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Some Foundations Of Gd Ritual/cosmological Structure


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#1 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 07:50 PM

A couple of recent threads have invited comment from me (from my point of view/owing to my background) that I didn't make within those threads because they may have been off topic or derailing to some degree. I think the issues are important enough for a thread of its own. The threads that triggered my interest in starting this one include the discussion of the LBRP and particularly the comments on adapting its external symbols, the thread discussing some zodiacal glyphs and goetic magic, and the recent grimoire thread, particularly Nalyd's comment about getting into the Grimorium Verum. How each of of those threads relates to what I have to say should become clear in this thread, if not right away, eventually.

I often make comments on LBRP threads that people don't understand because I don't go into enough detail to reasonably explain my thinking on the matter, so this thread can serve as a reference for past and future comments I've made about that ritual in and out of the GD context. I'll get into the BRH a bit as well. It's not my intent to get into the nuances of GD ritual or cosmology, but rather to examine the methodology that gives rise to some of the specific methods they used.

To start, in one thread the following zodiacal glyph was presented as a distillation of ideas culled from traditional astrology, some Hermetic and later Hebrewish mystical literature, and some Medieval grimoric literature, as well as later academic commentary to do with all of that. Here's the figure:

Posted Image


In the original thread, an idea was expressed about how this figure might be oriented to the cardinal directions. and the suggestions I inferred from the comment about a good orientation for the spirit named Piamon should be NE, is that the uppermost point of this glyph should be East, with South at the rightmost point, West at the bottom-most point, and North at the leftmost point. I mentioned then that such an aliment didn't make sense given reasons discussed there.

The cardinal directions and their Elemental attributes in the GD system are taken from the same Zodiac that the wheel above depicts, but you can't readily see them when it's presented in this form, and when the GD assignment is recognized, then some of the internal inconsistency in Western Magick tradition that I often mention in discussion also becomes apparent in this particular glyph.

The GD Elemental alignment of the cardinal directions is taken from the Tropic Zodiac, which came into practice as a response to widespread recognition that the initial constellation alignments that formed the Classic Zodiac were changing over time, a phenomenon called the Procession of the Equinox. In essence, due to astronomical changes in orientation caused by the axial rotation of the earth, the equinoxes advance, relative to classical constellation alignment at the rate of about 1° per century. The effect is that the first moment of Spring is no longer perfectly aligned with ascendance of the constellation of Aries as it originally was when the system was conceived.

Today, some astrologers use a Sideral system, but the subject of this thread is the Tropical Zodiac, which adopted a seasonal rather than strictly astronomical orientation for the Zodiacal wheel. In that system, the most commonly used in the West today, the first moment of Spring is based on equal lengths of day and night, and marks the first moment of Aries. The 360° that define the Zodiac are then evenly distributed around the Wheel.

One reason the GD orients Air to the East is because John Dee did so, and he did for reasons that predate him of course (an interesting study but beyond the current scope). The symbolism of Dawn as the primary turning point the defines new beginnings is simple enough to understand, and is reflected by GD ritual structure by starting their rituals facing East. The direction of motion in the GD temple is deosil, which means sunwise or clockwise to us, but is more importantly the apparent direction of the stars/constellations, and is by extrapolation, the natural order of the universe.

Keeping that overall bit of structure in mind, the directional and Elemental alignment of the LBRP can be understood as following the Tropical Zodiacal pattern at the seasonal level. East is the direction of the turning point/new beginnings, and is therefore aligned with the Spring, the turning point/new beginnings of the Zodiac. So moving deosil, we can infer the following attributes: East-Air-Spring, South-Fire-Summer, West-Water-Autumn, and North-Earth-Winter.

Note that the seasonal attributes aren't necessarily traditional in any real sense. They're inferred and/or imposed by their chosen symbolism, and are embedded not only in the external symbols, but into the structure of the ritual itself. So the ritual structure itself imparts a level of symbolic meaning and encodes cosmological relationships. If you dig into the literature of the classical Elements and how thought about the Elements evolved over time in the Western Tradition, you'll end up with several contradictory notions and questions. That's beyond the scope of the current commentary, however. I may get to the conflicts and their consequences later in the thread.

For now, I'm analyzing the LBRP and it's GD-specific symbolic and cosmological underpinnings.

So, consider the glyph at the top of the post again. No seasonal order of the Elements are depicted, but the seasons are there, by virtue of the order of the Signs. The thing is, the glyph is constructed like like a modern Zodiacal chart, to be read from a fixed point, assuming that the Wheel is turning clockwise. But as I point out above, in GD ritual structure, temple motion is deosil (clockwise), so the effect is that the ritualist is going along for the ride with the stars and the seasons. That is, if you wanted to depict the movement in a glyph similar to the above, you'd want to reverse the direction of the Signs, to match what the ritualist actually does.

