Monday, June 19, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Hod

This article is Part Seven 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, and Part Six can be found here.

Working with sephira Hod is the seventh step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the eighth sephira is attributed to Mercury, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of Splendour." This corresponds to the vision of Ezekiel found in the Bible. The word Hod means splendor or majesty, and in working with this sephira we expand upon the material foundation developed in our work with Malkuth, the Kingdom, and Yesod, the Foundation, further into the magical universe.

The sephira 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.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. 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.

There are a few prerequisites for moving on from working with Yesod to working with Hod. The biggest one, as I brought up in the previous post, is that you should be handling your shit. The various magical schools and orders go on about "balancing your personality" and so forth while working through the elements, but what really matters is whether or not you can deal with external issues as they come up.

As I see it, it doesn't matter how balanced your personality is if your life is in complete disarray. Conversely, putting your life in order is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this sort of personality work - and it has the added benefit that your life gets put in order. Basically, it's a win-win. The material and spiritual should not thought of as adversaries, but rather two sides of the same metaphysical coin.

The big thing that you should have developed working with Yesod is some understanding of your conditioning and some awareness of conditioning loops that have become maladaptive in your life. Some teachers call this the "reactive mind," but it's not a mind at all as we commonly understand the term. It is more like a machine, a computer program, or a robot. The entire point here is that the condition system has no ability to judge whether or not a conditioning loop is appropriate. It simply tries to repeat behaviors for which it was reinforced in the past.

You don't need to entirely master your conditioning before moving on - that can be a lifelong pursuit. You should basically be able to handle it, though. If your conditioning is wreaking havoc in your life, you should focus on getting it under control before trying to work any higher on the Tree of Life.

As I've mentioned previously, my system is not a classical Gnostic escape from matter, but rather a skillful means by which the material and spiritual worlds can be turned to your advantage. So in the course of getting the work down I expect you to be doing practical magick in addition to all the necessary mundane actions required for success right away. It is most coherent at this point to stick with elemental operations if you can. My elemental work operations can be found here.

Now if that makes you feel "stuck" because you really, really think you need to do a planetary operation to get something that will put your Kingdom in order, keep in mind that in magick every complete system is a reflection of every other. So the elements reflect the planets, the planets reflect the signs, and so forth. You can use elemental operations to mimic the powers associated with planetary operations as follows:

Earth - Money, finances, employment (Jupiter, Sun).
Water - Love and relationships (Venus).
Air - Healing and divination (Mercury, Moon).
Fire - Cursing and protection (Saturn, Mars).

Try it out, and I think you will see what I'm talking about. The four elemental kings are powerful spirits, and they can accomplish a lot. But remember - magick is no substitute for mundane actions! I emphasize, because so many people miss that point, on the Internet and elsewhere. That probably is one reason that unlike me, most of the magical teachers and schools out there don't teach practical magick right away.

Magick does make all of your mundane actions go better and more smoothly, and when you use it you'll find success much more quickly. But it's all based on probability. For example, a magical ritual usually won't bring you a job if you never send out a resume. The key is to understand that you take mundane actions to make the outcome you want as likely as possible, and you use magick to make sure the remaining odds fall in your favor.

These two sides of practical operations should always work together. When you rely and magick and take only minimal mundane actions, you are making success a lot harder than it needs to be. Remember, we're not trying to escape the physical, we're trying to transform it into a proper vehicle for the manifestation of our individual wills.

Before moving on to Hod you should have, as a minimum, performed the Yesod Rite of Approach and the Yesod Elixir Rite. As a prerequisite to those, you should have performed the Rites of Approach and Elixir Rites for Malkuth in their microcosmic and macrocosmic forms. As a prerequisite to that, you should have performed both rites for all four elements. So that makes fourteen total rituals to get to this point, at a minimum. You will get the best results if you can obtain initiation into each element during the Rites of Approach, and then sealing those initiations with a subsequent Elixir Rite - however long it takes for the spirits to decide you are ready.

It should also be pointed out that if you have already obtained viable initiation into the elements by means of another tradition - and there are many that offer it in their initial grades - you might be able to do the Rite of Approach, have the spirit confirm your initiation, and then do the Elixir Rite to seal it. There really are no guarantees. Some practitioners meet with success right away, while for others it can take a lot longer.

You may also wish to seek initiation into a magical order or tradition at this point, if it be your will. I'm not familiar with all the systems out there, and some of them may not be entire compatible with this schema, or be led by teachers who disagree with my approach. In the A.'.A.'. and Golden Dawn schemas, The Zelator grade corresponds to Yesod. So if you want a formal initiation into Yesod before moving on to Hod, that's the kind of initiation you should be looking for.

Hod represents the thinking function and the declarative mind. It is the counterpart to Netzach, which represents the feeling function and the emotions. Together these two sephira may considered the "conscious mind," or more accurately, "the mind." The latter is more accurate because "the unconscious" - basically the conditioning system - shares few qualities with "mind" as the term is generally understood. Macrocosmically, Hod corresponds to the planet Mercury, which rules writing, communication, science, and also healing. The study of logic is important at this phase in the process, since logical fallacies and the like can undermine your ability to accurately gauge your magical progress and successes.

The Golden Dawn and A.'.A.'. systems associate Hod with the element of Water, but as I see it Water is more appropriate to Yesod, the Moon, Air is more appropriate to Hod. Anyway, I'm not that fond of those elemental attributions in general, because the elements are more properly attributed to Malkuth. Mercury rules two signs of the zodiac - Gemini (diurnal, mutable Air) and Virgo (nocturnal, mutable Earth). So its nature is fundamentally mutable, and in fact a good way to think about Mercury's basic function is that it translates (mutability) ideas (Air) into practical applications (Earth).

