Crafting a Cyprianic Rosary

By Frater S. C. F. V.

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Today is a very special Day of the Sun, which also happens to be the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a day on which we pray for and commemorate all of the Martyrs who died for their faith throughout history, including Saint Cyprian, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus.

On this auspicious day, I finished a new hand-made devotional rosary to Saint Cyprian of Antioch for use in prayer and work with him as well as to be worn around my neck or wrist during Solomonic grimoire work.

This very unorthodox and untraditional rosary / circlet features:

  • Purple beads symbolizing Saint Cyprian, Bishophood, regalness, and the Sephirah of Yesod and the Moon, magic, and divination.
  • Three small transparent crystal balls to symbolize the Trinity, Triangle of Manifestation, Supernal Triad and Scrying Crystal.
  • Silver Cinquefoil roses suggesting the Divine Love of Mary, Venus, and the Fivefold Elemental Pentagram of which there are a total of 12 to allude to the 12 Apostles, 12 Tribes of Israel, and 12 Zodiac Signs as well as the gematric values of “loved” (חבב), “One” (חד), and “want / desire” (אוה).

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  • A red, white, and golden image of Cyprian that was custom-coloured and printed on a pure silver medallion.
  • Six-pointed silver spacers symbolizing the Solomonic Hexagram, of which there are a total of 16 or 1+6=7 to allude to the 7 Planets and due to 16 being the gematric values of אודה (ode/praise), and אזוב (ezob – hyssop),

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and

  • A gold Crucifix that hung around my Saint Cyprian statue’s neck on his Altar for weeks, including during his recent Novena, and was charged during recent Archangelic Invocation work.

The entire rosary will be exorcised, Solomonically consecrated, sprinkled, suffumigated, anointed with Holy Oil and blessed, then charged on Cyprian’s Altar with Offerings. Finally, it will be consecrated by Mass following the method described in my cryptoconsecratio article.

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From Theory to Practice: Some Intended Uses of the Cyprianic Rosary

My intended uses of this rosary are to me as diverse and integrative as my own magical history of initiation through different traditions and communities. Interestingly, the design of this rosary was not derived from the Christian tradition at all.  On the contrary, it is an homage to the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, from whom I learned both the practice of dhikr, or remembrance of the Divine, and how to make prayer beads in the Sufi style.  My Sufi brothers and sisters taught me how to make tasbih (Muslim-style prayer bead circlets) in three sections of 33 beads totaling 99 and representing the 99 Names of Allah and that is the design I maintained here.

I am planning to use this rosary / mala / tasbih circlet, for it is at once a bit of each of these in both intended use and design, in a number of ways. First, I will use it in the Muslim style, cycling through one Divine Name per bead in dhikr (remembrance) practice; I intend to use it in such ways with both the 99 Names of Allah and also with Jewish Divine Names from the Qabalah and grimoires. Whether with Jewish or Islamic names, I proceed through the three traditional dhikr stages from verbal recitations to heart and tongue recitation in harmony to the nondual absorption stage of La ilaha ill’Allah, in which there is no reality except God.

Second, I will use it for Christian style rosary practices with one bead per prayer as in the Catholic system and in the OSC Cyprianic chaplet system, even though it does not strictly resemble the standard Cyprianic chaplet.  In this use, it serves as an anchor for bhaktic devotion within the Christian mystical modality.

Third, I will use it in mantra work as taught by my Guru as a quasi-mala using the mantra I received in shaktipat diksha (energetic transmission / initiation) from my Teacher.

In this triad of devotional usages, the circlet will symbolically unite my Christian, Muslim, and bhakti yogic roots and serves as a practical nexus for all three.

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Fourth, I will wear it talismanically, both apotropaically / protectively and as as a way of bringing myself into greater sympathetic harmony with Saint Cyprian in my work with him as well as with the Archangels with whom I have used the Crucifix on this rosary in the past.

Fifth, I have some ideas for how this rosary could be used as a kind of tabletop divination circlet in the style of Dr. Al Cummins’ “Circling Ways in Geomancy.”

Sixth, I will use it in candle magic and Christian “rosary magic” in the style of authors like Agostino Taumaturgo, Jean-Louis de Biasi, and Bishop Tau Michael Bertiaux.

Seventh and finally for now, when not ritually or votively employing it, I will place it around the neck of Saint Cyprian on his Altar as a rough analogy to the votive gesture of placing Hindu beaded garlands around statues in Vedic puja ceremonies as practiced by my Guru.

