The Needle of Art

The Covid pandemic has afforded several opportunities for the world to reconsider some basic elements of civilization, from employment issues to production and logistics related to food and medical supplies. At the beginning of this, I began to look around at these things and wonder which of them might not be coming back at the end of the lockdown.

Historically, plagues have led to substantial demographic and political changes. The Plague of Justinian was instrumental in the decline of the Roman Empire, and it is arguable that Yellow Fever rather than politics led the city of Memphis to being ranked as the best place for African-American business. Employment and industry changes tend to be regarded as advances over time, but certain industries have come to a point where the human element is taken for granted.

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There is a persistent line of thinking that magical power or energy is to be raised as if it were "chi" or some other indwelling - flowing power that one must somehow learn to cultivate in order to practice authentic magic. The Key of Solomon and its rites depend on slightly different qualities, encouraging the magician to be like a prince of the people, familiar with the customs and trades as well as higher realms of thought. If a person wishes to grow in power as a magician but does not feel that developing mind powers and astral senses is going well, the sidebar subjects attached to the rites - everything from bats to trumpets - are all gold mines of inspiration from which the real kind of empowerment can begin to take root.

Bune Seal & Pact

Having just now returned from a week visitng family over the holidays, feasting amd watching football on TV, I am excited to announce the recipient of the copper Bune seal. I wrote a list of all the names of everyone who entered, assigned each a number, and one was selected at random. And his name is... private, but he is notified by email to ask for a shipping address.

Everyone who participated will receive some art and writing by email. Since there was a big response to this, I am also sending out ten signed paperback copies of Breaks, and those people will also receive notice by email.

I want to extend a sincere thanks and appreciation to all of you who took the time to review my books.

Bune, the 26th Spirit

This is the Ducal Seal of the 26th spirit sealed by Solomon into a vessel of brass. It is hand-engraved from about an ounce of copper, and features three very small fine diamonds. The Pentacle of Solomon is on the reverse side, and there is a copper ring for hanging it as a pendant. It will very quickly oxidize and become black as soot, but for now it is highly polished. The seal of a spirit is its primary magical link, an amulet providing it some tenuous foothold in the material world. This is the first day of December, and I will send this out to some person selected on the upcoming New Year’s Day as a year-end promotional.

This spirit is usually called upon for the purpose of obtaining riches. It is one of the most recognizable spirits of the Goetia, almost certainly the most frequently invoked. I have had the privilege of witnessing or becoming informed of a great number and variety of experimental approaches toward invoking this spirit, none of which in any great way resemble my own experience, which I have related, but will briefly discuss. I would also like to talk a bit about my own experience and how it pertains to my perception of the context in which these ceremonies operate as life-altering events.

Most of the people involved in this adventure of dark arts are going to be upset with this portrayal of themselves from my perspective, but I am not intending to speak ill of anyone over issues now long gone, and these are just my opinions about real events.

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I write all of this for two reasons. First, I want to express my opinion of these “Thanks to Bune!” remarks peppering the communication landscape, and of how my experience is rather a more long-term process which I had hoped to initiate by forming a covenant of which the spirit is a part. It is not something done to satisfy an immediate need, but rather to decide upon what kind of existence I wanted to have, who I might meet or where I might go: gems are not common or easily located. I have seen gems that glorify their national origins, which glorify the skill of the cutter, that glorify the wonders of nature. No piece of riches I ever saw gave glory to Bune.

Bune, so far as I understand it, represents a deity – or if you prefer a dormant genetic behavioral mandate – that presides over specific domains of forced labor to obtain materials whose end product provides a genuine advantage to the ruling person or party. Men labor under the lash for the sake of something that does them no good, yet fortifies those doing the whipping, and that is a common enough feature of the human race to identify it as a persistent sort of devil. The apparition of the spirit from my conjuration was some kind of Paleozoic predator, an early chordate with a singular advantage over its prey. This is not the sort of thing that needs to be glorified.

This deity was at one time part of some mostly forgotten West African pantheon, a patron of strategy similar in character to Athena. The people serving this and other regional deities became enslaved themselves, and now their ancestral gods stand among the registry of fallen angels, a situation that says more about the 17th century than Solomon. Those same mandates through which a people are gathered and disposed toward some mutually-beneficial labor such as gathering of resources are also able to be twisted so that people are forced into servitude. To bind this spirit is, at least in part, an attempt to defeat the evil of slavery, to obtain and command the power associated with the materials extracted and refined by those whose labors went without reward.

