The Sorcerer

Before we can discuss the Operation of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin, commenced by P. in the autumn of 1899, it is first necessary that we should briefly explain the meaning and value of Ceremonial Magic; and secondly, by somewhat retracing our footsteps, disclose to the reader the various methods and workings P. had undertaken before he set out to accomplish this supreme one.

For over a year now he had been living perdu in the heart of London, strenuously applying himself to the various branches of secret knowledge that his initiations in the Order of the Golden Dawn had disclosed to him. Up to the present we have only dealt with these initiations, and his methods of Travelling in the Spirit Vision, and Rising on the Planes; but still there remain to be shown the Ceremonial methods he adopted; however, before we enter upon these, we must return to our first point, namely — the meaning and value of Ceremonial Magic.

Ceremonial Magic, as a means to attainment, has in common with all other methods, Western or Eastern, one supreme object in view — identification with the Godhead; and it matters not if the Aspirant be Theist or Atheist, Pantheist or Autotheist, Christian or Jew, or whether he name the goal of his attainment God, Zeus, Christ, Matter, Nature, Spirit, Heaven, {135} Reason, Nirvana, Asgard, No-Thing or No-God, so long as he has a goal in view, and a goal he is striving to attain. Without a goal, he is but a human ship without port or destination; and, without striving, work, WILL to attain, he is but a human derelict, rudderless and mastless, tossed hither and thither by the billows of lunacy, eventually to sink beneath the black waters of madness and death.

Thus we find that outside the asylum, we, one and all of us, are strenuously or slothfully, willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, progressing slowly or speedily towards some goal that we have set up as an ideal before us. Follow the road to that goal, subdue all difficulties, and, when the last has been vanquished, we shall find that that “some goal” is in truth THE GOAL, and that the road upon which we set out was but a little capillary leading by vein and artery to the very Heart of Unity itself.

Then all roads lead to the same goal? — Certainly. Then, say you, “All roads are equally good?” Our answer is, “Certainly not!” For it does not follow that because all roads lead to Rome, all are of the same length, the same perfection, or equally safe. The traveller who would walk to Rome must use his own legs — his WILL to arrive there; but should he discard as useless the advice of such as know the way and have been there, and the maps of the countries he has to journey through, he is but a fool, only to be exceeded in his folly by such as try all roads in turn and arrive by none. As with the traveller, so also with the Aspirant; he must commence his journey with the cry, “I will attain! and leave nothing undone that may help him to accomplish this attainment. By contemplating the Great Work, and all means to {136} its attainment, little by little from the Knowledge he has obtained will he learn to extract that subtle Understanding which will enable him to construct such symbols of strength, such appliances of power, such exercises of Will and Imagination, that by their balanced, chaste and sober use, he MUST succeed if he WILL to do so.

So we see, it matters very little whether the Aspirant, truly the Seer, cry “Yea” or “Nay,” so long as he do so with a will, a will that will beget a Sorcery within the cry; for as Levi says: “The intelligence which denies, invariably affirms something, since it is asserting its liberty.”

Let us now inquire what this liberty is, but above all, whatever we write: “Be not satisfied with what we tell you; and act for yourself.” And, if you act with daring and courage, you will indeed outstep the normal powers of life and become a strong man amongst strong men, so that “if we say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done.” For the land into which you enter is a land which, to the common eye, appears as a fabulous land of wonder and miracle. Yet we say to you that there is no wonder imagined in the mind of man that man is not capable of performing, there is no miracle of the Imagination, which has been performed by man, the which may not yet again be performed by him. The sun has stood still upon Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, and the stars of heaven have fallen unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken by a mighty wind. What are suns, and moons, and stars, but the ideas of dreaming children cradled in the abyss of a drowsy understanding? To the blind worm, the sun is as the fluttering of warm wings in the outer {137} darkness, and the stars are not; to the savage, as welcome ball of fire, and the glittering eyes of the beasts of night: to us, as spheres of earth's familiar elements and many hundred million miles away. And to the man of ten thousand years hence — who knows! And to him a hundred million years after that — who cares! Senses may come and go, and the five may become ten, and the ten twenty, so that the beings of that last far-off twilight may differ from us, as we differ from the earthworm, and the weeds in the depths of the sea. But enough — Become the Changless One, and ye shall leap past a million years, and an hundred hundred million in the twinkling of an eye. Nay! for Time will burst as a bubble between your lips; and, seeing and understanding, Space will melt as a bead of sweat upon your brow and vanish!

