Slicing the Airy Intellect and Directing the Fiery Will: On the Symbolic Associations Between Fire and Wands and Air and Daggers

By Philosophadam or Frater S.C.F.V.

Recently, an Occult Corpus member named dgcleveland posted a wonderful question about the traditional associations between the Elements of Fire and Air with Wands and Daggers respectively. Here is the context of his question, in his words:

I am always a little shaken when I read a book that starts talking about Elemental Weapons because the attributions given them is always so counter intuitive to me that I have trouble getting past that point. If any of them bothered to give a reason for the associations I’d be fine, but they simply give them as if no other alternative should be considered and no explanation should be necessary.
So I’ll pose them here and see if anyone has any thoughts or can point me in the right direction.

Water is obvious. Whether Tarot suit or elemental tool, a Cup/Chalice is the only logical option being the vessel to hold liquid in. Earth is fair enough. Penticles, Disks, and Coins are all sysmbols of earth, being made of stone, metal, or the like.

Fire and Air are where I get turned around. Golden Dawn/OTO seem to attribute these as Fire=Wand and Air=Blade/Dagger/Sword and I am having trouble finding any documentation on the reason here. Let me explain my reasoning for thinking that the associations should be switched, and I welcome discourse and critique on the matter.

Associating Blades with Fire makes so much sense I can hardly understand any other attribution. Fire is destructive as a blade cuts and destroys but it is also a tool for building as a blade is. Fire represents power and fury and danger, just as a blade represents power and fury and danger. Fire causes death, just as a blade causes death. Fire protected early man’s camps and homes just as blades protected early man. Even its very construction demands the joining of blades with fire, being forged in the fires during their creation.

As for Air and Wands, I admit that is sort of a “well they’re what’s left” scenario. But I back it up with a few logical connections. Wands, batons, scepters, and staves have always represented authority and intelligence, being held by kings, conjurers, shamans, and priests, just as Air is the element attached to intelligence, logic, and authority. Likewise, wands are made of wooden branches, something that is destroyed by fire, yet withstands the rigors of wind all the time.I admit, I am at a loss for either historical attributions for these weapons or modern interpretation, so any help, links, or information presented for or against my thoughts here would be appreciated.”

Here was my response to his inquiry:

Dear Dgcleveland,

I applaud how you are critically analyzing the received traditions. All too often, occultists simply take the received traditions as points of faith because they are said to be grounded in ‘ancient sources’ and the words of ‘past masters.’ I, however, am a member of the camp of occultists who believe that occultism progresses only through dialogue, reevaluation, and critical examination. So, I am always happy to see people questioning the ‘authorities.’

Now, to respond to your question, I can only provide a form of a Golden Dawn interpretation, since this is the main occult tradition within which I have worked. As others have pointed out, for the Golden Dawn, in the microscopic sphere, Air is the element of Intellect while Fire is the element of Directing Will. Earth is the realm of the physical Body and water is the realm of Emotions and the Unconscious.

The Intellect, and hence, the element of Air, is seen as an instrument for making distinctions. Distinctions are conceptual slicings; they cut two concepts apart to distinguish them. They slice up the nondual reality into dual categories. Because the Intellect is so intimately associated with making ‘slices’ of this kind, the Dagger is the element tied to Air. The Dagger slices through the Air when swung just as the Intellect slices through the Mind when used. The expressions a ‘sharp wit,’ a ‘keen intellect’ and an ‘honed reason’ are idiomatic reflections of the intuitive insight embodied in the dagger-Air association.

The fire-want correspondence is less intuitive. To fully understand it, we need to understand both the microcosmic interpretation of the Fire element and the traditional shape of the wand that the Golden Dawn had in mind. Within the Golden Dawn tradition, Fire is associated with the directing power of Will, and it is this aspect of direction that connects it to the wand, which is essentially a ‘pointing’ and ‘directing’ tool. Moreover, the Four Elemental weapons are connected to the Four Suits of the Tarot and the Fire element connects to the Suit of Wands. This Suit was also historically called ‘Staves,’ however, and the staff is both a traditional implement of the magus and what one carries when one is moving in a particular direction or traveling. In the first case, it was an instrument of direction used to direct magical currents and spirits to do the Will of the magician, another connection to the Fire element. In the second case, the association with moving in a direction connects with the directing power of Will embodied by the microcosmic fire.

There are still more profound nuances in the symbolism, however. The traditional Staff had a bulb at the end and the Golden Dawn fire wand has such a bulb as well. This is an intentional reference to the shape of the phallus. The phallus here is seen as tool for directing the active power of creation which drives reproduction and the coming into being of new life. In this way, the phallus is seen as a symbolic expression of the Will to create. The sexual power associated with the phallus is also often linked to fire in traditional tropes and symbolism; we speak of ‘fiery lust,’ ‘being fired up,’ driven by ‘flaming passion’ and other such expressions. In the Golden Dawn, it is the creative association with the directing power of Will that has importance here and the phallic shape of the Fire Wand channels these symbolic associations to deepen the symbolism. I hope this proves helpful.

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Consecrating Talismans on the Subway: The Nitty Gritty of the Magical Life

Date: Monday, September 19, 2011
Time: 10-11:30 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising
Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous 58% of Full
Mood: Stressed then Energized and Invigourated 
Activities: Invocation of the Goddess Ma’at, Extemporaneous Creation and Consecration of a Ma’at Talisman, Qabalistic Cross

In an ideal universe, the magician would always have his or her tools, vestments, and temple space on hand when needed.  In practice, however, we often find ourselves in situations where we have none of these things and only our own consciousness and inward connection to the Divine on which to rely.  Today, I found myself in one such situation.

This morning, L. experienced something approaching a nervous breakdown or a severe panic attack.  She said she felt she could not be alone, like she was in a tremendously vulnerable state.  I stayed with her as long as I could, but I had to be on my way to McGill for 11, and therefore, could not stay with her as long as I had hoped.

When we boarded our subway, headed for McGill, L. asked if I could perform something quick for her in order to give her a sense of safety and guidance.  Since Ma’at had appeared to her yesterday and she had already established some connection to the Godform by means of our ‘Chymical Marriage,’ I decided to quickly create and consecrate a Ma’at talisman for her.  I only had 10 minutes.  Precious little time.  I was in a packed subway car without any of my ceremonial tools and also, therefore, had precious little space

I took out a piece of paper and drew a picture of Ma’at from memory with all of her distinguishing characteristics: feather, wings, dark eyes, etc.  I drew two Eyes of Horus within the circle.  I encircled this central circle with a larger circle in which I wrote: MA’AT, THEMIS, TH’ME, and Yod-Heh-Vahv-Heh in Hebrew.  I drew Stars of David betwen the names in the manner of some of the Pentacles from the Greater Key of Solomon, a convention I often use in talismanic magic. 

I then placed my right hand over the talisman and closed my eyes.  I invoked the Goddess in her Egyptian form as Ma’at, Coptic form as Th’me and Greek form as Themis, and saw her appear in my Sphere of Sensation in all three forms.  I asked Ma’at to guide and care for L., to help her find balance, to assist her in discovering and establishing inner peace and release from the mental vicissitudes that plagued her, and to inspire comfort, caring and contentment within her being. 

