What is Magic?

January 8, 2011

Excerpts from PLANETARY STRENGTH - by Bob Makransky

Filed under: Astrology Articles — admin @ 11:38 am

Planetary Strength

PLANETARY STRENGTH - A Commentary on Morinus 

published by Wessex Astrologer, February 2011 

(see below for price and ordering information)

Excerpt from Chapter Two:  Terrestrial State

“First: the four angular Houses (1, 10, 7, and 4) are inherently more powerful than the other Houses.” <Morinus Book 18, page 73>  “Next in strength to the Ascendant comes the Midheaven, then the Descendant, and finally the Imum Coeli.” <Morinus Book 18, page 74>  “The angular Houses take precedence [in strength] over the succedent ones, and these in turn over the cadent Houses.” <Morinus Book 18, page 76> 

The disposition of the planets with respect to the circle of the houses gives rise to the dignity of Terrestrial State, or propinquity to one of the four angles of the birth chart:  Ascendant (ASC), Midheaven (MC), Descendant (DESC) and Nadir (or Imum Coeli, IC).  Terrestrial state refers to the natives’ approach to social relationships.  A planet posited in an angular house (1st, 4th, 7th, 10th) tends to find social relationships stimulating; a planet posited in a succedent house (2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th) tends to find social relationships challenging; a planet posited in a cadent house (3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th) tends to find social relationships overwhelming.  Angular planets do not indicate favorable relationships (which is shown by being well-aspected) so much as an easy control of relationships – an ability (symbolized by the particular planet) to land on one’s feet and dominate the proceedings.  Cadent planets, by contrast, are more in thrall or in bondage to their social relationships – these planets bring a schooling in self-denial or renunciation.  Terrestrial strength – more than any other type of dignity – is a measure of adaptation to social conditioning.  Where celestial strength is inborn – a gleam in the eye – terrestrial strength refers to learned strategies of social dominance. Angularity is not merely a matter of social skill.  It also implies a certain take on everyday society – thoroughness, leaving nothing to chance or happenstance, enforcing one’s own will rather than just crossing one’s fingers and hoping for the best (as most people do).  Therein inures the real strength of an angular planet: taking complete responsibility for the proceedings.  In general, society trains people to shut up and obey blindly; to take as little initiative and personal responsibility as possible.  However, some people – at least in some areas of their lives (shown by their angular planets) – come to the realization that it’s all just a game; and that the game does have rules; and that those rules can be manipulated to advantage.  Often this knowledge is learned from rather singular parents, who tended to make or break the rules themselves.  This is perhaps why Gauquelin found that “children tended to have the same angular planets as their parents, especially if the latter’s were just past the Rising Point or MC.” (see Geoffrey Dean, Recent Advances in Natal Astrology, Astrological Association 1977, page 391) 

“Observe whether a planet is in the angular, succedent, or cadent houses; for planets in the angles indicate effects which are continuous – especially when also in the fixed signs … But in cadent houses and moveable signs the planets indicate things which are unstable; in the succedent houses the effects are intermediate.”  <Morinus Book 21, page 94>

            In any given area of life, most people are milling around aimlessly, waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and there’s a small minority of people giving all the orders.  These latter people are symbolized in astrology as those who have angular planets.  Actually, angular-planet people don’t know much more about what’s happening than anyone else, but they seem to:  they have a facility for projecting the impression that they know what they’re doing.  There’s a self-assurance and economy to their actions that induce other people to defer to them and cede them the lead.  

      Angularity symbolizes a sense of belonging, of being in the know, on the inside track.  Angular types are not unconventional, but rather are above convention.  They go through the motions of meeting – indeed, exceeding – social expectations; but they put very little importance upon appearances.  They are aware (as most people are not) that social conventions and expectations are wholly arbitrary and not to be taken too seriously.  Therefore, they are able to make social role-playing a joyous, fulfilling, fruitful activity, rather than an onerous or daunting enterprise (as it seems to cadent planet people). 

            Practically everyone is personally ambitious; what distinguishes angular types from the rest is their understanding that there is a science to life – a technology for getting what you want.  They don’t sit around waiting for their “lucky break” to drop down from heaven; nor do they just put in the time while slowly moving up the ranks.  They intuit that life is a game, with definite rules – definite steps and decisions that can be made to succeed in the game.  Where most people obey the rules, or more accurately, stumble around in the dark trying to figure out what the rules are, angular types make the rules.

Angular planets have an angle: they have a come-on, a spiel.  They are like used-car salesmen – in one way or another, they are selling themselves.  Angular planets show a technique of self-promotion (depending upon the particular planet).  Angular planets usually manage to land on their feet, and to dominate or capitalize on their situation.  Angular types possess a talent for self-promotion, not in an officious way, but with a definite noblesse oblige.  In contrast to the strength conferred upon planets by virtue of their being posited in their ruling or exaltation signs, angular planets exhibit little exuberance or effusiveness.  They possess a natural self-control which arises not so much from discipline as from a sense of ease, patience, and forbearance – a sense that life is at one’s service, so there is no need to be pushy or overreaching.  There is nothing blatant or indelicate about angular planets; their energy is not expended needlessly in demonstrativeness or attitudinizing, but is conserved, held back in reserve until needed.  All angular planets make for a hard, cold practicality – even the so-called “nice” planets (moon, Venus, Jupiter) are nice only because that is the easiest way to manipulate people and get one’s own way with them. 

            People with angular planets are the winners in life because they make that assumption – that they are winners.  And because it’s lonely at the top, angular planets also indicate a certain solitude and isolation.  If those with angular planets quite consciously manipulate people and make decisions for the group, they also understand the responsibility that this entails. 

            Angular planets give people that sense of easy self-assurance associated with being a member of the ruling class.  In earlier ages this meant membership in the aristocracy; in today’s meritocracy it shows the educated and upwardly mobile as well as those born in the upper classes of society.  People born in the upper classes have a winning attitude inculcated into them from birth (that they “belong”, that they are destined to rule), which is why angularity is associated with high social class and success in life.  The members of the upper classes were historically the people who were “bred” to lead and succeed.

