Monday, February 29, 2016

An Analysis of the Star Sapphire

When I originally sat down to write this article, I figured that it would be kind of long, or at least longer than the articles I usually post here. Generally I try to shy away from TL;DR territory here on Augoeides, and I try to make my posts as compact as I can. Sometimes, as with news stories, that's easy. On the other hand, sometimes I wind up with an article like this one that is way longer than I expected when I started writing it. Magicians sometimes talk about how the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, while simple, combines so many different elements of magical work that a detailed analysis can be quite lengthy. As I discovered, the Star Sapphire has similar depth, so I wound up going further down the rabbit hole than I intended when I started working on explaining all the symbolism. Still, I'm proud of the result and I hope it will help those looking for more detailed instructions on how to perform this ritual.

I would like to thank Ixel Balamke for explaining a variation on this ritual that is different than what I present here, but which also involves using wine as the Sacrament. I hadn't previously considered adding a physical eucharistic component to the ceremonial performance of the Star Sapphire, but it does fit the text better than any other step I've seen suggested over the years. That suggestion is what first got me thinking in this direction. I would also like to thank Squid and the other attendees of Leaping Laughter Lodge's ritual workshop nights, who helped me to iron out some of the bits and pieces and justify my interpretation of each step. I would also like to stress that this is by no means an "initiated interpretation" of this ritual based on the system of any particular order or organization. It is simply a very thorough analysis derived from publicly available texts and my own personal experimentats and opinions.

Aleister Crowley's Star Sapphire ritual is one of the most difficult rituals to work out in the entire Thelemic canon. It's not that the ritual instructions are difficult so much as they are so frustratingly vague. Recently I've been experimenting with variations on it at our local Leaping Laughter Lodge ritual workshops, and I think I have finally hit on a detailed set of instructions that correspond to Crowley's description of the rite and are suitable for individual ceremonial work.

The Star Sapphire is Crowley's version of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, just as the Star Ruby is his version of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. He described the latter as an "improved" version of the pentagram ritual, so I think it's safe to say that he probably considered the Star Sapphire an improved hexagram ritual as well. It is certainly true that both rituals incorporate more Thelemic symbolism than the Golden Dawn rituals that Crowley sought to improve.

The dynamic of the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire is one of the pieces of evidence I like to cite for Crowley's use of the operant field. He didn't call it that, of course, but I am of the opinion that from the design of the two rituals, the Star Ruby is essentially a banishing ritual and the Star Sapphire is essentially an invoking ritual. Banishing is implied by the widdershins motion of the Star Ruby, while invoking is implied by the deosil motion of the Star Sapphire. Also, the description of the Holy Hexagram in The Book of Lies strongly alludes to the invoking character of the latter rite.

I expect that Crowley worked out what I have found over the years - once you start seriously performing magick, it is rare that you use an invoking lesser pentagram or a banishing lesser hexagram. Some of the Golden Dawn schools disagree with this statement, but when you think about it, the rationale behind it makes sense. If your goal is to influence the macrocosmic or external world, why would you banish the very macrocosmic forces you hope to influence by means of a banishing hexagram?

With the operant field method, you banish at the microcosmic level, represented by the pentagram, and invoke at the macrocosmic level, represented by the hexagram. The microcosmic banishing "clears space" within your field of awareness, and the macrocosmic invocation fills that space with symbolic representations of the forces of nature that operate in the external material world. And the structures of the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire line up nicely with this method as Crowley originally wrote them.

Two weeks ago I posted on Operant Fields and Goetic Circles, noting that the design of the traditional circle from the Lemegeton mirrors the idea of the operant field by placing pentagrams at the exterior of the circle and hexagrams within it. Again, the image of inverting microcosmic and macrocosmic elements appears as a metaphor for magical consciousness. Under normal circumstances, we our thoughts remain internal and personal. But when performing magick, we seek to impress those thoughts upon the external world around us.

