Exploring the intersection of magic, culture, spirituality, and humanity

Month: July 2022

Shining Forth Ḥeka

Ḥeka is the Egyptian god and principle of magic, and is perhaps one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon, but has received almost no attention within the Golden Dawn tradition. I recently wrote a paper which represents my own attempt to shed light on the person of Ḥeka as well as the related concepts; to detail the surrounding vocabulary; and to explore the corresponding interrelationships, especially as they may touch on or inform areas of Golden Dawn theory and practice.

You can find a PDF of the essay in the Articles section of this site, or simply click here: Shining Forth Ḥeka: New Perspectives on the Eldest Magician

LBRH – Advanced Theory

In my last video on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, I gave the bare rudiments of practical information so you can perform the ritual competently in the Golden Dawn tradition. Now it’s time to dig into the whys and wherefores behind the ritual, and take a deep dive into the theory.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram was historically one of the first rituals that an Adeptus Minor in the Golden Dawn would encounter, and among the first they were expected to master along with the rest of the Pentagram and Hexagram Rituals.

Whereas the Pentagram Rituals are intended to work with the Elemental realm, the Rituals of the Hexagram are used specifically for working with the Planets.  In the same way that the LBRP is not an Elemental ritual, however, but rather a general Microcosmic banishing, it may also be fair to say that the LBRH is a general Macrocosmic banishing rather than a specifically Planetary ritual.  Regardless, because the Hexagram is especially referred to the Planets and their corresponding Sephiroth, it can be said that the LBRH “shakes the cosmic Etch-a-Sketch” on this level, so to speak.  As a result, you should use it to clear the astral air before doing any sort of working with the planets or the Sephiroth.

So the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram is a planetary banishing, and also a general Macrocosmic banishing.  In the Golden Dawn system, the Hexagram Ritual is also used to create the magic circle for a planetary or sephirothic working (which is a different operation from the banishing!), but this is done via the Lesser Invoking Hexagram appropriate to that specific planet rather than the general Lesser Banishing Hexagram. 

This is different from the Pentagram Ritual, in which the LBRP is always used as a preamble to any more advanced working and is done again at its conclusion.  By contrast, the banishing forms of the Hexagram Ritual are used only to clear the air prior to performing a Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram in an unconsecrated space, or to “tear down” the magic circle previously built up in ritual with the appropriate Lesser Invoking Hexagram.  The one circumstance where the LBRH would be used in a specifically planetary context is when you’re working with the energies of multiple planets at the same time—in which case you’ll still open with the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram, and only use the LBRH to tear down the circle afterward.

Just like the LBRP uses Earth, the densest and heaviest element, as a shorthand notation for a general banishing ritual, the LBRH uses Saturn, the densest and heaviest planet, as its own shorthand notation for general banishing.  Saturn, the planet of limits and of boundaries, is also symbolically appropriate to the task—just as the LBRP is suitable for “grounding” to microcosmic earth.

Each Hexagram in the LBRH is composed of two triangles, and the corners or vertices of these triangles correspond to individual planets as laid out around Tiphereth on the Tree of Life.  The first triangle is always traced starting from the point of the planet you’re working with; the second one is traced starting from the point directly opposite that planet.  In the case of the Saturn Hexagram, used in the LBRH, the first triangle always begins at the point of Saturn and the second triangle always begins at the point of the Moon.

The four forms of the hexagram were originally spotted by S. L. MacGregor Mathers in a manuscript of the Key of Solomon on one of the Solomonic pentacles, and were adapted to the four directions in the LBRH.  The Hexagrams do have distinct elemental attributions according to the direction in which they’re drawn.  Additionally, the hexagrams are always formed of a triangle of Fire and one of Water, thus maintaining a state of equilibrium.  In the LBRH, the Fire triangle is always drawn first as Saturn resides at the apex of this triangle when it’s superimposed on the Tree of Life.

