Mishkan ha-Echad

Thursday 31 July 2008

The Red Slippers

"Wearing red socks or shoes helps remind us to ground our bodies. Because red is a grounding color, seeing red on your feet throughout the day will serve as a reminder to bring your attention back to the physical body. This is especially helpful if you tend to ignore your lower extremities. By consciously focusing on the color red at your feet you will be energetically distributing your energies downwards, anchoring your energies to the earth, thus creating a better balance within yourself. Isn't it interesting that the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz story was wearing ruby red slippers? She got grounded when a house fell upon her while she was flying through the air. It was also the magical tapping of the red slippers together that brought Dorothy back home to Kansas."

The above passage, from About.com is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly it highlights the link with the energies of the earth, which is a focus of the Outer Order, being centred in Malkuth. Indeed, the word for "red" in Hebrew is actually adom, which has the same spelling as adam, meaning "man", or, rather "of the earth". The "red" colour is related to the "ruddy" colour of earth, and thus the red slippers used in the Outer Order are a definitive link to earth energies, or, more aptly, those of Malkuth.

I'd like to highlight the part that says "if you tend to ignore your lower extremities", for this is, in a sense, part of the purpose of the Elemental Grades: to force you to explore these "lower extremities", that of the Lower, Elemental Self, and to ensue that you build the proper foundation upon which the life of the Higher Self will live.

The Wizard of Oz information is intriguing, and merely shows how such perennial symbols have permeated even our more modern expressions in book and film. The Wicked Witch relates to the West, which is the lowest portion of Malkuth, bordering the Qlippoth (and thus explaining her wickedness), but the West is also Malkuth as a whole, just as Tiphareth is the East, and thus she is tied intrinsically to Malkuth, even by the donning of the red slippers. The "magical tapping" of the slippers could potentially be likened to the Knocks used in ceremony, and further suggest the magickal depth that can be found in this film. It's hard not to think that there must have been some occult research that went into it. Regardlss, however, it offers us a modern mythology (just as the Matrix trilogy does for Gnosticism) that can potentially help us understand some of the more difficult aspects of our own tradition.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

The Three Degrees

Sincerus Renatus made a comment on an earlier post here that the Portal grade correlated with Yesod, as opposed to my previous assertion of Adeptus Minor to this Sephirah. This opened the door for Adeptus Minor to go to Tiphareth, as per its traditional grade structure. However, this got me thinking about the Three Degrees in the Golden Dawn system, and how they each relate to a single Sephirah on the Tree of Life, and, indeed, a number of other elements of the Golden Dawn system.

The First Degree is the entire Outer Order, from Neophyte to Philosophus. It is attributed to Malkuth. The Second Degree is Portal, and is attributed to Yesod. The Third Degree is Adeptus Minor (including all its sub-grades), and is attributed to Tiphareth - although all the Inner Order would also qualify for this Degree (albeit the original Order didn't really go above Adeptus Minor, barring temple grades).

These also correlate with the three principle Officers in the Outer Halls: the Hierophant, Hegemon, and Hiereus, which are Third, Second, and First Degree, as well as Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth respectively. These are the "Middle Pillar Officers", and, indeed, it becomes apparent that the entire Degree structure is a "Middle Pillar" one, further emphasising the role of balance utilised in the Order (thus there is balance even in grades like Practicus and Philosophus).

But what other associations does this entail? Let's look at Godforms. Because the Hiereus is linked with Horus, could we view Horus as the primary god of the Outer Order? Ma'at is linked with the Hegemon, so is it possible that she would represent the energies of Portal? Osiris is the god-form of the Hierophant, and is the most obvious parallel to the Inner Order, which is Rosicrucian, and thus also Osirian in format.

But that's not everything, as anyone who has delved into Golden Dawn correspondences will tell you. Pat Zalewski gave a list of planetary energies associated with each of the Officers (differing somewhat to one or two of their assignments to the Tree, such as the Hiereus, which is Mars, not Earth, as might be indicated by Malkuth). You can find that list here.

This means that Mars may be considered the planetary energy of the Outer Order. I find this fitting, particularly with the Tarot card "The Tower", since it's about the destruction of the ego. In a sense the Outer Order is about removing the gross elements so that the spiritual ones of the Inner Order may take their place. It's an alchemical process.

The Moon for Hegemon and Portal seems suitable, since this is where the first contact with the "inner" side of things is supposed to take place. The elements are balanced and Spirit is invoked to crown the pentagram that this creates. The Moon is well known as a planet of the subconscious and astral spheres, which also play up to some degree in Portal.

The Sun for the Inner Order and Hierophant is, again, the most obvious correlation, given the whole Osirian emphasis. Adeptus Minor, in particular, is strongly linked with Solar energies.

This post is, in a sense, a "work in progress". I'm looking for input from my readers about their thoughts on this. Can you find new correlations or reasoning to explain the current ones I and others have found? How can we use this understanding of grade, degree, and officer stucture to better our work with the Golden Dawn system? Should Officers, for example, invoke planetary energies prior to their work?

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Definitions Of Magic: Art Of Transformation & Science Of Empowerment

"Magic is the art of transformation, of altering consciousness and experiencing the life changes that result. It is a science of empowerment, of using word, image, and gesture to reach into the darkness and set free the imprisoned faculties of the soul."
- Lyam Thomas Christopher,
Kabbalah, Magic, & the Great Work of Self-transformation

Monday 28 July 2008

Golden Dawn Enochian, Part 1

I will be exploring certain small elements of the Enochian system within the context of the Golden Dawn in this collection of posts (updated sporadically, and on whim), particularly since the Golden Dawn version of Enochian is criticised so much by many modern magicians, particularly the "Dee purist" camp. So, I'm hoping to elucidate exactly why some of those "mistakes" (i.e. changes) have been made, and just how they fit into the Golden Dawn system as a whole.

First there are the Elemental Kings, as the Golden Dawn called them, or the Solar Kings as we in the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'. called them (to avoid confusion with the Great or Supreme Elemental Kings, which continuously occurred, as well as to more oviously point out their solar nature). The name of the Elemental/Solar King is obtained from a central "whorl" of each Tablet, reading clockwise, as follows:

As you can see, this encompasses eight squares. Thus, for the Air/ORO Tablet, we have BATAIVAH. However, these aren't the instructions Dee was given. He was never told to use all eight letters, but to choose from one of the two central letters, A or H, each representing Mercy and Severity respectively:

"Put the A or the h that stand in the Center, to it: Thou hast Bataiva or Bataivh. You must take but one of them, either the A or the h. A, comiter, and h in extremis Judiciis."

A True & Faithful Relation, P. 178

Comiter is Latin for "kind", "courteus", "merciful", and so forth, while in extemis Judiciis is Latin for "in extreme judgement" (i.e. Severity). Now, apart from the obvious correlation to the Qabalah (Judgement [Din] is another name for Geburah, for example), which supports my emphatic suggestion that all students wishing to learn and use Enochian should acquire a knowledge of the Qabalah first, I have to ask: why did the Golden Dawn seemingly ignore these instructions on using only one letter? We could potentially ask if they were aware of it, but it seems hard to think that they were not, seeing as they got many other elements of name derivation correct. So why did they use both letters?

