As you might expect, we receive a considerable amount of email from people who have Tool related questions, with the majority of the inquires pertaining to the band's new recording, including the official release date, album title, track listings, any singles it may eventually spawn, art design/packaging, videos, future tour plans, support acts, venues, and even how one goes about obtaining a back stage pass. And then there are those Tool enthusiasts who are seemingly more concerned with times past, those in quest of the fabled - er - elusive live DVD (some who rummage through fan sites in search of bits and pieces [usually disseminated via the interminable rumor mill], and others who ceaselessly engage in Baconian follies - er -methods closer to home). Scrolling through these testaments of loyalty on a near daily basis (even glancing over the querist clones), I usually reply that, although I'd be more than happy to answer any questions, unfortunately my hands are tied. For you see, such specifics are often compartmentalized to better ensure any premature leaks resulting in frivolous litigation and all kinds of bootlegging mischief. Also, incredible as it may seem to the average fan, in some instances even the members of the band, themselves, aren't exactly sure what's going on with regards to certain aspects of a specific project. Whether they are distracted by more artistic endeavors, extracurricular and/or recreational activities, or this is all part of some darker global conspiracy, I honestly can't say, but the fact remains that, at times, not everyone involved is absolutely certain where the goods are, other than hoping that they're in a safe place.
So, I had a brilliant idea: Why not attempt to divine the answers to some of these perplexing questions by tapping into the spirit world (i.e. interrogating those who haven't [yet] signed a confidentiality agreement). And what better way to accomplish this than by utilizing that reliable implement of both Victorian-age spiritualists and 1970s pubescent baby-sitters? Of course, I'm referring to that controversial "talking board" of parlor games and novelty shops trademarked OUIJA. Now, before you turn away in disgust as if to avoid a projectile torrent of split-pea soup, please understand that in consulting the "mystical oracle", I'm not talking about dredging up Captain Howdy/Pazuzu from some chthonic residence, nor a deceased relative whose tinny voice can't be heard through all the white noise. No, I'm talking about opening a portal "across the pressing dark" in hopes of facilitating a legitimate encounter with a trans-mundane entity, perhaps a cooperative Elemental being summoned from its lower astral kingdom by means of the Calls and Keys of the Enochiana.
Believing that using such a tool (in conjunction with proper ceremonial magick techniques) through which to communicate about TOOL might at the very least make for an interesting experiment, with the blessing of the band's management and the occult cognoscenti, I decided to remove the violet silk wrap from my store-bought oracle, a vintage (1967) Parker Brothers (of Salem, Mass!) deluxe edition Ouija board complete with a wooden planchette that survived all these years without having its faux bird's-eye maple design broken into seven pieces and sprinkled with Holy water before being buried in the backyard of some tormented soul in the grips of the Devil or merely plagued by curious side phenomena (Kenneth Grant's Tangential Tantra).
But first there were other considerations. Placing the "talking board" on a small table in the middle of the room, I began thinking about just what kind of Elemental being would be suitable for this particular working - that is, keeping in mind the pliancy of the lower astral realm, exactly what qualities should I seek when summoning and binding into the Triangle of Manifestation (i.e. the transparent plastic message indicator) a spirit that is fairly low in the elemental hierarchy, especially knowing that such beings are notorious liars (or tricksters if you'd prefer)? Because these communications (FAQ) involved the band TOOL, the element (as the quaternary [four principles or distinct classes of reality] was understood by the ancients) I associate most with their artistic concepts and symbolism is water, that which is associated with the unconscious depths of the human mind. Therefore, I chose to conjure an elemental spirit from the Enochian Elemental Tablet of Water, in particular one from Earth of Water subangle.
It's not my intent here to go into great detail about such things as one's Holy Guardian Angel (being one's Higher Self or latent genius) nor the pros and cons of Lesser or Greater Marriages with regards to human neural circuitry once something has been invoked into the Magick Circle, but due in part to the mercurial nature of such Elemental beings (perhaps mirroring our shadow personalities within), as initiators of the Elementals, serious practitioners of the Magickal Arts will tell you, not only about the necessity of the balance of forces, but about the intimate alliance that needs to first be forged with beings of a higher spiritual order so to better ensure success during such operations. Having said this, although I decided to evoke one of the resident denizens of the lower astral plane in order to communicate with it, I initially invoked specific angels from a quadrant of the Elemental Tablet, including a particular Kerub that I sought to vitalize (or "supercharge" using modern parlance, thus endowing it with archangelic characteristics) by a certain method of prefixing the appropriate letter extracted from the Tablet of Union which is also known as "The Black Cross." (You could think of this 'intensifier' as part the consecration of my elemental weapons.) For we read in Crowley's Liber AL vel Legis ,CAP II, V, 49: "I am unique & conqueror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned & dead! Amen. (This is of the 4: there is a fifth who is invisible, & therein am I as a babe in an egg.)
