Date: April 6, 2018
Time: 7:45 to 8:25 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising, Morning
Moon Phase: Third Quarter, 66% illuminated, Moon in 27 degrees Sagittarius, in the 21st Zodiacal Mansion of Al-Baldah
Planetary Day: Day of Venus
Planetary Hour: Hour of the Moon
Activities: LIRP, Pathworking on the 28th Path of Tzaddi (צ), QC, prayer
I performed the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram in red robes with the Rose Cross Lamen and a red-green striped nemyss within the inner Temple. Then I projected through a violet astral gateway emblazoned with the Hebrew letter Tzaddi (צ) and prayed for help in travelling along the Path, being initiated into its Mysteries, and integrating its energies.
I saw the Violet path emerging below me, joining the Base of the Pillar of Mercy—Netzach (נצח) or Victory—to the lunar Sphere of Yesod (יסוד). I landed in a pool of clear water next to a mighty white-watered waterfall. I stepped out of the water onto the shore and surveyed the scene. This pool and waterfall were located in a jungle-like area with open plains around as well. I vibrated the Letter of the Path TZADDI (צ) and its Divine Name, YHVH (יהוה) until the vision crew crisper. As I vibrated Tetragrammaton, brilliantly sapphire blue fish came to the surface of the cool water. I was reminded that Tzaddi (צ) means “fish hook” and that this Path is often seen as reflecting in higher form the Piscean energy of the Path of Qoph (ק), where I had also landed in water at the beginning of the Pathworking.
I soon noticed that this Path was much more ‘shifty’ in its forms than the other Paths I had worked previously. The scene initially seemed sunlit, but then it darkened into night, lit only by star-light and the moon, I interpreted as the Tarot card of the path, the Star, and the light of the connecting Sephirah of Yesod (יסוד).
I asked for a Guide to lead me through the Path, but strangely, none came at first, which was unusual. I had to repeat the calls and requests several times until an entity appeared. It was a grey wolf, but as I greeted him with blessings in the name of YHVH (יהוה), it shifted form, first into a human-bodied entity with a wolf’s head, almost like the Egyptian neter (Spiritual Force) Wepwawet, whose name means “the Opener of the Ways,” which was often thought to mean the ways through the Underworld, appropriate symbolism for a Guide along a Pathworking.
He returned my blessings in a deep and coarse, but calm voice. I asked him if he would guide me through the Path and he said yes. Then surprisingly, he shifted form once more, this time into a large white Dire Wolf with a sapphire-blue water gourd around his neck. He invited me to climb onto his back so he could carry me to “the Queen of the Stars, who will reveal to you what you wish to know.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of my Pathworking through the Path of Resh (ר) in which I also wrote upon the back of a white animal spirit, in that case, a horse.
The Dire Wolf carried me through winding paths of starlit jungle. In the distance, I heard animal sounds, which may have been monkeys. I also saw a toucan-like spirit perched on the branch of a jungle tree. The vegetation reminded me of some of the trees and shrubs I had seen in Mexico while exploring the Mayan ruins.
As we traveled, I asked the Wolf if he could explain to me the core teaching of the Path of Tzaddi (צ). He reminded me that the Zodiacal attribution of the path was the Kerubic Sign of Aquarius (♒), whose name means “the Water-Bearer.”
“The meaning of Aquarius (♒) or Water Bearer has a hidden significance. Within your body, the bladder is not the only “water-bearer.” The Heart also “bears” the symbolic ‘water’ of blood, and carries within it, physical water.”
(It occurred to me that blood plasma is over 90% water.)
“The region of the Heart is also where emotions are subjectively felt,” the Wolf continued, “and emotions are the manifestations of the Elemental Water; thus, the Heart, as bearer of emotions, is also a Water-Bearer. And a heart in Love feels warm and seems to shine, like an Inner Sun. Tune in therefore, to Love and you will feel the spiritual Light. Without it, your Heart Center will be darkened and will bear only dark and cold Waters.”
I found the notion of the Heart as Aquarian or ‘Water Bearer’ very interesting. Certainly in the Golden Dawn system, the Sun-Tipharet-Adept-Christ-Osiris symbolism is very prominent. The connection to the Inner Sun notion reminded me of what the Alchemist Solar spirit Rashael had told me on the Path of Resh (ר), namely that “The Heart is the Sun within. Gold is its Nature, but how many mistake it for lead!” The Heart as Sun and yet, bearer of Water… fire and water united in the symbolism of Hearthood. It reminded me of the union of Water and Fire Triangles around the yellow solar T of Tipharet and the Tau cross in the Banner of the East.
I thanked the Wolf for his wisdom. At last, we stopped before a great and gigantic Tree. This Tree had vast green boughs and reminded me of the giant Tree in the Animal Kingdom park in Disney World in Florida, which, much to the amusement of Qabalists, is fittingly named the “Tree of Life.”
On the front of the Tree was a great door, and with the Wolf’s arrival, it slowly opened. The Wolf told me he would wait for me at the doorway as I crossed the threshold. I entered and in the dark space, saw a wooden throne upon which was seated a beautiful naked woman. She was entirely nude except for a Crown of Stars upon her head, a Scepter whose top depicted the Sigil of Aquarius (♒), and featured a light-blue crystal, and a silver necklace around her neck that suspended a light blue crystal between her breasts.
I knelt before her and offered her blessings and respect in the Name of YHVH (יהוה). She greeted me and invited me to approach. I asked her if she would kindly initiate me into the Mysteries and Energies of the 28th Path.
She invited me to approach and kneel before her.
“This Path is a Path of awakening the Heart, of tuning in through energy and emotion. The Way of Tzaddi (צ) is a Way of feeling, poured and balanced by the Water Bearer. Ours is not the Way of thinking and intellection, on which you rely all too much. If you would learn the Mysteries of this Path, you must leave Reason at the door and draw from deeper wells. Draw from emotion, from clairvoyant attunement, and from sexual power. Tell me, do you find me arousing?”
She was very beautiful, but her question made me blush out of guilt as I thought of my girlfriend.
“Ah, I see,” she said, as if tuning into my feeling.
“Then tune into your love for her.”
At once, my girlfriend appeared before me, nude, and with love and light in her eyes.
“Now, cease to rely on thinking. Tune into her with feeling. Start with your sexual feeling for her. Feel it fully. Do not think about it. Feel!”
I felt sexual arousal arising up from within me as a powerful serpentine energy.
“Now, as she pleasures you, tune into her through the Love of your Heart and the Passion of your Sexuality.”
My girlfriend began to slowly please me orally and I felt the sexual energy begin to rise up from my basal chakra.
“Let the sexual energy rise up through your central Column, your Middle Pillar. Think not about it, nor hold it back. Be fully present with the energy of your Love.”
I practiced tuning in to the pleasure and the sexual arousal, as well as the Love I feel for my girlfriend. I attempted to surrender and allow the sexual energy to rise up, up, up…
However, somewhere near the solar plexus, it seemed to stop moving, as if hitting a barrier. At once, I felt a rush of fear and a tensing up, the opposite of surrender.
“Surrender to it, give in, let go,” the Queen encouraged me.
However, the fear was too strong and I could not surrender.
“Ah, what a blockage there is in you!” she exclaimed.
She then took her Scepter and began to whack at an energetic ‘barrier’ within my spinal column. With each whack, this barrier, which appeared as a crystalline blue glass-like ‘floor’ or ‘ceiling’ within me, began to crack. It cracked more and more with each blow. Although light began to stream through the cracks, it would not shatter entirely.
“You have more work to do on this one than we can resolve in one night. Tune then in directly to the Love in your Heart.”
This was easier for me to connect to and achieve than to bring the sexual energy up into the Heart chakra.
“Receive then your Aquarian Love,” said the Queen.
(My girlfriend is an Aquarius)
With these words, my girlfriend pulled my sex inside of her as I lay on the ground and she was on top of me. She began to moan.
“Be fully present with her. Think of nothing! Simply connect to the feeling, to the pleasure from below and the Love from above and within…”
The Queen then pressed her Scepter to my heart center and said:
“Receive the Initiation of the Path of Tzaddi (צ).”
She then took out a white “fish hook” of energy an slammed it into my Heart Center. As she did so, she projected a flood of warm energy through my Heart that flooded through my Sphere of Sensation and blended with the Love and the sexual pleasure. It all came to a flush of White as a kind of spiritual orgasmic crescendo shone through me.
After it faded out, the image of my girlfriend faded away and I found myself again in my Robe.
