Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.

The Kybalion on The Principle of Polarity.

Nigredo in Alchemy


Alchemy has been called a “proto-chemistry”, but it also had a spiritual nature. Scholars such as C.G. Jung made profound studies about alchemy, finding in it apowerful archetypal symbolism which could give people the possibility of transforming themselves in a deep way. The first step, as they say, it’s the hardest. Human beings reach their free will through self-discovery, but we don’t try to self-discover ourselves until our situation has become so painful that we don’t have any other way than to recreate ourselves. We don’t accept that we must transform our life until we hit rock bottom. This is called the Dark Night of the Soul. This is a process describing a crisis of faith, or of meaning, in which every value in our life is questioned, losing its weight. One feels as if one was wandering in deep, dark labyrinths, without any exit on sight. This process is called in alchemy the nigredo, the black phase.

In alchemical treatises, this phase is represented with images of ravens, skulls, skeletons and dead bodies. The black phase represents the death of the ego, the limited personality of man, and allows for a deeper contact with one’s personality’s core, the self. Suffice to say, this is a process which not many people go through voluntarily, since it requires that one’s ideas and preconceptions about the world are brought down. The Arcanum XVI of the tarot, The Tower, illustrates in a dramatic way this process. This is a symbolic and initiatorical death through which every person seeking to recreate themselves must pass. Historian of religion Mircea Eliade explores this theme extensively in his book “The Forge and the Crucible”, where he writes about this kind of alchemical death is

“The reduction of all substance to the prima materia [primal matter], to the masa confusa [confused mass], which corresponds –in a cosmological place- to the primordial situation, to chaos. Death represents a return to the formless, a reintegration of Chaos.”

This type of experiences are marked by a loss of meaning in life. Psychologically, a crises of the ego happens. The ego must then adapt to its new situation, or die. We witness this type of situations (either in our lives or in those around us) when a relationship breaks up, be it a romantic relationship, when someone is fired from their job, or we cut communication with a loved friend. The ego falls back to the original chaos, from which it must arise again by overcoming its catastrophe, or die in order to stop feeling pain. Ancient alchemists gave great importance to this phase, in which one can experience the deepest darkness related with the blackness of spiritual death. Eliade writes that

“This kind of experiences translate into Saturnian symbolism, into melancholy. The figure of Chronos-Saturn represents the Great Destroyer that is Time and, thus, both death (putrefaction) and rebirth”.

This death must be understood from a symbolic perspective. Because of its symbolic meaning, there is a possibility of a resurrection of the individual. From the fragments of the destroyed ego arises a new ego, renewed by its traumatic experience, and now closer to its core, the self. This is associated with the later phases of the alchemical process, of which Eliade writes that

“The phase following the nigredo, the leukosis [or] the albedo, correspond to a ‘resurrection’ which translates into the appropriation of certain states of consciousness which are inaccessible to the mundane condition. The two following phases, the citrinitas and the rubedo, which crown the alchemical opus and lead to the Philosopher’s Stone, further develop and fortify this new initiatorical consciousness.”


The title of ninth Sephira, or emanation of the Tree Of Life, is YSVD (Yezod). It is the Sephira of the Lunar magick of Aub, or Ob, the Serpent (whence “obeah”).
The Serpent is a Symbol common to the Yezidi, Voodooists, Tantrics, and Thelemites.
Yezod or Yesod as the secret center of the Yezidi is an apt description of the Sephira wich corresponds to the sexual center in the human body. Yesod means “Foundation”, and the Hadit of the Thelemites, is the Foundation of the World, as Yesod is the foundation of the Tree Of Life.
The accursed God of the South is, then no other than the lord of the reproductive forces typified by the southernmost Sephira-Yesod.
Yesod is attributed to the Moon. not to the Sun. The curious symbolism is explained by the connection of the Serpent or Dragon with the lunar current typified by Babalon- “for he is ever a sun, and she a moon”. The symbolism may be fathomed at the Hindu level of mythology where Shiva (the Indian Seth) is called “the god with the crescent” (i.e the moon) in the Bhagavad Gita. Also, Thoth the Moon-god, was originally the God of Sirius, identical with the Star-God-Seth, before the luni-solar mode of reckoning time supplanted the stellar reckoning.
This is the reason why the inverted pentagram, or pointed towards the south is usually abhorred as a seal of the devil. Is the seal of Satan because it invokes the snake sex, snake Obeah. The osirisian, and Christians, fled from this aspect of existence, and the pentagram of Set, the south, was considered the symbol of impurity and of abomination. It is still the star of Satan for those who consider the use the current of sexual magic as “evil” that is diabolic. Originally there was no moral pollution; it comes from the hands of the followers of the cult of the old Aeon, those represented in myth by God Dying: Adonis, Osiris, Christ, etc

Kenneth Grant
“The Magical revival”


Paschal Beverly Randolph (October 8, 1825 – July 29, 1875) was an American medical doctoroccultist and writer. Randolph is notable as perhaps the first person to introduce the principles of sex magic to North America, and, according to A.E. Waite, establishing the earliest known Rosicrucian order in the United States .

