Book Club Post

The Doctrine of High Magic: Chapter 4

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 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 now out of print), the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.


“Chapter 4:  The Tetragrammaton” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 56-66).


The ternary, the theme of last month’s chapter, is of crucial importance in magical philosophy but it is not complete. Left to itself, it cycles around endlessly without getting anywhere, just as the twofold division or binary left to itself remains stuck in a stalemate of contending powers and the unary, the One Thing, left to itself simply is what it is. It is when the ternary transforms itself to a quaternary, a fourfold pattern, that creation takes place.  Since Lévi’s understanding of magic was profoundly shaped by the particular version of the Cabala he learned from his teacher Wronski, he uses the Hebrew Tetragrammaton as the template for understanding the fourfold structure.

The Tetragrammaton! Delve into the literature of medieval and Renaissance magic and you’ll find it over and over again. So influential was it that the word “Tetragrammaton” itself, which is Greek for “having four letters,” shows up quite often as a word of power in its own right.  It occasionally takes on weird permutations: one of the odder magical tomes in my collection, a reprint of the once-famous triangular book of the Comte de St.-Germain, includes the word of power Notammargatet, which is Tetragrammaton written backwards and slightly misspelled.

All this attention is not without reason. The divine name of four letters called Tetragrammaton in magical writings is יהוה , YHVH, which is interpreted as “Yahweh” by modern scholars and as “Jehovah” by Christian writers from ancient times on.  It’s a divine name of the classic Mediterranean style—compare the Roman name Jove, IOVE in classical Latin, which was pronounced “Yoh-weh” back in the day.  Like many such names, though not Jove’s, the Tetragrammaton was (and in Judaism still is) not to be spoken aloud except under certain very specific circumstances; the old prohibition against taking the name of the Lord in vain once referred to something considerably more significant than ordinary profanity. One consequence is that Jewish Cabalists, and thus the Frankist Christian Cabalists from whom Wronski’s teachings derived, put a lot of work into the symbolism of the four letters from which the Tetragrammaton is formed.

Let’s walk through it a step at a time. The first three letters, YHV, form a ternary of the kind we explored in the previous chapter. The first letter, Yod, is the active, outflowing, symbolically masculine force; the second letter, Heh, is the receptive, indrawing, symbolically feminine force. The two form a binary, which is resolved by the third letter, Vau, which is the union of the two forces. If Yod is the father and Heh the mother, Vau is the child; if Yod is one pan of the scale and Heh is the other pan, Vau is the bar that unites them.

So far, we haven’t gone beyond the last chapter. Understanding the ternary is essential for grasping what Lévi is saying, and not that alone; thus he goes back to the ternary later in the chapter, introducing two more ternary patterns—in alchemy, the absolute, the fixed, and the volatile; in the Cabala, the absolute reason, absolute necessity, and absolute liberty which are the fundamental characteristics of the divine—and laying part of the groundwork for the grand pattern that will unite all these symbolic structures, the Tree of Life. Yet the ternary left to itself simply circles through endless permutations without ever coming to a resolution.

This is where the final Heh comes in. The pattern established by YHV is not just three things, it is also a single pattern of forces in balance. That single pattern is Heh final. Because it is a Heh, you know that the single pattern created by the first three letters is itself receptive, indrawing, and symbolically feminine—as of course it has to be, because it is what it is because of the three previous letters that bring it into being.  The first example Lévi uses is a convenient one: affirmation, negation, and discussion lead to solution, and the nature of the solution depends on what is affirmed, what is denied, and how the discussion proceeds from there.

The occult traditions on which Lévi builds his understanding of magic have other Tetragrammatons, other names of four letters that express the same process, and each of them has its own lesson to teach. One that our text discusses repeatedly is INRI, the Christian Tetragrammaton, which is formed from the initials of the words above the Cross: IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Here I is the positive letter, N the receptive letter, R the union of the two, and the final I the result: not a receptive pattern but a new dynamic influence that goes outward. Another that Lévi discusses is Azoth, which doesn’t look like a four-lettered name unless you know that it’s formed from the first and last letters of three different alphabets: A and Z in the Latin alphabet, Alpha and Omega in the Greek alphabet, and Aleph and Tau in the Hebrew alphabet.  This Tetragrammaton focuses on the initial active element, A/Alpha/Aleph, which sets in motion three events in sequence: the reception of the active force by its environment, the mutual transformation of force and environment, and the results of that transformation.

There are others. It’s quite possible to take any four-lettered divine name or sacred word and use it as a template for the same fourfold process.  (Students of my writings on Druidry might find it interesting to take the divine name Esus and interpret it in this same way using either of the two sacred Druid alphabets, the Ogham and the Coelbren.)  The implications of the pattern Lévi has traced out here will be appearing throughout the text ahead of us, and in a great many other books on occult philosophy and practice:  understand what Lévi is saying here and you have a head start making sense of the writings of Stanislaus de Guaita, Papus, Mouni Sadhu, or very nearly any other figure in 19th or 20th century European occultism.

In this chapter, however, Lévi sensibly enough concentrates on just a few of the countless applications of the pattern. He drops some hints here about the Great Arcanum, assigning the Yod and Heh of the Name to the first, threefold stage of the Arcanum, the Vau to the second, twofold stage, and the final Heh to the final, fourfold stage. He also brings up his distinctive pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, Yodheva, and uses this as a symbol of the relation between humanity and divinity. Finally, he goes on to assign the four letters to the four quarters of the compass, and thus sets the stage for a vast amount of practical magic, in which the four directions are essential structural elements of magical space.  We will be returning to this in great detail in The Ritual of High Magic.

The Great Magical Agent or Astral Light also has a fourfold significance, and Lévi is not slow to talk about it. Interestingly, he sees it expressed in terms of four physical forces—heat, light, electricity, and magnetism.  Physics in his day had not yet sorted out the four fundamental forces of electromagnetism, gravity, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force, but students of Lévi these days are well within their rights to see his comments as an intuitive perception of the fourfold nature of force in the material cosmos. It is also the fourth emanation of the life principle, of which the Sun is the third; if you know your classical Neoplatonism you know that the first is the One, the ground of being, and the second is Mind, the intellectual principle or unity of the Platonic Ideas.

More hints about the Great Arcanum follow from this. Lévi quotes from the Emerald Tablet, one of the foundational documents of alchemy, citing three factors that create the Great Magical Agent: the Sun, the Moon, and the atmosphere. From these, the Agent is born; it takes on a twofold nature of attraction and repulsion; it then descends into the Earth to fill it with life and form. The diagram to the left, which also appears in Lévi’s book, sets out this way of approaching the Great Arcanum in graphic form.  The seemingly portentous warnings about the dreadful consequences of revealing the Great Arcanum even to a disciple need to be read and understood in the same light, as a symbolic or mythic way of talking about the central secret of Lévi’s work, the key to the practical application of the Tetragrammaton.

Another metaphor is the image of the watch with two springs geared to push in opposite directions. Here Lévi is revealing a central principle of magic, le progrès en raison direct de la résistance, forward movement in exact proportion to, and as a direct result of, resistance. The two currents of the Great Magical Agent, which are symbolized by the two serpents twining around the caduceus of Mercury and the two pillars of the temple of Solomon, gain their power by the resistance offered by the other.  That which yields stores up energy in its spring, that which presses onward exhausts its own store of energy, and so yin succeeds yang and yang succeeds yin in endless sequence.

That same alternation of force, setting up a fourfold rhythm—movement one way, pause, movement the other way, pause—appears in the cycle of ordinary human life and in the great cycle of traditional Christian prophecy. In both cases, as Lévi hints, it’s a mistake to see these sequences as something that runs through once and then finishes. “Everything changes, but nothing perishes”—this is offensive to the conventional wisdom of his time and ours alike:  secular and religious thinkers think and speak as though whatever they dislike can be expected to go away forever, as though the sun can rise and keep on rising without ever setting again.

In the same way, as Lévi hints at the end of the chapter, there are four ages of the world, but those endlessly repeat themselves. The golden age toward which the nostalgic look back will come around again, while those who think we are in the golden age right now will make the unwelcome discovery that it’s all downhill from here. The logic of the Great Arcanum applies here as well: the two opposing springs push human society one way and then the other, and when one spring has pushed things all the way over to one side, it’s a safe bet that after a certain interval a movement in the other direction will begin, and proceed to run its course.

The great challenge in making use of this teaching is figuring out where the center is, for it’s all but universal among people who champion one side against the other to assume as a matter of course that the natural resting place of the cycle is all the way over to the side they prefer.  The beginning of the reverse movement always takes them by surprise, and produces endless squalling about how unnatural and unbalanced the new movement is.  This is true, by the way, of every pattern in human life from the grand sweep of empires and generations to the rise and fall of fads and fashions.  The rhythm is not always even, and sometimes the pace of change veers in unexpected directions for good or ill, but the movement continues and nobody’s side gets everything they want for long.

Having set out his noticeably heretical view of things, Lévi then does his usual evasive move and shifts at once to the four magical elements and their spirits, the elementals. Here Lévi starts out by stressing the crucial point that the elements are a set of symbolic categories, not a collection of substances. Earth, water, fire, and air are the labels on the drawers of a four-drawer filing cabinet in which the entire universe can be filed.  The substances that go by those names are convenient poetic images that allow the phenomena of human experience to be assigned to their proper drawers.

To air Lévi, and magical tradition generally, assign the hieroglyph of the Man and its corresponding figures, the apostle Matthew and the sign of Aquarius; azoth, the universal solvent in alchemy; in Cabala, the Microprosopus or Lesser Countenance, the manifestation of God in the created world; movement among philosophical principles, subtlety among material properties, east among the directions, spring among the seasons, and dawn among times of day. To fire belong the Lion, and thus the apostle Mark and the sign of Leo; sulphur, the principle of volatility; the Macroprosopus or Greater Countenance, God beyond all created being; spirit among principles, heat among material properties, south, summer, and noon.  To water belong the Eagle, the apostle John, and the sign Scorpio; mercury, the principle of fluidity; the Supernal Mother; matter among principles, cold among properties, west, autumn, and dusk.  To earth belong the Ox, the apostle Luke, and the sign Taurus; salt, the principle of solidity; the Shekinah or Lesser Mother; rest among principles, density among properties, north, winter, and midnight.

To these four elements also belong four categories of elemental spirits—the sylphs of air, the salamanders of fire, the undines of water, and the gnomes of earth. Lévi presents a traditional occult story to help the reader make sense of them, suggesting that at the beginning of time created souls were placed in the midst of the elements and told to take their pick. Those who were wise enough to move to the center, the point of balance at which freedom becomes possible, became human; those who strayed toward one or another element became elementals, and remained unfree until such time as they could find their way back to the point of balance. There’s a great deal to learn from this story, though much of it has to do with the next chapter—the four elements plus the center equal five, the number of the pentagram, the symbol of freedom.  For now, it may be useful to reflect on the fact that few if any human beings manage to stay anywhere near the central point of balance and freedom. Moving toward that point remains an option for each of us, and it is one of the secrets of the mage.

Is it possible to allot the symbols assigned to the four elements in other ways and still make some kind of sense out of them? Of course. Do that, however, and you throw away your chance of figuring out what Lévi and a great many other magical writers are trying to teach you. It’s a little as though you decided that English ought to be read right to left, read a stop sign as POTS, and went buzzing on through the intersection expecting to find a pottery store on the far side. Magical literature is trying to communicate things of importance to you, and it’s using symbols and emblems to accomplish that task. Learn what the writers meant by those symbols and emblems and you have some hope of figuring out what they were trying to pass on to you.

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 will be 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 IV, L’Empereur, “The Emperor.”  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 ד (Daleth) or the Latin letter D. 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, fourth, and fifth sessions are devoted to the three titles Lévi gives for the card: Hesed, Porta Librorum, Elementa. Sit down, get out the card, and study it. How does Hesed or Chesed, Mercy, relate to the imagery on the card and the letter you’ve chosen?  That’s one session.  How about Porta Librorum (or Librarum)?  Or the four elements?  Those are the next two.

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 4 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.

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 5:  The Pentagram” on October 13, 2021. See you then!


  1. So GAIA would be another tetragrammaton in the pattern of YHWH, with the resolution mirroring the feminine principle?

  2. Really interesting that the tetragrammaton and the quaternary offer a basic solution for the problem of logical types, which flummoxed mathematicians until Russell/Whitehead, and still flummoxes western logic. So many grave errors in thinking, in my opinion, could be resolved by recognizing that one is making an error of logical type. Here we have occult philosophy neatly recognizing the issue and offering a solution that is infinitely extensible above and below. How old is this idea? Ancient Greece? I wonder why materialists struggle so hard with confusing orders of magnitude in their thinking.

