Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Path of Initiation - The Logos

This article is Part Seventeen of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, Part Nine can be found here, Part Ten can be found here, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, Part Fifteen can be found here, and Part Sixteen can be found here.

The speaking of the Word or Logos is the seventeenth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. According to the A.'.A.'. system, this is considered the task of the grade of Magus (9=2). To properly speak your Word you must be initiated into the second sephira, Chockmah, which means Wisdom.

We are almost at the end of this series now. The final step of initiation, union with the divine, will be covered in the eighteenth and final installment, and then I'll be moving on to something else. The point of writing this all up is related to my comprehension of the task of the Exempt Adept, who is supposed to publish a thesis synthesizing hsi or her comprehension of the magical path.

As I mentioned in the preceding article in this series, on the Kircher Tree of Life Chockmah is attributed to the zodiac as a whole, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of God Face-to-Face." Chockmah represents active engagement with the universe at a cosmic level. It is the active counterpart of the third sephira, Binah or Understanding, which represents receptive comprehension of the universe at a cosmic level.

The sephiroth have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

As with the last couple of articles in this series, keep in mind that I am writing from my research into the Thelemic tradition rather than personal experience. I do not even consider myself a Master of the Temple, let alone a Magus. As such, there may come a time where I look back on articles like this one and decide that I was totally wrong and I had no idea what I was talking about. So bear that in mind.

So what is a Word or Logos? Even though you might at first think otherwise, it certainly transcends the concept of language, which as I have mentioned previously is often overrated by magicians. The concept of information is likewise often used incorrectly. The only form of information that underlies the structure of the universe is quantum information, and this is not the sort of information that gets compiled by, say, Wikipedia.

Language has no direct connection with the structure of the universe. It has little to do with consciousness as well, except as a tool that allows us to communicate with one another. Words of Power resonate with external forces in a way that "regular words" don't. You do speak them in ritual, but they are "handles" for spiritual principles and forces that have been assembled over the centuries.

As the Logos is a Word of Power, this is also true of the Word spoken by the Magus that sets in motion a new current of spiritual force. And it should be pointed out that what is being brought into existence as the "Word" is "Spoken" is the spiritual current that the Word will reprent from that point forward, not just a set of syllables. So the description of this task is more metaphorical than literal.

As an example - Aleister Crowley was given the first version his Word, Abrahadabra, in The Book of the Law. As he did not even recognize Aiwass as has Holy Guardian Angel at that point, he was not really even an Adept, let alone a Magus. There's no evidence that he recognized the Word as such when it first appeared in the text. Likewise, the second form of his Word, MAKAShANH, was obtained during his visions of the Thirty Aires which marked his initiation into the grade of Master of the Temple.

Both words sum to 418, which indicates a gematric connection between them. In The Vision and the Voice, Crowley explains that ABRAHADABRA is the form of his Word proper to the grade of 5=6, that is, below the Abyss. MAKAShANH, on the other hand, is the form proper to grade of 8=3, that is, above the Abyss. In both cases, though, Crowley had not attained Chockmah when he received the words themselves. That would come later.

So as I see it, the point is that the knowledge of the Word and the "speaking," or more accurately the activating of it, are two entirely different things. As Chockmah represents active engagement with the cosmic field, the Magus has the power to bring into the universe as a whole a new current of spiritual force. This current then becomes a new spiritual tradition - a system for producing spiritual experiences.

And as another aside, this is the true function of religion. It is a formal system for producing personal spiritual experiences. Everything else is basically cruft, from mundane cultural traditions to the structure of the priesthood to rules built solely to facilitate social control of adherents. If your religious tradition or system does not do this, it is doing something wrong - full stop.

The whole "afterlife" model found in many religious traditions is just such a dodge. The idea that you just have to put up with suffering in the here and now, especially that proscribed by authoritarian leaders, in exchange for some promised reward in the afterlife that nobody can ever come back and vouch for and in which you must "have faith" is fundamentally problematic, a characteristic of what some modern Christian thinkers describe as the "Church of Empire."

Your religion should be giving you practices that you can personally do in order to experience the divine, however the divine is conceptualized within that tradition. This is because nobody can do your spiritual work for you. All that the intercessory model of religion is really good for is cutting you off from your own direct experience of the divine. No intercessor, no matter how powerful or awesome, can offer any sort of shortcut.

Religious leaders can and should be teachers with respect to the techniques of their system, but the moment they start telling you not to worry about actually doing the work you probably are in trouble. This is especially true if they start telling you that they can do the work for you as long as you obey their instructions and don't make trouble. Many an abusive cult has started up this way, and when you see it, my advice to you is to get out right away.

