sub figura CCCXII
with commentary from Sam Webster
|“The obeah and the wanga; the work of the wand and the work of the sword; these shall he learn and teach.”
L. AL II.37
Take pure wax, or a plate of gold, silver-gilt or Electrum Magicum. The diameter shall be eight inches, and the thickness half an inch.
Let the Neophyte by his understanding and ingenium devise a symbol to represent the Universe.
Let his Zelator approve thereof.
Let the Neophyte engrave the same upon this plate with his own hand and weapon.
Let it when finished be consecrated as he hath skill to perform and kept wrapped in silk of emerald green.
Let the Zelator take a piece of pure steel, and beat it, grind it, sharpen it, and polish it, according to the art of the sword smith.
Let him further take a piece of oak wood, and carve a hilt. The length shall be eight inches.
Let him by his understanding and ingenium devise a Word to represent the Universe.
Let his Practicus approve thereof.
Let the Zelator engrave the same upon his dagger with his own hand and instruments.
Let him further gild the wood of his hilt.
Let it when finished be consecrated as he hath skill to perform and kept wrapped in silk of golden yellow.
Let the Practicus take a piece of Silver and fashion there from a cup. The height shall be 8 inches, and the diameter 3 inches.
Let him by his understanding and ingenium devise a Number to represent the Universe.
Let his Philosophus approve thereof.
Let the Practicus engrave the same upon his cup with his own hand and instrument.
Let is when finished be consecrated as he hath skill to perform, and keep wrapped in silk of azure blue.
Let the Philosophus take a rod of copper, of length eight inches and diameter half an inch.
Let him fashion about the top a triple flame of gold.
Let him by his understanding and ingenium devise a Deed to represent the Universe.
Let his Dominus Liminis approve thereof.
Let the Philosophus perform the same in such a way that the Baculum may be a partaker therein.
Let is when finished be consecrated as he hath skill to perform, and kept wrapped in silk of fiery scarlet.
Let the Dominus Liminis take pure lead, tin, and quicksilver, with platinum, and, if need be, glass.
Let him by his understanding and ingenium devise a Magick Lamp that shall burn without wick or oil, being fed by the Aethyr.
This shall he accomplish secretly and apart, without asking the advice or approval of his Adeptus Minor.
Let the Dominus Liminis keep it when consecrated in the secret chamber of Art.
This then is that which is written: “Being furnished with complete armour and armed, he is similar to the goddess.”
And again, “I am armed, I am armed.”
by Sam Webster 7/91
This text is a description of the elemental tools of the practicing magickian and their construction and consecration during the grade work of the mage. Besides presenting an orderly way to approach the constructions, the text also provides profound clues to the ‘inner’ nature of the Tools. As such, this text admits of readings at at least two levels: the literal and practical in which a person in such and such a grade makes an object and a symbol, has an other person approve of them, and then, having done the necessary engraving, consecrates the object. This reading is most useful and practical. However, it is illuminated and given depth by the symbolism used in the construction of the object and in the symbol to be placed upon it.
As the footnotes will explain the most obvious and relevant attributions I will focus here on the correspondences between the symbols to be engraved and the tools themselves. First a quote from vel Magi.
“With the wand createth He,
With the cup preserveth He,
With the dagger destroyeth He,
With the coin redeemeth He.”
You will note that the symbol for each tool is to “represent the Universe”. The first is evidently a graphic, while the remainder, save the lamp, are a word, a number and a deed. Since these are unique to each mage undergoing this process, the relevant symbol is not merely a general symbol for the universe at large, otherwise the symbol would have to be a public one and agreed to by other folk. But the symbol is to be designed by the “understanding and ingenium” of the mage at the level they have achieved at the time. Thus the symbol is in essence a private symbol. Because of this, I see the symbol as describing the not simply the mage’s Universe, but the mage’s relationship with the universe as expressed in that type of symbol.
The verse quoted above gives us a clue as to the nature of the several types of symbols. Creation is the fundamental deed. As the symbol to be attached to the wand is a deed, we are being asked what it is that we would create? What will we do with our magickal power? What is it that we vow to accomplish every time we raise our wand?
This draws plainly upon the wand as symbol of the execution of will, like the scepter of a sovereign. It is because of the nature of a deed as an act that the “deed” is not inscribed on the wand, the Baculum, but must be performed “in such a way that the Baculum may be a partaker therein”.
But when we get to the cup the attribution of a number is obscure. Yet the verse aids us again. In what do we preserve things? In some kind of container. Surly a cup is a symbol of a container or vessel. A number partakes of this quality through gematria. By being the sum of the letters (directly or indirectly through any of the modes of manipulation like Arik Bakir or sundry divisions and additions), the number is a container for many words, thus many names and ideas. All of the words that add up to that number are, in gematria, seen as having a deep intrinsic relationship even though they may appear to be contradictory. It is up to the mage to unite the contradictions into the unity of that number. In doing so the mage is preserving the contrasts between the many things and bringing them into a complex unity of which the number is a symbol. Each word retains its own identity in the number but also achieves its fulfillment by being seen equally clearly for what it is not by virtue of the contrast with those other words of the same numerical value but of conflicting meaning.
