Book review: Trump Card

“The year is 2017. America is a tire fire. The resistance is led by Teen Vogue, Badlands National Park, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary.”
One tweet that has since gone viral and been replicated and paraphrased in a variety of ways has best summed up the surreal political and social climate since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Many of us have found our solace in humor and satire from places like SNL and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver while others have been (understandably) burnt out and have chosen escapism in the form of kitten videos and Game of Thrones. Regardless of how you’ve been handling the current hot mess that is the American government at present, the new book release Trump Card is for you.
Trump Card brilliantly weaves together the hero mythos from Joseph Campbell with themes from the Hunger Games, well placed mystical and occult references, and biting wit and satire leveled mostly at the Trump administration but not without words of wisdom towards those in the “resistance” either. It also takes a number of laugh out loud shots at the occult community in general, “hex activism”, “meme magic”, and various colorful characters who have attempted to seize their fifteen minutes of fame in this tense political climate. In short, no one is safe, and this book may be the meme to end all memes. From references to the LBRP to hilarious commentary on the spelling of magic(k), it’s fairly obvious who the audience of this book is intended for. And while various specific references to ceremonial magic may go over some reader’s heads, it won’t escape others that the main character’s name is none other than that of the goddess of wisdom.
While I can’t promise that this book will be a magic spell against the forces that have placed Trump in a position of power, I can promise you that it will piss off all of the right people. And while this may be both a good and a bad thing, fortune favors the bold. Both the heroine and the story itself will pull you right in with just enough elements of humor to reassure you that it’s not taking itself seriously.
Or is it? Maybe this book will be the magical device we need to combat authoritarian governments. Or perhaps instead we should regard the carefully placed text at the start of the book: “This entire book is a lie“.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

 

Trump Card is available in print:
https://www.createspace.com/7313032

Kindle:
https://www.amazon.com/Trump-Card-Scott-Michael-Stenwick-ebook/dp/B074F3FZQV/

E-book on Smashwords:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/739434

Magic for a cause: when a single vs an ongoing ritual is best

There have been, in my experience, three different forms of magic:

  1. The kind where you need to perform a single ritual, let it go, and the results come
  2. The kind where you need to perform a ritual more than once over a specified period of time, then let it go…and the results come
  3. The kind where you need to contribute to it on a regular basis in order for the results to come, and keep coming

How do you determine which of the following types will suit your needs? To be honest, it depends on the goal. Is this something you will continuously be requiring? Or is this for a particular need-of-the-moment? Or is this something more serious which requires formal attention over a length of time?

I used to struggle with money/financial magic until I realized that I was responding to emergencies as they came up and not dealing with the long term. Most of the magic I’d do was in type #1 and sometimes type #2. Realizing that I needed a constant and more consistent flow I switched to type #3 and suddenly the results came–and stayed. I didn’t just get a job that turned sour later; I got myself what amounted to my dream job and was not only able to stay in it but make it even better. I created a cash box from Jason Miller’s Financial Sorcery book, and take out and put in cash into it regularly. That cash box rests on my money/Jupiter altar in my temple room where I keep my statues of Zeus and HEra. When I do, money comes in. When I don’t, I notice it–and a lot. The results I get are as consistent as my practice.

Some forms of magic require more maintenance and attention than others, but it all comes down to intent. If it’s something that you KNOW you will constantly, constantly need, I recommend creating a particular designed space or an altar for it and do magical work for it regularly. Could be daily or once a week, whatever works for you–but I recommend making the day work for you as well. For instance, if you’re gearing magic towards making and keeping yourself healthy, I recommend picking Sunday for the solar work. For financial concerns, Thursday is the obvious pick. If you’re unable to do it that particular day, use the corresponding nighttime planetary hour instead–that’s the planet of the first hour of that night. For Sunday, that’s Jupiter. If you’re looking to have a solar background to your Jupiter work, that’d be a great backup day/time to do your work. The idea is regular investments on a magical level towards getting what you want, keeping what you want, and getting even more of what you want.