  3. David BTL, excellent! Exactly — the name Gaia works very well as a Tetragrammaton, of the same type as YHVH.

    Kyle, okay, you’ve just gone right over my head. Can you recommend a good intro to the problem of logical types? As for the interpretation of the Tetragrammaton, its basic logic is Pythagorean, so yes, ancient Greece is the first known appearance, but (like most of ancient Greek esotericism) it probably has Egyptian roots originally.

  4. John–

    The discussion of the oscillating four-fold movement, or the perpetual cycling of the Ages of Man (humanity) strikes particularly close to home for me today and I’m wondering if there may be a magical application (at least in the Dione Fortune sense of altering my consciousness in accordance with will) to the local political situation.

    If you’ll allow a brief summary: I live in a smaller Midwestern community, rather blue-collar and working class, suffering from the usual loss of major employers. The community has a lot of potential, though, and some real assets. As you may recall, I served on some municipal bodies for a good decade, including three years in elected office on city council. There is a solid percentage of the populace, however, that resists everything. Not a majority, but a sizeable enough minority to gum up the works. To put is bluntly, they complain whenever anyone tries to change anything, then complain that nothing ever changes. Ad hominem attacks on FacePlant are commonplace nowadays.
    A few days ago, things got so bad that our city council president, who was on the receiving end of recent attacks (he donated to a local park redevelopment project and was accused of bribery on FB) got fed up and resigned. While I didn’t agree with everything he proposed, he certainly didn’t deserve that treatment.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we have forces in the ascendant–do nothing, pay for nothing, spend no money, make no effort to change our situation, let it all rot around us–and fighting against them seems more and more futile. Is there a way to apply the fourfold pattern here to dealing with this? (I’m still processing my disillusionment and the blow to my faith in self-governance–which I esteem highly.) The notion spoken of in the Kybalion of sidestepping the pendulum when the cycle swings back seems relevant, though I’m not sure how to apply it here.

  5. Thanks JMG.

    Does the idea of the tetragrammaton have anything to do with the Godhead, the father, son, holy ghost combined to make a fourth in unity? Going further, does that mean that four magical elements have a connection to this idea too.


  6. I had an experience in ritual a few days ago at New Moon that has confused me. I’ve been joining your course on Levi. Your commentary has solved some of the big questions in Christian theology. Theophany: God created both good and evil; in Levi’s words, God “puts evil in service to the triumph of good, and the good in reparation for evil.” Hell: everyone in hell chooses to be there, because they don’t want the pain of transformation, of learning how evil they have been. Prayer and magic: every act reverberates through the three worlds of God, mind and matter. It’s been a lot of new ideas that I haven‘t fully incorporated. It means that the world is dynamic, not static, that it’s not God in his heaven too far away, but God connected to every breath and every thought.
    I did my normal ritual. When I came to the phase of calling the Lady from the earth and the Lord down from the sky, there was a drag somewhere; their coming had been slowed. I realized a third spirit was there. I asked the Lord and Lady to stand with me, the Lord on my right and the Lady on my left, and then I let the spirit come to me. It was in front of me. As I suspected, it was Jesus the Christ. I said to him, “You are Jesus Christ,” and he nodded. I waited to see how Jesus would interact with the Lord and Lady. Jesus and the Lord seem to hug each other, or to fuse momentarily. Then Jesus went to the Lady, but the fusion didn’t happen; Jesus and the Lady acknowledged each other but that was all. Each spirit went back to its place.
    Jesus began speaking, but I don’t remember what. I asked about all the Christians, and did he speak for them. He glanced behind him and said something like that they were his, but they didn’t own him or speak for him. He spoke for himself; he was the spirit, after all.
    Then he began, not exactly talking, but talking and demonstrating. “I am the wound, the suffering. And I am the healing of the wound. If not healing, then acceptance. Everyone has many wounds. You do too.” I nodded. “I come to you in your suffering so that you aren’t alone. I stay with you as you suffer, because there is nothing worse than suffering alone. With me with you, you can heal. You won’t tear off your own scabs, tear out your own stitches. With me, you will heal.”
    I said, “Some things can’t heal. I can only accept them.”
    He said, “Yes. But there is resolution and the suffering stops.”
    He was glowing and pulsing, and he wanted to sweep me up and stop my suffering. I pushed him back. I didn’t want to be swept up, to be dissolved into him. I asked, “What about the Lord and Lady?” I meant, “What is the relation between you three spirits.” No one said anything.
    Then I saw. The Lord and Lady are part of the world that is. The growing trees, the growing grain, the beer, the honey, the food on the table, the light streaming down, the house and home, the solid relationships between people, between husband and wife, between parent and child. The Lord and Lady are reality. Jesus is feeling, is suffering and its relief. Jesus is all human, while the Lord and Lady are the whole world. They don’t contradict each other in any way. Jesus was all feeling, all human. He was water, the feeling of suffering, which is only a part of feeling, but the most painful, necessary part. I felt the Lord and Lady solid at my side, reality, and Jesus before me, glowing, wishing to heal me.
    I said to Jesus, “You have a reputation for taking over someone completely. Do you demand exclusive worship?”
    He said, “Not exclusive, that’s the other, my father.”
    I said, “You come at a perfect moment. I’ve discovered today and yesterday that I cause most of the problems between my wife and I.” I won’t write here the content of my discoveries; it’s too personal and not relevant.
    Jesus said, “I can help you.” I wanted to let him in, but I didn’t want to be taken away from myself, from what I’d built for myself.
    I said, “You can’t come in but I will listen to you. However, you must promise to let me choose. I will think carefully and choose carefully, my Lord.” Then I caught myself. “You are not my Lord. Don’t pull me back the old worship of my childhood. I forbid you. You can only come through the doors that I allow.”
    He didn’t agree but he didn’t argue or respond.
    Then I ended the ritual. I said to the Lord and Lady, “Thank you for living in my heart. I invite you into my home and my family. Please be with me always.”
    Then I said to Jesus, “I don’t allow you to enter. You may not come into my heart, my home or my family until you prove yourself. Please keep to the boundaries I place.”
    I said to the elements (water, air, fire, earth), “Normally I invite you into my home and family, but tonight I don’t want you to come in. I need you to guard my house against Jesus. Please stay outside my house and guard me.”
    I ended the ritual. “The circle is open but not broken.”
    When I went inside and lay on my bed, I could feel Jesus prowling outside. I felt his warmth and his desire to help, to end suffering. I could feel myself saying, “my Lord” to him. I felt him coming in the windows. I asked the elements to guard me. I said to Water, “Merge with his sadness and become sad together.” I said to Fire, “Burn, with his happiness and relief.” I said to Air, “Just blow him away, like the wind and a bird.” I didn’t say anything to Earth, because Jesus wouldn’t enter that way. Then I felt the elements move as I told then; they engaged Jesus and neutralized him. I was safe from Jesus. He didn’t want to obey my wishes, but he had no choice. I’d blocked him.
    The next day was normal, if busy in a worldly way. I’m writing this the evening of the day after. I started my regular spiritual practice on new and full moons about ten years ago. The last time I had a spirit barge in was thirty years ago, when I first started becoming aware.
    If you have any comments, I would appreciate them.

  7. Sorry, it’s just another name for orders of magnitude. For example, apples, oranges, and bananas are all fruits. I believe I read it in Gregory Bateson’s work somewhere, but there were some serious problems in mathematics that Russell and Whitehead resolved by accounting for the existence of these heirarchies–i.e., the parts and the whole. I don’t understand them myself as I’m not a mathematician, but it would be like trying to add 1 house to 1 city and arrive at 2.

    I’ve also noted, after reading Korzybski, that much of our habits of western logic and speech involve a blindness to the existence of these logical types in certain situations. Of course we all understand animal taxonomy, for instance. But then we try to compare the category to the member in other arenas, as though they existed on the same plane.

    The concept is intuitive enough for a child to grasp, but we constantly confuse it in practice. Korzybski would say it’s due to identity and the structure of our languages. But it’s interesting to me that Levi and a long line of occultists have a symbolic way of illustrating the concept.

    Failure to keep track of wholes and parts can lead to huge and obvious problems. For example, one size fits all solutions and problems of scale. Someone migt say “we need to vaccinate the country to be safe,” without realzing that “country” is an abstraction for a large group of geographically-related individuals, and it isn’t “country” that gets a needle in its one big arm, but millions of individuals, whose arms and bodies are very different, and who may require varied approaches. And who is this “we” who is safe? The whole country? Or those individuals whose health is improved by vaccination? The way one interacts with father is different from mother, which is different from child, which again is diferent from the whole of creation.

    Failing to grasp that is what Bertrand Russell would call an error of logical type. I just think it’s neat that occult philosophy has a clear concept of the issue that isn’t dependent on language, necessarily. So the mage understands there needs to be a certain relationship between the parts to make his desired whole (and that relationship is NOT sameness). By extension, he realizes that new whole is also a part at a higher plane/order/logical type, and can relate to other parts of that same plane to make higher wholes. And that wholes can be divided into parts, and those parts are then wholes at a lower plane, which can be divided again.

    It’s all very elegant, and once it clicks, it really dispels a lot of the bizarre thinking that I see in myself and others when we try to treat all of creation (wholes and parts) as though “Kyle,” “nitrogen,” “The Atlanta Braves,” “gravity,” “Fort Wayne, Indiana,” etc. all existed in the same way on the same material playing field.

  8. Hey there, you may have covered this already but I wondered about the aural/oral uses of the Name in lieu of its visual graphic/image uses withTarot. Are these are powerful when spoken and vibrated. Scott Alexander of Astral Codex Ten wrote an enjoyable novel set in the future called UNSONG about this kind of word-Cabala magic which is maintained by secret groups in society until it is stolen and commodified by the corporate/media establishment. Fun and mystery ensues.

  9. Some thoughts: If you take one angle the Emperor could represent the Jungian Self as the result of synthesis of Persona, Shadow, and Ego.

    If you go the route of how I think the square within the circle is intended to be drawn, you get the line from center point of the mandala towards the nadir. The center point at this point in the squares unfoldment is context specific and represents the beginnings of knowing yourself..knowing that you are more than just the persona. The line represented by the Emperor then represents a dive into the acknowledgement of the shadow..maybe the Emperor leading the troops into the conquering of an “enemy”.

    Last month I came to see the Empress (excuse my English, I don’t yet know how to type accent marks), with her fullness of voice, giving birth to individual souls/Verbs or even “the” Verb within time space. Following this angle, the Emperor is the Verb in time-space.

    The bit Levi wrote about impacting all 9 heavens whenever the Tetragrammaton is said made me think of the Tetragrammaton as an expression of free will. Free will = creativity = sex = cosmic sex, just to tie in some ideas from previous months.

  10. Interesting to note that Plato’s analysis of the name of Zeus (a 4-letter name) yields a meaning– “the God through whom all creatures always have life”– that is very similar to at least one interpretation of the meaning of YHVH, “He Brings into Existence Whatever Exists.”

  11. Wow. Now, this makes a lot of sense! When I was first introduced to the Yod-Hey-Vau-Hey and the idea that they were masculine and feminine, I immediately say them as Father-Mother-Son-Daughter, and was delighted. Likewise your (or Levi’s) characterization of unary-through-ternary, and the piles of symbolism attached to the Four Directions also made perfect sense. That the pentagram is a step beyond – thanks for your characterization of it as representing freedom.

    Likewise the repeating 4 ages of the world, which in my observation is perfectly fractal: the cycles of day, moon, year, the ~60-80-odd year generational cycle, and the megacycles marking the rise and fall of – I call them ‘civilizations’, but “Medieval,” “modern,” “whatever the blazes we’ve been in since the late 1960s, the usual term is ‘postmodern,” and then, of course, the massive ones such as the Classical, ‘Western Civilization’, etc. I try not to let it become a strait-jacket for the mind, but like any other filing system, it works well for the small office called my mentality.

    And yes. “Waah! We lived in the Golden Age and it’s been all downhill from there, and we! want! it! Back!” is a dreadfully familiar cry, isn’t it?


  12. David BTL, the best option I can think of just off the bat is to treat the negative minority as a thrust block. To do that, it’s necessary to identify them — not by individual name, but to start talking about them in your community in the terms you’ve just suggested, and characterize them as you’ve done. Anything negative that comes from them can then be characterized, very publicly, as “more negativity from the folks who are preventing this town from getting anywhere,” or what have you. The strategy here is to define them in such a way that their preferred tactic brings grief to them, not to the people who are trying to make things happen. Help them marginalize themselves, while challenging them to suggest something positive — which they can’t. Oh, and a few good slander suits might help!

