Thursday, September 25, 2014

Run Viral

There will come a time in the future where the release of the Testament of Cyprian the Mage will be seen as a seminal point for western occult philosophy.  The final installment in Jake Stratton-Kent’s Encyclopedia Goetica, wherein a meaningful alternative to the masonic crosses the current rash of western occultists have crucified themselves on is revealed.  I say, ‘in the future’ because masonic initiation is as addictive as heroine and I say, ‘rash’ because it suggests a bunch of similarly aligned or focused practitioners as well as a distracting and ugly eruption upon the flesh of a thing.

With the Testament as his cypher Jake delves as far as our contemporary grasp of far history will allow, to trace the roots of the grimoire tradition, a tradition which is slowly taking a position of primacy in western occulture.  With Cyprian as his tour guide Jake visits each of the great centers of knowledge in the ancient world and like his guide discovers facets of the Arte which have been mastered there.  It is a powerful and thought-provoking journey which comes to highlight stellar lore and ancient healing paradigms as the root of what is now known as goetic magic.

It persuasively sheds the contemporary dualism's of grimoire work (good/bad, holy/evil) in favor of an ambiguous eschatology rooted in ancient correspondences between our planet and the life it sustains and the greater universe.  No small feat and one which calls into question a great deal of our current methodology and mythology regarding the daemon of the grimoires.

Though it is the conclusion of the Goetica series, it is more properly a point of departure.  It is the moment where your hand is let go.  Every historical revelation raises a myriad questions best negotiated by the individuals sympathy to the work.  I think that most veteran practitioners with a grounding in Goetia, Hellenistic Greek thought or plant-lore will have at least one ah ha moment and that those newer to the exploration have a profound leaping off point.  It will certainly have me returning to some of my earlier explorations with the daemon of the old books, in particular the old Goddess figures which didn’t fare so well in their Pauline interpretations.  So much good stuff. 

In a way that seems strangely fitting, this is my first purchase of a digital copy from the Scarlets. Though I intend to add a physical copy of the book to my collection I have been in a state of perpetual transit since last winter and it simply doesn't seem as though that is going to change in the near future.  So many strange syncronicities had arose that finally I simply broke down and got the ePub version.  Somehow even that liminal state of transit-induced limbo was fitting to the work.  It is a book whose value is found in between things, between nations, between the lines, between religious certainties, an exaltation of the liminal state.  I cannot simply consecrate it as a book in my usual manner because it is not a book in both the literal, physical sense as well as the more esoteric, it is a mythic cypher.

Fittingly, though I shall read and reread it, I shall never dirty it's pages.  Though I will carry it with me in all my travels, I shall never mar its cover.  It feels correct to me, untethered from the physical privilege of hard copy Cyprian is free to run viral through all my triumphs and evil deeds.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prophecies of the Doom Fairy, pt. XIV

More than a year has passed since I discussed the Scottish Referendum as an absolute certainty.  Back then the idea of a Yes vote seemed unlikely to me but it was always going to be close, had to be close to accomplish what I felt were the underlying necessities that propelled it.  My point of reference for that analysis was my own experience as a Canadian with the Quebec referendum of 1995.  There remain all the similarities I originally discussed but there are also some distinctions which have made the possibility of a Yes vote in Scotland seem increasingly possible to me as I have been watching the drama unfold over the last couple weeks.

When Quebec went to vote Canada had perhaps its most charismatic Prime Minister since Pierre Trudeau (under whom he had served as a cabinet minister), a Frenchman by the name of Jean Chretien.  An astute Liberal who had salvaged and renegotiated Canada’s place in NAFTA averting an economic disaster orchestrated by the previous Conservative leader, Brian Mulroney.  He had also implemented a federal budget which significantly reduced national debt, so much so that the budget of 95 is often held up as a model for national deficit reduction.  These are important juxtapositions to the current state of affairs in the UK, currently lead by a deeply unpopular and charmless Tory almost universally reviled in Scotland who has led the UK into a very nearly unmanageable deficit which currently accounts for almost the entirety of the unions GDP.