I saw the three forms of the Goddess point their respective wands at the astral form of the talisman and project their energies into it.  Simultaneously,  I felt the energies descend through my arm and enter the talisman, infusing it.  I thanked the Goddess and the Limitless Light and One Divine of which she is an archetypal image and saw the three forms of the Goddess slowly fade as they walked out of my sphere of sensation.  I opened my eyes and was jarringly thrust back into the waking experience of Malkuth just as I arrived at my metro station. 

“Hold this and keep it with you,” I said before hugging her quickly and kissing her lips. She was surely cognitively and emotionally ill, but as the metro doors closed behind me, I remembered the fundamental profession of the Rosicrucians: to cure the sick and that, gratis.  God willing, she too, would find her own inward cure, the healing medicine of the Self which alone can cure the ailments of the self. 

***

I walked up to McGill still buzzing and trembling with energy from the rapid invocation and impromptu consecration of the talisman.  I felt very disequillibrated and, therefore, ducked into a bathroom stall at McGill to perform a quick Qabalistic Cross to balance myself.  Prior to beginning the QC, I invoked the Godform of Ma’at once more and saw her astrally hand me the astral form of the Hegemon’s wand, which I felt in my physical hand and used to physically perform the ritual. Upon its completion, I felt balanced and substantially calmer.  Looking at my face in the mirror, I was struck by how much brighter it seemed.  It seemed to glow, not with my own power, but with that White Brilliance which alone illumines all things.  I had only recently woken up and barely slept, but as a result of the invocation, consecration, and balancing, now felt absolutely energized and keenly awake.

As a final note, there are some who would attack me for performing a talismanic consecration in a subway or a rite as sacred as that of the QC in a public washroom.  To them, I have two points of reply: (1) The first point of reply is that living the practical life of the magician sometimes requires us to practice in places we would ordinarily not choose to do so.  When our inner alchemical conditions and introspective insights incline or call us to a particular action, however, we would be wise to listen, for the Higher Self prompts us with its inner guidance in often unexpected ways.  We are foolish if we refuse its call and cast out its guidance simply because it is unfamiliar or seems to contradict our ideas about what is ‘sacred’ and ‘proper.’  The Higher Self transcends our ideas of propriety; it speaks only to lived necessity, to inner needs and the meeting thereof. 

(2) The second point of reply is that from the Qabalistic point of view, every place is sacred and holy, for all things are none other than the Divine itself.  Every place in the realm of Malkuth–even a mere bathroom sall–is none other than a concrete, physical manifestation of that same Limitless Light or Ain Soph Aur, which preceded from the Void of Ain and took form through the various Spheres and Paths of the Tree of Life.  Every place is fitting for the practice of magic, for the Divine is equally present in and as every place.  If we fail to see the Divine nature of a place, person, or thing, this blindness is a reflection of the limitation of our own perception, and not of the place, person, or thing in question.  Practice deepens insight and insight, in turn, deepens practice.

Invocation of Ma’at and Sacred Sex

Date: Sunday, September 18, 2011
Time: 10-11:30 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising
Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous
Mood: Exhausted than Ecstatic
Activities:
Invocation of the Goddess Ma’at, Mystical Union in Sacred Sex

L., has recently been awakening to her calling as a shaman after a series of prophetic dreams, visitations from deceased people in her dreams who have passed on accurate information to her, visions, and fallings into trance states.  I was sleeping next to her yesterday morning in her home when she awoke from her sleep and kissed my cheek.  I turned over to her and saw her smiling.  She started kissing my cheek and neck and I did the same to her until we fell into tender sexual foreplay.

“I had a dream,” she said.
“What did you dream?” I asked.
“I saw a beautiful naked woman; she looked divine, like a goddess.  Her breasts were perfect and she had dark hair and dark eyes.  She had a feather in her hair and told me that if you and I had sex, all would be as it should be.”
Her description of a goddess with a feather in her hair calling her to balance and to return things to their natural state or order, “as they should be,” reminded me intuitively of Ma’at.  I asked if she thought this might have been the goddess.  She said it was possible, though the figure in her dream did not have the characteristic wings of Ma’at.
“Kiss me,” she said.

We began to kiss and caress each other once more and stripped down until we were ‘skyclad.’ As we continued, I closed my eyes and began to invoke the goddess Ma’at into L’s body.  I did not tell her I was doing this; I wanted to see if she would register the goddess’ presence.  I saw Ma’at appear in her white robe in my mind and asked her to be present for our Mystic Union so that we might both unite with her, and through her, with the One Divine Force of All.  This I asked in the name of Yod-Heh-Vahv-Heh.

I entered into her body and we made love with increasing intensity. In my mind’s eye, I saw Ma’at opening her robe and allowing me to become one with her.  Our love-making increased and increased until we reached the crescendo of orgasm.  We kissed softly and laid in each other’s arms.  I thanked Ma’at for being present.

I had not told L. about the invocation, but as I lay there with her, she turned over to me and said:
“Did you… do anything?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Anything magical.”
“Why do you ask?”
“Because I felt something….”
“What?”
“I felt like it wasn’t just me and you here… like there was someone else here, someone powerful.”
So she had felt the goddess’ presence, I thought…
“Really? What did it feel like?” I asked, curious, not wishing to bias her description of her experience.
“The sex was good and I was fully present in it.  But at the same time, there was another stream of thought in my mind… a stream of thought that kept thinking about social problems and reaching for solutions… looking for justice.”
“L., I must be honest with you,” I said.
“There was something wasn’t there?”
“Yes. Before we began, I invoked the Goddess Ma’at into your body, the same Goddess from your dream.  She is the Goddess of Truth, Order, Harmony, Balance, and also of Justice.  I am not surprised that you thought of social problems and their solutions…”
“Ah… I had a feeling you had done something… In any case, it was beautiful.”

We lay together for a while.  Later on, we ate some breakfast and went out for a walk to collect natural objects for our Mabon altar.  L. and I found sticks with which to make new wands as well as coloured leaves and seed pods for the altar.  Throughout the day, I felt a great sense of balance within me.  We had come into contact with the Goddess of Balance and that day, we prepared an altar for the coming Autumnal Solstice, the day on which Darkness and Light are balanced in the day and the night.  Ma’at, I thought, Ma’at…

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shawabtis, Servitors, and Artificial Elementals: On The Creation of Magical Beings

by Philosophadam or Frater S.C.F.V.

Introduction

In the history of esoteric thought, a powerful idea has cropped up repeatedly across cultures and societies.  This idea is so universally present in human culture that it might be considered part of what Aldous Huxley called the philosophia perennis or perennial philosophy.  In the occult or secret traditions of humankind, this recurring idea is the idea of creating magical beings.  To get a sense of the variety of ways that human beings have conceived of the process and purpose of creating magical beings, let us briefly consider three examples from different moments in human history: the shawabtis of Ancient Egypt, the Artificial Elementals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Servitors of chaos magic.

Defining Magical Beings

Before we can begin to look into these particular examples of created magical beings, however, we must first begin by defining what we mean by “magical beings.” The term magical beings refers to artificial entities created by magicians–that is, practitioners of the magical arts, not stage illusionists–to carry out specific tasks.  A familiar example of such an entity from pop culture is the broom that Sorcerer Mickey brings to life  in theSorcerer’s Apprentice to carry out his Will (though how well that particular magical being succeeds in this task is another story!).

