Skip to main content

Omens, Magic, and Death


The day before my youngest son died, I was taking a short walk around the area where we live. Checking the mail, doing something simple.  It's California in summertime, so the day was gorgeous. A golden haze hung about everything, with the smell of pine and water. I came near the end of my walk, and was before the entrance to our home. I look up, and there are 5 crows sitting in a tree above me, on the lower branches. Crows are old man Saturn's birds. When I saw them, I felt a chill and a terrible sense of dread. They flew away after looking at me for a moment; and I did my damndest to stamp down my silly thoughts about this meaning literal death in my home.

And  then I went about my day, shortly after which the world grew thin for me. I joined yet another semi-exclusive group; this one, unfortunately, is the one no one wants a part of, the fear of which dwells in the heart of every loving parent.

I've spent the last five months working with Saturn at the subtle urging of my HGA--while doing my regular Planetary work, he called to me, and communed with me--growing to the point that Saturn took me under his wings, and told me I should be his Priest.  One of them, anyway. A strange and terrifying honor, that. He gave me Birth and Death rites that I could perform, with the work of the primarily Saturnian-kamoethic internal alchemy he helped me develop to be done in between. He encouraged me to create simple devotions--easy and poignant--for those not magically inclined. He taught me how to clothe myself in his essence, and see things as they truly are. A sea of black velvet, a glowing blackness. He taught me about the nature of existence, of Life itself, and destroyed many of my illusions--especially the structures I'd built for comfort. He does not tolerate that in his folk. As I don't want him to become bored, I strive daily to craft new illusions for him to destroy in the future. Ha. The Alchemical Salt is constantly creating that veil; as long as I live in this coagulated form, there will be substance to feed that particular Fire.

He lead me to steep myself in understanding about the Gate of Death--which is also the Gate of Life--and to grow in understanding of the Necromancy of my people, which is primarily the ancestor and graveyard-work Hoodoo. He taught me how to dream-walk (Oneironautics, lucid dreaming) so that I might commune with my lad in that world as well. He taught me how to use hoodoo to bring peace and comfort to my home and family, the practice of which provided a raft upon which we could navigate the river of grief.

He prepared me for this horror, which is not a horror. It simply is. This is life, which is death. Every day I see an image of my boy, or recall his giggling and his grin, and I'm filled with grief. A flowing river of grief, and not a stagnant lake, or a damn-bursting torrent. The up-welling of love for the Dead. This is a good thing. Where I not prepared, instead of flowing upon this river I would stand against it, and I would break. Right now it's at it's height, the Nile rising above it's banks to fertilize the land, to make it rich. This will pass, and it will flow gently again, in time.

Saturn taught me how to send his Spirits to honor my son in his passing, and to guide him through the realm of the Dead. He taught me to call upon the angels of Mercurius to give him voice in the Heavens that he was not blessed with on Earth, to call up Jupiter's angels to clothe his spirit in Majesty, to call on Venus' angels to surround him in the love that is God. He bid me to summon Mars' angels to do battle for him, so that he might go about freely without worry, to call upon Luna to teach him the Mysteries of the realm within which he now finds himself. To summon the angels of Sol, to fill his soul with light and the warmth of the Holy Spirit. He taught me how to use this wisdom, which I've worked my whole life to acquire, for something that is truly worthwhile.

Saturn taught me the truth of time, that the very idea of past and future are convenient illusions of the Alchemical Salt force, which is Saturnian in nature. He taught me that one moment can be Realized, so that that illusion is bent, and it can seem to go on forever. I've had those moments with my boy, and the thought of them is a great comfort. Looking back on them fills my heart with joy, because I know that I spent some time truly alive with him, who I loved so. There is no such thing as boredom or banality in this life, only a failure to engage. Every moment is a rich and living thing, especially if you have the little treasures that children are.

This work with occultism is more than a hobby, more even than a passion. It is a living Art that is primarily concerned with Death and Life; misunderstanding the importance of the spiritual work robs us of understanding it's true facility. This tragedy has brought me to understanding this. Dealing with the Gate of Death is what takes occultism out of the realm of interesting hobby and into that of true importance personally and culturally. What separates the ancient Shaman and Priests--our true magical forebears--from many that practice today is engaging with the Death, which gave them cultural importance and relevance outside of their own heads. If we are to truly do our work, we take up this burden with them, and work for the living And the dead.

There is something to be said for devotion. For having a Patron. For concerning yourself not with Technique, but with Experience. The guidance of the HGA is also priceless; it truly works to bring you that which you need.

Just wanted to share some of this that I've learned. I hope that you are all well, and I pray that you are given the vision of Saturn's wings shrouding every thing that you love. Constantly, unceasingly.  Because it is a blessing, and it is the Truth. Nothing that we hold close will be here forever, and the sooner we start to live our lives with that painful awareness, the better. When Saturn comes around and reclaims the moments that we have borrowed, if we have allowed ourselves the illusion and comfort that he is far off we will be filled with sorrow and regret. His Death Rite was the most valuable gift that I've ever been given.

When my son passed away, I looked back, and remembered the times that I'd spent holding and playing with him...moments I went out of my way to create because of the Vision of Saturn's touch upon all the persons that I loved. Moments I spent absorbed in his laughter, or cursing at him for waking me up at 3 in the bloody morning...and loving him then, too. I was Present for those moments, and every one is a treasure. Be sure to create your own treasures every single day. Use some small measure of the Time you've been allotted. This way your tears of sorrow will be sweet, and not bitter. A wonderful gift, because those tears will come.




  1. Care Fra A.I.T.,
    let me frst say again how sorry I feel for your loss. I do feel with you. I do not know how it is when you are prepared, as you say. I have not been prepared, neither when it hit me as a young child, nor as a young father a long time ago. I am afraid that even today my occult experience is too little to be even close to be prepared. Althoguh I have a differen tview on Death maybe. And now, I find myself being scared now and then loosing my little boy. And then I think about all the joy and pleasure he gives me, look at him because he is sleeping next to me. I met Death in various ways, personally private and professionally. I know he is always with us. I agree with you, one needs to create all those moments of treasure. Things that will keep you warm when it gets cold.
    I am wishing you and your family all the best and be sure that you all are in my thoughts and prayers.

    In L.V.X.

  2. What an incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking post.

    I am so, so sorry for your loss.


  3. Care VH Fr AIT,

    again my heart-felt sympathy and blessings to you and your family at this tragic time.

    Thank you for this wonderful and true post. So much truth, truth we need to cleave to and make our daily realisation. You have presented us with a great gift, brother. Thank you.

    Light and life, love and law

  4. Care et H Frater AIT,

    I am very pleased to see you finally blog about your loss. I have been keeping a low profile with you out of sheer respect, especially honoring your request not to pass along to others what you had shared with me.

    You have taken a bold and powerful step with this heartfelt blog. By sharing your loss with all of us on your blog, we may finally shower you with the love and support that you truly deserve and need in this time of trial.

    As always, you set a shining example for the rest of us, even now in the face of death.

    My personal encounter with death came in a near fatal bus accident in 2005, and transformed my life in a powerful and unforgettable way. Having lost a front tire, we missed colliding with a Walmart truck head on at 70 mph on the freeway by mere inches, bouncing off its trailer instead. Our motorcoach was totaled, but our entire tour group walked out without even a scratch!

    This encounter with Death gave me not only an enduring awareness of my mortality, but also an absolute calm and assurance of lack of fear of death, once and for all.

    A personal close call like this is one thing. To lose a Son is quite another. As a Father myself, I can not imagine anything more painful or more tragic. My heartfelt condolences go out to you, to Annie, and to your entire family, on behalf or the entire HOGD/AO.

    May the Goddess bless you in this hour of trial.

    - David

  5. @Fra Archad

    Thank you kindly, Frater. To pray for someone is to love them; I deeply appreciate it.

    As for preparation--you can have that anytime you wish. Simply go to Saturn. It is not an easy thing, but it is necessary. You have plenty of experience; what you may need now is Communion.

    How wonderful to hear that you cherish your little boy! Hold him close, brother.

  6. @ Fra G,

    Thank you much for your kind words.

  7. Care VH Fra Peregrin,

    You've been beyond generous in sharing kind words and sympathies, and they are truly appreciated. My friends and family and peers are a deep well of support, and I draw from the well regularly. It's a soothing balm which I feel blessed to have.

  8. Care et GH Fra LES,

    Thank you for all the support and respect and kindness, Brother. It means a lot to Annie and I, truly. I know as a father that you can sympathize with our loss, know the depth of love a parent can have for a child.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Death as well; even brushing up against it can change us and cause real growth.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Care Frater

    What I could do for you I did, and that is between yourself and Gabriel's saturnian aspect, but I simply wish to say that I do not think I know a finer man today than you.

    Be well. I wish you long life.

    -Sefriel Ben Elohim
    In LVX

  11. Brother,

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. Your post is an inspiration, and a fitting memorial, your work is a blessing to all of us. Many blessings to you in return as this shadow passes over you. You have weathered such a tragedy with more grace than can be asked of anyone. A hundred thousand blessings to your family, both the living and the departed.

  12. I'm truly sorry for your loss. Speaking from personal experience, having some time to prepare for the loss of a loved one (my mother) helped but still wasn't enough to prepare me for the gaping hole that she left.

    As a new member to the fatherhood club I am humbled by how you are coping with the loss of your son. If you are OK with it, I would gladly recite psalms to help the soul of your son in his journey beyond death.