You'd want to orient the three seasons Signs of Spring to the East, the three seasons Signs of Summer to the South, the three seasons Signs of Autumn to the West, and the three Seasons Signs of Winter to the North. The following is not a GD figure, but was designed to represent the same Elemental associations. I developed it for use of my own students, and while I'm posting it for readers to use freely in keeping with the fair use concept in copyright law, I'm not granting permission for anyone to use it to sell anything:

Posted Image


The GD color scheme is approximated in this figure. The wheel represents the Zodiac, oriented with Aries as the first Sign of the Air season and reading deosil. The Signs of the Zodiac are depicted (roughly) in rainbow order, with Pisces connecting back to Aries by a transitional color approximating a mixture of violet and red.

This glyph also depicts the structure of the BRH. I'll get into that in another post. I can get into how the spirits of a goetic pantheon can be placed within this scheme as well.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 09 August 2014 - 06:18 AM.

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#2 Mos_Feo_Appareo

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 08:23 PM

Thank You Eugene.

Ill give this a good going over after work.

Just FYI.....

I am contesting right now (not you, but rather the "post greek" elemental wheel) the placement of water to the south and earth/north(both passive.)

The original greek charts show North -Water.

Also Ariel not Uriel used to be archangel of the north.
Gabriel the North

Im currently trying to balance elements and while i habitually want to acknowledge Water/West , Ive changed everything this week to try out Water/North.



(E)Air



(N) Water-----------------------(S)Fire



(W)Earth



This is off topic but I mention as the Zodiac wheel question has me redoing my whole approach.Air opposite Earth and Fire opposite Water make a whole lot more sense.



Thanks on the zodiac wheel as Im not an astrologer.

Edited by Mos_Feo_Appareo, 08 August 2014 - 08:53 PM.


#3 Galuruthaz

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 12:24 AM

Following this! Thanks for taking the time to elaborate your ideas..

Edited by Galuruthaz, 09 August 2014 - 12:25 AM.

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#4 jes

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 02:57 AM

Do you draw from anything other than G.D. when using the flashing colors? Could you explain their significance in your system?
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#5 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 04:02 AM

View PostMos_Feo_Appareo, on 08 August 2014 - 08:23 PM, said:

The original greek charts show North -Water.

What charts are those?


View PostMos_Feo_Appareo, on 08 August 2014 - 08:23 PM, said:

Also Ariel not Uriel used to be archangel of the north.
Gabriel the North

Out of idle curiosity, does there have to be an archangel assigned to cardinal directions?

View PostMos_Feo_Appareo, on 08 August 2014 - 08:23 PM, said:

Im currently trying to balance elements and while i habitually want to acknowledge Water/West , Ive changed everything this week to try out Water/North.

People have regarded the relationships between the Elements differently in different times and places and for different reasons. Plato was the first to incorporate the concept of the Four Classical Elements into comprehensive cosmological scheme (in The Timaeus), though the idea of Elements was around beforehand. In Plato's scheme:
  • The physical world must have bodily form; it must be visible and tangible.
  • Hence, its ingredients must include fire and earth.
  • Since fire and earth will have to be combined, there must be at least one other ingredient that serves to combine them.
  • But since fire and earth are solids, we require two intermediates to combine them.
  • Hence, the demiurge created air and water, and arranged all four elements proportionally: as fire is to air, air is to water; as air is to water, water is to earth.
  • As we will see below, we have not reached the bottom with these four elements: there are (geometrical) atoms of which these elements are composed.
(the above is copied from this summary).

Perhaps the most enduring conception of the Elements comes from Aristotle. From On Generation and Corruption, where we get the ideas of opposing sensory qualities, wherein:
  • Fire is primarily hot and secondarily dry.
  • Air is primarily wet and secondarily hot.
  • Water is primarily cold and secondarily wet.
  • Earth is primarily dry and secondarily cold.
The scheme is usually summarized in this figure;

Posted Image

Water and Fire are diametric opposites in this scheme because they share no sensory qualities, which is true of Earth and Air as well.All other Element-pairs share an affinity, through one sensory quality, and an opposition to the other.

I use this scheme in my system because the sensory qualities so readily connect to the sensations of human emotional states, and therefore to human intuition, which for me is where magick lives. For example, consider how deeply such associations are encoded into idiomatic language too (consider what it means to be cool, what the heat of the moment means, what a dry sense of humor is, or a wet blanket, etc.).

I should point out that the figure is not intended to imply alignment with the cardinal directions. And that the Neoplatonists and others later rejected Aristotle's scheme, but it's got legs none the less and keeps coming back into favor.

At any rate, from my point of view, no singular assignment is nearly as important as a comprehensive, internally consistent whole scheme. A problem with the GD scheme is that they cast way too large a blanket, and lose coherence as a result.

View PostMos_Feo_Appareo, on 08 August 2014 - 08:23 PM, said:

(E)Air



(N) Water-----------------------(S)Fire



(W)Earth


What do you expect to gain from that arrangement over what you've done in the past? How long do you expect you'll need to practices these changes to be expect an improvement in your results?

View PostMos_Feo_Appareo, on 08 August 2014 - 08:23 PM, said:

This is off topic but I mention as the Zodiac wheel question has me redoing my whole approach.Air opposite Earth and Fire opposite Water make a whole lot more sense.

