Liber Fausti

My Year of Solitude in the Time of Plague: A Photo-essay

Having recently become vaccinated against Covid-19, and yesterday partaking in an especially potent and intoxicating visionary potion: the light is beginning to return to my eyes, the fog is lifting from my mind, and the hope of a life in the world of tomorrow looms above the horizon once more. Now beginning my plans to re-enter society one step at a time, I am inspired to take a moment to reflect back on my notable experiences of life during the pandemic. 

We were all livestreamers in the beginning, LOL.
Pictorial representation of my life last year.

While constraints were sometimes dire for me, and being also a man who believes the words of scientists, I have been faithfully observing safe social practices this entire time to the best of my ability. As my immunity against Covid continues to increase over time, I feel a new power in me and a sense of cautious invincibility rising.

While this past year has been a time of deep, long solitudes, I have not been alone. I have been spending the days in my diminished sphere while keeping good company. Long have been the hours spent dreaming, philosophizing and sharing ideas with a brilliant mathematician and programmer, biologists, artists and performers, entrepreneurs, witches, Satanists, and other accomplished folk. I even got married!

My very gay marriage was moved forward because of the climate of politics. Stressful.

Some of us have begun combining our skills to perform new experiments, artforms, and creative projects. We have spent time exploring vistas of the mind, penetrating our consciousness, and comparing experiences to better understand ourselves.

When it finally began to look like the pandemic was not going to be a short thing, I wanted to make sure that this time was well spent in perfecting myself, pursuing my interests, and honing in on my skills. 

The Enchiridion of Faustus, a work of art in progress.

Over a period of eight months, I poured much of my creative energy into a piece of art which will soon be unveiled. It was a constant practice in self discipline, dedicating long hours to toil and care to make sure that I was producing the very best of my current ability. As a result, I have much to show the world in the coming weeks, the fruits of these labors. 

I dedicated other time to pouring over books I was waiting to buy or read. You can see in posts below this about my recent astrophotography work as well. All of these things I did while working my full time job (now at home), and busting my ass off to keep straight A’s in my pharmacy school work.

Three hundred and sixty-five days is a long time to isolate oneself. To withhold from loved ones who don’t understand why we have to stay apart, and to even loosen ties with some of them who deny the dangers out there despite the evidence, has been a long hard year of absence that can never be recovered.

Nature is home now.

Yet oftentimes for me, even more space was needed. The stress of the American election cycle, the hatred I withstood while living surrounded by idiotic Trumpers, the mounting danger of disease and the rising death tolls, all in a state where the dumbfuck governor was letting things run loose and lawless against it all, was wreaking havoc on my mental health. Many, many times, I went into the woods for days at a time. Some of the longest periods were planned retreats, where we would all disappear into the wilderness and go off grid to disconnect from the bullshit.

So many days and nights wandering through wood, sun and star.

Walking in the dark woods, miles away from any other human, with only the moon to light the way. Working in silence to gather ancient light from distant unreachable stars above me. Or even screaming spells and curses at the planet Mars or pouring out all our pain into the Earth with beating hands and bitter tears flowing.

Gone but not forgotten.

Other times completely and utterly alone with nothing but the stillness of nature, and my own mind. This past year, those woods have become my refuge, sanctuary and a place of inner peace. My practice of meditation is regular again, and my mind and I are becoming reacquainted with each other.

A Hermit stays in there, and it’s me…

As mentioned above, this was a time of cultivating knowledge, deepening understanding, and exploring the mind. One of the major themes of this website is about my magical practice. You can see that some of my biggest work was directed at hexing the political sphere, to put an end to the corrupt, and to seek out justice.

At one point, binding was supplemented with outright cursing.
My city and so many others became a battleground of sigil warfare, with the Trumpfucks usually winning with the idiotic flags, banners and boat parades. I had a lot of time on my hands…

I am proud to say that as part of the Bind Trump movement, I participated in each group ritual every single lunation, and then some. But once the election was decided and the final binding took place, I lost my direction! I had absolutely no magical practice and no idea what to do with myself. Even when the time felt right to start up again, each divination plainly said “Wait….rest….recover…”

Our coven was faithful in the vigilant performance of blue wave magic.

Now my energies are more directed, and they are directed back at myself where they belong. I am back on track applying what magic I know to project my very large Will into the universe to manifest my desires. I have a year of new mental, spiritual, academic, and skillful discipline under my belt. I am ready to soar again!

