MAGICK IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
Before discussing magical formulae in detail, one may observe that most rituals are composite, and contain many formulae which must be harmonized into one.
The first formula is that of the Wand. In the sphere of the principle which the magician wishes to invoke, he rises from point to point in a perpendicular line, and then descends; or else, beginning at the top, he comes directly down, “invoking” first the god of that sphere by “devout supplication” that He may deign to send the appropriate Archangel. He then “beseeches” the Archangel to send the Angel or Angels of that sphere to his aid; he “conjures” this Angel or Angels to send the intelligence in question, and this intelligence he will “conjure with authority” to compel the obedience of the spirit and his manifestation. To this spirit he “issues commands”.
It will be seen that this is a formula rather of evocation than of invocation, and for the latter the procedure, though apparently the same, should be conceived of in a different manner, which brings it under another formula, that of Tetragrammaton. The essence of the force invoked is one, but the “God” represents the germ or beginning of the force, the “Archangel” its development; and so on, until, with the “Spirit”, we have the completion and perfection of that force.
The formula of the Cup is not so well suited for Evocations, and the magical Hierarchy is not involved in the same way; for the Cup being passive rather than active, it is not fitting for the magician to use it in respect of anything but the Highest. In practical working it consequently means little but prayer, and that prayer the “prayer of silence”.
The formula of the dagger is again unsuitable for either purpose, since the nature of the dagger is to criticise, to destroy, to disperse; and all true magical ceremonies tend to concentration. The dagger will therefore appear principally in the banishings, preliminary to the ceremony proper. The formula of the pantacle is again of no particular use; for the pantacle is inert. In fine, the formula of the wand is the only one with which we need more particularly concern ourselves.
Now in order to invoke any being, it is said by Hermes Trismegistus that the magi employ three methods. The first, for the vulgar, is that of supplication. In this the crude objective theory is assumed as true. There is a god named A, whom you, B, proceed to petition, in exactly the same sense as a boy might ask his father for pocket-money.
The second method involves a little more subtlety, inasmuch as the magician endeavours to harmonize himself with the nature of the god, and to a certain extent exalts himself, in the course of the ceremony; but the third method is the only one worthy of our consideration.
This consists of a real identification of the magician and the god. Note that to do this in perfection involves the attainment of a species of Samadhi: and this fact alone suffices to link irrefragably magick with mysticism.
Let us describe the magical method of identification. The symbolic form of the god is first studied with as much care as an artist would bestow upon his model, so that a perfectly clear and unshakeable mental picture of the god is presented to the mind. Similarly, the attributes of the god are enshrined in speech, and such speeches are committed perfectly to memory. The invocation will then begin with a prayer to the god, commemorating his physical attributes, always with profound understanding of their real meaning. In the “second part” of the invocation, the voice of the god is heard, and His characteristic utterance is recited.
In the “third portion” of the invocation the magician asserts the identity of himself with the god. In the “fourth portion” the god is again invoked, but as if by Himself, as if it were the utterance of the will of the god that He should manifest in the magician. At the conclusion of this, the original object of the invocation is stated.
Thus, in the invocation of Thoth which is to be found in the rite of Mercury (Equinox I, VI) and in Liber LXIV, the first part begins with the words “Majesty of Godhead, wisdom-crowned TAHUTI, Thee, Thee I invoke. Oh Thou of the Ibis head, Thee, Thee I invoke”; and so on. At the conclusion of this a mental image of the God, infinitely vast and infinitely splendid, should be perceived, in just the same sense as a man might see the Sun.
The second part begins with the words:
“Behold! I am yesterday, today, and the brother of tomorrow.”
The magician should imagine that he is hearing this voice, and at the same time that he is echoing it, that it is true also of himself. This thought should so exalt him that he is able at its conclusion to utter the sublime words which open the third part: “Behold! he is in me, and I am in him.” At this moment, he loses consciousness of his mortal being; he is that mental image which he previously but saw. This consciousness is only complete as he goes on: “Mine is the radiance wherein Ptah floateth over his firmament. I travel upon high. I tread upon the firmament of Nu. I raise a flashing flame with the lightnings of mine eye: ever rushing on in the splendour of the daily glorified Ra — giving my life to the treaders of Earth!” This thought gives the relation of God and Man from the divine point of view.
