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”.
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.
“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!
In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus and buy valuable time for our medical services (see my previous article) people are doing ‘social distancing’. This means, for some of us, adopting the ‘namaste’ greeting of hands in prayer, rather than shaking hands. Even Donald Trump seems to have picked up the vibe. It’s lovely to see such behavioural flexibility and support for cultural diversity from the President of the USA. Well done.
Meanwhile there may be times when we are ‘self isolating’ or as I prefer to describe it ‘going on retreat’. Here are a few things for you do while on retreat to help ensure you have a magical time.
The Invocation of Hygieia. It’s common practice before beginning any magical or devotional ceremony to clear the working space and prepare the temple. Your home is your temple so the first process for your retreat could be to undertake a banishing ritual. Tidy up! Double bag any things you don’t need and, mindful of contamination, give them away or set them aside to share with others later. Clean your space. Let the light and the fresh air in, put on some energizing music (like some of the tunes on my COVID-19 Pandemic Party Playlist) and get to work! If you’ve got a home altar space this is the time to cleanse that too. Once you’ve done the washing up go a stage deeper and do a spot of cleaning that you rarely get round to (that oven could do with some attention…). Really honour the goddesses Hygieia and Hestia in your work. Once that’s done perform your favourite cleaning/banishing/creating sacred space practice. By analogy, tidying our bedroom (as a species) is what we have to do now. We’ve made something of mess of the biosphere so perhaps, when this pandemic is over, we can seriously set out to address the issues of climate change and the sixth mass extinction.
Do some meditation. Whatever style(s) you favour this is a time to go deeper into your practice. If you’ve never done meditation in a disciplined, regular way this is your opportunity to get serious. Start with some mindfulness meditation, maybe some object concentration. Explore the multiple resources online and give it a go. Doing meditation can also help you manage any fears you might have in this time of change. Meditation boosts our individual immune response and can enable us to be in a good cognitive state. This means we are more likely to make sound judgements (rather than decisions guided by fear) for the benefit of ourselves and those around us.
Do some bodywork. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, weights whatever. Keep your body moving and in shape. Again this is good for you and those around you. Try some freeform movement or dance such as Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms. If you have access to a green space get out and into the fresh air and sunlight. Do some breathing exercises. If you do contract the virus this is going to be where it hits. Stop smoking or change your method of delivery (use your vape).
Connect with others. Hopefully the internet will stay on; assuming it does, use it to reach out to your community. For the benefit of your own immune system and the sanity of others try to be kind and considered in your interactions. Don’t feed the fears or the trolls but use this opportunity to find the others. Encourage and support the real life humans on the other end of the keyboard. Phone your friends. Where possible see if you can interact directly with folk around you in safe and mutually beneficial ways, like those people holding block parties in Italy. If you’re following an online course of study this could be a great time to focus on your learning.
Make prayers of gratitude. Thank your gods, spirits or simply providence that you got sufficient food, water, community and shelter (if you are fortunate enough to have these things). Pray to the Great Spirit, however you conceive that to be. Even if you prefer to regard this process as a neat neuro-hack to improve your immune system give it a go. Verbalizing prayers aloud helps since we get neurological feedback, via our environment, when we speak to ourselves. That’s why repeating the name of the thing you’re searching for helps find it. Or how by explaining your problem to the dude on the IT helpdesk you can see what…oh yeah, OK I see what’s wrong…
Plant something. Think about the future. Invest time in growing a seed. A tree to set free when your retreat is over, flowers for the garden. Food plants, even just a little salad in a window box. Watch as the spring comes and new life returns to the world.
Read an inspirational book. Whether you choose get to grips with a new text, or one you’ve been putting off because of lack of time, retreat is the perfect time for reading. Read lots and catch up with that pile by your bed of half-glanced at texts (ahem… well perhaps that’s just me?). Here are two recommendations. The first is the captivating story of LSD chemists The Rose of Paracelsusby William Leonard Pickard. This exquisite book was written in cell where Pickard still dwells 20 years after being busted for allegedly making planetary scale batches of acid. Much of the book follows the work of clandestine chemists, themselves cloistered in remote laboratory sites. Same same but different as they say in the East, the second is Cave in the Snow. This is the tale of Tenzin Palmo, an Englishwoman who, following her Buddhist vocation, secluded herself in a remote cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where she stayed for 12 years between the ages of 33 and 45. Palmo became a spiritual leader and champion of the right of women to achieve spiritual enlightenment. A remarkable and beautifully written tale.
