Book Club Post

The Doctrine of High Magic: Chapter 17

With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival.  Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here.  Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.

If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern:  the Knapp-Hall deck (unfortunately out of print at the moment), the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.


“Chapter 17: Astrology” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 151-158).


Of all the chapters in our text, none show the gap between Lévi’s time and ours more clearly than this one. In 1854, as Lévi comments, astrology was the most misunderstood of the Hermetic arts and sciences; today, after a century and a half of hard work by astrologers, it is among the best known.  Though misinformation abounds concerning it in pop culture and the astrologers who cater to the cultural mainstream, there is also plenty of solid and accurate information to be had from capable practitioners and writers on the subject. Times have definitely changed, and Lévi himself was responsible for much of that change, by encouraging occultists to revive astrology from the dismal condition into which it had fallen.

That said, Lévi’s comments about the profanation of astrology in the decline of the classical age are still relevant. The pop-culture astrologers just mentioned are by and large just as materialistic and just as superstitious as the medieval astrologers our text criticizes.  A good many of them approach astrology on a rule-of-thumb basis, without any understanding of the deeper issues that Lévi discusses. The fact that the more competent among them routinely produce accurate natal horoscope interpretations and offer good advice to their clients shows that even when approached in this simplistic fashion, astrology works.  The problem with pop-culture astrology isn’t that it’s wrong—it’s that it’s incomplete, and could accomplish so much more than it does if it grasped the wider world in which astrological forces have their place.

From the magical point of view, astrology needs to be understood using the same theoretical structure our text has introduced in previous chapters. The universe as understood by mages is awash in tides of that subtle substance that Lévi calls the astral light, which affects mind as well as matter and thus bridges the gap between them.  The symbolic systems used by mages, such as the Cabala, are manuals explaining the workings of the astral light; the Tree of Life, the core symbolic diagram of the Cabala, is a circuit diagram that explains how influences flow through the astral light from their source in the divine to their manifestations here in the world of matter. All such systems and diagrams are attempts to reduce the immensity of the cosmos into a form that the human mind can comprehend; though none of these attempts is without its flaws, all of them reflect important truths that can be used in practice.

One of those truths is the realization that everything is connected to everything else, and so nothing in the cosmos is random or meaningless.  As our text points out, one stone more or less on a given road at a given moment can determine the destiny of rulers and empires; stones, rulers, and empires are all part of a single immense pattern of interrelated forces, along with everything else that ever existed, exists now, or ever will exist. It is this network of influences that the astrologer seeks to interpret. Since the movements of planets and stars are no more random or meaningless than anything else in the cosmos, the astrologer can use these movements to gauge what will happen here on earth—and tolerably often, if the astrologer does a competent job, the prediction is correct.

Astrology is also a symbolic system as extensive as the Cabala, and the heavens at every moment set out a diagram of astral influences just as rich and complex as the Tree of Life.  The natal horoscope of a newborn child is just such a diagram. It shows how the centers of astral influence affect one another and the child, and how they and the child relate to the universe as a whole.  Understand the “networks of light” that dance from planet to planet and star to star, embracing the earth and everything else in their weaving patterns, and you understand the probabilities that will influence the child all through its life. Many other charts can be cast for many other purposes, for astrology is not limited to birth charts; there are many branches of the art, each with its own way of measuring the probabilities of the future. The focus on natal charts in this chapter reflects the state of the art in Lévi’s time, and to some extent in ours.  It does not limit the magical and divinatory possibilities of the heavens.

The word “probabilities,” which Lévi is careful to use in this chapter when talking of astrology, is important. Astrology does not reveal destiny.  The predictions it makes are always tentative and subject to change.  It shows the influences that the cosmos brings to bear on the individual, and thus the way the individual will go unless he or she has the will and imagination to rise above those influences and shape the future in a different way. That latter is always a possibility, and for the mage, it is a possibility that can and should be cultivated.  “The wise rule their stars, fools are ruled by them” is a common adage found in old astrological books, and it’s often paired with another:  “The stars incline, they do not compel.”

The probabilities shown in a natal chart can be changed by sheer power of will, but there are also other, subtler means. Our text mentions one of those in passing in this chapter, and will have much more to say about in the second volume on practice:  the art of creating and consecrating astrological talismans. Paracelsus, whom Lévi cites, was a notable master of this art, but there were plenty of others who drew on that same tradition. The method in all its details could be found in volumes written all through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and most of these drew on a source of which Lévi probably never heard:  the Picatrix, the Arab volume of astrological magic that communicated the magical science of the stars to European mages. Lévi’s understanding of talismanic magic is relatively simple compared to the version presented in many of the older writers, but as we will see, it has plenty to teach.

Lévi also realized that astrology was the result of empirical observations in ancient times. This is intriguing, because he lived before this was conclusively proved by archeologists. He surmised that the observations were done by Cabalists, using the Hebrew alphabet as a template for their star lore, and of course he was quite correct that old books interpreting the heavens in Cabalistic terms can be found in European libraries.  That wasn’t the source of astrology, however. We now have some of the vast literature of astrological observations compiled over three thousand years by astrologer-priests in Sumeria, Babylonia, and Assyria—the raw material from which astrology was born. Clay tablets covered with cuneiform writing and baked hard as brick were the standard information technology of the time.  Unlike our methods of storing data, those tablets endure:  whole warehouses of them exist today, having been found intact in ruined cities scattered across the Middle East. They were already old long before the first Jewish scribe adapted the Phoenician alphabet to fit his own language.

Lévi was correct, however, that palmistry and metoscopy both derive much of their symbolism and meaning, as well as their theory, from astrology. (Metoscopy?  That’s the art of divination from the face, and especially from the lines and wrinkles of the forehead.  It’s all but forgotten in the Western world today, though plenty of books on the subject from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance survive, and some of those are online; somebody could do a big favor for the future of occultism by finding a few of those books and reviving the art.)  Our text could just as well have noted that geomancy, numerology, and most other forms of divination are just as dependent on astrology for their symbolism, meaning, and theory. The old science of the stars pervades divination and occultism in general.

