the magick mirror of Yesod

German mirror - Metropolitan Museum of Art

I think this should tie up the loose ends of the recent series of posts and videos on magick, Qabalah and occult Satanism*.

I have always (as in going back almost 40 years) found the sephira of Yesod both fascinating and key.

It is the sphere of The Moon on the tree of life, and the most visual, tactile part of the astral plane, shifting and reforming, where one thing becomes another, and time is different, and whose flux maintains the stability of the world we see with our senses. Change in stability, stability in change. It is also a sphere much associated with sexuality and deep, atavistic desires. It appears to me as a kind of magick mirror, in which we can glimpse the signs of our True Will, our deepest desire, for thelema translates to a term closer to desire than to our mental sense of “will”.

This is also our first gate into the subconscious, and the area where magick most essentially happens.

***

Back in either the very late 70s or very early 80s I would look at Eliphas Levi’s illustration of the Sabbatic Goat as Baphomet, the well known androgynous figure.

baphomet

Levi says of the goat figure:

he makes the sign of occultism with both hands,
pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and down-
ward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses
the perfect harmony of mercy with justice

Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual

Now though the directions of the Moons seem the wrong way round for the Northern Hemisphere, I took it that constructive Chesed would be associated with the waxing Moon, while martial Gevurah would be associated with the waning Moon. Where then would the Full Moon be? The obvious answer seems to be Yesod, which is primarily associated with the Moon, while the gateway to the astral is said to be open at the time of the Full Moon.

Though no mention is made of it in Levi’s chapter, it then left it open to me as to where the New Moon would be placed. Associated with what? The answer that came to me was that the New Moon (the dark of the Moon) would be associated with a place in the Abyss, with the sephira “which is not”, ie Da’ath. The eleventh sephira, “Knowledge”, eleven being the number of magick.

 

In fact, come to think of it, the way Levi describes Baphomet, Chesed is to his right (our left), and Gevurah is to his left. This is the opposite of the placements we would see if Baphomet were in front of the Tree of Life (or if we ourselves were performing a qabalistic cross for instance). Likewise the waxing and waning Moons are shown in mirror image (given that Levi would probably have never seen a Moon waxing towards the right, as occurs in the Southern Hemisphere). So in this depiction Baphomet is actually sitting with its back to the Tree of Life, facing the other way (unless this is simply accidental).

baphomet2

In fact I followed this association of the New Moon and Da’ath in my practice back in the early 80s, and when doing my art work I would often find that inspiration for a painting or drawing would dramatically come through at the dark of the Moon. If the Full Moon funnels down the light of Tiphareth and Kether from the astral of Yesod, then the dark of the Moon opens a gate from Da’ath, to the new, the alien, the “infernal”, and the truly individual. You have to be without judgement to work with this, and it is ecstatic, creative and liberating, but it can also be taxing, so you do have to look after yourself.

As I pointed out in my video, the hexagram arrangement on the Tree of Life marks out polarities linked to the planets and sephiroth, and one of the polarities is between Da’ath and Yesod, and between Saturn and the Moon.

11c

Given that it has often been said that it is the “astral light” that is being worked with to make magick, I think it makes sense that Saturn and Da’ath come through here as key agents in both the shaping and the disruption of the astral, to bring about magick.

Continuing with the theme of eleven, the number of magick, the eleventh sign of the Zodiac is Aquarius, originally ruled by Saturn. Atu No 11 of the tarot is “Strength” or “Lust” (in the Crowley deck), showing Babalon riding The Beast, and is the path connecting Chesed and Gevurah. This shows the conjoining of opposites (of whatever polarity) which is involved in magick.

The number 11 however does not seem to indicate a natural union (without any sense of value judgement attached to “natural”). The 11° OTO originally referred to the use of anal intercourse, and in Grant’s reworking involved (non-procreative) heterosexual vaginal union during menstruation. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus in modern astrology, and Uranus is famous for its capacity to powerfully deviate from the “norm”, whether in terms of genius, self-expression or atrocity.

