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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/

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Magical Pathworking the Tree of Life

There is a plethora of books dealing with pathworkings of the Tree of Life, though much of it is quite dismal stuff. The guided visualisation technique has been over-used since it gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.

Magical Pathworking: Hermetic Tree of Life
Even some of the better-known works spoon-feed the novice with a hotchpotch of mythologies and clich├ęd explanations. The guided visualisations inevitably direct us according to the philosophical basis of those who created them, which is, as often as not, the ‘self-improvement’ snare of pop psychology.

The original form of the pathworking method is based on ancient Egyptian magick, broadly defined as ‘Assumption of the Godform’. The hieroglyphs are not merely symbols as ‘signposts’ but are that which they represent. The method is called ‘pathworking’ because the ritual involves clairvoyant exploration of the 22 paths (or modes of consciousness) of the Hermetic Tree of Life. There is no need for scripts, narratives or mythological storytelling scenarios.

The beauty of the authentic magical pathworking method is in its simplicity. The symbolism to be employed is exactly as the Tree of Life model looks on the printed page of a book. Let us take the 32nd path from Malkuth the Kingdom to Yesod the Temple of the Moon as an example.

Malkuth is defined by a circle, and the lines of the path run from there to Yesod, also defined by a circle.

Magical Pathworking: Lower Sephiroth and Paths of the Tree of Life
The image of the 32nd path is the Tarot trump, The Universe XXI.

Magical Pathworking: Thoth Tarot trump The Universe XXI

From the beginning, when we are ascending the path, the ‘entrance’ is the Hebrew letter, Tav.

agical Pathworking: Hebrew letter Tav

Towards the end of the path is the astroglyph of Saturn.

Magical Pathworking: Astroglyph for Saturn

The primary symbols are then translated into workable praxis. It is no use approaching this as though we were attending the theatre or sitting down to watch a movie. This is not passive entertainment. If anything, it is the exact reverse of gazing at virtual images and icons, clicking them with a mouse or tapping them with a finger to prompt some kind of activity. Magick is an intensely active business. One must engage all the powers of the alert concentration available. The consciousness of the magician must be exalted. Burning the appropriate incense and gathering the various colours and other magical correspondences of the 32nd path will assist us.[1] Hermetic Tantra-yoga will greatly boost our energetic capacity and control.

Once the right conditions have been established pathworking becomes a relatively simple matter of imaginative projection. When consciousness is transferred to the desire body or astrosome we can send that shining body of light to the Temple of Malkuth. As with the diagrams of the Tree of Life, the Temple has three portals or doorways in the North. These correspond to the paths of Tav, Shin and Qoph. Between the two pillars is the doorway to the 32nd path of Tav. This illustration of the Temple of Malkuth will suit the purpose very well.

Magical Pathworking: Temple of Malkuth (Neophyte)

There are various ways in which this can be done, but it is simple and effective to see a luminous veil covering the door, which has the image of the Tarot trump on it. Astrally tracing the flaming letter Tav acts as a key to pass the threshold. Once on the other side of the door, the inner senses must fully replace their physical counterparts. Not only do we desire to see into the path but we also want to hear it, touch it, feel it and smell it with our subtle or non-physical senses.

As with the kind of meditation practice where the mind is trained to orbit a symbol, key word or phrase, any thoughts or impressions that cannot strictly be related to the subject are sent back to the void from whence they have arisen. This must not become an exercise in whimsical daydreaming, where the mind is allowed to go where it will. The experience of the path should correspond with the recognised symbolism, the keys of the path. This can be checked later when reviewing the diary record.

Towards the end of the path, a distant symbol or image corresponding to Yesod, the Temple of the Moon is seen. This is always the point of return. The sephiroth are paths in themselves; one path at a time is enough.


