Thursday, 9 February 2017

Biopsy of the Occult Blogosphere

Digital Ambler recently comment at the end of his article “Work, Lineage, and Auturgy” :

Given the general quietude of the occult blogosphere, and how so much has petered out or calmed down over the past few years (my own blog included!), I wonder if this is a sort of predicament-shift that is facing many people who got into magic around the Great Blogosphere Renaissance, and how many others are wondering this same thing I am now.

It’s a great article and the ending makes much more sense in context of the whole article. I personally think that the occult blogosphere has gone dormant for a bit and when the need arises due to changes in the world, it will either flourish again or go underground (so to speak).

Here are some additional reasons why the occult blogosphere may have reduced in terms of active participants and volume of output. This list is speculative (mostly) and not exhaustive.
  1. Ennui – It can be a lot of work providing regular updates to a blog with good quality updates.
  2. Death – I know of at least one blogger who died. He was a great man and I miss his company.
  3. Family – Changes in family circumstance such as getting married, having kids, getting divorced, becoming a widow(er) are all life changing events that can bring an active blog to a sudden stop.
  4. Success – Strange as it may sound, if a blogger has achieved a level of success with their magical practice where they no longer feel the need to track their progress in a public forum, they may stop blogging and even stop being active practitioners
  5. Social Media – The shift to interactions on Facebook has meant that the frequency of interactions have gone up, even if the quality of those interactions hasn’t necessarily kept pace.
  6. Responses – or lack there-off. Some bloggers need comments and feedback to motivate them to continue to publish online.
  7. Fear – whether it is via the Law of Unintended stakeholders (i.e. people finding out you have a blog on the occult who you’d rather had not found this out) or perhaps fear from success in operations that the practitioner is not able to process and integrate in to their magical world-view – fear is a powerful force that can eat away at even the most resilient of people.
  8. Books – some practitioners reach a certain stage and publish one or more books. Promoting books, even on occult topics, is in my opinion not contributing to the occult blogosphere. The only exception I have in this is people who make their living off teaching magic and hence I have some acceptance of marketing of their courses and books.
  9. Material – some people run out of material. Actually I’m not sure this is even possible, please ignore this entry.
  10. Mission accomplished – everything must come to an end, even a blog. If a blog has served the purpose for the author(s) and it no longer contributes to their life, what is the point in carrying it on?
  11. Egregore – if there was an egregore of the occult blogosphere, it has either starved or otherwise been done away with. There were times in the past when I felt that my blog was alive on some level and need regular feeding with content.
  12. Underground – lastly some bloggers join organizations that do not permit publishing of their activities. Whether it is an occult order or intelligence agency, mum’s the word and any violations are dealt with harshly.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

New Project: Rokeach on Sefer Yetzira

Josephine McCarthy recently wrote in a blog post: "The struggles with Magical Training, and the Quareia Apprentice Section":

The progress, particularly in the apprentice section also relies not only on your work ethic and keen mind, it also depends upon your body, what is happening to your body at that time, and also what is happening around you at work, at home and out in the world. You are a part of a holism in life, and the course works through that holism: there will be times it is not right for you to jump forward, and you will be held back. At other times, you will push forward suddenly – the tide is in your favour.
Recently there have been a number of significant changes in my life. The world too seems to be changing at a rapid pace and for the last few months I've been riding it out - waiting to start doing meditation on a regular basis again.

Now it feels like it's the right time to start another cycle of learning Sefer Yetzira (Book of Formation) and by the looks of it - I am not the only one.

A new year calls for studying a new commentary on Sefer Yetzira. And no commentary on Sefer Yetzira is ever old.


Here are the details of the new project:

Scope: Read and translate chapter 1 of commentary on Sefer Yetzira by Rabbi Eliezer of Worms (wonkypedia link on author)
Time: 10 week deadline
Cost: Sunk cost of books purchased ($43)
Quality: Translate minimum of 2 pages per week and meditate on content minimum of 2 times per week
Communication: Summary of key points in each verse and any interesting experiences from the meditation sessions
Risks:
1.Lack of time, need to set aside dedicated evenings for this.
2. Inability to translate, or understand the translation (Hebrew Immersion project was preparation for this project
3. May not achieve any meaningful results until completing chapter 2, planned for next project
Issues: 1. Difficult to understand terms of reference from 12th century text.
Stretch Goal: Read and translate chapter 2 before the start of the next project


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Found in Translation

My many atempts to try to translate the works of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia define the stepping stones of my journey to date. Each time I failed I have come away with more knowledge and determination.

