Unlocking the Observatory: A Case Study of the Great Mirror

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 the actual process of performing divination with ZT. 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.

As I mentioned early on, there has been very little literature written about ZT, whether as a larger analysis of the text or as applications and explorations of it, and I think this post series of mine may well be the first (or one of the first) in English to treat on ZT in any extensive manner.  However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything else we might turn to—in fact, there is actually one such text that can help us out here: Karl Kern’s 1933 work Die wahrsagende Kabbala der Magier: die Kabbala des Zoroaster (WKM). This same book was later reprinted in 2009 under the name “Baron André-Robert Andréa de Nerciat” (for reasons that will likely become clear in the next paragraph) by Verlag Edition Geheimes Wissen.

Admittedly, I can’t find much information about Kern: what little I can find is that he was a German occultist who eventually got taken up with Ariosophy, a German völkisch ideological spirituality which was mutually interpermeable with Theosophy at the time.  To be sure, Karl Kern was at odds with broader Theosophical leadership; Corinna Treitel’s A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the Modern German talks about such differences and issues (pp. 102—107), as well as the similarities and shared origins of perspective in matters of race and racialized spirituality.  Kern was active in ariosophical groups in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, published several books and periodicals involved in such a milieu, and was connected to similar völkisch movements that played a part in the rise of the Third Reich; for more on this, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and their Influence on Nazi Theology is a good work to consult.

Normally, I would be nothing short of happy to pass over such a person and just let him sink forgotten into the dark abyss of history, to say nothing of how much he ought to be rightfully condemned for his rancidly offensive ideologies, but in this case, he’s one of the few people I can find to have ever written about ZT, making WKM worth our attention if only for our research into ZT.  Given the sparseness of information I can find on Kern, I can’t say what came upon him to write a book about ZT.  In all likelihood (at least to my mind), it’s probably no more than the fact that he came across KZT as part of his research in German folklore and magical practices in Scheible’s Das Kloster, and, intrigued in the system of ZT that bore some semblance to numerology and similar forms of occult practices that he and his colleagues were already into along with its repeated vitriol aimed at more popular, common forms of occult and esoteric practices, he decided to publish his own primer.  While this text preserves some of the material verbatim from KZT while abridging other parts even further than KZT did of FZT, it does away with much of the supplemental material while also providing a lengthy case study and example of its own.  Notably, Kern incorporated the recently-discovered Uranus and Neptune into its system as synonyms for spirit-Sun and spirit-Moon, respectively:

The words “material” and “spiritual” here mean “physical” and “moral”, or “elemental” and “ethereal”.  One would also be justified (taking it with a grain of salt) in assigning Psychomena to Neptune and Psychelia to Uranus.

Each Intelligence is represented by the sign of the planet to which it is attached. For the sake of simplicity and easier distinction, one always finds the sign of Neptune for the Psychomena and the sign of Uranus for the Psychelia on the table of Intelligences and Numbers.

For the most part, what one finds in WKM is largely similar to KZT, except that WKM devotes a whole chapter to “Ein Beispiel”, a complete case study of a single Great Mirror, which I’d like to provide and discuss today, especially because ZT itself doesn’t provide any such example.  I apologize for the length of this post (I wanted to quote the whole example in full plus provide my own insight and commentary on it) as well as the roughness (I am worse at German than I am at French, and I’m already no good at French).  For the purposes of this translation, WKM uses the words “stone” and “field” to call what we’ve been referring to respectively as “tile” and “house”.

WKM gives the following Great Mirror:

Note that the ⛢ symbol in house 22 is the usual astrological glyph for Uranus, which WKM uses as a substitute/synonym for Psykomena.  The small text by each house in the outer belt of the Great Mirror indicates a lustral period (period of five years), such that house 20 represents years 0—5, house 21 years 5—10, house 22 years 10—15, and so on through house 37 representing years 85—90.

WKM opens up the context and case of the reading to be investigated, a reading done for a middle-aged man:

…The good principle Sisamoro was drawn in the course of the operation, saying many valuable things. Any good event displayed will be amplified by this; conversely, every bad event is weakened at first, but then ultimately led to the good. The influence of the good principle is effective on all fields and on all stones. It is very important to note when Sisamoro is drawn from the urn, i.e. on which space it would fall if it were allowed to be treated as one of the beings. In our case, Sisamoro was drawn as the 15th stone, so it would have fallen on the 15th field ruled by Mercury. With this, something important can already be seen, because we can state that the seeker is undoubtedly strongly mercurial, that he desires and loves for trade and change, enjoys travel and business, but also that he has a lucky hand in all business. Even if it may often seem different, he can finally call treasures, profit and wealth his own.

WKM follows one of the bits of advice given in ZT where one should “observe at which junction in the laying out of pieces for a Great Mirror where a Principle or Spirit appears”.  In this case, WKM notes on what tile of the Great Mirror Sisamoro would have fallen on, and makes a note about that.

Now let’s look at the first stone, in our case 37, which is assigned to the Sun and which has fallen into field 1 (of Uranus). 37 indicates heated feelings, passion, and temperament. Field 1 as the center of the entire mirror is the field of greatness and power, the groundbreaking field for life as a whole. Even a Kabbalist with only a small power of deduction will interpret this situation in such a way that a person with great passion, with all his feeling and temperament, is willing to go the way to spiritual power and greatness. If we further break down the number 37 into its two digits 3 and 7, we see that firstly love must have a dominant influence in life, and secondly that Mars’ number 7 inclines to strong vehemence of wanting and accomplishing. On the one hand, love is inspired and stimulated by Mars, but on the other hand, Mars is tempered and tamed by Erosia (Venus). People flare up easily, but never for long.

Recall how WKM gives Uranus to Psykelia/spirit-Sun.  Also recall ZT’s reminder that “whenever a simple number appears joined with another to form a compound number, each of the two digits still preserves something that is primitively proper to them, wherever it may fall in some mirror or in some orbit, even one most foreign to its planet or angel”.

Now to field 3, which speaks of beauty and happy love. The stone 33 of virtuous marriage and harmony is drawn into this field and means that the seeker finds his love only in marriage, that only marriage offers him the possibility of walking the path that leads to the top.

This fact is underlined by the number 81 that fell on field 4. A woman who accompanies the lot-drawer into old age will be his protection and shield on the way to the recognition that corresponds to his talents. It is suitable for inciting and rousing him and for bringing him to the goal of 9 (the reduction of 81), to happiness and success, because if we look closely at 81, in this number the female being (8) is connected to the individuality (1).

Number 86 is in field 5, which indicates treasures and profits. This is a stone assigned to Lethophoro (Saturn) and has something to do with hospitals, especially nurses. The conclusion is that the querent makes an acquaintance with a woman (8), who is clever (6) and who works in a hospital. As a result of this acquaintance, he will suffer unexpected setbacks in business terms. Ultimately, however, since Sisamoro has temporally moved to the field of Mercury (field 5 falls not only in the Sun’s orbit but also in the orbit of Mercury), this affair will end well. Indeed, there may be some gain for the querent as he gains experience and, as the old saying goes, learns from damage.

Note how the location at which Sisamoro was drawn affects not just the interpretation of that house and the tile that eventually fills it, but to all the tiles in that house’s orbit.

The number 12, which as a Venus-ruled number signifies joy-bringing love and success, falls into field 6, which governs domesticity. The combination of the 12 stone in field 6 shows that the querent has a happy and joyful home, that he appreciates true domesticity, that only from such an environment his individuality (1) can have a positive effect on his fellow human beings (2), and that as a result love (reduction of 3) is strengthened again. As always in life, there is a feedback loop here: one supports the other and this other in turn supports the one. An inheritance is also entirely within the realm of possibility.

If we go to field 7 (old age and health), we find it assigned the number 39, which means happy love. The combination of 7 and 39 underscores the fact that we drew from 33 on field 3 and 81 on field 4.

Note a pattern being formed here, drawn out between different tiles and houses that touch on a similar thread.

We have now considered the center field 1 with the inner zone, which together form the small hexagon, in very brief outlines. However, we have not yet fully exhausted the content of each stone combined with its field. Just as each of the fields 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 belongs to the solar orbit, so too does each individual field also belong to another planetary orbit. Thus field 2 belongs to Mars, field 3 to Venus, field 4 to Jupiter, field 5 to Mercury, field 6 to the Moon, and field 7 to Saturn. This allows for yet another view and illumination from each of these vantage points. A fact that has already been established can perhaps be strengthened or weakened or even changed or varied in one way or another. In the course of the further interpretation of the large mirror we will find such relationships again and again. Thus, a tremendously far-reaching connection and determination of facts and events is possible.

This last bit isn’t quite touching on the whole “fractal direction” thing I touched on before, but is touching on something similar: when a house belongs to multiple orbits at once, that house can be understood from each planet’s perspective accordingly.

Let’s look at the fields of the planetary zone, which together with the small hexagon (central zone plus center) forms the middle hexagon. In field 8, which indicates severe physical suffering, is Mars. As a result of military activity, the lot-drawer is likely to be in serious danger to his life. This becomes even clearer if we consider the field of Mars itself, field 9 (indicating military status) has the number 50 in it (danger avoided). If we also go back to field 2 with stone 65 (salvation) and look at the small triangle 8 — 9 — 2, then there is no other conclusion: as a soldier, the querent has come into very grave danger to life, but it turns out good when his rescue comes to pass and the downfall is avoided. On the other hand, if we relate Mars falling into field 8 to field 7 with the number 39, then a warning to the querent should be in order to exercise caution in matters of love. The warning appears even more justified by the number 85 (faithless woman), which falls on the adjacent field 19 (envy, unhappiness, anger).

Look at the use of an ideal triangle here, a small one between houses 2—8—9!  This was spurred on initially because the Intelligence tile of Adamasto (which already indicates violence) fell into the house indicating harm, so of course we might want to investigate that for more details.  Likewise, another ideal small triangle between houses 8—7—17 is inspected, too, along similar lines.  We should take care whenever an Intelligence tile appears, it would seem, and consider the tiles around it especially carefully.

Field 10 of romantic adventures is covered by the Saturnine number 14, which announces implausibility [Unglaubwürdigkeit]. With figures who are probably a bit dubious in their views and in their character, the querent will experience many adventures. He will find himself in situations that, although one might enjoy reading about in a novel to while away long hours, are anything but pleasant in personal life. Once again, these events are linked to Mars. i.e. with the warlike, but at the same time with Venus, since field 10 is common to both planetary orbits. The possibility of learning more about this is given by looking at the triangle 2 — 3 — 10, then the triangle 10 — 23 — 24, and finally by looking at the small hexagon 2 — 3 — 11 — 24 — 23 — 9, whose center of field 10 is considered. But that may be left out here as going too far. Let us just mention this one fact: if we decompose the number 14 into the digits 1 and 4, we learn that these events and occurrences are occurring or have occurred at a time when the querent (individual as 1) has traveled a great deal (4).

