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The man who writes books on a Thelema that no beast shall divine. Founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium. Member of Ordo Typhonis since 2000 e.v. More articles and essays are posted at https://ordoastri.org/ and https://tantrika.co.uk/

Friday, 31 October 2014

Enochian Magick and Hermetic Initiation

It is sometimes said, and with great conviction, that the system of Thirty Aethyrs cannot be equated to the magical grades. The view is a surprising one as this has been done and has proved to work very effectively.

Enochian Magick: Sigillum Dei Aemeth (Ordo Astri)
The spiritual and magical work of the grades beyond Tiphereth is mapped and explored through the Enochian system of Thirty Aethyrs. Nonetheless, we may still sometimes hear, ‘Only Jesus Christ has really attained the grade of Tiphereth’, or, ‘No human being can cross the Abyss’. In a certain sense, such statements are true. For all practical purposes, though, we can best regard such ‘handed-on’ advice as warning us not to claim grades of Initiation we are not entitled to. In any case, grades of Initiation are relative to each person and have no meaning whatsoever outside of an internal magical Order framework.

The post-Tiphereth grades in the hermetic schema cannot be experienced in any full sense through ordinary knowledge, astral exploration or pathworking. The Enochian system nonetheless supplies a satisfactory practical basis for the magical, spiritual and life experiences that correspond to grand-sounding degree titles such as Adeptus Major and Adeptus Exemptus.

The Thirty Aethyrs must be worked systematically. It is foolhardy to try and ‘jump’ to the higher Aethyrs before the lower ones have been thoroughly explored. Firstly, we shall examine how the magical planes work in relation to the Thirty Aethyrs. Then we will see how the whole course of initiation, everything that is possible for the magician to know and understand, can be linked to the Enochian system.

The Terrestrial Plane and the Watchtowers

The material plane is so-called objective reality, as perceived by the ordinary senses of man. The material plane is governed by matter and time. For non-initiates, this world is absolutely true and there is nothing beyond it. In the Enochian system, the terrestrial universe is bounded and gated by Four Watchtowers. Beyond these, in ever widening circles, are Thirty Aethyrs. These may conveniently be thought of as levels of consciousness.

The Etheric Plane: 30th Aethyr (TEX)

The lowest or most material of the Aethyrs is the realm immediately behind that of physical matter. It extrudes into matter in a certain sense, while the upper reaches of the Etheric Plane touch the lower regions of the Astral Plane. The Etheric Plane is the traditional abode of ghosts, ghouls, phantoms and vampires, and is the main reservoir for what is often called the supernatural. It is the main field of operation for psychics, professional mediums and the like, who frequently imagine they are working with ‘higher’ spiritual intelligences. In theory, a Neophyte should be able to enter and experience TEX, the 30th Aethyr, but not those beyond it.

The Astral Plane: 29th (RII) to the 24th (NIA) Aethyr

The lower regions of the Astral Plane are identical to the realms of heaven and hell that are the mainstay of the world’s religions. These Aethyrs are relatively dark. They are permeated with a heavy sense of judgement and sin, yet they include zones of intense desire and longing. Once NIA, the 24th Aethyr is reached, the magician has grown accustomed to travelling in a body of light. Contact has been gained with spiritual forces or intelligences that will assist further progress. The Threshold between the Astral Plane and Hermetic Plane is between NIA and TOR, the 23rd Aethyr. This is more or less identical to the Veil of Paroketh and the magical grade of Dominus Liminis.

The Hermetic Plane: 23rd (TOR) to the 14th (UTA) Aethyr

The Hermetic Plane is a realm of pure consciousness unknown to the astral body of light. In the 22nd Aethyr of LIN, the Holy Guardian Angel prepares the Adeptus Minor for the realisation of the formlessness behind all forms. By the time the 20th Aethyr of KHR has been explored, the Adeptus Major has become accustomed to the Hermetic Plane and has obtained a certain mastery of thought processes. POP, the 19th Aethyr, brings the first intimation of the threshold of the Abyss. In ZEN, the 18th Aethyr, the Adeptus Major is prepared for the initiation to the next grade of Adeptus Exemptus. The highest level of the Hermetic Plane is encountered in the 14th Aethyr of UTA, which is the last Aethyr to be explored before the Oath of the Abyss is taken.

The Spiritual Plane: 13th (ZIM) to the 1st Aethyr (LIL)

The higher grades involve the whole of life’s experience. The Magister Templi is gradually prepared for the crossing of the Abyss. It is imprudent to attempt to enter the higher Aethyrs without the corresponding degree or level of initiation and experience.


This article is adapted from, ‘The Thirty Aethyrs and the Grades of Initiation’, Ritual Magick Volume VIII.
© Oliver St. John 2014, 2019

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

First Steps in Ritual Magick

The ‘sign of the Enterer’ is the method of projecting force used in ritual magick. The mudra is based on the Egyptian god Horus. The method taught by Aleister Crowley is the most well known. It is effective as a means of throwing out force, but it is an unbalanced movement. To practice the mudra of Horus the Enterer as a balanced movement that will not place an unnecessary strain on the universe, it is better to use the alternative method given here, based on the authentic ancient Egyptian mudra of Horus.