Thanks on the zodiac wheel as Im not an astrologer.

That's an interesting statement. Every coherent system that fits the Western Esoteric Tradition has a Zodiac at its core, in my opinion. Note the wording though, I don't assume a single correct Zodiac, and as I suggest above, I think coherence in the overall scheme is more important than anything else.
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#6 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 04:05 AM

View Postjes, on 09 August 2014 - 02:57 AM, said:

Do you draw from anything other than G.D. when using the flashing colors? Could you explain their significance in your system?

Always showing both colors together for the Elements is a convenient way to differentiate between Elemental color associations and Zodiacal color associations. The GD color scheme is dimensional though, and is way more complex than mine (see my comments on coherence in post #5).
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#7 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 06:17 AM

Note edits in post #1, in the paragraph just above the second glyph (the one I created) in the post. Funny how an error like that can propagate and go unnoticed while writing.
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#8 ChaosTech

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 07:15 AM

Wow! Love that picture. The 72 Goetic demons, 72 angels, all under what planet and sign they belong, the four archangels and each element corresponding to the whole zodiac and it's spirits, supernal and infernal, inner to outer. The four elemental triangles of the hexagram, making a 12 sided star, within the unicursal hexagram, symbolizing God is both light and darkness combined. Ain Soph Aur. :)
[i]There are no gods but God, we know him through his order, his mind, the the miracle Jesus Christ. Give up most magic, give up enlightenment and or transcendence. No one can behold God, infinite is beyond, submit and know it creates and sustains creation forever. No true limit, no true death, no true nothingness. E=MC2, and gain and sustainability are greater than loss. The universe infinitely is expanding, growing becoming better and more immortal as are we. Resist evil, for it is an excess, ultimately a lie of true death. There is hell, as the Bible says, but there is choice! Choose wisely. Human origins, cosmic life, magical creatures, heaven, hell, earth and purgatory, many religions. Fascinating indeed, but in this world, no man was like Jesus Christ, and has the worlds largest faith.[\i]

#9 ChaosTech

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 07:30 AM

You could also consider the Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Qlippoth). The number being with Ain Soph Aur, 1+10+10=21 or 2+1=3. 72=9, 144=1+8=9. 72 was said to be the sacred name of God, which gives ultimate power. 333=9, 666=18 1+8=9, 999=27, 2+7=9. Thus from bottom to top all is 9. Counting from 0, or Ain Soph Aur, 1, 2, 3. and 4th seperah are immortal and the upright pentagram, spirit ruling the four elements, while 5th, 6th, 7th 8th and 9th seperah are mortal and the downright pentagram, the elements ruling spirit. Thus Spirit is timeless, the essence that is left from the mortal creation, and the essence which exists by choice, thus immortality of Keter, Chokma, Binah, and Tipareth before it fell from Daath, and pushed Malkuth down out of harmony. On a greater scale though, this is only the tree of life in examination. Really all ten seperoth are immortal, the Qlippoth mortal, and Ain Soph Aur timeless, it's essence dwelling though of what's left of the immortal and mortal realities once the immortals choose to surpass everlasting life in choice of Timeless existence, and the mortals die and fade away completely. Anything that exists leaves an essence. This essence is the most important thing to us Magi.
[i]There are no gods but God, we know him through his order, his mind, the the miracle Jesus Christ. Give up most magic, give up enlightenment and or transcendence. No one can behold God, infinite is beyond, submit and know it creates and sustains creation forever. No true limit, no true death, no true nothingness. E=MC2, and gain and sustainability are greater than loss. The universe infinitely is expanding, growing becoming better and more immortal as are we. Resist evil, for it is an excess, ultimately a lie of true death. There is hell, as the Bible says, but there is choice! Choose wisely. Human origins, cosmic life, magical creatures, heaven, hell, earth and purgatory, many religions. Fascinating indeed, but in this world, no man was like Jesus Christ, and has the worlds largest faith.[\i]

#10 Somniphore

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 04:30 PM

It was that sort of inconsistency that hampered quite a bit of my earliest developments, I think.

I began with DMK's Modern Magick, and inside that kind of book it's reasonable to assume that one would simply do the work given until it was necessary to progress, so there wasn't a lot of issue there. However, once I started acquiring other books (Regardie's The Golden Dawn, the Cicero's Self-Initiation, etc) I really hit a wall, so to speak. There are those who may critisize "looking ahead" when it comes to this sort of work, but I almost always try to get a general feel for the size and scope of what I'm doing, and within these pages, once it came to aspects of Magick outside of Qabalah and basic Elemental workings, I was at a loss - no chart or illustration seemed to fit or offer a proper frame of reference for corresponding work. I spent hours spinning wheels and reversing charts trying to make it work, all to no avail. It pains me to admit that I was simply too ignorant to realize that, as REL has most helpfully suggested, the problem was not my failure to grasp the material, it was that the material was internally inconsistent.

