The Business of Ritual
(Selections From a Letter)

(Notes on belief, magickal physics, magickal ethics and business practices as they relate to rituals. It's relevant to those who want to organize ritual circles.- Luis.)


Dear (deleted):


Following up on our discussion of the philosophies, physics and business of ritual phenomena and practice.


What I have drived from my somewhat hurried conversations with you so far, and from Jim Haskins' book, is that you are a historian and a practitioner of and believer in Voodoo conjure and ritual.


I would put Voodoo belief or philosophy into 4 categories.


1. Belief that Voodoo phenomena result from communicating with real spirits and that the power of conjure is total.


2. Some practitioners, rather than believing in the power of conjure, regard their practice as being a "con". They feel that their task is to convince people that they have conjure powers that they themselves feel they do not have. Some do have some belief in conjure power but occasionally have self-doubts that they really have some mastery of it.


3. Many modern believers additionaly believe, as quoted in the Haskins book; "As in all belief, the power of suggestion is the most potent ingredient." and "As in all remedies, the force of positive thinking is the great healer. And, as in all magic, it is the magical powers of the mind which accomplish true sorcery."


4. Belief in a modern version of Kammerer's Seriality that takes into account that space-time is curved (Einstein's Special Relativity, the Lorentz Metric and Riemannian Geometry)and reality is non-local (Bell's Theorem).


For people who have little experience in quantum physics, this last one is very difficult to intuit. However deep it is, though, it is certainly not some deep philosophical mumbo-jumbo. Space-time is curved. And, the conclusions of Bell's Theorem (reality is non-local) has been tested and proven in different ways by senior phisicists from CERN to Livermore since its discovery in the 1960's. There are no senior quantum physicists who believe otherwise. Call one at Tulane and you'll see.


When both spacetime and non-local geometries are applied to Kammerer's Seriality, the result, known as "interconnectivity", is the explanation for all real "paranormal" phenomena. (Which I guess makes them, technically speaking, not so "paranormal" anymore.) This includes the psychic phenomena; telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, the spiritual phenomena; visitations, ghosts, Jesus Christ, and various combinations of the two; conjure, tarot, healing, astrology, etc. (This is not meant to discount the effects of the power of suggestion, as mentioned in 3. above, which is more psychologic than paranormal.)


In plain language, all "things", objects, words, thoughts, qualities, numbers, etc. are connected to all other things that have any similarities. All things red, or numbered 24, or divisable by 3, or named Joseph, or large or small, or spelled similar like Hoodoo and Voodoo, or synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, or happened to be at one time in a certain location, or born under the same astrologic signs, or thought of by different persons, etc. are connected together. And since there are miriad connections, all things are connected to all things through other things! (The mathematical model for this interconnectivity is called Hilbert Space, a multidimensional construct.)


Kammerer hypothesized that all similarly related things attracted each other with a force proportional to their similarities. If Mary is thinking about telephoning you, you may think of her shortly before the phone rings. This was before the introduction of Special Relativity and Kammerer, a biophysicist, could not prove his theory since it was hard to see how things separated by distances could attract each other by similarity. We now know that distance and time are not separable, but attached to one another. Kammerer's Seriality, working according to the laws of modern physics, is the first law of interconnectivity.


That this also explains Voodoo, conjure, psychic and spiritual phenomena (hereinafter, "craft") was not the primary goal of physicists; it just resulted from investigation into why the universe works the way it does.


All this puts modern "craft" in new perspective, and the modern practitioner now has access to better "tools".


One of the reasons conjure work does not work sometimes is that other similarities conflict or prevail. Obviously, no one has ever been able to get a spirit of goodwill to cause ill will. On a subtler level, since all things are connected, there are an infinite number of influences. The best way to conjure is to make sure all details connected to the conjure are as one with the motive. Obviously, the best way to do this is to keep details at a minimum. (Direct action is the absolute minimum; you want to lose weight, go on a diet.) Another example is the use of symbols in the Tarot. A picture of 5 coins does not have much connectivity as a sentence explaining what that picture represents. A green candle does not have as much connectivity as a green candle with a dollar bill taped to it.


Since so many cultures try to achieve the same goals with so many different rituals, it is obvious that one could scientifically synthesize rituals that would focus directly on the selected goal.


This brings us to the subject of good versus evil in "craft". Obviously, if one wishes to practice good, the less they have to do with evil, the more effective they become. But things can get more serious than this.