Sources disagree as to Randolph’s birthplace (New York or Virginia). He was a free man of mixed-race ancestry, descendant of William Randolph. His father was a nephew of John Randolph of Roanoke and his mother was Flora Beverly, whom he later described as a woman of mixed English, French, German, Native American and Malagasy ancestry. This background led to his being a spokesman for the abolition ofslavery. His mother died when he was young, leaving him homeless and penniless; he ran away to sea in order to support himself. A peripatetic man, he lived in many places, including New York stateNew OrleansSan Francisco, and Toledo, Ohio. He married twice; his first wife was African-American; his second wife was Irish-American.

Early life

As a teen and young man, Randolph traveled widely, due to his work aboard sailing vessels. He journeyed to England, through Europe, and as far east as Persia, where his interest in mysticism and the occult led him to study with local practitioners of folk magic and varied religions. On these travels he also met and befriended occultists in England and Paris, France.



After leaving the sea, Randolph embarked upon a public career as a lecturer and writer. By his mid-twenties, he regularly appeared on stage as atrance medium and advertised his services as a spiritual practitioner in magazines associated with the Spiritualist Movement. Like many Spiritualists of his era, he lectured in favor of Abolition; after Emancipation, he taught literacy to freed slaves in New Orleans.

In addition to his work as a trance medium, Randolph trained as a doctor of medicine and wrote and published both fictional and instructive books based on his theories of health, sexuality, Spiritualism and occultism. He authored more than fifty works on magic and medicine, established an independent publishing company, and was an avid promoter of birth control during a time when it was largely against the law to mention this topic.

Having long used the pseudonym “The Rosicrucian” for his Spiritualist and occult writings, Randolph eventually founded the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, the oldest Rosicrucian organization in the United States, which dates back to the era of the American Civil War. This group, still in existence, today avoids mention of Randolph’s interest in sex magic, but his magico-sexual theories and techniques formed the basis of much of the teachings of another occult fraternity, The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, although it is not clear that Randolph himself was ever personally associated with the Brotherhood.Two twentieth century occultists and practitioners of sex magicTheodor Reuss of Germany and Aleister Crowley of Great Britain, were heavily influenced by Randolph in both organizing theOrdo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) and in their sex magic rituals.

In 1851, Randolph made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln. Their friendship was close enough that, when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Randolph accompanied Lincoln’s funeral procession in a train to Springfield, Illinois. However, Randolph was asked to leave the train when some passengers objected to the presence of an African American in their midst.



Randolph died in Toledo, Ohio at the age of 49, under disputed circumstances. According to Professor Carl Edwin Lindgren, D.Ed., many questioned the coroner’s finding that Randolph died from a self-inflicted wound to the head, for many of his writings express his aversion to suicide. The evidence was conflicting. R. Swinburne Clymer, a later Supreme Master of theFraternitas, stated that years after Randolph’s demise, in a death-bed confession, a former friend of Randolph had conceded that in a state of jealousy and temporary insanity, he had killed Randolph. Randolph was succeeded as Supreme Grand Master of the Fraternitas, and in other titles, by his chosen successor Freeman B. Dowd.

In 1996, the biography Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician by John Patrick Deveney and Franklin Rosemont was published.


Heinrich Khunrath, Ampitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (Hamburg, 1595). The figure of the hermaphrodite as a metaphor for the dualistic nature of the universe. The black peacock labelled “AZOTH” leads us deeper into Hermetic territory. Azoth was the hypothesized universal solvent, the “ultimate substance” which could transform all elements. Here it seems to be used to convey the union of male and female (and of all elements) which would allow the corporeal human form to transcend to a divine plane (note the symbol of the trinity above the peacock feathers, which resemble diagrams of the celestial spheres). Read more.


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, etc.
(2) Sound.
The invocations.
(3) Smell.
The perfumes.
(4) Taste.
The Sacraments.
(5) Touch.
As under (1).
(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. Its projection back into the apparently phenomenal world is therefore unusual. Herein then consists the reality of the operations and effects of ceremonial magic,(6) and I conceive that the apology is ample, as 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. But can any of the effects described in this our book Goetia be obtained, and if so, can you give a rational explanation of the circumstances? Say you so? I can, and will. The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain. Their seals therefore represent (Mr. Spencer’s projected cube) methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots (through the eye).

The names of God are vibrations calculated to establish:
( A ) General control of the brain. (Establishment of functions relative to the subtle world.)
( B ) Control over the brain in detail. (Rank or type of the Spirit.)
( C )  Control of one special portion. (Name of the Spirit.)
The perfumes aid this through smell. Usually the perfume will only tend to
control a large area; but there is an attribution of perfumes to letters of the alphabet enabling one, by a Qabalistic formula, to spell out the Spirit’s name. I need not enter into more particular discussion of these points; the intelligent reader can easily fill in what is lacking. 