    Adrian, that’s certainly one of the standard Christian interpretations of Lévi’s thinking.

    Tomriverwriter, do you happen to know if any Christians are praying for you to convert to their faith? That’s the kind of astral shenanigans I’ve experienced when that’s happened in the past.

    Kyle, okay, thanks for this! Yes, that’s something that’s hardwired into magical philosophy. I suspect it got there because for the last three millennia or so, mages haven’t been able to rely on institutional prestige — instead, they have to focus on things that actually work.

    Y. Chireau, Lévi doesn’t discuss that in any detail. Later magical writers picked that up and ran with it — there’s a lot of material about it in Regardie’s The Golden Dawn, for example — but Lévi didn’t get into that in this book.

    Youngelephant, a fine set of themes for meditation!

    Steve T, yep. The differences between Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions are smaller than some people like to think.

    Patricia M, you’re most welcome. All this is Lévi’s — well, expanded a bit via Papus and Mouni Sadhu, but at least strongly implicit in Lévi.

  13. So does the YKVK derive its power from being the name of G-d, or just from having four letters? With a few notable exceptions 🙂 other four-letter words are not thought to possess this power and are not taboo.

    In Judaism each letter of the alphabet is considered powerful, and has angels associated with it. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Sanskrit alphabet can be chanted as a mantra, and Tibetan writing is also assumed to be holy, regardless of what is written. (For example, one would not place any text on the floor.)

    Struggling to think of Buddhas or bodhisattvas with four-letter names! Let’s see…there’s Tara, but in Sanskrit we’d have to count the vowel diacritics as letters, which seems weird in comparison with Hebrew.

    BTW Anton LaVey (aka Howard Stanton Levey, who I assume had some passing acquaintance with Judaica) uses “shemhamforash” (Shem ha-Mephorash, “the Explicit Name”) as the Satanic equivalent of “Amen”!

  14. Could you please help me understand the concept of the Salamander? I am stuck with my physical, and career experience of Newts and such. They are an interface creature of clean water, air, cool rock, and moss. Where does the concept that they are related to fire come from? Any speck of insight about how I should consider the Salamander would be appreciated.
    Vibrant Opaque Hyena

  15. @JMG I’m from a family of fervent Catholics and they have been praying for me for thirty years. Since that hasn’t changed, I don’t think the shenanigans come from that direction. I think the cause is my meditations on Levi for this course of study. I think it’s rewiring me.

  16. Is anyone still sticking with reading the French and the English simultaneously? How’s it going? I did this for a few days on the intro and it was a slog so I stopped for awhile. But I came back a couple chapters ago, and somehow I could understand like 80% of what Lévi wrote. JMG was definitely right, the French came back faster than I thought it would. I think part of this helped by the fact that Lévi uses the same words a lot so you start to pick them up. I tried reading a modern day French alchemist’s writings recently and it felt like a slog again so I found that interesting. Maybe Lévi is easier to understand. I think I’ll start the memorizing a sentence in each language technique soon.

  17. If I may, regarding Kyle’s discussion if logical sets–

    “But then we try to compare the category to the member in other arenas, as though they existed on the same plane.”

    It’s my view that this is one of the reasons our politics is so broken right now, especially regarding race. We regularly see “blacks,” who are a discrete ethnocultural group, compared with “whites,” which comprises many, many different groups, and “Hispanics,” which is a different type of category altogether. It isn’t like comparing apples and oranges, it’s like comparing cats (a species) with bovines (a family) and then both of these with house pets (a different type of category.)

  18. Bei, what a fine theme for meditation!

    Archaic, the word “salamander” originally meant a spirit of fire. It got borrowed by biologists for the amphibians also known as newts, because in Europe newts often spend the daylight hours between the bark and the wood of drying firewood — so you throw one of those into the fire and all of a sudden a newt comes scampering out!

    Tomriverwriter, I’m not sure why Jesus would show up if that were the case, and not, say, Oedipus…

  19. JMG,

    Re: the triangle, six-pointed star, and square-in-a-circle

    The image by Levi included in your translation can (with a little imagination and rearrangement) be superimposed on Levi image of Ezekiel’s Chariot (pictured here–occult-symbols-ancient-symbols.jpg): the triangle and six-pointed star both on the two triangles; the TARO, INRI, and square-in-circle are all incorporated into Ezechiel’s wheel on the bottom right.

    That leaves the bottom left wheel… I’m good with the Sun/Moon symbol at noon. This chapter (and your commentary) address the six-pointed triangle and the pentalpha at six o’clock (so I’m not quite good with them yet, but I’ve got plenty to meditate on).

    Is “PITAGORE” Pythagoras?

    Are the other symbols at noon (looks like a B), three (looks like a Th), six (EB on their sides?), and nine (a backwards 7?) Greek letters? Will these get addressed in a future chapter? If yes, I will wait patiently. If no, would you give hints to what the symbols/letters are?

  20. Tomriverwriter, you may have encountered another spirit masquerading as Jesus, because he’s rarely persistent, more of a take-it-or-leave-it type. He tells the apostles to continue with this approach, to lay it all out and if the people are uninterested or hostile, to shrug and move on to the next town. On the other hand, occasionally he can be very persistent, e.g. The Hound Of Heaven. In sum, beats me—isn’t that helpful?—but since persistence is the exception, you may want to scrutinize “Jesus” very closely next time. Good luck!

  21. Steve,

    That’s a prime example! And of course, none of those labels tell us anything about the individuals who claim them unless we reduce those individuals to a meaninglessly vague absraction. So trying to balance “white” with “black, brown, queer, female, etc.” is to try to create a whole from things that don’t even exist on the same plane, and so that whole must be some kind of multiordinal madness rather than a functional system.

    Korzybski proposed that all statements of purported logic be analyzed as true, false, or a third term which he adds: meaningless. Those that confuse orders in such a way can’t be shown true or false. Even a false statement is meaningful.

  22. Dear John Michael,

    I am glad that you mentioned the Christian tetragrammaton “INRI” (IESVS NAZARENVS REX IUDEAORVM”). I grew up in a Catholic church (but not THE Catholic Church), in which I was an altar boy for ten years, and that cryptic acronym above crucifixes, and on the priests’ vestments, always kind of irked me, simply because it was so prominent yet nobody ever tried explaining what it meant. Even when I asked one or more Sunday School teachers as a kid, they could not explain it. I thought surely at SOME point we would be told what it meant, but nope, that never happened. In fact, I got to the point where I shied away from the idea of asking the priest about it, lest it lose its ‘magic’. But just like the other Tetragrammatons, I have to this day never heard it spoken, either as the acronym or as the full phrase. I just found it deeply odd that for such a repeated and common symbol, it was NEVER mentioned, spoken or discussed, almost as if there were some kind of deep taboo surrounding it.

  23. The example of affirmation, negation, and discussion lead to solution has helped clarify different categories of communication breakdown I’ve seen over the years especially in relation to organisational structure:

    1. Affirmation only: this is what happens when a CEO addresses employees. These sessions always have a place to ask questions and give the illusion of discussion except nobody can ask a real question for political reasons and so it ends up being just the CEO saying whatever he or she wants.

    2. Affirmation and negation only: two people talking at cross purposes not even hearing what the other is saying or two people who have intention of “giving in” to the other.

    3. Affirmation, negation and discussion but no resolution: see this very often in technical discussions in the workplace where there is no majority either way and people are not seeking an outcome but merely to argue on some abstract, vaguely moral principle that makes them seem virtuous.

    This is why I believe you need hierarchy in an organisation. Point 3 happens all the time in “democratic” groups that don’t have formal decision making structures such as not-for-profits, bands, sports teams etc. A “manager” is needed to step in and take responsibility for ensuring the discussion reaches the solution. This doesn’t mean they dictate the solution. They just ensure a decision is made.

  24. Karma, yes, PITAGORE is Pythagoras, and that diagram is one of several images that are called the Wheel of Pythagoras. Levi’s version was somewhat garbled. The Bs should be cursive Alpha (above) and Omega (below), the Th over on the right should be the symbol of Saturn, the mess on the left should be the symbol of Jupiter, the E on its back down below is what remains of the symbol of Mercury, and the hexagram and pentagram should be the symbols of Venus and Mars respectively.

    Alan, good heavens. That strikes me as bizarre. In Rosicrucian circles it’s spoken aloud quite freely — either in letters (“I, N, R, I” sounding like “Eye, Enn, Are, Eye”) or as a single word, pronounced like “Inn-rye.” Of course the Rosicrucian movement has its roots in Lutheranism rather than in any of the Catholic churches.

    Augusto, good question. What I know is that variant versions of the LRP with four-lettered names have far more power than those that do anything else.

    Simon, thanks for this! That’s a good solid analysis. As for getting a decision made, actual democracy settles these things with a vote, and the majority rules. There’s a lot of faux-democracy out there, of course.

  25. “There’s a lot of faux democracy out there.”

    You don’t say. 😄

    I realize it’s not the topic here, but that remark, when there are vaccinazis in all countries, amused me. Synchronicity strikes again!

  26. Regarding le progrès en raison direct de la résistance, I may be off but the metaphor brought to mind the practice of push hands in tai chi as another metaphor, or a physical manifestation of this aspect of magic. I know yin and yang, and the Tao and eastern philosophy have been alluded to by Levi (is it Leev-eye or Lay vee or ?), so not much of a stretch. For anyone who has ever done it at an advanced level, I think it would immediately come to mind. It’s a responsiveness to the opposing energy–it’s the discussion.

    I studied for many years with a very gifted teacher and practitioner, Master Yu. During our Sunday class, after forms he would give a lecture. He wrote mostly in Chinese. He made beautiful characters with a magic marker on newsprint. He was constantly coming up with imaginative metaphors to try to get us to understand at a deeper level.

    After the lecture, we would do push hands.If pushing with another student, the solution is not always clear. When pushing with Master Yu, it manifests as you being ungrounded and tossed aside by a seemingly invisible force after a very brief discussion.

    I still have all my notebooks from that time. I think I will take a look–might be some interesting supplemental meditations waiting for me.

  27. I’ve been reading the French version, and not comparing it to the English translation, only reading JMG’s commentary, then reading the whole chapter, then meditating on it a small chunk at a time. I’m not finished with chapter 3 yet, and the perfectionist in me says to complete it, but I think I am better off moving on to chapter 4. I have the rest of my life to come back to it, and the book won’t change, but I will.
    Coincidentally, (or synchronistically) I came across a quote when I was looking for something else. Back in February of 2019, JMG, you wrote about knowledge being fourfold- the knower, the known, the act of knowing and the knowledge. That hit me in my teacher heart, and I copied it, only for it to be lost and resurface when I needed to be reminded.

  28. @Alan #22
    Odd indeed. I have never felt the meaning of INRI was a taboo, so much as being uninteresting to most people (shame on your Sunday school teacher, btw, they ought to have known better). I have a dim memory of I being curious about that, too, but as far as I can tell, it did not take much to figure out what it was (back in the 1980’s, in the pre-Internet days).

    It probably has to do with the language barrier. In Spanish, INRI reads JNRJ: “Jesús Nazareno, Rey de los Judíos”. My mother had me write those letters in my forehead with my right thumb, right before going to bed. The prayer that goes along is: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, shall preserve me from ill, sudden death”. The purpose of that practice is that Death will not catch you by surprise.

    I have only recently realized that, by following this devotion through the years, I’ve probably rejected the entitlement of having what The World considers a “good death”: just fading away blissfully into the night. On the other hand, being spared of a messy and overly painful end is a plus. Instead, I hope to gain from this the chance to pass consciously, to put my affairs in order beforehand, and to repent from my sins.

  29. Just in case there are any fluent Hebrew readers in the crowd, I’d like to recommend an article by a contemporary Jewish Orthodox scholar, a critique of feminist theology from a mystical-Hassidic Jewish perspective. The writer, Nir Menussi, analyses the Tetragrammaton to find in it a dynamic balance of masculine and feminine. I’m not close to Jewish-Orthodoxy, but it was a real eye opener for me.

  30. In order to make the Latin alphabet of 26 letters match the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet 4 of the Latin letters had to be skipped. I was wondering how those 4 were chosen to be skipped? Did the Latin alphabet originally have only 22 letters? I tried Google but haven’t had any luck.

  31. @Susan,
    I am reading the book in french too. Very lightly actually, since I am now studying the Cosmic Doctrine, very slooowly, and reading through CosDoc is as fascinating as finding puzzle pieces.
    Levi is too verbosed, even for me, but I never really liked latin literature. Worse, he jumps from topic to topic without any warning. One line you are reading about going to hell, the next one you are reading about the columns of the temple, with no connection between both sentences. All those hints but not showing, all those “I will explain this later”, all those “I am a faithful Catholic” even if everything else I said is so heretic, it’s like reading an erotic novel: you only understand what it is saying once you have experienced it.
    It also makes heavy use of hebrew letters and Cabala, which were unknown to me. When our host says to meditate on Chesed for example, I am at a lose. The work with the Tarot cards sounds like fun, too, but I don’t think I can work on it this year or the next, looking at my current progress.

