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Oliver St. John is the author of fifteen books covering Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, the Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of the Thelemic Magical Collegium, Ordo Astri, and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ain Soph Aur: LVX or NOX?

Aleister Crowley defined magick as the “Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will”. However, all magical working concerns the manipulation of glamours, and none of these results or the desires that fuel them have any substance or reality in themselves. Hadit is the Magician and the Exorcist, and all phenomena appear spontaneously—there are no causes and no effects.
–From the Preface to Hermetic Qabalah Initiation Workbook (Ordo Astri)

Advaita or Non-Dual reality is often ascribed exclusively to Eastern mysticism, as though it had no part in the Western Hermetic Tradition. And yet, the Hermetic Tree of Life does not begin with Kether, the ‘One’, or Chokmah, the ‘Two’. The three veils of Negativity that precede Kether—Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur—have a vital role in all practical working, whether the aim is mystical, magical or both. When we begin meditation on the Tree of Life with Kether, or the Rituals of the Pentagram with the word “IAO”, aspiring upwards, there is a momentary pause. In that pause, we clear our minds of all thought and sensation, and contemplate the Ain as no-thing, no object, no subject—pure emptiness and spaciousness. Then when we utter the first words, Kether is truly formulated from the three veils of the infinite.

Kether and Atziluth as a concentration of the three veils of Negative Existence

Ordo Astri Qabalah: AIN SOPH AUR

The Mexican sorcery or shamanism that is described in the writings of Carlos Castaneda is none too different from the magick of the Hermetic tradition. The trick of following a symbol back to its source with the infinite—analogous thought as opposed to analytical thought—is vital to both traditions. With the Mexican sorcerers, there is more emphasis on the natural world, whereas the urban magician is usually inclined towards more abstract ciphers. The hieroglyphs are ‘out there’ in nature, in rocks, plants, mountains, physical places and their genius loci. However, this is no different than the magick practiced by our ancient Egyptian forebears. Every bird, animal, creature, stone, plant, building or place is a cipher of the infinite. The word “cipher” itself is derived from the Arabic sifre, meaning “zero”, and there is a meaningful correspondence between sifre and sephira or “number”. In the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, Nuit says: “Every number is infinite; there is no difference.”

The teachings of Castaneda’s Don Juan insist that the nagual – the Mexican word for the formlessness and space that is the true nature of matter – is the only source of real power to the magician or shaman. The nagual – more or less equivalent to the thread of the Ain Soph of the Qabalah—is the timeless source of all magick and sorcery. It is said that if a sorcerer has enough power, then he or she can enter the nagual and leave it at any point in space or time. A shaman can thus disappear from one place and in an instant be transported to some other place a thousand miles away. The Mexican shaman gains knowledge of every thing, object, creature or plant, by entering into the formless reality that is veiled by the object. Likewise, the Kemetic and Hermetic magician follows every symbol back to its source with the infinite.

One unique thing about the Hermetic practice is that we start at the top and then draw down the force, before working upwards again. In other traditions, it is more common to begin from the ground and work your way up. So it appears from our practical work that we begin with Kether the Crown, the first emanation of the Tree of Life. Kether more or less approximates with the Atman of Eastern philosophy. The Egyptian god Atem or Atem Ra embodies much the same principle. However, numbers begin from zero, not one. The idea of negative existence or Non-Being is as integral to the Hermetic tradition as it is to Eastern Advaita. In the Qabalah we have three veils of the negative light, the Ain, the Ain Soph and the Ain Soph Aur—No-thing, Limitless Space, and Limitless Light. Kether is the first appearance, and is really a concentration or mirror reflection of those three veils of the infinite. The name of Kether in Atziluth is AHIH, “I Am”, the pure existence, undifferentiated. If we say that name backwards, we declare “Maya”—that the ‘One’ is the root of the delusion of appearances. The Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur reflected in Kether is Light in Extension, the LVX formulation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. When this is reversed, we formulate NOX or Night, the threefold eye of Ain, Not-Self or Non-Being. The word Ain is closely related to the letter and word Ayin, the eye of the void.

The Qabalist bears in mind at all times that the sephiroth of the Hermetic Tree exist at four worlds or levels, and that there is a tree in every sphere. The divine world, Atziluth, is more or less the plane of the gods at the cosmic level. The Egyptian gods are Neters, “Principles”, that are the divine expressed in nature by natural laws. Nuit and Hadit, the primary gods of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, are the most cosmic or absolute of all the gods. As such, their first place on the Hermetic Tree is with the Ain and the Ain Soph. There is some correspondence with Shiva and Shakti of the Eastern Tantras.

