May 30, 2012

On the Magistry of the East

One of the two interesting features of my natal chart is that Mercury is exalted exactly by degree (that is, in the 15th degree of Virgo). As such, intellectualism, science, communication, etc have had a huge impact on my life; for example, it was calculus that really started my occult studies proper (story at a later date).

What this means practically is that I'm incredibly good at creating "systems" of information, or learning those already in place, and understanding them well enough to implement them correctly in real-world scenarios with little to no practice. As an example, I was that asshole in organic chemistry (one of my favorite subjects) whose reactions went perfectly every time on the first try, because I understood exactly what I was doing and what was supposed to happen. When I build things (like magical tools, or cabinets for my parents' kitchen), my products tend to come out perfectly, with few to no mistakes to correct, on the first try. When I try a new magical ritual, I usually get some tangible result on the first try, and rarely have the experience of simply running into a wall, or talking into dead space (although, obviously, results improve dramatically with time and practice).

While this may look like magic, privilege, or inordinate amounts of luck to onlookers (especially anal-retentive lab-mates whose reactions have quite literally melted, burned, or exploded), the "secret" is really nothing more than careful and thorough study of the subject at hand before I ever start on a project, and an attitude of perfectionism throughout it. If you want your organic reactions to go perfectly, you study the shit out of the reaction you're supposed to be running, making sure you understand each step, and executing said steps as exactly as possible during your own work. If you want perfect cabinetry, you have to know exactly where every piece goes beforehand (no bag of mystery parts left over afterward), and make sure you measure twice and cut once. If you want a magical ritual actually work, you have to know exactly what each part of the ritual does, what is supposed to happen when, and more importantly, why each thing is supposed to happen. And most important of all you need to be sure that you can execute all of these things in your mind before you ever begin. When I pick up my glassware, I'm running an experiment for the first time physically, but for the fourth or fifth time including my "mental dry-runs".

Now an interesting thing happens when a person with a trait like this starts to use astrology in their magical practice. You study the motions of the planets. You study the interactions of the planets, houses, signs, and fixed stars. You study how these things affect different people (or things!) with different natal charts. You start to notice brilliantly subtle interactions and harmonics. You constantly have an awesome astrological clock like this one running in the background so you can get a "feel" for the speeds of the planets and stars, and know intuitively where they are in the sky without casting a chart. You incorporate all of these things into your other magical work as far as you feel comfortable. But there's something you've neglected entirely.

You never actually go outside and look at the stars.

In all of your intellectualizing, you've forgotten that the construct of "astrology" is one system of understanding the motions and effects of a very physical reality, and you've failed to engage with the experience of that reality in any meaningful way at all. Which brings us (finally!) to the point of this post.

One of the awesome benefits of the house I've been living in for the past year is that my deck has an unoccluded view of the eastern sky, in an area wonderfully devoid of light and noise pollution. It wasn't until I started spending a lot of time out on the deck (50% study breaks, 50% avoiding my landlord/roommate) that I started looking, and I mean really looking at the stars. Experiencing them in a way that allowed me to get out of my head, out of the constant noise of the monkey mind and its categorizing and defining, and yet still remain in the world in a way meditation does not offer me. And then one evening, staring into the East as the sun was setting behind me, just as the stars were beginning to appear on the horizon, I saw it.

The dome over my head was moving. I was no longer looking at the stars, reasonably far away; I was infinitesimally small, the point without dimension at the center of a sphere, looking outward at a reality that was impossibly immense and impossibly far away. I was no longer a man looking at a still snapshot of a moving system; I was within the system, watching it grind along at an impossibly slow, but equally and impossibly powerful pace. I was watching forces that defy imagination being born right in front of me. The sheer immensity of the universe threatened to sweep me away as it arced over my head. Entire worlds were dying behind me as they sank into the abyss. For one instant, I felt the forces that we as magicians try to harness the tiniest slivers of in our lives. And for the first time, I really understood what it was that I had been studying, and it's changed me in ways I'm still struggling to articulate.

I saw why all magicians should meditate on the cosmos itself. I saw the Magistry of the East.

May 15, 2012

On Radio Silence: Current Projects

So I, uh, kinda dropped off the map for a bit. In the middle of a super-awesome blog project. Oops.

The truth is, the New Year, New You project was a huge success in a lot of ways. Huge enough, at least, that on top of my PhD program, my blogging/twittering/IMing time has pretty consistently given way to more menial tasks. Like eating.

