This morning I woke up earlier than I usually would. I got up, ritually bathed using a set of motions lifted from Hindu/Tantric tradition, doing the motions quick and concentrated on the water as the embodiment of the lustral seas of life, the mother-river.
I then gave adoration to the Sun, like I do four times a day, every day and have for most days of the past two decades of my life. The Abbey has a central atrium with a spectacular skylight (the main source of natural sunlight for the entire rest of the house), so I stand under it and salute the sun with secret signs and 2000 year old words I know by heart. I stand there a few minutes, bathed in its light, the source of all life on Earth. Materially, it is the one truest object in the entire physical universe that we could describe as our 'creator'; without it the Earth wouldn't even exist, and life would never have evolved. Magically, it is symbolic of the bridge between the Kingdom and the Crown, it is the outer expression mirrored by the inner gold of the Magician. It is the heart of the solar system as the Heart-center is the Sun of the Body of Light. Adorations given to it are not a prayer as such (in the sense most prayer is: an attempt at haggling with God), but rather a connection-making, between that inner Heart and the outer Sun, both representing the perfect symbol of the True Will (what could be called the 'higher self').
Today is a particularly significant day for it, because today is the Autumnal Equinox (in the southern hemisphere, Vernal in the northern), and today is the Feast of the Equinox of the Gods. 111 years ago, the old Aeon ended, and the New Aeon began; the World-Paradigm transformed profoundly and forever (although even to this day, there are many people in the world who don't know it and still live in the ruined shell of the old way of seeing reality, and there will likely continue to be so for another four centuries or so); in the old Aeon, my magician predecessors would naturally have looked up at the Sun and understood it as "dying" at the end of the day, and being "reborn" in the morning; as "dying" also in the winter, and being "reborn" in strength in the spring. The central initiatory formula would have been one of death and resurrection. But in the New Aeon the formula is different; the Sun doesn't die anymore, it exists eternal. Death is the illusion; but so, you find out eventually, are "you". The path is not to die and be reborn as a new but slightly different person; it is to unite through Love (which means Union) to what is divine, and for this you have to gradually Overcome what you imagine as "your self" to make room for that which you previously understood to be beyond "your self". It is the formula of evolution, of Growing Up. No longer are our gods our Mommy from whom we breast-feed helpless and dependent like an infant, or our Daddy who makes strict rules and punishments for us like a child. Now our gods are facets of our future selves, they are what we are Becoming. We are the teenager, about to leave home for the first time and forever, and become something we never were before.
I step into my Temple, which is also my Library (of magical and spiritual books, all the other stuff including games are in the big library downstairs). There I perform the Banishing Rite, a set of motions one female friend once described as being "like a martial arts kata", and words spoken and sometimes chanted (vibrated, in fact, like a mantra) in Greek, from memory. It's the first ritual most magicians learn (be it the Greek version, Hebrew, or both), the ritual you do at the start of any important magical operation, and that you practice regularly on its own in your early days of magical training, and use to learn the structural foundations of magick itself. It's a ritual I've likely performed over 3000 times by now.
I face the shrine, on a pedestal lies the Stele of Revealing:
The image is approximately a 2700 years old. I recite the English version of the invocation written on it, while adopting the posture of the long-dead priest depicted on it, who spoke those words so long ago. Its first line is "Unity uttermost showed". Once again, it's all from memory, I had first learned the words nearly 20 years ago to the day, on another continent, in what just now seems like another universe entirely.
Unity invoked, I then light incense, ring the bell, anoint Fire and Water. I mark myself with this impossible union in different points of the body, vibrating words, some which anyone could look up, some which are secret and known only to me: the name of my Augoeides (my solar-self), and the name of my Magus-self. The latter is known to some few, the former to no one in the world but me.
I vibrate the sacred words of the Aeon: LASHTAL, THELEMA, IAO, AGAPE, AUMGN. Then I open the Holy Books, to Liber VII, chapter 2. I begin to read it out loud. The Holy Books of Thelema are mystical texts of western magick. The particular selection corresponds to this date, to the start of the Thelemic Holy days, and the Equinox. The first few lines roll off my tongue: "O my God! use Thou me again, alway. For ever! For ever! That which came fire from Thee cometh water from me; let therefore Thy Spirit lay hold on me, so that my right hand loose the lightning".
