With a Song in My Heart, I Look Fear in the Face #domagick

In the past, many people have said, “music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.” That’s because they got the quote by Congreve wrong. I understand why, too. The phrase “savage breast” brings such strange images to mind nowadays. Maybe the public chose to go with the sentence which made more sense to them, quote be damned. After all, what parent hasn’t tried a lullaby at least once when their child started crying for no reason?

In our infancy, we are at our most primal—driven entirely by our needs without thought for what society says we should want. Those worries come later, when we learn how to be civilized. Sadly, the better we become at fulfilling others, the worse we tend to be at fulfilling ourselves. If we’re taught to fret about the opinions of others too early, we might not even remember the goals and desires we left behind. This leads some of us to search outside ourselves for missing pieces that aren’t really gone at all, only suppressed and ignored. I believe music has the power to lure the angry and wounded parts of us back into the light for healing.

Previously on my blog, I talked about a novel that scared me so much that I couldn’t finish writing it, and how my fear blocked me from nearly any writing fiction afterward. Since posting how I’d decided it’s time to tackle the project again, I’ve had nightmares frequently. Some are truly awful, others merely nonsensical, but a good deal of them feature labyrinth symbolism I can’t ignore. The book is obviously weighing on my mind although I haven’t started it yet.

demon daemon MalphasBut I didn’t want to go in unprepared. First, I wanted to work with the daemon Malphas to build myself a place of safety and creativity in which to write. The old books magicians are supposed to care about say he can strengthen our defenses. The grimoires also depict Malphas as a giant, humanoid raven. Considering that makes Malphas look like the long lost, twin brother of my novel’s monster, I figured I could face a fear or two when I contacted him.

Few people know that ravens are our largest songbirds. Of course, their love songs sound a little like gargling rocks, but so do mine on most days. That’s why I chose to invoke Malphas with song this week. I sang his enn whenever I invited him into my circle, occasionally adding the beat of my rattle as a counterpoint.

It was difficult for me to open up that way. I know each spirit-song was meant to be a conversation between me and the Divine, but I remained keenly aware of the size of our new apartment. My family sat just down the hall every time I worked with Malphas, and I was certain they could hear me crooning and cawing away. It was nerve-wracking until the rites gained momentum. Then it was just… me and Spirit. I didn’t care who heard.

I hope that I will feel the same way throughout March. To support the work that I will be doing on the novel, I’ll be integrating sound into my life in the following ways during the #domagick challenge:

EVERY DAY – I will write my novel for one hour, without planning anything in advance, using a soundtrack I created for inspiration. I will not judge or even looking back at the work until the end of the month.

EVERY DAY – I plan to make some new art, even if all I do is photograph or draw something I love. If possible, I will listen to upbeat music while I work.

EVERY DAY – At minimum, I will sing the enns of the daemons I’m working with and run their energy through my chakras. This month I’ve chosen Salleos (for love), Ose (for self-understanding), Sitri (for a passionate life), and Crocell (to soften hard emotions).

EVERY WEDNESDAY – I am attending a sound healing class here in my city.

MARCH 10 to 12 – I am attending a workshop on the how to use the 5 Warrior Syllables.

In short, I aim to use music and sound as a method of lessening my anxiety and improving my confidence level throughout March. Whenever I feel particularly stressed, I hope to use vibration as the reset switch for my mood. If nothing else, I am learning two new sound-based techniques that I can add to my shamanic practice and Reiki repertoire.

Wish me luck. Now get out there and #domagick!

Entering a Maze of Fears #domagick

Several days ago, I asked my creative friends on Facebook which of their works defined them best. I learned something about each of them from their answers, but it was the question one asked me in return which led me to learn the most about myself. An author I admire both personally and professionally expressed a desire to read more of my work and wanted to know if I planned to write any more in the future. I can’t paraphrase what I said to her now because it wasn’t memorable. I know it wasn’t a lie. Of course, I plan to write; I just rarely get around to doing so.

