Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Invoking the Personal Pantheon

Every summer I take it upon myself to re-read as much of Aleister Crowley's Book of Thoth as possible. At this point I mainly skim through and try to rediscover interesting, subtle details. Yesterday I found a brief paragraph on pg. 44 that particularly inspired me to write something new:

The Tarot is, thus, intimately bound up with the purely magical Arts of Invocation and Evocation. By Invocation is meant the aspiration to the highest, the purest form of the part of oneself that one wishes to put into action. 

This immediately reminded me of the classic Golden Dawn invocation for a tarot divination, "I invoke thee, IAO, that thou wilt send HRU, the great angel... etc." Though I do not know much about magick in actual practice (I know a fair amount theoretically, but I do not often put it into action myself), I knew that it was traditionally understood that "invoking IAO" meant that the diviner was trying to contact the purest, highest aspect of themselves in order to use that Source's Power to summon the angel of the tarot, HRU (in my opinion, the Holy Guardian Angel unique to each individual). However, I had not considered that one could conceivably invoke other aspects of oneself based on circumstantial need. Of course, one should always aspire to that highest, most balanced part of oneself, but could we not also hope to use that Force to invoke and inspire other parts of ourselves?

To do this, however, one must have an understanding of their psychological components in the first place so as to better isolate them and manipulate them. As some of you may recognize, there are obvious parallels between this practice and metaphysical alchemy, which is entirely based on the processes of solve et coagula, dissolution and coagulation. In this case, however, there is a distinctly magickal mindset, in that the user is free to tap into their unique strengths and abilities at will. This, then, becomes an exciting process of self-discovery, self-mastery, and self-liberation.

I believe the best way to go about this process of self-understanding is through meditation on one's astrological natal chart, supplemented by consistent work with the tarot, using it to aid oneself in evaluating their True Will and how their course of action has resulted in either good or less than desirable results. After all, this is the basis of discovering one's personal science - evaluation of action and its result. "Let success be your proof," as the Book of the Law counsels. If your action is True and Right it will result in goodness; if it has been corrupted by some illusion and your aim has been poor it will result in misfortune or a lukewarm outcome. Using the tarot to analyze the course of one's action can therefore be enlightening in this way. However, it is, for the present purposes, more important to focus on the natal chart so that one can come to create a kind of "Personal Pantheon" of mythological personas that represent and govern the many parts of one's personality.

To demonstrate how this practice has worked for me, I will be using my own natal chart as an example, shown here:

As you can see, I am predominantly a Scorpio with an Aquarius ascendant, and a Leo moon. I resonate particularly strongly with these three aspects of my personality, perhaps because they're all fixed. Essentially, all I have done is focus on the ancient planetary powers (therefore excluding Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), and meditate on how these energies manifest themselves in my life or my personality. Doing this has allowed me to understand them better, and to come up with certain narratives that correspond to them. At this point in my life, I have managed to create magical mental images for a few of them, usually based on extant mythology; some other planets remain semi-aloof to me, such as my Jupiter in Cancer. It certainly is a process, but one that I have always found interesting and rewarding.

I have always connected powerfully to my sun, moon, venus, mars, saturn, and mercury signs. My sun in Scorpio, and so much of my personal mythos has to do with dark mystery, psychological delving, eroticism, and struggles for power. In fact, this is the cornerstone of my pantheon. It's so pervasive that it's difficult for me to even pinpoint this quality in a specific personality. On the other hand, my Venus, Moon, and Mars have been easy for me to associate with myths, and there is tremendous overlap between the three. My Venus being in Sagittarius causes me to resonate with Artemis, the Virgin Huntress, however, being filtered through the lens of Scorpio, she takes on a distinctly sexual and dark characteristic that is alluring and deeply spiritual. My Venus can also be described well by the goddess I have chosen for my Moon sign - Hathor. Being a musician who believes music is only good if it creates powerful emotional responses in people (performers and audiences equally), Hathor is a perfect goddess to reflect my emotional Leonine side. Not only is she a lioness, but she is the patron goddess of music, dance, and ecstasy. I have also always, since childhood, had a strong connection to the myth of Hathor going on a rampage out of bloodlust until Ra finally subdues her by tricking her to drink wine from the Nile, causing it to look like blood. Lastly, I have strong connections to the goddess Cybele, whom I associate more with my Mars, but also with my Moon. Cybele, of course, was the Phrygian Great Mother Goddess, who drove Attis insane with her beauty, causing him to castrate himself before her. Perhaps due to both my Scorpio and my Saturn in Capricorn (Mars being the ruler of both Capricorn and Scorpio), my interpretation of Cybele as a goddess of vengeance sometimes turns icy, and she adopts a kind of Ice Queen persona - strange, since Cybele is a goddess associated with wild dancing, cross-dressing, and loud instruments.

Knowing all this about myself, I can then invoke these goddesses as needed to help myself in certain situations. As I am constantly performing for my jobs, it is sometimes helpful for me to invoke Hathor before an important performance or audition. It gives me confidence, and helps me trust that I am meant to perform, that I am actually naturally designed for it, that it is my birthright to succeed at it. I could even invoke Cybele or Artemis as a kind of attraction charm if there is a person I'm hoping to appeal to. If they scorn me, it would be Cybele I would turn to in order to find some sense of closure, or to ask simply that justice be served in some way (I am an individual mildly obsessed with justice and fairness). If there is a time when I need to be serious and practical, I could invoke my Saturn in Capricorn for support. Or if I need a boost in morale I might turn to my Jupiter in Cancer. The goal is to recognize how each aspect of the personality is usable and effective, and that it is simply a matter of recognizing the presence of these aspects in the first place. It helps one to understand what they are naturally capable of and what they are not, and as a result it becomes easier to forgive one's own weakness, and to understand the reason behind one's victories.

This is not a new idea, I realize. I have borrowed heavily from other sources and practices, but I hope that putting it in an astrological context can put you on a clearer path. I also hope that my personal examples made sense and were at least worth contemplating. Maybe you already have connections to certain gods and goddesses and it's just a matter of finding them already extant in your natal chart? I encourage you to leave a comment and share with me your experience with this kind of work!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Philosophy of the Opening of the Key

I have a love-hate relationship with the Opening of the Key - I'll admit it. Sometimes I find myself loving it and hating it for the exact same reason, such as its complexity. On one had that level of intricacy really intrigues me, and on the other it frustrates and confuses me. Using it in professional readings can be tricky as well; there are many times I've done it for clients and it has mentally led me in a completely incorrect direction, other times it's uncannily accurate. Is the inconsistency representative of inherent flaws in the spread and its technique? or is it simply inconsistency on my part? For something I have been studying and practicing for about four years now I never feel as if it's something I have a firm enough grasp on in order to master using it for other people. Oddly enough I can only seem to use it for myself, but these readings are often so brutally honest, accurate, and tremendously helpful that I still feel urged to try and use it for the benefit of others, even though this often undermines my level of confidence in myself as a tarot reader.

