Love Letters

Love Letters

I’ve written in a few different posts in a few different ways about how on one level, Hermekate has to do with the concept of “occultural solidarity,” or the high-minded (in my opinion) vision of encouraging, instigating, effecting, or otherwise participating in a process of global occultural “coagula” wherein people of all various paths begin to invest more of their energy in finding their commonalities than their differences. This is largely for the sake of advancing the understanding of magic itself, which would hypothetically help us all–though it’s more than that as well. In other words, while there is so much that differentiates us, I do think that occultists, spirit workers, magicians, witches, etm. of all types sometimes lose sight of the fact that we are all united in our common attribute of being magical as fuck.

Of course, such a vision will likely never come to fruition in as concrete a way as I tend to imagine on any given day; the forces causing the very divisions I am seeking to synthesize against are real, formidable, and are just as much part of the overall magical process as is any perceived unity. We’re all walled off from one another, in a sense, by the absolute uniqueness of our own individual experiences, as mediated by other layers of complexity including class, culture, gender, values, beliefs, etm.

One layer to which I’d like to pay special attention in this post is the one involving magical theory: Yes, there is a world full of magical practitioners out there, but one of the more consequential lines along which we magical folk tend to sort ourselves is that of which magical model we favor (and this can still be true even among those who employ some form of “meta-model” or who work with more than one model). There are many different magical models out there, but two of the major ones (each can also probably be endlessly sub-divided if we wish) are the Spirit Model and the Psychological Model.

In short, the Spirit Model holds that when doing magical work–where spiritual entities are concerned–they exist objectively, they have minds, desires, and prerogatives of their own, they inhabit some form of what we call a spirit world, and they can operate upon the physical plane in unseen ways. In this model, magic is often very much a matter of interacting with spirits in various ways, and when our magic works in this model, the explanation is that we somehow made our will understood to a spirit or spirits, and they got shit done on our behalf. To a large extent, this model takes things at face value and isn’t really dissecting “what” a spirit “is.”

In the Psychological Model, any perceived spirits or external entities are held to be aspects of the mind of the practitioner. The specific relationship between the practitioner and said entities may differ from school to school–in other words, mere adoption of the Psychological Model doesn’t necessarily indicate whether the objective is yet to interact with these aspects of self as separate entities all the same, or if the goal is to eventually transform our relationship with them or to integrate them. Either way, spirits, from gnomes, goblins, and fairies to gods and goddesses, are symbolic forms that have some kind of relative importance on that relative and symbolic level, but their real essence and nature dwell at the level of archetypes–highly abstract, impersonal concepts so far removed from our differentiated, manifest experience of the world that they couldn’t possibly be construed as giving half a shit what human beings do, not in anywhere near the same way gods, goddesses, fairies, goblins, and gnomes are said to give a shit about what we do. That’s because they aren’t “beings” in the way we understand ourselves or spirits to be, they’re phenomena that abide in our minds and nowhere else.

These views seem so far removed from one another that at first glance, it’s pretty obvious why strong adherents of one model or the other might each feel aversion or even antipathy toward the other. People get into arguments about this stuff all the time, but the more mature of us generally settle on agreeing to disagree. In this sense, the divisions I’m talking about here are a beneficial thing. They are healthy boundaries that keep people from stepping on each other’s toes. I’ve learned that insofar as this is true, we do not want to indiscriminately hack at them with a machete.

However, as long as these barriers do stand absolute, those pesky conflicts that occasionally arise will always continue to do so; if there is an understanding to be found between the two, it will remain hidden so long as the two camps stay separated for the sake of a superficial peace.

That said, those who have decided they are interested in somehow reconciling or synthesizing the two models have only surpassed the first of many daunting obstacles, and the second one rises up to hit us in the face upon our very first step in that direction like a cartoon rake trodden upon by a careless character: This is a lopsided synthesis given some of the very premises that often contribute to the initial opposition between the two. The Psychological Model holds (or, from the viewpoint of someone who is rooted in the Spirit Model, often implies at the very least) that the Spirit Model is naive and that no matter how real spirits might seem to be, they are only manifestations of the “unconscious mind” and if you disagree, it’s because you’re still being fooled by them. Put another way, from the outset, the Psychological Model is constructed so as to engulf, explain, and thus invalidate the Spirit Model as a kind of mental shell game that we play with ourselves.

In light of this–naturally–strong proponents of the Spirit Model take issue with such claims, and often find them insulting, condescending, and degrading. Anyone with half a heart can see that even if it turned out to be true, there is a rather cock-sure presumptuousness implicit in the Psychology Model for insisting on pointing it all out, and that’s true because it’s really an essential part of the analytical perspective that gives rise to the Psychology Model to begin with; it is of the model’s very nature to be, well, “cutting” and merciless.

