President Commanding 30 Legions
It has been said that there are three paths of Wisdom.
The first is that of the Materialist, who identifies with the belief that all things are contained within the universe, and are a part of that universe. Whether in chaos or according to rules, whether visible or invisible, everything is participating together as a unified whole, according to the Materialist.
The second path, that of the Mystic, is one in which the important things are believed to exist apart from the universe. The spiritual realm, the reward of the just and punishment of the wicked, and all sense of meaning are not found within the world but in spite of it, for the Mystic.
The third path is that of the Magician. These rites, though they involve elements of religion, are not devotional in nature and are also not chemistry or psychology: they are magic. Nonetheless they are at times tied closely to the sciences or mysticism, and therein can be explored a more profound art than the one in which the magician is merely putting his own affairs in order.
The 57th Spirit is described as having dominion over the Liberal Sciences, and the ability to disclose "Divine and Secret Things." It is described with other powers as well, and keeps its knowledge closely guarded. The spirit gave no indication of its presence throughout the Conjuration, the Invocation, or the Constraint. During the Call to the King, there was not a stir. Its seal was bound in the box with a chain, and still no sign was given during the first of the three condemnations. The fire was conjured, the box being held over it, and still no noise or sign or anything was to be seen. Only at the last moment, before the final curse was begun, did the spirit appear, and then instantly.
After providing several grains of incense to the fire, the spirit said that it admired my determination and did not expect it. It said further that it had not come on account of two errors that I had made. The sigil of the spirit omitted certain details, and the time was "out of the cycle" for the spirit. "But for the fire and the curse, you would have never known me," or so it claimed.
Now I am loathe to admit to careless mistakes, but these are lesser offenses than to admit a spirit had gotten the upper hand on account of a trivial omission and error. I replied to the spirit that it was welcome, but that it had indeed come and was thus bound to remain and answer. I knew full well that if it could avoid appearance, it would have done so, and by its appearance I am informed that it was compelled to come and did not merely choose to do so. I kept the upper hand and would not excuse recalcitrance.
The spirit would not hand over its power easily,though it did not seem eager to leave nor was it hostile in any way. It was like a leopard, as described, but as much not like one. Its face was long, with large eyes and a low brow, and its body was more like that of a man. It was sitting, and much larger than any leopard I have ever seen. Unlike a leopard, its face showed a calm consideration and the clear marks of keen intelligence.
I was not particularly interested in developing ideas about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, so I went for a subject of Divinity I thought had a little more meat on it. "What is sacred? What does it mean for something to be sacred?"
The rites of magic are sacred, or so they are declared. The crown of the High Priest had "Sacred to the Lord" written on it. Are these the same sort of sacred? Is all magic sacred? Did Aaron just want to wear a golden crown, and if he did would it be sacred anyway? If the Kohenim are sacred, are the Swamis of the East? If the Heart of Jesus is sacred, what about the hearts on the altars of the Aztecs? Sacredness seemed an important issue in understanding the proper place of mystical elements of magical practice, and of responsibility toward religion in general.
The spirit replied that there is no truth in the sacredness of a particular thing, but that the common ground of sacred things is that they are used by the spirit and not by the flesh, "even at the expense of the flesh." The sacred, it stated, is given by other people or given to other people, being found and not made, and for all to use.
The spirit continued with a discourse on two other subjects, of which I will present a short synopsis. Sanctity, or sacred works and their components, are used to establish what this spirit called Communion of Spirits. This amounts to a shared experience and intention between people in a way that is unrelated to the material effect or mechanism of the work being done, and which accrues a sort of power.
I asked if this was in some way related to the idea of spiritual Grace, which I have long equated to the idea of doing one's "true will" and finding restriction dissolve for the sake of its accomplishment. The spirit replied that the purpose of the body is evident in the body, and that doing tasks of the body unhindered is not Grace but simply appropriate action. "Grace of the spirit is the true law," it declared.
In short, we have the sacred institutions (prayers, sacraments, rituals, etc) which are more or less arbitrary and invented, through which we can attempt to reach beyond the ordinary. In so doing we are joined by others, who in their own way are also attempting something similar and thereby experience a sort of Communion with our own efforts. Being thus unified in purpose, we are entitled to Grace, the effect of which is wholly spiritual. From the perspective of one accustomed to measuring work-to-results in terms of observable effects (like me), this whole concept is a bit far afield and hard to grasp.
I was struck by the oddity of having a supposed demon lay down the groundwork of what appears to be a conservative and classical philosophy. The spirit replied that it did not "revolt against Grace," but was "forbidden to be of assistance to men by our pride for which we would turn the labor of men in joy in our own applications unknown to man. We share no Communion of Spirit with man."