In the ancient world, as today, this is accomplished through mining. Copper mining was in its day a major advantage, one of the only really useful metals for a span of time measured in millennia. Gemstone mining and processing into finished treasures has been the source of prestige upon which the reputations of the ruling class depend, a visible reminder that those in power have the ability to compel people to labor without reward for the sake of their own opulence. The accumulation of treasure is fraught with temptation for that reason, as all such ornaments come with a human cost. The beauty and rarity of gems is secondary to this positioning, their value being chiefly a measure of command held over others rather than for any intrinsic value they might have. Wearing a fabulous diamond displays connections and power, a network in which the wearer participates and in which his or her class dominates others.

I might add here that, by and by, the modern jewelry industry is adapting to new strategies. The innate power of gems is dwindling as a means of extortion, and is thankfully reverting ro something approaching a more mystical understanding of gems, or else as a purely commercial venture.

And so that brings me to my second reason for presenting this demon amulet. I am offering it, free of charge, to some random individual. All you have to do to enter to win is to purchase any of my books (including the free one!), or provide a public rating or review of any of my books which you already own. The Book of Lies hardcover is nice!

Send me an email alerting me to the fact at Prototaxite at Gmail dot com with the subject “Bune.” On New Year’s Day, my wife will randomly select one of these, and I will notify you by email so that I can ship it to you, under the premise that whoever is randomly selected will be the one who is the most favorable. Everyone who enters will receive a bunch of random art and other entertainment via email. I would also appreciate if you would share this somewhere so I have more than four people as contenders!

It is my hope that the winner of this item will do more than keep it safe. It is my sincere wish that whoever obtains this would devote some part of him or herself to more than accumulating riches, but would instead call upon this spirit to right some of the wrongs in the way riches are distributed throughout the world. The vast majority of goods sold in America have their origins in slavery overseas. So often I see people proud to have overcome slavery, and yet clamoring for things produced by slaves in China, and this is an evil for which I have no solution. But perhaps you do? This spirit is bound to do the will of the exorcist, and it is my hope that you will use it to vindicate those who toil beneath the hurtful arm of oppression, rather than to enrich yourself at their expense.

On a more personal note, to all those concerned at my absence, I am a private person and have many things to do, but I am well and spend most of my free time painting or writing rather than calling upon spirits. I have done a lot of traveling, encountered new people and places, and on the whole my life in this very small PNW town is peaceful.

Solomonic Demonology in Context

Throughout history, empires have expanded the awareness between distant cultures, producing a shared body of knowledge and ingenuity with noteworthy triumphs along the way. By decay or calamity, the rise of empires is usually accompanied by a fall, resulting in disconnection of shared beliefs and practices among formerly united peoples. Much of what was once widely known, given enough time and a change in national identity, becomes obscure and arcane, with the gaps in complete knowledge filled-in by creativity or ignorant speculation.

The loss of an empire, leading to smaller self sufficient nations in competition or cooperation with each other, can affect every aspect of daily life, leaves a scar on architecture. The Pyramids were a marvel to the Caliph, who could imagine building nothing of the sort in his own era. The intricate workmanship standard at the court of the Tsars is rarely even attempted today. The Holy Roman Empire could only hope to achieve the engineering feats of the actual Roman Empire. Of all things lost, one of the first to go is usually the volumes of accumulated knowledge, especially those things which are held in reserve for an elect few.
It is after such events that the bulk of the lore of magic comes to us in the present day. What we now possess as the literature and material legacy of magic record fragments of ideas which have been taken from the more productive eras, jostled together, and many of them have become badly damaged. The entire subject of magic, while giving wings to the imagination, is a minefield for the intellect.

There is no grand editor of the essential library of magical lore, nor any standard interpretation. The idea of magic exceeds books and artifacts, and is also a matter of living discourse, making any sort of comprehensive study difficult to undertake.
There are a variety of ways to look at the subject. Rather than select the best one, I would prefer to illustrate a few of the stronger positions and allow the reader to examine their strengths and weaknesses. I shall refer to these as the Four Empires of Solomonic Demonology. The first is the Christian interpretation, the second is the Pagan interpretation, the third is Muslim, and the last is Judaic.

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The Holy Guardian Angel and the Pauline Art

I have a sensitivity toward small animals, and recent fires and other disasters bring to mind the suffering of the thousands of small and unobtrusive creatures lurking in the wild when faced with such calamity. That it did not happen to humans makes the event far less horrific, proving a general species-wide consensus that human life has particular value above all other types of life. Despite this basic understanding of equality shared throughout all people, it is apparently of little consequence that a tremendous number of people endure hardships like starvation and death by violence or disease.

Never Forget! The terrorist attacks of September 11th led to the deaths of more than 100,000 non-combatants overseas. The financial siege of Venezuela has led to mass graves and police behaving as roving bands of murderers. It's an accepted fact there are skeletal children in Africa and diseases in all hot countries. And yet, there are millions whose lives never encounter such things.