It is true that Crowley never explicitly equated the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, describing them instead as "improved" versions of the pentagram and hexagram rituals. But as they are general in character, I'm comfortable making that association. I also have experimented with both of them, and as far as I can tell they form an operant field in the same manner as the Lesser Pentagram and Lesser Hexagram do.

As I see it, in the Golden Dawn tradition "Lesser" means "General" and "Greater" means "Specific" - that is, the Greater rituals are used for invoking and banishing specific planets, elements, and signs of the zodiac. I occasionally see people talking as if "Lesser" means "Lame" and "Greater" means "Awesome," but this is simply not the case. And both the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire are general rituals, of the pentagram and hexagram respectively.

The Star Sapphire corresponds to the Star Ruby, and as such should always follow it, just as the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram always follows the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. As this piece is about the Star Sapphire, I will assume that the reader is already familiar with that ritual and has performed it before implementing these instructions. The text of the Star Sapphire as given by Crowley, with my commentary and instructions, follows.

Let the Adept be armed with his Magick Rood [and provided with his mystic rose].

In the Golden Dawn tradition, the hexagram rituals were only taught to initiates who had attained the grade of Adeptus Minor (5=6) and higher. I believe that "Adept" refers to this tradition, as only an Adept would be performing a hexagram ritual of any sort. Today, though, non-Adepts perform rites like the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram all the time, so I think it is completely reasonable to perform the Star Sapphire without being a member of this grade.

As I discuss in more detail below, Adept consciousness is closely related to transpersonal realization. Some of the old texts make it sound like "becoming an Adept" is a singular event, after which this sort of awareness is somehow completely stabilized. But modern practitioners such as Ken Wilber point out that long before that, it can still be accessed from time to time.

Peak experiences involving otherwise non-spiritual people are good examples of this. Also, the Buddhist tradition has many stories of such experiences involving beginning meditators. Enlightenment - that is, expanded realization - can strike at any time. The difference between an Adept and a non-Adept practitioner is the degree to which this realization is integrated into regular life on an ongoing basis.

So it seems to me that if you're a magical practitioner and want to be an Adept, performing magical rituals designed to cultivate that realization is a good way to go about it. In effect, you "fake it 'til you make it." Failed magical operations are hardly ever dangerous. Usually the worst that will happen is absolutely nothing - that is, the ritual simply fails to produce the desired effect.

To summarize all that, my feeling is that if you are not an Adept but feel drawn to perform the Star Sapphire, go for it. You're not going to hurt yourself, and you might be surprised by how well it works.

To move on, the rest of this instruction is the first of many allusions to the ritual as a sex magick operation. "Magick Rood" and "Mystic Rose" could certainly refer to the sex organs of the two participants if this ritual is being performed by a couple as a sexual rite. One interpretation of this ritual went so far as to assert that the proper way to perform is for the couple to have sex at each of the four quarters and once more at the center to conclude the ritual!

Now that does sound fun, but I suspect it's rather impractical for most people. For individual temple practice, especially on a daily basis, it makes more sense to me to enact the operation symbolically. Since Crowley's Gnostic Mass is a symbolic sex magick ritual, some clues can be taken from that rite that I think can be applied here.

In the Gnostic Mass, the "Magick Rood" would almost certainly represent the lance wielded by the Priest. Likewise, the "Mystic Rose" would refer to the chalice held by the Priestess. In the context of symbolic ceremonial work, then, the "Magick Rood" would refer to the wand and the "Mystic Rose" would refer to the cup. So when I perform this ritual, I place a cup filled with wine or juice on the altar along with the wand.

In the center, let him give the L.V.X. signs, or if he knows them, if he will and dare do them, and can keep silent about them, the signs of N.O.X. being the signs of Puer, Vir, Puella, Mulier. Omit the sign I.R.

My operant model of magick divides the Tree of Life into three sections. This is now alluding to my own work, not Crowley's, though he has probably influenced the development of it more than any other person. The first section, below the Veil of Paroketh, includes Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malkuth. I refer to this section as the personal field. This region corresponds to the microcosm as the term is generally used - the internal, individual field of consciousness or awareness.

