I was a skinny kid brought up by my mother. I never knew my father. When I started school, I was so small that the administrators wanted to hold me back a year. But my mother wouldn't hear of it.
So within the first few weeks, I was made fun of by the bigger kids at school. I told my mother and she said that I had to stand up for myself. "Jesus helps those who helps themselves," she used to say. Then she'd break up in laughter because she knew that wasn't correct English. She wasn't making fun of those who didn't know better, but of those who choose to speak incorrectly just to be accepted by some in the American/African community. She refused to call herself an African-American, saying she was an American first and then honored her African heritage. She insisted I learn to read and write English properly, and that was one of the few classes where I always got As. She was a devout Christian, too, and brought me up that way.
As I got older, the insults from bigger kids started to change to beatings. I was approached by some members of a gang. They said that if I joined, they could protect me. I talked to my mother about it, and I thought her head was going to explode! She took me to church and we prayed about it for hours. The next day she picked me up after school and took me to a dojo to learn Karate. Within six months, the big kids didn't pick on me any more.
By the time I was in high school, I was considered a "weird loner." I wasn't part of a gang. I was too small for any sports. I wasn't interested in any of the school clubs. I studied Christianity and always had a Bible with me. (If you're wondering, as long as I didn't bring it out in any class and didn't try to share it with anyone, the school administrators left me alone.)
In high school I became friends with another "weird loner," Curtis. He insisted that people call him "Chuku." I asked him what that was all about; he revealed that "Chuku" was the name of the supreme god of the Ibo people. The Ibo came from an area of Africa that is now in Nigeria. "Chuku," he explained, "is like the Father part of the Christian trinity. Everything good comes from Chuku. He created the universe and brings the rains that allow the plants to grow. And just as Jesus is the Son of God, Chuku has the Sun for his symbol, and the Sun "dies" each year at the winter solstice and is born again to bring the sunlight and rain."
I was in shock. "That's not Christianity. That's Paganism. That's Satanism. That's evil."
Chuku laughed aloud. "Yeah, I know. That's what everyone says. But it's not true. Let me tell you about what I believe. Then you tell me if you think it's evil." So, he shared what he believed and the practices he followed. Although it wasn't what I believed or did, it didn't sound evil to me. "Some people call me a Wiccan or a Witch," he said. "You'll have to make up your own mind if that's evil."
I was really mixed up. What he said sounded fine, but I had learned about the evils of Paganism and the occult. He gave me some books to read about Wicca and the religion of the Ibo. What I read sounded okay to me, but my upbringing kept me from adopting. I was, and am, a Christian.
Curiously, these books on Witchcraft and the Ibo also described some things about mysticism and spirituality that were related to Christianity. This surprised me, as I had never heard anything about this stuff. I started to study it, and a year ago, on the day I graduated from high school, I vowed to myself that I would become a Christian Ceremonial Magician.
My mother doesn't make a lot of money and I only have a part-time job while I attend City College. That means I don't have a lot of free time, but I am still working on my magical studies. But it's slow, and I don't have anyone to work with or help me, so I'm stuck working exclusively through books.
One of the things I read about is keeping a magical diary. I've been keeping one since I took my personal vow. Below is a summary of certain aspects of several months worth of diary entries. I've added some references to help people follow along.
I started doing the Four Adorations, which are related to the movement of the Sun. However, I didn't like all of the references to Egyptian gods, so I changed them to Jesus at sunrise (being born again), Jehovah at noon, Jesus again at sunset (He "dies" so He can be born again at sunrise), and the Holy Spirit at midnight.
I was able to use the Lesser Banishing Ritual with no changes. It only took me a week to memorize it, but it took me a month to be able to really do it. I practiced it morning and night. For a time I did a Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram ritual in the morning and the Banishing at night, but I didn't notice any difference in my life, so I went back to just the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram morning and night.
By the end of four months of twice-daily practice, this ritual really sizzled. The pentagrams were bright blue, and when I did the ritual in a candlelit room, there would be a faint bluish glow everywhere. I felt stronger and for some reason, I would stand a bit taller.
There are some guys in the neighborhood, big guys, who are not good to mess with. Everybody walking down the street would give them a lot of room. Recently, they have started crossing the street to avoid being on the same sidewalk as me. I tried not doing the LBRP for a couple of weeks and they treated me like everyone else. Within two weeks after I started it again, they were going to the other side of the street when I walked by. It was proof enough for me that the ritual had something to do with it.