            Of course, there are always wealthy and upper-class natives who have no angular planets.  These are the ones on whom this born-to-command-and-control-one’s-destiny attitude doesn’t stick or fit properly.  They turn it into an attitude of snobbery, or one that says that life owes them a living.  In other words, although exposed to the “angular” attitude by virtue of their upbringing, they fail to catch the meaning of what a natural sense of prowess, adequacy, and leadership actually entails.  They understand the superficial trappings of angularity (success) without grasping its essence (personal responsibility).

            By the same token, there have always been instances of people born in the lower social classes who by sheer gumption raised themselves up in life in spite of all handicaps.  The people with no angular planets who “make it” on their own in a big way don’t contradict the theory; all this means is that these people made it even without a native sense of fitness to command.  Perhaps they stumbled into the limelight; or maybe they did it through driving ambition, determination, and force of will.  In any case, this success will be found to have been accomplished as a freak of nature, or else as a tour de force, rather than as the end result of a natural process of unfoldment.  It means that these natives’ success in life was not the end result of a conscious sense of fitness but rather was the result of extraordinary talent, effort, or luck.  In other words, success can come in spite of an absence of angular planets, but in that case the native has to work harder, or hit the right combination of fortuitous circumstances, in order to get the same effect.

            It must also be noted that angularity shows nothing of the degree of success attained in life – whether the native set his or her sights high, or aimed for a comfortable niche; whether big success was attained with little pother, or at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering; indeed, whether success was actually attained, or whether the native went crashing down in flames.  This sort of information is shown by benefic / malefic angular planets, and by how well-aspected or afflicted they are.The angular houses are houses of action, whereas the cadent houses are houses of thought.  Angular planets do; whereas cadent planets hold back and watch rather than jump in and stir things up.  Thus, being cadent isn’t as bad a debility for mental planets such as Mercury and Jupiter as it is for active planets like the sun and Mars.  What is shown by terrestrial state is how the native interacts in social groups – as a leader or follower, and in what ways.  Angular planets are puppet masters, or Pied Pipers, who have everyone dancing to their tune.  In one fashion or another (shown by the particular planet) angular planets maintain the upper hand:  their POSITION is DOMINATING, whereas that of cadent planets is REACTIVE.  The particular planet involved indicates how the native interacts (e.g. in a Mercurial, Jovial, Saturnine fashion); and the particular angle involved indicates in what type of social group the native interacts in that fashion. 

            Angular planets symbolize strategies of control, and the four angles symbolize four different types of social relationships:  casual, face-to-face relationships (Ascendant); formal and group relationships (Midheaven); intimate relationships and partnerships (Descendant); and standing alone (Nadir).  Here we are only concerned with the dignity of angularity as a strength factor, not with what individual angles or planets conjunct the same mean in terms of personality factors, which will be discussed at the end of this chapter. 

            All of the angles symbolize strategies for controlling relationships.  What is shown is a deftness in handling people, getting one’s own way, getting other people’s acceptance on one’s own terms, bending other people to one’s own will; and these strategies are usually quite successful, which is why angularity is considered such a great strength.  Natives with angular planets detach themselves from other people rather than allow themselves to be dragged along by others’ caprices.  Angularity produces a sense of fearlessness – or at least an insusceptibility to the doubts and second thoughts which hamper most people.  Angular planet people need less validation and reassurance from others before they act.

            All four angles show strategies for capitalizing (imposing your own rules) upon relationships, and the four angles symbolize four different types of relationships:

            The Ascendant  (ASC) symbolizes casual relationships;

            The Descendant (DESC) symbolizes close relationships;

            The Midheaven (MC) symbolizes group relationships; and

            The Nadir (IC) symbolizes solitude.

That is, the Ascendant shows a way of facing people (of coming onto them); the Descendant shows a way of getting around, through, or past people;  the Midheaven shows a way of dominating or directing people; and the Nadir shows a way of standing alone. …

Keywords for Terrestrial State of Planets


Strengthens/ Weakens









Mars Angular:  DOMINATING ACCOMPLISHMENT = PLUCKY:  You have a very original point of view and slant on life, and you express yourself candidly and fearlessly.  Self-assured and devil-may-care, you go your own way and do your own thing without relying upon other people’s approval or support, and by improvising whatever is needed.  Although your self-confidence can verge on self-congratulations, you always stick to your guns, and you are inimitably yourself at all times.

Mars Cadent:  REACTIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT = MALCONTENT:  You are caustic and opinionated, and are somewhat inelegant or gauche in expressing yourself.  You are easily misunderstood – or feel that you are – and are skeptical of other people’s motives.  You have a sense of being weary, overburdened, or bogged down by circumstances; and at your wits’ end over other people.  On your positive side you are punctilious and dutiful in carrying out your responsibilities.

            Mars/ASC – OUTFRONT – You are unflinching and candid, and possess the ability to stand fast and hold your own in the face of adversity.  Your placid, tractable exterior barely conceals a high-wire energy which is hardheaded, forceful, and domineering (on the negative side, contrary and deaf to reason).  You are bold, blunt and never shy from expressing your opinions and making your presence be felt. 

            Mars/DESC STEADFAST – You are mild of manner, but also are headstrong, iron-willed, and something of a control freak in relationship. You are good-natured and obliging in the nonessentials, willing to give way when required, but never backing down from your basic position; and you tend to attract partners who are as hardnosed as yourself.  You have a knack for being forceful and unyielding without being overreaching or giving needless offense.

            Mars/MC – GUTSY – You are fearless and adventurous, with considerable personal derring-do and panache. You are willing to take risks and to fly with your gut-level hunches, which at times can make for a pigheaded or absolutist streak.  But you do have a knack for getting your own way by hook or crook, and always landing on your feet.

            Mars/IC – ASSIDUOUS – You hold your feelings inside, keep a stiff upper lip, and cannot be diverted or deflected.  You are cautious, thorough, and unrevealing, keeping your motives and plans to yourself.  You have good powers of concentration and the ability to bring all your energy to bear upon your project or object of the moment.