Once united with the divinity of the presiding angels, one hopes that the astral elemental generated from a sigil and called to tangible appearance has attained, Qabalistically speaking, Tiphareth aspects of consciousness and, as such, is above the antics of those who wander in Yesod's shadows, or, even worse, wallow in the Malkuthian mire. Such is the reciprocal relationship - one beneficial to both the magician and the discarnate spirit that becomes ever more abstract with its manifestation, clothed now in the projections of the magician's inward aspirations, summoned from the elemental kingdom to both protect and do his/her bidding.
But herein lies the problem. Elementals, by their very nature, are shape-shifters - sub-human nature spirits with no inherent form that are able to "change according to their whim and the mind that sees them" (Y.B. Yeats). If the magician is not properly trained to deal with certain forces that might unleashed, while in the process of mutating, they just as easily clothe themselves in the garb of one's more dangerous unconscious proclivities, including any wandering personal thoughts that are not sufficiently bound (this as determined by the law of creation in the elemental's sphere of existence). Writing about such subconscious meanderings in his book De Arte Magica, Crowley gives us the allegory of the Leprechaun who "by all manner of tricks doth seek ever to divert the attention of him that hath made him prisoner", thus depriving the captor of a great treasure. Described in this manner, the little prankster sounds kind of cute. However, such is not the case when it comes to animating or semi-animating those shells known as the qlippoth (often defined as the discarded energy of the deceased), that which elementals utilize in order to manifest themselves into a visible appearance.
Whether or not these qlippoth are lingering shells or shades of once conscious persons, or as envisioned by Kenneth Grant as "subconscious automata inhabiting the human psyche at levels normally inaccessible to the conscious mind", they are the medium which elemental spirits 'coher' to, being the matrix, go-between or bridge by which they cross over into our realm of existence. Although many modern occultists consider such shells to contain valuable magical formulae, trafficking with those who dwell below the Abyss of the Qabalistic Tree of Life can have straitjacket consequences. And the stakes are even higher if we consider Grant's other definition that qlippoth are "the more dangerous remnants of once highly organized elementals that drag out a twilight existence by vampirizing the living." This is why, once evoked it is best to keep the elemental tethered inside the triangle/planchette, and not to allow them to become overly married to one's neural circuitry. For this reason, at the first sign of trouble, some magicians recommend threatening the astral entity with attacks from the demon Choronzon in order to take away its much-cherished bout with independence. Still, others will tell you that when summoning any elemental being (realizing its unpredictable tendencies) it is far better to eliminate most of the guesswork beforehand so as to be able to control it right from the start.
If using the Enochian system, this is accomplished in part by consulting the Four Great Watch-Towers or Elemental Tablets and the Tablet of Union (Black Cross). In order to begin the Working, it was first necessary to obtain the 'addresses' of certain angelic spirits of ZODINU (water) to be invoked by choosing letters from the squares in the Great Quadrangle of the West (of the Elemental Tablet). Although seemingly complex, once understood, this is a fairly simple process these days as much of the original system of Enochian Magick has found its way into print and, more importantly, has been elucidated by contemporary researchers (although there are certainly disagreements between scholars as to which system works best and which one is more faithful to the 'original' series of 16th-century communications that were delivered to John Dee and Edward Kelley). Over the years, the powerful system of ceremonial magick has been modified numerous times, especially by the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Admittedly, this can be terribly confusing at times with its inconsistencies such as alternative spellings, color schemes, and even which letters are deemed appropriate with regards to forming the name of the "God" that rules a particular Kerubic Angel of any given subangle of the Elemental Tablets.
But just to give the casual reader an idea of the basic hierarchy of these Four Great Watch-Towers, in working with the Tablet of Water we invoke "spiritual creatures" like HCOMA, the spirit (quintessence) of water whose name is found in the Tablet of Union also called the Black Cross. Then there are the three Holy Names ruling water: MPH ARSL GAIOL, and its Elemental King whose name, RAAGIOSL, is derived by extracting the letters formed by a clockwork whorl around the center of the Great Central Cross (of the subangle). There are the six Seniors with their planetary associations (here omitted): LAOAXRP, LSRAHPM, SOAIXNT, SAIINOV, SLGAIOL and LIGDISA and, more for our purposes, the divine names ruling sub-elements of the Calvary Cross of Earth of Water: MALADI, OCAAD (of course, there are also demonic names ruling sub-elements of Earth of Water: IDALAM, DAALO). Then there is the Kerubic Angel MAGL and the "God" that governs it once the name is prefixed (with other letters also being rearranged) by a somewhat familiar process involving Enochian permutations. And finally, the Elemental to be evoked for the Working that is drawn from one of the remaining 16 squares beneath the arms of the Calvary Cross in the subangle attributed to Earth of Water in the Elemental Tablet.