Hail to you Holy Saint Cyprian of Antioch, Mage, Martyr, and Mystic! ☦ Theurge, Thaumaturge, and Theophoros! ☦ Sage, Sorcerer, and Saint! ☦ Together with Saint Justina and Saint Theocistus, pray for us now and at the hour of our death, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen! ☦

Pathworking on the 10th Path of Malkut

GoldenDawnlogoDate: March 29, 2018
Time:  7:33 – 8:04 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising, cloudy sky
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous in 30 degrees Virgo, Lunar Mansion of Awwa
Planetary Day: Day of Jupiter
Planetary Hour: Hour of Jupiter into Hour of Mars
Activities: LIRP, Pathworking of the 10th Path of Malkut, QC, ALU

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?”

“Yes.”

“Does your People often work with humans?”

“Not often.”

“Why not?”

“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?”

“Respectfully.”

“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.

Pathworking on the 29th Path of Qoph (ק)

GoldenDawnlogoDate: March 13, 2018
Time: 8:44 – 9:04 A.M.
Sun Phase: Rising
Moon Phase: Waning Crescent, Moon in 6° Aquarius, Lunar Mansion of Sa’d al Su’ud
Planetary Day: Day of Mars
Planetary Hour: Hour of the Sun
Activities: LIRP, Pathworking of the Path of Qoph (ק), LBRP

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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.

cerebellum2.jpgThe 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.

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“Dreaming VII” by Marie Antuanelle.

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) .moon.jpg

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.

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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.”

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“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.

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“Mermaid” by Daren Horley.

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.

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“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).

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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 ). 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.”

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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.

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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).

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“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.

***

20180222_180336Once 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.

Pathworking on the 31st Path of Shin (ש)

DGoldenDawnlogoate: 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 formulaCrux2.jpgted 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.osiris.png

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 PHieroWand.jpgath, 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. Theytitan.jpg 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. sala.jpg

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) .

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Instead of Gabriel, however the figure in the Clouds is Israfel, the Archangel who sounds the Trumpet of Judgment in the Islamic mythological story.

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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:shin

“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) .

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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.

Fundamental Principles of Magical Theory

By Frater S.C.F.V.

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Introduction – Theoretical Underpinnings of Magical Practice

GoldenDawnlogoIt is a common observation within the magical community that  magicians tend to be pragmatists; we favour what works. The history of magic has also tended to be a history of experimentation that has stretched through the Egyptians, onwards through the Greeks, the Medieval grimoire magicians, the Elizabethan and Renaissance occultists, and on through the Victorian into the present day. As Dr. Stephen Skinner and others have suggested, the methods that have stood the test of time have tended to do so because they were thoroughly tried and found reliable in the crucible of practice, while less effectual practices were pruned like dying branches from a thriving tree.

For many, the question of how magic works is a moot point. For these practitioners, all that matters is that it does work. I sympathize with the view that it ultimately does not matter whether the spirits evoked in magical ceremonies are merely forces within human consciousness and psychology, as Ms. Dion Fortune and others contend, or whether they are objectively-existing entities, as Dr. Stephen Skinner and others suggest. Whether the final analysis reveals the truth to have been one way or the other, I will still have found the Way of magic to be a path worth walking that brims with mystery, insight, adventure, and avenues for development. As Jake Stratton-Kent once put the matter,

“I’ve found working with spirits as autonomous entities is the most straightforward and effective method. I remain largely agnostic as to the hows and whys.”

Having made these prefatory comments, it seems to me that humbly attempting to tease out and make sense of some of the fundamental principles that undergird the mechanics of our magical work can be a worthwhile exercise. I maintain this view regardless of where we happen to fall on the perennial continuum of positions between the extremes of “magic is entirely psychological and subjective” and “magic is entirely spiritual and objective.”

The truth, if the Golden Mean of Aristotle, the Middle Way of the Buddha, the Doctrine of the Mean of Kung fu’tze (“Confucius”) and other great sages are to be trusted, is likely to fall somewhere in the middle. Perhaps magic, like all other natural phenomena, has tetradimensional aspects that can be described as being at once subjective, intersubjective, objective, and interobjective, as Ken Wilber’s integral theory might suggest.

In this essay, I will attempt to lay out 16 of what I consider to be the fundamental principles in which Western ceremonial magic has tended to ground its magical theory. For the time being, I will have to humbly set aside the fine points of historical derivation and parallels within African Traditional Religions, Santeria, Shamanism, and so on that Dr. Stephen Skinner, Mr. Aaron Leitch, and Mr. Jake Stratton-Kent have so eloquently covered in their fine scholarly analyses. For more on these aspects, I can’t recommend their works highly enough.