The current (5th) attempt to translate "Gan Na'ul" (The Sealed Garden) is gaining momentum and I have managed to read further in the book than previous attempts. It's a commentary on Sefer Yetzira (Book of Formation) and hence expects the reader to be familiar with this work.

A friend on facebook shared a link on a 1-day conference titled: "Western Esotericism and the Art of Translation" at the Open University in Israel. It would be awesome to attend. But even if I cannot go - I will draw inspiration from the fact that this topic of translation of esoteric material is the focus of debate.


Monday, 19 December 2016

Spinning Wheels

A couple of years ago a friend died. He had issues with his resporatory system that had been going on for some time. I remember trying to divine what was going on and only receiving a vision of what can only be described as snot eels or snot dragons lurking in a nearly empty river bed. The entities were having a very detrimental effect on my friend and the low riverbed represented his dwindling life force. I succeeded in moving the things to the North Pole in the vision briefly but they returned and my fried died some time later.

The reason I mention this is that last year I had a chest infection and had a sense that something was attaching itself to hitch a ride. At the time I thought little of it and wanted to be accommodating. It was a foolish thing to do aloowing whatever it was to lurk within the circle of my being and after two rounds of antibiotics I was able to move on.

This year, as is seasonal, the same pattern of illness started to manifest. Sure enough I had a vision of an unwanted visitor in the corner of my being. I tried folding it within the walls to section it off and send it away. However, that did not work. Then I probe sensed it (for want of a better term) to work out if it was benevolent or malevolent in its intent. Sensing only curiosity and seeming looking for a place to hide, I decided that this time I would move it with a little more force.

What happened next was a bit of a surprise as I started my usual cycle of letter meditations. The letters manifest as spinning blades of metal-like substance and I instinctibely assumed what I describe as the form of a jagged little time elemental. I moved what ever it was lurking on the edges of my being to a distant point in time and woke up in the morning feeling like the worst of my illness has passed. I've not shaken the illness entirely but this time I have ensured that there are no unwanted hitchers.


The thing is that my dreams often involve debating, arguing, learning from and teaching to other people. Some nights it feels like I am in a busy terminal crossing paths with lots of people. So it's not like I am hostile to the presence of others in my dreams or visions. Rather that when my physical condition is not good, I have learned to take a more active approach to dealing with it.

I could of cours be imagening all of this and some or all of it is likely to be the product of a very fertile imagination. The trick to changing shape in dreams is to use the substances around you. Literally form a body of what is surrounding you, making sure not to borrow something of someone else without getting approval first. There are few things worse than an entity borrowing a part of your body that then manifests as an uncontrolled growth.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Golem News

In case you have been living under a rock or buried a tonne of clay from a deactivated golem (a more common occurence than you might expect), this week has had a number of interesting golem news pieces.

  1. The Soul of the Golem is Truth by Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan author of the Sophia Street blog.
    1. This is in response to this CNN clip
  2. The Golem is alive by Frater Acher the author of the Theomagica blog
    1. This is (in part) in reponse to this golem exhibition in Berlin

Monday, 28 November 2016

Becoming More Golem-Like


Having looked back at the past 6 years of postings on this blog, it’s pretty safe to conclude that:
  1. I have written a lot of rubbish over the years
  2. Projects are a useful vehicle for initiating and tracking work (even if they are only sometimes successful and
  3. The study and practice of Kabbalah – in particular Sefer Yetzira, Book of Creation, is hard
I just want to elaborate a bit on the third point. Basically the problem domain can be broken down in a number of different parts:
  • A. Translating the text
  • B. Understanding the text at a basic level
  • C. Understanding the commentaries
  • D. Practising the techniques
  • E. Measuring progress
Whilst initially I thought that A to C would be challenging, it’s actually D and E that are the hardest. The techniques, for which I use the head movements, breathing, and chanting as taught in the writings of Abraham Abulafia, take a really long time.

It’s only when I try to use the techniques to solve a particular problem such as boosting the success of an American football team or finding a job or creating an amulet for a specific purpose – that it’s possible for me to get a good idea of how much or little I have progressed. Hence why I use projects as a vehicle for initiating and tracking progress, it’s a familiar way for me to package up and execute change in the world.


So what do the next six years have in store? I think probably a lot more of the same. But this time I am hoping to be more focused.

Life in this day and age is filled to the brim with distractions. Work emails coming in night and day, binge-watching on Netflix is the norm, Steam gaming portal has endless hours of distractions, not to mention the essentials such as work, family, and religious practice.

