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Tool and Talent

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.paranormal.spells.hexes.magic,alt.magick,alt.occult.methods,alt.lucky.w,alt.witchcraft
From: nagasiva 
Subject: Tool and Talent (was Black Mirror / Magic Mirror)
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 22:01:30 GMT

50030328 vii om peace

"Steve" :
>>As far as the mirror goes, no offence intended, but I would not use ANY type
>>of artificial glass.  Not that it would be bad for you, just that I
>>wouldn't... Emerald?  Sure!  Glass, no.


'Graveyard Dirt'      vs       'Just Any Old Dirt with Some Ash and Pepper'
                      vs       'Just Any Type of Artificial Powder'

an issue in a nutshell underscored in this thread: 

	crutch or formula? unnecessary tool or numinous magical substance? 

answers provided herein appear to confomr to 'a little of both depending 
on the circumstance, but watch out for over-dependence on anything'. (Gnome d Plume):
>...Glass works just fine; with or without fluid condensers.... 

according to a number of magicians one does not need physical tools, 
but those with superfluous power could apparently use wood or a 
dictionary or a bottle of milk to do the same here. high-grade tools 
are the toys of the wealthy, the training wheels of privileged 
aspirants, and the finely-honed tools of the specialist. Poke is of 
this last category, obviously.

the issue of symbolism-of-substance (i.e. traditional symbolism that
is associated with particular gems, stones, and other materials out
of which such a mirror or shewstone might be constructed/carved)
is what would thereafter concern those with an attention to detail.

>If you want to get alchemical, get a clock face, read Randolph and 
>Bardon and make fluid condensers. 

blackening the face of Time, and concentrating, through one's Nature
and excited by psychoactives and allies, on the Great Work? the 
symbolism of the clockface seems to add to the quality of the work,
but does its actual composition (artificial glass??) matter at all?
>If you want to be archaic get a piece of obsidian ... (...our big 
>obsidian mirror....)

now obsidian I happen to know because I have used it for crystal
balls for many a year, along with onyx, and artificial glass (blue! 
green!) as well as black bowls with water. the symbolism of obsidian 
isn't always the most beneficent, but for demon-summoning I think it 
would be perfectly-suited for the task (obsidian=>Binah?). I'd like 
to learn more about the symbolism (planetary attributes, designated 
purpose, etc.) of gems and stones. I gather the GD and others have
provided their favourites after Agrippa or others.

>>Part of the nature of any object is the substance from which it 
>>is made, and its history; 

this is quite true, and a real issue amongst mages. how important
is the content of any magical tool? where it's been, what it is
made of, who fashioned it, consecrated it, etc., if tools are
*actually* just props rather than numinous entities in their own
right? in such a case, we're left with a shifting perceptual 
evaluative in this thread and within the general occult community
that contains competing paradigms:

========= newbie

	-- the newbie can't do anything anyway 
		so the composition of their tools is unimportant

	-- the newbie needs support 
		so refined tools are of greater importance

========= student

	-- the student should not be coddled 
		so refined tools are unnecessary

	-- the student should be protected
		so consecrated tools are unavailable

	-- the student should be protected
		so consecrated tools are required 

========= adept

	-- the adept should not need any tools
		because their power is within

	-- the adept should be using refined tools
		according to the import of hir work

	-- the adept should have already made hir tools
		and therefore should use what she has,
		therefore exhibiting the coherence and
                seriousness of their labours by the 
                qualitative delicacy she brings to the art.

this spectrum includes emphasis on both having NO tools (as a mark
of ability) and having the BEST tools (as a refined concentration
of studied skill and an aim for which exquisite detail of art is
the best preparation and the surest practice, as in any profession). 

I don't see this as being really resolved within the Hermetic
community or that of Neopaganism, either, and it surfaces in
competing currents depending on the context and arguer. those 
who have an interest in craft (more often than not the lineage-
holders in orders and societies in which ceremonialism is 
showcased or prominent) seem most keenly insistent on the value 
of certain tools for certain tasks. those without artistic skill 
in some cases attempt to undermine the value of implements 
outside the mind of the adept.

my interest is in bringing under a clearer light the intensity 
and substance of the vying parties, since my experience is that 
there is merit to both their apparently-opposed perspectives
(it forms a composite which has overlaps with other magic-system).

>>seems to me like 'real' glass is nothing but a poor copy of the
>>way nature makes it anyway.  Within each crystal of emerald, for 
>>example, is a microscopic drop of water; there is even a variety 
>>(I believe South American, but I could be wrong) that contains a 
>>drop of water and a single grain of salt in every crystal.  That, 
>>and emerald forms with natural occlusions that help capture the 
>>eye, and distract the mind.

waterdrop emerald symbolism could be attuned to the scrying tool's
purpose quite easily I'd imagine. Venusian love-work for example.

