Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Triangle as the Magickal Gateway of the Mysteries

“The gates of Hell  are open night and day; 
smooth the descent, and easy is the way: 
but, to return, and view the cheerful skies; 
in this, the task and mighty labor lies.”

I have previously discussed how the Cycle of the Hero is also the transformative process of transcendental initiation, and you can find it here. The fact that the twenty-two stages which Joseph Campbell assembled to illustrate this worldwide mythic template also matches the twenty-two trumps of the Major Arcana of the Tarot was a major revelation for me. As you can imagine, I have found all sorts of uses for that comparative analogy. However, my next objective is to show how this process can be integrated into one’s magickal workings, thereby acquiring the ability to trigger the process of transformation.

Keep in mind that transformation is not something that can be thoroughly controlled or contained. One can unleash it, but then it finds its own resolution. Transformation is still something that occurs practically unbidden, but often happens to the candidate when he or she has surpassed and outstripped what was known and accepted, and enters into the domain of the unknown and the unexpected.

Yet if we are to ritualize this process of transformative initiation, won’t the twenty-two stages be kind of cumbersome to use in a working? Yes, it would be quite cumbersome, plus it has the simple shape of a circle that represents a cyclic process, but not necessarily a gateway threshold. What must be done to reduce this process down to its most basic expression is to make it into an effective operational ritual technique, and this is what I have already done.

There are four major stages to the Hero’s Journey, and these are: Call to Adventure, Underworld Trials, the Cosmogonic Cycle, and the Return. If we remove the Cosmogonic Cycle from this process, since it is more concerned with the world at large and not the individual, then we have just three stages. These three stages could be condensed down to three animated aspects - the Guide, the Guardian, and the Ordeal itself. Implicit in the Ordeal are the various trials, including the final trial, which is the Return. The Guardian can represent both the threshold guardian of the entrance and the exit gates of the Underworld. The Guide represents the various helpers who assist the hero in achieving his object, both before and even within the Underworld.

So the entire cycle of twenty-two stages can be reduced down to just three aspects - the Guide, Guardian and the Ordeal. Having three aspects is not a coincidence, since they are arranged to form an equilateral triangle, which I call a trigon. A trigon has many qualities, but chief among them is that it symbolizes a doorway. If we draw a triangle and use it in the context of a magick circle, then we are defining a symbolic doorway between worlds. This is why the ceremonial magickal focus for a Goetic evocation is a triangle, always placed just outside the protective sanctity of a magick circle.

However, because witches and pagans use a system of immersion for the basis of their magick, then a triangle of evocation couldn’t be placed outside of the magick circle. This is because of the fact that anything outside of the circle is part of the mundane world, not a gateway to the spirit world. A witch or pagan either has to adopt a ceremonial magickal system so such a tool can be used, or drop its use altogether. Yet a third possibility arises when the trigon is made a part of the magick circle, and this is the solution that I choose to use.

How would this be done? That depends on the direction and destination of the gateway. If we stand in the South and face the North, then to our left hand is the West, and to the right is the East. It would be intuitively obvious to have the underworld gate reside in the West, because that’s where the sun sets, and conversely, the exit gate resides in the East. I refer to the exit gate as the “gateway of ascension.”

The passage from the West to the East represents the passage that the sun makes during the night, when it disappears from view. In truth, the earth is spinning on its axis, but from the perspective of apparent motion, it seems as if the sun is traveling around the earth. Some ancient people, like the Egyptians, believed that the sun actually traveled through an underground passage under the earth in order to appear in the East at the next morning.

If we can accept this as a mythic structure, then the passage from darkness to light symbolizes the passage from sleep and dreams to wakefulness that human beings (and nearly all animals) seem to experience. It’s called the diurnal cycle, also, the circadian rhythm. It functions as the entire basis of both the transformative cycle of the individual and cosmogonic cycle of the material universe.

That leaves the question about the other two cardinal directions. What would a gateway aligned to the North or South produce? After some experimentation, I have deduced that these two directions represent the two extreme points of seasonal changes rather than the diurnal cycle of night and day. The Southern gateway would be the gate of summer, or the summer solstice, and the Northern gateway would be the gate of winter, or the winder solstice. These twin gateways could be construed as having to do with the powerful processes of life and death, so they would be important in some workings as well. For instance, I would imagine that the Northern gateway would be important for workings involving necromancy.

We translate the West to East passage in the magick circle by establishing a trigon within the magick circle, incorporating the Western Watchtower and the Eastern Watchtower as central foci for both gateways. That leaves the four Angles for determining the other two points of the triangle. The Western and Eastern gateways would have the following structure:

Western Gateway Trigon - Underworld Gate

Facing the West from the East -
Northeast - Ordeal
West - Guardian
Southeast - Guide

The guide is to the magician’s left hand, his most vulnerable place, giving him aid and protection. The ordeal is at the magician’s right, where he may face its threats and challenges from a position of strength. The magician stands before the guardian (his opponent), with his back to East, the place of light, so he may better face the revelation of his greatest flaw and weakness.