That may not be an issue for those who are content to read, absorb, and then practice what's instructed - these are qualitites of a good student, after all, however; throughout my life I've had great difficulty operating under conditions or rules that I couldn't make any logical sense of. In the Game of Life, as it were, I've had to make some concessions, granted - but when it comes to where I can more conveniently choose to invest my time and attention willingly, it put me off of Magick for some time. Skepticism towards the fundamental attitudes of Magick slowly became replaced by doubt, honestly.

I'm certainly grateful for REL's point of view and interest in sharing his perspectives - they've helped me to change my perspective on quite a number of things, and I've since had a far better time of adapting knowledge previously gained to suit a more consistent schematic.

Cheers.

#11 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 04:00 PM

View PostSomniphore, on 09 August 2014 - 04:30 PM, said:


I'm certainly grateful for REL's point of view and interest in sharing his perspectives - they've helped me to change my perspective on quite a number of things, and I've since had a far better time of adapting knowledge previously gained to suit a more consistent schematic.

I appreciate that.
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#12 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 06:01 PM

There was a lot of information provided above. I'm going to recap and elaborate before going on. Some of the information is repetitive, but I think I can organize and express it better than I did above. I should mention that I'm analyzing the structural components of GD ritual, and I've skipped over the Cab Cross section. That's specifically because I'm addressing the Zodiacal foundations of the symbolism embedded in the ritual at the moment. That's my primary interest here. I can address the Cab Cross section separately.

To restate a fundamental premise of mine: GD ritual structure is derived from the Western Esoteric Tradition, but it's not generic Western magick, and widespread assumptions that it is has been a long-standing problem in our community. For example, assuming that the surface symbols of the LBRP can be substituted with symbolism from other systems is, I contend, highly faulty, in part because the core symbolism of the ritual isn't in the surface symbols, such as geometric shapes, angel names, or god-names. It's in the ritual structure itself. What's more, that structure is Zodiacal, so understanding the ritual structure is to understand it in Zodiacal terms. The GD's specific use of the Zodiac is a primary reason that the GD system is divergent from other pathways in the Western Esoteric Tradition.

That's not to say that the geometric shapes and angel names, etc. aren't meaningful within the system. Of course they are, but they're layered onto the basic structure, where the core cosmological meaning is encoded. The surface symbolism is one source of internal inconsistency, but as I'll explain, there are inconsistencies in the use of the Zodiac embedded in the rituals well.

To recap, the first structural features I've considered are the choice to begin the rituals facing East, and to circumambulate the temple deosil. A point I may not have emphasized before is that each ritual describes a completion of a cycle by starting and ending at the same point. Completing one revolution around the temple in this manner encodes a particular Zodiacal alignment, keeping in mind that it's a tropical Zodiac aligned to the Spring Equinox.

The choice of East as the beginning/completion point aligns the Zodiac with the seasons, setting the beginning point of the Zodiac at the Spring Equinox, which is highly consistent with Western Tradition in general, but it's worth considering that other choices might have been made. Consider the seasonal cycle, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and it's canonical (temperature) associations from the general European point of view: a time of warming up, a time of hotness, a time of cooling down, and a time of coldness. Notice that these associative generalities can be applied to an annual cycle, but also to the daily cycle. At dawn a warming trend begins, at midday it's hot, at dusk a cooling trend takes over, and at midnight it's cold.

The choice was to fix the beginning point of the generalized cycle at Dawn, and hence East, and align that with the Spring Equinox. That along with the choice of deosil motion fixed the season-quadrant associations: East-Spring, South-Summer, West-Autumn, North-Winter.

I think the most common reasoning applied to the Elemental attributes of the quadrants is to assume Aristotle's scheme, and to distribute the Elements to the seasons by generalizing relative temperature and humidity conditions, which as mentioned above, also describe the daily temperature cycles. Actual climate cycles are regional of course, but for a lot of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, we can assume the Spring is marked by rain and warming trends (primarily wet and secondarily hot), while summer is primarily hot and secondarily dry, Autumn is primarily wet and cooling (secondarily cold), and Winter is primarily cold and secondarily dry. That arrangement gives us the order of Elements when promenading deosil through each quadrant starting in the East: Air - Fire - Water - Earth.

So, even without knowing anything about the tropical Zodiac and without trying to reason out why we might start ritual facing East, why we might proceed deocil, why we might inscribe a circle by our actions, or why the Classical Elements might be attributed to the quadrants the way they are in the LBRP, the basis of all of the attributes I've discussed so far is encoded. What's more, that encoding is structural. The fundamental basis of the Zodiac as employed by the GD is transmitted to the aspirant simply by having them address the East and bring Elemental Air to mind, followed by addressing South and bringing Elemental Fire to mind, followed by addressing West and bringing Elemental Water to mind, followed by addressing North and bringing Elemental Earth to mind, followed by completing the circle in the East.