My own magical background is primarily in the Golden Dawn tradition, and less so in Enochian, Solomonic, and Sufi practices, so I will have to confine my discussion to what I have learned from studying and working within these traditions. In this analysis, I will be drawing on the key works within these traditions, on some of the principles outlined in Real Magic (1971) and Authentic Thaumaturgy (1998) by Isaac Bonewits, as well as on additional sources to develop as coherent an account of the fundamental principles of magical theory as is currently in my power.

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  1. The Principle of Understanding as Power

Definition:  “Understanding a thing gives power over it; the more intricate and multidimensional our understanding of a phenomenon, the easier it is to control it.”

This principle is a foundational principle of science; sciences have evolved through the progressively fine-tuned evolution of experimental, technological, and conceptual methods of studying and understanding natural phenomena, which have granted humanity progressively more control over phenomena that were previously taken to be chaotic and beyond our power. As Sir Francis Bacon pointed out in his Meditationes Sacrae (1597), “ipsa scientia potestas est” (‘knowledge itself is power’).

In Qabalistic magic, Understanding or Binah (בינה‬) is one of the Supernal Sephirot from which all of the more differentiated functions and forces of the Tree of Life emerge. Qabalistic magicians aim to understand the wisdom of the principles of the cosmos to facilitate our work as co-creators with the Divine in the Four Qabalistic Worlds. The principle of understanding as power is applied in Solomonic magic in the careful selection of specific astrological times to craft ritual implements, consecrate talismans, and perform evocations. Similarly, in Enochian magic, it is applied based on the suggestion that the understanding of the Watchtowers, Heptarchia Mystica, and Aethyrs enables the magician to work with the angels within each of these sub-systems.

Similarly, within the Golden Dawn system, as magicians proceed through the Grades, their understanding of the symbols and principles employed in the G.D. rituals deepens and becomes increasingly multilayered, which in turn, allows their magical operations to become increasingly finessed by the time they begin practical work in the Inner Order. In short, according to this foundational principle, applied magical understanding grants magical power.

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2. The Principle of Self-Understanding

Definition: “The Way of Adepthood involves understanding and working with all aspects of one’s being, from strengths to weaknesses, the high to the low, and the above to the below.”

In Rosicrucian alchemy, central to the prima materia that the initiate aims to transmute through the Great Work are the various aspects of his or her being. These aspects must be understood–following on the principle of undertstanding as power–and equilibrated so that we do not sabotage ourselves as we are all too apt to do.

In the Golden Dawn system, for instance, Initiates spend the Outer Order Grades systematically studying and working with the various elemental forces and aspects  of their being from their Earthy physical aspects, to their Watery intuition and emotions, their Airy intellect, their Fiery Will, passion and desire, and the all-balancing force of Spirit, which crowns the elemental pentagram in the Portal Grade.

The importance of self-knowledge is an ancient teaching that was well-known to the Ancient Greek Magicians; indeed, Xenophon reports that above the entrance to the Temple of Delphi, the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν or “know thyself” were inscribed. Plato’s writings inform us that Socrates, in his work with his own daemon, took these words very much to heart.

In a similar fashion, Qabalistic magicians aim to bring the various parts of their being into alignment, from the physical body (Gu’ph) to the sensing energetic soul (Nephesh) through the sense of individual personhood and the personal I (Ruach) and unto the higher Self, Awareness, and Will of the Yechidah, Chiah and Neshamah.

In Franz Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics, the Psychic Training in Step I requires the aspirant to construct the “white and and black mirrors of the soul,” which are lists of his or her strengths, weaknesses, virtues and faults, so that they may be frankly examined and worked upon along the Path. Authentic development presupposes self-knowledge because we cannot transform aspects of ourselves of which we are not aware.

Indeed, the importance of self-knowledge on the magical Path cannot be overemphasized. The consequences of failing to do this work can be severe. The history of occultism is replete with examples of otherwise brilliant and proficient magicians who fell prey to their own unabated or unexamined arrogance, egotism, delusions of grandeur, paranoia, and unbridled abuse of power over their students.

Countless working groups and Orders have been ripped asunder by the failure of their members to do this all-important work. It is indeed essential to the Great Work and vital to harmonious human existence more generally.

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3. The Principle of Equilibration

Definition: “Cultivate balance.”

The Neophyte Grade Ritual of the Golden Dawn enjoins the Initiate to  “study well that Great Arcanum, the proper equilibrium of mercy and severity, for either unbalanced is not good; unbalanced severity is cruelty and oppression; unbalanced mercy is but weakness and would permit evil to exist unchecked, thus making itself as it were the accomplice of that evil..” The ceremony later adds that “unbalanced force is evil, unbalanced mercy is but weakness, unbalanced severity is but oppression” and places the Throne of the Hegemon “between the Columns” in the “Place of Balanced Power, between the Ultimate Light and the Ultimate Darkness.”

