Having just passed the 12 month anniversary of The Heretic’s Journey being published, I thought I would share part of the Foreward with you all as a blog post. Also, one of the many magical exercises that are peppered throughout the book – enjoy! Steve Dee
“This is a book that seeks to provoke you to heresy! The territory I invite you to explore is that of the spiritual free thinker who is no longer satisfied with the easy answer. The literal definition of Heretic is “to choose” i.e. to make a conscious and active choice rather than merely accepting an opinion due to it being espoused by the mainstream or by those in authority. To walk such a path is far from risk-free, but in my view the rewards of such self-sovereignty are powerful and profound. It is my hope that this work (The Heretic’s Journey) will act as a catalyst for your own exploration of your heretic self, and in that exploration you will experience the unfolding of who you truly are.
Such an unfolding can take time. The magical axiom “To Dare, To know, To Will and To Keep Silent” for me points to a circular process of refinement where the daring Mage receives new insight, which when proven through practice is internalized (kept silent) so that this incubation then gives birth to further development/mutation.
This internal alchemy can birth things within us that at first seem monstrous. As our freethinking allows us to conceptualize and articulate ideas beyond the realms of orthodoxy, so we will be viewed as Monsters. Witches, Werewolves, Vampires and an assortment of other freak-labels were at times applied to those who questioned the limits of what we thought we knew.
While the mundane world may conspire to keep us small and within a form that makes its control of us more possible, as explorers of awakening we have a more formidable task ahead of us. Our own initial response may be to flinch when we see the possibility of who our deepest self might become; these glimpses at the edges of sight may demand too much of us; too much sacrifice, too great a transformation. Dear traveller, be of stout heart! The inner genius of your daemon doesn’t require that we reach the goal before the journey has begun; rather it asks of us the bravery to stop and truly look at the possibility of who we might be…”
Exercise 1: Sculpting the Heretic’s Altar
One of the techniques that I employ during my day-job (as a Systemic/Family psychotherapist) is that of the Sculpt. Sculpting is a tool for making an external picture, or ‘sculpt’, of an internal process such as feelings, experiences, or perceptions. It can use both items and bodily postures as ways of experimenting with the relationships between things and how their proximity or orientation might express the dynamics of communication and power.
In this activity I am proposing that we create an altar as a means for exploring the interplay between different aspects of our heretical selves. So often religious or spiritual altars express something of our aspirations and longings, and it is interesting to note the changes we make to them (or the time we spend in front of them) depending on which guiding principles or realities we wish to experience more of.
The first part of our task is to collect a series of objects, pictures and texts that embody those heretical, rebellious and inspirational figures and ideas that mark us as outsiders and inspire our processes of free thought. At this point it is important that we don’t over-think this process.
We may draw our inspiration from a broad spectrum or it may reflect the narrowness of our current obsessions. In my case I had everything from an icon of St Francis, a Gurdjieff book, a leather-clad Catwoman figurine and a Henry Rollins CD. I made little attempt to rationalise why I needed this collection of heretic heroes together, I was simply aware that they embodied important markers in my own journey of personal liberation.
As a person with strong devotional tendencies, I then spent some time offering incense to the assembled representation of free-thinking and undertook my normal meditative practice. This felt less like an act of worship and more a process of acknowledging and aligning myself with these embodiments of freedom.
If you choose to undertake this task, I would recommend an initial period of simply sitting with the choices that you have made. Maybe note their presence and position within a journal or magical diary so that any future changes can be noticed.
Working with sculpts can be accomplished in many ways, and it may be interesting to note how this altar-sculpt evolves over time. You may want to shift the objects to change their proximity to each other (interestingly, Cat Woman currently seems to be whipping St Francis; but it looks consensual) or we may want to introduce new elements to either maximize a component or to provide a sensed need for counter-balance (in my case a black feather representing Ma’at).
However you choose to work with this exercise, as with most sculpts, the aim is to externalise those key aspects of who we are so that in seeing them “out there”, we can gain a greater sense of clarity having brought them more fully into the conscious parts of self. The purpose of beginning such work is usually far more beneficial if we view it as an unfolding process of questioning and exploration for ourselves rather than attempting to rush towards answers prematurely.
More about The Heretic’s Journey can be found here: https://theblogofbaphomet.com/the-heretics-journey/
In other news…
Julian is teaching Sigils at Treadwell’s Books in July and Magical Words and Signs at The Museum of Witchcraft in August
Our dear friend Lucia is offering a Tai Chi retreat in the magical Hazel Hill Wood near Salisbury. Lucia is an awesome practitioner and a great teacher. Find out more here.
What you describe is the method of the artist. Encouraging creativity, I don’t know much about it but it’s also very much what I understand as chaos magic, not being put off by incongruity and going with the groove of ones heart. Becoming a sorcerer is becoming an artist,
So I think it’s a very good idea.
I love this article. I suspect that many, like me, have gathered some precious objects over the years and left them on the altar, glowing faintly beneath a veil of dusty neglect. Reached across for the incense, moved aside when a candle is lit, they gradually lose connection, or is it me? Today a buzzard gifted me a feather in the woods. Graceful enabler of flight: brown-tipped, crisp cream edge punctuated with reckless caramel swirls – it becomes the centre of my altar – recreated today for the summer buzz, the fall into gold that enables a glimpse through the lens – towards a long dark night, and a warm body waiting under the covers. First I must sweep away the heap of whitethorn flowers, an old dread threaded through a hag stone, an inexplicable SD card and a small heap of Sitka cones…