I complete shopping lists, hand in reams of homework notes, and pen posts like this on a semi-regular basis. I’ve also managed to write two classes of what I’d consider a decent length over the last year.  Despite that, none of those accomplishments are what I mean when I talk about my writing. I don’t believe my friend was referring to any of those things, either. Fiction remains my first love, and I suspect it is the same with her. Why, then, am I not writing it?

I want to blame my body. I’ve been diagnosed with more conditions over the last ten years than I can count on both hands, and many of them make it difficult to sit at a keyboard for long periods. Luckily enough, there’s almost always an app for that. Technology isn’t perfect, but it has provided me with numerous workarounds for my health problems. I often ignore them—and my writing—to do other things. When my conscience gnaws at me, I’m still apt to say fibromyalgia or carpal tunnel are at fault, even though I know I shouldn’t. I’m a magician, for Pete’s sake. I understand mind over matter. I’m also damned stubborn. When a doctor once told me I’d never lose weight, I walked out of his clinic and forced myself to shed 150 pounds. I struggle to keep it off, but I know I can do it. I know I could conquer the other physical problems keeping me from writing too—if I really wanted to do so.

Part of me must want it. My family frequently asks me if I’m brooding over something due to my faraway look, and I’ll have to admit I’m writing novels in my head. When on the treadmill or out for a walk by myself, I play the same albums over and over and watch as stories unfold in time with the soundtrack thundering in my headphones. Long ago, I’d hurry back to my desk to jot these tales down, but now I don’t bother. After I get the first few lines down on paper, the words twist back on themselves like snakes. I can’t see my way through to the end of the plotlines like I once did.

I’ve always used outlines for my novels, sometimes creating them in such detail that I could have considered my rough notes my first draft. In my mind, however, that was only research: the scratching in the dirt meant to help me eventually race across the finish line. Somehow my characters still found room for improvisation, and I loved the times when they had become so real they surprised me with their actions. How could that happen when I had put so much of myself into them? After all, aren’t writers supposed to write what we know?

The last book I tried to write proved I didn’t know myself so well after all. About four years ago, I named a character after myself, using a nickname only close family members knew. I don’t know why other than the fact I felt I could edit out such lazy writing later. He wasn’t meant to be the main character, anyway. In my mind, he was a plot device meant to bring the two protagonists together. Just to make sure I’d hate him enough that he would disappear into the scenery, I gave him every one of my faults, only bigger. Yet he refused to go away.

First, he wandered from my script and then he bucked my characterization. He kept all the flaws I’d created for him and came up with a few new whoppers along the way, but I began to despise him for an entirely different reason. He made me feel. He’d become overwhelmed and I’d end up blinking back tears. He’d face something he found frightening and my stomach would knot with dread. The thing is, he hadn’t even faced the monster yet. That far into the novel, I hardly knew who or what the monster was. My outline had been a tad vague on that subject this time around. I figured the beast the characters faced at the end of the book would play second fiddle to the one in their heads. When the main characters descended into the labyrinth to confront their personal Minotaurs, I hadn’t thought this character important enough to join them, yet there I was, too afraid to keep writing his story because I’d discovered I was journeying down into myself. Without planning it, the novel had become shadow-work, and I was afraid to confront the ending. As a magician and a person, I was terrified of what I would learn and become.

I stopped writing the novel. I stopped writing everything, except for bits and blogs and shopping lists. I continued to call myself a writer. It sat badly with me, knowing how little fiction I still produced, enough so that I’ve put artist first in my description here. It must sit badly with some of the spirits I work with too, since Amaymon recently gave me a tongue lashing about only using labels I feel I deserve. He knows how I hate feeling like a poser.