The second section extends from the Veil of the Abyss to the Veil of Paroketh, and includes Chesed, Geburah, and Tiphareth. I refer to this region as the transpersonal field. This region corresponds to the macrocosm as the term is generally used, though the entire Tree above the Veil of Paroketh is macrocosmic in nature.

A person operating from the perspective of transpersonal realization has internalized the understanding that his or her field of consciousness or awareness includes all that is perceived, and therefore does not end at the boundary of his or her mind or body. This sort of realization corresponds to the grade of Adept, and is employed to produce practical magical effects.

Finally, the third region lies above the Veil of the Abyss and includes Kether, Chockmah, and Binah - the three supernals. I refer to this region as the cosmic field, since it represents the field of consciousness spanning the entire universe as a whole. Stabilization of cosmic realization corresponds to the grade of Magister Templi.

In the Golden Dawn the Signs of L.V.X. represented entry in the sphere of Tiphareth and therefore realization of the transpersonal realm. When Crowley added the N.O.X. signs, he attributed them to the spheres from Geburah upwards to Binah. That is, they represent a symbolic crossing of the Veil of the Abyss.

Therefore, according to my model you would begin the Star Sapphire with the signs of L.V.X. for transcending the Veil of Paroketh, and with the signs of N.O.X. for transcending the Veil of the Abyss. In practice, this generally means L.V.X. for practical magical work and N.O.X. for mystical work, which would include regular daily practice.

Note that the N.O.X. signs are given here in a specific order that does not correspond to their "letter order" that most people us in the Star Ruby. The order that most people seem to give them in the Star Ruby is as shown here, with the elemental attributions found in Liber Reguli:

N - Puella - Air
   - Puer - Fire
O - Vir - Earth
X - Mulier - Water
   - Mater Triumphans (Isis Rejoicing)- Spirit

It is not clear whether Puella or Puer goes first in the "letter order." One of the things I realized when I was working this out, though, is that if you switch the order so that Puer is first, you get a counter-clockwise circle starting in the south that follows the microcosmic "winds" model of the elements, where Fire is in the south, Air is in the east, Earth is in the north, and Water is in the west.

So from an operant field standpoint, that might be a better way to go with the Star Ruby, as the ritual itself makes a widdershins circle around the temple and is a pentagram - that, microcosmic - banishing rite. This becomes even more interesting when you compare it with the order given for the Star Sapphire.

   - Puer - Fire
O - Vir - Earth
N - Puella - Air
X - Mulier - Water

The zodiac or macrocosmic model of the elements, as used in the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, places Fire in the East, Earth in the South, Air in the West, and Water in the north. So as you can see, the order here starts in the east and represents a deosil walk of the quarters - just as you do when making the hexagrams! So clearly, this order was not accidental.

Furthermore, the spheres to which these signs allude map out the path taken by one who aspires to become a Magister Templi. The L.V.X. signs correspond to Tiphareth. Puer corresponds to Geburah, Vir to Chesed, and both Puella and Mulier to the Babe of the Abyss. Finally, at the culmination of the rite, Set Triumphant corresponds to Binah above the Abyss.

For a number of years I did the Star Ruby using this order, but recently I have switched to the more "standard" one I gave above. In light of how switching Puer and Puella yield a widdershins circle, though, changing the N.O.X. signs that I give in the Star Ruby to that order is next on my list.

The sign of Mater Triumphans (I.R.) is not performed here, but rather at the center following the hexagrams, in the form of the sign of Set Triumphant. From an elemental standpoint, it still represents Spirit, which equilibrates the other four elements, and thus corresponds to the charging of the cup. This sign is given whether you opened the ritual with the signs of L.V.X. or the signs of N.O.X.

Then let him advance to the East and make the Holy Hexagram, saying: Pater et Mater unus deus Ararita.

The Holy Hexagram is explained in The Book of Lies, which is where the Star Sapphire was also first published. The Star Sapphire is Chapter 36, and the Holy Hexagram is explained in Chapter 69. This is another sex magick allusion, but in addition it explains how the figure should look along with the interpretation thereof.