1.  Some intelligent adaptation is required for the tables of Crowley’s 777. Traditionally, the 32nd path corresponds, via its astroglyph, Saturn, to noxious odours. It would be pointless to poison oneself with sulphur or choke on the smoke of asafoetida! Any austere or dark smelling fragrance will do. Myrrh is bittersweet incense that will help evoke the higher aspects of Saturn without causing asphyxiation. The 32nd path has ‘earthy’ associations, so the incense or oil of patchouli could also be used, for example. When in doubt, use grains of pure frankincense, the universal fragrance for ritual magick.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2019

Books by Oliver St. John

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Friday, 17 April 2015

The Dual Nature of the Soul

The British occultist and writer Dion Fortune (Violet Firth, 1890–1946) made the operation of magical ‘polarity’ central to her work. In Chapter Nineteen, The Sea Priestess, the novel’s main character reveals Fortune’s doctrine concerning the human soul.[1] Male and female have specific functions in magick. The duality is likened to a positive or negative magnetic charge. The female is negative on the plane of matter, while the male is positive. On the astral plane, she is positive, he is negative.
Ankh in Triangle from 'Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs'
As consciousness ‘ascends’ from matter to spirit, the poles reverse on each subsequent plane. In operations of ritual magick, the priestess magnetically draws the power from the priest, who must direct that power towards the Shakti veiled by the human form and personality of the priestess. A looped Circuit of Force is then set up between the practitioners. Perhaps it is open to question as to whether the female is really “negative on the plane of matter”. However, the feminine power or Shakti, as termed in the East, is paramount in advanced schools of magick and yoga within diverse traditions.
[This essay is included in, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]
According to the ancients everything that is visible belongs to the material world. Everything that is invisible belongs to the spiritual world. In every creature there are two aspects: positive and negative; dynamic and receptive; male and female. The duality is summarised and glyphed as Sol and Luna, the Sun and Moon. As one or the other aspect manifests in the world of form, the alternative aspect is latent in the world of spirit (and so invisible). The latent aspect, which is the greater part, only comes forth when it is evoked, summoned or called forth.

Circuits of Force

There is a footnote in Sir John Woodroffe’s Serpent Power, describing three points where Kundalini penetrates the aura: ajna, anahatha, muladhara. In Hermetic Tantra-yoga, the three relevant chakras are Daath, Tiphereth and Yesod, corresponding to Saturn, the Sun and the Moon. By thoughtful adaptation of Dion Fortune’s ‘Circuits of Force’, a map of the cosmos and occult anatomy can be created.[2]

Circuits of Force and the Astrosome from 'Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs'

1. The Central Circuit or primary magnetic core (innermost) can be symbolised by ‘93’ since the field of polarity is between Daath and Yesod, Saturn and the Moon. The Central Circuit is not changed or modified by any external influences. This conforms to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, II: 58:
Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, and not other.
2. The Cosmic Circuit (outermost) is summed up in the polar field between Kether and Malkuth. The two chakras are not within the astrosome but outside it. The incarnate magnetic core is formed by the discarnate Cosmic Circuit.

3. The peripheral field of polarity between primary magnetic core and Cosmic Circuit creates the Rainbow Aura or astrosome. The astrosome is sensitive to external influence; the imprint received from cosmos is symbolised by the astrological horoscope drawn up at the time of birth. The astrosome equates to the six sephiroth revolving about Tiphereth, the central Sun and Logos of the solar system. These chakras or power zones function as nodes of communication within the electromagnetic field of the aura. The astrosome therefore comes about within the field of polarity between the incarnate primary magnetic core and the discarnate cosmic circuit. The auric field is highly charged; it is somewhat plastic in nature and is conterminous with the astral plane. The natal horoscope is a mirror of the stellar environment at the time of birth, impressed by the cosmos on the highly sensitive astrosome. The cosmic image influences the internal organisation of the aura. Aiwass conveys the Esoteric Doctrine of Thelema in Liber AL, I: 7,
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
The fivefold Khabs or Star of Nuit regulates the primary magnetic core or polar field of Daath and Yesod, Saturn and the Moon. The cosmic influence or mezla is thus mediated to the earth, via the Sun of our solar system.[3] The peripheral field between the inner and outer circuits regulates the astrosome. The Cosmic Circuit is focused through the North Star, Kether, the head of the polar axis of the universe. The tail or south pole of the axis is symbolised by the star of Hormaku, hidden deep in the underworld or subconscious of man. Hormaku symbolises the true nature of Malkuth, the Kingdom, and is the completion of the Great Work on earth. There are three things required to align the Circuits of Force:

1. The True Will
Power of the Inviolate Sceptre or Vajra

2. The Cosmos
Magical environment of the magician; Circle of the Place

3. The Chariot
The mobile astrosome for the magical exploration of Cosmos

The active and dynamic aspect of the feminine True Will or Thelema is initiated through the 93 magnetic core or Double Wand of Power, as described in Liber AL, III: 72.
I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia—but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed an Universe; and nought remains.
The Tantrik Vajra is the totem of the double power, which is brought from latency to activity through the discipline of the work and development of the concentration of the mind in yoga practice.