In the days before computers, on the other hand, the practice of astrology was tolerably difficult, requiring a decent mastery of mathematics and a good collection of tables allowing the positions of the planets and house cusps to be worked out. Back in Lévi’s time, things were more difficult still, because the books of tables and the ephemerides that astrologers had at their disposal by the end of the 19th century had not yet been compiled; it’s one thing to calculate a horoscope when you’ve got tables of logarithms and house tables designed for that purpose, and quite another to do it when what you’ve got is pen, paper, and your own mathematical chops.  When our text notes that it’s necessary for the birth chart to be worked out by “a true adept in astrology,” this latter kind of skill is what it’s talking about.

Until quite recently, as a result, plenty of people who were interested in divination but weren’t up to spherical trigonometry made use of other divinatory systems derived from astrology, such as palmistry and geomancy, or simplified methods of deriving astrological predictions, of the kind that folklorists today call “folk astrology.”  The method that Lévi borrowed from Girolamo Cardano and presented in this chapter is a good example.  Cardano’s method relies on some of the more reliable astrological cycles—for example, the 12-year orbit of Jupiter and the 30-year orbit of Saturn—to generate a rough and ready yearly prediction.  Give it a try; you’ll find that it’s tolerably effective, though a properly progressed horoscope will give you much more detail and more useful guidance.

In the last pages of this chapter Lévi moves into deeper and stranger territory. Without much of a transition, he begins talking about life after death in terms that will be very familiar to anyone who knows their way around classical Graeco-Egyptian Hermeticism and quite the opposite to those who don’t. The spiritual movement in Roman times that took Hermes Trismegistus for its spiritual guide shared many ideas in common with the Gnostics, that strange and polymorphous phenomenon of late classical times.  The Hermeticists, like the Gnostics, believed that human souls were trapped in the material world by the forces of the planets, and had to rise above the planetary realm in order to return to its home among the stars, or be reborn in a new material body in order to try again.  You can read the details in the Poimandres, the first treatise of the Corpus Hermeticum, the surviving collection of Hermetic documents from ancient times.

Lévi here embraces that ancient vision of human destiny, and updates it in terms of his own cosmology of the astral light, will, and imagination. What holds human souls trapped in material incarnations, in this version, is the denser and more corrupt aspect of the astral light. As our text has explained in detail already, the astral light is both good and evil, the vehicle of divine light and the vehicle of diabolic confusion and folly; when we interact with the astral light, we do so on whatever subplane of the astral realm corresponds to our own spiritual state.  This is true in life, but as our text points out here, it is even more true in death; the souls of the dead naturally gravitate to their own proper place in the astral realm, which is therefore heaven, purgatory, and hell, depending on the condition of the soul and the subplane to which it goes.

Is Lévi presenting this vision as the unalloyed truth about the soul and its destiny?  Not at all. He is too subtle and too nimble to hand down dogma. “Such is the great and sublime revelation of the mages,” he says, and leaves it at that. In the language of a later occultist, such mythic narratives are meant to train the mind, not to inform it.

Notes for Study and Practice:

It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.

The method of meditation I am teaching as we read Lévi is one that is implicit in his text, and was developed in various ways by later occultists following in his footsteps.  It is a simple and very safe method, suitable for complete beginners but not without benefits for more experienced practitioners.  It will take you five minutes a day.  Its requirements are a comfortable chair, your copy of Lévi’s book, and a tarot deck of one of the varieties discussed earlier.

For your work on this chapter, take Trump XVII, “L’Etoile.”  Your first task is to study it and get familiar with the imagery. Sit down, get out the card, and study it.  Spend five minutes doing this on the first day you devote to this practice.

Your second task is to associate a letter with it. Lévi gives you two options, the Hebrew letter פ (Peh) or the Latin letter R. As noted earlier, you should choose one alphabet and stick to it. The sound values aren’t of any importance here, nor is there a “right” choice. You’re assigning labels to a mental filing cabinet.  Most people can make the necessary association quite promptly, but spend a session exploring it. Sit down, get out the card, and study it.  Relate it to the letter in any way that comes to mind.

The third through fifth sessions are devoted to the titles Lévi gives for the card: Stella, Os, and Inflexus. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. How does Stella, “star,” relate to the imagery on the card and the letter you’ve chosen?  That’s one session.  How about Os, “mouth”?  How about Inflexus, “bent”?   Approach these in the same way as the concepts you explored in earlier meditations.

Don’t worry about getting the wrong answer.  There are no wrong answers in meditation.  Your goal is to learn how to work with certain capacities of will and imagination most people never develop.  Stray thoughts, strange fancies, and whimsical notions do this as well as anything.

Sessions six through the end of the month are done exactly the same way, except that you take the concepts from the chapter. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Then open the book to Chapter 17 of the Doctrine and find something in it that interests you.  Spend five minutes figuring out how it relates to the imagery on the card, the letter, and the three titles. Do the same thing with a different passage the next day, and the day after, and so on. If you run out of material for meditation in this chapter, you can certainly go back to the previous chapters and review what they have to say.

Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice.  You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the card you’re working on takes on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality:  a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation.  It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it?  Don’t worry.  Sit down, get out the card, and study it. Do the practice and see where it takes you.

We’ll be going on to “Chapter 18:  Potions and Spells,” on November 9, 2022. See you then!


  1. @JMG

    What a pleasant coincidence indeed – I was thinking of using this week’s post (as it’s on occultism) to ask you a question I had about astrology, and this post is exactly about that! Anyways, my question is simply this: which book would you recommend on astrology for the mathematically minded? I’ve been thinking about how astrological predictions are like the basins of attraction that frequently come up in the qualitative theory of differential equations; hence, I’d like to explore this from the differential equations POV. However, my knowledge of astrology is precisely zero, so I will obviously need to get a hang of the basics of the subject. Also, I would prefer a book which discusses Western astrology for two reasons – 1) most Indian astrologers are frauds (so you can never be sure whether what you’re learning is true or not), and 2) Western astrology incorporates the planets Uranus and Neptune (not sure about Pluto), unlike traditional Indian astrology. I’d particularly appreciate a book that I can legally download from

    Also, I’d just like to add a bit to the historical information you shared about the beginnings of astrology – while Western astrology may have begun with the Sumerians, India and China developed their respective astrological traditions independently. Most Western Indologists are of the view that Vedic astrology was derived from the Babylonians and later the Greeks, while several people on the Indic side are of the view that it flowed the other way. I am personally of the view that the development of different astrological traditions is another example of convergent evolution; while India did assimilate Hellenic influences in astrology, the tradition as a whole is of Vedic origin.