Over the past five years I have attempted to reduce my comfort zone as much as possible, to expose myself to ideas and views that challenge my world view, as well as reduce time on the things allow me to withdraw from the world (so to speak). Now my life has become a little more focused on a few things, rather than less focused on more things. My goal of having my evenings taken up only with study and meditation is drawing closer – although I will maintain some balance with other activities such as sport & socializing.

In summary perhaps the study of golem building has made me a little more boring, one-dimensional, and perhaps golem-like. But in order to advance in my study and practice of Jewish magic – more single-minded focus is required.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Project Summary 2011 to 2016


Date posted Project Title Summary Planned End Date Actual End Date Success Notes
Friday, 12 November 2010 Project: 40 Days for Wisdom An Invocation for Wisdom from The Book of the Angel Raziel 23/12/10 23/12/10 Yes This kick-started a whole series of book learning and practice based projects
Tuesday, 30 November 2010 Project: Understanding the Merkavah User Manual in 2000 pages or less Read 2000 pages of academic literature on Merkavah and Hechalot Mysticism 30/06/11
Yes Provided background of Merkava literature, not practical experiential knowledge
Thursday, 27 January 2011 Project: Memorize chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah (which deals with 10 Sefirot) Memorize all 14 verses Chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah (Gra version) in Hebrew 15/04/11 25/02/11 No The project succeeded initially but had to be repeated with the version used by Rabbi Cordovero
Tuesday, 3 May 2011 Project: Hebrew Immersion Study Course Read all of the 24 books of the Tanach 03/05/11
No Managed to study 5 Books of Moses three times, but only studied first book of Neviim
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 Project: Noten Kavod (Giving Respect) Noten Kavod (Give Respect/Honour) to people and things for next 3 weeks. 31/08/11 31/08/11 Yes I still practice on my commute, in particular to the local wildlife
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Project: A Lion Has Roared Use spiritual influence to support Detroit Lions Time: Regular Season starting September 2011 01/01/12 01/01/12 Yes 10 wins, 6 losses. An improvement over previous seasons
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 “Amulet for Success” Improve financial status and employment prospects ?? ?? Yes Despite initial failure, it led to different opportunity that greatly boosted my career and earnings
Thursday, 22 December 2011 New Year, New You: Prompt 2: Goals as New Projects! Study 4 audio lectures on Sefer Yetzirah and do 2 practical exercises 14/02/12 14/02/12 Yes Lecture series kick-started wider range of Jewish meditative techniques
Thursday, 22 December 2011 New Year, New You: Prompt 2: Goals as New Projects! Translate 30 pages of Abraham Abulafia’s writing from Hebrew to English. 14/02/12 14/02/12 No Hebrew skills were really not up to the level required for this project
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 Sefer Yetizrah Readers Club Study chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah - with a number of commentaries ?? ?? No After a few study sessions the project stalled. Finding a committed study partner at a similar level is hard.
Friday, 1 June 2012 Make Yourself a Teacher Find an inner teacher 01/06/13 01/06/13 No I was not ready
Monday, 10 September 2012 Project: leaping forth from the Bashan Use spiritual influence to support Detroit Lions Time: Regular Season starting September 2012 30/12/12 30/12/12 No 4 wins, 12 losses…
Thursday, 8 November 2012 This is not a project: Translating Sodei Razaya Translate Sodei Razya HaShalem in to English 08/11/13 08/11/13 No Hebrew skills were still really not up to the level required for this project
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 New Project: Hack the Heichal (Heavenly Palace) Learn and experience as much as possible in the area of Angelic lore in Hebrew Kabbalah 21/05/12 ?? No Learned a little, experienced even less
Friday, 9 May 2014 Building a TARDIS-AS To travel through the spiritual realms with Rabbi Avraham Abulafia. 09/11/15 ?? No Project was too ambitious. Post-poned it to 2019
Sunday, 23 November 2014 Connecting the Letters Combine each letter with 21 others. Combine each letter with four-letter Name 23/04/16
Yes Gained a deeper connection to the Hebrew letters as living entities
Monday, 25 January 2016 New Project: Aramaic Absorption Read five Books of Moses with Aramaic commentary 25/01/07
No Managed 3 out of 5 books, then changes happened
Sunday, 14 February 2016 New Project: 10 Psalms for 10 Days Read 10 Psalms of Tikkin Klali every day for 10 days 24/02/16 24/02/16 Yes Project continued well beyond 10 days, improvements took 2 months
Thursday, 12 May 2016 New Project: Tzedek Tzedek like a Mensch Promote compassion and wealth 12/05/17
TBC

Friday, 11 November 2016

November 2016 update

It's been very quiet in this blog for awhile because there have been some major changes in my life recently. Changes that I initiated at the start of the year and are only now reaching the stage where the projects are completing and transitioning to business as usual.

