Angels We Have Heard on High – A Brief Look at Dr. John Dee

On Ankhie’s desk, still dark with the residue of this morning’s coffee (we drink it strong and sooty here at Chez Weiser), is a mug bearing the likeness of Dr. John Dee.  I need only look within a 3 foot circle around me to see his portrait (or his name) several more times – books, posters, trivets (don’t ask)  – the point being that wherever you find occult interest, you’ll find Dr. Dee.  What you say? You don’t know about John Dee? Well, let our good friend Lon Milo DuQuette tell you a little bit about him in this short excerpt from Enochian Vision Magick: An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly:

The Magick of Dr. John Dee

***

Son of a gentleman server to Henry VIII, John Dee was a true Renaissance magus and one of the most extraordinary individuals of his time. Historian John Aubrey called him “one of the ornaments of his Age.”23 That is saying a lot, for his age was peopled with some of the brightest lights in the history of western civilization: Queen Elizabeth I, Charles V, Francis Bacon, Ben Johnson, Edmund Spenser, GiordanoBruno, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare.

Dee’s unique genius blossomed at Cambridge University, and his fame as a published mathematician propelled him as a young man to academic rock-star status throughout Europe. It also brought him to the attention of the rulers of his world, including the future QueenElizabeth.

He was the master of scores of disciplines. He was a physician, an engineer, a theologian, an astronomer, and cartographer. He invented the nautical instruments and developed the advanced navigational charts that helped make Britannia ruler of the waves. He even coined the term Britannia. A master astrologer, he was allowed to choose the date of Elizabeth’s coronation, and throughout her reign he remainedher friend and counselor.

Because he was fluent in many languages and lectured often on the continent, Elizabeth enlisted his services as a spy. Dee enjoyed this role very much. As a matter of fact, I believe he remained in this position until the day she died. He was fascinated with cryptography and loved word and letter puzzles. Dee was secretly known as “the queen’s eyes,” and he signed his dispatches to her with the stylized image of a handshading two eyes.

***

Yes, John Dee, on “her majesty’s secret service,” was the first agent 007.24 Dee possessed the largest private library in England and was constantly enlarging it. He was perhaps the most educated man of his day. Part of his education included esoteric philosophy, Qabalah, alchemy, and magick—not illogical pursuits for a Renaissance magus. Magick, in particular, was a science to be explored and exploited. Dee wanted to talk to angels (as did the biblical patriarch Enoch) not only to discover the wisdom of the past and the secrets of the universe, but also, more immediately, to discover the secrets of Elizabeth’s enemies and brandish the power to magically manipulate the spiritual forcesthat control them. Dee wanted to be a magical spy.

His approach to magick (at least at first) was pretty standard procedure for the day. After bathing and dressing in clean clothes (extraordinarymeasures for the times—unless, of course, it was May, when many people of the day took their annual bath), he would enter a room set aside for the purpose. There he would drop to his knees before a consecrated table/altar and for a half hour or so pray fervently to God and His good angels, alternately reciting a litany of self-abasing confessions of his unworthiness to enter into the divine presence and boasting of his God-given right to do that very thing. With his consciousness duly exalted by prayer, he would then gaze into a crystal or a black mirror (a process known as scrying25) and wait to receive a vision.

In theory that’s how it was supposed to work. However, even though Dee was skilled at composing long and eloquent prayers, he was not very good at scrying. In 1581 he started to advertise for someone who was. He had a small measure of success with a handful of rented seers until March of 1582, when he made the acquaintance of one Edward Talbot. Talbot (who would soon confess that his name was actually Kelley) was an unemployed alchemist’s assistant and convicted forger. Kelley’s questionable character notwithstanding, his skills as a scryer immediately impressed Dee, who hired him on the spot at asalary of fifty pounds a year, a handsome figure for the day.

The partnership of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley would last until 1587. Their angelic-magick workings for the most part concluded in 1584. During their time together they engaged in hundreds of scrying sessions of varying lengths, in which Kelley gazed into a crystal ball or a black obsidian mirror and reported everything he saw and heard during a variety of angelic communications. Dee, sitting at a nearby table with pen and ink, led the questioning and recorded everything in anal-retentive detail.

