Tag Archives: Alchemy

Abramelin Adventures: Alchemy


The third word square of Book IV, chapter 7 of the Book of Abramelin (Dehn), “To learn all sorts of alchemical arts from the spirits.”
Note that I have altered the sixth line from that given in Dehn, as explained below.

This post follows on thematically from Abramelin Musings: Square Dancing, which I wrote back in June, or as I call it, Day 53. In the previous post I suggested a method of how to verify the correct lettering of any given word-square, by skrying into it – an idea inspired by Aleister Crowley. I therefore decided to put my money where my mouth was, by actually trying this out myself, selecting the third square of chapter 7, book IV of the Book of Abramelin.

Chapter 7 is entitled “To have the spirits make alchemy work,” whilst the third word-square is described as “to learn all sorts of alchemical arts from the spirits.” The word-squares of this chapter are given by the Holy Guardian Angel and are under the presidency of Ashtoreth and Asmodi – it is also said that the works of this chapter can also be carried out by the serving spirits. I did not choose this word square arbitrarily or at random, neither did I do it out of curiosity. Instead I had an eye to my long-term magical career, thinking that improved knowledge of Alchemy could only be a good thing – it is the Great Work, after all!

Dehn gives this as IPOMANO, PAMERAM, ONALOMI, MELACAH, ARORAMI, NANAMON, OMIHINI.  Now it so happens that on the third day of Convoking the Dæmons – the day on which one conjures them specifically to empower the word-squares of “signs” as to which they are referred – it is implied that the signs may contain the name(s) of the spirits which rule them. “Aha!” I thought. “Surely if this square contains the name of a spirit, it would be one of those listed as being the servants of Ashtoreth and Asmodi?” However, consulting this list drew a blank – at least at first. However, I did notice that one of the spirits named was NAMALON – the upshot of my attempts at clairvoyance suggested that this should replace the sixth line of the word square (see the results at the top of this page).

Why however should the Royal Art be in the province of Demons at all? Why should such a noble science as Alchemy be associated with black magic? The answer, I believe, lies in achieving a full understanding of what’s going on with the Abramelin process. Attaining Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is all about sublimating supposedly evil forces to a good end. Thus the true Adept, having integrated the Demonic powers with his Holy Guardian Angel, sees Alchemy’s full spiritual potential as a means of attaining the loftiest goals of Hermeticism (and conversely: a true Alchemist who is firmly committed to the spiritual path is undoubtedly being led by angelic forces). The “puffer” however, meets the Demon of Alchemy without it being conjured to play nicely with one’s HGA, with the result that he misses its spiritual side and is seduced by the lure of materialism, seeking after ordinary gold instead of its Philosophical equivalent.

I hesitate to be dogmatic about my findings, and would encourage others not to take my word for it and investigate the word-squares to verify them for themselves. As to whether I myself have discovered all the secrets of Alchemy through this process – well I certainly can’t claim to have completed the great work by any means, although I do think the experience helped my understanding of internal alchemy, showing me how it fits in nicely with the writings of Sendivogius, Kirchweger, Paracelsus and, of course, the Emerald Tablet. Whether I am on the right track or not will be the subject of a future blog post, if I am still incarnated in a physical body by that time.

Thanks to my Holy Guardian Angel, my familiar spirits, Ashtoreth, Asmodeus and the spirit Namalon.

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Review: The Hermetic Science of Transmutation, by Giuliano Kremmerz

Giuliano Kremmerz (born Ciro Formisano, 1861; died (at least physically) 1930) was one of the most influential Italian Occultists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His writings have been translated into French and Spanish, but he remained largely unknown amongst Anglophone magicians as they were never translated into English – until now.

Giuliano Kremmerz, 1861 – 1930

“The Hermetic Science of Transformation: The Initiatic Path of Natural & Divine Magic,” was first written by Kremmerz in 1896, apparently in the hope that acquainting Italian readers with the power of the occult would lead to a new Renaissance of the mind. His reaction to the events of the subsequent twenty years betrays his bitterness that this did not happen. Anywho, the main points that Kremmerz makes, as I understand them, may be summarized thus:

