This article is Part Sixteen of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, Part Nine can be found here, Part Ten can be found here, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, and Part Fifteen can be found here.
Initiation into the sephira of Chockmah is the sixteenth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the second sephira is attributed to the zodiac as a whole, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of God Face-to-Face." The word Chockmah means Wisdom, which alludes to active engagement with the universe at a cosmic level. It is the active counterpart of Binah, Understanding, which alludes to receptive comprehension of the universe at a cosmic level.
The sephira have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.
"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess – you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."
This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.
Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated – most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.
As I mentioned last week, I am in uncharted territory here. I make no claims of attained initiation into Chockmah, so I am writing this based on my studies rather than personal experience. According to the A.’.A.’. system laid out by Aleister Crowley, the prerequisite working with Chockmah is having attained the grade of Master of the Temple, which in turn requires Crossing the Abyss and obtaining initiation into Binah.
If you wish to seek formal initiation into an order or similar tradition corresponding to Binah before working with Chockmah, that initiation is Master of the Temple or Magister Templi in the Thelemic and Golden Dawn traditions. But I have no idea if this is even offered as a formal initiation in any of the schools currently working. Beyond Exept Adept there is some controversy over whether or not ceremonial initiations are of much use, as Master of the Temple represents an entirely personal spiritual experience.
As with the Tiphareth, Geburah, Chesed, and Binah initiations, the presence of the Holy Guardian Angel makes much further discussion of the nature of the Chockmah initiation pointless, or at least less meaningful than it is in the lower sephiroth. The angel should be able to answer any question that you have regarding the path in a manner that is perfectly tailored to your own experience.
However, there is one point here which is a little confusing in Crowley’s writings with respect to this latter point. The Oath of the Abyss includes the point that "I will continue in the Knowledge and Conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel," but Crowley also writes that in Crossing the Abyss the Exempt Adept is stripped of everything including the Holy Guardian Angel. So which one is it?
As I understand it at this point, above the Abyss the consciousness of the magician and the Holy Guardian Angel merge into a single sphere of awareness. From that perspective, it is not meaningful to relate to the angel as a separate or independent being. However, when operating below the Abyss, the dichotomy is still in place. So while the Master of Temple has stabilized awareness of the unity of all phenomena, at the same time he or she is also capable of working with those phenomena on their own terms in the formative and material realms.
According to how I model it, below the Veil of Paroketh on the Kircher Tree of Life is the personal realm, or microcosm. Magick performed at this level is mostly psychological. Between the Veil of Paroketh and the Abyss is the transpersonal realm, or macrocosm. Magick performed at this level is more practical, and includes what most people describe as paranormal effects. Magick performed at the cosmic level is based on the full unification of the microcosm and macrocosm, and the extension of that unified comprehension to the universe as a whole.
Initiation into Chockmah confers the grade of Magus (9=2) in the A.’.A.’. system. Once this is accomplished, the task of the Magus is to speak his or her Word or Logos that sets in motion a new spiritual current. I’ll be discussing this further next time, along with some related Thelemic ideas like the procession of the Aeons and so forth. That will be Part Seventeen, and that will be followed by Kether, Part Eighteen. And at that point, this series will be be complete and span the entire Kircher Tree of Life.
Whether you’re taking up practical magick right away or pursuing the initiatory path right away, my basic recommendations are pretty much the same. First, take up a daily magical practice, which I discuss here and here. Meditation is important as well, especially for any form of mystical work.
In at least one of those older articles I talk about keeping meditation and ceremonial work separate. That’s a precaution that I no longer think is necessary. Instead, you can do a single practice session that includes both. Go through your entire ceremonial practice sequence, sit and meditate for about twenty minutes, and then seal your practice with a concluding Qabalistic Cross. It works just fine that way. The whole thing will take you maybe half an hour a day, not even as long as watching a regular television program.
And let me caution you about extending your practice – and particularly your meditation – much beyond that. Pushing yourself to meditate for hours a day will probably not make your progress much faster, and I find that students who try to do this against my advice inevitably burn out and quit practicing. Persistence and determination should be your watchwords here. Spending half an hour on this, every day, will prove much more beneficial than spending three or four hours on one day and then being too tired to do anything else for the rest of the week.