I suppose that is why prayers to my patron about what I should do in March for the #domagick challenge were answered with nightmares about fighting my way to the center of a labyrinth, endlessly building a labyrinth, or scaling a labyrinth wall. When I was so coy as to ask if he meant I should work with maze-related spirits, I swear I heard my patron’s eyes roll all the way from the astral plane. Since then, all I’ve gotten from him is silence. He doesn’t enjoy speaking to the purposely obtuse. Neither did Seere last week. I know if I keep being so stupid they’ll stop talking to me altogether. It’s happened before.

They won’t tell me what to do in March—or at all. The nagging voice in the back of my head is entirely my own, and the knowledge that I must decide how to fix this mess gnaws at me. It’s why I’m so frequently out of sorts. It’s why I feel trapped all the time. I cannot blame a failing body I cannot escape, or even a series of unfortunate circumstances. I was the one that turned my back on writing, and by doing so I was the one that chained me here. With writing, I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted. The price to be paid was knowing myself a little bit better after every voyage, and it was a price I’d finally found too high.

It seems I’ve paid it anyway by not writing, only in smaller increments and with a different currency. Instead of whatever terrible secret about myself I once hoped to avoid, I have learned I was cowardly–that I am still a coward. I am no more eager to write myself to the center of that maze than I once was. Truthfully, I sometimes wonder if I am still capable of following that particular thread to my Minotaur again. Surely he awaits me in other stories, should I be brave enough to venture into them, but I realize the walls on that novel may have long crumbled. Knowing they could lie in ruins gives me little comfort. New tales could trap me just as easily.

Aren’t we all afraid of being trapped in a cycle of pain at one time or another? I worry I will start to write and get swamped with emotion again. I fear a dam will break inside me and I will not be able to hold back the flood of tears or terror that follows. Friends have said similar things to me when they have been frightened about opening up, and I have assured them such strong feelings will pass. Yet what about the damage in the meantime? I have no idea how I could handle this within the context of a thirty-day challenge.

Perhaps that is it. I can’t. I can’t put a timeline on it. I know I can turn to the spirits I work with for help, if only to ask for the courage to finally tackle this problem. I know the courage is somewhere deep within me, just like I know talking about all this is the first step towards finding a solution.

The first step towards the center of the labyrinth…

Spirits: Can They Take Away Our Free Will? #domagick

My brain hasn’t quit churning since the day Andrieh Vitimus announced his domagick challenge. I knew right away that I wanted to take part, but exactly how I would transform myself in March remained elusive. What spirits would I speak to in those thirty days? What realm of my life should I concentrate on, knowing I’d share my work here, on the internet?

black and white symbols used to contact the spirit seere
These are the sigils regularly used for the demon Seere. I discovered the sigil above during a meditation with her.

Unfortunately, no one could answer those questions for me, though I certainly pestered friends and family for advice. Fates bless them, they suffered me patiently enough. So did Seere, the daemon I worked with this week, when I sought her help to see the matter more clearly. I admit that the cards I turned over this week didn’t seem to make much sense at first, but I’ve frequently had trouble doing divination for myself in the past. It’s not that cards don’t read true, but that I can’t understand what they mean because I am too close to the situation at hand.

I kept asking Seere, “Do you mean I should be doing this? Or that?” I was asking for specifics, to be spoon-fed… and daemons don’t work that way, at least not in my experience.

First off, there’s the language barrier. When we ask spirits concretely worded questions, we general get Tarot card type answers in reply: images, symbols, a few keywords. Except in books, I haven’t heard of too many psychics who receive complete sentences when communicating with spirits, daemonic or otherwise. Maybe our brains are too small to catch more than a glimpse of what spirits are trying to show us, or perhaps they just don’t speak human.

More importantly, spirits have their own drives and motives. Sometimes it behooves them to be a tad reticent when doling out information. My patron is notorious for wanting me to come to conclusions on my own, and I’m beginning to suspect he’s gone to every other spirit in the universe and said, “Don’t tell that one jack shit. Make him figure it all out on his own. It’s the only way he learns.”