  • The goal of the Magician is to Transform oneself into a God. But this is not the “become a living god” rhetoric that has blighted the credibility of modern occultism, for Kremmerz also stresses that the first duty of a magician after acquiring god-like power is to use it for the good of humanity in general, or one’s neighbour in particular.
  • Likewise, Kremmerz stresses continually that only Magicians who are pure in heart and intention can participate in the Divine Magic. Kremmerz’ morality is thus almost Christian in outlook, and he himself professes great admiration for the figure of Christ. But not so much for the Church, which he criticises for having lost the keys to magic, whilst yet clinging to meaningless dogma.
  • The key to this apotheosing is the Transmutation of the Sexual Force. However, far from entailing wild and reckless orgies, this actually entails careful conservation of the sex-force – even to the point where Kremmerz says that only absolute chastity can enable a participation in the Divine Magic. This results in Kremmerz’ sexual alchemy coming across as prudish compared to the smut of later authors such as Crowley, etc.
  • A consequence of actively attempting to make of oneself a God is that the Magician acquires the ability to perform works of Thaumaturgy.

Now that we have an actual work of Kremmerz in our hands, it is interesting to compare it with some of the lurid, and quite frankly disgusting, writings attributed to him which have been circulating on the internet and other places for several years (mostly in Italian), referred to variously as the Dossier Segreti or Corpus Totius Magiae.

In this “Hermetic Science…” book, Kremmerz speaks of his Myriam Fraternity, the aim of which is to perform works of Healing and purification.

Kremmerz does not however mention or even hint at the existence of the “Egyptian Order of Osiris,” which is the subject of the purported Corpus Totius Magiae.

I am reliably informed – by several different people – that the Corpus Totius Magiae is a hoax insofar as it claims to represent Kremmerz’ practices.[1] The present book, “Hermetic Science…” does however give an accurate flavour of the philosophy underpinning the Myriam work, without obviously giving away any of its secret rituals. Reading it myself, the difference in tone between “Hermetic Science…” and the Corpus Totius Magiae becomes one of sharp relief – as if no-one could believe they belong to the same organisation without epitomising the essence of DoubleThink. And yet, the most widely cited academic source, Hans Thomas Hakl in Hidden Eros,[2] seems to conflate Kremmerz’ own writings with the contents of the Corpus Totius Magiae uncritically.

(As an aside, it is within my personal knowledge that at least one Big-Name-Occultist has been duped by some passing salesman of magical charters into buying the Corpus Totius Magiae as The Ultimate Secrets of Magic. What bewildered me was not that he necessarily believed this to be the case, but that he paid good money for a document that had been floating around for free for several years on the internet. The moral of the story is – first learn to speak Italian, before buying something written in Italian).

In short, I would recommend this book purely on the basis that it forms a key link in our understanding the History of continental Occultism, and I look forward to more works by Kremmerz becoming available in English in the future.


[1] Whether or not the practices described therein are genuine at all, however, is another matter entirely.

[2] Hakl H T, Hanegraaf W J (ed.), Kripal JJ (ed.), 2008, “The Theory and Practice of Sexual Magic, Exemplified byFour Magical Groups in the Early Twentieth Century,” from “Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism,” Brill, Leiden / Boston.


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The Esoteric Significance of Notre Dame Cathedral

Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

Despite the terrible news from Paris, the conflagration that befell Notre Dame has now been extinguished and, while the roof and historic spire have collapsed, most of the stonework including the historic towers is still intact. This is highly important, from an esoteric point of view.

Notre-Dame Cathedral.
“The 850-year-old Gothic building’s spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, officials say.”
(BBC News)

Although the world has been experiencing a collective panic about the art-work inside the Cathedral, there is still an enormous amount of art built into the fabric of the building itself. Take for example the North and South towers (see above). Note how they resemble two great pillars standing at the entrance? They represent Boaz and Jachin, the two great pillars which stood at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple.

Internal floor plane of Notre-Dame Cathedral

Internal floor plane of Notre-Dame Cathedral

The ground plan of the interior follows a cruciform design, as is common in Christian churches. Moreover it is possible to overlay the Qabalistic Tree of Life over the design as well, such that the high altar represents the Supernal Triad; the Choir to Chesed and Geburah; the Transept to Tiphereth; the Nave to Netzach, Hod and Yesod; and the entrance to Malkuth.

… with Tree of Life superimposed.

Whilst the Tree of Life may be a latter interpolation, there can be little serious doubt that the masons who worked on the original structure did observe the principles of Sacred Architecture, in trying to incorporate the symbolism of both the Old and New Testament into the Cathedral – hence indicating the mysteries upon which Freemasonry is based.