Not only does WKM make use of ideal triangles, but also makes use of ideal hexagons as well, but admits that doing so here may be overdoing it, either on trying to squeeze out all possible details from such a notion or at least for doing so for the sake of an example.  Still, useful to note that we may not be limited to ideal triangles alone when investigating accidental interpretations of the tiles.

We come to the field of Venus, field 11, into which falls stone 29, “Confusion of the Great”; pride and falsehood lies here. The time of the marriage (stone 33 on the adjacent field 3) falls in a period of external unrest and confusion. Nevertheless, this marriage will be happy, although there will be friction, but it must be a karmically determined union, since the case, which according to the probability calculation is quite rare, has occurred that the stone of the legal marriage has fallen into the orbit of Venus itself.

Note how the presence of 29 “confusion/whirlwind of the great” in the house of Venus itself impacts all the tiles in the orbit of Venus on the Great Mirror; the tiles still mean what they do where they fall, but they are impacted all the same in that general region of the Great Mirror.

The Mercury stone on field 12 (marriage) teaches that this marriage can also be called ideal for advancement in business terms. Some schemers will try to disrupt the marriage, but they do so in vain (thus through Sisamoro), and instead the querent will achieve the opposite of the hateful desires of envious people and come to a job that allows him to travel much and rake in profit. This is underlined by the triangle 4 — 3 — 12 with the stones “advanced female age” (81), “marriage” (33) and “intrigues, opposition” (4).  This is also seen through the triangle 11 — 26 — 12, because the number 92 in field 26 means that the querent will find protection (92) even in confused situations (29) and still wins (Mercury 4).

When WKM says “Mercury stone”, it’s referring not to the Intelligence tile for Panurgio, but to the primitive Number tile 4, which is Panurgio’s numeric representative.  Note again how the presence of Sisamoro can be felt here because of the influence of it in the house of Mercury itself.

The number 64 (losses, judgments) in field 13 (wisdom, science) teaches that the path to spiritual perfection is by no means always completely smooth. It may be mentioned here that this path leads to a spiritual height from field 1 (greatness, power) via field 13 (wisdom, science) to field 28 (moral perfection). If we look at this path in our Great Mirror, we come to the following conclusion: At the beginning of his earthly journey, the one who casts the lot is a sensual person who is ruled by hot feelings and strong passion (37). A woman (81) joins him on the path of life and soothes him by his side. Losses and touches with courts (64) brought on by the activity and the burning ambition may at times seem inhibiting, but in the end his talented disposition (67) will prevail and perfection will be achieved through energetic self-control (7 affects 6 and 6 affects 7).

Rather than reading an ideal figure within the Great Mirror, WKM does something different here; it’s like we’re tracing a ray straight from the center of the Great Mirror out to one of its corners.  It’s a technique not stated in ZT, but it makes sense, especially if we extend the notion of “fractal directions” on each individual tile of the Great Mirror; thus, the rightmost corner of the Great Mirror is the Jovianest extension possible of anything coming from the center of the Mirror.

We now turn to field 14, in which we see stone 21. 21 indicates the birth of a son. If, however, we look at 21 in connection with 81 and 64 (i.e. the triangle 14 — 4 — 13) for a closer look, we see that the son (21) arising from the union of the individual with the woman (81) immediately falls into loss (64). This fact is underlined when looking at the small diamond 14 — 4 — 12 — 13. Then there is the stone of opposition. A stillbirth or an abortion is therefore within the realms of possibility and probability. But the stone 21 also indicates in general that two people are getting to know each other, and it is likely to be a man who paves the way for the person seeking a release to a respected position, to a recognized work in public. (Recall a friend and protector previously indicated by the number 65 on field 2.) Since field 14 falls within the orbit of Mercury and also belongs to the orbit of Jupiter, engaging in scientific matters will also bring success in business.

WKM uses a small diamond here as well to understand complex situations, here looking at the diamond produced from houses 14—4—12—13 (tiles 21, 81, 4, 64).

This becomes all the more clear to us when we look at the field of Mercury, field 15, with the stone 72 falling on it, because here it is expressed that dealing with religious questions leads Mercury favorably. The querent is strongly religiously inclined. He combines the highly spiritual in his life with his own practical sense, and thus achieves a position that will bring him great success, high reputation, and public recognition in both the intellectual and economic fields. If we connect the number 72 with the number 21, we come to the conclusion that the aforementioned encounter with a man must be a deeply religious person, and an active person of genius.

Although not stated here, remember that house 15 (the house of Mercury) is where Sisamoro was originally drawn.  Thus, this very tile, no matter how fortunate it may already have been, is significantly increased in its beneficial qualities.

The number 25 is in field 16 of maladministration. This Martian number indicates indebted family, flaws, and civil unrest. If we want to understand the meaning of this stone in field 16, then let’s look at the triangle 16 — 5 — 15 with the stones 25, 86, and 72. The event mentioned earlier (stone 86 on field 5) is explained in more detail here as this matter has a bad effect on the family, especially in economic terms. However, this is only temporary, because the number 72 and (if we continue to form a small lozenge by adding the field 32 with stone 93 “circle of joy, happiness”) the number 93 lets everything run out well. If we then connect the number 25 with number 72, it becomes clear that dealing with religious questions falls into a time of external confusion, but is then also likely to have a drastic and thus confusing effect on existing conditions and upheavals for some people to bring forth.

The family field 17 is filled with the number 49, which characterizes the querent as a good speaker and, through his eloquence, prophesies an unconditional ascent. This success will certainly affect the family and make a strong impression on domesticity. The success of eloquence is confirmed by the Uranian number 9, which announces elevation and happy successes. The querent will achieve an introspection and mental harmony that will allow him to overcome weakness and brooding hours (field 18). Considering the triangle 17 — 18 — 6 with the stones “eloquence”, “rising”, “nobility/exaltation/luck” and “joy, success”, this interpretation is presented as incontrovertible and irrevocable.

Again, remember that Uranus is WKM’s substitute for spirit-Sun/Psykomena here, and that 9 is the primitive Number representation of Psykomena.

Field 19 (envy, unhappiness and anger) closes the planetary zone. This field of Saturn is occupied by the Mercurial stone 85, which indicates anything unpleasant with a woman. This constellation is caused by Mars on field 8. However, its favorable outcome can be seen from the number 9 on field 18. The number 39 on field 7 has a favorable effect. (This is all considered in the context of the small lozenge 18 — 19 — 8 — 7.)

Thus far we have now considered the planetary belt. We may well have taken a deep look into the disposition of character and the course of events in life of the person who throws the lottery. It remains to consider and interpret the stones falling on the fields of the border zone.

Recall the Great Dial and how, in concentric movement, the outer belt indicates lustral periods, 5-year spans of life.  We haven’t treated on this too much yet, but the outer belt of the Great Mirror can also be understood to represent particular segments of the life of someone as well.  This can be seen by some of the indications and semantic fields given in the list of house meanings in ZT’s “Seventh Step”, e.g. how house 20 represents birth, house 21 infancy, house 22 puberty, and so forth.

Stone 76 falls in field 20 of birth and inactivity. This stone is assigned to Mercury, and since this number indicates striving for fame, it is not far-fetched to assume that destiny instilled in the querent a desire for recognition and esteem from birth; ambition undoubtedly lies within him. It is not a so-called “field, forest, and meadow” ambition, but—as we notice when breaking down the number 76 into its digits 7 and 6—a strong activity, a pronounced determination (7) for cleverness and wisdom (6). Mars (Adamasto) is here directed and restrained by Jupiter (Aglae), who banishes and eliminates every opportunity to get a bad reputation and harm oneself through effervescence. Since Adamasto (Mars) himself lies next to the field of birth (field 20) on field 8 of severe physical ailments, the conclusion is obvious that the mother of the querent was in grave danger during childbirth, and also that the life of the querent itself was hanging by a thread.

Recall how this Great Mirror was composed for a middle-aged man, but here we are investigating his birth and origins.  The Great Mirror can be used to show forth someone’s entire life, both past and present and future.

The stone 24 (meritorious family) in the following field 21 (wanton pranks) proves that the youth of the querent passed in a pleasant and not-at-all poor environment. He had a happy youth.  This is also underlined by Uranus itself on field 22; as has already been said, the individual fields of the border zone each contain a period of five years for the man, but for women, from the 20th to the 31st fields, four and then seven years each. From looking at the fields that now follow, we can see in broad outline the entire biography of the querent.

Although lustral periods are in general five years long, for women it’s a bit different (and, again, we’ll cover that more in a future post), hence the bit about them being four years for women here in these coming houses.

In the field 23 of youth we find the stone 75 assigned to Erosia (Venus), signifying unhappy passion. In the period from 15 to 20 years of age, the querent already had his first disappointment in love. Because stone 50 lies in the field of fog 9, the lovers have been separated. Field 23 falls within the orbit of Mars; the love was therefore passionate and deeply sensual in nature. Stone 14 on field 10 indicates that some intrigues or gossip, which caused so much mischief, have severed the connection, since field 23 belongs to the orbit of Mars, showing that this happened in a quite abrupt form.

The stone 54 (victory, successful processes) on field 24 (violent passion and sensuality) can hardly be interpreted otherwise than with the assumption that the querent did not win his heart’s beloved in the usual way, but that he had to wrest her from a rival. Small implausible things and slander (see stone 14 in field 10) were blasted out, as is unfortunately so often the case today, where nobody begrudges anyone anything. The querent got to know his wife between the ages of 20 and 25. We can see that the marriage actually came about, despite all the gossip (14 in field 10 and stone 29 of falsehood in field 2), by forming and looking at the small diamond 3 — 10 — 24 — 11, for the point of this diamond is formed by the stone 33 (virtuous, enduring love) on field 3 (happy love).

Note now WKM makes a point of noting the “point” of a diamond as having particular importance.

We move on to field 25 (debauchery and infidelity). Here we find stone 90, which means renunciation and withdrawal. The combination of the meaning of the field and the stone clearly indicates that a certain estrangement must have occurred in the relationship between the man and his wife between the ages of twenty-five and thirty. As the adjacent stone 29 says, this event must have happened at a time of public unrest and confusion.

As the stone 92 proves with its meaning “help, protector” on field 26 (enduring love and constancy), the event just mentioned did not last very long, because between years 30 to 35 the querent has returned to himself and to reason. However, he did not do so without having suffered temporary business damage, as a consideration of the diamond 12 — 11 — 25 — 26 teaches, the point of which is the Mercurial stone 4. However, the temporary damage was then superseded by a period of flourishing and rising up (see the number 92 in its field combined with the number 4 in its field).

From the 35th to the 40th year of life follows a period of busiest business and intellectual activity, as stone 15 proves with its meaning “skill and aptitude”. Since this stone is in field 27 (marital status), a strong perseverance in married life is also indicated for this time—but it is also a time of unrest. If we consider the triangle 12 — 26 — 27, the querent makes numerous journeys (stone 4) which are very profitable, but since all fields belong to the orbit of Uranus, a journey of the entire marital status will probably also take place, i.e. a resettlement to another place. This resettlement will create a comfortable environment with spiritually high people (stone 92). If we also add field 13 with stone 64 into this triangle and thus form a small lozenge, we see that the querent has a much to do with judgments in the same period of time, and will suffer some losses as a result. In the end, however, such affairs end well, since the entire Great Mirror is illumined by the good principle Sisamoro.

