  • providing resources
  • clearing roadblocks

If you are not doing these things, what are you doing?  Oh, and while it is okay to tell someone how to do their job at the beginning because that is providing resources, it is not okay to coninue to do so, that is micro-managing.

Leadership is like playing that classic children’s game, “Follow the Leader”.  The leader is on the same team as the rest of the players, with two minor differences:

  • going first
  • making it easier for others to follow

Again, if you aren’t doing that, what are you doing?

Follow the Leader

If your actions do not fit into either of these categories, then you are doing something else.  Stop it.

Some will find themselves in the role of a Managing Leader.  This is ok as long as you know when you are supposed to be blazing that trail and when you are supposed to be sitting back from the main action ensuring that the doers have what they need to get the job done successfully.

To me this is the keyword here: success

Have you supplied the tools and resources necessary; been clear about priorities and desired outcomes; chosen the right person for the job giving them a support team, if needed; assigned finite, accomplishable tasks?

Not that you cannot occasionally push someone’s limits, but first you should know they are capable of rising to the occasion.  Have they proven this through repeated completion of finite tasks, perhaps using innovative techniques, surprising you by their methods or speed?

Good managers set their people up for success; good leaders meditate upon their personal processes and share this data with their team.  Good managing leaders do both, trying to give others the opportunity to do the work through effective delegation, availability, and mentoring.

On a Time Manangement note, I believe that task lists are key and the Remember the Milk is the best of them.  It has a Gmail gadget and an iPhone app (or Android and Blackberry apps if that is what you are in to), is fully customizable, has a free version, and the pro version is cheap ($25/year).

"The Cow"

Transcending Boundaries

This past weekend I had the honor to speak at the Transcending Boundaries Conference (www.transcendingboundaries.org) on Aleister Crowley and the Abolition of Boundaries. What a pleasure it was to share his story and a bit of his method with people not normally exposed to him; to outline his role in the sexual liberation movement as I see it.  My attendees were thoughtful and laughed at all the right places :-)

Attending TBC was a privilege in its own right.  Normally when I speak to a group, I am speaking to a single community, come together for one purpose… finding and doing our Wills.  Here, however, I was surrounded by many different communities come together for a common purpose, to transcend the boundaries arbitrarily or even backwardly imposed on us by society.

Whether you were gay, straight, bi, transitioning, cross dressing, pansexual, vanilla, kinky (in any of its flavors), or fluid (a new term I discovered), there was acceptance, support, and a class or panel of interest.

What impressed me the most was the attitude reflected in every panel, class, and speech I saw… that we are all in this together.  That there is no us and them, we are one.  As the keynote speaker, Lee Harrington, indicated we are a web of complex ecosystems; but we are a web and I say that web is the universe we live in and share in the manifestation thereof.

This is a newer attitude for these communities from what I can tell.  They used to be about what they could get for their agenda and group, even if they had to throw someone else’s under the bus, and I can understand that.  As the Founding Fathers let slavery continue to get the votes of the South for Independence; as the black movement left behind women’s suffrage; as homosexuals and lesbians left behind the bisexuals… we are all guilty of it.  But there is a trend, perhaps even a movement within all these others, to lift each other up in Pride, to recognize the plight of the other in their own and that to me is Beauty.  They are realizing the Truth of Universal Brotherhood and it was inspiring to see.

I am proud to be part of this burgeoning movement, but also to be part of a church that has its foundations in these very principles.  Peace, tolerance, and truth, my brethren, this is where we find the Soul of the Universe.

Hermetic?

Hermes Trismegistus, detail from a floor mosaic, Siena Cathedral, Italy

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Wordsmith.org’s Word.A.Day email previously featured this word in the week with the theme, “People who have more than one word coined after them”.

Wordsmith.org gave the following meanings:

adjective:
1. Airtight.
2. Not affected by outside influence.
3. Relating to the occult sciences, especially alchemy; magical.
4. Obscure or hard to understand.

I am on Hermetic.com and part or the Hrmtc Underground… does that mean I am Hermetic?

1. I am not airtight; I am semipermeable, as are we all. Yay, skin!

2. I am affected by outside influences, no matter how I wish not to be, sometimes.  But then, if I were not, that would make me unchanging.  This would be a mistake, especially for me.  Creatures require change and growth and as a Gemini I require it constantly.  To change without outside influence would be either arbitrary or uninformed, and not worthy of the effort in my opinion.

3. I do relate to the occult sciences :-)  I am magical.  Not only do I participate in the basics, invoke in the morning, banish at night, but I often embark on lengthy working to accomplish life goals, material, psychological, and spiritual.  I am in the middle of one now, which I will tell you about when I am finished.

You know the hardest thing about workings? Dedication to the repetition.  You must fulfill your intent every day without stopping… when you don’t feel well, or you are staying with friends in Atlanta, or you were up until 4am.  You still have to do the work.  People often get discouraged and stop because they missed a day.  Don’t stop.  Just keep going and add more time to the end.  Magicians persevere.

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming...

4. I can be :-)

Love is the law, love under will.

Hello world!

I hope to begin blogging this weekend, officially.  For years now I have had a vague desire rolling around in the back of my consiousness to keep a blog, but always faced the eternal question: what do I blog about?

Julie Powell (Julie/Julia Project had the strange idea to make everything from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, in some weird attempt to learn to cook or to find herself or to fill her time post-911 when she was working for a company providing support to 911 families.  I am sure she was in need of something.  Her husband (Eric?), had the ingenious idea that she should blog about the experience, and I was left thinking that I wished I had thought of that, like my mom and pickle stackers.

I realized recently that I never write about what I am doing in my FB or LJ, because I am not sure that these things are truly interesting to my friends.  Do my coworkers really want to hear about my OTO work?  Do OTOers want to hear about my security training?  Who wants to hear about what I am writing and researching?  I do not know.  I need a different venue for these things.

This blog will be where I write about my Work.  Security and safety (my work) will have to find a different venue.  See you soon.