The importance of balancing and equilibration is everywhere to be found in the methods and theories of magic. In the Golden Dawn, the magician equilibrates the elemental aspects of their being in the Outer Order Grades over the long term, but works at the short-term equilibration of energy within their Sphere of Sensation each time they perform the Qabalistic Cross.

The Solomonic magician stands in a balanced and elaborate circle of protection from within which he or she calls spirits into the Triangle. The Qabalist studies the balanced glyph of the Tree of Life with its Middle Pillar between the Pillars of Severity and Mercy. In the Great Table of Enochian magic, the Four Watchtowers of the East, West, North and South are balanced by the unifying and governing power of the Black Cross from which the G.D. derived the Tablet of Union. Franz Bardon’s Hermetic initiation path involves the balanced cultivation of the Mental, Physical, and Psychic aspects of one’s being and their four elemental dimensions in equilibrated unison. Similarly, the Tarot is balanced in its Four Suits, the Tetragrammaton in its Four Letters, the Zodiac in its 12 Signs, Triplicities, and Quadruplicities, and so on. The magical worldview is structured around balance within balance.

From another perspectice, in order to remain grounded, the magician must walk the tightope between faith and skepticism or risk toppling into delusion, imbalance, obsession, or self-destruction. Magical ceremonies, in the Western tradition, are frequently built around balanced frameworks, with openings, middle phases, and closings which mirror the openings. The Way of the Adept is the Way of Balanced Powers.

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4. The Principle of Images 

Definition: “By Symbols and Images, magical forces can be mobilized and directed in accordance with Will.”

One of the most impactful phrases in the Neophyte Grade Ritual of the Golden Dawn is that “by Names and Images, all Powers are wakened and reawakened.” The entire Golden Dawn system is founded on this single line. The Principle of Images speaks to the first part of this key fornula. In magical practice, images and symbols are used to activate, awaken, direct, and mobilize the forces they represent in order to bring about the results for which we aim.

Interestingly enough, magic by means of images seems to have emerged first as the prinordial form of magical practice par excellence and magic by means of words, to have appeared later on with the development of more abstract aleph-bets and alphabets from pictograms. Egyptian magic is an interesting case that straddles this divide with its potent picture-words, the hieroglyphs.

Images are systematically applied in the Golden Dawn system’s use of ritual Diagrams, in the Hieroglyphics on the Black and White Pillars, in the Implements and Lamens of the Officers, and most spectacularly, in the massive meta-symbol that is the Vault of the Adepti. The Solomonic grimoires also make thorough use of images in the Seals, Sigils, and the complex symbols that are to be inscribed on the Circles and ritual tools of the magician.

Agrippa’s Magic Squares provise ways of generating pictorial sigils from names. Qabalistic pathworking, Tattwa work, and Tarot magic all employ symbols as means of evoking changes in the microcosm of the magician’s conscious and subconscious mind, and gateways to access the forces of the macrocosm.

The connection between images and power is not so foreign to us even today. Indeed, it is well-known to all users of social media, who invest countless hours in manipulating the images by which they represent themselves to shape their social standing in the eyes of others — essentially a form of picture magic.

It is a principle that is well-known to marketers, corporate branders, artists, designers, and countless other fields. It is no coincidence that scientists use imaging methodologies, graphic representations, and mathematical symbols to represent the forces they aim to understand and direct in accordance with their Will.

Of course, this principle as applied in magic works on more planes than just the physical, mental, or emotional; it operates from Eliphas Levi’s “astral light” up into the higher planetary, zodiacal, Enochian aetheyric, and other realms, but it represents an instance of the same general idea in practice.

It is worth noting that according to anthropologist Henri Breuil, some of the earliest images found in the caves of Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France may have been drawn by prehistoric shamans in an attempt to ensure a successful hunt. The sympathic magical theory underlying these early cave rituals may have been that to possess the image of the animal was to possess power over the animal as well as the means of communing with the spirit of an animal to be hunted to reassure it that it would be treated with gratitude, respect, and killed as painlessly as possible.

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5. The Principle of Names and Words of Power

Definition: “Names grant power over the things named.”

The link between names and magical power is a fundamental magical idea and a truly ancient one indeed. The Torah suggests that God spoke the world into being by means of the Word and ancient Babylonian mythology describes the creative acts of Marduk through his capacity to “speak magic words.” Words and Names of Power were so central to the magic of the Egyptians that kings and priests often erased the names of certain people and gods from all past monuments to magically and symbolically erasing them from the universe and from history.