Perhaps my biggest complaint with this spread is its ironic  vagueness. For a spread that will tell you minute details such as personal motives, emotions, drives, and subtle choices and their consequences, there is a terrifying paucity of information about it. This is not to say that no one in the modern era has tried to write about it. In fact, there are several resources available currently in the form of blogs, websites, and even a small number of books that either discuss the OOTK or try to teach its techniques of card counting and pairing. But despite these efforts, no one (to my knowledge) has ever been able to present a logical argument for the reason behind the OOTK. Yes, some may offer endless advice on elemental dignities, but not one writer has yet made an attempt to explain what the OOTK actually is and why it was designed the way it was designed, and it is my humble opinion that one cannot really understand how to use a tool until one first understands why the tool is the way it is. For instance, individuals with a high working knowledge of anatomy and physical development have a far greater chance of understanding which exercises to use in order to train their body in the direction they desire. Would you want to purchase a car made by someone who doesn't know how the parts in the car actually work, or why they're needed? Probably not.

And so we are left still puzzling over the overwhelming silence left by the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley in regards to this spread. Both parties left us the bare minimum of information - the steps and actual praxis - but neither really explained why the OOTK was so important or special. And clearly it is a very special device to them, otherwise they would have written much more openly about it. As with any mystery cult, the rituals considered most holy and most powerful are always kept most secret, so as to protect them from individuals who do not know better. Clearly this includes myself, as I have already mentioned my own difficulties and mishaps with the spread, but this has not stopped me from wanting to figure the mystery out, nor has it stopped me from trying to explain it all to others. I believe I have made some decent headway in this area, as I have never seen the explanations I have received written elsewhere.

In his famous work on the Golden Dawn's teachings and rituals, The Golden Dawn, Israel Regardie writes, "The more rigidly correct and in harmony with the scheme of the Universe is any form of Divination, so much the more is it likely to yield a correct and reliable answer to the enquirer. For then and then only is there a firm link, and bond of union, established between it and the Occult forces of Nature." Unfortunately this statement by one of history's most eloquent, experienced, and erudite occult scholars is overlooked today. How many times have you seen tarot "resources" advocate the creation of personal spreads based on random pictures or meaningless symbols? From a pure occult standpoint all this represents the unfortunate result of tarot's dissemination to people with neither the desire nor willpower to use it properly. (At least in my opinion. I accept the right of all individuals to use the tarot as Knowledge is not to be saved for the few but rather is available to all, but I do strongly - albeit sometimes ferociously - advocate the use of a more traditional, scientific, and historical method that is more in tune with the tarot's contemporary origins.) The Golden Dawn would not have looked to common culture for its symbols to base the structure of the OOTK on, but rather would have looked entirely to the Kabbalah, the cornerstone of all their beliefs and practices and the spiritual "file cabinet" for all other relevant symbols or myths across cultures.

Now, there are of course five operations in the Opening of the Key, the first being governed by the four elements, the princesses, and the aces; the second by the 12 Astrological Houses and the court cards; the third by the 12 Signs of the Zodiac and the zodiacal trumps; the fourth by the 36 Decanates and the the pips; and the fifth by the 10 Sephiroth and the planetary trumps. But what do these represent on an allegorical level? Certainly they are simply practical as they reflect the structure of the tarot itself, and astrology is the only other method of divination directly compatible with the tarot. But symbolically they are all associated with the Feminine, the original Nothingness from which all things derive. The four elements are associated with the material universe and the sephira of Malkuth, the Virginal Bride who is the diminutive reflection of the Greater Feminine. The belt of the zodiac, even though attributed to Chokhmah on the Tree of Life, is often associated with the body of Nuit, the Feminine Nothing, as well. Allusions to this are made in both Waite's and Crowley's depiction of III The Empress, the former in her crown of twelve stars, the latter in her girdle as Crowley explains via The Book of Thoth. And lastly, the ten sephiroth represent the full expansion, expression, and development of the original Ain principle, or Nuit. Therefore structurally we have as a basis the Great Feminine, Nuit, the Nothingness from which all things come and in which all things move and have their being.

Perhaps the reader will at this point find it intriguing to remember the opening pages of Crowley's Book of Thoth in which he suggests an equivalence between the tarot's nature and that of the universe as an expression of expanded Nothingness. The OOTK therefore not only structurally reflects the Universe, but also by association the tarot itself. The conclusion is that the OOTK is already at this level of analysis a consummate system of divination by the standards of Israel Regardie and vicariously the Golden Dawn itself, as it is based not on any singular symbol but on the entire body and range of possible symbols - Nuit - and is therefore in alignment with both the Universe and the tarot itself.

Next we must explain why there are five operations and not four or six. We might suggest four as a superior choice because of the four elements, or six because of the balance and harmony of Tiphareth, the sixth sephira. But the Golden Dawn (GD) choice five instead, and the obvious reason for this is that there are in fact five elements in the Hermetic system, not four. The GD includes spirit in the category of elements and therefore uses the pentagram as a symbol to represent the four elements governed by the fifth element of spirit. Spirit, additionally, is associated with Kether, the monad or Point, and also with the magical virtue "to go." The number five therefore is associated not only with the Masculine counterpart to Nuit, but is also associated with motion and time. Thus in conjunction with the structure of the operations themselves we have a perfect union of Ain (Nuit) and Kether (Hadit by the Thelemic system). The OOTK is not arbitrarily stuck together but is rather a symbolic representation of events, what we would consider life itself, the playing out of events in the body of God through a span of time. For without motion nothing could really live or exist in reality.

Card Counting, Pairing, and Elemental Dignities
It is worthwhile to consider the fact that tarot spreads created in the 18th and 19th centuries were not always positional. Like the OOTK they were usually based on strings of cards. Paul Huson's book Mystical Origins of the Tarot provides us with several examples coming from Etteila's personal practice and that of his contemporary Julia Orsini (pg. 271-276). In these methods cards are spread out in "strings" and are read essentially chronologically in succession. Both of these readers and interpreters being highly influential we can assume that occultists and tarot academics of the 19th century looked to them for divinatory technique, and that spreads in this period were similar in style. It seems to me at least that positional spreads were not really in vogue at all until the publication of Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot in 1910.

While the OOTK clearly borrows this method it stands out from the pack because of the GD's use of card counting, pairing, and elemental dignities which are not found in any other prior or contemporary methodology to my knowledge. In fact these techniques remain fairly esoteric today as the majority of readers ignore them entirely and prefer to use positional spreads that make simple statements such as "X card = X meaning." They do not take into account any interaction of forces, choosing instead to see cards as isolated islands of influence that when thought of as an archipelago, if you will, makes up a situational narrative. The reader through the use of their intuitive compass must impose some sort of fluidity upon this rigid structure; the fluidity is not inherent. And what is life but the interaction and interplay of various forces and influences within a system through a span of time? The structure of the OOTK provides us with the latter half of this equation and card counting and pairing within each operation provide us with the former.