Keep a magical journal, especially at the beginning of your studies. Note your state of mind along with the date and time you start your practice each day, and note anything unusual that comes up while you are doing the work. You can also write down anything noteworthy that happened during the day. It doesn’t have to be especially detailed, but you want to have enough information to track your progress along with the astrological landscape and an overview of what is happening in your life from day to day.
And I realize this may sound like a lot – but it really isn’t. Add fifteen minutes of journaling to your half-hour practice, and it really only takes about as much time as watching a regular television episode. In fact, you don’t want your magical work to consume your life. That can create all sorts of problems, from lack of attention to your material situation and physical health to complete burnout. Even if you love doing the work, try to discipline yourself to under an hour a day, total. You can avoid a whole lot of headaches that way.
The initiatory path of illumination for each sephira involves two basic operations – a "Rite of Approach" and an "Elixir Rite." The Rite of Approach opens a portal into the realm of the sephira, and then employs the same methods I lay out in my simple pathworking ritual to explore what lies beyond the portal and interact with the Archangel of Chockmah, Ratziel. The primary function of this to develop a working relationship with the Archangel and other spirits of the Chockmah domain. When interacting with the Archangel, feel free to ask for initiation corresponding to the sephira.
You should recognize the core of the Elixir Rite right away, as it is similar to what we do during the Aries Elixir Rite. The Elixir Rite is a eucharistic ritual that involves the charging of wine (or juice, if you can’t drink alcohol) with the power of the sephira and then consuming it. This may or may not include a specific statement of intent. The function of the eucharist is to spiritually charge a material substance and then consume it, in order to take into your physical body the essence of magick itself.
The opening for the initiatory rites of Chockmah is the same as for my previous rites. You don’t necessarily need to create the sigil of the Archangel, but if you do you can go ahead and trace it on the Saturn kamea. The Saturn kamea is used for all three supernals, just like the Moon kamea is used for the spirits of Malkuth. For the Rite of Approach, we will be seeking out the Archangel in his own realm, and for the Elixir Rite he is being called upon to assist in the creation of the Elixir, not to fully manifest within the Table of Art. Note that as with the Elemental Kings, I say "he" in my text but angels can take any form they want, male or female.
0. The Temple
There are a number of different ways to arrange the temple for an operation such as this. What we do is place an altar in the center with the banishing dagger and invoking wand. Also on the altar is a containment structure such as the Sigillum Dei Aemeth or the Trithemian Table of Art. The diagram depicting the character and sigil should be placed within this structure. A small container of some sort for offerings may also be placed on the Table of Art. For the Elixir Rite, the cup goes within the Table of Art and no other container for offerings is required (since some of the Elixir is given as the offering).
If you employ scrying in your work, an appropriate device such as a crystal or mirror should also be placed in the containment structure. If you are using incense for such an operation, the traditional method is to place the incense burner between the scryer and the mirror or crystal. Otherwise, it may be placed anywhere in the space. Some scryers like to place a taper candle on either side of the device, and while I can’t say that method does anything at all for me, a number of others report good results with it.
Chockmah operations represent the entire zodiac, and as such any chart victor can be appropriate. However, you can still improve your results by employing simple electional timing.
Light incense, if used (Musk). Open the magical field using the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, Star Ruby and Star Sapphire, or the Field Ritual. The usual field for practical work is the operant field, with banishing pentagrams and invoking hexagrams.
2. Preliminary Invocation
Raise energy using the Middle Pillar, Elevenfold Seal (the "First Gesture" from Liber V vel Reguli), or some other appropriate ritual method as you may know how to do.
Make the Sign of Apophis and Typhon, raising both arms and holding them straight with an angle between them of 60 degrees, and proclaim, very strongly:
Thee I invoke, who art Universe!
Thee I invoke, who art in Nature formed!
Thee I invoke, the vast and the mighty!
Source of Darkness, Source of Light.
Then make the Sign of Silence, by standing straight with one arm at your side and placing your thumb or forefinger to your lips.
3. Tuning the Space
Perform the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram for Chockmah. Beginning in the east, go to each quarter in turn and perform the following actions:
- 1. Trace the Invoking Hexagram of Saturn in Gray while vibrating ARARITA (ah-rah-ree-tah). The Hexagram of Saturn is used for all three supernals, but with different colors for each. The Invoking Hexagram of Saturn is traced by starting at the top point and tracing the first triangle clockwise, and then moving on to the bottom point and tracing the second triangle clockwise from there.
