Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hacking the Elemental Hexagrams

Most Augoeides readers are familiar with my operant field system for using the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram. To briefly recap, as I see it the "Lesser" rituals are general rituals that you use to set up your magical working space or "field," whereas the "Greater" rituals are used to conjure specific magical forces. I am not fond at all of the "Lesser" versus "Greater" nomenclature, because there should be no implied hierarchy between the types. You do want to learn the "Lesser" rituals first, but that's only because they are the first rituals you use when doing magical operations. They are in no way inferior or less important - they are foundational to the work.

But one of the things that some of the Golden Dawn groups teach these days does not fit very well with this concept of the forms, and to my way of thinking just confuses things. This is the idea of "Lesser Rituals of the Hexagram" for specific planets. From a technical standpoint, what you do is pretty straightforward. You trace the four elemental hexagrams from the point attributed to the planet, according to where the two triangles that represent each elemental hexagram map onto the Tree of Life when placed in the "standard" or star configuration. But if the Lesser rituals are general rituals, how should that even work?

To be clear, my operant field model is developed from Aleister Crowley's versions of these rituals published in Liber O, which in turn is Crowley's adaptation of the Golden Dawn rituals he learned from S. L. MacGregor Mathers during his time in the order. Thus, my system is based on material that effectively diverged from the Golden Dawn tradition over a hundred years ago. So what I am not trying to say here is that the modern Golden Dawn teachings are wrong in some objective sense. I have no idea where the idea of specific "Lesser Hexagrams" came from, or what experimental testing was done to verify that the method works.

So going forward, keep in mind that I am talking about my own operant system and offering no comment one way or the other on how other traditions such as the modern Golden Dawn orders teach these ritual forms. I naturally believe that my methods work better based on my own experimental testing and that of a number other magicians who have tried it out and compared it to more traditional methods. But my suggestion is, as always, if it works it works. If you learned these forms from a Golden Dawn group and they work for you as you learned them, that's great. But I also invite anyone to give the operant system a try and see if it works for them as well as it does for me.

Since in my system the Lesser rituals are general and the Greater rituals are specific, it is not clear to me what a specific Lesser Hexagram ritual is supposed to do. My basic sequence for any planetary operation is LBRP/LIRH (the operant field) followed by tuning the space to the energy you are conjuring using the GIRH for the planet. I create the magical field, and then I tune it. Mixing up those steps is just messy, and in my experience leads to poorer results. Modularity in magick serves the same purpose as modularity in my professional field of software development. It helps you design new operations and debug existing ones much more easily.

But a recent discussion on Facebook did get me thinking. Outside of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram itself, could an argument be made for using the elemental hexagrams elsewhere? And if so, what would they represent? The Greater Ritual of the Hexagram always uses the "standard" or star or "Earth" hexagram as it is called in the LRH itself. Whether it still represents elemental Earth in the context of the GRH is another question, since as I have discussed elsewhere I am not convinced that the "Earth pentagram" used in the LRP just represents the elemental Earth or something more general. But for the sake of argument, let's say that it does. If so, that implies that the other elemental hexagrams might have their own applications specific to the elements they represent.

A caveat - pretty patterns do not necessarily constitute a system of magick. I can't tell you how many times I have come up with something that seems logical, but which doesn't work, or at best fails to outperform the original method that I am trying to optimize. Nature and logic are not the same thing, and magick is not simply a matter of whatever you happen to believe is going to work. For strong macrocosmic effects - that is, magick acting directly on the external world - the symbols you are using need to resonate closely with specific natural forces. That's something I figured out early on when I started probability testing my rituals.

Incidentally, that observation is one big reason that I tend to be skeptical of mind-only or even psychic-power-only models of magick. If you want to engage in a whole bunch of mental gyrations, you can still get a psychic-power-only model that might return these results if you approach it from a Jungian perspective and consider the "natural forces" I'm talking about as archetypes. But I fail to see what utility is really gained there, and anyway with a model like that you run into problems again as soon as you try to work out why a ritual that calls on my own power is almost always produces a lower probability shift than a ritual that calls on my own power plus that of a spirit.

But I digress. Following that Facebook discussion I meditated a bit on ideas for using the elemental hexagrams in other contexts besides the LRH itself. If we assume that the standard Greater Hexagram does represent Earth, the logical reason for its use is that with practical magick we are attempting to act upon the material world. This is called Assiah in Hermetic Qabalah, and is one of four Qabalistic worlds attributed to the four elements. You also have Yetzirah, the formative world, Briah, the creative world, and Atziluth, the archetypal or emanation world. In the standard arrangement Yetzirah is Air, Briah is Water, and Atziluth is Fire.