    Regarding the mathematics required to do astrology, I have a feeling that one of the professions that will salvage at least some of modern mathematics through the Long Descent is astrology. I can imagine a mathematician-cum-astrologer in a future civilization writing down equations to model the effects of the celestial bodies, and simulating them on a hydraulic computer:).

  2. Good stuff and well articulated. I suspect the chief distinction between the materialist fundamentalist worldview of our time and the magical worldview is the belief that consciousness and its contents “emerge” from matter, as a house is built from bricks, whereas the magical view is that matter and the things of the physical world are “downstream” from phenomena on the “inner” planes. This to me is likely the biggest obstacle for those who can’t take astrology seriously.

    “Probabilities” is particularly useful here, especially given the quantum approach to physics of much of science these days.


  3. Viduraawakened, I haven’t looked into the mathematical dimensions of astrology — I can cast a chart without a computer, using an ephemeris and a book of tables, but it’s not my idea of fun. Hopefully one of my other readers can point you to something. As for the origins of Vedic astrology, I’ve thought for a long time that all four of the great traditions of astrology (Western, Indian, Chinese, and Mayan) had independent origins, though India and the Mediterranean world had a lot of cultural interactions in ancient times and so there was doubtless some borrowing each way.

    Fra’ Lupo, exactly. Believers in modern materialism can only think of mind and spirit as epiphenomena of matter — and that belief remains stuck in place even after Kant showed that “matter” is an epiphenomenon of consciousness, and modern physics showed that the material world as we perceive it has nothing in common with the physical world as it actually exists.

  4. Hello Brother Greer,

    I have been listening to the audiobook of Doctrine and Ritual of High Magick and I’m also in BOTA, but if you don’t mind, today I’d really like to ask you about Pluto.

    Since reading Twilight of Pluto, I was turned onto another book by Rhys Navarro called Pluto Generations, which goes somewhat further in describing recent generations relative to Pluto in each sign. It was actually hilarious to me when it talked about Millennials from 1985-1995, because we (I was born in March of ’85) have Pluto in Scorpio, we were born into the Satanic Panic, and we are more likely to be interested in the occult. *Laughs in Pisces.*

    Additionally, for what it’s worth, there are some seething remarks in there about Trump which were kinda funny… This could almost be set aside, but Navarro also describes a future with Pluto in Aquarius, wherein there is the possibility of a socialist police state. This is obviously concerning, and as Navarro spends many pages describing previous generations from some 200 years ago, long before before its precovery by Percival Lowell, Navarro also does not suggest or ever bring up a decline in Pluto’s effects in the years after its reclassification in 2006.

    So, I humbly ask you my brother, have you read this book? What are your thoughts on this, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Keep up the Great Work as always!

    Respectfully submitted,

  5. Hello. Lets not forget that the physical world is itself a model created by our minds based on sensory data itself based on interactions between an unknowable reality and our senses…everything we sense and know are epiphenomenons of consciousness. Right now modern science is making the delusional mistake that quantum physics is ultimate reality….try making hard core materialists get out of that trance. Good luck.

  6. Thank you for another interesting post. If I may: what is the purpose of assigning letters to the tarot cards?

  7. Wise and ever-energetic Archdruid, this Levi study is bringing me more than I initially expected. It’s fascinating to me to see the tendrils of 19th-century thought woven throughout this text we’re studying. Discoveries abound; for instance, I would have guessed the opposite about the knowledge of astrology extant in Levi’s time, expecting him to know MORE about the ancient practices rather than less!

    Something you said in your commentary resonated with a saying I’m fond of by John Muir, who stated: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” Now Muir was, in his own non-showy Scottish way, a little bit of a mystic, but it’s amusing, and pleasing to me, to see you and Muir and Levi all echoing a similar refrain.


  8. Regarding metoscopy, what influence does the trend for botox and other cosmetic surgical procedures have on the person who’s features are being read? I hazard a similar question can be made for someone who develops scars from wounds of their hands.

    Also, in the card image, what is that W shaped symbol with the circle on its central apex?

    Viduraawakened, you could start with old nautical books that deal with determining the positions of the Sun and Moon to derive from them one’s position on earth. Since the planets move about on the ecliptic, the same methodology is used to derive the position of the relative points such as sign borders and the position of the house cups, ascendant, medium coeli, descendent. Bowditch is old standard of Naval navigation. These days, the literature is found among aficionados of sextant navigation, the folks at have an extensive collection of literature.

    Programming wise, you could explore the mathematical guts of electronic alt-azimuth telescope mounts, so called digital setting circles. For a given planet, you transform its position in terms of azimuthal bearing and altitude into celestial coordinates of Right Ascension and Declination (imagine the sidereal sphere projected as a globe with coordinates of Longitude and Latitude), and from there transform those coordinates to ecliptic coordinates (imagine the ecliptic as the equator of a celestial sphere, with coordinates of zodiacal position and declination).

    For older literature, explore the methods that Tycho and Kepler used to develop the ephermirides of the planets, which is quite tedious given their dependence on meridonal observations, imagine tables upon tables being compiled of “planet x crossed the meridian at y time and at z angle from the horizon”, and building models for predicting planetary positions.

    Note that these are pretelescopic methods, with a telescope, the moons of Jupiter are the minute chronocators, observe their movements, derive their periodicity, and get highly accurate timing data. Uranus and Neptune become visible, and their positions tracked.

    For us folks without all that fancy equipment, a sky chart of ecliptic straddling stars with their zodiacal positions marked out, and measuring out the relative distances by handspans and fingerspans between planets and planets and planets and zodiacal stars, a good guide on measuring the angle between the sun and moon by the lunar phase, and a clock, one should be able to work out to a healthy degree of accuracy a horoscope with a good look at the sky. The literature for that can be found by way of beginners amateur astronomy books, Nightwatch by Terence Dickenson is my go to, but The Star Finder Book by David Burch has a lot of discussion on the positional topic by way of celestial navigation.