Not all of the sessions yielded profound revelations. Indeed, many appear to be attempts by the communicating intelligences to simply keep the conversation going. There were numerous instances when information received in earlier sessions was amended (sometimes radically) in subsequent sessions. There were even times when the magicians were informed that they had been deceived in earlier communicationsby evil spirits. Nevertheless, the consistency of the bulk of the material is staggeringly impressive, and the double-/triple-blind nature in which it was delivered, especially the angelic language, calls, and magical tablets, boggles the imagination.

The Dee and Kelley years can be viewed as having occurred in three major phases, resulting in what appears on the surface to be three separateand unique magical systems. I will discuss these in more detail shortly. Here at the beginning it is enough to simply point out it is the third and last phase of their angelic workings (the three-month period between April 10 and July 13, 1584) that yielded the material for the system of vision magick that can be properly called Enochian.

The Enochian period was highly productive and bore much promise. In fewer than a hundred days Dee and Kelley received an angelic language, tablets containing the names of elemental and celestial beings, and calls in the angelic tongue that promised to unlock the secrets of heaven and earth. With sad, almost Faustian irony, however, once the Enochian material was in their hands, Dee and Kelley did notproceed to actually operate the system in subsequent workings.

They would go on to other magical adventures, attempting to impress (with little success) the crown heads of Europe with their supernatural counsel. Finally, after nearly five years of working together, years of exhausting magical sessions, and years of traipsing their families around Europe (not to mention a notorious wife-swapping incident), familiarity finally bred contempt, and the two magicians parted company withoutever getting into the driver’s seat of Enochian  magick and turning the key.

Dee’s complicated life would draw him back to the English court and the distracting world of political intrigue and survival. In 1588, as the Spanish armada set sail to annihilate England’s much smaller fleet (an event Dee predicted years earlier), Elizabeth called again upon her Merlin. Dee shocked her courtiers by urging the queen to not engage the Spanish armada and keep her ships at bay, prophesizing that a mighty storm would scatter and destroy the Spaniards. Elizabeth wisely heeded Dee’s words. The storm manifested right on cue, and in the chaos that followed, the Spanish armada went down to defeat. In many circles Dee was credited with magically raising the tempest that saved England. The story of this event became instant legend. William Shakespeare, writing only twenty-three years later, would use Dee asthe model for Prospero, the storm-raising magician in his play, The Tempest.

Kelley’s post-Enochian years would not earn him such renown. His ambitions kept him on the continent, where he peddled the promise of alchemical treasures to the crown heads of Europe. He was knighted by Emperor Rudolph II of Bohemia but was shortly thereafter imprisoned by his royal patron for failing to manufacture alchemical gold. With fairy-tale panache, Sir Edward Kelley plunged to an untimely death inNovember of 1595 while attempting to escape from the turret of Emperor Rudolph’s prison tower.

Dee’s end was not so colorful. Elizabeth appointed him warden of Christ’s College in Manchester, but it was not a happy tenure. His wife (and, it is believed, several of his children) died there during the plague in 1605. Dee returned to his home at Mortlake, where his daughterKatherine cared for him until his death in late 1608 or early 1609.

How so many of Dee’s manuscripts survived to see the light of the twenty-first century is a magical wonder story in and of itself. Several of the most important documents Dee had hidden in the false bottom of a cedar chest (can we get much more romantic?), where they lay undiscovered for over fifty years after his death. Through a curious chain of events (that tragically saw a portion of the manuscripts baked as pie wrappings), the surviving material came to the attention of the illustrious antiquary, politician, astrologer, chemist, and Freemason, Alias Ashmole (1617–1692), one of the few people in the world capable of recognizing the importance of the discovery. Thanks to Ashmole, the material was catalogued and finally housed safely in his own museum at Oxford, the British Museum, and the British Library, where, over three hundred years after its  reception, it captured the attention of S. L. MacGregor Mathers, Wynn Wescott, and the adepts of the HermeticOrder of the Golden Dawn, then Aleister Crowley—and now you.

