Mishkan ha-Echad

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram Analysis, Part 2

For the first part of my LRP analysis, see here.

Next we have the four four-letter names of God, used in the four quarters to charge the pentagrams. Firstly, this is an obvious reference to the four directions, the four winds, the four elements, and the four ancient figurative pillars of the world/universe (and their counterparts within the aura of the magician). It also hints at the four-fold nature of Malkuth, and thus represents the physical world. It has been pointed out before in many articles on this ritual that the Lesser Pentagram utilised in the traditional LRP is designed to invoke energy into or banish energy from the the four sub-quarters of Malkuth (represented by the four colours of this Sephirah: citrine = air, olive = water, russet = fire, black = earth), and thus the four four-letter names of God affirm this role.

However, it also hints at stability, since the geometic figure of four is the square, the most solid of them all. This solidity and stability is thus an intrinsic part of the nature of the LRP, invoking these qualities in order to provide a stable protective extension of the aura for the magician.

But there is a deeper aspect to explore, and this relates to Chesed, the fourth Sephirah, which is the counterpart of Geburah. When we draw the pentagram we invoke Geburah, and when we vibrate the Divine Name we invoke Chesed, and thus the pentagram is overlaid with a square, the five with the four, which balances it (a matter of great importance, as can be seen here and here). This balancing of Chesed and Geburah results in Tiphareth, the aim and crown of the Outer Order (and the LRP is designed to affect the aim of the Outer Order, being the traditional sole element of magical practice utilised in it). Tiphareth represents balance, which hints at another effect of the LRP, the balancing of the student, but it also hints at the primary aim of the magician: union with the Higher Self, which is traditionally assigned to the Sephirah of Tiphareth. This also mirrors and reinforces the pentagram, since that too can be seen as imprinting the desire and goal of the Higher Self, the Master of the Elements, upon the aura. Thus, Tiphareth is secretly present in the main part of the rite, just as it is secretly present in the QC (see here), and just as it is secretly (albeit, more obviously) present in the final statement of "For about me flames the pentagram, and within the column shines the six-rayed star". It is the Hidden Light that dwells in the Darkness, which is epitomized in the Neophyte ceremony (the grade in which the LRP is given).

But let us look at the Divine Names themselves. They are, in order: YHVH (the Tetragrammaton) in the East, ADNI (Adonai - "Lord") in the South, AHYH (Ehyeh - "I am" or "I will be") in the West, and AGLA (notariqon of Atah Gibor Le-Olam, Adonai - "Thou art great forever, Lord") in the North. But why are these specific names used in these directions?

YHVH is usually seen as the most divine, unpronounceable name of God, and it encompasses the elements (Yod = Fire, Heh = Water, Vav = Air, Heh sophith = Earth), and the Four Worlds, thus making it suitable for the four-fold division applicable to the LRP. But why is it in the East? Because the East is the traditional place of Light, of the Dawn, and of Divinity. The Adoration to the Lord of the Universe, for example, is done to the East, as are all other salutations in Golden Dawn work. The East is the station of the Heirophant, the initiator, who represents the greater initiator of God Himself.

ADNI is employed in the South because it is, as Samuel Scarborough points out in his essay on the pentagram rituals in Issue 4 of Hermetic Virtues, "the place where the sun is at its utmost strength". The fiery nature of this quarter affirms God's aspect as Lord, a title perhaps fitting of the fiery Sephirah of Geburah (something we will explore in a moment).

AHYH is utilised in the West, the place of growing darkness (where the sun sets and diminishes), which, in terms of the four-fold division of Malkuth, borders on the realm of the Qlippoth, the "empty vessels" or "shells", demonic and destructive in nature. Given this, it is fitting to employ Ehyeh, the Divine Name of Kether, the highest Sephirah, to challenge and keep at bay the darkness that comes from the West. But this is but one aspect, for if we pay attention to the mystery of "Kether in Malkuth and Malkuth in Kether", realising that the Malkuth of Assiah could be seen as the Kether of a Qlippothic Tree, then this quarter is, effectively, the Kether of the Qlippoth, and thus it employs the Divine Name of Kether (Ehyeh).

This name is usually translated "I am", but perhaps more accurately as "I will be". This points to another hidden aspect of its attribution to the West, for the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Thus, when it rises in the East (as YHVH), it instantly affirms its (and our) destination in the West by its Divine Name: "I will be". If that were not enough, however, let us remember the Lurianic teaching of the Shevirath ha-Kelim, the Breaking of the Vessels, which are the Qlippoth. These were the precursors of the Sephiroth, and thus this Divine Name again affirms, by this quarter's proximity to the Qlippothic realm, the future: the second attempt at Creation, resulting in the Sephiroth. The Light of God is not contained within the shattered vessels of the Qlippoth, but it "will be" contained in the future vessels of the Sephiroth.

Finally we have AGLA in the North, which is, akin to the above, the traditional place of "symbolic darkness" and evil. Thus, the force of Geburah is employed (via Gibor, which shares the same root), along with the title of Adonai, "Lord", which we saw in the South. Thus it can be seen that the potent fiery force of the South, where the Sun is at its zenith, is carried across to the North to face the darkness there. In this sense a line from South to North is drawn, just as one is drawn from East to West as mentioned above. This creates an equilateral cross, symbolic of balance, but it is also a Solar Cross, for the circle is drawn around it by the magician. This is but one further reference to the hidden Tiphareth in this rite.

These Divine Names contain much that the student would be wise to meditate on. To say that their mysteries have not yet been fully explored would not be doing a disservice to the many magicians who have delved deeply into them, extracting from them the prima materia of many a magical operation and a mystical insight. But there is always more to explore, new ways of looking at things. To illustrate this point, I will share one of my most recent "meditations" on this ritual:

When we take the four Divine Names and compile them in a 4X4 table we get the above. Some students may have, like me, wondered why three of the Names begin with an Aleph, while the other begins with a Yod. This, I believe, can be answered by the above image, for the three names that begin with an Aleph are divided up to form 12 letters, each one attributable to one of the 12 Tribes of Israel (echoing the breastplates of ancient Rabbis). YHVH is the supreme name of God, and thus cannot be attributed to the Tribes, but "rules above" them, and thus its difference to them is hinted at by it not beginning with an Aleph.

There is also a potential relation to the 16 Servient squares of each sub-angle of the Enochian system, along with another potential relation to the Tablet of Union (for all letters barring the EHNB ones), but I will explore these in a future post. Sufficed to say, there is plenty in this "simple" ritual that has been barely touched at all.
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