Make something. Create some art. Play with whatever resources you have to hand and allow yourself to explore without necessarily any predetermined goal in mind. Whether it is music, sculpture, baking or something else see what you can produce. If you’re able, learn a new skill (thanks internet). If you’ve always wanted to play guitar this could be your moment! Learn to knit. Consider what skills might be useful for you and your community and will impress your friends when you meet up again. You may be about to discover your aptitude for any any number of crafts and the joy in being a producer as well as a consumer.
Day dream. Spend some time, as the Romantic Poets John Keats would say, in diligent indolence. Now you’re out the thick of the capitalist rat-race take some time to loaf about. Just lie on the coach and stare out the window. Let your unconscious have time to unwind. Don’t mediate, listen to music or whatever. Just be in your own space and let the time drift by and allow your self to day-dream.
Have a psychedelic experience. If you lucky and have supplies then that’s all well and good but if not, there’s always connected breathwork. Connected or holotopic breathwork can be used to induce the psychedelic state in which novel connections are made in the brain and our content processing and connection finding systems get all fired up. Allowing for your skills in holding the psychedelic state it can be deployed for numerous purposes. To reboot the brain, potentially resolving blocks and trauma, and to give our minds a proper spring clean. I’ll take the liberty of recommending my book on psychedelic ceremony Getting Higher and David Lee’s definitive text on breathwork Life Force: Sensed energy in breathwork, psychedelia and chaos magic to get you started.
Do some ceremony. You could try adapting the six month retirement of the Abramelin grimoire to your situation or go for something quite different. A period of retreat is ideal for devotional work. You could perform daily puja to Ganesh to break down obstacles, to Shiva Lord of Creation and Destruction, or whatever spirits you groove with. This could be your chance to undertake a Chaos Monasticisms or follow the obligations of Resh. Alternatively, at the risk of annoying the neighbours, there could be plenty of time for a shamanic journey or nine… Your retreat would naturally be a perfect time for doing magic to aid the healing of our species, our relationships with each other, and with the biosphere as a whole.
Remember, if we want to slow this virus down the best attitude is to assume you already have it and therefore behave in ways that are less likely to pass it on. Don’t think of this as cowering in your rooms like the Prince Prospero in Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of The Red Death (read here by William Burroughs). Rather, this is an opportunity for us to stand together to support people like this Italian doctor in the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. Respect.
Make your retreat be full of rest and joy, of well being and of wonders.
P.S. As many of us are now on retreat in our homes I’m doing extra online one-to-one sessions of mentoring, tarot reading and other services. If you’d like to arrange a video call please let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of us like to think things will, generally speaking, continue as they are. Most of the time we assume, within certain limits, tomorrow will be much the same as today, much the same as yesterday. Sometimes we can sleepwalk our way into problems precisely because of this cognitive bias. Big life events can cut across our sense of normality; some of these can be planned for, others may take us by surprise. As I write these words one such surprise is happening, the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
The shockwaves from the events that followed the emergence of the virus in Wuhan, China are rippling out across our world. In addition to the infection itself in our hyperconnected digital age, along with the very real consequences of this new disease, there is the diverse online conversation, the reporting and conjecture. Inevitably some folk think the whole thing is a false flag plot, or perhaps an illness unleashed by 5G (one example of that kind of bonkers idea here if you can be bothered). Other commentators, apparently ignorant of the death toll, have suggested that COVID-19 is more-or-less identical to season ‘flu outbreaks and that the mainstream media are piling on the fear because that’s what sells and serves some imagined shadowy Deep State agenda. Yet however self-sovereign we might imagine ourselves to be in terms of our own health the spread a new epidemic disease is about much more than us as isolated, potentially over-opinionated individuals. COVID-19 is clearly a highly communicable disease that harms some of the most vulnerable people in our community and in this way no matter how young, hale and hearty we might believe we are, this epidemic invites us to reach beyond our self-sovereign (or self-absorbed) beliefs about the world.