The astrosome of the magician is the image of the solar system with Tiphereth at the centre, producing the rainbow spectrum of light from ultraviolet to infrared. The astrosome of the magician is the self in positive mode, transmitter of the planetary logos. The formula of the astrosome is LVX, Konx Om Pax or Light In Extension.

The shade (or dark double) of the magician is symbolised by the circuit of force between Daath and Yesod, the 93 source of occult knowledge. The shade of the magician is the self in negative mode, as transmitter of the Stellar Logos. The formula of the shade is the Ape of Thoth, NOX and the Night of Pan.

The positive and negative modes are not to be understood here as good or evil. The positive mode is a centrifugal force; the negative mode is a centripetal force. The former projects outwardly, while the latter absorbs inwardly. The five radials of the Khabs star are the five senses in man, which are a window to the universe. The visible universe, however, can only act as a mirror of man and his five-fold perception. The knot that must be untied by the magician is the web of the worlds created by consciousness projection. The girdle of Isis is unloosed through her law of magical polarity.

Practical Application

The primary magnetic core is formed by the polarity between Daath or Saturn, the third eye chakra, and the Moon or base of the spine where the kundalini force is stored. We can give qualities to this magnetic core, but when we do we create phantoms, little devils in the light, that are only mirrors for aspects of ourselves. Such devils are neither good nor evil per se, but as they are derived from a partial knowledge of the self, their power to cause division in the self (and therefore harm) is strong. For that reason, it is a dangerous force for the average human being. For the Initiate, it is the beginning, the first threshold.

The Tree of Life necessarily depicts the material plane, and other planes above, as depending from Kether or Atziluth. In fact, the Supernal triad only comes about when the power of vision residing with the Saturn or third eye chakra is seamlessly united in thought to the source, the river of life that wells upwards and is stored at the base of the spine. A circuit is formed thereby, that passes through the base of the spine at the lower end, and through the mirror of vision at the upper—which has its physical analogy with the centre of the brain between the two hemispheres. This may be imagined as a circle of ultraviolet light. The Saturn chakra is likened to a mirror that is turned inwards or backwards, towards the base of the spine. What is seen in the mirror of the imagination reflects the primal upsurge from the earth, below, as receptacle or chalice.

The desire body attains full power, as a vehicle of consciousness that can travel anywhere inside or outside of space and time, when the mirror of vision is at one with the primal magnetic force, invisible in itself. The primary magnetic core then realises its identity with the Cosmos. The desire body emerges from the active field thus formed by polarity. The desire body is the class of phenomena that religious symbolism veils as the Holy Ghost.

Tiphereth is the meeting place between the magician and the priestess (his soul), a magical garden where all planes of existence converge. The convergence is as fully realised in the physical body, the flesh, as it is realised by the spirit—the indwelling presence in the body of light. That is why the Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel corresponds to Malkuth.

The Circuits of Force schema reveals that human souls are imprisoned in a bubble of their own consciousness, a film projection that we take as reality. Even ordinary magical working does not penetrate beyond that bubble—the outer edge of which is referred to here as the Peripheral Circuit. Journeys to explore inner space are inevitably journeys through the infinite maze of the Self, since the Self is a mirror image of the Cosmos. Astral vision, skrying or clairvoyance consists of such a journey. What is required, then, is the means to break through from the Peripheral to the Cosmic by linking all three Circuits of Force. To penetrate beyond this shell or cocoon—to escape from the mirror world—a key is required. That key is expressed in the sevenfold spell, Love is the law, love under will. The ancient Egyptians figured it as the ankh or Key of Life.


1. The Sea Priestess, 1938 [Inner Light Publishing Company].
2. ‘Teachings Concerning the Aura’, Aspects of Occultism, Dion Fortune [Aquarian Press 1962].
3. MZLA has the Qabalistic value of 78, as does the name Aiwass.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018
[This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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