Has it ever struck you how polar card counting and pairing are? I know for me it dawned on me one day that card counting was so clearly "chaotic" and counting was quite "orderly." It seems like a fairly obvious observation but it is one that eluded me for several years, and until now I have never been able to explain why this is necessary. It wasn't until I made the other obvious realization that, in counting from the significator, we are tracking that person's journey, and by association I couldn't help but think about "the Fool's Journey." That all too omnipresent description of the tarot trumps that has vaguely irked me for years was finally good for something other than an often trite, New Agey interpretation of the Greater Arcana. For by associating card counting with 0 The Fool it became only logical to associate card pairing with VIII Adjustment (Justice), the feminine counterpart to the Fool. As a duo, the Fool, the letter Aleph, and Adjustment, the letter Lamed, create the Hebrew word AL. They are a perfect expression of the Thelemic formula 0=2, and represent the two basic functions of the spirit, whose virtue is, again, "to go." The Fool represents unbridled energy outpoured, while Adjustment represents its mitigation and restriction as governed by form, which is also inherently dualistic. Perhaps by extension we can also see solve et coagula, the only two processes available to the universe, as represented by these somewhat. (Of course this is more accurately reflected in VI The Lovers and XIV Art respectively, but these in turn can be seen as masculine and feminine, and therefore can be interpreted as inverts of 0 and VIII on a lower arc.)

I found this to be quite an interesting discovery as I then arrived at the next logical conclusion: put together, card counting and pairing constitute these two basic functions of the spirit. It's as if each operation is analyzing the actual course of action taken by the spirit. What, then, represents the spirit itself though? Or rather its origin? The answer is the significator, which represents a point-of-view, that is to say, Kether. The significator acts as an anchored POV throughout the OOTK. In fact, it's the only aspect of the reading that remains entirely static and "eternal," or "immutable." In this light, we can easily remember the other associations of chaos and order on the Tree of Life and realize that card counting is associated with Chokhmah and card pairing with Binah, Father Chaos and the Mother of Form. Put together we recognize the Supernal Triangle, which is all an expression of the same monadic source. Therefore, card counting and card pairing are coequal and should not be read one following the other chronologically as in Regardie's example in The Golden Dawn, but rather simultaneously as Crowley suggests. Each operation is a representation of how a particular POV (an individual, the querent) manifests itself through space and time, as Kether is ineffable and only understandable through its expression in Chokhmah and Binah.

There are, in fact, countless POVs in the OOTK - 78 in fact. Crowley writes elegantly about the way each card has a personality, a unique character and method of functioning, and so we must take that uniqueness into account.

Now, the final piece of the puzzle lies in elemental dignities. These constitute the amount of effect a card counted to has in the reading. This makes perfect sense because the elements represent the law and organization of the material universe, and determine the way in which forces interact with each other. Magic, after all, is the ability of individuals to use willpower to shape the elements as they see necessary, necessity of course being determined by the nature of one's True Will. Ability to shape the elements allows one's will to manifest itself more prominently. It's why even though we may want something very badly and channel all our willpower into making it a reality it may not ever materialize. Elemental dignities are therefore necessary if one is going to evaluate the efficacy of any POV in the OOTK, which is essentially what we are doing when we count cards. We are tracking which POVs actually manifest themselves in a random, seemingly whimsical manner and in what degree. Card pairing, on the other hand, represents their interactions in a more orderly way. Both methods describe the same narrative and seek to describe the actions of Kether, the significator. This would explain why Crowley chose to pair from the signficator and not from the ends as the GD does. To pair from the ends represents an alternate philosophy, one that is more fatalistic and sees the individual caught up in a whirl of forces outside of their control, whereas pairing from the significator demonstrates a belief that the individual is the source and cause of all that occurs to them, and therefore has power over them.

Though I feel like this is a good start, it is a start only. There is much more to be unpacked here. I am also sure that many will criticize me for using Thelemic logic for explaining a Golden Dawn system, which I can understand. However, I don't believe the OOTK makes much sense without the Thelemic system, which, for the most part, rounds out much of the Kabbalistic philosophy already espoused by that group. I don't think that the two need to remain segregated but rather can inform and aid each other as is necessary. Ultimately there is no proof to back up the conclusions presented in this piece, and they can only ever represent opinions, but it is my hope that the reader will at least see the logic behind them and deign to entertain their possible validity. Everything I have concluded about this has come to me through the aid of the Spirit, and so I take no credit for it. I hope that I have presented it in a way that is in accordance with its Will, and that my work will benefit at least a few.

Monday, February 11, 2013

An Analysis of VI The Lovers and XIV Art: Part 1

In his Book of Thoth, Crowley insists upon the difficulty of these two trumps, as well as the necessity to evaluate them as an inseparable pair. Opposites must always be understood together and not separately, and this applies particularly strongly for these two cards because they espouse the philosophical doctrines of solve et coagula, the process by which the Universe divides itself into opposites and reunites itself into something like the original substance but entirely different. These two cards have always fascinated and confused me, as they are the most symbolically dense of all Crowley's trump cards, but now after re-reading those passages in the BoT, I feel I have a better grasp on them. In this post I will be doing a close reading of those very passages, and hopefully will demystify some of Crowley's esotericism.

VI. The Lovers [Or: The Brothers]

This card and its twin, XIV, Art, are the most obscure and difficult of the Atu. Each of these symbols is in itself double, so that the meanings form a divergent series, and the integration of the Card can only be regained by repeated marriages, identifications, and some form of Hermaphroditism.

Yet the attribution is the essence of simplicity. Atu VI refers to Gemini, ruled by Mercury. It means The Twins. The Hebrew letter corresponding is Zain, which means a Sword, and the framework of the card is therefore the Arch of Swords, beneath which the Royal Marriage takes place.

The Sword is primarily an engine of division. In the intellectual world-which is the world of the Sword suit-it represents analysis. This card and Atu XIV together compose the comprehensive alchemical maxim: Solve et coagula.

This is something that is deeply important to understanding The Lovers - analysis. If you think about it, any time you really analyze an idea or an object you must break it down into its components to really understand its identity. For example, take the cat on my bed as I write this. I know that it is a cat and not something else because it has all the qualities of a cat - fur, pointed ears, whiskers, a certain way of sleeping, great ability to balance, etc. But none of these individually does a cat make. If I did not know all these separate characteristics I would not be able to define the life form as a cat; it would simply exist. 

This card is consequently one of the most fundamental cards in the Tarot. It is the first card in which more than one figure appears. [The Ape of Thoth in Atu I is only a shadow.] In its original form, it was the story of Creation.

The conclusion is, therefore, that in order for there to be Creation, life in its various forms and functions, there must be division of the original "prime matter," the undefinable substance of Life from which all other life has originated. This is nothing other than Kether, the undefinable Source of All that, in its union with All, cannot distinguish itself from anything else. In order to actually be something it must know itself through analysis, meaning that it must undergo division in order to understand itself. (Note that the path of Zain connects Binah, Understanding and the mother of form, to Tiphareth, Beauty.)