The incursion into our lives of this virus isn’t convenient but such disruptions may help us come to terms with those disruptions yet to come; climate change and ecosystem collapse. They may teach us that individual and national sovereignty mean little in the face of collective and global challenges. The current last-ditch rallying of nationalism, of which Brexit and the elections of Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro are emblematic, is increasingly anachronistic. The emergence of a new global pandemic in a matter of weeks is enough to demonstrate this in stark terms.
For some people this new disease is the Pale horse of Revelation, pestilence unleashed because we are entering the apocalyptic Last Days. For others of a more pagan persuasion coronavirus, with its probably zoonotic origin, is a karmic consequence of the terrible treatment of the biosphere by our species. The commodification of non-human people manufactures a living hell for both wild and domesticated species. One example of this, though there are many others, is the trade in bile taken from live bears. (This is really horrible stuff so I’m not adding a direct link, look it up on Wikipedia if you want.)
The coronavirus is particularly notable in that it has impinged on the lives of some of the more affluent members of our community. Those enjoying their post-Christmas hols in northern Italy, those living their best retirement years aboard cruise ships, people who in all other respects are potentially somewhat insulated against the global crises of the sixth mass extinction and climate collapse. You may be a media-savvy international jet setter and networker but that actually makes you vulnerable. A fascinating phenomenon that has helped to rapidly raise the profile of this disease.
How the COVID-19 story plays out in the next few months remains to be seen. If it reaches the levels of the 1918 influenza epidemic (which I’m pretty sure was not a media fake, false-flag op or mobile phone induced cataclysm) we could be talking about many millions of people dead with all the trauma and sorrow that would follow such an event. It’s instructive to look at examples from history, including that of the Black Death, not out of some kind of ghoulish schadenfreude, but to realize the truth that such dramatic changes in the fortunes of our species can and do happen.
What can we do to help? Well there are many decisions to be taken and we would do well not to consider these not from the ‘how do I protect myself’ perspective but in terms of a wider sense of social concern and our intimate interconnection with each other. Don’t think ‘how can I avoid the virus?’ but rather ‘how can I avoid passing it on to others?’
There have been some great examples of this already in the form of autonomous groups springing up to support people at a local level. A family member spoke today about the youth of a Spanish community self-organizing to provide shopping for less able people in their village. (Picture a group of punks on bikes with face masks, learning how to arrange food deliveries to the elderly without risking contamination.)
I’m relieved that most of my family live in Britain where, for all its faults, our healthcare system is shared and collective. I’m worried for my friends in places with poor healthcare provision, notably the USA where the idea of universal healthcare seems to be imagined by some as tantamount to Stalinist repression. (Trump, with his extensive knowledge of epidemiology, imagines COVID-19 will go away in the summer. Those who know about the history of the 1918 pandemic may be less certain.)
While people are tapping away on their laptops about archonic forces, curtailment of civil liberties and the supposedly fake photographs of Chinese hospital wards, some real world stuff is going down. But if you still want a Deep State plot in your noosphere check out how governments that privilege the health of their populations are behaving in-comparison to more rapacious capitalist countries. Those are the states that are not restricting movement or conducing mass testing. Of course the conspiratorially minded see such things as fear-mongering state grabs for social control. Personally I see this in a more holistic way. A governmental system is made out of people, with all the banes and blessings that this brings. Those nations that have been capable of concerted collective action (like China and South Korea) are beginning to contain the virus. Meanwhile the intensely capitalist ‘liberal democracies’ are setting themselves up for some shocking events. Both the USA and UK look like they are intending to simply push on through, to get the epidemic over fast with all the causalities that will entail.