- Trace the symbol of the zodiac in the center of the hexagram in gray while vibrating YAH. This symbol is a wheel that is similar to the wheel of spirit, but divided into twelve sections instead of eight.
The final figure being traced to all four directions should look like this:
Once you have returned to face the east, read or recite the unity chapter from Liber 963. Chockmah unifies the entire zodiac, and as such this chapter is most appropriate.
1. O Thou Unity of all things: as the water that poureth through the fingers of my hand, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot hold Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I plunge into the heart of the ocean, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
2. O Thou Unity of all things: as the hot fire that flameth is too subtle to be held, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot grasp Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I hurl me down the scarlet throat of a volcano, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
3. O Thou Unity of all things: as the moon that waneth and increaseth in the heavens, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot stay Thee; for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I devour Thee, as a dragon devoureth a kid, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
4. O Thou Unity of all things: as the dust that danceth over the breast of the desert, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot seize Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I lick up with my tongue the bitter salt of the plains, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
5. O Thou Unity of all things: as the air that bubbleth from the dark depths of the waters, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot catch Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I net Thee as a goldfish in a kerchief of silk, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
6. O Thou Unity of all things: as the cloud that flitteth across the white horns of the moon, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot pierce Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I tangle Thee in a witch-gossamer of starlight, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
7. O Thou Unity of all things: as the star that travelleth along its appointed course, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot rule Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I hunt Thee across the blue heavens as a lost comet, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
8. O Thou Unity of all things: as the lightning that lurketh in the heart of the thunder, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot search Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I wed the flaming circle to the enshrouded square, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
9. O Thou Unity of all things: as the earth that holdeth all precious jewels in her heart, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot spoil Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I burrow as a mole in the mountain of Chaos, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
10. O Thou Unity of all things: as the pole-star that burneth in the centre of the night, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot hide Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I turn from Thee at each touch of the lodestone of lust, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
11. O Thou Unity of all things: as the blue smoke that whirleth up from the altar of life, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot find Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I inter Thee in the sarcophagi of the damned, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
12. O Thou Unity of all things: as a dark-eyed maiden decked in crimson and precious pearls, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot rob Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I strip Thee of Thy gold and scarlet raiment of Self, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
13. O Thou Unity of all things: as the sun that rolleth through the twelve mansions of the skies, so art Thou, O God my God. I cannot slay Thee, for Thou art everywhere; lo! though I lick up the Boundless Light, the Boundless, and the Not, there still shall I find Thee, Thou Unity of Unities, Thou Oneness, O Thou perfect Nothingness of Bliss!
Amen, and Amen of Amen, and Amen of Amen of Amen, and Amen of Amen of Amen of Amen.
The space should now be tuned for the conjuration.
4A. The Rite of Approach
Begin with the conjuration of the Archangel.
Oh Glorious and Mighty RATZIEL, You who command and rule over the spirits of MAZLOTH, Behold me, and in the name of the same your God YAH, Attend and Appear before me within this circle of art! Full powers and wonders of the sephira of Chockmah do I rightly desire! Enlighten my understanding, encourage my heart, and manifest unto me now as I enter into and explore your spiritual realm.
At this point, vibrate the name RATZIEL repeatedly until the Archangel and the spirits of Chockmah are perceived within the Table of Art. If this is being performed as a group ritual, with everyone chanting the name together, it is helpful for the officiant or scryer to have a bell chime that can be rung once he or she perceives a presence in whatever manner. At the bell chime, the chant stops.
Then sit down on a chair or cushion and read the Simple Pathworking Induction out loud. If you are able, it is helpful to record the induction so that you can listen to it and follow along with the corresponding visualizations. Or, if you are working with a group, each person can take a turn reading during a series of rites.
Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Feel it flowing in and out of your body at its own natural rhythm. Relax your abdomen and allow it to expand as you breathe in, and contract as you breathe out. Feel the breath flowing, allowing it to sink into your abdomen and deepen at its own pace.
Visualize your body from the outside. Around it you see a glowing field of colored light arranged in four distinct layers. Bring your attention to the innermost layer, a field of light tinted with the rich green of earth. This layer extends only an inch or so beyond the boundary of your skin. As you bring your attention to this layer, relax from the toes on up. Then take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my body is at peace.” As deep relaxation flows throughout your body, see the field of green light becoming still and receptive.