Knowing a little more about the Zodiac layers more meaning onto that basic structure, still before any layers of meaning are added by additional dimensions, such as geometric shapes, god-names, or angel names. I'll get into that soon, but for now, the point is that the patterns expressed in the ritual are expected to reflect patterns in nature, big-picture patterns. The axiom, as above so below, is meant to be taken literally. The Zodiac is supposed to reflect how God ordered the universe, how one thing naturally proceeds from another, etc. Performing the ritual daily is therefore a means of aligning ones self with the natural order of things (or God's plan if you prefer). By my own way of thinking, it's my opinion that it's primarily about forming expectations, related to anticipating an effort (or effect).

I'll add more details on how the Zodiac is embedded in the base structure of GD ritual in my next post.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 10 August 2014 - 06:42 PM.

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#13 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 04:24 PM

To continue, consider this figure again, keeping in mind that the Wheel depicted represents the Signs processing deosil (which is the reverse of the typical depiction. The image is, obviously, not labeled by anything but colors.

Posted Image


The outer quadrants represent the procession of seasons, starting in the East and moving deosil to the South, West, then North (and of course a complete cycles returns to the East). The color scheme of the Elements is probably familiar and has become somewhat cannonical in contemporary magick and Neopagan practice. It's worth knowing that they're not particularly traditional associations. A longer-standing set of color associations with the Classical Elements is found, for example, in medical practice and the bodily humors conception and Aristotle's relative heat and humidity:

Posted Image

I'm unsure where the maker of this image sourced the seasonal attributes, but they do fit the Aristotean scheme and the GD arrangement (but again, the figure above does not index the cardinal directions). The main point, however, is that the most stable and widely used Element-color scheme in Western history is at variance with the most common scheme in use today, the GD scheme. To emphasize the point, Agrippa has a passage on Elements and color:

Quote

The Elements, also, have their colors, by which natural philosophers judge of the complexion and property of their nature. For an earthy color, caused of coldness and dryness, is brown, and black, and manifests black choler and a Saturnine nature. Blue, tending towards whiteness, doth denote phlegm. For cold makes white; moisture and dryness makes black. Reddish color shews blood; but fiery, flaming, burning hot, shews choler, which, by reason of its subtilty and aptness to mix with others, doth cause divers colors more; for if it be mixed with blood, and blood be most predominant, it makes a florid red; if choler predominate, it makes a reddish color: if there be an equal mixtion, it makes a sad red. But if adust choler be mixed with blood it makes a hempen color; and red, if blood predominate; and somewhat red if choler prevail; but if it be mixed with a melancholy humor it makes a black color; but with melancholy and phlegm together, in an equal proportion, it makes a hempen color. If phlegm abound, a mud color; if melancholy, a bluish; but if it be mixed with phlegm alone, in an equal proportion, it makes a citron color; if unequally, a pale or palish. Now, all colors are more prevalent when they be in silk, or in metals, or in perspicuous substances, or in precious stones, and in those things which resemble celestial bodies in color, especially in living things.

For me, this passage shows that the medically-related, and Aristotlean, color scheme encodes the actual Western Tradition, including their application to magick practice. How the GD choose developed their color scheme is beyond the scope of the current treatment. I mentioned previously that it's complex, and multidimensional, and will add, unnecessarily so and to their detriment in my opinion, I appreciate their motivations though. In theory, a magick system has to be complex enough to encode the complexities of the the world, of life, and the universe.

How the color choices were made aside, the reader can appreciate that the GD Elemental color scheme of the LBRP diverges from the dominant Elemental color scheme that evolved along with the generalized Western Esoteric Tradition, and therein lies a source of conflict for people trying to reconcile daily practice of the LBRP with other sources of Western magick lore and practice.

I'll go on with another source of cosmological conflict in the GD scheme related to the Elements and their color representations in another post.
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#14 Galuruthaz

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 08:24 PM

Quote

How the color choices were made aside, the reader can appreciate that the GD Elemental color scheme of the LBRP diverges from the dominant Elemental color scheme that evolved along with the generalized Western Esoteric Tradition, and therein lies a source of conflict for people trying to reconcile daily practice of the LBRP with other sources of Western magick lore and practice.


REL, I'm not going to make any comments before you finish elaborating your thinking, which I find extremely informative, but if it isn't a problem would you mind clarifying where does the colour come into play during the LBRP? So far I can think of archangels robes only, so is that it or does it get encoded somewhere else?
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#15 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:10 PM

View PostGaluruthaz, on 11 August 2014 - 08:24 PM, said:

So far I can think of archangels robes only, so is that it or does it get encoded somewhere else?

Questions and comments are always welcome at any time, in any thread in which I take part.

The color scheme is reflected throughout GD symbols. Depending on what you're doing, there may be Elemental Standards stationed at each quarter. For example, here's an excerpt from Kraig's Modern Magick, as part of his overall instuction for developing a personal, GD-like temple set up for daily work.

Posted Image

If you have GD-patterned Elemental weapons on your altar, they're appropriately colored and placed in their respective GD-specified quadrants:

Posted Image


You can find the color scheme reflected throughout the GD system:


Posted Image

I should point out that the coloring of the Earth quadrant in my Zodiacal glyph varies a bit from the Golden Dawn scheme. I have reasons for that but that's not the main focus of my current effort though. I will be willing to discuss it after I've gotten through my initial goals here. For now, the main point is that the GD has a color scheme for the Elements, and it isn't consistent with the longer-standing Western Tradition. That in itself isn't a problem if the entire system is internally consistent (I'll argue that it isn't shortly), and if the practitioner isn't trying to work magick from more traditional sources, or trying to combine the symbolism with other incompatible systems (like you are).

