Sorcery Sans Stuff.

A Student wrote a question on the Strategic Sorcery Group this weekend that I think bears answering to a wider audience:

Question: how do you continue your practice when you can’t house any altars or any physical support gear nor burn candles and incense for offerings and workings? I had to break down and hide my supplies, images, statues as well as my altars (sadly in the midst of some powerful workings) due to the need to protect from destruction from those who would not approve… The only option I can think of is to wait until I get my own place to resume…

A lot of people find themselves in a living situation that they cannot practice openly. Sometimes because of relatives and roommates, and sometimes because of the state. Since starting the Strategic Sorcery course I have been floored at the amount of people that diligently practice the art in places that they could still be arrested or persecuted for it. Even those who can practice openly may find themselves in situations where they cannot practice with lots of equipment due to tight living quarters or extended travel.

Over the course of my career I have maintained a practice with virtually every conceivable scenario. 

As a teen I started with stuff in a box and an altar that I would put together and take down for every working. When I came out as an occultist at 17 and my parents were cool, so not only did I built an altar in my bedroom but my parents built a stone circle in the NE corner of the back yard, complete with Gargoyles at the quarters. More space less secrecy.

Living in apartments with roommates left with little space for personal altars, but tons of space for large workings. Matthew Brownlee and I would clear the living room of furniture for everything from Goetic Evocations to OTO Initiations. 

When I bought a house I finally had a dedicated Temple Room and kept money altars, Tibetan Altars, Sorcery Altar etc. I spread out all over. Then we had kids and I gave up the Temple room.  and put a lot of stuff in storage. Started working with a small altar in the bedroom, and would set up larger altars as needed for special workings. – just like in High School. Now-a-days I am in the same house but I have a Bedroom altar for meditative stuff. A divination/Business altar right next to my desk. And a large shrine in the Garage that is sectioned off with curtain that I keep peoples active spells and candles on.

But ultimately I think that any Sorcerer worth their salt should be able to continue without any of it.

This was the advice that Khenpo Namdrol gave to me when I went showed him how I was streamlining a rather extensive ritual: “You have a commitment to do this practice regularly correct? How would you keep that commitment if you were in prison? How would you keep it if you had to travel without books? You must be able to practice even in these situations…

Here are some tips for those who have to keep their practice a secret.

  • You are a Temple. Your mind is the innermost secret temple of practice. Your body is the inner temple. If having outer tools and an outer temple causes you to lose sight of this, than they are doing you no good at all. If you find youself unable to conduct outer ceremonies, that may be a sign to work on the mind and the body.
  • Astral Temple. No longer fashionable to talk about but exceptionally useful. I go to mine on an almost daily basis, and have written before how I “discovered” part of it by accident which I believe to be a remnant from a past life (because there is no way in this life that I would choose Rococo as a design style :-) For all kinds of rituals, evocation, and training for astral work the astral temple is excellent.
  • Keep plain tools. Not every tool needs to have arcane sigils and names engraved upon them. Plain chalices, sticks, mirrors, etc do not draw much attention.
  • Visualization. Another practice that seems to be falling out of fashion is visualization. Someone recently told me that you could tell a practice was fluffy new age if it had visualization because no authentic magic involved visualization. By authentic magic I am assuming that they mean contained in a Grimoire written between 1300-1600 because I know of hundreds of practices in Asia that date before that time frame which involve intense visualization. Visualization is a potent tool and undetectable by anyone not gifted with clairvoyance.
  • Hand Gestures. Many hand gestures can stand in for offerings and tools. I talk about this in my own course and in a short piece I wrote for Mike Cecchetelli’s Book of Abrasax. Whether you have tools of not, the combination of bodily gesture, visualization, and pure will make for a powerful act. Be it a spell or an offering this is a mode of practice that garners results.
  • Hidden Symbols. Sometimes you want to work with physical symbols as an anchor and nothing else will do. Inscribe candles just at the bottom so that it is hidden by the candle holder.  Hide glyphs and sigils behind objects and pieces of art. Some of this is cursing 101 – nothing like a huge demonic sigil hidden behind a painting to drive someone batty, or black arts powder mixed in with their regular bath powder to give them a spiritual itch they cannot scratch. You can use the same ideas to hide things from prying eyes in your own home.
  • Use What Is In Front Of You. Want to play a fun game? The next time you are in a room with other occultists see who can make the best spell or ritual just using what is in the room. Herbs from the Kitchen, toys from the kids room, statues and knick nacks. The world is alive with magic. If you have a strong connection to the spirits you can ask for their guidance: watch how certain items suddenly jump out at you as you instantly understand how to use them.

