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Memorizing 777 correspondences?


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#41 Imperial Arts

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:33 AM

R. Eugene Laughlin said:


Now, the neurocognitive model I've sketched predicts that the better ones semantic networks mirror the dynamics of the world in which the magician operates, the more effective priming events (magical workings) will be at preparing the magician to detect ongoing goal-relevant dynamics and to respond to them in goal-facilitating ways.

given the way the table was likely constructed, should the correspondences given in the table reflect the world in which you (by which I mean any reader, but I think the only meaningful answers have to come from a personal perspective) operate?

To answer the original question: NO. You don't need to memorize 777. You will probably end up memorizing large portions of it out of habit, eventually, but memorization of the tables is not important.

Suggestion: Draw a blank Tree of Life and photocopy it several dozen times. Copy the 777 Tables (or the ones you find interesting) into the blank spaces. Save them all in document protectors in a 3-ring binder and preserve it for future reference. I find that writing things out by hand makes remembering them easier.

The "way the table was likely constructed" involves Crowley, Allan Bennett, and probably a few other people trying to stuff the available mythic/esoteric systems into a Tree of Life scheme so that it would conveniently fit the Golden Dawn pattern. It is a Magical Alphabet from which we must attempt to establish a vocabulary.

The tables have just about nothing to do with reality or the way things actually work, nor is it necessary that they do so. It would be pretentious to say that they represent anything real at all. It is designed to give students a solution to the encumbrance of a stack of occult books. You have to begin somewhere and work from something, so there it is. Take it as it is given and make what you can from it.

They wanted a standardized database for occult lore so that you could look in one reference and formulate spells and rituals, or analyze the same. I think the introduction to 777 makes it quite clear that they realized it was not a catalogue of facts in nature, but a rudimentary framework from which one draw for practical purposes.

Want to make a talisman that can befoul a magician without him knowing about it? Check column XL for a suitable stone, maybe Agate (12th path) to confuse his speech. Maybe you want him to become bitter, disturbing him emotionally, and decide the things in the 24th path look good for that effect. You check column XVI for the color of the stone, column XXXVIII for an image to engrave, and column VIII for a suitable agency by which it can occur. You then draw an octogram (column XLIX) and burn benzoin/storax incense (column XLII) and then make your charges. This example was a gift presented to Austin Spare by Crowley. If you were receiving this gift, you might examine 777 with the intent of deciphering its occult purpose.

To Eugene: As far as I understand it, your model of magic is limited to material ("rational") causes and agencies, albeit possibly including some for which we presently do not have proper observational equipment; and the effect of magical rites is essentially to suggest directions in which one will prosper if supportive actions are taken. Is this correct?

Have you never experienced any effect of magic that utterly defied the supposed laws of reality? Has nothing truly magical ever occurred to you in all those 30+ years of work? I find that hard to believe.


#42 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:18 PM

Imperial Arts said:



Suggestion: Draw a blank Tree of Life and photocopy it several dozen times. Copy the 777 Tables (or the ones you find interesting) into the blank spaces. Save them all in document protectors in a 3-ring binder and preserve it for future reference. I find that writing things out by hand makes remembering them easier.

What specific effect(s) do you expect work of that nature to have?

Imperial Arts said:


The "way the table was likely constructed" involves Crowley, Allan Bennett, and probably a few other people trying to stuff the available mythic/esoteric systems into a Tree of Life scheme so that it would conveniently fit the Golden Dawn pattern. It is a Magical Alphabet from which we must attempt to establish a vocabulary.

A vocabulary for understanding/expressing what?

Imperial Arts said:


The tables have just about nothing to do with reality or the way things actually work, nor is it necessary that they do so.

I disagree on both traditional and personal grounds. I'll be happy to explain why in detail as the conversation develops, if you're interested.

Imperial Arts said:


It would be pretentious to say that they represent anything real at all. It is designed to give students a solution to the encumbrance of a stack of occult books. You have to begin somewhere and work from something, so there it is. Take it as it is given and make what you can from it. They wanted a standardized database for occult lore so that you could look in one reference and formulate spells and rituals, or analyze the same. I think the introduction to 777 makes it quite clear that they realized it was not a catalogue of facts in nature, but a rudimentary framework from which one draw for practical purposes.

Want to make a talisman that can befoul a magician without him knowing about it? Check column XL for a suitable stone, maybe Agate (12th path) to confuse his speech. Maybe you want him to become bitter, disturbing him emotionally, and decide the things in the 24th path look good for that effect. You check column XVI for the color of the stone, column XXXVIII for an image to engrave, and column VIII for a suitable agency by which it can occur. You then draw an octogram (column XLIX) and burn benzoin/storax incense (column XLII) and then make your charges. This example was a gift presented to Austin Spare by Crowley. If you were receiving this gift, you might examine 777 with the intent of deciphering its occult purpose.

If the tables have just about nothing to do with reality, what possible benefit is there is using its contents to design a talisman?

