Prayer

Rituals, spells, prayer, meditation and magical acts.
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Nefastos
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Re: Prayer

Postby Nefastos » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:32 pm

Mars wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:27 pm
The world has become too corrupt and wicked for the practice of that which such holy and learned men as Ammonius, Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus (the most learned Theurgist of all) could alone attempt with impunity. In our day theurgy or divine, beneficent magic is but too apt to become goetic, or in other words Sorcery.

So these warnings combined with my own struggles with prayer practice have made me drop it, for now at least.


A keen observation! I am glad that this has awakened such insightful responses from everyone, and that we can explore the subject in such depth.

In her Theosophical glossary Blavatsky discusses first "Theurgia, or Theurgy", and the next "Theurgist". While the first one of these is easy enough to undersign for the meaning of the SoA's theurgy as well, the second isn't. And this latter definistion of theurgist can be taken to indicate why exactly Blavatsky was against the use of theurgy as such:

Theurgia, or Theurgy(Gr.). A communication with, and means of bringing down to earth, planetary spirits and angels—the “gods of Light”. Knowledge of the inner meaning of their hierarchies, and purity of life alone can lead to the acquisition of the powers necessary for communion with them. To; arrive at such an exalted goal the aspirant must be absolutely worthy and unselfish.

Theurgist. The first school of practical theurgy (from qeod, god, and ergon work,) in the Christian period, was founded by Iamblichus among certain Alexandrian Platonists. The priests, however, who were attached to the temples of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Greece, and whose business it was to evoke the gods during the celebration of the Mysteries, were known by this name, or its equivalent in other tongues, from the earliest archaic period. Spirits (but not those of the dead, the evocation of which was called Necromancy) were made visible to the eyes of mortals. Thus a theurgist had to be a hierophant and an expert in the esoteric learning of the Sanctuaries of all great countries. The Neo-platonists of the school of Iamblichus were called theurgists, for they performed the so-called “ceremonial magic”, and evoked the simulacra or the images of the ancient heroes, “gods”, and daimonia (daimovia, divine, spiritual entities). In the rare cases when the presence of a tangible and visible “ spirit ” was required, the theurgist had to furnish the weird apparition with a portion of his own flesh and blood—he had to perform the thepœa or the “creation of gods”, by a mysterious process well known to the old, and perhaps some of the modern, Tântrikas and initiated Brahmans of India. Such is what is said in the Book of Evocations of the pagodas. It shows the perfect identity of rites and ceremonial between the oldest Brahmanic theurgy and that of the Alexandrian Platonists.

The following is from Isis Unveiled: “The Brahman Grihasta (the evocator) must be in a state of complete purity before he ventures to call forth the Pitris. After having prepared a lamp, some sandal-incense, etc., and having traced the magic circles taught him by the superior Guru, in order to keep away bad spirits, he ceases to breathe, and calls the fire (Kundalini) to his help to disperse his body.” He pronounces a certain number of times the sacred word, and “ his soul (astral body) escapes from its prison, his body disappears, and the soul (image) of the evoked spirit descends into the double body and animates it”. Then “his (the theurgist’s) soul (astral) re-enters its body, whose subtile particles have again been aggregating (to the objective sense), after having formed from themselves an aerial body for the deva (god or spirit) he evoked And then, the operator propounds to the latter questions “on the mysteries of Being and the transformation of the imperishable ”. The popular prevailing idea is that the theurgists, as well as the magicians, worked wonders, such as evoking the souls or shadows of the heroes and gods, and other thaumaturgic works, by super natural powers. But this never was the fact. They did it simply by the liberation of their own astral body, which, taking the form of a god or hero, served as a medium or vehicle through which the special current preserving the ideas and knowledge of that hero or god could be reached and manifested. (See “Iamblichus”.)


This latter definition gives so technical and "manual" interpretation to the rituals of a certain kind of theurgy that it is easy to see why Blavatsky rejected its use in the modern day. We can recall her teaching that the intention solely makes the difference between the so-called black and white magic, and from the passage above it is easy to see how even a slightest impurity would make such technical summoning harmful. On the other hand, the spell prayer work without an aim of quick disintegration of one's astral body & cetera works very differently, much more gently & calmly, in the SoA's theurgy.

Yet, I understand very well that even though "I wouldn't hesitate to call the difference aspectual or even superficial", someone else very well might. I see as part of my work to bridge this gap between, say, Western ritual magic and Blavatsky's "anti-magic" attitude, like the gaps between the Left Hand Path and the Right Hand Path, between Satanism and Christianity, between the Western and Eastern focus of thought, between intelligence- and intuition-centeredness.