Unlike the Pentagrams, which are assigned to the directions according to the Four Winds attribution, the Hexagrams are assigned to the directions using the astrological scheme.  The cardinal directions correspond in this case to the four Cardinal Signs of astrology:  Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

In the East, in the place where the Sun rises in Aries at the Vernal Equinox, the Fire Hexagram is composed of two upright triangles—the only hexagram in which this is the case.  The Water triangle in this case is flipped, and is the bottom of the two.  This hexagram was given to the East because the two upright triangles echo the elemental symbol for Fire, and like Fire they reach toward the heavens.

In the South, corresponding to Capricorn, is the Earth Hexagram.  The Earth Hexagram is the form we’re all familiar with, with two interlocking triangles.  This echoes the symbol of the Hexagram on the Earth Pentacle of the Adept, and represents the Microcosmic realm of Earth on the Macrocosmic level.

In the West, the place of Libra and the Autumnal Equinox, is the Air Hexagram.  The Air Hexagram is formed out of two triangles that touch on one side, and this form of the Hexagram was assigned to the element of Air because the diamond shape resembles the octahedron, the Platonic solid corresponding to that element.

Finally, in the North, the direction of Cancer, we have the Water Hexagram.  Unlike the Air Hexagram, the Water Hexagram is made out of two triangles that touch at one point.  This form of the Hexagram was referred to the element of Water because the shape is said to resemble a cup.

A full discussion of the Analysis of the Key-Word really warrants its own separate treatment, and is beyond the scope of the LBRH—but suffice it to say that the L.V.X. signs are the grade signs of Adeptus Minor; and they’re used in the macrocosmic Hexagram Ritual in the same way that the elemental and Portal grade signs are used in the microcosmic Pentagram Ritual, in its Greater and Supreme forms.  The Analysis of the Key-Word that summarizes the L.V.X. formula is an expression of equilibrium and balance similar to the Qabalistic Cross, insofar as it expresses the macrocosmic currents of Chesed and Gevurah harmonized on the Middle Pillar in Tiphereth.

The Divine Name used in each of the four quarters in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram is ARARITA.  This is a notariqon, or Hebrew acrostic—much like AGLA in the LBRP stands for “Atah Gibor Le-Olam Adonai”, or “Thou art great forever, O Lord”.  In this case, ARARITA stands for “Echad Rosh, Achduto Rosh Yichudo, Temurato Echad” (אחד ראש אחדותו ראש יחודו תמורתו אחד).  This is traditionally translated as “One is His Beginning; One is His Individuality; His Permutation is One”.  A better translation, however, might be something like “One is the Beginning of his Unity/Oneness; his Beginning is his Uniqueness; his Permutation is One”.

According to Éliphas Lévi, in Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, translated into English by A. E. Waite as Transcendental Magic, ARARITA is the sound by which the Tetragrammaton was pronounced.  Lévi includes some typically dense prose about the significance of the way the word is formed, but most notably for our purposes, the name ARARITA is composed of seven letters—ideal for use when working with the seven planets; and indeed the Hexagram Ritual assigns one of the letters of the name ARARITA to each specific planet.  This comes into play when performing the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram, but you need not concern yourself with the finer points of detail for the purposes of the LBRH.

The name ARARITA itself originates in Jewish Kabbalah around the beginning of the 13th century.  The expanded notariqon itself also appears in gate 21 chapter 3 of the 16th century Kabbalistic text Pardes Rimonim, or the Garden of Pomegranates—the same text Israel Regardie named his book about Qabalah after.  But I digress.  The composition of the name ARARITA is interesting and contains Kabbalistic significance, but since it’s beyond the scope of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, I’ll leave you to pursue that rabbit hole on your own if you like, alongside the Analysis of the Key-Word.

That wraps up the theory of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram.  Thanks for reading and/or watching.

