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Towards a Greek Kabbalah: The Divine Name IAŌ on the Tetractys

We’ve come a good way in developing a cosmic framework and map for ourselves based on Pythagorean principles, as well as coming to understand the mysteries of the Greek letters in their roles as entities and functions of the creation of the cosmos.  I also hope you’ve kept up on your meditations, dear reader, since they’ll only ever come of more and more usefulness as we continue this path.  Last time, we analyzed the geometry of the tetractys and devised a set of 24 paths that connect the different units on the diagram, allowing us to think in terms of processes between stages of manifestation and existence in tandem with and instead of thinking of the cosmos as a series of levels or plateaus.  I want to take a brief segue here before we go onto ascribing the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet to the paths, instead so that we can talk about using a subset of the paths and how we can use them in meditation of one of the most commonly-seen names of God throughout Hermetic and Western magic for the past 2000 years: that of IAŌ, or ΙΑΩ.

This name has been declared mystical for so many reasons, not least because it has an etymological origin in the Tetragrammaton of the Jews.  Hebrew didn’t have a means for marking vowels, so all things were only marked by consonants; some of the letters pulled double-duty as vowels, but the practice varies from dialect to dialect, and the use of dots and lines (neqqudot) to denote vowels is a relatively recent creation.  Thus, the pronunciation of the divine name spelled Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh, or YHVH, has long since been forgotten, although there’s good reason to think it was pronounced something like “Yahweh” or “Yahwoh”.  The Ionic Greek alphabet has no means to describe a “w” sound (since Digamma was obsolete) or a “h” sound (since Attic Greek lost this sound in its development), and the only means to describe a “y” sound would be to use Iōta.  The use of Vav-Heh, VH, on the end of the Tetragrammaton likely produced a lengthened “o” or low “uh” sound, and the closest agreement to that in Ionic Greek script would be Ōmega.  Thus, the Tetragrammaton was likely written in Greek as a trigrammatic word ΙΑΩ, “ya-oh”, though it might be pronounced by those in the know as “ya-woh” or “ya-hoh”.

However, even considering its Judaic origin, the rules of grammatomancy give this word a special meaning, too.  Each of these letters is a vowel, and each vowel represents a planet; Iōta represents the Sun, Alpha the Moon, and Ōmega Saturn.  Saturn is the most distant of all the planets, and the Moon the closest, with the Sun representing the balance and middle of the planetary heavens.  Thus, in the word ΙΑΩ, we encapsulate the entirety of the heavens by means of its middle, beginning, and end.  Some magicians expand this into the full name ΑΕΗΙΟΥΩ, representing all seven planets, but ΙΑΩ remains the original name of heavenly power.  I’ve also read further explanations about the holiness of this name, relating to the Gnostic creation of the cosmos by the Sophia Achamoth exclaiming ΙΑΩ when prevented from reentering the Pleroma, solar or Tipharethic associations in the Golden Dawn, and lunar-solar connections besides these entirely.  It remains that ΙΑΩ is a divine name worthy of our attention, however, and we can analyze its letters on our Tetractys of Life in a way that benefits our meditation.

First, let’s consider a subset of the paths we developed last time, focusing only on the horizontal paths between the units of a given level on the tetractys:

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On the first row, there is only one unit, the Monad.  There are no other units on this row; the Monad is alone, single, undifferentiated, simple.  There is no connection, no relation, no path among other points in this row since there is only one point; a connection can only exist with at least two points.  The Monad describes that which Is, but never Becomes; no relationship can exist if there is nothing to relate to.  By contrast, the other rows have multiple points, and between each pair of points there exists a relationship; the Dyad has one possible connection, the Triad two, and the Tetrad three.  Each point can communicate with its equals, but only those that are nearby enough or close enough in understanding to communicate; thus, the two far ends of the Triad cannot communicate with each other except by means of the center.

Compare this to actual human conversation.  When there is only one person, no speech will communicate anything, since there is nobody to communicate with.  There is only ever the single person alone, so speech becomes as useful as silence; communication becomes a concept that simply cannot apply in this situation.  On the other hand, consider two people together; they can communicate between themselves.  With three, they can communicate together as well, but only if they are in a harmony where each idea communicated between them flows amongst themselves equally; if two people try to shout over each other, the third drops out of the conversation, so a harmony must be established where each talks to the other by means of the third to mediate and further elevate the conversation.  Four people produce this but with even more tension or instability, though again they can let ideas flow between themselves by means of each as a mediator to allow for constant change and refinement.

Each path in this pared-down Tetractys, then, indicates a relationship between the forces present within a certain level of manifestation, and we can ascribe one of the letters of the name ΙΑΩ to each path.  By this, we understand what the relationship becomes between each force within a level, as well as how the name of ΙΑΩ can illumine us in the work of ΙΑΩ, as well as expanding on our knowledge of the letters themselves present in this schema.  However, each level of the tetractys will have a different name corresponding to the number of paths present in each level.

The first level of the Monad has no paths.  Thus, there can be no letter ascribed to this level of manifestation, since this level is all about the Unmanifest.  If there is no letter, there is no speech; this level is about silence, much as I’ve discussed about the Hymns of Silence.  The Hymns of Silence are the deepest, ineffable, unutterable prayers and praise we can offer to the One, and stand present and behind everything we say but cannot itself be spoken.

The second level of the Dyad has one path, and I give this path to the letter Alpha.  Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and so represents beginnings and initiations of all kinds.  This level of the tetractys represents the beginning formation of creation, with the differentiation of Unity into two Differences, a Positive and Negative, Light and Dark, Male and Female.  This is the first step in the creation of the cosmos, and is the first time we have anything besides a single Unity; rather, we can now have our first Union.  Some ancient Greek philosophers even considered Alpha to be a symbol of the Monad itself, since by isopsephy Α = 1.  Further, when writing Greek, the use of Alpha as a prefix (“α-”) signified “not”, much as Latin “un-” or “in-”.  Alpha here indicates what things are not, which is how we differentiate things into two groups; something is Light or it is not Light, thus Darkness; something is Dark or it is not Dark, thus Light.  The Monad both is and is not everything and anything, since it cannot be described in any particular or finite terms, but it is by means of Alpha that we can begin to differentiate.

The third level of the Triad has two paths, and to these I ascribe the letters Alpha and Ōmega.  Now we have two letters indicating two relationships, and these are respectively the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  Alpha initiates and Ōmega ends, the Beginning Principle and Ultimate Conclusion of all things.  However, which path receives Alpha and which Ōmega?  I’d contend that both of them get both letters, and each becomes the subject of its own meditation.  On the one hand, we have the name (read left to right) ΑΩ, the Beginning and the End, proceeding from the left (passive Salt) to the center (hermaphoditic Mercury), beginning a process of refinement from the base to the sublime, and continuing on to the rightmost (active Sulfur), ending the same process.  On the other hand, if we use ΩΑ, we start from the right to the center, starting a procedure of manifestation and materialization, starting with pure spirit and ending with pure body.  Alpha and Ōmega could as easily represent either path here, and we can get more information if we figure out what ΑΩ or ΩΑ mean in Greek.  They both have an isopsephic value of 801, but ΑΩ can be translated as “breathe” or “hurt”, while ΩΑ can be translated as “eggs”.  The former can be understood as a process of respiration or mortification of the flesh to as to obtain new and true life (ascending to the One), while the latter can be interpreted as the process of generation, formation, and ensouling of material forms into new life down here (descending from the One).

The fourth level of the Tetrad has two paths, and these receive all three letters Iōta, Alpha, and Ōmega. However, which paths get which letters?  Alpha receives the middle path, between elemental Air and Water, since it falls under the topmost horizontal path between Darkness and Light in the Dyad; the path between Water and Air is a “lower register” of the path between Darkness and Light.  As for Iōta and Ōmega, a similar case exists with Alpha and Ōmega in the Triad above it; Iōta can be given to either path, and Ōmega to the other.  On the one hand, reading from left to right, we have ΙΑΩ; on the other, ΩΑΙ.  In either case, we now have representations of the whole heavens and the process of manifestation and becoming and existing in full among the lowest level of elements, the level of substance in the Tetractys.  Going from left to right, ΙΑΩ indicates a Solar beginning, a Lunar middle, and a Saturnine end: a process of bright enlivening followed by maturity and growth followed by decrepitude and passing away.  This describes how something of base material Earth becomes living Water, which then becomes spacious Air, and then luminous Fire, burning away to dust and out of this world.  Reading ΙΑΩ from right to left, however, we then see how pure ethereal Fire becomes gifted with sense and ability into communicative Air, which then condenses into emotional and sensitive Water, which further consolidates into physical, tangible Earth.  In either direction, we begin to see how creation and destruction, or materialization and sublimation, takes place in this level as it does a higher level.

So now we’ve analyzed the name ΙΑΩ according to a division of its letters based on the horizontal paths of the tetractys.  However, the analysis doesn’t stop here; note that there are two more sets of these types of paths on the tetractys that we’ve yet to inspect: those that go down and to the right to one’s nearest neighbor, and those that go down and to the left to one’s nearest neighbor:

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These have the same types of paths as before, but this time they’re on different “rows” of the tetractys.  I claim that each one of these, the horizontal set, the right-down, and the left-down set, each can be used in a type of meditation on the name ΙΑΩ but with different “seed” letters.  For instance, we used Alpha as the seed letter for the path that connected the Dyad, then augmented Ōmega in the Triad, then augmented Iōta in the Tetrad.  These other two tetractyes (yes, that is the plural of tetractys) can be set up such that they each have a different seed letter.  But which should be which?  Consider that, as we descend from the Monad to the right, we increase in a level of materialization (increasing the amount of differentiation and the ways of becoming more complex) but in a more active way: from the Monad we reach Light, then Sulfur, then Fire.  If we start at the Monad and descend to the left, we increase in materialization but in a more passive way: from the Monad we reach Darkness, then Salt, then Earth.  Taking a combination of left and right paths as we descend can yield different combinations of activity and passivity.  Thus, right-going paths increase in activity, and left-going paths decrease in passivity.  Horizontal paths, however, change the level of passivity or activity without changing in materialization.

So, which of these two tetractyes should start with Iōta and which with Ōmega?  If we use grammatomancy for this, Iōta  is assigned to the Sun, an active and masculine planet and associated with Sulfur, and Ōmega is assigned to Saturn, a passive and feminine planet associated with Earth.  Thus, the right-going tetractys should start with Iōta as the seed vowel (connecting the spheres of Salt and Water), while the left-going tectractys should start with Ōmega (connecting the spheres of Sulfur and Air).  The last connected row of these tetractyes would have that same seed letter in the middle path, with the other two letters around it; the right-going tetractys could have its tetradic paths read as ΩΙΑ or ΑΙΩ, and likewise the left-going tetractys could have its tetradic paths read as ΙΩΑ or ΑΩΙ.  As for the triadic paths, however, which should be the letter we augment to the original seed?  If we started with Alpha and augmented it with Ōmega in the horizontal tetractys, Ōmega is the next-most passive letter to Alpha, since Alpha began the process of differentiation in that tetractys and Ōmega provided a means for it to continue.  Thus, for the right-going tetractys with the seed syllable Iōta, we should augment it with Alpha, since Alpha is more passive than Iōta but not as passive as Ōmega (note how Alpha follows Iōta in the word ΙΑΩ).  Conversely, for the left-going tetractys with the seed letter Ōmega, we augment it with Iōta, because at the most extreme end of passivity that Ōmega represents, the only thing that can counter it is extreme activity, represented by Iōta.

Thus, for the three tetractyes, we have the following sequences of divine names:

  • Horizontal: Α, ΑΩ and ΩΑ, ΙΑΩ andΩΑΙ
  • Right-going: Ι, ΙΑ and ΑΙ, ΩΙΑ and ΑΙΩ
  • Left-going: Ω, ΩΙ and ΙΩ, ΙΩΑ and ΑΩΙ

If you’re confused, here’s what they look like graphically:

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Now we have a set of meditations on the names of God, which are permutations and combinations based on the name ΙΑΩ, for 18 paths of our tetractys.  But there are six paths leftover, aren’t there?  They’re the ones that connect the center spheres on the Tetractys of Life.  Can we develop a method of meditating on the name ΙΑΩ for them?  They don’t follow the same rules of being divided into groups of one, two, and three paths each based on tetractic rank, but we can figure out a system based on the horizontal, right-going, and left-going tetractyes all the same.  First, consider these leftover six paths:

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Note how, if we make a hexagon instead of a hexagram, we get the following:

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Remember anything special about these paths?  These are the paths that have a single letter attributed to them of the name ΙΑΩ, either the seed vowel itself (if it’s part of the Dyad rank) or the central vowel in the trigrammatic Name (if it’s part of the Tetrad rank):

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We can form the six hexagram paths by connecting the paths that share the same vowel:

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Seeing the relationship between these paths, we can assign the letter that forms the upper and lower boundaries of each rectangle to the paths that form the sides.  Thus, because the two vertical paths form a rectangle with the top and bottom paths given to Alpha, these two vertical paths are also given to Alpha.  The same logic goes for the other four paths here, giving us another two cyclical sets of three paths, each given to one of the vowels of the Name:

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With these paths, we lack a single-letter name and a two-letter name, but we have all possible three-letter names to meditate on depending on where and how we want to start.  More importantly, these paths form a cycle, a loop that can be continued on indefinitely, as opposed to the other path names that terminated.  Yet, by connecting them back to the other three tetractyes, we can form even more complex names that can consist of any combination of the letters Alpha, Iōta, and Ōmega.  Yet, because these paths cycle indefinitely with no distinct start nor end, it’s difficult to say whether these particular paths can be used for vocal meditation.  Rather, these paths indicate the many faces and paths of the name ΙΑΩ as a whole, a unit, a process that, though it may appear distinct, forms part of an undifferentiated Whole, the Monad.

This fourth set of paths on the tetractys is especially interesting because these paths don’t follow the same rules as the other paths that “stick to their rank”, as in the horizontal tetractys, nor do they indicate a part of manifestation from or sublimation to an original source, as in the right-going or left-going tetractyes.  Rather, these hexagram paths indicate something else entirely, a kind of communication or hidden link between forces of different rank and, sometimes, of different levels of activity and passivity, that can bring one to a whole new kind of understanding entirely that wouldn’t be obvious from the more rational or generational models of cosmic gnosis.  This helps us understand the difference in the types of paths that we’ve seen, not only to better understand the nature of change, ascent, and descent within the Tetractys of Life, but also to understand the paths themselves and how they can be grouped in different ways.  We’ll continue this soon as we begin to look at how we can use this foundation to build a set of correspondences between the paths themselves and the Greek letters.

And with that, I leave you once more with our Tetractys that with all its connections to meditate on using the name ΙΑΩ in all its parts and permutations:

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Towards a Greek Kabbalah: Letters on the Paths of the Tetractys

Where do we stand on our system of kampala, or Greek kabbalah?  We have letters, we have spheres, we have paths.  We’ve combined the paths with the spheres, and now we need to combine the paths with the letters.  This is the last big thing we have yet to do in order to fully develop our use of Greek letter-number-stoicheia mysticism into a full-fledged theurgic framework, turning simple grammatomancy into grammatotheurgy.  Last we checked in on our Tetractys of Life, we have the following ten spheres linked together with a set of 24 paths: Image may be NSFW.
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Each sphere is associated with a particular alchemical concept as well as a cosmic heaven, all coming down from the single, divinely simple, undifferentiated, all-generating Monad.  Seven of the ten spheres are moderate enough in their forces to be connected as completely as they can, while three are too extreme to be connected to any except their closest two forces.  So far, so good.  Now, let’s talk about the letters of the Greek alphabet.  It’s hard to assign the letters to these 24 paths based on their symbolic looks alone, and although the Greek letters are number, it’s also difficult to assign pure number to the paths by virtue of their cardinality, parity, or magnitude.  However, we have another route: using the stoicheia, or occult associations, of the Greek letters, which provide many more qualities and concepts on their own which can help us to figure out which path might best be represented on our Tetractys of Life.

Recall that the practice of stoicheia assigns one of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, one of the seven planets, or one of the five elements to each letter of the Greek alphabet.  After all, 12 + 7 + 5 = 24, so this can easily be done.  And, lo, it is!  Recall that there are three groups of letters in the Greek consonants: vowels, simple consonants, and complex consonants.  There are seven vowels (Α, Ε, Η, Ι, Ο, Υ, Ω), twelve simple consonants (Β, Γ, Δ, Ζ, Κ, Λ, Μ, Ν, Π, Ρ, Σ, Τ), and five complex consonants (Θ, Ξ, Φ, Χ, Ψ).  In that case, our division has already been made for us.  We give each of the vowels to one of the seven planets, starting with Alpha as the Moon and Ōmega as Saturn; we give each of the simple consonants to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, starting with Bēta as Aries and Tau as Pisces; we give each of the complex consonants to one of the five elements from most dense to least dense, from Thēta as Earth to Khi as Fire and Psi as Spirit.

The simplest way to assign these forces and their corresponding letters to the Tetractys of Life would be to base the selection on the geometry of the paths itself.  For instance, in the Jewish kabbalah’s Tree of Life which uses the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, there are three sets of paths: twelve diagonal paths, seven vertical paths, and three horizontal paths.  The diagonal paths are given to the zodiac signs; the vertical paths are given to the planets; the horizontal paths are given to the elements (Hebrew mysticism recognizes only Air, Fire, and Water as elements, with Earth and Spirit not being considered).  Kalagni over at Blue Flame Magick describes how he developed his own set of qabbalistic correspondences between the paths and the Hebrew letters based on their stoicheia, finding a closer resonance to the Jewish practice using the Hermetic Kircher Tree, which is different from the traditional Jewish kabbalah Tree of Life.  The Golden Dawn’s use of the Tree simply plots each path in a particular order from 11 at the top to 32 at the bottom, and gives each path a letter based on its order in the alphabet.  Kalagni and I agree in that this doesn’t suit the actual significance of the letters, so I should find some way to assign the Greek letters to the Tetractys of Life based on the geometry of the paths themselves.

Unfortunately, the 24 paths on the Tetractys don’t split up well into groups of 12, 7, and 5, so of course I’m going to have to think about this and figure out deeper connections that aren’t immediately apparent.  However, 24 is a nice number and can be easily and evenly divided into many smaller numbers: 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12.  Is it possible to use any of these factors to devise a scheme to divide the zodiac signs, elements, and planets into even groups?  And, if so, is there a coherent way to assign these groups to different groups of the paths? Recall from our meditations on the Greek divine name ΙΑΩ that we were able to divide the paths up into four groups of six: horizontal, right-going, left-going, and hexagram:

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The number four immediately brings to mind the lowest rank of the Tetractys, the realm of the four elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.  It might be possible that each of the paths in each set given above shares something about one of the elements in common, but how might we discern what those connections and relationships might be?  Let’s take a closer look at what the paths are actually connecting, again going back to our meditations on ΙΑΩ.

  • The paths that go right increase in activity; they are an expression of the masculine or active principle between levels of manifestation.  The Monad, as it differentiates itself into a Dyad, becomes the active force of Light; as Light differentiates itself, it becomes the active force of Sulfur; as Sulfur differentiates itself, it becomes the active force of Fire.  Fire is the lower-rightmost sphere on the Tetractys, indicating that the active principle as represented by an element is Fire.  The paths that go right are thus best associated with the element of Fire.
  • The paths that go left increase in passivity; they are an expression of the feminine or passive principle between levels of manifestation.  Thus, as the Monad descends into the elemental world, it becomes first Darkness, then Salt, then Earth, which is the lower-leftmost sphere on the Tetractys.  The paths that go left are associated with Earth.
  • The paths that are horizontal change in activity or passivity depending on which direction you’re going, but do not change in a level of manifestation.  The Monad, being undifferentiated, cannot change from itself except into itself; Darkness becomes Light, and vice versa; Salt becomes Mercury, and Mercury becomes Sulfur, and vice versa; Earth becomes Water, Water becomes Air, and so forth.  These horizontal paths demonstrate fluidity in energy while maintaining manifestation, which I understand to be the primary quality of Water, which flows from place to place.  The horizontal paths are associated with Water.
  • The hexagram paths change in diverse ways, some only in manifestation level while preserving the active/passive balance, some in drastic active/passive ways while changing manifestation only slightly.  The ability to change in such dramatic ways that should normally take several paths speaks of the quality of Air to me, since Air allows communication over long distances as well as rising and setting among and filling the gaps between the many heavens.  The hexagram paths are associated with Air.

Okay, so now we have four sets of paths that each share an element.  Thus, there should likewise be a way to divide up the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet into four groups of six by respecting their elemental associations.  We know that there are four letters for the four elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire; we also know that there are 12 letters for the signs of the Zodiac, which can be divided up by triplicity (elemental quality) into four groups of three.  Thus, we already have four groups of four letters for a total of 16:

Earth Water Air Fire
Capricorn Cancer Libra Aries
Taurus Scorpio Aquarius Leo
Virgo Pisces Gemini Sagittarius

This leaves seven planets and the leftover element of Spirit for a total of eight more letters.  Spirit, for the purposes of this analysis, can be considered a planet, since Spirit is not truly an element, nor is it truly a planet or zodiac sign, but a type of meta-force that can fit anywhere and accomplish anything as a foundation for other forces to combine and work with it.  Since Spirit is kinda-sorta higher than an element and kinda-sorta lower than a planet, yet can fit amongst either, we can think of these as a group of eight forces, which can be divided up into four groups of two based on their element.  Happily, by our association of the planets with the elements in our alchemical Tetractys of Life, we already know that Saturn is of Earth, Venus of Water, Jupiter of Air, and Mars is of Fire.  This leaves the Moon, Sun, Mercury, and Spirit:

  • The Moon, being on the direct descent from the Monad along the Earth paths to Saturn is given to the element of Earth.
  • Similarly, the Sun is given to Fire, since it’s on the direct descent from the Monad along the Fire paths to Mars.
  • Mercury is present in the center of the Tetractys, able to change in many ways to many other forces but never in the same ways that the Air paths do, leaving Mercury assigned to Water.
  • Spirit, being leftover, is given to Air.  However, Spirit as a raw force can transform anything into drastically different forces, performing miracles and works that no other element can, so this attribution is also fitting.

So now we have four groups of six forces, zodiacal and planetary and elemental, divided up along elemental lines:

Earth Water Air Fire
Saturn Venus Jupiter Mars
Moon Mercury Spirit Sun
Capricorn Cancer Libra Aries
Taurus Scorpio Aquarius Leo
Virgo Pisces Gemini Sagittarius

Alright, so now we need to find a way to assign the forces to the paths.  Of the four groups of paths, the Air sign is the odd one out (since it doesn’t fit the pattern of the other three), so let’s leave that aside for now and focus on the Fire, Water, and Earth paths.  We know that we can divide up these groups of six paths into a kind of partial-tetractys of their own consisting of three ranks (a trictys?): the first row has one path, the second row has two, and the third row has three.  We know that, among each division of our forces, we have one element, two planets, and three signs:

Element Earth Water Air Fire
Planet Saturn Venus Jupiter Mars
Moon Mercury Spirit Sun
Sign Capricorn Cancer Libra Aries
Taurus Scorpio Aquarius Leo
Virgo Pisces Gemini Sagittarius

So, based on this 1/2/3 division of both paths and forces, we can assign the single element to the single path of each group, the two planets to the row of two paths in each group, and the signs to the row of three paths in each group.  Assigning the element to the single path is trivial: give Water to the topmost horizontal path, Fire to the leftmost right-descending path, and Earth to the rightmost left-descending path: Image may be NSFW.
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We know that we have three sets of two planets, and one set is attributed to the elemental spheres directly on the lowest rank of the Tetractys of Life.  The other three appear higher up, indicating a more unmanifest or rarefied nature.  The Fire and Earth planetary paths have an upper path that link the Dyad and Triad and a lower component that link the Triad and Tetrad.  The lower path is given to the “lower” planet, lower as in the sense of manifestation according to the Tetractys, while the upper path is given to the “higher” planet in the same sense.  Thus, the upper path of Fire is given to the Sun, and the lower path to Mars, and the upper path of Earth is given to the Moon and the lower path to Saturn.  The Water path only has two horizontal components within the same rank, though one connects to a passive reagent and the other to an active reagent.  The path that connects to the passive reagent is considered “lower” in the same sense as above, as the path that connects to the active reagent is considered “higher”; thus, the leftward path of Water is given to Venus, and the rightward one to Mercury.