“Return to your body and tune into feeling and emotion. See with the Heart, not only with the eyes or the Mind! Let the Water Bearer of your Heart be balanced in life and emotion. Harmony is the Way of the Adept.”
I thanked her for her teachings and offered her Offerings of Roses and bread and honey as thanks, presenting the same to the Wolf.
I thanked both again, left, walked on through the forest, and stood before the entrance to the Temple of Yesod (יסוד). As its doors openened, the scene faded out…
I found myself again in my Astral Temple. I performed the Qabalistic Cross to equilibrate the Aquarian / Star / Tzaddi (צ) energy and performed some freeform prayers, then sat back into my body and tuned into feeling and sensation.
Later in the day, I drew a Rune for guidance in how to apply the Wisdom of this Path, and drew Ansuz, Odin’s Rune, the Messenger Rune. Ansuz is primarily Odin’s Rune and represents communication, creativity, controlled and divine power. Spiritually, it is the rune of prophecy and revelation. It also encompasses the ideas of wisdom and good advice. It might also refer to a test or to the answers to questions being available, but not yet recognized. The meaning is that we need to be sure not to ignore a message simply because we don’t like the content. I also take it to mean that I should practice tuning in deeply through other forms of ‘communication,’ such as energetically, emotionally, and intuitively, rather than simply intellectually or through verbal language.
I astral projected into the Inner Temple, which appeared Earthy and natural, not at all like a Cathedral, but with plants and rock features. I assumed the astral appearance of the Hierophant in red robe, red and green nemyss and performed the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram with the Hierophant’s Wand.
I then exited the Temple through large double doors and, performing the Sign of the Enterer three times, sent myself flying down into the Sphere of Malkut. I landed before a vast green Temple. With the Divine Names of Adonai (אדוני) and Adonai Ha-Aretz (הארץ אדונ), its vast doors lumbered slowly open and I stepped into the Temple of the 10th Path of Malkut.
As I entered, the walls faded away and I found myself in a vast-domed Earthy realm. This space reminded me of a much larger version of the Biodome in Montreal, which has Earthy natural environments for different ecosystems within a domed structure. I tested the vision with the Divine Name of the Sphere and it grew sharper and clearer.
This place was brimming with life. My feet were wet with the crystal blue waters of a peaceful brook. Trees abounded and birds, deer, and other creatures were around. I made an offering to the King of the Elemental, Gob and asked him to kindly send a Gnome to guide me through the 10th Path.
I heard a low voice say “it is done.” Moments later, a male-looking spirit appeared before me. He had a great brown beard, wore a red cap on his head, and was dressed in a green coat over a brown vest and white shirt. He wore beige pants and had lively green glowing eyes.
I greeted him with love, respect, and blessings in the name of Adonai Ha-Aretz (הארץ אדונ),, which he returned.
“You wish to meet with the Mother, the Queen and Spirit of Earth?” He asked in a deep and gravelly voice.
I said yes and he instructed me to follow him into a cave. The narrow cavern entrance opened onto a winding tunnel through a grey-stoned cave with glittering blue crystals in its walls.
As we walked, I asked him about himself and about his People.
He replied: “I am of the People of the Gnomes.”
“You are Elemental Spirits of Earth?”
“Does your People often work with humans?”
“Partly because most of your People have forgotten us. And partly because many among you destroy our dwelling places.”
“Ah yes, sadly many among us are greedy and destructive, detached from Nature. But I am not like them.”
“Yes, we know what you have done for plants and animals. Tread lightly when you walk in the forest!”
“I will,” I said. “How should I proceed if I wish to work with the Spirits of a forest and the Gnomes who live there?”
“How should I begin to speak with them?”
“Make an offering at a Tree, sit before it with open or closed eyes, and invite any spirits present to introduce themselves. If they wish to do so, they will. If they do not, leave the offering there.”
“What offerings are best?”
“Food is best. Bread is good. Dipped in honey or syrup of maple is better.”
“Thank you, I will respect this. What kinds of things can Gnomes do for their friends among humans?”
“We can help with small things pertaining to our sphere, Nature, earth, gold, and contacting other spirits. Here, we are arriving.”
We stood before large stone doors carved into a vaulting cavern wall. As the Gnome spoke, the doors slid open.
“Thank you for your kind guidance, friend. May I ask your name?”
“GARGA is my name,” he said in his low and rumbly voice.
“Thank you, Garga,” I answered. “I am Frater S.C.F.V. or _________.”
“Honoured to meet you, _______” he replied. “I will wait for you here.”
I stepped into a vast stone chamber with plants growing up the walls. A narrow path led down the middle. On either side, I was surprised to see what appeared to be many knights in grey-black armour, all standing silently.
At the end of the central pathway, a spirit that appeared as a beautiful young woman with long, flowing brown hair sat on a rough black throne carved out of black glossy and volcanic stone that resembled obsidian. She wore a green and brown loose fitting gown and had bright green eyes.
Seeing her, I got down on one knee and greeted her with love, respect, and the blessings of Adonai Ha Aretz (הארץ אדונ).
“Oh so formal!” she said with a laugh. “But thank you. I am surprised to see you, Child of Earth. Few of your kind come here! Why have you come?”
I laughed and expressed my wish to be initiated into the Mysteries of the 10th Path.
“Very well,” she said in a silky and melodious feminine voice.
Speaking to the metal-clad beings on either side of me, she said:
“Golems, please leave us.”
It was then that I realized that these beings that resembled human nights were in fact animated entities shaped by the en-spirited forms of minerals from the Earth.
She placed a crown on my head woven of fresh ivy.
“Disrobe your form and lay on the white cloth on the floor.”
What she was asking me to do reminded me of the initiation ritual for binding oneself to the power of Typhon in the Papyri Graecae Magicae IV (154-285).
I followed her instructions and lay down on the form with arms crossed over my chest as in the PGM ritual, my eyes closed.
“Ah, how Airy and Fiery are your energies! You are often swept up by fiery passion and abstract thinking. You must learn to adapt. Ground yourself in the energies of Earth!” She proclaimed.
Then she crouched over me and pressed her lips to mine, as in a kiss, or a meeting of mouths in CPR to transmit air to infuse the lungs of the other person and resurrect them from the brink of death.
At once, a flood of energy came through my Sphere of Sensation. It felt calming, grounding, solid, stabilizing.
I remained in this position for a moment, after which she instructed me to rise and regarb, retaining the Ivy crown.
I did so and she began to speak:
“If you would rise to work with the realms and forces above, you must be soundly grounded in the Earth. Just as the flower roots itself deeply in the soil before it can send its pollen into the Air, so it is wise for you to do the same.
If you do not, not only can you not grow to reach the higher realms, but you will be like the seed of a dead plant, ever-swept this way and that, chaotically at the mercy of the whims of the Winds.”
I bowed to her and gave her an offering as thanks.
“Go in peace and tread lightly on the Earth.”
“I will, I said.
I returned to Garga and gave him an offering of bread dipped in honey as a thank you.
“Ah!” his usually grimly stern face lit up as he received it. “Thank you! Come, I will accompany you to the surface.”
Reaching it, I thanked him once more and blessed him in the name of Adonai Ha Aretz (הארץ אדונ). He returned the blessings.
I returned to the Astral Temple and performed the Qabalistic Cross and the Adoration of the Lord of the Universe.
By Frater S.C.F.V.
Qabalistic and non-Qabalistic Pathworking
When most contemporary occultists here the term “Pathworking,” their first thought is of an approach of astrally travelling through visionary journeys on the 32 Paths of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, that is, along the 22 Paths of the Hebrew Letters and the 10 Sephirot themselves, which represent Paths in their own right. The Qabalistic Pathworking system, particularly as practiced by the Adepti of the Golden Dawn, is a very powerful system and I have had some amazing and transformatively initiatory experiences by working it.
However, the Qabalistic system is by no means the only Pathworking or system of visionary journeying out there. In this article, I will briefly introduce some non-Qabalistic Pathworking systems. For the purposes of this discussion, I will define a Pathworking system as a collection of methods for skrying-based or astral travel-based visionary journeys through a set of associated specific realms, regions, symbols, or inner planes.
Tarot, Tattwa, and Enochian Tablet Pyramid Pathworking
Naturally, as the Golden Dawn pointed out, each of the 78 cards of the Tarot can be astrally projected into and each yields its own unique experiences to the magician.