Since I *really* don't want to spend hours writing a gigantic post that nobody will bother reading, here's a quick recap of my successes since Valentines Day:

  • Passed all of my first-year pharmacy courses with flying colors.
  • Secured a position as a tutor of incoming first-year students for two classes (Drug Mechanics and Biological Sciences Integrated).
  • Joined a crazy group of wizards to found an online Mastermind group. Great advice and kinship all around.
  • Heavily beefed up my home apothecary in preparation for some of the super-awesome projects listed below.
  • Landed a summer internship that will allow me to fund said projects.
  • Fucked up a lot of craft-work and learned a lot of good crafting techniques that will make said projects spectacular instead of mediocre.
  • Found a crazy sleep schedule that actually allows me to both dream and function normally.
  • Lost a significant amount of weight in preparation for my summer exercise routine.
  • Somehow actually got a bit of "fun" reading done.
In retrospect, that doesn't seem like a very "magical" list, but I assure you, there was plenty of tweaking of life circumstances to get there. And now that I've had a few days to recover from the rigor of school, I finally have the time and motivation to start of some of my back-burner, "heavy magic" projects:

  • Creating a sprayable liquid wax solution that will evaporate to leave a hard, solid wax product behind, to be used to apply consecrated waxes to delicate surfaces.
    • This project is actually already done, but the simple technique is so useful that it needs to be blogged so others can use it. I will not disappoint.
  • Creating Bardon's "compound fluid condenser" true to the original text, complete with real gold solution and ingredients from the ass-end of the earth.
    • I have 90% of the components I need ready to go, barring one or two seasonal items. Creation will be complex, and have my own pseudo-alchemical flair to it, but the entire process will be blogged with lots of pretty pictures. Small amounts of product may be for sale if and only if I manage to create a superior magical product.
  • Creating a magic mirror by direct and careful flame-on-glass lampblacking.
    • Both of the above projects are entirely devoted to making sure this one comes out spectacular. I've got the technique down pat, and am currently on the hunt for the perfect piece of glass to use. Again, pretty pictures.

This is only a small fraction of what I'm working on, but they're the biggest and most overdue projects. Now that I finally have time to blog again, I'm sure you'll be hearing all about these minor things as ADD inspires.

It's good to be back in the Lab again. Ora et labora.

January 13, 2012

On Cleaning, Migrating Compulsions, and Role Reversals [NYNY]

Those of you who have been here for any amount of time will remember I learned my lesson about keeping up with magical housework in what I'm dubbing The Spider Plague of 2011. Well, mostly. Kind of.

(tl;dr Feel free to skip to the magical/NYNY bit here.)

Example: Approximately 300 metric fucktons of grade-A fail.
I've actually been good about keeping up with regular (although not at all thorough or formal) cleansings since moving to my new mountain home. At least, there hasn't been the need for another spiritual Hiroshima, and the overtly large jar of GTFO potion lies safely tucked away in a back corner of my spiritual supplies drawer. Add to this the fact that I gave up a metric fuck-ton (that's an SI standard, that is) of possessions (read: useless clutter) in my interstate move, and finally having a real dresser with an appropriate number of drawers, and I've actually been keeping things pretty clean on the physical plane as well. Well, mostly. Kind of.

Never thought I'd be happy to
no longer have a desk.
You see, my problem has always been papers, tchotchkes, and dust. Having kicked the paper habit, the dust actually gets cleaned, and the tchotchkes have all found more permanent homes or been discarded. But it seems that all the "clutter" (in the nebulous sense) has somehow migrated outward... just beyond the bubble of personal space that is my room, chaos reigns. Well, mostly. Kind of.

It starts with the mail. Now, I've never lived with someone that gets as much mail (most of it legitimate) as my roommate. Maybe it's her refusal to do anything business-related online, but I'd never seen a larger-than-average mailbox stuffed to the brim every day until I moved here. What most people don't realize is, this masses of mail this large collapse and condense into smaller, but I'm convinced sentient (and evil) clusters, which somehow invade the entire house like rodents. Every surface outside my bubble is eventually affected, which causes enough dirt and dust to build up that by the time it all gets sorted properly (into a legit full-size filing cabinet), cleaning all the house surfaces is a multi-day job. I'm really not trying to make my roommate sound like a slob, it's honestly just a volume issue. It is rather entertaining, though, to see an issue I once had (albeit with school papers) reflected outwardly like this; if nothing else, it solidifies the advantage of the "do it now" principle I've been trying to adopt, in that these torturous cleaning sessions could be mostly avoided if there were a daily read/file/shred routine.