These are important differences.  When Quebec said it would seek a currency union with the rest of Canada, Chretien could say it wouldn’t happen and actually be convincing.  With a manageable debt load, he held all the cards at the bargaining table.  Scotland on the other hand can leverage the runaway debt in the UK in its pursuit of a currency union.  In the event of a Yes vote, and a further weakening of the Pound, England would be hard pressed to avoid default especially with the loss of the tax revenue generated by the oil and natural gas operations in the Scottish North Sea’s.  If England wants an independent Scotland to assume responsibility for a portion of that debt it would have to give Scotland the currency union it seeks.  In fact, a currency union would necessitate Scotland’s assumption of a portion of that debt.  A third factor is that Scotland generates most of its revenue internally, whereas England relies mostly on foreign holdings.  I say this is a factor because it means that a weakened Pound would hurt England considerably more than it would Scotland.  It is hard to sell your shit when no one can afford it because of the exchange rate.  To illustrate, have any of you in the America’s ever purchased anything from the UK and realized it was going to cost twice what you expected?  England casually imports while Scotland struggles to export.

So when the British Prime Minister Fishlips Pastyface (that’s his real actual name) says a currency union is out of the question, he is frankly full of shit.  Scotland actually has an unusually strong bargaining position for a nation undertaking independence.

Finally, the 2 factors I consider most pivotal, the movements of the heavens and the not-so-secret architect of your fates Mark Carney.  If you will recall it wasn’t politics or media excitement that lead to my certainty that the referendum would come to pass, it was the establishment of Carney as the governor of the Bank of England.  Carney has recently intimated that he already has a notion of the political concessions he would require from Scotland in the event of a currency union.  I find that telling.  Also, the referendum is expected to elicit a 10% devaluation in the Pound Sterling while parity with the Euro would require roughly 20%.  At 10%, every billion to leave the EU would lose 100 million to the exchange rate.  It needs to be closer than that.  If it was to drop farther than 20%, even if only very briefly while the new rules of the union (Carney is right when he says that a currency union is not true political independence, this would be a new set of rules for the union and not the birth of an autonomous state) were being established an enormous profit could be turned in the exchange.

There will be a very loose grand cross hanging over Scotland when it comes time to vote and if there is an astrological marker for an event that would lead to economic turmoil it’s a fucking grand cross with two generational influences in it, especially one that has Uranus in Aries square the  Moon in Cancer.  That is some emotional decision making.  (Did I mention you can vote in this if your 16? You can vote in this if you're 16.)  Pluto in Capricorn will inspire a desire for both independence and a longing for old cultural identity, Scotland has never been a contented member of the UK and has attempted rebellion or referendum repeatedly since the Redcoats defeated them.

So yeah, I am less convinced that a No vote is inevitable.  If Carney has a plan for Scottish Independence then it is entirely within the realm of possibilities. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Narrative In Several Parts (pt. III)

Columbine - Doug Nox
De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.

Sometimes I get lost, my thoughts turning in Escher stairwells and the endless reflections of mirrors facing mirrors.  Sometimes I get lost.  It’s alright, I think sometimes to have nowhere in particular to go, somewhere in the deep down of human memory is a time of endless wandering.  It bubbles up, that need to see something I have never seen before, a flower, a beast, to hear a new music or puzzle out a new language.  I can’t get lost in Toronto anymore, I can sleep walk here and still catch every train just as it’s pulling into the station.  It is a trap most cunning, the ennui of familiarity, escape from which requires feats of daring; one can never know the effusive joy of coming home if you never leave to begin with.  You have settled for half a life.  You have let the clothes make the man.

Fiant aures tuae intendéntes: in vocem deprecationis meae.

Columbine wears no mask.  She is the secret you keep, that you are always pretending.  Pretending to be human, pretending to care, hiding your prejudice, your fear, the amoral fire of your desire.  That piece of ass, that bit of acknowledgement that you can humbly disregard. 

Si iniquitátes observaveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit.