The comfortable upper class of the globe, even the poorest of people in the more prosperous nations, have a staggeringly different level of comfort than anyone else. I don't mean the Rolls Royce club, but all of us who are participants in modern life. We have toilets and phones and ski lifts, and Omar over there hasn't got squat. Not that it really bothers anyone!

Sure, some people are upset. But most simply acknowledge it as an unpleasant fact of existence. Faced directly with Omar, it might be a different story, but across the world he is left to fend for himself. Poor Omar might begin to wonder what value or significance his life could possibly have. He might even begin to wonder if he is, like the animals, just a beast doomed to die, a meaningless part of some vast and incomprehensible system whose key parts are forever unattainable, or if instead he is indeed a Man, with divinely ordained purpose.

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Thus armed, whether with a seal or ring or whatever else, and having taken some care to seek and offer forgiveness for wrongdoings, you are to invoke the angel. Every catholic schoolchild knows the proper invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel: to light, to guard, to rule, and to guide, and the specifics of conjuration are not especially important in this case as it is entirely personal and discreet. The role of the angel is to provide clarity and perspective, and to warn or encourage its charge.

I do not personally seek or receive such visitations from my Guardian Angel in the context of magic rituals. I do however believe that this Angel has probably done me a world of good without ever itself becoming personally manifest. The objective in making contact with the angel is not so much to become satisfied as the recipient of special powers and secret counsels, but to become capable in some pursuit that imparts meaning and purpose into life which can be shared with others.

Obligatory Xmas Sales Pitch

Which edition of the Lemegeton should you get?

How about the one that was compiled by someone who actually uses it, and whose work is the FIRST AND ONLY printed documentation of the work done according to the actual instructions?

How about the one with vivid colors and illuminations on every page, that looks and feels like a real Book of Magic?

How about the one that has images of the spirits, and information about them, gathered from first-hand experience?

How about the one that describes the practical details of the work, especially for the non-Goetia sections like the Almadel?

How about the one that gives all the spirit and divine names with suggestions for their meanings and pronunciation?

How about the one that doesn't waste your time with speculations about people long dead, and instead begins from page one with instructions?

How about the one which is so rare that, at the present time, only a few copies exist?

How about the one which ALSO includes the complete Key of Solomon with step-by-step instructions not found anywhere else?

That would be THIS edition:

For a cheap preview, here is the same product in PDF:

You might think you know what's in this book. Let me be quite clear: if you have not read it, you really have no idea what you're missing.

Truth & Tradition

While I was still a very young child, I would ask my parents questions about the universe. Around the time I was four or five years old, I asked each parent individually about the origins of Mankind and the Universe, and I received two very different answers. This should be no surprise in and of itself: my mother was a microbiologist who worked in a rigorous scientific environment, and my father the architect was accustomed to functionally creative design. An odd thing happened when they decided to answer. My father, who introduced me to mythology and fantasy of all sorts, gave a child-scale version of the Carl Sagan answer: biochemistry borne of galaxies and planetary nebulae, all originating from fundamental principles of matter. My mother, the scientist, answered with the Garden of Eden story. As a child, I had no way of determining the veracity of either tale, had no indication that I should regard either version with suspicion, and I saw no inherent contradiction between the two.

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If we are to take our angels and devils into the New Age, in which we are all more aware of the facts of Nature, and have as complete a perspective as possible in regard to the history of the universe, we will need to substantially update the concepts working behind these figures. They cannot remain in their present forms, with their present mythic identities, without severe consequences. Either we will expand the lore of spirits to include the much larger world-view now available, or we will halt the advance of knowledge in favor of a more comfortable mythology.

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I suggest, from my vantage as one of those people who has engaged the art of spirit invocation directly, that we might begin to establish the modern understanding of spirits from the same starting point as we begin to understand ourselves. We acknowledge that we are conscious beings foremost and that our physical bodies provide an interface with the world; and we might extend this same proposition of a core identity composed of Will to those other beings which we call spirits.

It is not necessary to force upon these beings any kind of understanding about how or why they exist, stuffing them into receptacles designed by ethnic cults of dubious validity. Just as the religions of the past and present developed as the result of direct engagement with spirits, so should the future concept of spirits represent the result of investigative effort and not empty speculation.

Esoteric Science and Natural Philosophy

Let us depart from the standard topics of occult philosophy and instead examine some hidden properties of physical matter. These secrets are observable and demonstrable, but require a more sophisticated approach than merely looking and hoping to understand. Many of the most important features of matter only appear when exposed to rigorous testing and abstract calculations. Such methods are usually available only to specialists with expert training, but any person of average intelligence can easily comprehend the import of these facts and the effects of their discovery upon both moral and natural philosophy.