    I don’t think you have to master previous chapters to follow the current one, since they are teachings that refer to multiple things, many of them you haven’t experienced yet. Keeping the pace with the posts will allow you to comment about what you got from your reading with colleages. If you can’t keep pace, you can always ask Mr Greer on his dreamcast site, on magical mondays, any related question. I am still atonished at how many answers he manages on the same day: I don’t think professional (paid) consultants manage that much.

  32. “Yet the ternary left to itself simply circles through endless permutations without ever coming to a resolution.”

    Thesis; Antithesis; Synthesis.

    It strikes me that these three form a well recognised “endless permutation” pattern endemic in current politics. Every proposed “synthesis” becoming a new “thesis” to be opposed by an “antithesis” and round we go.

  33. I have been slowly working my way through watching back-episodes of Esoterica, a YouTube channel on arcane philosophy, etc. Last night, I watched an episode on Ludovico Lazzarelli, an early European Hermeticist and poet. Lots of neat stuff (here, if you’d like to watch: The presenter often shows related artwork during the shows, often without commentary. One of the images he shared on the Lazzarelli episode was “The Chemical Preparation of Aurum Portabile”, which you can view here:

    Lots of things to unpack in the image, but one that smacked me on the head last night was the duality of birds. The Empress had an eagle on her card, eagle relating to water. Makes sense.

    The Emperor has a bird on his cube. Until last night, I thought it was an eagle, thinking it related to drawing down astral light from the Empress.


    The Emperor’s bird is a phoenix, the phoenix relating to fire.

    Phoenix and eagle, fire and water, fiery water in the Garden of Eden, before dividing into the four elements.

  34. Kyle (And Everyone),

    I started thinking more about the logical errors we’re discussing, and how they impact our political discourse around race, and it turned into a lengthy essay. Since that would be very far afield from the topic of this week’s post, I posted it on my blog, here:

  35. I don’t know about all this business about types. [after writing the explanation of types, I suppose you interpret it in different ways] From what I understand types are a logical formalism to prevent paradoxes with self reference; e.g. let A be the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. If A is a member of itself, then by its definition it is not. If it isn’t a member of itself, then by definition it is. This is called Russell’s Paradox. Another paradox is called Berry’s Paradox (consider the smallest number not definable in less than twelve words; the paradox is any number you’d say is that number is defined in less than eleven words by that phrase itself).

    As far as I know — and I haven’t verified this fully — Russell’s type system was just something that said a think of class x can’t refer to things of class x but only if lower class. The classes were set up so that, for example, the set of all sets that don’t contain themselves, was not a well formed statement in the type system; you could define A to be a set that contains all sets_1 that don’t contain themselves; but for that to be well defined in their system A would have to be at least a set_2; so it wouldn’t contain itself, without paradox. I think, also, that no set can contain itself in this system: it would have to be a higher type than the things it contains (maybe there’s some nuance that allows one to get around this, dunno). I think something similar can be done with Berry’s paradox to make the word “definable” well typed.

    More on this sort of type system is found here:

    I don’t know what any of this has to do with anything in this exegesis of the text; though I only skimmed it as I’m not reading the book and something about Abrahamic religions puts me off — a hippie sort of Christianity, with no demons, hell, or sin, and everything is ultimately fine is kinda the most I’m comfortable with; Christianity I suppose means universal love or something in such views.

    I don’t know much about Christianity anyway; I’m an adherent of the Indian philosophies. That is to say, I am a Hindu, but I don’t respect any fundamental separation between Hinduism and Buddhism, Jainism, and even other ancient Indian schools of thought, like the Carvaca school. I’m happy to pick and choose from Indian thought as I see fit.

  36. Indian in America,

    I was reading the explanation as a non-mathematician so it’s likely I didn’t grasp the full scope and implications of what the logical types are. Rather, I meant to refer to problems in logic and elsewhere in which, as you said, a set of something was confused as also being a member of the set. Maybe I should just use another word like “orders” to avoid confusion. It’s relation to the text is that the fourth letter is the whole of the other three letters. The last H describes the set of YHV.

  37. I’m just writing quickly for now to say that I’m getting a lot out of this book club, and this chapter is no exception. Events are interfering greatly with my routine at the moment (vaccine mandates and their potential effect on my employment to name one), so I don’t know if I will have a chance to write up some thoughts. I read the The Seven Against Thebes before the current disruptions started and I’m still pondering that as well.

    Thanks for the suggestion about 4 letter deity names in Druidry! Elen and Coel would be worthwhile to explore as well as Esus. Much to think on there, especially as I’m working closely with the Ogham at the moment.

  38. Hmm… so I could take FREA (Anglo-Saxon’s Ingui-Freyr) where Feoh (wealth) is the first, active letter of the FUTHORC, Rad is a journey that’s taken, or a wagon, (which is interesting given the lore of Frey the lord of wealth being carried/ridden around Sweden in a wagon, and a wagon running after Ing in the OE rune poem) these are reconciled in Eh, the horse, which is a symbol of wealth, and what actually pulls the wagon or is ridden on a journey, it also has a modern meaning of “partnership” and “balance”. The 4th, is Asc (Ash), which is both Yggdrasil and what man was made out of in the Edda lore, thus representing the macrocosm and the microcosm…. the whole cosmos.

  39. Your Kittenship, I know, it’s like noticing that the sea is wet.

    M, thanks for this. Because I have Aspergers syndrome I was never any good at push hands — the capacity to sense other people’s qi is one of the things I don’t have — but I understand the theory, and yes, it’s very apropos here. As for Levi, “Leh-vee” is about as close as an English speaker can get.

    Susan, good! Yes, that comment on knowledge was based on the Tetragrammaton.

    Omer, thanks for this.

    Trystan, it’s an interesting detail of the history of the Latin alphabet that I, J, and Y were originally the same letter — Y was originally ii, written ij, and only later conflated with the Greek letter Upsilon — and U, V, and W were originally the same letter — W is literally double U, as it’s still said in English. So if you treat each triad as one letter, you have 22 Latin letters.

    Scotlyn, yep. It’s because Hegel didn’t grasp this that all his followers, including Marx and Mussolini, all just kept going around in the same unproductive circles.

    Karma, thanks for this.

    Indian, many thanks for the clarification. You might be interested to know that I’ve been reading Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine — a little at a time, since it demands a great deal of reflection — and finding remarkable points of contact between what he had to say and the occult teachings that unfolded from Lévi’s work.

    Jbucks, hang in there! With an ongoing labor shortage and help wanted signs everywhere, you should be fine if you refuse the shot and make them fire you. You’re certainly right about Elen and Coel; the word Awen can also be analyzed in the same way.

    Gullindagan, excellent! Classic Cabalistic analysis in a Runic key. Have you tried it with other Heathen divine names?

  40. Hey, Papa G-
    i just wanted to take a moment before i start mending a pile of things here, that i also wanna re-thank you for taking all the love you and Sara had coiled up for your babies and saved it for …ALL THIS.

    i’ve tears streaming down my face because i am taking your lead and trying to do what you’re doing here all over this medium and trying to preach in other ways on other media or in REAL LIFE. thanks for daring to round all us freaks up loosely from afar and doing it so deftly and powerfully and most important: EXPANSIVELY.

    you are reaching the world and starting a wave and i catch your vibe and will amp it UP ever more in my ways no matter how deep or quiet they may try to bury me. thanks for making it all Real. all the things we figured we imagined for our whole entire lives and thanks for saying, yeah.. it IS real. now move on.

    thanks for not letting us get stuck in victimhood guilt and being empowered as individuals so that we may love everyone with our own acceptance understanding and fierce love of our deepest selves. and in a hurry!

    it’s waking humanity up with a big deep KISS.

    i see what you’re doing and i’m glad and see why you turned down the offer of art to accompany your book. ha! that was tiny an offering! i followed the voice the URGE– and thank you for being the anti guru and turning it down because it could’ve been one helluva ego trip like i wonder happened ultimately with jodorowsky and camoin and their deck.

    it all poisons everyone with a good idea… the ATTENTION.

    that’s why i feared the at least 5X leo inclination and the radio seemed like heroin cocaine and weed all at once.

    the other side of this is feeling small and horrified… HOW DID THIS HAPPEN SO FAST?

    but it wasn’t fast, was it? us pariahs artists freaks here, we always KNEW it was horribly wrong and was like an infected boil ready to…

    anyhow, thanks for daring to be first and work with all this audacity idling waiting to LOVE as a VERB and not a trademarked tagline or consumer holiday (2-D paper obligation) like it’s become.

    thanks for saving it all up for this and now.

    wow. the whole Reality is giving me vertigo now. but like everyone i go in phases. i act decisively and scare myself for my lack of deep thinking, then i stop and think and have to breathe in a proverbial paper bag that IS the world now. no! i have to breathe AIR open air. it is they who’re breathing in their portable proverbial paper bags.

    how did i become a “writer” with my continue disregard and slaughter of fragile pretty little metaphors and similes?

    it’s upside world.

    anyhow, i thank you with awe because you’re still in the middle of all these swirls global tornadoes of screaming and it’s a sight to … yeah, BEHOLD. for i can SEE it.

    it’s amazing to be alive at this time now and witness all that makes every movie book or idea from before seem… cute tentative ..abstract.

    i see beauty but that medivac nurse’s blood gore agony. and it’s not contained. all of this is globally uncontained.

    cartoonists, for that is what i truly am and have only ever really BEEN, is a cartoonist. we’re weird we call things we line and color things into being or we see it coming. Robert Crumb wrote a cartoon about Aline Kominksky using her NAME–albeit misspelled by one letter– before he ever met her. i heard that in the last few years and i laughed and that was the last of a series of crazy “coincidences” i’d hear about artists.

    thanks for having whatever is Asperger’s if it helps you ignore the ego trips that have taken every leader thinker and artist down into comical irrelevance before they had a chance to be …

    dangerously effective. affective? both and all not either or.

    and finally, if this love letter of gratitude is dangerous to be public, keep this to yourself feel it and let it go. i don’t NEED even an upnod. this is just to say THANK YOU. i see how you hit it out of the park. a pitch for the angels indeed. thanks.

    this is fun to be alive and learn how not to waste all THIS that i am on being the Loyal Opposition. when James called me and my long-ago former dreams out on that, we had big fights. i love him for having the testicles to hold up to it and not back down for my ego.

    i love him because he trained me in the art of being a cowboy even as i’ll do it MY loud wild always talking and screaming way. this no talking thing ain’t for ME, but i love knowing i also didn’t ever imagine ANY of it all my life.

    thanks for being the leader of the new circus. but letting us do our acrobats our way together from afar.

    cool. very cool. i knew nothing about what was and IS possible. i haven’t had this much energy for maybe even a couple of decades. back when i believed in anything and everything. and now i do again. only it’s different. i’ve got awe and feel like a child because i didn’t see ANY of this. i have no idea what will happen.

    even as i’m sad… I LOVE IT. i love not knowing anything. how anything will turn out. all i knew was enough to end up here, right where i am. it’s PERFECT.

    like if you’ll do the same thing either way, then do it.

    i’ll keep going, and it’s fun to be alive when you’re here. glad James turned me onto you and when he scoffed at your blending of all your earlier ideas i said PERFECT! he gets it. it’s just WORDS. words put everyone off at first then they back themselves into a corner and find they’re where they started.

    i laugh. but it’s okay. things take the time they take. and i don’t know what is good and right or its best timing. i’m just a soldier here following orders. i used to think that was lame now i see it’s necessary humility but you’ve gotta have a god bigger than you. not smaller.

    thanks for being epically unapologettically HUGE as a Father. i love being RIGHT! for that i get to pull out my ego and let it fling itself around the grass in circles til it’s good and high and passes out on the ground in all smiles.

    with much affection gratitude and awe–


  41. Thanks! I’ve been playing around with it a little. So, “Thor” for instance, works in modern English, but doesn’t work in runes, because “TH” is one rune (Thorn), so is spelled with 3 letters.

    “Odin” now, is kind of interesting. There are two ways to do it, both are on the darker side.

    1, using the Younger Futharc, and thus more appropriately, is Ur, Thurs, Is, Naudr… Ur is, in the Younger, rain or slag, substance that is driven out by force. Thurs’ are the forces of chaos that cause torment. Ice is the solid bridge between force and chaos, and Need is the necessity of the world, the doom.