Dare to will and will to know, and you will become as great as, and even greater than, Apollonius, Flamel or Lully; and then know to keep silence, lest like Lucifer you fall, and the brilliance of your knowledge blind the eyes of the owls that are men; and from a great light, spring a great darkness; and the image survive and the imagination vanish, and idols replace the gods, and churches of brick and stone the mysteries of the forests and the mountains, and the rapture which girds the hearts of men like a circle of pure emerald light.

The great seeming miracles of life pass by unheeded. Birth and Generation are but the sorry jests of fools; yet not the wisest knows how a blade of grass sprouts from the black earth, or how it is that the black earth is changed into the green leaves and all the wonders of the woods. Yet the multitude trample the flowers of the fields under their feet, and snigger in their halls of pleasure at a dancer clothed in {138} frilled nudity, because they are nearer seeing the mysteries of Creation than they are in the smugness of their own stuffy back parlours; and gape in wonder at some stage trickster, some thought-reading buffoon, and talk about the supernatural, the supernormal, the superterestrial, the superhuman, and all the other superficial superfluities of superannuated supernumeraries, as if this poor juggler were some kind of magician who could enter their thick skulls and steal their sorry thoughts, whilst all the time he is at the old game of picking their greasy pockets.

Miracles are but the clouds that cloak the dreamy eyes of ignorant men. Therefore let us once and for all thunder forth: There are no miracles for those who wake; miracles are for the dreamers, and wonders are as bottled bull's-eyes in a bun-shop for penniless children. Beauty alone exists for the Adept. Everywhere there is loveliness — in the poppy and in the dunghill upon which it blows; in the palace of marble and in the huts of sunbaked mud which squat without its walls. For him the glades of the forests laugh with joy, and so do the gutters of our slums. All is beautiful, and flame-shod he speeds over earth and water, through fire and air; and builds, in the tangled web of the winds, that City wherein no one dreams, and where even awakenment ceases to be.

But in order to work miracles we must be outside the ordinary conditions of humanity; we must either be abstracted by wisdom or exalted by madness, either superior to all passions or beyond them through ecstasy or frenzy. Such is the first and most indispensable preparation of the operator. Hence, by a providential or fatal law, the magician can only exercise omnipotence in inverse proportion to his material interest; the alchemist makes so much the more gold as he is the more resigned to privations, and the more esteems that poverty which protects the secrets of the magnum {139} opus. Only the adept whose heart is passionless will dispose of the love and hate of those whom he would make instruments of his science; the myth of Genesis is eternally true, and God permits the tree of science to be approached only by those men who are sufficiently strong and self-denying not to covet its fruits. Ye, therefore, who seek in science a means to satisfy your passions, pause in this fatal way; you will find nothing but madness or death. This is the meaning of the vulgar tradition that the devil ends sooner or later by strangling sorcerers. The magus must hence be impassible, sober and chaste, disinterested, impenetrable, and inaccessible to any kind of prejudice or terror. He must be without bodily defects, and proof against all contractions and all difficulties. The first and most important of magical operations is the attainment of this rare pre-eminence.1)

The via mystica leading to this pre-eminence may aptly be compared to a circle. Wherever the Aspirant strikes it, there he will find a path leading to the right and another leading to the left. To the right the goal is all things, to the left the goal is nothing. Yet the paths are not two paths, but one path; and the goals are not two goals, but one goal. The Aspirant upon entering the circle must travel by the one or the other, and must not look back; lest he be turned into a pillar of salt, and become the habitation of the spirits of Earth. “For thy vessel the Beasts of the Earth shall inhabit,” as sayeth Zoroaster. The Magus travels by both simultaneously, if he travels at all; for he has learnt what is meant by the mystery: “A straight line is the circumference of a circle whose radius in infinity”; a line of infinite length in the mind of the Neophyte, but which in truth is also a line of infinite shortness in that of the Magus, if finite or infinite at all.

