Mishkan ha-Echad

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Prison of the Planets

It is five years to the day since I posted on my Gnostic blog Henosis Decanus about the relation of the planets to the Archons of Gnostic mythology. I was recently asked what my thoughts on this are after all these years, so let us explore this idea a little deeper.

In the esoteric world we are often seen as being tied to the forces of our birth charts. Our strengths and weaknesses, our high points and low points, our ideals and aims, what drives us and holds us back, are all mapped out before us like an oracle, like the foretelling of our doom. 

Indeed, it is often the case that many occultists will blame their chart for their problems, admitting a kind of fatalist thinking, where who and what we are is already decided, and cannot be deviated from.

This is, in my opinion, an unacceptable approach for a magician, and certainly for a Gnostic. An adept who blames exterior forces for his or her problems is an adept hoping to escape responsibility, and thus this shows a magical immaturity which is not congruent with adepthood.

Those who seek to escape responsibility enter a greater prison of the mind and soul, handing over the keys to their being to a force or power undeserving of them. We study astrology not merely to find out who we are and are likely to be, but so that we can redirect the forces and powers to create ourselves as we see fit, knowing that the road carved out before us is not the road we necessarily have to travel.

When we climb the Tree of Life we encounter the planets in turn. The Golden Dawn's grade structure is built upon this. The subtle suggestion is that as the Theoricus gains the secrets of Yesod, he or she gains mastery over the Moon, and is thus free from her reign. Of course, we talk of the real initiation, not merely the grade attained within an order, and this is far more likely to occur in the sub-grades of Adeptus Minor or above than in the Outer Order.

So if, from a Gnostic perspective, climbing the Tree of Life allows us to gain freedom from the Archons of the planets, what happens when, in the case of the Golden Dawn, the attainable human grades stop at 7=4? Here there is a mystery, for the only remaining of the old planets is Saturn in Binah, and Saturn is the Demiurge—Saturn is Death and the bondage of mortality.

So, in one sense, there is no escaping the Demiurge for any of us, for we must all answer the call of death, but in another, far greater sense, this is the ultimate freedom, the loosening of the shackles of mortality, knowing in our mind, heart and soul that we are undying. This is the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher's Stone, that which the alchemists of old have strived for and which the complete adept attains.

Chokmah is linked with the wheel of the Zodiac, showing that even after escaping the seven jails, there is an outer wall that must be climbed. Yet even then there is Kether and the Gilgulim, the reincarnation of the soul, which is, from one perspective, another prison, similar to the samsara of the Buddhists. One freedom is, as it were, another prison, yet ultimately it is in Kether that we experience unity, and so if in there we find the jailkeeper, in there we also find the key.
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