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So far, so good.  This only leaves the three paths of each set to be given to the three signs of the Zodiac for each element.  Each of the three Zodiac sign belonging to the same triplicity (element) is assigned a different quadruplicity, also known as a modality: cardinal, fixed, and mutable.  Cardinal signs initiate and begin; fixed signs maintain and hold; mutable signs degrade and prepare for transformation.

Element Earth Water Air Fire
Planet Saturn Venus Jupiter Mars
Moon Mercury Spirit Sun
Sign Cardinal Capricorn Cancer Libra Aries
Fixed Taurus Scorpio Aquarius Leo
Mutable Virgo Pisces Gemini Sagittarius

It’s a staple of astrology that the fixed signs best represent their element, and we know from our meditations before on the name ΙΑΩ that the central path in the row of three paths “maintains” or holds the same essence as the single path on the far side of the tetractys.  Thus, since that single path represents an element, the middle path on the other side of the tetractys should be the Zodiac sign that best represents that element, i.e. the fixed sign.  Thus, the middle path on each side of the Tetractys should be given to Taurus for the Earth paths, Scorpio for the Water paths, and Leo for the Fire paths: Image may be NSFW.
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From this, it remains to assign the cardinal and mutable signs.  Much as how we assigned the “active” planet to the upper or leftward-horizontal path and “passive” planets to the lower or rightward-horizontal paths based on whether they were more manifest or unmanifest in the Tetractys, we can apply a similar method here based on whether a zodiac sign is cardinal (more active) or mutable (more passive).  Thus, as we read the Earth zodiac sign paths from the Monad down to the bottom, we read Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo; as we read the Fire zodiac sign paths from the Monad down to the bottom, we read Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.  The Water paths are more active on the right and more passive on the left, so if we read the Water zodiac sign paths from left to right, we read Pisces, Scorpio, Cancer: Image may be NSFW.
Clik here to view.
Alright!  That covers it for the Fire, Water, and Earth paths of the Tetractys.  That only leaves the confusing hexagram paths of Air, where we can’t use the above system as cleanly anymore.  For one, instead of having three groups of 1, 2, and 3 paths, we have two cyclical sets of 3 paths each.  Both of these cycles have one vertical path, one right-going path, and one left-going path, so neither of them have an imbalance of passivity or activity.  We know that there are three signs of the Zodiac, though, so we can say that the Zodiac signs should all belong on one triangle and the element and two planets (really, the one planet Jupiter and the one meta-element of Spirit) go on the other.  So which should be which?  And, moreover, how do we figure out which line of the zodiac triangle paths is cardinal, fixed, or mutable?

Remember that, in our meditations on the name ΙΑΩ, we linked the long hexagram paths to the different sides of the Tetractys based on how the middle path of the side of the Tetractys linked to the single apex path on the far side.  These long paths then shared the same letter of ΙΑΩ as their shorter rectangular-end paths.  We can apply something similar here, too.  Also remember that 24 is divisible by many numbers, and we’ve so far been thinking about it as 4 × 6.  However, if we link the long paths of the hexagram with the Fire, Water, and Earth sets of lines as we did before with the name ΙΑΩ, we end up with 3 × 8, or three groups of eight paths:

Image may be NSFW.
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Image may be NSFW.
Clik here to view.
Image may be NSFW.
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Now, instead of thinking about the groups of paths in terms of four elements, let’s think about them in terms of the three modalities: cardinal, fixed, and mutable.  Cardinal signs are the most active; fixed signs are between active and passive; mutable signs are the most passive.  Thus, if we link these notions of activity and passivity to the three non-Air elements, we get cardinal signs associated with Fire (since they increase in activity), fixed signs with Water (since they hold the level of activity or passivity just as Water maintains manifestation across a rank of the Tetractys), and mutable signs with Earth (since they increase passivity).  Thus, on the triangle that gets the zodiac signs of Air, the paths linked to (at right angles with) the paths of a particular element receive that element’s modality.  So which triangle is the zodiac triangle, and which is the element/planet triangle?

Image may be NSFW.
Clik here to view.
Image may be NSFW.
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Looking at the triangles, we notice that the one that “points” to the left has a “base” (connecting Light and Air) on the right side of the Tetractys, giving it a foundation of activity tending towards passivity.  Similarly, the triangle that points to the right has a base (connecting Darkness and Water) on the left side, giving it a foundation of passivity tending towards activity.  The type of forces that we’re looking at is the key here: the fixed stars do little on their own besides radiate power, while the planets and elements actively manifest and create far down below.  The fixed stars, then, emit power but do not control it, letting their power and presence be used rather than actively using themselves; the planets and elements emit and radiate their power in the ways they find best for them, acting more than being acted upon.  Thus, the zodiac signs are best given to the triangle pointing to the right, since they’re mostly passive with tendencies towards action, while the planets/elements are best given to the triangle pointing to the left, since they’re mostly active with tendencies towards being acted upon.

So, if the Air signs of the Zodiac are given to the right-pointing triangle, and we know that the vertical line is fixed, the right-going line is mutable, and the left-going line is cardinal, we end up with this arrangement: Image may be NSFW.
Clik here to view.
Therefore, the left-pointing triangle is given to the forces of Air, Jupiter, and Spirit.  These don’t really fall into the scheme of cardinal/fixed/mutable, but we do know that for the Fire, Water, and Earth sets of paths, the path for the element is always on a “higher register” directly above the fixed sign on the far side of the Tetractys.  If we apply that same logic here, we see that the fixed Air sign Aquarius is on the vertical path of the right-pointing triangle, so the element of Air itself should go on the vertical path of the left-pointing triangle.  Between the planet Jupiter and the quasi-element Spirit, we can argue that Spirit is the more malleable, pervasive, and changeable than the firm and lofty power of Jupiter, which would make Jupiter more active than Spirit.  Since the only two choices we have left here are for a cardinal-active path and mutable-passive path, that would set Jupiter on the path opposite Libra and Spirit on the path opposite Gemini, with the result like this: Image may be NSFW.
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And that’s it!  All told, now we have all 24 paths assigned to the 12 signs of the Zodiac, the seven planets, the metaelement Spirit, and the four classical elements in a logical and coherent manner.  This means that we can finally associate each path of the Tetractys of Life with a letter, and with it a number and stoicheic force, in a manner like the following:


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You’ll note that there’s some criss-cross of the paths in the center where the hexagram paths overlap with the others.  In cases like this, the path on top is going to have its associated letter’s numerical value odd (if the one on the bottom is even) or greater than the one on the bottom (if they’re both odd or both even).  To determine an odd number or even number, I ignore the magnitude of the number and reduce it to a number 1 through 9; thus, Kappa, given the value of 20, is reduced to 2, so Kappa is even.  Likewise, Tau, given the value of 300, is reduced to 3, which makes Tau odd.

For the more tabularly inclined, here’s a helpful table plotting out each of the 10 spheres and the 24 paths of the Tetractys of Life, along with a bit about the Pythagorean virtues associated with each sphere on the Tetractys:

Sphere Lambdoma Alchemy Cosmological Virtue
1 1 Monad Infinite Light Henosis
2 2 Darkness Mundus Intuition
3 3 Light Fixed Stars Love
4 4 Salt Moon Satiety
5 6 Mercury Mercury Detachment
6 9 Sulfur Sun Submission
7 8 Earth Saturn Fortitude
8 12 Water Venus Prudence
9 18 Air Jupiter Temperance
10 27 Fire Mars Justice
Path Letter Number Stoicheia Spheres
1 Α 1 Moon 3 5
2 Β 2 Aries 1 3
3 Γ 3 Taurus 2 4
4 Δ 4 Gemini 2 6
5 Ε 5 Mercury 5 6
6 Ζ 7 Cancer 9 10
7 Η 8 Venus 4 5
8 Θ 9 Earth 6 9
9 Ι 10 Sun 2 5
10 Κ 20 Leo 3 6
11 Λ 30 Virgo 4 7
12 Μ 40 Libra 6 8
13 Ν 50 Scorpio 8 9
14 Ξ 60 Water 2 3
15 Ο 70 Mars 5 9
16 Π 80 Sagittarius 6 10
17 Ρ 100 Capricorn 1 2
18 Σ 200 Aquarius 2 8
19 Τ 300 Pisces 7 8
20 Υ 400 Jupiter 3 4
21 Φ 500 Air 3 9
22 Χ 600 Fire 4 8
23 Ψ 700 Spirit 4 9
24 Ω 800 Saturn 5 8

As it turns out (and this was entirely unplanned), this is the tenth post in the series on developing a Greek kabbalah, kampala, Pythagorean framework, tetractean theurgy, or whatever.  In Pythagorean mysticism, the number ten itself is holy, being the number of completion and the number of points in the tetractys, as well as being a unity of a higher order (tens instead of ones).  This post then completes the first cycle of this study, where we now have the basic framework, tools, and understanding needed to progress further in working this system and seeing where it can take us.  At the beginning of this project, I wanted a kabbalah-like system of theurgy and mysticism that would replace the use of Jewish kabbalah or Hermetic qabbalah in place of something that felt closer to what I actually study and practice, and outlined a series of goals to that end:

  1. Provide a cosmological framework that allows for the ten spheres of the cosmos (Earth, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Fixed Stars, Divinity)
  2. Provide a cosmological map that allows for traversing the spheres of the cosmos with paths that connect them together
  3. Provide a mapping between the paths of the map with the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet
  4. Provide a means of starting from awareness on the Earth sphere (where the majority of us live and operate on a day-to-day basis) and reaching any other sphere by means of the paths, especially that of Divinity
  5. Provide a description of the creation of the cosmos by means of the cosmological framework and mapping
  6. Provide a means of correspondence to link other forces, concepts, objects, etc. to the paths and spheres on the framework and map
  7. Be rooted primarily in Neoplatonic and Pythagorean thought, referencing Hermeticism as necessary without relying on explicitly Jewish principles that are not also present in Hermeticism

How did we do?  For the most part, we hit nearly all of these targets, and most of them dead center in our targets.  The only things that really need to be explored now are, well, the Tetractys itself.  Sure, we’ve analyzed it and meditated on it and written a lot about it, but all this has been an intellectual exercise.  Now that we have a map of the cosmos, we need to start exploring the cosmos with the help of our map.  All this is theoretical, based on relationships between alchemical and astrological principles, and now we need to put the theory to the test.  How is it that we can use the Tetractys of Life to rise through the spheres, both of the heavens as well as of reality itself, and refine ourselves to reach the One?  For that, we now get to apply our meditations and go deeper into new worlds.  In the future, as I discover more about this system and apply any necessary tweaks or refinements, or perhaps come up with a better name than kampala or Greek kabbalah (though I like the ring of “tetractyeon” more and more) I’ll discuss more about it, but I’m going to bring this series to a close for now.  As one of my favorite games has said, perhaps the ending has not yet been written.

Also, I want to give a shoutout to my good friends Rev. Michael Strojan and Kalagni for helping me out with this.  Without them, I’d still be fighting over some of the petty details and quibbling about path arrangement and such, but their vast knowledge and sharp ingenuity really guided me along the way.  Guys, thank you.

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Clik here to view.
Image may be NSFW.
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Search Term Shoot Back, July 2014

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of July 2014.

“sigil in cock by zodiac” — I don’t even know what this means, or why I got this search term among the most common this month looked for across several days.

“can i burn kameas in ritual work” — You can, but I have the feeling it’s not always a good idea.  Kameas are magic squares, a numerical and numerological method of representing the essence or power of a planet.  Effectively, they emanate the same “vibration” or power the planet itself does, though in a weaker and more transmitted way.  The kameas are talismans in their own right, no further consecration needed (though more consecration can always help).  Burning things in ritual work almost always has a connotation of sacrifice, like burning hell money for the ancestors or bleeding a pigeon out over a fire for Hermes (it’s a thing), so burning a kamea as an offering could be done, but I don’t immediately recognize for who or what.  I mean, if you want to dispatch a particular force, you could burn something like a name paper or a photo, but the kamea on its own is just the planetary force.  Chances are you want to use and direct that force, not just send it out without guidance or instruction, so burning it might not be the best idea.

“art deco and orgone accumulators” — To be honest, I like dieselpunk a lot more than steampunk; environments like those of Bioshock are a deep pleasure to me.  Dieselpunk is a cyberpunk derivative that focuses on art deco and early 20th century interbellum (1920s to 1940s) period aesthetics and technological appearances.  Think of the style of the Empire State Building in NYC, the almost hieroglyphic engravings from the 1930s on public buildings lauding the labor movement, the classic Rolls-Royce fancy cars, and even old jukeboxes, and you’ll have a grasp of art deco and dieselpunk aesthetics.  As for how this connects to orgone accumulators, that’s anybody’s guess, but I suppose one could make an orgone accumulator using a dieselpunk or art deco theme.  At that point, you’re just applying visual art to tech, so it’s not really going to change the tech itself much.

“invocation of sphere of the prime mover” — I can’t imagine there to be one.  The Sphere of the Prime Mover is Divinity unfiltered itself.  The sphere of the Earth has its prayers and invocations of worldly spirits, ancestors, and demons; the spheres of the planets have their hymns and songs, such as those of Orpheus or the Picatrix; the eighth sphere of the fixed stars has the Hymns of Silence and, when the mood is right, glossolalia.  The Eighth Sphere is the highest place (or the lowest, when seen from the point of view of Divinity) where we can still have distinct thoughts and impressions, wordless though they may be except through pure Logos itself.  Anything higher than that, and all distinctions, impressions, and ideas go out the window; you’re in the realm of the Monad at that point, where there’s really nothing but the One: everything, nothing, both everything and nothing, neither everything nor nothing, all of the above, none of the above, and something else entirely.  The only invocation I can think of to this highest of spheres is to ascend to henosis/apotheosis and speak whatever the gods speak among themselves, or whatever God speaks to Itself.  Understandably, people tend to not survive this or take multiple lifetimes to achieve this, so exceedingly few people have likely had the chance or seen the point to utter such an invocation, since there’s literally nothing we can utter to even approximate or connect to the glories of the Infinite with our finite speech.

“how to pray sator square” — The Sator Square is an old type of magic square talisman, with the words “SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS” written in a 5 × 5 grid, which can be read up, down, forwards, and backwards.  Its palindromic nature, as well as its grammatical plausibility in Latin, have made it a powerful magical tool, even appearing as a pentacle in the Key of Solomon.  However, it’s never really meant to be prayed; it’s a talisman to be engraved, simple as that.  You engrave it on stone or write it on paper and keep it around; you can throw it into a fire to put it out or keep it in your house to prevent fires, for instance, no further consecration needed.  There’s a theory that the Sator Square was used by clandestine Christians in the early Roman Empire to identify themselves, since if you rearrange the letters you get the word “Paternoster” (Our Father) written twice in a cross intersecting at the N, with two leftover As (alpha) and two leftover Os (omega).  So I suppose you could pray the Lord’s Prayer over it, but that’d be stretching it.

“orgone accumulaors and cold water fusion” — Uh…um.  I’m a Hermetic magician and software engineer, not a physicist in any sense, so it’s hard for me to speak much about this particular combination of topics.  What I can say, however, is that the two don’t really mix in any conceivable way.  Orgone energy is a spiritual substance, an ambient life force pervading the universe.  Cold fusion is a hypothetical (not even theoretical!) means of achieving nuclear fusion at room temperature, as opposed to the millions of degrees required for normal fusion.  There’s no accepted or agreed upon theory that permits such a reaction to occur, and all the science that permits this is convoluted, fake, questionable, or some mix of the three.  No, I’m not a fan of trying to use cold fusion to solve the energy crisis of our time, and no, I don’t think that it’s the key to our continued technological progress.  Neither, for that matter, is orgone energy, which is such a radically different thing that it’s like asking what effect eating cake at nighttime has on the catalytic converter of my car.

“orgone accumulator collects neutrinos” — Again, another weird physics query involving orgone? Granted that I don’t have a physics background or degree, but Randall Munroe of XKCD fame does, and he’s mentioned neutrinos before and how utterly transparent they are to normal matter.  Quoth he, “[l]ook at your hand—there are about a trillion neutrinos from the Sun passing through it every second”.  A single neutrino might, on average, hit an atom in your body once every few years, if you’re lucky.  It’s just about laughably implausible that anything can conceivably collect neutrinos, since they almost never touch anything material to begin with.  Orgone energy isn’t physical, either, so it accumulates something that is actually intangible and unphysical, as opposed to something that’s just about completely intangible and physical.  This is definitely one of the odder orgone-related queries that’s led here, especially since I don’t recall having talked about neutrinos or subatomic particle physics before on this blog.

“what is the difrence between solomon sommoning ritual and high magic summoning ritual” — Er…this is a surprisingly complex question to answer and involves a bit of history.  Summoning rituals (and all their variant terms) are common to just about any and every path of magic: you’re calling upon a spirit to be present for some reason, you do your business with them, and you send them away.  Every path of the occult that recognizes the existence of independent spirits (and even then, some that don’t) has a means to converse with spirits in this manner.  “Solomonic summoning” likely refers to the type of conjuration given in the Key of Solomon (though it focuses mostly on talismanic operations) and Lemegeton Goetia (though there are several other parts to the Lemegeton that work with other types of spirits and systems), though it also includes other types of conjuration in the same vein such as the Heptameron and Trithemius’ Drawing Spirits into Crystals.  This is all largely an offshoot from the Hygromanteia of Solomon, an old old grimoire that even I haven’t had the chance to read yet, along with other older books such as Sepher Raziel, Liber Lunae, the Picatrix, and so on.  In a sense, “Solomonic” magic is, if not synonymous with post-classical Western Hermetic magic, a label for a large subset of the field.  “High magic”, on the other hand, is a weird term, and the earliest use of it I can think of off the top of my head is from the title of Eliphas Levi’s book he published in the 1850s, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie or “Dogma and Ritual of High Magic”.  His magic was a derivative of Solomonic material and some quasi-“pure” Hermetic stuff, but is generally synonymous with the same.  Used in modern parlance, however, I feel like “high magic” is anything involving elaborate ritual, tools, or setup, as opposed to “low magic” or the “simpler” or more “vulgar” applications of candle magic, application of herbs and powders, and folk magic.  In other words, “high magic” is often given the image of learned wizened wizards in towers speaking to entities through arcane circles, while “low magic” is given that of an old illiterate grandmother witch cooking up brews and doing divination for the village.  It’s a really bad distinction to make, because I see no reason to stick to just one or the other, and a ceremonial magician like myself can often get lazy or see no reason to be so elaborate when simpler and easier methods exist to achieve something.

“seals to control angel” — One doesn’t control an angel.  In my understanding, and based on what I’ve seen and witnessed, angels are God-made-miniature, collectively forming the “cells” of the Divine Will.  Angels exist to carry out the will of God; their will is God’s will and God’s will is their will.  To say that they have desires for anything else is nonsensical; whether they have free will or not doesn’t matter for them, since they only operate to carry out the functions of the cosmos, which is the desire and will of God.  So, if you were to control an angel, that would imply control over the will of God, which is just a touch hubristic.  Just as you can’t tell God what to do, you can’t tell an angel what to do, either; they’ll acquiesce only inasmuch as your demands are in line with the will of God.  It’s very much a “move this or move me” type of deal; either something is to be done (in line with the will of God) or something to you is to be done (also in line with the will of God).  This is why it’s so important to maintain holiness, virtue, meditation, and prayer when working with angels, because the closer your will is with that of God, the more what you want will happen, because it’s already supposed to happen, though not always effortlessly or with the most ease.  After all, it’s also God’s will that everybody is to achieve salvation (I claim), but there’s a lot going on the world to fight against that effort.

“summon a demon spirit ‘through the internet'” — While I’m not saying it’s impossible, I doubt one could simply conjure a spirit of any kind with the press of a button, like a “Purchase Spirit Now” button for PayPal.  I mean, say you press a button that runs a program to conjure a spirit.  What would the program output?  What would receive the output?  What connection would the internetizen be making with the spirit to be conjured?  What would meaningfully differentiate this operation from the person just writing out “I want to summon spirit X” on paper and leaving it at that?  While that could work, it won’t for the vast majority of people and practitioners; getting into the right mindset, building oneself up through prayer and spiritual preparation, focusing on the sphere of the spirit to open a connection, and so forth are good things to do when preparing to conjure a spirit.  Once all that’s done, I suppose clicking a button would be the same as saying “In the name of the Blessed and Holy Trinity, I conjure you, X…” with a comparable amount of gravity and weight, but at that point, why even bother with the Internet at all, especially when you may not be assured internet access?  With words alone, you can summon spirits wherever you can speak; you can only click PayPal buttons wherever there’s a usable internet connection.

“similarities between greek god hermes and males that are a leo/virgo cusp” — If the other search entries I repeatedly get are any indication, maybe it’s being endowed with a huge cock?  I dunno.  Hermes is a god, and Hermes the god is not identical to Mercury the planet, the zodiac signs of Gemini or Virgo, the signs where Mercury is strong.  There’re plenty of correspondences between them, sure, including analytical minds, a skill for communication, and a knack for travel or traversing distances mentally or physically, but Hermes himself is not a Virgo.  Hermes, according to the Homeric myth and Athenian belief, is born on the fourth day of the tenth lunar month, or sometime around April, which would make him an Aries or a Taurus, depending on the exact lunation sequence in the Metonic cycle.  Then again, Hermes is also an immortal god, so I doubt astrological influences would affect his divine nature much the way it does to humans.

“where can i fine satanic ritual manuals and conjuring?” — I hear E.A. Koetting has some good comedy routines, but I’m trying to be thrifty with my money and spend it only on things that have meaning.

“lbrp of dragon” — If you’re faced with a dragon, I’d personally suggest you use a bigger gun than a banishing ritual, especially the LBRP (or as one of my friends jokingly calls it, Le Burp).  Drawing out that banishing pentagram of Earth isn’t going to do much against, you know, fangs and claws and what’s likely to be a more than a ton of scales and flesh rending your own.  But hey, I’m just a simple magician, what do I know?

Image may be NSFW.
Clik here to view.
Image may be NSFW.
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Hermetic Prayers to the Aiōn

Lately, I’ve been going back through some of my texts digging for more information on Hellenic and classical Mediterranean prayers to the One, sometimes known as Aiōn, the God of gods, ineffable and indescribable except by what we can see in our material and sensible world.  The Aiōn is not quite an elusive figure, since we see the same name pop up in the sense of both “eternity” as well as a deity of unbounded time and space, in distinction to Khronos, the god of limited and experienced time.  Aiōn was a notable figure in several mystery religions of the time, including Orphism and Mithraism, and even appears in some Pythagorean texts (or so I read).