The circle having been opened out, from the line can any curve be fashioned; and if the Magus wills it, the line will be a triangle, or a square, or a circle; and at his word it will {140} flash before him as a pentagram or a hexagram, or perchance as an eleven-pointed star.

Thus shall the Aspirant learn to create suns and moon, and all the hosts of heaven out of unity. But first he must travel the circumference of the circle; and, when mystically he has discovered that the goal is the starting-point, and where he entered that circle there also will it break and open out, so that the adytum of its centre becomes as an arch in its outer wall, then indeed will he be worthy of the name of Magus.

The keystone to this arch some have called God, some Brahma, some Zeus, some Allah, some even IAO the God of the sounding name; but in truth, O seeker, it is Thy-SELF — this higher dimension in which the inner becomes the outer, and in which the single Eye alone can see the throbbing heart, Master of the entangled skein of veins.

Let us for example's sake call this attainment by the common name of God (SELF as opposed to self). And as we have seen the path of union with god or goal is twofold:

   I. The attainment of all things.
   II. The destruction of all things.

And whichever way we travel to right or to left the method is also twofold, or the twofold in one:

   I. Exaltation by madness.
   II. Exaltation by wisdom.

In the first we awake from the dream of illusion by a blinding light being flashed across our eyes; in the second, gradually, by the breaking of the dawn. In the first the light of knowledge, though but comparable to the whole of Knowledge as a candle-flame to the sun, may {141} be so sudden that blindness follows the first illumination.2) In the second, though the light be as the sun of knowledge itself; first its gentle warmth, and then its tender rays awake us, and lead us through the morning to the noontide of day. Like children of joy we rise from our beds and dance through the dewy fields, and chase the awakening butterflies from the blushing flowers — ecstasy is ours. The first is as a sudden bounding beyond darkness into light, from the humdrum into the ecstatic; the second a steady march beyond the passionate West into the land of everlasting Dawn.

Concerning the first we have little to say; for it is generally the illumination of the weak. The feeble often gain the little success they do gain in life, not through their attempts to struggle, but on account of their weakness — the enemy not considering they are worth power and shot. But the strong gain their lives in fight and victory; the sword is their warrant to live, and by their swords will they attain; and when they once have attained, by their swords will they rule, and from warriors become as helmèd kings whose crowns are of iron, and whose sceptres are sharp swords of glittering steel, and reign; whilst the weak still remain as slaves, and a prey to the wild dreams of the night. Of a truth, sometimes the weak charioteer wins the race; but on account of his weakness he is often carried past the winning-post by the steeds that have given him the victory, and, unable to hold them back, he is dashed against the walls of the arena, whilst the strong man passing the judges turns his chariot round and receives the crown of victory, or if not that, is ever ready to race again. {142}

To learn how to WILL is the key to the kingdom, the door of which as we have seen contains two locks, or rather two bolts in one lock, one turning to the right and the other to the left. Either pile up the imagination with image upon image until the very kingdom of God is taken by assault; or withdrawn one symbol after another until the walls are undermined and the “cloud-capped towers” come tumbling to the ground. In either case the end is the same — the city is taken. Or perchance if you are a great Captain, and your army is filled with warlike men, and you are in possession of all the engines suitable to this Promethean struggle — at one and the same time scale the bastions and undermine the ramparts, so that as those above leap down, those beneath leap up, and the city falls as an arrow from a bow that breaks in twain in the hand. Such warfare is only for the great — the greatest; yet we shall see that this is the warfare that P. eventually waged. And where the strong have trod the weak may dare to follow.