Imperial Arts said:


To Eugene: As far as I understand it, your model of magic is limited to material ("rational") causes and agencies, albeit possibly including some for which we presently do not have proper observational equipment; and the effect of magical rites is essentially to suggest directions in which one will prosper if supportive actions are taken. Is this correct?

There is nothing "supernatural" in the model, if that's what you mean by "limited to material causes and agencies." Since you asked, I'll try to clarify briefly. The process that evolved the model started with the basic assumption that magicians should be more effective than non-magicians at achieving their stated goals, both because that's my personal experience, and because it's consistent with what most magick-related literature tends to promote. Note my previous post about separating the mystical benefits of practicing magick from the practical effects (i.e. "getting things done"); the model only addresses the practical aspects, and explicitly does not address the mystical.

From that starting point, the model was derived by looking at what magicians do (things non-magicians don't do) and using current cognitive theories to predict the likely effects of typical magical workings, primarily to see if any of those effects could account for an increase in effectiveness over non-magicians while being consistent with the experiences magicians tend to report (and of course, my personal experience). The common report I mean here is something like, I did magick for X, and then X happened in some unexpected, mysterious/surprising way. I found that there are indeed empirically supported cognitive mechanisms, according to current trends in cognitive science, that could do just that. I'm still working on a full specification of the model. I expect it to appear on my website eventually.

Imperial Arts said:


Have you never experienced any effect of magic that utterly defied the supposed laws of reality? Has nothing truly magical ever occurred to you in all those 30+ years of work? I find that hard to believe.

I don't know what you think the supposed laws of reality are, or what you mean by, "truly magical." I'll be happy to respond to your question if you clarify those terms. In the meantime, I can tell you that over the course of 30+ years of fairly constant study and practice, I've learned that things aren't always what they seem, not in the moment nor in retrospect, and that deciding one "knows" what's going on is just about always a mistake.
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#43 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:28 PM

justitiaetfortitudo said:

You seem to be inflating a pedantic question out of proportion. Many have addressed it, but you only appear interested in responses that semantically match your preexisting opinions. Maybe that's why you aren't hearing the responses; maybe your semantic network fails to match the reality of the environment in which you are operating...i.e. this forum.
I don't know, the discussion is moving along nicely from my point of view. Readers who aren't interested in what I'm doing aren't obligated to participate, so it's all good.
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#44 Imperial Arts

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:49 PM

Drawing the Tree of Life with filled-in paths has three specific effects: it makes remembering the 777 tables easier on account of the effort required to pen them, organizes the tables into the design they are apparently intended to represent, and preserves them for quick reference in a format that does not include tiny print. Was it really necessary to clarify this point?

A vocabulary of magic expresses and explains the intended purposes of magic. Crowley and his associates in creating 777 realized that the elements of their invocations could be compared to one another in the way that Greek and Roman gods are often compared and equated in purpose and character. The figures themselves are not identical, and in fact many are considerably different, but when one says he intends to "invoke Mars" as an occult ritual it must be understood that "invoking Mars" does not necessarily mean the specific deity named Mars. The 777 tables are an attempt to identify common elements in the systems most familiar to Crowley etc. and arrange them for occult work.

If you wanted, for example, a conjuration for love affairs, you would not need to isolate the possible components of a spell. Simply look in the tables at the 14th path and incorporate the things found there. It isn't necessary to believe that Venus and Hathoor exist, or that they have any real connection to a particular color, scent, or gemstone in order to make these things into a spell. Like meaningless letters forming words, the symbols in 777 become the working-tools for magic.

By "truly magical" I mean effects that defy the ordinary assumptions of reality: levitation and telekinesis, bilocation, invulnerability, clairvoyance, weather-magic, and other effects of magic that the general public relegates to the realm of fantasy. While a lot of magic does depend on engineered coincidence, that is not the limit of magic despite the really bizarre effects being on the rare side. Has nothing of the sort ever occurred to you?


#45 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 03:06 PM

Imperial Arts said:



By "truly magical" I mean effects that defy the ordinary assumptions of reality: levitation and telekinesis, bilocation, invulnerability, clairvoyance, weather-magic, and other effects of magic that the general public relegates to the realm of fantasy. While a lot of magic does depend on engineered coincidence, that is not the limit of magic despite the really bizarre effects being on the rare side. Has nothing of the sort ever occurred to you?

I'll address this personal stuff separately from the rest. I understand why you're asking here, and I'll try to address that curiosity because I think what I have to say about it is important, but I think it best to separate it from the on-topic part of the discussion.

If you asked that question of anyone anywhere (anytime for that matter) you'd find that most people have experiences that are consistent with at least some of those descriptors.They're clearly part of the natural range of experiences that people are likely to have. For some, like myself, both personal experiences and the mass of stories that go around about phenomena along those lines are what inspire a deeper look into occult studies and magick in the first place. But as I said before, over my years of study and practice I've learned that things aren't always what/as they seem to be.