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Lustration & Ritual Baths – Freshen Up Yer Body & Soul

New England weather is weird. Today, outside the offices of Weiser Central the sky is overcast and the air temperature hovers at a disagreeable 57 degrees. Yes. You read that right. 57 degrees. Last week it was 98. There is no way to properly plan a wardrobe for a visit to New England unless you bring one of everything.  Sigh. But having lived most of her life in the land of liberals and lobsters, Ankhie knows that as soon as she is acclimated to the English-y weather the clouds will part, the mercury will rise, and the deodorant will give out.  So it’s good to bear in mind ways to stay sweet and sacred through the thick and sticky days to come:

(from Mysteries of Demeter by Jennifer Reif):

Lustration: A Rite of Self-Blessing

The Museum of Eleusis contains a relief of a Hydranos priestess holding a lustration bowl and purifying an initiate, as well as a priestess statue, called “the basin bearer,” that has a square hole in the lower abdomen, which once held a marble basin. The statue, and another just like it, stood beside the doorways of Demeter’s temple, inviting those who entered to perform a lustral rite.

The lustration rite presented here may be used as a way to start the day, bringing the Goddess into your mind and heart as a self-blessing. For your lustration bowl, you may use a large seashell, or any bowl set aside for this purpose. You may choose to scent the water with a few drops of fragrant oil.

Altar Items

  • Icon or image of Demeter and a lustration bowl.

The Words and Actions

  1. Dipping the fingers of your right hand into the lustration bowl, bring them to the center of your forehead and say: Eye of the spirit where wisdom enters,
  2. Extend your right arm out toward the right saying: May her good enter from the right hand,
  3. Extend your left arm out toward the left saying: May her good enter from the left hand,
  4. Bring both hands to your heart (mid-chest), and say: For she dwells within…
  5. Bring your forearms down, palms up, and say: And without,
  6. Bring your hands again to your heart, as before, and say: In beauty…
  7. Raise your arms up, hands upward, and say: Hail!

_____

(from Pure Magic by Judika Illes)

Seven Roses Aura-Cleansing Bath

  • 7 red roses
  • Handful of salt
  • Splash of vinegar
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Splash of pure springwater and/or holy water
  1. Fill your tub with water.
  2. Remove the roses from the stems. Watch out for any thorns.
  3. Throw all the ingredients into the tub.
  4. Spend 7 minutes in your bath, rubbing yourself with the roses, submerging yourself periodically and focusing upon your goals.
  5. Dry off with a clean towel, white or unbleached cotton if possible, and put on fresh clothes.

Now here’s the hard part: walk out of the room without looking back. The roses have the tendency to come apart in the tub. This is one of the messier spells. Depending on how important tidiness is to you, you may be tempted to stop and clean your tub. Don’t. It’s vital for the success of this spell that you put some time in between taking the bath and cleaning up the residue. If at all possible, get someone else to clean the tub for you. If not possible, walk out of the room and do something positive or enjoyable that lifts your spirits. After at least an hour, when you feel calm, strong and distanced from any negative feelings that may have caused you to take this bath, you may clean the tub.

*Aura-cleansing spells can be combined for intensification purposes. Burn purification incense in the bathroom prior to taking your aura-cleansing bath.*

_____

(from The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison)

Bath Salts and Purifying Bath Herbs

Ritual Baths are used to purify your body and thoughts prior to a ritual working. You may wish to use a standard Purification Bath Salt for all your rites, or you may choose to create a specific Bath Salt that you have composed specifically for the work at hand. The Ritual Bath will help you to focus on the Magick you are about to begin and cause your auric (energy) field to begin vibrating at the same frequency as the type of Magick in which you will be engaging.

Each time you use a Bath Salt or mixture of purifying bath herbs, you will immerse yourself in the water, visualizing all negative vibrations washing away from your body and your energy field. You will allow your muscles to relax and your mind to empty of all thoughts except those that pertain to your ritual. There are several ways to use Bath Salts or their herbal derivatives as you purify yourself in preparation for your work:

Bath Salt: Make a Bath Salt composed of sea salt and essential oils.