In those cultures that believed themselves to have developed methods for creating such entities, magicians have often given magical beings physical representations of some kind, such as a carved shape, a sculpted figure, or a sign or representative symbol.  Moreover, the created beings are assigned names by the magician so that they can be called upon at will.

Magicians throughout history have, however, seen these magical beings as more than mere physical representations; instead, they believed these beings to have astral or spiritual forms in addition to their material ones.  These magicians believed the physical form or ‘base’  to function as a kind of ‘anchor’ or ‘calling card’ for accessing the created entity’s more subtle spiritual, ‘astral’ or ‘aethyric’ form.

For example, a modern day magician might create an entity to bring opportunities for making money into her life; she might use a coin built into a clay figure as the physical representation.  She would, however, access a deeper version of the being – its spiritual or astral form – through the physical figure and send it to carry out her Will.  Just as we might access the virtual website of a pizzeria to send a delivery person to bring a pizza to our door, so do magicians use the physical bases of their created beings to call upon them and send them to complete tasks in their subtler spiritual or astral form.

Where does the spiritual form of a magical being exist? Theories put forth to answer this question have varied: some have said that the subtle forms of these beings exist in “the spirit realm,” others “in the collective unconscious,” others in “the astral plane – the invisible world that contains prototypes for everything that comes to be in the physical world.” Sometimes the spiritual form is conceived of as a being of pure energy, pure spirit, or a constellation of archetypes in the collective unconscious of humankind.

The creation of magical beings in a sense involved working on the physical plane and on the astral or spirit plane simultaneously.  The magician shaped a physical representation of the being, but did not see the material base as sufficient by itself to carry out his or her intended purpose.  Therefore, it was also necessary to create a spiritual or astral form of the being on this subtler level or plane of existence, an invisible entity that could shape the astral plane to cause changes to manifest in the physical world.

The methods that magicians used to create the astral forms of these beings varied across cultures.  In Ancient Egypt and in Ancient China, they did so through the power of the gods, which were invoked to animate the figurine.  In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, names of God and Archangels would be called upon to help draw a current of the force of one of the alchemical elements (fire, water, air, or earth) to create the entity for the intended purpose.  In modern chaos magic, magicians would draw on their own personal energy to create the astral form of the being while in an altered state of consciousness.

In short, in the occult traditions of the world, ‘magical beings’ were believed to be artificial beings, usually with both a physical form and an astral/spiritual form, which were created by ritual magicians to serve their Will.

Shawabtis

The concept of created magical beings is far from a modern one.  Some of the oldest examples of magical beings were the shawabatis or ushabtis of Ancient Egypt.   Shawabtis were funerary figurines that were placed within the tombs of Pharaohs from the Middle Kingdom (around 1900 BC) until the end of the Ptolemaic Period nearly 2000 years later.  They were carved out of various types of stone and often inscribed with passages from Chapter Six of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which can be translated as:

“Illumine the Osiris NN, whose word is truth. Hail, Shabti Figure! If the Osiris Ani be decreed to do any of the work which is to be done in Khert-Neter, let everything which standeth in the way be removed from him- whether it be to plough the fields, or to fill the channels with water, or to carry sand from the East to the West. The Shawabti Figure replieth: “I will do it, verily I am here when thou callest” (Papyrus of Ani, Egyptian Book of the Dead).

Shawabtis were magical beings because they were not believed to be mere decorative miniatures or figurines.  The Ancient Egyptians believed that once the Soul of the Pharaoh reached the underworld, the gods would magically transform the physical shawabtis into living beings that would serve him in the nether realms.  They would be required to carry out whatever tasks the Pharaoh needed to be completed, much like the servants who served the Pharaohs during their lifetimes.

About such magical beings, the scribe Nebseni, the draughtsman in the Temple of Ptah, writes: “Oh you shawabti figure of the scribe Nebseni, son of the scribe Thena, and of the lady of the house Muthrestha, if I be called, or if I be judged to do any work whatever of the labours which are to be done in the underworld – behold, for your opposition will there be set aside – by a man in his turn, let the judgment fall upon you instead of upon me always, in the matter of sowing the fields, of filling the water-courses with water, and of bringing the sands of the east to the west.”

Shawabtis provide some of the earliest examples of magical beings created as servants in the afterlife, but the idea of posthumous servant beings was not limited to Egypt; the idea recurs in the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi. For his necropolis, the Emperor commissioned the building of hundreds of figures, a Terracotta Army composed of carved counterparts of the soldiers, generals, and horsemen in his living army on Earth.  Like the shawabtis of Ancient Egypt, which were created to serve the Pharaoh in the afterlife, the Terracotta Army was created to help Qin Shi Huangdi rule a second empire in the afterworld.

Both the shawabtis and the figures of the Terracotta Army represent, therefore, striking Ancient examples of magical beings created to serve the Will of their creators, nor during their lifetimes, but in the afterlife.

The Artificial Elementals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The male and female magicians of the 19th century secret society known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn also sometimes created and deployed magical beings  to serve their theurgic and thaumaturgic purposes.  Indeed, the magicians of the Inner Order readily employed a method of creating what they called “Artificial Elementals” — beings which were animated with the power of a particular classical Element (earth, air, water, or fire) to carry out the Will of the magicians who created them.

The Order’s Guidelines for an Artificial Elemental enjoins those who would create such magical beings to

Remember that you are a Microcosm of the Universe, thus you have the ability to
direct your will to a specific task or mission. The will is then filtered through the element
and evoked and contained in a specific container. Through Will, you name the
elemental, send it forth to complete a task or mission, and give it a time to disperse.

An artificial elemental is not a talisman or a natural elemental as found in nature.
It is an aspect of your will transformed to a limited, specific and controlled aura, and
filtered through an element.”

The magicians who created such Artificial Elementals chose the Elements through which they would “filter their will” according to the qualities that corresponded to them, or the qualities that the Elements “manifest in the sphere of sensation”:

Fire: Sex, lower emotions, energy, success, war, fighting, building backbone, competition, athletic endeavors, vitality, terrorism, anger, violence, protection, consecration, and law.

Water: Deep emotions, tranquillity, compassion, faith, higher forms of love, devotion, friendship, healing wounds, restoring growth, childbirth, family, calmness, medicine, comfort, clairvoyance, marriage, partnerships, negotiations, beauty, rest, meditation, fishing, and loyalty.
Air: Thoughts, memory, learning, teaching, tests, divination, writing, organizing, theorizing, addictions, intellectualism, travel, and creation of thoughts.
Earth:Jobs, money, farming, fertility, stability, health, foods, ecology, conservation, old age, construction, physical work, daily necessities such as food, shelter, etc., and grounding.”After specifying the Element with which they would be working, the Magicians proceeded to perform the Banishing rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram to purify their ritual environment, and then, as the Guidelines for an Artificial Elemental specify, would proceed to”become the element you wish to use. Hold your hands nine to twelve inches
apart, palms facing each other. Now imagine a bottle or a box between your hands, in
the proper shape of the element. Exhale, visualizing all of the element you are working
with going out with your breath and being trapped in the container between your hands.
Do this until the container is full of the elemental energy.”