As far as the Tree of Life goes, I am working off Crowley's Naples Arrangement, which is derived from the Golden Dawn arrangement which in turn was derived from the Kircher arrangement. As has been previously discussed here on Augoeides, keep in mind that what I'm talking about here is not necessarily "THE Tree of Life," since the traditional Jewish systems use different versions of the Tree with their own attributions. Some of those match the attributions of Kircher/GD/Naples and some of them do not. So the attributions I am discussing here are those from the Thelemic system, and don't necessarily correspond to any other.

At any rate, the most logical interpretation, then, is that you would use the other elemental hexagrams when tuning your space to a planet or sign of the zodiac (since I use hexagrams for zodiac signs - some groups use pentagrams instead) in one of the three other worlds besides Assiah. But to be clear, this would still be a "Greater Hexagram" in my parlance because it is being used to tune the space to a specific magical force. According to Crowley's elemental attributions, that would mean the hexagrams would be used as follows:

Planet/Sign in AssiahEarth"Standard" Greater Ritual of the Hexagram (Earth).
Planet/Sign in YetzirahAirGreater Ritual of the Hexagram with Air hexagrams.
Planet/Sign in BriahWaterGreater Ritual of the Hexagram with Water hexagrams.
Planet/Sign in AtziluthFireGreater Ritual of the Hexagram with Fire hexagrams.

To complicate this a little more, I have also come across the works of The Philosophers of Nature, who use a system in which the elements are assigned to the four worlds in density order - swapping the attributions given above for Yezirah and Briah. One of the things my magical working group did was compare explorations of the elements in the order shown above versus in density order, and the density order turned out to be far superior. But whether that only relates to the order of the elements in Malkuth, or can be extended to the structure of the four worlds, is still hard to say. So that's one more set of attributions to test when evaluating this method.

I have no idea if this schema will work, but it seems like a reasonable enough place to start experimenting. As far as applications go, that's an open question too. According to the Naples Arrangement, each of the planets is supposed to exist in all four worlds. There are some names in Liber 777 related to Yetzirah and Briah in Table III, but little instruction as far as how to put them to use in a practical sense. Or perhaps the worlds above Assiah are more mystical in nature - but that makes them a lot more difficult to test than practical operations where you can measure probabilities.

But here's one thing I think I am going to try. Sometimes when we work magick, we come across problems that are "sticky" - that is, they are especially hard to solve for some reason besides pure probability. For example, I'm a whiz at job spells. I always have been, and I've used that ability to build a pretty successful career in the mundane world. But I also have tried to start businesses on several occasions, and for whatever reason I magick doesn't seem to help me much. There are some other areas as well that seem to behave similarly, even though from an objective standpoint they are more likely than the kinds of things I can generally make happen.

Crowley once wrote that the secret to any seemingly intractable problem was to go "up a level," whatever that means. It certainly is open to interpretation, and it should also be noted that on other occasions he warned against "mixing the planes." But what if the solution to a "sticky" problem is to attack it from the next level up - that is, a Qabalistic world above Assiah. I'm going to have a go at some of those problems and see if I can get them to work by tuning my space to Yetzirah instead of Assiah, which is what I have done up to this point for all my practical work.

If any of you would like to give this a try and report your results, that would be great. More data is always better, and experimentation is how we move the study of magick forward.

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Anonymous said...

This is very interesting! So you're basically going to use the Air hexagram in the GIRH of a planet or sign, instead of the Earth one? In that case, you would have to draw the gliph on the border between the two triangles, or something...

As for your magical rituals on starting your own business, I think (yet again LOL) you might have a predisposition inside your chart that is hindering your success in that area. Off the top, you could look at your NN placement. As i found out during my experimentations with elixirs for my physical body, it's quite hard to achieve a good result when casting against your birth chart, so to speak, no to mention achieving a permanent one. If i'm not mistaking, the birth chart has it's origins in Atziluth of Atziluth, so you would have the weight of all 4 worlds as a resistance to those spells.

Scott Stenwick said...

Since there are two possible ways to attribute the four worlds to the elements, I am going to try it with both the Air hexagram and the Water hexagram to see which works better - or for that matter, if either work at all - for Yetzirah. The glyph goes right in the center and will overlap with the figures. I still plan on keeping the colors and so forth the same to start out, but it also is true that the four scales of color are supposed to correspond to the four worlds so there might be something to that as well.

That might be true as far as my birth chart goes, but one of the points of working magick is to transcend that stuff and overcome those limitations. The idea here is to see if I can do it more easily by moving up through the worlds. If Yetzirah won't help get it done, I'll try Briah and then Atziluth. My suspicion is that if I don't see much of a change by working on Yetzirah, the other worlds probably won't improve my results either. But I'll try them nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

"There are some names in Liber 777 related to Yetzirah and Briah in Table III, but little instruction as far as how to put them to use in a practical sense."