Golden Dawn Self-Initiation – Ciceros vs. Lyam Thomas Christopher

The Ciceros and Lyam Thomas Christopher have provided the most popular and accessible routes to self-initiation in the Golden Dawn tradition. I have things to say about both systems, but the upshot is that both work, both have different approaches, and it’s really a matter of personal preference. You can probably also mix and match effectively to some extent, you’ll just have to be proactive in understanding what part of the material is there for what reasons.

I’m familiar with both curricula: I actually started with the Ciceros’ SI book about 20 years ago when I was first getting into the system myself, back before I got into a more traditional temple setting, and I’ve read through LTC’s curriculum as well. The two have very different approaches.

Firstly, on an energetic level, both the Cicero route and the LTC route appear to “work”—which is to say, they both do the job of connecting you to the Golden Dawn Current. How they go about doing that differs, and the education they present alongside it differs almost as starkly. The strategy the Ciceros take is ceremonial, and if you’re drawn to the ritual aspects of the tradition that might resonate better with you. LTC takes a more meditation-based approach. You get meditations in the Ciceros’ curriculum as well, they just don’t do quite the same heavy lifting.

LTC also departs a bit from the mainstream of the tradition in that he gives a lot of Adept magical work in the earlier grades, and in particular I look askance at his decision to use the unicursal hexagram in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram (it has precedent within the tradition, but it’s nonstandard). So LTC diverges from the mainstream not just in the way he handles the initiatory current, but also the traditional learning curriculum.

(To be clear, I don’t necessarily take issue with the way that LTC does this or the reasons for which he arrives at it, I just find that where he ends up at looks different from the Golden Dawn tradition the way I learned it in some manners that make me a bit uneasy—but this is my own bias and my feels, not something I’m arguing as a point either in favor or against.)

Both the Ciceros and LTC are fond of giving students a lot of busywork and information that isn’t directly pertinent to the alchemical operation of the grade energies of the Current, if you want to talk about what’s strictly necessary for the alchemical growth and development. If you look at the material you get tested on in the Ciceros’ SI book versus what you get tested on in traditional temple-based systems (I was a member of the Ciceros’ HOGD for about ten years, and was an Adept and a temple chief), you see that they require you to learn a lot more. Which I find problematic. But LTC isn’t any better on that front.

But again, both approaches work. I personally prefer and recommend the Ciceros’ SI book if you’re going to choose one over the other, just because it’s more representative of the wider tradition that other people are following; and if you’re working with the Ciceros’ material, you’ll find a lot of other people with the same foundation. It’s also easy to work LTC’s meditations into the Ciceros’ curriculum as well, or to use the Ciceros’ ritual self-initiations with LTC’s. I don’t think mixing and matching is at all an issue here.

So to sum up, the best thing to recommend the Ciceros’ course is that they follow the Regardie-traditional rubric common to most of the living Golden Dawn community, and being in step with that living Tradition is especially important to me. If you prefer solitary work or if you don’t plan on joining an order, that’s probably not going to be a factor for you.

Finally, a word on the commonly-stated advice that one shouldn’t practice other (non-GD) rituals when it comes to Outer Order curriculum. This advice can generally be read in two ways. Firstly, you’re trying to learn a language; so you want to avoid taking on too much information outside the GD system in order to avoid “muddying the waters” by confusing yourself or getting your wires crossed. And that’s entirely a matter for your own honest assessment of your capabilities. Some people have no problem studying multiple systems at once, some people do. Use your discretion. The second reason largely comes down to concerns about systems that may be at actual cross-purposes with each other. It’s perhaps debatable whether it actually does any harm to pursue GD and OTO initiation simultaneously, for example, but it’s generally considered a) weird, since Thelema rejects what it perceives as the Old Aeon; and b) bad form, because you’re splitting yourself thinly. This particular kind of objection may have more substance, but it’s a rarer situation—and even then debatable. Either way, it is probably not wise to “cross the streams” of multiple initiatory energies from multiple currents at the same time. Bottom line, assess your own capabilities and act accordingly. Nothing catastrophic is going to happen from attempting to study multiple systems at once.

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