In addition, I definitely recommend tying in your work to a particular deity or daemon, preferably a being you already have a connection to, and appeal to them in your work. I found Jupiter energies extremely difficult to control until I made regular prayers and offerings to Zeus and later on both Zeus and Hera to act as guiding, controlling forces. Prior to that, I found myself creating basement floods and hot water heater breakages–which I obviously don’t recommend. 🙂 If gods aren’t your thing, there are many daemons to pick from who can assist such as angels, saints, etc.

Respecting your magical neighbors vs banishing

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Part of being a magician and/or a witch is being in harmony with your environment and local spirits. You may not always chat with or say hello to your neighbor, but it’s not nice to blare music at 12:30am and if you’re going to have a loud and widely attended party, it’s good to warn them in case they want to be elsewhere. And then there are the sorts whom you do not NOT want to invite because of the fallout which will inevitably occur. So what’s an occultist to do under similar conditions in their practice?

My roots as a pagan and my very first spiritual community was with ADF, a pan-Indo European Druidic organization. It was here that I learned the concept of giving offerings to the “outsiders.” These outsiders could include anything from trickster deities like Eris (who already has a tale about her and what happened when she wasn’t invited to a party) to the fae, whom I think pretty much everyone knows you REALLY don’t want to piss off. By doing this, it was making it clear that these weren’t spirits to be banished or cast out but instead “Hey, we’re doing a private ritual and intend no disrespect, but here’s a token of respect so you can party over here instead”.

Nineveh Shadrach details similar practices with the Djinn in his books such as Magic That Works in which the idea is that you warn the neighboring Djinn that you’re about to do a ritual so if they don’t want to be there to get the hell out. Courtesy again in this case matters, as the Djinn and the fae have similar traditions in dealing with them and pissing either off isn’t something you want to do.

I sometimes wonder how much of “imp” or “trickster” activity in one’s home is instead a manifestation of this: a spirit feels forgotten, left out, wanting attention. Maybe they outright feel snubbed or slighted for whatever reason. What’s an attention-seeking daemon to do? Why, hide your things, of course! If you’re finding that a lot of weird activity is happening within your home or surroundings at any given point in time, it might be helpful to do a divination to determine the identity or type of spirit or just go for broke and leave an offering for the local spirits in whatever form or forms they may be in.

It’s good to save the outright banishing rituals for entities of malicious or evil intent, and cases like this where they just simply happen to live near you instead give them courtesy and respect. Be kind to your neighbors, you never know when they too might decide to have a party or otherwise remember you. Allies are just as good to have as are friends.

 

This blog post is part of a blog hop. Feel free to check out the rest of the posts in this theme when you’re done with this one. 🙂

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On being magic

This was a blog post I was going to make before the total proverbial shit hit the fan and I had to make a post about that instead. What I am about to discuss is a case of “no one’s wrong, it’s just a matter of different perspectives and words getting in the way of understanding.” It’s a kinder, gentler post, but no less important. So without further adieu….

I posted a link to a blog a week or so ago entitled Magick, Money, & Bullshit: Do the F**cking Work. Literally my only complaint about this post was the need to censor an excellent word such as “fucking”, but I digress. One of the best parts about it was this section here: “Magick isn’t something you do. Magick is something YOU ARE. How you think. How you live. How you love. How you behave all affect any magickal working you perform.” 

When I posted this to Facebook, I was surprised at a few who didn’t seem to understand the spirit of what was being said, namely “Magick isn’t something you do. Magick is something you are.” One felt the need to point out that magic(k) is a practice while another voiced the idea that once you hit Adepthood, magical practice is something you do less often out of pursuit of other things. Neither of these statements are “wrong”; they just weren’t the point that I felt the deep need to express and celebrate. I also fell short of being able to explain it on Facebook, as the medium really isn’t sufficient for this sort of discussion. Expressing why magic is who you are and not just what you do requires more than it provides.

Magic is a mindset. It’s a mentality. There is no separation between your “mundane” life and your “magical” life, and when you live out your life in a way that expresses that, all of the barriers towards manifestation come tumbling down. It’s not just something you do when you’re lighting that candle, casting that spell, doing that working, this invocation, robing up and entering your temple room, or spending all of your hard earned money over at Wolf & Goat.