My answer to this question is that, like all other areas of Golden Dawn work, balance is key. They would never have employed just Mercy or just Severity, and so they deliberately combined both, forming a single eight-letter name, where the Elemental/Solar King would have access to both his merciful and severe aspects, allowing a multi-purpose entity, suitable for a wider range of workings, and more in line with the basic tenets of the Golden Dawn system.

Sunday 27 July 2008

A Comparison To The Goal Of Adeptus Minor

As part of my work for my old Order, the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'., I wrote material for the initiation ceremonies, including that of Acolyte I (the last grade I attained there), which is roughly equivalent of Adeptus Minor in the G.'.D.'. (albeit without a Portal grade, which changes things quite a bit).

Anyhow, the following is a passage from this Acolyte I ceremony, drawn from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, a very interesting Gnostic text. The focus of this point of the ceremony was for the initiate, as a Gnostic, to break free from the influence of the Archons, here seen as "7 Powers of Wrath", one per old planet (as well as being lord of a certain binding force, such as darkness, ignorance, and desire). Each Archon in turn challenges the initiate, blocking his or her way to accessing the relevant planetary energies, and the initiate receives their challenge and conquers them, showing the conquering of the planetary influences within the initiate themselves. This also results in a symbolic freedom, for no longer is the initiate bound by the Archons, as per Gnostic myth, but is, as a newly arisen (or awoken) Adept (or Acolyte, a co-Worker of God), free from the prison of their old life, and, indeed, the Seer (the Head Officer of the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'.) not only declares the initiate free from the dominion of the Archons, but of the direct influence of the Seer him or herself. This is a symbolic time of spiritual maturity, where no longer should the initiate need the guiding hand of a superior officer, but should be able to make their own decisions (which, sadly, does not always work, as some people can claim a grade without actually being ready to receive it). The initiate must ultimately be guided by his or her own Gnosis.

I offer this passage for matters of intrigue. I'm interested in seeing what people think of this part of the ceremony in comparison to that of the Golden Dawn. How is the goal similar or dissimilar? What about the method? What can we learn from this, even though the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'. is now dissolved?

Power of [Planet]: “Where are you coming from, slayer of humans, and where are you going, conqueror of space?”

Initiate: “What binds me is slain, what surrounds me is destroyed, my desire is gone, ignorance is dead. In a world I was freed through another world, and in an image I was freed through a heavenly image. This is the fetter of forgetfulness that exists in the world of time. From now on I shall rest, through time, age, and aeon, in silence.”

Saturday 26 July 2008

Gnostic Parallels In The Qabalah

As a student of both Gnosticism and Qabalah, I began to find many similarities between the two, and wondered just how deep the parallels went. Indeed, it made me question if the Qabalah was influenced by Gnosticism, which even the Qabalistic scholar Gershom Scholem wondered in his many excellent books on the subject. It seems likely that this is so, at least in the Lurianic school of Qabalah, but for now I will content myself with merely pointing out the parallels and letting my readers come to their own conclusions.

  1. God is conceived of as beyond the Three Negative Veils of Existence, (Limitless Light, Limitless, and Nothing), as the Unmanifest, in the Qabalah. Likewise it was common Gnostic principle (as well as being a general approach in mysticism as a whole [see the Cloud of Unknowing, for example]) to define God in negative terminology.
  2. While the above is true, God was also seen as part and parcel of the entire manifest universe, while also being beyond the Three Negative Veils. This is called panentheism, believing the universe to be part of God, but not all of God, which is in stark contrast to pantheism. Of course, there were many Gnostics who claimed definitively that the world was not in the least bit divine, but there were also many others who believed otherwise - the Valentinians in particular. They shared a predominantly panentheistic view. This can also be found in the Qabalah, where God is present in all the Sephiroth, and yet there is also part of him that is Unmanifest, beyond the Veils.
  3. The process of emanation in the creation process ("emanationist cosmogony") is part and parcel of, at the very least, Sethian and Valentinian belief. It is a typical point that, in a sense, defines Gnosticism (though, of course, not all Gnostics adhered to this, but this is pushing the term to its most open and inclusive). At the very least, the Sethians are the only group to actually call themselves Gnostics, and since they believed this, it is the most definitive source, in terms of scholarship, for defining the belief. The Qabalah shares this cosmogony, with emanating Sephiroth instead of Aeons. Indeed, the Aeons often numbered 10, the number of the Sephiroth.
  4. God of the Manifest Universe, either seen in Chokmah or Kether, is not the "real God" - you see a beared man in Chokmah (traditional "man in the clouds" god), or a bearded man in profile in Kether, showing you can only see one side of God. This is very similar to the conception of God throughout Gnostic myth, with the God of Chokmah or Kether (depending on your source and personal inclination), who is the "Creator God", being equated as the Demiurge.
  5. Gnosticism espouses a belief in a Divine Spark in Man. Qabalah also espouses this belief (via the Yechidah, etc.). See here and here for Qabalistic passages by the Baal Shem Tov on the Divine Sparks.
  6. Gnosticism teaches us that this world is a fallen one (sometimes likened to a prison, which the Qabalists would not necessarily have agreed with), with the Divine Sparks trapped inside. It must be raised up and restored to its original condition. This is a pivotal belief in the Qabalah, which focus on the Tiqqun ha-Olam, the Restoration of the World. This usually takes the form of Malkuth being fallen and requiring reunion with Tiphareth (see here for my Qabalistic Cross material on Tiqqun as an illustration of this).
  7. There is a feminine form of Divinity in Gnosticism, which is termed Sophia. The Qabalistic equivalent, often used by many modern Gnostics, is the Shekinah. Sophia was once one of the primary emanations, but has now become trapped in the physical. This is mirrored in the Qabalah, where Sophia (or Barbelo in her higher Sethian aspect) lies in Binah, but her fallen counterpart lies in Malkuth. Interestingly enough, Sophia is Greek for "Wisdom," while Chokmah is Hebrew for "Wisdom". Some Qabalists would attribute the Demiurge to Chokmah (while others will choose Kether or even Chesed), and the Demiurge is typically linked to Saturn, which is attributed to Binah. Thus we have a kind of reversal of attributions of Sophia and Demiurge between these two Sephiroth in the Qabalah.
  8. The most important principle about Gnosticism is Gnosis, experiential knowledge of the Divine. While the Qabalah does not have a direct equivalent, Gnosis is usually translated as "Knowledge", with a potential equivalent being the Hebrew Da'ath, also translated at "Knowledge". To access the Supernal Realm the Qabalist must peruse Da'ath, or, to put it another way, Gnosis allows us to experience the heights of Divinity. This is a fundamental hidden principle to Qabalah.

These are but a few of the parallels I've found between these two systems, which, as both a Gnostic and a Qabalist, have allowed me to use them together without contradiction (and have allowed me to explain Qabalistic ideas in Gnostic terms, or Gnostic ideas in Qabalistic terms). There are many more parallels, including the Sepher Yetzirah and Sepher ha-Bahir. I will be exploring these in a more indepth article on this matter in the future.