I previously mentioned that I don't think people can change the weather with magick or otherwise violate the currently accepted laws of physics. That's particularly because readily testable hypotheses are easily formulated for such assumptions, and in fact there's over a hundred years of formal study testing just that sort of thing. With as much attention as has been paid to such things for so long, there should be at least some reliable/replicable studies supporting such human abilities, but there just isn't. I've gone over the literature up one side and down the other and it's just not there. If anyone disagrees with that statement, I'm more than happy to read and discuss any research literature you cite (in another thread of course). Feel free to start a thread and PM me. I'll read the research report(s) and we can discuss it to your satisfaction.

The rest of my opinion in this regard is formed from my personal experience of doing magick for all manner of reasons for a long long time. Weather magick is a particularly instructive endeavor, and I do in fact recommend devoting a good deal of attention to it to anyone who's truly interested in magical development. This is probably worth a thread of its own too, but briefly, we (meaning all humans) are prone to notice events that conform to expectations and to ignore events that don't. There's a massive body of evidence confirming that observation. So over time, the number of "successes" can seem to greatly outnumber the failures, simply because virtually all of the successes are counted and remembered, but only a few of the failures are.

That's a simple problem with some simple methodological solutions, like good record keeping and the discipline to set the criteria for success/failure ahead of time and sticking to it throughout, and doing it enough times to amass enough evidence to rule out chance as a reasonable explanation. Long after I had convinced myself that I could indeed control the weather to some degree, I went through this process of tightening up my methodology, and within a couple of years, I changed my mind about what I could do about the weather. I've since advised many magicians through the same process and am willing to guide anyone here with interest through it too (feel free to ask).

On a personal note, every time I've participated in experiments like that, I've held out hope that someone, even if I can't, really can do it. I, in fact, remain faintly hopeful about it. For now though, with a lot of evidence at my disposal, I have no good reason to expect that anyone can change the weather with magick.

So, it was the realization that I could have so thoroughly fooled myself that way that prompted me to take a closer look at the research on cognitive biases that led to my errors in judgment. That search led me to some community college courses (at the age of 38), and eventually to a Ph.D. in research psychology specializing in cognitive neuroscience, and now to post doctoral research in neurobehavioral genetics (as I approach the age of 50).

So, theorizing about magick is a hobby that fuses the two things I've spent the most time and energy on in my life. As a magician, I'm interested in maximizing my effectiveness, and as a scientist, I'm pragmatic about it. As you point out, truly bizarre effects are quite rare, which makes their practical use close enough to nil to not bother with, not to mention the fact that most of them (telekinesis for example) don't seem to have much practical application anyway. However, finding oneself (mysteriously) in the right place at the right time doing the right things to accomplish previously stated goals with remarkable consistency? Now that's exciting, not because it has a surface appearance of being fantastic, but because the underlying theory is supportable with existing empirical evidence, and the hypotheses that stem from it are readily testable.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 06 June 2011 - 03:34 PM.

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#46 Son of the Wave

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 03:36 PM

I've been following this thread and I've found some interesting points raised. I'm not a big fan of debating these types of things like I may have been some years ago. Others have already said things a lot better so I've grown fonder of just pointing than talking. In the case of understanding the purpose of 777 one may do well to read Symbol and the Symbolic and Esoterism and Symbol both by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz and then make up your own damned mind.:)

#47 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 01:47 PM

Nalyd Khezr Bey said:

I've been following this thread and I've found some interesting points raised. I'm not a big fan of debating these types of things like I may have been some years ago. Others have already said things a lot better so I've grown fonder of just pointing than talking. In the case of understanding the purpose of 777 one may do well to read Symbol and the Symbolic and Esoterism and Symbol both by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz and then make up your own damned mind.:)

Surely you have ideas of your own, informed by your reading history no doubt, but still your own. I'm interested in hearing your opinions on the topic, and the things I and others have said in this thread. It's a discussion forum after all. Why not discuss?
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#48 Imperial Arts

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 04:53 PM

R. Eugene Laughlin said:

Now that's exciting, not because it has a surface appearance of being fantastic, but because the underlying theory is supportable with existing empirical evidence, and the hypotheses that stem from it are readily testable.

You and I have very different definitions of exciting.

I have begun a new thread specifically for the discussion of effects that defy the "neuro-cognitive" model of magic: http://www.occultcor...6862#post106862

What you are proposing is a revised and expanded version of Crowley's Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic. I have debated the issue in print too many times, and have disproven it to my own satisfaction by experiment. I will not discuss it further here.


#49 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:47 PM

Imperial Arts said:

You and I have very different definitions of exciting.

Luckily, it'a a big world and there's room for all of us.