Shift your attention to the next layer, a field of light tinted with the blue of water that covers earth. This layer begins where the green layer ends and extends a few more inches beyond your body. As you focus on this layer, pay attention to your emotions and feelings. Simply observe and let them pass, allowing your attention to detach from them. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my emotions are at peace.” As your emotions become calm and serene, see the field of blue light becoming still and reflective.
Shift your attention to the next layer, a field of light tinted with the yellow of air that covers water. This layer begins where the blue layer ends and extends yet a few more inches beyond your body. As you focus on this layer, pay attention to your thoughts. Simply observe and let them pass, allowing your attention to detach from them. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my thoughts are at peace.” As your thoughts become calm and clear, see the field of yellow light becoming still and integrated.
Shift your attention to the next layer, a field of light tinted with the red of fire that burns at the heart of the sun. This layer begins where the yellow layer ends and extends yet a few more inches beyond your body. As you focus on this layer, pay attention to the sparks of will that give rise to your individual sense of being. Simply observe and let them pass, allowing your attention to detach from them. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “my will is at peace.” As your will becomes focused, see he field of red light becoming still and distinct.
Visualize your body and the aura that surrounds it. Allow any remaining tension, stress, or worry to drain away into the earth, and as you do, see the field of ethereal light that surrounds you becoming more vibrant and harmonious. Realize that you are now observing your body, emotions, thoughts, and will from outside, and that you are more than just these facets of your personality. Take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I am.” Then pay attention to your attention.
Now, begin to focus on your purpose in this temple. We are alone in the temple. The powers await just beyond our sensing. We will now bring these powers to life in our hall. Nothing awaits us or concerns us but the Great Work, which we shall now continue as we explore the realm of Ratziel, the Archangel of Chockmah.
Visualize an idealized form of yourself taking shape out of the light in front of your inner vision. See your astral double standing, facing you. Take some time to get the best image possible fixed in your mind. Once you have this Body of Light complete, look around the temple space from the viewpoint of your double and notice first that you are surrounded by a blank gray fog.
As the fog clears, you begin to make out the astral form of this temple around you. To the east you notice a portal take shape out of the mist. This could be a doorway, a large magick mirror, a window, or some other kind of opening large enough for you to enter. You pass through this portal, and find yourself in the realm of Ratziel. Take note of all you experience here as you explore the landscape of Chockmah.
At this point, allow 10-15 minutes for meditation in the spirit vision, or longer if it be your will. Use a timer, to remove the temptation to keep looking at your clock, watch, or phone. When you are finished, the induction is concluded as follows.
It is now time to leave the realm of Chockmah. Take a few moments to finish your exploration here, and then turn back the way you came.
When you arrive at the portal, pass back through into the astral region of the temple. Stand in front of your physical body, turn around, and allow the Body of Light to merge back into your physical body. Retain all that has happened in vivid presence, while you quietly remain for awhile, with eyes still closed.
As you slowly merge back into the physical, be aware of your breath flowing, gently in and out of your body. Feel your eyes still gently closed and relaxed. Feel the movement of your abdomen as it moves away from your body as you inhale and back towards your body as you exhale. Finally, be aware of your body and the space that your body occupies.
Slowly bring your hands up to your face, cover your eyes with your hands and then gently open your eyes. Remove your hands slowly from your face, slowly look up and come back to the present space in circle.
Once you are back, stand and return to your place at the altar. Skip to Point 5 to close the rite.
4B. The Elixir Rite
Begin with the conjuration of the Archangel:
Oh Glorious and Mighty RATZIEL, You who command and rule over the spirits of MAZLOTH, Behold me, and in the name of the same your God YAH, Attend and Appear before me within this circle of art! Full powers and wonders of the sephira of Chockmah do I rightly desire! Enlighten my understanding, encourage my heart, and manifest unto me now as I partake of your spiritual realm.