This Tarot Pathworking system is often integrated with the Qabalistic Tree of Life Pathworking system, but it need not be. Indeed, the cards reveal distinct and unique meanings when worked alone without the astral influence of the Qabalistic symbols and energies shaping the vision. For example, the Trumps can be Pathworked in sequence from 0 to 21, a method called the astral Fool’s Journey.
Other Golden Dawn Pathworking systems include projecting through the Tattwas or each of the Pyramids of the Enochian Tablets. In this case, one enters an altered state and projects one’s consciousness ‘through’ a square/pyramid on one of the Enochian Tablets then examines the visions that follow.
For a great source on G.D.-style Pathworking approaches, see my friend Nick Farrell’s excellent Magical Pathworking: Techniques of Active Imagination. His Osiris Scroll lays out his own neo-Egyptiana version of an initiatory Pathworking system designed to lead through the reader through a series of visionary ordeals culminating in the realization of the Higher Self.
Ancient Roots of Scrying-Based Work
Certainly, the use of pools of water, crystals, and so on as scrying aids to visionary work is ancient indeed, so I do not credit the 19th century occult revival or Golden Dawn with inventing the notion of ‘pathworking’ or visionary journeying; the practice often mediated by scrying tools, seems to have ancient roots. We’ve already mentioned some of them above. To add onto the above discussion, in a well-known passage in the Old Testament, which would have been as familiar to the Grimoiric priestly-clerical magicians as the stories of Enoch, and Jacob’s ladder, the silver chalice that is placed in Benjamin’s sack when he leaves Egypt is described as being used by Joseph for divination.
In ancient Egypt, scrying and spirit communication seem to have been practiced with the aid of ink or water and there are myths about Hathor that present her as bearing a reflective shield in which visions could be seen, a kind of proto-scrying mirror. Aztec tlatoani read the reflections in obsidian. For the Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks water and bodies of water were from the earliest times associated with conduits to the realm of the gods and of the dead; indeed, the Papyri Graecae Magicae (PGM) have detailed instructions on communicating with spirits via bowls filled with water and an offering of oil (see PGM IV, 154-285). And, indeed, as we know, and as Dr. Stephen Skinner showed in his own work, many of the PGM practices and much of its theory were integrated into the Solomonic Grimoires.
Indeed, compare “…name of Typhon, at whom the ground, the depths of the sea, Hades, heaven, the sun, the moon, the visible chorus of stars, the whole universe all tremble…” (PGM IV. 223- 243) to “…this ineffable name Tetragrammaton Jehovah , which being heard, the elements are overthrown; the air is shaken, the sea runneth back, the fire is quenched, the earth trembles and all hosts of Celestials, Terrestrials & Infernals do tremble…” (Heptameron and Key of Solomon). And this is a passage directly taken from the same Papyrus that explains how to work with spirits through a bowl filled with water, or lecanomancy.
The earliest written evidence of lecanomancy or bowl-based scrying and divination are from the Babylonian Ritual Tablets dating to the 7th Century BCE, so these roots run way back into our magical history. To me, it is not inconceivable that these ancient scryers may have used their scrying media not just for divination, but also to generate immersive visions of the type generated in what we today call ‘pathworking’ in its various systems and manifestations.
In Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, Aaaron Leitch notes that “a form of Jewish shamanic magick known as Mahaseh Merkavah, or the “Work of the Chariot,” which he describes as a “practice of astral travel through the seven palaces of heaven (i.e., the planetary spheres), where the ultimate goal was the vision of the throne of God.”
It’s worth noting, however, that some authors contend that while the Seven Heavens may be equivalent with the Seven Planetary Spheres, other authors suggest that the Seven Palaces of the Merkavah system are distinct from the Heavens exist either in or beyond the Seventh Heaven. Regardless, however, as a visionary travel system, the Merkavah system is a Pathworking system, which greatly influenced and indeed, served as a precursor to, the historically later Qabalistic Tree of Life-based Pathworking system which followed it.
For anyone interested in the Merkavah system, my friend David Benton wrote a fantastic book on it entitled The Work of the Chariot. His book contains detailed instructions for performing merkavah mysticism, adapted from Medieval Hekhalot sources, along with the names and functions of the entities you will encounter, all in an easy to use and clearly-written format.
The Shahnameh System and Islamic Pathworking
The Shahnameh, a 10th-century epic work narrating historical and mythological past of Persia, gives a description of what was called the Cup of Jamshid (Jaam-e Jam), which was used by the ancient mythological Persian kings for observing all of the seven layers of the universe. As mentioned by Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda, it was believed that all seven heavens of the universe could be observed by looking into it (از هفت فلک در او مشاهده و معاینه کردی), a view that suggests the Merkavah tradition described above.
It was believed to have been discovered in Persepolis in ancient times. Most notably to our beloved Solomonic tradition, in the Islamic world, the name and legend of Jamshid was often linked to legends and lore about Sulayman (Solomon) himself. Indeed, it’s well worth diving into the Sufi traditions around Sulayman, which draw on the same source as the Western Grimoires, namely, the Testament of Solomon as filtered through the interpretations in the Qur’an and Hadith!
Indeed, astral or visionary journeying is built into the Orthodox framework of Islam, so it certainly long-predates the Victorians. Sufi magical traditions have ways of working with it. Indeed, according to standard Islamic theology, the Prophet Muhammad took a “Night Journey” in which he traveled from Mecca, now in Saudia Arabia, to a location in Jerusalem now identified as the site of the al-Aqsa Mosque. He was said to have ridden a white, winged Pegasus-like being called ‘Buraq’ on this very distant journey.
According to the legend, Muhammad alighted, tethered Buraq to the Temple Mount and performed prayer, where on God’s command he was tested by Gabriel. According to a hadith or oral tradition narrated by Anas ibn Malik, Muhammad said: “Jibra’il (Gabriel) brought me a vessel of wine, a vessel of water and a vessel of milk as a test, and I chose the milk. Jibra’il said: ‘You have chosen the Fitrah (natural instinct).'”
In the second part of the journey, the Mi’raj (an Arabic word that literally means “ladder”)–an intentional allusion to the Jacob’s Ladder tradition–Jibra’il took him to the heavens, where he toured the Seven Heavens, and spoke with the earlier prophets such as Abraham (ʾIbrāhīm), Moses (Musa), John the Baptist (Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā), and Jesus (Isa). Muhammad was then taken to Sidrat al-Muntaha – a holy tree in the seventh heaven that Gabriel was not allowed to pass.
Ibn ‘Abbas’ Primitive Version narrates all that Muhammad encounters throughout his journey through heaven. This includes seeing other angels, and seas of light, darkness, and fire. With Gabriel as his companion, Muhammad meets four key angels as he travels through the heavens. These angels are the Rooster angel (whose call influences all earthly roosters), Half-Fire Half-Snow angel (who provides an example of God’s power to bring fire and ice in harmony), the Angel of Death (who describes the process of death and the sorting of souls), and the Guardian of Hellfire (who shows Muhammad what hell looks like).
These four angels are met in the beginning of Ibn ‘Abbas’ narrative. They are mentioned in other accounts of Muhammad’s ascension, but they are not talked about with as much detail as Ibn ‘Abbas provides. As the narrative continues, Ibn Abbas focuses mostly on the angels that Muhammad meets rather than the prophets. There are rows of angels that Muhammad encounters throughout heaven, and he even meets certain deeply devoted angels called cherubim. The idea of traveling through subtle planes while ascending spiritually and communing with entities there is the essence of what we now call ‘pathworking,’ and here we find the Prophet Muhammad doing it 621 CE
This tradition speaks to the point of visionary journeying far predating the Victorian and methodologies of the Golden Dawn’s tradition of occultism–certainly the shamanic traditions in many Indigenous traditions of visionary journeying date all the way back into prehistory. It also shows how the Merkavah material seems to have influenced the development of early Islamic mysticism and mythology along parallel lines to the influences of the same material on the Grimoires around one thousand years later.
Tibetan and Ancient Egyptian Pathworking Systems
The Tibetan Bardo Thodol or Book of the Dead and Egyptian Book of Coming Forth by Day both lay out something akin to pathworking systems, but these texts and their attendant systems were mainly intended for guiding the soul after its passing from this mortal coil. Thus, they may be seen in a sense, post-embodiment or post-death Pathworking systems. Both systems are generally understood as presenting maps of the geography of the underworld, deities encountered there, trials undertaken, although there are advanced esoteric ways of doing this work while still alive. Indeed, Delog: Journey to Realms Beyond Death records the “vivid personal account of a journey through the “bardos” and “pure realms” was recorded by 16-year-old Dawa Drolma of Eastern Tibet, a renowned female lama” who became a “delog”-one who crosses the threshold of death and returns to tell about it.”
