The Heart of the Matter: a Magical Response to COVID-19

As many of us are now showing our solidarity by being on retreat I’d like to make a suggestion for some shared magical work to address the coronavirus pandemic.

This working was initially suggested by a member of the Illuminates of Thanateros and I’d like to thank that Brother for starting the process.

Many people will be already be doing magical work in many different ways and what I’m suggesting here allows for that diversity. We needs lots of approaches to address this crisis, in multiplicity there is strength.

To help link our magical work together this is the suggested sigil which has been named ‘Hearty’ for all the obvious reasons:

The sigil can be used as a focal point for various types of magical action including:

Sending vibes of solidarity, care, admiration and positive power to all those in the caring professions, teachers, medical staff and the many others who are at the front line in this pandemic.

Conjuring for breakthroughs in medicine, treatment, the discovery of a vaccine and other technologies and approaches to reduce suffering and support healing.

Sending spells to directly affect the virus to reduce its rate of transmission and severity.

Doing some classic shamanistic or trance work to enter the imaginal world and battle the virus.

Calling into manifestation those timelines in which our species respond to this challenge in ways that support better ways of living together on the planet and with all our relations (both human and non-human).

There are many other ways you could choose to work with the sigil. Your practice could be as simple as creating your own image of Hearty or bringing it up on screen and making prayers of gratitude and asking whatever spirits you work with for their help.

You could try some Tonglen practice using Hearty as the gateway image, breathing in the suffering of those affected by the virus and breathing out the alleviation of suffering through the symbol. (Only recommended for experienced practitioners who are in a good mental state.)

You could also use Hearty as a visual focus while speaking aloud to yourself or a friend (including over audio/video channels) and together create a ‘future nostalgia’. “Do you remember how it was that COVID-19, for all the sadness it brought, finally helped us come together as one people to address climate change and wealth inequality? Do you remember how we found a really effective and simple antidote to the virus and how wonderful the celebrations were when we emerged from our retreats? etc”.

An additional resource that you might want to include in this work is this soundtrack generated from the genome of the virus.

Here’s an example of a practice with Hearty, developed by a magical friend who is working in an intensive care unit, nursing people with the coronavirus:

Breathing with Good Heart

A breathing exercise/ritual. Can be used alone as a meditation or prayer using the sigil, or as part of a larger piece of ritual work. At a time when we face a respiratory disease, this focuses on breath as a tool to share collective prayer and ritual. Use the sigil, either printed or drawn in front of you, or in your mind. Imagine the sigil as a compass and use four cardinal points for each breath. You could draw the sigil on the floor and stand in it as your magical circle, turning to each direction as you perform the ritual.

Come to a still, centred state of awareness.

Place one hand to my chest, the other outstretched

“For my kin, for my kind, I will offer 5 breaths.”

In the East, breathe in deeply and say

“Inspiration – the breath of life that is Air

A consciousness higher, let us meet there.”

Bring attention to the element of Air.

In the South, breathe deeply and say:

“A breath for the flames that bring action and light

For passion for love, rise after the night.”

Bring attention to the element of Fire.

In the West, breathe deeply and say:

“A breath for the Water that cleanses and flows

For the tears, for the dreams, for the depths unknown.”

Bring attention to the element of Water.

In the North, breathe deeply and say:

“Inhale now and root deeply into the Earth

For the here, for the now, for the death and rebirth.”

Bring attention to the element of Earth.

Facing upwards.

“A breath for the Spirit that binds us as one

For unity, for truth, now the circle is spun.”

Take a final moment to allow your intention to pass into all those people, situations and objects that will help us in this time. 

***

Obviously whatever magical work you do this needs to be combined with physical care for ourselves and others in our community.

We’re already seeing many heartening examples of community solidarity. A friend in Barcelona tells me that at 8pm each evening people come onto their balconies to clap and cheer in support of their medical staff. Let us, as Witches, Magicians, Shamans, Druids, Thelemites and others, create a global circle of power at this time of crisis and transformation. Let us be of good heart and breathe life into this magic!

Blessings on our Great Work and Happy Equinox!

Julian Vayne

Big Creation, Small Creation: Explorations in Chaos Mysticism (Part 1)

Candles and incense are were lit and the wood burner was fed. We were few in number but in the stillness between All Souls and Solstice, we had come seeking “the still point of the turning world.”

Vowel sounds are intoned as Gnostic pentagrams are vibrated through the body and before we journey through drumming and sitting practice, our declaration is made:

Zen-Gnostic Poem

(Ring Bell 8 times)

“We begin in Silence and Space

The realm of vast consciousness

The marriage of Darkness and Light.