So that's where I left that.
It ends (thankfully there are only two items on this list, windbag that I am) with my car. I'm convinced that useless junk magically (hah) appears there. Nevermind the papers, cords, fast food bags, bits and bobs, and the odd sock, but I recently found an entire suitcase of clothes I didn't know I had which has apparently been living in a dark corner of my trunk for the past 5 months. Seriously? I mean, I know I dress "professionally" most every day and so only go through about a tenth of my wardrobe, but seriously? How did I not notice that?

 Alternatively, I need to work on my
conjuring-sexy-maids-from-the-ether skills.
It's been said time and time again, but even though it seems like your normal, everyday clutter, all this shit really starts to effect you magically in a way that's not really obvious until you actually get around to cleaning it. Not that I don't have excuses at the ready for why I haven't gotten around to taking care of it before now. After all, I've been busy being a full time student, working, setting up a tutoring business, setting up an online magical project/group, beefing up my regular magical practice, etc, etc, et fucking cetera. But hell, in response to reading Deb's post on making way (which the "do it now" principle demands I put into action immediately) I spent an entire afternoon cleaning, only got through about a third of the junk, did no magical cleaning whatsoever, and still I can feel a difference in the place. A small difference, but a good one nonetheless. The quality of my regular work was definitely improved tonight, and I have high hopes for bigger improvements as I tackle the rest of the house over the next few days, finally going over everything with a light misting of heavily diluted (like, three drops in a large spray bottle) GTFO potion. Lesson learned; banish your shit applies to the physical plane as well.

My first weekend home in a month, and I'm spending it cleaning? New me, indeed.

December 26, 2011

On the "New Year, New You" Experiment

Alright, so in the midst of my reader backlog (620 unread posts? Ye gods I need to go on a blog-diet) I somehow missed out on the awesomeness that is Deb's New Year, New You experiment. I have to admit, when I first read the title I was sort of expecting some kind of fuzzy post about new-year's resolutions, which, by the way, I'm absolutely allergic to. But instead, I found something that really spoke to me in an unexpected way.

You see, I have a problem with inertia. Not like "it's hard to get started" inertia, but "the harder you try, the deeper you sink" inertia, and I've only very recently started unraveling the mechanics behind it. I end up starting things with the best of intentions (like Jason's Strategic Sorcery course, which this blog was supposed to be about), diving in head-first, setting up a daily practice and generally getting along wickedly... until I don't. Maybe I need to leave town for a few days, or I get sick, or one of a million other things happens, and it screws up a very minor aspect of my practice. Like missing a note while playing the piano, the flow of things is interrupted, and one minor incident ripples outward until everything is an absolute mess.

Now, instead of just trying to power through and make the best of my "mistakes", the perfectionist in me racks up an emotional backlog of guilt for the things I was supposed to have done, but didn't get to. Eventually, after a few minor mistakes (or straight-up life circumstances), the emotional weight of feeling like you're somehow "failing" builds up to the point where every aspect of the Work feels like... well, work. It becomes an obligation, something I feel like I should be doing, rather than want to be doing, and this is where the perfectionist teams up with the procrastinator and starts saying things like "Oh, well you can't do X until you do Y, and you can't do Y for whatever bullshit reason, so you might as well just wait on this." Which, of course, starts the guilt-cycle again.

And you know what? Fuck that. I'm sick and tired of living every day of my life feeling like some cosmic mommy-figure is going to jump out and chastise me for all the work I've been putting off. It's like knowing you have a test that you haven't studied for, every goddamn day. And I'm done.

For 2012? Every time I think "I could/should/want-to do that", I'm doing it, no mater what it is, and I'm doing it now rather than later. The perfectionist in me is going to throw an absolute fit, but honestly? I don't care if half of everything I do ends in disaster, because I'll actually be doing something instead of agonizing about what I'm not doing, and that's the real victory. Everything else comes second, but here are some secondary victories that might crop up as side effects:
  • Finishing Jason's Strategic Sorcery course
  • Getting my tutoring business off the ground
  • Keeping up with my pharmacy studies and going into "panic mode" far less often
  • Finally getting involved with the local magical community
  • Losing the weight I've gained over the past two years
  • Reading for fun more often
  • Maintaining a sane sleep schedule
  • etc, etc, etc.
Light up your incense, boys; it's time to make 2012 your bitch.

December 7, 2011

On Free Tarot Readings (Limited time only!)