Friday 25 July 2008

Book Review: A Guide To The Zohar

"The Zohar is one of the primary sources of Qabalistic material we have, and also the largest, spanning a number of volumes in its various translations. Its teachings penetrate the very fabric of Qabalah, both Jewish and Hermetic, even when not overtly referenced. However, it is also one of the most difficult texts to read and interpret, and thus an introductory book is often needed. A Guide to the Zohar by Arthur Green qualifies as one of the best books to fill this need."

To read the rest of this review, click below:

Thursday 24 July 2008

Golden Dawn Bashing

It has become increasingly more popular over the last decade or so to bash the Golden Dawn, its members, and its teachings, with Dee purists, Thelemites, grimoire buffs, and the historical and magickal "elite" all joining in to take a stab. In fact, it has become so popular that some people feel they must jump on the band wagon (without understanding any of the genuine criticisms of the Golden Dawn) or be considered magickally deficient, or a slave to the dogma and "propaganda" (one person I discussed this recently with considered published Golden Dawn rituals and papers to be propaganda) of this esoteric organisation.

Firstly we have the Dee purists. Now, I have studied the original Enochian material, and have utilised much of it in my previous Order, but I think there are pros as well as cons to the Golden Dawn approach. Fair enough that many people will want to use solely the original material. After all, several things have been altered or omitted, such as the different Golden Dawn method for prefixing names with letters from the Tablet of Union or Black Cross. However, the sheer volume of times that I see many Dee purists chime in on a discussion where someone asks an Enochian question and is given a Golden Dawn-ised answer, to scoff and raise (yet again) the fact that this is the Golden Dawn approach and not necessarily the original material, and to point out how inferior the former is to the latter, and to highlight how superior they themselves are for knowing this, is unbelievable. It seems to be common practice to want to take a jab at the Golden Dawn, and, to be honest, many people already know that they got stuff wrong, and that their Enochian isn't the same as the original material, so, to me, it just looks like these "critics" are kicking the Order while it's down, jumping on the band wagon of opportunity, whose only destination is smugness and narcissism.

Secondly we have the Thelemites. One element of Thelemic theology revolves around the notion of the New Aeon, that of Horus, which renders obsolete the Aeon of Osiris, the dying and ressurecting god, who is the motif of both the Golden Dawn system and the Christian religion. Personally I believe in the New Aeon, but I don't believe it does or should invalidate anything that we have previously used. To be fair to many Thelemites, they do not utilise this argument as a basis to bash the Golden Dawn. However, there are many opportunists who will, whether they are Thelemites or not (some just like to steal the idea of the New Aeon to support their bile), decide quite emphatically that not only is the Golden Dawn obsolete, but that it is corrupt, a magickal scourge in the wider community of occultism, and thus every single element of Golden Dawn material and teaching must be eliminated.

This kind of reasoning (if it can be called such at all) is inherently flawed for Thelemites, given much of their system is dependant on Golden Dawn teachings (it's hard to shake off all of those influences, no matter how hard Thelemites try), but for some people who utilise this attack it becomes more of a slur like those levelled at Christianity (often by the same people). It's the kind of mentality that gives rise to beliefs like "there would be no war if there was no religion", an imbicilic idealist notion that merely shows how little thought was given to their vitriol. Indeed, some people criticise the Golden Dawn specifically because of its Christian elements, particularly the Inner Order, and this is just an extension of the widespread (and significantly more popular) Christian bashing that occurs in our cynical world. For my defence of Christianity and religion in general, see this older post on my other blog.

There are also those who will point out that the Golden Dawn utilised material that already existed, such as Agrippa and Levi, as if this fact is somehow a bad thing, or means that they contributed nothing of their own. One of the unique things the Golden Dawn did was the collecting and synthesising of these various sources into a single, workable, dynamic tradition, a tradition that drew on as much Western material as they could get their hands on, thereby becoming a definitive expression of Western occultism that would last for decades (as we can clearly see from its widespread use even today).

Others will point out that the Golden Dawn destroyed the true spirit of the sources they drew upon (Enochian comes to mind here), and that we should try to go "back in time" to those older traditions, traditions, these people argue, that were stronger and more magickally potent than the Golden Dawn's methods are. There is a certain amount of truth to this, as we can see from the Qabalah and Enochian, to name but two examples, but the problem with this type of argument is that it attempts to look for the "pure" tradition, free from outside influences, when, in fact, there often isn't any "pure" tradition. The Qabalah, for example, has some Gnostic inlfuences (particularly the Lurianic school), the 32 Paths of Wisdom was a later addition to the Sepher Yetzirah, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy is now seen as not having been written by Agrippa, and those who used the grimoires in the Renaissance added new material and changed methods, etc. to those that wrote and used those grimoires in the Middle Ages. Tradition isn't something that remains static. It's a dynamic, living, growing thing (see here for more of my thoughts on this). This is like when people argue about the English invading Ireland, corrupting and polluting the Celtic gene, as if the Celts had not invaded many centuries before. What we consider to be pure now is a corruption of the purity that came before, which, likewise, is a degradation of the purity before that, and so forth, forever and ever, unto the ends of the earth.

Some people will point out the forgeries of the Sprengel letters, the politics, strife, and splits of the Order, and the fact that the original Order didn't last very long, and these people will use this as "proof" that the Order is immoral, unsuitable, "old school", or fundamentally flawed, and thus should not be utilised. This is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Order politics is in the realm of Order instituion and the dynamics of clashing personalities, and has little reflection on the teachings of the Order itself, which are designed to elevate beyond both the institution and the individual personalities of those involved. The funny thing about these arguments is that often these people criticise the fact that some members of Orders have arguments, and at the same time these people are arguing about the validity of the Golden Dawn system with others. I won't go into much detail about the forgery issue, nor indeed Order politics (I will deal with these in future posts), but sufficed to say, these things occur in every human organisation, and they do not automatically render the system invalid or corrupt, but merely betrays the reality that flawed, imperfect humans are in charge.

Now, obviously I'm a Golden Dawn man (to use Regardie's phrase), so I am somewhat biased. However, I don't believe that makes me a slave to dogma, nor do I believe using Christian mythology means I'm suddenly a fundamentalist, wishing fire and brimstone on everyone, or, God forbid, starting religious wars. This is a naive kind of sentiment, and just as imbalanced as those who genuinely are slaves to dogma and fundamentalism. I honestly don't see why people need to get their rocks off by taking petty stabs at the Golden Dawn - what does it achieve? Yes, by all means give the much needed critique (which has been given before, however), for there are imperfections throughout the system, but to throw it all out on what seems like a whim is, in my opinion, a spiritually criminal act.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

What Is The Purpose Of The Golden Dawn?

A common question in the occult community is: what is the purpose of the Golden Dawn? Anthony Fleming, in his Introduction to the Golden Dawn American Source Book defined this purpose as:

"Stated somewhat simplistically, the purpose of the Golden Dawn was to provide to specially selected candidates a sytem of occult training which would enable them to acquire magical powers and eventually lead to their spiritual illumination."

The ultimate aim of the Golden Dawn system is two-fold and in two steps or stages: Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (or the Higher Self [though I technically believe the two to be different]), and, ultimately (with the previous step being the preliminary stages) Union with the Divine (although that is a more abstract philosophical pursuit, and doesn't really come into play until Adept level).

