Monday, May 9, 2011

Secrets of the Power Octagon

Sherlock Holmes (shaking his head): “Elementals, my dear Watson, Elementals.”

One of the most useful ritual structures in my personal arsenal is the Power Octagon. It’s not only essential to my own personal magickal work, but it’s also the basic tool in the repertoire of the Order of the Gnostic Star. You might ask the simple question why is this ritual structure so useful, and the basic answer is that it generates the prismatic double vortices of the Elemental. So, the Power Octagon is useful in generating the Elemental, whether that quality is defined as an energy, spirit, or both.

Elementals are used in talismanic work as well as theurgic invocations and evocations. It could be easily said that the Elemental is the building block for many forms of magick performed in the Order of the Gnostic Star. This is why it is such an important part of the training of a ritual magician, since it is used so ubiquitously in the art of magick as practiced in the Order. The first ordeal that a newly initiated neophyte in the Order is given is to invoke an Elemental into manifestation, both within the temple and in an outdoor grove. Later on, considerations for the lunation cycle are integrated into this magickal working, making it quite effective for any material based magick that a magician might need to perform.

So what are the Elementals, you might ask? Are they those cute looking creatures that are so often seen in books on magick, where they’re typically shown looking like fiery salamanders, winged sylphs, fish-tailed undines and gnarly gnomes? They may be called elementals, yet they aren’t quite Elementals, at least not according to the definition that I use. They are elemental archetypal creatures, but they aren’t what I am referring to when I write about Elementals, using a capital “E” to distinguish them. The elemental archetypal creatures are an effective mechanism for manipulating the pure energy of the four elements, so my quip about them being “cute” was more an attempt at humor than any kind of dismissal.

When I am writing about Elementals, though, I am discussing something else altogether. Classical elemental creatures can be attributed originally to Paracelsus and his alchemical writings, but they have found their way into many forms of essential magick. These creatures embody the basic qualities of a specific element and act as a kind of mythological being associated with that element. There is also a supposed King, Queen or leader who has a magickal name associated with each of these creatures, but once again these are animated qualities for a specific element. What I am talking about when I say “Elemental” represents the first articulation of the basic four elements, and that is to be understood as combining or doubling the four elements to produce sixteen unique qualities.

An Elemental is operationally defined as the qualification of a base Element by another Element, or by itself. The qualities of these sixteen Elementals is that they can be divided into two groups, where there are twelve combinations of unlike elements and four that are a combination of like elements. Elementals are represented as the permutation of the number four, or four times four. Elementals consist of a base of any of the four elements, and a qualifier, which may be any of the four elements. 
If we define the base as representing one of the four suits of the Tarot (Wands = Fire, Cups = Water, Swords = Air, and Pentacles = Earth), and the qualifier as one of the four stations of dignity, such as Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses, then combining them together will equate an Elemental with one of the court cards in the Tarot. Thus there are sixteen Elementals (4 x 4), which are characterized by the sixteen Dignitaries or Court cards of the Tarot. An example: Fire of Fire is the King of Wands, Water of Fire is the Queen of Wands, Air of Fire is the Prince of Wands and Earth of Fire is the Princess of Wands. Each of the Elementals corresponds to one of the 16 Court Cards of the Tarot. With this correspondence firmly determined, we may use these court cards of the Tarot to further develop the magickal images and qualities of the Elementals.

Other methods exist for the determining of the quality of the Elemental, whether perceiving it purely as an energy construct or as a spirit, or both. I prefer to use the Enochian Godname Pair as the name and quality of the Elemental, which allows me to pull the entire hierarchy of the four elemental tablets of the Enochian system into my elemental workings. This could also include the famous Enochian Calls, which would be used to summon the Enochian Elemental Godname Pair, and from them, the four angelic gateways. I have found that the I-Ching can fit into this system, and also Geomancy. There are other useful source themes that can be used as well, which are only limited to the extent of one’s imagination.

An animal totem could represent an Elemental (such as four animals within a prism of four colors), as well as a pantheon of lesser gods and goddesses in any number of pagan religious systems. In fact, there are sixteen spirits in the Theurgia-Goetia that could function as elemental spirits if one chose to use them in that manner, half of which would be daemonic and the other half, angelic. A fourfold division and a matrix of sixteen cells has room for an endless number of variations. Still, the sixteen court cards of the Tarot is the perfect foundation for determining the meaning and significance of the sixteen Elementals.

The key to the ritual practice of generating an element, and thereby, generating Elementals, is found in the device of the invoking pentagram. I have already discussed this device in great detail in a previous article, which you can find here. You can also examine that article for a discussion of the ritual structures of squaring the circle, the pylon and the pyramid (all of which are found in the Power Octagon).