    2. Using the “pop heathen” spelling, the new pronunciation with Elder Futhark, which is not scholerly, but probably constitutes most of the tattoes that people have in the ol’ USA. Uruz, Dagaz, Isa, Nauthis. The last two have basically the same meaning, “Ice” and “Need” but the primary duality is between Primal Force, and thr Light of Day.

    Of course we might spell it a 3rd way in AS, WODN, where Joy and Estate are married by the Day, but in order to keep this blissful order, to avert constriction in the heart we Need to be proactive and alert to any dangers, for one can only lose in suffering what is dear to the heart.

    These are quick, could probably use some more pondering.

    “FRIG” can work in any Runic key also, and the others from both pentagram rituals will be fun to play around with too.

  42. Calls to mind the Timaeus, in which it is spoken of the demiurge (male, “the father”), who draws upon the primordial chaos and pours it into “the receptacle” (female, “the mother”), from which emerges the ordered cosmos.

    Axé and all blessings…

  43. Past couple weeks had been odd. I’ve been listening to the book at work and reading it, going to listen to it again.

    The word tetragrammaton without prior experience or knowledge of it came up before a few years back and humbled through my head. I looked it up because It couldn’t be an actual word, right? Right?! I had some humble pie that day but I also had no idea what I just stepped into, in fact I sorta ran away from it because it was intimidating.

    Fast forward to this week and last week. I listened and am still listening to the audio book, trying to get through the first few chapters in the physical book. I made several connections and learned quite a bit, was indeed very very pleased and somewhat depressed. A Christian aquaintance decided it was a good idea to probe and bring up certain interests after commenting that I gave off the air of a medical professional and that I seemed to be a critical thinker with a strong sense of justice (though overall he probably meant no harm) I had a sense some stuff like this would pop up. Tuesday night was interesting. INRI jumbled around in my head insessantly before getting home in the morning didnt recall any reference to it in the audiobook and paid no mind. Did my relaxing exercise thoughts of Samuel saying “Here I am!” and the story of the prodical son came up. As soon as I thought of father a sort of veil lifted temporarily and there was immense joy followed by waterworks. Finished relaxing. Did LBRP, nothing different up till the attention exercise. Odd but familiar energy essentially came right in. Well there’s the Son! Had me recount the process of his physical death. More waterworks because certain things sunk in deeper.

    Today I just remembered I got a triquetra encased in a circle tattooed on my back and at that realization I probably seemed a bit wierd to the lady sitting across from me at the diner as I was drinking cheap coffee.

    A few hours ago I was tossing and turning, trying to sleep and felt extremely weak spiritually and physically perhaps empty. As a voice is saying “this is the state most people are in, be careful of what you do and say” or something to that effect. To make me feel relatively normal some physical stimulation had to be employed.

    I’m certainly entertained, and perplexed. The way of thinking of things has changed significantly as I tell myself “Oh, Oh God, this certainly hits differently!”.

    Comedically thinking and speaking and from my experience and observation of other testimonies. It’s all like a trashcan or food flying across the room and nailing anyone who is partaking and caught unaware in the head. Of course it wouldnt affect those veteran students and teachers already aware of how the unruly cafeteria of life is ruled or have since been initiated; not as much anyways, unless they themselves want to be made into lunchmeat as the few who gave attitude to the lunchlady did. But the good ones chuckle amongst themselves and do their best to avoid the chaos and/or teach the newcomers, freshmen, “freshmeat”, willing to listen, the essence of survival in this new and exciting, but foreign setting. Welcome to the Jungle indeed.

  44. Ah, the court cards of the tarot now make sense. This is definitely a theme for meditation and staring at the court cards for awhile.

    YHVH: King, Queen, Knight, Page.

  45. On the ‘incommunicable axiom’:

    (JMG already explained the triangle, the hexagram, and the square in circle.)

    TARO, beginning with Alpha and ending with Omega, has a staurogram in the center. The staurogram (according to Wiki) is an abbreviation of stauros (representing Jesus on the cross).

    INRI, starting and ending with Iota, have the labarum in the center. (Labarum already explained by JMG.) INRI has lots of ‘translations’. Igne Natura Renovatur Integra (‘by fire, nature renews itself’ or ‘the fire renews nature incessantly’) is one. Iamin, Nour, Rouach, Iebescal (water, fire, wind, earth in Hebrew) is another.

    So TARO represents Death, INRI represents Resurrection (a renewal, of sorts 🙂 ), and together they are a polarity.

    Levi also mentions AZOTH as a four-lettered name. JMG provides one way to interpret it. Another way would be to consider the “Th” as one sound. If AZOTh was converted to Hebrew letters, it would be Aleph-Zayin-Vau-Tau. Aleph and Vau have been discussed before. Zayin, which means sword, can also mean “power of feminine”; it is the seventh letter and is associated with the day of rest. (If you want to read more about Zayin, And then Tau, which means cross (which is associated with death, and then the cycle starts again with Aleph).

    Moving this imagery to Levi’s Cherub of Ezekiel… (–occult-symbols-ancient-symbols.jpg)

    First, ADONAI, one of the names of God. A Tetragrammaton spelled ADNI which, with some manipulation, ends up meaning Ani YKVK (I am HaShem), Ani referring to the World of Feminine and YKVK referring to the World of Masculine. (I didn’t figure this out… I happened across this article: So ADNI has a polarity (feminine:masculine::attraction:repulsion), represented by the two triangles of the hexagram. In the past, Levi implied that the two triangles represented the Microprosopus and the Macroprosopus. The top triangle (with Man, Ox, Eagle, and Lion) would be the Microprosopus; the bottom triangle would be the Macroprosopus. If you look at the Eagle, his wings are in the top triangle (but look like they go to the apex and the bottom corners) and also are on the bottom triangle (almost looking like angel wings). The Eagle represents the Supernal Mother (per JMG), who brings the light from Kether down to the rest of the spheres, so it makes sense that the Eagle is what connects the Macro- and Microprosopus.

    Ezekiel’s Wheel has the YHVH Tetragrammaton in the inside, TARO circling the outside, and INRI circling the outside. The cycle of INRI makes sense when viewed as the elements… in Chapter 2, JMG suggested we find a ‘play of the elements in our world of experience’. The Wiki entry on Classical Elements has a picture of a burning log, explaining how when the log is burned (fire), smoke (air) rises, water bubbles out, and charcoal/ash (earth) fall. (and then a seed sprouts in the ash, uses air and water to grow, and then it can be burned again…)

    Pitagore’s (Pythagoras’) Wheel has the Sun, the Moon, and a triangle at the 12 o’clock position (so Sun-Moon-atmosphere). Saturn is at 3 o’clock; Jupiter is at 9 o’clock. (per JMG) They represent a polarity, and so represent the hexagram. Saturn is constrictive while Jupiter is expansive. (And Saturn is the Father and Jupiter the Son.) At 6 o’clock, Mars and Venus represent masculine and feminine, which are needed for creation. The pentagram represents a Man in balance, so when Man is balanced, he is the Microprosopus in the hexagram, and can create. And by having planet symbols and geometric symbols, it is like having two circles (like the first wheel having TARO/INRI and YHVH).

    Ezekiel’s Wheel shows Creation as a process and a cycle. Pythagoras’ Wheel shows Creation as a variation of Levi’s triangle-hexagram-square-in-circle image. And the ADNI hexagram reminds me of the merkaba. There is a class of angels (Ophanim or Galgalim) which are wheels of the merkaba. In Ezekiel’s vision, each Ophanim is really two nested wheels (at right angles to each other), covered in eyes (so Ezekiel’s having TARO/INRI and YHVH at right angles to each other and Pythagoras’ having geometry and planets at right angles). The badge on the Emperor card has four eyes. I thought the eyes were the elements on each side of a square (and represented a Yod) while the eyebrows for each eye were concave (so receptive, a Heh). After staring at the wheels for a while, I think the eye-Yod/brow-Heh still works, but the way the eyebrows are drawn imply a circle or wheel rather than a square.

    What does all this mean? Hopefully an answer to Levi’s riddle (for this chapter), what is the absolute secret that “depends on an incommunicable axiom and on an instrument which is the great and unique athanor of the Hermetics of the highest grade?”

    So what is the axiom and the athanor? I have an idea, but want to meditate some more. (And I want to read what everyone else has figured out so far…)

  46. @JMG Let me try this another way. I’m scared by what happened, and you are the only person I can turn to. Should I be concerned? Should I try to protect myself from this aggressive spirit ? If so, how? I know nothing about how to work with unexpected spirits.

  47. You can ask Google to give you all translations for the word “sun.” What I was interested in is the word “Moon” a four letter word, and remember “oh, swear not by the Moon, inconstant Moon,” yes, there are multiple translations for the four letter word.

    The next object that comes to mind with four sides is the dreidel.

  48. Erika, thank you. Just — thank you.

    Gullindagan, and it’s utterly appropriate that Woden would have that kind of energy in his name. He is the god of a dark age — it’s no surprise that the sword he thrusts through the tree is called Notung, “the needed or needful one.” Siegmund’s words from Die Walkure come to mind: “Notung! Notung! Niedlicher stahl!” (“Notung! Notung! Most needed steel!”)

    Fra’ Lupo, it certainly should. Plato’s metaphors stand close to the source of the Western esoteric tradition.

    Copper, funny. The Food Fight of the Mysteries! Yes, it’s like that sometimes.

    John, ding! We have a winner.

    Karma, a fine meditation.

    Tomriverwriter, no, there’s no need to be concerned. Invoke your own deities daily and be aware that the thing that’s being projected at you is simply a thoughtform being pushed at you.

    Jenxyz, good! I don’t know enough about dreidels to know what the letters on the four sides mean traditionally…

  49. @Tristan32000 (#31):

    The older form of our alphabet did indeed have fewer than 26 letters.

    I and J were originally just variant forms of one and the same letter with a single name, as were U and V. During the Middle Ages (and well into the 1500s) it was just the position of the letter within a word, and not its pronunciation, that determined whether one should write I or J, U or V.

    Our letter W was an English invention, standardized by printers in the late 1400s. Originally there were three such letters in early printed English books: “double U” (VV run together as W), “double E” (EE run together into a single letter, or a single piece of moveable tyoe), and “double O” (OO run together into a single letter or a single piece of moveable type, looking somewhat like a pince-nez). Early Scandinavian printers occasionally ran “double A” (AA) together as a single letter or a single piece of moveable type, and it was treated as a distinct letter (at the end of the alphabet) even in Modern times in Scandinavian dictionaries. (Now it is usually written as Å and å.)

    Also, for many Medieval scribes K was just a fancy variant of C, used at the beginning only of a few special words such as KALEND(A)E “Calends” instead of CALEND(A)E.

    So that brings the most common Medieval form of our alphabet down to 22 letters.

    There are other complexities as well, such as two distinct letters Y with distinct names, “ui” and “Greek i” (compare the English name “wye” and the French “Y grec” for one and the same modern letter Y). This distinction was common from the 9th to the 11th centuries. One of those two distinct letters resembled our modern “y,” the other resembled the modern Greek letter called upsilon (υ). The first was written in Latin words, like “hyrcus”; the second in Greek or Hebrew words like “Moυses” (= “Moyses” in modern Lartin spelling).

    Sorry for all this complexity, but history is never as siumple as one might hope, and the prehistory of our modern alphabet is extraordinarily complex.

  50. PS Our host’s comment (#40) about Y and IJ is also quite correct. There were (and are) many forms of our alphabet, varying from one country to the next.

    Only the programming demands of the computer age (ugh!) have forced most countries to reduce this wonderful variety to a single standard alphabet. I gather that quite recent Spanish dictionaries have begun to alphabetize N and Ñ, L and LL, and R and RR as if each pair of distinct letters were one and the same letter, with a “funny mark” added, or simply the single letter written twice. In my wife’s older Spanish dictionaries, IIRC, words beginning with LL are a separate “chapter” after all the words that begin with L, and similarly for R vs. RR, N vs. Ñ.

  51. Kyle I think types is a decent term for what you’re talking about; I just don’t know what Russell’s system in particular has anything to do with it.

    But if the idea is that this fourth thing is a class of the other three and therefore different in kind I think that the connection you made to Russell’s type system makes sense. I didn’t catch that the idea that the fourth thing was different in kind was part of this concept — as I said I only skimmed the article.

    In any case my point was not to police how people interpret some mathematical concept; it just seemed I could clarify what the mathematical concept was. I’m not a professional mathematician anyway I just studied it in undergrad and had some interest in the foundations of mathematics.