As another example, Sufis who practice the Islamic form of prayer-based magic called Ruqya often carefully select God Names from the 99 Names of Allah that are suited to the matter at hand (e.g. in a prayer to have knowledge revealed, Al-Lateef (the Knower of Subtleties) or Al-Haadi (The Provider of Guidance) might be used, Al-Hafiz (the Guarding One) might be used in a protection ritual, and Al-Kareem (the Bountiful One) might be used in a ritual requesting financial blessings).

As previously mentioned, name and word-based magic is as old as written and spoken alphabets themselves. The Golden Dawn system makes thorough use of Divine Names in its rituals from the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagam up through its most complex ceremonies. Qabalistic magic is fundamentally grounded in meanings and numerical values given to the Hebrew letters. Similarly, the magicians of the Solomonic grimoires inscribe Names of God on their implements and Circles and evoke and invoke by means of these names. Spirits in the grimoires are evoked both by means of these Divine Names for authority and through Conjurations using the names of Spirits alongside their sigils and Seals. It is no coincidence one of the Enochian systems of magic largely functions by systematically conjuring angelic beings by means of Names extracted from the Watchtowers.

In short, the essential idea here, as Mr. Boneswit points out, is that “certain words are able to alter the internal and external realities of those uttering them, and their power may rest in the very sounds as much as in their meaning.” The former especially holds true when one is working with the so-called “barbarous words” whose names are unknown to the magician, but are nonetheless able to exert effects through the sheer force of their utterance. Indeed, in bhakti yoga and Sufi dhikr, Mantras and Names of God are said to contain the presence of Divinity within their very sound and letters. It is a principle worth thinking deeply about since it lies at the core of all we do.

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6. The Principles of Correspondence and Sympathy

Definition: Drawing directly from Mr. Bonewits here, “if any two or more patterns have elements in common, the patterns interact “through” those common elements, and control of one pattern facilitates control over the other(s), depending among other factors upon the number, type and duration of common elements involved.”

Ceremonial magic is largely based on an elaborate system of correspondences. In Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1531), for instance, numerous stones, plants, perfumes, and other objects are attributed to various archetypal Planets and Zodiacal signs. Mr. Aleister Crowley’s Liber 777 (1909) and Dr. Stephen Skinner’s Complete Magician’s Tables (2006) present more elaborate systems of correspondences that associate countless elements, spirits, stones, herbs, godforms, angelic choirs, and so on with Qabalistic Sephirot, Planets, Zodiacal Signs, and many other archetypal forces. It is echoed in the careful selection of metals and herbs in the Solomonic grimoires, in the sympathetic magical work of the African Traditional Religions, and in the notion of the Vodoun Doll used in the Haiti Vodoun tradition.

In constructing a magical ceremony, once carefully selects items based on their correspondences. A working for a Venus talisman, for instance, may feature a rose, a green altar cloth, images of attractive nude men or women, the Empress Tarot card, and so on and be performed during the Planetary Hour of Venus on the Day of Venus (Friday). By concentrating sympathetic elements that are associated or share a symbolic affinity, and charging them with directed force in accordance with a Willed outcome, the magician attempts to create a kind of “harmonic resonance” that is in line with the object of their working.

This principle is based on the observation, noted by the Buddha in his doctrine of interdependent co-arising, by multiple Indigenous Wisdom traditions, and by the Qabalah among other systems, that all things are interdependent, interconnected, and inextricably interwoven with one another. When things have an infinity or association with one another, they tend to interact and influence one another. Nothing exists separately; everything exists in a great web of inter-being. In the Kybalion of the Three Initiates, this principle is echoed in the Principle of Correspondence, which it explains in these terms:

“This Principle embodies the truth that there is always a Correspondence between the laws and phenomena of the various planes of Being and Life. The old Hermetic axiom ran in these words: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” And the grasping of this Principle gives one the means of solving many a dark paradox, and hidden secret of Nature. There are planes beyond our knowing, but when we apply the Principle of Correspondence to them we are able to understand much that would otherwise be unknowable to us. This Principle is of universal application and manifestation, on the various planes of the material, mental, and spiritual universe–it is an Universal Law. The ancient Hermetists considered this Principle as one of the most important mental instruments by which man was able to pry aside the obstacles which hid from view the Unknown. Its use even tore aside the Veil of Isis to the extent that a glimpse of the face of the goddess might be caught. Just as a knowledge of the Principles of Geometry enables man to measure distant suns and their movements, while seated in his observatory, so a knowledge of the Principle of Correspondence enables Man to reason intelligently from the Known to the Unknown. Studying the monad, he understands the archangel.”

In the magical worldview, everything is interconnected; the seemingly many are really One. This One emerged from infinite nothingness and now appears as All. Is the universe, as perceived by the magician, ultimately nondualistic, dualistic, or grounded in nothing? All of the above, and neither. Or, differently stated, each of these models is partially true and can offer a useful framework within which to work magically.

