Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Naked Magic - Part Three: Calling the Ancients Forth

(Or how to invoke the Spirits without rude words)

Couple posts back, I wrote about the art of magic and knowing some basics. The directions and what they mean. The tools of the magician. So while some folks are out shopping for the gods (or in my case, the Lwa), the real magician is sitting at his desk, pen in hand, pondering the written word. Honest, I am not making that part up.

I just finished a long article on writing as an esoteric art form. Stodgy stuff, nice and dry -- an academic article worthy of its citations, commentary and footnotes (yawn.) But it really got me thinking about the work of a magician, and just what is needed to get your Godform on. I know Goetic art is getting a real workout these days, but that's just one part of the formula. What you really need is a good speaking voice and the acting chops of a Barrymore, inorder to bring heaven down to earth.

This past weekend, we serve Ogoun with a huge feast, lots of singing and banging of machetes. The Iron Man was mighty pleased. But I began the work with a full-on evocation that a friend in Germany sent me. This person has worked with the Lwa for 40-odd years. He does a fine job of melding Vodou with ceremonial magic. And his writing is superbly point-on for evocation. A small sample for your speaking pleasure - face the East, raise your dominant hand and make a fist. Speak the following with virtue and power:

Burn all of the errors of the past with the fires of my anger and all‑consuming fire of will, for I am OGOU‑FERAY.
 Let not the shadows of the past remain upon the face of the earth, for I shall plow a million times over the ground of the dead, to destroy and create anew, for I am OGOU‑ASHADE. 
Let not history remember the names of those who have given themselves unto errors and to the causing of pain and suffering to my people, for such history I shall cause to be destroyed, for I am OGOU‑OBATALA.. . (etc.)  

Good stuff.

I wrote hundreds of rituals when I was in training for the position of Magus in the SoL. I should probably publish them someday, so they will be used by folks. I certainly wrote them for that purpose. I've become lazy in Vodou. After all, there is a liturgy to be used. The words, the songs and the invocations are all there. I just have to get them memorized. But I was so taken by this one, that I had to use it. I had the entire sosyete stand and deliver, as I orated my little fanny off. I did do the traditional invocation over the veve in service. And I said prayers at the altars during the salutes. But this just felt right. Especially since it names Ashade - that was Edgar's Met Tet. So in a way, I also invoked him into the service as well.

My point here is that evocation is all about creating space for something to be with you. The word means "to call forth", and an magical evocation is even more than that simple phrase. Chic Cicero states that if invocation is the act of inviting Something in, evocation is the act of becoming that Something. I really wanted Ogoun present. And He came forth as requested.

But not because I mumbled, or wandered around in my speech. I choose these words for their meaning and their power. I evoked with great gusto and energy. And I did it so I could become Ogoun later in the service.

Dolores was a world class actress, trained in the London Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her tone and meaning were always evoking something - her disgust, her dismay, or her delight in what we were doing. "Balcony" she'd intone seriously, after we'd all taken a turn at evoking paragraph from our manuscripts of rituals. That meant whoever was seated far away couldn't hear us. "Mean it" was another saying, when we lagged in enthusiasm.

She taught me to speak with energy, to mean what I said and to do it with style and passion. Her example was to read from anything anyone had in the room - and make it sound amazing. And that was the secret. It wasn't what was written there, it was the passion, the intent, the energy and the vocalization that made it work. It was also what wasn't said - the meaning one implied by inflection, tone and pitch that also made the evocation work.

So go ahead, decorate your temple like an HGTV host on acid; wear all the bells and smells, medals and medallions you own; burn that last ten pounds of frankincense until the EPA comes knocking at the door. In the end, if you cannot orate the evocation with great emotion and power, then you will not call anything but derision into your space.

Too bad too, cause Mr. Mojo Rising is right there, waiting for the invite. If you want to party like its 1999, then you'd best get your evocation on and learn to speak like there is no tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Magickal Groups and their Purpose

I wanted share an article I found most worthy of reading:

The Real Magick of the Golden Dawn

In this article, Donald Michael Kraig makes a very good point of what a magickal group offers - the opportunity to learn how to do something -- and even the chance to learn how NOT to do something. Sometimes, that last sentence is even more important than the first.