Whether you're taking up practical magick right away or pursuing the initiatory path right away, my basic recommendations are pretty much the same. First, take up a daily magical practice, which I discuss here and here. Meditation is important as well, especially for any form of mystical work.

In at least one of those older articles I talk about keeping meditation and ceremonial work separate. That's a precaution that I no longer think is necessary. Instead, you can do a single practice session that includes both. Go through your entire ceremonial practice sequence, sit and meditate for about twenty minutes, and then seal your practice with a concluding Qabalistic Cross. It works just fine that way. The whole thing will take you maybe half an hour a day, not even as long as watching a regular television program.

And let me caution you about extending your practice - and particularly your meditation - much beyond that. Pushing yourself to meditate for hours a day will probably not make your progress much faster, and I find that students who try to do this against my advice inevitably burn out and quit practicing. Persistence and determination should be your watchwords here. Spending half an hour on this, every day, will prove much more beneficial than spending three or four hours on one day and then being too tired to do anything else for the rest of the week.

Keep a magical journal, especially at the beginning of your studies. Note your state of mind along with the date and time you start your practice each day, and note anything unusual that comes up while you are doing the work. You can also write down anything noteworthy that happened during the day. It doesn't have to be especially detailed, but you want to have enough information to track your progress along with the astrological landscape and an overview of what is happening in your life from day to day.

And I realize this may sound like a lot - but it really isn't. Add fifteen minutes of journaling to your half-hour practice, and it really only takes about as much time as watching a regular television episode. In fact, you don't want your magical work to consume your life. That can create all sorts of problems, from lack of attention to your material situation and physical health to complete burnout. Even if you love doing the work, try to discipline yourself to under an hour a day, total. You can avoid a whole lot of headaches that way.

The initiatory path of illumination for each element involves two basic operations - a "Rite of Approach" and an "Elixir Rite." The Rite of Approach opens a portal into the realm of the sephira, and then employs the same methods I lay out in my simple pathworking ritual to explore what lies beyond the portal and interact with the Archangel of Hod, Michael. The primary function of this to develop a working relationship with the Archangel and other spirits of the Hod domain. When interacting with the Archangel, feel free to ask for initiation corresponding to the sephira.

You should recognize the core of the Elixir Rite right away, as it is similar to what we do during the Aries Elixir Rite. The Elixir Rite is a eucharistic ritual that involves the charging of wine (or juice, if you can't drink alcohol) with the power of the sephira and then consuming it. This may or may not include a specific statement of intent. The function of the eucharist is to spiritually charge a material substance and then consume it, in order to take into your physical body the essence of magick itself.

The opening for the initiatory rites of Hod is the same as for my previous elemental work rites. You don't necessarily need to create the sigil of the Archangel, but if you do you can go ahead and trace it on the Mercury kamea. The reason is that for the Rite of Approach, we will be seeking out the Archangel in his own realm, and for the Elixir Rite he is being called upon to assist in the creation of the Elixir, not to fully manifest within the Table of Art. Note that as with the Elemental Kings, I say "he" in my text but angels can take any form they want, male or female.

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. Also on the altar is a containment structure such as the Sigillum Dei Aemeth or the Trithemian Table of Art. The diagram depicting the character and sigil should be placed within this structure. A small container of some sort for offerings may also be placed on the Table of Art. For the Elixir Rite, the cup goes within the Table of Art and no other container for offerings is required (since some of the Elixir is given as the offering).

If you employ scrying in your work, an appropriate device such as a crystal or mirror should also be placed in the containment structure. If you are using incense for such an operation, the traditional method is to place the incense burner between the scryer and the mirror or crystal. Otherwise, it may be placed anywhere in the space. Some scryers like to place a taper candle on either side of the device, and while I can't say that method does anything at all for me, a number of others report good results with it.

Hod operations are best performed on a Wednesday during the hour of Mercury, or when Mercury is the Chart Victor. Avoid any time during which the Chart Victor is Jupiter or Venus. Also, you can improve your results by employing simple electional timing.

1. Opening

Light incense, if used (Storax). 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 Mercury (Sephirothic). Beginning in the east, go to each quarter in turn and perform the following actions.

  1. 1. Trace the Hexagram of Mercury in Orange while vibrating ARARITA (ah-rah-ree-tah). The hexagram of Mercury is traced by starting at the lower left point and tracing the first triangle clockwise, and then moving on to the upper right point and tracing the second triangle clockwise from there.
  2. Trace the symbol of Mercury in the center of the hexagram in blue while vibrating ELOHIM TZABAOTH (el-oh-heem tzah-bah-oth).
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 Virgo chapter followed by the Gemini chapter from Liber 963:

Virgo (Mercury Nocturnal)

1. O Thou mighty God, make me as a fair virgin that is clad in the blue-bells of the fragrant hillside; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may ring out the melody of Thy voice, and be clothed in the pure light of Thy loveliness: O Thou God my God!

2. O Thou mighty God, make me as a Balance of rubies and jet that is cast in the lap of the Sun; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may flash forth the wonder of Thy brightness, and melt into the perfect poise of Thy Being: O Thou God, my God!

3. O Thou mighty God, make me as a brown Scorpion that creepeth on through a vast desert of silver; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may lose myself in the span of Thy light, and become one with the glitter of Thy Shadow: O Thou God, my God!

4. O Thou mighty God, make me as a green arrow of Lightning that speedeth through the purple clouds of Night; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may wake fire from the crown of Thy Wisdom, and flash into the depths of Thine Understanding: O Thou God, my God!