Imperial Arts said:


I have begun a new thread specifically for the discussion of effects that defy the "neuro-cognitive" model of magic: http://www.occultcor...6862#post106862

Yes, I saw that you started a new thread. I'll stay out of it as you wish so that it can be what you want it to be, but I do want to clarify what seem to be some misconceptions. I don't mind if readers don't like what I have to share if that's the case, but I do prefer that any such dislike to be based on things I really say and think. I apologize to the uninterested and the moderators for the digression, but it's important to me to be understood. I'll get back on-topic after this, because I also have more to say about 777 and the potential value and problems with memorizing its contents.

First, anecdotes like the things you posted in your new thread don't "defy" the neurocognitive model. It's an information processing model that, according to current trends in cognitive science, defines mechanisms for how typical magick practices, like evoking spirits and making talismans for example, can enhance perceptual acuity for goal-relevant dynamics in and around the magician's life, and can establish goal-facilitating prepotent response biases to cues signaling that something goal-relevant is happening. As such, the model cannot explain effects like changing the weather, because that's not what the model is built to explain. There's nothing in the model to argue against people changing the weather with magik either. Understand? If people really can change the weather or cause earthquakes with magick, some other model would be needed to explain those effects, or those effects can just go unexplained.

Now, my personal opinion is a different story. As I already explained, I don't think people can change the weather or otherwise violate the currently accepted laws of physics with magick, despite the anecdotes you and others (including myself) have to share. That's because in my experience those apparent effects are usually demonstrably illusory. Not always mind you, so the possibility remains, but given the body of evidence available to me, it seems quite unlikely, to me specifically. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind here, just stating what I think and why.

On a related note, there was one phrase in your new thread that I want to address:

Imperial Arts said:


You shouldn't have to perform repeated lab tests just to believe in the power of your own conjurations, and to some extent I believe this sort of approach diminishes your effectiveness as a magician.

I don't advocate "repeated lab tests" in general. What I recommend is that aspiring magicians develop a basic methodology that diminishes to the degree possible the known ways in which we err, simple things, like keeping good, objective records of each and every magick act performed, applying consistent criteria for judging effects, and being honest when periodically appraising ones overall effectiveness. I can't imagine why anyone would object to that sort of thing, but I guess I won't be surprised if some do.

Imperial Arts said:


What you are proposing is a revised and expanded version of Crowley's Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic. I have debated the issue in print too many times, and have disproven it to my own satisfaction by experiment. I will not discuss it further here.

It's reasonable to assume that the essay you cite was inspired by similar insights. Of course, he didn't have access to the evidence amassed in the intervening hundred years, so the model I'm proposing is quite different in many ways. And while he didn't and couldn't (because the studies hadn't been done yet) produce empirical evidence to support his ideas, I can produce a lot of empirical evidence to support my ideas. So whatever you feel you've "dis-proven," you don't know what evidence I've reviewed in developing the model I've been discussing, because I haven't cited it yet, so you can't know what you'd think of it at this point: you haven't seen it.

Of course, you're not obligated to discuss anything, here or anywhere, but I remain willing should you change your mind. I mean, no matter what else happens when people do magick, magicians have brains that function according to a fundamental nature, those functions demonstrably produce cognitive phenomena that is relatively consistent across all human beings under similar conditions, some of the mechanisms that support those functions have been rather well-defined, and so it has become possible to gain some understanding of what happens to the human cognitive system during and in response to magical acts. Wouldn't any magician want to understand that sort of thing better?

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 08 June 2011 - 03:02 PM.

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#50 z0b

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 06:01 PM

Many things in different magik systems work with each other either because they are just useing a different name to describe the same or simular operation or effect.
No mater the system or world view the most important thing is the sphere of influence the caster has too apply there workings and make them real that is the most important thing no mater how you go about it or what tools you use though haveing the means right in your vessel with know need for props is conciderd by most too be one of the highest forms of magik one can achieve only example I will give is I can think in enochian which gives me considerable advantage over other practisioners that need tools too even come close too workings I do on the fly.Also in this thread Ive not seen any mention of comming up with anything new most writings even by crowly and other are just ment too guide you not act as the whole .

#51 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 06:38 PM

Previously, I posed a question, given how the table was likely constructed. To my mind, how the table was most likely constructed speaks directly to the potential value of the table itself, and perhaps provides some clues to its optimal use. So far, two people have made comments about "how the table was likely constructed." So...

Imperial Arts said:



The "way the table was likely constructed" involves Crowley, Allan Bennett, and probably a few other people trying to stuff the available mythic/esoteric systems into a Tree of Life scheme so that it would conveniently fit the Golden Dawn pattern.
This account seems to trivialize what was an unprecedented undertaking of considerable scholarship, warts and all (I'll address the "warts" eventually). And while there was no doubt fudging to make the disparate systems included fit as neatly as possible into the overall table, I think most anyone versed in the underpinning literature would agree that it's more accurate to say the form and contents of the table provided the basis of the Golden Dawn system, not the other way 'round.