One of the books I sometimes go to is G.R.S. Mead’s Hymns of Hermes, a cute little book that gives several hymns and prayers that Hermes Trismegistus gives in several Hermetic texts, such as the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth as well as the Divine Poemander.  These forms of the prayers are not original, of course; Mead had a habit of very fancifully rewriting the prayers into a sort of modern English in the style of biblical prayers.  I can’t blame him; the book is from the early twentieth century, when many occult texts were being published widely for the first time and with a penchant for Egyptian exoticism and mysterious woogity.  That said, the book is a good one for picking out some “authentic” Hermetic prayers, and some even occur in the Nag Hammadi Scriptures, which lends it some credence towards this.

One such prayer, though, didn’t quite fit into the set of the others.  Mead described a prayer that was written in such a style as to easily fit quite into the Hermetic paradigm, and found in that most-beloved of texts, the PGM.  In comparing Mead’s version and that present in Betz’ version of the PGM (specifically PGM IV.1115), I noticed that Mead does away with the barbarous words scattered throughout the prayer and rephrases things in a way I find too fanciful.  I took the liberty of transcribing the prayer from the PGM with a few emendations of my own, but nothing as extreme as that of Mead, and reincluded the barbarous words.  It’s a fascinating prayer, and definitely one that deserves my attention:

Hail, whole cosmos of the aerial Spirit, ΦΩΓΑΛΩΑ
Hail, Spirit who extends from heaven unto earth, ΕΡΔΗΝΕΥ
Hail, Spirit who extends from earth which is in the middle of the cosmos unto the ends of the abyss, ΜΕΡΕΜΩΓΓΑ
Hail, Spirit who enters into me, convulses me, and leaves me kindly according to the will of God, ΙΩΗ ΖΑΝΩΦΙΕ

Hail, beginning and end of nature that cannot be moved, ΔΩΡΥΓΛΑΟΦΩΝ
Hail, revolution of untiring service by heavenly bodies, ΡΩΓΥΕΥ ΑΝΑΜΙ ΠΕΛΗΓΕΩΝ ΑΔΑΡΑ ΕΙΩΦ
Hail, radiance of the cosmos subordinate to the rays of the Sun, ΙΕΟ ΥΗΩ ΙΑΗ ΑΙ ΗΩΥ ΟΕΙ
Hail, orb of the night-illuminating, unequally shining Moon, ΑΙΩ ΡΗΜΑ ΡΩΔΟΥΩΠΙΑ
Hail, all spirits of the aerial images, ΡΩΜΙΔΟΥΗ ΑΓΑΝΑΣΟΥ ΩΘΑΥΑ

Hail to those whom the greeting is given with blessing, to brothers and sisters, to holy men and holy women!

O great, greatest, round, incomprehensible figure of the cosmos,
of heaven ΕΝΡΩΧΕΣΥΗΛ
in heaven ΠΕΛΗΘΕΥ
of the ether ΙΩΓΑΡΑΑ
in the ether ΘΩΠΥΛΕΟ ΔΑΡΔΥ
of water ΙΩΗΔΕΣ
of earth ΠΕΡΗΦΙΑ
of fire ΑΦΘΑΛΥΑ
of air ΙΩΙΕ ΗΩ ΑΥΑ
of light ΑΛΑΠΙΕ
of darkness ΙΕΨΕΡΙΑ
shining with celestial light ΑΔΑΜΑΛΩΡ
moist, dry, hot, and cold Spirit!

I glorify you, God of gods,
the one who brought order to the cosmos, ΑΡΕΩ ΠΙΕΥΑ
the one who gathered together the abyss at the invisible foundation of its position, ΠΕΡΩ ΜΥΣΗΛ Ο ΠΕΝΤΩΝΑΞ
the one who separated heaven and earth and covered the heaven with eternal, golden wings ΡΩΔΗΡΥ ΟΥΩΑ
the one who fixed the earth on eternal foundations ΑΛΗΙΟΩΑ
the one who hung up the ether high above the earth ΑΙΕ ΩΗ ΙΟΥΑ
the one who scattered the air with self-moving breezes ΩΙΕ ΟΥΩ
the one who put the water roundabout ΩΡΗΠΗΛΥΑ
the one who raises up hurricanes ΩΡΙΣΘΑΥΑ
the one who thunders ΘΕΦΙΧΥΩΝΗΛ
the one who hurls lightning ΟΥΡΗΝΕΣ
the one who rains ΟΣΙΩΡΝΙ ΦΕΥΓΑΛΓΑ
the one who shakes ΠΕΡΑΤΩΝΗΛ
the one who produces living creatures ΑΡΗΣΙΓΥΛΩΑ
the God of the Aiōns!

You are great, Lord, God, Ruler of the All!

This section in the PGM is only described as a “hidden stele” or “secret tablet”, without instructions on how to use it or a purpose other than it seems to be an adoration of Aiōn.  I’m okay with that, since it’s general enough to be put to many ends, and the use of the barbarous words can offer a meditative aspect to it, intoning the name and linking it to the aspect listed for each name.  While many of the attributes ascribed to Aiōn make sense, some are a little unclear.  In Platonic thought, it was thought that the One was a perfect being of perfect shape and form, and to Plato, the most perfect shape was the sphere, hence the description of Aiōn as “greatest, round, incomprehensible figure of the cosmos”.  Personally, I get a huge kick out of working with this prayer, and the names are something I want to revisit later in a more mystical or capital-P Powerful way; I make use of this prayer before any serious working nowadays, especially as a preface to the Headless Rite.

In the PGM, the prayer is followed by yet another stele (PGM IV.1167), this time with the purpose that it is “useful for all things; it even delivers from death”, with the ominous warning that one is to “not investigate what is in it”.  This prayer, too, is addressed to Aiōn, but appears to be more of a protective incantation than mere adoration.  It’s not given in Mead’s book, but it’s useful all the same, as I reckon it.  Presented is the prayer below, again with my minor emendations:

I praise you, the one and blessed of the eons and father of the world, with cosmic prayers.
Come to me, you who filled the whole cosmos with air, who hung up the fire from the heavenly water and separated the earth from the water.

Pay attention, Form, Spirit, Earth and Sea, to the words of the wise who know divine Necessity.
Accept my words as arrows of fire, because I am Man, the most beautiful creature of the God in Heaven, made out of spirit, dew, and earth.

Open, o Heaven; accept my words!
Listen, Helios, Father of the World!
I call upon you with your great name, you, the only one having the original element:

You are the holy and powerful name considered sacred by all the angels.
Protect me, N., from every excess of power and from every violent act.
Yea, do this, Lord, God of gods:
O Creator of the world, Creator of the cosmos, Lord, God of Gods:

I have spoken of your unsurpassable glory, you who created gods, archangels, and decans.
The ten thousands of angels stood by you and exalted the heaven, and the lord witnessed to your Wisdom which is Aiōn:
and said that you are as strong as he is.

I invoke your hundred-lettered name, which extends from the sky to the depth of the earth!
Save me, for you are always ever rejoicing in saving those who are yours!

I call upon you, the one on the gold leaf, before whom the unquenchable lamp continually burns, the great God, the one who shone on the whole world, who is radiant at Jerusalem, Lord!
I call upon you for your blessing, Lord!

Betz says that “this protective prayer presumes a section describing a gold lamella to be worn as a phylactery”, which “contained the hundred-letter name of the god and was worn as a protection against ‘every excess of power’ and the ‘very violent act'” mentioned in the prayer.  The notion of a name being 100 letters would’ve been important, and the final stanza of the prayer does say “the one on the gold leaf”, so it’s possible that such an instruction to the prayer might be omitted.  What’s interesting is that the two last strings of barbarous words are marked in the PGM as both having 100 letters each, though the final string only has 99 letters in it; the first string has 149, the second 108, and the third has 19, for comparison.  The style of the barbarous words is much more Egyptian in nature, and bears some in common with those found in the Headless Rite.  What’s even odder about this prayer is that it’s the only place in the PGM, according to Betz, is that Sophia (Wisdom) is identified with Aiōn.  This is an unusual thought, whether in Gnostic, Christianity, or other mystery traditions.  Further, despite the Egyptian Gnostic feel of the prayer, it even references the Jewish miracle of the undying light of the menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem, from whence the festival of Hanukkah comes.  Between the Jewish, Gnostic, and Egyptian influence (especially due to the reference to decans alongside angels), this latter prayer is a prime example of how syncretic and elastic Hermetic magicians could be in the old days.

Of course, not all the prayers that Mead lists were pared down so much.  One prayer that took me a bit of finding is one that Hermes Trismegistus taught to his son Tat, which Mead calls “the secret hymnody”, which is pretty much what it is, for it is “not taught but hid in silence”.  Hermes introduces it as an initiation, as it were, to Tat in Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum, titled the Secret Discourse on the Mountain.  This book focuses on the nature of rebirth, but also emphasizes the truth that only silence can tell (much as in the same way of the Hymns of Silence Hermes describes in the Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth).  After some persuading, Hermes instructs Tat to recite it outside and bow down in adoration facing the south at the setting of the sun, and again at the rising of the sun facing to the east:

Let every creature in the cosmos give ear to this hymn.
Open, Earth!  Let every lock that holds the rains open to me!  Shake not, trees!
I am about to praise the Lord of Creation, the All and the One.
Open, heavens!  Winds, be still!
Let God’s immortal sphere receive my song.

For I am about to sing praise to the Creator of All,
who fixed the earth,
who suspended the heavens,
who parted fresh water from the ocean in lands inhabited and in the wild for the creation and sustenance of all mankind,
who ordained that fire shine for every use of gods and men.
Let us give praise to Him above the heavens, the founder of all nature.
He is the eye of Nous.
May He receive the praise of every power within me.

O powers within me, sing to the One and All!
All you powers, sing praise together at my bidding.
Divine Knowledge, illumined by you, I sing through you of the spiritual light and I rejoice in the joy of Nous.
Sing praise with me, all you powers!
Temperance, sing with me!
Justice, through me praise what is just!
Generosity, through me praise the All!
Truth, sing of the truth!
Good, praise the Good!
Life and Light, from you comes the praise and to you it returns.
I give thanks to you, Father, the strength of all my powers.
I give thanks to you, God, power of all my strength.
Your Word through me sings to you.
Receive all back through me by the Word, a spoken sacrifice.

Thus cry the powers within me.
They praise the All, they accomplish your will which comes forth from you and returns to you, being the All.
Receive an offering of speech from all beings.
O Life, preserve the All within us.
O Light, illuminate the All.
O God, inspire the All.
For Nous guides your Word, O spirit-bearer, o Creator of the world.
You are God.

All this your man proclaims through fire, air, earth, water; through spirit, through your creatures.
From you I have discovered eternity’s song of praise and in your will I have found the rest I seek.
By your will, I have witnessed this praise being sung.

To which Tat adds, with Hermes’ corrections and exhortation to use caution with his words:

To you, God, first author of generation, I, N., send these offerings of speech.  God, you are the Father, you are Lord, you are Nous, receive these words of mine as you will.  For by your will all things are accomplished through the Word.

This final prayer, though without barbarous words or names of power, is important in the Hermetic tradition since it represents a type of Hermetic initiation.  Once Tat, the most intuitive and spiritual of Hermes’ sons including the intellectual Asclepius and technical Ammon, is initiated properly into the seven spheres of the planets, he is finally able to join the eighth sphere, that of the fixed stars, that of Silence, and begin further work into direct realization of gnosis.  It’s only with the initiation, however, that Tat receives in properly communicating in the manner of this sphere that allows him to do this, as well as the similar initiation that Hermes gives in his Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth:

I call upon you,
who rules over the kingdom of power,
whose word is an offspring of light,
whose words are immortal, eternal, immutable,
whose will produces life for forms everywhere,
whose nature gives form to substance,
by whom souls, powers, and angels are moved,
whose word reaches all who exist,
whose providence reaches all who exist,
who produces everyone,
who has divided the eternal realm among spirits,
who has created everything,
who, being Self within Self, supports everything,
to whom one speaks in silence, being perfect, the invisible God,
whose image is moved when it is managed, and it is so managed,
who is exalted above majesty, mighty one in power,
who is superior to those honored!


Lord, grant us wisdom from your power that reaches us that we may relate to ourselves the vision of the Eighth and the Ninth.
Already we have advanced to the Seventh since we are faithful and abide in your law.
Your will we fulfill always.
We have walked in your ways and have renounced evil so your vision may come.
Lord, grant us truth in the image!
Grant that through your spirit we may see the form of the image that lacks nothing and accept the reflection of the Fullness from us through  our praise.

Recognize the spirit within us,
for from you the cosmos received soul,
for from you, the one unbegotten, the begotten came to be.
The birth of the self-begotten is through you, the birth of all begotten things that exist.
Accept these spiritual offerings from us which we direct to you with all our heart, soul, and strength.
Save what is within us and grant us immortal wisdom.

Then, after Hermes once more coaches Tat on how to hymn in silence and the two ecstatically praise God, Tat continues the hymn:

I shall offer up the praise in my heart as I invoke the end of the cosmos, and the beginning of the beginning, the goal of the human quest, the immortal discovery, the producer of light and truth, the sower of reason, the love of immortal life.  No hidden word can speak of you, Lord.  My mind wants to sing a hymn to you every day.  I am the instrument of your Spirit; Mind is your plectrum, and your guidance makes music with me.  I see myself!  I have received power from you, for your love has reached us.

O Grace!  After this, I thank you by singing a hymn to you.  You gave me life when you made me wise.  I praise you.  I invoke your name hidden in me!


You exist with spirit.
I sing to you with godliness.

The series of vowels given in these prayers are evidence of ecstatic glossolalia, but their varied nature indicates a collected power from their previous initiations with the seven planetary spheres, given the relationship of the seven Greek vowels to the seven planets.  Hermes concludes this discourse not with instructions of practice but with instructions to preserve the lesson he gave Tat through a detailed list of directions to engrave the prayer and discourse on turquoise steles, to be done when the planet Mercury is at 15° Virgo, the Sun is in the first half of the day.  The final set of instructions seems odd, I admit, but it attests to the holiness and permanence of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, as many prayers to the Aiōn are throughout Mediterranean spirituality.

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Now Available for Occult Consultation!

In addition to my divination services, which you should totally spread the word about especially since you get free readings from doing so, I’ve decided to open myself up a little wider for full-blown spiritual and occult consultation.  I’ve experimented with this with Skype sessions for divination both with videochat and basic instant messaging, and I greatly prefer this to emailing back and forth for in-depth questioning.  The more I learn, after all, the more I’m able to share and teach, so I figure I may as well put it to good use for people on the Internet besides just my blog rambling.

So what might you ask about in such a consultation?  Really, just about anything related to the occult:

  • Tutoring on ritual and divination
  • One-off lessons on a particular topic
  • Advice for practice, lifestyles, and planning
  • Spiritual counseling and guidance

I’ve been getting some emails now and then when simply answering questions back-and-forth like that won’t cut it; either more hands-on or step-by-step guidance is needed, or I simply need to go in-depth where emailing isn’t the best medium for the topic.  To help out with this, especially since a lot of this is based in my expertise and education, I’d like to start doing Skype sessions with people who need such in-depth or at-length advice.

Since I started off doing divination consultations over Skype, I think I’ll keep the same format and timing in place: US$50 for a half-hour session, or $90 for a one-hour session (which is a 10% savings).  We’ll cut things off once the last question is asked or last point is made, so if it goes over a bit by a few minutes, it won’t count, but the sessions do need to be bought out in advance.  Once I get the payment notification, we’ll set up a time together and figure out what the topic of consultation is, and what (if anything) you should prepare for the consultation.  Once we start talking and the clock starts ticking, we’ll dig right in.  Payment links are below, as well as on the Services page.

Half-Hour Skype Consultation Session, US$50
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PayPal Button: Half-Hour Skype Consultation Session

One Hour Skype Consultation Session, US$90
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For scheduling, I’m located in the Eastern US Time Zone, respecting daylight savings.  The best general times to nab me, with the occasional exception, are:

  • Wednesday afternoon
  • Friday afternoon
  • Saturday afternoon and evening
  • Sunday

Also, of course this is a good time to plug the paranormal investigation and spiritual consultation group I’m a part of, Bones and Stars.  For anything bigger than a one-person job, Bones and Stars is a good group to contact, and not just because I’m in it.  We’re a group of trained and experienced magicians, priests, and Workers who deal with any heavy case we find serving the mid-Atlantic region.  Drop us a line if you have something serious you need looked at or fixed.

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Emanation in Qabbalah versus Mathesis

So, in the meantime of developing the Tetractys of Life and starting to use more Pythagorean and classical Neoplatonic ideas in my studies of the occult, I think I’ve finally found a word that accurately captures what I want to name this system.  The broader system in Hermeticism and Western occulture is qabbalah (or Jewish kabbalah or Christian cabala, to use different spellings to indicate different traditions).  All these words have the same root in Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, meaning “tradition” or “reception”.  I’ve been using a Greek transcription of this word, καμπαλα or “kampala”, to describe my Pythagorean-Neoplatonic system, but this is still basically the same word, and I’m developing it to a point where it doesn’t really fit into the qabbalistic scheme anymore.  After thinking about the thing I’m developing and going through some Greek dictionaries, I think I’ve found a word to name this new system of occult thought: μαθησις, or “mathēsis”, which means “the act of learning” or “obtaining knowledge”.  This word is related to our word “mathematic“, which itself comes from Greek meaning “scientific, disposed to learn”, itself from Greek μαθημα, or “that which is learnt”.  While this Tetractys of Life and everything are things to be learned, sure, they’re all tools to learn more.  Hence, the broader system I want to call is appropriately mathēsis, a term that’s been used before in the pre-modern and modern Western world by philosophers such as Descartes and Leibniz to describe a hypothetical universal science modeled on mathematics.  And, well, since Pythagoras established that everything is number and (in our modern sense) mathematical, this isn’t too bad a term.  To that end, I’ve gone through and labeled all the Towards a Greek Kabbalah posts (which are their own blog project in their own right) under the category of mathesis.

Alright, so, labels and terms are out of the way.  I want to talk about emanation in mathēsis and how it compares to qabbalah, because there’s a critical difference between the two that really should be understood.  While I originally set out to develop a qabbalah-like system based on Greek mathematical and grammatomantic principles that essentially shared the same ideas, I ended up with a much different beast of a cosmology than I had anticipated.  For instance, consider the idea of emanationism, where successively more complex forms of existence and reality develop or flow forth both within and from a higher and more primitive source.  This is distinct from creationism, where things are made as they are without successive steps by an external creator, and from materialism, where things come about from other things without a metaphysical origin.  The idea of emanationism is replete throughout many forms of the occult, not least in both Pythagorean, Neoplatonic, and mystic Jewish thought.  It can be seen in both the kabbalistic Tree of Life as well as in this new mathetic Tetractys of Life, but not in the same way.

For instance, consider the Tree of Life in qabbalah.  There are ten sephiroth, each assigned a particular number from 1 to 10 and descending from the top to the bottom.  Each sephirah represents a different attribute or aspect of the one God, or a different way God expresses his will.  There exists a particular set of paths, collectively termed the Lightning Bolt Path, that hits each sphere in sequence from Kether to Chokmah to Binah all the way down to Malkuth.  This describes the emanation of the cosmos from God in successive forms, ultimately culminating in our existence down here on Earth.  This also ties in (or perhaps founded?) the notion of an Idea of God descending through the many spheres of Heaven, hitting each planet in turn, building up more form and density until it hit our lowest Earth-plane, finally becoming a manifest Thing.  There is one Source and one Goal, clearly marked out with clearly defined stages in between.

The Tetractys of Life also describes emanation, but not in the same way.  Like the Tree of Life, there are ten spheres or units, each representing an aspect of creation in a different manner.  Like the Tree of Life, there is one Monad at the top, the undifferentiated and divinely simple source of all things.  Like the Tree of Life, the Tetractys of Life describes an emanatory or development of creation from the top down.  However, that’s where the similarities end.  Instead of having each sphere on the Tetractys represent a different emanation or stage in existence, the Tetractys shows emanation based on the rank of the Tetractys; instead of going One-Two-Three-…-Ten, it goes Monad-Dyad-Triad-Tetrad.  In other words, there are only four stages of emanation in the Tetractys compared to the ten in the Tree.  The emanatory dyadic principles of Light and Dark  occur simultaneously and as two parts of a whole, not in a sequence.  They are different, but they are in a kind of super-alchemical marriage as One, since they both come from One.  Likewise, the emanatory triadic reagents of Salt, Mercury, and Sulfur occur simultaneously as a result of the marriage between Light and Dark, as do the emanatory tetradic substances of the four elements from the harmony of the three reagents.  And, from these four substances, all of material creation is made.

Why is this significant?  Because we have different notions of a “starting point” when working with the Tree and with the Tetractys.  With the Tree, we can all safely agree that we’re down here in the tenth sephirah of Malkuth, and it’s our job to rise through the sephiroth in the reverse order compared to how we got here.  With the Tetractys, however, there is no single starting point; our starting point is below the Tetractys, in the unnumbered and implied pentad of all the things that exist, the symbol of which is the pentagram and which represents the Divine Proportion (φ).  In that sense, our starting point is below the Tetrad working within as a Pentad, itself not represented on the Tetractys.  The Tetractys is the source of life but is not itself life in the same sense that the Monad is the source of existence but is itself neither existence nor nonexistence.  We must first understand how the Pentad comes forth from the Tetrad, then the Tetrad from the Triad, then so forth back to the Monad.

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So, rather than thinking of each of the ten spheres in the Tetractys as a separate stage of emanation, it’s more proper to understand mathetic emanation as occurring in four stages (divine simplicity, differentiation, system, embodiment) compared to the qabbalistic ten.  And, within each stage, there are different forces at work that represent how that emanation of the cosmos takes place.  While the Tetractys of Life illustrates the different types of forces within each rank of the Tetractys, this is only an ideal representation, much as the Bohr representation of atoms is convenient to understand ideal spatial relationships between an atom’s nucleus and electrons, but in reality the electrons move in indeterminate electron clouds where either the speed or location of a subatomic particle may be known but not both at the same time.  In other words, Light and Dark take place at the same time and interchangeably within the Dyad, as do the three reagents within the Triad, as do the four elements within the Tetrad.  We may find it easy to focus on one element, reagent, or principle at the same time, but this is a hyperfocused and ultimately false distinction that isn’t true on a fundamental level.  That said, on a fundamental level, everything is already part of One and is One, much as the distinction between the sephiroth in qabbalah is only apparent from the point of view of the Created and not of the Creator.

So why am I clarifying the notion of emanation when studying mathesis in using the Tetractys of Life?  Because it requires a different sort of understanding of the cosmos than what we’re used to thinking based on the Tree of Life in qabbalah, which is arguably the starting point for much of Western occultism today.  Why does this matter?  Because I ran into the practical problem of trying to assign numbers from 1 to 10 to each of the spheres in the Tetractys.  I wanted to link the spheres on the Tetractys to the sephiroth in some way, or find some sort of numerical sequence for the forces in the Tetractys, so I could link these spheres to other types of magical technology and techniques.  For instance, consider magic squares, the qameas of the planets.  If the planet Saturn is corresponded to the sephirah of Binah, and Binah’s number in the order of emanation is three, then three is the qabbalistic number of Saturn.  Thus, the magic square or qamea of Saturn is a 3 × 3 grid of numbers from 1 to 9 (or 3²), upon which we can plot qabbalistic names and sigils of various spirits and concepts related to the sphere of Saturn.  I personally like the use of magic squares in magic, and I wanted to find a particular way to develop a set of magic squares to each of the forces in the Tetractys of Life.  However, after a good amount of reflection and late-night thinking, I couldn’t find a way to suitably number the spheres on the Tetractys outside their non-sequential lambdoma numbering.  Because I can’t (yet?) think of a way to sequentially number the spheres in the Tetractys, this makes it cut off from systems such as qabbalah and much of qabbalah-influenced magical tech; at the same time, trying to force on a numbering system like this seems ill-advised, like trying to square the circle when the two cannot be done except at a higher level.