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7. The Principles of Contagion and Metonymy 

Definition: “Changes to the part can affect the whole; the part can represent the whole.”

A metonym is a way of naming a whole by one of its parts, or naming one object or person by means of something closely associated with it. For instance, a King may be referred to as “the Crown.” The principle of metonymy is one of the most ancient magical principles of all. Many Indigenous and Traditional religions contain applications of it. It is related to the principle of contagion, or the notion that two objects that were once in contact will continue to remain in contact regardless of their spatial distance from one another, like two quantum entangled particles on different sides of the universe that display state changes that are completely in harmony.

Ancient and Indigenous magical traditions may apply this idea to work magic on an individual by using a lock of their hair, a fingernail, a drop of blood, a piece of clothing, or an object that once belonged to them. The Vodoun doll creates an effigy of a person, often incorporating one of their hairs, which the magician manipulates to magically impact the targeted person. In the ceremonial magic tradition, this principle is one of the principles that underpin the charging of talismans and is closely related to the principle of correspondence and sympathy.

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8. The Principles of Antipathy and Reversal

Definition: “Qualities, symbols, and energies can be used against their opposites.”

This principle is, in essence, the correlative opposite of the principle of sympathy. It suggests that anything contrary to the nature of a thing can be used to exorcise it, banish it, dispel it, or drive it out. This principle is central to the structure of banishing rituals such as the Golden Dawn’s Pentagram and Hexagram rituals. It’s also central to the functioning of Solomonic Conjurations, magic Circles, Exorcisms, and Banishings, particularly in work with the Goetia. In this tradition, for instance, Holy Water is used to constrain and control Goetic spirits. Similarly, protective amulets that are designed to ward off the influences of contrary forces represent applications of the principle of antipathy, such as the ‘evil eye’ amulets used in Greek magic or the protective amulets constructed for both the living and the dead in Ancient Egyptian magic.

Related to this is the principle of reversal, which can be stated as “what can be magically done can be magically undone.” There are limits to this notion, of course, due to the principle pointed out in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, namely, that Nature tends toward disorder. With that said, the principle can still be useful in magical operations. A Solomonic Exorcism is, in essence, a reversal of the notion of possession or a spirit inhabiting another living being or nonliving object, as in an Exorcism of Water or Fire. In the Golden Dawn’s Neophyte Grade Ritual, similarly, the Circumambulation of the Light, which is used to create a vortex of Light within the Temple, is followed by the Reverse-Circumambulation of the Light to reverse and undo the creation of this vortex.

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9. The Principle of Probability-Shifting

Definition: “Because of the link between cause and effect, magical operations can make events more or less likely to occur.”

As every scientist notes and as the Buddha stated long ago, certain conditions are such that when they are present, they are more likely to bring about other related conditions. Certain effects tend to follow the occurrence of particular causes of contributory causal factors. Philosophy further analyzes the notion of causes into ‘sufficient conditions,’ which are enough to bring about particular outcomes on their own, and ‘necessary conditions’ which individually contribute to a particular outcome, but are not sufficient to bring them about by themselves.

In other words, the more contributory causal factors are present with the power to bring about that situation, the more probable it becomes. This is the basis of the principle of probability shifting as applied in magic. A magical operation is designed to shift the probability that something will or will not happen, to either increase it or decrease it, to promote its occurrence, or dissuade it. The greater the energy and Will invested into the working, the chain of sympathetic and corresponding forces involved in the ceremony, and the use of appropriate Names and Images, to name but a few forces, the more the probability can be shifted, this principle holds.

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“Earth Balance – Yin and Yang Art” by Sharon Cummings

10. The Principle of Polarity

Definition: “Everything that exists has an opposite, a complementary pole, a quality with the power to balance it.”

This principle is related to the principle of balance or equilibration, and indeed, is the reason that the principle of equilibration is possible. As mathematics points out, all true equations are balanced. As Newton’s Third Law suggests, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Taoist magic is quick to remind us that Yin flows into Yang, and that one cannot work with one force without the other. In the Qabalistic Tree of Life, Sephirot attributed to opposite polarities balance one another, like Mercury balancing Venus, or the Greater Benefic of Jupiter and the greater Malefic of Saturn.

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The practical application of this principle suggests that a ritual to gain money for the magician must involve someone else losing that money. To know light, darkness must also be known. Death presupposes life. A ceremony to attain a job deprives someone else of that same job. Growing into a new state implies growing out of an old one. When one person gains power, someone else loses it. Therefore, we must be careful about what we do magic to achieve; actions can have unintended consequences, often far more than we anticipate.