On the plane of time and space, the temporal world, all things, objects and creatures appear to be a result of causes. We therefore tend to perceive everything as a chain of cause of effect. Malkuth in Assiah is the world of action and elements, identical to the Sanskrit “karma”. In the cosmic world of Nuit and Hadit, there are no causes and no effects—there is no time. The notion of time where there seems to be a past that is no more, a present that is ‘here’, yet constantly moving forward, and a future that is as yet unborn, does not come about until the midpoint of the Tree, Tiphereth. Even then, time does not fully obtain until we reach Malkuth, the world of manifest appearances. The perception of cause and effect, although real enough on its own plane, is a trick of how we perceive things.

The argument between the advocates of a formless absolute and those that revere gods, divinities, is an exceedingly ancient one. The great Hindu sage Ramakrishna proposed a satisfying solution to that argument. The story goes that one day Ramakrishna encountered some ardent followers of Shiva, and they said to him, “Why are you worshipping this goddess? She is Maya, the great delusion. We are followers of Shiva, who is Formless and absolute, the only Reality.” Ramakrishna went away to think and meditate on this. When he returned, he found the Shivaites again and told them, “You are right! However, so am I! The goddess that I love is the Form of the Formless. Ultimately, the Form and Formless are perfectly equal and amount to an expression of the same Reality.”

The thread of the Ain Soph does not only exist ‘above Kether’, for it is the key to transformation at every conceivable level. How does Geburah, the 5th sephira, become Tiphereth, the 6th? How does the world of Yetzirah become the world of Assiah? It is through the thread of the Ain Soph that weaves throughout the worlds. In the numerical scheme of things, Malkuth is ‘below’ and Kether is ‘above’. And yet, Malkuth is Kether, but after another fashion. The Ain Soph is hidden in Malkuth—and so present at all times—as much as it is ‘above’ even Kether.

In the practice—whether it is a meditation on the Hermetic Tree, the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, or an operation to consecrate a talisman, we start at the ‘top’, the most absolute that we can conceive, then work towards manifestation. And that is the transformation or Great Work that is essential to magick and alchemy, the working upon the plane of matter. When this is reversed, so that each symbol is followed back to its source in the infinite, the Non-Dual reality may be realised. To use the Eastern terminology, which is more familiar to many than the symbolism of the Hermetic tradition, Jnanamudra leads naturally to Mahamudra. As described in “The Rites and Ceremonies of Hormaku”, Ritual Magick Volume II (Ordo Astri):

The adept embraces both heaven and hell, becoming at the last a flame—and then the fire itself. Enoch provides the primary example of magical invisibility since, after the translation of his Ka into spirit or Khu, he was never seen again on earth by mortals. When the adept knows that which he loves even as he is known and loved, a universe is crushed to nought (i.e. returned to Nuit). “That which remains” (Liber AL, II: 9) is not created from the substance of the earth—for it is not of created things. The adept—unless he falls back into time and space at the crossroads—is therefore invisible to all men, even while dwelling in the body of flesh.

The True Will in the tradition of Thelema is a wonderful conception, and can be truly liberating. It is inevitably confused, though, with the personal will that appears to drive choices and decisions that, in turn, seem to affect changes in the material life. If too much personal energy is applied to effecting change on its own plane, that energy becomes depleted and the Ka (vital body) becomes a vampirical force. Although vampires and ghouls are a glamorous concept, especially to those that have never experienced the psychic planes directly, the (relative) reality of such things is unpleasant, to put it mildly.

The Great Work of magick and alchemy is identical, and the work of transformation is effected downwards on the planes, “As above so below”. The world of Assiah is ‘negative’ to the ‘positive’ of the world of Yetzirah. Geburah is negative to Binah and Chesed, but positive to Tiphereth and Hod. To work upon Malkuth, the plane of material illusion, one does not begin with a wish or desire—though such a wish may have served as a lever to turn the magician towards the Great Work. With the Ain or non-conceptual reality there is no subject, no object and no will to do anything or to change anything. There are no things or objects with Ain, there is no-thing to desire or crave and no one to desire it. Yet it is from Ain that magick is worked and it is only by embracing Non-Being that the true Will is known. Magick and mysticism can easily be seen as two entirely different paths, one leading this way, the other leading that way. The magick of the true Will, however, works simultaneously from the Formless to Form, and from Form to the Formless. This mirroring or doubling of the worlds is described in the writings of Kenneth Grant as the “Aeon of Zain”, named after the 17th path of the Hermetic Tree to which the symbol of the sword is referred.

