Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Circle And Sigils

The Circle And Sigils
In responding to a question about the spells I have posted here I realized that I omitted a couple of points regarding the performance of those and other similar magical workings. In "Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae" Aleister Crowley writes the following:

1. The student must FIRST obtain a thorough knowledge of "Book 777", especially of columns i., ii., iii., v., vi., vii., ix., xi., xii., xiv., xv., xvi., xvii., xviii., xix., xxxiv., xxxv., xxxviii., xxxix., xl., xli., xlii., xlv., liv., lv., lix., lx., lxi., lxiii., lxx., lxxv., lxxvii., lxviii., lxxix., lxxx., lxxxi., lxxxiii., xcvii., xcviii., xcix., c., ci., cxvii., cxviii., cxxxvii., cxxxviii., cxxxix., clxxv., clxxvi., clxxvii., clxxxii.

When these are committed to memory, he will begin to understand the nature of these correspondences. ("See" Illustrations "The Temple of Solomon the King" in this number. Cross references are given.)

2. If we take an example, the use of the table will become clear. Let us suppose that you wish to obtain knowledge of some obscure science. In column xlv., line 12, you will find "Knowledge of Sciences."

By now looking up line 12 in the other columns, you will find that the Planet corresponding is Mercury, its number eight, its lineal figures the octagon and octagram. The God who rules that planet Thoth, or in Hebrew symbolism Tetragrammaton Adonai and Elohim Tzabaoth, its Archangel Raphael, its Choir of Angels Beni Elohim, its Intelligence Tiriel, its Spirit Taphtatharath, its colours Orange (for Mercury is the Sphere of the Sephira Hod, 8), Yellow, Purple, Grey, and Indigo rayed with Violet; its Magical Weapon the Wand or Caduceus, its Perfumes Mastic and others, its sacred plants Vervain and others, its jewel the Opal or Agate; its sacred animal the Snake, &c., &c.

3. You would then prepare your Place of Working accordingly. In an orange circle you would draw an eight-pointed star of yellow, at whose points you would place eight lamps. The Sigil of the Spirit (which is to be found in Cornelius Agrippa and other books) you would draw in the four colours with such other devices as your experience may suggest.

That sounds like a lot, but it's actually simpler than it at first appears. The study of "Liber 777" is important for two reasons. First of all, when performing a ritual you want the correspondences to immediately leap to mind, which is impossible when simply working off a script. While it is possible to work magick successfully from a text, the better you know the symbols and objects corresponding to your operation the better your magical results will be. Second of all, knowledge of the correspondences will enable you to make your own personal adjustments to the scripts as they are written here. You can add appropriate magical weapons, incenses, essential oils, stones, metals, and so forth based on the correspondences and in many cases this will help to amplify the effect.

I don't work with physical circles very much any more since I have a permanent temple setup with altars at the quarters and so forth, but there was a time when I did. I often get questions about the best way to set one up, especially on a temporary basis. My personal favorite method is crepe paper. You can get rolls of it inexpensively in many different colors and it can be taped to the floor or a rug to in the appropriate shape. Traditionally a magick circle is nine feet in diameter if you have the space. Once you've laid out the circle, you can make the appropriate number of points around it evenly and set down the proper lineal figure. At each of the points of the figure you would then place candles, preferably encased in glass like seven-day candles. You don't want to inadvertently knock one over and set the crepe paper on fire - one downside of using it is that it burns really easily. You can use plain white candles or candles that are an appropriate color to the operation. For my rituals posted here, this would be the color of lineal figure, which should match the color of the hexagrams traced in the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram.

The Sigils from Agrippa can be found here. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see the Table, Seal or Character, and the Sigils of the Intelligence and Spirit of each planet. The Table is used to derive the Sigils but it is not generally traced on a talisman or ritual implement. The Seal and Sigils, however, should be. The Seal corresponds to the supernals on the Tree of Life, the Qabalistic worlds of Atziluth and Briah. It should be drawn in the King and Queen Scale colors. The Sigil of the Intelligence corresponds to the Qabalistic world of Yetzirah and should be drawn in the Prince (or Emperor in "777") Scale color. The Sigil of the Spirit corresponds to the Qabalistic world of Assiah and should be drawn in the Princess (or Empress in "777") Scale color. There are a few oddities, such as Sigils for the "Intelligence of Intelligences" for the Moon and Venus and the "Spirit of Spirits" for the Moon. As far as color goes, a spirit is a spirit and an intelligence is an intelligence, whether or not it is plural.

Generally speaking, the symbols should be drawn together on one piece of paper or parchment that will then serve as a talisman linked to the operation. For certain kinds of magical work, such as healing spells, you might want to draw the Sigils on your own body in the appropriate colors if you are healing yourself or on the body of the person you are trying to heal. In such a circumstance it is perfectly fine to use some sort of water-soluable marker for this since the Sigils only need to be present while you are performing the ritual. It you decide to use a paper talisman for such a ritual, though, carry it around with you after the ritual to maintain a contagion link to the spell or have the target of the operation do the same if the ritual was worked for someone other than yourself.