The Holy Books, which were not written by Aleister Crowley but 'received' by him (over a century ago) from his own Augoeides (an experience I've also had, and can assure you that what is produced as a result is not in any real sense anything you personally can take credit for, your mind is not actively making it, it is just passing through you), are incredibly complex, full of symbolism and metaphor. They're so complex, in fact, that even most Thelemites hardly ever bother to read them (except for the Book of the Law, the most important of the holy books, which is also by a slight margin the most easily comprehensible). In my experience, most magicians want to do rituals to get stuff. They want cool experiences. And to anyone who doesn't engage in a profound long and patient study of symbolism, the Holy Books look like total gibberish (the word "gibberish", in fact, being borrowed from the name of an Islamic magician, Al-Geber, whose writings on Alchemy were full of secret symbolic language so that anyone who didn't know the symbolism would think it totally meaningless). What most of these guys don't get is that Symbol is the currency of a magician: you can only DO stuff as a magician if you understand the Symbols. The more you understand them, the more you can manipulate them, and the more you can achieve. This goes hand-in-hand with the "overcoming" I was talking about before, the whole initiatory formula of the current aeon; the more you grok symbol, the more your Consciousness opens up to a wider/higher level of Reality. You ascend the Tree of Life, and at each stage what seemed a big deal to you before seems small now, and problems that would have been insurmountable before, because you were operating your life and mind and being in such a small confined space, become easy to overcome now because you've opened yourself up to a much vaster playing field. The Holy Books are a magical crucible: understand their secret messages and inside you'll find the whole formula for performing Magick, and in the long slow process of that understanding you go through to get them, you will have created a spiritual discipline that lets your consciousness get big enough to let you use that formula.
Magick has been called the "Yoga of the West"; if so, then Thelema is the Tantra of the west, the Tibetan Buddhism of the west. Complete with most westerners watering it down and wanting to skip to what they think of as the 'cool' parts and not actually do the Work.
The chapter done, by now I am completely shifted, existing partially in the material world and partially on the Astral. I am in a Trance state; whatever was 'me' is not me here. I have contacted Eternity, and brought it into the Now. Microcosm and macrocosm have touched. Light has flooded into the Kingdom. As Crowley once put it, now "I and Thou are as they had not been".
From here, I receive the secret word of the Equinox, that will govern the next six months. I'd share it with you, but it is only for initiates. Sorry.
The word will express the spirit of the next period, but all of the above is a lot of work for an augury, even if it's a really good one. I mean, reading Tarot or casting I Ching would give you a lot more detail than one single word. But that's not the point. The point is in the journey; in the whole process of ritual that creates Change in you, and the more you put in, the more you get out of it. The word is a byproduct, a kind of sigil itself, something you can audibly manifest as a representation of the real work of Consciousness-tripping that you had done. And connected as it is to the Solar Equinox, this word will be a particularly insightful summary of what to expect.
I finish the work sealing the Holy Books, laying the dagger over them, and taking a step forward touching my finger to my lips. The Sign of Silence. It seals the work itself, closes off that moment of Eternity and shifts the Awareness back from Tiphareth to Malkuth, from the Sun to the Earth.
Where was I? Oh yes, Equinoxes and Solstices. They are points in the natural calendar of the Sun, where the day is at its shortest, longest, or most equal. These are times, since the days of our earliest ancestors, to do Magick. Most religions, consciously or not, still follow that route: Jesus was "born" on the Winter Solstice, and he Died/Resurrected on the Vernal Equinox; the perfect model of the solar-god of the previous Aeon. Most magical religions, movements, and groups of the modern age will also make use of these dates. Wiccans include the equinoxes, solstices, and the four dates in between each of those to make the "8 spoked wheel of the year"; a festival calendar that vaguely resembles bits of a lot of ancient pagan or folkloric practices without actually being any single one of them. In Thelema, the March Equinox is specifically and especially significant, since it was on the March Equinox that Crowley was first contacted by Horus (in his aspect of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, and through Crowley's Augoeides/Holy-Guardian-Angel Aiwass) and the end of the old world and beginning of the new world were declared. It was 22 days later that the Book of the Law finished being given to him; the book that provides the central formula for self-transformation of this new Aeon: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will".
While magicians will argue about other things, like just how much weight you need to put on astrology when considering what date/time to do major magical operations, pretty well all agree that the Equinoxes and Solstices are uniquely special time to do works, because they are completely mirrored in nature. The Equinoxes are the time to do rituals related to balance (which, as the March Equinox of 1904 proved, can also be the "balance" of ending the world, so don't think "balance" necessarily just means lovey-dovey), while solstices, being extremes of much light or little light, are times to do rituals for extreme effects.
That's it for today. If the above doesn't give you any fodder for your modern occult RPG needs, well, hope you liked it anyways.
Currently Smoking: Blatter Diplomat + C&D's Crowley's Best