If, then, I say, with Solomon:
“The Spirit Cimieries teaches logic,” what I mean is:
“Those portions of my brain which subserve the logical faculty way be stimulated and developed by following out the processes called ‘The Invocation of Cimieries.’ “And this is a purely materialistic rational statement; it is independent of any objective hierarchy at all. Philosophy has nothing to say; and Science can only suspend judgment, pending a proper and methodical investigation of the facts alleged. 

Unfortunately, we cannot stop there. Solomon promises us that we can (1) obtain information; (2) destroy our enemies; (3) understand the voices of nature; (4) obtain treasure; (5) heal diseases, etc. I have taken these five powers at random; considerations of space forbid me to explain all.
(1) Brings up facts from sub-consciousness.
(2) Here we come to an interesting fact. It is curious to note the contrast between the noble means and the apparently vile ends of magical rituals. The latter are disguises for sublime truths. “To destroy our enemies” is to realize the illusion of duality, to excite compassion.
(Ah! Mr. Waite, the world of Magic is a mirror, wherein who sees muck is muck.) (3) A careful naturalist will understand much from the voices of the animals he has studied long. Even a child knows the difference of a cat’s miauling and purring. The faculty may be greatly developed. (4) Business capacity may be stimulated. (5) Abnormal states of the body may be corrected, and the involved tissues brought back to tone, in obedience to currents started from the brain. So for all other phenomena. There is no effect which is truly and necessarily miraculous. Our Ceremonial Magic fines down, then, to a series of minute, though of course empirical, physiological experiments, and whoso will carry them through intelligently need not fear the result.  I have all the health, and treasure, and logic, I need; I have no time to waste. “There is a lion in the way.” For me these practices are useless; but for the benefit of others less fortunate I give them to the world, together with this explanation of, and apology for, them. I trust that the explanation will enable many students who have hitherto, by a puerile objectivity in their view of the question, obtained no results, to succeed; that the apology may impress upon our scornful men of science that the study of the bacillus should give place to that of the baculum, the little to the great—how great one only realizes when one identifies the wand with the Mahalingam, up which Brahma flew at the rate of 84,000 yojanas a second for 84,000 mahakalpas, down which Vishnu flew at the rate of 84,000 croces of yojanas a second for 84,000 crores of mahakalpas—yet neither reached an end.

But I reach an end.
Boleskine House,
Foyers, N.B.


The Lesser Key of Solomon – Goetia

Compiled and Translated By S.L. “MacGregor” Mathers Editing      Additional Material By Aleister Crowley



The Ouroboros is a Greek word meaning “tail devourer,” and is one of the oldest mystical symbols in the world. It can be perceived as enveloping itself, where the past (the tail) appears to disappear but really moves into an inner domain or reality, vanishing from view but still existing.

The ouroboros has several meanings interwoven into it. Foremost is the symbolism of the serpent biting, devouring, or eating its own tail. This symbolizes the cyclic Nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, Life out of Death. The ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. It is sometimes depicted in a lemniscate shape (figure eight) as well.

The Serpent biting its own tail is first seen as early as 1600 years BC in Egypt as a symbol of the sun, and represented the travels of the sun disk. From there it moved to the Phonecians and then to the Greeks, who gave it its name, Ouroboros, which means devouring its tail.

In mythology, the Oroborus is a symbol representing the Milky Way galaxy. Myth refers to a serpent of light residing in the heavens. The Milky Way is this serpent, and viewed at galactic central point near Sagittarius, this serpent eats its own tail. Many ancients used the galaxy to calculate cosmic and earth cycles.

It is found in Gnosticism and alchemy representing cyclical natural life and the fusion of opposites. It also symbolizes the transcendence of duality and was related to the solar God Abraxas, and signified eternity and the soul of the world.

In alchemy, it represents the spirit of Mercury (the substance that permeates all matter), and symbolizes continuous renewal (a snake is often a symbol of resurrection, as it appears to be continually reborn as it sheds its skin.), the cycle of life and death, and harmony of opposites. As a symbol of the eternal unity of all things, the cycle of birth and death from which the alchemist sought release and liberation. It unites opposites: the conscious and unconscious mind. Alchemically, the ouroboros is also used as a purifying glyph.

The alchemical textbook, Chrysopoeia (gold making) of Kleopatra contains a drawing of the ouroboros representing the serpent as half light and half dark, echoing symbols such as the Yin Yang, which illustrates the dual nature of all things, but more importantly, that these opposites are not in conflict. The book is mainly centered around the idea of “one is all,” a concept that is related to hermetic wisdom.


The Ouroboros appears in many other cultures and settings as well…the Serpent Jormungand of Norse legend, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. It guarded the Tree of Life, and is often depicted as an ouroboros. 

The Aztec serpent God Queztacoatl was depicted similarly, and Chinese alchemical dragons have both similar shapes and meaning. 

In Hindu, you have the dragon circling the tortoise which supports the four elephants that carry the world.