Feast of the Assumption: Both an End and a Beginning

Mary Assumption

IMAGE CREDIT: “Ave” by Mary Angelico

Okay, so today’s the Feast of the Assumption. It’s my favorite feastday, and when my first student and I tried to start a magical order in the late 90s, the rubrics for the Discipulus Regni ritual mandated that grade’s initiation take place on this day.

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I’m not sure what’s more ironic, the fact we tried starting an order, or the fact we actually attracted about 14 people with almost no advertising or even organization between 1999 and 2002.

Yet the question is, why the Feast of the Assumption? Why set the beginning of one’s path on this particular day?

The answer can be summed up with the Dies Irae, namely the face that sequence was not originally intended for the Mass for the Dead, but instead for the First Sunday of Advent. What we have here is an illustration of the cyclical nature of time, with the universe’s end set before us at the year’s beginning.

The doctrine of Mary’s Assumption, likewise, sets before us the image of the end. Not the world’s end, but the end of a life well-lived and a reward well-earned. This is illustrated by its spiritual fruit when we pray the Holy Rosary: the grace of a happy death.

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“Assumption of Mary” by Hieronymous Wierix.

For those who think esotericism is an exercise in needless eclecticism, one could perhaps draw parallels with the Nineteenth Key of the Major Arcana, where the “upright” meaning relates to a worked-for reward deservedly won, the crossing of a finish line of sorts. Or at least that’s the meaning you’ll find in beginner-level books like Eden Gray’s The Complete Guide to the Tarot. In fact a liturgically-savvy eclectic could even point to the Feast’s introit as corroborating the connection to this card: Signum magnum appáruit in caelo: mulier amícta SOLE: et luna sub pédibus ejus…

(Okay, in fairness I read that book when I was six, and that’s the meaning that stays stuck in my head. I’m not a Tarot reader so don’t judge.)

Tarot_19_Sun

This is one of those times where the eclectic would actually be right. The card of The Sun conveys a sense of optimism and successfully traversing through the darkest night (compare to Key XVIII, The Moon), and the Spiritual Fruit of the Assumption – the reward of a happy death – likewise conveys an optimism that we shall have progressed victoriously on the path of divinization by the time of our life’s end, that we shall see the Son once this time of “geméntes et flentes in hac lacrimárum valle” comes to its end.

Back to the Discipulus Regni grade, I say the hope we have for our end is an appropriate image to place before our beginning. This gives us a definite plan and a definite impetus to persevere (the fifth of the Five Keys explained in the Introspector grade; this lecture is now part of the Epilogue to The Magic of Catholicism).

It is through persevering, likewise, that we refine the base metal that is our initial state upon birth into the golden metal of the soul’s inner sun, and in the Mystery of the Assumption we have Mary’s perseverance as our example to press forward and stay the course no matter what is lost or gained, as she herself stayed the course even during the wrongful torture and execution of her Son.

This contemplation – the wrongful torture and execution of her Son – leads us further to contemplate the power of a mother’s love and how she persevered even through the pain of what unfolded before her eyes. We have our own pains and our own crosses to bear, our own demons to fight, and our own problems to conquer. She conquered hers through staying focused on the reason for the mission, just as we too may conquer by remaining focused on ours.

This, right here, is why I fixed the date of a first-degree initiation on the Feast of the Blessed Mother’s Assumption, and why, if I were ever to found a serious magical school, I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat: because she is a true “Inner Plane Adept” and “Ascended Mistress,” thus it is proper to place her before the new initiate’s eyes – on this day of her triumph over the physical plane’s limitations – as an example and guide as we go forth in the path toward our own spiritual victory.

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Why Don’t I Use the Luminous Mysteries?

Praying Rosary

Earlier today I fielded a question from Alex of the Glitch Bottle podcast (my interview with him is here), asking me:

Hi Agostino Taumaturgo – quick (general) Rosary question. What is the reason you do not use the Luminous Mysteries, aside from the reason that it is not part of the “Traditional” mysteries? Of course this makes sense, but I was wondering if there was a canonical reason or other reasons I could give to Catholics who ask me why I don;t use the Luminous. Thanks!