After creating this “container” of elemental energy, they would “take [their] hands away and let the container float in front of [them]” and “Vibrate the Divine name and the Archangel that pertain to the element you wish to create. Then say:

I hereby name thee_________.Go now and do (such and such). When
you have completed this task, disperse and reunite with (element) everywhere
and harm none on the way. If thou hast not completed thy task by (date and
time), then disperse nonetheless and reunite with (name element) everywhere
and harm none on the way. As it is desired, so shall it be. Be on thy way.”

In this way, the magicians of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used a method which was intended to create magical beings designed to serve them, not in the afterlife as in the case of shawabtis and the Terracotta Army, but during their lives on Earth.  The Artificial Elementals, therefore, represent a different kind of magical being than the funerary figures of the Ancient World, namely, a type of beings linked to the magician, which were brought into being for a time to serve a purpose, and then dissolved back into the primordial energy out of which they were formed.

The Servitors of Chaos Magic

In the late 20th century,  a number of iconoclastic magicians including such influential figures as Peter J. Carroll, Ray Sherwin, Austin Osman Spare , and later, Phil Hine, moved away from the strict traditionalism and formalism of ceremonial magic in order to found a movement which would come to be known as “chaos magic.”  The fundamental thesis of chaos magic was that the magician should be free to use belief systems pragmatically, that is, as tools, in order to bring about change in conformity with Will.  They embraced altered states of consciousness (or states of ‘gnosis’) and ‘paradigm shifting’ (shifting from one belief system to another at will, e.g. from Ancient Greek pagan to Orthodox Christian) in order to achieve their magical goals.

One of the techniques that the radical chaos magicians developed in this period was the creation of what they called ‘Servitors.’  In his essay, “Evocation without Sniffles,” Phil Hine explains that “A Servitor is an entity consciously created or generated, using evocatory techniques, to perform a task or service. In the Western Esoteric Tradition, such entities are sometimes referred to as ‘Thought-Forms’, whilst in Tibetan magic, for example, they are known as ‘Tulpas’.  Servitors can be usefully deployed to perform a wide range of tasks or functions on your behalf.

Servitors are often compared to computer software precisely because they are ‘programmed’ according to the intent of their creators.  Just as a program can be created for generalized or specific purposes, so did chaos magicians believe that a servitor can be generated to perform tasks relating to a general area of expertise (e.g. healing) or more specific ones (e.g. procuring a specific amount of money by a specific date).

How do chaos magicians create servitors? Phil Hine explains that to create a servitor, one must begin by defining the servitor’s general sphere of expertise or domain and then its specific function as summarized in a succinct Statement of Intent.  For instance, if a servitor’s general sphere of expertise is “healing,” its Statement of Intent can be “To promote rapid recovery and health in …(name)…”

“Once you have determined the appropriate Intent to form the basis of your Servitor,” Hine states, “then the Statement can be rendered into a sigil, or glyph. There is a wealth of magical & mythic symbols which you can draw upon when creating a servitor, which can be used to represent different qualities, abilities and attributes. There is also the symbolism of colour, smell, sound & other sensory media to draw upon. In order to refine the ‘program’ which forms the basis for your servitor further, you could embellish the sigil by adding other symbols.”

After the general and specific intent of the servitor and its associated symbols have been specified, the magician can proceed to give it a Name and to designate a “physical base” for, or physical representation of, it.  On the subject of Names and physical bases, Hine writes that:

The Material base is some physical focus for the Servitor’s existence. This can help to define the Servitor as an individual entity, and can be used if you need to recall the Servitor for any reason. Examples of a material base include bottles, rings, crystals, small figurines as used in fantasy role-playing or figures crafted from modelling compounds. Bodily fluids can be applied to the material base to increase the perceived link between creator and entity. This is very much a matter of personal taste. Alternatively, the Servitor can remain freely mobile as an aetheric entity.”

Having defined all of the properties of the Servitor and the information relevant to the tasks it is to complete, the magician proceeds to enter an altered state of consciousness through meditation, ritual, extreme stress, or psychotropic drugs, and then to “empower” the servitor and bring it to life through the combined force of his or her Will, Imagination, and personal energy.  The magician continues to habitually “feed” the Servitor through regular attention, mentions in conversation, attributions of events to its activity, remembrance, or other means specified by the magician. In so doing, he or she creates an artificial entity to serve an intended purpose during his or her lifetime, quite like the Artificial Elementals of the Golden Dawn.

Unlike the Artificial Elementals of the Golden Dawn, however, servitors do not require a concentration of specifically ‘elemental’ energy. They are conceived in a far more versatile way and can take various forms from fully designed fantasy characters to very basic entities whose appearance resembles a floating letter “X.” Of all of the magical beings that human beings have created throughout the history of occultism, servitors are perhaps the most diverse.


An example of a sigil for a Servitor created by Phil Hine

Conclusion

In conclusion, the creation of magical beings is an ancient and perennial aspect of the human esoteric tradition.  Originally practiced in Ancient societies, the technique of creating such beings continues to be practiced today by Golden Dawn and chaos magicians and even Tibetan monks in the form of their specifically designed ‘tulpas.’  Perhaps all human beings are born with an instinct towards the creation of magical beings; we have all played ‘make-believe’ and conceived of all sorts of beings in our childhoods.  What is distinctive of the world’s magicians is that they bring to this universal childhood tendency the sophistication and focus of adulthood and claim that the magical beings they produce are not mere figments of the imagination, but real, existing beings with the power to bring about change in the physical world.  What are they really? This is a question that everyone who studies this fantastical topic must be willing to ask and answer for him- or herself, a question with no easy answers.

Published in: on June 5, 2011 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  

The Occult Logic of Correspondences: Reflections on Liber 777

By Frater S. C. F. V.

On OccultCorpus, R. Eugene Laughlin raised some interesting questions about the famous compendium of occult correspondences, Liber 777. I will say from the outset that I am by no means an expert on either the composition or the contents of 777.  My response will be based on what I do know of the table from consulting it for the preparation of ceremonial magical Planetary talismans for the Ordo Aurum Lucerna and for compiling exercises for those wishing to learn the Qabalah.

R. Eugene first asked me if I agreed that “the value of such a table to a magician should, reasonably, depend on how well the groupings presented actually reflect the organization of the world in which the magician operates, or stated more technically, how well the items of each grouping actually cohere as a semantic structure within the magician’s emoto-cognitive system, which we might otherwise call the magician’s mind.”

I responded that I would I would agree with this statement in a nuanced or qualified form. In a sense, 777 provides many ‘contact points’ for the magician precisely because it synthesize material from so many divergent traditions, from Ancient Egyptian gods to plants, Qabalistic orders, etc. That is, it is very likely, given the sheer volume of paradigms that are interknitted into the table, that the magician will be able to find some sub-table that resonates or coheres with their operational worldview. If one can find such a point of coherence with one’s existent worldview, then the table can have value from the outset. This would be a case of Piaget’s assimilation, or just incorporating coherent information into one’s existing world-model.

