Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Note: The following comments have been compiled from a recent Temple discussion about creating and working with god-forms.
Theurgic images – an alternative term for what the Golden Dawn called god-forms – offer a simple and vitally important tool for magick. Use of these images trains our ability to visualise, and to maintain the imagery; it incidentally aids us in absorbing the colour-system of the Tree of Life; and it also gives us a means of appreciating the nature of the archetypes we’re using.
The Golden Dawn system worked, in its main ceremonies, with Ancient Egyptian god-forms. Its Adepts did some re-inventing of Egyptian mythology, according to the understanding of their times. This was 70 years after the first real translation of the original texts, when matters were heavily influenced by studies of what the classical Greeks and a few Romans had said it was all about. Today we grasp a lot of more about how the Egyptian system – or systems, rather – worked, and modern Egyptian-based magick is more developed than in the original G.D. 1890s version. Also, those early Adepti made use of their order’s colour system, which was vastly more elaborate than the colour palette available to the ancient temple decorators. Late 19th Century chemistry invented a range of pigments that had never been available previously, especially shades of red, purple and violet. Despite the elaborations, they managed to zero in on some of the primary characteristics of the numerous deities of the Nile Valley, and even tuned into aspects of their dynamics that weren’t well appreciated by orthodox scholars until decades after. Magicians were less nervous about fertility cults or ferocious deities than mainstream Victorian and Edwardian scholars trying to square what they were discovering with their own social conditioning and private sensibilities.
A word here about that term ‘ archetype’. It’s ancient Greek, and dates back to Plato and his followers. It came into use again in the 20th Century with Jung and his school of Analytical Psychology, but referring more to a deep-rooted visual pattern than to a primal idea or dynamic concept, the way it was used originally. We need to keep this in mind, because we find the word employed in both senses: we speak of the archetypal nature of Atziluth, the World of Origins, without meaning anything visual; yet we’re often working, in a practical sense, with something closer to what Jung intended.
Jung, I suggest, further confused things by not clearly grasping how to regulate the imagery he was pulling out of the unconscious, or having a clear conception of banishing other than resolute use of his mundane will – something that didn’t always work well. The man was a little crazy for several years after he got into all this. The Red Book, his illustrated record of his interior process that came out a few years ago in a large-format edition, shows he was often way out there a century ago, with no direction home. His work at that time period could be seen as an object lesson in bad magical hygiene, however essential the journey’s roughness was to his eventual growth.
Anyway, to summarise to this point: a theurgic image can be a god-form, or an archangelic form, or even a geometrical shapes. It’s a visual pattern we pull over our aura like an astral robe. Do remember that your aura stretches beyond your body, up to one or two feet, and above and below it by the same amount. Thus, if you’re working with an Archangel, your image of it is going to be around eight feet tall, maybe more. You can allow the Archangel to guide you: I’ve been in workings where I was conscious of 10-foot images moving around the temple as experienced ceremonialists did their work. The whole point, after all, is to expand consciousness and magical power beyond what we can do with our conscious imaginations, and Archangels, like gods, inhabit a space that isn’t bounded by walls and ceilings. They’re also more practical to use than deities, since an image that puts us in touch with a god means that we have to sustain its source-energy in our working. As a result, we easily ‘slip back down’ into the astral World of Yetzirah, the World of Formation, where the imagery itself is formed. The result might be more tangible or sensible than if the image had remained rooted in a higher World, but the alchemical transformation we’re after if we’re serious about it all is going to remain elusive. Archangels, from the calmer, oceanic World of Briah, are easier to connect with, assuming the ritual allows their use.
If we’re working with lamens, talismans or other regalia, it should ideally be the image that appears to be putting them on as we prepare. The process requires a kind of mutual flowing – allow the being to manifest around us while we feel its energy and character and take note of its appearance and special attributes.
Wings have represented spirituality for millennia in all western traditions, Islam included. They indicate an ability to rise through the Worlds, close to the Throne of the Highest. Archangelic wings are almost always white, forming elliptical curves at the joint above and behind the shoulders. They outline the divine being’s own aura. Some figures, such as versions of Baphomet, have dark wings, but the intent is still the same.
Still, ours is a tradition based on colour and its significances. It’s a key part of Hermetic symbol-language. To cite a couple of examples, the Archangel Raziel’s robe is a grey actually made up of tiny shimmering dots of primary colour, the whole thing indicating a high level of energy. Tzaphqiel’s deep indigo robe, coming close to black, with its almost hallucinatory orange glimmerings, indicates depth, and the slowness of the things of Saturn, offset by a flashing (i.e., complementary) solar orange that speaks of the Mother of the Sun, as well as of the path of Zayin. And so on.
Continued in the subsequent post …