  9. Bro. Pike, no, I haven’t read the book in question. I mostly read books by dead people — it’s a good way to stay out of the groupthink of the present — but I’ll keep Navarro’s book in mind if an opportunity comes up.

    Karim, what was the quote by Upton Sinclair? “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    Miow, we’ll be getting to that in the second half of the book, when it comes time to combine the concepts in meditation.

    Bryan, that’s a great Muir quote, and yes, Lévi would have agreed enthusiastically.

    Ighy, (1) that’s something that would have to be researched by a competent metoscopist — botox wasn’t in use yet (as anything but a way of killing political rivals!) when metoscopy fell out of fashion. (2) It’s the signature of the artist, Oswald Wirth.

  10. Hi John Michael,

    A quiet week. Lovely!

    Probabilities, and I’m guessing here, are flows. They point to a possible outcome, but the details, ah the details, that’s where people get lost. Sometimes concern for details matters, and people love to use that argument as an escape, but mostly I reckon the possible outcomes are the more important to consider. Our brains are pretty well wired to perceive flows, culturally this however has been squashed down hard. Like really hard, for obvious reasons.

    Is it not the aim of the diviner to point out the flows and potentials?

    On a practical note, lately I’ve been forewarning folks I know of this and that possible outcome, but surprisingly it hasn’t helped the outcome, as I was disregarded. Oh well, maybe next time. It is unwise to care more than the person suffering the consequences cares.

    The rain today here is feral and looks set to continue for the rest of the day. Ook!



  11. JMG,

    This is more astrology than Levi, so if it is better for an Open Post, I can wait until next month.

    In “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”, Hall mentions that some believe that the Zodiac used to have ten signs, not twelve. (He specifically mentions Hargrave Jennings’ “The Rosicrucians, their Rites and Mysteries” and Isaac Myers’ “The Qabballah”.) I find this very intriguing, as you wrote a paper to explain the correspondences of the Spheres to the Wheel of the Year and it seems that using the ten-sign Zodiac could possibly be corresponded (if that is a word) to the Wheel of the Year as well. Jennings’ (in the book Hall cited) does not make mention of this. (I haven’t read Myers’ book yet; these interesting dead authors did not write short books… 😉 ) Do you know of any authors who have explored aligning the ten-sign zodiac to the Wheel or the Spheres?

    Slightly related, do you know of any good resources that explain or have meditation-worthy images on the symbols for the Zodiac signs? Most of what I’ve found would fall under what you consider (I think) pop-culture astrology. (But I did happen to find this image when researching some alchemy stuff and instantly saw Leo and Cancer. The other images in this series, though, don’t seem to relate as blatantly to the Zodiac signs.)

  12. I have run across the idea that the reason astrology works, is that in between earthly incarnations, our souls spend time on other planets (which are not merely physical objects in space, but correspond to spiritual realms), partaking of their respective spiritual influences (e.g. love for Venus). Any idea where this comes from? I have heard it attributed to Spiritualism as well as to British Theosophical astrologers.

  13. Am I understanding the terminology correctly, that the Astral Light is not confined to the Astral Plane, but that this substance is considered to flow all the way from (using the tree of light example) Kether to Malkuth?

  14. Chris, one of the reasons why most diviners only offer predictions to those who pay for the same is that there’s at least a small chance that paying customers will listen!

    Random, I’ve seen the same scrappy references to the ten-sign zodiac, but I’ve never followed up on it. As for meditation images for the zodiac symbols, if you don’t mind waiting a few years, I’m working on a project that should result in that among other things: a fairly large book on astrological occultism. It’s on the list because I don’t know of a good book on that subject.

    Bei, that’s a new one to me.

    ShadowRider, no, the astral light is the substance of the astral plane, but the astral plane isn’t separate from any of the other planes — all the planes interpenetrate each other, occupying the same space the way that light, sound, and air all occupy the same room you’re in right now.

  15. @RandomActsOfKarma, @JMG:

    That’s really interesting about the ten sign Zodiac! Is this JMG’s essay that you read which discusses how the Tree of Life corresponds to the Wheel of Life? I tried to puzzle that through when I was meditating on the Stations of the Wheel as listed in the DMH, where the only linking element seemed to be the planets assigned to each Station and Sphere. But these differed, if I remember correctly, so I assumed that the systems of correspondence were from a different basis and I abandoned trying to compare the Tree of the Wheel in this way.

    I found quite thought-provoking the parts of this chapter where Levi discusses how the signs of the Zodiac are linked to the Hebrew alphabet and therefore to the Tarot, but as this post points out, the source of astrology and these linkages to the alphabet isn’t so clear-cut from a historical perspective. But the idea is so enticing!

    I work with the Ogham, and it doesn’t appear to have any traditional association with astrology other than the completely differing systems of Robert Graves’ calendar, Colin Murray’s calendar, and the Wheel of Life in the DMH. Only the latter incorporates other planets than the Sun and the Moon, the former systems seem to be focused only on the relationships between the Sun, Earth and Moon. This post points out that most other forms of divination are dependent on astrology for their symbolism, the Ogham seems to be one of those exceptions, at least for the traditional usages.

  16. Hi everyone,

    I’ve done my reading but won’t have time to write it up and post it till Saturday, sorry. Short version: it don’t look good for the U. S, in the next year.

  17. “Every Man and Woman is a Star” –Liber Al vel Legis

    Just posting that quote here as it was Crowleymass yesterday, and one of the lines in Levi’s text reminded me of that when I read the chapter last night. I’ll paraphrase “[Paracelsus]…recognized in all bodies the mark of their dominant star, and it was this according to him, which was true universal medicine”…

    @Bei, & all: You might be interested to know the musicians and composers Sun Ra and Karlheinz Stockhausen both claimed to have had musical training on other planets / stars before incarnating on this planet.