  52. Esteemed Archdruid, on my first pass through this month’s chapter, I stumbled on a sentence in the translation done by you and Mark Mikituk which I suspect is a bit of an “oops.” It’s in the middle of page 58, the first full paragraph. It says “…four types of phenomenon and was subjected to the groping of the profane sciences under four names:…”

    Looking at my French Editions Bussiére copy, it seems the translation should in fact be “…”four kinds [or types, or sorts] of phenomena, and has been characterized within secular science under four names:…” (quatre sortes de phenomenes, et a ete soumis tautatonnement des sciences profanes sous quatre noms:)

    Yeah, I know, my version lacks the panache of your sentence. Any time you can get “groping” and “profane” in the same sentence is definitely a win!

    Lots to chew on in this chapter, even WITHOUT the groping and profaning! 😊

  53. @Tomriverwriter, have you tried to meditate on the experience?

    I am no expert, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    Seen from the outside, it looks like you are having doubts about your faith (scary indeed). Any other person would be having a crisis of a more mundane type (anxiety, stress, alcoholism), but since you are awaken, you see this vivid scenery.
    The more I read occult teachings, the more I think this is all about preparing yourself to see through the veil, to not let the images fool you. Use your training and try to see the message behind your visions.
    Maybe you just need more time, holding to your practices as suggested will give you that support.

  54. Hi John Michael,

    Is Vau another way (among others I presume) to describe the land, or environment, or background or whatever, in which we as individuals operate with the former ternary? Could the word manifestation also be appropriate? It hints at a small ability to exercise a persons free will.

    And the analogy of two springs geared to push in opposite directions, kind of alerts a person to the concept of balance, but also that of resistance and/or deflection. I tend to believe that the harder a person resists, the worse the final force of impact. I’m considering that story right now.

    Moving toward that point remains an option for each of us, and it is one of the secrets of the mage. This I believe was inherent in Dion Fortunes definition of magic. It guides us towards an outcome, without so expressly saying how it should so apply. The folks pursuing the great working going on all around us right now, might do well to consider this and take a good cold hard look at themselves. Although my gut feeling suggests that they are not up for that particular challenge.

    John Michael, I ask you this: Does the Emperor indeed have clothes?



  55. Bryan, it’s not an “oops” at all. The word soumis is cognate to English “submit,” and tautatonnement comes from a root meaning “to touch.” We chose to use the more concrete meanings, which are very much present in the French use of these words, in place of the bland abstraction of “has been characterized.”

    Chris, no, the first Heh is the land, or environment, or anything else that is receptive to your actions. Vau is the result of the conjunction of that Heh with an active Yod. Thus Yod is the farmer, Heh the land, Vau the farm as a dynamic system, and Heh final is the produce of the farm. The art of getting out of the way of a push so as to let it wind down — yes, that’s an essential magical skill. As for the emperor, the only thing he’s got on him at this point is mummy wrappings, and those — like the dead dried flesh beneath them — are becoming increasingly tattered of late. In due time, there’ll be nothing left but a heap of bleached bones.

    Marlena, thanks for this!

  56. Ezekiel’s Wheel has YHVH, INRI, and TARO going in a circle, so even though they can describe creation as manifestation from a higher Sphere to a lower Sphere, in Ezekiel’s Wheel, I see them as representing the cycle within a Sphere.

    Pythagoras’ Wheel, on the other hand, has creation as 3-2-4 on a vertical, as Levi has with the triangle-hexagram-square-in-circle diagram in Chapter 4. The way the book has been progressing, 3-2-4 seems to be manifestation from a higher Sphere to a lower Sphere. But, in the Introduction, the Sphinx’s riddle was 4-2-3. So perhaps the Sphinx was describing going up the Spheres rather than coming down.

    I associate Malkuth with four (because of the four elements), but the bottom of Pythagoras’ Wheel has a pentagram and hexagram. Where is the four?

    I think the large hexagram on the Cherub of Ezekial image isn’t really a hexagram… it really is a merkaba, just drawn in 2D. The top triangle (with Man, Ox, Lion, and Eagle) is a tetrahedron, with the Eagle being the base that is flat against the base of the tetrahedron on the other side.

    So what is the other side, other than the Eagle (wings) we can see? It is ADNI (Adonai as a tetragram). What tetragram would be on the Sphinx-y side? I had an idea, but it only worked if ADNI was written backwards. (And, sheepishly, it took me a while to realize that in Hebrew, it is written ‘backward’, to my normal way of writing.) But then my idea wouldn’t work, because my second tetragram would be written left-to-right, too. Then I thought, nope, in Levi’s original drawing of the hexagram (with Macro- and Microprosopus, they are reflections of each other, so my ADNI can be left to right and my other tetragram can be right to left.

    ADNI is Hebrew is Yod-Nun-Daleth-Aleph.

    Yod, we know. Nun is Fish, which is a form in water (so feminine). Daleth, our Hebrew letter for this chapter, is Door. Even though Daleth is the letter Levi put in Chapter 4, Daleth is the letter assigned to the path of Empress (who brings Kether’s light to the lower Spheres). And passing through Daleth is Aleph.

    So Aleph through Daleth is still Aleph, but that trinity resolves into Mem (which is water). A-D-A-M (as in Adam Kadmon, not Adam and Eve).

    When we were studying the Empress, Marlena13 noticed that she held her fingers to make the letter Shin. I found this page when I was reading up a Shin (, which was quite interesting and explains what happened to the Mem of Adam.

    If you look at the image of Mem here (, it shows that Mem actually contains Vau. And Vau is the rib which Binah (the Supernal Mother) took from Adam Kadmon. When you remove the Vau from Mem, Nun remains. Vau (the Nail) is masculine; Nun (Water) is feminine. (Adam and Eve? Mars and Venus on Pythagoras’ Wheel?)

    What also works out pretty cool is Binah in Hebrew is Asher, spelled Vau-Shin-Aleph. Without the Vau, it is Ash (Shin-Aleph), which translates to fire. If Binah is represented by water, then Ash and Asher are fire and water, the fiery water of creation in the Garden of Eden. (This is my interpretation of the passage from the Zohar quoted on the Shin page.)

    If you take the rib, though, and add it to the Vau in Binah, the Vau looks like a Heh. And Heh-Shin-Aleph is Ashah, which translates to woman. (And Shin-Aleph also means man.) (My interpretation of the passage from Genesis quoted on the Shin page.)

    (I don’t know Hebrew and it took me a while to figure out the letters involved… I know there are some Commentariat that know Hebrew, so please let me know if I goofed anywhere.)

    This interpretation (I hope) explains how the Astral Light, thanks to Binah, flows through ADNI and then ADAM (Kadmon) and then to Adam and Eve in Malkuth. Humanity in Malkuth strives towards the pentagram which, I suspect, somehow leads back to 4 (then 2 and then 3), which is what the Sphinx wants us to figure out. But that probably needs some insights from Chapter 5. And Chapter 6. So now I’ll go back to trying to figure out what the athanor is in this chapter…

  57. @ jmg, Abraham, Ladyit CuteKitten Of LOLCat Thank all of you for your advice. If the spirit comes again, I will ask it its name. In the meantime, I will continue invoking and talking to my deities.

  58. Well I was doing pretty well until this chapter and now I feel a bit at sea. It is tough reading through the comments and seeing so many other readers seem to grasp these idea so much better than I do. But hey, we all have our roads to travel. So, let’s see if I have understood anything at all.


    V=Union of these two forces
    H=The outcome, which in this case is passive


    R=Union of these two forces
    I=The outcome, which in this case is active

    Is it theoretically possible to have a tetragrammaton in this pattern (just using a random name as an example):


    S=Union of these two forces
    S=The outcome, which in this case is… balanced? oscillating? changing?


  59. Karma, good! A rich and complex meditation.

    Tomriverwriter, glad to hear it.

    AV, you’re doing fine. This is not easy stuff to process, especially if you don’t have a background in the kind of symbolic thinking Lévi is trying to teach — and who does, until they’ve wrestled with this stuff? Yes, it’s possible to have Tetragrammatons in the YHVV pattern, as we may as well call it; in that case the outcome facilitates combination on another scale or plane. Think of it as a catalyst.

  60. Y. Chireau #8: I started reading UNSONG once quite a while ago, but became busy with other things and it fell by the wayside. Thanks for bringing it up; I think I’ll give it a go again.

    Joy Marie

  61. On p59 he talks about the living image of the sun entirely penetrating the earth. When I was researching borehole-type ground source heat pumps I tried to find out where the tipping point is between solar heat going down and geothermal heat coming up. Nobody seems to agree and I heard answers between a couple of metres and hundreds of metres. Either way it’s pretty shallow. So does that mean on other planes the sun’s rays go all the way through?

  62. Hi John Michael,

    Apologies, the English language does not have words for what I was attempting to describe using the word ‘land’, but you then went and described it using another language altogether using the word: Vau, the farm as a dynamic system. Down here the Indigenous folks speak of the term in English as ‘country’. That is commonly understood elsewhere using the English language to refer to the nation itself, but the Indigenous folks use the word to describe the territory, the people and critters, all the flora, the spirits, the minerals, like everything – it’s all encompassing. So I’m guessing when they proclaim ‘welcome to country’ in a ceremony, that an honour and an obligation – which is also being imposed – not that many folks would understand that. And you hear ‘caring for country’ or ‘healing country’ and western thought patterns just can’t comprehend what an awesome task it is that is being discussed.

    As an understanding of how humans fit into the environment in this fragile corner of the planet, the concept works pretty well. The concept also highlights a weakness in western thought and culture – and I’d be almost certain the Indigenous folks are all too well aware of.

    By sheer chance the other day I became aware of a Latin phrase in relation to the Arthurian tales: “In inceptum finis est”, meaning “In the beginning is the end”. And it is true of our culture, even today. But I reckon we’ll eventually learn it, it’ll just be by the hard road. And sometimes that is how things roll.



  63. I’ve been making a list of words that start with D:

    Daleth = Door


    One of the intriguing symbols on the Knapp-Hall L’Empereur is the white shield in the upper right corner, depicting four eyes in a square formation.

    The eye is a symbol of concentration, a center of consciousness. A still point. A door leading both in and out.

    This wise old man has much to teach.


    Thank you for pointing out that the bird on the side of his throne is a Phoenix. At first glance, I too thought it was an eagle.


    Your Latin quote reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets. He returns again and again to the theme of ends and beginnings…to doors we never opened….to the still point at the center.

  64. I have noted in previous comments that I am concurrently reading The Divine Comedy. On pondering L’Empereur, I realized his is the first card facing away from us. Le batelleur, La Papesse, and L’Imperatrice are all facing us in one way or another.
    His gaze is elsewhere. Do they have messages for us which he does not?
    We are to his left: In the Divine Comedy, the descent into the Inferno is to the left, whilst the ascents of Purgatorio and Paradiso are to the right. Are we, the novices, to be avoided until we have learnt enough?
    Yet more mysteries to meditate on.

  65. Hi Goldenhawk,

    So true! The doors we never opened and the fear of the still point at the centre. Beautifully spoken. Thanks.

    You’ve now left me wondering what the poets and philosophers have to say about today’s society.



  66. @Darkest Yorkshire,

    The Sun gives off all kinds of radiation. What we feel as heat is infrared radiation. It has (relatively) long wavelengths, so doesn’t penetrate very far. Ultraviolet radiation (what causes sunburns) has (relatively) short wavelengths, so it can penetrate deeper.

    Some solar radiation contains particles with mass (alpha radiation is helium nuclei, beta radiation is electrons, but these particles are large enough that they can be blocked by plastic or metal). The Sun also gives off neutrinos, which are so small they can travel through the entire Earth.

    Neutrinos weren’t discovered until the 1930s. But it seems that the Hermeticists ‘knew’ about a lot of things before scientists ‘officially’ discovered them…

    fun pictures:
    different wavelengths of solar radiation:
    different wavelengths in a pretty picture:

  67. In the Catholic Church, Mary is considered the new Eve. So we have Yod and Eve, or Yodheva.

    God impregnated Mary, which could be Yod and Heh, giving birth to Jesus which is Vau. But Vau means nail, and Jesus is nailed to the cross, the quaternity. This action gives birth to a new Heh, which is the Church. Catholics consider the Church to be feminine, and this corresponds to the feminine Heh for Mary.

    But the Church is also a Yod because it is now ”impregnating” people with the word of God. And those people will have a saved soul and then they will evangelize the notion to other people.

    I keep thinking of fractals and ”self-similarity of scale.” Nature is one gigantic fractal that is recursive outward and inward. I can’t imagine anything other than a fractal world in an eternal, non-limited universe. Yod He Vau He, creating level upon level forever.