Yes Virginia, you ARE magic. This is why it’s so important to take care of yourself, get your physical needs met, and don’t neglect any part of your life. If there’s an area where you’re struggling to manifest something take a good look at why. Maybe it’s your approach, maybe it’s something you haven’t quite digested yet, or maybe you’ve been treating it as something you’re not yet worthy of. Maybe you’ve only done it when you desperately needed to as opposed to making it something you do on a regular basis, like brushing your teeth. Perhaps it’s a fear of failure o the belief that magic is somehow limited to certain things. It’s time to put all of that away and set aside the notion that you’re not deserving. Yes, you ARE worthy. You don’t need to feel guilty or make excuses as to why you can’t do money/job/career magic or any sort of magic; you are the vessel from which the power of the gods flow. You are a magical being, and with every step you take to perfect both the person whom you are and what you put forth into the world, you can make the world around you more in touch with the very essence of magic.

I’ve always found that magicians who quote the statement “As above, so below” and yet draw lines in the sand on their spiritual/personal and “mundane” lives to be demonstrating a sad cognitive dissonance. Repeat after me: it’s all the same. There are no lines, no boundaries, no differences between them. You cannot keep your altars tidy and not extend that into the rest of your life, and while doing one can help to improve the other it’s not enough. Take action, get it done.

One of my magical teachers once said to me that magic is about making a connection. And it’s true. We need to make connections between all of the bits of our lives, and if it’s the physical world we’re struggling with we cannot continue to divorce ourselves from it. Ultimately it’s about striving for what is termed in my faith as aretéexcellence in all things and living up to one’s full potential.

Don’t just do magic, be magic.

Sex, BDSM, magic, and the potential for abuse

I’m tackling this as a blog post because it needs to be said, someone needs to say it who does not identify as a male given the gendered nature of some of what has been said, and so it might as well be me. Given the subject matter I want to make a few disclaimers utterly crystal clear before I begin so that there is no misunderstanding:

  1. There is nothing wrong with sex in ritual, sex magic, or sexuality in magic and witchcraft–or sex, period.
  2. There is nothing wrong with BDSM providing all parties involved are consenting adults in ritual, magic, sex magic, or in general.
  3. I neither look down upon, judge, or condemn those who choose to do either #1 or #2, and it is utterly none of my business if you do or don’t.

A particular blog post has been making the rounds in the occult communities entitled Forging the body of a witch. While I agree with a number of points this post attempted to make, there are a few things in it which are decidedly problematic. I won’t get into the health points as they’ve been covered to death elsewhere, but I’d like to discuss one which was covered towards the end, namely that women need to submit in a ritual BDSM setting in order to have any power as a witch. To be fair Grey adds the disclaimer that “The kind of witchcraft (he) discuss(es) can be used as an excuse for abuse. For power over the aspirant rather than liberation. For sexual exploitation rather than liberation. That does not make the techniques anathema.”

No, it does not. But let me vehemently disagree on the following points:

  1. That women or people in general need to be sexual in order to be powerful beings, or in order to practice magic or witchcraft
  2. That women need to submit to anyone or be in “dungeons” in order to be initiated, be witches, and have any true magical power

The thing is this: you can add all of the disclaimers to the post that you want, but the implications are clear, and they are fairly disturbing. Of course sex can be abused. Of course BDSM can be done by people looking to abuse. Hells, I myself was raped by a “dom” and can speak volumes about that alone. But as always, I’m not saying that BDSM is abuse or that sex or sex magic is bad. What I am saying is that implying that they are expected, necessary, or required is bad, and does open the door wide open for abuse no matter what you may claim.

And do I really need to get into why a man suggesting a woman must submit, be sexual and submissive in order to fulfill his requirements of what he considers to be a witch is a serious problem? I’ll leave this comment here, no more need be said.

Then there’s the issue of sexuality. As someone who is on the asexual spectrum, I have no need nor desire to be sexual. Nor should anyone feel that it is required or a requirement of being a witch. Even if someone who identifies as pansexual was engaged in witchcraft or any sort of ritual or initiation, their consensual participation in such acts of sex or BDSM should not be assumed or required either. Having a ritual scourge, symbolic or otherwise is one thing, but what was described in this blog post was something else entirely. If people want to have such things in their rites, fine. Do we really need it? No. Can we do just fine without it? Yes. Am I still a witch if I don’t? Absolutely.

