You are able to discover new and hidden depths to the whole Golden Dawn system by periodically re-reading the classic texts, written by Mathers et al., and by paying close attention to the parts you might have skipped over the first time around. Even I manage to surprise myself from time to time, such that if ever I start to feel jaded, I find myself re-invigorated by going back to the books and putting into practice what the creators of the system originally intended.
Recently, for example, I was revising the section of Z-3 “The Enterer of the Threshold,” viz. “The Symbolism of the Admission of the Candidate,” and I became convinced that Macgregor Mathers had done something far cleverer than I first appreciated: he had come up with a system of Qabalistic Qigong, long before the concept of Qigong (or “Chi Kung” to use the old spelling) had become widely known in the West (which arguably was only as recent as 1972). In particular I mean the three formulae of magical vibration derived from the opening of the Neophyte ceremony, namely: the Formula of Aspiration; the Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar; and the Formula of the Four-fold Revolution of the Breath.
The Microcosmic Tree of Life.
© Alex Sumner 2017
The Formula of Aspiration
In the Neophyte Adeptus Minor document “The Enterer of the Threshold,” in the part entitled “The Symbolism of the Opening of the 0=0 Grade of Neophyte,” Macgregor Mathers describes the magical currents at work at the very beginning of the ceremony, when the Hierophant addresses the Temple for the first time. He then goes on to comment:
The whole is a rehearsal of the properties of the reflection of the Element Air down through the Middle Pillar of the Sephiroth, representing the reflection of the Air from Kether, through Tiphareth to Yesod, and even to the Citrine part of Malkuth. For the subtle Aether is, in Kether, inspired from the Divine Light beyond; thence reflected into Tiphareth, wherein it is combined with the Reflexes from the Alchemical Principles in that great Receptacle of the Forces of the Tree. In Yesod, it affirms the foundation of a formula and from Malkuth it is breathed forth or reflected back.
And this formula the Adept can use. Standing in his Sphere of Sensation he can, by his knowledge of the Sacred Rites, raise himself unto the contemplation of Yechidah and from thence aspire (in the sense of Adspire, i.e. to attract towards you in breathing) downwards into himself the Lower Genius as though temporarily to inhabit himself as its Temple.
Regardie, I, 1989, The Golden Dawn, 6th edition, Llewellyn, St Pauls Minnesota, p345.
In practice, this is really what I would consider regular vibration, although the point that Mathers is making is that one should take a moment to contemplate that one is invoking the divine name in question as a manifestation of genius from the Yechidah (i.e. the microcosmic Kether).
The Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar
Straight after the preceding passage which I quoted above, Mathers goes on to say:
Another formula of Vibration is here hidden. Let the Adept, standing upright, his arms stretched out in the form of a Calvary Cross, vibrate a Divine Name, bringing with the formulation thereof a deep inspiration into his lungs. Let him retain the breath, mentally pronouncing the Name in his Heart, so as to combine it with the forces he desires to awake thereby; thence sending it downwards through his body past Yesod, but not resting there, but taking his physical life for a material basis, send it on into his feet. There he shall again momentarily formulate the Name – then, bringing it rushing upwards into the lungs, thence shall he breathe it forth strongly, while vibrating that Divine Name. He will send his breath steadily forward into the Universe so as to awake the corresponding forces of the Name in the Outer World. Standing with arms out in the form of a Cross, when the breath has been imaginatively sent to the feet and back, bring the arms forward in “The Sign of the Enterer” while vibrating the Name out into the Universe. On completing this, make the “Sign of Silence” and remain still, contemplating the Force you have invoked.
This is the secret traditional mode of pronouncing the Divine Names by vibration, but let the Adept beware that he applies it only to the Divine Names of the Gods. If he does this thing ignorantly in working with Elemental or Demonic Names, he may bring into himself terrible forces of Evil and Obsession. The Method described is called “The Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar.”
Thus, to summarise: if one were to vibrate, e.g. “Eheieh,” one would
- Stand in the form of a cross;
- Contemplate link to Kether (Yechidah);
- (Mentally) vibrate “Eheieh.” In effect one has started off with the “Formula of Aspiration,” but one is now adding to it.
- Draw the invoked force into one’s heart and mentally formulate there “Eheieh” whilst contemplating what it represents and what you are trying to invoke (i.e. in this instance, the spiritual properties of Kether);
- Send the current down, via Yesod, to Malkuth (i.e. the feet). Formulate “Eheieh” in Malkuth, imagining that you are using your whole physical being to manifest those spiritual forces.
- Now imagine the current springing back up, rising up to your head.
- Forcefully project it out with the Sign of the Enterer, vibrating it loudly, so that it manifests in the Universe.
- Finally, make the Sign of Silence, to seal off your aura.
Thus there are three distinct points at which one contemplates the force in question: the head (Kether), the heart (Tiphereth) and the feet (Malkuth), with Yesod here figuring as a stage in the downward and upward journey. It is here that we begin to see the similarity with Qigong, in that it is a combination of breathwork, visualisation and movement. Obviously it is not literally identical to any Chinese method, being based on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. I find it helpful here to pause a brief moment – though not too long – at each point, head, heart, and feet, to really feel the energies involved.
Crowley in Liber O describes vibrating the divine names in the LBRP with the Signs of the Enterer and of Silence. It seems clear to me that he probably had the Vibratory Formula of the Middle Pillar in mind, although in describing it cursorily he misses out on the full subtleties contained in Mathers’ original description.
The Four-fold revolution of the Breath
The third magical formula derived from the opening of Neophyte ceremony relates to the currents of energy which are formed during the Mystic Circumambulation. Mathers writes:
The Mystic Circumambulation is called symbolic of the Rise of Light and from it drawn another formula for the circulation of the breath. It is the formula of the Four Revolutions of the Breath (not, of course, of the actual air inspired, but of the subtle Aethers which may be drawn thence and of which it is the Vehicle – the aethers which awaken centres in the subtle body through the formula). This formula should be preceded by that of the Middle Pillar, described previously. By this method, having invoked the Power you wish to awaken in yourself, and contemplated it, begin its circumambulation thus: Fill the lungs and imagine the Name vibrating in the contained Air. Imagine this vibration going down the left leg to the sole of the left foot – thence passing over to the sole of the right foot – up the right leg to the lungs again, where it is out-breathed. Do this four times to the rhythm of the Four-fold breath.
By saying that “this formula should be preceded by that of the Middle Pillar” it is evident that the three formulae of vibration are cumulative – the Four Revolutions of the Breath incorporates both of the preceding methods.
Speaking personally, I find that invoking a divine name by all three methods together is very powerful – the least one can expect is to feel incredibly energised by doing so. I remember once doing the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram, using all three formulae to vibrate the appropriate Name in each quarter. Because I was necessarily observing more care over each one, the LBRP ended up taking around ten minutes longer than it had done previously, but by the end of it I was fairly floating in space! The three formulae, combined, are a powerful means for invoking Divine names generally – each time leaving one buzzing with energy, and hence filling one with confidence that one is psychically contacting the forces invoked, and working good ritual.