The Mystery of the Cathedrals, by Fulcanelli

The best exposition of sacred architecture in regards to Gothic Cathedrals in general, and Notre Dame in particular, remains that of Fulcanelli. He introduces his theme by stating:

Above all there is nothing more captivating than the symbolism of the ancient alchemists, so ably translated by these modest medieval statues. In this connection Notre Dame of Paris, the Philosophers’ church, is indisputably one of the most perfect specimens and, as Victor Hugo said, “the most satisfying summary of the Hermetic science, of which the church of Saint-Jacques-la-Boucherie was such a complete hieroglyph.”

Mediaeval Alchemists would use Notre-Dame as a meeting place. Moreover, the design in inherently alchemical: its cruciform manner points out that the “Sign of the Cross” represents the preparation of the Stone (cf: the Transept – which “crosses” the Cathedral – effectively refers to the Gold of Tiphereth). The Rose window above the western door represents the wheel of time – the time necessary to concoct the stone. Moreover the main west door – the “Porte Du Jugement” – is elaborately decorated – superficially to represent the last Judgement, but on closer examination contains a plethora of Hermetic symbolism.

The Porte Du Jugement

Fulcanelli also points out Hermetic symbolism to be found elsewhere on the Cathedral’s exterior (e.g. the “Porte de Saint-Anne” to the right of the “Port de Jugement”). Curiously, the vast majority of the Alchemical symbolism is on the outside of the Cathedral, at the entrances: perhaps signifying that Alchemy is ultimately about purifying oneself, so that one is then worthy enough to enter into the Holy of Holies.

It is gratifying that within 24 hours of the incident millions of Euros have already been pledge to aid its restoration, as the sooner the building again becomes fit for worshippers – both exoteric and esoteric, the better.

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.


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What is your source of occult information? – Quora

Alex at home, studying.

(A2A) Donald Michael Kraig’s “Modern Magick” was my first serious book on practical occultism as well. It is an ideal book for beginners because (a) it contains a lot of suitable material to get you started; and more importantly (b) it also has an extensive bibliography which will clue you in as to where to go and what to read to pursue your studies further.

Other books I generally recommend:

(For beginners):

(More advanced):

(Even more advanced):

The Greek Magical Papyri In Translation” (H D Betz), “Transcendental Magic – its Dogma and Ritual” (Eliphas Levi), “Light on Yoga” (BKS Iyengar), other books by Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie, Crowley, S L MacGregor Mathers, primary texts on Adam McLean’s Alchemy website / Joseph H Peterson’s website, etc, etc, etc.

Source: Alex Sumner’s answer to What is your source of occult information? – Quora


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Alex Sumner’s answer to As someone interested in Alchemy, would you recommend any book? Why would you propose those book in particular? What did they taught you? – Quora

For a beginner, I would recommend “The Alchemist’s Handbook” by Frater Albertus. Although the spagyric work it describes is only introductory, it does do a good job of acquainting the student with the basic terminology.

Also, one should read up on Hermeticism. Freke & Gandy’s “The Hermetica” is an introduction, although I prefer GRS Mead’s edition of “Corpus Hermeticum.”

Splendor Solis

After one has read these, one is then ready to move on to the more advance stuff such as:

– all of which I would also recommend.

Source: Alex Sumner’s answer to As someone interested in Alchemy, would you recommend any book? Why would you propose those book in particular? What did they taught you? – Quora

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Alchemy and Reincarnation

Cover of 'Horror at Fontenay' by Alexandre Dumas, part of the The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult

Insert joke about cutting off the Caput Mortuum here…

In 1849, Alexandre Dumas père, he of ‘The Three Musketeers’ renown, came out with one of his lesser known works, ‘A Thousand and One Phantoms,’ at least part of which is now published in English as a slim volume entitled ‘Horror at Fontenay.‘ The original title hints at the nature of the work, in that it is a series of short stories, but unlike the Arabian Nights they are mostly macabre stories, skirting around the supernatural, focussing on Death. One gets the impression that in the same way that H P Lovecraft used his own horror stories to work through his dread – and survivor’s guilt – over World War I, Dumas is here using this collection to work through his own feelings as regards the Reign of Terror, which happened almost sixty years previously (or forty years before the story-collection is set).