Moreover, some authors, such as Jeremy Naydler in Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: the Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt, argue that The Book of Going Forth By Day was used by Egyptian priest-magicians to train them in what some call “practical eschatology,” that is, the afterlife experience while still alive. Indeed, Chapters 125, 17 and 151 can be worked in an initiatory framework. David Nez has suggested to me that the Orphic golden tablets may have been used in similar fashion by Hellenistic Initiates. I have little experience with these systems, however, and so I must defer to my more-knowledgeable peers.
In this connection, in his in his fantastic Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, my esteemed friend Aaron Leitch writes that “the Chaldean or Babylonian priests of later times made this after-death journey while still alive-creating a kind of controlled near-death experience.” This Chaldean system represented their own version of this kind of post-death-stage Pathworking system.
Although this is not a traditional method of Norse spirituality, I have also found that the Runic systems can be Pathworked, whether one is using the 24 Runes of the Elder Futhark, the 29 or 33 Runes of the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, or the 16 Runes of the Younger Futhark. In this system, one simply applies the G.D. “Travel in the Spirit Vision” method and projects through the Rune symbol in an altered / trance state (e.g. theta-gamma synchronized state) and then notes the visions that ensue. For more on the Golden Dawn’s method, see Flying Roll XXXVI – Of Skrying & Traveling in the Spirit Vision and Flying Roll XXV – On Clairvoyance & Travelling in the Spirit.
John Dee’s Enochian Aethyric Pathworking System
John Dee’s Enochian system lays out a Pathworking system through the 30 Aethyrs, which are conceived as forming a map of the entire subtle universe in the form of concentric rings that expand outward from the innermost to the outermost Aethyr. These Aethyrs are entered using Enochian Calls, which function as Keys for entering the Aethyrs in visionary journeys. Dee’s Enochian map of the universe consisted of the Great Table of Four Watchtowers and the Tablet of Union surrounded by 30 concentric circles, the Aethyrs. These 30 Aethyrs are numbered from 30, namely TEX, the lowest and consequently the closest to the Watchtowers to 1 LIL, the highest, representing the Supreme Attainment.
In Aethyric Pathworking, Magicians working the Enochian system record their impressions and visions within each of the successive Enochian Aethyrs from TEX to LIL. Each of the 30 Aethyrs is populated by “Governors” — 3 for each Aethyr, except TEX which has four, for a total of 91 Governors. Each of the governors has a Sigil which can be traced onto the Great Tablet of Earth. In practical work with the Aethyrs, the Nineteenth Key of the 30 Aethyrs is the only call necessary for working with the Aethyrs.
It is only necessary to vary appropriately the name of the Aethyr itself near the beginning of the call. Once the Call is recited, the names of the Governors are vibrated one at a time and a record of the visions is kept. In this system, one can gaze into the Crystal Ball / Skrying Crystal after doing the Call and see what images form there or do a full-blown astral projection into the Aethyr after entering it with the appropriate Key. Aaron Leitch’s The Essential Enochian Grimoire: An Introduction to Angel Magick from Dr. John Dee to the Golden Dawn is a great help for working with this system.
Astrally Working the Stations of the Cross as a Pathworking System
Among Christian mystics, particularly Catholic mystics, there was a kind of experiential, initiatory tradition of working through the Stations of the Cross in a systematic, progressive initiatory framework that is reminiscent, in some of its more visionary workings, of a Pathworking tradition.
That particular visionary legacy lies in the background of many of the Renaissance Grimoires; indeed, some of the Catholic clerical grimoiric writers may have learned the working of the 12 stations during their standard clerical training. It began to be widespread in Europe in the 15th-16th centuries and was well-established as a common practice by the 17th century. Indeed, the Stations of the Cross system of ‘contemplative pilgrimage working’ was well-established by the time Johann Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum in his De praestigiis daemonum (1577) was written. The system was even more in vogue by the time of the Lesser Key of Solomon’s composition in the mid-17th century.
To quote one author on the subject, the “Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem which is believed to be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. The object of the stations is to help the Christians faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It has become one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in many Western Christian churches, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic ones.
Commonly, a series of 14 or 15 images will be arranged in numbered order along a path and the faithful travel from image to image, in order, stopping at each station to say the selected prayers and reflections. This will be done individually or in a procession most commonly during Lent, especially on Good Friday, in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during his passion.”
I have read Medieval and Renaissance accounts of Christian mystics from the 15th and 16th centuries, contemporaneous with some of our late-Medieval, early-Modern grimoires, in which they describe meditating on each image at each Station while reciting the associated prayers until they enter a kind of trance-state where they describe feeling like they are seeing the picture come to life or feel like they are transported within it and are experiencing the scene as if they were there with Christ in that moment. Worked astrally and systematically, this exoteric system could be adapted into an esoteric Pathworking system in the magical sense.
The Armadel of Magic
The the Armadel of Magic (not to be confused with the Arbatel or Almadel) could also be regarded as presenting a kind of evocational pathworking system. It has unfortunately taken a lot of criticism from some Grimoiric scholars, but in essence it is highly shamanic system, which works with the perennially shamanic Terrestrial/Infernal/Celestial world division. As Aaron points out in Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, “the focus of the work seems to be upon visionary quests or spiritual encounters facilitated by the magickal characters, as well as gaining some magickal powers such as healing, alchemy, agriculture, etc.” The emphasis on shamanic visionary quests seems very reminiscent of other Pathworking systems although the framework is here one of a simple evocational system centered around Spirit sigils.
Within the Zoroastrian tradition, there is a shamanic tradition around visionary ascensions recorded in the Book of Arda Viraf. In this system, the Magician performs some preparation rituals such as a ritual bath, suffumigations, prayers, and so on, and then drinks wine and comes a psychoactive brew. Thereafter, he or she travels through a system of hells and heavens. Of the method of the Magician’s travels, the text says:
21. And then Viraf joined his hands on his breast before the Mazdayasnians, and said to them (22) thus: ‘It is the custom that I should pray to the departed souls, and eat food, and make a will; afterward, you will give me the wine and narcotic.’ (23) The Dasturs directed thus: ‘Act accordingly.’
24. And afterward, those Dasturs of the religion selected, in the dwelling of the spirit, a place which was thirty footsteps from the good. (25) And Viraf washed his head and body, and put on new clothes; (26) he fumigated himself with sweet scent and spread a carpet, new and clean, on a prepared couch. (27) He sat down on the clean carpet of the couch, (28) and consecrated the Dron, and remembered the departed souls, and ate food. (29) And then those Dasturs of the religion filled three golden cups with wine and narcotic of Vishtasp; (30) and they gave one cup over to Viraf with the word ‘well-thought,’ and the second cup with the word ‘well-said,’ and the third cup with the word ‘well-done’; (31) and he swallowed the wine and narcotic, and said grace whilst conscious, and slept upon the carpet.
The “narcotic” is labeled here as Vishtasp; this was a hemp or marijuana extract or, according to some sources, a variant of hashish. In this text, some of the Pathworking locations are described as “the Star Track,” “the Moon track,” “the Sun track,” in addition to various other locations in the “Heavens” and “Hells,” in which the Magician undergoes visionary experiences and discourses with spirits and deities. Chris Bennett describes this system and other similar shamanic systems extensively in his Cannabis and the Soma Solution.
The Arda Viraf has been argued as an influence on the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey and on the much later Purgatorio, Inferno, and Paradiso of Dante Alighieri, in which Dante the Pilgrim undertakes his own journeys through purgary, hell realms, and heavenly realms respectively.
It’s worth noting that in this text, as in many others, a “magic carpet” is used to facilitate astral travel in the spirit vision. My friend A. Wretch wrote a very fascinating compilation of texts that use carpets as aids to Pathworking and visionary travel entitled Magic Carpets, Sensory Deprivation, and Entheogenic Ceremonial Magick, which I would highly recommend.
In our discussion of the Arda Viraf, he pointed out that “the Book of Arda Viraf is extremely important! While there seems to be some question as to its original dating, it could well be the origin of magick carpets. It also seems like Merkabah precursor. Keep in mind that in the book of Kings it describes Solomon’s chariot, which is also called a bed, but this is in reality a palanquin.
This likely comes from the Zoroastrian influences in Judaism as with Arda Viraf, which puts the magick carpet over the “couch” which is a term that is also sometimes used for a palanquin. You mentioned the cup of Jamshid, but the Shahnameh also explains palanquin Merkabah like experiences among the kings like Kay Kavus and Nimrod… you will find a reference to a great article in the start of my Magick carpets anthology.”