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At this point we may return our attention to occult topics and attempt to understand how these newfound facts might affect the working paradigm of a serious magician. Under the assumption that we are free to know anything that can be known, we have no reason to fear these new ideas. It is possible that such knowledge makes it difficult to adapt effectively to most forms of organized religious belief, especially in those cases where certain ideas are held beyond the possibility of question. Just as millions of people continue to reject the idea that the Earth is older than 6000 years, there will be plenty of people who gleefully assume that the science geeks have got this all wrong.

It is my personal belief that attempting to know more about life and the way things work is a laudable goal, and I do not put a cap on that knowledge at the place where my senses and ordinary experience fails me. At some point in the distant past, a person sat watching the sunsets and sunrises closely over a long enough period of time to discover that the Sun moves through the sky in a predictable and reliable pattern. His discovery led to agriculture, which developed a civilization sufficiently luxurious that it now can provide us with digital alarm clocks to remind us of the sunrise.

The people who made these observations, the ones who turned civilization into something civilized by standing out under the stars with a clay note-pad, were in their day the Wizards. They weren’t looking for the arcane and ancient lore, they wanted cutting-edge science and technology, better medicines, and an understanding of the universe from a wider perspective than that afforded the average goat-herder.

Rather than replicate their experiments and gloat over their collections of lore, it is incumbent upon modern magicians to also stand on or near the cutting-edge and to seek the advancement of human knowledge and culture. If we turn up our noses and walk away from this knowledge, saying that we prefer to get our version of the hidden truths of reality from books and tales full of talking animals and flying dragons, we are moving backwards instead of forwards in the stream of ideas.

It remains yet to be seen whether this information will form the basis of any specific type of occult practice. As of yet, that has not occurred. Those who profess to follow these ideas as the basis of their magical work, the so-called Chaos Magicians, have on the whole completely ignored this information just as staunchly as any High Priestess of Faery Wicca.

We should also be cautious in assuming that this wealth of scientific data somehow undermines the basis of faith and morals. We might separate, for example, the belief that thunder is the sound of angels bowling while still invoking angels for assistance and illumination. If anything, the wonder of creation has become orders of magnitude more wonderful, much to the greater glory of God whose work the universe represents.

Elementary Studies

Someone from the internet recently asked me what I thought Agrippa’s work would look like if he were alive today and writing for a contemporary audience. This is an interesting question and I think that those who read here might be interested to hear my thoughts on the matter; but first I think it would be appropriate to discuss the content of “Occult Philosophy” in its original setting.

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So where does this leave the modern magician who finds himself enthralled by the idea of magic, yet unwilling to leave his brain on the hat rack inside the entry doors of the Collegium Spiritus Sancti?

Despite what the Chaos Magicians claim, the world has not yet developed a semi-coherent system of occult practice which incorporates much of the scientific advance from the last 500 years. Those who profess to update the curriculum often do so at the expense of its integrity, leaving the student with a watered-down version of physics or an absurd postmodern version of magic.

My own response, as this journal probably indicates, is to explore the older works on their own terms. I draw pentacles, recite prayers, invoke spirits, and bind evil demons in the names of God, as these are some of the better options for such work that appear in my own time and culture. I am certain that there are other options which are just as valid, but I choose the Art of Solomon and the strictures and directives which come with it. At this point, I am more interested in exploring where it can go and what it can do to assist myself and others than matching up each spirit to its corresponding Psalm.

I have no concern whatsoever whether any of my work produces more or better collections of spirit lore. It is neither my design, nor my desire, to see the occultists of the world come together to make a new and giant revision of classical occultism. I am however extremely interested in seeing people develop new technologies and resolve some of the real and tangible problems of the world using the existing materials; and I believe that magic offers solutions that religion scorns and science cannot attempt.

Progress and Development

I prefer to tell people about how I did something, rather than to tell them about how they can do something. It is my understanding that the people who can relate to my experiences in some way can figure things out for themselves and do their own thing their own way after taking mine into account. I don’t have anything to “teach” these people, they follow their own course as do I. Even so, there are plenty of people who want to be instructed.

The last century or so has seen the unprecedented rise of diverse esoteric orders. Most of these take inspiration from religious and political societies, and so it should not be terribly surprising that these orders lean towards religious devotion and internal disputes. The overwhelmingly popular alternative is to simply ignore participation in these societies and follow a self-guided course of practice; but here I would like to offer some thoughts on organized development in conjunction with the work of others.

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None of this work should be regarded as a skill or hobby to be taken up or set aside as one might do with a guitar or a set of wood-crafting tools. Whether great or small, the effort to practice invocations of spirits will inevitably push life in a new direction which does not easily waver in its course. The magician becomes a part of something beyond his control, and surviving in such a position demands a kind of negotiated peace. If successful, the work should result in major and permanent changes in the life of the magician, and these are signs of progress more than any subjective faculty which regular practice might appear to produce.