The latter claim involves some finely nuanced issues though, and I think it's not an easy thing to explain or understand, which is why I'm spending this time and effort now. You and I had this conversation many months ago, but the idea that what you're trying to do is seriously problematic clearly didn't stick. Maybe you'll understand what I mean better after this.
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#16 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 06:22 PM

A chief source of cosmological confusion in GD theory and practice that I've referred to so often in these forums, stems, not surprisingly, from the academic zeitgeist of the era. I particularly mean trends in anthropology and history during the mid-19th Century, and most particularly in comparative studies of the era. An exemplar, certainly the most well-known today, is Frazer's Golden Bough. The fundamental problem is rooted in an assumption that all spiritual drives and therefore all religious practices and institutions developed to serve a singular end. From that assumption and the drive toward coherent, unified theories, different cultural contexts were, in academic terms, assumed to be of equivalent value. That is to say, cultural context was assumed to be fundamentally unimportant.

To put that into perspective, imagine going back in time 5000 years and hosting a dinner party, and using the phrase, in a New York minute to let your guests know when dinner will be served.

By the early 20th Century, the academic tide was already turning against the comparative approach that was so dismissive of local contexts. I'd like to encourage readers to review this insightful paper, published in 1922, which nicely describes the issues I've framed, and the growing academic response at the time. It's also offered as my personal promotion of a solid liberal arts education for all occult studies enthusiasts.

To get back to the point, the Golden Dawn cosmology and its teachings were initially formulated during the height of the comparative era. and reflects that in their inclusiveness (to choose a kind term). It's worth mentioning that while the ritual structure came about early in the development of the Order, the knowledge lectures and teachings continued to evolve, even as the GD documents passed into the minor diaspora that followed the official Order's demise.

A most relevant example to the current discussion are the GD teachings on the Tattwas and related techniques, described by Regardie in Volume II of his Complete Golden Dawn System of Magick. Brief summaries and commentaries, such as this one, are easy to find. I'll let the introduction to this post speak to the problem with combining a daily practice of the LBRP with practiceds derived from such a foreign source, at the surface level, but in terms of the psyche, it's my feeling that this sort of thing is nothing short of a disaster, especially using symbols and a color scheme that is fundamentally incompatible with the foundational daily work. Expectation formation, the basis of intuition and how we emotionally relate to the world, is largely a function of what we experience with consistency. That's where the power of ritual comes from. I may discuss that in more detail in future posts.

I could add commentary on the GD's reliance on the Theosophical movement and Blavatsky in particular as a source, and could muse about how funny it is to see people here abouts rail against New Age ideas while promoting the GD as a solid foundation for magick, but I'll save that for another time.

For thoroughness, I will add that there were high level people within the GD and/or early GD-spawn that were against inclusion of Tattwa practices as part of official instruction, for its incompatibility with the Western Tradition (Regardie, V2, p41). The teaching was and remains a common part of GD development work none the less.

Obviously, it's only a problem for someone who engages in Tattwa practices, but its inclusion in the knowledge lectures in the first place is indicative of an attitude that informs the entire system, which as a result lacks coherence as a system of magick. As a system of mystical development, I've come to feel these inconsistencies are less important, assuming one completes the work to the highest degrees attainable. From that perspective, overcoming the internal conflicts that the ritual and associated work installs can be understood as part of the program. However, before reaching that point, the aspirant can expect GD training to render their life a hot mess a good deal of the time.

I'll get deeper into the Zodiacal implications of the LBRP and will start on the BRH next.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 12 August 2014 - 11:30 PM.

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#17 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 05:15 AM

As I've explained, some choices were made that establishes some of the fundamental cosmological features conveyed by the LBRP. The primary pattern I've discussed so far is the progression through the seasons starting in the East, which aligns the temple/magician with a tropical zodiac and the GD's chosen Elemental arrangement. A subtle but equally important pattern conveyed by the same actions is the daily temperature cycle, which coincides with the Elemental "temperatures" of the seasonal progression, thereby conveying the Hermitic maxim: as above, so below, or otherwise emphasizing that the Elements cycle the same way in different dimensions, of time in this case: a year, and day (if you ever wondered where that came from... just a thought)

That's all good. In fact, it's very good in my opinion. It's a coherent message (so far) that is clearly encoded by the ritual acts. Even without specific Zodiacal training, so long as one gets the temperature characteristics of the Elements, daily practice of these actions for long enough will embed those cosmological characteristics into just about any psyche, like it or not.