On this point I am reminded of a question which posed itself to me a few years ago. When looking at the wheel of the zodiac we can see that it divides in two between a broad Summer and Winter (which swap over in the Southern Hemisphere).

yearwheel

Summer starts with a sign ruled by Venus, progresses through Mercury to a union of the Moon and Sun at the heart of Summer, before leaving via a Mercury and then a Venus ruled sign.

We then enter Winter through a Mars ruled sign, travelling through a Jupiter sign, before we get to the combination at the heart of Winter; two Saturn ruled signs. We then exit Winter in reverse order, through Jupiter and Mars.

I always wondered, what was the union of Saturns? In one sense I think it is a union across worlds (or universes). In fact the “unnatural union” requires this, for it is a union of sames (Saturn-Saturn) whose polarity must involve another dimension. So there is a trans-dimensional quality to this magick. In fact, this is spirituality in the raw. The congress of and with spirit.

The two signs involved are Capricorn and Aquarius, the 10th and 11th signs. 10 + 11 = 21. The 21st Atu of the tarot is The World (or The Universe), the card of success and fulfilment, ruled by Saturn (again). It is the path that links Yesod to Malkuth (the material).

Here I believe we do see a formula of magick, mapped out in the Qabalah and the zodiac. Yesod is the magick mirror, capable (necessarily) of reflecting both the repetition of the natural and the incursion of the supernatural. It is a mirror that we can tilt towards this world or the other.

Saturn is the key planet, and Da’ath the key sephira, but of course there is a lot more to life than this, and plenty to enjoy and work with in the realm of Nature. For some of us though, other kinds of work also seem to be pushed upon us.

Some blessings are strange indeed, and some strangenesses a blessing.

Love, and do what thou wilt.


*  https://youtu.be/xWksUvgw_NA

https://youtu.be/nF54yZQe7lc

https://youtu.be/EthmVHoe3FY

* and this post

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Light, dark, crowns and reversals

Coronadolores By Cofradía de Ntro. Padre Jesús Nazareno (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons - digitally altered

I’ve been finding it good to do videos at the moment, having found a nice way of recording them on my phone while pacing around the flat, which makes the flow and spontaneity work for me. I’ve been focusing on Spiritual (Theistic) Satanism, and things like Qabalah, and it has been a relief to be able to just focus on the kind of Satanism that speaks to me, without qualifying it with an attempt to (not mis-) represent Satanism more broadly. In fact, since really embracing the sense of Satan as a being, things have really slotted into place, and I’ve come that much closer to finding the next steps of my path. In some ways this was inevitable for me, as I am a polytheist and occultist, and the spiritual (rather than the materialism of more purely LaVeyan inspired Satanism) was bound to play a large part for me.

My last video was more of a video diary entry, and in it I was musing on the meanings of “dark” and “light” which people refer to.

One of my problems with neopaganism was its prosaic use of what were meant to be significant insights. We were told often of how monotheism “demonized” the dark and exulted a sense of the “light”, and how Pagan religions, being far more “natural”, accepted the different parts of life, the dark and the light, the painful and the blissful. We were given the sense of dark and light being a polarity of Nature, embraced by naturalism. Night and day, Summer and Winter, sunrise and sunset, birth and death. But there’s a catch here.

Is all that we have to consider really natural? Are we really accepting suffering equally with happiness (and should we)? Are we, in all our apparent aberrations as human beings, not also Nature? And when you have gone through the cycle of accepting day and night, birth and death (speaking as an ex-nurse, I have never got used to death), with that panacea of “reincarnation” as the supposed solution – have you really done the dark? Even if we talk about “facing the shadow” psychologically, what do we really mean? And what of “evil”, that ultimate emotive term of condemnation? I have no doubt that none of this is as the monotheists claim. But is it really so easy, so clean, so tamable?

As you might guess, my answer is “I don’t think so”. It’s good as far as it goes, but it only really goes as far as the insights of secularism and a tolerant common sense, which is fine, but not profound.