To speak in esoteric terms: The necessity to take collective action rubs up against the childlike ire of Horus. Crowley writes of the Aeon of Horus:
“Everywhere his government is taking root. Observe for yourselves the decay of the sense of sin, the growth of innocence and irresponsibility, the strange modifications of the reproductive instinct with a tendency to become bi-sexual or epicene, the childlike confidence in progress combined with a nightmare fear of catastrophe, against which we are yet half unwilling to take precautions. Consider the outcrop of dictatorships, only possible when moral growth is in its earliest stages, and the prevalence of infantile cults like Communism, Fascism, Pacifism, health crazes, occultism in nearly all its forms, religions sentimentalized to a point of practical extinction. Consider the popularity of the cinema, the wireless, the football pools and guessing competitions, all devices for soothing fractious infants, no seed of purpose in them. Consider sport, the babyish enthusiasms and rages which it excites, whole nations disturbed by disputes between boys. Consider war, the atrocities which occur daily and leave us unmoved and hardly worried. We are children.”
Perhaps COVID-19 is a lesson from the Maat current, with her symbol of the bee, and the need for community cohesion in order to survive as a compassionate community. The COVID-19 crisis invites us to imagine a magic in the Anthropocene where we step beyond the idea of doing our Will and into an approach which is for the benefit of All.
In terms of result magical work. Rather than conjuring that I and my friends don’t get sick it makes more sense, and in my experience is much more beneficial, to work magic to inspire successful medical research, and to attack other variables of probability concerning the progression and management of disease.
One approach to healing magic, which can be used globally as well as personally, is through the spirit Kawa Pohr developed by the Illuminates of Thanateros. Details of this occult tech were recently released by arch-mage Dave Lee and can be found on the IOT British Isles blog. As well as directing Kawa Pohr at specific individuals it can be installed in a location (as in the nightclub example given in the article) and also into a timeline or egregore in order to heal. This an intelligent spirit that works on individuals not simply by making them well but by creating the conditions in which wellness happens. This could include the discovery and availability of medicines, the identification of supportive complimentary therapies, a setting of a caring and supportive community and so on. Long term collective enchantments, such as the ones that the IOT led against HIV with Kawa Pohr may, in time, enable what previously would have been thought impossible, to come true.
I think it’s clearly time we should all be ‘social distancing’ and where possible ‘self-isolating’, or to put rather more positively, ‘going on retreat’. This is a retreat, not in some exotic setting or wilderness, but in our own domestic spaces. Going on retreat will help us, as a community, to flatten the curve, to prevent a situation like that unfolding in Italy and elsewhere where there are simply not enough medical staff and critical care beds to go round. If two or more weeks of retreat are an over-reaction to this situation then the worse that will have happened is that you’ll have had some time to mediate, catch up on your reading, do a spot of DIY, binge watch Netflix etc etc. You’ll emerge feeling rested and perhaps somewhat embarrassed. However if the projections from folk like the WHO and others are even vaguely correct then you’ll have helped reduce the spread of this potentially deadly disease.
Let’s consider some simple numbers to help us make our decisions, allow me to give you an example from my own setting. I live in a town of around 20,000 people in Devon, England. Let’s assume that 50% of people in my town get the virus (which is a conservative estimate) within a few weeks of each other. We’re lucky in that locally we have a hospital, however this is only for out-patients. Anyone needing admission must to go to the nearby larger town which has a hospital of 423 beds. However if 50% of people in my town get sick that means at the very least 6% will need hospitalization. That’s 600 people, and that’s just from my town. The population of the whole region served by this hospital is 164,253. As they say in America ‘do the math’. And of course people may need to be in hospital for other reasons than coronavirus. (A good analysis of the situation here, and see here for data on the global picture.) These numbers mean that, unless we, as individuals and governments, reduce the spread of the virus, there will need to be very extreme triaging. Older people, people with health issues, even just those of whatever age that are severely ill may be discounted from receiving limited and massively overstretched medical help.
For my part I’ve cancelled my forthcoming appearance at a conference abroad and potentially at other events next month too. Instead I’m going to be ‘social distancing’ and ‘going on retreat’ predominantly in my own house and garden. A domestic vision quest for meaning and collective healing in the space which I inhabit. I’ll have a chance to reflect on our situation and how it might enable us all to appreciate our intimate interconnection with each other and with the biosphere. Ironically if we all go on retreat for the next 2 to 4 weeks, by sticking apart we can demonstrate our global solidarity with each other in the face of this pandemic.
For the benefit of ourselves and all other beings.