Bath Tea: Compose a mixture of herbs and oils and place it in a tea ball or ironable tea bag (these bags are open on one end to stuff with herbs; after you have put your herbal mixture inside, you then iron it shut with a clothing iron).

Bath Tussie: Place your herbs, essential oils, and a tablespoon of sea salt in a cloth bag with a drawstring or on a flat piece of tightly woven  cheesecloth that is then knotted closed. With a Tussie, draw your bath, step in without sitting down, dip the Tussie in the hot water, and scrub your body with it. Then place the Tussie in the bathwater and proceed to soak.

Bath Elixir: Create an elixir by simmering two cups of your herbal mixture in a quart of water for twenty minutes. Strain the herbs from the water, squeezing out the excess water from the herbs and into the liquid you are collecting. This liquid elixir is then added to your bathwater.

***

As the herbs and essential oils comprising your Bath Salt or purifying bath herb combination will be coming in contact with your skin (and in the case of a bath in which you soak, coming in contact with very sensitive and intimate parts of your body), you do not want to use any oils or herbs that will sting, blister, or otherwise harm your body or make you uncomfortable. If you know you have an allergy to any particular herb recommended for use with a specific Planetary energy, don’t use it. It is very hard to concentrate during a meditation or ritual when you are sneezing or have raised hives on your body!

Herbs you should never use in the bath include nettles, cayenne (it shouldn’t hurt your skin but will wreak havoc if you get some of the bathwater in your eyes), valerian (unless you want to emerge from the water smelling like an old sock), cinnamon, cloves, dragon’s blood resin (this won’t hurt you but will be hard to remove from the bath tub and can also permanently stain enamel), and asafoetida (whose aromatic effects are similar to valerian’s). Ragweed is an herb that often grows among chamomile. Many people are allergic to ragweed, and if you have pollen- or plant based allergies, I recommend that you not use chamomile in the event that ragweed was inadvertently harvested with it. You will always want to use fine sea salt in your mixtures rather than a larger rock salt type. Sit down in the bathtub on the rock salt and you’ll immediately know why.

If you store your Bath Salts in airtight glass containers, you should be able to use them in their full strength for approximately one year. Do not store your Bath Salts in a metal container. The metal can react with the salts, leaving bits of corroded metal debris in your salts. Most people will use about three tablespoons of Bath Salts per bath. You can certainly use more or less depending on your personal tastes.

Pour one cup of fine sea salt into a glass bowl or mortar. Add your essential oils one by one, thoroughly mixing in each one before adding the next and smelling the salts before adding the next oil. Start with five drops of each oil—you can always add more of a scent that you particularly like, but it is impossible to take the oil out. For one cup of sea salt, you will usually end up using around one hundred drops of oil. You want your Bath Salts to look slightly damp but not oily. After combining the essential oils to your liking, add one-quarter cup of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) if you would like your bath to be slightly bubbly and fizzy. You may also want to add color to the salts in accordance with the Planetary or energy color of the Magick you plan to do: green for a prosperity bath, blue for a tranquility bath, and so on. You may use regular food coloring that you can find in the baking section of the grocery store or go to a store that has food coloring for cake frosting. These colors come in small jars and are in a paste form. You need to add only a tiny bit to get intense color. You will find the purple cake frosting coloring to be very helpful, since when you mix blue and red liquid food coloring, no matter what you do, it will come out gray. For a full listing of the energy properties of color, see the list under “Colors for Your Herbal Amulet” in chapter 14. For a Bath Salt, you will be combining only essential oils, not herbs. This is purely for an aesthetic reason. If you put a Bath Salt containing herbs directly into the bath, you will have herbal debris floating on the top of the bathwater. This debris will stick to your skin when you emerge from the bath, and you’ll have to thoroughly wipe down the tub when you are done.

