Monday, August 30, 2010

My Pendulum Lied!

©All rights reserved *Silihari* at Flickr
Recently, I posted about my inaugural pendulum working. The initial post can be found here. Having some free time the other day, I spent the morning searching (again!) my bedroom closet for the missing book. I am sad to say that the book I am looking for, contrary to what the pendulum told me, was not to be found in the closet. I was really hoping that the missing book would turn up in that closet. Not only would I have found the book, but I would have gained a little faith in the efficacy of pendulum dowsing. The experiment was not a complete waste of time, however. I did find something worthwhile to read and a sigil whose intent has long been forgotten (a method for working with forgotten sigils can be viewed here). While I do plan on activating this sigil, no record of the sigil’s intent could be located. As a result, I will not be able to verify whether the intent of the sigil does or does not manifest.

Some off-the-cuff reasons for the failure:

1. Pendulum dowsing does not work.

2. My make-shift nut pendulum sucks.

3. My inexperience in pendulum dowsing was the culprit.

4. The book is really in the closet but my Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak is lying on top of it.

* If you are an experienced dowser and have some suggestions, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ray Sherwin and Sigils Reconsidered

Sigil magick, it would seem, has been an integral part of Chaos magick since its beginnings in the late 1970s. One of the first published works to deal with sigils at some length is Ray Sherwin’s The Book of Results. In this work Sherwin articulates not only a methodology for sigil magick but offers up some theoretical discussion as to how sigil magick works. Having recently reread Sherwin’s discussion, I have come to see a disparity between Sherwin’s method of sigil “implantation” within the subconscious and his understanding of the nature of the subconscious.

For Sherwin, who adheres to a psychological model of magick, the source of magickal efficacy is the subconscious mind, not some external “gaseous invertebrate” dwelling within the ether. As such, it behooves the reader to comprehend Sherwin’s understanding of the subconscious and its relation to the conscious mind. Much of what Sherwin sets forth concerning the nature of the mind is taken from or based upon a model of the mind known as dianetics. Simply put, dianetics states that at certain moments of unconsciousness or extreme emotional stress the analytic (conscious) mind shuts down and the reactive (subconscious) mind takes over, recording the events of which the conscious mind is oblivious. Dianetics thus provides Sherwin with a model to begin working with the true source of magical power (i.e., the subconscious).

It is Sherwin’s contention that one’s desires can be made to manifest by imbedding them within the subconscious. Unlike the unintentional imbedding of images within the subconscious mind at times of unconsciousness/stress, one’s desires/intents can be intentionally lodged within the subconscious through a particular trance state that paralyzes the conscious/analytic mind. Because the subconscious lacks the ability to reason, Sherwin proffers that one’s desires are best attained when they are first converted into symbols/glyphs/sigils prior to their implantation into the subconscious mind.

Now, my problem with Sherwin is not with his methodology per se, but with what I perceive to be an inconsistency between Sherwin’s technique and his general understanding of the subconscious mind. Sherwin’s technique of sigil embedding is based upon the premise that the subconscious mind only receives images or content at certain times – namely, during certain trance states (intentional imbedding) and during certain moments of stress or unconsciousness. However, this seems to fly in the face of his understanding of the nature of the subconscious as an ever-present recording device.

Sherwin writes,

In effect this (i.e., the unconscious mind) is the only part of the mind which is constantly vigilant and aware, even during deep sleep and unconsciousness. It is a store of memory inconceivable in size. No experience, no matter how often repeated or how insignificant, is unrecorded. All the data about your past are there …. (Sherwin, p. 34; italics mine)

This position clearly militates against the need for a technique to embed a symbol/glyph/ sigil within the subconscious mind. Being that the subconscious mind is all-seeing/all-recording the use of trance or ritual to deliver a message to the subconscious becomes superfluous. Even the necessity of the conversion of intent into a glyph become suspect, as the subconscious mind would have recorded the thought-intent prior to the glyphs construction.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Dowsing Experiment

A number of years ago a book seemed to have vanished from my residence. I looked everywhere for the damn thing without any success in locating it. What especially perturbed me about this was the fact that the book, although in my possession for nearly thirty five years, had remained unread by me. It had remained packed away in one of my book boxes until a relative had come to stay at my home for a brief time. Being that this relative had some interest in the subject of the book, I removed the book from storage and let this person read from it during their stay in my home. Shortly after their departure, I decided that I would like to read the book as well. To my dismay, the book could not be located. I searched everywhere – behind and under beds and bookshelves, in closets, in and under dresser drawers, etc. After some time, I just assumed that the relative to whom I had lent the book had lifted it from the premises. But I never knew for sure and this not knowing has been nagging at me for some time. Whether or not the book was taken from me (intentionally or unintentionally) is not an issue for me. Not knowing what became of this book is what is troubling.