At this point, vibrate the name RATZIEL repeatedly until the presence of the Archangel and spirits of Chockmah is perceived within the Table of Art. If this is being performed as a group ritual, with everyone chanting the name together, it is helpful for the officiant or scryer to have a bell chime that can be rung once he or she perceives a presence in whatever manner. At the bell chime, the chant stops. Then say:
O mighty YAH. To thee we present this talisman of our magickal will! I ask thee, Oh Exalted One, to receive the body of this rite into the light of thy presence. As we proceed in making this Elixir of Chockmah, charging it with the creative energies of MAZLOTH, we shall achieve a true alchemical ferment, mighty in Yetzirah and vitalized by thy blessing. In partaking of this Mystery, let there be unto us vitality of soul, increase of sight, true gnosis, and complete manifestation of the wonders of thy Sphere!
Note that the plural used here is NOT a typo or carry-over from the other elixir ritual. Even if you are working on your own, Ratziel will also be partaking of the elixir in the form of an offering at the end of the rite. So there will always be at least two of you present.
Make one clockwise circumambulation, visualizing a wall of gray light whirling rapidly in the same direction about the circle. When finished, the wall of light is allowed to fade. Hold the cup at heart level and say:
Creature of Wine who art established in the Sphere of Chockmah: by the vital force of my breath I enliven thee to perfect this work of Holy Magick in the realm of YAH.
Once this is complete, join or clasp hands and make two full circumambulations of the circle, corresponding to Chockmah.
Then raise power, visualizing a continuous spiral of gray light ascending from the ground at feet, whirling clockwise around body and ascending until it disappears above head. Hold this visualization, and vibrate the divine name once: YAH
The join or clasp hands and vibrate once more: YAH
Extend hands toward elixir cup. Visualize beams of gray light emanating from both hands and entering into the cup. When the cup feels “full” end the visualization, folding hands on breast left over right. Finally, trace the symbol of the zodiac in a horizontal plane over the cup while vibrating once more: YAH
Make one more complete circumambulation of the circle. Battery: 1 (that is, knock on the altar table). Raise the cup and say:
Behold the Elixir of Chockmah! For all and for each it is prepared! Let each and all receive its magick virtue!
Drink and then visualize or speak any practical intent. The cup should not be entirely drained. When finished, Battery: 1. Indicate the cup, which should still contain some of the elixir. Say:
Glorious and Mighty Ratziel, we make this offering unto you, that it may nourish and fortify you as you attend to your appointed tasks. Be the ferment of our spiritual alchemy mighty in the crucible of our souls! So mote it be!
The offering should be allowed to evaporate following the rite. However, this is not necessary. If it has not fully evaporated after several days, you can pour it out at any convenient outdoor location.
5. The License to Depart
Archangel RATZIEL and the spirits of Thy domain, because thou hast-diligently answered unto my demands, and hast been very ready and willing to come at my call, I do hereby license thee to depart unto thy proper place, without causing harm or danger unto man or beast. I charge thee to withdraw peaceably and quietly with the blessings of the great god YAH, and that peace be ever continued between us. So mote it be!
The ritual should be closed with the Qabalistic Cross.
A couple of points: You will need to perform these rituals multiple times before you can consider yourself "initiated" into Chockmah. Generally speaking, this is something that the Archangel can bestow, but he won’t necessarily do it the first time you ask. It depends on his estimation of your state of awareness or realization. He may also give you specific instructions to follow in order to make yourself ready for the initiation. And they can always be performed afterwards, at any time, as rites of illumination.
Especially in the case of the Rite of Approach, be sure to write up a detailed journal entry including all that you experience. A voice recorder in the temple can be helpful for astral work of whatever kind so that you can describe what is going on as it happens. You may find trouble getting into the right mindspace to experience much the first time you do this and that’s okay. Just use this trick: say to yourself "If I really was projecting into the astral, I would be seeing…"
You can test spirits you encounter by vibrating divine names at them. EHEIEH is a good general one, that dispels most false visions. You can also use the godname called upon in the ritual, YAH. If you meet a spirit claiming to be Ratziel, vibrate his name at it. If it really is Ratziel, the vision should intensify rather than weaken. Finally, obtain from the spirit a word of power, a number, or both.
After the ritual, go back and look those up in a resource like Sephir Sephiroth or Godwin’s Cabalistic Encyclopedia to see if the number or the gematria of the word is appropriate to the element of Fire. If it is, you most likely found your way to the right place. On the other hand, if you can find no connection, it is advisable to perform the rite again at some point in the future.