5. O Thou mighty God, make me as a flint-black goat that pranceth in a shining wilderness of steel; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may paw one flashing spark from Thy Splendour, and be welded into the Glory of Thy might: O Thou God, my God!

6. O Thou mighty God, make me as the sapphirine waves that cling to the shimmering limbs of the green rocks; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may chant in foaming music Thy Glory, and roll forth the eternal rapture of Thy Name: O Thou God, my God!

7. O Thou mighty God, make me as a silver fish darting through the vast depths of the dim-peopled waters; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may swim through the vastness of Thine abyss, and sink beneath the waveless depths of Thy Glory: O Thou God, my God!

8. O Thou mighty God, make me as a white ram that is athirst in a sun-scorched desert of bitterness; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may seek the deep waters of Thy Wisdom, and plunge into the whiteness of Thine effulgence: O Thou God, my God!

9. O Thou mighty God, make me as a thunder-smitten bull that is drunk upon the vintage of Thy blood; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may bellow through the universe Thy Power, and trample the nectar-sweet grapes of Thine Essence: O Thou God, my God!

10. O Thou mighty God, make me as a black eunuch of song that is twin-voiced, yet dumb in either tongue; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may hush my melody in Thy Silence, and swell into the sweet ecstasy of Thy Song: O Thou God, my God!

11. O Thou mighty God, make me as an emerald crab that crawleth over the wet sands of the sea-shore; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may write Thy name across the shores of Time, and sink amongst the white atoms of Thy Being. O Thou God, my God!

12. O Thou mighty God, make me as a ruby lion that roareth from the summit of a white mountain; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may echo forth Thy lord-ship through the hills, and dwindle into the nipple of Thy bounty. O Thou God, my God!

13. O Thou mighty God, make me as an all-consuming Sun ablaze in the centre of the Universe; I beseech Thee, O Thou great God! That I may become as a crown upon Thy brow, and flash forth the exceeding fire of Thy Godhead: O Thou God, my God!

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

Gemini (Mercury Duiurnal)

1. O Thou Consuming Eye of everlasting light set as a pearl betwixt the lids of Night and Day; I swear to Thee by the formless void of the Abyss, to lap the galaxies of night in darkness, and blow the meteors like bubbles into the frothing jaws of the sun.

2. O Thou ten-footed soldier of blue ocean, whose castle is built upon the sands of life and death; I swear to Thee by the glittering blades of the waters, to cleave my way within Thine armed hermitage, and brood as an eyeless corpse beneath the coffin-lid of the Mighty Sea.

3. O Thou incandescent Ocean of molten stars, surging above the arch of the Firmament; I swear to Thee by the mane-pennoned lances of light, to stir the lion of Thy darkness from its lair, and lash the sorceress of noontide into fury with serpents of fire.

4. O Thou intoxicating Vision of Beauty, fair as ten jewelled virgins dancing about the hermit moon; I swear to Thee by the peridot flagons of spring, to quaff to the dregs Thy chalice of Glory, and beget a royal race before the Dawn flees from awakening Day.

5. O Thou unalterable measure of all things, in whose lap lie the destinies of unborn worlds; I swear to Thee by the balance of Light and Darkness, to spread out the blue vault as a looking- glass, and flash forth therefrom the intolerable lustre of Thy Countenance.

6. O Thou who settest forth the limitless expanse, spanned by wings of thunder above the cosmic strife; I swear to Thee by the voiceless dust of the desert, to soar above the echos of shrieking life, and as an eagle to feast for ever upon the silence of the stars.

7. O Thou flame-tipped arrow of devouring fire that quiverest as a tongue in the dark mouth of Night; I swear to Thee by the thurible of Thy Glory, to breathe the incense of mine understanding, and to cast the ashes of my wisdom into the Valley of Thy breast.

8. O Thou ruin of the mountains, glistening as an old white wolf above the fleecy mists of Earth; I swear to Thee by the galaxies of Thy domain, to press Thy lamb's breasts with the teeth of my soul, and drink of the milk and blood of Thy subtlety and innocence.

9. O Thou Eternal river of chaotic law, in whose depths lie locked the secrets of Creation; I swear to Thee by the primal waters of the Deep, to suck up the Firmament of Thy Chaos, and as a volcano to belch forth a Cosmos of coruscating suns.

10. O Thou Dragon-regent of the blue seas of air, as a chain of emeralds round the neck of Space; I swear to Thee by the hexagram of Night and Day, to be unto Thee as the twin fish of Time, which being set apart never divulge the secret of their unity.

11. O Thou flame of the horned storm-clouds, that sunderest their desolation, that outroarest the winds; I swear to Thee by the gleaming sandals of the stars, to climb beyond the summits of the mountains, and rend Thy robe of purple thunders with a sword of silvery light.

12. O Thou fat of an hundred fortresses of iron, crimson as the blades of a million murderous swords; I swear to Thee by the smoke-wreath of the volcano, to open the secret shrine of Thy bull's breast, and tear out as an augur the heart of Thine all-pervading mystery.

13. O Thou silver axle of the Wheel of Being, thrust through the wings of Time by the still hand of Space; I swear to Thee by the twelve spokes of Thy Unity, to become unto Thee as the rim thereof, so that I may clothe me majestically in the robe that has no seam.

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 conjuration.

4A. The Rite of Approach

Begin with the conjuration of the Archangel. Note that Michael is both the angel of Hod and the angel of the path of the Sun. His attribution changes depending on whether you are working a path or a sephira.

Oh Glorious and Mighty MICHAEL, You who command and rule over the spirits of KOKAB, Behold me, and in the name of the same your God ELOHIM TZABAOTH, Attend and Appear before me within this circle of art! Full powers and wonders of the sephira of Hod do I rightly desire! Enlighten my understanding, encourage my heart, and manifest unto me now as I enter into and explore your spiritual realm.

