Back on January 3, I posted that I have two preliminary goals for the new year. The first goal was to finish the manuscript for my next book and submit it to Llewellyn for consideration at PantheaCon. I am glad to say that indeed, I accomplished that goal. For a variety of reasons it takes a long time for a book to be published. I’ll let you know how this develops. The first news I’ll anxiously be awaiting is to learn if Llewellyn will accept it. The manuscript is about 40% smaller than Modern Magick and has lots of photos and illustrations, but it’s still going to be a large book. I’ll keep you informed as to how this all progresses. This will also allow those of you who have written a book, or are interested in writing a book, and are considering submitting it to Llewellyn for publication, to see what the process is like.*
Right now, I’m planning on writing one of two possible books. One would be on a unique and ancient divination system that uses simple items you can make yourself, while the other would be a fresh approach to hypnosis for healing body, mind, and spirit (of yourself and others) as well as using hypnosis as a way of enhancing your magickal practices. Write in the comments section to let me know which topic you’d prefer.
In the meantime, as I posted on January 3, my second goal…
…is to learn a new skill. I think everyone should try to learn a new skill each year. In fact, one of my beliefs is that you don’t die when you stop breathing, you die when you stop learning.
This year, the new skill I want to learn is traditional Indian Head Massage. To this end I’ve acquired a mail-order course as well as a dozen books on the subject and I intend to take an in-person training.
To accomplish this goal I’ve begun re-reading a more general book, Secrets of Ayurvedic Massage by Atreya. Frankly, the book is a bit over-the-top in constantly referring the reader to other books to buy and study, and it rather sloppily meanders between oversimplification and over-complexity. The author, however, makes some good points.
One of the things he points out is that although you can learn the theory of what is called ayurvedic (ayurveda is the ancient set of natural healing systems originating in India) massage, as well as the design of its techniques, to really learn massage you need to take an in-person training. I agree with this. Although I’m trained in massage (I used to help teach shiatsu—a massage technique akin to acupressure—classes in San Diego), after I study some books and take a distance-learning training I also intend to take an in-person training.
When Meditating is not Meditation
Meditation has been a part of Western magickal and mystical practice for a long time. Three of the best books on the subject are by the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. They are Meditation and the Bible, Meditation and Kabbalah, and the much more concise and practical Jewish Meditation. These books trace Western forms of meditation back over 2500 years.
In his book, Atreya describes how he had been practicing meditation for 17 years. But when he starts studying with a new guru, he discovers that “…true meditation had not happened to me…” He came to understand that what he had been doing was a practice and had not achieved the final step of the practice, a true meditative state.
In a previous post I described what I referred to as “True Meditation.” I pointed out that real meditation involved three steps that I simplified as relaxation, contemplation, and negation. What Atreya realized was that he had not achieved that ultimate stage of meditation.
The ultimate goal of meditation is to achieve the meditative state. If you don’t achieve that state, you’re doing the work but not reaching the goal. This is similar to the way Aleister Crowley neatly defined the technique and goal of yoga in his small book, Eight Lectures on Yoga (which he breaks into two sections: “Yoga for Yahoos” and “Yoga for Yellowbellies”):
It’s that last step, getting your conscious mind out of the way and allowing your higher self/the Divine/God/dess to come through that Atreya had missed.
While it’s not bad to do the practices of meditation or (hatha) yoga, you really aren’t achieving the goal of meditation and yoga unless you reach that final stage. Have you been just going through the steps or are you achieving that meditative state? As Atreya states, “…true meditation is a 24 hour affair that is not done—it is lived.”
Jesus vs. Astrology
On Sunday morning I listened to Jesus Christ on the radio.
Okay. It wasn’t really Jesus. It was just a guy portraying Jesus as part of what he calls “interactive radio theater.” Basically, he pretends to be Jesus and shares his interpretation of Christianity as well as does some counseling (on air and without a license or training—it’s amazing what you can do in the name of religion), often to people who are deeply in need.
On Sunday, someone called and asked about astrology. “Jesus” said it was denounced in the bible, particularly quoting Isaiah 47:13–14:
47:13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you.
47:14 Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by.
While this sounds like a condemnation of astrologers and astrology, when taken in context, it is nothing of the sort!
When read in context these verses are Isaiah condemning the rulers of Babylon under whom the early Jews had been in exile. It was supposedly predicting (although it was probably written after the event) the fall of Babylon under Cyrus the Great of Persia, who would allow the Jews to go back to their homeland, rebuild the Temple, and worship as they wished to worship.
So Isaiah is merely saying that no matter what the rulers of Babylon do, no matter what advice they seek, their fate is determined. Babylon will fall. Am I wrong? Just look at the previous chapters, 6–13:
6 [Isaiah using God’s voice] I was angry with my people and desecrated my inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke.
7 You said, ‘I am forever—the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.
8 “Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’
9 Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells.
10 You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’
11 Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you.
12 “Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror.
So other than predicting (probably after the fact) that Babylon’s destruction is inevitable and astrology can’t prevent it (nobody said it could!), this is not a denunciation of astrology.
Now there are other instances in the bible where there are other arguments about astrology, divination, and magick, but in this case, the Jesus-of-the-Radio (and all those who quote this passage as denouncing astrology) is clearly wrong.
*Speaking of which, I’d like to remind all of you who have a manuscript you’d like to see published or even just have an idea for a manuscript that you’d like to see published, please write to me and let’s talk about it! DonK@Llewellyn.com . I’m especially looking for more advanced books on magick (including all forms of ceremonial magick, Thelemic magick, Chaos magick, Golden Dawn magick, Ogdoadic magick, sex magick, natural magick, new magickal techniques, etc.), alchemy, Tantra, and other forms of occultism. If your manuscript isn’t advanced, but offers a new approach or perhaps a “new voice,” I’d like the opportunity to consider it for publication, too. Remember, there are only three possible answers I can give to your proposal or manuscript: “yes, no,” or “it needs some work and I’ll help you with that.” If you don’t contact Llewellyn with your proposal, your chances are 100% that we won’t publish it. If you do contact us your odds go up to 66.6% chance of us saying “yes” or “let’s work on it.” I think those are good odds.