If you are referring to columns LXXXIV and XC, the simplest thing would be to use those godnames instead of the godnames of Assiah, each for the particular Water and Air GIRH, with the right color and all that. But I think you already know this.

What confuses me is the titles Crowley had placed in each of those columns. While the first one probably has a clear indication, pointing towards their uses together with the Water GIRH, the second one seems more mysterious - The 42-gold name which revolves in the Palaces of Yetzirah. This to me indicates something different than the Divine Names of Yetzirah...

Scott Stenwick said...

Right, that would be the most logical approach. My point is just that they are not mentioned anywhere in Crowley's writings as far as instructions go for their use.

My first guess would still be to treat the names in the "42-fold name" column as the godnames for Yetzirah, but since there are no instructions anywhere it's possible that those names could refer to something else.

As with everything else, try it and see...

Anonymous said...

I don't have the time right now to study all the tables and columns, but I don't think the "42-fold name" column should be treated as the one containing the godnames of Yetzirah. I'm saying this because besides the column cotaining the godnames of Briah, there's another one containing the Palaces of Briah, namely LXXXVII.

Even more so, I'm missing any possible column that gives the names for the heavens in Briah and Yetzirah. Yet there are two columns with the names of the the heavens of Assiah: VI, scales 0 to 31bis, and XCIII, scales 3 to 10, containing the names found in the classic grimoires...

I don't know whether Crowley had written these godnames in 777 after what he had received from spirits, or after doing some Qabalistic calculations. But it seems to me that it's incomplete in these areas.

Scott Stenwick said...

From looking over the tables, it seems to me the most logical assumption would be that the "Palaces" are the equivalent of the "Heavens." But none of it is all that clear.So I probably just need to call up some spirits that might know and have a chat.

The original source for 777 was a list of correspondences assembled by the members of the original Golden Dawn that Crowley received from Alan Bennett. Much of it is compiled from various grimoire sources. For example, the zodiacal angels under "Geomantic Intelligences" are from the Magical Calendar, which you originally pointed out to me.

The main "Heavens of Assiah" column (VI) just consists of the Hebrew names for the principles ruling each sephira and path. So, for example, Levanah (9) is the Hebrew word for Moon, Kokab (8) is the Hebrew word for Mercury, Nogah (7) is the Hebrew word for Venus, and so forth. That follows the Kircher arrangement for the Sephiroth, which is from the mid-1600's, so it can be no older than that.

My guess is that the second list, XCIII, is an older list that may have come from Agrippa or one of the other sources from the 1500's when Europeans were first starting to adapt traditional Jewish Kabbalah into Christian esotericism and magick. It might be an interesting test of the effectiveness of the Kircher to try some rituals using both sets of attributions and see if either one works better.

Ade said...

A fun thing to think about is that in Sepher Yetzirah there's the mother letters aleph, mem and shin atributed to the elements of air, water and fire. There's no earth since earth presumably only exists in the material world.

Since things flow from the upper worlds down to the lower ones, one would think magick operated there could possibly be more effective (the usual explanation for the worlds is, after all, based on how you go from planning to creating something, from the first flash of inspiration down to working the details), but I guess we should be careful not to expect too much right away, since this is highly experimental, after all. I, for one, am thrilled, please keep us updated!

I'd think magick operated this way in Yetzirah would likely have to be followed by the usual Assiah ritual with the earth hexagrams to allow for the "energy" (or divine light or whatever metaphor one'd like) to flow down all the way, which would likely make it a longer ritual (imagine going through the Sun invoking hexagrams TWICE), but I'm just spit-balling here.

Anonymous said...

Before i answer on topic, there's no point to making another comment elsewhere - here's a table containing the 360 angels. Im not certain it's perfectly accurate, but it will have to do. Hope it can be of any help to you as well: http://www.sacred-magick.com/Main.html?http://www.sacred-magick.com/Evocations/Angels%20&%20Demons%20List/Angels%20Of%20The%20Degrees%20Of%20The%20Zodiac.html

You could do that - speak to the spirits. Unfortunately i have very little time to do it myself, because of my already busy magical schedule :( Besides my usual workings, now i'm being dragged into throwing curses all over the place, since more people keep asking for it, and they seem to be coming out of the woodwork :( Anyway, there has to be a reason as to why Crowley has added both a column for the Divine Names of Briah, and another one for the Palaces of Briah. But it eludes me... Initially i thought he did some sort of calculations based on the unfolding of the Tetragrammaton or AHIH (column LXXXIX), and then he derived such divine names out of those, based on numerical values of Briah - no clue here, I'm not into Qabalah that much, especially the numerical side of it. But this is why i said that i think 777 is incomplete in this area. Maybe Crowley expected people to figure it out for themselves - i would've done that if i were in his place LOL - being somewhat excentric and all that. Maybe he wanted to push their mental faculties beyond the normal boundaries, so he only left some clues here and there, like the one you mentioned about going "up a level".