This is the Holy Hexagram.

Plunge from the height, O God, and interlock with Man!

Plunge from the height, O Man, and interlock with Beast!

The Red Triangle is the descending tongue of grace; the Blue Triangle is the ascending tongue of prayer

This Interchange, the Double Gift of Tongues, the Word of Double Power - ABRAHADABRA! - is the sign of the GREAT WORK, for the GREAT WORK is accomplished in silence. And behold is not that word equal to Cheth, that is Cancer, whose sigil is

This Work also eats up itself, accomplishes its end, nourishes the worker, leaves no seed, is perfect in itself.

Little children, love one another!

Crowley further explains in the commentary in the chapter:

This chapter alludes to Levi's drawing of the Hexagram, and is a criticism of, or improvement upon, it. In the ordinary Hexagram, the Hexagram of nature, the red triangle is upwards, like fire, and the blue triangle downwards, like water. In the magical hexagram this is reversed; the descending red triangle is that of Horus, a sign specially revealed by him personally, at the Equinox of the Gods. (it is the flame descending upon the altar, licking up the offering.) The blue triangle represents the aspiration, since blue is the color of devotion, and the triangle, kinetically considered, is the symbol of directed force.

In the first three paragraphs this formation of the hexagram is explained; it is a symbol of the mutual separation of the Holy Guardian Angel and his client. In the interlocking is indicated the completion of the work.

I believe that the first few lines correspond to the two possible forms of the Star Sapphire. "Plunge from the height, O God, and interlock with Man" refers to cosmic realization. "O God" refers to the Qabalistic parts of the soul that reside above the Abyss, which descend to interlock with the Ruach of the Master of the Temple.

Likewise, "Plunge from the height, O Man, and interlock with Beast" refers to transpersonal realization, in which the full Ruach of the Adept, spanning the Veil of Paroketh from Chesed to Yesod, interlocks with the Nephesh or animal soul that corresponds to Malkuth. This may be one reason that "The Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel or of Adonai" is the mystical vision associated with that particular sphere.

The image of the Holy Hexagram given here is straightforward. It consists of a downwards-pointing red triangle and an upwards-pointing blue triangle, and the two are interlocked. Thus, the figure is that of the Hexagram of Earth or Star of David, just like the Golden Dawn Hexagram of Nature. The only difference is the inversion of red and blue on the two triangles. Both the Hexagram of Nature and the Holy Hexagram are shown and labeled as such in the image at the top of this article.

A number of commenters have suggested that the Star Sapphire should use the same hexagrams as the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, but this does not make sense. While all of the "lesser hexagrams" are made up of two triangles, only in the case of the Hexagram of Earth do they interlock. And the Lesser Hexagram of Fire does not even include a downward-pointing triangle.

Likewise, others have suggested the unicursal hexagram rather than the Hexagram of Earth, but while the unicursal hexagram interlocks, it is not made up of two triangles so the commentary does not apply. The Hexagram of Earth is the only figure that fits both qualifications, and therefore I am convinced that it is the figure that should be traced to all four directions. (But see my update at the bottom - according to OTO archives, Crowley did teach the Holy Hexagram as unicursal to Charles Stansfield Jones. So this assertion appears to be incorrect on my part.)

Let him go round to the South, make the Holy Hexagram and say: Mater et Filius unus deus Ararita.

Let him go round to the West, make the Holy Hexagram and say: Filius et Filia unus deus Ararita.

Let him go round to the North, make the Holy Hexagram and say: Filia et Pater unus deus Ararita.

The four phrases mean "Father and Mother are one god ARARITA," "Mother and Son are one god ARARITA," "Son and Daughter are one god ARARITA," and "Daughter and Father are one god ARARITA." ARARITA is the same word of power used in the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, and represents unification. It is a Notariqon or acronym for a Hebrew phrase that translates to "One is His Beginning, One is His Individuality, His Permutation is One" or something similar.

In effect, what this means is that the cross-quarters of the ritual, starting in the northeast, would be associated with these figures following the order of the letters of Tetragrammaton.