Mars wrote:[---] during periods of prayer work I find that my inherent tendency towards escapism and gnostic "will to leave the world" intensifies considerably, so for some time now I have given up all forms of prayer and meditation so that I can function in this world and everyday life at least to some degree...[---] If there are some thoughts from anyone concerning my aforementioned problem I'd be happy to hear them, though it might be hard to give such advice on a forum.


The thoughts shared by the participants here seem, at least to me, to be answers to this problem exactly. And this comes back to the Blavatskyan difference mentioned, that there is a prayer work that is less technical and less "otherworldly" as well, and is conversely trying to fit around the apparently (seemingly) immanent and mundane practice. Actually, mundane it is not, but in a tantric way (I take "tantric" and "gnostic" to be in a way complementary terms in esotericism) taking the spirit & otherworldliness as something that continually and gaplessly manifests itself on this side. This kind of thought & this kind of practice, SoA's take to theurgy included, is thus a magic of Compromise, meaning the magic of Sacrifice. Since the door of annihilation, or even escape in spirit, is barred from us to enter through, this "sacrifice in compromise" is something that must be done, and I take it to be the cross of the adept and the via dolorosa of a neophyte.

But you are wise to listen to your feelings in this regard, and refrain from doing magical/prayer work that feels not right at the moment. Likewise in the Star of Azazel, no such practice is demanded from anyone; it is simply one of the possibilities. (The prayer work works under the Stone aspect, one of the seven brotherhood aspects.)
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Prayer

Postby Mars » Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:53 pm

Kenazis wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 10:36 pm
However, I don't see any point to use magic to achieve material things and prayer is today (almost) only thing that is left. What is important in my spirituality is to strengthen the connection to divine (powers). And I have nothing else to ask. I'm not so narcissistic that I think I know better than higher beings what should happen and what is their work... So, prayer-work remains.
This is pretty close to my attitude. The problem I've had with some forms of magic is that I don't want anything, except to contact the divine. Prayer is an obvious answer.
Cerastes wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:14 pm
That said, if one wants to escape the material world, this might be exactly what the meditation will bring forth because what the subconscious communicates towards the divine is: „Take me away“. That's understandable, because to be honest, the material world mostly seems to me like a really bad and offensive joke from a drunk guy at a party. You don’t know you should just walk away, go against it or laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
This is a brilliant analogy. The problem is that the front door is locked from the inside and the guy telling the joke has the key. Besides, even if one could escape, it wouldn't be fair to leave others there to suffer.
Nefastos wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:32 pm
This latter definition gives so technical and "manual" interpretation to the rituals of a certain kind of theurgy that it is easy to see why Blavatsky rejected its use in the modern day. We can recall her teaching that the intention solely makes the difference between the so-called black and white magic, and from the passage above it is easy to see how even a slightest impurity would make such technical summoning harmful. On the other hand, the spell prayer work without an aim of quick disintegration of one's astral body & cetera works very differently, much more gently & calmly, in the SoA's theurgy.

Yet, I understand very well that even though "I wouldn't hesitate to call the difference aspectual or even superficial", someone else very well might. I see as part of my work to bridge this gap between, say, Western ritual magic and Blavatsky's "anti-magic" attitude, like the gaps between the Left Hand Path and the Right Hand Path, between Satanism and Christianity, between the Western and Eastern focus of thought, between intelligence- and intuition-centeredness.
This bridging of the gap is one of the main reasons I'm interested in the SoA. I don't know if anyone else does that sort of work.
Nefastos wrote:The thoughts shared by the participants here seem, at least to me, to be answers to this problem exactly. And this comes back to the Blavatskyan difference mentioned, that there is a prayer work that is less technical and less "otherworldly" as well, and is conversely trying to fit around the apparently (seemingly) immanent and mundane practice. Actually, mundane it is not, but in a tantric way (I take "tantric" and "gnostic" to be in a way complementary terms in esotericism) taking the spirit & otherworldliness as something that continually and gaplessly manifests itself on this side. This kind of thought & this kind of practice, SoA's take to theurgy included, is thus a magic of Compromise, meaning the magic of Sacrifice. Since the door of annihilation, or even escape in spirit, is barred from us to enter through, this "sacrifice in compromise" is something that must be done, and I take it to be the cross of the adept and the via dolorosa of a neophyte.
What do you think about the more technical forms or ceremonial or ritual magic? Is it a valid path nowadays? What about goetia? My own prayer work has been influenced by Pekka Ervast and it's not very technical. I've always thought of myself to be way too sensitive to actually engage in ceremonial magic. I also feel a great deal of caution towards Crowley and his legacy and that has probably affected my views.
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Re: Prayer

Postby Nefastos » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:24 pm

Mars wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:53 pm
What do you think about the more technical forms or ceremonial or ritual magic? Is it a valid path nowadays?