I used tonight's very short Lunar talismanic window to perform a brief blessing on my beautiful Centennial Edition Smith-Waite deck. Now, I've never been much of a card reader, and I'm definitely in need of practice if I'm going to pick up this new skill, so without further ado, I offer the readers of my humble blog a free reading, with a few caveats:

1) I believe in confidentiality, so please don't post your question here. Email me at pallasrenatus at gmail dot com.
2) I have no idea how many requests I'm going to get, so please be patient, I'll answer them all as fast as I can.
3) Remember that general questions get general answers, so if you're expecting a specific answer, please ask a specific question.
4) My choice of spread, since I'm the one who needs practice.

With that said, email away! I'll edit this post and close the offer if I get overwhelmed, but I will answer any question received to the best of my ability.

(Edit: This offer is now closed, and thank you to everyone who participated! I may offer free or very cheap readings again in the future, but I'll have to figure out some sort of system so I don't get bombarded and keep people waiting. You'll see this offered in the sidebar if it ever becomes a reality.)

December 6, 2011

On Continuing Lunar Awesomeness

As promised, here are my continued notes concerning the effects of the Lunar talisman.

Now, some of you know that I don't often ascribe supernatural causes to mundane events, except when shit gets really crazy and/or obvious. Sometimes, though, things just line up too well to be considered coincidence.

Just after the events of the previous post, I left to visit my family in Florida for a week, and promptly forgot the talisman in my car. While I slept well and had a few vague dreams during that week, nothing out of the ordinary happened. When I returned, however, and moved the talisman back into my bedroom (really the only place I have at the moment to store much of anything), things started to get a little... weird, for lack of a better term.

First and foremost, the vivid dreams re-started almost immediately. Rather than filling themselves with Lunar imagery like my first experience, however, each dream tended to focus on a single person in my life, and the emotional issues I have (or had forgotten about) with them. Imagine a nightly outpouring of "everything I need to say but can't/haven't/didn't"; sometimes this is pleasant (and, ahem, graphic), sometimes painful, but always stark. And, I eventually realized, I always felt better waking up than I did going to sleep, as if some weight had been lifted from me during the night.

During my waking hours, I've noticed I've developed a tendency to indulge in my emotions more fully, to mixed effect. While this allows me to more fully enjoy situations which are already pleasant, I've noticed that unpleasant situations tend to be harder to "brush off", and can taint my mood for much longer than usual... if I don't meditate that day.

I know, I know, I've had the virtues of daily meditation drilled into my mind for years, but for the first time its benefits have become glaringly obvious in my day-to-day life. Not to mention, my free time has been limited because of the naps.

Now if only I had a talisman for waking up with perfect hair...
Oh yeah, the naps. Those of you who know me in real life know that I have never been able to nap before in my life. I wake up feeling absolutely awful... until recently. Since the creation of the talisman, I've been taking naps nearly every day (except for the week I was on vacation), even when I've had a full night of sleep beforehand. I'm not sure if this is the "health" portion of the talisman kicking in (as I wake up feeling wonderful, which is odd in itself), or it simply searching for another opportunity to bombard me with dreams (I'm not complaining).

Now, let me remind you that I'm not working with this talisman at all; it's simply sitting on my dresser in my room. That said, there is another window for Lunar work opening up this Wednesday (mark your calendars) during which I intend to invoke a few select powers and discuss what particular applications it might have in my work. Given that I'm not particularly good at the receptive portion of communication (you know, the part that makes it actual communication and not grandstanding), this will be an interesting experiment in itself, regardless of what I receive.

And on that note, one of the larger lessons I've gotten out of all this is how often my procrastination feeds on my perfectionism... I just don't want to start anything until I can do it "perfectly". Which is bullshit, of course, and this entire ordeal has been an example of the things that can happen if I actually decide to pick up the wand more often. Not to mention, it's reminded me how fun magic can be, and that's a success all on its own.

December 2, 2011

On Obligatory Dubstep Interludes

Due to an unexpected amount of continued awesomeness, I have a second post about my Lunar talisman in the works, but I probably won't get it done until sometime this weekend.

In other news, since it's rare (in my experience) to come across magic-related Dubstep, I present to you "this is exactly how I'm going to raise my daughter to defend herself":

2:32 may possibly be the most awesome depiction of the evocation of a familiar spirit I've seen in awhile. Not to mention the sheer creepiness of the implication of the last 3 or 4 seconds.

At any rate, enjoy your Friday!

(P.S. Picking the tags for this post was hella amusing, mostly because I had the perfect assortment already lined up from previous posts.)