Yet if the invoking pentagram is the device that generates or invokes the energy of the element, then the octagon is the ritual structure that is used to generate an elemental. An octagon is two interlocking squares drawn within a magick circle, thus it doubles the power of a magickal squaring of the circle. An octagon ritual structure, when it is fully formulated, also contains two opposing pyramid structures, causing a polarity to be generated between them. Still, we should examine the ritual structure of the power octagon, step by step, so we can minutely examine and figure out how it works, and why it is so effective.

In order to make use of the Power Octagon, we must expand the basic magick circle used in Witchcraft to contain not just the four directions and the zenith and nadir in the center, but to also incorporate the four points in between the cardinal directions, and determine a midpoint between the zenith and nadir, which is called the meso-point. Expanding the magickal circle to contain these additional points allows the magician to practice a more advanced kind of ritual magick. Instead of six points in the magick circle, there are now eleven. You can also increase the number of nodes in a magick circle by expanding the number of points used in the outer circle, increasing the number from four, to eight, from twelve to sixteen. However, for the purposes of our discussion here, we will talk about the use of the four Watchtowers and their in between points, the four Angles. These eight points are used to define the octagon within the magick circle.

I have already written an article on the amazing and wonderful qualities of the vortex, you can find it here. Suffice it say that a vortex is loosely defined as a magickal energy structure that consists of a widdershins spiral and the four opposing Watchtowers or Angles being joined to the center. The Power Octagon actually contains two superimposed vortices, so in addition to generating an Elemental, it also generates the container that holds and amplifies it, all at the same time. A Power Octagon functions as a fused combination of both the Spiral Vortex and the Pyramid of Power, and in fact, it has even greater flexibility and utility.

Tools that are used to perform the ritual working that generates the Power Octagon are the dagger (athame) and the Sword, although one could also use the transmutar wand. The dagger is used to draw the invoking pentagrams and the sword is used to draw the lines of force in the magick circle. Additionally, a staff can be used to wind up the power and establish the vortices, although the magician usually needs a bit of head room to manipulate a staff, such as either twirling it over one’s head (with one hand) or holding it with both hands over one’s head and spinning in place.

The most simple version of the ritual of the Power Octagon has nine steps, although these can be consolidated into two basic phases. Here are the nine steps that can be used to build a version of this ritual for your own use.

1. Set the four Watchtowers with an invoking pentagram of the base element. Proceed in a deosil vector of the circle, starting in the East. When completed, draw the four watchtowers together to form a square.

2. Go to the center of the circle and draw an invoking pentagram of the base element to the infra-point.

3. Set the four Angles with an invoking pentagram of the qualifying element. Proceed in a deosil vector of the circle, starting in the Southeast. When completed, draw the four angles together to form a square.

4. Go to the center of the circle and draw an invoking pentagram of the qualifying element to the ultra-point.

5. Draw the four Watchtowers together to the infrapoint, proceeding in a widershins vector, starting in the North. (Establishes the first vortex)

6. Draw the four Angles together to the Ultra-point, proceeding in a widershins vector, starting in the Northeast. (Establishes the second vortex)

7. Stand in the center of the circle and draw the Ultra-point down to the Infra-point through your body. (You can also use a staff or a stang to do this action.) - both vortices are now in union.

8. Power can be imprinted with sigil or with a single intention (relative to the quality of the Elemental) or drawn into the body to be projected into whatever is required.

9. Resonate the power by performing a widdershins vector, circumambulating the circle three times, starting in the center and proceeding to the periphery. (You could also use a staff, picking it up horizontally over your head, then spinning in place in a widdershins vector.)

You can use one of the Enochian calls to help charge the energy before exteriorizing it. You can also use a Tarot card depicting the Elemental (one of the 16 court cards) to help in its visualization and realization.

So those are the nine steps used to generate an Elemental, using the most simplistic pattern available. One could condense these nine steps into just two phases; the first would establish the base element, and the second phase would establish and join into the fusion the qualifier. The base element uses the ritual points of the four Watchtowers and the Infra-point, and the qualifier, the four Angles and the Ultra-point. The Elemental is generated through the joining of the Infra and Ultra points, and this can be done with a staff, Stang or even just the body of the magician.

Now that I have presented the standard and most simplistic version of generating an Elemental, I can also talk about some of the variations that can be found in the ritual lore of the Order of the Gnostic Star. Certainly, the over loading of the ten points used in the Power Octagon will greatly empower this ritual, and that is what is done in the more elaborate versions. Some of the additional aspects that can be added to the ritual are found in the following list.

Special formula letters and words can be used to qualify the meaning of the points of the ritual structure. These formula letters and words are pulled together to build a unified formula word that functions as a keyword (i.e., compare to the GD Analysis of the Keyword in the Rose Cross ritual). The unified formula (keyword) is declared at steps 2 and 4 above.

