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.”
“To be initiated, in the magical sense of the word is to recognize that you are moving through a threshold of change – that you are in a period of transition. The key to understanding initiation is recognizing consciously what is happening, rather than simply wondering what the hell’s going on. For many magicians and pagans, the recognition of moving into a period of initiation is marked by a ritual or magical retirement. Thus in this context, an Initiate is someone who is intensely aware of his or her condition, and is surfing the crest of the wave, rather than struggling to hold it back. Initiation is a time of letting go. It is a time of ‘loosening up’ – when habits, beliefs, attitudes and self-identifications suddenly (or gradually) seem to be less concrete than they were previously. One’s grip on ‘normality’ may be temporarily lost, only to be eventually (one hopes) regained, but not quite the same as it what before. Dealing with this loss of certainty, and the necessary confrontation with self, can be difficult at times. Some never manage to go the distance, and instead opt for fantasies wherein they are mighty adepts rather than simply accepting their own humanity, which necessitates a degree of humility, to say the least.”
— Prime Chaos: Adventures in Chaos Magic, Phil Hine
The divine ordeal of terror ended when I finally understood that there wasn’t a narrative on reality more solid than any other. And it was just afterwards that my heart was pierced and I couldn’t but fall in love.
For many years I identified the ocean of love I became surrounded by when I embraced confusion with the “Angel”. And it stayed. In occasional, scattered messages. A wink. A clue. Guiding me onwards.
As I made myself familiar with the rules of the now almost visible astral realm underlying reality, I realized that emotional intensity and willpower were key to manifestation. But it was the “ocean of love” that I wanted to experience again. However, manifesting things with the aid of magick might not be the best path there. After all, I had only reached that endless ocean when I had finally emptied myself.
Yet if what is manifested through the astral is a reflection of what is inside, a different point of view emerges. Wasn’t that ocean a reflection of an inner unknown self, seen only once the filters were clean? What if instead of an external Angel, it was a sparkle of the beauty that you might project if you work hard enough to become the Sun?
Lately I do not write much about magick here. A few months ago I used to write on my ongoing work with the Tunnels of Set, but its been long since I’ve felt like it.
Its not that I’ve stopped or anything. On the opposite, I go on and each and every tunnel implies some strong inner or outer experience. Sometimes both. This magical work has run so deep it is really difficult to think what to write about. Also, everything gets just way too personal.
My whole life has become a dance with the tunnels. Each and every meaningful event coordinates with the tunnel I’m exploring, and as I approach a new one so does my life change to become the next lesson I am to learn.
I expected it to be difficult and demanding, but not this much. I’m not complaining, though. I like it. Also even though I’ve seen magick work a thousand times I still have this skeptical mind inside which sometimes thinks it is all coincidence. Then I open yet another tunnel and a new set of utterly relevant events emerge, crushing my skepticism.
I was cuddled by my HGA when exploring Raflifu and was shown it all as a lie with Qulielfi. My almost six year relationship ended as I was exploring Malkunofat, and Kali mercylessly cut from my life that which was hindering me. I was lost at endless possibilities in Lafcursiax, and concluded that magick was the only real thing left to guide me. A person I knew took her life the same day I opened Niantiel, the Tunnel of Death, thus teaching me the appropriate lesson in the clearest and most painful way. When trying to find the Hermit’s light amidst the darkness of Yamatu, I was taught by a person from the sempiternal A.·.A.·. on the meaning of the visions I had had through the tunnels and the events that had happened, from the perspective of Thelema and its maps on the path of Initiation. I understood the path I had already walked, and where I am headed to.
Recently I met a person who shouldn’t be alive by all medical standards but whose unnatural strength embodies that of Characith, and even though most probably our joint walk will end in tragedy, it is almost time to close Characith and open the Tunnel of Zamradiel, under the aegis of The Lovers. There are 7 paths left to explore, out of 22. I can’t believe I’ve already explored 15 paths. I can’t believe I’ve survived this ordeal thus far.