Here is appended, for its historical interest, the description of this card in its primitive form from Liber 418.
"There is an Assyrian legend of a woman with a fish, and also there is a legend of Eve and the Serpent, for Cain was the child of Eve and the Serpent, and not of Eve and Adam; and therefore when he had slain his brother, who was the first murderer, having sacrificed living things to his demon, had Cain the mark upon his brow, which is the mark of the Beast spoken of in the Apocalypse, and is the sign of Initiation.

Frankly, I don't know where Crowley finds the historicity in his claim that The Lovers "originally" depicted this scene, since there is no early tarot deck still extant that displays this imagery anywhere.  Clearly this is more based on vision than fact, but this is beside the point. What is important is that Cain is the child of Eve and the Serpent, the "Star and the Snake." Eve is equivalent to Aima, the bright and fertile Mother aspect of Binah, whereas Lilith, Adam's supposedly evil first wife, is Binah's Ama function, the dark and sterile Mother. (Binah is of course the gateway of duality, woman being philosophically dualistic and man being philosophically singular. In the latter there is only Life, in the former there is Life and Death. This is important to understand for later sections in this passage.) The Serpent, therefore, must be Chokhmah, the paternal consort of Binah and the idea of Wisdom, and it is this fact that allows us to say with certainty that Cain represents Tiphareth, the son. The other son, Abel, is actually the real wicked person, having destroyed indiscriminately in blind ignorance of the Truth - the God that transcends the material universe, that is, Kether. Abel is therefore the daughter of Tetragrammaton, the missing piece of the four-fold formula and the individual candidate for initiation.

"The shedding of blood is necessary, for God did not hear the children of Eve until blood was shed. And that is external religion; but Cain spake not with God, nor had the mark of initiation upon his brow, so that he was shunned of all men, until he had shed blood. And this blood was the blood of his brother. This is a mystery of the sixth key of the Tarot, which ought not to be called The Lovers, but The Brothers.

God is inaccessible until the lower self is slain by the higher. Cain is therefore the Redeemer, who opens up the channel of communication with God by liberating the lower self from its misperceptions. We must remember, after all, that the original Golden Dawn depiction of this card showed Perseus rescuing Andromeda from her own mortality and ignorance. It is also important to remember that all spiritually inspired people in the Bible are "shunned of all men." Being an outcast is a good thing spiritually. Look at Jesus or any of the prophets of the Old Testament and you will find that they were all despised by the masses. To be enlightened is to be an enemy of the people. 

"In the middle of the card stands Cain; in his right hand is the Hammer of Thor with which he hath slain his brother, and it is all wet with his blood. And his left hand he holdeth open as a sign of innocence. On his right hand is his mother Eve, around whom the serpent is entwined with his hood spread behind her head; and on his left hand is a figure somewhat like the Hindoo Kali, but much more seductive. Yet I know it to be Lilith. And above him is the Great Sigil of the Arrow, downward, but it is struck through the heart of the child. This child also is Abel. And the meaning of this part of the card is obscure, but that is the correct drawing of the Tarot card; and that is the correct magical fable from which the Hebrew scribes, who were not complete Initiates, stole their legend of the Fall and the subsequent events."

It is often suggested that Ra-Hoor-Khuit, the Lord of the Aeon as stated in Liber AL, is a representation of the Holy Guardian Angel, or the Higher Self that guides each of us toward the pursuit of higher things. The current Aeon is centered on the fusion of the mysteries of Birth, Death, and Resurrection - the consolidation of the INRI - IAO formula of the past. It is about LIFE as an entire process, a continual evolution of the individual from its Beginning to its End as guided by its personal deity, the HGA. Knowing that Cain is Tiphareth in this story, and that Knowledge and Conversation of the HGA is the primary mystical experience that occurs in Tiphareth, and lastly that Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the HGA, we can easily draw the conclusion that Cain is Ra-Hoor-Khuit. This is confirmed by the 72nd line of Chapter III in Liber AL that says, "I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia - but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed an Universe; & nought remains." [My emphasis.] This is the exact image that Crowley has used to describe Cain's murder of Abel. And it is interesting that Abel has not only been smashed to bits by Cain's club (read essentially as "phallus," i.e. will, virility, power, etc.), but he has been shot through the heart by an Arrow, the primary symbol of the Will, or more precisely, Love under Will. This symbolism is developed further on.

It is very significant that almost every sentence in this passage seems to reverse the meaning of the previous one. This is because reaction is always equal and opposite to action. This equation is, or should be, simultaneous in the intellectual world, where there is no great time lag; the formulation of any idea creates its contradictory at almost the same moment. The contradictory of any proposition is implicit in itself. This is necessary to preserve the equilibrium of the Universe. The theory has been explained in the essay on Atu I, the Juggler, but must now be again emphasized in order to interpret this card.

There is nothing true save that it is counterbalanced by its opposite. I cannot say that black is really black without knowing and understanding its opposite, white. Likewise, I cannot say that it is a wet and rainy day without knowing and understanding what a sunny and clear day is like. Both experiences are also coequal, being simply opposing forces of a spectrum of color or quality of day. Not only, therefore, is there no such thing as Universal Truth (as was assumed by the philosophers of the Aeon of Osiris), but any truth is represented by the balance between opposites. The ultimate truth of something is therefore utterly unattainable by logic and reason. We might say that something truthfully is not black or white, but simply colored, as color is an undifferentiated idea. But even "color" contains its own opposite. To know that something is colored, one must know what lack of color is. Both these opposites rotate back and forth in harmony, and it is their duality that is wielded by the Juggler in Atu I in order to create something tangible and experienceable. 

The key is that the Card represents the Creation of the World. The Hierarchs held this secret as of transcendant importance. Consequently, the Initiates who issued the Tarot, for use during the Aeon of Osiris, superseded the original card above described in "The Vision and the Voice". They were concerned to create a new Universe of their own; they were the fathers of Science. Their methods of working, grouped under the generic term Alchemy, have never been made public. The interesting point is that all developments of modern science in the last fifty years have given intelligent and instructed people the opportunity of reflecting that the whole trend of science has been to return to alchemical aims and (mutatis mutandis)methods. The secrecy observed by the alchemists was made necessary by the power of persecuting Churches. Bitterly as bigots fought among themselves, they were all equally concerned to destroy the infant Science, which, as they instinctively recognized, would put an end to the ignorance and faith on which their power and wealth depended.

The subject of this card is Analysis, followed by Synthesis. The first question asked by science is: "Of what are things composed? "This having been answered, the next question is: "How shall we recombine them to our greater advantage?" This resumes the whole policy of the Tarot.

And therefore it resumes the whole policy of the universe, as the Tarot is a reflection of the universe. Again we see the idea of analysis being the force that breaks something into its various components.