The downward striking action of the Flaming Sword or Lightning Flash—the word or utterance of Kether which is itself a mirror of the void of Ain Soph—automatically invokes a reflex, a current of return from Malkuth. This simultaneous, two-way relationship between the Formless void and its expression in matter and substance weaves the very fabric of anything we can perceive as existence. By travelling to and fro across the planes, a ‘substance’ is created that has an existence outside of the gates of matter and time. This is no different than the immortal stone or elixir of life that was described by medieval alchemists.

Referring once more to the writings of Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan was always insistent that the ‘tricks’ of the shamans, whether to travel over vast distances, to effect magical transmutations upon things, creatures or humans, or to play some humiliating practical joke upon an unwary acolyte, had deadly serious intent. And that intent was the ultimate liberation of the soul from all constraints of matter, time and death. This is no different in any way from the Great Work of the Hermetic tradition, or the goal of liberation of the Advaitans.

Notes, References and Links

1. The diagram of the Ain Soph Aur concentrating Kether depicts the Tree of Atziluth in the colours of the King Scale. The veils of Negative Existence are depicted as three triangles, reflecting the nine letters of Ain Soph Aur. Kether appears spontaneusly in the pupil, void or eye of the infinite as Malkuth of the Ain Soph Aur. The Malkuth of the Tree of Kether or Atziluth is here shown in the place usually alloted to Daath, the cosmic child of Wisdom and Understanding.

2. “Every number is infinite; there is no difference” appears in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 4. Plato and Pythagoras knew the ‘terrible secret’ of Ain, Advaita or the Typhonian Gnosis—see the book, Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft.

3. The thread of the Ain Soph is fully described in “The Orbicular Tree”, Ritual Magick–The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light, Revised 2016 Edition (Ordo Astri).

4. The life and story of Ramakrishna as told by his disciple “M” is translated and introduced by Swami Nikhilananda and published by the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre.

5. Carlos Castaneda and Mexican Sorcery: See Journey to Ixtlan, The Eagle’s Gift and other teachings of Don Juan.

6. The Supernal Triad of Kether, Chokmah and Binah on the Hermetic Tree need not be numbered 1, 2 and 3. Kether may be numbered 'Zero' and Chokmah and Binah as 'Two', expressing the Thelemic 0 = 2 Gnosis. See The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.

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© Oliver St. John 2013; revised and updated 2016

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Magick of Pisces

Pisces is traditionally ruled by the planet Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus and to the ancient Egyptians as Amoun. So if you ever wondered where the word “Amen” comes from, that is uttered at the end of Christian prayers—there is your answer. Jupiter, Zeus and Amoun were originally gods of the mountain and of the seas and the rains that come to replenish the earth with new life and growth. The Egyptian Amoun is a very mysterious god. He is self-created and his location, unlike the sky-gods Horus, Hathoor and Nuit, is below the horizon. One of his titles is “The Hidden God”.

Thoth Tarot Atu The Moon XVIII (Pisces)

Magick of Pisces: The Moon XVIII

The Hermetic Qabalah might throw some further light on the associations between Pisces, the sign of the fishes, and the mysterious operations of a Hidden God. On the Hermetic Tree of Life, Pisces is the 29th path that connects the material universe (Malkuth) with the animating power of Venus (Netzach), the morning and evening star. The magical power of the path of Pisces is “The Twilight of the Place”. At this time of year, as the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, the twilight is very noticeable especially with the lengthening of shadows near sunset, when Venus—the first and brightest star of the evening sky—appears in the western sky. The magical twilight is also the special light of a room prepared for ritual, with candles and the smoke of incense providing ideal conditions for the arising of phantasmal or spectral images. The Magical Mirror is the magical weapon or instrument attributed to Pisces.

As the 12th sign and 12th house in astrology, Pisces represents the deeper realms of the subconscious mind. Psychology gives three types of consciousness: waking consciousness or self-awareness, subconscious or dreaming consciousness, and the unconscious. It has been argued that there is no such thing as an unconscious, since if it is not conscious then it cannot be thought of as any kind of consciousness. I will turn to the Hermetic Qabalah for assistance. The letter for Pisces is qoph or “Q”, which represents the back of the head and the medulla oblongata—the lowest part of the brainstem, connecting the brain with the spinal cord. This is the most primal part of the brain, and in terms of consciousness it is where the earliest evolutionary memories are stored. If one could send consciousness backwards, from the frontal lobes of rational intelligence to the narrow passage of the medulla oblongata, one might be able to see all the way down to the base of the spine. There is evidence that once upon a time, homosapiens had a tail, as do most non-human creatures on our planet. Returning to the letter Q of Pisces, a queue is also a kind of tail. The long, sombre epic of mankind’s existence on the planet, is yet another kind of tale. A tale that has been told in countless ways by many cultures along the evolutionary way.

