Initiation

“There is something sacred to common apprehension in the repose of the dead. They seem placed beyond our power to disturb. “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave”… Their remains moulder in the earth. Neither form nor feature is long continued to them. We shrink from their touch, and their sight. To violate the sepulchre therefore for the purpose of unholy spells and operations, as we read of in the annals of witchcraft, cannot fail to be exceedingly shocking. To call up the spirits of the departed, after they have fulfilled the task of life, and are consigned to their final sleep, is sacrilegious.” – Godwin, Lives of the Necromancers.

Two years ago I stepped through the gates of Lakeview on a cold November morning, much like this one, to pay my respects to the departed and to share a cigar and some brandy with one of the founders of my city. Snow was on the ground and I carefully knocked on the grave thrice, sang his name, recited the Pater Noster, Ave and Gloria and lit a cigar and poured brandy on the frozen earth causing the snow to melt in a cruciform shape.

I didn’t know what to expect then, but on my way out of the cemetery I found a twenty dollar bill on the ground, a sign I suppose that the old man heard my request for riches but beyond that, nothing spectral or noticeable. This time would be different.

INITIATION:

One’s introduction to the Dead so as to receive insight and acquire their services.

Thus, may one become a sorcerer. [1]

At the time of this writing, I’ve been involved in the pursuit of wisdom through the medium of occultism for about fifteen years, give or take, and have been fortunate to know many talented adepts and fellow students through the years in many traditions and disciplines. My own practice to this point could be said to be highly syncretistic yet difficult to put into words. I suppose my allergy to titles is probably to blame for this and probably one of the reasons I’ve found it difficult to put into words exactly what it is that I do.

There are many reasons people step onto the path of magic and the lives of the magicians I know are varied and fantastic. I know, for me, it was largely my inexhaustible curiosity that got me started on my path but now that seems to have changed – at least somewhat. For now, my motivation is to live out a narrative that will leave a story for others to follow or, as the twentieth century mythologist Joseph Campbell would say, to “live out my myth.”

In Scandinavian lore, the Wise Ones lived on the edges of social acceptability. They participated equally in village life as well as in the open desolate places haunted by spirits. Things haven’t changed much. Even though I’m very much removed from my rural origins and live in a large metropolitan city, the division between city life and open desolation at the start of the 21st century is much more liminal than one would presuppose and being queer as well as a magician in an age of disenchantment definitely puts me at odds with any kind of social acceptability.

Similarly, in an age when casual agnosticism seems to be the status quo, I refuse to succumb to the banality of prescribed religion or irreligion. Like the Wise Ones, I acknowledge the ecclesiastical year as well as older pantheons which allow me to communicate with the demons of the infernal hierarchies, gods of religions long since abandoned, and the spirits of the land which came before me and will survive long after.

As I walk past the gates, I leave a penny for the keeper of the cemetery, the Kyrkogrim, who in other times would have been connected to the church of a particular graveyard but nowadays in the New World seems to find himself equally at home at the oldest grave in our modern cemeteries. I wait for a moment to receive some indication that I may pass and watch the crucifix of my rosary for any motion. I’m allowed through and make my way along the winding avenues to the grave I visited a year earlier.

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I begin and kneel at the tombstone, crossing myself.

“Your sight shall be in my sight, in whose name you rest here… could you, O Holy Ghost give to me of your power, in the name of the Holy Crucified One. Amen.”[2]

Though my eyes were closed, I saw an intense blinding light perhaps like that that fell upon the apostles at Pentecost or maybe like that seen by the dying as they transition from this world to the next. The work done, I see the faint outlines of human forms above their graves, like mist rising from the streets after a summer’s rain. The matter of the rite followed by the confirmation through the form of the ritual complete, I now step into a new mythic world, that of de kloka or Wise Ones.

I hesitate in any real way to refer to myself as particularly “wise”, but for the time being this is the reality that I have embraced and will share with you my experiences as time allows.

henry-and-sarah-yesler-s-gravesite-at-lake-view-cemetery-on

[1] Johnson, Tom. The Graveyard Wanderers. Society of Esoteric Endeavour, 2013

[2] Ibid.

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