The hooded figure which occupies the centre of the Card is another form of The Hermit, who is further explained in Atu IX. He is himself a form of the god Mercury, described in Atu I; he is closely shrouded, as if to signify that the ultimate reason of things lies in a realm beyond manifestation and intellect. (As elsewhere explained, only two operations are ultimately possible---analysis and synthesis). He is standing in the Sign of the Enterer, as if projecting the mysterious forces of creation. About his arms is a scroll, indicative of the Word which is alike his essence and his message. But the Sign of the Enterer is also the Sign of Benediction and of Consecration; thus his action in this card is the Celebration of the Hermetic Marriage. Behind him are the figures of Eve, Lilith and Cupid. This symbolism has been incorporated in order to preserve in some measure the original form of the card, and to show its derivation, its heirship, its continuity with the past. On the quiver of Cupid is inscribed the word Thelema, which is the Word of the Law. (See Liber AL, chap. I, verse 39.) His shafts are quanta of Will. It is thus shown that this fundamental formula of magical working, analysis and synthesis, persists through the Aeons.

The Hermit is a representation of Kether, and therefore, after a fashion, Mercury. It is Mercury not in an obvious way as in Hod, but in a subtle and entirely concealed way. We have already talked a bit about Lilith and Eve, noting that they are essentially two sides of the same Goddess, but we have not discussed Cupid. I will comment on him further down, but for now I will simply say that the Hermit conjoined with Eve-Lilith and Cupid represent the Supernal Triangle of the Sephiroth. The Lovers is therefore a representation of the original Prime Matter choosing to separate itself in order to know itself through creating itself. (Confusing, I realize, but accurate.) 

One may now consider the Hermetic Marriage itself.
This part of the Card has been simplified from "the Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreutz", a masterpiece too lengthy and diffuse to quote usefully in this place. But the essence of the analysis is the continuous see-saw of contradictory ideas. It is a glyph of duality. The Royal persons concerned are the Black or Moorish King with a golden crown, and the White Queen with a silver crown. He is accompanied by the Red Lion, and she by the White Eagle. These are symbols of the male and female principles in Nature; they are therefore equally, in various stages of manifestation, Sun and Moon, Fire and Water, Air and Earth. In chemistry they appear as acid and alkali, or (more deeply) metals and non-metals, taking those words in their widest philosophical sense to include hydrogen on the one hand and oxygen on the other. In this aspect, the hooded figure represents the Protean element of carbon, the seed of all organic life.

The King in the Lovers is the basic idea of maleness in the manifest universe and the Queen is the idea of femaleness (not necessarily femininity, but rather the idea of what makes something womanly). The Creation of something real (and not something lying in "a realm beyond manifestation and intellect") requires division into opposites. With the Sign of the Enterer, the Hermit, Kether, projects itself (and really the entire Supernal Triangle that is coeternal with it) into reality as both masculine and feminine so that it can hope to understand its true nature and purpose. For through this action alone can we hope to discover the Truth of a Being. We cannot understand how it functions in the Universe without understanding its form, and vice versa, though we might still say that form is subject to function, i.e. that the concept of femininity is coequal to but also subject to the concept of masculinity. This is not an argument in favor of sexism, but rather an evaluation of how the universe simply is. Function dictates form. If I have a set of screwdrivers, all different sizes, it is obvious that the purpose of each one is different. One screwdriver is intended for large screws, another for small. The former is therefore naturally larger than the latter. On a deeper level, all the screwdrivers have the same ultimate function - to deal with screws, but their individual form renders them entirely unique. This is how many people may share a similarity of purpose but they are still not a singular Force or Identity. A small screwdriver might be useable to deal with a large screw but that was not its original purpose, and so it will not do it easily or well. The same is applicable to us as individuals, except we are also fortified by the uniqueness of our personal experiences. Even if hypothetically my True Will is similar to someone else's we will never carry it out in quite the same fashion, or by the same methods. The person who does it more successfully is he or she who knows exactly what kind of path they should be taking based on their own characteristics. It is the difference between trying to deal with all different types of screws with one screwdriver, and focusing on only one type of screw because that is simply what is required of the tool being used. Though the metaphor may not be elevated, let this be understood by any who wish to understand how True Will is connected to Creation. Abel is he who knew not what his purpose was, and so he slaughtered innocents in his foolish belief that that was what was indeed required of him. Cain is he who knows better, and puts a stop to this wantonness through destruction of the lower habits and misperceptions. 

The symbolism of male and female is carried on still further by the weapons of the King and Queen; he bears the Sacred Lance, and she the Holy Grail; their other hands are joined, as consenting to the Marriage. Their weapons are supported by twin children, whose positions are counterchanged; for the white child not only holds the Cup, but carries roses, while the black child, holding his father's Lance, carries also the club, an equivalent symbol. At the bottom of the whole is the result of the Marriage in primitive and pantomorphic form; it is the winged Orphic egg. This egg represents the essence of all that life which comes under this formula of male and female. It carries on the symbolism of the Serpents with which the King's robe is embroidered, and of the Bees which adorn the mantle of the Queen. The egg is grey, mingling white and black; thus it signifies the co-operation of the three Supernals of the Tree of Life. The colour of the Serpent is purple, Mercury in the scale of the Queen. It is the influence of that God manifested in Nature, whereas the wings are tinged with crimson, the colour (in the King scale) of Binah the great Mother. In this symbol is therefore a complete glyph of the equilibrium necessary to begin the Great Work. But, as to the final mystery, that is left unsolved. Perfect is the plan to produce life, but the nature of this life is concealed. It is capable of taking any possible form; but what form? That is dependent upon the influences attendant on gestation.

It is my belief that the Orphic Egg is symbolic of both Kether and Malkuth, both of these sephiroth being similar to each other but different. If anything, it is clear that the Egg is an amalgamation of all the symbolism presented hereto, and this aligns it with the meanings of both Kether and Malkuth. The difference is subtle. Kether is entirely innocent through its ignorance because it has not experienced anything at all; Malkuth is ignorant despite having experienced, and is therefore not wholly innocent of its crimes. But the two have a reciprocal relationship, for Kether requires Malkuth in order to experience, and Malkuth requires Kether for the meaning of that experience. This is the meaning of St. John's Gospel when he says that God so loved the world as to send His Only-Begotten. The Will that binds the two polarities is Love. Love is Will and Will is Love. "Love is the Law, Love under Will." 

The figure in the air presents some difficulty. The traditional interpretation of the figure is that he is Cupid; and it is not at first clear what Cupid has to do with Gemini. No light is thrown upon this point by consideration of the position of the path upon the Tree of Life, for Gemini leads from Binah to Tiphareth. There accordingly arises the whole question of Cupid. Roman gods usually represent a more material aspect of the Greek gods from whom they are derived; in this case, Eros. Eros is the son of Aphrodite, and tradition varies as to whether his father was Ares, Zeus or Hermes---that is, Mars, Jupiter or Mercury. His appearance in this card suggests that Hermes is the true sire; and this view is confirmed by the fact that it is not altogether easy to distinguish him from the child Mercury, for they have in common wantonness) irresponsibility, and the love of playing tricks. But in this image are peculiar characteristics. He carries a bow and arrows in a golden quiver. (He is sometimes represented with a torch.) He has golden wings, and is blindfolded. From this, it may appear that he represents the intelligent (and, at the same time, unconscious) will of the soul to unite itself with all and sundry, as has been explained in the general formula with regard to the agony of separateness.