    Sun Ra was from the planet Saturn (Nyarlathotep confirmed this to a guy a named Owen ;). Karlheinz Stockhausen, a little before or midway through his incarnation, started having dreams where he remembered being trained in various musical arts in the star system of Sirius before coming to this planet.

    I believe them both.

  18. The Egyptian pyramids were built about 4600 years ago, and the first Pharoah Menes/Narmer ruled about 1200 years before that. I’ve never heard much about early Egyptian astrology, but I would think such an advanced civilization would have developed it early on.

    What, if anything do we know about Egyptian astrology?

    Thanks, Antoinetta III

  19. These posts are such a nice reprieve from the catastrophic postings everywhere.

    First read through and a few questions –

    • What we refer to as “karma” is a rebound or rebalancing out of what Levi calls the astral light?

    • “Nothing is indifferent in nature” – this phrase stuck out. At first I understood indifference as “having no opinion” and then realized that Levi likely meant it as “having no influence”. So said another way “everything has an influence on everything else”, or am I misinterpreting this?

    • Are daily 3 card tarot readings also a form of scientific and magical calculation which the Will can triumph over? (Can you tell I didn’t like the one I got this morning? lol – I’m not indifferent!)

    • Are humans simply divided into those who are captivated (trapped?) by the impure astral light and those whose Will breaks them free of it? Perhaps a 3rd group who wobbles between the two groups unknowingly?

    And lastly, have you examined the Gaffarel planisphere and tried Cardano’s calculus of making a prediction on your current year?

    (For those reading who want to make bullets – it’s Opt 8 on the keyboard. Shift 8 gives you the asterisk and Opt 8 makes a bullet instead.)

  20. My meditation on The Star is seeing how confidently this naked woman goes about participating in the world pouring things out of the urns because she is moving with the flows indicated by the stars above her.

    I can’t really tell what is going on in the shield. The printing on my cards isn’t well registered, so it is hard to tell what the image is. The handbook that came with the Knapp-Hall deck says it is a hand holding a T-square. If that is the case then it suggests to me that scared geometry is involved in the shape of things in this universe and the relationships between the planets and stars.

  21. Astrology question – a while back, you told us why you believed the Age of Aquarius began around 1880 AD. Hamlet’s Mill said the Age Of….begins when the vernal equinox is first in the visible constellation thereof, which would move the beginning up the Age of Aquarius up a few hundred years from that date. Are we talking different criteria here? If so, what dates would you give for the preceding historical Ages of Pisces and of Aries?

  22. The Star of Venus on the card is very similar to a compass rose. In synchronicity, several weeks ago, I decided to get a compass rose tattoo, after contemplating the idea for months.

    @ Justin Patrick Moore, #18: Having attended a Sun Ra concert, his unearthly training seems obvious.

  23. @RandomActsOfKarma: I called up the image you mentioned, and pardon my vulgar mind, they both looked to me like two demons in a bottle having passed water, just in different positions.

  24. Justin, I could believe that about Stockhausen. Mind you, I’m no fan, so you probably shouldn’t take that as praise… 😉

    Antoinetta, the system of decans — 10-degree segments of the zodiacal circle — appears to be Egyptian in origin, and scholars open to astrological ideas have suggested for quite a while now that the Book of the Dead and other funerary literature needs to be understood as, among other things, a map of the heavens. Unfortunately the key to the system was apparently lost when Christianity seized power in Roman Egypt and violently suppressed what was left of the ancient priesthoods and their traditions, and it’s likely to take many years of hard work with the surviving texts to unlock what they have to teach.

    Denis, (1) that’s certainly how Lévi interprets it, and a good case can be made for that understanding. (2) “Indifferent” literally means “makes no difference,” so you’re quite correct: everything makes a difference, everything influences everything else. (3) Yes, very much so. If the three cards are situation, your input, and the outcome, you can generally change the outcome by changing your input — look at that second card, decide to do something other than what it implies, and then follow through on that act of will. (4) It’s not a hard division, but a spectrum. All of us have at least a little freedom from the influences of the astral, even if it’s just wiggle room, and all of us are at least a little influenced by it; in between the two extremes is where most people fall. (5) Of course!

    Kay, that’s my interpretation of the shield, certainly.

    Patricia M, there are no boundaries in space, so exactly where Pisces gives way to Aquarius among the constellations is anyone’s guess. Many writers on the subject agree that it’s more of a transition than a sudden shift; one ancient rule — that the age begins with the first Great Conjunction in the new sign — would place the beginning of the age of Aquarius on December 21, 2020! My point in suggesting the 1879 date, however, is that a lot of Aquarian influences are already all over human societies — and that recognition also helps chase off utopian fantasies.

  25. Point taken JMG. You probably won’t be surprised if I tell you, that when ole Stocki started talking about having come from Sirius, was when the very serious (and materialistic) colleagues within the European avant-garde started thinking he’d gone off the rails. For myself, I think everything up to that point was him just getting warmed up.

    Ziggy Stardust apparently brought forth qualities from the planet Mars.

    On another note, since this is brought up a lot here:

    “I mostly read books by dead people — it’s a good way to stay out of the groupthink of the present.”

    I’ve been thinking of this the past few days and am thinking of the benefits that come from isolating oneself on the mental plane from current thought. I can’t say I’ll give up all new or living writers, but its a direction I want to head further into, because the benefits would seem to far outweigh any detriment.

  26. @ Kay Robison, thank you for identifying was the hand in the shield is holding! Someone last post had recommended the website They have a whole section on octagons (, saying it is based on the square root of 2. The site also has a section devoted to the square roots of 2, 3, and 5. Regarding the square root of 2: “The square and its diagonal express the creation of Two from Unity (the initial square) and a consequent proliferation of number through a geometric sequence.” The Unity being the Sun, the created Two being the Moon… seems to relate very well to this card. 🙂

    @jbucks, I have yet to figure how to align the Zodiac to the Wheel of Life. I have gone through DH and DMH (and some other books) and arranged all the correspondences on the Wheel (posted here I will admit that I am very much an Ogham newbie, but some of the Ogham/Tarot/Sphere seem to align very well, especially the Forfeda. (Not saying that the Ogham are dependent on astrology for symbolism, just that the correspondences JMG/JG came up with fit very nicely.)