The Thoth Tarot trump for Pisces and the 29th path of the Tree of Life is The Moon XVIII. Here we have a path that is half in shadows and that must pass between two sentinels wearing the foreboding headdress of the Egyptian Anubis, a guardian of the underworld. According to Aleister Crowley, who designed the Tarot trump: “Such light as there may be is deadlier than darkness, and the silence is wounded by howling beasts.” At the top of the picture is the Sun, pushed through the darkness and cold of night towards the dawn by the Egyptian scarab beetle, Khephra. Khephra is, like Amoun, a self-created god. Like the butterfly, the beetle undergoes a series of remarkable transformations where at one point he seems to be completely inanimate, nothing more than a shell or stone. Miraculously, from this inertia comes forth the fully fledged scarab with wings on which to ride the breezes of dawn.

As we near the end of the cold months, the Sun’s entry into Pisces is a reminder of the darkest hour before the dawn. The springtime is not far away. On the other side of the globe, in the southern hemisphere, it is a reminder that the cooler air of autumn will soon drive out the burning heat of a long summer.

Pisces and The Flaming Sword

The new Sepher Sephiroth book, The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth was released in December 2016 and January 2017, in two volumes. This includes a detailed synopsis on each of the 32 paths, complete with a tour of the demonic or qliphotic aspects of the paths. Here is an extract from the entry for the 29th path of the Hermetic Tree, Pisces:

Path 29, Qoph

The 29th path of Qoph connects Netzach, the sphere of Venus, with Malkuth, the sphere of the visible universe, and is imaged forth by the Tarot key, The Moon XVIII. The title of the 29th path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so-called because it is concerned with the incarnation of all bodies according to the revolution of the Zodiac. The root of the word that is translated “Corporeal” (gosham) implies a violent rainstorm or shower—the “shower of the life of earth” that comes through the seed of the Unborn Spirit, or Holy Guardian Angel, in the ritual called The Bornless. The ‘seed’ is really alchemical and refers to the fluidic or formless fire from which all forms receive their essence.

To understand the “revolution of the Zodiac” and the part that it plays one needs to know that the Zodiac is the image of Spirit working through the Sun upon the four elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth. All bodies are composed of these elements; each creature has a unique astrosome, the symbol of which is the natal horoscope, varying according to the time and place of birth. The twelve signs of the Zodiac are cosmic archetypes, and that is why a person’s nature is not revealed simply by knowing their ‘sign’—for the sign alone symbolises a type, not an individual.

The descent of this path is the incarnation or embodiment of each creature, while the ascent of it implies knowledge of the Occult Intelligences—the knowledge that is hidden from the profane. The magical powers of the 29th path are of Bewitchments and Casting Illusions.
616 ShIMIRVN (Shimiron) Qliphoth of Pisces
“Malignant Women”; the 29th path connects Venus, the lowest sephira on the Force side of the Tree, with Malkuth, the dead-end of matter; the women of malicious intent are the phantasms of decaying (or thwarted) desire, rife with poisoning and corruption; as such, these ‘women’ are no more than blind forces, but they have a tremendous capacity to inflict harm on the unwary human; “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is an aphorism that can apply not only to the human but to the elementar that has been deprived of ‘blood’ or energy; the Intelligence of the path orders the neural and biological patterns that in turn influence the behaviour of species, whether they are supposed to be ‘sentient’ or otherwise; when the human ego identifies personally with the biological urge to procreate or self-replicate—that great force which is, in fact, an entirely impersonal machine or engine—all manner of psychological aberrations occur; the person seeking self-fulfilment in the production of offspring, and finding the result is nothing of the sort, may subvert or redirect the flow of life-force into other objects of desire; typical afflictions are ‘eating disorders’, so-called—for devouring and begetting are dual principles of the Great Mother at the cosmic level; the predatory behaviour of both men and women, especially when it forms part of a group mentality, is another, less specific; alcoholism is yet another trait, since it arises from a desire to be reabsorbed back into the stream of life from whence the organism was formed; yet it is the self-assertion of the ego—maintaining the delusion that it has a separate life and existence of its own—that is the root of all ailments of the soul.