Anywho, that is by-the-by. This slim volume had lain untouched on my bookshelf for some time, after I purchased it as part of a job-lot some years ago, when I was drawn, as if by some Occult Hand (i.e. my own) to pick it up. What most interested me was that one of the characters in the book – acting as one Dumas’ participants in the Symposium of Death thus presented – was the real-life occultist Jean Alliette, better known as ‘Etteila’ of Tarot fame. Alliette, the character, prefaces his own macabre tale by remarking to a fellow story-teller:

“My dear Moulle,” he exclaimed, “I have considerable venerations for your opinions and appreciate your story. In fact I accept it at its face value. But you seem to overlook completely the very important point that life is not destroyed by death, which merely disintegrates the human body. The personality remains; and ultimately death destroys only memory, that is all! If memory were not effaced life could become very complicated – for we should all remember every onve of our past lives, right from the beginning of time to the present day. Which probably explains why we feel animosity or love, on sight, for people we don’t know. It’s really a kind of unconscious recognition…

“The Philosopher’s Stone is another name for the secret of this memory – a secret uncovered by Pythagoras, centuries ago, and recently rediscovered by Saint-Germain and Cagliostro – not to mention myself, for I also hold possession of the key. But I am an unusual case; for though my bodies may die, as they have already done several times, each one exists for a much longer period that that of the average individual.”

This being a work of fiction, supposedly, one has to ask oneself how much of this is Dumas putting words into Aliette’s mouth, and how much what Aliette either did or would have spoken in real-life? One should bear in mind that this was written over a decade before Eliphas Levi began to popularise occultism in France: hence Dumas would have had to be very discerning as to his sources – if he were not an initiate himself.

But why, though, should being able to recall one’s past-lives be called the Philosopher’s Stone at all? Not because it turns lead into gold per se, but because of the other main property that it is reputed to have, that of creating the Elixir Vitae. By consciously experiencing Death, repeatedly – and coming to the realisation that the soul survives and continues regardless – one overcomes the fear of Death, and thus one experiences the ontological effect of Immortality – and hence the ‘Elixir of Life’ by metaphor.

Hence it creates Gold in the sense that what it does confer is a treasure more valuable than mundane riches – not just immortality whether pretended or not, but the beneficial character changes that knowing that death is not the end brings in the here and now.

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Oh God!

A magician without a religion is … just an evil paedophile who wears a dress to cover their crimes.

Nick Farrell

As anyone who has spent too much time in a pub on a Friday night will know, there is nothing more divisive a topic of conversation as Religion – except perhaps Politics. This must be the main reason why discussions on topics of Religion and Politics are banned in all Masonic lodges – because the lodge is meant to be a place of tolerance for people of all faiths and leanings.

Nevertheless, the topic of Religion has raised its ugly head in the Golden Dawn blogosphere this week – just in time for Ishtar, I might add – so I thought I would shove in my two pennyworth.

I am not going to criticise directly what other bloggers have written about the subject. Instead I shall just point out something that no-one has yet considered. The writers of the original GD rituals were Rosicrucians – more specifically, they were members of the SRIA. In one of the rituals of the SRIA, there is the following quote:

[Alchemists] used the language of their physical work to communicate spiritual teaching which at that time had to be kept secret to avoid persecution by the official Church. And many medieval Alchemists whose writings are still extant appear to have been mainly, if not entirely, concerned with this spiritual aspect of the work.

This higher Alchemy can thus be regarded as almost identical with Religion as distinct from Theology. The function of Religion, like the great work of the Alchemist, is the “separation of the subtle from the gross,” the redemption of the spirit, while still dwelling in matter, from the taint inevitable on the lowest planes of manifestation.

(Emphasis added)

Hence: when the Golden Dawn talks about “religion,” it is reasonable to suppose that what is meant is what Westcott, Mathers and Woodman – and their contemporaries -would have understood by the term, i.e. the pure concept of Religion liberated from dogmatic theology, or the true Internal Alchemy.

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The Rosicrucians and the Alchemists: by Florence Farr

Originally published in The Occult Review, 1908, v7 May p259.

Florence Farr


A LEGEND arose in the time of the Lutheran outburst of a mysterious master called Christian Rosenkreutz, who was buried for a period of all years in the central cavern of the earth. His shrine was seven-sided, and all the symbols of the universe were said to have been found disposed round him in this place. The Egyptian tradition of Seker, the god in the central cavern of the Duat, evidently found an echo in the heart of the inventor of this legendary father 01 mysteries, and it will be interesting to try and discern the meanings of the main symbols of the Rosenkreutz legends in Egypt and in Germany.