Excerpt from Chapter 4:  Comparison of Different Canons of Planetary Strength: 

Celestial State vs. Terrestrial State; Celestial State vs. Aspectual State; and Terrestrial State vs. Aspectual State

Mars Good Celestial State + Cadent:  WHOLE-HEARTED but MALCONTENT ACCOMPLISHMENT:   You have a sassy, ironic sense of humor and a sardonic view of life and your fellow bipeds.   Although you are free-spirited and basically do your own thing come what may, you nonetheless have a tendency to grouse and complain. You are scrupulous in discharging – even exceeding – your obligations; but you also maintain a jealous watchfulness over whether others are pulling their share of the load as well.  Although your everyday attitude is brisk and ready for anything, you often feel as though you are just drifting through life, or struggling on an endless treadmill – unrewarded and unfulfilled.
Mars Angular + Bad Celestial State = PLUCKY but INDECISIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT:   You are outgoing and gregarious, with a sincere and unvarnished bonhomie – a gentility and nobility – which others find real and inviting.  You tend to prefer consensus to initiative, and there may be an air of futility or resignation about you.  You lack an underlying sense of conviction or self-certainty, so you can become overly dependent upon the cooperation of other people in order to get anything accomplished.  You try to ameliorate rather than to challenge, and you are overly trusting and naive in your relationships.  You have high expecations of yourself and equally high expecations of other people; but as a result you easily feel easily deceived or betrayed.  When forced to take a stand you rely upon mulish obduracy rather than finesse to get  your own way.
Mars Good Celestial State + Afflicted = WHOLE-HEARTED but ORNERY ACCOMPLISHMENT:  You possess a good-humored audacity and spirit of derring-do which can be very charming in their proper moment.  However, your cocksure self-assurance and brash swagger can wear thin on people constantly exposed to your bumptiousness, or those who have to work with you rather than under you (you are magnanimous with people you consider your inferiors).  You love to argue, and you have a genius for niggling wrongheadedness – scoring points for yourself rather than working things out.  Although inclined to pose and strut, you nonetheless are courageous and outfront, and you are in your element when bold action is called for.
Mars Well-aspected  + Bad Celestial State =  EFFICIENT but INDECISIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT:  You possess a self-conscious, inoffensive, and unassuming personality.  You don’t make waves or attract undue attention to yourself, but rather try to ingratiate yourself with and to please other people.  You are diplomatic and politic, and you shun or ameliorate conflict wherever possible.  On the other hand, you can be overly neutral or vacillating when definiteness and commitment are called for.   But you are straightforward, aboveboard, and always on the square.
Mars Angular + Afflicted = PLUCKY but ORNERY ACCOMPLISHMENT:  You are bluff, short, impatient, and trenchant – utterly lacking in subtlety, social grace or niceties.  You are glib and frank, with nothing to hide or apologize for; and at times you can be gratuitously brusque and abrasive.  You possess a cocksure insolence which ploughs it own furrow in life and has no thoughts or worries about consequences.  You are highly individualistic with an original point of view – off on your own vision quest and determined to keep free of any constraint or restriction.
Mars Well-aspected + Cadent = EFFICIENT but MALCONTENT ACCOMPLISHMENT:  Albeit you are easily annoyed and tend to keep up a running commentary of complaints about other people’s failings and the ills of the world, you nonetheless always maintain your cool and you don’t allow people’s antics or adverse circumstances get you into a sweat.  You keep yourself under tight control; and your forbidding reserve and critical mindset tend to keep other people from tangling with you.  You are imperturbable, impassive, and go about your business with a minimum of pother.

(Copyright © 2011 by Bob Makransky.  All rights reserved).

Unique – Original – Thought-Provoking!

Planetary Strength - a commentary on Morinus

An intermediate-level textbook by Bob Makransky 

An essential contribution to natal horoscope interpretation.  Taking as its point of departure Astrologia Gallica by Jean Baptiste Morin de Villefranche (1583 - 1656), Planetary Strength compares and contrasts the differences between the strengths conferred upon planets by virtue of their sign placements (celestial state); house placements (terrestrial state); and aspects (aspectual state).  The strength factors of retrogradation / station, synodic phase, and conjunction with fixed stars are also explained and interpreted.   A detailed system of keywords is augmented by insightful cookbookinterpretations for each and every planetary combination.  The depth and quality of the analysis – as well as the hundreds of practical examples and tips – make Planetary Strength an indispensable reference work which both neophyte and experienced practitioners will consult every time they read a horoscope. 

Listen to Bob discuss Planetary Strength at:


ISBN = 9781902405506    Price =  $17.00  from:  http://www.amazon.com/Planetary-Strength-Commentary-Bob-Makransky/dp/1902405501/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294505829&sr=1-3

 “The book is beautifully written. With Makransky, whether you agree or disagree is not the issue - you will always get a good read. It is clear. He has done his homework. He makes the genius of Morinus accessable to English speakers. He shows us how to ‘think astrologically’.” - Joseph Polansky, Diamond Fire Magazine

“This is certainly an interesting addition to reading and interpreting the translations of Morinus’ original work. It is detailed and considered, and the author’s knowledge and experience are evident throughout.” - Helen Stokes, AA Journal

“Try them in practice and compare these interpretations to what you might otherwise think about a planet. It may just sharpen your ability to make accurate statements about character, a person’s history, and even to make predictions. And what more do you ask of astrology?” - Dell Horoscope magazine

“Presenting a mixture of discussion, detailed cookbook offerings and chart examples as well as keywords and tables, this fascinating book also addresses the fixed stars. … This fascinating book assumes a fair knowledge of astrology as well as some experience in preparing charts.” - Margaret Gray, ISAR

“This is a book that every beginner as well as advanced student of astrology would do well to possess. The author is extremely perceptive in his descriptions of the planets … this book would be a helpful aid to the researcher, as it would point him in the right direction.” - Wanda Sellar, Correlation

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MAGICAL ALMANAC is Bob Makransky’s free monthly ezine of astrology and magic for thoughtful, intelligent people who are seeking something deeper than the usual New Age – astrological fare.  To subscribe, send an email to: MagicalAlmanac-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.  Or check it out at:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac  

FREE EBOOK: Bob Makransky’s Magical Sampler is a delightful smorgasbord of Bob’s best writings on Astrology, Relationships, Self-Transformation, Self-Healing, White Witchcraft, Paganism, Mayan Shamanism, humorous short stories, and cartoons.  Enjoy!