This more detailed response was also offered:

Philosophadam said:


The "how" of the matter is a historical question, which would require us to look into Crowley's and the Golden Dawn's records for how they conceived of the tables they were compiling. My knowledge of this historical aspect is shady at best, so I won't endeavour to provide a definitive answer. What I do know, however, is that some of the tables of correspondences were drawn from traditional sources (Qabalistic, grimoiric, some Egyptological, etc.) and some of them were new creations in the sense that they had no literary precedents.
To be sure we're clear, I think you're saying that there is no prior literary source that likens, say, the Hindu Lalita with the Norse goddess, Freya, and the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. Of course, there are ample literary sources on each one, from which a comparative theologian (anthropologist, or whatever) might infer such relationships at a meta-level. It nearly goes without saying (but we'd better say it anyway), the table is clearly a product of inferring fundamental constructs that the authors believed transcend particular cultures and cultural epochs.

Philosophadam said:


My educated guess would be that many of them were developed by extending principles; in Regardie's Garden of Pomegranates, for instance, he discusses some of the tables of correspondences that link Qabalistic sephiroth to Hindu gods, Egyptian gods, Qabalistic Intelligences, etc. Understanding the nature of Kether as undifferentiated unity, for instance, and Brahman as embodying essentially the same concept allows us to see an affinity between the two; this is not simply a psychological association, but rather a recognition of a shared quality or property. Many of the sub-tables are directly linked back to the spheres and paths of the Tree of Life according to the principles traditionally symbolized by those sephiroth and paths. So, there is this dimension of shared qualities here, which gives rise to logical correspondences.
This is close to how I see it. A guiding principle for the construction of the table was, in essence, belief in Truth with a capital T, the concept that each spiritual system and associated symbol set amount to culture-specific expressions (or responses to) the same fundamental Truth. That idea didn't originate with the GD of course. There are hints of it of it in most of the world's mystical literature, in early Greek literature, in Neoplatonic literature, it's consistent with Masonic tenets in a significant way, etc., and of course, Blavastky et al., just prior to the institution of the GD, were busily publishing what amounts to categorizing and re-interpreting (unfortunately flawed notions of) Far East cosmological concepts with Western terminology.

The other guiding principle at work, the premium mobile, was the overall organization, the Tree of Life, which is properly understood as the Platonic cosmological pattern of how things transition from their inceptional Form/Idea (the true Reality) to their pale reflections in the sensory world (where we typically live and experience things). I'll pick up my train of thought there when I return to the thread in a day or two.
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#52 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 06:20 PM

R. Eugene Laughlin said:

A guiding principle for the construction of the table was, in essence, belief in Truth with a capital T, the concept that each spiritual system and associated symbol set amount to culture-specific expressions (or responses to) the same fundamental Truth. That idea didn't originate with the GD of course. There are hints of it of it in most of the world's mystical literature, in early Greek literature, in Neoplatonic literature, it's consistent with Masonic tenets in a significant way, etc., and of course, Blavastky et al., just prior to the institution of the GD, were busily publishing what amounts to categorizing and re-interpreting (unfortunately flawed notions of) Far East cosmological concepts with Western terminology.

The other guiding principle at work, the premium mobile, was the overall organization, the Tree of Life, which is properly understood as the Platonic cosmological pattern of how things transition from their inceptional Form/Idea (the true Reality) to their pale reflections in the sensory world (where we typically live and experience things). I'll pick up my train of thought there when I return to the thread in a day or two.
Most of what follows in this post is probably known to most readers, but perhaps not all, and since it hasn't been articulated in this thread yet, I'll do it because I think this stuff should be explicitly considered by anyone pondering the value and use 777.

The idea that all systems arise as some collection of culture-specific responses to a singular Truth has a lot of appeal. Really, given just about any definition of "Truth," it almost has to work that way. To my mind, it's a small hop to an even more general idea: anything and everything must be a response to the same basic Truth. I mean, the world is consistent enough to assume that there is some set of general principles governing operations here. And while we're not necessarily smart enough to know what all of those principles are, we have no choice but to operate within their bounds. So like it not, know it or not, we are all responding to The Truth as best we can. That idea is worth keeping in mind throughout any consideration of 777.

The prominent cosmological schemes we know of today are intended to describe that Truth one way or another, and most are the product of a multi-generational developmental process of thought about the Truth, contemplated, discussed, handed down, contemplated and discussed further, etc. It's a culmination of the shared experiences of many many seekers, the minority of specialists that each generation produces, the shaman, mystics, clergy, and the likes: the "wise" persons.

As I mentioned before and as most of you know, the table is ordered by the Tree of Life glyph, which symbolizes a particular cosmological scheme. In essence, the scheme divvies up the whole of reality/existence/the multiverse/whateveryawannacallit into a fixed number of "realms" (in a manner of speaking) and transitional channels between them, each of which represent a particular collection of dynamic principles and interactive agencies, which taken altogether are supposed to describe all of the processes and dynamics that result in the phenomenal world as we experience it: the pattern of becoming, if you will. As such, it also suggests a method by which our essential being might return to its ultimate source, what the Neoplatonists called the safe return of the soul. As I mentioned in the previous post, the TOL arrangement is best understood as an iteration of the Platonic cosmological scheme. I'll have more to say about that later. For now...