If you want to enter into a spiritual understanding of existence, then the darkness you deal with can’t just be “psychological” or symbolic, and can’t just be natural. And beyond a certain point, neither can magick. My critique here is not of the “Paganism” of old, which while it may be only partly known to us, dealt in grittier, dodgier stuff. It’s more modern, mainstream Paganism that I think hasn’t got it. The monotheisms, while I am opposed to them on pretty fundamental grounds, at least know something is there, and have the guts to call it “evil”, even if they don’t understand it, or its place in self-actualisation, and are antagonistic to the latter.

At some point we have to deal with the alien, the monstrous, that which doesn’t even belong to this Universe, which cannot for that matter be said to either exist nor not exist. This brilliant, lawless darkness we glimpse through the cracks, the points inbetween, and in so doing breathe a freedom we have never known before, an original creativity which lies also at the heart of ourselves. At that point, all bets are off. It is neither evil nor good, but ecstatic, yet in the absence of goodness will always be rationally and conventionally viewed as “evil”.  This freedom is part of what I see as being at the heart of both Satanism and Thelema.

The Left Hand Path has different goals to the Right. It is not “one of the infinite paths up the mountain”. This is no holism or universalism.

The Right Hand Path would have us ascend the Tree of Life, and merge ultimately in egoless union with The One. At least I believe that is the general picture. At the top of that tree (qabalistically) is Kether, The Crown. I don’t see any point in this, the coming here, only to go back, not even to a heaven, but blissful extinction in the unity we were meant to have come from, and should necessarily still be a part of already. So the Left Hand Path (in my view) takes another crown for its system, the sphere of Da’ath (knowledge, I think as gnosis), the gateway in the abyss, to other Universes, to the reverse of the Tree of Life.

Here we have the mystery of time and space, multiple alternate realities, and the labyrinthine, lustrous, black mother of pearl of the tunnels of being. And here the lawless creativity and gratification, the Sabbat of the dark of the Moon, the New, the brilliant, the free.

Here poetry, art, criminality (inevitably though not necessarily), and the savage desire that fires genius and the crackling, reckless impulse of science.

Here a figure dances and glitters between dark and light. An illicit Mercurius; magician, trader, thief, demon.

The fruit of Saturn, and Pan and our deepest dreams.

The new flesh.

 

pentagram invocation and banishing

Pentagram with the date 1813 on the door, Podgorica 1948 - by Boris Orel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is not a post on the experience of using these pentagrams, it is just some musings on the structure of the traditional set up. I’ll use the standard (not the “averse” forms).

Pentagrams are used in a great deal of Western ceremonial magic, and in a good deal of neopagan (ceremonially influenced) witchcraft.

Use of the pentagram as a glyph goes back to at least the Sumerian civilisation, and was referred to by Pythagoreans as  ύγιεια (Hygieia), “health”, linked to the Golden ratio. It acquired Christian symbolism with time, and appears in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the 14th century.

In terms of occultism, Henry Cornelius Agrippa (16th Century) disseminated the association of the pentagram with the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit or Idea), via an interpretation of the Pythagorean design. He also depicted a figure of a man within a pentagram, with the five visible planets arranged around the points.

The common, modern-day occult associations of the pentagram largely derive from The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, whose teachings have formed the basis of a great deal of modern occult “technology”. This is the scheme I’ll be looking at, as a means of invoking and banishing the elements.

Here are the pentagrams in full:

pentagrams

Here are the standard elemental attributes of the points:

pentagram2

By Mefistofeles (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As is obvious, the pentagram can be drawn with a continuous line, and this is how the elements are invoked and banished. The pentagrams are “traced” in the air with physical movements that are overlayed with imagined lines of light or fire as they are drawn, as if one were painting with light. Specific elements are banished or invoked by drawing the pentagram, starting at a specific point, and proceeding towards or away from the point associated with the element*, going round the whole pentagram and ending at the starting point (by which time you should have an imagined pentagram clearly visualised in front of you). For instance the banishing pentagram for earth:

earth-banish

Starting at the corner associated with earth, the first line is traced away from that point (towards the point of “spirit”), and then continues round until you get back to the earth corner.