However, there are smaller, more achievable aims throughout the system. For example, one aim of the Outer Order is to give the student a thorough theoretical knowledge of magick and the occult, including ritual, divination, invocation, and so forth. This magickal training is also used as a practical means to stimulate communication and communion with the spiritual realm. The student learns techniques to heighten astral sensitivity (so that he or she can perceive things "other" to the norm), develop the intuition, clairvoyance, and other psychic faculties (primarily through divination, such as Geomancy, Astrology, and Tarot), and generally become more in tune with the spiritual and astral world. The student also learns techniques to banish the lower personality and invoke the higher, to remove astral junk, etc., and generally perfect the being through elemental and alchemical cleansing (a primary purpose of the Elemental Grades). In a sense, the purpose is to let the old self die and become spiritually reborn, with a higher understanding and a greater purpose as Inheritors of a Dying World.

The Golden Dawn is ultimately theurgical, and all the work used in the Order is designed to aid in the evolution of the soul (as well as helping others, in the Rosicrucian sense [healing the sick, etc.]). It is generally frowned upon to evoke and work with demons, pursue black magick (including curses and psychic attack), engage in sex magick, utilise spells for money or lust, and other matters revolving around the physical. One of the Order's main "slogans", from the Neophyte ceremony, is:

"Quit the Night and seek the Day!"

The meaning of this is made a little more explicit in the Theoricus ceremony:

"Quit the Material and seek the Spiritual!"

In summary, the purpose of the Golden Dawn is to "become more than Human"; in doing so the student brings this Dying World one step closer to Tiqqun, to Restoration, and the elevation of humanity as a whole to a new and greater height, where no longer are we subject to the wiles of the ego and the Dog-Faced Demons that lurk beneath even the kindest of human hearts.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

A Vision Of Gimel

Unfortunately I don't have any poems relating to Gimel to share here, but I do have this quick sketch from my journal late at night a week or so ago. Apologies for the quality, as it's a camera phone (however, I always try to minimise image file sizes here to avoid excessive loading times). This image gives a visual form of some of the mysteries of Gimel explored in my previous post. Thoughts and comments welcome.

Monday 21 July 2008

The Mysteries Of Gimel

Gimel (pronounced Gee-mel or Gim-el) is the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It, therefore, has the gematria value of 3. Its Hebrew spelling is Gimel Mem Lamed, which, in turn, has a gematria value of 73 (Gimel=3, Mem=40, Lamed=30). The fully spelled word means "Camel", and is sometimes transliterated as Gamel.

The letter is drawn by starting at the left-hand side of the uppermost line and extending straight across and down on the right in one movement. The floor is then drawn from right to left. It's important to make sure that the back of the letter has a "tail", to distinguish it from Mem.

Gimel is seen as a charitable, indeed, a righteous, man in the Talmud, chasing after a poor man to give him charity (Daleth, the next letter, is related to Daluth, meaning poverity). The root of Gimel is gamal, meaning "to give", and thus Gimel gives to Daleth from the House of God (Beth), which is filled with the wealth of God's Divine Breath (Aleph).

The act of "giving" is also indicative of Binah, which, as the Supernal Mother, gives birth. The act of giving birth to the rest of creation is a kind and merciful act, for she gives birth to Chesed, just as Gimel gives birth to Daleth; and Chesed is the Sephirah of Mercy and Lovingkindness.

The camel of Gimel is also a symbol of Binah, for it carries water in its hump, which is symbolic of the water of life contained in the "bump" or belly of the Mother. The camel surives in the harshest of desert conditions, a state suitable for the dark Saturnian waters of Binah. An interesting parallel is that the full spelling's gematria of 73 is also the gematria of Chokmah (ChKMH), and thus intimates that the male principle is present within the camel of Binah, thus further supporting the idea of its water-bearing hump as the impregnated female. Likewise, the simple gematria of 3 is the Mystic Number of Chokmah, as well as the number of Ab, "Father".

Gimel is also a Double Letter, and the Moon is the planet assigned to it, while the High Priestess is its Tarot card, according to modern Hermetic tradition. The GRA Version of the Sepher Yetzirah (Kaplan translation) attributes Mars to it, while the Short, Long, and Saadia Versions opt for Jupiter. Indeed, even Wescott's translation shows Mars, so I'm not sure where the Moon came from (it was attributed to Beth, which now has Mercury assigned to it).

"He made the letter Gimel king over Wealth
And He bound a crown to it
And He combined one with another
And with them He formed
Mars in the Universe
Monday in the Year
The right ear in the Soul,
male and female."

Sepher Yetzirah (GRA version), 4:9

The idea of wealth is covered in the fact that Gimel gives money to poor Daleth (although Peace and War are sometimes attributed). The crown can be seen in the font I've used. These are employed on certain Hebrew letters, and called tagin. The assignment of planets and days are hard to reconcile with other established traditions we currently employ (such as the Moon belonging to Monday, thus a potential reason for its change).

It is also called the Unifing Intelligence in the 32 Paths of Wisdom (Westcott translation), while in Kaplan's translation we have the following:

"Unity Directing Consciousness. It is called this because it is the essence of the Glory. It presents the completion of the true essence of the unified spiritual beings."

Sunday 20 July 2008

Which Is Closest To Kether?

One of the "conundrums" I've run into over the past few years in the Qabalah is the confusion over the Three Veils of Negative Existence (Ain = Nothing; Ain Soph = Limitless; Ain Soph Aur = Limitless Light) and which one, Ain or Ain Soph Aur, is "closest" to Kether (as in, bordering it). To illustrate my point, here's the formation given by most Hermetic Qabalists:

The above makes "logical" sense (in as much as these abstract, negative concepts can make logical sense), in that the Ain, the Nothing, which is the most abstract and theologically furthest from creation, is furthest from Kether, the first expression of positive existence (albeit a highly abstract formation in its own right). The Ain Soph Aur, the Limitless Light, is then closest to Kether, the source of the Light that "feeds" and emanates the Sephiroth. Kether is sometimes paired with the passage "Let there be Light" from Genesis, which also suggests that this formation is accurate. Aaron Leitch made the excellent point on the above that each one "adds to" the other as they get closer to the level of existence in Kether and beyond (the Ain [1] becoming Ain Soph [2] becoming Ain Soph Aur [3] becoming Kether).

But let's have a look at the alternative, which tends to be used more in Jewish circles:

Here we have the complete reverse of the above, with the Ain closest to Kether and the Ain Soph Aur furthest away. It doesn't make sense on the surface, although from a graphical point of view the larger name corresponds to the larger "arc" around Kether. Is this enough, however? Well, firstly we have the fact that Kether and Ain are sometimes used interchangeably, and Kether is often seen as unknowable, just as the Ain is (although technically this applies to all the Three Veils).

Secondly we have the image of the "Cloud-Veils", where the Ain Soph Aur (AIN SVP AVR) becomes more concentrated as Ain Soph (AIN SVP), which becomes more concentrated as Ain (AIN), and they give birth to Kether in the centre. There is no real way of reversing this, as this image is dependent on the larger name forming the larger outer ring of cloud "petals", with the smaller name of three letters closest to the centre.

Personally speaking I lean towards the more logical option of the first (Ain Soph Aur closest to Kether), but I have a hard time reconciling it with the above, particularly the Cloud-Veils diagram, which is beautiful and concise, yet completely contradictory. If any of you find more information on this matter, from Qabalistic treatises or your own musings and thoughts, please share them here, as this is an issue I would love to see addressed.