It's become the norm in magick today, to poo-poo being in a group. Secret Societies, magick covens, and even sosyetes like ours are often maligned as being a waste of time. That they offer nothing of value, as they are old fashioned, stuffy and full of self-aggrandizing fools who don't couldn't tell real magick from stage fluff.

While that may be true sometimes in magickal groups, it is often in a group where the real lessons of magick are taught. Groups teach more than how to invoke a god form or where to call the Watchtowers. In a group, you learn the dynamics of power - both real and imagined.

My first step into a magical group was a Servants of the Light ritual led by my teacher, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. We were working with the Black Goddess and as was her style, Dolores had us all up and on our feet, singing and moving in multiple circles. The idea was to chant until the trance held and then the Goddess would speak through one of the participants. At least, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

What really ensued was little more than magical mayhem. Each circle couldn't seem to get the beat of the chant, thus some moved faster while other lagged behind. The women were looser and more willing to just 'let go' and sing, while the guys seemed terribly self conscious, and couldn't carry the tune, remember the words or move properly without stepping on one of us. Finally, in frustration, Dolores called a halt to the proceedings and simply glared at all of us. We felt terrible. We were contrite. We begged to try again. Dolores consented but only just. We began again, this time with renewed vigor and energy. The circles formed and reformed, the men bellowed their lines with gusto and the women sang with full hearts (or with thanks for not being stepped on). In any event, it worked -- the Dark Goddess descended upon the smallest woman present, with a fury that was stunning to behold.  She verbally lashed out at some, stormed about the room with others and left quite of a few of us in a heap of quivers. With a final few words of warning, She grabbed one of the guys and gave him a solid tongue lashing of another kind and then - pop, She was gone, leaving the vessel in her own quivering heap of tears. We stood/sat/laid in silent awe for a moment. Dolores stood up dramatically from her throne and spoke en voce - "now That is how it's done, people." And with a floruish, turned and went out of the room. I was smitten and have never been the same since.

My experience of being in the Servants of the Light was a delight. I spent ten years at the knee of my teacher, soaking up everything I could about being a magician, learning the craft, working with others and developing a magical practice. When the time came for me to leave, she gave me her blessing to send me on my way.

I probably could have done it alone, through books. But it was way more fun in the group. Yes, there were spats and squabbles. What family doesn't have them? But I learned something else as well, something you can't get as a solo magician. I learned about the magic that is Love. I learned that Love can defuse the hottest argument. Love can bind you for life to people who were strangers at the first meeting. Love makes you stay up all night fixing robes so your brother/sister/husband/friend/Magus can look their best at the ritual. And that Love can repair, repaint, cook, mend, uphold, laugh and cry over bad rituals, broken wands and burning altars, often at the same time.

Being in the SoL was a life changer for me. It taught me how to make magic in the circle and outside of it. It showed me how strangers can unite behind an idea and bring it forth in shining ways to manifest in our lives. Being in the SoL also showed me how not to do certain things in magic. To not step on another person's invocation, because yours is less than ideal.  To balance the energies in the room before hand, so the work isn't one sided. Sometimes, learning what did not work, was just as important as learning what did. And that all of it wasn't worth even attempting, if you all weren't on the same page, at the same time, doing your level best so the effort would be worth the final finish.

So to those who say that groups don't work, I offer my own experiences in both the SoL and the Sosyete as proof that they do. I believe that Magickal groups are about to make a renaissance in the world today. We need some old fashioned magick to balance all this electronic and Internet who-ha. Who's with me?

Give me a moment to get the brazier smoking and let's invoke the gods for a party on the astral.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Haitian Artwork for Sale on eBay

Wanted to let (ok, ask, push, cajole, demand or whine - take your pick) folks know to head over to my eBay page and see the artwork I have up for sale. There's only so many walls to hang stuff on, and these have been languishing behind my couch for , oh I don't know - a couple years maybe? If that sounds terrible, then consider this -

If they weren't behind my couch, they'd be rotting happily in the summer sunshine and heat of Haiti. These are from Jacmel, an area with a ton of artists and no place to display the artwork. When I purchased them in 2008, they weren't just dirty - they were filthy. They had been displayed in an open air market. The canvases were so dry, they were brittle. The paint was coated with a lovely layer of dust and some pieces actually felt gritty.