The invoking pentagram for earth:

invoking-earth

starts at the point associated with spirit, and draws its first line towards the corner associated with earth (which is being invoked).

The other elements have similar arrangements, except for spirit, which has two forms (active and passive), both of which follow a different rule.

If it was just a matter of drawing lines towards or away from an element, we could obviously have two ways of invoking and banishing each element, but if that were so each banishing would also be an invocation of something else, as every line is both going towards and away from a point. So we have the scheme as shown above. Let’s look at them in terms of relationships within the pentagram.The general rule of “towards to invoke, away from to banish” still holds*, but the arrangement is as follows.

Water is invoked from the direction of air, and banished towards the direction of air.

Air is invoked from the direction of water, and banished towards the direction of water.

Fire is invoked from the direction of spirit, and banished towards the direction of spirit.

Earth is invoked from the direction of spirit, and banished towards the direction of spirit.

So there is a symmetry with respect to air and water, and fire and earth.

Spirit has two forms, active and passive, and neither are invoked by tracing towards the corner of spirit, which is a banishing  technique for earth and fire, and neither is banished by tracing away from spirit, as this invokes either earth or fire.

Active spirit is invoked by starting at the fire corner and tracing towards air (masculine to masculine), then continuing round to the starting point. Active spirit is banished by starting at the air corner and tracing towards fire (masculine to masculine in reverse order).

Passive spirit is invoked by starting at the earth corner and tracing towards water (feminine to feminine), then continuing round to the starting point. Passive spirit is banished by starting at the water corner and tracing towards earth (feminine to feminine in reverse order).

It’s an interesting scheme which can be seen as deriving from the physical limitations of a five pointed structure that has to accommodate all these functions, but does it have an implicit structural consistency?

The mirroring of air and water, and earth and fire is interesting, as these pairings are also what was picked up by CG Jung as polarities in psychic functioning, in his case this manifesting as thinking-feeling (air-water), and sensation-intuition¹ (earth-fire).

Air and water are both, in their different ways, highly relating elements, and these two get invoked and banished in relation to each other in a sense here.

Earth and fire on the other hand, get invoked and banished in relation the third, quintessential element of spirit or ether. They seem to be at extremes of the four-element scheme, the ultimate in quixotic movement, flux and energy, and the ultimate in fixity, inertia and potentiality. One is the will we can singularly gain, and the other the physical basis of our separate, unique existence. These two derive their invocation from spirit, not each other, yet share an inner bond by virtue of that, and are banished by spirit in a sense, the ultimate holistic element. At least that is how it appears to me.

Active spirit is called upon (and banished) with reference to the two masculine elements, while passive spirit uses the two feminine elements.

Active spirit is invoked starting at fire and going towards air, and banished starting from air and going towards fire.

Passive spirit is invoked starting at earth and going towards water, and banished starting at water and going towards earth.

Where working with spirit is concerned, all elements are involved, but by gender, according to whether it is active or passive spirit. Spirit is invoked away from the direction of earth and fire. Spirit is banished away from the directions of water and air. So spirit is invoked in masculine or feminine forms², starting from the points of fire and earth respectively.

These are entirely incidental musings on the scheme, but I hope they might be of interest to someone.


 * aside from spirit.

¹ “intuition” here refers to a fiery, lightning flash, insightful quality, not to the watery associativeness that tends to popularly get ascribed to the term.

² in a metaphysical sense, not in the sense of manhood or womanhood.

6th March 2017: edit of last paragraph but one.

the work

Tarot de Marseille Fool - By Nicolas Conver (http://www.wischik.com/lu/tarot/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As I’ve said before, I want to write more on Richard Gardner‘s work, and I feel I really need to, like I’m being pushed to do this. This is a start on that.