In the period between the ages of 40 and 45, the querent will have strong, lasting and very lucrative success in everything he takes on. On field 28 (moral perfection and maturity in all things) lies the Mercurial stone 67. This stone fulfills everything that its digit announce and promised in the opposite direction, i.e. as the number 76 in the field of birth 20. The talent, mental and business abilities of the querent now have an opportunity to make an impact. All wise thoughts (6), risen in stormy youth and purified and clarified in many of life’s perils, into which the querent leads himself through his strong Mars-winnings, cleansed of all rotten leaves and blossoms which the storm of life tore off and chased away, will now find their realization. Ideas become actions; undertakings, no matter how daring (7), are carried out with prudence and wise calculation (6). The time of maturity and harvest has come, and the harvest will be above average; it will be a great harvest, indeed.

Note how WKM points out connections between tiles of reversed numbers, e.g. 67 and 76.

The time of strong, successful activity will continue in the following five years, i.e. from the 45th to the 50th year of life, because the Martian stone 34 lies in field 29 (prudence and philosophy), the stone always promising good progress in all matters, including marriage, through its presence. As stone 64 in field 13 indicates when the triangle 29 — 13 — 28 is formed, processes will hardly be reported during this time either, but the outcome is always beyond doubt. The loser will always emerge victorious.

In field 30 (disloyalty and aversion) lies stone 20 (dissolution of interests and the focal point). This is to say that the querent will be in the public eye and in the spotlight, but that he will be met with strong resentment from many people. This is the time between the ages of 50 and 55. Let’s look at the triangle made with field 15 with the stone 72 (religion) for a closer interpretation, field 14 with the stone 21 (the connection with a male friend), and field 30 with stone 20. This makes it clear to us why the querent is the focus and why he gets caught up in a whirlpool of negative, dismissive criticism. In his striving to bring true religion (72) actively (broken out into the digit 7) into mankind (digit 2), he must encounter resistance. After all, the crowd never wants to be disturbed from their rest and would rather lie motionless in the pond than go the way of life in the sunshine of a racial-culture religion. A loyal friend (21) will stand by his side to help him in the battle for his soul.

Remember that WKM was written by an Ariosophist in the early years of the Third Reich; Rassenkulturreligion “racial-culture religion” is a völkisch concept from Kern’s Ariosophist milieu, needless to say, and is reflective of the abominable ideology of the author of WKM rather than anything that the tiles or houses of ZT themselves would suggest.

Anyone who dares to go public must always be prepared for hostilities. That goes without saying, and the discerning person will always be able to use the quality of his enemy as a measure of his own worth; he will often value the enemy as his friend. But it is different when this enemy wears skirts. A woman knows no bounds when she is angry, which a man always knows how to draw gallantly even in the fiercest battle. The querent will still experience this at the age of 55 to 60, because on the field 31 (dangerous destiny) lies stone 84, which indicates a treacherous woman, one whose appearance and nature can probably only be described aptly with the word “hysterical”. Here the querent may be careful, he may carefully sift through the acquaintances, and he will then also succeed in escaping the snare and then, on the field 32 of unrest and travel, lies stone 93 which brings peace, letting him breathe easy in a circle of friends, renewing him, of which love and loyalty (digit 3 in 93) can be experienced. In this epoch (60 to 65 years of age) he will undertake many more journeys, bringing success and happiness, often where it is not even suspected.

On field 33 (“inconstancy”) we find stone 58, which indicates to the querent the death of a female being close to him, i.e. between his 65th and 70th year of life. This event will upset him. As indicated by the adjacent stone 49 on field 17, he will again enter a period of renewed activity, he will speak and act, he will experience another ascent. But stone 71 (shattered nerves) on field 34 (old age) shows that he will have dared too much. The  querent is no longer the youngest and strongest; he is now between 70 and 75 years of age. The restless activity and sacrifice will wear out the nerves. The loss indicated in field 33 will not be forgotten. Ponder and ponder, plan and plan—it wears him down, and he sees it.

And now he enters a time when, recognized in society (stone 2), he enjoys the evening of life (field 35, “inactivity”). He looks at his work which he has finished.  Mentally and spiritually mature, full of knowledge and inwardly balanced and one with the universe, with his God, he enters field 36, i.e. between the ages of 80 and 85, as Saturn himself determines, the journey into the country of the hereafter.

In the ideal case, house 37 represents the end of life, with 90 years being the maximum lifespan of a human being (according to the notion of ZT).  However, WKM doesn’t bother with even inspecting house 37 at this point, since we see Saturn/Lethophoro in house 36 already; this suggests strongly, especially as we’re already in the orbit of Saturn in house 36, that the querent will die between the years of 80 and 85, so there’s no further point to investigating the rest.

I know that was a lot, but as it turns out, a Great Mirror has a lot of information and detail, even without resorting to secondary queries or back-up mirrors—and this was just an illustrative example, no less, which didn’t even flesh out all the ideal figures it pointed out.  And even then, I don’t think we’re done talking about WKM yet; the above is just 17 pages from the book, but there’s a lot more in there with a few other details and tricks that aren’t in ZT, either.  Given that this is one of the few books that discusses the divinatory system of ZT besides ZT itself, it’s worth our time to dig in a bit deeper; we’ll do so next time.

Unlocking the Observatory: Ideal Triangles in the Great Mirror

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 the various figures and mirrors used for divination, especially the Great Mirror itself. 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!), the relevant chapters from ZT are the “Fourth Step” and “Third Supplement”.

In the last post, we talked about the “spreads” of tiles that get used in the divinatory method of ZT, especially the Great Mirror.  While all the triangular, quadrangular, and hexangular figures get used as mirrors at some point in ZT, it’s really the Great Mirror that takes center stage as being the primary divinatory “spread” of them all.  We talked about how each of the 37 positions in the large hexagon, when used as the Great Mirror, have their own meanings and semantic fields, and how such meanings can be arrived at by considering the Great Mirror a sort of self-similar, self-replicating planetary arrangement.  In this, one can already perform basic divination in ZT by simply asking a query, composing a Great Mirror, and inspecting each tile in its appropriate house.

Of course, that’d just be too simple, wouldn’t it?  We’re not doing Tarot, after all.

In addition to inspecting each tile in the house it appears within, ZT also accounts for “triads” of tiles in the Great Mirror in what it calls “ideal triangles”.  Recall from the last post the distinction of “real figures” versus “ideal figures”: a real figure is any complete figure that is composed from tiles and named according to its overall shape, while an “ideal figure” is a subset of tiles within a real figure that forms a subfigure of that larger figure.  In the Great Mirror, particular kinds of “ideal triangles” are noted as being useful and important for interpreting a Great Mirror as a whole, not just looking at individual tiles where they fall but looking at groups of tiles and how they fall together.  To borrow a bit of astrological terminology, by noting which tiles form a “triad” in the Great Mirror, we can interpret any given tile in two ways: an “essential interpretation” (the tile in its house) and an “accidental interpretation” (the tile in the triads it forms).

There’s one minor hiccup in this approach, however.  The earlier description (from the “Second Step”) of “ideal figures” leads one to consider actual figures composed of many tiles together all at once, but later uses of “ideal triangles” (notably the “Fourth Step” and the “Third Supplement”) only refer to triangles—because equilateral triangles are “the only triangular figure to which the Great Cabala attaches any importance”—and further only to the corners of those triangles.  We’ll see why in a bit.

First, let’s recall the numbering for the houses in the large hexagon, which is used for the Great Mirror:

This is based on the numbering system given in ZT’s Plate III, which describes the cosmological layout of the Great Mirror, the placement of Sisamoro and Senamira, and the number pattern of the individual houses thereof:


Do you see all those dashed lines across the plate?  There are several kinds of dashed lines: circular dashed lines around each planetary house indicate that planet’s orbit, a wavy line that goes through all the houses of the Great Mirror indicating the order of the tiles from 1 to 37, and lots of straight lines that indicate particular ideal triangles in the Great Mirror.  Consider the ideal triangle composed of houses 1, 9, and 11 (noted as 1–9–11): this is a “planetary triangle” formed from the houses of Sun, Mars, and Venus.  Likewise, houses 1, 37, and 22 (or 1–37–22) form a slightly larger “zodiacal triangle” that incorporates the houses given to Aries and Taurus.

ZT has this to say about the ideal triangles:

…it is good to also become familiar with a more ideal yet highly essential division into triangles of different sizes. The main ones are indicated in Plate III: all these triangles indicated by dashed lines have their vertices at the center…and are distinguished and named according to their bases. In order to not throw ourselves here into details which would exceed the framework of a key, since it would be good for the Candidate to seek them until they come across them by analogy, we will not give an account here of triangles other than the planetary, zodiacal, and external triangles.

The observations to be made according to the triangles, either already described or arbitrarily noted in the Great Mirror, will be infinite; the care one takes in inspecting them will cost time and cause trouble, though ever less and less until none at all, as such calculations become ever more familiar. On the other hand, as such cares and costs decrease, the variety and richness increase, above all the infallibility of what such results will reveal.

The Candidate whose eye is not well-exercised in geometry would do well, when operating, to always have a compass in hand to find without error and without difficulty the third box which must complete a triangle for any two already chosen in the Great Mirror. For example, if a compass has one point in the center of box 18 and the other fixed in the center of box 31, lifting and moving the first half of the compass will only find a third center in box 12. This is the third point completing, together with boxes 18 and 31, an equilateral triangle, the only triangular figure to which the Great Cabala attaches any importance. So it is with all of the triangles which one will is able to imagine and whose formation is possible in the space of the Great Mirror.

Likewise, later on, it suggests several rules regarding how to make use of such ideal triangles, or at least which ones to pay special attention to:

  1. Let us carefully observe whether and where there might be a triplicity of similar numbers, i.e. what quality a third number might have to form an equilateral triangle with two other numbers sharing the same or similar property.
  2. Let us appreciate what such a triplicity might mean, whether for good or ill.
  3. Let us clearly note the number which forms an equilateral triangle with two Intelligences, and that one profoundly contemplates what a triplicity of Intelligences or primitive numbers might mean.
  4. Let the same attention be paid to a triplicity of numbers with zero or of doublets.

Thus, while all possible ideal triangles within the Great Mirror should be considered, the most important ones are those that involve two or more tenfold compound Numbers, two or more doublet compound Numbers, two or more Intelligences, two or more primitive Numbers, or any triangle that contains “similar numbers…sharing the same or similar property” (i.e. those sharing a common digit or which reduce to the same digit).  Presumably, we can also consider any triangle that also contains the two Spirits as also being significant.