When making an herbal bath mixture to be placed in a bag or tea ball and then infused in the hot bathwater, you will determine the herbs and oils you wish to use. Keep in mind that myrrh resin granules will dissolve and be sticky and mastic; arabic and pine resins will become soft and sticky. I would advise using myrrh or pine oil in place of the resins in a bath herbal mixture, and the oil of elemi in the place of mastic or arabic resin if you desire to include Mercurial or Uranian energy. In your mortar or a glass bowl, place one teaspoon of each of your herbs. Crush and mix them together with the pestle and then add a few drops of your chosen essential oils. Mix thoroughly, then fill your tea bag half full and iron shut, or fill your tea ball halfway. The herbs will expand as they absorb water from the bath. When you use the tea bag, immerse it in the hot water for a few minutes, then squeeze it in your hand to release the liquid that has absorbed into the herbs. If using a tea ball, let it steep in the bath for five minutes or so and then hang it under the water spigot if you are still running water into the bath. If you are not running water, you can just let it bob along in the water as you soak and meditate.

In making a Tussie, combine one or two teaspoons of your herbs in your mortar or glass bowl and add your essential oils and, last, about a quarter cup of sea salt. Since you won’t be putting this mixture loose into the bathwater, you can use either a finely ground sea salt or a larger rock sea salt. Place the mixture into a cloth pouch with a drawstring or onto the center of a flat cloth that you will tie shut. Immerse the Tussie in the bathwater after you have entered the tub or shower and scrub your body with it. Then let it float in the bathwater or hang it from the showerhead.

If you choose to make an Herbal Bath elixir, combine your herbs into a mixture that is two cups in volume. Crush and mix the herb mixture in your mortar or glass bowl, then simmer the mixture in a quart of water for twenty minutes. Let cool until the herbs are comfortable to handle.  Strain out the herbs, squeeze any additional water from the herbs into the resulting elixir liquid, and add any essential oils you desire at this time.After you have drawn your bath, add as much of the elixir as you like to the water. If you are showering, dip your washcloth into the elixir and wipe down your body at the end of the shower, leaving an herbal wash on your skin.

Hermes Trismegistus – A Brief Introduction

If you’ve read any book on magic or the occult then you’ve most likely come across the name Hermes Trismegistus. Then you probably asked yourself, “Who was Hermes Trismegistus?” Excellent question, intrepid reader! I hope this helps!

The following is an excerpt from (the increasingly indispensable) The Book of Secrets by Daniel Pineda

Hermes Trismegistus

Hermes Trismegistus or Thrice Greatest Hermes was worshipped as the Greco-Egyptian deity and patron of magic, astrology, alchemy, and spiritual advancement. He was called thrice great because he had attained mastery over the realms of heaven, earth, and humankind, making him the epitome of priests, philosophers, and kings. It is from him that the doctrines of Hermeticism proceed, being chiefly concerned with the realization of divinity within the individual and the betterment of society through scientific advancement. Many scholars understand him to be the synthesis of the Greek Hermes with the Egyptian Thoth, thus establishing him as both messenger of God and creator of language.

According to legend, Hermes Trismegistus is at times described as the contemporary of various biblical patriarchs, most notably Abraham and Noah. There are thousands of writings attributed to him, each revealing the secrets of existence and the path to uniting the soul with the eternal One. The most famous of these writings is the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, a document that has been translated by a multitude of  occult scholars including Sir Isaac Newton and Giorgio Beato.

Here is the Latin translation of the Emerald Tablet from Chrysogonus Polydorus, Nuremberg, 1541, along with a new English translation by the author.

Verum, sine mendacio, certum et verissimum:

Being true, without lying, certain, and of the highest order of truth:

Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula reiunius.

The inferior is alike to the superior, and the superior is alike to the inferior, in reaching the performance of the one miraculous matter.

Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re, adaptatione.

And as all things come from the One, meditating on the One, so also are all things born from the One thing, through change.

Pater eius est Sol. Mater eius est Luna.

His Father is the Sun. His Mother is the Moon.

Portavit illud Ventus in ventre suo. Nutrix eius terra est.

Carried by the Wind in its belly, He is nursed by the Earth.

Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic.

In this is the Father of all the rites and magical workings of the world.

Virtus eius integra est si versa fuerit in terram.

His Power is integrated if it enters the earth.

Separabis terram ab igne, subtile ab spisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio.

Dividing the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, with gentleness, greatness, and genius.

Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum.

He Climbs the earth to heaven, then descends back to the earth, and receives the superior and inferior powers.