Father - Yod - Northeast
Mother - Heh - Southeast
Son - Vav - Southwest
Daughter - Heh final - Northwest

The progression follows this order, and concludes with the unification of Father and Daughter. That is, as Crowley writes elsewhere, "the daughter shall be placed upon the throne of the father." Returning to the East thus completes the circle.

The starting point for the Hexagram of Earth is the top point, so that it is traced like the Hexagram of Saturn. It is a reasonable interpretation to trace from the top point for all four hexagrams, but I have introduced a variation related to the use of the cup of wine, since the wand represents the active polarity and the cup the receptive polarity.

I represent this by starting from the top point - that is, placing the point of the wand higher than the cup - if the combination begins with a male figure, and starting from the bottom point - with the point of the wand below the level of the cup - if the combination begins with a female figure.

Let him then return to the Centre, and so to the Centre of All (making the Rosy Cross as he may know how) saying Ararita Ararita Ararita (in this the Signs shall be those of Set Triumphant and of Baphomet. Also shall Set appear in the circle. Let him drink of the Sacrament and let him communicate the same.)

This is the vaguest instruction in the entire ritual, and required some experimentation on my part. Presumably these instructions can be applied in a fairly straightforward manner if the ritual is being performed a sex magick operation, but even so, "also shall Set appear in the circle" is still not very clear.

To break these steps down, from the last hexagram continue on to the east so that the circle is complete and keep going deosil back to the center, that is, so you are standing to the west of the altar that holds the cup facing east. Then you must in some fashion trace the symbol of the Rosy Cross, which is a cross overlaid with a circle, as you repeat ARARITA three times.

In my experience, there are practically as many ways to do this as there are magicians. In my experiments, though, I think I have worked out a method which is ideal for performing as a symbolic sex magick rite.

1. Begin with the wand pointing downward at the center of the cup. With the first syllable of the first Ararita, trace from the center of the cup to the northeast. With the second, trace from the northeast back to the cup. With the third, trace from the cup to the southwest, and with the fourth and final syllable trace from the southwest back to the cup. This links the Father with the Son, according to the cross-quarter attributions above.
2. With the first syllable of the second Ararita, trace from the center of the cup to the southeast. With the second, trace from the southeast back to the cup. With the third, trace from the cup to the northwest, and with the fourth and final syllable trace from the northwest back to the cup. This links the Mother with the Daughter.
3. Point the wand to the northeast. With the first syllable of the third Ararita, trace from the northeast to the southeast. With the second, trace from the southeast to the southwest. With the third, trace from the southwest to the northwest, and with the fourth and final syllable trace from the northwest to the northeast. This circle recapitulates that made while tracing the hexagrams.

This diagram shows the entire design viewed from above, and how the rose cross thus traced unites the four figures at the cross-quarters that represent the letters of Tetragrammaton.

4. When you reach the northeast continue clockwise in a spiral around the altar that moves inward until it returns to the cup.

5. Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, and exhale as you depress the wand into the cup. Visualize the energy raised by the rite crystalizing into the contents of the cup, creating the Sacrament. This corresponds to the HRILIU moment in the Gnostic Mass.

In fact, employing this word of power from the Gnostic Mass or any other elements from the "Mystic Marriage" portion of the rite might represent another opportunity to experiment with modifying the ritual. Crowley writes that when he first met with Theodor Reuss, Reuss pointed out a chapter of The Book of Lies that he believed contained the "supreme secret" of OTO. I have heard that the chapter in question was supposed to be the Star Sapphire, though I have not been able to track down a statement by Crowley to that effect. The Gnostic Mass, likewise, was created to dramatize this same secret.

Once the charging of the Sacrament is complete, you make the Sign of Set Triumphant (Mater Triumphans/Isis Rejoicing). As I mentioned above, this sign alludes to Binah, the sphere corresponding to the grade of Magister Templi. According to Crowley's writings, in order to become a Magister Templi the Adept must empty his blood into the cup of Babalon without holding back one drop. This is represented symbolically by the crystalization of the energy raised by the rite into the cup.

