“Blood sacrifice gets a bad wrap.” The first words my fiancé and I heard last Saturday night, spoken by Occultist and Author, Andrieh Vitimus, as we walked into Spirit Apothecary in Bedford, Ohio. Andrieh Vitimus is author of the modern magical classic Hands on Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation Through the Ovayki Current. Vitimus is holds the highest initiatory rank in Haitian Vodou, that of Hougan Asogwe, is a Usui and Karuna Reiki Master, and NLP practitioner and a licensed hypnotherapist. Currently, Andrieh Vitimus is faculty at Peter Carroll’s Arconorium College. Andrieh is the host of the international successful radio show, Deeper down the Rabbit Show (ddtrh.com) and has taught at conventions across the Midwest including Starwood, Sirius Rising, Babylon Rising, Convocation, Real Witches Ball, various Pagan Prides and more.
Viewing a large selection of herbs, spices, and incense from the Apothecary I slurped on a bubble tea from the cafe and waited for Andrieh’s workshop on Chaos Magick to begin. Chaos Magic is a contemporary magical practice which emphasizes the pragmatic use of belief systems and the creation of new and unorthodox methods.
I always enter any new arena with a healthy dose of skepticism, and even though I am a practitioner of magick myself I doubt a lot of the New Age garbage that’s out there. This is all to say that I approached this workshop with an arsenal of questions and comments loaded and ready to fire. Just once, I wanted an occultist to level with me about their real experiences and not to inflate their personal stories about imagination and ritual. I had high hopes that Andrieh was this occultist.
The workshop was a part of a series of lectures given at this same location to a small group of students. This event was building on classes of the recent past so Andrieh wasted no time jumping in and picking up where he left off. He began talking about chaos magic at large, reminding us what it was, how it can be used and how we were to apply it to our lives. The tone of the evening was casual, the students asked a lot of questions (especially myself) and told a lot of stories; conversations flowed organically from one topic into another.
After about thirty minutes into the workshop Andrieh asked us to think of a spirit that we wanted to invoke. The other five people in the room seemed to have no problem choosing a spirit, but my fiancé and I gave each other a look of laughter. Without hesitation I demanded Andrieh give me his definition of ‘spirit’ so we could move forward using the same verbiage and understanding. He gave me the traditional textbook explanation of spirit: an energy capable of communication. He assured me that would be enough context for the exercise we were about to embark on.
With my magickal work, I don’t work with spirit. At least not in the sense of beings from an ethereal realm. I took out my phone and began googling lists of spirits and gods. This part of the workshop was moving rather quickly as everyone already had their spirit picked out. “Andrieh, said the store owner, “I will be using Thoth, is that fine? “Yes, that is fine, replied Andrieh. “Thoth, wow, an excellent choice! Great choice!” applauded a short, stocky, and sweaty man named Tom from the corner. More on Tom later.
I wanted to rally behind Thoth as well but I had no idea what the hell a Thoth was. Bad magickian! My fiancé and I chose something random and wrote it down. I went with Danu, “the Flowing One”. She is shrouded in mystery, she is very popular but little is known of her. We do know she was considered the most ancient of all the Celtic deities. She is the great mother of the gods, of Ireland and the divine creator who birthed all things into being. She is also an earth goddess. I haven’t the slightest what my fiancé picked. She doesn’t either.
Luckily both of our spirits were approved. The barometer for what a good spirit makes (for a casual night of magic at a café) is one that is not going to rip the fabric of reality with its fiery and hellish talons, curse our soul for eternity, ruin our relationships with loved ones and manifest nothing but negativity and ruin for us so long as we all shall live, Which makes Tom’s choice of Papa Legba – the cocaine snorting, baby killing spirit from American Horror Story: Coven – a bit surprising! In Haitian Vodou, Papa Legba is the loa who serves as the intermediary between the loa and humanity. He stands at a spiritual crossroads and gives (or denies) permission to speak with the spirits of Guinee, and is believed to speak all human languages.) OK, he doesn’t sound like that bad of a guy. Even more on Tom later.