I tend to think that these things either (a) belong to "outer initiations" of specific technical systems and gurus, which may be very empowering but not necessarily beneficent for the Great Work, and/or (b) form a part of one's subjective groping in the darkness of the Path. I mean that they form a part of a more subjective processes that are shaped by one's personal karma, both good & bad. I would often suggest one to refrain from technical practices of which actual working one cannot fathom, and which are most likely handed down in a corrupted form. That some practise brings magical results is no reason to use it: that something "works" might easily mean that it creates all kinds of results, not just those that quickly become apparent to us. A soul is a tender flower even though its root is deep, and one's integral mind is a terrible thing to waste – foundation for these is much shakier for a human being than many understand. Intention is the ultimate touchstone, but how many of us can be honest with ourselves about our complete motives, often partly subconscious?

Light on the Path wrote:It is easy to say: ‘I will not be ambitious [i.e. selfish];’ it is not so easy to say: ‘When the Master reads my heart, He will find it clean utterly.’


West has factually lost its initiatory systems that would actually hold keys to these technical processes, and what is left is so fragmentary, tainted by astral intoxication (secretly or openly selfish imagination running amok), that it will more likely create problems than solve them... But then again, one has to do what one can with the instruments available, and that too often means compromise. To keep in a "pure" state of not practising is similarly unnatural and does not follow the actual working method of Nature, which favors try and mistake rather than celibate fear – even when we might get hurt even when being careful. So, one should definitely "Try!" (the imperative of the unseen masters), but in doing so, making one's utmost to save foremostly the others from the inadept handling of occult forces. (And what force in nature isn't essentially occult?)

Mars wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 5:53 pm
What about goetia?


What exactly you mean by goetia here? I ask in order not to answer missing the definite meaning of the question, since the word is used in several little bit different meanings.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Prayer

Postby Mars » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:14 pm

Nefastos wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:24 pm
What exactly you mean by goetia here? I ask in order not to answer missing the definite meaning of the question, since the word is used in several little bit different meanings.
I’m probably not aware of all meanings of the term goetia. I feel as though I’m talking out of my depth here, since my experience with these matters should be measured on a different scale than yours, but I mean goetia in the Agrippan sense, as opposed to theurgy. There has been talk of goetia in relation to SoA and I was wondering how this practice, in any form, can be beneficial to spiritual development.
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Re: Prayer

Postby Aquila » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:34 pm

How I understand the differences of goetia and theurgy is that goetia is like picking up only a single piece of a greater whole, a demon or some spirit that usually works under much vaster forces, give it a strong emphasis and this will manipulate the reality into a direction the sorcerer wishes it to go which usually is a wrong kind of twist in "the grand design" and will be corrected later. Goetia usually doesn't work so simple and all the problems of subjective limitations in understanding will cause a lot of troubles. Meanwhile the theurgic prayer that seeks to understand that which is not yet understood, the other, like explained earlier by Fra Nefastos, will work within much longer time periods and it will change ourselves and our perception instead of trying to change something outside of ourselves. I think here lies also a problem that I might sometime face that my intention behind prayer work is actually to cause some changes in the world to happen in some selfish way. In these moments I don't know if there is much else to do but to try continue forward, understand myself and be forgiving. I think that in some way these little selfish thoughts are in connection to those demons that goetia aims to command but prayer work is probably much safer choice because it doesn't really point straight at any of these lower demons and doesn't aim at trying to connect any single one of them but the actual intelligences behind everything. It will also give us a chance to be more aware of the hubris within our being as these things usually become clearer when one starts to practice any kind of magical activity.
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Re: Prayer

Postby Nefastos » Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:15 pm

Mars wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:14 pm
There has been talk of goetia in relation to SoA and I was wondering how this practice, in any form, can be beneficial to spiritual development.

Have you read my "Categories of Black Magic" from Legifer & Clavis Magica, the sixth book of Fosforos? (p.167-170 in English version.) There I argue, with three different axes of practice, why the dichotomy between Black & White magic is necessary to see in two different ways, similarly to the approach of the Left and Right Hand Paths. Aquila gave a good example of how goetia or black magic (two words with similar but not identical meanings) is to be taken:
Aquila wrote:
Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:34 pm
How I understand the differences of goetia and theurgy is that goetia is like picking up only a single piece of a greater whole, a demon or some spirit that usually works under much vaster forces, give it a strong emphasis and this will manipulate the reality into a direction the sorcerer wishes it to go which usually is a wrong kind of twist in "the grand design" and will be corrected later.