Projecting colored energies into the ten points.

Giving the Watchtowers, Angles, Infra-point and Ultra-point a gender characterization, such as five goddesses and five gods, or five pairs of mythological personages. A magician can also use inverted invoking pentagrams (for the qualifying element) set to the four Angles and Ultra-point to further polarize the invoked energies.

Breathing and exhaling the base and qualifying elements into the ten points (taken from Franz Bardon’s techniques).

In addition, a further ritual structure or layer can be added to the basic Power Octagon, building a more three dimensional prismatic energy signature. This additional structure would represent a third phase or level to the already established two phases. How this is done is through the building of pylons set to the four Watchtowers, these are then drawn to the meso-point (in the center of the circle) with a deosil vector, and charged with the spiritual hierarchy of the four Qabbalistic Godheads and the four Element Archangels. This additional structure is actually a positive or solar vortex formulation (because of the deosil vector), set to the meso-point in the center of the circle. The establishment of the tetramorphic spiritual hierarchy and the erection of four additional pylons to compliment the central pylon (now with three points) generates the optimal polarity of the highest and lowest aspects, unified into a single expression of magickal power and spiritual materialization.

To recap the additional steps, the following executions and modifications would be added to the basic Power Octagon ritual structure.

1. Perform steps 1 through 6.
2. Set the following devices and declarations at the four Watchtowers while standing in the center of the circle - start in the East and finish in the North (deosil).

  • Draw equal arm cross above invoking pentagram.
  • Declare Godhead Element
  • Invoking spiral joins cross and pentagram into a pylon
  • Declare Formula Letter (optional)
  • Declare brief summoning of the Archangel.

3. Establish meso-point in the center of the circle, perform the following executions:

  • Draw equal arm cross
  • Declare fifth unified Godhead Element
  • Invoking spiral joins cross and middle pentagrams into a pylon
  • Declare Formula Letter and Keyword (optional)
  • Declare brief summing of the fifth Archangel (Ratziel)

4. Perform steps 8 and 9. (Step seven has been replaced by the above executions)

As you can see by the above examples, the Power Octagon can be made more elaborate and much more intense by adding further elements to the ritual structure, building it out and greatly empowering it. There are also other rituals and features that can be added to this basic Elemental working to make it even more effective. I will list and briefly define each of these other rituals, but I will attempt to explain them and how they can be developed in future articles.

An Elemental working, using these additional rituals, has three stages, which are performed at different points in the lunar cycle. These three stages are performed just before the first quarter, just before full moon, and just before the last quarter. These strategic dates used in the combined working will make more sense when we examine the lunation cycle and how it is used to work more effective material based magick.

Lunar Mystery Vortex - this ritual is used to lock a temporal signature to the elemental working. By adding the qualities of the lunar phase, lunation type, sun sign and the temporal location, the generated Elemental will have a context within which to operate. The lunar mystery vortex is used as the outer shell for the three basic workings - the Qualified Power, the Elemental and the Elemental Gate.

Qualified Power - we have already discussed the 40 Qualified Powers and how they can be used in ritual magick. In the more elaborate ritual working that generates an Elemental, the Qualified Power is used to build a greater energy context and refinement for it to operate through. Therefore, the Qualified Power would be set first before performing the Elemental Octagon to generate the Elemental, and it is performed within the Lunar Mystery Vortex.

Power Octagon - the magician would perform the Elemental Octagon just before the full moon, within the Lunar Mystery vortex.

Elemental Gate - this ritual is used to focus and project the qualified Elemental matrix into the domain of the material plane. An additional element qualifier is added to it so that is refined to an even greater degree. The Elemental Gate employs the four Enochian Angels associated with each Elemental, and it can also be associated with the sixty-four I-Ching Hexagrams (16 times 4). The Elemental Gate is deployed just before the last quarter, and is also performed within the Lunar Mystery vortex.

I believe that I have shown you just how versatile the Elemental working can be. It can be refined down to almost a laser like point of projected will, empowered and qualified with the tetramorphic hierarchy of the Four Elements. An Elemental working that spans a lunar cycle might seem cumbersome, time consuming and rather involved, and indeed, it certainly is, but it also has a profound ability to radically change a person’s material circumstance. The scope of this kind of working appears to cover all of the factors that a magician might seek to make manifest, from healing, to getting a job, getting restitution or justice, material assistance, finding a mate, energizing and inspiring oneself; the list of potentialities is almost endless. Of course, one should always consider the limitations of the possible probabilities involved in any outcome, but the possibilities, as defined by the vast array of the Elemental working, are quite enormous.

Frater Barrabbas

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