This spirit is said to provoke peculiar forms of insanity, namely that it can make a person think he is something other than what he is. It is described as having the ability to make a man think that he is an animal, a king or pope, a demigod, or any shape. At first glance this looks like an odd way to torment people or even punish them. On closer inspection, it might seem to be able to make a thin person think he is obese, or a weak person think he is strong. I asked the spirit about this power.
"First I will tell you," it said, "the one who thinks well does wrong to cover his pride. He knows that he is no fool or criminal, yet his thought is inadequate to obtain what he wants for himself. Wealth and joy and love are not his, so he chooses a form in which he could not conceive of having them and his self perception is not miserable. Better a bad thief than a poor and unrewarded honest man. He may become a thief, but he will remain an honest man. It is within my power to make him a thief, and to make his theft a genuine act and not the play acting of a forlorn fool."
Surely we have all known people who are spiteful and demeaning to others, ones who "think they are so great." As a jeweler I see these people all the time: people who can spend $50,000 in an hour without worry, and whose every word is an attempt to make certain others know it. According to the spirit, these people are unconvinced that they are actually wealthy, believing that what they do possess is not sufficient to be happy and to let others be happy. They must compete to prove who is happier. By making these people see themselves as actually wealthy, or even much more wealthy and powerful (as though they had veritable crowns on their heads!) they cease to feel the need to prove themselves to others.
A tyrant knows that he is a good man. He acts otherwise out of suspicion that it may not be the case, forced into making demands and creating oppression when he finds that he is not really in control. The same may be said of many other types of "problematic" people. They know inwardly who they are, but they are unconvinced and so strike out with abominable deeds. They excuse bad behavior on account of their inward assumptions that they are inherently good-guys. When they come to a realization that they are indeed monstrous, they are horrified and seek change. By making a person feel exalted and noble, free of any dispute as to whether or not it is deserved, his actions come to reflect it. The spirit, in either case, is conjured to make the person fully embrace the outward behavior and adopt it as his actual self-image. I had a few people in mind for these sorts of changes, and discussed them with the spirit.
I am also curious about the application of this power for more apparently trivial purposes. What would it be, to convince a man that he is in fact a Tapir? Or an insect? The spirit bid me place the ring before it, during which time it described the rules of operation. The person must be unwilling and unknowing of what is being done, and they must hear me speak: "Ose you are a ________." The enchantment will supposedly vanish as soon as anyone utters a contrary phrase: "You are not a Tapir," for example. This might prove interesting, and the rule applies to any form of the power so long as the person is present. For people who are not present, the spirit must be called again, provided that I modify my approach as noted at the beginning of this entry.
Despite all the fervency of the world's religions, the vast majority of devotionals appear to stem from a rejection of the terrors of death. Of what purpose is salvation, if not to avoid damnation? If the Hindu did not expect to reincarnate, would death be approached with such indifference? Even for those who do not fear death, life is far too short to learn and do all of what is available. It's a damn shame we haven't got more time. Since this spirit reveals "Divine and Secret Things," my final request to the spirit was for it to disclose the secret of immortality.
"Nothing is immortal," said the evasive spirit.
"What about the Count St. Germain, and the 300 year-old Chinese man? What of the antediluvian race? If we cannot live forever, can we live for hundreds of years?" I asked.
"Yes, thousands and many times," the spirit said no more. I pressed further on how this could be accomplished.
The spirit replied, "Infections that sustain and devour the body." Again, I had to grope further.
"Deep within the earth, in waters and the seas, there are living crystals. They are the only key to what you call immortality." This was strange, though the spirit was clearly keeping much back and wanted to keep this quiet. I had expected something else, maybe minerals or certain compounds as a way to live longer, but thousands of years? I would never have guessed at something like parasitic crystal entities.
I asked where to find them, pressing at each step for more detail and specifics. "Some trees have them in their roots, but very few now. In Wyoming, in badlands, in deep gorges where water pours from the sides, there are many and they are common, but will not be seen though they are collected. They are studied even now by scientists, who are unaware of their value and use them for other purposes." I was rather amazed that it actually mentioned the name of Wyoming, which is somewhat uncharacteristic of these things.
Apparently all you need to do is get these things and establish a symbiotic relationship with them (by drinking them in water), wherein they eat your cells from the inside and cause your deterioration but keep you alive nonetheless. You can also eat plants that have developed such a relationship with them. Seems a small price to pay for the veritable water of life, but if it is so easy it ought to be borne out by experiment before I go digging for magic rocks in Wyoming. Was this the hidden stone within the earth?
I bid the spirit license to depart, being satisfied for the time. Despite the initial difficulties, this was a very interesting spirit. I will await the changes demanded for people known to me in my personal life, and I am continuing to develop the use of the enchanted ring outside of the context of its use as a ceremonial protective device. I am especially intrigued about the prospect of living much, much, longer, and I hope to have the chance to live long enough to make that experiment.