Recently I did a video in which I gave a recounting of where I’m at in terms of my work, linking it in part to the four elements. I just wanted to do a little further description, which might show how it integrates for me.
Earth is the most material and external element in many ways, and in earth I would put religion, form, physical practices. This is why I associated Satanism especially with earth for me; not because it is only earth, but because it is my religion. On official documents, I’m a Satanist. On the next census, I’ll be down as a Satanist. If I’m asked my religion, “Satanism” is the accurate answer.
Water is the element of communication with the invisible, the spirit world. It is the “soul” of a spiritual path. In my video I mentioned Michael Bertiaux here, because he has taught me more, more simply, than pretty much anyone in this regard. It’s the poly in polytheism, the image in imagination, the psyche in psychology, the conduit of the liquid messengers of hormones, the moistness, and sweat and spurt of sex.
Fire is the element of individual sovereignty, and I see this exemplified in Thelema, which is a flowering of the Satanic spirit for me. Fire in the belly of the Earth, fire in the unconscious, fire that turns solid to liquid, liquid to vapour, that rips the shell off particles, coalesces, purifies. Fire that eats the world and births every mineral richness.
Air is the element of ideals, application, crisis and peace. I think it is probably the most idiosyncratic side of a path. Air seeks answers, final resolution, a comprehensive sense that can be communicated. This is why it needs to be empty, so as not to entrap in limited meaning that fabricates certainty. I associate this with the Maat Current for me personally, and it is of course my own expression of it as a Satanist.
Water has become very important for me. The element, its world, its nature and my place in it. It was always important for Phil, and we always looked for water energy. The two homes we really made in England were either side of that serpentine loop of the Thames which forms the Isle of Dogs. The first was in Greenwich, with its waterfront and maritime history, the second in Poplar, with its canals and history of docks, sailors and sea trade. Over on the Island, a light winked from the illumined pyramid atop Canary Wharf.
It’s taken me this long to get Neptune in Pisces (it’s been there since 2012). It was glamour before: of romance and harmony (Libra), sex and mystery (Scorpio), travel and adventure (Sagittarius), wealth and status (Capricorn), technology (Aquarius). Maybe I expected it to follow the same pattern in Pisces, but actually Neptune in Pisces is something different. It’s like the lack of nighttime vision in the centre of your eye. The radio silence as the space capsule went round the other side of the Moon. The dead zone to all the other things Neptune meant in other signs. The silent, liquid click of the safe lock. The doors opening soundlessly, deep down on the sea bed. The reset, of the cycle that began in 1847.
Turn inward, or way out, and you could float, effortlessly, through the imaginative, filmy, sensitive tissues of the other world, that grows into and out of this one, like capillaries, tendrils, fungal threads, mushrooms of light, sheets of feeling, enzymes and hormones of invisible pattern. Older than all of Life, bleeding timelessness, messages as old and as encrypted as the ocean of space. Wet sails billow, wood creaks, and the prow swings, with no crew in sight.
When I became a Satanist I aimed to destroy (or at least deactivate) external moral authority, and pursue magick and life for myself and my loved ones. What Satanism came to mean most fundamentally for me was spirituality. In my pursuance of a path, I came to view Satan-Set-Saturn as essentially one being. I was delighted to see Michael Bertiaux present a somewhat similar view about Set and Saturn, but also referring to Shiva rather than Satan. Mr Bertiaux has been a periodic light to me for over 30 years. I would hear or read something from him, and something would fall into place, become clear, such as the centrality of communication with entities for magick. Funnily enough after all this time, “spirituality” essentially means congress with spirits, with the invisible for me.
Mr Bertiaux also gives a lovely, fascinating, gentle talk on some water related themes in the video below. I love the combination of the weirdness and kindness:
Late last year my sister introduced me to some ideas connected with evolutionary astrology, and to the Porphyry house system. The “houses” are the ways astrologers divide up the space in the chart, demarcated by the horizon, and the direction of the highest point of the zodiac’s rising in the sky, and lowest point projected under the earth below.There are 12 houses, and according to which house system you use, they end up as differently sized for any one location and time. Like the signs of the zodiac, each house is assigned to one of the four elements. Using the Porphyry system I found that my Sun was in the 4th house, the water house associated with the sign of Cancer, rather than the fiery 5th house I had previously taken it to be in. This made so much sense to me. In fact my grand trine of Moon, Sun-Uranus and Saturn were all in water houses, even if in fire zodiac signs. The fieriness of my grand trine is actually somewhat paradoxical anyway. Sun in Leo is combined with the very un-solar Uranus. Sagittarius has a dampening Saturn in it, while Aries has the most watery body of the Moon in it. Fire is quite a complex deal for my grand trine, which is an important resource in my chart. The water houses, on the other hand, make a great, and previously hidden sense. The Moon is at home in water. Saturn’s nature also suits water better somehow. Water wears down resistance and structure with time. I knew about both these house placements previously. The new one was Sun conjunct Uranus in the 4th house. The Cancerian 4th house is the perfect balm to the fractured, traumatized nature of Sun conjunct Uranus. I always loved being based at home. Always loved the Moon, and the early hours. I didn’t forget childhood vision Family was important to me, even if difficult to achieve. I always loved baking. I always wanted a husband. I was lucky enough to really get one.
Speaking of which, my husband came through a number of mediums in Yorkshire at the weekend. Spiritualism was something we had become interested in, in the last few years. Spiritualism and Spiritism are again very watery. Both arose during Neptune’s last passage through Pisces.
Phil always had this thing about Atlantis. If you do our composite chart by one method, “we” were born in the Atlantic Ocean. But there’s a much bigger ocean that we’re all in.
Beautiful relief, that there is such a thing as mystery.
Lights out. Come to the open doors at the back.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
* and this post
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.