In the pregnant space of reflection

Wisdom is born

Glowing deep blue against the blackness

Silver Star points grow

As the holy Aeon spins her web of connection.

Wisdom makes manifest

An outflowing of the multiple and the complex

The Craftsman makes the World:

Baphomet-Abraxas, liminal world dancer

Changing, growing and creating.

We come to listen and to remember our original face,

We come as heroes of practice

Who sit like mountains together!”

cosmic

For the magician-mystic, the stories of creation on the grandest scale are also stories of self. Diverse cultures over millennia have grappled with both imagining the process of cosmic becoming and also in understanding individual experiences of consciousness upon that stage. These are parallel processes that mirror each other at the deepest level and the beliefs we hold about our significance and structure are often projected upon the big screen of our creation stories.

These stories may attempt to place us in relation to a supreme deity or they may hold positions (as with many Buddhist schools) where speculation regarding our metaphysical origins is kept to a minimum. For me what often feels different for the magician is that rather than viewing ourselves as passive spectators of a completed process, we are active agents upon a stage on which our own self-creation is a vital chapter. While this potentially risks megalomania, most of us chose to walk this knife-edge rather than feeling overwhelmed by powerlessness.

In my view the postmodern insights of Chaos Magic have something valuable to offer to this process. While many Chaos magicians may embrace world views that emphasize the uncovering of the essential Self/Buddha-mind, the dynamic fluidity of the Chaotic approach also allows for the active creation of self.

star

As I re-read my Zen-Gnostic creation poem, I am struck by its fragmentary beauty and partial truths: a cut-up formed from moments of inspiration and hard-won life lessons. This is a custom job, slowly stitched together and arguably unique. The orthodox will decry its hotchpotch constructionism, but these monstrous forms contain their own potency in being born from an honest encounter with dread and comic awe.

The Magician is engaged is an on-going and arguably endless process of zooming out (the Big, the Cosmic) and then in; in the pursuit of self. When I apply this method to the alchemy of self-transformation, perhaps I can learn to accept the complexity of who I am and that I am very much a work in progress. Effort and analysis remain essential, but it is also good to question what the fuck I think perfectionism means and whether I can relinquish the relentless conveyor-belt of self-improvement tasks?

In thinking about what helps with this opening-out, here’s a few ideas that I am currently exploring:

  1. A Mystic of the Self:

While we might initially balk at the idea of the place of Mysticism within magical traditions with a more Left-Hand Path/antinomian  perspective (mysticism being far too fuzzy and imprecise), I find potential value in the way in which it might grapple with the expansive boundaries of self that we experience in our psyche-centric exploration. Of course each of us will have favored models of the self that provide helpful maps for reducing the likelihood of confusion and feeling lost, but even these have their limits when we are faced with mystery and the limits of the known.

My own commitment to this work has been about a desire to make self-awakening the center of my work while retaining a willingness to loosen my old certainties about what I think that is. Life and initiation may well require periods of focused crystallization in which consistency, boundaries and being “of a single-eye” are required, but if we resist refinement and alchemical dissolution, we may carrying around the corpse of yesterday’s self. I’m ever thoughtful of Odin’s experience on the world-tree and what it might mean to “sacrifice self to self” (Havamal 138). If we are able to retain our sense of exploration, what might we discover as we take up the Runes (mysteries) and seek to explore the fragmentary mysteries of our self and the world around us?

  1. Connected Independence:

Most of us are familiar with the archetypal antinomian lone wolf who makes great claims to godhood and yet is all too clearly lost in a labyrinth of their own solipsism. Our initiation requires the challenge and insight of others who have walked the path before us. While we need to bring the sharp-edge of consciousness to our own motivation for seeking connections, we also need to be authentic in acknowledging the counter cultural value of “finding the others” who support and inspire out efforts toward greater becoming.

  1. The Ability to Play:

While the early stages of individuation may necessitate a rejection of the spiritual perspectives of family or culture, most of us go on to a more mature position of “return” to original ideas or images that we may have dismissed during our rebellious fervor. Such a position reflects a certain lightness of touch and an ability to engage with something while still questioning it. For me this feels like a shift in which we move away from cynically dismissing something and towards a position of being able to play with ideas and concepts in a way that both values them but allows some distance and even irreverence.

While determination and dogged focus are undoubtedly essential in making progress as a Magician, how do we also ensure that we feel free enough to experiment, to play and to make mistakes in that process? Whether we are experimenting with new magical techniques, body-focused practices or mythical framework for exploring awakening, I believe that we benefit when we give ourselves and others permission to adopt a position of Shoshin or “beginner’s mind”.

“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

Burnt Norton, The Four Quartets, T S Eliot

Steve Dee