    @Patrica Mathews, LOL! Demons!?! I thought they looked like little baby ouroboroses! But perhaps they are fire-breathing demons… gives a whole different perspective on fiery water!

  27. Hi John Michael,

    It’s odd that, isn’t it? I only provide divination for people who are paying me, and even then being disregarded is a possibility – a situation which you’re aware of. The worst ones are those who pull apart the good advice and cherry pick what they want to hear. There are patterns to be seen in who will take the advice and act upon it.

    As an intriguing side story, I took your advice years ago. Seemed like common sense to me.

    Hmm. Being a court wizard in past ages is a harrowing experience. There are times I’m reminded of Billy Connolly and the famous Killer Rabbit scene in Monty Python’s amusing film “Monty Python and The Holy Grail”. Sometimes I find myself thinking: “Look at the Bones!” And what did they expect? Probably not what they got!

    As a digression, I can now confirm that 5.5 inches of rain over already saturated ground produces some epic flooding, both here and across the state. Fun times. More rain is in the forecast for next week. Oh goodie! 🙂 If you’re wondering where your rain went, I can confirm that it appears to be down here.



  28. I spent some outside meditating time on ‘os’ as mouth, mouth is a portal in a membrane that holds self— it emits your vocalizations and omits ‘foreign objects’, it permits your food and drink and breath. The stream issues from the mouth of the spring and opens out the mouth of the great river into the sea. And so it is this neat reminder conceptually of the centerpoint, the light-point in the net of points of reflecting lights that is ‘you’ and funny enough is also a you-pronoun in some Spanish and Portuguese, not just mouth-bone os, ossify, fossil, hueso. You, the Mouth, the Fossilization of a soul and it’s magnetized star relationships, the complex membrane portal emitting omitting and permitting, breath in and out until soul and bones go their separate ways. Os sabes? You, always universally in relationship to everything else.

  29. Justin, the fact that Stockhausen started dreaming of music studies on Sirius is one of the first things I’ve encountered yet that makes him interesting to me, so thank you! As for mostly reading books by dead people, it does have certain benefits, though I agree that there are living writers worth reading: me, for example. 😉

    Chris, oh, I don’t know. Being a court wizard… just fine if you can do this…

    AliceEm, excellent! A fine crisp meditation.

  30. re: “Os”

    Perhaps off-topic, but in case it provides interesting fodder for meditation, the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem has a stanza for a letter that it identifies as “Os”. Now, the interesting thing here is that we seem to have a bit of a re-interpretation and/or linguistic pun going on by Anglo-Saxon monks who knew Latin, but were recording a poem in Old English that almost certainly drew on much older traditions. This stanza is for the fourth letter in the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, “Os”, and some translations treat it straightforwardly as the Latin word “Mouth”. In the Elder Futhark from which the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc derived, though, the letter name is reconstructed as *Ansuz, which has an etymology linked with ancestry and divinity, meaning something like “ancestral God”. In the Old Norwegian and Old Icelandic Rune Poems for the Younger Futhark, the equivalent letter is Ás, the singular form of Áesir, the main tribe of the Gods in Norse mythology. Many folks interpret this interplay between speaking, divinity, and possibly consciousness/magic as being especially tied to Woden/Odin/*Wodhanaz, so perhaps this gives some further associations for this chapter to try on.

    For the poem itself, here’s a translation by Gary Stanfield:
    “Os is end-cause of • ev’ry speaking,
    Sapience’ shore-up, • and sage-person’s comfort;
    To barons each one, • blessing and high hope.”


    P.S. For anyone not familiar, the Elder Futhark was the writing system of 24 runes used by some sub-set of Germanic-speaking peoples during the Migration Period (later stages of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). The Younger Futhark was the writing system of 16 runes used by the speakers of Old Norse in Scandinavia – all of which were recognizably derived from the Elder Futhark, but with some modifications. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc was an expansion of the Elder Futhark of between 28 and 36 Runes, depending on when and where you look, that was first used in Frisia and then carried over to England until supplanted by the Latin alphabet by around the 11th century.

  31. Hi John Michael,

    I suspect that there will come a time when demonstration of such knowledge is handy – always useful regardless. Of interest to you is that recently I purchased an old book of knowledge on how to make lots of useful stuff: It was titled: Henley’s Formulas for Home & Workshop. Of course I also have other esoteric practical knowledge required of the average wizard, but one thing stood out to me after reviewing the book: Our forebears had far more practical knowledge as to how to go about doing and making stuff than we do in these more enlightened times. True. But try telling that to people nowadays and they’ll respond by saying stupid things like: but we’ve got the interweb and all – whatever that means. 😉 Oh well, time will sort that matter out.



  32. @ Random: that image reminds me of Plate 3 in “Splendor Solis” which is titled “the Knight of the Double Fountain.” The peeing part is quite apparent.

  33. I don’t have a Knapp Hall deck and the online image i found i very low rea. Can someone tell me what is behind the hand on the shield?

  34. @Ighy

    Thank you for the book suggestions. It would be interesting to see if the models can built as spreadsheets; it’s certainly something worth checking out, IMO.


    Thank you for your reply. You confirmed what I had suspected about the origins of astrology. Try telling that to an Indologist or ‘India Studies’ professor in a Western university, however, and the response you’ll get will make you go “What the hell are these people paid for”?

  35. @Jeff Russell re: “Os” – neat! That was not given me in my Old English class, though I tried to work the Runes for a while.

    @JMG – in touch with Minerva this morning over the weirdness in the air – all the synchronicities that you noted back in Magic Monday. She quoted Mary Renault’s words of the Roman to the Greek, “You Greeks excel in all the gifts of Apollo, but in the gifts of Jupiter, are like children.” Then Minerva said “You Westerners excel in all the gifts of Mercury, but in the gifts of Saturn, are like puling babes in a tantrum.” From which She withdrew, having reminded me from the start that She is a goddess of the timeless civic order established by Her father Jupiter.

    For what that’s worth.

  36. Henley’s Formulas is a wonderful resource. I came in on the very tail-end of the world it was intended to serve, where many a home had a modest workshop-laboratory space in which the homeowners would make their own home remedies and household products.