Recently, I became, through a rather circuitous route, introduced to pendulum dowsing. Having spent a couple of hours learning the absolute basics, I felt confident that I could at least elicit a “yes” or “no” reply from a pendulum. All I needed was something to ask the pendulum. As an absolute beginner I needed something simple. I also needed something that I did not have a conscious bias towards - but what? Then a thought came to me. Maybe I could locate that lost book of mine. Thus, I made a pendulum and proceeded to ask the following questions:

Question: Is book (X) located in the house in which I live?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Has book (X) been removed from the house in which I live? (I like to double check)
Answer: No.

Question: Is book (X) located on the second floor of the house in which I live?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Is book (X) located in the room were my dresser drawers are kept?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Is book (X) located in the room on the second floor that contains a couch? (a double check)
Answer: No.

Question: Is book (X) located in the closet in the room where my dresser drawers are located?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Is book (X) under the bed where I sleep? (another double check)
Answer: No.

Needless to say, I will tear my closet apart at the earliest opportunity in order to determine if it is indeed there. Now, I have searched this closet several times already with no luck in finding that book. It will be a real shocker if I eventually find it hiding in there!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Working With Forgotten Sigils

©All rights reserved Katielouise at Flickr

This last winter I found several sigils in a coat pocket that I created the previous winter. I had totally forgotten about them. Not only did I forget that they existed, I forgot the intentions behind their creations. At first, I was rather disappointed that I had not worked the sigils. I mean, I had let an entire year go by without taking steps to manifest my intentions. However, I soon realized that the “losing” of the sigils for a year might actually help me to work with them. Since I had no idea what they symbolized, it would not be difficult for me to activate them without bringing their intentions to conscious thought. In addition, having absolutely no conscious awareness of their intents, I would, once they were fired, be less likely to obsess about their results. (The intentions to these sigils were with the sigils, but separate from them. Thus, I can, when I actually get around to activating them, reflect upon the success or failure of my intentions to manifest. I have not looked at the intentions since I initially sigilized them, however. I wonder if any have already become manifest).

Having come to see the benefits of possessing sigils whose intents are completely forgotten, I have recently taken up the task of devising a method for working with forgotten sigils. Working with forgotten sigils is certainly not a new idea and I am sure that others have come up with methods for working with them that are more artful than what I have come up with here. Nevertheless, I set my ideas down here to record my initial thoughts concerning the matter and to provide some ideas for those who have interest in working with sigils.


Materials needed: stack of 3x5 index cards, package of post-it notes (any size, but no bigger than 3x5), small box that will accommodate the index cards, envelope(s), an utensil for drawing sigils.

Step 1. Create a sigil and transfer it to a post-it note (some sigils will obviously not lend themselves to be treated in this manner) and adhere the post-it note with the sigil to one side of a 3x5 index card.

Step 2. Write the sigil’s intention on another post- it note and adhere it to the side of the index card opposite the sigil.

Step 3. Place the index card in a small box with the intention facing down and the sigil facing up.

Step 4. Repeat steps 1-3 until the box contains several sigils (this need not be done at one sitting but can be accomplished over time.)

Step 5. When you decide to activate a sigil (you should allow some time to pass since the creation of the first sigil to aid in the forgetting process), take all or a few of the index cards (depending on the number of cards in the box) out of the box and carefully mix them up. Be sure that the sigil remains facing up or towards you and that you do not inadvertently remove a sigil or intention post-it from their card.

Step 6. Look at the first sigil. If you think you recognize the intent, return it to the box. DO NOT CHECK THE REVERSE SIDE TO VERIFY. This will only reinforce a connection between intent and sigil and make it harder to forget. If you do not recognize the intent, set it aside and place the remaining cards back in the box.

Step 7. Remove the sigil from the 3x5 index card you set aside and activate it any way you so chose. When finished, dispose of the sigil by burning, etc.

Step 8. Remove the post-it note with the intent from the same 3x5 index card WITHOUT LOOKING AT IT and place it in an envelope. Determine the date that is four weeks from the time that you put the intention in the envelope and write this on the envelope. When this date arrives, take the intention out of the envelope and record it in your magical diary (or however you record your workings). This will keep you free from obsessive thoughts for at least four weeks.

Note: You can reuse the envelope by crossing out dates and adding new ones and index cards once the sigil and intent have been removed.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phurpa and the Liberation of Demons

If the thought of liberating a demon has never crossed your mind, you might want to take a look at this post. If you ever decide to attempt to do so yourself, I would suggest that you invite Phurpa to the party.