Regarding mercilessness, the opposite argument–often leveraged by those seeking to support the Psychological Model while detracting from the legitimacy of the Spirit Model–is that those hewing so firmly to that model are doing so because they refuse to look underneath their beliefs, that to accept them at face value is regrettable and will cause them to miss a big part of the picture of what they are actually doing. It is often alleged from this standpoint that to deepen involvement in the Spirit Model is to miss possibilities for real healing because the model is predisposed to its practitioners viewing the so-called “spirits” as “greater-than,” when some spirits might better be understood as pathological manifestations of a problem that exists inside the practitioner’s mind.

I think the best that proponents of either model can say is that sometimes, real life experience bears one view out more than the other, and sometimes the pendulum swings in the other direction. What I doubt hardliners on either side would readily admit is that this means neither model is inherently superior to the other outside of whatever values one holds and where that places one model in relationship to the other–for them.

When spirits arose in my life and started talking to me, the definitions above became supremely important because if I was losing my mind, I needed to address that accordingly, whereas if these spirits were real, that implied a different course of action altogether. Decades–decades–of my work have proceeded in the midst of an ongoing flurry of relationship between those two models in my own theoretical framework because from the very beginning, I have done my best to hold a “both/and” view, even when I wasn’t sure of the details about how that was supposed to work.

I think most people can relate to the idea that if voices show up in our heads, we’re going to question our sanity. The way Rose and Ilyas addressed this was by pleading that I continue listening to them–even if I did think I was going crazy. Over my lifetime, I have heard countless variations of the below from them:

“Believe you’re crazy, call it mental illness, call us psychological complexes, but listen to what we’re saying because it’s important either way. That is all we ask. You’ll see.”

In the previous post, I wrote about Phobos–a “spirit” or “psychological complex” depending upon how you want to look at it–in the past tense and mentioned that I integrated him after identifying what he stood for. Psychologically, that’s an alright explanation, and it worked in theory, so why do we need to look anywhere else? Well, there are reasons to go for it and reasons to move on, so I won’t answer my own rhetorical question for once. Anyhow, my point is that a valid psychological explanation does not necessarily negate a spiritual one; all it really needs to do is comfortably conceal one and it has done its job. We also need to be wary, however, that we don’t hide psychological factors behind spiritual ones!

It is for this reason that I hold that even if you do adhere to the Spirit Model, just as Israel Regardie recommended, it’s important to consider your mental health, and this suggests having at least a basic understanding of what the Psychological Model is saying–because magic is magical, but it is also always psychological as well.

Yes, I did integrate Phobos eventually. How’d I do it?

After identifying all relevant psychological factors?

Magic. Ha! Details forthcoming. Keep your eye out.

Yeah, I integrated Phobos…honestly, when he switched his allegiance to me, I realized that I had unconsciously integrated Minora already, and that’s why Phobos did that–because his master literally became me. I had to figure that one out on my own, but it gave me a blueprint for dealing with Phobos, and likely the others as well.

I’ve also integrated Rose. I remember the moment it happened. While integrating her involved magic as well, the earlier stages were different in her case than the stages with Phobos, which makes sense because she represents a completely different part of myself (that is, on a psychological level); while Phobos represented the part of me that holds Fear, Rose represented the part of me that holds Love. The methods involved were completely different.

I’m A Freud Knot

I have a quirky creative process that could probably stand some revision, but its main promise is that it’s one way I’ve managed to transmute some of my flaws and at least make them work for me (finessing this kind of give-and-take is an important balance in Shadow work, by the way, wherein we have to pretty much allow the expression of some of the things we really don’t like about ourselves). I began doing these things unconsciously, but gradually developed it into a very conscious process.

I’ve been complimented heavily on a lot of writing that I’ve done completely off-the-cuff, and this has made me overconfident in my abilities. I’m impulsive, too. You can account for this in astrological terms, if you like, with my Aries Sun. This all led me to develop the habit of sitting down, writing posts, and publishing them immediately. I scan them a bit while I write, but usually I’m just “in the zone.” It’s only after clicking “Publish” that I then give my post its first real thorough proofreading, and the pressure of its being public is what motivates me to run through and fix the major mistakes that I see. As I realized I was doing this, I started leaning into it. I trusted that there’s a reason I do things that way.

I also often feel compelled to read my written material over and over. In this case, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s published, but publicity helps. At first, I thought it was mere vanity, but after a while, I realized that it was an important part of how I review and understand my own process, as well as the larger picture that is forming via my writing (this blog is experimental even today). I get insight into what’s taking shape and it’s often from past writing that inspiration brings ideas for future work. But it gets a lot deeper than that.