    Archive,org has several early editions free for downloading. And no doubt there are many used copies available to buy on the web. Tens of thousands of them were printed back in the day. (Editions before 1920 are more complete than later ones, as it underwent censorship in 1920, once Prohibition began.)

  37. Chris, you’ve got Henley’s! It’s a fine resource, well worth preserving for the future. (If anyone isn’t sure what we’re discussing, here’s the 1914 edition:

    Kyle, it’s a pair of lips. The finger to the lips is an emblem of silence and secrecy.

    Viduraawakened, unfortunately most Western scholars are stil frantically trying to defend the absurd notion that Europe and the Mediterranean basin form the focal point of world history, and south and east Asia — where half our species lives, and has lived since impressively ancient times — are way off there on the periphery. It would be nice if they could outgrow that delusion someday.

    Patricia M, I ain’t arguing!

  38. @JMG, re: zodiac symbols, I guess I don’t mind waiting, since it is my only option. 😉

    @Jeff Russell, thank you for the Rune information. Hmm… much to ponder!

    @Phutatorius, I am unfamiliar with Splendor Solis, but I found the image online (, if others are interested) and yes, it definitely has a Manneken Pis look to it. 🙂 Thank you very much… Splendor Solis looks very interesting and I’ve added it to my list of things to ponder. (Any resources you would recommend to assist in my pondering?)

    Everyone: regarding the original image that I linked to (that I thought were cute little ouroboruses, but apparently are peeing little demons), is anyone familiar with the phrase ‘earth-lion’ (as in the serpent turned into an earth-lion)? It was mentioned in a book I’m reading (which was referencing Gilgamesh) and it seems important somehow, but I don’t know enough about Gilgamesh to even know where to start.

  39. Levi says that the woman on the card “represents Truth, Nature, and Wisdom, with two urns out of which she pours water and fire”. Wisdom is Chokmah; Truth is Tiphareth; Nature is Yesod. (And Paths of Wisdom has Trump 17 connecting Chokmah and Tiphareth.) So I am thinking that the woman is Sophia, the Divine Breath (the astral light), which ties in nicely with AliceEms’ and Jeff Russell’s thoughts on Os/mouth.

    Tangentially related to this is Peh, which in Hebrew means ‘mouth’. There are two shapes of the letter Peh (see ), to represent how a person can speak (pleasant and soft or damaging and dangerous), which is appropriate since the astral light can be good or evil. The two shapes for the letter Peh are medial and sofit. ( The medial form is described as “bent’ (in humility), meaning a closed mouth. The sofit form is open. The interpretation provided by hebrew4christians is that we should be silent and humble before we speak. So far, that is all I have been able to find remotely related to ‘inflexus’, but it does seem to relate to the shield that JMG describes as fingers to the lips. I tried figuring out if the shape of the hand was reminiscent of another Hebrew letter. If it is Ayin (somewhat a stretch, but it could work), it relates to a comment on hebrew4christians: “Since Peh (mouth) follows Ayin (eye), certain Jewish mystics have maintained that though the ‘ayin is the gateway to reality, the mouth is what brings reality into being.”

  40. “Trapped in material incarnations” reminds me of when space futurists complain of being “stuck on this rock.” Can I surmise that this is one area where your own characterization of the situation wouldn’t quite align with Lévi’s?

    I guess it’s technically correct, like it would be to say that a gestating fetus is “trapped” in the womb or that a rider is “trapped” on a moving bus, but we usually wouldn’t use that description unless something was going very wrong with the expected course of events.

  41. JMG – Hey! I’ve got a 1913 edition of “Henley’s Twentieth Century Home & Workshop Formulas, Recipes, and Processes: Money Making Facts for Everybody”. I’m not willing to take every item at face value, though. One of the recipes for houseplant fertilizer calls for “10 parts sodium chloride, 3 of potassium nitrate, 5 of magnesium sulfate, 1 of magnesia, and 2 of sodium phosphate”. Sodium chloride?!? The rest seems plausible, but I can’t see putting salt on soil as anything but harmful.

    On the other hand, testing the lime content of soil by comparing the growth of beets in a patch treated with additional lime, and one no so treated, seems sensible, though requiring considerable patience.

    The section on “pyrotechnic magic” is outrageous! Here’s a sample: “In the Human Gas Trick, where a flame 10 to 15 inches long is blown from the mouth, be careful after lighting the gas, to continue to exhale the breath. When you desire the gas to go out, simply shut the lips tight and hold the breath for a few seconds. In this trick, until the gas is well out, any inhalation is likely to be attended with the most serious results.” (italics in the original)

  42. Random, thanks for this — a good solid meditation.

    Walt, you may indeed surmise that. I would say, rather, that we are supported by matter until we outgrow the need for it, in much the same way that a child is supported by the mother’s body until it outgrows the need for that. In both cases the result is that we can be born into a wider world.

    Lathechuck, you’d think so, but the use of salt as a fertilizer is tolerably common wherever rainfall is common enough to keep it from building up in the soil. As for the pyrotechnics, yep — not my idea of fun, but hey, whatever toasts your mustache… 😉

  43. On the Knapp-Hall deck, I was going to note the shield signifying silence. It seemed out of place. Well, it still seems out of place. What secret is here that I don’t see? The woman, maybe the Empress, the High Priestess or the woman of Strength, is pouring golden liquid out of the silver urn and silver liquid out of the golden urn.

    This takes me to 14, Temperance. The Temperance card may show the same woman, but clothed and as an angel. There, one idea is to find a balance between the two extremes, which can involve the golden ratio, because a balance exactly between the two extremes leads to stagnation.

    Back to the Star, her one foot in the water can signify going deep into the the stuff that gave birth to this universe, while keeping her other foot safely grounded here. It reminds me of JMG’s encouragement to use discursive meditation.

    The eight pointed stars resembles the eight spokes of the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel, I think, may be a representation of the natal chart. Not all cultures use a wheel for the natal chart, but here it makes sense because our birth chart shows our karma that we will experience in this life–our fortune.