>The mind of a trained magician is not distracted by such minor
>flaws. A trained receiver can visualize off a door knob.

now you've shifted to a description of the skill of the mage, though.
while a trained receiver can visualize off a door knob, presumably
the use of certain types of visual focus are apparently better-suited
for particular magical aims (presumably this will have very real and
physical characteristics -- certain types of glass or stone as well
as fluids applied to the mirror facilitating the intended result). 
if this were not the case, then magicians like Randolph would not 
have promoted their formulae, where sincere. at the same time, 
beginners might be assisted by focussing on different qualities of 
different tools, their composition and form into which they are 
crafted in the context of their work (trial and error and expert
investigation making the human-mechanism/tool mesh more clear).

>>While I understand the value and expence that a large emerald represents,
>>the same type of history and meaning could be found with several natural
>>mirrors... Hematite, for example, is magnetic (find any glass that does
>>that!), the mayans used to grind it up and mix it with water for the red
>>paint on their temples; this is called "dragon's blood" today.  

interesting. the "Dragon's Blood" of which I've become aware is a resin
from the Dragon Palm (Daemonorops draco, Dracaena draco, thanks catya!).
I've also heard the term applied to Pomegranate Juice.
>>Obsidian is actually true glass, formed from lava, heart blood of the 
>>earth.  It is capable of two differing types of optic effects difficult 
>>to render in 'real' glass.  

I enjoyed this description. having always loved black stones, in contrast
to the New Agers and pomoChristians by whom I typically found myself 
surrounded in my youth. their shock or concern at my interests was 
curious to me. I wondered what the "evils" of obsidian and onyx were. 
over time I've associated the stones with intensity of power, emotion, 
and with the Dark Arts generally.

>>Lastly, by taking a slab of crystal or 
>>calcite, you could polish a mirror and paint the back just as you could 
>>with glass, but still have all natural materials and the optic effects 
>>and occlusions present in them.  Anther possibility is star sapphire 
>>(I have a beautiful 20carat blue star sapphire that I use for scrying).  
>>And we cant forget the old faithful, black onyx.
>All of this is psychological "crutch" support. 

too great a soliloquy on the value of tools often will bring attention
to the skill of the mage and a caution against relying on tools. it's
a swing back and forth -- "Don't rely on tools completely, but we're
using the best tools we can manage to construct." the message is at
times confusing. here's the follow-up:

>You should learn to receive on a straight, clean glass or crystal 
>orb or black-backed glass speculum before you jazz it up with any 
>kind of alchemical enhancements. I not saying they don't work, or 
>don't help---but if you start off depending on them, you are 
>behind from the beginning.

depending on tools is dangerous, in the minds of a good many mages,
especially those posting to forums like this. considering how many 
occultists have addictive personalities and that explorations 
of psychoactives have led into (at least psychological if not in 
many cases completely physical) dependence on neo-shamanic tools 
for magical results, is it surprising that we'd hear of the dangers 
of relying too heavily on tools for success? there is some kind of 
radical independence enjoined, probably for the benefit of having 
no achilles heal in the face of the Adversary. ;> this ties the
discipline of ceremonial magic more closely with martial arts,
especially as it seeks to achieve mystical results).
>...that doesn't stop us from charging our 90mm Madagascar rock 
>crystal ball with a 250,000 volt lightning machine....not that 
>we need to.....).

see what I mean? "We don't have to use tools because we're adepts, 
but all the same we use the most detailed and particular magical 
tools we can construct." there's a kind of peculiar duplicity or 
bivalence present in this evaluation. Poke is a friend of mine,
so I reflect off his words carefully. he is not alone in exactly 
this attitude toward magic and tools, and I'd even call him 
exemplary of it as a traditional mindset amongst WET mages.

>>As for symbols, I have to aggree, there are many, especially from the time
>>of Alexandria to the end of the Renaisance, that do look rather, well...
>>made up.  

presumably ALL symbols were made up. you probably mean they were crude,
made up by the person themselves, rather than passed on from others.

>>Many of these were probably created simply to make it look like
>>the person writing had great power, and deep connections with systems that
>>were hidden from everyone else.  Most of that was bullshit.  Very few books
>>that I trust out of the middle ages....

as long as all the power and skill and everything is internal, one 
might rationally maintain that everything aside from the results 
is bullshit. if a psi-power creates the changes, then whatever we
might amuse our minds with to facilitate it is irrelevant in the
vast scheme of things *except* that we are relying upon it, and 
pretending otherwise may limit our ability to assume the mantle 
of Ultimate Power. 

