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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, 18 March 2016

Quantum Yoga and the Way of the West

The Great Work of magick and yoga was for many centuries the exclusive domain of kings, princes and aristocrats. For one thing, it took a great deal of time and dedication. For another, it required education, knowledge of languages, mathematics, astronomy, theology, philosophy and what was once termed the Liberal Sciences. After the European Renaissance, a new kind of creature emerged, the “gentleman and scholar”. Latin and Greek formed a universal language. Those that were able to travel could converse with any other learned person, no matter what their native tongue. By the nineteenth century, thanks to the vast wealth accrued from empires, colonialism and industrialisation, generations born of the merchant classes found themselves with a great deal of wealth and much time on their hands. The Great Work was no longer the exclusive domain of kings and princes, though it was still far out of the reach of most persons. The twentieth century, with its world wars, bombs, poison gas, mechanised mass murder and destruction, saw the breakdown, or at least erosion, of all previous social systems. After the smoke had cleared from World War Two, a new era began to emerge, one that has paved the way for the present time, which might be termed an age of global materialism.

The impact of the “Yoga of the West” on English and American occultists in the latter half of the twentieth century can hardly be overstated. Dion Fortune had certainly experimented with combining pranayama meditation with a visualisation method known by a few members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, including Aleister Crowley, and called “Rising on the Planes”. Israel Regardie called his particular version the “Middle Pillar Exercise”, and published it in what was effectively a manual or handbook for the use of this practical Qabalah as a do-it-yourself therapy. The method was swiftly seized upon by those who, until then, had struggled with reconciling the chakra system of the Hermetic Tree of Life with Eastern Kundalini or Laya Yoga. Not everyone agrees with Regardie’s suggested applications of the Middle Pillar Exercise. However, anyone that has ability for this kind of thing at all, and that practices the method persistently for say, six months or more, will know of its efficacy.

The Middle Pillar Exercise is by no means the full story, the complete picture of how the Yoga of the West works. During the 90s, we completed a preliminary training in magick and yoga. That took all of five years, and although we practiced the Middle Pillar technique, or variations on it, every day of our lives during that period, there is a great deal more to Applied Qabalah than running an imagined stream of light up and down five chakras. Nonetheless, our instructors were all in agreement on one point at least: The Yoga of the West is designed so that it is available to all.

We need to be clear here about the use of the word “all”. All, in the spiritual or magical sense, does not mean “every individual person”. Neither does it mean that what is available can be accomplished by all. What it means is that here is a method of yoga that is not exclusive to any particular race, religion or creed. Likewise, in the Thelemic tradition we have “The Law is for All” (taken from Liber AL vel Legis, I: 34).

More pertinently perhaps to secular Western society, magick and yoga need not be exclusively the domain of the wealthy with time on their hands. Those who work for a living obviously do not have unlimited time; ever since the invention of the railways and the telegraph most people’s time is owned by their industrial bosses, the new overlords. The idea is that magick and yoga can be done in a minimum of about 45 minutes per day, combined with as much reading and study as can be afforded. As the majority of human beings now spend far more than 45 minutes per day watching television or engaging with social media, it still seems quite a reasonable proposition, though it is by no means a way for all, in the sense of everyone.

There is some realignment needed to make the Middle Pillar Exercise, as it was termed by Israel Regardie, into a yoga method capable of sustaining what are called “the higher trances”. We also need to modify or adapt some of the so-called divine names used in the traditional method, as some of these are taken from the biblical Old Testament and are specific to the invocation of the God of the patriarchs—favoured by the same fanatical religious monotheists that have sought to suppress all knowledge and practice of magick for two and a half millennia. To avoid confusion, we use the term “Hermetic Tantra-yoga” when we are referring to our specialised variation of the method.

Ordo Astri Quantum or Hermetic Tantra-yoga

In our Quantum Yoga, or Hermetic Tantra-yoga, Kether and Malkuth are posited as chakras that are outside the body—outside even the subtle body or astrosome of the practitioner. Although the system is by no means identical to Eastern Laya Yoga, there is an agreement with the Tantrik schema, as set forth by Woodroffe in his Serpent Power, regarding the crown chakra. The crown chakra, the seventh and highest in that system, only comes into existence when all six lower chakras are fully opened. Shiva and Shakti, Chokmah and Binah, must be united in the third eye or ajna chakra. In our Quantum Yoga, Malkuth is not placed at the feet as it is in Regardie’s Middle Pillar Exercise; it is relocated to the centre of Earth. Yesod, the sphere of the Moon, is effectively the base chakra in our system. A further agreement with Woodroffe’s Serpent Power is that while there are many different chakra systems, there are three centres that are of supreme significance, for it is said that here Shakti or Kundalini penetrates the sphere of sensation. These chakras equate Qabalistically with Yesod, Tiphereth and Da’ath (as the conjunction of Chokmah and Binah). Although it is possible to use a sevenfold scheme where the planetary chakras are placed in a straight line, we generally prefer to work with the three Shakti points, plus the two ‘outside’ or cosmic chakras, Kether and Malkuth. This equates very well with the theoretical idea put forward by Dion Fortune, where there are three Circuits of Force:

1. The Magnetic Core (primary circuit; not subject to any conditions)
2. The Rainbow Aura (magnetic field; astrosome)
3. The Peripheral Circuit (sensitive to environment or cosmos)

There are difficulties in translating this idea into praxis, so we posit a Cosmic Circuit coming into existence via the circuit formed by Nuit (Kether) and Hadit (Malkuth) through the mirror of Da’ath and Yesod (Saturn and Moon, “93”). The Peripheral Circuit, normally susceptible to environmental and cosmic conditions (as is the natal horoscope), is transmuted into a Cosmic Circuit when informed by the True Will (Magnetic Core). As it is put in Liber AL vel Legis, I: 8–9:
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!
It is completely unnecessary to change or alter the locations of the numbered sephiroth and connecting paths of the Hermetic Tree of Life. Here is the complete Quantum Yoga or Hermetic Tantra-yoga, in tabulated form. This cannot be preceded by the traditional Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, as that is culturally inimical to what we are aiming to achieve here. The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram may be viewed online here.

Hermetic Tantra-yoga

0. After the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, the seated asana and relaxing the mind and body with the rhythmic breathing: Clear your mind of all thoughts and sensations (Ain Soph Aur).

1. Picture Kether as a sphere (or star) of pure brilliance vertically above. Sound the divine name Asherah, using the vibratory technique and see Kether pulsating with the invocation.

2. The light of Kether descends and Da’ath is formed. Picture Da’ath as a silvery sphere emanating from the centre of your head. Vibrate the divine name IAO Elohim, and see Da’ath pulsating with energy.

3. The light descends and Tiphereth is formed. Picture Tiphereth as a golden sphere of light emanating from the centre of your body. Vibrate the divine name IAO Eloah ve-Da’ath, and see Tiphereth coruscating with light.

4. The light descends until Yesod is formed. Picture Yesod as a violet sphere of light emanating from the base of your spine. Vibrate the divine name Shaddai El Chai, and see Yesod pulsating with energy.

5. The light descends until Malkuth is formed. Picture Malkuth as a shining black sphere vertically below. Vibrate the divine name Adonai, and see Malkuth becoming magnetically charged. A scarlet or infrared flame blossoms like a rose from the centre.

6. Endeavour to see the five sephiroth pulsating with light and colour in the column. Continue the relaxed breathing and circulate light in your astrosome. On the out-breath, blue-white or ultraviolet light pours down like a fountain around the outside of your body. With the next in-breath, the infrared magnetic fire is drawn vertically upwards from Malkuth and along the middle pillar until it reaches Kether again. Circulate the magnetic force in this way, in a continuous cycle, until the five chakras glow brightly and you are surrounded as though by a brilliant ultraviolet egg or cocoon.

Recapitulation: We begin by sounding or vibrating the name of Kether of Atziluth, AShRH (Asherah), a name of the primal Creatrix, Qabalistically identical to Nuit. We proceed to Da’ath, which is not imagined as specifically located in the throat as according to the traditional method, but as emanating, radiating outwardly, from the centre of the brain between the two hemispheres. The sacred name for vibration is IAO ALHIM (Iao Elohim). IAO is not, as is sometimes supposed, a “secret pronunciation of Tetragrammaton”, it is a Trigrammaton with an ancient Egyptian origin that vastly predates biblical and Gnostic scriptures. Some of the meanings of IAO include:

The Primordial; a vessel; here—to be present; cry of exaltation; to journey forth; the abode; the house or dwelling; the all-begetter; the hair (of Nuit); door or door-leaf; the lid of a sarcophagus.

IAO is the generative principle or Neter, and so is the primal sound or utterance of all phallic Gods. Tumescence occurs in both male and female when dreaming at night. Phallus (from Greek, phallos) therefore has the meaning of “image”, and is the image-making creative principle in man—that which William Blake termed Imagination, and used as a name for Christ.

With Da’ath formulated, we invoke Tiphereth as the Sun in the centre of all, with the conjunction of names IAO ALVH V-DOTh (Iao Eloah ve-Da’ath), for Tiphereth is the child of Chokmah and Binah sent forth in time and space, and is the God of Knowledge, Garden of Eden (or of Adam). With Tiphereth formulated we conjure forth Yesod, the basal chakra (base of the spine), with the traditional ShDI AL ChI (Shaddai El Chai), “Holy Daemon of Life-Energy-Presence”. Finally, we sound ADNI (Adonai), the Lord of the Shrine at the centre of the Earth, Malkuth, and the polar twin of the woman of heaven, AShRH.

There is some difference too, in the circulation of light or prana that follows vibration of the five chakras. The ascending magnetic force, drawn up through the chakras from Malkuth to Kether, is conceived as glowing infrared light. The descending dew or light from Nuit is conceived as radiant ultraviolet, as declared in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 51:
Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight.


© Oliver St. John 2016, 2018

The full application of Hermetic Tantra-yoga, in theory and in practice, is presented in our course books:

Hermetic Qabalah—Foundation in the Art of Magick
Hermetic Qabalah Initiation Workbook