A Working for Love: To bind or not to bind?

Oshun, the Orisha of Love who subdued even the powerful Oggun to her charms
As an iyalosha I have taken hard choices. One of them led me to lose a goddaghter, but there is no regret in my actions. She came to me from another house, claiming unhappiness and with stories of high derechos (fees) for ebbós (workings) and in general, she had grown appart from her godmother.

Godchildren are gifts life brings to you, gifts with strings of responsibility attached. The duty of an elder is to instill the concept of Iwá Pelé (good character). Iwá Pelé is built day to day with our thoughts, words and actions. I try to teach my godchildren to go to bed every night with a balanced score card of their own where they have done good for themselves, for others and harmed none.

All godchildren are different, and this one had her mind set on a man. The man in question was completely uninterested in her as a romantic partner, but she was obsessed. One day she told me about a friend who went to a babalawo in Miami who took pride in subduing anyone for the right amount of money. This babalawo supossedly had helped a male client to break a heterosexual marriage in order to sway the male partner for himself. I was disgusted at her implication.

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My Awakening to Ritual Magic

Easy access to grimoires like this jewel, The Grimorium Verum, by Jake Stratton-Kent was impossible to find when I started my path in Magic decades ago.
Ritual Magic has held a powerful allure for me for many years. I  have personally spent a great deal of time over the years researching, studying  and experimenting with this system of Magic. My first exposure to it was in stories and film, as well as books which covered the subject of occultism. From quite an early age the idea of the grimoire (or magical spell book) has fired my imagination. It was many years however before I actually got to read one. Just how did I get interested in this subject? 
My whole life I have been fascinated by esoteric topics. Some of my friendships when I was a teenager were based on such mutual interests and consisted of a continual discussion about esoteric spirituality. We were always reading some book about Native American practices, shamanism, spiritualism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other such subjects. While I was very eager to study the topic of Ritual Magic, it was quite difficult to come across any book that went into depth about the subject (this was back in the 1970’s). Books detailing methods of practice were virtually unobtainable where I lived. The inner core techniques were simply unavailable. What I could find were mainly books of affirmations and Positive Thinking. While useful, those techniques did not really lead to the results I was looking for. 
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Spirits in the Material World: An Everyday Affair for Practitioners of any Discipline

Basic bóveda set up
Call them what you will. There are lots of types of spirits and they are around us in our material world every single day. Their force is felt in our magical rituals, in our moments of solitude and meditation and sometimes, while we are surrounded by every day people.

Dealing with spirits is second nature to me. There is no longer a fear factor involved to conquer, and through the years the sense of awe has faded away. But I am not jaded or take their presence for granted. There are spirits that are malevolent and one must be truly careful in our dealings with them, but fear should not be part of the equation, only preparation and discipline. I am still in awe of the things they can help us accomplish, but I am not longer in awe because they exist.

Since I started the blog, I have received several emails and instant messages from people who know I am a Spiritist and want to integrate spiritist practices and technology into their own practices and rituals. I am all for that. Every person has guardian spirits. However, most are not aware of them and go about life rationalizing odd feelings and sensations. Have you ever felt hair standing on the nape or you neck when visiting a place or meeting someone and touching them for the first time? Have you felt a chill and goose bumps or even a dizzying sinking sensation in the pit of the stomach while visiting an old place or a nature spot? Well, that is more than likely because your body has reacted like an antenna to spiritual presences, but you were perhaps none the wiser.

So how do we turn on this antenna? How do we apply spiritist techniques and concepts to your own practice?

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Core Techniques of Ritual Magic

Mysticism and Magic are two sides of the same coin. However, many people wrongly assume that Magic is less spiritually elevated than Mysticism. As many adepts have pointed out in the past, the two paths of Mysticism and Magic tend to meet in the end. In other words, ritual techniques can be put to use not only for practical ends but also for the attainment of higher states of awareness (spiritual enlightenment). Certainly this was the goal of such systems as Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism among many others. Most of the world’s religions tend to have an esoteric or mystical component, for example Islam has Sufism and Judaism has the Kaballah. When you examine and compare these esoteric systems with one another, both the practices and the descriptions of the resulting mystical states that are evoked through these practices will be similar as well. These mystical systems will have as their core the same set of techniques that underlies Ritual Magic.
Ritual is a set of practices (a spiritual technology) that are universal and are designed to alter consciousness as well as manipulate events in some manner. I especially enjoy researching and experimenting with these techniques as well as comparing and contrasting them with the various practices found in other systems of magic throughout the world. Nearly all of the different magical systems found in various cultures draw upon and indeed are based upon contemplative techniques very similar to Raja Yoga,  a form of Yoga that focuses exclusively on the manipulation of mental states.
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On Ritual Magic

Illustration by Alex Grey

We live in a Magical universe. The Magic that drives the universe exists within us. We are magical beings, a link in a vast chain of Magic.  Magic as a practice is a set of techniques that when performed correctly allows us to access or tap into a source of power that can cause internal and external changes. Every culture in the world has some system or form of Magic. In many cultures Magic has been prohibited, marginalized or scorned. In many cases, individuals who practice magic have been persecuted, sometimes to the point of death. Magic therefore tends to exist as an underground movement or subculture.

The form of Magic that is indigenous to the West is Ritual Magic, which has it’s roots in ancient Mesopotamian forms of magic and spirituality. Ritual Magic hit it’s high point in the form of Hermeticism and Neo-Platonism around 100 to 500 Common Era, after which it went underground due to persecution by Church and government.  Historically, Magic has been divided into two general practices: Theurgy and Goetia. Roughly speaking, Theurgy is concerned with using ritual and magic as forms of mystical practice (inducing higher states of awareness). Goetia focuses on working with spirits and using material objects such as stones, herbs and such to bring about changes in the objective world.
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