Chockmah is the sephira of the zodiac, and this alludes to the fundamental connection between the nature of the Word of each Magus and the signs. Thelema posits the idea of Aeons, periods of time during which the axis of the Earth spends time in each zodiacal sign as it (very) slowly rotates through the sky. The amount of time in each sign depends a little on where you place the boundaries between them, but it generally represents a period of two thousand-some years.

Thelema bills itself as the first spiritual tradition based on a Word that was spoken under the influence of the sign Aquarius. The Words of Christianity and Islam were spoken under the influence of the sign Pisces. So in effect, the Aeon of the Child sees the self-sacrifice of the Piscean current replaced by the individualism of the Aquarian current. This transforms the basic nature of the formula from death and rebirth to that of life and growth.

In effect, Thelema accomplishes a sort of "Copernican turn" for spirituality much as Immanuel Kant did for philopsophy. Instead of trying to ascertain objective absolutes, Thelema focuses on the personal experience of each practitioner. A simple example - in the formula of death and rebirth, the individual personality must "die" in order to attain union with the divine.

However, from the individual's perspective, what happens is that the individual personality is enriched with the whole - and this is what happens to every individual who walks the path and accomplishes this realization. It's not really the Buddhist idea of "no-self," it's more like the idea of "all-encompassing self." But at the same time, by virtue of being all- encompassing, the resulting "self" overlaps with all other manifestations of consicousness an incorporates their perspectives.

One of the key practices of Thelema, then, is the ecstatic union with other manifestations of consciousness, through mystical or other means. As Crowley writes, it is the development of the self through joy. "Following your bliss" really can be the path to enlightenment, so long as it is pursued with diligence and discipline. And even though the discipline portion can prove tricky when you're having a good time, it still is a lot more fun than drab Piscean asceticism and self-denial.

If you buy the Thelemic framework, it implies that every Word spoken for the next two thousand years will in some way harmonize with this principle of life and growth rather than that of death and rebirth. Christianity and Islam are both built on the concepts of self-sacrifice and submission - and to be clear, this is not always bad. Extreme asceticism and fundamentalism just take those principles to unbalanced extremes.

Thelema, too, is not without potential pitfalls. The radical individualism of Aquarius can result in isolation and disconnection from others. The "path of joy" can lead to all sorts of negative health consequences when pursued blindly rather than with discipline and insight. And so forth. The point is that no spiritual current is without potential downsides, including mine. And what's right for me may not be right for anyone else.

Along those lines, my take on the Aeons is different than how some other Thelemites see it. When The Book of the Law says that "the rituals of the old time are black," I have heard it asserted that this means Thelemic magick is the only magick that now works in the New Aeon. I do not believe this based on my experiences. The death-rebirth paradigm is still valid in this day and age, and the monotheistic religions that dominated the previous Aeon are still around and active.

I believe that just as the signs of the zodiac always exist whether or not they are above the horizon, the currents that emanate from them always exist as well. It's just that the "dominant" current is the one that is closest to the aggregates of human consciousness that arise during its "reign," so to speak, and therefore the easiest to access during that period. In fact, I expect that there's a lot of magick out there involving the mixing of multiple currents that I have yet to explore.

The ritual here is largely speculative. It is similar to the Chockmah rites, but you don't conjure any angels or project yourself somewhere or make an elixir. You just speak your Word once your consciousness is exalted to the proper level and basically see what happens. You basically are using this Word of Power to conjure yourself as a Magus, not any other spirit.

0. The Temple

There are a number of different ways to arrange the temple for an operation such as this. What we do is place an altar in the center with the banishing dagger and invoking wand. With this operation you don't use a containment structure because you are not calling on an angel or other spirit.

Chockmah operations represent the entire zodiac, and as such any chart victor can be appropriate. However, you can still improve your results by employing simple electional timing.

1. Opening

Light incense, if used (Musk). Open the magical field using the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, Star Ruby and Star Sapphire, or the Field Ritual. The usual field for practical work is the operant field, with banishing pentagrams and invoking hexagrams.

2. Preliminary Invocation

Raise energy using the Middle Pillar, Elevenfold Seal (the "First Gesture" from Liber V vel Reguli), or some other appropriate ritual method as you may know how to do.

Make the Sign of Apophis and Typhon, raising both arms and holding them straight with an angle between them of 60 degrees, and proclaim, very strongly:

Thee I invoke, who art Universe!
Thee I invoke, who art in Nature formed!
Thee I invoke, the vast and the mighty!
Source of Darkness, Source of Light.