At this point, vibrate the name MICHAEL repeatedly until the Archangel and the spirits of Hod are perceived within the Table of Art. If this is being performed as a group ritual, with everyone chanting the name together, it is helpful for the officiant or scryer to have a bell chime that can be rung once he or she perceives a presence in whatever manner. At the bell chime, the chant stops.

Then sit down on a chair or cushion and read the Simple Pathworking Induction out loud. If you are able, it is helpful to record the induction so that you can listen to it and follow along with the corresponding visualizations. Or, if you are working with a group, each person can take a turn reading during a series of rites.

Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Feel it flowing in and out of your body at its own natural rhythm. Relax your abdomen and allow it to expand as you breathe in, and contract as you breathe out. Feel the breath flowing, allowing it to sink into your abdomen and deepen at its own pace.

Visualize your body from the outside. Around it you see a glowing field of colored light arranged in four distinct layers. Bring your attention to the innermost layer, a field of light tinted with the rich green of earth. This layer extends only an inch or so beyond the boundary of your skin. As you bring your attention to this layer, relax from the toes on up. Then take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my body is at peace.” As deep relaxation flows throughout your body, see the field of green light becoming still and receptive.

Shift your attention to the next layer, a field of light tinted with the blue of water that covers earth. This layer begins where the green layer ends and extends a few more inches beyond your body. As you focus on this layer, pay attention to your emotions and feelings. Simply observe and let them pass, allowing your attention to detach from them. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my emotions are at peace.” As your emotions become calm and serene, see the field of blue light becoming still and reflective.

Shift your attention to the next layer, a field of light tinted with the yellow of air that covers water. This layer begins where the blue layer ends and extends yet a few more inches beyond your body. As you focus on this layer, pay attention to your thoughts. Simply observe and let them pass, allowing your attention to detach from them. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my thoughts are at peace.” As your thoughts become calm and clear, see the field of yellow light becoming still and integrated.

Shift your attention to the next layer, a field of light tinted with the red of fire that burns at the heart of the sun. This layer begins where the yellow layer ends and extends yet a few more inches beyond your body. As you focus on this layer, pay attention to the sparks of will that give rise to your individual sense of being. Simply observe and let them pass, allowing your attention to detach from them. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my will is at peace.” As your will becomes focused, see he field of red light becoming still and distinct.

Visualize your body and the aura that surrounds it. Allow any remaining tension, stress, or worry to drain away into the earth, and as you do, see the field of ethereal light that surrounds you becoming more vibrant and harmonious. Realize that you are now observing your body, emotions, thoughts, and will from outside, and that you are more than just these facets of your personality. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I am.” Then pay attention to your attention.

Now, begin to focus on your purpose in this temple. We are alone in the temple. The powers await just beyond our sensing. We will now bring these powers to life in our hall. Nothing awaits us or concerns us but the Great Work, which we shall now continue as we explore the realm of Michael, the Archangel of Hod.

Visualize an idealized form of yourself taking shape out of the light in front of your inner vision. See your astral double standing, facing you. Take some time to get the best image possible fixed in your mind. Once you have this Body of Light complete, look around the temple space from the viewpoint of your double and notice first that you are surrounded by a blank gray fog.

As the fog clears, you begin to make out the astral form of this temple around you. To the east you notice a portal take shape out of the mist. This could be a doorway, a large magick mirror, a window, or some other kind of opening large enough for you to enter. You pass through this portal, and find yourself in the realm of Michael. Take note of all you experience here as you explore the landscape of Hod.

At this point, allow 10-15 minutes for meditation in the spirit vision, or longer if it be your will. Use a timer, to remove the temptation to keep looking at your clock, watch, or phone. When you are finished, the induction is concluded as follows.

It is now time to leave the realm of Hod. Take a few moments to finish your exploration here, and then turn back the way you came.

When you arrive at the portal, pass back through into the astral region of the temple. Stand in front of your physical body, turn around, and allow the Body of Light to merge back into your physical body. Retain all that has happened in vivid presence, while you quietly remain for awhile, with eyes still closed.

As you slowly merge back into the physical, be aware of your breath flowing, gently in and out of your body. Feel your eyes still gently closed and relaxed. Feel the movement of your abdomen as it moves away from your body as you inhale and back towards your body as you exhale. Finally, be aware of your body and the space that your body occupies.

Slowly bring your hands up to your face, cover your eyes with your hands and then gently open your eyes. Remove your hands slowly from your face, slowly look up and come back to the present space in circle.

Once you are back, stand and return to your place at the altar. Skip to Point 5 to close the rite.

4B. The Elixir Rite

Begin with the conjuration of the Archangel:

Oh Glorious and Mighty MICHAEL, You who command and rule over the spirits of KOKAB, Behold me, and in the name of the same your God ELOHIM TZABAOTH, Attend and Appear before me within this circle of art! Full powers and wonders of the sephira of Hod do I rightly desire! Enlighten my understanding, encourage my heart, and manifest unto me now as I partake of your spiritual realm.

At this point, vibrate the name MICHAEL repeatedly until the presence of the Archangel and spirits of Hod is perceived within the Table of Art. If this is being performed as a group ritual, with everyone chanting the name together, it is helpful for the officiant or scryer to have a bell chime that can be rung once he or she perceives a presence in whatever manner. At the bell chime, the chant stops. Then say:

O majestic ELOHIM TZABAOTH. To thee we present this talisman of our magickal will! I ask thee, Oh Exalted One, to receive the body of this rite into the light of thy presence. As we proceed in making this Elixir of Hod, charging it with the creative energies of KOKAB, we shall achieve a true alchemical ferment, mighty in Yetzirah and vitalized by thy blessing. In partaking of this Mystery, let there be unto us vitality of soul, increase of sight, true gnosis, and complete manifestation of the wonders of thy Sphere!