However, it is possible that one can be a neophyte who encounters the table without knowing a thing about any of the paradigms it synthesizes together. For such a person, the table could still have value; however, in this case, its value would consist not in its ability to cohere with one’s existing worldview, but in the building blocks it furnishes for building a new magical worldview. That is to say, 777 provides a systematically arranged magical ‘vocabulary’ that one can use to construct a worldview that can become operational in magical practice; 777 can give one the words needed to articulate or express what one does, encounters, and theorizes about one’s magical work. In such a case, one’s relation to the table could be an instance of Piaget’s accommodation; in this case, one accommodates the information and adapts to it to shape a new model of the world.

R. Eugene Laughlin further proposed that “through experiencing the world as it is, the mind naturally comes to reflect the organization of that world. Further, making sense of the world is largely a matter of how well information about the things we interact with are grouped together. The take-home message is that things that naturally co-occur in the world become associated in the mind, which essentially means that when one part of an association comes to mind, everything else in the association comes with it: one cannot think of cowboys without a particular kind of hat coming to mind, along with many other things, like horses and cows, etc. And while branding cattle may not be a fully conscious thought initially, it’s very close to consciousness, so that, in the short term, it’s much easier to trigger a thought of branding than some unrelated activity, like playing ping pong.”

A great deal of what ceremonial magicians do involves harnessing the associative powers of the mind to produce intended effects within its emoto-cognitive structure. This is why we find such exhaustive lists of correspondences within the tradition in general and within 777 in particular. Magicians have long known of the phenomenon which interested the early 19th century psychologists, namely, the way one stimulus triggers the memory of another in the ‘mind’ according to their repeated pairing in experience. They have exploited this phenomenon to shape consciousness in desired ways with the goal of effecting change; this is why we try to maximize the number of associated objects to our target Planet or Zodiacal symbol or Element in a ceremony. It is not only to capitalize on the metaphysical principle of sympathy, but also on the psychological principle of association.

R. Laughlin’s essential question for me was “how do you think the table was most likely constructed? And then given that, should the correspondences reflect the world in which you operate?”

This two-part question is a wonderful one.  The “how” of the matter is a historical question, which would require us to look into Crowley’s and the Golden Dawn’s records for how they conceived of the tables they were compiling. My knowledge of this historical aspect is shady at best, so I won’t endeavour to provide a definitive answer. What I do know, however, is that some of the tables of correspondences were drawn from traditional sources (Qabalistic, grimoiric, some Egyptological, etc.) and some of them were new creations in the sense that they had no literary precedents.

I believe that many of them were developed by extending principles; in Regardie’s Garden of Pomegranates, for instance, he discusses some of the tables of correspondences that link Qabalistic sephiroth to Hindu gods, Egyptian gods, Qabalistic Intelligences, etc. Understanding the nature of Kether as undifferentiated unity, for instance, and Brahman as embodying essentially the same concept allows us to see an affinity between the two; this is not simply a psychological association, but rather a recognition of a shared quality or property. Many of the sub-tables are directly linked back to the spheres and paths of the Tree of Life according to the principles traditionally symbolized by those sephiroth and paths. So, there is this dimension of shared qualities here, which gives rise to logical correspondences.

We must recall, however, that 777 was not passed down on stone tablets from heaven above; it was written by human beings and reflects the knowledge that they had about 19th century egyptology, for instance, and their limited knowledge of Hebrew and of the few Qabalistic works to which they had access. Therefore, I suspect that there is a subjective dimension to many of these sub-tables; indeed, with our better knowledge today, we might question many of the correspondences. We might reshape the tables according to our more thorough understanding of the units of meaning to be linked through the extension of principles. And, in fact, this is what I recommend modern magicians to do and certainly what I do in my own practice. This brings us back to your second question; by reshaping the sub-tables according to our own experience and understanding, we engage and interact with them to make them more closely reflect our operational worldview. And this makes them more meaningful to us and our understanding of our magical practice.

Published in: on May 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Decisions at the Crossroads: How to Respond When Caught Between Divergent Paths

Decisions at the Crossroads: How to Respond When Caught Between Divergent Paths
by Frater S.C.F.V. or Philosophadam

A knowledgeable and experienced poster at Occult Corpus named Aeternitas recently revealed that he found himself going through a spiritual Dark Night of the Soul and wondering about which path he should take.   One the one hand, he saw the value of the Golden Dawn ritual, magical philosophy, and divination methods with which he had become familiar.  On the other, he felt drawn towards “Goetic Evocation with a spirit friendly attitutude, conjure sorcery, sympathetic magic and magical practices related to the ancestral spirits.” His plight raises a universal question for practitioners of all spiritual paths: what does one do when one finds oneself caught between two apparently opposed paths? How should one respond in these moments?

There are three possible responses to such moments, which are embodied in three divergent pieces of advice.  When we find ourselves caught between two apparently divergent paths, we can either (1)  keep pushing on despite the internal resistance, (2) follow our intuition away from the comfortable road and towards the one that beckons us on, or (3) attempt to synthesize the two divergent apparently paths into a coherent whole.

1. Pushing On Down the Well-Traveled Path

The first possibility is to keep forging on despite the internal resistance we feel as we stand at the crossroads of paths. Many of the magicians I have met throughout the years have taken this path before. I know some really seasoned Golden Dawn and Grimoiric magicians who have told me of times when they hit stumbling blocks in their practice and lost their motivation to do the rituals within their tradition. They sometimes lost faith in their practices, felt drawn towards alternative paths, felt they had no time to practice, and many other such things. Yet, they told me, they pushed on and while their progression was sparse and strenuous for a time, it grew increasingly rewarding as their practice accelerated and they had breakthroughs that moved them forward. These magicians would enjoin us to push on, despite our momentary resistance to our familiar path.

In my own life, I have sometimes followed this approach. Sometimes I have found it helpful; at others, I have felt it did not adequately respond to the intuitive nudges and synchronistic callings that I experienced. My own experience would therefore suggest that there are phases of our lives when sticking to the well-trodden path and pushing on in the same vein is wise and others when it is not what we feel we truly need to do. We must look within and see which of these phases we are in. Some experimentation and introspection can help us to discover where we stand in this regard.

2. Straying from the Familiar and Embracing the New

Second, when we are not deeply satisfied with pushing on down the familiar path, we can take another approach: we can follow our intuition away from the tried and trusted path. I am a member of a Golden Dawn Order, but there are times when I feel drawn away from the Golden Dawn path altogether. Sometimes I feel the lantern of wisdom drawing me in other directions so strongly that I will give up all G.’.D.’. ritual practice for extended periods of time to work with other practices and traditions. Sometimes these intuitive callings have lead me to make deeper inquiries into physical science. Sometimes they have eased me into Eastern practices such as zazen(seated Zen meditation) and atma vichara (self-inquiry). Sometimes they have drawn me to Sufi poetry, or the writings and experiments of Douglas Harding, or Christian mysticism. Sometimes they have drawn me back to the Golden Dawn tradition itself. There have been some phases of my life in which sticking to the familiar G.’.D.’. path seemed like the wrong course of action for me, like the universe was calling me elsewhere to teach me new lessons or offer me fresh perspectives. And I have not yet regretted any of these journeys or forays into the unknown or untraditional. They have added richness to my life and have taught me a great deal. Perhaps it is not forging on, but following your own intuitive call into the unknown that we need at this moment.