While the Qabalistic Pathworking system is remarkably rich and can be very powerful and transformative, it is not the only Pathworking system. My hope is that in this article, you have found some interesting pathways–no pun intended–for further research and experimentation. See you down the astral Rabbit hole…
- Have you had any notable experiences with any of these systems that you’d like to share in the comments?
- Are there any other key non-Qabalistic pathworking systems that this article has left out? What can you tell us about them?
Date: March 20, 2018
Time: 7:33 – 8:04 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising, Golden, clear sky on the Spring Equinox, Sun in Aries
Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent in 6 degrees Taurus, Lunar Mansion of Thurayya
Planetary Day: Day of Mars
Planetary Hour: Hour of Mars into Hour of the Sun
Activities: LIRP, Pathworking of the Path of Resh (ר), LBRP
I projected into my astral Temple wearing a red robe, the red and green-striped nemyss of the Hierophant, since I will be serving as Hierophant in tonight’s Spring Equinox Ceremony, the Rose Cross Lamen around my neck. The Temple appears brilliantly golden with a bright orange banner baring the Hebrew Letter Resh (ר) in harmony with my Will to travel along this Path.
I perform the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram with the Hierophant’s Scepter, then I exit the large golden doors of the Temple. After performing the Sign of the Enterer three times, I project through a vast orange archway baring the letter Resh (ר) in white.
I find myself flying through a black and infinite space until I see the Path that connects Yesod (דוסי) to Hod (הוד) coming into view below me. I pass through its border of orange light and find myself standing in a beautiful green field. The sky is a brilliantly clear blue with sparse wispy white clouds drifting peacefully within it. How different this Path feels than the chthonic Path of Tav, the volcanic Path of Shin or the watery and Piscean Path of Qoph (ק)!
The energy here, the whole atmosphere of the place, is exuberant, vivacious, and brimming with light and hope. Off to my left, I see a giant green mountain with trees and greenery growing all along its slopes. Looking more closely, I see that the mountain takes the shape of a giant Green Man. It is an awe-inspiring sight to see. A bright yellow-golden Sun–the Planetary attribution of the Path–illuminates the scene overhead in clear and golden light. Nothing is foggy here; all appears sharp and pristine.
I test the vision by vibrating RESH (ר) and tracing the Hebrew Letter in the Air in Orange Light as well as vibrating YHVH ELOAH V’DA’AT (תעדו הולא הוהי), the Divine Name of the Path. The astral images grow crisper as they resonate with the Name.
In the Name of YHVH ELOAH V’DA’AT (תעדו הולא הוהי), I ask for a Guide to lead me through the Path of Resh (ר). Moments later, I hear the sounds of galloping horses. Turning around to look behind me, I discover that the sounds come from two white horses. One is riderless. On the other, I see a blonde-haired child in a red robe who reminds me of the child on the Tarot card of the Sun–the Major Arcanum attributed to the Path of Resh (ר).
I greet the smiling child with the peace and blessings of YHVH ELOAH V’DA’AT (תעדו הולא הוהי), which he returns. I ask him if he would guide me through the Path and he happily exclaims “with pleasure!” His whole presence is brimming with pleasant exuberance, optimism, and life. It feels rejuvenating simply to be in his presence.
I climb on the back of the second white horse and can feel its powerful muscles shifting below me as it gallops. I have never physically ridden a horse, but the experience here reminds me of the feeling of riding an elephant bareback in Laos and feeling its strong muscly form shift beneath me with every step she takes.
“Can you initiate me into the Mysteries of the Path of Resh (ר)?” I ask the Child.
“I cannot, but I know one who can!” He says, smiling.
“What kind of Spirit are you,” I ask. “You shine with so much Light that you remind me of an Angel.”
Hearing this, the Child laugh. “Hehehe! No! I am a Solar Spirit, a Child of the Sun! In another way, I am a reflection of your own Inner Child. Are you in touch with him?”
This comment gives me pause for a moment as I reflect.
“I hope so!” I say.
Hearing this, the Child laughs out loud.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“To see the Alchemist,” he replies.
Our horses’ gallop slows into a slow shuffle as we enter a lush green forest and make our way along a light brown-earthed winding path through the trees and underbrush.
I look around at the forest. Between the trees, I am surprised to see three mighty lions. One has the golden fur one is accustomed to see on a Lion, but the other two are brilliantly Green and Red respectively. They growl at us as we walk by and I wonder if I should be on my guard.
“Don’t mind them,” the Child says, smiling and joyfully and ebulliently calm as always.
At last, we come to what appears to be a cabin in a clearing in the woods. The outer walls are beige-white and the roof is made of red slanting shingles. Large plumes of mysterious smoke emerge from a golden cylindrical chimney on the roof.
“Go on in,” says the Child. “I’ll wait for you here.”
I knock on the golden door, which has an engraving of a solar disc with a point in the center, the alchemical sigil of the Sun, carved into it.
“Come in!” Says the warm voice of a friendly older man. “I’ve been expecting you.”
I enter the cabin and find it quite crowded inside. A cauldron simmers over a fire as a tall-grey bearded man wearing robes with golden symbols of the Sun emblazoned upon them stirs some kind of red liquid within it. Wooden tables are littered with a wide variety of alembics, tubes, retorts, flasks, and other Alchemical instruments. Sunlight filters in through grimy windowpanes.
I greet him with the peace and blessings of YHVH ELOAH V’DA’AT (תעדו הולא הוהי), which he returns.
“Forgive me,” he says, “I’m working on a tincture of the Stone.”
“The Philosopher’s Stone?”
“Yes,” he said. “To turn Lead into Gold, the metal of the Sun. It is the Great Work of the Adept; Tipharet (תפארת) is the Sphere of the Sun. The true Initiate who attains it must himself or herself become gold, become the Sun.”
“In the Name of YHVH ELOAH V’DA’AT (תעדו הולא הוהי), may I ask you your name?”
“Ah, you are so formal!” Laughs the Alchemist.
“Of course. It is Rashael. Resh (ר), Shin (ש), Aleph (א), Lamed (ל) in your beloved Hebrew.”
I laugh and thank him.
“What is the meaning of those Red, Yellow, and Green Lions out front?” I ask.
What he begins to reveal comes in a flow of insights clearer and more illuminating than any I have ever seen in an astral vision, without the slightest hesitation to interrupt the flow of the communication…
“The Green Lion is often shown eating the Sun,” Rashael says. “This an alchemical symbol for a substance that dissolves gold, the universal vitriol. The Red Lion is at once liquefied Gold and the rubedo or reddening stage, born out of the blood of the Green Lion. The Yellow or Golden Lion is the perfected and transmuted Gold itself. So much for alchemy, but to me… they are my pets!”
I laugh and ask him if he would be willing to Initiate me into the Mysteries of the Path of Resh (ר).
“Yes,” Rashael says, “but to know the ways of the Path of the Sun, you must be Him. Therefore, drink this, the tincture of the Sun, the Red Lion, tincture of the Stone itself.”
He ladles the mysterious red liquid into an Erlenmeyer flask and trusting him, I drink it. It has no flavour, but sends a wave of warm sensations radiating through my Sphere of Sensation. I feel an Inner Light glowing out from my Heart region and radiating warmth throughout my consciousness.
“The Heart is the Sun within. Gold is its Nature, but how many mistake it for lead!” Rashael says.
“Many take themselves to be lead and reflect that perception to you. They may see only lead when they look at you too! But if you remember nothing else, remember this:
The true alchemist sees gold where others see lead, shows others how to transmute potential into gold, and does the same to the lead he or she finds within him- or herself.
When others reflect lead at you, see with Alchemical eyes, speak with an Alchemical tongue, and reflect naught but gold back to them. If you attain this Wise Arcanum, then you yourself shall be the Stone!”
I bow and thank him for these wise words.
“You know, the least important part of alchemy happens in the laboratory, with plants and metals,” he continues.
“The most important part happens in the transmutations of daily life, the prima materia. Who sees this shines from the Heart of the Inner Sun and sees the Light that hides in darkness.
Oh, if you would go on to Hod (הוד), take this with you.”
Rashael lifts up a radiant golden medallion on a gold chain and places it around my neck. Engraved into this Solar Pentacle, are a Circle with a point in its center and a Hebrew letter Resh (ר).