Interestingly, GD training specific to "astrology" was always sparse, and according to Regardie was dropped from the curriculum in favor of externally published books on contemporary astrology. Analysis of the LBRP alone might have suggested that the important characteristics would be transmitted clearly enough by the ritual structure. However, as Regardie discusses (also in V2 of his compendium), there are more than a few hints toward a non-traditional sidereal zodiac throughout the knowledge lectures: the lecture on the GD's Tarot being the most significant. Regardie also mentions papers that Mathers circulated sometime after the Order splintered that describe the system in more detail to people that were loyal to him. It seems possible in retrospect that issues of lineage were surfacing, and Mathers was looking to differentiate his line.

For me it's fascinating for a couple of reasons. First, a lot is made of adjusting for the Procession of the Equinoxes so that a given alignment among stars can be observed from Earth. In my opinion, neither practical magick nor mystical practice requires that. A zodiac is a functional indexing system. If it's a good one, it functions like a language, with a comprehensive (but fixed) vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Other systems can be just as good as a Zodiac and don't have to be (or ever had been) related to stars (a system based on Norse Runes, for example). Not everyone will agree with me on that, of course. I'm willing to discuss it further if anyone asks.

At any rate, two important points are...

1) a tropical zodiacal approach dominates European grimoiric application, taking the Spring Equinox as the starting point (Aries) and dividing the year into 12 equal segments and subdividing from there (almost certainly because of the mathematics of a circle);

2) a sidereal zodiac can't be reconciled with GD ritual structure, because Aries doesn't fall on the Spring Equinox except for an astronomically brief period about every 6000 years.

At this point, if anyone wants to argue it, the argument to make is that the LBRP doesn't really embed a zodiacal alignment as I have claimed from the beginning of the thread. I'm happy to engage that discussion if anyone asks. In the meantime, I'll point out that neither Mathers' or any other sideral system provides the precise aliments they claim, and they certainly don't divide the heavens into 12 equal sections. I say we divide things into 12 equal sections as an organizational tool. However, if we look closely enough, we can see that God didn't actually do it that way.

I mentioned the lineage thing above, and indeed,not all GD offshoots adopted Mathers' astrological perspective, and some do actively teach a tropical zodiac, and training in that tradition probably involves less internal conflicts, but no less variance with the Western Esoteric Tradition. I'm unsure what some of those groups do with the Tarot material. I don't want to discuss Tarot in detail in this thread, so I'll leave it at that for now.

I was going to address the structural features of the BRH in my next informational post, but I'm going to discuss key features of the tropical zodiac system a little more first.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 13 August 2014 - 06:15 AM.

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#18 Somniphore

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 01:43 PM

I'm wondering if this thread is an elucidation upon this quote from Crowley:

"Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise" — Aleister Crowley

I certainly got that impression shortly after I began working with the Ritual of the Pentagram after the fashion which you'd provided at the outset of Spring. I am curious, though, if you feel that the Sephirothal correspondences encoded within the LRP are inconsistent with a cohesive Magickal system utilizing Qabalah. Thus far, I've found no inconsistencies with the Sephira themselves, but that's without taking into consideration the Navitoth. Add them in, though, and the wheels on the Yetzirahtic Bus get a little too wobbly for me, at least for the time being.

Not sure if you planned to address Qabalah within GD structure, but that's what's on my mind currently. I'm looking forward to your post addressing the BRH also, as you had probably guessed.

#19 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 02:24 PM

I'm doubtful that Crowley saw things just the way I do, but inasmuch as he meant that the LBRP encodes core cosmological patterns, then I suppose so. A difference might be in the phrase, properly understood. I'm reasonably convinced that people don't need to understand the ritual to the level of detail I'm providing in this thread to be profoundly affected by its routine practice, for good or ill.

That's incidentally why I think other practices enjoined during training can lead to problems. And while it goes against my grain to suggest people shouldn't study whatever strikes their fancy, I do admonish early practitioners to avoid developing strong opinions, about magick, cosmologies, etc. I think the ritual has its maximal impact when there is minimal interference from alternative acts and ideas.
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#20 R. Eugene Laughlin

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:00 PM

A base-level understanding of the Zodiacal system in effect is necessary, both for the full impact of the ritual and for coming to understanding any systemic conflicts (and here's the money shot right here) between what the aspirant thinks at the surface level, and what the aspirant becomes at a base level as a result of the practice.

The basic idea is that the Zodiac is a processional, cyclic arrangement of something; or things really, but keep an open mind about what the things are or what they represent. The word forces may be appropriate, the word states may be appropriate... to think of them as spirits may be appropriate in a sense... let's just talk about things while specifying the organization, because here's the beauty of it: definition is a direct function of the organization. That should make sense by the end of the post.

Here are the main features in isolation.

A processional, cyclic arrangement. That means that all of the the things of a Zodiac proceed in a given order, which repeats from the beginning when the end is reached, ad infinitum.

Dimensional and differential progression. That means that two (or more) things can process at the same time but at different speeds (this will make more sense in a moment).

Hierarchical/dimensional and nested organization. This can be understood in terms of larger things and smaller things, wherein larger things are comprised of smaller components (things in their own right).

Dominion. Each layer of the hierarchical arrangement can be conceived of as a domain. There are two primary ways to think about domains that are equally valid and useful: 1) a domain is defined by it's components, or 2) the larger thing has dominion over the components within its domain.