The Egyptian Duat, or Underworld, was represented by a five-foldstar, or star of five radiations, enlarging as they receded from the centre, and therefore not bearing the same symbolism as the pentagram. The Rose is fivefold in its structure and is a well-known symbol of silence. The stages of its existence pass from the bud, or potential state of pralaya, to the unfolding of its leaves as the pleroma, or fulness or manifestation of creative power. Consciousness, thought, reasoning, will, and the sense of individuality are five of its powers; the five senses are other manifestations of the same symbol. When the pollen of a flower is ripe the creative work begins, the petals fall and the fruit and seed are formed. The processes of life are a rhythmic coiling and uncoiling; a radiation and attraction, and an emanation or separation. The fruit coils round the seeds, the juices pass to and fro, and finally the busk of the fruit bursts and the seeds fall out separately as emanations, each complete in itself.

So in the degrees of human enlightenment the purest state is Being so unified and perfect that the kind of consciousness that depends upon comparison cannot exist. The second state is the sense of being without bounds, which is often called wisdom. The third state is discernment, or understanding, and may be attained by concentration of the subjective mind upon an object until full understanding is attained. And these states of the unmanifest consciousness arc called Sat-Chit-Ananda in the Vedantic philosophy and Ain-Soph-Aur in the Kabalistic philosophy; and Ptah-Seker-Osiris was the concrete image of these ideas ill Egypt.

Now the Rose of the Rosicrucians was a more complicated symbol than the Cup. As we have seen the Cup was a symbol of creation, and its form was connected with the symbol of a circle in contrast to the Cross. The symbol of the Rose contains five petals and five divisions of the calyx. It is evidently the symbol of creation in activity, not in potentiality only. Perhaps we may believe the Rose to be a symbol of the subtle body of man, which is one with nature, and the Cross the symbol of the body and the name of word of man. The union of the Rose and Cross would symbolize a man able to unite himself to the great powers of Nature, or tatwas, familiar to us under their Hindoo names Akasa, Vayu, Tejas, Apas and Prithivi, or the kingdoms of sound, sensation, perception. absorption and reproduction more commonly called hearing, touching, seeing, eating and generating.

Now the notion of obtaining the natural powers of an adept is most apparent in the traditions that come through Egypt and Chaldea, and the idea of the super-essential state in contrast to power is most apparent in the Oriental traditions. The high caste Oriental has the aristocratic spirit that conceives the height of life on this world to consist in the delicacy of perception associated with perfect self-satisfaction, while the democratic spirit of the West cannot conceive itself without desires, struggles and potencies for gratifying desires : democracy wishes to do and to have; aristocracy is sufficient unto itself.

Rosicrucianism and Alchemy are both allegories constructed by these working democratic minds, and in the alchemical symbolism we can trace the exact degrees of initiation through which the man, still under the great race delusion of progress, must pass before he realizes that his real self is the same yesterday, to-day and forever.

It is true in a sense that this treasure of all sages, this knowledge of Being which all mystics seek, forms itself vehicles in time and space in which it carries out the imaginations which spring from the relative side of absolute consciousness, and it is interesting to trace the different degrees of attainment.

Alchemical symbolism is mainly the symbolism of distillation.

To take a simple process, let us imagine that we desire to obtain the white and the red tinctures from honey. The alchemist would put the honey in the cucurbite of an alembic. Placing it over a gentle heat be would drive the essential part of the spirit into the bead or beak of the alembic, whence it would pass as steam into the neck of the receiver end become liquid once more as it cooled. This liquid was the white tincture, or spirit of honey mixed with water. This is the symbol of that concentration and meditation whereby the mind of man becomes subtilized and fit to perceive philosophical impressions. The white tincture is the symbol of light and wisdom.

But to obtain the red tincture of power a far more complicated process had to be performed. It consisted mainly of pouring back the distilled spirit upon the black dead-head that had been left as residue in the cucurbite and by the exercise of great care and the addition of certain matters acting upon the mixture in such a way that finally the whole of the original matter .was distilled and no black dead-bead remained and a wonderful red tincture was the result of the transmutation of the black nature.

This symbolical process involves the passing through definite stages of progress in the world of changing life. Let us imagine it carried out to its logical conclusion upon our own earth. We know that the mineral kingdom is the state in which form lasts for infinite ages and can stand great heat and cold without destruction. We know that the giants of the vegetable kingdom last many hundreds of years, but although the process of their growth and decay it prolonged they are not capable of resisting fire or of existing in the frozen zone. We know that certain animals, such as elephants, tortoises and parrots, live for very long periods of time. All these creatures have greater tenacity of existence in the forms or vehicles of life than the human creature.

