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Oliver St. John is the author of books on Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v. New articles and essays are posted at Tantrika Books.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Enochian Magick and Hermetic Initiation

Some ‘experts’ as well as the usual armchair occultists say the system of Thirty Aethyrs cannot be equated to the magical grades. It has been successfully used, however, in relation to the grade system, in theory and in practice. There follows a guide to the Thirty Aethyrs and initiation, a synopsis of the Hermetic path.

Table of the 30 Aethyrs: Ritual Magick, Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light

The spiritual and practical work that needs to be mastered in the grades beyond Tiphereth was almost completely undefined until the system of Thirty Aethyrs was thoroughly explored and mapped. Thanks to the Enochian magical system, there is no longer any excuse for those that insist on parroting the shibboleths of old times, such as “Only Jesus Christ has really attained the grade of Tiphereth”, and that “No human being can cross the Abyss”, or that “An Ipsissimus would be taken up by God and disappear from the face of the earth”. In a certain sense, those three statements are completely true. The Initiate will understand precisely how they can be true or false. For all practical purposes we can regard such wisdom, at best, as an attempt to warn foolhardy magicians against claiming grades of initiation they are not entitled to. We deal with this by insisting that grades of initiation are relative to each person, and have no meaning whatsoever outside of the Order.

Although the Tree of Life is undoubtedly the best ever symbol devised for charting the universe and understanding all relations between things, it nonetheless has shortcomings with the higher magical grades. Once Tiphereth is reached it is no longer possible to attain further grades of Initiation simply by learning ordinary knowledge, acquiring technical expertise, and astrally exploring the Tree of Life and other symbolism through pathworking exercises. The situation becomes worse when we contemplate the crossing of the Abyss, for that threshold marks the limits of the human mind.

The system of skrying the Thirty Aethyrs of Enochian Magick supplies a more than adequate solution to this problem. However, the Thirty Aethyrs must be explored 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 entire course of Initiation, everything that is possible for the magician to know and understand, can be linked to the system of Thirty Aethyrs.

Thelemic Sigillum Dei Aemeth

Thelemic Sigillum Dei Aemeth, Ordo Astri

The Terrestrial Plane and the Watchtowers

The material plane is so-called objective reality, governed by the dual illusion of matter and time as perceived by the ordinary senses of man. 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 the Four Watchtowers of the Universe. Beyond these, in ever widening circles, are the Thirty Aethyrs, which are conveniently thought of as levels of consciousness.

The Etheric Plane: 30th Aethyr (TEX)

This, the lowest or most material of the Aethyrs, is a realm considered by occultists to be immediately behind that of physical matter. It extends into matter in a certain sense, while the upper reaches of the Etheric Plane touch the lower regions of the Astral Plane. This realm is the traditional abode of ghosts, ghouls, phantoms and vampires, and is the main reservoir for what is often called the supernatural. It is also the main field of operation for psychics, professional mediums and the like, who 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, and are permeated with a heavy sense of judgement and sin, as well as currents or tides of intense desire and longing. Once NIA, the 24th Aethyr is reached, one 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 the Hermetic Plane is between NIA and TOR, the 23rd Aethyr, and is identical to the Veil of Paroketh and the grade of Dominus Liminis.

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

The Hermetic Plane consists of realms of pure consciousness that cannot be known by 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 that is 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 their own thought processes. In POP, the 19th Aethyr, the first intimations of the Abyss are received. In ZEN, the 18th Aethyr, the Adeptus Major is prepared for the initiation to the grade of Adeptus Exemptus. The highest level of the Hermetic Plane is encountered in the 14th Aethyr of UTA, which is the last Aethyr that can be explored before the Oath of the Abyss is taken.

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

The higher grades, more so than any others, involve the whole of life’s experience. The Magister Templi is gradually prepared for the crossing of the Abyss. It is extremely unwise to attempt to enter the higher Aethyrs without the corresponding degree or level of initiation and experience


A complete guide to Initiation and the Enochian system of Thirty Aethyrs is included in Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light.

© Oliver St. John 2014, 2018

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

First Steps in Ritual Magick

The method of projection in ritual magick, known as the sign of the Enterer, is based on the Egyptian god Horus. The method taught by Aleister Crowley is effective as a means of throwing out force, but it is an unbalanced movement. To do the mudra of Horus the Enterer as a balanced movement that will not place unnecessary strain on your physical or astral vehicles, follow the procedure taught to our students. This is based on authentic ancient Egyptian depictions of the god Horus.

The Egyptian God Horus

Ordo Astri Ritual of the Pentagram: The Egyptian God Horus

The mudra of Horus consists of Horus the Enterer and Harpocrates or Horus of Silence. In all cases, with the one exception of the mudra of Typhon, the second mudra always follows the first. 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.

(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.)

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 characteristic of the god Harpocrates or Hoor-paar-kraat. 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 Aleister Crowley in Liber O—it must be a balanced, graceful movement. The mudra we give here is identical to the way that the ancient Egyptians portrayed the god Horus.

With this dual mudra the magician identifies his or her self with the Word or Logos, issuing forth the primal utterance, streaming light from the mouth of the void of night at the beginning and the end of time. The Enterer may also refer to admission to a magical Temple, or admission to the circle of the eternal or Company of Heaven that confers Initiation in the real sense. 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.

There is no mantram, for this is a silent vibration, not a sonic utterance as such. Light and sound are both waveforms. The ancient Egyptians graphically symbolised the radiation of light or energy by a stream of golden ankhs.

Ritual Sonics

By names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened.

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The breath is used to utter the words and spells. In so doing, the magician becomes at one with the creation of the universe from the beginning of time—as symbolised and activated through the three primary mudras of the Ankh and the dual Horus. All things are expressions of the primal utterance, the Word.

In Egyptian magick, the name of any thing is the key to its life, power and existence. Thus, the Golden Dawn cited the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians in the above quotation. 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 was the word, the primal vibration. That word is the Logos, the spiritual phallus (“image”) of the Holy Guardian Angel. The Matrix of the Goddess is the thread of emanations or fragrant kalas that provide a means for the embodiment of the magical spell of Thoth, the Ibis or sacred word-bird. The void is then triangulated—thus the number 3 is that of Saturn and of the Great Mother of All.

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

In the Hermetic tradition we do not sit cross-legged on the floor. Meditation is done seated, similar to the way Egyptian gods are depicted when enthroned. Your back and spine are kept straight but not tense. Your feet are kept flat on the floor; your knees and hips should be straight but comfortably aligned. Your head should be facing forward, looking straight ahead, even if your 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 your tongue pressed lightly against the roof of your mouth. There is no counting of breaths 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, and 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 any symbol.

There are many systems of chakras, the power zones within the astrosome – some have five, some have 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 your head, as a great star or luminous orb. The South Pole is seen as the electromagnetic centre of the earth, vertically below. Between the poles the heart-centre (Tiphereth) flowers as a golden radiance. It is in Tiphereth, the shrine of the heart, that the deity is first invoked. First practice asana and pranayama, then the mudras that follow. 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 heart shrine.


From the book, Magical Theurgy—Rituals of the Tarot.

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

Our book for Probationers is The Enterer of the Threshold

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018 

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