In this case, if we have a collection of points that themselves are unordered, are we up Styx creek without a paddle?  Not at all.  The use of algebra and arithmetic weren’t the preferred means of mathematics back in Pythagorean thought, but rather geometry.  And, understanding the four ranks of the Tetractys to refer to geometric forms, we have a 0-dimensional figure as the Monad (a single point), a 1-dimensional figure as the Dyad (two points form a line), a 2-dimensional figure as the Triad (three points form a plane or a triangle), and a 3-dimensional figure as the Tetrad (four points form a solid or a tetrahedron).  Geometry, then, might be a better route to go to understand the various forces represented within each rank of the Tetractys than number squares or knocking on an altar a particular number of times.  The Tetractys is slowly but surely showing me a new way to understand the cosmos and how to apply myself within it and to it both theurgically and thaumaturgically; what new tech it’ll lead me to, I don’t yet know, but I’m excited to find out.

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Shopping Around: Online Occult Suppliers who Aren’t Lucky Mojo Curio Co.

One of my colleagues recently asked me to spread the word on a topic involving two well-known names in the online occult community.  The post I had written up was going to get preachy and I wanted to make it convincing enough and with enough evidence to be worth the pontification, but I didn’t like how it turned out.  So, I tried writing this post one way, then another, then yet another.  I wasn’t comfortable with how I wrote any of those.  Either the argument I was making wasn’t solid enough for me to post publicly, or the evidence I needed simply didn’t exist, or I just felt uncomfortable spreading what can only legally and externally be treated as judgmental rumors.  On the other hand, the better evidence I had to share against them, I felt, should not be spread any further than they already have (DIY guides to suicide, death curses, etc.), since that’d only feed fires I want to die out.  I cannot in good conscience pass judgment on others based on pleas of emotion or histrionics involving biased news articles that are over six years old.  Besides, with a few minutes’ worth of googling, I’m sure you can find what I’m referencing with ease.

Still, there is something I wanted to share with my readers:  you should buy occult goods and supplies from other people and other dealers besides Lucky Mojo Curio Co.

Lucky Mojo, with its amazingly long list of supplies, is not the only online occult supplier you can buy from.  I’ve made the choice to never buy from them again, as have a growing number of my friends who have stopped buying from them or are actively boycotting them.  A number of my friends have stopped buying from them, some only recently due to the stuff being dug up on the blogosphere, some having boycotted them for years due to their lack of comfort in working with Lucky Mojo; many people don’t feel that the owners of Lucky Mojo walk in good character, which is as good a reason as any to not give them your money.  I’ve made that choice for myself based on their input, as well as my own distaste with the quality of their products (though the quantity of supplies makes an earnest attempt to overcome the lack of quality).  I hope you make the same choice and resolve to not support Lucky Mojo in the future.

However, being the big name they are, it’s difficult for people to figure out who else to buy from, especially if they’ve been weaned on Lucky Mojo supplies from the start.  What with more people resolving to not buy from Lucky Mojo when that’s all they’ve known or heard about, this can be hard on one’s practice.  To help with that, I asked around and got a list of online occult goods and supply shops who deal excellent, high-quality, and authentic goods, many of whom are more than happy to take custom work or commissions.  I list only a few online occult suppliers here, some of which I’ve personally dealt with before and have only good things to speak of.

Oils, botanicas, and ATR supplies:

Neopagan and Western occult supplies:

Specific supplies:

Heck, you can even just search on Facebook (like the Doc Firment’s Georgia Conjure page) or on Etsy (like Obsydian Moon) to see workers do their thing and buy from them directly, supporting independent workers like myself, and if you have an occult community in the area, ask around and see if you can barter, trade, or buy supplies and commissions from them to fill what needs you have.  You might even be able to get engaged and take workshops or classes; I know that the store I do readings and classes at, Sticks and Stones in Fairfax, VA, does this very thing throughout each and every month, and soon you won’t even need to go store hunting online for obscure supplies when you can just make them yourself.  This is especially good for those who’re taking Lucky Mojo’s hoodoo and rootworking course.  There are other courses you can take, books you can read, and teachers you can learn from who aren’t Lucky Mojo or its derivatives, I promise!

And, of course, this doesn’t mention your own local occult goods suppliers!  Most metropolitan areas, especially those with a large Hispanic population, often have botanicas with oils, incenses, herbs, statuary, and other types of occult goods serving the hoodoo, Vodou, Santeria, Palo, Candomble, Quimbanda, and other communities, as well as any number of non-African pagan and other spiritual groups.  Other metaphysical, spiritual, or occult stores have proliferated throughout cities across the US and across the world, and they’re all just a google away.  In my Northern Virginia area, there are at least five botanicas and as many metaphysical shops that pretty much cover the vast majority of my occult needs (Botanica Ile Ifa Wa in Old Town Manassas, VA is my favorite and is amazing).  Plus, not only can you browse products and ask questions in person, you don’t have to worry about shipping and handling delays, and you get to help out your local economy in the process.

Have another online occult supplier you like that isn’t listed?  Know of any good stores in your local metropolitan area, especially for places not in the continental US?  Post a comment with links and addresses below!

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Plato’s Timaeus and the Tetractys of Life

At this point, it’s becoming plain to see that the occult system of mathesis, including the Tree of Life, goes beyond Neoplatonism right into the teachings of Pythagoreanism.  While I’m not annoyed at this per se, I am annoyed because Pythagoreanism is one of those things I haven’t studied too well before.  There’s plenty on Neoplatonism, sure, and plenty more on Hermeticism, but on Pythagoreanism itself, all I know is that it had a huge effect on later philosophical and mystery traditions and that’s about it.  That said, that’s basically the thrust of the academic and historical record of what we know; when we get into pinpointing exactly what in those later traditions had their roots in Pythagoreanism, it’s hard to say, since we have so little original source material on Pythagorean practices and beliefs.  So, all this Tetractys of Life stuff is half read from summaries of Pythagorean thought and half made up based on my own experiences and knowledge.  I have no idea if any such Tetractys of Life has been developed before, but then, I don’t suppose it matters at this point if it did.

One of the texts I’ve read before, obtuse as it was, is the Timaeus of Plato.  Plato, that awesome student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, wrote a number of books using Socrates himself and many other Greeks of his day as his mouthpieces, exploring various aspects of philosophy.  Of course, philosophy back in classical Greece had a much wider scope than modern philosophy; back then, it was focused on understanding how to live well, with questions of existence and ontology coming in second (or so I see it).  Plato is known for many of his works, especially his Republic, wherein he talks about the ideal city-state ruled by a philosopher-king.  Other works of his focus on things of arguably smaller scope, but the Timaeus is an exception to this.  This text talks about nothing less than the creation of the cosmos itself and how the structure of the cosmos is perfect in every way, and how everything that happens is directly attributable to the harmonies and ordering of the cosmos.  It’s a fascinating read, though the famous Roman writer Cicero himself claimed that he never was able to understand it.

While Plato is known for founding the philosophical school of Platonism, plenty of Pythagorean thought can be found in his texts because of course.  The Timaeus itself is the prime example for this, when the character of Timaeus explains the creation of the cosmos by the Demiurge, the World Creator.  Timaeus opens up his discourse with an important question distinguishing…something:

First then, in my judgment, we must make a distinction and ask, What is that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always becoming and never is? That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason, is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is.

Timaeus is setting the argument up for distinguishing the eternal, uncreated, and absolute from the temporal, created, and ephemeral.  Things that are, in other words, are unchanging and immutable, never becoming anything different from what they already are.  Things that become, however, are made to become and do not become on their own, since that would imply a power over their own selves.  Things that become can be perceived by sense and opinion, the lower faculties of the human entity, while things that are cannot be perceived yet they can be known by intelligence and reason, the higher faculties of the human entity.  (If this is sounding an awful lot like the stuff from the 49 Days of Definitions, it should!)  In other word, there is a dualism between that which is the Creator and that which is the Created, where the Creator is eternal and absolutely true and can never be directly perceived and where the Created is temporal and can be perceived without an underlying basis in reality.  Why can’t that which is become anything else?  Because that would imply that there is more than one absolute.  The creator, here, is the Good, the One, the Whole, or God, a single entity who created all other things.  Because everything else was created, it cannot be the creator, yet it comes from the creator.  The creator itself, however, was alone in this, since there is only one Good.  (Why?  It’s in other works of Plato, but if everything that becomes is due to a creator, the creator itself is uncreated, so there logically follows that there is only one creator, since there’s nothing to create the creator.  I guess.  Kinda.)

A little later on, Timaeus explains the nature of the things that become, that which is created, in terms of their physical bodies:

Now that which is created is of necessity corporeal, and also visible and tangible. And nothing is visible where there is no fire, or tangible which has no solidity, and nothing is solid without earth. Wherefore also God in the beginning of creation made the body of the universe to consist of fire and earth. But two things cannot be rightly put together without a third; there must be some bond of union between them. And the fairest bond is that which makes the most complete fusion of itself and the things which it combines; and proportion is best adapted to effect such a union. For whenever in any three numbers, whether cube or square, there is a mean, which is to the last term what the first term is to it; and again, when the mean is to the first term as the last term is to the mean-then the mean becoming first and last, and the first and last both becoming means, they will all of them of necessity come to be the same, and having become the same with one another will be all one. If the universal frame had been created a surface only and having no depth, a single mean would have sufficed to bind together itself and the other terms; but now, as the world must be solid, and solid bodies are always compacted not by one mean but by two, God placed water and air in the mean between fire and earth, and made them to have the same proportion so far as was possible (as fire is to air so is air to water, and as air is to water so is water to earth); and thus he bound and put together a visible and tangible heaven. And for these reasons, and out of such elements which are in number four, the body of the world was created, and it was harmonised by proportion, and therefore has the spirit of friendship; and having been reconciled to itself, it was indissoluble by the hand of any other than the framer.

Timaeus explains that the two major aspects of a physical body is that it is visible (able to be seen) that it is tangible (able to be touched).  These are provided by the elements of fire and earth, respectively, but here we come into a problem.  Any two properties can only ever be joined together by a third intermediate quality, so that the three become a harmony.  That would suggest there to be three elements, but interweaving mathematics into this proto-alchemical description of physical bodies, there need to be four in order for bodies to be a solid.  Remember that, in geometry, a single point is only ever a single point; two points define a line; three points define a form (a triangle); four points define a solid (a tetrahedron).  If each element is like a point, then if we only had three elements, we would all be living in Flatland, but since we’re three-dimensional beings, we need four elements.  Thus, we need two medians between fire and earth, which become air and water.  Fire is linked to water by the mean of air; air is linked to earth by the mean of water.  Thus, every individual body consists of these four elements which provide it with earthy tangibility and fiery visibility, linked together by the qualities bestowed upon them by air and water.  While Timaeus does not give what these qualities are, we can see in Agrippa (book II, chapter 7) that air gives bodies the ability to be heard and water the ability to be tasted or smelled (the two are similar in nature).  We can treat each of these qualities as an interplay between the soul and the body: fire allows other bodies to be perceived in a soulful way by the soul (only indirect contact), air to be perceived in a bodily way by the soul (indirect contact over a distance), water to be perceived in a soulful way by the body (indirect contact in close proximity), and earth to be perceived in a bodily way by the body (direct contact).

As for the soul, Timaeus backtracks a bit and goes on to explain that bodies were given souls, but that souls were made before the body.  After all, the body moves because of soul, so soul must rule over the body:

Whereas he made the soul in origin and excellence prior to and older than the body, to be the ruler and mistress, of whom the body was to be the subject. And he made her out of the following elements and on this wise: Out of the indivisible and unchangeable, and also out of that which is divisible and has to do with material bodies, he compounded a third and intermediate kind of essence, partaking of the nature of the same and of the other, and this compound he placed accordingly in a mean between the indivisible, and the divisible and material. He took the three elements of the same, the other, and the essence, and mingled them into one form, compressing by force the reluctant and unsociable nature of the other into the same. When he had mingled them with the essence and out of three made one, he again divided this whole into as many portions as was fitting, each portion being a compound of the same, the other, and the essence.

So we know that the soul is made in a different way than the body and with different materials.  Instead of using the four elements, Timaeus claims that the soul is made from two parts, the indivisible and the divisible, or “the nature of the same and of the other”.  Sameness and Difference, then, are the two qualities of the soul, but as we saw above, any two properties can only be joined by means of a third, and Timaeus gives us that as “the essence”, or Existence.  Sameness, Difference, and Existence are the qualities of the soul, which can be described as the quality that makes an object A the same as object B, that makes A different than B, and that makes A come to be at all.  Because the soul is not a body, the soul does not require a fourth substance, and is satisfied with only three properties, much as a triangle defined by three points forms the foundation for the tetrahedron with four.

From this, Timaeus describes the actual creation of the world in a weird and numerical way:

And he proceeded to divide [the creation] after this manner: First of all, he took away one part of the whole [1], and then he separated a second part which was double the first [2], and then he took away a third part which was half as much again as the second and three times as much as the first [3], and then he took a fourth part which was twice as much as the second [4], and a fifth part which was three times the third [9], and a sixth part which was eight times the first [8], and a seventh part which was twenty-seven times the first [27]. After this he filled up the double intervals [i.e. between 1, 2, 4, 8] and the triple [i.e. between 1, 3, 9, 27] cutting off yet other portions from the mixture and placing them in the intervals, so that in each interval there were two kinds of means, the one exceeding and exceeded by equal parts of its extremes [as for example 1, 4/3, 2, in which the mean 4/3 is one-third of 1 more than 1, and one-third of 2 less than 2], the other being that kind of mean which exceeds and is exceeded by an equal number. Where there were intervals of 3/2 and of 4/3 and of 9/8, made by the connecting terms in the former intervals, he filled up all the intervals of 4/3 with the interval of 9/8, leaving a fraction over; and the interval which this fraction expressed was in the ratio of 256 to 243. And thus the whole mixture out of which he cut these portions was all exhausted by him.

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This entire compound he divided lengthways into two parts, which he joined to one another at the centre like the letter X, and bent them into a circular form, connecting them with themselves and each other at the point opposite to their original meeting-point; and, comprehending them in a uniform revolution upon the same axis, he made the one the outer and the other the inner circle. Now the motion of the outer circle he called the motion of the same, and the motion of the inner circle the motion of the other or diverse. The motion of the same he carried round by the side to the right, and the motion of the diverse diagonally to the left. And he gave dominion to the motion of the same and like, for that he left single and undivided; but the inner motion he divided in six places and made seven unequal circles having their intervals in ratios of two-and three, three of each, and bade the orbits proceed in a direction opposite to one another; and three [Sun, Mercury, Venus] he made to move with equal swiftness, and the remaining four [Moon, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter] to move with unequal swiftness to the three and to one another, but in due proportion.

Timaeus explains, using what is now famously known as Plato’s Lambda, how the universe itself was created according to a system of musical harmonies.  Suffice to say that the Demiurge took two “strips” of reality, one made from the even numbers in Plato’s Lambda and the other made from the odd numbers, and joined them together in the form of a giant Khi (Χ), bending them around into circles to form a sphere.  The outer circle is given the property of Sameness, while the inner one the property of Difference.  The inner circle of Difference, moreover, was divided into seven segments, each associated with the spheres of the seven planets who move at different rates.  The outer circle of Sameness, however, all move at the same rate; this then becomes the sphere of the fixed stars.  Linking the two heavens together is a connection at their nexus, which we can assume to be the nodes between the ecliptic (where the planets, Sun, and Moon move in the skies) and the celestial equator (where the stars all move along around the Earth).  The circle of the Same (the sphere of the fixed stars) is kept as one indivisible unit, much as the One itself is; the circle of the Different (the spheres of the planets) are divided, emphasizing their created nature and focus on manifestation and embodiment.

So why all the Platonic and Pythagorean claptrap?  Because, as fate would have it, all this from Timaeus reinforces the structure I have on the Tetractys of Life relating the elements and reagents:

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Alchemical Tetractys

At the top, we have the Monad, the One, the Good, the uncreated creator of all things.  At the bottom, we find the four elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.  Water, as we said before, is the mean between Earth and Air, and Air itself is the mean between Water and Fire.  These four elements create a physical body with the capacity to be seen, heard, smelled/tasted, and touched.  The body, moreover, is built upon the soul, which itself is composed of three qualities: Sameness, Difference, and Existence, which allow the soul to distinguish these things in the cosmos.  We see three reagents: Salt, Mercury, and Sulfur.  We can link these three reagents with the three properties of Difference, Existence, and Sameness, respectively, based on Plato’s Timaeus.  After all, in using Plato’s Lambda, we’ve already established that we’re using the same notions of “left” and “right” in terms of directions down and from the Monad, and the Demiurge (saith Timaeus) “he carried round [the motion of Sameness] by the side to the right, and the motion of the diverse diagonally to the left”.  This assigns Salt the property of Difference, and Sulfur the property of Sameness.  This gives Mercury the property of Existence, which links Sameness and Difference.

Admittedly, it’s at this point that I started freaking out, thinking back on other definitions of Salt and Mercury.  After all, isn’t Mercury traditionally assigned to be the cold and moist counterpart to hot and dry Sulfur?  Yes, but these two reagents alone require a basis to work upon, which is Salt, the materia upon which other forces can act.  Salt, much as Plato describes elsewhere in terms of the element Earth, can only ever be Salt; it can be acted upon, compounded, and transformed, but anything that exists will always be Salt, though in a different form than before.  Timaeus describes, further, that when the Demiurge made the soul, he “mingled [the three properties] into one form, compressing by force the reluctant and unsociable nature of [Difference] into [Sameness]“.  Difference is hard to mix in with anything, and in order to do it the Demiurge required something to blend it in with Sameness.  So, while Mercury and Sulfur might be opposite, they’re not opposite in the same way that Sulfur and Salt are.  The alchemical perspective here is a bit unclear, and the planetary associations of the Moon, Mercury, and the Sun seem to work better.  However, Salt is literally an “other”, unable to work in the same way as Sulfur or Mercury, but which can be worked with Sulfur by means of Mercury.

Confused?  I am, too, a little.  But basically, the Timaeus tells us that Mercury is what allows Sameness and Difference to co-exist since Mercury is what allows for Existence.  If everything were Sulfur/Sameness, everything would follow the active principle and would have no body; everything could only be visible and joined together in an infinite oneness.  If everything were Salt/Difference, everything would follow the passive principle and could not be seen; everything could only be touched and distinguished through spatial location.  In order for the soul to bridge the gap between space and awareness, it must relate to both in a manner that Sulfur can work and Salt can be acted upon.  Said another way, the three principles of Existence, Sameness, and Difference allow the soul to determine what actually exists, what is the same as itself, and what is different from itself.  The soul, not being a body, recognizes the body as the most different from itself, while the soul itself is made in the image of the Monad, and so is natively inclined towards making.  Thus, the Salt which is used in producing bodies is Difference, and Sulfur which produces bodies is Sameness.  This is how the principles of Salt, Mercury, and Sulfur work together to form the foundation of elemental substance.  This logic reassured me, since I had the momentary worry of freaking out that I had mis-constructed my Tetractys of Life by putting Salt and Mercury in the wrong spheres on the Tetractys.  Rereading Timaeus, however, and a few other alchemical texts, leads me to believe that this is alright and ties in alchemical theory with Pythagorean cosmology (which, admittedly, isn’t something that should probably not be done as whimsically as I’m doing here).

So Timaeus describes the Monad, the Tetrad of elements, and the Triad of reagents (albeit in an abstract manner).  What about the Dyad?  Timaeus talks a lot about the One, the Three, and the Four, but not much about a Two, at least not explicitly.  Implicitly, however, the whole discourse is about the relationship between the Creator and the Created, that which Is and that which Becomes, the Original and the Copy.  Continuing the very first quote up above, where Timaeus explains the difference between that which Is and that which Becomes:

And in speaking of the copy and the original we may assume that words are akin to the matter which they describe; when they relate to the lasting and permanent and intelligible, they ought to be lasting and unalterable, and, as far as their nature allows, irrefutable and immovable-nothing less. But when they express only the copy or likeness and not the eternal things themselves, they need only be likely and analogous to the real words. As being is to becoming, so is truth to belief.

In the beginning, there is only the Monad; we cannot yet call it the Creator because there is nothing Created.  We cannot truly call the Monad as existing, because there is nothing that is not existing; we obviously cannot call the Monad becoming, not just because it cannot become as created things become, but because nothing is becoming.  Before the Monad creates, there is only ever the Monad, and all dichotomies and distinctions and differences are moot.  Once the Monad creates, however, there is suddenly Creator and Created; as the Monad creates, it creates in its own likeness, providing Sameness; as it provides Sameness, it provides Light to see that which is the Same.  Thus, we have Monad producing Creating force producing Sameness producing Visibility, or Monad producing Light producing Sulfur producing Fire.  At the same time, however, the Monad has also produced the Created, which is different from the Monad; this Difference then provides Tangibility.  Thus, the Monad also gives forth the force of being Created or Darkness, which produces Difference or Salt, which produces Tangibility or Earth.  Sameness and Difference require the mean of Existence to facilitate further creation between the two, which is to say that Sulfur and Salt require the intermediary of Mercury.  Visibility and Tangibility require two intermediaries of Audibility and Taste to create a body, which is to say that Fire and Earth require the intermediaries of Air and Water.

In all this, we finally have a completion: Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad.  We can see that the Tetrad relates to bodies, and the Triad to souls.  The Monad, being the source, can be called God, pure Intellect, or Mind.  So where does that place the Dyad?  I claim that the Dyad relates to the spirit.  Just as the soul dwells within the body to animate it, the spirit dwells within the soul to…what?  Timaeus tells us:

The soul, interfused everywhere from the centre to the circumference of heaven, of which also she is the external envelopment, herself turning in herself, began a divine beginning of never ceasing and rational life enduring throughout all time. The body of heaven is visible, but the soul is invisible, and partakes of reason and harmony, and being made by the best of intellectual and everlasting natures, is the best of things created. And because she is composed of the same and of the other and of the essence, these three, and is divided and united in due proportion, and in her revolutions returns upon herself, the soul, when touching anything which has essence, whether dispersed in parts or undivided, is stirred through all her powers, to declare the sameness or difference of that thing and some other; and to what individuals are related, and by what affected, and in what way and how and when, both in the world of generation and in the world of immutable being.

And when reason, which works with equal truth, whether she be in the circle of the diverse or of the same—in voiceless silence holding her onward course in the sphere of the self-moved—when reason, I say, is hovering around the sensible world and when the circle of the diverse also moving truly imparts the intimations of sense to the whole soul, then arise opinions and beliefs sure and certain. But when reason is concerned with the rational, and the circle of the same moving smoothly declares it, then intelligence and knowledge are necessarily perfected. And if any one affirms that in which these two are found to be other than the soul, he will say the very opposite of the truth.

The body is moved by soul; the soul is moved by reason.  Reason deals with Sameness and Difference, but soul consists of these as well as Existence.  Reason exists on a higher level than soul does, which allows to reconcile directly the forces of Creating with Created without need for a mediator.  Reason is not Existence; reason is the relationship that reconciles Creator and Created, the intermediary between the Monad and the Triad.  Reason works outside the circles of Sameness and Difference, closer to God than the fixed stars themselves are.  Thus, the Dyad is reason, or spirit, that which moves the triadic soul as the soul moves the tetradic body.  These concepts are replete throughout nearly all later philosophical and occult works, even being repeated in Cornelius Agrippa’s Scale of Four almost verbatim.