For a long time I got lost in the endless shanty.  That place in my mind that went on forever.  That crowd of gods.   That denial of permanence, no mind palaces or astral temples over which I might stand as some lord or master, just shanties and lean-to’s, dusted red rust on corrugated aluminium and shit floating in the river.  I found there a girl in pristine white, dress and skin and hair luminous but eyes like crimson.  Like a cartoon vampire or a drunk deep into his cups.  She vibrated with a desire so dark and absolute that the gods of that place cowered before her.  As though getting too close to that absolute hunger would lock them into her gravity and they would be eaten whole by her, like a black hole consuming time and space.  Forever, by definition, cannot have a center and yet there she was, the center of forever, eating it whole.  The gods hide like remorseful children from the penitent soul.

Quia apud te propitiátio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Dómine.

The Anima Sola became an icon for a number of obscure figures.  Clarissa, the adolescent god of the Obeah clothed in the gossamer web of the Spider.  Klemezin Klemay, the child bride of Agwe and sister-wife of Freda and La Siren.  The icon is originally Catholic in origin, the penitential soul of a woman surrounded by the flames of Purgatory, seemingly in an ecstasy.  The icon was often utilized in workings of sexual compulsion or seduction, still is to this day.

Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.

Not long after that vision Elliot Rodger killed nine people in Santa Barbara.  He was quite clear in his memoir that this monstrous action was rooted in a pervasive and relentless hatred of women that had grown out of their refusal to validate his culturally reinforced sense of entitlement.  The inevitable and depressing debate broke out between feminists and frankly just about everyone else over whether or not this event was symptomatic of a greater widespread form of institutional misogyny.  I thought a lot about that red eyed devil at the center of forever, the fires of the burlesque enshrining her, the god-men hiding their shame from her.  I thought a lot about Columbine’s secret, about my secrets.    

A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: speret Israel in Dómino.

I saw the truth of my desire in her blood red eyes, how it was colored by violence and jealousy and possessiveness.  I was that hellish fire or a part of it at least.  The best man I can be is in truth not a good enough man, I will spend my whole life unmaking the entitlement I was conditioned with and I will fail.  All men, no matter how well-intentioned will fail at some point and in some regard. 

Quia apud Dóminum misericordia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.

Penitence is forever, it is the center of it.  A black hole eating up time and space.  You have to own it or the gods will have you, better to burn than cherish your pride.    

Et ipse redimet Israel, ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Brief and Terrible Intermission

Pantaloon - Doug Nox
Oh blood and bone and clocks and trains
My coat will keep you from the rain
Alas our love is all in vain
The briar and the rose

I will not wait, I cannot thread
The tenor of the things you've said
My love is true and we must wed
The briar and the rose

I don't know how, I don't know why
I never meant to make you cry
My love is blind and so I chose
The briar and the rose
- the Briar and the Rose

Occasionally, if you want to call yourself a sorcerer and not a ‘student of magic’ you have to let it all hang out there.  And I don’t mean endless cascades of words you found in books and your opinions on them, though that certainly isn’t the worst thing you could do.  I mean you have to give up the safety of convention and see how far your juju can carry you.  You have to test the model of the world you have unconsciously constructed in that meat machine against the chaos of the world as it is.  I miss the heady days of dangerous magic and dangerous magicians.  Crowley with his drug use and experimental sex.  Parsons with his polyamoury and crazy science.  Burroughs with his renegade philosophy and blatant homosexuality.  When the mad cabalist Charlie Jones returned to Canada after his falling out with Crowley he stripped naked and ran around the airport until he was arrested for indecent exposure, all to get the ‘UK out his system’.  Spare, even P. B. Randolph all have possessed what can only be described as idea’s which were a clear and present danger to the status quo.  They were fucking rock stars.

If some aspect of your sorcerous model exists solely to validate that false construct then it will break against the world as it is.  I call this ‘finding the handle’.  After many years of mercenarial work I can safely say that I have been burned a lot, certainly more than the average student of magic, devout Wiccan or pious neophyte.  As my old friend Mr. VI told me when I complained about it in the early years, “you can’t spend all day wandering around a battlefield and then complain when you get shot.”  The sheer volume of burns and nails flying about porn valley at any given moment is pretty ridiculous.  I think that has to be one of the most heavily ensorcelled pieces of real estate in the world and perhaps history.  A great many of those nixes just roll right off because they are really meant for me at all, they are meant for someone’s idea of me.  A burn meant to punish me for being the devil incarnate will not be terribly effective because I am not actually the devil incarnate (a devil perhaps but certainly not the devil).  Much more problematic are burns getting slung without any personal malice (the ‘it’s just business’ burn) or my own work getting efficiently cycled back to me (I call this ‘going Frankenstein’).