This path must necessarily be a difficult one; illusions and delusions must be expected, temptations and defeats encountered with equanimity, and fears and terrors passed by without trembling. The labours of Hercules are a good example of the labours the Aspirant, who would be an Adept, must expect. However, there is not space here, nor is this the place, to enter into the twelve mystic works of this man who became a God. Yet let us at least note three points — that the tenth labour was to slay Geryon, the three-headed and three-bodied monster of Gades; that the eleventh was to obtain apples from the garden of the Hesperides, where lived the three daughters of Hesperus; and that the last was to bring upon earth the three-headed dog Cerberus, and so {143} unguard the gates of Hades. Similar is the Adept's last labour, to destroy the terrors of hell and to bring upon earth the Supernal triad and formulate the ש3) in יהשוה.

One idea must possess us, and all our energies must be focused upon it. A man who would be rich must worship wealth and understand poverty; a man who would be strong must worship strength and understand weakness; and so also a man who would be God must worship deity and understand devilry: that is, he must become saturated with the reflections of Kether in Malkuth, until the earth be leavened and the two eyes become one. He must indeed build up his tower stone upon stone until the summit vanish amongst the stars, and he is lost in a land which lies beyond the flames of day and the shadows of night.

To attain to this Ecstasy, exercises and operations of the most trivial nature must be observed, if they, even in the remotest manner, appertain to the one idea.

You are a beggar, and you desire to make gold; set to work and never leave off. I promise you, in the name of science, all the treasures of Flamel and Raymond Lully. “What is the first thing to do?” Believe in your power, then act. “But how act?” Rise daily at the same hour, and that early; bathe at a spring before daybreak, and in all seasons; never wear dirty clothes, but rather wash them yourself if needful; accustom yourself to voluntary privations, that you may be better able to bear those which come without seeking; then silence every desire which is foreign to the fulfilment of the Great Work.

What! By bathing daily in a spring, I shall make gold?” You will work in order to make it. “It is a mockery!” No, it is an arcanum. “How can I make use of an arcanum which I fail to understand?” Believe and act; you will understand later.4)

Levi here places belief as a crown upon the brow of work. {144} He is, in a way, right; yet to the ordinary individual this belief is as a heavy load which he cannot even lift, let alone carry, act how he will. Undoubtedly, if a boy worried long enough over a text-book on trigonometry he would eventually appreciate the theory and practice of logarithms; but why should he waste his time? why not instead seek a master? Certainly, when he has learnt all the text-books can teach and all the master can tell him, he must strike out for himself, but up to this point he must place his faith in some one. To the ordinary Aspirant a Guru5) is necessary; and the only danger to the uninitiate is that he may place his trust in a charlatan instead of in an adept. This indeed is a danger, but surely after a little while the most ignorant will be able to discriminate, as a blind man can between day and night. And, if the pupil be a true Seeker, it matters little in the end. For as the sacrament is efficacious, though administered by an unworthy priest, so will his love of Truth enable him to turn even the evil counsels of a knave to his advantage.

To return, how can these multiform desires be silenced, and the one desire be realised so that it engulf the rest? To this question we must answer as we have answered elsewhere — only by a one-pointedness of the senses — until the five-sided polygon become pyramidal and vanish in a point. The base must be well established, regular, and of even surface; for as the base so the summit. In other words, the five senses must be strong and healthy and without disease. An unhealthy man is unfitted to perform a magical operation, and an hysterical man will probably end in the Qliphoth or Bedlam. A blind man will not be able to equilibrate the sense of sight, {145} or a deaf man the sense of hearing, like a man who can both see and hear; however, the complete loss of one sense, if this is ever actually the case, if far better than a mental weakness in that sense.

All senses and faculties must share in the work, such at least is the dictum of Western Ceremonial Magic. And so we find the magician placing stone upon stone in the construction of his Temple. That is to say, placing pantacle upon pantacle, and safeguarding his one idea by means of swords, daggers, wands, rings, perfumes, suffumigations, robes, talismans, crowns, magic squares and astrological charts, and a thousand other symbols of things, ideas, and states, all reflecting the one idea; so that he may build up a mighty mound, and from it eventually leap over the great wall which stands before him as a partition between two worlds.