Examining the contents of 777, it's easily seen to be a collection of generalized concepts and forces, spirit names of various species (Gods, archangels, angels, intelligences, demons, etc.), perceptual phenomena (i.e. colors), geometric patterns and other things clearly intended as symbols, and a variety of objects (extent and mythical) from raw materials (plants and minerals) to constructed tools (sword, wand, etc.). The arrangement is such that, down at the level of specifics, the rows index loci on the glyph, while the columns represent the various categories of phenomena that were included.

Some of the comments offered in this thread so far suggest that the contents might as well have been arbitrarily selected and arbitrarily placed. They weren't though. Everything included appears exactly where it appears for very specific reasons, either historical/traditional reasons (our inheritance from the generations of "wise" persons discussed above), or where traditions fail to provide, for logical reasons based on what is most reasonably inferred/imputed by the organizational scheme.

More later.
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#53 justitiaetfortitudo

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 08:53 PM

I agree with R, that the Tree of Life schema is, at its base, built according to the observed principles of, and the processes inherent in, the universe as we observe it. The form of the Tree of Life commonly used today is a result of centuries of evolution of this concept, and its practical use depends on the magicians ability to interpret it as the framework of her personal universe. The tables of 777 were constructed by qabalists who used the Tree of Life in this way, so it is easy to jump to the assumption that the tables themselves represent a specifically significant pattern of reality.

Personally, I think this would be fallacious. The glyph that represents these primary, essential patterns is the Tree itself, not any particular individual's set of correspondences (that is not to say that the 777 tables represent only one persons correspondence set...they were conglomerated mostly from the lectures of Golden Dawn members, along with the more well known general correspondences, and a fair amount of Crowley's own Qabalistic knowledge). An individual magician's ability to project her own observed patterns into the tree is what determines its meaning to her. So while the tables of 777 were not likely built arbitrarily, they might not always represent the best arrangement of correspondences to the individual. In order to justify any personal rearrangement of the standard correspondences (which are largely represented by 777), one should understand the glyph itself, and the ways that it has been used by others. 777 is probably one of the best resources for this, but there are many others.
...and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient unto Me.


And Adonai said: The strong brown reaper swept his swathe and rejoiced. The wise man counted his muscles, and pondered, and understood not, and was sad.

Reap thou, and rejoice!
-Liber LXV (I)

#54 z0b

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 07:14 PM

I would contend that the pattern would represent the seeker or operator due too the time place effect and the results they would get or not get from it would always be what they needed not what they may or may not understand at the time .People tend too forget we don't see very far down our path of choices but other beings do including what we call our higher self.Most of the answers of the universe as we know it are already in all of us but we would rather look out side for understanding and most of the time end up lacking.

#55 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 05:02 PM

Previously I mentioned that the TOL organization is an iteration of the generlized Platonic cosmological scheme. Now I'll explain what I meant by that and why I think it's important.

Firstly, I don't mean to implicate Plato's cosmology proper, as detailed in the Timeaus and elaborated elsewhere in Plato's writings for example, but rather the key patterning features of the cosmological conceptions he worked from that survived his specific time to inspire those who followed. To understand something of the evolution of those ideas, consider the major touch-points: Aristotle; the 2nd Century Neoplatonists; the Medieval/Renaissance mystics; Levi, the Theosophists, and the original GD.

The key feature that survived from Plato's original model is a system of hierarchical and nested categories, wherein the qualities of a given class is inherited from a progenitor class. The easiest example to submit is that of a typical biological taxonomy:

Posted Image

Below the Species-level for the taxonomy depicted are the extant individual Orca whales, each of which is unique in some ways, but likewise each of which inherits its most fundamental qualities from the Species. That is, what all Orca have in common defines the category: ORCA. The Species inherits its qualities from the Genus (as do other species in the same Genus), which inherits its qualities from the Family, and so on up the ladder. Notice that each successive higher order classification is increasingly inclusive of more and more things. So by the time we get to the Class-level, we are ourselves included. In other words, what we have in common with whales are what each of our very different species inherited from our common Class (Mammalia), even though we don't share qualities inherited from our respective Order, Family, and Genus.

These patterns of inherited qualities (hierarchical and nested categories) form the basis of what the the Renaissance magician referred to as the inward and occult virtue of things. Consider that at some point, when people saw a whale, they did not readily recognize most of the shared qualities between us and them that warrant our mutual inclusion into a particular biological Class according to modern biology. They might, however, have noticed certain things, like that whales care for and protect their young for many years after birth, as do we. From a readily apparent observation like that, people might then have inferred many other less obvious qualities that are perhaps related to shared motivations resulting in a shared behavior, etc.