Going back to the Spirit Model: In this post, I recount how I allowed another person to “speak” for Ilyas, one of my spirit guides who appeared as a large red dragon (see this post). After that happened, I found that I was unable to perceive Ilyas anymore as a spirit. In other words, by being too loose with my boundaries about my experiences with him, I inadvertently sabotaged my own access to what he had to tell me.

A similar thing had occurred with Rose; I’d largely lost touch with her except in fits and starts, ever since my time in Norway.

In both cases, I had come to theorize that it was because they were no longer going to “step down their frequency” from the “spirit realm” to communicate with me. Instead, I needed to find my way to them on their turf.

As I’ve discussed previously, I had come to view Rose in a psychological sense as a form issuing forth from my anima, and various branches of my path had pointed me to study The Red Book, wherein I learned much about Jung’s process, of which a sort of “personal hermeneutics” played an important part.

The way I realized that my incessant scanning of my writing was coming from a deeper place than vanity was when–re-reading a piece I had written on the faculty of “cunning,” which is itself a sort of merger of rational and intuitive thought modes–I came across a line that, read in a sexual context, made me blush.

“Oh dear,” I thought to myself, “Should I edit that? Nah, it’s cute, let’s continue.” (You see, along with leaning into my impulsivity and at least making productive use of the resulting friction, I had developed a bit of a practice out of leaving things that in place in my writing just to humble myself a little.)

As I finished and then once again re-read it, this ode to cunning, intentionally looking for whatever might be interpreted as sexual innuendo, I realized one needn’t even look far; this thing was absolutely tawdry with it. Once you adjusted your lens appropriately, it was positively smutty.

That’s when I smiled and realized it: That was “Rose”–my anima or my psyche, as Jung would have it–looking lovingly up at me from the page. From that day forward, it was easy to once again perceive and work with Rose at a spirit level–and, indeed, in her physical manifestation as my partner.

You better believe I integrated this realization into my writing process, and it has been a very fruitful understanding to have reached. I will refer the reader to this post, but if you’d rather not read it, then here at least is the relevant passage:

I had also learned by then that I had to read between every little line these spirits uttered because much of what they said meant two or more things at once, and sometimes a meaning or two wouldn’t become apparent for quite a while—sometimes days, sometimes months, and, as I would learn, sometimes years. Rose had proven this handily already–sometimes she’d tip me off that something had multiple meanings and explain them to me up front. Sometimes she’d tell me that another meaning would make sense later, and it always would. Sometimes she would play it sly and let the meanings hit me upside the head later, laughing at my stunned reaction when they dawned on me. This is the kind of dynamism that made me start taking these spirits even halfway seriously.

Taking the cue–from my own writing, mind you–that I needed to “read between every little line,” I underwent a process of re-reading writings I had done over years and years, and was almost shocked at all of the little “love letters” from Rose that I found tucked away within them.

And that’s the way it’s been ever since; my writing is filled with them. Want another example? This one’s recent.

I’ve already linked to the post where I discuss the origins of the “V-Sigil” that is the logo for this site; in fact, there’s a whole three-part series about it. I came up with that sigil in 2010 in Norway. In this post, I tell the story behind the site’s banner, which “sandwiches” the circumstances in which that sigil was born. Therein once more is an example of a “love letter” from Rose, that one visual–wherein I took two photographs that line up symmetrically to symbolize….quite a lot.

Less than a month ago, I republished this post, which I originally wrote at a time long before I had consciously integrated the meanings of the sigil and Hermekate; nonetheless, these words jumped out at me for the first time:

Between these extremes, within the city but not quite within Heart of Chicago, there was a pizza place called Pisa Pizza. Although I had never eaten there, I knew the sign for decades as an icon and landmark on the trip east up Cermak from Berwyn to the house on Cermak in the city; it was a big point of nostalgia for me. Little did I know, Veronica’s family owned that place, and she worked there all the time. I probably drove right past her more times than I can count, without ever realizing it.

“Between these extremes, within the city but not quite within Heart of Chicago, there was a pizza place called Pisa Pizza.” Now, let’s relate that sentence to the V-Sigil. Let’s say the snake in the V-Sigil delimits “these extremes,” and that the circular section of the sigil near the center, broken into eight “slices,” represents “Heart of Chicago,” near the boundaries of which, we find Pisa Pizza. Check this shit out:

Haha, get it? If you get it, you get it. I laughed so hard. That Rose and her love letters…

Just one more!

In the previous post, I told an incredible story of siccing a demon dog on an alleged aggressor, who disappeared fretfully and hurriedly into a train station just as a set of gates lowered between us; on the ground, just on the other side of those gates, was another “Rose” of sorts….was Phobos leading me back to her? That “Rose” is the compass rose (also known as a “Wind Rose,” which is funny since Rose-the-spirit was a wind spirit) serving as the featured image for this post–and a compass is an important symbolic element of the magic that I used to integrate them both.

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