All faculties and all senses should share in the work; nothing in the priest of Hermes has the right to remain idle; intelligence must be formulated by signs and summed by characters or pantacles; will must be determined by words, and must fulfil words by deeds; the magical idea must be rendered into light for the eyes, harmony for the ears, perfumes for the sense of smell, savours for the palate, objects for the touch; the operator, in a word, must realise in his whole life what he wishes to realise in the world without him; he must become a “magnet” to attract the desired thing; and when he shall be sufficiently magnetic, he must be convinced that the thing will come of itself, and without thinking of it.6)

This seems clear enough, but more clearly still is this all-important point explained by Mr. Aleister Crowley in his preface to his edition of “The Book of the Goetia of Solomon the King”:

I am not concerned [writes Mr. Crowley] to deny the objective reality of all “magical” phenomena; if they are illusions, they are at least as real as many unquestioned {146} facts of daily life; and, if we follow Herbert Spencer, they are at least evidence of some cause.

Now, this fact is our base. What is the cause of my illusion of seeing a spirit in the triangle of Art?

Every smatterer, every expert in psychology, will answer, “that cause lies in your brain.”

*    *    *    *    *    *

This being true for the ordinary Universe, that all sense-impressions are dependent on changes in the brain, we must include illusions, which are after all sense-impressions as much as “realities” are, in the class of “phenomena dependent on brain-changes.”

Magical phenomena, however, come under a special sub-class, since they are willed, and their cause is the series of “real” phenomena called the operations of Ceremonial Magic.

These consist of:

  1. Sight. The circle, square, triangle, vessels, lamps, robes, implements, &c.
  2. Sound. The Invocations.
  3. Smell. The Perfumes.
  4. Taste. The Sacraments.
  5. Touch. As under (1). The circle, &c.
  6. Mind. The combination of all these and reflection on their significance.

These unusual impressions (1-5) produce unusual brain-changes; hence their summary (6) is of unusual kind. The projection back into the phenomenal world is therefore unusual.

Herein then consists the reality of the operations and effects of ceremonial magic; and I conceive that the apology is ample, so far as the “effects” refer only to those phenomena which appear to the magician himself, the appearance of the spirit, his conversation, possible shocks from imprudence, and so on, even to ecstasy on the one hand, and death or madness on the other.7)

Thus we see that the Aspirant must become a magnet, and attract all desires to himself until there is nothing outside of {147} him left to attract; or repel all things, until there is nothing left to repel.

In the East the five senses are treated in their unity, and the magical operation becomes purely a mental one, and in many respects a more rational and less emotional one. The will, so to speak, is concentrated on itself by the aid of a reflective point — the tip of the nose, the umbilicus, a lotus, or again, in a more abstract manner, on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath, upon an idea or a sensation. The Yogi abandons the constructive method, and so it is that we do not find him building up, but, instead, undermining his consciousness, his instrument being a purely introspective one, the power of turning his will as a mental eye upon himself, and finally seeing himself as HimSELF.

However, in both the Western and Eastern systems, equilibrium is both the method and the result. The Western Magician wills to turn darkness into light, earth into gold, vice into virtue. He sets out to purify; therefore all around him must be pure, ever to hold before his memory the one essential idea. More crudely this is the whole principle of advertising. A good advertiser so places his advertisement that wherever you go, and whichever way you turn, you see the name of the article he is booming. If it happens, e.g., to be “Keating's Insect Powder,” the very name becomes part of you, so that directly a flea is seen or mentioned “Keating's” spontaneously flashes across your thoughts.

The will of a magician may be compared to a lamp burning in a dark and dirty room. First he sets to work to clean the room out, then he places a brightly polished mirror along one wall to reflect one sense, and then anther to reflect {148} another, and so on, until, whichever way he look, up or down, to right or left, behind or before, there he sees his will shining; and ultimately so dazzling become the innumerable reflections, that he can see but one great flame which obscures everything else. The Yogi on the other hand dispenses with the mirrors, and contents himself in turning the wick lower and lower until the room is one perfect darkness and nothing else can be seen or even recognised beyond SELF.