There are two more conceptions that make it what is. First, a zodiac is a whole that is segmented into some number of equally divided parts (each segment representing a particular thing), with layers of subdivisions of some number of equally divided parts. Then, the grand conception is that the whole thing represents the universe of possibilities, anything and everything into which the magician can choose to assert will.

The first, most fundamental level of things are the Classical Elements. Their zodiacal order is Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Who decided and why that order was initially selected is not truly known, though there are theories. What is certain is that we inherited it, and we use it. Do note here that zodiacal order is not the seasonal order of the LBRP.

Applying zodiacal order, the first Sign of this zodiac (hereafter, the Zodiac), is a Fire Sign, the second Sign is an Earth Sign, and so on. The cycle of Elements repeats through the 5th to 8th Signs, then again through the 9th to the 12th, for an exact total of 3 cycles. In keeping with the key terms defined above, the Elemental nature of the Signs can be thought of as a dimension of the Zodiac. A second dimension that is necessary to define the Signs is called the Mode, of which there are three, which also process through the Zodiac in a given order. They are typically named (and ordered) Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. Contemporary treatment of the Modes tends to be quite cursory, but they are in fact a critical defining character of the Signs, which will become clear presently. First, recognize that it takes 4 Modal cycles to complete one course through the Zodiac.

The Elements and Modes process together to complete a differential and dimensional progression. The first Element and First Mode define the first Sign, the second Element and Second Mode define the second Sign, and so on. Because there are 4 Elements and 3 modes, there are exactly 12 unique Element + Mode combinations, as summarized in this common table below:

Posted Image

The Modes are in fact a function of the position of the Sign within its season, which should make immediate sense because each season lasts the span of exactly 3 Signs. The first Sign of each season is a Cardinal Sign, so Cardinality refers to the season in its ascendancy. The second Sign of each season is a Fixed Sign, the season at its peak. The last Sign of each season is the Mutable Sign, so it's the season as it wanes, making ready for the next season to ascend.

Now consider once again the glyph I presented earlier, which can now be understood to depict the Signs of the Zodiac in three dimensions: the Elements in Seasonal Procession, the Elements in Sign procession, and the Modal procession, which is now understood as the natural procession through the seasons:

Posted Image

The color scheme of the Signs in this glyph follows from the GD convention of using Rainbow order, which is nicely consistent with a processional scheme. Red is at the lower spectrum of visible light (assigned to Aries), which progresses toward the yellows, then the greens, the blues, and on toward violet. Because it's cyclic, the 12th Sign needs to connect violet to red, approximated by crimson (usually produced by mixing purple, red, and white). The colors on your screen are all very rough approximations. GD coloring was done by using a painter's skill at mixing pigments. True coloring could be accomplished today by adjusting the frequency of light reflected across the spectrum so that each color is an equidistant frequency from it's flanking colors.

That aside, notice now how the glyph depicts temple alignment according to the basic scheme established by the LBRP, and how the Zodiac is arrayed around the operator. Also notice that the Fixed Sign of each season is perfectly aligned to the compass points, so that when facing due East, one is (theoretically) directly facing Fixed Earth, due South points to Fixed Fire, due West points to Fixed Water, and North to Fixed Air.

The idea of two Elemental processions around the Zodiac isn't discussed much if at all (I've actually never seen it discussed the way I just laid it out), but if a tropical Zodiac is applied and the Zodiacal order of the Elements is retained, it's there like it or not. Ignoring it isn't going to help. The part of the human psyche that actually does magick won't ignore it!

How to regard the resulting Elemental combinations... that's worth some consideration. Take Aries, the Cardinal Fire Sign, which occurs against the backdrop of the seasonal Element, Air. For myself, the Season is the broader category, so Air, for me, is the dominant Element for all three Signs of Spring, and routine performance of the LBRP reinforces that. There are several options here, best sorted out by ones own intuition developed over much practice. One conception might be to think of Fire asserting itself through the medium of Air, maybe looking to imagery like a spark being quickly whipped into a raging fire by gusty winds, or maybe lightening, etc.. When considered that way, the Cardinality of Aries is also easily recognized. That's not the only approach though. I believe that level of interpretation actually shouldn't be specified, but should be discovered by the aspirant through practice and effort.

What the glyph doesn't depict are the continued (nested) divisions of the Signs (each occupying 30° of the Wheel) into Decans (10° sub-segments of each Sign), each of which can be divided in two for the Quinances, and on down to single degrees, to represent the days in a cosmological sense. The first two of those subdivisions are reflected in traditional literature as the 36 Faces (the Decans), and the 72-spirit pantheon of the Lemegeton (the Quinances). Subdivisions to that level are also best left to the ingenium of the practitioner after much experimentation, in my opinion, but after the grosser organization is fully internalized.

Onto the BRH next. Astute readers that are familiar with the ritual should be able to anticipate the criticism I have in store.

Edited by R. Eugene Laughlin, 13 August 2014 - 09:54 PM.

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