  68. RandomActsOfKarma #68, I knew about neutrinos but never thought of them coming from the sun before. Has science actually detected a neutrino yet? It’s been taking so long I thought of a joke whenever someone says science hasn’t proved the existence of gods. Why would they? They can’t even find neutrinos, and they believe in those.

    Do you know how deep ultraviolet penetrates into the earth? It’s not something I could find with a quick search.

  69. @Peter Van Erp,

    In the deck I am using, the Emperor is looking to his side, rather than at us. And even though the Papesse and the Empress are facing us, the Papesse’s eyes are veiled and the Empress’ eyes are closed.

    Levi said the Sun is the eye of God (so, a window or door through which the Divine light can shine). Our physical form cannot endure looking directly at the Sun; stare at it too long and we go blind. I don’t think they are avoiding us because we aren’t worthy. I think you are right that they have to protect us from them until we have learned enough and can see them with our mind.

    The Magician, on the other hand, can look directly as us (and we directly at him) because (I think) he is who we are trying to become.

    Thank you for commenting on this… I hadn’t meditated on it until you brought it up. 🙂

  70. John–

    Does a tetragrammaton have to have it’s fourth character repeating one of the previous three to be effective? If not, how does one interpret the pattern of four distinct characters? TORA, for example, or JOVE?

  71. Recently I’ve been trying to describe the psychological process that gives rise to action and have since settled on a similar “tetragrammic” pattern:

    First there is a desire, which sets the goal of any action. Then there is our belief (or maybe understanding) about the means by which that goal may be reached. Together these two trace out a course of action we might try following to achieve our desire. Then comes the will, to bring the potentiality of that plan into actuality. Finally, the action itself.

  72. @RandomActs, I thought L’Imperatrice had a phoenix on her card, which played a big role in my meditations, and the L’Empereur had an eagle..well actually I can’t quite tell what bird he’s has tbh.

    JMG, are you able to clear this confusion up?

  73. @Darkest Yorkshire,

    Re: neutrinos

    You mean that experiment where they had what looked like thousands of cups lined up deep in the Earth, hoping to catch a neutrino underground? Yes! They finally did! (They had found ‘antineutrinos’ previously, in the 1950s, and Frederick Reines got a Nobel Prize in Physics for it in 1995, but I think theirs was made deliberately with radiation and such.)

    Re: UV underground. I don’t know off the top of my head; I’ll research and see what I can find.

  74. Yorkshire, excellent! The further you go up the planes, the more transparent things become to the influences of spirit, and so yes, up a plane or two the influence of the Sun descends to the heart of the Earth.

    Chris, okay, that makes a great deal of sense!

    David BTL, no, you can also do a Tetragrammaton with four different letters. In that case you’re not focusing on the repetition of a pattern from one of the first triad to the fourth — instead, you’re paying attention to the differences among the four elements of the Name.

    Valenzuela, good! That works quite well.

    Youngelephant, some decks have one, some have the other. It depends on exactly what symbolism you want to use. If I ever design a deck on this pattern the Emperor will have a phoenix and the Empress will have a (heraldic) pelican, but that’s because those have alchemical meanings that are relevant.

  75. Dear Darkest Yorkshire (#70),

    Oh yes, scientists have been detecting neutrinos for decades now! Their existence is firmly embedded in the pantheon of subatomic particles. They still retain an aura of mystery, though, partly due to their ghostly, virtually completely non-interacting nature with normal matter. For example, it is estimated that one would require a barrier made of lead and about ONE LIGHT YEAR thick (~6 trillion miles) in order to stop even 50% of the neutrinos that would otherwise pass through that volume of space. Also, while neutrinos were for years believed to be massless, it is now known that they do possess mass, but on a scale so very much lower than any other fundamental particles that their masses have still not been accurately determined.

    As for ultraviolet radiation penetrating into the earth, no, for all practical purposes it does not. Even into human skin, ultraviolet radiation cannot effectively penetrate more than a millimeter or two. Now, into water, that is a different story, but its ability to penetrate depends on a whole host of factors such as suspended particulate matter, dissolved solids, the angle at which the light is hitting the water, etc. etc.

  76. Since the topic of neutrinos has come up, I’ve sometimes wondered if neutrinos might be etheric in nature: they are ghostly, and typically pass through matter as if it’s not even there; most of the ones we’ve detected originate in the sun; and have some very strange properties. It has the very interesting implication though of meaning that conservation of mass/energy is true only if we take the physical and etheric planes as a whole, which I feel confident has implications I can’t even begin to speculate on.

  77. The first thing that comes to mind about the tarot card is while the Empress stays in the palace and looks after the realm, the Emperor is in the field on campaign. And transporting his meditation cube everywhere he goes is probably a logistical nightmare. 🙂

  78. In China number four is associated with death. Apparently the reason is that in Chinese these two words are pronounced the same, so this association could be dismissed as insignificant coincidence. Still, this does not exclude the possibility of deeper symbolic and metaphysical relation.

    In fact, number four can easily be related to death. Consider various temporal cycles. The seasons: spring brings the birthing of life which then peaks in summer, grows old in autumn and finally dies off in winter. Times of day: dawn, noon, dusk and midnight, the last one obviously corresponding to death. Phases of life: childhood, adulthood, old age and death. Ages: starting with Golden Age and finishing with Dark Age, Kali Yuga, a time of dissolution until disapearance, e.g. death.

    If we add the first four numbers – 1+2+3+4=10 – we reach a new One (1+0=1), of a higher order maybe. Thus four is the final element of the whole, nothing else is needed or possible.

    Four also seems to be the number of Christianity. Besides the name of the God, there is also the shape of the cross, which is defined by its four points. It is somewhat curious that Levi didn’t find meaning in the shape of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. Perhaps he professed his faith so as to protect himself from persecution which would threaten him if he did not do so. If so, who can blame him?

    As I see it, the teachings of Jesus consistently praised and upheld life as something most valable, even holy, something to treasure and cherish. However, after his death, the message of Christianity altered dramatically, it perverted, transforming it into a death cult. Its symbol became the cross, a tool for killing. Makes one wonder, if Jesus was hanged, would then gallows be the symbol of Christianity? His alleged resurection (while affirming him as a deity) caused the focus to switch from this life to the other life, e.g. to death. This life became worthless preparation for the real thing, which is to happen upon death. The fascination with the heaven and hell became a fixture. All this conviniently happened after Jesus was dead, so he could not renounce it. Add to this the talk of the second coming and the judgement day and it shows how obsessed Christianity is with death (contrary to Jesus’s original teaching). No wonder then that it goes to the very opposite of the Jesus’s message of love, as JMG splendidly showed in his essay “A Christmas Speculation”.

  79. @ Darkest Yorkshire,

    Re: UV light penetration

    About 6% of the total solar radiation falling on the Earth is UV. (

    Most UV is absorbed by the atmosphere. (see Figure 1

    The UV that does get through the atmosphere is either absorbed by the ground/water on the surface of the Earth or is reflected. (Snow reflects most of the radiation that strikes it; black top asphalt absorbs most of the radiation that strikes it.) (

    “The penetration into soil, vegetation, sand, and roads or building surfaces is usually limited to at most 1 or 2mm. For sand of large grain size, the penetration may reach 1-2 cm…” (, right column ‘, second paragraph)

    Solar radiation can travel deeper in water; good graph here:

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  80. JMG,
    I have been slogging along with the High Magic book club and engaging Levi’s ideas. Or, rather attempting to engage his ideas. This is extremely challenging and I know what AV meant at comment #60, though I think that I am more lost. It seems that Levi expects his readers to have a rather extensive background including a strong understanding of Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and French just to start with. Seems a reader also needs to have read ancient Greek literature and most of the extant occult literature of the time. I’m a beginning beginner and I will keep plugging along, but this is a slog.

    Accordingly, a few of questions:

    1. On p. 58, Levi says that the magical agent is the fourth emanation of the life principle – what are the other three? Did I miss something?
    Then, he says “of which the Sun is the third form.” The third form of what? The magical agent? The life principle? What is the difference between emanation and form? Also, I thought the magical agent emanated from the Sun?

    2. Following this he recommends that we see the initiates of Alexandria and the doctrine of Hermes Trismegistus. Where does one locate them? Sorry, I guess I don’t have the background or capacity to intuit what Levi means here.

    3. On p. 59, Levi says that the incommunicable axiom is enclosed Cabalistically . . .
    And then we have the symbolic figures on p. 60. So, Cabalistically means symbolically? Was this standard practice for cabalists as a way to maintain certain standards among the ranks of practitioners (i.e., keep out the vulgar or otherwise unworthy)? Or, to maintain secrecy/privacy? Some other reason?

    Sorry for the length.

  81. JMG,
    Also, with the four letter transformations (i.e., YHVH, INRI, etc.), how does one know whether a particular letter is active or passive, positive or receptive, and which element is connected? Or, is it just related to its place or location in the word?
    Thank you for all your help.

  82. I don’t have much to add to the discussion at this time, but I did want to check in and say I’m still following along with the reading and the practice. I ordered an old book for French reading and a French English dictionary, both used, so my wife and I are both enjoying looking at those a little bit each day. It’s heartening to know, according to the author of the reading book, that I already know 2000 French words. I also plan to check out from the library some Easy French picture books to practice with. And of course Levi’s text in French to see what I can pick up.

    I also got a copy of Robert Graves complete Greek Myths. Between that and any Bible reading that may go along with this, there is a ton to delve into.

    Thanks for hosting and and your encouragement.

    & thanks to other commenters for all the food for thought.

    Justin Patrick Moore

  83. @Will1000,

    You had posted some questions yesterday. I think JMG is busy with the Magic Monday forum today, so I thought I would share what I had in my notes.

    For the magical agent, in the post for Chapter 4, JMG wrote “It is also the fourth emanation of the life principle, of which the Sun is the third; if you know your classical Neoplatonism you know that the first is the One, the ground of being, and the second is Mind, the intellectual principle or unity of the Platonic Ideas.” I am not very well-versed in Neoplatonism, but on the August 15, 2021, Magic Monday (, JMG included a picture with this as part of the explanation: “The outermost circle is the Absolute, the ultimate impersonal godhead; the large triangle is the Supreme Being; the smaller triangle is the Solar Logos.” This (to me) relates back to the imagery of the Cosmic Doctrine, which makes more sense to me. (Since CosDoc was written after High Magic, it wasn’t what Levi was referring to, but it makes more sense to me than the Neoplatonic stuff. 🙂 )

    Regarding the initiates of Alexandria, I found webpages discussing the School of Alexandria (such as this one It seems to be where Egyptian and Greek and Hebrew theology/philosophy were studied and perhaps blended. (Wiki also mentions that Neoplatonists were there, too, which relates back to the One and Mind in the previous paragraph.) According to Hermes Trismegistus is the Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth (so I imagine he was studied at the School of Alexandria, but I haven’t found a source that says so).

    For figuring out what the Hebrew letters mean, JMG has lots of good info in his Paths of Wisdom book. I’ve also found a lot of good info on this site:

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  84. Karma #85,
    Thank you. Should have known to go back and read JMG’s post. I read the post on Wednesday, but have been doing the card meditations and had my nose buried in High Magic trying to comprehend. Will definitely take a look or two at those websites.

    For the letter transformations, Levi, JMG (and others in comments here) used the Latin alphabet. So, was hoping to understand how any particular letter from that alphabet has a certain character or quality. Maybe there is a one to one correspondence with Hebrew?

    Thanks again,


  85. Anonymous, that actually makes quite a bit of sense. The etheric level is sufficiently close to the material that some writers — Dion Fortune is among these — lump them together in a single plane, in which matter as we know it forms the lowest three sub-planes, energy the middle sub-plane, and etheric substance the three higher sub-planes. The possibility that the conservation of energy might involve transfers from the physical to the etheric sub-planes is fascinating, and testable — and of course treating them as a single plane might make sense of all the chatter about “dark matter” and “dark energy”…

    Goran, as we’ll be discussing next month, the central name of Christianity has five letters, not four — and, er, you’re lumping a very large, diverse, and complex movement into a single negatively characterized container, which isn’t especially helpful.

    Will1000, (1) er, I addressed this in my post: “It is also the fourth emanation of the life principle, of which the Sun is the third; if you know your classical Neoplatonism you know that the first is the One, the ground of being, and the second is Mind, the intellectual principle or unity of the Platonic Ideas.” (2) The initiates of Alexandria are the Neoplatonists — the Neoplatonist school began at Alexandria — and the alchemists; the doctrine of Hermes may be found in the Corpus Hermeticum. You can find all these online. (3) Yes, it means symbolically, and also cryptically. Here again, I’ve talked about this in my posts. The Great Arcanum is dangerous, and so Lévi wants to make sure that it stays reserved for those who are willing to work for it. (4) It’s purely positional. The first letter is always the active force, the second the receptive substance, the third the interaction, and the fourth the result.