As for the classic names (column XCIII), it's interesting to note that some of them somewhat resemble the names of the heavens given in the Heptameron - Maon in 777 and Machen in the Heptameron, Makhon in 777 and Machon in the Heptameron, but others are totally different. And there's also a different attribution to them. I took the liberty to provide the two as a comparison:

777 - will not them using letters instead of numbers, so it won't give the impression of the Key Scales of 777, and i wrote them from the highest to the lowest

A. Araboth - the Supernal Triad

B. Makhon - Chesed

C. Maon - Geburah

D. Zebul - Tiphareth

E. Shechaqim - Netzach

F. Raquia - Hod

G. Tebel Vilon Shamaim - Yesod and Malkuth


A: no heaven for Saturn, although Wikipedia also gives Araboth as a name for "the location of the ophanim, the seraphim, the hayyoth and the throne of the Lord" - clearly the Supernal Triad. The conjuration for Saturday also contains a mention of the seventh heaven, but without naming it: "(...)and by the names of the angels serving in the seventh host [Choir of Heaven], before [Boel], a great angel, and powerful prince; and by the name of his star, which is Saturn(...)"

B; Zebul - Jupiter

C; Machon - Mars

D: Machen - Sun

E: Sagun - Venus

F: I think Raquie - Mercury, although the Q is written more la a small A, but there'[s a similarity in the names nonetheless

G: Shamaim - Moon

I have yet to find any more mentions of the heavens in old grimoires. Trithemius doesn't seem to have mentioned them. The KoS in blank so far, from what i've read through it. I'm currently going through Agrippa, but no mention of them so far...

Hope this will not confuse you in your attempt to figure out the best ritual template.

Scott Stenwick said...

@Ade: You might think so, but what I find is that results tend to be mixed. When you are working in Assiah, you have the advantage of being close to the material plane, but when you work in Yetzirah it *can* act sort of like using a longer lever. It's sort of like the work in Yetzirah makes your level longer but its placement less precise, and work in Assiah is just the opposite. There likely is an optimal approach for any particular problem, but as far as I can tell it needs to be worked out on a case by case basis.

@Dacia: Thanks for all the info. I'll check that out.

Anonymous said...

@Scott the scholars over on the Solomonic group are silent regarding my question on Arbaoth, but one person mentioned Aravot as the seventh heaven, but says that the palaces exist beyond that. Can't copy their entire comment, so here's the link to it, in case you're interested in reading all he said. In any case, I guess Arbaoth stands.


@Ade I don't think the ritual in Yetzirah would have to be followed by another one in Assiah, or else working in Atziluth would be like running a marathon, especially if working with the Sun :)

The way I see it, the charge to the spirit should be extremely precise, no matter what world you're working in, but even more so in this case. Like in Lon Milo Duquette's exploration of the worlds with the chair store. The top floor of that building is Atziluth and deity gives an idea -rest- which manifests further down as a multitude of chairs. If you were to say "do that, like so", it will probably manifest as you intended, because all four worlds are working on it.

Desmond G. said...

Hi Scott.
And if for elemental rites I use the unicursal hexagram?
Would it be a macrocosmic elemental rite?
Because I understand that you were looking for a way to use the hexagram for elemental rites and therefore, to perform macrocosmic elemental rites.

Why did you choose the moon kamea to do the sigil of the king and did not use another sigil that had no planetary implication? In other words, dial the phone number with the rose cross of petals. Instead of Paralda in kamea of moon, then in rose cross of petals.

Scott Stenwick said...

The unicursal hexagram is in the same class as the standard elemental hexagrams. So both are macrocosmic elemental figures.

I don't personally like the rose cross sigil generator because I find it too arbitrary. With a kamea, there is a direct mathematical relationship between the name and the structure of the sigil. But if you want to use the rose cross method, go ahead. I just don't use it.

The reason I go with the Moon is because it is the final dispositor of astrological energy and also because it is the ruler of the elemental realm, just like the Sun is the ruler of the planetary realm.

Alex said...

Hi Scott,

Did you have a chance to figure out the Hexagram rituals with other worlds the Assiah by now? Did you find any correlation? Thank you, that would of a great interest to my research.

Scott Stenwick said...

As far as I can tell, trying to work with them in the other worlds doesn't work very well. It certainly doesn't seem to help with anything practical - which I suppose makes sense, given that Assiah is more properly the material world. As for visions and like, it's hard to evaluate one against the other because they are so subjective.

Maybe I need to work with it more to reach a firm conclusion, but so far I don't think I can help you out much. What I've tried so far seems to give far less consistent results than the standard method of using them in Assiah.