That being said, when we say “all possible ideal triangles”…I mean, how many are we talking?  Given ZT’s reference to using a compass to determine any kind of equilateral triangle formed between any of the houses in the Great Mirror, and given the example thereof where the triangle 18–12–31 has one vertical side compared to the planetary and zodiacal ideal triangles that have horizontal sides, in addition to the “external ideal triangles” formed between three of the corners of the outermost belt of the Great Mirror…well, it turns out that there are a lot of possible triads of figures we might consider.  We can break all possible ideal triangles within the Great Mirror according to their orientation:

  • Horizontal: ideal triangles having one horizontal side (e.g. 1–9–11)
  • Vertical: ideal triangles having one vertical side (e.g. 18–12–31)
  • Skewed: ideal triangles having neither a horizontal nor vertical side (e.g. 32–26–30)

Likewise, within each group, we can classify the triangles further based on their size, although this is easier for some than others.  We’ll cover all the triangles that I’ve been able to account for in the Great Mirror.  I’m not too bad at those “how many squares are in this image?” puzzles you occasionally see online, so I hope to have accounted for all possible triangles.  I apologize for the lack of standardization in how I might have accounted for the triangles in the lists below; this is, perhaps, something better for a spreadsheet than a series of HTML ordered lists.


Ideal Small Horizontal Triangles

Every small triangle has edges spanning two houses with one horizontal edge, and is the smallest possible ideal triangle (or ideal figure) that can be formed according to ZT. These are, by far, the most numerous kind of ideal triangle that can be formed in the Great Mirror. There are four kinds of small triangles: those that touch two signs of the Zodiac, those that have one sign of the Zodiac and one planet, those that have one planet, and those that touch only orbital houses.

Upwards (27 total)

  1. 34–35–17 (Aquarius, Moon)
  2. 33–17–16 (Capricorn, Moon)
  3. 32–16–15 (Sagittarius, Mercury)
  4. 31–15–30 (Scorpio, Mercury)
  5. 35–36–17 (Aquarius/Pisces)
  6. 17–18–6 (Moon)
  7. 16–6–5 (orbits of Moon/Mercury/Sun)
  8. 15–5–14 (Mercury)
  9. 30–14–29 (Libra/Scorpio)
  10. 36–37–19 (Pisces, Saturn)
  11. 18–19–7 (Saturn)
  12. 6–7–1 (Sun)
  13. 5–1–4 (Sun)
  14. 14–4–13 (Jupiter)
  15. 29–13–28 (Libra, Jupiter)
  16. 19–20–8 (Aries, Saturn)
  17. 7–8–2 (orbits of Saturn/Sun/Mars)
  18. 1–2–3 (Sun)
  19. 4–3–12 (orbits of Sun/Mars/Venus)
  20. 13–12–27 (Virgo, Jupiter)
  21. 8–21–9 (Taurus, Mars)
  22. 2–9–10 (Mars)
  23. 3–10–11 (Venus)
  24. 12–11–26 (Leo, Venus)
  25. 9–22–23 (Gemini, Mars)
  26. 10–23–24 (Gemini/Cancer)
  27. 11–24–25 (Cacner, Venus)

Downwards (27 total)

  1. 34–33–17 (Capricorn, Moon)
  2. 33–32–16 (Sagittarius/Capricorn)
  3. 32–31–15 (Sagittarius, Mercury)
  4. 35–17–18 (Aquarius, Moon)
  5. 17–16–6 (Moon)
  6. 16–15–5 (Mercury)
  7. 15–30–14 (Scorpio, Mercury)
  8. 36–18–19 (Pisces, Saturn)
  9. 18–6–7 (orbits of Moon/Saturn/Sun)
  10. 6–5–1 (Sun)
  11. 5–14–4 (orbits of Mercury/Sun/Jupiter)
  12. 14–29–13 (Libra, Jupiter)
  13. 37–19–20 (Aries, Saturn)
  14. 19–7–8 (Saturn)
  15. 7–1–2 (Sun)
  16. 1–4–3 (Sun)
  17. 4–13–12 (Jupiter)
  18. 13–28–27 (Virgo, Jupiter)
  19. 20–8–21 (Aries/Taurus)
  20. 8–2–9 (Mars)
  21. 2–3–10 (orbits of Sun/Mars/Venus)
  22. 3–12–11 (Venus)
  23. 12–27–26 (Leo/Virgo)
  24. 21–9–22 (Taurus, Mars)
  25. 9–10–23 (Gemini, Mars)
  26. 10–11–24 (Cancer, Venus)
  27. 11–26–25 (Leo, Venus)

Ideal Hollow Horizontal Triangles

Every hollow triangle has edges spanning three houses with one horizontal edge. A unique quality of all ideal medium triangles in the Great Mirror is that they must have one corner somewhere in the orbit of the Sun (houses 1–7), with the other two being the equivalent houses in the orbit of two other planets. For instance, given one corner in the house to the right of the Sun (house 4), then one can form two possible ideal medium triangles, both having one corner in the house to the right of Jupiter (house 28), and either an upwards triangle with the corner to the right of Mercury (house 30) or a downwards triangle with the corner to the right of Venus (house 26). This same quality is what allows such triangles to be highlighted in the “Fourth Step” as specifically being “planetary triangles”, because when an ideal medium triangle takes the Sun itself (house 1) as one corner, the other two must be two planetary houses themselves.

Given this property, it is easy to anticipate how many such ideal medium triangles there are. Given that any given house can form a triangle in one of six directions (two possible directions × three possible corners = six possible triangles) and that there are seven houses within the orbit of the Sun, there are thus 6 × 7 = 42 possible ideal medium triangles in the Great Mirror, six for each planet.

Planet-only, i.e. Sun-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 1–19–9 (Sun, Saturn, Mars)
  2. 1–9–11 (Sun, Mars, Venus)
  3. 1–11–13 (Sun, Venus, Jupiter)
  4. 1–13–15 (Sun, Jupiter, Mercury)
  5. 1–15–17 (Sun, Mercury, Moon)
  6. 1–17–19 (Sun, Moon, Saturn)

Lower-left of the Sun, i.e. Mars-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 2–20–22 (Sun-orbit, Saturn-orbit, Mars-orbit)
  2. 2–22–24 (Sun-orbit, Mars-orbit, Venus-orbit)
  3. 2–24–12 (Sun-orbit, Venus-orbit, Jupiter-orbit)
  4. 2–12–5 (Sun-orbit, Jupiter-orbit, Mercury-orbit)
  5. 2–5–18 (Sun-orbit, Mercury-orbit, Moon-orbit)
  6. 2–18–20 (Sun-orbit, Moon-orbit, Saturn-orbit)

Lower-right of the Sun, i.e. Venus-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 3–8–23 (Sun-orbit, Saturn-orbit, Mars-orbit)
  2. 3–23–25 (Sun-orbit, Mars-orbit, Venus-orbit)
  3. 3–25–27 (Sun-orbit, Venus-orbit, Jupiter-orbit)
  4. 3–27–14 (Sun-orbit, Jupiter-orbit, Mercury-orbit)
  5. 3–14–6 (Sun-orbit, Mercury-orbit, Moon-orbit)
  6. 3–6–8 (Sun-orbit, Moon-orbit, Saturn-orbit)

Right of the Sun, i.e. Jupiter-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 4–7–10 (Sun-orbit, Saturn-orbit, Mars-orbit)
  2. 4–10–26 (Sun-orbit, Mars-orbit, Venus-orbit)
  3. 4–26–28 (Sun-orbit, Venus-orbit, Jupiter-orbit)
  4. 4–28–30 (Sun-orbit, Jupiter-orbit, Mercury-orbit)
  5. 4–30–16 (Sun-orbit, Mercury-orbit, Moon-orbit)
  6. 4–16–7 (Sun-orbit, Moon-orbit, Saturn-orbit)

Upper-right of the Sun, i.e. Mercury-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 5–18–2 (Sun-orbit, Saturn-orbit, Mars-orbit)
  2. 5–2–12 (Sun-orbit, Mars-orbit, Venus-orbit)
  3. 5–12–29 (Sun-orbit, Venus-orbit, Jupiter-orbit)
  4. 5–29–31 (Sun-orbit, Jupiter-orbit, Mercury-orbit)
  5. 5–31–33 (Sun-orbit, Mercury-orbit, Moon-orbit)
  6. 5–33–18 (Sun-orbit, Moon-orbit, Saturn-orbit)

Upper-left of the Sun, i.e. Moon-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 6–36–8 (Sun-orbit, Saturn-orbit, Mars-orbit)
  2. 6–8–3 (Sun-orbit, Mars-orbit, Venus-orbit)
  3. 6–3–14 (Sun-orbit, Venus-orbit, Jupiter-orbit)
  4. 6–14–32 (Sun-orbit, Jupiter-orbit, Mercury-orbit)
  5. 6–32–34 (Sun-orbit, Mercury-orbit, Moon-orbit)
  6. 6–34–36 (Sun-orbit, Moon-orbit, Saturn-orbit)

Left of the Sun, i.e. Saturn-themed triangles (6 total)

  1. 7–37–21 (Sun-orbit, Saturn-orbit, Mars-orbit)
  2. 7–21–10 (Sun-orbit, Mars-orbit, Venus-orbit)
  3. 7–10–4 (Sun-orbit, Venus-orbit, Jupiter-orbit)
  4. 7–4–16 (Sun-orbit, Jupiter-orbit, Mercury-orbit)
  5. 7–16–35 (Sun-orbit, Mercury-orbit, Moon-orbit)
  6. 7–35–37 (Sun-orbit, Moon-orbit, Saturn-orbit)

However, of the above-listed triangles, there are a few duplicates, which reduces the number of distinct ideal hollow triangles. These duplicates are formed by triangles that contain opposing planets, e.g. 2–5–18 as the perspective of Mars from the Sun, but 5–18–2 as the perspective of Mercury from the Sun; each pair of opposing planets produces two duplicates, with the third corner of these ideal triangles placed on the cross-axis that forms between them between the other two planets on a given side.  As a result, there are only 36 distinct ideal hollow triangles.

Ideal Full Horizontal Triangles

Every full triangle has edges spanning four houses with one horizontal edge, allowing for one house to form the center of such a triangle. The prototypical form of these triangles are the “zodiacal triangles” (as described in the “Fourth Step”), where the base of such a triangle can be formed along one whole edge of the Great Mirror from one corner to the next. Given the sixfold divisions of life in the “Fifth Step” (which we haven’t yet covered, but we will!), it may be that these triangles relate more to the various trials, tribulations, or experiences given in similar timeframes, especially as might impact particular lusters of life.

Of all the possible ideal large triangles, only two are contained completely within the Great Mirror without touching any of its edges or corners (internal), six involve two corners and an entire edge (fully external), and all the rest touch only one non-corner edge house (partially external).

Internal (2 total)

  1. 8–12–16 (upwards)
  2. 18–14–10 (downwards)

Fully external (6 total)

  1. 1–37–22 (downwards, First Division, Aries/Taurus)
  2. 1–22–25 (upwards, Second Division, Gemini/Cancer)
  3. 1–25–28 (downwards, Third Division, Leo/Virgo)
  4. 1–28–31 (upwards, Fourth Division, Libra/Scorpio)
  5. 1–31–34 (downwards, Fifth Division, Sagittarius/Capricorn)
  6. 1–34–37 (upwards, Sixth Division, Aquarius/Pisces)

Partially external (12 total)

  1. 20–3–17 (upwards, Aries/Moon)
  2. 21–11–6 (upwards, Taurus/Venus)
  3. 23–4–19 (downwards, Gemini/Saturn)
  4. 24–13–7 (downwards, Cancer/Jupiter)
  5. 26–5–9 (upwards, Leo/Mars)
  6. 27–15–2 (upwards, Virgo/Mercury)
  7. 29–11–6 (downwards, Libra/Venus)
  8. 30–3–17 (downwards, Scorpio/Moon)
  9. 32–13–7 (upwards, Sagittarius/Jupiter)
  10. 33–4–19 (upwards, Capricorn/Saturn)
  11. 35–15–2 (downwards, Aquarius/Mercury)
  12. 36–5–9 (downwards, Pisces/Mars)

Some patterns can be noted regarding the above sets of triangles:

  • If an ideal full triangle touches one corner, it must touch another, with one of its corners in House 1 and one of its edges containing two signs of the Zodiac.
  • If an ideal full triangle touches only one non-corner edge house, then that edge house must be a sign of the Zodiac. One of the other corners must be a non-solar planet, and the last corner must be a non-planetary house in the shared solar orbit of the planet opposite the first, e.g. Moon of Venus and vice versa.
  • Every non-solar planet takes part in two ideal full triangles, one upward and one downward:
    • Mars: Leo (upward) and Pisces (downward)
    • Venus: Taurus (upward) and Libra (downward)
    • Jupiter: Sagittarius (upward) and Cancer (downward)
    • Mercury: Virgo (upward) and Aquarius (downward)
    • Moon: Aries (upward) and Scorpio (downward)
    • Saturn: Capricorn (upward) and Gemini (downward)
  • The internal ideal full triangles only have corners that are in the shared orbits of two non-solar planets, with each corner being adjacent to two signs of the Zodiac.

Ideal Large Horizontal Triangles

Every large horizontal triangle has edges spanning five houses with one horizontal edge, allowing for three houses to form the center of such a triangle. Unlike the other ideal triangles, large triangles are too large to have a base along the edges of the Great Mirror; instead, they can only have one of their corners on the Great Mirror’s edge. Each of these triangles involves two signs of the Zodiac, both of the same modality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable) but of incompatible elements (fire/earth or water/air). In each triangle, the third house is a non-planetary house between two planets in the planetary belt.

Upwards (3 total)

  1. 21–26–16 (Taurus/Leo)
  2. 20–12–33 (Aries/Capricorn)
  3. 8–27–32 (Virgo/Sagittarius)

Downwards (3 total)

  1. 35–30–10 (Scorpio/Aquarius)
  2. 36–14–23 (Gemini/Pisces)
  3. 18–29–24 (Cancer/Libra)

Ideal One-Skip Vertical Triangles

Now that we’re done with horizontal triangles, we have to consider vertical triangles.  Due to the “grain” of houses in the Great Mirror, while it’s easy to state the base of a horizontal triangle in terms of how many houses it covers, vertical triangles are somewhat trickier.  To resolve this, we’ll use the notion of “skips” it takes to go from one house along the vertical base of a vertical triangle to the next house directly above or below it.  Thus, from house 34, it takes one skip to go to 34 to 18, two skips to go from 34 to 18, and three skips to go from 34 to 22.

One-skip vertical triangles fall into types: those touching one sign of the Zodiac and one planet in different orbits, those touching two signs of the Zodiac in the same orbit, those touching non-planetary and non-zodiacal houses within the same orbit, or those touching one planet and two non-planetary and non-zodiacal houses in other planets’ orbits.

Rightwards (19 total)

  1. 34–18–16 (all in orbit of the Moon, touching upper left corner)
  2. 8–22–10 (all in orbit of Mars, touching lower left corner)
  3. 14–12–28 (all in orbit of Jupiter, touching right corner)
  4. 35–19–6 (Aquarius and Saturn)
  5. 19–21–2 (Taurus and Saturn)
  6. 2–23–11 (Gemini and Venus)
  7. 4–11–27 (Virgo and Venus)
  8. 15–4–29 (Libra and Mercury)
  9. 33–6–15 (Capricorn and Mercury)
  10. 36–20–7 (Pisces/Aries in orbit of Saturn)
  11. 3–24–26 (Cancer/Leo in orbit of Venus)
  12. 32–5–30 (Sagittarius/Scorpio in orbit of Mercury)
  13. 17–7–5 (Moon)
  14. 7–9–3 (Mars)
  15. 5–3–15 (Jupiter)
  16. 18–8–1 (Sun)
  17. 1–10–12 (Sun)
  18. 16–1–14 (Sun)
  19. 6–2–4 (all in orbit of the Sun, surrounding the center)

Leftwards (19 total)

  1. 31–14–16 (all in orbit of Mercury, touching upper right corner)
  2. 18–8–37 (all in orbit of Saturn, touching left corner)
  3. 12–25–10 (all in orbit of Venus, touching lower right corner)
  4. 32–5–17 (Sagittarius and the Moon)
  5. 17–7–36 (Pisces and the Moon)
  6. 7–9–20 (Aries and Mars)
  7. 3–24–9 (Cancer and Mars)
  8. 13–26–3 (Leo and Jupiter)
  9. 30–13–5 (Scorpio and Jupiter)
  10. 33–6–35 (Capricorn/Aquarius in orbit of the Moon)
  11. 2–23–21 (Taurus/Gemini in orbit of Mars)
  12. 29–27–4 (Virgo/Libra in orbit of Jupiter)
  13. 15–4–6 (Mercury)
  14. 6–2–19 (Saturn)
  15. 4–11–2 (Venus)
  16. 16–1–18 (Sun)
  17. 1–10–8 (Sun)
  18. 14–12–1 (Sun)
  19. 5–3–7 (all in orbit of the Sun, surrounding the center)

Ideal Two-Skip Vertical Triangles

Two-skip vertical triangles fall into three types: those touching a single corner, those touching two signs of the Zodiac, and those touching three planets. As an interesting result of the astrological qualities of the signs, when a two-skip vertical triangle touches two signs of the Zodiac, the signs it touches are of opposing elements (fire/water, air/earth) but same modality (cardinal, fixed, mutable); all the rightward triangles of this sort touch only earth and air signs, while all the leftward triangles touch only fire and water signs.

Rightwards (7 total)

  1. 35–21–4 (Taurus/Aquarius)
  2. 23–27–6 (Gemini/Virgo)
  3. 33–29–2 (Libra/Capricorn)
  4. 34–8–14 (touching upper left corner)
  5. 22–12–18 (touching lower left corner)
  6. 10–28–16 (touching right corner)
  7. 17–13–9 (Moon/Jupiter/Mars)

Leftwards (7 total)

  1. 24–5–20 (Aries/Cancer)
  2. 30–26–7 (Leo/Scorpio)
  3. 32–3–36 (Sagittarius/Pisces)
  4. 31–12–18 (touching upper right corner)
  5. 25–14–8 (touching lower right corner)
  6. 10–16–37 (touching left corner)
  7. 15–11–19 (Mercury/Venus/Saturn)

Ideal Three-Skip Vertical Triangles

There are only two possible three-skip vertical triangles, one of which points to the right and one of which points to the left, and both of them involve the extreme corners of the Great Mirror.  For this reason, ZT explicitly calls these two triangles “external triangles” in the “Fourth Step”, and notes that these are the “most ideal” of any triangles in the Great Mirror (possibly as a result of how they are the largest possible triangles that can be formed of any size or orientation).

  1. 22–28–34 (rightwards, extremes of Mercury/Venus/Saturn)
  2. 25–31–37 (leftwards, extremes of Moon/Mars/Jupiter)

Ideal Two-Move Skewed Triangles

Just as how we had to judge the size of vertical triangles differently from horizontal triangles, so too do we have to consider skewed triangles (which have neither horizontal nor vertical edges) differently.  For this, we’ll use the notion of “moves”, how many houses one must cross to go from one corner of an ideal skewed triangle to the next.  Thus, between houses 36 and 16 there are two moves, between 36 and 15 there are three moves, and between 36 and 30 there are four moves.  Likewise, because there’s no horizontal or vertical base to such a triangle, it’s hard to say which direction these triangles are “pointing”.  As a result, instead of going with upward/downward/rightward/leftward as we did with the other triangles, we’ll just group them into what they touch or make use of in the Great Mirror.

Single Planet + Planetary Zone + Solar Orbit (12 total)

  1. 17–14–2 (Moon)
  2. 17–8–4 (Moon)
  3. 19–16–3 (Saturn)
  4. 19–10–5 (Saturn)
  5. 9–18–4 (Mars)
  6. 9–12–6 (Mars)
  7. 11–8–5 (Venus)
  8. 11–14–7 (Venus)
  9. 13–10–6 (Jupiter)
  10. 13–16–2 (Jupiter)
  11. 15–12–7 (Mercury)
  12. 15–18–3 (Mercury)

Single Planet + Corner House + Solar Orbit (12 total)

  1. 17–31–4 (Moon)
  2. 17–37–2 (Moon)
  3. 19–34–5 (Saturn)
  4. 19–22–3 (Saturn)
  5. 9–37–6 (Mars)
  6. 9–25–4 (Mars)
  7. 11–22–7 (Venus)
  8. 11–28–5 (Venus)
  9. 13–25–2 (Jupiter)
  10. 13–31–6 (Jupiter)
  11. 15–28–3 (Mercury)
  12. 15–34–7 (Mercury)

Sun + Two Zodiac Signs (12 total)

  1. 1–20–23 (Sun, Aries/Gemini)
  2. 1–21–24 (Sun, Taurus/Cancer)
  3. 1–23–26 (Sun, Gemini/Leo)
  4. 1–24–27 (Sun, Cancer/Virgo)
  5. 1–26–29 (Sun, Leo/Libra)
  6. 1–27–30 (Sun, Virgo/Scorpio)
  7. 1–29–32 (Sun, Libra/Sagittarius)
  8. 1–30–33 (Sun, Scorpio/Capricorn)
  9. 1–32–35 (Sun, Sagittarius/Aquarius)
  10. 1–33–36 (Sun, Capricorn/Pisces)
  11. 1–35–20 (Sun, Aquarius/Aries)
  12. 1–36–21 (Sun, Pisces/Taurus)

Small Single Zodiac (12 total)

  1. 35–8–5 (Aquarius)
  2. 36–16–2 (Pisces)
  3. 20–20–6 (Aries)
  4. 21–18–3 (Taurus)
  5. 23–12–7 (Gemini)
  6. 24–8–4 (Cancer)
  7. 26–14–2 (Leo)
  8. 27–10–5 (Virgo)
  9. 29–16–3 (Libra)
  10. 30–12–6 (Scorpio)
  11. 32–18–4 (Sagittarius)
  12. 33–14–7 (Capricorn)

Ideal Three-Move Skewed Triangles

Two Zodiac Signs (6 total)

  1. 20–24–5 (Aries/Cancer)
  2. 23–27–6 (Gemini/Virgo)
  3. 26–30–7 (Leo/Scorpio)
  4. 29–33–2 (Libra/Capricorn)
  5. 32–36–3 (Sagittarius/Pisces)
  6. 35–21–4 (Aquarius/Taurus)

Small Zodiac-Planet (12 total)

  1. 20–11–16 (Aries, Venus)
  2. 21–17–12 (Taurus, Moon)
  3. 23–13–18 (Gemini, Jupiter)
  4. 24–19–14 (Cancer, Saturn)
  5. 26–15–8 (Leo, Mercury)
  6. 27–9–16 (Virgo, Mars)
  7. 29–17–10 (Libra, Moon)
  8. 30–11–18 (Scorpio, Venus)
  9. 32–19–12 (Sagittarius, Saturn)
  10. 33–13–8 (Capricorn, Jupiter)
  11. 35–9–14 (Aquarius, Mars)
  12. 36–15–10 (Pisces, Mercury)

Large Single Zodiac (12 total)

  1. 35–31–3 (Aquarius)
  2. 36–22–4 (Pisces)
  3. 20–34–4 (Aries)
  4. 21–25–5 (Taurus)
  5. 23–37–5 (Gemini)
  6. 24–28–6 (Cancer)
  7. 26–22–6 (Leo)
  8. 27–31–7 (Virgo)
  9. 29–25–7 (Libra)
  10. 30–34–2 (Scorpio)
  11. 32–28–2 (Sagittarius)
  12. 33–37–3 (Capricorn)

Ideal Four-Move Skewed Triangles

Elemental Zodiac Groups (4 total)

  1. 32–26–20 (Aries/Leo/Sagittarius, i.e. fire signs)
  2. 33–27–21 (Taurus/Virgo/Capricorn, i.e. earth signs)
  3. 35–23–29 (Gemini/Libra/Aquarius, i.e. air signs)
  4. 36–24–30 (Cancer/Scorpio/Pisces, i.e. water signs)

Large Zodiac-Planet (12 total)

  1. 20–15–25 (Aries, Mercury)
  2. 21–13–34 (Taurus, Jupiter)
  3. 23–17–28 (Gemini, Moon)
  4. 24–15–37 (Cancer, Mercury)
  5. 26–19–31 (Leo, Saturn)
  6. 27–17–22 (Virgo, Moon)
  7. 29–9–34 (Libra, Mars)
  8. 30–19–25 (Scorpio, Saturn)
  9. 32–11–37 (Sagittarius, Venus)
  10. 33–9–28 (Capricorn, Mars)
  11. 35–13–22 (Aquarius, Jupiter)
  12. 36–11–31 (Pisces, Venus)

Ideal Principle Triangles

Although not explicitly called an ideal triangle as such, the placements of Sisamoro and Senamira around the Great Mirror is suggestive of one. ZT states that Sisamoro should be placed above the Great Mirror as the corner of an upwards equilateral triangle formed with houses 28 and 37, and Senamira likewise but downwards beneath the Great Mirror. Unlike some of the ideal triangles listed in the “Fourth Step” which are explicitly without dashed lines indicating them in Plate III, the triangles formed with the Principles do have those dashed lines, suggesting that these, too, form a kind of ideal triangle, albeit a nonstandard one that cannot be formed with any other houses in the Great Mirror. Technically, these seats form four ideal triangles each (one for each “layer” of the Great Mirror through its equator), but ZT suggests that it is only the largest possible triangle with the equator as its base that counts.

Given the importance of the leftmost and rightmost houses in the Great Mirror as being representative, respectively, of Saturn/Death and Jupiter/Life (akin to the bottom and top of the Wheel of Fortune in Tarot imagery), it might make sense that the Principles would find themselves in alignment with these points and no others. This may be a hint as to how the Principles, if drawn, are to be interpreted.


Whew.  Assuming that I counted them right, didn’t miss any, and didn’t repeat any, all the above would yield a total of 264 possible ideal triangles (maybe 266 if we also allow for the Principles to form ideal triangles as well and if they are drawn in a Great Mirror).  And, uh…yeah, this is a lot.  Even just accounting for what the triangles are and a handful of patterns among them, this is a lot to note and remember—but that’s just the point, we don’t need to remember or memorize any of this stuff.  Again, just like with learning the significations of the Numbers and the semantic fields of the houses, all we really need to do is account for the fundamental patterns that play themselves out in the Great Mirror.  On top of that, while surely investigating all possible ideal triangles would be a noble thing to do, ZT gives us a handful of things to look out for which would highlight and whittle down the ideal triangles to what would be most important—note how many of those pieces of advice stated two Intelligences/primitive Numbers/doublets/nilleds, as opposed to just one.  If you have just one tile like that, then it could form any number of triangles, but with two, it’s (almost) trivial to see what the third might be (to result in one or maybe two triangles depending on the spacing of those two given points).

Earlier I mentioned, borrowing astrological terminology, how we might consider these triad-based relationships of tiles that fall as giving a sort of “accidental” significance to any given tile (i.e. any tile relative to other tiles), as opposed to the “essential” significance given by the house a given tile falls into (i.e. any tile on its own where it is).  I think that’s a useful way to consider this approach of using ideal triangles, but it raises the question of whether the houses themselves come into play when determining the meaning of a given ideal triangle, and personally, I’m inclined to think that there is.  ZT doesn’t say as much, but then, ZT doesn’t say a whole lot, either.  I think it would make sense for such a relationship to account for all of this together, which would indeed require a good amount of intuition as well as investigation on the part of the diviner.  While the number of ideal triangles and the possible triads of tiles isn’t really infinite (though it is indeed likely a vast number), ZT is absolutely being honest with us when it says:

…the care one takes in inspecting them will cost time and cause trouble, though ever less and less until none at all, as such calculations become ever more familiar. On the other hand, as such cares and costs decrease, the variety and richness increase, above all the infallibility of what such results will reveal.

This is something to definitely take care with when trying out the divinatory method of ZT, and given the cosmological structure of the Great Mirror, I think there’s a good amount of stuff to contemplate and consider.  If you think I’ve missed any triangles or overcounted any, or if there are any patterns or qualities you think are important that I didn’t get around in saying for particular kinds of ideal triangles, dear reader, please do say so in the comments!

Insights from Grese’s “Corpus Hermeticum XIII and Early Christian Literature”

Normally, the bulk of my research into classical Hermeticism consists of diving into the footnotes helpfully provided by Brian Copenhaver, M. David Litwa, Clement Salaman, Jean-Pierre Mahé, Hans Dieter Betz, and the like in their various translations of their books and topics.  This generally leads me back to various other books, academics, and the like, generally in the form of papers that have been published at some point in the past three decades (a lot has changed—for the better!—in modern scholarship on Hermeticism), and to various extents, I get quite a fair bit out of it, especially from scholars like Wouter Hanegraaf or Christian Bull.  On occasion, though, I get to something rather niche but rather well-built that falls outside of this, sometimes involving purchases on AbeBooks or even more obscure third-party sellers due to stuff I honestly can’t track down elsewhere.  Not that far back, I had the pleasure of doing just that for a particular monograph by William C. Grece, Corpus Hermeticum XIII and Early Christian Literature (Brill, 1979).

Grese’s monograph (a revised version of his Ph.D. dissertation) not a particularly weighty tome, but it is one I found particularly enjoyable.  Rather than trying at some expansive view of Hermeticism as a whole, Grese’s book focuses on the text of Book XIII of the Corpus Hermeticum (or CH XIII, itself entitled “A secret dialogue of Hermēs Trismegistos on the mountain to his son Tat: on being born again, and on the promise to be silent”). CH XIII is one of the “big three texts”, as I consider it, when it comes to the notion of spiritual ascent and salvation, along with CH I and Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth (from the Nag Hammadi Codices, specifically NHC VI.6, which I also abbreviate as D89).  To be sure, much of the “philosophical/theoretical” Hermetic literature that exists from the classical period talks about matters of theology, theosophy, divinity, and the like, and many others do at least lip service or give a nod to the notion of divine ascent and unification with the Divine, but it’s really these three texts that really get into the nitty-gritty of what that looks or sounds like as an actual ritual or cultic practice—although not all in exactly the same way.  In addition, it’s these three texts (but CH I and CH XIII more than D89) that get into notions of vices and virtues, which has been an exceptionally fruitful for hashing out notions of Hermetic morality or even prayers:

  1. (July 2019) The Twelve Irrational Tormentors and the Ten (or Seven) Rational Powers
  2. (March 2020) On Hermetic Tormentors and Egyptian Sins
  3. (August 2020) Twelve, Ten, and Seven: Clarifying and Rethinking the Tormentors from CH XIII
  4. (November 2021) The Hermetic Refranations and Repentances

And, when it comes to prayers, CH XIII is the source for us of the ὑμνῳδία κρύπτη, the “secret hymnody”, one of the few extant prayers given to us in the classical Hermetic texts (right up there with the Triple Trisagion from CH I or the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the end of the Perfect Sermon, NHC VI.7, or PGM III).  It’s a fascinating text—although problematic at times in understanding how it posits a relationship between us where we are and Divinity as it is and how we get from one point to the other—and Grese’s book is an in-depth, profoundly detailed approach to understanding every line and word in the text.

To be fair, as evident from the title, that isn’t Grese’s only aim.  As he says in his introduction:

The parallels between C.H. XIII and the NT [New Testament] to which Lagrange points really only show that C.H. XIII and ECL [Early Christian Literature] both made use of similar religious language and that both were part of the same world of Hellenistic religions.  Thus the study of the language and message of C.H. XIII should help us understand the religious context of ECL and also ECL itself.

This study then is an attempt to use C.H. XIII to increase our understanding of ECL…

But, as he notes in his conclusion:

When Richard Reitzenstein published Poimandres in 1904, one of his explicit intentions was to awaken NT scholars to the religions of the Hellenistic world and to the importance that they hold for understanding the NT.  Reitzenstein chose the Hermetica for this purpose because he considered them to be one of the best surviving examples of Hellenistic religion.  The parallels between the Hermetic and ECL thus became a way to study the influence of the Hellenistic world on primitive Christianity.

It has not been my intention to prove again Reitzenstein’s thesis.  Instead, by collecting the many parallels between ECL and C.H. XIII in order to make them more accessible to students of ECL I have continued the work Reitzenstein began.  There have been some, as we noted, who argued against Reitzenstein that this or that parallel was the result of the NT influencing C.H. XIII, but nowhere in our analysis did we find any evidence that would support such a claim.

Even if Grese intended to use CH XIII to help understand the world of early Christian literature, he has certainly done the work in also understanding CH XIII itself on its own terms, especially in light of other classical Hermetic texts both from the CH and elsewhere.  Besides, let’s be honest, even if we don’t take the claims of C.H. Dodd from his The Bible and the Greeks as seriously as he himself does, even if we don’t necessarily take tight parallels between Hermetic and Roman Empire-period Jewish or Christian stuff as being evidence of influence, Grese makes the great point that Hermeticism and various other religious movements at the time participated in this overall Hellenistic (not the same thing as Hellenic) framework of religion, faith, spirituality, and ritual practice.

The bulk of the Grese’s book is given to a thorough, line-by-line (even word-by-word) breakdown and analysis of the content of CH XIII, and pointing out parallels with various bits of Christian scripture and gospel as might be appropriate.  It’s far too much to point out, but I’d like to share some of the more interesting insights, claims, and conclusions I personally got from this book, especially as it might line up or disagree with my own understanding of CH XIII.  I present them in no particular order, but they should be useful for coming up with some new insights for those who want to more deeply dive into the ideas, theories, and models of CH XIII.

  • The are are three views in the CH about how humanity can come to know God.  One view is that humanity can come to know God “by studying the perfection of the stars in the sky” i.e. astrology (e.g. CH III).; a second is that one cannot come to know God through studying the sensible/perceptible cosmos but only through the intellectual/noetic cosmos via the divine Mind (Nous).  Both of these views presuppose an innate ability for humanity to know God; however, the view of CH XIII denies this presupposition and says, quite explicitly, that “no one can be saved before being born again” (CH XIII.1), that without regeneration/rebirth into a new divine body there is no possibility of coming to know God at all.  Otherwise, without such regeneration/rebirth, one is held in a form that is forever cut off from such knowledge.
  • The corporeal, material body we have is born from the twelve signs of the Zodiac, each sign contributing a particular body part (e.g. Aries the head or Virgo the belly) as well as a particular vice, a particular irrational tormentor of matter.  The divine, noetic body, on the other hand, which is the body into which one is reborn “when God wishes” (CH XIII.2), is composed of ten holy powers.  The process of rebirth in CH XIII is that of constructing a new immaterial body composed from “parts” in which one can live immortally as Nous, much as how we are living now in a material body composed from “parts” in which we live mortally.
  • Because of this, unlike CH I, there is no notion in CH XIII of a primordial “fall of man”, where humanity was once able to know God directly but fell into matter and corporeal bodies which cut it off from such a direct knowing of God.  Rather, CH XIII has the notion that souls are part of the cosmos and naturally come to occupy corporeal bodies, and so there was never a “fall” to begin with; rather than us falling to the bottom of the barrel, we were naturally made at the bottom already, and so while we must still climb up, it’s not that we’re climbing back up because there’s no prior time at which we were already up there.  This means that there is no notion in CH XIII of us having “original sin” or otherwise deserving to suffer—it’s just the way we’re made down here through ultimately natural processes.
  • In short: humanity is not inherently divine, but becomes divine through rebirth.  Revelation is not a remembering of some innate knowledge, but coming into something never-before-experienced.  We are not at fault through hubris or some other crime for our fallen state because we never fell; rather, we are made the way we are by the Zodiac, and it is on us to seek the help of God in undoing the creation of the Zodiac into something new beyond it.  The problem that CH XIII aims to solve is not that we are bound to some fatalistic, deterministic cosmos from which we need to be set free, but rather that we are born into bodies that prevent us from knowing and being with God directly, which just so happens to keep us bound in a fatalistic, deterministic cosmos.  In order to escape the power of the Zodiac into which and by which we are born, we must be born again without the Zodiac.
  • Although the twelve irrational tormentors are chased away by the ten holy powers, it’s not that there’s some notion of a power chasing off a particular tormentor; otherwise, there’d be little numeric or numerological sense in something in greater numbers being routed by something in lesser numbers.  Rather, the twelve irrational tormentors are considered as one whole group, which is chased out by another group composed of ten powers; CH XIII phrases this as one group against another group, rather than twelve forces against ten forces.  Said another way: that there are twelve signs of the Zodiac is just an illusion that obscures the whole Zodiac’s own essential unity, and so the twelve tormentors are really just one—just as the ten holy powers are.
  • There’s something of a notion of “the Hermetic elect” in CH XIII that we don’t see in other texts: the whole process of rebirth (which is essential for coming to know God and achieve salvation) entirely dependent on God, such that not only do we need the help of God in initiating or accomplishing it but that it is itself done by God, and moreover, God chooses who is to be reborn and when.  This sort of approach is not unheard of in some mystery religions of the classical world, and is certainly extant in some gnostic groups regarding who is or isn’t able to be saved.  Whether this is technically true or indicative of only some limited number of people ever being able to be saved is not able to be known at this time.
  • Like other texts in the CH, Nous is the means by which we can come to know and “see” Divinity.  However, unlike other texts which claim/presuppose that all humans are born with Nous (even if inactive and requiring activation) or which can be given Nous, CH XIII claims that one becomes Nous (not unlike the view of the latter part of CH X), and (unlike CH X) this can be done while still alive in this life before dying.  In this, God (as Nous itself) is only able to be known through the act of noeîn, which is only possible to those who are themselves Nous.
  • Although many people (myself included) like coming up with elaborate hierarchies or diagrams illustrating the various connections or relationships various hypostases or concepts might have (think of all those elaborate charts common in Neoplatonic texts or commentaries to illustrate what does what, where, and how), CH XIII is super vague when it comes to distinguishing or defining terms like “nous”, “logos”, “soul”, “spirit”, and the like.  For the most part, these terms are interchangeable in CH XIII, preventing the declaration of a clear hierarchy of concepts in CH XIII.  This is totally fine; after all, the purpose of CH XIII is less to establish a fixed cosmological or theological doctrine and more a ritual reenactment and clarification of the process and qualities of salvation.  This is especially prominent with the term “Logos”, which in other Hermetic texts “is the divine revealer who brings to man the truth about God” and “also functions as the creator of the world and as the mediator between God and man” (per Grese), but in CH XIII is equivalent to “Nous” while also being the means by which one offers “spoken sacrifices” to God, the “divine agent involved in prayer”.
  • Grese points out the same difficulties as I have before regarding the ten powers, not as being some simple set of ten but rather as seven plus three, where the final three (Goodness with Life and Light) are not virtues like the first seven (knowledge, joy, self-control, etc.).  The use of ten seems more numerological than cosmical here, with the first seven powers being an echo of some sort of cosmic/divine ascent through the spheres as in CH I.
  • Salvation, in CH XIII, consists of undoing the material body of the Zodiac and creating a divine immortal body.  This is done, not as in CH I by an ascent of the soul through the spheres, but a descent of divinity (via the ten divine powers) into a human.  Prior to rebirth, humanity is dominated by the twelve irrational tormentors; after rebirth, the ten holy powers.  Once reborn, the one who is reborn is no longer bound to the body and, thus, to the body’s sense-perceptions alone or to the turbulence and confusion of the physical world in general.
  • Tat’s question in CH XIII.14 that Hermēs rebukes indicates that being reborn is not a surefire guarantee of salvation.  Unlike some gnostic beliefs that suggest that those with an element of the divine cannot lose it, Hermēs’ reply suggests that even one having been (re)born into a divine, immortal, immaterial body of Nous can still do wrong and become profaned.  This is, however, also unlike the Christian demand to continue living a holy life after having been baptized, because for the Christian, even once reborn, one is still inhabiting the material body which can still sin; for the author of CH XIII, this is not the case, because once reborn, what happens in or with the physical body is ultimately rendered irrelevant once one is reborn into something that so utterly transcends it.
  • Hermēs reply in CH XIII.15 (“that you hasten to strike the tent is good”) to Tat’s request to be taught the hymn of the powers is super weird.  Here, given what we know of the divine ascent from CH I.26, this means that such a prayer can only truly be given by the Nous or otherwise out of or beyond the material body, even if the material body participates in it.  Moreover, this hymn is not something that Poimandrēs taught Hermēs; rather, it is something that Hermēs naturally learns to do on his own, but having been authorized to do so by Poimandrēs due to Hermēs’ own rebirth.  In other words, the hymn itself is not a revelation, but something that naturally arises as a result of revelation.
  • The hymn of CH XIII is almost certainly pulled from some other source, and is also compiled from two or more different sources, such that CH XIII.17 seems to be a more public thing sung by a Hermetic community, while CH XIII.18 being an elaboration of the themes from earlier in CH XIII, and Tat’s own praise in CH XIII.21 being something abbreviated (if not partially lost) from some other kind of hymning/praising/thanksgiving.  This is evident not only in changes of style but also changes in how the speaker considers a fundamental monism or dualism of the divine world with/against the material one.  There may well be corruption in the hymn of CH XIII.18, too, not just elsewhere, given how it seems to contain some of the holy powers from earlier in CH XIII but not all of them, suggesting that the hymn was not, as a whole, independently composed apart from the rest of CH XIII.
  • Based on how Hermēs calls on the holy powers (the “parts” that compose his divine, immortal, noetic body into which he was reborn) within him to sing with and through him indicates that they have not “taken him over”; Hermēs still retains his own individuality and will, and is not merely a puppet for the powers.  Rather, these powers come together to hymn God, and it is truly them that is singing the hymn through Hermēs; after all, it is that the holy powers have come into him, and in him do they sing.  This is why Hermēs calls on them to sing, in addition to drawing them down so that they become/remain active.
  • Although the hymn of CH XIII is, on the whole, one of thanksgiving, certain bits of the hymn don’t make sense; why should the hymn request for salvation and illumination if they’ve already been achieved through rebirth, that rebirth being that which authorizes/permits one to sing such a hymn in the first place?  Grese hypothesizes that CH XIII is indicative of a cultic practice where those who have already been initiated through rebirth remember and emphasize the meaning and method of such rebirth, as a part of which they sing such a hymn, so as to remain in such an enlightened, saved state (not unlike the final two requests of the Prayer of Thanksgiving at the end of the Perfect Sermon).
  • The final statement of Hermēs (“you know yourself and our father intellectually”, νοερῶς ἔγνως σεαυὸν καἰ τὸν πατέρα τὸν ἡμέτερον) is something of a “holy word”, a sort of Hermetic formula equivalent to the Delphic maxim “know thyself”.  This is something that probably can be used to ritually conclude either an initiation or a general Hermetic celebration of gnōsis generally.  However, while in CH I (in agreement with various gnostic traditions) “know thyself” is a matter of someone recognizing the divine already present within themselves and coming to realize their own inherent divinity, CH XIII reinterprets this to mean that knowing oneself is only possible once there is something at all to meaningfully know, which is God and which is facilitated only by and with God.

Elements in the Geomantic Shield Chart

In the last post on technique, I went over a technique that’s mostly been underdeveloped and underused in Western geomancy, the technique of reading the triads in the Shield Chart, which is basically an expansion of the same technique used to read the Witnesses and Judge applied to the Mothers, Daughters, and their resulting Nieces.  This is a way to get more detail out of the Shield Chart and not let those other 12 figures outside the Court go to waste.  However, between the triads and the Via Puncti, those are pretty much the only methods we have in Western geomancy to read the first 12 figures in the Shield Chart, which is kind of a shame.  Then again, given the West’s focus on astrology and bringing astrology into everything, this shouldn’t be surprised; the field of astrological geomancy and the use of the House Chart is well-explored and has numerous techniques developed to read it.

Geomancy would already be dead if it couldn’t be expanded upon or revitalized with new techniques, and there’s nothing stopping us from trying out new ways to read a geomantic chart so long as these things fit with the general theory and framework of geomancy.  Since the House Chart already has plenty of techniques while the Shield Chart has a dearth of them, let’s try working on the Shield Chart techniques.

First things first: what do we call the “houses” of the Shield Chart?  I personally dislike the word “house” for them, even though I know that’s the term used, but it leads to easy confusion with the houses House Chart, especially given that there are multiple ways to assign the figures from the Shield Chart to the houses of the House Chart.  We could use the term “field” to describe the places where we put the Mothers, Daughters, Nieces, and Court.  After all, houses are built upon fields, right?  Thus, the first field is the place of the First Mother, second field to the Second Mother, and so forth to the sixteenth field to the Sentence.  Alternatively, and perhaps more preferably, we could use the other way of calling them “the first figure”, “the second figure”, and so forth to “the sixteenth figure”.  It’s this latter method I’ll be using the former to describe the individual places of the figures in the Shield Chart; besides, fields and shields go hand-in-hand if you know your heraldry.

So, let’s say we want to inspect the figures of the Shield Chart.  We know we can inspect them in triads, where we look at two parent figures and the child figure they add up to, but we don’t have a way of interpreting the fields on their own just yet.  While figuring out the significations of each field in the chart is a complicated task that rings a bit too strongly of the houses in the House Chart, we can start with something simpler by classifying the fields in other ways.  Probably the way that comes to mind first is using the four elements in ways that fit very closely with other geomantic techniques.  We’d go about this pretty straightforwardly: assign the first field to Fire, the second to Air, the third to Water, the fourth to Earth, and repeat the cycle from there.  Thus:

  1. Field I (First Mother): Fire
  2. Field II (Second Mother): Air
  3. Field III (Third Mother): Water
  4. Field IV (Fourth Mother): Earth
  5. Field V (First Daughter): Fire
  6. Field VI (Second Daughter): Air
  7. Field VII (Third Daughter): Water
  8. Field VIII (Fourth Daughter): Earth
  9. Field IX (First Niece): Fire
  10. Field X (Second Niece): Air
  11. Field XI (Third Niece): Water
  12. Field XII (Fourth Niece): Earth
  13. Field XIII (Right Witness): Fire
  14. Field XIV (Left Witness): Air
  15. Field XV (Judge): Water
  16. Field XVI (Sentence): Earth

Or, presented in a more tabular format:

Mothers Daughters Nieces Court
Fire First First First Right Witness
Air Second Second Second Left Witness
Water Third Third Third Judge
Earth Fourth Fourth Fourth Sentence

This is a method I dimly recall being used in at least some forms of Arabic geomancy (raml), but it’s not hard to see the logic being pretty simple to arrive at.  After all, we assign each of the four rows of each figure to the four elements in the same way, and there are instances of the same logic being used independently by Western geomancers, such as John Case in his 1697 work “The Angelical Guide” (book III, chapter 4).  While this kind of assignment of the elements to the fields of the Shield Chart is pretty straightforward, the real task comes in figuring out what we can do with this kind of thing.

For one, in any given Shield Chart, we can guess that a figure is well-placed in a field that agrees with its own element.  So, for instance, Laetitia (a figure of Fire) present in the fifth field as the First Daughter (a place of Fire) is much stronger than it’d be in the seventh field as the Third Daughter (a place of Water).  In case you’ve forgotten your elements for the figures:

  • Fire: Laetitia, Cauda Draconis, Fortuna Minor, Amissio
  • Air: Rubeus, Puer, Coniunctio, Acquisitio
  • Water: Albus, Puella, Via, Populus
  • Earth: Tristitia, Caput Draconis, Carcer, Fortuna Maior

Generally, what kinds of effects could we assume from the combination of elements from the figure and the field it’s found in?  First, we need to remember that an element in the classical sense is composed of two qualities, heat (hot/cold) and moisture (moist/dry):

Hot Cold
Moist Air Water
Dry Fire Earth

So, we know that Fire and Air share the same heat but different moisture, Fire and Earth share the same moisture but different heat, and Fire and Water share nothing at all in common.  Given this, we can venture the following general schema:

  • Elements of figure and field completely agree: (e.g. Fire and Fire) The figure is empowered and strengthened in a way that allows it to express its nature more completely and forcefully.
  • Elements of figure and field agree in heat and disagree in moisture: (e.g. Fire and Air) The figure is complemented and aided in a rounded way to have aid, but is transformed in the process so that goals and intent change over time to compensate.
  • Elements of figure and field agree in moisture and disagree in heat: (e.g. Fire and Earth) The figure is balanced and stabilized leading to stagnation and cessation of action, but with the potential for future growth that must be unlocked or initiated by an outside force.
  • Elements of figure and field completely disagree: (e.g. Fire and Water) The figure is undone and harmed so as to be weak and powerless, being made to act unwillingly and become something it does not want to be.

Of course, this could be refined by taking the actual elements themselves into account instead of just noting whether their qualities differ or agree, and this should definitely be modified by taking the actual figures themselves into account and whether they’re a parent or a child of another figure.  Thus, although a Fire figure in a Fire field will be benefitted in many of the same ways as a Water figure in a Water field, how that figure will be empowered will change by virtue of the element itself as well as what that element is.  Laetitia as the First Mother (Fire figure and Fire field) will be amply empowered by self-assurance and optimism of one’s own being, while Rubeus as the Second Mother (Air figure and Air field) will be empowered by encouraging lots of activity and discussion in ways that aren’t actually destructive but more of inducing healthy change, like rapid exploration.

In this way, we can get an overall idea of how good or bad a situation is, or how restrained or freely it can become, based on inspecting each of the figures in each of their fields and how the elements of both compare.  If a majority of the figures are in fields that they agree elementally with, then we know that the situation as a whole will be filled with power, freedom, direct activity, and declarations of self.  If a majority of the figures are in fields they disagree with, then much of the situation will be troubled by restraint, red tape, paperwork, coercion, and general weakness.

This technique can be combined with the Via Puncti not only to determine the four root causes of a situation, but also to expand on what exactly is going on with them to cause an issue.  For instance, if in a reading to determine who will win a court case, the Via Puncti Ignis (indicating the root drive or cause) points to Laetitia as the Third Mother, we know that Laetitia is a figure of Fire in a field of Water, indicating that Laetitia here is severely damaged by its placement and cannot act according to how it wants to act.  Thus, we can surmise that the core of the issue is that the court case was started by someone impinging on the rights of happiness and freedom of someone else, and continuing to act freely or joyfully caused problems that led to the court case.

Another way we can use this technique of measuring the elements of fields versus figures can be used in triad interpretation.  Consider the fact that the child figure of any two parents not only shows the result of two parties interacting but also the current state of affairs in a given matter; further, it’s written in endless geomantic texts that the expression of a child figure is modified based on its parents, and vice versa.  If we consider the elements of the Niece figures in their proper fields, we can get another level of interpretation on how that particular triad is evolving.  If the Niece is strengthened in its field, it empowers its parents and makes the whole Triad more favorable or easier to deal with; if the Niece is weakened, it debilitates the triad and makes it harder to deal with.  Thus, consider two examples for the First Triad:

  1. Say we have the figures Fortuna Minor (First Mother), Coniunctio (Second Mother), and Amissio (First Niece).  We know that the elements of the Mothers agree with their fields (Fire figure in Fire field, Air figure in Air field) but that the element of the Niece disagrees with its field (Water figure in Fire field).  In this case, because the Niece is so impeded elementally, it shows that the interaction of its Mothers really isn’t nearly as good as it’d seem; we might say that the querent was doing more-or-less fine, but having to deal with interaction and communicating to people is actually causing them more issues than its worth, causing them to lose their fortune instead of just cutting losses.  Fortuna Minor isn’t a bad figure, and it’s always better to cut your losses, but it can be tricky to deal with, and when handled badly, you not only lose what you can afford but you lose what you want to keep.  Thus, because the Niece here is so debilitated elementally, it holds back the otherwise powerful significations of its Mothers.
  2. Say we have the figures Fortuna Minor (First Mother), Albus (Second Mother), and Cauda Draconis (First Niece).  Fortuna Minor as First Mother is a good placement (Fire figure in Fire field), that Albus as Second Mother isn’t horrible (Water figure in Air field), and that Cauda Draconis as First Niece is also a good placement (Fire figure in Fire field).  Normally, this combination of figures would indicate some sort of calamity or accident befalling the querent leading them to become distant, detached, and removed from activity, but Cauda Draconis is well-suited to being here, turning its normally horrible indication to something easier to deal with.  Thus, we might surmise that the querent was gearing down from fast-paced activity, finally and capably brought things to a reasonable end, and can now rest on their laurels and act as a mentor if they act at all.  Because the Niece is so empowered and ennobled here, it empowers and benefits the normally awkward or painful indications of its Mothers and its Triad generally.

In fact, when we look at the Triads generally, we can mark each triad by the Niece involved in each.  Going by the same right-to-left association of fields with the elements, we can do the same with the four Triads: the First Triad can be given the elemental quality of Fire, the Second Triad to Air, the Third Triad to Water, and the Fourth Triad to Earth; these are the same elemental significations of the fields of the Nieces involved in each Triad.  Thus, we can not only interpret Triads elementally now, but can also see how certain figures would be better off in a particular situation based on how well the element of a figure agrees with its triad as well as its field.

On that note, could we do a similar kind of elemental association of the Court?  The Court, after all, is just another triad, but it’s not one of the four triads that Robert Fludd talks about (or invented?).  Well, if you consider all steps of addition in the Shield Chart to be a Triad, then if we go right-to-left and top-to-bottom, then we have eight triads total:

  1. First Triad: First Mother + Second Mother = First Niece
  2. Second Triad: Third Mother + Fourth Mother = Second Niece
  3. Third Triad: First Daughter + Second Daughter = Third Niece
  4. Fourth Triad: Third Daughter + Fourth Daughter = Fourth Niece
  5. Fifth Triad: First Niece + Second Niece = Right Witness
  6. Sixth Triad: Third Niece + Fourth Niece = Left Witness
  7. Seventh Triad: Right Witness + Left Witness = Judge
  8. Eighth Triad: Judge + First Mother = Sentence

Thus, if the first four triads are assigned to the elements in the usual order, we can do the same for the latter four triads: Fifth Triad to Fire, Sixth Triad to Air, Seventh Triad to Water, and Eighth Triad to Earth.  However, these “extra” or “minor” triads are of considerably less importance in terms of being “triads” than the first four, as the Court should be thought of as a little removed from the details and actors and focused more on overall action and results.  Still, the interpretation of these extra triads-qua-triads could be something for other geomancers to try out and see if they get any more useful information that couldn’t be obtained from the four triads and the Court.