Mishkan ha-Echad

Monday, 26 March 2012

Making Tools - Do It Yourself

While the materials used to make tools might be of significance to some people, a bigger element that we see in Golden Dawn circles is an emphasis on making the tools yourself, rather than having someone else make them or buying them from a store.

And this is a myth. While it is hugely beneficial to make your own tools, it is by no means a requirement, and sometimes we have to make do and employ the help of others for things we simply cannot do ourselves.

I often use the example of John Dee and the PELE Ring, which was to be made of gold. In grimoiric tradition the exact instructions to be followed are usually extremely important, even if they might at times be symbolic. Dee was concerned that he would not be able to make the Ring, but the angels told him that "any honest man" could do it, which shows that he was not required to do it himself, that there is some flexibility in the original Enochian system.

And there is even more flexibility when it comes to the Golden Dawn.

An officer wand or lamen or any other tool does not have any inherent power. The power comes through the symbolism (which should be there whether you or someone else makes it) and the consecration of it (either as a once-off ceremony or on a regular basis, such as at the Equinox Ceremony).

You do not need to make your own tools in order to participate in the Golden Dawn tradition. When you think about it, a temple usually only has one set of tools made by one person, and yet everyone uses those in temple work. An initiate's personal temple is something different, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the surviving implements of original Order members were created for them.

There's also something to be said for procuring an item that is well-crafted, compared to making something of your own that might not be up to scratch. That is not to say that we should all be judgemental about our artistic talent, but I know that personally I would rather buy a well-stitched sash than struggle through on my own and not be happy with the finished product, a negative emotion that could be subconsciously brought into any magical work employing it.

Now, before anyone thinks I'm staunchly against making your own tools, I'm not. In fact, I'm very much in favour of it, and I like to make as many of my own tools as possible, or at least hand-paint them if the basic object is created for me.

One of the best reasons to make your own tools is that it forces you to spend time and energy working with the symbols. It effectively works out as an active meditation. My own experience with making tools has shown that this is worth the time and effort, no matter how many hours it takes.

The personal investment also creates a connection with the item that is hard to mimic, but one of my old teachers shared a valuable alternative for when buying an item. Magicians can spend each working hour required to earn the money contemplating the tool, effectively dedicating that time and effort to acquiring it, closely approximating (and sometimes exceeding) the time and energy involved in creating tools.

Here's an example of one piece of temple furniture I made and hand-painted:

Should anyone wish to make their own tools, something I encourage they at least try for some items, the Ciceros' Making Magical Tools is an excellent resource. For those who buy their tools, the Ciceros also have a book called Ritual Use of Magical Tools, which gives various meditations and rituals that can help connect you to the item and provide significant insight (a valuable practice that those who make their own tools should also employ).


J.C. said...

The great thing about making your own tools is that:

a) it's fun and stimulating

b) you're not limiting yourself to someone else's expression of a magical tool or symbol

c) you get better at it with time and practice, and it's like developing a skill

d) Most importantly (in my opinion), the construction and crafting of a magical symbol or tool really immerses ones consciousness into it, and is a valuable exercise in and of itself.

Nice pillar! :-)

Frater Yechidah said...

I agree completely, and encourage people to do so for those same reasons.

It is not a requirement, however, and store bought tools will work just as well in the hands of a competent magician as self-made ones.

Thanks! :)


Peregrin said...

Hi Dean,

good points, and I concede that not all tools need to be made by oneself. Order tools, obviously. However, I do strongly suggest that for personal tools, even if one ends up purchasing a ready made variety to consecrate, we should TRY and make our own first.

By doing so we not only learn a lot, create a strong form on the inner etc, but appreciate the skill and time that goes into the purchased item. Which increases our connection to the purchased item also. Like you, someone made most robes and cloth materials, but I attempted them first, and glad I did.

Still, only a minor thing, it is the understanding, consecration, use, and relationship we have that creates a powerful tool.

And, yes, nice pillar :)

Frater Yechidah said...

Hey Peregrin,

I agree. All GD magicians should try to make their own tools and regalia if possible (my first robe and sash was hand-made, with the help of my sister, many years ago), as it is very rewarding on multiple levels.

Thanks! :)