There has been some argument over whether Mater Triumphans is the proper sign for "Set Triumphant," and it has been suggested that an error was made at some point in transcribing this ritual. Some online commenters have proposed that it should instead be the Sign of Apophis and Typhon, as that seems more appropriate to "Set Triumphant" in the context of the Osiris myth. However, in the context of this analysis I think Mater Triumphans is correct because of its allusion to the creation of the magical child, and its association with Binah/Saturn.

And thus, Set appears in the circle. Set in this context refers to the practitioner, who is symbolically transformed by the Star Sapphire operation. Set corresponds to Saturn, the planet attributed to Binah, and he was also the god of boundaries and liminal spaces in the ancient Egyptian cosmology. For one who has transcended the Veil of Paroketh or the Veil of the Abyss, this is a highly appropriate image.

So referring to Mater Triumphans as Set Triumphant in this context refers to the practitioner, who has become Set by virtue of the creation of a magical child - the Sacrament.

Set then partakes of the Sacrament when you drink the cup of wine or juice, which is what you do at this point. Then, having consumed the union of active and receptive polarities, you give the Sign of Baphomet (or Mulier), which represents the union of opposites and the merging of microcosm and macrocosm at either the transpersonal (Adept) or cosmic (Magister Templi) levels. It is referred to here as the Sign of Baphomet because of this latter association.

I generally hold the Sign of Baphomet as I make the following declaration.

Then let him say: Omni in Duos: Duos in Unum: Unus in Nihil: Haec Nec Quatuor nec Omni nec Duo nec Unus nec Nihil Sunt. Gloria Patri et Matri et Filio et Filiae et Spiritui Sancto externo et Spiritui Sancto interno ut erat est erit in saecula Saeculorum sex in uno per nomen Septem in uno Ararita.

The first sentence translates to something like "Many in two, two in one, one in none. But these are neither many, nor two, nor one, nor none." As the cup of Babalon has been emptied, not even nothingness remains.

The second sentence translate to something like "Glory to the Father and the Mother and the Son and the Daughter and the external Holy Spirit and the internal Holy Spirit as was, is and ever shall be in the world, six in one by the name of seven in one ARARITA" This recapitulates once more the unification of the various elements of the rite.

UPDATE: While the above is the translation given by most editors, I have been informed by a reliable source that the correct meaning of this sentence is slightly different.

Crowley writes in Step 9:

Without naming names, I have noticed that the Latin is almost always incorrectly translated into English by editors as:

“All in Two, Two in One, One in Nothingness, These are neither Four nor All nor Two nor One nor Nothing.”

However, the way the number words are written, the correct translation would be:

“All into Two, Two into One, One into Nothing. These are neither Four nor All nor Two nor One nor Nothing.”

This is because the word IN can mean either “in” or “into,” depending on how the word connected with it is inflected (that is, spelled). IN UNUM would mean "into one," whereas IN UNO means "in one."

This is a neat piece of insight because it reflects Liber Ararita Chapter VII, which describes a process by which the Fire Qadosh dissolves "All and One and Naught" in the context of the principle word of power associated with this ritual.

Let him then repeat the signs of L.V.X., but not the signs of N.O.X.: for it is not he that shall arise in the Sign of Isis Rejoicing.

This then means that if the magician began with the Signs of L.V.X. they should be repeated here. One interpretation I have heard is that it means you always should end with the Signs of L.V.X. no matter how you began the rite, but this doesn't make sense with the word "repeat." The Signs of L.V.X. can only be repeated if they have been previously given. But if you began with the Signs of N.O.X., the ritual simply ends here.

For an Adept, the assumption of the form of Set is temporary, a state of consciousness that is maintained for the duration of this ritual. The consciousness of the Adept will always re-stabilize at Tiphareth, represented by the repetition of the L.V.X. signs. Likewise, those who aspire to transpersonal consciousness should ceremonially reposition themselves there.