>>While you can use symbols from any system of thought 

"can" is the operative word here. it could mean all kinds of things,
from "You will be successful if you are an adept" to "Go ahead and
try, even though it will be fruitless for you." ability vs facility.

>>From evidence such as this, there are several examples of pentacles 
>>that would be beautiful engraved upon a mirror... depends on how 
>>you wish to use it:
>...Do not engrave sigils in the scrying surface on a mirror unless
>that's all you are going to use it for. You may surround the mirror
>with appropriate engraved sigils such as the four Cherubim, pentagram
>and hexagram, four archangels, but for the working area use a grease
>pencil---black if you are working off your own reflection.

that (grease pencil) makes the most sense to me. therefore the glass
may be used for a variety of purposes. depends. one might engrave a
sigil conducive to one's power or insight on the reverse of the 
scrying glass and thereafter paint black/formula fluids over the top 
of it. wonderful suggestions, Gnome, thanks.
>...With Goetic spirits you have three choices when it comes to 
>planetary/sepherotic location: you can take a Jewish approach 
>(ala Maestro Savedow) and put them all down in the klippoth 
>(lower Malkuth) which gives you very nasty results. 

	1 -- sub-Malkuth (infernal?)

you call this "a Jewish approach" and say it gives "very nasty results".
is this because it clothes each of the spirits in a demonic form and
therefore is likely to be more caustic to the mage?

	2 -- sephira-reverses 

this is the standard as I'd understood it. who uses this model?
didn't the Golden Dawn, after Luria or someone, favour it?

you write:
>You can put them on the dark side of each sephira---but Saturn 
>(Binah) has only Furcus---

by association described within the grimoires? or by some logic
you have not yet described? is there an asymmetry of sefirotic
association with the Lesser Key spirits? what is the breakdown?

	3 -- inter-Yesod (assiah?)

the problem with sefirotic shells is that there is usually a shell
of the number given, isn't there? are we talking about a duplication
of the number inside another number for some reason? what is the
rationale for anything other than the sephira-reverse cosmology?
where does the infinite regression of numbers-inside-numbers end?
how are sub-Malkuth and inter-Yesod qliphoth described as arising?

the followup is the shells of the paths, fabricated by Crowley 
and expanded considerably by Grant. did others expand this further?
do any go so far as to ascribe shells to the Negative Veils too? :>

>or you can do what we do and put them all (Fallen Angels) in the 
>various sephira of Yesod. 

this seems rather apocryphal. is there some reason to link the
goetic spirits with that described in the Books of Noah and Enoch?

>(Remember: each sepherioth has 10 spheres inside it). 

a cosmological principle, or a fashion of working method? where do
the models and symbols hold and where do they break down as tools?

>But you can't put them all in Saturn---unless you and Furcus know 
>something we don't.....)

what is the problem with associating them all with Binah/Saturn
and restraint? as "demons" they certainly seem conducive to 
the energies of (perhaps the Shell of?) the Number 3 in its 
curtailing function, especially in cosmologies of unfolding 
Creation (emanationism). however, as I am an egg....

>>For purely Angelic evokations, or for purely high spiritual 
>>visions, I would chose either the pent of jupiter, or the
>>first or last of the sun, perhaps in some form of combination.
>...But here again, why just one planet/sephia? We have angels 
>for all the planets/sephiroth.

because "we" isn't identical in this case. Steve isn't you and
doesn't necessarily use the same crutches in his construction. 
if enough of it is fluid or symbolic goop that can be shaped
and moulded to effect a convincing graphic tool for your mind
to make changes directly, then it doesn't matter whether he
uses planets or twinkies or ideographs or Qur'anic surahs for
his focus and symbolic language. he just has to be skilled.

he's just sharing what he would do, from his perspective. you
would probably not accord just based on your differential in
experience and the tools you've accepted into your working
toolsets. :> your toolset is refined and specialized now, and
as such it is not likely to mesh up with that of others, is it?

on the other hand, how much do you think that what you've 
developed ought to translate across human experience in terms
of combinations of symbols and underlying human psychology?
in other words, how much has your refinement conformed to
from what *you* will benefit most, such that you others'
mileage may vary if they have different backgrounds or 
working methods or ideologies from you?

>...we have to sort out how many angels we can put on pinheads. 

why? as long as it's all just a crutch for psi-powers, then
what does it matter whether people are using the same symbolic
tools to effect this? as a group, the group's focal system seems
to be important for coherence (but necessary? ask Khaos Mayjuz),
but across personal boundaries outside these working groups?
why should *any* symbolic lattice be seen as somehow of greater
value or truth than any other? isn't it dangerous to rely too
heavily upon any language, or conceptual structure, in the same
way that it is dangerous to rely too heavily upon a wand or on
the composition of a shew-glass?

thanks for your reflections on your art, Poke. muchly appreciated.


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