3. Synthesizing the Divergent Paths into a Coherent Whole

A third and final possibility is to question whether these apparently two paths are really as irreconcilable as we may think. AEternitas, for instance, seemed to see a disjunction between (1) Golden Dawn ritual, magical philosophy, and divination methods on the one hand and (2) “Goetic Evocation with a spirit friendly attitutude, conjure sorcery, sympathetic magic and magical practices related to the ancestral spirits” on the other.  To reveal just how we can find space in our tradition to encompass another that seems very different from it, I’ll take AEternitas‘ example as a case in point.

My own experience with the Golden Dawn system is that it is remarkably open to synthesizing new material and that its system is broad enough to encompass nearly any new phenomenon that we may encounter. The original Golden Dawn adepts themselves practiced Goetic evocation, for instance, albeit not with a very spirit friendly attitude. I find myself partial to this spirit-friendly attitude myself; I see it as the only approach consistent with a non-anthropocentric philosophy of magic. Since I reject anthropocentrism in secular ethics, I must also, to be consistent, reject it in magical ethics, at least for most kinds of spirits. There may be some entities for which the old ‘master and control’ approach is the only viable one if we are not to come to harm as a result of dealings with them or produce ineffectual results, but for the overwhelming majority, I would say that a spirit friendly approach is more than adequate. Certainly, this is the approach we generally take to dealing with most kinds of angels and archangels.

Conjure sorcery is also not necessarily incompatible with Golden Dawn practices. Many of the methodologies within conjure sorcery can be located within one sephiroth or path of the Tree of Life or another. They continue to work with the realms of the Tree, even though they do so using practices that may fall outside of the conventional Judaeo-Christian paradigm. Indeed, there may be some value in thinking about the Qabalistic dimensions of the practices to which you feel called or drawn in this regard. The Qabalistic system is remarkably suited to including new material into its organizational and categorizational system; some Jews have criticized this facet of the Qabalah as moving Qabalists into dangerously non-kosher territory. This is one possible perspective. Another is that shared by people such as Israel Regardie and myself, namely that this organizational flexibility and adaptability to new data is a virtue of the system that enables it to be versatile in the face of new material.

As for sympathetic magic, the whole Golden Dawn system is grounded in sympathetic magical theory. When one vibrates the Name of an archangel it is because one believes that the Name is itself in sympathy with the larger force on which one intends to draw; by using the one, we hope to harness the power of the other by virtue of sympathy. The same is true for the symbols we draw on talismans in talismanic magic, for the items with Planetary and Elemental correspondences that we integrate into our magical ceremonies, and even for the colours of the candles in the Hall of the Neophytes. Sympathetic magic is far from foreign to the Golden Dawn approach; if you seek to explore it in new directions, this would, in my eyes, be in keeping with the overall rationale that undergirds the Order’s magical philosophy.

The one teaching that may be somewhat different from, though not necessarily out of keeping with, the Golden Dawn’s approach is the practice of ritually working with dead ancestors. And yet, even here, we find evidence that Golden Dawn magicians have done work of this type as well; Arthur Waite’s book The Book of Ceremonial Magic, for instance, was notably titled Including Sorcery and Necromancy. And there is a Qabalistic theory that suggests that the souls of the dead remain active in the various realms of being, sometimes even transmigrating throughout them, which would, when coupled with the principle of sympathy, justifiably allow one, from a ceremonial magical perspective, to work with them. Therefore, even this practice might not be as foreign to the Golden Dawn system as we might initially believe it to be.

Conclusion: Finding Our Way at the Moment of Truth

In short, when we find ourselves caught between two apparently divergent paths we can take one of three approaches: (1) stick to the path we have been treading for so long, (2) forsake it completely to dive headlong into the new paths that calls to us, or (3) attempt to synthesize the two. I have used all three of these approaches at different periods of my life. My final piece of advice to anyone finding themselves at a crossroads of spiritual paths is to think about which of these options is best-suited to their present situation. This is a question that each individual must ask and answer for themselves.

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 5:45 am  Leave a Comment  

10 Tips for Preparing for the Neophyte Grade Initiation

The Neophyte Grade Ceremony can be a daunting task indeed, but despite the disfavor and bashing it has received in recent years, my own experience in being Initiated through it and serving as Hierophant within it during the Initiation of others has taught me about its magical potency and spiritual power, its moving emotional depth, its rich symbolism, its philosophical wealth, and its great value for Practitioners on the Golden Dawn path.

I recently received an email from Jes on OccultCorpus that expressed his way of preparing for the ritual, namely, through a gradual learning process and an in-depth approach to study. I took the same approach myself. The more we understand about the rituals, the more meaningful they become for us.

I’m still learning new things about even the most basic rituals. For instance, when I was reading Book 6 of Virgil’s Aeneid, I read how the Sibyl, a prophet of Apollo and Hecate (Roman god of magic), declared, upon entering the underworld, “Away, away, all those unblest/profane!” This is the Latin equivalent of none other than the “Hekas, hekas este bebeloi!” of the opening for the Grade Rituals. The G.’.D.’. system draws on ancient roots indeed…

In his email, Jes also asked if I could offer him any tips or advice for preparing for the ceremony. Since these tips might prove helpful for others as well, I’ve decided to post them as an article here. The ten tips I recommend are as follows:

1. Practice visualization. The visualization component of the ceremony is extensive and intense. The better you get at it, the more successful the ritual will be.

2. Make and procure the necessary physical implements. They are powerful visual symbols, but also useful tools that can be used outside of the grade ceremony. They also reinforce the Hermetic symbolism of the ritual, which involves not only astral work, but corresponding physical work, and the physical tools (like the wands of the Hegemon, Hierophant, and Keryx) are the physical counterparts to the forces evoked on the higher planes. Both are essential parts of the two-fold initiation on the “above” and the “below.” For ideas for how to make these tools in ways far simpler than the difficult carpenter methods suggested by Chic Cicero, see my blogs in which I have posted my implements. Feel free to ask me any questions about how I made the tools and I will be happy to answer them.

3. Practice the Rite of Bringing Down the Light given by the Ciceros in their book, Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition. The invocation and circulation of the Light is an important aspect of the ritual.

4. Color in the images of the godforms given in same book according to the descriptions given. Reflect on the symbolism of the colors and implements. Reflect on their functions within the G.’.D.’. temple. Practice visualizing them at will as living, breathing, full-color beings. Meditate on them. Dialogue with them; for instance, ask them to show you something you really need to learn at this stage of your life/journey. Write down what they show you in your magical journal.

5. Practice the Adoration of the Lord of the Universe. When this part arrives in the Neophyte ceremony, you will feel a great welling up of emotion if you practice it in advance. Use it to tune into the ultimate reality and center yourself. After the Sign of Silence, stand in silent meditation, calming the mind, not thinking of anything, detaching yourself from everything within and without. Abide in that free meditative state for some time and when you are ready, open your eyes and continue with what you were doing.

