Mishkan ha-Echad

Monday, 19 March 2012

Making Tools - Materials

One of the important things to realise when making tools within the Golden Dawn tradition is that the material largely does not matter. Unlike some grimoiric traditions, the Golden Dawn generally does not see the magic as being inherent within the material itself, but rather within the symbolism employed upon it.

An example of this can be found in the Theoricus Adeptus Minor paper on the Ring and Disc (see Sandra Tabatha Cicero's The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers, p. 258):

"The Ring and the Disc may be made of any material - cardboard will do - not too light, or the elasticity of the thread may vitiate its action."

It may come as a surprise to many people that cardboard was a particularly common material used by the original members. For example, W.B. Yeats made a lot of his talismans from cardboard, pasting coloured paper on to make the various polygrams, etc.

Yeats' Tzadkiel Talisman

Yeats' Rose Cross Lamen

This is not to say that the material employed cannot add another layer of meaning. We know from our Golden Dawn studies that copper is linked with Venus, for example, so if we employed a copper disc with Venusian symbolism it would have more symbolism than a cardboard equivalent. 

The power is in the symbols, however, not the raw material, so we need not feel limited by our lack of ability to procure or craft with a certain material. Necessity often requires that we make do with what we have, and it is infinitely better to employ a tool made of cardboard or paper than none at all, a truth discovered by many magicians, such as Lon Milo DuQuette with his paper PELE Ring.

Images © National Library of Ireland


Peregrin said...

Hi Dean,

good post, thanks.

I agree with what you say here. Now, the good thing about cardboard type materials, is that if you get the right type of paste-board, it absorbs a fluid condenser or tincture. These can bring in correspondence and etheric, astral and mental plane links and energies (depending on how made)to planetary, zodiacal realms etc. Obviously one coats with fluid condenser and waits for it to dry, leaving particles and etheric substance in the board as the water evaporates off. :)


J.C. said...

I look at the use of just the symbolism (without regard to substance) as being something in and of itself that must be learned, experimented with, and a trust developed in its efficacy.

In my practice I like to see what works, when isolated from all else. For example, I had some amazing results with meditations upon the polygrams (both personal and with others), without employing any color or divine names. The results of that work demonstrated very clearly to me that those images have a power by themselves, without any support.

For me the same goes for talismanic work. Do talismans work on paper? Yes. But just as those polygrams work even better when used in conjunction with color and divine names than by themselves, so too does a talisman work even better when proper symbolism is used in conjunction with proper material.

That being said, I think it is far better to make something out of cardboard than to make nothing at all. We make our Rose Cross lamens nowadays almost universally out of wood, I think, while back in Yeat's day I don't think the tools were necessarily readily available.

I don't think of just using cardboard or paper as being incorrect, I just think of it as being incomplete. However, I also think there is something to be gained and learned from just using a paper or cardboard medium.