Note that the plural used here is NOT a typo or carry-over from the other elixir ritual. Even if you are working on your own, Michael will also be partaking of the elixir in the form of an offering at the end of the rite. So there will always be at least two of you present.

Make one clockwise circumambulation, visualizing a wall of orange light whirling rapidly in the same direction about the circle. When finished, the wall of light is allowed to fade. Hold the cup at heart level and say:

Creature of Wine who art established in the Sphere of Hod: by the vital force of my breath I enliven thee to perfect this work of Holy Magick in the realm of ELOHIM TZABAOTH.

Once this is complete, join or clasp hands and make eight full circumambulations of the circle, corresponding to Hod.

Then raise power, visualizing a continuous spiral of orange light ascending from the ground at feet, whirling clockwise around body and ascending until it disappears above head. Hold this visualization, and vibrate the divine name once: ELOHIM TZABAOTH

The join or clasp hands and vibrate once more: ELOHIM TZABAOTH

Extend hands toward elixir cup. Visualize beams of orange light emanating from both hands and entering into the cup. When the cup feels “full” end the visualization, folding hands on breast left over right. Finally, trace the symbol of Mercury in a horizontal plane over the cup while vibrating once more: ELOHIM TZABAOTH

Make one more complete circumambulation of the circle. Battery: 1 (that is, knock on the altar table). Raise the cup and say:

Behold the Elixir of Hod! For all and for each it is prepared! Let each and all receive its magick virtue!

Drink and then visualize or speak any practical intent. The cup should not be entirely drained. When finished, Battery: 1. Indicate the cup, which should still contain some of the elixir. Say:

Glorious and Mighty Michael, we make this offering unto you, that it may nourish and fortify you as you attend to your appointed tasks. Be the ferment of our spiritual alchemy mighty in the crucible of our souls! So mote it be!

The offering should be allowed to evaporate following the rite. However, this is not necessary. If it has not fully evaporated after several days, you can pour it out at any convenient outdoor location.

5. The License to Depart

Archangel MICHAEL and the spirits of Thy domain, because thou hast-diligently answered unto my demands, and hast been very ready and willing to come at my call, I do hereby license thee to depart unto thy proper place, without causing harm or danger unto man or beast. I charge thee to withdraw peaceably and quietly with the blessings of the great god ELOHIM TZABAOTH, and that peace be ever continued between us. So mote it be!

7. Closing

The ritual should be closed with the Qabalistic Cross.

A couple of points: You will probably need to perform these rituals multiple times before you can consider yourself "initiated" into Hod. Generally speaking, this is something that the Archangel can bestow, but he won't necessarily do it the first time you ask. Or, maybe he will. It depends on his estimation of your state of awareness or realization. He may also give you specific instructions to follow in order to make yourself ready for the initiation. And they can always be performed afterwards, at any time, as rites of illumination.

Especially in the case of the Rite of Approach, be sure to write up a detailed journal entry including all that you experience. A voice recorder in the temple can be helpful for astral work of whatever kind so that you can describe what is going on as it happens. You may find trouble getting into the right mindspace to experience much the first time you do this and that's okay. Just use this trick: say to yourself "If I really was projecting into the astral, I would be seeing..."

You can test spirits you encounter by vibrating divine names at them. EHEIEH is a good general one, that dispels most false visions. You can also use the godname called upon in the ritual, ELOHIM TZABAOTH. If you meet a spirit claiming to be Michael vibrate his name at it. If it really is Michael, the vision should intensify rather than weaken. Finally, obtain from the spirit a word of power, a number, or both.

After the ritual, go back and look those up in a resource like Sephir Sephiroth or Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia to see if the number or the gematria of the word is appropriate to the element of Fire. If it is, you most likely found your way to the right place. On the other hand, if you can find no connection, it is advisable to perform the rite again at some point in the future, maybe after doing an Elixir Rite or two.

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Javier Vera said...

Hi Scott ¡¡
Perhaps scott for practical work of great importance or very complex to solve If we use the elemental energies we could create a ritual of 4 days where each day we direct the energy of each element, with its specific connotations towards that situation situation in fact a formula YHVH,I think it would be very powerful since you covered every possible aspect at least I think so

Blogos said...

Hi there!

- You should say the Kircher Tree of Life not *the* Tree of Life. This is important as there are a variety out there and many people who don't encounter the various Jewish Trees of Life think that the Kircher Tree is the Tree exactly because of statements like this.

- You need to correct your post to say Mercury with Hod instead of the Moon. Unassuming mistakes like this were instrumental in creating the Kircher ''Tree of Life'' in the first place.

Scott Stenwick said...

@Javier: Sure, operations like that spanning multiple days can be very effective. That would be one way to structure an elemental operation like that.

@Blogos: The Moon thing is what I get for posting this while I was sick as a dog yesterday. Sorry about that!

As far as the Kircher Tree goes, I've made that update too and added it to the other posts in the series. I was operating on the assumption that readers would understand I was talking about Hermetic/Magical Qabalah as opposed to the several traditional Jewish systems, but the additional clarity can't hurt.

Blogos said...

Hi Scott,

So there are 3 horizontal paths, 7 vertical paths and 12 diagonal paths on the ToL. There are 3 mothers, 7 doubles and 12 simples. In Jewish renderings (Ari, Gra) the paths are matched in that way (makes a lot of sense after all) although there is some variation in which letter goes on exactly which path - but in Kircher they do not. Do you have any idea why the Kircher Tree doesn't obey this rule? Are there any references within the GD that say they tried a variety of different approaches and then selected the Kircher because it was ''the best''? Do you know the source for the Kircher Tree? Have you tried a dedicated comparison of these systems or have you only ever used the Kircher Tree?