But for the Magister Templi, who has transcended both mundane and transpersonal realization to apprehend the cosmos as a whole, it is not meaningful to speak of such an individual arising as him or herself in the mundane sense. Instead, Crowley speaks of a "star cast forth" from the Body of Nuit which from that point forward takes the place of the Adept's mundane consciousness.

None of this should imply that a single performance of this ritual represents the Crossing of the Abyss. I've performed it myself countless times and do not consider myself a Magister Templi. Crowley does write, though, that a good preparation for Crossing the Abyss "in the actual" is to practice crossing it "in the imagination." So it seems to me for anyone who aspires to one day attain the realization of a Magister Templi that the regular performance of the Star Sapphire with the Signs of N.O.X. should prove quite effective, as it dramatizes the entire process in a relatively concise ritual framework.

For those of you who stuck with this article all the way to the end, I thank you for your patience and I hope that you find these insights helpful in your own practice of this ritual. It should be pointed out that given the vague directions, there are many possible interpretations and it's hard to say for sure exactly what Crowley had in mind when he wrote it. Still, I think the directions I give here conform to the ritual as written and work well in a ceremonial context.

UPDATE: I have made a couple of updates to this article based on feedback from members of the Thelema group on Facebook. To all who offered critiques, I thank you. Peer review is something we do not have enough of in the magical community.

In addition, based on the comment below from David Jones, it sounds like OTO has some additional information in its archives that goes against my interpretation of the the Earth hexagram as the Holy Hexagram. According to correspondence between Crowley and Charles Stansfield Jones (Frater Achad), Crowley did teach the Holy Hexagram as the unicursal. So that should put to rest both my Earth hexagram interpretation and the interpretation that you should use the figures from the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram. Given the other information in The Book of Lies, I imagine that the unicursal Holy Hexagram would look something like this:

The unicursal hexagram is in my opinion the perfect symbol of the macrocosmic elements, better in that regard than the Lesser Hexagram figures. As the top and bottom points are allocated to the Sun and Moon and the other four to the classical elements, it provides a cleaner rationale for my practice of tracing from the top point when starting with a male figure and tracing from the bottom point when starting with a female figure, as that begins with either the Sun or Moon point that corresponds to the "leading" figure for the quarter.

If anything, it makes the Star Sapphire look more similar to my personal version of the Lesser Hexagram, which does employ the unicursal.

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Choronzon Club aka David R. Jones said...

I don't know if you have ever taken a look at the Crowley - C. S. Jones correspondence in the O.T.O. Microfilm collection (Roll 5 of the OTO's Reels in Aleister Crowley papers, the microfilm edition : release 1 Worldcat oclc #52940569), but Crowley has some interesting details on both the execution of NOX signs and the formulation of the hexagram - even I was a bit surprised - it is exactly as it says it is in the ritual but not how we would seem to see it at first sight, and the hexagram is indubitably unicursal.

Scott Stenwick said...

As I mentioned over on G+, I have not seen those. Crowley teaching the Holy Hexagram as unicursal means that I was wrong in that analysis, so I will be updating the post to reflect that.

That's actually a good thing - I like the symbolism of the unicursal for the Star Sapphire better than that of the Earth hexagram, but just didn't think it fit the Book of Lies description.

Unknown said...

Sorry if my question post twice. Whats your thoughts on doing the star ruby and the banishing ritual of the hexagram together? Being that you walk both clock and counterclock wise with these two rituals. Please any feedback on doing these two together is much appreciated thank you

Scott Stenwick said...

I like to keep the systems I am working with consistent, so I can't say that I've tried. But I expect it should work from a technical standpoint. Like the LRP, the Star Ruby works with the microcosm. Like the Star Sapphire, the LRH works with the macrocosm.

Clockwise and counter-clockwise together is fine. The Star Sapphire goes clockwise, just like the LRH, so there's no difference in that respect.

Philip said...

"Banishing is implied by the widdershins motion of the Star Ruby, while invoking is implied by the deosil motion of the Star Sapphire" Some people claim the LBRP should be counterclockwise for that reason. Either because that's what the Golden Dawn practiced or because it would improve the ritual. Would you agree?