While I had a few inklings about the concepts I wanted to explore on the Tetractys based on where I’ve already been and what I’ve already done, I admit that my reading list has not been exhausted like it should have been before I proposed to embark on making a new occult system.  Rereading the Timaeus should have been one of the first things I did, and here I am finally going over it and finding more ways to explain the system I’m developing in a way that I should have explored beforehand.  While the Tetractys of Life is, indeed, likely a thing that’s been made before, it probably was only done in florid 2500-year-old language without the help of Adobe Illustrator, so at least I can innovate in some way.  At this point, I’m finding more and more data and knowledge to back up my structures and plans for exploration, and I can’t say I’m displeased about that.  Fine-tuning and tweaking, especially to the paths, will still be needed, but I can rest certain that the overall structure is good to go.

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Pythagorean Correspondences to the Tetractys

As many of my readers know, as well as those in Western occulture generally, correspondences are a big thing for us.  Based on our shared philosophical and educational lineages, we like to say that “A is like B”; we understand that the light of the Sun is much like the heat of fire, which itself is like the luster of gold based on certain shared properties.  In recognizing these shared properties, we immediately come to a system of symbols, where one thing can stand in for another, as well as to a system of harmonic relationships, where two things can be used compatibly with each other because they share the same ideas.  On a large scale, we call this system of symbolism one of correspondence, where something corresponds to something else.  This is often used in emanationist frameworks, where these correspondences cross levels of manifestation.  For instance, the Sun being an astrological planet is on a higher level than the element of Fire, which is itself on a higher element than actual fire or gold.  However, we can use any of these things to represent or produce a harmony with the other since they’re all corresponded to each other.

Probably one of the most valuable resources for this comes from the Second Book of Occult Philosophy by Cornelius Agrippa, where Agrippa presents a set of correspondences that link various names of God, planets, choirs of angels, ranks of the blessed, elements, prophets, and the like to each other based on certain shared properties.  Crucially, however, Agrippa organizes this by number.  Thus, he has a Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7) to correspond things that are easily divisible into one of four groups, a Scale of Seven (chapter 10) for things grouped into sevens, a Scale of Ten (chapter 13), and so forth.  Each of these are immensely useful for magicians, since they provide us with symbols and ritual ideas at a glance.  Aleister Crowley’s famous Liber 777 and, more recently, Stephen Skinner’s Complete Magician’s Tables offer these but on a much grander scale, corresponding far more things together on a qabbalistic basis than Agrippa does in his Scale of Ten.

Of course, finding systems of correspondence is an old thing, and even back in classical and antique times do we see the foundations of these systems of correspondence set up and used.  And, well, you can see where I’m taking this, aren’t you?  The Tetractys, that venerable Pythagorean symbol, was seen to contain within itself the foundations of all life and existence in every conceivable form, and not just in a strictly emanationist way.  Each rank of the tetractys, based on whether it related to the Monad, Dyad, Triad, or Tetrad, was associated to something else that formed part of the cosmos.

One good source for this comes from Iamblichus’ Life of Pythagoras, where he gives a good overview of the life of Pythagoras (duh) as well as a number of his teachings (though nowhere in depth as I’d like).  The Taylor translation linked above, however, also contains an extensive collection of other Pythagoreans who followed Pythagoras and wrote down what the Teacher (ostensibly) said, as well as a set of notes where Taylor inspects the things Iamblichus says and expands on them where the original author was annoyingly terse to our modern readers.  Part of this expansion is where Taylor talks about how the Tetractys wasn’t just a number but a graphical mnemonic, if you will, of various things

Monad Dyad Triad Tetrad
Number 1 2 3 4
Doubling Progression 1 2 4 8
Tripling Progression 1 3 9 27
Even Geometry Point Line Polygon Solid
Odd Geometry Point Open curve Closed curve (circle) Cylinder
Element Fire Air Water Earth
Platonic Solid Tetrahedron Octahedron Icosahedron Cube
Growth of Vegetation Seed Length Breadth Depth
Communities Individual Family Town State
Power of Judgment Intellect Science Opinion Sense
Parts of an Animal Rational Irascible Epithymetic Body
Seasons Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Ages of Man Infancy Youth Adulthood Old Age

Well, would you look at that, it’s a table of correspondence along the same path as Agrippa’s Scale of Four.  It’s not quite the same (Agrippa gives Summer, Spring, Winter, and Autumn instead of Pythagoras’ Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and I’m personally in favor of using Agrippa’s associations or a variation thereof, especially considering how Athenians started their year at the summer solstice), and there are a few hard-to-understand terms and progressions, but for the most part it’s definitely something useful in seeing how emanation works in everything.

I mean, sure, the can of Monster energy drink next to me is something that emanated from the Source just as I did, but it has a different body and different contents than I do.  Consider the body of the can, the metallic mostly-cylindrical shape the drink comes in.  The can wasn’t born, so it can’t age in the way a human ages, but consider how soft drink cans are made for a bit.  The cylindrical can was stretched out from a circular cut from a flat sheet of aluminum; from this, we got the tetrad-corresponded cylinder from the triad-corresponded circle.  Of course, this circle itself has depth, since it’s a cutout from an aluminum sheet which is a body; all bodies have three dimensions (length, breadth, and depth), without any one of which it’d only be a two-dimensional shape.  So, whence the circle itself?  The circle itself is a form, not a body, an idea that can interact with others.  Whence the form of a circle?  The form of a circle is made from a curved line traveling around a point.  After all, all circles only need two points for a definition: a center and a boundary.  The curved line demonstrates motion and direction, both of which are relative concepts (in order to move, you need something to move from both in terms of location, speed, orientation, etc.).  The curved line, then, comes from the single point, the Monad of all shapes and forms and bodies.

So why is the tetradic form of a circle a cylinder and not a sphere?  After all, isn’t the sphere the thing most like a circle in the third dimension?  Sorta, yeah, but a sphere is (according to Pythagoras and other Pythagoreans) a perfect body, and there is nothing we can make in the cosmos that is perfect due to the constant actions of Difference, Existence, and Sameness as well as the upheaval and drama in the four elements.  Rather, the tetradic form of a circle is a circle with depth, the most straightforward of which is a stack of circles, forming a cylinder.  It makes sense, though a little counterintuitive.

Between Agrippa and Taylor’s exposition of the correspondences of fourfold things to the Tetractys, a lot of intellectual work has already been cut out for us in studying how the Tetractys can relate to individual things.  Then again, that’s just it; this kind of analysis is good for understanding individual things, and it’s the relationships of those things that are just as important, if not moreso.  In fact, one of the more famous divisions of things is the Quadrivium, literally “four ways”: four types of mathematics used throughout the classical, medieval, and Renaissance worlds.  In this, arithmetic is an understanding of bare number (Monad), followed by music (in the broad sense) as an understanding of relationship and modulation (Dyad), followed by geometry as an understanding of static form (Triad), followed by astronomy which is an understanding of moving bodies (Tetrad).  Just as one can’t study astronomy without a knowledge of geometry, and geometry of music (for the study of proportions and ratios is a type of music in the classical, ideal sense!), and music of arithmetic, the Tetractys itself indicates that the relationships between things are where the real action lies in the cosmos.

After all, wasn’t that the whole point of my developing mathesis, anyway?  To discover relationships more than units?  To understand the changes between the different methods of manifestation rather than the methods themselves?  Something is still missing, and that’s where mathesis becomes mathematic, in our modern sense of numbers and relationships.  After all, if we’re still trying to analyze stuff as individual units, then we’re dealing with things as individual monads.  A Dyad is more than just two monads put next to each other; it is a relationship between the two that makes two monads into a Dyad.  That relationship is often called “music” in Pythagorean literature, but it’s not necessarily the music of instruments or sounds.  Music, in this case, is the means of progression, movement, and patterns.  It is not enough to study sheer quantity in the arithmetic sense, and it is yet too much to study harmony in the geometric sense.  Another type of analysis-and-synthesis is needed for the Dyad.

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Pondering the Dyad

I think that, of all the numbers I’ve encountered in the occult, and especially lately with my meditations on the Tetractys, the Dyad has to be the most confusing and hard to understand for me.  I mean, what’s so hard about it?  It’s just one more than the Monad, two, isn’t it?  Well…no.  Two Monads does not a Dyad make; two Monads are necessary, it’s true, but they are not sufficient to make the Dyad.  The Dyad is more than just a combination of two things, it’s a unity or union between two things.  You can’t analyze (take apart) the union without synthesizing (putting together) the ends, though it’s easy to see the two ends as separate and distinct from each other and, crucially though incorrectly, understand them as whole entities in and of themselves.  But consider:

  • What is music?  Music is a sequence of notes, yes?  But it’s also the rhythm, the timing, and the harmony produced between successive or concurrent notes that produces the music.  Music is not a just a sequence of notes, but it’s something more than that.
  • What is a fight?  A fight is the interaction between two fighters, yes?  But it’s also the flow, the connection, the respect or lack thereof between them where the fight itself takes place.  An individual fighter fights nobody on their own.
  • What is a sephirah?  A sephirah is an emanation of God that reflects one of His many attributes, yes?  But it’s also the connection and flow from God.  Without a connection, a sephirah has no means to be filled with God and becomes a husk.
  • What is love?  Love is the relationship and harmony between two individuals, yes?  But it’s not possible to have love without something to love, nor is it possible to love someone without reciprocity or knowledge and having love both around and in the recipient.  Without the connection, love devolves into lust or limerence.

The Dyad represents something that is not itself able to exist; it requires two, and the Dyad is the representation of the two co-existing.  That union is the Unit, the Monad present in a lower register, but the Monad is no longer in existence as soon as it makes existence, because then there is something that exists as Creator and something that exists as Creature.  The emptiness (and I’m using this in a Buddhist “interexistence” or “dependant existence” sense) that is formed between the two monads in the Dyad is the true Dyad, without which you just have a collection of monads.  I mean, consider the human body: the human body is a collection of organs, bones, and humours; going deeper, it’s a collection of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.  Yes, we are all just a collection of these things, but clearly there’s more to it than that to produce a cohesive unit, a complete whole.

Trying to comprehend the numbers on the Tetractys is different than simply counting how many spheres are in a rank, or the number One through Ten each dot represents.  If you do that, you’re just understanding each number as a collection of monads when there’s so much at work within each number.  It’s like, if you study energy work, if all you study is the seven chakras of the body, you neglect the fact that energy cycles throughout the body; focusing on the chakras alone treats the body as just the seven chakras when the body is a collection of major and minor chakras and all the medians and channels that connect them all.  Having a blockage of energy in the lower leg cannot itself be healed by focusing on any one of the chakras, but if you’re not trained to focus on the body holistically, then you aren’t going to be able to make much of an impact on the body.

I’ve noticed parallels between my lack of knowledge on the Dyad and one of the issues I currently have in learning aikido.  In my martial art, I’m starting to get the hang of the actual moves themselves, how to move my one-point around, how to roll the arm for a pin, how to step properly to allow myself enough safe space in attacking or being attacked.  Still, none of this is useful if I can’t apply the moves in practice against an opponent, and that’s where the matter of timing and connection comes in.  I can sense my own ki, and I can sense the ki of my opponent, but connecting the two together when the opponent is approaching to grab me is an issue.  Timing, the flow and blending of myself and the opponent, is something I’m still having to work on and it’s not clicking yet.  It’s not a matter of counting seconds or recognizing a limit of distance after which I can move my own body; I have to blend with the motions and ki of my opponent in order to make the technique work.  This timing, this connection between me and the other, is the “presence” of the Dyad in aikido; there is no such thing as attacker and attackee if I can’t properly engage or be engaged in attack.  It is only through the fluid and completely connected actions of myself and the other that aikido works, without which it’s just two people trying to put each other into pins and joint locks fruitlessly.

In the Tetractys, the rank of the Dyad is the first time we see a connection formed between two Monads.  It is the first time we have the opportunity for comparison or change between two otherwise indistinct and undifferentiated Monads; by the power of this connection, we can say that “this is and that isn’t” or “this changes into that”.  None of this is possible in the rank of the Monad, since there is by definition only ever One thing to compare or be compared to, and comparing something to itself is a tautology that makes anything and nothing true.  I mean, even the figure of the Monad itself, the circle with a point in its center, cannot itself be made by one thing alone.  It was made by an old-style geometer’s compass, making use of both its legs; one to stabilize it in the center, and one to give form around it.  With only one leg, it could only produce one point, but with two, it can make a shape, a circle, a neverending line enclosing an area.  It gives definition and the first possible comparison: what is in the circle and what is outside.  A point cannot be meaningfully compared to any other point without other notions of length or measure, but with a circle or a line (either being made from a connection between two points) we can do just that.

Aikido, at least in my style of Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido (Aikido with Mind and Body Unified), there’re four principles of mind and body unification and five for the practice of aikido itself.  The last principle of the first set and the first principle of the last set are the same: “ki is extending”, meaning that ki flows constantly through ourselves and through the universe.  If we get in line with the flow of ki, aikido works; if we try to force things, aikido doesn’t work.  After this, to make aikido work, you need to know your opponent’s mind and respect their own flow of ki; you need to understand what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it, and act accordingly to respect their actions and make them go where you want them to go.  If you know how to move around their ki, you know how they’re going to move their ki, so you know their mind; if you know their mind, you’re connected with them and letting ki extend properly.  This is the essence of timing, and is moreover the essence of all connections: knowledge.  Dyad is knowledge.

Even in the Hermetic text of the Poemander, it makes sense.  In the beginning, there was only Nous, the Mind, single and simple.  Literally everything only began when the Nous produced the Logos, the Word.  The Word is Thought, which is produced in the Mind.  Prior to the Logos (if there can conceivably be a “prior” in a world that does not experience time), there was only Mind without Thought.  Once Mind produces Thought, the Mind has something to think about, something other.  Even if the Logos is the Nous, the two are still separate and, thus, the Monad becomes a Dyad.  It is by relation can we think, can we ponder, can we consider, can we reflect, can we know.  Knowledge of the Other leads to a union, and in union things can happen.  In union we become a unity, reuniting the Logos with the Nous once more.  Music is the knowledge of  how different notes strung together form a pleasing melody, or when played at once form a harmony.  A fight is the knowledge of how two people interact to blend together in action.  A sephirah is the knowledge of how the light of God flows from the Source through different channels into yet other channels, transforming from some one thing raw into some one thing manifest.  Love is the knowledge of two hearts and minds acting as one.

Knowledge is the root of all action.  Knowledge is the root of all transformation.  Knowledge is the root of separation.  Knowledge is the key to union.  It’s the things to be known that change from situation to situation, but in knowledge all situations become different manifestations of the same cause.  I may not yet have a solid knowledge (heh) of the Dyad just yet, but at least something’s been opened.

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The Charm of Arktos

Tonight, as most celestially-minded people are aware, is the end of the peak period for the Perseid meteor shower.  It’s one of the more famous meteor showers, given the brightness of the meteors as well as the rate of shooting stars, between 60 and 100 meteors per minute.  It’s a fantastic time to go stargazing, especially if you have clear weather. And, of course, for the supernaturally-and-celestially-minded, it’s also a fantastic time for magic.

I’m not particularly big on using meteor showers for anything else besides making a wish, but I realized that tonight would be a fantastic time for an outside starry ritual to call on the stars themselves.  A storm just blew threw where I live, so the skies are clear and the air is bright, which is perfect for any magic calling on things higher up than us; the Moon is still mostly full, though waning, which is good for sending things out and away from us; the meteors bring tangible matter from the heavens to earth.  And, moreover, according to my lunisolar grammatomantic calendar, the lunar date of today is associated with the letter Pi, which I give ritually to the Olympian goddess Artemis.  Normally, I don’t have much of a practice with this goddess, not being a hunter, midwife, or young girl, but I realized that I have just the ritual that would mesh pretty well with her.  And, given the celestial atmosphere (literally and figuratively), it’s a good one to use tonight!

The following ritual is one I call the Charm of Arktos, taken from the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM VII.686).  The spell is an invocation to the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, known to the Greeks as Arktos, the Bear.  The bear was an animal sacred to Artemis, which links this ritual to her.  The constellation of Ursa Major is, as is famously known, formed in part by Polaris, the North Star, which was the direction the Egyptians associated with immortality (since the stars in the northernmost part of the sky never set under the earth, or into the underworld).  The ritual is fairly short and straightforward, and all you need to bring is offerings to the goddess; dates, wine, fresh (specially spring) water, and sharp floral or musky incense are perfect offerings for this.

On a night clear enough to see the stars (like tonight, hopefully!), go outside, preferably to a high place and face north to the constellation of Ursa Major, the Bear.  Raise your arms and call out to the stars:

Arktos, Artkos! Thou who rules over heaven, the stars, and the whole world! Thou who causes the axis to turn and governs the system of the cosmos by force and Anankē! I appeal to thee, imploring and supplicating you, that you do for me me this … because I call upon thee in thy holy names at which thy deity rejoices, names which thou art not able to ignore:

  • ΒΡΙΜΩ (BRIMŌ), earth-breaker, great huntress!
  • ΑΜΑΜΑ (AMAMA), well-bedded, Dardanian, all-seeing, night-running, attacking mankind, subduing mankind, summoning mankind, conquering mankind!
  • ΛΙΧΡΙΣΣΑ ΦΑΕΣΣΑ (LIKHRISSA PHAESSA), aerial one, strong goddess of Erymna, thou who art the song and dance, guardian, spy, delight, delicate, protector, adamant and adamantine, o Damnameneia!
  • ΒΡΕΞΕΡΙΚΑΝΔΑΡΑ (BREXERIKANDARA), most high, Taurian, unutterable, fire-bodied, light-giving, sharply armed!

Make your request as specified and ask that it be effected, that the Bear send away all evil and target all your enemies, reflect all bad luck and send you blessings, or other similar things.  Make your offering to the northern stars, and Artemis especially, and thank them for their work and their eternal, undying light.  Close the ritual as you like, then return indoors.

Even if you don’t do the ritual, I hope you can enjoy the stars tonight all the same!

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Get Off Your Ass and Work: Magic and Politics

One of my colleagues on Twitter, Joseph Magnuson of Candlesmoke Chapel, made a few tweets over the past few hours that struck a nerve with me describing a general reluctance for magicians and spiritually-minded people to get involved with politics, legal affairs, and current events:

  • “I wish you’d just tweet about magic.” Well, laws are Big Magic/rights are Big Magic. Invisible ideas everyone follows. Words made manifest.
  • Magic isn’t just reading a book and collecting Supernatural DVDs. It’s all around us in most all movement. Do you not see this?
  • Magic shouldn’t be safe and silent/not seen and not heard…especially by “witches” and “magicians.” It is not a special effect.
  • So tired of this: “Politics? Not for me. They never got political on The Craft or Charmed. Besides I don’t want to hurt my witchy brand.”

I mean, it’s kinda true.  Spiritual people, especially those of a new age bent, tend to be reluctant to watch televised news or read news articles (excepting things like the Wild Hunt or a variety of Patheos blogs), and even more reluctant to even get involved with politics or current events.  They see it as beneath them, considering the news to be “a set up to keep us from manifesting the best reality for us”, and that “spiritual people know better than to get caught up in the illusions” (courtesy of Ernesto Mercer for that quote from one of his own conversations with someone he didn’t think highly of).  And you know what?  Some people aren’t meant to be worldly or get involved in worldly affairs.  Some people are meant to be hermits or monks or recluses that shut themselves out from the world, whose arms are no longer fit for the work of the world, who are here for purely spiritual experiences.  That’s okay.

You, dear reader, aren’t one of them.

Chances are good that you’re of a spiritual bent, dear reader, and chances are also good that you’re a magician in some regard.  You’ve read me talk about rituals for this and that, sometimes on thaumaturgy and sometimes on theurgy, sometimes on conjuration and sometimes on oils.  You have the whole internet at your disposal, and a cascade of links, even on this very blog, to direct you to awesome resources for magic and supplies beyond your dreams.  You’re educated enough and powerful enough to do some magic.  The only thing you really lack is awareness of the world around you, because if you were that spiritual enough to have the capacity for magic, you’d have the compassion to use it for the betterment of the world.  So read the fucking news and do some fucking magic, dear reader, because the world around you needs it.

I’ve been chatting more and more with my gnostic friends lately, learning more about the Apostolic Johannite Church and Gnostic Christianity.  I come from my Neoplatonic and Hermetic background, but my background philosophies and those of Gnosticism share much in common.  One thing that we kinda agree-disagree on is the nature of the world around us.  In some ways, the world we live in is the crowning pinnacle of all creation, the final and most glorious stage where everything is brought into completion and can play out the mind of God in all its finery and accoutrement.  On the other hand, the world we live in is also the Auschwitz ass-end of the garbage heap tossed unceremoniously into the night outside the walls of the real Kingdom; we’re just the refuse that couldn’t make it any better.  The Hermeticist view balances the two viewpoints, though modern Hermeticists tend to be biased towards the former; the Gnostic view has always been solidly focused the latter argument.  Both are true, really; the world is an amazing place, a place that feels good, a place where we get to learn and experience so much.  It’s a lot like going to college, really, and there are good points and bad points to the world here.  That said, we’re here for a purpose, a worldly purpose.  If we didn’t have a worldly purpose for being born into the world, we wouldn’t be born here at all.  And if the world is broken and requires us to act our parts and make the world a better place, bringing the kingdom of Christ into existence in the here and now or opening the 32nd path or what-have-you, then what excuse do you have to not do this?

People are dying from being oppressed and discriminated against.  Whole governments are broken and corrupt.  Countries die of famine and plague and war.  Families are torn apart and grieve and tremble in fear because of murder and intimidation.  There is a litany of things wrong with the world.  Surely you must be aware that these things happen literally all the time across the entire world.  Or do you feel nothing?  Are you so apathetic that all you can do is shrug and say “we have to rise above it” because your new age spiritual avoidance of current events prevents you from getting your hands dirty?  Are you imprisoning yourself into a hermitage of your own making where you can wash your hands of interacting with the world while still being delivered its goods for as long as you’re here?  Are you so numb to the pain of others who allow you to benefit from the world while keeping yourself from being a benefit to the world?  Are you so wrapped up in your own white-light illusions that you’d rather commit spiritual suicide to avoid any responsibility or call to action in the world?

Please tell me that I’m wrong.

Better yet, show me that I’m wrong.

We’re fucking magicians, the successors to the priest-astrologer-philosopher-kings of the ancients.  We wield celestial and infernal powers; the gods hear our calls and walk with us; we name the ineffable itself; we understand the mechanics of cosmic systems; we light candles, lay tricks, wave a stick in the air, spin in a circle, splash some rum on a rock, mumble some incomprehensible moonspeak and shit just happens.  We have known for millennia what hackers have known for only a few decades, that any complex system can be broken into and manipulated.  The archonic owners of those systems do the same every day those systems have been around, every day the mere ideas of those systems have been around.  And we, better than anyone, have known that when the systems have exiled us, made us powerless, and stripped us of all legitimate access, we will always be able to act upon the system itself and topple it down from the outside and from the inside-out.  We only let the archons win when we let them strip us of our will to get up and fight back and succeed.  We only let the archons win when we let them make us resign ourselves to spiritual impotency and kill ourselves.  We cannot afford to do that; humanity cannot afford to let them do that.

Magic has always been regarded as the means of last resort by the respectable communities of the world and all its systems.  The world is the last part of the cosmos.  We are the last thing created.  There has never been a last war, last plague, last famine, last death; these things are lasting.  Magic is not the means of last resort to action, it is the lasting means of action that has enabled us to cope with, fix, and make better the world.  You have better things to do than claim you’re better than the people down on the ground fighting; you’re already down here with us, and we’d really appreciate it if you got off your ass and gave us a hand with the burden.  We’ve asked too long what we can get out of the world; ask now what we can do for the world and for each other.