You can view and download Bob Makransky’s Magical Sampler for free at:


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August 28, 2010

The REAL Mayan Prophecy

Filed under: Mayan shamanism — admin @ 12:14 pm

     It is such a joy to live in Guatemala, and to have the privilege of participating in an ongoing spiritual tradition which has continued uninterrupted for five millennia.  I have met many Mayan priests, and have sometimes been asked by them, “What is all this about a Mayan Prophecy for 2012?” – for after all, even Mayan priests read newspapers and see the television now and then; so some of our kwashru (craziness) filters down to them.  I explain that it’s just New Age silliness by people exploiting the Mayan cachet to make money; not anything to take seriously. 


       Indeed, it is true that the Mayan Long Count calendar, a 5,000-year cycle, does come to an end and reset itself on December 21, 2012.  But this has no more significance for the Mayans than Y2K did for us.  There are a lot of so-called “experts” on the Mayan Prophecy out there now; but not one of them is Mayan, not one of them speaks a Mayan language or has studied with a Mayan priest; and as far as I know, not one of them has even set foot in

Guatemala.  What this “Mayan Prophecy” is really all about, is how easily New Agers fool themselves.

Unlike the self-appointed Mayan Prophecy “experts”, true Mayan priests (Ajk’ihab’ or daycounters) are chosen by the Mayan spirits themselves.  Then they study for decades under the tutelage of accomplished Ajk’ihab’s.  The Mayan priests whom I have met are very humble (most of them are subsistence maize farmers from the countryside), and yet they have a commanding presence.  When they put on their headbands and begin ceremonies they become filled with the Spirit (Ahau) and are completely self-effacing – not there, and yet utterly real and masterful in a way which makes most of our religious and spiritual leaders seem, by comparison, phony and ugly. 


      The point is that the Mayans (unlike the “experts”) are making a connection with the spirit world.  Connecting and communicating with the Mayan spirit world is an everyday part of Mayan life, just as the telephone and internet are for us.  This connection is made principally at Mayan ceremonies, where priests channel messages for participants and also perform healings. This connection is also made in daily life – by respecting the natural world and propitiating its guardian spirits. 

This is difficult for us First Worlders to understand, since we are so used to empty, formulaic church services which are basically just social functions.  Mayan ceremonies, on the other hand, are magical invocations in which spirits are contacted to obtain useful information and healings from the spirit world.  The spirits actually do come; their presence can be felt; and their answers are very right on.  For example, once during a ceremony my teacher, Don Abel Yat, stopped and told me, “You are about to have an enormous land problem.”  Sure enough, two weeks later a land dispute began which dragged on for the next three years and cost me a boodle of money and a lot of grief.  The point is that the predictions which are channeled by Mayan priests are very specific and to the point (not vague generalities). 


By contrast, this “2012 Prophecy” thing is being touted by the non-Mayan “experts” as a kind of New Age version of the Rapture: a miraculous transformation of human consciousness which sweeps humanity up into the Pleiades to escape the coming tribulation. But things don’t happen that way in real life.  If there is a fundamental transformation in human consciousness, the way it will probably occur is that the environment and civilization will deteriorate over the next few decades.  And in the crisis people will draw together and open their hearts to one another, as they do in the face of any natural catastrophe such as an earthquake or flood.  When people lose their faith in the system and start listening to their own hearts is when the system will change. 

Our society is in spiritual crisis.  We have a great deal more wealth and freedom of choice than the Mayans do, but to what end – to buy this instead of that?  To be robotic producer / consumers trapped in an endless spiral of insatiable desire?  Where our society has lost all sense of spiritual purpose, Mayan society has not.  The Mayans had the highest civilization in the New World at the time of the Spanish conquest, and they have maintained it in spite of five centuries of oppression and persecution.  Mayans possess the dignity of a people who know where they belong in the universe.  They have a sense of connectedness and rootedness which contrasts sharply with the empty materialism of our society.  Mayans know in their hearts that nature is sacred; they are capable of feeling awe and wonder; they are broken and humble.  Viewed through Mayan eyes, our behavior seems boorish, crass, and profane – utterly lacking in culture and manners. 


We can learn from the Mayans, not by mindlessly aping the outward shibboleths of their cultural traditions, but rather by taking a hard look at our own personal behavior and assumptions. If the human race is to survive the coming crunch, it is going to have to find some other way to motivate people besides capitalistic greed and selfishness; and it is going to have to provide people with a truer sense of connection to the divine than that which is offered by most conventional religions.  This is a more viable path for human salvation than silly, irresponsible “prophecies”, or the short-sighted avarice and pipe dreams offered by materialism.  This is the REAL Mayan Prophecy – what we really should be learning from the Mayans – which is found in the Christian Bible as well:  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

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Don Abel Yat Saquib and Bob Makransky

About the Author:  Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, programmer, and professional astrologer.  For the past thirty-five years he has lived on a farm in highland Guatemala where he studies Mayan shamanism and astrology with his teacher Don Abel Yat Saquib and other K’ekchi and Quiche Mayan priests.  For more information on the Mayan calendar and astrology, download Bob’s free Mayan Horoscope software from:  http://www.dearbrutus.com/body_mayan_text.html.   

October 21, 2008

Bibliography of Spirituality

Filed under: Misc. — admin @ 2:19 pm

This biography for spiritual New Age internet readers includes books from many diverse religious traditions, since the principles of New Ageism have always been present in mysticism no matter what its trappings.  Some of the best Christian spiritual writing is contained in the collected sermons of Meister Eckhart, a fourteenth century German priest and spiritual genius who was tried for heresy (naturally).  Another valuable Christian source which appeals to metaphysical New Age readers is St. John of the Cross, a sixteenth century Spanish priest who produced a large body of spiritual literature and poetry.  His principle works are Ascent of Mount Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul.  Also highly recommendable is The Way of a Pilgrim by an anonymous nineteenth century Russian peasant, who journeyed around Russia meeting very interesting people and practicing a form of meditation which has become quite popular even with practitioners of New Age spirituality.

Buddhism is very close in spirit to the New Age, sharing many occult beliefs such as reincarnation and enlightenment.  Chogyam Trunpa’s books are highly recommended for people who want an introduction to Buddhist thought, with Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism containing the best explanation of Buddhist principles for beginning explorers of the spiritual realm.  Trungpa’s Shambhala is one of the best books of spiritual awareness in the Buddhist tradition.  Another highly recommended writer is Jack Kornfield, all of whose writings are excellent but whose Path with Heart is perhaps the best explanation of enlightenment.  Also worthy of attention are New Age online celebrity Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, which not precisely Buddhist is strongly influenced by Buddhism and presents a good picture of what enlightenment really means. 

Paganism in the north is a recent phenomenon and therefore there aren’t yet many books on pagan beliefs for intelligent readers.  Although there are some anthropological studies of pagan religion in other cultures, there are very few exegeses of native paganism by sympathetic authors for people who want to learn witchcraft.  One exception are the books by Martin Prechtel, an American who lived among the Tzutuhil Maya of Guatemala for many years and became a practitioner of Mayan shamanism.  His book Secrets of the Talking Jaguar is a good explanation of Mayan shamanic training; and his book Long Life, Honey in the Heart explains Mayan paganism from the point of view of a devotee.   Modern examples of intelligent paganism are represented by the books by members of the Findhorn community in Scotland, who were among the first practitioners of channeling nature spirits and devas.  The Findhorn Garden book, written by the founders of this community, is the classic in this field.   

Bibliography of Astrology

Filed under: Misc. — admin @ 2:13 pm

            The very best book for the spiritual astrology beginner (and also one of the least expensive) is Ronald Davison’s Astrology.   This book starts from scratch and presents the multiple ramifications of astrology in very simple language, using an ingenious system of keywords to identify important concepts and keep the reader from becoming mired in complexities.  When the reader is ready to assimilate more detail, The Astrological Aspects by Charles Carter is the best book on the subject of planetary relationship (learning what the planets mean in combination).  A good cookbook-style guide to interpreting you personal horoscope for more advanced students is Alan Leo’s Key to Your Own Nativity, which gives interpretations for all the little bits and pieces which make up a horoscope; and also what factors should be taken into account when considering horoscopes and astrology in various areas of life such as marriage astrology, profession, children, and so forth.  The problem for tyros is to not become bogged down in detail; and Marc Edmund Jones’ The Essentials of Astrological Analysis gives several techniques for getting a handle on the meaning of a horoscope (or if you will, a life) as a whole; i.e., cutting through the welter of detail to get down to the person’s basic motivations and drives.

The Progressed Horoscope, by Alan Leo, is the very best explanation of this area of predictive astrology for doing horoscope readings.  Noel Tyl’s series of books on how to interpret transits are among the best explanations of this type of predictive technique and are well worth studying.  For information on relationships astrology, the best book is Ronald Davison’s Synastry, which discusses astrology relationships and the techniques used in deciding compatibility from the horoscopes of the people involved.   For more advanced students of astrology and horoscope, the most important theoretical books on astrology ever written are the Astrologia Gallica series by Jean Baptiste Morin de Villefranche, which were produced in the seventeenth century and are still extremely valuable today.  The most important books in this series are Books 18 and 21, which together explain an approach to recognizing the most important elements in a given horoscope, and how to interpret them for an astrology profile.  For a survey of the entire gamut of astrological knowledge as it appeared in the last century (at least up until 1976) Geoffrey Dean’s Recent Advances in Natal Astrology covers the territory exhaustively, and with critical commentary intended to separate the wheat from the chaff.  For psychological astrology, you cannot do better than Bob Makransky’s Thought Forms, which is written with a spiritual New Age readership (not merely astrologers) in mind. 

Bibliography of Witchcraft

Filed under: Misc. — admin @ 2:04 pm

There is probably more baloney written about real witchcraft than any other topic on earth.  Most books on the subjects of mysticism and magick, particularly those from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, are mostly empty talk.  Many of the wiccan magick books you find on the New Age shelf at bookstores are lists of the trappings of magic without any of the core.  They list spells for this and spells for that, but give no information on how to make a magick spell work.  Fortunately, just in the past forty years, some very valuable books on magick have been published, largely from shamanic sources.  The alpha and omega of modern witchcraft theory and practice are the oeuvres of Carlos Castaneda.  Castaneda was a Peruvian anthropologist who, while working on his doctoral dissertation for UCLA in 1961, stumbled upon a Yaqui Indian magician named Don Juan Matus.  Don Juan took Carlos as his apprentice and introduced him to ancient Toltec magick which has far-reaching implications for the future of the human race.  This white witchcraft consists of training in an alternate form of cognition than that which we learn from our society, which is the first step in trying to learn witchcraft.           

Castaneda’s work has sparked a firestorm of controversy.  It has been thoroughly rejected by the academic community, which is not surprising considering the bigotry, intellectual persecution and rejection of real magick which characterize present-day academia.  However, Castaneda has also split the New Age community into pro- and anti- factions.  The things he says are so off-the-wall, and so alien to most people’s everyday experience of the world, that unless you yourself subscribe to white witchcraft and have had similar experiences (as I have had) it’s difficult to understand – much less accept – the premises of Castaneda’s teachings.   Moreover, there are internal inconsistencies in the books which critics point out in the effort to discredit him, even though Castaneda himself said that part of what is witchcraft is erasing one’s personal history and covering one’s tracks.   Also the fact that Castaneda was a womanizer is cited by his critics to deflect attention away from his message, although Castaneda himself certainly took no pains to hide that facet of his personality.           

Everyone has to decide for themselves what they will believe and take as truth.   Like many white witches, I pretty much take Castaneda at face value because everything in his books which I have been able to verify from my own experience has proven correct.  My own spiritual path came out of discoveries I made while tripping on psychedelic drugs and plants.  These experiences – together with my own personal discovery of witchcraft and spells - affected me profoundly and left me with lots of questions which I needed to resolve, and the only place I’ve found useful information on this subject is in Castaneda’s books.  Moreover, my one meeting with Castaneda in person did more than impress me.  It utterly floored me.  I know for a fact, from my own experience with him, that this man was, at the very least, a most powerful magician; whereas all I’ve seen amongst his detractors and critics are phonies and liars.  Wholly apart from the wicca magick, Castaneda’s books contain the most cogent analysis and critique of everyday life that I’ve ever seen.  Most of the information about the nature of the self, reality, time and space, and the body given in my writing originates in Castaneda.  The corpus of Castaneda’s works actually constitute a map – an indispensable map of magick for the spiritual traveler.  This map describes the way stations (in Castaneda’s nomenclature, positions of the assemblage point) along the spiritual path.  These are all places – or better said, peak moments in the life of anyone who wants to learn magick – when large parts of the lower self are shed and new facets of the higher self are revealed.  At these moments the seeker permanently reaches new levels of wisdom and power.  Some of these places, such as Stopping the World and Seeing the Human Mold, are well-known and are described elsewhere in spiritual literature under different names.  For example, Stopping the World is known elsewhere as samadhi, satori, or kensho.  However other places, such as the Place of No Pity, Losing the Human Form, and Silent Knowledge, are described nowhere else except in Castaneda’s books.  I can aver the existence of some of these places from my own personal experience; others I am still shooting for.  If you are going on a journey, it is helpful to have a clear map devised by those who have passed that way before.  Castaneda’s books are the best map I have found.  I trust the spiritual information they contain unreservedly.   You would do well to do the same.   My contacting spirit guides  use Castaneda’s system as the basis for the training they have given me.  They employ his concepts and nomenclature, but with their own slant on the subject and their own techniques.  Castaneda’s training depended heavily upon the nagual teacher Don Juan’s presence.  What my spirits are trying to do is to present a heuristic system which will enable people to work on their own, under the direction of spirit guides and nature spirits rather than a nagual teacher.   Somebody, somewhere, some time, somehow has to stand up for the truth, no matter how unfashionable that is or how unpopular it makes the person.  Castaneda was smeared and vilified for the precise same reason that Freud was smeared and vilified:  what he says cuts too close to the truth.   Freud and Castaneda pointed out certain vistas that society doesn’t want you to see.  They realized certain facts which society doesn’t want you to realize.  If the human race is to survive, it had better get to work fast on finding some new intent, because the intent it’s following now is the intent of self-destruction.  What Castaneda has brought us is the most important new information which our civilization has received in the past several millennia.  It will take the human race several centuries more to reconstruct the edifice of white magick which Don Juan described to Castaneda.  It’s about time we stopped the endless, mindless babbling and posturing, and rolled up our sleeves and got to work; and Castaneda is the obvious place to begin.             

If you’re only going to read one of the Castaneda books, or if you just want to dabble in learning witchcraft, I suggest reading the third book of the 10 book series, Journey to Ixtlan.  This book presents the most important concepts for the general spiritual seeker.   Otherwise, if you are serious about becoming a magician, you should read all the books in order, starting from The Teachings of Don Juan through The Active Side of Infinity.            Additionally, Castaneda left behind an organization devoted to promulgating one aspect of Don Juan’s teachings which he calls Tensegrity.  This is a set of physical exercises used to conserve and enhance one’s personal energy.  I would describe them as similar to Tai Chi but more intense and angular.   He wrote a book on this subject, Magical Passes, and sponsored some videos which illustrate how these exercises should be carried out. 

The only other how-to books on white magick which I would recommend are those of Franz Bardon, particularly his first book Initiation into Hermetics, which is available as a New Age download from the Magical Almanac ezine files.   This book is very much in the occidental tradition of magic and is more what the reader might expect of a book on magic – wands and pentacles and magic robes and circles and incantations and past life regressions and so forth.  However, unlike most such books this one imparts a good grasp of the core concepts of magic – namely self-analysis and self-hypnosis.  I would say that Bardon’s books are better for dreamers and my books are better for stalkers.  Magic is such a personal issue, however, that it’s good to read different takes on the subject to create a praxis of one’s own. 

October 1, 2007

Book of Shadows - IV

Filed under: Magic 101 — admin @ 9:19 am


Going to War:  Use a Mars hour. At this time you should light a red candle, visualize the person you are praying for as if he or she was standing right in front of you looking you in the eye.  If you are doing this for yourself, visualize yourself in the midst of war with a feeling of calmness, courage, and confidence in your own abilities.  Take a deep breath and blow all your worries and doubts away and leap forward with abandon!    Spread your arms wide and cast a white light of protection around the person (or imagine that white light is descending from above to surround and protect yourself).  Imagine that the person is standing calm and self-assured inside this white light of protection.   Then wish the person well and bid them well on their way into the light. 


Conflicts / firing employees, etc.:   Use a Mars hour.  Light a red candle for courage.  If it’s a matter of standing up to someone and telling them off, imagine them standing right there in front of you and speak exactly what’s on your mind calmly and assuredly, with no gloating, anger, or personal feeling at all.  Imagine yourself tearing off the ties which bind you; jump forward out of the situation which is holding you back and spring into the light of freedom!  

Scat Spell:  (to cast out demons, banish negative thought forms, and get rid of bothersome people):  Use a Saturn hour.  Light a black candle, take a deep breath, and imagine yourself confronting the oppressive person or situation with cold detachment and indifference.  It’s important that you have no sense of gloating, or a desire for vengeance, or for anything more from this person.  Then throw your arms outward forcefully and decisively as if to cast off the oppressive person or situation.  You can also jump up and down and shake your body vigorously to shake the person’s bad vibes off.  You don’t visualize something bad happening to the person, but rather feel how happy and light you feel now that person is gone or that situation is behind you! 

            Example:  to get rid of a lover who has outlived his / her usefulness: at the correct moment light a black candle and imagine your ex is standing right in front of you and telling you that they’ve decided that they’ve had enough of you.   Don’t feel rancor; feel relief.   It’s important that you don’t do this C.V. in a mood of anger, particularly if your ex is a vampire who is sucking your energy by provoking your anger.   You have to call it quits in the C.V. – not take pleasure when they get their comeuppance (as you do in normal daydreaming).  Take deep breaths, or jump up and down and shake your body, until you are calm and in command of yourself.     Then imagine taking your erstwhile lover’s hands in both of your own; look him or her squarely in the eye; and say in your own words and using your own sentiments, “It’s had its good times, hasn’t it?  But now it’s time we each went our own way.”  Then wishing him or her the best of luck in their future journey, turn around, wipe your hands of it, walk away and don’t look back. 



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Book of Shadows - III

Filed under: Magic 101 — admin @ 9:19 am


Asking favors:  Use a relevant hour (sun for father / boss; moon for mother / employee; Mercury for children / neighbor / coworker; Venus for female friend or lover; Mars for male friend or lover; Jupiter for advisor; Saturn for old or difficult people).   Light a white candle and look the person directly in the eye.  Calmly and confidently explain why you need this favor from the person.  Give your reasoning and (if possible) explain how doing you this favor will be beneficial to them also.  Imagine them granting your desire with cordiality and generosity; smile at them and shake their hand; then walk away and forget about it (i.e. after doing the C.V. don’t bring the favor up yourself of your own accord; wait until the proper moment to approach the person arrives on its own momentum).           


Love Spell:  Use a Venus hour (straight women or gay men can use a Mars hour instead – particularly if sex is more important than companionship).   At this moment light a pink candle and imagine that you are right there in front of your beloved (or if you don’t have a beloved, a beautiful stranger).  Look him or her directly in the eyes; take his or her hands in yours; and say everything that is in your heart.  Then listen to what he or she has to say; let the thing flow as it will.  Then embrace and kiss as if it were really happening right now, and feel yourself filled with joy and happiness!  Then with a sigh, squeeze their hands, wish them well, and let them go. 

Both the Asking favors (above) and Love spells are essentially the same thing as bewitching the person; except casting spells are usually only done once, at a favorable astrological time; whereas bewitching is carried out on a daily (or even moment-to-moment) basis for a while to build up pressure, before dropping the procedure and turning one’s mind to other things. 


Money Spell:    Use a Jupiter hour.  At the chosen time light a green candle, take a deep breath, and vigorously shake your body to shake off all your money worries.  Imagine that you have plenty of money for all your needs and never need to worry about money ever again!  It’s better not to focus on money qua money, but rather on what you need the money for; that these needs are being abundantly met; and you are joyous and positive about your future!  Feel how happy and satisfying it makes you that you have such abundance that you can be philanthropic and give money to others who need it and to help save the earth (it’s important that you see yourself as being wealthy enough to give money away, rather than imagining yourself pigging out)!  Feel how great it feels to be free of money worries forever!


Enlightenment / wisdom / knowledge Spell:  Use a sun hour.  At this moment light a white candle;  take a deep breath, and imagine that all barriers separating you from other people and the world around you have dissolved, and you feel a white light enveloping you with joy!  Then:

Feel that you are truly connected to the universe;That you have been chosen to save the world; That you have been chosen to reach out to every being that comes in contact with you;That your love knows no bounds and gives you joy such as you never thought was possible. 

Health:  Use a moon hour.  At this time light a white candle and imagine yourself (or the person you are praying for) to be healthy, happy, and full of zip!  Whatever activities may have been curtailed by your illness, imagine yourself renewing them with increased verve and enthusiasm!  Feel yourself brimming with vigor and energy, do a little dance of joy and thanksgiving for your healing! 


Success in Studies:  Use a Mercury hour.  Light a blue candle at this moment, take a deep breath, and imagine that you are in school and are feeling confident and pleased with your understanding and progress!  See yourself reciting in class and feel that you are making a good contribution to the class and have the esteem of your teachers and classmates!  You are so happy to be in school because you are learning so much and are having lots of fun!  


(continued … )

Book of Shadows - II

Filed under: Magic 101 — admin @ 9:18 am


After the spell is cast it is best to forget about it (insofar as you are capable of doing this) rather than to keep ruminating / fantasizing about it (which tends to dissipate the power of the spell).  Once the intent has been set up by the C.V., the only way to make it happen, to let the Spirit free to do your bidding, is to drop the concern completely.  What locks the Spirit up – keeps it from helping us – is our inability to just let go and abandon ourselves to it; to just trust it to come through for us. 

            Master magicians are able to just drop an obsessive concern because they have their true feelings so finely tuned that they can switch them off and on at will.  They are not as wrapped up in their desires and feelings as are average people.  They don’t have such an ego stake (success / glory versus failure / shame) in the outcome of anything, so they can throw their attention completely behind a desire, and just as completely release it.  Average people can’t do this – they cling, and cling, and cling to their desires and thought forms.  They don’t know how to let go.  They don’t have the discipline to be able to just drop something without looking back.  So what average people have to do is to trick themselves: after setting up an intent through obsessive concern, they should then arbitrarily choose some other area of their lives to become obsessively concerned about, and shift all their intense, obsessive desire to this other area.


What follows are merely suggestions and examples.  You must adapt the model to your own taste, to create spells that are meaningful to you, personally.  The important thing is to imagine your desire coming true in the now moment.  This means imagining yourself to be in the midst of your desire coming true, rather than being a detached observer (as you do in normal fantasizing and daydreaming).  For example, in casting a love spell you must imagine yourself to be looking the other person directly in the eye and talking sincerely to them, and listening to what they have to say, rather than viewing them from a distance (as you do in romantic or sexual fantasies).

As you cast the spell, imagine in your mind’s eye your desire coming true right now, and let yourself feel all the joy you would feel if that were indeed the case.  In other words, Creative Visualization is a matter of hypnotizing oneself (if only momentarily) into believing that your desires are already true.  This is how we reach out to the probable realities in which we realize our desires:  by breaking the hypnotic spell of our obsessive moods of unhappiness; by giving hope a little elbow room in there, so it can nudge its way through the gloom of our customary self-pity.  Hope is the fuel that propels desire lines forward.  This means faith not in ultimate success, but in ultimate self-worth.  In the end you have to abide by the dictates of power.  You win a few; you lose a few; that’s the way it goes. 


(continued … )

Book of Shadows - I

Filed under: Magic 101 — admin @ 9:17 am

A Book of Shadows is merely a collection of spells and rituals.   All thought forms of desire can be considered to be commands to the Spirit; what makes spells special is the attention paid to them (the importance placed on them).  This is why we must not dissipate our intent in casting thoughtless desires out willy-nilly, such as by casual window-shopping or coveting what we see on the TV or internet, or being jealous of other people.   We must focus all our desire on one particular object.  It is precisely by inflaming our desire for a myriad of objects which we don’t even want that society saps our will and holds us in slavery.  Casting spells won’t work if you scatter your intent in every direction at once. 

The difference between spells and rituals is that rituals are done to invoke spirits (i.e. are performed basically to propitiate the spirits – to keep them happy) whereas spells are cast for particular purposes such as wealth, healing, love, etc.  Spells can be considered the same thing as prayers, although prayers normally are directed towards a deity, whereas spells may or may not appeal for the intercession of spirits or a deity. 

Both spells and prayers, as well as positive thinking, can be subsumed under the rubric “Creative Visualization” (C.V.), which is the name for the basic technique involved.  There is nothing “magical” about spells; the words employed don’t matter as much as the intent behind the words.  It is much better if you create your own spells, in your own words, rather than borrow spells from some other source (however if you are invoking spirits then you must be scrupulous in following the wording of the invocation precisely, as well as observing the correct day / time / astrological aspect required, if there is one; and copying the sigil correctly.  This is because some spirits – though not all – are rather exigent in their requirements and demand full attention to what you are doing). 

I, personally, don’t have a book of shadows.  There are certain C.V.’s I do every day, sometimes several times a day (particularly the Enlightenment spell given below).  Most of the time, however, the C.V.’s I do are impromptu – as when I see a rainbow or falling star and cast my customary Enlightenment spell on it.  Ephemeral phenomena such as rainbows, falling stars, dust devils, gusts of wind, etc. are actually the best messengers for taking our spells and prayers out into the universe because they spring to life for a moment and then dissolve back into undifferentiated energy, taking our desire with them.  This is also why spells are cast with a burning candle – to send the desire out there.  But now and again I’ll cast a spell for money or whatever, and at such times I follow the astrological guidelines explained in the article Astrological Timing of Spells, Prayers, and Rituals .

(continued … )

September 26, 2007

Creative Visualization – IV

Filed under: Magic 101 — admin @ 11:30 am


            Magicians set up an intent by putting 100% of their attention on it.  Whatever their desire is, they have themselves feel an intense longing in their hearts for the object of their desire moment-to-moment, all day long, every day.  With every indrawn breath they draw the object of their desire to them, and with every expelled breath they blow away the obstacles in their path.  They do not permit themselves to think about, or to desire, anything except the object of their intent.  Average people, who don’t have the mental control to be monitoring their thoughts and feelings all day long, can still obtain a similar effect by just intensely desiring something as powerfully as they can.  Desires that have been longed for for many years have enough strength behind them, by virtue of their sheer repetition, to serve as intents (commands to the Spirit).  If there’s something which you’ve desired obsessively for a long, long time, then you have enough intent stored up there already and don’t have to do anything more except to drop it. 


            Once the intent has been set up by obsessive concern, the only way to make it happen, to let the Spirit free to do our bidding, is to drop the concern completely.  What locks the Spirit up – keeps it from helping us – is our inability to just let go and abandon ourselves to it, to just trust it to come through for us. 


            Master magicians are able to just drop obsessive concerns because they have their true feelings so finely tuned that they can switch them off and on at will.  They are not as wrapped up in their desires and feelings as are average people.  They don’t have such an ego stake (success / glory versus failure / shame) in the outcome of anything, so they can throw their attention completely behind a desire, and just as completely release it.  Average people can’t do this – they cling, and cling, and cling to their desires and thought forms.  They don’t know how to let go.  They don’t have the discipline to be able to just drop something without looking back.  So what average people have to do is to trick themselves: after setting up an intent through obsessive concern, they should then arbitrarily choose some other area of their lives to become obsessively concerned about, and shift all their intense, obsessive desire to this other area.


            In actuality, the mental control necessary to maintain one’s attention fixed on a specific feeling all day long, and then to stop thinking about it cold, is not as hard as it sounds.  You can call upon spirit helpers, or even your death thought form, to assist you by constantly reminding you to return your wandering attention to the object of your desire; or to quit thinking about it, as the case may be.


            But it really isn’t necessary to do creative visualization all day long.  Just do what you can, in good faith, on a level you feel comfortable with, and everything will work out okay.  The important thing to remember is that hope is the fuel that propels desire lines forward.  This means faith not in ultimate success, but in ultimate self-worth.  In the end you have to abide by the dictates of power.  You win a few; you lose a few; that’s the way it goes. 


            One further application of creative visualization which is useful in untangling light fibers with other people is to try to remember times when you’ve been angry or cruel to other people.  It would be best to actually go to them personally and ask their forgiveness; but if this isn’t possible you can go to them in your visualization and humbly ask that they forgive you.  Then imagine them forgiving you.  You should humbly visualize yourself asking and receiving forgiveness from anyone you’ve ever felt angry at or have hurt.  This helps in freeing up your karma (unblocking light fibers) that holds you back from opening your heart.


(excerpted from Thought Forms Copyright © 2000 by Bob Makransky.  All rights reserved)


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