I am currently abiding the seventh Satanic Rule of the Earth: “Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.”

I am glad to say that most times, my magic works for me! Hope you enjoy what is to come in the future days of Book of Faustus.

Astrophotography Skills Progession

Astrophotography is one of my favorite pastimes when I am able to do it. Where I live, the weather is very fickle, and the sky is not always accommodating. But when I am out in the field I have the opportunity to spend quality time in solitude, contemplation, and deep focus. Usually my failures, often brought on by careless mistakes, outnumber my successes.
I’m currently experimenting in new astrophotography techniques. This is a hobby that can take away all your money and time when you let it. I have put thousands of dollars into hardware and software trying to push my skills to the limit. Over time, my skills have grown and my knowledge of sky photography has deepened. Despite my recent improvements, I still take on a beginner’s mindset when learning new techniques.
Below is the result of my most recent imaging session, right from my front yard, followed by a display of how my skills have continued over the years.

M42 Orion Nebula – 02.02.21 – ~45 minutes exposure @ F/6 on an alt-az mount. 250 dark frames
The dramatic difference between afocal and prime focus imaging.
Started by taking pics by attaching my phone to a telescope. In 2017 I made LRGB composites using stacked frames from video captures
From a phone on a tripod, to a camera on an alt-az mount, to a polar aligned long exposure in 2020

19th Century Spirit Kettles

These highly sculptural 19th century alcohol burning kettle/warmers are of Russian Imperial origin. Made of wood, bronze and copper, these two specimens feature fantastical medievalized basilisks holding a teapot over an alcohol burner. The grip and other functional points are stylized with floral motifs and grotesques. The large curly tail holds up the burner.

This specimen found at the Museum of Samovars & Bouillottes, Grumant, Russia

VICE on El Culto del Angelito Negro

A relatively new syncretic religion in Mexico has been growing as an off-shoot of the cult of La Santa Muerte. In their practice, those devotees of the angel (i.e. the Devil) can approach his worship in a less aggressive way, and more openly. In Pachuca at the cathedral of La Santa Muerte, worshippers of El Angelito Negro can offer devotions, make deals and ask help of the Devil. Some may ask for healing, others for blessing, and others for cursing. His favors may come with the cost of their own blood. 

The Sorceress, Jan van de Velde, 1626

Quantum malorum clausa nullo limite Cogit libido, quamque dulci carmine Purissimas mortalium mentes rapit Furias in omnes, sed cito quam fallimur. Vitam brevem breve gaudium Mors occupat momentulum quod ridet, aeternum dolet. 

“How many evils does Lust command, in the small secluded margins; who with enchanting spell the pure minds of mortals does subdue, and in everyone induces rage, but quickly each is deceived. Death, seizes fleeing Life and brief joy. He laughs for a moment, and forever despairs. “

This engraving by Jan van de Velde depicts a witch as thought of during the height of witchcraft hysteria in Europe. The bare-breasted wild woman stands proudly in her Circle of Art, while demons surrounding her wait to do her bidding to summon some misfortune. All around her are the tools of her craft: the grimoire, the diviner’s cards, flasks of potions, a horn of herbs and a wand, and the goat which she undoubtedly flew in on.

The witch at her cauldron, sets upon some foul brew with the aid of her demon familiars.

Adriaen Collaert’s Four Elements

Flemish artist Adriaen Collaert (1560-1619) produced the engravings, pictured here, which depict personifications of Aristotle’s classical elements: Earth, Water, Air & Fire, printed in a wunderbuch in the collection of Jean de Poligny. Now located at the Rijksmuseum.
Prior to modern atomic theory, these elements were postulated to be the prima materia whose infinite combinations were the physical composites of all things in the Universe. Each engraving was modeled on paintings by the Flemish master de Vos the Elder. 

Air, perhaps Aeolus himself, conducts the creatures of the air in their activities. Birds, insects and the angels of the wind are at his command.
Earth, personified as wild nature in Cybele, holds the works of nature and man in her hands. Her head wizened and her breasts sagging from their labor. New life and death are seated at her feet. Creatures of the land walk over the vast hillside.
Fire! Divine Helios sits in the wheel of the Sun encircled with brilliant flames. The phoenix and the salamander (fire elementals) come to him. The world below is cast alight.
Water, as seafoam-born Venus, who is surrounded by the hidden bounty of the mighty sea. She holds the tools of human navigation in her benediction. Her throne of seashells is carried by the Moon, which in its turning controls the tides.