Besides an enthusiastic and regimented cleansing and clearing routine the best way I learned to keep the fallout from becoming unbearable was to become largely indestructible.  Also known as, learning some esoteric Buddhism.  I am not talking shallow appropriation here either; I would like to emphasize here how little good a stature of Buddha will do on your altar.  If there is a deity (wrong word for a Buddha but if you are thinking a statue on your altar is the way to go, it’s how you are thinking about it) that cares less about the fact that you are getting burned I don’t know what it would be.  I mean the spiritual mechanics at work under the hood.  Especially, the ideas of ‘attachment’ and the ‘poisons’.  Namely, that as conscious beings we place an undue amount of significance and emotional validity on particular by-products of our sensory organs.  The notion that time and space are inherently illusory, insofar as we perceive them with our eye’s and ear’s and hand’s and what-not is obviously logical, western philosophers have been riding that meal ticket for centuries but it breaks down on the rocks of personal experience.  We get attached, to pleasure, to fear, to love and through these attachments we accrue karma because we are invested in an illusion.  Karma is the scrunched up newspaper to the bonfire of any magical working.  So being ‘indestructible’ in a magical sense is to be without attachment.  Without the accumulation of karma the burn can’t ‘find a handle’.

The key here however, is realizing that being impervious to the fallout does not equate to feeling no pain.  It is embracing the pain, the sense of loss, inhabiting it and allowing it to pass through you.  In this way the karma is cleansed and a more meaningful perspective is achieved.  Sometimes of the ways you yourself have contributed to your problems, sometimes that the thing which you feared was not the end of the world, sometimes that the catharsis of grief and loss is the way to beauty.  The black Buddha-sage Dharmaraja is a refuge in times of turmoil like that, during the Ordeals and Pilgrimages of our sort, wandering peregrine about the hellscapes gathering his devotee’s from among the devils and fox spirits.  I count myself among that number, no less a child of the nail because of it, perhaps in a sense more truly a child always a child because of it.  In this sense, an effective burn is a gift of the Buddha’s that reveals to us some hitherto secret accumulation of karma.

Crowley and Burroughs and the others I mentioned at the outset, they didn’t just come into this world capable of seeing through the veil of social convention and morality.  For most of them in fact, it was quite the opposite.  They obtained to a perspective beyond the social norm because of a willingness to examine the fallout of the illusions that hold those conventions in place and evaluate their true value in their own lives.  Among the figures of the Burlesque, normative social mores are embodied by Pantaloon or as we have come to call him, ‘the Idiot’.  In the old plays he embodies the limitations of the status quo, of class and income disparity, of honor and obligation, of sexual roles and dynamics.  He always represents the obstacle which must be surmounted by the lovers to achieve union but he is not so easily defeated.  He is always both sides of the coin of conventional morality.  The old Pastor demanding pious chastity while lecherously lusting after Columbine, the old Father demanding familial piety while he defies the wishes of his son or daughter.  Regardless of the story, it is his presence that necessitates the involvement of the devil Harlequin, only a trickster can negotiate the self-validating dualisms of the cultural norm because as a liminal figure he can observe them from beyond their borders as a complete thing which can be objectified and manipulated.

Honoring the Idiot is a tricksy business because he/she is always both ends of a dualism.  Every honorific is simultaneously an insult, every gift he might bestow simultaneously a curse.  At the most basic and profound levels the spirit which fills this mask is akin to Azathoth, mad beyond reason.  It cannot be contained in a narrative arc because it defies grammar and syntax, remakes them over and over into endless cascades of meaning.  I had contemplated writing this entire piece without any grammatical structure whatsoever but decided in the end that would be a bit too hipster douche bag of me.  There is a real value in this figure and it serves nothing to cloud it with clever misdirection.  That is a bag of tricks best left to Harlequin.  The Idiot is best honored in the absence of pomp and circumstance, in the acceptance of the good with the bad, the sad with the happy, the gain with the loss, his presence is automatic in action in which we challenge the comfort of our cultural norms or the safety of the status quo.  The spirit that fills that mask is the spirit of the world and he can only embrace it by giving ourselves over to it.  To be manhandled and molested and challenged in our preconceived notions.  To love bravely, most importantly that, to love bravely in the face of loss and grief knowing that one’s heart cannot break before it has been filled to bursting.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Narrative In Several Parts (pt. II)