  44. RandomActsofKarma,

    Thanks for those very interesting ideas. There is much to think about.

    With regards to the hand shape, were you thinking of the Hebrew letter Kaph, which is in the shape of the open hand?

  45. Now I see that the stars could be part of the Tree of Life. Tiphareth is the large star, and all of the sephiroth are represented except for Kether and Malkuth. Maybe the woman is Kether? But, Random mentions she could be Sophia, which might mean that she is the spark of the divine in each of us. The two urns, pouring fire and water could be the confluence of the two pillars into Malkuth.

  46. Hi John Michael,

    It’s a great book of useful knowledge. The other thing which has hard to ignore was that back when the book was first released, people had greater access to raw materials than we are today. Mate, we’ve been so dumbed down in these enlightened times, that it’s not even funny to consider.



  47. @Jon G, I wasn’t originally thinking Kaph, but I looked Kaph up on the Hebrew4Christians site and Kaph could definitely work! That site says “the two letters of the word ‘Kaf’ are the intial letters of the two Hebrew works koach (potential) and poel (actual), suggesting that Kaf enables the latent power of the spiritual (the potential) to be made actual in the physical. That definitely works with the Astral Light reference. Kaph is also a double letter (having a medial and sofit form), so again, fits with good and evil of Astral Light. The site also says that Kaph is “constructed of a bent line” (so a reference to inflexus!). And Kaph and Yod have the same gematria, so perhaps both referencing the generative.

    You had also mentioned that you thought the shield signifying silence seemed out of place. Maybe it isn’t about being silent because of a secret. In Cosmic Doctrine, Fortune said the primary activity was movement (making the rings), then came light, then came sound. Since this card is focused on the Astral Light, this card would align to the second activity. (And there was movement in the card we did previously…). I have not read the next chapter, but the card is the Moon, and on my card, there are two dogs (or wolves?) with open mouths, looking up at the Moon (like they are howling, so that would go with sound).

    Your other comments have given me much to ponder, especially your comment on Temperance/Golden Ratio. The octagon relates to the Silver Ratio, which seems important, but I have not studied it much yet. It has to do with the cube (which is a symbol for physical manifestation) and, if I understand what I’ve read, it also has to do with evolution (which ties in with the Wheel of Life imagery). But now you’ve brought up the Golden Ratio and it seems to be involved to. Hmm…

  48. Jon, one of the things that the Star can represent is the process of initiation, which follows the collapse of the conventional wisdom (the Tower) and is followed by the long process of occult training (the Moon), ending in illumination (the Sun). Pledges of silence are a core element of initiation rituals, for an assortment of good reasons.

    Lathechuck, I originally learned about salt as a fertilizer from a 17th-century alchemical text, which included a very nice recipe for organic fertilizer. That made me curious and I did some reading. Half the odd scraps of information I have came my way through some such process…

    Chris, I seem to recall Conan saying something like that about civilization…

  49. @Chris (#50):

    You’re quite right about our diminished access to the raw materials now.

    Part of it, at least here in the United States, is a concern with safety and risk managemant, which has skyrocketed since I was a boy in the ’40s and ’50s. As a young ‘teen, I could buy Potassium Nitrate and Sulfur over the counter in drug stores (to make my own fireworks) and some acids (not reagent grade) in hardware stores. And there was a chemical supply store in my (university) town where I could–and did–freely buy more dangerous chemicals than those. All this was over by the ’70s, due to fear of getting sued if some customer got hurt through his own foolishness or inattention.

  50. Thanks, JMG! I just re-read in your Paths of Wisdom where you wrote that the knowledge is held secret because once the Veil is rendered, that power beyond Nature can also be used to descend into the subhuman, even demonic. And also, as you have warned, Tiphareth is where ego-aggrandizement takes place, too.

  51. RandomActsofKarma,

    Thanks! I didn’t realize the silver ratio was tied to the octagon. I wonder if there is a connection between the Dharma Wheel and the eight spokes on the Wheel of Fortune.

  52. @ Jon Goddard,

    JMG said the star/octagram represents initiation; the Dharma Wheel (IIRC) represents the path to enlightenment. I think they both are connected to the Wheel of Fortune.


    Thank you so much for your comment about the star being a symbol for initiation! I have been meditating and pondering and researching everything I could think of, trying to figure out how to align the Zodiac to the Wheel of Life (and then align that to Herakles Labors) and nothing felt right and then your comment led me to the Dendera Zodiac and now things are starting to fit together. 🙂

  53. I have made a good many attempts to copy-and-paste my election Tarot reading, with no luck. Our computer has Linux Mint, which usually works just like Microsoft. I will try to put the reading up on the other site for Magic Monday.

  54. When Levi talks about Paracelsus using a person’s dominant star, does this mean the planet ruling one’s first house? Or could he mean the Almuten Figuris?

  55. As to hardware store acids, muriatic acid is another name for hydrochloric acid and can be found with the concrete coatings. It is used to etch concrete for better paint adhesion.

    Sulfuric acid is still used to clean drains. On some plugs it works better than lye, which is sodium hydroxide.

    Nitric acid is hard to come by. Access to that got much harder after 9-11. It’s a key ingredient for making gun-cotton, ie, nitro-cellulose.

  56. Is there a chance that the main star for Venus is eclipsing another, blue star, or is Venus supposed to be a combination of the blue and yellow star constellations?

    When mediating on stella I see a possible as above / so below motif with the two different colored star constellations influencing the earth such as the woman pouring fire and water with blue and yellow colored jugs.

  57. Joke analysis of the tarot first: this is clearly illegal dumping of toxic waste in the New Jersey Meadowlands. 🙂

    Seriously though, with the flowers and butterfly this seems symbolise pouring out the waters of life and nourishment.

  58. RandomActsOfKarma (no. 64), you are most welcome! The point of the Wheel of Samsara is that cyclic existence is characterized by suffering, even for the gods (who eventually die, to be reborn in another of the six realms–possibly hell, which is not eternal either). The big red guy shown devouring the world is Yama, the Lord of Death.The point of Buddhism is to escape the cycle of births and deaths, hence the images of Buddhas outside the circle, on the top corners of this thangka image.

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