    Justin, glad to hear it.

  86. I need to make a correction to my earlier post.

    I learned today that Adam in Hebrew is not ADAM, it is ADM, so my ADNI to ADAM doesn’t quite work like I thought it did. But it can still work. 🙂

    So Aleph through Daleth resolves to Mem (and then to Vau and Nun).

    So, starting at the top of the image, the Unity to duality makes a trinity. Then the trinity to a quaternary (ADNI). Then quaternary to trinity (ADM) to duality (VN). At the bottom, it is still a duality. But, if the duality can get everything balanced, it becomes a Unity (but in microcosm).

    Or, 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1. And 1-2-3-4=10 (hat tip to #Goran!), Pythagoras’ most perfect number.

  87. Are you guys using “etheric plane” in the Theosophical sense, as part of a septenary metaphysical system?

  88. “Anonymous, that actually makes quite a bit of sense. The etheric level is sufficiently close to the material that some writers — Dion Fortune is among these — lump them together in a single plane, in which matter as we know it forms the lowest three sub-planes, energy the middle sub-plane, and etheric substance the three higher sub-planes. The possibility that the conservation of energy might involve transfers from the physical to the etheric sub-planes is fascinating, and testable — and of course treating them as a single plane might make sense of all the chatter about “dark matter” and “dark energy”…”

    I’ve sometimes wondered if this was what made the materialists back away shrieking from cold fusion: if it draws energy from the etheric plane, well, anything which gets too close to that makes materialists freak….

  89. I’m still puzzling out the riddle of the Sphinx while looking about the break room at work, and this popped out:

    The Sphinx’s riddle can be seen in the debased magic of commercial logos. This can be exemplified in the logos of McDonalds, Burger King, and Red Bull. Burger King’s logo is first composed of four elements, a bread element two meat elements comprising the name “Burger King” and another bread element. Concentrating on the “Burger King” there are the two elements of the individual words, “King” being in a larger type to further this emphasis of two. Lastly the Bread-Meat-Bread completes the three element synthesis of the gestalt of the logo.

    McDonald’s does a similar thing, we start from the outside in with a red square of four sides within which everything else is enclosed. Then we get to the two gold arches that comprise the “M” of the company’s initialism. Tracing their arcs, we find that the “M” ends in three points. Writing out the “M”, we find the 4-2-3 pattern repeated, with a 4 stroke up-down-up-down that forms 2 incomplete triangles with the writing instrument stopped at three points.

    Red Bull has its can with a four square checker pattern on which is centered the logo in two words “Red Bull”, with two opposing bulls facing each other. Reading further down the words “Energy Drink” creates three sentences, Red Bull-the two bulls-Energy Drink. The two bulls facing each other butting a golden orb is another trio.

    Say what you will about cacomagic, but there is respect to be found in a basic level of competence exhibited in these examples.

  90. @ighy,

    I very much like how you found Sphinxiness in commercial logos. I looked up the logos, to make sure I saw what you were describing.

    One small addition… the Burger King logo has a partial circle (in blue) going around the bread-meat-bread. So the ouroboros cannot reach his tail… maybe inadvertently admitting that you can eat their burgers, but they really won’t nourish you?

    I shall be looking at logos as I drive to work tomorrow to see if there are other Sphinxy ones!

  91. Goodness it has taken me a while to intuit the flow of meanings in cards 1 through 4. So far, meditations on the triads in the Dolmen Arch have complemented my efforts with Levi’s material. I may even have a framework developing for reading the pips based on a combination of Dolmen Arch and the Major Arcana cards 1 to 10 as a result.

  92. Hi JMG, I was studying your element attributions above and noticed some discrepancy with the cross diagram in the text. For example, the diagram associates water with man (homme) and (my assumption being that the cross diagram mapped to the cardinal directions) to the east. I assume I must be missing something.. could you please help me square this circle? Thanks!

  93. Not much to add, just that the first thing that came to mind for me, is the four-fold breath.
    Inhale, hold, exhale, hold.
    Yes, meditation is probably required!
    Helen in Oz

  94. I originally thought that the orb the Emperor was holding represented the Moon, since it seems to be reflecting light from the Sun (at the top of the wand). However, I came across a page that describes the Alchemical Orb (and has some other pictures of it, with more detail). You can read the author’s interpretation and see the pictures here:

    The author states that the Alchemical Orb is at the center of Nature and interprets much of the symbolism with a Christian lens. The author also translates the text written on the Orb and offers an interpretation of that as well.

    What I see in the Orb is a Unity divided into a duality and then a trinity.

    My first interpretation was that the Unity divided into a duality with the vertical line (with Venus and Mars representing feminine and masculine). Then, the horizontal line has the symbols for Saturn and Jupiter (father and son) (on the left). The horizontal line has symbols for the Sun, Mercury, and the Moon (on the right). So, the horizontal line shows a duality dividing into a trinity.

    But the second picture (with colors) implies a different direction… The Unity being divided in half by the horizontal line (which is red, representing Fire or masculine). The top half of the Orb is blue (representing Water or feminine), which resolves into the yellow horizontal line (representing Air) which leads to the cross (which represents the Elements, or Earth).

    Since creation is a cycle and the Orb is a sphere, I think it is deliberate that it can be viewed both ways.

    Looking back at the other cards we have studied, I do not see anything on the Magician or the High Priestess card that could be interpreted as an Alchemical Orb. The Empress, though, has a sphere with a cross at the top of her staff which could represent the Orb (though it doesn’t have any of the divisions marked on it).

    On the picture of the card that JMG posted, the Orb is all green (which would tie in nicely with the idea that it represents Earth) and the Sun and Moon are on the Emperor’s breast plate. So the Emperor isn’t Earth, but perhaps he is the protector?

  95. @kyle @Indian in America

    A probably apocryphal story is that just before Russell and Whitehead published their Principia Mathematica, a friend brought them this statement of logic: “This statement is false.” The contradiction is obvious; if the statement is true, then it’s false, and if it’s false, then it’s true.

    To get around the problem, Russell and Whitehead then created a system of types. As I understand it, “this statement” is of a different nature (type), because it’s is a statement about another statement, rather than about “reality.” Douglas Hofstader had lots of fun writing books about self-referential statement s like this.

    You can only get his kind of error if you deal in pure logic, which is essentially a system of language. JMG wrote a lot in his posts about the difference between reality and language, which describes reality but isn’t reality. I think the mages understand the difference most than most people.

  96. Fascinating discussion of Tetragrammatons here–I had not considered that there were many of them! After mulling it over for a while, I wonder if ALLA, the Muslim name for God (which I believe is symmetrical in Arabic) would qualify as a tetragrammaton, and whether there is any male/female significance to the syllables– Along those lines, I remember reading “The Satanic Verses” years ago (a novel by Salman Rushdie) in which he said that there was a partner goddess, ALLAT or TALLAT that got cut out of the Quran early on. I was never sure whether this was a fictional plot device in the book, or something with evidence that Rushdie rolled into the plot–but it could also be a tetragrammaton if written ALAT.

    Finally, has it occurred to anyone that MAGA is a tetragrammaton? If so, I wonder if Trump had an occultist on staff that set it up for him 😉 It also occurs to me that Trump’s broad smile with no teeth showing is very much like the smile on the mask of Guy Fawkes, a current meme these days. It would not surprise me to find out that Trump practiced smiling like Guy Fawkes to evoke those emotions in his followers. The Donald may be a lot more complex than we thought he was!

    Emmanuel G

  97. @tomriverwriter,

    Re: Levi’s male/female element assignments

    I am not completely done with making sense of this, but what I have so far:

    1. The elements make a cross. To keep with the idea that one axis of the cross is the same gender intersecting with another axis of the other gender, Air and Earth need to be the same gender (so male). Why are Air and Earth on the same axis? Per Aristotle’s Transmutation Diagram:

    2. The implications: see Look at how the “four elements” combine to make the three alchemical elements (if that is what they are called? I know they have a name, don’t remember it right now…): Earth + Water makes salt, Water + Air makes mercury, Air + Fire makes sulphur. Using Levi’s designation of masculine/feminine, each of the three alchemical elements is comprised of masculine and feminine. The only masculine/feminine combination of the four elements that isn’t included in the ‘making three alchemical elements” formulas is Earth + Fire. I think that is relevant somehow. The only explanation I’ve figured out so far is that Earth is Gaia and Fire is Sun so Earth + Fire makes Moon. (But I haven’t found that written anywhere, so that is just my hypothesis for now.) But if Fire is Spirit Above and Earth is Spirit Below, then Earth + Fire would be Spirit Within, and that ends up making a micro-Unity (as in Microprosopus), so it sorta fits.

    3. I also think this somehow ties in with the Zodiac signs and which are Absolute or Fixed or Volatile. My old tarot book (that came with my old tarot deck, 30 years ago) has a chart similar to this:×593.png I think it fits in with this stuff somehow, but I have not meditated on it yet. It is on the list of things to ponder, but I have some other things I have to work on first.

    If you come up with other ideas, please share!

  98. @RandomActsOfKarma In astrology, Earth is feminine. This makes the zodiac signs alternate between masculine and feminine. But I agree that Levi makes Earth masculine.

    JMG also assigns the alchemical elements to elements, not to combinations of elements: salt to earth, mercury to water, sulphur to fire and azoth to air.

    I’m willing to work with different assignments between astrology, alchemy and Levi, but I’d like to get it clear.

  99. @tomriverwriter,

    It would be nice if everything was organized nice and neat. 🙂 I am hoping that some day, my internal occult filing cabinet will actually look like a filing cabinet. Right now, it is like a big tables with piles of stuff on it that I sort through…

    I am curious, though, about your statement that Earth in astrology is feminine and Levi makes it masculine. When I think of Earth as one of the four elements, I think of Earth as dirt and rock and trees and such. When I think of Earth in astrology, I think of the planetary spirit (I call her Gaia; she probably has lots of other names, too). Do you see the Earth as being an element *and* a planetary spirit? Or do you think they are two different things that happen to have the same name?

  100. @RandomActsOfKarma I like your analogy of the filing cabinet and the table covered with stuff. Intellectually I tend to be a neatnik, wanting everything in order. I don’t think that’s a useful tendency with this study group.

    I hardly ever think of Earth as a planetary spirit like Mars or Neptune. I feel Earth as an element, and Gaia as a primordial mother goddess, and me as a child who depends on that mother. She’s generally benevolent but not always. Thinking of her as a planetary spirit seems like a good exploration.

  101. I need to be more consistent in my daily study/meditation of the cards.

    I am using the Oswald Wirth tarot and the Greer/Mikituk translation of Doctrine and Ritual.

    For l’Empereur card my main impression the cross and balance (Porta Librarum) as the card’s picture is balanced in a quadrant design.

    – The globus cruciger (ball w/ cross on top) is perfectly positioned at “..that central point at the junction of the right angles of two infinite triangles” (pg. 58). Thinking this junction is the central point for another two infinite triangles but for this card, the orb is perfectly placed in the middle.

    – Pg. 64 upper half = air; lower half = earth; left half = fire; right half = water. This produces quadrants which are a mix of two elements.

    – Each quadrant of the card has one main element of the overall picture
    upper left (mix of air/fire) – caduceus.
    upper right (air/water) – Emperor’s head, helmet/crown and upper body.
    lower left (earth/fire) – where the Emperor’s feet meet the earth (legs crossed) and flower.
    lower right (earth/water) – the supporting cube with eagle upon which the Emperor sits.

    That’s the general framework of much of my meditation though I admit no great insight.

    – I just came across RandomActsofKarma’s post a couple of comments above (#101 24 Sep. 10:08 am) which provides much food for thought (where genders meet; 4 elements combine to make 3 and possible tie in to Sun & Moon and homework on possible Zodiac tie in).

    – I have found this web site and series useful, especially as it describes other tarot decks:

  102. @Scotty,

    Oooo… I did not know the proper name for the globe with the cross on top. Thank you!

    And the website you linked to seems to have lots of info! Thank you for sharing.

  103. @Emmanuel Goldstein
    This is probably not the right post to discuss this, but I do see signs during Trump’s presidency and campaign that astrology and astrological timing was used for various events. Among these things was the timing for the Blue Angels flyovers early in the pandemic, the timing of rallies was set to coincide with the beginning of planetary hours (often the beginnings of such rallies was delayed so that the Don appeared when the planetary hour began).

    It also explains why he didn’t really do much but fulminate at the presidential results, with an inaugural chart like that, and the presidential death cycle of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, who in their right mind would stick around for such an unfavorable term change

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