By those who have passed along both these mystic paths, it will be found that the energy expended is the same in both. Concentration is a terrific labour; the mere fact of sitting still and mediating on one idea and slaying all other ideas one after the other, and then constantly seeing them sprout up hundred-headed like the Hydra, needs so great a power of endurance that, though many undertake the task, few reach the goal. Again, the strain brought to bear on a Ceremonial Magician is equally colossal, and often costly; and in these bustling days the necessary seclusion is most difficult to obtain. And so it came about that a combination of both the above systems was ultimately adopted by P. However, it must be remembered that the dabbler in Ceremonial Magic or Yoga is but heaping up evil against himself, just as the dabbler on the Stock Exchange is. Magic, like gambling, has its chances; but in the former as in the latter, without “will to work” chances are always against him who puts his trust in them alone.

There is, however, one practice none must neglect, except the weakest, who are unworthy to attempt it — the practice of Sceptical selection.

Eliphas Levi gives us the following case: {149}

One day a person said to me: “I would that I could be a fervent Catholic, but I am a Voltairean. What would I not give to have faith!” I replied: “Say 'I would' no longer; say 'I will,' and I promise you that you will believe. You tell me you are a Voltairean, and of all the various presentations of faith that of the Jesuits is most repugnant to you, but at the same time seems the most powerful and desirable. Perform the exercises of St. Ignatius again and again, without allowing yourself to be discouraged, and you will gain the faith of a jesuit. The result is infallible, and should you then have the simplicity to ascribe it to a miracle, you deceive yourself now in thinking that you are a Voltairean.”8)

Now all this may be good enough for Mrs. Eddy. To borrow a sword from one of Voltaire's antagonists, and to thrust it through his back when he is not looking, is certainly one way of getting rid of Voltaire. But the intellectual knight must not behave like a Christian footpad; he must trap Voltaire in his own arguments by absorbing the whole of Voltaire — eighty volumes and more — until there is no Voltaire left, and as he does so, apply to each link of Voltaire's armour the fangs of the Pyrrhonic Serpent; and where that serpent bites through the links, those links must be discarded; and where its teeth are turned aside, those links must be kept. Similarly must he apply the serpent to St. Ignatius, and out of the combination of the strongest links of both their armours fashion for himself so invulnerable a coat of mail that none can pierce it. Thus, instead of burying one's reason in the sands of faith, like an ostrich, one should rise like a phoenix of enlightenment out of the ashes of both Freethought and Dogma. This is the whole of Philosophic Scientific Illuminism.

Now that we have finished our short disquisition upon the Methods of Western Magic, let us once again {150} turn to Frater P. and seen how he applied them to his own labours.

Shortly after becoming a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, P., as already mentioned, became acquainted with a certain Frater, I.A. by name, a magician of remarkable powers. At once a great friendship sprang up between these two, and for over a year and a half they worked secretly in London at various magical and scientific experiments.

During this period P. learnt what may be termed the alphabet of Ceremonial Magic — namely, the workings of Practical Evocations, the Consecrations and uses of Talismans, Invisibility, Transformations, Spiritual Development, Divination, and Alchemical processes, the details of which are dealt with in a manuscript entitled “Z.2.” Of the Order of the Golden Dawn, which is divided into five books, each under one of the letters of the name יהשוה.

These five books show how the 0 = 0 Ritual may be used as a magical formula. They are as follow:

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E. Levi, “Doctrine and Ritual of Magic,” p. 19
The greater our ignorance the more intense appears the illumination.
N.B. — the Shin is composed of three Yodhs, and its value is 300.
“Doctrine and Ritual of Magic,” pp. 194, 195.
“Doctrine and Ritual of Magic,” p. 196.
“Goetia,” pp. 1-3.
“Doctrine and Ritual of Magic,” p. 195


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