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© Oliver St. John 2013, 2017

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Magick of Light

This article is taken from the book, Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light.
 
Ordo Astri Qabalah: The Flaming Sword
The Flaming Sword


The “Z” formula, or Magick of Light, is the basis for the consecration of talismans, invocation and evocation. It is also the basis of magical Initiation and was devised by the historical Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and continued in Aleister Crowley’s Argenteum Astrum. Since it is based on universal natural principles, it is also used in Ordo Astri, albeit in a revised and modernised form.(1)
     
The General Exordium declares the method by which the Hermetic Light is transmitted—for the 93 current or Hermetic Light is comparable to electricity, sometimes described as a fluid, Azoth, or an electromagnetic force. There follows our commentary on the General Exordium and the universal formula of magical Initiation:

1. The Speech in the Silence: the Words against the Son of Night.

Ceremonies begin with some form of banishing, to clear the universe (the ritual place of work) from all inimical forces. Traditionally the ritualist give a warning, Procul o procul, este profani!—“Away, away, all ye profane!”

2. The Voice of Thoth before the Universe in the presence of the eternal Gods.

Hermes is present in the ritual as soon as the priest utters a word: “By names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened”.

3. The Formulas of Knowledge.

There follows a sevenfold exposition on the technical means of invocation and evocation, all of which are the “Knowledge of Thoth”:

i) The Wisdom of Breath.

The root of the Word-vibration is Chokmah (Wisdom), the seat of the Will; the subtle light or virile force is circulated by the breath, called pranayama in the East; in rituals, the circulation of the breath in meditation is translated into the movement of the magician, the circumambulations, around the circle of the work. The ritual circle is an extension of the astrosome of the magician; in this field he or she moves, in the same way that Hadit is the giver and the animator of life. An atomic analogy would be that of the electron.

ii) The Radix of Vibration.

The root or base of vibration refers to the ritual sonic utterance, the vibratory method of sending forth the divine names by drawing down the thread of light from the Ain Soph Aur beyond Kether, into the Tiphereth (by inhalation of breath), and then forcibly outwards (by exhalation of breath) as an image. The secret is that the magician is replicating the primal act of creation. By the Hermetic axiom, “As above, so below”, the magician is God and verily God—created in the image of that God and imbued with the divine power of creation. The personal ego imagines that it is separate, that its actions are its own—yet the ego does not exist, save as an expression of the true Self or Holy Guardian Angel. A large part of Initiation is to fully realise this fact.

iii) The Shaking of the Invisible.

By the vibratory formula, that which is invisible, latent, comes to life and activity.

iv) The Rolling Asunder of the Darkness.

This refers to the Opening of the Veil, the rending of the fabric of space that makes creation possible. It also refers to the illumination of Initiation itself, for each step is a dispelling of the darkness of the previous state.

v) The Becoming Visible of Matter.

The eye of the beholder is one with that which is seen. This refers to the creative power of the imagination, which is the power behind all visible things.

vi) The Piercing of the Coils of the Stooping Dragon.

This refers to the magnetic force that surrounds the earth, for the power of manifestation does not belong to the separate ego. The ignorance of unknowing binds the uninitiated with this magnetic force, for the unawakened spirit perceives only the visible appearance of things and does not comprehend the Hermetic Light that is the secret operator behind all phenomena.

vii) The Breaking forth of the Light.

The Word-vibration has issued forth from the mouth of the Creator, dividing the light and the darkness, and bringing order and form to the universe. There is a further meaning to the piercing of the coils of the Stooping Dragon and the breaking forth of Light: the work of the magician is to create astral shells, Godforms that are located in various places in the magical Temple, the universe. This is accomplished by the formula previously declared, “By names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened”. These astral images are linked to the astrosome of the magician, and are linked to his or her Tiphereth. Lest we think this is all merely a psychological exercise, the creation of a magical theatre in the mind, we are reminded that the life-force animating all of creation is one and the same, and springs from the same source. That source does not rest with the human ego, which is in itself merely a puppet doll, a transitory shadow formed by a reflection of light. The source is the well-spring of the eternal, from which the circle of the Gods came forth before the Beginning of Time. Therefore, the living Gods, the Neters, are able to inhabit the shells that we have made for them, and are able to speak through those images created in the mind’s eye.
     