The really important projects don't get mentioned on this blog until they are complete. Experience has shown that certain types of projects do not do well when they are publicised too early.

The long and the short of it is that I have moved out if London and changed jobs. The planning and preparation took 5 months, putting it in to action took 2.5 months.

To bolster the project I used a variety of magical techniques. Prayers for prosperity using Psalms and the prayers for financial success in the book Walking in the Fire. Combined with this I used numerous non-specifically magical techniques as outlines in the post about job hunting.

I learned during this journey that certain acts have a detrimental effect, in particular in job hunting. Also, building up one's patience to trust in the groundwork done in the first 5 months during the 2.5 months of being out of work - was for me quite hard.

The downside of being outside of London is that I am away from Treadwells, my favourite occult bookshop, as well as many of my magical friends. Plus I miss London itself. The city had me under her spell for over 15 years. There is something magical in traveling deep underground on the tube each day and feeling reborn after a literal journey through the world under our feet.

The benefits of the move are still crystallizing, but as a long term planner I know that good things require patience. One benefit that materialized recently was meeting a fellow Abraham Abulafia enthusiast. To find someone whose obsession matches and exceeds my own was very gratifying.

During the 2.5 month gap I forced myself to renew my study of Hebrew. I am learning 8-10 new words each day and my level of linguistic immersion has deepened significantly. Finally after many years of dreaming I will soon be ready to do some meaningful translation work of the Kabbalists whose life's works gave been cluttering my book shelves.

In closing I’m glad that a long term project hes worked out OK. there were some bumps on the road, but trusting in the principles of project management and magic helped turn it in to a success. I’d never thought that starting this blog six years ago that a combination of project management and magic & mysticism would get me this far. To be honest it was a bit of a joke at the start. However, regardless of the curious intermingling of disciplines I have got a lot of mileage out of it.

Coming up next: 6 year review and the plan for the next 6 years...

Friday, 30 September 2016

Happy New Year

My last post was somewhat on the depressing side, hence I wanted to end the year on a happier note. Whilst chatting to a good friend on Facebook last night she told me about many of the positive changes in her life, I feel similar changes occurring in mine. For all of these I am very grateful.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of judgement, self-reflection, and renewal. So if I have offended, upset, or caused you any harm - please can I ask for your forgiveness? Also, I forgive any offense, upset, or harm that you may have caused me.

At Rosh Hashaah we add some piyuttim (singula piyut) liturgical poems to our prayers. Here is a vidoe of Victoria Hanna explaining the pronunciation and provides insight in to its meaning.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

The horse has already bolted

And now for a post on geo-politics.... Here is a 5 minute video by the former chief Rabbi of the UK and how jew-hatred is resurgent across Europe.

It's an important speech in my opnion, but my view is that the horse has already bolted. When I have to wear stab proof vests during my voluntary security shift outside my synagogue and kids' school, the rot in society has spread so far that it is almost irreversible. It's mainstream.

Video link.

Two Solitary Meditators meet up - you won't believe what happens next!

Apologies for the terrible post topic name...

Today I met up with someone whom I have been friends with online for close to a decade. It was awesome to meet another Abraham Abulafia enthusiast, like him I need this hobby (obsession) to make it through the day, week, year, and fleshy incarnation in general. Professor Moshe Idel once referred to folks like us, i.e. Abulafia lovers, as the (paraphrasing it to) “brotherhood of solitary meditators”.

It really felt like meeting a long lost friend. We talked about life in general, gave each other a tonne of links and ideas to follow-up on, and renewed each other’s enthusiasm. It always amazes what a diverse group of people are in to Abulafia and I suspect that the shard of Abulafia’s Neshama have scattered far and wide with his passing to re-appear almost a thousand years later. Whilst we landed in the same time location, spatial separation has not been a big challenge due to electronic communication and the relative easy of speedy long distance travel.