I thank the wise Rashael, who radiates warmth, golden love, and Solar wisdom in everything he says, for all he has given me and wish him well. He returns my blessings with his characteristic good-humored grace. When I ask him if I can call upon him again, he says “Happily! Drop by anytime. It was a pleasure.”
Grateful and still glowing from the effects of his tincture, I rejoin the Child outside and climb back up onto my horse.
The Child continues in his exuberant way, smiling and laughing.
“Did you get what you were looking for from the Alchemist?” He asked.
“Yes, indeed! Abundantly so!”
“Fantastic. Sounds like him, alright! He never disappoints! On we go to the end of the Path to Hod (הוד).”
As our white horses shuffle their way through the forest, we come upon the Red, Green, and Yellow Lions again. This time, however, they do not growl. Instead, they bow graciously as we pass. “How interesting,” I think, wondering if they recognize my golden medallion as the Alchemist’s.
At last, we come upon a golden bridge over a vast gorge. On the opposite side, the orange Mercurial Temple of Hod (הוד) (הוד) glows brightly in the Sun.
“I can go no further, I’m afraid,” smiles the Child. “Be safe, be well, and do not let the darkness of dreary thoughts consume you. Instead, tune into your inner Sun and shine from within!”
I thank the Child for his counsel and guidance through the Path of Resh (ר) and we salute each other goodbye. Then I make my way along the golden bridge towards Hod (הוד). Looking to my left, I see a vast waterfall thundering into the depths.
Standing before the great orange doors of Hod (הוד), I hold up the medallion. The Sun reflecting off its surface casts a glimmer on the door, which open its mighty double doors. I step inside and the scene fades to orange.
At home in my astral inner Temple, I perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and return to my body.
Update I: a sense of glowing inner warmth, spiritual presence, and gratitude for the Gold has within lingered me through as I did my social work with older adults throughout the day. I reminded myself to remain sensitive to gold hidden in the lead of problems and work presented throughout the day and I found more than enough to prove Rashael right!
Update II: at night, my ability to practice the reflecting only gold back to those who see lead philosophy was tested when my Temple’s Officers all informed me for different reasons that they would not be able to attend the Equinox Ceremony and we would have to cancel it. I was shocked. After all of the preparations for the Ceremony I had done, I was really blindsided by this. I would have no choice but to renew all Officer positions until the following year since we could not install a new Hierophant in the Temple until the next Equinox, the Autumn Equinox. Then I went to my girlfriend’s house only to find her facing numerous daily life challenges. What a bushel of lead I was handled here from which to attempt to make Gold!
If anyone ever tells you that Alchemy is all about “love and light,” they have never done the real work; real Alchemy works with all of the dross of life, with suffering, with the messiness and complexity of life, and is hard work.
Calling on the Divine, my HGA and the Spirit of the Runes to show me a Rune best suited to the lessons of this Pathworking and the aftermath of having to cancel the Equinox Ceremony, I cast Nauthiz, the Rune of Necessity. It literally means “need-fire” or “firey-need.” Esoterically, it suggests constraints and constrictions, which remind me of the energies of Saturn and the Sephirah of Binah (בינה).
Nauthiz connotes need, necessity, extreme circumstances, needs, wants, cravings, compulsions, and desires. Nauthiz suggests obstacles and adversity, but also the perseverance to overcome them. It counsels patience and tends to have a delaying influence. It also suggests hard-work, creative friction, the consequences of past action, short term pain for long-term gain,
As Tyriel writes, “Invoking need is more powerful than wishing, but what we need and what we desire are not always the same. In this sense, Nauthiz can protect us from ourselves, but its lessons are often harsh. The force of the past exerts its effect on us in the present. Previous action catches up with us and attempts to restrain and restrict future action, which is the counter-movement of the cyclical processions of JERA. However, armed with humility we can learn our lessons from not only our own errors, but the mistakes and successes of others.”
Update III: The Nauthiz Rune proved Prophetic; today was a difficult day of friction, conflict, delays, and needs for patience and perseverance. Rashael’s work of transmuting the lead of daily life into gold goes on…
I project into my astral Temple and don the form of blue robes and a blue and orange-striped nemyss. The temple appears blue and green with a large letter Qoph (ק) on a banner and engravings of Fish, alluding to Pisces (♓), the Sign attributed to the Path, and the Moon, the Tarot Major Arcanum linked to the Path, built into the architecture of the high-vaulted Temple. I complete the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram and exit the Temple through its vast doors.
I stand before a tall Archway bearing the letter of Qoph (ק). As I stand here, I’m reminds that “Qoph” alludes both to the “back of the head,” which evokes the idea of the cerebellum. Appropriate enough, this Latin word as written in English, contains EL (אל), within it, the Divine Name of the Path of Qoph (ק). The cerebelleum at the “back of the head” controls our most basic primal instincts and motor functioning. The cerebellum is located behind the top part of the brain stem, where the spinal cord meets the brain, and is made of two hemispheres.
The cerebellum receives information from the sensory systems, the spinal cord, and other parts of the brain and then regulates motor movements. This ancient part of the human brain coordinates voluntary movements such as posture, balance, coordination, and speech, resulting in smooth and balanced muscular activity. It is also important for learning motor behaviors. Although it is a relatively small portion of the brain, about ten percent of the total weight, it contains roughly half of the brain’s neurons, specialized cells that transmit information via electrical signals. In Hebrew, Qoph suggest a “monkey or ape” (קוף), which invites reflections on our oldest primatological evolutionary origins. Since the cerebellum is such an ancient part of the primate brain, the two meanings of Qoph, “monkey” and “back of the head” are connected together.
I project through the Archway after performing the Sign of the Enterer three times. I see the 29th Path of Qoph (ק) come into focus below me, reaching up from Malkut (מלכות) to Netzach (נצח). I seem to come at it through a vast black space from far above, as if it are a target into which I am aiming to land after parachuting out of an airplane.
I plummet down into the Path and land in a vast ocean of blue-green water. A faint purple fills the background of the scene, and I’m reminds that this is the King Scale colour of the Path. But it also connects to the Sphere of Yesod, which is attributed to the Moon, the Tarot card attributed to the Path of Qoph (ק) .
The blue waters in which I float remind me of the energies of Chesed (חסד) and of the clothing of the High Priestess, attributed to the Path of Gimel (ג) way higher up on the Tree, to which the Moon is also attributed. The green hue of the water further reminds me of the colour of Netzach (נצח), whose Venusian (♀) Temple looms off in the distance, the endpoint of the Path of Qoph (ק).
I test the vision by vibrating the Divine Name of the Path, EL (אל) and Qoph (ק) multiple times and it becomes clearer. Lightning flashes and thunder boomes in the distance. Rain falls into the water in which I float. I kindly petition the King of the Undines in the Name of EL (אל) for a Guide to lead me through the Path of Qoph (ק) offering blessings as thanks.
A moment later, and to my great surprise, a large brown galleon with white sails comes sailing rapidly towards me out of the mists of fog. Engraved in its wood panelling are ornate carvings of fish swimming in a school. A rope ladder is cast down and I climbed it onto the deck to see there is only one being aboard the ship.
The large galleon is helmed, funny enough, a tall pirate Captain-like figure in a red waistcoat with flowing grey hair, a sizable beard, and wild and glowing blue eyes. In one hand, he holds the ship’s large wooden-speaksd steering wheel. In the other, he holds a blue wand with a head formed from the Sigil of Pisces (♓).
I greet him with respect and blessings in the Name of EL (אל), which he returns. I ask him for his name in the Name of EL (אל) and the letters Qoph (ק)-Gimel(ג) -Aleph(א)-Lamed(ל) (Qophgal) form in the air as he pronounces “Qophgal.”
“Come, we sail now on the Path to the Temple of Netzach (נצח),” he tells me.
As we begin to sail, I see a green Temple glimmering in the distance, the Temple of Netzach (נצח). It has a domed roof, undulous curves and a large Sigil of Venus (♀) jutting out from the top of its dome.
“Look, the Spirits of Water swim with us,” says Qophgal through the rain.
On either side of our ship, dolphins, schools of fish and mermaid-like Undines swim in droves, periodically leaping out of the water only to splash back in. There must be as many as 100… the numerical value of Qoph (ק). I wonder what lessons the members of this School carries with them.
As I stand beside Qophgal at the helm of the vast ship, I am struck by the Captain’s notable warmth of heart and coolness of head. When he speaks, his tone is kind, comforting, and warm, like hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day.
Here we are on an incredibly tumultuous sea with vast swooping waves, torrential rain, booming thunder, and flashing lightning bolts and he appears calm and warmly amused.