With our spirit selected, we were asked to take all of the information that we knew about them and write an abstract poem using sensory verbs and adjectives. Nothing too literal, we were told. For example, if Papa Legba is a good communicator and a bridge between worlds then you might write something like:
“I pass over wooden bridges. Letters and words scattered, dizzying my sight, blowing in the cool winds which I can feel against my nude body, brrrr, penetrating through me -it tickles – messages swarming over warm rivers of light and imagination that heat up my feet as I pass through.”
Once everyone had finished writing we were asked to draw a circle on a plain blank sheet of paper. Andrieh told us this would be our altar and is, in fact, the simplest kind of altar you need to do magic; everything else is just for show. We then began a mindful meditation to get us in a calm and relaxed state. I’ll skip over the details and jump right into the point of it all.
“I want you to imagine sending all of the information you just wrote, which is the essence of your spirit, into this circle. Push it out through your fingertips. There. Your spirit now exists here in this circle. With eyes closed I want you to picture your circle in front of you. I want you to imagine a black dot at the center of that circle. It’s getting larger now. It is everything the spirit is, calling you, growing every second. Now it’s taking up the entire circle and you can begin to see it for what it is – it’s colors, it’s sounds, it’s textures, it’s voice. Take a few minutes to reflect on that and to truly feel what this spirit is doing to you.”
At this juncture, I became very relaxed. I don’t know if Andrieh’s procedure was working or if it was his voice soothing me or if I was just tired because it was 9 o’clock at night, but it seemed to be working. I was in a good headspace. My fiancé looked relaxed, too. Though just at that moment of chill I began hearing a loud series of groans and grunts in the corner of the room. It was Tom and he was really going through it. Body swaying back-and-forth, chair screeching and digging into the floor, face beat red, sweating more now, speaking in tongues, the works! Tom was meeting Papa Legba, who, by the way, seemed to be doing most of the talking.
Andrieh, with a comforting hand resting near Tom’s back, continued: “I want you to absorb all of the spirit energy back into your hands and back into your mind. We will close the circle now by having you open your eyes in three, two, one. Open.” So, what was the purpose of all of this? Well, Andrieh told us that by invoking a spirit that we wish to communicate with we are opening ourselves up to a network of creative and sometimes maniacal energy that seeks to help us on our journey through life. If this process is not played out with care then terrible things can and will happen to you. “Any further explanation of how this is even possible is beyond any of us,” he says. “But it works. I’ve been doing it for 30 years.” Once the workshop had ended I approached Andrieh to pry a little more and ask a few more personal questions for my research.
Me: Thank you so much for including me in this workshop. It was interesting and I had a wonderful time learning from you. Just a few questions if you don’t mind. When you say spirit you mean…?
Me: Would it be fair to call them energy instead?
AV: Of course.
Me: Would it also be fair to say that these spells are bringing out parts of the Self that we just forgot how to access? And that spirit is just another name for this process?
AV: Sure. Everything has a spirit. What is underneath an idea? Spirit. This room has a spirit, my coffee cup has a spirit, relationships have a spirit. We give form to spirit so that we can speak and understand them. Humans want to talk to things and it’s easier to put a face to an idea rather than just throwing it out there.
Me: I see. As a magickian I am trying to use art as the hook for getting people into magick. I feel like they are more willing to participate in a spell or whatever if they go into it with their make-believe goggles on. They can interact with my work, have it be successful and never have any question about why it worked because they will just assume it was their imagination and nothing more. Do you think this is a worthwhile approach?
AV: If you are asking if magick can produce external results, that is, aside from the transformation that happens inside oneself, then yes, it can. It does. Now as for whether or not art is a good guise for the occult… if you were a good enough artist you can get results from a weak person but not an average, high-barrier person. Art can work on a weak person. But I don’t think art in general cans of stain your vision for most things because you are putting magick in a box. You are limiting what magick can be by calling it art.