I had to deal recently within my own communities a few months back with a similar argument due to a very problematic situation which arose, and it became clear that there were people who felt that if you attended the ritual that you were open to being sexual and you were consenting to this. Had these ideas been clearly communicated and in advance, this would not have been a problem. The problem which arose was that no communication occurred, consent was just assumed. This presumptuous attitude which denies the opportunity to consent and consent knowingly needs to be discussed and at great length, and to ignore it is abuse.

Ultimately this is what makes Grey’s post problematic: the implication that we must all have sex magic and BDSM in our rites to be witches or otherwise have power. I don’t need to be beaten, tied up, or whipped in order to be a witch or have power. I don’t need to have sex or be sexual either, and I find it incredibly disturbing that this is even a subject for debate. It’s not just a matter of “safe spaces”; it’s a matter of not supporting what has been described elsewhere quite accurately as rape culture. Consent should never be required or assumed; it should be given freely, with perfect love and perfect trust.

Without that, your magic is in vain, and you have no right to call yourself a proper person let alone a witch.

How to magic: the programmer and linguist edition

As many of you know, I’m a student of Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery class, which I very, very highly recommend. Sometimes we do community blog hops where many of us write about the same topic. This month, I’m hosting and we’re writing about “Magical Links”. You can see a COMPLETE LIST of all the blogs and choose which to read, or travel through them in order. You’ll find a link to the next blog (Scarlet Grace’s) at the bottom of this post.

 

One of my magical teachers and longtime friends once said to me that magic is about making a connection, and he’s absolutely right. People who get into the “Nothing is at rest, everything vibrates” principle will also argue that it’s about vibrating at the same frequency of whatever you’re trying to attract or reach out to. Heck, sounds a lot like some of the Law of Attraction folk so I’ll stick that perspective in there too.

So what does that mean? What is creating a connection or a link all about in magic? My perspective of it is this: it’s about speaking the right language as to be understood, and programming your ritual in such a way that you’re able to communicate with whatever force or intelligence exists on the other end. Ceremonial magicians can go on for hours about correspondences; Crowley’s 777 is evidence of that alone and that’s one of a few texts purely on that subject. You pick what makes sense, and you leave out what doesn’t, and the end result is a coherent recipe upon which to lay your ritual foundations and even the timing of the ritual itself.

Which makes people’s objections in the pagan and polytheist communities about “plug and play” with deities of different cultural backgrounds into a ritual that had nothing to do with their culture make all that much more sense. I’m not going to use a Hellenic ritual to make an offering to Papa Legba, and it makes no sense to call on Apollo in an Irish Druidic rite–even more so if these were deities and daemons I’ve not had any or much contact with, and hence have no established personal connections to already. If I wanted to phone the French ambassador, I am not going to address him in Japanese or call him by names other than his preferred given name and titles. It’s not just a matter of being understood; it’s also a matter of respect.

The Chaldean Oracles warn not to “change the foreign words of evocation” for they contain within them a sacred power, and that those names are also sacred. While I’ve heard all sorts of reasoning ranging from respecting the original culture and maintaining purity to merely “words have power”, I’ll also argue the more practical “This is the best way to establish a connection or link to the entity or force you are calling upon”.

The ritual or magical act itself for me is part communication, part computer program, or perhaps more accurately “a program which allows me to communicate with whatever force or entity is involved in this operation”. On the whole, I think of magic as my ongoing connection and communication with an underlying part of reality which can talk back and respond to my ideas and desires. It’s a respectful, meaningful dialogue. In comparison with what I am communicating I am clearly on the level of a two year old, still struggling with basic sentence structures and not really getting a whole lot yet while trying to figure out this weird thing called “reality”. I may never get there, and my attempts at doing so may boil down to me poking at it with a stick, but if I find that certain types of pokes get certain results, then that’s progress I can repeat.

 

Read the previous blog hop on magical links here: http://www.inominandum.com/blog/missing-links-and-spell-failure/

Head to the next blog hop on magical links here: http://unseenseraph.com/strategic-sorcery-blog-hop-magickal-links