“Emotions may swirl and storms may come forth,” Qophgal says, “but with a calm mind, we can flow with the currents.”
This seems to be a key lesson of the Path of Qoph (ק).
I soon see what appears to be a large spire-like tower emerging from the mist. As we come closer, I realize that it is a thin stone tower in the shape of two fish interwined and bound together with rope, clearly Piscean (♓) symbolism. The rope itself forms a winding path around the giant tower up which one can climb, as in the rough sketch below.
“You must climb alone, I’m afraid,” the Captain laughs.
“You’ll meet another atop the tower. They’ll help you out. Come back when you’re done. I’ll meet you here.”
I smile and thank him then begin to climb the winding path around the spire. It is slippery from the rain, which continues to beat against the tower from all sides. I wonder if lightning might strike me as I make my ascent, but thankfully, it does not.
At last, I reach the summit of the spire and see a beautiful Undine standing there. She is ethereally lovely in a light blue Grecian robe with blonde hair and glowing blue eyes, like those of Qophgal. We greet each other with blessings in the Name of EL (אל).
In spirit, auric feel, and blue robed appearance, she reminds me of the High Priestess card, attributed to the Moon-path of Gimel (ג) between Tipharet (תראפת) and Keter (כתר). This seems to suggest a lunar connection to her through the Planetary attribution of the High Priestess to the Moon. The Moon, of course, is also the Tarot attribution of the Path of Qoph (ק). Like Qophgal, she holds a Pisces-headed wand (♓).
I ask if this spirit would kindly tell me her name in the Name of EL (אל) and she states that it is “Qophgiel (Qoph (ק).-Gimel (ג) -Yod (י)-Aleph (א) -Lamed (ל). I then ask if she would Initiate me into the Mysteries of the Path of Qoph (ק). She tells me that the Way of the Path is about riding the waves of emotion so as not to drown in them.
“Would you receive the energy of the Path of Qoph (ק)?” She asks. I nod humbly.
Qophgiel then performs the Sign of the Enterer and projects Piscean (♓), Watery energy into me through her Pisces (♓) Wand.
I receive it with the Sign of Harpocrates and immediately feel a flush of vulnerable emotion arising. “Unpurified, you cannot continue along the Path of Qoph (ק),” she says.
She raises a blue cup, which bears a Lotus at the bottom like the Ancient Egyptian blue lotus cups that inspired the Golden Dawn’s Water Cup, and pours it over me three times, saying “I purify you with Water.”
The water feels cleansing, rejuvenating and refreshing. Somehow, through the falling rain and despite the ocean water in which I had just voted, I can distinctly feel this water, as if it is exorcised and charged like the water in the Key of Solomon.
I equilibrate this influx of energy throughout my Sphere of Sensation with the Qabalistic Cross.
“If you would enter the Temple of Netzach (נצח) along the Path of Qoph (ק), carry with you this symbol.”
Around my neck, she places a circular blue disc-like lamen. It hangs from a band of gold. The lamen depicts a Water Triangle with the letter Qoph (ק) in its center.
This lamen seems to be the mirror image of the red lamen with the letter Shin (ש) within the Fire Triangle that I has received on the Path of Shin (ש), on the symmetrical other side of the Tree, linking Malkut (מלכות) to Hod (הוד) in the Pillar of Severity along the fiery Path of Shin (ש).
“Thus purified and thus empowered, you are prepared to continue,” she says.
“Go in peace with the blessings of EL (אל) and attend to the Waters within and without.”
I thank her and offer her blessings in the Name of EL (אל).
As I walk down the winding path towards Qophgal’s ship, I feel the rain continue to fall upon my blue robe and blue and orange striped nemyss.
I return to the ship and the Captain pulls up the anchor. We continue to sail towards the Temple of Netzach (נצח), which draws ever closer.
“If you would be victorious in this life, stay your course despite the storms,” Qophgal tells me. “If you learn nothing else on this Path, remember this.”
Mermaid-like Undines and fish continue to swim alongside our ship. At last, we arrive at the green shore of the Temple of Netzach (נצח). I thank the kind Captain for his passage and salute him, which he returns.
As I stand before the great green doors of the Temple of Netzach (נצח), I hold up the symbol of Qoph (ק) that Qophgiel had given me and they slowly rumble open. A flood of green light issues forth from within. I slowly walk into the Temple and the scene fades to green and then to black.
I find myself back before the Altar in my astral Temple. I perform the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and close the Temple.
Once back in ordinary waking consciousness in my body, I cast a Rune as I often do after Pathworkings. Surprisingly, the Rune I draw is once again Gebo, the Gift Rune I drew after my Pathworking on the Path of Tav.
I’m again reminded of this Rune’s link to gifts, windfalls, forgiveness, and compassion. It is a Rune well-suited to the Pillar of Mercy-side of the Tree of Life on which the Path of Qoph (ק) is located. I feel grateful for the gifts I have been given by the entities I met on the Path in this working and offer thanks and blessings in return for them.
Update I: After this Pathworking, I feel very emotionally vulnerable, raw, and tender. The watery currents of this Path have stirred up some previously dormant feelings within me. I carry these feelings throughout the day as the mind begins to process them.
Update II: The day after this Pathworking, a steady stream of insights into my feelings flow into the consciousness. I gain some deeper understanding of why I have felt as I have in my past relationships and how of those old emotional patterns carry into my present relationship. The themes are fear, sadness, grieving, worry, and the tension between feeling limited and wanting freedom and openness. I spend the day working on these feelings, recognizing them as gifts of the Path of Qoph (ק). These watery energies begin to subside as I accept, acknowledge, and receive their insights. By the end of the day, I once again feel balanced and equilibrated and a sense of serenity returns where the Watery currents of sadness and painful emotions had flowed through.
Date: March 2nd, 2018
Time: 7:37 – 8:00 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising
Moon Phase: Full Moon, in 17 degrees Virgo, Simak Mansion of the Moon
Planetary Day: Day of Venus
Planetary Hour: Hour of Mercury
Activities: LIRP, Godform Assumption, Pathworking of the 31st Path of Shin (ש) , LBRP
I astral-projected into the inner Temple, which took a red form with fiery and tooth-like motifs. A large white Hebrew letter Shin (ש) was emblazoned over a door leading outwards beyond the Temple to the Archway of the Path.
I formulated the Godform of Osiris vibrating OUSIRI (ⲟⲩⲥⲓⲣⲉ) and greeted him with love and respect. He appeared dressed entirely in white, with a green face and wearing his elongated white Crown. In one hand, he held a Crux Ansata or Ankh. In the other, the Hierophant’s Wand.
I asked him to assist me to explore the 31st Path of Shin (ש) and he replied in a deeply affirmative, but calming voice, “we shall go as One.” I assumed the Godform and felt its illuminated, fearless, comfortably ruling energy flow over me.
Once in the assumed Godform, I performed the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram with the Hierophant’s Wand. After the final Qabalistic Cross, I walked towards the massive doors of Shin(ש) , which opened before me.
Exiting the Temple, I stood before a vast arch with a Shin (ש) on its keystone. I performed the Sign of the Enterer three times and projected through the door, flying through an expanse of Space and into the 31st Path that joins the Sphere of Malkut (מלכות) to Hod (הוד).
As I enter the Path, my field of astral vision fadea to red and I immediately feel an intense heat. As the red fades, I find I stand on red, rocky, sandy terrain that reminds me of the physical surface of the planet Mars. In my hand is no longer the Hierophant’s Wand, a white Shin (ש)-headed Wand. I stand on the edge of a cliff. In the plummeting gorge beneath me, a river of molten lava flows, glowing golden and emanating powerful heat.
I soon realize I am not alone. Above me tower several giant humanoid figures. They have muscular forms and are naked apart from a loin cloth draped over their waists. They stand silently watching over the whole of the land of the Path of Shin (ש) with yellow eyes. They do not speak. They stand in Silence, these Grigori or Egregoroi (ἐγρήγορο), the silent Watchers of the Path.
I test the vision by vibrating the name of Shin (ש) , multiple times tracing the letter in white flame, and vibrating ELOHIM (אלוהים), the Divine Name of the Path. The vision becomes clearer and crisper. I light the flame of an offering of incense to the King of the Salamanders, Djinn, and ask him to send me a Fire Elemental to guide me through the Path of Shin (ש).
I hear a deep voice coming from a strong-looking figure seated on a throne with his face and form veiled and unseen. He says “Your offering is accepted and your wish granted.” Soon after, a fiery lizard-looking figure appears on the cliff beside me.