  13. Care H. Fra. A.I.T.,

    Thank you for coming out and sharing with us your great wisdom that you have gained from your Initiation into Death, and thanks for reminding us of its valuable lesson.

    I agree that life in carnate existance is fleeting, and that we as initiates has to practice non-attachement towards the different manifested physical forms of the Divine, and at the same time express love and compassion towards them. However the practice of non-attachement is impossible for most of us when it comes to our own beloved ones, our Children.

    I have been experiencing my share of the Initation into Death, or the Nigredo phase, through the death of my Mother 3 years ago (the magnitude of grief that took me by surprise) and for the last year through my professional work with drug addicts, where I have experienced almost a "epidemy" of deaths amongst people that I truly like. But non of this can be compared to your initatory experience. Loosing a Child is the ultimate "sacrifice" (if that is even a proper term to be used in this context) that anyone can expect to experience.

    As humans we are not psychologically prepared for that, compared for how we as children are prepared for the death of our parents. You have set a good example how we as Magicians and Alchemists are able to deal with the Loss of losses. You and your family have my sympaties, my dear Frater.

    Fraternally in L.V.X.,

  14. Words fail me, brother. My prayers are with you and your family.

  15. There's nothing to say beyond what others have already said. we're praying for you. It is a testament to your strength and wisdom that you can still see the patterns of the Creator through such a tragedy.

  16. Thank you for posting this. It is witness to your quiet grace and wisdom, which I have long admired. May the gods comfort you.

    There is a lot of talk in occulture about working with the Dead but little about the experience of grief and loss. In alchemical terms, IMO, grief can act as the Secret Fire. That and the personal confrontation with death also comprise part of the wisdom that we as mortals have that the gods lack.

    One of the things I learned from the losses I have experienced is that all we have is now. Another is something you advise in the end of your post--the importance of expressing love now so that when loss comes--and it will--grief is not accompanied by regret.

    I like your insight about Salt being Saturnian. Very apt--drying, preserving, narrowing. I have also found after a lifetime of fleeing from him that Saturn is more maligned than malefic and is a surprisingly protective (and very productive) energy.

  17. @Fraters

    Thank you all very much! I've been very busy, and have had little time to make personal replies; just want you to know I appreciate all of your words and prayers.

  18. I am sorry to hear of your loss, Frater. My deepest condolences. I'll include you and yours in my prayers.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick overview of Simple Spagyric Technique

The following is a simple rundown for creating Spagyric tinctures and Elixirs, from the manuscript 'Book of the Blossoming Flower." I wrote it so that there would be a baseline, unobfuscated understanding of how to make Spagyric products with extremely basic tools. I posted something similar earlier, but without explaining much as far as how the steps relate to the classic alchemical progression. So, here we are!
Making a Spagyric Tincture
1.Take up your plant, and on the Day/Hour corresponding to the energy you wish to refine (Planet, Element, or Sign.) Chop the plant into fine pieces on your cutting board, beginning the Mortificatio stage. Sunrise on the Day corresponding to a planet is best-for astrological forces. I had success capturing the Astrological powers by beginning the work when the Sign is in the Ascendant, preferably during an Elemental Tide that corresponds to the Triplicity the Sign is associated with. For Elemental powers, I have found that beginning the work …

Bullshit Siddhis

Nsala malongo,
So.....powers. They exist. You work your alchemy, and they start popping up.
It isn't what you expect.
It's not like the comics.
Subtle things happen. You get a little something here, a big something there. Some of them appear useless at first.
Some years ago, after work in the upper cinnabar field, I gained the dubiously awesome ability to see a sort of spirit double floating around people. At first I was BEYOND stoked, and thought I was well on my way toward ascension from my normal state into a vicious and powerful spiritual overlord, as was foretold. By me. When I was like, fourteen.
Then, after the wonder wore off, I realized that this was absolutely useless. The double gave me no information about the person, no power to manipulate myself or the other. It was just there. So. Countless hours of heat and concentration, and the end result was this?

Of course it *was* useful in the long-run, as a mark of my developing spiritual sight. And continuing to wor…

Palo Mayombe


I've been engaged in a deep study of Frater Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold's work Palo Mayombe, and have been steadily amazed at the deep understandings within it. For a long time I've known some small measure of what Palo is--that it is a worship-centered religion, that it is necromantically powerful. I've also known what it isn't-- Palo is not just black magic, it isn't a club an African/Afro-Latino sorcerer wields to beat people over the head. That being said, engaging in metaphysical contests with it's practitioners is generally un-wise....they don't mess about. Palo Mayombe is a fierce religion, but it Is a religion.

What I didn't know was the true depths of it's Wisdom and alchemical understanding. That's right,alchemical understanding. Palo Mayombe isn't a simple practice. It's a multi-layered and living religious and alchemical practice, and it's grasp of the forces of life are unparalleled. It's spiritual technolo…