Saturday 19 July 2008

One Class In The School Of Life

"When we learn to look upon the world from a Cosmic point of view, when we realize that each of our incarnations is only one tiny link in the eternal chain or one class in the school of life, we will understand that we are all brothers and sisters, even the greatest criminal. He is only younger than we, and has not yet gone through as many classes. Some day we will all reach the same goal, and our daily lives are made up of nothing but lessons, and our happiness depends on the value and proportion we ourselves put on everything which happens to us.

The knowledge of the whole Universe is hidden in our own being, so let us begin to uncover it and bring it out, with true love and fraternity for our fellow-travellers on the same road."

- V.H. Soror Nunc et Semper [Lilli Geise] (via Darcy Kuntz)

Friday 18 July 2008

Becoming Vessels

One of the most important actions we can take on this path is to give back to our spiritual community, to not merely take from the teachings and traditions given to us, but to give forth those teachings (within the confines of any taken oaths, of course) along with our own insights and any knowledge we might have garnered via our personal practice and study.

This act of giving to the greater fraternity of all is vital to preserve the material we have been honoured with, but also to cleanse ourselves of selfishness, of the "hoarding" mentality (the dragon and his gold, where the dragon is the many-headed one of the Qlippoth, and the gold is the spiritual teachings, now held at ransom by lower forces), and to allow ourselves to become vessels of the Light, a living embodiment of the Logos and Sophia, and a Beacon of Beauty (Tiphareth) for all other Neophytes straying now in Darkness.

In this sense we become like a Sephirah, receiving from the Sephiroth above us and giving to the Sephiroth below us; thus do we receive and project, and thus are we both female and male, expressing the hidden androgyny of the soul.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Adeptus Minores As Tzaddiqim

Continuing the Yesod theme of recent posts (see here and here), I'd like to explore a less well-understood aspect of the grade structure of the Golden Dawn and its attribution to the Tree of Life; and, for those already familiar with this, I hope to add another aspect for consideration: the Tzaddiqim (righteous).

The beginning or casual student will no doubt be aware that the grades of the Golden Dawn are attributed to the Sephiroth (barring the probationary grades of Neophyte [0=0] and Portal, which can be seen as an outer court to Malkuth and Tiphareth respectively [it's interesting to note that these are the two Sephiroth with probationary grades before them, hinting once more at their union]). Thus we have Zelator [1=10] attributed to Malkuth, Theoricus [2=9] attributed to Yesod, Practicus [3=8] attributed to Hod, Philosophus [4=7] attributed to Netzach, and Adeptus Minor [5=6] attributed to Tiphareth (the grades above this are not relevant to this post). This is the preliminary and basic understanding of the grades upon the Tree of Life.

However, this is primarily theoretical, and there is a deeper application of grades on a more "realistic" structure, where all four elemental grades are attributed to Malkuth (it being four-fold in structure), with Adeptus Minor technically being in Yesod (the astral realm). Indeed, the sub-grades of Adeptus Minor would actually give a similar structure to Yesod, with Neophyte Adeptus Minor, Zelator Adeptus Minor, and so forth (indeed, all of this within the World of Assiah). This may be surprising or confusing to some people, but the important point to remember is that both applications are correct. There is no "one" way of looking at the Tree, and it is nigh impossible to understand Qabalah in all its depth and intricacies if we don't realise that there are multiple Trees, all overlapping in different and seemingly contradictory ways. This is the penalty we pay as an attempt to understand the Divine, and there's little hope in trying to "dumb" God down to our limited level of understanding.

Now, let's bring this a little further. While the assignation of the Tzaddiqim doesn't really come into play in the Hermetic Qabalah, I found the Jewish assignment of them to Yesod intriguing, not merely because they represent the righteous of sexual purity (consistent with Jewish tradition), but because the above assignment of Adeptus Minor to Yesod intimates that the Adeptus Minor is (or should become) a Tzaddiq.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Recommended Beginner Books

This is a common question I see on forums and receive in emails, PMs, IM, and so forth, and thus I believe it deserves a blog post. What are the best recommend books for a beginner to ceremonial magick, and the Golden Dawn system in particular? I've listed some of my recommendations below, in the various categories of interest:

Golden Dawn & Ceremonial Magick

Regardie's "magnum opus", this book gives an excellent introduction to ceremonial magick, if you can get over his difficult style of writing (he writes longer paragraphs than I do!). As ever, I recommend the Cicero edition for expanded material, images, and notes.

An excellent introduction to some of the basic rituals a magician, especially within the Golden Dawn tradition, should know, along with an exploration of the links between magick and psychology. Get the Cicero edition for expanded material and notes.

An excellent introductory text, complete with history, grade and syllabus structure, and some frequently asked questions and concerns by new students. You can find my review of it here.

This is the old "tome" that every student of this system should have. It contains most of the rituals, knowledge lectures, initiation ceremonies, and so forth.

If you're considering self-initiation, then this is the definitive work. However, it's also useful for temple initiates, as it expands upon and better organises the material of Regardie's book.

The Golden Dawn has quite a few tools and regalia to create, and this book is an excellent guide to doing just that. A new edition is available via Thoth Publications.

A relatively new magazine dealing with Golden Dawn and general esoteric topics. The fifth issue was released a few weeks ago, which you can download for $6, or you can get four copies (a year's supply [it's published at Equinoxes and Solstices]) for $20 (all funds go to the Cicero's legal fund). This magazine has some excellent material, including well-known Golden Dawn authorities like the Ciceros and Nick Farrell. I highly recommending adding this to your collection.


The standard text on Hermetic Qabalah, on almost everyone's recommended list. This can be reread several times to learn new material, and should be on every magician's shelf.

A great introductory guide to the Qabalah, including some material Fortune omits. I think this is easier to read than Fortune's book. I suggest getting the Cicero edited edition, as their notes are very useful, as well as their addition of pathworkings.

An excellent guide to both the Qabalah and Tarot, and how they interrelate.


This is the traditional Rider-Waite deck with more appealing colouring. While not fully accurate to Golden Dawn material, it provides one of the best basic Tarot experiences, and, due to its wide use, is a good deck to begin with.

If you're studying the Golden Dawn system, then you need a Golden Dawn deck. I have both the Wang and Cicero decks, which I like and dislike for different reasons. The colouring of the Cicero one is beautiful and evocative (flashing colours are very powerful, so it's understandable why they were originally reserved for the Inner Order). The Wang deck includes different imagery, some of which is nicer than the Cicero one, while others are not so nice. These two decks are out of print, however, but you can get a black and white Golden Dawn deck here.

See above.

Case specialised in the Tarot, and his works on the Tarot are mostly of high calibre.


An excellent resource for both constructing and understanding your natal chart. Not something you'd read from cover to cover, but highly recommended.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Creation Is A Form Of Divine Self-Articulation

"The Kabbalist exults in the notion that God creates the world through some supernal and mysterious manifestation of language. This may take the form of permutation of letters, in the tradition of the Sefer Yetsirah, the uttering of mysterious divine names, or some other aspect of verbal self-revelation. A key symbol for the emergence of the sefirot is the movement within God from thought (Hokhmah and Binah) to voice (Tif'eret) to speech (Malkhut). This is to say that Creation is a form of divine self-articulation."

- Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar

Monday 14 July 2008

The Value Of The Intellect

There is a common battle in esoteric circles between the scholarly student and those who believe such scholarship should be dispensed with. For example, in some discussions I have had, I brought to light the very real fact that Hermeticism, as we know it (and I distinguish between it and Hermetism, which results in ire from those unwilling to make the distinction), stems from post-Christian times. All the evidence we have, including the Corpus Hermeticum, the primary source of Hermetic thought and teaching, points to this. Indeed, there may have been an older tradition, but that is speculation. What irritates me, however, is when people seem to think that just because we engage in a spiritual art, we can dispense with scholarship and historical fact, and, indeed, rewrite or reinterpret history to suit our speculation. Indeed, the frequency with which mankind seems to think that "older" equals better, particularly rampant in the occult world, is something that needs addressing. However, this and the history of Hermeticism must be reserved for other posts. Here I want to address the value of the intellect.

Many believe that intellectual knowledge and understanding of a subject is not a sign of adepthood, etc., and I agree with that. After all, there are far too many armchair magicians out there, who, while I value their depth in intellectual knowledge, would perhaps benefit from even a minimum of a Qabalistic Cross in terms of practice. Knowledge is not power if it is not put to use. But some people seem to think that intellectual knowledge and understanding should be dispensed with entirely, that an adept can "go without", and I disagree with this. An adept should exlore both the theoretical and practical sides of magick. To stress one above the other is to create imbalance. Now, obviously some magicians are more scholarly than others, while some are better with energy work, clairvoyance, and so forth. We are each unique in our abilities, particularly in which ones are already developed and which ones develop more quickly than others. But that is no excuse for not attempting to balance things out. Both subjects should be approached with fervency and vigour. The student should try to amass an intuitive (Gnostic) understanding, as well as an intellectual one, and vice-versa if such should be the case. After all, what good can he or she be to anyone else if his or her experiences and intuitions cannot be expressed in a way understandable by the intellect of his or her brethren and sistern?

So, to point out the value of the intellect, let us explore some of the esoteric teachings on the matter. First there are the Gnostics, who held the Mind in high esteem. Mind was the pinnacle, not just distinguishing us from animals, but as the embodiment of Spirit. Mind is, in many esoteric circles, almost identical to Spirit. Teilhard de Chardin, while he would not have called himself a Gnostic, explores this idea in depth in his theories of the noosphere (nous is Greek for "mind").

In Hermetic philosophy we are thought that "All is Mind" (see the Kybalion, for example). The energy that exists throughout all levels of existence is mental. Now, while it can be argued that the mind is more than the intellect, the intellect is still part of the mind. Mind is magick. We use our mind to affect things, to cause changes in ourselves and our surroundings. The intellect is one of the keys to the mind.

The head is at the top of the pentagram. It is also up there near Kether. The Crown of God goes upon the head. Chokmah and Binah are often depicted as the two hemispheres of the brain. Resh, the letter of the Sun, means the Head. Qoph, the letter of the Moon, means the back of the head. This is the alchemical union of male and female, and it talks about the head, the house of the brain, which is the home of the intellect.

But the Qabalah goes one step further, for the three highest Sephiroth reference the head and mental faculties. We have Kether, the Crown, which goes on the head, as mentioned above. Then Chokmah is Wisdom. While we can argue what wisdom is, the ability to articulate the mysteries to others would be part of it, and this requires the intellect. Then we have Binah, which is Understanding, which is another mental faculty. If that were not enough, the "Sephirah which is not a Sephirah" of Da'ath, the Abyss, is Knowledge. Now, I, for example, would argue that this is Gnosis, which is experiential knowledge of the Divine (see here), not intellectual knowledge. But the fact remains that intellectual faculties are revered, utilised as symbols of the higher "intellect" of God, which goes beyond book knowledge.

Intellectual knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, is the earthly counterpart of the divine knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of Gnosis. As ever: As Above, So Below. To ignore the value of the intellect is to ignore the very real fact that it is a gift from God, who made us in his image, and has the potential to lead us back to Union with him.

Sunday 13 July 2008

Power Obsessed With Itself Turns Demonic

Here is another interesting Qabalistic passage relating to the imbalance of Severity (Din = Judgement) and Mercy (Chesed = Love). I believe many in positions of power, particularly within the Golden Dawn community, would be wise to meditate on this:

"Here we have one of the most important moral lessons of Kabbalah: judgment untempered by love brings about evil; power obsessed with itself turns demonic."

- Arthur Green, A Guide to the Zohar

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.

Friday 11 July 2008

Yesod - The Secret Of Fire

After my previous post on sexual symbolism on the Tree of Life I came to a new realisation about Yesod, a new insight, and a new title. The title is:

The Secret of Fire

And why is it the Secret of Fire? Firstly because it is the lower counterpart of Chokmah, as stated in my previous post; it is the "physical" reflection of the latent male sexuality of Chokmah, which is represented by Fire (and the Yod of the Tetragrammaton, which is sperm-shaped).

Secondly because it is linked with the Root Chakra and the force of Kundalini, which is both sexual and fiery in nature. It is the coiled serpent ready to spring, the hidden (thereby secret) fiery nature of the watery lunar sphere.

Thirdly, and this is where the realisation sprung from, because the Hebrew spelling of Yesod is YSVD, and the Hebrew word for "secret" is Sod (SVD). Thus, Yesod is Y-SVD, the Secret of Yod, the Secret of Fire.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Sexual Symbolism On The Tree Of Life

Often times new students to the Qabalah are surprised when they find that sexual symbolism plays a key role in describing the various processes of emanation, etc. For example, Chokmah (the Supernal Father), as the second Sephirah, has a geometrical symbol of a line (made of two points), which can represent the phallus, or, since the line has no defineable end ("how long is a line?"), it can represent the rushing forth of force indicative of the sperm. Binah (the Supernal Mother), as the third Sephirah, has a geometrical symbol of a triangle (made of three points), which contains the force of the line in form, and represents the womb or vagina of the woman (particularly when the point of the triangle is pointing down). While some people may find this symbolism uncomfortable, it is intrinsic to a proper understanding of the Qabalah, and thus the student should not shy away from it.

The above diagram explores one more aspect of the sexual symbolism on the Tree of Life, exploring some the often-ignored representations of the Sephiroth. The most obviously sexual Sephirah is, of course, Yesod. When the Tree is assigned to parts of the body, Yesod represents the reproductive organs. This can also be seen via its role as the watery lunar sphere, representing the reproductive fluids, as well as the menstrual cycle of women, obviously connected to their reproductive organ.

However, this sphere was originally only representative of the phallus (considering the male-dominated Jewish society of the time), while woman, in her entirety, was pushed down to Makuth, having but that single Sephirah as her domain. This is also where Malkuth has taken on a feminine nature, as the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit or Presence of God in the physical world, not to mention its role as Earth (Earth Mother), and even some odd references to it (instead of Yesod) as the Moon (allowing its union with Tiphareth, the Sun, to be more alchemically acceptable). Thus, Malkuth is sometimes depicted as the womb, the earthly counterpart to the womb of Binah, just as Yesod is the lower counterpart of Chokmah. Binah and Chokmah can be seen as the two hemispheres of the brain, and thus the different gender aspects, as opposed to the sexual ones, which are much more linked to the physical (and thus, the lower spheres).