For centuries, people have noted that, "Those that live by the sword, etc.", "What goes around, etc." With interconnectivity, it is easy to see why this is. Haskins, pg 213, (1990), mentions the effect of practicing evil conjure in talking about the vil lage of Oyotunji, "And strange ills had begun to beffall the village - animals died, people got sick...and there was strife among the villagers."


I have witnessed this result on several occasions when drummers had innocently gotten involved with Chango, who they believed was the god of drummers. In actuality, he is more involved with crime and death. Thousands have died at the hands of his followers. The inevitable result was that they began to have "bad luck", became heroin addicts, drunks or convicted of felonies.


Many people who practice Voodoo think that their broken down car, problems in business, or health problems are just the result of bad luck, when a more realistic view may be that they have just seen too many chickens killed. You really can't separate a cruel deed from the reality of your part in it and its connection to other ill fortunes. Each time you participate in a sacrifice, the connection to the ritual knife gets a little closer to your own neck.


"Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in." -Baltasar Gracian.


"Good is that which makes for unity; evil is that which makes for separateness."   -Aldous Huxley.


I got some impression in my conversations with you that you may think it may be necessary to have some content of sacrifice or appeal to malevolent, bloody or warlike spirits to have a complete, historically authentic Voodoo. My reply:


a. If intent to include malevolent rites is designed to attract more interest from tourists, it fails in two ways.


1. Once your reputation is established in benevolent rites, people will feel more welcome and safer in the more open environment.


2. Malevolent practice hurts itself and all those around it; as a consequence, there is less repeat business.


b. Malevolent content is not, historically, part of the origins of Voodoo. This is easily shown in the historical anthropological record, if you want evidence, just ask.


c. Although later Voodoo did include such things as human sacrifice, surely no one claims that it is essential. Practitioners have always usually had some self imposed limitations on what they will and will not do. Practitioners who rely on no malevole nt spirits are within the normal range of Voodoo practice, and although not as notorious, generaly are regarded more highly.


d. Although malevolent acts in the physical realm may destroy whole countries, in the spiritual realm, benevolent practice is more effective. Malevolent rites may be impressive, but rarely do they exhibit more than feeble power. Usually, any effect the y have is purely psychological. Any malevolent spell can be broken almost casually. Benevolent practice produces all the great miracles.


e. Benevolent practice is much more likely to attract favorable public and private support.


f. Malevolent content is bad for business. It is not professional spiritualism and it is not professional business. It is an aberration. Like crooked business is to real business or sickness is to good health, or bad scholarship is to good scholarship .


g. Perhaps, as quoted earlier from the Haskins book, you may believe only that suggestion, positive thinking and the mind are responsible for paranormal phenomena. Even so, sound business practice, ethics, politics and good taste suggests that one shoul d stay away from animal sacrifice and appeals to malevolent spirits.


My reputation as the greatest ritual drummer to have ever walked the planet (Jim was not known for his modesty. Luis) results from my being a serious and independent scholar. There is a reason why I'm so far ahead of other drummers and it will tend to e xplain a lot about how I can see beyond the veil. Einstein had an IQ of between 150 and 170, depending on the test. I've been found to be between 160 and 190. Some say one would have to be at least a 150 to pierce the fog of reality.


It would be almost trivial to convince various tourist and heritage foundations that they should support (and fund) an organization that will highlight the benevolent aspects of Voodoo as a way of combating its evil stereotyping. Throwing all support to one side of the issue would have some historical impact.


What else can I say?


If you sell potions intended to harm people, this must also influence your life, there is no escaping it. If you actually use these things yourself in ritual, the influence is that much greater.


When one contemplates the life of Marie Laveau, does one see a beautiful woman with a benevolent existence, or turmoil and sadness. All Voodoo does not have to be this way.


Authentic Voodoo ritual does not have to have animal sacrifice or call negative spirits. Historically, the most powerful ritualists resorted to neither. And never has a practitioner of the dark side that won in battle against a practitioner of light. This is because the dark side is weakened by its own darkness while the light side is strengthened by its light. It's obvious.


I do intend, as far as I become involved in New Orleans Voodoo, to clean house. I have long ignored negative conjurers; their incantations have absolutely no effect on my well being. I spiritual battle on neutral ground, they have proved weak.


What eventually happens to these people, I don't know, unless it's reported in the news. On the other hand, there are ritualists who concentrate on doing good, like certain nuns, for instance, who became known as saints.


Jim's Notes: A Course in Drumming