The magician is only recalled to himself at the conclusion of the third part; in which occur, almost as if by accident, the words: “Therefore do all things obey my word.” Yet in the fourth part, which begins: “Therefore do thou come forth unto me”, it is not really the magician who is addressing the God; it is the God who hears the far-off utterance of the magician. If this invocation has been correctly performed, the words of the fourth part will sound distant and strange. It is surprising that a dummy (so the magus now appears to Himself) should be able to speak!
The Egyptian Gods are so complete in their nature, so perfectly spiritual and yet so perfectly material, that this one invocation is sufficient. The God bethinks him that the spirit of Mercury should now appear to the magician; and it is so. This Egyptian formula is therefore to be preferred to the Hierarchical formula of the Hebrews with its tedious prayers, conjurations, and curses.
It will be noted, however, that in this invocation of Thoth which we have summarized, there is another formula contained, the Reverberating or Reciprocating formula, which may be called the formula of Horus and Harpocrates. The magician addresses the God with an active projection of his will, and then becomes passive while the God addresses the Universe. In the fourth part he remains silent, listening, to the prayer which arises therefrom.
The formula of this invocation of Thoth may also be classed under Tetragrammaton. The first part is fire, the eager prayer of the magician, the second water, in which the magician listens to, or catches the reflection of, the god. The third part is air, the marriage of fire and water; the god and the man have become one; while the fourth part corresponds to earth, the condensation or materialization of those three higher principles.
With regard to the Hebrew formulae, it is doubtful whether most magicians who use them have ever properly grasped the principles underlying the method of identity. No passage which implies it occurs to mind, and the extant rituals certainly give no hint of such a conception, or of any but the most personal and material views of the nature of things. They seem to have thought that there was an Archangel named Ratziel in exactly the same sense as there was a statesman named Richelieu, an individual being living in a definite place. He had possibly certain powers of a somewhat metaphysical order — he might be in two places at once, for example, though even the possibility of so simple a feat (in the case of spirits) seems to be denied by certain passages in extant conjurations which tell the spirit that if he happens to be in chains in a particular place in Hell, or if some other magician is conjuring him so that he cannot come, then let him send a spirit of similar nature, or otherwise avoid the difficultly. But of course so vulgar a conception would not occur to the student of the Qabalah. It is just possible that the magi wrote their conjurations on this crude hypothesis in order to avoid the clouding of the mind by doubt and metaphysical speculation.
He who became the Master Therion was once confronted by this very difficulty. Being determined to instruct mankind, He sought a simple statement of his object. His will was sufficiently informed by common sense to decide him to teach man “The Next Step”, the thing which was immediately above him. He might have called this “God”, or “The Higher Self”, or “The Augoeides”, or “Adi-Buddha”, or 61 other things — but He had discovered that these were all one, yet that each one represented some theory of the Universe which would ultimately be shattered by criticism — for He had already passed through the realm of Reason, and knew that every statement contained an absurdity. He therefore said: “Let me declare this Work under this title: ‘The obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel'”, because the theory implied in these words is so patently absurd that only simpletons would waste much time in analysing it. It would be accepted as a convention, and no one would incur the grave danger of building a philosophical system upon it.
With this understanding, we may rehabilitate the Hebrew system of invocations. The mind is the great enemy; so, by invoking enthusiastically a person whom we know not to exist, we are rebuking that mind. Yet we should not refrain altogether from philosophising in the light of the Holy Qabalah. We should accept the Magical Hierarchy as a more or less convenient classification of the facts of the Universe as they are known to us; and as our knowledge and understanding of those facts increase, so should we endeavour to adjust our idea of what we mean by any symbol.