In the previous chapter we explored the nature of poison, its relation to magic and the concept of transformation. In this post we will return to our first assumption and explore its relation to the magical chalice specifically. Where previously we asked ‘What is the nature of the poison we are dealing with?’ we will now approach the problem from the opposite direction and ask ‘What is the nature of the container that aims to contain the poison?`.
“One meets, along the path, the sorcerer who wears no clothes, reads no book, and fashions no implements or tools. In the places of desolation, he or she calls upon the gods with the living blood and bones, and the somatic permutations which cast the circle as the Living Round of Flesh.” (VENEFICIUM, p.129)
As above so below and as on the outside so on the inside. Most practitioners of Western ritual magic are used to create their magical implements on the material realm, i.e. on the outside. Some of them progress from there and learn to craft their paraphernalia on the astral level just as carefully. However, few magicians to my knowledge would even consider the question on how to prepare these tools within themselves? How to activate the magical circle that is described by the skin of our body, how to charge the chalice that runs freely through our veins, or how to handle the wand that is made from our living bone?
What we are confronted with essentially is a question of boundary. Where do we draw that invisible line between Self and Otherness? Do we trace it outside of our bodies, through the shapes and forms of the material realm? Or does it penetrate right through us, intertwine with our bones and blood and skin and weave and wave through the cells and atoms that form the lose circle that confines our consciousness?
Poison requires boundaries in order to take effect. As we found before, the nature of poison is to initiate transformation; thus it requires any kind of form it is injected into to trigger the changes aligned to its nature.
“In the case of magical self-poisoning, poison is the means that allows for externally induced transgression of borders. In the case of poisoning others - as we see it being used in the plant and animal realm - poison is the means that allows for defensive maintenance of one own’s borders or even for offensive use as a weapon.” (VENEFICIUM, p.25)
Magical boundaries is a subject still relatively unexplored and little understood in Western Magic. One could argue that the magical exploration of this concept is lacking so much behind, that there are other disciplines in Western academia magicians can turn to in order to learn and steal from to facilitate a deeper understanding of borders and boundaries in magic. Such disciplines would certainly be macro- and micro-physics, biology as well as psychology.
What all these disciplines will tell us as the most basic idea of boundaries in nature is that without them there is no such thing as an individual. It’s the very nature of each individual being to differentiate oneself from the rest of the tribe, pack, swarm, grove, etc. The most essential way of achieving this separation is the direct circumference of the border of one’s own being, i.e. the erection and lifelong maintenance of a boundary made of fiber, of bark, of skin or fur...
This is what creates the magical chalice. The moment a boundary is formed, we have found the line that differentiates between inside and outside. The circle is drawn, the cup has come into existence, the qlippoth is formed. Thus we realise it is the very nature of any individual existence - and certainly of any organic being - to be qlippothic. And it is the nature of poison to challenge the state and scale not only of this circumference, but also of what is contained within.
“In such a conception the magical radiance of the Body is sovereign, and self-contained, but it is also permeable and penetrable by the Other, existing as a potential infinite magical power. Above all it expresses the Arcanum, that in order to manifest the work of the Art Magical, power must be embodied.” (VENEFICIUM, p.129/130)
Well, this quote reminds me of what I mentioned about Schulke’s language earlier? Yet it also reminds me of the unique perspective he provides. Because what this quote really means is that true magical power is not gained through strength alone, but through strength in combination with elasticity. Magical power is nothing but a measure for how well a body facilitates contact between Self and Otherness. It is a measure for how elastic and resilient still the borders of the individual are - once touched and penetrated by the poisons of Otherness.
There is a wonderful ancient Tibetan magical defense technique you might have heard of? When attacked by a demon so powerful and overwhelming that a sorcerer could not defend themselve, he or she would simply give themselves up. Not to the demon, but to the land that surrounds them. They would dissolve their body and being and become one with the lake, one with the grass, one with a flock of birds or the wind in the branches. This transformation doesn't weaken the power of the demon’s attack at all - but it takes away its aim by dissolving all boundaries.
Maybe this example can illustrate the interplay of strength and elasticity that underlies true magical power? The magical chalice is not made of gold or silver or wood. It is made of consciousness that dissolves and re-assembles in split seconds. It is made of what is in-between. It is made of a deep magical mystery.
Exploring this mystery is what we can call walking on the Poison Path. At the end of this path lies the corporeal assumption of something that has come to be known as the ‘Edenic Body’. Other traditions call it the crystal or rainbow body.
“In obscure magical tributaries of witchcraft praxis, this concept is known as the Edenic Body, the concept of ‘the Garden Within’ - a state of primordial power, its bowers bearing the strangest and most potent fruits - before the imposition of exterior ‘garb’.” (VENEFICIUM, p.129)
Amongst other elements Schulke points the reader in a direction of poisonous herbs, some of them psychoactive, and the subsequent induced attavistic journeys, in order to approach such bodily transformation. My own path leads through a very different terrain, working this inner alchemy with poisons flowing from inner contacts and spiritual beings rather than nature’s Outer Garden. i.e. herbs, mushrooms and the brew of the witches cauldron.
Realizing such diversity of paths - without trying to blur them all into one - is what helps us acknowledge and ultimately maintain the richness of our Western magical tradition. As active practitioners, however, each one of us will need to make a conscious choice which one of them to follow. Progress on any type of Poison Path is only achieved through years of hard work and devotion. Through strength and elasticity.