I get this question fairly often, so Alex inspired me to write a blog post. You rock, dude!

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Occult Clergy and Lay Calumny

Persecuted Priest

The past 24 hours put me in the middle of an unpleasant conversation. However I think the reflections are worth sharing, so here’s the story:

On a group I manage, a recent member mentioned how she’s a student under “esoteric ISM bishop” (name withheld) and she’s getting a lot out of his teachings. Now a visit to said bishop’s website left me with more questions than answers, but any misgivings on my part are neither here nor there. He’s neither breaking my leg nor picking my pocket, so it doesn’t concern me; if she’s getting the spiritual food she needs then I’m happy for her, full stop.

Another member of the group expressed his misgivings about said bishop, and while his concerns were valid if we’re talking about clergy in the mainstream churches (I moved the conversation to PM because I wanted to hear more of the story), it brings a question of how we should approach talking about clergy in our particular subculture.

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Review of “Italian Folk Magic” by Mary-Grace Fahrun

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When medigani talk about “Italian Folk Magic,” they’re talking about something that goes by more names than there are regions in Italy and exists as an amorphous mass of folk religion, superstition, and empirical observation, and defies the attempt at being neatly defined or categorized. In her debut title Italian Folk Magic, Mary-Grace Fahrun doesn’t make the mistake of trying.

Instead, Fahrun takes the autobiographical approach, beginning on a Saturday in 1974 when a visit from a “Signora Cristina” left one of her cousins with “The Eye” and what the women in her family did next to remove it. Ironically I was born in 1974, but I digress.

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Why Cutting Dead Weight Is Good for You

Baggage

In the not-for-the-squeamish story Necromancer, an underlying theme has the protagonist progressively shedding all links to his previous life.

Now I don’t know much about the author except that I suspect he’s from Michigan; his word-choices remind me of when I lived in western MI, and the characters in TRASH specifically remind me of the Maple Valley Estates trailer park outside Zeeland, despite the scene in the bar where they’re depicted as southern (even as close by as Ohio, trailer parks have a decidedly different feel). But what I do know is that he’s outlining an important process for anyone following a spiritual or “occultic” path: you’ve gotta let it go. Continue reading

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Christ and Mythology

This is excellently written. Notice the careful wording and the (IMHO important) discussion of what Pagans themselves had to say about Christianity. Give this blog a follow!

The Chequer-board of Nights and Days

I was browsing though stuff on an external hard drive recently and found a few documents that I’d written that I thought might be worth making into blogs posts.  The following essay was originally written as an email response to a friend with whom I was having a discussion.  It has been edited slightly, but still may sound a bit like an email.  I think it holds up, for all that, so I’m leaving it essentially as I found it with only very light editing.  Enjoy!

You said awhile back that I hadn’t told you my views of the dying-god myths of Classical antiquity (e.g., Venus and Adonis, and so on).  As I said, I’ve actually told you my opinion before, which is that such things aren’t really relevant, but I will elaborate.

Let me begin with an analogy.  We know that Leif Erikson discovered North America, a.k.a. Vinland, in…

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Magic Is Good, Until It’s Not

ChristusRexOmega-Piero di Cosimo - Pentagram

“Now thaumaturgy and natural magic are in themselves good and lawful, as any art is of itself good. But it may happen to become unlawful: first, when it is done for an evil purpose; second, when it gives rise to scandal being thought to be done with the help of demons; third, when it involves any spiritual or bodily danger to the conjurer or the spectators.”

— Fr. Francesco Maria Guazzo, Compendium Maleficarum, 1608. Book I, Chapter 2.

I can’t help but find a changing attitude about magic in the years after the Council of Trent. Now don’t get me wrong, because magic was never fully authorized even in the best of times (though an educated magician typically had an easier time than uneducated folk magicians and witches), but there’s still a change of mentality.

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