Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
The further the aspirant goes into the Great Work, the more individualised it becomes. It’s possible to offer universally valid statements about the experience of Malkuth and Yesod, but Hod and Netzach provide greater challenges. This pattern increases as one moves up the Tree of Life, which is one reason why Second Order members (those working Tiphereth and above) have greater latitude in their assigned work than First Order members. The choice of approach has to be dictated from within after a certain stage.
This also helps explains why the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn didn’t have ceremonies and gradework for Geburah and Chesed: it was difficult to produce something broad enough in application to apply to those who went that far. Ceremonies were produced, from Whare Ra in New Zealand, and the other successor orders to the HOGD, but only after a significant number of Adepti had arisen, and had stuck with their aspirations long enough for the necessary collective understanding to evolve. And until Crowley began writing about the grade of Magister Templi, it was impossible to say much of anything about that, other than resorting to the writings of rare mystics who had experienced the Abyss, and had touched its Far Side.
That said, the pattern of the sephiroth is still a valid one, and the works of the old Rabbis that have come down to us were not just hopeful guesses. The lineaments of human spiritual development have a certain consistency. The main complication in the lowest triangle of the Tree is that Hod, like Netzach opposite it, is off on the Pillar of Severity, and each of us has our own biases and abilities that emerge more strongly on the side-pillars. The experience of the different Visions in these sephiroth can therefore be highly individual.
Hod’s spiritual Vision is that of Splendour, the usual translation of the Hebrew name ‘Hod.’ The Vice here is falsehood or dishonesty, and the Virtue, unsurprisingly, is truthfulness. Hod is often said to relate to intellect (as opposed to emotion in Netzach), but this is an oversimplification. It’s better to describe it as embodying ideation and conceptualisation. It’s the sephirah of appreciable specifics.
In the encyclopedic 777, Crowley adds, after the descriptive phrase of the Vision, the name Ezekiel in brackets. He is clearly saying Ezekiel’s vision as recorded in his book of the Bible is the prototype of what the aspirant working in Hod can expect. This vision seems to have been of strong significance to Crowley, and Chapter One of Ezekiel forms the basis of the imagery in the Chariot card of the Thoth Tarot deck.
But for people less imbued with Biblical scholarship, the actual Vision might well be different, even if there should still be the sense of vast power and light Ezekiel experienced. It’s another version, if you like, of the Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel that was encountered in Malkuth, yet brighter, grander or vaster.
My personal encounter with the Vision opened up spontaneously one morning. I found myself looking down a vast timeline back to the Middle Ages and beyond, throughout which I had been an initiate of some school or other. This happened while I was at work, which was amazingly inconvenient, since I immediately wanted to go back into it, but could hardly sit in my cubicle gazing through down the ages. Open-plan offices don’t offer optimal circumstances for meditation.
I was of course miserable for the rest of the day, as the vision was far more interesting and intense for me than my job.
Hod, in Hermetic Qabalah, is a sephirah of alchemical Water, and thus has an affinity with Time. Rather, then, than having a glimpse of the grandeur of heaven, as Ezekiel had repeatedly, I was given an image of either (a) my past incarnations, or (b) the reality of how we are all formed by a vast accumulation of ancestry, genetics, and the richness of culture that underlies our present existence. My deep-rooted attitudes leave me more impressed with great antiquity than something having immense spatial dimensions, so this was how my psyche presented the Vision of Hod.
I’ve often tried to re-visit the vision. Sadly, to date it has proved a one-off event. But while I worked diligently on the required exercises for my time in that degree of our system, I did feel I’d been rewarded with an experience that was well beyond the apparent scope of the specific work I had to complete. As noted above, nobody’s Vision can be taken as typical, but perhaps my own indicates some of the possibilities for other people.
Love is the law, love under will,