Anyway, I expect that some of the impacts of this meeting will take a while to bring to fruition existing and new projects – it also led me to another wave of Abulafia experiences. My friend told me about an art exhibition that I immediately included in my travel itinerary.
Alchemy of Words:
Abraham Abulafia, Dada, Lettrism

The exhibition, marking the 100th anniversary of Dada, presents 60 works from public and private collections from Israel and abroad of Dada and Lettrist artworks, sound poems and video clips, and works associated with the medieval mystic Abraham Abulafia, who served as inspiration to the Lettrist leader Isidore Isou and the Dada-affiliated poet Yvan Goll.
OPENING DATE: Friday 17 June 2016
CLOSING DATE: Saturday 19 November 2016
LOCATION: Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Sculpture Gallery, Main Building
CURATOR: Dr. Batsheva Goldman-Ida
CREDITS: The exhibition and catalogue were made possible through the support of the David Berg Foundation, New York

Pictures of that part of my trip are included below.

Exhibition Entrance
There was a screen showing two videos by the enchanting Victoria Hanna, whom you can find here and here on youtube. If you have not listened to her yet - please, please do so - she's simply amazing.

In this corner where two recordings of Abulafia meditations (chanted). The one on the left was with audio & video for 7 minutes, the one on the right was an audio recording of 46 minutes.

Recordings of Abulafia meditations
The video was by Avraham Lieder meditating on the combination of Aleph with Heh.
Ah-Yo
Ah-Yah
Ah-Yeh
Ah-Yih
Ah-Yoo

Ya-Oh
Ya-Ah
Ya-Eh
Ya-Ih
Ya-Ooh
As always, everything is lost in translation in describing it in this format... but even if I coud describe the meditation perfectly with the head movements... it still would be the map and not the territory...

The paintaing was by the late (great) Abraham Pincas (1945-2015) and the work is called Untitled: Abraham Abulafia "light of the Intellect" (ca. 1980) gall-nut ink, water-based pigments, and varnish on parchment. Courtesy of Shoshana and Moshe Idel, Jerusalem.

Untitled: Abraham Abulafia "light of the Intellect"
Next to this painting, to the right and lower down was a head-set with a 46 minute recording by Abraham Pincas (1945-2015) going through the letters Aleph to Caf (i.e. letter after Yud) and combining each with the letters of the four-letter name Yuh, Heh, and Vav, Heh.

Abraham Pincas meditation recording

I have tried this meditation in the past and found that I could only make progress by going at a decent pace - rather than drawing out each and every breath to its limit. Much to my delight, the recording had the same chant I used, although it was a much more musical.

The other image that really caught my attention was an illustration of Raziel - by Victor Brauner (1903-1966). After contemplating this, I had some very unusual dreams on the train. By unusual I mean like almost nothing I have a frame of reference to.

Raziel - Victor Brauner

Raziel - Victor Brauner



Strategic Job Hunting

This is a brief post following up on the project: “Tzedek Tzedek like a Mensch “. Specifically this is a very brief guide on strategic job hunting as part of improving one’s financial circumstances.

As well as doing any and all “magic” to enhance job hunting success (see blog post linked above), here are some more mundane strategies that should be all done in parallel. But before we get on to this awesome bullet point list, here is another to pre-empt it which gives a guideline for the order of precedence in which companies recruit:

  1. Look for an internal candidate (much cheaper option most of the time)
  2. Look to see who is cold calling / emailing to get a job
  3. Ask employees to recommend a colleague (or friend, or relative)
  4. Post an advert on job sites or via social media e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook
  5. Go via a recruiter (costs more than other option in general)

Now bearing that list in mind – and it’s not gospel as it can really vary from one industry / country to the next – if you only rely on one method then you are really limiting your options. If you’re willing to put in the effort, why not do the same for this list?

1. Networking
Yes, it’s hard and does not come naturally to many people (me included) but when in some sectors many jobs are simply not advertised… the only way to find out about these opportunities is via contacts.

2. Go direct to the company
A pretty good approach is to to say “here is an issue you may be facing” (based on actual research you’ve done on the organization) and “here is how my skills / experience / ideas can help you overcome them. Chutzpah has a place in business, why not embrace it and learn it’s inner mysteries. Just be prepared for some rude awakenings.

3. Job sites
There are lots of these. LinkedIn is becoming a big meat market, so be sure to keep your profile up to date. Also read at least 5+ articles on how to manage your profile, a lot of employers check that your LinkedIn is in line with your CV. Also whilst endorsements are good, you can have too much of a good thing.

4. Recruiters
I’m not sure how much of the light of Creation reaches this level, but like estate agents I believe that as King Solomon said everything has a time and a place.