Then make the Sign of Silence, by standing straight with one arm at your side and placing your thumb or forefinger to your lips.

3. Tuning the Space

Perform the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram for Chockmah. Beginning in the east, go to each quarter in turn and perform the following actions:

  1. 1. Trace the Invoking Hexagram of Saturn in Gray while vibrating ARARITA (ah-rah-ree-tah). The Hexagram of Saturn is used for all three supernals, but with different colors for each. The Invoking Hexagram of Saturn is traced by starting at the top point and tracing the first triangle clockwise, and then moving on to the bottom point and tracing the second triangle clockwise from there.
  2. Trace the symbol of the zodiac in the center of the hexagram in gray while vibrating YAH. This symbol is a wheel that is similar to the wheel of spirit, but divided into twelve sections instead of eight.
The final figure being traced to all four directions should look like this:

Once you have returned to face the east, read or recite the unity chapter from Liber 963. Chockmah unifies the entire zodiac, and as such this chapter is most appropriate.

1. O Thou Unity of all things: as the water that poureth through the fingers of my hand, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot hold Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I plunge into the heart of the ocean, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

2. O Thou Unity of all things: as the hot fire that flameth is too subtle to be held, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot grasp Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I hurl me down the scarlet throat of a volcano, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

3. O Thou Unity of all things: as the moon that waneth and increaseth in the heavens, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot stay Thee; for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I devour Thee, as a dragon devoureth a kid, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

4. O Thou Unity of all things: as the dust that danceth over the breast of the desert, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot seize Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I lick up with my tongue the bitter salt of the plains, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

5. O Thou Unity of all things: as the air that bubbleth from the dark depths of the waters, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot catch Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I net Thee as a goldfish in a kerchief of silk, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

6. O Thou Unity of all things: as the cloud that flitteth across the white horns of the moon, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot pierce Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I tangle Thee in a witch-gossamer of starlight, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

7. O Thou Unity of all things: as the star that travelleth along its appointed course, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot rule Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I hunt Thee across the blue heavens as a lost comet, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

8. O Thou Unity of all things: as the lightning that lurketh in the heart of the thunder, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot search Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I wed the flaming circle to the enshrouded square, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

9. O Thou Unity of all things: as the earth that holdeth all precious jewels in her heart, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot spoil Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I burrow as a mole in the mountain of Chaos, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

10. O Thou Unity of all things: as the pole-star that burneth in the centre of the night, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot hide Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I turn from Thee at each touch of the lodestone of lust, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

11. O Thou Unity of all things: as the blue smoke that whirleth up from the altar of life, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot find Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I inter Thee in the sarcophagi of the damned, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

12. O Thou Unity of all things: as a dark-eyed maiden decked in crimson and precious pearls, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot rob Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I strip Thee of Thy gold and scarlet raiment of Self, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

13. O Thou Unity of all things: as the sun that rolleth through the twelve mansions of the skies, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot slay Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I lick up the Boundless Light, the Boundless, and the Not, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!

Amen, and Amen of Amen, and Amen of Amen of Amen, and Amen of Amen of Amen of Amen.

The space should now be tuned for the operation.

4. The Word

I can't give you a precise formula for this portion of the rite. Presumably you're doing it as one who has crossed the Abyss and obtained initiation into Chockmah, so improvising this portion should not be tpp difficult. Also, you will have to know the Word itself in order to proceed. I expect that you should have found it by now, but if not you probably need to do more work with Chockmah in order to obtain it.

At this point, what I would do for myself is to compose some sort of "Conjuration of the Word" that would be original and heartfelt, much like when composing an invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel during that phase of the path. I have been told what my Word is, but I'm not at the point in my magical and spiritual development where I would be doing this - at least not yet.

This conjuration should in some simple statement lay out the basic model of spiritual progress and development that the word represents. It may also include a complex breakdown of the Word letter by letter, much like the Keyword Analysis for the Christian Word INRI found in the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram. It may include the vibration of the Word multiple times, or sustained meditation using the Word as a mantra - or anything else you may devise by your own ingenuity.

Finally, once the Word is "spoken" - that is, invoked - you should devise a means to project it into the world in such a way that operates as it should, setting in motion a new spiritual current that operates in harmony with the basic nature of the prevailing Aeon. You know, just that, and you're done. It's a simple idea, but by its very nature I'm sure it's not easy.

Now I have no idea how well even this basic formula will work or what methods should be employed, at least not yet. When I get to this point and work at performing this operation, I expect it will become clear. It would not surprise me if, like the Holy Guardian Angel invocation, successfully setting the Word in motion takes a sustained period of daily operations before everything "clicks." But I also think that you will unmistakably know when it does.