Sic habebis Gloriam totius mundi. Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas.

Therefore you have the glory of the entire world. Thus you may expel all obscurities.

Haec est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit.

She is the source of strength within the strength of force, being victorious over all subtleties, completely penetrating the hard.

Sic mundus creatus est.

For this reason was the world created.

Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus est hic.

Hence there have been miraculous changes, which have been effected through this method.

Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.

Thus am I called Hermes Thrice Greatest, holding the three parts of the philosophies of the whole World.

Completum est quod dixi de operatione Solis.

Complete are my words concerning the Solar operation.

The Emerald Tablet is a foundational work of the Western mystery tradition, revealing the detailed operations of the Great Work. Hermes  Trismegistus, a spring of wisdom, has continued to guide aspirants both in spirit and thought within Hermetic literature.

Now this may not answer all of your questions about that primary figure of the Hermetica, but it is a good place to start – and from here,  I suggest the following for further investigation:

The Eternal Hermes; From Greek God to Alchemical Magus by Antoine Faivre, transl. by Joscelyn Godwin

Esoteric Tuesday – A Brief Look at Qabalah

The following excerpt is from Daniel Pineda’s essential guide to all things occult and esoteric, The Book of Secrets. Enjoy!

Qabalah

Every magician, therefore, should study the Holy Qabalah.
Once he has mastered the main principles,
he will find his work grow easy.
Magick in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley

Qabalah, or QBL as it is spelled in Hebrew, is a word meaning “to receive” and refers to a system of classifying various phenomena as well as  discovering the hidden meaning of the Bible and other Holy Scriptures. Many distinct philosophical movements use qabalistic symbolism and  methodology, each attributing their own meaning to its mystical concepts and parables. Among these are the Jewish and Hermetic  interpretations. Though Qabalah is a Hebrew word, it did not arrive from Judaism fully formed, borrowing from Greek, Arab, and Egyptian philosophy and dogma to form its deep and transcendent character. These other sects also borrowed from the Jewish sages, and in time, the  advanced students could begin to see an underlying unity connecting all ancient philosophy.

In modern occultism, the Qabalah forms the theoretical and operational foundation. It is the language of the secret tradition shared by  practically every group. Its study can be divided into three parts: the Literal, the Practical, and the Cosmological. Study of the Literal, or  written, Qabala may be divided into three parts:

1. Gematria: Discovering the hidden meaning of words by calculating their numerical value. Some ancient languages tend to have alphabets in  which each letter may also represent a number. For example, the Greek words for will (Thelema) and love (Agape) both add up to ninety-three.  It is therefore to be assumed that there is some sympathy between these two concepts, or that one word will shed light on the meaning of the other.

2. Notariqon: Finding a secret message by either taking each letter of a word to be the first letters of words forming another sentence, or doing  the reverse and taking the first letter of each word in a sentence and forming a new word. For example, BRAShiTh is Hebrew for “in the  beginning,” and can be expanded to BRAShiTh RAH ALHIM ShIQBLV ThVRH, or “In the beginning Elohim saw that Israel would accept the  law.”

3. Temura: The permutation of a word into another word using a cipher. For example, by using the method of ALBTh, or Albath, in which the  Hebrew alphabet is folded in half, and the letters of a word are substituted for its match, the word KOL or Kol, “master,” is transmuted into  ChMA or Chema, “heat or fury.” According to this method, we can gain deeper insight into the nature of the master, meditating on the sentence, “The master may reveal himself as the fury of fire.” By using this method we can make many wonderful discoveries, each aiding in the   apprehension of spiritual truth.

The Practical Qabalah involves the use of symbolism and scripture in the creation of spells, amulets, astrological interpretation, and ceremonial magic. Among the most famous instances of the use of the Practical Qabalah, is the story of the Golem of Prague, created by Rabbi Judah Loew  ben Bezalel in the 16th century. Rabbi ben Bezalel used the golem (a creature made of clay that is brought to life by reciting special incantations) to defend the Jews from an antagonistic and corrupt government. He finally deactivated the creature after the Holy Roman  Emperor promised to end the persecution of the Jews. It is said that to this day, the golem lies dormant in the attic of a synagogue in the Czech Republic.