Read the news.  Fix the world.  Do some fucking magic.

Gaza and Palestine.  Syria.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iraq.  Ferguson, Missouri.  Los Angeles, California.  Gang wars.  Police brutality.  ISIS.  Hamas.  Chrysi Augi.  Racial oppression.  Sexual oppression.  LGBT oppression.  Political oppression.  Religious oppression.  Ebola.  Measles.  HIV/AIDS.  Floods.  Earthquakes.  Fukushima Daiichi.  Fracking.  The list is long and getting longer, and every time someone says that they want to abstain from the political aspect of these things it gets harder for everyone else in the world.

Everything is politics; it’s a system.  You can’t just decide to abstain from it, because you’re already in it.  It’s your duty to do your part either as part of the system or as an infiltrator into it.  Do not be idle; you have work to do.

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Tetractys and Magic

Alright, alright, I can hear some of my readers mutter in the distance.  “Yes, polyphanes, we know you like the Tetractys.  We get it.  You’re on a huge Pythagorean kick lately.  You’ve been on this kick for over a month and a half now.  Yes, it’s awesome.  But what about magic?  What about conjurations and talismans and shit?  When are you going to talk about those things again?”  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.  Yes, I admit I’ve been taken with the Tetractys and this new field of occult mathesis as of late, but to be fair, it’s a huge new thing for me that I didn’t expect to develop.  I honestly feel like I should be spending more time on it, more meditation, more scrying, since it’s all so new and, thus, unexplored.  And, to make proper use of it, I feel like more exploration is definitely needed.  Otherwise I’d just be stumbling around with a wand in the dark, and I like to do my research before jumping into anything.

Though, I also have to wonder: what substantially changes if I use the Tetractys of Life instead of the Tree of Life as my core magical framework?  The best answer I have for that is, well, not terribly much.  I mean, the only real kabbalistic thing I use in my work is the use of particular godnames to conjure the planetary and elemental angels under; maybe I rap several times on the altar to open up a ritual, the number corresponding to the spirit’s sephirah; I might occasionally use a number square to charge something upon.  But, really, that’s about it.  The planets, stars, and elements would exist regardless whether I used the Tree, the Tetractys, or neither, as they have for countless other cultures and magicians before me.

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The heavens still remain in their usual order, which is probably one thing that neither the Tetractys nor the Tree of Life really affect.  I mean, Saturn is still the next heaven in line under that of the stars, and Jupiter is the next one under Saturn.  In this scheme, there are still ten heavens, with the first one being that of God (Monad) and the last one being that of the Earth (Decad).  Thus, the sphere of the fixed stars is still recognized as the Dyad (2), that of Saturn as the Triad (3), that of Jupiter as the Tetrad (4), and so forth until that of the Moon as the Ennead (9).  The sephiroth are not the planets, and the planets are not the sephiroth; the Tree of Life assimilated the planets into its structure as a later development of the Tree itself, corresponding to the planets without identifying with them.  The planets are still a representation of number, and numeric representations of the planets are still important tools independent of whether they’re placed on the Tetractys or the Tree.  In that light, the magic number squares of the planets can still be used as important tools, and the use of numbers to associate with the planets as well.

In this view, perhaps my idea-in-passing from a ways ago about using a Greek version of the magic number squares could still be used.  After all, the planets are a different realization of number and are associated with the sephiroth, but are not themselves the sephiroth; the number squares are also representations of number in the same way as the planets are.  The magic squares are not kabbalistic in and of themselves in the same way we’d reckon kabbalah; they’re a tool used to understand the kabbalah, but they are not themselves kabbalah.  The only real change to be made here would be to create a set of Greek number squares and find a new set of spirit names to make sigils with; that idea is one I’ll have to pursue for sure.  The hangup I had with that, to be honest, was the fact that I couldn’t easily assign a simple 1-to-10 numbering to each of the dots in the Tetractys.  It’s easier to see the planets or other forces as distinct groups working in tandem with each other on different levels in a conceptual way apart from the nested-spheres view.  The planets are number, too, and with a bit of clever rearrangement can be put into a tetractys of their own.  While I like my arrangement of the planets onto the Tetractys, it’s surely not the only way to do so, though I have good reasons for going with the model I have.

Say some reader says “well, I think the number squares should stick to kabbalah, so we should use another model of numerical mediation”.  Okay, good!  I like making new models and tools.  However, what could be used in their stead?  The regular polygons of a particular number, say?  Well, if you exclude the Monad (which is a simple point) and the Dyad (which is an infinite line or a circle, neither of which are polygons), we run into an issue.  The “true” Greek way of developing a polygon is to use a compass and straightedge, neither of which are marked for degree or length.  While the triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, and decagon can be constructed by a compass and straightedge, the heptagon and enneagon cannot.  They can be approximated, sure, but these numbers cannot be made into regular polygons by compass and straightedge alone, similar to the ancient Greek geometrical problems of squaring the circle or doubling the cube.  It’d be like trying to make a magic number square of rank 2, which cannot be done.  While their ideal forms might be good for meditation, it’d be hard to apply those forms in reality or construction of forms.  This itself can be considered a mystery worthy of meditation, but in terms of applying or constructing numbers, I’d prefer number squares myself if the rank of the square is going to be the same as the number of sides of the polygon.

Beyond numbers, what else might have to change?  Colors?  I’ve gotten good enough results with the colors as used in the Golden Dawn Queen and King scales, so I may as well stick to those (though seeing what else the spheres themselves can show me is useful).  Names of spirits?  Obviously, since Greek names and spelling follow radically different rules than Hebrew, but again, those would just have to be obtained through scrying and numerological research.  The associations of other tools, symbols, and the like with the planets is pretty firmly established and I see no reason to change all those.  So, if by and large the major tools of my work aren’t going to change by switching over to the Tetractys from the Tree, what really changes?

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The set of paths I have on the Tetractys really don’t work for the Tree of Life; if you try to take the standard ten sephiroth and apply the same paths I have on here, you end up with something resembling metaphysical spaghetti.  While the paths on the Tetractys make sense to me, they cannot be separated from the Tetractys.  The Tetractys offers a radically new meditation and theurgic model of manifestation and understanding how the Divine interacts with all that exists.  That’s the big thing that the mathetic Tetractys provides: a modern Neoplatonic/Neopythagorean model of emanation and divine flow from high to low and back up again.  Unlike the Tree of Life with its neatly-defined start and end points that are so diametrically opposed to each other (due to the Jewish conception of the mortal world being so far removed from the divine), the Tetractys shows how everything is involved in a balanced way in the evolution of everything.  The Monad exists as much as it does down here as it does up there, after all; there’s no need of a God to “recede” from itself to allow for creation within-yet-apart from the rest of its own infinity.  There’s no clean start point for us to use the Tetractys, because not only are we composed of all the forces in the Tetractys, but all of the Tetractys is within us equally and directly.  It might make good sense for us to start with the four elements that compose our bodies and senses of self, but we could easily start with ourselves as a unified whole, or a Monad unto ourselves, and see how we quickly devolve/evolve into a Dyad between ourselves and the rest of the cosmos.

What does the Tetractys really represent?  If the Tetractys is fully present within each of ourselves, then that means we can start anywhere and go anywhere on our personal Tetractyes; we can start at Earth and work our way up through the elements, then the reagents, then the principles, all the way up to the Monad and back down to Earth; we can start at Fire and sublimate ourselves to Nothingness and back down to pure matter once more.  The Tetractys of Life is less about state than it is about process, less about what we are and more about how we come to be in every passing moment.  It’s the connections that we should study, I claim, since that’s where the real beauty and action happens.  Once we understand how we work internally, then we can start expanding outwards and relating ourselves to the rest of the cosmos.  I mean, if each of us is an individual Tetractys in the world, then we’re each our own monads, each taking part in an even larger Tetractys that connects and binds us all together.  Once we can understand the grander connections, we can scale back down and back up in a neverending Tetractys fractal, understanding how the cosmos as a whole is based on the same principles we are, and how we can use the same processes with different materia at different levels.  After all, ten monads does not a decad make; it’s the connections and processes between them that link them together into an ordering, a kosmos of its own.

While the Tree of Life in Jewish kabbalah was originally intended to be used as a mediation model to indicate the interaction of the Creator with Creation, and eventually picked up associations and correspondences to further those meditations, Hermeticists and occultists generally took qabbalah into their own hands as a model of magic and system of correspondences as a cosmological framework.  I don’t consider this an abuse of kabbalah, but I do consider it (at worst) a misuse of the system generally, especially when many people don’t have the required background to fully explore kabbalah as it’s meant to be studied and used.  In the same way, I don’t intend for this Tetractys of Life to be used as a system of correspondences but, again, as a meditative and theurgic blueprint for understanding how things come to be.  Tables of correspondence exist aplenty; good meditative models are harder to come by.

Magically, the use of the letters on the Tetractys’ paths deserves exploration.  For instance, the path between Venus/Water and Jupiter/Air is connected by Nu/Scorpio.  And, while the exact correspondences between the signs of the Zodiac and alchemy differ from tradition to tradition, the most common association I’ve seen with Scorpio is the process of Separation, where a mixture of two or more substances into distinct groups, usually with one of the components of the original mixture enriched in one of its resulting groups.  Air and Water are closely related, both being moist and easily blended with other substances, but it’s by their separation that we can see warm air rising and cool water falling, as in the Poemander’s description of the creation of the world.  Alchemically, we can understand separation in this sense of refining a particular lump of mass within a mixture, but we can also see it in other occult ways, too, such as whittling down extraneous forces to get to the heart of a particular matter or spirit.  We know that the path of Nu is a “lower register” in the Tetrad as the single path is directly above it in the Dyad is, or the path of Nu compared with the path of Xi, which we know is associated with Water, that which permits change and flow.  While Air connects and diffuses itself, Water flows and changes things, cutting certain areas off from others or whisking things away from one place to another.  Water is a form of separation, as separation is a representation of Water.

So now that I’ve thought about the place of the Tetractys of Life in magic a bit more, it doesn’t really have as big an effect on my magical practice as I thought it might have (or worried it might have).  Kabbalah was famous for crossing religions and traditions and incorporating more and more tools into its own toolbox; why not let mathesis do the same a bit, especially from those parts that themselves came from Neoplatonism or Pythagoreanism?  My day to day magical practice and religious offerings are going to be maintained, and the colors and materials of my talismans won’t change much if at all.  I will need to make versions of the magic squares using Greek letters and go through the planets and start getting new spirit names (as well as to figure out why there’s a “spirit of spirits” and “intelligence of intelligences” for the Moon and the like from the spirits themselves), but that’s something that we could all make do with, after all.

Oh, and names of God?  I haven’t forgotten about those, either.  Making use of my names of God from my first foray into making a Greek kabbalah, let’s see what we have.  First, recall that the Tetractys is composed of four ranks: a Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad.  I temporarily propose these names of God for these ranks, all based on Revelation 1:8, which contains all these names of God (attributes, really, but eh):

  1. ho Kyrios, “the Lord”
  2. hē Arkhē kai to Telos, “the First and the Last”
  3. ho Ēn kai ho Ōn kai ho Erkhomenos, “He who Was and Is and Is to Come”.
  4. ho Pantokratōr, “the All-Ruler”

All are God, of course, and the overall monadic name could easily be God (ho Theos), the Aeon (ho Aiōn), the Whole (to Holon), and so forth.  Personally, I’m getting into the habit of using Aiōn or Iaō as my primary go-to names of God, though my old Stoic inclinations always keeps the Whole nearby in my mind.  So, in conjurations, I’ll test how the use of these specific names work, though I’ll also shoot for other names to see whether other appellations or descriptors of God work better, or whether there are more secret names of God to be used.  Who knows?  As this Tetractys model of magic develops, maybe these names’ll be obsoleted in favor of others, or another method can be used entirely.

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Crucible Convention 2014!

Of course, October’s second-biggest event in my life (the first being that noble and highest holiday of my own birth) is still happening: Crucible Convention, as always held by the generous and amazing Omnimancers, this year on October 4, 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Princeton in Princeton, NJ.  Tickets are $40, or $45 if you go to the convention banquet, and the hotel has a discounted rate until September 19th if you want to get a room.  Getting a room is heavily suggested (the hotel discount code is CRU), since occult talks, socializing, and antics go on well until the night, and the Friday night mixer is fantastic to hit up.  If you plan to get the dinner, do so early, since spaces are limited.  The convention schedule can be found here, and you can log in to register here.

Last year was my second year going, and it was a fantastic blast with good knowledge spread and good stories made; my first year was no small amount of fun and education, too.  This year promises to be even better, especially because yours truly is giving his first talk!  Yes, polyphanes will make his conference talk debut at Crucible Convention 2014 on (predictably, given the recent string of posts on it) “Mathesis: Towards a Greek Kabbalah”.  The class blurb from the Crucible Convention class schedule:

Although the traditions of ancient Greece provide the foundation for most Western occulture, the use of Greek techniques and tools is underrepresented in modern Western magic, especially that which falls under the banner of Hermeticism.  Most Hermetic magic practiced today is based on the studies of those who focus on the Jewish mysteries of kabbalah.  While the spiritual technology and philosophy of Jewish, Christian, and Hermetic kabbalah has been invaluable to the development of Hermeticism, Hermetic occulture does not make the best use of kabbalah as Jewish kabbalists do, and even then, kabbalah may not be the best fit for the modern non-Jewish Hermeticist.  As a non-kabbalistic alternative to the practice of the Great Work, polyphanes will discuss a new approach to Hermetic magic using an innovative theurgical and cosmological framework based on Pythagorean and Neoplatonic philosophies called “mathesis”, meaning “teaching of the mysteries”.

If you’ve been keeping up with the posts here, then you’re already ahead of the game (and there’s much to do and explore before I give the talk), but I also want to disseminate this topic as much as I can, since it’s kinda sorta my crowning project at the moment.  I don’t want to pontificate too much and start a schismatic group intent on divorcing Hermeticism from kabbalah, but I do want to give people something to think about, that “hey, there might be other ways to do Hermetic stuff besides kabbalah”.  Not only will it get a much-needed conversation going, it’ll also help in getting feedback from others and improve the system even more.

Save the date, preregister, and come to support me (and a bevy of other fantastic speakers, including my own personal colleagues) at Crucible this year!

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Internumeric Relationships by Addition on the Tetractys

It’d be rude and vulgar of me to leave the Tetractys as some simple geometric diagram used for plotting paths or meditations.  I mean, the Tetractys is a meditation tool, yes, but to use it merely for working with the Greek alphabet with in a mathetic framework is to ignore the deeper meaning of the Tetractys.  For the Pythagoreans, especially, the Tetractys was more than a set of ten dots; it was the key to all creation and all cosmos.  There’s no evidence that anybody’s used it to plot paths on like I did, which is probably because this is an innovative use for an already heavily used tool based purely on number.  As we’re all aware by now, the Tetractys is a representation of the Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad to yield the Decad: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10.  All these numbers are holy to the Pythagoreans and to Western occultists generally, but there’s so much more to the Tetractys than this.

One of the traditional ways of understanding the mysteries of the Tetractys was to take the different ranks of numbers present and add them together to yield a particular number.  For instance, the Monad plus Tetrad yields the Pentad (1 + 4 = 5), while the Monad, Dyad, and Triad together yield the Hexad (1 + 2 + 3 = 6).  All these numbers have their own meaning, all of which are based ultimately on the Monad and, in succession, the meanings given to the other numbers built upon the Monad.  I’d thought I’d investigate what some of these properties are and see what the Tetractys represents in building the numbers of the Decad together based on these relationships between the ranks of the Tetractys.  Specifically, these relationships are based on the arithmetical operation of addition, the straightforward aggregation of two numbers by combining their distinct magnitudes into a single one.  Other operations exist, but those are for another time.

So, to start off with, we have four basic numbers, starting with the Monad and ending with the Tetrad.  We can say that, with the exception of the Monad, all numbers are just collections of Monads in a particular relationship:

  1. Monad = individuation, undifferentiated, undifferentiatable
  2. Dyad = two Monads in relation
  3. Triad = three Monads in harmony
  4. Tetrad = four Monads in form

Note that some of these can be broken down further into simpler groups.  Without repeating any particular number (such as saying that the Dyad is two Monads or the Tetrad is two Dyads), we end up with two extra identities:

  1. Triad = Monad + Dyad
  2. Tetrad = Monad + Triad

It’s crucially important to note that the Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad are more than just a collection of monads.  Number in the esoteric sense is more than just a magnitude or amount, but also a relationship formed between the individuals in the collection.  The only number in this set that has no relationship is the Monad itself, since it exists as a unity unto itself without anything to relate to.  The Dyad is the first number that has a relationship, but can be said to be relationship itself; without the Dyad, relationship cannot exist.  In a more arithmetic sense that the Pythagoreans preferred, all numbers can be divided into two partially overlapping groups of odd (able to be divided into unequal parts only) and even (able to be divided into two equal and unequal parts).  Four, for instance, is even because it can be split up into groups of 1/3 and 2/2.  Five, however, is odd, because it can be split into 1/4 or 2/3, and neither of those are equal splits.  However, the Monad cannot be split at all into anything, and the Dyad can not be split into unequal parts, so neither the Monad nor Dyad are even nor odd, and are thus not true number, though they are sources of number.

Thus, based on the individuation of the Monad and relation of the Dyad, all other numbers can be made, such as the Triad.  It is because of this that the Triad is considered by the Pythagoreans to be the first true number, since the Monad and Dyad are something rarer and rawer.  All amounts can be formed from the Monad, but it’s the relationship (Dyad) between individual Monads that produce a number.  Thus, as the Triad is the first true number, it is also the first odd number, and the Tetrad is the first even number.

So, based on the six above identities, we can form the rest of the numbers from the Pentad (5) to the Decad (10).  If we omit the identities from above and reduce all things to a collection of Monads, Dyads, Triads, and Tetrads, we end up with two ways to form the Pentad, and one way each to form the Hexad, Heptad, Octad, Ennead, and Decad:

  1. Pentad = (Monad + Tetrad) or (Dyad + Triad)
  2. Hexad = Dyad + Tetrad
  3. Heptad = Triad + Tetrad
  4. Octad = Monad + Triad + Tetrad
  5. Ennead = Dyad + Triad + Tetrad
  6. Decad = Monad + Dyad + Triad + Tetrad

Yes, this is all basic arithmetic that we’ve been able to do since kindergarten.  Of course, it’s always the simplest things that hide some of the more profound secrets.  I won’t go over all the associations and theologies behind the numbers for that; you can get a copy of the Theology of Arithmetic by Iamblichus for cheap (or even, dare I say it, for free), and you can read about what the Pythagoreans thought about the numbers of the Decad way back when.  What I want to point out is, at a high level, what these additions of the numbers mean based on the four concepts of monadic individuation, dyadic relation, triadic harmony, and tetradic form.

The Monad is an individual, unchanging, static, and stable.  It is the only thing that exists, and thus cannot be differentiated from anything (since there’s nothing to differentiate it from).  While we can say that it contains all opposites and extremities within itself, it’d be more proper to say that no concept of opposition or extremity exists within the Monad.  While the Monad exists, nothing exists within the Monad; it can become all and any qualities, but it itself has no qualities.  It is the source of all nature, but is itself beyond nature.  It cannot be divided since it is a unit, an atom, the core of existence itself.  The Monad cannot move, as there is nothing within which it can move (which would imply something that is Monad and something that is not-Monad).  The Monad has no shape, consisting only of a single point that indicates both all sizes and all angles but without anything else to connect to.

The Dyad is relation and difference.  Between two Monads, we now know of two things that can be compared as equals, but as different equals.  The Dyad is representative of differentiation, distinction, opposition, and motion, all of which can be thought of as different types of relation.  The Dyad represents a line defined by two points, but is still without shape; it can possess direction and magnitude, but is as yet without definition.  The Dyad allows for things to exist within, around, and outside of other things, since it creates space between and among other things.  While the Monad is pure potential for creation (and all other things), the Dyad is the act of creation itself, since it distinguishes a Creator from the Creature, or the Acted from the Actor.  The Dyad is space, change, action, and relativity.

The Triad is harmony and proportion, formed from a combination of individuation and relation.  It is the first odd number, and the first number that can be added from other distinct numbers.  The Triad gives the first shape of something, as three points can define an enclosed space.  The Triad indicates actuality, the Creature made through Creation (Dyad) from the Creator (Monad).  However, it is also indicates harmony, since two distinct and different things are linked to and joined by a third.  With the Triad, there is real existence as opposed to potential existence or becoming existence.  Quoth Iamblichus, “‘this’ belongs to the Monad, ‘either’ to the Dyad, and ‘each’/’every’ to the Triad”.  With Triad, there is time: beginning, middle, end; there is communication: speaker, listener, message; there is work: actor, action, acted upon. However, like the Monad, the Triad is static, since it provides for space and size but not change, since it is construction and creation that brought a static shape to being.

The Tetrad is the root of form, formed from a combination of individuation and harmony.  With three points we can define a two-dimensional shape, but with four we can define a solid three-dimensional object.  Moreover, the Tetrad is dynamic, since it is even; while the Triad measures static quantity, the Tetrad measures dynamic quantity, since it provides for motion and change while the Tetrad does not.  Further, the Tetrad allows for forms present in relationship to each other; while the Triad offers a two-dimensional form, the Tetrad allows for two-dimensional forms next to each other as the Dyad allows for Monads to be next to each other.  With both individuation and harmony, one can choose to be part of a harmony or break away from it, acting either inside or outside a given group, and allows for distinct existence apart from, aggregated with, or in conjunction with others.

Alone among the numbers, the Pentad is the only one that can be formed in two distinct ways: from the Monad and Tetrad (a combination of individuation and form) and from the Dyad and Triad (a combination of relation and harmony).  In a way, it’s fitting; between all the numbers of the Decad, the Pentad is the middle of them.  Consider that any two numbers that add up to 10 have 5 as the mean (9 + 1, 8 + 2, 7 + 3, etc.); the Pentad is halfway to the Decad, and itself is vital to life.  It is the combination of pure potential and discrete aggregation (Monad and Tetrad), as well as of relation and harmony (Dyad and Triad); it is the combination of an even and odd number in either case, and considered to unify opposites in a dynamic way that allows for growth and change as opposed to the static way of the Triad.  If we consider the Pentad as the sum of Monad and Tetrad, we obtain a view of eternality and potentiality combined with and suspended among temporality and discretion (the four changeable elements acting under unchanging Spirit); if we consider the Pentad as the sum of Dyad and Triad, we obtain a view of motion and action mixed with and changing stasis and relationship.  In either case, the Pentad is where life and concrete reality itself begins, since in the Pentad there is balance, reciprocity, distribution, and especially of growth.

The Hexad is the combination of relation and form, producing a dynamic harmony.  Unlike the Pentad, which is dynamic growth, the Hexad is a balance between things in motion.  The presence of distinct qualities bestowed by the Tetrad in relation of the Dyad allows for various dynamic forces to exist dynamically, moving with and acting, co-acting, or reacting together without destruction.  As the Tetrad represents a body and the Dyad represents motion, the Hexad represents a body in motion and can move in six ways, or three sets of two ways: up/down, left/right, forward/backward.  Seen the other way, as the Tetrad represents qualities and the Dyad represents opposition, the Hexad represents an ordering and balance of opposites.  Further, as two Tetrads, the Hexad represents what we commonly see as “Merkava stones”, two interlocked tetrahedrons that represent a combination of bodies and opposites that together unite to form a whole.  While the Pentad is the number of life, the Hexad is the number of order.