My favorite name for him at this point is King of the Red Herrings. Last month, during one of those rare moments of truly crystal clear communication, he suggested I could do something—if I wanted. Of course, I immediately did what I was told, thinking it was in my best interest, without even stopping to consider what my best interest actually was. Only afterward did I begin to regret the action and brood about it, wondering why he’d made me do such a thing.

Again, daemons don’t work like that. If a daemon is telling you to do anything against your own will, it isn’t a daemon talking. If anything, it’s most likely an internal need to self-sabotage. And, oh, how I love to sabotage myself! I follow paths of action on a regular basis that I know damn well aren’t good for me, usually in the hopes of receiving outside approval. I’m rarely satisfied when that approval comes, if it ever does. By then my martyrdom tastes bittersweet. I know I only have myself to blame, but I often end up subliminally resenting whoever I put myself in that position for in the first place. I’m only human, and as the video I posted above points out, humans make very little sense sometimes.

With Seere’s help, this time my hindsight was truly 20/20. I finally understood the lesson my patron had specifically set up for me and how easily I’d taken the bait. I’ve created a heap of extra work for myself by doing so too. I haven’t wrecked anything irreparable, but I definitely have to go back to square one without collecting my $200 dollars.

Strangely enough, as soon as I realized this, the confusion I’d felt concerning the #domagick challenge cleared up. I saw a pattern in the spirits I’d been considering that I missed before. I began to intuit how I could work with them to transform my writing, the area I’d wanted to work on most. I can’t say I know the entire shape of my March work yet, but that’s what the rest of February is for, isn’t it?

Hail Seere, she who helped me see clearly! And hail my patron, who keeps me on my toes! May I continue to learn from them both.


Get off that couch and change yourself! #domagick

I nearly wrote it off as a bad Nyquil trip when Arnold Schwarzenegger came to me in a journey a couple weeks ago and said, “Do da magik!” Luckily, I listened to him, and the spirit wearing his face helped me relax after the stress of moving house. Yet it’s only now that I realize Arnie spouted prophecy. Andrieh Vitimus just opened up a brand new site called www.domagick.com, and that can’t be a coincidence! Schwarzenegger must have been telling me to sign up for Andrieh’s first 30-day challenge for magicians. How could I not? Even if I didn’t already enjoy Andrieh’s work—and a good challenge—I can’t ignore the Terminator’s advice!

All joking aside, I’m looking forward to the results this March. The crowd listed as participating so far is an interesting mix and includes at least one other Daemonolater. Whenever I’ve mentioned handing in notes to the teacher of my Goetic Immersion course, I’ve been talking about S. Connolly. Her course and all the conversations that have arisen from it have changed my magick and life for the better, so it feels good that I’ll be able to cheer her on for a change as we undertake a month of self-transformation. You can read her first post on the Do Magick challenge at her blog. I’ll be spending the rest of February on research, as Andrieh’s suggests, and then posting my results here starting March 1st.. I’ll also link my posts on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure to follow the #domagick hashtag so you don’t miss a thing.

Whatever you call yourself—witch, magician, occultist, Grand High Pope of Pagandom—I strongly encourage you to take part in Andrieh’s challenge. Personally, I don’t think it matters what path you follow. I believe we get better at magick just like we get better at anything else: through practice. I’m not certain we are ever truly meant to perfect magick, however. We can get a spell right and fill an empty wallet. We can chant a mantra correctly and fill an empty soul. Yet we remain human, and to be human is to always need or want more. Our pocketbook may feel like it has a hole in it again, even if it doesn’t. Our heart may ache again, although modern medicine could ever find any reason why. It is my opinion that we cannot change this aspect of what we are, though some religions preach ways of doing so. We can only rise above the pain of need and want for a moment. That is why I feel we can never truly perfect magick, but through magick we can strive to perfect ourselves.