The Qabalistic Tree of Life

Qabalistic cosmology has its foundation in the Otz Chayim, or Tree of Life. It is a glyph that allows Adepti to catalog all experiences and ideas in its twenty-two paths, and the ten Sephira or emanations. Preceding these emanations are three veils of negative existence (AIN, AIN SOPH, and AIN SOPH AUR) expressed numerically as (–1) + (+1) = 0. In this case the word negative refers not  o numerical value, but to the pre-manifest state, the prerequisite polar tensions of potentiality necessary to manifestation. The  universe cannot know the particular without first limiting itself, thus the first Sephira, called Kether (The Crown) is the point of view,  being one, individual, and eternal. From Kether issues forth the other Sephira until reaching the tenth emanation called  alkuth, or the Kingdom. Below this are the Qliphoth, the shells or husks of materiality that are empty images and are considered to be evil by most schools of qabalistic philosophy.

Each Sephira represents a state of divine consciousness, acting like the layers of an onion, enveloping the innermost core of being.  The twenty-two paths each correspond with a Hebrew letter, connecting the Sephira to one another and instructing mystics  on the proper method of peeling away each layer from the cosmic onion.

The Four Worlds

Within the Tree of Life are Four Worlds, or levels of being. These Worlds each have their own function and correspond to the Tetragrammaton, IHVH:

I, Yod: The First of these is Atziluth, the realm of pure divinity.

H, Hé: The Second is Briah, the realm of creation and archangels.

V, Vauv: The Third is Yeztirah, the realm of ideas and formation.

H, Hé: The Fourth is Assiah, the realm of materiality and the heavenly bodies.

Armed with this symbol, Qabalists can organize their mind and thoughts while affirming the underlying unity of phenomenal cause.  They ascend the Tree of Life, from Malkuth to Kether, touching every possible plane of existence along the way while  balancing each idea with its opposite.

Esoteric Tuesday – “The Training and Work of an Initiate”

Ankhie has noted here before the great good fortune of working for a company that publishes excellent esoteric and occult books (among others) and the even better fortune of having daily access to their physical in-house library.  My desk is piled high with titles old and new – an education at my fingertips. The problem, of course, is time.  Despite the temptation of the Dion Fortune cracked open beside me, I have emails to respond to, radio shows to book, and press releases to draft. So the books pile even higher – browsed, bitten, but rarely devoured. The exceptions are the titles chosen for The Weiser Book Club.

It began two years ago on Twitter, as a way to talk about new books  (Thorn Coyle’s Kissing the Limitless was the first selection) and drew an enthusiastic group of participants. The Book Club is still Twitter based, but now incorporates older classics as well as frontlist, engaging a group of informed and passionate readers, hungry for the type of peer-run education that a good book group can provide.

Which brings me to an idea that’s been bubbling around my brain these past few, snowbound days.

What if we expand the Book Club into something… more? Something like peer-led discussions  – topic, not just title based – a community forum, of sorts, with moderators that include Weiser authors as well as the bloggers, friends and tweeps that we have come to know and trust as authorities on certain subjects.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I would rally like to have your opinions on this!

In the meantime I offer this little excerpt from Dion Fortune’s The Training and Work of an Initiate:

The good occult student should have a sound general knowledge of natural science, history, mathematics and philosophy. He cannot, naturally, have a thorough knowledge of all these subjects, but he should know their outlines; he should be familiar with the principles of all the sciences and know the methods of philosophy. Then, when he acquires special knowledge, he will be able to see it in relation to the cosmic scheme of which it forms a part, and hence will know it in a very different way from the man who perceives it apart from its environment. The one has a living plant in the garden under his observation, the other has a dried specimen in the herbarium. The relativity of knowledge has long been realised, but the unity of knowledge has not yet received justice. Although a man can only excel by specialization, it is essential that he should have a background against which he can see his knowledge in perspective.

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The professors of a university are not willing to ground students in the elements of knowledge that belong to the schoolroom, and when the student wishes to undertake the higher studies of esoteric science, he should come as completely equipped as exoteric studies can make him.