But these are not the only sexual Sephiroth, for Hod and Netzach are sometimes depicted as the testicles (more often, however, as the legs), pumping the sperm into the phallus of Yesod. And the energy that goes behind this, the ultimately primordial "drive", comes from Chokmah and Binah, their divine counterparts, pushing energy down into Tiphareth, which distributes it to the "testicles" of Hod and Netzach, then to Yesod, and lastly into the womb of Malkuth.

This is but one example of the various arrays of sexual symbolism in the Qabalah, but it is one that is rarely seen, explored, or understood. Sex is but another warehouse of myth that the ancient Qabalists utilised in their attempts to hint at the majesty of God.

Some New G.'.D.'. Resources

Peregrin at Magic of the Ordinary has been publishing some excellent Golden Dawn material lately, much of which has not been published before. Since some of you may not have seen his blog (shame on you! Go correct this error before lunch!), I've taken the liberty of linking to some of his recent Golden Dawn posts:

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram Analysis, Part 1

The LRP (Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram), in both its invoking and banishing forms, is the primary ritual employed by Golden Dawn magicians and comprised almost the entirety of traditional Outer Order magic (the rest being left for Portal and Inner Order). It was given to the newly initiated Neophyte 120 years ago, and is probably the most commonly used ritual in the magical community today, utilised by thousands inside and outside the Golden Dawn sphere.

But what exactly does it do?

"It invokes or banishes," is the simple and limited answer, but this only explores one aspect of the ritual; and even if we were to merely explore this, what does it invoke or banish, and how?

First, let us look at the pentagram itself, the signet-star of the ritual. It is a star of five points (penta = five), which is most often depicted as referring to the four elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire) and the quintessence, the fifth "element" of Spirit. Spirit is dominant when the pentagram is upright, while matter is dominant if the point of the pentagram is facing down. In this ritual the point is upwards, and thus it refers to the rulership of Spirit over Matter, of the Higher Self over the Lower Self, the Ruach over the Nephesh, and so forth.

Thus, when we draw the pentagram in all four quarters, we affirm to ourselves our goal of raising our consciousness to our Higher Self, of invoking Spirit, and removing the dominion of our soul from the hands of the ego into the hands of our ressurected spiritual Self. Indeed, this is no mere reminder, for the act of drawing it is both a meditation and a practical imprinting of this dynamic symbol in the aura, for as we draw it in all four quarters on a daily basis, we constantly plant the symbol in our Sphere of Sensation, which effectively mirrors what the Heirophant does (implanting symbols, etc. in the aura) in the various initiation ceremonies.

Therefore, the LRP is a form of initiation (or in the case of those who have received their 0=0 it is the gradual unveiling of what occurred in their initiation). What does it initiate? It initiates the raising up of the student to higher levels of consciousness. It initiates the cleansing of the student's Sphere of Sensation, by eliminating excess energy, negative and unproductive astral and emotional "junk", and the impulses and desires of the Lower Self, while invoking the Light, the Higher Self, the Archangels, and, of course, God (who is embodied in this Light). It initiates the transformation of the student into his or her Higher Self, a slow and gradual process, but a vital and necessary one.

But this is but one aspect of the five-pointed star, for it does not only refer to the elements ruled by Spirit, but to Geburah, the fifth Sephirah on the Tree of Life, known in summary as "Severity". This is a martial Sephirah (attributed to Mars), and thus signifies combat. Geburah represents the severe, sometimes "harsh", aspect of God, and therefore it is employed here to impart extra martial force to the ritual, granting it the necessary power and divine authority to banish whatever the magician sees fit (albeit, within reason). The potency of Geburah is not to be used lightly, and is often ignored or barely employed by magicians using the LRP, but it is there should they need it, affording the pentagram a kind of "backup" role as both a shield and sword, all of which lies as an instrinsic quality within the LRP as a whole. This also applies to the invoking form, creating a container for the energy and a barrier from unwanted energy while the invocation takes place.

Geburah is also seen, in certain traditions of the Qabalah, as the root Sephirah of evil. Thus, in order to banish evil (as we might need to do from time to time), it makes sense to employ a geometric figure applicable to this Sephirah. It is also related to the letter Heh, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which is often employed on an amulet called a Chamsah or Hamsa (see here), detailing a hand (five fingers) and utilised as protection against the "evil eye" and other negative forces. Thus, again the number five is employed for protective purposes, further reinforcing its nature within the LRP.

There are many more aspects to this ritual, however, some of which will be explored in future posts. For now, however, it is wise to consider Crowley's words:

"Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise."

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Book Of Beth: Commentary On Verse 32

I was asked in early April 2007 to explain Verse 32 of the Book of Beth, and the following is my answer to that person. First I will give the verse in question:

32. You shall plant new seeds, for the Sower is the Reaper, and those who plant well supplant the Throne of Saturn.


The student must plant new seeds so he can grow a new Tree of Life, his own personal Tree, which starts as a small sapling in Malkuth and rises to a majestic tree in Kether and beyond (where the seeds of the "primordial" Tree reside). The sower of the seeds reaps the benefits of them, for this is an internal tree, and as it grows, so too does the student in question. Indeed, because the student becomes the "Reaper", they become Death, and the figure of Death is derived from Saturn, who is Time; and Time is, by its nature, Death. Since the student becomes Death (via the growth of the Tree of Life, for Life implies Death), they supplant Saturn, who was Death, thereby taking his Throne. And to take his Throne is to admit mastery over Death, and eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life grants immortality, which is the mastery over Death. This is the supplanting of Death and Time symbolised by Saturn. It also hints at ascending to the Throne of Binah in the Supernal Realm, which is the "Garden Above" (where the fruit of the Tree before the Fall can be taken, and taking from this fruit can avoid the "Fall" [or make up for the Fall, via Tiqqun], since the Fall gave man the punishment of Death).

Monday 7 July 2008

Book Review: Inside A Magical Lodge

"The decline in popularity of the lodge system in the last century has impacted heavily upon the magickal community. With the publication of many once secret Order documents most students don't feel the need to partake in the lodge system at all; after all, why travel to a temple when you can do the work in your own living-room? However, this attitude leaves much to be desired, and clearly shows the lack of understanding of why the lodge system existed in the first place. But what are modern students who are not already a member of a surviving lodge to do? That's where Inside A Magical Lodge by John Michael Greer comes in."

To read the rest of this review, click below:

Sunday 6 July 2008

The Book Of Beth

I haven't written a poem on the letter Beth, as I have with Aleph, but there is this following work which was written around a year or so ago (yes, nearly everything I have done was done a year ago). A smattering of Qabalistic knowledge will be required to understand the document, but even if you don't have such, meditation on the imagery, etc. contained within may help with the gathering of such knowledge.

The Book of Beth

Feedback, comments, and insights into certain passages are most welcome.