(Note Crowley's coy mention of the wings, the torch, and the blindfold. This could easily be a reference to Eliphas Lévi's depiction of Baphomet, Atu XV The Devil, who in Thelema is the Redeemer Concealed.)

No very special importance is attached to Cupid in alchemical figures. Yet, in one sense, he is the source of all action; the libido to express Zero as Two. From another point of view, he may be regarded as the intellectual aspect of the influence of Binah upon Tiphareth, for (in one tradition) the title of the card is "The Children of the Voice, the Oracle of the Mighty Gods". From this point of view, he is a symbol of inspiration, descending upon the hooded figure, who is, in this instance, a prophet operating the conjunction of the King and Queen. His arrow represents the spiritual intelligence necessary in alchemical operations, rather than the mere hunger to perform them. On the other hand, the arrow is peculiarly a symbol of direction, and it is, therefore, proper to put the word "Thelema" in Greek letters on the quiver. It is also to be observed that the opposite card, Sagittarius, means the Bearer of the Arrow, or Archer, a figure who does not appear in any form in Atu XIV. These two cards are so complementary that they cannot be studied separately, for full interpretation.

The previous two paragraphs on Cupid really must be read together, and in many ways they are the most confusing parts of the entire essay, as Crowley even suggests. To understand them, we must remember that in The Vision and the Voice understanding of Creation as written above Abel is shot through the heart by an arrow. It is not clear who shot this arrow in the vision, but we know that the arrow is a symbol of will, and therefore is an aspect of Mercury. Another important point to remember about this vision is that the Serpent of Genesis is clearly present wrapped around Eve. Note that there is no such serpent on the Thoth version (disregarding the Serpent wrapped around the Egg, for that is a consummate symbol, and slightly different from the idea of the Serpent by itself). Now, the source of Cupid in this card is the Marseille Tarot, which shows a man torn between two female lovers with Cupid in the air above him, bow drawn and aiming for him. It seems that this is really the only reason for Cupid's involvement in the Thoth Lovers. But being the child of Mercury (the Hermit in this case), and bearing a bow and arrow plainly labeled with "Thelema," Greek for "will," we can suggest that Cupid is an expression of Chokhmah, the reflection or "begotten son" of Kether. Therefore, again by the Law of Syllogism, Cupid is in fact the Serpent, and represents the Will of the All-Father, which is Love. Hence he is, as Crowley says, the libido to express Nothing as Somethings. Cupid is the hidden message of the scroll wrapped around the Hermit's Sign of the Enterer. Creation is an expression of Divine Love, which carries with it not the fluffy modern interpretation, but rather a more philosophical and scientific understanding that states simply that, a being that has been divided naturally seeks reunification with its entire self. In this case, the All is dividing itself into the Many for the sake of love, that great magnetic force that is the source of all development in the material universe (remembering that the universe is capable of only two functions, solve et coagula). Each child of the One is endowed with this great desire to surmount the "agony of separateness," the will to union, the spiritual impulse. All Life is therefore made in the image of its Creator, and therefore bears the same ultimate Will as its Creator, which is Love. But by virtue of our Uniqueness we must each take our "Will and fill of Love" as is appropriate to us. 

Part 2 coming soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Small Essay, Predominantly on Hope

Perhaps the Wisdom of God is symbolized by the lofty hawk or eagle because from the Almighty's perspective, all connections between incidents are perceived. All potential pasts and futures are observable from these great heights. It may truly be said of this Knowledge that man is not fit to wield it of his own accord. For man as we tend to understand him knoweth himself not, nor his neighbor, and his nature is such that he is oblivious and impervious to all connections between things and events, being too concerned with his own miniature world and its experiences. Man is all too often full of weakness and ignorance as to be able to successfully harness such a great Knowledge toward any end other than base self-gratification, and it would be most unwise for him to manipulate it simply for such reasons. And yet, he must use it in a way that is responsibly in tune with himself as he is intended to be, and therefore one can easily suggest that the use of Knowledge must be inherently geared toward self-preservation, for lack of a better word. By "self-preservation," I really mean to say, "the process by which an individual maintains their own purity." For man "liveth not on bread alone," but also by the spirit, who is entirely pure in substance and nature. But to return to my original point, such Knowledge is not wholly banned from man's grasp (as any mystic will tell you) for the axis upon which this Knowledge of all things revolves is the Self. To know oneself is to know one's past, present, and future. It is to hold the keys to all possible realities, and to possess the foresight and prudence to know which ones are not possible. For our relationship with the Universe is represented best by the nail, the letter Vav, the Son of the Holy Name, Tetragrammaton. We are undeniably pinned to the events that occur around us; that which transpires within exhales into the without, and whatever we are exposed to without we inhale inwards. Thus, there is a constant flow of influence in the shape of the lemniscate, or symbol for infinity. "Change is stability." God is expressed by but also beyond both these concepts, for neither heaven nor earth may contain him. He is not solely in the world around us and he is not solely within the human spirit. His Representative may be found and the junction-point between the two, and this is Adonai, the Holy Reconciler and Judge who perceives one's life as it truly is. But this is simply the most pure representation of God that we may know in the flesh. The purest idea of God exists beyond even this, beyond all ideas of here or there, or I and they, in a state in which neither of these polarities exist. God in this condition simply must be the great I AM WHO AM, Eheieh, Kether the Crown of the Qabbalists, and this is the true idea of paradise, the Kingdom of God. He is as a child who is conqueror of all things, or as a seed that has been scattered everywhere and nowhere at once. It is impossible to attempt to say anything about him, for any said thing about him is a blasphemy against his holiness, and therefore to men his Wisdom seems as folly.