It is also plain that as the earth becomes more and more subject to violent change, when the great floods and the ice and the burnings visit it, in its old age conscious life must exist in more enduring but 1ess complex, sensitive, visible forms than it does at present. Now consciousness of Being is the name we give to the white tincture which the adept distils from his human form in the alembic of the mind. It is brought about by the fire of imagined emotion and devotion under the stress of intense concentration. To focus thought has the same effect as to focus sunlight. It becomes & force analogous to heat. It is, in a word, emotion evoked by the skill of the sage. In this fire the Adept raises his consciousness until it is separate from the gross body, and no longer aware of the objective world. Passing through the gate of dreams it enters the subjective world and lives in its own brightness. Here it learns that it can create infinite visions and glories, and here the saints rejoice, each in his own heaven. Here finally the sage perceives his own divinity and is united to his God. This is the white initiation in the eyes of the Rosicrucian doctors, and according to the scriptures of the alchemists the sage has gained the white tincture. The objective world only remains in his consciousness as blackness and ignorance and death. In his divine nature he seeks to redeem the dark world, to draw it up into the divine nature and make it perfect. His vision can now show him a world in which man can no longer exist in material human form. His own desire for wisdom has drawn up the human element out of the visible or objective state. He is no longer merely a man in a human body because his subtle body has possessed itself of the characteristic human faculty of self-conscious comparison, the origin of wit, laughter and criticism.

The humanity that is beyond animal consciousness has the power of acting and knowing at the same moment; it can seem one thing and know at the same time that it is another. It is not a noble quality; it is nothing more than the power of laughing at ourselves: and yet it is the great redeeming quality, for it is the germ of all wisdom and enlightenment.

The ordinary dreamer lives in his subtle body as the fool of his own fancy, and the dream shows how little human wisdom his subtle body has obtained: but the subtle body of an adept can perceive the illusionary formulation of panoramas of light and form arising from the half-seized impression of light falling at a certain angle across the red edge of a blanket and the linen of a sheet just as he closes his eyes. The dream of the sage is a consciously guided dream. Like an author, he writes his own dramas and delights in the joys and tragedies of his creation, He no longer suffers from the attacks and sorrows that his own mind creates, but observes them with excitement and interest. He watches his own tears and cuts into the heart of his own emotions.

These are some of the experiences of the sage who has transferred the human principle from the body of matter to the subtle body.

The material body may in this stage of enlightenment be considered as a beautiful and healthy animal; it carries on the physical functions in temperate ways, unaccompanied by the fantastic imaginations of a human being. And there is little doubt that the bull of Apis was considered to take the place of the body of the adept Osiris in this way. The body of a sacred animal would answer every purpose for the divine man whose invisible body bad attained some degree of complex, conscious life. The nervous forces of the animal world act as the physical basis for the dream-powers of the subtilized or deified man.

In China the flying dragon, the mythical combination of all kinds of animal life, represents the body of the deified man that can command all the elemental states of matter that can exist in the air, the fire, the earth and the water. The dragon is the symbol of the material body of the being who has complete command of the elemental world and afterwards becomes the subtle body in the further stage of being of which we are told in Druid tradition.

When the earth grows older and complex animal forms such as flying-fish and sea-serpents and monstrous alligators, can no longer exist, another symbol must be taken from the writings of the Rosicrucian doctors and the alchemists, and we enter upon the study of the Tree of Life. He who eats of the fruit of the Tree of Life will become one with the Elohim, or creative gods, and will live for infinite ages.

Imagine the world enveloped in a great white cloud, moist and warm like a hot-house ; giant palms and ferns and mosses dripping with moisture: a climate like that of the Cocoa-palm Islands off the west coast of Africa, where animals and men can only live a little time. In this world the adept would use some marvelous tree as the physical basis of his life: and his subtle body would have drawn up into itself all the forces of motion that make a tree less powerful to our minds than an animal. The subtle body in this state would have become a veritable dragon of complex forces. It would have drawn into itself the mixed sphinx-natures of the birds and the fish, the creeping things and the four-footed creatures. The dryad of each tree would be a mighty Druid; the great Pendragon would have his oak as a physical form and would exercise his power in reality as we can imagine the ancient Druid sages exercised theirs in imagination.

This state of the subtle body may perhaps have been symbolized by the Green Dragon of the alchemists, but the Red Dragon arose after still further distillation.

Now we have to imagine a world all fire and molten glory of flame, in which. no tree or flower could exist: a world in which wonderful agate trees would circle the white crystals of their pith with bands of violet and hyacinth and blue melting into stretches of pale chalcedony and shrouded in dark crystal bark, their branches glimmering with emerald leaves: a world in which mineral life has learned at last to show itself in perfect form, where light and fire glowed alternately and played with elemental shapes and images of beauty. And so, at last, we come to the last symbol of the alchemists – the symbol of the final perfection, the Summum Bonum, the Philosopher’s Stone.