Of course, this did not sway the seller one iota to lower the price for me. Her come back was that I'd be taking home a little bit of Jacmel -- and she wasn't kidding either.

I had a professional clean the art, and we mounted them just so they'd be safe and vertical. But I've been staring at them for five years now, and it's time for them to find new homes.

So if you'dlike to purchase any of them, they can be found at this link:

And just to tease ya all, here's a couple shots of the lot: Enjoy! 1/2 of the price goes to the artists back in Jacmel, so it's a really worthy cause. And to help ease your wallet (or mind, which ever), the other 1/2 is tax deductible. So you are still making it work, regardless.
Danbala by Harry Cabe

Countryside Rara by Harry Cabe

Ezili Dantor and Danbala by Harry Cabe

Freda and Danbala by harry Cabe

Ceremony by Harry Cabe

Rara by Harry Cabe

Haitian Hillside by Parizot Domond

Graveyard by Roi David Annisey

Tambor by Roi David Annisey

Drummer by Roi David Annisey

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Naked Magic - Part Two

Sorry darlings - had a wee bit of bronchitis last week. Much better now thank you, so let's continue.

Naked Magic is about doing the Great Work as it's called in western mystery circles. The Great Work is an allusion to bettering yourself, and finding conversation with your Higher Selves. Some people call them the HGAs or Holy Guardian Angels. In Vodou, we call them Met Tet or Masters of our Heads. However you label them, they accompany us for all of our lives, and help us find our way back to the Divine.

There are as many ways of talking to HGAs as there are HGAs. One that has proven very efficacious and time tested is Evocation. Now, here's where it gets interesting.

Evocation means to evoke something. It's the act of calling Like unto Like. Want Ogun to come around? Then, you'd best set a fiery red table of food he loves, liquor he drinks and incense to stink up the joint (metaphorically speaking). Have lots of metal to clang and a big ole machete ready to be brandished. And sing LOUD, because Ogoun is a LOUD spirit who comes crashing and yelling into the space at hand. Now that's the kind of evocation I can get behind.

Evocation can also mean the words and intent spoken. It's like a recital on steroids. You are asking for a Lwa to come down and be with you.  An entity that doesn't take the train or plane to arrive. Want Someone that can move through time and space to arrive in your temple? Then you'd best be prepared to speak with VIRTUE - meaning, a firm and solid voice, a big attitude and the chutzpa to back it up. There's no murmuring, mumbling or whispering in evocation. You need to project your voice to the cheap seats of the astral gallery. And MEAN what you say. Only then will the gates of the astral swing open to allow the Spirits to descend.

Dolores used to say that a year in a theater troupe was a good way to get your evocation on. The practice of strutting across a stage, putting on airs and reciting memorized lines with meaning is just like walking into a consecrated space and evoking the archangels. Both require training and practice. Both need a good voice and a great personality. And both demand that the speaker fully believe in what they are saying. An actor on a stage is just another magician doing their art. As a magician or a mambo in a ritual performance, all the stage directions and teachings apply fully. Stand up straight and tall; project with a deep voice; speak lively and mean what you say.

If you want the big guns of the astral to pay attention, you must come up to their level. And the way to begin is with a kick-ass evocation. There are other things yo can add to the production. Proper robes, correct incenses, authentic sigils and private prayers. But all if won't matter a whoot if you can't speak up and get their attention.

So make like Demosthenes speaking at the edge of the ocean. Leave out the marbles, but get your voice up to par by singing, speaking, reading out loud. A clear voice goes along way in Evocatory Ritual. Once you can speak without faltering, you are ready for the next step - preparation of the space.

Start practicing and we'll talk again next week. Be well and watch out for those rogue waves. They're a killer.