I say all this because of two concerns. The first is that the Tarot, being a representation of both God's Wisdom and Understanding, can show us, after meditation and appeal for aid from the Angel, these lofty perspectives. Therefore, the Tarot can be a dreadfully potent tool, one to be greatly respected by all men, however blessed, who know not necessarily how best to use the wisdom it imparts (except through the council of their Guardian Angels, but this is an experience achieved by relatively few of our race, or at least it would seem given the current state of affairs). Therefore it is imperative that we seek to redeem this Art from the piteous state it is often cast into - often being called "fortune-telling" and the like - for in this Art lies Hope. Hope is perhaps the most characteristically human virtue, the belief that out of utter despair and desolation something may be done by our bold hands to remedy things and strive forward to a different tomorrow. Perhaps not even a tomorrow that will immediately shine brighter but perhaps at least a tomorrow that will lead to further tomorrows that shine progressively brighter with optimism. No other being on God's great earth carries hope in its heart and relies upon it so heavily for its own survival. It is therefore safe to suggest that Hope is truly Power, which is truly in turn Wisdom, and therefore Hope is a force that elevates us to God's own place in the Universe. For if God can create a world out of blackest nothing, then surely we, being made in his likeness and who have tremendous power to change the future, can also build out of bleakest horror something of worth, something worth protecting and believing in, simply because we have Hope - the desire to make change. Simply because we believe somewhere in our hearts that the seemingly impossible just might be possible, even if for a moment. And so this is my second, more pertinent concern that has weighed heavily on my mind and the minds of many others this week, I am sure. That in the face of oppressive tragedy we must cling to hope firmer than ever, and we must choose to believe that out of this aching trauma something good can come. For if we give in to the darkness and see it simply as misfortune there will no longer be any light to cast it away. It is our moral responsibility to preach the light, and defend it, and love it, and hold true to it despite the raging darkness because believing in the light is what makes us human. It's what gives us empathy, and courage, and creativity, and it being an emanation from God Himself, it urges us to fight for the betterment of the world for all peoples by turning chaos into order, darkness into light, and despair into Hope.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, take hope that even though all may seem lost in a void of meaningless violence, some good may arise from these wastes, though it may not yet nor ever be seen by eye or heard by ear. The Spirit moves in many ways, and we must believe in It and ourselves enough to stand for what we know is true and just in these sad moments.

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come home again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalm 126

Sunday, December 2, 2012

On Advent

Beloved: Hold fast the season of Advent in your hearts so that you may find the hidden glory concealed therein. As the Lord is born in the midst of winter's darkness, so are hope, faith, and love out of penance. The alchemists refer to penance by another word, and that is "putrefaction." In the acknowledgement of our own disobedience and the understanding of God's mercy and justice we may experience that love of which mystics speak - the blazing fire that does not burn. The love we find through the process of decay is bittersweet, an intoxicating poison that corrodes and enkindles. In an instant one feels both bliss and grief. It is a love full of desperation and longing and submission. But in those moments, however brief (as they often are), God lays a gentle hand on our hearts and coaxes out our shut-up stores of love. The result is the birth of a New Man, born out of the Virgin's womb, which is the vessel of personal consciousness which we all bear.

Yea, He is the Savior, Yeheshua, Christ the Lord, thy Holy Guardian Angel, thy Confessor, and thy Beloved. 

Therefore, beloved, pray through this Advent season that you may be a suitable vessel for the Lord your God. Make in your heart room for Him, for without Him you are truly lost and despairing. There is only one hope, and that is in Him - I do swear this to you in love and confidence. Reflect upon yourself and your disobedience toward Him, for disobedience is the root of all sin. Pray for the fear of the Lord to fall upon you so that you may come to tread His path with conviction and sincerity. Fear not the petty dictates of man, but listen to words of Him, who is the Father's beautiful and wise Son, who shall instruct you in the paths that are right and who will guide you away from the paths that are wicked. And though in God's great justice these are different for all, He does perform these deeds for all people, and for that we do bless His holy Name, forever and ever, Amen. There is no greater love than this, my brothers and sisters, and so offer Him your greatest thanksgiving. There is no greater joy, no greater bliss than to offer praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord your Creator, He who hath fashioned Heaven and Earth out of nought, and He who calls out your name in gladness so that you might be saved from the wickedness of your ways. For he who believes he is without sin is a liar. Amen. These things of old have been written for they are the truth and the truth is undying. Give not the tongue of reason your ear so that it may not pollute your interior understanding and illumination. For the Lord in His mercy speaks to you at all times but you have not the ears or the hearts to hear Him because you are too distracted by Because, which is nothing other than the knowledge that is most convenient at that time to know. Because and its twin Reason are not of the Truth because they are transient. They do pass away with the procession of time, but there is the Truth that remains forever. Know instead that there is reason and reason, just as there is love and love. The one is perceptive and adaptable, the other is rigid and blind. 

Therefore, take heed and repent. Reflect. Meditate. Call upon Him who is your Savior - His name is known only to your innermost heart, and it is a name you will thirst for, a name you will say in fervor and adoration and utmost praise. His name shall be the most beautiful word you will ever know because it is the name of your God, and nothing will be more true or right to you that it. Beloved, there is nothing I can say or do to make you believe, and this is my greatest sadness. I can only point you in this path and swear to you with all my soul that these words are most true and important. There is no cure for all this endless grief until the World is wrapped up in love and understanding of its Creator. All other sadnesses are comparatively small and brief for this sadness is as old as Creation itself, and shall last until its End, and it is so for all people. But take great hope, for there is plentiful Redemption, and there is plentiful love and joy available for all. Know and trust that we all do have a God who works for and through us because His love and zeal is so immense that no barrier, not even space or time, can ever separate these forces from us and our lives. 

Celebrate this Advent season with humility, penance, and love. Always act with love, for all acts are irrelevant if they are without love. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sol and Luna: Astrology and Psychology

The Hermetic Marriage of Sol and Luna is a common enough theme in occult literature, but the specifics of it are often shrouded in obtuse symbols and strange ritual praxis. I've always felt that there's a much more practical way for us to benefit from the Marriage of Sol and Luna without necessarily having to get lost in archaisms. In this post I'd like to explain to you my experience with this metaphysical alchemical process so that hopefully at least some of you may benefit.

First of all we have to remember that Sol and Luna constitute broad categories. Sol is of course the masculine element and Luna is the counterbalancing feminine. The idea is that these two forces or personas must be wedded together into one overall Entity. I capitalize "entity" because truly that is a state of perfection and attainment, which is godliness. God in Genesis is referred to as Elohim, which in Hebrew has both masculine and feminine connotations. God is not simply one or the other - he is both in perfect union. When Elohim creates man in his own image Adam comes first because God, being the active creative force in the universe, can be predominantly understood and conceptualized as masculine. Eve is second but being made of the same flesh as Adam should be understood to be his equal - at least in the original marital configuration. (It isn't until Eve sins that God declares her to be subservient to Adam.) It is through their marriage, however, that Adam and Eve are made into "one flesh," and are thereby made more perfect "as [their] Father in Heaven is perfect." This is a reference to one of Jesus's more vague commands since the definition of perfection is so ineffable and tenuous, but it certainly is necessary advice. Man is imperfect until he is made unified with his complement. Love being the only force that is capable of uniting the divided, it can be said that perfection is only attainable through the heat of love.