Who is Phurpa?

In some instances, Phurpa is seen as a manifestation or form of Hayagriva. As such, Phurpa can be held to be a protector of the Buddha’s teachings (a category of Buddhist deities known as Dharmapalas). For others, Phurpa is a source of power that bestows luck and fortune upon the fortunate and misfortune upon the unlucky (as a dealer in luck, Phurpa is associated with the planet Jupiter and Thursdays). For these individuals, Phurpa is typically held to manifest physically in three ways:

1) A wooden spike or dagger used to mark a sacred or protected area.

2) A large stylized metal dagger used to indicate the deity’s presence in a location, such as the inside of a temple.

3) A small iron dagger (phurpa) used by dagger specialists to, among other things such as yak banning, speed-walking and weather making, “liberate” a demon, thereby effectively ending the demon’s ability to cause misfortune among human beings.

The following is a short description of the dagger specialists’ tradition (#3 above) and their use of the phurpa as an instrument for demon “liberation” (Henceforth referred to as the Dagger Tradition).

Origin of the Dagger Tradition in Tibet.

According to traditional accounts, the Dagger Tradition was brought to Tibet by Padmasambhava who, while journeying to the Land of Snows, discovered the Dagger texts hidden in a cave.

Who are the Practitioners of the Dagger Tradition?

Apparently, dagger practitioners form a diverse group. Although textual references to female practitioners exist, they appear to be all males. Many are married and do not follow any ascetic rules. For the most part, the men of the Dagger Tradition come from the margins of Tibetan society - the socio-politically disenfranchised - and predominately hail from the Old School of Tibetan Buddhism (rnying ma). What appears to be a common feature among these individuals is their training in Tantra.

While a preponderance of dagger practitioners would appear to be members of the Old School, other schools have, to a lesser degree, enlisted dagger practitioners among their ranks as well. Even the 14th Dalai Lama, though he himself a proponent of the Virtuous School (dge lugs), is known to have had a dagger magician among his entourage.

The Liberation of Demons.

Despite its multifarious use in the past, the dagger practice of recent times seems to be primarily concerned with the exorcism of troublesome demons. What the excised demon undergoes as a result of the dagger ritual is not entirely clear from a reading of the dagger texts. In some texts the demon is said to be “killed” (bsad). In others, the demon is said to be “liberated” (sdrol ba). In yet others, the two terms are used interchangeably. (One may reasonably hypothesize that the term “kill” (bsad) exists as an older stratum of the texts and is a remnant left over from a pre-Buddhist dagger practices. This can only be determined by a careful analysis of the primary texts, however. ) Irrespective of these difficulties, the official Buddhist position is that the demon is liberated from the three poisons – namely, ignorance, hatred an desire.

The Liberation Ritual.

After an extensive preparatory period, the Liberation Ritual commences with an invocation of Phurpa. Whether Phurpa in invoked into the dagger practitioner or the dagger, or both, is not entirely clear. Through magical utterances (mantra) and magical gestures (mudra), the dagger magician entices (compels?) the demon to enter an effigy (either drawn or sculpted) that is situated in the center of a “demon trap” (Oftentimes, this “trap” takes the form of an equilateral triangle (drawn or otherwise) called a “yantra”). Once the demon is imprisoned within the yantra, the effigy is impaled by the dagger and the demon is “killed/liberated.” A burning of the effigy usually concludes the rite. Apparently, this ritual can be performed physically or mentally by the magician.

Two diverse interpretations of the ritual itself exist among dagger practitioners. The first is that the troublesome demon is an actual entity separate from human beings. The other, that the demon is an internal obstacle.

SOURCE: Dagger Blessing by Thomas Marcotty. A dated yet decent introduction to the Dagger Tradition.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Look at Two Salvations

Recently at The Magical Messiah the conceptual differences between the notions of salvation among Eastern religious traditions and Western religious traditions are identified. Though the post’s author sees a divergent conceptual outlook operating between the East and West, he nevertheless holds that the East and West arrives at or achieves the same religious goal. You can view the original post here. I would just like to give a few comments concerning this post below. In my post, I will limit my discussion primarily to issues I find troubling in relation to Buddhism.

