There's something sinister in summer's voluptuousness. The prolific writer Thomas de Quincey, pioneering political economist and author of Confessions of an English Opium Addict said that summer was the saddest time of year. I forget exactly why he sad it was the saddest time of year, but I think it had something to do with his young sister dying of encephalitis (brain inflammation) in August. Oh, also and that the very ripeness of summer whispers cruelly of the decay-soon-to-come.
(image from Conjure in the City)
I'm feeling that summer-sinister vibe these days. It's saturating everything in my awareness. There's something primeval about the vegetation of Pittsburgh in late June. I know you don't usually think of "jungle" when you think of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but believe me - that's what it feels like amidst the giant overgrown grasses and weeds and gardens of my neighborhood. All the leaves are humongous, flat, green, enflamed.
Soaking in all this hot darkness, I've been thinking a lot about sorcery. I've been much enjoying Jason Miller's works, The Sorceror's Secrets and Financial Sorcery. In fact, I have to give giant props to Mr. Miller because the Jupiter glyphs he provided in Financial Sorcery for the conjuring of specific sums of money indeed led me to manifest exactly the sum I aimed for this month - $5000, which is rather miraculous in my view. Oh, and mad props to Jupiter himself, yo.
Jason Miller has training in both the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana and in the American HooDoo tradition. I know a good deal about Vajryana, but lamentably much less about American HooDoo. I've been delighted to learn more about it, though. The best resource I've found has been Catherine Yyronwode of Lucky Mojo Curio company. Catherine not only supplies the world's HooDoo doctors with necessary items like rabbit's feet and lodestones and Van Van Oil and Hot Foot Powder, she also has written extensively about HooDoo traditions and freely shares her knowledge on the interwebs.
(Conjure oils from Lucky Mojo Co.)
HooDoo, with its emphasis on achieving practical outcomes like cash in the bank and lover's faithfulness is really winning my heart. I also enjoy the way that Miller and other HooDoo workers take a rather literalist view of magical ritual - which is that specific ingredients (herbs, lodestones, inks, powders, oils, semen, menstrual blood), times (astrologically), colors (for candles, cloths), sigils, etc. absolutely do *count* and are not just dispensable nonsense.
The notion that ritual elements *are* dispensable is a popular one amongst chaos magicians and magicians like Alan Chapman (who I much enjoy and admire). Chapman, for example, offers that magic is "the art of experiencing truth" and that the art can be done with whatever materials are on hand, simply through a matter of decision. For example, in Chapman's theory, I don't have to draw a specific Jupiter glyph for manifestation purposes. I could draw any old little sketch that I wanted to draw and decide that that sketch means "I will receive $5000" and it will work.
I'm mostly inclined to agree with Chapman about that, but then I've also just had the experience of my random money-drawing sigils not working at all, while the specific Jupiter glyphs that Jason Miller supplied actually worked "like a charm." Which is to say, they worked like themselves, because they are - in fact - charms.
So with this success under my belt, obviously my interest in straight-up sorcery increased. I recently saw a Facebook friend of mine mention a character known as the Sorceress Cagliastro. Curiosity piqued, I decided to look this lady up.
Turns out that the Sorceress Cagliastro is one of the most straight-up freaky characters I ever heard of. She used to be a professional embalmer, and now she's a professional blood sorceror - people pay her to cast spells - usually curses - against other people.
Cagliastro's book, The Blood Sorcery Bible Vol. 1, ranks as one of the creepiest and most compelling books I've ever read. It turns out that Cagliastro doesn't believe in dealing with deities or divinities at all - she believes in only what she directly experiences - ghosts ("the disincarnate" as she politely calls them) and demons. She has an interesting theory about how the iron in human blood causes it to be magnetic - and that its magnetic properties have something to do with its magical value.
The Sorceress Cagliastro sees herself as much more of a scientist than a spiritualist in many regards - and regards sorcery as a path of practical results above all else. She writes in a flamboyantly commanding and somewhat paranoid tone, speaking with Nietzschean and Machiavellian intensity about the importance of selfishness and the triumph of one's own will. She's kind of like a really witchy Ayn Rand.
Cagliastro takes the general HooDoo / sorcery notion of the importance of specific ingredients to a literalist extreme - she believes that blood (she calls it "the Sacred Elixir") just works, period, to achieve magical ends. She doesn't mess with herbs or roots or stones or woods. Just blood, straight up human blood, all blood, all the time. Which is a kind of intense dogma that actually gives me more appreciation for the subtlety, variety, and poetic logic of the ingredients called for by HooDoo spells.
(An image of Sorceress Cagliastro)
For a little while I was curious to try some of Cagliastro's spells (she prefers to call them "sorcery events" which is catchy and does sound more serious, I admit) but the whole drawing-ones-own-blood thing is a bit messy and painful *and* apparently half the point of it is to use the blood as bait to attract the disincarnate, whom Cagliastro is very intimate with.
Cagliastro writes about having an "Eternal Portal" open to ghosts at all times, so they're constantly coming into her house and her bedroom and whining to her and wanting her to solve their problems, which she does. That's very generous of her, of course, but it's not really anything I'm looking to get involved with. She also has 9 protector demons (she refers to herself as "Sorceress Cagliastro in the hands of the 9") which is also a crowd I'd rather not mingle with.
In conclusion, while I'll be staying away from dabbling with blood sorcery, I have been opening up my magical mind deeper and deeper to the possibilities of conjure, and that feels appropriate and good in this swelter.