Sometimes, it's hard to say anything more than "woah." Maybe not this time, though.
A Floridian rationalist blogger — who asked me to remind readers if I decided to write about this that not all residents of Florida are wacky; consider it done! — sent me a link to the following. It's an entry written for the occult community on LiveJournal by another Floridian writing under the user ID meb21. She's gotten her hands on a magical book and is commanding angels to appear in her living room.
Using Konstantinos' book _Summoning Spirits_I have added the links to some of the ritual magic-related jargon in the above; I don't expect that most people who visit Hyphoid Logic would be familiar with the terms.
...Yesterday I decided to try one of the invocations in Konstantinos' book _Summoning Spirits_. After looking through the list of all the entities to invoke, I decided upon the angel Sandalphon...
My altar space is in a corner of my apartment. My main altar is set up on the North wall (I like my altars to face North; it just feels right to me). For the invocation, I set up a small table in the center of the space as a mini-altar, and set up the implements in the appropriate direction.
I did Opening by Watchtower, LBRP and BRH, then sat down behind the altar with the sigil of Sandalphon. My scrying mirror was on a shelf on the East wall, positioned so that when I was seated I could see it. The only light in the room was a floor lamp about five feet to my right (in the South) and I made sure that its' reflection didn't reflect in the mirror.
Per Konstantinos' instructions, I stared at the sigil for several minutes and repeated Sandalphon's name to establish a psychic link. Then, you're supposed to stare at the scrying mirror and allow your vision to open up and deliver the command to appear...
...I can see the outlines of auras and energy fields, etc., but their colors and shapes are communicated to me verbally in my mind...
...I kept seeing shapes and shadows in the mirror, perhaps with outlines of wings (that was my impression). I gave the command to appear again, a little more forcefully. And then I heard a voice in my head say, "Well, there's no need to be rude."
Hm. OK. So I asked the voice, "Who are you?"
"I am the master of Malkuth," it said. "I lived on earth as Elijah."
So at this point I believe I've contacted Sandalphon...
I start asking him some questions but I don't really get any earth-shattering answers about my spiritual path, more along the lines of "you're doing ok, keep going the way you're going".
One thing that was interesting: both my cats were in the living room while I was doing all this, and they were perfectly calm. I've heard that animals can detect spirits more readily, and neither of my cats were freaking out or acting any differently than they normally do.
While I was doing this, I noticed at one point that my mind started, er, drifting to thoughts and fantasies about sex...
When I read this, my first instinct was to wonder if this is any more outrageous or outré than any other religious ritual. Is it any less supportable to claim that one has commanded an angel to appear in one's living room than it is to think that Christ has appeared in a cracker, for example? I don't think so. To me, both are rather extraordinary assertions, to put it mildly.
Still, the idea that there are people who believe that they are talking to angels and Biblical prophets is a bit disturbing in some ways. If one is beginning from the position that such entities exist and are in a position to give advice approved by an all-powerful and all-knowing deity, at what point does one make the judgment that the advice should be acted upon or ignored? What if this woman, sitting in her apartment with her cats, seeing auras and summoning angels, had received advice along the lines of, "As the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, so should you sacrifice a child"? How would such a person test whether what they believed was an external and supernatural entity actually was such a thing as opposed to a "brief psychotic disorder?" I note that in the entry written by meb21, she makes no mention of performing such a test; she goes into whatever this experience is in actuality already convinced that an objective entity called Sandalphon (and Elijah, for that matter) exists. It has identified itself as the master of the material universe; if someone approached one on the street and made such a claim, the rational reaction would be something far into the skeptical end of thought. It would take extraordinary proof to back up such an outrageous claim, but no such proof is required in the narrative above.
In fact, the writer mentions that she is surprised that her cats didn't react to the presence of this supernatural force that has materialized in their midst. This isn't taken as evidence that what she's experiencing is a product of her own imagination; she has already accepted that it is an objective phenomenon that others can experience, so the lack of a response by her pets must be due to the good-hearted, peaceful nature of the entity with which she believes she is in communion. In her mind, there doesn't appear to be a more naturalistic explanation for her cats' failure to react as one would expect.
Note that I'm not trying to imply that this particular sorcerer is necessarily a danger to others. Frankly, I have no way of knowing that. She may very well be a warm and lovely person who wouldn't dream of causing harm to another with so much as a barbed comment. She may be a harmless crank making up stories to get attention. She could be someone on the verge of snapping and going on a shooting rampage at the post office. I am in no position to make any such judgment based on what she has actually written. The fact that she has experienced some degree of sexual stimulation is, to me, a little disquieting. I can't explain why that should be; it seems inappropriate and so potentially disordered, but I don't know enough about human psychology to explain why that I should think that.
I suppose my question and admitted discomfort with this sort of thing boils down to that question; how does one test it before taking for granted that the advice one has asked for is not a product of a mental aberration? I can't think of a good way of testing this beginning from the position of belief exhibited by the author.
A subsidiary question to this is, how would you feel if you found out that conjuration like this was going on in the house or apartment next to your own? If you heard strange chanting from your next door neighbor and the next day he or she told you that an angel had appeared in his or her domicile to deliver advice of divine origin as to how they should behave, would you feel uncomfortable, perfectly happy, scared for your life..?