Saturday 5 July 2008

The Mysteries Of Beth

Beth (pronounced Bayt or Bet) is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It, therefore, has the gematria value of 2. Its Hebrew spelling is Beth Yod Tav, which, in turn, has a gematria value of 412 (Beth=2, Yod=10, Tav=400). The fully spelled word means "House", and is sometimes transliterated as Bayith.

The letter is drawn by starting at the top left, drawing the roof, which extends down into the right-hand "wall". Then the floor is drawn by starting at the left, making sure a little "ledge" extends out further on the right (so it is not confused with Kaph, etc.).

The first letter in the Torah is Beth, forming Bereshith: "In The Beginning". There are many commentaries for why a Beth begins this seminal Qabalistic text and not an Aleph. One explanation states that Aleph was not used because it begins the word Arar, meaning "curse", while Beth begins Berakah, meaning "blessing". Another has all the letters line up before God, asking to be honoured with beginning the Torah and Creation. God chooses Beth, but keeps Aleph as the first letter, representing his unity (Kether).

Interestingly enough, if we take these first two letters together, Aleph Beth, we have Ab, the Hebrew word for Father. Thus, even the alphabet begins with the Father (God). The little "ledge" at the back of the Beth is an opening unto the breath of Kether, showing that these two letters are interlinked, like Force and Form. Beth always points to that which precedes it, just as the House points to the One who built it (and Aleph=1).

A further interesting point about Bereshith is that when we take the Hebrew, BRAShITh, and remove the three letters Resh, Aleph, Shin (RASh), which forms Rosh, meaning "Head" (related to the letter Resh), we are left with Beth Yod Tav (BITh), the spelling of Beth and "House". Thus, the Head (God) dwells in the House.

However, Rashith (RAShITh - Resh Aleph Shin Yod Tau) means "[the] beginning" (Beth can represent the preposition "in"), and thus Beth, which means "House" (Bayith), existed before the Beginning. B'Rashith. Beth Rashith.

The House existed before the Beginning. This is the House of God. But it is also the House of Israel. And what existed before the Beginning? Nothing. Nothing existed before the Beginning. So the House of God, the House of Israel, is Nothing. It is Ain. It is above the manifestation of Kether, because it is Unmanifest.

The Bahir says: "To those who seek to see the face of the King, but they do not know where the King is. First they ask the whereabouts of the King's house, and then they ask where the King is." When you find the House of God (Beth), then you will find God (Aleph)

Severity & Mercy

Here's an interesting passage I found that echoes certain passages and teachings in the Golden Dawn Neophyte ceremony. Perhaps the founders were aware of this and adopted it into their work:

"Without Severity or Judgement the World would have excessive evil, and without Mercy existence would be unbearably rigorous."

- the Talmud

Friday 4 July 2008

Excuses - How The Ego Tricks You

I don't have the time. I'm not in the mood. I'll do it later.

These are but a few of the more obvious excuses that we come up with for not doing things, particularly our magical work (though it applies to all areas of our lives). When we embark on our spiritual quest, or attempt to advance to the next level, our ego panics; how is it going to retain its seat of power if you engage contact with the Higher Self or attempt progress that will diminish selfishness and a limited mindset? So it fights you. And it has to fight, because this could be a life or death matter for it, or, more likely, the toppling of a false king from his throne. The Tower of Babel and the Kings of Edom.

Excuses are one of the ego's greatest tricks. They can be very insidious and convincing, and as you adapt to combat them, so too does the ego adapt its repertoire of excuses so that they become more complex and subtle. Suddenly you think that you're the one who originated with the thought. And you are, in a sense - providing you see the ego as you. But it's not all of you. Far from it. And one of the points of magick is to recognise this, and to help you get in touch with the higher parts of your being.

But what happens when your ego keeps holding you back? Well, firstly you need to recognise that you have an ego (not to be confused with arrogance, which is the ego gone to an extreme), and that the excuses you come up with originate there. In a sense, by externalising them you make them easier to deal with. It's much easier to fight other peoples' thoughts, but ten times harder to fight your own. So, by, in a sense, anthropomorphising your ego, it becomes "another person", and thus can be a little less insidious, and therefore more easy to deal with. This can become a problem, however, when you fail to keep in the back of the mind that this "other" thing is still you, or, at least, part of you. It's very easy to fall into another problem in attributing all the bad stuff you think and do to the ego as if it were not under your control. This forfeiting of control is an attempt to break free from responsibility, and is to be avoided at all costs on the road to adepthood.

Here are some more excuses you might come up with:

I'm not ready. Sometimes you may not be, but chances are that you're holding yourself back. For example, just as there are students who want to skip grades and do gradework above their level, so too are there students who want to linger and languish in their current grade, making 3 months become 6, and 6 become 12, and suddenly they're saying they've forgotten some of the earlier work and have to start all over again, until, in the end, they remain a Neophyte for years, or, indeed, all their life (now, we are all, technically speaking, still Neophytes on the greater path, but we must distinguish this generalisation from the more specific grade structures).

I don't know it well enough, so I'll do it later when I learn the ritual better. And will you? Or why not just get out a print copy of the ritual and do it now! You won't learn the ritual better by putting it off all the time. You learn it by doing it. So what if you make mistakes. That's part of the learning process. I still make the odd mistake in an LRP when I'm tired or not focusing properly, and I've been performing it for over 4 years. A badly performed ritual is infinitely better than none at all. Also, you might just say "I'll do it later", and then it gets later and later until it's bedtime and there's no later left in the day. Then later becomes tomorrow, and then next week, and then next month, and suddenly later is your next life and you still haven't done it.

I don't have the time. If you have the time to read this, then you have the time to perform a ritual, particularly ones that take so little time, such as the QC and LRP. The QC takes less than a minute to perform (indeed, 10 to 15 seconds should do it), and the LRP takes 5 minutes max. I'm sure you've spent a lot longer than 5 minutes staring into thin air, checking your emails, googling something, looking at Youtube, watching a TV show you've already seen before, waiting for your meal to cook, waiting at a busstop, etc. "I don't have the time" is the single most overused excuse for not doing something in the history of humanity. Make the time. Get up 1 minute earlier and do a QC. Rush into your temple space in the 5 minutes of ads between TV programs and do a quick LRP. The further you progress on this path, the more you will realise just how relitive time is. Bend it to your will or you will always be a slave to it. This is the mystery of escaping the bondage of Death.

I missed the scheduled time for ritual. If you have a schedule, great. However, that's designed to help you meet targets, not as leverage to break them. If you planned to do your ritual at 6, and it's now 6:30, do it now, or do it at 7. Many people use this as an excuse particularly with the Solar Adorations, since they are designed around specific times of day. If you miss the Noon one, you might think you shouldn't do it. All you've missed is the opportunity to match the ritual to the ideal time. You can still do it. Indeed, I plan my Adorations around my day, not the exact movements of the Sun, and therefore I usually always get them done. Indeed, even if I forget one, I do it before doing the next, even if that means I'm doing 3 of them in one go. Remember: it's better than not doing them at all!

I'm washing my hair. The ego doesn't have hair.

So, stop making excuses. This is work, the Great Work, and it's not easy. You will face obstacles, both external and internal, but ultimately the decision to progress and be successful lays with you and no one else. If you don't do the work, then you have no one else to blame for when you don't get the results you desire.

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