At the outset, the author identifies the conceptual outlook of the Eastern traditions toward salvation as one's “attaining to correct knowledge of the true Self and that Self’s relationship to Reality”, whereas the conceptual outlook of the Western traditions towards salvation is articulated as “the realignment of the lower self, psyche, or soul with the higher Self or spirit.” In this, I think the author’s presentation of the conceptual outlook of the traditions is, in very general terms, an adequate model for exploring the contrasting viewpoints among the Eastern and Western traditions. However, caution is needed when lumping the various traditions together to form either of the two broad categories of “Eastern “ or “Western” traditions and their corresponding conceptual outlooks regarding salvation . Hinduism and Buddhism, at least from an orthodox point of view, offer very different presentations of the individual and salvation/liberation. Even within each of the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism themselves quite disparate views on important issues related to the nature of reality, the individual, "no-self" (anatman) and salvation/liberation are entertained. For instance, are we to accept the Vedic religion to be a part of the Hindu tradition? If so, how are we to rectify its conception of salvation as the correct performance of ritual with the view presented above, namely – that salvation is the attainment of correct knowledge? What are we to make of the many practicing Buddhists for whom salvation through correct knowledge means little to nothing, but instead are concerned with ethical action and “salvation” through better rebirths?

While the above issues are important, they are of minor concern to me in relation to the actual presentation of the conceptual outlook of the Eastern traditions. My difficulties may only be semantic in nature. The author’s use of the terms “Self” and “true self” are troubling since Buddhism denies the existence of “self” (atman). A definition of “Self” or “true self” from the author’s perspective would be illuminating (I will have more to say about what I think the author intends by these words below).

The author continues to demonstrate the conceptual disparity between the Eastern and Western traditions by stating that the Eastern traditions deny “the reality of both the physical body and the psyche, while the Western schools affirm the existence of both of the same elements but sees flaws in them….” This is simply erroneous, at least with respect to Buddhism. In Buddhism the mind and body are not seen as unreal or illusory. What is illusory or unreal is a mistaken conception about them. Indeed, one of the earliest means to salvation/liberation was the technique of analyzing the constituent elements of existence in regard to the individual (skandha) and external phenomena (dharma). It was hoped that by doing so, the mediator would perceive that which is not among those things that do in fact exist, namely- “self” or atman. The early Abhidarma texts preserve a plethora of approaches for analyzing such phenomena. Furthermore, there is a cornucopia of Buddhist texts dealing with both psychological and epistemological models of the mind. In these texts the mental/psychic components are not seen as unreal or illusory. Instead, these components are contemplated in order to show the mediator exactly where illusion or ignorance originates in the mind, how it continues to reside in the mind and how it may be eradicated.

After detailing what he sees as the apparent conceptual disparities between East and West, the author presents what appears to be his major thesis, namely- that despite all conceptual differences or distinctions the Eastern and Western traditions achieve the same religious goal. They all end up at the same place. Now, what exactly is this religious goal that the author sees as being shared among the Eastern and Western traditions? According to the author, it is the identification with the Absolute. It is the identification with something (i.e., the Self) that is the antithesis of the transitory constituents of mind and body. Exactly what this something/Self is remains unclear. However, the author indicates that it is “beyond time, space and death.” It is in fact a “Changeless Reality.” This view of reality smells of monism and is functionally equivalent to the teachings of the Advaita Vedanta, an influential sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy at the time of the Buddha. According to Advaita Vedanta, the only reality is the Absolute, which is Brahman. Typically, this Brahman is designated by the term atman or “self” when it remains undiscovered among the illusory or transitory components of mind and body. Now it is just this “self” that is vehemently denied within early Buddhism by the anatman (“no-self”) doctrine (of course, the anatman doctrine was supplanted later on among certain Mahayana schools by the doctrine of sunyata or “emptiness” in order to deny the reality of other non-existents as well). Indeed, among the early Buddhists no-thing is found outside of the transitory components of body/matter and mind. Here salvation is the recognition of the nature of the transitory components of existence (dharma) alone. No-thing exists outside these transitory components.

Now, in all fairness to the author of Two Salvations, certain Buddhist schools have been interpreted by Western scholars to be monistic . The Yogacara school, certain Madhyamaka teachings, and certain forms of the Buddha-nature doctrine have been especially susceptible to such interpretations. Many contemporary scholars who are working with the primary texts, however, find fault with these interpretations. What is more, certain Buddhist schools have accused other Buddhists of being monists. Despite these facts, no Buddhist school will accept the idea that it adheres to a monistic philosophy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Three Ms: Three Methods of Magic

From my limited exposure to magic theory (magic here= causing change to occur in conformity with will) I have come to see three methods whereby magic may be enacted. Henceforth, these three methods will be known as the Three Ms on account of the titles I have attributed to them. Of course, everything that is said below comes from one just beginning to come to grips with magic and its application. I would welcome any comments or criticisms my readers may care to offer. Hopefully in a year’s time I can review this post and laugh at my naiveté.