Let us imagine what that state would mean for the adept : his gross body a pure ruby, a perfect crystalline form with all the powers of growth, of nourishment, of reproduction drawn from the vegetable kingdom into his subtle body, carried on without disgust or satiety through the beautiful mediums of fiery blossoms and shining leaves ; his subtle body almost visible as a light shining in the fiery world; his children flowers of flame and his physical form an everlasting memory of beauty; his mind an all-pervading consciousness in which blossoming imaginations arose or subsided under the law of his will: a perception unified with a faculty that ordered joy to succeed sorrow and sorrow to succeed joy because he knew that one cannot manifest without the other. A supreme artist, he would rejoice in creation; a supreme critic, he would rejoice in contrast.

So the red tincture would be attained and the black, the white and the red worlds explored and analysed in the imagination of the Rosicrucians and alchemists of the Middle Ages.

We still see the same desire for progress among those who strive for the ancient stone here in this western democratic world of men who desire “to have” and “to do.” But these circles of everlasting recurrence so dear to Friedrich Nietzche are not what he called them. They are not aristocratic.

The aristocracy of mind is shown in the philosophy of Villiers de I’Isle Adam, who cried; “As for living, our servants can do that for us.” It is the feeling of the great Buddhist intellect who sees that in the words “I am not” there is a wonder and a vision and song far exceeding the mere ideas of limited ecstasy and knowledge concealed in the words “I am.”


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Czechs trust in the occult – PRAGUE POST | The Voice of Prague

Flag of the Czech Republic

Flag of the Czech Republic

Today I have added the Czech Republic to the Alex Sumner list of favourite foreign countries, based on the fact that so many of the local population believe in the occult arts in one form or another. Only someone who is completely cynical would suggest that this is a crass-marketing attempt by myself to find people who are willing to pay for my services as a magician! Incidentally, the other countries on this list include Italy and of course Norway.

Regarding the Czech Republic, a newspaper report (see link at the end of this post) says:

Surveys have shown that the people who neither claim adherence to a religion nor do they trust traditional church dogmas tend to incline to alternative faith, also in the form of occult arts, spirits, horoscopes, prophecies and healers.

That occultism should be so strong in the Czech Republic should come as no surprise to those who follow the history of magic: in the late 16th / early 17th century, Prague was the ruling seat of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, who was an avid fan of Alchemy, and invited many occultists to his court (e.g. John Dee, Michael Maier, etc). To this day, there is still an abundance of art and architecture in Prague, dating from Rudolf’s reign, which clearly bears alchemical and mystical symbolism. I have been receiving suggestions from various parts of the universe to actually go there, so it might actually happen later this year.

See: Czechs trust in the occult – PRAGUE POST | The Voice of Prague.

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The Placing of the Elements In A Golden Dawn Temple

This is a follow up post to The Elements and the Four Cardinal Directions by Aaron Leitch. The question naturally arises – why are they where they are? And: should they ever be changed?

As to the first, there are actually several plausible reasons. The first is that the stated reason in GD documents is that they are placed according to “the winds.” As I understand it this refers to Tetrabiblos, a second century work on Astrology by Claudius Ptolemy, thus:

East Dry Spring Air
South Warm Summer Fire
West Moist Autumn Water
North Cold Winter Earth

Whilst Ptolemaic Astrology is thus the proximate cause of the placing, it does enable several layers of symbolism to be interpolated into a temple arranged in this manner.


Now, I have actually seen some exponents of Alchemy claim that Fire is the most volatile of all the elements. However, when learned Alchemy, I learnt differently – that Air is the most volatile. Trying to figure out why these differences occur, I came to the conclusion that those in the Fire camp were taking their cues from Jean Dubuis, of the Philosophers of Nature, whilst the chap from whom I learnt Alchemy was instead inspired by Frater Albertus, of the Paracelsus Research Society.

After the Chaos has been prepared, the elements are separated from it in the order of Most Volatile (requiring only a very gentle heat), Second Most Volatile (requiring a slightly more vigorous heat), Third most Volatile / second most Fixed (requiring a fairly robust heat), and finally Most Fixed (requiring the fiercest heat of all). The Order out of Chaos, as I learnt the elements is

First, Air, the Subtle part of which becomes the Mercury;
Second, Fire, Sulphur;
Third, Water, Salt; and finally

Hence, in this manner, starting from the East and circumambulating Deosil, one encounters the elements in the order they come out of chaos, from most volatile to most fixed.