First Steps in Ritual Magick: Horus the Enterer of the Threshold
The dual mudra of Horus is (firstly) that of Horus the Enterer and (secondly) that of Harpocrates or ‘Keeping Silence’. In all cases, with the one exception of the three-fold mudra of Typhon, the second mudra always follows the first.[1] Horus the Enterer is sometimes called the Projecting Sign.

Begin by standing with the heel of your left foot against the middle of the instep of your right foot, forming a right angle. Your arms should be straight down by your sides. Inhale a full breath through both nostrils, at the same time bringing both hands up to the level of your ears, palms flat downward. While exhaling strongly, move your left foot a step forward, about twelve inches. At the same time extend both arms before you and turn the palms upward. The hands are brought together from the line of the little finger down to the edge of the palms, forming a ‘v’ shape, like an opened book. The fingers and thumbs are straight and pointing forward. The line of eyesight travels straight ahead, through the ‘v’ made with both hands. The three-fold projection of vital force, prana or radiation, streams from the fingers of both hands and the third eye.[2]

Imagine that you send out much force, in rays of light. Then recover the step, stand upright with your feet in the starting position, and press one finger to your lips in the mudra of Keeping Silence. Imagine the force condenses around you.

The left foot is always used in the step forward, and the leg is kept quite straight though not tensed. The back is kept straight, the body is not ‘thrown forwards’ and the arms are not ‘flung’ as in the description given by Crowley in Liber O—it should be a balanced, graceful movement.

With this dual mudra the magician sends forth a word of light from the void of night at the beginning and end of time. The mudra of Keeping Silence may be assumed astrally or imaginatively as a form of psychic defence. The god is usually seen as standing on—or exuding from—a lotus flower. In the case of psychic defence and protection the god is seen as standing on two crocodiles. The mudra of placing the finger to the mouth is to enclose and seal the circuits of force in the occult anatomy.

Ritual Sonics

The breath is used to utter the words and spells. In Egyptian magick, the name of any thing is the key to its life, power and existence. Magick works when two things are brought together, the vibration of the names and the creation of images or thought-forms. These two are one, for both sound and light are waveforms. In the beginning is the word, the primal vibration. The word is the Logos, the spiritual phallus (‘image’) of the Holy Guardian Angel. The triangular Goddess-Matrix encloses the thread of emanations or fragrant kalas that is the means for the embodiment of the magical spells.

The vibratory technique applies to any ritual where words of power, divine names or ‘barbarous words of evocation’ are used. One must vibrate the words of power in order to make any ritual effective. To do this:
Take in a full breath through both nostrils. As the air is fully expelled the name or word is loudly and forcefully vibrated so as to physically resonate. It is not shouted, and should be sonorous. The vowels are greatly extended. For example, ‘IAO’ is sounded until the breath is exhausted, ‘ee-aah-ooh!’
If it is not possible to vibrate the words loudly and physically then a technique called the Great Voice is used. Imagine that the name or word roars forth to infinity while feeling it strongly resonating within.

The Seated Posture or Asana

We do not sit cross-legged on the floor. Meditation is done seated, similar to the way Egyptian gods are depicted when enthroned. Our back is kept straight but not tense. Our feet are kept flat on the floor; our knees and hips should be straight but comfortably aligned. Our head should be facing forward, looking straight ahead, even if our eyes are closed. The art is to keep perfectly still while remaining calm and relaxed.


It is helpful, though not essential at the outset, to keep the tip of the tongue pressed lightly against the roof of the mouth. There is no counting of breaths or breathing through a single nostril as in some yoga practices. The idea is to maintain deep, relaxed breathing throughout the meditation. The rhythm of the breathing should be something like the slow rising and falling of the tides of the sea.

Breath is the spirit of life. In meditation the breath is used to circulate prana, the energy of life, in the astrosome or sphere of sensation. The astrosome is created imaginatively as an orb of light that surrounds the physical body. It is flexible and can be extended infinitely. One can travel in the body of light to anywhere in the universe and back. With regular practice, the astrosome becomes strong and malleable and can be transformed into any shape that one desires, including that of a deity or of any symbol.

There are many systems of chakras, the power zones within the astrosome—some have five, some six, some have seven or more. There are three points, though, that are vital for practical work. Here, Kundalini Shakti, the living spirit of the energy of life, penetrates the auric field. The North Pole of the universe is visualised as existing vertically above our head, as a star or luminous orb. The South Pole is imaged as the electromagnetic centre of earth, vertically below. Between the poles the heart-centre (Tiphereth) flowers as a golden radiance. It is in Tiphereth that the deity is first invoked. First practice asana and pranayama, then the mudras. Rehearse the mudras physically. Then imagine the form expanding from your heart-centre until it astrally envelops your body. Hold it for as long as you can, then withdraw the form into the Tiphereth or heart shrine.


1. The three-fold mudra of Typhon is as follows: First make mudra of Horus the Enterer. Withdraw force in the mudra of Keeping Silence. Lastly, make the mudra of Set-Typhon (‘V’). The mudra of Typhon corresponds to elemental Fire and the 4=7 degree in the magical system of Esoteric Thelema.

2. The third eye, or ajna chakra, is located between both eyes and above them in the centre of the forehead. It here symbolises the concentration and projection of consciousness. The root of the chakra is best understood as located in the centre of the brain, between the hemispheres.

Adapted from the book for Probationers, The Enterer of the Threshold.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2019

If you found this article interesting, you may also find the alternative Esoteric Thelema Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram useful: Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram.

Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium

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