When he comes near me, however, he shifts his fiery form from a lizard into a red-robed figure with a face of pure flame. He does not speak, but communicates through gestures. He does a gesture with his hand and the message to me is simple. To continue on, I must go on alone. Not even the Godform can come with me. I must be purely exposed in my own astral form as Frater S.C.F.V. Understanding the message, I step out of the Godform of Osiris, appearing in my own form in a red robe with a red and green striped-nemyss. I thank Ousiri and salute him with the LVX Signs, which he returns. “Go in peace,” he says, before vanishing in a flash of white light.
My red-robed Elemental Guide now points a single flaming finger down into the abyss of molten lava before the cliff. The message is clear: “You must jump alone.” So much for my idea of a Guided journey through the Path of Shin (ש). My Guide has only just arrived and it is already time to bid him adieu. I thank him for his guidance and gather my courage.
I leap from the cliff. Down I plummet, down, down, and see the white-hot lava racing towards me. When I hit the lava, I feel a rush of red light flaming through my Sphere of Sensation and pass down into the depths of the magma. I feel my astral form begin to lick up with flames that begin to envelop me. Through the thickness of the lava and the tongues of the flame, I can barely see. Then I feel them. Fiery gnashing teeth (Shin (ש) is Hebrew for ‘tooth’), that begin to tear into my astral form. What are they attached to? At first, it’s hard to tell. Then it becomes clear– they are fiery serpents with large fangs. They chew at me.
At first I am afraid, but the fear dissipate when what is happening becomes clear. The fiery teeth are eating away the impurities and impediments to further progression and Higher Initiation. I soon realize that these destructive flames are flames of purgation, of purification, of the death of the old to make way for the dawning flame of the new. I surrender to the process. A massive snake of fire, far larger than all the others, races towards me. He swallows me whole. Hot suffering, fiery agony, and red light flood my consciousness followed by release. The red fades into black.
I find myself in a confined space. I reach out my hands and touch a hard surface near my face. I hear a stirring from beyond the walls of my enclosure. A loud horn-like blast sounds and vibrates the walls of my prison. At last, the wall above me begins to open and I find I was lying within a coffin. I emerge, reborn and stand within my coffin. In the sky above me is a titanic Angelic figure with flaming hair. I realize that I am in the midst of the scene from the card of Judgment, the Tarot Trump attributed to the Path of Shin (ש) .
Instead of Gabriel, however the figure in the Clouds is Israfel, the Archangel who sounds the Trumpet of Judgment in the Islamic mythological story.
Instead of a white headdress, however, the Archangel has hair of fire and eyes of flame as well. The Angel greets me and says:
“To reach the Splendor of the Divine,
You must first give up the thirst for personal glory,
To rise in the Light,
The self must fall,
Self-centeredness must be burned away
To clear a path for a vaster Life,
To live as your Self, you must die
As the superficial self you take yourself to be,
To grasp what you are, you must let go of what you’re not,
To find the Light of Victory, you must surrender and seem to lose,
But what you will lose was never of value,
And what you will gain is all you ever sought,
This the Way of the sacred fire of the Path of Shin (ש) .”
Below the Angel, a new figure emerges. It is a towering dragon with scales of black and red. It stands before me, opens its mouth and begins to breathe fire within me. I feel the fires reconfiguring my Sphere of Sensation, flooding it with cleansing flame, purifying, recalibrating, and equilibrating with the Fire of Spirit.
“Without the Badge of Shin (ש) , you cannot enter the Temple of Hod (הוד),” speaks Israfel. “Receive it now.”
A lamen on a red ribbon with a white triangle containing the black Hebrew letter of Shin (ש) descends from the sky and drapes itself around my neck. It looks like this:
“You have received the Gifts that can only be gained by losing the Baggage you took to be the gifts until now. Go on, renewed and Initiated in the Mysteries of the Path of Shin. Climb upon the back of the One before you and he will fly you on to where you aim to go.”
The black and red Dragon turns around and I climb upon his back. I thank the Mighty Israfel and greet him with love and respect. “Save the love and respect for the One Who Sent Me,” he says.
The Dragon races up into the sky and begins to soar towards an Orange-hued temple in the distance. On its domed surface, I see a large astrological symbol of the Planet Mercury. As we fly towards it, I look down and see countless fiery beings moving on the ground far below us. Lizard-like fiery Elementals go about their work. Some move alone, others in groups. They shift in patterns of light along the red sand of the Path. Up we fly, higher and higher. For the Temple of Hod lies higher up, upon a higher cliff from the one from whence I came.
We land on the ground before its might Gates. I thank the Dragon who ferried me here and he nods his head and flies off back towards the cliff on the other side of the gorge from here. I hold up the Admission Badge of the Path of Shin (ש) . The doors are vast indeed and surrounded on either side by stately Greek Classical Columns. The Gates open up and I take a few steps into the organized, illuminated interior. The vision fades to orange.
I find myself back in my inner Temple. I perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and close the Temple. Thus ends my Pathworking on the Path of Shin (ש) .
After the Pathworking, I cast a Rune, and the result was all-too appropriate to the fiery energy of the Path of Shin. This Rune is Thurisaz, which represents both a Giant, like the Giants fought by Thor, and Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor, by which the Giants were defeated. The connections to my experience on the Path of Shin are very evident here. There were literally Giants on the Path as I traversed it, the Grigori or Egregoroi (ἐγρήγορο), the silent Watchers of the Path.
At the same time, the energy of this Path was very fiery and energetic, forceful, aggressive in many ways, and these qualities are captured in the meaning of Thurisaz as well. Its divinatory meanings include reactive force, directed force of destruction and defense, conflict, instinctual Will, vital eroticism, regenerative catalyst, a tendency toward change, catharsis, purging, cleansing fire, aggressive, and dominant male sexuality.
One of the lessons of the Thurisaz Rune, as Dr. Vickram Aaditya points out, is
‘to learn you must suffer’, meaning not only literal suffering, but also in the biblical sense of ‘allowing’ – allowing one’s destiny to unfold as it should, and allowing one’s self to experience all that life offers us. What may at first appear to be a negative, destructive event, may well turn out to contain an important lesson. The Giants may seem to be evil and destructive to the Aesir, but they bring about change, and eventually clear the way for a new age. “
All of these meanings were thematically represented in this Pathworking. It seemed that the fiery Serpents that ripped me apart were destroying me, at first glance. However, it soon became clear that they were in fact consecrating, purifying, and reconstituting me. The wise Mr. Aaron Leitch, Golden Dawn Adept, Abramelin Alumnus, and Master Grimoiric magician, pointed out to me that the primordial and universal shamanic initiation experience often involves the Neophyte shaman being dragged into fiery depths by daemonic forces that rip them apart, only to reconstitute them in a more resilient and purified form capable to survive repeated descents and ascents from the Underworld.
He only told me this after I had done both the Path of Tav Pathworking, which had a descent to the underworld theme, and this Path of Shin Pathworking, which had this fiery motif of being ripped apart by these daemonic fiery Salamanderian surpents. As a result, I wasn’t directly influenced by the idea in a way that would have affected these visionary experiences and it was very interesting to see how closely my own experiences had paralleled those archetypally universal shamanic ones that Aaron had indicated.
Update I: In the aftermath of the ritual, I felt very energetic and energized.
Update II: 10 hours later, I felt my Sphere of Sensation filled with fiery sensations. My Will felt more forceful and assertive. I felt an aggressive-erotic energy within me that felt very primal and powerful. My girlfriend, who is very empathic, picked up on this same energy and it began to manifest through her. The energy felt like a snarling dog and a passionate lover fused into one. We argued intensely and then made very aggressive and passionate love.
Update III: When I worke up this morning next to my beloved, I felt like the forceful fiery energy had kindled down into a more equilibrated state of balance. The assertiveness was once again balanced with lovingkindness and gentleness. Nonetheless, the sense that these Pathworkings can indeed be entire Initiations unto themselves that can shift our psychophysiological experience was really clear, as I reflected on what happened yesterday. The Golden Dawn system is ostensibly built on a series of 6 Outer Order Initiations (Neophyte through Portal), and 1-3 Inner Order Initiations (5=6 through 7=4 Grades in most Orders). However, many more Initiations are possible through Pathworking work and Traveling in the Spirit Vision.
The fact that Pathworkings are not mere ‘astral tourism,’ as some have cynically called them, but rather, Initiations into very specific energies, here represented by the Paths, is an important arcanum worth thinking deeply about.