Scott Stenwick said...

No, for two reasons. First, in the Star Ruby the pentagrams are flung rather than traced, so there is no tracing step in the ritual that corresponds to banishing versus invoking. Instead of using the tracing, Crowley incorporated widdershins movement around the circle. But the tracing does this just fine by itself in the LRP.

Second, I've experimented with this idea myself and as far as I can tell it makes no difference. If you would rather do your LBRP widdershins I suppose you can, as long as you keep the godnames in the same quarters and so forth. But it doesn't seem to make the ritual work any better as far as I could tell.

Unknown said...

Hi, so after the formulation of a hexagram, it is charged with vibrating ararita while doing the sign of the enterer? What sign is given after the charging? Would it be the appropriate grade sign? Or the sign of the rending of the veil?

Scott Stenwick said...

Personally I trace while vibrating and do not make any signs. If you are going to use the Enterer when charging, though, you should make the Sign of Silence afterwards because those two signs go together. The Rending of the Veil and/or grade signs are not used with the Greater Hexagram.

Desmond G. said...

Excellent article Mr Scott. I loved it and also the performance on youtube.
Just a question. Although it sounds irrelevant. Why did Crowley call this rite the star sapphire? Today I saw this rite but with the holy hexagram in blue (sapphire). At a certain point, blue may even be right. The ruby star in red (ruby) and the sapphire in blue (sapphire).
I understand that you use two colors in the star sapphire for polarity reasons, but couldn't the polarity problem already be solved, since we have previously made the ruby star in red and now the sapphire in blue?
I hope I haven't caused any problems.
All the best.
Thanks for your attention.

Scott Stenwick said...

You certainly could experiment with that. It does not fit Crowley's description of the Holy Hexagram, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't necessarily work. You probably have to try it and see. My opinion is that the name itself comes from the precious stone associations in Liber 777.

Star Ruby is Chockmah and Star Sapphire is Binah. So the combination of the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire allude to the interaction of those two supernal sephiroth reflected into the manifest universe.

Desmond G. said...

Thank you very much for your reply Mr. Scott. I will read the links you have sent me.
All the best.

NubbyNubkins said...

Hello Mr. Stenwick. As always, I've loved reading your material. As I was looking through this for experimental reasons, I saw your reverse polarities explanation and it drew me to the correlation of Kundalini practices. I have often heard it explained to people and other students as the reversing of the natural energies. I was wondering what your opinion would be in this context seeing as Crowley was quite knowledgeable in this.

NubbyNubkins said...

I had just noticed the original comment here that you were responding too and have tried this to some degree. My original thought on this was to separate the Tree of Life into 3 + 1 components in a manner that would follow with path working. I started off with the lbrp and lhr. Then did both star rituals. Then did enochian rituals. I really felt that things were over charged and probably chaotic. However, doing all three gave the temple an automatic feeling of rising beyond. Not sure what beyond but nothing I'm familiar with. Regardless, I stopped these practices a long while back as they seemed to not have a specified purpose. It was more on the position of why have extra when they do nothing to add to the ritual. Interesting experience though.

Scott Stenwick said...

I think that what Crowley was most likely talking about with respect to inversion has to do with the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm. In the "natural" arrangement, microcosm is within and macrocosm is without. The inversion of that would be macrocosm within, microcosm without. Experimentally I find that this creates a "field" in which the microcosm and macrocosm are conjoined by means of this inversion. Crowley never laid this out as plainly as I do with respect to the operant field and so forth, but it's clear to me from his writings that he was thinking about it at least somewhat along those lines.

I don't see any technical point in doing LBRP/LIRH and then Star Ruby/Star Sapphire. Those combinations do pretty much the same thing. Star Ruby/Star Sapphire add some elements not found in the LRP and LRH, so that's a possible reason for doing them instead. But you really don't need both. Also, in my opinion anything Enochian is really only appropriate for doing Enochian work specifically. As I see it, there's no point in doing some sort of Enochian opening otherwise.