6. Plan how you will arrange the room in which you plan to perform the ceremony to most closely correspond to the Temple Diagram given in the teachings. I went to a thrift store and bought numerous large black pieces of material to drape over bookshelves, my bed, my computer, etc. while performing the ritual. This has the effect of the darkness within formal Golden Dawn temples, which focuses your mind on the work at hand and minimizes distractions.

7. Practice delivering small speeches out loud. Experiment with different loudnesses, different voice inflections, and different ways of saying the lines. Aim for the most powerful and deeply meaningful and impacting way of speaking you can manage. The way you speak these lines should be a ritual way of speaking, a ceremonial, solemn, powerful way of speaking that is different from the way you speak in ordinary life. Treat every word in the ritual as a Word of Power and Mystery.

8. Practice the Qabalistic Cross by itself and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. You will be performing the LRP at the opening and close of the Grade Ceremony. The more deeply you are acquainted with it, the better. The LRP is really an initiation in miniature. The Qabalistic Cross is a powerful prayer and balancing ritual in its own right.

9. Take your time preparing. Do not rush. A title of 0=0 is meaningless if there is no depth of understanding and experience behind it. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

10. On the big day, take a ritual bath, prepare the temple, close the blinds, light the candles, and dedicate yourself to completing the ritual. Once you begin the ritual, resolve to finish it. This can take between 2.5 to 3 hours of straight, intense magical work; be ready for this. Work up to it through increasingly long sessions of magical work. You should be able to easily do 1 to 2 straight hours of ritual work without difficulty before even attempting the Grade Ritual.

What can you do in this 1-2 hours of practice work? I recommend including any of the following elements in a logical sequence: the LRP (invoking or banishing form), the QC by itself, the Adoration of the Lord of the Universe, the Rite of Bringing Down the Light, the THME, THEMIS, and MAAT meditations, the Tarot contemplation ritual, zazen (seated meditation, calming the mind and resting attention on the breath without clinging to anything that arises in the mind), yoga or the Five Tibetan Rites, or the Middle Pillar Ritual. Free-form, spontaneous prayer or meditation with a godform, asking them for a vision or lesson and fully exploring it can also be good practices. Any of these practices will give you experience with (1) visualization, (2) energy invocation and direction, (3) the ritual voice, (4) moving ceremonially, and (5) coordinating physical movements with work in the imagination. All of these will help you to prepare for the Initiation.

Do you have any feedback on these tips or any additional tips to suggest?

Adam (Frater S.C.F.V.)

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm  Comments (3)  

12 Key Skills and Traits for the Beginning Magician

A poster named Neptune on Occult Corpus asked the very good question of what skills and qualities the beginner in magic–and magicians in general–should strive to develop. Here is a list of 12 such abilities and characteristics that I have found incredibly important in my own practice:

1. Meditation – the specifically the ability to concentrate, silencing all unrelated thoughts, on a single thing for an extended period of time (starting with a few minutes and working up to a few hours–the required time for long ceremonial magical operations, if you intend to pursue that path). One can sit comfortably on a chair with hands on one’s thighs and the spine straight, or on a cushion in a meditative pose (asana). One can either meditate on a single object or image for an extended period of time, or simply observe the breath coming in and going out and allow the mind to settle down. This latter approach, called Zazen in the Zen Buddhist tradition, is my preferred meditation technique.

2. Visualization – the ability to call up images in your mind and hold them there, beginning with simple things (e.g. a yellow X) and leading up to full-color figures (e.g. a godform).

3. Creativity – the ability to come up with original and creative solutions, ideas for rituals, etc. One way to develop creativity is to take a given object and try to come up with as many possible uses for that object as you can. For instance, a paperclip. At first, you may only be able to come up with 10, but gradually this will increase to 50 and higher. Then you’ll learn to think outside the box — why not make the paperclip 50 feet tall? Why not give it neon lights? etc.

4. Willpower – the ability to direct your will towards something and intensify it. Cultivate this by doing exercises that heighten your will, e.g. willing not to use a certain word for a whole week, willing to give up something you frequently do or enjoy for a week, willing yourself to take up a practice for a week, etc.

5. Critical reason – the occult is replete with great wisdom, but also with a great deal of utter nonsense and crap. Learn to discriminate. Study some basic logic and logical fallacies. Learn to be skeptical and to think carefully.

6. Energy manipulation – by whatever means you wish: psionics, visualization and willpower (e.g. in the Qabalistic Cross), Qi Gong or Tai Chi, Wiccan-style ‘raising energy,’ etc. Any way to raise energy within your sphere of sensation and direct it as you will.

7. Ritual practice – the ability to carry out a ritual with a formal beginning, middle, and end. Learn a Wiccan ritual or a Golden Dawn ritual or a Thelemic ritual and practice it until you master it. Learn to enter an altered state of consciousness while in the ritual state.

8. Breath control – or pranayama – the ability to deepen the breath and thereby calm the whole body and mind. Start with the fourfold breath, 4 second breathe in, 4 second hold, 4 second breathe out, 4 second leave lungs empty. Gradually work up to 4 movements of 8 seconds instead of 4. Then you can try bringing it up to 10 or so seconds so you are breathing 1 or 2 times per minute. This is a very deep state of consciousness. I use this kind of breathing especially for the Middle Pillar Exercise.

9. Self-hypnotism – I only recently began to study this area of occult practice after a suggestion from Poke Runyon. However, I believe it can be helpful for any form of magic, to hypnotize oneself and then enter ritual thereafter, coming out of the hypnotic state with the competion of the ritual. In the hypnotic state, the conscious mind and unconscious are working together. This is a fertile and potent state of mind.

10. Basic artistic skills – in magic, especially in chaos and ceremonial magic, we often make and use tools. It can be helpful to learn how to draw sigils, how to paint wands, etc. Learn how to use acrylic paint, acrylic varnish (overlay it over the dried acrylic to give it a shiny sheen and brighten the colors), as well as paint pens and markers. You can also cut complicated shapes out of foamboard with an exact knife, cover them with electrical tape so they don’t flake apart, and paint over them. This was how I constructed the Keryx’s Wand within the Golden Dawn system.

11. Mindfulness – this is the ability to be very aware of your body, the flow of your thoughts, the movements of your feelings, and the content of your senses. Learn to witness the movements of your mind without getting involved with them – learn to see when your mind is clinging to something (attachment), pushing something away (aversion), to pretending it knows something it doesn’t (ignorance). Your mindfulness will weaken the pull of these things over time and needless suffering will subside. You will get more peaceful as well. Mindfulness is essential for magic both because it cultivates a calm, fulfilling life and because it allows you to be aware when the results of your magic manifest in your own body-mind and in the world around you. Without mindfulness, your ritual may yield its effect while you do not even notice that it has done so!

12. Compassion and awareness of interdependence – compassion is the ability to care for others and feel for them on a level of equality, realizing that their concerns matter as much as your own and that they suffer just like you do. Developing compassion will make you a deeper human being and positively enhance all of your relationships and interactions with others. Try to meet people on a level of care and respect. Awareness of interdependence is the ability to recognize the connections between yourself, others, and the world around you. See how the apple you eat depends on the whole water cycle, on oxygen and carbon dioxide in the whole atmosphere, and on the sun thousands of miles away. See how you depend on the apple for food and hence on all of these things as well. Trace the lines that connect all things. Cultivating compassion and awareness of interdependence will save you from the trap of egotism into which far too many magicians fall.