Mars wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:14 pm
[---] I mean goetia in the Agrippan sense, as opposed to theurgy.

In his De incertitudine & vanitate scientiarum Agrippa wrote about goetia chapter XLV, which is given as an appendix to Tyson's edition to his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (p.695-6). Agrippa's opinion is that goetia, similar to necromancy, is based on the will of devils, and goetia, i.e. grimoire magic as he quite clearly depicts it, is very negative. He stresses that the spirits summoned up by grimoire conjurations can never be trusted:
Agrippa wrote:For even compelled devils always deceive us whithersoever we go.

Similarly that the grimoires themselves consist of "empty phrase", that they "contain nothing but mere toys, an impostures, and to be in latter times by men ignorant of all ancient magic, and forlorn artists of pernicious arts, of prophane observations mixed with ceremonies". There is much truth in these harsh words, and people who believe in most of the Occidental grimoire magic tricks & spirit discussions to the letter might as well go looking for the leprechaun's pot of gold at the rainbow's end. Yet it is a bit funny that Agrippa chose to be this nihilistic with grimoires (goetia) while he had chosen to be so deep and understanding with many other forms of magic. In these statements made by him, as well as with Pico and others, we may also see some societal agendas – inquisition was just one of the icebergs onto which one wouldn't want to crush his vessel. But onwards, to more even nuanced challenges:
Agrippa wrote:And why do the goetians use those evil spirits only, but because good angels will hardly appear [...] but to men pure in heart

Similar to what it is said in The Perfect Way, 3:25:
Anna Kingsford wrote:Spirits of the sub-human order are wont, under control of the WISH of their invokers, to personate spirits of a higher grade.

Goetists i.e. the grimorie magicians who summon up entities & take the apparitions' identities from their word are making the classic internet sham mistake. The spirit is seldom who it says to be, but because it pets the ego of the karcist to be visited by Michael or Gabriel or Baalzebul, he wants to believe what he is told or, more commonly, what immediately strikes his fancy. One should note that the goetic practices given in Fosforos, Demons' Cube & elsewhere in my writings put great stress to be free from this kind of folly.

These examples are perhaps enough. In brief, I repeat what I said above regarding all kinds of magic practice: West has lost the keys, and thus we are stumbling in the dark like children. Only when a valid, solid ethical foundation has been laid, the mysteries will be reborn. But those doing this work should be us, doing our best with these primitive and often even dangerous instruments. Goetia or black magic is not in itself "evil", but it really is like a surgical scalpel in a child's play: too focused and sharp to actually help one who doesn't really understand what it is he is doing; and the less one understands, the more confident he is that there will be no harmful repercussions, or that he can handle such when they come. And yet, when this danger has been truly understood and one really has found the Key with which to use every force in nature without danger – I mean the ethical demand always carried inside and onto one's heart, living and present – to refrain from work with all the instruments we have in our use would be harmful timidity and "burying of the talents". So, yes, the final word is always paradoxical.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Prayer

Postby Mars » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:03 am

Nefastos wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:15 pm
Have you read my "Categories of Black Magic" from Legifer & Clavis Magica, the sixth book of Fosforos? (p.167-170 in English version.) There I argue, with three different axes of practice, why the dichotomy between Black & White magic is necessary to see in two different ways, similarly to the approach of the Left and Right Hand Paths.
Yes, but it's been a while. Fosforos is on my re-read list and I'll pay extra attention to the sixth book when the time comes.

Thank you all for these replies. I will go through this thread again with a fine comb and contemplate further on these matters and my own practice. I have a habit of "locking" myself to certain mental positions, especially those that I've learned from Blavatsky or Ervast, and it's always a struggle to try and challenge my ideas. I do think that's important to do so, hence these questions, and I'm always eager to learn.
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Re: Prayer

Postby Nefastos » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:22 pm

Thank you for your questions; these are very important and heart-felt questions for me also, since I struggled very long and intensely with the teachings of Blavatsky & Ervast. I love and respect both of these theosophical authorities deeply & have studied their teachings over and over again. Thus it was only through finding out with immense pain that there are some things in their (especially Blavatsky's) teachings that were apparently written as absolutes, but which in our time cannot and should not be absolutes, only suggestions, open for temperamental permutation. The same goes, of course, with all the things I have said above – excluding the unavoidable necessity of ethics as foundation.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"

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