Thanks in advance!

Scott Stenwick said...

No, I have not done a detailed analysis comparing the various systems. I am not a scholar of historical Qabalah/Kabbalah by any stretch of the imagination. I've read some Gershom Scholem and am familiar with the Sefer Yetzirah but that's about it. So I'm aware of what some of the differences are, but I've never subjected them to serious experimental testing.

From your comments here, my guess is that we totally don't see eye to eye on this point I'm about to make and that's fine - but I personally think putting a lot of effort into trying to identify "the best" model for organizing your mind is mostly waste of time. As I see it, the point is that you organize your mind in the first place, not that you necessarily organize it according to one particular system.

The way I see it, all magical operations consist of a series of states of consciousness that are activated (1) in a particular order and (2) with a particular intensity. Much of what we're doing when we're learning symbolic models is building up structures of conditioning loops that activate those states of consciousness.

Now this is not to say that I'm a psychologizer - I emphatically am not. The various godnames and entities are macrocosmic powers and some of those associations are probably more fixed than others. And some of those states of consciousness I'm talking about align with and call in those macrocosmic powers, who do have their own personalities and ideas about the work.

But I have yet to come across anybody who managed to significantly improve their magical results by shifting the letter arrangements around on their model of the Tree of Life, or, say, picking version A over version B. Maybe you have, and if so I would be interested in hearing the story. But without at least some empirical data supporting the possibility, it doesn't seem that worthwhile to me.

The system that I actually use is Aleister Crowley's Naples arrangement, which is descended from Kircher by way of the Golden Dawn. The reason I use it is not necessarily that I consider it superior in some objective metaphysical sense, but rather that it facilitates work with other magicians who know the same system. There are a few little tweaks here and there that I make to attributions so that they make more sense to me, but mostly I try to stick to what's in Liber 777 for that practical reason.

To be clear - I am not attempting to put my opinions here forward as "the truth." It's just what I think, based on my experiences over the years. I know that there are a lot of people out there who have done academic study of various Kabbalistic systems and have problems with Kircher. But at the same time, I have yet to come across a magical problem for which the solution is to switch to another model of the Tree of Life. Have you?

Also to be clear - I'm not asking that to be dismissive. I'm asking because I'm legitimately curious if you've ever come across such a thing.

Blogos said...


- You haven't tried rearranging them so how would you know? A cursory study of comparative Kabbalah will demonstrate the differences. No offence but its kind of a bit weird to not do this research. Aren't you curious? If you don't think it matters where specific letters and symbols go on the Tree of Life and therefore in your aura, then why bother with any Tree of Life in the first place? Just chuck them down any way randomly right? It doesn't matter!

- Don't you agree that if there is any value in arranging the letters in various positions then re arranging will by that very argument have implications for the astral body or the way in which your mind is organized?

- We are not talking about ''the best'' but we are talking about better and improved - in fact I would call the other arrangements far less cumbersome and much sleeker than Kircher. ''Whatever works'' is often really justification of the form ''if it ain't broke don't fix it''. If you don't think the arrangement matters it casts doubt on masses of the content of this blog doesn't it? It certainly looks like *you* think it matters because you are telling people highly specific things here.

- My questions about the references are there for a reason. In many years of arguing this case I have not found a single Kircher practitioner (i.e. G.D./Thelema types) that can answer them. People seem to run with the Kircher Tree and then find the Jewish systems after they have invested considerable time in the Kircher and fail to rectify their positions based on new research.

- I have lots of stories from people that I have convinced to change the system that ''something suddenly clicked''. Where they had been employing very faulty convoluted logic in trying to shoehorn various symbols into various places in order to make it agree with [32=34, breaking 3, 7 and 12, unnecessary planetary/Sefirot conflations] suddenly the Tree made sense. Who would you trust to construct a Tree of Life someone like the Ari, or the Gra or would you rather trust Aleister Crowley's opinion? Bear in mind that AC himself recognised that something was wrong! As did Charles Stansfield Jones after him! There is a lot of precedent for people seeing that it was broken and trying to ''fix it'' and experimenting with different flips and formats. They thought it mattered. :-)

- To my mind its strange to wilfully ignore the cross over between 3 mothers and 3 horizontals, 7 doubles and 7 verticals and 12 simples with 12 diagonals especially when the Jewish Trees of Life obey it. Esp without even trying it!!! :-)

- I appreciate you have invested considerable time in learning and exploring the Kircher Tree and I understand how awkward these realisations can be. I have been in this situation myself. Please understand that the statements about the Kircher Tree being *the* Tree do impede progress in this area and it would be much better to be clearer all the time to encourage people to do complete research, explore different possibilities as opposed to trusting Victorian/Edwardian magicians who were probably working with incorrect source texts. To not research Jewish Kabbalah seems totally weird to me.

- If you do explore your options here you won't have to throw out all of your knowledge and in fact it will make some of your knowledge even more useful because it won't be damaged by logical contradictions inherent in the Kircher approach. It will actually end up streamlining it.

- Just to finish this discussion is really for you and me, not to try and impress these values on a larger audience. I only engage in these passionate discussions because I care, so all argumentation is entered into in a spirit of love and generosity.

Scott Stenwick said...

Editing and re-entering because I glossed over a couple things that should not be glossed over.

It sounds like you may be reading more into my comments than I intended. If so, I apologize for being unclear. I don't believe that it makes absolutely no difference where the attributions go. Some clearly make more sense than others. But I can see where it might sound that way.