Now what of this “Z” formula, so-called? Why “Z” and not “X” or “Y”? The shape of the English letter forms the symbol of the Lightning Flash, the descending current that concentrates out of the Ain Soph into Kether, and then pours forth to fill the cups or vessels of the Hermetic Tree. The Hebrew letter zain, “a sword”, is the power of division that is the means of creation.
     
The letter zain (z) is the seventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the seventh path counted from aleph (a). The number 7 is that of Venus and Netzach, which encompasses the whole Tree of Life and is sometimes called the “Brazen Serpent”, the serpent of brass or copper that identifies Venus with the twenty-two scales of the serpent of wisdom—the shining paths of the Hermetic Tree. The sword and the serpent are the descending and ascending current or flow of force that is set in motion through the practice of breath control and silent concentration of mind. The sword and the serpent are two and one, or none. When the serpent has climbed to the top of the Tree, the sword of flame issues from its mouth and runs to earth as a charge of lightning.
    
The number 7 is also a number of Set; as the manifestor of the seven stars of the Thigh constellation that we call Ursa Major, Set is both 7 (Sept or Sepet) and 8, since he is the first and the eighth, the ogdoad. Any musician will have a deep intuition of the relevance of the seven-note musical scale that ends and begins with the octave, the eighth. Sound and colour, light, follow the same principles, and those mathematical and geometric principles have been learned by school children since Pythagoras first drew out the triangle, the square and the circle. The Hermetic Tree itself is based on the Pythagorean decad, the Tetractys, from which the three principles and four elements are drawn. From there, the entire basis of astrology, alchemy and magick comes forth, as laid down by Cornelius Agrippa and those before him.
     
The “Z” formula is applied equally to the consecration of talismans, to the invocation and evocation of occult forces and to the Initiation of the individual. The ritual for the consecration of a talisman—by which life and movement is brought to inert matter—is identical to the ritual of Initiation for any grade, sephira, number or path. The aspirant necessarily begins as blindfolded and bound with cords of ignorance, as surely as Malkuth is bound by the coils of the Great Dragon, Leviathan, and separated from the rest of the Tree of Life. As in the words of the Golden Dawn ceremony of Initiation of the Neophyte:

Inheritor of a dying world, arise and enter the darkness!
—The Mother of Darkness hath blinded him with her hair.
The Father of Darkness hath hidden him under His wings.
—His limbs are still weary from the wars that were in heaven.
Unpurified and unconsecrated, thou cannot enter the hall of the Initiates!

In this state of darkness and unknowing, the person must be purified by lustral water and consecrated by the living fire before any Great Work can begin. Upon reception into the circle, the candidate is made to swear an oath. The oath does not limit the person’s freedom; on the contrary, by binding the chaos and the night within, there is a chance of the only real freedom, the freedom of knowing and doing the True Will on earth. All ‘choices’ and ‘decisions’ made by the personal ego are a joke, the spasmodic twitching of a golem or automaton, as it responds to the tides and motions of fate.
     
Having declared the oath, under the sword of Horus in the guise of an executioner, the sword is lifted and the Neophyte, still bound and hoodwinked, begins the movement around the Temple, stopping at various stations along the way. By analogy, this person has learned to shut up about the mysteries, has stopped talking and arguing with the fools in the marketplace, and has sat down to meditate and to circulate the Hermetic light upon the breath.

Unseen by the Neophyte, the lamp of Anubis goes before. The fear and darkness of the Neophyte is embodied by Horus, Guardian of the West, whose throne is the station of the path of the Shades. Isis, or Thoum-Aest, speaks kind words on behalf of the soul of the Neophyte. Her throne is in the East, station of the Light arising in Darkness. Unseen by the Neophyte as they travel around the circle, a reflection of the Tree of Life, at first a dim light, begins to shine about them—a light shining in the darkness. When each part of the chamber has been visited in turn, and a glimpse of knowledge obtained from the Gods that inhabit the stations, the Neophyte is taken to the cubical altar at the centre of the universe, the blindfold removed. Three Gods raise wand, sword, and sceptre, to form a triangle of light above the head of the new Initiate. The light has risen in darkness. The Neophyte is called to Life and Light.
 
Finally, the Neophyte is taken between the two pillars of Solomon; the bindings are removed, and they are informed of their new life in the Temple of the Gods. The removal of the binding from the hands means the person is now free to act, to move in the way of their True Will.

Notes

1. The book for the Probationer, which introduces them to the Magick of Light, is The Enterer of the Threshold

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© Oliver St. John 2013, 2016