Richard classed himself as a “metaphysician”, and was deeply interested in human consciousness, and the nature of consciousness itself. He is in many ways a voice from another age, and I think even more valuable for that.

Richard studied the tarot and wrote a number of books on the subject, from the point of view of the teaching he saw preserved within it, rather than for its “fortune telling”. In it he saw the working of consciousness for its evolution, and he considered the evolution of consciousness to be the driving force of life, and of ourselves as part of life.

He also saw the elements as key to this, and love as I think in many ways the great work of the evolution of consciousness. Love, with its great drives, and its promise of bliss and perennial dreams fulfilled, and the despair engendered by its frustration, was at once the most direct, subtle and luminous of instructors. Richard considered the understanding of sexuality and sex to be very important in this.

He used to write that in the tarot, “God” was most clearly represented by The Fool, the unconditioned, pure Life Force, and this also represented what he termed “super-consciousness”, which he considered miraculous. This card is either unnumbered or numbered “0”, and he likened it to the Divine Androgyne. Richard’s God was not a god of authority and rules though, but a god of life, love and pure adventure, divine play, rather than personage, for it was in and through everything.

This isn’t a “religious” philosophy in any conventional sense, indeed it isn’t philosophy as such, but a metaphysical teaching to be experienced, an attempt to get us to experience and live life more consciously and fulfillingly, and understand what drives us.

bad girls and crimson lads

Astrology can be a very rewarding study, as it deals in a psychological language that subjectively correlates with our inner and outer lives. It does this in a way which is not rationally explainable, but due to its potency it seems to dig down into Nature. For the receptive astrologer it can illuminate principles that structure experience, and elements of identity in a luminous manner. It is not a science, nor a rational study, but it is real in the same sense that poetry and artistic meaning are. Its archaic interaction with our lives is one of the reasons I consider it akin to magick and divination. Magick and astrology both inhabit an intermediate, ensouled world between matter, body and psyche.

Astrology uses the planets and other astronomical bodies, and associates these with principles which it links to the gods of mythology (most commonly, though not exclusively Roman). These might not be understood in the way that a hard polytheist would, but they nevertheless carry an influence which can follow mythological themes and structures, in poetic recombinations. This is why exploring your natal chart can almost seem like the discovery of your own, personal sacred themes, as if you were discovering an unwritten mythology, which yet resonates with larger themes, but without absorbing or replacing the individual life and its meaning.

I’ve had some interesting experiences with this kind of thing. One of the challenges in my own chart lies in a square (90° aspect) I have between The Moon and Venus (the latter being on the IC). The square is generally consider a “difficult” or challenging aspect, as the planetary energies have conflicting modes of expression, due to the signs they are in. So for instance one may express impulsively and spontaneously, and the other express cautiously and sensitively, but being linked, they have to learn how to get the combinations of their energies “right”. In the case of the Moon and Venus, these are both archetypally feminine energies, and very compatible simply as energies, but the square aspect creates an awkwardness, with my responsive and reflective, receptive Moon nature being independent and spontaneous, and my more romantic, sensual and relating nature being protective and nurturing. I’m very Moon-Venus by nature, but it takes work to understand my own awkwardnesses and sensitivities, insecurities etc.

The challenge is further elucidated by my Moon being conjunct both Eris and Black Moon Lilith*. It’s important for me to be able to reconcile both my Venus (which is also my chart ruler) and the complex of Moon, Black Moon and Eris, for me to be myself most deeply, and have a full life where I fulfil my nature and “purpose”.

Recognising the necessary relationship (for squares are powerful relationships, and as necessary as any other) between Black Moon Lilith/Moon and Venus has itself been very important for me in understanding myself. Darkstar Astrology says the following about the conjunction:

“Moon conjunct Lilith fuses two ‘moons’ together. So we get the mother and the anti-mother in one being. I think it becomes rather like the Black Madonna, it is extra potent and a Virgo archetype. This combination has to successfully merge the paradox of the virgin and the whore or the very worst manifestation of Lilith can surface. At its best this is sheer priestess and occult ability at the highest level. The conjunction can work as a hard or soft aspect, so when it is good it is very good, but when it is bad it is terrible”

Darkstar Astrology

Yup, I get that. In fact it’s been one of the themes of my life, first surviving (in my earlier life), and then understanding this, and its meaning for me.