For the rituals in these Path of Initiation articles, the organization of the paths really do make no difference. You're working through the sephiroth in reverse order, starting with Malkuth. I make no references to pathworking or "what connects where," just the planetary attributions. And those come directly from the natural world because in Kircher, the planets are attributed in order of relative astrological motion. That makes more sense to me than any other arrangement I've seen. Similarly, I work the elements (which all correspond to Malkuth in Kircher) in density order - again, an observable, natural property.

Even in terms of practical magick, which does work with the paths, it isn't clear to me how relevant the arrangement is. After your previous post I spent awhile trying to figure out how I could run a set of empirical probability tests on the versions of the Tree that we're talking about and couldn't figure out a good way to do it. Believe me, if I could come up with something that would, say, double my probability shifts I would be all for it. But what procedure would account for that? How would you implement the different arrangements in a ritual context?

About all I could think of would be some sort of pathworking comparison, one for each version of the Tree, and that's subjective enough that it would probably be hard to work out. But if you went through a whole cycle of pathworking with each arrangement all the way up, tested every spirit and vision, and then put the two accounts side-by-side, you might be able to see a difference. I don't know. It would be a lengthy series of operations and would require detailed write-ups, probably enough for a whole book. I don't have anything like the time necessary to do that, but if anybody has, I would certainly be willing to look it over.

(continued - too long for one comment)

Scott Stenwick said...


Also, let me point out that the most logical arrangement does not always work best in magick. I figured that one out with the Aurum Solis pentagram tracing system years ago. The AS system, on the surface, is far more logical than the Golden Dawn one. You start at the point attributed to the element, and go clockwise to invoke and counter-clockwise to banish. Easy, consistent, and logical. But the thing is, you get stronger probability shifts all around with the GD system, which from a logical standpoint is much more of a mess.

My point is that this is not self-evident. You need to experiment and compile a decent sample set as opposed to speculating on what does or doesn't "make sense" if you want to say anything definitively. At the same time, I also hope that it's obvious I'm not trying to put forth my model as the "one true" anything. I'm publishing the work I did the way I did it, because it worked for me. That's it.

So I could rework a bunch of these attributions, but then I wouldn't be publishing what I actually did. And that seems kind of disingenuous to me. "I know this totally works even though I changed a bunch of stuff from when I did it" would cast doubt on my procedures, too, wouldn't it? Still, anybody who has problems with Kircher should probably go ahead and do it another way, of which there are many.

I will refrain from any further comments to the effect that the Kircher Tree is "THE Tree." I will be sure to qualify it in further posts, as I do not wish to add to any confusion on that point. In fact, I'll see about putting together a post on how my rituals would translate over to one or more of the other path arrangements out there. That way I can link to it from all these posts, and folks can try applying the conversions if they want.

That will be a good outcome from this discussion all around, since then people who read these rituals can make up their own minds as to which arrangement they prefer.

Dacia Pacea said...

@Blogos there's a video in YouTube in which Lon Milo DuQuette talks about the GD and Crowley attributing the tarot cards to the paths, and he addresses the issue of the letters. Now I couldn't come across that video at this moment, and I don't exactly remember the way he formulated his ideas, but his conclusion was something in the area of "the different attributions should matter according to each individual's personal Kabalah".

Scott Stenwick said...

As a point, I just did a simple exercise here and I think I can tell you why (A) Kircher avoids the path rules and (B) why the Golden Dawn used it. What I did is took a standard image of the Kircher, and then reattributed the paths according to the following rules:

3 Mother Letters - 3 Horizontals - 3 Elements
7 Double Letters - 7 Verticals - 7 Planets
12 Single Letters - 12 Diagonals - 12 Signs
Within those constraints, letters follow Key Scale as per Liber 777.

As it turns out, the answers to those two initial questions are so obvious that I have a hard time believing no other Thelemite or GD person could tell you, but here it is:

(A) Kircher uses the over-arching rule that the paths follow the order of the letters from top to bottom with no regard for vertical, horizontal, or diagonal paths. So if this rule is taken as to supersede any others, you wind up with the Kircher path arrangement. It's just a single, simpler heuristic.

I can't tell you whether this is because Kircher was ignorant of the rules followed by the letters in the other systems, or if he felt the sequence of the letters really was paramount to the point that the other rules could be thrown out. That would digging into his writings to see how deliberate he was about his process.

(B) The Golden Dawn used it because a single sequence works best with Tarot attributions. I actually think that's it. They wanted to keep the letters and Major Arcana in order for their "new arrangement" (ie. non-Levi) of the Tarot and the paths. Remember, Mathers did write that one of the first secrets found in the cipher manuscripts was "0=1," that is, the Tarot was supposed to be attributed to the paths starting with The Fool (0) for Aleph and moving on from there.

Levi also used the Kircher single sequence, probably for the same reason. He starts with The Magus (1) and puts The Fool further down the list, but he still proposed an overall linear sequence. So it's possible that the Golden Dawn made a deliberate decision to take Levi's arrangement and slide the Major Arcana over by one.

So I think those two are the answers you're looking for. To guess at what your next question might be, why do these Tarot attributions matter? Frankly, I think maybe they don't. That might be the problem with the modern Kircher right there. It seems to me that it makes more sense for the Tarot attributions to be secondary rather than primary.

When you reorganize the paths from Kircher to my above more traditional rules, you get some symmetries. Path of Jupiter descends from Chesed and Path of Tau descends into Malkuth, like the standard Kircher, but Path of Mars also descends from Geburah and the Path of the Sun descends from Tiphareth. Path of Mercury descends from Kether along the Middle Pillar.