What I mean by "broad categories" is that Sol and Luna represent different things for different people. For the evidence of this we must turn to astrology. Everyone has a sun sign and a moon sign and these represent separate aspects of one's personality. In my case the sun was in Scorpio and the moon was in Leo at the time of my birth. Both of these accurately describe my overall personality. In my experience the moon sign is a weaker, less stable because more fluctuating, personality, and it is more subject to the themes and archetypes represented by the sun sign. The sun sign, however, is consistent though not without its own vices and issues. So everyone's case is different. Even two people who have the same signs in the same configuration will obviously not be the same person by virtue of their different experience, nor will their personal methods of development and growth be the same. Their True Wills are inherently different and must be so, otherwise they would be the same being - a clear fallacy. Put simply, the way a sign expresses itself in the nature of an individual is unique to that individual if only by virtue of the individual's indivisibility and universal centrality ("Every man and every woman is a star.")

In my experience, the worst elements of my sun sign - vengefulness, grudge holding, licentiousness, obsession, and depression - have always been more prominent and out of control in my life when my moon sign has equally been unsupported or misunderstood - in my case at times when I've felt unappreciated, unconfident, weak, too introverted, etc. It wasn't until I discovered more about my moon sign personality (particularly through the help of tarot and meditation, invoking of the HGA) and learned to ground this personality that the less useful and negative aspects of my sun sign started to also evaporate. (This is not to suggest that I've become perfect, by any means.) Sources of lifelong sadness and angst have started to melt away because of the growing strength of my lunar foundation. It's no coincidence that on the Tree of Life Luna is associated with Yesod, which translates to "foundation" in Hebrew. The path of Samekh (XIV Art, Sagittarius, the Arrow) that connects Luna in Yesod to Sol in Tiphareth on the Tree is associated with the Hermetic Marriage, and represents Nature, or Creation, as the union of opposites. We must exalt our personal psychological Eve so that we can also redeem Adam.

It's very much a process, of course - a long and natural one. And balance and moderation are crucial aspects of it. Crowley's commentary on XIV Art are revealing and perceptive into this metaphysical/psychological/natural process of self evolution. The basis for it is understanding of one's nature, particularly those parts of our nature which happen without our consent. There are many aspects of our behavior that simply happen with our without or conscious choosing of them. Represented by the moon in her "lower aspect," in other words in Yesod, it is important to wade through the sometimes nonsensical, phantasmagoric muck of the subconscious. I think the ultimate goal is to use the power of will or consciousness to wed the best aspects of Luna with the best aspects of Sol. "Love is the Law, Love under Will." The Marriage of Self must be a choice. Perhaps it can be suggested that this is one of the most divinely inspired or godlike decisions we can make regarding our own lives, as it was God's will that Self should be divided in the first place, and it is God's will that Self should be reunited and thereby redeemed. To imitate the divine will is to assume the identity of the Divine itself and to essentially become its equivalent. This represents an even higher spiritual marriage, that which exists between the Eternal Self, which is God, and the Temporal Self, which is the incarnated man in living in the body. Thus the highest is reconciled with the lowest and the road to Paradise is made clear.

The importance of this reconciliation is made clear by the traditional medieval text, "Virga Jesse," taken from Isaiah which reads:
Virga Jesse floruit:
Virgo Deum et hominem genuit:
pacem Deus reddidit,
In se reconcilians ima summis.

The rod of Jesse hath blossomed:
A Virgin hath brought forth God and man:
God hath restored peace,
Reconciling in Himself the lowest with the highest.

The Virgin is the equivalent of Malkuth, the Kingdom, Malkah the Bride. But the key phrase here is, "God hath restored peace, reconciling in Himself the lowest with the highest." In other words, through the Virgin's acceptance of the Divine Will (which in this case is reconciliation and unification) within herself (both through her statements, "As you say, let it be done to me," and, "Behold, I am the Handmaiden of the Lord," and through her literal physical acceptance of the Word/Will in her womb) the mystery of the Incarnation has been made possible, and it is through Christ's Incarnation that God has united the Divine and Human natures and has thereby established harmony - the basis of Creation and Redemption. The chaos of sin brought about by self ignorance and unwillingness to understand oneself is brought into check, allowing the individual the freedom to grow in the direction they were meant to grow in from the Beginning. This explains the attribution of XIV Art to Sagittarius, the sign of freedom and exploration, spirituality and philosophy. Perhaps it is no surprise that Sagittarius himself is both half man and half beast. It is certainly no surprise that his sign is the arrow, which is a glyph of the will, which is to say "love." 

Not the best interpretation of this piece, but you get the idea.
"Virga Jesse" by Anton Bruckner

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pergolesi's "Fac ut ardeat" and XI Lust

Unfortunately one of my least discussed topics on here is music. That's possibly because I do so much music in life that it's nice to have a space to write stuff in that doesn't necessarily have to do with it. But today I'm going to just direct you on the path of some really amazing stuff I've just found that I think really speaks to arcanum XI Lust.

Admittedly that's sort of an awkward picture to have frozen, but ignore that and listen to at least some of it. This is a performance of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, a lovely Italian Baroque setting of a famous Marian devotional prayer, as performed by Les Talens Lyriques, soprano Sabina Puertolas, and mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux. The whole thing is really quite amazing, but particularly great is about 18:26 minutes in when the "Fac ut ardeat" starts.

The Stabat Mater, by the way, is an old Marian devotional prayer that's actually quite a long poem. It describes various aspects of the Passion from the perspective of the Virgin Mother, and petitions the Virgin to allow the supplicant to feel the same sorrow as she did in her beholding of the Passion. The Virgin's grief is an expression of her ardent love for her Son, and so in asking for grief the supplicant is really asking for greater love of Christ.

The full text of the "Fac ut ardeat" is brief, just a stanza of the whole poem.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum

in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Which means essentially, "Make my heart to burn in the love of Christ the Lord as you did." As you'll notice, Pergolesi's setting of this portion is incredibly feisty, contrapuntally intricate, and rhythmically unrelenting. He certainly captures the sense of burning and fire here, as well as the passionate sense of urgency in that feeling of crushing sorrow born out of ecstatic love. The competitive ascent up the scale by the overreaching of one voice over the other also conveys not only virtuosity but that sense of ecstatic, practically orgasmic love. I would argue that the chromatic descents down the scale near the end of the movement also represent death (as descending chromatic 4ths usually did in the Baroque era), and the in the Renaissance Italian poets began using death as a metaphor for orgasm. There are many Italian poems from the 16th and 17th centuries that say something to the effect of, "O, that I would die 1,000 times a day, etc." So the placement of descending chromatic 4ths here really is quite significant. This is a passionate representation of divine love as experienced through sexual energy and release. 

This movement for me is entirely about Arcanum XI Lust. Lust isn't just passion or desire, it's about the kind of ecstatic, transcendent love one can experience for Divinity. Those moments are sort of indescribable. It usually feels like my heart is radiating warmth and joy mixed with reverence. Sometimes I feel transported somewhere else, sometimes I can't stop smiling, it's always beautiful no matter what. And it's that energy that can be channeled in various ways in a magickal sense. When harnessed in the proper way that same sexual love for God can be used for prayer and ritual. 

All that being said, I thought this piece captured XI Lust for me. Maybe you agree? Let me know!

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