The Heptad is the combination of harmony and form, producing foundation.  This is hard to describe in a single word, but within the Heptad there are all things finally present to create everything, yet is short of actively creating everything; all manifest sources are present in the Heptad (seven planets of astrology, seven vowels of Greek speech, etc.), though they are as yet too unmanifest on their own.  As a combination of Triad and Tetrad, the Heptad represents the four elements and three reagents, or the three processes that transform the four elements so as to create all things.  As an odd number that cannot be divided, the Heptad is similar to the Monad in that it provides for potential creation, but unlike the Monad, the Heptad is a collection of seven entities that provide the foundation of all manifest things, while the Monad is an undifferentiatable source from which all manifest and unmanifest things come.  If the Hexad represents order, then the Heptad are the things that are ordered within the cosmos provided for by the Hexad, the meat to fill out the Hexad’s bones.  The Heptad is that which essentially exists; the Heptad is essence.

The Octad is the first addition that involves three numbers: the Monad, Triad, and Tetrad.  Thus, the Octad combines individuation, harmony, and form.  As the Heptad is the combination of the Triad and Tetrad, we can say that the Octad is that which results from the essences of creation into which they flow.  However, as we saw with the Pentad, we can also say that the Monad and Heptad combine such that the Heptad is mixed in within the Monad, as the seven planets are within the eighth sphere of the fixed stars, as the four elements are within the Quintessence.  However, we can also say that the Octad is the combination of two Tetrads, allowing for mixtures and combinations of that which otherwise could only relate to each other by processes; although Sulfur combines and transforms Air into Fire and vice versa if we use the Tetrad + Triad view, we end up with dry air or cool fire between Air and Fire if we use the Tetrad + Tetrad view.  The Octad represents solution and combination of qualities, a single entity produced from essences or qualities and their interquality transformations.  The Octad is mixture.

The Ennead is the combination of relation, harmony, and form.  Based on how we might conceive of this, we can say that the Ennead combines the Tetrad and Pentad, the Triad and Hexad, the Dyad and Heptad, or the Monad and Octad, but at its root it combines the Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad.  At its core, it lacks the Monad and possesses the Dyad, indicating that the Ennead is an active number related to creating but not as creator or creature.  In the Ennead is all creating of manifest things, combining tetradic body, triadic intermediation, and dyadic motion.  In the number nine are all the other numbers brought together, the final single-digit whole number.  As there were nine Muses who lead to all Art and nine Curetes who watched over the infant Zeus, the Ennead brings things to completion and perfection without itself being perfect.  The Ennead is realization.

At long last, we finally reach the Decad, the combination of the Monad, Dyad, Triad, and Tetrad; of individuation, relation, harmony, and form.  In the Decad are all the basic numbers of the Tetractys, and there are many ways to add to the Decad using the lesser numbers, but at its core it is the number formed from 1, 2, 3, and 4 summed together.  Just as in the Ennead there is the process of realization and completion but without something to realize or complete, the Decad augments this with the Monad, allowing for something to be filled with the Ennead.  The Decad represents a discrete entity (Monad) that is distinct from other things (Dyad) that is stable unto itself (Triad) given physical a body (Tetrad).  Moreover, it is also something that can grow (Pentad) while maintaining itself in an order (Hexad) that combines all ethereal essences (Heptad) and concrete mixtures (Octad) being brought together (Ennead).  Without any other number preceding it, the entity represented by the Decad would be lacking and could not be fully realized.  Whether it is the universe we live in or the individual people we live as, we are all representative of the Decad and the journey it has taken to get here.  The Decad is the Whole.

I think it goes without saying that this Pythagorean analysis of the ten numbers of the Decad can easily be mapped onto the Tree of Life in Jewish kabbalah or Hermetic qabbalah, and indeed, I recall seeing many of these things present in the explanations given in works like Alan Moore’s Promethea series.  It makes sense, too, since Pythagoreanism is one of the fundamental philosophies underlying Western occult thought, deep enough to not clearly be distinguished as Pythagorean but also profound enough to affect everything that’s built upon it.  While numerology has never quite been my strong suit, this little exploration of the basic numbers has considerably helped.

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Geomantic Revelations of the Tetractys

The last post on the arithmetic subtleties of the Tetractys got me to thinking.  If I have four rows of things I can select or not select for a collection, I end up with so many results.  The overall number of distinct results, of course, is 10 (Monad through the Decad), but I thought a bit deeper about it.  I mean, I disregarded multiple ways of adding up to a given number before, and what if I took all those into account?  After I did the math, I realized there are 16 ways to add different selections of the ranks of the Tetractys together to get a certain sum.  Four rows, 16 results.  Sound familiar?  Yup.  I accidentally found a way to link the Tetractys to the 16 figures of geomancy.  Before reading, I suggest you brush up on the terms of geomantic operation, specifically for what inversion and reversion is.  Besides, it’s been a while since I mentioned anything substantial about geomancy, so this is an interesting confluence of studies for me.

Whether geomancy has ever been thought about in terms of the Tetractys, I can’t say, though I personally doubt it, but consider the following analysis.  First, let’s assign the four elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth to the four ranks of the Tetractys:

  • Monad: Fire
  • Dyad: Air
  • Triad: Water
  • Tetrad: Earth

This isn’t that much a stretch.  Yes, the elements properly belong to the Tetrad as a whole, but we also can think of the four elements as numbers in their own right.  We know that Fire is the most subtle and Earth the least, and that Fire is the least dense and Earth the most.  Similarly, the Monad is the most subtle and least concrete number, while the Tetrad is the most concrete and least subtle.  We can assign the four elements accordingly to the four numbers of the Tetractys with agreeable ease.

If we allow for all possible combinations of these four numbers to be either present or absent in a sum, then we get sixteen different results, just how we get sixteen different geomantic figures by allowing for all four elements to be either present or absent.  The list of all the possible ways to add the ranks of the Tetractys are:

  1. None (0): Populus (None)
  2. Monad alone (1): Laetitia (Fire alone)
  3. Dyad alone (2): Rubeus (Air alone)
  4. Monad + Dyad (3): Fortuna Minor (Fire + Air)
  5. Triad alone (3): Albus (Water alone)
  6. Monad + Triad (4): Amissio (Fire + Water)
  7. Dyad + Triad (5): Coniunctio (Air + Water)
  8. Monad + Dyad + Triad (6): Cauda Draconis (Fire + Air + Water)
  9. Tetrad alone (4): Tristitia (Earth alone)
  10. Monad + Tetrad (5): Carcer (Fire + Earth)
  11. Dyad + Tetrad (6): Acquisitio (Air + Earth)
  12. Monad + Dyad + Tetrad (7): Puer (Fire + Air + Earth)
  13. Triad + Tetrad (7): Fortuna Maior (Water + Earth)
  14. Monad + Triad + Tetrad (8): Puella (Fire + Water + Earth)
  15. Dyad + Triad + Tetrad (9): Caput Draconis (Air + Water + Earth)
  16. Monad + Dyad + Triad + Tetrad (10): Via (Fire + Air + Water + Earth)

Note that the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 have two ways each to add up to them.  In the last post, we only discussed one each, the formulas that use the basic Monad/Dyad/Triad/Tetrad set, but it’s possible and equivalent to say that 6 is both a combination of Dyad and Tetrad as it is with Monad and Pentad.  The numbers 0, 1, 2, 8, 9, and 10, however, each only have one way to add up to them.  Thus, the numbers that have two ways have two possible figures, and the numbers with only one have one figure.  In this way, we can assign geomantic figures to different collections of the ranks of the Tetractys, but what might this mean?  For numbers that can be added to in two ways (3, 4, 5, 6), we have two figures each.  We’ll call those figures “manifesting” that have more rarefied numbers (such as Puer, which is Monad + Dyad + Tetrad), and “manifested” those that have more concrete numbers (such as Fortuna Maior, which is Triad + Tetrad).  As it turns out, we end up with mobile figures becoming manifesting and stable figures becoming manifested.  Thus, we end up with a chart like the following:

 Sum Manifesting Manifested
0 Populus
1 Laetitia
2 Rubeus
3 Fortuna Minor Albus
4 Amissio Tristitia
5 Coniunctio Carcer
6 Cauda Draconis Acquisitio
7 Puer Fortuna Maior
8 Puella
9 Caput Draconis
10 Via

Going from top to bottom, we see that there are important patterns present in the chart.  Figures for 0 and 10 (Populus and Via) are inverses of each other, as are 1/9 and 2/8.  The manifesting 3 and manifested 7 figures are also inverses, as are manifested 3 and manifested 7, and so forth.  Coniunctio and Carcer are both italicized, since they’re both equally manifesting and manifested and it’s hard to tell which is which, especially since they’re both equally added to by 5 and are in the middle of the list.  We see that the greater the sum, the more “dense” and active the figure becomes, and we get more stable the further down we go (with one exception we’ll get to later).  As might be expected from Iamblichus, the number 5 is the pivot and balance for all the other numbers, and accordingly the manifested and manifesting properties of this number are in agreeable and balanced growth.  We can also note that the “extreme” (0, 10) and median figures (5) are what we’d also call “liminal”; figures that are the same when they’re reversed.  We have this constant shifting balance throughout the structure of this Tetractyan geomancy that keeps popping up, so that’s cool.

If we use our keywords from our prior discussion of the nature of the numbers from 1 through 10, we can attribute them to the geomantic figures:

  1. Individuation: Laetitia
  2. Relation: Rubeus
  3. Harmony: Fortuna Minor (manifesting), Albus (manifested)
  4. Form: Amissio (manifesting), Tristitia (manifested)
  5. Growth: Coniunctio and Carcer (both manifesting and manifested)
  6. Order: Cauda Draconis (manifesting), Acquisitio (manifested)
  7. Essence: Puer (manifesting), Fortuna Maior (manifested)
  8. Mixture: Puella
  9. Realization: Caput Draconis
  10. Wholeness: Via

In this sense, the terms “manifesting” and “manifested” become a little clearer.  Figures that are manifesting bring that quality into existence, while figures that are manifested represent that quality already in existence.  It’s the difference between “becoming/causing” and “existing/evidencing”.  Thus, Fortuna Minor is manifesting harmony, since it requires one to work with others, indicating that one’s own power is not enough to carry the day; other interaction is required.  On the other hand, Albus is manifested harmony, maintaining equanimity and reflection unto itself, self-sufficient and uninvolved with anything else that might disturb it.  Similar cases can be drawn up for the other sums, so it’s interesting to see how geomancy can reflect these numerological concepts in its own logic.

What about the numbers for which there’s only one figure?  The figures of 0, 1, and 2 are the inverses of the figures of 10, 9, and 8, respectively, and if we keep our mobile/manifesting and stable/manifested idea, then 0, 8, and 9 are manifested qualities while 1, 2, and 10 are manifesting.  It seems odd that Populus should be among the mobile/manifesting figures and Via among the stable/manifested, but the swap here makes sense in a cyclical way; after all, with either absolutely nothing or absolutely everything present, we end up able to repeat the whole process, since if everything is all one Thing, one can no longer draw a difference since there’s nothing different (hooray, paradoxes).  So, Individuation and Realization are manifesting and manifested qualities of a metaquality “Becoming”; Relation and Mixture of “Variation”; and…hm.  We have Wholeness as the quality for 10, but what about 0?

What’s probably most bizarre about this interpretation, at least in a strictly Pythagorean sense, is the “sum” of Populus being 0.  Zero was not considered to be a true number by the ancient Greeks, or really by anyone in the Western world, up through the medieval age when Arabic and Indian mathematics started becoming popular to study.  After all, they might ask, “how can nothing be something?”  Besides, with the Tetractys itself, all things are based on the Monad.  The Monad defines and begins all things on the Tetractys and existence itself, yet it itself cannot come from nothing, for it never came or became at all.  We haven’t encountered the notion of “nothingness” before in our mathetic studies, so what might it represent?  Honestly, I’d consider it to represent Emptiness in the Buddhist sense where all things are interconnected and rely upon each other.  It’s not quite Relation or Harmony or any of the other things, but it would be closest to Wholeness; after all, Matter must exist within Space, and all of Matter exists within all other Matter, always influencing and influenced by itself.  It’s weird, though, but think of it like this.  In all things, Populus must exist as the template for all other things, the ideal form that even the Monad itself represents as itself.  Without Populus, we’d have no geomantic figure, just as the Good itself cannot exist apart from Goodness.  Even Wholeness must reside within the form of Emptiness, just like how Populus must be present (even if “hidden” or implied) in every geomantic chart.  So, if Wholeness is the Decad, then Emptiness is the Mēden (Μηδεν), or “Nothing”.  But both, in an obscure sense, are the same.

Focusing more on the qualities of the numbers themselves, we can further pair them up into different groups based on how the geomantic figures there are inverses of each other.  In other words, if two numbers add up to 10 (0 + 10, 1 + 9, etc.), they form a pair:

  • Individuation/Realization (1 + 9 = 10)
  • Relation/Mixture (2 + 8 = 10)
  • Harmony/Essence (3 + 7 = 10)
  • Form/Order (4 + 6 = 10)
  • Emptiness/Wholeness (0 + 10 = 10)
  • Growth (5 + 5 = 10)

These qualities, though paired up to indicate something like an opposition or dichotomy, doesn’t seem to indicate anything of the sort, but rather two interconnected concepts that cannot be separated from each other.  After all, in order for one to become One, something whole and complete in and of itself, it must go through a process of becoming and enforming to become real (Individuation and Realization, 1/9).  In order for different things to relate, oppose, agree, or move with each other, they must be put together and combined (Relation and Mixture, 2/8).  In order for different things to agree, combine, and merge together, they must share certain qualities and be germane to each other (Harmony and Essence, 3/7).  In order for things to possess form, body, and dimension, they must have a structure and consistency that allows them to maintain it (Form and Order, 4/6).  In order for something to exist, it must exist because of something else, or it must allow for itself to be filled with creation (Emptiness and Wholeness, 0/10).  Growth…well, growth expands in all ways, in all dimensions, and itself provides a balance that nurtures and metes out all other qualities (Growth and Growth, 5/5).

So, we have five pairs of qualities of the numbers, and one single quality that forms its own pair.  What might we call these metaqualities?

  • Becoming: Individuation/Realization
  • Variation: Relation/Mixture
  • Accordance: Harmony/Essence
  • Structure: Form/Order
  • Being: Emptiness/Wholeness
  • Growth

These are terms I just pulled off the top of my head, so I don’t expect them to stay permanent terms, but they do tend to fit.  Individuation and Realization are both qualities that are required for anything to become One Thing or one thing.  Relation and Mixture are both required for anything to be different or have difference among others, to either vary or be a variation.  Harmony and Essence are both required for anything to agree with or find similarities with in an accordance.  Form and Order are both required for anything to have a body or to form a body in a coherent structure.  Emptiness and Wholeness are both required for anything to exist, either on its own as a Whole or as part of a Whole filled by it.  Growth can apply to any and all of these things, and mediate between any two qualities that form part of a metaquality pair.  In a way, the metaqualities form their own Tetractys, with Becoming related to the Monad, Variation to the Dyad, Accordance to the Triad, and Structure to the Tetrad.  Growth, as a balance, forms part of the “hidden” Pentad underlying the Tetractys, and the four metaqualities again form another “inverted Tetractys” under it.  Thus, the “upper Tetractys” is composed of Individuation, Relation, Harmony, and Form; the “lower Tetractys” is composed of Realization, Mixture, Essence, and Order.  Growth mediates between the two as the “hidden Pentad”; Emptiness and Wholeness are at once present at all points throughout this dual Tetractys figure.

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While my Tetractys research is still new to me, geomancy is not, and being able to understand more of the Tetractys with symbols and terms I’m already familiar with is a huge help to me.  Like I said, I don’t know whether this type of analysis has ever been attempted before, but it’s certainly something that I plan on continuing.  Geomancy, after all, is a binary system based on the number four, and within four is 10 and thus all other numbers.  Perhaps the two were meant to be wedded all along.

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Pronouncing Generated Greek Names

In my quest for working more with the Greek alphabet in my practice, there’s one thing that Greek doesn’t do too well that Hebrew does excellently, and that’s the pronunciation of generated names.  Not names generated from the point of stoicheia, but rather names generated from other processes where it may not be a “legal” Greek name following rules of Greek orthography or phonology.  If you plan to use generated names for spirits in your work, Greek is not the most convenient option in some respects, but it is in others,

Consider the generation of the name of the Natal Genius (which you can generate easily thanks to Quaero Lux’s excellent Daimon Name Calculator), where you input the degrees of the five hylegical places (Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Part of Fortune, Prenatal Syzygy) and you get a five-letter sequence back based on these degree locations that forms the name of your Natal Genius, the spirit who watches over you in this life and is the Idea of all the things you do and are meant to do.  Chris Warnock and Fr. Rufus Opus tell you more about how to develop this name, both of which are based on Agrippa’s methods (book III, chapter 26).  Basically, every degree of the Zodiac has a letter attributed to it; the Hebrew method starts with Aleph at the first degree of Aries, Bet at the second degree of Aries, and so forth all the way through the end of the Zodiac, looping back on the alphabet in the 23rd degree of Aries at Aleph, Bet at the 24th, and so forth.  By finding the degrees of these five hylegical places in the order given above, you get the name of the Natal Genius.  It’s a little complicated, but the overall process is simple.

Thing is, Hebrew has 22 letters (not counting the final forms of Kaph, Nun, etc.), which is not a divisor of 360, the number of degrees in a circle.  Thus, the final letter of the final degree of the Zodiac is not Tav, as might be expected, but Chet, which then immediately goes back to Aleph in the next degree, the first of Aries.  Greek, on the other hand, has 24 letters, which is a factor of 360 (24 × 15 = 360), so the letter corresponding to the final degree of Pisces is Ōmega, which flips back to the letter Alpha in the next degree, which is the first of Aries.  In this sense, the Greek system works a bit nicer.

However, Hebrew is more amenable to pronouncing random strings of consonants (which is all the Hebrew script really is) than Greek is, since Greek has a mixture of vowels and consonants that need to be pronounced together.  With Hebrew, you just need to throw in an extra “eh” or “uh” here or there, maybe “ah” or “i” if the letter is Heh or Yod, and you’re good to go.  You can get more complicated than that if you want, but I haven’t really noticed a big difference.  Greek, however, is more complicated; how does one pronounce ΔΩΚΓΦ?  Dohkgph?  Doh-kegph?  What happens when you have two of the same vowels in a row?  Where exactly do you throw in vowels to make the word pronounceable?

To that end, I’m going to take a page out of some famous Jewish kabbalists who were famed for working with letters and institute a system of “natural vowels”, the vowel that can be most readily used with a given letter.  For vowels, you just use the vowel, but the consonants oftentimes need an extra vowel thrown in.  Simply put, this vowel is the first vowel from the name of the letter itself:

Letter Name Natural Vowel
Α Alpha a
Β Bēta ē
Γ Gamma a
Δ Delta e
Ε Epsilon e
Ζ Zēta ē
Η Ēta ē
Θ Thēta ē
Ι Iōta i
Κ Kappa a
Λ Lambda a
Μ Mu u/y
Ν Nu u/y
Ξ Xei or Xi ei, i
Ο Omicron o
Π Pei or Pi ei, i
Ρ Rhō ō
Σ Sigma i
Τ Tau au
Υ Upsilon u, y
Φ Phei or Phi ei/i
Χ Khei or Khi ei/i
Ψ Psei or Psi ei/i
Ω Ōmega ō

Okay, so we have those.  But there are a few notes with this:

  • A vowel is its own natural vowel; there’s no change or transformation involved here.
  • The letters Π, Φ, Χ, and Ψ have two spellings and, therefore, two possible natural vowels.  The first spelling with “ei” is the classical Attic spelling of the letters, and the second spelling with just “i” is the modern Greek spelling; which you use is up to you, though I prefer classical spellings whenever possible.
  • The letters Μ, Ν, and Υ all have upsilon as their natural vowel.  These can be written as “u” or “y”, but are pronounced the same, like a French u or a German ü.
  • The letter Τ has the vowel combination “au”, but more on this later.

Now, how do we go about using these letters?  If we have a string of consonants, where exactly do we put in vowels?  One natural vowel per consonant?  While simple, it’s a little too naïve, and I have a more complicated but elegant system in place that produces, as close as possible, a “natural”-sounding Greek name.  First, though, let’s take a short break into Greek phonology and orthography.

First, let’s break down the Greek consonants into a phonetic categories (which is a little different than how we normally break them down for stoicheic purposes):

  • Bilabial plosives: Π, Β, Φ
  • Dental plosives: Τ, Δ, Θ
  • Velar plosives: Κ, Γ, Χ
  • Nasals: Μ, Ν
  • Liquids: Λ, Ρ
  • Fricatives: Σ
  • Affricates: Ζ, Ξ, Ψ

While Greek spelling tends to be straightforward, we need to watch out for digraphs, or clusters of two letters that produce a distinct sound that would not be immediately noted.  There are two types of digraphs, those with vowels and those with consonants.

Vowel digraphs, which are pronounced together as a unit:

  • αι (pronounced “ai” as in “eye“)
  • αυ (pronounced “au” as in “how“)
  • ει (pronounced “ei” as in “skate”)
  • ευ (pronounced “eu” as in “ew“)
  • ηυ (pronounced “eu” as in “eww“)
  • οι (pronounced “oi” as in “coy“)
  • ου (pronounced “oo” as in “food”)
  • υι (pronounced “ui/yi” as in “yield”)

Consonant digraphs:

  • γγ (pronounced “ng”)
  • γξ (pronounced “nks”)
  • γκ (pronounced “nk”)
  • γχ (pronounced “nkh”)
  • μπ (pronounced “b” at the beginning of a word and “mb” elsewhere)
  • ντ (pronounced “d” at the beginning of a word and “nd” elsewhere)

Plus there are special consonant digraphs that are considered doubled or germinate sounds but not at the beginning or end of a word:

  • τθ (pronounced “tth” as in “that thing”)
  • κχ (pronounced “kkh” as in “mark king”)
  • πφ (pronounced “pph” as in “sap pins”)
  • κγ (pronounced “gg” as in “sag gasket”)

So, with that, let’s get onto the rules, first for consonants:

  1. A consonant that precedes a vowel does not use its natural vowel of the consonant, but the vowel itself.  Thus, ΒΑ is “ba”, not “bēa”.
  2. A consonant that follows a short vowel does not use its natural vowel, but forms part of a syllable with the previous consonant-vowel pair.  Thus, ΒΑΓ is “bag”, not “ba-ga”.
  3. A consonant that follows a long vowel or a consonant with its own long natural vowel or a vowel dipthong (two vowels pronounced as a unit) uses its natural vowel, starting its own syllable.  Thus, ΒΗΓΤ is “bē-gat” and not “bēg-ta”; ΒΗΘΓΤ is “bē-thē-gat”; ΒΕΙΓΤ is “bei-gat”.
  4. A consonant may or may not use its natural vowel if it forms part of a consonant combination; if not, it is followed by the natural vowel of the second letter of the combination.  Thus, ΒΑΓΓ can be”ban-ga” or “ba-gag”; ΒΑΝΤ can be “ban-dau” or “ba-nyt”.
  5. A combination of a plosive plus a liquid or nasal is to be treated as a consonant cluster.  Thus, ΤΡΟΦA is “troph-a”, ΜΒΛΧΙ is “myb-lakh-i”, and ΣΚΠΛΓ is “skap-lag”.
  6. A doubled consonant is broken up across syllables unless the preceding syllable has a long vowel.  Thus, ΒΑΤΤΑ is “bat-ta” and ΒΑΚΚΑ is “bak-kha”, but ΒΤΤΑ is “bē-tau-ta” and ΒΠΠΟ is “bē-pei-po”.
  7. A consonant cluster of the form τθ, κχ, κγ, or πφ is broken up across syllables unless the preceding syllable has a long vowel, but is treated as separate consonants at the beginning or end of a word.  Thus, ΒΑΚΧΟ is “bak-kho”, but ΤΘΟΞΕ is “tauth-ox-e” and ΗΠΦΓΛ is “ē-piph-gal”.
  8. A doubled consonant or a consonant cluster of the form τθ, κχ, κγ, or πφ cannot occur at the beginning or end of a word.  Thus, ΤΘΓΗΑ is “tauth-gē-ha” and not “tthē-gē-ha”, and ΞΗΟΓΡ is “xē-hog-rō” and not “xē-hogr”.