The Kybalion of the Three Initiates speaks of this principle in this way:

 “Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its
pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are
identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet;
all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be
reconciled.”

In the magical worldview, everything is dual AND it is nondual. It is One in its twoness and two in its Oneness. The seemingly Other is the Self in disguise; the Self contains the Other.

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11. The Principle of Karmic Consequence

Definition: “As you reap, you shall sow.”

This principle is related to the principles of cause and effect and probability shifting. As we reap, we tend to sow. Wiccans combine this notion with a notion of exponential effects multiplying through interconnected networks of phenomena to develop their notion of the ‘threefold law,’ namely, that we receive in return three times what we sow in the long term. This may or not be true all of the time; some people invest tremendous amounts of money only to lose it, for instance, and sometimes a kindhearted action like helping another person can lead one to be killed, or an intentionally cruel action like attempting to harm someone by destroying their property can unintentionally benefit them by releasing them from having to worry about it. Very often, the selfish, petty and cruel prosper and the kind, compassionate, and wise are punished. The world is complex indeed as magicians and scientists alike both wholeheartedly agree.

What is certainly true is that it tends to be the case, as a general rule, that we tend to reap as we sow in one form or another. People who repeatedly do magic to harm others tend to be harmed by their own work in some way, even as basically and psychologically as feeding the aspects of themselves that are hostile, destructive, biased towards the negative, and so on. In this respect, like tends to attract like, as the principle of correspondence and sympathy points out. Harmful intent tends to attract harm in kind; generous and kind intent tends to attract like responses. It’s no surprise that coworkers quickly determine who is cooperative and aim to cooperate more with them and withdraw their cooperation from those who don’t cooperate with them. In Sanskrit, the word ‘karma’ literally means ‘action,’ for consequences are related to the notion of action, which brings them about as causes to their effects. And if we reap what we so,w then it seems prudent to sow carefully.

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12. The Principle of Personification

Definition: “Anything can be treated as a person.”

This principle is an ancient one. It has its roots in shamanistic animism, the roots of many of the Indigenous Traditions that birthed the first magical practitioners, in which everything is seen to have some form of spirit or life to it. It is an idea that survived into the Medieval Solomonic Grimoires, such as the Key of Solomon, where we find magicians speaking to fire, for instance, as “oh thou Creature of Fire.” The Golden Dawn’s Inner Order Magic applied the same Solomonic formula to their Talismanic magical methods, in which the Magician may speak to a talisman as if it were a person, saying “Oh thou Creature of Talismans.”

Ancient Greek magicians personified the abstract principles of the Element of Wind as “the Four Winds” or Anemoi--Boreas, Zephyrus, Notus, and Eurus–and worked with them in their different aspects in this way. Donald Micheal Kraig, in his Modern Magick, applies this principle to exorcise unwanted personality traits, habits, thoughts, or emotions from the magician with what he calls the I.O.B. Technique (Identify, Objectify, Banish) by personifying them and banishing them. St. Francis of Assisi used this principle to commune with Nature and spoke of “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon;” the Haudenoshaunee Indigenous Nation similarly refers to the moon as ‘Grandmother Moon.” In short, the principle of personification makes magical use of the human tendency to detect agency and mobilizes it to open up lines of communication for the purposes of initiation, empowerment, and the achievement of magical goals.

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“Spell Pierce Invocation” by Joseph Meehan

13. The Principle of Invocation

Definition: “Bring an entity or force into your consciousness to communicate with or experience it from within.”

Invocation is one of the most important and ancient principles and practices in the magician’s repertoire. It involves bringing an entity or force into your sphere of sensation to commune with it or communicate with it from within. The Solomonic grimoires are replete with invocations of God and the Archangels and the Grade Rituals and LRP of the Golden Dawn are no different in this respect. In the Rites of Eleusis in Ancient Greek, the goddess of agriculture, Demeter, and her daughter, Persephone, were invoked by the psychopomps during the celebration of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries.

Prayer is the most common form of invocation, but far more elaborate invocations are possible. A devotee surrendering themselves to the Deity of their devotion to the point of identifying with them through repeated invocation is a well-known practice within the tradition of Bhakti Yoga as discussed in the Bhagavad Gita. Invocations of the Holy Spirit are common in Rosicrucian magical traditions.

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One of the most sophisticated forms of invocation was practiced by the Ancient Egyptian priests. This technique, later referred to by the Golden Dawn as godform assumption, involves formulating and cloaking oneself in the astral form of an entity and performing actions and experiencing thoughts, feelings, and visions from their perspective. As practiced by the Ancient Egyptians, this method was employed invoke and garb oneself in the form of the Egyptian neteru, the name they gave to the god/goddess forces with which they worked, which carries various meanings, such as “supreme,” “great,” “deity,” “renewal,” and “divine.” In the Golden Dawn system, Officers assume and hold various godforms astrally for the duration of the ceremony as they manipulate the flows of energies in the Temple and make changes to the Initiate’s Sphere of Sensation as lucidly explained in Pat Zalewksi’s Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries (2010).