The three points are drawn together to form the gateway trigon of the underworld, with the actual gate threshold located in the West, warded by the guardian who must be overcome. Once the three points are defined and established, the magician proceeds to the Western watchtower from the East, and before it performs the opening portal gesture. Once the portal is open, he then turns on his axis and proceeds in a descending passage to the center of the circle, where the nadir is achieved in the underworld passage and the mystery of the ordeal revealed. That mystery invariably involves joining the darkness and the light together within the deep soul of the magician. (You can find this information explained in greater detail in my latest book, Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Greater Key, p. 79 - 81)

There is also a fourth point in the threefold structure of the gateway. This fourth point can be placed in either the nadir (infra-point) or the zenith (ultra-point), making the gateway a three dimensional structure or a tetrahedron (inverted or obverse). The fourth point in the gateway structure is where the process of the ordeal is resolved in a higher dimension of the self, which is achieved at the conclusion of the transformative process.

Eastern Gateway Trigon - Gate of Ascension

Facing the East from the West -
Southwest - Guide
East - Guardian
Northwest - Ordeal

Here the structure is reversed from the underworld gate, where the guide is at the right hand side of the magician and the ordeal is on the left hand, and the guardian is placed before one as before. In this scenario, the guide represents the powerful and transcendent helper who aids the magician in coming up out of the underworld. The guardian stands before him and blocks his exit because the underworld experience and its processes is incongruent with the normal waking world. It represents the greater challenge that the magician must translate the underworld experience so that it is intelligible to his waking mind as well as the world at large. The ordeal is behind him, so it occupies the place at his left hand, representing the menacing forces that he must leave behind in order to achieve the ascent out of the underworld and into the world of light.

After these three points are defined and established, the magician proceeds to the Eastern Watchtower from the West, and before it performs the opening portal gesture. Once the portal is open, he turns on his axis and proceeds to the center of the circle, ascending along the way until a great summit is achieved, where the light of a new dawn floods his being and symbolizes his awakening and total realization. The mystery has been absorbed and translated, bestowing upon the magician a powerful tool that gives renewed meaning and significance to life. (You can find this information explained in greater detail in my latest book, Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Greater Key, p. 81 - 84)

The Western and Eastern gateways represent a complete cycle; the passage down into the darkness of the underworld and then the ascension up into the world of light. A complete cycle incorporates both gateways, representing the fact that transformative initiation requires two gateways, or a double gateway.

The three or four points in the gateway ritual structure are ritually defined by specific ritual actions, consisting of a number of symbolic expressions and declarations. These can be as simple as making an invoking spiral at that point and a verbal declaration. More complex operations can use a handy device called a trapezoidal cross (skewed diamond), special talismanic gate keys, as well as a formula letter, word and one of the twenty-two Trump cards of the Tarot to act as a powerful qualifier. The declaration is often an expression of what that gate node means in the context of the ritual where it is executed.

Forming a gateway ritual structure in a magickal circle while using various layers of vortex based ritual structures has a particular affect. All of the preceding ritual structures and their intrinsic energy fields are pulled together and fused into union, where the expression of the gateway represents a resolution to a higher and unified magickal expression. The gateway, when it is incorporated, formulates a unified expression of all previous ritual structures, energies and any spirit that happens to be summoned within those energies.

This is a very important feature in the system of magick that I teach, because it is instrumental in the operation of invocation and evocation. Uniting all of the previous elements of a magickal working would pull together the energies (defined through four concurrent Elementals) and the qualities of intelligence (defined through all seven of the Planetary Intelligences) to formulate, generate and manifest the targeted spirit of a given operation. This is why the third and the penultimate tier in an invocation or evocation in my system is presided over by a grand gateway, known as the Gate of Revealing.

(I also use the sacrament from a magickal mass to quicken and assist in the process of manifesting the spirit, but that’s another topic altogether.)

In addition to formulating a unified expression of all previous ritual structures, energies and entities (if any), the gateway opens up and reveals the domain associated within those fused elements. In entering into the underworld gateway, for instance, the magician also enters into the underworld domain of the associated forces and entities that are encapsulated by that work.

What this means is that the magician magickally and symbolically fully enters into the magickal world of spirits and forces, experiencing it as a form of total immersion. So whatever is invoked or evoked must be dealt with fully and completely, since there is no safety zone or place of protection where the magician can avoid being exposed to an entity or forces and manipulate it at a distance. Therefore, a magician had better be prepared for whatever he or she generates in a magick circle, since the only defense or recourse is the godhead that is assumed as part of the preparation of the magick - the ultimate guide.

So the operational use and methodology associated with the Eastern and Western gateways is integral to the system of magick that I teach and work. It functions as a technique to unify the previous elements of a magickal working, and to acquire a higher level of immersion as it opens the magician to the actual domain of the spirit or energies generated. The gateways, when used together, can facilitate a form of internalized transformative initiation, depending on the mystery presentation that is expressed and activated in the center of the magick circle.

A gateway can be a trigon structure or a three dimensional tetrahedron, producing either an inverted tetrahedron or an obverse one, depending on whether the ultra-point or infra-point are used. Each of these tetrahedral gateways have a diametrically opposed function. The obverse tetrahedral gateway could be construed as the gateway to heaven, and the inverted tetrahedral gateway would be the very gateway to hell itself. This is, of course, something important to consider when working with these prismatic energy shapes.

Frater Barrabbas

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