Even if you do not have to scale down or hide your practice, I think its something that everyone should try. It’s a great way to find out what is absolutely necessary, what is just helpful, what is superfluous, and what is actually holding you back.

A couple years ago when I started to explore Zero Point Magic*, I put everything away. All of it. I would go into the shrine room which had nothing but Black Curtains some candles and Scrying Mirror. It was an awesome experience and I recommend it for people who feel spiritually over-extended or who want to explore the full potential of their art.

*Zero Point Magic uses reality itself as the only symbol set. You ignore all tradition and approach reality as if you were the first person to think of magic – the zero point. I hope to have the Zero-Point Chapbook ready for Spring 2015.

About Inominandum

Author. Sorcerer. Consultant. I have 30 plus years of experience making magic a reality for myself, my clients, and my students. For a complete background go to www.strategicsorcery.net
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18 Responses to Sorcery Sans Stuff.

  1. Scott Rassbach says:

    this post by Andrew Watt makes many similar points re: Use what is in front of you.

    http://andrewbwatt.com/2014/11/09/diner-magic/

  2. Sara Mastros says:

    You know what makes a great scrying mirror? Powered down lcd screen. black, with some depth to it, just the right amount of shiny, and accustomed to showing images.

  3. Anna Anima Mundi says:

    While I am grateful I have unlimited ability to have a temple room, lots of stuff, multiple altars, etc., I just love to “make do.” For me, because I don’t *have* to do it, it’s both fun and effective. My husband has a gift for going to the $1 store and find great spell and ritual items. He has a child’s plastic door that went with some game; it’s two gray posts and a gray lintel and a purple door. GREAT for projecting.

  4. Rachael Vitelli (Athene Noctua) says:

    I have been able get away with quite a bit of visible stuff because I’m “artsy”. I call my alters “social commentary collages”, and make tiny shadow box alters for ongoing work, when need be.

    Just posting this here, as it might help a few folks out.

  5. Trevour says:

    I would love to subscribe to a newsletter or regular alerts, if you have one. Cheers!

  6. Chris says:

    I’d been holding back on doing some specific work do to lack of space. This blog has showed me how to move forward without the clutter. Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. Glanbrin says:

    Timely and engaging piece, sir. I particularly like the Zero Point Magic concept. I own some of your books already, and will definitely look forward to the chapbook!

  8. Christine Opland says:

    This piece is timely for me because it comes at a time when I have already decided I have too much stuff for the space available. I must pair down my visible practice, and I actually think it will help make my practice more concise.

  9. Ulysses says:

    My wand at work is a fancy pen I bought. My chalice is my coffee mug.

  10. Bonnie says:

    As someone who practices reiki…I do a lot of drawing symbols in the air. I have heard of people drawing symbols with their eyes, as well, though I haven’t tried that. I also volunteer as a meditation teacher in a jail and practice reiki unobtrusively while I’m there…found that there are lots of things I can do in a jail setting where I’m not allowed to bring anything in with me but books and paper. Creating a sacred space, for example. Grounding. Setting intentions. Visualizations, of course. Meditation (well, that’s why I’m there in the first place). And for me, prayers and reiki and dedications and blessings…all stuff I can do in my head. Also, promoting awareness of the items that are there to work with…that even in a jail setting, we still have many elements of nature available to work with, starting with gravity! And air. And water. Coffee and tea also seem to be commonly available, even in jail. I’m not there to do magick, but even to point out to people who are locked up that they actually do still have access to nature is itself so magical and so healing that I’ve started to make a point of commenting on nature and its presence in the room with us every time that I teach meditation. Finding nature in a jail somehow never gets old and people are gobsmacked when they start thinking about it.

  11. Jason Potgieter says:

    I recently had to move into an apartment where I’m sleeping in the lounge, so I have people walking through the space all the time. I prefer to work in the open but it’s not possible. So, I used an old wooden crate and made a Shrine-in-the-Box. It doesn’t have a lid but if someone were to look into it, all they would see is junk. A few coloured pencils, bits of thread, colored elastics, some paper cups with doodles drawn on, toy cars, playdough, some battery operated candles, an old letter opener, a shallow, circular butter dish (with lid), some old photos, a colouring in book filled with images of interesting things, a pretty glass bottle with some oil in, a purple insole for a shoe, black nailpolish, an Owl feather, some action figurines and some stones, manysided dice and buttons in a little corduroy tote baggie. It looks like the leftovers of a garage sale, but everything I need, even for complex stuff, is there. Thank you for a most excellent post!

  12. Frederic says:

    Zero Point Magic sounds awesome. Looking forward to seeing your chapbook on the matter!

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