5. Closing

The ritual should be closed with the Qabalistic Cross.

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Dacia Pacea said...

This is fascinating!

I think the whole christian dogma as manufactured and explained by people is wrong. As a christian my view is that we as people explore as much of this physical world in its infinite possibilities during many lifetimes. By what Christ said of entering the Kingdom of Heaven I interpret as "breaking free" from this exploratory journey that pushes us forward by the law of cause and effect depending on what we had learned and what we need to learn next, and "returning home" before we end the journey and reunite with the whole, like forever. Something along those lines anyway :)

What you wrote in the ceremony for the Word resembles Frater B's writings on achieving the union with the godhead. There he mentions fervent prayers, contemplation and invocation, and practically pleading to the god to come down and unite with yourself. He then mentions that when complete unity is achieved, you will live and act having the authority of the god. You're practically that god or goddess. So I guess this step you mention here is the part where one can create like a god - in the beginning was the word - and the final step is the complete union.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yes. The whole idea behind the term that I used there, "Church of Empire," refers to all of the baggage that Christianity acquired when it became the state religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine. Modern fundamentalism and systems like "Prosperity Gospel" retain a surprising amount of that baggage.

Gnosticism survived for awhile in opposition to that, and the general idea of Gnosis is to my way of thinking closer to the original form of Christianity - personal experience of the divine, in which YHVH becomes YHShVH, the Tetragrammaton infused with spirit that becomes the Pentagrammaton. Or, the Greek word actually used in the Gospels - metanoia or meta-mind. The trouble with first millenium Gnosticism, though, is that is became infused with the Manichean split in which spirit became good and in contrast matter became evil. That synthesis leads to Gnostic ideas like Demiurge theology that I personally find contrived and in some ways even a little silly.

Basically, when you speak your Word and unleash a new spiritual current, in theory it should give you the ability to act as the "God" of your current. In Vajrayana Buddhism you have the idea that those who attain Buddhahood go on to create their "Pure Lands" which aspirants can then practice towards, so perhaps the dynamic of currents is similar to that in some way. Without having been there myself, it's hard to say.

Dacia Pacea said...

I think I understand. There's a saying here that God acts through people, often meaning that God sends you the right people in order to help you when you're dealing with a certain problem.

So in this case, some people reach the point where they act as God in order to help humanity by pushing it forward using various innovative (revolutionary) concepts and ways of achieving godhood - since you mentioned the Age of Aquarius. Cool! :)

Scott Stenwick said...

You can look at it that way. I was a Hermetic Christian before I was a Thelemite, and back then I might have talked about it in those terms.

As I see it, the Thelemic concept of "God" is more like Ken Wilber's dynamic ground of being - a field of consciousness that pervades the entire universe and connects all individual manifestations of consciousness together, if that makes sense. "There is no part of me that is not of the gods."

At the level of Kether, all consciousness merges together. Since I treat consciousness as a phenomenon arising from quantum information, all "stuff" merges together too. So you can talk about a "monotheistic" perspective if your fix your attention there.

However, further down the Tree it is also meaningful to say that the minds of individual gods are distinct, just like the minds of individual spirits and individual humans. If you look at the gods from that perspective, you are effectively viewing the world as a polytheist.

Different perspectives work for different people, but as I see it the underlying spiritual reality is the same. Also note - just because I use the Naples Arrangement of the Tree of Life as my go-to model, that doesn't make it privileged symbol set. It's just a very useful one on a number of levels.

Anyway, I think I digressed a bit there. This is a pretty broad topic.

Basically, in Thelema you act as God in order to accomplish your True Will, which could be just about anything. Personally, I like pushing the discipline of magick forward by developing innovative concepts, but others may find that their will is best fulfilled by maintaining and/or working with an established tradition, or by digging into the historical roots of modern practice. It depends entirely on the individual and his or her perspective on the magical universe.

Dacia Pacea said...

I agree with all that you said about consciousness, god and gods and so on, because that's exactly how I view everything, but I can't put it into words most of the time. But more than that, that's how I feel about everything and it's how I've felt for a long time, even though I didn't realize it.

I don't know why alot of people act weird when I comes to Thelema (actually I do - Crowley, conspiracy theory etc.), but I find it to be a logical step on the ladder of the evolution of our consciousness. Like at first people worshipped the elements, the animals, sun, moon, and stars, which they viewed as gods. Then came the concept of one god from which all was created. Then the path was laid before us so that we can become one with God, and using its will, our True Will.