Venus descending from Binah is a little less obvious, though that does fit the Thelemic attributions of Babalon. And the Path of the Moon descends from Chockmah, which is a little less obvious - but Thoth is the God of Wisdom and he is known to have lunar as well as Mercurial aspects. The signs are a little more of a mixed bag. So far I haven't seen anything nearly as interesting as the planets. But there's probably more in there.

Still, I'm let with my initial question. I have a modified Tree of Life, but now what do I do with it? Aside from the pathworking idea I posted above, I'm not really sure.

Blogos said...

- The planets do not need to be conflated with the Sefirot in order to maintain the Chaldean order of the planets in the ToL. The 7 planets are on the 7 vertical paths only starting with Saturn and working your way to the Moon down the vertical paths in the Chaldean Order. This table will show you how far ''off the mark'' the G.D. attributions are.

- I just want to say that you admit to having not done the research or the practice yourself in one of your first comments. Its very difficult to argue anything having not done the research or experimenting. Please do! Having compared and contrasted the Kircher Tree with other Trees in numerous settings be it practical magic or vision work there is no doubt about the superiority in terms of accuracy/precision when it comes to other trees. The more important is actually the physiological and by extension the neurophysiological. The ''probability'' view of magick, which is one of the modern assumptions is flawed but that is beyond the remit of this post - yes it would be difficult to ''test'' in that sense. Bear in mind, pragmatism bias though - You can do brain surgery with a sledge hammer its just messier and trickier than doing it with a laser. :-) But if no one has showed you a laser before...

- I have heard this defence many times (Alef-Tav down the Tree), there is no evidence that either Kircher or the G.D. compared and contrasted different systems. They almost certainly encountered the Kircher (replete with mistakes as it is) and they ran with it. Lots of other sources have emerged since then and its important that QBL updates like everything else is. This single sequence (Alef-Tav) down the Tree does not ''work best with Tarot.'' If you apply the Tarot to the most basic system from the SY (which you can see in the top right corner of my page or on the link below) you will see the Great Medieval chain of being on the Tree of Life. I will prepare a photo for you of the Tarot if this helps but it will take me a couple of days. There are some posts on my site about it, some of these ideas will challenge you but thats good!

This Tree obeys the rule of 3. 7 and 12 everything is in order from the Sefer Yetzirah, there is no conflation or overlap. It shows only astrology because most people aren't that adept with the letters and it tends to get in the way. More detailed exposition is available on my blog.

- I was asking for the source and you didn't give it to me because people do not know because they have not asked themselves. I just want to flag this up because its important and it builds into the problem we have with Kircher Tree being presented as The Tree. Kircher ''based'' his Tree on the Jewish convert Philippe D'Aquin and is acknowledged to have altered it to meet his own opinion on Kabbalah.

Blogos said...

- The positions you put the letters in become much more significant the moment you ''program'' this into your aura. What would be the effect of programming the thyroid with (for a random example) Martian ''energy'' or Venutian ''energy''? What would be the different results? If there are no results from the specific planets/letters or other ''energies'', then the whole thing is pointless and none of this actully works or has any specificity which is a bit self defeating. There are consequences however to building the Kircher Tree in to your aura (not many people get that far) but at best its less effective than other variants at worst it is incredibly physically and mentally destablising/debilitating.

- Its great that you are beginning to experiment. You will see on my site a Tree that has all of the rules from the SY and you can immediatly see the strong astrological themes coming out. More importantly this ties beautifully with modern biochemistry
- if you have a minute flick through these pages (scan the images esp. the zodiac ones, if you don't have time to read) to see what I am getting at with this research:

- What you do with a Tree of Life, what everyone should be doing but which seems to have been forgotten in the rush for magicians to be authors, journalists, cultural pundits, anthropologists, twittervists or whatever else the WMT is wasting its time with is *HEALING*. The system I am trying to get you to experiment with will improve your ability to self-heal and heal others enormously because it is actually where the body is. See the biochem material.

- I know I am prob. wasting my energy here but for your own sake its worth a look at these variants. Again Duquette, Crowley et al - fair enough - but you might want to consider the work of Jewish Kabbalists, Magicians, etc, again to me this seems obvious. The Tree of Life obviously goes back into antiquity its an evolving thing but sometimes it has gone astray, mutations have occurred that have not proved all that useful. Mistakes happen but they should be acknowledged rather than obfuscated. Again not everything is thrown away by acknowledging it will make the magick you retain more potent.

Scott Stenwick said...

After I posted my earlier message I did notice that if you attribute the signs to the diagonal paths you get all the diurnal signs connecting to the Pillar of Mercy and all the nocturnal signs connecting to the Pillar of Severity. So that's a nice synchronicity with the "reshuffled" Kircher as well.

By "best for Tarot" I wasn't giving my personal opinion there. What I meant was that, to the founders of the Golden Dawn, *they probably thought* it looked more nice and orderly to go in top to bottom order rather than the sequence "jumping around" as you go down the Tree. Personally, I'm agnostic on that point. It's really just a pretty pattern, which might or might not have any magical significance. I would have no problem ditching the Tarot order, personally, if it means that the Tree works better.

Please understand that in no way are you wasting your time. Peer review is essential if we're ever going to get magick to where the physical sciences are today. Not only is it more difficult because it involves consciousness, but we're also centuries behind because of misguided occult secrecy. So please, review away. If you think the rituals I'm presenting will work better for students working with a more effective Tree of Life, that's a totally legitimate point.

I can't think of a very good way to test besides the pathworking idea I mentioned earlier, but that doesn't mean I'm dismissing the idea. Not at all. I'll review your material and give that issue some more thought.