No matter what happens, be it suffering or be it ecstasy, I will not let myself be broken.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Because this concept is truly an initiatory hallmark and one that seems is so GREATLY misunderstood by budding adepts and Thelemites (it is IMPOSSIBLE to understand in terms of the mind), I thought that after Peter Carroll’s great quote I would share other writings that succinctly POINT toward the correct place of the Holy Guardian Angel concept. This is taken from Israel Regardie’s brief but amazing Ceremonial Magic and he actually quotes another Golden Dawn manuscript in this quote but here it is:
“In a Golden Dawn manuscript entitled “The Microcosm,” the Holy Guardian Angel or the Genius is lengthily but adequately defined in Qabalistic terms as follows:
‘The spiritual consciousness (Daath) is the focus of the action of the Neschamah. The spiritual consciousness is, in its turn, the Throne or Vehicle of the Life of the Spirit which is Chiah; and these combined form the Chariot of that Higher Will which is in Kether. Also it is the peculiar faculty of Neschamah to aspire to that which is beyond. The Higher Will manifests itself through Yechidah… The Shining Flame of the Divine Fire, the Kether of the Body, is the Real Self of the Incarnation… This Yechidah is the only part of man which can truly say EHEIEH, I am. (emph. add.) This is then but the Kether of the Assiah of the Microcosm, that is, it is the highest part of man as Man… Behind Yechidah are Angelic and Archangelic Forces of which Yechidah is the manifestor. It is therefore the Lower Genius or Viceroy of the Higher Genius which is beyond, an Angel Mighty and Terrible. This Great Angel is the Higher Genius, beyond which are the Archangelic and Divine.’
Though Crowley constantly shifted emphasis of meaning relative to the Holy Guardian Angel, it should be noted that throughout his commentary to The Book of the Law, there is no equivocation whatsoever. The Higher Self IS the Holy Guardian Angel – and that is that. No ambiguity is there, no straining of interpretation. It is a clear statement of fact.”
Now to unpack that a little. For those who would call themselves Thelemites yet the Qabalistic terms above are unclear, I’m going to get on the high horse I so often ride on and remind you to bone up on your Qabalah (not that I’m any kind of SUPER genius ;P). But what I feel is a most important distinction and often the greatest misunderstanding concerning the TRUE WILL and HGA is that in one’s initiatory career, the HGA does NOT appear before you and TELL you in words that your TRUE WILL is to go live your dream of being a rockstar or super important magus (or myriad other bloated self images) that your ego always reminds you that you are (if only the rest of the world could catch up to YOU), but that rather the realization of the Higher Will that manifests itself through Yechidah, OR Holy Guardian Angel, is the process by which the Ego is stripped away until a realization of TRUE SELF is reached in SILENCE and thereby the place of one’s Will is KNOWN in Harmony with the Greater Will of the Universal I AM that is the Higher Will. Once this is realized, an adept can, in Love, maneuver within the True Higher Will in perfect Harmony. This realization of True Will does not necessarily mean that all of one’s egoic dreams of grandeur will be realized or that the person YOU (the ego) always felt it SHOULD be will be realized, but it also doesn’t mean it will not. Rather, the adept will understand, beyond thought, his place within the greater scheme and thereby be at peace, free to harmoniously express his Will from the eternal Love that is the True Higher Will of the ever-present I am, the True Self.
Silence your mind. Begin by observing the way the voice in your head speaks to itself: if you immediately say ‘there isn’t a voice’, THAT IS the voice. Doing this will begin to align you with the observing consciousness of the ever-present I am which abideth in Silence. As you observe this voice, this thought, ask yourself “From whence does this thought arise?” or “Who is having this thought?” and a small gap of Silence will arise before another thought springs to your mind. In your meditation, work on extending those Silent moments by this process. Your mind is not who you are. You are the Silent, observing PRESENCE that the mind speaks to, the eternal I AM. You are not your memories; they are simply illusions perpetuated by your mind creating a false sense of self and separation from others. You are not the story of your life you THINK you are, you are simply the presence that is always right here, right now. If you are thinking, you aren’t there. When you are still, you simply ARE. Be Still. Your mind (thoughts) is simply a tool, what it tells you is not the truth, the only truth there is abideth in the Silence of the ever-present I am.
Do this and you will surely experience the spiritual ecstasy that some have called the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel but it will never be the way you had THOUGHT it would be.
Love is the Law, love under will.
-Frater Silentium Viresque 215, 12/27/14