Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ring of Fire: A Reply to RO

RO posted a reply to my distaste for the Abramelin process last week, and I hadn't had time before now to really reply except in comments. Also, the comments in general are super enlightening. You should read them.. like now.

I am going to come right out and say it: I appreciate that RO has chosen to appeal to my baser instincts and say "Yes, Jow, there are cash and prizes here! In fact those prizes are stuffed with hash, and in the arms of attractive ladies who think you are exceedingly interesting.. in the pants!" (I paraphrase of course..) But seriously, though I am fond of charitable acts, aside from those I don't do things that don't profit me in some way. (Just like almost everyone else on the planet.)

I also never thought of the HGA process as a solar initiation, despite all of the early 20th century resources that described it as just that. I value the goal, but the process is a bit harsh. With solar initiation I tend to cook myself like a lobster. Start at low heat and gradually raise the temperature till I am delicious. (Note: I am ALWAYS delicious.) Now if we were talking Saturn, that is where I froth at the mouth and stick my head in the oil press. The Sun, I make haste slowly. Just a personal preference if I can help it.

"Nothing burns that you need." I agree. I still don't like a whole sale blaze to see what gets left. I have been too close to death, losing limbs, losing partners, losing homes, and seeing others crumble around me, to do things in that volume. I think it's why I am ride or die for Saturnian initiation, because it is literally all or nothing. That, to me is a win/win. I can put things bit by bit into the fire, but not my whole life. Not intentionally anyway. I prefer Russian roulette to the knife trick from Aliens.* The differance to me between the initiation within the Abramelin process and the knife trick, is that there is a chance you won't get stabbed in the hand with the knife trick. Abramelin to me is like repeatedly stabbing yourself in the hand for a very long period of time. Which is hilarious because I have no trouble with ordeals in other contexts.

From the Comments after Aghor Pir posted a great run down of spirits similar to the HGA:

I don't even believe that the HGA is "the HGA." To me, "HGA" is a label representing a spiritual role, an office more than any one entity or interpretation. It's probably not the best way to do things, generalizing a term that has a specific meaning and context and saying it's "the same thing" as any other specific term with specific contexts and definitions.

But the label "HGA" has been taken out of context and applied to a lot more by Crowley and the Golden Dawn, so it's not just the familiar you get from the Abramelin rite any more, it's "the Atman" according to Mathers, which a lot of folks would deny. Today the "HGA" label has become more of a mythical signification than any particular entity that everyone agrees on the definition of.

Anyway, to me, it's a high level label indicating a Spirit with many roles, some super-celestial, some terrestrial, and a lot that fall in between. The key differentiator between this spirit and say, the Archangels, is the specific relationship between it and me that is personal, direct, and individuated."

See, THAT right there both highlights and partially solves one of my bigger gripes with the HGA in general in a modern context. It cannot be all things to all people, and not be a terrible cluster-fuck of confusion. Confusion in this context would be disastrous.  A specific being within a specific magico-cultural context as well as a class of beings generally. That I dig.

 Though with the process itself, I still think that the results you can can be effected greatly by what you are aiming at. Some focus more on the initiatory aspect which gets them a much stronger link with Divinity, and others focus more on the side of acquiring a supernatural assistant.

I think in the past, late 19th and early 20th century, it was much more crucial, as Adepts able to teach, inspire, and initiate were very very few and far between. As the map of Magic and means of initiation grow, change, and mutate, I think there are more viable options that post less risk than the full operation. Part of the point of Abramelin as an operation, was to get initiation, a Guide, and familiars to aid you in practical matters.

It is still a powerful one stop shop to be sure, but "inflation" and innovation have not been kind to the work in general. It is still useful, but not at all as central to the work as it once was in the west. Especially as Magic as a discipline is becoming truly global, rather than strictly cultural.

*Do not try the knife trick from Aliens unless you want to be stabbed repeatedly in the hand, because that is what WILL happen.

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