After this, I needed to determine the correct sequence of Enochian Calls or Keys to be used for invocations of the Earth subangle of the Water Tablet. This, as it turned out, was 4 and 11. For those not familiar with the system, here's an English translation of the fourth Enochian Key:
Next, it was just a matter of getting the other participants together, including the two sitters who'd be working the board and a scribe to record things that a tape recorder can't detect, such as the message indicator suddenly flying around the room, or the plastic pointer repeatedly tracing figure eights on the surface of the Ouija Board. (I'm kidding, of course.) I say "just" a matter, but for an operation like this to be successful, it's the symbiotic relationship of human bio-magnetism (i.e. between the Fra. And Srr.), and not a spooky atmosphere, that's truly important so as not to 'ground' the board. With sexual polarity utilized in conjunction with proper magickal procedures, interesting things begin to happen.
In explaining how a Ouija Board works, those of a more scientific bent (or those who are just plain skeptical) like to talk about something called the ideomotor effect, suggesting, or, rather, insisting that it's purely physiological - that it's the involuntary and unconscious motor behavior of an individual which causes the planchette to slide across the board, (although they are a bit more hard pressed to explain how mere muscular movements account for the coherent messages spelled out, not to mention impressive literary works). Granted, the ideomotor response and other more banal psychological factors might account for some of the less interesting, more random phenomena associated with "talking boards" (along with passive trance states and the more dubious aspects of 19th-century spiritualism, which probably accounts for the "mystical oracle's" reputation as an object of superstitious folly or as a game of ignorant dabbling), but when the board is used with correct magickal protocol, especially by a competent magician, what once only held the subtle fascination of a child's toy, is now capable of opening a spatial gateway through which definite trans-mundane intelligences can manifest themselves in the material plane. If you think about it, in principle, the idea of an astral entity being responsible for moving the pointer over various letters and numbers in order to spell out a message is very similar to how the angelic conversations were imparted to Dee and Kelley all those centuries ago, and with its painted alphanumeric design, the Ouija Board even resembles the Holy equipment Dee was instructed to prepare for the Enochian séances, only not nearly as elaborate.
It was now time to set up the astral Temple and prepare a magick Circle for the Working. As is usually the case, I dispensed with most of the ceremonial paraphernalia (props) that Hollywood is so fond of, as well as any superfluous beseechments, using only that which I deemed mandatory. I unplugged any electrical devices in the area, and, for good measure, flipped several circuit breakers. For illumination, I placed virgin candles (that I bought on sale at Ikea) so that they would be inside the confines of the circle. (NOTE: Many ceremonial magicians follow Crowley's example of also placing nine lamps or candles on pentagrams outside the circle in order to keep out certain forces of darkness, but for this particular Working I didn't think that was necessary). With my arthame (magick dagger), I drew an impregnable magick circle (imaginary) around the room and the required furnishings. In order to further cleanse the circle, thus eliminating any impure astral influences within, I performed some ritualistic formalities, including the obligatory Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. After this, I consecrated the circle, charging it with my own magnetism by proclaiming:
With purity cultivated from the germ,
Imperishable as this star-metall'd arthame,
Encircle with violet flame, thy region charged...
In order to call the multiverse to attention, I proceeded to ring a rather solemn-sounding astral bell made of electrum magicum (or something similar!) Of this bell, Crowley writes: "at the sound of this Bell the Universe ceases for an indivisible moment of time and attends the Will of the Magician." Facing the 'elemental' direction West, I opened the astral Temple and recited the appropriate Enochian keys. I then pronounced a slightly modified Enochian translation of The First Conjuration from the Goetia, filling in Crowley's blanks with the proper names in the angelic tongue. As soon as I was finished, the sitters placed their fingers lightly on the Ouija Board's planchette. (NOTE: although my vintage board came with a wooden pointer, I nevertheless used a more modern plastic message indicator for the operation).
Writing in his opus "Magick in Theory and Practice" about certain aspects of Ceremonial Magick, Crowley states that "the whole secret may be summarized in these four words: 'Enflame thyself in praying.'" By this he meant that the key is the power of one's imagination - the ability to build up astral constructs by an intense focusing of Will. At this point you might be asking: so it's subjective? The visions are merely abstract personifications of ideas - of inner aspirations in the mind of the ritualist? Well, perhaps, but if you really think about it, so is the bullet that's fired from a gun. In "Astral Projection, Magic and Alchemy" edited by Francis King, a certain Frater Resurgan of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (?) has this to say: "When a man imagines, he actually creates a form on the Astral or even on some higher plane; and this form is as real and objective to intelligent beings on that plane, as our earthly surroundings are to us." Keeping in mind that one's imagination affects more subtle planes, might there be a precise neurochemical basis (exoteric science) to transdimensional phenomena, one in which a certain resonance triggered by highly-specialized visualization techniques opens a portal to ontological levels where encounters with non-human lifeforms occurs?