I'll leave it at that for now, but will have more to say later. As always, questions and comments are welcome in the meantime.
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#56 Caliban

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 01:30 AM

I think the systematic categorizing of creatures etc. was a particular innovation or avocation of Plato's protogé Aristotle, whose influence became rather institutionalized in Scholasticism as his works were better preserved through the Dark Ages. Platonism instead dealt with the actual, physical whales as expressions of a notional Ideal of a whale.

Renaissance magic would associate it with the prophet Jonah, the Sign of Pisces or what have you according to the Scale of the Number Twelve, including signs of the Zodiac, labors of Hercules and so on in a sort of free association of ideas that seems more systematic than it is.

The taxonomy we are familiar today is precisely a reaction against such associative categories arising in the Age of Enlightenment where science as we know it today replaced what Agrippa would have called natural philosophy.

Crowley tried to have his cake and eat it too, but I prefer to stick with Aristotlean taxonomies for practical, left-brain, rational methods and the vague, suggestive and symbolic relations of natural philosophy for artistic endeavors which for me includes the Art of Magic.


"There is a crack, a crack through everything. That is how the light gets in." -- Leonard Cohen


#57 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 02:42 PM

Caliban said:

I think the systematic categorizing of creatures etc. was a particular innovation or avocation of Plato's protogé Aristotle, whose influence became rather institutionalized in Scholasticism as his works were better preserved through the Dark Ages. Platonism instead dealt with the actual, physical whales as expressions of a notional Ideal of a whale.

I don't quite agree. I did mention an evolutionary process, and here's how I see it, in brief. Platonism didn't posit that whales manifest spontaneously from Form; rather, Plato described or implied some necessary creative agencies: the Demiurge, the Gods, etc. Aristotle later argued against (a straw man characterization of) the theory of Forms and elaborated a more sophisticated hierarchical system. The Neoplatonists reintroduced Platonic Forms and considered "it" as a "realm" at the top of an Aristotlean hierarchical arrangement of realms, each populated with creative agencies, which through the "sacred rites" (fostering mystical ecstasy) could be traversed from the bottom up as a mystical quest: the safe return of the soul. Meanwhile, astrologers (mostly from the Muslim world) standardized the Zodiac we know today, in harmony with the Aristotlean framework.

It all more or less came together in Spain under rather tolerant Muslim rule, from which the major trends of Medieval magick emerged, including the Western Kabbalah/TOL pattern of becoming. I think that covers the major milestones and trends that underpin the form of 777, and at least some of the markers indicating the source of some of its contents.

Caliban said:

Renaissance magic would associate it with the prophet Jonah, the Sign of Pisces or what have you according to the Scale of the Number Twelve, including signs of the Zodiac, labors of Hercules and so on in a sort of free association of ideas that seems more systematic than it is.

The taxonomy we are familiar today is precisely a reaction against such associative categories arising in the Age of Enlightenment where science as we know it today replaced what Agrippa would have called natural philosophy.

I disagree here too, though just barely. I think you've got the key issue in hand, but for me, it's not that the Renaissance magician's associations lacked system; it's that the system in place was wholly theoretical and largely regarded as factual by tradition, despite what we came to understand as a lack of empirical support. I think you're correct in suggesting that the pre-Agrippa Natural Philosophy allowed for intuitive processes, in assigning specific phenomena to categories within the system for example, an attitude that the rising tide of empiricism had pretty well squelched by the end of the Renaissance.

Caliban said:

Crowley tried to have his cake and eat it too, but I prefer to stick with Aristotlean taxonomies for practical, left-brain, rational methods and the vague, suggestive and symbolic relations of natural philosophy for artistic endeavors which for me includes the Art of Magic.

Here again I think you're on target, but I have a slightly different take on the matter. Crowley, as we all know, promoted magick as Science and Art, a phrasing he borrowed from a descriptive account of the medical practice of his era. In its original usage, the phrase referred to the Doctor as both researcher and clinician, the researcher ever-seeking knowledge of the courses and causes of disease, for the sake of ever-improving treatment; and the clinician, whose business is not in fact disease, but is defined by helping people who are suffering. The art of medicine, by this account, is therefore necessarily a highly personal and holistic affair, wherein the physician's intuition (sense of the overall state of the patient and the patient's needs) is at least if not more vital than his factual or theoretical knowledge of disease.

Crowley, we can safely assume, understood that use of the phrase, science and art, so we can likewise assume that he believed the spirit of that usage applies to magick, but with the addition of mystical union of seemingly orthogonal qualities: empiricism and intuition. I don't see it as "having your cake and eating it too." For me, it's nicely captured in the 14th Key:

Posted Image

So, in all this, I think we owe the most to what the Neoplatonists bequeathed us by positioning Platonic Forms at the top of an Aristotlean hierarchical structure. More on that later.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 17 June 2011 - 03:38 PM.

