Monday, September 29, 2014

Hacking the Solar Hexagram

One of the more bothersome techniques in Golden Dawn and Thelemic magick is the tracing of the solar hexagram in the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram. Aside from the Sun, the other six classical planets use a simple, straightforward method. To trace the proper figure, you map the hexagram onto the Tree of Life and start at the point corresponding to the sephira attributed to the planet, as shown on the hexagram above. Then, you trace clockwise to invoke or counter-clockwise to banish, tracing first one triangle and then its complement to form the complete shape.

Solve et Coagula has a more comprehensive article on the hexagram rituals here. From that article, this image shows how to trace the Hexagram of Mercury. The point for Mercury is on the lower left, corresponding to the sephira Hod. You start at that point to trace the first triangle, and then start at the opposite point (Jupiter in this case) to trace the second.

This method is simple and effective, but as you can see from the top diagram, the Sun presents a problem. As it sits in the center of the shape, none of the points of the hexagram are associated with it. So the solution that was arrived at by Golden Dawn magicians was to trace all six of the other hexagrams, starting with Saturn and working down the Tree of Life to the Moon. It is therefore drawn as shown in the image below, from the same Solve et Coagula article as the Mercury hexagram.

This does work in ritual, but it has always struck me as cumbersome and unbalanced. Rather than directly calling upon the Sun, you are in effect referring to the Sun by the virtues of the other planets. With the Sun at the center of the solar system, this has always struck me as being a little backwards. While the Sun can be treated as an amalgam of the planets, just as Earth can be treated as an amalgam of the elements, there should be a more efficient way to represent it.

Many Thelemites have adapted the unicursal hexagram for the Sun as an attempt to resolve this problem, so much so that the figure has become a commonly recognized Thelemic symbol. This form of the hexagram, shown below, has a point in the center where the lines cross that can easily be attributed to the Sun.
However, this is not perfect either. The top and bottom points of the unicursal hexagram are larger than the other four, and as such it is often not treated as a planetary figure. Rather, the four small points are attributed to the four elements, with Active Spirit above and Passive or Receptive Spirit below. Active Spirit can be represented by the Sun, so in this arrangement the Sun becomes the top point.

Aleister Crowley made use of the unicursal hexagram in Liber Reguli as the solar "Invoking Hexagram of the Beast," which he taught two different ways. The first method was to trace from the center, and the second was to trace from the top point. So at different times, both versions made their way into his teachings. Still, this more "elemental" aspect of the Sun represented by the unicursal hexagram is not really on par with the planetary aspect represented by the classical hexagram.

This brings me to a neat idea that I first came across years ago in The Book of the Glyph by Frater Adsum Iterum. This is not a very well-known text, which is a shame. It details a full-scale planetary operation designed to transform the entire local environment, and while I don't necessarily agree with every design decision, it's just the sort of thing that modern magicians should be publishing and making available.

One of the gems embedded in The Book of the Glyph is a simple, astute observation . When you trace the planetary hexagram in the air, what you get is a unicursal figure because you have to trace across the hexagram from the initial planetary point to its complement. As an example, here's the Invoking Hexagram of Saturn rendered in this way.

Once you realize that you've been dealing with a unicursal figure the whole time, the solution for the Solar Hexagram is obvious. Just start the figure in the middle of the line that links the two triangles! This leaves you with two possible forms of the figure, shown below.

So which should we use? Turning to Crowley's description of the Holy Hexagram from The Book of Lies, we find the following: "The Red Triangle is the descending tongue of grace; the Blue Triangle is the ascending tongue of prayer." Crowley's Holy Hexagram is an inversion of the Golden Dawn Hexagram of Nature, meaning that the red triangle of grace points downwards, and the blue triangle of prayer points upwards.

In Qabalistic planetary magick as outlined in Liber 777 each planet has a dual nature. Each is attributed to a sephira, representing a mystical vision or devotional goal, and a path, representing a magical power or practical goal. If we attribute prayer to the mystical visions and grace to the magical powers, both forms of this "hacked" solar hexagram become meaningful.

For all of the other planets the same hexagram is used for magical and mystical operations, though the colors and some of the other attributions generally change. For the Sun, though, I would propose that this new solar hexagram be traced with the upward-pointing triangle first (Form 1) for mystical or devotional operations, and with the downward-pointing triangle first (Form 2) for magical or practical operations.