After six months or so doing the LBRP, I felt filled with power and energy. And that was the problem. Where do I go from here? What do I do with it? After looking at a couple of web sites, it seemed like the next thing I should learn was the Middle Pillar Ritual. From the instructions I found on the Internet, it seemed easy, but I didn't feel like anything was happening. So I went to the bookstore and got a copy of the book, The Middle Pillar by Israel Regardie.
I was surprised to see an entire three hundred-page book dedicated to one ritual. As I went through the book, I discovered that it is actually two books. New in this edition is a book by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero called The Balance Between Mind and Magic. This makes sense, because much of Regardie's original book focused on psychology. The Cicero's also added lots of notes for each of the chapters in Regardie's original text, so this edition is probably the best.
The key to this book is the order of basic magical ritual given on page 40:
It is my hope that this book will enable me to do the final three steps as I already do steps one and two.
Regardie writes (p. 69) that it his "confirmed belief that several weeks at the very least of patient application to the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram should precede any effort to perform the Middle Pillar. For one thing, it will have trained the student in several little tricks of routine and magical techniques quite apart from the intrinsic virtues of the exercise, which is to purify and cleanse the entire sphere of personality to the end that the higher self may manifest through a purified body and mind. If the exercise has been labored at for two or three months, performing it two or three times during the course of each day, the student will approach the further stages of magic well-prepared, quite able to cope with and accommodate the increased vitality and power which will pour through him."
Although I had already been doing this ritual for several months, I rededicated myself to it and started doing it three times a day. I was excited to read (p. 70) Regardie's opinion that, "the exercise described as the Middle Pillar is the groundwork of all actual developmental work. It is a process that is the basis of magic. That this has been but seldom realized is obviously at the root of the futile attempts to do ceremonial and perform ritual, of which the general public hears every now and again. Even students of magic of many years standing have been guilty of negligence in this respect, and also in failing to recommend it to their successors."
As I understand it, the basics of this ritual are simple. It works with the famous Qabalistic diagram known as the Tree of Life. The thing is, the Tree of Life is not just a picture, it also really exists within our auras. By energizing the central column of the Tree of Life (which equates, in part, with the spine), we can bring a tremendous influx of balanced energy into ourselves. This we can use to energize all parts of our being (the "circumambulation" he described, although the Ciceros, in a footnote, say it would be more correct to call it the "circulation" of energy [p. 46]) as well as direct it outside of us (do magic).
And that's what most of The Middle Pillar is all about. The actual ritual itself is fully described on pages 72–73. For my use, I have listed the instructions from the book in a numeric format:
"This very briefly is the technique. Little can be said which the zealous student will not be able to discover through application to it. If the student spends about five minutes in the contemplation of each Sephira on the middle column, the exercise will take approximately twenty-five minutes to half an hour. And surely there is no one so busy today who cannot devote at least one half hour a day to the task of self-mastery, to the cultivation of spiritual insight, and in the quest of his [or her] own divine nature."
From what I've seen on the Internet, many people think that this is the end of it. But in chapter five of The Middle Pillar, Regardie goes on to discuss doing something with the energy you have raised and placed into the power centers associated with the spine/Middle Pillar. Regardie writes on page 86:
"Having been awakened from latency into some degree of activity, it is necessary that the power that the centers generate should be circulated through the invisible or psychic system. Failure to do this is, in my estimation, one of the most potent sources of nervous trouble and disturbance experienced by dabblers in occultism, who have experimented with various amateur or incompletely delineated methods of awakening the psychic centers. The energy thus awakened streams back and forth from the center. But unless some method is devised for distributing it and thus relieving the pressure, the center itself will in the course of time suffer derangement through over stimulus, and there is bound to ensue some serious disturbance to the nervous and psychic system...
"With every one of the five centers active and throwing power into the mind and body, and there is a clear awareness of an actual column extending interiorly from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, an entirely different technique must now be pursued." Following are my interpretation of the instructions:
I have been practicing these techniques completely, now, for a couple of months. The results have been, to say the least, quite phenomenal.
I feel the energy growing and surging around me. Sometimes, the room seems to glow with a faint, bluish color. When it is going really strongly, my head sometimes feels like it might explode with all of the energy. When I finish, my body feels like it is tingling or shivering. This sometimes lasts for hours.