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#58 Caliban

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 05:40 PM

R. Eugene Laughlin said:

Meanwhile, astrologers (mostly from the Muslim world) standardized the Zodiac we know today, in harmony with the Aristotlean framework.
Well, the Zodiac we know really was known in Classical antiquity. I agree that the astronomers of the Golden Age of Islam really did make some marvelous contributions, and of course we ow them the Picatrix, but the basic underlying structure is all right there in Ptolomey.

Quote

It all more or less came together in Spain under rather tolerant Muslim rule, from which the major trends of Medieval magick emerged, including the Western Kabbalah/TOL pattern of becoming. I think that covers the major milestones and trends that underpin the form of 777, and at least some of the markers indicating the source of some of its contents.
The mystical Kabbalah of Moses de Leon et al certainly did. But do not overlook the important synergies which occured (earlier) in Alexandria (whence Plotinus and others) and (later) at the Academy of Florence - whichout which there would have been no "occult philosophy" in the Renaissance.

Quote

I think you're correct in suggesting that the pre-Agrippa Natural Philosophy allowed for intuitive processes, in assigning specific phenomena to categories within the system for example, an attitude that the rising tide of empiricism had pretty well squelched by the end of the Renaissance.
That depends on how you view Alchemy, and Paracelsus, and where you date the end of the Renaissance. Personally, I go with the death of Giordano Bruno in 1600. It's a nice, round number.

Quote

So, in all this, I think we owe the most to what the Neoplatonists bequeathed us by positioning Platonic Forms at the top of an Aristotlean hierarchical structure. More on that later.

More or less. I can banter fine points til the cows come home - but that is a matter of refining my own understanding, rather than disagreeing in any larger sense.


"There is a crack, a crack through everything. That is how the light gets in." -- Leonard Cohen


#59 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 02:49 PM

R. Eugene Laughlin said:

So, in all this, I think we owe the most to what the Neoplatonists bequeathed us by positioning Platonic Forms at the top of an Aristotlean hierarchical structure. More on that later.

Caliban said:

More or less.

I've been contemplating how to best explain why I think so, in a concise manner, for the last couple of days. It's challenging, but here goes. Take a look at the following image:

Posted Image

I'm sure that readers immediately recognize that these are all chairs, despite the fact that they are somewhat unusual examples, or their individual differences. A Google search may turn up even more unusual and different examples, but still you'd instantly know what they are, probably without any sort of deliberation, without cognitive effort.

Cognitive theories of object recognition include the idea that through experience of the world of things, we naturally/automatically/effortlessly extract a root-level understanding of the essential qualities of things, whatever it is that makes a thing be what it is, what makes a thing function as it does, etc. In the scientific vernacular, it's called semantic knowledge. The idea is that upon seeing a thing, like a chair, we recognize its essential chairness. Importantly, consider what it really means to recognize a chair. At a trivial level, seeing a chair brings the label, "chair," to mind, but what really happens is an instant understanding of the thing's function: what it does, what can be done with it, how it works, how it can be interacted with and to what purposes, etc.

It's an example of what is sometimes called automatic or incidental learning, or more technically, implicit learning (as opposed to explicit learning, which we do on purpose by rehearsal for example). And since it's knowledge acquired without intent or effort, it may sometimes seem like innate knowledge.

The cognitive construct that we can imagine as knowledge of essential chairness roughly equates to the notion of a Platonic Form or Idea. Of course, when considered as a cosmological construct, we think of it in a top-down manner, first comes the Form, then it's various expressions. But as a cognitive construct, we understand it as a bottom-up process, wherein some sufficient amount of experience with chair induces the semantic knowledge.

Plato in fact described the bottom-up process as the only way for us to gain knowledge of Forms, which he argued was the only source of true knowledge. From the modern perspective, the world is what it is, and through our perceptual interface with the world, we develop cognitive constructs to represent the world as it is (including how things work). Taken in that light, Plato actually foreshadowed this particular aspect of modern cognitive theory.

There is a more abstract way of thinking about this that includes the idea that in order for the world to be what it is, first there had to be the potential for the world to become what it currently is, and that the Form/Idea equates to that potential. I may talk a bit more about that later, but for now, just know that modern cognitive theory (with plenty of empirical support) proposes that we do in fact gain semantic (Form-like) knowledge by experiencing the world as it is, which is consistent with what Plato described.

Digging a bit deeper into the cognitive theories, semantic knowledge greatly depends on how we organize information. Perhaps the most basic feature of learning, both incidental (implicit) and intentional (explicit), is that it's an associative process. That is, learning is fundamentally the act of associating one thing with another thing, a thing with a label, with a function, and with other labels and functions, etc. There has been a good deal of research aimed at understanding the naturally occurring organizational patterns that constitute learning of all types. Interestingly, as it turns out, the evidence strongly suggests that our basic cognitive structures tend to take the form of a generalized Aristotlean hierarchical categorization scheme.

I'm going to leave it there for the moment, but will continue in a day or two.
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