Clown - Doug Nox
When you hear sweet syncopation
And the music softly moans
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around in your bones

When it gets too hot for comfort
And you can't get ice cream cones
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around your bones
- T'Ain't No Sin

She said, don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop.  She said, oh god oh god.  She said, oh yes oh yes oh yes.  She said, don’t stop, oh god, oh yes.  She sings this devil’s chorus and oh no, oh god, I won’t stop.  All lovers perform the black mass; it is a secret ritual the body remembers with something down deep in the meat of us that is unlocked with prolonged eye contact.  Useless words cast off, lips mashed together we breathe each other’s breath, we taste each other’s water, we excite each other to greater frenzies.  Old Frimost knew the secret, that the furies were always just there beneath the skin hidden in the meat waiting just waiting to tear apart your Apollonian mores.  Christ was hardly the first mask worn to lead the Horribles in their triumph.  That thorny crown painting his face with the red mask of Mezzetino while he dragged his gallows through town.  Damn right he fucked that hooker, I mean just look at the signs.  Dude led the Night Circus through Jerusalem wearing the red mask.  She said, fuck .. god .. fuck.

Way back, before Mr. Lucky ran the night roads through the eastern Provinces he made acrobats and prostitutes at the back country crossroads of the old country.  Harlequin and Columbine, Mezzetino and Pantaloon.  In the beginning the circus and the brothel were intertwined inextricably with the fortune-tellers and story-tellers of Europe.  Columbine wore no mask (or top most usually) and engaged directly with the audience, be it on the cobblestone streets or in the marble halls of Kings and it was the audience who excited the performers into blasphemy.  Unlike contemporary media the audience was an innate part of every story, every performance of the commedie dell’arte and it was the job of Harlequin to drawn them into in the narrative and Columbine to hold them there.  It is not possible to casually incorporate the old mummer and mystery plays of the commedie dell’arte into contemporary western ceremonialism because they were largely unscripted and that says a lot about how far we have gotten from our roots.  All the sex and wonder gone right out of the thing.  Well, your thing anyway. 

Yet the connection is overt.  Janus Bifrons, the very ancient two-faced god of liminal spaces was widely used as an emblem for the early troupes and alongside Frimost (Dionysius Brimos) lord of the pimps is one of the few Greco-Roman deities to earn the dubious honour of being enshrined within the demonic catalogues of the rogue exorcists and pious inquisitors  of the Catholic Empire.  And if Mr. Lucky could ever be said to belong to anything it would be the liminal space so it should come as no surprise that old Janus and Brimos were ultimately counted among his cadre.  I don’t know as much as some about the old Greco-Roman stuff mind you but I figure there is a learning curve before me if the city beneath the city is all pillars and courtyards.  I am not yet done though with the limitless shanties, there are symbols here I have yet to grasp and I will stay with this first part of the dream until I have unmade them into something that works.  Fuck god I won’t stop oh yes oh yes.  You don’t listen to the stories they tell you, the gods are an untrustworthy lot and they’ll have you frothing at the mouth at Yonge and Dundas if you let them.  Yet, there is sometimes small treasures to be had rooting through their things when their backs are turned.  The current rash of demonolaters and Satanists don’t seem to have grasped that it is not the details of the story but the syntax and grammar used to tell it.

For days now the incense has burned for Harlequin and the Burlesque, several empty bottles tossed aside emptied of their spirits.  I can feel them gathering loosely behind me, the Dead of Winter, my striking party.  All Whiskey-Jacks and Tommy-Knockers, come to see this crusty phooka beat his big stick against the walls of the clapboard shanties and demand more cheap whiskey for the dead.  A Clown before a crowd of Horribles and behind his silent mask.  When I have them good and red-faced I shall lead them up the mountain and then you’ll be right for it. 

Oh yes oh yes oh yes, she said, oh god don’t stop. 