Jake Stratton-Kent describes an alternative to godform assumption he calls the astral assumption of theriomorphs or ‘animal forms.’ As he explains this practice:

Warping myself or my ‘astral body’ into the appropriate animal or beast-headed deity to – say – consecrate a talisman, connects with deeply primal magical currents.

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14. The Principle of Evocation

Definition: “Summon an entity or force to external appearance.

While invocation involves taking an entity or archetypal force into one’s Sphere of Sensation, evocation involves the corollary experience of causing the spirit to appear as experienced outside of the magician.  This is the primary method that is applied, for instance, in the Goetia of the Lemegeton, to cause spirits to appear to visual appearance in the Triangle of Art outside of the Magician’s Circle.

The grimoiric tradition abounds with methods of invocation. In the Solomonic tradition, spirits may be helped to appear to visible manifestation by manipulating the movements of candlefire, shifting the appearance of incense smoke, or appearing in a black mirror.

The Golden Dawn magicians developed their own methods of evocation based on the Z-formulae embedded in the Grade Rituals. In the Enochian system of John Dee, angelic forces may be evoked into a crystal ball and produce visions there-through. In short, invocation is bringing a being in, while invocation is bringing a being into being experienced as external to your human form.

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15. The Principle of Scrying

Definition: “Gazing into a medium can enable one to see visions or receive messages one could otherwise not access.”

The principle of scrying embodies one of the key magical techniques that are used in practical magic. According to some anthropologists, the practice of scrying dates as far back as 3000 B.C.E. in China where cracked eggs were used as a form of scrying and divination. Scrying may be performed to obtain personal guidance, revelations, inspiration, as a tool for divination, or to communicate with a force or entity, as in the principle of evocation.

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The most commonly-used media for scrying are reflective, refractive, clear, or luminescent surfaces such as a bowl of water, a crystal ball, a black or ordinary mirror, a stone like the topaz used by Aleister Crowley to scry the Enochian Aethyrs in the Vision and the Voice (1911).

The Ancient Egyptians reportedly scryed into a vessel filled with oil. Nostradamus scryed into a bowl of clear water to receive his prophecies. The Oracle of Delphi allegedly scryed into a special spring to obtain answers to the questions posed by Kings and peasants alike. The Aztec Yucatan shamans are said to have scryed into reflective crystals and gemstones. In all of these cases the principle is the same: by means of a carefully-selected medium, the magician can augment his or her powers of astral perception to receive messages or visions.

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16. The Principle of Murphy

Definition: “If it can go wrong, it probably will.”

Last, but not least, in this brief attempt to survey the principles that underlie magical practice, I must not neglect to point out the principle of Murphy, otherwise more commonly known as Murphy’s Law. Despite all of our best efforts and most-carefully designed rituals, things can and often do go wrong. Lon Milo DuQuette reports in My Life With the Spirits (1999), for example, that he accidentally had cinnamon-infused Abramalin oil run into his eyes during an evocation and had to leave the Circle and run screaming into the bathroom!

I once neglected to properly take astrological influences into account when consecrating a Saturn talisman and ended up making one that gave an Adept friend of mine splitting headaches every time he looked at it. On another occasion, I failed to print out one of the key pages of my two-hour consecration ceremony and had to ad lib it on the fly. Other friends have run out of incense during evocations, leaving the spirit with nothing to manifest with and had the spirit tell them “you need more incense than this…”, or knocked over candle sand set the Temple on fire. Long story short: if it can go wrong, it probably will, and in the most annoying way possible, so be careful!

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Conclusion

In this essay, I have attempted to provide a selection of fundamental magical principles that magicians have used throughout the history of magic to gain a sense of what they were doing in ritual, and which are still current to the understandings of contemporary practitioners myself. The way of magic is a way of experimentation, discovery, investigation, and experience. Like the sciences, in magic, theory and practice continue to emerge and be evolved as both persevering solitary individuals and the collective community of practitioners push its frontiers ever forward.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
~ Arthur C. Clarke, in Profiles of the Future (Revised edition, 1973)

In LVX,
Frater S.C.F.V.

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Did I leave anything out or present any unintentional inaccuracies? Have you found any other principles to be worth including? Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments. I am an eternal beginner on this Way and benefit a great deal from what I learn from all of you who are wiser than I, thank you!