The Liminal Degree


This is a simple, reliable, fast acting, and very effective spell to stop anger that is being directed at you, to silence a gossip, to divert negative attention, to thwart a slanderous foe. It is a version of PGM XII 179-181,[^1] informed, I must admit, by Gordon White’s rendition,[^2] but enriched and refined by myself through a modicum of research and seasoned performance.

A section of papyrus AMS 75 vel 4 aka PGM XII



I present here my version of the famous ‘headless rite’ as originally recorded sometime between 100 BCE and 400 CE in one of the scrolls now in the collection known as the Greek Magical Papyri. Specifically this is the famous “Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist in his letter” found in PGM V. 96-172.

Image of The Headless God from PGM II. 170-1775

I rely heavily on the Betz translation of the PGM, with the most major variation in my version being in relation to the six magical names. For these I follow T.F. from Sublunar Space.


It’s a glorious sunny summer Sunday afternoon and you’re lying in the park with an old friend. Fat insects hum through the tall grass all about you, as you talk away the day over cheese, dips and a bottle of wine. All the ingredients of a magic day are there, a day that should be uplifting and energising. So why, when you walk away do you feel so damn drained, so tired, perhaps with the beginnings of a mild headache, maybe almost a little depressed?

An AI generated image in a soft fantasy style showing a woman facing a closed white door. Between the woman and the door stands a black sinister figure with pointed ears and red eyes. It is blocking her way. In the background of the picture is another scene showing the woman walking away through a field of flowers

There have been so many books written about psychic vampires that you may be wondering why this post even exists. Well mostly because I’ve found the methods of defense presented in those erudite tomes to be largely ineffective or in some cases quite impossible. Indeed the most common advice to be found is simply to cut the person out of your life. This demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the situation. If you've got someone causing you enough problems that you’re scouring books on psychic vampires then the individual in question is almost certainly someone who is deeply connected into your life. So much so that you’d probably need to quit your job or leave the country or disown a family member or abandon a whole set of friends in order to get away.



“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” ― Niels Bohr


Paradox, ambiguity, uncertainty; these are the sort of concepts which, if you think about them for long enough, will probably start to make you feel a little giddy, a little uncomfortable, perhaps even a little queasy. Almost by definition they are confusing, contradictory, non-logical ideas; portals to the fathomless realms of the unknown. And, as H.P. Lovecraft observed in the introduction to his 1927 essay, Supernatural Horror, “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” [^1]

In a 2016 psychology review and research synthesis about fundamental fears, R. Nicholas Carleton supports Lovecraft by positing that fear of the unknown, or ‘FOTU’ is quite possibly the fundamental fear. He notes that, ‘FOTU tautologically does not require a priori learning; indeed, the first thing that could be feared would be “the perceived absence of information at any level of consciousness.”’ [^2]

From the abyss of the unknown out of the very fabric of our fears, we conjure demons, fiends and nameless horrors; they are legion. We learned this as children when, without conscious effort, we materialised monsters under our beds, in our cupboards, in the darkened doorways of our rooms. Of course as we grew up we learned to dispel such childish fears with reason. Relax. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Ah yes sweet logic is the light which banishes the darkness of the unknown. And so when ideas like paradox pop up, ideas which defy coherent rationale, it’s no wonder we almost always pull ourselves away with a slightly unsettled shudder.

So settle in, if you’re game, while we explore that uncomfortable little idea that is paradox. Paradox which seems to characterize so many of the big problems at the forefront of modern science; paradox which has fascinated and confounded philosophers for millennia; paradox, without which mathematics could not have solved the problems on which all modern technology relies.


The Liminal Degree is many things, including this place, where I am exploring ideas through writing.

I once heard someone say that a thought is not complete until it is written down. While I don’t entirely agree, there is still an essential truth to this; a truth which is also at the heart of my approach here.

If you want to know why I don’t entirely agree, you simply have to open any number of websites or social media feeds and you’ll very quickly encounter many written thoughts which are clearly unfinished. It is true however that writing, just like speaking or any form of expression really, extends and evolves thought; it can take an idea further, and that is what I am hoping for here.

All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical.

The Medium is the MASSAGE, Mashall mcLuhan & Quentin Fiore, 1967

So this is a place where I can get some thoughts out of my head so that they may grow.

Mostly I’ll be paddling around in the pools of:



#esoteric #occult

#magic / #magick


Sometimes there may be #poetry

The knot is never untangled, the poem never finished

From the conversation turning point

Her cornered eye catches

Impressions of a tale

Spinning always out of sight;

Desired despite knowing

Grasping ends the giddiness

Because I’m a tweaker, a perpetual knob twiddler, someone who finds it difficult to finish things, I’ve decided to publish often and redraft live. So the version of this page you’re reading now may well not be here tomorrow. I want to allow posts to ferment and evolve.

As a reader this may seem unsettling, but for me, as a writer, it’s truly liberating.

~Last Edited: 13 November 2022~