I feel it is important to talk about the process of perfection in this day and age, in a world where being imperfect and different can sometimes have terrible consequences. I worry some people voted for Donald Trump because of how he ridiculed a disabled individual, and it makes me almost physically ill. I only have family in the States; I can’t imagine how Americans must feel. I applaud everyone speaking out, especially pagans. Realistically, they could end up on a list someday. You don’t have to be a history expert to know what a witch-burning is. The reaction I’ve received more than once received for talking about my faith to local folk has often made me want to be quiet about being a Daemonolater—and they were pagans. But hey! Somebody has to be the black sheep at every gathering… or be accused of sacrificing the sheep, anyway. Little do they know I still occasionally have misgivings about feeding my snake.

I honestly believe that everyone participating in the March Do Magick challenge can change their life for the better. During the seventeen months of daily work I’ve undertaken so far for the Goetia program, I’ve refined my ability to hear spirits, learned new divination systems, become a Reiki Master, and re-connected with my patron. In that time, I’ve also lost another sixty pounds. I was already on my weight loss journey before I started the Goetia program, but I know I stayed on it because of some of the spirits that rode my ass. I may not see as dramatic results in these thirty days, but I don’t even know exactly how I’ll be seeking to transform myself yet.

I do know that sharing my magick publicly will be an act of courage for me. I may come off as confident when teaching a class or in a forum online, but that is only after I’ve swallowed the huge lump of anxiety in my throat. As I’ve said before, people don’t always react well to the Daemonolater label. Or many of the other labels I’ve chosen to cling to over the years, frankly. Since Arnie came into my life, I’ve begun to notice that they’re not keeping me afloat as easily as they used to do. Rather than acting as life rafts, they’re a bit more like anchors. And since no one who asked me to use them, I think it may be time to kick off those chains and see where I drift, pulled by the currents of my own will.

March will be a fantastic month.

Shield Me From Outrageous Fortune – A Sigil for Glasya Labolas.

According to the Ars Goetia, Glasya Labolas can see the past and fortell the future, can teach you how to make yourself invisible, and can make friends and foes fall in love with one another. Then again, he also is supposed to delight in bloodshed and slaughter.

Glasya Labolas
Glasya Labolas from the Dictionnaire Infernale.

I take ominous statements like these with boulder-sized grains of salt. After all, the Dictionnaire Infernal describes him as a horned dog with griffin wings too. It been impossible not to laugh while picturing the shenanigans a little hellhound could get into this week. What’s wrong, Glassie? Did Timmie fall down the well? Do you want another soul? Wish me luck with my puppy training class in December.

I created this is alternate sigil for Glasya Labolas using Gematria values and the square of Mercury. In my mind, it represents an oracle kneeling to read cards, runes, crystals, etc. It also represents the cloak of invisibility Glasya Labolas can teach us to use to hide our activities when necessary.

All mages must know, dare, will, and be able to keep silent. Some magick can only come to fruition when kept secret. You wouldn’t want to give away all the details of your wards and shields, would you?

The phrase above (also known as an enn) can be chanted just like a mantra while staring at the sigil in a a relaxed state. I often take a purifying bath before I contact spirit and then meditate to clear my mind. When I feel centered and ready, I’ll write out my intent by hand. Sometimes I won’t go any further than ‘praying on paper,’ but I’ve found reading prayers aloud and / or burning them can help make what I’ve asked for manifest much more quickly. If nothing else, it help my brain focus on what I want. As a magician, I know that’s half the battle. If I still feel like ritual is required after I’ve completed my prayers, I could then use this sigil and enn as part of my circle casting and invocation if desired.

(I got the background of the pieceabove from Freepik. It was made by harryarts. He is available for freelance work and can be reached at harrypandey789@gmail.com.)

Conjuring 2 Movie Review: The Power of Love

The Conjuring 2 continues the story of renowned exorcist and psychic, Ed and Lorraine Warren, dipping once again into their “real” case files. When the church asks them to travel to London and help a single mother plagued by an evil spirit, they can hardly refuse despite Lorraine’s premonitions of doom. Although this film is the sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring, is the third film in the overall Conjuring franchise, following Annabelle. Please note that the following review contains spoilers.

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