So far I've only used this method a couple of times, and while it seems to work reasonably well so far, I don't have anything like the sort of proper sample size that I need to make a valid comparison. But I'm going to try working with it for awhile and see how it goes. I already like it better than the unicursal for the Sun, which I did work with for awhile until I decided I liked it better as an elemental figure.

UPDATE: Peregrin Wildoak has a response to this article up today in which he defends the traditional method of tracing the solar hexagram. That's cool, and I'm glad to see that this post sparked some discussion.

One clarification I want to make is that the statement "dealing with a unicursal figure the whole time" does not mean that I think magicians are using this method "unconsciously" or something like that, which is what it sounds a little like quoted out of context. I am referring to the external shape of the figure only there, not trying to imply that I think magicians are somehow internally visualizing the "extra line" without realizing it. I don't even think that such a thing is possible.

As I commented in response to Peregrin's article, at the moment this method is completely experimental and when doing actual magical operations I use the traditional method. I recommend that you do the same until you've thoroughly tested this one out and concluded that it works better for you than the original. With only a couple of experimental rituals so far, I'm nowhere near that point and probably won't be for some time, but I'll keep you all posted once I have some more definitive results.

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Nerd said...

Great idea, also thanks for the reference. Gonna check out the Book of Glyphs.

Dacia Pacea said...

Just to make sure I fully understand how to trace this right:

1. For material outcome the hexagram would be traced Sun-Moon-Mars-Jupiter-Moon-(up through Sun) Saturn-Venus-Mercury-Saturn-Sun

2. For spiritual working it would be Sun-Saturn-Venus-Mercury-Saturn-(down through Sun) Moon-Mars-Jupiter-Moon-Sun

Please correct me it I'm wrong.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yes, but keep in mind this is still an entirely experimental method. I have not built up enough of a sample size yet to say for sure that it works as well or better than the traditional method.

I would be interested in hearing what your results are, though, if they are something you can share. More data is always better.

Dacia Pacea said...

Sure! No problem. I will get back to you with the results ;)

I have done some pendulum work during my usual practice earlier and I got positive answers about using this method. In addition to that, my intuition says "go for it!" and so I shall. I liked this method the first time I saw it and I find it more logical than the classical one.

I guess that it i cast this for someone, there will be no need for a containment space, especially if that person is a relative of mine.

The question remains the same as the one in your healing ritual for your friend. What should I to with the candle remains? Yeah, I know it's a silly thing to ask,but as I said before, tis the small details that get me stuck :) Can I bury them?

Dacia Pacea said...

I finished the ritual earlier. It went very smooth. I find this solar hexagram easier to trace than the others. I used an orange candle inscribed with the seal for the Sun and the sigils for the Intelligence and Spirit, covered it with sunflower oil and cinnamon.

After I started the conjugation for the Sun the energy definitely felt different, telling me that the hexagram was successful. Also, the incense smoke started acting up and it was rising in a spiralling column, rather than random as before. At times during the conjurations, the orange candle flame was acting up also.

I used a containing structure just to add a boost, by drawing a yellow triangle on a piece of clean white paper. I placed the square of the Sun inside and a photo of the person along with the candle on top of the square.

I'll get back to you with the results ;)

Blessed be!

Dacia Pacea said...

As i said a few days ago in a comment on your FB page, this hacked solar hexagram worked very well in my pathworkings. I've had some awesome experiences visiting the path of the Sun.

Regarding the practical ritual in which i've used it, things are setting up well for that person. The only downside would be that I was so focused in performing that ritual, that I forgot to set a time frame for Sorath. So things are moving slowly. I guess the spirit works meticulously to achieve the task. Some extraordinary things have happened along the way, namely the target has dodged a few bullets from business partners that were ill intended. Those guys got out of the way like they were blown away and a clear path oppened every time.

Can I performed the same ritual in order to give the spirit a certain time frame, or should I let it so its thing in a steady pace? I mean, would a second ritual interfere with the first, giving the fact that the spirit would have planned the manifestation of the outcome slightly later than the eventual time limit I would set for it next?

Scott Stenwick said...

The second ritual could interfere with the first, so I would probably let it unfold as long as things seem to be working out well. I would only do a recast if that changed for some reason and it seemed like the effect was starting to fade.

Dacia Pacea said...

It does seem that letting the spirit do its job would be the wisest thing to do.

Thank you!