The connection with this in perception came about after I had come to relate to a deity that isn’t found in astrology at present though, the Thelemic goddess Babalon. This itself was accompanied by events in my life, which led me to search inwardly. Our lives are driven from deep within us at crucial points. Babalon is based upon a reinterpretation of The Whore of Babylon, and she is both a Venusian goddess, and also a transformative spiritual agent with “demonic” (or daemonic) associations. The above mentioned merging of “the paradox of the virgin and whore” is apparent in her qualities, for she is both deeply sexual and powerfully spiritual, and evokes Virgo’s self-possession, but with Scorpio’s transformative and taboo inheritance thrown in.

I knew Babalon was important to the person I most deeply was, and knew I had to become. Now I can see it in my natal chart, and the patterns fall into place still more. Love, nurturance, sexuality, spiritual transformation and the most raw forces of life and desire are all called forth, to confront shadow, and truly love.

Virgo and Scorpio are placed either side of Libra, the Venusian sign most associated with relationship and balance. In terms of astrological rulerships of signs, we have the planets Venus and Mars, combined under the auspices of Mercury/Hermes.

Babalon is an archetype of the “Scarlet Woman” in Crowley’s system, but this same energy can and does manifest through males. I like to call the male counterpart “crimson lads”, but that’s just a little poetic license.

In astrology, if you follow intuition, feeling, instinct and creativity, you can come to listen to its language more personally. At the right time, this can help to illuminate our authentic experience and natures.

septagram1

Star of Babalon

* I’ve written before on the subject of Black Moon Lilith, and this “imaginary Earth” is a fascinating astrological point that can resonate on many levels.

the satan in the sunshine

It’s almost a year since I became a Satanist (call it first thing on 1st May as the real anniversary) and the identification has settled down nicely. It really comes into its own when dealing with life, dealing with the world, and when in action, even when that action is internal. The contemplative and relational aspects of spirituality remain largely the same. The ethical enquiry is sharpened inwardly, and more circumspect and tolerant in terms of outward expression, but it plays essentially the same role in personal orientation, though it hinges very explicitly upon personal responsibility. It’s in action, in doing and becoming that Satan seems to show most brilliantly.

I said a good while ago that to me “Satan” was the principle of individualized consciousness, and that remains a good indication. Maybe you should say “The Satan”, as you would say “the weather”, or “the force of gravity”. Different people see it different ways of course. It does in any case represent one of the mysteries of consciousness. In these associations there is something I would describe as “solar” in characteristic, both astrologically and magickally, just as the number 666* possesses. You can trace some of this through Crowley’s work, and find such lines as the following in Liber Samekh:

“O breathing, flowing Sun!”

“O Sun IAF! O Lion-Serpent Sun, The Beast that whirlest forth, a thunder- bolt, begetter of Life!”

“Thou that flowest! Thou that goest!”

“Thou Satan-Sun Hadith that goest without Will!”

Liber Samekh

and:

“Thou spiritual Sun! Satan, Thou Eye, Thou Lust! Cry aloud! Cry aloud! Whirl the Wheel, O my Father, O Satan, O Sun!”

“Thou, the Saviour!”

“Silence! Give me Thy Secret!”

“Give me suck, Thou Phallus, Thou Sun!”

“Satan, thou Eye, thou Lust! Satan, thou Eye, thou Lust! Satan, thou Eye, thou Lust!”

“Thou self-caused, self-determined, exalted, Most High!”

Ibid.

It is Crowley’s personal religious iconography of course, but the associations between Sun and Satan are spiritually sound for me. Selfhood, the deeper root of will, the light of conscious being and becoming, the crux of individuation.

Here it comes …

* the number being connected to the magic square of the Sun