Mishkan ha-Echad

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Air Dagger, Fire Wand, & Their Reversals

One of my personal magical "pet peeves" is the reversal of the old G.'.D.'. attributions of Air to the Dagger (cutting through the illusions of the mind, etc.) and Fire to the Wand (indicative of the fiery Will, etc.) to Fire for the Dagger and Air for the Wand. This latter approach has been taken up by many Wiccan groups and has been the cause of quite some muddying of attributions, and a lot of confusion therefrom.

In a discussion on this topic a while back, Morgan Drake Eckstein mentioned that Francis King and Stephen Skinner, in their Techniques of High Magic, proposed the notion that the traditional attributions, as per Regardie and other earlier sources, were "blinds", and that they should be reversed. He gave the following quote from Skinner's Complete Magician's Tables:

"The only notable exception to Golden Dawn practice is the reversal of the ascription of two magical weapons back to the traditional grimoire ascription of the Sword to Fire and the Wand to Air. In addition, several well known and acknowledged 'blinds' have been silently removed, as we no longer live in the prudish atmosphere of Victorian England."

The problem here is, I feel, self-explanatory. Skinner goes back to the "traditional grimoire ascription", which has the Sword as Fire. But the Sword is not the Dagger, at least not in the Golden Dawn tradition. The Sword is red, without a doubt, but that's a reference to Geburah and Mars, not Fire. It's a planetary and Sephirothic attribution, not an elemental one, and to mix them is to muddy the waters completely, and, I believe, to fail to understand some of the grimoire tradition on the Sword in the first place. But regardless of grimoire tradition, it is fairly obvious that the Swords of the Imperator and the Hiereus, for example, are not related to Fire, but to Geburah and Mars.

I am not sure where the original reversal came from, although Morgan suggested it may have been Gardner. Any thoughts and insights on this matter would be greatly appreciated, as it's one of the most common topics to crop up in esoteric circles, especially when Wiccans join a Golden Dawn group and find the attributions "at odds". Sufficed to say, I have found absolutely no evidence to support the notion that the Golden Dawn papers on the matter contained such blinds, and that a reversal of attributions is warranted. It takes quite a leap, in my opinion, to come to that conclusion.
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