Developing these skills and qualities will be of great benefit to the Neophyte and Adept alike, regardless of one’s magical path.

Take care,
Adam

Published in: on January 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

On the Ciceros’ Neophyte Grade Ritual

On OccultCorpus, Morrigan shared some concerns about the length of the Neophyte ritual and its ‘unwieldiness’ within a small physical space for a solitary practitioner.  He asked if he might shorten the ritual or condense it.  My position on the issue was perhaps not what he wanted to hear, namely, that he should make all of the requisite implements and perform the ritual in its entirety.  However, I have strong reasons for holding the viewpoint that I do.  Here is what I told Morrigan:

First of all, I’d like to say that I can sympathize with your concerns.  Space was an issue in my personal temple as well.  However, I have performed the Neophyte ritual as written by the Ciceros in its entirety several times, both for myself and as a group ritual for other Neophytes, and can attest to its power.  Its performance does not really require much space at all.  If you can fit a small altar in the center of your room and have some small stations for the elemental candles in the quarters, etc. you can perform it without difficulty.  If you have enough space to perform the LBRP, you have enough space to perform the Neophyte ritual.

I would also like to emphasize the value and importance of making the required ceremonial implements for the ritual.  These include the officer lamens, Hierophant’s wand, Hegemon’s wand, Keryx’s wand, pillars (at least spray-painted all white and all black if you do not wish to paint on all of the hieroglyphics), a sword or knife for the Hiereus, a cross and triangle for the altar, and a lantern for the Keryx.  These visual symbols make all of the difference and really enhance the power of the ritual on the psychological level, as well as, arguably, on the astral level.  These items do not take up all of that space.  My room is quite tiny and I can fit all of them, including the pillars and wands, within less than a square foot of space.

Now onto the ritual and the issue of trimming it down.  The ritual follows the original G.’.D.’. Neophyte initiation quite closely, only differing in the addition of personal astral work (via the godform visualizations) and in collapsing all of the information that was previously revealed in a fast-paced interrogation of one officer by another into shorter speeches.  Once you get more deeply into the Z documents and the commentaries on the Neophyte ritual by  G.’.D.’. adepts such as Regardie, Zalewski, and others, you’ll see that every little detail in the ritual has significance on multiple levels from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic; Qabalistically and astrally, every movement and every word has a specific function within the larger scheme of the ritual.

If you opt to chop up the ritual, you not only deviate from the initiatory formulae of the Golden Dawn, but lose a great deal in the overall impact of the ceremony and in the subtler effects thereof.  Moreover, one might argue that one who has not properly undergone the Neophyte Initiation in its original or adapted Ciceronian form cannot justifiably claim the Grade of Neophyte within the G.’.D.’. system precisely because they have not gone through the requisite Initiatory experience as defined by the G.’.D.’. system.  I have performed the ceremony with another Initiate in a truly tiny space and we had no difficulty performing the ritual in its entirety.  I would highly recommend that you do so.

The Neophyte Grade Ritual is a majestic, beautiful, and if performed correctly, very powerful ritual.  It is deeply moving and along with the Adeptus Minor Initiation considered to be one of the most powerful and important rituals in the whole Golden Dawn system.  All of the formulae of the entire G.’.D.’. system are prefigured within the Neophyte ceremony and it is the ceremony that connects one to the currents of archetypal force embodied by the Godforms of which the officer forms of the outer Order are representatives.

As for holding off initiation, I say, as soon as you feel your visualization abilities are sufficiently adequate to allow you to manage the complex godform visualizations, as soon as you have some experience with bringing down the Light and directing energy, and as soon as you have constructed all of the necessary implements (we have a thread in the CM forum about ceremonial implements that features pictures of all of the required tools as I interpreted them–feel free to ask me if you would like any tips for making any of them), then feel free to perform the ceremony.  It is not the size of the space that matters, but the readiness of the magician to receive Initiation.  I’ll say it again: if you have enough space to do the LBRP, you have enough space to perform the Neophyte ritual.

In closing, it is a beautiful ritual of purification, consecration, being brought into the Light, and the wisdom of balance.  Beautiful poetic verses are contained within it as well as profound philosophical and mystic truths.  It is also also a true test, for it requires extraordinary, sustained focus and energy over a period of nearly 3 hours to perform properly.  It is a test as every initiation should be, an opening onto a new way of living, a true investiture of the 0=0 grade, and a beautiful ritual of dramatized transformation.  Far from not being ‘worthwhile on any level,’ as some have dubbed it, for the student of the Golden Dawn system of magic, it is worthwhile on [I]every[/I] level.

Charging of a Venus Talisman – Ritual Work for Friday, December 17, 2010

Date: Friday, December 17, 2010
Time: 6:40 – 8:00 p.m.
Sun Phase: Set
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous 89% Full
Mood: Originally despondent and somewhat apathetic by the end, clear, refreshed, and lovingly joyful
Activities: From 6:40-8:00 p.m.: Rite of Purification by Water, Fourfold Breath, Adoration of the Lord of the Universe, Opening Prayer of Intent, Qabalistic Cross, Ritual of the Hexagram Invoking Venus, Projection of LVX and Powers of Venus into Talisman (Charging), Invocation of Anael/Haniel, Projection of LVX and Powers of Venus into Talisman (Charging), Invocation of Hagiel, Invocation of Haggith, Projection of LVX and Powers of Venus into Talisman (Charging), Invocation of the Three Venusian Forces, Projection of LVX and Powers of Venus into Talisman (Charging) x6, Prayer of thanks, Ending Prayer, Adoration of the Lord of the Universe, Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, Annointing by Thyme and Mystic Cerum, License to Depart

This talisman charging ceremony proceeded much like the previous one, except that the ceremony was done from memory and somewhat abbreviated. This talisman was prepared for Laney’s adopted mother, an artist in need of a creative boost and an influx of loving feelings. The intent this time was:

“To empower this talisman with the Energies and Powers of Venus, that it might activate and enhance creative inspiration, support all forms of creativity and all arts, and attract and evoke limitless love for the Divine, for other human beings, for all living beings, for the Earth, and for the larger universe.”

By the end of the ceremony, I felt a great sense of beauty, lightness, clarity, peacefulness, and inner warmth/loving joy. This was very pleasant and a notable shift from the despondency and apathy that I felt prior to the ceremony. I feel an inner loving warmth in my Tiphareth center that continues to glow within me and reach out beyond me into all that surrounds me, beings living and inanimate alike. I see that nothing is separate in the world; it is only dualistic thought and language that create the illusion of separation.

In awareness, the great inner Kether, all appears in total interconnectedness and correspondence. I am all I experience and encounter and all that I do not experience and encounter. The little magician, S.C.F.V., is but a wave in the ocean of Being that is my true nature. While all formations are impermanent, conditional, co-dependently arising, and contingent, this Being is seamlessly one, a perfect unity that encompasses all and excludes nothing. Its Mystery is this… that it is seamlessly One, and yet, that all of the beautiful and diverse forms of daily life are none other than this One Without a Second, Brahman.

Published in: on December 18, 2010 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment