Unlocking the Observatory: Further Guidance from Another Text

Where were we? We’re in the middle of discussing the obscure Telescope of Zoroaster (ZT), a manual of divination and spirituality originally published in French in 1796 (FZT) at the close of the French Revolution, which was later translated into German in 1797 (GZT) and then again in an abridged form as part of Johann Scheible’s 1846 Das Kloster (vol. 3, part II, chapter VII) (KZT), with Scheible’s work then translated into English in 2013 as released by Ouroboros Press (OZT).  Although OZT is how most people nowadays tend to encounter this system, I put out my own English translation of FZT out a bit ago as part of my research, and while that translation was just part of the work I’ve been up to, there’s so much more to review, consider, and discover when it comes to this fascinating form of divination.  Last time, we talked about a case study from Karl Kern’s 1933 Die wahrsagende Kabbala der Magier: die Kabbala des Zoroaster (WKM) later reprinted in 2009 under the name “Baron André-Robert Andréa de Nerciat” by Verlag Edition Geheimes Wissen. If you need a refresher on what we talked about last time, go read the last post!

※ For those following along with their own copy of ZT (get yours here!), this post does not touch on any specific chapter of the text.

Normally, I have a policy of not reading stuff written by assholes.  It’s true that shitty people can make good points, but so can non-shitty people, and given a choice between the two, I’d choose reading the non-shitty people any day; there are lots of non-asshole people who also make really good points (if not the same ones) without being an asshole, and I’d rather give them my attention.  As history has conclusively shown decade after decade for the past several centuries, fascists, Nazis, and racial supremacists are among the worst such assholes; unfortunately, we’re reading Karl Kern’s book because this is one of the exceedingly few texts out there that deals with ZT, even if he was an avowed Ariosophist and member of various völkisch movements that led to the rise of Nazism.  Happily, this doesn’t impact what we can glean from the book he wrote on the subject.

Well, besides him trying to tie in the whole “race-culture religion” in his case study from last post, and besides his own introduction to the “Kabbala of Zoroaster”:

Experience teaches that even under the strangest coverings there is a deep core of wisdom and knowledge. One cannot really consider everything categorized under the name “superstition” as superstition alone. To dismiss the essence of our Kabbala as madness and nonsense is not an option. Such action would show great short-sightedness, for how many things that were recently considered superstition are now generally accepted facts! When a Cretan idiot explains the cuneiform text of a stone slab already thousands of years old as an indecipherable, senseless scrawl of an equally senseless stonecutter, this does not yet provide the shadow of a proof that another person does not know how to decipher and read the symbols. And our Kabbala is just as old, if not even older, than the stone monuments of times long past that we know of. As all ancient scriptures teach, it is the oldest knowledge known to mankind. It is said to be older than the knowledge of the stars, which is called astrology today. Yes, our Kabbalist claims that astrology first arose out of Kabbala, and that astrology that arose out of Kabbala as a result of its distortions and abusive embellishments, brought about and hastened the downfall of Kabbala. Be that as it may, it is hardly disputed today that the Kabbala is of immense antiquity. The mystical-Jewish trains of thought that we find in the Book of Zohar have little to do with the actual Kabbala. They are the watered-down infusion of an ancient Aryan knowledge that was developed by the ancient Sumerians about 5000 years ago and which was remodeled by the Jewish tribe with their own egocentric bustle for their own purposes and then deceptively provided with their own company stamp.

Needless to say, this is a far stronger claim than what ZT makes; while ZT just quietly (mis)uses the word “cabala” generically to refer to some ancient system of spirituality without any actual reference to the substance of Jewish kabbalah, WKM here makes the logical and ideological leap that “no really, this is the actual Kabbala, those Jews just pissed all over it”.  At the time of the Third Reich (and around the time Kern was writing WKM), Nazi race theory (such as it was) considered the Persians to be a kindred Aryan race to the Germans (well beyond the Indo-European linguistic and human migration connections); for this reason, I suspect that Kern found the orientalizing pseudohistory ZT to make it an alluring form of divination and spirituality in line with his own Ariosophy.  After all, ZT does claim to be descended from Zoroaster, the Persian prophet of an ancient Persian religion, which would make this supposedly pristine Aryan numerological system suitable for his own racial ideology, so of course Kern would say that the Jews just appropriated “real Kabbala” from an ancient Aryan race.  (I really hate how utterly banal history can be sometimes; on top of the rest of the crimes against humanity and insults against dignity they commit, Nazis are just the laziest when it comes to any kind of thinking, to boot.)

Still, amidst the antisemitism and pseudohistory worse than ZT’s own, Kern isn’t without his own insights.  Amidst lots of Pythagoreanizing examples about how all things are fundamentally number (the numerology of words and names, or “name-cabbalism”, as Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke calls it in The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and their Influence on Nazi Theology, was a super popular thing taken super seriously among many Ariosophists, even though that, too, was also based on earlier Mediterranean and especially Jewish practices), WKM does point out something meaningful about how sortilege (the drawing of lots) works, even linking it to geomancy (“Punktierkunst” in German), which ironically Kern seems to have a much higher opinion of than ZT itself does:

The drawing of lots from the urn never happens by chance, but for a spiritual reason, through the power of which the imagination, or in this case the hand of the person drawing the lot, is moved. Therefore, those who wish to take lots must be well prepared and not be disturbed or distracted by anything; also he must have a firm desire and a definite intention to know what is asked. Just as in the well-known common art of geomancy the origin of the dots goes back to an inner origin, so it is with our Kabbala. In your lot-drawing, it is the soul which, when its desire increases to a high degree, directs the lot. All the lots only follow the direction of the soul, and there is always a necessary pull to what the soul desires.

Right before the case study (“Ein Beispiel”) opens up, WKM starts with a bit of practical advice regarding how to conduct oneself and how to perform an actual reading:

With all of the foregoing having been said, the student of Kabbala is given the key to unlocking the lock that closes to the layman’s eye the land of knowledge with its paths that come from the past and lead through the present to the future. Proper handling of the key and proper use of it can never be taught at length. This depends on the assets and abilities of each individual. A stiff hand will never insert the key properly into the lock, while dexterous fingers can open the gate with ease. However, practice may show an example and it may bring relief in the interpretation of the Great Mirror, which at first seems difficult. It must be noted that the mirror given as an example was not artificially assembled, but contains the stones as they were drawn from the Urn by a man questioning fate.

At the beginning of this work it was mentioned that there is sufficient power and power in the human soul to lead the lots, and that the man who wants to take the lots should not be troubled or distracted, and have a firm desire and a determined intention intended to find out what is being asked. So never let the stones necessary to form the Great Mirror be drawn from the urn in the presence of many people. Any disturbance by strangers, any distraction by noise and noise is to be avoided. A coffee shop or tavern is never the right place for Kabbalistic practice, because this is not a parlor game, but a deeply serious matter. Sitting comfortably is recommended. At the beginning of the Kabbalistic operation, in order to establish the closest connection between the questioner and the stones that herald fate, the seeker must for some time come into very close contact with the stones with his hand, which he then uses to draw the stones. It is best if he stirs and mixes the stones in the urn for a short time with absolute silence and concentration.

Besides the general guidance here about practicing this in a tranquil space (which is a great recommendation for almost every divination system out there in general), WKM notes that it is the querent themselves who should draw their own tiles, which are then assembled into the Great Mirror.  (This gives some clarification to one of the confusing bits of guidance towards the end of the post about the divinatory process.)  Indeed, this is explicitly confirmed in the opening lines of the tablature given in the case study from last time:

All of these conditions were met in our example. The searcher drew one stone from the urn one at a time, which found its place in the order of the numbers written in the Mirror, beginning with field 1.

Thus, at least for the author of WKM, it should be the querent who draws the tiles from the Urn, one by one, and that only after mixing them all up themselves for a minute or so.  Presumably, they should be concentrating on their query, getting their energy mixed up in the tiles, so to speak.  In addition to the benefits of this approach of letting the querent draw out their own fate, this also prevents any unseemliness on the part of the diviner, whose job it is to only interpret such a reading done for someone else, reducing any risk of suggesting that the diviner manipulated the tiles fairly or unfairly.  I get it, I suppose.

Likewise, a few sections later, WKM also gives a brief list of advice:

1. The draw of the stones must be done in a calm, non-distracting environment.

2. After they have all been thrown into an urn (earthenware bowl) or a similar (preferably non-transparent) vessel, the 112 stones are mixed by hand for about one to two minutes, after which the stones are then drawn, shuffled so that all stones come into contact with that hand.

3. Without hurry or haste, one stone after the other (never two or more at the same time!) is taken from the urn and the glyphs or numbers are entered in the list below in the order in which they were drawn . (Except for the two principles! See below for these.)

4. A total of 37 stones are drawn. It should be noted that the stones of the Good Principle (a large radiant delta-shaped triangle) and the Evil Principle (a radiant pentagon or pentagram) do not fall under the numbers of the ordinary stones. They are not included in the list below, but care must be taken to determine which stone they were drawn from. If one or both of these Principle stones are drawn, the total number of stones to be drawn increases by 1 or 2 to 38 or 39, since they are not counted with whichever stone they appeared.

5. Whoever has his own Great Mirror, if the Good Principle has been drawn, put it in the Good Principle field drawn on the slate; if the  Evil Principle, in the Evil Principle field drawn on the slate.

WKM then gives a sort of template diagram to record a reading done with the Great Mirror:

The following stones were drawn from the urn:

  1. ___
  2. ___
  3. ___
  4. ___
  5. ___
  6. ___
  7. ___
  8. ___
  9. ___
  10. ___
  11. ___
  12. ___
  13. ___
  14. ___
  15. ___
  16. ___
  17. ___
  18. ___
  19. ___
  1. ___
  2. ___
  3. ___
  4. ___
  5. ___
  6. ___
  7. ___
  8. ___
  9. ___
  10. ___
  11. ___
  12. ___
  13. ___
  14. ___
  15. ___
  16. ___
  17. ___
  18. ___

 

  • The Good Principle was drawn from the ___ stone.
  • The Evil Principle was drawn after the ___ stone.
  • The Good Principle was not drawn.
  • The Evil Principle was not drawn.

First and last name of the querent: ____________________
Birthdate of querent: ____________________
Time of divination: ____________________
Date of divination: ____________________
Specific question: ____________________

For the Good/Evil Principle bits in the template, there’s an instruction to check off (and, if necessary, fill out) which happened as according to the reading.  It’s a simple template, to be sure, but not a bad one to use, and easy enough to replicate in most word processors or text editors without much hassle.  It might be interesting to see that WKM notes such things as the birthdate of the querent or date/time of the query, which (although good practice in general) would indicate more of a reliance on astrology than ZT would otherwise allow.  For WKM, that might not be so bad a thing to make use of a little bit of astrology on the side, but even in terms of a strict ZT approach, we should remember that individual parts of the year are ruled over by particular angels associated with natal stars, which can yield useful information on its own, as well.

WKM notes in a follow-up chapter to the case study a few neat details:

  • The case study as provided does not investigate every possible combination of fields and stones, nor the ideal figures that they might belong to.
  • At one point, WKM used a technique (not described in ZT) of drawing a straight line out from the center house to one of the corners of the Great Mirror, e.g. houses 1—4—13—28 (greatness/power to genius/fame to wisdom/science to perfection/maturity).  Other lines may be drawn for the other corners of the Great Mirror and analyzed as well in similar ways, and such lines may be interpreted in either direction (either from the center to the corner, or from the corner to the center).
  • The case study analyzed the solar orbit as an ideal small hexagon unto itself, but WKM also recommends looking at each orbit of the Great Mirror separately as well in similar ways, which can reveal different perspectives on the same situations described.
  • All ideal figures (WKM recommends only using small figures, e.g. small triangles or small diamonds) can and should be used whenever possible to allow for the development of further insights and developments.

Something to note is that, although WKM is largely a summary (if not abridging) of KZT, one of the things it completely does away with are the natal stars and angels.  While WKM does offer a reproduction of Plate VI (which shows the angels on the houses of the Great Mirror), the book contains no discussion of them whatsoever—which, as befitting an Ariosophist, probably saw such things as a Jewish (or otherwise Semitic) encroachment on his “true ethnic religion”, given that Ariosophy largely wanted to do away with Christianity and return to an Aryo-German protoreligion.  All the same, while WKM doesn’t mention the angels whatsoever, it does still allocate all nine Intelligences to the houses of the Great Mirror in the same way the “Second Supplement” of ZT does, giving Psykomena to house 1, Genhelia to house 3, Psykomena to house 6, and Seleno to house 17.  It justifies this accordingly:

With this distribution of the planets on the Great Mirror, it should always be noted that the planets Uranus and Neptune had not yet been discovered at the time when the Zoroastrian Kabbala came into being. However, as already mentioned, Psychelia (the spiritual Sun), and Psychomena (the spiritual Moon), are synonymous with Uranus and Neptune.

In this light, WKM just gives these two extra planets their own place on the Great Mirror, and thus their own orbits (which explains a bit about some of WKM’s approach in the case study from last post).  It was, of course, fashionable at the time for occultists of all kinds to try to incorporate whatever recent scientific discoveries were made popular, even if they broke or otherwise didn’t fully mesh well with the systems they were trying to incorporate them into.  The same trends still happen today, of course, what with quantum physics or string theory being the raison du jour of how or why divination, magic, spirits, etc. work, but whatever.  One would think that turning to an ancient system that fully admits its age and provides its own understanding of the cosmos in its own spiritual terms would be sufficient, but I guess some people aren’t fully satisfied until they keep up with the non-spiritual Jonses.

Also, as one more interesting departure from KZT, take a look at WKM’s own depiction of the Urn foldout present in all other ZT texts:

WKM’s approach to the tiles is relatively simple, at least when compared to the more elaborate designs given in the Urn foldouts of all other ZT texts.  WKM keeps the planet and Zodiac sign on all the Numeric tiles, but otherwise does away with the angel names (as expected) as well as the decorative elements of each tile.  WKM keeps Seleno as a crescent moon with its points facing right ☾, but interestingly represents Genhelia not with a circle with a dot in it (as is normal for the solar glyph ☉) but just as a plain circle.  However, the rightmost column is perhaps the most interesting: not only does Sokak have a variant depiction of a squat pentagon (more accurately resembling a coffin, using the secondary description given of the Sokak tile in ZT) and Sallak likewise (wings coming from the corners instead of the edges), but there is no Sum tile present (normally placed in the rightmost column between Senamira and Sallak).  To an extent, this is understandable: given that only FZT contains any description of what the Sum tile is or does because only FZT preserves the Epilogue, Kern probably saw no description of it in KZT (or whatever other text he was referencing) and so omitted it in his own version of ZT.  As I said before, it’s up to the diviner to choose whether to use this 113th tile or not.

Anyway, that’s enough for WKM and Karl Kern; the rest of the book is basically just the same text as in KZT, without a whole lot else added, so I’m happy to never have to pick this book up or see its author’s name again.  Still, for what it’s worth, we were able to pick up some useful tips and tricks for implementing the otherwise sparsely-defined approach to divination given in ZT.  But we’re still not done; there are a few more things we need to touch on, namely how ZT itself considers us human beings to fit into its own grand spiritual cosmos.  We’ll start that conversation next time.

4 responses

    • I think you’ve missed the point of that part of this discussion. Also, kabbalah far exceeds the Tree of Life, which is a comparatively small part of the overall tradition.

  1. Pingback: Unlocking the Observatory: The Life and Times of Humanity « The Digital Ambler

  2. Pingback: Unlocking the Observatory: Summary and Recap « The Digital Ambler

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