Adonai vs Jehovah

Pentagram (approximately) drawn on the belt of the Zodiac.

Pentagram (approximately) drawn on the belt of the Zodiac.

The “Fire-first” school however do not rest there: taking the Air and Fire flipped around, they apply the order of the elements to the Tetragrammaton, hence: Fire, Air, Water and Earth = Yod Heh Vah Heh. This is in contrast to the GD view of the matter, which holds that the Tetragrammaton is based on Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

I believe the confusion arises because the Fire-first fail to consider the following point:

The YHVH formula is based on Astrology, and is reflected in the Hexagram Ritual, the placing of the Elements on the altar in the Vault of the Adepti, and the order in which you would see the Cardinal signs rise above the Horizon if you got up at dawn on the Spring Equinox: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn – Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. The YHVH formula (actually the Yeheshuah Formula) is also the reason the for the assignment of the elements to the particular points of the Pentagram.

The placement of the elements in the Outer order of the GD, however, is not based on the YHVH formula but on the ADNI (“Adonai”) formula – which is identical to that of the Four Winds of Ptolemy. What what what? There’s an Adonai-formula, I hallucinate that I hear you ask? Well, yes, actually. There are twenty four  combinations of Aleph, Daleth, Nun and Yod, which each refer to one of the 24 seniors of the Book of the Apocalypse. The Adonai Formula is not generally known amongst English-speaking occultists as it comes from continental Europe. This is what Macgregor Mathers referred to when he mentioned the significance of “ADONAI” in his paper on the magical formulae of the Zelator grade (see: Pat Zalewski’s Inner Order Teachings of the Golden Dawn).

The late Robert Ambelain mentioned it in his book Practical Kabbalah, until his publishers decided to force the translator to take the English edition off-line. Hence I cannot in any good conscience encourage you to search for it online, despite the fact you may feel curious to do so.

Embedded commands aside, the applicability of the Adonai formula to the placing of the elements is thus:

ALEPH Elemental AIR East
DALETH Venus, a planet associated (according to Eliphas Levi, amongst others) with FIRE South
NUN Fixed WATER West
YOD Mutable EARTH North

The Fire-First school of thought thus tries to bang their own placement of the elements into the YHVH formula like a Hollywood film producer trying to bang the wrong actor into the role of Batman: everyone know it does not fit, and it will only upset people. However – by removing the assumption that one necessarily has to work with the YHVH formula in all circumstances, and by learning that there are other Qabalistic formulae which are better suited to the task, a much more elegant solution is provided.


The Human Aura


Just as an aside, I would like to point out that at this point that the order Air – Fire – Water – Earth, is also the order of the elements as they are attributed to the four lower Chakras in Yoga: Air – Anahata (Heart); Fire – Manipura (Solar Plexus); Water – Svadisthana (Groin); and Earth – Muladhara (Base). Hence one is working the Pentagram ritual one can be said to be opening the four lower Chakra, in succession.

Should the Order of the Elements Ever Be Changed?


In Golden Dawn ceremonies we get to travel through time and space, and across dimensions!

Sometimes I hear people opine that when casting the four quarters, the elements should be changed to fit local circumstances – for instance, a number of people who live in the Southern Hemisphere think that Fire and Earth should be flipped around, to match the course of the Sun as seen from their perspective.

Now, what various pagans choose to do in their own traditions is up to them: but what about the Golden Dawn? Should the placing of the elements be changed in a Golden Dawn temple working in the southern hemisphere?

In my opinion, there can only be one answer – a categoric NO. And I say so for the following reasons:

A Golden Dawn temple physically located in England or America, is not operating in England or America;

A Golden Dawn temple in (e.g.) Australia, is not operating in Australia.

Both of them, despite being on opposite sides of the world, are actually operating in one and the same place. The magical inner-workings of the Golden Dawn ceremonies take the Temple, and astrally transport it through Time and Space and across dimensions – to the Hall of the Duat, in the Egyptian otherworld.

Hence, the correct placing of the elements should neither be for the Northern Hemisphere, if your temple is in the Northern Hemisphere, nor for the Southern Hemisphere if it is physically located there, but for how the elements would be placed in the Hall of Judgement in the Egyptian otherworld. And according to the GD tradition, that is: Air, East; Fire, South; Water, West; Earth, North.


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