When it comes to vowels, there are a few more rules:

  1. Any two of the same vowels in succession have an “h” inserted if they do not form part of a vowel digraph.  Thus, ΑΑ is “aha” and ΕΕ is “ehe”.  This also applies to long vowels and short vowels, such that ΕΗ is “e-hē”, ΗΕ is “ē-he”, ΟΩ is “o-hō“, and ΩΟ is “ō-ho”.
  2. An extra “h” may be inserted between any two vowels if it makes the distinction between them clearer.  This is up to the personal preference of the reader.
  3. Any two vowels that form part of a diagraph are read as a digraph.  Thus, ΕΙ is “ei” and ΑΥ is “au”.
  4. A vowel following a vowel digraph has an “h” inserted before it, preserving the vowel digraph that comes first.  Thus, ΑΥΑ is “au-ha”.

Essentially, these rules try to ensure a specific type of syllable structure, where a syllable can (but does not have to) start with a consonant, and ends with a long vowel (ēta, ōmega, or any vowel digraph) or a short vowel (any single vowel except ēta or omega) plus a consonant.  So, with that, let’s try some randomized examples, with syllables clearly marked by hyphens:

  1. ΚΥΚΛΥ is “Kyk-lu”.
  2. ΞΩΘΑΧ is “Xō-thax”.
  3. ΒΥΧΙΩ is “Bykh-iō“.
  4. ΒΝΑΗΔ is “Bē-na-hē-de”.  Why not “Bēn-a-hēd”?  Because ēta (natural vowel of bēta) is a long vowel, so the syllable cannot end with a consonant.  Nu, the following letter, then starts its own syllable with the following alpha instead of forming a syllable with bēta.  Likewise, the ēta on the end of the word cannot be followed by a consonant, so the delta forms its own syllable with its own natural vowel.  Because alpha and ēta don’t form a vowel digraph, an “h” is inserted between the two sounds.
  5. ΞΩΛΒΘ is “Xō-lab-thē”.  Why not “Xōl-bath”?  Because the lambda starts its own syllable, since the preceding vowel is long (ōmega and not omicron).
  6. ΝΤΔΞΣ is “Daud-xeis” or “Daud-xis”.  Note the consonant cluster at the start which still uses the natural vowel of tau, and how the different natural vowels of xi can affect the pronunciation here.
  7. ΙΦΑΘΓ is “Iph-ath-ga”.  Note how the first letter is a vowel, which forms its own syllable with the subsequent phi.  Because gamma at the end isn’t connected to the preceding syllable, it forms its own.
  8. ΗΑΙΩΞ is “Ē-ai-ō-xei” or “Ē-hai-hō-xi”.  Because the first letter is a vowel, it doesn’t connect at all to the next syllable, which is also a vowel, and a vowel digraph at that!  Because the ōmega is long, it doesn’t connect to the next consonant, leaving xi to form its own syllable.  Plus, given the string of vowels that may be complicated to pronounce, extra “h” sounds may be inserted if it makes it any easier.
  9. ΞΣΛΩΩ is “Xei-sil-ō-hō” or “Xis-lō-hō“.  Note here how the different possible natural vowels of xi can change the name!  If we use “ei” as the natural vowel of xi, then it’s a vowel digraph and treated as a long vowel, so the next letter sigma starts its own syllable.  If we use “i”, then we treat it as a short vowel, so it forms a closed syllable with sigma.
  10. ΦΣΣΓΓ is “Phei-sis-gag” or “Phis-sing-ga”.  In the first case, we treat the vowel of phi as long, which pairs the sigmas and gammas together into their own closed syllables.  However, if we treat the natural vowel of phi as short, then we break up the double sigma across syllables as a consonant cluster broken up across the first two syllables, and the double gamma as an “ng” consonant cluster also broken up across the last two syllables, ending in the natural vowel of the final gamma.
  11. ΓΖΦΞΠ is “Gaz-phei-xei-pei”, “Gaz-phix-pi”, or “Gaz-phei-xip”.  This is what happens when you have multiple letters with multiple natural vowel choices; you get multiple choices of how to pronounce it and divide up the syllables!

Okay, so now we’re able to pronounce randomized sequences of Greek letters, which is pretty cool.  I’ve never encountered a good set of rules based on linguistics that indicates how to pronounce these types of names, and the rules here for Greek aren’t that complicated once you get the hang of it.

What about isopsephy, though?  If we’re analyzing the numerical value of a generated Greek word, do we just use the five letters given to us through the generation method or do we fill in the word with the extra vowels we need to make it pronounceable?  For the last example above, do we use ΓΖΦΞΠ (without extra vowels) or do we use ΓΑΖΦΙΞΠΙ (with extra vowels)?  Honestly, try both.  You can treat the form without extra vowels (if any are needed) as a purer, more divine or ideal form of the spirit, and the form with vowels as a more manifest or material form, though they’re pronounced the same either way.  In some cases, like with ΞΩΘΑΧ, no extra vowels are needed, so the isopsephic value wouldn’t change anyway.  If you had to choose, I’d go with the version without extra vowels, but try both and see what comes up.

Ah, and now I can hear a reader in the distance saying “but these are to be used for angel names, aren’t they?”  Yes, you can use this method to generate angelic names with Greek letters and pronunciations, but chances are you’re wondering about the theophoric suffix “-(i)el” or “-iah” we see so often at the end of angelic names.  In Greek, these would be written as -(Ι)ΗΛ and -ΙΑ, respectively, and can be used to mark a name as explicitly angelic or divine.  In practice, either can be used, though I read that the “-(i)el” form of the name is used to denote the spirit working down towards the physical and away from the spiritual while the “-iah” form is used to work from the physical up to the spiritual.  I haven’t noticed a big difference either way, personally, having experimented with both, but other people might think it important.  When using these endings, I suggest you take the extra letters into account for isopsephy, and spell out the name in full with all the extra vowels.

Since I hadn’t seen a guide like this to pronouncing randomized or generated strings of Greek letters, I thought I’d share my method.  I hope it comes in help for you guys; I know I’ll certainly be using it as I work with spirits more to find new names.  The above rules can be bent and twisted as needed, of course; they’re meant to suggest pronunciations, not to dictate them, since the spirits themselves have the final word on the matter.  I can think of a few exceptions to the rules above, but I’ll leave those to the adventurous phonologist and linguist to solve out.  I mean, consider some of the words in the PGM, like ΑΒΡΑΩΘ, which is “ab-ra-ōth” and not, according to our rules, “ab-ra-ō-thē”.  Then again, the words of power in the PGM tend to be, you know, pronounceable.  Random letter combinations are not always so, which is what my rules help with.

Who knows, it might even come in use to read those weird barbarous words of power from older texts or (heavens forbid!) some kind of Greek Enochiana to be developed.

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Mathetic Analysis of Agrippa, the Elements, and the Planets

When I got my start in Hermetic magic a few years back, I began with Fr. Rufus Opus’ texts, which basically took Cornelius Agrippa and ran with it.  To be fair, this is an excellent way to start a study of Renaissance-Modern Hermetic occultism, since Agrippa can arguably be said to be the grandfather-text of all modern neopagan and Hermetic books you find in bookstores nowadays.  His three volume (or four, if you count the spurious collection published after his death) compendium of knowledge talked about literally everything that could be talked about when it came to the occult lore and theory of his day.  It’s so important that I and many others still, almost half a millennium later, still reference it frequently and thoroughly, especially his highly usable tables of correspondence.

One of his most useful is the Scale of Four (book II, chapter 7), where Agrippa gives a list of everything that can be broken down into four categories, such as the four evangelists, the four elements, the four archangels, the four rivers of Hell, and so forth.  It’s important here to notice that Agrippa assigns the eight spheres of the cosmos (seven planets plus the fixed stars) to the four elements in the following way:

  • Fire: Mars, Sun
  • Air: Jupiter, Venus
  • Water: Saturn, Mercury
  • Earth: Fixed Stars, Moon

He doesn’t explain in this section why he associates the planets the way he does, but he does so earlier in the series (book I, chapters 23 to 29).  Agrippa describes in these chapters the qualities, natures, correspondences, and associations of each of the seven planets in detail, including their overall natures:

  • Sun: “lucid flame”
  • Moon: “the Earth, then the Water, as well as that of the Sea, as of the Rivers and all moist things”
  • Saturn: “Earth, and also Water”
  • Jupiter: “Air”
  • Mars: “Fire, together with all adust, and sharp things”
  • Venus: “Air, and Water”
  • Mercury: “Water, although it moves all things indistinctly”

So, while Agrippa may give us a clean and organized way to elementally look at the planets in his Scale of Four, the more thorough description of the planets complicates things.  Jupiter is definitely Air, and the Sun and Mars are definitely Fire, and if Mercury is any one thing then it’d be Water (either in spite of or because of how it “moves all things indistinctly”).  Agrippa then goes on to claim (when combined with the Scale of Four) that the Moon is more earthy than watery, Saturn is more watery than earthy, and Venus is more airy than watery.  Based on how he describes things in book I and then how he classifies them in book II, I’d say there’s something more to the picture here.

Going back to the same Scale of Four, Agrippa gives four “qualities of the celestial elements”, which are:

  • Fire: Light
  • Air: Diaphanousness
  • Water: Agility
  • Earth: Solidity

These four qualities relate to the elements in a high, celestial, almost rarefied way; it’s like what the corresponding quality is among superterrestrial and nonelemental entities.  Fire, after all, gives off light; Air allows things to be seen clearly; Water allows things to move swiftly; Earth allows things to be solid or (and?) slow.  Thus, it makes sense for the light-giving Sun to be given to Fire, and clear-yet-bright Jupiter to Air.

Looking at the planetary organization to the elements given in the Scale of Four, notice how Agrippa organizes the planets.  Going from the Earth to Fire, we have the farthest sphere of the heavens (Fixed Stars) going down to the next farthest (Saturn), then the next (Jupiter), then the next (Mars); at this point, we start back with Fire and go back down to Earth, starting with the Sun, then to Venus, then to Mercury, then to the Moon.  By combining our descriptions of the elements with those of the celestial qualities, we get the following:

  • Fixed Stars: outer, Earth, Solidity
  • Saturn: outer, Water, Agility
  • Jupiter: outer, Air, Diaphanousness
  • Mars: outer, Fire, Light
  • Sun: inner, Fire, Light
  • Venus: inner, Air, Diaphanousness
  • Mercury: inner, Water, Agility
  • Moon: inner, Earth, Solidity

The fact that these eight spheres share four elements among them in two equal and organized groups is something that was pointed out to me by the good Pallas Renatus, and he mentioned that the outer spheres tend to have these celestial qualities “veiled” or “muddled”, while the inner spheres have these qualities “clear”.  In other words, compare the Sun and Mars: they’re both ruled by/ruling Fire, though Agrippa describes the Sun as a “lucid flame” (clear light) while Mars is “Fire, together with all adust [dark]” (veiled light).  However, I can’t find where this notion of veiling comes from, and the system doesn’t always hold; Jupiter would seem to be the version of clear diaphanousness compared to the moist Venus’ veiled diaphanousness, but that’s just me.

So why am I talking about all this?  Because I want to explain why I have the planets arranged on the Tetractys of Life the way I do.  If you recall, I have the planets associated mostly the same as Agrippa, but with a few changes:

Planet Mathesis Agrippa
Fixed Stars Earth
Saturn Earth Water
Jupiter Air
Mars Fire
Sun Fire
Venus Water Air
Mercury Water
Moon Earth
Spirit Air

Most of the planets are the same in both Agrippa’s text and in my system of mathesis, but a few have changed.  Saturn in my system of mathesis is associated with Earth, not Water; Venus is Water, not Air.  To me, Saturn has always been described as cold and dry, which describes the quality of Earth, and I’ve never understood the notion of Saturn being watery except on an intellectual level; going deeper in any way has only ever led me to consider or realize Saturn as being dark, dry, lifeless earth.  This has been borne out by my visions and planetary work with the planet, and even though Agrippa gives Saturn to Water, he also describes it as earthy with many of the other correspondences (black bile/melancholy, heavy thing, black stones, terrestrial or subterranean animals, etc.) all line up with Saturn being earthy more than watery.  Venus, on the other hand, has always struck me as far more watery than airy, though (like any good sexual partner) she can go either way.  The mythological birth of Venus is from the remains of Sky (air) falling into Ocean (water); she rules both phlegm (water) and blood (air).  Speaking on a more meta-elemental level, I suppose it’s this ability of hers to shift between Air and Water that makes her more watery overall.

Further, the system of mathesis specifically recognizes Spirit as a force (a quasi-element between true elements and true planets), while Agrippa doesn’t really recognize it in this schema although he does talk about the quintessence at length (book I, chapter 37).  In the Tetractys of Life, I’ve given Spirit over to Air to pair with Jupiter as a “planet” on its own terms, though I admit this feels a smidge forced to me, even though it’s convenient.  Besides, considering Spirit as airy does indeed work; Spirit is the breath, the vital and invisible (diaphanous) essence that transfers celestial influence into terrestrial bodies.  It works.

While I don’t consider the Fixed Stars to really have their own element (since there’s no Greek letter that refers to it and because its position in the Tetractys of Life is too high up), I think that the Fixed Stars being fiery would be a better match than them being earthy despite my earlier thoughts on the matter.  The Fixed Stars are certainly earthy when compared to the Infinite Light and Unmanifest Monad, but to everything else lower than them, the Fixed Stars are definitely fiery for me.  Still, the Fixed Stars are on a whole different level than the elements, and they themselves are paired with Mundus, or the World (as opposed to the element of Earth).  Mundus doesn’t have a corresponding letter, either (although the element of Earth does), so I don’t think it’s proper to assign the World an element; likewise, the Fixed Stars don’t have their own element.  If anything, Mundus would be Earth and Stellae would be Fire, but in their own dyadic rank, any comparison with the elements would be strictly metaphorical.  Likewise, it’d be hard to assign elements to the triadic Reagents of Salt, Mercury, and Sulfur, though they’d go to Earth, Water, and Fire respectively.  This ties in with their astrological interpretations as Moon, Mercury, and Sun.

So what does that say about the element of Air?  Look at how we just described the elements in the different ranks of the Tetractys: we have all/no elements in the Monad; Fire and Earth in the Dyad; Fire, Water, and Earth in the Triad; and Fire, Air, Water, and Earth in the Tetrad.  Air is the last element to be formed in this understanding, arising only as a distinct force with a distinct metaphor.  In other words, Air has no direct or clean correspondence to any higher force.  Despite its loftiness and diaphanousness, it is the last of the elements to “come out” of the Tetractys, and although it’s by no means the densest, it’s the most complex of them all.  This matches up with our confusing hexagram paths in the Tetractys of Life, which allow for transfer between different levels of manifestation (up or down the Tetractys) as well as for transfer between different levels of activity (left or right on the Tetractys) in a way that the horizontal Water paths or diagonal Fire/Earth paths don’t allow.  Air allows for complete and dynamic change rather than natural evolution (Fire and Earth) or transference/mutation (Water).

Agrippa has some interesting things to say about the element of Air, as well (book I, chapter 6).  Emphasis is my own:

It remains that I speak of the Aire. This is a vitall spirit, passing through all Beings, giving life, and subsistence to all things, binding, moving, and filling all things. Hence it is that the Hebrew Doctors reckon it not amongst the Elements, but count it as a Medium or glue,joyning things together, and as the resounding spirit of the worlds instrument. It immediately receives into it self the influences of all Celestiall bodies, and then communicates them to the other Elements, as also to all mixt bodies: Also it receives into it self, as it were a divine Looking-glass, the species of all things, as well naturall, as artificiall, as also of all manner of speeches, and retains them; And carrying them with it, and entering into the bodies of Men, and other Animals, through their pores, makes an Impression upon them, as well when they sleep, as when they be awake, and affords matter for divers strange Dreams and Divinations…Also, when certain appearances, not only spirituall, but also naturall do flow forth from things, that is to say, by a certain kind of flowings forth of bodies from bodies, and do gather strength in the Air, they offer, and shew themselves to us as well through light as motion, as well to the sight as to other senses, and sometimes work wonderfull things upon us, as Plotinus proves and teacheth. And we see how by the South wind the Air is condensed into thin clouds, in which, as in a Looking-glass are reflected representations at a great distance of Castles, Mountains, Horses, and Men, and other things, which when the clouds are gone, presently vanish…

In this sense, Air is the element that fills all things, but that requires that there first exist things to be filled.  The presence of Air is predicated on the presence of space (which itself must be filled by Air) and on the presence of solid bodies.  The presence of bodies, of course, is predicated on there being at least Earth (for solidity of body), Fire (for spiritual reality and motion), as well as Water (growth and change).  The three elements of Fire, Earth, and Water must exist first before Air can exist; although Air does not come from these three, it can only come about once these three already exist.  Moreover, it works upon itself in a way that the other elements don’t.  Looking back at the Tetractys of Life, the paths of Water, Earth, and Fire all go in certain directions but never back to their beginning, while the paths of Air go in cycles, constantly changing upon itself in a loop like a convection cycle of hot and cold or moist and dry air.

While my interpretation of the planets and elements is slowly drifting further from Agrippa, the Golden Dawn, and Hermetic qabbalah than I originally thought it might, it’s also leading me into a new direction with mathesis becoming its own full system instead of something merely derivative from Qabbalah with names and symbols swapped out for others.  As Pallas Renatus had mentioned to me before, the Tetractys of Life and system of mathesis generally has internal consistency going for it, which is no bad thing; that much of my analysis points to new truths within something still experimental shows promise to my mind.  As I delve deeper into mathesis and possibly drift farther from qabbalah, I figure that the more I can explain differences between the two in a solid Hermetic framework, the better off I’ll be.  This is just part of that effort.

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Geomantic Meditative Music

It’s rare I do anything but share words and the occasional graph on this blog, so let’s try something different.  I was on the train not too long ago and going through my music library trying to find something to listen to, when I had the idea that “hey, I like this song, it’s not a bad example for this one geomantic figure”.  I realized that the similarities in the feelings that song evoked (for me, at least) hit home regarding that particular figure, so I went through the rest of the songs in my library and quite a few that weren’t and compiled a small playlist of songs and music videos.  Each song is selected that best represents that geomantic figure to me, which you might find useful in your meditations and explorations of the figure.  Besides, it shows off some of the songs I really like generally, and it’s been a while since I shared anything too personal about my tastes in something not explicitly magical.

Feel free to share your own music videos in the comments, and let others know what songs you think best represent the figures!

Populus: “Elements” (Lindsey Stirling, 2012), Lindsey Stirling

Via: “Eye of the Storm” (Dreamcypher, 2007), The Crüxshadows (lyrics)

Albus: “Dark Age (Karsh Kate Remix)” (Tantra Lounge vol. 5, 2007), Midival Punditz

Coniunctio: “Find A New Way” (Too Young to Fight It, 2007), Young Love (lyrics) (bonus points if you find the alternate video for this song!)

Puella: “Scars Of A Lighthouse” (Take Cair Paramour, 2010), Ashbury Heights (lyrics)

Amissio: “Find You’re Here” followed immediately by “Find You’re Gone” (Find You’re Here, 2003), Wolfsheim (lyrics here and here, respectively)

Fortuna Maior: “I Always Knew” (Down to Earth, 2008), Jem (lyrics)

Fortuna Minor: “Die Hölle Muss Warten” (Die Hölle Muss Warten, 2012), Eisbrecher (lyrics and translation from German)

Puer: “Beyond The Bounds (Eshericks Remix 2012)”, (Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner OST, 2003), Maki Kiriota feat. K Á R Y Y N (lyrics)

Rubeus: “Talons” (Intimacy, 2008), Bloc Party (lyrics)

Acquisitio: “Gold Guns Girls” (Fantasies, 2009), Metric (lyrics)

Laetitia: “El Pico” (Ratatat, 2004), Ratatat

Tristitia: “Sweet Demure” (Collide, 2008), Beats Antique

Carcer: “God Is Going To Get Sick Of Me” (The Freezing Atlantic, 2005), Aberdeen City (lyrics)

Caput Draconis: “GO!” (Master of My Make-Believe, 2012), Santigold feat. Karen O (lyrics)

Cauda Draconis: “Don’t Do It” (Portal 2: Songs To Test By, 2011), Aperture Science Psychoacoustics Laboratory

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New Ebook: Handbook of Saint Cyprian (and a lot of links!)

A while back, I was at my local botanica and looking through their baskets of prayer cards, pamphlets, and prayer books.  To my surprise, I found a small booklet written by Father Eliseo Porras Rojas of the Iglesia Ortodoxa de Latinoamerica in Bogota, Columbia; the name wasn’t important, nor was it even written in full in the booklet, but what caught my eye was that it was a novena to Saint Cyprian of Antioch along with Saint Justina.  I finally got around to translating it from Spanish, and I have to say that it’s certainly an odd novena.  Yes, it has prayers to be done over nine days, and there’s a place every day for you to make a request of the good Saints Cyprian and Justina, but it’s focused more on contemplation and meditation rather than on reciting prayers and making offerings.  It’s an unusual text, and I plan to try it out in the near future.

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve translated something from Spanish for Saint Cyprian.  He’s widely renowned (famously or infamously, depending on whom you ask) in Central and South America, and is called on primarily for defense against demons and black magic, and secondarily for love.  There’s plenty of material written in Spanish in pamphlets, prayer cards, or whole books, and much of it is out of reach of many Anglophones.  To that end, I’ve decided to gather a bunch of prayers I’ve found from botanicas and online and translate them into English into a new ebook, the Vademecum Cypriani, or “Handbook of Cyprian”, including four novenas and several other prayers that have never been translated before (or, if they have, I certainly can’t find reference to them), as well another prayer and the Chaplet of Saint Cyprian written by yours truly all combined into one document.  You can get a PDF copy for US$9.00 off my Etsy page at this link.  Go on and get it; it’ll be a useful thing to get, what with the Feast of Saint Cyprian coming up on September 26!

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Of course, there are plenty of other prayers you can find to the good saint across the internet, and while I have them all copied down in my personal notes, I didn’t want to include them in the ebook, since…well, why should you have to pay for something you can find for free, and why should I profit off the creation of others without reason?  So, since I like sharing knowledge, here’s a list of links with prayers and other resources for the good saint that I’ve collected over the months:

Besides that, I highly recommend getting copies of Conjureman Ali’s Saint Cyprian: Saint of Necromancers and Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold’s Saint Cyprian & the Sorcerous Transmutation, both of which are available from Hadean Press for UK£3.00 and are fantastic resources for working with this good saint; Conjureman Ali’s book is a good worker’s introduction to setting up an altar and performing work with the saint, and Frisvold’s excellent exposition of Saint Cyprian concludes with a Quimbandero’s litany-esque prayer to Saint Cyprian.  Don’t forget the more expensive books that came out on Saint Cyprian earlier this year, too: Jake Stratton Kent’s excellent Testament of Saint Cyprian and José Leitão’s translation of the Book of Saint Cyprian are nothing to scoff at, and only add to the awesome corpus of literature on this saint.

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