This is probably the most recognizable method as it is the type that generally finds itself presented in books and movies. It is the method of ritual performance where circles are cast, foreign words are written and strange sigils are drawn, words of power are intonated and exotic instruments are wielded. For some, the magical ritual and its accoutrements are understood to be a micro-cosmic or symbolic depiction of macro-cosmic forces. Others will see the magical ritual and its accoutrements not as mere symbols but as powerful items in and of themselves. What unifies this group? It is the belief that the mere performance of a magical ritual itself is capable of bringing about the desired goal all on its own.


Those who engage in this method of magic do so by holding a goal, understanding the conditions whereby their goal can be achieved and then performing the necessary actions to bring about the goal (REMEMBER - magic here= causing change to occur in conformity with will). For example, if I want to get a pay raise from my employer I must first understand the conditions that would make my boss shell out more dough. For instance, I should understand that my employer will view me as an asset worthy of more money by being punctual, reliable, hard working, cooperative, a team player, etc. Understanding such things, however, is inadequate in itself. One must DO the things that are seen to be the necessary to achieve the goal. Of course, there may be other and more effective means to procure the goal. One could marry the boss’s daughter or son, for example.


This method consists of a combination of Methods 1 and 2. Those who advocate this method hold that performing the MAGICAL RITUAL METHOD and the MUNDANE METHOD in tandem carries a greater magical punch than either of the two methods alone. Typically, an advocate of the Mixed Method begins by engaging in a magical ritual (Method 1) and then opening up mundane pathways (Method 2) by which the intention of the ritual can be accomplished or actualized.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Successful Sigil

During the first week of July I posted a sigil and asked my readers to assist me in its activation (you can read the original post here). In that post I stated that I would, after the month had ended, reveal the intention of the sigil and relay whether the sigilized intention was or was not made manifest. So, here is what it was all about.


The sigil was created by writing out my intention, discarding all the repeating letters and then using the remaining letters to form the symbol that appears within the original post. Unfortunately, I am now unable to find the sheet of paper that contained my intention but it ran something like - “I will that at least five new individuals begin to follow my blog before the end of July, 2010.”

I chose the words "at least five" to indicate that five followers would be the minimum accepted. I chose the words "new individuals begin to follow my blog" to preclude the four readers I had at the time from being counted among the five. I chose the words "before the end of July, 2010," to limit the experiment to the month of July and prevent its activation by future readers (e.g., being activated in July of 2011, 2012, etc.).


The sigil experiment was a success. At the time I activated the sigil and asked others to do so as well, there were four followers of my blog. Within three weeks time The Magical Lotus had three new followers. All I needed was two more. On July 30th something rather strange happened. My Blogger account reported that two more followers had been added, but only one visibly appeared on the Google Friend Connect application on the blog itself. In other words, my account said that I had X number of followers whereas my blog showed X-1 followers. If this discrepancy is to be explained by someone anonymously following the blog ( I don’t know if this is possible), then the number of new followers during the month of July would have been at least five on the 30th. Irrespective of this dilemma, another individual began to follow my blog on the 31st. With this additional follower the Magical Lotus clearly and without a doubt received at least five new followers within the month of July (I say at least five because I have no way of knowing if anyone started to follow my blog during the designated time by way of methods other than Google Friend Connect and NetworkedBlogs. For instance, anyone who is following my blog by direct link cannot be accounted for. This did not occur to me at the time I fired the sigil, however. Funny retrospect I got exactly what I asked for).


Even though I consider my sigil work to have been a success, several factors had the potential to thwart my intent. An important component of sigil magic is the idea that one should, after firing a sigil, avoid bringing the sigil and its intention into conscious awareness. The idea is to let the sigil sink deep into the subconscious where it can be effective. Because I was still working on the blog itself at this time, I inadvertently came upon the sigil several times, thus breaking the rule of “sigil avoidance.” Also, my doubts regarding the effectiveness of sigil magic certainly had the potential to hinder the experiment (that this doubt persists is strange given that I have had some success with prior sigils). My general feeling on the subject is that sigils are more likely to be effective with Self-Magic than with bringing about external events. In addition, I chose to have the sigil activated by means of a method I myself devised. The method of activation itself had the potential to be ineffectual. In spite of all this, the sigil worked like a charm!


1) Sigils often work in spite of the many potential obstacles to its success.
2) Even the most basic of magical experiments can weave a nebulous web of events that are hard to interpret if notes are not taken along the way. So... TAKE NOTES NEXT TIME, KARMAGHNA!