[Tried to post this as a comment over at Mutato Nomine but couldn’t, so I’m posting it publicly here instead]
To reply but briefly – I was very skeptical, even embarrassed at the religious content of ceremonial magick starting out… but hey, it works. Michael and others have speculated part its power comes from using such heavily charged symbolism.
Also, I’m weary about throwing the baby out with the bathwater… for my part, the concern over religious content is dogma, and thankfully most occult programs either dispense with it or leave you free to create your own. In the case of Christianity, the symbolism was there before the religion.
And at least in hermetic kabbalah, at least as far as I’ve explored it, JHVH and Kether are not the cruel invisible monster of most of Judaeo-Christianity, but closer the Hindu concept of “aum.”
I do see the religious context as a stumbling block for a lot of people – either they are scared off from willed brain change and designer realities by the religious content, or they become so fixated with the symbolism that they forget what they’re doing in the first place. I’ll have to look up those Altar Consciousness articles, I sort of forgot about them before getting a chance to read them… I’ve had an idea for “agnostic magic” for a bit now.