What number, then, describes that which you preserve? What of all the numbers represents the confluence of those thoughts ideas words and names that are closest to your heart? This is your Number.
The Dagger as Word seems clear as breath, the air to which the dagger is attributed, is the conveyer of word. Yet there are also other principles involved. Word as Logos points to the ability of a word to let the abstract lie before us so that we may take it to heart. It is also the logic that guides our process of action. Thus it describes the structures we use in our actions. But the dagger is also destructive. As a word shatters the silence, so do concrete notions about our actions divide what we are doing from what we are not doing, rescuing them from the vague and amorphous. As the pen destroys the pure whiteness of the paper in writing, so does the dagger by cutting off a thing from another thing, giving it definition while destroying the unity of what was. Words in this same way say one thing and not an other, separating it out from the Whole of Existence.
By what means do you separate yourself out from the rest of existence, coming then fully into being, that you may offer of your self for the whole of existence? This is your Word.
The purpose of the Pantacle is shown in its name. It is not PENTacle, but PANtacle. Pan in greek means all. Thus it is most fitting that the image to be engraved upon the Pantacle represents the All. This symbol also serves for the mage as a coat of arms, or an official seal, does for a sovereign, or an officer of some organization. It becomes a signature or character by which the mage is known. Thus it is very important that this symbol is rightly chosen. It may also be important that the symbol be easily drawn, as it may need to be so quickly and efficiently, but this is a matter of taste and style.
The notion of redemption is yet to be addressed. How can the world be redeemed when nothing is lost or sold? To deem something is to value it and so to redeem something is to re-value it. This is obviously a matter of changing the nature of the relationship one has with the thing in question as the thing re-valued has not changed in the least. Through creating the symbol of the Pantacle the mage is will fully entering into a deeper and explicitly positive relationship with the whole universe. This is clearly a re-valuing of the whole universe, especially any part that had not been valued before. The mage is establishing a positive value between herSelf and the universe. How else would she have any right to cause change in it save from the standpoint of right stewardship? The Pantacle does this by being a symbol of the Whole.
In turning to the Lamp we are given the most direct clues that this text is not to be read on simply one level. We are asked to construct a lamp that burns without wick or oil, being fed by the Aethyr. Unless there are magicks to which I am not privy, which may certainly be the case, this can not be taken literally. Furthermore, if the text is to be of any use, the magick to which it refers must be available to the reader, in this case me. Therefore, after long pondering, I conclude that the Lamp being referred to is severally, the Lamp of Aspiration, the Lamp of one’s own Kether, and the Light of one’s Holy Guardian Angel. These are all secret because none but one’s self could perceive them. Nor, since they are of subtle fire would they need wick or oil, but are fed with aethyr, that is spirit, our will-to-do. Also, one can not teach another “by what name one’s God [one’s angel] may be invoked,” to paraphrase a traditional aphorism.
Then what of the “pure lead, tin, and quicksilver, with platinum, and, if need be, glass”? These are the qualities that are needed to ignite this subtle and secret Lamp. Lead is the discipline of Saturn. Tin is the Jovan great spiritedness, magnanimity and kindliness. Quicksilver is the Mercurial subtle and sensitive mind, uniting the heights and the depths, as Hermes does. Platinum, however I have not been able to find any traditional attributions for. However it being a white metal of the highest value, I would attribute it to Kether. As such it would represent the highest possible influence to be employed in the task. Glass has two real possibilities. The weaker to my mind is the attribution of glass to Aquarius, and thus to clear, fixed mind. Similarly, the path of Aquarius is the Natural Intelligence, thus perhaps indicating the use of “natural” methods to accomplish the task. However, as the bulk of the Earth’s surface is of silica, which when melted becomes glass, I suspect that Uncle Al is pointing to the need for grounding this process in Malkuth.
When it actually comes to making the tools (after all we just invoked Malkuth), there are two points to remember. A tool once made is our elemental tool only as long as we wish it to be. It can be superseded by one of better design or one that attracts our fancy in the moment. We need not be slavish about this. On the other hand, one of the principle values of the symbols attached to the Tools is that make the Tools non-local. Where ever we are we can do the deed, think the number, speak the word or scribe the (graphic) symbol. We are not dependant on having the physical object present. This is one way in which the Tool thereby exist “on the inner”. As for the others I will leave them to your own exploration.
All in all I feel this is a most excellent curriculum for the aspiring mage. Further I believe we should adopt it as part of our curriculum in the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn. One objection may be the type of materials used being difficult for some members due to their cost or degree of skill required to work them. However, I believe that every part of this description is symbolic and, if rightly understood, any one cognate symbol can be transposed for another. Thus the disk could be as well of wood, as wax or gold, and so on. The important matter is the process. An aspirant may use the time inside invocatory rites to meditate and seek the necessary symbol. This will further involve the aspirant with their process, I believe with good effect.
The one administrative question that comes to mind here, is in reference to the “approval” of the symbol by a superior. This naturally reinforces the hierarchical pattern we are trying to avoid. However, the aspirant also deserves what guidance is available in the process. For this reason I feel the aspirant should “consult” with her local hierophant as to the suitability of the symbol to the task so that the aspirant is not cheated out of the depths the experience might bestow by misunderstanding or mere lack of knowledge.