And oh no oh god I won't stop.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Narrative In Several Parts

Harlequin - Doug Nox
There's blood upon the bridal wreath
The bridal wreath, the bridal wreath
The Devil shows his shiny teeth
His shiny teeth, his shiny teeth, all shiny teeth
Now take a seat there by the door
He'll leave you on the killing floor
He's gonna set the clouds on fire
They're burning there forever more
- Chase the Clouds, verse 1

That first black breath we take all full up with lust and drugs is the beginning of the end.  This is the secret truth of the deal at the cross roads.  Death is the beginning and not the end.  True autonomy is hidden here, is the occulted relevance of the cross roads deal.  The only choice you will ever really get to make is what you will suffer for, is how you will submit, is to whom you shall bargain your soul.  Surrender is the only victory to be had for a sorcerer, a real one anyway.

Counter-intuitive I guess.  We are collectively drawn to magic because of a sense of the greater universe, the realization of our fleeting smallness in the timelessness of existence.  We seek control over our destinies when in fact there is no destiny.  It is a profound vanity to believe the universe has a plan for you because it does not.  You are the manifestation of a natural biological imperative, you are an accidental masterpiece of evolution and when creation is done with you it will portion you out at the molecular level in service of something greater and more profound.  There is no pure state of being; enlightenment was the Buddha’s mischievous talk.  The black ink of my tattoos, the poisons in my blood, none of it worse for me than breathing in the living death of my existence.

I have been set to a pilgrimage and I am unsure of where it is taking me.  In my dreams I have come back to the Nails of my youth but Qemetiel is no longer a purity of burning fields.  Now I see a ramshackle of shanties hobbled together along the banks of anti-freeze rivers, darkly haunted by inhabitants without a connection to their Other.  Beneath that endless expanse of poverty and suffering is a temple city much older than the Old Victorian that used to inhabit that space, still the colours of rust and sunset yellows but now Corinthian and Ionic pillars hold up its iron sky. 

I have wandered since December, from luxury condo to luxury condo in the ever-increasing number of sky-scrappers in Toronto.  A blur of swimming pools and hot tubs and impossible vista’s, staring out over the urban sprawl of Canada’s largest city from its center point downtown.  Cut free of the whole of an old incarnation, the woman I have loved the whole of my adult life clings to my hand, my fat cock, we are two people but one demon.  What new forms will have us?  We orbit the core of this city like a satellite picking up escape velocity. 

Qemetiel is an endless shanty town and the crowd of impoverished gods huddle about their oil drum fires, rubbing their hands together and telling stories of their lives before the fall.  Mostly lies I suspect.  I tuned up my 12-string guitar so that I could sing along with the howling winds buffeting the austere heights of the Neptune Tower on Queens Quay.  The Invisibles love the lyrical purity of a lonely musician.  I gave up the first part of my soul for all the world's magic, the second to sing like the devil himself, the third to fuck like a satyr.  Worth every penny.  Of the four mortal parts, I got one left to bargain with.  As for the three immortal parts, well they were never really mine to sell.  So I am making my way to that Black Buddha to strike my final bargain, across the endless shanties and anti-freeze rivers.  Through the poverty of your Gods, their oil-drum fires and tall tales, past the dark silhouettes of the Ha’wiyah who praise the Tetragrammaton while they jerk off to clockwork hookers and sacrifice their children in pursuit of self-deification. 

Just a crusty sorcerer with a bit of soul to sell and a knack for the hard bargain.  It is has been more than a decade since I last undertook the ordeal of the Pilgrimage and I am the wiser for them.  I will burn incense before the mask of Harlequin and let the God-who-is-Not fill it up.  I will spill blood and semen and cheap whiskey upon an altar for the Circus-Burlesque because that is what your religion is to me.  A cock-tease and a wondrous spectacle.  I will sing songs with the four winds until the Tower falls down in its joyous destruction.

And this time, I will write the whole damned thing down.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Find The Others: Audio Interview With Jake Stratton-Kent

A wonderful first entry in a casual and insightful interview series by Gordon over at Runesoup.  This interview has him riffing with Jake Stratton-Kent, a perennial favourite here at The Burn Victim.